The world was shaken, the sky shattered, and Team BAJA could only look with lament at the broken moon in the twilight sky. Their deal with Timeaus Randor had left them mentally shaken, their fight against the cultists from the Elder Elemental Eye left them exhausted. The group retreated back to the sanctuary of Aurelia DuMont’s estate within the Gold district of Taswell. Silence across a long and dark night, unsure of their apparent futures.

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Jimmy Moon rested his head on the grassy patches outside of the tall, white marble home of Aurelia DuMont. The half-elf druid stared at the star-filled but moon-less night, gripping his wooden totem of Lystrata. His chest had grown heavy from heartbreak, a sense of failure and loss. He did not know what to think, he felt lost and isolated. When the party returned, the druid barely took the time to mend his wounds and proceeded to immerse himself in whatever ounce of natural surroundings were available. His friends did not interrupt his lament, distracted by their own worries.

Arcaelus Blackfire gently lowered himself into the porcelain tub, the hot water soothed the aches and pains in his muscles and joints. The wizard sat silently in the steam filled room and retrieved the human skull that housed the spirit of intellect from his pack. The entity was seldom summoned or awakened, mostly out of fear of others finding and abusing such ancient knowledge.

“Hey, Bob?” Arcaelus called.

Two red dots occupied the empty eye sockets, and a ghostly voice filled the room. “How may I assist you, boss?”

“The moon is broken, shattered would probably describe it better. I had heard that there was something special about the moon.”

The skull remained silent for a few moments, almost pondering its response. “The moon serves as an anchor for the veil that surrounds this dimension against foreign ones, while the various planes may occasionally bud into this one, it was meant to shield this world from less pleasant creatures.”

“You mean, The Enemy?”

“Not many are alive now to remember this crucial fact, well except for maybe several pointy-eared elves. A broken moon, especially one destroyed, will leave this plane vulnerable.”

Arcaelus sighed. The fight is not over yet.

“Bob, what sort of information you have on the moon goddess? What role was she supposed to serve?”

“Lystrata is the embodiment of the moon. Stories and myths speak of her as the wielder of the second Light, her task was to bring light into the dark and illuminate the way for the lost and seeking. The Veil was established shortly after the end of the War, the few remaining elven high mages wove it into the tapestry of the moon itself. Since then, planar travel has become restrictive compared to a thousand years ago. You have limited time to salvage the situation before they invade.” The spirit warned.

“Would you know if a way to repair the damage?”

“If you’re asking for the specifics for a ritual, no, I do not. Elven High Magic was something kept exclusive to the elves, forms of circle magic exist as radical offshoots of the original. Such has magic has not been since the time of the War or ancient Azurith.”

The wizard pondered in the now lurk warm waters, the skin on his hands had become wrinkled yet he remained dissatisfied with the lack of resolution. He exited the tub and changed his clothes, digesting the information provided by the spirit.

Until a thought came, “what if we could use the gems?”

The lights from the skull’s eyes flared brightly. “Absolutely not! Under no circumstances should you rely on them. After all this time, have you not learned how dangerous they are?”

“Can you tell me more about the gem we acquired today?”

“Describe it to me, what were you able to discern from your observations?”

“It was almost black in color, it felt different than the others in our possession. There were lots of energy discharged from it while the cultists conducted their elaborate ritual. It seemed as if they were concentrating on a powerful summoning spell.”

“It was the Eldritch Gem,” the skull confirmed. “A gem that acts as an arcane conduit, it stores energy and can unleash it. It empowers and heightens the powers of other gems nearby, along with infusing its wielder with either greater physical traits or mental ones. It is possibly one of the most dangerous of all the gems. Where is it now?”

“In the hands of Timeaus Randor,” the wizard sighed.

“WHAT?!” The skull shouted, causing a small rumble in the guest bathroom.

“It was by choice. We either gave it to him, or we run of the greater risk of dying and that maniacal prick possessing all of our current gems.”

“Impressive, you can think strategically,” the skull chuckled.

Meanwhile, Brightiron raided the pantry for food and drink. The goliath barbarian sought smaller distractions this evening, unsatisfied with the turn of events in that underground cathedral. The warrior was lost in thought, there were strong foes everywhere, and the warrior could do little against them. The notion left a soul taste, unlike the cured ham and ale that was scarfed down a moment before. I need to be stronger.

Rainer set off to find his longtime friend Dodger, he knew the old halfling wasn’t going to die in such a scandal but all the same, he worried. The assassin found his way through many of the city districts, many suffered considerable damage from the riots and hordes of monstrosities unleashed by the cultists. The halfling found his way back to the familiar shop and surprisingly an open cellar door. Rainer cautiously entered and found Dodger still in front of his desk, though with half a dozen others he did not recognize cleaning and straightening the establishment.

“I see you survived,” Rainer greeted.

The older halfling didn’t look from his stack of papers. “It’ll take more than some wandering cultists to finish me off.”

Rainer chuckled, “no you’re right, it would take much more to finish you off.”

“Rainer, when was the last time you visited them?”

The assassin remained silent for a moment, his gaze shifted to the stone floor of the cellar, unable to answer.

“It’s not they’re going anywhere, but you should probably pay them a visit soon.”

“When I get the chance, thanks, old man.” Rainer departed and returned back the estate.

Aydan locked herself in her room, a pot of hot tea rested on a nearby dresser. She placed her hand over the Animus Gem, it was cold to the touch but before, it was radiant and warm. The tiefling thought back to her time in the subterranean temple, the moments were blank and lost to her again. The power of the ancient Azurians, something she had not yet master, was now in the hands of Timeaus Randor. For now. She sat in the darkness of the room with a cup of tea, pondering the events that transpired. I need more power.

As the night progressed, a small sparrow made its way to Jimmy Moon on the grassy patch outside of the estate. The half-elf greeted the little bird before it opened is beak and the familiar voice of his father, Lord Galenodel was heard.

“Come back to Lastil at your earliest convenience. We have been granted an audience with the Lady.”

Jimmy replied with glee and jumped up in enthusiasm. Their long journey had finally reached a turning point, but to what and where the young druid did not know.

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