Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

The Gems of Fate (A D&D campaign summary)

This thing is long overdue. ! finished the Gems of Fate over two years ago, and took a long break from D&D after wards. In any case, here’s a general summation of the shenanigans my players got up to.

Our story begins with a handful of individuals suffering the pain of loss at an early age. Individually orphaned, and without family, they are taken in by Xanever MoonShadow, an elven ranger, and well-known hero. The six of them are brought up as a family, and raised in traditional elven fashion though none of them are, in fact, of elven heritage. With the exception of the half-orc, who had a name when he was found, they are named by Xanever as he discovers them and brings them into his care.

Loqen, Laurana, Lindenau, Lo, and Grue.

They are quite the blended family, running the gamut from human to kobold, and after adventuring individually for a time they come together for the annual fall festival in their home town of Green Haven. The celebration is in full tow when a pair of gigantic creatures and a small horde of their minions attack. The creatures have some facility with fire as well as a type of necrotic energy- they also wield weapons and armor of exotic design. They take nothing but lives, and disappear just as quickly as they arrive, leaving only a strange symbol behind.

During the aftermath of the encounter,  Xanever arrives and pales at the sight of the strange insignia. He charges Laurana, Grue, Loqen, and Lindenau with consulting Xiang Hua(she-ong* hoo-ah), a mystic of sorts who resides at the top of Ash Mountain to ascertain its meaning. Lo, is nowhere to be found and has yet to arrive before the small party sets forth. Xanever asks them to meet him back in the village in 25 days and immediately takes off to do his own research on the symbol that was left behind.

After a hard day's ride, the group settles in for the evening in the small village of Bellcamp. Unsure how else to cope, Loqen begins to drown his sorrows. The others discuss what their next course of action should be, just as a young villager approaches them for aid. She claims to have lost her two younger brothers in the woods and beseeches the well-armed group for their help in locating the two small boys. Loqen, drunk and in mourning, demands payment up front and uses a cantrip to shove the girl away when she admits she can't afford to pay them. Several villagers witness this.

Crestfallen, the young woman runs off alone. As evening passes into night, the villagers rally a search party for the young Elaine, and her brothers Don and Peter. When all three are discovered to be dead, our heroes are spurred into hunting down the creature that killed the small family. The beast, a wendigo, is promptly tracked and slain but the party is judged harshly by the villagers for being reactionary heroes. They leave Bellcamp acutely aware that their inaction was indirectly responsible for the death of at least one innocent and possibly all three.

Still on their way to Ash Mountain, they pass through the city of Bob, a beacon of wealth by the water.  Upon entering the city, they discover that a new law dictates that they have to wait three days before being allowed to leave the walls (it encourages the tourist trade). Stuck in an expensive city, the group looks for the cheapest available lodging and tries to make the most of the large market.  Here, in the city of Bob, Lindenau begins proselytizing in earnest. His new religion, The Church of The One True Dragon God, espouses many conflicting ideologies as TOTDG embodies all aspects of the universe. He freely produces bread for whoever listens to his spiel and soon finds that only the impoverished are rich enough in spirit to grasp the truth of The One True Dragon God.

Meanwhile, Laurana makes a trade for a handful of rare potions, Grue purchases an art book he is convinced is actually an ancient tome of martial arts before giving the small remainder of his money to a poor beggar who asks for it, and Loqen attempts to convince the new followers of The One True Dragon God that he is said god incarnate.

Loqen actually manages to convince a small number of the poor and desperate to worship him as a god before Lindenau gets wind of this and "spoils his fun".

Things take a turn for the ominous when rumors of The Killer At Cenotaph start spreading through the city. What's more, he's looking for a dwarf, kobold, half-orc, and a human woman traveling together. When word reaches the party that he's awaiting them at their current inn, they make their way back to Fenrir's Rest ready for a battle. But to their surprise, The Killer at Cenotaph is none other than Lo, their adoptive brother who has finally caught up with them.  Reunited and now calling themselves The Fightin' Wombats, they share some stories of their adventures before heading to bed.

In the night, Grue awakens to a cloaked man mysteriously watching him from the rafters of Fenrir's Nest. There is a slight moment of hesitation between the two before the cloaked figure makes a break for it and Grue gives chase. Lo is awoken by the commotion, and attempts to curtail the runaway but is given the slip by the more agile runner. Grue narrowly grabs onto the man's cloak as he dives out of the second story window but this does not prevent the man from escaping. In the moonlight, the shaggy-haired man looks up at Grue and salutes him before smirking and disappearing into the night. Morning comes and it is discovered that the assailant they almost captured was the Thief King, a local hero who rewards the kindness and generosity of strangers with money stolen from people who don't deserve it. They learn that he likes to masquerade as a beggar, and that he has rewarded Grue with a small bag full of semi-precious gems.

The group opt to return the semi-precious gems to their rightful owners save a small jade dragon that Grue is strangely drawn to, and Grue ultimately decides to keep The Thief King's Cloak. At breakfast, they encounter a minstrel playing a strange instrument and sporting exotic garments embroidered with insignias similar to the one left behind by the strange creatures they encountered.

The woman introduces herself as Karissa The Wanderer and explains that she recently spent some time in the West, where her clothing and instrument were from. For the price of her meal and a few drinks, Karissa agrees to share some information. When prompted for the meaning of the insignia they found, she coyly responds "Nothing." before relenting that the actual translation was more like "Void" and that it reminds her of some of the older stories told in the West. At Laurana's request, Karissa tells them that over a thousand years ago, a demon king and his army of "oni" nearly conquered the world and that he ruled under the symbol for Void. But before he could cover the plane in darkness, he and his five demon generals were sealed away with their army by a group of mystics wielding the elements and gems of power.

Convinced that these oni were what attacked their village and freshly allowed to leave the city, the Wombats make their way to Ash Mountain to speak to Xiang Hua. To their dismay, Xiang Hua doesn't want to speak to them about the oni, and tries to convince them that Xanever actually knows more about them then she does. She rebuffs their pleas for more information but allows them all to stay for a night before going back to the city of Bob. Under cover of darkness, the oni strike again but are repelled this time by the combined forces of the Wombats, Xiang Hua, and her disciples. Xiang Hua is a whirlwind of cutting power during the battle, armed with her signature jian-dao which seems to be enchanted by a large alexandrite in the pommel. At length, she reveals:

  • they are being dragged into the War of The Houses,

  • they are being targeted specifically by the Matron of the Zi-Ying House who is hoping to eradicate the last of House Hikari,

  • Lo, is the last of House Hikari

  • Zi-Ying also hopes to wipe out the other houses they may have descended from.

  • Xiang Hua is convinced that the Matron is the one summoning oni and that she is responsible for the massacre at Green Haven.

  • (so I tried to throw my players off of the scent a bit by switching words around. Yingzi means shadow in Chinese. I came to find that I needn't have bothered because no one was looking up the meaning of the house names)

With newfound purpose, the wombats make their way back to the city of Bob but are accosted along the way by a small squadron of orcs wielding unusual weapons and War Magic, a branch of the mage arts unlike anything they've seen before. Lo's past seems to have caught up with him as the orcs challenge him specifically for what he did at Cenotaph. Before blood can be shed on either side, an orc of higher rank puts an end to hostilities and promptly beheads the leader of the attackers.

"If an orc acts like a beast..." he says,

"They are to be put down like one!" the rest of them respond.

With this, he gives his apologies for the brutishness of his officer and extends an invitation to Lo and his comrades to meet The Great Uniter, Orc Chief Thanubar at his earliest convenience. Laurana takes the opportunity to peer into the minds of the orcs to gain a glimpse of this Thanubar. She sees an orc unlike any she has seen before. Towering over his kind, with a presence that commands respect, and a gaze that speaks of his raw intelligence. Curiously, his chestplate is inlaid with a large topaz of similar cut and shape as the gem on Xiang Hua's blade.

Though they are intrigued by this group of disciplined orcs, and their powerful leader, the wombats continue their journey west and sail across the ocean. Upon arrival, they are thrust into a world of open house warfare as tensions between the Nine Great Houses reach a boiling point.

Loqen purchases several flasks of oil from a local merchant who suspiciously asks if he is the dwarf who beat a young woman for asking for his help. The dwarf denies this and joins the rest of the party who also make a few purchases of exotic wares and the like.

Honoring an old alliance of House Hikari, they side with House Song,  and the Wombats do their best to turn the tide of the war.  But given House Zi-Ying has greater resources, and is willing to use dark magic, it is a losing battle. During a botched ambush and subsequent interrogation, Loqen immolates a manacled prisoner, shocking the group and explaining that he didn't want to waste the flask of oil he had poured over the man as a means of intimidation. Several members of other houses witness this.

In a last-ditch effort to strike a decisive blow against the Zi-Ying, the head of House Song commands the wombats to attack the Zi-Ying stronghold and provides them with a map.

Along the way to the Zi-Ying stronghold, the Wombats encounter a small tribe of cat people, who they goad into guiding them to the accursed compound. The building itself is empty of Zi-Ying members but full of undead and warded with powerful spells of Antipathy. Lo falls victim to one of the Antipathy spells, and after a powerful panic attack, he runs off into the woods never to be seen nor heard from again.

The cat tribe does its best to help clear the temple of hostiles, but unbeknownst to our heroes they are killed and their identities assumed by a group of dopplegangers.  It is at this time that Xaros, a dwarven ranger joins the Wombats, explaining that he was sent to this location over a month ago by his mentor Xanever who only explained that his adoptive children would need help. Laurana, able to read thoughts, confirms his story.

The wombats are then greeted by the tribe of cat people who insist they have found a shortcut to the underground base of operations of the Zi-Ying. Loqen immediately notices that their weapons are holstered on the wrong side and a battle soon ensues. When the smoke settles, the dopplegangers lie dead, and Laurana carries the guilt of the deaths of the tribe, fully aware that tribe wouldn't have been inside the temple were it not for them.

A particularly grueling combat encounter with a handful of animated armors rewards the party's wizard with a mysterious staff that augments his facility with fire. Loqen is convinced that the staff has a personality of sorts, and might be semi-sentient.

Seemingly stumped by a heavy bronze door that they are unable to open, the wombats receive the aid of one John Constantine who happened to pop into their dimension in search of harpy feathers. After getting their help in getting what he was looking for, he used a good bit of magic to open the bronze gate for them, claiming it was "just sleight o' hand writ large".

After defeating a quite insane Spectator, the Wombats discover a large diamond that glows impossibly bright in Lindenau's hands and grants him powers over lightning. It is here that a stone throne descends into this, the deepest chamber of the temple, with Xanever sitting in it. At the sound of the throne descending, the Spectator regenerates and cheerfully announces that his master has arrived.

Xanever is as confused by the Spectator's behavior as everyone else but brushes off the creature's announcement as more insane ramblings. He explains that the throne was a shortcut, before speaking of the importance of this temple and why he orchestrated for them to be sent here. Yes, HE orchestrated for them to be sent here because the leader of House Song owed him a debt. By sending Xanever's children out of the line of direct fire and on a fetch quest, he repaid this debt. What's more, House Song has been eradicated, and there are now only Eight Great Houses.

Xanaver explains that this temple was once the stronghold of Kageyoni (Oni Kage means Demon Shadow...again, I needn't have bothered), the demon king who nearly conquered the world with his army of elemental demons aka oni. It was here that the army was sealed away, and that six gems of power were the key. But the seal is weakening and more and more oni are coming through. It's on the wombats to gather the rest of the gems, and bring them back into this chamber to reinforce the seal. When the group questions him as to why the responsibility falls on their shoulders, Xanever explains that the gems respond to bloodlines, and that the same reason they were orphaned is the reason they're the only ones who can save the world: they're descended from the original mystics who sealed the oni army away, and their houses were targeted by Zi-Ying because it is a house that has sworn fealty to Kageyoni.

With that revelation, Xanever also reveals the grim news that Xiang Hua was recently found dead and produces the large alexandrite that had been embedded in the pommel of her blade as proof. Grue takes this the hardest. Xiang Hua was also a descendant of the six mystics, making her gem the second one they have. After a brief farewell, Xanever sets off to restore as much peace to the land as possible in hopes that the fighting never reaches this sacred ground and disrupts The Seal.

Thinking back to the Orc Chief and the obviously enchanted topaz in his possession, the wombats decide that their next objective should be to accept his original offer of an audience. That night, Grue meditates in mourning and discovers that his jade figurine is changing the nature of his ki flow. It seems to gather his residual ki and disperse it around him in such a manner as to weaken or even nullify magic. Refocusing his ki inward, he receives the following message from his dead mentor:

"Grue, my last words to you are that you have come a long way, and that you must continue to grow stronger. The world may soon depend on your strength of character. The oni are hunting the Gems of Fate, and they cannot be allowed to find them. There are six gems, all exhibit similar qualities but possess power over a different element. My own blade contains one of them, the others were scattered or hidden across the globe but I cannot be sure of their location. Ensure their safety in my absence. I leave the rest to you. "

The group sets off back across the ocean, and over a mountain pass with little to no problems along the way.  Although Loqen is asked if he is the same dwarf who murdered a woman who asked for his help but couldn't pay for it, or if he's the dwarf who immolated a man for making him spill a bit of oil on himself. It isn't until they're in the Open Plains that they encounter a hiccup. At an outpost, they learn that an adult red dragon has been seen nearby and that the nomadic barbarian tribes are STILL at war with the orcs of the area. Grue is given many sidelong looks, but he ignores them. Over dinner, they overhear a pair of brutish looking men discussing a raid on a nearby village and how easily it will fall. Thinking to warn the village of an imminent attack, the wombats set off to find it using the context clues they overheard. To their surprise, the village is populated entirely of orc women and children.

Xaros and Loqen are uncomfortable with the idea of saving orcs, with Loqen seriously considering joining the raiding party. It takes some work but the two are convinced to help if only to help future negotiations with Chief Thanubar.  Looking to gain some support for the upcoming battle, Lindenau asks the women if they're armed. They respond that this village has sworn the Oath of Iron Heart, and as such, they are all pacifists. They only kill game, and even then they do it sparingly.

Using every available resource, the Wombats fortify the village as best as possible. At dusk, a large raiding party of barbarian berserkers attempts to raze the village. The battle is short and bloody, with the berserkers falling victim to various traps and the combined magical prowess of the Wombats. Morning comes, and the men of the village come back with food and supplies. In gratitude, they assign the Wombats a guide to the orc city.

Upon arriving in the city of Iron Heart, they are amazed at its sheer size and complex architecture. They are instructed by the guards to enter via the fifth gate, Compassion, as that leads into the refugee and visitor's district. They find the district to be brimming with life and vibrancy. These orcs are unlike anything they expected, having developed their own written language, arts, and a sense of purpose through the Code of the Iron Heart which seeks to uphold seven Virtues: Loyalty, Respect, Courage, Compassion,  Honor, Sincerity, and Duty.

Lindenau befriends a young half-orc tailor named Halder. Their conversations and Lindenau's candid demonstration of magic inspires Halder to weave magic into his next garment. The experiment succeeds and a new form of armor is introduced to the world. Spellshaped Garb as it comes to be known, allows the wearer to cast the spell imbued into the cloth a limited number of times before the magic is consumed.

Laurana spends the time in the city learning what she can of the culture and haggling over the value of agates.

Xaros, we discover, is in search of his long-lost sister. She was captured by orcs a long time ago, and he investigates her disappearance as best he can.  After a few leads, he casually asks an orc bearing the mark of the Eight Spears (the clan which raided his village) about the fate of a young dwarven girl. The orc panics and offers his life to Xaros in an effort to make amends for what happened to his sister. After some pressing, the orc relents that his clan had been under the command of a powerful necromancer who used Xaros's sister as a sacrifice to summon an unspeakable evil. He witnessed the ritual, and saw that not only did she survive, she was possessed by the entity that was summoned. He alone escaped the ensuing slaughter. When asked for the location of this ritual, the orc explained that it occurred in what is now simply referred to as The Bog, and that he suspects this dwarven girl is now known as The Bog Queen of The Damned. This makes Xaros pensive.

Grue is happy to be amongst his own and to see that he is not unique in his desires for the betterment of all. He buys a wide-brimmed hat in commemoration of his visit to what he feels is the closest to a home he has ever been.

While the majority of the party is curious about this new civilization, Loqen is disgusted by the very existence of such a large orc settlement and spends his free time attempting to sow panic and discord by projecting minor illusions of invading barbarians throughout the city. He is promptly apprehended by the guards and subsequently released on bail after his siblings take full responsibility for him. He spends the remainder of his time in the city attempting to ascertain its military and structural weaknesses. Many locals notice this.

Word reaches the chief that the siblings of Lo Redsky are in the city and the Wombats receive an audience with him. He tells them his story and his realization that orcs and the races they warred with were all victims of a cosmic prank between a handful of deities and that the fighting was pointless. He sought a better way, and in time he grew to unite the majority of the orc clans. The barbarian hordes refuse to accept them, so he seeks an official trade agreement with the local kingdom of Theodosia to grant his city and his people an air of legitimacy. He had hoped that by convincing Lo Redsky, a famous opponent of orc kind, that they truly wanted peace he could get his foot in the door.

The Wombats explain their quest and propose a trade. In exchange for the topaz on his chest, a symbol of his power, they would lead an official delegation on behalf of the city of Iron Heart and negotiate a formal trade route between both kingdoms. Chief Thanubar accepts the terms, and informs them that the royal family of Theodosia is said to possess a large emerald of a similar nature so visiting that kingdom is to their benefit. Finally, as a token of good faith, he gives them the topaz upfront.

"You have given me your word that an agreement will be struck. I do not doubt your intentions., but know that if you betray me, there is little on this plane that will protect you from the wrath of an immortal orc chief."

Thanubar demonstrates his apparent immortality by slitting his own throat in front of them, and they watch in bewilderment as the wound almost immediately seals itself.

The topaz itself glows brightly in Grue's hands and gives him command over earth and stone. He takes great pleasure in the idea of burying that which is not good for the plane.

After a final restock of provisions, in which a weapons smith tells Loqen that his staff bears the name "Borith", the name of his biological father, the Wombats set out for Theodosia in hopes of bridging two cultures and securing yet another gem. Three days out, the party dreams of various deities. Dugmaren Brightmantle, exarch of the dwarven god Moradin, visits all but Loqen and explains to them that their brother's heart has been tainted by the corrupting shadow magic of the oni.  It is revealed to the group that Loqen sent several messages to various barbarian hordes and encouraged them to lay siege to the city of Iron Heart, going as far as pointing out potential weaknesses in the city's defenses. The longer he goes with the magic festering in him, the more violent and malevolent he will become. But, there is someone to the west, in the old mountain kingdoms, that can purify his heart and redeem him.

Shortly after, the Wombats are individually visited by various deities arguing one way or another as to whether or not Loqen deserves to be saved or punished. Bahamut( The Platinum Dragon God of Justice) has taken a liking to the new breed of orcs, and sees Loqen's betrayal as a personal affront. This puts him at odds with his old ally Moradin who is convinced that no amount of orc blood is worth a dwarven life. Mielikki the Goddess of Nature, meanwhile, believes it is best to eradicate the oni first and ignore the darkness in Loqen for the time being.  Laurana's extra-dimensional patron is happy about the discord between the gods as he believes it'll weaken them long enough for him to enter this plane and consume them.

Loqen, having fallen asleep holding his staff, has a dreamless sleep but awakens with the dwarven rune for "Obligation" burned into his palm. A portion of his life essence is burned away, and it is clear that his staff, Borith, is not happy with him.

When the party wakes, Laurana sends her familiar back to Iron Heart to assure Thanubar that they had no part in the sacking of the city and that Loqen is being handled. As the party continue their journey, a small band of priestesses pass them on the road. In a flash of fire and smoke, the caravan is ambushed by bandits.  The wombats rush to the aid of these strangers and successfully defeat the bandits, but it is soon discovered that the bandits stole an artifact that is required for a ritual to prevent the rising of a demon prince. The high priestess beseeches their aid on behalf of The Raven Queen (Goddess of Death). Seeing the magnitude of such an immediate threat, the Wombats agree to help. It rankles with Laurana though, as she feels this constitutes a breaking of her word to Thanubar.

Following the tracks of the bandits back to their lair, they discover a camp and a hippogriff mount at the mouth of a cave. In a clever use of his "gaseous form" Loqen collapses the lungs of the bandits, clearing their way into the cave. They befriend the hippogriff and immediately come across a half-conscious half-elf calling himself Ralik within the cave's entrance.  A paladin of Corellon (the god of elves), Ralik offers his aid in ridding the world of demons, and oni, and in retrieving these strange gems of power.

The Wombats eventually succeed in retrieving the artifact, a fragment of a demon's horn, and in aiding the ritual, but not before an aspect of Dwiergus breaks into the material plane.  Lindenau shatters a powerful prayer necklace to summon an Ancient Silver Dragon to fight off the demon. An intense battle ensues, which ends in the death of the hippogriff, the demon attempting to flee, and the dragon pursuing it.

The priestesses believe they can seal the demon away for good, but it will require the life essence of a hero to do so. Grue and Ralik briefly arm wrestle for the chance to sacrifice for the greater good. Grue's strength wins out and a portion of his power is consumed to banish the demon and seal him from this plane. The Raven Queen, whose priestesses performed the ritual, visits Grue and gives him a necklace in exchange for his sacrifice.  Grue accepts the gift not entirely understanding its magnitude.

necklace to curb baser thoughts for Loqen

travel to theodosia

familiar comes back

told a week before meeting the king

find out about the sunken temple, the arena, rumors of the emerald, and that Mhurren's son has gone missing (legendary blacksmith), another paladin confronts Ralik about his shadow sword. rumors that the king's advisor is back from his travels

laurana is given a golden griffin.

meet with king, his adviser is an ancient copper dragon. tell him the desire for his emerald, and the treaty between the orcs. summons his Loremaster (title for a powerful mage). It's Karissa the Wanderer! She vouches for the group but to leave no doubt, submits Laurana to the power of her legendary blade: Fragarach. king ponders the decision and says he will get back to them

while enjoying the day, the city is attacked by an adult red dragon. he toys with the wombats before the copper dragon arrives and the two chat in a friendly manner before flying off together. bitter enemies, but they've been enemies so long they're practically friends. Karissa, a student of the copper dragon arrives on the scene and heals the party.

Loqen arena loss, chat with Mhurren about mob kidnapping his kid, theory about kid being in the sunken temple, need for water breathing, druid orchard can cast the spell for them but want to see the paladins aka the city guard get humbled, Ralik is confronted by the paladin again and almost forcefully conscripted. Ralik puts his sword on the line against the paladin's sunblade in an arena match. wombats win, Laurana uses Hunger of Hadar on the paladins. the whole city sees this. druids pleased, cast the water spell,

explore the sunken temple, find its nothing too special with the exception of certain wards affecting water movement. find the vault,  find the deck of many things. everybody draws, the deck vanishes.

try to leave the temple, accosted by a powerful water oni.

find that a dead mhurren has forged a legendary spear that can indeed kill the king. rush to the castle to warn the king, and see that it's been invaded already and that the statues of the legendary heroes have been destroyed completely.

fight their way up the castle to find the king, dead, in his study. davimax wielding a bloody scythe. in glee, he sheds his skin and reveals himself to be the matron of zi-ying. a powerful necromancer who killed the king on a whim, really wanted the spear for something else, and more importantly, needed the bodies of the legendary heroes. vanishes after a brief battle. she is a human-oni hybrid. immune to anti-demon magic.

karissa, hating laurana more and more due to the deck of many things, banishes them from the kingdom. but believes the king's last decrees should be honored. there is a treaty between iron heart now, and they can keep the emerald. and a map showing the location of two more gems.

the emerald was meant for Lo, but after a bit of study, they think that blood magic can make it work for Xaros. the most powerful practitioner of that craft is said to be The Bog Queen herself.

bog has lots of magic eating creatures, followed by a bizarre set of time islands. eventually they meet Queen Amber, a dwarf-demon hybrid who has created the islands as a means of preserving outcasts before their final moments, and preventing herself from escaping into the outside world and doing damage. she uses a powerful ritual to magically bond the emerald of fate to Xaros's hand. it gives him mastery over the winds and the power of flight.

they set course for an old dwarf city, in hopes of curing loqen and finding a red gem.

wind up in small town by lake. meet Gabriel, buy his boat and hire him to sale it for them up the river, battle rival party, meet real Gabriel, tells them to save a pair of elemental griffins and their eggs from Loqen. flies off with their boat after dropping them off by the old dwarf ruins in a small village.

recognized as dwarf who burnt down an orphanage after a young girl spilt a drop of oil on his shoe. told to look for his mother. sent to explore ruins. discover angels of sorrow, landshark, oni, and forges making shadow blades like the one ralik has. ralik anneals his sword and purges it of the curse. rescued by loqen's mom who takes them to the one person who can cure his affliction. the red dragon who attacked them that one time.

he agrees to perform the spell for money. it purges loqen of evil but at the cost of him having to learn humility. he is made a bard, and his staff, now confirmed to contain the spirit of his father, transforms into a powerful axe. mom gives him his ancestral axe which is imbued with the ruby of fate, giving him more control over fire.

returns to the village to make amends, is being hunted by a human monk named Rand, working as an agent for Thanubar, and calling himself The Iron Fist. Before Rand can apprehend Loqen, the village is laid seige to by a hoard of undead, a bone devil, and Matron Zi-Ying, still being called Davimax by Grue.

Rand, immediately targets the matron, and his soul is drained from his body for his troubles. The skeletons continue reanimating with the matron in their presence. Grue accosts "davimax" and after landing several blows, is hit with one of Rand's techniques and sent tumbling over 100 feet. After a decisive blow on the matron, she taunts them they wil never reach the shores of Votaree, and vanishes. The undead are subsquently defeated.

The wombats wake up in various dream states. But eventually snap out of it and discover they were victims of a baleful dryad attempting to eat them. They fell victim to her trap while attempting to burn the bodies of the rival party, on their way to the shore.  Lindenau prays to TOTDG and is granted a divine intervention, destroying the bodies of the once great heroes and allowing them to rest once and for all.

making it to the shore, they find their old boat waiting for them, fully crewed, and they set off for the location of what was once a powerful island nation. along the way they are accosted by a small fleet of pirates, but successfully thwart the attack. they summon a dragon turtle to help watch the ship, as he is an agent of the totdg. But, being a dragon turtle he only agrees if there is a gamble. If they do not return in three days, he claims ownership of the boat.  they agree. unbeknownst to them he charms their perception of time as they jump into the ocean.  though less than a few hours pass between the time they jump to the time they arrive on the magic protected shores of Votaree, the Wombats perceived it to be four days.

they meet Viridiana, a specter whose purpose was to warn others of the patron, and find evidence that the island nation sunk after an incident involving some of their old gods and what is allegedly Lauran's otherworldly patron. an aspect of her patron invaded and devoured many of the old Votaree gods, with only the old god of the ocean surviving. he used what was left of his godly might to destroy the island's inhabitants as they were a dimensional anchor for the being. viridiana explains that the gem they seek was the crown jewel for the royal line. it lies in the tomb of their last king, Acererak, just to the north.

discover the chancy dice,  walk to where they are told the crown of votaree is.  see the quote of the tomb of horrors on the wall after defeating a hoard of mummies. grue uses his command over earth and loqen's fire attack to turn a mummy into an obsidian black vase.  he keeps it as a souvenir

the "tomb of horrors" is actually a tomb. as in, single room with a sarcophogus. the key to immortality is the written word. acererak the just lived an incredible life and his deeds are carved into the walls and written into a scroll that was buried with him, along with the crown. The sapphire in the crown, immediately responds to Ralik, and he discovers that his human heritage is from the line of the Votaree royal family. rather than remove the gem, he dons the crown.

they are met outside the tomb by the matron, oni, and another bone devil. the matron reveals herself to be Xiang Hua! wielding her alexandrite pommeled blade, she is a whirlwind of cutting force and actually slices Grue's favorite hat in half. as the battle prolongs she is revealed to be a powerful shape shifter as well. in a final showdown between master and apprentice, Grue  emerges victorious. The dark magic that allowed the oni princess to possess Xiang Hua's body is dispelled, and the warrior's spirit finds peace. She leaves the group a final warning, urging them to stop "him" from completing his plan, before her spirit dissipates, leaving the group with the final gem they need.

It responds to Grue as much as it responds to Laurana, and he finally realizes that they she is his half sister. Something she knew all along. Using a cloak of translocation, they teleport back to their home town of Green Haven where Ralik now has a large manor. They commission a quarter staff to be made for Grue, using the essence of the Vizier card, the tooth from the last living land shark, and a branch from the dryad's tree as the components. The master crafters work through the night for three days to produce the new weapon. and once the task is completed the group is teleported via a scroll that Xanever left for them and they arrive back in the West.

Things have changed in the West. People now openly display house alliances on their robes, and the cat tribes have been brought into indentured servitude after their existence was discovered. The wombats make it to Kageyoni's old fortress and find Xanever waiting for them. he claims he tried reaching out to them on many occassions over the past year. but somehow his sending and message spells never seemed to go anywhere. (a side effect of Grue's dragon statue). he shows them the stone door which sealed the oni away, and points out the cracks in it. given they are the descendants of the ones who created the gems, only they can insert the gems to reinforce the seal.

Gabriel's cryptic words sow dissent in their ranks, and few jump at the chance to insert their gem into the door. Laurana, hoping for the best and desperate to be rid of the oni, is the first to place her gem into the seal. the others follow suit.

Xanever is pleased, and breathes a sigh of relief.

"Finally. . . after so long, it has come to pass."

a massive shockwave of elemental energy erupts from the gems, shattering them and OPENING the door way. a stream of shadows spew forth from the now open hell gate, unleashing thousands of oni into the world. demonic energy flows into the elven hero and he cackles with glee as he sheds his elf form and assumes his true form, that of Kageyoni himself!

Stunned by his powerful magic, he rants at them, mocking their stupidity and explaining that he was the one who slaughtered their families and raised them as his own so he could manipulate them into freeing his army and unbinding him from the prison of his elf form.Their ancestors had been cunning in making it so only their lines could undo the bindings, but time is the enemy of traditions, and by the time he set his plan in motion, most of them knew nothing about the King of all Oni.

With the fate of the world on the line, the wombats mustered their strength and shattered his stun spell. The ensuing battle was savage on both sides. Reclaiming the shattered remnants of their gems, they imbue their attacks with elemental energy and make use of the immunities granted to them by their respective gems.  But as long as the portal remains open, he keeps getting stronger. Grue invokes the power of the necklace that had been gifted to him by the Raven Queen, and taps into the power of The Hand That Writes All. He snaps his fingers, not just closing the portal but erasing it from existence. He zaps the demon king with powerful rays of lightning and pummels him with chunks of the mountainside until the oni king lies defeated. The necklace, with all of its power used up, disappears just as a new wide-brimmed hat pops into existence above Grue and lands gingerly on his head.

"You may have defeated me this time, but you will be no match for me in the future."

Tearing open a portal in time, Xanaver cast his adoptive children one thousand years into the future, and thus concluded the saga of the gems of fate, but the story of the Fighting Wombats was far from over, as they adventured in a land "Under The Demon's Shadow".

Unfortunately for all involved in this campaign, the story of the wombats actually did end here. I built the Demon ruled world as a sandbox campaign, and the following sessions in that setting crystalized for me what I had known for some time but refused to acknowledge out of a fear of letting people down: I was burnt out as a DM. What followed were two and a half years of a Michael Jordan retirement from being any sort of game master. But hey, I came back eventually, we always do.

-C