Our heroes joined Milly and made their way back to Duevene. After a well deserved break (and a “few” drinks), they returned to Saraphine. However, something was amiss. Saraphine flickered out of existence, as if she had never been real to begin with. The Master appeared in a darkened window with a mysterious message: “You are fools, my friends. The high lady was never here. You left her lying half dead beneath the Rotting Spire. She was easy to manipulate after using all her power through the Lover’s Bind. And now that she’s nearly dead, it will be easy to take her physical essence.” He pauses. “Oh, you wonder how I know of such a thing? It’s too bad you won’t be alive long enough to find out.”
A moment later, the floor gave out and our heroes plummeted into a dark cavernous tunnel. A journal nearby described the place as the Tomb of the Unwilling, a prison for the criminals of Duevene. Down in these depths, our heroes found strange humanoid like creatures, dead bodies, dug out tunnels, a library, and worst of all, a nearly unstoppable Beast. Though they found hints to deeper mystery, the urgency of their situation pervaded. Upon finding a massive tower-like structure near the back of this tomb, our heroes decided to descend its rickety stairs and see if it lead to any type of exit. It did in fact lead somewhere, but unfortunately, it was exactly where the Master expected them to go. Inside a square stone room, a creature came upon them, unlike anything they had ever seen. It moved through stone as if it were sand and could meld itself and the room around it with a thought. It would be their greatest challenge yet.
Though it proved quite difficult, our heroes managed to defeat the Construct. A door opened as the creature fell and they dragged their battered bodies back into the fresh air. After a good nights rest, our heroes awoke to see smoke drifting heavily in the sky. They made haste and found Duevene in a much different state than they’d left it. The buildings were torn apart, blood was splattered across the streets and fires raged across homes. Strangely, not a single body was to be found. Also strange, was that the Duevene castle was untouched. Our heroes made their way to the castle and tried to sneak inside. It seemed that the guards were waiting for exactly this opportunity however, and their ranks piled out, ready for battle.
It seemed overwhelming at first, but soon after the battle began, Lady Saraphine appear on the bridge. No longer in the guise of Lady Grey, he now appeared graceful and proud. She cast powerful bolts of lightning that streaked across the battlefield, eliminating several foes with a single strike. With her help, the battle was quickly concluded.
With a moment to breath, Saraphine turned to the heroes as they tended to their wounds. She explained that the Master was not who he said he was. He name was Solomon and he was the brother to Maximillian. Someone he had found her when she was weakened and cast a spell over her to convince her that she was someone else. While she believed she was Lady Grey, he began to put a plan into motion. By sacrificing all the people of Duevene, he hoped to garner power from ancient demons and enact a spell that would collapse Saraphine’s physical realm. If he was successful, he would steal her essence for himself and it would grant him an enormous amount of power.
She pleaded with the heroes to assist her. Solomon would have already summoned demons to his side to assist with this spell. If she was going to contend with him, she would need them to fend off the beasts until she could take Solomon down. Our heroes agreed and a moment later, they bust into the castle foyer. As Saraphine had predicted, demons lined the hall and Solomon stood at the top of the staircase. The room pulsed with red energy as the spell gathered in strength.
“You must stop this! Your lust for power is what provoked the rage of the gods in the first place! We have been damned because of you and your actions. Cease this and let us repent.”
Solomon laughs. “The only reason we failed, is because we didn’t have enough power. We killed a god, Sara! The three of us killed the goddess of magic. It took three more of her brethren to defeat us and they did so with great effort. Why do you think they could not kill us, Sara? We were too powerful! No, banishment was our punishment instead. They were scared of us! If I can recollect all of the essences they took from us, all in a single form, there is no telling what I could do!”
Sara turns to the heroes. “The essences they took from us? It seems to me that he may not be wholly himself either! That bodes both well and awful for you all. It means Solomon can’t win here today, but I fear it means in order for this madness to come to an end, then Solomon’s essences must be collected as well. I know not how you will accomplish this, but I have faith you will solve this little riddle. For now, let us end today’s battle while we can, and worry on tomorrow’s later.”
She turns back to Solomon. “Enough, Solomon. This ends now.” With that, the great sorceress casts a beam of crackling energy toward her opponent. He matches her power with even strides. As Saraphine had predicted, they become locked in a struggle for dominance. The demons begin to move forward, knowing little else than the urge to protect their master. The battle than ensued was desperate. Lightning and fire blazed across the battlefield while blood and pain followed. One by one, the demons dropped and our heroes clawed their way to Solomon. The powerful mage continued his assault on Saraphine, nearly killing her, but in the final desperate moments, they managed to break the magical armor that covered him. A fearful face spread across Solomon and with a few magical words, he teleported away from the battlefield.
The battle had ended, but as the heroes looked above them, chaos still reigned. Pieces of the castle broke apart, revealing the night sky and the debris that floated within. The very realm itself was unravelling. Saraphine approached our heroes and thanked them for their efforts. She continued:
“As I said before, this is a little more complex than we would have liked. I have assumed. and hope, that you collect the essences to end the spell that was put on us so long ago. Is this correct?” Our heroes all nodded. “Thank you. I do believe that these collected essences will provide a catalyst, so if the proper spell has been prepared, I think this plan could work. But we have now discovered that Solomon also knows how to use the essences. I have deduced that Solomon does not have control over all his essences either, seeming to have suffered the same fate as my husband and I, so we should have time before he can get himself together. Heroes, take my physical essence, it’s all I can provide you for now. Where the other piece of my being will take you, or what you will find there, I cannot know. Good luck, heroes.”
With that, the realm faded to white as it condensed into the physical essence crystal. When our heroes’ vision returned, they found themselves once again in Carter’s study.