Rand asks one the Half-orcs in the group if he knows of the young Zinnaeris, suspecting this is her husband. Indeed it is, and he, Olaf, is overcome with joy and Rand offers to reunite them back in town.
With all these new folk back to town, the group coordinate their immigration with Druri & Azariah.
Olaf & Zinn reunite in a running embrace. Outside of earshot, Olaf tells her something and she bursts into tears. They walk back to the airship together. Rand attends to Zidane, offering him lodging in either Archibald’s or the airship. He points to the docks. The Belheim group from town mixes with the incoming slaves, joy, tears, embraces. Rand arranges for a banquet in town.
Rand goes to his mother’s to tell her about the state of his father’s rescue. Mentions that Zidane is in town. Rand then goes to the main dining area on the ship and approaches Zidane about talking when he is ready. For now, rest. He then checks with Fraas about other ways to communicate, to which Fraas suggests a telepathic bond. Fraas goes off to find some eggs for the spell.
Looking closer at the slaves, they are mostly elves; the non-elves were slaves in Belheim, the really brave one, was a weaver of baskets. The gang asks these Belheim folk about Thoko’s pet, a.k.a. Jackmerius. No one really knows much.
Rand finds Fraas holding two eggs in the airship stateroom, a bit drunker than before. Rand asks Fraas if he can de-stone the statued child. Fraas with barely a pause, casts stone to flesh. The boy shrieks, cowers, asks in elven “who are you people!?” Rand speaks to him in common, reminds him of the basilisk, and asks him if he remembers being taken to his mother and father. Shah goes to get Zidane, who upon hearing about the boy, faints. He awakes with a joyful solemnity. Then hugs Rand and Shah. Rand starts to tells Zidane about what’s been happening. He states he knows he is his biological father and that he thinks he knows of the circumstances around it and that he knows about the prophecy shadowing over him. Rand states that he has no ill will toward Zidane. None. He tells of the groups adventures: the death of Draugarland, and subsequent defeat of Saharin and liberation of Griffton; Rand’s own death at the hand of the White Dragonness and his adventure while dead; The heart and the mythic power; Evil Rand at the Dawn of time; Seiffre’s search; The imperial Dragon and the portal in the dark tower; and finally, the growing conflict with the Thoko. Rand emphasizes how his time as Evil Rand, and the moment of temptation to mercifully kill the imperial dragon, might have been when he was closest to fulfilling the dark part of the prophesy.
Eventually Rand gently broaches the subject of Taghen’s death. Zidane implores the group to bring the child, Belinor, to his mother as soon as possible. However, when we proceed to tell the boy about what is going to happen, Zidane nervously scratches tomorrow.
Sentinel pensively climbs the crow’s nest. Shah recants stories in the galley late into the night.
The next morning, as Fraas is preparing his spells, he suddenly loses focus. A strange daydream emerges in his mind. He imagines himself encountering the Thoko and comes to the realization that he’s not really a bad guy at all. The dream proceeds as if he is having a conversation with his closest trusted friend and ally. In the conversation, Thoko asks Fraas to bring him his friend, the paladin. Intellectually Fraas knows that this is against the group’s plans, but after thinking about it for a bit, Fraas sees how incredibly rational it is. It’s not that he wishes his friend to die, but that maybe just sacrificing one of the group to the Thoko would make perfect sense. After all, Rand has the potential to destroy everything, and he couldn’t just sacrifice himself; his soul isn’t pure enough.
Fraas gets up to go tell the others about his new plan, but he feels suddenly as if he simply could not tell them about it. They just wouldn’t understand. Thoko’s voice mentions how it would be smarted to keep this idea quiet for now. Fraas agrees and returns to his wizardly morning preparations.
Later that morning, Rand retrieves Fraas and to go speak to Zidane. Fraas is eating a scrambled egg, “give me five more minutes.” They meet in Fraas’ room, and commence a telepathic bond with Sentinel, Rand, Fraas & Zidane.
“Bad news first, Jackmerius is almost certainly dead.”
“I heard some of the giant’s speaking of it. He was outed as a spy and put to death.”
“Did they know what he was doing?”
“Not sure, but once I heard his name retold, I assumed he was trying to help.”
“Do you know anything about those secreted away?”
“Not really. They’re probably somewhere good.”
“Was Jack secretly executed?”
Shrugging, “the giants were laughing about it”.
Rand suspects Jack is wiry enough to maybe still be alive.
“What became of you, and maybe you can fill in some blanks about this child?”
“Retrieving this child was the mission Taghen gave me before. After he became stone, repairing him was my new mission. If something were to happen, I was to bring him to Triawathien.”
“How did Taghen discover his stillborn child was still alive?”
“I’m not sure. Taghen’s wishes were for the child to be reunited with his mother, although it’d be difficult. I was already captive in Belheim when the winter army stormed the city”.
“Do you know why they are mining aerum?”
“Whatever they were digging out, they stopped finding it; more of them disappearing each day, via ‘the pet’. After he stopped coming, giants were taking people like fruit from the market.”
“Do you know anything more of the Thoko’s army’s strength?”
“I never saw Thoko. I speak a bit of giant, so he knew there was a bit of a desertion going on.”
“Not sure, they were leaving through the mine, some sort of beast was dead and it was safe to go that way.”
Rand tells him about the slorath.
“Not only giants, many more orcs.”
“Do you have any more info from your distant past? In other words, what are the circumstances of the gael of the north, Rand’s mother. How did you come to meet her, and how did this transpire, and why why why are slaves being transported through the portals?”
“I only met her twice, on another mote, one quite different from this one, sandworn and full of camels. As I was traveling in the dunes, came across a tent with a most beautiful woman lost in tears. She was married at the time, but felt compelled to break her vow. I woke up the next morning in the sand and the tent was gone. The second time I was again traveling, she handed me Rand, and said that I was responsible. The prophecy is something she told me at that time.”
“Was this how you lost your powers?”
“My infidelity was not how I lost my powers.”
Sentinel asks him to continue.
Zidane is silent for a moment. “Rand, I’m so sorry. I saw you as my shame, so I abandoned you somewhere, to the fates, in the wood. At that moment, that’s when everything changed. I realized my mistake and went back for you, now knowing I should not have a part in your raising. I had encountered Bethel & Balin before, and I knew them to be good people and I brought you to them.”
“And the slave transfer in Belheim?”
Shrugging, “she seemed callous and dismissive, almost like this was something that has happened before with her. When I first met her, I could sense she was not of this world”.
Zidane says he knew nothing of her imperial dragon mate, “Though I know of the legend of the massive portals.”
Rand tells about the captive, de-tongued imperial dragon.
Zidane makes the pithy comment, “that seems to happen to all the Gael’s mates”.
“Do you know about Rand’s true name?”
Rand asks about the magical pool under Griffton and the Oracle, though Zidane has never encountered the pool and had only heard whispers of the oracle.
Fraas asks about (!!!!!INSERT NAME OF Zinneraeris’ mote!!!!!)
“It’s a small mote far to the South, but I’ve never been”.
While still telepathically linked, they all decide to take Zidane to reunite Belinor with his mother. Upon arrival, Arwelen answers the door, blushing at the sight of Shah. “Who’s this?” she says referring to Zidane. Rand asks her to get her mother, to which she shouts upstairs, “MOOOOM!!!!” Triwathien arrives downstairs.
“It may be hard to understand, but this is your son.”
“It’s not hard at all, this is my son.”
She embraces the child, uncontrollably crying. She thanks everyone, especially Zidane. Zidane overwhelmed, just nods and leaves. Arwelen watches in happy shock, then runs forward and hugs her new brother. Rand stares at the boy for a moment and gets a tinge of evil.
The adventures meet up at the Chamber of the Heroes for some scrying to help discern whether they can use it to teleport. They perform a test with Sentinel in the town square above and are able to throw a pebble at him while scrying. Rand goes to jump through, but Korrak grabs him. Instead Deagha flies through as a hummingbird and ends up right next to Sentinel in the square. Fraas convinces Rand that it’s now safe and he should try jumping through, but just as he does, no one sees Fraas wince, and the pool changes suddenly, redirecting to Thoko’s chamber. Rand is through, and the pool is starting to dim.
They can see Rand fall into the room, shouting “QAS AM UNAT!” sending a flaming burst directed at the Thoko. Zinn shouts up to Sentinel and Deagha. Deagha rushes down as a hummingbird and flies through the portal. Zinn featherfalls through. Fraas jumps in, flying, but as he does the Thoko’s enchantment on him breaks and he suddenly regrets everything that just happened. He drinks a displacement potion.
The Thoko is sitting on a throne of treasures and skulls, his torc is glowing. Thoko’s brothers are crouched next to the throne, held with translucent magical chains.
Sentinel finally makes his way down jumps in and flits down using magic robes. Shah jumps in, goes invisible, featherfalls.
Rand stops his charge suddenly and speaks kindly to the Thoko, as if he is enchanted.
Korrak’s sword jumps out of her hand. She picks it up, slams it against the wall and jumps through the pool. She hears a loud angry giant voice in her head, saying something that she’s sure is about her mother. She featherfalls into Thoko’s lair.
Deagha gives everyone resistance to fire. Zinn sends a snowball at the giant, but he is immune to cold damage. Thoko stands up, bones clatter down the throne pile. He walks through the air toward the pool. A voice in rand’s enchants “come closer palladin” A voice resounds in Zinn’s head, “go rest on the other side of the room”. She shrugs it off and continues her advance.
Fraas sends acidic spray at Thoko. Rand is aghast that we are harming his “friend”. Sentinel fleet charges Thoko, his first strike glinting off Thoko’s tough skin. His second punch does some serious damage, with a third punch narrowly missing its target.
Rand moves in front of Thoko, who is holding out his hand to Rand, “STOP! STOP! STOP! SENTINEL! FRAAS! You’re hurting our friend!”
Shah and Korrak advance. Korrak barely ekes through a swift hit with her sword, then power attacks with a critical swing. Deagha shoots a lightning attack, but the giant is immune, then sends an insect plague upon him of 3 wasp swarms. Zinn pool strikes to deliver a burst of acid.
The Thoko shuffles forward pushing Rand’s griffon out of the way. With the paladin in hand, he leans over and puts his other hand in the pool, which starts abubbling. Everyone sees Rand’s body start to change and shrivel, a whooshing sound, air pressure in the room changes — it feels icy cold — they see wrinkles appearing in his skin, his beard growing. Thoko chucks rand into the pool, many of Thoko’s wounds appear to heal, but he is still a bit haggard.
Fraas quickly sends another acidic spray. Sentinel gets a blow through. Rand leaps from the pool, swinging a mighty blow with his holy great axe. Qas tries to attack, but its claws and beak clang off the natural armor. Shah stabs twice, but the hits also clang off. Korrak swings thrice, hitting solidly once.
They can all hear sounds outside the room, people yelling “THOKO!” in a triumphant manner, large numbers approaching. Though in the chamber, Thoko has a look of abject terror at the adventurers.
Deagha’s insect swarm attacks again as he casts another 4 more wasp swarms.
Thoko slumps to his knees, completely staggered.
Deagha strikes with holy damage, as the Thoko crumples to the floor. Fraas flies over and removes his torc. Sentinel punches the giant’s corpse in the face.
Rand mounts his griffin, shouting “ALL YE GIANTS LOOK UPON YOUR THOKO IN DESPAIR!”
Shah situates himself toward one of the entrances. Korrak goes to inspect one of the Thoko’s brothers. The waves of frost giants that were rushing toward the room, skid to a halt, drop their weapons, and begin backing up and start to run away.
Rand approaches the brothers trying to talk to them. Detecting evil, the two brothers glow powerful evil, but nothing else in the room does. Shah detects good, when he looks at the pool he’s overwhelmed. Deagha performs a coup de grace on one of the Thoko’s brothers. Fraas commences a telepathic bond with the remaining brother, but all he says “kill me” over and over. Deagha ends him with his sword.
As this is all going on, the sounds in the surrounding caverns are receding.
Deagha flies out one of the entrances, sees a big opening, and seeing a palacial structure surmises this leads to the top of the waterfall town. Natural tunnels lead out, orcs are scurrying off fearfully.
Rand puts his hand in the water of the pool, “sweet creature, you can be at peace now. can you help us get back to…” Before he can finish, the moment his hand touches the pool he blips back to the chamber of heroes. He then scries Deagha and goes through the pool to return to the Thoko’s chamber.
Sorting out husks of bodies interspersed in the treasure, Shah finds Jack’s body. Most of the bodies were dried and withered, but Jack’s was missing digits, wounded, indicating torture. Korrak opens his mouth to see if he has a tongue. There is none.
Deagha begins casting a reincarnation spell.
A young, strapping half-orc stands before the group, as naked as the day he was made. “Ha! This is pretty neat! Who did this? … Um, it’s very cold.”
Deagha says, “I have reincarnated you, by your actions you have certainly earned a second chance.” Deagha then casts Endure Elements on until they can find him suitable clothing. Jackmerius casts a spell as well, and he is now tastefully obscured by a fig leaf. “Thank you, stranger.”
Then, to everyone, “Your group seems to be a little different than when we last met! I imagine we have much, much to discuss. And it looks like you have a treasure hoard to move. Unless you wanted to live here, of course. That’s an option, I suppose. A bit chilly.”