Things had never been worse. The adventure lay in shambles, the forces of evil seemed triumphant, the quest to bring Amatatsu Ameiko to the Jade Throne seemingly ruined. That was where our latest session picked up…
With the intrepid heroes (and Skizzik) not returning from the Well of Demons, the rest of party begins to grow nervous. Titus and Penelope have never seen the rest of the group this uptight, but manage to keep night watches until morning when Koya discovers that all four are dead. Desperate for help to save the mission, Titus agrees to allow a mysterious man calling himself Rodrick to depart the island if he brings back talented adventurers to help them. Rodrick reveals himself to be a skeleton as he tears a rift in reality and disappears into thin air. The entire group wonders if hiring Rodrick will turn out to be a terrible mistake.
Meanwhile, a really tall human by the name of Alban Athansius wakes up in a forest. His last memory is of doing battle with a fierce adversary of his back in his home land of Alcanstar. He’s wearing a cowboy outfit and carrying a musket. He’s incredibly confused, especially when he sees all the trees around him and hears birds chirping. He makes his way to a stream, coming across a dude in a boat carrying a staff. Alban introduces himself to the guy, noting that he is a protector of the Duchy of Alcanstar. The dude reveals that they are currently in the Abyss and invites him to come aboard his boat. Alban hesitates until he hears that pursuers are following him from behind. He jumps aboard, still confused, and becomes even more so as the boatman rips through reality again and transports them away.
The story shifts to the Crown of the World, where a tall human-like woman with pearlescent hair and blue topaz eyes is patrolling the forests that border her nation. She and her friends are exploring the area, a Ranger friend of hers up ahead of the group. When the woman bends down for a moment and then stands back up, she finds that her friends are gone and she is quite alone. She casts an icy spell and starts to explore the area. Like Alban, she eventually comes to a stream and encounters the two in the boat. She introduces herself as Caiatus Harroway before the boatman explains further that he has been sent to bring three heroes “touched by destiny” (though hopefully not inappropriately) to help a would-be queen down in Minkai. Caiatus is initially concerned about her friends, but the boatman assures her that none of them were harmed. She then is willing to come aboard the boat. Alban fires his musket when she asks about it, making her jump and regard Alban with suspicion for as long as they are on the boat together. Nonetheless, the boatman tears another rift and transports them to a pond far south of the Crown of the World.
Here, they are approached by a bleary-eyed half-elf wearing a wizard’s hat. This interesting fellow insists that he is not an adventurer, but rather a scholar. This third name on the boatman’s list is Faragel the Prim, and he has a fondness for soap that he regrets Alban does not share. He’s as confused as the other two, but is still willing to jump on the boat. With another tear in reality, the boatman transports them to the koi pond on the island where our group awaits.
Rodrick quickly drops the three new adventurers off and disappears. Slightly dumbfounded, Titus tries to quickly explain why he summoned the three of them and what sort of trouble everyone is in. When Alban again demonstrates the use of his “boom stick”, the noise draws Ameiko. Titus introduces her so that she may continue to explain who she is, what the mission is for, and why we needed help. None of the new adventurers is too keen on the fact that they are now stuck on the island with us until we further investigate the Well of Demons. Ameiko admits that she feels bad for bringing these new adventurers here, but promises them vast compensation if they prove instrumental in fulfilling our quest.
Once introductions are out of the way (Titus meeting his first fellow aasimar in Caiatus) the group decides to head to the Well of Demons. Like the other four before us, we must contend with the climb down. Faragel would have fallen down the waterfall, but luckily was in flight at the time. Down on the next cliff, we start to explore the area. In the southern-most room, we encounter three figures menacing us from the shadows. Alban’s gun takes them by surprise, ripping through two of them with ease while Titus smites the third with his glaive.
Moving on, we encounter no one else in the western area, returning to the cliff. Faragel casts a spell and makes a sturdy bridge for us to descend to the area across the water. We continue north, seeing signs of battle with bloodstains and scorch marks galore. Rounding the corner, we see a monstrous creature in the distance. This abomination is essentially Franken-party, with re-animated parts and pieces of our old friends pieced together to attack us. Unnaturally angry, Titus leads the attack on the monstrosity. However, Alban’s gun again proves invaluable and eventually brings down the beast with an explosion after Faragel slows it down by turning the ground beneath it to mud. In fact, the beast is dead quickly enough that the celestial t-rex Caiatus summons doesn’t even time to attack.
Instead, the t-rex proves useful in helping us dig graves in the softer mud for the dead heroes. As we bury our fallen comrades, Faragel educates us on celestial t-rexes and where they go when they vanish. He wraps up in time for Titus to tearfully say a few words in honor of Rika, Skizzik, Thom, and Jira. From there, the group climbs up a cliff to find a treasure pile. The ancestral weapons and much of the gold the fallen heroes left behind is here, along with a couple of other artifacts. Unfortunately, the Seal isn’t here. Titus picks up the flaming katana Suishen, which speaks to him about the fight that killed the others, and how they died valiantly.
With nowhere else to go but down, Faragel enables us to fly down the waterfall into an even lower level of the Well. Passing forward, we find an evil knight with a katana and piercing red eyes. Caiatus beats him until Alban disarms him of his katana. Titus wrestles the knight to the ground, but doesn’t have much time to subdue him before Alban blows his head off with his gun. Pressing forward, we find ourselves in a large dark room. We hear a nasty screeching sound, and Caiatus manages to spot a giant dragon-like bat. Thinking quickly, Penelope illuminates the room with a well-placed arrow from the Daikyu of Commanding Presence. The bat doesn’t care much for the light, and angrily swoops down to grab Caiatus. After a round of attacks, Penelope brings the bat down with a skillful array of arrow shots.
We continue onward, suddenly finding a nasty and smelly room with a black throne. A dead body lies to our south. As we move forward to investigate, a ghost with tattered robes pops out of the floor. At first angry, the ghost reveals itself as Shojinawa Ito and offers to make a deal with us. In exchange for giving us his family blessing, he wants to possess one of our bodies in order to leave this place. Titus informs the ghost that we are disinclined to help him, and the ghost regrettably doesn’t take the rejection well. His very gaze causes Alban pain and anguish as we set up to attack. Alban proves he means business by firing back with his musket.
After a very short skirmish, the ghost disappears into the ground. We step forward cautiously, Faragel warning us that the ghost isn’t gone for good and could return at any moment. Growing close to the dead body, Caiatus finds a fancy box containing the Seal. Our trimph is extremely short-lived, as the ghost pops his head out of the ground and shoots a purple blast that kills Alban on the spot. Faragel teleports Alban’s body back out of the ghost’s room. Caiatus retreats while Titus and Penelope hold the ghost off. Caiatus restores Alban’s life with a spell, but he’s still unconscious and clinging to life.
The fight continues, Penelope managing to stave off some of the ghost’s nastier attacks. Even his attempt to disintegrate the archer narrowly misses. Titus tries to tactically keep up the fire on the ghost while moving into range to channel and heal Alban. Just as the others revive Alban to the point where he wakes up, however, Penelope’s arrows finally defeat the ghost. He, of course, promises to return for us. In his absence, we find the body of the Emperor that the others died looking for. With both the body and the Seal in our possession, we decide to call it a day and retreat back up. It takes us some time to climb out of the Well of Demons, but eventually do so.
Back up at Camp, we set up a funeral pyre and lay Emperor Shigure to rest. Koya conducts the service, placing his ashes in an urn. The Emperor’s specter manifests and thanks us for putting his body to rest. He gives us the blessing of the Higashiyama family (only four blessings left to go!) and hands a gift to Koya. He also instructs us to “look behind the Dragon in the palace for something cool.” Our time here is not finished, as many blessings still remain. However, after hitting rock bottom with the deaths of our beloved heroes, we still have the faintest glimmer of hope that these new adventurers will be able to finish what the old crew started. This close to the Jade Throne, we still have a long way to go…