The 14th of Trivor, 1329 Avard. The predawn light found Seamus and Angus snoring near Jena, beneath the massive tree near their camp fire. Xzax had awoken from a terrible dream to find N'Kara gone, and he had left out in pursuit before the two Stonehelm brothers awoke. Aust had awoken from the same, terrible dream with a strange sense of Purpose, and had proceeded quickly towards the Burning Sun monastery before the brothers could even contemplate a headache from too much drink.
The bells of the Burning Sun began to toll in the distance, and a moment later, a bright light lit the heavens. The light grew brighter still, casting strange shadows, and then plunged into the forest with a deafening *BOOM*. A moment later, another followed -- and another.
Seamus and Angus struggled awake, while Jena threw on her armor in a furious hurry. Before the two Stonehelms could do much more than blink sluggishly, Jena was on her massive charger, Apple Demon. Cleo dropped into the saddle right behind the paladin of Yatindar. A moment later, Jena was gone into the forest, leaving the elven Stonehelm and the dwarven Stonehelm confused, and perhaps a bit afraid, as another light from the heavens plunged into the forest.
Brother Aust, consumed with Prophecy -- and the visions of the future -- had gone back to the Burning Sun to contact Etre'iya, the High Priestess of all Hallis Island, and of the Burning Sun monastery. Aust told her, in a dream-like trance, of the dopplegangers that were bearing down upon them from the Inquisition. He told her about the alternate future -- and about Al Mudim. And he told her that he would -- might -- become the next Chosen of Xoriah.
The warning was almost too late. The handful of dopplegangers from Aust's memory was actually an army of nearly two-hundred. Etre'iya called down upon the army the wrath of the gods of the Burning Sun, using a wall of powerful winds to keep them hemmed in, until they were destroyed.
The party was confused, still, on what to do. Seamus was determined to use Al Mudim against the other Sister Worlds. Xzax could feel the calling to return to his people, and experience the god-hood of his grandfather. N'Kara was still disgusted with the party's loss of mission and purpose. Cleo had seen something that truly frightened her -- herself, cold, uncaring, cool, and calculating, in that alternate future.
Habrem herself -- the Goddess of Music -- stepped in, and told Seamus that he must destroy Al Mudim, and that it was a weapon of such power, that no one must use it. Her touch upon Seamus' chest, and her kiss upon his cheek, turned his hair permanently white.
The resources of the Burning Sun were placed at the party's command, in the aftermath of the destruction of all of the dopplegangers. Three new members were added to the party -- a constable from Kur Maeth, an alleged thief, and a jack-of-all-trades.
They proceeded back to Gridolin, armed themselves, and prepared for their task with a renewed since of purpose. The Duke of Hallis Island placed 100 minimum-security prisoners at Captain Seamus' disposal, so that they could man the larger Rattler, and have enough crew to handle contingencies at sea. The Rattler was outfitted with a magical item that doubled her speed. Supplies were lain in for a long voyage. Information was gathered, and the new crew was integrated into the old (though with provisions).
News of the war in Rakore was grim. The Stonehelms had been routed, after fighting off the might of an army many times their size, for over three weeks. A huge army was poised to strike at Kashin, and another was rampaging through the forests of the western coasts. Rakore's days seemed to be numbered, but the party could not spare time from their mission, to help their nation.
The 17th of Trivor saw the sun setting, as the Rattler set sail for Spider Werks, to pick up fresh marines, and perhaps, from there, go get Al Mudim.
Again, though, player greed overcame Prophetic muse. Rather than destroy the artifact known as Al Mudim, the party was thinking of finding it, and saving it for use against the other Sister Worlds. The hand of Habrem was forced, and she stepped in to talk with her cleric, Seamus...
Tom has moved to Germany, and was unavailable to play Aust. The old rule of, "We all play, or no one plays," was considered. There was no possibility of Tom returning, any time soon, and so we placed him into an NPC status at the Burning Sun -- at least, until Tom can get in touch with us, and tell us what he wants to happen to NPC.
(sigh) I could easily drag Chapter Four on for many more sessions, but I think this chapter needs to be closed. There are still some issues, both within the party, and within the players, that sort of doomed it from the beginning. It's a hard thing to face, Prophecy. I've made sure to keep it out of the next chapter.