Having gathered everything needed for a foray into the mysterious Seven Jewels of Parnaith—including the intelligent dagger, Shayla; the Orrery showing the conjunction of the colordoors that provide access to the Jewels; and the illitor, a mysterious device intended to create specific tones to open the colordoors—the adventurers were ready to go. They even had the strange floating orb given them by Raguel in the Dark Reliquary.

The Jewels were, in fact, ethereal islands created by the wife of Danar Rotansin (he would later become the infamous monolithic figure known as the Dread One). Delving into the Jewels were Sister Mara von Witten, Zophas Adhar, Aliya Al-Mari, Canabulum, Serai Lorenci, Shurrin Delano, Gaerioth Shadowhand, and Udalaag, the half-dragon/half- umber hulk the group had “adopted.”

A portal in the ethereal palace of the dragon Storamere led them to the first colordoor, which itself was located in a small floating structure high above the city of Ptolus. The Orrery indicated that all of the colordoors orbited Jabel Shammar, the castle atop the Spire.

Wearing the strange illitor, Shurrin rang a small chime that hung from a brass stand. As he did, a swirling vortex of color appeared. With a little nervous hesitation, the members of the group stepped through the colordoor… and found themselves in a small structure exactly like the one they’d left. Except this open edifice (which the group called the “gazebo”) stood on solid ground and had a strange symbol carved on the floor. The sky above was a swirling, silvery gauze of shining lights.

Around them, the adventurers saw only a few trees and a path leading up a hill. A little investigation of their surroundings—thanks to some fly spells—allowed Serai and Aliya to determine that they were indeed on an island floating in the middle of ethereal space. They found an ancient, ruined city and a strange crystal henge blocked from the city by a maelstrom of swirling energy. Within the maelstrom stood a stone tower without feature.

Meanwhile, the others determined that the symbol carved on the floor was the Draconic rune “Orr,” meaning the beginning and the end. Exploring the ruined city, they found an obelisk with a plaque that read, “The Spark of Life, the Spectre of Death. What is important lies in between.” While pondering this statement, the group came across a small boat and a river that cut the ruined city in half. Following the river, Serai saw that it reached the edge of the island and it wrapped around underneath, twisting its orientation as it did (so that it flowed through mid-air).

Eventually, the group found some magical drinks hidden in the hold of the small boat. These drinks allowed them to direct the craft over the edge of the island and wrap around, where they found a magical dock that gave them access to a cavern within the island.

Inside, exploring a strange set of rooms, they came upon a beautiful elvish woman named Daystral. She claimed to know Shayla but only after a confusing exchange did Shurrin realize that Daystral was attempting to use sophisticated illusions to fool everyone and that Shayla was attempting to warn them (but the illusions prevented them from hearing her). Thus they did not fall into Daystral’s trap, but fled instead. As they did, they came upon a pit surrounded by runes. These runes were actually a part of a soul magic spell that forced Canabulum to cast it—another trap! The spell freed a horrible spirit of icy winter named Kartana Roton. During this encounter, a strangely garbed mage named Kor and a bard named Asa showed up and got involved; both were terrified of Kartana Roton and wary of the adventurers as well. In the end, the group wisely joined forces with Kor and Asa to defeat Kartana Roton, imprisoning her back in the pit.

Kor and Asa revealed much about the Jewels of Parnaith to the group. Each Jewel, they said, revolved around a distinct concept. When one has mastered the concept, one can pass on to the next Jewel. Eventually, at the end of this journey, one would attain true enlightenment, and perhaps actual godhood. Otherwise, anyone in the Jewels is trapped forever. (The adventurers did not take this as good news.) Kor and Asa had been here at least 100 years themselves, attempting to proceed along the path. Long, long before they arrived, this Jewel, named Orr, was besieged by terrible forces called the Galchutt. The ruler of this Jewel, a being named Damarcan, sealed himself in the tower and surrounded it with the protective maelstrom.

A divination by Sister Mara suggested that the group needed to go up (“Seek what is above, not what is below”). Kor and Asa told them there was a passageway up to Damarcan’s tower, but that they would face impassable guards and wards. The group scoffed and decided to pass the impassable.

Next Time: We pause in the tale of the Jewels to find out what’s going on with the Company of the Black Lantern.