Having made their way out of Imn, the Jewel of Energy, Mara, Zophas, Aliya, Canabulum, Shurrin, Gaerioth, Serai, and (of course) Udalaag, passed through the next colordoor using the illitor into Av.
Av, Jewel of the Mind
They found themselves in a realm of nothingness—utterly blank and devoid of anything other than whiteness as far as they could see. They pressed on to investigate this place and hopefully find an exit. What they discovered was a strange hole ripped in the fabric of space, a flaw in the Jewel. Through it, they spied a strange ruin, which Gaerioth recognized from his distant homeland of Kem. Serai experimented by casting a spell through the hole and caused the hole to become slightly larger.
The group pressed on into the nothingness.
Eventually, they found something else in the white void. The blank space gave way to a verdant wilderness teeming with life. Within this wilderness stood a wooden palisade fort flying banners that bore the symbol of Lothian. Strange jackal-headed men defended the fort. Mara and Zophas remembered an obscure bit of scripture from the Books of Lothian that spoke of the time after the god rose from the dead. During this time, he counseled a tribe of jackal-like humanoids called sibeccai, and they took his teachings to heart.
However, as soon as the party arrived at the gates, the sibeccai attacked them! Lothian himself had foretold their coming, they said, and bade them destroy these unholy visitors. The adventurers engaged a number of the creatures, including Nalsek the Speaker, a seemingly insane cleric. After a bloody battle, the group is captured and taken to a small cell filled with anti-magic. Only Shurrin escaped.
The captives demanded to see Varen, whom they knew to be the ruler of Av. Finally, someone arrived to see them: It wasn’t Varen, but a sibeccai named Savan the Dreamer. Savan led the local sibeccai by virtue of the dreams he has, apparently sent by Lothian. Varen was dead, he told them.
Aliya sensed that Savan was not what he seemed. When pressed, he admitted that he was not a sibeccai, but a being called an arcanaloth. He said he had been trapped in the world since its creation and wanted out. He had spent his entire life in the world fomenting strife, such as the magical wars in Kem that inadvertently created the rift that sent him here. He found the sibeccai to be easily manipulated through the insane Nalsek. He has seen many others pass through this Jewel over the millennia (creatures do not age in the Jewels of Parnaith), some of whom would go on to return to the world as gods. But Savan managed to get something of value and power from each of them as they passed by.
Much to the dismay of some of the others, Gaerioth offered Savan the location of the Book of Darkness in exchange for their freedom. Savan accepted. Meanwhile, however, outside the fort, Shurrin met a sibeccai named Malteris the Heretic, who rejected Savan and his “words of Lothian.” Malteris helped Shurrin sneak into the fortress to free his friends.
A terrible battle ensued, Savan disappeared, and the adventurers (and Malteris) fled down a sealed shaft that led below the fortress and back into the white void. The sibeccai refused to enter the void, and the group was safe.
While resting here, the heroes spent a great deal of time focusing on the nature of this strange place. They realized that Av, the Jewel of the Mind, was shaped and controlled by subconscious (and sometimes conscious) thought. With this realization, they achieved enlightenment and actually mastered the Jewel, not needing the silver orb to “cheat” as they had in the others.
Using their mastery of this concept, they focused their minds jointly on finding the “key” to the Jewel. A sphere of energy appeared and fired beams of light at them, as in the other Jewels.
Before leaving, they summoned an astral deva to go to Nalsek and see if he could be healed of his madness. With Savan gone, perhaps the sibeccai could return to the right path, they reasoned: Their faith was strong, just misplaced. In exchange for a powerful sword Canabulum had found in a previous Jewel, the deva agreed to see what could be done for Nalsek, then return Gaerioth to Ptolus. Believing that the trip through the Jewels of Parnaith was not the right path for him after all, the monk desired to return to his friends in the Company of the Black Lantern.
While in Av, Mara had an odd dream about a lost elven City of Dreams called Dreta Phantas. A strange creature/structure there told her: “We are your only protection in the coming storm. To get here there are three beings who each have something you need: the Dreamer, the Dreamspeaker, and the Dreamwalker.” Upon telling her companions of the dream, they all decided that the Dreamer was Savan—now long gone, probably after the Book of Darkness—and the Dreamspeaker was Mara, but they did not know who the Dreamwalker was. Ironically, even as they wondered, the Company of the Black Lantern knew all too well the identity of the Dreamwalker… but that’s another story.
Ath, Jewel of the Spirit
The next Jewel was Ath, Jewel of the Spirit. The group members appeared there amid a terrible snowstorm. They attempted to make their way through it and but were attacked by a white dragon and an ice devil. After defeating these foes, they discovered a keep run by the Order of the Steadfast Heart, whose members claimed to be followers of the Way. They had all taken an oath to protect the few remaining inhabitants of the Jewel from the servants of the winter harridan who had slain the jewel’s ruler, Faranastra the Faithful. The winter harridan herself served the Galchutt, the mighty creatures who besieged the Jewels of Parnaith long ago. Although the Galchutt were long gone from here, the harridan remained. Having encountered a harridan named Kartana Roton in the first Jewel, the heroes knew how powerful they were.
They offered to use their power to bring Faranastra back from the dead. Amazed by such power and willingness to help, two members of the order swore a new oath to follow the adventurers and aid and protect them. Their names were Amlond and Imuit.
With these new companions, the party trekked through ice and snow to reach the tomb of Faranastra. Of course, it was well guarded by icy demons and frost giants—sent by the harridan to keep anyone from doing just what the heroes planned! After the group overcame the guardians, they succeeded in raising Faranastra from the dead.
Faranastra thanked them and gave assurances that, now that the winter harridan could not take her by surprise, she could be victorious over the invader. She then showed them the key and exit from the Jewel, and the group once again “cheated” its way out with the silver orb, taking Amlond and Imuit with them.
Unn, Jewel of Magic
Unn was the sixth Jewel, the Jewel of Magic. Here, the group found a comfortable, wooded island with many towers. Each, the heroes soon learned, was the home of either one of the many sorcerous offspring of Leisarth, the realm’s original ruler, or an individual hoping to gain enlightenment and pass into the final Jewel.
After encountering much treachery from the offspring of Leisarth, they learned that the next and last Jewel, Esh, was a direct conduit to the Elder Gods. To get there, one must find an obelisk hidden from view. Scouting in the air using a fly spell, Aliya found the obelisk on a small floating island high above Unn. There, they used the orb to activate the obelisk, which was made entirely of Vallis moonstone. This provided them with the key and the exit.
Esh, the Jewel of Divinity
Finally, after long adventures, the group passed through the last colordoor into Esh, the Jewel of Divinity. Esh appeared to be a wide crater, with 1,500-foot-tall walls of sheer rock. Along the walls stood statues of the Elder Gods, rising 1,500 feet above them as well. After a terrifying encounter with the spawn of Nathrak, the Elder God of Destruction (in which Amlond was destroyed), the group flew out of the crater and found that it was merely a small hole in a much, much larger statue of another god, whom they took to be Praemus, the Creator.
At the top of the statue, they encountered a small boy who spoke in a strangely fatherly tone. He seemed to expect them. With a wave of his hand, the silver orb flew to him, and he looked into it. He said, “Your parents wish to speak to you,” and flung the orb into the crater, where it fell to the feet of the statues of the Elder Gods. He told the group, “You were right to trust him,” referring of course to Raguel, who’d given them the orb, “even though it appeared you should not. It got you here in time.”
The boy explained that the heroes’ home, the world of Praemal, was a prison created to trap the Galchutt and keep them from getting at the rest of the multiverse. Nothing that came into the world could ever leave, and the people—including the adventurers—were all wardens of this prison. The Creator had given them all power with which to fight the evil machinations of the Galchutt, he said… and with a touch of the small boy’s hand, a mystical rune suddenly appeared on the face or hand of each hero. All people of the world were runechildren, he explained.
He told them that great changes were coming. After a 20,000-year absence, the Vallis moon was returning, and along with it the Lords of the Seven Chains. These chains were the physical representations of the forces that bound the Galchutt to Praemal and kept the world together. These terrible lords of chaos sought to break the chains and thus destroy the world to enact their escape.
He assured the heroes that all was not lost, however. Many safeguards existed. He urged them to seek out the city of Dreta Phantas, where already the ancient elves were making preparations. He told them of an artifact called the diadem that could protect them from the power of the Galchutt, but cautioned that Danar Rotansin (who would become the Dread One) had mistakenly considered it an evil bane and hidden it away long ago. The boy also promised them that the Elder Gods were returning as well and could aid them in their struggle.
Lastly, Aliya asked the boy about Calista, recently freed from the Dark Reliquary. For all her life she had felt a connection with this woman but didn’t know why. The boy told her that Calista was her cousin. The demons would not have held her prisoner for so long unless she had some purpose or knowledge vital to them—and perhaps to everything.
Then Esh faded, and the adventurers found themselves back in Ptolus, with a shining new green moon in the sky overhead….
Next: Back to the saga of the Black Lantern, the chaos machine, and not one but two liches!