The Immortals had proven themselves that their namesake was merited. Before them, the vrock laid dead at their feet. Ruil’s wounds were healed enough so that he could rise to see the outcome he had hoped his friends could accomplish, that being finishing what he had fought so hard to do. From that last fight, it was obvious the drow were indeed prepared for an assault by the elves and had allowed false scouting reports to leak to Crying Leaf. Thoughts then turned to Allevrah and the mysterious Winter Council. As drow were elves, it made sense that there would indeed be at least one on the Council as they were the ones that influenced all elves across Golarion. If that was the case however, then it was a secret kept from the elves for centuries.
Horribly wounded, with Citrine nearly out of spells, the Immortal's needed to pray for healing spells. Not wanted to leave the <place><placetype>Academy</placetype> of <placename>Arts</placename></place>, Corthana took out one of her scrolls and cast the spell, creating a small pocket demiplane. A rope led up to it, and everyone climbed up; all save Gunderhoff. He looked up and said that he did not climb. Yet after some coercing, and a threat by Ruil to physically throw him up, he agreed to go up.
During the eight hours, thoughts turned to Niko. Gunderhoff didn't really care, but both Corthana and Ruil mourned their fallen comrade. They asked Citrine why she hadn't brought the drake back to life with her revivify scroll. Citrine defended her actions by saying she was too busy defending Gunderhoff. In truth however, she had always despised Niko. He had after all been an evil creature, even admitting to eating non-drow elves.
After a few hours, the pocket began fading, and it was time to leave. Their wounds at been healed by Citrine and Gunderhoff, and thus they were more than prepared for whatever dared to impede their path. There did remain one last room to explore, the one the third elven group had attacked. The room was covered with blood, and drag marks indicated something had been dragged out. The room itself had a large pool in the middle, and Ruil said it was an ancient meditation chamber.
Just before the four decided to abandon the obvious empty room, Citrine heard the water begin moving. She looked on to see two large watery creatures emerge from its depths. Ruil quickly scanned his brain as to what they were, and all he could come up with was that these were water elementals. Yet how best defend or attack them was lost to him at the moment. He thus decided upon his reliable greatsword. Using a new technique he had been practicing, he dashed in as fast as he could, slashed his sword, and then exited the elementals attack range before it could counter swipe. The blade seemed to inflict some damage, but Ruil felt the water of the beast push back some of the momentum of his swing.
Citrine moved into the fray, her scimitar slashing and encountering the same resistance to her blade. Corthana then let fly her daggers, but each one simply bounced off the watery creatures. Gunderhoff then moved next to Citrine, his flaming hammer smashing water to mist. The two water elementals, seeing the dwarf as the biggest threat, pounded the stocky man with their thunderous fists. Yet after the assault, Gunderhoff emerged unscathed, with barely a dent in his armor.
Ruil then channeled electricity through his sword and was about to bring the pain down when a splash of water hit him in the eye, blinding him for just a few seconds. Citrine however found a vulnerable place and cut away more watery essence. Corthana decided to help Ruil attack defensively as her daggers were of no effect. Gunderhoff continued showing everyone he was more than piece of unmalleable steel by again hitting an elemental hard with his hammer. In response, both elemental put all their power into their slams, in an attempt to get in a lucky hit. The future dwarven defender was up to the task. His armor shuddered through the impacts, but easily took the stress.
By then Ruil had recovered from his blindness and cut the nearest elemental with steel and electricity, causing it to cry out in pain. Citrine then blasted the same one with fire, causing the beast to shudder in near death. And such was the case upon the end of Gunderhoff's mighty warhammer as it smashed the elemental down. The other elemental, having no luck hitting Gunderhoff, turned its attention on Citrine. Her defenses however were far above the norm and she dodged and parried both swings. Ruil capitalized upon the attention on his friend by electrocuting the elemental through his greatsword, nearly ending the fight with that one attack.
Citrine blasted the creature with fire, but the elemental was able to dodge part of the attack, taking minor burns. Gunderhoff then smashed it with his hammer. In desperation it slammed its whole body into Citrine, crushing two of her ribs. Ruil then cut the elemental yet again, but still the elemental stood its ground. It was sweet vengeance for Citrine however as her scimitar cut aside the last bit of life the water elemental possessed.
With only one last room to explore, the Immortals headed there. Ruil detected no magic on the door, yet a listen at the door, they heard the pulsing of something very powerful. If the aboleth was to be believed, the Armageddon Echo was on the other side. Corthana meanwhile began tinkering with the lock on the door, finally picking it open after a full twenty minutes work. Once she succeeded, Citrine cast an array of offensive and defensive powers upon herself, transforming into an incredibly powerful warrior.
As usual, Gunderhoff was first to enter. He and the rest of the Immortals beheld a huge glowing purple portal. That was not the primary concern at the moment however. That prize belonged to Kardrogas the drow barbarian screamed as he charged at the first person he saw. Gunderhoff felt the greatsword scrape across his scalp, cutting a few hairs and discharging a shock right to his brain.
Corthana launched a trio of daggers, all aimed low, tripping the raging drow where he stood. The drow however was quick to get to his feet, taking a hit from Gunderhoff but slashing Corthana right under the ribcage, exposing bone, and causing her body to shake with convulsions at the shear brutality of the hit. For a split second, she saw the glow of the afterlife calling, before reality came back to her, over the gravity of the wound she had just sustained.
Ruil saw his friend's plight and charged in, throwing all his weight into his next swing. The sheer power absolutely blasted the rage in Kardrogas right out of the barbarian, as well as impaling the drow all the way through. Citrine meanwhile quickly healed Corthana with a powerful spell to mend the gash upon the spellthief. Gunderhoff then swung his hammer, while Corthana waited for the drow to bring home the pain. Yet the dwarfs aim was off, and he hit nothing but air.
Kardrogas wanted blood. He wanted to kill one last person before is life was taken from him. And so he again attacked Corthana, cutting her twice. Ruil, wanting to surprise the barbarian, dimensional hopped right next to him and cut the drow from behind twice. Citrine then impaled Kardrogas twice more, bringing the drow to one knee. Gunderhoff then smashed the barbarian in the face, ending the fight.
Citrine healed up some of Corthana's wounds, while Gunderhoff sent forth several small healing waves to help everyone. With two of the remaining charges from the wand they were able to identify the magical items Kardrogas possesses. Both sword and armor went to Corthana, although given the weight of the blade, Ruil was asked to hold onto it.
Attention now turned to the room and its contents. Ruil noticed a stone upon the floor which he identified as a piece of the Cypher Gate. After doing some brainstorming, he realized that it likely had a part in the portals actual creation. Now though, the stone had no significance. Destroying the stone was supposedly an impossible feat anyway, yet the drow had found a way to break this one off of the gate in Riddleport. Using his knowledge in all things arcane, Ruil also noticed that the portal itself was slowly closing. It seemed thus that if the Immortals were to enter it, then it would be a one way trip unless they could find some other means to get back.
Fearing they might be attacked on the other side, the four starting thinking of a plan. They decided to imbibe potions of invisibility and go through, with the exception of Corthana who dived into the shadows. Once they crossed the threshold of the portal, they found themselves in a huge city, one very familiar to them. It was the ancient elven city of <city><place>Celwynvian</place></city>, but completely intact. The sky itself was a purple color, and amongst it was a huge meteor heading toward the city. To their left, a smaller meteor crashed through a tower, sending elves running through the streets. Throughout the city, more and more smaller stones fell from the sky, creating explosions of stone and fire where they struck. Ruil used his knowledge of all things nature and predicted that the big meteor would strike within two days. One fear of the Immortals was alleviated as behind them, the portal was still active. Ruil again put his studies to the test and deduced that their presence was similar to the shadow plane, although no quite as dark.
As the Immortals continued talking, four strange drow-like creatures lunged out; attempting to find the location the Immortals were standing in. Two of their claws found Citrine and Gunderhoff, but their undead claws bounced off the magical armor of the heroes. The blast shadows, now knowing there were foes to be slain, emanated a cloud of burning ash, burning all those who were nearby. They then clawed out, but again armor resisted their puny strikes. Corthana was quick to throw her dagger, with one hitting a pair of creatures right in the face and sending them to the ground. Gunderhoff then smashed the one on the ground, crushing brittle bones.
Ruil too concentrated his attacks upon the blast shadow on the ground, his greatsword and electricity doing massive internal injuries, but not making the creature scream in pain, indicating the things were likely undead. Citrine prayed to Sarenrae, asking her to destroy her foes. Alas the light from the holy symbol didn't shine as bright in the Armageddon Echo, and failed to do anything. Now with the Immortals fully visible, the blast shadows attacked, with the two on the floor rising and their burning auras scorching the Immortals. Three of them clawed at Ruil, but even not cloaked in magic, their claws missed Ruil. The fourth one meanwhile clawed at Citrine, but was unsuccessful.
Corthana aimed her dagger at three different blast shadows, trying to trip them all. This time the creatures resisted the momentum of the daggers. Gunderhoff, being in the middle of the action, sent a wave of healing energy that healed everyone and harmed the undead. The weakened blast shadow collapsed to the ground and then exploded in a ball of fire, burning everyone in a death burst. Corthana however jump aside of the flames, taking no damage.
Ruil by then was quite angry. Angry not at the whole situation, but rather at his fellow Immortals. His heart screamed for death upon his enemies by his own sword, yet it seemed that his friends continued stealing his kills. He again swung at the nearest undead, attempting to channel electricity through his blade. The pain from the death blast was to much however and he lost his spell. His sword did however inflict a significant wound. Citrine then slashed with her sword, wounding it further.
It seemed as though the blast shadows were being given instructions from a far off place as they maneuvered themselves strategically to burn as many Immortals as possible. This time one of them managed to claw at Ruil's neck, a small fire ball erupting into the wound right after the hit. With her friends wounded, she tried thinking of something else to do. She again tried to trip two of the blast shadows, but they again stood their ground. Gunderhoff sent another wave of healing out, injuring and harming those he wanted. Ruil struck again at the greatly injured undead, but again it somehow stood its ground.
Yet again a blast shadow got in a lucky hit upon Ruil, bringing him closer and closer to darkness. Citrine then went to her trusted scimitar, cutting through black flesh. It and its friend clawed at Citrine, but she had taken on a defensive stance, making it more difficult to hit her. The other blast shadows attacks were blocked by Ruil's blade, although its cloud again burned his flesh. Gunderhoff again prayed to Torag and sent forth a wave of healing energy, destroying a second blast shadow. It in turn blew up, created a wave of fire. Gunderhoff, Ruil and Citrine were prepared for it and braced themselves for the impact. Corthana however wanted to show off her rogue skills by jumping over the blast. Yet her timing was simply too fast, and as she finished her summersault, she found herself directly within the fires.
Citrine then attacked the weaker of the blast shadows, slaying it and creating yet another fireball. This time, everyone was expecting the fire, and moved accordingly to avoid the flames as much as possible. Corthana threw her daggers, sending the remaining one to the ground. Gunderhoff then used his remaining healing wave to mend burns and harm undead. Corthana waved back to the dwarf, silently laughing at her private joke. Ruil then stepped up and cut the undead where it laid. Citrine too cut it several times, with her last attack activating the blast shadows death thrash.
A quick search of the debris turned up nothing. Citrine healed up everyone's wounds, after which it was decided that they needed to ask the elves what the heck was going on. They looked to an elf who had observed the entire battle. He said his name was Borak, although his true name was Arkaxis under the effects of a disguise self spell. He said he would do what he could to help them with their queries. There was great fear in his eyes over the disaster happening around him, and in fact he asked Ruil why the warrior was not running like the rest of the populace? He also asked if the Immortals had come to stop the calamity in the sky? Ruil said he and his friends were not from the city. As for aid, he said it was an uncertain thing.
Borak then began responding to their questions. He said that the drow, or strange elves, starting appearing seven days ago. As it happened, the drow appeared right after meteor was detected in the sky. The elves of Celwynvian had mostly fled, but many, including Borak, believed the meteor would miss the town. He also said that recently the drow had carried several elves from the portal, all bloodied as though from a battle. He said he heard the drow talking about going to the Fluted Goblet, one of the only remaining taverns that had not abandoned humanity. Citrine then asked if they served meat, to which Borak responded yes. Corthana asked him what was up with the shadowy haze in the air, to which Borak asked what she meant, saying that the air had always been so. Several other questions led to no answers, however Borak did direct them to speak with an Azlanti emissary from Thassilon named Tolgren. He also showed the Immortal's a map of the town, along with several locations of interest.
Now the questions and suppositions starting being thrown around. It was obvious that there were elves to rescue in this the Armageddon Echo. Nolveniss was the one who had created the portal to this plane. As to whether Allevrah was here or not was unknown. There was no way to know whether the Armageddon Echo was an illusionary or not, although evidence pointed to the former. From what was known in the history, the First Darkness was caused by a huge meteor striking Golarion and wiping out Thassilon, as well as chasing the elves to the plane of Sovereign, used the Sovereign Stone artifact in the elven continent of Kyonin. What was impossible to surmise was whether they had been transported back in the past or not. And if they somehow stopped the meteor, whether that would prevent the First Darkness from even happening. What happened if they were able to save even one elf that was fated to die? With an actual Thassilonian within Celwynvian, answers would likely be around the corner.
The door was open to Tolgren's resistance. The man was taller than most humans, with an almost superior look to him without trying to appear so. He beckoned the Immortal's to enter, in the hopes of a pleasant conversation. Around him were many books of various subjects. The Immortals explained that they were visitors from the future, showing them the piece of the cyphergate as proof. Tolgren explained that the device was near construction, and seemed to accept their story. He said that, the cyphergate was a huge device that would permit the Runelords to look back in time, although the possibility to actually go back in time using the device was not outside the realm of possibility. He then spoke of the strange dark elves and how they asked about portals, rune magic, and time travel. Upon request, Tolgren gave the location of the cyphergate, which corresponded to the current one, although the name of Riddleport meant nothing to the Thassilon sage.
Ruil then decided to detect magical auras. He noticed that most of Tolgren's equipment glowed. Ruil then surmised that perhaps there was information in the past that the drow needed for what they were doing in their time. After further questions. Tolgren said that the drow had been very kind to all they had met. He also theorized that the elves were not the targets of the meteor, but rather simply collateral damage. He believed it was Thassilon that was the target. The reason being because Thassilon had borrowed all of their magic from the aboleths, and that it was likely them that had called the meteor to punish the Thassilon nation for the believed transgression. As for the location of the Sovereign stone, it was located within Kyonin. The mages in Celwynvian were currently teleported elves to that location. Tolgren also said that babau demons had been seen with the drow.
After spending a few hours of rest in Tolgren's home, memorizing spells, and listening to small meteors crashing into buildings around the city, the Immortals went to the Fluted Goblet, where they assumed the final battle with the drow would take place. Yet upon entering, the place was surprisingly empty. Only the bartender (the assassin Arkaxis again using his disguise self) was present, and he was thrilled to have clients. He said he had no intention of leaving his bar to the wrath of the gods. He also said that the drow had left about a day ago, but that they had enjoyed their steak tartar. That got everyone's attention, and they all ordered food and drink.
After it was brought out, Citrine did a detect poison on the food, but found nothing. They all thus sat down upon the chairs and the hidden poison needles. Ruil and Corthana felt the poison course through their veins. A few seconds later, Ruil felt a small crossbow bolt fly over his head as he ducked to eat some soup. He heard a curse from the kitchen as Arkaxis had missed with his assassination attempt. From the walls emerged a pair of shadows, as well as a shadow mastiff. The great beast lunged at Ruil, but he dodged the attack. The shadows meanwhile lunged towards Citrine and Corthana, with the spellthief feeling some of her strength drained from the touch. Arkaxis then emerged from the kitchen, his rapier leading the way to stab through Ruil's back.
Turning from the pain, Ruil's greatsword came cleaving down, creating a huge gaping wound in the drow’s chest. Gunderhoff pounded the mastiff, sending shadowy blood flowing. Citrine then blasted the shadows to dust with Sarenrae's blessing. Corthana let fly her daggers at the assassin, wounded him further. Arkaxis again stabbed at Ruil, this time hitting a kidney. Ruil counter attacked, again slashing Arkaxis. Gunderhoff then smashed the shadow mastiff again, nearly bringing it down. Citrine finished the beast off with a fiery blast, leaving a very wounded assassin. Corthana again let fly her daggers, this time only catching the drow with a slight slash. Arkaxis stabbed feebly at Corthana, but there was no force in the blow, and rather than die needlessly, he threw down his blade and surrendered.
After some healing and restorations from Citrine, questions turned to Arkaxis. They asked him what his weapons were, and who he was. Ruil decided that cutting off the assassin's finger would encourage him to speak honestly. Arkaxis said that Nolveniss had created the Armageddon Echo using a piece of the Cypher Gate to observe the First Darkness in order to perfect Allevrah's plan. He also said that in order to return to the real world, one needed the shadow key; which Nolveniss possessed. Nolveniss had returned time and time again to observe the event that had changed the world ten thousand years ago. As for Allevrah being a Winter Council member, Arkaxis seemed surprised at the thought, saying she was nothing of the sort. As for where to find Nolveniss, the mage could be found at the <place><placename>Crystal</placename> <placename>Conservatory</placename></place>. The assassin then proposed a deal to buy his services as he had no loyalty to Allevrah and his gang. He said he didn't want anything to do with Allevrah's ultimate plan of exterminating the elves. There seemed to be a general acceptance for the hiring of the assassin, save that the decision always seemed to fall on Ruil's blade. And after a quick slash to the assassin's throat, the decision was made.
The Immortals decided to head off to a chapel to see about the possibility of acquiring some scrolls and potions. They still had yet to determine whether things within the Echo were real or not. The nearest temple was abandoned, leaving the four to pillage to their hearts delight. The scrolls they found were written in some ancient language, and upon inspection, it was obvious that should they be read, their magic would have no effect. Ruil meanwhile drank a potion to cure her wounds, only to see his wounds remain. There was indeed a portion at least to the Echo that was false.
After consulting their map, they arrived at the <place><placename>Crystal</placename> <placename>Conservatory</placename></place>. They encountered no resistance at all, which in itself was odd. Within were various plants, most of which were now extinct. A few hours of searching came up with nothing. It appeared that Arkaxis had lied to them, as was the way of drow. Undeterred however, the Immortal's began asking people around town if they had seen a dragon enter a building. Their efforts were rewarded as they were pointed towards the Observatory.
Two Echo elf guards said they could not enter. Yet upon seeing an elf within their midst and having Ruil say that the humans were with them, they stepped aside. The doors to the Observatory opened with ease, revealing a huge chamber with a model of the solar system in the ceiling. At a long table, playing cards, were five rather startled drow guards. They were quick to react to the intrusion. A hail of crossbow bolts flew Gunderhoff’s way, all of them bouncing off his shield. A magical darkness then encompassed the room, making it more difficult to hit. The captain drow named <place><city>Lexington</city></place> meanwhile cast a hold person on Gunderhoff, freezing the dwarf in place.
Corthana launched her daggers at two of the nearest drow, hitting two of them and sending them to the ground. Gunderhoff used all of his will power to push through the enchantment finding his movements and was able to break through it. Ruil then went into the room, and cut a drow down with steel and lightening. Citrine then threw her daylight spell stone expecting the sun to encompass the room, only to see nothing happen as the Armageddon plane enveloped the spell as it did all light spells. The drow soldiers put aside their crossbows and took out their rapiers. Their blades were aimed at Gunderhoff but most of them bounced off his armor, save for one minor cut. <place><city>Lexington</city></place> then cast a sound burst spell, shaking everyone's brains with sonic energy.
Ruil attacked another drow, but this time the darkness impeded his movement. Citrine however was able to find the drow and cut him good. <city><place>Lexington</place></city> commanded two of the drow to aim for Ruil, who took a rapier stab in the gut. The captain meanwhile cast a spiritual weapon. Corthana, now with a clean view on the captain, launched her daggers and catching him once. Citrine again stabbed the drow, nearly slaying it. Ruil meanwhile again found himself having trouble in the darkness finding his target.
<place><city>Lexington</city></place> sent his spiritual weapon upon Corthana, cutting her across the back. He then cast a protection spell to aid his defense. The other drow both attacked Ruil, but he batted aside the blades. Gunderhoff then moved into the fray and smashed the weakest drow to the ground and continuing to raise his frag count. Ruil continued his drow massacre and cut another drow down. Corthana threw her daggers at another drow, wounding and tripping him. Citrine impaled that same foe, her blade going clean his throat.
With his troops dead, the captain ran to the door and opened it, screaming something in undercommon. Ruil charged at the drow, trying to get him away from the drow. Yet <city><place>Lexington</place></city> was quicker, stabbing the warrior and getting out of the way. Corthana reached for her returning dagger as it came back, but she miscalculated her catching hand and nearly dropped it. Citrine was there however with her magic, immolating the captain with fire.
After a few healing spells by Citrine, they were ready to move on. With their resources at an all time low, Corthana passed a potion of healing to Ruil. Gunderhoff then sent out a wave of healing energy, healing more of everyone's cuts. The Immortals then entered the room the captain had wanted to take refuge in and came face to face with a rather fearsome troglodyte. Yet in a matter of twelve seconds, it was just another enemy left trampled in their wake.
From the next room, they heard the cry of help. The voice was very familiar, belonging to Eviana. Gunderhoff was first into the room, and came face to face with the fearful Razorhorn; bane of the <place><placename>Miereni</placename> <placetype>Forest</placetype></place>. The dwarf quickly called back to his friends to drink their potions of acid resistance while he too did the same. Sure enough, Razorhorn breathed forth his breath weapon, catching Ruil as well in the spray. After seeing the results, or lack thereof from his own acid breath, Razorhorn seemed to pause in perplexity, as though he was trying to solve a problem whose solution was right before him.
Gunderhoff used the distraction and attacked but his hammer bounced off scales. Corthana meanwhile took out her Book of Sniping to see if there was anything she could do against such a fearsome foe. She thought she found something, but her precise thrown dagger bounced off scales as well. Citrine decided to cast divine power in order to give herself some better armaments for the fight. Ruil then blasted Razorhorn with scorching rays, bringing the first cries of pain from. Although the wyrm wanted to inflict pain upon Ruil, he was too far away, and so opted to go all out on Citrine. The cleric was battered by horn, wings, and tail, making the cleric pay for entering near him.
Gunderhoff again tried to hit with his hammer, but the wyrm’s defenses were too great. Against such a creature, the dwarf needed luck. As did his friend Corthana whose daggers continued to bounce off impenetrable scales. Ruil continued to use his friends as cover and blasted fire from his hands, melting flesh and scales. Razorhorn again went for Citrine, but now she had engaged all her defenses, deflecting all the dragon's attacks. She then used a new spell that teleported her a small distance right in back of Razorhorn. She then cut a chunk out of the dragon's spine, nearly disabling the beast.
Ruil again blasted it with fire, wounded it more. Razorhorn again attacked Citrine, but its nerves were partially severed and it could only find the strength to claw. The attack was laughable and she deflected it, then countered with a swipe to its throat. The power of the blow flipped the dragon up into the air, where it landed dead at Citrine’s feat.
Nearby, they came to a cell door, where within they found a very hurt Eviana. She implored the Immortal’s to go to the other cell and free the other prisoners. Corthana took her time and opened the lock. Inside, however, they found a sight of true gore. Upon the floor were ten elves, all dead, and all without their heads.