After getting the third and final signature on their council writ, the adventurers made their way over to the doors of Champion's Keep. A rather uninterested guard reluctantly summoned his commanding officer to inspect the writ. The officer subsequently summoned the seneschal to have a look at it, and after much more reluctancy, the writ was approved. The seneschal told them that the council meeting was to convene in one week, and that they would be allowed in.
Realizing that they now had a week to kill, the group members went back to the Shining Light Inn to recuperate some more and make some errands for supplies. They then started to do some more investigating into what was wrong with the Champions in the city. Walking through the streets, they noticed that the Champions were seemgingly going through the motions of their jobs with no thought or feeling. Devon was able to pass his hands in front of one of the Champions' faces without any notice. Far worse than that, the Champions were also oblivious to any crime in the city, which was accellerating beyond control and was barely abated by the Gorethites and the Maidens who began taking over their duties. Lorilean played the taverns at night and determined that the personality break happened about three months ago and occured quickly, but no other odd events happened around that time.
The heroes wondered if this affected the clerics of O'Ma in the city as well. They made their way over to the Temple of O'Ma and found sure enough that the clerics suffered from the same effect. Koriel got himself a guest room in the temple as a courtesty to a fellow man of the cloth, and proceeded to inspect the area. All of the priests and acolytes acted the same way.
A couple nights later, Lucius, Devon and Koriel followed an acolyte to his bedroom as he was retiring for the night. They watched him mechanically lay down and sleep. Approaching the sleeping acolyte, Koriel used magic to command him to awaken, which the acolyte did. However, he only stared straight ahead while awake. Neither Devon nor Koriel could get him to engage in any conversation beyond simple questions and answers, which were never useful.
At that point, Koriel told Lucius simply to pick the acolyte up and heft him over his shoulder, which Lucius did. The three of them then carried the acolyte back to the Inn. On the way to the Inn, the acolyte straightened up and stiffened like a board, mimicking the motions associated with going to sleep. That required two of the men to carry him.
When inspected by the rest of the party, they could not figure out what to do. The party decided it was best to take him to the Temple of Gorethar to ask them what Troka thought. That night, however, the guard to the temple told them Troka would not see them until morning. They waited around with the sleeping acolyte until she awoke, but precisely at sunrise, the acolyte woke up and began to struggle. Luckily, he had been tied up and could not move very well.
After some more tests on the acolyte, like seeing whether or not he can cast spells, which he could, the party was met by the high priestess of Gorethar. Unfortunately, she did not know the answer, but she was aware that not only were the Champions in that automaton state, so were all those who received spells from O'Ma. This troubled everyone, but on the side, Lucius, Devon, Elrik, and Koriel came up with a plan.
While Idril and Lorelian were not looking that evening, Lucius and Devon took the acolyte into an alley and killed him. They then brought him to Koriel who was waiting outside the Temple of Dru'El to bring the acolyte into the temple. Once there, they found the high priest who raised the acolyte after some discussion about where they found a body of an O'Ma acolyte. "Someone must have mugged and killed him. We don't know."
When the acolyte awoke, he was himself again, though he had no memories from the past 3 months! The last thing he remembered was the mid-summer fair. When told of his friends and associates' condition, he wanted to see them immediately, so he was taken by the party to the Temple of O'Ma. Deciding that he needed to pray over the matter, Koriel sympathetically allowed him to come back to his Inn room and pray over night. The cleric awoke the next morning just fine, but when he prayed his morning devotions, he came out of them an automaton once again. He then got up and walked back to the temple. Koriel sadly let him go.... and he was just beginning to like the guy.
This distressed Koriel greatly. He explained to the others that something must be wrong with their god, O'Ma, to produce symptoms like this. He had no idea what, however.
Making their way to the Keep to attend the council meeting, the heroes were ushered in by the guards after the same lengthy checks on their writ. After waiting in an antechamber, they were shown to a room with Sarmon, the head of the Champions! Unfortunately, he seemed to be an automaton like the rest of O'Ma's people. The party realized this wasn't going to be easy.
They pleaded with Sarmon to see that things were greatly amiss, and it took several tries to get through to him. Finally, Sarmon seemed to come out of a trance for a brief second, which caused him to struggle internally. His polymorph seemed to waver a bit, and his hand gained a slight dragon-claw-like appearance briefly. He then went into a grand seizure and raked the back of his neck wide open with the claw. Blood spurted out everywhere and he screamed. Dropping to the ground shaking, he managed to scream a seires of words before dying, "O'Ma is in trouble! The world is in great danger! Seek the heir of Tupaia! Vanoviel will know what to do." Then he stopped breathing and lay bleeding on the foor.
Unfortunately, the other Champions picked that moment to stream into the room, apparently awakened from their trance just in time to see the party standing over Sarmon's dead body. Immediately, they were accused of Sarmon's murder and thrown in a jail cell. The next day, the Champions who imprisoned them once again were automatized.
In the jail cell, the heroes had no way out. However, Devon found an air shaft about 60 feet up on the ceiling of the cell tower they occupied. He was able to spider climb up the wall and go through it. Retrieving the party's stuff on the other side, they made a quick escape down through the sewers to the Temple of Gorethar.
Troka listened to their story and told them they had to get out of Elysia. The heir of Tupaia, she believed, was the Arch-Druid of Dagroth Woods, and they should go see him. She gave them directions and they made their way over.
Going through the woods, the party noticed that the animals were running amok... some attacking them out of nowhere. Falling through a sink hole, the party landed in a small cave complex where there were many spiders who had a curiously hard rocky looking skin. Fighting their way through these spiders in the cave complex, they came across a very large pile of boulders by an exit. Making their way to climb over the boulders, they were stopped by the biggest spider they had ever seen.... easily 10 feet in diameter. The spider spoke to them. It said not to climb over the "body of the father". Evidently, it was rumored that Tupaia had a pet dokofu spider from Khanjar Kuro and the rumors were correct. This "body of the father" was the carcass of that spider, long dead of old age. The spiders in the cave were his hybrid offspring... and they were hungry, so the spider talking to them mentioned.
It came down to a pitched battle against the spiders, and after nearly dying a few times, the party won out. They made their way back into the woods and rested for a day there.
Making their way over to the grove, they finally found the druids of O'Ma and the heir of Tupaia, a handsome man with streaks of violet in his hair and some other slight dryadic features. Unfortunately, he was in the same state as Sarmon. So, bracing themselves for what might come, the heroes told him the story.
The results were the same. The Archdruid went into a fit and stabbed himself in the back of the head with a daggar. With his dying breath he stated, "Vanoviel can save O'ma, Seek a deeper cause. The companions can show you the way." The party was immediately surrrounded by a grove full of druids, powerful druids, and attacked for the murder of their leader.
The battle was going badly. Rains of hail and lightening fell around the heroes. Spikes rose up from the ground. Flaming blades of magical energy sprang to life... and that was before they even got attacked. Just when everyone was about to die, however, a powerful blast of magic dispelled all of the enchantments in the area, including many of the enchanted weapons carried by the party. Clearing the air, the party saw the druids surrounded by no less than 60 Champions....
The Champions claimed the party as their prisoners for the murder of Sarmon, and took them from the druids, who gave them up without a blink.... they were then thrown back in the same cell as before, except this time the air shaft was warded and magical protections prevented spellcasting and psionics from within. Thinking they were only delaying their death, the party hunkered down for a long night.
Just then, a flash of light cleared the air and the cell door blew off its hinges. Standing in the doorway was Nohik, the man who gave them their original mission to find what the Champions were up to. Unexplainedly, he took them away from there with a teleportation spell and listened to their retelling of events.
"Truth has no form."
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