A quick glance through the door revealed the the royal chamber, filled with guards and courtiers and lots of other powerful-looking members of the court. Ignomine tried to push his way past the guard on the other side of the door, only to be told “You do not have permission.”
Thinking quickly, Drael summoned a Greater Image of the gold dragon guard they had just defeated and had it walk to the door to say “They have permission.” Nonplussed, the guard let the party through the door, though Polycarp elected to sneak through the door on the other side of the chamber.
The party briefly tried to quietly discuss their strategy, only for Ignomine to announce in a loud voice that he demanded an audience with the regent, the gold dragon and leader of the draconids Tamarind, titled “His Resplendence” and “King of Justice.” This was apparently not the best approach, as the loud demand scandalized the court. Ignomine pushed on, using every ounce of his diplomatic and negotiating skill to point out that the “King of Justice” was acting out of character, refusing to even meet with envoys from other nations and performing actions that would result in war, despite neither participant wanting it. This prompted some murmurs in the court.
Tamarind, however, reacted with rage and anger, considering it an insult and blatant insolence for someone to have the audacity to question him. Ignomine’s diplomacy kept things from escalating to blows, and it seemed some of what he said was getting through. Then, a dragon dressed as an advisor stepped forward and began whispering in Tamarind’s ear. Taking a gamble, Ignomine decided to advance and Detect Evil, revealing the advisor to have the same aura as the Vord and Tamarind infected with the same influence. Artas Menethar used his knowledge of the past to realize that the advisor was actually a Vord Construct, an artificial creation made to resemble a dragon.
The Vord Construct advisor instructed Tamarind, saying he “should not tolerate these insults” – and here the party’s luck ran out, as the regent responded “I agree.”
Taking that as his cue, Polycarp used his hidden vantage point to ambush the advisor with a blast of arrows, landing three and dealing devastating wounds that would have felled a lesser creature. Vyktor, with the help of Raven, cast Luck on him. With Polycarp’s unnaturally fast reflexes he was able to get off another round of shots, dropping the evil influence before it had a chance to act.
With the advisor down, Ignomine decided to try and purge its influence on the ruler, casting Protection from Evil, but the insidious spell had been in place too long and was too strong to remove. However, it appeared that Polycarp dropping the advisor was enough to render the king unconscious from the sudden shock. The guards advanced, ordering everyone to give him room, and a few moments later Tamarind regained consciousness and the vision faded.
Back in that vague whiteness, a voice revealed that in the past they were not able to detect and stop the Vord’s influence, resulting in a catastrophic war between the dragons and the other denizens of Arela and the eventual near eradication of the dragons on the continent. As their vision returned, Ignomine discovered he had a chain around his neck with part of a holy symbol key on it in the form of a golden circle.
The party then moved on to the next door in the complex shaped like a key, and once again found their vision blanked out before discovering themselves in a different time and place. This time, it appeared they were part of a marching army, serving as the delegation sent ahead. They were approaching city walls that they recognized as those of the city of Ceres; however, it appeared that the walls were held by a tribe of orcs. The party realized they must be observing the conquest of the continent when they recaptured the Great Cities from the native humanoid tribes that had been holding them ages ago.
Again one of the advisors among them gave them context, revealing that the army was on the move and hard pressed by hordes of undead, and that this fortress was their only avenue of escape. The entire legion was doing its best to make an orderly retreat, but they were on the verge of collapsing and suffering heavy losses; every moment of delay resulted in hundreds of soldiers’ lives. They needed to get through these fortifications if they were to even have a chance at survival, let alone if they were to succeed at retaking the continent.
Ignomine stepped forward to begin the negotiations, speaking to them in Orc, requesting that they open the doors and allow them inside. The Chieftain seemed surprised that they could talk, but refused. “Never open doors. Never anything from outside. All dead.” Ignomine continued, explaining their situation and that they were fighting the undead, but were close to losing. The cheiftain continued to refuse, insisting that because they were outside the wall it meant that they were undead and not to be trusted, that there were too many undead for anyone to fight without succumbing.
The other party members helped explain that they had an entire army, thousands of troops that were trying to cleanse the entire continent and make it safe again. The chieftain was dismissive, saying it was impossible for there to be that many people. Eventually, they worked out that they could only convince him if he saw it with his own eyes – so Vyktor and Drael offered to fly him high enough to see the 200,000 legionaires and the mass of undead they were fighting. When they returned, the chieftain was persuaded and the doors were opened, and the vision faded. As before, a voice revealed that in reality the desperate leaders slaughtered the orcs and took the gates by force, resulting in many needless deaths, and Ignomine found that the shank of a key had been added to the golden circle on the symbol around his neck.
The last door revealed Ignomine, alone, facing a heavily armored orc in a forest clearing, his compatriots no longer in evidence though they were able to perceive what was happening from that bright white interstitial space. It appeared that the orc was preparing for a one-on-one duel, and that this would determine if the armies of the continent could continue on their conquest west towards what would become the cities of Troy and Partha. Ignomine was now reliving the last moments of Legis Vigilium, and the duel that resulted in his death.
The voice and the orc revealed that the armies wanted to pass through orc territory, and that rather than resorting to a pitched battle they had agreed to a duel of champions. This would prevent a slaughter, but would still result in either Ignomine’s death or that of the orc leadership. Ignomine kept trying to figure out a way out of the duel, of killing the other orc, or dying, but there seemed to be no choice to avoid the fight – until he remembered the story of Legis Vegilium. With a start, Ignomine realized that there were no witnesses to the fight, and in a flash of insight realized that Vegilium hadn’t lost the duel, he had surrendered to save the humanoid tribes. Terrified but at peace, Ignomine sheathed his blade and knelt before the warrior. “You realize what this means, don’t you? You’ll die,” the orc asked. At Ignomine’s nod, he then took his blade and plunged it into Ignomine’s heart, and he felt himself die.
The rest of the party then found themselves back in the temple complex, sans one half-orc, but with the holy symbol left on the floor, completed. They made their way back towards the exit of the complex, but as they passed the curved wall with the key relief they saw it was now glowing. They placed the symbol in the recess, activating the sigil and opening the doors to the circular room. It revealed what at first they believed to be Ignomine standing in a heroic pose on a plinth, but was really just an inert statue. Vyktor, with a burst of insight, took the holy symbol and placed it around the statue’s neck and with a flash of light Ignomine was restored.
The voice revealed that Legis too had deliberately sacrificed himself to spare the nonhumans, and that the general of the armies had to go the long way around their territories. This explained how a supremely masterful warrior like Legis could lose to a capable but outmatched “primitive” and the general’s consternation at the loss. The voice also explained that only with friends and allies could the mission be completed – had the party not been present, Ignomine would have perished.
As a reward for completing the quest and regaining his awareness, Ignomine discovered that he now held a blazing sword of sacred might, a Holy Avenger elven curve blade. In addition, the holy symbol allowed the summoning of Lawbringer in times of great need.
Humbled and awed, Ignomine and the party made their way out of the temple and watched as the statue slid over the opening, then turned and made their way to their next destination.