The party made their way back to the tavern room they’d been staying in, glad to finally be free of the dungeon. Since their appearance in the streets would likely draw unwanted attention (given that the Kharlus family assumed they were all dead) Drael went out to collect Ignomine’s items left in office. Polycarp exacerbated their paranoia by telling everyone that guards were on patrol and looking for them, resulting in everyone spending a lot of time planning and preparing for a danger that wasn’t there. On Drael’s return he surprised everyone with a recent acquisition, a rat-person slave he’d purchased named Jinx and her mastiff-sized rat-dog pet, prompting a heated discussion about the support of slavery. Polycarp had also relayed some truthful information he’d discovered: the armies of Kharlin were clearing out the swamps south of the city, forcibly removing the kobold inhabitants.
Given this information and their recently gained freedom, the party attempted to contact Gaius Cerris using the water-bound coin, but to no avail. Uncertain if it was because he could not answer or if the magical barrier they’d moved through had damaged it somehow, they elected to continue on. Seeing as they didn’t know what they could do to help the kobolds and based on conversations he’d had with Father Gabriel, Ignomine suggested they’d check out the memorial to Legis Vigilium.
On the flight in their airship Retribution they were attacked by kobolds riding flying dragon-like creatures called jungle drakes. One managed to land on the deck and slammed Vyktor, piloting the helm, and Ignomine with a ball of lightning cast from an iron ring on his finger. Polycarp promptly one-shotted one of the flying ones with a barrage of arrows, sending the drake and its rider plummeting. Artas meanwhile challenged the one on the deck, distracting it long enough for Vyktor to turn invisible and escape. Ignomine attempted to attack it, but the now-pilotless craft made footing unsteady and he missed entirely.
Belowdecks, meanwhile, Drael, GS343, Godfrey, the dragon, and the other members of the crew had no idea anything was amiss, beyond the sound of a few heavy thumps on the main deck as the third rider-drake pair landed and attacked Polycarp, attempting to grab him in its claws and rend him to tatters. The drake that Artas had taunted charged over the wale on the poop deck to get to him, frustrating his rider’s attack on Ignomine. Polycarp was able to escape the grapple and set up a shot, giving Artas an opening to taunt the other drake and keep it away from Polycarp. Ignomine, meanwhile, continued to swing futilely at the rider as the ship careened out of control.
Drael, suspecting something was amiss, checked the grated hatch from below to discover a full on melee happening on the deck above him. Quickly assessing the situation he cast Enlarge on Artas though the grate, then called down a Flame Strike, severely wounding a drake but also catching their ship on fire. Polycarp took his prepared shot, knocking out the third pair’s rider and allowing that drake to wander away of its own volition. Drael summoned an Aqueous Orb, dousing the flames he’d started. The crew’s momentary worry at the damage was alleviated as the engine crystal momentarily hummed and a significant part of the charring was repaired. Meanwhile, hidden from everyone, Vyktor used a mysterious blood rite to extract one of the spells from the downed kobold spellcasters.
This would not be the end of their encounters on this trip, however, as they were shortly accosted by a Disintegration ray, discovered to have come from a mysterious flying human figure. Vyktor’s preternatural magical reflexes allowed him to react unnaturally fast and stun the origin of the spell with a Sound Burst, preventing it from getting a second shot. The stunned human drifted downward and aft as they raced past. A second flying man appeared, blasting Ignomine and Vyktor with a Fireball. With a quick order to get them out of there, GS343 slammed on the acceleration and quickly left the mages behind, probably part of the same Kharlin force harrying the kobolds.
The team finally arrived at the Memorial for Legis Vegilium, partway on the (not Great, just okay I guess) Causeway between Kharlin and Parth. Wondering where to land, they finally elected to pick a clearing some short distance away in the forest and make their way there on foot. Once at the memorial they found a group of traders resting in a clearing beside it. A quick conversation with them made it clear that nobody actually visited the memorial, a traditional looking marble temple with columns supporting a wide roof and a statue underneath. A quick investigation revealed why: when they approached the memorial, only Godfrey, Ignomine, and Raven were able to ascend the steps, while Vyktor and Artas found themselves physically unable to move forward. Polycarp and Drael meanwhile hung out with the traders. It appeared that only those who lived following the ideals of Legus Vigilium himself were capable of approaching.
Ignomine, Godfrey, and Raven went forward, inspecting the statue of the hero and its simple inscription:
Company of the Southern Road
Opened Arela to Civilization
Dissatisfied that this was the only thing they could find, Ignomine used his recently reclaimed Hedge Wizard’s cloak to Detect Secret Doors, revealing a hidden entrance underneath the statue, but without any obvious way to activate the statue or move it out of the way. At a loss, he began to pray to Abadar – feeling a faint gust blow by, he turned to see Lawgiver standing behind him. “Only the Worthy may enter,” he intoned, leading Ignomine to have a minor crisis of faith on whether he was worthy or not, or if risking himself for this challenge was irresponsible given he’d need to prepare to stop the evil they’d unleashed with releasing Rovagug. Lawgiver was cryptic, but insinuated that completing this challenge would be necessary to complete that task. The construct went on, “Those that enter will be Judged,” and further explained that others might enter, but the judgement for their actions would fall upon the one who advocated for them. Raven and Godfrey, meanwhile, were flummoxed on who or what Ignomine was talking to.
A short conference with the group followed, Ignomine asking if his friends were willing to go through the trial with him, and if they were willing to at least try to observe the ideals that Vigilium followed to avoid. They did so, with some griping by Drael about almost getting killed the last time they’d encountered something like this. With that agreed, Ignomine led them onto the memorial plinth, the others no longer blocked by its magical field. He pushed the statue easily aside despite its massive size and led the part down the steps leading to the secret trial beneath.
The first room was strangely shaped, comprised of an otherwise bare hallway that looped into a big circle and leading to an exit directly opposite. This hallway then ended with two short branching hallways off to the right, which led Vyktor to realize made them in the shape of a Key. They also discovered a hidden sigil, which when touched whispered “For the worthy” in their minds. Seeing no other options they approached the first door, which whispered “Make sure you’re ready,” as they entered, and were suddenly blinded with a flash.
As their senses slowly returned, their vision fading in from white and their hearing returning from a high-pitched whine, they found themselves standing before an elf in military regalia. “…must secure peace. Remember our mission depends on it.” The rest of the party looked just as they had before, but the room they found themselves in wasn’t where they had walked in and was richly decorated with six statues of dragons with elemental magic blasting into the air above them in the cavernous room with enormous double doors at either end. After a short wait a side door opened and a humanoid wearing golden armor in the shape of a dragon approached them. With a perfunctory “No admission,” he stabbed the elf in the throat, leaving him to collapse in a heap at his feet. “Leave now,” he ordered, and turned as if in dismissal.
Polycarp immediately responded, but restrained himself to see what Ignomine would do. Vyktor had no such compunctions and attempted to cast Slow but to no avail. Again the guard ordered them to leave, but Ignomine went forward and used Breath of Life to restore their apparent leader for this expedition. With confirmation from the elf and the realization that their efforts might be necessary for a greater lasting peace, he then demanded an audience with the guard’s liege… whoever it was.
When the guard made it clear that he would not let them pass, the leash was released and Polycarp, Drael, Vyktor, and Godfrey loosed their assault. Polycarp punctured the guard with several arrows, Drael drained his power with Ennervation, Vyktor cast Debilitating Portent, and Godfrey… missed. Not to be outdone, the golden dragon guard responded a Ray of Exhaustion and Dominated Artas, trying to convince him to leave. Ignomine attacked, and Drael hit the guard for more negative levels, severely hampering his ability to fight. With the help of their elven leader they were able to subdue the guard and go through the side door, revealing an enormous courtroom full of more disciples.
“This will probably take a while…” they realized.