City of Delusion

Chapter One: The Long Road Home (Pt 1)

In the Cathedral…

The stillness of the great cathedral feels supernatural. Aside from the sunlight streaming in through the high stained glass windows, not a sound breaches the stone walls and reaches the heroes standing inside, still awestruck and confused.

“Is that… really me?” exclaims Booty, gazing up at the statue. It looks like what she remembers herself to look like, but older by several years.

“Dwarven made, and a shoddy likeness too.” answers Gearshift, but staring back and forth at the statue’s hand and his own, he starts to realize something is different about the way he looks as well.

Marlow, ever the adventurer, is scribbling hastily into his journal, trying to capture a likeness of the place, copying the strange designs of the fourteen stained glass windows set high into the ceiling, and of the seven circle motif in the great rose window behind the altar. This motif, he makes a note, seems to be subtly repeated in almost every structural element of the cathedral.

Agon is gazing ponderously into the light when it starts to dim, almost imperceptibly. Disturbed, he lowers his gaze to peer down one of the cruciform arms of the cathedral. There is the sound of doors slamming shut, ever quickening in pace, and the light dims at the end of the hall until he can see almost nothing.

“We need to leave this place. Now.”

With the speed of an eclipse, the light from behind the stained glass windows dims, plunging the cathedral into complete darkness. The heroes race towards the great doors of the cathedral as the windows behind them shatter one by one and the stones of the ceiling begin to come crashing down. Realizing the great doors are too heavy to open quickly, they force open a smaller side door and find a faintly rippling mirrored surface behind it.

Dala’s companion Umm pushes his bark-covered head through the surface. Library, he communicates back to her. The party takes his word for it and leaps through without a moment to spare.


The Red Room

The party now finds themselves in a Red Room. The details of the room are these:

  1. That the Room is Red.
  2. That it is a Library.
  3. That there is a Gentleman in a leather chair reading quietly in the center of the room.
  4. That there is a Chandelier lighting the room.
  5. That looking at the Chandelier is impossible.
  6. That there is a 20-ft metal ring in the wall behind them.
  7. That there is a plain wooden door in the wall opposite the ring.

The Gentleman doesn’t stir at the party’s entry, nor at first as they attempt to question him.

Marlow draws near to inspect the book that the man is reading. There is something strangely familiar about it. Searching his knowledge he matches the book, bound in obsidian and copper and with silvery metallic pages, to something he had only heard legends about before.

These are the details that Marlow remembers:

  • First, that there was rumored to be a book in which was recorded the details of every plane in existence.
  • Second, that this book contained many spells and powers pertinent to the creation of and travel between these planes.
  • Third, that the name of the book was The Codex of Infinite Planes.
  • Forth, that it was almost certainly an urban legend.

Marlow, entranced, attempts to read over the man’s shoulder. He can make nothing out, but is immediately struck with an intense headache.

Booty, drawing nearer as well, examines the Gentleman closer. She sees nothing remarkable at all in his face, just a scholarly visage wreathed with a pair of thin silver spectacles. In his lap, however, she observes that the man has a strange, coppery, hairless cat.

The Gentleman at this point barely breaks his concentration at his reading and simply points to the wooden door on the opposite side of the room. He is heard to mutter under his breath about the ghastly amount of noise.

Dala, noticing the hairless, scaly cat, is entranced and approaches to pet it. As she steps closer, her druidic senses correctly identify the cat as a poly-morphed copper dragon playing a hilarious prank on them all. Fearless, she pets the dragon anyways. There is a strange echo of laughter in her ears as she does so.

The Gentleman closes his book with an exasperated sigh and acknowledges the heroes for the first time.

“Please leave me be. You really shouldn’t be in here,” he pauses, then adds, “Was it him, did he send you here?”

They know, without thinking, that he means The Man In White.

He sighs again.

“He lies, you know. Every word from his lips. Of course, some are double lies. Sometimes treble. One of the first things he learned was that sometimes the truth lies for you.

“I’m terribly sorry, it’s just that I’m very busy. Please show yourselves out,” he speaks, lifting the large book and again beginning to read. The party takes his advice and proceeds through the wooden door.


The Villa of Ormen

With a disorienting sense of having felt gravity shift on it’s axis, the heroes emerge from a cellar door into a small town. Across the way is a tavern, and gathered around a horse-cart outside it a small throng of people.

One man, Uriah Font, is carefully packing supplies into the cart with the help of a few porters. The party watches as the three of them lift a long wooden box into the back, a casket.

Uriah answers the party’s question, but slowly appears to recognize the party, calling them heroes. (Just as he does, Marlow makes a distraction and disappears.) Agon, confused but unfazed, continues to speak to Uriah. The party is directed by Uriah to look into the nearby stables.

Inside they find a sleeping historian, one Septuos Thracus. He is sleeping on several copies of his book, The World Imperiled. He awakes and believes the party is poking fun of him. He reacts defensively and begins to describe the six heroes described in his book.

His descriptions, and his book, are laughably wrong on what little details the party remembers about themselves. Booty is described as The Harlot of Sarenrae, a bloody and vicious amazon. Agon is described as her full-orc unich-paladin bodyguard, who worships Calistria. Marlowe is described as being a full foot taller, dashingly handsome, and is shown pulling a sword out of a hat.

Gearshift, however, is described almost completely perfectly. After further conversation, it becomes clear that Septuos lifted his story from a series of ancient children’s tale called “The World of Warcraft” and authored by someone known only as The Bard. Septuos, it seems, had filled in what little information he could find on all the heroes with whatever was on hand. Realizing that he has guessed wrong and that his credibility and fortune as a historian is ruined, Septuos is crestfallen.

Outside, Uriah offers the party a ride into The City. The townsfolk of Ormen have gathered, realizing their heroes are amongst them. They cheer, and children chase after the cart as they leave the town, headed into the forest.

Snap.

The Man in White is standing there, among the crowd. A cruel smile on his face, he waves as they leave. The crowd moves in front of him and a second later he is gone.

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Corvus_Caldera

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