Part 12 - The Confrontation
Three months later, while Busker was at the market, trading his wares, he overheard mention of someone talking about 13 pillars. He figured out who had made the comment, and it turned out to be a woman who had travelled from the Southeast. She indicated that she had seen 13 pillars mounted on a small island in the middle of a lake. When asked where the lake was, she said it was just north of a village called Taver. He knew the name of this village sounded familiar, so at his first opportunity, he met up with the others and told them what he heard.
They remembered that Taver was the city that Belshazzar had been warned to stay away from by the Selenim. The group decided that perhaps it was time to travel to Taver and see what the Selenim were up to there.
They made the six day journey to Taver. Taver was a village that wrapped about a third of the way around the small lake. In the center of the lake was an island on which was constructed an altar surrounded by 13 pillars. When inquired as to who hadconstructed the pillars, they learned that a man had recently moved to a farm outside of the village. He paid a considerable sum of money to the village to have control of the island. No one was allowed to go there.
They attempted to visit the farm, but were turned away by guards. So instead, they scoped out the perimeter of the farm, viewing it through Ka-Vision. There they detected the presence of several Selenim. They also detected the presence of at least a dozen other dark Ka creatures.
They realize that the four of them did not have the strength to take on that size of a force. They decided to return to Ekbatana and enlist some help. Busker however headed east towards the Red Wastes.
Meanwhile, in the Red Wastes, Busker found Sahdi and enlisted his help as well. The two then returned to Ekbatana. With the help of the Mithradites and the two ancient Nephilim, the group felt that they were ready to take on whatever the Selenim were planning at Taver.
They returned to Taver and established a camp outside of the village. Teswah and Kagen went back to the farm to scout it out. Now there was a large black carriage parked outside the main dwelling. They viewed the carriage using Ka Vision, and detected an extremely powerful Selenim inside.
Busker and Thevis snuck into town and visited the caravanserai. They found no merchants there, but a large population of what appeared to be Ghouls.
Then as they watched, the black carriage and a large contingent of cloaked men began to move from the farm towards the lake. The ghouls were led by the armored Selenim that Belshazzar had met with in the forest. When they reached the lake, the black carriage opened up an out stepped a man who stood nearly 7 feet tall. His entire body was covered in ritual markings, scarring, and piercings. They knew simply by looking at him, that this was Arhiman. Arhiman and the others climbed onto boats and slowly made their way across the lake onto the island.
As the group approached the lake preparing to cross, they heard the beating of large wings overhead. Looking up, they saw a familiar large-winged beast, the machine from the Saurian colony clutched in its claws, and the necromancer Maligar riding atop. The machine was set down upon the altar, and some of the men went to work on it.
After some time, Arhiman produced a large purple crystal that he inserted into the heart of the machine. Then the machine was started up. The crystal in the center began to glow as the machine hummed louder and louder. The Selenim present began to work a ritual around the device.
The group was able to notice some of the villagers beginning to look disoriented. They notice that those that were becoming disoriented were wearing pieces of the purple jewelry, that were now beginning to glow. Griss recalled that when he initially examined the device back in the lost colony, he suspected that it was designed for the transference or broadcast of Ka energy. They began to wonder if the machine was capable of drawing upon the Ka of any individual who was wearing the jewelry, regardless of where they were. They then thought about all the people that they had seen over the last year back in Ekbatana were now wearing the very popular jewelry. If this machine was capable of drawing the Ka energy of all those people, it could be used to fuel a very powerful ritual.
Since the machine was placed on the altar at the center of the 13 pillars, that represented the 13 guardians of Celeano, it was clear to the group that Arhiman was attempting to open a portal to this mysterious city. Realizing that they had little time to lose, the group and their allies went on the attack.
The battle was very bloody. The Mithradites fought bravely, and both Sahdi and Thevis proved once again to be formidable warriors. However, Arhiman proved to be a most efficient killer. Anyone who stood against him fell quickly.
The group was able to slay Maligar, and some of his Dark Ka minions. But anyone who stood against Arhiman went immediately to their death. When both Sahdi and Thevis died at his hands, they knew they were not strong enough to defeat him. So instead, they turn their attention to the machine. They attacked it in an attempt to destroy it. Arhiman realized what they were up to and moved to defend the machine.
They were ultimately able to destroy the machine, but not before Teswah and Busker fell to Arhiman’s blades, as did several of the Mithradites. With the machine destroyed, and the ritual stopped, the survivors made a hasty retreat.
Griss and Kagen, along with three of the dozen Mithradites had survived the encounter. When they return to Ekbatana they found that Danel and Janu had gone into Stasis. As the years went by, the Selenim became much less active, and the threat that they posed seemed to have dissipated at least for the time being. But the survivors of that day could find no manifestation of the Plexus needed to release their compatriots from Stasis. So instead, the two Nephilim lived out the remainder of their simulacra’s natural lives, returning to Stasis themselves when their bodies passed away.