Pall, Trent and The Deacon landed the Griffin about two miles outside the new location of the refugee camp. They dismounted and stood huddled against the cold December winds, discussing their next move. They were overheard by a lurker in the trees, who called out to them. His curiosity was quelled when Pall used his psychic abilities to “convince” him that he heard nothing, and should walk away from them. With that done Pall and Trent surrounded themselves with illusionary walls so they all could conduct their affairs in private.
Pall and Trent laid out all the items they had found. Pall was very interested in a necklace that Trent had found, and after some negotiation and trades Pall received the necklace from Trent. Pall then took off to construct some sort of secret sanctuary, but discussed a date, time and place where they would meet up again.
The Deacon meanwhile exited the illusions and went to meet the Lurker who was standing a bit away. The two of them hit it off like only two mysterious strangers can. The Lurker introduced himself as James. He said he had been patrolling and hunting around the area, keeping the few remaining refugees in the camp safe. The Deacon told him they were there to return a pair of dead bodies and collect the reward.
After Pall left Trent exited the illusion and joined with the The Deacon and his new friend. James offered to lead them to the person running the camp, and even offered to carry the dead bodies for them. The three of them walked to the camp.
There wasn’t much left of this camp. After so many months of being harassed by the Coalition and being forced to move what was left, there was maybe only about forty or so people still in it, and none of the activity of bustle that The Deacon and Trent remembered. James led them to a tent roughly in the center of camp, and the three of them entered.
Inside was the same Elf who had been running the camp last time they were there, except this time he looked even more ragged and stressed. He demanded to know what the three of them wanted, and they told him they were here to collect the reward for the return of the Senator’s wife and child.
James laid the two bodies down on the ground and the Elf was incredulous. It had been over four months, and he expressed his certainly that they were wasting his time. He took a look at the remains and insisted they were not the people who they had gone into Tolkeen to retrieve. The Deacon and Trent were both upset by this, and Trent produced a wedding ring and a teddy bear which had been clutched by the girl when she died as proof, but the Elf was done listening. Trent threw the teddy bear at the Elf and hit him in the back of the head. The Elf whipped around and, furious, screamed at them to leave now!
Trent, James and The Deacon left and walked a little ways away to sort out this new puzzle in some privacy. They encountered some refugees looking for help, and Trent offered up Tolkeen credit chips that he had recovered from the dead within the library. This caused a small crowd to gather, but The Deacon took all of those credit chips and threw them to get the crowd to leave. Then they ducked down into a makeshift “alley”.
James of course had questions, but neither The Deacon nor Trent was providing many answers to him. While discussing their next move, The Deacon and James noticed a tall man, dressed like a Pilgrim, enter the tent with the Elf. They barely had more than a second or two to process this before what sounded like a deafening sonic boom staggered them, and the entire tent burst into flames. A cloaked creature moved out of the flames and took off to the north with such blinding speed that it was gone before the trio could do little more than blink.
The three of them ran towards the tent to get a closer look, but the entire thing was engulfed in magical flames. James grabbed a hold of the burning tent (getting a slight burn in the process) to take and throw it away while Trent cast a spell to slip through the seconds of time, affording him just a couple of moments where he could move about unimpeded by anything in the normal flow of time, such as the fire. He went inside the tent and found the Pilgrim lying on the floor unconscious. Trent’s time ended before he could leave, and he reappeared in the normal flow of time inside the inferno, his magical armor assailed by the magical flames.
Wasting no time, Trent dragged the Pilgrim out to James and The Deacon. James checked him over while Trent used magic to view the Pilgrim’s aura. It revealed that this man was perfectly healthy despite having just been lying inside of the magical fire. Combined with other indicators his aura revealed that the Pilgrim was no ordinary human. The Deacon and James decided to take him to a more secluded area to help him recover, and Trent elected to stay behind.
Once The Deacon and James were away from the fire and the remains of the tent, they worked to try and wake up the Pilgrim. After splashing him with some water he woke up and instantly popped back up on his feet. The Deacon and James questioned him and learned his name was Solomon Cain. He seemed disoriented and they explained to him what they saw happen in order to help jog him memory.
Trent, meanwhile, was waiting for the fire to die out. After a few minutes the fire disappeared and Trent walked to the center of the burned area and used his magic to view the few minutes which led up to the fire. He saw the Pilgrim enter the tent with a familiar-looking gem in his hand. The Elf saw his entry and morphed into the cloaked creature. Before the Pilgrim could fully draw his weapon the creature lunged at him with supernatural speed, knocking the Pilgrim unconscious as a fire spread out from their point of impact. The Pilgrim dropped the gem he had been holding as he fell. The creature ran out and escaped.
This all happened so fast Trent wasn’t sure he caught it all, and did his spell a second time to make sure he hadn’t missed anything. When that was done he dug through the ashes to recover the gem the Pilgrim had been holding and confirmed it was identical to the one he found in the library. He filed that away for future use.
By this time The Deacon and James had learned a little more from Solomon, including the fact that the being they had thought was an Elf was in fact an Archfiend, a Deevil Reagent named Baaz. They learned that there were various factions within the Deevils and Demons working against each other, and that if events were left to unfold unchecked then the entire Megaverse would be in jeopardy. Solomon also revealed that he worked for one of those factions, for a Demon named Modius. At that news The Deacon drew his gun and held it to Solomon’s head faster than Solomon could fully react, even with his psychic senses warning him of the impending danger.
Into this walked Trent, who revealed what he had learned before he really saw what was going on. Solomon explained to The Deacon that his situation was one of repentance – that he was working for evil forces but was using his power to do good things. He tried to talk to The Deacon like a kindred yet misguided soul. Whether The Deacon believed any of it or not is unknown, but he did lower eventually his weapon.
Trent and The Deacon told Solomon about the creatures they had found in the library, and the demon they found crucified in the Tolkeen apartment. Solomon admitted that the Demon’s death was his handiwork. He sounded surprised at the mention of amulets on or around any of the three beings, and at the entirety of the events within the library. Trent didn’t pull any of the amulets out, but did draw a picture in his notebook for reference. Solomon didn’t recognize it as anything, but they all realized that these amulets must have been what the Elf/Archfiend/Baaz had been trying to have found.
Solomon didn’t have a lot of patience left for the three of them as he was eager to track down the Archfiend Baaz. He told them all as much and decided he would take his leave. James, Trent and The Deacon let him go on his way. Solomon asked for his gem back from Trent and left to find his quarry. This left the three of them wondering what to do next. Trent and The Deacon decided to let James get involved with what they were doing, since he already knew “too much.”
After some long discussion, it was decided that James and The Deacon would try and go to the Mercenary camp (a little more than 2 day’s journey away) which used to exist four months ago, and try to see if maybe there really ever was a Senator from Tolkeen who wanted his family, or their remains, recovered. Trent, meanwhile, would stay here and finally try to figure out what these three amulets they discovered were for, and maybe discover why a Deevil Lord was so eager to get them back. Trent created a dimensional envelope and ducked into it to begin working while the other two took off.
Trent’s research proved to be more successful than he could’ve dreamed. He discovered the purpose of all three amulets, and discovered a literal treasure trove of information contained within! The two bodies they had left in the temporal prison room back in the library were Deevil spies, and almost a whole years’ worth of their memories were contained within the amulets. This included confirmation of the existence of the fabled Black Vault, and an inventory of the items contained within!
Most importantly, the memories contained within the amulets confirmed that the Archfiend Baaz had also been impersonating the Senator, who was quite dead. The wife and child fled from the (now different) Senator and the two Deevil spies assumed their forms and roles. Then through a series of events spanning months, the Deevils, in the guise of the wife and child, infiltrated Chi-Town and the Black Vault in their quest for a specific book.
The clues they discovered in the Black Vault led them directly to the Tolkeen Library, where they slew all the refugees who thought the place was a sanctuary and their last hope. They discovered the book they were looking for in a room. Once they entered through a conveniently open portal they discovered it was not the book they had been seeking, but rather a book called The Codex of Souls! It was then they were ambushed by a Temporal Raider, and before they could properly react they found themselves defeated and left locked away. Trent recognized the Raider as Tr’nalath Sol-zeshol, his former master.
Trent spend the rest of the time waiting for his companions to return from what he now realized would be a pointless trip by examining the other items he recovered from the Tolkeen Library. He also took advantage of a nearby Ley Line to create some new talismen and scrolls. James and The Deacon, meanwhile, discovered the Mercenary camp was long-since gone. Turns out most of the work the Coalition could offer had slowly dried up as they consolidated their power in Tolkeen. There were still a few stragglers in the area, but James and The Deacon weren’t able to get and significant information out of them.
Once James and The Deacon made it back, Trent very excitedly filled them in on all that he had learned. Trent also offered some magical and mundane items to The Deacon in order to help him be better prepared to deal with whatever may lay ahead of them. James at this point decided he would get in touch with his family, on Mount Olympus, in order to discuss everything he had discovered with them. Trent and The Deacon decided to head north into Xiticix territory, to follow after Solomon. They all agreed to meet up again in a few days at a point north from where they were now. Knowing they would miss the rendezvous with Pall, Trent wrote a message explaining where they went and sent it into the future, to appear at the meeting location at the meeting time.
The Deacon and Trent travelled for several days and saw no Xiticix. They encountered plenty of battle sites and evidence of creatures which had been in the area, but no actual creatures. As they stayed true to their heading they found it stranger and stranger to encounter none of the creatures as they ventured deeper and deeper into their territory. After four days they finally found fresh evidence indicating that Solomon Cain was about a day ahead of them. They followed after him.
That day of travel took them to a small Xiticix hive that seemed oddly lifeless. The Deacon spotted Solomon Cain lying in wait to ambush someone or something, and the two of them proceeded with caution. As they drew nearer, five Xiticix came buzzing out of the Hive to attack them! Solomon lept from his ambush point to slay one of them, and Trent and The Deacon dodged for cover.
Trent used some minor magic against them to little effect, while The Deacon tried out the new pair of guns he had received from Trent. Then Trent turned the tide of battle by casting a spell to stop time around the creatures, freezing them in place. Solomon didn’t know what to make of this, and so lept into the field to try and press the attack, getting himself caught in the effect. Trent and The Deacon, however, used this opportunity to line up dozens of shots in such a way that when time returned to normal in their area, all the shots would hit and destroy the creatures.
James, after discovering that things were not well in Olympus, obtained some items from Zeus and left by stealing Apollo’s horses and riding them away. He flew the horses to the rendezvous point but did not find Trent and The Deacon. He heard the sounds of battle in the distance and went to investigate only to discover Trent and The Deacon taking advantage of the time stop effect. Once time reset and Solomon was freed he gave Trent a wary look, and the four of them went into the Hive.
Once in the Hive then encountered several of the Xiticix creatures who reacted to their presence, but did not attack. Once they got deeper into the Hive, they were attacked by some sort of Xiticix super-soldier. On a hunch, Trent used his own gem (the one similar to Solomon’s) and discovered that this creature was a Deevil Beast! He reeled from the shock and was unable to communicate this fact to his companions, although it hardly mattered. The group made short work of it.
They pressed deeper into the Hive in search of the Archfiend Baaz, and came to a room deep in the core of the Hive. In here they found, inexplicably: An old man, a red suit of Coalition SAMAS power armor, and a Xiticix queen speared through to the wall, writhing in pain. Trent entered the room still holding the gem and never even saw the Xiticix queen (an illusion), but instead saw what seemed to be a beautiful girl impaled to the wall.