Pall Mall disappeared for 24 hours to attend to his own business while the rest of the group rested and recuperated in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The group took this time to share their experiences with each other. The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was discovered in the Cave-Temple of Ishtar, was turned over to James. The group concurred that his deific heritage made him the one most likely to get anything useful out of it. McGreggor, assisted by Trent and Jescha, started working on an antimatter containment device built out of a spacesuit which Trent had.
Once Pall Mall returned Trent created and activated a Protection Circle: Superior around their encampment to enable them to speak of things freely. Trent then removed the Crown from one of his dimensional pockets so the group could discuss it and their next move. The crown had a spirit within it and James used his sword’s ability to commune with spirits in order to communicate with it. It quickly became clear that the being within the crown was not the same one that had posessed James, meaning it was now free in the world – whatever it is or was. Even though Mumuu wanted the crown returned to him in order to obtain Sonja’s freedom, the group reached a consensus that giving the crown to Mumuu was probably a bad thing to do.
The group was uncertain as to their next move – everyone felt confident that ths solution to the “Plague of Tongues” lay in the basement/underside of the Tower of Babel, but there was a fear that once the group went down there, they would emerge back in their own time, leaving many things in the past here unresolved. So the group all decided to tackle the issue of the antimatter pool first – both collecting the sample that McGreggor was prepping for, and removing the threat entirely from the world.
Rather than waiting for moonrise to enter the ghostly city and get to the antimatter pool that way, they travelled through the tunnels beneath the city. In the tunnels the group came upon the Mad Prophet Abdul Alhazred and his undead mechanical chicken familiar. He was gibbering in an unknown tongue through a strange portal that seemed similar to the temporal portal which transported the group to this time. From the portal were several tentacles, all of which were seeming to caress the madman and his mechanical monstrosity.
Trent began casting a Temporal Barrier spell, while McGreggor took quicker action – he walked right up behind the man and swung his hammer with such force that the man was instantly vaporized into a bloody spray of flesh and gore. The undead chicken machine went batshit crazy over this, and the rest of the group stood there stunned. Before much more could transpire, Trent’s spell finished and a Time Barrier was set in place around the area. This closed the active time portal, slicing off several tentacles, which Pall Mall proceeded to pick up and place within his bag – along with a mechanical feather from the chicken machine.
The group left that behind and continued unmolested to the anti-matter crash site. Once there McGreggor took out the anti-matter containment device he built out of Trent’s spacesuit helmet. Once he had it ready he gave the signal to Trent, who used a Mystic Portal and the Telekinesis spell to scoop an appropriate volume of anti-matter to within the container. Then Trent proceeded to funnel the rest of the anti-matter into a Dimensional Envelope he had created, in order to get it off the planet. The antimatter containment device was then placed within one of Trent’s slow-time dimensional pockets in order to extend the life of the e-clips powering it.
With that potential disaster averted, the group decided to head back to the Cave-Shrine of Ishtar to re-investigate the cave and the mysterious pool of fish. In the cavern where the Apocalypse Demon had been about to be sacrificed, McGreggor smashed the altar, which released a torrent of water and fish! The whole room quickly flooded, then the water level subsided to a more manageable level. Steve sloughed out of his armor to enter the water, and found the fish within the water would latch onto him, allowing him to not only breathe the water but survive incredible depths as well.
Swimming down, Steve encountered an air bubble/pocket at the bottom. Once he entered it the sandtrout fish detached from his body and acted like normal fish out of water. Steve relayed to the group what he found and where he was, and the group used magic to join him. Investigating the area, a concentration of P.P.E. infused dust particulates were noted, and just like the last time, they marked a secret, illusionary door. Through the door was a downward spiraling chamber, and a thicker concentration of this P.P.E. infused dust. At the bottom of the chamber a book called The Lay of Treenen was found. Trent and Pall Mall worked together to concentrate and collect up most of these dust particles, which they then each placed within their own dimensional storages. Trent also filled a slow-time dimensional bag with a good amount of live fish and water, for future study/examination.
Nothing else of note was found or noted in the cave-shrine so the group left to travel to one of the remaining points on the star map. The next location was in between the cities of Zeboim, Alda, and Bela. Those three cities had all been overrun with demons and destroyed. The nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located, and those cities were not only seemingly straddling two different dimensions, but also full of Hades demons. Some reconnaissance by Sir Altineus and James (in astral form) revealed no immediate threat and the presence of another altar connected to a series of pulleys and ropes.
At this news the group realized there had been such an altar at every location they visited so far, and they deduced there would be one at the other locations as well. What that meant, however, they had no idea.
Next the group traveled to the Dead Sea, another location identified by the star map. Humanoid footprints were found and tracked from the cliff to the water. McGreggor decided to plunge the depths of the water to investigate further, using his anti-gravity harness turned UP for excess gravity in order to overcome the buoyancy of the saltwater. Something about the situation reminded Pall Mall of certain England legends, about a sword in a lake and the lady who lives there. McGreggor plunged into the depths of the water and used his de-pressurization training, combined with his supernatural endurance, to overcome the crushing depths as he just kept sinking and sinking.
While McGreggor was diving for sunken treasure, Pall Mall decided to wander away from the group and investigate where exactly the footprints were leading to. Steve went with him, and the two of them found no sign of an entrance where the footprints led to. Not foiled by the illusion, they dispelled it with cold iron and discovered a cave entrance. Pall Mall and Steve explored the network of cave tunnels and Pall Mall sent Sir Altineus to investigate other tunnels. The bird encountered a creature which Pall Mall only caught a fleeting glimpse of through their shared sight – it sent a flaming axe and a large wheel of fire barreling down the tunnel at the bird, which it barely escaped. With that they left the caves for the time being and returned to the Dead Sea with everyone else.
By this time McGreggor had finally reached the bottom of this seemingly endlessly deep body of water. On the way down he had felt things brushing against him here and there, but had been unable to see anything in the black inky depths. He almost gave up and resurfaced but he worked overcame his fear and continued to the bottom. The water down here was warm and felt calm, quiet and peaceful. The water here was lit up by bio-luminescent bacteria but even with the light McGreggor almost missed something bored into the bedrock here. He tried to lift it but instead managed to rip up the entire slab of bedrock it was in, causing magma to contact the water, creating a major disruption. With the slab of bedrock in hand, McGreggor resurfaced.
Trent opened up a portal and without saying anything to his companions, stepped through it with Jescha to somewhere unknown. So he missed McGreggor’s triumphant return, holding a three-ton slab of bedrock with a chest somehow embedded in it. Everyone there then heard a melodius sound, which sounded like their own mothers singing the most beautiful lullaby they ever heard. Only Pall Mall resisted the trance, and awoke everyone else from it with the casting of an Anti-Magic Cloud scroll. That was when the creature rose out of the water.
It vaguely resembled a Splugorth in much the same way that a whale vaguely resembles a duck. A gigantic eye focused on Pall Mall and stared at him, then blinked. When Pall Mall wouldn’t let It communicate to him telepathically it boomed out its displeasure in a loud voice that resonated from somewhere unknown. It told them it was the “mother of the hive,” and It demanded they bow to It or else.
When the entire group failed to do as It wished and show It the “proper” respect It attacked them with a giant tentacle which hurt Pall Mall pretty seriously. Steve grabbed Its attention to protect the other members of the group, while James and McGreggor took this chance to open the chest which had caused all this trouble. The anti-magic cloud prevented the wards on the chest from activating and inside they discovered a rune zweihander sword named Conan, a bead necklace, and both parts of a book called “The First Heresy of the Forge: The Koreda Matrix.” With this loot in hand the group retreated into the nearby cave for safety.
The two Greater Night Chaos Demons that were hanging out in there did not appreciate the company, and a new fight ensued. It was a tough fight that drained a lot of the groups resources (except for Trent and Jescha – where were they, anyway?) and nearly resulted in the death of Steve and James, but they prevailed. Their reward (besides remaining alive) was discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls centuries (millennia!) before they would have otherwise been found by humanity. It was at this point the group stopped to “lick their wounds” and take just a little bit of downtime, in order to plan their next move.