Where we left off…
Our heroes have put up for the night in a Pelorian house of healing after escaping from their rented cottage which was set ablaze with them in it in the middle of the night.
Having spent the rest of the night without further incident, the group decides to spend the rest of the day preparing for their raid on the Ashenwood Gang’s hideout. They head to the market to purchase non-metal weapons and armor for dealing with the vampires’ rust monster pets, and then head back to the Great Library of Boccob in search of a sage who can tell them about the Plane of Shadow.
At the Library, the group meets a sage, who has spent much of his life studying the Plane of Shadow. As one would expect, given his life’s work, the man was rather pallid and not the most socially adept individual. As one would also expect, Rua’Lanna, the rather judgmental paladin immediately tried to discern whether or not he was evil. However, as she opened her mind to the divine auras in the area, she discovered something entirely UN-expected.
Lanna did detect the presence of powerful evil in the immediate vicinity, but the malign aura seemed to surround Santiago, the party’s monk, rather than the slightly creepy sage. Surprised and alarmed by her discovery, Lanna began to take other members of the party aside to fill them in on the situation. Meanwhile, Xandre, having seen a strange look come over Lanna after her scan, decided to keep the sage talking. His conversation revealed several valuable pieces of information about the plane of shadow:
- The Plane overlaps Shadow the Prime Material Plane, and so is frequently used by mages to quickly travel from one point of the Prime Material Plane to another, or to other planes of existance.
- The Plane of Shadow is not an inherently evil place, though it is home to many incorporeal undead and other monstrosities.
- As its name suggests, light is weakened on the Plane of Shadow. The illumination from normal light sources is reduced, and light or fire based magic is impeded, if not prevented entirely.
- It is useless to create maps of the Plane of Shadow as it is prone to shift from visit to visit. This occurs because the Plane borders multiple realities, and so may display the traits of multiple different realities from visit to visit.
- Shadow Panthium has recently become a dangerous place to travel. Unusually high concentrations of powerful undead have been gathering in the area. Notably, some travelers have reported narrowly escaping a nightwing that seems to have taken up residence in Shadow Panthium.
Once the entire party is appraised of Lanna’s alarming discovery, they decide to return to Carboni’s to have a chat with Santiago about his sudden aura change. Lanna summons Ceffyl to assist her, and the unicorn rather grudgingly pulls himself away from his sanctuary in the Ehlonnic district. He joins the group in the central market, having made his way through groping, unwashed crowds of children and tourists.
When the group arrives at Carboni’s, they adjourn to a meeting room with the reluctant unicorn in tow. Once inside, they begin Santiago’s, “Why are you evil?” intervention. Strangely, however, the monk no longer radiates the aura that Lanna saw in the library.
After some initial reluctance and evasiveness, Santiago finally fills the group in on the visions & dreams he has been having since their trek across Cydon.
Having witnessed dealings with beings of the lower planes during his days with the Drow, Vester suggests that the symptoms of visions, voices and changing auras indicate that Santiago may be possessed. The possessing fiend may have gone into hiding, after its presence was noticed by the group.
In order to test the cleric’s hypothesis, Xandre begins to taunt the suspected fiend, calling it’s power and ferocity into question. The bard’s masterful ability to manipulate the emotions of others soon causes the fiend to attempt to take direct control of its host. Enraged by the Aasimar’s taunting, it clearly wishes to answer the challenge. Santiago, however, manages to resist the fiend’s attempted takeover, eventually managing to shut it out of his thoughts for the time being.
With the cause of Santiago’s aura now apparent, the group decides to bring the monk to a temple of Olidammara to look into the possibility of exorcising the fiend. At the temple, the priestess, Zorastra delivers a chilling prognosis. Santiago is possessed, by a marilith (a general in the armies of the Abyss). However, the marilith’s spirit appears to be split between Santiago’s body and another unknown vessel. The split has left the demon weakened, making its intrusions easier to suppress. In light of the new findings, the party revises their course of action, deciding that a contained and weakened demon is preferable to a full-powered marilith on the loose.