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The Death of a World

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Orroloth's picture
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Author: Orri EiríkssonEmail: orroloth@planewalker.comA prime world is dying...

Deep in the ethereal, the curtain has been ruptured. An entire prime world has collapsed into it's border and is slowly breaking up, it's inhabitants abandoning it. In the course of it's collapse, the border around it has condensed and is now almost a part of the deep ethereal. Nothing is natural about this collapse, as a community of ether elves has already found out. It's inhabitants are not leaving it in panic, but in calculated retreat. And they seek out the closest living beings they find, for capture and sacrifice to their god. The ether elves find themselves under attack from a race of beings, who seem responsible for the death of a world.

-The Inhuman-

This is not the first time this race has immigrated because their world was no longer supporting life. In fact, they are the ones that have caused it's death, with the help of their vile god. Once, they were a branch of human, living on a lush prime world, now long gone. But they were introduced to the worlds beyond in the most horrible of ways...a powerful tiefling necromancer, a former blood war mercenary looking for a suitable place of retirement. In a few decades, he managed to conquer and enslave the entire prime world, which was underdeveloped and defenseless. This he did be twisting the physical bodies of a few humans, who would in time become the Inhuman, his servant race who worshiped him as a god.

"You are suitable. Rejoice, for my god will eat your soul."-Inhuman priest- He learned how to cut out their eyes, replacing them with negative material lenses linked to his own putrid soul, literally forcing them to see the world with his eyes. He drained their souls, and made them bring him new ones. During the course of his dark ascension, he discovered that splitting the elements that made up the prime from each other released tremendous energy. These he managed to drain partially, with the rest spilling into the border ethereal. But he could never have enough... and no world could survive such lechery for long. The realization that the world was going to die shocked him at first...until he remembered the infinite amount of prime worlds, ripe for plunder. Even at the weakened state of his Inhuman followers, caused by the death of the world, he managed to find a prime world weak and uninhabited enough for him to transfer his throne. He knew that he could never defeat powers, or even other powerful guardians, if they were ready for him. So he bid his time and picked on small, defenseless worlds. Now, a couple of thousand years and two prime worlds later, he is a true god, albeit a relatively weak one (a demi-god). And nothing seems to take enough interest to stop him...after all, he hasn't yet challenged another god or power, and few others have large enough perspectives to notice him.

-The Guild of Shadows-

Of course, everything is not as it seems. A powerful organization has taken notice of the nameless god and is regulating his methods, both to see if they can be copied, and if he is a threat to their plans. This is the Guild of Shadows. The guild is based frightfully close to the rift in the curtain, in the demiplane of shadow and has been taking notes for a long time now, almost ten years. Still, their information is incomplete, and prime worlds take surprisingly long to die. Now that something seems to be happening, they have a golden opportunity to discover exactly what is going on.

-The Agent-

Perhaps it is someone the players know and trust...a former associate, or even one of the players themselves, or perhaps it is a total stranger with good credentials from someone they trust. Whoever she (female pronoun used out of convenience), she is an agent for the Guild of Shadows, and she wants to ask the PCs a favor. She says that an ether elven friend, who she keeps in contact with regularly, hasn't responded to her messages in a while and she is worried. She wants the PCs to investigate the matter for her, promising 'to be eternally grateful' and to pay each of them a fair sum if they help her. She states that she wants a thorough report on the incident and to that end, lends them her mimir for recording. It's a top grade mimir which can, if it's left eye is pressed and then pointed at the object of interest, even take pictures (black and white only).

-Arriving in the ethereal-

Finding a portal to the area is surprisingly easy, since a lot of ether elves are migrating to Sigil to escape the Inhuman. The PCs can simply track one down and ask him what portal he used. When they arrive on the other side of the portal, a magnificent, if horrifying, sight greets them. A city made out of solid ether –the community of the ether elves– drifts in the ether, large chunks seemingly vaporizing as they break off. The streets are littered with elven bodies and...others. This city has recently been under attack. Now, if the PCs know anything about ether elves, they'll know that whoever did this must have been very powerful, since the other bodies do not seem to outnumber the ether elven ones. Several elves materialize in front of the them, aiming their ether-created missile weapons at them. However, once they discover that they are not Inhuman they lower their weapons and ask them what they are doing here. The elves won't recognize the name of the agent that sent the PCs, but admit that her friend may already have been killed by the Inhuman. They can give little information about them except about the way they fight, for the intruders have never even responded to their attempts to parley. They can also point the PCs in the 'direction' (actually, giving them a description to focus on, so they can follow them into the deep) the Inhuman are coming from, and beg them to return to them if they find out about the nature of the attacks. The elves really want nothing more than just peace, and would simply leave the area if they found out the truth.

-The Ruptured Curtain-

If the PCs decide to investigate, they will come upon the ruptured curtain after a few hours of travel. The turquoise curtain of the prime seems to be stretched and torn, and there is actually a huge hole which the deep is pouring into, mixing the border with thicker mists. Eight Inhuman are guarding the rift, their empty eyes peering into the ethereal. Since most of their impressive senses don't work on the ethereal, and, being unused to the ethereal dimensions, they fail to guard themselves from above and below, a clever party could sneak past them, into the ravaged border of the dying prime. Then again, a powerful party could probably kill them, but that is almost certain to raise the alarm, bringing hundreds of Inhuman warriors to the rift. Combat doesn't seem like an option. After all, the Inhuman nearly destroyed the ether elven city. Beyond the rift, another horrible, yet spectacular, view awaits the PCs: The ravaged sphere of a broken prime, hanging like a dead weight in it's own border ethereal, which is becoming more like the deep with every hour. Fully one-fourth of the sphere has broken off and is dissolving into what seems to be an ether gap in it's first stages of formation, while the rest of the world seems to be covered in volcanic ruptures. Only a small spot on it's 'northern' axis is still inhabitable, along with one moon that orbits the planet. The moon is covered in buildings, making it seem that the inhabitants have been living there for a long time. The planet still has a lot of gravity pull, so the PCs shouldn't venture too close. The tell-tale swirl of the fog around the sphere should warn them off. The moon, however, has only a small amount of gravity, making it safe to land on and possible to leave, if it's entered at the far side of the planet.

-The followers of the Nameless-

The Inhuman on the moon number several thousand, but they are distracted by the coming immigration. The PCs can, if careful to disguise their eyes somehow (remember, illusions work better in the ethereal), infiltrate the moon and discover a number of things. First of all, there are the priests. Their eyes remain intact, but they seem possessed by some malignant force. Every Inhuman shows them terrified respect, and they seem to oversee every important operation. Secondly, children up to 15 are kept indoors, looked after by the priests. When they reach 15, they are brought to one of the temples where they undergo a ceremony of submission to their god. During this ceremony, their eyes are removed and their personality changes. Until then, only their latent psionic powers (which will reach full strength after the ceremony) indicate their Inhuman heritage. Third, and most shocking of all, the players find signs of another civilization, apparently destroyed by the Inhuman. If they manage to infiltrate a temple, they might even discover huge pits filled with the bones of the natives. Apparently, they couldn't be converted to Inhuman, but not from a lack of trying. Altars, stained with old blood, are placed beside every pit. Instruments of surgery and chains to restrain 'patients' are nearby as well. It would seem also that the Inhuman priests have tried to pervert a number of other beings, ether elves among them. If the PCs manage either to magically or psionically interrogate a priest (they are fanatical, so they won't give in to anything else), they will find out that they have only been successful with one race so far: humans.

-Epilogue-

The Inhuman won't be defeated by the PCs alone. The best thing they can do for the ether elves is to tell them everything they learned, and advise them to move deeper into the ethereal, since the Inhuman really are looking for human victims and most likely only attacking the elves because they are nearby. When they return to Sigil, the agent will pay them well for the information. However, peery PCs will notice that the emotions she shows are all wrong for a good aligned elf-friend. Indeed, she is near ecstatic, believing that the Guild of Shadows could easily use the Inhuman to their own ends. Will it involve the PCs? In one way or the other...that is very possible.

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