Coming up the path, Rod and Quintin see that is a privateer crewman from the Walrus, named Nathan. Unsure of his intentions, Rod sneaks around behind him just in case. The man says that Maddy sent him to offer assistance. Rod and Murad sense that he is lying. Rod is quick to hit him from behind, knocking him unconscious. Just then, Murad sees a glimmering shape in the sky over the stone. A caster appears and shoots a Disintegrate ray at the stone, destroying part of it. Arah uses Dispel Magic to dispel his Fly, causing him to crash to the ground. Bob and the other treants pound him into the dirt.
Murad and Rod secure the captives. Murad breaks the hands of the sorcerer to prevent casting as Rod breaks the hands of the sailor, just because. Arah casts a Banishment spell tied to a Glyph of Warding on the stone. She then rests to regain her spells.
Quintin and Rod search the forested area around the stone. Quintin finds a sack in the bushes and brings it back to be examined. Rod sees a glint near the stone and calls Quintin over to look at it. It seems to be some kind of pearl, a rather large one, carved into the likeness of a sea turtle. Murad says it was worn by his former master, Matahi, who has not seen for severla years, since before he left for Ashtar. Quintin asks Murad if he is sure that his master is dead. Murad is not certain. He tries sending him a message, suing the Crystal of Communication, but gets no response.
Searching the bodies of both spellcasters (the alive, human one and the dead, fungal one) they see that they both bear the tattoo of the Stars’ Children and wear the suicide ring of the Children of Zepha. They remove several items of magic, including what appears to be a Hat of Disguise, from the sailor, Nathan. He appears to be another. The party recognizes him to be Delthorne, the man who guided the group to the Tower of Stars when they first arrived in Llantry. Quintin sends a message to the High Archmage, who refers him to Navin, his assistant. Navin explains that Delthorne is, in fact, an agent of the Stars’ Children, undercover. He was following a member of the Children of Zepha, presumably the caster that they just subdued.
Delthorne looks at his broken hands. Murad looks at Rod who shrugs and says, “What? It was ok for you to do it, and not me?” Murad replies, “Well, I didn’t do it to our allies!” They update Delthorne and show him the fourth node.
The casters in the group try to make out what the runes mean. Arah is certain the symbols represent the four gods of Ardia – Galus, Valeria, Fira, and Zaur. Rod figures out that the language used is Saerean, from the ancient Saerean Empire of Ashtar. Murad touches the symbol of Zaur and it glows a faint yellow. Arah casts Make Whole on the node, which repairs some of the damage dealt by the sorcerer. Delthorne moves to study the stone. Rod, still suspicious, warns him not to try anything funny.
Murad informs Quintin and Delthorne about the Coorish attack on Llantry. He explains how they must have used magic to transport the Leonian fleet past the blockade and into the Silent Sea, for a surprise attack. Delthorne believes that several “shards” would have had to have been used to conduct such a maneuver. He also tells that the Laboratory of the High Alchemists was destroyed by an explosion and that High Alchemist Heyrod was killed in the attack.
Delthorne explains that the High Archmage set a trap for one of the other Archmages, using the Crystal of Communication as bait. When the party was being briefed for their current mission, both Archmages Celia Haqar and Yül Akafar were present (their images projected from their respective capitols). They were the only ones that knew about the Crystal. The agent that they just apprehended also knew about the crystal. Based on this and other information, the High Archmage determined that Archmage Akafar is the leader of the Children of Zepha.
Rod walks over to the node and touches the token of Valarea to it’s corresponding symbol, to no effect. Off in the woods, Quintin sends a message to the High Alchemist’s daughter, Vina, to see if she is alright. She responds that she is alive, but not allowed to communicate on order of the High Archmage.
The groupd tries different combinations of pressing the runes to activate the node. By pressing the runes in quick succession, in the order of Galus, Valeria, Fira, Zaur, the runes glow in unison for a short time. Murad sends a message to Gralius Kurn. He responds that all nodes are active. The elves in Kayemba and the Stars’ Children agents in the Eastern lands have secured their respective nodes and found them to be active, though partly eroded by monstrous plants. The group leading the effort to secure the node in northern Lettan was found to have an imposter. An agent of the Children of Zepha was impersonating their leader, Gere Raimo. Nevertheless, their node is secure and active.
The High Archmage tells them to protect the node, and await further instruction as he attempts to harness the power of the nodes through the Tower of Stars. The group starts casting several spells to protect the node. After more than an hour, the runes of the node start to glow and pulsate slowly.
Rod whispers to Murad in Labreyan that he should check with “their friend under the mountain”. Murad contacts Rolston Galfant and gets a response that the falling star seems to be getting closer and could hit within days. They look into the twilight sky to see the star near the constellation of Zepha is indeed bigger than when they last looked.
Gralius Kurn contacts the group with the news that the nodes were designed to attract stars. The nodes cannot likely be used to repel the star. They will need several weeks to study them to see if they can be appropriately modified. It is not likely that they have that much time before the star hits.
Rod feels that the situation is wrong and voices this concern. Quintin suggests that they should try to push the runes in reverse order and the node powers down. They let Kurn know. He says that he will update them shortly.
Suddenly a ghostly image of a man appears above the centre of the stone. They recognize it to be the strange Labreyan man that they encounctered in the underground temple on Calmuth Island. He says, in an old form of Labreyan: “If you wish to save your people, gather ALL of your possessions, and return here.”
The items collected include:
- carved pearl (sea turtle) – belonging to Murad’s former master
- +2 dagger
- +1 dagger with green prismatic spray poison
- +4 corrosive burst cutlass
- +3 moderate fortification studded leather
- masterwork pistol, 13 rounds of bullets
- +5 bracers of armour (2)
- +3 cloak of resistance (2)
- +6 headband of mental prowess (Wis, Cha)
- +4 headband of mental superiority (CL16, Perception, Sense Motive)
- potions: cure serious wounds (6), bear’s endurance (2), haste, protection cold, tongues, hide from undead
- +3 ring of protection (2)
- ring of invisibility
- suicide ring (2)
- wand of cure serious wounds (23 charges)
- wand of dispel magic (CL10, 7 charges)
- bag of gems