Age of Worms: The Return

The Champion's Belt

The Diamond Band becomes the newest gladiatorial champions

The heroes accept Eligos’ invitation to join him for dinner, hoping to learn more about some of the mysteries they have uncovered in their recent adventures. Eligos examines some of the items they have accumulated during their adventures, and provides them with some interesting information about what they have gathered.

All of the clues they have gathered up to now point to the involvement of a minor deity of the creation and mastery of undead called Kyuss. The worm-infested undead are the most notorious (and the least dangerous) of Kyuss’ spawn. Their presence in the region, combined with the discovery of the various worms, indicates that the cult of Kyuss is certainly becoming more active in the area. Spawn of Kyuss are especially dangerous in that they are horrifically fecund. The cult of Kyuss has traditionally been small, often consisting of single priests who live double lives as upstanding citizens. Recent evidence suggests that the Ebon Triad may have involved the smaller (but older) cult of Kyuss in its schemes.

Eligos suspects some dark purpose behind this sinister alliance, possibly related to the coming Age of Worms. Many cults and soothsayers have developed their own theories about the Age of Worms, but Eligos has never seen so many references to it from so many different sources as the information the Diamond Band provides him. Something is certainly building. Upon finding out that these fabulously rare Apostolic Scrolls are in town, and worse, that someone as important as Loris Raknian has purchased them, Eligos’s countenance turns dark. He tells the heroes little about the Apostolic Scrolls save that they are reputed to have been penned by Kyuss himself and detail the creation of the ulgurstasta. These massive undead creatures are capable of consuming the living and regurgitating them as undead. The Apostolic Scrolls are said to contain rituals that allow an ulgurstasta to create even more powerful undead, spewing them out at a tremendous rate.

As their meeting draws to a close, Eligos recommends that the heroes investigate Loris Raknian and his unsettling interest in the Apostolic Scrolls. When the heroes tell him that Raknian’s already tried to have them killed, Eligos nods and observes that this just further damns the director of the Free City Arena. Obviously, he learned of the heroes’ actions in Diamond Lake and took matters into his own hands. Eligos recommends caution; Raknian is a powerful man and remains quite popular with the city government. Their best chance, according to Eligos, is to infiltrate the Champion’s Games and try and bring Raknian down from the inside.

Eligos puts the heroes in touch with a woman named Celeste. After introductions, Celeste informs the heroes that all participants in the Champion’s Games must fight for a licensed manager. These licenses are difficult to come by, but fortunately for the heroes Celeste’s friend, Ekaym Smallcask, happens to posses just such a license but has no gladiators to fight for him. Ekaym does have one gladiator that he has already recruited, a human bard by the name of Byron Castle, and can use the rest of the heroes to fill out the team roster. The Diamond Band is officially formed and named.

The heroes participate in the games, and are victorious in the first two rounds, despite some serious setbacks. Between rounds, they explore the chambers beneath the arena, uncovering a tiefling named Bozal Zahol who has been holding the animated corpse of Ekaym’s sister as insurance against Loris Raknian. After defeating Zahol, the heroes discover that Raknian and the tiefling have already used the scrolls to summon a foul creature, which now rests beneath the arena floor.

During the final bout of the tournament, Raknian calls forth the ulgurstasta, commanding it to consume the champions. The Diamond Band slays the ulgurstasta, then defeats Loris Raknian, ending his plans to bring about the Age of Worms. The heroes are crowned the Champions of the Games and awarded the Champion’s Belt, which is actually another piece of Zerric Splintershield’s ancestral armor. The Diamond Band has triumphed, but not all is well in the city.

At some point during the Champion’s Games, Raknian learned some troubling news. It seems that a notable sage named Eligos has been asking around about Kyuss, the Apostolic Scrolls, and the Age of Woms. At Bozal’s urging, Raknian sent his cohort Okoral on an assassination mission against the sage. Okoral had little trouble invading the sage’s home the night before the Final Battle and murdered him in his sleep.

When the Diamond Band returns to Eligos’s house, they find both Eligos and Pollard are quite dead—their killers are nowhere to be found. A search of the estate turns up one item of interest. The party discovers a bundle of notes and observations that catalog what Eligos has learned of the Age of Worms. This bundle is kept in a small coffer on the shelf of Eligos’s study and was simply overlooked by Okoral in his rush to do the job and get out. A note on the top of this bundle is addressed to Allustan, and reads, “My dear friend Allustan—What your adventurers have stumbled into sickens me to my soul. Every new leaf I turn reveals an even darker secret. Here are my notes. You must take them to our one-time master—although I fear that even he may be ill-equipped for what writhes in all of our futures. Until then…” The note is not finished.

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Moridin

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