Age of Worms: The Return

The Temple of Ascension

Wherein Lord Commander Bors Splintershield defeats a rival for power.

The Diamond Band, or at least those still alive, are truly reunited for the first time in four years at the Champion’s Games in Liberty. Lord Commander Bors Splintershield, the ruler of Redhand, has agreed to turn over the original Champion’s Belt this year to the victor. The Belt, a Splintershield family heirloom, is to be handed over at the conclusion of the Games to the show solidarity between Alhaster and Liberty. At the moment that Bors is about to hand over the Champion’s Belt to the last gladiator standing in the arena (a chronomancer called Valgan deRukoth), thunder rings across the arena and stepping forward, seemingly out nowhere, is the reincarnated Zerric Splintershield.

Zerric warns the Diamond Band that he has spent the last four years as one of the exalted in the Halls of Terak, and that Terak has sent Zerric back to the world to protect Bors from danger. According to Zerric, a dangerous frost titan called Thazalgor Ramcrown is a great threat to Redhand and to Bors, and Zerric has been sent to ensure that Ramcrown doesn’t harm his cousin. During this reunion, another disturbing event occurs. A spectral apparition of Celeste appears before the party, beseeching them to save her. Combining their knowledge and their recollections of the apparition, the heroes realize that Celeste is being held in a place known as the Haunted Canyon, located on the far side of the Fields of Pesh near Diamond Lake. Artus Shemwick, the proprietor of the Games, sends his bodyguard, Qualt, and Valgan deRukoth with the Diamond Band.

Doran opens a portal to the teleportation circle in Allustan’s home in Diamond Lake, catching the wizard offguard. Realizing who has stepped through the portal, Allustan welcomes the heroes and offers his assistance. More than that, he tells the heroes that a short time ago a group of five Striders of Darmon arrived in Diamond Lake, explaining that they were waiting on someone who would need a guide across the Fields of Pesh. Among the Striders is a young man called Paedrig Theldrickson, who, in addition to being the son of the Diamond Band’s former nemesis Theldrick but also the half-brother of Ivagmar. Paedrig explains that he was sent a vision by Darmon that he and his fellow Striders would be needed to see the Diamond Band to their destination.

Setting off with the assistance of the Striders of Darmon, the Diamond Band crosses the Fields of Pesh and reaches the Haunted Canyon. Inside, they find Celeste imprisoned within a magic circle, and in the process of freeing her are beset by elemental creatures. After defeating them and defusing the magic circle, Celeste is freed and reunited with Vadir. Celeste tells the Diamond Band that, for the last four years, she has been serving Darmon by spying on Thazalgor Ramcrown and posing as a succubus. Ramcrown discovered her deception and imprisoned her on the Material plane to keep her divine masters from finding her. She provides the heroes with valuable information on Thazalgor Ramcrown, but they have little time to wait before Doran receives a sending from Manzorian: Alhaster is burning, and elementals are attacking.

Once again, Doran opens a portal to Alhaster, and the heroes press through. On the other side, the Blessed Angels brief Lord Commander Bors on what has happened. Massive, 100-foot-tall elementals are rampaging throughout the city, and the Blessed Angels are doing all they can to combat the monstrosities. When the Diamond Band intervenes, the elemental monstrosities are defeated, but Thazalgor has a surprise in store for them. As each elemental is defeated, it becomes an expanding sphere of flame, and though the heroes are able to quench one before it explodes, they fail to stop the second one from detonating, creating a crater where much of the southwest corner of the city once stood.

In the wake of the devastation, Valgan deRukoth pulls Lord Commander Bors aside and confides that he once tried to use his chronomancy to peer back through time to the days of the Dawn War. When he did so, the power unleashed during that time caused him to become somewhat disjointed in time. However, in the ancient past he saw something that he believes can help Bors: an ancient site known as the Temple of Ascension. During the Dawn War, the Temple of Ascension was used by the Primordials to raise up their best servants and transform them into Archons. Valgan speculates that Thazalgor may be trying to distract Bors long enough to find the Temple and either destroy it or use it for his own means. However, there is a problem: at the end of the Dawn War, the gods his the knowledge of the Temple’s Location from all of mankind, locking the knowledge away from mortals. The Striders of Darmon once again step in to aid; the Striders believe that the best way to get somewhere you need to go is to beseech the Lord of Ways, Darmon. They sequester themselves for a time, and then emerge with both good and ill omens. The Master of the Road saw fit to provide the Striders with the location of the Temple, but after their meditation was complete Paedrig Theldrickson turned on the Striders and fled with the knowledge of the Temple’s location.

The Striders perform a ritual that transforms one of Alhaster’s bridges into a portal to the Barrier Peaks, where the Temple of Ascension is hidden. Entering a cave system in the mountains, the heroes stumble across some of Thazalgor’s allies, a volcanic dragon and some fire archons. Fighting their way past the guardians, the Diamond Band arrives at the Temple of Ascension and face down Thazalgor. During the fight, Ivagmar devastates Thazalgor using magic arrows, and then the frost titan is imprisoned in a hovering crystal in the temple’s center courtyard. Before Thazalgor’s allies can free him, the Diamond Band dispatches the frost titan’s allies, and keeps Thazalgor trapped in the crystal. With the threat of Thazalgor out of the way, the Diamond Band’s ritual casters are able to perform the ritual to utilize the Temple’s power, and Bors takes another step toward his transformation into a true Wind Duke.

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