Harrowed Realm, 16th – 32nd Hour
After slaying the Tick-Tock Man, the party (Adanna Fionn, Finwick Shortwick, Horros Moonshadow, Ra Quel, and Eduard du Leon) took some time to recuperate and study his mechanical wall. They discovered a few things about the Tick-Tock Man’s domain. First, that the entire mountain was a massive clockwork machine that maintained the rhythm of the realm, and without the maintenance of the Tick-Tock Man, that rhythm would slowly fall into disorder. Second, that the Harrowed Realm was indeed moving at a slower pace then their home realm. In fact, for every day that passed in this realm, 99 days passed at home. This discovery concerned the party and encouraged them to move a lot faster.
And move they did. They headed south, towards the Demon’s Fen and the Barrow King. On the way, they could see early signs of the Tick-Tock Man’s death. The world’s sun was stuck at high-noon, and seemed to be unmoving, even after hours of trekking through the briar. They also ran into a precocious Lord Brambleson. After some diplomacy and even more tomfoolery, they convinced the Lord of the Brambles to give up his token, as well as his giant puppy. Shortly after he did, the rhythm changed again, and the moon jammed into place in front of the sun, spawning an unending harrowing horde of undeath. The flood of the lifeless was finally stopped when Finwick teleported high into the sky to destroy the moon with a powerful blast of arcane fire.
And the party moved on.
They eventually made it to the Demon’s Fen. They sweet-talked their way past Mourning Choir, the sorrowful guardian serpent of the bridge to Barrow Island. Once on the island, they faced down the Barrow King. Powered by his blind rage, and aided by the thousand grasping hands of the dead, the Barrow King nearly destroyed Eduard and his new mount. They were saved only by the heroic efforts of his newfound party members. In the end, the Barrow King was slain.
The haunting song of the Fen only rang louder in their ears.
We cannot stop time. Although we now possess the Tik Tok man’s magical hand, a Chime of Opening, and token, Sonoray’s Eyes, the mechanics of the Caldera tick onward despite our best efforts. It is disheartening. But we shall press forward for now, and worry about time later.
This is not to say that our removal of the Tik Tok man has not significantly altered the realm’s order, however. As we traveled South in the new direction the Tokens pulled, we noticed the sun did not change its midday position for hours. Then, all of a sudden, the moon eclipsed the sun, and all the Hells broke loose. Until Finnwick managed to literally obliterate the moon, we had to face a re-appearing onslaught of undead. He almost died in the process, but ended the battle heroically.
Lord Brambleson evaded the fight. But with Pelor on our side, we did not need him. We encountered Brambleson by chance shortly before the eclipse, scolding an extremely large puppy near a rainbow colored house in a pleasant meadow, which turned out to be his relocatable home. Though he brusquely challenged us for his token, Sonoray’s Feet, we were able to obtain it from him diplomatically before significant blood was shed.
And I am grateful to Pelor it happened so. For he turned out to be a very genial and enlightened fellow. He admitted shame and sorrow for having been a part of Sonoray’s betrayal. He even described her as a beautiful bard full of lovely song. I could have talked to him for days. But with time against us, good company is not a luxury we have to enjoy.
For we had to press onward to the Hells. Or the closest to it I have yet encountered. The Demon’s Fen is a swampy filthy place, desecrated by restless undead, ruled by the hate-filled Barrow King. Or was, before we triumphed over him and his grasping demons. And it will be again, once he returns from the Man Molds, as the Conspirators are immortal, in a way.
But for now we must fulfill our purpose of coming here and obtain his token from his corpse. That will make four tokens collected thus far: Sonoray’s Tongue, Eyes, Feet, and now Heart. Our greater purpose is to collect all of her tokens, in order to obtain the final direction pointing to Zasraen, as “all tokens point toward the scarf” according to Lord Brambleson. Pelor bless that creature. I pray we encounter more like him in our journey through this strange world.
Who I pray we do not see again is the Mourning Crier. I hesitate to even mention the winged serpent, for she still puts me at unease. We came upon her blocking the path to the Barrow King’s haunted island, crying and singing eerily. As we conversed, she called us friends in a false tone, asked us to sing with her, and claimed it was she who had betrayed Sonoray, that the Barrow King only carries the burden of betrayal for her. She allowed us passage without confrontation, but what she said disturbs me. For even as we stand now over the slain Barrow King, the Mourning Crier’s song grows louder.
Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.