The next day, the party was brought forth to King Connery and Viktor once more, and presented a letter to them which they claimed was from King Farook, sent from an envoy who went through the Gate from the previous attack. It read as follows…
Dear “Heroes” of Corneria,
We were introduced during surrender negotiations with Slingham, but I don’t feel we ever truly met, and there’s some misunderstanding. I’m under the impression you all see me as some wretched and unjust tyrant, who deserves to be slaughtered like a pig for countless crimes. An unfitting belief, I’m afraid, and one lacking of vision and determination, but it can be forgiven if you’re finally willing to listen to reason.
I have been told by the Way of the Shalm long ago in the forming of Farmonia that Balance needed to be maintained, and I have given my all to make it so. I silenced all opposition to Law, sealed the Phoenix to prevent the burning of the lands, and slew all Saint Cuthbert weaklings who didn’t have the stomach to do what was necessary for the good of the world. From that war long ago, I have built a kingdom which celebrated the strong, and damned those who didn’t have the drive, making us more rich, powerful and peaceful than Corneria could ever hope. Everything I have done was for the sake of peace.
However, your actions have made it all but impossible for me to save the world from utter ruin. You released the Phoenix, an act which has broken my ties with the Way of the Shalm, my guidance on understanding how to bring about the Balance they sought. As of this moment, the Phoenix now resides over Corneria, ready to lay waste to the lands with flames in its twisted belief of cleansing the world for rebirth.
Jorell Hellion lives once more, undoing what the true heroes of Corneria did at the end of our previous war. He has also spread the Curse of Lycanthropy like wildfire across the land, turning everyone into mad beasts. While it could be said the Lycanthrophy Jorell now spreads is my own doing, would it have even occurred if you didn’t open a direct portal to my country? And what have you done to stop the spread of the Curse?
Countless prisoners were released in Port Onus, not only killing hundreds in the process, but bringing back opposition to Law in such a way unfathomed. I’m certain you saw it necessary to release certain Fey and other “innocents” but the whole prison? Along with other monstrosities, there were Lycanthropes within, who are now reinforcements to Jorell. The Frost Giants of the north have their Chieftain back, and will soon bring Winter to the lands. Along with them are the Lizardfolk and their own Chieftain, who will demand new treaties in the midst of the madness, causing even more conflict. And did you know one of those prisoners was even a Slaad, who has began to change innocents into even more Slaadi? Chaos is in the Neutral Lands, and it is so prevalent there’s no stopping it.
Corneria was never able to put a leash on Dion and his madness, and he has allied himself with my former mistress, Belladonna. She has escaped my grasp when Slingham made it apparent she was something I could no longer control, and now her hand is revealed. For who knows how long, she has been using her position to take slaves to another Plane whose passing of time is faster than our own, breeding an army of demons to release upon this world. With Dion’s assistance a Gate has been opened, and Chaos will surely spill out soon enough.
And as the greatest slap to the face of true order, you slew a herald to Law, King Jörg, an act which literally shook his entire kingdom. This act not only killed people of Farmonia and Corneria, but of the Neutral Lands and all other bystanders whom were under the shadow of the Floating Continent. While I can say it’s certainly better to be a king than servant, what good has it done for the sake of peace, now that Slingham is without a ruler in the midst of their own upheaval?
I’m to understand the Rot of the world has finally infested the Material Plane, choking the very air with disease. Meanwhile, Farmonia’s army and myself are completely unaffected upon the Infernal Battlefield of Acheron. And to be honest, the realm of Acheron is much akin to the perfect world I sought for Farmonia, where the deserving strong thrive to conquer and dominate the weak. You have seen as such with the long dead armies my own army conquered.
And so, I give this option to you: save your world if you can. The Hand of Hextor has assured me it is unnecessary for me to worry of what may come, for Hextor’s will shall be absolute in the world he will create. All the same, I shall continue to open Gates across Corneria, sending ghostly armies which will lie in wait while the world falls apart, ready to strike should you ever manage to make right with the Balance of the Elements. Should you fail, I’m quite content with bringing the rest of my people in Farmonia to Acheron, while the rest of you rot away. There are more worlds than these, and I’m more than ready to conquer them in the name of my Lord.
Though if you should come for me yourself, know that your actions will only lead to more destruction, for there is no force of Law left in this world. Heironeous is all but dead, Saint Cuthbert has failed as already noted by King Jörg, and he himself is now dead. You care nothing of peace, and would sooner cut my throat to damn your spiraling world into utter Chaos. But should you be as heroes as you claim to be, you will have the sense to know that.
The party felt a combination of thoughts, ranging from Farook trying to intimidate, mock or even trick them. They all say it as a temporary leave from continual attack, however, though only delayed, for Farook was still sending ghosts from Acheron for an undetermined amount of time…lest the party failed, then he would take his kingdom with him. With the world falling apart, the party decided to once again search out the Orb of Air, the final piece of the elements the Way of the Shalm claimed they needed to bring balance back to the world.
To that end, they still had no clue where to look, for even the most powerful of divinations could not help them find the secretive Order of the Still Mind. Razeil Kashar pointed out that they managed to find out his father (of the same name) was a member of the Order of the Still Mind, and they could possibly bring him back to life. The act would of course mean bringing a likely evil creature back to the living, but they had no other leads and were running out of time. Making use of the space provided by Father Elijah and the church of Pelor, they made preparations to cast True Resurrection. To make sure Razeil senior didn’t escape with his Githzerai abilities and other skills he may have had, Dimensional Lock was cast upon the room as well.
Razeil junior finished the spell, and soon a fresh body of Razeil senior was formed out of the air. Introductions were sort, for the party pressed him on what he knew about the Order of the Still Mind. Razeil senior freely told them about the Assassin’s Guild’s other possible locales as being a former member among them, which made Thad quite happy. But on the Order itself, he claimed to know nothing. This upset the party, for this was their only lead, and they spent a large chunk of their resources on the True Resurrection. Zacharaia wasn’t convinced, however, especially given the scrolls of Raziel senior spoke a different story. Caught in a lie, Raziel senior made it clear he would not reveal the location of the Order of the Still Mind for any reason. The party attempted to reason with the Githzerai, making it clear he would not be let go until they got what they wanted. Razeil senior attempted to Plane Shift away in response, but after finding the locale was Locked, the party subdued him.
Their attempts to intimidate him failed, the party called upon Viktor to come help them interrogate Razeil senior, so they could get the information they needed. As they continued to question Razeil within the space of a Zone of Truth, another caster cast Detect Thoughts while questions were given, in the hopes surface thoughts would reveal to them what they needed. They eventually found out the Order of the Still Mind was a floating infrastructure, somewhere over the forests of Corneria. The builder was Chars’ka, who was a holy man who called for the powers to protect and hide the Githzerai of the Order. Razeil senior was able to find the Order’s location time and again by noticing how the weather reacted to a castle floating in the sky. With the info attained, the party made mention that Razeil senior was a former member of the Assassin’s, and Viktor promptly threw him into the dungeons.
Their goal within sight, the party teleported to a Wayside around the forest area they wished to explore, coming upon a cleric of Fharlanghn setting up the the beds. They asked him about the weather patterns in the area, hoping his traveling had given him some knowledge. It indeed had, and in collaboration with the info they already had, they were able to find tune were they were looking for the Order’s location. While traveling on foot through the forests, the party began to notice smoke rising in the west, eventually realizing it to be a spreading forest fire created by the Phoenix. Due to the rot spreading and lack of rain, the withering forest was burning rapidly in all directions, and getting closer. Hoping to use the nearby Lycanthropy sanctuary as a base while they explored, they came upon it in the midst of an attack from other lyranthropes. They quickly dealt with the beast mostly unharmed, and were more than welcomed by the guards within, doing their all to contain the Curse of Lycanthropy in a world where disease was taking hold.
The next morning, the fires of the Phoenix spread to the sanctuary, and while Sig Ollivander went to search the skies upon a Phantom Steed, a a storm was called forth which spread enough water to flood the dry earth around them enough that the flames didn’t come near the sanctuary. Sig managed to use his intellect well enough to spot the aura of magic while searching, and after a casting of Invisibility Purge, Sig caught a glimpse of the Order, allowing him the ability to use Greater Teleport to return with the rest of the party. Githzerai patrolling the outside of the Order took notice of Sig, but couldn’t stop him from retreating back to the Sanctuary.
The party prepped for their teleport into the Order, for they gathered they would be as unwelcome as Sig was when he originally found it. Zach and Thad were taken first to help clear the area before the casters came, and while Zach used nonlethal force upon the Githzerai coming upon him, Thad cared not if he happened to kill a single one. When the full party came forth, they made a rush for the Order’s main entrance, which the Githzerai failed at closing due to rushing warriors and Walls of Force holding back the closing doors. Chars’ka eventually made an appearance, but Zach quickly grappled him down and had Zaden Holdstein knock him unconscious.
The resistance against the party all but gone, the remainder of the warriors retreated with the noncombatants, Thad giving them chase. When they attacked him, he struck back in kind, letting them know before retreating any such attacks in the future would be punished. Meanwhile, the Master of the Order of the Still Mind was come upon by Mac, though he as well was quickly subdued by another grapple from Zach, and Mac was able to knock him out in turn. The fight over, injured warriors were tended to, while the Master was brought back to consciousness, though he was more than unwilling to speak with them in response to their actions.