Rescue of Scratch from the Lands of the Dead
- A grim questing elf.
- A loopy woman of fearsome magic and even more fearsome lack of real intelligence.
- A warrior and pathetic Namer.
- A huge dog and keeper of Lath's Brain.
Thaw 1, 797 WK
We fly north west into the Mountains of Brandenburg, deep into the Shriven Hills. Meet at our sponser's place. Our host is called Morgor (Black Terror in Black speech). Morgor is a tall human who is also known as Ticel and Soul-tears-the-sky.
The demonic prince Hamaki ``Prince of Deceptions (or ``False Fates) has captured She-who-walks-lightly-with-many-friends, a dwarf who lives to the south east of the Inland Sea. Morgor says Hamiki is not an exceptionally powerful demon but is probably laying a trap at the Mountain of Pain.
It is possible to reach the Lands of the Dead while still being alive by going down one of the Rivers of Death. The Rivers manifest themselves in the Lands of the Living and find the head of one and ride down the river then you enter the Lands of the Dead with your corporal body.
The advantage of having a corporal body in the Lands of the Dead is that if you can escape back to the Lands of the Living then you have your body. Spirits that escape the Lands of the Dead generally come back as Greater Undead, mostly revenants. The disadvantage of having your corporal body while in the Lands of the Dead is you need food and water. Also, if your corporal body is killed while in the Lands of the Dead then your eternal soul is destroyed forever.
Things work in such a way at when your time is up, a Death is sent to collect you and send you to the afterlife. When you die, your soul stays with your body for three days. The first day the soul spends reflecting on what they did in their life. The second day is spent reflecting on what they thought and the third day on what they said.
At the end of the third day a heart manifests next to the soul which contains all they have thought, said and done in their life. Then the Collector of Souls takes the soul and transports it to the Lands of the Dead. When the soul reaches the lands, if they don't already have a spirit guide, then two are assigned to them. One is Smoking Mirror, which reflects the soul's ambitions and desires. The other is Winged Serpent, which reflects the soul's piety and moral fortitude. Their representive size reflects the soul's persuasions.
Once in the Lands of the Dead the soul must travel westward to the Citadel of the Dead. The soul's spirit guides will help with the journey. Once at the citadel the soul comes before the Tribunal of Judges. There are three judges. The first is the Keeper of the Books. It keeps track of where all souls are, and records the judgement of the court. The second is the Keeper of the Ways. It guards all the portals out of Lands of the Dead, to make sure that souls for whom the time is up do not leave except for rebirth. The last is the Lord of the Dead. It weighs the heart of the soul, and if it finds the soul's life measures up, then the soul is given the chance of rebirth. It the soul is found wanting, then it does not get to pass through the fires of rebirth but it instead cast down and destroyed. Souls that get to be reborn first must drink from the Waters of Lethe and then pass through the Fires of Rebirth. The soul's former life it forgotten and they are reborn into the Material World without memory of its former life.
If a soul is claimed by any power, then while they are travelling along the road towards the power, or some representative may claim the soul. If a soul has offended a power, then that power may also try and claim the soul.
Thaw 4, 797 WK
Die and have body completely destroyed. Spend three days in contemplation before moving on. Before we die, we are each given the ability to live in the planes of the dead without food, a magic rock which can destroy a soul forever if thrown at and a copper farthing.
The Lands of the Dead are barren apart from some small scrubs. Above roil clouds of red and black. Arrive at the beginning of a road which heads westward. As we travel we pass a number of souls. Eventually come to a cross road. Northward lies a `Road to Nowhere'. Believe it goes to a land of Illusions and Disbelief. South is a road called `Suicide Shortcut'. Souls who have succumbed to despair and ended their life before its time are forced along that road. Those souls are not given the choice of rebirth but are destroyed forever.
We continue on and met by a series of deceptions set up by imps. The imps had built a wall with a gate in it across the road, and, by using illusions, tried to convince souls not to leave the road. At the gate the imps tried to exhort valuables from passing souls.
There are two common ways to destroy a soul within the Lands of the Dead. The first is to take the heart from a soul. Should the soul lose the heart then they cannot be judged, and hence reborn. The other is make the soul despair. Should a soul succumb to despair then they will pass down Suicide Shortcut and be destroyed.
We chastise the imps at the gate and drive them off. Beyond the gate the road is paved and the scrubs become small trees. Beyond the `forest' is a confluation of four rivers. In the centre of this lake is the Citadel of the Dead. One of the rivers is the Styx, which runs west from the citadel. Each river has an instantiation on each of the Prime Material Planes. It is possible to travel to and from the Lands of the Dead by heading up and down these rivers. It is somewhat harder to travel up the river (back towards the material world) then down it. However, if you do travel down the river, then you have your material body with you in the Lands of the Dead.
We cross to the island by paying Charon (the boatman) one copper farthing. The citadel is built on a mountain surrounded by seven concentric walls, each 60 feet high. All the walls are covered by a mass of writhing snakes. We greet the Clerk of Death and ask to be taken to the Keeper of the Books.
We talk to the Keeper of the Books who says S'Korsha had gone to the Elemental Plane of Fire while Scratch had not been seen, but could well be off west towards the Gates of Hell. Lath disappears off and when Naden and I find her she had gone to the Place of Judgement. The Place is a large hall with three entities at the head and 25 down each side. The 25 down each side were representatives from various other planes and elements.
The Keeper of the Books was represented as a large oragatang, the Keeper of the Ways a lion headed man with a gold breast plate and the Lord of the Dead was a topless woman with one side whole flesh and the other livid.
Lath had unfortunately given her heart to the Lord of the Dead and had been judged worthy. She did not want to pass through the Fires of Rebirth so we decided to flee the citadel and head west. We manage to outwit Kerberos and fly westward towards Mount Pandemonium.
On the mountain there were a number of keeps with imps and devils in pitched battle. Using Scratch's hump we have a locate on his soul. Naden attempts to summon Scratch but instead summons a senile creeper of himself.
We then fly towards the mountain and enter though a tunnel. The devils are mining the mountain for Primal Chaos. Somewhere there I dropped my heart and forgot almost everything. We manage to rescue Scratch, She Who Walks Lightly With Many Friends and a greater summoner called Bowaz, who messed up one summoning. We also rescue a Sylph called Seline, who got washed down one of the rivers.
Bowaz removes the curse from Naden and try to summon S'Korsha. He turns up as a fire elemental, and gives his foot to Lath so that she can summon him once in an emergency. S'Korsha very happy where he is and does not want come back.
S'Korsha helps out in getting my heart back from the imp who found it. The imp had grown when it consumed the heart and a devil had devoured the imp so the heart was rather black by the time I got it back. We then make our way to the Mountain of Pain and then up to the summit. On the way Bowaz is destroyed and when we got there Hamaki ambushed us. The party drove Hamaki off. At the summit is a obsidian tree with a number of souls trapped on it. All the souls were evil and tried to reach the tree. If you touch the tree at its base then you can return to the Material Plane. However, if you do not have a corporal body then you come back as a greater undead.
We wait there a while before Morgor creates a portal and we return to the Material Plane. The portal enables a new corporal body to be formed. I consume my blackened heart and are filled with an overpowering lust for power and domination. The party had previously tied me up but I had plans and schemes to take over the world.
Thaw 14, 797 WK
I spend the next month having evil shrived off me. Scratch gets fixed somewhat and Naden helps Lath recover her life. Because Lath had given up her heart she forgot everything. Fortunately she get back some abilities if she practised them enough.