It’s all Via’s fault.
Part I – Journey to Salt Lake Vale
The party returned to Cygnar and reported on the Rat King’s smuggling operation to Prince Reese, who rewarded them greatly.
While the Treadle, Charles and Jill were partying and intriguing in the Cygnaran court, Via spent her days at the Caspian library, researching the Iosan exodus. After three days of searching (and a lot of Gather Info and Search checks), she located a map and a legend: “The Codex of the Willow” was locked away in an Iosan temple located in the Ordic hinterlands. She gathered the rest of the party (Charles, Jill, Treadle, Via and the Margrave of Vilmaer) and set off to follow the map.
The party journeyed deep into the Ordic hinterlands. As they traveled, Treadle picked up they were being followed by the Retribution (goggle-guys). Treadle and Charles commented on how many they had killed, and everyone kept walking. They stopped briefly at the Margrave’s Mansion, where they met up with Ben and Steve. A group of druidic cultists had begun habitating the mansion since its abandonment after the Margrave’s official death. The party investigated. A baby’s skeleton was arranged like a shrine in the crib in the nursery. People had been sleeping on the floor. Then, a mysterious druid named Orion showed up.
Orion asked the party why they were there, they didn’t say. They asked him why he was there, he said it was his forest and the house was home to some of his followers. Orion again prodded them to their intentions, Via and Charles said little. Orion left. The party moved on.
Several days later they finally arrived at the Salt Vale Lake. They searched the valley all day and found nothing. Frustrated, they made camp.
The next morning Via was gone.
Part II – It’s all Via’s Fault
Charles, Treadle, Jill, Ben and Steve launched into the woods following Via’s trail. They found her on the ground before a tall granite obelisk. She was clawing at the earth with her bare fingers. She was unresponsive to them so they neutralized her and began digging around her claw marks. They found a coffin made of stone, twice the size needed for a human. They pried it open to find it was filled with old leaves. Jill pushed over the obelisk. Nothing happened. They rolled search checks. Nothing. They took 20 on the search checks. Nothing. Then a brownie came up from the forest and bailed them out. He told them to search the coffin, where they found a black marble. The brownie ordered them to draw a circle around where the Obelisk used to stand. Then a beam of sunlight showed them …
… a (magically) hidden clearing with another puzzle involving stones and sunlight. The PCs eventually stumbled onto the solution and uncovered the Iosan Temple. Two stories tall, made out of giant slabs of stone perfectly balanced against each other, with 20 ton doors that opened to the push of a finger, the temple was a marvel of physics. Inside, there were ancient runes, a library of Iosan history from before the exodus, and a shrine built in the middle of a pool of clear water. All were perserved by Iosan magic.
Also inside: more riddles …
They deciphered the runes written on the floor, found the secret doors and discovered the faces etched into the pillars whispered to them when they weren’t looking. Finally, Treadle, Via and Charles found a hidden room with an Elvin priestess sleeping on a stone slab. Problem was, Steve had found her first and was about to blow her brains out while she slept. Initiative was rolled, Treadle shot Steve’s gun out of his hand before Steve could pull the trigger. A few words were exchanged. Steve backed off and Via woke up the priestess. The priestess asked Via if she was here to awaken the sleeper. Via said “I think so, I’m not sure”.
The priestess located a stone key which Via used on a key hole located at the bottom of the pool. The whole temple began to shift, the turn of the key triggered something and the stones, once perfectly balanced, began to shift and slide. As the temple stones fell away from each other, the pool of water gave way to reveal a stone stairway leading down into darkness. With nothing but moonlight above them, the party descended.
Below they found a massive tomb with a coffin. As she walked about, Via realized she had dreamed a dream of this very place. Jill and Charles opened the coffin. Inside was a pale and gaunt man, about nine feet tall, dressed in a loin cloth and an elk’s skull. Via said the magic words
… and …
She woke up the sleeper which is actually the Horseman of Famine!
Then Poe showed up and said, “Oh no, what have you done!?!” Then Orion & Co (a bunch of druids and Iosan mage hunters) showed up and everybody got down. Orion and Poe flew off after one another. Via wandered off, following the Mookraken. And finally … Steve, Treadle, Ben, Charles and Jill slaughtered everyone else.
And that’s how the end of the world started.