The Black Ziggurat beckons…
The PCs have been searching for their missing patron, the sorcerer Ghaelus, who disappeared while searching for the Black Ziggurat — yes, THAT same unspeakably-ancient, multiversal, dimension-shifting fortress/entity. Well, in last week’s session the PCs found a Gate (one-way, though they didn’t realize this at the time) leading from the undercity of Satur to a frozen plain on a dying world. Several miles from their point of arrival was a massive pile of dark stone, the Ziggurat itself.
They encountered two travelers on the road in a wagon drawn by two furred ice-lizards. Dirjin, a githzerai, and Hexil, a phraint, offered the shivering travelers passage in their wagon to a nearby svirfneblin Trading Mound. Gark, the Mound’s leader, provided the PCs with food, warm clothes, and some more information about the Ziggurat’s manifestation on this world:
“In its own way, the Black Ziggurat is responsible for the slow death of our world. Many years ago, to appease their dark gods and their own hunger for power, the wizard-kings of the earth went to war. The Black Ziggurat – as you may have seen its cursed pile on the plain above – was the focus of their struggle, as each vainly believed that mastery of the Ziggurat would enable supremacy over his rivals. To this end, they pursued dark sorceries that drew upon the power of the sun to create mighty engines and weapons that ravaged the planet and depleted the sun’s essence beyond a critical point. Every year now, the light grows weaker. Winters are longer and harsher. Crop harvests yield less. The surface dwellers are struggling to survive – perhaps we dwarves have it easiest, being already conditioned to subterranean life. When the sun finally dies and expends its last rays, so will be extinguished the hopes of all who live on the surface. We who live below may yet live on for a time, drawing warmth from the depths of the earth and sustenance from our traditional food supplies; even then, though, we must face eventual extinction as the planet cools into a ball of ice. This is the future our diviners have seen, and the reality we face, barring the return of the Builders who created this world.”
“The Black Ziggurat is, at its core, a living talisman that feeds on dark energies. It radiates promise – of wealth, power, pleasure, knowledge, security, whatever one desires – and drains those who enter of their spirit. If you go there, you will need wits and weapons to defend yourselves from the physical dangers therein, but more importantly you will need powerful protection from the Ziggurat’s innate magic. Do not tarry overlong, for as the wind and water wear away the stone, even the strongest incantation can be weakened over time if enough force is exerted against it.”
The PCs passed the night in the mound and underwent a ritual of protection by the svirfneblin geomancers. Arioka, the elf archer, traded her hourglass for a vial of powdered fungus with potent soporific properties which, when mixed into a paste, could be applied to arrowheads as a sleeping-poison. The party then climbed into the wagon — Dirjin and Hexil decided that, for the time being at least, their interests lay with the party — and set off towards the Ziggurat.