First, the Debt Collectors
Turns out, Ulfric, RIl’s brother, owed some gambling debts. These debts were picked up by a group of collectors known as the Aqueduct Gang. You and your friends set out to see how you could possibly resolve this debt, and approached a dragonborn named Maliath, a subordinate to a rather shadowy, quiet boss.
More than just a Gang
While they wouldn’t quite admit to sending the worm-like hunter after Ril, you were all very suspicious; you tried to force the answer out. This angered the shadowy figure, who revealed himself to be a terrifying beholder! While you and the party survived the encounter, it was clear that the beholder you fought was merely a shade of its real power. Stuck and confused within the complex, you all regrouped to find a way out.
The Lower City
Eventually, poking around the little chamber revealed a path below the city; secret tunnels led to darker, warmer passages. A long walk down many stairs led to a wide open cave; vast and enormous, the expanse before contained a specter of the city above. Similar in make up, with familiar, out of place landmarks, this lower city is ages older than the one above. Tentative, but curious, you and your party spent time exploring the various nooks and crannies of the abandoned city, looking for the reason why it was abandoned, and how it exists below the city above.
The Chamber of the Gods
At the city center, your friends and you found yourselves staring into a eerie-ly perfect copy of the doors to the Chamber of the Gods in the city above. Wrapped in vines and roots, the door remained closed to you. You were followed here, however. Lukhal Forgemaul, aka Professor Flowers, revealed himself to you. He also spoke as the guardian of the ground you walked on. While Adrie lit into him about his callous attitude towards the Aqueduct Gang’s traversing of his “protected realm,” he revealed that all the party needed to do to pass into the chamber was to ask for permission. Adrie, frustrated, but unable to make any headway with Prof. Flowers, turned to the door and grudgingly asked to be allowed in.
A Vision of Time
Once inside, you were greeted with a strange sight: ten thrones and chairs of various sizes and shapes, one blasted and broken. After resolving the odd riddle of the room, where the Void was a player on a throne and one throne was extra, you were all filled with a vision; a vision of history.
You saw the world as it once was; vast, beautiful. You bore witness to the founding of Oakenheart. Weary travelers, brothers in oppression and ostracism, banded together to build a city that would welcome all it could with open arms. As time passed, the city survived attacks on its walls and its sovereignty. It grew and expanded to what the ruined city once was; and bore witness to an attack that not even the proud and mighty denizens could defeat. Legions of undead, demons, and other monstrosities raged across the land, spurred on by their evil masters. Desperate, with no other resort, a small group of adventurers uncovered an item of untold power: a black jewel, darker than the emptiness between worlds.
Loathe to use it, but left with little choice, the adventurers banded together to use the artifact. They clashed with and struck down the gods below, who sought to burn the world, and the gods above, who did nothing to prevent its downfall amidst their petty politics. In their desperation, however, they did not anticipate how deeply ingrained the gods were in the making of the world; and in saving the world, the now-godly adventurers destroyed it. A few gods, faithful to their own, descended to the world of the Material and saved what they could. Oakenheart appeared to rest peacefully throughout the turmoil.
Eventually, the Cataclysm passed, and the New world was born. The new gods debated over what to do with the jewel, where one god, unrecognized by your party, argued passionately. You did not see what eventually came to pass.
The Gifting Room
Pulled from the vision, and resolved that there was nothing else to see, you made your way out of the chamber, and into the city at large. A little bit more exploring, and you found yourself standing again at the doors. A keen eye in the party discerned that there was a path up the trunk, eventually resolving into stairs. Making your way up the tree brought you to a smaller chamber, with illusory guards. Illusions turned to danger, as two stone guardians arose from the ground, attacking the party! With only the slightest of danger, you and your companions managed to defeat the guardians, although your exhaustion was beginning to show. Tarek took a look at a grate protecting a door at the other end of the room. After touching it however, he was struck with an hallucination and went temporarily mad, accidentally injuring his companions. He recovered, eventually, and then the party was able to access the room beyond. Within this room floated 9 fires, of various colors and shapes. Continuously holding onto one consumed the bearer. Each party member grabbed one, moving on into the light.
You Awaken at Home.