Day 25 of the Month of the Festival, year 757 since the Fall of the Gods, end of spring
Surrounded by evil fire spirits chanting infernal songs, the Hammers of the Dawn were caught by surprise by a minor earthquake, perhaps the last convulsion of the White Woods after the falling of the mysterious celestial body. Hilguen, closest to the crater, lost his balance and fell into the pit shrouded in smoke.
Nogard tried to scream for the paladin, but the only response he got was a new tremor and the sound of something huge moving in the depths. A closer analysis revealed a strange underground structure below the White Woods, of aldarian* nature, which was breached by the meteor.
Heian - in the shape of his familiar - flew down to a circular stone chamber. Doors that seem to be made of liquid bronze with phoenixes motifs were positioned at opposite directions. At the room’s center there was a huge pillar of glowing crystal, etched with runes, and toppled by the meteor impact. At its side, the rift created by the falling star. Smoke rose from the dark depths, blocking all sight.
When the rest of the team went down using ropes they were attacked by grotesque and deformed creatures crawling through the walls. Garet and Drícia were nauseated by the mere sight of the demons, which liquefied at death in pools of foul odor.
After the confrontation, the maiden-priestess took a fallen piece of crystal pillar and was paralyzed by a sudden and sharp pain. When Drícia regained her movements, she noted that the pulsing crystal was absorbed by her arm. Meanwhile there was still no sign of the paladin, who seems to have fallen directly to the lower levels. Unable to open the phoenix doors and pushed constantly by Nogard, the Hammers of the Dawn went down.
The next level consisted of a large triangular chamber, sustained by a huge statue of a gigantic humanoid with hawkish face, crystal eyes, metallic breastplate and opened wings. At the one of room’s corners rested the meteorite itself – a mottled orb of black rock covered in flaming runes. At the point of impact, before the meteorite rolled to the walls of the chamber, was the body of the unconscious Hilguen. The paladin was in the middle of a noxious pool of demonic ooze, showing that he vanquished many foes before succumbing to his wounds.
When Drícia approached Hilguen, she realized horrified that the paladin was lying upon on a giant white demon. The farnaxian** was so large that, standing up on the lower level, its head appears right above the floor where the party were. The beast was clearly waiting in ambush, using the paladin as bait. Invading the level, the giant demon moved against the Hammers. Its presence, fully inside the chamber, activated the eagle-headed aldarian golem.
Heian and Drícia rescued Hilguen while the gargantuan opponents clashed. The party then tried to reach for the lower level, now that the demon left the passage. The aldarian golem inflicted grievous wounds at the hellish creature, shedding its blood all around the room. From these fell pools, new demonic spawn emerged. It was with great effort the Hammers opened a path through the farnaxian scum and evaded the giants. Finally, the golem impaled the white alien with its spear – the demon fell to the ground already burning, its flesh turning unnaturally quick to ashes.
Drícia and Garet set out to examine the hellish meteor and the lower level. Heian meanwhile took interest in the demon’s remains (to the disgust of the party). Nogard mended Hilguen’s wounds (the paladin was still unconscious) and discovered that the worst injuries had already been treated by someone else, but whom?
Garet was the first to reach the next lower level, finding a room with two other closed bronze doors. At the chamber’s center lay a small shinning pool made of pure positive energy. Drícia used the waters to heal herself, but nearly died due to an excess of life force. Still in ecstasy, the maiden-priestess sited beside the pool to rest.
As the others gathered, Garet noticed a strange humanoid shadow next to one of the bronze doors. Before the halfing could warn the party, the shadow quickly escaped from the room, sliding back to the surface.
At this point Nogard noted a small pedestal at the pool’s side. At the surface of this metallic structure there was a small mirror, of the same substance of the shinning water below. When touched by the monk, the water animated, taking the form of spherical bodies flying around two little orbs of light: a map of the Twin Suns, Himaeris, Darana, Elária and its the Seven Moons, the Queens of Discord, and finally Farnax***. By triggering the Aldarian Orrery the Hammers of the Dawn made great revelations
First, they were able to calculate the precise time of the next Darkness – the lethal eclipses that happened cyclically when the Seventh Moon crossed Elária’s shadow. The world needed to known that in exactly 5 months and 17 days there would be a new eclipse. The Darkness was a strange celestial event, very hard to calculate with the necessary precision. However, the second calculation was more disturbing: the Aldarian Orrery allowed its operators to predict the dreaded Alignment – a time predicted with woe when the Seal of the Seven Moons, created by the Gods before Their Demise against the Annihilation would weaken, or even shatter. If the artifact was alright, this possible End of the World would happen in 13 years. The third discovery, although lesser, was more mysterious, the Orrery opened a short portal to an extra-dimensional compartment, revealing an item: a hand mirror made of bronze, whose face was closed by metal wings.
After some time, Laira, the technomage from Silvery Palms, came through the rift to see how the heroes were faring. The technomage said that the structure was a buried pyramid from the mythical Aldarian Empire, that is should be investigated and that the strange meteor could be lifted to the surface with her machines.
All of a sudden, the fiery demon hidden in Hilguen’s blade attacked the party. The creature clearly targeted the halfling Garet, who at the time held the aldarian mirror. As if in response to the outsider’s intent, the artifact activated and its metallic wings opened, revealing a back surface without any reflection. Instantly the demon was sucked into the Black Mirror, after which the bronze wings closed again.
With Hilguen fully healed and back at the leadership, the Hammers left the buried aldarian pyramid. After helping Laira to pull the meteor from the depths using an old Imperial Conductor (a fascinating machine from the Melkar Empire that looks like a wagon, but does not require horses, moving by virtue of a primordium battery). The meteor was taken to Silvery Palms, from where Drícia sent an urgent letter to the priesthood of Mitra’el, informing them of the threat of the farnaxian stone. The Hammers of the Dawn also sent a report of their recent deeds through the gnome Gimble "Three Ears" Mumbledock to the bardic colleges of the free-city of Concordia****. Finally, Laria proceeded to contact fellow technomages, astrologers and sages about the discoveries concerning the pyramid and Aldarian Orrery.
Next day, while the party enjoyed what they believe to be the beginning of short vacations, on the road comes a messenger with the following news: all adventuring parties should move at once to the village Baer’s Tower, close to the Hammer Pass, on the borders of the Mountains of Eternal Fire! A goblinoid gathering threatens the Pass all available adventurers should go there in order to prevent an invasion in the Shinning Principalities!
The Hammers of the Dawn leave at once, albeit with many questions unanswered: what is the farnaxian stone? And the Black Mirror? And that weird fleeting shadow at the aldarian temple?
*The Aldarian Empire was ruled by the ancient lords of the Seventh Moon, before the orcs. The main continent of the known world is called Aldar because of them. The aldarians left powerful and gargantuan structures all around the moon of Isaldar, all preserved until today by unique eldritch systems. They are also renowned by their bygone (but still operating) constructs. No one living (or at least mortal) knows the appearance of an aldarian.
**The creatures traditionally called “demons” are natives of the Orb Farnax, seen in the night sky as a red star, also called the Crimson Tyrant.
***Also known as “The Creation”, formed by the Twin Suns, the Five Wanderers, the Orb of Elária or the “Old World”, and its Seven Moons (among these the moon of Isaldar, where these chronicles take place).****All adventure parties registered by the bardic colleges constantly sent their deeds and accomplished missions to Concordia, the City of the White Rose, to gain fame, fortune and an influential patron. All also aspire to enter the prestigious Records of Concordia, where are listed the ten most famous scuderias of Isaldar.