After taking down Baldor and the Cult of the Dragon, the party had one job left – track down the man who began all of this trouble with the cult, who provided them with a new dracolich, and who slew their friend Davrin. Meldarius del Ascei, is seemed, was the cambion Eisuzoun spoke of, and all of this was in his attempt to transcend this world.
The trail brought the party to a long lost city where Meldarius had planned to use the artifacts he had the Cult of the Dragon acquire for him power his ascension. The orcs had arrived first, and were all but wiped out. Meldarius was atop a platform, floating high above the ground and already started on his ritual. He invited the party to witness his transcendence. They had other plans, and either destroyed or removed the arcane devices that raised the platform, and Meldarius came crashing down.
The platform came crashing down, and as the dust and dirt billowed out, Meldarius did not sound pleased. “You…. amateurs!” The lone surviving orc scrambled onto the platform as Meldarius continued. “Nearly a decade I spent as a mercenary, and I NEVER took anything this personally!”
Meldarius explained how fate took him to this moment. Born in the service of the god Gruumsh, he was never given freedom. He led a rebellion attempting to take some part of his world for himself, and failed. He attempted to live among humans, and could only find a place among them as an instrument of violence. His stature and background did not allow them to trust him unless he paid for the trust in blood.
And when he attempted to retire, the humans he had fought so hard for, now offered him no protection against the revenge of the god Gruumsh, who, having a decade to lick his wounds, now sought revenge for the damage Meldarius had done. His apotheosis was his path to freedom.
But as Meldarius spoke, the orc chanted. Hearing these chants, Meldarius was visibly shaken. He offered the party great rewards for this aid, allow him to complete his ascension, and he would give them whatever was in his power.
The orc, giving his life in service to his god, became the avatar of Gruumsh. The party was given the choice of whom to side with in this battle. In the end, both Meldarius and the one-eyed avatar of Gruumsh were slain.
DM’s Notes: I tried to do a few things in the end here. I tried to wrap up the story enough that the major loose ends were taken care of, but the characters were not at the end of their own stories here. The finale should be big a dramatic, which I thing I did pretty well at. And the players should determine the outcome.
I try to give the PCs choice whenever possible. They asked for an investigator in Stonewynn after the attack, although my plans for that part changed when I decided one of the players could play the investigator when her previous character died. It was the players that decided to re-investigate Yitsall mine, and uncovered the orcs there. They asked Davrin to keep investigating the cult, which eventually led to his death. And in the end, they were the deciding votes in a battle between two forces. Both evil, but with different desires.
One thing I always strive for in my games: your actions have consequences. In this case, the party made a lot of wise choices as they went, and some bumps in the road were taken care of before they happened.
The theme I tried to bring up here was a question of the cost of freedom. Heywall Daysong reported to those beyond his power. Perhaps he saw himself more of a world figure dealing with such greats, or perhaps a lust for gold. Either way, he lived in fear, as a slave.
Baldor was a slave to his greed, and made ill-fated alliances with those who would use him, in his lust for power and wealth.
Meldarius lived his life fighting to be free, at peace with his world, and beyond the reach of a vengeful god. In the end, I guess he was.