Zarjasz al-Ulaq, August 17
Mudu is a peculiar entity, some sort of construct, but lacking in a physical form beyond light. It is intelligent, sentient, but utterly lacking in emotion, even an urge to self-preservation. It did not even make a move to defend itself as the marut attacked it, mistaking it for Bennura.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Before the other groups arrived, we asked it questions about the prophetic mural. It explained that the mural depicted The High Host, a race of Celestials called the Halbiru being freed of their prison and laying waste to the world, as a halbiru “youth” sings “The Void Song”. If, Mudu reasoned, our companion was the singer depicted, he must be a halbiru himself. I never really believed that he was an elf, as he sometimes claimed…
Any questions asked of Mudu seemed to only raise further questions, and my head is still spinning from the revelations he imparted. The High Host seek the Pure Breath, which is a power drawn from Ruby Mountain. The Pure Breath is the power that transformed Bahamut into a god from whatever he was before. I wager many would find that statement sacrilegious, but Mudu does not seem to be capable of lying, meaning it is either mistaken or absolutely correct.
The other groups, wearied, joined us. Mudu welcomed all to his floor and declared it to be safe from The Guardian. We were welcome to use this as an opportunity to rest, which all of our groups appeared to need.
This is when the marut attacked, their thunderous fists simply passing through the entity’s form. Fortunately, none were injured, even though the marut continued attacking after it became clear their attacks did nothing.
Mudu explained that it is not Bennura, but it is a part of the ancient scholar, specifically his wisdom and knowledge. The Guardian is Bennura’s courage, and a third part, The Dread Reliquary, Bennura’s desire, dwells at the lowest floor of the fortress-temple. Bennura cheated death by dividing himself between these three constructs, in order to ensure the survival of Zarjasz al-Ulaq.
It is the third part, the Dread Reliquary, that acts as a lynchpin to the other two. To complete their mission, the Marut will need to descend to the lowest level and destroy it. However, much to their chagrin, none of the other groups were prepared to continue as of yet. Though our contract does not protect one group from accidentally endangering the others, it does prevent knowingly endangering the others. In our current state, continuing would mean death.
The groups, primarily myself, Asha Druj, Bacarhim Zdadegan, and Lady Laracroix, discussed our strategy for proceeding. According to Mudu, the floor below ours holds a deadly threat, an Adav Nejmakohn—one of the creatures we encountered beneath Tamba Khoya—but also holds Bennura’s forge. Now that Cashara has been restored to her proper place, that floor can be unsealed, and we shall have to brave this fearsome foe in order to see Sehera’s contractual interest completed.
Meanwhile, the Al Haddid Jalut group and Lady Laracroix will brave the seventh floor, which holds a wild collection of savage natural lifeforms, in an attempt to reach a seal. Asha Druj’s group will attempt to reach a second seal on the eighth floor. We will join Asha’s company when we are finished on the sixth floor. The marut will split their number. Efarmostis Berit will accompany us, to both the forge and the eighth floor.
By undoing these seals, we can access the ninth floor, where the magical engines that drive Zarjasz al-Ulaq lie. The only access to the lowest floor, the vaults containing the reliquary, is through this engine room.
We go their not only to satisfy the Marut, but other contracts as well. Asha Druj’s group seems quite keen on seeing the engine room, while Mudu indicated the Cintanami is kept in the vaults. Unfortunately for Al Hadid Jalut and Lady Laracroix, Mudu claims the Philopher’s Stone is not housed here. Indeed, he indicated that the Philosopher’s Stone does not exist in a physical sense. It is a concept, a chaotic, unknowable magical formula. However, both groups hope that some more information on this formula is housed below.
If the Philosopher’s Stone does not exist, we cannot give it to Chalazias. Though we never intended to surrender its power to Chalazias, we had hoped that knowledge would provide us with the key to halting his plans. So far, this information has not presented itself. We have learned too that Umaran Comashio was a student of The Nameless Philosopher, the only known mortal to comprehend the Philosopher’s Stone. Comashino has seen the Al-Iksir, and thus it seems unlikely that a ruse will work.
Fortunately, it we may have help. Syla has requested to join us on our return to the Dread Pirate’s fleet. She seems to know more about Chalazias than she has let on…
Our groups separated and slept as best as we could on the hard floors.
All groups arose and readied themselves in what I assume was the next morning. Mudu repeatedly warned us that we would not be safe from the Guardian below this floor, but this knowledge did nothing to deter us. While the other groups descended the great staircases to the floors below, Mudu unlocked the sixth floor for us.
The sixth floor proved as devoid of life as the rest of the fortress-temple, but was cluttered with broken furniture and equipment. The Adav Nejmakohn contained within for so many centuries had long to rage, and left little unaffected.
Then, to our surprise, a voice began to speak to us, bright and sarcastic. After much confusion—for this was clearly not the feared Star King—we realized the noise came from Feng’s bags. He had, at some point in the previous day, found a gold-coated kenku skull lying on the ground and had picked it up.
It was this skull that now spoke to us, revealing himself to be The Nameless Philosopher, or rather the consciousness of that fabled alchemist. This peculiar entity sought to dissuade us from our path, as it was aware of what awaited us on this floor. The Nameless Philosopher prattled on, speaking at great length to Feng about the Fireborn and the Frostborn, for he had been his time’s Frostborn. He had, apparently, found some way of breaking the usual cycle of these entities and that had allowed him to discover the Philosopher’s Stone.
We may have to surrender this head to the other groups as, if it still contains the formula, it is, essentially, the Philosopher’s Stone. Hopefully, before then, it can provide knowledge that will help us diffuse Chalazias’ scheme. Unfortunately, nine centuries as a disembodied consciousness have also rendered it a little off…
The Nameless Philosopher warned us that the Star King was coming, so we went on, following its directions towards the forge, until we found a suitable room to battle…