At the Tower to Heaven, the group found themselves in a vertical series of temples: each to a different god of the alien pantheon of Aesyr. On the first floor, they found another a shrine to Odin, which labeled him as the chief god of Aesyr. Aklessia and Bodel, two of Shen’s elite had an ambush at the ready however and The Wardens had to beat the two savages from Takazorros before moving on. Bodel was killed and Aklessia was polymorphed into a dire slug and thrown into a nearby torch.In the center of the temple was a trap, which was linked to the locked door on the far end. The only way to open the door was to willingly trigger the trap while standing in its target. The plaque read:
“Thou strongest here, leading on
Bear the burden of leadership might’ly
Walk strong and do not fall! You are the pillar that must hold all!”
Quan realized that he was the hardiest member of the group and undertook the trap’s wrath, opening the door so that the party could move on.
The second floor was a shrine to Thor and was a maze of arcing lightning. Cassius undertook this obstacle and though he could not discover the pattern of the electricity, he toughed his way through the danger and disabled the trap and opened the door.
The third floor was guarded by two more of Shen’s guards: Devlin Hauzon and Kain Lorehelm. Quan allowed Jacques to return to control of his body to help the fights with his berserker abilities. Cassius focused on killing the demon prince while Sergio and Kain locked blades once more. Kain raked Asmoday over Sergio’s back, delightfully sending eldrich power through the weapon. “This isn’t the arena,” he taunted.
Sergio coordinated his moves with his allies and struck Kain in the neck, agreeing, “That’s right, Kain. This time I have friends.”The party cleared the temple of the demonfused and Kohkanest read the Aesyrian runes, revealing the temple to be erected for Freya, the goddess of love. Her challenge read:
““O stout hearts amongst ye
Present your dearest unto me.”
Above Freya’s doorway was a bloody urn, the size of a human heart. The party realized that they needed a human heart to offer as a sacrifice. They first used Kain Lorehelm’s, but the offering was refused. Cassius Deepcrow sacrificed himself, gave his heart for the party and the door opened.
Floor four was a Temple to Tyr, the god of Tactics. Strange target dummies would appear in a pattern throughout the room and attack in a spinning arc. Despite the best efforts of the party, these were invulnerable but easily avoided. The party spent a lot of time attempting to prove their worth to Tyr and master the puzzle and eventually used coordination and teamwork against the dummy. Once flanked, the target revealed a glyph which unlocked the door.
On the next level, another battle took place, this one against Miles Uverdeus and Muriel Verona, two powerful casters. The party then proceeded to rise to the challenge of Loki, the god of trickery. A magical mirror in the center of the room issued questions, oriented beside a numerical keypad 1-9 in a 3×3 grid.
“Sixteen fools in one well fell, propped upright they reach the half,
If ten men die and six are et, how many fools are still now wet?”
Though they answered this question correctly, they were surprised that the door did not open, but another riddle appeared, even more disturbing than the last.
“I cut a man in twain at seven, then twice more at eight,
I cut that piece in three next hour,
and at ten I counted. How many parts is the man in?”
After answering this, they found yet another riddle:
“A man, heart heavy with evil, killed a family in the night,
The man he crushed the father’s head and stabbed the woman through her heart.
He found a child and tore the right leg off to attack the daughter, raping her with the limb.
Four senseless acts, what shall his count be?”
The party could not answer this puzzle, but once they selected in error, the puzzle ignored their mistake and offered another puzzle instead, repeating the first puzzle with a different number. After solving that variant, they found a variation of the second puzzle as well. The third puzzle returned to them, this time with different appendages and body parts. Koh began to think of the keypad as a living creature and realized that the cues all referred to a number on the pad that mirrored the anatomical equivalent. Thus the heart would be the center of the pad and the head would be the upper center. After correctly figuring the answer, they plugged in the four numbers, but were still not given the benefit the sound of a door unlocking.
Sergio then went to the door and grabbed the handle, discovering that it had been unlocked the entire time.
The final floor was a temple to Hermod, the god of luck. Two doors stood before the party. One way was said to lead to victory, the second would lead to the bottom floor and force them to repeat the entire tower climb. Sergio took a coin from his pocket and flipped it, placing his faith in luck. Satisfied by the gesture, the door allowed him passage.
Shen petitioned the veil to hear his cry and with the entirety of the world of Iifa mourning, to return that which it had taken. When Jacob Cromwell did not return from the great beyond, he drew quiet and mused if Jacob had chosen to forsake the world. Sergio told him that Jacob had died a hero and warned the world of the danger of Shen’s plans. Shen Lightbringer dismissed the event saying that it did not matter, he would resurrect someone if he had to kill everyone on the planet, save for his allies. Alstoy giggled evilly and asked if he was allowed now to kill Kohkanest, to which Shen consented. “Kill them,” Shen Lightbringer stated. “I have no need for them any longer. Kill them all.”
Hikaryu, understanding the power of the Wardens, advised Shen that they would not be assured victory unless he “used that move.” With The False Yeshuah’s permission, Hikaryu awoke his sword.
“Whitest Light, shine forth.
Give unto your children a guardian.
Treacherous dark, cower
Face purity! Great Dragon of Light! Seraphima!”
Hikaryu calling forth Seraphima
Shen’s final two guards gave a good fight and Shen’s abilities of manipulation demoralized the Wardens. He preyed on Jacques’s wrath and disdain for Koh. He dominated the barbarian personality and instructed him to kill the stormcrow, which he was happy to do. It was not until Quan overpowered Jacques that they were able to fight on effectively. Kohkanest defeated Alstoy, turning him into a weasel, which happily scrambled to his side. Kohkanest attempted to exorcise the invading Yeshuah’s soul from Shen, but Sergio succeeded in stabbing a poisoned arrow into his back. Hikaryu surrendered, but divulged that Shen Lightbringer had taken precautions against death and had not yet been defeated.
High above the veil, Shen Lightbringer hung cradled in Phaeleg’s arms. He berated the False God for failing to protect him and touched his face, absorbing the immortal entirely. Now with abundant power radiating from his body, a 15 foot wingspan and shimmering armor of the gods, Shen flew to the center of the veil, where he announced, “And now to complete my ascent to power, I will absorb the power of the veil.” He plunged his arm into the portal, which left a tear across its radius.
Shen tried to pull his arm back, but it was too late. Another hand had reached through and seized his forearm. The two began wrestling in midair and Shen lost control of his wings. Before they impacted the ground Shen managed to open his wings again. He landed safely in a heap and ten feet from him, stood Jacob Cromwell.
The New God Shen faced off against the heroes, taunting them with portents of the world that he would create once they were dead. After chasing the madman for so long, Sergio almost succumbed to despair, believing the charismatic orator. Jacob reassured Sergio and the two continued to fight on. Koh, using the Orichalcum Star that Jacques had won on Calm Night and his abilities as a spiritual medium, began the exorcism once more to drain the power of the Yeshuah from Shen Lightbringer’s body. Shen’s original characteristics emerged once more and the boy began to aid Koh in the ritual.
Shen, now free of the Yeshuah’s power, returned to his senses and requested for Sergio to finish what he had started, offering his rapier to the assassin, claiming that he just wanted to spent eternity with Joy in the afterlife. Jacob nixed this idea, stating that no one deserved what lay beyond the veil. Knowing that he was already dead, Jacob stated that the world needed the Yeshuah and that Sempaurora needed a king. He revealed that his second soul was that of Anton Marcus and that if he put this into a weapon, it would return Sempaurora to what it had been. He could also return the Orichalcum Star to Yeshuah in Aesyr, returning the Yeshuah to the world.
Shen said that it was possible, but they would need a weapon to hold it. Sergio quickly offered Mephisto, saying that he had no need for the weapon any longer and that storing his darkness externally was a way of refusing to face it. Shen removed Mephisto from the rapier and put the spirit back in Sergio’s body, which Sergio repaid by punching Shen across the face, joking that it had worked. Anton Marcus’ soul was put in the empty weapon and Jacob instructed Sergio to return it to Blaine Crucoy. Sergio vowed to take up Jacob’s post as Operative and work for the King. Quan, eager to help, followed Jacob beyond the veil. After a half hour of waiting, Joy returned from the portal.
The Yeshuah smiled brightly. “We have a lot of work to do.”