A number of incredible adventures befell the heroes after leaving the Harvest Lord’s domain through the third Coffer of Kundarak. When the story would later be told, bards generally agreed that the following events most certainly occurred, though the sneaky and rapid nature of the thieves at work has made it difficult to discern the exact truth at times.
- The adventurers found themselves back in Rubyvale, at the exact spot where the first Coffer that they located (though the fourth Coffer in the progression) was buried. However, the Coffer had been dug up and taken to the college of magic in Rubyvale, an institution dedicated to the magical studies of the followers of Wee Jas. A student in the arcane tower had moved it to his chambers for personal study, believing it to be an artifact of great power (which, to be fair, was accurate.) While moving through the college, the adventurers once again encountered Gibbet the skeletal gatekeeper of maze-like realities which were being used to house the special projects of the students. They found the student’s room easily enough, but were assaulted by a team of five incredibly unusual bounty hunters named Rag-Tag, Montague, Gustav, Rune and Frobzell.
- After making their way through the fourth coffer, they found themselves near a city called Reken, the City of Giants. Ruled by Thuzdek the Undying, the city (and the road leading into and out of it) seemed to sit on a climactic dividing line with a dry desert wasteland to the east and a lush jungle to the north. Here they encountered a boy named Samyn and a new ally, Tyr Psicry. They escorted Samyn to his home (the royal palace of Thuzdek the Undying), routed some sphinxes from the royal cellars, and learned that in some fashion, Samyn was, himself, Thuzdek, even though that name (or title) was currently held by an elderly ruler who was soon to retire to the priesthood.
- D’artagnan was separated from the party during the teleportation, and wound up inside a pyramid. He was attacked by a mummy priest, though he was able to barely destroy the monster, stealing a glove it was wearing and the Ankh-like scepter that it was carrying.
- While Charles Cavandish snooped about to learn more of Thuzdek, he was met by priests (and even Thuzdek himself) and asked to cease his studies. To make up for the minor transgression, Charles and friends were asked to handle a problem of giants, regularly storming the city from the desert to the east. The three hill giants were not much of a challenge, however, as they each had illnesses, magical curses, and in one case a set of cursed Gauntlets of Fumbling (which S. Danger (human ranger) promptly picked up the moment the giants fell, causing great difficulty whenever it came to holding anything.)
- The death of the hill giants led the party to the cave used by the giants as a hiding spot. Deeper into the cave, a clutch of Shocker Lizards had taken up residence in a damp grotto. Fortunately, Cavandish made short work of them with a powerful Cloudkill scroll that he had earlier found in Thuzdek’s library. Beyond the Shocker Lizard Grotto, an underwater passage led the party to a strange chamber marked by the seal of House Kundarak, where a guardian asked for three challengers to pass tests of Great Speed, Great Fortitude, and Great Patience. D’Artagnan took the challenge of great speed, and narrowly made it through a deadly corridor filled with traps and tricks. S. Danger (the human ranger) found himself in an illusory mead hall, engaged in a drinking contest with a mighty dwarven warrior. And Charles Cavandish found himself listening to a speaking stone and very slowly, very patiently, having to navigate a series of questions from a pre-programmed voice before he could speak to anyone who could help him. With these otherworldly challenges behind them, the ethereal spirit warding the cavern allowed them to see their prize: what appeared to be one-third of the fifth Coffer of Kundarak! It appeared to have been cut away, with a green and glowing patch where the rest of the chest would be. Having evaded the Chamber of Threes, the spirit asked them to “use their dragonmark to exit the chamber safely.” Without a dragonmark, the heroes merely ran for it, up through the water-filled passages, the shocker lizard grotto, and the former home of the diseased hill giants, before making it out, the cave collapsing right behind them.
- A clockwork nightingale, capable of putting creatures to sleep with its music, was able to incapacitate D’artagnan and Philosopher Bronze enough for a small gang of orcs to put them on horses and ride them out into the desert. At a certain sand dune, unremarkable from the others, one of the orcs turned a small hourglass (though it truly only lasted three minutes) that temporarily shifted everyone into the Ethereal Plane. The Ethereal Plane’s desert was much like the real one, except for the presence of a massive and gaudy palace, one that surely would have been bright and colorful if not for the plane’s muted colors. The people were brought in, Bronze taken to a cell in a dungeon and D’artagnan to an audience with the palace’s master, a rakshasa who called himself Maricha of the Seven Wastes. Unknown to all, Maricha was the evil outsider who had become infuriated with the life of Philosopher Bronze when the (possibly insane) factotum drew a multitude of cards from the Deck of Many Things. D’artagnan navigated the conversation with Maricha, lifted an hourglass from one of the orcish guards, and departed, marking the position of the sand dune. On horseback, he raced back to Reken, found the other party members, and encouraged them all to race back. Meanwhile, Maricha of the Seven Wastes had gone to the dungeon to find Philosopher Bronze hiding from him, having broken out of his cell. It wasn’t long before Maricha found him, however, and a quick battle of spells ensued. Bronze was saved by the ever-ready Wish spell that the Deck of Many Things had also imparted, wishing to turn the floor to lava. Maricha perished, stubbornly standing in the superhot flooring and receiving a number of well-placed and well-timed arrow wounds thanks to the arrival of the other heroes.
- In order to remove the curse of the gauntlets from S. Danger (who is, lest we forget, a human ranger), the rest of the party sought out magical aid. A diviner in the Wizard’s Quarter of Reken guided the group to a kobold who performed tricks during the day and knew a bizarre variation of the Rope Trick spell: the first casting happens normally, but the second casting, if done within the extradimensional space of the first casting, could create a passage to the Elemental Plane of Air. The party went to this plane in search of a Noble Djinn, and after many attacks by arrow hawks on an island made of cloud they found just such a creature. She had no particular desire to grant a wish for the adventurers, but was more than willing to trade three if the heroes would bring to her a wizard named Billin the Red that had imprisoned her on the material plane decades earlier. A party member left his magical sword as a down payment in exchange for one immediate wish to free S. Danger (the human ranger) from his Gauntlets of Fumbling.
- To make some quick cash, the adventurers asked around for work and discovered that a half-elf named Halas Martain needed some helpers to go on a jungle expedition. Taking his skiff out to a series of ruins from the giant civilization that populated the area before Thuzdek’s rise to power, the party landed at the nearest convenient landing spot near the truly titanic temple. A patch of red, and oddly warm, mud and slurry ringed the ruins like a moat, caused by a volcanic rift in the mud below the surface (caused by a small waterfall that tumbled down the massive stairs of the gigantic building.) Charles Cavandish, that noble conjurer with the love for fine tobacco, died in the mud, struck by a sneaky Thoqqua. More dangers arose: a gang of steam mephits where the waterfall hit the mud (and causing a large steam cloud), a statue of a forgotten Cyclops King that drained the life force of anyone who passed it, statues of three trollish warriors (who would have come to life had Martain not been able to read the giant codeword at their feet), a gelatinous cube in the bottom of a pool of water, and the oddly animated skeletons of several trolls and an ettin, remnants of the giant civilization that once lived there. Exploring further, a chamber was found with even more troll and ettin skeletons, and the massive skeleton of a cloud giant, the final king who had made this palace his burial chamber. A necromancer, known and reviled by Martain, was hoping to use the giants as the beginning of an undead army. Fortunately, the heroes were able to stop him (especially thanks to Cher’s ability to turn troll skeletons to dust with Cure Light Wounds spells, and D’artagnan’s ingenious method of climbing the cloud giant skeleton and dismantling it from the inside.)
- The party was here joined by a scout, a shifter who had been wandering the jungles: Briar Wererabbit he called himself. Briar, Philosopher Bronze, and Halas Martain explored a hidden chamber while the other adventurers stood watch. They discovered a hidden recess owned by an Illithid who claimed to be guarding something for House Kundarak, but also eager to see people that he blamed for the death of his former master, Maricha of the Seven Wastes. While his mental attacks nearly defeated the three adventurers, ultimately the Mind Flayer shifted to another plane to escape death, leaving the three to continue. They found a room with three more thirds of treasure chests. A quick investigation revealed two of them to be mimics. Once dispatched, the players left with yet another third of the fifth Coffer of Kundarak in their hands.
- After returning to Reken, the next day they were invited to a ritual that would initiate young Samyn to fully grow into his role as Thuzdek the Undying, officiated by the high priest (who was also Thuzdek the Undying.) At the ceremony, a wall moved apart and the statue of an aboleth was revealed, its three eyes shooting beams of lights at all the gathered crowds, many of whom died instantly from the attack. At the same time, Samyn was bathed in sunlight from the open roof. D’artagnan rushed to the statue and disabled it by breaking each of the three eyes with a mace, and when it was revealed that the sunlight was healing all damage done to young Samyn, S. Danger (human ranger) climbed the balcony and pushed him off, interrupting the ceremony. Thuzdek was not amused, neither of him.
- In a private audience to which the heroes were escorted, young Samyn, only partially imbued with his destiny as Thuzdek the Undying, grew angry as a child of his age might. He conjured five undead servants and sent them back into the past to defeat the heroes before he could meet them. While he then expressed sadness that “that Cavandish fellow” was the only one who died (he seemed to like him), he knew that each minion had drained some of the life essences of the previous selves of the characters. He had the collected gauntlets that the heroes had picked up from all of their fallen undead assassins explode (though the heroes were smart enough to toss them away), and the auras of life force coalesced into a creature that Samyn called “The Amalgaman!” This person, made of the skills and abilities of all of the heroes, was a unique opponent, but one that the collected efforts of the heroes were able to quickly dispatch. This angered Thuzdek and rocks began to fall from the ceiling, convincing the party that it was time to leave…
- The party sought out the elderly Thuzdek, who was more reasonable given his age and experience. Thuzdek the Undying agreed to spare them…but only if they could solve a problem that had baffled him for centuries. He knew the location of an artifact, but it was beyond a door that he could not open. As some added incentive, a statue of Anubis was placed at the end of the hallway far from the door when the heroes were teleported to this spot. As their candle grew shorter, the shadow drew nearer, seeming to pull the deadly Anubis statue (that they soon learned was capable of coming to life with deadly scimitar attacks for anyone who dared go past it) toward them. Using their knowledge of ancient languages, a book of tourism, and a handy book of medical phrases they learned why Thuzdek had never been able to open the door: while the passage was written in the ancient Egyptian language that he knew, the rhyme scheme was decidedly meant for the common tongue. Their eventual translation was as follows:
There once was an Ancient Inscription
That had to be read in Egyptian
We read it real great,
It opened a gate
And our enemies had a conniption
When the door swung open, Thuzdek appeared, enraged at having missed the solution to opening the door. The heroes stepped through, and the door closed behind before Thuzdek the Undying could reach them. There they found the final third of the fifth Coffer of Kundarak which, when touched, teleported them to Thuzdek’s alchemy lab where he had concocted a method of recreating the mystical energies that the previous coffers had, up to that point, been imbuing upon everyone who had been opening them, thus allowing the new party members to continue the quest. Once this alchemical item was in their possession, they were teleported to their rooms at the tavern where the other two was kept. They quickly put the chest together, unlocked it, and leaped within, vanishing to the next location…