Having come to the ruins of old Altus in search of more God-artifacts, the party have just defeated a group of mages who had been trying to summon a dragon. Looting the room, Ahava spots a magical card sitting in the maw of the dragon statue. Grabbing it, he barely has time to see that it reads “The Fates” before swirling magical energies coalesce around the exits, trapping the party.
To their consternation, a phantasmal dragon starts pulling itself out of the statue. Roaring at the party, “You fools! Do you even know what you’ve taken? I’ll have to call a council to deal with this!” It scribes a quick series of runes in the air, which Ahava recognises as a spell for communication and summoning. Turning to the party, the dragon then starts ranting about unknown power, and mages and something called the Waiting Dead. Recognising the term, Darhe’el blurts out, “Aren’t the Waiting Dead the spirits of Haaza’s followers? What does that have to do with a dragon?” At this, the dragon flies into a rage and starts flailing at the party.
They dash about in a mad effort to avoid injury whilst trying to calm the dragon down. Luckily for them, it is only a few minutes before a shimmering portal opens up in the air and a strange gnomish looking female appears. “Haaza! Stop playing with the mortals! The council you summoned will be assembled shortly.” The dragon, whom the party now realises is Haaza himself, abruptly curls up into an ashamed ball, “Sorry Tierza.”
More portals pop into being, from which step a host of amazing humanoids. Ahava realises that these are the Gods of Altus, and the party falls into awed silence. Except TC, who goes up to Sune demanding to know about a persona in his head. Ignoring them, the gods start an animated discussion amongst themselves.
Most of what is said goes over the Clowns’ heads, but they gather that the Fates card is part of “The Deck of Many Things”. It was released into the mortal world by Navis and Novis as an amusement, but its power could now pose a threat to the gods and something they called “The Ascension”. They also note that Ehrim is missing from the council, and wonder what could have happened to keep him away.
Eventually, Vindir throws up her hands in exasperation, “Look, we all know that we each have our own agendas and agents in place. Enough with the politics and pretenses. I’m done here!” She turns to her companion and they both disappear through a portal. Soon, only Tierza, Haaza and Sune remain. Peering at Ahava and the card he holds, Tierza says to Sune, “Well, looks like you’ve had first dibs on the Deck, but I’ve had my eyes on this group too.” She leaves through a portal too, while Haaza disappears into his statue and Sune vanishes with a puff of smoke and a cheeky wave.
The party are still standing in shocked disbelief, when a man forms out of a pool of shadow on the ground. “Phew! Thought they’d never leave!” They recognise him as Vindir’s companion. Turning to Darhe’el he says, “Dar! Don’t you recognise your old friend Marcus?” Realisation dawns, then an uncharacteristically violent Darhe’el lunges and grabs Marcus by the throat, “You betrayed us!”
“No no! You’ve got it wrong, I was attacked by the shard hunters too! I only survived by making a bargain with Vindir to become her champion and servant.”
Darhe’el takes a minute to process this, then lets Marcus go. Brushing himself off, Marcus says, “Look, I just wanted to let you know that everything wasn’t your fault, and that those hunters are after -” He is cut off as Craig slams into him with his weapons drawn. The Clowns are taken aback by the unprovoked assault, but they soon feel a familiar presence around them. “The shard hunter!”
Facing overwhelming odds, the shard hunter is quickly beaten to within an inch of its life, but with a last burst of effort, it grabs Marcus’ obsidian and teleports away. “No! That was Vindir’s Unseen Blade, we have to get it back!” Marcus tells the Clowns that he will seek Vindir’s assistance while they pursue the shard hunter. Quickly agreeing, the party race out into the ruins of Old Altus, tracking the magical trail of the hunter. Darhe’el pauses to make a quick call to Asimir, who then magically appears at their side. With his help, they track the shard hunter to a nearby Consortium outpost, where they see the shard hunter hand the Unseen Blade to a weird frost tiefling.
The party draw their weapons and charge at the tiefling, while Darhe’el manages to convince the Consortium lackeys lounging about the outpost to lend their assistance. The lackeys ferry healing potions to the party and feed Darhe’el some mana oil, causing his power to reach ludicrous levels. The tiefling is a powerful frost magic user, but falls quickly to the combined assault of Craig and TC, who picks up the Unseen Blade. Meanwhile Ahava and Darhe’el keep the shard hunter and its shard executioner companions busy. Just as they are about to finish off the last of the shardminds, Asimir casts a powerful spell over the Clowns, rendering them unconscious. He then picks up the Unseen Blade and chuckles over the helpless adventurers.
With the power of the mana oil still surging through him, Darhe’el bursts up from his magical stupor and lunges at Asimir. His pulsing psionic energies are so ridiculously ludicrous that his charge rips a hole in the space-time continuum, sending him and Asimir hurtling through the Domains. Asimir is momentarily amazed at Darhe’el’s power, but quickly casts a spell to teleport himself to safety, leaving Darhe’el alone and suffocating in the void between planes. Just as everything is about to fade, a portal opens and a strange gnomish looking female appears, “Come Darhe’el, I have great plans for you.”
Back in the physical realm, the Clowns have recovered and learnt of Darhe’el’s heroic sacrifice from the Consortium lackeys. They resolve to hunt down Asimir and avenge their fallen friend.