"De qua sumptus es quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris."
"Out of [dust] you were raised, because you are dust, and into dust you shall revert." - Genesis 3:19
Dates: 4th Hive to 4th Void, Accordant
Through her factionmate Geena Homefinder, the bariaur druidess Knell finda a job for some "inter-planar courier work." Not much else is given except the name of the employer: Mohan. Knell finds Mohan at a bar. She's a dark-skinned, raven-haired tiefling, Indian in coloring and dress, with an unusual trait: she has six triple-jointed fingers on each hand. "Sure cut my career as a spellslinger short before it even began," she grumbles as she sees Knell stare at her. Mohan tells Knell nothing more than the wage and the place to bring her fellows.
The next time Mohan meets Knell, Mohan leads her and the rest of the party (including a new addition, a rogue modron whom Jesdin met, known only as "Box") into a second-floor room in the boarding house. The room itself is messy, littered with clothes and bed sheets. Sitting in the corner, at a small desk, is a cloaked figure who the party first estimates to be a dwarf: its torso is solid and round, its legs are short and stumpy and its arms short but powerful-looking. But when the cowl drops from its head, they see it is certainly no dwarf. He, or it, appears to be made of soft stone, perhaps clay or sandstone. In the light from the window, they can see his eyes are hollow pits and on his forehead, there are inscribed a series of weird symbols. His arms and legs appear to be missing everything below the elbow and knee. The creature's face does not change expression, and the only sound it makes when it sees the party enter is a pathetic howling gurgle. Mohan says, "This is my client. Its name is Aleph. It is a clay golem, and it wants to end its own existence."
Mohan explains Aleph's unique predicament: it's been in a painful existence for almost a millennium, and now it wants to die. Perfectly acceptable for a Sinker, this mission meets her philosophical requirements. "And if philosophy doesn't convince you bloods, " Mohan says, "perhaps some jink can." She offers either 150 jinx or whatever one magical weapon she can promote from the Sinker HQ to each party member. She'll provide the payment when the party enters the Outlands.
Why the Outlands? Mohan says she's communicated with the golem via ESP, and that Aleph saw a sage and found out he needs to go to the Outlands to his old master's kip and find a special method to dissolve him completely. Unfortunately, Aleph's memory is not good enough to remember what exactly happened on that night 1,000 years ago when he was driven into wandering, but he does remember "flashes of light and color, and great screams of terror from the upper floors." That was when he fled into the night.
Mohan bought the dark on a portal key to the Outlands, within the fifth ring. It will plop down the party a mere day's walk from the tower of Aleph's creator. The portal leads the party out of a "rabbit hole" in the ground. On the way, the party runs into some quills, one of which Knell tames and trains.
The tower, from a distance, is seen to be in a state of disrepair. It certainly looks like it's been abandoned for a thousand years. The tower is crumbling near the top. Vines and ivy cover the rough granite brick surface of the building's base, reaching as far as 50 feet up the tower. The party also discovers the entrance is blocked by huge boulders, obviously artificially placed there. Reconnoitering around the back of the tower, the party discovers a strange patch of vines with bright yellow flowers, which begin to undulate hypnotically when the party approaches. The flowers put out a puff of pollen, which render Knell and Selgar incapacitated. At the same time, three humanoid figures with the same yellow powder all over them emerge from a hole in the back wall of the tower. The party fights the zombified slaves of the plant, all the while avoiding its flowers. Fairly soon, Knell is drawn close enough to the flower for a tendril to emerge and begin to burrow into her brain-box. The party cuts off the flowers, and destroys the vine as well as its mind-slaves.
Upon entering the tower itself, the party finds a being living on the bottom floor. Grälf immediately recongizes it as tanar'ri, but it also appears to have the qualities of an ogre, as well. Selgar, sensing this, attempts to talk to it, in common, and this plan works, for a while. The unholy ogre apparently has a relationship with the ogres in this area, one where the tribe sacrifices its members regularly to him. "Box" disarms the ogre with a grease spell, but this does little to mitigate the danger he contains. Selgar is shocked to see two-foot long talons emerge from under the tanar'gre's fingers. These razor-sharp claws fell the great ogre, and Selgar falls unconscious. Grälf and the others, however, have more than enough might to destroy the crossbreed, and take his trophies.
After some rest, the party decides to visit the upper floors. On the second floor, they discover the cells of the acolytes. The acolytes' thousand-year-old skeletons are all in bed, smashed against walls and strewn about. Aleph begins to remember what happened: there was a great battle, something came down from the top floor and drove him from safety into the night. In the last cell the party checks, they discover an ancient spirit, the soul of the temple's sub-priest, a berk named Aaron. Aaron, after an initial demonstration of the infinite hatred of the undead for the living, sees Aleph, and tries to help the party.
"Yes, Aleph, faithful servant," says the spectre, "it has been long now. I have dwelt here for what feels like a tortured eternity. My fault, the whole matter is my fault! I knew the young acolyte Sa'hul desired the power of the Esteemed Father! The night when Zedekiah attempted to summon and bind the demon, Sa'hul must have sabotaged the Father's summoning circle! I took his confession that morning; he wanted to be absolved of the sin of pride and consuming ambition. And then, when the explosions began upstairs... I knew what had happened. When it was my turn to die, the only thing on my mind was my failure, and my guilt.
"Aleph, you wish to die," Aaron continues. "Indeed, so do I. But I wish to be released to my rightful rest on the Great Blessed Paradise. You must go to the top floor, and find what has happened. If anything still lairs there, you must find it and banish it. Take the items here, the prayers and so forth. They may be of aid."
Aaron offer the party his treasure and a scroll, and tells them to go forth to the top of the tower, where apparently there is still a manifestation of his perceived failure, the only thing keeping his spirit from winging its way to Mount Celestia. Unfortunately, Selgar's bulk will not allow him to continue the journey; the ladder leading to the next floor will not allow his body to pass through.
Upon making their way to the next floor (without Selgar), the party sees a long hallway, flanked on either side by mighty granite statues, of holy men and women of the temple's faith. The party quickly deduces that there must be more space on either side of this hallway, and searches for secret doors. Inside the secret rooms they find the holy relics and items of the temple, but also activate the animated statues of the prophets of the temple. Only quick thinking from the party, to seal the secret door, and a timely disintegration from Mohan, save them from further injury.
The first thing to assault the senses of the party in the luxuriously-appointed chamber of the high priest is the wide variety of objets d'art hanging on the walls and ceilings. Most are covered in mold or in ivy that has crept in through the window from the walls outside. A huge mahogany desk is shoved against the right wall, behind which a skeleton in richly appointed yet decaying robes is trapped. His mouth seems to silently scream into the air. Behind him, gold leafed book spines still are visible under a solid coating of dust. Three glass cages are shoved haphazardly against the left wall. They glow with an eerie blue light, and you can see animals inside them. Inside one, a collection of worms lie motionless, and within another, what look to be brightly colored butterflies are pressed up against the glass, silhouetted by the blue light, which seems to come from inside the glass boxes. The other large item of note in the room is a large four-foot wide wooden crate, which appears to be sealed and remarkably free of decay and mold. The walls, ceilings, and floors are covered in rugs and tapestries, and candleabra stand near the desk, the crate, and the glowing glass cages.
After taking all this in, the party rushes over to the bookshelf, but not before Mohan, the Doomguard mindbender, begins attacking her fellow party members. Quick thinking renders her unconscious (a color spray spell). It was at that moment that Knell feels a presence in the room, assaulting her, seeming to paralyze her limbs. Knell fumbles for the scroll case and chants the prayer to dispel the evil presence in the room. Miraculously, she understands the prayer and completes it, dismissing the evil spirit of the ambitious student Sa'hul.
With Mohan and Grälf (also unconscious from "Box's" color spray) unconscious, it fell to "Box," Jesdin, and Knell to find the method of Aleph's destruction. And they found it, along with much treasure, near the dead body of the high priest Zedekiah. With the help of Box's comprehend languages ability, is it discovered that to erase the last character inscribed on Aleph's forehead (read right to left) with a special strigil, so that the word for "truth" becomes the word for "death," will destroy the golem. With this done, the party gathers its members and heads back for the portal to Sigil.