A moment of uneasiness passed between the Dragonslayer and the Party, as both sides assessed each other and their opinions. But eventually Dulkan stated that their goals didn’t align, although they neither crossed. Rescuing Edessa and stopping the daemonic invasion was more crucial than the Dragonslayer’s “ascension”. After a moment’s pondering, she agreed.
While Althaea and Antinua were both eager to plunder Karanox’s magical items, so was the Dragonslayer. She strode in and began perusing the mighty objects of power arrayed on display stands in the cave: A deck of cards, a black sphere, a ring large enough to be a headband, a pure crystal ball and a black morningstar. She unfolded a scarf and began to collect items that interested her. But Althaea was unwilling to let the so-called “Guardian” run unopposed. The bard took the crystal ball and the morningstar after seeing the Dragonslayer’s interest, defiantly ignoring her warnings to bring them to her. Frustrated at the meddlings of the party, the Dragonslayer allowed them to take the items, so long as they went far away, somewhere where they would not interfere with her plans.
And so the ended the first meeting of the Dragonslayer and the Heroes of Dusk Coast: An uneven parting, both to their own tasks. The Party returned to Kalrathia, and on the next day, 17th of Barren, they began gathering supplies for their upcoming journey to the Planes. They gathered everything they needed from the Huntress, which was still dry-docked as her hull was being repaired and bought a lucky pony to carry it all.
The moment of truth arrived. The Party traveled to a secluded rocky area further into the Drylands and activated the Cubic Gate. The powerful relic sprang to life and created a portal to another plane: A dark, shadowy land where specks of blue and purple light floated in the air. But as it weren’t Daemonis, they allowed the portal to close and tried another side. This one led to a stony balcony, overlooking a curious sky and distant, impossibly tall towers. As the Party realized that they could test out the cube, they decided to see where all the sides would take them. The next one led to a clearing in the middle of some sort of forest, illuminated by a red light.
But the next attempts produced nothing but soft clicks: The Cube had run out of power. So the Party returned, both disappointed at the slowing of progress, but grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the planes.
Althaea used the crystal ball, which was a powerful scrying tool, to contact her mother and tell her of their progress and ask if she or Yaris would know of the symbols etched on the sides of the cube. While Anthea could not help with their problem, she was surprised to learn of the Dragonslayer. Armed with the fact that she existed and that Karanox was dead, she could warn the Council of the upcoming storm.
The bard also contacted Sunder, who was teaching in Assarna. While he too was unfamiliar with the knowledge of planar travel, he did have something for Althaea: His drawings from the circular “book” from Gwyn’s forest. The drawings were maps of the the planes. Several of them had the same symbols as the cube. Althaea memorized the maps to the best of her ability.
Dulkan, emboldened about the spell he used to contact Edessa in the past, asked Antinua to create a sending scroll for him. Despite her doubts of Dulkan’s ability to harness the necessary knowledge to cast it, she began to write.
On the next days they investigated the view behind the rest of the portals. They saw a snowy wasteland, a windy hill with floating islands in the skies and a wet cave within a gargantuan spiderweb-like dome.
On the last day, 20th of Barren, Antinue finished the spell. Dulkan, with the wizard’s instructions, managed to cast the spell, sending his thoughts to Edessa:
“Coming for you,
Describe your location.
Dulkan and friends.”
“I’m in Null. Demons are chasing me.
It’s cold but I made a friend.
I hope it’s really you.”
It was all the clue they needed. Instructing the Huntress to return to Dusk Coast, they opened a portal to the snowy desolation and headed in.
Beyond, in the plane of Null, they fell victim to its most malignant feature: Magic ceased to work. The mages’ spells evaporated from their minds, but the most worrying reaction was their portable hole: All the water it had taken when the Party was saving the Huntress exploded out. The entire Party was drenched, and the cold air began slowly but surely biting their skin.
Despite the desolation and endless piles of snow, there was a ray of hope: Several shafts of light were visible in the horizon. What they were, the Party could not say. In the planes, they had to rely on their own wits, courage and hope.