The journey through Umbra was a long but uneventful one. The Party swam from settlement to settlement, following leads towards ever more informative people. Eventually, after several days’ of travel, they discovered Sut-naggar, the largest city yet. It was built from several domes, connected to each other via pipes made from some sort of leather. Inside they found the Scrollkeeper, a Fae who kept a record of stories and legends in scrolls. He knew where the Gatekeepers’ stronghold was, but was unwilling to give the Party the knowledge without getting a favor in return.
A shapeshifter had stolen a scroll from the Scrollkeeper, and he wanted the thief to be brought to justice and the scroll in question returned. It proved a simple task: Althaea, still in possession of the Crystal ball, discovered the location of the shapeshifter in mere hours. Carric marched to the miscreant’s doorstep and gave a stern talking-to, tugging their heartstrings and drawing a regretful confession of their crime. With everything well, the Scrollkeeper gave them a scroll describing the direction to the Gatekeepers in a form of a story.
So finally they arrived in Lady Antinua’s vision: A huge dome with a tower inside. Leaving Reneé near a strange stone tree, the Party infiltrated the castle. Despite nearly getting caught in an invisibility-shattering lantern, they managed to get inside. The Party rallied in a strange, dome-shaped room of a swirling, cloud-like white patterns on the walls and thick glass panes displaying the achievements of the Divines. In the center of the room Carric found a hidden mechanism that popped open a lever, which the Party wisely decided not to push. With Lady Antinua’s spells and Carric’s invisibility, they headed ever upwards, dodging past members of the mysterious cult, eventually ending up in the turret Lady Antinua had seen in her vision.
The turret only presented a stern door as the final obstacle. Althaea knocked on the only feature of the door: A metallic knocker. A mysterious entity probed into her mind and demanded to know whether she should be there. Deciding to imitate a faithful newcomer, Althaea boldly lied that she had permission to enter. The door tossed her a difficult demand: She needed to recite the three tenets of the Gatekeepers. While she was flummoxed, Carric and Antinua managed to piece the information together from the mumblings and writings they had seen while they snuck through the stronghold:
- There exists a True Destiny for the entire multiverse
- The Divines exist, and they are the only ones who can bring about True Destiny
- Mortals do not know the True Destiny, so we must bar their path to the Divines
Ironically enough, claiming to be a member of the Gatekeepers was the key to open the gate. With enough confidence the Party managed to enter the small sanctum whose walls were filled with statues of dragons and rows of scrolls and books. Antinua soon found the scroll from her vision: A powerful spell, called Conceptual Reinforcement. Its power would protect its users from the transformative effects of the planes and other spells. It was the key component needed to survive their journey to the Celestial Sea. The greedy wizard also sought out the thickest wizarding tome in the stacks and found what sought: A magical artifact, which was, in fact, another Cubic Gate, built to combat the Daemon threat a long time ago.
Carric discovered some magic for himself while Althaea’s attention was drawn by the locked book on display: The Celestial Sea. After defeating the lock its contents were free: Locations of portals to the Celestial Sea from different planes, along with a warning that meddling with them would be a hazard to one’s life, and to the fabric of the universe. Not willing to anger anyone by looting the place too much, Althaea merely copied a few of the portal directions before returning it to its proper place. The closest portal was right under their feet: The white dome-shaped room was apparently a Celestial Sea replica and the secret lever would open a portal to the mysterious and lethal plane.
So the final leg of their planar journey was within their grasp. But there were still several problems: Lady Antinua would need to copy the spell to her book which would take hours and Reneé, their intrepid companion, was still hiding in the water, under a constant threat of drowning. There was also not saying whether their presence had attracted attention…