Ruined Castle of the Great Void | Free Multi-Level TTRPG Battlemap with System-Agnostic Adventure
Sacrifice of the Silver Dragon
Once, when a great evil threatened the universe, and the heroes were losing, a powerful sorcerer tore a hole in the fabric of space-time and sacrificed himself to seal the darkness away in a pocket dimension. Everything nearby was obliterated by the formidable spell, and the remaining chasm in the dark sea has a reputation of great evil. Few who go to The Void ever return, and it is marked with a warning on most star-charts.
However, a young academic now seeks to go to this dreaded place. He claims he has found the doorway to the pocket dimension in his research, and only needs mercenaries to protect him while he ventures inside and accesses the priceless knowledge within.
While visiting a tavern in a city one night, you come across the academic–then, a stranger to you–drinking himself into a stupor and complaining to no-one in particular. If you talk to him, he explains the history of The Void, and how everyone has called him a fool and mocked his research, but if they only gave him a chance… the incredible things they could learn! Not to mention, that if that part of the dark sea was cleansed, travel routes around the area could be shortened by a month through cutting straight across!
When he realises you’re a mercenary, he begs you to help him, saying that the treasures you might find inside the pocket dimension are immeasurable and would surely be of great value! He has money, too–he can pay you if that’s not enough!
Should you agree, he blinks in disbelief, before saying he must prepare at once. He tells you to meet him at the docks tomorrow morning, as he’ll have a ship and everything arranged by then, before stumbling out of the tavern and back to his apartment at the local university.
In the morning, when you meet the academic at the docks, he blushes bright red and stammers that he wasn’t really sure you’d come. However, he quickly introduces himself as Anniel, and explains that he’s hired the somewhat shabby ship docked behind him, which he assures you he’s quite efficient at sailing as it was his hobby growing up.
Once inside the ship, you find comfortable enough quarters and discover along the journey that Anniel is something of a good cook, too (though he uses cheap ingredients). If you ask him about it, he blushes again and explains that he’s put his life savings into this venture seeing as no-one else would support his work, and he doesn’t have much left. If this doesn’t work out, he may well be destitute–but at least he’ll have no regrets, he laughs awkwardly.
While travelling to The Void, if you ask him about himself, he explains in an open and friendly manner that he was always interested in history and understanding the past so that such things do not repeat themselves. The Void has been his life’s work in particular however, as the hero who sealed the darkness away was a great, great, great, great grandfather of his.
Should you ask what you might expect inside, he explains that it was only a part of the great evil that was trapped within the demi-plane, but that part was enough to shift the tides of battle and allow the ancient heroes to drive the darkness back into hiding. He shakes his head and says softly that there might still be remnants of the evil inside it. His ancestor seemed to have ripped the hole in reality from the citadel he had conducted his research in–research the evil supposedly sought–so you and he are bound by duty to ensure it does not escape as a result of this venture.
The journey to The Void takes about two weeks, and as you sail closer you pass into an empty patch in space. Even the distant stars seem to glimmer less, as if covered by a thick shroud of darkness. Anniel explains that compasses don’t work here, which is one of the reasons he believes ships don’t return. He has to navigate by calculating the distance between the surrounding stars and the ship.
As you draw closer to where Anniel believes the demi-plane to be, the shadows on the ship begin doing strange things in the corner of your vision. They seem to flicker, stretch, and move–but only when you don’t look at them directly. It gives you a squirming feeling in your stomach, as if something’s watching you.
Eventually, Anniel slows the ship to a halt, which you can more feel than see due to the distant, dim stars. Before you are a circle of giant, magical pillars covered with runes just floating in space. Anniel grabs a book from his cabin and begins reading out an incantation. Nothing happens, and he blushes and tries again, inflecting the words slightly differently. This time, the runes on the pillars light up with shining blue light, and the circle begins spinning faster and faster. The pillars eventually rotate outwards, shooting off into space and disappearing. Before you now are the ruins of a citadel, floating in the darkness in front of the ship.
Anniel is initially ecstatic that his plan worked but soon grows nervous as he docks ship at the ruined metal pier. Once inside, human shaped shadows peel themselves from the walls. They whisper in hissing, almost inaudible voices while they attack; seeking to weaken you enough to take your body over, making you like them. They are almost like ghosts, remembering bits and pieces from their lives, but the shadows are disoriented and almost as if controlled by something else.
Some of the shadows, however, are not human. They have many legs like spiders, or too many arms, heads, etc. and can crawl along the ceiling and walls. They seem more powerful than the other shadows.
Inside the library Anniel finds a trove of magic spells, long-lost books documenting what exactly the great evil was, and myths containing different theories of the evil and historical events linked to it. It also contains much lore of metallic dragons. There are also some different magical artifacts. However, he doesn’t find the specific journal he is looking for.
Deeper in the fortress is the skeleton of a dragon in a room that has no ceiling, which Anniel is surprised to find. Examination of the bones suggests it was a silver, though he’s only heard very few references to a silver dragon supporting in the ancient war.
Downstairs, in the prison, there are some human shadows which seem to have been successfully locked behind bars that are inscribed with glowing metal runes. Deeper into the crypts is the journal Anniel seeks, which confirms his hypothesis of what happened and even details the spell his ancestor used to create The Void. However, he furrows his brow while reading it, saying that to his knowledge it shouldn’t have been possible for a human to cast.
There is a flickering white light coming from beneath a door to your left, and if you go inside you see the pale ghost of a man wearing a plain robe, watching some kind of bubbling, black shadowy entity within a circle of runes. The thing is constantly trying to escape, tossing and turning in on itself. The ghost looks at you in surprise, before asking who you are and how you got here.
If you answer truthfully, he is satisfied with your answers, and looks at Anniel a little longer with a strange curiosity. Then he asks for your help in finally defeating this fragment of shadow–since he is dead, he is not strong enough do so himself. But he cannot rest until it is defeated.
Anniel is shocked by this, saying that as much as he wants to destroy the evil, he has so many questions to ask him before he moves on! He asks what the other shadows were inside the citadel, and the ghost explains that some came from the people who died when he created this demi-plane. They were corrupted by the darkness trapped inside. The ones which look… less human… are fragments of the darkness which he couldn’t contain within the runes.
If you ask about the dragon bones, the ghost gives you an odd look, before saying he suspected you may not know. He introduces himself as Yalanor, a silver dragon. He explains that it is his bones at the top of the citadel, though as you see him now is how he spent much of his time during the war; polymorphed as a human.
Anniel doesn’t know what to say at this news, but Yalanor explains that the evil struggles constantly to escape and now that this demi-plane has been opened he cannot risk it getting out. It MUST be destroyed. He tells Anniel that the answers he seeks will be in his books, and journal. Within those he will find the names of many other metallic dragons he may contact with his questions, should they, of course, deign to answer Anniel’s requests.
When you attack the contained shadow, it writhes even fiercer, turning in and on itself and displaying a snarling, monstrous face towards you. When it is very injured, the runes glow and crack, and the evil escapes. It fills the room with greyish-black smoke, making it harder to breathe, and sends shadowy illusions of those you once knew to attack; whispering terrible lies at you the whole time, seeking to drown your desire to fight.
Yalanor yells over the fight that the darkness cannot yet escape the room, as there is a second barrier in place. He urges you to defeat it quickly!
The monstrous face you saw in the darkness when it was trapped attacks from the smoke, biting and slashing with terrible teeth and terrible claws. Once defeated, the thing roars in fury, before dissipating as it’s roars grow fainter until they disappear altogether.
Once the evil is gone, Yalanor staggers backwards and steadies himself on a table, thanking you greatly. Near him, two giant double doors made of beaten silver–somehow large enough for a dragon to walk through, despite the small size of the room–appear from thin air and open. Beyond them is a realm of vast light, with the snow-covered peaks of a mountain and clear blue skies overhead. Within it, you can hear distant roars, and the shadow of a flying dragon passes over the snow on the other side. You can also glimpse a glint of silver on a distant peak far away.
Yalanor looks inside it with longing, then he sighs. He thanks you for your aid, and says it was a pleasure to meet one of his descendants. Now he can finally rest, because the fragment of evil he contained here for so long has finally been destroyed. He says you may take whichever of his belongings you desire, with his blessing. Then he turns and walks through the giant doorway.
As he crosses over, on the other side you see him entering that realm as a giant, silver dragon. He opens his wings and leaps up into the skies, sending a blast of snow through into the room with you. Then the doors close, leaving the room quiet and filled with fresh powdery snow that’s very real.
When you leave The Void, the weird shadows are gone and the ship sails sluggishly due to being laden with a veritable library of books and strange artifacts. As you get back to the city you met Anniel in, he pays you very well, shaking your hand for a long time and thanking you profusely for making his life’s work mean something.
The city is in a stir for the research he’s done, which he now has proof of, and he is awarded several medals from the mayor. He invites you along for the ceremony, where you are cordially thanked and rewarded, too. After that, he finds an esteemed place in the city’s intelligentsia, and you gain a highly positive reputation among them should they need mercenaries for their own projects in future.
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