The tired adventurers continued through the seemingly endless mountain passes, coming to a fork deccorated with a bird on one side and a dog on the other. They chose the bird.
*The Trial of the Phoenix: A fledgling phoenix sat in the middle of the room. It did not seem to understand the words of the party until Arn greeted it in Dwarven. The phoenix asked Arn how it could help him, and Arn explained that the party needed to pass the trial. The phoenix’s eyes turned red as it shouted, “Then burn!” and filled the room with fire. The party ran blindly across the room, finding a door and throwing themselves through it to escape the flames. They found themselves in a hallway that took them back to the Trial of the Lion. They made their way through previously vanquished trials with no interference, and took the alternate fork.
*The Trial of the Dog (Scorpion): An image of a dog informed the party that one of them would become his. As Shivers stepped forward to attack the dog, he was frozen by bonds of force and began taking damage. Falchion crossed the room to attack the dog, which was unharmed by her blade. Shivers took less damage with one of his friends further from him, and so the party reluctantly abandoned him and crossed the room to the door. Once he was alone, Shivers was freed, and the party moved on.
*The Trial of the Pig: A pig statue in the room told the party they must compensate it for passage. After some negotiation, the party gave the pig all of their coins and the creature opened the door.
As the adventurers trekked up the last stretch of tunnel, sunlight visible at the end of the shaft, a pair of equine figures blacked the archway. An adult kirin and an inky nightmare greeted the party. They were the parents of the kirin child locked within the mountain, and they were grateful for the kindness shown to the child by Arn. They oftered what assistance they could: The nightmare granted the party members each the benefits of an extended rest by delivering them their worst nightmares. Only minutes later, each adventurer was refreshed, but shaken. The equine pair entreated the party to do what they could to free the spirit of the mountain from the aesetic, and the party promised to try.
Out in the sunlight, the party found themselves on a ledge below the rocky summit of the mountain. They climbed up to the icy peak and found The Aesetic, alone, unafraid. Staked to the highest spire of the mountain was the writhing corpse of Sword, trying in vain to free itself and join the army of its god.
Enraged, Falchion charged the monk leader across the ice-covered summit, Shivers and Ro-Kang close behind her. Arn began to scale the tower of stone to give what aid he could to Sword’s remains.
While Arn worked to free the champion of death, the rest of the party focused on Jophur, who leaped about, slowing the party, making it difficult for them to catch him. After a time, he called up man-sized hands of stone from the surface of the mountain to aid him, grabbing the adventurers and keepign them from him.
Arn arrived at the spire’s peak and wrenched the post from the chest of Sword, freeing the dead soldier. It stripped its gear from its bones—useless to it in unlife—and asked Arn how it could serve: Should it fight with them, free them from bonds, or heal them? Arn chose freedom, and all the adventurers suddenly were freed from and temporarily immune to Jophur’s movement impairments. The corpse of Sword then left the mountain top to join the army of his god. Arn leapt from the tower to join his friends.
Jophur, enraged, lashed out against the mountain, causing a huge section of it to break free and collapse. Luckily, none of the adventurers were caught on the falling rocks. Jophur made the mountain-thing protect him, becoming invulnerable until the party destroyed each of the huge stone hands protruding from the mountain.
Eventually, they party brought Jophur down, and Shivers caught his last words on one of the black scrolls: “You cannot find the Never-Was-Prince. No Fate – No Destiny – No gods – Only Free Will.”
Jophur, the Filth-Gorger, once-leader of the Cult of Indulgance, slumped to the ground.
Freed, the spirit of the mountain rumbled its gratitude to the party. The kirin mother and her nightmare mate reappeared, also grateful, and ferried the party down from the mountain peak after Falchion gathered the belongings of her fallen hero.
Sword’s belongings were distributed among the party, each member receiving something powerful and useful.
Back at Three Walls, Malachai gave the party the leads he had on which immortal the party would pursue next. The group chose The Berzerker, and Malachai began to gather information on him.