Transcript of Telepathic Field Report from Ministry Operative “Arvind”
Operative “Alia” and I arrived on scene via wind-walk magic with Elenwe Two-Toes, Acolyte Gopa, and 8 Enlightened Knights where we rendezvoused with the four remaining members of Professor Pandava's team. The professor himself was bound, injured, and unconscious while Initiate Xedris “Somabhakta” was nowhere to be seen. Much to our relief there was no occupying force of Ayodhyan military. It would seem that the Viridian Hive of the Kreen fought off an expeditionary force buying us some time. Acolyte Saatvik was quick to fill us in on events since Elenwe had departed.
After some time spent interrogating the scholars brought into the desert from Ayodhya, the Professor and his team opted to enter the buried wreckage of the Titan of the Sun to ascertain if any systems or artifacts were salvageable. They encountered resistance. An ancient, undead Suryan priestess occupied the heart of the immense and ruined machine. She still held some control over the active power systems, more specifically the Heart of the Titan, a marvel of thaumaturgical craft that, it appears, the Eternal Solar Emperor himself is most invested in recovering.
The Professor and his team succeeded in destroying the undead guardian and set to examining the artifact when suddenly an apparition of Rama I, Emperor of Ayodhya, manifested. He thanked Professor Pandava for being an unwitting fool for all these years. When asked by a shocked Professor Pandava why he would bother orchestrating Raj Sinhala's betrayal if it was entirely unnecessary, the Emperor reportedly said that it "amused" him to break the Professor's heart. The conversation as reported to me implies depths of interpersonal relationship previously unknown. Sadly, the conversation was cut short as Rama I "possessed" the Professor bodily. His first significant act was to turn to Xedris, disdainfully invoking his family name of "Thrannis", and invoke extravagant blood magic to pull Xedris bodily into Surya’s Prison using, apparently, thorned chains made of Xedris's own blood.
Although they had no chance of surviving a battle with a wizard as powerful as Rama I, the remaining four members of the team bravely sought to prevent him from successfully claiming the Heart of the Titan. Perhaps it was the idea of his expedition companions all standing on the cusp of death, or perhaps it was the risk that Vinihata would succeed in smashing the heart before it could be studied, but some part of Professor Pandava's will struggled to the surface. In his moments of lucidity, he begged his team to kill him, claiming that Rama I had, for an unknown number of years, been walking the streets of Videha in the Professor's body, assuming control when he believed he slept. The Professor rightly concluded he was an ongoing threat and needed to die.
Saatvik prayed to Sarasvati for insight, and opted instead to "kill" the Professor just long enough to drive out the Emperor before using his magic to stabilize him in an unconscious state. Saatvik claims the Professor still holds knowledge and secrets of value to the Goddess. Alia opines that the means by which Rama was able to possess the Professor would be invaluable intelligence for our efforts. Elenwe suggested a location previously discovered by the Professor's expedition, a place called the "Archive", where the Professor might be safely stored pending further investigation. I transported Elenwe, the unconscious Professor, his … unusual familiar, and Panja to the location of this Archive. You'll be fascinated to know that the "Archivist" is a member of a particularly rare, dangerous, and powerful Monster species known colloquially as a "medusa". Her "Archive" consists of ancient High Elves turned to stone. She turned the Professor into a statue for safekeeping. We spent the night in her Archive and departed the next day.
While we were gone, Alia worked with Saatvik and the others on attuning the Orb of the Titan reclaimed from the undead priestess and powering down the Heart so it could be safely removed. This process was still ongoing when I gathered the remaining four expedition members and gave them your proposal. I did not ask them to commit immediately, suggesting that first we must rescue Xedris from Surya's Prison. For all its terrible danger, the suggestion seemed to relieve them. Their commitment to their companion, who is by all accounts a somewhat stiff and unlikeable man, speaks strongly of the bond they have forged here in the desert, and confirms our decision to recruit them.
I prepared magic to protect them from the heat of Surya's Prison while Alia prepared to open the portal that would take us there. She used journals found in Xedris's effects as a focus to find him in the endless heat and chains and the five of us made a raid into hell.
We encountered Xedris's captor who I theorize was a Thrannis ancestor from the war, cast with his god into this place. The ties of blood between this ancestor and Xedris was what permitted the unfortunate wizard to be dragged bodily into this realm by chains of his own blood. We fought his captor and another, apparently incidental demon, and ultimately freed Xedris from his chains, dragging him back through the portal to the dig site.
Once Xedris has sufficiently recovered from his ordeal, I intend to bring the five of them back to Videha. They deserve accolades for their part in the sundry discoveries made, but I also want to debrief them in a more secure location and work out terms of service to the Ministry should they choose to join our efforts. My intention is to send them back into the desert to investigate the possible return of the Cult of the Risen Son. If there's an undead army massing out there we need to know about it. It seems that Tavi Agarwal is in possession of an item that permits the cult to communicate through dreams, and although dangerous, I thought it best left in their hands in case they could turn it to some positive use.
When next we speak it should be in person. I look forward to working with these five individuals again soon.