Behold the wonder of Bronzalia, a city of wealth and splendor. Even the massive Pit, that would break lesser cities apart, cannot deny her beauty. What a great place to live, ruled by the wise king Niavon.
But something is amiss in the royal palace. After the failed invasion to Siluria, the king became obsessed with defeating his enemy, no matter the cost. Strange rumours have started to circulate, omens and sightings of events unnatural have been reported… what is the cause of this madness?
Friendly warning: this plot features a large-scale conflict with multiple factions. The main problem is to find out what the factions want, and that there is indeed a serious danger to the City; after that should the situation clear up. It is easy to enlarge the plot by adding more details to the various factions (and we even tried to do so before giving up to insanity); it can be also simplified to a degree. Choose your own level of details if you use this plot.
If you want to (or become lost), proceed to the Summary of the Factions.
Entering the plot
The easiest way for heroes to be involved is being friends with the king, or more precisely long-time employees - they could be asked by an advisor or start to investigate on their own. If they are less trusted, they could be sent as bodyguards for an unspecified dignitary visiting The Pit and witness strange events. Being hired by king’s advisors, or someone else is both very possible (with varying degrees of honesty about what is exactly wanted). Lastly, they could have received a vision, information that tipped them off, or happened upon some of the unnatural events surrounding this story.
The king’s advisor will have a hard time speaking about his king’s behavior even if he hired them himself. Any incorrect remark could be easily interpreted as treason. He will stress that this is very unnatural for his king, and point out the many unusual events surrounding his… condition. He will even mention a prophecy, that led to it all.
Doing the research
Those with a glib tongue, and a friendly ear may learn of the seer, and other strange creatures of the Pit. They will learn of "those, who gleam in the dark", a phrase used by scholars as drunken homeless men; some powerful creatures, that anyone with a shred of sense left avoids. No one has seen them doing anything evil - actually, very few have seen them at all. It is only certain that danger surrounds them.
The heroes will have to dig deep in ancient wisdom to understand the threat. The Darkness Gleamers are a group of some controversy. Many tomes speak of their great evil and dark powers, how they drive men insane, little of their evil deeds or purpose is actually known. Older sources will reveal a different picture.
Faction summary - the main groups, restated with their goals and involvement
Plot notes, side adventures, foreshadowing, rumors
The End (and aftermath)
Additional Ideas (14)
Wiser characters, once they start encountering prophecies, powerful spirits, talks about inheritance and so on, may want to delve into the records of passed generations, if something of this did not happen before.
And truly, with patience they will find legends of spirits, and their rampaging in the past, interspersed with mentions of the Darkness Gleamers and contradictory myths. In addition come hints about the sensitive location this city is placed on... and that it is not here by accident! This is a weaker place between realities, blahblahblah...
Their whole architecture is designed as a giant ward against evil spirits (all spirits, actually) - a fact that is of course forgotten today.
Except for the Pit with its chaotic 'architecture'. Spirits are more free to act there, and it is here where there presence will be felt the most.
Bronzalia, the city of Bronze, or as it is euphemistically called sometimes, the Pits Cradle, is the favorite demesne of those architects, metalworkers and sculptors, who deem the splendid urban sprawl the very height of engineering and art, co-mingled with precise cohesion into an impressive unity. The countless towers, arches, and bridges, of colors chartreuse and sepia, glisten dully at the rising sun each morning, burnished, shimmering minarets and statues glimmer beneath the baking afternoon rays, and burnt-orange rooftops and onion domes, shine warmly and opulently every hour before dusk. Though quite varied in its architectural style, Bronzalia stands out for its rectangular feel and its myriad moldings. Additionally, the unusual, maze-like layout of the city defies the codes and tenets of mundane civil engineering, making Bronzalia, neighbor to lands of Siluria in the west, a truly unique city.
If only the origins of the Pit and Bronzalia's peculiar architecture was widely known, perhaps then, the inhabitants and visitors of this wondrous place, would be even more in awe of their city.
Bronzalia has a peculiar law, which often confounds visitors. No maps exist of Bronzalia, and it is an offense punishable by law to be caught sketching or possessing any map of the city proper. While the native populace has long since accepted this bizarre edict, and rarely give thought to the oddity, many outsiders whisper rumors most dire.
The offered reasons for the strange law run the gamut, being too numerous to list, yet the truth of the matter is perhaps the most unexpected of all the theories. It seems the official claim of 'preventing invasions' is sufficient to the locals.
Perhaps the most bizarre feature of Bronzalia is the Great Pit itself. This ebony void can be found in the center of the city, a gaping black maw into some unimaginable abyss, surrounded by Bronzalia's only slum, a shanty town of ramshackle buildings and tenements. The city proper encircles this hellhole, separating itself from the misery of the Pit and its environs. In fact, the closer to the outer wall one resides the more well-to-do one is considered now.
In and around the Pit, dwell the outcasts and dregs of society, the Pitters, Squatters, or simply Trogs, as Bronzalias aristocratic populace condescendingly calls them. Below, among the dark shelves of granite and crevices of shale, inside the monstrous cavity, dwell even more sinister beings, avoiding the sunlight, much the same way the citizenry of Bronzalia, avoids the nether Pit at all costs.
It was a time of war.
The war failed on the same premise as always: the two kingdoms are about matched in power. In open field victory is rarely decisive, and sieges are usually won by the defender. It would take a surprising strike to defeat the other side... both have been trying to surprise each other for the last two hundred years.
This time, Niavon's army has quietly improved their skill in crossing rivers, and his spies pointed out the best locations. Then, he moved swiftly. he went around great fortresses, that would cost him time and many lives to take, and aimed directly for the capital. Removing the head would solve the situation once and for all.
The panicked Sillurians have done the unspeakable: they allied themselves with their highest church, and declared a holy war. A lot of power went to them, yes. But the whole population was whipped into frenzy by the clerics.
When they entered the Vale of Silluria, the invaders plundered its great wealth wherever they went. Meanwhile, the capital prepared for battle, and has shown its new power: an army of little training, but four times their size. The walls manned, enough men for outside attacks, and strong reserves in small forts around the whole valley. From a victorious attacker to a trapped animal, such was the fortune of king Niavon. His army was too large to be defeated at once . The enemy chose to harass them, many skirmishes instead true battle, to bleed them from many small cuts, prevent them from resting and keep calling curses upon them by the priests.
At last could he break out. So much for victory.
The wise ruler of Torridon, who after a failed invasion to Siluria starts to be obsessed with conquering it at any cost.
Hayefus and Kroenig, two members of the Council of Seven approach the War Room of Niavon, the evermore maddening King.
- "We must act prudently, Hayefus. We may have to face the fact that he is ill, or bemagicked. This will not end well."
- "Aye, Kroenig, balance our goals with our responsibilities, is what we need to do now. A calming voice, perhaps, to reach him."
- "Nay, Trewald tried to reach him, remember? He was cleaved in two, in the very chamber we now approach. I fear nothing short of revol--"
- "Hold your tongue, Kroenig, we near his door."
- "I hear he has had... visitors recently, Hayefus. Visitors from the spirit realm."
- "Hush now, hold your tongue I say!"
...The two Councilers enter Niavon's chamber. The king has his axe, embedded in the great oaken table, puncturing the map of Siluria which was spread out along its span.
Niavon looks up as the two men enter. a wild, unnatural look is on his eye.
- "Are the coffers filling?" he asks his two advisers.
- "They are, my king", Hayefus answers in even measure.
- "Fill them faster! My plan is nearing completion now, and soon I will crush Siluria once and for all under my boot, and should its ruler live, HE will then lick the dust of his kingdom off of that boot!" The King was becoming progressively louder. The two advisers, merely listened, and nodded imperceptibly at one another.
- "The coffers must be filled! And all traitors vanquished!" the King went on, but then drew his voice lower, "I will be taking leave for a short while. I will return with certain... answers, and then all will become clear. All enemies will be put aside like so many autumn leaves! "
- "On the morrow I will enter the trackless Pit." The King continued, not waiting for his advisers replies. When I return, Siluria will feel the brunt of the unavoidable PROPHECY!" he shouted this last phrase with great flourish, heaving his great axe from the wooden table and lifting over his head menacingly, as if daring his two counselors to disapprove of even one small thing... for their part, Hayefus and Kroenig stood silent vigil, only briefly glancing at each other in silent horror.
The King was Mad! Long live the King.
(explain the deep background stuff, and introduce the old players - then refer to their scrolls)
The birth of the Darkness Gleamers:
Ages ago, the spirits of the dead would not accepted their existence, and often returned among the living, sometimes helping them, but often troubling them and causing mischief. Some became angry ghosts, that would lash out at mortals using their new powers, others possessed their bodies, or made themselves reborn, causing untold chaos and suffering.
In such a world has died Zeelzoon, a hero of old, who, blessed by the gods with longevity, surviving terrible wars of legends. But in his death he found little of the deserved peace, for the world of spirits was a wild place of constant conflict, eager to organize raiding parties into the mortal realm.
In deep love with the world of the living, he understood the peril the dead brought to them. And so he gathered men and women of great wisdom and power, to protect the world from the spirits, and the spirits from themselves. They were to be the guardians on the borders, to weave firmly barriers that would separate the worlds, and help stray souls to find their place. On the other side would be their living counterparts, who they could share a body with, and the power to affect both worlds.
Many were the battles they fought, and many spirits they returned to their proper place. Those Who Gleam in the Darkness, as these heores were then called, would even strip the spiritual powers from some mortals that would not listen. Sadly, many of those mortals turned mad from the loss.
The First Breach
In year 3319, at the height of Zeelzoons ascendancy, the "Barrier of Infinite Refusal" was once greatly tested and shaken, as the spirits marshaled their forces, and smashed through the impregnable, arcane wall, seeking to thwart and ultimately slay the Gleamers, who kept the spirits locked in their own domain.
During the horrific battle which ensued, a great earthquake ravaged the unsuspecting city of Bronzalia, the earth opened up, inhaling its surroundings and many of the city's inhabitants as well, while the twin-battling forces, the Spirits and the Gleamers plummeted into the newly created crater, entwined in their eternal struggle.
The city folk, not knowing exactly what had transpired eventually recovered, rebuilt their homes around the Pit, even resourcefully used the fissure to dispose of its accumulating civil waste and garbage. As the years flew by, what little was known of the mysterious catastrophe was forgotten.
But the Gleamers did not perish during the battle, and even managed to fight back the phantoms and repelled them back to their shadowy world. Many survived, including their King, Zeelzoon, but due to a twist of unfortunate fate, the Gleamers, by now corrupted, began to blame their King for the near destruction of the Barrier of Infinite Refusal, since the debacle took place on Zeelzoons watch.
The near-mad Gleamers did not even take into account, that it was Zeelzoon himself, who re-erected the Great Barrier, strengthening the bonds for another four centuries, during the infernal struggle. Instead the bitter Gleamers, having lost much of their power, in an effort to merely survive the Second War (the First War occurred when the Gleamers originally erected the Barrier, instilling order, between the affairs of the Living and the Dead), banished Zeelzoon, stripping him of much of his own abilities, nearly stripping him of his sanity in the process, and cast him forth into the land of the Living permanently.
Listless, nearly powerless, and bitter, Zeelzoon crawled slowly upwards from the bottomless Pit, and settled not in the lands above, but in the very crevices and tunnels of the massive crater, becoming one and the same with the Pitters and Squatters, an empty shell of his former self, a spirit in form, a man in heart, a near mad being now entirely.
Ages ago, the land that would later grow into Bronzalia served as a nexus, a unique area where the boundaries between the land of the living and the spirit realms lay bare and weak, like a tattered spider web, a dam struggling against the force of a mighty river. Much truck was conducted between the shadowy dominion of the restless and fleshless and the mortal kingdoms, but that was many moons ago, when the world was young and the barriers between the living and the dead slack and permeable.
Into this world, once strode the Gleamers, heroes of a bygone era, the Guardians of the spirit world, self-proclaimed Monitors of inter-realm comings and goings. It was the Gleamers that originally erected the woven tapestries of energy that separated the two worlds. And it was the Gleamers, who were once known as humanity's hope, the Watchers of the Way, the Architects of the Barrier of Infinite Refusal, which kept the throngs of spirits at bay, preventing the phantoms, specters, and ghosts from overwhelming the masses with their infernal and untiring assaults on the Living World. Today it is called The Seal.
Eventually, they withdrew their influence from Living, only making sure they would uphold the Seal on their side. This is the reason for the mysterious laws and architecture of Bronzalia - the whole city is an elaborate symbol of power, a protective spell powered by its inhabitants.
Only once in history has it been seriously tested: during an attack from the other side, The Pit appeared, and badly weakened the Seal. The reconstruction efforts of the current king do not help at all.
Once mortals of noble and tenable purpose, the Gleamers were the saviors of their age. Erecting the Barriers of Infinite Refusal (now called "The Seal"), the cabal members were the guardians of the gates, so to speak, having as they did, the power over the waxing and waning strength of the barrier, and thus controlling the travel between worlds, wielding undeniable supremacy over the domains of the Unliving.
They were able to strip the spiritual abilities of mortals, who meddled too deeply in their affairs. From the ravings of the madmen who stayed behind, comes their first recorded name as a group: "Those Who Gleam In The Darkness". They were the masters of two worlds, determining, who can have contact with the other side, who belongs where, who deserves what fate. They were the heroes, who fought evil, and were respected by others... they deserved to be respected!
Over time, as all groups are wont to evolve, the Gleamers' pride and hubris outgrew even their considerable powers, guardians became lords of their domains, forbidding or allowing passage not because it was right, but because it was in _their_ right. Conflict soon plagued the organization, and their guard turned lax.
But before that, when they still trusted each other, the Gleamers had chosen a King, one Zeelzoon, a magi and a diviner, a self-styled prophet, and the erstwhile ruler of the ever-darkening brotherhood.
Little is known about how they really look, and what powers they exactly have. For a typical description, see the ravings of a madman, there are a few grains of truth, most of it completely wrong.
The Gleamers today:
Powerful and bitter, they are still on the guard. Never would they admit there was a mistake, but the barriers are becoming thinner, and they need help, now.
Of course, there are various factions among the spirits. Some are preparing to invade the world of mortals, some are indifferent. Some would help the Gleamers, but they have become untrustworthy after Zeelzoon was deposed, and their tyranny is not forgotten.
The height of their power, and let's admit, public image, was when they had a King, they were the good guys back then. So if they had a good leader again, everything would be simpler. Of course, it has to be an easily manipulated puppet to prevent setbacks as last time.
And so have they become Niavon's supernatural advisors, urging him towards a great fate, and warning him of the many, many dangers that surround him, spies and hired assassins, all targeting him. Lately, he has started to reconstruct his palace for increased security (making it more vulnerable against spirits, so the Gleamers can visit him regularly).
Once he was ready, they would put him in a position to die, and become their king. Should the war go well, some of his more skilled subjects may be added to the cause.
Their plans changed, when they learned of Zeelzoon's prophecy. They need the king to die in a specific time, during the ritual to renew the Seal.
One of the king's advisors has on occasion visited the Pit, and consulted the mad diviner. The last time, he asked about the king and his invasion, and received the Prophecy. He remembered the cryptic piece later, when the invasion was lost, and rumors of evil spirits started to circulate, and alerted his king.
Of course, Niavon wasted no time, and entered The Pit in disguise. The diviner was nowhere to be found, but instead he was found by a Gleamer, who repeated the whole prophecy (barely remembered by his advisor who immediately escaped anyway), and assured him of his future success, if he is careful, and goes for it with all he has.
A bit strange, but this was more to Niavon's liking, and unwittingly, he accepted the strange creatures guidance. His abnormality started from this moment on.
The advisor prefers to stay silent about the whole incident, and will need some persuasion once people start inquiring about the causes of kings, uhhhm... imbalance. He will interpret his cowardice as accidental separation, and stress the fact Niavon went to see a mad diviner.
So one of the first thing investigating PCs with a brain would do, is to find that diviner. Off to the Pit...
Two figures walk the depths of the Pit. Wrapped in old rags, hints of a better cloth betray their standing:
- "Tell me, wise Hayefus, how will we ever find this man? And even if we do, these wretched people look all the same!"
- "Patience, Kroenig, I believe we are close now. It is easy to recognize him, once you... aye, this is the place."
A small fire blinks here, shedding spare light on the scene. A man is crouched in front of his cards, whispering something, ignoring the newcomers. He seems alone, then another figure is revealed in the corner, somebody wrapped in rags, not moving at all. Hayefus waited for a moment.
- "We came to ask about the future." The old man paused and started packing his cards, fated to never finish his own game.
- "Is he the one to tell us what happens? It would seem the man can't remember his name." said Koenig. The man straightened up.
- "The past determines the future, sometimes so much, that it is better to forget it. Now sit. The past is upon you, advisor."
Koenig was sitting, before he knew. The blue, commanding eyes of steel, were covered by shaggy hair again. The homeless prophet crouched and looked broken again, as if he already died and was now forced to repeat his life till he falls apart. The deck was prepared.
- "You go first."
The king's history is bound to the Gleamers, this is his current incarnation. Suffice to say, that they have cursed him, unable to cross the borders between the worlds, where he is most powerful. Instead he is trapped here, unable to die, in an old body that can barely move. Zeelzoon is well aware he doesn't belong into this world. He won't leave the Pit out of a sense of duty (and probably, shame).
He is an exotic kind of undead(or merely dead?), material, not decomposing further. He can pass for a miserable, but living creature, at least if no one looks closer. His bodyguard may be another matter. Confused as he is, he really doesn't like the Gleamers, though he will support them once he understands what is going on.
Zeelzoon can see, he could always see into the future. His life made him even more perceptive. Now, fallen, there seems to be a cloud on his mind. He can see everything... except for one thing. That crucial piece of history is approaching and he cannot see it.
Optional hurdle: he does not remember his prophecies, or at least does not talk about them, once uttered.
This deck of cards is marked by fate indeed. If you play it as it is supposed to - betting the Deck itself - the winner receives the Deck and rewards or punishments according to their winning hand. If you lose, nothing bad happens to you, but nothing good either.
Zeelzoon, the mad diviner, uses the cards for fun and divination, all of his customers have to play it. Note that he doesn't use it as intended - he will _never_ put the Deck into the pot. He can persuaded to play for fun, but he always plays to lose, so there is a winner, and this brief almost-touch with fate is enough for him to reveal something of their future. If he plays this game with people of importance, he may create genuine prophecies of great impact, as was the last one.
Note that if Zeelzoon leaves at the end of the plot, the Deck will stay behind. He might even give it to the characters as a gift.
A large figure, covered in cloth from head to toe, he never speaks. If someone were to tear them all off, a massive skeleton would be found, thickly plated as a bone golem. Yet it is a faithful servant, more than capable of protecting his master. It seems he is quite intelligent, too. (Their exact relation is a bit unclear - is he a bodyguard or a guard?)
Bonespinner will register as an undead creature, but will behave as the trusted bodyguard of Zeelzoon. He seems comfortable playing games of cards, where fate is not influenced (without money or prophecies). What exactly he is, will stay a secret while all the other mysteries are revealed.
- "But, my King, it is just a dirty lowlife, a madman!"
- "Then why are you seeing him so often?"
- "Well... he is... mostly right, when you can understand what he says."
"Bitter, bitter, bitter, old.
Two mad kings to save the world.
One war lost, the other won.
Evil spirits will be gone.
The Bronze King shall greet his fate.
Worthy hero, not as bait.
Inheritance must not be lost.
Before the End he shall play host."
(If more intrigue is desired here, the last line may have actually been "Wants he to play the Wicked Host." or other but was changed by the manipulative Gleamers. The exact wording could be learned from either the advisor, or Bonespinner - and both would need some help (spell/herbs/whatever) to remember it precisely.)
Niavon, the wise king of Torridon, who after a failed invasion to Siluria starts to be obsessed with conquering it at any cost, and turns more and more psychotic.
Zeelzoon, the "Evil King" of the legends, a hero that founded the Darkness Gleamers as they are known today, and with them raised the barriers that limited the traffic between the worlds of mortals and spirits, thus prevented many great problems. Later he was cast down, and cursed to stay among the living as a helpless, deranged wreck. He turned to playing cards and a little divination on the side.
Darkness Gleamers, the guardians on the border between This Side and The Other Side. Originally heroes, they became so accustomed to their positions of power and honor, that they refused to step down at the right moment. They can be completely interchangeable NPCs for the purposes of this story. If desired, they could avoid revealing their names and identities for supernatural purposes (so that they are harder to target by their enemies).
Ages later, they are still doing their job, but need some real support now. They are perfectly willing to save the day, well, especially if they get everything they had before; and they not at all picky when it comes to choosing the means. Fallen heroes you might say.
The PCs of course, who will have to sort out the mess, prevent (or win) a war, and aid the Gleamers in their extralarge ritual that will reinstall the firewall, err, I mean reinstate the barriers between the worlds.
- a group of people to oppose the Gleamers, descendants of their first opponents from ages ago. They want to prevent another rise of power of those tyrants.
- Bonespinner, the personal bodyguard of Zeelzoon
- an advisor or two, to support Niavon and provide a link to court intrigue
- both kingdoms at war can provide plenty of characters to flesh out, or mix up any situation that seems too uncomplicated
- also, a wizardly/spiritistic character(s) may be of use, especially if the PCs don't fit the profile. (Note: such characters in employ of the king would be likely given many duties, sent away for training for the war and the like - as advised by the Gleamers, to prevent them from meddling.)
- plus any number of spirits, good or not so good can appear, and give the whole situation a 'ticking clock' feeling if desired; may provide some ancient knowledge, or a hint at the complex spirit politics.
Everything revolves around the Seal (and the PCs).
Darkness Gleamers (major players)
- goal: renew the Seal at all cost
- goal: restore their power (which in the end means having king Niavon killed)
- minor role: mystical boogeymen who don't bother talking to the living much
- major role: recruit/influence the PCs to help them save the world; avoid exposing or hindering the second part of their plans
Home Team (major players)
- goal: protect the king
- goal: protect their country at any cost (once they know that it is at stake!)
- minor role: employ the PCs
- major role: the advisors, nobles, guards etc. will actively assist or hinder the PCs as desired
The Unnamed Faction (major players)
- goal: break through the Seal at any cost
- goal: weaken the Darkness Gleamers
- minor role: the threat in the background; they don't bother with the Living much
- major role: actively oppose the PCs (supernaturally or through allies); and/or let them know the Gleamers want to kill the king
Silurians (minor players)
- goal: stop the war against their country at any cost; killing the king is perfectly fine, they will receive a critical tip from the Gleamers on where and when they can accomplish it
- minor role: will attempt to kill the king in the end
- major role: more combat encounters; may attempt to pump/bribe/kidnap a PC to get more information about the king
Zeelzoon (minor player)
- goal: make sure the Seal holds
- minor role: cameos for the prophecy itself and during the final ritual
- major role: will offer cryptic hints or even active aid to the PCs
Niavon (minor player)
- goal: do everything for his country; right now is under the thrall of the Gleamers; obsessed with preparations for war
- minor role: completely dominated character, will play the insane part, cameo in the ritual
- major role: is not completely under control; can be freed from it or influenced
Other spirits: (minor players, optional)
- goal: keep the Seal in force
- goal: prevent the Darkness Gleamers from getting out of control
- minor role: none
- major role: can offer advice, or unexpected aid to the PCs, or an NPC ally
...and if this is not enough, even more players can be added :D
- The PCs could have Bronzalia as their home base; previous work for the Home Team or the king himself is a strong bonus.
- The conflict with Siluria is public knowledge and very recent, it might have been a part of the PCs' campaign.
- Spirits (or call them ghosts if you want) are very important here. An adventure with a wayward spirit is certainly fine, a PC with fitting powers even more.
- Hints at 'those who gleam in the darkness' can be spread long before.
- A mad prophet living in the Pit can be a fine rumor, or could be met by the PCs beforehand.
- Anything in connection with the Pit; the squatters in the Pit may have fearsome legends of the Gleamers, who are frequently around evil spirits. There may be also monsters to slay and assorted bad guys to contend with.
- at any point, if the heroes are getting somewhere, or the pacing requires it, a little combat may be inserted on account of a side that feels threatened. There is a sufficient amount of sides in the conflict. :)
- the ritual can require any number of widgets to work, ranging from ancient royal insignia owned by other kings up to any number grave goods
- to aid with the ritual - or learn more about the problem in the first place - more support is needed. Initiate the 'wise man on the mountain' routine.
Duality: two worlds, two kings, the Gleamers vs. the characters, and so on. Also, nothing can happen without the other side - the Gleamers can't advance their plot without a foothold among the mortals; conversely, the PCs may not be able to effectively oppose the Gleamers without assistance of other spirits.
Broken continuity: problems arise because Bronzalia has forgotten about its traditions, and Gleamers have ruined their own organization.
Fallen leaders: see how many of them you can find here.
There shalt be a ritual.
Only a spectacular display of arcane powers can make the barriers strong again. A very special moment may be required for the ritual (insert a solstice or another suitable date). Add howling evil spirits as desired.
As chance has it, a spirit of some opposing faction will tip off Silurian agents, that the king will be in The Pit with little protection at a certain time. They will of course attack at the worst moment. Unless the characters are extraordinarily careful, the king will be badly wounded.
And then will the ritual succeed, with one king, Zeelzoon, being dead but still among the living, and the other king, Niavon, living but dieing. Follows some wizardly action from either side and *Poof!*, 2 billion $ for special effects are gone. :)
The good ending: king Niavon survives, and the ritual works, the Gleamers have to take Zeelzoon back as their king; and the world is a better place. Woohoo! (But of course, some spirits may have escaped anyway, and the Gleamers - as well as the Unnamed Faction - may hold a little grudge against the PCs.)
Not so good ending: king Niavon dies, and the ritual works, the Gleamers make king Niavon their easily-controlled leader; that may backfire one day, but the mortals can rejoice for now. The PCs will have to explain. A lot.
BAD ending: the ritual fails... and spirits can travel freely again. Very bad news for anyone wanting to live there. This could weaken the kingdom enough to destroy it. The PCs could be hunted and executed if their role is revealed.
And the plot may not end here.