Gift of Eomar

Luminus Nocturne (Part I)
Night of Lights

Finally reunited with Akasha, the heroes depart Boros on Callehad with a heading for Khalsbrad, intent on making use of the tools of the arcane within the Tower of Solastarum to find the whereabouts of the elven exile.

Several days of travel bring them deep into the northern reaches, the cold weather becoming more and more apparent as they draw nearer to Khalsbrad. The companions finally reach the city in the evening, docking on the outer rim of the city walls and venturing forth. Captain Castien takes note of a slight peculiarity. In the past he found a certain warmth among intellectual populace lingering among the gothic structures; students debating around huge stone hearths and dazzling exhibitions of practical magics for crowds of onlookers to appreciate. Now the streets seem riddled by seedy fellows with grim visages.

Suddenly there are several bursts that ring out through the city. Looking up at the Tower in the distance, they see that the blasts are originating from one of the upper parapets of Solastarum, illuminating the night sky with explosions. People begin creeping from households and taverns to witness and discuss with uncertain faces these ominous portents.

After a minute or so the lights subside, leaving the onlookers to their grim thoughts. The sense of uneasiness grows with every moment. Hadn’t the Tower been quiet for months now? What was Madrygos up to? The tension seems to spur the companions to action; the begin move quickly through the crowd, eager to close the distance to the Tower.

Then came the awful grinding noise, like huge machinery all around them. The companions were at a full run at this point, Castien himself leaping forward in great bounds. They found their progress halted abruptly by thick metal sheets closing in an aperture in front of them, closing off a gate. About twenty paces to their rear a similar gate was closing, cutting them off from Castien and trapping them in this passageway.

There was a loud shattering as pieces of glass fell from above; something rather large had crashed through an upper window of the building. Panicked shrieks could be heard from within. A stunned merchant staggering near Sayer was plucked bodily by another creature, taken right off the street and carried into the night sky.

A few gruff looking veterans began peeling the sewer cover from one of the ground vents and escaped below. Flames exploded another window nearby, the heat could be felt billowing forth from within. Thoroughly stunned by the scene, the companions follow the veterans into the sewers. Another creature attempts to abscond with Ogg but finds his resistance more than capable to deflect the attacks. With one final look at the street above, Ogg pulls the cover closed and the companions flee into the sewers.

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The Sideshow

The companions poke around a few tents, well used but bereft of occupants. They also try their hand at games of luck and skill. Eventually they come upon a large, rather derelict looking house.

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Inside they find keepsakes and heirlooms of all kinds. Pressing in towards the inner rooms, they notice a strange substance seems to convert many of the treasures. Like thick magenta tendrils, they seem to emanate from a parlor ahead.

Inside they come upon the horrific visage of a winged creature cradling the husk of some poor should in its arms. The air within is dense with the pinkish hue that seems to cover everything. Next to the creature sits Akasha Delithrang, who turns eyes completely blackened towards her former companions.

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There is a scuffle as the broken husk moves to engage the trespassers; Akasha herself binds some of the attackers into stasis. The winged creature takes a step and slides into another plane.

Amid the chaos the an elven girl approaches On’ogg from behind, urging him and his friends to take Akasha far away from this place. The next moment she is gone. The husk slumps to the ground and Akasha returns to normal.

As they move to escape, they are confronted by a mob of vicious sideshow creatures led by a macabre Ringleader and dozens of carnies.

~

The heroes are confronted by Rowan Mauldenthorn, recognized by Akasha as the ringleader. Accompanied by strange and terrible members of the sideshow act and a host of carnies, Rowan engages the heroes, attempting to steal back Akasha.

Rowan strikes out with dark magic and throws his forces at the group. He is eventually defeated, though the victory came at some cost. Feeling somewhat depleted, Akasha opens up a portal into a cottage of relative safety. They set watch and recover their strength. Late in the watch, Akasha notices that the corpses of the fallen from the hours before have been removed. Investigating further, they notice the smoke of fire deeper in the trees.

The group investigate an abandoned campsite, finding the charred remains of the carnies. Deep ruts have been carved into the mud; a wagon of some sort had been wheeled out of the area. They pursue, following the tracks. Akasha summons a badger.

For almost a full day they continue their trek, daring not to venture further off the path. Hours pass until they finally see signs of their query. They approach the site, a large wooden carriage with a cozy fire burning outside sit idle on the side of the road. They enter the carriage and find Vostok Ivanovich himself within, sitting in a large, ornate chair. His voice billows out, tinny and disconnected. It seems to emanate from his general direction rather than his corporal form.

He attempts to strike a bargain, acknowledging that his power has been depleted. Piles of gold and powerful trinkets, for the soul of Akasha. He covets the young elf and is eager to add her again to his menagerie. The heroes decline outright. Suddenly the walls fall away and the group find themselves outside again.

Figures begin stalking out of the woods surrounding the camp, wooden marionettes serving as macabre parodies of man. Vostok himself grows in size, his limp figure lifted out of the chair as if by strings tethered to some giant hand. Dark magics transform the marionette into a large, horrific face with jagged rows of teeth. Several long, disjointed limbs stretch from the circling black void below the giant face. A portal swirls into for from his rear and three more marionettes run forth.

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Each wears a unique mask; one of crimson flame, one of noxious violet and one of frantic splays of emerald. Spidery words spew forth from Vostok’s maw, the incantations of magic. One of the grossly elongated limbs pluck the marionette with the flaming mask and drops it into the maw. The molten mask materializes on Vostok and the horde of marionettes now engaging with the heroes begin blasting forth gouts of flame.

After a time, the mask breaks and falls away. He then plucks another of the masked marionettes from the crowd, consuming it as well. The dark purple mask of death now frames ‘his’ face, the crowd of underlings explode and desecrate the land when they fall in combat. There is a billowing screech of some large creature flying overhead, out of site.

Again the mask breaks and falls away; the third marionette is consumed and a green mask of hysteria covers Vostok. The horde now attempts to bring the heroes close, driving them mad with a lunatic’s gaze.

Ogg engages directly with Vostok while Sayer handles many of the mannequins. Much of the area now ablaze from the earlier torrents, the heroes are in dire straights. Elbenor casts healing spells on the group before being driven momentarily mad and flees the area. Akasha throws forth spells before being struck by several mannequins.

Suddenly a roar tears through the clearing and a massive creature lands nearby the young elf. A large creature with powerful wings and scales vibrantly colored in hues of red and purple begins wreaking destruction against the mannequins.

8dd2275a3d9608c9e162d01e4315770b.jpg The wyvern gives the heroes a slight reprieve, allowing them to focus their efforts on Vostok and they are able to land the killing blow. He billows out in fury as the void consumes him. All that is left is the large corpse of a rather tall man, strong in features but ordinary.

Bending magics to her will, Akasha speaks to the regal wyvern. He offers his gratitude for her having released him from his bonds so long ago. She asks him what he will do now and he responds that he has no plan besides flying free, which Akasha realizes is a plan in and of itself. She clasps a worn key around her neck as the wyvern takes flight and departs.

The group notice a screech as Pompoko flees from the treeline. They investigate and find Odilla hastily making runes in the ground. She opens a portal and allows the heroes to travel through the shadow realm back to the ship.

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A Note in the Night

Sayer awakens with a start, the feeling all too familiar as of late. Failing to find much company to share drink aboard the Callehad this evening he had retired early (well.. by swashbuckling standards anyways). With their purpose renewed, the elves were poor company. He resolved to get some air.

He found it quiet topside, dark. Though the deck of the Callehad certainly had it’s familiarities; the thick scent of timber and the creaking of well oiled rigging, he could never be at home here. Missing was the gentle caressing of the sea, the soft spray of her roiling waves.

Standing at the port side he scanned over Boros, the city settling into a sleep that so evaded him. With a crooked grin he conceded that the Harpy never had a view quite like this.

Noticing a light casting him in shadow from behind, Sayer turned to see who else couldn’t find sleep.

Before him stood the slight form of an elven maiden, adorned in a shining gossamer slip of robes. She was painfully beautiful, even by Aelostrian standards. Radiant white hair fell in swift layers around her delicate face. In her eyes could be found a deep sadness. She stared up at Sayer, no more than three paces from him.

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Sayer found himself frozen in place; words alluded him. The light he discerned came from no torch. It framed her, seemed to emanate from her soft, delicate skin. Before he could say a word, the young elf raised a hand, offered to him a thick fold of paper. Her eyes seemed to be pleading. Raising an eyebrow Sayer accepted the missive and just as he opened his mouth to speak there was a flash of light. A brisk wind blew in from the bay, carrying with it the salt of the ocean.

Once again he stood alone on the deck.

~

Awaking his friends, the companions open the parcel, finding therein four exclusive tickets to the Bacchanal of Oddities and Antiquities. Calling on Castien, they venture forth some way from town to a staging area, their thoughts on their absent friend Akasha Delithrang. Finding a tent with apparent magical properties, they each hold their ticket and step forth. Without a ticket for himself, Castien seems unable to continue, confirmed some time later through rigorous trial and error.

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Outfitting the Callehad

With leads from Captain Castien, the group work towards outfitting the Callehad for it’s voyage north to the Clockwork Tower of Solastarium and beyond.

They are successful in retrieving the resources from the mining claim of Gordon Stonethrow, though in doing so they found the fate of the lost miners. A particularly rich vein of the precious metals wound down into the depths of the cavern, from which a host of crystal spiders skittered forth. A timely use of ‘Rope Trick’ and some particularly fierce pyrotechnics drove back the clutch, allowing the group to mine the resources by torchlight.

With their end of the bargain complete, Gordon reinforces the hull with panels of Skystone.

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Avoiding an evening of drinking with the others, On’ogg wanders into the tinkershop of Wilhelm von Keurig where he is tasked with retrieving a wrongly delivered package from Wilhelm’s chief adversary, Conroy Leipshneitz. It seems that instead of sending Conroy a celebratory victory cake, he sent his former intellectual colleague the complete research notes meant for the offices of the ‘Scientific League of Thinkers’.

Wilhelm offhandedly sends Ogg into the recent past to rectify the issue, where he eats a large lemon cake in a nearby cafe. Noticing the small figure of Wilhelm delivering the package in the dark of night, Ogg confronts him only to find time/space fold in on itself. With another try, he simply lifts the delivered package, replacing it with the intended dessert parcel.

With all as it should be, Wilhelm begins the installation of his prototype telescope onto the deck of the Callehad.

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Blood Sport

The companions spend the rest of their first night in the city of Boros advancing their own personal tasks. Cone morning, they convene on the deck of the Callehad, where an attendant to Castien hand delivers a message from the absent Captain.

He had gained an appointment with Edwin McGuillicutty, a decadent noble and power player in the City of Boros. Castien had suggested that Edwin had at his estate a rather thorough collection of literature on the region. Perhaps it could illuminate clues in their search for Sytheria?

The companions also note that Akasha doesn’t seem to have checked in.

They continue to the McGuillicutty Estate, where the corpulent Edwin offers access to his stores of knowledge if the companions agree to register for the Boros Tournament under the McGuillicutty banner. After stone discussion they agree.

They are immediately ushered to the arena, where they barely make late registration. They agree to contend with the blunted weapons provided and within the hour they find themselves walking up a Sandy ramp from under the structure to the colosseum floor.

Introduced as the Singing Swords for House McGuillicutty, they face off against a powerful figure known only as Helios, fighting for ‘The Concord’. Helios, a heavily armored warrior with the ability to levitate, fold the space around him and control several suspended swords that he uses both for attacking his target and protection.

After an intense battle in which Elbanor shatters a derelict sword, Helios is defeated.

While the rest of the group depart, Elbanor lingers to see what the commotion it’s on the stands. He gives medical aid to a dragonkin merchant who had caught shrapnel from the arena while spectating the bout.

The next day they find themselves pitted against a gnomish tinkerer and his steam golem. They find that not only does it pack a heavy lunch, but the gnome that shields himself inside is able to spew forth a napalm substance, turning the arena into an inferno.

They eventually crack his protective layer and the tinkerer submits. Pleased with his preliminary results, he mentions looking forward to facing off against them with his Mk.II in next year’s tourney.

Moving on to the finals, the group side to stay and watch the rest of the semi finals. They witness a lithe warrior mounted on a great worm beast facing of against some sort of ferocious canine combatant paired with a downright violent looking minotaur gladiator.

Though the lithe warrior and his pet worm fought well, they were ultimately defeated. The group found out in graphic detail that if they were fighting on the terms ood Jaa’kuu and Kazz the Minotaur, it would be a fight to the death.

With the morning came a sense of unease. One way or another, the companions make their way to the colosseum for the last time.

After a bit of pageantry, the match begins. True to form, Kazz barrels into the group, swinging his maul in dealt arcs. Jaa’kuu closes in on Thaddeus, trying to dispatch the wizard. Og and Sayer are left to keep the minotaur occupied.

Just as the beast man begins a vicious assault on the magic user, Wobblegrinder blasts him with force energy, covering him on a layer of kinetic stasis.

Sayer it’s beaten back by the minotaur and is fortuitously lifted on a raising pillar. He slips off the other side, disengaging completely. Noticing a few jeers from the crowd, he turns to address them with arms raised. A wooden goblet is hurled from the stands and he deftly catches it in his grasp, retaining almost all of the liquid within. With a flourish he gulps down the draft, bows quickly and returns to the fray.

Meanwhile On’Ogg is left to deal with the full ferocity of Kazz. The minotaur feints aside and casts down his greatmaul, pulling the paladin into his grip, battering him against the column and the ground.

Recovering his position atop the column, Sayer vaults onto the back of the preoccupied minotaur, cling on as Kazz barrels forward in an attempt to gore Ogg.

With Sayer assaulting him, Kazz’s charge is

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Season of Celebration

The group take the next two days to convalesce on the Callehad. Captain Castien informed everyone that their coarse to Aelostrian has been changed in light of the recent events. They would be waylaid in the city of Boros while awaiting further directives.

Sayer spent time making acquaintance with a few of the more raucous soldiers, learning quickly a game of chance popular to the crew.

Thadeous made company with Hopscotch alone; each were content to pour over the rare tomes in the Captain’s study in peace and quiet.

Intrigued by another man of faith, On’ogg silent much out his time speaking with Elbanor who, on the Captain’s good advice, kept mostly to his cabin.

When not answering the many questions Ogg had for him, Elbanor pondered his recent meeting with the Captain, who divulged some information on why his presence was requested on the ship.

Akasha called on the Captain frequently. For many hours they talked of Aelostrian, each feeling a longing for their homeland.

~

The morning that they were expected to arrive in Boros brought change in weather. Fierce winds whipped about the Callehad, those who weren’t already on deck soon found their way up to the main level to assess the situation. It seemed that all of the crew were present, for all the commotion.

The sun was rising in the east, glittering over the ocean. Straight ahead lay the city of Boros, just waking up to greet the morning. It seemed nuzzled against the steep incline of cliff wall stretching westward, for from that direction rolled storm clouds, barreling towards the coast.

The crew seemed to ignore the companions completely, each elf focused on their own individual task. Castien shouted orders from the helm.

Just then the vessel pitched to the port side; towards the storm! With each moment, the Callehad was pulled towards disaster.

Sayer ran to the Captain, anxious to assist if he can. The language barrier was shattered by the emergency. The two experienced sailors went about finding the problem.

Akasha took time to help Ogg, who seemed to be donning an emergency parachute around his head (and upside down).

Wobblegrinder threw a shimmering cape about his shoulders. He clung to the railing and with a tentative glimpse over the side, began judging his current position in relation to the rocky ground below. For safe measure, he produced a small tablet and quill with ink and began scribbling calculations of geometric formulae.

Seeing a crewman clinging to the outer rigging, apparently dislodged by the violent winds, Elbanor quickly climbed up the inner side and held fast the elf. Together they gained footing in the thick ropes, clinging on as the ship barreled on.

Finding the starboard rudder disengaged, Sayer and Castien made to dislodge the mechanism. After a moment’s deliberation, the Captain conceded to Sayer, securing a rope around the swashbuckler. After a deep breath Sayer swings over the side of the ship, penduluming skillfully towards the extended rudder.

He misjudged the landing slightly, falling forward on the platform and clutching to the forward edge. Maneuvering to his feet, he tries to readjust the with brute force, without satisfactory results. The rain begins falling in sheets.

Taking a moment to assess the leverage, Sayer then jumps and brings all his wait down to stomp on the rear of the rudder.

The sound of metal grinding blasts out as the rudder shifts into position, engaging directly against the force winds. The whole vessel catches against the wind sending many to the deck. Castien holds fast the rope against the shift, but is thrown himself thrown aside as Sayer slides off of the back end of the rudder. With tremendous strain, he pulls the rope right against Sayer in freefall. Several feet below the ship now, Sayer clings on to the lifeline.

Ogg seeing the Captain struggling from his back side to pull the rope back up, moves quickly to assist. Together they pull Sayer up aboard the ship, much to his appreciation.

With their coarse corrected, and only minutes from the tower docks, the Callehad transitions for landing. The large blimp above deflates slightly and the upper crown lowers to cap the main deck. Heavy ties are flung over the rails and fetched by the ground crew, securing the vessel to the cliff side dock towers.

~

The companions wait out the storm on the Callehad. Within the hour it had blown out into the open ocean. Disembarking, they walk among streets soon filled with excitement. There’s certainly a charge in the air, not least of it residuals from the lightning storm. Drops of rainwater still dripp hear and there, radiating the morning rays of sunlight as they fell.

The citizens of Boros seemed no worse from the weather. Indeed the mood was jovial and the streets soon became crowded with peoples moving about to and fro. The activity seemed somewhat robust for the early hour, even for a city of this size.

The companions inquired with a passer by and found out that Boros was celebrating the 3rd day of a week long festival honoring the summer solstice. Revelry was certainly in the air; judging from the patrons of several nearby outdoor cafes, many people had not let the stormy weather postpone their early start.

Considering how a festival of this size would attract visitors from all around, Ogg decides to attempt to contact Hergen Blaythe.

Figuring one spot as good as the next, they such into a nearby cafe. After a time they make it forward to order beverages and are greeted by a disembodied, if somewhat familiar voice accompanied by the grinding sound of something heavy being dragged on the stone work floor.

Behind the bar a bouncing Baatu clambers onto a heavy stool jauntily sliding filthy pints down the wooden surface while addressing the companions with a wide grin.

He has little answer in response to Ogg’s direct questions, but does respond to Elbanor’s request for a heavy cloak. The young cleric has little by way of gold, instead offers a trade if possible. Baatu’s eyes glimmer with cunning as he considers.

Baatu offers his very own cloak to trade for Elbanor’s crossbow; with the condition that Baatu can borrow (just for the moment) the cleric’s rather shiny holy symbol. Elbanor agrees.

In a flurry of movement, Baatu fixes the symbol into the receiver of the crossbow, sounds around and takes aim. He fires the hunk of metal across the room thumping into the back of a brawny hulk of a man.

The next moment Baatu produced a think fold of cloth and tossed it haphazardly in Elbanor’s general direction. Donning again his cap, and winking slyly at Akasha he slipped away, quickly losing himself in the crowd outside.

~

The large man bound his way across the room to the companions, returning Elbanor’s symbol. Sayer thoughtfully diffused the tension with the purchase of several beverages. Upon interaction, the guy ended up being a smithy from out of town, visiting for the festival like so many others.

He knew of Hergen as an old acquaintance, but had not seen him in quite some time. It was entirely possible, he pondered, that the bohemian dwarf might be in Boros somewhere.

The group made their way towards a large open market, host to many visiting merchants. Cutting across a quiet alley, they took notice of a particularly gaudy poster that was plastered over much of the walled surfaces.

“Ivan Ivanovich’s ”/wikis/the-bacchanal-of-oddities-and-antiquities" class=“wiki-page-link”> Bacchanal of Oddities and Antiquities" seemed to be staged nearby during the festival, offering a host of fascinating and astonishing sideshows. Akasha snatches a poster from the wall, eyes round as saucers. On a panic, she darts back into the throng of people.

Without much explanation to the strange behavior, the group press on, confident in her ability to take care of herself.

They find Hergen giving a sculpting demonstration to a rather boisterous crowd. After a hearty getting, he sees to Ogg’s request. In a days time, can fashion the accumulated pieces of armor that Ogg provides into a cohesive set.

The group then split to follow their own plans. Ogg and Elbenor find their way to a church, finding only lowly acolytes and attendants. Any noteworthy members of the faith had deities elsewhere during the festival.

Thaddeus spent time lingering in the small library adjacent to Captain Castien’s quarters on the Callehad. Sayer spent the evening getting raucously drunk at Thal’efft Bar, where he woke the next morning under a table.

~

Akasha flew through the streets, faces a blur as she passed them in her panic. Before long, she found herself thoroughly lost. Inquiring with a passerby, she begins trying to make her way towards the open air market. Perhaps there in the wide open she could feel a little safer. Seeing a couple harmless townsfolk in a nearby passageway, she ducks in to collect her thoughts. Suddenly, the townsfolk halt what they were doing and turn towards her. Waves of dread crash over her as she sees that there is a smooth, wooden flatness where their faces should be.

Several of the dummies engage, attempting to subdue. She screams for help while agilely avoids their dull grasps. The young elf blasts out a wave of flame in desperation, setting several dummies ablaze. She notices shutters from the nearby windows fling open in response to her pleas for help and moves to position herself nearer to her saviors. With a dismal sinking of her heart, Akasha watches as several more marionettes fling themselves out the window.

A heavy thud knocks against the back of her head and she falls to the ground. Through the skinny, wooden legs of the marionettes she watches yet another approach, a coil of rope thrown over it’s shoulder.

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The Flight of the Callehad

Part I

The companions take their leave from the being who calls himself Eomar. Though many questions were answered, even more took form. Moving forward on a path that seemed to guide them along, they were soon taunted by the voice of a mysterious female figure. They eventually came upon a portal, and one by one they stepped through.

scene_-_the_chase.jpg A blur of colors enveloped each of the companions as they were pulled back through from beyond, back to the a familiar reality. As their boots fell back to solid ground, they companions found themselves back in the Temple of Khar’Kuut. An indeterminable amount of time had passed, as the position of the sun had moved drastically. The anomoly could little be pondered, for the group found themselves surrounded by orderly ranks of archers, bow and arrows at the ready.

The figures seemed to be elvish in nature, their slender frames garbed in chain mail and light leathers. A tabard flowing with deep blue and embroidered with copper thread was common between each, suggesting a uniform of sorts. A particularly grim elf stood in their path, wearing a set of plate armor rarely seen among elvish warriors. At his side was a lightly robed elf with the face markings of a powerful magus.

The heavily armored elf addresses them in his native language, only Akasha and Wobblegrinder able to understand him completely. It’s his intent to place them in custody under the jurisdiction of the Legion of Aelosus, for questioning in connection to a dangerous fugitive believed to be operating in the area.

Much of the group is bewildered by the situation, the language barrier further clouding any sense. Noting the hesitation in some of the party, the magus steps forward.

In common, with a thick elven accentuation, he harks to the group, “Tread carefully …friends. If you intend to cross the path of one whose soul is so intricately woven into the realm of the arcane, I would not suggest you do it lightly.”

Unleashing a pulse of energy from his outstretched hands, the companions feel a wave of lethargy rush over them. Akasha, Thaddeus and Sayer slump into a deep, magic induced sleep. On’Ogg falls to a knee, resisting the power of the spell with all his energy. He reaches out to the closest compatriot. Feeling a heartbeat on Akasha, he breaths a sigh of relief.

Ogg turns his gaze upward to find the magus standing above him, a raised eyebrow indicating the only emotion on the elf’s face. The spellbinder raises hand once again, pouring forth another wave and Ogg’s world goes black.

Part 2

Thaddeus, Ogg and Sayer wake in adjoining cells, watched over by elvish guardsmen. Their jailers seem little interested in interacting with them.

Akasha wakes somewhere removed, in rather well kept quarters. She’s takes time to utilize the facilities; bathing and donning the clothes folded neatly on the nearby bassinet.

Nearby, a rather confused Elbanor finds himself confined to quarters, guards stationed outside his door. Puzzled, he inquires withMavos Anull, was finds little answer.

Ogg and Sauer antagonize their calories, drawing their ire as well as reinforcements. Wobble tries unsuccessfully to reason with them. The guard lieutenant arrives. A small melee ensues as the guards open the cells to subdue the prisoners.

Meanwhile Akasha is startled to make her way out onto the deck of a ship high above the clouds. They’ve been brought onto a mid-sized airship!

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Elbanor, feeling much like a prisoner in his own right, blows open his chamber door. A pair of guards, quick to react, move in and engage with their human ‘guest’. With a blast of powerful magic, he knocks then unconscious. Moving through a ship seemingly bereft of many of the crew he had witnessed in days past, he follows the sound of shouting to the lower decks.

Part 3

The companions in the cells have reached a kind of stalemate. The guards have agreed to send their appeal to the Captain, if they cooperate and return to their cells. During the interim, the companions had managed to blockade themselves inside what seemed to be a supply closest, negotiating as Sayer threatened to detonate a goblin explosive be found among his gear.

Elbanor heard some of this from outside the chamber. Resigned to action, he shattered the door frame, intent to aid what he viewed to be other oppressed passengers on the ship. The blast wreaked havoc in the confined quarters, sending guardsmen violently against the nearby walls.

With a rush of activity, not least of which Thaddeus holding fast the lot of guards, the companions seize control of the situation.

~

Thoroughly refreshed, Akasha returns to the master chambers, stumbling upon Castien Vauldra alone in his cabin.

She denies any affiliation with Sytheria; The Captain persists that all will come to light when she is questioned properly back in Aelostrian.

She eventually mentions being a defender of the being known as Eomar, which affects Castien deeply. With this strange group having known the name Eomar… the elven commander was more inclined to believe their story.

~

Below deck, the group began freeing the elven soldiers; a sign of their good intentions.

Just then, the elf who addressed then back at the Ruins of Khar’Kuut strode into the chamber, followed by a rather concerned Akasha. Quickly assessing the situation, he ordered his soldiers to stand down and attend to their comrade. One of the soldiers still lay crumbled next to the wall, his slender neck twisted awkwardly.

With this new information brought to light, Captain Castien granted them safe passage, assuming their continued cooperation.

With their newfound leave on the ship, the group followed the Captain back to the main deck. Those coming from the brigg were surprised to find the ship floating high above the ground, sailing among the clouds.

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Confrontation

The companions wake to find a quiet chill in the air after a fitful sleep, hazy images of their encounter with the Lost Sinner still fresh in their minds. The slightest boot scrape on the pavement sends echoes reverberating through the halls, and the companions stifle their movements, loathe to disturb the silence.

Creeping out from their hiding, they return to the rectory. Finding the cultists still in their sorry state, they converse on what to do with the empty shells. If they did in fact lack their soul, wasn’t it a mercy to end this suffering? Perhaps even their duty? On’ogg certainly believed so. Sayer agreed. After what he had experienced the day before when attempting to read their thoughts, he longed to end this cruel existence.

The young elf could not accept this fate, though she know not how else to proceed. With a perturbed frown across his face, Thadeous guided her up and out of the dismal Halls of Want, leaving Ogg and Sayer to complete their task alone, their faces set with grim determination.

The paladin stood over each, whispering a litany of mercy for their souls as the not-so-jovial rogue opened their throats. Their resistance was minimal. None seemed aware of what was happening until Sayer pulled their heads back, more to accept the blade. Even then, the husks only flailed their arms back impotently against his expert actions.

~

While they have a moment to themselves, Thadeous takes the opportunity to have a conversation with Hopscotch, with the help of Akasha translating. He confirms himself to be a magic user, though he doesn’t divulge where he learned his craft. He also

After a time, the footsteps of Ogg and Sayer could be heard climbing the stairs back to the antechamber, where Akasha and Thadeous were awaiting their return. Coming again level with their waiting friends, they were surprised to see the elf and the gnome gazing at them with a look of shock. Only then did each notice the splatters of blood speckling their armor.

(more incoming)

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Halls of Want

The group make their way back toward the temple only to find their trail blocked by a talkative magical gate. He converses for a bit, the group considering ways past the roadblock. Eventually they convince the gate to speak the phrase etched above the gateway (the words “Speak password and enter”, in an ancient dialect of elvish).

The group climb a long flight of steps, strangely paced out (on the longstriding side), coming to a large antechamber with several passageways stemming in different directions. npc_-_talking_gate.jpg They also take note a huge archway in the center of the room, unresponsive to interaction and out of place in the musty ruins. They check the forward hallway to find it badly in disrepair, an apparent cave in tumbling much forest in the pathway.

They descend a set of stairs into a huge chamber, dimly lit by sporadic torchlight along the buttressing columns. A giant platform centers the area, upon which is out of sight and locked away behind a series of locked gates. They skirt the side of it and make their way down a hallway breaking from the main room. They come across a barred window, from which the smell of death and decay is prominent. A small distance away they find a heavy door, stuck closed.

Hopscotch nimbly climbs through, unbarring the door. Inside, the group finds the remains of several dead cultists. Their cause of death cannot be confirmed, but it seems as if their gaunt forms have wasted away. There are signs that they had barricaded themselves within.

The group continue on, coming across a large area of cultists sitting on long benches in a sort of auditorium style seating. Og addresses them in disguise; Akasha had placed an illusion on him so that he appeared much in the form of Master Woodshaper Kristoff, of the Verdant Thicket.

The crowd is completely unresponsive. They take efforts to right themselves when knocked aside, and free themselves when grasped by the companions, but seem to be in a severe stupor. Sayer clutches the pendant around his neck and attempts to peer into the mind of one of the cultists. His gaze locks with a young woman; the darkness of her eye seems to overwhelm him, surround him. He loses his footing, tumbles into oblivion. It seems to last forever.

With a start, Sayer lands back on his two boots, shaken to his core. He finds himself once again among his companions. They decide for the moment to leave the cultists be and investigate the Halls further. They come to a long corridor lined with doorways on either side. Each door opened to a chamber, each filled with empty cots. The last room in the hallway they found to be locked; with deft hands Akasha cracked the simple mechanism. Inside they found the room occupied by prone figures on several cots. Each was dead, apparently from a knife wound in the chest. All save the last figure, who they found had died from self inflicted knife wounds. The ceremonial knife lay nearby. The corpses all shared a likeness in facial features and golden locks of hair.

The group press on, finding another hallway leading to a spire, scraping through the canopy of leaves above. Climbing to the top, they find a small, well kept bedchamber. They take a key from the table and Sayer finds a long, complicated puzzle box among the sheets of the bed. Wobblegrinder notices several books on a shelf, most of which seem to be fiction, popular books and otherwise.

They backtrack to the latticed frame surrounding the stairs that seem to circle around to the top of the raised platform. They insert the newly found key into the mechanism and watch as the gate creaks open.

The group climb the steps and find a lone figure kneeling in the center, face hidden under a mess of tangled hair. The leathers adorning the figure hung loosely in tattered scraps. A thick wooden stockade fixed his wrists together. At their approach, the solitary figure raised it’s head, revealing it’s face to be covered by a thick metallic mask, seemingly bolted around, securing it into place.

The group continued their advance, and the Lost Sinner lifted itself from the stone ground and brandished a rather vicious looking claymore. At it’s command, lengths of long chain lowered from pulleys among the concave ceiling.

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The group engaged completely, fighting back the Lost Sinner, who moved with uncanny speed and agility. As they did so, the empty shells of the cultists below poured forth, climbing the chains and shuffled into the fray, their faces devoid of any emotion as they threw themselves bodily at the heroes.

At one point the decrepit figure glares at Akasha, instilling in her a burning madness. She lunges at Ogg, who turns her blade away at the last moment. The battle reaches a fever pitch, the heroes buckling under the furious strikes by the Lost Sinner and it’s onslaught of the empty shells that seem to come with no end. They finally land a series of strikes on the form, and it crumbles to the ground, the rage that empowers it flowing freely from it’s many wounds. As it falls, the empty shells also break their attack, sitting or laying in the positions they hold.

The group, finding little to explain the macabre ordeal, fall back to the small room that held the barricaded cultists, and after clearing it as best as they could they set watch and fell into a deep, troubled sleep.

~

During his watch, Sayer quietly pulled the long puzzle box from his pack, and with only the slightest of tinkering, watched as the mechanism clicked into place. Inside he found wrapped in dark velvet a long, metallic spike. It had an intense weight to it. Pondering over the curiosity, he continued his watch.

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The Ruins of Khar'Khuut

After the confrontation with Miraak the Unyielding, who revealed himself at the barrier gate around the Ruins of Khar’Kuut, the companions turn to face their new acquaintance Raybringer.

Abominable magic tears at the young mousling, gorging his small body and enlarging his limbs to unnatural proportions. A constant stream of tendrils and vines spring forth from the underbrush, wrapping themselves around his now bulging forearms. With new found strength, Ray breaks the bonds, only to have more engulf him with uncanny speed.

With a dreadful sense of impotence, the group watch on in horror as he shrieks in an unrecognizable language. With what strength he has, Ray seems to be lunging for Thaddeus, who notices the small fabricator’s emblem etched on his staff glow with a soothing light.

The wild growth around Ray shudders as he turns on his colleagues. Thaddeus whispers the words of magic, and a binding aura shines around the hulking Ray as he’s held fast. On’Ogg and Sayer slash away at his tendrils, only to find more spring up in their absence. With a subtle flick of her wrist, Akasha probes into his mind, detecting whatever thoughts she can. She sees his viewpoint seething in rage, with a slight aura emanating from Wobblegrinder’s staff. It has a balmy warmth to it.

The shambling horror smashes it’s fist into Ogg, and several tendrils wrap themselves around the orc. He fought helplessly against the constraint as they squeezed the life from him. As Wobblegrinder shot thunderous witch bolts into the mass of twisted vines, grotesque dreadflowers began growing from the bulk.

As Ogg loses conciousness, Wobble calls forth a mass of thick webbing, effectively keeping the hulking mass from shattering the fallen paladin. Akasha tries to free Ogg while Sayer, jumping back behind Ray, plunges his rapier into the mass, landing the killing blow.

The group lays Ray to rest outside the curtain wall, under a cairn of shattered stone. They take tentative steps deep into the strange forest of Khar’Khuut. Their progress is as follows;

- Investigate the steep structure with a totem inside. They tie off their silken rope after a precarious climb, gaining quick access to the upper reaches of the ruins.

- Finding a pathway with several stone masks, they attempt to pass and are blasted by elemental fire. They notice a plinth nearby with a copper switch and tie the into position, effectively deactivating the fiery masks.

- They continue to a large wrought iron gate, noticing a the towering spires of the temple grounds beyond. Deciding to investigate the ruins further, they turn back for now.

- The group come across a hill with several open passageways. After attempting to pass through and finding them linked in strange ways, they find emblems on each door. In no particular order they find a bird, a ruby, a diamond, a lion, a snake, an emerald, and the four main stages of the moon. After much trial and error, they notice a break in the pattern and find that each portal seems to correspond with a certain person. They enter all at once in their designated portal and find a treasure chest.

- Veering a ways off, they come to an overlook terrace with several streams of water flowing off in ornamental gratings. Trekking through, they are ambushed by three ghastly spirits. A bit ineffective in the light of the day, they make short work of the creatures of darkness.

- Akasha finds an old, drawstring bag. She pulls from it a fuzzy sphere that breaks apart in a bright light, taking on the form of a giant elk of the woods. She’s smitten.

- Finding themselves back in the initial area, they find a path they overlooked earlier and snake their way deeper into the forest.

- The group investigates a grove, then climbs a winding set of steps to a large chamber with several unique chests throughout. Producing the one key they found, the group open the ironbound chest, revealing several useful items.

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