Gift of Eomar

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!

scene_-_callehad2.jpg

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.

npc_-_lost_sinner.jpeg

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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Minds of Iron

1. The group hover around a bleak fire as the convoy in which they are traveling is halted. They watch as a group of men try to free a draped wagon that has been stuck in the mud. A heavily cloaked figure watches from the side, accompanied by a young woman. Much of the convoy continue trekking through the thunderstorm, the sprawl of Khalsbrad in the distance with the Tower of Solastrum looming in it’s heart.

2. The group attempts to help free the wagon. The wood splinters and breaks. Surrendering the cargo, the cloaked figure blows forth a stream of intense fire, consuming the wagon completely in it’s destructive blaze. They converse briefly with the young girl, who speaks on behalf of her master, the Silent Seer.

3. The rest of the convoy continues on and shortly after an hour they find themselves within the city limits. The group follow a group of traveling performers to a large hostelry. They are invited up for tea with the Silent Seer, who has rented the owner’s quarters and wears a stone mask over his face and retains the heavy black robes in spite of the oppressive heat in the room. The young girl introduces herself as Aleanna (Ah-lee-ahna).

4. Madrygos is the benefactor of Khalsbrad. He shaped the city of Khalsbrad, creating a thriving metropolis. About a year ago, he closed the gates of Solastrum, which had served as a place of knowledge and higher learning. Since then, he hasn’t been seen. The city has fallen into decay, with the powerful families grasping at what power they can in the absence of Madrygos.

5. Aleanna sets the group on the task of routing out Madrygos, who is said to have gone mad alone in his tower. She gives the group a crystal orb, which when shattered Madrygos’s lair will open a dimension door, allowing the Silent Seer to assault the wizard.

6. The group settle in at the common bunks, conversing a bit with some local dwarves. They’ve made to vacate their longstanding claims here in Khalsbrad for more lucrative regions. They state that the honest business has been displaced by the area’s political Houses, and their constant vying for territory.

7. The group rests, then set out in the early hours before dawn towards the looming tower. They are confronted by a group of thugs, attempting to exact a bridge toll. The group wipe them out completely. They are little assaulted as they continue on.

8. They come to the curtain wall, holding within the overgrown grounds and the tower within. They scale the wall and move quickly toward the steady stream of water flowing forth from the sub floors.

9. Finding a pathway and navigating through the extremely hot steam vents of the underway, they come to a large platform causeway. The rushing water sets in motion several large turbines, the sound of clanking gears and grinding machinery is everywhere.

10. Several Mephistos, each a uniquely crafted apparatus, rush forward billowing a thick smoke that seems not to dissipate. They claw at the heroes, and one is able to align their targets and spew forth a blast of intense flame. As each is destroyed, it leaves behind a deadly smoke that obscures it’s area. The heroes continue.

11. The group come across a large workshop with shelves filled with scrap and machinery. They find a key, which opens a large gate behind which they find a disassembled iron golem. They observe it’s head seems to only have 1 large eyelet rather than the standard 2.

12. The group continue up and find themselves in a huge hall with turning machinery in every direction. They continue up a spiral staircase, judging themselves near the ground level. The complex is immense, though hallways marking the Observatorium Cosmicarum, the Grand Auditorium and the Master’s Library and the have been shut off by immense doors.

13. The group find a pedestal in the huge columned entrance way. Using the strange key, a bronze cage is lowered by a huge chain from above. Using it to gain access to the upper terrace, they find themselves on the exterior of the tower, looking over the city from high above. They follow the overlook around to a long bridge that crosses over to the tower’s side pillar.

14. At the end is a huge pavilion with a raised platform suspended at it’s apex. Witnessing an frail old human pouring over a leatherbound tome and gesturing absently with his free hand, they bring forth the Seer’s crystal orb. They shatter it, calling forth the Seer with an explosion of magical energy, the masked figure charging forward and immediately engaging in intense combat with Master Madrygos.

15. As they do so, a loud tinny voice breaks over the area. -Unauthorized personnel in the area. Neutralization to commence in 5 … 4 … 3 … … … -. The group readies themselves. Large spheres fold out from below, rotating with a pillar of light that shoots a ball of light at the intruders. From the center of the platform raises a large cylinder. Steam billows from protrusions as the panels slide away revealing Thul’Zoat, an immense mechanical centurion.

16. The group engage, withstanding the centurion’s pommeling strikes as well as it’s attempts to crush them with large gears pulled from below the mesh floor of the platform. Eventually the group is able to halt it’s onslaught, bringing it low.

17. The group witnesses the conclusion of the magical melee above them. The Silent Seer used his element of surprise to lash out early at Master Madrygos, it had bent the battle in his favor. The masked Seer holds the exhausted Madrygos suspended by his collar as the Master of the Tower turns to the group … you know not what you have done… The Seer reaves the life from Madrygos, holding in his hand the energy before dropping the lifeless body from the platform.

18. The Seer then pulls off the stone mask, revealing a face contorted by rage, his lips sewn together with strands of leather cord. He absorbs the essence, glowing with an awful light. With a flick of the hand, another portal opens from which Aleanna walks through.

19. The Seer floats down from the platform past the group, moving silently towards the tower main. Aleanna addresses them with downcast eyes. -You make leave with what you carry, but know that if you linger too long, my Master will view it as an act of hostility and cleave your soul from this dimension. Averting her eyes, she follows behind the Seer, leaving the band of heroes to claim what they can and flee the tower forever.

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The Raybringer of Swum Hallow

The group reflect on what they learned among the the Auragons, following their crude directions towards the Temple. They take a good heading, but veer off the path on their second day deep within the Terra Incognita. They come to a small clearing, and in their searching for clues to the path, are caught in a thick vine trap, hanging precariously from the branches of a nearby tree.

Having been a small distance from the group, On’ogg watches from the safety of the nearby bushes. Soon, three small figures prowl out from the far side of the clearing, approaching those caught in the net. The leader reveals himself to be a mousling, native to this region. After much deliberation, both parties lower their weapons, but keep a close eye on one another.

Ray guides them to the nearby trade outpost, explaining their need for heightened vigilance. The robed figures have been exceedingly hostile to the natives. They also are occupying the Temple of Khar’khuut, which happens to be a prime location for artifact recovery and a main source of economy for the mouslings.

They stay in a small hostelry, positioned on stilts above the bogs of flowing water. The area is a quagmire, spilling out into the Chell Sea. In the morning, Ray shows them to a salvage bazaar and to an old structure teeming with wild magics. The young druid bends the wood of Wobblegrinder’s staff around the dark crystal that the wizard has been studying.

Upon leaving the peaceful place, they observe smoke rising from some area several hundred paces away. Ray, runs in that direction without question; the companions follow as quickly as they can.

They burst through trees and brush and fall out the other side into a small, hidden village aflame. Moving in pairs, robed cultists pour over the area, setting ablaze everything in their path. Several mouslings can be found scurrying through the area, running from wooden door frames set into the hillsides while others cling to one another in terror. One particularly befuddled mousling seems to be running around with no apparent destination with a wooden chair.

The companions engaged with the cultists, safeguarding the inhabitants of Swum Hallow while bending the elements around them to destroy the threat. In the wake of the attack, Ray vows to see them to the now cultist stronghold.

They take to their travels immediately, moving quite swiftly with Ray’s expert knowledge of the area. They eventually come to the curtain wall around the mystical forest that surrounds the Temple itself. Ray mentions that the hazy violet bubble that has taken form over the wall is certainly new to him. When they attempt to throw a stone over the structure, it seems to bounce off of the barrier.

Continuing on, they find the large gateway, but it too has the hazy violet barrier. Stumped by the new development, they experiment a bit (with little progress). At one point, a ghastly floating skull emerges from the treeline on the other side of the barrier, a long sash wrapped around where the eyes would have glared. It emitted a pulse of energy then departed back into the trees.

In a final act of desperation, the companions emptied out their pockets. They held forth the spherical orb of ancient filigree, finally recalling Katos’s mention of them possessing ‘The Keystone’.

They pressed the orb against the barrier; it seemed to ripple energy from the contact point. Then after a moment, the haze took a hardened form and shattered like glass into a million little pieces. The shards fell harmlessly to the ground with twinkling energy.

After taking a few tentative steps through the curtain wall, the group was confronted by a blinding greenish light, from which stepped Miraak the Unyielding. He bore clothing made from the woods, unnatural brazen skin with tribal markings over his exposed chest, and most striking a pair of twisting antlers from his temples, crowning a face twisted by hatred.

His worlds dripping with madness, Miraak revealed that he had been provided the tools to give the natural world a fighting chance against the encroaching plague of humanity. Pleased that the group brought before him such a fine mousling specimen, the dark druid bent the energy around him and twisted Raybringer into a shadow of himself.

As the mousling begins regaining his footing, Miraak melds with the trees of this ancient forest, leaving the companions to face the monstrosity of their former acquaintance.

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Protectors of the Gift

The companions take furtive steps into the glade, in awe of the massive mechanism protruding from the cliff side. Thadeous and On’ogg take notice of the stillness of the pond while Sayer and Akasha investigate several mounds of well placed stones.

The surface ripples don’t seem to dissipate as Wobblegrinder makes tentative steps into water. He notes that they rebound back from the opposite shoreline with the same intensity as when they were sent. Then Akasha throws a large hewn stone into the water, driving the surface into a twisting frenzy. From the vortex came forth a monstrous naga, seeming to phase in and out with a shadowy mirror of itself.

The heroes were able to eventually slay the beast, only to find that the shadow mirror seemed to live on. It too was slain, but not before it unleashed devastating magics on the group.

While carving out the valuable scales of the naga, On’Ogg fell into the deeper part of the pond. Weighed down heavily by his equipment, he sunk like a boulder into the water depths. Akasha and Sayer were able to recover the panicking orc, but not without a tremendous amount of effort. The experience only drove deeper the paladin’s fear of open water.

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The group, now with time to examine the Apparatus properly, made to climb the thick vines to the open orifice. With the help of Hopscotch scouting ahead, Akasha made short work of the climb and secured a position at the top. Soon only Ogg was left to make the perilous climb. With quick thinking, his friends cast featherfall on the orc and pull him up the cliff in a rapid motion.

They investigate the darkened structure, eventually finding an access tunnel and gaining entry into the caverns around the structure. Coming across small crystals that glow with a slight hum, they decide to leave the formations be.

Continuing on, they find a strange device. After removing an access panel, they notice that there is room for things to be inserted. The device is made up of highly machined metal, crafted with designs nobody had seen before.

Moving forward, the heroes find a somewhat circular chamber with a conical protrusion in the middle of the ground. Akasha, highly suspicious of the scene, suggests they leave it be. Ignoring her warnings, Ogg, Sayer and Wobblegrinder approach haphazardly, depressing a pressure plate on the floor and triggering several pipes around the room to release a wicked green acid that bubbles with noxious fumes.

After reading some inscriptions on the surface of the mechanism, they retreat back down a different passage. There they find three small separate chambers with fantastical animals rotating on rings. They manipulate the objects in a way that fits the narrative they found on the earlier mechanism. The three rings seem to react.

They then return to the conical mechanism, where they find it seems to have opened at the top. They find several raw gemstones, a strangely sealed canteen and a small box containing a deck of illusions.

After they uncover the secrets of the mechanism, they find a new passageway where before there had been none. It leads up to a huge chamber, where their walkway overlooks huge crystals up to a pillar of the same kind.

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At their approach, two vaguely humanoid crystalline figures move to intercept them. The companions change their movement, attempting to demonstrate their non-hostile intent. At this showing, a third Auragon reveals themselves from the crystal pillar, addressing them directly.

A timeline of past events is explained after finally gauging their relatively decent intentions. It seems that the survey team from Explorer’s League had been eliminated a year prior due to their excavation efforts. More recently, a man flanked by robed figures had been denied access.

The Auragons also divulged knowledge about a powerful place referred to as ‘The Temple’. Apparently the Auragon sentinel left to watch over that sacred place has stopped responding to their calls. Fearing the worst, they’ve shut themselves away deep withing the Apparatus, prepared to destroy the structure if necessary.

They also told the group their purpose; they are to stand as protectors over the Apparatus, which acts as a conductor for ‘the message’. When they receive this message, known to them as the Gift of Eomar, they extrapolate the power and sent it forth. They make mention that the Gift of Eomar bears the power of life creation, that the Terra Incognita was created in this way.

They divulge that the cloaked figures wish to send forth a message soaked in blood and hatred. It is their belief that this would alter their function beyond their designation, and therefore cannot be allowed. They even give a glimpse of the potential chaos; a vision of strangling vines and bloodthirsty growth consuming this region under the blanket of green. It is in this vision that they see a fragile feminine hand orchestrating this chaos.

They seem to suggest that the group stop these events, pointing them in the vague direction of the Temple. As the heroes take their leave, they are overcome with a sense of displacement. They find themselves outside again, standing in the Glade.

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Cutting a New Path

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The heroes reconvene at the Lion’s Pride Inn and take inventory of both their situation as well as their bags. The group converse with Lumpy, attempting to determine what exactly to do with the orc.

Thadeous, with the knowledge of the unfinished business looming, takes the opportunity to pour over his spell book and ready himself for the next task. He also gives name to his monkey companion; Hopscotch.

Sayer finds the skiff landing and speaks to an old seafarer of curses and children’s stories. The salty dog seems sure that the ocean will return to claim Sayer, now that he bears ‘the mark’.

Fresh with her earnings from their fulfilled contract, Akasha takes time for a little rest and relaxation with Lumpy in tow and finds a set of lockpicks.

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On’ogg travels to the crafting district, commissioning the strange Corrigan Twins to fashion shavings from one of the Skystone ingots into fishing tackle. The paladin also visits Farthenfaust Sanctuary, where The Inquirer speaks to him of the fundamentals of Dyadoros.

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In the evening the group have a fine meal at the Lion’s Pride and the next morning they see Lumpy off as they head down their own path. Og shares with him the mark of his home clan, giving his displaced brother a place to live among his brethren if he so chooses. Soon after their goodbyes, the companions find themselves back on the road, following the map provided by Lord Aetherion Tourek to the borders of The Terra Incognita.

~

As the afternoon rolled on the rolling hills turned more and more dense with vegetation, the air dense with moisture. They need not see all the wildlife in the area; they formed a cacophony of sound that pressed in from all directions. The trek became difficult; the companions formed a single file with Og at the head, cutting through the thick vegetation just to make way.

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The Execution and the Fancy Dog

The companions converse with Hergen Blaythe. They gain perspective on the trial, Hergen seems to be unaffiliated with either side. He also doesn’t seem to subscribe to any particular religion or faith. Hergen also inspects the orb found in the Catacombs, mentioning that the metalwork isn’t like anything he’s ever seen in modern craft.

Meanwhile Akasha heads away from the revelry, moving towards Bellview Keep. On the way she summons a small illusion of a cute fox on a leash walking beside her. The guards allow her entry, escorting her to the dungeon as per her request to see Lumpy. She has a small dialogue with the jailer and is allowed entry without hassle.

She quickly wakes up Lumpy, charming his counterpart before he can make trouble. She explains her plan, but just as she attempts to use a key she inconspicuously produces, it shatters into a fine dust. Thoroughly distraught by the sudden turn of events, she falls back and speaks to the jailer again out of desperation.

She eventually distracts him with a beautiful song and dance, finally able to separate him from his key ring. Just then a drunk captive across from the jailer’s cell begins causing a scene. The jailer departs momentarily to handle the lout. Akasha probes his mind briefly to find out which key to take and then takes her leave to get Lumpy again.

She illusions Lumpy as the pet fox and they quickly depart, lingering just long enough to spill an ink pot on the logbook containing her name. She leaves a note with her companions, gains her supplies and quickly takes to the road.

~

The rest of the companions rage on at the pub until the early hours of the morning. They eventually make it back to their quarters, where Thadeous finds Akasha’s note. On’ogg is thoroughly drunk.

In the morning, Sayer tries to convince Ogg to depart early. They hear noise just outside their window. They see a small crowd of the militiamen standing around a quickly constructed gallows, a lone Orc hanging by the neck. Realizing the execution was planned to have quite a bit more heraldry, they go down to investigate.

They find entry to the dungeon restricted, the guards make mention that no access can be granted to outsiders The companions also find out that the magic user known only as ‘Lumpy’ is at large, apparently having used powerful magic to escape his confinement in the night. Inspectors are attempting to decipher the strange runes and equations found on the wall of his lone cell, but are having a difficult time gaining any understanding of the magic used.

The companions notice that the plainsman from the evening before is standing nearby in a cage. He had apparently been moved out of the dungeon, then forgotten for the moment. He drinks all of Sayer’s wine and explains his accounting of the events in the dungeon. Ogg, convinced that Lumpy has victimized Akasha with some sort of blood magic, finally agrees to depart.

~

The companions follow the subtle trail left by Akasha, riding hard and in a few hours catch up with the bard. She explains her hand in Lumpy’s escape and they all agree to touch in with the Explorer’s League while nearby and divulge the guild of the recent events. They change course for Archon’s Fall and arrive late in the afternoon.

Ogg asks Lumpy to accompany him to Farthenfaust Sanctuary and is quickly distracted by the lone figure of The Inquirer. Akasha than steals away the befuddled Lumpy and they duck through the familiar door of the Lion’s Pride Inn. Gaining refreshments and a booth in the back, she explains that he can do whatever he wants, to not feel pressured towards any one thing.

Wobble and Sayer head towards the guildhall and request audience with Lord Tourek. They are seen in immediately, finding Aetherion eager to hear any news on the events. He speculates that the events could be connected, believing them to be part of a larger plot.

They also show him the passage from Achabe Evala Gal’ahad, particularly the coordinates. He recognizes the imagery from a failed excavation that the League had dispatched about a year prior. The League lost contact with the team shortly after their scheduled arrival. A recovery unit was sent out, but found nothing besides the base camp. Finding the site difficult to hold against the inherent dangers of the jungle, they withdrew gleaning no substantial information on the disappearances.

Lord Tourek cited that the efforts in the past had deemed any formal action to investigate the site unauthorized, as too high of a risk. He mentioned that he would back the companions in an unofficial capacity to investigate the site further, considering that they are in a unique position to relate any information recovered to the mysterious cult activity.

A package is delivered to the Inn. Makos had finished securing Mohr Dhoma and had portioned off their share of the equipment gained. The package contained a small sum of gold, a pair of shiny spaulders and two ingots of Skystone The companions then decide to take time to themselves as they consider their next move.

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