Gift of Eomar

New Day Dawning Part I

The companions awaken to find the Black Star a convergence point for Minutemen forces working in shifts to retake the city of Khalsbrad.

The Hand is confronted by On’ogg about the strange crimson stone that was taken from Hush upon the necromancer’s demise. Hand claims to have it stowed away and promises to bring it to the Tower of Solastarum, where they will convene some time later.

Though somewhat distraught, Ogg concedes and makes his way with Akasha Delithrang and Sayer to the grounds. As they depart they convene briefly with Thranka Suun accompanied by an unknown scoundrel of a mage.

Thranka welcomes Sayer to join her; to return to the sea. With an sense of responsibility still quite new to him, Sayer decides to continue their course to see this adventure through. There’s a heartfelt goodbye, and Thranka departs, presumably through the arcane portal that Darrek and his colleagues are conjuring.

The Hand breaks away and explores the landscape just beyond the walls of Khalsbrad. They find a bit of privacy and attempt to commune with an unknown greater power. There is a response, beckoning them to bring the Scepter before it. There seems to be a way to travel through the extra planar space to the entity, though it require at least one sentient anchor as a component to the sorcery.

Elbanor avoids the general drama of his companions by making an appointment with Nozzalthorp Frayfeather, requesting the gnomish tinkerer’s aid in grafting a salvaged mechanical arm onto his missing limb. He then calls on the elves of the Callehad finding Captain Castien in recovery, but hopeful.

Meanwhile Ogg, Akasha and Sayer continue to the grounds around the Tower where the Alabaster Aegis has taken position. A supply officer shows them around before escorting them to the command tent.

There they find SIR OSTERRICK; Ogg presents the old knight with the mortal remains of one of their Order, from the Errant Expeditionary. Sir Osterrick seems greatly troubled, inquires as to what the circumstances are that Ogg came into possession of such a thing. He then places Ogg and his friends under arrest for crimes for suspicious of murder of one Catherine Raleigh, his own daughter.

~

Ogg, Akasha and Sayer find themselves tied to a post in a small tent some not far from the command area. After about an hour, Sir Osterrick dismisses the guards, who he finds eager to be rid of Sayer’s muffled insults. The old Knight is fuming and begins interrogating Ogg, who divulges all information regarding Karth Drachum killing Knight Raleigh in the jungles of southern Collabria.

Sir Osterrick makes smack of Ogg’s face then notices the young orc gather his emotions and control his rage, which subdues the old man’s own zeal. He then listens to the rest of the orc’s story and decides it to be truth. He releases the companions and informs them that they should await the pleasure of the First Paladin for further guidance.

The companions make their way to the mess tent, taking in a meal. The tent is empty besides a small group of Knights seeming to stretch their ale ration. The companions take seat, but soon they are displaced from the larger table as dozens of young Knights return from field work.

In the commotion the small group of Knights who had been seating on the far corner raises draws attention by raising a mug ‘to the heroes who saved Khalsbrad’. There is a raucous cheer before he continues, more specifically distinguishing the companions for their achievements in the critical role of dropping the otherworldy shield around the city. The cheers around the tent turn quickly to jeers.

After the turbulence fades, the companions make way to make the acquaintance of this eccentric gentleman and his colleagues. He introduces his friends as those of Noble, a squad of misfits and ragabouts. The companions stay a while, enjoying the company of Noble before being called fetched for the First Paladin himself.

Meanwhile, the Hand has meandered back towards Solastarum. Some ways from the encampment they are set upon by by a Knight of a different sort. Baron Samael approaches and suggests a small stroll by the lake. The Hand attempts to regain their own will, feeling the briefest whisper of doubt in their actions. They find resistance to be fruitless.

Samael takes possession of the scarlet crystal that was gained after defeating the dread necromancer Hush. Then citing the Hand’s benefactor as a power not to be crossed lightly, allows a favor to be called upon when the young warlock is in need.

The Hand soon rejoins their other companions at the command tent, where Sir Dhalamus Cayne is receiving Ogg, Akasha and Sayer. They soon sort out the drama of Knight Raleigh’s death to a favorable end for all. Sir Dhalamus also thanks the companions for their part in toppling the evils within Khalsbrad.

By this point both Elbanor and the Hand have rejoined the group, the cleric coming in tow with Nazeer, Castien’s second in command. The elves of the Legion want to continue their coordinated efforts with the Aegis and formally give their thanks to the companions in their efforts within Solastarum, not least of which the recovery of their Captain.

Honoring the companions with ceremony, he gifts them several powerful items recovered from the Tower. Impressed, Dhalamus also invites Ogg to join the Aegis at the Alabaster Citadel to formally begin his paladin training in the ways of the Order.

Deeply moved, the companions fall back to the Callehad to mull over the day’s events.

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Ascendancy Denied

With renewed resolve, the companions press the attack to the Master of the Tower. They ride the lift back to the private quarters, lingering only slightly in the private study before moving on. They find no signs of Sora.

Anxious for a confrontation they press on to the chambers beyond. They find the halls in a state of disrepair. Large paintings of inexplicable value defaced with both gore and less obvious fluids. Many were in broken shambles among the refuse lining pathways. A voice echoed towards them from the chambers still deeper.

The companions come to a circular hallway, bending away from them in either direction. Statues line the outer edges. Many were destroyed outright, a crumbling mess of limbs and contoured faces staring blankly from mounds of dusty stucco. Periodically they found one seemingly intact, each with a canvas tarp draped over the piece.

Curiosity piqued, the Hand slides underneath the tarp for closer inspection. They find a pulsing, growing mass of squishy flesh covering the upper parts of the statue; over the face and much of the head of the stone worked parody of man. Revealing this to her companions, they are much distressed. On’ogg strikes at the lecherous creature and it seems to die in with a shrill screech.

As the noise settles, Sayer swears that the shriek had been echoed from somewhere further on. The Hand suggests stealth and gives him the ability to communicate with her from beyond. Sayer continues, the rambling of the voice becoming even more obtrusive.

He finds a break in the circular hall, opening to the center of the chambers. Within he takes notice of about a dozen humanoids, not unlike the prisoners from the Dormatories, but somehow in a more loathsome state. Chained together at the neck in groups of three, they kneel around the circular room in a dazed state, eyes staring ahead from tear stained faces.

Centered in the room is a raised dais underneath a large cone-like construct hanging from the ceiling like a mechanical stalactite. Shoots of steam spew from the object through a tangle of tubes and hoses. Vents hum with electrical energy only slightly masking the sounds of turning cogs and spinning cranks within.

Underneath the mysterious, technological marvel is the figure of a gaunt looking human, his skin the color of the moon reflected on bog water. From under a heavy cloak and hood they he sees that a heavy scowl is sewn shut by leather cord. Indeed, Sayer realizes that the voice itself, though his, seems to boom from mesh covered coffers placed around the structure above. A jagged crystal the color of blood protrudes outward from a bare chest.

Sayer relays this to his colleagues and they rush up to assist. The figure who can only be assumed is Hush calls forth to his chained congregation, speaking of ascendancy and their forthcoming sacrifice. The rest of the companions soon rush up and join Sayer.

There is a small dialogue before the group engage in combat. Though Hush displays an array of dangerous spellcasting, the companions find themselves up to the task against it. They lash out at the necromancer in resolute strikes, beating the Master of the Tower back some ways.

The Hand attempts to throw layers of magical restrains on Hush, but he seems to resist the restrains. She then pulls one of the prisoners aside out of the fray and attempts to reason with it. Though his mind seems on the wrong end of broken, he insists that he will not harm her. The Hand begins trying to unlock his bindings.

Soon after Hush falls back and presses an open palm to the forehead of one of the supplicants. The poor soul cringes in pain at the touch and Hush begins to channel his dark energies. Hoping to stifle the necromancer’s plans, Elbanor charges to the center of the room and blasts forth a massive charge of electrical energy. Several of the supplicants are killed outright, those that survive are severely maimed.

With a snarl Hush walks back to the center of the chamber dais, the whole chamber seeming to react to his movement. Indeed the mechanized structure hanging from the ceiling closes a crystalline barrier around the Master of the Tower. Blasts of powerful steam billows down into the small chamber, blasting the robes and sinew from the dread necromancer. Gouts of flame issue forth as well, charring the remnants from the floor of the chamber, leaving only the abysmal skeleton of Hush.

npc_-_hush_of_the_clockwork_reliquary_1.jpg A misty cloud of sickly yellow then poured into the chamber and with the horrifying will of the undead lich, the crystal vial around him shuddered and lifted itself from the floor with mechanical legs revealing themselves on the bottom of the platform. Long mechanical arms folded out from the clockwork vestibule, each fitted with some dangerously sharp instrument; spinning blades, elongated claws grasping the empty around around it.

With renewed hatred, Hush continued his attacks. The heroes met his challenge and after a while were able to defeat the dread necromancer. the crystal barrier around him shattered and his ashen bones fell to a heap, the mechanical pieces around him slowing sluggishly to a halt.

The heroes revel in their victory, taking into possession the crimson shard from the chest cavity of Hush. Soon the sound of heavy boots and metal clinking can be heard from the outer chambers. A squad of soldiers gain the room and make a quick appraisal of the scene. The guards are comprised a few Minutemen, but most carry the colors of a winter sky streaked with sunlight; blue trimmed with bronze. The Order of the Alabaster Aegis has arrived.

The companions allow the newcomers to secure the chambers, caring only to rid themselves of the Tower. They retreat back down and outside, finding the sun just barely cresting over Lake Edelweiss. They take note of the Aegis setting camp on the grounds around Solastarum.

They also see that though the undead scourge still resists in pockets of Khalsbrad, the day is nearly won. The Callehad floats above Shacklefield, reigning down canonfire and arcane blasts onto enemy forces.

Finding the familiar face of Akasha moving among the wounded, the companions press into the encampment. They find her walking in a hurry beside a litter carried by a pair of Aegis medics, indicated such by the red and white circled cloth around their right arm. Akasha pressed her hand around the palm of an unconscious Castien, being borne to a triage tent.

For a moment the Captain of the Callehad opened his eye, the stoney features of the elf betraying a slight smile as he recognizes his colleagues. With a wince of pain, Castien lifts an arm into a curl, flexing it lightly at On’ogg. Then his eye whirls a bit and he nods off into a fitful slumber.

The companions linger for a few moments while Akasha sees to Castien’s immediate treatment. Once satisfied with the care given, she joins her friends and as a group they move through the streets of Khalsbrad, busy with the movement of foot soldiers and recovery workers.

They make it unhindered back to the Black Star, where they get a progress report on the re-taking of Khalsbrad; the day was nearly won. With the good news, they collapse from exhaustion.

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Horrors Realized

The companions find the Dormitories within Solastarum to be in a rather dismal state. Filth and decay cover much of the area, with howls of pain echoing from deeper within the wing. They come across jagged chains strewn about, constructed from links of otherworldly metal.

They come to a larger area where they find Xenegon the Pernicious toiling away on those left in his charge. Among those currently strewn among his den of horrors is Castien, unconscious and latched to a workbench. The companions engage with the vile creature while freeing some of his captives.

The Pernicious One eventually succumbs to the companions. With his key the companions are able to open the cells containing dozens of captives from the city. Though in a deep state of shock, the captives eventually rally to the companions and take a position in the relative safety of the main structure, with the Aurens.

The companions use the key gifted to Hand by Baron Vargoss to traverse to the next level of the Tower. They notice across the walkway, hundreds of feet above the central chamber floor a platform leading to ‘The Occulularum’ and a place called the ‘Spire of Silence’. They also find another elaborate elevator leading up to the Private Quarters. Deciding to on, they take the latter route.

After another lift upwards, they find themselves in what must have been the private study of Master Madrygos. They take heed of the books and odd trinkets a bit. After disturbing the heavy tomes, a tin construct emerges from the depths of an alcove, humming to life. Tethered by a large umbilical serve from the nape of it’s neck, it is lowered into the crowd of companions.

The companions make inquiries of the librarian, who they find out calls itself Sora. Through some quick thinking, they are able to coax some answers from it (though not relinquish absolute control, as QUERY:Madrygos has been usurped by QUERY:Hush, relinquishing all INPUT:Control to said TLB:Master).

With this new information, they decide to investigate further the Spire of Silence. Backtracking, they find the passage below open up to the outside. A large open air minaret launches itself into the frosty air across a bridging walkway about 12 feet wide. An arcane energy seems to pour itself into a small focal point from the minaret’s four columns.

The companions charge the structure, intent on disabling this obviously evil scheme. The screeching forms of the winged creatures soon threaten from all around. Wave after wave of the bird-like demons barrel through the companions, trying to knock them away.

The companions find four glassy orbs pouring magical energy into the small point towards the center and begin shattering the orbs. Several demons take a defensive position around one of the focal orbs and Elbanor blasts them with a thunderous wave of energy that shatters them and the orb itself. The flow fails and with a great zerp the focal point pulls inward a massive rush of arcane energy.

After a few moments of holding fast whatever they can, the companions feel the winds settle and open their eyes tentatively. They find that the shadowy curtain that had befallen Khalsbrad has fallen. Stars twinkle in the night sky above. The Hand ponders the sight, another new experience to log in the journal.

Elbanor hefts the heavy object that had been the focal point; a iron mask with subtle but intricate carvings skittering across the surface. Elbanor feels the potent powers of the within, considering the implications of such an artifact.

With his sharp eyes Sayer notices the signs of what must be hundreds of torch carrying figures far off on the outskirts of the barrier mountains northwest of the Tower. With the barrier down, the forces move into the breach like a crashing wave.

With a word of holy power On’ogg alights his sword in a brilliant glow. Waving it over his head, he stands as a beacon of light on the upper reaches of a Tower that has stood as a ominous oppressor for unrelenting days. The light din of cheers throughout the defensive walls of the city could still be heard from such great heights.

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Pushing Back

The companions make way through the grounds surrounding Solastarum with the aid of Jotun and his Aurens. The brunt of the Towers forces seem to be distracted by Commander Maynard who has marshaled the Minutemen at the siege towers around the city. The companions fight through a token force left at the gates and breech the Tower from the main gate.

They find themselves in the main tower structure, with several wings branching off from a great central chamber. Soon after their entry the power seems to cut out from the tower; as per their coordinated plans. It seems as if though the rats had accomplished their task down below, though without power the companions are limited in their progression forward.

They consider making the long climb up the interior of the main chamber but decide against it, citing the possibility of unknown dangers assaulting them whilst they find themselves without secure footing.

As the power had failed, a service hatch seemed to open to allow access to the sub levels of the Tower. The companions are lowered down a small lift into labyrinthine passages dense with machine steam and the sound of churning gears. Pressed on by an ominous clang of something else within the chambers somewhere, the companions find their way through the maze of halls.

They find themselves in a long chamber with a floor tiled with what seems to be different types of metalloid tiles. Dozens of mechanical constructs are strewn about in various states of disarray.

Ogg and the Hand move through the inert constructions, disabling them as best they can while Sayer and Elbanor inspect what seems to be the only exit; a large, sturdy bronzen door with an aperture centering it’s frame, no larger than a yorba fruit. The ceiling was thick with strands of heavy rubberized cords. Though a sign read that “That who places their arm within the orifice shall see no harm come to it”, Elbenor was less than convinced.

Sayer hesitated slightly, but eventually plunged his arm into the area. Feeling around, he was able to find a lever behind a small plate and with the flick of the switch opened the door. Unfortunately, he was the only one standing on the non-conductive platform. Everyone else around the room received a painful jolt of electricity upon activation of the door.

The companions continue on into what they find to be the workshop of Nozzalthorp Frayfeather. Elbanor finds a clockwork arm that seems to be appropriate to his liking and stows it in his bag. The companions work through a small puzzle involving pieces to a strategy game that Frayfeather seems keen on and eventually are able to send power to the parts of the tower deemed necessary.

Ignoring the lift from the workshop back up to the main levels, they backtrack as best as they can through the labyrinth. They are less successful in evading the mechanized guardian stalking the narrow chambers this time around. After being knocked around a bit they are able to sever the construct inert and the companions rush themselves the rest of the way out of the tight situation.

The companions venture into the Salon, finding a few chambers filled with recreational activities for enjoyment through diversion. Following the sound of elegant music, they find a large auditorium bereft of anyone besides a gentleman in the latter part of middle age playing at a magnificent piano on a raised dais.

Baron Samael Vargoss, as he introduces himself, seems to wear a mantle of dark black magic, an energy that Ogg finds himself repelled by. Though he admits to be one of the dark riders, the Baron spurs the notion of being beholden to the new Master of the Tower. Indeed, Samael seems willing to assist the heroes, should they bring him a crystal of deep crimson from Hush.

Though Sayer omits opinion, Elbanor and Ogg find him to be untrustorthy. The Hand has far less qualms, but agrees to not assist him. Though the Baron is slightly agitated by their lack of vision, he allows them to retreat back to the other parts of the Tower unimpeded.

The companions decide to search the Dormitories before advancing up the Tower, but having not empowered this wing they find themselves stalled while the Aurens siphon the necessary energy from elsewhere to open the door.

During this small hiatus, the Hand returns to the halls of the Salon to loot more art supplies. Alone, she finds herself confronted by the Baron. Entranced by his powers, she decides not only that he’s a pretty cool guy, but also that she should definitely bring him what he asks.

She then returns to her companions and explains all this to them immediately after the exchange. Perturbed, but not waylaid, the companions make their way into the Dormitories.

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Well Conceived Plans

The companions prepare themselves for a fight, with the sounds of the clockwork soldiers marching to their position in the open courtyard deep within Shacklefield. The marching ceases for a time, to be replaced by sounds of combat. Further investigation by the heroes brings little to bear; the figures seemed to be in combat, but with whom they couldn’t determine.

After a moment to recover from the icy prison, the burly figure of Commander Jules Maynard rumbles up to his feet and begins assessing his situation. Seeing most of his fighting force brought low and in disarray, he conscripts the companions to his efforts, insisting on taking these noisy foes head on.

With great consternation, the heroes follow and the whole group is confused in seeing hordes of rats making short work of the clockwork soldiers. Maynard is greatly confused, but is quickly assuaged by the companions who suggest he see to his troops. Distracted from the dangers momentarily, Maynard rallies his troops and the whole lot of them begin the march back to the Black Star.

During the march, the companions brief Maynard on how helpful the roguish Boswell Dunbar had been through this crisis. Maynard seemed to withhold his opinions, continuing on in grim silence.

The group eventually reach their destination; Maynard throws open the doors and walks to the center of the large tavern, quick to confront the leader of this band of thieves. From his terraced office comes a little masked string of curses and Boswell soon rushes through the heavy doors into the common area. There is a tense moment of silence between the figureheads. Maynard’s Minutemen had since filed in and lined the wall opposite of the delinquents who had since abandoned their card games.

After several more moments of deliberate tension the Lord Commander thanks the roguish lord of the Black Star for his hospitality and formally requests the aid of Boswell and his forces. Boswell endorses the idea with a sheepish grin.

The shock hits all witnessing like a cudgel to the noggin. Following the display, the troops mingle in with the bandits and there is a general good time to be had by (mostly) all. Perhaps troubled by what’s to come, Sayer spurs the advances of Thranka.

~

After a well earned rest, the companions come together again with the figureheads they’ve brought together. Each represent their own opinions on how to proceed.

Commander Jules Maynard is keen to assault the hostiles throughout the city and lay siege to the Tower.

Jotun commits himself and all of his brothers to the cause, though they show great hesitation to work alongside any of those besides the companions directly.

Nozzalthorp Frayfeather relinquishes information on the Tower itself until the companions suggest intent on destroying the Tower, a plan which exasperates the gnome to a point of dogged silence.

Lord Boswell confides that his men are no soldiers, but suggests that the show of solidarity in the hours prior between the men may prove useful if the Minutemen would support his goons.

Margot deems herself capable of sabotaging the gates with primed explosives, though she fears that her mission would be impossible to carry out without an capable guard.

Thranka Suun has her own opinion, but keeps it to herself.

Constance Marrow, unfortunately, has not been seen since the fall of her friend Bartholomew, and cannot assist in the planning.

With a coordinated plan to reinforce their resolve, the heroes set out to confront the Master of the Tower once and for all.

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Shacklefield Burning

The companions find themselves deep within the no-man’s land of the grounds around the Tower of Solastarum. They hide among the rubble left from the charnel monstrosity. The Tower activates with the grinding of gigantic gears and the front door lifts into the mechanical structure. From which, hundreds of clockwork soldier automatons march in perfect harmony.

They take notice of the group and send a small contingent to investigate, but with the quick thinking of the Hand are soon distracted. The companions escape across the field, quickly scaling the Central Curtain and taking cover among the fortifications.

Eager to gain more information on the automatons, On’ogg tosses his shiny Crystal Heart from the gatehouse heights into the latter end of the line of automaton. There is a few moments of chaos as the clockwork soldiers are set upon by the stone elemental. The smaller contingent of soldiers are cleared away, but at great cost to the elemental. The stone creature bends open the gates to allow the companions to escape and is then sent towards the tower.

Elbanor takes possession of some of the scrap from the machines and is able to open some of the security doors with it’s remains. The Hand ponders the nature of such odd constructions and finds herself able to mimic the simpler routines of their communications.

The companions trudge wearily into Shacklefield, finding the whole area to be engulfed in flame. The further they press inward, the more intense the inferno became. The find little among the destruction before coming to a large pub of sorts. Eager to salvage what he can,
Sayer investigates a trap door behind the bar. Happy with the found resources, he presses deeper into the underchamber, finding a door to the alley above.

Outside he encounters a death knight, and attempts to lay an attack on the foe before backtracking to his friends. Not only does the attack fall short, but the lumbering knight whispers a word of magic and holds Sayer fast, frozen in his step.

Taking his time, the mysterious knight closes the distance to the helpless swashbuckler. With a great heft, he swings his huge sword in a vicious arc in what must surely be a killing blow. At the last moment, a circle of arcane runes shield Sayer, shattering like a heavy glass plane. Elbanor had protected his friend from assured death.

The sword deflects slightly and strikes to tremendous effect. Still relatively intact, Sayer collapses on the ground, barely conscious. With the last of his energy, he struggles to stay awake as he feels himself lifted by his collar. Up he rises until his feet nigh even touch the ground. Opening his eyes, he looks down on his assailant; glowing blue eyes are lit with a frozen cold energy deep within the helm of the knight. In a surge of violence, Sayer is slammed headlong into the wall and he falls immediately into a pool of black.

~

The rest of the companions come to investigate after Sayer fails to rejoin the group. The find the alleyway bereft of any life. Indeed, not much shows the passing of the moments prior besides Sayer’s sword laying in the middle of the passageway. Overwhelmed by ill omens, the group chases signs only minutely picked up by the Hand. Signs of a dark creature’s passing through the area.

The group is temporarily separated by falling debris from the fires. Ogg continues on alone. He comes to the edge of a large open marketplace, with what seems like a huge, frozen portal of sorts in the center. Dozens of icebound pillars surround the portal. The figure of the death knight is seen on the far side, holding an unconscious Sayer aloft. With some motions of his free hand, the death knight bounds the cavalier in a frozen block of standing ice, not unlike the other pillars in the area. The death knight turns to On’Ogg at the paladin’s approach.

With Ogg beckoning the unholy knight of darkness, the two meet in combat. Swords clash, and though Ogg lashes out with radiant power to great effect, he finds himself at a disadvantage to the hulking knight’s sheer size. Ogg uses the environment to shield his movements, diving out of the way of the death knight’s world cleaving blows.

After a few moments, Elbanor and the Hand catch up. With some quick thinking, they see that the portal seems to be important to whatever this creature is plotting. Noticing it’s made entirely from a form of glass-like ice, Elbanor casts a shatter spell on the structure. Ogg experiences a small respite from the onslaught of the death knight’s attacks as the foe turns it’s attention on the portal.

The Hand hears the scream of what seems to be a young girl. With her keen eyes, she spots the ghostly outline of a young human female being pulled in an uncanny fashion toward the vortex of magic that seemed to now be circling the crumbling ruin of the portal.

The death knight breaks of his attack completely from the orcish paladin, moving in a full run toward the girl. It seemed to try and prevent the slide of the ghostly figure into the vortex, but could not grasp her outstretched hands. With the last seconds of the collapsing energy, the girl and the knight both fall into the energy and disappear from the area.

The companions are thoroughly stunned, finding themselves among the open marketplace alone. The icy pillars seem to be melting quickly without the magic of the portal to sustain them within the area, for the flames still burn heartily in the surrounding buildings.

They quickly recover Sayer, who though clearly in a state of serious injury, seems capable of a recovery over time. They also notice that the rest of the figures frozen in the ice seem to wear the armor and trappings of Minutemen.

They set up a quick triage area and the Hand begins stabilizing the survivors when suddenly they hear the iron march of clockwork soldiers from the streets beyond. The companions stand ready to defend their fallen friends against another wave of danger in the city of Khalsbrad.

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The Charnel Ruins

The companions fall back to the refuge of the Black Star, thoroughly harried by the events at the Arcanum Severatum. Nearly in a state of collapse, they gain a much needed respite and after a rest convene in the offices of Boswell Dunbar to plan their next move.

A delegation from the Aurens reports of enemy activity at the site where the churn-house colossus fell. Wanting to avoid a further engagement with the monstrosity at it’s most potent form, the group decides to investigate the site, hoping to thwart whatever recovery had been initiated.

Escorted by the Auren scouts, the group find their way to the outskirts of the site. Soil from the Balefire Egress lay in great mounds through the city streets, prohibiting their progress. Nearby there are advanced scouts of Aurens, with whom the companions coordinate an improvised distraction.

The scouts gain the attention of several gaunt warriors and fall back to a position back away from the egress. With the initial forces cleared, the companions press the attack up the side of the grounded colossus. Though the pathway through the area is crooked and they are set upon by long dead corpses arising from excavated resting places, the companions are able to converge on a seemingly intact mausoleum.

Within they find the empty sarcophagi of a pair of brothers and a rough hewn passageway leading deeper into the colossus. Through the twisting path they find a small circular passage with the form of a grotesque figure channeling some fel incantation. As the sorcery reaches a crescendo, the companions feel the entire structure lurch forward.

Rushing forward to destroy the foe, the heroes are thrown about as they interfere with the delicate machinations of the colossus. When they finally destroy the creature within, the are overwhelmed by the sickening sensation of losing elevation at a rapid pace.

Rushing out of the chamber, they are pitched forward violently. The Hand loses her footing and barrels out of the hallway in free fall, with the ground nearly fifty feet below. Just outside the chambers she feels herself flung into strands of sticky substance, thin but strong. threads. A giant spider with flamboyant coloring creeps from the side, Akasha rescuing her friend from a messy death.

She winds together a strand of the cord and the companions scale down the crumbling colossus, debris falling around them. Once grounded again, they find themselves deep within the fields between the city wall structures and the Tower of Solastarum itself. A no-mans land, deathly still. The proximity of the Tower itself overwhelming the group with ill omens, it struck out from the landscape like a singular skeletal finger breaking from the grave.

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The Descent into Madness

The companions leave Constance to her grief in the great hall of the Arcanum Severatum, venturing out to investigate the building more. On’ogg finds the remains of several charred corpses strewn about in one hall; there might have been six in all. Though they were none more than charred bones, he found that they seemed to have met their fate within the last two days and did so while attempting to move a large trunk.

Being still intact, he drew it forth to his companions. Within they found a stash of several powerful artifacts and magical items. After distributing them to one another, they continued their investigation.

Sayer climbed a large statue on the far end of the hall. Turning his attention to an open book that the statue held aloft some twenty feet high, he noticed it to be some crude map, depicting the main continents of the known world. Three swirling lines crossed over the map from three far corners, each converging on a circular island in the middle.

Elbanor, Akasha and the Hand meandered into a large chamber in the western wing containing a library circled around a huge arcanolabe. The curious, spherical object dominated the room.

Three bronzen rings dominate the device. Through the use of magic detection, each seems to associate itself with an essence of arcane powers; positive energy, negative energy & the neutral energy in between.

The companions find the ceiling covered by an elaborate mural of the night sky, complete with accurate depictions of constellations. They find a plate in the upper hemisphere of the globe, where the three rings nearly converge. The plate is triangular, made of the near convergence of the lines.

Akasha is surprised to see that she can read the unfamiliar writing on the plate. It seemed to give information on three supreme essences of the magic realms; Solinari, goddess of positive arcanum, Nuitari goddess of neutral arcanum and Nuitari, god of negative arcanum.

They are described as three siblings. Though they seem to be diametrically opposed in there energies, there is no sign of conflict, as is typical in depictions of astral figures of good versus evil. While Akasha narrates the scriptures, the rest of the group attempts to discern the puzzle.

Eventually they shine a light through the small eye in the middle of the plate. It sends a beacon through the chamber, between a heavy bookcase into a crystal pylon at the top of a statue, where it refracted up to the mural above.

~

The mural reveals visual depictions of the three twins. The group ponders this some time then continues on.

They find several chambers along a hallway in the eastern wing. Sayer and Elbanor investigate further, walking into the darkness. Ogg, Akasha and the Hand watch as they are enveloped into the darkness. The next moment, the room shows no trace of their passing.

Elbanor and Sayer find themselves on a large wooden platform with a spotlight shining down on them from above. They are set upon by a figure dressed in the caricature of a noble knight. The knight responds to them, beseeching their help in vanquishing some great evil in the land. With quick thinking, they respond in affirmation, and ‘gallop’ off into the darkness.

Meanwhile, Ogg is deeply troubled by the disappearance. The Hand senses a strange flow of magical energy swirling in a vast whirlpool. From their present location, they seemed to be at the edge. The strife between the two come to a head and they have a short spat, where they part ways for a short time.

~

Sayer and Elbanor seem to find themselves in a gawdy play of sorts, during which they slay a spooky tentacle creature. The applause of the audience fades slightly until they find themselves in a well furnished office of sorts. They hear a series of meows and purring noises.

They notice a pneumatic tube that still seemed operational. Writing a brief message to their colleagues, they send the note through the vacuum. After a minute or so a note in the form of a paper triangle soars out of the tube and around the room in gentle circles. Unfolding the paper, they find a crude depiction of a somewhat lewd nature.

Perplexed, they continue out of the room. Within the first step they find themselves hurtling sideways, with the laws of nature bent on itself. Just barely holding to the edge of the door frame, they grip tightly above the chasm of the hallway pit.

~

Ogg and the Hand eventually come back together, deciding it best to press forward as a group. Though Akasha seems to prefer staying in the form of a cat, they persuade her to attempt to send a message by magical means to the separate party members.

They continue on, finding a set of steps leading to the levels below. Experiencing their own imbalance of gravitational discord. With varying degrees of expertise, they descend to a hall laden with what seems to be an extravagant feast set on a long table. While Akasha and the Hand dine a bit while Ogg resists the temptation of the delicious looking food.

He notices a yelling coming from the chambers without, and with swift motion charges the door with a long piece of table. It slams through the doorway, just barely catching a falling Sayer and Elbanor, who had just fell off of the ledge in the room adjoining.

Though Elbanor ricochets off the table and onto a large statue protruding from the wall below, they eventually recover and come together. Using a length of rope to scale down the rest of the chamber, they find themselves in a large chamber with a dark sorcerer sat upon a resplendent throne of sorts.

The figure stands at their approach, dismissing his seat with a flick of the wrist. He wore black robes the color of midnight. They flowed down onto the ground around him and seemed to be constantly buffeted around by a furious wind emanating from himself. Long swathes of black linens wrap most of the exposed areas of the dark wizard. A single fiery eye and an hideously grinning mouth was all that could be seen of the face beneath the cloth.

He beckons them forward; seemingly interested to see the faces of those who would dare disturb him in his realm. “Ah … it is you who have disrupted my work. I shall make your deaths TERRIBLE!”

Moments later they are in combat. He seems a highly potent spell caster, blasting them with crackling lightning. “How can you hope to defy such power..? Is it not easier to give in to the madness?!!”

Several mirror images of himself shield him from the initial attacks. As each illusion is shattered, it splatters with a sickly splatter against one of the walls, the viscous fluid glowing ominously. After a moment the liquefied remains of the images seem to change their structure and a strange scene is displayed, as if through a window in the wall. From these newly derived portals flow a group of small black creatures with hateful glowing eyes.

With Sayer and Ogg thoroughly engaged and taking the brunt of this dark caster’s focus, Elbanor and the Hand plunge headlong into the portal with Akasha in tow. “If you seek to shoulder this burden .. YOU SHALL HAVE IT!”

They find themselves in a circular room with rough hewn stone walls and a round catwalk coming around the expanse. From three points in this walkway there are small bridges to a central platform, where who they recognize to be a much younger Nozzalthorp Frayfeather a middle aged wizard are arguing. They seem to not pay the intruders any heed, but there are several guards standing at attention around the room which turn and his horribly at the newcomers.

Outside, with Sayer dealt with and Ogg being overwhelmed by the critters, he throws a strange wall of force around himself and begins the incantations of a powerful spell. “The stars align; FEAR THEIR PORTENT!”

A cataclysmic crash blasts the chamber from above. It seems as if the dark wizard is calling down the fires from the sky above to obliterate the trespassers. “You shall pay for your invasion into my city!”

Within the portal, the Hand, Elbanor and Akasha fight their way toward the central platform. The gnome and the wizard seem to be at odds as to the discharge of the Surge Needle, a device that they had apparently build to tap into the ley line. The wizard, who they surmised to be a young Madrygos, seemed incredulous that Frayfeather would try to halt their long work so close to it’s completion.

Outside two more ruinous meteors blast through the building from the heavens, exposing this dungeon chamber to the hideous laughter of the insane magus. Sayer has fallen and Ogg stands alone against the deadly foe.

Within, the others charge the central platform, having dispatched the shadowy guards. As they reach the scene a bubble seems to pop and they are expelled from the memory. As they do so the wall of force drops from around the dark wizard, his eye turned to the black sky, a fiery red orb in it’s reflection.

The heroes brace for impact, running from the hole in the ceiling but ultimately are wrecked outright by the carnage. Ogg and Elbanor especially are severely injured.

There is only a pile of fine ash remaining of the black sorcerer, who they discover to be Madrygos himself, turned by some horrible black magic into one of the Black Guard. Among the ashes they find a curious bracer of powerful arcane energy. The Hand slips it on her wrist, as the group hobbles to out of the chambers. The streets were deathly calm as they descended back into the relative safety of the sewers and staggered back to the Black Star.

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Gale in the Gallows

The companions journey back from whence they came; up and out of the rancorous Asylum, through the eerily silent halls of the Garrison eventually coming back to the courtyard outside the medical billets. They climb the blockade at the vast doors and scale down the outer wall, soon slipping into the sewers and making their way to the Black Star Tavern.

After a short respite the companions come together to formulate their next move. They decide to seek out the Arcanum Severatum and its apparent abundance of powerful trinkets and magical artifacts. With the goal set they settle into a well earned rest, drifting apart to enjoy their down time in different ways.

Sayer the Swashbuckler and Thranka Suun fall in with a group of Boswell men. All seem eager to drink and gamble their circumstance away for a time. Sayer wakes after a time in the presence of Thranka. He notices that her vast tattoos seem to have intricate details and hidden details. When attempting to investigate further, he wakes her and she vacates the area quickly.

Akasha finds a comfortable place in the main room of the Black Star and crafts a musical hymn that bolsters the psyche of those who hear it. Many survivors who had been content alone in their chambers meander into the main room and lounge about in the warm light of her song.

The Hand of Acheron trades in a bawdy calendar illustration for additional helpings of soup. They warm themselves by the fire while affixed to Akasha’s music.

Elbanor spends much time crafting small batch concoctions in an effort to better ready his friends for the hardships to come.

On’ogg meditates on what he has learned during the recent trials… and perhaps tries to consider that which failed to completely grasp. He also cleans his sword quite a bit.

~

The companions come together again after their long rest. Before leaving the Black Star they go to Boswell. Apprising him of their circumstances, they restate their intent to assault the Tower at some point. He still seems non-committal, but has assisted in small ways that he was capable up to this point. Satisfied for the moment, the companions take their leave.

A small group of Boswell’s men stop the companions as the leave; it seems that Bartholomew and Constance had not checked in. They had been rather regular in their movements, so while their absence is not an absolute cause for concern, it is noteworthy.

~

After venturing through the underbelly of the city, meeting minimal resistance, the companions excavate themselves into a large open air park in the city. Looming just ahead of them some twenty yards is the Arcanum Severatum. A large building, well over fifty feet in height, the Severatum sits atop a set of wide, angled stairs. Huge pillars line the front of the building, which is as wide as a city block. An eerie green light emanates from deep within the cavernous maw of the entryway.

With a dreadful apprehension, the companions advance up the many steps leading to the Severatum. Coming to the open entrance, they see into a great hall lined with a dozen columns along each side reaching forward to the far end. At the far end seems to be some arcane structure; three craggy spires surround and pour a fel green power into a central, swirling vortex of the energy. Each spire stands at about ten feet high, like crooked skeletal fingers rising from the ground.

Within the whirlwind was suspended a humanoid figure, unrecognizable at this distance. Hand creeps along forward and notices a limp body on the far side of the area. Slipping forward, they recognize their associate in Constance, seeming to be completely unconscious. They also see that Bartholomew is the figure within this terrible energy.

Upon closer inspection, he seems to transition slightly between that which they recognize and a large creature of fang, claw and feather. The rest of the companions slip up to the area as well. In spite of their efforts, they seem unable to elicit a response from the mage.

Finding the spires to be deeply disturbing, they attempt to destroy them. As the first of the three breaks away, the bulk of is takes form into vaguely humanoid things and attacks the heroes. Hand is able to stave off death from Constance who slowly becomes aware of her surroundings after a time.

After a small melee, the companions destroy the rest of the first spire. Caught in the explosion, Bartholomew is thrown aside violently. With one of the spires destroyed, the balance of energy seemed to break apart in a blast of energy. The force of which seems to lessen some grip that contained his form. With a burst of bright light, the young mage is revealed to be an creature of celestial energy.

npc_-_bartholamew_revealed.jpg With some understanding, Ogg approaches the creature and attempts to pour his divine healing into him; but Bartholamew had suffered far too great a wound to recover. Constance stumbles over to him in confusion.

Apologizing for his deceit, he explains that the deceit was necessary to continue his interaction with this community unimpeded. He had found human civilization fascinating and hoped to learn more from such a charming young race. He also stated that his affection for her had not been a ruse, but an unexpected delight.

He had an understanding with the Madrygos, keeping his form secret to all but the Master of the Tower. It would be easier this way, they had decided. Madrygos had been a friend to him over the many years of his visiting Khalsbrad. That friendship had compelled him to the Arcanum Severatum, though Bartholamew could not divulge more information than that.

There was a moment shared between Constance and Bartholamew before he passed. The tiefling was overwhelmed by anguish and decided to sit vigil over her friend as his essence dispersed into the wind.

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Frayfeather's Prison

The companions begin their descent into the bowels of the Asylum. In the small chambers on the upper floors they found a scattered filing system for the dossiers of the interred. Soon they came across one marked as Nozzalthorp Frayfeather.

It seemed remarkable in it’s equivocal nature. He had been marked as criminally insane and imprisoned for seventeen years, though the file itself only contained one leaf of parchment. The crime itself only stated ‘disturbing the peace’; quite trivial. It did state that he was chambered in Cell Block F, so they continued their search with renewed vigor.

Deeper they sink, passing through cell blocks in horrendous states of decay. The sound of chains clanking and inhuman croaking wafts from many dark crevices. The smell alone served as a fierce deterrent against excessive investigation.

They eventually come to the area of the asylum where they expect to find Frayfeather. A great many cells line the floor below an expansive catwalk above. They descend from this walkway to the floor below.

The Hand notices that the ground below seems to dissolve all forms of magic. It ponders the use of such a force field for some time.

On’ogg smites down one of the vile, grasping creatures within the cell. It explodes in a flash of necrotic energy, leaving many more of the shambling horrors erupting in screams mingled with the clanking of chains.

Sayer and Akasha nimbly sidestep the rest of the cells, finding a quiet little gnome attempting to ignore as best he can the noise.

With some coaxing, they are able to get Frayfeather to converse with them. They learn that he has in fact chosen to be interred here, in an attempt to be near his finest and only creation; the Tower of Solastarum. Apparently, he and Master Madrygos had some sort of falling out during the final phases of the Tower’s construction.

Frayfeather had warned that the ley line in which they would be tapping should not be disturbed; that though it hold great power, there was an innate magic of ancient origin that they did not fully comprehend. He seemed content with staying in the cell until the companions apprised him fully of the situation outside. With the news of the Tower having fallen into another’s control, he felt compelled to assist.

After some effort in the form of a convoluted discussion and a narrow rope ladder, they extricate Frayfeather from his cell. With the master builder in tow, they fall back to the Black Star.

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