The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. (C.Y. 605)
Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Mirumoto Katsushiro, Half-dragon Samurai, Dragon Clan
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Our session began on the 4th of Wealsun, 1150 I.C.
The following day, the group boarded the Kitsune’s Pursuit, and spent two weeks sailing south to a small cove perhaps 50 miles from their true destination. The captain of the Pursuit, Daidoji Hinto, told them that he would try to await them there, but if discovered he might have to leave the cove. If he could, he would return by the 4th of the High Summer Interval; if he had not returned by then, it would be because he would never return.
So the group unloaded their mounts, and set off down the beach towards the pirate haven they’d been directed to investigate. That night, towards the end of the first watch, a group of over a dozen oni passed close past their encampment traveling south; trailing them, Kirigaya discovered a small box containing six bags of coarse powder that one of the oni had dropped on the beach. They returned to the campsite, but couldn’t identify the contents of the box.
During the middle of the third watch, Cortana was awakened by nightmares of the Fall of Argus, the original Draeni homeworld.
The following morning, the group set out to track down the oni troop that had passed them earlier, looking to give them a fight. After an hour’s travel, they found the body of one of the oni being tossed by the waves, after apparently having been murdered by his fellows. A check of his gear revealed an empty belt pouch that could have contained the box they’d found. Several more hours later, the finally located the oni’s camp, and after a brief strategy session, launched their ambush with a Fireball that burst amongst the tightest concentration of their foes.
As the battle began, several of the oni charged Cortana at a dead run, clearly intent on bringing down the wu jen who had attacked them. Several more surrounded Katsushiro’s horse as he charged into the fray, limiting his mobility. As the fight played itself out, it quickly became obvious that the party was outmatched; several were near death, none of the enemy had fallen, and Kirigaya had been forced to heal friend and foe alike just to give his allies any aid at all. With the death of his horse, Katsushiro knew that he could not escape, so he bade his companions to flee if they could, and reluctantly, flee they did. Katsushiro was captured by the oni, who after a brief rest, bore his bound form with them ever southwards towards the pirate stronghold that was obviously their final destination as well.
Reasoning that the oni had killed their own companion over the loss of the box they’d found, Cortana proposed they they use it to bargain for Katsushiro’s life BEFORE they reached the pirates, where his fate would doubtless be grim. As it happened, the oni proved to be willing to hear her out, and they did agree to return the half-dragon in exchange for the box, but for his ‘treasures’, they wanted Kirigaya’s magic to heal them further. A deal was struck, and once Cortana had set herself far afield, the exchange went exactly as agreed to the surprise of many.
During his captivity, Katsushiro bore verbal insults, but was not physically molested further. His gear was treated respectfully, though the two ribbons he’d received as gifts from Kami were both untied, costing him the benefit of the feats they’d granted. He felt it very likely that his captors would have attempted to ransom him, had they made it back to the city. His captors had spoken the words Arfa Dumor quite often, and he assumed that was the name of the place they were going.
Towards dusk, the party finally made it to the pirate camp, which proved to be a vast, ruined city. Perhaps 30 ships graced her harbor, half of which were clearly flying the colors of the Mantis, and another half of which were clearly crewed by the red-skinned folk of Astariim. The rest were clearly foreign, being unfamiliar in design and purpose (but none bore the markings of Granbretan). As the evening wore on, they made their way towards the docks, unchallenged by anyone.
Plying the locals and sailors with drink, they quickly learned many things. Business was booming. Slaves (human, uz, wayang and others) were plentiful, a new supply of drugs were expected by midday next, life was good. A list of ships and captains were easily obtained. But it was also quickly obvious that the scale of this operation was beyond the means of 5 adventurers to overturn. The decision was made to return to the cove where Captain Daidoji was hopefully awaiting them, and return with what they’d learned.
The following morning, as they made their way out of town through the ruined streets, they found themselves in a wide plaza that piqued their interest. At the center of the open area, a low stone platform stood, perhaps 30’ in diameter. At it’s center lay a depression, perhaps 8’ across, half full of gravel and fist-sized chunks of some type of stone that none of them could readily identify. Near the depression stood a stone cylinder, perhaps 3’ in height, with a concave depression in it’s top. Detect Magic revealed that the chunks of stone still radiated magic very faintly, so they collected some. While the bulk of the party explored the ruined building on the periphery of the plaza, Cortana attempted to sketch the platform, taking etchings of the words engraved around the inner depression (Welcome to Arfa Dumor) and ( Dragarea City) on the opposite side.
While doing her sketch, Cortana was increasingly feeling that she was being watched. Setting aside her work for the moment, she and Zeshyn eventually cornered an escaped wayang slave named Sak. While Sak couldn’t provide them with any information about the platform, he had some pretty alarming information that he could share. The “Big Boss” of Arfa Dumor was named Durklemes, and from his description was an eredar, which was both a type of demon and a corrupted representative of the same race as Cortana, the draeni.
As it turned out, Durklemes’ presence on Liga pre-dated the arrival of the Draeni by almost a decade, a fact that she found troubling. She vaguely remembered a Durklemes who had been a minor lieutenant of Archimonde, one of the main leaders of the eredar in the history of her people, meaning that if they were the same being, he was powerful indeed. Why he had not Gated in more of his kind, or apparently summoned any other members of the Burning Legion was also worrisome.
Rather than flee the city immediately, they remained for several more days, taking an even more careful look around. Durklemes himself was spotted several times, angrily storming about the sections of the city nearest the docks, where most of the buildings had been restored to their former glory. More public works projects could be spotted also, where ruins were being remade by slaves under the watchful eyes of Astariim overseers. Buildings were being not merely rebuilt, but wherever possible, their original scrollwork, murals, and decorations were also being put right. Eventually, though, the group decided that certainly by now word of their fight on the beach must have reached Durklemes’ ears, which might explain his raging behavior when outside his fortress. Better to return with what they knew.
They arrived at their rendezvous on the 26th, but the Pursuit was absent. It did, however, arrive on schedule the morning of the 4th, as promised, though poor winds and contrary currents meant that it was the 16th of Reaping before they arrived once more in Otosan Uichi. Along the way, Cortana remembered two things; they’d met emissaries of the Dragaeran Empire at the diplomatic fete in Dor-Erthenos, and that at a family gathering with Na-Helena, one of her older brothers, Jo-Namur had spoken of a transportation network he’d been investigating called the Celestial Road, that used large disks and orbs of obsidian to teleport travelers and goods across vast distances.
They reported their findings to Minister Seppun, and Katsishiro sent word to his father, Nakadai, both to see if he had any more information and to warn him as well to the new danger they’d uncovered. He was duly concerned about their findings, and promised to make his own investigations, as well. Word was sent to the huchard, asking for an interview with Jo-Namur, but it took nearly two more weeks for him to arrive.
While they waited, Cortana got Sak a position to be trained as a goji, one of the guides for dignitaries in the Imperial City.
When Jo-Namur finally arrived on Liga, it was the 1st of Goodmonth. After examining the sketches Cortana had made, and examining the chunks of obsidian they’d brought along, he could confirm only that they seemed very like the Celestial Road he’d recently surveyed. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that their impression that the huchard were experts in such magical engineering were exposed as false; while Jo-Namur was certainly researching such techniques, he, himself (and his people as a whole) had no such system in place. He theorized that when the moon had been thrown forward in time, other kinsmen of his researching similar techniques had been stranded in the past, and that eventually, they had perfected what was to him only a theory (given that the Irda of Krynn are popularly (if erroneously) credited with having built the original Celestial Road, he might have the truth of the matter. After all, all modern giants were believed to be the corrupted/devolved descendants of such stranded outposts of the huchard).
He also mentions that it’s just as well the gateway in question was destroyed, as Dragaera City was apparently obliterated around 1400 years ago in an event known as Adron’s Disaster; where the city once stood is now referred to by the locals as the ‘Sea of Chaos’, a vast swath of roiling arcane and chaos energy that seems content to stay where it is… thus far. They have learned to tap it to fuel ‘Imperial Sorcery’ for their own purposes. Cortana grew quite concerned that if the gateway were somehow reopened, that Durklemes might have access to that power himself…
As we ended for the evening, plans were being made, and it was the 2nd of Goodmonth, 1150 I.C.