Chornalth Adventures - Liga (Current: Emerald & Diamond)

Chapter Three, Session 26: Slave City

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer)/Rogue, Unicorn Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan
Raen d’Arth, Human Magus
and Maerk the Red, Kakaran (Warforged) NPC Cleric of Wee Jas.

Our session began on the 25th of Goodmonth, 1151 I.C.

As they began planning their exit from Lux, it occurred to several members of the party that perhaps delivering the Esoterica into the hands of the dakon was maybe not the best idea (as they were known to be retreating into the mountains in the face of Olman advances, and that the Olman themselves were under pressure from the Scarlet Brotherhood along the coast. Several pushed to visit Tenser first, to see what advice he could offer about making the book safe in their hands. Golkar offered no obvious objections, but it was quickly noticed that when ever Raen took his turn piloting the Wren, their coarse was obviously more north-westerly (towards the Amedio and the dakon) than north-easterly towards the City of Greyhawk and Tenser’s fortress.

Relieved of flight duty, Raen could be seen noticeably sulking, but it would be several more days before Zeshyn, using his sextant to check their course, would notice that their course in general now tended more NW than NE, and when he argued with Ozawa that they were off course, it eventually prompted Cortana to confront Golkar about it, and he reminded her that his deal with Raen said that he would be taken home, not to the supposed archmage who had successfully been imprisoning the other copies of the Esoterica and scattering them across Chornalth. It would take nearly an hour of argument before Golkar would relent to visiting Tenser, but saying that he would not permit himself to be carried within Tenser’s abode, lest he find himself unable to escape again.

Once at Tenser’s fortress, the Wren positioned itself a few hundred yards away and refused to be moved any further. Tenser came out and attempted to reason with Golkar that he would be better kept away from his people, who would only come to harm should Durklemes and his allies learn where he had been taken. While this discussion was being held below deck, one of the two pilots assigned to the Wren called down that something had appeared above the ship, a luminescent saucer-shape that hung silently 50’ above the Wren. Once the group cam eup to see, they were startled by a short grey humanoid dressed in some type of advanced armor that simply materialized on the deck along side of them that Tenser, at least, recognized as a fraal.

The fraal, who never gave his name, proceeded to repeat, mostly, the same debate with Golkar that Tenser had had, but with oddly less and less resistance. At one point Kasumi caught the creature slyly winking at her as he brought Golkar around to his point of view, offering the Esoterica a “safe place, one that is not a prison, but one where nobody will find you or try to use you”. Golkar eventually agrees, and the fraal takes the Esoterica aboard his craft and vanishes.

Tenser takes his leave, explaining that while what the party has concerned itself with is important, it is just one of many threats that he has involved himself in dealing with to one degree or another, and that he has other business to attend to. The group thanks hm and returns to Rokugan to report back to Minister Seppun.

[End of Chapter Three]

On their return to Otosan Uichi, they are brought up to date on what has transpired while they were away. The Locust/Crane/Phoenix war has fizzled out, thanks in part to advisors lent by the huchard, who have furthermore agreed to lend advisors to all the individual daiymos of the clans, including Lion & Dragon (both of whom have been ordered to report to Otosan Uichi for negotiations). According to the Minister’s agent in Arfa Dumor, one of Durklemes’ four draeni consorts is expecting a child, but the failure of the eleti to hang on to the copy of the Esoterica they held caused Durklemes to execute all of their ambassadors except the most senior.

Furthermore, he has urged Fu Leng to cede the ruined city of Gathrol (200 miles to the southwest of the Great Wall) to the Granbretanians, so that they might study their methods of mass-producing magic items in the interest of learning the process for themselves. For his part, Minister Seppun would like the party to scout the ruins to see what the Granbretanians are up to, and assess their strength of numbers. The party agrees to do so, flying aboard the Wren to the Wall, and then taking horses the rest of the way south.

From the outskirts, they can see that the Granbretanians have erected a metal tower 100’ tall near the center of the ruins, to which is tethered one of their cigar-shaped iron airships. Smoke pours from several points in the ruins, or perhaps what might be dust or ash. The party quickly overcomes a lone soldier wearing a Hound mask, one who is leading a patrol of about 10 slaves (mainly Nezumi but with several humans) on a patrol/hunt around the outskirts. From the soldier they find an aerial map of the ruins, where the city has been divided into sections. The slaves all tell the same tale: about six weeks ago, three of the iron airships attacked the “city” (though mostly in ruins, it had a population of perhaps a thousand, mainly centered around fishing the river that ran past the city’s southern flank).

Most local warriors killed in first night, the rest of the population cowed into submission. Men and women divided, human women the officers wanted for themselves kept, the rest tossed back and the groups divided again, this time into those with useful skills/crafts and those without. Skilled laborers allowed to continue practicing their crafts, the rest either sent to clear lands across the river for a larger agricultural output, the rest used as general labor in rebuilding the city/hunting for meat on the outskirts like they had been. In addition to the Hound-masks, other Beast Orders present in the city were the Boars, the Foxes (who were overseeing the farms), Ferrets, and a few Serpents and Ants.

As to military strength, most knew only that three airships had originally arrived, two more arrived to reinforce/replace them, and that every two weeks two airships sailed off west to be replaced soon after (making the airship total three in the region at any one time. None had any idea why only one vessel was currently present.

Investigating the farms on the far side of the river revealed that they were mainly clear-cutting the forest that grew there, and dragging most of the trees to a metal shed that took trees on one end, vomited copious sawdust out of its sides, and belched finished boards out the other. Fishing boats could be seen leaving the docks without any Granbretanians aboard, though they remain omnipresent on the docks. As far as their cadre of freed slaves went, some wanted to flee the region, warning other villages that the Beasts would soon set their sights on them for slaves, a few wanted to return to the city to try and flee with their loved ones, but two seemed resigned to the new state of affairs, sullen, but arguing that things were actually better since the Granbretanians had arrived.

Figuring that starting a slave revolt would be difficult at best, the party returned to Otosan Uichi at their best speed, and brought Minister Seppun up to date on what they’d seen/learned. He bade the group to abide for a few days while he rallied support, and two days later called them to a conference with two leading generals from Clan Crab and a pair of huchard advisors. For their part, Clan Crab pledged 100 samurai and an equal number of soldiers to lead an assault on Gathrol, the huchard pledged four of their airships to transport the troops into position. The party wanted to use potions of Invisibility and Fly to help assault the tower and scuttle the airship, at the very least crashing it if they couldn’t learn to fly it themselves.

On the 19th of Ready’reat, the airships began landing their troops, and the party began their assault of the tower. As the battle raged in the city below, the group slowly chewed their way through the Boars guarding their airship. The Granbretanian’s flamelances were deadly, particularly because nobody warned the newer members of the group about them, so Maerk was working overtime to keep everyone conscious as the fight progressed.

As we ended for the evening, the party held the gondola of the airship, but a few Boar soldiers remained, trapped in a Spiked Pit Cortana had trapped them in after their massed fire nearly killed her. It is the 19th of Ready’reat, 1151 I.C.

1200 xp

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Chapter Three, Session 25: Out of Light, Into Darkness

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer)/Rogue, Unicorn Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan
Raen d’Arth, Human Magus
and Maerk the Red, Kakaran (Warforged) NPC Cleric of Wee Jas.

Our session began on the 2nd of Richfest, 1151 I.C.

Three days after their return to Dulstrand, the portal back to Sunela opened, and the party returned to Fol Birin. Gelesta Folfan awaited them, and congratulated them for recovering the Esoterica, but still had reservations about the book falling into foreign hands. So when the group returned to Greyhawk (and thence to Tenser’s keep) she accompanied them to meet Tenser and take his measure, as well as that of Greykin, once he arrived to take possession of the book.

Amid these discussions, the group asked Tenser to return them home via Teleport, which he did, so that they might return Kirigaya’s remains and possessions to his family, as well as report in to Minister Seppun. Raen & Maerk were given quarters near the rest of the group, but largely excluded from the debriefings.

Current events in the empire stood as follows: the wars between the Dragon & the Lion still raged, as did the conflicts between Clans Crane & Phoenix (Clan Locust had now also been drawn into this fight, as well). In addition, refugees from settlements beyond the southern wall were petitioning for admission as well, as bands of oni had begun burning them out. As predicted by the spirit “Munil” who had briefly possessed Ozawa near the [[Chapter One, Session 04: The Claw of Fu Leng | Claw of Fu Leng]], his elder brother, Ling, had recently died, and his younger sister, Dou, had stepped in to become the heir-apparent of the family. Katsushiro had risen high in his clan’s military, but by all reports, Durklemes appeared to have turned his father, Nakadai, to his cause, as agents planted in Arfa Dumor reported seeing the dragon free on the streets of the city, often in the company of other members of Durklemes inner circle (this information was being kept from Katsushiro).

The huchard had deepened their presence in the Empire, and had given several of their ley-line powered airship to Rokugan, in addition to several more that had been sent to aid in the empire’s defense (but crewed by the giants themselves). If the party so desired, one such vessel would be made available to them for their use, as the Minister considered their mission important enough to warrant such.

Finally, it had been reported that the eleti had located the final copy of the Esoterica and were believed to have taken it back to their homeland, bartering with Durklemes for better terms before surrendering it. Hearing this, the party decides to return to Tenser, hoping he has more information on the homeland of the eleti. At their request, Minister Seppun once more has one of the wu jen at his disposal Teleport the party back to Greyhawk.

For his part, Tenser tells the party what he knows, which isn’t a lot. He knows that Philintis lies on the south-eastern coast of Kanos, the southern continent, and that it is not well-liked by it’s neighbors. He further knows that politically, it’s main opponent is the nation of Luminarch, with lies to it’s west, which is mainly the domain of a race of beings with strong ties to the Positive Material Plane. The people there might know more of their ancient enemies than he.

s-kanos.JPG

Armed with this information, the party once more has Tenser Teleport them back to Otosan Uichi, where they take Minister Seppun up on his offer of the flying ship, the Wren. Each member of the party (as well as two recent graduates of the new “flight school” the giants had helped set up) would be attuned to the ship in order to pilot it. Shortly thereafter, the reinforced party set out aboard the Wren for the southern continent.

720X720-dragon-hunting-airship.jpg

Arriving in the port town of Azena on the 13th of Goodmonth, the party is referred to the capital, Lux, where they soon meet Xellim Hassur, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Hearing their tale, he agrees to aid them, but that it will take time to learn the probable location of the book. On the 1st of Harvester, they are once more summoned to his office where he tells them that the Esoterica is reportedly being held in the Dissolute Library is Mor’Arete, the capital of Philintis. In addition to the eleti themselves, several emissaries of the Va have been admitted to view the book. Hassur knows many legends regarding the Va, and tells the party that they were supposedly the first of the mortal races created by the gods, but considered a failure because they refused to bow down or serve; before the gods could destroy them and start anew, several fled and had supposedly hidden themselves away, to plot the downfall of the gods. – If anything, they were regarded as being worse than the eleti.

The party brainstorms a plan by which Cortana will disguise herself as an eredar, and pretend that she and her party are emissaries of Durklemes, come to claim the book. When asked to cast a Divination to assess the likelihood of success, the answer Wee Jas provides is simply “Be careful what masks you wear, lest they become your heart”. Their flight to Mor’Arete takes a week, and on the 21st they arrive in the city and are soon walking into the Dissolute Library. Led to the book by an eleti who introduced himself only as Curator, they passed numerous traps both magical and mundane, easily as secure as those of Tenser or Kelben. In the Esoterica’s chamber itself, numerous traps lay waiting, as well as hidden doors that doubtless held other guardians.

For his part, the Curator seemed surprised that Durklemes had sent a party to collect the book, as he maintained that negotiations were ongoing. He allowed the party to see the book, even allowing Raen to approach it to assess it’s bindings. Raen, for his part, opened his mind to the book and made contact with it’s Guardian, Golkar of the Dakon. When asked his opinion of his current state, Golkar indicated that he was tired of cages and zoos, and that given his druthers, he’d want his freedom and to be returned to his ancestral lands. Fearing that having left the chamber were the book was being kept that they might not be readmitted, Raen allowed the guardian to possess him, and what followed was a particularly violent cut-scene as Raen-Golkar and the rest of the party fought their way free of the Library.

Just before leaving the library, however, a trio of the Men of Va were seen, one of whom smiled at Raen-Golkar with deep amusement. As they made no move to oppose the party, however, the group continued to smash their way to the docks, where they boarded the Wren and returned to Lux at their top speed, pursued briefly by several dragon-riders. As we ended for the evening, the party was preparing to make the journey to the Amedio and the Hellfurnaces, where the last redoubts of Golkar’s people were said to dwell…

It is the 25th of Goodmonth, 1151 I.C.

2000 xp

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Chapter Three, Session 24: That Makes Three

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer)/Rogue, Unicorn Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan
and introducing: Raen d’Arth, Human Magus
and Maerk the Red, Kakaran (Warforged) NPC Cleric of Wee Jas.

Our session began on the 5th of Wealsun, 1151 I.C.

After several more rounds of combat, Kasumi spends a Hero Point and uses her Kyton Ring to ensnare the dragon’s wings and pull it down to the ground, where she quickly slaughters it. Once the dragon falls, his lizardfolk servants flee, leaving the party free reign to loot the castle and his hoard. In the search of the keep, the party finds Raen & Maerk prisoners in the catacombs beneath the south tower, frees them, and offers to allow them to join their quest against the followers of Wastri. Over the next week, Maerk tells the group of his quest to find the Hammer of the Lifebringer, a minor artifact to Jascar that he has been following visions to locate. As he believes it is in the hands of Wastri’s priesthood, he’s only too happy to tag along.

After another week of making their way through the Vast Swamp, they finally reach their goal. Surveillance reveals vigilant guards, and what might be a hidden entrance to the keep located underwater in the swamp surrounding the temple. Ozawa attempts to make his way to scout it, but is spotted. Cortana tries later, aided by stealth and Invisibility, and discovers a large pipe leading out of the temple’s catacombs wide enough for even the kakaran to traverse.

After discussing several plans for entering the temple, their guide, Glimm, suggests that with enough of a bribe, a nearby tribe might be willing to distract and engage the temple’s forces while they steal away inside and find their goal (as all of the local tribes hate Wastri and his minions). A deal is struck, and a little before dusk on the following day, the marsh folk begin taunting the guards, eventually causing a major portion of them to emerge from the temple to pursue them.

The party enters the temple via the hidden underwater entrance, defeats a chuul set to guard the way to it, and eventually find the Esoterica they sought (the one containing Rajarikit, to their mild surprise) who is apparently counseling a quartet of priests in the defense of the temple. As the party eliminates the priests one by one, it quickly becomes obvious that while Rajarikit is appearing to aid the priesthood, in reality she’s pulling her punches, obviously eager for the priesthood to lose. Once the priests are defeated, they quickly ransack the room where the Esoterica lay, find Maerk’s fabled Hammer, and beat a hasty retreat back the way they came.

As we ended for the evening, the party has returned to Dulstrand, and is preparing to return to Sunela when the priestesses there open the way back. It is the 2nd of Richfest, 1151 I.C.

8500 xp

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Chapter Three, Session 23: You Have Converted Him to a Fine Mist

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan

Our session began on the 3rd of Wealsun, 1151 I.C.

We resumed the battle against the chuul, who were eventually slain by the party, even the one who tried running away was overtaken and slaughtered. The following day the party crossed the lands of one tribes they knew they would have to bribe their way past, who informed them that the lands beyond their territory, where once had stood another tribe (that the party expected to bribe their way past) had been overrun by a tribe of lizardfolk claiming to serve Golamyyr the Black, a dragon who had supposedly enslaved the tribe for his defense and set up shop. Questioning the tribe about the dragon was fruitless to determine it’s size or age, as it had only been seen flying overhead.

Asking Glimm how long it would take to circumnavigate the area controlled by the dragon proved to be too much of a detour, as it would put them behind the timeline they’d arranged with the priestesses of Wee Jas at Fol Birin to bring them back to Sunela. Besides, it’s a dragon… nothing ventured, nothing gained…

Later that night, the party’s camp was attacked by a force of seven lizardfolk, two of which surrendered to the party after the defeat of their raiding party. The two lizardfolk revealed that Golamyyr had enslaved their village, slain their elders, and taken several of their choicest females as concubines; and no, he could not assume a humanoid form, as their cries of terror and pain could be heard easily by all. They also mentioned that the tribe had taken several members of a previous group of adventurers prisoner, awaiting the dragon’s decision on what to do with them.

Armed with this news, the party was now even more determined to kill the dragon, hoping to release the lizardfolk from his control as well as rescue the prisoners. The following morning, after leaving the two prisoners tied up in such a way that they could eventually free themselves, the party burned most of their store of potions and scrolls in preparation for the fight to come.

Kasumi, under the effect of Enlarge Person (and other spells), was now easily tall enough to reach one of the guards on one of the ruined keep’s towers, critting him and hurling his broken body down and away with a single strike. But the tide of battle shifted when the dragon emerged from the inner keep and breathed it’s acid breath on him and Kirigaya, who failed his save and was killed outright by the breath weapon. Cortana cast a Dispel Magic on the dragon, which removed the Displacement from a potion it had drank, but after it flew up out of reach it cast Mage Armor on itself to make it harder to hit (again). It breathed a second time of Kasumi, but she persevered.

As we broke for the evening, Ozawa had entered the central keep, hoping that the dragon would perceive a threat to it’s hoard and return, and the party was making plans for how they could ground the dragon before it could breath again….

It is the 5th of Wealsun, 1151 I.C.

5060 xp.

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Chapter Three, Session 22: Shuttlecocks R Us

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan

Our session began on the 25th of Readying, 1151 I.C.

As we rejoined our heroes, they faced only two of the eleti in the courtyard, two more having fled. Between the party and the summoned Chaaor, they made quick work of them. Cortana dismissed her Spiked Pit, allowing Ozawa to speed out to catch up with the eleti warrior fleeing on foot, and when Zeshyn added his arrows to the mix, said warrior quickly fell. The warlock had already made his escape, however.

Searching the bodies, the group recovered two of the missing pages, that identified a noble djinn, Rajarikit, as one of the guardians enslaved by the Ebonwand. By cross-referencing the name, they eventually discovered that this enslavement was one of the points of contention that would lead to conflict between the Suloise Empire and the Bakluni.

The priestesses of Syrul thanked the party for their assistance, and assured them that when the missing page was recovered, they would be allowed to make a copy of it. The priestesses reported that the escaped warlock had protected himself from detection, but that he was alone, and that it would amuse the priestesses to notify the Knights of the Hammer to his presence abroad in their lands.

During the eight days it took for the warlock to be captured, Kirigaya, Zeshyn, and Kasumi had gear enchanted. When word reached the Sisterhood, the party was permitted to be their representatives to recover the missing page and to question the captive, who had made it to the Fol Birin in the province of Sunela to the east. Said journey took the better part of a month, and when they arrived at Castle Sunet, the fortress that shared the island where Fol Birin stood, they met with Ser Elentos Kaldir, the Knight-Captain of Jascar who commanded the post. He returned to them the final page, revealing that the final book was the prison of a dakon arcanist named Golkar.

In questioning Gothurmof, the eleti warlock, they learned that they, like the party, sought the books, only that they wished to use them to enter into an alliance with Durklemes. The eleti apparently knew of the Starfall, and, because they had captured a being known as a fraal, who had knowledge of another world where such an event had happened, welcomed the destruction of the living and the tide of necromantic energies that would be released by such an event. Furthermore, the eleti believed that Durklemes himself didn’t fully understand what the event would entail, or perhaps he felt that he could somehow turn it to his own advantage in some long-range power play between himself and Fu Leng. Either way, the eleti felt that the event would be to their advantage, so they would do whatever they must to ensure it happened.

After questioning Gothurmof, the party made the return trip to Kalbriis, only to realize once they arrived that the warlock must have fled to Fol Birin for a reason, and that that reason was likely that the standing stones could be used as portals to other places. Checking the Sisterhood’s library, they learned that the site was considered sacred to Wee Jas, and that during the Rain of Colorless Fire, many lesser mages had used the site to escape the Empire. So the party set out once more for Fol Birin, but stopped along the way at the Grand Temple of We Jas in Shatura.

The High Priestess of the temple, Dame Gelesta Folfan, had little knowledge of the Ebonwand Society, but a passing knowledge of the Starstone Prophesy, Wee Jas being a patron to witches, which many hags qualified as. After spending the evening grilling Cortana for everything she knew of the Ebonwand and their grimoires, she agreed to assist them with traversing the dolmen of Fol Birin (though she obviously took a dim view of artifacts of Suloise origin being given over to foreign mages); while she did not know of Tenser, Mordenkainen was familiar to her, and she at least took heart that the tomes were not in the hands of the Circle of Eight.

Discussing their next move, the party felt they had two choices. While the Bakluni were no more, their lands had been inherited by nomads known as the Paynim, who still held close ties with the genies, and who might have knowledge of Rajarikit and her ultimate disposition. Kirigaya had discovered that the demigod Wastri had no outer planar presence, but instead held court in the Vast Swamp in the south-eastern Flanaess.

A week later, accompanied by several acolytes of Wee Jas, the party stood once more among the dolmen of Fol Birin, and were Teleported thenceforth to Dulstrand, a city on the outskirts of the Vast Swamp. The acolytes would hold open the gateway for seven days, awaiting news of how long their mission would take. Once in the city (entrance to which required exorbitant bribes), they located a sage named Tolhik Jurn, who brought them up to speed on Wastri, his cult, and the general view the locals held of it (and him). He furthermore recommended a guide (after charging a steep ’finder’s fee’, of course) by the name of Fogur Glimm as the most experienced, and best capable of guiding them through the Vast Swamp.

Actually locating Glimm took some doing, but once found he agreed to guide them for the low, low cost of a mere 1500 gold (and, he warned, the party should keep an equal amount on hand for bribes to the various tribes whose lands they would be crossing in their journey). Though said bribes worked well enough for the first half of the journey, on the night of the 3rd of Wealsun, their camp was attacked by six chuul, who rose up out of the swamp. As we broke for the evening, Kirigaya had been paralyzed by the chuul (who was slain soon after by Kasumi), Glimm, Ozawa, and Kasumi were all grappled by the chuul, and the battle was raging.

It is the third of Wealsun, 1151 I.C.

5000xp

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Chapter Three, Session 21: The Bald & the Beautiful

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan

Our session began on the 27th of Fireseek, 1151 I.C.

Arriving at the local Temple of Bralm the following day, the party made their inquiries about the Church of Sheler, but the local priestesses have little information. After Communing with their goddess, the priestess on duty informs the party that while none of the temples dedicated to the mystery cult remain, the temple where the whole origin of the Crown Wars erupted still exists in the mountains outside the city of Kalbriis (said temple never having been officially a temple dedicated to Sheler, but merely one honoring Syrul.

Three weeks of travel by sea, river, and horses finds them in Kalbriis, where they seek out a sage specializing in the time of the Crown Wars, namely Zassar Feneray. While awaiting admittance to the sage’s sanctum, Ozawa and Kirigaya spot a mysterious robed figure watching them from the open-air restaurant across the street.

Once inside, they spend many hours learning the history of the Crown Wars, the rise and fall of the Church of Sheler, and that despite the Shelerites being a fusion of three priesthoods, there were reportedly four members of it’s ruling council, three of whom are known by name (names corresponding to known priestesses of Beltar, Bralm, & Syrul) and the last of which almost nothing is known. Having no further data to share, Zassar refers them to the Sisterhood of the Ebony Mists, whose libraries are said to be quite extensive (and more importantly, open to the public).

The following day they arrive in the small village that has cropped up in the shadow of the Sisterhood’s redoubt, and secure rooms. During the middle watch, soft sounds are heard outside the door to their rooms, and they discover one of the black-robed figures floating silently out an open window at the end of the hall. The figure escaped, but while on their way downstairs to search the courtyard outside for clues, they discover the innkeeper’s daughter frozen with fear in the common room. She describes the figure as “not having had a face, only bone and cruel, cruel eyes”, causing the party to realize that these robed figures are probably the eleti they had heard about while visiting Shatura the previous month. On their search of the courtyard, hoof-prints are found where the eleti’s mount had been spotted, but it was clear that the mount had the ability to fly, as said prints were limited to a small area where it had been waiting.

The following morning they visited the sanctuary, and were admitted to the library. Inside, they quickly spotted two more black-robed figures already perusing a stack of books, one of which Cortana saw was called “Genesis of the Derro”, the others concerning histories in and around the years leading up to the Crown Wars. When Cortana asked the pair to borrow the book, they told her that she would be welcome to it when they were finished with it, but not before.

Meanwhile, the others either cased the library or searched for books on their own. Kirigaya found a series of “Tragedies” the noted the rise and fall of several notable imperial-era mages, one who he recognized as being the father of Sia Draja and another as having been the summoner who had a Shivarran as an eidolon.

When Cortana finally took possession of the book, she discovered several pages had been deftly sliced from it, and alerted the priestesses that the eleti were attempting to escape with them. As the eleti fought the sisters in the halls, the invisible members of their party revealed themselves, and our band of adventurers joined the priestesses in fighting the opposing band in the outer yard.

Cortana used her Spiked Pit to foil the eleti who was outside the gates trying to raise the portcullis, after blasting him with a Ray of Enfeeblement Those caught inside the yard traded blows with the party, while the assembled sisters joined together to cast an invocation that would eventually summon a large, ape-like demon (a Chaaor). As we ended for the evening, the battle still raged, though the eleti’s warlock and the warrior outside the gate had fled. The eleti cleric and anti-paladin had fallen, as had the summoner’s eidolon, but the bard and the summoner remained, as did the hell-hounds the summoner had called and the demon, of course… It is the 25th of Readying, 1151 I.C.

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Chapter Three, Session 20: A Pirate's Life for Me!

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan

Our session began on the 15th of Fireseek, 1151 I.C.

As promised, Tenser Teleported the group directly to Shatura the following morning, practically on the steps of the Imperial College of the Arcane. They soon met with Dean DeMaltos (a suvoko), who informed them that they were the third group in as many weeks to have visited if not the College itself, certainly the city of Shatura in search of information about the Ebonwand Society. The first such group, coarse sailors/pirates said to have hailed from a distant island called Pan Tang (which Cortana recognized as one of the transplants that had manifested off the coast of the Flanaess five or six years ago. This group hadn’t actually come all the way to Shatura, but had been rumored to have made port in Mulaantis and been asking questions seeking the priesthood of Syrul, and who had also been said to have mentioned the Ebonwand Society (perhaps in the belief that the Church of Sheler, which had triggered a civil war in the Empire a few centuries back had been in possession of one of the copies of the Esoterica during their reign).

The second were a delegation of eleti from the southern continent, who claimed that an evil mage dwelling on the fringes of the Suloise colony-state known as Fenasad had been causing trouble in the region, and that following rumors that she was a member of the Ebonwands, they had come north to learn what they could of that organization.

As far as the Esoterica itself was concerned, the only copy he had certain knowledge of was the one in Tenser’s possession. He suspected that the demigod Wastri may have owed his ascension in part to the rituals contained in the book, but if that were so it would doubtless be located on whatever demi-plane Wastri maintains as part of his divine nature. As to whether or not the Sheler had a copy, he can’t say, certainly none were recovered from any of their hidden redoubts when the cult fell to the Hammers of Jascar in 5531 S.D.

Eventually the group determined that their easiest course was to attempt to follow the pirates, and see what they knew or had learned. So the following day they traveled downriver to Mulaantis, and then took a trireme west to the port city of Nofuj in Osbyle. They quickly found The Drowned God’s Rebuke in port, and tracked her captain, Tars Flassad, to the Whelping Mermaid, a popular tavern near the docks.

Cortana and Kasumi bought the captain drinks and plumbed him for information, Cortana eventually agreeing to “tour his ship” with him in an effort to potentially seize the vessel while most of the crew was ashore and carousing. After a short battle, the ship was briefly theirs (the captain unconscious, the crew aboard dead or fled) and after judiciously bribing the shore patrol to allow them to escape, they carried the captain to a nearby warehouse to question him (and to divvy up the loot from his person and his cabin).

Captain Flassad had little concrete information, beyond a definite belief (fueled by his mission from his Theocrat back in Pan Tang) that the Cult of Sheler had indeed possessed a copy of the Esoterica. The group eventually released him naked into the streets to try and wrest control of his ship back from his first mate who had by this time almost certainly returned to the Rebuke and begun assuming command.

As we broke for the evening, the party was planning to make their own inquiries among the followers of Bralm, who had once been a part of the Cult of Sheler but who might now regret that association enough to be helpful. It is now the 26th of Fireseek, 1151 I.C.

3500 xp

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Chapter Three, Session 19: Esoterica Mehe found!
Mahood has left the building!

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. (C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan

Our session began on the 12th of Fireseek, 1151 I.C.

When we left our heroes, Kasumi had been paralyzed by a Gelatinous Slime, which was poised to engulf her. However, as the following round unfolded, Cortana trapped the slime with a Create Spiked Pit spell, while Zeshyn saved Kasumi from falling in on top of it. The slime was then slain by a Fireball.

When the group finally arrived at the juncture of roads where the Chapterhouse was known to have stood, their attempt to lift the manhole cover resulted in a cascade of dust pouring down into the sewer, choking Zeshyn & Kirigaya. Cortana finally used a Hydraulic Torrent to blast the cover free. Searching among the bits of stone nearby, they soon found a massive stone block guarding a stairway deeper into the earth.

After descending five sets of stairs leading downwards, the party encountered a djinn named Mahood, who told them that he guarded the entrance to the Hall of Challenges. After revealing that the gauntlet was not specific as to the number of participants, and also realizing that his contract to guard the entryway was technically long fulfilled, he departed. The portal leading to the first challenge was guarded by a scything blade trap, which Zeshyn found the hard way. Once beyond said portal, the first challenge consisted of combat, where the party faced an equal number of elk-headed warriors whose wounds regenerated. Eventually the party beat them into submission and used coup de grace to eliminate them.

The second challenge, behind a door guarded by lightning, proved to be a huge Cryosphinx, who faced with a far larger entourage than expected, informed the party that instead of just one riddle, they would face three to pass by his lair unmolested. His riddles consisted of the following:

What tastes better than it smells?
Answer: A tongue!

When you need me you throw me away. When you don’t need me you bring me back. What am I?
Answer: An anchor. (a hero point was spent for a hint on this question)

If you throw me out a window, you’ll leave a grieving wife. Bring me back, but through the door, and give someone a new life. What am I?
Answer: The letter N. (Remove the letter “n” from “window” and you get “widow.” Put the “n” in the word “door” and you get “donor.”) (a hero point was also spent for a hint on this question, but eventually the party just attacked the cryosphinx and slew it).

The next challenge was behind a portal trapped with cold, and consisted of a 1" high door set beneath a cupola where a strange, frigid black liquid slowly filled a silver bowl. After playing with the fluid for awhile, Kirigaya finally tried drinking some, and eventually shrank small enough to pass through the door, shortly followed by the rest of the group. In the chamber beyond the tiny door, they found the remains of the Society’s library, which had largely been destroyed by time and bookworms, though a scroll of Twilight Knife had survived, as had a copy of the Esoterica Ebonwand. The guardian of the book, Mehe, called out to Cortana telepathically, initially mistaking her for an eredar, but being positively delighted to learn she was in fact an uncorrupted draeni.

As had been arranged, the party then summoned Khelben, who took them to his tower on Toril. On learning that the book had an affinity for Cortana, he quickly ushered the group back to Tenser’s abode, officially banning Cortana from returning to his tower for so long as he held the Esoterica.

After further consultation with Tenser, it was determined that the only possible expert on the Society that Tenser was aware of would possibly be a mage by the name of Arcadar DeMaltos, the head of the Imperial College of the Arcane in Shatura, in the Sunelan Empire. It was also learned that the party as a whole, though Cortana more strongly, was now attuned somehow to the Esoterica books, such that the books themselves could not hide themselves from the party (though those who might be in possession of said books could do so if such were within their power).

As we ended for the evening, the group was preparing to be Teleported to Shatura, with a crystal that would permit them to be brought back to Tenser’s tower when they were finished there. It is the 14th of Fireseek, 1151 I.C.

2000 xp

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Chapter Three, Session 18: The Spire of Nothuul

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. (C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan

Our session began on the 21st of Sunsebb, 1150 I.C.

After spending a few days arranging for their Teleport to Greyhawk, Minister Seppun called the group back together and had a middle aged wu jen who called herself Garada Aliann send them on their way. However, instead of arriving in Greyhawk City, the party found themselves standing in a meadow. Climbing a nearby tree, Zeshyn spotted a city in the distance, which turned out to be Hardby, but the group quickly caught their bearings and soon were sailing the Selintarn northwards to Greyhawk.

Arriving in Greyhawk on the 24th, they quickly found the College of Magic and after being bounced about for awhile, were eventually directed to the office of Silvas Defari, the high elven Dean of the School of Conjuration in the College. After asking of their business with Tenser, he told them that it might take several days to get back to them, and recommended the nearby Inn of the Scarlet Basilisk. Seeking to learn new spells, Cortana applied to the college, and then leveraged that position to get herself and her companions access to the fruits of the School of Enchantment’s magical items (at a mere 20% markup).

It was not until the 27th that Dean Defari called them back to his office, stating that Tenser had agreed to meet with them at his fortress, which he gave them directions to. The party then hired a Rhennee barge to take them near Tenser’s fortress, where they were received by a woman calling herself Jallarzi Sallavarian, who escorted them within the keep and to Tenser.

Tenser, after hearing the party’s story, took them into the catacombs beneath his fortress, and into a pocket dimension where he kept the Esoteica Ebonwand. The party spent an hour or two questioning Sia Draja, the book’s guardian, before returning to the upper reaches with Tenser. While Sia was often vague with her answers, it was fairly clear that it was very likely that Durklemes sought the books for a couple of reasons. One, access to the rituals within would likely allow him to negate the limits placed upon him by Fu Leng, and might even allow him to reverse their roles.

Other facts learned was that Sia Draja had lain buried in the catacombs beneath Suendrako, the former capital of the Suel Imperium, until unearthed by a cloud giant of the Skath (not to be mistaken for the Glasatru, whose minions the party had already encountered). While she could not detect nor divine the locations of the three copies she knew of (one more than the number sought by Durklemes), she did know that one copy had been held in the city of Si’tair.

Consulting with Tenser, the party acquired maps of the ancient Imperium, and Tenser offered to Teleport them directly to Loftwick in the Yeomanry, so that they might use Slerotin’s Tunnel to enter the Sea of Dust. First, however, he would provide them with scrolls of the spells that the party who had wrested the Esoterica away from the Skath had used to contain it. Furthermore, he would find other mages of Good character to contain the volumes if the party could locate them.

Tenser offered to host the party at his fortress while he made inquiries, and on the 2nd of Needfest he introduced them to Khelben Blackstaff, a mage from Toril who had the means and will to aid them. He gifted the party (Ozawa specifically) with a ring by which he could be summoned once the book was secured. The following morning they departed for Loftwick.

Two weeks later, they emerged from Slerotin’s Tunnel into the town of Lerarrafat, where the first purposeful crops had been successfully planted in the wastes of the Sea of Dust since the Rain of Colorless Fire. After another week of travel, they spotted a tall tower in the distance, the only structure they’d seen since they’d departed Lerarrafat.

The tower stood 100’ tall, with a diameter of 60’. Zeshyn climbed to the top, figured out how to open the apex (though it took Kasumi & Ozawa’s muscles to actually leverage it open enough to be used). Inside the tower, they found a variety of skeletons on the topmost level, quite obviously the remains of meals had by something large. One floor of the tower was full of what Cortana identified as some type of power crystals, which had maybe powered the defenses that had allowed the tower to fend off the destructive Rain?

About halfway down into the tower, however, the party was confronted by an old woman who identified herself as M’sokinae, and that the land in which the tower stood had once been known as Nothuul. Despite the party’s suspicion that she might be a blue dragon (they’d found the corpse of a roc that had been electrocuted a few miles away from the tower), Cortana led the charge to attack her, managing to trap her human form in a conjured Spiked Pit.

This proved to be the high point of the combat from the party’s perspective. What emerged from the pit proved to be an Old Bronze Dragon, un-amused by their trespass but willing to allow them to live after putting an appropriate level of fear into their hearts. Two days later, following M’sokinae’s directions, they found the acres of debris that were all that remained of the city of Si’tair.

While trying to match the clear areas between piles of debris to roads marked on their maps, Kirigaya fell through the surface and into the sewers that had once run beneath the city. Said sewers, untouched by the Rain, still boasted placards set on the walls that named the streets, which, after casting Comprehend Languages, Cortana could read. The party soon found their way to the proper part of town where it was believed the Ebonwand had had their chapterhouse.

As we ended for the evening, Kasumi had almost walked into a Gelatinous Cube that had somehow survived the ages living in the sewer, and her paralyzed form is mere moments away from being engulfed by the cube… it is the 12th of Fireseek, 1151 I.C.

1000xp

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Chapter Three, Session 17: Swear by your power
You hit him so hard, you killed his body and his soul...

The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. (C.Y. 605)

Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan
and Special Guest Star: Ts’oth’ula, Flumph Binder

Our session began on the 27th of Ready’reat, 1150 I.C.

Continuing last week’s fight, the group slowly winnowed down the guards Chan Clar had, and after getting caught in a couple of traps, finally made their way into his inner sanctum and soon enough defeated him. Searching his HQ, they find an impressive amount of drugs, paperwork detailing his operation, and more importantly, his own personal notes on the recent summit he’d attended in Arfa Dumor.

Most specifically, that he’d been tasked with helping to locate copies of an ancient tome known as the Esoterica Ebonwand, an ancient tome that Durklemes had expressed intense interest in owning, not merely a copy of, but all the copies of. Among the notes was one entry where Chan Clar had clearly written off one such copy, noting that it was currently in the possession of a foreign wu jen of great power, Tenser, member/ex-member of something called the Circle of Eight, an organization that even Cortana had heard distant rumors of.

Ts’oth’ula knew a little more about the tomes, indicating that they had been the product of a mad archmage of the Suel, a people lost to a magical cataclysm over a millennia ago. Each tome was the soul-prison for a powerful mage that had wronged the author, serving now as guardian (and table of contents) for the tome in question.

When brought around for questioning, he demanded that Cortana swear on her power that the stated terms of his agreement with them would be carried out, i.e. that he would be allowed to live, and transported to Otosan Uichi to be “tried for his crimes” (knowing, as he did, that as a citizen of the Empire of Suhfang, he’d committed no crimes within the Emerald Empire…)

True to his bargain, he told the group of his impressions of Durklemes, mainly that the eredar was firmly in control of his city, feared but respected. His relationship with Fu Leng was less certain, that while compelled to loyalty, he was clearly hatching his own plans whenever his master’s compulsions allowed him free reign. He also stated that Durklemes was more interested in the weapons offered by the folk of Neulund than those of Granbretan. Ts’oth’ula, for his part, learning that the party would be traveling by ship, begged off, and said he would meet up with them in Otosan Uichi.

On their return journey to Otosan Uichi, they took passage aboard the Gentle Dahlia, a ship of the Crane Clan. About a day before making landfall, they were intercepted at sea by a ship flying the colors of the Lion Clan, that demanded the Dahlia allow them to board & search. Finding nothing , the ship departed. On reaching Otosan Uichi, the party quickly learned that two small clan wars had recently broken out, one between Lion & Dragon, and another between Crane & Phoenix.

Minister Seppun agreed with the party’s assessment that the timing of these wars was suspicious, as both started within days of the other. However, he mused, ferreting out the causes of the conflicts was outside the talents of the group (Kasumi having petitioned already that she be reassigned to this group, as her role in Tsonlai had clearly been exposed at this point)., but they might have more luck locating this Tenser and learning more about the Esoterica; he was certain that at least one of the wu jen he had access to knew the City of Greyhawk well enough to Teleport the party there, once she could be located.

As we ended for the evening, Minister Seppun released the group for a few days while the aforementioned wu jen was located and brought to Otosan Uichi. It is now the 18th of Sunsebb, 1150 I.C.

6500 xp

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