D&D5E - Stars of Destiny

A New Chapter
From the ashes of Winterhaven...

Winterhaven has fallen.

Unbeknownst to our heroes, a small army led by Irontooth, Ninaran, and some unknown sorcerer, attacked the village of Winterhaven, leaving it in ruin. When the party returned from the keep, the survivors of Winterhaven recounted the attack, describing it as a mixed force of goblins, kobolds, undead and horrific constructs of flesh. The attack left half of the village in ruins, with half of its inhabitants dead. Valthren’s tower was raided, and the wise old man taken away, as the attackers departed through some arcane portal.

At the same time, Nathan Baudelaire arrived at Winterhaven, hoping to visit his old friend, the dwarven blacksmith. Sadly, the dwarf had been butchered in the attack.

With the aid of the agents of the Kharnadas Consortium, who the party had encountered within the keep, they were able to track the portal far to the north. The party was eager for vengeance, so Corphus Grey, of the Consortium, offered to transport them there, in exchange for their assistance as guards of a caravan to the north. The party accepted the offer.

They were sent south, to the nearest port city, Weldenport, accompanied by Heckle and Wilfred Boggs. There, they met with another member of the Consortium, Madelaine Crow, the captain of the Jade Serpent.
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The Jade serpent appeared to be an ordinary boat, aside from two large turbines on both port and starboard sides of the aft.

As soon as the Jade Serpent had left the sight of Weldenport, a grumpy old man from the crew began a ritual, whilst the turbines speed up, propelling the boat further at speeds unlike any the party had ever seen. Before them opened up a portal, and the Jade Serpent left the mortal plane.

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They had entered the realm of Ixis, an ancient plane, long abandoned by whatever god had created it. The Consortium used it as a shortcut in their travels around the world. Traveling through Ixis would get the party to their destination in only two days, rather than two months by sea.

Ixis was a realm shrouded by mist, dark and haunting. The entire crew of the Jade Serpent was silent, on the lookout. Ixis was not without inhabitants, and according to Wilfred, they were little more than savages.

From the mist they emerged, the savage Ikaranth. Some of the party members were ready for the degenerate creatures, and sprung into action. Others were distracted, pondering whether or not a realm such as this had ever seen the light of Melora, and were caught off guard.

The battle that ensued was a dangerous one. Suneun and Tierriaryi, both, sustained serious wounds from the savage creatures. Nonetheless, they found valiantly, and worked together with Nathan, to fight back their assailants. Their attacks crushed the natural carapace armor of the Ikaranth, and blue fires drained from their corpses.

As quickly as it had started, the fight was over, and the waters were silent, once again.
As night fell, the Jade Serpent made berth in the ruins of an ancient fortress. Heckle insisted that it was a safe harbor.

In the dark of the night, Tierriaryi heard a voice, little more than a whisper calling to her, “Child of the Feywild…”

She followed the voice, and it led her to the skeletal remains of some long-forgotten traveler. On the skeleton’s upper arm was a simple black metal torc. As she picked up the torc, the voice whispered to her, “I will be your guide, and you shall ascend.”

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Delivery Complete
The party completes their journey to Vol-Thagoryx

Flight from Ixis

As dawn came in the plane of Ixis, just as mist-strewn and bleak as the day before, the party would set out on the Jade Serpent once again. By sunset, they would complete their journey through the foreign realm.

Before leaving, Tierriaryi had Belias inspect the artifact she had found the night before – the black metal arm torc. Belias was able to identify that the magic within the torc was of two varieties – magic of the Feywild, and magic of the Shadowfell. Inscribed on the torc was a phrase in a strange dialect of the Sylvan language, “Step through Fey, step into Shadow.” Belias felt confident that the magical properties of the torc were beneficial, with no malicious side-effects or curses.

For most of the day, the Jade Serpent’s course down the river was quiet. As their journey neared its end, however, a horrifying threat reared its head.

From the waters arose a gargantuan monstrosity – a massive serpentine beast with a chitinous carapace. With it came swarms of the beasts they had previously been assaulted by. The Jade Serpent activated it’s magically-powered turbines, barreling full-speed across the waters.

The party fought valiantly to defend the vessel, striking down their assailants with arrow, blade, tooth and claw. Fearing for the worst, Tierriaryi put on the mysterious artifact she’d found; through stealth and lethal strikes, she fought, but never saw the effects of the torc. Taking on the form of feral beasts, Faydra Withersnap pounced upon the attackers, and savagely tore them apart. In a moment of heroism, Nathan fired a magic-infused arrow into the gaping maw of their pursuer, slowing it down and buying them the time they needed to escape. As the great monstrosity terrorized the small vessel, nearly slaying Nathan with its massive scythe-like talons, the portal opened, and the Jade Serpent left the horrific plane of Ixis behind.

Arrival in Vol-Thagoryx

A blast of chill air hit the party as they found themselves in the bay of a great port city, Vol-Thagoryx. A light snow fell as the Jade Serpent sailed into port. The boat docked at a port-side warehouse belonging to the local House Gardelaine. The Jade Serpent was greeted by Lady Anissa Gardelaine and her son, Mortimer. It was revealed that Lady Gardelaine was the client who had ordered the armaments that the Jade Serpent was delivering for the Kharnadas Consortium. The party helped unload the cargo from magically expanded storage compartments on the boat (much like the Bag of Holding). They had delivered what Heckle referred to as “Bladewalls”, which appeared to be bundles of large metal blades. Their purpose was not clearly explained, but words exchanged between Lady Gardelaine and Madelaine Crow suggested that they were magically powered defensive devices, of some sort.

The party was given the final portion of their payment from the Consortium (500gp each, making the total for each character 1000gp). Wilfred then explained to the party that the portal taken by Irontooth was traced to somewhere in the countryside surrounding the city. He promised he’d check with his contacts, to see if he could find any more information.

The party decided to head to an inn for the night, choosing to stay at Fold’s Rest Inn, which offered comfortable accommodations at a modest price – and it was close by.

As they walked, the party took in their first view of the city. Everyone was bundled up, as much as possible, to protect against the cold air, while they complained about the sudden onset of an early winter. Other citizens shared frightening rumors about approaching army of Gnolls, to the north east. Others, still, complained about the city’s noble houses, their greed and their incompetence. In addition, there was talk of a new cult in the city, proclaiming the arrival of a new god. Tierriaryi overheard a particularly shady exchange, in which was said, “The Oldorran’s haven’t paid off the Grimslov’s yet, and the Butchers are upset about it.”

At the inn, the party continued to seek additional information about the possible whereabouts of Irontooth. From an old farmer, they heard that there have been several accounts of strange portals opening in the countryside, through which all manner of unsavory beasts have arrived.

Tierriaryi, seeking information about someone by the name of Ral Fayn, stumbled upon information about an organization known as the Butchers Block. It was an underground business that specialized in custom-made undead. This character that Tierriaryi was interested in had supposedly made connections with the unsavory organization.

Faydra was inquiring about local gambling spots, and some suggested she visit the Drudgers Cleft. The party decided against going there that night, and instead retired to bed. Faydra paid for a room with a nice view. Nathan got a room with a view of a brick wall.

The next morning, the party received a message from Wilfred to meet him in the Grand Market Round. They arrived to the market a bit early, and so picked up some supplies from various vendors. When Wilfred at last met up with them, he brought with him some Bugbear Cocoa, to share with the party. It was tasty.

Wilfred reported that his sources had seen a portal open up to the east, near the Gorman Homestead, from which three people emerged, matching the descriptions of Irontooth, Ninaran, and the mysterious wizard who was with them at Winterhaven. Wilfred also let them know that it appeared as though he’d be staying in the city for a while – the Consortium was taking an interest in a variety of potential threats to Vol-Thagoryx.

Encounter in the Countryside

The party rented horses, and made their way to the Gorman Homestead. From there, they tracked their quarry through some nearby woods. They found Irontooth, Ninaran, and the wizard standing together, engaged in a meeting with three gnolls. Nathan approached, stealthily, with Faydra at his side in the form of a small cat. When they got close enough, they listened in on the conversation.

“The Goliath tribes have joined the main force,” said one of the gnolls. “They should be here in just over a fortnight. How goes your work from within?”
“I’m working with my contacts,” answered Ninaran, “But things are going according to plans.”

At that point, Nathan had knocked an arrow, prepared to strike. The wizard began laughing, then raised a hand in Nathan’s direction. Nathan felt the pull of a magical force, but was able to resist. The wizard gave the command, and the gnolls charged into the woods, after Nathan.

While the ranger fled, Faydra was able to stay and listen a little longer.
The wizard said to Ninaran, “Go back to the city, do your part on the inside,” and then to Irontooth, “Let’s go get for you what was promised.”
With those words, the three of them disappeared in a shimmer of magic.

Faydra darted after the gnolls, to assist Nathan in the conflict that was soon to come. Suneun heard the commotion, and hurried to protect her allies.

With the gnolls hot on his trail, Nathan ducked behind some bushes, then surprise the pursuing gnolls with swift strikes from his new hunting knives. Faydra engaged one of the other gnolls. A brief, yet brutal, fight ensued, and in the end, one gnoll was dead, the other two incapacitated (one of which had his arm sawed off by Nathan).

The party then employed barbaric interrogation tactics, to get the gnolls to talk. The gnoll was resilient, but eventually he gave them the information they needed to hear. The army of gnolls was, indeed, approaching the city. Ninaran was infiltrating the city, to weaken it from within. The wizard, who was revealed to be named Gargonnas, and Irontooth were also involved, buy those details were never explained.

The gnoll also let slip the words, “Our new god will rise up and crush the city beneath its feet.”

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Old Enemies
The party investigates the threat from within.

As a heavy snowstorm picked up, the party killed off the remaining gnoll prisoner, and returned to Vol-Thagoryx.

Heralds in the Streets

As they strode down the main roads of the First Walk district, they came upon a large group of citizens, gathered around several figures who wore clerical robes. It was revealed that these were members of the Heralds of Rakashir, the local sect that formed in the past decade or so. Among them stood a figure in imposing, yet ornate armor; this was Gheist, one of the five Dekarii prophets, leaders of the sect. The Heralds were passing out warm clothes and supplies, proclaiming: “This harsh winter, and these dark times, are but temporary trials. Rakashir will deliver you; Rakashir will bring power to the lowly.”

It was apparent that this sect had a lot of popularity among the impoverished lower classes of Vol-Thagoryx.

An Audience with House Gardelaine

Heckle was waiting for the party, when they returned to the Fold’s Rest Inn. After hearing what had transpired earlier that day, he invited the party to meet with Lady Anissa Gardelaine, the noblewoman who had hired the Consortium in the first place. She was in need of information to bring to a meeting of the Thagoryne Council, taking place the very next night. The party agreed to this, and reported to her at The Grey Heron, an upscale inn on the city’s main island.

Along the way, it was noted that there were a lot of citizens trying to cross the bridge to the island districts of the city. When the party asked a city guard about it, he explained that a lot of folks were afraid that the mainland districts of the city would fall to the invading army. They were doing their best to keep such refugees to a minimum.

At the Grey Heron, the party met with Lady Gardelaine, and explained to her what she had learned, including the internal threat posed by Ninaran, Irontooth, and Gargonnas. She was concerned, but said she needed proof before she could bring anything to the Thagoryne Council.

It was at this time that an unexpected event occurred. In a flash of purple light, a portal opened up and deposited a large, confused, and angry half-orc. The portal closed just as quickly as it had opened, leaving behind an acrid stench akin to vinegar.

The half-orc brandished his weapons, and shouted, “Who are you? Where am I?”

For a moment, it seemed that the room would become a bloody scene, but the party was able to talk the half-orc down, and eventually got him to talk. His name was Tongar, and he had been pushed into the portal while tracking down his missing friend, James Astrom. He had been told that an organization known as the Blighted Stars might be behind his friend’s disappearance, but he knew little more than that. Of the person who had pushed him through the portal, he knew little, other than that he said the words, “Ral Fayn appreciates your cooperation.”

Lady Gardelaine assured the half-orc that she would have her agents help investigate matters concerning James Astrom and Ral Fayn. However, she needs evidence of the internal threat to the city, first. By dusk, the next day, she needs solid proof, or the council won’t hear her. Reluctantly, Tongar agrees to cooperate, with the promise that the party will help him find James once the more immediate threat is dealt with.

Tracking Down the Enemy

The party split up, searching for information throughout the city. In a variety of locations, and from a myriad of shady characters, they obtained the following information:
• Ral Fayn is a frequent customer of the Butcher’s Block, a group purported to specialize in the creation of customized undead monstrosities. Ral Fayn has also been known to purchase magical components for use in necromantic rituals.
• James Astrom is scheduled to be taken to the Butcher’s Block in a couple of days.
• Gargonnas and Irontooth are involved with the Aucharine Cabal, a secretive group of warlocks. They have a safe-house in the Auld Vedolis district. From outside the safe-house, Suneun was able to detect the presence of a demon in the basement, as well as desecrated artifacts.
• Two hours past nightfall, Ninaran would be meeting with someone at the pier by Waldorf Imports, in the Azure Bay district.

The most pressing matter, from this information, was the opportunity to catch Ninaran.

Confrontation on the Pier

The party arrived at the pier in advance, giving themselves time to hide out before Ninaran and her contact arrived. The elf woman’s contact was first to arrive; a tall, imposing figure, shrouded in a large cloak. As Ninaran arrived, walking down the pier, Eohric gave the signal for the party to spring into action. His signal was flawed, however, and Ninaran saw right through it. A battle ensued.

Ninaran went right after Eohric, loosing several arrows in his direction. Eohric swung down from the mast of the docked ship he was hiding on, striking hard at Ninaran. Suneun uttered words laced with power, commanding the ranger to grovel before her; Ninaran succumbed to the magic, and was brought to her knees. Eohric held a blade to her neck, the very longsword that had been taken from her at the Keep on the Shadowfell.

The mysterious contact immediately started fleeing the scene, but the path was blocked by Tierriaryi and Tongar, whilst Faydra unleashed a barrage of spells from behind. The stranger would not go down so easily, however. As magical flames burned away the heavy cloak, a terrifying figure was revealed – scarred and twisted, yet rippling with power.

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“You have no idea what you’re getting involved in,” the stranger said to Tierriaryi, as he removed the blades the rogue had stuck into his chest.

Tongar struck at the stranger, but failed, stumbling to the ground. The half-orc was lifted off his feet, as the stranger said to him, “So disappointing. We expect so much more of you, in time,”

Tossing aside the half-orc, the stranger leaped at Tierriaryi, red flames forming around his fists.

At that moment, Tierriaryi heard a whisper in her mind, “Step through fey, step into shadow.”

The eladrin rogue heeded the advice of the strange voice, stepping into the feywild to get out of the way. However, Tierriaryi did not emerge from the feywild as usual, but was instead enveloped in shadows, hidden from the sight of the others. The torc Tierriaryi had found in Ixis was suddenly cold.

Faydra assumed the form of a lion, and pounced on the stranger, knocking him flat. Eohric struck at him, as well. Finally, Tierriaryi burst from the shadowy realm, planting both daggers in the stranger’s skull.

In a conflagration of red flames, the party was thrown back and badly burned by an explosion centered around the fallen stranger. When the smoke cleared, the stranger was standing, seemingly unscathed.

He looked to Ninaran, still pinned beneath Suneun, and shook his head in disappointment, before disappearing in a flash of red fire.

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Exposing the Plot
Wherein the party engages in political intrigue.

Interrogation of Ninaran

Ninaran had been captured.

The party wasted no time in taking their prisoner – their bitter enemy – to Lady Gardelaine, certain that she would have the evidence they needed to bring before the Thagoryne Council. Into the long hours of the night, they interrogated the elven woman, finally getting from her two names: Mortimer Fenn and Gherrakos Phyre.

Mortimer Fenn, co-owner of Ramak and Fenn Mercantile, is stockpiling weapons and supplies, which he will be providing to Ninaran’s contact within the city. This contact will be using them to undermine the city’s defenses, and bolster the strength of the invading army. Furthermore, Fenn has been buying out the various trade guilds that support this contact’s opposition, weakening them.

Gherrakos Phyre, a high-ranking scholar at the Kytanos University, has been training up a group of his students to act as magical soldiers in the service of Ninaran’s contact. Ninaran claims that a list of these students can be found in his possession, labeled as “Honor Roll Students”.

Faydra and Tierriaryi set out to investigate Mortimer Fenn. In the dark of night, they infiltrated the Ramak and Fenn Mercantile building, ultimately finding the contract validating Ninaran’s claims. The contract also revealed Ninaran’s main contact, Veronica Raspin. As Faydra and Tierriaryi were snooping about, however, they set off a magical alarm. They tried to make a quick getaway, but there were agents of Ramak and Fenn waiting for them at the door. They turned and ran back the other way, searching for another exit to the building. Faydra assumed the form of a panther, and Tierriaryi hitched a ride on the panther’s back. As they leaped through a second-story window, the agents of Mortimer Fenn managed to strike Faydra with bolts of fiery magic. Despite this, they managed to escape, into the snowy night.

Tierriaryi handed the contract over to Lady Gardelaine, who almost laughed as she read it. “Of course it would be her – that two-timing, pitiful woman.”

Lady Gardelaine explained what she believed to be Lady Raspin’s motives. House Raspin had once been one of the most prominent of noble houses, but now it was declining in power. Lady Raspin was seeking to use the invading army, or perhaps orchestrating the whole invasion to begin with, in order to seize power over the city, reclaiming what her house had lost.

The next step would be to acquire evidence against Gherrakos Phyre. His office was in Farsight Tor, the tower at the center of the Kytanos University. The party decided to orchestrate a distraction, so that security was light when they made their move. While the distraction was in place, they would use Delia Mockingbird, a Kytanos scholar with whom the Consortium had connections, to infiltrate the tower and search Gherrakos’ office.

Tongar volunteered for the distraction. The half-orc would cause a scene by running about the university campus, stark naked. In the frigid air, no clothes to keep him warm, Tongar sprinted past the campus students and guards, around the tower, twice, before being tackled by a burly guard with a handlebar mustache. The guard was unable to discern the intentions of the naked half-orc, and simply tossed him at the entrance to the local frat house, under the assumptions that he was just another of their pledges. The snooty elven frat boys were most impressed, and made Tongar an honorary member.

Meanwhile, Delia Mockingbird led the rest of the party into the university, with Belias posing as a guest speaker for her class on Intermediate Arcanometric Theory. Gherrakos was lured away from his office, and Tierriaryi slipped in to find the evidence. The list of “honor roll students” was found, and the party made their way out of the university. A very uncomfortable Nathan retrieved Tongar from the frat house.

With only a few hours left before the council meeting, the party located and questioned some of the students on the list. While some of them claimed to know nothing, they managed to get a confession out of a few of them, including one Leroy Junkins. Gherrakos Phyre had coerced Leroy and the other students into joining this secret army. A number of the students on the list were suddenly nowhere to be found.

The Meeting of the Thagoryne Council

As the day turned into the evening, the Thagoryne Council commenced. The format for the council was for a representative from each council seat to state their business and concerns for that meeting, after which the floor opens up to any guests. The meeting was presided over by the representative of the First Seat,Lady Rosalyne Vadalla, who prefaced the meeting with concerns of the approaching army, and raised the question of what the council would do for the defense of the city.

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From the Ninth Seat, Kytanos University, Lyria Veyne was first to speak: “Should the city come under attack, the Kytanos University offers the support of its mages, for healing or for battle. Furthermore, we may even call upon the power of some of the ancient artifacts in our possession.”

Next to speak was Melchior Wist, of the Alchemist’s Quarter, the holders of the Eighth Seat. The diminutive creature stood upon a small podium to offer his support, “The Alchemist’s Quarter can offer great support, in the way of healing alchemy. However, if you would expect alchemical weapons from us, I’m afraid there is little we can do. We are not typically in the business of such alchemy, and would not have any of the required materials available to us.”

Andrelus Tyrnov spoke for his house, holders of the Seventh Seat. “The defense of this city should be our highest priority, yet we possess little in the way of manpower, to defend it. I would suggest what some of you may consider a drastic measure. It is no secret that, in the wake of the great war, the rulers of our nation, Karrnath, have resorted to the use of necromancy, creating undead warriors to bolster the ranks of their army. I have the connections, and could call upon the aid of a state-sanctioned necromancer, to provide us with the army we need.” To this proposal, a great majority of the council members were visibly taken aback.

House Gardelaine was next to speak, with Victor Gardelaine being the representative of the Sixth Seat. Lady Anissa Gardelaine had opted not to attend the meeting. “House Gardelaine will offer its full support, including the aide of our private house militia.”

From the holders of the Fifth Seat, the Old Smith’s Guild, Brogan Hurstwile spoke, in his gruff voice. “As it is, already, we’re the main suppliers of arms and armor to the Wyrmclaw Legion, but I’d like to be able to say we can offer a lot more. We’ve got developed artillery, great cannons, that could be used in the defense of the city. Unfortunately, we’ve got no munitions. A shipment was supposed to arrive a week ago, but there’s not been a word of it. It pains me to let this city down, like that, but there’s little I can do.”

Of the Fourth Seat, held by House Raspin, it was Lady Raspin who spoke. “While I’m not going to dispute the rumors of the approaching army, I remain confident that the ”/wikis/wyrmclaw-legion" class=“wiki-page-link”> Wyrmclaws can repel any invaders. I do not believe these matters of war are what’s most pressing, at the time."

In contrast to Lady Raspin’s lack of concern, the holder of the third seat, House Oldorran, had a very passionate stance on the defense of the city. Lord Gosric Oldorran asked, “Is it not our first and most important duty, as members of this council, to see that the city is safe? There is nothing that we should not be willing to do to protect our people. Those of you who would withhold your resources are failing at your duty.”

Ludwig Holm, of the Westward Trade Charters, spoke for the Second Seat. “We have offered enough of our resources, already,” he insisted. “We’ve provided weapons and supplies to the militia, and to the ”/wikis/grey-sails" class=“wiki-page-link”> Grey Sails. With this cursed weather, we’re doing all we can to keep our own trade fleets afloat. I’m sorry, but I believe I’ve already done my duty, Lord Oldorran.

Finally, Lady Vadalla spoke, reaffirming her stance that she would do all she could for the city. After this, the floor was opened to any guests who would speak. It was at this time, that it was noticed by Faydra that one of Lady Vadalla’s sons, Lucien Vadalla, was in whispered argument with his mother. Faydra put herself into a place to overhear their conversation. “This is foolish, mother. We should not be wasting our family’s wealth and resources for the defense of the city. Let us accept Ludwig’s offer, and get safe passage out of this city!”

The first guest to speak was Hekhan Whitescale, champion of the Wyrmclaw Legion. “As we have for four-hundred years, the Wyrmclaws will proudly stand in the defense of this city. We will stop at nothing to defend it. However, our scouts’ reports of the invading army grow more dire, every day. It is no small army that approaches, and they are now bolstered by the Goliath Tribes. Many of you are holding back; we need your support!”

“Holding back? That is a bold accusation, Hekhan!” argued Nibara Vashti, of the Alchemist’s Quarter. “We offer all that we can; as Melchior said, we don’t even have the materials to offer anything more than healing. You, however? In the vaults beneath your precious university, you hold great power! The Eye of Koreph is all that we would need to defend this city!”

With mention of the Eye of Koreph, the council devolved into argument, before finally, Gosric Oldorran’s voice was heard above the fray, “She’s right. The Eye of Koreph is the best chance for defending this city. I pledge my support to this notion.”

“Are you mad?” argued Gherrakos Phyre. “If we calling upon the Eye’s power could put the city into even greater danger than the threat of invasion. None of us posses the power to control the Eye.”

Another character, Esther Shvard, of Westward Trade Charters, spoke, “There is more that the Westward Trade Charters can offer, as well. Our greatest trade vessel, the Mocking Dragon, could be outfitted for war.”

“Silence, Esther!” shouted Ludwig. “That’s absurd. Our prize ship is not a warship!”

Once things had calmed down, a bit, the floor was open, once again. Nathan took the opportunity to represent the party in making the accusations against Ninaran’s conspirators. First, introduced the party, and spoke of their heroic deeds in fighting Kalarel, in order to establish credibility. Then, he made his accusations, against Lady Raspin, Gherrakos Phyre, and Mortimer Fenn.

This threw the meeting into an uproar. The party wasted no time in presenting the evidence, including the testimonies of Leroy Junkins, and Ninaran herself. Hekhan Whitescale sent Wyrmclaw guards to apprehend Mortimer Fenn, as well as to check on House Raspin, wherein Ninaran claimed they would find agents of the Goliath Tribes.

Lyria Veyne spoke, over the clamor, “If these accusations are true, and we are being undermined from within, then I, too, believe that the use of the Eye of Koreph is justified. This threat is great, and must be combated at all costs.”

Lady Raspin continued to argue in her defense, whilst Gherrakos Phyre simply appeared to be confused. First returned the guards sent to Raspin Manse. Sure enough, the Shield of House Raspin had been found in council with agents of the Goliath Tribes, plotting their coup. Shortly thereafter, guards returned from tracking down Mortimer Fenn, badly burned. When confronted, Fenn had unleashed a barrage of magic, then disappeared.

This was proof enough. Lady Raspin and Gherrakos Phyre were to be detained. The entire council was in agreement that the city was in great danger. Many were leaning in favor of using the Eye of Koreph.

“This meeting is over; we will convene again in one week. At that time, we shall make our final decisions on what measures should be taken for the defense of our city.”

As everyone was leaving the city, Tierriaryi noticed Monty Banes, of the Old Smith’s Guild, in conversation with a guard from the Wyrmclaws. She tried to listen in, only hearing something about “the bridge.”

The party headed back to Gardelaine Manse, where they had been offered a place to stay. Ninaran would be held captive in their house prison. As the were crossing the bridge that spanned between the Dragon’s Ward and Vedolis Isle, great plumes of water shot up on either side, and great shards of ice came crashing down onto the bridge. The ice cracked open, and from them burst several goliath warriors, and a few other armed men. One last figure was among them, a familiar face, but an unfamiliar body.

Irontooth stood before them, his body changed and twisted, hulking at the same height as the goliath warriors.
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The Battle of Vol-Thagoryx
Official Report on the Battle of Vol-Thagoryx

This is the official report of the Battle of Vol-Thagoryx, as recorded by the Thagoryne Bureau of Records. It has been audited and authorized by Giselle Malandra, Bureau Director.

Estimated Attacking Forces
- 5000 Gnolls
- 1000 Goliaths
- 25 Spellcasters
- 1/2 Frost Giant?

Attacker’s Casualties
- 2456 Gnolls
- 488 Goliaths
- 1/2 Frost Giant
- 25 Spellcasters

Estimated Defending Forces
- 800 Grey Sails Marines, 20 vessels.
- 1500 Wyrmclaw Legion Militiamen
- 2000 Shattered Blade Mercenaries

Defender’s Casualties
- 692 Grey Sails Marines, 19 vessels.
-— All casualties and lost vessels were the result of the traitorous attack made by the Mocking Dragon.
- 927 Wyrmclaw Legion Militiamen
-— 746 casualties occurred in the defense of the mainland districts.
-— 181 casualties occurred in the bombing of the Baylocke Bridges
- 56 Shattered Blade Mercenaries.
- 82 Zealots of the alleged “Champion of the Raven Queen”.

Civilian Casualties
- 3691 Civilians confirmed dead
-— 3102 casualties occurred in the mainland districts
-— 589 casualties occurred in the bombing of the Baylocke Bridges
- 689 Civilians unaccounted for
-— Approximately 400 are believed to have drowned attempting to cross the Baylocke Channel.
- 25 Noblemen
-— It is reported that these members of the nobility were cast off from the Mocking Dragon as it departed the bay.

Notable Casualties
- Melchior Wist – Died in bombing of the Baylocke Bridges
- Hekhan Whitescale, Second Blade of the Wyrmclaws – Died in bombing of the Baylocke Bridges
- Golphus Moord, First Claw of the Bridge Guard – Died in Bombing of the Baylocke Bridges
- Janus Lornfall, Admiral of the Grey Sails – Slain by traitorous attack of the Mocking Dragon.
- Esther Shvard – Slain when protesting the departure of the Mocking Dragon.
- Adrien Vadalla – Cast off from the Mocking Dragon.
- Ludwig Holm – Cast off from the Mocking Dragon.

Estimated Destruction of City Buildings
- First Walk District – 62% of structures razed.
- New Mainland Market District – 23% of structures razed.
- Baylocke Ports District – 35% of structures razed.
- Lyman Fold District – 9% of structures razed.
- Volas Ports – 5% of structures razed.
- Baylocke Garrison – 2% of structures razed.
- Grey Sails Garrison – 5% of structures razed.
- Baylocke Bridges – Completely destroyed.

Auditor’s note: “The devastation wrought by this attack is staggering. While previous attacks on the city have resulted in the destruction of the mainland districts, none involved such a horrific number of casualties. Much of this can be attributed to the destruction of the Baylocke Bridges. Had the Shattered Blades not arrived, the whole of the mainland districts would have been lost, and drenched in the blood of civilians. However, were it not for the brave efforts of those Wyrmclaw Legion militiamen who gave their lives in defense, not a single civilian would have remained alive by the time the Shattered Blades arrived.” -Giselle Malandra

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The Vaults of Vol-Thagoryx

Into the Vault

The party had run down into the vault below the city, where people had gone to collect the Eye of Koreph. If you recall, it was revealed at the end of the last game that Lyria Veyne, the tiefling from the mage university, was actually one of the prophets of Rakashir. Everyone was worried about her motives in getting the Eye of Koreph.

You head down there, led by Minaste Gardelaine, and accompanied by Wilfred and Heckle. Belias was already in there, having accompanied the original party that went down there.

As you journeyed in there, Minaste explains to you how the vaults work. There’s a key required to open the vault itself, but then within the vault are several smaller vaults that each require their own key. The key to the entire vault is for someone who is fully devoted to the defense of the city to sacrifice their own life. They key to the actual Eye of Koreph is not known by Minaste.

The vault is set within a large chamber. A platform extends into the middle of the chamber, with three staircases going down from it; one to the right, the left, and straight ahead. At the bottom of each staircase is a smaller structure, containing smaller vaults.

The party sees, on the platform before the stairs, the corpse of Rosalyn Vadalla, who paid the price to open the vault. Around her are several other corpses, of those who journeyed into the vault. Her own son, Lucien Vadalla (or Adrien… I lost track of which is which), is there, alive, but severely wounded.

“They’re not after the Eye,” he says. “It was all a lie – they were after something else,”

He explains that, after the price had been paid to unlock the vaults, Belias had hurried down the stairs straight ahead, entering the vault that had the Eye; it was after this that Lyria betrayed everyone, before heading down the stairs to the left, to go after something in a different structure. Lucien claims that she had brought with her an old man, tied up. into the vault.

“She said they needed to ‘rend the mortal flesh of a god’

As the party rushes into that structure, they see that Lyria has, in her hands, an object that she has just taken from the vault. At her feet lies the corpse of an old man, which the party recognizes as Valthren the Prescient, the old man that had been taken from Winterhaven. He must have been the key to opening this smaller vault.

Lyria uses magic to fey-step past the party, and runs up the stairs to the platform. At that moment, there’s a blood curdling scream heard from the structure that Belias is said to have gone into.

On the central platform, the party fights against Lyria. It’s a pretty cool fight… However, in the moments before the party can slay Lyria, something happens.

This is the big part – I even scripted it before the game, to make sure I did it right. As such, here’s what I wrote….

The air is suddenly filled with a sound akin to mournful howls carried on the wind. Each of you experience a brief moment of excruciating pain, and then darkness. Slowly, light returns, and you see that you’re exactly where you were, within the ruins. You realize, now, that you cannot move; your body is frozen in place. Lyria appears to be unphased, standing in the middle of the stone platform. She’s looking out beyond your field of vision, towards the stairs on the left.

“Well, my dear Brother, I must say… your timing is impeccable!” she says.

Into the ring steps a large figure, garbed in ornate robes that are drenched in the blood that still flows from the stump of his right arm. Clutched in his left hand is a strange sigil, carved of a jet black material. It’s Belias.

“Ral Fayn’s task is complete, dear sister; ready your portal.”

Lyria pouts, “Oh, and leave this lot here? They are at our mercy; it would be a shame to let such an opportunity go to waste.”

Just out of the corner of your eye, you can see Wilfred’s fingers twitching; he is somehow resisting the effects of the magic.

“I have what I came for; you have what you came for. Let us be done here!”

At that moment, Wilfred springs into motion, having cast of the magical shackles that hold the rest of you in place, beginning the incantations of a powerful spell.

“Razath Anar’y’shak!” shouts Belias, and a stream of flame erupts from the sigil in his outstretched arm. The flames engulf Wilfred, and with a scream he is knocked to the ground. As the red fire courses over the fallen wizard, Belias turns back to Lyria.

“Your portal! We are finished, here!”

Lyria frowns, “If you insist.” She begins her own ritual, handing the spike off to Belias, who tucks both artifacts into his robes.

[Singling out Nathan]

At your side, Nathan, you see an apparition of the being that has been haunting you. He looks at Wilfred, still writhing in flames, then turns his gaze towards the two tieflings. His visage carries a dangerous look. “Justice, my heir. These two deserve a just punishment. You bear my bow; my legacy. You are the judge, the jury, and the executioner. You are the Talon of Law.” You feel yourself loosed from the magical restraints. “Deliver swift justice.”

At that moment, Lyria has completed her ritual, and a portal begins to open up.

As you lunge towards them, black chains burst forth, reaching for Belias and Lyria. The two of them are ensnared, just as they step through the portal. Linked by these otherworldly chains, you are yanked into the portal after them. The grip of these chains is strong, however, and they refuse to allow the tieflings to reach their destination. The three of you are trapped, standing in a limbo between two points in the mortal plane.

“I’m sorry, sister,” Belias begins, though his face paints a picture of satisfied hatred. “I see no other way.”

With the utterance of an eldritch incantation, a rift tears in the demiplane upon which you all stand. A powerful force pulls Lyria into it, and drags you along with her. The chains holding Belias are snapped, and he disappears, whilst you and Lyria plunge into an unknown realm.

Nathan and Lyria find themselves in another realm, amidst great forest/jungles. Lyria seems to have broken her legs in the fall into this realm, and is crippled. She shouts curses at Nathan, blames him, etc. He just walks away. He’s finds a good vantage point, and for as far as he can see, he’s surrounded by wilderness. We left it at that, for him. He is lost in a realm wherein he is most comfortable. Perhaps in another two years he’ll have found his way out of there.

Back at the vault, everyone was sad, because Wilfred was dead, Belias had betrayed them, and so far as they knew, Nathan was gone, as well.

Suneun did a little eulogy for Wilfred.

Lucien Vadalla had begun crawling towards the chamber that held the Eye of Koreph, determined to take it, so that his mother’s death was not in vain. The party stopped him, because he was obviously in a very unstable condition.

Looting the Vaults.<. />

Despite everything that had happened, the party all wanted to check out what was in these vaults. In each of the three chambers, there were three vaults, each paired with a riddle, which would suggest the price that had to be paid. Given who makes up our party, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that every vault was looted.

Vault 1
Contents = Brazier of Commanding Fire Elementals, Tome of Understanding.
Price = “The Flames Shall Fade”
Faydra was willing to risk this price. It manifested in the form of a high-level fireball spell to her face. Worth it.

Vault 2
Contents = The Hajaali Spike
A spike of blue-tinged metal, one of three to be used in a ritual to summon gods.
Price = “Rend the Mortal Flesh of a God”
This is what Lyria was after. Valthren, the man they stole from the Winterhaven, was actually an old god, walking in mortal flesh. He is murdered to unlock the gate.
Vault 3
Contents = 9th-Level spell scroll “Astral Projection” and Javelin of Lightning
Price = “The Storm Shall Pass”
Faydra also went for this one. Lightning bolt, to the face. Brought her below 0 hp, but didn’t kill her.

Vault 4
Contents = The Eye of Koreph.
Price = “Carry the Eternal Burden”
The party debated what to do, here. Ultimately, it was determined that the Eye of Koreph should be removed from this city. James was willing to take on that responsibility, and pay whatever price was in store.
As James committed to paying the price, he was greeted by the vision of an elderly woman, who looked completely exhausted. She was chained to a great host of other souls. She thanked James, then disappeared, and the chains linked on to James’ soul.
He now carried the weight of every soul that had been slain by the Eye of Koreph. Several thousand were from times the Eye had been used by the people of Vol-Thagoryx, in the past, while tens of thousands more had been slain by it in untold ages.
He passed out, immediately, and in a comatose state he was individually greeted by each soul that was chained to him, who recounted to him the moments of their deaths, and the life they would never have.

Vault 5
Contents = Amulet of the Planes, Scimitar of Speed
Price = “Forsake Thy House, Curse They Home”
Tongar took the risk of paying this price. A voice asked him “What do you call home?”. He tried to answer that he had no home, but the voice persisted. He finally answered that the Sea is his home. Immediately upon that thought, his love of the sea is replaced by loathing. Never again will he feel at home at sea, and never again shall he find a place to call home.

Vault 6
Contents = Sigil of Adarakk
This is a powerful artifact, said to be capable of slaying a god. It’s not a match for the Eye of Koreph in sheer destructive force, but it has its uses.
Price = “Trust Not Thine Right Arm”
As we saw, Belias had an entire arm destroyed in order to unlock this vault.

Vault 7
Contents = Armor of Nyzh (pronounced neezh)
A suit of armor that can, at will, be sent to a pocket dimension, or retrieved. When it reappears, it is automatically on the wearer.
Price = “Sunder the Armor of the Mind”
Suneun, with great hesitancy, decided to take on this price. There was no immediate effect, but it can be assumed, from the riddle, that she will see some consequences, soon.

Vault 8
Contents = Skalamandas
The spear that struck down the the dragon, Skael. It has the power to control the great blue dragon.
Price = “Behold as Does the Wyrm”
Amirah paid this price, and her eyes were burned out by black fire. She can now only see as through the vision of the blue dragon, Skael, who is imprisoned somewhere else below the city.

Vault 9
Contents = Qi Xion’s Cube
A five-inch cube of ornately carved wood. Any amount of money can be pulled from the cube, at will. However, there may be some adverse consequences paired with this effect.
Price = “Thy Greed Shall Mark Thee”
Tierriaryi wasted no time in paying this price. As a result, the rogue was stricken with a sudden mutation! Randomly determined from a Mutation table in another rpg, Tierriaryi now has two additional arms. Oops.


Arrival of the Iceshard

The party left the vault and went to sleep (they needed it). The next morning, it was learned that the enemy army had regrouped and been reinforced. They were preparing for another assault.

In addition, something is sighted out at sea, to the northwest of the city. A great iceberg, which appears to be some magical moving fortress, commanded by the remaining dekarii prophets! It assails the city with a bombardment of ice crystals. The Nekaris Shores, district, at the north end of the city, is completely destroyed.

Pinned between the giant iceberg fortress, known as the Iceshard, and the army that has regrouped for another attack, the party is in a dangerous predicament.

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A Vision in the Night

Several weeks had passed since they had fled from the grand city of Scabandraxas, finding themselves in a strange, unfamiliar world, and Suneun Tuuli found herself laying awake at night, gazing into the stars of an unfamiliar sky.

After a whispered prayer to Melora, she was taken by a sudden vision.

A divine being, an avatar of Suneun’s deity, stood before her. The goddess of the wilderness, nature, and the sea had sent a messenger to her devoted follower.

“Melora calls upon you, Suneun Tuuli, for the Gods of the Dawn War are facing a great challenge. A new god has risen, and seeks admission into the Pantheon. There will, soon, be a celestial tribunal held, in which the gods will determine whether or not to accept this new member.”

“We are unfamiliar with this new deity, but you and your companions are not.”

“Be ready. When the tribunal commences, Melora will be calling upon you and your companions to stand as witnesses, to testify of what you know concerning this new deity, and it’s alignment.”

“You may be the ones to sway the decision as to whether this new deity ascends to the Pantheon — the one you know as Ninaran”

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A Message to the Sojourner

Nathan,

I hope this message finds you alive and well, in that far realm to which you were … exiled.

Apologies for that.

Apologies for a lot, really. I’m afraid I’m to blame for a great deal of trouble — more than you know. I knew my actions would have consequences, but I believed it was all worth it, then. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make, if it meant I could save… could save… well… but it’s too late now, isn’t it?

The situation has turned dire. The Gods of the Dawn War hold their Celestial Tribunal soon, and there’s not one possible outcome that doesn’t make my stomach turn. Your old friends will be present — they’ve been asked to testify against her. Even with their testament to her crimes, and darkness of character, I don’t know that the gods will listen.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, these past three years, it’s that even the Gods can’t help but to be mired in politics.

Three years? Has it really been so long since we last saw you? Yes, I do believe it has. How time has escaped us…

I suppose I should back up a bit. Fill you in on what you’ve missed, yes?

You should take comfort in the knowledge that your friends did save Vol-Thagoryx. Well, saved it from total destruction, at least. The city still suffered greatly, and to some extent, it was at their hands.

Given my… actions… I was not present to witness these events firsthand. The moment Rakashir’s power was drained, the Blighted Stars made a swift exit.

James had claimed the Eye of Koreph, attempting to unleash its power on the rampaging ice hulk that was the empty husk of Rakashir’s physical form, but he lost control. Whole districts of the city were annihilated, their souls added to the thousands that James would be burdened by.

In the end, though, he regained control, with the assistance of your friends, and the empty god was destroyed.

Empty, though. It was just empty husk of a god. That’s important. The true soul and power of Rakashir were imprisoned, and in the possession of Ral Fayn, my employer. Former employer, that is. Long story.

Now, after Vol-Thagoryx, your friends quickly found themselves caught up in another conflict, this one between a couple of filthy dwarven cities. Some scuffle over a hammer, I hear. Again, I wasn’t there.

In this time, I was employed by the Blighted Stars, doing the bidding of Ral Fayn. It was terrible business, but I believed I had no choice. They had… leverage…

But what we did in that time — it is very important that you understand.

It’s about the Gods, you see. Three of them.

The first was Rakashir — I’ve already covered what happened there. His power was drained, and the Iceshard God was destroyed.

Next came Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath. The Blighted Stars, we found another way into the Shadowfell, and there we hunted down and confronted Orcus. His power was drained, just as Rakashir’s had been, and stored within the Sigil of Adarakk.

The third god, though…. that’s the most important one…

Zehir. A god of darkness. More importantly, a god who was already a member of the Gods of the Dawn War.

You probably don’t know much about the gods, do you? You never struck me as the sort to keep apprised of the comings and goings in the celestial realms…

Rakashir, Orcus, and a great deal of other gods — they’re all what we’d call Wild Gods. Independents. They run solo, yes?

But Zehir? Zehir had been inducted into the Pantheon, the Gods of the Dawn War. This brings power and privilege that the Wild Gods simply don’t have. On the other hand, it brings laws. Rules. A member of the Pantheon must adhere to celestial laws.

Moving on… Zehir, too, was slain, and its powers drained into the Sigil of Adarakk.

But that was so easy… so very easy. Well… I mean, it was a God. It was very difficult. But it was difficult on the same scale as a Wild God, not a Pantheon God.

It was as though Zehir didn’t know how to use its own powers. That troubles me, still…

So, three gods. The Blighted Stars possessed the power of three gods, stored within that cursed talisman. I was complicit in all of this.

Despite my cooperation, however, Ral Fayn would still not give me what I sought after. He continued to hold it over my head, promising just one more task, but never delivering on his promise.

I became disenchanted. I would not continue furthering their dark goals — and working alongside her — if Ral Fayn would never uphold his part of the bargain.

And so I began to plot. I’ve always considered plotting and scheming to be one of my strong points, you see… I returned to the libraries of the Kharnadas Consortium. I had to sneak in, of course, after what I did to Winston. Oh… poor Winston… if only he hadn’t put up a resistance…

I researched the Sigil of Adarakk, seeking a greater understanding of its power, and how it functioned. I discovered that I could, potentially, force it to reverse its effect, allowing myself to draw souls out of it. If I could manage to reach in and pull out that soul — that one soul among the many that Ral Fayn carried around with him — I could finally break free of the Blighted Stars.

It would require another talisman — something else capable of storing the souls of something so powerful as a god. I continued my research, and found the perfect artifact — the Golem’s Heart.

What made the Golem’s Heart the perfect choice? Well, her, of course.

In researching the Golem’s Heart, I picked up a few bread crumbs, traveled deeper into the rabbit hole, uncovered the horrifying truth about her past.

Well, it’s horrifying, but it also really clears things up about why she’s so horrible.

Oh… I’m sorry, I’m out of time. I have to go.

Listen, there is more that I have to say to you, and I will, in due time, but you must know this now —

The Celestial Tribunal begins soon, and the Gods of the Dawn War will be making a decision as to her status. If she gains a place among them, she gains power. Oh, so much more power. And that’s a scary thought. But if she does not gain a place among them, there will be consequences.

Zehir was a member of the Pantheon. Zehir is dead. That leaves a vacancy in the Pantheon… an imbalance…

Though I tremble at the thought of Ninaran gaining so much power, I am struck with equal terror in considering the consequences of an imbalanced Pantheon…

Apologetically,
Belias Haarlock

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The Wanderer's Reply

Belias,

I went back and forth as to whether I trusted your motives. The worst part of your actions affecting me was that I have been estranged from those I know. Regardless this realm is not so bad.

In my travels of this realm, (of which the natives call Eldred), I have found many a strange features and sights.
It would appear that there are no cartographers in this world so I have taken it upon myself to map out the continents, discovering a land of my own; then named it Baudelaine.
Quite a nice land here.

This realm seems to be devoid of all races other than Elves, Dwarves and Man.

Keeps things simple.

Luckily nobody here knows my family name. Typically people know me as a wanderer.

I have had the fortune, (and sometimes misfortune), of meeting one James Moonwalker; A cocky fop who has a form of prosthesis on one arm and a flaming sword.

Odd tales.

Alas this stone cannot contain all I can inscribe at the present time; my wizard friend here shall attempt to send it through the void in hopes that it reaches you. (My message in a bottle obviously did not reach you from nearly a year ago). But a threat is rising here in this world. One I may not be able to handle on my own. Perhaps I shall see my friends again and we shall defeat this foe.

Regardless, I hope this finds you all in good health. I am glad to hear my compatriots still adventure on.

If Ninaran is to live through this ordeal send her my way and I shall have a swift reward awaiting. If I may return before then; I shall be happy to send an arrow through her head; diamond arrowhead.

Take pains, Be perfect;
Adieu

Nathaniel Baudelaire
of the Woodland Realm

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