Tempest Rising

Down the Shore
Or-- Rockin' the Docks

skele.jpgOur heroes gathered around the elf Selvyn’s balcony and planned their attack on waterfront warehouse, using the hobgoblin labor dispute as cover.

They decided to attack from the sea, with Boomah and Kallius flying invisibly and the others reduced for easier carrying. They landed safely without alerting any obvious guards.

Celeste summoned a water elemental to scout the surf under the building. It did not get far before it was shredded by a shark attack, and the group reconsidered that approach.

The lower door was blocked by boxes and crates within, and when Boomah stuck his head through, he could see skeletons patrolling on catwalks through the gloom. They moved up to the larger doors on the higher level and forced them open.

They were met by two men wearing leather skull masks, who moved to attack. Boomah was grappled, but he flew to the ceiling to shake off his captor. The enemy commanded him to fall, and the two dropped to the decking. The others encircled him and he was overwhelmed.

A thick mist filled the room as the other cultist moved to escape. Three skeletons covered his escape and closed with the group. Their blows ddi not breach our heroes defenses, but the did slow their advance.

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Shore Leave
Or-- Otterdammerung

pirate_tavern_by_88grzes-d9xyh6c.jpgAfter escaping from the muddy hole they appeared in, our heroes made their way toward the haze they hoped indicated the village of Otterdam.

They came upon a logging crew in the woods and offered to travel with them, but learned that they were no more than an hour walk from town. So they followed the Faelit wash into the village.

The first thing they saw was the lumber yard that the rough timbers were floated to, manned by burly — but free— orcs. The chose to avoid contact and walked around it. The soon came to a collection of hovels and small houses, and bustling commercial activity. There they sampled local sea cucumber liquor, and learned that the community was a center of rebel activity, and that no one resembling Menso had recently arrived to threaten the peace. A shipload of elves, however, had recently landed and demanded that their brethren join them to claim stewardship over the mainland. And then left, talking most of the villages elves with them — whether they were eager or not.

Following directions toward the docks, the passed the former Lutro manor house which had been converted to some kind of gambling hall. The gave it a wide berth and moved to the center of town. They found the shipyard of Burl & Knotte, covering a few piers and a rocky rise commanded by a lighthouse. They noted heavily armored guards at the end of the piers and walkways, and chose not to engage them.

Everyone they asked suggested such well-heeled travelers should stay at the Brightside Tavern, in the former Lutro guardhouse. The first thing they noticed was a recessed fighting pit in the center of the taproom, and Luix resolved to stat out of it.

Kallius noticed an elf working in the tavern’s kitchen, and asked the waitress why he hadn’t fulfilled his responsibility. She rebuffed him, and stormed away.

Celeste and Saerin talked to the locals, and learned that an older couple that lived in the woods near the Si’ang symbol were found stuffed in a well on the dockside. No suspects were found.

They tried to lay low, and Boomah stepped outside to see the town by night. Saerin decided to go around the back on the inn and reach the kitchen through a rear door. Along the way he spotted a group of hobgoblins gathering on the shore across a darkened waterway.

Boomah saw the elf leave and followed him around back. Saerin pushed through the door into the kitchen, and the elven cook tried to cast a spell on him and failed. Seeing he was a caster, they pulled up short and asked to talk.

The elf Selvyn — who had decided the party was bent on causing a disturbance in ‘his’ town — invited them up to a balcony on the tower rising up from the inn, and promised them answers. If they would do the same.

They all came up, and told Selvyn that they were here to hunt down Menso, and not to kidnap elves or cause any other trouble. They also told him about the hobgoblins and the threat of fire, and he told them it was none of their business.

They pushed, and he explained that the hobgoblins were in a dispute with their ship captain over shares of loot, and it would be settled among locals. And made Boomah promise he would not get involved with any fires.

He also told them about the shipwright Burl (who they believe is Menso’s contact Beryl) who is known as mean and volatile, but is doing quite well in these violent times. He has recently bought the old lighthouse and the land around it, but still seems to live in a rickety old boathouse on the docks.

Our heroes decided to use the hobgoblin raid as a diversion, and to make a night-time foray into Burl/Beryl’s compound.

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Mother Knows Best
Or-- Assisted suicide, the gift that keeps on giving

Pale_Mother.jpgAfter resting and regaining their strength, our heroes moved up to the massive oak tree in the swirling mists. When they approached, three huge, man-shaped roost clusters rose up from the ground to block their path toward the trunk. Dark eyes in what [passed for faces seemed intelligent, but they did not speak.

They did learn that the creatures were no fans of the spiders, and the heaps of arachnid corpses surround the tree attested to that, but could learn little more. Boomah tried repeatedly to engage them, but all he received for his troubles were stares.

In the end, he decided to stretch his new wings and find an alternate method. As he rose, he could see knot holes and other rents in the tree opening at his passing. Finally, a large get in a branch opened and a massive manticore climbed out to intercept the goblin. Not wanting to fight alone, Boomah returned to the party and tried to speak with leonine beast.

The monster responded, and once the party assured it that they were enemies of the spider and Menso, it agreed to let them speak to Pale Mother. A long seam in the huge oak’s trunk opened up, and a 15-foot-long slug-like creature with the head and torso of a bloated woman squeezed out.

She spoke thickly and seemed a little erratic, but the group found out that she was the apprentice of Sciao Si’ang, who came to this land more than a thousand years ago to find the Well of Infinities and ascend into some kind of draconic being. The noted that Pale Mother was in fact a simulacra, but they did not learn the fate of the original.

He knew that in ages past, a group of dragons called the Bloodwyrms had tried to merge with humans and gain the power of free will, but were defeated by the other dragons and an order of outer plane spiders known as the Weavers of Fate. Some of these Bloodwyrms were imprisoned in the new world, under the guard of the Firstborn.

Apparently, she said, without the Firstborn these seals were weakening. She did not know what would happen if they Bloodwyrms returned.

When questioned about how someone might have dragon-blood without these rituals, she suggested that bloodlines from these wyrms may still exist, but the Weavers had always worked to root them out and kill them if powers ever presented themselves. She added that it would be best if Celeste kill herself right away, to save another spider assault and the collateral damage it might cause. Celeste declined her offer of assistance.

About Kallius, Pale Mother merely said he was “something else”. And that he too should be killed at the first opportunity.

They told her that their priority was the destruction of Menso, and she endorsed the plan. To aid them, she taught them how to work the symbols that Great Master had placed throughout the Vale and how to travel between locations.

Returning to the lab, they went through Menso’s scattered notes to find a clue about his destination. Among the blood magic and dragon-breeding madness, they found more mundane notes about his business dealings and contacts in Gilt Hall and in the port town of Otterdam.

The decided to follow up on the name Beryl, who was reportedly a ’squib’ who disguises and alters stolen ships in the pirate haven.

But first, the group used the symbol to return to the mongrel village and let the creatures know of the fate of Pale Mother, and not to worry. Boomah then taught them the secret of the symbols, and how they could travel around the Vale quickly.

Then they moved on toward Otterdam, the former holding of Hammich Lutro the Otter. Lutro now sits on the throne at Cyr Regus, in defiance of the returned Aerinorn crown prince. They found themselves in a murky pool in a coastal jungle. The smoky haze above the trees showing the location of a village.

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Armed and Dangerous
Or-- What's behind Door Number Three

Athach.pngInvestigating the ancient wizard’s complex, our heroes were brought up short by a magically locked door. The room beyond was also beyond Dremahl’s second sight as well, which only increased their curiosity.

After several failed attempts, they pooled their resources and had a reduced Saerin unlock the door with aid from spells and Boomah. He resumed normal size, and they opened the door.

The chamber beyond was filled with wreckage, all broken beyond any guess at its original purpose. And lying on the floor in the center of the room was a gaunt, seven-foot tall creature. With three arms.

It immediately lurched up when they opened the door, and launched itself at them. The goblin threw a fiery bomb and the magus flashed electricity, which simultaneously harmed and then healed it. The fire slowed it down, but it lashed out with its strangely articulated third arm form the doorway.

The creature was not alive, but constructed, and clearly out of control. The warriors managed to encircle it — and Boomah repeatedly set it ablaze — wearing away at the monster until it finally fell. Tripped by Luix’ flail, the group pounded on the beast until it moved no more.

Digging through the destroyed furniture, they decided that this was once a lab. In it they found the shattered remains of a frame that abetted summoning magic, and chimes that seemed to be tied to the planes or air, water and the Abyss. They carried off these items and continued their exploration

The last room they found was eerily silent, and contained a single stature of a woman. Close inspection showed that she was dying of some wasting disease that had eaten much of her flesh away. The statue reflected very old conjuration and divination magic, but nothing they attempted caused the state to react in any way.

In the end they decided to rest here, and face the fallout from the spider attack the next morning. The night passed without incident, and at sunrise they emerged from the complex.

The mist had regained its strength, but no new violence seemed to have come to the Vale. They moved their way upriver passed Menso’s destroyed hut, and saw the shape of a massive tree resolve out of the swirling mists.

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Looking for Trouble
Or-- Goblin Trap Detector

550px-Gelatinous_cube.jpgWith danger at least temporarily averted, our heroes dug through the rubble of a small hut torn to pieces by the spidery creatures. In the broken remains of what seemed to be Menso’s personal effects, they found a wand and a large leathery bag with a sealed brass enclosure covered in strange runes.

Giving the party a little distance, Boomah tore open the seal to see what was in the bag. A small swarm of black scorpions trust out of the opening and began to sting the goblin mercilessly. He fled, rapidly outpacing the tiny vermin and they were destroyed from range.

The bag contained arcane scrolls to be used against good creatures and a strange spell called memorize page.

Returning to the entry to wizard’s lab, they used summoned sacrificial ponies to defeat its guarding glyphs. The lab showed signs of a hazy departure, and the ancient wizard’s spell book and much of Menzo’s notes were gone. Boomah tried to slide the remaining articles into his bag when one scroll leaped into the air and wrapped itself around his face.

They circled the little alchemist but could not get the scroll to stop smothering him. Dremahl commanded the creature to fall, and with it temporarily still, they shredded it. Boomah buried the pieces in separate locations (and kept a few) to ensure it would not come back and haunt him.

They moved through an empty hallway apparently dug by magical means, and found an empty cell where Menso kept some of his more unruly creations.

Then they came to a storeroom filled with old wreckage, with but two glass cases still in good repair. The noted that they radiated necromantic magic and contained biological samples, including blue and red dragon scales. The other contained several jars with some kind of swirling fluid, and a large steel box radiating conjuration magic.

The curious goblin opened the box, freeing a gelatinous cube that had been stuffed into an extra-dimensional space. He tumbled free, and the party fled down the hallway.

They waited for it to come at them, but it instead it decided to stay and eat the samples laid out for it. Seeing it eat their booty, they attacked it in earnest until at last it dissolved, leaving them only damaged dragonhide for their trouble. 

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Judge Dreadful
Or-- Disobedience is fundamental

675645_orig.jpgFollowing a night in a cave, while chaos raged over the misty vale, our heroes decided to return and see what took place.

Entering the misty cleft, they came across a number of spider corpses, Menzo’s ankeg hybrids and other strange creatures. They found the dead behir aberration and noted that it had been slashed by something with long blade-like edges, not spider bites.

And, its head was removed.

Nearby, they saw that the dark entrance to wizard laboratory was strangely clear of violent remains. Closer inspection showed a hemisphere of dead spiders surrounding the doorway in a 5’ arc. Boomah set about removing pieces from the behir, while others inspected the area magically. Saerin looked for tracks of other creatures.

While most of the party was otherwise engaged, the ranger saw a number of hobbit-sized spiders lurching toward him from the mists. He shouted in time to catch them before they overran the party.

He and Kallius took the front, while Boomah stepped back for fire support. Another wave of spiders came on, and the ranger noted a large darkly shining spider with four eyestalks appear from the shadows of a ruined building. It charged, and nearly froze his limbs when its eyes locked on him.

Warriors and spiders were clashing, and Celeste summoned a lantern archon to join the attack. The otherworldly spider stayed behind, and tried to freeze the ranger with its eye rays again— and failed. Celeste sent her minion to attack it, and the tiny outsider refused. She demanded to know why, and it said that it could not attack, as it was not for its kind to raise arms against it. Again, she asked why and it said that it was ‘fundamental’.

More spiders charged and were slain nearly as quickly as they appeared, but not without inflicting damage on our heroes. The priests were diligently working to stem the tide and keep the front rank fighting. 

The strange central spider suddenly launched forward, scuttling up the canyon wall and biting the magus from above. Its mandibles dug deep, and he was wrapped in its cruel embrace.

The others were still fighting off spiders as the beast backed up the wall, unleashing its full fury on the elf. Dremahl managed to jump up and heal the elf, keeping death at bay for a bit longer.

The creature moved even further up the cliff, out of reach of the group, and continued its attacks on the magus. Boomah swallowed his infusion, ran up to the ranger, grabbed him about the waist, and levitated up the monster’s level. Saerin channeled all of his energy into a single blow, splitting the beat in two. Rather than merely dying, it it seemed to break at the seams and dissolve into nothingness.

They quickly dispatched the last couple spiders, and reviewed the situation. Celeste wanted to know what the archon meant by “fundamental”, and the archon postulated that it was part of the fabric of the universe. Yes, it was older than dragons, but not as old as gods. When pressured for more information, the overtaxed outsider burst burst into a shower of sparks.

Boomah pulled out the dragon figurine and asked it about the spider-beast. It said that it was a lesser servant of beings called the Weavers of Fate, and that they were the enforcers of the laws of nature. Laws that they interpreted themselves.

They asked if mingling mortal and dragon blood was against those laws, and it said while many claim it is not possible, it is merely extremely difficult and rare. And yes, probably seen as breaking the laws of nature. 

They decided to explore the ruined hut before trying to breach the wizard’s workshop.

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Battling Behirs II
Or-- will the third verse be the same as first?

__electric_wyvern___by_sangheili117-d6l4qp8.pngGathered on the rune-carved stone at the mouth of the vale, our heroes reconsidered their alliance with the wizard Menso. They decided that he could not be trusted, and must be dealt with once for all. So they resolved to rest, and strike out at dawn to put an end to this menace.

They could hear the flapping of great wings above them in the mists so they doubled up on watches. Almost as soon as he fell asleep, Boomah had a dream, and awoke shouting that they must go now.

The others questioned this change of plans, but the goblins plea of “lady says go, we go!” convinced them.

They traveled only a few hundred feet before a lightning bolt hits Kallius from the sky. They see a blue shape in the mist, but have no real means of targeting, so they keep running.

It fires again, hitting Saerin. They keep running, hoping to escape the mists. Soon it is thinning, but another blue monstrosity charges out at the ranger. While they turn to face it, the flying shadow sends more lightning down on the priests. A;also struck, Kallius goes downbut manages to cling to life.

They realize that the beast on the ground is a simulacra of the original monstrosity, and combine their attacks on it. It cannot withstand their assault and collapses into a heap of alchemically animated flesh.

The flying behir descends on Kallius in a rage, demanding the filthy dragon blood stay dead. He falls again, but Dremahl and Celeste combine to keep him among the living.

Seeing the group collect around it, the beast decides to take flight.  But before it can get too high, Celeste strikes it with an oracle curse that makes it go blind. They manage to hit it with a few arrows as it wings clumsily away without its sight.

Our heroes continue out of the vale, following the goblin’s warning. Several minutes later they hear the crack of lightning back in the cleft. A tumult is heard in the distance as the group hurries on looking for a place to hide. They find a cave to hide out in, committed to going back in them morning and killing whatever is left.

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Wizard on the Wing
Or-- Misty Mountain Hop

Screen_Shot_2016-07-26_at_10.25.07_AM.pngNot wanting to give any enemies’ any more time to prepare, our heroes set of immediately into the misty crack in the canyon wall. But they did not get very far into the mists before they heard the sound of wings above them,. Then they saw a white-haired figure descending. It was Menso.

They allowed him to land, and he welcomed him to his vale. Keeping some distance, he explained that this place and the notes he ‘received’ from the party has opened the gates of a new world, and ultimate power if they would only help him.

All he wanted was their blood. Kallius’ and Celeste’s blood to be specific. He told them that the ancient wizard Sciao Si’ang spent his life trying to unite dragon and humanoid blood— to combine dragons’ power with our free will. He may not have succeeded, but somehow the oracle and the magus’ had done it naturally.

Boomah, suspicious but eager to gain dragon power, noticed that there was somethin off about the wizard. In fatc, it was not the wizard at all!

The goblin told him so. The simulacra confessed that he thought they would try and murder him, hence the precaution.

Kallius refused to just hand over his blood to wizard, so he, Boomah, and Dremahl went to his lab to test the theory. Deeper in the valley, they were greeted by the real Menso, with unnaturally grafted bat wings on his back, and huge taloned claws where his hands once were.

They entered the ancient wizard’s cavern, and saw the stolen notes along with several annotated sheets and other equipment. Boomah tried to read Menso’s notes, but saw they were written in a cipher.

Menlo took an ankheg larva from a nearby tank, and injected it with Kallius’ blood along with other ingredients and performed a ritual. The ankheg turned a burning red, got very hot, and exhaled a small gout of fire. Satisfied with the result, he swiftly the stabbed the poor creature and left it for later dissection.

Meanwhile, the others tried to explore the valley on their own, and Luix was struck by lightning from the behir abomination circling above. They reconsidered.

In the end, the groups rejoined and were left to rest in the valley. The were told not to explore beyond the entrance to the lab, or to cross the river. They were also warned that ankhegs were breeding in the caves on the cliff wall, and to be careful. All good, they said, and settled in to sleep.

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A standup fight, or another bug hunt?
Or-- Attack of the protected intellectual property

hqdefault.jpgThe morning after the bat attack, our heroes woke in the mongrels’ camp. Celeste and Dremahl used their healing powers to purge the leprosy from infected creatures. Müt used her summoned minions to drag the filthy corpses farther from the village.

While she appreciated their aid, the leader believed that the bats were hunting for the party, and their presence was a danger to her tribe. So our heroes set off for the vale of the Pale Mother.

They traveled down the main branch of the Faelit river for several hours. They came across a clearing that looked it had been torn up by some mighty force. Trees had been uprooted and holes were everywhere. A quick search revealed no obvious cause of the damage, so our heroes gave the area a wide berth.  

Later they came across a stream with strange mists rising from it. It radiated only faint magic, and they considered avoiding it as well. Remembering that the Pale Mother’s valley was filled with mists, they reconsidered and pushed up the stream.

Finally, they followed the stream up toward the valley wall, and came to a rent in the cliff wall filled with swirling mists. The river poured out of the cleft. They searched around for tracks and found nothing.

The gathered closer together and moved into the mist. As it closed about them, Saerin felt a strange rumbling beneath his feet. He shouted a warning as the earth gave way and large clawed hands tore loose and surrounded the party.

The burrowers turned out to be squat insect-aspected biped with long claws and terrible mandibles. Between their segmented eyes laid two disturbing human-like eyes that seemed to draw them into madness.

The ranger’s warning gave them a chance to prepare and attack the brutes as they burst from the ground. The mists complicated the struggle, as the creatures would get lost in the haze. Battle was joined, and the creatures soon felt our heroes’ steel. Celeste cast sanctuary and stepped around the slashing creatures to share her healing powers.

Mantis-copy2.pngThe party was holding their own against the brutes, when they heard the beat of wings in the mist. Peering through the haze, the saw two large winged creatures, similar to the brutes on the ground but much more reminiscent of the ankhegs within the Gilt Hall caves. The flyers spit a volley of acid down into the fray.

Boomah managed to entangle one of the flyers with alchemical loogies, and hampered its flight. They were not the most gifted in flight and stayed close to the party, within their range.

Try as they might, the four-eyed mysteries fell one by one to the party, The last of the flying creatures dropped int take out the magus, who turned the full power of his magic against it. The creature did not prevail.

tumblr_o6k7ywJKKC1qeqf5oo1_500.jpgWith the the enemies defeated, our heroes turned to face the misty vale before them.

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Wings of the Storm
Or-- Clerics without Borders

b6_1_.jpgOur heroes accepted the hospitality of the misshapen Müt and her mongrel tribe. She told them that the valley has always been plagued by strange creatures, and they assumed they were birthed by Pale Mother. But for the past couple weeks there have been a real influx of insect-aspected dangers. In fact, an entire hunting party of warriors vanished with in the past week.

A thunderstorm came up in the middle of the night, and shook the crowded hut. Boomah thought he heard a scream, but no one else heard a thing. He stuck his head out to look, and saw a man-sized creature fall from the sky and crash to the ground. Two other creatures scurried over to it. Boomah woke the chieftain, who told him not to worry, and that her people patrolled the village by night.

But then he saw a large winged creature swoop down and slash one of the creatures. Shockingly, they both doubled over afterward as the dark shadow flapped away.

Saerin clambered out of the hut and saw several dark shapes in the stormy sky. He started firing his bow, and was swarmed by filthy, vermin-infested bats nearly his own size. One screeched and put fear deep into out heroes, but only the magus Kallius fell victim to its cry.

Luix followed out, and the two faced several fly-by attacks. Kallius soon joined them, and one of the beasts crashed to the ground at his feet. It was only temporarily dazed, but he took advantage of the moment to slash mercilessly.

The bats turned away from our heroes and started tearing into huts, Müt called lightning, as well as a swarm of bats. The others fired ranged weapons and charged ones they could.

By the time the beasts were defeated, many members of the tribe had been infected by the diseases carried by the filth-ridden bats.

They healed what they could, and agreed to leave after healing more in the morning.

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