Tempest Rising

Twig and Bearies
Or-- Should never have packed those pic-a-nic baskets

na_da_by_weremoon-d6cuirw.jpgOur heroes managed to recover from the rough entrance into the alchemist’s, and convinced the shop maiden to let them seek out her master. He explained some of the local custom’s of Valder,such as the mother-dog idol that many folk believe is the region’s protector. He even sold Boomah some alchemical components before they quit his establishment.

They decided their next goal should be take a look at the environment around the small village. Allowing their elven hireling Borealis to lead, they set off into the country. It was soon apparent that the landscape was more than natural, as the ancient stone walls and hedgerows seem to shift and move as they moved through them. A strange mist clung in the low places, and many members of the group felt stronger and had difficulty remembering which direction they had come to last.

The afternoon lingered long in pale sunlight. They were moving down a steep decline in the path, when suddenly a large bush in the center of the clearing unfurled a carpet of foliage and surrounded them. The fronds were writhing and thorny, and the group had difficulty moving through them. The central mass of the horrid plant seemed capable of rising up from any point within the mass ad striking out with its viny tentacles.

To complicate matters, the thrashing drew a swarm of bloated strikes that nested nearby. The bloodsucking monsters were little danger by themselves, but distracted our heroes and harassed Boomah, who had taken to the sky.

The group suffered scrapes and minor bloodletting, but prevailed in the end. Kallius detected for magical auras within the creatures mass, and discovered a trio of bodies half-buried in the roots. Two were armored, and one carried a flashing longsword with a plea gem in its hilt. Delving deeper into its magic, he learned that the sword itself could store spells within the gem. The third body seemed to be a wizard, and carried a wand and several scrolls. Two of them also wore the the mother dog idol around their necks.

The magus gathered up their goods, and offered to take the weight of their treasure off the goblin. Boomah, with his magically enhanced carry power, assured the elf that it would be no burden. Kallius also suggested that they return the bodies to Vader, as it may endear the locals to their presence.

The day was fading, and there concerns about the shifting landscape led them to decide to wait out the night in the wild, rather than trying to get back to the village. They found a covered spot at the top of a ridge, and settled in to make camp.

The early evening passed without incident, with Boomah and the elf Borealis exchanging tales. Although the elf gave little in return. The deepest part of the night passed as well, but the group became aware of strange rapid growth of the plants around the top of the ridge.

bear_valley_sketch_by_abigbat-d5mbghj.jpgAs dawn started making tentative moves across the sky, Kallius heard a snuffling sound down the ridge on his watch. Moving downhill in the darkness ho could see movement below, and noticed that several sapling-sized flowers growing around the edge of a copse. Getting closer, he sees that two huge bears are shaking a flower stalk, releasing a cloud of pollen. Then he notices one of them stop and start sniffing the air in his direction.

He fired an arrow beyond the bears into the brush, and one lumber off to investigate. The other was not duped, and continues to growl and snuffle, searching the air for signs of the elf.

Kallius decides to get back to camp, and retreats. Unfortunately, two more of the massive, shadowy bears had arrived and follow him back into the group. Battle was taken up, and it was soon apparent that shadows that clung to the bears disguised their locations, and blows did not always strike true. But blows were struck, and the bear were finding our heroes to be a difficult morsel to swallow.

One of the bears went down under the group’s attack, but three stood. And while the battle raged, a rising hum was heard on the wind, and was growing in intensity. Like a the drone of bees, but deeper. And getting closer.

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Stranger in town
Or-- Look into the eyes of the dragon, and run!

8523cb_bc6fff7e182819b280e5035ca674857a.jpg_1024.jpgOur heroes spent the night in the dragon’s tower, plotting their next move. They chose not to sneak up into the top of the tower, but instead buying their concerns to the dragon itself. They told the King of Justice that they wanted to seek the gnome on their own, and in the end he relented.

Looking through the scrying mirrors, they saw a small cabin in a forest clearing, a scene that was very familiar to Kallius. Then, a brightly clad gnome came out the front door, and rolled out a rug in front of the entry.

The dragon could not pinpoint an exact location, so he sent the party into the general area. They were all teleported to rustic, hilly region on the western fringes of a large forest called the Thornwood.

Upon landing, they sought out a nearby village to gather information. It was a quaint frontier village of humans, halflings and gnomes on the wooded frontier known as Valder. They went to the inn to ask around, and came across a shadowy elf lurking in a darkened corner. Kallius hailed his kindred brother, but the elf was stunned and frightened by the magus’ draconic visage.

The elf overcame his initial shock, and agreed to guide them through the wilds. Celeste noticed that the elf was in fact a small humanoid in some kind of disguise, but did not break his cover.

They moved out into the marketplace, looking for clues. They saw a tall, spare human who obsessively picking out produce. Once again, the magus took the lead, and the man fled. They pursued, and followed him into an herbalist shop, and came across a buxom young lass who offered to assist them.

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Blood will tell
Or-- Out, damn spot!

c4206b3a547c86e319943618d9b583df--fantasy-paintings-fantasy-art.jpgFollowing their escape from Sciao Si’ang’s olde world retreat with the sash and the dragon orb, our heroes were met by a group of archons in the service of the King of Justice. They had since learned that the orb held the spirit of a dragon and it was an item of great power, but they remained committed to returning it to their patron.

The archons teleported them back in the dragon’s mountaintop tower, and were welcomed. True to his word, Lareth drew his own blood and performed the ritual to purge her of draconic essence. She was transformed, but in the process her bloodline was revealed to her in full.

She was part of a long line of humans that had been selectively bred to increase their draconic potential by a group of shadowy Valessans. Many times in the past, spiders have risen up to wipe out their line, but they had never been fully successful. Her father had been spirited away from Bar Omaro in one of those purges, and hidden away in the city of Chalced. He was bred to a woman of similar lineage, and she bore twins. Celeste was born frail, half-blind, and weak, and was sent by servants to die of exposure. They felt pity and instead gave the baby to a family of forest dwellers near the old family estate.

The fate of her stronger, healthier brother is unknown.

This prompted greater curiosity about Kallius and his mysterious past. They asked the dragon, who said that the magus was ‘made’ and not born, and that he was looking into the situation. Then they cast Blood Biography and determined that he was indeed an elf, and that has entire lineage only went back tow and a half years.

They followed up with the knowledgeable dragon statue about events at that time, and learned that a red dragon named Khallid-Duz had been dispatched by a powerful gnome who crushed it inside its mountainous lair. No body was ever recovered, however. The gnome was named Fizbit, and matched the description of the one our heroes freed from the spider dimension.

This raised alarms to the elf. who suggestion the group abandon their plan of returning to Wytchport, and instead find the gnome before the dragon could put him on trial. They decided the quickest method of doing that would be to use the dragon’s divination chamber, so they set out to do just that.

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Stone in Love
Or -- Love on the rocks

14ac42eb95a9b834c564106b35026908.jpgOur heroes had gotten separated, with Luix, Saerin, and Dremahl moving down the side hallway, leaving the others in the central chamber surrounded by statues. They moved through a couple small chambers, and then the floor below them erupted in stony spikes. Even worse, rubbery from the flagstones rose up in a vaguely feminine shapes and attacked.

Even though simply moving caused them damage, the trio fought hard against their stony foes. Luix heavy flail smashed one down, only to have it reform and take up the fight. Meanwhile, Kallius dug out a pouch of void dust he had gotten from the Mephitan priest in Rotterdam. He tossed it at the barrier that held them back, and coil see sparks and shifting currents as the magic was disrupted. Needing little encouragement, Boomah leaped when he did it again, and found himself on the far side of the barrier.

The battle against their rocket adversaries continued, and Saerin realized it might be hopeless. So he rush to the end of the hall un hopes of getting past their defense. Unfortunately, the two stone warriors crumbled and reformed before the door at the passage’s end, blocking his progress. In the end, they chose to quite the field before fighting any more.

In the chamber flanked by the massive statues of a dragon and a man, Kallius and Celeste (with Boomah’s assistance) has decided that each of the carved statements were merely half of the wizard’s credo, and combined them to say “The Gods’ Order Are Not Safeguards Of Mortal Free Will. Knowledge Barriers Overcome Reveal the Divine Power” With this, the dragon statue began to move and orb in its claw sloughed off its stony casing to reveal a gold-banded sphere filled with swirling color.

This appeared to be the item that the dragon Lareth had tasked them with retrieving. But before they could celebrate, a female figure stepped out form within a statue and demanded that our heroes return her husband’s legacy. They did not agree, and lashed out with spells and weapons on the stone woman.

She fled into the stone of the wall, but not before Kallius realized that she was the same woman they had seen a statue of in the mine below Bar Omaro, including the same scaling disfigurement of her skin. One addition was a sash seemingly made of flowing water that wrapped over her shoulder and around her waist.

The entire floor of the chamber suddenly filled with spiky stones, and two now-familiar warrior shapes coalesced from the rubble. Plus, a vortex of living water rose up and rocketed the priest of the floor.

Reunited, except for the goblin trapped beyond the barrier, they took up the fight. They smash away at the stone warriors, but can not seem to get a shot at the maiden herself. Kallius decides to threaten to destroy the collection of Sciao Si’ang’s notes he carries, in an effort to draw her out.

This ploy succeeds, and the maiden with her shield maidens appear around the magus to tear the book from his grasp. Undaunted, he grapples with the stony leader in hopes that hiS allies will arrive in time.

The group rushed to his aid, and focused their energies on her destruction. A booming crack is heard, and the maid crumbles to rubble.

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Calamari Carnage
Or-- Octopus' Sculpture Garden?

squid_wizard_by_zackattack667-d38b236.jpgBoomah found himself alone with the devilfish sorcerer, and the two squared off. Things looked dire when suddenly the evil leader split into multiple forms, and when the goblin attacked the phantasms exploded in electrical blasts.

The others were moving down to assist him, and were being sniped by a crossbow wielder on the far slide of the slitted wall.

Luix had stayed behind, and was attacked by two devilfish who swam out from their inky cloud. The big warrior stood tall, and finished off the enemies. He then broke through the door he was up against, and gained access to the sniping devilfish.

Saerin had made it through and he and the goblin crashed through exploding phantasms. When they had narrowed down the enemies to one, it did not take long to dispatch him.

The lone defender came face-to-face with Luix, and after seeing the damage he could cause, squeezed through an arrow slit to escape. This brought him in range of the rest of the party, and that did not end well.

With the defenders defeated, our heroes searched the complex. They found a few chambers filled with destroyed furniture and gear, and some ancient items of value. They also found a stairway that led up to the base of the lake. Once they were comfortable that the area had been explored, they returned to the site of the devilfish ambush.

Moving through the last remaining door, they discovered a staircase descending deeper beneath the lakebed. At the base of the stairs stood a door. Beyond the door, they faced some kind of barrier that helps the water at bay.

They pushed through, and discovered that any enchantments placed on them had been dispelled. Without the magic to breath water, forward was the only choice.

The room beyond was epic in scale, its arched ceiling supported by two large statues flanking the doorway. One was a dragon holding an orb and a scroll, its massive wings holding up the rooms’ arches. The other was a human holding a sword and a book, with the towers and battlements behind him serving a similar task. The other points of the octagonal chamber featured statues of an elf, orc, dwarf, lizardfolk, gnoll, hobbit, goblin, and a gnome. Closer inspection revealed the dragon’s scroll contained the words:
The Gods
Are Not
Of Mortal
Will.
Barriers
Reveal the
Divine

The man’s scroll was inscribed with:
Order
Safeguards
Free
Knowledge
Overcome
Absolute
Power

A large door stood opposite their entry.

Concern about the dangers posed by the chamber, our heroes thoroughly search the area. Behind the epic-scaled human statue they found a small door. A small group led by the ranger spit off to investigate the hallway beyond.

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Shots in the Dark
Or-- Red ink

d539f1348f7122cedac59275cc716926.jpgKnowing that enemies lurked on the far side of the door, our heroes debated how to best to proceed. They decided to send in the priest for a subterranean assault.

Dremahl earth-glided under the floor, rose up from the earth past their defenses, and blasted the devilfish with his boulder-head mace. Following that the group busted in, but the enemy was prepared. They filled the chamber with black ink, and let crossbow bolts and lightning bolts fly. Both Saerin and Luix charged into the darkness to try and find their enemies. Kallius shot all the way through the cloud, and spotted one on the far side, the beast drifting out of the murk to line up a lightning bolt.

Saerin was struck by lightning, and followed the path of said bolt out of the darkness. There he stumbled out directly below the sorcerous cephalopod. Meanwhile, Celeste summoned a trio of sharks and sent them into the ink. Dremahl — out of reach to do much healing — sent in three of his own. Luix followed the ranger to join in circling the devilfish, and Boomah found himself in the same place by following along the inky wall.

Seeing things going against it, the devilfish inked the area and sprinted away. The other devilfish were locked in combat with sharks and were left behind. Saerin swam after the escapee, followed by Dremahl. Celeste had kept a shark in reserve to ferry her around, so she too joined the chase group. Luix and Kallius stayed behind to guard and try to take out the last two devilfish, who had just dispatched the remaining sharks.

As the first one down the hall, Saerin was struck by a crossbow bolt from an arrow slit in the passageway, and a magic missile from the darkness at the far end. Boomah, quick-footed as usual, shot past the group and out the far door. Only to slam into the devilfish sorcerer. Taken aback by the tiny alchemist’s speed, all it could do was lash out and try throttle him. The wily goblin wriggled free of its grasp.

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Water Works
Or-- Let it flow

eef57fb488f43d54c4f64806bc6cdbcc.jpgOur heroes found themselves on the symbol of the ancient wizard Scaio Si’ang in a bubble of air. They quickly dug out the old blood mage’s keystone from Boomah’s pack, and reappeared in a flooded chamber of swirling water. Searching the walls, they noticed that (a) the goblin actively avoided one shadowy corner, and (b) one of the corner pillars seemed to be spewing water at a fairly strong pace. They opened a doorway cunningly built into the pillar, and found a cramped staircase within. The current moving swiftly against them.

They fought their way up and through another rotting door, and found a room with two large framed mirrors. The first was spewing the water, and as they got close some hideously barbed tentacles seemingly made of water lashed out at them. Backing off, they checked out the one in the opposite corner. It was surrounded by a hemisphere of air, and they could see clouds skimming along inside the frame.

Recognizing that these were portals to elemental planes, they experimented. They noted that the symbols around the edges of the frame were words (in a language they did not know), and that you could change locations within the plane with command words. Kallius used his knowledge of the planes to recall the origin of powerful winds, and Celeste summoned an air elemental to ‘translate’ this location into Auran to increase the pressure from the air portal.

Succeeding at this, they turned to the water portal and turned it toward a low-pressure tide pool area. This offset the balance of the two, and stopped the water from pouring out of the room.

Moving back down, they went to check out the area that they knew that the goblin avoided, against his expressed opinion that ‘nothing’ was there. They found a crack leading to a natural fissure out into the lake itself. Kallius crawled in, and was quickly encased in aqueous orb and pounded around the narrow cave. Dremahl used clairvoyance to see down the cave, he found a massive croc-headed eel floating in a shaft. They decide to let it be.

Returning to the door in the room they entered by, Dremahl used his third eye to spot three devilfish hiding behind overturned stone tabletops covering the entrance with crossbows.

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What Lies Beneath
Or-- Bursting their bubble

da092ed074b20124e87e0609be363ebf.pngHaving chased off the gigantic aquatic worm, our heroes found themselves at the bottom of the lake overlooking a ruined compound. In its center was a shimmering bubble inside a circle of broken pillars. Boomah spotted a figure moving around in the shadows between the columns, and gathered up his comrades.

As they swam closer, a second figure appeared in the murk. Not everyone on the group was adept in the water and the group began to separate. There was a flash, and suddenly an otherworldly frog-like monstrosity appeared among them and viciously attacked Saerin. It seemed as if the beast’s bite was venomous, and the the ranger slumped unconscious.

While the ranger’s allies tried to attack the outsider, it vanished again and reappeared next to the bubble. Then it rolled the elf inside the hemisphere.

He awoke in a bubble of air in the center of the ring of pillars. And, looming over him was some kind of hellish lobster-hybrid. Its massive claws crashed down as the ranger tried to steer clear.

Both Kallius and Luix fell to the poison of the daemons, and were deposited before their master, rudely being dropped through the bubble’s surface to the ground below. Luckily, the sudden influx of air and the quick return of gravity roused them before the beast could feast on them.

The three warriors faced off against the massive leader of this trio from the underworld, while
the goblin and priests took on the others. The combined efforts of bombs, blows, and the rays of lantern archons eventually wore down the two frog-like daemons. And the powerful blows of the clawed behemoth proved no match for the attacks of the northman, the ranger and the magus.

With the defenders dispatched, the group found themselves on or floating above a pocket of air, with the symbol of the ancient blood mage Sciao Si’ang carved on the stone beneath them.

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Worms and bait
Or-- I thought these things smelled bad on the outside

Laguna-Yahuarcocha.jpgFollowing the encounter with the mud warriors, our heroes looked for a place to rest before diving into the rift lake. Saerin returned, and said he’d found a cave large enough to hide in to at least escape being sighted from the air. So the group crowded in and spent the night in close quarters.

In the morning, Dremahl cast water breathing for everyone, and the group descended in to the the blood-red depths. After more than a half hour of trudging along the steep bottom of the lake, the group began to realize they might need a faster form of recon.

ElectricEel-Journey2.jpgSo, they sent Boomah was scouting ahead, trailed by a summoned water elemental. The creature quickly vanished, but the intrepid goblin continued his search. Not long after, he saw a flicker of light on the murky bottom.

Moving toward it, he was suddenly assaulted by a giant aquatic worm. The massive creature swallowed him whole, leaving the alchemist in a literal tight spot.

He used a freezing bomb to harden an area within the beast, and shattered the frozen spot with the borrowed seaborne sword. Then, he used every bt of his enhanced speed to escape the creature before it tried again.

He returned to the group in a panic, and they chose to disputed the menace. Moving within range of its underwater lair, they lured it out with summoned dolphins . It lunged out of its whole to take the bait, and was blasted by a lightning bolt from Kallius. It thrashed around looking for the source of the pain, and only found attacking dolphins. It swallowed one of the pestering creatures, but was again met by a stroke of lightning.

However, it had enough punishment by apparently exploding dolphins, and rocketed off into the murky depths.

A quick look in its cave revealed little, and they continued on toward the light. There they found a group of ruined buildings and what seemed to be a ring of fallen columns surrounding a half-sphere was filled with a swirling glow. And in the shadows cast by the glow, a bipedal figure moved between the columns.

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Mud rassling
or-- Dirty work

You_Can_t_Scare_Me_-_artwork.jpgAccepting the draconic King of Justice’s offer, our heroes teleported to a far-away valley where Sciao Si’ang once held sway.

Appearing several hundred feet above the ground to throw off pursuit, they drifted down to the shore, and could see no signs of civilization surrounding the blood-red murky lake. They noted a group of gigantic water insects flitting across the open water, but little other signs of life. When they landed, they sent the ranger off to find a safe place to camp and looked around.

Celeste summoned a water elemental, who did widening circles in the lake until it abruptly disappeared. Boomah went into the water to see what he could discover below the surface while the others took up defensive positions. Kallius spotted four thicker ‘clots’ of murky water moving swiftly toward them, and pulled the goblin on to the shore.

Seeing the mounds rear up, Boomah drank an infusion and left a flaming path up and down the shoreline. The creatures pulled up short, and launched thick gobs of mud at our heroes— two of them targeting to hit the blind oracle.

The water and muddy shoreline was no aid to combat, and many mishaps took place as the battle raged. Two summoned archons even collided on the open water.

The mud beasts were resilient, but between the flames and the assaults of the warriors they were slowly being returned to the earth. When the last one was a felled by a spell-fueled blade, there was little evidence of the combat beyond a few wounds and a scorched shoreline.

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