Fury of the Immortals

The Story so Far...
Fury of the Immortals

The party has become embroiled in a world and dimension-spanning competition for a dangerous artifact that could cause the destruction of the world of Mystara.  Below is a synopsis of what they have learned so far.  Of course, they could always throw in the towel and sail across the Sea of Dread in search of treasure.

The Radiance A source of dangerous power that has the ability to bend space, time and magic.  The glowing, many-legged creatures of Corran Keep and withered limbs of members of the Brotherhood of the Radiance suggests it also can cause mutations in living creatures.  It seems to cause repeated space-time rifts and portals and its presence can cause spells to go awry with bizarre consequences – Arcanists have come, unknowingly, to refer to these side effects of the Radiance as "the Wyrd."  Experienced Arcanists can manipulate it to empower their castings.  However, Rheddrian warns using its power to do so actually drains magic from the fabric of Mystara and, if abused on a large enough scale, could drain magic almost entirely from Mystara killing its many magical races and causing untold chaos.  Its abuse could also unbalance the Spheres of Power and rip Mystara apart.  The party witnessed both of these dangers in Prince Stephen d'Amberville's mausoleum – Niko successfully manipulated the Radiance via the Mirror Shield to drain magical life force from Rathanos and the unleashed forces of the Spheres of Power violently tore the tomb and its pocket dimension apart. 

To date, the party has not located the Radiance, but, in ancient Blackmoor they discovered that its presence was associated with black, twinkling stone scattered across that land.  They learned those stones were most concentrated near ruined, elven Uvaeren and the Valley of the Ancients – home to the City of the Gods.  A falling star both destroyed Uvaeren and carved out the Valley of the Ancients centuries before the founding of Blackmoor. 

Four thousand years later, in their own time, the party experienced the Wyrd in an around The Broken Lands.  Subterranean dwelling Shadow Elves also attempted to use its power to destroy Alfheim utilizing "Soul Crystals," which are of the same black, twinkling stone as encountered in Blackmoor.  King Doriath of Alfheim reported Shadow Elf prisoners divulged they mined their richest veins of Soul Crystals somewhere under Glantri

Arwan suspects that placing the modern location of the Valley of the Ancients will lead the party to the Radiance.   He reckons the tunnel found under the, now ruined, d'Amberville ancestral home in New Averoigne, Glantri may lead to the Radiance.

Rheddrian has asked the party to find out whatever they can about the Radiance and its location and has expressed his fears the growing global war on Mystara may be a result of Immortal competition to obtain it.

Rheddrian – A benefactor of the party, they originally discovered Rheddrian in Corran Keep trapped in the Mirror Shield – an effect caused by the Radiance.  Upon being released, he grew large, green and disappeared.  They then encountered him again in Blackmoor (normal-sized, but with a slightly greenish tint), a captive in the Temple of the Frog (a place filled with strange technological magics).  Returning to their own time, Rheddrian sought out their aid with Mystara's growing troubles.

His memory fuzzy from his thousands of years trapped in the Mirror Shield, Rheddrian and the party pieced together that he arrived to Mystara from across the stars.  His ship malfunctioned and crashed into the planet. He was awoken from a long sleep by mutineers and ended up their prisoner in the Temple of the Frog.  The mutineers were intent on using the Frog cult to build an army to capture further magics from the City of the Gods before the party disrupted their plans and rescued Rheddrian and his shipmate Rafiel.  When he learned of this, King Uther of Blackmoor offered the party great reward to lead an expedition to the City of the Gods, but they turned him down in favor of returning to their own time.

In a bid to gain their loyalty, Rathanos told the party that the "man in the shield" had been made immortal by his sojourn there and his exposure to the Radiance and that he could do the same for them.  The horrific immolation of the man Rathanos had strapped to the Mirror Shield  in the d'Amberville tomb suggested Rathanos had yet to perfect the technique.

Blackmoor - In spite of their unwillingness to assist King Uther of Blackmoor in recovering the magic of the gods, the party, called the "Far Travelers" in Blackmoor's legends, learned from the elders of elven Rovaeren that they inspired the men of Blackmoor to quest for it themselves.    The discovery of the "magic" of the gods in the Valley of the Ancients drove Blackmoor's civilization to new heights of technology, power and conquest.  Blackmoor grew into an empire and, before its collapse, it's civilization had even reached the stars.

Corruption took hold in Blackmoor's society and its death was sudden, violent and it came from the heavens.  Millions died in this "Great Rain of Fire," which was followed by a "Long Winter" and starvation.  Some chaos-tainted survivors of Blackmoor even made war on the elves of Rovaeren.  One fleeing tribe of those elves detonated an ancient, terrible weapon of Blackmoor to drive off their pursuers inadvertently creating The Broken Lands.  This calamity drove the tribe underground to later become the Shadow Elves.

Immortal Conflict – Rheddrian is deeply concerned that the world war breaking out across Mystara, pitting Glantri and Thyatis against Alphatia, runs deeper than typical political turmoil. He thinks it represents a war being fought among the Immortals, particularly because of the suspicious way in which it started.  Adding credence to this theory, whilst in the tent city of Sayr Ulan on the hunt for The Master, the party encountered his Vizier Ikol – whom they later realized was in fact Loki – an Immortal of the Entropic Sphere!  They learned from Loki that three factions of Immortals are warring among themselves – Star, Fire and Shadow

They learned that the Shadow faction, a collection of Entropic Immortals seeks only to exacerbate the conflict between the Immortals of Star and Fire and their nations of followers.  Hence, Loki, masquerading as the Hulean god Bozdogan, allowed another member of the Shadow faction, later discovered to be Alphaks, to "borrow" The Master and his Desert Nomads to make war on the Known World.  When the party finally defeated The Master, Alphaks took his vengeance by slamming a meteor into Glantri and Darokin, likely violating the Immortals' self-imposed rule against directly interfering with mortals.   The party later tracked Alphaks to a remote mountain in the ocean off the coast of Norwold where he had taken on a mortal form – perhaps to escape Immortal justice.  It was discovered he had opened a portal to the Sphere of Entropy to cover Norwold in deadly fumes to stoke a war amongst Alphatia's allies.  The Shadow faction hoped such a conflict would slow Alphatia's inexorable march to Thyatis' shores thereby prolonging the global war.  However, after a long, arduous and tragic journey through a distant part of the galaxy, the party decisively thwarted Alphaks destroying his poison mountain, his portal to Entropy and his fiery, demonic mortal form. 

Earlier, having tracked the Mirror Shield to the hidden tomb of Prince Stephen d'Amberville, the party learned that the Fellowship of the Star is led by the Immortal Rad, who took the mortal disguise of the first Prince of Glantri, Stephen d'Amberville.  Naturally, therefore, the Star faction patronizes Glantri, Thyatis and the Heldannic Knights in their war with Alphatia.  Its members include Rathanos, whom the party fought for control of the Mirror Shield, Vanya, patroness of the Heldannic Knights, and the "man wearing spectacles," whom Arwan concluded may be Rafiel, patron of the Shadow Elves and possible shipmate of Rheddrian.  According to Rathanos, the Star faction seeks to use the Radiance and sensitive objects to create Immortals and overturn the existing Immortal hierarchy.  Their proxies, the Brotherhood of the Radiance (below) also indicated they hope to turn the Radiance into a weapon for Glantri to use against Alphatia.

Rathanos charged the Ring of Fire, and its leader Ixion with seeking to enforce old fashioned traditions and hierarchy, which ultimately enslaves mortals to the wills of the Immortals.  As the Fire faction opposes the Star faction, they patronize Alphatia in its war against Glantri and Thyatis.  Its membership also includes, at least, the Alphatian Immortal Koryis, who sought to guide the party to success in their question to bring peace to Norwold and Ilsundal, patron of elves, since Alfheim was targeted for destruction by the Shadow Elves – proxies of the Star Faction.  It is possible other Immortals are at work to directly further the aims of the Fire faction.

It is likely the party's thwarting of Rathanos, recovery of the Mirror Shield, exposure of the mortal disguise of Rad, killing of members of the Brotherood of the Radiance, saving of Alfheim and preserving peace among the Alphatian allies of Norwold have earned them the enmity of the Fellowship of the Star and the patronage of the Ring of Fire.  They have also likely earned the undying emnity of the Brotherhood of Shadow.  Perhaps these actions will also hasten or ensure the victory of Alphatia over Glantri and Thyatis. 

ChaosIn addition to the battling gods of Mystara, it appears the cultists of malevolent extra-planar interstellar beings are also seeking the Radiance.  Rheddrian surmises they seek to use it open an inter-dimensional rift that would allow them to land an unstoppable, horrific invasion force that would consume all of Mystara.  Recently, humanoid warbands flying the banner of Chaos poured forth from The Broken Lands to lay siege to Glantri City exacerbating that beleaguered country's misery.

The forces of Chaos, called by many names, such as Warp Demons, the Elder Gods, the Great Old Ones or the Other Gods, are always lurking at the edges of civilization.  They seduce vulnerable minds prone to evil and corrupt them with offers of power.  Ultimately, however, few mortal minds can handle the aberrant horror of these beings and their sanity and bodies succumb to madness and deformity.  Typically, such cults pop up only to come to an end in orgiastic bloodshed. What makes corruption most dangerous is that, once its taint takes hold in a civilization, it can spread through it like wildfire.  Therefore, the taint of chaos must be stamped out at all costs.  As the party recently learned, chaos' pull was powerful enough to bring down the mighty empire of Blackmoor.

The Elder Gods themselves exist apart from the structure of the universe and the Spheres of Power, but are often associated with the corruption of a specific sphere.  For example, the Nithian followers of Amon-Gorlath became fire worshipping fanatics, as that being is connected to the Sphere of Energy, the sphere associated with magic and fire.

Followers of the forces of chaos can often be spotted by the signs of corruption their bodies bear or their lack of sanity.  Devoted cultists often also sport a blackened sun as a symbol of their allegiance.

Brotherhood of the Radiance - A secretive group of wizards seeking after objects associated with the Radiance, such as the fabled Mirror Shield, which they stole from under the party's nose.  Rheddrian was concerned what they might learn from it and hoped for its return – which the party accomplished.  In pursuit of the Shield the party traveled to Glantri City (where some of the initiates of the Brotherhood attend the Great School of Magic).  Little was known of the Brotherhood before the party ventured to Glantri City, except that some of it members wore a particular Pendant

However, the party ultimately learned a number of startling facts about the Brotherhood in Glantri, an alternate reality Averoigne and the hidden pocket dimension of Prince Stephen d'Amberville's tomb.  Most surprising, they learned that not only was Prince Stephen d'Amberville, Prince of Glantri and Grandmaster of the Great School, the head of the Brotherhood of the Radiance, but he was also the mortal disguise of the Immortal Rad.  Rad had been using this mortal disguise to manipulate the Brotherhood and the Shepherds of Rad to further the aims of the Fellowship of the Star.  Before his demise, Pennar revealed to the party that the Brotherhood hoped to learn how to use the Radiance as a weapon in Glantri's war against Alphatia.

Naturally, these revelations delighted Prince Malapietra – Prince d'Amberville's chief political rival – who encouraged the party to carry on their investigation and campaign of murder and intimidation against the Brotherhood.  "Prince d'Amberville" subsequently disappeared from public life leaving Malapietra the most powerful and ruling prince of Glantri.

Now the party must decide what to do next…

Potential leads the party has are:

  • A mad duke in Vestland whose madness may be a sign of the corruption of Chaos
  • Fanatical Ylari raiders scourging western Darokin
  • A potential Radiance sensitive object, the Star of Vanya, stored within the walls of Freiburg – a city now afflicted with a mysterious, corrupting plague
  • The humanoid forces of Chaos who have besieged Glantri City to some unknown end
  • Filandriel, the widow of Niko, who went missing while investigating the well-being of her family in the wake of the humanoid invasion of Glantri
  • The remote mountain temple of a dragon cult of great power
  • A map to an unknown shore that promises treasure
  • A deep pit and tunnel under the ruined Chateau d'Amberville leading who knows where
  • The trouble with giants, who have been said to consort with strange "blue elves," that is afflicting the Kingdom of Norwold
  • An offer by King Ericall of Norwold to sail "south" with his fleet at Springtide

GLOBAL WAR TIMELINE

Upon returning to their time, well, close anyway, from Blackmoor, the party found that their world was sliding rapidly into war.  Arriving home in 1005 AC, they find that the previous year's events (occurring while they sojourned in Blackmoor) had taken a dark turn.  Here is a timeline of the events of the war so far:

Spring 1004: Thyatian Revolts – The Isle of Dawn is divided between Thyatis and Alphatia in a very cold peace and has been for some time.   During the Spring of 1004, Thyatian soldiers and sailors in an around the Isle become more confrontational than usual.  This flexing of muscle and national pride is accompanied by an increase in the lavishness and frequency of Thyatis City's gladiatorial games.  The crowds seem to love it, but see a steady decline in their ration of bread.  Eventually, an enormous riot breaks out.  The legions within Thyatis City turn out to be too poorly-trained and fed to quell it.  Legions from outside the city must be brought to bear to end the rebellion.  This results in scandal and the exposure of widespread corruption and decadence among the empire's leadership.  A number of hardliners point the finger at the fashionable, like Helena Larameides, nicknamed Helena "Agapi" or Helena "Love" by her detractors for declining Thyatian backbone and weakness.   Others blame addiction to the zzonga fruit.  Many heads in the political and military establishment roll and Emporer Thincol I declares Thyatis will return to its days of martial glory – some say at the urging of his lover and advisor Anya Liontari, a self-made Kerendian warrior.

Spring 1004: Alphatia's Pride – At the same time, many of Alphatia's eccentric wizards have been boasting of their own prowess.  They have been particularly disparaging of Glantrian wizard's abilities.  Usually placid, some prominent priests of Alphatia have been accused of contributing to this nationalist fervor.

Spring 1004: A Spy Perishes – The body of a popular elf named Troikithus is found floating dead in a Glantri City canal.  After a brief investigation, it is revealed he was a Alphatian spy.

Summer 1004: Alphatian Proclamation – The Alphatian Council of Wizards issues a document countersigned by Empress Eriadna accusing the Glantrian Great School of Magic of harboring followers of dangerous, forbidden magic and Entropic Immortals.   Prince Etienne d'Ambreville, Grandmaster of the Great School, bemusedly responds that there are no followers of Entropic Immortals because all Immortal worship is outlawed in Glantri and no magic is forbidden.

Summer 1004: Death of Torenal – A party of Glantrian adventurers travel to the Alphatian capital, Sundsvall, with a message for the Empress.  They are last seen chatting with one of her elite generals, Torenal, before he ends up dead.  The adventurers are found drunk in an Alphatian tenement with his ashes.  They proclaim their innocence and strange, conflicting memories of the event are revealed under questioning.

Summer 1004: Heldannic Missionaries KilledHeldannic missionaries, warrior monks of Vanya, on a mission to the Ethengar Khanate are found dead riddled with arrows.

Summer 1004: Assassins Escape – The Glantrians accused of murdering General Torenal escape from the Alphatian Imperial Palace's dungeons.

Fall 1004: Glantrians Assassinated – A group of Glantrian nobles are obliterated by an onslaught of magical attacks during a dinner.  The perpetrators escape, but the sole survivor Prince Innocenti di'Malapietra testifies they were dressed as Alphatians.

Fall 1004: Thyatis Intrudes – The Glantrian princes send a message to Alphatian Empress Eriadna demanding the assassins be turned over to their justice. Emperor Thincol I of Thyatis sends Empress Eriadna of Alphatia a stern warning that the attack on Glantrian nobles was an obvious assassination and that Thyatis will not allow Alphatia to extend its territory through treachery.  Some Senators protest the move arguing that Thincol I's belligerence is a result of Anya's whispering in his ear.

Fall 1004: Heldanners Attack – Heldanners send punitive raids into Ethengar territory, reputedly slaughtering men, women and children.

Fall 1004: Asterius' Temples Burned – In Alphatia, dozens of temples of Asterius are burned.  Authorities capture a group of Glantrian elves of Erewan.  They claim they were envoys from Glantri to Darokin when they fell asleep and woke up in a burning temple.  Magical probing reveals they too have conflicting sets of memories about the event.  Peaceful Asterius' clergy actually advocate on behalf of the imprisoned Glantrian elves.  Still, Empress Eriadna rushes the case through the court and the elves are sentenced to death.

Winter 1004: Alphatian Armada Burns – The Glantrian adventurers who had previously escaped Alphatia's dungeons were hiding underground.  But, in a daring raid, they free the elves accused of burning Asterius' temples and flee.  They steal an Alphatian sky-ship from the city of Aasla.  In their escape, they set fire to the Alphatian sky fleet and it burns almost entirely before it can brought under control.

Spring 1005: War is Declared – After the burning of its sky fleet, Alphatia declares war on Glantri.  Glantri declares war in turn and so do its newfound allies the Empire of Thyatis and the Heldannic Knights.

Spring 1005: Master Seizes Sind – The Master of The Great Hule, a fanatical theocracy, seizes Sind on the borders of Glantri and the Republic of Darokin.

Summer 1005: Empires Build Forces – Thyatis and Alphatia spend the summer mobilizing for war.

Summer 1005: Alphatia Sends Monsters – Unable to attack Glantri directly yet, Alphatia appears to settle for the tactic of summoning monsters to Glantri.  Prince Etienne d'Amberville takes the lead in coordinating defensive efforts.

Fall 1005:  West Portage Falls – The Thyatians are shocked when the citadels of West Portage on the Isle of Dawn fall to Alphatian troops.  It stiffens their resolve to recapture their fighting spirit.  Some militant Senators call for the confiscation of estates of socialites like Helena Agapi to put towards the war effort, since they accuse them of dissipating Thyatian resolve.

Fall 1005: Nomads Invade Darokin – In a surprise attack, The Master's forces invade western Darokin and quickly capture the city of Akesoli before marching on towards Akkoros.  The Master claims he is the instrument of Bogdozan's will on Mystara.

Winter 1005: The Master Hammered – The Master falls at the hands of Daro adventurers calling themselves the "Raven's Companions."  In the aftermath, a vengeful meteor slams into southern Glantri and northern Darokin.  The Principalities of Caurenze and Erewan in Glantri are devastated and the resulting ash cloud threatens the harvest in Darokin.  Some speculate that the meteor may have been hurled by The Master's vengeful patron.

Spring 1006: The Master Retreats – With the loss of The Master, his forces retreat in the face of Darokin's army and their elvish, Traldaran and dwarven allies.

Spring 1006: Sabotage in Alphatia – Glantrian patriots make their way to Alphatia to conduct sabotage campaigns in the Alphatian capital of Sundsvall.  The damage is negligible, but the Alphatians are troubled.  Some of the Alphatian Council of Wizards accuse Etienne d'Amberville of organizing the attacks.

Spring 1006: Free Traldara Declares Neutrality – With their troops soon to return from the war against The Master, the revolutionary council of Free Traldara declares neutrality in the war between Glantri and Alphatia.  No one is surprised given that the Traldarans recently gained their independence from Thyatis.

Fall 1006: Twisted Trees of Alfheim – With the coming of fall, the trees of the Canolbarth forest begin to darken, twist and mutate in sinister ways.  The sickness afflicting the forest has spread beyond the Trees of Life.  The elves are still at a loss to explain it, though some point to the meteor ash cloud, as the forest becomes increasingly inhospitable.  Reportedly, adventurers discovered that a subterranean nation of Shadow Elves was trying to destroy Alfheim and replace those elves on the surface in the name of their immortal patron Rafiel.  These "Raven's Companions," thwarted the Shadow Elves' designs and saved the forest of Alfheim.

Fall 1006: The Abandoned Nation – Following the the return of their troops from the Second War of the Desert Nomad, the dwarves of Rockhome disappear deep within their mountains and shut their vast iron gates tight behind themselves. 

Winter 1006: Ethengar vs. Heldann – The hordes of the Golden Khan of Ethengar, driven by anger at the raids of "Vanya's Lions" and driven by hunger caused by the Glantri meteor ash cloud, launch of full-scale invasion of the Heldannic Territories.  They lay seige to the capital of Freiburg, which houses the knights' fortress temple of Vanya.

Winter 1006: Redstone Besieged – On the Isle of Dawn, the Alphatian army attempts to secure the center of the island, turning its attention to Redstone Castle.

Winter 1006: Ylari Raid Darokin - Taking advantage of Darokin's weakness in the wake of The Master's war, a brazen Ylari emir has begun raiding into western Darokin.  The emir's followers are whipped up by a zealous prophet of Al-Kalim calling himself the "Desert Rose" and their lightning raids catch the Daro completely off guard.  Within a matter of days, they seize the nearly defenseless city of Akesoli when the civilian authorities surrender to avoid massacres. It is said one of the emir's followers, a cruel Sheik Ismail, has sent some prisoners back to Ylaruam in slaver's chains.

Spring 1007: Ethengarians Swarm In the Heldannic Territories, the capital of Freiburg is still under siege. The armies of the Golden Horde continue to pour into the Heldann Territories, and some spill over into Soderfjord and Vestland, looking for more food and booty.

Spring 1007: No Heldann/Thyatis Treaty – While being honored in the court of King Ericall of Norwold, the party learned that a rumored treaty between the Heldannic Knights and the Empire of Thyatis never materialized.  The treaty would have formalized their alliance in opposition to Alphatia (and in defense of Glantri) and would have shored up Thyatis' northern border against any incursions by Alphatia from its Norwold colonies.  King Ericall chuckled to the party that the Thyatian Legate assigned this important mission turned out to be "a bumbling old fool who got lost on the way!  Can you believe it?!"

Summer 1007: Thar Looks to Glantri - Thar, the most famous orcish warband leader of The Broken Lands, lead the largest humanoid horde assembled in living memory to invade Glantri.  In a surprise move, they sidestepped traditional invasion routes and defenses and encamped in The Great Crater to use it as a base to pillage southern Glantri and harry northern Darokin – two regions already badly battered by recent events.  So far, Glantri City has managed to escape being overrun, but the siege is at a stand-off.  Some blame the inexperience of Glantri's Prince Malapietra for his not being able to mount an effective counterattack.

Summer 1007: Newkirk, Redstone Fall – Stymied at the walls of Redstone Castle on the Isle of Dawn, the Alphatians send reserve forces further north in a surprise attack against Newkirk.  They smash through the city's defenses and occupy the city.  A heroic defense by the Eastern Thyatian Legion allows a majority of Thyatian troops to evacuate to Dawnpoint in the Duchy of Tel Akbir in Thyatis proper.  Within a couple of weeks, the commanders of Redstone Castle realize their situation is hopeless and surrender leaving Alphatiain control of the central parts of the Isle of Dawn from West Portage up to Redstone.  The morale of Thyatian troops continues to deteriorate as Alphatia's advantage in manpower begins to take its toll.

Winter 1007: Plague Hits Freiburg – In the Heldannic Territories, the Knights' encircled city of Freiburg is ravaged by a sudden and swift-spreading plague.   The Ethengar break their siege and flee in the face of epidemic.  Rumors heard in the Northern Reaches say the terrible disease warps and twists the bodies of victims in unnatural ways.

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Fire, Darkness, Light
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – Ambyrmont 21 1007AC

The Sage's Alehouse, Alpha, Norwold: Arwan, sporting a new tricorn hat, sipping a tankard of ale speaking to a group of sailors, some mud-spattered from wrestling in the Sage's pit, rapt by his words, as a large fire crackles in the Sage's stone hearth.

"Well, it began as it always does with a small pop and warmth. The whooshing feel of blood pumping through your veins as we run down the hall. My companion, the normally filled with light and glowing dwarf, sorry, “short human," sliding down the stairs riding atop a shield looking like a brilliant god.

Behind me our new companion, his muscles and scales straining and rippling holding the door shut while the pirate queen's first mate braces it against the vile, eye-stealing creatures that came from the darkness. Meanwhile, I am swinging from a chandelier trying to follow the head of fire that will hopefully lead us to the light and out of this shadowy abyss.

The pirate queen didn’t lead me to the light right away, but aye, did she lead me to some fire. Passion I haven’t had in quite awhile – to the point where I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time. I had hoped that she would do the right thing even though deep down I knew redemption was not what she sought, she craved power.

What followed was a different kind of fire. The kind from ships being torn asunder under the weight of mighty beasts. While me and our new companion put out the lights of the pirate queen, one man whose stories will be told for generations, flew like a glowing beacon of hope against one of the many tentacled beasts – on his own. His name is Eaeros.

He fought and almost single handily bested the best. The colorful hero stood alone against the potential fleet killer, while we contended with the other one dodging its great massive tentacles crashing along the bow of the ship. And we did prevail. Thanks to Dalton none of the crew was lost. All this while Sophia somehow slept/meditated through it all with Saiku. This was not the end of our journey however.  We found the key to get back to the light, a treaty of betrayal that sundered the alliance that was preventing us from peacefully making our way home.

Alas, the sorrow that darkened our hearts from the loss of Niko lit a fire of conquest in our colorful Eaeros. He convinced the Admiral, great hairy arms and all, to stand and fight anyway.

Dalton and I decided to try to rush to the Guild against orders and force peace before our fleet clashed with the invading fleet and perhaps  to get a key for stopping the demons' poisonous cloud threatening Norworld.   Meanwhile, Eaeros stops an enemy fleet from destroying ours a second time allowing our ships to scatter their forces. If that wasn’t unbelievable enough he fought a great dragon in the middle of the darkness of space. The battle was fierce and neither side gave in, but Eaeros does not quit, he does not fail, and when their are lives that must be saved, he prevails!

The sound started as a whisper as the fleet chanted for their champion to fight off the great serpent. The whispers became yells, the yells become shouts, and it grew louder! Then waves came crashing in against the shore during the storm, and he finally slayed the beast. 

His legend would be thought of as myth if not for all the sailors still retelling his tale. With this bold action, the fire was ignited in all of us to get back to Norworld and finally save it.

We returned to a dark iron fleet full of death, decay, and foul creatures. When all seemed to not be in our favor a great light erupted from the sky and Koryis’ ancient dragons held the dark fleet at bay by freezing the water and their fleet while we sped to the mountain and made our way to the foul demon.

The demon waited for us in the guise of a human, but we already knew it’s true form with its dark hourglass beckoning destruction. We found out some uncomfortable truths however. The one sending us into darkness and the field where we lost our poor Niko was Vanya.

I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same without having him around. He saw an uncle in me, but I saw a son in him. He was our light that kept us together.

I took out my rage, my despair, my everything.

The battle was hard fought, and the knave did not give in no matter how much we battered him. The battle was turning against us, until our light returned from the darkness. Niko came down in a shadowy form and turned over the hourglass severing whatever tether that was holding the demon here. The battle raged on, but the tides were turned. Even with Dalton losing his mind to what appeared to be the axe’s bloodlust and poor Sophia being knocked down low by the demon, we threw back the foul creature to whence it came. With Sophia safe in my arms and Dalton on Eaeros’ back we made our way to the skyship, back to our remaining light. Home."

55th and 56th sessions – XP10,400  (total all sessions: 146,205XP)

 

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The Path
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – Ambyrmont 11 1007AC

"There are no wrong turnings.  Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk," whispered Sophia to Saiku.  The little empathic dragon wrapped its tail around her shoulders like a shawl to comfort her as she stared into the asteroid cluster from the deck of Captain Mabarac's Guild Ship. 

"That is what my Teacher would say to me.  I thought he was only trying to make me feel better about what I had lost.  But, I think I know what he meant now.  We are needed here…wherever here is."  Sophia just was not sure whether it was the people of Norwold, the three kingdoms of Old Alphatia, or her new companions who more urgently required help.  She shivered a bit in the ever present cold of the void and Saiku hugged her more tightly.

"When we left for Norwold, I thought our new companions knew where they were heading.  They were confident, powerful, worldy.  Now they seem as lost as everyone else in the fleet."  Saiku wrapped her head around to look Sophia in the eyes.  Sophia could feel a sadness masked by anger welling up in her and wetness around her eyes as the little dragon communicated the feelings of the others. Sophia smiled a weak grin at Saiku, "You do not have to be empathic to know that is what they are feeling.  It is written on their faces.  It seems we have all traveled far…both in body and soul."

"The boy Niko, I hardly got to know him.  He was genuine and sweet.  His death has been hard on this small family.  He meant more to them than some let on and there has not been a proper time to mourn.  Where his path lies, only he knows.  Perhaps if we had entered the rift to the Plane of Death he could have been summoned back.  But, a soul must be willing…"

"Arwan, he tries to walk the path of peace among these three strange kingdoms, yet cannot hold his closest friends together.  The mantle of peacemaker is new to him and he does not wear it comfortably, but he is persuasive."  Sophia recalled how Arwan convinced the Admiral to hold the fleet back, even after the Gammar tried to kill him.  "I hope he can coax the Guild to embargo the three star kingdoms, so we can traverse their space and the Magic Mists without a fight."

"Eaeros is a mystery to me.  He values his friends highly, yet works against them in earnest.  At the feast of Dalton's vision he talked the drunken Admiral into sending the fleet along with the Delthan knights to attack Gammar.  On the outside he seems charming, affable, but there are secrets and sadness in him that not even his flowery perfumes can cover up.  I think this life is not all he thought it would be."

"Dalton…he is brave surely, perhaps wise with experience.  He did not hesitate to face the Wyvern alone in the mountains and drink its burning poison. All astride the back of a Hippogriff.  He earned the Delthan's lion brand under his eye. Yet, he is oddly quick to fight for the servant of a pacifist god.  He is a healer of blood and bones, but these companions will need a healer of hearts."

Sophia chuckles nervously to herself a bit before continuing.  "And what of me? Do I not have my own secrets?  If I meant to travel far from my past…I doubt I could have gotten much further."  All that had transpired, particularly the golden bearded King Leosius, his bag of magic wind, and the woman who turned men to turkeys (she could not bring herself to eat the turkey at the feast), was certainly strange Sophia thought.  Still, she felt like an outisider, never quite fitting in, wherever she was. She hoped that would change with her new companions.

"In some ways these ruins of Old Alphatia torn apart in some magical civil war does not feel very different from where we came from … kingdoms on the brink of war and behind it all the whims of selfish Immortals.  Yes, if we ever leave here, we will attempt to destroy this Alphaks.  We will succor the innocents of Norwold.  But, it worries me it will serve the ends of Vanya who gave Dalton the vision of the poison mountain and Koryis whose concern for peace in Norwold will mean Alphatia will be free to continue its war against Thyatis and Glantri.  I do not think that doing the right thing, whatever that is, will end the war at home."

"Perhaps this Guildhall of Merchants will be safer?"   Sophia was not at all surprised when the supposed meeting with the Belthar trade representative atop one of the Guild's fortress towers turned out to be an ambush.  She was glad to stand with the others against the danger of the oversized cricket-like creatures and their sharp pincers and mandibles.  If only the watery sacks of eyeballs digesting on their backs had not stunk so when ruptured.

51st, 52nd, 53rd and 54th sessions – XP10075  (total all sessions: 135,805XP)

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What Lies Beyond?
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – Fyrmont 6 1007AC

"In all my years and campaigns I've never seen anything like it…nor did I ever hope to," whispered Te'Sarkel to Jorel.  "There will be an extra ration of grog tonight," Jorel grinned back.

As the
dragonfear wore off, the crew broke into a chant of "Ravens! Ravens! Ravens!" at the sight of the massive, blue serpentine corpse and the spattered lump of eyeballs that was the insane, frightening creature that lived in the hill cave.

The crews' cheers, whistles and catcalls abruptly turned silent when Arwan and Eaeros emerged from the small copse of trees carrying the inert form of Niko.  His head lolling to the side and bouncing slightly with each step.

The Raven's Companions had been torn asunder after nigh on seven years of adventuring together on some gods forsaken rock a million miles from home.  The crew intuitively knew to stay well away from Arwan.  And a few looked fearfully at the dragon perched on the mysterious new elf woman's shoulder – even though it was tiny compared to the dragons that had terrorized them.

That evening the crew and remaining Companions were subdued as they went about their duties.  Yes, there were whispered stories of how Arwan and Eaeros appeared out of thin air above the Blue Dragon and how Arwan drove his twin swords through its back slaying it before all three plummeted to the ground.  There were a few chuckles about how Eaeros twirled in the air as the Beholder held him above the ground with a beam of light from its eyes. 

Mostly, however, there was sadness and recollections of the kindness of Nikolaj.  His long, oft-repeated fishing stories, his passable cooking, and how he took the time to get to know each of the crew.  While Arwan was certainly the ship's captain and Eaeros entertaining at times, Niko was the Companion the crew loved. 

It was rumored among the crew that Eaeros and the Captain attempted to commune with Nikolaj's spirit.  However, it seemed the Captain's mood only darkened afterwards.  A few crew grumbled that the bard planned to abandon them to their fates in space.

"Do you ever think we will get out of this freezing void," Te'Sarkel sadly asked Jorel?  "It will be a damned sight harder now," he said as he hung his head.  "Who would have thought this Abyss could have gotten any lonelier?" 

If the Companions and their crew do ever return to the Known World, surely many in Darokin, Alfheim, Rockhome and Free Traldara will mourn the loss of one of their great heroes.  Fil, if still alive and not lost in the search for her fathers and brothers, will be devastated.  Undoubtedly, his father, who said goodbye to his young son so many years ago in Corunglain will know a sadness no father should know.

Perhaps the only beings who will not mourn Nikolaj's loss will be whatever immortal forces trapped the Raven's Companions here in the first place.

48th, 49th and 50th sessions – XP 10,750 (total all sessions: 125,730XP)

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No Good Deed
Fury of the Immortals

“Ok, so let's start back at the beginning.”

Nikolaj sat down at a large oak table with the rest of the Raven’s Companions. Tankards of ale, bottles of wine and plates of food fill their view as he tries to take in exactly what occurred in his absence while he was establishing The Third Crown as the party's new base of operations.

Following the restoration of the Tree of Life, the rest of the party returned to Alfheim Town to restock the skyship and take their leave of the region, only to learn their crew had scattered. After questioning an incredibly inebriated First Mate Jorel, the Companions found themselves at the seedy No Good Deed Inn in search of the rest of the crew.  Eaeros took the opportunity to give a performance the likes of which the establishment had never seen.

Perhaps it was the resplendent performance that gave their location away, but it allowed Daruous, Dwarven messenger of King Doriath, to track them down and deliver an urgent missive: A request to locate a Glantrian noble and safely escort her to the King. 

After a week's long search (and subsequent loss of Jorel and crew once again to the No Good Deed Inn), the party found Countess Helene de Veronique and her iron carriage stranded in a wood en route to Alfheim. The tattooed noble expressed gratitude for having such a well-renowned band of adventurers come to her aid, but such praise would be short lived.

“And how many of these bandits arrived?” Filandriel asked with curiosity as she swirled a glass of wine, taking note of the tactical positioning described at this point in the story.  The would be rescuers found themselves beset by a bandits seemingly looking to rob this noble and her traveling party. The situation seemed most dire until Helene’s hidden protector, the lizardman Gresh, evened the odds with a potent fog cloud, obscuring the battlefield as the Countess made it to the safety of the carriage. As arrows were fired, blades clashed and ponies struck, Caelnach rode in, catching up to the party after receiving a similar missive, to help end the threat. Unbeknownst to the majority of the combatants, a new assailant entered the fray, looking to disable one of the remaining bandits. After being discovered and outmatched by the tandem offense of Caelnach and Gresh, the masked warrior disappeared from sight. As the remaining bandits were put down, shot down (and for one poor soul, transformed into a fish, locked in a tankard of booze, then buried alive), the lizardman ranger and the fighting barbarian were able to discover the truth behind the failed waylaying.

“By Order of the Honorable Sultan Ismail, a bounty of 3800 gold pieces for the heads of the Raven's Companions?” Nikolaj scoffed as he read the bounty.

“Yeah, one would think you all would garner a higher price.” Filandriel snarled as she took a sip of her wine.

“And additional 1000 gold pieces if you are to bring…” Niko nodded with Fil as she read alongside him, memories flashing of the barbarian taking down a number of men and firing one at the sultan’s estate. “Yeah, I can see why the sultan would want to do it himself."

The insult to the sultan back in Ylaruam months prior was meant to be avenged by the bounty.   Still, the Raven’s Companions would have to ensure Helene’s safety before attempting to resolve this issue.

The iron (and horseless) carriage that would be their transport housed an impressively vast and obviously magical living quarters stocked with food, wines, ales and spirits as befitting a woman of Helene’s status.

As the party completed their task and the Glantrian Countess met with King Doriath, Eaeros and Arwan each hatched a plan to win the noble’s affections.

The mystical charms of the Dwarven Bard took hold, but inadvertently led to an unfortunate misunderstanding between the Helene and Eaeros as they received a new mission: To escort Helene to a particular location to deliver a gift from the King. In an effort to make amends, she decided to treat treat everyone to drinks at a well known tavern…

“The No Good Deed Inn again?” Filandriel said with slight disbelief. “This is starting sound rather contrived.”

“I'll be the first to admit that this all sounds pretty convenient, but it's how things played out.” Arwan took a sip of his ale before continuing.

The party's return to the seedy establishment was met with thunderous applause as word of Eaeros’ previous performance made him a legend in the tavern and the crowd eager for a repeat performance.

The revelry was short-lived as the encore was interrupted by a bard clad in black brandishing a guitar. The man in black played a powerful chord that rendered many in the tavern unconscious, Helene included. At this point, the Raven’s Companions learned that word of the Sultan’s bounty reached further than they anticipated. The battle would have been fierce, with collateral damage a near certainty, if not for the clever use of Silence by Eaeros, forcing the bard and his men to vacate the tavern, effectively making the fight a one-sided affair. With the confrontation settled, the party took their leave, enjoying the comforts of Glantrian nobility, with food, drink and, in Arwan’s case, a new chance at romance due to Eaeros' cunning dice play.

“Now a gentleman should never kiss and tell, but…” Eaeros led on, hoping Arwan would chime in.

“It was nice, but it was a… it wasn't the same. The spark wasn't there, you know?” Arwan spoke, the tinge of mourning ever so briefly coating his words before Eaeros picked up the story.

The carriage’s journey came to an end in the midst of an empty field, with Helene assuring everyone that they had arrived at their destination. An elderly gnome appeared to the Countess and allowed entry into what was an impressive (and impressively hidden) estate, the Villa De Veronique. The grand views and splendor quickly faded as they were led to Helene’s elder brother, Martin, who's demeanor while receiving the King’s gift, stood in stark contrast to the fine clothing draping his athletic form. Much to his consternation, he allowed the party entry into the lavish gala that was in progress when they arrived unannounced.

The party, save Gresh, did their best to blend into the soiree. Eaeros to retreated into a powder room as Caelnach and Arwan spotted a familiar face.

“And you're saying that's when you saw me?” Filandriel chimed in. “What made you think I was there?”

“It was a very convincing disguise with the leather outfit, your fiery red hair…” Eaeros, spoke, looking to begin a flowery description before being interrupted.

“Brunette. I'm a brunette.” Fil’s words were dripping with condescension as everyone took a glance to see her long brown hair put into a bun, with Niko took an audible gulp from his ale to break the awkward silence.

After retreating to a balcony away from the surprisingly bigoted attendants, the learned of “Filandriel’s” client at the gala, the only other non-human (that wasn't a member of Martin's wait staff), the violet-haired wizard, Sophia. Pleasantries were exchanged, but any more inquiry into her being at the event was interrupted as Eaeros finally made his dramatic entrance.  He had convinced the Count De Veronique to let him perform with the well-known halfling Half-Pint Players.

“Wait, you got to share the stage with the Half-Pint Players?” Fil spoke up, an unusual amount of interest in her voice. “I wanted them to perform at the wedding, but their agent said it was too short notice.”  "Is that intended to be a pun," Sophia asked to laughter all around.

“Well, once I explained to that guy in charge what I had planned, he was all but too eager to have me perform with them," Eaeros replied, beaming with assurance and satisfaction.

The gala was in full swing, the extravagance hiding a sinister threat. Gresh and Arwan both noticed the wait staff begin to be replaced, and Eaeros discerned that “Filandriel” wad not who she appeared to be before taking the stage. The lizardman was the first to take action attacking one of the assailants as Caelnach, using a table, revealed Fil as an imposter and took down a number of opponents.  The masked warrior the party previously encountered in the woods at the site of the broken down wagon appeared to face Eaeros. Chaos ensued as the bard continued to perform despite the attacks, and as Sophia displayed her prowess, clouding the minds of several of the would-be assassins in a wave of confusion - leading to several patrons being assaulted by happenstance. The men looking to claim the bounty were obviously skilled (with one unlucky patron being mauled by Gresh due to an attack being redirected), but were unprepared for the variety of offense from the party, with Arwan’s blade striking true, Caelnach easily dispatching two, the faux Fil quickly losing the will to fight, a powerful Cone of Cold from Eaeros dealing death to the warriors (and a number of innocent party-goers, with Arwan and Caelnach getting caught in the crossfire) and Sophia backing up Gresh’s fury, her mystic bolts of magic missiles hobbling one of the attackers. The masked man, sensing that all was lost, attempted to take Sophia hostage, only to have his life snuffed out by the bard on stage.

As the dust settled, questions still remained. Who were these attackers that took the bounty? How were they able to find the party so easily each time? How did they know to impersonate a member of the Raven’s Companions? While they may have gone unanswered, the attempts on their life would not go unavenged, as Caelach took his leave from the party, armed with information from the surrendering imposter, intending to put down Sultan Ismail. Gresh decided that with his task now done, to return to his swamp and simpler lifestyle, but not before making it known that he received a vision of ill tidings, with the Raven’s Companions at the epicenter.

The rain poured heavily outside as the story concluded, Sophia handed a second tankard by Fil as Nikolaj sat back in his seat.

“I can't say I'm sorry to have missed all that. But compared to all the crazy stuff we usually deal with, this all seemed like a breeze. At least things can't get crazier once we get back to the task as hand, right?” Niko gave everyone a warm smile before clearing his throat, discussions on the next move to soon begin…

45th Session:  3300XP

46th Session:  3200XP

47th Session:  3480XP

Total XP:    114,980XP

 

 

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The Tree of Life
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – Nuwmont 24 1007AC

Soaring far above the high mountains that separated Rovaeren from a vast wilderness, the Raven’s Companions were thankful for the thick furs the reawakened elves of that land had gifted them.  Aloft the vast wilderness dividing that sylvan realm and the Known World, the party could now rightly count themselves heroes of four realms – Blackmoor, Darokin, Rovaeren and Alfheim.

Thus, it was fitting their long trip home astride the backs of massive Rocs was as epic as the party’s arrival in Rovaeren by way of an enchanted rainbow – a bridge to those who mastered its secrets and a trap to others.  A misunderstanding of the rainbow’s prism led the party to a dangerous encounter with a red dragon in a red land.  Fortunately, they escape the dragon's fiery breath and managed to unlock the rainbow’s chromatic mysteries.

Rovaeren itself was only a shade removed from the Feywild and home to various guardians of its secrets – some whimsical and some deadly.  In their search for the twelve keys to open Rovaeren’s ruined vault, the party reunited the Narwhal and the Nymph, wrestled with a tiny, but fearsome, fairy, toppled a living iron statue, weighed coins, deceived a clutch of manticores, and, of course, befriended the Roc.

Holding to their Star Map tightly, the party was not deterred by Shadow Elves, otherworldly wails and howls, lonely oaks that had their hearts gouged out, nor an ambush of Unseelie Fey and their terrifying hound.  It was only the original Tree of Life’s undead guardians – the Banshee of its former Treekeeper and ghastly elven warriors – that nearly kept them from their task. 

Reviving those Companions felled by the Banshee’s mournful cry, the party was able to decipher and perform a millennia old elven ritual that woke the ancient tribe sequestered within the trees of the forest.  Suspicious and disoriented at first, the elves soon understood the party had saved them from the Shadow Elves who had been using Radiance-impregnated “soul crystals” to warp the Tree of Life hidden under Rovaeren’s ruins.

The Tree, carrier of the essence of Ilsundal and mother to the Trees of Life of Alfheim, could now be nursed to health by its ancient caretakers, consequently restoring the daughter Trees of Alfheim.  In gratitude, the Tree healed Arwan and Caelnach and the Rovaerish elves presented the party with gems, enough food to get home, and a diplomatic missive to their descendants in the Canolbarth.  They also presented the party with a vial of oil of sunlight – a relic of ancient elven air magic – with hope that the art of building legendary flying “lightships” might be restored in cooperation with Alfheim.

Perhaps it was the bitter cold, the memory of the Banshee’s mournful cry, or the story of the destruction of Blackmoor, but some of the Companions could not avoid a melancholic introspection of the cost of their victories.  As relayed by the Rovaerish elder, it appeared the antics of the “Far Travelers” both inspired Blackmoor to greatness and led to its destruction in the terror of the Great Rain of Fire. The Great Rain also indirectly led to Rovaeren’s original destruction and the flight of the Feadiel clan when corrupted survivors of Blackmoor sought to conquer the sylvan realm. The party’s victory over The Master led to untold loss of life when a meteor was hurled by an angry nemesis into Glantri and Darokin.  Possibly the vengeful hand of Rad and the Fellowship of the Star had a role in the events that took Sylvana’s life after the party's thwarting of their plans.  Would it be that the saving of Alfheim, presumably a boon to the Ring of Fire, could lead to other unintended consequences?

Not even the unusual places and peoples overflown on their return to the Known World could distract the thoughts of some of the party.  Enormous coniferous forests, an empty cold desert, nomadic tribes of humans and humanoids, a temple on a remote peak circled by shining Gold Dragons, and what appeared to be a moving, floating city peeking out from behind pillowy clouds were just some of the spectacular sites.

Mayhap such worries were wiped away when the Companions landed to fanfare in Alfheim Town.  They were greeted enthusiastically by affable King Doriath, “By Ilsundal’s grace we are so glad for your return!  When the Trees of Life started to revive, we took it as a sign of your success, though we had no news of you.  After interrogating the Shadow Elf you captured, it was clear they meant to replace us on the surface world.  A portal of sorts was found in the “Dark Watcher’s” cave that led into a vast warren of tunnels and caverns.  Many brave warriors fell to traps, twisted creatures, wild magic and the swords and arrows of the Shadow Elves.  Still…we blunted their invasion.” 

Looking uncharacteristically grave, the fair-haired King continued “It appears their underground realm is vast.  It might stretch as far as Glantri and The Broken Lands.  A captured shaman told how the Shadow Elves once lived on the surface and were pursued from Rovaeren relentlessly across the wilderness by corrupted men – along with the Feadiels. In a desperate attempt to save themselves they exploded some terrible weapon of a lost empire.  It drove them underground for some 2000 years and created The Broken Lands we think.  Their 'City of the Stars' apparently rests under The Broken Lands.  They believe their god Rafiel … a keeper of ancient wisdom and strange relics … wants them to find some ‘Nucleus of the Spheres.’  It powers their ‘Soul Crystals,’ which powers their magic in turn.  It seems the richest reserves of these stones may be somewhere under Glantri.  A cruel race, they leave deformed babies in empty caverns to die from exposure or beasts.  No matter…you saved us from their hands!”

Leading the Companions to his private quarters in the Clan Palace he admitted it was uncomfortable to reside in a building, but he suffers it for foreign guests. “Now, my favorite part! Arwan, clan Feadiel has seen fit to grant you membership in their tribe.  Eaeros, you have my invitation to attend and perform for me at any time, for which you will be well compensated of course.  Niko, Clan Mealidil will allow you access to their venerable Library Tree – an honor not bestowed upon a human in 200 years.  Caelnach…I daresay, I do not know what would make your wanderer’s heart happy, but you are granted the freedom of our woods.  And, as final reward to all of you, please accept this example of our craftsmanship – a Cloak of Elvenkind.”

“So, where will you all next? Ach…I miss my days adventuring.  King is nice, but it feels a bit like prison.  Please don’t spare me any tales!  While you were gone, the conflict between the Ethengars and Heldanners has certainly heated up.  Some say driven by hunger caused by the ash cloud and some say driven by the Heldanner’s cruel raids, the Ethengar took to their horses and have besieged Freiburg and Vanya’s temple fortress. I hear there are thousands of horse warriors at their walls.  Some of them have even raided into Soderfjord and Vestland.  I’m sure this news of this war in their backyard makes the Thyatian Empire nervous.  The Thyatians have enough to worry about with the Isle of Dawn slipping into Alphatian hands and I’m certain they would prefer the Heldanners free to protect their backsides. I wish I could make more sense of this?”

42th, 43rd and 44th sessions – XP 12,120 (total all sessions: 105,000)

 

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Grave Matters
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – 12 Klarmont 1006AC

Likely few mortals can claim to have faced the fury of an Immortal and have survived.  Lying amidst the ruins of Chateau d'Amberville recovering from their confrontation with Rathanos, the party had time to contemplate what they had experienced.  They had simply thought they were pursuing some secretive Glantrian wizards who had filched the Mirror Shield.  What they discovered was that they were further enmeshed in the power struggle between competing factions of Immortals.

Even though the party was offered riches, power and immortality, they steadfastly refused to side with the Fellowship of the Star.  Instead they leapt into battle against its immortal agent Rathanos deep within the tomb of Prince Stephen d'Amberville as whorling elemental forces tore it apart.

The journey to that confrontation was filled with strange and epic moments:  Caelnach hurtling through the air to land on a moving gondola and drowning a would be wizardly assassin in a Glantri City canal. The party's embrace of Glantri City's underworld and planned robbery of the d'Malapietras ending with Niko's poisoning and a bargain struck with Prince Malapietra.  Few guests at that party will soon forget the top hatted Sir Damon Clooney. The party's discovery in the Great School that Prince Stephen d'Amberville was leading the Brotherhood and masquerading as Rad.  And, of course the party's cold-blooded killing of Pennar and Demarra.

Beyond Glantri City, in Prince Amberville's ancestral chateau, the party discovered a mystical arboretum home to a troll under a bridge, a wafish woman with golden hair and her unicorn and a Wild Hunt led by a goat-headed man that burst upon them with lances leveled.  Not to mention their old friend Eaeros and a new friend Varis.  Also, Arwan shot a tree.

With the help of Amberville's brother Charles, the party captured a silver key from some forgotten, undead guardians.  With the golden-haired maiden Breganic in tow they entered the dungeon below the chateau's chapel.  There Niko calmed an angry Minotaur and the party exercised its discretion in avoiding any deals with devils.  The key led through a Silver Gate to the d'Amberville's secret origins in an alternate Averoigne.

In old Averoigne at the ruins of the d'Amberville's original chateau, Arwan ignited a barrel of gunpowder with a well-aimed pistol shot to drive off the Inquisition; thereby saving a family of heretics.  Caelnach composed an ancient love poem while Niko and Eaeros delivered an epic recitation summoning the ghost of Prince Amberville's long departed love Sephora.  She gained them entrance to the Prince's extraplanar mausoleum.  The party may have struggled to find the ruined chateau and extraplanar gateway if the best fish Niko ever fried had not convinced a chance met stranger to sketch them a map.

Amberville's last and most potent secret was buried in his mausoleum – his skeleton.  Having cast off the mortal coil, Amberville had become the Immortal Rad – and continued to use his former mortal identity as a disguise!  It was in that hidden dimensional tomb that Rathanos also revealed the Fellowship of the Star intended to use the Radiance and the Mirror Shield to create legions of Immortals to upend the hierarchy of the gods.  He charged the Ring of Fire and its leader Ixion with fearing change and paternalistically enslaving mortals. 

As the tomb ruptured under the weight of the diverging Spheres of Power during the final moments of the party's battle with Rathanos, it severed the Glantri Chateau's connection to Averoigne.  Its age caught up to it and it crumbled to dust as the party lay scattered amongst the ruins.

The party awoke to the sounds of Breganic, once again a golden-haired maiden and no longer a Gold Dragon, laughing for the joy of having found Ladriel her unicorn companion alive.  She commended the party, "You have done well to restore balance to the Spheres.  The Fellowship of the Star threatens us all with their rebellion.  It gladdens me to know that you intend to travel to  Alfheim to help the sons and daughters of Ilsundal."

With words that eerily echoed those of Inquisitor Azvanou she bade the party to "Heed the Immortals and tradition.  They guide and protect."

38th Session – 4600XP

39th Session – 4200XP

40th Session – 4250XP

41st Session – 4600XP
(total all sessions 92,880XP)

 
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Tomb of Horrors
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – Vatermont 5 1006AC

Te’Sarkal was relieved when the bosses emerged from the wrecked pyramid. This place, The Dead Place, and the unmoving skeletal rowers raised the hairs on the back of his neck and he’d be glad to be moving on.  He spotted the bosses outlines moving near the pyramid’s entrance in the weak starlight – a talent he had sharpened in his native Tangor.  It had served him well patrolling with various mercenary companies. 

He had not doubted they would eventually return, though as day turned into night, he began to wonder.  He had seen Colonel Arwan (he usually told people to just call him Captain) practice with his twin blades and the elf woman moved without making a sound.  On the other hand, something about Colonel Cedricson (which no one called him) made him nervous and, though he did not doubt the strength of the big northerner, among mercenaries, his reputation was that his men were as likely to end up dead as rich. 

When they arrived at the ship, they were clearly wounded, exhausted and he could see from the faraway stares on their faces, that they would not soon be sharing the details with the crew.  He had to admit he was curious why the Captain was naked.  The next morning, as the crew prepped the ship to fly, he picked up tidbits here and there. 

A few shared smiles told him some great treasures had been rescued.  He noted Caelnach sporting a new, large-bladed, bronze sword and Cedricson had a new twinkling, black stone rod tucked into his belt.  Absent though were the Captain’s twin sharp rapiers. 

He gathered from some of the whispered jests that there had been several brushes with death and many dangerous traps, ranging from spiked pits, living stone statues, a corridor full of crossbows, giant skeletons, a huge, rolling stone rhino and many other dangers. He was not sure he had heard correctly, but he thought he had heard the Captain thanking Cedricson for bringing him back from the dead.  He didn’t look any worse for it. 

Cedricson seemed even stranger than usual.  Always a bit odd, even though kind, he had taken to constantly tugging at his white forelock.  Before lifting off, he sat at the rail of the ship staring forlornly at the pyramid.  Filandriel seemed to try to comfort him and Te’Sarkal heard her say “Your mom and dad loved you…at least you do not have to wonder any longer.” 

He did not need anyone to tell him that some great evil had dwelt within the stone structure resting in the bottom of the bowl of the The Dead Place.  He could see the relief in the bosses' faces as the ship lifted off and pulled away toward Darokin City.  Te’Sarkal was glad to be away as well.  He wondered whether the next place the bosses took him and the crew would hold danger for them?  In the meantime, the pay was good.

35th, 36th and 37th sessions – XP 11,2000 (total all sessions: 75,230)

 

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Dream On
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – Nuwmont 6 1006AC

"Well, I guess winter is here…" said Arwan to no one in particular as a light dusting of snowflakes landed on the stone sill of the infirmary window.  The ever present twilight resulting from the ash cloud and the fact he hadn't been outside since he arrived there made it hard to tell just what time of year it was.  Still, the cold breeze coming through the open stone window had the feel of midwinter.  "How long have I been here?" 

"Five weeks" replied the plain-faced, elderly priestess of Valerias that was carefully removing the linen bandages covering what had been a deep, puss-filled, gash along his right torso.  Surely, the great, steaming construct's deadly axes had carried the taint of corruption along its blades.

The woman was not ugly, but, after the stories Arwan had heard in Specularum's jail about a certain priestess of Valerias who ran a "healing" establishment in that capital, he was hoping for a little more "comforting" from these servants of the love goddess.  Before the Second War of the Desert Nomads, most of them had only dealt in charms and potions for the lovesick sons and daughters of well-to-do Daro merchants.  Only recently had some turned to truly reverencing Valerias and few could be counted as true healers.  All told he was grateful they managed to nurse him back to health and stop the black filth weeping from his painful wound.

Truthfully, before the War, hardly any Daros had paid the gods credence save a few coppers tossed to Asterius from time to time.  But, now, a few could be heard to talk of Vanya or Ixion, or at least blame The Master's invasion on their anger. Even Arwan, who had not given much thought to the Immortals, recalled a few fevered dreams of a mighty white oak standing in a glade slowly shedding it leaves while he convalesced.  He was sure it was brought on by his illness, but the words of King Doriath of Alfheim, that he had been touched by Ilsundal, still nagged at him.  He was keen to return there an delve into the mystery of the Trees of Life.

"Looks like you are healed.  How do you feel?"  asked the priestess.

"Bed sore, stiff…ready for a drink."

"Well, you have a visitor Colonel."

Arwan thought he would not get used to that honorific, but it did get him one step closer to the legitimacy he so craved – that he felt as warden of Three Crowns.  "Lets see that shit Varis arrest a Colonel of the Darokin Legions," he thought.

"Niko!  'Bout time you showed up!"

"Uh, sorry, I've been really busy" blurted out Niko as he glanced around the room sheepishly taking in the rows of wounded legionnaires on their filthy cots.

"Books again? Fil?" Arwan leered and pushed himself up on his elbows.

"Yes! No, I mean, yes, sort of.  I've been trying to figure out whats going on with me…with this  turmoil in the world, but not with books actually.  I know…  Long story short…there's a place in Ylaruam…The Dead Place.  I think if we can find it, we can figure out what's going on.  Or, maybe why.  There was an old empire…its gone now. There's a storyteller in Surra Man Ra…he knows of it and The Dead Place.  What do you think?"

Arwan grinned, "Can we fly there?"

Of course, nothing for the Companions is ever so simple as listening to a story.  First, against all odds, they run into an old friend of Arwan in the desert – a nomadic Norwolder who had spent time reaving the same seas as Arwan.  He says his name is Caelnach, but little else. Then, finding the ramshackle, mud brick town of Surra-Man-Raa, the travelers discovered they would need to enter the dreams of wizened Wakim the Storyteller to unlock his memories of The Dead Place hidden behind wards placed by the Immortals who demolished it.

After gathering the requisite mushrooms for the tea that would give them entrance to Wakim's mind, the party found the local Sheik Ismail riding roughshod through the town searching out infidels.   His men cornered the party in a hot, dusty alley.  When Wakim prevailed upon the Sheik to honor Wakim's hospitality and treat his guests as under his protection, the Sheik sentenced him to death for sorcery. 

In short time Caelnach's greatsword was drawn, several of the Sheik's men dead and the Sheik wounded and fleeing.  It will be unlikely Sheik Ismail will forget  this insult.  And that was not the strangest part of their journey.

Safely aboard their skyship once again, they found themselves drinking Wakim's tea and entering a surreal dreamworld.  From the snippets of Wakim's memories they could uncover, it appeared he had been part of an expedition to The Dead Place decades earlier – an expedition led by famous Ylari treasure hunters – Niko's parents!  Faisal and Indera delved into a deadly and trap laden ruin in search of the tomb of Acererak – the high wizard-priest of Nithia's hidden god Amon-Gorlath – who was believed to reside beneath the temple.  From the screams seared into Wakim's mind, it appears Faisel and Indera may have met horrible fates.

34th session – XP 3,350 (total all sessions: 64,030)

 

 

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Time to Ramble On
Fury of the Immortals

Campaign Journal – Eirmont 8 1005AC

Once again underneath the Temple of the Gray Mountain, the party has a few idle days in which to contemplate the twists of fate that robbed them of any sense of victory following their defeat of The Master.

Besting the hulking, black-armored warlord and his stone giant henchman in combat erased some of the sadness felt by the party when The Seneschal gave his life to cover their retreat to The Master's skyship.  Their daring nighttime flight from the sprawling tent city of Sayr Ulan through a blinding sandstorm while fighting off an enemy skyship was cause for further elation.  Eaeros' death-defying rescue of Niko as he plummeted over the ship's rail during one of Arwan's more risky combat maneuvers highlighted the brotherhood that bound the Companions.  Not even a poisonous man scorpion or the undead soldiers of the Darokin legions could shake their confidence as they flew away.

However, their sense of invulnerability began to fade when the red sands of the dwindling storm took shape into an enormous, floating, featureless, horned head to taunt them.    In a deep voice that boomed like thunder and rattled the timbers of the skyship, it told them "The Master was mine!"  The demonic apparition warned the party its vengeance would be terrible.  Surely, Ikol/Loki's warning that the party would make a powerful enemy very angry came to mind. Almost as quickly as it had formed, the enraged vision evaporated along with the storm leaving the party with only a chilling memory of the vision.

The party's spirits further sank as they sailed east over the wastes of Sind and the Black Mountains towards Akesoli when Eaeros revealed he intended to leave the adventuring life.  That the death and suffering Eaeros had witnessed weighed on him heavily could be seen in his recent turn to reverencing the Immortals.  He explained to the party his plan to say farewell after more than three years together by returning to Blackmoor via The Comeback Inn.  So many thousands of years is indeed a great distance to run to put one's troubles behind oneself.

With heavy heart Arwan turned the skyship north along Lake Amsorak and towards The Broken Lands, but nothing could have prepared the party for the next tragedy that was about befall Mystara.

Somewhere east of Akesoli, still occupied by The Master's forces, the party sited a bright comet in the sky.  Taken as a good omen it was anything but.  By the next morning it had grown in size and brightness.  Then it slammed into the ground on the Darokin/Glantri border.  A blinding light, thunderous boom, trembling earth and vast mushroom cloud of ash and dust followed.  Even 80 miles away the skyship was rocked and Eaeros and Niko knocked off their feet.

As the ship passed over the Silver Sierras into Glantri (and then on to The Broken Lands) they skirted the site of the comet's impact – a gaping crater 60 miles in diameter.  Much of the Principalities of Blackhill and Caurenze had been obliterated…thousands must have perished immediately.  Thousands more might die from crop failures caused by the spreading dust cloud and forest fires caused by airborne molten rock and cinders.  If death and destruction had weighed on the party's conscious before, now it was as heavy as the Gray Mountain crushing down on Elyas' tower.

Surveying the scene with the spyglasses purloined from the Frog cultists, Arwan quickly realized a fire was raging towards the forests of Erewan, the home of the elven village of Kota-Hutan and his betrothed.  With all haste he turned the skyship there.  Just as quickly, Eaeros tried to talk him out of it….even feeding him strong wine which nearly knocked Arwan out.  Eaeros, apparently, sought to spare Arwan the pain of learning of the demise of Sylvana. 

However, touching down in KotaHutan, the party discovered the village intact, but in grave danger from fire.  An argument nearly as hot as the encroaching blaze raged amongst the elven villagers.  Some blamed the Alphatians for the destruction, some themselves for straying from Ilsundal's teachings, and others a reoccurrence of the Great Rain of Fire.

The party suspecting full well who had caused the destruction did not share knowledge of their newfound enemy.  Rather, they tried to calm the tensions.  Adding to the confusion, a carriage arrived bearing the party's former rivals from beneath Corran Keep, the wizarding students Pennar and Demara – once again guided by Fil!  Seeming older, more mature, but no less arrogant, Pennar ordered all of villagers to march north to "safety" while Demara stared coldly at the party.  Fil, though still smarting from the revelation of Niko's former girlfriend, told him in confidence that Pennar cared not one whit for the villagers' safety and only sought to remove them and the Siswa so he could freely plunder Elyas' tower.  She suggested the only safe place from the fast moving fire was inside that very tower.

Over Pennar's protests the party sprung into action leading the villagers to the Temple clearing.  Arriving, they noticed white smoke emanating from behind the walls of the Temple courtyard and the sound of banging.   Fil and Arwarn crept across the open ground between the Temple and forest edge.  Upon pushing through the Temple doors to the courtyard, Fil was immediately ambushed and gravely wounded by an orcish assassin.   Arwan leapt to her defense and saw a cohort of orcs trying to break into the Temple – all bearing the blackened sun symbol of Chaos on their hide shields.  They were supported by a 10 foot tall iron construct shaped something like a stove on legs with huge deadly axes for arms – a fire burned in its furnace belly causing the dreadnought to gush stream.  

A desperate battle to get into the Temple compound ensued as the raging fire caught up to the fleeing villagers.  The Siswa monks burst forth from the Temple to engage the Orcs.  The dreadnought's deadly axes nearly sheared Arwan in half and its loud steam whistles broke the concentration and drowned out the arcane speech of spell casters. Still, the concerted actions of the party and a super-sized Eaeros brought the walking weapon down and not a moment too soon as the forest fire raged ever closer.

With their adrenalin expended and breath caught, the Companions naturally began to consider whether their the defeat of The Master could be called a victory when the powerful, pronged being they angered in doing so snuffed out the lives of thousands in revenge.

Perhaps it was this melancholy clouding Eaeros' mind that permitted Pennar to slip away from the Temple with the Mirror Shield – stepping through a portal opened by a wave of his manicured hand.  Pennar did not seem at all perturbed by leaving Demara behind to be captured and ensure his escape.  She saw it differently:  "That arrogant bastard…getting the Shield and eliminating a rival in the Brotherhood at the same time.  I'm sure he's very pleased with himself."

All of these events must raise many questions for the Companions:

- Will they trust the words of Loki and travel to Norwold to further interfere in their newfound nemesis' plans and risk further catastrophic revenge?  Do they dare insert themselves in a conflict apparently brewing amongst  Immortal factions calling themselves Shadow, Star and Fire?

- Will they pursue Pennar into Glantri in an attempt to recover the Mirror Shield and discover the secrets of this mysterious Brotherhood of wizards and their super weapon?  Can Fil be trusted now that she has returned to their employ?

- Or do they consider the growing army of Chaos forming in The Broken Lands a greater threat?  According to an orcish captive interrogated in the Temple, the raiders encountered were only advance scouts of an immense host of the warlord Thar.

- Or, in effort to stem further destruction of the environment, will they travel to Alfheim to figure out what is sickening the Trees of Life?  As the King Doriath considers Arwan to be touched by Ilsuandal, they will surely find a welcome there.

- Perhaps they will seek after the mad duke of Vestland and forget about the troubles of the western Known World?

- Or elsewhere? Perhaps to help Niko with his research?

A chill winter wind creeps down from the mountains and gently brushes Arwan and Niko's faces as the skyship lifts away from what was once Kota-Hutan.  As they steal one last glance at Eaeros, they fly to their next destination knowing that the Raven's Companions are no more and not knowing whether the once lighthearted bard will travel towards a past where he once knew joy with his friends and amongst the children of Three Crowns or whether he will travel towards a future where he can find solace helping the survivors of Kota-Hutan and others suffering from the war.

32nd and 33rd session – XP 11,250 (total all sessions: 60,680)

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