Geneva Scales of War

Is That A Shadow Serpent in Your Pocket...

Taking their time to camp and regain their strength after the clearing out the nest of Cyclops slavers, the Wayfarers claim 300 platinum and one large emerald the size of Mako’s fist (valued 1500 gp). Mako and the Seed of Winter conversed; the seed disappointed and annoyed that the Wayfarers would let the human captives go free, “The weak should be subjugated!” it hissed in Mako’s head. Kah took the opportunity to inspect an engraved plate upon the wall, learning to activate the ritual circle that would take the Wayfarers to the Feywilde, and ultimately, to Kalshane.’s domain.

As Kah recited the ritual, the town of Rhest faded from sight and a circle of stone monoliths appeared. The bluest of blue skies hung above, the greenest of green grass carpeted the ground, the healthiest of trees stood outside the stone circle. Nearby, a stone cliff face stretched as far and as high as the eye could see. Odachi and Mako felt oddly comfortable in the natural surroundings of the Feywilde. As the Wayfarers strode forward, the ground rose up around the stone circle, and a cloud descended from above. A face appeared in the cloud, The Archfey Skyshaper, who offered safe passage for the entertainment of fighting his minions. Mako heard the Seed whispering its approval of the Skyshaper’s display of strength. The ground leveled; two feral-looking giants and two shadowy serpents stepped and slithered from behind the trees, engaging the Wayfarers in combat. Particularly impressive blows were met with grins of approval from the giants as the two sides clashed, the sky lightening as the tide turned towards the adventurers.

Following the battle, two large doors upon the cliff face open, and two more giants, Firbolgs in the service of the Daughter of the Frostwhite Forest, stride forward complimenting the Wayfarers’ prowess. Challenging the heroes to a contest of skill and might, the Wayfarers rest and share stories of battles past, but do not accept the Fribolgs’ challenge. The Wayfarers are able to gain information about an Eladrin seeking an audience with Kalshane, as the Daughter, a member of the Winter Court, seeks alliance with Kalshane. Led to a magic circle within the cave, the Wayfarers were told to tell the Eladrin, “Peradon sent us,” and once again, the adventurers were transported, arriving in an Eladrin camp in a clearing somewhere in the Feywild, the Eladrin did not appear concerned about their sudden appearance. The Wayfarers were eventually led to the largest tent, and greeted by an Eladrin in mithral chain with golden streaks in his hair above the temples, Druunth Goldtemple, the emissary of the Daughter of the Frostwhite Forest. Using a magic amulet, Goldtemple opens a scrying mirror, where the Daughter herself greets the Wayfarers. The Daughter reveals that despite her dislike of Kalshane, an upstart Fomorian, Sanguir, presents a threat to both, but she is unwilling to declare open war on Sanguir now. Mako reveals the Seed, and while she wants it, she is willing to use it as a bargaining chip against Kalshane. Goldtemple was ordered to guide the Wayfarers to the border of Kalshane’s realm in the morning.

A half day’s hike away, a line of stones stretched in either direction across a mountainous area. Crossing the border, the Wayfarers were quickly set upon by an ugly, misshapen giant: one of Kalshane’s Fomorians. The giant led the Wayfarers into the mountains and into a cavern complex, lit dimly by everburning torches. Within Kalshane’s throne room, the Wayfarers first glimpsed their long-mentioned adversary, the Fomorian with stone grafted to his skin. The huge throne of purple stone looked over a glass floor, gladiatorial combat occurring in the pit below. A smaller throne sat next to that of Kalshane, and a balding human, Sovacles, stood next to the Fomorian king. Kalshane would barely be bothered to look up, Kah noting he was clearly being influenced. Mako revealed the Seed, but still the Wayfarers were unable to get through Sovacles’ influence on the king. As they were thrown from the room, a dwarf walked by: Bram Ironfell of Overlook, part of the family hostile to the Wayfarers during the Battle of Overlook. Ironfell took responsibility for the Wayfarers, and led them to a meeting chamber, where he revealed that he has sided with the Githyanki, and seems to be clearly torn by his decision to do, as he put it, “What was needed for his family’s safety.” Ironfell revealed the long-time Lich Queen of the Githyanki was killed, and their new Emperor led the drive for a war of conquest.

A banquet was to be held that night, and many factions were present, seeking alliances with Kalshane. In the meantime, the Wayfarers were left in sleeping chambers, and asked to refrain from violence without provocation.

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I've got my seed in a little box.

With (one of) his dying breaths, Chillreaver gasps that an exarch of Tiamat will be avanged, his queen will have her revenge on the Wayfarers. Mako and Odachi responded with a glance and a shrug, “Yeah, yeah, we’re heard it before.” In Chillreaver’s horde, the Wayfarers found a pile of coin totaling 1000GP, a platinum ring inscribed with the holy symbol of Bahamut, a ruby-encriusted silved letter opener, and four well-carved ivory statues in a velvet bag, for a total of 11,000 GP (1833 GP each, plus party funds: current total is 7084.)

After shooting out the remaining mirrors, Mako was the first to pick up the Seed of Winter, and a raspy female voice echoed in his mind, “Are you a foe of flame? Do you seek the domination of others?” Mako would continue an ongoing argument with the artifact until gifted a dampening box by the deva upon their return to Nefelus. A harrowing escape, picking up Ularion and boarding the Apparatus of Kwalish, and navigating through confused schools of sahaugin as they swam from the rapidly melting iceberg. By the time the heroes returned to the island, the weather had cleared and the storms brought by the Seed had moved on.

The Wayfarers were greeted in the underground cove by Amyria, Bejem, and an honor guard of deva; they had rushed to the cove when the iceberg began to melt. Mako handed Bejem the Seed of Winter to examine. Debriefed by the deva, Odachi explained the loss of Arranis, and sought an expert on beasts to answer what may have happened to the body. A scarred and grizzled gnome discussed monster hunting, dungeoneering, and ultimately directs Odachi to the temple of Bahamut for further information. Mako had already traveled to the same temple of Bahamut to inquire into Arranis’ “afterlife,” where he set up a ritual casting to contact the eladrin’s spirit. Kah returned to the university, and studied late into the night, learning new rituals. Orsik took Riven to a tavern, and introduced the revenant to drink. As the night wore on, the Wayfarers all drifted to the inn; Odachi met up with Mako on his way back from the temple, and was filled in on the ritual, scheduled for the morning. The ability to consult directly with those who passed, especially the ancestors, intrigued the goliath. Kah was eventually politely asked to leave the library, and was allowed to “check out” a rare tome. By the time he arrived, Odachi was loudly telling the story of the archery competition down Telecanthus’ hall, only there was a blinding of a drake at the end (of the hall and the story.)

The next morning, a groggy, headache-ridden party of Wayfarers met at the temple of Bahamut, where an acolyte led them to a—mercifully dimly lit—room where Father Barius of Bahamut directed them to sit in the geometric shapes chalked around the ritual circle inscribed on the floor. Each Wayfarer held a candle and a stick of incense, and both burned while the cleric intoned as a smokey blue light coalesced at the center of the circle…and revealed nothing. Arranis’ spirit was nowhere to be found.

Dejected, the Wayfarers met up with Amyria, who was ready to return to Sayre and the Coalition. The trip back to the city took a few days; along the way, Odachi dreamed of his ancestors, and received their blessing and approval. As they drew closer to Sayre, columns of smoke could be seen rising in the distance; towns were aflame, and armies on the march. Sayre itself was now sealed, the gate closed and draped in black cloth. A long line of commoners stretched from the gates, a line the Wayfarers bypassed and strode directly to a guard. The guard recognized the Wayfarers, and quickly filled them in: Lord Torrence was slain by a GithZERI assassin, Lady Torrence has assumed the role of city ruler, and few Githzeri were seen on the street. Amyria looked at her companions and commanded, “Coalition. Now.” The Wayfarers rushed through the streets to Telecanthus’ old mansion, now headquarters for the Coalition. The once opulent great hall had been turned to a war room; maps and troop movements hung from the walls. As they entered, Odos, Lady Torrence, Qualana, and Bejem (he had teleported ahead of the Wayfarers) “looked up.” Lady Torrence was no longer the dilettante, but appeared hard as nails. Odos’ sightless eyes fell on Amyria, and stated flatly, “The war is on.” Githyanki had come from all directions in their airships. Lord Torrance was slain by Tokeet’s lover, she was the mole who let the Githyanki into the monastery, it appeared that she’d been dominated by the Githyanki, and she dropped dead immediately upon completing the assassination. While the situation in Sayre was managed, mainly by telling the truth, opinions one again were turning hostile toward the Githzeri. Odos also revealed that Kalad, Paladin of the Sundered Chain, Captain of the Overlook Watch, and Commander of the Coalition Forces, was slain defending Sherber.

Bejem returned the Seed of Winter to Mako, in a container that dampened the voice of the artifact. Quelenna, the eladrin merchant queen, shared that the Seed was last known to be in the possession of Kalshane, the Stone-Skinned King, a name the Wayfarers recognized from long ago; his men were in Mountainroot. Kalshane controls a network of portals to and from the Feywild, and is most likely providing the means for the Githyanki to appear so quickly. Kalshane is a powerful foe, but will negotiate. He is known for his fascination with the arcane, rumored to have dismantled a stone golem and grafted its parts to his own body. Quelenna mentioned that many merchant consortiums had been targeted, include that of one-time Wayfarer, Veles, as strategic supply chains had been cut and Coalition cities were isolated. Quelenna predicted a month until all-out war, and now simply siege actions. The eladrin knows of a portal to the Feywild that will take the Wayfarers close to Kalshane’s domain, but it opens into the realm of the Skyshaper, an Archfey of mercurial, capricious nature. The portal is in the ghost town of Rhest, destroyed generations ago in an orc invasion.

The Wayfarers quickly made preparations, and departed for Rhest. Quelenna described the building housing the portal, a ritual circle would be found in the basement and the ritual to activate it was etched into the wall. Along the way, Mako engaged the Seed in conversation, as it attempted to dominate him, and he attempted to annoy it into submission. Arriving, and entering the basement, the Wayfarers came upon a squad of cyclops slavers, whose stone golem guarded a group of humans in a cage. A five-foot stream ran through the basement, which appeared to be newly rebuilt, in order to drain the surrounding swamp water away; Orsik recognized dwarven engineering. After eliminating the slavers and the animated guard, Odachi threw open the portcullis of the pen holding the captives. Odachi provided them with the cyclops’ equipment and the little treasure they carried. The Seed was not impressed with the goliath’s compassion for the weak.

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I Don't Have a Witty Comment

Leaving Ularion tied and hanging in the tunnel leading off the cavern of shapes frozen in the stalagmites, the Wayfarers entered into a long cavern in the iceberg. A long crevasse cut through the center of the cavern, the tunnel continuing out the other end. Mako noticed a short tunnel near the cavern entrance, and climbed up enough to hear deep, gruff voices from above. Realizing the climb would give away their position, the Wayfarers chose the other approach. The sound of running water echoed as the party entered another, even larger cavern. A bridge of ice steeply sloped upwards, and mist curled up from the stream of meltwater running under the bridge. Odachi recognized what his people called “Chokefrost,” the bitter fog slowed those who tried to walk though it. The cavern’s most noticeable features, however, were the three frost giants and two large winter wolves. Odachi’s initial reaction was to being taunting them in their native tongue. After a heated battle (pun intended!) the wayfarers found a sack of 5000 good coins, minted with images of a northern land (bear, elk, loons, younglings playing ice hockey). Some eighteen giant bedrolls lie scattered around the cavern, and after some investigation, Kah was able to determine the ritual circle adorning the floor led north, most likely to the land that minted the coins.

A slow, grueling climb up the ice slide led to the first noticeably “worked” room in the iceberg, lined with pillars and ice-carved gargoyles. Along one wall, Mako discovered an inscription floating in the wall, telling that the way would open with appropriate supplication. Orsik, knowing Tiamat is the queen of greed, dropped a gold coin onto the alter at the front of the chamber; it quickly disappeared into the ice. He knelt between the two largest gargoyles, and the wall near Mako slid open. The chamber the Wayfarers entered was lined with mirrors, all reflecting light onto a seed-shaped object in the center of the chamber. The Wayfarers and the mirrors stood thirty feet above the lower floor. A fifty-foot obelisk stood below the hovering Seed of Winter. As the threatening voice of Chillreaver echoed through the room, promising an end to their journey, the Wayfarers found themselves thinking, “Here we go again.” Odachi responded by shattering one of the mirrors. A huge white dragon appeared in the the ritual circle at the far end of the chamber, its two heads turned to face the Wayfarers. Throughout the battle with Chillreaver, the Wayfarers split their attention between shattering the mirrors and taking out the dragon. It was Kah who finally scored the killing blow, with a well-placed magic missile.

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"I Can't Get My Pickles Out"

After mourning the mysterious disappearance of Arannis, Kha enacted the Solace Bole ritual given to them by the Devas. Within the demiplane space, teh Wyafarers found opulent oriental accomodations, and were able to rest peacefully. Once restored, they returned to the real world, where only a single hour had passed.

Further into the iceberg, they discovered a Sahuagin Baron and his bodyguards, lurking in a back cavern. Once the fray was entered, a mysterious figure appeared in a thunderclap and took to the enemies with a whirling greatsword. Soon after, an odd blue beholder-kin flanked the wayfarers, firing rays from its eyes and causing all sorts of trouble for the wayfarers. Shortly, though, the monsters fell, and the Wayfarers greeted the stranger.

Riven had been sent by a mysterious patron to continue the work of the one who had fallen -Arannis. Curiously, this new warrior – surely a revenant, as Kha pointed out – had no knowledge of who or what his patron was or how he had been delivered here. But the Wayfarers, their pressing mission at hand, pressed on with the aid of the mysterious Riven.

A hole in the icy ceiling was found to be the only way to progress in the ice fortress, and so, with Mako’s magical hook, the wayafarers climbed upwards.

Above, they encountered a dimly-lit cavern, studded with stalagmites. A few seemd to pulse as though something were moving within them. At the far end, a voice called out for them to turn back, that they would not pass, that their death lay forward.

Soon enough, the missing Githyanki, Uarion was discovered, but changed by the icy fortress. Now seemingly devoted to the mysterious “Chillreaver,” Uarion threatened the wayfarers, but quick action from all of the heroes soon saw Uarion unconscious on the ice.

Ahead, a passage leads off to a room with a massive chasm in the center. Beyond, another icy corridor beckons.

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Lunch

Once free of the blockade’s icy ring, the Wayfarers were able to take in the view of Nefeles in full. Built into a large valley like a cleft that ran the breadth of the island, the city blended with the tropical jungle to create a harmony that impressed even the eladrin, Arranis. Seeing the valley, Orsik may have mumbled something about “the blow of Moradin’s axe.” Quite a few ships remained the in harbor, unable to breach the frozen blockade, which Mako noted how many were trapped upon the island. Odachi responded, “If you’re going to be trapped anywhere, why not a tropical paradise?” Kah found a stretch of open land, and effortless guided the airship down. After disembarking, and drawing surprisingly little attention to themselves, Amyria led the Wayfarers through the city, up the hill to the city’s great library. Along the way, the adventurers were bombarded by sights, sounds, and smells all new to them; even the well-learned Kah and stoic Odachi were taken back by the island’s exotic wares.

Along their two-hour trek, it was noted that few, if any, of the deva seemed to be panicked or alarmed by the blockade, as Amyria stopped to speak with some deva and send word that the Wayfarers had arrived. Arranis and Mako noted the lack of other races: a few humans, halflings, elves, and eladrin, the occasional tiefling, but few members of any race besides the deva themselves. Outside the library, its two bronze doors open to the public, stood a male deva in violet-blue robes, small platinum wings upon his back. “Welcome,” he began, “I am Bejem, Sixth Thraxus and Keeper of the Mirrors. We are pleased with your success for arrival.” The Wayfarers exchanged confused looks, shrugged, and responded, “Hi.” Bejem and Amyria went to negotiate the terms of the Wayfarers service to Nefeles, while the heroes were led to a well-appointed room where the deva provided roast pig, fresh exotic fruit, and a cask of dwarven ale.

Some seven hours later, full and well rested, the Wayfarers were rejoined by Amyria and Bejem. “The question,” Amyria explained, “was over how Nefeles will support the Coalition,” when she was pressed my Mako. “The Thraxinum has agreed to provide support and materials to our cause.”

“Time is short,” Bejem spoke, “The heart of our problem appears to be “The Seed of Winter,” an artifact able to drastically alter the climate in a localized area, and magically mutate the creatures there.” Kah drew in a breath, horrified at the thought of some arcane force able to bring this much cold. Odachi smiled to himself, thinking of the glaciers back home. Bejem continued, “We thought the artifact lost to the Feywilde some centuries ago. The situation here in Nefeles began when a lone iceberg appeared off our shores, not an unheard of circumstance, but unlikely, nonetheless. We sent three ships to investigate; two were set upon and sunk by sahaugin before drawing close. The final broke free, and made it to the iceberg, but only one survivor appeared to escape the frost giants that assaulted the ship. This was Uarion, a githzeri trained in the magics of the mind and a close friend of mine. I would appreciate his safe return.”

At this point, Odachi whispered to himself, “We don’t have the best record for bringing people back,” but was heard by Arranis and Mako, who pointed out Thrunn, Jalissa, Mako himself (in a bucket), Mako’s wife and daughter, Kalad, and Odachi acquiesced. Little did he know how prophetic he’d end up being.

When asked by Mako, Bejem informed the Wayfarers that the blockade encircled the island some eight days ago, and it had been sixteen days since the iceberg appeared. They had arrived via an unexpected “hole” in their defenses, one Bejem assured them had now been closed. Bejem also informed them that a ritual sustained by the Thraxinium held the ice at bay over the island itself, but would only remain for another day, at best. Then, the climate of Nefeles would be forever altered.

“We’re not flying or sailing to the iceberg, right?” Odachi asked. “Teleportation has proven…unreliable,” Bejem responded. “But, if you’ll follow me,” and he led the Wayfarers down a winding staircase, to a cavern cove in which three large, iron-banded barrels bobbed. Bejem leaned close to the barrels, whispering in an eldritch Eladrin dialect, and each unfolded into the approximation of an iron lobster, large enough for two to sit in. “The Apparatus of Kwalish!” he announced. “These will take you along the ocean floor,” and he gave the Wayfarers a “crash course” on operation of the artifacts. He also provided Kah with a scroll of the ritual, “Solace Bole,” allowing transit to a demi-plane where time passed faster than on the prime material, allowing for a night’s rest in an hour of time. [Solace Bole: You and up to five other creatures you designate within 10 squares of you are transported to a sealed hollow the size of a comfortable room within a magical tree in the Feywilde. The hollow has a glowing light you can control and is filled with sweet air. You can remain within the bole for up to 12 hours. Thereafter, or when you will it to be so, you and all the creatures the ritual took to the hollow return to the exact place they left. Only 1 hour of time has passed in the world. If you took an extended rest within the bole, you must wait 12 hours after your return to the world to take another one. If you have assistance when performing this ritual, divide the casting time by the number of participants. The assistants all chant in a fey harmony while you perform the ritual. Anyone you want to assist you in this way can learn the proper harmony during an extended rest.]

Bejem also provided the party with a small “Elemental Prism” [Elemental Prism: Power (Encounter): Free Action. Use this power when you make an attack that deals acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder damage. Change all your attack’s damage to a different type of your choice among those above. You gain resist 15 to your attack’s original damage type until the end of your next turn], allowing resistance to and increased power from a certain elemental type. “It will take you three hours to reach the iceberg,” he continued, as he explained the air limits of the apparatuses. Bejem also provided winter clothing for the Wayfarers.

Bejem’s estimates of the air capacity proved to be lower than expected, for the Wayfarers arrived safely, but winded [one healing surge spent], entering the iceberg via a tunnel found on its underside. The tunnel opened into a cavern swarming with blue-skinned sahaugin, led by a shaman who summoned disembodied shark jaws to attack. A drag-out battle ensued, and while the Wayfarers caught their breath after, they noted the cavern appeared to be natural, but two staircases carved into the ice led up and away from the cavern. Mako silently went up the left staircase, to notice something huge and eight-legged crawl behind a stalagmite. He loosed an arrow, and ran to rejoin the party below. Based on his description, Odachi recognized the creature as a behir, and passed the elemental prism to Orisk where it would do more good. Knowing they would have to engage the beast, the Wayfarers unleashed an onslaught upon it, draining most of their energy, and tragically losing Arranis when the beast ate him where he stood. As the last breath wheezes out of the body of the behir, the Wayfarers leap into action.

Swords and daggers tore at its flesh, eager to rescue their companion within the beast’s belly. Kah, digging deep into his Magical Creatures Anatomy lessons, directed the cuts to avoid harming Arannis. However . . .When the belly is reached, and carefully split open, its contents were surprising to say the least. There, amongst the stagnant fluids in the beasts’s stomach, lay Arannis sword, armor, clothing and other items, but his body – living or dead – was gone.

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Djinn and Juice.

Mako ran to fetch Amyria and Odos, and Lord Torrance was sent for. Arranis and Odachi searched the rest of Telecanthus’ manor; further inspection revealed it to be bland, the facade of a wealthy craftsman’s home, but no details to make it look “lived in.” Orsik and Kah set about gleaning what they could form the shards of the glass sphere and other arcane remnants in the cavern.

Upon his arrival, Lord Torrance was not pleased with the Wayfarer’s success, “I thought I told you to be subtle,” he sighed, “Telecanthus was well-loved by the people of Sayre.” Mako suggested a trial, and Torrance, intrigued, agreed. Using the paperwork found in the manor offices, evidence was “extrapolated” that Telecanthus defrauded the city and embezzled funds from the treasury. Later that day, in a very public arrest, Kah, in the guise of the githyanki, was taken in chains to the dungeons.

Mako took Orsik to the temple of Moradin, and sought blessings to remove the curse upon him from the Temple of Erathis-turned-Tiamat. Kah was removed from the dungeons, and sought the library to study. Arranis sought the shrine of Correleon to meditate, and Odachi busied himself working in the city’s gardens and communing with Sayre’s spirits. Over the course of the day, Mako led each of the Wayfarers to the temple to receive Moradin’s blessing.

Around Sayre, people began to talk about Telecanthus; rumors spread like wildfire through the city, as some insisted he was innocent and others “knew it all along.” Kah, in various forms, fed this rumor mill, each time exaggerating the charges against the githyanki. As the day passed, word spread the Wayfarers were involved, and it was announced the trial would occur in the morning. The next day, the city shut down. The very public trial was held in the courtyard of the city hall, Kah-Telecanthus was read the official charges against him: embezzlement, tax evasion, and conspiracy. Orsik, as a paladin of Moradin, was called to witness; the other Wayfarers situated themselves around the town square, alert for potential danger. However, the trial passed without incident, and “Telecanthus” was sentenced to twenty years of deep imprisonment. After the sentencing, Lord Torrance gave a speech on the goodness of the city, their ability to overcome the poisonous influence of Telecanthus, the blatant racism against the githzeri would end, and he formally gave Telecanthus’ manor to the githzeri as a new cloister. Although some felt Telecanthus was still innocent, no ill will appeared to be held toward the Wayfarers. Throughout the city, General Theremin increased the watch patrols.

The night following the trial, the Coalition Council met in the former manor of Telecanthus. Amyria introduced another deva, a male named Borom, who told of Nefeles, a tropical city host to the greatest arcane university in the known world. Anyria noted the isolationist Nefelese turned her down to host of the Coalition meeting. Borom was on a diplomatic mission for the Thoraxium, the ruling council of mages. The emissary received a sending from his superior; Nefeles was beset with chilling temperatures and a blockade, but was cut off. All attempts to reestablish contact via sending, scrying, or messenger simply reveled a frosty haze around the island. Amyria offered to hire a ship, but Arranis suggested the githyanki airship, which he had affectionately dubbed “The Screaming Mimi.” Amyria cose to join the Wayfarers, but Borom stated he must continue his original mission, and was unable to be talked out of it.

Travel to Nefeles took the airship a week. While in flight, Kah noticed Amyria ill at ease, and tried to reassure the deva. She revealed reluctance to confront other deva, fearing she’d be looked down upon for her failures.

The air was warm as the Wayfarers crossed the tropics, but grew noticeably colder as a column of fog appeared on the horizon. Ice began to form on the ship’s masts, making the already-unsteady Odachi even more uncomfortable as he tried to move across the deck. He set himself at the bow and removed to move unless the need was dire. From the stern castle of the ship, where he and Arranis conferred, Orsik noticed the sound of leatery wings. As blue-skinned, winged, female forms flapped from the fog. Orsik alerted the Wayfarers, “Harpies!” At the bow, Odachi and Amyria watched as a large, icy humanoid, coalesced into view, his lower half disappearing into a maelstrom of wind and ice. A pack of misty, frosty wolves flew through the skies at his side. “Djinn!” Amyria yelled. As the areal battle raged, Mako climbed to the top of the mast and loosed upon the Djinn, but he was knocked from his perch by the elemental. Odachi and Amyria busied themselves slaying wolves and harpies, as Orsik and Arranis engaged the harpies at the stern. Kah balanced both controlling the ship and releasing fireballs from the ship’s bridge.

Following the battle, the Wayfarers continued forward, and as the rings of frost and snow parted, a tropical paradise was reveled below, a large tower upon the island’s single peak.

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"You Don't Want to Whip That Out at ANY Opportunity; It's Rude."

After a short rest to catch their breath, the Wayfarers continued down the lit tunnel. They entered into a dimly lit chamber in which the parapets of a ruined tower jutted above the cavern floor. Odachi observed Sayre seemed to be built on the ruins of another city, contemplating the secrets that earth and stone held, and what they gave up. In the flickering light of a small fire, the Wayfarers observed the walls of the tower jaggedly rose five to ten feet, before collapsing in upon themselves. At a low point (lower for the human), Mako and Odachi looked over the stone ruins; within the floor had fell, in a neat cutaway, into a chamber glowing with a bluish light. The stonework of the floor rested at a steep angle, creating a path from the still-standing tower door to that cavern. The heroes could just make out a wooden plank bridging a chasm at the bottom of the sloped floor.

Climbing down, and stumbling along the way, the chamber revealed a sphere of stained glass, from which the arcane light emanated. The sphere rested just above the floor, five times the height of a human; stairs on either side led to a platform that appeared to run through the globe. Off to one sided of the chamber, a forge for melting glass glowed palely in comparison to the eldrich energy that crackled along the glass surface. The first to approach, Kah and Odachi smelled the burnt ozone of lightning crackling the air; Kah’s hair stood on end as he got closer. Mako and Orsik stepped toward the forge; the four heard chanting from the sphere.

Orsik, first to go up the stairs of the sphere platform, touches the faint outline of a doorway on the glass surface, as the door faded before his eyes, the dwarf saw five githyanki; their voices chanting. As Orsik entered the sphere, Mako readied to attack. As the battle raged, Odachi entered the sphere, and realizing it had no place in the natural world, turned his assault toward the sphere, his mountainous strikes eventually shattering the glass. As the last githyanki fell to the Wayfarers outside the sphere, Pennel appeared and kicked the platform down the chasm. He was joined by eight more githyanki. Telecanthus himself appeared as the heroes engaged his soldiers, clearly agitated by the damage to his “efforts among the inbreeds.” Mako fired his grapple into the cavern ceiling, and swung across the chasm, kicking Telecanthus into the pit below. The battle continued, and eventually, Telecanthus fell to the Wayfarers.

As the Wayfarers search Pennel & Tekecanthus, the curse of Tiamat continued to work upon them, as each looks for the most valuable treasures to take from the fallen. Odachi asks, “Do we have enough evidence to bring before the Coalition council? The prophecy, the manor’s ledgers, the pieces of the crystal, Telecanthus’ presence here and assault on us, and our prisoner: am I forgetting anything? I say we drag the prisoner to the council and get them down here. Act now!”

Arannis looks up from the search and replies to Odachi and the others. “Well, if we don’t have enough evidence then I think the members of the coalition are dumber than I first took them for.” “Besides, I think the point is kind of moot, what with Telecanthus dead and the glass broken.” “I am curious though, whom exactly they were communicating with and where they are?”

Picking through the glass shards, Odachi responded, “The prophesy seemed to imply they were communicating with the followers of Tiamat. Perhaps Kah can recall more from the copies he made of the carvings.”

“I do think you are right Chunk, we will have to get the coalition members down here to look at all this.” “I am curious as to what Odo has to say.” “I feel like we are more connected to this than we first believed.” “It is no coincidence that we have been through all of this, it is all connected.” “I think we need guidance as to what our next step is, …but not until after we search through the house to see if there is anything that will help us in that next step.” Arannis gives a sly look that suggests that hero’s should be compensated for their efforts, regardless of where that compensation comes from.

Mako looks around at the devastation the Wayfarers had caused, shaking his head as he watches Odachi looting corpses and Arranis hints that we should be compensated for our troubles, he begins to wonder if he shouldn’t find a priest or something as they just have not been right since the Temple to Tiamat… they just seem greedy somehow. He checks to make sure the letter in his pocket wasn’t damaged, wondering why he can’t have the one thing we truly wants.
He looks to the party’s leader and says, “Arranis, if you want I’ll go and bring some of the Coalition members down here… I don’t think we should wait until morning. They might be able to get some magical residue or some such,” (he looks to Kah for help explaining the arcane, “from the Artifact that they might be able to pick up on. Plus we should notify the watch as to what was going on, last time we uncovered something like this the City was invaded. Kah and Orsik are best suited to try and determine who the Githyanki were talking to.”

Odachi responds, “I agree. We should gather what information we can from the prisoner, then make sure there is nothing else in the manor that can support the Coalition. Also, given how city peoples act, I don’t want to be hauled in front of Lord Torrence for killing this ‘fine, upstanding,’” Odachi kicks Telecanthus’ body, “‘citizen’ of Sayre. Once we are sure there’s nothing else in the manor, send for Amyria and Lord Torrence, and get General Theremin’s watch to search the place top to bottom. I’m all for bringing Odos this fool’s head, and then going and getting a drink, something to eat, and tell tales of our deeds in the inn. And then sleeping off it all.”

“I agree with Odachi,” Arranis responds, “Let’s get those three down here. Mako if you are good with going to get them that would be good. Then perhaps we leave Kah and Orsik her to sort out mystical information that they may find, while Odachi and I look through the house for more evidence and anything that can further support our endeavors.”

Upon the fallen, the Wayfarers found the following: Telecanthus had a small pouch on his belt containing 57 small, pearlescent white gems. Kah immediately recognized them as Astral Diamonds, the most common form of currency in the outer planes. Each can fetch 100 gp in the mortal realm. Pennel carried a pouch with 1800 gold in mostly platinum and some gold. In addition, eached carries a Potion of Vitality. The Githyanki Mindslicer who was leading the ritual in the glass itself is wearing an unusual, wide leather belt seemingly encrusted with transparent coarse sand. Kah investigated this item, and after some time of study, determined it to be a Baldric of Time (Property: When you roll a 20 on your initiative check, you gain an extra standard action during the first turn of the encounter.) As Kah investigated the gems, he suggested dark magic might be cast upon them and suggested that the entire bag be given to him so he can disenchant them, so as to protect the group.

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"It's not that we're NOT careful, it's that we're NOT GOOD at careful."

A carriage arrived at the appointed time to deliver the Wayfarers to their tea party with Telecanthus. Apropos of Telecanthus’ vocation, the carriage windows were lined with stained glass. Having received an invitation myself, I rode alone, arriving before the Wayfarers did. A long hedge lined Telecanthus’ manor, providing privacy, if not some measure of protection, from prying eyes and potential thieves. Entry was through a small antechamber to a large, domed great hall, all marble and stained glass. Light and music wafted through the scented air, Telecanthus provided a short tour of the open chambers of his manor: a balcony lead from the great hall and overlooked the gardens, a tea room held hors d’oeuvre and wine, a parlor a small band of minstrels, and a gallery held a wall of portraits of supposedly illustrious githyanki (I did not recognize anyone, but General Alvro Theremin, captain of the town guard entered, and I quickly slipped out before he recognized me). A library and comfortable reading room completed the rooms that were open to our visit, but my attention turned to one of Telecanthus’ other guests, a female centaur, and with a bottle of wine in hand, we slipped out to the stables behind the manor. I later found out the Wayfarers arrive via the front door as I exited the rear…

In addition to the good general, Lord Divian Torrance, Lady Torrance, the Archdean of the University of Sayre, and Baronor the Black, a retired human adventurer who’s own manor was next door to Telecanthus’. After entering the great hall of the manor and receiving Telecanthus’ tour, the Wayfarers found themselves left to their own devices among the niceties of civilization, something Mako, Orsik, and Odachi were now good at handling. Especially Odachi, who wandered into the portrait room, and after a quick look at the portraits (That they were all of githyanki was about all he could gather from them. “Those people all look the same,” he thought to himself with a grunt.), Odachi began questioning the general about defense of Sayre and sharing wine over war stories. Odachi was able to find out that General Theremin did see Telecanthus as a threat, but the githyanki’s pull was enough to keep Sayre watch patrols away from his manor.

Mako wandered back towards the wing of the manor Telecanthus did not include on the tour, and when Penel quickly appeared to block his way, he claimed to be looking for the jakes.

Arranis amused himself by talking (loudly) with Baronor, the old man excitedly telling tales of his encounter with a black dragon, as Kah, Telecanthus, and the Archdean listened as well. The Archdean, however, quickly grew bored, and with a slight grin began chatting up Kah (KAH!? It’s nice to see him use his abilities for his own good, for once). As they discussed magic, it became clear to Kah that her understanding was on theory, not the practical application of the raw powers of magic to light things and creatures on fire.

Kah was slightly disappointed. Slightly.

He took advantage of her attentions to slip away and explore the grounds, always returning knowing grin and wink of the servants who questioned him. As they walked, the Archdean mentioned that the quantity of foodstuffs the manor consumed was odd for the size of the staff.

Orsik snacked, received a knowing, but “keep-your-familiarity-to-yourself” nod from Lord Torrance, and headed to the parlor to listen to the minstrels. Lady Torrance joined him, and gently dropped a note that only he noticed, “The lord feels Mr. Penel could be of interest,” it read. Mako joined the dwarf in the parlor, and the two hatched a plan to create a distraction and grand Orsik access to the off-limits wing of the manor. A wager was made, to be witnessed by the minstrels, that Mako’s arrow could not fly true down the hall that ran the length of the manor. Orsik wandered down the hall and opened the door outside, as they would not want any damage to come to Lord Telecanthus’ home. As he walked, Orsik tried doors but, more significantly, noticed the ground was not as solid as it should have been; a recent excavation must have been dug beneath the manor. At the end of the hall, he found Telecanthus’ glass workshop, and a master bedroom, surprisingly clean, un-lived-in and unused. Commotion began to spread through the guests, as they lined up to watch the wager. Arranis grabbed Penel and pulled him into an unlocked room. An arrow was loosed. Orsik slipped into another Spartan bedchamber. Arranis locked the door behind him; Penel removed Arranis’ hand with more strength than expected. Odachi and the general drank. Minstrels and guests watched the arrow fly by. Arranis questioned Penel about the history of stained glass. The arrow flew through the open door. Cheers went up, and a platinum piece was paid between friends and a sliver to the minstrel who took up the bet. Arranis was able to slip Penel’s key from him while he was distracted talking about his lord. Telecanthus, between clenched teeth, but the model of civility, sternly led his guests to the great hall.

Meanwhile, Kah and I were occupying ourselves in much the same fashion, a stall apart in the stables. Kah and the Archdean returned to the hall through the same door Mako’s arrow had exited, and also looked in upon Telecanthus’ workshop. “He is either the cleanest stained glass worker,” the mage thought, “or this workshop has not been used.” Kah also discovered a well-stocked kitchen, again, almost too well-stocked for the lord and staff of the manor. Penel appeared, and firmly led the mage and the now-blushing Archdean to the great hall, as guests departed.

The same carriage returned through the streets, depositing the Wayfarers at their lodging, where, Odachi’s nature streak showing, he loudly complimented Mako on winning the wager. The adventurers debriefed; after a significant debate over the merits of infiltration and killing Telecanthus’ staff, the Wayfarers agreed on sneaky and non-lethal for their return to Telecanthus’.

Mako’s grapple provided access to the roof of the servants’ quarters out back of the main manor house, as they climbed down the side, the door opened and Telecanthus’ cook looked Arranis in the eyes. Arranis put his finger to his lips with a “Shhhhh,” and the cook quietly closed the door. The Wayfarers could hear something large being dragged in front the door.

With the purloined key, the Wayfarers entered the side door of the manor, and while Odachi stood watch at the door, the rest of the party entered Telecanthus’ office. On his desk sat a journal, containing guest lists for the parties, a stack of formulas for coloring glass, and a few small shards of stained class. A long mirror lined one wall of the office. Investigating further, Mako and Orsik entered a second office, where a ledger revealed the manor burns through a tremendous amount of gold, but there was no clear connection to any illicit activity. Within the first office, Kah and Arranis reviewed the papers and studied the glass. Returning, Orsik realized that there was too much wall between the master bedchamber and the office. Kah experimented, until touching a piece of the stained glass to the mirror opened a small, unlit passage with stairs leading down. Orsik identified the roughly carved passage as being only months old. The last to enter, Odachi took up rear guard as Mao slipped ahead, hearing sounds of breathing from ahead. After a small drop, five githyanki slept upon bedrolls surrounding a table. From a single candle and a far off light down a deeper tunnel, the chamber was lit well-enough to see; other, dark tunnel radiated from their room. Their silver swords and armor lying next to them, Mako silent crept through the camp and removed the githyankis’ weapons, bringing them back down the tunnel to the stairs. With Mako’s reconnaissance, each of the Wayfarers moved next to a githyanki and attacked while they lie prone.

Mako questioned the githyanki’s leader, while he was pinned and unarmed, “We dig,” the mind slicer responded, “We are performing the ritual.” Mako asked, “To what dimension are you trying to open a portal?” The githyanki looked at him as if he had asked, “What does the color blue taste like,” and before Mako could get any other information, yelled down the lit tunnel, “TO ARMS!” Four more githyanki joined these; as the battle waged, Mako was able to subdue one more to question again, later.

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Playing Politics

After camping back in the anteroom to the temple, disturbed occasionally by the beggars camped in the excavated cavern, Odachi set to work smashing the statue of Tiamat with the type of glee only someone who looks down upon the gods could. Behind, a tunnel sloped down forty or so feet before terminating in a pile of rubble; “Knowledge lies trapped behind the guardian,” Arranis recited. Orsik and Odachi made quick work of the rubble, revealing a wooden door that sticks fast; Orsik mightily pulls it back with a tug, opening into a library. History within was not recorded on scrolls or in books, but on the walls of the chamber itself. A large stone table stood in the middle of the chamber, flanked by skeletal scribes who drew memories from the Wayfarers, inscribing it on their tattered flesh. Following cleaning up the undead librarians, the Wayfarers discovered predictions of Auglos the Seer that particularly seemed directed at Amyria and themselves, and hinted at greater involvement of the followers of Tiamat than just this co-opted temple. Kah chose to stay behind to investigate further, while the rest of the Wayfarers returned to the world above to meet with the Coalition Amyria began to form.

Arriving to the University of Sayre almost late to the meeting, Amyria pulled the Wayfarers aside and both parties quickly updated each other: the Wayfarers on the words of Auglos and the temple of Tiamat, and Amyria on the seven representatives that have arrived and her five goals.

The seven members of the Coalition conference were Kalad, whom firmly stood in Amyria’s camp, almost to the point of excess; Fariex, the Scale-Hammer, whom Amyria feared would fall to analysis paralysis as her looked at all sides of the coming conflict; Caliandra, the wild elf chieftain, whose stubbornness, age, and expectations of being treated with deference, could impede the process of forming the coalition; Lord Torrence, whom, as the consummate politician, was needed to allow the investigation of Telecanthus to move forward; Quellena, who as the head of an Eladrin consortium, could prove difficult to convince her business was threatened; Inogo Dravich, whose background of theological debate could lead to a stalemate; and Odos, who needed to be convinced not to just hunt Telecanthus outright. Amyiria lead the Wayfarers to a small lecture hall, where the seven were seated around the table. The adventurers sat outside this circle, listening to the debate and rising to make their points and focus the Coalition on the tasks at hand: transferring control of the military to the council, electing a leader for the council itself, naming the Coalition, convincing them of the importance of Amyria’s dream, and receiving the approval to investigate Telecanthus. For hours, the Wayfarers listened and responded, focusing on their strengths as Arranis drew tales from history, Orsick recited lessons of the faithful, Mako recounted anecdotes from the natural world, and Odachi appealed to strength, until a vote was called, and the Wayfarers escorted out of the room.

The final results: The committee voted 5-2 to transfer control of all military power to the Coalition, with Kalad as General of the Armies. 6-1, the committee voted Lord Torrence head of the Coalition council. Kalad held out for Amyria, despite her own protests. The other measures were approved unanimously, Inogo and Odos finding common ground on the importance of Amyria’s dream. Amyria was appointed to investigate both Telecanthus and the Spider of Sayre, Lord Torrence deputizing the Wayfarers to conduct the investigation legally.

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Tapping the Pig Farmer, or On a Critial, You Hit The Pig

Through the splintered door, a cobblestone street stretched into a rockfall; the Wayfarers had delved into an excavated stretch of old Sayre, long since buried. Three building facades faced the stretch of street. Orsik took quick stock of the excavation, clearly a rush job, and not up to Dwarven standards; mud and silt held the ceiling only ten feet above the Wayfarers. Scattered around the “street” area were sleeping palates, some inhabited by raggedly dressed beggars, none who appeared to be willing to confront those who entered with the shattering of the door. The building that led from the Old Spice House, as well as the building across from it, appeared to be old shops abandoned upon whatever calamity buried them under rock and stone. On the third facade, Kah recognized some of the marks of a temple of Ioun, long since defaced, all markings of the god of knowledge stripped away. In a low breath, Arranis observed, “Knowledge lies trapped behind the guardian…” Large double doors, carved with proverbs of Ioun, such as, “Knowing is half the battle,” “Knowledge is power,” “The more you know, the more you grow,” opened from the street into a small antechamber, some 10’ deep and 15’ across. Along the walls, where once were frescoes of the faith of Ioun were now adorned with crudely painted nudes, standing atop piles of wealth, mirroring each other. Orisk recognized the nude human woman as an aspect of Tiamat, goddess of greed and evil dragons; the Wayfarers noted both walls appeared smudged, as if some of the paint had been rubbed away in benediction. Another pair of doors was set across the antechamber from the Wayfarers’ entrance. Odachi listened at these doors, but could not make out much beyond, “Wealth is yours…” “THEY will come to take it…” “Claim what you want…”. Steeling for combat, Mako threw the inner doors open.

Within an octagonal chamber of worship, a dozen Beggars faced a large, lone man, who cried, “They are here to take what is yours! Slay them!” upon the Wayfarers’ entrance. Many of the rogues drew short swords, but two drew katars, and one quickly jumped across the 10-foot long, 55-foot wide trench dividing the worship area from a sanctuary. That sanctuary held the largest pile of treasure the Wayfarers had ever seen, as well as a small statue of Tiamat in her five-headed dragon form. With what was becoming his signature move, Mako drew, nocked, and loosed an arrow at the large man, knocking him into the trench behind him. Less than a second later, Mako noted the thud, observing, “Hmmm…twenty feet deep.” The Wayfarers quickly funneled through the doors and engaged the opponents within. Mere seconds later, a grapple shot up from the trench, trailed a rope below, and the Filth King raised to rejoin the fray. As combat raged, each hero began to look at the other with covetousness in their hearts, each companion looked slightly better armed, armored, and skilled than himself. The Beggar that fled continued to pepper Odachi with shuriken throughout the battle. Eventually winning the day, using the trench to their advantage, Mako quickly claimed the grapple for himself, and each of the heroes looked on jealously. The Wayfarers stopped for a short rest to catch their breath before continuing across, the whole time keeping a watchful eye on their companions. Odachi took it upon himself to remove the blasphemous heads of Tiamat, and lept across to behead the sculpture. Orsik laid a pew across the trench, and the Wayfarers crossed. Catching sight of a bow within the pile of treasure, Mako reached for it, and the pile came alive, coalescing into the shape of a five-headed hydra. Combat was again engaged by the Wayfarers against what Kah had only heard of as theoretical magic: a treasure golem, the ultimate guardian made of the very thing it was to guard. Driven by magic, the golem continued to take abuse throughout the combat, shrugging off much if the Wayfarers damage until finally, it crashed into a pile of silver, gold, and platinum*, as well as one Ring of Protection and a Talisman of Fortune. After the battle, continued with his original intent, smashing the five-headed statue and revealing a tunnel behind.

*20,000 silver; 10,000 gold; 600 pp.

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