The Heir to Disaster

Session 51
Spirits and Trees

The result of the contact with the Moon Presence at Arsam releases a discharge of magic energy at the Imia Lawstone. In other words, a great ‘aethersnap’, a wild flux in magic occurs. The many wondrous items carried by Starhunters see their properties enhanced or fundamentally altered by the mystic reverberations that emit from the Imia Lawstone. The Starhunter company are too crazed by their own behavior to notice, however. Damir and Aelish flee from the rogue frenzy that has taken the minds of all others save the half-elf, Perren Sparrowhawk.

And with intact faculty Perren calls back to Aelish. His cries turn her ear, and the ever brave and selfless Aelish returns to see what help she might offer. There before the treasure-hunter, hoving over the snow is what a terrified few know as a ‘Mind Flayer’. A face-writhing thing, vaguely person-shaped. Its flesh pulsates with a color out of space and it is garbed in shreds of reality. An invisible force it commands floats two objects into its grasp: the Rod of Rulership and one of A’Kelah’s witch-candles. As this happens, the tenor of its outward thoughts—amplified by the stolen rod—hums on the air like an unseen storm. This storm resonates with the minds of those who look upon it (even the elven knot of Perren’s mind is unraveled), leaving them enthralled.

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The Mind Flayer drinks the thoughts of those it has stupefied; Damir and Perren. Aelish’s face goes unswallowed, for that ‘dish has already been supped’. Suddenly, Aelish hears others coming. There are voices calling out amidst the pine trees down the hill. She scurries to see if any danger is posed to her impetuous new master. Indeed, the Mind Flayer—who licks up her thoughts as she forms them—becomes spooked at the danger any newcomers pose. It expends the stolen candle to quit the scene and return to whatever blind eternity it calls home.

The departure of the Mind Flayer brings a calm to the mystic turmoil that preceded it. Aodh and Fendrys and A’Kelah slowly rise to their senses, unaware at first what is real and what is dream. Then warriors of the white petal people arrive. They are human men clad in doeskin and woolen fibers. Leonidas uses his magic to parley with them. He does his best to maintain his dignity and assert the importance of their confederacy. The white petal warriors see a traumatized, strange talking lot with outlandish, blood-stained clothes and even wilder gear. They mistake Aodh for a dwarf. They stare in wonder at A’Kelah’s color and shape. They mistake them all for gods, like their fertility idol ‘Deleathil’, who have transited to this plane by way of the Lawstone.

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The white petal people take the Starhunters in, seeing that even gods need shelter and care in times of great need. The white petal people tell them of their ways. They mention that recently a star in the sky has fallen and landed in the land of the Daughters of Huyaba, the gold-hemmed witches of Elansory. Their chief, Kroggil, ‘the tiger-taker’, summons his ‘stonesage’, Vossom. The sage examines their souls and observes what is amiss. Vossom takes them to the ‘Burnflower’ where they will speak with the Watcher-in-Flames.

But the illumination of the Watcher’s fire draws many eyes. So instead, Hanezal, the Dowager of the Vagrant Flame appears before them as a shadow on the wall as later she will in the dwarven halls of Lost Lokken. The echo and opprobrium of her voice fills the chamber of the Burnflower. Hanezal bargains. She offers up the body of the Lord Pariah if Aelish will go to Elansory and, in the witches’ care, propagate for her a girl-child.

‘Flesh for flesh, a body for a body.’

Aelish manifestly rejects this proposal with her righteousness of voice and deed. Ruefully they all leave the Burnflower and then take their leave of the white petal people.

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The Starhunters ponder venturing to Elansory in search of the fallen star and how best to find the throat-oil from a dragon’s mouth. With those two reagents they might fashion an ‘artefact’ that A’Kelah theorizes could rescue them all. Alternatively, Leonidas and Perren discuss with their companions the benefits and costs of going many, many leagues to the east to find the elven Godking of Minegoth in his palace upon the great island of Aervalay. For the Godking can grant wishes and has the power to help them. What is more, A’Kelah still has one of the witch’s candles looted from the scene of the Night-twist tree. Just as they used a candle to rescue Damir, they could use this last one to take the body of Azdar, if indeed Hanezal possesses it.

It is this last prospect on which they settle. First, Aelish is granted the godly sight of Eladriel who sees into many places from her high seat in the sky. She scrys upon Azdar and sees the whole of Rynas from a perch high in firmament. This strange vision perplexes the Starhunters. Then she attempts to reach her voice out to Azdar—something she has never before tried—and curiously it is Fendrys who is party to the sound. Even though Eladriel can carry the voice of Aelish where she will, across the whole of the tapestry of the world—where ever Azdar might be—it is in Fendrys’ mind, just paces from her own, that the message arrives.

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In spite of all of this arcane confusion, still they use the candle. Azdar’s body is locked in an iron sarcophagus in the darkness of Carceri; the candle’s magic opens a portal to this sight. Then the power of the candle-gate tips the sarcophagus from its placement atop a high pillar, but A’Kelah holds it fast, levitating it with her magic. A demoness, like Hanezal, with many arms and a serpent’s body in place of legs appears to stop the theft. The demon teleports through the gateway (arriving right behind Fendrys), eliding a magic trap lain for it by Aelish around the mouth of the gate. Fendrys’ prowess is enough to hold all six sword-wielding arms at bay, but he is no match for the constriction of the snake-tail around his body. A’Kelah darts inside the protected ground of Aelish’s magic circle to secure the body of Azdar. Leonidas rushes to Fendrys’ aid and rescues him with some teleportation magic of his own. The demoness summons a twin sister to lend six more hands against the Starhunters.

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The hellacious will and iron-hard skin of the two fiends is so mighty that most of the Starhunter’s magic fails utterly or is diminished. Even so, the Starhunters bring to bear all their might in steel and spell in a fierce battle. For the first time, with his faith absolute (for he knows it will mean his death), Damir invokes the holy power of Eladriel and he charges, his sword aglow. The radiance of Eladriel’s glory sears the flesh of the fiends and in retribution they kill the knight where he stands. Aelish then falls in battle beside her love and it looks as though she will die too. Aodh also is being crushed to death in a snake-coil. All could be lost, but again it is Leonidas who saves Aelish from a coup de grace while Fendrys, Perren and A’Kelah finish off the fiendish viper-women. At death their terrible naked bodies crumble to ash, leaving behind only their wicked blades and the strange gold bangles that had adorned their twelve arms.

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Sessions 49 & 50
The Temple of Hours

A second raiding party of ‘gold tongue’ orcs, a coastal fishing people from Rynas’ deep past, easily track the Starhunters through the snow. This warband is thrice the number of the Starhunters. No doubt they have been sent for revenge, after the melee instigated by Perren resolved with survivors to tell the tale. The orcs, brave and bloodthirsty though they are, underestimate their foe. The Starhunters make shallow graves of stones and snow for their lifeless enemies. Their search for the lawstone near Ibeadra goes on—a search complicated by the matter of Ibeadra not existing yet for another thirteen hundred years.

Several more days pass. Embo waxes. During rests, Aelish and Damir can be heard to make the sound of two lovers sighing. The orcs set aside their tribal differences. They muster a force of many dozens of their warriors to confront the dangerous elves and humans that have killed their kin with such great magics. Meanwhile A’Kelah’s arcane geometry at last locates the likely location of the lawstone a half-mile away from the coast, atop a seamount. A shallow isthmus connects the coast to the seamount when the tide is out. During those searching hours the orcs pinpoint their own target. Rather than stand and fight, rather than turn the mighty Rod of Rulership against the horde, the Starhunters make a mad dash against the rising tide. They elude the orcs and their wolves, though they freeze half to death racing atop the sand. The seamount is clearly a place the ‘gold tongue people’ fear to go; they relent in their chase.

With numb, weary legs and brine-splattered faces the Starhunters arrive at ‘The Temple of Hours’. The temple is home to strange, gangrel creatures. They are tatterdemalion pygmies that lope like monkeys and use only one enormous eye for seeing the things no other can see. The creatures speak in riddles, tell tales of the written future, and bargain their secrets for a taste of magic power on their saurian tongues. Fendrys uses the powerful rod to charm—at least one of—the creatures. It makes for an obsequious if enigmatic guide. It is allowed to eat the collar from ‘round Perren’s neck which restores his memory!

As the temple is explored, they see their bodies made old and then younger again before their eyes. They spring a sand-trap meant to protect a strange altar. They find a book unwritten and broken hourglasses. Many of the temple’s mysteries remain unclear. At length the Starhunters decide to use their power with magic, flying to an inaccessible chamber, to unlock the temple’s greatest secret. The entire edifice is a colossal sundial and by the action of a massive golden orb can time itself be altered to set the dial.

As the dial is set, the play of sunlight and moonlight spurs Aelish’s curse; A’Kelah uses her witchery to pacify the were-raven (giving her the shape of a harmless rabbit). The movement along the dial also summons the temple’s great guardians, Aermoh and his dragon Iendroth. These beings are majestic titans born of the storm that rages in the afternever. They are the Get of the Traveler, cold, aloof, and far-seeing.

The Starhunters know they are far afield of the universe they once knew. The powerful, destiny-altering lattice of enchantments that binds the nine lawstones of Corinth’s Meridian together has marooned them all in the past when the magic on the stones was new or even yet to be. So Fendrys parleys with Aermoh and tells him of their plight. The giant explains that if they have no offering for the stone, they cannot traverse time as ‘the one who built this place once did’. Inscribed on the stone are the names and birth years of each royal consort of Rynas.

Lacking an ‘offering’, the giant says the body of the ‘Lord Pariah’ would also satisfy the magic of the lawstone. The Starhunters know the artifact meant for Aermoh’s stone exists in the future. And Azdar, ‘the Lord Pariah’s’ body, if it exists at all, may also be in the future inside the tomb they all saw while in the Reaper King’s dismal care.

At the end of their rope, the group decides to seek answers to their quandary elsewhere. They use the power gained from Carceri’s lawstone to traverse space instead of time. They elect for the capital-stone to settle, once and for all, A’Kelah’s theory that a lawstone in fact exists there. Indeed it does. The stone at the capital stands in an underground chamber over a sacrificial pit that is waist-deep with gore and flies and putrescence. About the stone are stone jars marked with the names of Huyaba’s fire witches: Gharr, Maartje, Kzen, Quelustu, Svetogaz, Anžhel, Yfkess, Dvhenna and Ruzlu. The jars for Maartje and Svetogaz appear recently opened.

Leonidas finds an altar dedicated to Hanezal in an alcove, steals a dagger from it, and then all the Starhunters leave the horrid place before they are discovered by who ever might lurk nearby. This time they elect for Imia, the lawstone where their journey began. At Imia they find a sacred grove and standing stones. Many years from now, it is fated that a crackpot dragon-worshiper named Rothwar ‘Whitearm’ will hire men to dig up these stones. These same Starhunters find those men and do battle with them. But these are ancient days, when the menhirs of Imia still stand proud. The Starhunters wash themselves in a cold stream. Nearby they observe an encampment of simple human-folk wearing wool and doeskins. The Starhunters leave them be and attempt to travel space again at the Imia Lawstone. The Ether-stone. They try for Samrispol, the Star-stone, the final spoke of the wheel. An incorruptible force bars their passage. They try again, aiming this time for Arsam, the lawstone they ever have missed. A similar force at the other end prevents their bodies from translocating, but their minds altogether contact ‘the moon presence’ that lingers there. Damir and Perren remain behind to keep watch.

The Starhunters partake of a shared dream in an underground pool with Dark Aelish at the center. She reads their minds. They read ‘her’s’. Both parties come away with stolen secrets from this astral congress. The Starhunters steal the following secrets:

1 .The ‘Moon Presence’ considers Azdar to be a man that has gone astray from his proper bounds. And it sees the Starhunters alike to him in this regard.

2. Artifacts for the Meridian can be created with two reagents: meteoric iron and oil from a dragon’s throat.

3. When all the artifacts are fused into the Lawstones (and a ‘dragon’ is ritually slain), the actor of said ritual will be able to command fate.

4. The legacy spell at the moment has no controller, no actor.

5.The ‘Moon Presence’ has noticed this absence and seeks to become said controller/actor.

Communing with the entity or entities at Arsam drives all but Aelish into a berserk fugue. Aodh and A’Kelah and Leonidas take up arms against Aelish. Fendrys crudely attempts suicide. Aelish and Damir run in terror. Perren looks on in shock and dismay.

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Session 48
The Sun and the Sea

As Fendrys took the heads of Svetogaz and Maartje, Aelish smote the primeval Night-twist tree with a stroke of flame from on high. The midnight sky parted above at her beckoning. Heavenly fire issued in a column and ignited the blood-gorged heartwood of the tree. As the trunk and burls burned, Fendrys was left to contemplate the absence of the tree’s dryad. The stench of boiling blood and oaken cinders was carried far on the wind. Then the Starhunters trundled from the scene clothed in the foul garments of slave-giants. After them, a chorus of the meaner creatures of the world arrived to moan at the roasting blood and branches.

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A’Kelah and Leonidas urged their fellows to increase the distance between their company and that of the fell tree. With the bonfire’s glare still on the horizon, Eladriel spoke to Aelish, using the grim, chapped mouth of disembodied Svetogaz. The Arch-Principle was quiet and sought solitude, taking with her the torpid body of her brother. While Aelish prayed, while the others hid in the dark, using their power to shelter from Syfrine’s chill, one of the Reaper King’s rat-men agents slipped away during the night. His tale since has fallen from memory. Aodh spoke a while with the other and found him churlish and craven.

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Aodh found Aelish in solitude and dolorous vigil beside her brother. His body was still and cold as the snow it lay upon. The halfling was contrite and apologetic. He rued their erstwhile quarrel. Aelish, burdened with Elected secrets, was still grieving over the Words of Eladriel. In sadness she told the halfling what must be done. He vowed her vigil would not finish in solitude. And so the Arch-Principle draughted a circle around the body of her brother the prince. In the circle she inscribed the names of angels—the binding stars—who protect the children of men from the evils of Gnost, from the madness of Fire, the jealousy of the Earth, the envy of the Water, and the reckless Air.

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On the dawning after that darkest day, Yuri arose and spoke his final word before his final death. His word was the name of Aelish, in bewilderment and suffering. Then his dead-living flesh was commuted to ash by the caress of Yair’s bright face. The ashes of Yuri Samarkov were carried forth to mingle on the wind with those of the tree his accursed blood helped to foster. No other in the company mourned for Yuri but were instead gladdened to hear of his riddance.

Westward, sea-bound they went upon the Trail of Stars, early in the Age, when large and dire animals still made the lesser creatures hide and Elven seedsongs still encouraged the trees to grow tall. Surefooted Fendrys, ever wary of giants and the ploys of his own kin guided them away from nettles and under fallen trees. He followed the stars while A’Kelah walked beside him in thought. They trod under aspen and poplar and fir, over the dew-bent grass and past the lichen-splashed stones. Then A’Kelah asked them to stop and hear her speak.

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The sorceress veer told the Arch-Principle of a way she knew to rescue the imprisoned knight Sir Damir using a dark candle of the Fire Witch’s craft. Aelish was so wroth at the knight’s suffering that not even her spite and mistrust of Huyaba’s magic could keep her from enacting a redemption so offered. A’Kelah lit the witch’s candle with a snap of her fingers. The light of the candle revealed to them Damir in his chains in a place outside the world, where the stars if any there are, shine different. Leonidas and Aodh, each nimble and rash, freed the knight from his chains and carried him into the world. Damir was weakened and confused from his ill treatment, and his wounds and torment hung heavy on Aelish too until the grace of Eladriel restored them both. The love of Aelish and Damir, once hidden away and trammeled by impossible distance and curses, then began to wax and brighten like Embo above. No obstacle could stand between the cleric and her knight.

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For three more days they walked until Fendrys tasted salt on the air and Aelish heard the cries of the gulls. The loam at their feet gave way to sand and they approached great boulders by the sea at the edge of the land. They saw a storm on the sea that was not of Gan’s or Thannith’s making. Wandering further they came upon some of the Gold Tongue orcs and their flock of sheep. Perren, hating the race of orcs, bravely stepped forward to upbraid them. The Starhunters joined Perren in battle and together they slew the orcs. Leonidas and A’Kelah struck them dead with their magic. Perren, Fendrys, and Aodh cut them and bashed them with their steel. Fendrys cautioned them all not to overspend their wrath in killing those who had not taken up arms against their company. So they quit the scene without marauding the herd.

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Sessions 46 & 47
The Old Blood

Before leaving ‘The Shadow Over Elansory’, the Starhunters are shown the tomb of Azdar Ig-hazaret Usa Kalar. Tales of this man linger on, despite his absence. Aelish fears though, he may yet have cheated death somehow, having escaped into the body of her astral double. Whatever his fate, the ‘grey cardinal’ of yesteryear helped the Grand Usher Pavel (and the Prince of Samarkov) to solidify a power base in the aftermath of the catastrophic War of Broken Branches. Yuri tells Aelish of the long dead vizier’s magic being used to help Pavel resurrect the recovered bones of mighty Corinth with the animating spirit of the lamentable Royal Providence Agrafena Dragomov.

Now the ghastly, terrific vision of Corinth’s bones circles the capital routinely like a fugitive kite, grim and colossal. Arcs of lightning can be seen even at a distance jumping between the dagger-sized teeth of the dead-living dragon. Poor Fenya’s very soul is manifested in the undying embers that burn within the immense skull’s eye sockets. All this and more the Starhunters are left to contemplate at the tomb of the vizier. They blame themselves for this terrible future. Unable to find the capital’s Lawstone, if it even exists, and too scared of angering Pavel in a true search for it, they instead seek a better destiny elsewhere. And the Reaper King benignly allows them to go.


They take the Celestial Road toward Ibeadra in search of the Lawstone there. Indeed, A’Kelah reminds them all the obelisk there is next along the Meridian’s ‘path’. However, soon after departing the capital, Aelish lets it be known she has asked her brother, Yuri Valentin Rylov, Duke of Samarkov to join them on their journey to the next Lawstone. A curse is upon the duke that grants him a life beyond death, but in a way unlike those of the driftless, returned dead ruled by Pavel. Or so Yuri claims. Fendrys and Aodh strenuously oppose traveling with Yuri, for he is an ally of the Reaper King, an enemy of the living. A’Kelah and Leonidas also call it a fool’s plan. Moreover they accuse the Arch-Principle of an outright betrayal for not consulting them in this first, and so soon after her willful behavior brought them to Elansory’s empty graves. Aelish counters, saying it was their own choices that drove them after her—and thus their own responsibility for the consequences.

Ultimately at an emotional impasse, Aelish is unswayed by all their protestations against trusting Yuri. The debate reaches a fever pitch until Aodh fires his crossbow at her defenseless back. A were-raven like her is unharmed by such a conventional weapon, but the rift in the group is complete. This time she is abandoned to her choice. Aelish goes her own way, to meet her brother at the now destroyed Mostimor Bridge over the Striton. Yuri and Aelish reminisce and learn about the past and each other’s curse. The scions of Samarkov walk side by side in a dark future, both of them monsters.


Each group heads for Ibeadra, but Fendrys, Aodh, Leonidas and A’Kelah have a head start over the scions. On their venture through the tense lands of the living that border Elansory’s shadow, the four Starhunters keep a low profile. They are wary of Pavel’s agents, of their lot as cast-outs from their own lost time, and all the usual tricks and dangers that face itinerants in foreign lands. Not far from Bullris they come to a strange shimmering curtain of powerful magic. The shimmer is subtle, like the dancing mirage over a fire, but it towers before them like a wall. Crossing it sends them lost again in time. Not long after, Aelish and her brother approach the same shimmer. They too become lost. It grows darker. It begins to snow. Yuri vanishes.

Hours ago, having crossed the strange shimmer, the four Starhunters met unwittingly with Svetogaz, Gharr, Maartje, Quelustu, and Kzen. They came to the mortal women and found them in a stone monastery tending to their gardens and making soup. The Starhunters do not know that these are the women they will later (or have already?) disturbed from their graves under a giant buried tortoise shell, leagues from this place. Yet they are uneasy with their practices and do not linger in their company.


Young Maartje rushes out to give them a morsel for their road ahead. But she ages before their eyes as Aelish and her brother are drawn to this place. The stars wheel in the sky. The recondite history of the witches unfolds, Years pass normally for those unaffected by the Meridian’s magic. In those years, a half-orc—the Saint of Bullris—who stood against the enemies of Eladriel, whose mind was glimpsed from beyond, whose blood had touched a blasphemous and prophesied darkness, whose hand had clutched the seedling of the future, came to the land of Svetogaz and her sisters. The witches overpowered and captured him as was shown to them by the Watcher in Flames. The saint’s congregation was killed, scattered, and enslaved. The stalwart Paladin Rinnebert and his loyal guardians were no match for the Fire of Huyaba and the giants who fear it.

The great power of Fate, the very ‘magic’ wielded by the gods courses through the Meridian. The Starhunters learn that Oran Dragomov’s circle has a will all its own. Three thousands years prior to any of their births they have come to a winter solstice night. The daughters of Huyaba, the ancient fire-witches of legend have staked Yuri, vampire, creature of the night to a blackened oak tree. Rinnebert too is lashed to that tree. Their blood is drawn within and intermingles inside the deep roots while the druid women chant their hymns of shadow and flame.


Realizing what has befallen her brother, Aelish frantically approaches the rite at the tree. Meanwhile a battle erupts with the other Starhunters against the giants guarding the scene (whereupon Perren goes missing). At the signs of this disruption, some of the witches assume the form of huge wasps and fly off into the night carrying satchels with them as they go. The rest remain and hurl their spells of fire at the intruders while their giants hurl stones. Aelish is nearly subdued, but she is rescued by Leonidas who braves a bed of snakes to free her from a magic snare. The sorcery of A’Kelah and her powerful staff buys Fendrys and Aodh the time they need to finish off all but Maartje. Fendrys taunts his foes, speaking the chthonic tongue of the giants back at them as his arrows fly. And here Aodh exacts a strange revenge against Svetogaz, the now living woman whose unliving shadow will later almost kill him in a future he has already lived.

With the arcane melee all but won, Fendrys attempts to use the magic of his commanding scepter in an effort to enforce a peace with the lone survivor Maartje, but it somehow fails against her. So the ranger cuts her down amid her defiance; she does not go without a fight. He takes the heads of Svetogaz and Maartje in a vain attempt to avert a fate that has already transpired. Aelish hurriedly works to unpin her brother from his gruesome state. Wheezing and still half-panicked from their injuries, from the chaotic blasts of dueling magic, the Starhunters barely have time to argue or make amends or even a determination about what has transpired here. They take Yuri’s body away. Aelish explains he can still be saved. ‘He was already dead when they did this to him’.


They find Perren who has tracked down two rat-men agents of the Reaper King while ducking the danger of the battle with the witches. They were sent to follow them and it seems these men too were hapless victims of the Meridian’s power. Then Yuri assumes the form of a mist and glides over to one of the rat-men, catching him unawares. His scream pierces the night as Yuri makes a hapless victim of him one last time.

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Session 45
The Reaper King

During the brief interlude in the quaint university town of Hinturnal, A’Kelah and Leonidas offer donations to said university. In exchange, they gain access to its libraries and alchemical laboratories. A’Kelah continues her work toward a cure for Aelish’s curse—going so far as to coax a willing sample of blood from the Arch-Principle herself. A’Kelah also makes exploratory efforts toward making enchantments or potions from her collection of reagents (she has various beast eyes suspended in alcohol, the mind-altering venom of the terrible spider from Imia, dragon scales uncovered in Lost Lokken, and the oily black sap of Imia’s Night-twist tree to name a few).

Leonidas pours over history books in search of lore and tales of the Starhunters in the course of the 75 years they have lost since Carceri. He digs up old records of the trial they faced at the hands of the Duke of Vercetin. He comes across (what are ‘attested’, by so called scholars, as apocryphal) stories of their exploits at the Pyrebreeze volcano. Most tell varying accounts of an angelic intervention, a battle against either demons, a dragon, or a demonic dragon. They all result in the death and disappearance of the Starhunters despite an angelic victory over the ‘flaming evil’ there. Leonidas finds mention of the opera written about the Starhunters and reference to a chapel being built in their honor. The bard also spends his time researching what lore he can regarding old elven tales; the animal totems of Gwyrl Ardun.


Aodh rubs shoulders in the taverns where young, precocious university students swill their ale. He meets with the man Zhiglov again to discuss what a venture to Arsam might mean and how he could supposedly help. Fendrys speaks with locals too, learning more of the ‘Laughing Plague’ and the activity of the goblins north of the new capital, Encer.

Then Aelish gathers her companions to her for a private meeting. She lets it be known she was contacted by an old acquaintance, the Velan Usher, Pavel ‘Grim-grin’. With her consent, Pavel has already sent an envoy—from the graveyard that is Elansory—to them in Hinturnal. It will arrive in a matter of days. The other Starhunters are very cross with this idea. Only Perren signs on to go with Aelish to Elansory, calling the idea ‘too daring to pass up’. After a heated debate, they agree to at least wait for the envoy and observe it, if nothing else. Jaina has resolved to go to Encer in light of this. Tariq too calls this folly and refuses to be a part of the plan.


When the envoy arrives, Margrave Hendrik of course learns of it first. One Baroness Eloska—in a blood-stained linen overcoat—attended by a masked astrologer and armored, speechless ‘men’, request for the Starhunters. The disappointed Hendrik issues an ultimatum: go now in exile with these villains of the dark country or else be escorted to Encer forthwith to face the judgement of the Fulcrum and the Queen. Aelish and Perren walk out to the baroness. A’Kelah, remembering Aelish’s sacrificial bravery on her behalf against the vortex of the Mindwitness, soon joins the Arch-Principle.

The convivial bond of the Starhunters is nearly broken at this moment. Fendrys and Aodh and Leonidas seriously consider abandoning Aelish and the others to the clutches of the Reaper King; they think she has gone mad in her zealotry. Instead, they resolve to shadow the envoy and follow them westward in secret. Aodh and Leonidas get up to their old tricks, using the bard’s magic and the halfling’s conventional diversions to steal a pair of horses from a nearby stable. Fendrys dodges the catchpoles at the gate and is helped on to the frightened horses as they make their escape. Hendrik, wishing to avert any bloodshed, spits curses at them as they go—but orders his men to stand aside. He declares them exiles and enemies, should they dare show their faces here again.


The envoy swiftly takes A’Kelah and Aelish to Pavel ‘Grim-Grin’, known also as ‘the Reaper King’. He wears a pallid, plaster deathmask and the Iron Dragomov Crown of Rynas. He is flanked by fallen imperial lancers, now death knights with flickering embers for eyes. The ancient fire witches of Huyaba, Gharr and Maartje, stirred from their slumber by the Starhunters at the giants’ burial mound are his ghastly chancellors. Aelish demands to see the Lawstone of Elansory. The Reaper King stalls and asks her to speak first of ‘what he has lost’ since their reappearance.

Meanwhile the agents of the Reaper King, a pair of vampire maidens, find Fendrys, Aodh and Leonidas sheltering in their magic redoubt. They knock with their knuckles and call out to talk. Being unanswered, the vampires raise the stakes and slay one of the stolen horses. Fendrys reaches for his bow but fumbles in the dark. Aodh is slow to put on his night-seeing goggles as well. Leonidas cancels his shelter and blasts the girls with fire from his fingertips. Taking the form of bats, the girls fly off into the night despite arrows loosed at them by Fendrys and Aodh. These same vampire maidens interrupt Aelish and A’Kelah’s audience with the Reaper King to decry their dreadful treatment at the hands of the half-elven bard. The Reaper King commands Aelish to warn her friends to be civil in his domain or else he can make no assurance of their safety. Then he sends them away to spend the rest of the night with Aelish’s brother Yuri Valentin Rylov, Duke of Samarkov.


Yuri, now a vampire as well (and sire of Aelish’s former handmaids Karen and Yulia) greets his sister with mistrust. He begs them not to enter his house so armed. A’Kelah, having none of that, sleeps in the River Striton instead. Aelish is up late into the night talking of the strange and wondrous and terrible times they have faced as prince and princess of Samarkov. He tells her that the kemik Gage gave him the crown many years ago—hoping he could pass it on to her—and that during the tumult of the war, in the face of so much death, the crown fell into Pavel’s hands and he wears it still. Meanwhile Aodh and Leonidas and Fendrys arrive at the outskirts of the city and face a standoff against a grim legion the Reaper King’s undead warriors.

The following day the Starhunters reunite and meet again with the Reaper King. Aelish once more demands they be taken to the Lawstone. In exchange, Pavel would have her re-summon the succubus Małgorzata into the world of men. She refuses and is furthermore baffled as to why he would ask this of her. Aelish then confesses the power of the Meridian has caused them all to travel time and that in the decades since their last meeting, only months have passed for the Starhunters. Pavel grows pensive at hearing this and he decides he would take them to the Lawstone, if one of them remains behind ‘as his plaything’. The Starhunters of course refuse this grisly offer.

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Session 44
Jamais Vu

The handiwork of the mysterious and long-deceased stone mason interred on Goriseld’s isle prevents ready access to the teleportation circle uncovered by the bard Leonidas. Using her powerful magic (and the magic of the powerful staff), A’Kelah is able to float the bodies of the magi skyward into a hole in the roof of the tower. However, limitations of these powers require her to take only those who need to go in; namely Saffron, Odo, Steffan, Solveg, Aurelius, the siblings Ekemon and Millicent, Nikola, and Lord Almdor. The veer sorceress is gone for hours, much longer than is ‘arcanely’ necessary to open the portal that escorts her charges to the private Dragomov sanctum on the other side of the world.

The rest of the Starhunters, along with Perren, Jaina, and Tariq (who have elected to stay behind and journey also to Arsam) wait for A’Kelah in the decrepit monastery where they have dwelt now for the better part of a week. At last, the veer does return, alone, having whisked away the magi with the circle’s magic, as Almdor instructed she could. So she claims.The Starhunters are eager to be rid of the dead wizard’s isle and its trolls, the ominous lake which girdles it, and the remote loneliness of the dripping, indifferent wilderness environs. Their destination is a place unknown to them, but they have descriptions from Dark Aelish (and the crumbling map of Rothwar) to go on. They venture south; Fendrys plots a course over the old dwarven Ancestor Road, until the Holy Road can be found where east they will go until they find the strange valley of flumes described by Aelish’s twin. They trek over moraines and skirt around kettle lakes, traversing the land they once saw as the birds see it, from the deck of Perren’s Swiftlight. As before, their magic chaperons them over the broad rivers, feeds them, and keeps the worst of the exhaustion at bay. Both Fendrys and Aelish get strange premonitions and whispers of disquiet from the fearful animals. The beasts tell of fiendish stirrings when they cross the half-buried flagstones of the Ancestor Road.

With the road and its devil’s footprints behind them, Embo waxes in the night sky. On schedule, Aelish is moonstruck and overcome by her curse. She departs the group to spare them her terrors. She has half-remembered visions of stalking human prey before fleeing their torches and brandished farming tools. On the third night of Aelish’s transformations, she renders unto Fendrys the mighty scepter of command found in Goriseld’s tomb. The Arch-Principle, exasperated, instructs the ranger to use this forceful item of rulership against her, its current owner. Her gambit succeeds, the scepter’s magic is enough to contain her bestial rage and Aelish-the-Raven poses no harm for two consecutive nights.

Soon after Aelish’s moon-madness they meet with the Holy Road. Although they were hoping to arrive east of Hinturnal, they are instead due west of the town. They make way for its gates to restock and prepare for the second leg of their journey. They are met with extreme suspicion by guards who fire warning arrows at their approach, they say ‘only the dead come this way’. Aelish is having none of this treatment. She demonstrates her Elected status with a miracle of daylight to the awestruck guardsmen. In kind, they summon an Elected of their own, the local Margrave called Hendrik, a paladin oath-sworn to Myrnoch. He uses his own power to command the truth from Aelish and, satisfied, he invites them to tell their tale at his citadel. Aodh slinks away and blends into the human settlement as is his way. Perren has too much wine and spouts off about his long lost brother and something about a hammer. They all learn the current year to be AL 8444 but none in the company, not even Aelish betray their status as ones adrift out-of-time.

Aelish and Jaina are contracted by Hendrik to minister to the needs of populace while they remain at his household. Local personages, having heard the rumors about two Arch-Guardians and a pair of half-elves in town, seek audience with the Starhunters. An Eladric prelate of the local pantheon named Eva has a tale out of Encer. She tells Jaina and Aelish about a Knight of the White Feather named Sir Rinnebert who went missing three years ago. Eva asks them if they knew of him or his whereabouts. An explorer and self-styled ‘goblin-hunter’ by the name Zhiglov presents himself as a guide to the lands around Arsam. A magus named Enezesku takes an interest in them as well. An elderly man, he is the head of Hinturnal’s university and Hendrik’s chamberlain. The Starhunters are summoned before Margarve Hendrik, Enezesku, and the local Athemist Justiciar Oran for an important meeting.

But first, in private discourse with her companions, the Arch-Principle makes it known she has been in ‘holy contact’ with another lost Knight of the White Feather, Sir Damir. She is resolute upon using the power of the Meridian in a plan to rescue him from isolation and suffering in Hanezal’s prison realm of ‘Carceri’. Perren is enamored of the daring and heroic risk this poses; he tells Aelish he supports and will be at her side. Fendrys has unsettled vengeance for the fiends of that realm and he also agrees to go. A’Kelah too, remembering the presence of the Lurker there, has a need to return. Tariq, tugging nervously at his iron collar, calls this plan ‘madness’. Jaina, bereft of her memory as Perren’s confidant, is distraught and she must pray for Eladriel’s guidance on the matter. Aodh and Leonidas both squirm at the thought of such a plan.

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Session 43
Deep Speak

The distressing words of Prince Yuri Samarkov refer to his ‘many sins’. He is convinced his sister haunts him with her remote visitations from beyond the grave. He entreats her to come home, to show herself if it be true that she is returned and alive. Aelish does not wish to go home. During Aelish’s meditations and prayers, Leonidas takes it upon himself to further explore Goriseld’s tower. He uses his magic to gain entry to places hidden by the dead mason’s handiwork—just as he had done to enter the buried shell at the grave-mound of the giants.

The curious bard uncovers the old laboratory of the magus, packed away neatly for long-term storage. Hidden under an old rug, he also finds a mystic circle, a great arcane sigil used by the Wise to translocate themselves to far corners of Lakmyr and beyond. Such magic is a vestige of the once mighty Fallen World which, like mending honey and other wonders, has been uncovered by the sages of this era.

A’Kelah makes it known she will venture into the deep center of the lake and fulfill her promise to Goriseld. Meanwhile, Fendrys and Aodh learn that due to their affliction from the trolls, they are able to breathe the lakewater just as a veer like A’Kelah can. Because of this, the ranger and the rogue both elect to follow A’Kelah and put their water-breathing condition to a full test. Kohano (among the former prisoners set free by the Starhunters), being a veer herself, also agrees to come along. Deep down, more than 1,000 feet to the bottom they find a massive old tree as Goriseld had told. Clutched under the roots of said tree is a piece of amber the size of a boulder. Encased inside the amber is a large, aquatic thing with tentacles. The magic lights of the divers alert the creature; its many eyes open and lock with A’Kelah’s gaze. She goes limp a moment.

Both of the veer, Kohano and A’Kelah, swim closer to the amber stone. Suddenly Kohano’s life is extinguished before their eyes; snuffed out like a candle. Aodh and Fendrys look on in confusion and horror. A’Kelah reaches inside the amber, which becomes pliant yet gelid at her touch. She removes the encased creature’s ‘jeweled brain’ and takes it with her back to the surface. A’Kelah explains that Kohano made a choice to commune with the beast down there, just as she had—but that Kohano was too frail and she succumbed to the rigors of the union.

Examination of the jeweled brain reveals that that the trolls must have had been poisoned by this thing deep in the lake. The many intelligent and magically inclined persons on the isle, work together with Goriseld’s old laboratory tools. They are able, with time, to use the bizarre organ to brew a potion that can cure the afflicted Aodh and Fendrys. As six days elapse in the labor to find the cure, Aelish prepares for more and greater miracles. Her despondent mood is gone. The Arch-Principle receives a vision of the Dragomov throne room in Meppollin Palace. Undead sentinels guard the throne, symbols of Vela pervade the scene. The palace is falling into ruin and disrepair and myriad dead spiders litter the floor like so much ash from a fire.

The Starhunters and the freed magi begin to talk of their next steps and what is to be done about the teleportation circle found in Goriseld’s tower. Aelish wants very much to use the Meridian to travel time and undo the things they all have seen here in this strange and doomed future. Almdor calls that uttermost folly. When shown, Lord Almdor teaches A’Kelah how to use the teleportation circle (its magic is beyond Leonidas’ grasp). The secrets of these circles are jealously guarded secrets and the Wise do not give them up easily. Almdor gives her a choice of learning a connecting the sigil for either the University in Elansory or a private Dragomov Sanctum in the Great Archipelago (where once he tutored a young Oksana). The veer opts for the latter. It is decided that Almdor will go to the sanctum—indefinitely perhaps—with the rest of the magi save for Perren, Jaina, and Tariq. Those three will join the Starhunters in a venture to the monastery at Arsam. There they hope to find answers. And the lawstone spoken of by Dark Aelish—who is still missing since the strange event that drove her away.

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Sessions 41 & 42
Mooncradle Lake

The great inestimable power of the Meridian has, in accordance with the collective will of the Starhunters, translocated all of them. They arrive to the isle of the wizard known as ‘Goriseld’ on Mooncradle Lake. They will soon determine that although they have traveled space by incredible mystic speed and accuracy, the calendar year (of A.L. 8369) they all knew as their shared reality has been swept away. A grave marker discovered on the isle reveals that at least as much as a few years have passed; it is feared considerably more years than that are gone too.

All but Sir Damir escaped from the prison realm of Carceri. The Starhunters have a baker’s dozen of other captive magi—once imprisoned by the vizier Azdar—now in their charge. Among these are none other than the august personage of the Lord Marquis Dessan Almdor and his protégé Kohano, the veer. The half-elven treasure hunter Perren Sparrowhawk and his companion, the elected guardian Jaina Mulongo from Myhtan are there too. Also in the company of the freed prisoners are two adherents of Myriath’s cult, the siblings Ekemon and Millicent.

The others are either promising University students or hapless foreign attaches from places like Dicia and Bravere. Their names are Tariq, Saffron, Odo, Steffan, Solveg, Aurelius, and Nikola. Every last one of them, it is presumed, was considered dangerous by the vizier and locked away in the terrible domain of the six-armed demoness Hanezal. All of the freed magi sport iron collars around their necks which prevent the will-working of their magic. Gone too are their memories; only Almdor (and to a lesser extent Perren) have their identities intact. Azdar stole their memories, but he had difficulty with the long lives of the elven folk, to hear Almdor tell it.

The misty isle, stepped on to from outside of space by the Starhunters, is abandoned and quiet from all but nature’s hum. Aelish retreats to deep and sustained prayer, being sorely grief stricken by the absence of Damir. She fears the loyal knight dead. Elsewhere, around the ivy-covered ruin of Goriseld’s ancient monastery Fendrys finds monstrous giant tracks that he warns the others about. A few such creatures, he can tell, last left the isle heading south quite recently. The magi prisoners are suffering from a state of privation; they lack proper attire and are in need of nourishment. They wash in the lake and the Starhunters spare them their rations. Leonidas attempts to use his magic chime to break the enchantment on their iron collars, but to no avail.

Almost immediately after the test of the chime, the gathered prisoners seem to lose hold of their senses and begin chanting an incantation in eerie concert. Aodh feels a stirring in his soul from something that has hung over him ever since the touch of the buried skull gave him a brush with death. Terrified at what this means, the halfling wills away this sense of dread to Fendrys (by dint of the power he acquired at Imris). Aelish too feels the same dread stirring within her. Thus, as the prisoner’s chanting mounts, the cleric and the ranger are both treated to a vision—a vision of Azdar speaking to Goriseld in this very room—while energy is sapped from their bodies. The energy flows directly into Dark Aelish and she cries out, “Oh no, Lesha! They have tricked me!”

Dark Aelish turns invisible and flees the chanting circle. Aodh tosses ball bearings to try to trip her up but he is too slow and misses his mark. Aelish chases after her twin. A’Kelah goes on the defensive, wary of danger and more tricks. Leonidas does his best to calm down the scared and confused prisoners. Fendrys, deeply shaken by what he has seen and experienced, broods by the lakeshore.

Aodh and Aelish seek the dark twin elsewhere on the isle. They find her, and Aelish gets in a few words with her, but only briefly before more trickery and illusions causes her to vanish for good once more. At this point, Aodh convinces the others to go along with his plan of drugging the collared magi with his sleeping draught. This should buy them all time to freely consider their options, he claims. Without Fendrys around to overrule the plan, the other exhausted Starhunters relent and attempt to help Aodh execute his plan. Magi, even those who cannot cast their magic, are a clever lot however. The plan is bungled and, upon discovery, the magi are outraged by this treatment.

To add distance from the angry prisoners, the Starhunters busy themselves with breaking into Goriseld’s old tower while Fendrys continues his solipsism. Leonidas dispels protective runes on the door. Inside the tower they find a simple sarcophagus containing the body of the wizard Goriseld himself. He was laid to rest upon a heap of treasure and books, outfitted in a magic rob and clutching a pair of magic staves. A’Kelah plunders the robe and spell-staff from the mummified body. The second staff, a rod that commands obedience, is prudently given to Aelish. As night comes, the Starhunters retire, with A’Kelah and Kohano seeking watery solace in the lake. Two giants, nasty trolls arrive with the down. The stomping of their wet, webbed feet rouses Aodh during his watch. The fire and miracles and arrows of the Starhunters kill one troll and drive the second away. During the melee, both Aodh and Fendrys are poisoned by the trolls fangs. They are quickly overcome with a sickness that makes them thirsty and dry; their skin goes clear and scaley. Only immersion in the lakewater keeps them safe from utter desiccation.

So many competing wills on the isle make the gathering fractious and temperamental. A’Kelah wants to fulfill her promise to Goriseld and investigate an ancient tree deep in the center of the lake. Aodh wants to further explore the rest of the tower. Others are desperate to leave the isle, but heading where? East to Arsam? North back into the mountains? South to the Capital? Aelish can try to restore Fendrys and Aodh to health, but first she reaches out in prayer three times seeking answers. Every response she receives is ominous.

Aelish calls out to Lukiria Vanator, but there is no answer; the Prosecutor is dead.

Aelish calls out to her Royal Providence, Agrafena Dragomov. The reply is an unintelligible dragon’s roar.

Aelish calls out to her brother Yuri, Duke of Samarkov. He responds! But his words distress her…

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Session 40
Hanezal

A’Kelah is to be under the bard’s spell until she sleeps it off. At Leonidas’ urging, the Starhunters retreat from the area of the sluice chamber he saw while scouting ahead. They next head for a dim orange light up ahead, though the corridor where it comes from is blocked by a heavy iron portcullis. The little halfling can squeeze through the bars of the gate with aplomb, however. He puts on his magic goggles (which reveal the darkness, plain as day) and scouts ahead. Beyond the gate, the sources of light are far still, emitting from around corners at the end of a long hall. Aodh notices he is being observed by smokey imps that hide in the shadows overhead. Aodh decides to double back, fearing he will get separated. One of the imps brazenly glides forth into a nearby corner to get an even better look at the halfling. Aodh can tell the creature does not realize he can see it and so he takes this opportunity to dispatch it with a thrown dagger; right between the eyes. The rest of the imps offer a hissing chorus of laughter—perhaps at the folly of their hapless brother. Aodh scrambles back through the gate and convinces his companions to head another way.

Even though A’Kelah has begun using her firechalk to mark their progress, the Starhunters soon after begin to feel overwhelmed and lost by the Carceri maze. Rather than wander aimlessly, the bard’s idea to return to the old fire-tender is agreed upon as their best course of action. It seems as though the walls and corridors of the place have changed since they first moved through it. They find their way to the fire and the strange old man beside it, but Leonidas is certain its location has moved somehow. The bard attempts to pose as the ‘Lord Pariah’ the fire-tender first called him, claiming he has ‘more prisoners’.

The fire-tender plunges his long, thin staff into the ever-burning fire of his ornate, grand cauldron. A shadow demon arrives, rising from inside the fire like a stage-actor from a trap door. It is Agdayne and his arms glitter with bronze bangles. His eyes are the cold motes of a remorseless, eternal being. The Starhunters parley with the demon. The demon offers to take them to ‘the Extremity’, allowing them to leave at no peril, all in exchange for Leonidas’ strange spider-jar. The Starhunters fall to a debate as to what to do. Agdayne displays patience for their ‘feeble, mortal’ conference, knowing that captives here are unable to escape once they enter. He vows to return when they have reached a union. When he does, A’Kelah has recovered her senses from the bard’s charm—but she offers no recrimination. Yet.

But first, the Starhunters plot. Aelish is confidant Eladriel will allow her to trap and bind the shadow demon Agdayne. Its arrival from inside the cauldron makes it an easy target for a circle of power. She posits that perhaps even Hanezal—whom they all suspect awaits at the Extremity—can instead be bound in a similar manner. In the end, this plan is considered too risky. They decide to be taken to the Extremity and face whatever is there, treating with Hanezal if they must. Agdayne arrives as promised and happily takes them forth through the maze when they agree to make the trade. The Extremity is a wondrous place under an upended pyramid from which issue lava-falls, down into a dark lake. Intense steam rises from the elemental admixture. There amidst the steam, coiled around the obelisk is the demoness Hanezal that has hectored them along the path of the Meridian.

She is lust and horror made incarnate. With a serpent’s body in place of legs and six arms, the nude abomination parades before them all. This is a creature that could only exist here in a place outside of places. Squamous demonic brutes arrive to attend her as ceremonial guards. She demands the spider-jar; in exchange they are free to go. The Starhunters deepen the bargain and ask for the other prisoners held here as well. Hanezal complies and Agdayne sees it done.

During the parley, Leonidas acts with such temerity that he attempts to fool the demoness with his illusions—but his magic is not powerful enough to make a convincing fake of the jar. Lucky for him, she is none the wiser. So the bard surrenders the true jar at Hanezal’s ultimate insistence. The prisoners are brought forth; Almdor, Perren, Jaina, and Kohano are among them. Leonidas gives Fendrys a wry smile, expecting here and now another deadly melee of spells and blades to commence. But all at once the Starhunters oblige Hanezal with Damir dutifully following Aelish’s lead. Hanezal snatches up the jar greedily. As her many hands begin to worry over the item in a frenzy, the gathered mortals rush to the obelisk to make their escape. Hanezal has kept her word and they step away from this place much in the same way they came—via the Meridian’s space-bending magic.

The power the Starhunters wield combined with the power of the Extremity, is such that they may, at this hour, translocate anywhere on Em. It is a joint decision, made in haste and spurred by a mystic confluence of thoughts and intents. They focus on a safe place, familiar to all of them. They elect to retreat to Goriseld’s lake. As they do so, Hanezal’s many hands unlock the ‘jar’, which looks more and more like a puzzle-box the longer she touches it. Spiders issue with unceasing constancy from the openings she makes. The roving black swarms race along her manifold arms and are in the process of enrobing her quivering, euphoric body. This is the last thing the mortals see before their retreat.

They tread again upon the living soil of Em. The isle of Goriseld’s lake is misty and cool. Fendrys is shaken by what he has seen, by what has transpired. He places the golden ring entrusted to him on his finger. Through his will, the magic of the ring undoes the opening of Hanezal’s puzzle-box “forever”. Aelish, when Fendrys admits what he has done, is overjoyed at the righteous sacrifice of his decision. She embraces him. In the chaos induced by the teleportation magic, from shepherding so many disoriented and weakened prisoners, they do not yet realize Sir Damir Galkin, brave Knight of the White Feather, has gone missing.

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Session 38 & 39
Wandering Stars

In deep prayer, the now Arch-Principle Aelish communes with Eladriel and receives the goddess’ oracular wisdom regarding her ‘dark’ twin. Aelish translates this divine message to her confidants and explains how she has interpreted it. The Arch-Principle concludes that her twin, who first stepped out of the astral plane at Leonidas’ coaxing, has no soul. Furthermore, a soul can be granted to her, by the sacred intervention of the angel Levesath—and that A’Kelah’s help is somehow required. The veer sorceress is dubious of this affirmation and would like more information. Alas, the gods speak in portents and enigmas only.

The Khalkazsh men take the Starhunters, and most of the cohort, to the boundary of what they call zapret na zemlyu, the ‘Forbidden Land’, ‘for whom, it is reserved’. Marfa and Lililivren remain behind, encamped with the horses, some miles away. On a high ridge, shamanic poles topped with painted oxen skulls—like masks the monsters wear—warn of the danger ahead. A vast and ancient bridge, one of Em’s many colossal monuments from the Fallen World, runs arrow-straight for miles over a barren badlands. The bridge terminates at the trunk of a gargantuan stone tree in the haze-smudged distance.

Dark Aelish asks of Fendrys, “Which path should we take, the bridge or the land below?” The ranger knows, even from here that this place is home to giants and their terrible kin. He elects to take the company along the bridge, high above any giants they might encounter.

At mid-afternoon, miles along the stone causeway and hundreds of feet above ground is when Leonidas bellows out a howl of the great grey wolf spirit. In response, there is a magnificent screeching. A giant owl has found them and spirals down, riding the vortex of the wind. The creature, with feathers like birch bark, alights on the bridge ahead of them. A pair of elven queens, one dark, one light, appear in the saucer-like eyes of the bird. The queens, in synchronicity, call out for their ‘child’ in the primordial speech of the fey. Vallon approaches without apprehension, begging away both Fendrys and Leonidas. Vallon appears to hear the queens a moment further, as they talk on. Suddenly her sword rushes from her scabbard, a beam of sunlight flashes off the blade. Vallon slays the bird with one deep thrust into its gullet. The elf has already spun on her heels before the owl has had time to fall from the bridge.

Glassy-eyed and blank-faced, Vallon springs at the bard with preternatural grace and power. She and her blood-soaked sword enter a frenzy, cutting and thrusting at Leonidas’ neck. In his scramble to defend himself, Vallon’s sword pulls his rapier from its scabbard before his hand can even reach for it. It is tossed aside to join the falling owl. In concert with this shocking event, an alien Mind Witness, a horror of the Illithid, squeezes forth from the surface of the mirror held on the Orban, the dwarf’s, back. Vilmos and Orban had been in the rear of the company working to expose the mirror’s surface. Each of them has also gone mute and treads like a husk.

A’Kelah enters flight with her magic, but Vallon’s sword slices into her too and she loses hold of her spell. The veer falls. A pair of tentacled, many-legged panther beasts, denizens of the astral realm, leap from a tear in space opened by the Mind Witness. Dark Aelish screams at her twin in terror and grief—and then vanishes from sight. A tense battle ensues, but Aelish protects her comrades while they stand firm against this ambush. Leonidas, being cut to ribbons by Vallon, restrains her with his magic rope. Aodh and Damir make a valiant stand against the panther beasts. The brave halfling fells the Mind Witness with his flaming hammer. Damir, with great reluctance, kills Vilmos before his magic can blast Aelish from the bridge. Orban is shot dead by Fendrys. More arrows from the ranger finish off the astral panthers. During this pell-mell skirmish, A’Kelah returns, flying once more, having saved herself from a deadly fall with her magic. Rising above the scene, she blasts beast and cohort alike with bolts of lightning and storms of hailstones.

Amidst all this magic and bloodletting behind him, Leonidas takes his chance while he can. With Vallon wrapped up in his rope, the bard leaps from the bridge and drags the swordmaster along with him. He aims to follow in A’Kelah’s example and relocate himself with his magic before time runs out. His magic is slower and more sophisticated than hers, however. He fumbles the incantation in his terror. Dark Aelish reappears on the bridge, screaming after Vallon—helplessly watching the elf and the bard plummet and become small. Far down at the ground, there is a flash of light in report of Leonidas’ successful spell—that he cast just a few yards above the hard ground. The half-elf, and all of his momentum, are transported high above, within the bridge’s undercarriage. His body breaks at the impact and he begins to die.

Seeing the Arch-Principle so grief stricken, A’Kelah extends her flying magic to include Aelish. Aelish then swoops down, not as a raven, but as a woman enchanted, to rescue the fallen. Aelish finds Leonidas hidden below the deck of the bridge, and through her, the mercy of Eladriel pulls him back from the brink. Leonidas rights himself, and relocates back to the bridge deck, still in a daze. Far down below, her miracles also save Vallon from death, but the elf enters the legendary ‘deep slumber’ of her kind due to the trauma. What can wake her is now a riddle for the ages.

In the aftermath of the battle on the bridge, Aelish and A’Kelah go some miles and hide Vallon’s body in one of the massive snail shells that litter the Forbidden Land. A cold, rainy night out of shelter is spent on the bridge by the others. Dark Aelish stays alone and apart, and will take awhile to shed her grief. That same evening within the snail shell in the land below, A’Kelah and Aelish have a close brush-up against a curious giant which sniffs them out. Its hairy, gnarled arm reaches into the shell, but the creature wanders off into the night when it feels nothing inside.

The Starhunters interrogate Dark Aelish once more. They are furious at this betrayal, but she is obstinate and resigned, swearing to either come along as their prisoner or die at their justice here and now. Dark Aelish attests (truthfully) to having no knowledge of the madness of the Mind Witness. They all press on along the bridge for the stone tree of Kalir, leaving the bodies of Vilmos and Orban behind. Dark Aelish walks as their shameful, lonely prisoner.

Another of the land’s great snail shells is found, this one like a burr on the stone tree, at the end of the bridge, where a doorway of sorts is formed in the shell’s spiral. Through that passage they go, being turned literally upside-down on their way. Within the inner chamber of the tree is an eight-spoked walkway leading to as many doors. The sky is at their feet and above is a blackness of darkness forever. Blocking one of the doors, a gaunt, starving giant sits amidst its own filth in a cage built at a scale to house it. Fendrys and Lenodias speak a while with the giant, though the half-elf dares to get too close and is grabbed and bitten by the creature. Ultimately, they decide to use the magic of the mirror to trap the giant. Proceeding through its cage, they use the mirror to enter a reflection-dimension of this strange place. In the reflection, a statue of Hanezal is coiled atop a broad spiral staircase which leads down, down into the blackness of darkness forever.

Down and down they go into a silent darkness. A lightless place. They corkscrew beside a single column of stone, on a staircase coiled around it like a snake, which hangs in this darkness. Beyond, out where their light is swallowed away, is an infinity into which all sound vanishes. The silence grows so oppressive that their footfalls deafen. They hear not just their own breathing, but the sticky blood gushing inside their bodies. Their hearts thrum like thunder and in some, it causes panic. Leonidas nearly falls face forward into the void when the stairs before him eventually cease.

Once again, A’Kelah’s great powers of flight afford progress against an obstacle that would prove too much for lesser persons. Her magic of flight transports the entire company down into the realm of Carceri. They meet an old, blindfolded, orc-blooded man standing next to a cauldron of fire and a hill of bones. He calls Leonidas ‘Lord Pariah’ and asks after ‘more prisoners’. Wary of the old man, the Starhunters wander off into the wending madness of this prison-realm, following their ears toward a steady sound which echoes and resounds amid stone archways and hanging chains.

The sound leads to a chamber of rushing water that Leonidas finds (scouting ahead). The water falls into a sluice where despicable, diseased creatures devour every piece of flotsam and jetsam caught there like pigeons fighting over breadcrumbs. A’Kelah feels the presence of the Lurker tug on her in this place and she steps forward to investigate. The bard however, is so appalled by what he has seen that he uses his magic to charm and cajole her away.

PROGRESS Aelish Aodh A’Kelah Fendrys Leonidas
TOTAL XP 66575 64766 65226 66776 66801
Session 37 4000 4000 4200 4000 4500
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