The Heir to Disaster

Sessions 5 & 6
When You Wish Upon A Star

Not long after Marquis Almdor is led away by Sir Kalag and the inquisitors, a second knight arrives at Ormuster. Unlike Kalag, this knight is in service to Prince Yuri Samarkov, Aelish’s brother. Almdor had the foresight to summon this man, Sir Graff several days ago. Alexei Graff is an old childhood friend of Aelish’s; the two are surprised and charmed to be meeting again after so long—and under such strange circumstances. It is curious how their lives have changed in the fifteen years hence. Sir Graff, as an agent of Prince Yuri, is keen to hear from Fendrys any news of Aelish and her travels. Yuri wants Aelish back at court. Those who command the blessing of a god are not easily dissuaded from their goals, however, and Graff learns what Fendrys already has; Aelish will go where she wishes. Who has the temerity to an coax an Arch-Guardian away from her goals?

With the pleasantries of the two nobles aside, the situation with Rothwar is explained to Graff. He accepts the news gravely and decides he will have a cage-cart purpose built for his endeavor to Encer. The party, wishing to spare no more time, leaves early the next morning, but not before Aodh and Leonidas fetch the bequest Almdor had entrusted. Their road is east, to Aletan where they will join the Upperthrone Guideway and head north. With Ormuster behind them, the road grows less and less wild. Overgrown hedgerows give way to sturdier and sturdier fences. Weed strewn meadows and fallen mile markers turn to freshly planted fields and white-washed trees. On the way, atop a hillock, a collection of ancient road-side shrines are found. It is an unusual conclave of many statues, Athemay, Eladriel, Eurserel, Gan, Myriath, Myrnoch, and Nephogar hold out their hands for offerings. Aelish leaves a token offering of a gold coin and one of her notes from Fenya, adding a prayer for her safety.

At a hamlet outside Aletan, the party comes across a spring festival celebrating the goddess Rana, youngest daughter of Rimanay. The villagers have prepared a feast and they dance and sing and eat and drink late into the evening. Everyone is welcomed with open arms. Fast friends are made. Even the outsiders like A’Kelah and Aodh are treated with warmth and respect. Despite the revelry, the party is early to bed and early to rise. Aelish spares a day to offer confirmation to a young man before moving on.

Once in Aletan proper, while staying at the Cloudgoat Inn, the group is approached by a messenger who sends word of a Prosecutor and three Athemist clerics in town looking for some itinerants matching the group’s description. A quick discussion follows about what to do next. A’Kelah and Leonidas, both unregistered magi, waste no time in making a hasty exit to escape Aletan entirely. Aelish is also cautious, but less so, taking Fendrys with her to bide time in the local Pantheon while Aodh investigates—first as a spy and then as a spokesperson. The halfling finds the bureaucrats cooling their heels in Aletan’s civic hall, but when eavesdropping proves futile, he presents himself. A heated discussion follows as the Prosecutor and the urchin trade ultimatums; the former insists he must speak with the group, in private, about highly sensitive matters. The Prosecutor, threatening arrest of the halfling, decides instead he will invite himself and his three clerics to the inn where they expect the rest of the group will eventually return.

Back at the Cloudgoat, Aodh, seeing no hope in a plan on getting the Prosecutor drunk, simply gives him the slip, using his small stature and streetwise to exit onto the street. He dashes back to the Pantheon where he encounters Aelish and Fendrys just exiting, both worried over what has taken so long. Aodh does not trust the Prosecutor and his ‘good news on offer’, and thus convinces his friends to leave Aletan as quickly and inconspicuously as possible.

The group is now divided, though A’Kelah and Leonidas eventually find each other, north of town, along the Upperthrone. Something unknown and unspoken soon tips off Leonidas to the same suspicion Aodh sensed. With everyone keeping a low profile, avoiding the thoroughfare of the Guideway, a journey north to Pallenever is made. That evening, a bright flash in the sky is seen overnight—the fallen star of Myhta Petraea has made landfall!

In Pallenever, everything is amiss. The river has risen. Farmers chase stray animals and repair cracks in their plaster and fallen timbers. The great gate to the large city is abandoned—the city is eerily quite. The church bells go un-rung. Numerous smoke tails rise from the wrong places. There has been an earthquake. It is here, just inside the gate, that the group is rejoined under tense circumstances. The turmoil of the earthquake has engendered an Earth Elemental! The good people of Pallenever, those who haven’t fled the destruction, have taken to their roofs to avoid drawing the creature’s notice.

=== End of Session 5 ===

A daring escape, which sees Leonidas cross between the buildings of Pallenever’s main street—with an extended rope, as though it were a rushing river—is conducted. Everyone agrees to make a mad dash back to the gatehouse where hopefully the ramparts of the walls will offer security, assuming the elemental cannot climb stairs. This plan is a success, but the elemental gives chase and nearly smashes every bone in the bodies of Aodh and Leonidas. Worse for wear, but still alive, the party uses much of what remains of their rope to repel down over the walls, away from Pallenever and its turmoil.

North again, following the river, as a fisherman ferries them to the east bank, the group learns they are being tracked by mounted men with large hunting dogs. A bribe to the fisherman buys their safety for now, but the last has not been seen of these bounty hunters. Once on the east side of the mighty Striton, Fendrys has little trouble picking up the trail of the many persons in the area who must have flocked toward the fallen star. A collection of these curious men are found a few days from the river; they have armed themselves and jealously guard the blasted out crater they found which was made by the star. Their jealousy is spurred by strange and precious minerals that protrude all around the site of the crater. After the party assures the salvage diggers they are not here to loot the crater—they inform Fendrys that an astronomer from Pallenever, named Rustam came on behalf of the Duke of Vercetin. Rustam collected the fallen object and is surely taking it to Castle Oldecha, back west along the Striton.

On the way there, the bounty hunters are met again. They claim the authority of Prosecutor Beris Tanum, again asserting the need for the group to answer questions in the capital. A parley fails and a tense standoff leads to a melee when Aelish refuses to be deterred from her mission and Aodh fires the first arrow into their leader. The forest rings out with the sounds of a battle many times larger than it truly is. Reports from the firearms of the bounty hunters and the Thunderwaves of A’Kelah and Leonidas shake the leaves from their branches, sending wildlife away in a panic. Aelish blinds the leader of the thugs, but her good fortune (of escaping a magic prison cast at her) runs out when he then fells her with wild, blinded sword swings. With Aelish’s life in the balance, the thugs are fought off by spell and arrow alike—only two escape into the woods. The wounded are tended to and five horses of the bounty hunters are captured.

EXP
A’Kelah 1000
Aelish 1000
Aodh 1000
Fendrys 1000
Leonidas 1000

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Session 4
Corinth's Meridian

Rothwar is bound and kept near Aelish. A night spent at Rothwar’s camp reveals a changed forest the following morning. Leonidas can sense the Faerie realm pulling close; it is clear this land is forever changed by the magic unleashed at the Lawstone of Imia. The trees and vines have overgrown. Wild Oriss plant, flora usually only seen in the tropics of the Great Archipelago have appeared.

Fendrys picks a safer path back to Polther, away from the strange magics of the forest—the deadly plants and the ghouls they make. Before the town is reached, however, Rothwar, during one of his morning trances, seemingly summons a dread Basilisk from an old tree. Aelish can sense the divine presence of Vartusk at work. A pair of trees are also animated in protectorate service to the Basilisk. Its duty is to freeze Rothwar in stone for all time, the same fate that befell many of his cultists not so long ago. At first, A’Kelah and her Mirror Images prevent the creature from meeting Rothwar’s gaze so it turns its attention instead to Aelish. The priestess is nearly turned to stone herself, saved perhaps only by the grace of Eladriel. Fendrys, A’Kelah, and Leonidas sink arrows, spells, and sword points into the beast clumsily—while trying to avoid its burning eyes. Leonidas is nearly killed, his ribs and face smashed by swinging tree branches. During the fracas, Aodh, wishing to put a stop to this, pin-cushions Rothwar with his sidesword. One blow in particular is deep, gliding between ribs and puncturing both lungs. Rothwar heaps over, using his last gasps of blood-choked air to try to meet the Basilisk in the eyes. Aelish calls upon Eladriel to blind this monstrosity, however, and his efforts are in vain. With the petrifying gaze of the beast nullified by Eladriel’s mercy, it is slain and its tree guardians are halted by Rothwar’s halted breathing. Aelish is quickly able to save both Leonidas and Rothwar from an early death.

After this episode, what scant trust was given to Rothwar is gone and his gagged, half-dead body is dragged into Polther like the lowest form of criminal. The townsfolk are eager to establish that pious Aelish is indeed safe and also to learn as much as they can of the adventure that was had in the deep mountain woods. Leonidas regales all who will listen of the great deeds and daring-do the party accomplished while Aelish keeps a dutiful eye on Rothwar. Cold-hearted Aodh, unconcerned with simple country praise as a reward unto itself, cannot help but relieve these bumpkins of their meager coin instead. A’Kelah and Fendrys keep to themselves amidst so many strangers.

Soon, the road is taken up again, and the party marches south back to the Marquis Almdor to deliver news of Rothwar, of Corinth’s Meridian, an enticing letter from the Dwarves of Kathoom, and the strange occurrence of the orb. Almdor expresses regret that he involved Fendrys in this event, but is able to confirm much of the arcane findings that A’Kelah and Leonidas made while in Imia. With the stolen folio and the other notes before him, Almdor realizes that the orb represents an alien influence, unknowable by the bounds of mortal magic. He supposes that Corinth’s Meridian, the ancient mystic superstructure that has ever provided Rynas with dynastic stability is possibly being usurped in some way. It is presumed more orbs will appear, their locations predictable at half-way points between the capital and each corresponding Lawstone.

If A’Kelah’s sensations are on the mark, Myhta Petraea will activate next at the Full Moon. But first, its orb will fall in less than 10 days on the New Moon. At length, Lord Almdor’s page rushes in, interrupting the proceedings. “A knight is here with some men asking for you, Lord Marquis!”. With measured and deliberate focus, Almdor entrusts his most valuable books and papers to Leonidas and bids he and Aodh make haste to hide them at once. Soon after, a Knight of the Tiger, Sir Vitomir Kalag and three Tarimite Inquisitors arrive. They demand Almdor’s presence in the capital, asserting that the new Provost of the University needs to speak with him in regards to ‘recent events’. Almdor goes calmly and willingly, but not before reminding his allies that the new moon is only eight days away…

At this time, Aelish is torn. She wants desperately to fulfill the wishes of her abbess by escorting Rothwar Whitearm to the Holy Court in Encer where he can face judgement before the divine Reverands. However, she wants also to join in what Almdor indicated must surely be their collective destiny, a fate bound up in the magic of the Meridian itself. Following that path would draw her away from both Encer and Whitearm. Ultimately, she drafts a letter to Abbess Greyheart explaining her extraordinary situation and that she has called upon a favor with her brother, Prince Yuri Samarkov to ensure Rothwar’s route to Encer is secure while she seeks a larger plan, trusting in Eladriel to have made the righteous choice.

While drafting her letter, Aelish uncovers inside a keepsake box given to her by an old friend, a hastily scrawled note penned by a familiar hand. It is that of her fellow sister of the cloth, Her Royal Providence Agrafena Ysaninka Dragomov I. It seems ‘Fenya’ is in danger, ‘taken away’ by ‘men’. Aelish, in total shock and amazement to learn of this unknown sending property her keepsake possesses, attempts a return message, asking ‘where’ and if Fenya is safe.

EXP
A’Kelah 800
Aelish 800
Aodh 800
Fendrys 800
Leonidas 800

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Session 3
The News of Forever

Fendrys ceases to glow when the orb he once held is ripped from his grasp, pulled by some invisible force toward the Lawstone of Imia. In this moment, the birds in the trees and the beasts of the earth sense danger and they take flight. Wild, arcane energies are unleashed with the colision of the orb and the obelisk—all ferrous metal in the area not otherwise held fast soon follows, drawn violently toward the stone. A’Kelah, standing near the obelisk, ducks for cover as a torrent of hammers, nails, swords, and sundry other metal objects clang over her head. Rothwar and his accomplices scatter and flee, some of them taking refuge in nearby ponds. The wild energy surge waxes: time is distorted, the surrounding vegetation writhes and mutates, vines and mushrooms sprout, some of the shoots and grasses are converted to crystal, others explode into puffs of glittery magic gas. At the center of this mayhem, where the Lawstone was is a Fracture in the Veil of reality. A winged Shadow Demon attempts to manifest in this world and it is attended by five lesser Shadows; they rise up from the ground like death-oil overflown from a terrible well.

By some unknown quintessence and instinct, working in concert, Aelish, A’Kelah, Aodh, Fendrys, and Leonidas are able to surround the entity and force the Fracture closed, banishing it to its proper home. A frantic melee with the shadows ensues, with most present splashing through knee deep ponds. Aodh is brought to the brink of death by the enervating touch of a Shadow, surviving only because he is passed over for the ‘easier meal’ to be found in the form of Rothwar’s helpless mistress. Two of Rothwar’s other cultists, a mason and carpenter working on the site are also felled by the dark grasp of the Shadows. What survives of the rest of the cult, within earshot nearby in the forest, can be heard fleeing in terror. It is likely some of them approached the event with the orb, perhaps with caution, only close enough to see the chaos and death spiraling out of control at the scene.

When calm returns, when the marsh waters go still again, only the goons Max and Artur remain. Rothwar is nowhere to be found. Fendrys and Leonidas interrogate them, but come away with nothing from the shocked and frightened men. At Aelish’s suggestion, A’Kelah dives into the pond where Rothwar was last seen and there she discovers a hidden portal to an ancient cairn-like area beneath the Lawstone. Rothwar hides down there, amid more statues of dragon-men and giant, poisonous snakes.

Inside Rothwar’s pavilion the group finds the stolen folio and a good deal of other material: maps, journals, logbooks, and a letter from a dwarven envoy. Whitearm was also sitting on a ‘vigorous tasting’ potion, a magic scroll, and roughly 200 GP in silver coins. The dead are laid to rest, given their last rites by Aelish. Overnight, they examine the materials at hand and make many discoveries. The Lawstone is part of network of obelisks forming ‘Corinth’s Meridian‘, an ancient magic-superstructure built from the bones of the blue dragon Corinth whose death precipitated the founding of Rynas some 3,000 years ago by Oran Dragomov I. There are nine Lawstones in total, eight of which form a wheel with the central, ninth stone resting in the capital, Elansory. Each obelisk is tuned to a specific type of magic. They learn other clues as well, such as the orb falling half-way between Imia (the present location) and Elansory. The appearance of the orb coincided with the repair of the obelisk—something Rothwar and his cult were only able to accomplish with a Vartuskan ritual. Rothwar it seems, was consorting with a demon named ’Hanezal’ in order to learn his secrets. The dwarven letter is from the Dwarves of Kathoom and it is a document of state proclaiming that they have uncovered the remains of the late King of Rynas, Grygor XII as well as the Crown of Rynas. They would return these items to their neighbor and seek the best course of action.

With the overwhelming arcane mystery of Corinth’s Meridian before them, the group concludes they must return to Ormuster to meet with Almdor. A decision about how to get Rothwar before the Holy Court in Encer also must be also made.

EXP
(The discrepancy: extra was earned for killing the Giant Poisonous Snakes)
Aelish 500
A’Kelah 500
Aodh 400
Fendrys 500
Leonidas 400

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Session 2
The Lawstone

Before our investigators, sent forth by the University, could even let their guard down, more trouble arises. A’Kelah disturbs the felled ghoul corpse with her staff, unleashing the parasite within. Bursting from the slashed skin and gelatinized ribcage emerges a violet fungus, covered in the gore of the slain human host. Leonidas, Aodh, and A’Kelah are wounded terribly by the fungus’ writhing tentacles before the foul thing is hacked to bits and finally frozen to a shriveled mush by A’Kelah’s Chill Touch.

They press on, putting as much distance as they can between them and the site of the ghouls until night falls. The following day, they encounter the perhaps familiar scent of the fungus’ aroma, but without the underlying decay. Aodh scouts ahead, reporting sights of a lovely, picturesque meadow home to a number of strange dragon-men statues. The party decides to venture forth but expects trouble. Leonidas and A’Kelah become enamored of the intense floral scent, each pausing before large yellow blooms. Aodh busies himself gathering up religious offerings of gold and silver. Fendrys keeps a wary eye on the perimeter. Eventually Aelish grows worried for her companions and ushers everyone away from the place. As they make their ‘escape’ from the worrisome glade, hanging vines twist into strange effigies and attack! Fendrys is almost crushed to death by the constricting plants. One of the creatures is quickly cut apart while Leonidas is able to charm the one that seized Fendrys, rescuing him.

Once again, the party is eager to keep moving and leave danger behind them. The trail of the cult continues, crossing the claw-tracks of a large beast that also paid a visit to the floral meadow. Further and further north, the terrain descends into a lowland swamp of stony creeks and still, murky ponds. Aodh’s keen attention is first to discover the sound of voices ahead and again he scouts forward. The halfling finds the Whitearm cult, busy at work on a structure at the base of a strange obelisk. The group decides to have Aodh spy for a good while longer, to confirm their suspicions and gather more information. They resolve to spend the night, in secret, about a quarter of a mile away and to approach after daybreak which would surely rouse less caution and fear from the cult.

The dark night passes without trouble. With the sun up, Aodh and Fendrys stay back, while Aelish, Leonidas, and A’Kelah step forward to hail the workers. Rothwar himself appears from his capacious tent and parleys with Aelish. With everyone roused by the religious tension of Aelish and Rothwar testing each other, Aodh takes it upon himself to sneak into Rothwar’s tent. A’Kelah cannot help but look to the strange obelisk. Fendrys, called forth by Rothwar and Aelish in kind, approaches. With each step he takes, however, a brightening aura of blue-light enshrouds him. Something in his pack starts to thrum…

EXP
Note: The (50) XP in parentheses refers to that which was earned from dispatching the violet fungus; what spurred the growth to 2nd Level. You have all earned an additional 400 for the rest of the session. So, while it’s true you all got a total of 450 from the session, you’re only adding 400 more as of this writing. This will put everyone at 700 total.

Aelish (50) 400
A’kelah (50) 400
Aodh (50) 400
Fendrys (50) 400
Leonidas (50) 400

Errata
Maddie, I said “St. Volodine” last night when I should have said St. Volodina. That was an error that I heard you copy back to me a moment later, and I don’t want you thinking I changed the name ad hoc. The saint’s name is still Volodina. ‘Volodine’ is the eponymous term, much in the way Benedictine monks follow the way of Benedict. I apologize for the confusion, I was tired and muddled.

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Session 1
May We Die in the Forest

In the spring thaw, trouble is brewing in nearly all corners of Rynas. Armies muster, seeking to make new claims for their liege lords. Twenty years on, the sages—abandoned by the elder, Marquis Almdor—bicker and squabble over an ancient spell no one understands. Lawlessness and banditry are on the rise; even the old Guideways are not always safe. Most of the Elect have been called away to heal the wounds of soldiers ahead of the common folk.

Far in the north, where much of this trouble has not yet penetrated … A motley collection of persons representing various intertwined interests arrives in the village of Polther, known mostly for its brick works. For a few weeks now, this crew have been tracking rumors of a strange Vartuskan cult lead by one Rothwar Whitearm. The man has grown notorious in recent years, with many unusual and miraculous powers ascribed to him. He offers wealth to the worshipful, he promises brides to bachelors, and he promises that pleasing Vartusk will grant Rynas a ‘true’ Dragomov heir, one that will restore peace to the kingdom.

It seems the cult is heading along a sleepy northern road, gathering adherents and wealth—sometimes ill-gotten—along the way. News in Polther is the cult has trekked off into the wooded Selldust mountains of the northwest. If they go too far, they risk entering ‘haunted lands’, the feared domain of banshees, trolls, and Gods-know what else. None in Polther would dare follow them there and none can be sure why the new strangers in town would either.

The crude human tracks of some dozen or so presumed mystery cultists is easy for Fendrys to track into the mountains. In three days time, they lead directly into the claws of a ghoul! Its tongue unnaturally overgrown, the entire body poisoned by some despicable fungus. The foul creature buries its claws deep into Aodh’s ribs soon after he runs it through with his rapier. He is all but killed, only pulled back from the brink by the quick ministrations of Leonidas. Fortunately, Fendrys and Aelish bring the creature down with well placed arrows. Aodh’s pulse is back for now, but he is paralyzed. A’Kelah looks on, wary of what might be growing inside her halfling companion; the veer examines the ghoul corpse.

EXP
Aelish 250
A’Kelah 250
Aodh 250
Fendrys 250
Leonidas 250

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