The Compass Rose

Session 71 - Oct. 6/14
So long, and thanks for all the cheese...

Quintin, Rod, and Io arrive at the Tower of Stars in the Academy of the Stars’ Children. Several magi bar the way, claiming that the High Archmage is not to be disturbed. Rod introduces himself and points out that he is a very powerful swordsman and that Quintin should be admitted. Their captain sends one of the magi inside to give the message to Kurn, that Quintin is requesting admission into the tower. After several minutes, the guard returns, and Quintin is allowed in. Rod and Io leave the Academy to take on the Brindish army that is camped to the south.

Inside the tower, Quintin tells the High Archmage the tale of Moratu and how their group saved the world, yet had to sacrifice Ardia’s magic to do so. Kurn recalls that the Master Astronomer, Yolen, fled several days ago. Gralius Kurn speculates that he may have been in on the scheme with Moratu to fool them into believing that the exploding star was actually falling. The High Archmage regrets that he was fooled just as everyone else was. He thanks Quintin for their efforts, but says that the battle is not over. With the loss of magic, the walls of force that had protected the Academy grounds from the black powder kegs are gone. Nothing is there to stop an explosion from destroying the Academy and the surrounding neighbourhoods. For the moment, the Brindish are unaware that they are unprotected. Kurn asks Quintin to give the word to the nearby Ealduran forces that the Magi are ready for a charge on the Brindish lines.

Outside, Rod and Io find a detachment of Elduran soldiers and form a plan to have them and most of the party attack the Brindish encampment. By this time, Murad, Cendrik and many of the others have caught up to them. Quintin arrives and informs the commander that the Magi are ready. Rod sneaks off to the south to attack the Brindish leaders directly.

Rod makes it to the building that the Brindish are using as a headquarters and sneaks upstairs to the second floor. He finds the captain with two other officers. Rod bluffs his way over to the commander under the ruse that he is an ally assassin, with orders. As he leans forward to hand the orders to the captain, Rod stabs him with his poisoned dagger. The commander falls to the floor as Rod attacks the other two men. One of them goes down just as Rod makes for the window. Before reinforcements can arrive, he makes a daring escape out the window and sneaks away amidst the chaos. Once out of danger, Rod heads for the Queen’s Palace.

Meanwhile, the allies attack the Brindish lines, catching them unaware and routing them. Quintin disarms the black powder along the walls. As this is happening, they hear an explosion to the east. Smoke is rising from the area of the Queen’s Palace. Io offers to guard the powder kegs as the rest of the party runs toward the Palace.

Rod is able to use his rank to gain entry into the palace for the party and a group of about fifty soldiers bolster the Palace’s garrison. They find the outer wall to the southeast has been breached and Coorish are pouring in. They are bringing up cannon and large siege engines into the breach. The Party agrees to circle around and attack from behind and Rod will head straight for the siege engines through the mélée.

The party battles its way to the southern gate and, along with rallying Ealduran troops, defeat the Brindish army there, routing them. The Ealdurans push them to the river where they try to escape by boat. Over the following days and weeks, the Coorish forces are crushed and Llantry is liberated. The Queen, against her advisors’ pleas, refused to flee to the north during the siege and is there to preside over her capitol’s liberation.

Within several weeks, reports arrive about the southern Ealduran army, led by the new Duke Cahorn, that had marched south to confront the Brindish army. They routed the Brindish and managed to liberate Marakfell. The Queen’s Navy in the Bay of the Protector has bombarded the Sassimi army camped outside the walls of Wendgate. Within days, the Sassimi are scattered, sending them retreating to the south.

With the Coorish defeat, the CTL removes League Justice Rigo Ambron, who had overstayed his one-year term due to the war. He is replaced by Perl Jute of Caldy. The crown of Ealdur and the CTL negotiate a peace where all territories captured during the war are returned to their pre-war owners. The exceptions are Wendgate and Marakfell, which remain as free cities.

The Lettanni had taken some Eladuran territory south of the River Breev. With the Coorish defeated, the Ealdurans easily push the Lettanni out of Ealdur. Rod is called to a High Council meeting to vote on whether to continue the war with Lettan.

In the West Hanum Islands, Rolston Galfant gets the message from Murad about the real threat to their world. He leads an Ulgar scouting party to check for signs of the supposedly falling star. The above ground party of Ulgar, that had been guarding the entrance to the underground city, reports that a massive wind storm swept through the area a day earlier. After several days of scouring the area and observing the stars, Rolston is convinced that what Murad said is correct. The Ulgar find that the island of Ulawa, known to the Ealdurans as Jarith’s Island, has been swallowed up by the sea.

With Rolston’s report, The Ulgar elders, Fembe and Vula’a, command their army of warriors to the surface to retake their islands from the Lettanni and Gul. Within a few short months, all of the West Hanum Islands are liberated, with the exception of Toomiran and a few of the most northerly islands in the chain. The rest of the underground population of Ulgar and Lebreyans return to the surface.

A ceremony is held at the Queen’s Palace for the heroes of the war. The entire party is decorated and personally thanked by the Queen. She announces that an agreement has been reached with the Lettanni and that the war is over. At the celebration afterward, the young Duke Cahorn takes a liking to Fatima.

Sybil Athen, now recovered from her ordeal, explains how she was pursuing Sohrab and fell into the trap set by Moratu. She is happy that it is all over now and offers her help to Gralius Kurn with the casualties of the war. Sohrab is taken into custody by the Queen’s forces. His fate is to be determined.

Both the Churches of Galus and Fira are coming to terms with the new world without magic. Pascal and Arah help the Matriarch of the Church of Fira to rebuild Llantry’s southern city and aid its people. Bertom of Cuford travels to the south, with the Queen’s army, to help rebuild and protect the city of Marakfell. Gere Raimo stays in Llantry, in service with the Queen’s army, to help in the reconstruction of the city.

Not having much use with the pomp and ceremony, Io decides to exact her revenge on the former leader of the Children of Zepha, Yül Akafar. Reports indicate that he has fled to Burja, in the east of the CTL. She wants his head to present to her people.

Rod learns what happened to his family in Marakfell. It was his stepmother who arranged to have the gates opened for the Brindish army to occupy the city. The Brindish, on behalf of the House of Fenne, tried to force Rod’s father to direct his brother, Jestarein, to side with Duke Cahorn on the small council. When Rod’s father and brother refused to co-operate and perhaps because of a history of crossing the wrong people, they were killed. His brother Vergo was then put in irons and tortured to bring him around.

After Marakfell was liberated by the Queen’s army, Rod’s stepmother killed herself rather than be hanged for treason. Vergo was found in a rather sorry state. In the ensuing months, Vergo suggests that Rod continue to represent their house on the High Council, while he recovers and tends to some business in Marakfell. Rod, not trusting his brother, exposes his past dealings to the Queen, who strips Vergo of his lands and title, granting them to Rod. As the official Lord of House DeloSiren, Rod later has his brother Vergo “taken care of”. Rod’s half-sister Nelly comes to live with him in Llantry. Lord Waltin offers the hand of his daughter, Tanis, to Rod. After some thought, Rod accepts.

Quintin spends the months after the war getting to know the High Alchemist’s daughter, Vina. She is still mourning the loss of her father, but is happy to be spending her time with Quintin. Quintin’s family takes advantage of the Ealduran goodwill toward Zinova, who revolted against the League during the war, and strengthens their trading relationships in Llantry. Queen Elyn offers the title of Warden of the Great Forest to Quintin. He would be responsible for cataloguing the flora and fauna of the Great Forest of Ealdur and to protect its borders from poaching. Quintin happily accepts and is granted a staff of nearly fifty. He invites Vina to accompany him – she accepts.

The High Council of Ealdur sends a delegation to West Hanum to treat with the Ulgar. The people’s appetite for war is low, and the council is hoping to avert hostilities with the Ulgar. Murad is asked by the Queen to take part in the discussions. He agrees. And it is about time that he visits his home islands. Cendrik goes with him, hoping to find his privateer comrades.

In Princeton, Murad meets with the Ulgar elders. Rolston Galfant is also present. The Ulgar do not wish war with the Ealdurans. They offer to grant them autonomy in Princeton, to operate the port, on the condition that they recognize the sovereignty of the Ulgar nation over the West Hanum Islands. The fate of the other Ealduran towns in West Hanum will be discussed in future talks. With Murad’s help, the talks are successful.

Rolston updates Rod on his people. They will be allowed to live autonomously, under the protection of the Ulgar. The Labreyans will need some help to heal the rifts between the group that was under Ealduran sway and those that stayed with the Ulgar. Rolston says that a hidden population of about four hundred Labreyans was found on the island of Athlell, when it was liberated from the Lettanni. Murad offers his assistance to bring all of his people back together.

According to Rolston, the priest, Elrew, has returned to Princeton and is helping the displaced Labreyans re-settle. Rolston bids his farewell to Murad. Rolston says that he must return to Ealdur – he has business in Llantry to attend to.

Murad receives word that The Walrus has been harrying the Lettanni fleet over that past few months and is due to arrive in Princeton in three days. Excited, Murad decides to pass the time by meeting with his people.

Sota and Ita tell Murad the tale of what happened to their people after he left. Taipa was keeping their camp hidden with magic for months, until one day, he told them that he could no longer protect them and that they should flee to the south. He said that he had to leave them. They haven’t seen him since. Two days later, the Gul found their people in the jungle and, after abusing them, marched them off to a camp just north of Princeton. A few weeks later, they were liberated by the Ulgar. Murad offers his help to re-settle them and to help the various Labreyan populations to come together as one people.

In town, Murad finds Alurha and Aeric staying in Rod’s estate manor. He meets their 3 month old baby son. He has two names, an Ealduran one and a Labreyan one. His Ealduran name is Rod and his Labreyan one is Murad. He is happy to learn this and promises to inform Rod. Murad also agrees, on Rod’s behalf, to allow their family to remain in the estate as long as they like. Alurha tells Murad about the unusual birthmark on the sole of their son’s left foot. Murad looks to see a mark shaped like a sea turtle. He recalls that his people regard such rare things as signs of a re-incarnation. As he thinks longer, Murad remembers how his master, Matahi, had mentioned his previous lives to him in passing. Murad thought nothing of it at the time. And his former master did carry a symbol of a sea turtle, that Murad had found recently. He wonders…

While in Princeton, Murad notices a familiar crow, perched on a rooftop. He is sure that it is Taipa’s friend Koko. Before he can approach it, it flies off.

When The Walrus arrives in Princeton harbour, Murad swims out to great them. He runs to Maddy to embrace her. He notices a slight bulge at her belly. He looks into her eyes and she smiles knowingly. She says that the baby is his and that she is due in about four months. Murad says that he knows that it’s his and that he’s delighted. Maddy hints that she would like them to be married by their people and that she would like it if he asked her to go to live on one of the remote islands with him. Murad wholeheartedly agrees and the arrangements are made. After the wedding, Cendrik is gifted with The Walrus. He sails them to their new home.

Rolston arrives in Llantry. He meets Fatima at the House Cahorn estate. He learns that she is to be wed to the young Duke. Rolston is very happy for her, but with sadness, he asks if she received his “gift”. She takes out the coin on a chain that she had given to her mother as a gift those many years ago. She says that Murad gave it to her and said that he, Rolston, had asked him to do so. She is puzzled as to why Rolston had her mother’s gift.

With a heavy heart, Rolston explains that her mother died many months ago. She had been with him when agents of the Children of Zepha tried to kill him. She died trying to protect him. He wanted to tell Fatima the news right away, but was commanded by the High Archmage not to, so as not to endanger his mission in West Hanum. He was torn as to whether or not to defy his orders and tell her anyway. In retrospect, he wishes that he had told her. Fatima, holds his hand and says that she understands why he did not. Her only regret is that her mother cannot be there for the wedding. Fatima asks Rolston to give her away at the wedding and he happily consents.

Rolston asks Fatima if she remembers the day that they met, when he caught her trying to steal his pouch. She chuckles, embarrassed and apologetic for what she had done. Rolston says that they did not meet by chance. He was tasked by the Stars’ Children to find her, as they already knew of the talent that she possessed. Recalling the story that Ilio told them in the Labreyan ruins, she is not surprised. Rolston tells her that, after the wedding, he plans to retire to Menia, where he will keep a small farm. She is happy for him.

The High Archmage requests Cornelius’ presence at the Tower of Stars. Navin, the new High Alchemist, Tacitus, and Archmage Celia Heqar are present. Gralius Kurn announces that the organization of the Stars’ Children is now, officially, dissolved. He asks Cornelius, being one of the oldest members, to help him to catalogue their dead so that their bodies can be returned to their families. Cornelius agrees to help.

As Cornelius is leaving, Kurn informs him that his brother has asked after him, and is waiting to meet him at an inn in the harbour district. Cornelius recalls having no living brothers. He is a little curious and confused. He decides to go and meet this fellow.

At the inn, Cornelius is greeted by a slight man, with light colouring and pointed ears. He is an elf. He introduces himself as Hilinor, Cornelius’ half-brother. He says that their father left, with Cornelius’ mother, for the Elven lands in Kayemba some seventy years earlier. His mother died some time ago. Cornelius’ father remarried and had Hilinor. Their father is in old age and likely only has a few years of life remaining. He has asked that Cornelius come to live with him in his final years. Cornelius says that, once his work for Gralius Kurn is done, he will go with his brother to the Elven lands. As Hilinor departs for now, he says to Cornelius: “Father says, of course, that you may bring with you as much cheese as you like.” Cornelius smiles.

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Session 70 - Oct. 2/14
Now, it all makes sense...

The wights search Rod and attack the triceratops. Murad spots a small creature entering the domed ceiling, which he believes it to be a wizard’s familiar. The triceratops begin to trample the wights killing them, causing the one holding the Token of Fira to drop it. Moratu tries to stun Murad with Power Word Stun but is unsuccessful. Eeva, the witch, begins to cast Summon Monster IX.

Murad moves to use Heal on Arah, who then burst heals, bringing Bertom back from the edge of death. Bertom then heals himself and begins to attack one of the skeletons. Moratu casts Horrid Wilting again but the party seems to only take minor damage from it.

Just then, three Elder Earth Elementals appear from the witch’s spell. She casts another Horrid Wilting. Arah casts Destruction on the witch. She screams in horror, as she crumbles to dust. With the witch dead, the sleep curses on Rod and Fatima break and they awaken.

Fatima awakens and blasts the familiar, as Rod gains his footing and heals himself with a potion. Moratu tries to Disintegrate Murad but fails to kill him. Moratu’s anger and frustration seems to grow. With the witch dead, the Elementals are not certain what to do – one attacks one of the wights and the other two decide to leave. Murad casts Sunbeam on the lich, causing him to shreak in pain.

Rod, upset that he is missing his rings, runs and jumps up on the back of the dragon. He attacks the lich, who is flying just above the dragon. Moratu, badly damaged, flies down toward the pit. Rod continues to pummel the dragon. Realizing that it is close to death, the great beast attempts to escape. It flies up toward the ceiling, and crashes through. It damages itself and causes stone to rain down onto the party below. Rod, uses the dragon’s body as a shield and dodges the damage. He is able to remain clinging to the dragon’s back.

Just above the pit, Moratu cries out: “You may have thwarted part of my plan, but I shall have my revenge!” With great speed, he flies down, head first, into the pit.

Fatima runs over to Bertom and says: “You look like a strong fighter” and casts Fly on him to go after the lich. Bertom flies down the hole after the lich. Arah hits the dragon with Cone of Cold. With a great blow from Rod’s flaming sword, the dragon is killed. The dragon falling, Rod gracefully jumps off its back before the monster crashes down into the pit.

Murad, Rod, and Arah have a tugging feeling pulling them to the small weapon that seems to have fallen off the lich before he dove down into the pit. At this point, Murad notices that his Token of Zuar is no longer functioning. But it seems to be pulling itself toward the small metal hammer lying on the floor, that Murad now picks up. Arah and Rod notice the same thing with their respective tokens.

As their owners meet, the three tokens pull away, joining the hammer, which Fatima knows to be the Token of Galus. In Murad’s hands, the four tokens merge into a single form – that of a softly glowing yellow-white orb.

Bertom keeps flying down the pitch-black pit, passing through areas of cold into extreme heat. At the bottom, the pit opens into a cavern. Below him is a massive field of lava. Searching for Moratu, Bertom sees a small dot heading toward the lava. He believes this to be Moratu. Then, the dot disappears into the lava. Suddenly, the lava heaves, sending forth massive bubbles of gas. A wave of magic washes over Bertom. He sees that the bubbles surround him and are rising up the pit.

Arah resurrects Quintin. They see the gas bubbles spewing from the pit. The group quickly grabs all of the unconscious or dead bodies of their allies and hides inside the wardrobe lab.

At this point, everyone, including the dead characters, has a vision.

Cornelius

A woman with a kind face looks down at you affectionately as she wraps the last piece of cheese that you were promised. You are comforted to recall that it is your mother. Rather suddenly, her expression changes to one of fear as you hear a knock at the door. She holds you tightly. A slight man with delicate, noble features – your father – stands near to you. With a look of regret, he answers the door.

Standing there is a tall man with a cropped beard. He looks at you with penetrating eyes. Your own eyes are drawn to a thin, silver ring on his left hand. It has an almost frightening darkness to it. The man turns his gaze to your father, who nods. Your father takes your hand and brings you to the man. As you hear the sobs of your mother, your father looks to her and says: “I am sorry, we cannot take him with us. It has been agreed upon long ago”. With that, the bearded man clasps your hands with both of his and leads you away.

Fatima

As you are packing up the last of your meagre possessions, you hear the voice of your mother, returned. You heed her call and greet her at the door. She gives you a big hug. There is a tear in her eye. She wipes it away and tells you to gather all of your things – it’s time to go.

You remember now that you made something for your mother, so she will not forget you when you are away at the strange school. You take the small coin on its cord and show your mother. She is clearly touched. “I don’t need anything to remind me of you, my sweet. But I love you for it.” She kisses you lightly on the forehead and takes your gift.

You see something hanging loosely from her neck. It is a dark jewel, almost like a piece of metal, attached to a silver chain. There is something both strange and fascinating about it. But before you can ask your mother, she tugs on your arm – “Hurry! We must find the kind man again before the others find us.”

Iolanthe

Your master kicks you to the ground. “No, like this!” He takes your knife, lying beside you, and shows you the slash that you had intended to make. It cuts a small red line in your thigh. Still towering above you, your instructor tosses the knife at your feet and walks away.

Trying to hide the tears, you scramble to your feet and run home. As you make for the door to the hut, your mother calls out to you, catching your arm. “Iolanthe, what is the matter?” You keep your head bowed so she won’t see the redness in your eyes. That is weakness to the orcs. She takes your chin and lifts it, her eyes probing, but strangely warm. She looks at the blood on your leg and gives a knowing smile. “I see that Uzgal has given you a lesson. He will not like that you ran from him. But he knows that half your blood is human.”

Your mother releases your arm and takes hold of your hands. Examining them, she says: ‘You will be strong. But you’ll need a lighter touch. Your father is a kind man, but perhaps you have been with him too long.’ She takes the small axe hanging from her belt. Palming it, she says: “Until you are more accustomed to our ways, I will teach you how to defend yourself.” Your eyes transfix to the fine metal sheen of the weapon, its near blackness. Your mother opens the door to the hut and you go inside.

Rod

In a strange way, the priest’s droning seems to dull the pain just a little. It almost seems that your mother was giving you a warm scolding, in the way that only she could, this very day. But, of course, that is far from the truth. You try to smother the same feeling of being punched in your belly that you felt when your father gave you the news. The family’s physician had told your mother that she was too old to bear another child. Your father had the man stripped of his title for saying it, but that didn’t save her.

Your father gives you a look – it is your turn to look at your mother, before the priests take her away to be buried. You approach the stone alter, nervously, not certain what you might see up close. You peer over the edge – she lies there, still. “Is she just asleep?” Her skin is so pale and her mouth is curled a little, like the knowing smile she might give to you and your brothers when you believed that you had gotten away with something. You stare at her, thinking of what to say, how to wish good-bye…

You feel a nudge from behind. Startled, you turn to see your brother, Vergo, pushing you softly. “Come on, your turn is up. Go back to father.” You turn your head away quickly – you might have tears in your eyes. He’ll never let you forget it if he saw you crying. Taking one last look at her, you see that she is wearing something that you didn’t see at first. Her wrist bears a bracelet, made of a shiny metal, like silver, but darker in colour. She has never worn this before –perhaps it was a last gift to her from father. Your bigger brother muscles you to the side and touches your mother’s hand. You consider pushing back, but decide against it, hurrying back to your place at your father’s side.

Quintin

It seemed like an eternity for the ship to dock. Finally, you have your chance to explore. You heard that there was a canary with teeth on these islands and you want to be the first from all of Zinova to see it. Better still, your father promised you a cage to put the bird in after you catch it. But he is still in the town, waiting for mother to get back from her luncheon with the Governor’s wife.

After much exploring through the jungle, the sun has fallen below the trees all too soon. There are lots of sparrows and crows and even a parrot here, but no canaries. You’ll have to resume your search at daybreak tomorrow. Well, that’s if father lets you. You decide that you had better get back to town before dark, as you promised.

You open the door to your family’s lodgings and rush inside just as the last rays of the sun fade. Your mother is here. She sees you and gives a bright smile. She looks like to run to hug you, but stops herself. You see that she is speaking to a man, not your father, his back to you. The man turns around, smiling, but without the warmth in your mother’s smile. “Is this young Quintin, then?” Your mother, with a more grim look now, nods in agreement. The man’s face is a little old and mysterious, like he is from a distant land that even your family has never visited. He is stooped slightly, using a cane to keep himself upright. You see that the cane is not wooden, but made of an unusual metal, charcoal coloured, with an unsettling sheen. It has three prongs for his hand to rest. He shuffles past you toward the door. "Very good then. It has been settled. When you come of age, boy, you will learn what it is to serve.”

Murad

“It will take as long as it takes", your master says as you struggle with the tiny seedlings. You didn’t mean to complain, but it has been days and the new plants don’t seem to like all of the wind here. Perhaps your master has a plan, but he’s not telling you about it. He just seems to be pondering, as you do all of the work.

As if reading your thoughts, he says: “Once we help them, these plants will grow on their own. They will provide food for our people close to the village when the rains come.” Your master observes your work. “Very good. That is enough for today. Go home and meet me here before the sun rises on the morrow.”

You bow to your master and run home to beat the setting sun. On your way, you think about your lessons and whether or not your master will ever teach you his magic. Back at the village, you see your father speaking to an Ealduran man. The man is pointing to the sea, yet you cannot hear what they are saying. You must get home before your father sees you – he’ll wonder why you are late.

At home, your mother is preparing the meal. Your siblings dash about, partly helping and partly in play. Your mother sees you enter and bids you to get more wood for the cook fire. You turn to go back outside and nearly trip over your younger brother. Only three years old, he seems to be playing with a toy, a strange toy. It is made of a dark and shimmering wooden material, like metal, which you know to be forbidden. It has been shaped like a lizard, a dragon lizard. You’d like to look closer, but your mother gives you a stare. You go get the wood.

Then, a voice seems to emanate from the orb:

The lava bed has been disturbed. If you wish to stop the reaction between the earth and star magics from occurring, you must destroy the pit. By doing so, the explosion of the energy contained within the lava will be prevented. Instead, the magical earth energy will implode, consuming itself and all of the magic from across your world.

If you let the two magics come into contact with each other, the resulting explosion will cause much destruction. With either choice, there will be conflict and suffering.

Quintin estimates that a volcanic explosion, if allowed to occur, would kill close to 15000 people in the islands.

Io, Gere, Cendrik, and Pascal suddenly come back to life. Cornelius is released from his paralysis. Sybil and Sohrab start to stir.

Murad, Rod, and Quintin are brought up to date by Gere. Quintin, with Io’s help, figures out that the strange lichen-like organism growing on the walls of the pit, is preventing the pit from being collapsed. Quintin realizes that the Greater Attenuate formula might be used to weaken the organism, but he has used up his only supply of the substance.

Quintin thinks, with a lot of luck, he can make the formula from his Attenuate vials and by using the alchemical glue that the other group found in Moratu’s laboratory. After some special effort, the formula appears to be successful. They smear it around the inside of the pit, in contact with the lichen-like organism. Then Quintin places several force bombs together with a fuse at the entrance to the pit. Murad casts Transport via Plants to use as an escape route. Each member of the group disappears, in order, into the patch of ferns. Bertom, the last to leave, looks back at the pit. He sees the wick on the force bomb extinguished, the spark igniting the gas of the volatile liquid inside. Before it explodes, Bertom vanishes…

The party re-appears, one at a time, in the garden of the House of Fenne in the city of Llantry. Those that use magic notice the the magical energy quickly drain from their bodies and the items that they possess. Their plan seems to have worked!

Murad feels the energy in the sphere and tries to tap into it, but is unable to. The sphere begins to float away. Murad prevents it from leaving his grasp. As this is happening, the image of an unknown being appears above from the orb. In a strong yet calming voice, it speaks to the group.

I am from another world, another plane of existence. I am light, I am darkness, I am order, and I am mayhem.

Nearly 12000 years ago, your world was in a dark corner of the universe. Her skies were filled with poisonous gases and the ground was frozen. The planet was lifeless, with few signs of the magic buried deep within her. She was a blank canvass, if you take my meaning. That is when I arrived.

I wanted to bring balance to the great chaos I observed and to see what could be made of this world. After I unleashed some of the earth magic trapped beneath her surface, the sky cleared. Life began to grow under the sun and stars at a rather accelerated rate. When humans and other races began to attain sentience, I decided that I would observe them from a closer perspective. I split myself into my four ‘elements’, shall we say. I scattered my essence across your world, taking residence in various items of value. Over the centuries, I imparted some of my power and knowledge to those who I encountered, including the one known to you as Adric the Protector. That is why the various religions of the world all give reverence to my four aspects – be they elements, spirits, or even moral views.

By this time, the magic of the earth was mostly unknown to the people. I decided to observe what your world’s inhabitants would do once they were able to access this power. I seeded certain areas on the surface of the planet with earth magic from below. This served to attract the star that fell to your world some 2000 years ago. One of the star’s fragments struck the dormant volcano on this island. The impact made the power of the earth magic more accessible to those on the surface. And the arcane power of the star fragments was now on this planet. A small number of individuals learned how to use this newly available energy. Some chose to use the magics for the good of the people, many for their own personal goals.

I came as an observer, but ultimately, I wish to see balance. Moratu’s plan would have unleashed great power, but would have caused much imbalance. Evil and chaos would have prevailed for a great time. That was the vision you saw in your dreams, Murad. If that had been what you had wished, I would have consented to it. I must admit, I am pleased that it was not. I did not err many years ago, when I chose you as the bearers of my power.

But your choice is not without consequences. Magic will no longer be a determinant of power – politics and technology will fulfill that role now. Of more pressing concern, the poisonous gas that has been released from the volcano is moving toward the other islands in this chain. Within days, many thousands will be dead. In the capitol city of Ealdur, the attackers have positioned hundreds of barrels of black powder around the palace and the academy grounds. Magic was protecting the people from this threat, but is no longer. Once the attackers learn this, they will ignite their weapon, killing countless innocents.

Then the image begins to glow a bright white light that engulfs the party. Each individual is imparted with great knowledge of the universe and all within it. The being continues.

It is time for me to leave this world. You now have the knowledge to take care of it and help its people. Before I leave, I will grant you one last boon – I will provide you with the means to prevent one of these calamities from occurring. You must decide which one and how. You cannot prevent both – some hardship must occur before healing can take place. Perhaps you prefer to achieve the balance in another way. If you choose, you may exact some revenge upon your enemies instead.

The party discusses their options and decides to save the people of the islands. Murad communicates their request to the entity. It replies: “It shall be done”.

The image fades until both it and the orb disappear. At that moment, Quintin runs for the door, telling the group that he is headed for the Academy of the Stars’ Children. Rod and Io follow close behind…

View
Session 69 - Sept. 29/14
Nighty, night, Rod...

The party steps out of Quintin’s wardrobe laboratory into the mélée. Rod immediately attacks several undead, wights, surrounding a fallen woman. A large dragon attacks Murad, damaging him. Murad counters by summoning a monster. Moratu, the lich, casts Waves of Exhaustion on the party. Thanks to Death Ward cast on most of the group, only Cendrik is affected by the lich’s spell. The wights try to attack Rod but again are unable to hurt or grapple him. Quintin throws several bombs, damaging Ilio, the mummy. Eeva, the witch, tries to use Dominate Monster on Rod, but he is able to shrug off the effects.

Arah calls down a column of holy fire, damaging several of the wights and destroying Ilio. Rod attacks the witch but does little damage to her. One of Murad’s two summoned triceritops charges the witch. The other decides to get the dragon’s attention by goring it in the ass. Murad then transforms into an earth elemental and sinks into the ground.

The dragon goes for Arah and badly wounds her, knocking her unconscious. The Lich, now incorporeal, uses Disintegrate to destroy the ghost, Alaad.

Bertom of Cuford channels positive energy and heals Arah. He also damages the undead that are assaulting her. The skeletons continue their attack and she falls once again. Bertom soon follows.

The witch uses her Eternal Slumber hex on Rod and Quintin – Quintin resists its effects but, even with heroic effort, Rod is unable to and slumps to the ground. A wight moves in and starts taking the rings off his fingers. Another of them takes Arah’s Token of Fira.

Murad, running out of options, casts Flamestrike on the group of undead (and downed party members). Then, he activates the bag of holly berry bombs, that Rod was carrying in his pouch. The two dinosaurs attack a wight and skeleton, respectively. Moratu casts Horrid Wilting on the party, causing massive damage to the living members. Eeva casts Storm Bolts. The streams of electricity strike the party. The remaining skeletal guards attack the still standing members of the party, killing both Cendrik and Quintin. Only Murad and his creatures stand between Moratu and victory…

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Session 68 - Sept. 4/14
I'll listen to you. It doesn't mean I have to like it...
Group 2

The battle with Sohrab continues. Bilya dispels Cornelius’ forceful hand. Fatima slips into the main room, invisible. She flies up to the ceiling where she sees more wights crawling outside along the surface of the dome. Still nauseated from the Stinking Cloud, Fatima becomes visible, pretending that she is well. She tells Sohrab that all this fighting is unnecessary and that she would love to hear about his plan. The wights continue to hold Cornelius and Io.

The Persistant Image continues. It depicts a tribe of people on a great plain, looking to the sky. A huge star is falling toward them. The scene then cuts to a large city, with a high central tower. A burning orange-red star can be seen above, falling.

Sorhab asks “Do you know what this means?” Fatima replies “I would much rather hear what you have to teach on this.” A rumble is heard from deep inside the pit. The dragon snorts.

Sohrab welcomes them to the ancient city of Tumaraa – once capitol of the southern tribes of the Labreyan people.

It was constructed inside the dormant volcano on this island in homage to the spirits of fire. Some two thousand years ago, a large fragment of the falling star, that caused the “one hundred year winter”, struck the city. Many died before they could escape the city, but not before a riot ensued. King Nanui and Queen Oriata escaped the wrath of the mob, taking refuge on a nearby island. Unbeknownst to their people, the monarchs had become vampires, years earlier. A priest hid them in a temple for months after the star struck. He ultimately betrayed them by trapping them beneath the earth, under running water. They were imprisoned for nearly 2000 years, until a group of agents of the Stars’ Children unwittingly released them. The group managed to kill them and plundered their royal artifacts.

Sohrab asks the group if they know what the source of magic is. Fatima explains that it comes from the star fragments. He confirms that is indeed true for arcane magic. He continues.

So called “divine magic”, contrary to what the priests say, derives from the power of the planet herself. It is “earth magic”, more correctly. The two sources of magic, from earth and star, remained separate until 2000 years ago, when the star fell. Less than 300 yards below them is a very large piece of the star fragment. It sits just above a massive lava bed. If the two sources of magic were to come into contact with each other, a great reaction would take place – with the release of almost unlimited power. My work has caused the fragment to slip further down toward the lava. This close proximity has caused the increase in storms and high level magic spells have become somewhat unpredictable because of it. But you probably believe that this falling star in the sky is the biggest threat to you.

He turns to the image over the pit. The scene now focuses on the orange-red star in the sky. “Is this what you fear?” The star grows as your view gets closer and closer to it. The star is a huge ball of fire with eddies and explosions on its surface. But the star is far away from their planet, Ardia, not overhead as it first appeared. Sohrab says:

The star is slowly destroying itself and will explode in perhaps hundreds of years. It would be a grave threat to this world, were it not that it is trillions of miles away from here.

Sohrab laughs.

It is amazing how willingly some will believe a lie if it suits their interests. Some use the lie to acquire power and some to consolidate that which they already possess. It was easy to convince the leader of these ‘Children of Zepha’ that it was a falling star when he understood what kind of power he could gain from it. The Church of Zaur was just as easily swayed.

The Stars’ Children were somewhat more difficult to convince. Gladly, the Children of Zepha made sure that the skeptics were eliminated. They could have traveled to the star to confirm its path. But they decided against it, since my activities here made such travel highly dangerous to them. Others, like the Ulgar, had been expecting a star to fall to the ground for some time and misread the signs.

In fact, a star will strike this world much sooner than would occur naturally, thanks to several nodes that your people built centuries ago to attract the stars. Even so, it will not happen again for thousands of years.

It has been most useful as a distraction from what I intend. The Children of Zepha were also very helpful for obtaining some of the artifacts I needed to begin my plan. Only a few things remain to be done, before it is ready…

Smiling, Sohrab waves his arms to dismiss an illusion that had been concealing the perimeter of the room. Many thin, yellow tubes can be seen emerging from the sides of the pit, leading to four seven foot tall glass and metal “pods” set into the wall, equidistant form each other. Two of the pods are empty. The other two contain a cloudy liquid. Inside one, a body floats – that of a woman. Cornelius recognizes her as a member of the Stars’ Children, but is unsure of her name. The other pod contains the body of a man – that of Sohrab!

The other “Sohrab” laughs again. Along the northern wall stands a young Labreyan woman who must have been concealed by the illusion. She steps forward, also smiling. Io, Fatima, and Cornelius recognize her as the woman who was sentenced to death many years ago, when they were in the bodies of the children. Cornelius and Io remember that her name is Eeva.

Still chuckling, “Sohrab” says “You are probably wondering who I am. Then, the illusion on him dissolves. The group sees a foul undead creature before them – a lich! The creature introduces himself as ”/characters/moratu" class=“wiki-content-link”>Moratu.

He goes on.

I have spent centuries hiding from the people that wished me dead, simply because of my beliefs. My wife (he looks to Eeva) was murdered by them, just for being MY wife. Now, justice shall be served upon them! The power of earth and star magic shall combine. This now dormant volcano will be so no longer! The great power of the magic will unleash an explosion, the likes of which has never been seen or heard. It will destroy the life on these islands and send the planet into another age of ice – this time for 1000 years!

Whoever survives, shall kneel before their new king and queen. Our bodies restored, we shall be the wielders of the only magic remaining to this world!

Moratu points to the empty pods and says “I just need two more volunteers…”

The illusion on Bilya also disappears, his mummified body now apparent. Cornelius estimates that he could not have been in this state for more than a few weeks. Fatima says “I don’t really like your plan Mr. Lich” and shoots a ray at the container holding the real Sohrab, severely damaging it.

The battle resumes. Io tries to break free. She manages to further damage Sohrab’s vessel, but is soon killed by the wights. Pascal also falls but is able to get off a burst positive energy first, which damages the undead, including Moratu. The dragon launches a blast of magma at Cornelius and Fatima but catches Bilya, the mummy, also.

Moratu touches Cornelius with his skeletal hand and paralyzes him. Likewise, Eeva touches Fatima, causing her to fall asleep. The party members dead or immobilized, Moratu orders his wight servants to get the Token of Galus from Io’s body. He smiles, saying that the other tokens will arrive shortly – he will need them to capture the magical power from the reaction.

The bodies of Cornelius and Fatima are each dragged to an empty pod, to be placed within. At that moment, a dark, swirling vortex appears by the eastern door of the room. As the vortex fades, a ghostly figure appears beside a large wardrobe.

The figure says "“Lust for revenge gives you power, Moratu. So does it to your enemies!” In response, Moratu quips “Thank you, Alaad. You have brought me what I have been waiting for. Just as expected.” Alaad moves to attack Moratu.

Group 1

Inside the wardrobe laboratory, the other party prepares for combat. Quintin uses a newly discovered alchemy to divine that they will soon face an ancient undead enemy. As they emerge one by one from the wardrobe, they see the battle scene. Not having acted yet, the group’s plans are as follows:

  • Murad will summon an ally
  • Quintin will throw 4 holy bombs
  • Arah will cast Piller of Life
  • Bertom will attack the mummy
View
Session 67 - Aug. 8/14
I don't need to hear your speech, you're dog meat...
Group 1

The party questions the ghostly figure and learns what he means by “All of your possessions.” Murad contacts Maddy on The Walrus and asks her to bring the ship nearer the island. Murad, as a Roc, gathers Quintin’s wardrobe laboratory and tries to convince Maddy to come with him. She is touched by his concern, but declines. Cendrik offers to come along. Murad gives him a magical dagger and armour that they recovered in their recent battle with the fungal creatures.

Murad flies Cendrim and the wardrobe bring the wardrobe to the node, where the ghost and the rest of the group awaits. The ghost, impatient and appearing to want vengeance of some sort, tells them to enter the wardrobe. With some reluctance, they do. Quintin updates the High Archmage and Navin. The rest of the group has some wine and waits inside the lab. They hear the swirl of wind outside and feel the surge of magical energy within. After a few moments, it subsides.

Group 2

Sohrab asks the party to enter the room: “Do you not wish to see what will happen to your world?” Io and Gere Raimo move to flank Sohrab, as the rest of the party waits to see what happens. The dragon sits beside Sohrab, watching the party closely.

Io attempts to intimidate Sohrab. “Why do you delay? I will flay all the flesh from your body!”. Surprisingly, he is momentarily shaken by her words.

Undetered, Sohrab uses a Persistent Image spell to tell a story. He creates an image, floating over the open pit. The party can see a group of Northern Ashtarean tribesmen, likely from a long ago time, on an autumn plain, looking up a the the sky. They see a red-hot burning star far overhead, falling to the planet…

Suddenly, Io and Gere attack Sohrab simultaneously. The dragon was ready for this and attacks Io. Fatima casts Feeblemind on Sohrab, but he resists its effects. Cornelius casts Forceful Hand and tries to push Sohrab into the pit, but he is able to resist his spell as well.

Ilio pleads with the group to stop and listen to what Sohrab has to say. Sohrab casts Mass Hold Person, paralyzing all but Io, Bilya, and Fatima, and her hellhound minions.
Io tries to grapple Sohrab and pull him into the pit but is unable to. One of the hellhounds is able to knock him to the ground, causing his spell to fizzle.

The dragon continues to pummel Io, but Io is able to knock Sohrab into the pit. The hellhounds jump into the pit after him. The dragon knocks Io unconscious and begins to attack Gere. Fatima, in the adjoining room with Cornelius, hears running down the corridor towards them. She turns invisible just as several dread wights rush into both rooms. Fatima grabs Cornelius and flies to the ceiling of the room to evade the wights.

Sohrab uses Stoneshape to open a doorway between the large domed room and the small room with Fatima and Cornelius. He then orders the wights and the dragon to kill Pascal and Gere, but to leave Io alive, for now…

Initiative
Round 8
Bilya
Fatima
Sohrab
Dragon
Io
Pascal (Held)
Cornelius (held)
Forceful hand
Wights

View
Session 66 - July 28/14
Is that something sparkling in this bag? I think I'll take it!

Coming up the path, Rod and Quintin see that is a privateer crewman from the Walrus, named Nathan. Unsure of his intentions, Rod sneaks around behind him just in case. The man says that Maddy sent him to offer assistance. Rod and Murad sense that he is lying. Rod is quick to hit him from behind, knocking him unconscious. Just then, Murad sees a glimmering shape in the sky over the stone. A caster appears and shoots a Disintegrate ray at the stone, destroying part of it. Arah uses Dispel Magic to dispel his Fly, causing him to crash to the ground. Bob and the other treants pound him into the dirt.

Murad and Rod secure the captives. Murad breaks the hands of the sorcerer to prevent casting as Rod breaks the hands of the sailor, just because. Arah casts a Banishment spell tied to a Glyph of Warding on the stone. She then rests to regain her spells.

Quintin and Rod search the forested area around the stone. Quintin finds a sack in the bushes and brings it back to be examined. Rod sees a glint near the stone and calls Quintin over to look at it. It seems to be some kind of pearl, a rather large one, carved into the likeness of a sea turtle. Murad says it was worn by his former master, Matahi, who has not seen for severla years, since before he left for Ashtar. Quintin asks Murad if he is sure that his master is dead. Murad is not certain. He tries sending him a message, suing the Crystal of Communication, but gets no response.

Searching the bodies of both spellcasters (the alive, human one and the dead, fungal one) they see that they both bear the tattoo of the Stars’ Children and wear the suicide ring of the Children of Zepha. They remove several items of magic, including what appears to be a Hat of Disguise, from the sailor, Nathan. He appears to be another. The party recognizes him to be Delthorne, the man who guided the group to the Tower of Stars when they first arrived in Llantry. Quintin sends a message to the High Archmage, who refers him to Navin, his assistant. Navin explains that Delthorne is, in fact, an agent of the Stars’ Children, undercover. He was following a member of the Children of Zepha, presumably the caster that they just subdued.

Delthorne looks at his broken hands. Murad looks at Rod who shrugs and says, “What? It was ok for you to do it, and not me?” Murad replies, “Well, I didn’t do it to our allies!” They update Delthorne and show him the fourth node.

The casters in the group try to make out what the runes mean. Arah is certain the symbols represent the four gods of Ardia – Galus, Valeria, Fira, and Zaur. Rod figures out that the language used is Saerean, from the ancient Saerean Empire of Ashtar. Murad touches the symbol of Zaur and it glows a faint yellow. Arah casts Make Whole on the node, which repairs some of the damage dealt by the sorcerer. Delthorne moves to study the stone. Rod, still suspicious, warns him not to try anything funny.

Murad informs Quintin and Delthorne about the Coorish attack on Llantry. He explains how they must have used magic to transport the Leonian fleet past the blockade and into the Silent Sea, for a surprise attack. Delthorne believes that several “shards” would have had to have been used to conduct such a maneuver. He also tells that the Laboratory of the High Alchemists was destroyed by an explosion and that High Alchemist Heyrod was killed in the attack.

Delthorne explains that the High Archmage set a trap for one of the other Archmages, using the Crystal of Communication as bait. When the party was being briefed for their current mission, both Archmages Celia Haqar and Yül Akafar were present (their images projected from their respective capitols). They were the only ones that knew about the Crystal. The agent that they just apprehended also knew about the crystal. Based on this and other information, the High Archmage determined that Archmage Akafar is the leader of the Children of Zepha.

Rod walks over to the node and touches the token of Valarea to it’s corresponding symbol, to no effect. Off in the woods, Quintin sends a message to the High Alchemist’s daughter, Vina, to see if she is alright. She responds that she is alive, but not allowed to communicate on order of the High Archmage.

The groupd tries different combinations of pressing the runes to activate the node. By pressing the runes in quick succession, in the order of Galus, Valeria, Fira, Zaur, the runes glow in unison for a short time. Murad sends a message to Gralius Kurn. He responds that all nodes are active. The elves in Kayemba and the Stars’ Children agents in the Eastern lands have secured their respective nodes and found them to be active, though partly eroded by monstrous plants. The group leading the effort to secure the node in northern Lettan was found to have an imposter. An agent of the Children of Zepha was impersonating their leader, Gere Raimo. Nevertheless, their node is secure and active.

The High Archmage tells them to protect the node, and await further instruction as he attempts to harness the power of the nodes through the Tower of Stars. The group starts casting several spells to protect the node. After more than an hour, the runes of the node start to glow and pulsate slowly.

Rod whispers to Murad in Labreyan that he should check with “their friend under the mountain”. Murad contacts Rolston Galfant and gets a response that the falling star seems to be getting closer and could hit within days. They look into the twilight sky to see the star near the constellation of Zepha is indeed bigger than when they last looked.

Gralius Kurn contacts the group with the news that the nodes were designed to attract stars. The nodes cannot likely be used to repel the star. They will need several weeks to study them to see if they can be appropriately modified. It is not likely that they have that much time before the star hits.

Rod feels that the situation is wrong and voices this concern. Quintin suggests that they should try to push the runes in reverse order and the node powers down. They let Kurn know. He says that he will update them shortly.

Suddenly a ghostly image of a man appears above the centre of the stone. They recognize it to be the strange Labreyan man that they encounctered in the underground temple on Calmuth Island. He says, in an old form of Labreyan: “If you wish to save your people, gather ALL of your possessions, and return here.”

The items collected include:

  • carved pearl (sea turtle) – belonging to Murad’s former master
  • +2 dagger
  • +1 dagger with green prismatic spray poison
  • +4 corrosive burst cutlass
  • +3 moderate fortification studded leather
  • masterwork pistol, 13 rounds of bullets
  • +5 bracers of armour (2)
  • +3 cloak of resistance (2)
  • +6 headband of mental prowess (Wis, Cha)
  • +4 headband of mental superiority (CL16, Perception, Sense Motive)
  • potions: cure serious wounds (6), bear’s endurance (2), haste, protection cold, tongues, hide from undead
  • +3 ring of protection (2)
  • ring of invisibility
  • suicide ring (2)
  • wand of cure serious wounds (23 charges)
  • wand of dispel magic (CL10, 7 charges)
  • bag of gems
View
Session 65 - July 14/14
A captivating fight.

As the massive fungal creature’s tentacles move in to attack, Rod activates his ring and becomes invisible. Murad, as an air elemental, tosses the privateer captain around in his vortex. Arah casts Freedom of Movement on Bertom of Cuford,. Bertom jumps from the platform on Bob to the ground. He attacks one of the sailors. Bob and the treants smash at the other sialors.

The fungal tendrils rise from the earth and attempt to grab Bertom but fail because of Arah’s spell. They do manage to grapple the treants. Murad summons a massive Roc. He then flies up 150 feet up into the air. He drops the captain and one of the sailors, who fall to their deaths. He then casts Explosive Rot on the fungal creature, causing some of its flesh to die. The Roc attacks the creature but fails to injure it.

Quintin transforms into a large Tunnelroot creature and burrows under the ground to attack the fungus from below. The tendrils fill the earth, but are unable to grab a hold of Quintin, due to his own Freedom of Movement effect. The two smaller treants trample the sailors as they try and grab the Token of Zaur from the dead captain’s body.

Bertom pounds away on the fungal creature but is unable to penetrate it’s skin. The fungus takes control of one of the smaller treants and has it attack the other treant. The fungus seems to regenerates from some of the damage caused by Murad’s spell. Rod jumps down (with style) and grabs the token.

Murad calls down a powerful beam of light on the fungus doing a substantial amount of damage to it. Underground, Quintin uses his Greater Attenuate formula on the creature, causing the metal-like particles in its hide to dissolve. Arah blasts the fungus with a Cone of Cold with little effect.

Rod cuts down the last remaining sailor as he tried to grab the token. Bertom strikes at the fungal creature again with his adamantium weapon and is now able to damage it.

Suddenly a sound of breaking branches can be heard and several plant creatures burst from the under brush. A vine creature releases a cloud of spores among the group. Rod falls under a mind effect and is captivated. he stops what he is doing and seems to be mvoing toward the vine creature. Two other vine creatures grapple him. Rod is then able to break the enchantment and uses his ring to take Gaseous Form and floats away.

Murad flies down and casts anti-plant shield to protect Bertom and himself from the plant creatures. His Roc takes one of the plant creatures, that looks like a willow tree, in it’s claws and flies it up and away. Arah, who is captivated, starts moving towards one of the vine creature. She falls from Bob while trying to climb down form him.

Quintin detonates three force bombs under the creature, blasting a huge hole in its “belly”. Bertom cuts the rest of the creature down with his massive sword. The fungus explodes in a spore cloud, hurting Arah further. Rod flies down and checks on Arah, showing rare tenderness.

Quintin informs the rest of the group that there is a huge stone beneath the creature. Upon further investigation, they find a stone about 15 feet in diameter and foot and a half tall. It appears like it has been worn eroded from above. They presume that this is the fourth node that they seek. Murad and Arah study the node and discover four runes on it, that pulsate slowly, with magic.

Murad sends a message to Archmage Gralius Kurn and Navin, his assistant: “The node is intact, but damaged. A fungus-like creature has been feeding on it for centuries, it seems.” At that moment, they hear a voice, calling from up the path, using the party members’ names. Rod slinks into the forest shadow, just in case…

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Session 64 - June 30/14
Crush 'em, Bob!!!

After Murad, as a Roc, drops off the group on the shore of the uncharted island, he attempts to use Liveoak to create a minion for himself. In doing so, he notices that someone or something seems to have control over the plant life on the island and is resisting his attempts to control the oak. Murad overcomes the resistance and creates his new treant companion, “Bob”.

Quintin studies the local wildlife and is puzzled to learn that, although the flora seems to be of a standard temperate variety, there appears to be no animal life, not even insects. Rod searches the beach, being careful to avoid the caustic algae that laps up on the shoreline. He finds several pieces of what seems to be flotsam, completely covered in the algae. Rod calls over Quintin, who carefully scrapes off the algae. The flotsam is cut wood, perhaps parts of a sea vessel. Quintin finds that one of the larger pieces is carved in the image of a peacock. Rod searches the beach further and discovers a path leading to the northwest, into the interior of the island.

Quintin uses and Arcane Eye spell to see where the path leads. After about 100 yards, the narrow trail opens up into an approximately 10 foot wide natural pathway. The eye continues following it. It twists and turns, rises and falls, along a mountain ridge line. About one and a half miles along, the floating eye spots movement in the forest to the right of the path. Quintin commands the eye to investigate. It sees a figure, apparently a man, running further into the forest. Quintin tells the eye to stop, rise above the canopy, and agitate itself, in place. He then relays its location to Murad.

Murad, still in Roc form, flies to where he reckons the eye to be. He finds the eye and dives beneath the canopy of trees to find the man. Murad sees the man, dressed in Ashtarean garb, running. He calls out for him, in Ealduran, to stop. Murad offers to help him. The fleeing man stops for a moment and appears to be listening to Murad’s plea when long, grey and white tendrils spring up form the forest floor and entangle the man. Before he can be dragged beneath the earth, Murad casts a Command Plants spell and convinces the creature to let him go. He then commands the plant to show itself. A circle of tendrils, about 30 feet in diameter, sprouts from the ground, waving themselves in the air. The man decides to escape the trap and runs toward Murad.

Murad offers to fly him back to safety. The man reluctantly agrees. He says that his name is Groot. As Groot is about to “board” onto the Roc’s back, Murad sees that there is something odd about him. His skin is quite pale, with an almost jaundiced tone to it. Murad decides to take the man in his claws instead. They fly back to the beach to meet the others.

Murad presents the rescued man to the others and tells the story of how he was found. The group questions him. He says that he came ashore from the crew of The Peacock and several other ships. Some members of the group recall The Peacock to be the name of Eddy Raffin’s ship. Groot says that their ships were soon eaten away by the algae and that they went inland looking for something, he’s not sure what, on Raffin’s orders. They were beset by the tendril creatures and scattered. Many of them were caught, but he managed to get away. He says that he hasn’t eaten in a few days.

They try to get more information from Groot but he is reluctant to continue. Rod surprises him with his sap and knocks the man unconscious. After some initial outrage at Rod’s seemingly rash action, the group debates what to do next. They cut off his baby finger to study it. The “blood” released is a thick, yellowish substance. Arah examines Groot to find that he seems to not be human per se. He looks human, but is made of some strange material. Quintin believes that he is a type of fungal creature, in the likeness of a man. Arah revives him with a Heal spell. They tell him that they believe him to be a type of plant creature. He denies this. As Murad questions him about how he was attacked by the tendril creatures, he takes in a deep breath and beings to exhale in their direction.

Before he can get out his breath, Rod whips out his spring-loaded dagger and slices into his neck. The man slumps to the ground, dead. Quintin dissects the body to confirm that he is a type of fungal creature. As the group discusses the implications of this, someone notices a ship on the horizon to the southeast. Murad takes the rest of the group aloft to investigate. He commands Bob to guard the dead body.

As they close on the ship, they see that she is Starsinger. Murad circles overhead and calls down to her captain, Garret. He warns of the caustic algae surrounding the island and advises him to turn his ship around. Garret accuses Murad of seeking to claim the island’s best treasure for himself. He ignores Murad’s warning and sails on. Murad flies away with the others, but first tells him to take small boats to the island first, if he is intent on going ashore.

Murad and the others fly back to the beach where Bob is waiting. They watch as Garret and his men row two ship’s boats toward the shore. Garret’s boat brings up the rear. As they approach the ring of algae, Murad uses Control WInds to spin the boats around so that Garret’s enters the algae first. One of the crewmen dips a leather glove into the algae-covered water. The algae clings to the hull of the boat. Murad then reverses the wind to blow them back out into the open water. Within minutes, the boat begins to corrode. As it sinks, the men dive into the water to escape. With a curse, Garret abandons his boat last. The second boat rows over to pick up the swimming men. Murad can hear one of them screaming. He flies over to see that his arms are covered in the algae. Murad take shim back to shore to have Arah tend to his wounds. Once he is healed, Murad returns him to Starsinger. Murad gives Garret an “I told you so”. Garret retorts: “Don’t think I’m not still watching you, Murad”!

After some discussion, the group decides that, due to its extremely unusual nature, this island is the probable location of the fourth magical node. Murad uses Woodshape to make seats and a shooting platform on Bob. They find their spots on the tree creature and he carries them off down the path. Murad uses Locate Animals and Plants to search for the fungal man creatures. He finds nothing within the 1/2 mile radius of the spell’s range. He also looks for the tendril creatures. Murad is shocked to learn that these creatures or creature are everywhere on this island.

Along the path, Bob creates two tree creatures to help him. After almost 4 miles of travel along the path, near the centre of the island, they see a clearing up ahead. Beyond the clearing is a 50 foot diameter “dome” of tightly woven coniferous trees. Using Locate Animals and Plants, Murad detects about fifty of the fungal man creatures in the surrounding forest. He tells the others this, yet they decide to continue along the path approaching the clearing.

As they near the dome, Murad receives a message on the Crystal of Communication. Strangely, the message is from Navin, aide to the High Archmage, Gralius Kurn. He has ill tidings.

Some two days ago, by some treachery, the entire Leonian fleet was sighted in the Silent Sea, 2 miles to the east of the city. The token naval force left behind to defend Llantry’s waters was easily overwhelmed. The remainder of the Queen’s navy had already sailed to the Bay of the Protector to head off the Leonian fleet.

Coorish troops poured out of the ships and are laying siege to the city now. The south city has already fallen. More than half of the Queen’s army had already marched south, some three days ago, to intercept the Brindish.

During the attack, a massive explosion took place at the High Alchemists’ Laboratory. The laboratory itself and several surrounding buildings were destroyed. He regrets to say that the High Alchemist, Heyrod lost his life in the attack as did many other loyal members. They are still uncertain whether the few remaining shards they have stored in the laboratory are intact.

The High Archmage is certain that it was the work of the Children of Zepha and has sequestered himself in the Tower of Stars. He has given the word that the Tower will soon be under attack. Gralius Kurn has dispatched some of their members to use magic in defense of the capitol but is saving most of their remaining resources for the defence of the Tower. He gives the order for their group to expedite their search for the node – there may be little time left before the Tower of Stars is breached and their plan to stop the falling star is foiled.

He must go now to aid the High Archmage. The group should contact him as soon as the node is secure.

Murad responds with a message to Navin that they are close to locating the node. Murad tells the others the bad news.

Before they reach the dome, the fungal man creatures emerge from the forest, surrounding them. Their leader appears to have been a privateer captain. He welcomes them and asks them what their purpose on this island is. Murad replies that they are looking for a magical node that they want to use to prevent the falling star from striking the planet.

The captain says that they would be willing to help them find this node, but they want something in return. He is aware that they carry items of great power – the Tokens. He and his “people” can use the tokens to power the node, so that they can use it as the group intends. The captain asks that, once their task is complete, Murad and his group give them the tokens. They will use them to feed on. He asks to see the tokens.

Murad and the group find the proposal to be reasonable, but don’t fully trust this creature. Murad, Rod, and Arah, show the captain their respective tokens. He requests that they place them on the ground so that he can examine them. The group is apprehensive, but Murad decides to hand his counterpart his Token of Zaur. The captain looks pleased. He steps forward asking for the other tokens.

At this moment, some members of the party recognize another of the fungal privateers to be Antoine Sebourne, one of Maddy’s ex-captains. When the party refuses to hand over the remaining tokens, the leader commands his men to attack.

Murad casts a spell to cause an explosion of rot to rip through the plant creatures. Quintin tosses acid bombs and Rod throws daggers. Bob crushes Sebourne’s skull with his massive, woody fist. Bertom of Cuford guards Arah, waiting for an attack. The sailors try to breathe spore clouds at the party, but they resist the effects.

Sensing that they are losing this battle, the leader flees into the forest. The sailors hack uselessly at the treants, while patches of white tendrils rise from the ground to ensnare them. At that moment, Quintin notices a small, brown insect crawling up his right leg. It is a type of tropical stick insect. He finds it odd that he is seeing it here on this temperate island. Then, before he can react, Quintin watches as the insect transforms into a man.

The man lands on the shooting platform around Bob’s waist. He starts to cast a spell. Bertom, waiting of an attack, comes down hard on the caster with his bastard sword. He slices into the man’s shoulder, disrupting his spell. Rod gets in on the action. As he stabs away, Rod can see that the man has the same pallour as the other sailors. He and Bertom take him down easily.

Murad transforms into an air elemental and chases after the fleeing captain. He finds him trying to enter the dome of trees, which have parted slightly to allow him passage. Murad prevents the captain from getting through by catching him in a whirlwind. Murad is able to sneak a peak inside the dome – he sees a large light grey mass, that is gently pulsating.

Suddenly, the ground vibrates and the trees of the forest begin to sway, though there is no wind. The line of trees forming the dome in front of the party begins to open. As the tightly woven trees part, a rank cloud of moist air spews forth. As the air clears, a pale grey mass, nearly thirty feet tall and at least as wide, pulsates slowly. You feel a growing sense of dread as a writhing tentacle emerges from behind the dome of trees, moving in your direction.

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Session 63 - June 16/14
I spots me a Dragon! or Ouch, that burns!
Group 2

The group is recuperating after nearly losing Cornelius to the trapped notebook. Io uses her Spell Scent ability on the notebook to locate the caster of the Sepia Snake Sigil. She determines that the caster is in the large circular room with the deep pit. Cornelius casts Clairvoyance into the room and it, surprisingly, works. He sees the Magma Dragon that they previously encountered hunched near the pit.

Standing in an adjacent room, Pascal uses Stoneshape to make a small hole in the wall to provide line of sight into the dragon’s room. Fatima casts Silent Image to mask the hole. Ilio and Pascal take the east doors while Io and Gere Raimo take the west doors.

Io prepares protections for herself:

  • Purity
  • Resistance
  • Enlarge
  • Bear’s endurance;
  • Magic circle against evil
  • Deathward
  • Flames of the Faithful
  • Weapon of Awe
  • Keen Edge
  • Hunters Eye
  • Battlemind Link (with Gere Raimo)
  • Bane (against dragons)

Fatima provides the whole party with Infernal Healing. Cornelius has Invisibility.

The dragon looks toward the hole made by Cornelius and snorts. Then, out of nowhere, a robed figure appears next to the dragon. It is Sohrab! He opens his arms and says:

Gentlemen, ladies, please come in. Witness the transformation of our planet!

Group 1

In the blink of an eye, the party finds itself still on The Walrus out in the ocean, partly submerged, but the water is kept at bay by the magic bubble of the Submerge Ship spell.

In the distance, to the left of the setting sun, they spot a ship 100 feet in the air falling fast towards the water. Murad thinks fast and, using a Control Water spell, creates a geyser of water under the boat. There is a great crack and heave as the ship hits the water. Fortunately, the column created by Murad lessens the impact of the fall. From this angle, it is clear that the fallen ship is Starsinger.

Quintin and Murad change into water elementals, dive into the water, and begin looking for the third ship, Bilgerat.

The Walrus pulls alongside Starsinger. They learn that she is not at risk of sinking, but she is going to need repairs to the hull and main mast before resuming their journey. Arah and Bertom of Cuford aid the injured crewmen.

After hours of searching to no avail, Quintin realizes that they can use the Crystal of Communication, to contact Brenn, the captain of Bilgerat. They do and figure out where his ship is located. Murad flies over to Bilgerat and guides her back to the other ships.

Later that evening, Murad and Maddy retire to her cabin. After much fun, she tells the tale of how the Starbirth Sea got its name.

Some 12000 years ago, it is believed, the first star in the sky, Ireul, appeared over this sea.

Maddy finds it unbelievable that their world would be older than the stars. She considers it merely a story.

With the aid of Arah’s magic, it takes just more than a day to repair Starsinger enough so that she can sail safely. Their small fleet sets out to the northwest, in search of the fourth node. After close to a week at sea, Murad, flying ahead as a seabird, spots land. He gets a closer look and sees that it is a small temperate island. He notices that the entire shoreline is ringed in a yellow-green algae. Murad returns to The Walrus and tells of what he saw. On Quintin’s request, Murad returns to the island with a glass vial to collect a sample of the algae. Quintin, takes it to his wardrobe alchemy lab to study it. He discovers that the algae is caustic and is slowly dissolving the glass vial.

Murad finds that the algae has a faint magical aura. He attempts to dispel the magic on the algae to see if that will nullify the effects. It seems to do so, but only temporarily.

Murad transforms into a Roc. Quintin, Rod, Arah, and Bertom hop aboard. He flies the group to the island. Maddy keeps the ships at a distance so as not to expose them to the potentially damaging algae surrounding the island.

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Session 62 - June 5/14
Getting sloppy with the trap finding boys...

The party decides to rest for an hour for Pascal to regain his spells. He uses Restoration to remove the negative effects of the undead attack. Fatima questions Ilio about the history of the Stars’ Children and whether they can work together for a common purpose. Ilio replies that he does not judge them for being members and simply asks that they co-operate to thwart the efforts of the Children of Zepha.

The group resumes their exploration of the palace complex. Pascal enters a long hallway, rather casually looking for traps. On the floor is a faded mosaic depicting various plants, animals and people. Among the animals are fire bats and several dragon lizards that seem to be pursuing the people. As he observes the art, Pascal fails to notice a peculiar stone in the floor and inadvertently steps on it. It sets off a deafening sound. Most of the group recovers within a few minutes, but Fatima is temporally deafened. Pascal estimates that it will be a few hours before she regains her hearing.

At the western end of the hallway is a set of iron double doors, each with the intertwined, dragon lizards that the group observed previously among the ruined city. Io uses her magical gloves to see beyond the doors. She sees a circular, domed hall with a nearly 20 foot wide pit in its centre. Pascal unlocks the doors and the group enters the room. They find a matching pair of doors on the east side of the hall. Dim light, that has found its way through cracks in the dome, falls onto the pit. The darkness from the pit seems to swallow the light.

Cornelius places an Alarm spell on the mouth of the pit. He flies up to the domed ceiling, peering through one of the cracks. He notices something flying around far above. Then, suddenly, it flies quickly away. Cornelius does not feel that it is the dragon. Io suggests that Cornelius fly down the pit of darkness. He declines the offer, but instead suggests that he cast Fly on her. She agrees and flies slowly down the pit. Even Io’s Darkvision cannot penetrate the blackness. As she descends, the wall of the pit and the air itself grow increasingly colder. About 300’ down, Io feels a gooey substance on the walls and heads back up to report her findings. The substance on her glove is a lightly glowing yellow-green slime. It seems to be causing her glove to smoke lightly. She quickly scrapes the slime off.

Fatima casts Prying Eyes and sends out 14 flying sensors to search ahead for living creatures, undead creatures, and a way out of the ruins. The party continues exploring beyond the double doors.

Along another hallway, they find a sort of embalming room. In the room’s centre, is a long metal table, with oiled strips of cloth and bits of dried flesh on its surface. To its right, is a smaller table that holds a huge collection of glass vials, filled with various liquids and salves. Near the north wall, a figure is squatting, apparently cleaning dried flesh form the floor. As she turns toward the group, they see that it is a pale-skinned Labreyan woman. She is frightened by the party and backs away.

The woman calls herself Nanihi. Ilio reassures her that they will not harm her and that they are simply looking for a man named Sohrab. She does not recognize the name. She says that she lives here in the ruins with 200 or so of her people. A man who calls himself Arbo came here several months ago. He used undead servants to force her people to look for artifacts that he said were buried in the ruins. Arbo commanded her to clean this room, whcih he uses for “experiments”. She is frightened that Arbo will return and punish her for speaking with them. She says that they are in danger from him as well. The group recalls that “Arbo” is an alias sometimes used by Sohrab.

Something about her story does not sit right with Io. She tires to intimidate Nanihi into telling the truth. The woman does not appear to react to Io’s words but makes for the exit, offering to take them to her people. Pascal attempts to restrain her in a grapple. As he does this, he can feel that her skin is not normal – it is rotting! Nanihi, an undead creature, turns the tables on Pascal and grapples him. Fatima uses Telekinesis to pin the creature and Io deacpitates it with her spear. The group takes the glass vials and some small surgical tools hanging on the wall.

They explore further down the hall to find a prison cell. Inside is an emaciated man chained to the wall. Pascal finds that he is suffering from hunger and thirst and is weakened beyond even that. After they heal and feed him, the has enough strength to give his name – Gere Raimo. He says that he was “rescued” from the Marquis Farileau‘s dungeons in Baste by a man in grey robes. The man brought him here to keep him imprisoned and to take bits of his flesh every few days. He doesn’t know how long he has been here. He was being fed by the undead creatures, but he felt himself getting weak. Every few days or so, the man would return with a skin of some foul-tasting liquid. The substance seemed to make him feel better for a time. Then he began to feel weak again, only to be given the liquid again. Raimo vows revenge against the Marquis and this grey-robed man.

From his story, Cornelius deduces that he is suffering from exposure to raw star metal that is present in the surroundings. Fatima figures out that the cell door has raw star metal in it. She speculates that Sohrab might be testing cures for the exposure on Raimo.

In a nearby room they find a pack and bedroll. The pack contains some dried meat, a map, and notebook. Cornelius carefully reads the book, but triggers a Sepia Snake Sigil. With a huge amount of heroic effort, he overcomes the effects. Cornelius says that he needs to sit and have a cup of tea after the ordeal. The group agrees to rest for a time. Fatima reads the notebook and finds several interesting passages, written in Lettanni. During this time, several of her “eyes” return. They seem to have found more creatures, living and undead, among the ruins.

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