The party makes the several week journey to the mainland on the commandeered Leonian vessel, the Seventh Star. Along the way, it is noticed that the weather is rougher then normal. They skim 3 thunder storms, and a hurricane, taking only minor damage (23 points). Murad busies himself with crafting magic items, while Quintin explores the alchemist’s lab, and Rod changes his appearance to look more like a mercenary.
When the party passes the Hanum chain of islands, they are approached by an Elduran ship, captained by a Captain Amer. Cam Rewyn, Murad, and Quintin row over and exchange words of the status of the war and are offered an escort to Llantry.
The channel connecting the Bay of the Protector to the Silent Sea is protected by battery forts. As they approach the city, the smells of tanneries and sewage accost them. They pass through a large bridge with many buildings built onto it. After pulling into the docks, the captain of the Seventh Star, Morso, seems nervous and asks what will become of him and his crew. Cam says that he will speak to the Queen’s men and ensure that they will be fairly treated.
A harbour clerk approaches and tries to tax the party, but an aged looking Murad talks him down stating they captured a Coorish vessel which is more than enough to cover any taxes. The clerk seems to accept this explanation.
The party intends to head in different directions and agrees to meet at the Journeyman’s Rest Inn and Tavern. Just before they depart, they notice a strange ship with no forecastle anchored a few hundred yards out to sea. They also see that The Walrus is docked not far away from them.
As they begin to leave, they notice a man in flowing white robes awaiting them at the end of the dock. He introduces himself as Delthorne and summons Murad, Quintin, and Rod to the Tower of Stars to stand before Gralius Kurn, High Archmage of the Stars’ Children. The apprentice Desmond will be going with them. Manuel is told that he is expected at the Cathedral of The Benevolent instead, and that he is not required to come with the others. A priestess stands nearby to escort Manuel. Bertom of Cuford has left to meet his fate at the High Cathedral of The Just in the centre of town. Cam, his two guards, Saladin and Yulando go ahead to the Journeyman’s Rest. Tomes Finchey thanks the party once more and scurries off, his large trunk in tow.
As they walk, Quintin asks Delthrone if other members of the Stars’ Children have noticed strange happenings with the use of Ama. He confirms that others have noticed that, sometimes, magical spells seem to consume more Ama than is usual. He is not sure why.
At the Campus of the Academy, they see the Tower of Stars, which soars above them at thirteen stories. Once inside they see a large silver star painted on the floor, and magical images of the 13 constellations floating around the ceiling. Another member, Navin meets them and guides them upstairs. Rod dislikes having to walk up the stairs. At the top, a silver door creates images of each of their faces. It seems to be scanning them.
In the room, the party sees more floating images of constellations, this time of ones not seen in this part of the world. A man, presumably Gralius Kurn, the High Archmage, sits at a desk, writing. He greets them and introduces them to the man standing beside him as Ezekiel. Quintin hands over the letter from Jylium and the fungal rock from the Ulgar. He then goes into excruciating detail about their adventures as Rod nods off. It is noted that Gralius Kurn seems occasionally distracted during the conversation and he admits that he is “in communication” with others.
Kurn explains that it was around the time of the Hundred Year Winter that magic was discovered on Ardia. It was a falling star that caused that cataclysm. It also provided their world with the source of arcane magic. The earliest users of magic knew that it was important to secure control of this source.
He speaks of the purpose of the Stars’ Children. In his mind, their purpose is to be the stewards of the power of magic. They may use it to benefit the people, but above all, they must protect the population from it, as they can’t possibly understand it. It is a source of great power, but it must be used carefully. It is dangerous if not used with caution. Also, this power is finite.
The High Archmage explains that Ama is in short supply. Even those that use arcane magic without Ama, deplete its reserves. For some reason, as yet undetermined, the levels are depleting faster than they can account for. This was happening even before they detected the falling star more than one year ago and has recently accelerated. Higher magics, like changing form and teleportation seem to deplete it the most. There are some within the Stars’ Children that believe that the falling star is necessary to replenish their depleted stores of Ama. Kurn believes that the star is uncontrollable and the destruction that it would cause is not worth the power that it might grant. He does not wish another 100 Year Winter or longer cataclysm on the world. He believes that there is a way to destroy it before it strikes Ardia. Once this is done, they can determine what is depleting the Ama.
Gralius Kurn speaks of the existence of four magical nodes. There is one in northern Lettan, which was discovered hundreds of years ago, but its purpose was unknown until recently. Poring over the ancient texts revealed that this node and three others were built between 100 and 200 years after the discovery of magic. Beside the one in Lettan, there are nodes in the southern reaches of the eastern lands and on Kayemba in an uninhabited area close to the Elven lands (they find out that the strange ship in the harbour is Elven). The fourth node is believed to be somewhere within the northwestern part of the Starbirth Sea. They believe that the nodes were made to prevent another disaster like the one that caused the Hundred Year Winter. If they could be found and used, they might be able to prevent the coming catastrophe. The nodes in the eastern lands and on Kayemba are in the process of being secured.
Kurn tells them that they are assembling a team to take control of the node in Lettan. Originally, the Stars’ Children attempted to negotiate with Archduke Audon to get access to the node. Unfortunately, the node is within the area of the star ore deposits that are the source of Ama as well as the precious mineral adamantium. This is very valuable to the Archduke. Originally, he had agreed to some generous terms in exchange for granting access. However, shortly after, he changed his mind and demanded impossible terms (like demanding that magic be used to fortify his relatively weak military). Debate dragged on within the Stars’ Children on whether to take the node by force. Ultimately, they decided that force was the only course of action. Magical force was considered, but that would have consumed much Ama and the exact location of the node could not be scried – it was being hidden somehow. Attempts to teleport directly were foiled. The involvement of the Children of Zepha was highly suspected.
They decided to present this information to the Queen of Ealdur. After some thought, she gave the order to attack the Lettanni. The thinking was that the Lettanni military was inferior and Audon would soon be forced to come to terms on granting access to the node. But things did not go quite as planned… Ultimately, they have settled on a plan that is less desirable. The current plan is risky – they will have to teleport outside of the area of the node and hike to it. It is believed that it will be heavily guarded.
Despite the challenges that they face with securing the node in Lettan, Kurn needs the group to find the node in the Starbirth Sea. They are to secure it and attempt to activate it. Once all four nodes are activated, the Stars’ Children will attempt to control them from a central location – here in the tower.
Gralius Kurn muses that the war may seem superfluous to all of this. He says that the research of the Stars’ Children and that of the Astronomers’ Guild is critical to being able to use the nodes correctly. If that were to be disrupted by the war, it could be disastrous for the planet. And, of course, they must not lose control of the Tower of Stars. Therefore, it is necessary that they carry out their mission quickly. If they prevent the star from falling, it will mean the eventual end of the Stars’ Children. Let it be their final gift to the people.
Kurn asks if they wish to join this expedition. All agree. They will be granted any reasonable requests for equipment, even magical. They are to see his assistant, Navin, who will tend to their requests. Kurn asks for the two tokens that the group possesses – he wishes to have them studied. They agree to this. He tells Quintin to share the information he has on the history of the West Hanum Islands with Ezekiel, who has been conducting his own research at the Western University. But first, he wishes Quintin to show the High Alchemists his fungal rock. Kurn also asks the party to pay a visit to the Astronomers’ Guild in the next day or so – they are holding something for them. Before they leave, Kurn gives Quintin a small silver stone that can be used to contact him in emergencies.
Quintin and Ezekiel head off to the Laboratory of the High Alchemists. Murad and Rod go to the Journeyman’s Rest Inn. They agree with Cam to wait until the morning to visit the Duke of Cahorn. They enjoy a drink or two together before retiring for the night.
In the morning Cam, Rod, and Murad go to the Duke’s estate where they are told to wait. They overhear the Duke come in and notice his rudeness. He is with another man who addresses him as “father”. The second man takes his leave. The Duke makes the party wait even longer while he ascends to his sitting room. Rod takes it upon himself to “change the water” in a vase filled with fresh-cut flowers. After a while, they are led to the Duke’s room. The Duke neglects to offer refreshments to his guests. He is rather rude to Murad. Cam explains the situation with Governor Darrow and gives the Duke his letter. He agrees to pay most of the balance of the fees owed to the group. Rod does his best to be snarky until Cam introduces him. At that point, the Duke informs Rod of the death of his oldest brother.