Arke

2 Tarsakh (continued) - 5 Tarsakh

ok get ba k to tis latr

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30 Ches - 2 Tarsakh
Tiger tiger burning bright

After all are restored from the weretiger incident, our heroes trek to the portal and pass through to the desert. Adllal easily tracks the air elemental. After some travel, they come upon a group of weretigers crouching behind a rock formation. Virva speaks to the tribe’s leader, Najima, explaining their purpose in the desert. The weretigers invite our heroes to weather the cold desert night in their village.

A petrified forest surrounds the villlage. Najima explains that the forest died around the time of the great battle with the necromancer. The city to the east remains an evil, corrupting place. They swap stories of the undead battle. Virva quietly informs Najima of current events and potential dangers. The party sleeps and heads east in the morning, which happens to be the direction of the air elemental.

They encounter three zombies and a swarm of undead scarabs which focus their attacks on Virva. A small orb hovers above, signifying a scrying spell. Our heroes start to move on but are surprised by a rain of blood that storms in unnaturally fast. The few drops of blood that catch our heroes before they can enter Sayen’s magical hut have a depressing effect. In the morning, they wake to a brown landscape of stinking, sticky, bloody dunes. A small oasis, somehow untouched by the blood rain, stands out. Our heroes head for the oasis.

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29 Ches
Bad kitty kitty

The ship takes port at the island of Majorca. Torbin declares two days of shore leave for his crew. With research on his mind, Phaedrus goes off in search of the island’s wizards. The kraken’s prisoners quickly depart to send messages to their families. The one who was found alone, Zaadi, turns out to be very well connected on Majorca. He quickly obtains fine clothing and offers to show our heroes around the island. With his dashing charisma and adventurous reputation, he makes a lively tour guide and greets everyone he meets. He leads our heroes to the best places to trade goods, and he invites them to spend the night at his merchant friend’s villa.

The merchant and Zaadi, in the custom of the land, push unending food and drink upon the party. Adllal has to be helped to his room when the evening ends. Rooms for each of our heroes and Zaadi are ready and waiting on the second floor of the villa, and they take some welcome rest.

In the middle of the full-mooned night, our heroes awake at the sound of a loud crashing noise. Zaadi’s thick, wooden door was smashed through. Virva rushes to the room to see evidence of a weretiger transformation and yells out a warning. Servants scream and hide in their rooms. Sayen spots movement on the roof. Adllal and Noot soon find the creature rifling through the study. Virva calls out not to hurt him; he’s still Zaadi inside. They manage to catch him before he gets away and knock him out long enough to chain him. During the fight, Sayen uses a magic brooch to protect herself with a blur effect, but a small air elemental flies out. It laughs as it escapes and speeds away, leaving the brooch useless.

While Zaadi himself is not evil, his weretiger form is. Our heroes question him. Zaadi had climbed the island’s mountain, finding a portal and entering it. The desert was on the other side, and as he explored that unexpected destination, he encountered a weretiger and was bitten. He retreated through the portal, not knowing he was afflicted with the condition. Weretiger-Zaadi refers to the desert weretiger as his “father” and expresses his desire to return to the desert to kill him. More urgently, he taunts our heroes with the destructive potential of the escaped elemental. If it runs amok in the desert, it could kill many people as a sandy whirlwind, leaving their bodies for the necromancer to turn into undead. Yes, the necromancer still exists, Weretiger-Zaadi says, though in a diminished form. He encourages our heroes to look outside and see the portal lighted up as a result of the elemental’s passage through the portal, and sure enough, he is correct.

Once they have as much information as possible, Virva removes Zaadi’s lycanthrope affliction, to the great relief and gratitude of both Zaadi and his merchant friend. She inquires of Pelor whether to detour from the current mission, and Pelor directs her to the desert.

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21 - 28 Ches
Out of the deep

Guided by a spell from Phaedrus, Sayen, Noot, Adllal, and Virva swim to the bottom of the sea in pursuit of the kraken. They descend to a graveyard of ships, dragged unwillingly to rest, broken, on the smooth sea floor. Soon they enter the kraken’s lair, with hopes of quietly surprising the monster. As they find it, the kraken completes some kind of interaction with an altar in its cave that imbues it with demonic strength. Its increased strength and fiery eye surprise our heroes, and the fight begins badly for them. Finally they destroy the altar, and swiftly thereafter the kraken itself. Virva recognizes the altar’s false diety as the demon prince Yeathan, who poses as god of the evil depths.

Swimming through the caverns, our heroes find seven human prisoners of the kraken, living (barely) in pockets of air. One of them is alone and shaking in a cage full of dismembered corpses. They all express amazement; they never imagined they would be rescued from this deep, evil place. Once they have all been blessed with the ability to breathe underwater, they swim slowly up to the surface. Sayen signals the Bestendige ship to retrieve them. The rescued prisoners gratefully eat and sleep.

Torbin is delighted to learn about all the sunken ships and the kraken’s treasure. The dwarves take it on themselves to retrieve all of the valuables the following morning, and the journey resumes midday. The rest of the voyage to Majorca is uneventful.

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13 - 20 Ches
All roads lead to calamari

Sayen, Adllal, Noot, and Virva
The Bestendige clan warmly welcome their friends on board their ship, and they prepare to swiftly depart Menderes. Noot’s brother Torbin, the captain, plans to cut through deep water to shorten the journey, and he expects a fifteen-day voyage. The deep waters skirt the danger zone of the Great Sea, but the ship will stay clear. Everyone finds a way to help on the ship by the time it sets sail. The first stop will be Katala, port town on the island of Majorca.

After a week, the seas get rough and unnatural. Compelled by evil magic, a dark storm approaches unnaturally quickly. Everyone on board hastens to fasten down anything that might come loose in the high wind and waves.

Phaedrus
Travelling on foot, Phaedrus comes across a group of tough ruffians kicking violently at a small person in the middle of a bridge. He uses a sphere of power to toss the ruffians all into the river below. The battered gnome gets up and invites Phaedrus to his home. He turns out to be a member of the Wayfarer’s Guild, formerly of the Arcane Order. Phaedrus finds out a bit more about Mim. “The Vagabond” was so named by the celestials. Another of his names is “The Wayward.” The gnome believes that cataclysms occur cyclically over the course of history, and Mim’s survival may mean he is out of sync with the natural order and the gods. Mim has visited the first temple of Pelor on a mountain in heavenly Elysium.

When asked about the navigational device, the gnome says he has one of his own for navigating the Astral Plane, but who would use it for destruction, and destroy their own ship? The next morning, Phaedrus wakes to find a note, signed only with the Wayfarer’s symbol: “You don’t get to be a 200-year-old wizard without being able to recognize someone in trouble.” With it, scrolls of Locate Object and Locate Creature and an amulet await him. The Amulet of Non-Detection will make Phaedrus appear to be on another plane. The mysterious gnome is nowhere to be found. Phaedrus opens the front door and finds himself in the library of the Arcane Order.

He spends time researching in the library, finding that his amulet allows him to slip unnoticed into the restricted section. Having learned enough, he finds fellow wizards to help him teleport to the location of his friends.

Reunited Just in Time
Phaedrus appears in mid-air and plops down onto the deck of the ship. With barely enough time for a hasty greeting, the worst of the danger appears. Adllal calls out from the crow’s nest that a yellow, squid-like sea monster has appeared in the water, just as a huge tentacle wallops the ship. The dwarves yell, “KRAKEN!” and prepare the ballista. Phaedrus and Virva find themselves a bit seasick, and soon many of the crew fall overboard due to the deep angle of the deck.

Still on his feet, Adllal leaps lightly to attack the kraken’s head. Virva transforms into a celestial warrior, growing wings and radiating great divine strength. Staying out of the kraken’s sight, she flies over the waterlogged dwarves and all of her friends, imparting to them the ability to breathe underwater. Noot attacks with her axe; she and Adllal are sever a number of the grabbing arms and tentacles. Virva dives down from above, attempting to smite the creature on the head. Sayen with her music and Phaedrus with his magic do what they can to turn the tide.

Finally, after several tries, the dwarves score a severe blow directly to the monster’s single eye. With the deeply embedded ballista still protruding from its ocular organ, the kraken gives up the fight. It releases its grip and disappears under an enormous ink cloud.

While many adventurers and sailors would simply count themselves lucky to be alive, with an intact ship to boot, our heroes are not satisfied. They desire to follow the giant yellow squid to its very lair, defeating it and preventing future ships from destruction. The hardy dwarves are delighted and agree to help track it down the next day.

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6 - 12 Ches
Twenty questions

The Bey of Apala calls our heroes to meet with him and Vanzan. They discuss a crystal spindle, part of the same apparatus that they retrieved a piece of from the wraith’s lair. Mim had taken the other piece away. The spindle magically indicates the direction to the remaining pieces. Three pieces are generally in the direction of Mim, at the Arcane Order’s tower. (Directions to the pieces: west, northwest, northeast, east, and southwest.)

Vanzan believes someone with the wrong motives now seeks to claim the device. He and the Bey encourage our heroes to collect all eight pieces before someone else can. It has incredible power, imbued by the gods. The party discusses whether the mission is for the best. Wouldn’t it be better to keep the pieces separated, or to destroy this one now? What are Mim’s motives? Phaedrus can’t accept that his kind teacher has evil motives or that he could be unintentionally causing evil.

Virva seeks guidance from Pelor through divination:
Should we put the device back together? “You may save and destroy the world.”
Should we destroy the spindle? “It can not be destroyed.”

The party meditates on the choice before them. Virva visits her Papa to find out what he can tell her about Mim. (He doesn’t know him well, but thinks highly of Mim for fighting the necromancer at great personal cost.)

Over the next few days, Virva continues to divine Pelor’s will and wisdom:
Can the spindle be brought to the heavens? “It can not return.”
Can it be used for good? “Unparalled good.”
Should we contact Mim? “The Vagabond can not be trusted.”
Should we hide it? “. . . No.”
Should we go to Valencia? “That’s a good start.”
(Augury) Is there a better path? “Weal and woe.”
Should we do more to prepare ourselves? “Irrelevant.”
Should we travel with Noot’s family? “They are good and honorable companions. Yes.”

Meanwhile, Phaedrus does what research he can about Mim:
Mim’s history has no overt evil in it. He advises nations, and they prosper, rarely committing great evil. Mim quit advising Koth when the draconic cult took over. Phaedrus finds a possible reference to The Vagabond pre-dating the Great Cataclysm. That was over 300 years ago, and it is thought that nothing survived.

Phaedrus decides to part ways to avoid direct contact with Mim. The rest of the party finalizes plans secretly, and Phaedrus creates some scrolls to help them.

On 11 Ches, Phaedrus and the rest of the party depart, going separate ways to the sea port Menderes. They all travel uneventfully through 12 Ches.

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15 Nightal - Ches 5
Shoo-bop, uh-oh, those winter nights

Our heroes stay in Illyria for the winter. After receiving a vision, Vanzan in dragon form declares Lord Oremis king. He later knights the heroes during the midwinter festival.

Phaedrus departs with Mim for the Arcane Order. Adllal, Sayen, Noot, and Virva travel to Apala and spend time with friends.

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12 - 14 Nightal
Party SMASH

Our heroes travel back to Vanzan’s lair. He meets them, and they depart together the next morning for Nazilli. Arriving the next day, they find the battle after several days of fighting. Things are not looking good for Izmir; the troops are demoralized, and a rear-flanking enemy force has not been detected. Trolls and ogres fight alongside Koth with unusual gusto. All of the enemy forces seem to be acting with extraordinary coordination.

The heroes rush to the command center, spreading cheer and information to the troops on the way. Sayen sings, and all spread words of encouragement. At the keep, Vanzan stays with Oremis, and Phaedrus joins the heroes as they return to the battlefield. They join up with a group of soldiers under the cover of buildings. Sayen goes with them to create an ice bridge to allow them to cross the river and attack an opposing force. She stays to reinforce the troops, while the others, under cover of invisibility, sneak around to the forest above.

Scouts wait in the forest to guide them quickly through. They have crossed half of the distance from the forest to the wizard’s camp when troops suddenly head them off and go to reinforce the enemy’s command center. Concerned but undaunted, our heroes continue to their destination. After some spells to strengthen themselves, they approach the camp. Phaedrus creates a dangling rope at the edge of the cliff, which allows the party to quickly swing around the spiky barrier to arrive without notice. A sentry does hear something during this process and eventually takes a swing at Noot, which glances off her shield with a clang, confirming the heroes’ presence.

They slip through the camp quickly, avoiding the guards, and safely reach the wizard’s tent. Slicing an entrance through the back of the tent affords them a surprise entry with mixed results. Noot’s first charge disperses the illusion of the wizard. Then the wizard appears on the other side of the tent, blurred by some spell. Noot and Virva, even with magically increased size, beat on him with difficulty. They knock over the table, blocking the usual entrance. Once the wizard finds himself pinned, he teleports away.

The heroes leave the tent by the way they came. They hear yelling on the other side, and a rain of ice falls, hurting them and destroying the tent. Charging ahead straight over the remains of the tent, Virva and Noot smash him. His death releases the magic holding the enemy’s unnatural allies together. The Kothian guards start to make a stand, but when they see what has happened to their side, they surrender. Izmiran troops quickly clean up the stragglers.

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8 - 11 Nightal
Ice cools; fire rules

Virva provides food for all, as promised, and purifies the stored food to boot. She and Sayen entertain the giants, telling stories and playing with the kids. Virva prepares her spells earlier than usual so that the party may break through the ice while the giants are sleeping. A sphere of silence and the darkness provide adequate stealth for Adllal to unbar the front door and slip away with several of The Jarl’s treasures. The party proceeds to the ice wall, where Virva is forced to step outside the sphere of silence to speak the spell that creates a tunnel through the ice. The party hurries through, but a quick mending of the ice does not prevent the giants from discerning the escape route.

As the heroes turn to face the room beyond, they see a glass enclosure, looking out into the lake, as this place is under water level. The magnificent view proves less interesting than the enormous chunk of ice in the middle of the chamber. Something gold lies within. Virva immediately jumps to conclusions and hurries to break through the ice to free the golden dragon. Noot thinks to examine the magical orb from The Jarl’s necklace. Virva joins in and discovers the orb can create or dismiss ice. She immediately utters the command word. Ice virtually explodes through the chamber as the golden dragon bursts out. He glances at the awe-struck heroes and immediately heads for the giants. Crashing through the ice before the giants can even end their attempts to break through, the fierce dragon is all claws and jaws and fire until every last one is dead. He returns, exhausted, to the glass chamber.

The dragon is in fact Vanzan, as suspected. He thanks the heroes for freeing him and tells them all they need to know about Nidhogrym, the white dragon who has been terrorizing Nazilli. They all rest for the night and the next day, and Vanzan continues to answer questions. His years-long imprisonment has left him weak, so he cannot yet travel. The next morning, he meets us in his half-elf form and sends the heroes on their way.

A day of travel brings them to Nidhogrym’s lair, a huge iceberg in a lake. She knows they are coming and has been waiting. Once the heroes explore the lair, they hear wings beating, and hear her taunting voice. Ice wall defenses and cautious tactics prevent the heroes from being overcome by Nidhogrym. They defeat her, and her last mocking words are, “You are so stupid . . . They’ll get you.”

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7 Nightal, Evening
Study time

The giants all live in an iced over room, except for the chief, known as The Jarl. He sleeps in his own room with an unbelievably large bed. A study full of ruined books boards our heroes this night. A couch provides ample space for all of them. Adllal notices there are two passages beyond the five foot thick ice in the common sleeping area for the 18 adults and 10 children.

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