Ferros

Darkness in Selindion, Episode 1
It's spooooky

Twilight Sparkle told the team that the Book of Exalted Deeds was to be found in the small village of Selindion in the forests of Calisaele. They traveled and began to investigate. The town looked normal enough, but Rom smelled fear in the townsfolk. Despite their fear, they spoke readily of how people had been disappearing at night for the past two weeks. They traveled to the first house, haunted by a powerful wraith. Yasuo cleverly thought to speak with the poltergeist with a Luigi board. The being spoke of its master, Lyvax: he who waits in the shadows and steals the breath of your soul, he who reaches into your chest and crushes your heart while you feel the cold and fear of the grave, he who lives in dark, creepy places and looks suspiciously like General Grievous. Anyway, Toby realized they could exorcise the wraith and then smash it in the name of Manny, may he smash forever for we lift up our axes to the Blessed One to give him thanks and ask for his blessing in smashing our enemies and doors which stand in our way.

After that little excursion, Team RYVN had a nice dinner with the Mayor, who continued to reveal the backstory. They were slightly interrupted by some undead eating people’s souls again, the result of a careless Lyvax sending his minions out too early. The team arrived in time to save the parents, but the wraiths had already consumed the children. Niachi tracked them down to a crypt in the forest where they burst in on Lyvax bathing in the blood of the unborn with bubblegum-scented bubblebath. He was slightly upset, particularly when Niachi somehow used his weird Cantus powers to move the darkness away (which is getting some real mechanics and possibly nerfing, btw). They fought some bad guys and Yasuo blasted the shadows. Rom stood at the entrance to the crypt and looked scary while Valorie and Jill played whack-a-mole with the wraiths (a surprisingly good tactic). Lyvax escape, much to the frustration of the team, but his darkness still hangs over Selindion like a really big cloud of ominous doom which defies normal weather patterns causing massive thunderstorms to the east and west as it breaks up warm fronts coming from Jeberra.

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Shardenon's Sphere, Episode 3
Secrets and Faith

Having found the incomplete scroll for Shardenon’s Sphere, the mystery gang scoured the dungeon for the remaining Cantus gems. On the east side they destroyed a few statues and found various pieces of treasure and a sinister trap. In an adjacent room sat a fancy bed, dresser, and nightstand. At first it appeared quite innocuous, but then Titus looked under the bed. Hearing a scream, Rom entered the room to find it empty, until he looked under the bed. Yasuo followed, also looking under the bed. Niachi decided to wander in a different direction and activated a magical bomb, found some treasure, and a puzzle. Toby took a look in the creepy bedroom, saw nothing, and decided to hide from the bomb.

In the meantime, the three who had been taken found themselves in strange situations. Titus was now in a place of shadows made real, with haunting eyes glowing in the dark fog. Rom appeared to be on a gray plain with the world of Ferros floating in the night sky above and Sartra glowing nearby. And Yasuo found himself on a boat with a madman who began to sing as the boat sped through a tunnel full of violent hallucinations. Then he plane shifted away and promptly began to burn the bed, which screamed with an unearthly wail. Titus roamed the darkness, taking power from Nyx to resist the shadows. Eventually he found a magic circle. It was solid-ish, but he passed through to examine the other side, which turned out to be a large featureless plane of shadows and grays. He returned to the magic circle to examine and eventually break it, sending him through a howling vortex and back to the group. In the meantime, Niachi and Toby had found a wand of lightning bolt and a Lesser Rod of Quicken (metamagic) as well as a missing gem. Yasuo had torched the bed and killed the creature. They waited for Rom, but when he didn’t return they moved on.

On the other side of the dungeon they found a similar layout. Some statues, a creepy bedroom (which they ignored) and a puzzle. There was also a magic circle of death, but everyone just stepped around it until Toby scraped the paint away. As they waited for Rom they found the remaining gems and a ring of swimming (it wasn’t very exciting).

Rom wandered the gray surface. The only defining feature was a large hill and on top of that hill he found a small crystal. Taking it removed the veil protecting him and he was forced into his hybrid form. He wandered then, trying to reach the blue orb in the sky which he thought to be the Soulvoid, the home of Allistiel. But when he couldn’t reach it, he began to pray. The light of Allistiel came forth and embraced the crystal, but Rom didn’t understand what it meant. After further meditation and prayers of intercession offered on his behalf, the Blessed Manny spoke one word to him, “Smash.” Realizing his duty, he crushed the crystal and found himself transported back to the dungeon in a heap of clanking armor.

The party reunited, they placed the remaining gems into the western door, but were disappointed to find that it led to the same magic circle the other one had. The team left the dungeon and, two days later, arranged an appointment with the dean of the school. The dean revealed that the college had known about the scroll the whole time and that they maintained the dungeon as a test for prospective professors. Obtaining the scroll meant an offer of employment. But to maintain the illusion of secrecy and specialization about the whole affair, the college had sworn every member of the faculty and most of the town to absolute secrecy. Instead of telling the truth, all everyone would ever say was that the only copy of Shardenon’s Sphere was lost, stolen by Zidane (who was probably unfairly maligned for this). To maintain the secrecy, the dean swore the team to the same oath, but offered to give them a deal: the key to the spell in exchange for 100 farmers and mentors in Cantus from the dragons. High Father Titus signed the deal and gave it to Wilhelm to work on.

The party was nearly done. They shopped around for some adamantine and some diamonds to resurrect the Blessed Manny, but before they could return to their plane, they were intercepted by an angel of Elohim. The angel brought them to Celestia to face St. Kinover Olxanis. There he charged them with defeating Ur-Lord Vespa to restore the light to Ominia and with finding the Book of Exalted Deeds. Apparently, the actions of the Wyrd had rendered the gods nearly powerless to affect the world. Even the saints were being blocked, though the power and strength of the gods was still being siphoned away somehow. In addition to the quests above, St. Olxanis charged the Resistance of Manny to continue to spread the faith and inspiration of the Blessed Manny so that he might gain enough power to rival Lachesis. Niachi and Titus agreed right away and Yasuo agreed after seeing that the Saint worked for the Seamstress. But to convince Rom and Toby, St. Olxanis summoned his brother in duty, St. Salazar Sarvolis of Allistiel. St. Sarvolis reassured the paladin that by spreading the word of Manny he was helping Allistiel and would not be punished (provided he didn’t go overboard). With these reassurances, St. Olxanis gave the party a final gift: a fragment of the Zohar to use in freeing Ominia. The party returned to Jik’ton with new power and purpose: to find the Book of Exalted Deeds!

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Shardenon's Sphere, Episode 2
Knowledge: Dungeoneering

Down into Syd’s dungeon went Team RVYN. There they found several gems representing the Cantus elements and various puzzles, several broken. After one such puzzle (which was solved by breaking it even further) they found a room with slots for six of the Cantus gems. They continued exploring the dungeon, coming to another entrance and the guardians therein. The party briefly split and eventually they came to a second room with Cantus slots. Pretty soon they found enough gems to fill one of the rooms and it opened to reveal a corridor leading down to a large teleportation circle. The party rested before going down, feeling rather safe.

Once rested, Valorie identified the purpose of the circle as an elevator leading to the floor below. It took them to a large domed room guarded by several magic circles. In the center was a golden dome of force with runes and arcane figures whirling around it. Inside the dome was only dark smoke that no eyes could penetrate. Around the room were placed seven doors and inside each one was a scroll on a dais guarded by a magic circle. Each room possessed a different effect, some requiring more effort to bypass than others. Upon retrieving the seven scrolls, the party quickly deduced that the spells on the scrolls were representative of the spells needed to dispel the golden sphere. Valorie took an hour to prepare herself and began casting the spells in the order of the doors. Sure enough, with each casting one of the magic circles on the golden sphere was broken. With the final cast, the sphere fell to reveal an awesome crystal dais and a scroll of silk bound with platinum.

The scroll was unusual. It was a copy of Shardenon’s Sphere, but it was incomplete. The scroll said that to obtain the activation key, one needed to speak to the Dean of the College. The team debated whether to return to town or to search the dungeon for the remaining gems and eventually decided on the latter.

Also Yasuo has a creature of shadow-stuff clinging to him.

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Shardenon's Sphere, Episode 1
Search and Discovery

After defeating the beholder of Lady Thatcher, Team RYVN took to the skies. They paused a moment to drop off Tharsus with his contact in Aventurine and then proceeded back to Jik’ton. There, they debriefed with Sister Elone, explaining that they were successful in rescuing Joss Arroway and infiltrating Aventurine, but were discovered in the process. She congratulated them and left them to ponder their next quest. In the meantime, Titus took the child he had rescued, William to see Amoss. She couldn’t explain what was wrong but the Axalted sensed great evil and so she suggested they speak with Serpent Kindar, a priest of the goddess Shiarn. He placed a truth spell on the child and Titus began questioning him, but the malevolent spirit within William’s mirror resisted their attempts to learn the truth and laughed in their faces. In desparation he wrenched the mirror away from the boy and the priests sealed it away. The act protected the party from the spirit, but caused William to fall into a deep coma. Meanwhile, Romulus spoke with Father Arroway about attempting to resurrect the Blessed Manny. Father Arroway was doubtful, but said he would try if they brought him half a pound of high quality diamond.

Eventually the party decided to search for the Scroll of Ultimate Protection, an item Twilight Sparkle had heard about in her studies. Valorie and Toby began some research in the Library of Sarah and discovered that the Scroll was to be found somewhere on the elemental plane of Earth, Terrax. The party asked Father Arroway to cast a gate and he sent them to the city of Fong Lei. They were greeted by a welcomer and found lodgings. From there each of the team sought information in their own way: Rom and Toby went to the public library, Titus spoke with the local bards, Valorie went to the mage’s college, and Niachi wandered the streets with a cat-priest of Nagel Navari. In their own ways, each of them, except for Niachi, discovered that the Scroll of Ultimate Protection is really Shardenon’s Sphere, a powerful defensive spell created by the great Abjurer Shardenon.

Shardenon was a wizard who had died 150 years ago. During his lifetime he specialized in Abjurations, spells of protection. His original thesis had been on the applications and variants of the magic circle spells. His magnum opus was Shardenon’s Sphere, but he supposedly kept the spell a secret. He eventually founded the School of Abjurations in Fong Lei and trained many wizards before he died. Before his death, he bequeathed a number of copies of his spell to various important people. One went to the school, but it was later stolen by the legendary thief, Zidane. Another went to Shardenon’s good friend, Sydsylvis, who was a warlock with powers of incarnum. Supposedly Syd built a dungeon to protect his treasures so that anyone who sought his power would have to prove his worth. If he had kept his scroll, the Bei Fong Keep is where it would be. Unfortunately, no one in town seemed to know where the keep was, and it showed up on no maps. Examining the maps closer, however, Titus discovered that a nearby area was mysteriously unexplored. He deduced that must be where the scroll was, and the party set out.

The rented a tunnel carriage, a long armored vehicle suited for transport through the tunnels of Terrax, and began the trek. Two days later they entered the unknown section of map and new tunnels. By mid-afternoon they had spotted brick walls in the tunnel, which led to a cliff above a keep set deep in a cavern. They parked the carriage and descended (mostly carefully). Inside the keep they found statues of lizardfolk which became animated when provoked. The party was surprised, but only slightly and briefly deterred. Niachi and Titus went out to scout, being careful not to touch the statues. The former encountered a mimic and found a gem of fire, while the latter ventured deep into the keep. There he found a gem of lightning and deposited a treasure: the box containing the sealed spirit in William’s mirror. The party has already faced traps such as a room of zorite mirrors which reflected magic, and a room that cast rays of fire in every direction. What other secrets and tricks lie in wait within the Bei Fong keep? And what of the Scroll of Shardenon’s Sphere?

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Prison Break
NOPE.

After enjoying the ball, the party entered the prison. They began by splitting up with Niachi and Yasuo entering the barracks up top while the others tried to enter through the main door. This was quite successful until Yasuo played his hand too early and alerted nine guards to his presence. He went and hid while Niachi and Titus explored the facility. Chasing Yasuo, the guards came downstairs to engage the rest of the party. The battle lasted for nearly half a minute as they slowly eliminated the upstairs guards. Strangely, they didn’t find anyone else in the prison until the basement where one guard stood watching a doorway.

The party followed Niachi downstairs to the single person cells. Several were occupied but not many of the inmates were talkative save the man in there for excessive public singing. As they traveled further in, the inmates became more and more worrisome. An insane man moaning about the whispers, a girl huddled to the side laughing to herself, a boy with a mirror that glows to those with arcane sight. This last one caught Titus’ eye and he tried to speak with the child, William. William was in there for murder. He wouldn’t say who, just that he needed to protect Alice. Valorie later explained that Alice was the favored saint of Echoe and had had a pet dream. When she vanished long ago, the dream had remained and tried to find her, resulting in the history of Lyrise. Valorie couldn’t explain how William was related, though, so Titus kept a close watch on her.

The last part of the prison was kept under an antimagic field. It was in here that Niachi found Joss Arroway and a dragonkin named Tharsus. He freed both, but Father Arroway berated Rom and Tobias for coming to get him. Bewildered, they began to proceed out when they heard guards coming. They attempted to hide in an empty cell and teleport, but the prison was dimensionally locked. Unable to escape so easily, they hid behind an illusory wall and waited for a chance to ambush the guards. With invisible ninjas, they quickly pushed the approaching guards back upstairs and made a run for it, but their escape was cut off. Outside, Lady Thatcher had appeared with several more guards surrounding the entrance. Wasting little time, she took blood from a nearby servant girl and began a summoning ritual.

The party attempted to stop her, but she managed to succeed in summoning a great beholder, who looked upon the group with its antimagic eye as Thatcher’s paladins began their attack. The antimagic alone drove Toby, Tharsus, and Joss back into hiding. Rom and Titus were quickly caught up in the fight, but Niachi scampered off, brushing past the enemies with barely an effort. He climbed a nearby building and leapt onto the beholder, stabbing it with his lightning-bolting sword. Fortunately, the blood ritual had bound it to focus its antimagic eye on the group, leaving it open to attack by the invisible Niachi and his mysterious powers of darkness. Once the beast fell, the powered-up party members made short work of the remaining paladins. Lady Thatcher was nowhere to be seen, so the group opened up the boat and flew off to relative safety with Tharsus, William, and Father Arroway.

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The Ball
A Morality Play

The party, now Team RVYN (and maybe Titus?), flew their cheap-ass boat to Lyrise with a huge golem trailing behind. After arguing about the best way to fly over uninhabited airspace, they landed outside of Aventurine and teleported inside. The mission was to break out Elder Joss Arroway, cleric of Allistiel, from prison. Valorie and Yasuo began by wandering the town and taking a look at the prison, noting that it was guarded very lightly but seemed to be built extremely sturdily. Rom, Toby, and Niachi wandered the city aimlessly. Terry decided to get a tailored suit made, which would take a few days, but he bitched about it until he got it ready the next day. Kaden didn’t want to be left out and bitched until Blitzcrank got a suit too, even though it would take more time. Chris and Alex zoned out and missed the part when Terry joked about a ball. Kaden and Terry argued about the ball and I made a crack about Blitzcrank doing a tap dance routine. That sent Chris into hysterics and got his and Alex’s attention long enough for them to hear about the ball and start freaking out because no one had told them.

Because of that, an invitation was sent to Titus from the Marquis de Sade to attend a ball. And everyone decided to join in.

They got all frilled up and spent lots of gold buying fancy outfits. Jacob did the best job. Niachi, meanwhile, was invited to speak with a cleric of Savannah. She gave him an item and information about the prison, along with instructions to break out a friend of theirs. After that, they went to the ball. There were lots of potentially important people there whom the characters refused to speak to, aside from the Marquis, of course. At the ball he revealed that he wanted to ask Titus about a small business proposal regarding Prime Meridian Travels. Then Lady Thatcher arrived: a battlemaiden sent as a representative of Ur-Lord Sithern. She spoke to each of the characters in a polite, but threatening manner, calling out Valorie and Rom & Toby for being divine casters and offered them a chance to join her mistress and the Wyrd. Rom was sorely tempted, but eventual arguments from his allies convinced him it was a bad idea. The experience gave Valorie an idea for a spell, however, and she spent the next three days working on one. Then Toby took another three days to finish up a spell of his own.

During this time, Wilhelm met with Titus, Hirzon, and Amoss in the past and roleplayed the formation of the Resistance of Manny. Titus had asked to speak with Wilhelm and offered him a deal: join the resistance, give a share of the company to Titus, and be able to keep existing. Wilhelm told him off, but then accepted the deal on his own terms: Prime Meridian Travels was to become a subsidiary of the resistance and Titus would gain a substantial non-controlling share in the company. He accepted, even though he didn’t have to push for it. Hirzon and Amoss agreed to take on the company as it would give them a pre-existing network across the world and a nearly-complete treaty with the dragons. Finally, Wilhelm suggested they transform their resistance from a guerilla movement into a religion. Hirzon jumped on the idea, realizing that it would be fighting the Wyrd on their own terms.

After all that, people negotiated mechanics for salients and spells for at least a half-hour. Then, with a cone of fire from Yasuo and a flamestrike from Valorie, they began the assault on the prison.

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Resistance, Episode 2
Lomasi

Once Twilight Sparkle had completed the enchanting of the boat, Team RYNN examined their quest log carefully. Romulus knew of a cleric of great power, His Holiness Joss Arroway of Allistiel, who might be able to cast true resurrection to return the Blessed Manny to life. The cleric was last seen among the evacuees of a certain temple. So, ignoring the quest log provided to them, Team RYNN left for the Astral Plane to look for the evacuated temple. It took a few moments to gain their bearings in the place, but they eventually figured out a direction to fly in.

After fighting off some roaming Antitheses, they came across a small island with a tumble-down cottage. There wasn’t much inside, but a certain chest detected magical. Opening it they found a small creature shrouded in a black cloud. It claimed to be helpful and called itself Nyx. It didn’t appear to be evil and it said it could help by revealing things to be as they truly were, but only if it were allowed to merge with a host. High Father Titus volunteered for the task, testing its powers privately. The group continued onward.

A day or so later they arrived at the evacuation point. Tobias and Romulus bartered with Father Sydsylvis for a night’s stay and for assistance. Unfortunately he revealed that Joss Arroway had been taken by the Wyrd not long after Zerstorung in an evacuation attempt. He gave them coordinates in the Lurecia Archipelago, coincidentally the same region Lomasi had been last seen. A quick plane shift and some fancy boat flying and Team RYNN found the remains of the temple. It was abandoned and many areas were blocked off by boards or rubble. The team split up to investigate, but as they looked around they were periodically confronted by mysterious floating eyes whose gazes seemed to absorb the weak-minded. None of the party fell trick to that, but the eyes disappeared when confronted or hid behind illusions of walls and terrifying phantoms. No one was hurt, but their efforts to figure it out were stymied by sudden noises and clamor from the surrounding forest. At first one, then two, then three dragons seemed to appear by magic surrounding the area.

The team split up to confront the dragons. Titus and Romulus chose to go in swords swinging, while Niachi stayed behind to provide ranged support from the temple. Yasuo was the only one to consider talking to them, but the dragon had little to say other than the Council had decided to eliminate the Resistance. Yasuo didn’t believe him but upon attacking, it turned out that the dragon was mere illusion. Romulus and Tobias figured it out just as quickly, while Titus needed a bit of help. Realizing it might all be a trap, they regrouped at the temple, but everything was quiet. The illusory dragons dismissed themselves in a shower of sparks and the party decided to search the ruins more thoroughly. Yasuo was rather bored by the experience and wandered downstairs while the rest of the team explored the outside and second floor. They quickly determined the temple had been the site of a rebel base of sorts and it had been taken by a great battle arriving from the southeast. Yasuo, in the meantime, was cornered by the three eye creatures in the basement. They attempted to bring him down with fear-based illusions, but he overcame their weak attacks. The eyes grew angry and morphed into large beasts of light with sharp, stabbing legs. Yasuo let out a telepathic cry for help but as the party arrive, he finished all three of them off with an icy blast. They finished poking around the basement, but never found more than a few gold and some scrolls. There was no sign of Joss Arroway.

With no clues to go on, they spent the night. In the morning, Tobias called upon Allistiel to commune with him. Even though he said it seemed to be a rough connection, he got through to an angel in robes of the moon. Through a series of questions, he determined that Joss Arroway was being held in a prison in Aventurine, capital city of Lyrise. With this information, they went into town to look for Lomasi, a druid on their quest list. No one knew who she was, but the Resistance wanted her. The Lurecia Archipelago only held one major city so they began their search there. The locals knew who she was, but didn’t seem real keen on giving the party an audience right away. RYNN was about to settle in for a wait when a set of strange bells rang out. The townspeople suddenly became very nervous and began to hurry away to the temples for some sort of worship services for the Lord of Fate.

The party met up at one of the temples. Niachi hid on the roof and Yasuo disguised himself as a townsperson. Rom, Tobias, and Valorie stuck closely together. The priest began with praise for the Lord of Fate, He who measures and cuts the threads, Great and Holy Lachesis, and began to preach how Lachesis and the Wyrd had uplifted the masses out of ignorance and divine slavery and granted them freedom. To demonstrate this, he asked for candidates for a baptism and held up a vial of black liquid. The guards selected a young lady and she was escorted up to the lectern, her face terrified. As the priest began his baptism, Niachi shot the vial from his hands and Yasuo appeared to transform into a bear. The crowd panicked and the corruption spilled well away from the girl. Valorie teleported herself, Rom, and Toby away while Yasuo and Niachi forced the church open to allow the people to flee the terror.

Outside, Yasuo flew off to the town hall to try and find Lomasi while Niachi’s sword blasted the guards with lightning. An assassin appeared, but Niachi evaded his half-hearted attempt and quickly forced him into a standoff. A moment later, the priest interrupted with a hostage and demanded to see the ninja. Niachi complied and they spoke, Niachi throwing the priest’s words about freedom back in his face as he held the girl hostage. The priest demanded information, but Niachi proposed a different deal: drop the girl or get another blast of lightning. The priest refused, the lightning blasted, and the assassin struck. Yasuo, flying back to help out, saw the ninja falter, but he resisted the death attack, jumping back and sending arrows into the assassin to knock him off the roof. Below the girl somehow avoided the worst of the lightning and ran. The guards began to follow, but Yasuo swooped in and teleported her away. With the priest’s only ranged piece off the table, he let them go and the two fled back to the ship.

As they returned, Rom, Toby, and Valorie had been making their way back into town. Yasuo’s report convinced them to turn and run to the ship, but Jill, Valorie’s dinosaur companion, paused to catch a ferret. She wouldn’t say anything other than it was Valorie’s boss, and ran to the ship. Upon arriving, she let the ferret go and it scampered to the helm and demanded to be taken a point just outside of town. Not knowing how close the Wyrd’s soldiers were, Valorie complied and flew the ship away to a tall tree to pick up a gorilla. As the ship flew away, the ferret returned to her normal shape and introduced herself as Lomasi, sister of the Blessed Manny.

The trip back to Jik’ton was uneventful. Lomasi spoke with Team RYNN about their pasts. She talked about herself a little, but ever since they had said they were part of the Resistance of Manny, she refused to speak about her brother. Ashley, the girl they had rescued, grew somewhat fond of Tobias. Upon arriving in Jik’ton, she was given prompt healing and purification by Twilight. High Father Hirzon had words of praise for their dual success and granted them a small amount of time off. Yasuo worked to finish his astral construct Blitzclank (whom he had to subsequently register with the local government and obtain insurance for from Wilhelm). Niachi took the time to learn about his mysterious powers of darkness. A local interfaith parson informed him it was a blessing Cantus, granted by the draconic goddess of darkness, Savannah. He gave the ninja a letter of passage to allow him to obtain a registration with the local government and entrance into the secretive Temple of Savannah. There he spent several days learning the basics of controlling his abilities and the doctrines of Lady Savannah.

Finally, as the party readied themselves for the assault on the prison, High Father Hirzon called them in for an audience with St. Amoss. There, Romulus revealed he was a sanctified werewolf—a lycanthrope who had been turned to good by Joss Arroway. In the spirit of things, and since St. Amoss was there, Yasuo revealed that he was the brother of Ur-Lord Sid and had been brought here by the Seamstress to stop Sid. St. Amoss used the Axalted to confirm that both were good in nature and their pasts had been forgiven. The party was mostly unfazed. Lomasi was moved by this and explained her real role in things. Already she had been confirmed as a Sister in the faith and would probably be elevated even higher, being the sister of the Blessed Manny. She was nervous about the role, but found a kindred spirit in Yasuo who was also the sibling of a kinda-god-like person (albeit an evil one). With everything out on the table, Team RYNN got some supplies from Twilight and took flight for Aventurine.

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Resistance, Episode 1
New Recruits

Six months passed since the events of Fools Rush In and Zerstorung. The survivors of the Black Company have formed the Resistance of Manny on Kal’renth, in the port city of Jik’ton. The deal with the dragons is that the group may stay and operate on Kal’renth in exchange for running missions for the dragons and for defending the city. Their own tasks were to oppose the Wyrd through infiltration, recruiting, and rescuing.

It had been Sister Elone’s turn to scout out recruits. She’d been watching temples, too and had found a boatload: Romulus “Rom” Lycaon and his companion Tobias Talbot, Niachi, Yasuo Iusti, and Valorie. These hardened adventurers had, for a variety of reasons found Sister Elone and now accompanied her to Jik’ton. There, High Father Titus met them at the docks and accompanied them to dinner. There, he and High Father Hirzon questioned the newbies about their lives and motivations. The dinner didn’t reveal much but each of the acolytes received a chance to speak with HFrs. Titus or Hirzon and were accepted into the Resistance. In the morning, they met for vespers and witnessed St. Amoss, who gave them each a blessing with Axalted. With this official introduction into the Resistance, they began to prepare for their quests.

For magical support, the Resistance had previously enlisted the help of Twilight Sparkle, now a Sister and good friend of HFr. Hirzon. Sister Twilight introduced herself to the party and offered them assistance in item crafting and enchantment. They promptly replied with requesting a magical flying boat. Again. Seriously this is the third airship this group has gone through, but since they can’t teleport it’s no big deal except that it will take a month to prepare. Normally this would be a problem, but as the Wyrd has no intention of letting Kal’renth go without trouble, the group found themselves enlisted in the defense of the city pretty quickly and their mettle tested by combat multiple times.

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Fools Rush In:
Where angels fear to tread

The Black Company had finished saving Castle Corbinec and obtained the Rod of Zidane. One by one they met with Prince Lohengrin to receive their reward. Obrican took a flask of water from the Holy Grail, Manny received enchantments on his axe from the Grail water. Sid revived his familiar using the Grail, and Titus asked to speak with the entities in the realms beyond using the strange pool he found. They spoke to him and him alone and whatever secrets they granted him are not for mortal ears. Hirzon’s gift was also a mystery. From there, the party left for the Elsa. After a brief argument about how to get it working, they placed an owlbear feather in and the tower activated, taking them home. On the way, Obrican improved on the Hilbert Effect and generalized it.

Arriving back home the party rested and thought on the next steps. Things became very strange when one of them looked up to see that the stars were moving. Moving and smearing, becoming nebulae and galaxies and alien symbols in the sky. Before they could even begin to investigate, their rest was quickly interrupted by a loud crack. Looking around they found that nearby trees in a line had all been damaged as if a line of lightning went through them. Bang! Another crack opened up nearby. And then another. They took to the air to find the source, but the cracks were just all over the place. Merry, Titus, and Hirzon used the Rod of Zidane to peer into the cracks and they determined that these cracks were somehow cracks in the plane itself, like bigger versions of the familiar rifts. Worried, Manny took the ship to the nearest village to find that the cracks had been happening there, too. They had impaled many villagers, some mortally and others not, but the locals couldn’t free any of them. Then Manny came along and pulled them straight off the crack, magically sharing their pain and taking it onto himself. Hirzon followed along with a wand of healing to help the survivors and examine the cracks more closely.

Once finished, the party met to compare notes. The cracks destroyed anything put inside and they appeared to be connected to various other planes. No one had been able to find any patterns, but Hirzon said that the cracks that had impaled people had a special glow to them. Obrican deduced that this must be the work of Lachesis and attempted to get ahold of Nephrale, but the connection between the goddess and the badges had been severed. With no divine assistance, the party decided to travel to the last place they had seen Lachesis: on the mountain-top fight with Xark. The Dawnstriker flew them there in no time, but an ominous silence had fallen over the group.

At the mountaintop Hirzon used the rod to locate the traces of the portal Lachesis had used. He tracked it down to the astral plane. Obrican and Carina opened a door to the location and they found an old ruin on an island. Traces of portals indicated that this place had been used as a traveling ground. Most of the portals led back to the material plane, a few led somewhere interesting such as the plane of shadow or of fire, but one was particularly odd. As Hirzon described the signature, Sid informed him that it was a demiplane – a small plane either found or created by a powerful wizard. Figuring that must be the headquarters for the Cabal, the party plane shifted through.

They arrived in a garden, well kept and clean. In the center there was a pool and above it a large obsidian obelisk inscribed with an alien script. Support columns extended from the top of the obelisk out to infinity. Around the garden were six white gravestones. They were not marked save by a glowing sigil floating above them, slowly rotating in space. Obrican recognized them as the slain Cabal members: Simon, Galas, Bael, Alderac, Frigate, and Siltheros. Hirzon examined the gazebo of the obelisk and the strange pool within but could determine nothing except that one shouldn’t fall into it. And that’s when a voice rang out across the gardens.

Severus had appeared, clothed in extravagant red robes and bearing his trademark emerald staff, he smiled and proclaimed himself to be XII. At this, Xark and two clerics appeared beside him: Vespa, wearing demonic red armor and holding a trident of dark flames, and Sithern, clad in greenish armor bearing symbols of the moon and holding a silvered mace. There was little to say and combat began. Obrican, Merry, Titus, and Hirzon went invisible. Manny and Sid charged forward and were met first by Xark. He wove around Manny as Obrican flew up and cast Grope of Erick on the clerics and Severus. Sithern cursed Manny and Vespa summoned a great demon, who summoned several smaller demons to assist it. The demons attempted to take on Manny, which allowed Xark to tumble around and find a weak spot in Manny’s defenses. Titus chased Xark and Hirzon used the Staff of Frigidus to attack many of the enemies at once. Had the battle continued like this, the party might have won, but they were betrayed.

Casting true strike and using power attack, Sid attacked Manny with his chain imbued with vampiric touch and in two strikes, murdered the exalted barbarian. The party was stunned as Sid revealed himself as XI. Furious, Obrican attempted to disintegrate Sid, but the duskblade was too strong for him. Severus took advantage of the momentary lapse in Obrican’s defenses and flew up to strike him with imprisonment, sealing him in temporal stasis deep underground. In less than a round, the party was fleeing. Carina held up a scroll and rallied the troops, but Sid strode right in past her protections and broke her neck. Severus spoke a word of death and Merry fell next. Grabbing the scroll, Hirzon touched himself, Amoss, and Titus and used it. They teleported to the pool and fell in.


Wyltine Fair, Lyrise

Night had fallen and Thom was packing up shop. His father hadn’t sold too well today, but the fair would last for a few more days. They weren’t worried but they had to do better. The payment on the farm was due and the baroness had already given them one extension. If the yield had been better this year perhaps they could have worked out a deal but the baroness’ man had already appraised their crops and livestock and found it wouldn’t cover the payment. Sure he could take the whole crop, but that would be just as bad as taking the whole farm for Thom’s family. So the baroness said they had until fair’s end to make ends meet. It wasn’t that bad, Thom’s dad had said. In the old days, under Queen Miku it would have been a death sentence, but now the Church of Echoe would help the family find new homes and new work. They would have to be split up for a few years, but it would be better than death. Still, Thom was afraid of what would happen to him and his mother. So tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, he vowed to work even harder to sell their crafts and their leather.

Thom finished strapping the grain down. The cart was full so he told his dad and hitched up the horse. Fair rules said no one was allowed to stay in the fair after it closed except for a few battlemaidens hired to keep Echoe’s peace. One of them stood nearby as Thom shook the reins. Her name was Elone. She had come around to introduce herself at the beginning of fair to all the merchants nearby. Thom thought she was rather pretty with her dark hair. She kept it short, of course, but she had woven a few feathers in the left side and Thom thought it made her look more adventurous than the other battlemaidens. She talked once in a while and gave him a wave as he drove the carriage out. They hadn’t been able to afford a good location, so their camp was a good half a mile away from the fair.

A few minutes later and Thom had passed the fairgrounds and the majority of the campgrounds. He could see his tent in the distance with his sister around the fire. Strangely, there seemed to be other people there. He didn’t know they were expecting guests. In his curiosity, he shook the reins to speed up the horse. The cart ran over a rock and so he didn’t notice the thud in the back right away. Had anyone been looking they would have seen something glowing, but most people were asleep. The strange skies and mysterious wracks in the air wouldn’t keep fair from happening, but that didn’t mean people wanted to be outside in the night either. Only the moons and the sun were exempt from the forces that had twisted the skies, and old folks everywhere were muttering about evil omens.

Thom pulled up the cart and hitched the horse. “Evanna? Who are these guests?” he said, more loudly than necessary.

“Oh!” His sister came rushing around the tent to greet him. “Shhh! I was fixing dinner and there was a light to the south. I didn’t see anything at first, but then all of a sudden a thief appeared and asked if they could stay with us for a bit. He said they have their own food, but they also had weapons, so I couldn’t say no. You and Dad and Mom were still at fair so…”

“Shh, it’s alright. Come introduce me and I’ll let you take the cart back to find Mom and Dad. Tell Elone, too. I know she’s guarding the fair but the church should know about this.” Evanna nodded and she led him around to the fire. Three people sat there, eating rations quietly. Their faces were worn and the woman had been crying. She was equipped with a large weapon and imposing armor while the other two were clearly thieves. Nothing was different about them except one had a golden rod at his side. “Greetings, travelers,” Thom said, joining them with what he hoped was an air of confidence. He knew from the stories it wouldn’t take long for them to kill him and his sister and steal the horse if they were bandits. But then again, bandits probably wouldn’t have sat by the fire or be crying, would they?

The man with the rod looked up and gave Thom a handshake. “You must be Evanna’s brother. I am sorry we startled her. Do you mind if we stay a while? I promise, by the Seamstress, we aren’t here to hurt you or take anything. We just needed a place to recover and the night is…unpleasant.”

Thom nodded in understanding and sat down. The oath comforted him, but who knew if it even held anymore. He’d feel better when his Dad got here. “It’s alright with me, but we have to ask my Dad. He’s back at the fair. Evanna’s taking the cart to go get him.” The strangers nodded. “I’m Thom. Where are you from?”

“I’m Hirzon,” the man with the rod said. “This is Amoss and this is Titus. The last of the Black Company.”

“The Black Company?” Thom was curious. He wanted to keep them talking as Evanna took the cart. She might need the head start. “I haven’t heard of them in the stories.”

“Perhaps you heard of Manny the Barbarian?” Hirzon asked.

“I think so, didn’t he help stop the war up north?”

“Probably,” said Titus. “It sounds like something he’d do. I thought you might’ve heard about how he kills dragons.”

“The bards tell a lot of those stories, you get them confused easily.” Thom said. “But does that mean you traveled with Manny and killed dragons and demons?”

“Yeah, we did all that, too. Thought we were invincible, or at least we thought Manny was. Pride goeth before the fall.”

“And fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” added Titus. Amoss still hadn’t spoken.

The way they spoke, with sadness and regret in their words, told Thom something had happened to Manny, to all of them. Whoever they were, they weren’t here to hurt anyone. He sat with them for a while in silence, refilling their water when it ran dry. They offered to share their fare, but he turned it down. After a while, Thom could hear the horse and cart returning. He stood up and saw his dad and Elone coming from the cart. He ran to meet them but his dad spoke first. “Evanna told us what happened. Help your sister unload the cart. Sister Elone and I will talk with these strangers.” Thom was disappointed a little, but his dad wasn’t to be argued with at this point.

He walked over to the cart where Evanna was looking at something. “Where did you get this, Thom?”

“What do you mean?” He asked. “All I did was pack up the tent.”

“Well where’d this come from?”

Thom climbed into the cart to see what she was talking about. Inside, laying there as if it had fallen from the sky, was a glowing double-axe.


Six months later.

The resistance had been organized quietly and with Wilhelm’s help. With the destruction of the temples and churches, Prime Meridian Travels had finally surpassed the Church of Travyn, for all the good that did. Its headquarters had been destroyed just like the temples had, though reports had said only Ur-Lord Severus was present. Now Wilhelm stayed with Smaragd on Kal’renth, along with St. Amoss. The sainthood was new to her, but Hirzon had felt it would be better for the people to see her as a step above the priests, just as the old saints had been. With the Axalted, the holy relic of Manny, she was the symbol of the resistance and the new pseudo-religion meant to combat the Ur-Lords. On Kal’renth, she along with High Father Hirzon, High Father Titus, Father Wilhelm, and Father Smaragd managed the resistance and fought the Ur-Lords in their quest for faith and destruction.

Their chief aid, Brother Thom, had brought word that the resistance had located a new set of recruits. Experienced adventurers who had escaped from the Ur-Lords and had managed safe passage to Kal’renth. They would be arriving soon and the Black Council wanted to meet with them. Perhaps they could help against Exarch Lachesis.

(Prepare your new characters at Level 14. If you wish to continue using your existing ones, you may use them at their current level. New characters gain wealth by table with no item costing more than half of your available wealth. If you are using an old character, you may have 50,000 gp to ‘spend’ on items that you acquired in the past six months. Manny’s axe is now called the Axalted and is a minor artifact.)

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The Rod of Zidane, Episode 4
Miltia

With all three artifacts of the Elsa in hand, the party returned to the Elsa tower, in the heart of the mountains of Manscell. Placing the artifacts in the chamber, the Elsa roared to life in a magnificent display of magical power. Beams of light formed a cockpit around the top of the tower and wings appeared at the base and with the might of a few flamestrikes the whole thing lifted off into a gate in the sky. With the party completely unfamiliar with the design and purpose of the rocket, they pressed buttons on the console until Manny found one that transformed the tower into a veritable spaceship, flying through the astral plane.

They traveled for a few days, exploring the Elsa. It seemed the ship was far bigger than they had guessed. It had facilities for a crew much bigger than theirs as well as a hangar for the Spellseeker II and Smaragd, who had come along with Wilhelm. They eventually learned how to perform basic piloting and navigation, enough to see that the ship was on auto-pilot toward an unknown destination. As it drew close, the Elsa opened another gate and emerged from the astral plane in orbit around a planet called Miltia. They allowed the ship to land on an isthmus of land and went out to explore.

As they landed, Insidiator “Sid” Iusti was hiding in the mountains to the north and saw their descent. He watched the Black Company from the shadows for a time. Determining that they were more bumbling than dangerous, he introduced himself and unnaturally soon he fit right in. The party had now seen a very large number of changes in character. But they went with Sid and asked about Lohengrin. He hadn’t really heard of the tale but he did lead them north a few days to a small town. Along the way, the party stopped in a city of old ruins to learn about the world and about the monsters, the Gnosis, that plagued it. The trip didn’t teach them much except that Lohengrin was somehow related to another story.

On Miltia, it seemed there were two stories that lived on in culture: the Cataclysm that had destroyed the old civilization and created the Gnosis, and a story of a mythical king and the quest for a holy artifact: the Holy Grail. The party returned to the Elsa to stock up on supplies and to prepare for a longer journey. They pulled the Spellseeker II out of storage and began flying around the continent. They produced a map, showing that it contained one large landmass with an in-land lake with a small bulbous peninsula to the south. Two large islands, one on the northeast and one just south of the southern peninsula, bordered the continent, along with many smaller islands. The party traveled to the largest city they could find, one which had real roads, but was still fairly small in comparison, and examined the library. Out of the many books, they found a few regarding the story of the Holy Grail, which the locals backed up. Apparently the Grail was lost, but might be found on a mystical island. Of course, many had searched, and it was thought that it might be one of the two larger islands adjacent to the mainland, but none had found the Grail.

Not ones to be daunted, the party traveled to the northern island and found an old castle on the coast. It was guarded by many Gnosis, some of which nearly defeated the party in combat, but it appeared the place had already been ransacked. The only valuables the party could find was a strange statue and four cystals hidden around the towers. The statue responded well to holy magic, so Obrican spent a few hours preparing and casting a Hallow spell upon it. As he finished, the holy lightnings of Erick blasted forth and activated the statue, causing a great circle of light to spring forth, encircling the castle and nearby grounds. When the light faded, the party found they were in a fully-functional and restored castle, complete with staff and servants. The statue had come to life as well and identified himself as Lohengrin, prince and son of King Pellas.

Lohengrin explained that Castle Corbinec was under a curse that no time flowed in the castle and the land remained barren and dead so long as the magical veil hung over it. Should an adventurous cleric come by to lift the curse, he or she had only three days to do so. The curse could only be lifted by asking the king the Healing Question, but each person only had one try to do so. Failure meant the veil would return and the quest would be lost. To find the question, the party had to ask around the king’s chief servants.

From the adviser the party learned that King Pellas had gone out to King Gloucester to retrieve the Spear of Longinus, a holy artifact related to the Grail. When Gloucester refused to give the Spear up, Pellas challenged him to a duel, and lost. Gloucester wounded Pellas in the upper thigh. This event was known as the Dolorous Stroke, for after it the curse settled in over the king and Castle Corbinec. From the chef and master-at-arms, the party learned that many others had tried and failed, but that the king had never tried to remove the curse. Ever since that day, it seemed he had lost his drive. Lohengrin and the priestess told a similar story, but implied that the king had somehow lost his guidance and purpose in life. And from the efforts of Hirzon and Carina, the party learned that the four crystals they found were keys to a vault which held a mighty staff called Frigidus, capable of casting powerful spells of ice. But Castle Corbinec holds many secrets and Hirzon and the ninja together discovered the castle’s true dungeon, locked away deeply and holding many vaults of strange power: a mysterious monk, odd weapons, a pool of blood, and a room containing seven items in seven frames around a well. The ninja was made very curious. Lohengrin caught them after the act and scolded them, taking back the one mace that had been found, calling it a sacred relic. To the ninja he said that the room of seven items was built just after Castle Corbinec, and, next to the Grail, was the castle’s most sacred charge.

In response to this, Lohengrin asked to travel with the party to see the Elsa, this mysterious ship named after the woman he had once served and loved. They guided his swan boat south over the sea until they found the place the Elsa had landed. There was no sign of Wilhelm or Smaragd, but Lohengrin didn’t mind. He had around his neck a glowing crystal, which led the way down through the ship to its core. There, past the locks and doors, was a crystal ball containing Elsa’s left hand. After all these years, it still sought out Lohengrin, and had guided the ship here. The prince asked to take it and the Black Company did, even knowing that without it, there was almost certainly no way to return to Miltia.

Curiosity briefly sated, the party met in the castle on the third day to puzzle out the riddle of the question. For hours they sat in their rooms and debated. Obrican asked the gods for help via commune, and they all spoke with the various servants and chief-of-staff to learn about Pellas, his pride, and the Dolorous Stroke. Various plans were proposed, including to mount an expedition to find the Spear of Longinus. But eventually it was decided that Obrican should ask the question. And so he entered Pellas’ chamber and asked the king, “Why did you stop protecting the Holy Grail?”

At first the king didn’t seem to understand, but as the question sank in, he realized his fall and what he had done wrong. His charge had been to protect the Holy Grail, and when he went above his charge, when he determined above God that he should be the one to hold God’s artifacts, that is when God cursed him and the castle Corbinec until he could make sufficient penance. Freed of his curse, the circle of light which held back the Gnosis grew and grew until it enveloped the island and banished the Gnosis into the sea. The land turned green and vibrant and the inhabitants of the castle began to truly live again. In return for this gift, King Pellas gave them the Rod of Zidane and granted each main party member a boon of the castle.

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