Ciril

The Library of Ioun
What caused this madness?

Finally getting to the Library of Ioun, Erbrin Fencrasteil, Korrigan Irongate, Calyx Mnemnos and Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn see a fantastic site of a tower being pummeled by a waterfall, surrounded by dead bodies. The various states of the body betray a disturbing lack of similarity to the cause of their deaths. Some were torn apart, others looked starved, one one particularily disturbing body looked as if its head had simply grown off of it’s body, like a ripe fruit dropping from a tree.

Using his symbol of Erathis, Korrigan Irongate managed to open the main door to the tower where upon the party was assulted by two other insane members of the Stormcrows. One physically disfigured, with a distending eyestalks, the other seemingly sweating slime. The one coated in slime, imparted the knowledge that something had happened at the top of the tower that had done the mental and phsycial damage to their party, and that the Stormcrow’s leader, Elomir, now insane, had sent the Grells to Wellspring.

Fighting their way to the top of the tower, the party encountered Elomir at the apex who demanded that the party give him the Tear, having (in his opinion) stolen it with dread arcane magicks. He pointed at a spot on the floor that was darkened with a greenish yellow substance.

The fight was too much for the weakened party, but at the moment of their defeat, Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn grimaced and withdrew a crystal container attached to her necklace and crushed it. She immediately collapsed, and a shard of what was apparently her soul was extracted from her body and shattered, causing a wave of radiant energy to rejuvinate the heroes. With their newfound second wind, the party manages to defeat Elomir and his Grell minions, however, Rina appears to have died…

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The Tear
Where does the Path lead?

Arriving in a seemingly secluded town (Wellspring), the party is looked at very suspiciously for being outsiders. However, when abomonations (Grells) attack the town, the party earns the respect of a local priestess of Ioun, Deirdre. After mentioning that they come from a different town, the priestess quickly becomes excited and asks to see if they were marked by the Demon. Apparently, at some point in time, the party obtained a tattoo on their back with a symbol associated with the Demon King. Having seen this, the priestess seems to be much more amiable.

Finally having an outlet for their questions, they find out that the residents of this town believe that they are the only settled civilization in the area. Apparently their Founder, a man by the name of Hassard, and his wife Alyssia (the two people predominently featured in the obsidian temples) had set roots for a brief time before continuing to the East. When he continued to the East a Tear was shed and it crystalized into an artifact that was used for centuries to keep the city safe from the monsterous creatures native to the area, however it was lost. Apparently people have been disappearing as of late, so an effort was made to recapture the old Library of Ioun to unconver the possible location of the Tear of Wellspring so combat whatever was preying on them. The last party, a reliable adventuring group that went by the name of The Stormcrows, was sent out to the old Library over a week ago, but they have not returned with any news, and the town is fearing that they were killed. Dierdre asks the party to seek out the fate of the Stormcrows, and perhaps to determine the state of the old Library.

The party accepts the job and heads out to find a group of mauraders, lead by none other than a former member of the Stormcrows, maddened to insanity. After capturing the crazy person and returning to Dierdre, they learn that she was affected by some malady that the priestess might be able to cure, however, it would take some time.

After discussing the ramifications, the party desides to split for a short time. Calyx Mnemnos, Korrigan Irongate, Erbrin Fencrasteil and Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn would continue onto the Library of Ioun while Jonoven Tiere and Solomon would stay behind with Dierdre to assist curing the delirious Stormcrow and interrogate her after the fact.

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Passing through the First Gate
The First Steps

In the first antechamber of the Gate’s Entryway there is nothing except the statue of a six armed humanoid (and the corpses of the Doctor’s failed ‘experiments’). Also, Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn seems to have reverted back to the form of a child that she had back in the Dream.

After the party rested, the statue seems to activate and it begins to speak, thanking the party for their sacrifices for traveling the Path. The statue seems to have two separate voices, one seemingly nervous and parinoid, the other calm and haughty. It continued to warn the party that the Path will only allow the Strong to survive, but satisfied with whatever power it drew from the group, it seemed to open a doorway to allow the party to proceed.

The Path forward was straightforward, though a circular hallway made out of a contiguous piece of wood that had the scent of rot. Along the Path, interesting murals decorated the ceiling of the Demon King as well as a group of heroes who had finally defeated the beastial ruler. Among them was the man and woman featured in many of the obsidian temples, as well as a previously unseen female holy warrior.

After being thwarted by traps and undead, the party encountered a sickly looking lich, who seemed to take pleasure in new challengers to its domain. Even in defeat it seemed pleased. As the creature turned to dust, it claimed that its last pleasurable fight was against the Demon King and his two advisors. Another gate opened behind him, allowing the party a way out of this decaying dimension.

Sunlight assailed the group as they appeared in a virdent wood after passing through the Gate. Soon after the party was approached by a group of beautiful women. With an amazing bluff Solomon convinced the women that they were allies of the Demon King. They seemed pleased by the news, and departed, revealing that they were the King’s Woodwives, waiting for his return.

In the distance, the party noticed the smoke of a healthy sized town…

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Race to the Gate
Rina's Revelation!

After having been restored from stone, Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn reveals that she has been hiding here since the war ended, and that her youthful ritual experimentation may have been the trigger for the War of Consolidation in the first place. Apparently, she had an affinity to Demon’s Path and through a ritual managed to achieve a resonance with a location within the accursed forest. Lorec learned of the results of this ritual and their offensive was mounted soon after.

Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn seemed to easily trust the group and mentioned that it was imperitive to get to the location that she resonated with in Demon’s Path. The reason for this rush was that the Demon’s Path while spoken of as a forest now, is actually a route taken by the old Demon King when he obtained the power to become the terrifying despot over a thousand years ago. The artifact apparently still remains out there, and the fear resides within Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn that Lorec will most definately abuse its power (as witnessed in Tor Sera).

After a frightening dash across The Sands with Reapers in persuit, the party along with Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn reach Falcatta. Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn repeats her ritual to get the location of the ‘First Gate’. Meanwhile, Calyx Mnemnos surprisingly meets her older brother, Sarnos Mnemnos, who seems to be quite partial to her. He mentions that Lorec troops seem to be swelling in the area, and to be careful. In addition, Calyx Mnemnos suffers from some horrible flashbacks due to this meeting where she saw herself holding a dagger, and some people were attempting to batter down a door that she had locked.

After Arianna ‘Rina’ Aedwynn’s ritual completes, the party sets off into Demon’s Path, where they are ambushed by a Lorec troop led by a hulking man by the name of Gon who had powers over the shadows, whom had some connection to Jonoven Tiere. While the party was able to defeat the troop, it quickly became apparent that their weapons were coated with a poison that caused unconsiousness.

When the party awoke it quickly became apparent that they were captured and being held by a near mad Lorec-aligned ‘Doctor’. The Doctor was bent on acheiving entrance to the First Gate. To do so, he was performing experiments on ‘volunteers’. However, after capturing Rina, they were intent on forcing her to open the First Gate by ritual. Solomon was sent through a rift that the Doctor managed to tear open, but the tear caused the death of the people who entered. They were about to throw an unconsious Jonoven Tiere through the Gate as well, but the rest of the party managed to escape their bonds and kill the Doctor.

Entering the Gate, they managed to save the bleeding out Solomon.

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Following the Trail - Part 3
The Inverted Tower

After clearing the upper and main floors of the fortress, the Party found a signet ring bearing the image of a Falcon. Remembering a seal on the floor of the basement with the same insignia, they managed to activate an elevator-like device that lowered them into an obsidian chamber and an entryway into what appeared to be another of the temples. The Queen of the Drylands minions seemed to be more organized down here. More of an honor guard.

As the party progressed, they quickly noticed that the temple was quite different from the other temples they visited. It seemed to be mostly clockwise curving rooms and stairs leading down. However, much of the temple seemed to be in bad shape. The floors were cracked and showing some sort of corruption of an elemental nature. At one point in time, the corruption was so bad, that it seemed to sheer off an entire part of the temple. At the void, there seemed to be only a huge space of darkness with no legitamate floor.

After what seemed like hours, the party finally reached the temple’s crystal chamber. It too was suffering from the elemental corruption. There was a rift in the floor, almost ten feet wide in some places, and while there were horribly sharp shards of crystal to stop one’s fall, the rift seemed to be an endless pit. In the middle of the rift was a swirling gate of chaotic elemental energy. At the opposite end, a huge snake with the head of a woman shrieked to her gaurds to kill the party for their affront to her, the Queen of the Drylands. A brutal fight broke out, with a pivotal opening salvo from the party to get Solomon next to the Queen to prevent her from being an effictive contributer to the battle. The grizzled fighter landed the final blow, cleaving the head off from the creature. The remaining allies of the Queen quickly took that opportunity to flee into the swirling energy in the rift.

A quick search of the area turned up the statue of none other than an older Rina. She seemed to have been mid-ritual when she was turned to stone. Some quick thinking on Erbrin’s part revealed the events leading up to her being turned to stone by casting a ritual himself. It seemed that the crystal floor was cracking and Rina had abandoned hope to stop the elemental gate from opening. Instead, she cast almost all of her ritual supplies into the garderobe and set herself to turning herself into stone. Reobtaining the ritual supplies, the party found a scroll of remove curse which would be able to free the woman.

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Following the Trail - Part 2
The Temple of Basalt

The party headed out into the desert the next day, following the silver cord. As they traveled, Calyx Mnemnos saw a strange solitary figure standing or perhaps hovering atop a dune. She notified the rest of the party, but they were unable to locate the figure. Calyx persuaded the party to ambush the figure seeing as they were in the Sands. However, as Calyx circled around the rest of the party had a bad feeling when they still couldn’t locate the figure. While they tried to warn the monk, they were too late. Her dagger struck out, and seemingly passed through the creature. It turned around, and she saw the horror of the Sands, a Reaper. It looked humanoid in nature, however, it’s eyes and mouth looked sewn shut. It had six arms which seemed to be double jointed. Instead of hands, there were bone blades with hooks, as if it were specially designed to keep a prey in it’s grasp. However, the most horrifying feature was it’s chest. An unearthly maw gaped open. Layers of sharp teeth only partially hid what looked like an infinate space of emptiness within. The Reaper quickly netted Calyxwithin it’s horrible grasp, but she managed to tear herself away. A mad scramble brought the party back to the silver cord, where strangely, the creature lost interest, as if it couldn’t see the party anymore.

Shaken from the encounter, the party decided to make haste to where the cord led to. Surprisingly, the cord led to a fortress in the Sands made of basalt. It didn’t have the same trademarks as the obsidian temples, but the cord went straight to the front gates. It wasn’t long before the party noticed that the fortress wasn’t abandoned, as it was crawling with minions of the ‘Queen of the Drylands’. These minions were nothing like enemies the party had seen before. Monsters and humanoids working together, in the service of this ‘Queen’…

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Following the Trail - Part 1

Following the Queen’s advice, the party heads toward the nearest obsidian temple to look for traces of how to track down Rina.

The nearest happened to be one north of Nymdon.

On the way to the town, Khalid al-Nichta attempted a ritual to bring his sister’s spirit forth, using specific items that he had gathered. Something happened that went wrong. There was another surge of energy from the Dream World that caused the ritual to go awry. In a flash of light, Khalid disappears, and his magic items turned to residuum. In his place is a young woman, the sister whose spirit he tried to call forth, Calyx Mnemnos. However, she is suffering from some sort of mental malidy which has torn holes in her memories. After a tense situation, where the party didn’t know Calyx’s loyalties, and Calyx not even knowing there was a War of Consolidation. However, when recent events have been explained to her, she claimed that her goals were aligned with the party and offered to travel with them.

Finally making it to Nymdon, the party stopped for some fresh air. Surprisingly, they met up with Critwall, briefly. He was there to collect his sister, Raine, and to thank the party for saving her from certain death. He related some of the events after their departure, including his flight from a Lorec encampment just before Lord Tresker learned that the party was still alive. Apparently the Lorec guards in Celes managed to connect the dots with the dead squad and a group of well equipped adventurers (who had some similar traits to people who were supposed to be dead) leaving the city shortly after. Andoliath Dinn and Arrogar Lynnth also decide to part ways. The old ritualist knows his limits, and he was never made for traveling anywhere near danger. As for Solomon’s former captain, he’s also in no great shape from his captivity.

The party then heads for the temple, where they are ambushed by a group of stoutblooded bounty hunters, who apparently noticed that the party was wanted by Lorec in town. They were dispatched with only a little trouble.

Heading onward, the party made it to the northern obsidian temple. Having been in one before, the door wasn’t even an obsticle. The temple shared similarities with the one found in The Woes of Tor Sera. Obsidian statues of two unknown people, (a male with a bastard sword, a woman with a lyre and strange facial features), and a back room with a crystal crystal chair. Whether by coincidence, memory, or something planted behind, Erbrin has a vision of three symbols which allow the party to activate the chair. Solomon volunteers to be the one to do the sitting, and it is a good thing. The ritual caused some sort of energy to surge through the warrior, and it forcefully drew some essence from him. The room disappeared in a blinding light, and the next thing the party knew is that they were standing in the middle of Demon’s Path. Jonoven and Erbrin make out a etheral silver cord that trails off into the distance. After consulting, the two ritualists come to the conclusion that they were transported, but the destination symbol was either corrupted, or the crystal device in the obsidian temple they were attempting to get to was damaged. The silver cord apparently is a fail-safe to guide a traveler to their destination.

The party doesn’t need to travel too far before Demon’s Path opens up to a small village that appears to be sandwiched between Demon’s Path and the Sands. In the village there is a scream. The party bolts to the rescue and manages to kill a Behir and a powerfull gnoll (known as The Warden in the village). Apparently the Warden has been coming to the village from the Sands, demanding supplies for the Queen of the Drylands. Whatever is going on here, it seems to be on the path of silver cord, as the etheral string continues out into the Sands…

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The Queen's Tale
The Queen knows the truth, but how to get to her?

The once beautiful city of Celes has been perverted since the end of the war. It’s natural feel and wooded parks now gone. The renowned Garden was razed, along with the civilians who were making their last stand there. Now all that remains are city blocks, divided into districts to suit Lorec’s needs.

The party finally makes it to Celes, only to find that the security between the districts is difficult to navigate. With the help of a book merchant and a street urchin, the party managed to make their way across the city stealthfully to the Gardens. The ashened ruins of the once beautiful woods also appeared to be home of the slain civilians. The spirits did not take well to the party’s appearance, especially that of Khalid. However, they listened to reason, and allowed them to pass.

The party neared the royal palace and found a small section of the Garden that had been re-seeded, and cared for by the Queen. Camping out, they waited for Queen Aedwynn to return.

Escorted by a contingent of guards, who seemed very frightened of the spirits of the Garden, Queen Aedwynn eventually arrived. She was allowed to work on the plot alone, but within easy sight of the guards giving the party an opportunity to whisper to her. What she said was surprising.

She had seen the party in a dream, coming for her aid, and she alluded to the fact that she might know ‘exactly’ who they were, whatever that means. Also, the biggest news that she had to relate was that ‘Rina’ was indeed her daughter. A ritual had been done to erase her existance from the memories of those who had known her, as well as to remove any trace of her from the history books. This was for her own protection, as Queen Aedwynn mentioned that her daughter held the ‘Key’ for something that Lorec was desparate to get. It was her thought that this ‘Key’ may have been the primary reason for the War of Consolodation. As such, it was necessary to send her away and hide her, even at the great cost of Falcatta’s best army and all of the citizens of Celes. She asked the party to retrieve her daughter, and get to whatever object Lorec was after.

She also had a few things to say to a few of the individual party members:

She seemed quite pleased with Erbrin. Apparently, Rina was a classmate of his, back when he was young. The Fencrasteils’ were a well respected family in Falcatta’s royal circles, and the Queen told Erbrin that it was their bloodline’s duty to keep watch over Demon’s Path. She confirmed the rumor that there is indeed an artifact somewhere beyond its borders, and that it is likely what Lorec searches for.

Queen Aedwynn also showed sympathy to Solomon. She knew of the horrible possition she put the army in, the last day of the War. It was a suicide mission that was a gamble from the get go, it was only luck that allowed her daughter made it to safety. As such, she begged for forgiveness and asked the fighter if he could continue his duty to the crown and protect her daughter.

She was also intregued by Khalid al-Nichta. Apparently, whatever means she had of foretelling the party’s arrival also betrayed the warlock’s torn loyalties. She didn’t seem threatened by the sickly man, though. In fact she seemed happy that he was attempting to bring out his sister’s soul from the dream world. She even offered an item that would contribute to that goal. However, she seemed to be holding something back regarding the endevour.

Once the knowledge was conveyed, the party attempted to slip out of the city. However their cover was blown, and they were forced to fight the Lorec militia. The battle was quickly won, and the party managed to slip out into the night, heading toward a new goal that Queen Aedwynn mentioned:

An obsidian temple.

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The Great Race - Part 2
The race seems to have only just started.

A secondary attack by royal Lorec drakeblooded troops and a griffon brings the party almost to their knees, but when the smoke cleared, the assembled group is victorious. High Priestess Ionne seems very thankful, and introduces the group to Critwall’s sister, Raine.

Raine is a ravenhaired youth. She wears a fancy choaker that appears to be surpressing whatever powers she has. When asked about it, she claims that she needs to wear it for the safety of those around her.

High Priestess Ionne then speaks directly to Solomon, claiming to know exactly what he was here for (Arrogar Lynnth). She begans to tell him to go to the Rithus Prison, when the tree she was standing under changes into a mountain of man with an axe. It is the same man who ambushed the caravan housing the Shoui Orb and captured Graythall (The Orb of Water – Part 1). The man slices into her savegely, bringing her down to the ground. It is a quick battle but just at the end, the man makes one last break toward High Priestess Ionne and finishes her off with his last swing of his axe.

Leaving the Priestess behind, hoping that the Lorec troops will revive her, the party races to Rithus Prison, hoping that they can infiltrate the prison before troops come to reinforce the ones they had eliminated. Jonoven manages to convince the remaining guard that he was bringing prisoners from the tower battle in, assisted by the presence of Raine. Slipping in, the party finds a hideaway that seems to be intended for Falcatta nobility, where they manage to take an uninterrupted rest. Erbrin finds a tapestry showing an old scene with the Falcattan Royal family in it. Strangely, the girl from the shared vision (Horrid Dreams), (Rina) is present, held by Queen Cyndine Aedwynn. Erbrinfeels that she is actually the Queen’s daughter, which is strange, as there was never any mention or even rumor of a Falcattan Princess. Also strange is that the 5-10 year old tapestry shows Rina at about the same age as she was in the vision.

Finally rested, the party converges on the area where they figure that the tortured Arrogar Lynnth is being held. In a chamber surrounded by water, just outside of Arrogar’s cell, is none other than the supposedly dead Captain Graythall. His body has changed from their last meeting, as half of him appears to be changed into draconic features. He’s got an elongated, clawed arm, and wings. In a rage he focuses his attacks on Solomon, driving him into a water chamber trap. Erbrin manages to get Solomon out of the trap, and a coordinated attack brings down the enraged swordmage.

Quickly rescuing Arrogar Lynnth, and retriving Raine, the party breaks out of the prison through the front gates, taking out a half a dozen archers on the way.

Making a beeline out of Sergwyn, the party meets up with Andoliath Dinn.

The next destination is Celes...

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The Great Race - Part 1
A chance to get some answers, but can they run fast enough?

The day of the race, the party is ambushed on the way to the start line. A group of ruffians, led by a set of twins who had registered for the race decided that the best way to win said race would be to reduce the competetion. However, they miscalculated a bit. The party withstood the assult, but a lucky strike killed Erbrin.

Thankfully, the race is postponed to the afternoon when this underhandedness is revealed to the local authorities. Erbrin is brought back to life at a discounted rate, and the race is back on track.

The race is a slog accross town with a treacherous climb at the very end. Khalid’s brother, Sarnos, is in the running along with a mountain of a man named Two-Teeth. It was technically a three-way tie with Solomon, but a decisive domination by Jonoven saved the win for Solomon.

However, when Solomonapproached the victory grounds where High Priestess Ionne awaited with the prize, he was attacked by the Lorec guards. A furious battle takes place as the remainder of the party scambles up the tower. Khalid attempts to turnthe battle against his brother, but it is only slightly effective. Sarnos, seemingly upset retreats from the tower on an Obsidian Fly, claims that he could have been an ally to his brother.

When the battle clears, a few things quickly become apparent. High Priestess Ionne seems more than willing to help the party out, a young girl who looks very similar to Critwall is present, and a second wave of soldiers are on their way. Some by air, and some climbing up the steps on the inside of the tower. It seems like the party will only be able to take a quick breather before adversity strikes again…

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