Scales of War

33 - Purging the Sins
After a shopping spree the party met with Lady Shandria. She was happy to acknowledge Brindol’s claim on Castle Greystone but had a small concern with the portal to the Elemental Chaos. She asked sage Antenian to investigate.

Overlook showed signs of mobilization. Military men were training, walls were bolstered, and the guard was more alert. However the urgency wasn’t strong as evidenced by workers goofing off, smiling, and joking with little rebuking. The party’s entrance was challenged but when they identified themselves as Defenders of Brindol they were warmly greeted with smiles, cheers, and clapping. The party asked about the mobilization and determined that the recent attack and rumors of another attack have instilled a “better safe than sorry” attitude.

Gilbain’s first order of business was to have the nightmares removed. At Bahamut’s cathedral, Jurten Steelskull was able to help. He took Gilbain to the Chamber of Sanctity, a large room dominated by a magic circle. He sat Gilbain next to the holy water font and began the ritual of purification.

Halfway through the ritual, something seemed obviously wrong. A large mass under Gilbain’s skin could be seen moving about, then Gilbain started screaming as the skin on thigh stretched as if something would burst from it. Jurten remembered his trained and jumped ouside the magic circle and uttered the quick prayer to ignite the materials to cause a small holy flame to burn around the circumference of the circle. Just at that moment, a dark grey creature broke through Gilbain’s leg. It looked like a cross between a dog and a frog and was too large to have been completely inside of Gilbain. Nevertheless, it emerged, looked around, and lunged at Jurten only to be rebuffed by the magic of the circle. A second creature emerged and was simillarly rebuffed. A third, larger creature came from Gilbain leg and threw himself against the circle but to no effect.

At this time Gilbain was in great pain but summoned all of his will to stop any more creatures from coming out. The three Slaadi already emerged were furious and pounded on the circle but left Gilbain alone, other than some sniffing and curious prodding.

Seeing all of the, a panicing acolyte ran for help and found the rest of the party nearby. They rushed over and saw the angry Slaadi prowling around their cage while Jurten was uttering prayers both to keep the circle active and Gilbain healthy.

When the party came in, Gilbain could not contain the creatures any longer and three more burst out, including a larger purple Slaad. The party immediately used ranged weapons to slay the purple Slaad as another purple Slaad came from Gilbain leg. This creature flung himself through the circle, breaking it. The other Slaadi went crazy with chaotic delight and threw themselves at the party, ripping them with their claws. Smaller Slaadi continued to emerge from Gilbain until he was so exhausted that his body could create no more.

The smaller Slaadi were shifty and hard to hurt. One of them try to escape the room but Adren slew it before it got away. The rest of the Slaadi were contend to stay put and rip flesh. The purple Slaad had infected claws that implanted embryos in it’s victims.

Jurten helped to heal and the party was able to kill of the the Slaadi, their corpses slowly disolving into chaos. However, they were infected with embryos. They spend the night at the temple and Gilbain was able to cure everyone other than himself, being the most wounded. The head priest was not feeling well and was unavailable but the party found a healer and some medicine. Gilbain spend three nights recovering and had a fit of madness but finally he was cured.

Once they were all well, the Defenders of Brindol briefly spoke to the council regarding Brindol’s claim on Greystone Castle. The council replied that so long as the Castle was used to defend the people of Elsir Vale they would agree to Brindol’s claim.

The party also asked about why the funding of Bahamut’s temple in Brindol had stopped and they learned that the money was going to renovations of the Stone Anvil, the enormous temple to Moradin.

Finally, the party offered their services. The Council thanked them but had no immediate jobs, other than perhaps helping to guard the walls.

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32d - What to do in Astrazalian

Purchasing Things

Astrazalian is a big city. Not as big as Overlook, but just as much military might, a very strong economy, and the best trading center for magic in the known world. You can find just about any magic item up to 10th level for sale, especially cloth armor, long and short swords, bows, and any item with the word Eladrin or Fey in the title. Poison and necrotic items are harder to find. Heavy armor would be harder to find except Elan’s father works for a famous swordsmith and armorer.

The kilt worn by the Fomorian can be turned into +2 leather armor. This is free if you can find someone with leatherworking skill (or do it yourself if you don’t mind patchwork). You can also upgrade the armor to Deathcut Armor, Delver’s Armor, or Elven Battle Armor or +3 Magic Armor and subtract 2000gp from the cost.

Just about all arcane rituals are available.

Merchants from all over the Feywild sell trade goods in Astrazalian. You never know when a bottle of Fey Brandy will loosen the tongue of an informant or an enchanted music box befriends the little girl with a secret.

Currying Favors

Many visitors to Astrazalian seek the favor of Tiandra the Summer Queen, an archfey as powerful as a god. Lady Shandria is a distant niece of the Summer Queen and her recommendation can shave decades off the time required for an audience with the Court of Stars.

It’s likely that the only favor this party would ask of Lady Shandria is to agree to Brindol’s claim on Fortress Greystone but it might also be a rare opportunity to speak to one who speaks to a demigod.

Also beware that agreements between mortals and Fey are often risky. Fey have a strong code of honor but it often extends only to other Fey. Eladrin are generally more reasonable towards mortals but even they should be dealt with carefully.

Exercise Caution

Anyone in Astrazalian when it moves to the Feywild is eligible to be drafted. A small infraction can turn into a short prison sentence which can turn into forced military service. A good rule of thumb is to treat public areas like you would treat a host’s domicile. Don’t spit on the floor, piss on the plants, or steal from the change dish. Eladrin have a lot of chaos in their hearts but their code of honor is strong and not easily understood by outsiders.

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32c - Dragonhawk Riders
After the battle two Eladrin warriors riding dragonhawks flew from Astrazalian to greet the party. They wore the purple and red colors of a hawkrider and their armor was made of metal but thin as linen.

They checked the dead Fomorian and then turned to Elan and spoke to her in Elvish. Adren didn’t care for the inefficient Eladrin dialect but he was fluent and grudglingly translated for the rest of the party.

One of the warriors spoke. His words were like poetry. Adren translated, “He’s impressed with our skill and bravery. Probably because he thinks we are farmers and peasants.” Elan glared at Adren and answered back in Elvish.

The warrior spoke again. Adren said, “That incredibly long and boring speech was his name, or at least part of it. We can call him Fred. And his buddy is Tad.” Elan started to glare again but a slight smirk emerged.

Elan and the warriors spoke at length. Adren provided a running summary, “They thanked us for killing the Fomorian. Elan asked for a reward. They pointed out it was her sworn duty. She said she never actually took the oath, and besides the rest of us never swore. They pretended she never asked. She suggested that we at least get a thank-you from Lady Shandria. They…”

He stopped as he was interrupted by Longbreath. “Lady Shandria herself?”
“Who?” asked Gilbain.
“Lady Shandria is the greatest living Eladrin warlord. She has led dozens, if not hundreds of campaigns and has participated in thousands of fierce battles. He skills are unparalleled. Her knowledge of tactics is perfect. Her d….”
“ooooh,” sung Biatch, “some-one’s-got-a-cruu-uush!”
“What? No. I just admire her style.” Protested Longbreath.
“I bet you do” Biatch retorted. “She’s just your style.”
“No! She’s a brilliant strategist. She invented the Hylonic Manuever!”
“Oh! I tried that once. I couldn’t walk for a week.”
Everyone was looking at Biatch. Gilbain was blushing. Biatch simply said, “What?”
Elan said, “I think you are making Tad and Fred uncomfortable.”
“Why? What’s the big deal? It’s just a little fun, and besides, we are speaking in common.”
Elan rolled her eyes, “They’ve been speaking common far longer than you have.”
“Oh.” Now Biatch blushed and turned to the Eladrin warriors. “Um, I’m sorry for calling your fancy warrior queen a slut.”

The warriors turned back to Elan, spoke one last time, and flew off. Elan said they would tell of our deed and get us an audience with Lady Shandria.
“Perhaps Biatch shouldn’t come,” Gilbain said.
Biatch was offended. “Hey, I said I was sorry! What more do you want?”
“You were great,” Adren smiled, “first bar we find, the beer is on me.”
“Speaking of finding places, how do we get in?” Someone asked.
Elan answered, “They said they would send a swan”.

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32b -- Appearance of Astrazalian
Notes from Laeon, a scribe travelling with the party to Overlook:

The Astrazalian island is four mile island situated in the middle of a calm lake. The morning is peaceful and clear. A perfect day. Dozens of visitors to Astrazalian line the shore, some fishing, some meditating, some checking the wares they hope to sell. Some travellers share meals together while loners stay away from the groups.

As the sun approaches its zenith, a wind begins to blow and the lake begins to churn. Water spray obscures my view of the island. The wind picks up even more until I hear an explosion coming from the island and am hit with a gust strong enough to knock me down. When the spray subsides I see the shimmering white spires of the city towering over the tall white and red stone walls.

There is a brief silence as the scene is taken in, then all of the visitors start to cheer and laugh. And prepare their rafts to sail half a mile to the island. Then someone points and says, “What’s that?”

A giant figure falls from the city wall. It holds a huge wooden shield over it’s head to protect itself from the arrows above as it performs some magic to summon a horse. The crowd around gasps and murmurs nervously as the giant rides it horse across the water. Arrows pepper it’s back but it glares back with it’s large, deformed eyes, and the archers fall from the wall. More archers take their place and ballistae from the siege towers train on the giant. Finally, a ball of flame erupts from a large siege tower, toasting the giant. The giant summoned horse disappears as the charred corpse sinks into the lake. The visitors exhale a sigh of relief and start to cheer. Untill…

Two more giants farther away are seeen making an escape and a flash of fire in the distance indicates more on the other side of the island. The defense takes them all out but misses a third giant heading vaguely in my direction. Eventually the siege flamer trains on it and hits it squarely with a massive ball of flame. For a moment I think the giant was vaporized or drowned but a moment later a small cloud of darkness appears almost to the shore and his charred body jumps out and begins to swim towards the shore. The ballistae continue to shoot but are not accurate at this range.

Elan grows serious. More serious than I have ever seen. She speaks in plain common explaning this creature is a terrible threat and her duty is to destroy it. I have never heard her talk of duty before. She then summarizes the terrible abilities of the creature quickly and efficiently, almost as if reciting the memory of past studies. Finally she gives tactical advice, ordering her companions to fan out.

The giant, a Fomorian Initiate, lumbers out of the water to be met by Adren’s arrows. His glare is fierce, so fierce that rips Adren from his hiding place and teleports him fifteen feet away. The pain of the teleport lingers on, judging from Adren’s expression.

Mere arrows cannot stop the Fomorian. As he lumbers out of the tide, he trains his grotesque eye upon Adren who yelps confusedly and looks around as if he cannot see the Fomorian. The Fomorian blasts Longbreath and Gilbain with fire, psychic, and the essence of death. They survive, possibly inspired by Longbreath’s encouragement.

With this, the Defenders of Brindol attack in earnest. The water and sand hampers their movements but Elan casts a spell and the giant’s small eye closes, as if asleep. With his heavy body sinking so far in the sand he struggles to move and The Defenders surround him and finally slay him.

The Defenders examine the giant’s belongings and then ask me if I have heard of an Incunabulum Primeval. I haven’t.

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32a - Saving Drellin's Ferry, Part 3
The party wanted to get some leverage over Harkonius before negotiating the terms of the stewardship of Greystone fortress. They started by sniffing around the servants he kept but found them to be too well paid, too loyal, or too afraid of Harkonius to give up any meaningful information. Eventually Biatch grew tired of being polite and threated a gardener that she would shove her axe head first up his hind quarters if she didn’t get some information so he let on about some suspected smuggling in the warehouse district. Gilbain and Taunery asked around and found that Harkonius had a small spit-weed smuggling operation. Spit-weed wasn’t extremely illegal, but it would be embarassing if it was publicly know.

Meanwhile they tried to enlist Donaar’s help. He was always well-liked in Brindol and the temple project was bringing many jobs to the area. A good word from him (bolstered by Astral Speech) would go a long way. Unfortunately Donaar was in a foul mood. He was bothered that the party renewed and enforced the no-logging agreement with Witchwood, depriving the temple of cheap lumber. Worse, funds from Overlook had been suspended with no good explanation. The party placated Donaar by offering the platinum laced stone of Giant’s Shield Mountains, the job hungry quarry town of Red Rock, and Greystone as a base of operations. They also agreed to ask about the temple funding when they visited Overlook. After that, Donaar was happy to put in a good word with the Council.

Negotiations with the council went very well. They agreed to no taxes for three years but possible tax or rent after that. Additionally Brindol would initially send a squad to garrison the fortress at least until it was clear that there was no threat. They did mention the spit-weed to Harkonius who grew a little pale and said he would have his best men investigate and shut down the smuggling.

The next stop was Astrazalian to gain their acknowledgement on Brindol’s claim on Greystone. On the way they stopped in their favorite ferry-town, Drellin’s Ferry. Riding up the the town, they saw the familliar sight of abandoned buildings, signs of a scuffle, and military activity on the island. The locals told of bandits kicking them out of their homes, but the men on the island flew the flag of Brindol. After questioning both parties and mediating, the heroes pieced together what had happened.

When the garrison from Brindol arrived, travellers from the north told the commander Jeson Lockings there was rumors of war in Overlook. He eagerly took a small group to Overlook to investigate. He left the garrison with the second in command, Renold Miswep. Renold was the inexperienced 18 year old son of a wealthy rancher who was well-like by the troops because he was their buddy. The garrison was ordered to find room and board from the people who would be compensated with grain and coin while barracks were built. Renold did not communicate the compensation part very well and there was a misunderstanding, followed by minor violence, followed by major violence where a townsman was severely wounded by a guard trying to defend himself.

The heroes helped the two groups communicate and the townsmen were very appreciative and again threw a great party for the Defendors of Brindol.

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31b -- Stewards of Greystone

The next two days were spent interviewing the locals of Red Rock. A crew was needed to clean Greystone Fortress and there were three candidates to lead that crew. Eventually a dwarf named Dane was decided to hire and lead the janitors. He was given a tour of Greystone, a month of wages, and a promise of a bonus for a job well done.


Finally the party left for Brindol. They hoped to find a priest to cure their nightmares, but none of the priests were powerful enough to perform the ritual and such a ritual would cost 250gp per person. So they set about the task of claiming ownership of Greystone Fortress.


After consulting Laeon the scribe they decided the best course of action would be to get the three strongest powers in the area to agree to Brindol’s claim on the fortress and convince Brindol to grant them stewardship. They started with Adren‘s tribe, the Witchwood elves. Adren wanted some peace in the woods to ease his nightmares so he returned to Witchwood alone. The elves were happy to see Adren and thought him somewhat a hero. They cared not about Greystone and agreed to formally recognize Brindol’s claim in exchange for Brindol’s promise to prevent logging in the forest. Brindol had a long understanding to not cut trees from Witchwood, but the recent construction of Bahamut’s temple had led to increased poaching of trees. Brindol agreed to patrol the area and discourage poaching but this bothered Donaar as it would slow down the temple construction.


One morning the town buzzed with rumors of a squad of cavalry wearing white armor and flying the banner of Bahamut riding to town. At the front rode Josseth Crownblade of the Red Dawn of Righteousness, a zealous sect of Bahamut known for extremely vigilance in pursuing and destroying evil. They use force to further their cause, scouring the countryside for wicked servants dedicated to dark powers. Much good has been done in their name, and their vigilance checks evil’s spread.


Next to Josseth rode his second in command, Salavar Dag a hulking half-orc with cold blue eyes. In addition to half a dozen or so human honor guard rode four Iron Talons, Tieflings expert in finding evil and extracting confessions. Bringing up the rear was a Cobalt Inquisitor, a blue and white Deva. Devas are semi-divine beings that are not born, but created in a holy place when another Deva dies. All in all, it was a very impressive cadre.


Josseth rode to the temple location and spoke with Donaar about performing the temple dedication. Astute onlookers might have noticed some hesitation, but Donaar agreed to have such a prestigous and powerful man consecrate the grounds. Josseth then saw Gilbain and spoke with him.


It became clear that Josseth was some sort of mentor to Gilbain a few years back and they were catching up. Like Donaar, Gilbain seemed almost of two minds regarding Josseth. It was evident that he sincerely trusted and respected the man but there was also a sense of unease, like part of him wished Josseth not stay long.


The next day the temple grounds were consecrated. Josseth gave a stirring speech while the Iron Talons chanted a ritual. At the end of the ritual there was a clap of thunder followed by a sudden silence where only the faint chirping of canaries could be heard in the distance. From then on, the area seemed brighter, both visibly and spiritually.


-——————————————————————
Josseth’s Speech


The Grandfather of Dragons commands us to be
vigilant against all evil and to destroy it wherever
we encounter it. Yet many who wear his noble colors
are content to await the coming darkness—they
think that they will be ready for the time when evil
shows its hideous visage. Brothers and sisters, evil
will never reveal itself. Those sworn to wickedness
cannot abide the shining beacon because they find
its brilliance loathsome. No, evil’s servants haunt the
darkness that spawns it. They bide their time. They
spread evil’s filthy seed to unsuspecting innocents,
offering temptations even the innocent cannot refuse.
We permit this festering cancer as we strive to
safeguard our lands. We combat the obvious threats,
but this, friends, is what darkness wants. Evil would
have us fritter away all our strength against its decoys,
laughing at our feeble flailing. How, I ask, can
we ever hope to quench the hated one’s conflagration
when all we do is fight the small fires?


The Platinum Dragon commands us to protect
the weak and to safeguard the innocent from
evil’s depredations, yet time and again the common
person succumbs to temptation We cannot wait any
longer—we cannot allow another day to pass—while
the Dark Lady and other vile forces plot our dooms
from unseen redoubts. We must look deep within
our hearts and find our purity. We must scourge our
flesh to purge temptation and doubt. We must test
our friends, our families, and our neighbors to be
certain shadow has no hold. And where we find it,
we must cleanse the flesh. We liberate the spirit.


If we falter in this holy mission, we fail.
If we quail before the horrors, evil wins.
Giving mercy, we permit evil and become
no better than those we fight.


Brothers and sisters, we are at war.
-——————————————————————————


After the ritual one of the Iron Talon approached the party. “I can see you are troubled, all of your. Your eyes show the burden of sins upon your soul.” Gilbain was inclined to share nothing with the Iron Talon but Elan answered that they have been having nightmares and the local priests could not help. The Tiefling offered, “The ritual to cleanse sin from the soul requires great dedication and training but if the priests could not help then your sins must indeed be heavy.” He looked disgusted. “Bahamut despises sin and you must be purified. If it is his will I can help but I must warn you, it will not be pleasant.”


Elan was more afraid of her purse than a little pain. “Will it be free?”
Ever serious, the Tiefling replied, “No. It will be paid for by other sinners whose property was confiscated to fund our righteous cause.”
“Oh” Elan said, “Let’s do this.”
“Very well. Meet me at our quarters tonight. I suggest you spend the rest of the day contemplating the nature of your sins, praying for forgiveness, and in the event you do not survive the cleansing, make peace with the world.”
“Uh, what do you mean ‘do not survive’?”
“Impurities come from actions repugnant to Bahamut. They can only be cleansed through fire and pain. If sins are too great, the sinner will not survive the flames.”
“Maybe we should rethink this… uh… "
“I will see you tonight. Goodbye.”


Later that night the party nervously knocked on the inn door, guarded by the human honor guard. The tiefling let them in to a dark room lit by candles casting an eerie silvery light. The Iron Talon spoke, “sit down and hold out your arm.” Elan did so. The Tiefling held her arm and touched her forehead and said, “The impurity is strong, your pain will be great. Bahamut is disgusted but the choice to cleanse is yours to make. Do you wish to endure such pain for the chance to return to Bahamut’s good graces?”
Elan had spent the day learning more about the ritual. She discovered the ritual is painful no matter who applies it so was determined to save 250gp even if it meant suffering through some Bahamut mumbo jumbo. “I’m ready, let’s do it.”
“As the nightmares leave the body, they manifest in physical flames which burn the skin. If you survive, where would you like the scar?”
“Uh.. if I survive? Just do it. Put the scar on my upper leg.”
“As you like.” The Tiefland placed his hand on Elan’s leg and started to chant. Elan felt the nightmare chaos build within her and flow toward his hand. It burned her on the inside until the flames erupted through her leg. The Tiefling continued to chant while Adren put out the fire and Gilbain watched transfixed. Soon the ritual was over. It was a terrible ordeal physically but Elan could tell the nightmares were gone and it gave her a sense of peace. The Tiefling spoke, “You are fortunate. Bahamut has smiled on you. Rejoice in the knowledge that he must have great plans for you.”


After that the rest of the party decided to go through the ritual. One person passed out and nearly died but everyone survived. Gilbain was last but he decided to not go through the ritual. “I understand” said the Iron Talon “you must come to terms with your sin yourself before they are removed. Your companions took the easy route but you want to earn your cleansing. Come to me when you are ready.”


The party took some time to recover and waited for Troyas to present their case of stewardship to the council. One evening there was a knock at their door. Troyas entered and said, “It is time” as he pulled a blade and stabbed Gilbain. At the same time, Biatch and Longbreath attacked Elan. This threw the party into confusion. Not knowing who to trust, Elan feystepped out of the room and blasted Troyas into the corner. Elan and Adren ran through the inn looking for a possible enchanter possessing their friends while Gilbain stayed to hold them back. Adren ran downstairs to evacuate the inn and call for the Red Hand of Righteousness. Meanwhile Gilbain was hurting from the attacks. Finally, he had to kill Longbreath but his corpse turned into a grayish humanoid that Adren recognized as a doppleganger.


“Elan! Get down here! They are dopplegangers!”
“Dopplegangers? Fascinating! I would like to observe one up close.”
“Then get your ass down here now! They just dropped Gilbain and I can’t take Troyas and Biatch alone!”


They beat down the dopplegangers and bandaged Gilbain before he bled to death, just as half a dozen Red Hand of Righteousness showed up, including an Iron Talon and the Cobalt Inquisitor. The Iron Talon spoke with seriousness, “Very impressive. Dopplegangers usually kill their prey.”
“What happened to our friends?”
“Hard to say. Dopplegangers prefer to kill those that they impersonate but perhaps they went for you first.”
“Who sent them?”
“They are often hired assassins. Do you have any enemies?”
“Uh.. yeah.”
“We need to make sure there are no more dopplegangers posing as patrons. Everyone! Line up and sit down!” Everyone looked a little confused but did as was told. While the serious guards and impassive Deva watched.
The Iron Talon went to the first in line and held his arm. “This will hurt but if you are without sin, the pain will not be great.” The man started screaming. “You may leave.”
The process was repeated for everyone. Even the children were not spared but nobody was deemed to be a doppleganger. “We will leave now. You have fought well and Bahamut is proud of you.”

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31a -- Nightmares in Red Rock
On the trail back to Red Rock, Adren noticed a body partially hidden behind a rock. He immediately stopped to look for an ambush and found that an ambush had already taken place. The body was that of the Shadar-Kai weaponmaster. He body was peppered with crossbow bolts and had been stripped of valuables except for the magical cloak. There was a note reading, “A gift for you—T”. The party did not know what to make of the note. They were tired and miserable from nightmares. Even Elan wanted to wait to examine the magic cloak until they had gotten to a comfortable bed. Adren was more excited about the prospect of a teleporting cloak so investigated it more carefully. He found a secret pocket with a note reading:

Kyrion, Let me make my orders clear: you are there only to train the gnolls, not to fight for them. Watch yourself; they are a bloodthirsty and violent lot, and they may turn on you. You may need to remind them from time to time that I pay them well for their services, and that I can withdraw my support for their butchery at any time. Be careful of their leader, for he is far more cunning than others would give him credit for. I would not have even considered trying to trick them into service with that “Emissary” deception that riled up that fool Sinruth. These gnolls have the power of their foul god on their side. They are not to be trifled with. — Sarshan

From this note they concluded that Sarshan was the Emissary from the note found in Rivenroar and that he (or his employer) had some designs on this part of the mortal world.

Back in Red Rock they let the owner of the sole tavern know that they were looking for a crew to spend a month cleaning up an old temple and asked him to spread the word.

The next two days were spent trying to catch up on sleep while fighting the nightmares. Some of the nightmares were of horrible creatures performing horrible acts but the worst nightmares realized the hidden fears of the dreamer. They dreamt of dying disgraced or anonymous. They dreamt of slowly going mad or stupid. They dreamt of losing their faith, their home, or their friends. They began to question themselves and lose confidence. Elan was eventually coaxed into identifying the cloak.
“It’s principle purpose is as a translocal arcanic capacitor.”
“Dammit Elan, just tell us what it does or give us the magic word.”
“Observe.” Elan stepped into the Feywild and out a few feet away. The cloak glimmered.
“So what? You feystepped. Will that cloak let ME feystep?”
“No,” Elan sighed. “Didn’t you see the transferrence of reservoiric arcania?”
“ELAN! Speak common!”
Elan sighed again. “Observe.” She again feystepped a few feet.”
Biatch was getting impatient. “So? I didn’t see anything. I’m done here. Get me a beer.”
“Wait,” Adren said, “Eladrin can only use their feystep once every few minutes. Elan’s second feystep was 21 seconds after the first. But the cloak didn’t shimmer that time.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. The translocal capacitor draws arcania from proximal ley capillaries.”
“I think she is trying to say that it has to charge between uses. So it only works for your feystep?”
“Um, no. It should work for any teleportals. Like when Gilbain teleported that Leucrotta into the fiery cauldron.”
“So Gilbain could teleport two Crottas?” Biatch asked.
“Uh, sure.” Elan responded.
Gilbain had only been half paying attention. His mind was questioning whether he had made the right choice leaving the temple life, this news woke him up. “Really, that is very useful.”
“Indeed. Let’s roll dice to see who gets it, she grinned wickedly.”
“Well, I’m not sure we should trust that to chance, especially since your dice aren’t goverened strictly by chance.”
Elan was not offended at being called a cheat. “No, I’ll be fair and I’ll even roll first. See there, a 1.” Gilbain rolled a 4. “Have fun,” Elan said, “I’ll be taking a bath.”
“There’s no hot water.” Adren said.
“Oh yes there is,” Elan said as a small flame lept from her hand.

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30 -- Cleaning Out the Fortress
“Time to head back. I don’t think there will be much more resistance. Let’s get back to the training room and and pile up the bodies…” the sight ahead actually caused Longbreath to stop talking. The training room was filled with gnolls. There were soldiers, archers, a shaman, and two gnolls riding large lizard beasts. “To arms! To arms!”

It was a bloody battle but the heroes won. There was a lot of treasure and the shaman wore a suit a chainmail that helped tame beasts.

The rest of this wasn’t played out but explained here in the narrative.

The heroes finished exploring the fortress. They found another door leading to the room with the chaos spirits. On the door was written in charcoal a note in the Abyssal language. It was loosely translated to be, “Danger! Keep Out!”

Another room had a strange series of trenches filled from a torrent of water with a magical contraption to turn the water on and off, and change the direction of the flow. They decided to investigate in more detail later. The final room was some sort of prison with three inmates. They were haphazardly chained together, hand to foot, in a sort of jumbled hogtie. They explained that while guarded only their feet were chained but the guards left a few hours ago. One is a wealthy landowner, another a priest of Pelor, the third a retired sage. They would be happy to travel to Brindol, or given food and water, could make their way home. They don’t know anything about the gnolls plans or why they were kidnapped. They previously shared the room with two more prisoners who had been taken away a few days ago.

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Hello Amyria

Elan heard a noise. “I sense auditic vibrations. Perhaps we should prevantulate.”
“I don’t know what that means”, said Biatch, “but I am sure you can handle it.”

At that moment the door across the room flung open and three gnolls came through.

“Wake up!” Elan shouted.

The surprised gnolls were a small scouting party and they died quickly. The party finished resting and prepared to meet Thorn. They proceeded carefully down the long hall until near the end they saw Thorn prepared to open the large doors to the ritual chamber.

“Please… don’t make me do it”, Thorn pleaded.

Antaxia infigno fietherias dokuul dienve”, was Elan’s reply, causing fire to shoot from her, burning Thorn and his wooden pet hawk.

Thorn drew a deep breath of air and opened the heavy door, running in. The party followed to find a huge ritual chamber. A small horde of mutated inhabitants of Elsir vale chased after Thorn wielding sharp teeth and claws. Two gnoll disciples fired rays of necrotic energy and directed two crocottas. The leader, Fangren, had stopped performing his ritual in front of the swirling wall of Elemental Chaos and was watching the battle.

When the party burst in, some of the enemies persued Thorn while the rest attacked the heroes. Thorn managed to climb the wall to the balcony and avoided the horde while the party formed a defensive position. Adren bravely charged Fangren, shooting him with arrows. Fangren responded by sending a blast of flame, throwing Adren back. Biatch ran up to chop Fangren with her axe but Fangren used a telekinetic force to push her back near the Elemental Conduit. Once there, a claw made of chaotic energy grabbed Biatch, crushing and burning her until she eventually broke free.

Gilbain focused on killing the crocottas, slaying the first and throwing the second into a cauldron of fire. The beast howled in pain but used it’s demonic ability to attune itself to the heat before being consumed. It lept from the cauldron, mauling Elan and Gilbain before being put down.

During the melee, Thorn took one shot at Fangren and then fled the room. Adren shouted out epithets of cowardice but Thorn was not seen again.

The battle was hard. Elan used a healing potion to help unconscious Gilbain escape from the burning claw. She used another potion on Longbreath. Eventually the gnolls were slain. They had a good amount of valuable jewels and coins with them that the party now collected.

Elan was able to close the Elemental Conduit. Then the sword (Amyria) gave instructions to Elan how to perform the ritual releasing her from the sword with Gilbain assisting. Soon there was a pale lady of unearthly beauty standing before them holding the ceremonial platinum sword. She had no recollection of who she was or how she got there but had a notion she should go to Overlook.

Remembering how defenseless Jalissa was, Elan asked, “are you instructed in the martial or arcane arts, or are your implements merely decorative?” Longbreath was wondering the same thing. Her armor made from overlapping scales used a technique by Dragonborn armorsmiths creating armor for softer races, like humans.

“I… I do not know.” Amyria looked at her sword. She took a fighting stance and performed moves that Longbreath often practiced himself. It was called the Kata of Inhalation, a series of moves designed for fighting many weak opponents. “I suppose I do”, Amyria smiled.

The gnolls had coins and valuable items. Fangren had a note that read:

I cannot stress the importance of holding Fortress Graystone. Among the assignments I have given you, this should be your top priority. I have armed you well enough that you should be able to repel all invaders. Do what you will with your prisoners, but continue taking them. Focus your efforts on those who seem to be of some importance; do not waste your time with farmers and commoners. I am sending someone to train your recruits in the use of our weapons, at your request. However, I expect you to leave this one alone. The witch I sent to you was one of my personal advisors, and now she is ruined. Do not treat my people so callously as you do your own.

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28 -- Thorn in Our Side
After spending a few minutes with Wicked Fang, Gilbain declared the blade was not evil and he would be using it. “Perhaps it has been used to kill in the name of evil, but it can now kill in the name of good”, he said as he unsuccessfully tried to wipe blood from the serrated blade.

“Can we take a nap? I could use some rest”, said Biatch. “No. Let’s explore a bit. See if there really are gnolls where that Shadar-Kai claimed.”

So the party opened the back side of a secret door leading into a room with portals for exits and a confused gnoll scurrying about. Even outnumbered, the gnoll seemed happy to fight rather than puzzle out his problem. The walls of the room were glass and two other similar rooms could be seen with more gnolls. The party immediately attacked the hapless gnoll who jumped through the closest portal and appeared in another room. The rest of the gnolls jumped into portals. Some ended up in the room with the party, others in the other room. Most of the party formed a defensive position to engage the gnolls while Elan feystepped into the room with the fleeing gnoll. Given the party’s wearied condition the fight was tough. The largest gnoll fought with demonic energy and the rest used their pack attack to inflict many wounds but no casualties were incurred so the party decided to rest outside of the training room where they could use the arrow slit to keep watch to see if an alarm was raised.

No alarm was raised, but Elan heard a noise coming down the hall. She whispered for everyone to wake up and kicked the person next to her as two mechanical wooden badgers rounded the corner and the corridor filled with arrows from the arrow slit. The badgers were not terribly powerful but they kept the party cramped while arrows devestated them. Finally they fought through the badgers and a mechanical eagle to storm the training room. There they saw Thorn.

“Argh! I knew we should have taken Thorn out when we saw him in Brindol”, someone growled.
“Hey, ok, you got me. I surrender.” Thorn said.
“Forget it. We don’t care what you have to say. You die now.”
“What? Let’s talk about this. Surely I have something or know something…”
“No. No talking. More Dying.”
“OK, have it your way.” With that, Thorn ran down the corridor yelling, “As I understand it, the leader of these gnolls and his demonic entourage are down here. I don’t know where they are or how powerful they are but they will prob… Ow! that hurt! ... probably kill all of us. Let’s just talk. We don’t have to all die.”
“You will die. There is no talking.”
“Just… ow! ... just wait! You don’t understand! He is powerful.” Thorn made it to the door and nervously said, “Please don’t make me open this door.”

The defenders of Brindol were in a tough spot. They didn’t want Thorn to live but they were wounded and were not ready for a big fight. Longbreath said quietly, “We’ll advance to see if he is serious. If he opens the door, we retreat back to the training room.” Then loudly, “D-O-B, attack!” as he charged towards Thorn.

Thorn swore loudly and opened the door. Longbreath called for retreat and Thorn closed the door before he could take a good look inside.

Back in the training room Longbreath started giving order, “We bunk for four hours of rest, with two on watch, one looking for Thorn, the other looking for anything. When on watch you will wear the stag helm, yes, even you, Elan.” Elan protested, “The arcanic resonance between the antenna properties of the stag horns and my ediandana would create a disonnic anti-wave of arcanic feedback.” Longbreath rolled his eyes. Elan continued, “Besides, it would give me hat head.”

“Fine” growled Longbreath. Since your highness is mostly rested you can take watch the entire time. The rest of us will rotate through an hour watch each and we will wear the stag helm. Is that okay with your anti-arcanic wave disassociation?” “Indeed”, responded Elan.

Adren spoke up, “before we get too settled, take a look at this.” The wooden Raven had shrunk down to just a few inches. “Ooh, fascinating” said Elan, “I’ll take a look at this.”
“Are you sure it won’t resonate poorly with your arcane wave?” Longbreath chided.
“Only if I wear it on my head.” Elan responded.

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