Arulia

Awful Things in Kechner

Fighting their way to the manor, the party looked down into the ruins, the house itself destroyed, falled into the very cellars that had granted them safety from the starfall so long ago. Within the pit, their worst nightmares were surpassed by the evil they found there.

Strewn about the pit lay giants, kobolds, and even a couple human residents of Kechner, but laid upon the ground, each with a giant black cyst growing up out of their torso. As the party watched, one such cyst split, disgorging a kobold identical to the one spread upon the cellar floor below it, but slime-covered, glassy-eyed, with horrible mouths and eyes sproutin at random over its skin. Veins of the cyst pulsed and melded into the body of its host. These cancerous growths were copying their hosts only perverting their bodies into twisted parodies of life.

In the center of it all as the dragon. Itself once a firey red, now mixed with black and green and glistening with the slime that marked it as one more aberrant beast. When it saw the party, it rose up into the air, declaring “you will be brought into the host to serve Ragnorra, mother of all life!”

In the fight that followed, the party was attacked on all sides by the dragon, its creations, and the evil spawn of the cysts on the ground. Several of them nearly died, but in the end they emerged victorious. Searching the rubble and freeing some hiding townsfolk, they set them to rebuilding, and their legend was born.

Truly, no ordinary folk could have achieved such accomplishments. These adventurers were truly mythic.

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Kechner's Peril
This Place Has Really Gone Downhill

Lady Tuala rode to wherever the party was and collapsed off her horse, saying that Kechner had been overrun.

The party returned immediately to Kechner and found it overrun. The dragon that was rumored to be up in the hills had been attended by a kobold cult of dragon-worshippers, and once taken over by an alien cruciform, the dragon converted its entire cult, and rained its evil perversion down on the town of Kechner.

When the party arrived, they found the manor in ruins, a pile of rubble smouldering with black fumes. The town itself had several buildings destroyed, and horrifying creatures were walking the streets. A massive blob of flesh with the screaming faces of several of Kechner’s residents, including an entire family, lurched toward the party, forcing them to destroy it, killing the poor souls cursed to this living horror. MIsshapen GIants lurched about town, slime-coated kobolds attacked.

The party learned that the ruins of the manor was the nest of the aberrant dragon, and the source of these horrors.

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The Offer of Sessyn

Proudly wearing her boots about town, Kismet is surprised to see a little girl come up to her crying, asking where her Daddy went. Kismet picks the girl up, and asks her a few questions, then Karl assists in the search. Karl then calls Kismet by name, and the little girl straightens up and says “KISMET? Shit.” And jumps down, runs away, and is lost in the crowd.

Puzzled by the encounter, Kismet soon finds that her money pouch is heavier by exactly one scale. She pulls a black dragon scale out of her pouch and looks at it, bringing it back to her rooms in the palace with her to study it. There seems to be nothing magical about it, but when she brings it to Karma, Karma panics and tells Kismet that Ilrael has marked her for death. And if Kismet doesn’t want to get caught in the crossfire, she better leave town.

The scale is the mark of the Blackscale Assassins, a guild operating in most cities in the Arulian Empire. Normally, the assassins and thieves stay out of each others’ way, but with enough money, one can buy the assassination of a member of the thieves’ guild. The target is then given the token of a black dragon scale as a warning that their death has been paid for. This is a professional courtesy. The thieves’ guild member can then do whatever he or she can to avoid getting killed.

“Blackscale Assassins, huh? I bet their leader is a black dragon, too!” Said Kismet. Karma just shrugged and packed her bags.

Meanwhile, Sessyn has met up with Karl again. She explains the terms of the mercenary contract with Ord’Thane. The troops will be endlessly replenished, and the contract cannot be broken except by the order of the Duke Ord’Thane. Since he won’t do that, the best course of action is to kill him and negotiate with the next Duke.

She tells Karl that her father is the Duke Ord’Thane, who sent the fiendish troops to Venn. She also tells him that the Duke is Karl’s father as well. And that Karl stands to inherit the Duchy on the Duke’s death. Sessyn reveals she stole Karl away because their father demanded he be killed. Karl was prophesied to kill Ord’Thane and become the new Duke. The current Duke wanted none of that so declared Karl be killed and Sessyn never inherit. So, Karl must kill the Duke and become the next Duke, and cancel the contract that way.

Karl agrees to abdicate in favor of Sessyn after he has nullified the contract and recalled the troops to Hell. The party prepares to go to Hell, when the palace is suddenly astonished by Lady Tuala riding in half dead, declaring that Kechner has been overrun!

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Time in Strahn
The One Where Kismet Gets Her Boots

The Prince offered to put the party up in the palace in Strahn, and they accepted. Kismet asked the Prince to pull some strings and get her an appointment with Nierlyn, the Gnomish cobbler, about a nice pair of boots. Appointments are made, and Kismet is fitted for the boots.

In the night, two assassins enter the palace and are stopped by the party, who learn that they are Ilrael’s goons.

In the days that follow, Kismet gets her boots and all is well.

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Into Arulia

Having safely returned from the Fey realm with the prince, the party decided to set out for the capital, Strahn, as soon as they could. Jay chose this moment to part company from the group, seeking his own answers to life.

Having been gone for weeks, they sought out information from the locals. They found that the countryside had been ravaged by the invading army, and people had fled north rapidly. They did, however, find the remains of a troop of mercenaries, and three survivors of a great battle. The Jayhawks was an elite mercenary group that had been contracted by King Athrimas to defend Venn from the invasion. However, they had been defeated in battle, partly because of the duplicity of the troops Venn had contracted from Ord’Thane.

While the two groups were still figuring each other out, they were attacked by mounted Ord’Thanian troops. The battle was short and bloody, and the fiends were vanquished to their home plane.

The surviving Jayhawks — a wizard, a dwarven warrior, and a spelltouched battle rager — joined with the group and brought them up to date on what had been going on. The fiendish troops were somehow granted free reign to spoils of war in their contract, provided they were the only survivors. Thus the troops sought to destroy any other companies who had survived the battle. Troops that fell in battle and returned to Hell were allowed to immediately return to replenish their ranks in Strahn to be re-deployed. So the Jayhawks would be hunted soon.

Bella had figured out some secrets of transposition and teleportation in her experiences through the year, so she decided to offer to transport everyone to a safe house Kismet knew of in Strahn. It took 3 hops but they got the group there with their horses. They found the entire city abuzz with the news that Prince Ilrael had taken Therea.

On of the major propaganda campaigns Ilrael had been waging was finding fruit in this victory. Ilrael claimed to have found one half of a prophecy that stated he would rule Venn. The other half, he had said, was in the vault in Therea. Having reached Therea, he had the vault of the church of Anrahd opened, and the prophecy retrieved. The prophecy was read:

Prophecy

The prophet Nykeen in the year 2034 (old Calendar, -487IP) wrote that there would come a time that a tyrant would usurp the world unless a savior stopped him

Ilrael’s half

Come the year the blessed children
driven out from Anrahd’s hearth
Upon the falling of the stars
Son of golden boughs
Brings peace to island graves

Therea’s half
In Anrahd’s host is raised
Strike down oppressor’s blade
Father of the bastard horde
Fallen crown restored
Golden son triumphant
Restore Nyan’s hearth

As this news was circulating, Kismet sought out Karma in town. She wanted to find out where Karma had gotten those boots, similar to the ones that Chance had. Karma directed her to the Gnomish cobbler in Strahn, but said she’d only gotten an appointment because of the vast amount of money she’d gotten from the job she did in Therea. She said to Kismet, “I almost wish I’d never done that job. If I knew what kind of trouble it would cause, I never would have put that prophecy in the vault.” Kismet stared at her for several minutes before she was able to speak, then calmly decided to try to convince her teammates of its falsehood.

That was met with resistance. The party was pretty keen to accept the verifications of the temple stewards who assured the populace that it was genuine. Kismet didn’t explain how she knew, because Rashehn was still hanging around them, and she thought it might be a bad idea to be a known relative of a person who committed high treason for money.

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Secrets Told

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After the laughter of the women of the party faded, Jay took the satyr aside and asked him questions about Jacob Wyvern, Jay’s father. The party kept nudging him, saying “We need to go!” They convinced Prince Rashehn to return with them and lead his people to peace and forsake the war. But they were told that the Lady of Elvenkind wished to confer with them.

Kismet grew bored of the party atmosphere and found a door out of the hall, and found a hallway leading upstairs to a row of rooms. Knocking on one after the other, she asked if they’d seen Jay’s father. After interrupting a couple in intimate pose, a grumpy gnome who wanted nothing to do with her, and a sleeping brownie, she wandered into the room of an elven lady in elegant dress. Ellesaide, the Lady of Elvenkind. She asked Kismet to help her clasp a necklace, and then escort her down to the hall, so Kismet made her entrance into the hall with her. Ellesaide gathered the party around and after short conference, requested a bowl and a pitcher. She poured a little scrying pool in the bowl. The whole room full of assorted fey gathered to watch as the view zoomed in on the palace in Strahn, where the King was talking to his council of war. Erdwell was there, as well. The king said, “We have to accept their offer! I’m left with no choice. Therea is lost, or will be soon. ANd if the worst should come to happen, knock on wood —” At this point, the king rapped sharply on the wooden table, and the scrying pool went silent. The king kept talking, but the pool gave no sound, and the fey all around the room gave a collective “awww” of disappointment. Ellesaide said “I hate it when they do that.” After a minute and a half, the sound returned, and the king was saying “And we may yet be saved, even win this war!”

The party surmised that the “offer” was that of the Duke of Ord’Thane, the father of Sessyn, who served as envoy at the wedding party. Sessyn had offered the support to Venn of mercenary troops from her father’s duchy in Hell.

Although the party was still in a rush to go, Ellesaide said she’d take Jay to his father. Upon meeting his son in the flesh for the first time, Jacob Wyvern took his son’s ultrinium dagger, and plunged it into Jay’s heart. Although startled, Jay was unharmed, and when Jacob drew the blade out, he returned it to Jay. He told him that now, on a command word, it had the power to carry his song while he fought. He can also use it to speak to his father at any time in dreams, and he can use it to cut the fabric of reality to enter or leave the fey realm any time he is near a fey-enchanted area. Jacob showed remorse for the death of Jay’s mother, but Jay was unconvinced his sentiment was genuine. Jacob said he would visit the grave.

Jay used his newfound power to return the party to the material world with Rashehn. They arrived where they’d left, but two weeks had passed. The summoner was gone, and their mounts had wandered to the nearby farm, where the farmer had cared for them. He was kind enough to let them sleep on his floor. In the morning, the party set out for Strahn again.

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Arrival at Feybarrow

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Jay once again cut the great battle short by dominating the summoner himself. With the summoner as a new assistant, they traveled the rest of the way to Feybarrow, the site of the battle that Rashehn disappeared in.

They talked to a farmer who had witnessed the battle and got a description of where Rashehn might have been. They then made their way through the barrows. They met a wizard collecting bodies, and having her flesh golem place them on a cart. The party got in an ethical argument about necromancy, but in the end, they paid her to leave the bodies where they lay. So her golem dumped out the cart and they left, thus avoiding a fight.

They examined the area where Prince Rashehn fell, and found nothing unusual. They camped there for the night, and in the course of the night heard music, smelled food cooking, and eventually the side of the barrow they were camped against opened up and they saw a drinking hall inside. They entered, leaving behind the dominated summoner.

They found Rashehn almost immediately, walking around with a beautiful wood nymph on each arm admiring him. The party was invited in, and were told by a satyr that all had been made ready for the coming of the Prince, and now they could celebrate. Jay kept asking questions about Rashehn, but the satyr kept talking about the coming of the Prince. Until finally, he giggled and said “I can contain it no longer! What do YOU wish to be called, My Prince?” And he bowed low to Jay, as the women of the party laughed.

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A Summoner From Afar

Continuing south, the party was attacked by a scout for Ilrael’s army, a summoner on his flying eidolon, a winged serpent. He summoned more and more creatures until the DM fell asleep and had to close up for the night.

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The Inn With Sin Within

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On the way south, the party encountered waves of refugees seeking shelter from the oncoming invasion, more and more homes and farms becoming battlefields for the warring forces. Seeking shelter in a town choked to bursting with refugees, the party approached the only inn in town. The innkeeper was out front, taking names and putting them on a waiting list to be allowed in. Every 10-20 minutes or so, he’d call out the next name on the list. When the party arrived, he said “Last room left!” and read a name off the list. 20 minutes later, he called out a new name because a room had freed up.

Kismet saw something fishy about that, and bribed the innkeeper to get the party’s name on the list. When the next name got called, Kismet and Bella followed invisibly as the family was led up to the empty room. Kismet listened at the door and heard conversation, which stopped suddenly.

Around this time, the innkeeper had gone back out to call the next name on the list… the party’s name. When Karl got near the Inn, his psionic ability to sense illithid and their ilk strongly warned him of their presence within. Karl warned the party to be alert for them. The innkeeper led them up the stairs.

When the innkeeper unlocked the door to the room, Kismet attacked from hiding, backstabbing the innkeeper, whose disguise dropped, revealing him to be an illithid! WIth the door to the room open, the two illithid within also attacked. A swift and brutal fight ensued, and afterward, the party searched the room, to find a hidden chute in the wall, dropping down to the basement. The dropped down to find out what lay beneath the inn.

There were two children tied down and catatonic, hooked up to machines made to extract the quintessence from them. For the first time, they saw one of the giant “madcrafters” in action. As they fought its fellows, several illithid, the madcrafter vomited up constructs to fight the party. Karl was charmed by the mental control of one of the mind flayers, and was only saved when Jay used his own ability to charm creatures to free Karl.

Only through the greatest effort and expenditure of all their greatest powers did the party overcome these monsters, freeing the children once it was safe to do so.

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Old Friends Become New Enemies Become Dead

The party brought the Book of Vile Evil to the Collegium attempting to destroy it, and failed. As they were about to take the book elsewhere, the mage from Kechner showed up. Elverion came in with a few of his Colleagues and announced that the party was a great disappointment to him. He sent them off repeatedly to gather the dark knowledge that Gwardesh was spreading around the world, but each time the party destroyed it instead of bringing it back. He would not let them destroy the Book of Vile Evil. So he ordered his Colleagues to kill the party and take their stuff.

A great battle erupted in the Collegium, and Elverion was killed.

Chance resolved to take the book to the head of Anrahd’s church in Mentori for destruction, and Priya insisted on following him, to ensure he did not lose his soul to this evil temptation.

The rest of the party elected to head south to the battlefield whereupon Prince Rashehn was lost, to see if they could find a sign of where he went.

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