Arulia

Journey Through Lalotai
Chance & Priya at the Devil's Stair

With all the words running amok in Mentori captured at last, the high temple in Asadra took the bag of words and sealed them in a case of lead. They presented the case to Chance, to store with the other dangerous artifacts they believed to be permanently sealed within Carnos’ Tower.

Chance knew the Tower was far less secure than the temple believed, and so he convinced Priya that they must, instead, be taken somewhere the words could be safely disposed of. The Outsider words were from beyond the mortal realm, however, and there was no where in the world they could be left. After consulting with Enaros, a mad plan was devised.

Far to the north lay a hidden isle, where men could find passage to dread Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters. Lalotai was a demi-plane, resting between the mortal world and the Infernal, and according to a map in Carnos’s library, it held both key and door to the realm below. Utilizing her connections with the Periwinkle, Priya was able to secure a boat to take them to the northern isle, and after fighting their way through the temple there, they descended into Lalotai.

The Realm of Monsters was all that the name implied, but with great care, and great fortune, Chance and Priya managed to slip through undetected until they reached the cave of the Lost Traveler.

Before time began, the Lost Traveler was a mortal, and exactly what his name implied when he stumbled upon the garden of Lerean. He had long since eaten all his food and drank the last of his water, so upon finding the sacred well, he drank deeply. Alas mortals were never meant for such, and he immediately fell ill. In his delirium, he stumbled back to the road, where he collapsed.

Passing by upon an errand for Anrahd, Lerean came across the traveler and took pity upon him, never knowing the cause of his sickness. She found the jug he carried was empty and so she refilled it from her pitcher before returning to her duties.

The water the Lost Traveler had sipped from the sacred well continued to work upon him, transforming the poor man into an obscene monstrosity. Eventually, he was driven from the world, and settled into his hermitage within the only place he could be tolerated. His proper hands lost in the transformation, the jug sat unopened, its contents undrank.

Finding him asleep, Chance slipped the jug away and returned to Priya with it. They journeyed further through that awful place to a formation known as the Devil’s Stair… a great volcanic tear. No mortal could survive such passage, but Chance had reasoned that a draught of Lerean’s power from the Lost Traveler’s Jug would fortify them enough to make it possible. It could also transform them into monstrous obscenities, but he reasoned that since each could only drink half, then perhaps they might be spared the worst of it.

And so they drank. And then, feeling its power upon them, both jumped into the Devil’s Stair and plunged through wind and fire into the realm Infernal. Both slipped from consciousness, and both awoke at the back gate of the Ducal Palace. Bribing the guards with bottles of perfume brought for that purpose, Chance was able to secure an audience with the Duke, to whom he suggested a wage…

View
A letter from Priya & Chance!
There weren't any letters on this letter, were there?

I regret to report that Esadra is in chaos. It is good that my last letter mentioned my concerns over the rituals devised by the church for the destruction of the book. Carnos’s notes had indicated that the book was merely a vessel for the words, which might well survive the volume’s destruction. It seems we did not take his warning quite literally enough.

With the book gone, all seemed well for the first few days, but then the first mark struck. We first came across it in the marketplace, where a man assaulted me in broad daylight. He proved surprisingly durable to magical reprisal, and in the end, Priya was forced to strike him down. His face bore a tattoo in a strange character neither of us were familiar with. When the Esadran Guard finally arrived, the body was identified as a local merchant, but the tattoo we had observed was no longer upon his face. The next day, more seemingly random incidents were reported, all over town.

The Esadran Guard arrived at our lodgings in force, bearing a writ. Much to my surprise, the writ was not against me, but instead bore an accusation of heretical insurrection directed at Priya! She did not resist, and was promptly imprisoned. I was able to interview her, and she refused to deny the charges, but in the course of my visit, I discovered one guard bore a suspicious tattoo upon his shoulder. The symbol was different, but the script similar to that upon the man in the marketplace.

I suspected the books destruction may have somehow been involved, but as I had never dared look upon the words myself, I was unsure. I visited one of the priests involved in the ritual of the book’s destruction and he confirmed that the symbols I described seemed like those in the book. No sooner had he confirmed that than a group of armed men burst in upon us.

They each bore distinct tattoos, much like the other men I had seen. With the help of the temple priests, we put up a terrific struggle, but as the first few were felled, the words written on their skin slithered away, joining their fellows upon the skin of the next closest man yet living. The recipients of the new words grew stronger and more dangerous still, and by the time we had it down to three men, it was clear we could not win the fight.

We attempted to flee, but they did not pursue far. They claimed a book from the shelf, and opened it. A word slithered off of its pages and onto the man who opened it, and the three marked men left without another word.

On the basis of what they witnessed, the priests agreed that Priya was not responsible for the recent unrest, and she was released over her own objections. We have been working to contain the words, but it has proven difficult. They can hide on any surface that might contain a word, and their fell influence causes many strange things. We have found them on pages, boxes, men, and once even upon a building. What the words want, if anything, is unclear.

They were free when my last letter was sent. If it has arrived without incident, then perhaps all is well, and they have not left Mentori. If the letter bore a strange symbol, then (scribble~scrible~scribble). Above all, be wary. Strange markings, tattoos, words in no known tongue of this world, all are suspect. Trust no one who might bear some hidden mark, driving them to whatever madness the words intend.

evil_letter.jpg

View
Another letter from Priya & Chance!
A visit to Chance's cousin.

Our journey to Esadra continues, despite delays. While we were staying with my cousin Enaro, he mentioned an ancient wizard learned in planar matters living on the nearby Mahos peninsula. Priya felt we should resume the course, but I convinced her that so unlikely a coincidence should be investigated. Mahos was not far out of our way, and as the lands fall within Enaro’s grant, he came with us to arrange accommodations in the town.

The wizard’s tower appeared to be in great disrepair, and seeing it unlit at night, we feared it abandoned. It was not! The tower’s master, calls himself Lord Carnos, and greeted me when I reached the top. After a brief discussion of our plight, he revealed a hidden stair for Priya and Enaro, and invited us in. Despite his apparent lack of servants, he provided an excellent repast, although it was a trifle bland. He has offered to lend his expertise in the riddle of the Book. Priya insists it must be destroyed, and while I agree, there is much we can learn of the enemy from it. Such advantages must not be ignored.

Carnos has conducted extensive studies of evil artifacts, and Priya was very uncomfortable in the presence of his collection. After discussion of the Book, his theoretical understanding of metaphysics seems quaint, but his practical expertise suggests several interesting new avenues for research. He offered to host us, but Enaro has already arranged lodging with the town’s mayor.

According to the townsfolk, Carnos is several centuries old! It was apparently a great honor that he hosted us. They say he only emerges in times of trouble, and are concerned what our meeting portends. A young woman was suspiciously absent from her home, and locals already blame the return a centuries old curse Carnos battled during his last appearance. Priya investigated the next morning, but has not yet found the woman, so she will continue searching while Carnos and I work on the book.

I regret to report that Carnos has deceived us. His collection of evil artifacts concealed that he was a source of great evil himself, and apparently responsible for the curse the townspeople credit him with fighting. He appears to be some sort of life draining immortal. He put up an impressive fight, but quieted once Priya separated his head from his shoulders. I am packing both the body and head in boxes of salt, hoping to preserve them for later study.

With some effort, I have determined how Carnos sealed the tower, and will do so before I leave, to prevent anyone from getting to his collection. As the land is within Enaro’s grant, he has agreed to let me have use of it to store these things until we have time to come back and study it further. And then destroy them, of course.

View
A missive from Priya & Chance!
The journey to Esadra...

May the hem of our Lady’s sainted raiment brush your brows as the momentum of her magniflorous metatarsals speed you to grace. For it is in Her name and on Her mission that we proceed on our blessed path of glory ever toward a sainted victory for the glory of Sleadren’s glory. Lo, it is nigh these score years and one eighth score that her humble handmaiden has labored toward her Lady’s purpose — which is indeed the highest purpose in our plane or any other known plane — though it is only a brief time that she had led this group of humans, half-humans, catmen and…

Sorry, she would go on like that for pages, but I doubt she will glance at more than the first and last page, so I shall interject here on my own behalf. No doubt you are curious to find this missive in my own hand, rather than Hobb’s, and that is an interesting tale in itself. Hopefully things go well with you back in Venn. We attempt to prevent future incursion, but depend on you to resolve the current one.

Our trip to Mentori was not without incident. Shortly after leaving sight of land, our vessel was set upon by the aberrant incursives we have grown so familiar with. An enormous sea beast afflicted by their corruption brought the entire ship to a halt, and immediately disgorged a small contingent on deck. Our crew fought valiantly under Priya’s lead, but severe damage to the vessel prevented us from continuing all the way to Esadra as planned. The ship limped into a Mentori fishing port whose name I have forgotten, but which is no longer relevant as the town is no more.

I insisted on resting a few days to give Priya time to recuperate. Without Bron’s gentle influence, she pushes herself too hard and the action at sea weighed heavily on her. During that time I devised a new ritual to unveil incursive influence. It worked, but unfortunately most of my notes on it were destroyed in the subsequent fire. The ritual unveiled an incursive influence upon my scribe, Hobb. I do not know if he was always their creature, or subsequently corrupted. How much of my research and planning were passed along to the enemy remains unknown.

As you recall, Hobb seemed scarcely more than a few inches tall, but upon being discovered, he revealed himself to be closer to sixty feet in height. Apparently his diminution was merely a result of being viewed from a great distance. Kismet will no doubt find that revelation puzzling, but I’m sure Bella can adequately explain the nature of interplanar perspective. Regardless, his newly present immensity resulted in the destruction of our residence, the neighboring structures, and a fire that consumed the town.

The locals were superstitious, and I was unjustly blamed for their misfortune. Priya’s intervention on my behalf saved us further unpleasantness, and I was spared prosecution upon her promise to escort me away. A practitioner dwelt nearby (as it turns out, he is also a distant relation), and so we stayed with him this evening. Bella will be interested to learn that his research has shown ondal root is thaumaturgically adjacent to muck down, rather than its inverse! Obviously this presents a number of intriguing possibilities for traditional practitioners seeking to compose spell materiel.

Our journey to Esadra resumes tomorrow, and we will write again as opportunity presents.

…which is why I will never again trust bears. And yet it teaches us a lesson toward a higher purpose, one I hope Kismet in particular will take to heart. And so, my comrades, I bid you continue in the path of righteousness, that you remain true in your pledge to give all not essential to your mission to the Church, and I have no third thing, for these are all that I hope for you. Unless we meet again in life, we will be reunited in the bosom of the gods in the Celestial realm where we shall feast and make gloves for Sleadren’s hand, but otherwise I will see you when we get back.

View
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.

View
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.

View
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!

View
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.

View
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.

View
Secrets Told

meadhall.jpg

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.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.