Vacancies

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Summary

Adventure: Vacancies On Plane
GM: Bernard
Session: Summer 817
Night: Tuesdays
Location: Birdlands, Massey.
Level: Medium/Independent

Party:
Expressions of interest only at this point. Will not be at guild meeting, will organise via E-mail
Nothing too weird & no extreme abilities even if the rest of the character isn't powerful

Employer:
Initially Guild Security

Mission:
Guild security have received a number of disturbing reports all arriving in the last day via magical means from people in Thonia & Azuria who have interacted with the guild in recent years. While none of them are directly requesting a guild party because of the reports from multiple sources Guild Security would like a party capable of operating on their own for considerable time to investigate this, and will provide an initial payment promise if the party is not able to secure more formal employment from any of the sources of information.
Thonia is located about 2000 miles SSW of Seagate, on the NW Corner of the Southern Continent. Very little is known about it.
Azuria is located just to it's east and is a fairly closed empire, known to be a strange mix of fantastical magic & a destitute lower class.


Pay:
Promise of 10,000sp each from Guild Security if no formal employment is achieved. 30 Arcane Points

Diary

Scribe will receive an EP bonus if the notes are up to date more than 24h before the next session, and the in game dates are correct.

Initial Brief

From Malphazar:, an Azurian Trader:

To the esteemed folk of the Seagate Guild, whom one of my trading partners Thorn has waxed poetically about their great deeds in these lands before. Troubling news has come to me from my western factors telling me of a new plague, one of which magic seems at it's heart. They report of several villages found in the last few days where many of the villagers have been found sitting as if dead, but their heart still beats. As such a well known place of magical learning, I feel you should be informed of this so you may begin to formulate a counter agent to this terrible plague.

From Shahed, a Thonian Trader:

To my friends at the guild. My tribal friends have been having losses in the east lately where they have sent the weaker families to be safe far away from the predations of the drakes of the mastiff. I would ask that from the kindness of your hearts you see fit to come speak to them and aid them in these troubles.

From Shoja, a Thonian Shaman:

To the carriers of change on the winds, I send word of a fresh wind of change blowing, It comes from the hills, blowing along the river valleys and soon shall reach the sea. I see your carriers in visions here, to shape that change, to give it form and decision, for without that shape it is but a dread chaos that will consume all it comes across.
Should your carriers feel insufficient to this shaping, they may seek me out at the great lake for wisdom and blessings.

Chapter One

In which we fly to Thonia with Stops on the way

I have to admit, I was rather curious when this adventure was announced. Guild Security had been receiving dire portents from Azuria and Thonia – two places next to each other to the south that no one knew much about. Only one Guild party had been there as far as I knew.

One message mentioned plague, another mentioned losses of villages and the third, from the Shaman of Change, near the Great Lake, spoke about Great Portents. Whether or not they were speaking about the same thing, Guild Security had no idea, but they wanted us to go and check it out – just in case. So that was why I found myself in a meeting room with Thorn, a rather shorter looking Grizelda, Ben Gaul, and a firemage called Shizane I had not met before. I think I know who I am going to be interviewing for the next edition of the Times.

Guild Security guaranteed a payment of 10,000sp each and were hoping we would find employment down there to fix up any problems. Azuria was said to have efreets and slums while Thonia had red dragons, deserts, and a large number of tribesmen. There were also places where the land had been ‘compressed’ and bent into other dimensions so taking items containing extra-dimensional spaces was not a good idea. Fortunately that didn’t involve Thorn’s tower.

No one else wanted the scribe job, so I took it, and Thorn became both the party leader and military scientist. She them added a clause to the contract about ‘no poisoning the water’ while Sau Rus added one about the needless harming of trolls i.e. - don’t unless you have to. Since I feel the same way about seelie fae, I quite agreed.

Contracts and forms were signed then Guild Security ‘left’ us to get on with it. I had several things to do, i.e. get a Greater. Lucius was not available this session so I decided to see if I could get one from Herkum, the Head of the Guild and the top E&E. To my surprise and delight, he was free and I got one. Maybe I should try interviewing him for the Times.

After the Greater (rank 15 all areas), followed by a quick stop at the Earth College to get a Lesser, I headed for the Library to find out what they had on our destination (sweet bugger all) and background checks on the rest of the party. This mostly concerned off perusing scribe notes and discovering that much information on Shizane had been lost in the fire, several years ago. Must fix that. Following that, I checked in with the Sorceress in Silver (the Head of the Air College) to let her know where I was going and whether she had any special instructions for me. Her response was for me to be careful, not do anything silly and to bring her back a collection of feathers.

Finally, I went to visit my best friend Aaron, who had a gift for me – a new masterwork longbow (+2TH, +1D) and ended up spending the night.

2nd Meadow 817
Met up with the others in the field near the Air College and summoned a cloud to take us south. It was clear skies all the way and we could see the lights of cities on the northern coast of Palestrinia sometime after midnight. Touchdown was a few hours before dawn and our landing spot was slightly inland.

3rd Meadow
By dawn, we had a space cleared for Thorn’s Tower to be enlarged and we settled down to rest and have a decent meal. A bit later on, the border patrol arrived and we ended up paying 100sp entry tax. If we wanted to trade, we needed to talk to the market master. I asked about trade with Azura and Thonia and they suggested we talk to the harbour masters at the cities of Taranto and Salerno.

5th Meadow
The next hop took us two days and I was trying to navigate by following the coast The plan was to follow the coast then fly down over the Fagomu Gap between two of the large islands, then make a stop at the southern point before the cloud ran out. I thought I had landed in the right place but it was soon discovered that we had gone off course a bit and had touched down in a rocky area that had an acid and brimstone scent. I think I’d better get hold of a sextant and a good time piece set to Seagate Standard Time.

Grizelda, in bear form, summoned a bear spirit in order to find out where we were and what we hand landed on but what she got was “All who live here are bloody – let some blood out and see”. Had we parked on a Hellmouth i.e. near a portal to the Hells? I then had to put Grizelda to sleep with Knockout Gas as she got possessed by the spirit and started to wander off into a deep ravine.

Shizane then summoned a fire elemental who said there were lots of cousins living around here., some of them that looked like smokey worms. We decided to leave before something around here decided we were edible – certainly there didn’t seem to be much to eat around here. So, flying spells were used to do due south towards Thonia, finally landing on a sandy beach.

Chapter Two

C-c-c-c-c-changes

It was dusk by the time we landed on the coast of Thonia and night passed uneventfully. All we heard was the sounds of the surf lulling us to sleep.

6th Meadow
To get to the Shaman at the Lake, all we need to do was to follow the river but that was when the argument started, running with fire or flying with wings. Wings won, especially when it was pointed out we had to cross the lake. So .... off we went Two thirds across the lake we detected the edge of a high mana zone which we we were flying into. Grizelda didn’t like the idea of that, especially since it wasn’t there last time she was here, so she turned around in an attempt to go around it while the rest of the party kept going. While grumbling, I changed course to round up my errant flier while the rest of the party continued on. Once Grizelda had been convinced that it was too big to go around, and that we were going to have to enter it to get to where we needed to go. Nothing bad happened and we finally found the shaman camp on the southern shore, located at the centre of the HMZ

The enclosure contained roughly 1000 people, and ‘far too many birds’ according to some. At least half the people were shamans or their apprentices and all those birds were required for reading entrails. By the time Grizelda and I touched down, the others were talking to an old shaman with twiny carved patterns on his staff. This was Shoja – the Shaman of Change.

We spoke about spell differences between our style of magics and theirs. Our’s was more personal wheras their spells affected many at once. He then told us he wanted us to investigate the Winds of Change to the east and ensure that the change goes in the favour of the tribe. I told him about the other messages we had received and we were coming to the conclusion that they may be referring to the same event.

We spent the afternoon being entertained by the junior shamen finding out about their culture and learning how they do things. That night, we were all invited to sleep in one tent that was surrounded by runes. We were supposed to sleep while rituals were done to alter our spells to be more co-operative with each other.

7th Meadow
The next day, other possible changes were discussed. I think Shizane got one, and when I started talking about my .... lack of self esteem problem ... the shaman got all enthusiastic. I think I got hexed before I had a chance to say I wanted to sort it out on my own efforts. Still ... nothing seemed to happen – hopefully.

He also knew that the merchant to the west Shahed, was close by with a herd of caliphants , a cross between a camel and an oliphant – an enormous elephant. So, after a five mile fire run we found his camp and looming over that, nearly half a dozen caliphants. So I fluttered up to get a closer look at one and promptly got splattered by a giant ‘spitball’. Once we found Shahed, he told us that the local tribesfolk, the Hawk Tribe, had gone east and were scattered by a flight of red dragons from the south-west. The people had been scattered and some of them had been lost – even groups of twenty. He wanted us to investigate and had a rather heavy sack containing various valuable metals as payment. So we agreed to investigate.

Chapter Three

Revelations, Robbers and Revolting Worms

When we got back, Shoja took me aside and said he had tried something on me but nothing seemed to happen. He asked me some questions, then, based on my answers , he came to the conclusion that there was a conflict between my body and my spirit. It seems my spirit is more halfling than elf. So, was I meant to be a halfling? Certainly something to think about I suppose.

After some discussion it decided we were going to Azuria to find the villages of paralysed people. More 'discussion' later and we came to the conclusion that cloud flying was the safest way to travel for not running into dimensional folds. Basically the faster one is going when encountering the fold, the bigger the resulting mess. Also, to get to Azuria, we had to pass over a mountain range. It took us all the rest of the day to get to the base of the mountains.

There were three primary routes through the mountains. Near one, we found a cave to rest for the night.

8th Meadow
The night passed without incident but, while preparing to leave, we discovered that we were short the gems that we got off Shoja. None of us on watch had seen anything and a search of the cave revealed no secret entrances. We did, however, detect three areas of magic on the walls. Nature of Magic: Shaping. College: No answer. The conclusion we came to was goblin earth mages with earth elementals.

There wasn't much we could do about it so we made our preparations to depart. It was midday by the time we were organised and it took the rest of the day to fly over the mountains. By nightfall, we had reached a flat scrubby area that was ten miles from the coast. The tower was set up and we settled down for the night.

I was on watch, in my usual spot on top of the tower that night when suddenly, the whole thing shook. After rolling across the deck I tried to take off and managed to get airborne after clipping the palisade. From there, I could see a large disturbance in the ground that was heading for the tower so I tried attacking it with thunderclaps in the hope of driving whatever it was away. Turned out to be one of those giant worms that we were told about. Meanwhile Thorn was detecting goblin minds in a cavern underground that were controlling the worm - and we had no way of fighting back. So, it was decided to get everyone else out of the tower, collapse it, then get off this plain and onto something a bit more solid.

I was trying to distract it away from the others with Ball Lightning while they did that and got shot at by a salamander. Turned out to be one of Shizane's but was being rather indiscriminate. Fortunately no one else was hurt badly as Thorn finally collapsed the tower and they legged it for a nearby rocky outcrop.

Chapter Four

Hawks, Vultures and Monsters. Oh My!

Once we had sorted ourselves out, we took off and flew off eastwards. Soon we flew into Bena Bay. We could see the heat from the city beyond and another glow, which possibly was the nearby volcano. Five hours later, we reached a river valley that looked rather fertile. Getting closer we could see a tent settlement below. We were then intercepted by giant hawks so I spoke to them. We ended up being escorted down towards the settlement. Also, it looks like their ‘handlers’ had a spell for bird growth – another difference between southern and northern magic.

     “Should I ask them to take us to their leader .... or feeder?” - Aurora

After landing, we met up with a representative of the Hawk Tribe, Zahed, the Hawk Master. We discovered that the tribespeople who had gone missing, were looking for wintering canyons, specifically the Rela, Shama, Fali, Armoud and Mere families. So far, they had been missing for two weeks. They also told us that there was a tribe of magic who live in the hidden ways.

     "Lath is why we control weather – so Lath can’t” - Zahed

He also said so that I should rank up my Control Weather spells so that Lath can’t slay me. When I said I was looking for exotic feathers for the Sorceress in Silver he said there was a phoenix in the Southern Mountains. We then got lucky with our Crystals of Vision and managed to produce a rather useful map of the area. Most of the afternoon was spent mapping.

9th Meadow
Next day, we prepared to leave before dawn and flew to the mountains to the east. A ‘friendly’ vulture told us that it had seen dead two legged creatures near a mine but it had been chased out by manticores. It hadn’t seen any hawks though, which was why it had moved into this area. and there was a good chance the giant hawk spell had worn off by now. As it left, I thought to myself that I really should rank up my Control Avian spell as well.

It didn’t take us long to find the village the vulture had described. It was near a mine and looked rather deserted. However, using a crystal revealed a rather macabre sight in a communual dining hall The windows had been smashed in and we could see dead bodies, lots of dead bodies, of which many had been chewed on. Snacking on one of the bodies was some sort of creature. So we buffed up and flew in to attack, landing in front of the main door. That was where we got assaulted by two of those creatures and four giant scorpions that just came out of the ground.

It was a short fight. I had to retreat up in the air in order to get away from one of the scorpions as the poison was getting to me, but the rest were able to quickly deal to them. The two strange creatures tried to run away but one of them was cut down by Shizane’s fire bolts. Once it was over, we took stock of the situation.

Chapter Five

What could be causing this?

None of the villagers were ressurectable, according to the healers, something really odd had happened. So Shizane built a fire and used that to divinate some of the corpses – fire mage style. A number of ‘manticore dogs’ (those strange creatures) and scorpions had attacked a few days ago. An actual manticore was also there as a pack leader and ‘military science’. The paralysed people were already in some sort of coma. At least they weren’t conscious when they were eaten. From what we could tell their souls had left the body prematurely.

Searching the village revealed little in the way of further clues, at least until we found a small chest. Getting it opened revealed what looked like paymaster records, around four thousand silvers and a record book written in an unknown language. From what we could deduce, their last record said something like “they’re at the gates, this may be our last entry”.

We retreated back to the tower those that could got to work trying to decipher the journal. Thorn found a reference to a nomadic caravan that had traded with the settlement for metals and had stayed for a few days. Gypsies perhaps? This had been before people had started dropping from what I was currently calling ‘Grande Morte’ - as opposed to the Necro spell ‘Petite Morte’

Two paths led out of the village – north to the mountains, and SE going further down the valley. We already knew that compressions caused distances to be deceptive in the mountains and these compressions expand and contract over time.

We also checked the mine but nothing unusual was found. That night passed uneventfully.

10th Meadow
It was decided to start searching canyons for the missing families. Maybe they were all affected by this ‘Grande Morte’ and needed saving. It was decided we would ride lesser ifriti mounts to ride so I was calling mine ‘Blaze’, to the amusement of the rest of the party. By late afternoon we had reached the head of the first canyon.

During the night, we could hear a creature in the distance that could be a griffon or a dragon but, apart from that, we were undisturbed.

11th Meadow
That day, we searched that canyon and found nothing before going up the ridge and over to the next one. On the way over, we got the impression that the distance travelled had been stretched – i.e. it was further than it should have been.

Next day, while working our way down the valley, we found another village as well as a nearby collection of tents and several horsemen. The horsemen were dressed for war with a mixture of silver chain and partial plate. The horses were also heavily barded. They carried insignias of half and half yellow and blue. They were also rather suspicious of us until we managed to convince them of our good intents. They already knew about the ‘manticore dogs’ and the paralysis as this village had been able to get a message out for help.

We were allowed to enter the village itself as long as we left our weapons behind, which we did. Mana was detected around the paralysed bodies but that proved to be non-colleged ‘wellness’ magic. Probing deeper told us that what as affecting the afflicted was some sort of non-colleged soul-sucking that had started occurring three weeks ago. None of them had dropped unconscious during the day, instead they had just not woken up in the morning. Plus it hadn’t happened all at once but seemed more to be in ones and twos over a period of days. Was it some sort of creature that was doing this? Something that fed on souls? Or were those souls being used to power some sort of artifact or even some sort of evil ritual. Illithids? Or even devotee’s of Liessa the Devourer?

Chapter Six

In which we do a lot of travelling but do not get many answers

Shizane believed that the hawk folk were way up north as this area seemed to be populated. There were some villages that we could check out on the way up. So I tried scrying for a nearby village and found one that had two halls. One seemed to be some sort of ritual hall but the other was the dining hall that had used cots in it, but all of them were empty.

After lunch, we headed off, by ifrit, and reached the mouth of the tunnel by sunset. This tunnel lead to the village I had scried and was twenty foot wide. The tower was put up near a cliff. Night passed without incident apart from the odd rock falling on the tower roof.

12th Meadow
We rode into the tunnel early the next morning. Inside, we encountered some arched, walled bridges over deep canyons. The tunnel took half a day to get through then encountered a fork in the road where a well used campsite was. It had been last used two weeks ago, presumably by the troops that we had encountered earlier. It was dusk by the time we reached the two halled village. This one was again surrounded by a defensive ditch and palisade but, instead of wood, this one was stone.

The gate was open, there were no guards, no heat sources, also from looking around the place looked like it hadn’t maintained for at least a week and a half. Further investigation told us that the store houses were empty, all the essential food was gone and so were the record books. This place had been evacuated.

It was dark by the time we finished so that the gate was shut and the tower set up. According to Grizelda’s bear spirit the mines were also uninhabited. During the night, we heard that strange creature again. Also, during the night, Ben did an astrology reading to find out what had happened to the villagers. What he got was:

     “Gone are the people, out of their beds”
     “Taken by the druids, to the green hills”

13th Meadow
Next morning, I was trying to get information by talking to birds but wasn’t having much luck getting information.

     “This twitter isn’t working” - Aurora
     “You’re a bird mage – you’re supposed to tweet a lot” - Grizelda

We then took a slow cloud north – just in case we ran into a rift so the trip took most of the day. On the way, I steered well clear of the the volcano.

     “She can’t be a halfling, She avoided the volcano” - Ben

14th Meadow
The following day, we searched the valley that Shizane had thought that the hawk people were. Unfortunately we found nothing, but it looked like that they had been here a few weeks ago. So we put the tower up for the night. Again there were no incidents during the night, not even the sound of that strange creature, probably because we were too far north.

15th Meadow
Ben had done another night sky reading in order to where the missing Hawk tribe people were and got:

     “Gone are the people out of their beds”
     “Taken by the dark, to yonder deep death”
     “The best time to do a reading the night sky – at New Moon” - Ben

We then debated what could be meant by the ‘Deep Death” was. Shizane was hypothesising that it was the volcano while I was going for the bottom off the nearby bay. Meanwhile, Grizelda was doing a rune warding ritual around the tower but failed. She got it going on the second attempt. The ward was against mages, magical effects and magical objects.

     “If the runes glow and disappear – wake everyone up” - Grizelda.

16th Meadow
The argument went on through the night and on to the next morning – do we go to the ‘green hills’ to the east or try looking for information in the nearby city. The city won the vote so it was a slow cloud trip over the mountains. We had just passed over them when we ran into a downdraft and a large air elemental blocking our way. It said “MASTER SAYS LAND!” I figured it wasn’t a good idea to argue so we landed. At this stage we could see the city on the horizon.

After landing, my cloud was dispelled and we were hit by a windstorm. I tried using my wings to try and stay steady but was slammed to the ground. The elemental commanded us to stay put ... and wait .... so we did. I really didn’t want to argue with it.

Thorn did, however, put the tower up. At least we were allowed to wait in comfort. Near dusk, a contingent of knights, riding ifrits, turned up. They stopped 500ft from the tower then one of them rode forward and demanded that we ‘open up in the name of Duke Varen.’ That was when we concluded we had crossed the border into Azuria and this was the border patrol.

Chapter Seven

In which we visit the city

17th Meadow
During the night, two riders had left and were arriving back as the sun came up. Meanwhile, Shizane was scrying a village that was covered in a ground hugging yellowish hued mist which seemed unnatural somehow, allowing only 20-30ft visibility. Looking at a second village from what he could tell it was broken and empty.

Two of the knights then turned up at the door with documents and credentials.

     “Effect on me of opening the scroll” - Thorn while doing a DA
     “Enlightenment?” - Aurora.

Fortunately the documents were permissions to enter the city and be in the local province. Once those were delivered, they rode off. We decided to head towards the nearby city, this time on foot, or sometimes in my case, wings. It was dusk by the time we crossed the river and camped. Nothing unusual occurred during the night.

18th Meadow
When we left we could see flat water barges travelling along the river being towed by oxen. Also an airship flew overhead.

That afternoon we reached the city. It was surrounded by high walls made of marble. A queue of farmers were outside the gates waiting to get in. It was curious though that the road was split in two halves. I guess it did look odd for people to see five people in noble armour, riding ifrits, asking a local farmer whether we should join a queue – especially when we finally figured out that commoners used one half of the road and nobles used the other half. So we headed into the city.

Inside, the roads were still segregated. I was shocked to see a unicorn pulling a cart. There seemed to be binding magic from the rune college in use and I was sure that the unicorn was enslaved. I was then distracted from what I would like to do to people who enslaved unicorns by the sight of an overflying pegasus.

Once we got past the hovels, foot traffic became basically non-existent. Beyond, we could see the castle nestled against the northern wall. However, our destination was a place, within catapult range of the palace, called the Date Estate, so named because it was surrounded by date palms. Also, in the NW corner, we could see it was full of towers, ranging from fifty to one hundred feet high.

It turned out that the ‘Date Estate’ was a noble guest house with it’s non-resident staff, including a butler, a cook, and stablehand. The building itself was basically a square, with a missing corner, surrounding a garden with a decorated pond in the middle. Our plan was to try and gather information so we spoke to the butler to find out who we should talk to. He suggested Astrologer Roya in the House of Stars, Summoner Radmon at the Gate Tower, and Necromancer Radmond. So we made arrangements to see them in the morning. Meanwhile I was trying to see if it was possible to get a message to Malphazar the Flowing to get his story on what was going on, but there didn’t seem to be any easy way of doing that.

19th Meadow
The following morning, I was up early, on the roof, watching the sun come up. I thought I was being sneaky and stealthy but the butler must have seen me at some point. Meanwhile Grizelda had put one of her protective rune circles around the building last night and, at the morning, discovered she was three runes short.

After breakfast, we headed off to see the astrologer. She told us that interpretation of a reading was dependant on the astrologer and suggested that Ben draw on his own experiences in order to interpret the meaning of the ‘deep death’.

Next stop was the necromancer whom we discovered was banging away in a forge located in a stone hut next to a 40ft stone tower. Unfortunately he couldn’t spread any more light on the ‘soul sucking’ effect.

Chapter Eight

Back at the guest house, we were told by our butler that there were noble families in the green hills to the east. I case I haven’t mentioned it, I should point out we’re in the Duchy of Valen. As for the charmed unicorns, I was told that the ‘Lady of Light’ was responsible for that. I was very tempted to have stern words with her about the ‘enslavement of a magical fae sentient species’ as I considered them.

The rest of the day was spent shopping for local fashions suitable for visiting nobles with. I ended up paying 5000sp to have something made in blues and oranges that looked rather fetching – and a bit revealing. I was looking forward to showing this to Aaron.

20th Meadow
Again, we were three runes down the next morning. Ben wanted to speak to the Lady of Light so a couple of us followed along. Her Tower was silvery white with a marble base. No doors or windows visible but I could see a balcony 60ft up. So I fluttered up to have a closer look There were windows, but when I landed on the balcony, I must have triggered a whitefire ward. As a result, I ended up in midair, looking rather scorched, smelling of smoke, daubed with soot, and with a bad case of split ends. So I drunk a healing potion and fluttered silently back down. I was really starting to dislike this lady.

The others had, by now, determined that the tower was an animate construct. Without finding any way in, we went back to the guest house where I got a cleansing flame from Shizane. I must be getting used to this as it didn’t seem to hurt so much.

A quick trip later on to get our new clothing, which I decided to wear for the rest of the day, then all of us returned to the Lady of Light’s tower. This time we had Thorn who mindlinked Ben to the Tower but all he got back was a a vision of a glowing door in response to his question. Grizelda then drew a light rune on the wall. That caused a glowing door to appear and we went in.

The tower, on the outside was only 40 feet across but, inside, it was 80ft. Bigger on the inside than the outside. We went up the stairs to the next level, past the suits of armour – presumably they were guardian animates – and finally up to the third level, where the library and the Lady were. Ben spoke to her and told her the story. She seemed rather dismissive of the fate of the ‘peasants’ and haven’t heard of the ‘Deep Dark’. I was really starting to dislike her attitude so kept my mouth shut during the entire visit. Basically I don’t think she was much help.

21st Meadow
Next day, again three runes were gone. Something to do with the arrival of our ‘staff’ perhaps. After breakfast, we left the city, spending eight days to get to the base of the green hills while passing through four towns.

28th Meadow
At the end of the eighth day, we reached a town with a ruined castle below it. Since this castle had been abandoned, this town was directly beholden to the Valens instead of going through a noble house. No one had bothered to spend the money required to restore the castle – in fact it probably cheaper to tear it down and rebuild, rather than restore – especially since local rumour said it was haunted. Maybe by druids perhaps? It was mutually agreed, although unspoken, that we would be going up there to investigate – a typical Guild Party, poking it’s collective noses in where it might not be ...... or is that fools boldly going where angels fear to tread. Still, we were looking for answers and that castle may have some.

Chapter Nine

29th Meadow
As it turned out, it didn’t. We spent the following morning poking around up there and found absolutely nothing. So we carried on up the valley and, after a while, we saw three fliers coming straight at us.

    “Should I fly up and meet them?” - Aurora
    “NO!” - the rest of the party. 

They turned out to be three glowing sphinxes looking for demons from the north and represented the Glorious Emperor on the Golden Throne. For a moment, I thought we had somehow wandered into the Lunar Empire. After a short conversation, they seemed satisfied that we were not the demons they were looking for and flew off, leaving us still wondering who this Glorious Emperor was.

By mid afternoon, we encountered a hamlet. No inn here so we pushed on, arriving at a larger hamlet, with an inn, just after dusk where we stayed the night. This was where I saw my first local elves, which looked a bit more stocky than their northern cousins.

During the night, Ben did a night sky ritual, asking the question “Which green yonder hills are the druids in?” The answer he got was “Spine of the mountains, branches four, two and two”. That had all of us scrambling for our map trying to figure out where that could be.

    “Maybe we should do something to get the druid’s attention” - Shizane
    “Ah. You’re talking about the fast path, not the best path” - Ben

30th Meadow
Carried on the next day, stayed at another hamlet that night.

1st Heat
Late on the following day, we reached a large town with docks on the river and a manor house on a nearby hill. It seemed reasonable to let the ruling nobles know we were here so we rode up to the manor house and were met by a bunch of guards and a lady. She said she would pass our message on to Lord and Lady Omid. So we went back into town and found accomodation in an apartment block. We saw more elves and, after observing and conversing with them, came to the conclusion they occupied the same niche as orcs do back home.

I was expecting a summons from the Lord and Lady to go up and see them this morning but all we got was a permission note allowing us to leave the road. Meanwhile Shizane believed that (s)he had found the area indicated by the astrology reading so, on the way further up the valley, we put the tower up and observed the mountain peaks. There were four that surrounded a green valley in the middle of the ‘X’ they formed, so we scried into it. It was a beautiful mountain valley with a lake in it but there seemed no sign of occupation that we could tell. It looked promising though.

Stopped at another hamlet at the end of the day.

2nd Heat
Another days travel and another hamlet that night.

Chapter Ten

3rd Heat
As the day went on, the sky was getting cloudier and cloudier, hotter as well. It seemed rather unnatural so we were wondering if someone was influencing the weather to cause a drought effect on the other side of the mountain. I had a word with the winds and they told me that the clouds were loaded with water but not dumping it on the windward side of the mountain range as expected, The south side of that range was still green and the winds seem to be acting normally.

4th Heat
Continued travelling for the next couple of days until the evening of the 4th we were up near the Triane plantation that was full of extensive orchids. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a footman whom we asked to pass on a message to Lady Triane that we wanted to see her. We were told to come back after dusk for supper.

So, we saw the Lady. We discovered that she used to know the druids. The reason that they were declared outlaw was political disagreements about the burning of forests further up the river. She also told us that she had received a message that undead had been attacking villages way back at the border and perhaps they were attracting the clouds to block the sun. She also mentioned two towns that the druids had helped to established that were made up of escaped slaves from the Great Desert.

         “First decent meal we’ve had in a while” - Grizelda
         “So says our cook” - Aurora

She also told us about dark unicorns which are nasty with a capital ‘N’ and are probably unseelie.

5th Heat
Next morning we left to return back to the area where the abductions occurred. It took us four and a half days by standard efreet to get back finally arriving on the 9th. The first two days were relatively uneventful apart from the fact it had started raining. By the third day, we were in wilderness and by the evening of the seventh we were in a forested area. There were signs of wild boar and other larger things. Next evening, a more mountainous area and the weather was getting wetter. We found a campsite with a stream running through it and claw marks around a small part. From what we could tell they were clawed equine tracks .... which includes the possibility of black unicorns. The area around the site was black and twisted forest.

9th Heat
Finally, midday on the ninth we found the town we were looking for. As we arrived, we saw a lot of farmers herding their animals aside.

    “I wonder what spooked them?” - Aurora.
    “Us. Remember what you’re riding” - Shizane
    “Oh yeah” - Aurora

We waited three hours, outside, in the rain, while it looked like the town was settling down for a siege. A few hours later, an earth elemental rose up and left a box on the ground. I went up, lassoed it, and dragged it towards us. Inside it was a note in several languages, fortunately one of them was in common. Basically they wanted to know what we wanted. She we left them a note, put it in the box, then left it in the spot where the earth elemental was. It rose up, took the box and left.

A bit later on, a delegation of three people between two shield walls exited the town. The note had explained we were here investigating the disappearances. We were told that the other refugee town had the same problem a couple of weeks ago. The ex pit fighters had just got up and left after being in a comatose state. Was whoever doing this had finally refined their technique?

Chapter Eleven

About an hour later, a person in saffron robes arrived, who told us that he was here on behalf of the druids. The druids had spoken to the entities involved, basically telling them to stop what they are doing and had retasked them. The souls already gone were gone – completely destroyed. Said entities, as far as we could understand were generic demon types, incubi and succubi. We were then given an option, take employment in a ‘takeover’ of their neighbours to the east, or stay out of it and leave. I was starting to feel sick to my stomach at this point, especially when I discovered that this person was an emissary of the Wise Duke – or maybe his avatar. At this point I didn’t care, I just didn’t want anything more to do with this, especially if any of the 77(?) were involved.

Fortunately, the rest of the party were in agreement and we headed off, by cloud, back to the Hawk Tribe. At least I was in the sky again, even though I wasn’t moving fast. We arrived there on the 13th and it took us until that evening to recover from all the ‘tides’ etc we had gone through. We were being watched by a hawk, then another one turned up with bright blue eyes? Was that Seir? Or someone else, someone who had a habit as infiltrating parties as a kitten – after all, who can resist a cute kitty. Some scrying later, we could see fires burning on watchtowers and the centre hall of the village where the knights had been was a ruin. Some villagers could be seen feeding pigs while armed with a pointy stick against any oncoming undead.

This evening’s astrology reading was:

       The souless have become the souleaters
       Marching in front of the bony horde
       Followed by the night
       Winding was their path in the Deeps
       To the Great Ford.

Definitely new moon tonight. The stars were crisp and clear.

14th Heat
The next morning, in celebration of Faerie Day and Midsummer’s Eve, I flew a fairy dance in the air, like I had done every year, but, this year, I still felt an empty hole as if my connection to the fae world was completely gone. I actually felt sad about that, but as Shizane and Thorn pointed out the fae may have been ‘playing’ me in order to get me on their side. Granted, the fae I was thinking of were cute and fluffy as well as being helpful little nature sprites but I was beginning to realise that only a few fae are like that. Most are chaotic and completely self centred at best and sadistic little sods at worst. And .. the main reason I wanted to be fae in the first place was to be able to fly like them with my own wings ... and I had found that through the Air College ... not the Fae College. So .. there seemed no point in seeking faeness any more. I’m sure the Mind Healers at the Guild were going to have a field day with me when they find out about that.

We flew by cloud to the southern village we had earlier scried. A force of five hundred undead had attacked there so we sent the remaining calvary off to report with the aid of my high speed air flight. We also left some investments with the surviving villagers to give them a better chance of survival.

15th Hawk
Flew back to the hawk tribe that morning. When we got back, we could see hawks and tribesmen flying in the sky. I so wanted to join them but it was pointed out that outsiders would not be welcome. Also, my cloud was being ‘nudged’ to avoid all this air traffic. I just let the cloud do what it wanted and we landed safely off to the side. And .. sure enough ... when I asked ... yes, it was a special midsummer celebration that only the most advanced fliers of the tribe took part in. I could become a tribe member by taking on the spirit of the hawk although I wasn’t sure what that would mean to my ‘elfness’, But I promised to think about it .... maybe this could be what I had been looking for all this time.

Next day, we started the long trip back to where the shaman camp was. This was to be a two day trip over 750 miles, again by cloud. On the way, we passed near a mesa where a couple of dragons were playing ‘cat and mouse’ with someone on top. It seemed very wise not to interfere so we took a wide berth. On the morning of the 17th we landed.

Epilogue

Basically Shoja was pleased with what we had done and discovered. As he put it .... we had tossed a lot of little pebbles into the water and the ripples were spreading, interfering with each other, and spreading. What would result, he had no idea but it would be interesting to find out. I had to agree. What was happening down here, deserved being watched by the Guild, especially with the Powers of Darkness being involved.

We stayed down here for nearly six weeks or so until we had mastered the ways our spells had altered then flew back to the Guild, arriving a few days before the Guild meeting. Divinations revealed that my attempt to use the Ritual of Change to restore my base abilities, where initially I had thought nothing had happened. had resulted in all of us losing personal restrictions and unlimited spell casting potential. Nice.

People

  • Shoja: Shoja is an older shaman of the Thonian desert tribesman. He is not affiliated with any specific tribe and appears to act as an Agent of the Great Spirit of Change. He has bestowed 'gifts' upon Guild Members before, though gifts from the spirit of change seem to come with a cost in a different area as well.
  • Shahed: Shahed is a Trader who operates the inland routes of Thonia. He owns a small number of Calephants, a fantastical combination of a large elephant and a camel that is an ideal massive beast of burden for deserts. It is likely he is a Hedge mage with a little skill in illusions.
  • Malphazar the Flowing: Malphazar is a Trader/Mage from Azuria who has had interactions with Seagate traders while working out of Dimazcus. It is rumoured when trading inside Azuria he uses a cloud ship to move his cargo, and he is highly suspected to be an Air Mage.

Mil Sci

Mil Sci will receive an EP bonus for ensuring Combats run smoothly and quickly

Daily Pattern

  • Sleep/Camp 12 Hours (6/6 & 6/3/3hrs)
  • Travel 9 Hours
  • Meals 2 Hours
  • Rituals 1 Hours

Travel Magics

Caster & Spell

  • Total speed:
  • Duration:
  • Ft cost per duration:
  • Effective travel distance:

Aurora - Flying

  • Total speed: 50mph
  • Duration: 630mins or 10.5 hrs
  • Special knowledge spell (2FT)
  • Effective travel distance: 525 miles

Thorn - Wings of the phoenix.

  • Total speed:40 mph
  • Duration:330 mins or 5.5 hrs
  • specialknowlege spell
  • Effective travel distance: 220 miles

Shizane - Wings of the phoenix.

  • Total speed:44 mph
  • Duration:450 mins or 6.5 hrs
  • specialknowlege spell
  • Effective travel distance: 330 miles

Ben - Wildfires.

  • Total speed:50 mph
  • Duration:320 mins or 5.33 hrs
  • specialknowlege spell
  • Effective travel distance: 260 miles

Shizane- Wildfires.

  • Total speed:44 mph
  • Duration:260 mins or 4.33 hrs
  • specialknowlege spell
  • Effective travel distance: 191 miles

Ben - Wings.

  • Total speed:39 mph
  • Duration:300 mins or 5 hrs
  • specialknowlege spell
  • Effective travel distance: 195 miles

Shizane - Efreet.

  • Total speed:60 mph
  • Duration:24 hrs
  • specialknowlege spell
  • Effective travel distance: 1440 miles

Watch Order

1st Ben 1st Grizelda.
2nd Thorn 2nd Shizane
2nd cont. 3rd Aurora

Marching Order

Main body front: Ben & Grizelda
Main body rear: Aurora & Shizane
Tail Guard: Thorn

Formations
Single file: Ben, Grizelda, Aurora, Shizane, Thorn.
Line Abreast: Ben, Aurora, Thorn, Shizane, Grizelda.
Two lines abreast: line 1- Ben, Thorn, Grizelda. Line 2- Aurora, Shizane

Buffs

Buffs listed in the table don't need to be detailed, other buffs not on the table must be mentioned at the time they are cast.
Y means always on, N/- means never on, 'Sit.' means when the party has time for buffs before a fight.
Weapon Spells which weapon/s it is going on normally should be noted also.

General notes.


Long Duration Buffs

Magic Rk Effects Dur Thorn Ben Grizelda Shizane Aurora F
Mind shield (Th) 12 +34 MR vs mental attack, no mind reading 25 hrs Y Y Y Y Y -
Primordial Armour (Sz) 15 80 Point Spell Protection 16 hrs Y Y Y Y Y -
Shadow Form (ben) 19 40 defense 10 hours Y Y Y Y Y -
Resist Cold (Au) 6 2 less gold damage, 2 gauge up 7 hours - - Y Y Y -
Witchsight 9 - 5 hours Night Night Night Night -
Rune Shield (Gz) 12 +17 DEF, 3 EN, 3 FT armour, and absorbs 1 spec grev 13 hrs Y Y Y Y Y -
Willow Healing (Gz) 8 Heals 3 EN/pulse for 10 pulses 16 hrs Y Y Y Y Y
Smite (Gz) 12 8 charges of maximum damage 13 hrs Y Y Y Y Y
Immolation (Grace of Fire?) (BG) 14 23 Defense IV 7 7.5hrs Y Y Y Y Y -

Short Duration Buffs

Magic Rk Effects Dur Thorn Ben Grizelda Shizane Aurora F
Mind speech (Th) 9 300ft mind to mind talking 100 mins Sit - - - Sit -
Force Shield (Th) 16 21 to defence 170 mins Sit - - - - -
Weapon of Flames (Sz) 20 +21 SC +10 Dam / +20 Damage Undead/Cold/Water 25 minutes - - - Y SS/Mg -
Strength of Darkness 9 6 strength 100 minutes - - - - Sit -
Feather Falling (Au) 10 Fall slowly 330min - - - - Y -
Arrow Flight (Au) 8 +9 SC +3 D 180 min - - - - Y -
Vapour Breathing (Au) 6 - 210 mins Y Y Y Y Y -

Map

Loot

SP

Items

Gifts

Calendar