Recap: The 1st of Sad saw the group leaving the Stonehelm Clan without having accomplished their mission. True, Seamus got to see his family, and bring them up to speed on things, but they never did find out how the ograns mask their scents from the Srik. They did leave word with Seamus' kobold friend, Kipyirip, who promised to look into the matter for the group.
On the way out of the Stonehelms, one of Seamus' cousins joined with the party. Angus Kurrold Stonehelm, son of the High Priest of Galgiran for the Stonehelm sub-Clan of the Warkore Clan of Dwarves, had been struck by the wanderlust. Angus had helped in the defense of the Stonehelms from the undead within the Grimbeard ruins, and heard only tales of Seamus' exploits. Realizing that his cousin was his best ticket out, he joined in the quest.
By the 5th of Sad, the group had made it out of Mount Basilisk, much to the relief of Xzax and N'Kara -- the ranger and the druid, respectively. Chimera parted ways with the group, here -- seeking to go back east in search of her clan. Seamus and Aust both wrote her scrolls of recommendation to protect her from the anti-ogran Rakorans.
Once that was done, the party had a new nemesis to face: Angus' personal hygiene. Dwarves are normally a fastidious race, but certain body odors give them no pause what-so-ever -- and Angus was less fastidious than most. After a number of freezing-cold water dunkings by Aust and N'Kara, Seamus took on the unenviable task of teaching his cousin about the world outside the Warkore Clan's halls and hearths.
After that, it was a scant two nights' journey to make their way back to the Black Holly II. Visik had called in friends to help stand guard over the Holly against another scrag, and the tomanths had agreed for warmth and minor pay. Gheledon and Thalst were more than happy to have the added firepower, though the minor expense on the coffers of the Holly bothered the ornery dwarf somewhat.
The 9th of Sad saw the party to Lok Sadic, where they were welcomed in person by the Baron Sadic Brevit. The baron was more than happy to accomodate them, catch up on events (such as the cause of Cleo's 'abilities'), and re-outfit the party. He also had news: Nearly half-a-hundred heavy triremes from Kur Maeth had come to Rakore's aid, helping to stamp out Davin's Plague. The only problem was the Inquisition-minded attitude of the duke leading the armada. Rial Mhenace, head manager for Gideon Enterprises, had sunk two of the triremes in response to the duke's heavy-handed attitude about mages and curing the disease. The duke had responded by blockading the mouth of the Galanus River, and withdrawing his aid from Teras -- much to the consternation of his own clerics and healers.
After this, the party made a detour to Kashin, arriving on the 10th of Sad. Aust reported to the Chosen of Xoriah, Saranella, bringing Lucian along with him. Lucian was converted to Xoriah's worship, and a new candle was lit for the young sorceror within the Temple of Flame. Saranella had terrible news, however -- the blockading triremes had left Teras, but only because the Rakoran city of Tulish (across the Gulf of Teras) was no more. The Church of Lul had rumors that the destruction of the city was a 'test' of some anti-mage weapon, but no one was certain. The entire armada had been withdrawn, and security around Kur Maeth had increased considerably.
The Chosen of Xoriah also asked that Aust take a young accolyte of hers to Teras, after Aust made the suggestion of creating a temple in Teras. If Aust could get the young man, named Malish, down to Teras and through the quarantine, then perhaps Xoriah's word might be spread even further. The discussion also wandered to paladins of Xoriah, and Aust was faced with the daunting challenge of considering the paladinhood, in Xoriah's name. Towards that end, Saranella would have a suit of armor comissioned, whether Aust would be the final wearer, or not.
The 11th of Sad saw the crew to Rilan, where they exchanged messages with P'Arkon, one of Mistress Brin's mage-allies at Lok Magius. P'Arkon indicated the everyone was trying to track down the origins of the blast that had destroyed Tulish, but the latest word from Mister Mhenace was to 'carry on in the search for the Al Fahiman object'. Aside from the party telling their trusted advisors, the secrecy of the project was being well protected within the Rakoran government.
While the crew was debating the topic, a thick volcanic ash began to fall upon Rilan. Some volcano far up in the mountains to the north had blown its top. What that meant was beyond the party, but some suspected a harder winter for Rakore.
Two days later, they landed at Thayer's Rock, where Seamus paid the crew and the party, and took the time to see who was in. Kirad, second-in-command to Rial for Gideon Enterprises, was on hand to brief Seamus. Though the secrecy surrounding the search for Al Mudim kept even Kirad out of some of the high-level information, Kirad had enough on hand to give the young captain enough to make his decisions. Kirad divulged that the origin of the blast was a sphere of anhiliation that had been dropped into a portable hole or bag of holding -- the two negatives had ripped a hole in space-time with explosive releases of energies. The same had been seen as a self-destruct for the cashe vaults of the various churches, during the War of the Undead -- but had not been seen since. Someone, somewhere, had managed to obtain the dreaded weapons -- and the rumor-mill insisted that a rogue portion of the Church of Lul was responsible.
Because Maui's family had been at Tulish, Seamus was able to make a glowing letter of recommendation for the young Sholin Marine Lord. Maui would take the Viper, a light galleon heading down to the remains of Tulish, on the next tide. The party bid their good-byes to young Maui, and wished him luck finding his family.
From there, the party journeyed out onto the high seas -- going towards Wuron S'fa with all available speed. The hydrofoils of the novel vessel proved most effective in evading the many Kur Maen triremes in the Gulf of Teras, and in the Straighs of Sloph. The party resorted to swift water* and the ship's wand of wind wall to enhance the hydrofoil's abilities in the calm straights. Despite the narrowness of the straights, and the numbers of triremes, the party made it safely through.
*The 2nd-level druid spell swift water, from Relics and Rituals, allows N'Kara to boost the ship's overall speed by 10ft/level for 1mark/level. In this particular instance, she added 60ft to the ship's base speed, for 6 marks per application. The wand of wind wall added an additional 40ft of speed to the ship's sails. The Holly held up to the punishment, though she nearly tattered her hardy sails -- since each 10ft of speed beyond her design capacity added +1 to the DC of her saving throws. All told, the Black Holly II was making 400ft/round, or 40knts (45 miles/hour) through the Straighs of Sloph!
The Kur Maen triremes had little in the way of priests to combat such a swiftly moving vessel, and their best ranged spell (call lightning) was practically useless -- for when they called in clouds to draw upon for the lightning, it allowed the dark Holly to disappear into the distance with her sleek hull and black paint. Even accurate trebuchet fire from some of the better, more heavily-armed triremes could do little against the experienced crew and Captain Seamus' best efforts. The crew's twenty-four marks worth of effort paid off when they rested in the Aboriac Sea, safe from the Kur Maen triremes.
The party pulled in to the same cove the Skate had used so many months ago, though the weather was much colder. Despite the frost on the ground, and the mist from their breath in the air, the 3rd of Dasad was a wonderful welcome home for Xzax and the crew. Seven days later led them into the elven city of Trishalamagne, in the dragon-held nation of Wuron S'fa.
Xzax spent a few weeks with his grandfather, pumping him for information. Jena and Gunju got to catch up on things. Seamus and the party got to rest, and prepare for the upcoming wedding on the 1st of the new year. Prat dropped in at one point, asking for permission to make the wedding rings, after he had divulged that Lok Magius and even the Chosen of Arpelos were helping to find the devestating weapons that had been turned loose on Tulish. Aust received a suit of studded leather armor that had once been worn by a lone Torch of Xoriah, dating back to before the Storm Wars. The rest of 1328 passed quietly, as winter developed a deeper grip on the city.
The wedding was officiated by Lady Blud, Cleric of Habrem, and spiritual guardian of the dragons. Twelve other dragons attended the ceremony, in their draconic form -- including Xzax's grandfather, largest of all the dragons, and ancient even by dragon standards. Lady Blud stated, "As this marriage represents hope between this man and this woman, let it also represent hope for the Dragon Nation. For here, a Paladin of Justice and a Samurai of Chamdoi'im are willing to overcome their differences and live together, for all the rest of their lives. Let hope guide us, and show us that dragons can live in peace with all the world's peoples."
The wedding rings of the bride and groom would take the place of their Kiriath Bracelets, and also destroy undead who approached too closely. The dragons had dug deep into their hordes, and come up with appropriate wedding gifts for the bride and groom. (This prompted Aust to mutter, "If I get married, make sure I do it in Wuron S'fa...!")
The beginning of spring passed peacably. N'Kara's heat returned, though Xzax was able to help her through the trying time. Xzax himself molted, gaining another three inches in height -- to put him at five-foot eight inches. Angus learned from both draconic and elven masters of weaponsmithing. Seamus and Aust learned much from Lady Blud. All of them pored through tomes, texts, and news from the distant lands as they waited for the day of Jena's delivery.
But ancient rumors proved true. A false prophet, bearing a false Princess Sword, was leading an army against the dragons. According to legend, whomever bore the Princess Sword would unit the Vridaran Empire and the Toomaran Tribes together into a massive army to take on an ancient foe. The false prophet amassed an army of nearly 250,000 in the Vridaran Empire, and gained another 100,000 in the Toomaran Tribes. The dragons had been preparing for just such an invasion, but already one of theirs had fallen. A white dragon had ventured too near to overflying the false prophet, and found that a powerful Disciple of Rahne was with the Princess Sword's wielder.
Xzax and the party wanted to stay and defend their new-found home, despite Jena's condition. Xynosalionisis -- oldest of the dragons, and Xzax's grandfather -- had other ideas. He told Xzax to continue on with his quest to find and destroy Al Mudim. Xynosalionisis also told Xzax that it was Brigain himself, God of Destinies, that had told the old dragon to sire a son that would go forth to join with the elves, and be lost. Brigain had, essentially, commanded that Xzax be conceived and raised. This revelation shook Xzax somewhat, and he reluctantly agreed to go, quickly to the one other place they could expect safety and sanctuary -- Hallis Island, and Prat.
Talan, a curious, older woman with a long nose and bright blue eyes, aided the party in escaping Wuron S'fa. She teleported Lucian and herself to one of the ancient Towers, and told the young sorceror what they were, and what they meant. Long ago, before even the Storm Wars, the Towers had been built to capture and create the Oddity and the Shield. After they were unneeded, the Towers would safely move all of Gaeleth out of the Oddity. Though this did not happen for another ten millennia, Talan knew the ancient secret to making the Towers work -- teleporting 150,000 tonnes of matter from anywhere to anywhere on Gaeleth.
With a gut-wrenching drop through the barriers of the very multiverse itself, the Black Holly II and all the party were teleported to Hallis Island on the 4th of Dalan.
Once Prat was filled in on the issue, the werebear-mage welcomed the party to the city of Gridolin.
Over the course of the next weeks, Jena finally came to term, and gave birth to her son on the 12th of Trilan. Jena and Gunju named the boy Itchiro, meaning 'first son'. What startled them was the bright blue color of his eyes, with flecks of gold in them. He had a shock of dark hair, and a brace of paladinhood on his left forearm. Itchiro was an infant destined for greatness.
Five days later, Prat returned with the Chosen of Arpelos, Garalus. The two had news for Xzax, and all the party. Xynosalionisis was dead. His sacrifice, however, had gained the Dragon Nation a great victory. There was only one, single battle, in which the amassed hordes of Vridara and the Toomaran Tribes had met all the forces of Wuron S'fa in combat in the Samite Hills. All the dragons, all their golems, all their trolls, and all the peoples that rallied to them had engaged the massed horde in one final battle to determine the fate of all dragons on Gaeleth. Xynosalionisis used an ancient spell to grant him a dying wish -- that all his great body's mass be converted to energy in one last attack against the Inquisition. The extremely ancient silver wyrm single-handedly killed nearly 40,000 troops before his death wish, which broke the back of the false prophet's army. Xynosalionisis and the white dragon Thedirisathin were the only dragon casualties of the battle, though the dragon's allies suffered greatly.
Lady Blud came later that night to console her nephew -- and be consoled by him. Together, they let out all of the sadness and hatred and pity and remorse they had in regards to the great dragon. Once Lady Blud had left, N'Kara helped the young half-dragon through the night, to come to terms with his loss.
Despite the news of Xynosalionisis' death, the overall news from the Dragon Nation was good for the party. The blessings of the Chosen of Arpelos, and later, the Chosen of Xoriah, over Itchiro were welcome. Aust and Lucian took the time to return to Kashin, where Saranella got a chance to examine the suit of studded leather armor Aust had received in Wuron S'fa. Lucian discovered that his old family friends, Elmonroe and Aladora, were living comfortably in Kashin's city proper. Aladora, however, suffered from some malady of the mind that left her spirit broken and lost.
Angus took to smithing for Soapstone, Incorporated for Duke Henrik Kamus -- otherwise known as 'Prat'. The duke paid handsomely, and was always bringing in more treasures, in his search to find weaknesses in the undead.
A monastery to Arpelos was established in the mountains to the northeast of Gridolin. The monastery was dedicated to exploiting and destroying the undead, and represented an unofficial alliance between the churches of Arpelos and Xoriah in their quest to destroy the undead. The monastery also served as a housing for the nearly four dozen spheres of anhilation and portable holes kept their. Prat, Jynx, Garalus, and an old mage friend of theirs had caught the rogue priests of Lul with the awful weapons of mass destruction -- and added a powerful weapon to Rakore's arsenal.
The Black Holly II was urgently needed for other missions, but Mister Mhenace made sure the the Rattler and a modest crew of fifty were transferred to Captain Seamus. The Skald of the Stonehelms immediately took to re-outfitting the light galleon to something more appropriate for the mission -- including strengthening her keel in preparation for N'Kara's powerful swift water abilities.
When next the party is ready to adventure, again, the date is the 11th of Davor, 1329 Avard.
XP Awarded: 2,100 (total to date is 18,850)
DM's Notes: Brandy had given Chimera a try as a Player Character, but it just didn't work out. She's a good role-player, and unfortunately for her or the party, the role of Chimera just didn't mesh with the party's plans. This, and a few near-disasterous leadership decisions by Seamus (disasterous in Seamus' mind, anyway) convinced the group and Brandy that Jena was needed once again. So, this was a logistical game, to give Jena time to have her baby, and get back on her feet -- to go off questing, again.
We rolled plenty of die, but the only combat was between the PC's. This gave them a chance to rest, get to know one another better as PC's, and stock up and prepare for the next adventures. I've already warned them, now that they have the Rattler, that the next mission will most likely entail a battle on the high seas.
The amount of player work to date has been staggering, from ship designs to home designs, dreams and hopes to morale judgements. This group is a great challenge to run for, with a sense of duty that is amazing. (Or, perhaps, not so amazing, given that most of them are servicemen and women in the US Army.) Regardless of its origins, this is a great bunch of people to run for.