Arcane Renaissance: Terra Rynn

Outlaws and Outcomes
Chapter 4

After the ambush, the party gathered themselves and search the immediate area for clues regarding their assailants. From their investigation, they gathered a few facts. At least one of the deceased bandits (their head imploded under Kazamir's sonic device) had the mark of the bloodhawks, a well known and powerful criminal organization, though their presence this far south of the capital is concerning. Also interesting was one of the bolts recovered from the sniper (and Mithrellis's armor). The bolt was closer to a large needle, made entirely of metal, it lacked fletching or irregularity. Lastly, was the absence of trails or markings from the xianlian caravan the party had been trying to catch up to. While a log in the middle of the path suggests a barriar, no sunken wheel ruts or footprints suggest the caravan was stopped. This caused for concern as the party wonders of the caravan was part of the ambush, or had advanced notice.

Pressing forward, the party continued along the road until they reached a branch for the night, in the small village of Terath. A small community built around a lumber industry, it boasted little more than a large boarding house and tavern. The party split up for the night, making arrangements and seeking information as they saw fit. Sorin, with his musical talents, sought to woo the local populace, and entertain the locals, gaining them local hospitality, and some gossip on bandits and affairs. Visiting with the party, they arrived at the Hostel of sorts that served as the main hub of activity for the region. Inside, they were met with dozens of wounded and injured travelers recovering from attacks, some having been there for weeks. Dominga, a priestess of Anael, tended to their hurts, and after the offer of aid by Mithrellis, warmed to their attentions and questions. They learned more about the type of attacks and personality of the bandits. Over the course of the night, Mithrellis would be able to piece the disperate locations and times of attacks from the wounded to gain an idea of where the bandits where located.

Meanwhile, Kazamir, Jace, and Boyd attended to the local tavern for other information. Not much was had, and the area was full of locals, who are more skeptical of these strange adventurers. Boyd, distraught by events, sought to relieve himself in drink, but his temper got the better of him, and nearly killed a local, who was of no real threat. Nonetheless, he did not make any friends that night. Jace, by contrast, managed to spot a struggling muscovan dwarf in the corner of the tavern. Suspecting more, she inquired and learned that he was Mikhail, the Federations envoy sent south to the outpost. Distraught, Jace learned about his plight; robbed and injured, he just managed to limp back to Terath. However, without his contract, he could not fulfill his mission, and he was ashammed and afraid to return home, fearing that he would be sent home and his families stipend recinded. 

Jace attempted to coax him to return, that she might prove her worth to the others, but Mikhail was not willing. When Jace threatened to drag him back by force, Kazamir managed to step in quell the fight. Several drinks later, Kazamir offered to help Mikhail recover his contract if possible, and they would return to the village when their mission ended.

Boyd, after unceremoniously leaving the tavern, briefly tranced before scouting the perimeter of the village for clues, and to clear his head. In the middle of the night, he spotted what looked to be a caravan, lit by torches, heading south along the road. Quickly, he gathered the party, and they moved to pursue them, hoping against hope that they may have caught a break. In the early predawn, the party caught up to a slow moving caravan, as it had stopped and voices could be heard. As a few of the party crept closer to hear, they stumbled, giving away there presence. The party just barely managed to remain hidden as guards swept the area. 

Weary and exhausted, the party retreated back into the woods a bit farther and high up from the road to camp out, deciding on their plans for the next morning. Sleeping in to the late morning, the party awoke to find Boyd gone without a trace. In his place, tangled and heaving in his bedroll, was a strange half-elven man, dressed in an odd mix of loose armor and pale robes, and brandishing a great silvered sword. Pinned and question, the man revealed himself to be Riardon, a svanesse citizen, recently returned. Claiming to have been trapped in the Feywild, he claimed that, to his knowledge, the year was 105 last he spoke to his mother and left the mortal plane. 

Before he could be questioned further, though, bolts shot out through the air and the party was set upon in earnest by a set of bandits. It appeared the forces that had escaped the previous day had returned with reinforcements, and meant to finish the job. The battle was scattered and tense for a brief moment, but soon the combatants fell. Their strange captive went to the party's aide without hesitation, and displayed an unusual and supernatural power. His fighting style was wild and ephemeral as he charged without hesitation toward foes, and lept prodigiously into the air moments before severing limbs from bodies with his blade. 

In the end, their were no survivors. Initially, two captives, the swordsman and the mage were captured alive, magically sent to sleep by Riardon and Jace. However, when interrogated, they gave little info. Uncooperative, Riardon quickly executed them before the decision could be agreed to. One piece of information was gained however; the bandits did confirm they had a base in the area, and according to the swordmaster, a passphrase (Anotha) needed to be given to the scouts to alert their party of their presence. 

At that point, the party resumed to discussion and disagreement as they worked to make sense of this new stranger. Without another path, Riardon agreed to help the others find their ally Boyd, and stay with them on their current endevor. Seeing him fight, the party found that it was best to have an experienced fighter near to them rather than alone on the road. With trepidation, the party sought to head north into the deep forest to find the bandits camp and, if possible, cut the rot from the trees. 

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License to Kill
Chapter 3

Looking to pursue the bandits raiding trade caravans south of Vinne. To that end the party began making preparations before venturing south. Jace, on her own accord, went to visit some of the merchants hold up in the city. There, she spoke with Kiang Xiaoli, a Xianlian merchant who has some recent knowledge and contacts. With some persuasion, Jace was able to make an agreement with several merchants; an investment of sorts. With a small down payment, Jace offered to clear the bandits from the crown road, and open the roads for the merchants. In exchange, they would be given advance notice of the clearing, and would leave a small bounty for Jace upon her return.

Also, while haggling with the Merchants, Jace learned of a Muscovan Federation merchant, Mikhail, who was part of a small entourage. He had set out to a Xianlian outpost ahead of the rest, and was cited as missing by his compatriots. Jace agreed to look into the matter if convenient. 

Meanwhile, Kazamir and Sorin returned to the town hall to gather info on the bandits from the town officials. They were directed to speak with councilman Enrique, the trade magistrate. Terse, and skeptical, Enrique provided scraps of info on the bandits activities, operations. Between their visit, and some additional intel gathered by Mithrellis, they learned the bandits seem to be waylaying caravans crossing the crownroad that are week and undefended. These tend to me more independent or sole proprietor merchants, not guild merchants. There appear to be a mix of unscathed, wounded, and dead as a result of these ambushes. Also, while reports seem to indicate that many of the bandits were likely exiles or criminals prior, there is sense of coordination in the attacks. 

While hesitant, Enrique did agree to offer the party a warrant for the capture or death of bandits in the region. With legal protection, the party was given license to defend and attack outlaws that did not submit to local rule. Since much of the region is fairly unsettled though, the effect is more a de facto bounty, provided the party don't leave cause for retribution. 

Lastly, the party, through the merchant Kiang, was given a contact that they could 'escort' and travel with – a Xianlian iron merchant named Leng Xiang. Expecting to leave with the Xianlian the following morning, the party learned that the caravan had left ahead of them, with no hesitation or delay.

Confused and apprehensive, the party set out quickly to gain ground and reconvene with the caravan. While the party did well to move quickly, Mithrellis eventually gave way to the rest of the party, falling behind. He would gain on the party again, but only just as they were ambushed only a few hours outside the city. 

The ambush was far from a surprise, the party spying an obstacle in the road just past a bend. Jace and Sorin snuck their way forward through the underbrush, Sorin being spotted only a few feet away. A brief struggle ensued as the bandit attempted to pin Sorin, though he was able to nimbly escape the clutches. From there, pandemonium erupted as bolts flew through the trees and strange fog appears, masking the approach of several others in the trees. The party fought a harrowing battle, leveraging their magic against the cunning of the bandits. Sorin's flame and Jace's mental torments managed to sow fear and chaos in several bandit bruisers, while Boyd and Kazimir would fight a skirmish with a mage and skilled swordsman. All this took place under pinning sniper fire. 

Slowly but surely, the party would kill or injure a handful of the assailments, pressuring them to a retreat. The bandits were able to leverage magic to escape, but only just. Battered, but alive.

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Merchants, Mercenaries, and Thieves
Chapter 2

The party has recovered a chest of a wealthy and mysterious Arkoshian dignitary, discovering several golden tablets worth a noble's ransom. With that information, Jace and Sorin spent some time carousing the town's taverns on information about Arkoshia. They learned that most of the mercenaries in town are being paid, in Arkoshian coin, for no explicit purpose. 

Meanwhile, Kazamir and Mithrellis met with the town council to explain the disappearance of the mayor and help quell unrest in the city, as well as put an end to the quarantine. The meeting didn't  go well, as the council was rather superstitious and skeptical of the parties claims without any evidence. Only later did they manage to support their case and earn some trust, but not the adulation they perhaps were hoping for.

Afterward, over the course of a week, the party took care of their own affairs. Sorin and Jace, each through their own means, managed to make a name for themselves and the party and quietly spread their tales through the town populace. Sorin even managed to do so while earning a small fortune gambling. 

About a week later,  Mithrellis 's senior, Lieutenant Charnach questioned him on his activities immediately after arriving, and Mithrellis  revealed the origins and remains of the Night Hag. He was shown the head by Boyd, which was promptly burned. Upon further questioning, Mithrellis   revealed that at least one item was recovered from the Night Hag, her staff. 

He revealed that his companion Jace, possessed it, and they both sent for her to bring it. However, Jace evaded, and after a series of poor deceptions and evasions, eventually used the staffs recently acquired power to alter Charnach's memory of the staff. This action would cause a division between Jace and Mithrellis . Now with plans to resolve the issue of bandits south of the city on the  Crownroad, the party wonder's if their new found partnership can keep the trust that has been made. 

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Rise of the Vilnach
Prologue and Chapter 1

our story begins in the city of vinne, one of the lone islands of civilizations in the southern kingdom of svain. the youngest of svain's metropolitan city centers, vinne houses a population around 8,000, with another 8,000 in the outlying villages, namely to the north and east. founded 120 years ago, svain lies on the southern border, and serves as a trade hub for frontier settlers and merchants that explore the southwestern frontier of the kingdom.

the kingdom of svain, at present, enjoys a uneasy peace with its southern neighbor, the empire of xianlian, as well as the turathi kingdoms and the arkoshian caliphate to the east, across the halien straits. the gnoll hordes to the west, in the howling savannah plague much of svains western expanse, their raids keeping much of the expansion contained. the other main threat to svain are the goblins of escabla. more organized than the gnolls, they still lack the organization to let them be self sufficient, and so they periodically make war on the svanesse, predominantly by campaigns in the northern end of the continent. the result is an army stretch to maintain an every growing expanse of border, and forced to prioritize threats. the city of vinne, to date, has remained relatively protected. outside its founding, the city has remained safe from raids and assaults in the years that it has grown. the garrison, remains vigilant, though never tested. however, for those who consider svain a threat, vinne stands as a small monument to svains aggressive territorial ideals.

in the year 305 after empire, our party has found themselves in vinne, each for their own reason. the ridire squire mithrellis, hailing from scietti, is on pilgrimage on behalf of his order, and has traveled to the frontier town to find a means to aide the locals against any outsider threats. the performers sorin and jace are part of a turathi troupe that is currently roaming svain in their nomadic lifestyle. sorin is a talented acrobat, musician, actor, and sorcerer extraordinaire, whilst jace is an extraordinaire musician, and gifted with 'the voice', able to harness music toward magical ends. the muscovan known as kazimir is an immigrant from his homeland, looking to enhance his skills in crafting and artifice. vinne is only the most recent location he has managed to find a mentor and develop his skills outside the observation of the federation guilds. lastly, the sciettish mercenary, boyd, is recently returned from excursions in arkoshia, where he is dealing with the trauma of losing his squad to betrayal, and is hiding in self imposed exile.

the party meet each other, a foggy night in vinne, to the sound of warning bells and shrieks of panic flood through the street. the clamor can be only one thing – gnolls. despite a history of caution, it appears the gnolls have turned up in force, and sought to take the town. the party come across each others path in a desperate fight for survival, able to kill or wound gnolls where citizens and garrison recruits do not. they fight desperately, retreating back to the garrison. all, accomplished spell casters, are able to bend their magic to holding of the wave of savagery for a time. yet, their foe is relentless, and cunning. despite not having as many numbers as would be expected, they seem to gain every advantage, and dispatch resistance methodically and deceive. in the end….they die, hold up together in a bunker.  

only…they dont.

THE DREAM

the party awake to find the event a dream, real and vivid. more importantly, as they walk the town, they recognize their faces, and the sight of recognition is returned. not in all, but for the party, there is a shared sense of suffering, if not real, than what? the party, though, were not the only ones to remember this shared dream. another, a young man named mateo, begins to gather the disparate few who recall this experience. with the parties help, he is able to give them knowledge of something deep and sinister. 

from there, the party take up his mission, scouring the city for information regarding this strange dream that has infected the town, with most unaware of it. they explore the sewers underneath the city, encountering a strange rat man that harriers their exploits, and the influence of a strange fungi that has begun to grow in the humid waters below. little by little, they track the influence, down through the broken water treatment plant, and the sewage outlet, where they encounter a vile beast that guards the way. disease for a time, mithrellis and boyd recover as the party retreat, relaying their information to mateo. as time passes, the party gain more clues, but the forces that be act in response. the party eventually finds a trail leading from the sewers to the bluffs west of the city, along the lake. tenuously, the party makes the trek, and with perserverence, finds a cave system hidden among the shoals. inside, the cave is filled with the same fungi as the sewers, the place seemingly isolated and removed. as the approach the back of the cave, though, they are assaulted by strange beasts, bat like creatures of darkness, and primordial sludge that seems on pure mindless death. the party utilize fire and lightning, and wrest themselves from these monstrous creatures, wounded but alive, and more intrigued than ever.

the party returns for new insights, only to find mateo dead, stone cold and without struggle in his inn bed. the authorities are alerted, and make to remove the body, but not before jace can lift some of his positions for the party to puzzle over.

amongst the items are a medallion of the organization mateo spoke of, the protectorate, their mission somewhat unclear. more strange, though, is an odd orb, black as the night sky, and specked with starlight within. in contemplation, mithrellis awakes the soul within, an angelic mind that calls itself eshrim. here, the party learns that he has worked to aide mateo in his hunt for the vilnach, an ancient foe, demons and worse that seek to destroy the world they know. mithrellis pledges his servitude to eshrim, in exchange for information and aide, and a bond is formed.

with eshrims gifts, the party returns to the cave, determined to find answers. past the point of the prior ambush, the party finds the cave has a pocket beyond. upon deep exploration, they find the remnants of a hideout. a home, of sorts, the lair is filthy, and barely hospitable. yet, before they can investigate, the party is set upon once again, this time, by gnolls. gaunt, ragged, and famished, they assault the party like starving animals. sorin is nearly torn to pieces, and saved only just by boyd and kazimir. once dispatched, the party explore the cave in detail. they discover strange fey script, odd alchemical work, and ancient and rather gruesome texts. beyond this layer, lies one last chamber. as the party press on, they see the remnants of a cage, seeing the gnolls where kept as captive.

THE CAVE

hearing a strange muttering, the party investigate, and are surprised to find three strange creatures around a room, with a cauldron, and a strange beast on a throne beyond. the creatures are not friendly, and appear to posses magic of their own. a desperate fight ensues, as the party struggles against the magic. as they would discover, the hags possess a powerful advantage in a group, and nearly kill sorin, jace, and boyd. the gifted voice of jace is able to rescue sorin and boyd from unconsciousness before she too falls, and mithrellis manages through deft swordplay to pin one hag to the cauldron whist kazamir utilizes his strange devices to detonate one of the hags in a gore explosion of sound. battered and burned, the party explores the remnants of the cave, and meet the strange beast, a captive by the name of pophorous. known as a mycinoid, pophorous explains how he can speak through the fungi, and his mind is one with those who have inhaled the spores. the party realize that the spores have likely spread throughout the city, infecting anyone within miles. 

pophrous goes on to explain how he has been forced here against his well. indicating his chair, he is seen to be growing on the throne, unable to move. in has lap, a strange rough hewn crystal, the size of a cannon shot, it shows cracks of dark back and red vines fractured from within. pophorous explains how he isn't allowed his own dreams, but rather the dreams of the mind within the stone. eshrim expounds, stating that this is the mind of a powerful vilnach, an otherworldly creature. the party conclude that this creature have manipulating the dreams of the entire town, making them relive the same horrific experience over and over, but yet they forget it in the morning. 

the party, then interrogate one of the hags left alive, though they don't tell much – mocking the party in a strange ancient language. they speak of one more hag, their leader, othera, and the vengeance that will be visited upon them. the party, weary and without patience, kill the remaining prisoner, and speak with pophorous on how to free him. explaining how their sun will degrade him, the party must wait till night to move him, and must develop a system to move his large body across the crag like cliffs near the lake. 

the party decide to leave pophorous where he is for the night, and return the following night with supplies. they do so, and come back to discover pophorous dead, the hags bodied burned in solemn ceremony, and a message of warning waiting for them. "return the stone, and you will be spared". naturally, the party refuses, and so a desperate hunt for othera, while trying to avoid the same plight that befell mateo. after the insights of eshrim, the party learn that othera is a master of disguise, and has made herself in the image of dilila, the mayor of vinne. in a meeting, they come to a silent understanding of each other, and later that night, mithrellis is visited in message. othera asks that the party return to the cave once more, to parlay, otherwise the citizens of the town will suffer her wrath.

the party, sensing an trap, relent to showing, in an effort to take othera, dead or alive. the party arrive, and after doomed negotiations, boyd attempts a rear ambush against othera. despite having the visage of an old woman, othera proves a formidable foe, with skin stronger than steal, sharp claws scour kazimir and mithrellis, while sorin and jace attempt to pin their foe with magic. with the tide turning, though, othera senses danger, and retreats into the ether like a ghost. nearly lost, kazimir is able to locate her moving through the earth itself by her staff, an artifact of magical power. like a beacon, kazimir tracks the item through the caves, the earth, the city, and back to the sewer. as the minutes tick by, the signal begins to wane, even as the party tracks their foe through the sewers. hidden and unseen, the party nearly fail at capturing othera, wounded. at the last moment, mithrellis and sorin are able to conjure bolts of magical force that, with kazimir's aide, find their target in another realm, and blast her back to their dimension. captive and unconscious, boyd removes her head for surety, and proof of the threat.

AFTERMATH

at this point, the parties exploits have remained secret from the rest of the cities knowledge. silent heroes, little know of the plight they have faced, from either the strange dreams, or othera's vengeance. as the party returns to the city up top, they set about alerting the authorities of the extent of the damage, and help in uncovering the damage othera has done to the council. as a member, the reach of her influence is unknown. the party meet with the council: blanca quinteros, the garrison captain, emmanuel viernez, the trade minister, oliver chapa, the artisan guild master, and lucero magallanez, the vice regent. the party detail their exploits, and are met with skepticism and supervision by some. when the party accuse dilila of masterminding corruption within the city, the council question the timeframe, arguing that dilila has been a resident of the city for decades.

quelled, the party, bent on making sure that othera hasn't done any lasting damage, seek to gather evidence of her actions. they investigate her manor, where they discover a band of mercenaries hired as guards, rather an garrison recruits. with some stealth, they find arkoshian gold, evidence of a foreign agent, and signs of graft and abuse. more questions, but fewer answers. eventually, the party gather aides to investigate the sewers, the treatment plant, and the caves, demonstrating the extent of the work. slowly, but surely, the council begins to understand. nonetheless, the party is now left confused – what was the meaning of all of this? what are the vilnach? is the city still in danger?

ONWARD

eshrim seeks to aide the party in these questions, and more, but lacks the information at this time. he explains how the mind that speaks is only a portion of his own, the rest kept in safe keeping deep within an ancient forest. he asks that the party, if willing, can take him to this place, that he can answer their questions, and find out more about the influence of the vilnach.

the party agree, though debate the means to do so. they realize that without the support of the town, they lack the resources to make a journey, nor can they hope to deal with any new complications. they decide to delay, and seek a practical means to increase their resources. as such, they decide to hire themselves out as bounty hunters and bandit hunters. inquiring with enrique as well as local merchants, the party collect assurances of payment and assistance in trade for dealing with bandit threats to the south.

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