Arcane Renaissance: Terra Rynn

Hassling with Halflings
Session 28

In the beginning of the third month since the start of this great undertaking – the party of adventurers find themselves on a lonely stretch of road. It was several days since Mithrellis, Jace, Sorin and Riordan had left the trading town of Quhua. Given their reception inside such a trading hub – they were loathe to make themselves known to an army unit marching their way down the road. Seeing no reasonable option to hide – they greeted the Captain with aplomb.

Given that Jace could understand this marvel of a language (revolving around pitches and tones no average foreigner could distinguish) – she acted as translator between the party and the Captain. The Captain got straight to the point and Jace was simply delighted to inform the group that this Army Captain had the intention of commandeering most everything not nailed to their persons.

In the ensuing discussions with the Captain Mithrellis, Jace and especially Sorin found themselves to be in possession of cooler heads(Riordan repeatedly reminding the party of these creatures mortality) – and therefore acted to determine how best to handle the demands of the Captain. As a result of their actions – no disgrace was brought upon the Group’s Sponsor Kiang Xiaoli – and no Xianlian had to die.

Soon after this, dusk began to fall – and an abandoned township was clearly visible from the campsite. This predicament was of concern to Riordan – especially on the night of a New Mooon. Riordan therefore enlisted the aid of Sorin Dalca to explore and attempt to ascertain the possible cause of the distress. After all – the easiest way to die in the Feywild is to stay willfully ignorant of the threats near around!

Upon entry into the city – they found one native left – a drunkard slurring and carrying on in a fashion reminiscent of Boyd Ferguson after enjoying a sewer battle against an Otyugh. Regardless, through his ramblings and ruminations Riordan was able to ascertain something about a curse on the spoiled well. In so doing – Riordan revealed capabilities previously not made obvious to the group. It was at this point, that Mithrellis was called in – magical investigation and alchemical processes being a specialty of his. After investigating the well – it was determined the water was being tainted by some Necromantic fount. Mithrellis’s extended explanation of how this could happen, led Riordan to realize his knowledge of the natural world would allow him to lead the way to the source of the water flow – and hopefully the contamination.

A short period later – they found themselves in a mine complex. As they went, they found a number of holes dug in a methodical fashion. After investigating this oddity(and more than a little unnecessary swimming on Riordan’s part) an Apprentice Necromancer killed the Owl familiar of the Wizard Mithrellis. Mithrellis, quite piqued by this called upon the aid of Sorin and captured the lad.

The lad was forced to lead the group to his camp having revealed he had stolen the spellbook of his master – and failed in his attempts to duplicate these magics. Mithrellis took the most dangerous spells from the boy’s spell book, and offered the lad an opportunity. Help rebuild the community he had destroyed – and with it his name as he becomes a famed Deathspeaker. The lad was at first unimpressed – and dissatisfied with his end of the deal. Mithrellis, however went on a harangue so long that not a single other party member had the patience to sit and translate. However – in a first time for everything moment – Mithrellis actually got through to the boy! Without the use of torture devices, or even low-protein gruel, no less!

As such, we find the party once again ready to hit the road – on a quest to save the world!

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The Fey Adventure and Return to Rynn
A Sora Dalca Perspective

There are a few things in life that Sorin Dalca enjoyed more than anything else. Waking up with a couple of beautiful women or men in his bed, great parties, performance, and being recognized for his obvious greatness. The Feywild seemed lacking in all categories.

After leaving behind dead fungus creatures called “Red Caps” and deciding to venture on to find Boyd, the people Sorin considered the next best thing to his left behind troupe ran headlong into a group of swamp creatures. They had come here seeking something called the “Gravetree” searching for sap in a mission for Riordan’s patron. “And some patron too,” thought Sorin sulkily, “No gold, no fame, no beautiful women – just the risk of death.”

The crazy elf, Riordan, had jumped ahead of the group making an immediate run towards.. something. Sorin couldn’t be sure what as the light here was dim and thus seeing anything was very difficult. As he stayed behind with Jace, Mithrellis had started after Riordan taking his light with him. Slowly Jace and Sorin followed behind.

No, the Feywild had thus far proved to be quite the disappointment, Sorin ruminated. No beautiful women, no parties, no chances to perform, and really nothing seemed to recognize him as anything beyond prey. In the near distance some things sounded to be shambling in the swampy land. In a different direction, he heard Mithrellis begin to engage with some enemies.

The tattoos on Sorins skin begin to glow lightly under his shirt. Idly a wandering thought in his brain regretted not having a mirror nearby or a warm body to impress – Jace certainly wouldn’t care, and it was a serious pity that nobody was around to appreciate just how awe inspiring he certainly looked in that moment.

A great tattoo not far from his heart ignited sending power surging down through the inked lines on both of his arms. His hands moved bending backwards as he touch the undersides of his wrists together. The energy streaming down his arms coalesced into a flaming mass before his eyes and then launched into the distance. An explosion could be seen shortly after, three bodies suddenly ignited, two falling to the ground.

Well, there was perhaps another thing Sorin enjoyed more than anything else. Burning things to the ground. He smiled, and went to work.


Great makers – Riordan on his crazy mission for tree sap had lost a foot. He had grown sulky, and annoyed. Everybody wanted to flee the feywild, but Sorin was now pretty committed to staying. He liked Boyd, and missed his company as a drinking companion. Of all the others in this ragtag family, Boyd was one of the few that Sorin could really have some fun with. Gambling, drinking, sex – Boyd understood it all. Though admittedly substantially more disciplined than Sorin, the elf certainly appreciated the finer things as well.

After some debate, they decided to stay. Riordan was positive that this was his best chance to get his foot back. To his credit this crazy warlock had accepted that they could leave him behind in the Feywild to tend to this task on his own. Jace was certainly tempted, but Mithrellis interested in finding what had happened to Boyd, was interested in staying. Sorin would not be happy leaving family behind, regardless of how recently that family had been adopted.

During the debate a strange old woman had appeared. She sought a way out of the Feywild. Jace was immediately suspicious. Sorin smiled inwardly – who wasn’t Jace suspicious of? As the others talked to her, Sorin reflected on Jace. They had travelled together for some time before they met these others. They lived in the same traveling caravan, but had never known each other well. Even now in some ways he felt that he knew even Mithrellis better than he knew Jace, but that one wore his feelings on his sleeve more often than perhaps he knew. Admittedly Sorin was more comfortable with Jace, felt closer to her in some ways, but still she was an enigma.

The hag had a magic stone and Jace erupted in distrust. Still, the party calmed and asked her questions. She was a diviner, and she told them what she saw. She knew of a way out, but she also knew of Boyd. Jace again agitated the group to leave, Riordan encouraged staying, and even Mithrellis was faltering. His commitment to the demon-hating genie’s cause was absolute. Sorin weighed in at last. “We should stay the course. She sees Boyd, he is not far. We will worry about a way out soon.” The group decided, with Jace hesitantly agreeing. They moved on to Boyd.

The old woman was hard to read, but there was something about her that reminded him of Grandmama Ileana. Jace didn’t see it. She was waiting for her “I told you so moment.” She was always waiting for the “I told you so moment.” Sorin briefly considered writing the next part of his play about the Wardens, considering giving Jace’s character that line multiple times in the show. He thought it would be funny – she always warning them of danger, them always ignoring her, she always saying “I told you so!”

Sorin reflected for moment – perhaps he should listen to Jace more often.

Eventually they found Boyd. Well, Boyds, as there seemed to be two of them. Sorin thought this was a fun game, but the threat was certainly clear. In some ways the Feywild was really starting to grow on him. Flammable swamp creatures, tricksters playing games, strange flora and fauna – what a show. The party debated which could be the real Boyd, and each of them attempted to ask it questions to tease out the knowledge. Sorin appreciated games, especially games without rules – that meant he could play how he chose. One of his lesser tattoos lit up suddenly, and minor power began to circle around his chest, radiating in a holding pattern. Suddenly he made a choice, or rather he chose to make no choice between the two. Triggering the energy down to different paths, Sorin split the firebolt through both of his hands and fired at both Boyds.

One of the Boyds detected the incoming firebolt and immediately shifted shape running off for cover. “Gotcha,” thought Sorin, smiling widely. The other firebolt struck the real Boyd, who had barely managed to put up his shield in time to defend from it. That Boyd sputtered in rage and charged after Sorin shouting about how he was just another fey trick. This was not the first time in his life Sorin had failed to consider the long term odds, he was certainly not the best long term planner in general. He was a tumbler by training and tendency – do a fancy move, then roll with the punches.

Jace had Sorin’s back though, stopping Boyd in his tracks through some Bardish trick. Briefly Sorin thought, “Maybe a protagonist which both says I told you so and saves the party more than her fair share of the time!”

Mithrellis or Riordan, Sorin wasn’t sure which, had gone on to confront the old woman. Only she was no longer an old woman, she had transformed into something much more familiar holding a magic rock. A hag. “Oh great makers,” thought Sorin, “here it comes.”

“TOLD YOU SO!” Jace’s voice was loud, it’s fine training in the Bardic arts making her statement impossible to ignore.

They squared off against this new threat, and before too long they had cut it down.


It was eerie, really, watching Jace talk to the dead. But they gained some useful insight. Now the party was off in search of a remedy for Riordan’s leg. Again the debate had arisen. Jace clearly wanted to leave, Mithrellis, Boyd now in hand, was also favoring this choice more strongly. Sorin stood solidly with Riordan – you do not abandon your family, though he kept this to himself. He was not sure the others viewed him the same, and his pride prevented him from vocalizing how much he had come to rely on and appreciate the others. His foolish, beautiful pride.

After the fight, Boyd was not quite himself. He travelled with them, and they set off together seeking the Unsealy Court. It was not long before they were set upon by fey elves who identified themselves as the Mithrindain. They demanded the group relinquish their weapons and accompany them as prisoners to the city. Unsurprisingly, Mithrellis and Riordan would have none of this. Yet another fight in the Feywild began.

The Mithrindain’s were not much of a match. Their swordbearers did not last long under a fight with Mithrellis and Riordan. Jace helped to keep the archers at bay, and Sorin enjoyed lighting a few people up along the way. Sorin didn’t think much of the fight – in the notes he was taking for future plays, this battle would have to be substantially trumped up in order to have a place in the story. Otherwise this minor skirmish would just be window dressing, a role Sorin was happy to fill most of the time on his own.

At the end Mithrellis mentioned how odd it was that they were so often taken into custody by government officers. Inwardly, Sorin considered – there is a lesson that, Mith, do not trust those in power. He kept his comments to himself, not wishing to engage with the honorable elf about law and good.
Mithrellis, Sorin could hardly believe, stripped the female Mithrindian captain of her armor. She was naked underneath, the armor and cloth all being of one piece. Mithrellis was embarrassed and Jace confused about the effectiveness of such armor. Sorin enjoyed the women he knew naked by choice, and in an unusual act of modesty looked away. Jace helped dress the woman, and they bound her in some kind of strange, silver rope.

The captain was unusually compliant for somebody who had just been taken prisoner. She gave the party all the information they needed, and was surprisingly friendly about the entire exchange. Sorin just assumed their culture was honor oriented, and fair loss in combat was not taken personally. Shortly after being bound, the captives were willing to lead them around the nearby, seemingly hostile city and out to find a river fey named Urioros – a creature Riorden had been told could restore his lost foot.

Once they were in range of the river where Urioros resided, the elf captain asked to be released. Once freed from the rope, the elf captain’s attitude changed substantially. Apparently the rope held some very interesting qualities. Jace wanted the rope and, while Sorin certainly considered it’s many fun applications for some of the more risqué liaisons he’d encountered, there were no true objections for letting her hold on to it.

The group made their way to the river’s shores where they encountered a set of nymphs. Most of the group hung back allowing Riordan to take the lead. The nymphs wanted more from the warlock than he appeared to be able to offer, but in the end, after drinking from a bottle, he jumped into the cold river. It went quiet and no bubbles floated to the surface.

While they waited Sorin decided to take some of his concerns out on his viola. Picking up the bottle, he drank occasionally from it while playing through a new tune – somewhat abrasive and reflecting his mood. The others chatted, but Sorin didn’t really notice. He was watching the river. It is true that Riordan had appeared suddenly in their lives, but he had played an integral role in several battles. Despite his gruff nature, Sorin had enjoyed showing him up with that incredibly attractive and confident tiefling thief. Sorin’s mind wandered.

Beneath the river’s waters, Uriorios and Riordan negotiated. Riordan eventually was able to work out a deal by which he one day would provide future help to the fey creature. After the deal was struck he swam to the surface and indicated he knew the way to return the party back to Rynn. All of them made their way into the river, and swam downstream eventually emerging back into the Empress River in Rynn proper. They made plans to meet up with Kazmir in Quhua, and planned to continue their work to secure the ley lines.

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Were not in Orela anymore
Chapter 10

It would only be a few days out of Sapabel before the party would be set another unexpected task. A few nights before, Rhiardon had been sighted having poor sleep, and at least one possibly heard speaking while he slept. The stranger from the feywild had always kept the party on edge, but his eager willingness to aide them in their quest has abated their concern.

However, with the Full Fae Moon in the air, the party was once again reminded of the eerie power of the fey world. As the party camped, Mithrellis noticed a voice on the wind. Boyd, his one time brother in arms he had known from long ago, and lost to the mists, could be heard again. Not just heard, but pleading for help.

With some trepidation, Mithrellis nonetheless pursued the voice, keeping conversation as he and the party trailed it deeper into the nearby grotto. Beckoned by tails of strange creatures threating void, they moved with haste. Eventually, they found a small glen nested low in the forest. There, other voices could be heard. From what they gathered, they learned that strange fey creatures where hunting boyd: redcaps.

As the party approached a cave mouth, they discovered a few of these small creatures. Individually, they were ferocious and bloodthirsty, but not seriously threatening. Two creatures quickly felled, they tracked the third into the cave only to find the way barred, and no sign save a bloody smear on the wall.

They did not exit the same way they entered. Instead, they found the hairs on their necks raised, and Rhiardon letting out a sigh of lament…for they had stumbled into the Feywild. With Kazamir left back with the camp, the rest were left to follow the voice further, hoping to make this jaunt worthwhile, and recover Boyd from whatever danger he lay.

Before they could get far, however, they were set upon in full force by a large gang of redcaps. In the high brush, these small creatures proved difficult to pin down. Further still, there appeared to be one amongst them that was harder to pin down than most – some quick creature able to move at ease amongst the Shrubbery. Yet, the battle would prove the party victorious – Sorin taking little enjoyment at the harrassment set about torching much of the nearby trees, leaving a few redcaps exposed. From there, Rhiardon was able to end them in one short blow.

With the creatures dead or fled, the party chose to regroup, and decide on their next course of action. Do they continue the hunt for Boyd, or seek to return to the mortal world quickly by means they can still comprehend?

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Mercenarys All
Chapter 9

Near their arrival to Sapabel, the party began collecting rumors of other travelers ahead of them, and picked upt he trail of the likely thieves that had framed them in a svanesse village a ways back. In the interest of payback and curosity, the party tracked down the rogues to the Quiet Monk, a converted temple to tavern on the northern edge of the city.

There, they found Tajana and her crew, the self ascribed mercenaries that the party deduced must be the culprits of the crime. Tajana shown to be an astute social agent, and tripped up both Rhiardon and Sorin who attempted to gain more intelligence about their activities. They learned little else about her compatriats – ‘Quint’ and Zhidkov.

What they did learn, is that the group in question was, for hire, in a sense. Tajana offered more information, contingent on the collection of an item held by a Mabusi merchant noble housed here in the city. Upon following up on the location and Sorin attempting to fast talk his way past the guard, they realized that the noble was shrewed, and perhaps somewhat paranoid.

Prevented from moving forward, the party then set about following Tajana and her posse around the city for a day, hoping to learn more. Rhiardon set to the task with a will, and stalked her from the rooftops of Sapabel. For the most part, Rhiardon was able to track his prey unhindered. After sufficient patience, he located Tajana’s hideout in an abandoned manor home in the center of the city.

From there, Mithrellis outlined a plan in which he disguised himself as the group, seeing them split up, and infiltrated the manor. He walked into the front door without a worry, noting the Bloodhawk insignia on the members stationed around the home. Investigating the upstairs, he found Tajana’s room, and quietly managed to slip into the room, with no one the wiser. After a brief moment to scan the room, though, he was met by a knock on the door; it appeared he had not entirely evaded detection. Searching quickly, Mithrellis scanned the room, and found a hidden box that held the object they sought: The Horn of Anael.

From there, it was a blur as Quint bust into the room, Mithrellis had changed to look like Tajana, though not enough to entirely fool Quint. There was a window, and Mithrellis portaled out it, on to the city streets below. A brief chase ensued as Mithrellis ran from Quint, nearly evading him.

It was then that Mithrellis met a mercenary of comparable skill; for Quint appeared suddenly in front of him. A quick exchange of arcane juking ended when Quint lay bare his power of divine magic upon Mithrellis, reducing the mage to the size…and form of a mouse. With the object in question dropped, Quint recovered the Horn, and proceeded to slip back into the shadows as Jace and Sorin caught up.

Meanwhile, Rhirdon, hoping to sound the alarm would be found later by the rest of the party drinking deep of ale and spirits, and prying an arrowhead out of his shoulder; he would recount a meeting of an unseen assailant with excellent aim that plucked him out of the air on his dash back to warn the party of Tajana’s unexpected return. Left without another meaningful lead, and fearing time slipping on their main quest, the party decided to let sleeping dogs lie, and set back out on the road.

The next few days would be uneventful as the party licked its wounds, pondering what-ifs and could-ofs. Kazimir remained pensive and quiet along the road, Rhiardon absorbed in self reflection, Sorin aloof, Mithrellis absorbed in distracted reading. Only Jace seemed to have some hesitation and concern about their future.

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Gnoll Hunting
Chapter 8

After tying up any loose ends the party had in Kalentha, they decided to head back to Algar to gather their gear before heading to one of the ley line locations. Bembe was no longer outside the ruins, and after contacting him magically, Kazamir found out that they had been inside for twelve days and that Bembe had headed home by himself. Taking the teleportation circle out of the Sanctum, the party backtracked through the mountains and down to Algar. During a days rest in the city, Kazamir unlocked the chest they had found near Akathis's work place, Mithrellis bought some maps, and the party heard two rumors. First, as it was nearing the winter solstice, there would soon be a large festival held in the town to the west. Second, the number of gnoll attacks had greatly increased in the area and the military was busy fighting them back.

Though the party had originally determined the capital city of Cieron to be their best bet for teleportation circle to one of the cities near a ley line, they decided something needed to be done about the gnolls and that they could then head south to Jin'lan. Seeing an opportunity to make some coin along the way, Kazamir wrote up a contract to form a mercenary contract to be officially recognized as "The Wardens" in Svain. The party headed South towards the Howling Savannah and the military camps fighting the gnolls there. Upon arriving in the camp, the party met with a familiar commander that Mithrellis and Sorin had talked to on the way north. While they did not want a mercenary company disrupting the disciplined ranks of fighters on the front lines, they did need scouts and did offer the party a two-week contract to scout north and west of the camp. The first two days of scouting were relatively slow, only finding signs of old battles and camps. On the third day however, Riardon found a recent gnoll camp and followed after the footprints that headed north. The party gave chase, and after some deliberation, decided to ambush the pack of twelve gnolls they had found. Having fought a group of gnolls before, the party believed they could easily defeat the pack, but the gnolls seemed strangely tougher than before. Perhaps this had something to do with the cabal of shamans leading the hord, one of which was among the pack.

After a brief surprise, the gnolls rallied back and attacked. Kazimir and Riardon jumped into the fray while Sorin, Jace, and Mithrellis hung back to throw spells and songs among the enemies. While some gnolls fell quickly, more leapt towards Jace and Mithrellis. Mithrellis turned into a blur of flashing steel as his blade deflected blows left and right and struck back in retaliation. Kazimir began tracking the cabalist that fled the battle, but just as he was about to enter the cave he had just discovered, the vines and branches around him struck out.

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The Vault

 

This letter is on a fine piece of slightly creased parchment with fluid cursive script. The handwriting suggests the author was writing with some haste. At the bottom of the letter is a large wax seal with the image a thin-bladed sword crossed with a quill. A paragraph postscript details at length that these letters are classified information for the eyes of the Ridere Etherium, and that any  unauthorized reader in violation of clause 43 B, paragraphs 3 – 7 of the Sciettish Statutory Acts and Measures.

The Honorable Knight-Captain Caelthalsur Tyrvalsa,

Today proved to be no less enlightening than the last. The aeichon Eshrim, having been restored to his former glory, bestowed upon us gifts in thanks for our service to the cause. He entrusted a shining blade made of a pure white light to me, along with a beautiful longbow that enhanced the distance of my spells. Upon my companions he presented gifts no less powerful, each of which seemed to fit the wielder's temperament and style.

I have not had the chance to study these items at length, but upon a cursory glance it is clear the magicks that empower these items are far beyond our current capabilities. The items themselves are made out of a strange white metal that is both durable and light, and seemingly hollow. They seem to be crafted out of the same material as the walls I have described in my previous correspondences.  I will attempt to procure a sample to send to the alchemists, I know that Rutherion would be pleased to experiment with this material.

The magicks of the weapon themselves are intricate and complex, with multi layered thread that cross each other to form a more sturdy weave. I know that Pangrem had theorized that such a thing could be done, but I still cannot comprehend how the underlaying abjurations were able to support the flow of the essence without causing any negative feedback. Perhaps more interesting is that the wielder himself supplies the impetus for the enchantment. It would seem that the very life force we provide acts as a link which completes the chain of the multi layered weave, that is to say without a wielder these items will not function. This supports Amandir's thesis that the intangible, or the soul acts as a conduit for magick as we know it … but this would go against hundreds of years of research proving that arcane magick is independent of the Gods. If you can find any copies of Amandir's research, I humbly request that I be allowed access to the banned tome pursuant to regulation 56c, allowing access to dangerous materials while in the field. I strongly believe this warrants more research.

After receiving the artifacts the strange mage Akathis returned. It would seem my suspicions of him proved correct, because after a verbal disagreement regarding his access to the aeichon's knowledge, he removed the illusions surrounding his form and revealed himself to be a Nothic. He chanted a deadly conjuration which spewed forth billowing green clouds of poisonous gas, and attempted to steal the receptacle in which Eshrim was contained.

We were forced to engage him and his hordes of undead minions in battle. I understand you had your earlier suspicions about my companions, especially the tiefling Sorin, the human Jace, and the warlock Riardon. I am pleased to report that if it were not for their heroic efforts I would not be alive today to write this letter. Jace saved my life several times with her healing magicks, Sorin displayed an incredible aptitude for evocations and incinerated most of the horde,  and Riadron fought the ferocity of a caged beast, cleaving undead apart with his sword.

This is not the first time they have saved my life, and I am officially repeating my request that I be allowed to cease reporting on their activities, and they be no longer classified as subjects of interest.

I am pleased to report that thanks to the heroics of my companions we were able to slay the Nothic and his thralls. Our next steps shall be to investigate the weakening between the planes in an attempt to seal the rifts the Vilnach are pouring through. I pray that Mystra will guide us and the brave Knights to seal the wounds our plane has suffered before it is too late.

Dutifully Yours,
Knight-Errant Mithrellis Lathurna

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Inside the Ruins
Chapter 6

As the door shuddered open, the party was greeted by a wizened old man. He greeted them in archaic  Turathi and introduced himself as Akathis, the caretaker of this bastion, Kalentha. Drawing his arm from the folds of his robe, he showed an arm cursed by the Vilnach and slowly turning his body into that of a demon.  This, he said, is what caused him to search for the bastions of the Aichen in hopes of finding a cure to his malady. As Akathis led the party through the spartan halls of the ruins he explained how he managed to enter the bastion 300 years ago and survived till now, studying the works kept in the library in search of answers. 

Upon entering the main hall, the group saw what they assumed to be the entrance to the sanctuary of the bastion. Akathis said that despite many efforts on his part and others, no one had breached the door in the 300 years he had been there. Mithrellis and Riardon stayed to investigate while the others went to distract the old man in the library. Kazamir and Sorin attempted to ask Akathis about his research and the bastion, but each question seemed to further annoy the man until everyone decided it was best to leave him to his research. Jace stumbled upon a hastily covered alcove, but lacked the privacy to investigate properly. Mithrellis luckily had more luck with Eshrim, finding that the door could be opened similarly to the first one, with time and Eshrim's effort. After a brief attempt at trying to get Akathis to join them and failing, the party regrouped at the door to the sanctuary.

The party waited for about fifteen minutes as Eshrim wrestled with the locks, but eventually the door opened to a long, empty hallway. Despite looking like a culling hallway to thin the rank of enemies during a siege, the party found no traps and made it safely to the end where they were met with another door. Despite growing up inside mountains, Kazimir could not shake a sense of unease in these tunnels, and as we approached the door, Mithrellis seemed to be losing his connection to Eshrim.  After Kazimir poured some magical energy into Eshrim's orb and Mithrellis began the unlocking procedure again. Upon opening, the group saw a small room with stairs that lead down. After Riardon and Mithrellis's familiar scouted the area, it was deemed safe to proceed.

This time, as the party crossed the threshold they all felt a slight shift around them, but could not make anything out and carried on. After descending the stairs, a large hall stretched before them with alcoves to the sides and a towering statue in the center. Wary after the previous attack by statues at the entrance, the party advanced in battle formation. As expected, the large statue and three smaller ones in the alcoves sprung to life and attacked. Riardon jumped to the closest one, as he is want to do, and struck it down with a fury that easily shattered stone. Kazimir rushed in to confront the largest statue and found his warhammer wanting against the enchanted stone. After two strikes from the giant golemn, Kazimir nearly fell, only surviving because of Jace's healing words. Mithrellis cast a spell upon Riardon, causing his motions to blur at the speed of light. Riardon heard the faint voice of Eshrim say something that sounded like "Get out!" He and Mithrellis then rushed towards the door at the far end of the hall past the statues to begin unlocking it. The remaining statues closed on Kazimir, but a volley of combined spells from Sorin, Jace, and Kazimir shattered even the largest foe. With no more reason to rush, the party stood around the final door as Mithrellis inserted Eshrim to unlock it.

Inside was a massive throne room, in that it was a room with a towering throne with an equally large statue sitting in it. At the top, in the forehead of the statue, there was an indent similar to those in the doors, so Mithrellis climbed to the top to place Eshrim's orb. Kazimir weary from the fight, sat against a wall as Jace tried to convince him that he needed more healing. The others looked about the room and may have even briefly hoped to see Mithrellis slip for the entertainment. As the orb entered the slot, a bluish creature overlapped the sitting statue and then rose to stand in front of us clad in a toga with wings hanging from its back. This creature introduced itself as Eshrim in his true form.

Eshrim explained to the party first  that the room they had just been in had been temporally manipulated to slow intruders, which is why we could not reach him. Then he proceeded to tell everyone more about the history of himself and why he needed our help. It seems Eshrim was the third warden of the bastion Kalentha, though there had been others after him. He talked about the barriers between our world and the weakening of the barriers between it and the astral sea. This is what was allowing Vilnach to slip into our world, and if no one prevented further damage to the barrier, more and more Vilanch would come to ravage our world. There are a series of ley-lines that connect the planes, and each has an anchor somewhere in the world. Three of these anchors have been damaged or destroyed, and a fourth was already under attack. We would be able to repair these anchors, but to do so we would need to travel to the Turathi Empire, the Arcosian Desert, Jin-lan, and somewhere on the other side of the world. Eshrim offered the party a gift to aid them.

Starting with Mithrellis and moving to Riardon, then Sorin, and then Kazimir, Eshrim touched each of their heads and a golden light spilled out. Eshrim claimed this gift would allow them to read any of the Aichen's encrypted tomes (each rune actually existed in three dimensions, allowing for dense storage) and to use the teleportation circle in the next room to transport to the foot of the mountain or any other bastion they had visited. Jace, ever skeptical of Eshrim and people in her mind, hesitated before accepting the gift. She said she wasn't sure why Eshrim needed us specifically, or even why anyone else would want her to join them. Mithrellis went off about how it's the noble and right thing to do. Riardon seemed happy to be allowed to kill things. Sorin seemed to understand the best, but said that he couldn't sit by as people died when he could be helping. Kazimir pointed out how Jace had quite literally just saved his life minutes ago and that it had not been the first time she had done so. Finally she relented and accepted Eshrim's gift. As Eshrim touched her head though, there was a brief struggle and a purple flash before the golden light. Eshrim explained that a Vilnach taint had been placed on Jace, and anything she had seen or heard till then was also seen by the Vilnach. Mithrellis did something right for once and wasn't a smug ass about it.

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Blood and Coin
Chapter 5

As the party made sense of the previous ambush,  it seemed that prudence was in order, and Riardon, for all his mystery, was a better ally than the mercenaries in the forest. The party, with new information, trecked northward into the woods. For a couple nights, they slog out through the dry brush and foliage, attempting to keep a careful eye out for the bandits.

After 2 days, they stumbled upon a sentry post, deserted. Alert, they fanned out looking for  the culprit, then laid an ambush when no signs of life were found. Later that night, sentries returned, and with stealth and guile, they were quickly dispatched by the party; no witnesses. 

From there, the party was able to locate the bandit camp in earnest, and for once they had the initiative. Riardon and Sorin flanked out around the camp, settled at the bottom of a forest ridge, working to carefully traverse the steep hills and rough terrain. Before them, they saw half a dozen tents, with at least one large pavilion and an lean-to stable. Stocks of grain, food, weapons, and water littered the camp, indicating that this was a long term operation. 

The group, eager about having the upper hand, launched a quiet assault on the eastern edge, near a corral. Upon inspection, Sorin discovered that a strange beast was being kept penned and caged on the camp outskirts, and set about trying to free the beast. As sentries came to investigate, the party belatedly began to take them out, not interested in leaving survivors. After several moments, a lull in the fighting as the commander emerged from the pavilion.

Garrett "Ironhand", the party would come to find, was a grizzled veteran who had a few tricks up his sleeve. An accomplished artificer and holding a powerful powerarm gauntlet, the Ironhand unleashed torrents of lightning and fire upon the party. Nearly overwhelmed, the party just barely managed to stave off the assault, with Mithrellis taking the vanguard position, and holding the attackers at bay while Jace brought Riardon back from unconsciousness. 

With Sorin distracted working to free the caged beast, The rest exchanged a flurry of missile attacks at the eastern edge of the camp. Slowly, but surely, the bandits faltered, as the darkness aided the party sheltering them from the vollies of bolter fire. Despite a few desperate shots by a crack sniper, the tide seemed to turn. Yet, the Ironhand had one other asset available.

A Xianlian spy, the party would learn, snaked through the foliage, and proved to foil the parties attempt at simply assault, nearly incapacitating Kazimir and Jace. Even wounded, the spy appeared an adept fighter and possessed of unnatural speed and agility. Were it not for the quick thinking of Jace, he might have also escaped once the battled had shifted. Playing a song on the flute given by Illyana, the spell within laid the spy to sleep, removing him from the field. 

After Garret was subdued, the remaining bandits fled, the camp scattered and tossed. The party searched the camp, finding a trove of stolen goods and treasures. After securing their two highest value prisoners, they sought to interrogate them for information. The Xianlian was less than forthcoming, but Garret proved to be somewhat cooperative. Bargaining for his release, and secrets on some of the treasure, he revealed that a political senator by the name of Emanuel is likely a prime actor in the creation of the camp and the banditry in the region. Garrett seemed to be reluctant or unable to reveal more than a name, but it was a enough for the party to release him with a couple rations as he escaped into the forest.

The Xianlian, agitated with Garret, appeared to be in some coordination with the operation, but attempts to scour his mind with magic or persuasion yielded nothing. The only thing of note they learned was the Xianlian appeared to be part of an elite group, a hand to the emperor, indicating the severity of the issue. Still, there wasn't much the party could learn, and with ruthless efficiency, the spy was beheaded.

With interrogations completed, the party made quickly to secure anything valuable, and make haste back to Vinne via terath. They met no resistance along the way, luckily, and arrive in Terrath the night after, loaded for bear with coin, treasure, and other easily transported goods. After some negotiation with Dilila and a few other villagers and survivors, the party decided to try and dole out a portion of the goods to those who were met with misfortune earlier. Some were upset, claiming the party did not return what was rightfully theres, but most were glad to regain something, and to be relieved that the bandit threat had been dealt with. Mikail, in particular, was elated to find the return of his trade agreements, and was able to complete his mission, if late.

With reparations made, the party returned to Vinne, to claim victory, spoils, and fame from the inhabitants. Upon returning the bounty of proof to the Trade minister, however, the party learned that the contract in question had been a ruse of sorts, and the party was shorted much of what they were promised. Sorin and Mithrellis were particular scorned, and so set about making an example out of Enrique. With a weeks work, Sorin and Mithrellis wrote, "Blood and Coin' a play detailing their exploits, and mocking the political leaders who tried to use them to their advantage. Despite some bumpy starts, the play nonetheless became popular with exposure, and within a month, the group had become local celebrities.

Afterward, the party settled on their next task, urged by the orb Eshrim, to travel north to the moutains near Algar. There, they hope to discover the lost bastion of the Aichen, and learn more about Vilnach and their resurgance.

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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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