In-Game Dates: 20th of the Rotting, 1470 - 28th of the Rotting,1470 (8 Days)
Session Dates: 01/18/19 - 03/08/19
Our heroes began their quest scattered on the shores of Dominion after being shipwrecked during their ferry-ride to Port Quinn. Only a day's ride south of their destination, the group of strangers boarded a wagon destined for Port Quinn and continued on through the Shaded Wood.
The wagon contained a ragged assortment of strange individuals: Guntir, an crotchety ancient hill-dwarf garbed in soiled rags and bandages; Heinrich, a young tiefling with deer-like antlers and a collection of journals; Shae, a standoffish and quiet human wearing the garb of the monastic order known as the Xinyi; and Morwen, a black tabaxi clad in the garb of a swashbuckler who proved quick to crack a joke. They were an odd group, but when they found themselves confronted by bandits, they showed themselves to be skilled warriors and slew the foes easily.
Arriving in Port Quinn, the individuals found that they’d each come to answer a similar posting for help, from the Merchent Council of Port Quin. They met with the Merchant Council and received a mission: discover what was digging up corpses from the cemetery across the trade road, and stop it. Upon arriving at the graveyard, the group immediately split up, each suspicious of the others. Eventually, by coincidence as much as deductive skill, they each found their way to the Tomb of the elvish prophetess, Vera Waithe.
Accidentally awaking an undead ghoul in Vera Waithe’s tomb, the four adventures were forced to prove their skill in combat again. As the undead creature was slain, the spirit of Waithe, (who's body had been stolen) spoke as it faded, no longer able to remain with its physical form missing:
A blue star, not from our skies/
Now appears before my eyes/
It's master is maker, and father, and son/
If it's teeth gain purchase, Alberon is done/
The first was found by a man/
his hair is orange, his mind expands/
He is not too far away/
but tarry too long, and to The Valley he'll stray/
The second resides in a purple maw/
I smell brimstone, and gore that's raw/
As her brood claws toward the light/
Kol Taram's dwarves will take flight/
The third I see, but do not hear/
For the eye of The Squall is near/
But at it's center, it rests in the ring/
Upon the hand of a cold, cruel king/
The fourth is lost out to sea/
None have found it, though many seek/
The fifth exists within a mind/
That whisper's lies and leads the blind/
The sixth I see in a massive tomb/
Giant boots walk by this room/
The final piece gives me unrest/
For she who speaks it, smells of death/
After finding some iron cogs, and a strange symbol carved into a nearby wall, the group skillfully tracked a wagon from the place that Vera Waithe’s body had been abducted through town, and eventually found their way to a temple of Helm. They arrived and met Dr. Twee Lightfoot, a gnomish cleric of Helm who used his ingenious clockwork tinkering and divine magic to mage miraculous, complex prosthetic limbs.
The gears Heinrich found matched the type seen in Twee’s workshop. With the temple filled with poor folk awaiting help from Twee, either to restore an arm or leg or beg help on an broken prosthetic, the group left and waited until night, to avoid hurting innocent bystanders.
The group broke into the temple in the early hours of the morning, and found a hidden ladder that led to the sewers. There, the heroes discovered a complex network of tunnels that had been converted into holding cells, bizarre torture chambers, and even a dark cathedral. Facing off against cultists belonging to the Midnight Assembly, a cult that had woven clockwork machinery and corpses together to for Assembled Souls, undead servitors and guards. Proving their hunch correct, Twee Lightfoot was serving as a leader for the Midnight Assembly. They fought and defeated him almost losing Shae in the process, and collected the bounty placed on whatever was abducting the bodies from the Merchant Council hastily.
Morwen used the money to invest in a store given to her by Rhodesia, who had formed a bond with Morwen in an earlier visit as they both had similar backgrounds smuggling and had decided to move upon discovering her husband had been slain by the Midnight Assembly, and hired the 13-year-old Ezra, a clever girl hustling people on the docks, to watch after the store.
It had been the Sandy Assortments, a general store specializing in items that had gone missing from the many ships that came into port, complete with a smuggling operation operating out of the basement, which connected to a hidden canal to the ocean. Morwen convinced the orcish captain who ran the Yellow Banner smugglers to “go easy” on the young girl. She then left a sack of gold beneath the counter with a note that said: “I believe in you! Good luck” and rejoined the rest of her traveling companions.
The reluctant friends agreed to escort a studious, long-winded wizard named Bernal Ossarius, who was obsessed with the stars. Bernal had noticed the arrival of Aurillion's star, a blue star that is only seen toward the end of an era, and he wished to find a shard of it that he had observed falling into the Devil’s Eye, an ever-churning ocean far to the south-east.
The group, when prompted for a name, Heinrich made the impulsive decision to call themselves “The Finger Gang” upon having the epiphany that every member in the group, save Shae, possessed a dismembered finger somewhere on their person.
Nervous that murdering Twee Lightfoot without significant proof of his wrongdoing may have consequences, The newly-named Finger Gang took an abandoned ship to the nearby island of Byss to acquire supplies and hire most of the crew.
Before departing from Port Quinn, Ska, a friend of Heinrich, nervously asked him to take a stolen item to Byss. Having stolen it from a monastic merchant caravan, Ska feared the monks would come after him. Since Heinrich and Ska were friends, Heinrich accepted and found himself in possession of a beautiful metallic chest with an almost imperceptible holographic pattern across it, and with no discernible cracks or openings. It was an ancient thing fused with the forgotten practice of orebinding, and only the paired attuned rod would open it.
In-Game Dates: 28th of the Rotting, 1470 - 1st of Deepwinter, 1470 (32 Days)
Session Dates: 03/15/19 - 07/26/19
The Finger Gang fought a band of pirates, and made good time to the small island of Byss, a town furthest east in the Kingdom of Serentyl. As the ship neared harbor, a group of humanoids snuck through the night towards the boat. With pale blue skin, black protruding claws, greasy hair, and bulbous black eye stalks the creatures attacked the ship and abducted their navigator, Sunthene. Morwen, who claimed the right to be captain by virtue of her experience at sea, fled the raid, and crashed the ship into a bleached coral reef.
The boat was stuck and they began to take on water. The heroes, luckily, received help from the dwarven ironside "The Crogrammash" hailing from the distant city of Stoneflow, and who towed it off the coral reef and back into the water. After they completed repairs, the Finger Gang then invited the dwarven crew aboard, and had much food and even more drink. Late that night, Morwen crashed their ship into the reef not once more, but twice, capsizing the ship, though the crew made it safely to shore.
Stuck in Byss until the next ship came through in nearly a week's time, the Finger Gang decided to meet with the local governor. Baron Parvel Dodd condescendingly explained that he would provide an ample reward for bringing a golden throne back from a buried castle at the bottom of a canyon populated by harpies.
Annoyed but needing funds to eventually purchase a new ship, the gang went on the mission, learning along the way that many in the town were going hungry. Surprised, as the townspeople largely worked as wildly successful hog ranchers. Guntir infiltrated the town hall records and learned that Dodd had embezzled approximately 12,000 gold pieces over the last three years.
Our heroes, continuing on Dodd’s quest despite the information Guntir found fought the harpies and traveled through the canyon. Realizing how dangerous the canyon might be, Heinrich and Morwen suggested leaving Bernal to wait at the edge of the canyon. In the deepest reaches, they found a strange buried Bandit’s Keep with a throne in it. Left behind books and art suggested it had been abandoned years ago, and contained a few valuable pieces of art.
After realizing they had no practical way to bring the massive throne back, the Finger Gang traveled into a desert, aptly named “The Nothing” now disoriented and lost. A lumbering creature of sprawling roots and vines chased them even deeper into the desert.
Within The Nothing, they met Ortude, a friendly orc druid who worshiped Melora and shared with the party food and drink from the oasis the druid had created. As the group slept, a mist rolled in, and the blue skinned creatures who raided the ship at sea assaulted once more. After fending them off, Ortude revealed that they were known as Croteggo (dwarven for "mist walker") and originated from the buried temple of T'Ssarra, Queen of the Mists. He feared that, alongside the surge of monsters that have recently woken up after centuries of sleep, these wicked creatures may have risen as well.
The group decided to investigate Ortude’s fears. Infiltrating a huge sandstone temple, they battled the croteggo, and faced dozens of traps. Guntir managed to secure the magical weapon "The Righteous Chain," a thick length of silver chain inscribed with celestial glyphs. It shone with a brilliant radiance and seemed to be able to take the shape of an ax, a quarter staff, or a short sword. It cut through the Croteggo as if they were water, and the Finger Gang advanced easily.
As they neared the heart of the temple, the group came face to face with their abducted navigator Sunthene. Barely able to stand, her eyes had been ruptured, and the transformation to croteggo had begun. Guntir managed to save her from further metamorphosis, though she was left blind from the experience.
The Finger Gang guided Sunthene through the temple and into a room where T’Ssarra stood drifted in a chamber of fog, the support columns carved through with holes, allowing T’Ssarra to funnel her mist into pressurized spears of vapor.
T'Ssarra was slain by Shae though, Almost impulsively, Heinrich leapt forward, and stabbed T’Ssarra’s body with a shadowy sword. For the first time, The Finger Gang saw Heinrich clearly to be a warlock. As T'Ssara fell, so too, did her temple, and the group raced to escape. Navigating the collapsing tunnels with the blind Suthene, the gang raced finding their only path to escape to slide down a well, swim through the water at the bottom and hope to find another well that they could clamber out of on the other side.
Sunthene panicked in the water, having been drowned and revived several times as part of the croteggo conversion process. Unable to take a breath, she died in Heinrich's arms despite his attempts to save her. The sensation of initiating his thunder step, and the wounded tiefling vanishing from his arms, was seared into his memory.
Morwen, Guntir, Shae, and Heinrich managed to escape just as the sandstone blocks of T’Ssarra’s temple collapsed back into the sands of The Nothing.
The group solemnly returned to Ortude's compound, where Baron Dodd and several soldiers were waiting to arrest the group. Dodd had learned of Guntir plundering the town records. A battle kicked off, but abruptly ended, when Morwen crept behind Dodd, and in a single swift stroke, murdered the tyrant.
The guards who survived were unwilling to continue to fight, having been reluctant to work for the evil Baron Dodd to begin with. Fearing The Kingdom of Serentyl would investigate the disappearance of Baron Dodd, the group decided to located the Baron's private Vessel, The Royal Sail.
Upon finding it, The Royal Sail had been freshly repaired and outfitted with an exotic weapon. Guarding the ship was a company of mercenaries known as Hibsidium's Haste. The Finger Gang donned revealing, leather outfits to disguise themselves as members of the Church of Earthly Delights, a brothel that billed itself as a religion to exempt it from taxes, and claimed to be delivering Morwen to take the Ship on an evening sail around the island while awaiting the Baron's return.
The plan went well until it was blown by Bernal, who the group had forgotten about, and who was forced to water walk to ship from a distance. A fierce battle ensued, and The Finger Gang made off with the ship. Later, after sailing towards the Sunrest Island port of Farshore, they discovered a scrying stone located in one of the ship's closet floors.
Needing supplies and more crew, a pit stop was made in Captain's Keep. A floating town formed out of a tangle of docks and ships that was a haven for pirates. The Finger Gang managed to hire a complete crew for the newly christened Cat's Claw.
The new navigator, a half orc named Shadde, informed them that Hibsidium's Haste, the mercenaries they defeated to get the Cat’s Claw, had a pristine reputation for successfully guarding or delivering the items they were hired for. Shadde cautioned that the ship would be hunted for ruining Hibsidium’s Haste’s record.
An argument over spoils between Guntir and Heinrich resulted in Heinrich casting Darkness in the middle of town. The Captain of Captain’s Keep was called to settle the dispute. Upon seeing Guntir's brand, which represented the storm god Kord, The strong pirate Captain gave the Finger Gang the option to undergo the Trials of Kord in order to forget about the chaos in the square.
Kord was The Captain Keep's only patron and passing the Trial’s would prove them worthy.
Through the jungle, and into an ancient temple. The Finger Gang passed through four elemental chambers, and learned that Kord represented more than just rain and lightning; Kord's storms influenced all things. In a culmination of the trial, a celestial guardian was summoned and the group proved their mettle. Heinrich again leapt forward with his darkened sword to deliver the final blow on an enemy that nearly slew Guntir, Morwen, and Shae.
They returned to Captain's Keep and happened upon Thistle, a firbolg who was so happy that he'd been set free by the pirates who had captured the passenger vessel he'd traveled on that he had made Captain's Keep his home. Thistle’s friendly disposition had created an unspoken rule, even within the lawless lands of Captain's Keep, that he wasn’t to be harmed or stolen.
The Finger Gang, including Thistle, departed Captain's Keep and made their way to Farshore, the western-most town of the Sunrest Islands, and a major tourist destination. On their way, Krawtic, an aarakocra scout for the Xinyi (and Shae's adopted brother of sorts) landed aboard their ship.
After catching his breath Krawtic told Shae that Hylan, one of the fiercest Xinyi fighters, had led a faction of Xinyi off and away. He then told her that the scouts had been sent to search for reliquaries in the hopes of assembling the Staff of Twisted Fates, an artifact that was fabled to have been able to “strike a star from the sky,” but that the recent schism within the order had them spread extremely thin. Shae gave the Xinyi reliquary they recovered from Port Quinn to Krawtic in a private moment, and asked him to bring it to Aera, the wise mountain elf that Shae considered a mother.
In-Game Dates: 1st of Deepwinter - 13th of Deepwinter, 1470 (13 Days)
Session Dates: 08/02/19 - 12/05/19
Tropical, the sky abuzz with colorful enchanted fliers and advertisements of the various bars, inns, shops, and attractions the sunny city had to offer flying through the air and pelting tourists.
The Weaver's Circle, a sect of sorcerer's of a unique type who owed their power's to their proximity to the Sol Tree, a massive tree over 1,500 feet tall, approached Heinrich, Guntir, Morwen, and Shae. Legend said that the tree was grown by Melora, a memorial to her lover Mystra's sacrifice sometime in the Second Age, and for this, it contained a unique connection to The Weave.
Bernal immediately departed, informing The Finger Gang that he was sick of them belittling his knowledge and abandoning him in dangerous places. He would find someone else to bring him to The Devil's Eye.
Every Stitch Sorcerer, as they were known, had been an orc or half-orc... up until Bristle, an orange-skinned tiefling with shocking white hair, had been discovered. She initiated contact with Heinrich, who impulsively asked this tiefling, the first he'd seen outside of himself, his family, or his childhood friend, on a date.
As the day passed, Heinrich received a message from the shadowy Portent, the network of individuals who, like him, had sworn a pact to Azrah, Goddess of Rot. She presented the orange tiefling as the newest target. Later on their date, high above the jungles of Farshore in a miraculous hot-air filled balloon with a simple basket attached, in a moment of desperation, Heinrich pushed Bristle out of the balloon, thunder stepping himself to the ground below, causing the balloon to explode overhead.
Chaos ensued. Heinrich saw a stunned, and then furious, Bristle alight softly on the ground, her sorcerer's powers protecting her. Suddenly, The Weave seemed to undo itself in several, localized portals, and one after another, more members of The Weaver's Circle stepped forth.
Wounded, exhausted, and confused, Heinrich tore through the jungle as a storm began to pour forth, and he eventually found his way to a church. The priest on duty offered him a space in the basement to stay the night, which Heinrich accepted.
He woke early in the morning, his brother's words echoing in his ears: "Even in the darkness, you can find light." His eyes fixed on a single burning candle lighting the otherwise dark space, which Heinrich took and returned to the chapel above. There, a priest, Father Avery, was lighting candles.
They spoke for a time, Father Avery offering spiritual advice, and reminding Heinrich that forgiveness was to be earned, not found. Heinrich examined the statues of the six deities of the Church of Law and Light, and focused in on Helm, The Vigilant God. His brother worshiped Helm fiercely, which had led them to parting ways previously, but now something about this god seemed like it might make for an appropriate way to balance the scales for the deeds Heinrich performed in The Portent.
He became aware, all at once, that he was in darkness, save his candle. Another priest entered, and expressed confusion as to who Heinrich had been speaking to; there was no Father Avery.
Heinrich crept through the streets and rejoined the crew aboard the newly painted Cat's Claw. There, a hungover Guntir confessed he had become incredibly drunk (though he did not remember that the cause was Morwen force-feeding him liquor when she became angry that Heinrich was going on a date) and lost The Righteous Chain.
The group sailed to The Heart of the Sunrest Islands to help Thistle complete the ritual for which he was bound. On the way, they learned that the ritual involved offering something upon a Shrine within The Heart of Sunrest, a small island at the center of the island nation's archipelago to keep an evil at bay every two-hundred years.
They arrived, noticing a large, unknown fleet guarding the island. The group scaled a cliff face, and infiltrated a cave. They slew a zombie beholder, and set forth across caverns, tunnels, and bizarre chambers that seemed to be displaced from time and space: a study from Everest with demons breaking through the windows, both entities and glass frozen in time and space; a strange oozing and inky river that seemed to start and end nowhere; and an altar to Aurillion, pared with a strange chamber full of vats with large, humanoids inside.
The group then came face to face with a possessed Bernal Ossarius, who had used The Righteous Chain and another magical staff to unlock The Pillar of Scales. His mind was seized by the shard of Aurillion he'd found at The Devil's Eye, and his power had grown. No longer was he a timid scholar, but an archon of radiant energy!
The battle was fierce, and when Thistle was slain, with Morwen and Heinrich close to death, the group had to flee. They exited the dungeon and escaped to sea, as dragons across Alberon stirred for the first time in nearly three centuries.
In-Game Dates: 13th of Deepwinter, 1470 - 5th of the Claws of Winter (roughly 20 days)
Session Dates: 12/12/19 - 09/18/20
The group returned, wounded, to Port Quinn, where they found their deeds underneath Helm's Temple had earned them a positive reputation once everything had been sorted out. For the first time, The Finger Gang felt eyes on them in a positive way, instead of suspiciously or with anger.
Heinrich invested money in The Cold Harp to build an underground space for The Finger Gang to store things, and potentially meet (if somewhat cramped.) Morwen, meanwhile, found that Morwen's Miscellaneous had done well enough that Ezra had taken over, and moved the shop to Nocturne. In a letter, she indicated that she appreciated Morwen's help but no longer needed her for the business; as a parting gift, she left Morwen a set of Glamoured studded leather armor.
The group decided to head toward Shae's homeland, and Heinrich spent the journey searching for Helm or a way to connect, his connection with Azrah now severed. He was without his abilities since awaking in the church, and desperately desired a way to help his friends.
First, the group sailed to Gulver's Bay, nearly falling into a massive whirlpool but saved by Guntir controlling a wave across the yawning chasm to coast the entire ship across. There, they resupplied for the land journey, and decided to head first to the Lorebinder Academy to seek out answers to questions Heinrich and Shae had about the prophecy.
Prior to leaving, Shae was confronted by Hylan, a mountain elf of the xinyi who was said to have slaughtered hundreds of monks single-handedly. Hylan told her that Aera, Shae's adopted mother, was not what she seems, and that she was the one who had driven her father, the ancient master Joruxa, mad. She told Shae that something was deeply wrong within the Xinyi; when she was ready, meet her on the Giant's Step.
At the Lorebinder Academy, the group met Lorebinder Boron, a massive, highly intelligent goliath who wore the blue Lorebinder robes that stretched taught, almost bursting against he heavily muscled form. They received help in doing research, and Boron acknowledged that the star posed a significant problem. He informed them he'd observed it as well, having met Bernal Ossarius prior to him traveling to Port Quinn initially. The goliath shared that the star appeared before the end of each age, roughly every 1,300 years.
The star always awoke life around the planet, but it proceeded the introduction of a new life form, and an awakening of those it had brought previously by activating the original Pillar site. He confirmed that the Pillar of Scales was one such site, and that it's awakening had brought dragons and their ilk back into the world. He reported wyverns now coasting the skies of the north above.
Boron gave the group a stone bowl, that when filled with water, can serve as a visual-sending spell. He told the group he would help where he could. Guntir spent this time attempting to gain access to the restricted sections of the library, in order to search more about how one might kill a god. The Finger Gang then departed, and headed toward Squall's End, and the monastic order known as the Xinyi, the people who raised Shae.
After tough mountain climbs, sheer cliff scaling in the midst of a blizzard, and a clifftop fight with a wyvern in near white-out conditions that nearly ended in Morwen being dropped to her death, were it not for Heinrich's quick thinking, the group pressed on. The group stumbled across the firbolg druid Laurara, who shifted her form into an earth elemental to fight the group before discovering they were friendly.
Laurara then confessed that using that ability was desperation; she was protecting the small town of Smuggler's Dug nearby, and would now not have enough magic to cast the protective illusions she'd been using to keep the town obscured from the wyverns that would come.
Feeling responsibility for these creatures return to the world of Alberon, The Finger Gang stayed, and fought the wyvern that they had escaped from previously... and it's mate. They were heroes in the town, and Laurara helped the group get to Mount Yishi across the valley... and to Squall's End, the home of Shae.
The group arrived in Squalls End, a town with unimaginable beauty, the workmanship of it's people remarkable, influenced by the nearby monks' pursuit of perfection in all it's forms. Here, currency was not used, but barter accepted. Shae introduced, hesitantly, the members of the party to her family.
Aera, the serious mountain elf mystic who served as the voice and will of the Xinyi, greeted the group. She showed a deep love for Shae, but demanded perfection of her. Shae's serious attitude made much more since to the group. They then met Gambol Overbrook, Shae's adopted uncle. Jovial, with his arm's length wizard pipe ever at the ready, and a smile constantly spread across his face, the wise old halfling accepted all of Shae's "friends" as friends in their own right. He heard of their adventures, and for helping his little bird fly, gifted each of the party an invention of his:
To Morwen, a metallic box that could record and repeat a brief bit of speech; To Heinrich, he gifted a ring that could store and return force damage; and to Shae, he saved a gift he had worked on for some time: a mask of gilded feathers, resembling a red hawk; wearing it would "...allow you to see as well as any of us, Shae."
For Guntir's part, he bonded with Gambol over their shared experiences as outsiders to traditional dwarven culture, Guntir as a hill dwarf that was considered "homeless" by dwarven standards, and Gambol for spending a decade in Kol Taram, a halfling outsider who could never be taken seriously in a dwarven citadel. Gambol gave Guntir two gifts: First, a small metal cube that could expand, and produce a somewhat protected shelter, which Guntir took to calling the "Gam-Cube" and second, Gambol gave to Guntir his very first tinkerer's set and told him he wished him to continue to work with his hands.
They decided to continue on to Kol Taram, to face this dragon and prevent it from using the piece of Aurillion's star that had fallen there. To rapidly descend the mountain, the group elected to use The Iron Hawk, a "steel and leather controlled falling device" that had only once seen testing and even that, only a 50 foot drop. When asked about the pilot for the initial test, Gambol smiled and stated: "Well he's okay now, mostly!"
Guntir helped Gambol outfit the craft more appropriately, and the group rolled off the 15,000 foot tall peak of Mount Yishi, and plunged through the cloudline, and back into the blizzard beneath. They performed well as a team, sailing over most of the distance to Kol Taram; things ended poorly during the landing, and as the craft collided with columns of stone in the Bone Meadow, Guntir was ejected, striking several columns before coming to rest, apparently dead on the ground.
Due to the distance his corpse covered, it took some time for the group to find Guntir; but as the spell "feign death" ended, Guntir sprung to life, heavily wounded by largely no worse off than the 287-year-old dwarf normally was. They traveled across the Bone Meadow, rescuing the gnome Blue-Coated Bard, Nillie Wenslow, from a strange creature lurking in the sulfur brooks. They finally arrived in The Undercity, an entire city built in a massive flood drain built before the entire north became frozen.
The group met many odd figures there, from the creepy innkeeper of the haunted Gentle Repose, to members of the crime family that held the entire city in it's grasp: Clan Coldwrought. Grunvar Coldwrought asked the group to look out for his niece, Helia Coldwrought, who'd gone up the staircase to Kol Taram to try and get supplies for the Undercity, but hadn't returned. The group, destined for Kol Taram anyways, agreed to look for her. They progressed up the stairs, finding huge beasts and deadly traps, but eventually, reached Kol Taram proper, with a large obstacle in their path...
At the top of the staircase, in a large chamber once meant to be a museum but now formed into a staging area for Kienscale's army to push into The Undercity below, over a dozen soldiers stood guard. More concerning than that was a familiar face on their side: Iluktai, a half-orc rogue the party had adventured with early in their career. He welcomed them as worthy opponents, and said that he worked for Kienscale with the mutual understanding it was so that he could one day slay her. He called for the soldiers to unleash bow fire, and fled.
The group tore through the soldiers, having significantly more trouble facing the black puddings that emerged from crates, magically bound to the stones within said boxes. Heinrich threw fire at them, causing them to explode, incinerating many of the soldiers. As the group picked through the bodies, they discovered that these soldiers had mostly been conscripted citizens of Kol Taram, forced to serve Kienscale, who used access to food, medicine, and housing as strings by which to pull Kol Taram's people.
The group used the Rat Tunnels, a series of smuggling caverns dug for use by The Shadowscavs, an organization that Gambol used to belong to. The group ascended to The Ring of Silver, and found it to be on fire. The air hung heavy with smoke and ash precipitated down heavily like snow. Many buildings were broken, blanked remains, and terrible creatures tore through the sky, invisible in the smoke above. The hundreds of fires burning the builds carved into the walls of the hollow mountain filtered through the smoke gave it the appearance of a hellish dusk at all hours.
The group lied their way passed a patrol, and eventually made their way to the Dawnfather's Zigguart, a sprawling, 500 foot tall temple that spanned the outside of the Ring of Silver all the way up to The Ring of Gold above. It had been infested by Kobolds, but undaunted, the group caused a distraction and snuck in, using the various smoke vents to traverse it quickly and relatively safely.
A group of kobolds, different than the others, were gathering in a ceremonial chamber used for blessing weapons. There, kobolds covered in a purple fungus, spreading the spores as they went, defiled the place. The Finger Gang snuck past, and found a pile of abandoned belongings, and a wombat named Doug.
The group took Doug and investigated the Ring of Gold from the top of the temple, which rose up above the first level of the Ring. They saw a shocking sight: Life as normal. Wealthy dwarves shopped, or took long walks. Well-dressed couples strolled through parks. No destruction, no snowfall of ash, or burning buildings. They saw Kienscale berate the patrol they'd deceived previously, before ripping the leader in half. She then instructed the entire Ring to stop any who didn't belong.
The group retreated and went down into a room of kobolds who had activated a massive golem. The group hid, and waited for the kobolds to leave before investigating the room. They found the corpse of Doug the Wombat's owner, and clues that gave the group ideas about how to break the kobold's command of the golem.
They pursued the group to The Gibbon Society guildhall, still intact due to it's protective magic, save a huge, golem-shaped hole in the side. The group entered and attacked the kobolds, defeating them and snatching control of the golem, with it binding to Guntir. Guntir used the golem to smash a hole through the roof of the first floor and into the second.
There, they found an ancient hill dwarf, like Guntir, named Falran Hillsbane who was guarding a cursed sword, called the Nine-Lives Stealer. He offered to show them to where the resistance fighters of Kol Taram were based if they would offer him protection, a deal that the group readily accepted. On their way out, Heinrich found a black candle with a faceted face, carved with odd runes, and took it with him.
The group found The Eternal Rest, a funeral parlor serving as a hideout for the dwarves. The resistance had dwindled to seven, who worked to get non-combatants out of the city. Heinrich learned that Euriel's Watch had been helping this group smuggle people out of the city. The group traveled with Medor, the leader of the resistance, to see a tunnel the group had dug to spy on the Halls of Atonement below. The Halls were once a prison for the criminals of Kol Taram; they were now used to house the citizens, and the criminals served as guards as often as not.
There, they found a fight with soldiers of Kienscale, and a contingent of bugbears. As they took the upper hand, a massive storm giant appeared, and challenged Guntir, who's powers had vanished after Kord judged him to be cowardly. Guntir stood his ground, despite the giant throwing bolts of lightening at him, annihilating Doug the Wombat.
The group reigned victorious in a close fight, but found Medor slain. They administered rites to all the fallen, and Guntir found his power restored. They returned to the resistance and delivered news of Medors death.
Krawtic rejoined the group, and delivered news: he'd seen a massive construction project in the central staircase that appeared to be a gateway of some kind. He saw a rune etched into it that appeared to be the symbol for the Halls of Dharma, a holy place in the Xinyi Monastery. Further, he had seen messages left in the ash in the Xinyi language, and guessed that they were left by Ninth Path members.
The group used clues from the message to travel to the doors of an ancient ward. Heinrich used the Bowl of Sending to speak to Loremaster Boron about the ward's history, and learned that it belonged to an Artificer, and that it had been sealed off centuries prior.
Within the group slowly uncovered details and clues to what had transpired in this place, known as Dinmen's Ward: They learned it was run by a wood elf named Jerrod, who went by the nickname The Architect; it was discovered that Jerrod had created four creatures of bronze known as Azers, each designed for a different task; and finally, they learned that Kol Taram was built across an elementally dam,aged section of Alberon, a wound leftover from The Elemental Deluge during the First Age. Jerrod had exploited this to gain access to several foreign planes... including The Shadowfell.
They explored the depth's of Jerrod's workshop, but found, in a massive chamber at the top of the workshop, the last Azer that Jerrod had built, but instead of elemental fire giving it life, it channeled a cold so bitter that it hurt to stand near it. It proclaimed that it carried out the will of a creature named Orvenesker, and that "Winter had arrived!"
As the group recovered, Guntir cast Legend Lore on Orvenesker, and the word froze in his mouth, the ice expanding over his face like a frosty grasp. Guntir saw The Mountain of Ultimate Winter, and heard the laughter of an ancient being.
With no time to dwell on this vision, the group emerged onto The Golden Terrace above. They crept through grapes and apples of gold, stopping to eat a few of the later, before entering the strangely deserted mansion. They saw, down a distant hall, a strange fey woman, and followed her from a distance to a room, which they saw her enter and hurriedly leave. Upon inspection, the room full of beautiful dresses on over a dozen dress forms; shelves of books ranging from the academic to the fictional; and the location of the treasure sought by Helia Coldwrought.
A single wooden bead falling to the ground was the only thing that clued a preoccupied Finger Gang in to the presence of a group of Ninth Path monks who had already stolen treasure, and were attempting to creep out. Shae and Morwen proved faster than some of the monks, and the Gang managed to lock them into combat. Already wounded, they were no match for Heinrich, Guntir, Shae, Helia, Krawtic, and Morwen; they entombed the leader in a block of stone, and interrogated her successfully.
The monks had stolen a Xinyi reliquary, and stored it within a Bag of Holding, which Guntir took. Heinrich found the woman, an with fealty eladrin of the Autumn Court. She introduced herself as Avreatome, and explained that the only ways out were located in other wings of The Goldglow Estate, which were only accessible through the Golden Terrace.
The group slowed their progress, having recognized that their fight with the Ninth Path monks had likely drawn some attention. As they approached, Helia asked of Morwen: "Have you ever lost friends?" Morwen indicated that she had. "Was it worth it?" Morwen hesitated, but eventually stated that it was. As they neared the Terrace the ornately decorated wooden bridge that crossed the shallow and perfumed pond was all that separated The Finger Gang from three platemail-clad dragonborn... and the deep dragon, Kienscale.
Kienscale offered Guntir a way out of his obligations to Kord, and to bestow upon him powers greater than any dwarf had known: "You can have nightmares, or you can have dreams, I offer you a choice, Guntir." Guntir rejected the offer with the intent to negotiate, but as his refusal left his lips, Helia stepped forward and stabbed Guntir in the back.
Morwen, Krawtic, and Shae squared off against Helia and Kienscale's champions; Guntir stepped forward to face Kienscale, with Heinrich backing him up. The group fought Helia, attempting to reason with the daughter of Doldrum Coldwrought, himself the kingpin of the criminal Clan Coldwrought. She refused, and Shae was forced to knock her unconscious in the pool.
The battle raged on, with Guntir, Morwen, and even Shae taking enough damage to knock them out of the fight; Kienscale could radiate a fear so intense, dramatic pulses of this terror caused psychic damage. Further, her ability to use her body and the terrain to separate the party allowed her to effectively fight on two fronts.
In the commotion, Helia, unconscious in the water, drowned.
Heinrich and the aarakocra Krawtic were all that remained. Krawtic took a massive swipe to the side, forcing him to his knees in front of the Nightmare of Tooth and Scale, but Heinrich seized this brief opportunity and lapse in the dragon's attention to let loose a torrent of eldritch blasts into a massive wound sustained from Krawtic. The final blast was all Kienscale could take, and at long last, the purple dragon that laid siege to the dwarven citadel of Kol Taram fell.
In-Game Dates: 5th of the Claws of Winter - 25th of Claws of Winter/Present (20 days)
Session Dates: 09/25/20 - Present
With mere moments to spare, Dithmae Goldglow, the matron of the clan, approached, and declared the Finger Gang heroes of Kol Taram. The group was rewarded handsomely, with Guntir getting a full set of platemail at long last, though he immediately returned it to be outfitted with the scales of Kienscale.
After basking in the glow of being legitimized as heroes, the group (in particular Guntir) pushed for peace between the Goldglow clan in Kol Taram above, and the Coldwroughts below. The Finger Gang spent significant funds on an urn for Helia, the Coldwrought who had passed in their fight with Kienscale.
The group returned to The Undercity, where Guntir and Morwen had an emotional encounter with Doldrum Coldwrought, the ancient dwarven patriarch of the crime clan by the same name. They informed him of his daughters death, and he revealed to them he'd named her after her mother, who'd passed in childbirth. "I never thought I'd have to mourn that name again. She was my youngest. She was supposed to bury me!"
Guntir surprised everyone by embracing diplomacy and employing a shocking amount of tact. He persuaded Doldrum to at least consider the possibility of coming to a truce with the dwarves above. It seemed for all the trouble he had caused, Guntir may have also prevented a war.
The group departed Kol Taram and traveled back to Squall's End, Shae's hometown, assisted by the dog sled teams run by Sally Abletoe, and her ward, Pine.
Morwen and Guntir caused trouble, engaging in a race and sabotaging each-other's sleds. Guntir raced ahead, gaining nearly fifteen minutes on the rest of the group. He found himself surrounded by aarakocra monks of the Ninth Path, and debris fallen from the monastery above. They cut him down, though Guntir used a last-minute feign death spell to evade being fully finished off. The Gang found him impaled upon a spear, as a warning.
Guntir was healed with Heinrich's help, and together, The Finger Gang ascended Mount Yishi and returned to find Squall's End in an uproar in the wake of an assault by the rogue monastic faction called The Ninth Path; what's more, the assault stemmed from WITHIN the Halls of Dharma, the labyrinth of halls and passages beneath the mountain designed to aid the monks in their meditations.
Traveling down the Path of the Soul, a tract in this place reserved for the masters of the order, The Finger Gang found themselves beyond the material plane, and adrift within the astral sea. They fought invisible stalkers employed by the ninth path that seemed to harry them at every turn. Finally, ascending a spiraling staircase up and into the darkness of the astral sea, the group was confronted by el'Hidiyat al'Amir, the djinn who served as the Xinyi's Listener, and who had not been seen in over a month.
As the approached, his blue eyes gazed upon them sadly: "You must go; but I must not let you pass. Approach." What followed was a tense battle; Shae was nearly killed, and each of the party badly wounded. Heinrich delivered a devastating blow with a psychic prison spell, and Morwen finished him off, shrieking in fear from the darkness in the process.
With no time to consider what had just transpired, a gateway to The Giant's Step flickering almost out of existence, the group raced through the portal, and found themselves in the ancient, floating cloud giant city called Yorn. The rune magic of the early giants permeated the place, making it both dangerous and beautiful.
Avoiding patrols and finding an ancient siege tunnel, the group fought through 9th Path monks to reach the nerve center of Yorn. Within a gigantic stone basin filled with swirling mist-like clouds, small hunks of stone symbolized the various districts of the city, although most were frozen in magical ice, alongside the corpse of an ancient frost giant.
Heinrich realized that this giant had been frozen while attempting to destroy the map, and surmised that those pieces that were encased in ice had collapsed to Alberon, thousands of feet below. He melted some of the ice, and discovered that sections thawed out would again rise to rejoin the rest of the city in the clouds. While doing this, the tiefling also managed to lift an entire mountain, along with it's inhabitants. This diverted a portion of the River of Colors, who's mineral-rich waters are a lifeline through much of the central region of northern Dominion.
With the ground rising to the sky as a distraction, The Finger Gang snuck into The Aperature, a huge building of glass and twisted metal. In a race against time, only Shae was fast enough to enter building, and witness the opening of a vast portal. Through it, she saw a red world, not Alberon, but alien and harsh; she saw a massive sword, the size of a skyscraper, plunged into a red mountainside beyond that; but stepping through the gate was what caught her attention most.
Joruxa, known affectionately as "The Roach" amongst the Xinyi, was father to Aera, and had purportedly lost his mind centuries ago. Yet there he stood, one foot in Yorn, the other in the red-sanded battlefield of Kalipsos, a keen intelligence blazing out of his eyes. He told Shae that he had found what he needed: "Tell Markavir I'll say hello to his mother for him." With that, he stepped through, the portal closing behind him.
Shae watched The Breaker, one-third of the Staff of Twisted Fates, shatter into dust as the mechanism Joruxa and The Ninth Path had built to open the portal began to melt down. Shae seized The Maker with one arm, her skin burning and sizzling, but managed to pull the staff free from it's housing before it, too, was destroyed.
Dejected, the group rested, and then traveled down the Giant's Step, and back to the relative safety of the ground. They made their way north, and found themselves once more at Kol Taram, being warmly greeted by the citizens of the citadel they had saved just liberated a week and a half prior. Having heard a perceived threat to his mother, Heinrich sought to cash in a favor to teleport to the rich suburb of Pendleton, and from there make the trek west to the military city of One-Thousand Gates.
Aieshelvise, a drow enchanter they had met previously, met up with the group, bringing Guntir his commissioned set of platemail armor, now inlaid with scales from the deep dragon Kienscale herself. Heinrich asked if she would be interested in purchasing a beautiful necklace he had found in The Goldglow Estate.
The drow's purple eyes shone bright. She noted the mountain rising into the sky to the north, and told the group of an older prophecy of her people:
When twilight begins to run red/
and the banner turns to ash/
When azure light rises ‘bove your head/
and the dead find their speaker at last/
When the earth returns to the skies/
and when many minds become one/
When the tears of our people return to their eyes/
Gan-Machan has begun/
Silence the dead in the cradle of man/
And dig beneath the rot/
Break the Weavelock, end the curse/
And remember what we forgot/
She pointed to the banner turning to ash, relating it to The Burning Banner, a massive legion of aasamir who reside in Kalipsos, and it's possible downfall, not knowing that Joruxa was already in Kalipsos. She guessed that the "azure light" was Aurillion's Star. Aieshelvise also pointed at the earth returning to the sky, and mentioned the massive swathes of ground Heinrich had raised up to join Yorn. She then told them that this diamond necklace that Heinrich had offered, The Tearstrand, was a lost item from a slain leader of her people, and that it's return may symbolize the tears of her people returning.
Looking together at the last part of the prophecy, the group determined that The Cradle of Man may be within the Pillar of Life that brought them to Alberon, located deep within the Gated Marsh, which sits to the west of One-Thousand Gates. With their course reaffirmed, The Finger Gang, assisted by a member of the Bearded Consortium, teleported them to Pendleton.
From there, they traveled west to One-Thousand Gates, a sprawling military city that has slowly built up along the walls and castles that separate The Gated Marsh from The Kingdom of Serentyl. At One-Thousand Gates, they met up with Rhodesia, who had joined the Garrison there after her husband died. She was overjoyed to see the group, though was sad to find out that Morwen had sold The Sandy Assortments.
Through talking to locals and Rhodesia herself, the group learned of a large attack on the city two weeks ago, which destroyed a section of the city. Upon learning that the Church of the Six had sectioned it off, the group headed over to investigate. There, they were met by Euthilius, the Harbinger Heinrich met back in Port Quin several months ago. Heinrich managed to talk his way into the crime scene, and learned of Azrah's involvement in these attacks.
The group was torn: Through the dreaded fens of the Gated Marsh, Nazarra was operating in Dungannon and could serve as a powerful ally; back in the North, the pieces of the broken weapon, The Breaker, lay scattered in the Aperture in Yorn, and could be re-forged; The Lorebinder Academy seemed to offer a potential next step in Heinrich's quest to find a way to Kalipsos; and always, the star of Aurillion shines above. Heinrich resolved to ask his book for help, and in the meantime Guntir and Morwen decided to find something to occupy themselves for the next hour.
As the pair began to scheme, Knight Starxarx, a senior member of Guntir's old order of clerics known as the Priesthood of Thunder, approached. The blue-scaled dragonborn knew Guntir as Jasper Honeydew, and demanded Guntir return to the order to assist in a task. Guntir refused, and in for his obstinance, was challenged to a duel.
The battle grew steadily fiercer, and when Guntir redirected lightening from Starxarx into the crowd of onlookers, the tone shifted significantly. Citizens ran, panicked, and other forces converged. Though Starxarx offered Guntir a chance to yield when he learned that tge Church was involved (really Heinrich casting Wall of Light) Guntir continued his attack.
As the battle threatened to reach a crescendo, Shield Urishma Boltav intervened. This tall, bear of a woman with cheekbone exposed from a deep gash across her face that never fully healed, arrived. Knight Starxarx immediately dropped his weapon. As Guntir approached Boltav to talk, the dragonborn told the Shield that Guntir had caused the problems surrounding them.
With no prisoners being taken within 1,000 Gates, the shield drew her war hammer and slammed Guntir's face into the ground, knocking him unconscious.
All the while, Morwen took keys stolen off a distracted guard to a bell tower and looted everything not nailed down. From her spot on the top of the tower, Morwen saw Guntir slammed to the ground, unconscious. In a moment of impulsivity, she leapt onto the bell, ringing it loudly in the hopes that it would distract those below. This activated a city-wide battle response, and the gates and walls that formed the barrier between The Gated Marsh and the Kingdom to the east swarmed with activity. Shield Boltav departed, but not before turning to her side and speaking to the air: "Do what you must."
From thin air, a lean figure clad in matte black armor appeared, with twin, hooked swords crossed behind is back. As Shae moved to help the unconscious Guntir, this Shadewarden, a warrior employed within the Walled City of Nocturne, bade her stope. Shae asked if she could help Guntir, to which the Shadewarden responded: "He is dying, because that is what he is meant to do."
He stepped overtop the downed dwarf, and as Shae pled with the man, he placed eachof the hooked swords on either side of Guntir's neck.
"Whatever this man may have done, this is not justice. Please, I need him." Shae stated, hesitating in the presence of this strange entity.
"I am a Shadewarden of Nocturne, and this man is not who he says he is. He is The Gazelle, and he has been hunted for some time. His crimes may not have originated here, but they will end here." The figure, whose face seemed to draw the shadows to it like a mask, responded.
"Please, he can help me fix something that I've lost, I will bring him back to you when I am finished, but I need him." Shae reaffirmed. The figures eyes flickered up once more in a moment of indecision.
For just a moment, Guntir's storm-blue eyes fluttered open.
"Shae... are we going north now?" As his finals worlds left his lips, in a flicker of motion, the Shadewarden separated Guntir's head from his body, and after 287 years, Guntir finally died. The killer looked up at Shae and spoke before vanishing:
"I am sorry for what you have lost, but the world has lost nothing today." By herself on the street, Shae spoke to the clouds:
"The world has lost everything. The world will burn, and when it does, this place will burn first."
Chaos erupted in the streets, and in the confusion Heinrich and Shae made their way to the outskirts of town from whence they came. Meanwhile, Morwen followed the decapitated corpse of Guntir, after a bronze automaton collected it. This led her to the Black Keep's dungeons, where she was stopped by a guard. After a terrible round of negotiations, Morwen was able to obtain a finger from Guntir "as a practical joke for when he wakes up"; it quickly became clear that Morwen was having some trouble accepting her friend's death.
The three survivors gathered on the outskirts of town, and struck out east toward the wealthy suburb of Pendelton. On the course of their journey, Morwen became more and more sullen, slowly coming to terms with the old dwarf's passing. The group came across chanting, and followed it to discover a cultist and hired guards attempting to summon something, as well as a strange elf watching from the outskirts as well.
The group quickly overcame the strangers, with Aca bearing witness to the might of the Finger Gang as the dispatched or disabled all five of the brigands in under twenty seconds. After a tense standoff, with Aca fearing for his life, Aca introduced himself, and explained he had been following a wand that the cultists had been using as a reagent in the summoning.
When Aca learned of the group's involvement with The Staff of Twisted Fates (one of the Triwards) he agreed, provisionally and for a small salary, to accompany them for the time being. He sent a message off to his group. Aca also told the group of teleportation capabilities that existed just a day's travel east in the Walled City of Nocturne. The group decided to try out the notoriously shady city.
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Last Updated: 01/16/2021