Empire Above

EA 3-5: Frenemies

6 Desnus 4959

“King Kronus and the Order of the Veil hunt me not because I am disturbing the Veil, but because I threaten to destabilize his control on the world.”
- Enbar Johan

Summary: Otto Jr. was visibly upset by the agreement struck by his company that saved his life. He agreed to honor it to preserve goodwill, but there can be no doubts about his intentions to recoup his losses. Overburdened with treasure, the party went to market, selling magical wares left and right. Fortunately, their is an appetite for such goods in Tuls, particularly since the local blacksmiths are struggling to make a profit on their arms/armor. Glimkin found the man responsible for the smith’s woes – a dwarf with a beard made of fire named Angehrt.

Edan made contact with the Darkshadows hidden within the Sage’s Chain. After being questioned for a while by an inquisitor and a steel monkey, he was brought before a group of three men at a long table: a drow wearing two swords, a human with a greatbow, and Enbar Johan. Edan’s mind was then shielded to prevent Kronus from benefiting from his mark. Enbar briefly explained the relationship between the Darkshadows and King Kronus and then struck a bargain with Edan. Enbar told him of the Lost Mirror of Klementina that can be used to kill Jorick in return for Edan’s effort to dismantle zones of stasis across the Lands Below.

Notes: Glimkin bartered an ogre for a flute made of pearls and ivory, which he gifted to Bertio.

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EA 3-4: The Crocodile Gang

6 Desnus 4959

“Capture them! The Ancient Ones must not be disturbed!”
- Hag

Summary: A carefully concealed passageway led beneath the streets of Tuls to an underground cavern. A watchtower stood on a stone outcropping overseeing the lake and docks below. One of the crocodile bandits was on watch, and he raised alarm when the party entered. A one-eyed undead figure held Otto Baynes captive and demanded the heroes hand over the crate of Naga Blood. As they did so, one of the crocodile humanoids seized the crate and began hustling toward the docks. A fight ensued, but the party was too late – the crate was taken.

The party pursued Otto Jr., the Naga Blood, and the crocodile gang deeper into the complex aboard a small raft. They landed near a series of interconnected, watery caves. Fighting off crocodile and humanoid, the heroes nearly lost Choe. Then, a crackling bolt of lightning from a strategically hidden shaman caused the party to take shelter, relying on the bravery of Rionach and Glimkin to close the gap and slay their foe.

Swimming through a submerged chamber, the adventurers arrived next to a small whirlpool and a pair of alcoves, where a hideous creature stood over a cauldron, brewing something. The hag and her allied group of aventi humanoids put up a fierce contest, but destructive spells and blows reigned down upon them. Though the party had suffered greatly and lost much of its strength, they managed to defeat the hag, rescue Otto Jr., and recover a horde of treasure.

Notes: Glancing into the cauldron, the party saw it was filled with Naga Blood and the image of an alien creature with three glowing red eyes, presumably “the Ancient Ones”.

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3-3: The Isle of Passion

5 Desnus 4959

“Tuls is hardly the beautiful palatial city that it seems. To a true-sighted eye, it is crudely constructed and for good reason. Brindon Maodi plays with the pieces of ‘his’ city like a child with blocks. Be careful not to walk out your door in the morning without looking down. You might find your quarters have moved out over a ledge!”
- Penlegon

Summary: Upon arriving in Tuls, the party traveled with Otto Baynes Jr. via gondola into the city when a pair of bandits and their crocodile affiliates ambushed the party in the canals. Arawn was nearly rent to pieces by crocodiles, and before the party could react, the bandits abducted Otto Jr. The heroes, unconcerned, finished their errands and found accommodations at the Lady and the Lamp. That evening, Mania and other members of Baynes Enterprises located the party and demanded to know what happened to their master, pinning a ransom note to their tavern table. In the end, the party agreed to rescue him for the guaranteed release of the Naga in Hydra’s Keep.

Notes: Alcarin, Glimkin and the dwarven trio met a rotund goblin named Skemod Biggut and his three elven ladies. He convinced them all to pay a visit to the Dancing Dryad. The party also spoke with an elven mage, Penlegon, who plans to compete in the Grand Illusory.

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EA 3-2: Baynes Enterprises

29 Gozran 4959

“Would you fancy some of THE blood?”
- Mania, Baynes Enterprises Associate

Summary: Rionach, Edan, and Arawn tactfully departed the Naga blood fiasco, but not before meeting Otto Baynes Jr., heir to the fortunes of Baynes Enterprises. Otto Jr. took quite a liking to Rionach, much to the chagrin of her ‘husband’ Edan. With song and dance, Otto Jr. played the role of a gracious host. One might even say charming, if not for his forwardness and clearly misguided moral compass.

Back at the Dented Shield, the party prepared to attend a fine banquet at the behest of the dwarf clanlords. Glimkin was privy to a revolutionary full-body (ahem…beard) grooming by the famous barber, Mr. Ice. Extravagant jewelry and clothing was purchased by all, save Alleran. The dwarven trio (Choe, Helmund, and Bertio) followed the heroes into the Marble Hall of Ancestors, where in grandiose ceremony, they were bestowed with 10 astral diamonds for their faithful service to the city.

As the congregation prayed to Torag, a clockwork golem exploded with a shower of blood that beckoned a vampire frenzy. Multiple arrows from the undead hunter (Alleran), a gear-wrenching stab from Edan, and the chill of the void from Rionach decimated the enemy. With the danger behind them, the party made haste for the airship departing for Hydra’s Keep. At the helm stood Otto Baynes Jr.

Notes: Rionach met with the kitsune to stir ideas of a fellowship with Desna. Kaien stayed behind in Hydra’s Keep, lacking any sort of formal immigration paperwork and wishing to recover from tetnus. Eugophylis, the red dragon, is actually a shape-shifter, formally a druid of the Icemaw Mountains.

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Letter to the Lost.

A man of middling age sits at the prow of the ship his face unreadable a well worn journal clutched tightly in rough and calloused hands. His eyes glazed with grief his focus entirely on his current writing.

My Dearest Alexi,

It has been a long week since the events that transpired in the Well, I still find myself doubting that you are truly gone. Even though every scrap of evidence I have encountered tells me that you died with the Jericho. If so then I have yet another sin to add to those I bear, your blood stains my hands just as much as Arryn’s. But my dearest baby sister . . . . . . . . . . .

The following passages have been scratched out the ink smeared and smudged as if from rain

It is all my fault. I grew complacent. I let this warm soft land lull me into believing that it was safe. That I could hide from the sins of my past. I let my knowledge and skills wane. I became weak. But know this, I will discover what led to your presence in that foul city. I will find why you were sold on those slave blocks. I will find Eugophylis and I will kill her. I might not be able to protect you anymore my baby sister but I will see the ones who stole you from this world damned to the deepest pits of hell. And if that requires me to sell my soul to Asmodeus then so be it. I will take what infernal power I can grasp turn it against my enemies like our family has for generations.

Your Loving Brother,
Alleran Strakeland
Ignis Vindicta
Sanguinem Sanguine
Animam pro Anima

With a snap the journal snaps shut the man slowly rising to his feet. The grief is gone from his gaze, replaced with a terrible deadly purpose.

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EA 3-1: Off With His Head

28 Gozran 4959

“Vampires walk the streets of Hydra’s Keep!”
- Sgt. Hendryx

Summary: A tree stump covered in ash. The Jericho’s body torn asunder. A red dragon vanished into deep reaches of the world. Droskar’s prophet, Novan Clawe, had been vanquished, but not without a price. Alleran stood at the edge of the lava peering out across the molten rock. Alexia, his sister, lay within a strong man’s arrow distance, but he could not bring her back now. Ragathiel’s gaze would have her at last.

Thirteen winged creatures, hewn of stone and earth, crashed onto the tree stump. Marek Whitehammer and twelve other dwarf clan lords of Hydra’s Keep dismounted from their backs. They applauded the heroes for their bold action and were delighted to find many lost treasures of Torag hidden within the Well.

Flying back to the city, the heroes landed near an airship bound for Tuls in two days, and Edan noticed an underhanded exchange between crew members working for Baynes Enterprises. Bluffing his way into their company, Edan was invited to join them at 12 Moonview Ln. in Merchant Heights. While Alleran, Alcarin, Glimkin, and Kaien went to rest, Edan, Rionach, and Arawn adventured to the crew’s address. The three were escorted downstairs to bedroom where a group of humans had magically bound a snake-like monstrosity and siphoned vials of metallic purple goo from her sinuous body.

Notes: The party walked back to the Dented Shield Inn when they spotted Syris, a bard they had met on Judenaia. He was surrounded by Nocturnum and held within stocks. Sergeant Hendryx proceeded to denounce him as a murderer and severed his head. Only a minute later did Syris’ head slowly reform. “Vampires walk the streets of Hydra’s Keep”, the Sergeant shouted, “And this is how to slay a vampire”. Sergeant Hendryx thrust his silver dagger into the heart of Syris.

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