Dawn of a New Age

Chapter 14
Reading & Rehabilitation

After a lengthy conversation with Lady Cara Seltune in which the group explained what they had just been through and what they had found, the adventurers learned from Lady Seltune that Baileforge is on the verge of war; a war that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore given the proximity of the Seminary to the nations in conflict: Baileforge and Vellandria. Regardless, "A deal is a deal", she said as she escorted them to the Seminary's vast library, as was their arrangement if they retrieved the artifact from Meldizar's tomb. 

They spent the next week researching various books as well as sending letters to their loved ones to make sure they were safe. Through a few scrying rituals, they determined everybody's families were safe and sound, except for Renald's mother who could not be found by the ritual. During a trip to the nearby town of Ghaya for some basic shopping, the group was approached by a young woman going by the name Marianne. She noticed they seemed like a capable group, and hoped that they would be able to find her family. They were residents of the nearby village of Bastow, but recently all of the residents of Bastow had disappeared overnight, without any sign of struggle. The group was already familiar with the town, having been dubbed the Heroes of Bastow by the townsfolk after they dispatched the tax collectors plaguing the village. So they decided to heed the call of this young girl, and they set off for the town the next morning, hoping for a lead in their search for Achaka Metalbeard, the Dwarf that they now believed was responsible for all of their recent troubles.

They arrived at Bastow late that night only to find that it was indeed a ghost town currently. They looked around for a bit and stumbled into the Open Hearth Inn, where they had stayed last time they were here. The place appeared to be empty, but as they were exploring they discovered a trio of mutated humanoid creatures. Before Silva could really react they were already attacking him and if not for the quick thinking on the parts of his compatriots, he might have been done for. They managed to kill two of the creatures before the third one scurried through a hole in the wall and escaped towards the Tempest Mountain pass.

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Chapter 13
An Exercise in Repetition

Our group of adventurers continued their exploration of this veritable madhouse, hoping desperately that the end is near. There were still a few unexplored floors, so they chose one of them at random and entered it into the elevator. The contraption brought them down deeper than they had been before, they used this opportunity to rest up for whatever awaited them down below. The elevator finally stopped and they trepidatiously began to enter the room; which appeared to be Meldizar's workshop. Surrounding them were a number of grotesqueries, including but not limited to an unconscious Rakshasa chained to the ceiling with a pool of blood collecting below its feet. Out from an adjacent chamber, a shabbly looking wizard revealed himself, Quarrios Meldizar. After a brief but tense discussion about his intentions, the group subconsciously readied themselves for a fight. Despite the surprise attack achieved by Meldizar due to a well timed Time Stop spell, the group managed to corner him in a silenced room and wail on him until he went unconscious, at which point Silva threw him into a nearby bed-fire; killing him before anybody could stabilize his wounds.

The group searched the room and found a few items of note. Most importantly they found the book that Gerian Longbrow had been sent to find. The group travelled back to the entry room, finally ready to be free of this place. Once there however, they discovered that the door refused to open, suddenly Soren recieved a vision that appeared to be telling him that they were being timed for some reason. They decided to explore the rest of the dungeon, hopefully revealing a way to exit the chamber. Before they could finish exploring the dungeon, their timer ran out and the clock hit the 12 o'clock position. Just like that, they found themselves back at the entrance feeling fresh since they had just rested in the cavern behind them. None of them knew this, but they were caught in a time loop.

After over 100 loops, the group began to snap out of it. Starting with Shel, then working through the rest of the group, they began to see that they had done all of this before. After all of them 'awoke' it was simple to clear the dungeon up to the point that they had been before. Only one room remained. After clearing away the wall, they found a new room with a medallion bathed in arcane light floating in the middle of the room. Silva reached out and grabbed the medallion. As soon as he grasped it, a column of earth fell from above and crushed Silva, killing him instantly. As soon as it happened though, the medallion activated; causing time to reverse and allowing Silva to step out of the way of the pillar. 

At this point the cavern was beginning to collapse, so the party rushed back to the entrance to find the door now open wide for them. Once they escaped the cavern altogether, they used the teleportation scroll to return to the Arcane Seminary. Once here they were shocked to find out that they had been gone for around 5 months. Still reeling from this revelation, they made their way to Lady Seltune's office where they began to tell their unusual story.

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Chapter 12
The Man Out of Time

Before anybody had a chance to react, Silva was charging toward the threatening Oni. Exhausted after clearing the rest of the cave, our group was hardly prepared for a fight as dangerous as this one, at various stages of the fight almost every group member found themselves incapacited. The Oni cast some very dangerous spells including a cone of cold, which almost single-handedly wiped out the party. Even the previously cowardly Dillane stepped up, and with his aid the group managed to fell the Oni and his two Displacer Beasts. After the fight the group set up camp to rest, and then proceeded to enter Meldizar's Tomb. 

Inside the tomb, the group found a very clean marble room, Shel detected the faintest sign of tracks, and the group began to follow them. They led to a room with an odd diamond shaped panel in the back of the room, and using a nearby template, traced a path on the panel that caused the room to start to tremble before it began to move down deeper underground. This elevator-like contraption brought them to a room where they found a beaten up Dwarf fighting with a mimic in the shape of a treasure chest. They assisted the dwarf and destroyed the mimic, and discovered that his name was Gerian Longbrow. After talking with him for a bit, it became clear that Gerian first arrived here about 800 years ago, even though by his account he'd only been here for a few hours. Something about this place has kept him alive all this time, without even his knowledge of the passage of time.

Now with an additional traveling companion, the group set out to explore the remainder of the tomb, entirely unsure of what to expect in the coming chambers.

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Chapter 11
Rumble in the Grotto

Our adventurers cautiously approached the cavern entrance, Renald leading the group, with the intent to try and negotiate. They slowly approached the first ogre and his basilisk partner. After establishing a tenuous rapport with the ogre, they attempted to determine why the ogres were here. It didn't take long for negotiations to fall apart and the ogre began to show signs of aggression. The rest of the group entered and both the ogre and the basilisk were downed before they could alert the other inhabitants of the cave.

Investigating the next area in the cavern, the group discovered one of the researchers they were sent to find, only he was petrified from the gaze of a basilisk. They discovered a greater restoration potion in his belongings and managed to pour it down his throat. He soon awoke and revealed himself to be Dillane Orsum(the man who sent the help letter to Lady Seltune), he explained that when his group arrived here it was empty, but after about a week of exploration, the ogres arrived with their basilisks in tow and that was essentially the last thing he remembered. It took some convincing, but the group managed to convince him that they needed to keep going forward to search for any of his missing party members.

In the next chamber they found a great number of ogres and basilisks waiting for them. Instead of facing them head on, the party set up an elaborate trick. They took a great-club and made it look golden and magical. Then sent psychic messages to all the ogres telling them that the club was theirs to take. Chaos ensued and after the last one was left standing with the club, Cordyr quickly dispatched with him, leaving only the three basilisks. During the fight, Renald managed to get himself turned to stone before they killed the basilisks. Soren had recalled that the bile of a basilisk had restorative properties concerning the stony flesh its gaze created. Using the basilisk corpses they managed to get enough bile together to restore Renald to his former self. However, in the process of gathering the bile, Cordyr destroyed much of the usable materials in his eagerness to help. This caused a grievance between Silva and himself since Silva felt that Cordyr had poor teamwork; it seemed to him that Cordyr would rather do something poorly himself, than allow somebody else to do it properly. They aired their grievances the old-fashioned way, hitting each other in the face. After expending their resources on this squabble, they separated from each other and began to explore the rest of the cave. They ended up fighting two more ogres in an elevated portion of the cave, after which they believed they had completely cleared it. They had Dillane show them to the entrance of the crypt, so he escorted them to a large bridge crossing a deep chasm, across which some of the group noticed a bizzare looking panther for just a moment, before it vanished. They slowly crossed and after entering the room on the other side they found a well dressed elf with two of those panther-like creatures on either side of him. He began to speak in a low gravelly voice, explaining how he came here to protect an ancient power that the researchers were coming to steal. Not buying it for a second, the group began to draw their weapons and seeing he couldn't continue with the deception, he began to morph into his true form a large magic weilding ogre, otherwise known as an Oni.

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Chapter 10
Ascending The Anferth

Our heroes found their way back to Cara Seltune's first floor office for a previously arranged meeting. Cara revealed to them that she had misled them before, she had the information they were seeking but was unable to share it because of an enchantment that prevented anybody from sharing information gained within their library. She proceeded to ask for a favor, and in return they would be granted access to the seminary's private library. 

The favor in question was to investigate the last known location of a group of researchers that went on a scouting mission to The Anferth in search of a missing ancient artifact. The group agreed, and the following morning they were teleported to a small village called Greyspell at the base of The Anferth Mountains. From there they purchased some climbing and cold weather equipment, then began their ascent into the frigid peaks above. They picked up the trail of the missing researchers on the first day and followed them to an abandoned campsite where they decided to rest for the night. The following day they were following the tracks when they spotted a small group of Giant Eagles flying in the distance, after they changed their clothes colors to white to camouflage themselves they evaded detection just fine. That night they camped out at the bottom of a 50' cliff. During his watch, Rhodes heard some unsettling howling and spotted a pair of glowing white eyes viewing them from atop the cliff. 

Rhodes proceeded to wake the group and they slowly began to prepare for a fight. After a few tense minutes, the eyes disappeared and the howling stopped. Then suddenly an enourmous yeti appeared ahead of them and lunged at Cordyr. During the fight 2 more yeti appeared, flanking the party, and ended up downing Soren, Shel, and Rhodes. After Cordyr landed the killing blow on the final yeti he quickly revived his companions and they finished out their rest. 

The next day they lost the trail…in an attempt to find it again, Cordyr sent Hufflepuff high into the air to search for any signs of them. Hufflepuff spotted a cave entrance a few miles through a nearby pass, and the group agreed that it might be worth checking out. They made it to the cavern exterior around the late afternoon, and quickly discovered numerous sets of tracks, most of them belonging to large bipedal creatures. They also found a week-old snow covered camp site off to the side of the cave. Before just marching into the cave they wisely decided to scout it out a bit first, so Rhodes shifted into a spider and went into the cave. He returned about 45 minutes later with his findings: that the cave was infested with ogres and, even worse, basilisks. If the party was going to enter the cave they'd have to do so with great caution…

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Chapter 9
The "writing's" on the wall

Battered and bruised we find our heroes leaving behind the village of Bastow, only about a day and a half away from Metzer's Arcane Seminary. As night begins to fall, some of the party notice a faint glow and the din of many thousands of voices having conversation. Ambi went ahead to check what it was, and when he returned he told them about the large army making camp, apparently on the march to go somewhere nearby. Instead of making contact, the group decides to go the long way around the camp and sleep far enough away from them that they wouldn't be detected. However as they traveled they encountered a small patrol group keeping a watch on this area. Using some quick deceptions and a surprisingly well done illustration by Rhodes, the group convinced the patrolling officers to allow them to pass.

The following day they arrived at a ferry that carried them to the Crescent Isles and then shortly after, they landed at the smallest of the islands that, according to Vikhtik Talmore, contained the seminary. Despite Cordyr's skepticism, Vikhtik assured the group that this was the right place, even though there was no tower in sight and the only discernible building was a large log cabin perched on the side of the island's large hill. For a few moments the group deliberated about how to carry the barrels of mysterious fluid up the hill, when finally Vikhtik decided to go get help from the seminary. A few moments later a thin Elf woman with jet black hair, bright blue eyes and a very ornate set of robes appeared out of nowhere carrying a large net. She greeted the group rather curtly, saying that her name was Cara and that she would take care of the barrels and that the group should head up to the cabin where Vikhtik was waiting for them. She proceeded to tie up all of the barrels in her net and before the group could do much of anything, she teleported once more vanishing along with the barrels. 

Trusting that Vikhtik knew what he was doing, the group traveled up the hill towards the large log cabin resort. After meeting Vikhtik at the entrance, he ushered the group through the large, well lit cabin, explaining that it is intended to be the guest area for the tower and while there are important things done here, the real magic is all handled in the tower. He escorts the group to a large set of double-doors gaurded by two sentries. Behind the door they found a white undecorated room with a 10 foot wide staircase leading down into the floor. As they walked down the stairs they realized that the stairs curved upside down, and even though they should be falling they stayed upright until the stairs brought them to an identical set of double doors to the ones they just passed through. On the other side of this door though, was a circular room about 40-50 feet in diameter, with various doors lining the edge of the room and a ceiling so high that they couldn't even see it up above them. Through the tall windows that lined two sides of the room, the group could only see a dark violet emptiness stretching out away from the tower. 

They went into one of the ground floor doors where they were officially introduced to Cara Seltune, the Lady Master of the Order of Watchful Magists and Protectors. She dispensed their due payment for escorting the barrels to the tower, and she also showed them the barrels safe and sound in one of the research chambers located in the vault. As the group began to ask various questions to her about their larger quest regarding the mysterious organization, she told them she would be able to better help them the next morning and they would be set up with a couple of rooms in the entry hall. They met with Vikhtik's old master Brian Mubarak, who shared some embarrassing stories about Vikhtik and showed them to their rooms. 

Seeing that they still had some time left in the day, the party decided to make their way to the nearby Elven city of Ghaya, in order to do some shopping with their newfound wealth. Cordyr commissioned a restoration of his broken full-plate, Silva got a new tattoo as well as a box of chewing tobbacco, Soren bought some specialty coffee and tea, Rhodes bought some psychedelics and went on a trip that led to him drawing on a wall with horse-shit and rat's blood(quite well to his own surprise), Renald got some enchanted weaponry, and Shel….well she seemed quite distracted until deciding to run off into the wilderness saying that she would be back within a day or two. As night fell once again, the group made their way back to their rooms for the first good night of sleep they have had in weeks.

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Chapter 8
Great balls of fire

After a well earned rest, Renald was suddenly woken up by Arler, the barkeep at the Open Hearth Inn. According to Arler, the Publicani had arrived a day early, and were collecting their taxes from the locals. He suggested that the party leave as soon as they can, so as not to draw any attention to the cargo they were currently transporting. The group quickly grouped up and tried to covertly get to their cargo, but they were spotted on their way to the stables. 

They tried to sneak out of the rear exit but there simply wasn't enough time, and despite their attempts to delay the publicani, the front door began to open. After Silva decked one of them in the face, a confrontation was unavoidable. As the group began to fight, Cordyr attempted to get the wagon moving; and after some difficulty managed to squeeze the horses through the stable doors, trampling a couple of the tax collectors. Most of the group managed to make it onto the wagon as it was taking off into the street; but up ahead was a shadowy figure casting a spell. Before they knew it there was a massive fireball hurdling towards the cart dealing massive damage to the wagon and all of its contents.

Now, the party had to deal with the new enemy, as well as the flaming barrels occupying their wagon. But as the wagon lost its wheels it lurched forward, sending one of the barrels towards the mysterious figure; as it landed, the mystery fluid reacted with the fire and fused with the cloaked figure, creating a large flame infused monstrosity. Now in a battle for their lives, the publicani turned and assisted in taking down the new, magically imbued threat. After a few turns, the beast was felled, and the party turned their weapons back towards the tax collectors. The group gave them the option to just part ways, and simply move on. After considering it, the Publicani took the offer, and began to retrieve their cart and continue along; it was only after Renald read their surface thoughts and realized that they would report this to their government superiors that the group decided it would be best to stop them so they could keep their freedom and anonymity. The Publicani put up a good fight, but eventually the party won out, eventually choking out the final member. 

As they quickly left the village, they interacted with a few townsfolk, alerting the village that the taxes that were taken had been left in the square by the inn. As they made their exit, the overheard some of the villagers muttering their praises, calling them The Heroes of Bastow.

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Chapter 7
The Tempest Looms

Finally ready to resume their journey, our party sets out on the southern road towards Metzer's. They travel through a small village on their first day, wherein Silva finds himself in a brawl with one of the tavern-dwellers, and after an easy victory they continued on their way. The next day and a half of travel was pretty uneventful. But then on the following night, during Shel's watch, she found herself falling uncontrollably asleep. When she awoke she found herself in complete silence and darkness. It was only after the silence dissipated that she was able to awaken everybody and then shortly afterwards, the darkness cleared. Only now that the darkness had cleared could they see that the wagon containing the barrels had vanished.

Acting quickly, Silva hopped onto one of the horses that had been left behind and started tracking the wagon, with the rest of the party in tow. After only a half hour of searching, they spotted it in the distance, and as they approached the wagon it appeared to have been abandoned. They were searching for clues as to who might have taken it when they were startled by a voice from atop the wagon. The thief revealed himself to be a Tabaxi named Ambidextrous Cobra…or Ambi for short. He explained that hed been hired by tattooed men to retrieve their cargo, but curiosity got the better of him and he decided to sneak a peek at what was in the barrels, then at that point he wanted to know more about what the stuff was so he waited for the party to catch up to him. Ambi offered his services to the group as long as they let him travel with them so he could learn more about the mysterious fluid, and they agreed. 

The next day, the group finally arrived at the base of Tempest Mountain, which was where their path would take them to cross the mountain pass. At the base of the mountain they found themselves in a dilapidated, mostly abandoned town save for the local Inn, Tempest's Shadow B&B. They paid for a few rooms and had a nice meal, during which they met a Justicar that was here to investigate some weird goings on near the peak of the mountain, and since the party happened to be going that way anyway, he agreed to let them travel with him. The journey up the mountain was fairly uneventful, but as they neared the summit, the weather began to get pretty hairy. They reached the Martense Mansion that Otto, their new Justicar traveling companion, was looking for; and after some brief deliberation decided to continue down the mountain rather than stay in the mansion overnight. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake. Soon the mountainside was a torrential downpour of snow, sleet, & hail, and the group began to scramble for any sort of shelter. After a few hours of digging and cutting trees, they hunkered down and tried to get some sleep while waiting out the storm.

Chilled to the bone, the group woke up and, miraculously, everyone was fine and the horses were already beginning to warm themselves up. It took the rest of the day to recollect themselves, and then make it down the rest of the mountain. Upon exiting the vale, they saw a small hamlet at the edge of the mountain. They arrived as the sun was setting, and after getting their bearings and learning the village's name(Bastow), they found the nearest Inn and got a well earned nights rest.

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Chapter 6
Interrogations, Friendly and Fierce

The time had finally come, Cordyr could practically smell Achaka Metalbeard from where he stood. The Vanguards were mere feet away from him but he couldn't manage to get their attention while blending into the crowd like he was. He needed to stand out from the crowd(not that that would be too hard for him). So as the Vanguards made their way into the tavern, Cordyr grabbed his trusty grappling hook and attempted to scale the building. After a couple of failed attempts though, he was accosted by some of the nearby guards and told that he has to leave the city. Not to lose his chance though, Cordyr barrels through the guards and into the tavern. Determined to meet his idol he sprints into the inn and locates where they are. His friends see his great determination and try to help him in his quest, but before he can make it very far, Cosima Farfoot(the Halfling fighter member of the Vanguards) ends the conflict with a very convincing threat. At this point Renald and Soren reveal themselves to be Cordyr's allies and plead for an opportunity to meet with the Vanguards. Achaka Metalbeard agreed, but not until after they finished their meal.

While the group awaited their meeting with the Vanguards behind a locked door, they met with a strange hairy halfling that was traveling with a tiefling on a mission to locate the very same tattooed organization that had been entangled with our adventurers. After exchanging some information the halfling left with his tiefling compatriate, and the group was left to wait for the Vanguards arrival. After another hour or so, they heard some voices and heavy footsteps coming towards their room. Achaka Metalbeard appeared through the doorway, followed by Rimion Ilinsyrer. They had a brief conversation, and Achaka seemed genuinely interested in their mission; however as it turned out he actually didn't know any spells that would allow him to speak with the dead, or raise dead for that matter. He did wish them luck on their mission and gave them a gift in the form of a bag of holding to aid them in their travels.

The groups elation after the meeting didn't last for very long though. Mere moments after the Vanguards carriage departed from the tavern, a bright white blast blinded the group and when their vision returned, a crater had formed where the carriage had been and dozens of bodies lay limp and dismembered around the edge of the crater. Acting quickly, the group identified a suspicious individual and when they went to ask her some questions, she took off trying to escape. A chase had begun, and the pursuant seemed desperate to escape unscathed. The group managed to catch her with the aid of some nearby townsfolk who read the situation well, and began to interrogate her while waiting for the Justicar to arrive. Cordyr, having just watched his lifelong idol disappear in a flash, wasn't feeling particularly merciful and he rather ruthlessly interrogated her to the point of revealing that she was from Vellandria, the continent to the south, and that she had been sent to remove the Vanguards from the equation so Vellandria could more easily invade Baileforge. 

With this new information, the party is finally ready to leave Maedhan's Crossing and continue towards Metzer's Arcane Seminary.

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Chapter 5
A Night to Remember 

After conversing for a short while the group decides to split up; Soren runs to a nearby guard outpost to enlist the aid of the city guardsmen, Renald and Silva pursue the help of the Justicars, while Shel and Cordyr keep watch over the Shield Maiden. Soren arrives at the outpost and to his dismay is rejected help, but the guard captain sends a horse to the Justicar facility with a letter from Soren explaining the situation. Renald and Silva however are far more fortunate as a group of Justicars lead by Sylynor Yeslen agree to the plea request after listening to their evaluation of the situation and upon receiving Soren’s letter. Meanwhile, Cordyr and Shel purchase cloves of garlic while discussing possible vampiric vulnerabilities, many stereotypical and inaccurate. 

An hour before sunset, the group reconvenes near the entrance of the Shield Maiden along with the troop of Justicars, discussing attack strategies. Annoyed at the lack of immediate action, Silva and the recently reemerged Rhodes breakdown the door to the shop, followed quickly by the rest of the party. A short conversion with an unidentified man turned violent as the man revealed himself as a vampire and attacked. Silva attempted to grapple the vampire as shel, thinking quickly, started breaking windows. 

The backdoor suddenly burst, battered open by swarms of bat and wolf summons who rushed the intruders. Cordyr triumphantly jumps through the boarded window yelling “Justice crash,” as Silva managed to drag the vampire though the window exposing him to the light of the sun. The Justicars and party members slowly gained the upper hand, killing the most of the summons and assaulting the vampire directly. Surrounded and outnumbered, the vampire desperately struggles to reach the shade but is held down by Silva, while Cordyr stuffed garlic down his throat and as Shel and Renald start hoarding armor out of the Store. In the last ray of light the vampire falls.

The party investigated the back room of the shop, searching for the shopkeeper, discovering a exit door under the city. Renald realizing that his family was in danger ran through the city, charming a guard and stealing his horse along with Silva as Soren sprinted with unnatural speed next to them. Arriving at Renald’s home, the three raced through the home until they happened upon a bloody scene, the vampire holding an unconscious Brie. Renald’s father lying lifeless with his throat ripped open on the bed. Renald swearing vengeance upon him only to openly mocked by the vampire. The shopkeeper laughs at the three, while slitting Brie's throat and vanishing into the night. Soren and Renald manage to keep Brie alive long enough for Cordyr to arrive and heal her, but it was far too late for the father.

Cordyr tells of tales of the vanguard and how his favorite idol can raise men from the dead, so the group finds themselves attempting to contact these legendary heroes.

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