Dawn of a New Age

Chapter 19
A date with JUSTICE!!!

Our heroes found themselves locked up in a small cell in Edel Tor, quite unsure what to do next. Part of them felt like they should see this through, and another part felt that escape was the only option. In the end, they decided to see it out, and face whatever charges laid before them. A couple of days after being locked up, Soren was escorted to a separate chamber for questioning. Once inside, his superior from Maedhan's Crossing, Durila Norlyr walked in through the door and sat down across the table. 

Durila listed all of the charges being placed against the group, which included treason, colluding with known traitors, unprovoked murder of government officials, and so on. To which Soren responded by explaining their actions over the course of the last six and a half months. His explanation seemed to appease her, and remove any doubts she had about him and his group. Then she slipped her hand under the table and cast message in his direction. She said that the trial was a farce. That there was a group working for the Order of the Hand that had infiltrated key positions in the Justicars, and were working to undermine their power and lead the country to war with Vellandria; and they were using this trial as a propelling force towards war. Her final advice was to speak as truthfully as possible and she would do everything in her power to free them.

After delivering this information to the rest of the group, they decided to reach out to some of their allies, and request their aid at the upcoming trial. They spent the next few days Sending out to a few trusted allies, most of whom agreed to help however they could, until finally the day of the trial came. They entered the courtroom and noticed three primary figures in the room on balconies above them, it was the Triumvirate, the leaders of Baileforge here to judge over them in the flesh. And after the various introductions, The Shield(Giles Bellamy), began the courtroom proceedings. It was a long process, but the group pleaded their case, and had plenty of testimonials backing them from their various allies. There was one hiccup though, in that Silva kept disrupting the proceedings, and managed to get himself thrown out of the court. 

In the end, the Triumvirate voted in favor of releasing the group from almost all of the charges, they were found guilty of the murder of five Publicani, but in light of the circumstance they were issued a 5,000g fine instead of imprisonment. In addition to that, they were to be branded with a rune that would allow the state to track their movements within all major cities in Balieforge, Silva was given the extra punishment of the brand not allowing him entrance to Edel Tor ever again, thanks to his disruptive behavior. After their eventual release the group was left pondering what to do next.

Silva was camping outside of town, and everyone else stayed for one more night at the tavern.  While eating supper, Soren saw a vision of dark shadowy wings wrapped around a shadowy individual across the room, he and the rest of the group decide to follow this figure, as well as his apparent traveling partner, a young adventuring woman. They eventually got into a chase and followed the pair across town, all the way to The Tombs(the graveyard district) before cornering them in an alley. Cordyr detected that the shady guy was in fact a vampire and began to move in to attack, but the vampire pleaded with him to stop. He claimed that he was a good vampire, that he didn't drink from people, just livestock, and that he never drank to kill. He also claimed the he and his partner were vampire hunters in fact, and that they were on a hunt right now. A zone of truth appeared to confirm his story, and the group reluctantly agreed to accompany and help them on their hunt. They snuck out into one of the nearby grave sites, and hid around the corner of a nearby mausoleum. One of the nearby graves, which looked to be quite recently dug, began to tremor and shake, and a gnarly withered claw of a hand emerged from the soil. Cordyr of course immediately began to charge at the creature, but on his way there was ambushed by a cloud of smoke that formed itself into the shape of a man, or more specifically a vampire!

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Chapter 18
Trouble with Tabaxi

The following morning, our group began to track down Cordyr, their recently missing party member. They set out towards the west, back towards Bastow, as that seemed to be the most likely place for him to go given the recent events. Shel quickly picked up his tracks and they set off after him; after about a day's travel the tracks led them just outside Bastow, to a large boulder sitting near the mountain's edge. After some investigation it became clear that Cordyr was magically hiding himself inside the boulder, and didn't seem to want to come out. Seeing the futility of the situation, Renald drafted a note for Cordyr, letting him know of his importance to the group, and he insisted that he meet them in Ghaya if he still wanted to be a part of the group. They then set off back towards Metzer's, traveling through the night.

Later on the road, the group encountered a Tabaxi that introduced himself as Cato. The tabaxi was coincidentally, also looking for Cordyr. Not fully trusting his intentions, the group simply said that they last saw him near Bastow, but gave no more information than that, and the group continued onward, thinking little of the interaction. Meanwhile, Cordyr was reading the note left behind by Renald, he decided to swallow his pride and rejoin his compatriots. On his way back however, he crossed the path of a suspicious looking Tabaxi; before he knew it he was being levitated 20ft into the air and after taking numerous hits (from what appeared to be arrows but felt like gut punches), Cordyr slipped into unconsciousness. 

Hours later, Silva was tending to the horses outside of the Crescent Isles, when he noticed the Cato walking by, carrying a large sack over his shoulder. Sensing that something was wrong, he approached the Tabaxi and asked what he was carrying; Cato told him to mind his own business, which Silva took as a personal invitation to start kicking his ass. They fought, and Silva was very nearly defeated a few times, but through sheer force of determination, he avoided being levitated and continued his assault on Cato long enough for the Tabaxi to start running away, leaving behind the unconscious (but still living) body of Cordyr.

The next day the group reunited and Cordyr apologized for the whole ordeal. The group had just arranged for a teleportation scroll from lady Cara to get them to the capital city, Edel Tor. They activated the scroll and shortly found themselves in a vast cityscape. They arranged for some rooms at a local inn, and set out to the market district for some shopping, and for Renald to do some investigations into his mother's apparent disappearance. Though after a day of looking about, came up with no real leads. 

Throughout their travels in the city, they noticed the guards and security officers giving them odd looks and distrustful glances. While having a conversation with one of the merchant's guild members, trying to find leads on Renald's mother, the Gnome guild member began to feel uncomfortable and excused himself from the room. A few minutes later he returned with a cadre of armed guards, requesting that the entire group come with them for questioning. The guards escorted them to a Justicar holding facility, where their weapons were confiscated and they were thrown into a small cell with a 4 inch thick steel door. Without any real indication of why, the crew found themselves locked up with no discernible way out.

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Chapter 17
Surprise Visitors

Standing amongst the corpses of the beasts they had just defeated, our adventurers took a moment to catch their breath. During this time Cordyr sent Hufflepuff down one of the various small tunnels leading out of this chamber, and after a couple of minutes he came upon a tunnel that led to a dimly glowing light, just as hufflepuff was approaching though, the tunnel exit began to close in on itself, completely crushing the owl. After summoning his bird once again, Cordyr told the group about what had happened, and the group decided they needed to make their way down somehow.

Just as they were trying to figure out how to squeeze through the small holes in the floor, a large pit suddenly opened up beneath everybody, and everybody but Renald and Shel fell into the hole. Fortunately the drop wasn't too damaging, and those that fell now found themselves staring down a tunnel that lead to that same glowing light that Hufflepuff had seen earlier. The other members of the group tied a couple of ropes down and made their way down the pit. The group followed the tunnel and found themselves in a room surrounded by 6 of the mutated creatures atop 10ft columns, and a more humanoid figure on a 20ft platform at the other end of the room. This figure addressed them and blamed them for killing his children, he didn't move to attack them though; that is until Cordyr began to attack him from below, causing the obedient creatures to move to defend their apparent father.

During the fight, the floors began to fill with a similar mysterious silvery fluid that they transported to Metzer's Seminary as their first quest. The fluid, as it entered the room began to fill in carved runes on the floor, eventually filling up and causing the floor to glow with radiant energy. Periodically through the fight, the leader of these monsters would throw various crystals onto the floor, causing the floor to radiate a powerful energy that drained the life of anybody touching the ground; any dead creature caught in this blast was vaporized, which caused the color of the energy to shift. Eventually Silva managed to crush the leader using his earth moving powers against himself, but that didn't stop the underlings from attempting to throw the crystals onto the floor. After a couple more bodies were absorbed, the last living creature froze in its place, and his flesh began to rip open, out of which stepped a beautiful, naked woman with red skin and the tiniest pair of horns on her head. She identified herself as Fierna, Arch-Devil of the fourth layer of the Nine Hells. Fierna informed the group that they were to leave of their own accord, or she would forcfully remove them, and that they still had some sort of part to play in all of this. Cordyr refused to go, so she forced Silva to drag him away against his will.

A few days later, they had made it back to the Crescent Isles, and were doing some research at Metzer's Arcane Seminary. After spending some time at the library, and having an 'intimate' conversation with the librarian, they went to Ghaya to search for Cordyr who had gone into town for some shopping. They asked around and were somewhat shocked to learn that Cordyr had chartered a boat to the north shore of the lake and had departed towards Bastow. Shaken and confused, the rest of the group prepared to set out to find him, before he got himself killed….or worse.

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Chapter 16
Grin & Bear It

After defeating and unmasking Cosima Farfoot, our group found themselves wondering what to do next. As they were deliberating about their next moves, a few members of the group became aware of a pair of eavesdroppers nearby. They attempted to sneak up on the mysterious duo, but Renald tripped over some crates alerting them to our groups approach. The duo revealed themselves to be Bryseis and Jester, the vengeance seekers that they had previously met in Maedhan’s Crossing. They explained that they had spent some time imprisoned in the Justicar holding facility in Maedhan’s Crossing, but had broken out while being transferred to Edel Tor. That is when they proceeded to Sweetwater, where they continued to hunt anybody they found that had the AM tattoo. This led them to follow Cosima and her riders, where they eventually stumbled upon our adventurers once again. Bryseis extended an invitation to help them eradicate the tattooed group, if they ever found themselves in sweetwater, after which the two of them proceeded on their way.

 

At this point the group decided the next course of action would be to investigate the source of the mysterious creatures that attacked them before in the tavern storeroom. They began the trek up the Tempest mountain path once again, this time a little better equipped for the cold. On their first night on the mountain, they saw a pair of glowing eyes peering at them from a nearby cavern, but it made no advances on them so they simply let the creature be. The next morning they found their way to the Martense mansion at the peak of the pass, and began to explore its long abandoned interior. They didn’t find a whole lot of anything at first, but as they kept exploring they found a few clues here and there. Renald found a journal completely written in Infernal, which nobody in the group could read. They also found various skeletal remains littered throughout the house, as well as the more recent corpse of Otto Jesperson, the Justicar that they travelled with briefly on their first pass through the mountain, and whom they left to his business, thinking he would be just fine on his own.


Through further exploration, they eventually found a secret entrance to a dungeon below the mansion. At the back of the dungeon they found a tunnel that they followed to an open chamber deep in the mountain. As they entered the antechamber, they realized they weren’t alone and they entered into a fight for their lives with the mutated creatures. They quickly dispatched the creatures, but not before taking a few deep wounds themselves.

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Chapter 15
Dust in the Wind

Regrouping after their fight with the strange creatures in the Open Hearth Inn, the group finally began to take a look around the tavern. Renald found a journal belonging to Arler, the proprietor of the Inn, that explained that the townsfolk were forcefully removed from their village by the Publicani. Some of them were conscripted into the Baileforge army, and anybody that couldn't reasonably fight was sent to a refugee camp in Southern Mofrain. As the group was deliberating on their next move, they suddenly became aware that the Inn was being surrounded by someone or something.

Then, as Cordyr was using Hufflepuff to investigate the interlopers, a stray arrow flew out and after narrowly missing Hufflepuff, stuck itself on the front door of the Inn. The arrow was carrying a note that simply read, "Drop your weapons and walk out with your hands up." Hoping that the threateners were reasonable folk, Renald and Silva stepped out and did as told. A female voice yelled at them to ALL come out, they have five minutes to do so or they would be forcibly restrained. Renald told her that he needed to talk it over with them and so they went back inside. Just as the five minutes were up, and the enemies set the building ablaze,Renald used Leomund's Tiny Hut to protect the group, and Soren used illusions to make it appear as if the group died in the fire.

They waited for a couple hours for the fire to subside, and then they started to catch glimpses of figures surround the rubble. As one of the figures approached the illusory bodies, Silva restrained him and knocked him unconscious. Soren used this as an opportunity to get information, so he made himself look like the Orc barbarian and walked out of the rubble to get a better view of the enemies. He walked out and saw three bowmen and one halfling figure with a jeweled mask on and wielding a very ornate golden bow. She walked up to him and started to see through his illusion so when she got close enough, Soren attacked her. At this point everybody jumped into the fray, it was a tough fight and most everyone took some good hits but it wasn't too long before they got the better of their would-be captors and knocked out the halfling leader.

Cordyr walked over to the halfling and removed the jeweled mask, and to his own dismay found that his suspicions were correct. This was Cosima Farfoot, one of the Vanguards of the Forge that had supposedly been missing for the last six months, that he had seen vanish with his own eyes. He had only a few moments to gaze on her unconscious face though, because as he removed the mask her form began to shudder, and soon every part of her was crumbling away into dust or ash and was very quickly blowing away in the wind. Before he knew it, Cordyr found himself kneeling next to an empty pile of clothes and armor, wondering if the Vanguards had truly become evil, or if there was something he didn't know that might clear this whole mess up.

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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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