The Price of Peace

Session XV

The Imperial Chase

6/1/429, Friday

Having returned to Alexia, the party sells some loot and buy a new bow for Willow. Horace and Frederik Kuhlricht start a meat cart to sell Leviathan steaks, while Zion finds a poison expert to refine his wyvern poison sacs. Dorien visits the palace, but the Queen is away; Weiss informs him that she left for the Sanctuary and wouldn’t be back until tomorrow afternoon. He shows Weiss the Silver Star, who is very much impressed, and surprised by Dorien’s tale of the Leviathan.

The meet back at the Blind Flame, where Dorien sings a duet with the Silver Star. The Guardian Johann applauds and approaches, wondering where Frederik is. Dorien tells him that he is away, so Johann tells him the news: Louis Candeux has returned to Alexia! He eluded capture, but was last seen near the halfling quarter.

Dorien, Willow, and Zion head to Kega’s office to see Clayton Anderson, former Minister of Finance and current inmate. Dorien interrogates him, but he has no idea what business Candeux would have in the halfling neighborhood.

Zion finds Annabelle and they ask her to show her around the neighborhood, and she directs them to the Melon Key Tavern, a popular place for tourists and visitors. Inside, they ask around, and learn that an odd man appeared that day with a small fellow, left him, and never returned. They find this small fellow standing in the corner: he is wearing a cloak, but his feet appear webbed, like flippers. Zion approaches him and introduces himself, but the flippered fellow is very meek and only says that he thinks he recognizes the name Zion. Willow and Dorien follow, and he identifies them too. They ask about the man who came with him, and he confirms that it was his boss, Louis Candeux. Louis payed his father good money for his services, but the mission, which involved him diving to the bottom of the ocean for a lost item, was canceled. They instead arrived at Alexia, and Louis left him here, telling him to stay put until he returned. He is afraid he might have been abandoned. Willow consoles him, and he goes on to tell how he was always picked on by his brothers because of his size and specialty. They ask him for his name and barely suppress their laughter when he reveals he is Bubbles, brother of Flash and Wind. He also says that he heard Louis’s men, apparently Colonials, talking about an expedition in the forest to the southwest.

Dorien and Zion leave Bubbles to Willow for a minute to discuss this. Zion believes the forest in question is the one near Senvois—near the ruins, the remains of the civilization that supposedly created the Imperial Medallion. Dorien decides that they should leave now before Candeux beats them to the Medallion. They ask Bubbles to come with them.

They hurry to the airship tower, meeting Johann and Frederik along the way. They depart in their ship and enter the forest under the cover of night.

Willow finds some humanoid tracks, but Zion identifies some to be of devilish origin. They follow the tracks into the woods and find two bearded devils and a spined devil guarding a pseudodragon in a bubble. Zion identifies the bubble as an Otiluke’s resilient sphere. They attack and kill the devils and Zion dispels the sphere. The freed pseudodragon identifies himself as Pythagoras, who hasn’t seen Candeux but can take them to the ruins quickly. Zion arranges to have Pythagoras become his familiar.

They find an old crumbling stone wall, which Pythagoras identifies as the former outer wall to the ancient city. They delve deeper and find a nonmagical pendant in some rubble. They also find a gargantuan tree, which Pythagoras says is Verdant, the oldest tree in the forest, and actually a Treant. He is asleep, but Dorien sings in Sylvan to wake him up. They ask him questions about the history, but he isn’t sure of much; he’s been sleeping for centuries. He hasn’t seen any humanoids recently, but he feels an evil presence in his woods. He isn’t sure if the Imperial Medallion is still here.

They continue and find some pictographs on stone slabs that seem to tell the story of an old warrior-king who is given a magical protective amulet. At some point, the amulet failed, and the king had the mages executed, though some escaped to the far east, into a ziggurat in a jungle. Also, they find a +1 defending short sword, which Willow claims, and they kill a pair of fiendish dire wolves.

The eventually reach the center of the city, which is a palace/arena, overgrown with vines and weeds, and the other side of Verdant is visible, broken through the wall. There is still a figure on the throne with a crown, who notices their approach but ignores them. When they address him, he believes them to be ghosts, and sneers at Zion, calling him a mage. This appears to be the mummified ancient warrior-emperor. He further details the story of the Imperial Medallion and confirms that is no longer here. Frederik talks him into letting him put him out of his undying misery. He beheads the mummy and takes the crown, telling him that he will honor it and him.

Before they can leave, a group of Colonial Irregulars and bearded devils arrive, and a man suddenly becomes visible. It is none other than Kendall Oakes! He flies about, and Zion tries to dispel his flight and other spells, but fails. He demands to be told the whereabouts of the Imperial Medallion. Zion tells him that he ate it, and Kendall smirks. He then suggests to Willow that she tell him what she’s learned. She struggles but fails to resist, but a fast acting Zion casts protection from evil on her. Kendall fumes, then tries to get Dorien to reveal the location of the Silver Star. Dorien resists the suggestion, and successfully convinces Kendall that it is safe in Alexia at the palace. Kendall flies twenty feet into the air and suggests that Frederik give him some information. When he refuses, he creates a ball of energy in his hand. When it ignites into flames, Dorien quickly starts singing his dragonsong. Kendall then sends the brimstone eldritch blast toward Frederik, who reels from the damage. Verdant then takes his attack of opportunity, swatting Kendall out of the sky and into the ground at Frederik’s feet.

The Irregulars and devils attack as Kendall gets to his feet, rises, and casts righteous might. He maximized empowered eldritch blasts Verdant, with the sound of wood splintering everywhere. Willow shoots at him with a poisoned arrow but misses. Frederik throws his falchion at Kendall, wounding him. Kendall forms eldritch energy into a brimstone glaive and full attacks Verdant, severely wounding the treant. Verdant replies with a smite evil. Meanwhile, Willow, Johann, Dorien, and Zion combat the humans and devils. Pythagoras stings one and puts him to sleep, and Zion shatters a devil’s glaive. Johann, with a burst of magical energy, gives the party fast healing.

Verdant attacks Kendall once more, but a flash of hellfire erupts and burns Verdant, and the oldest life in the forest is snuffed out. Frederik retrieves his falchion and remains close to Kendall, who seems genuinely concerned for his health. Kendall defensively casts plane shift, and Frederik reaches out and grabs on. In a flash, Kendall and Frederik are gone. The burning treant lights up the night as the rest of the Irregulars are rendered unconscious, one devil killed, and another forced to flee.

Dorien is shocked at the disappearance of his friend, who saved his life on countless occasions. Zion coup de graces one of the sleeping Irregulars, and Dorien ties up and wakes the other, demanding that he tell him where Kendall went. Unable to answer, Dorien slays him. Willow tells him that they should return to Alexia, especially if Kendall believes the Silver Star to be there. Dorien insists that they camp here; if Frederik returns, it will be here, he reasons. Willow tells him that Frederik is gone and they have to get moving, and Johann and Zion agree. Dorien refuses, and Willow draws her sword. She attacks him, hoping to knock him out so he can be carried back to the ship. She hits him three times before he punches back, but after the fourth one, he hits the ground. Johann and Zion shake their heads and help carry their comrade to the ship.

Meanwhile, Frederik Kuhlricht arrives in hell. Kendall is taken aback and shoots a quickened eldritch blast at him. Frederik still stands, and he casts true strike on his blade. Kendall suggests that he drop his sword and consider joining him. Frederik dismisses the notion, and Kendall quickens another eldritch blast, dropping Frederik. Frederik blacks out for a second but regains consciousness thanks to the fast healing and attacks, throwing his falchion to avoid the hellfire shield. Kendall drops to his knee, panting, before a final eldritch blast kills Frederik. His body is returned to the Material Plane, seated on the throne of the forgotten emperor, as Kendall Oakes retreats to recover from his wounds and reformulate his plans.

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