The Price of Peace

Session XXIV
Dénoument
6/21/429, Thursday

Sir Frederik Kuhlricht returns, with a brand new pair of angelic wings. The party greet and hug their old comrade. They wish to go celebrate with the rest of the city, though Frederik insists that he is here for a singular purpose, though he shall accompany them. Queen Amélie talks to Professor Zionysus and gives him a scroll of greater luminous armor. She tries to return to the Guardians who have gathered, but Horace manages to persuade her to take the evening off and accompany them to the various taverns, in disguise. They all (except Frederik) drink perhaps a bit too much. Amélie succumbs to an endless fit of giggles at the party’s antics, and she accepts when Willow and Horace suggest a sleepover with bacon and waffles in the morning.

That night, Frederick casts neutralize poison on Amélie, which she greatly appreciates. He asks if she’s aware of where she is and what has occurred. She is, and she thanks Frederik for his concern.

6/22/429, Friday

When everyone wakes up in the morning, Willow’s kitchen staff makes an outstanding breakfast. Most of the party are nursing hangovers, and Horace wonders how Amélie is so awake when she had as much as he did. Eventually, they walk her back to the Palace. They agree to set out to finish Taqualik the next day. Zion conjures up more money by selling more found equipment, and they stock up on fiendslayer crystals and wands of orb of electricity and sound for Horace and Dorien, respectively.

6/23/429, Saturday

They meet in the palace courtyard, where about 30 Guardians have gathered, many from outside of the city. Cain Stone has also been summoned from Sanctuary. Amélie аnd Weiss give pep talks. Prince Benoît watches from behind a column, nibbling on a cookie the size of his head. Amélie sees him and hugs him, telling him to listen to Uncle T’Lavios and be a good king for the people while she’s gone. Benoît tells her that he doesn’t want to be king, and Amélie reassures him that she’ll be back soon.

Selenia conjures a flutter of violet butterflies that land on the back of each person’s hand. It glows and fades into the skin, leaving a tattoo. She tells them it’s an insurance policy: should they take wounds that are too grievous, the butterfly will heal them, though only once. She then opens a gate with a sinister landscape on the other side. They bid farewell to anyone left behind and step through.

The landscape is very barren, the sky a dark reddish-black, and to their left, a tower stands majestically on an island surrounded by a river of lava. They approach the bridge to the island, where a lone imp stands guard. He asks them what their purpose is, and Cain tells him that Inquisitor Cain Stone has arrived to destroy his master. The imp conjures a small notepad, flips through some pages, and nods, saying, “Ah, master Taqualik is expecting you. Go ahead.” They proceed across the bridge and enter the wide open double doors to the tower as the majority of the Guardians engage a devil encampment behind the tower.

In the center of the room, a glossy black column extends to top of the room, possibly a support pillar. It has a wet, slimy appearance and trembles ever so slightly. Four stone altars encircle the column, each with what appears to be a human on it. They breathe shallowly as if asleep, though their eyes stare pleadingly at the newcomers. A human-like woman with red eyes, and two small horns protruding just below her hairline smiles at the party and says, “Welcome to Phlegethos.” Zion recognizes her as Fierna, the archduchess of the fourth circle of Hell, or at least an aspect of her. She attempts to coerce Cain into leaving his comrades and joining her for an exciting night in Hell. He refuses and a battle ensues. The men on the altars rise, apparently dominated by her. Dorien sings and fascinates most of them. The aspect of Fierna is defeated handily. The dominated men are freed, and they identify themselves as paladins that were abducted. They are recruited to join the party in the fight.

The column in the center trembles more violently as they reach the second floor. The large room is empty, with no decorations or candles, though the light of Zion’s and Amelie’s luminous armor makes the room quite bright. More stairs lie on the opposite side of the room. As they cross the room, a face seems to form in the column, pushing against the black ooze, until a man tumbles out, black tendrils still clinging to him. It is none other than Kendall Oakes, his face is contorted in anger. Dorien uses whirling blade to throw his falchion at him, but it seems to pass through him. The party realizes it is just an illusion, so they continue on.

At the top floor, they see the large ooze-like mass in the center of the room, reaching the top and spread across the ceiling like jelly, threatening to fall on their heads. A man-like figure with bone white skin and two curling horns in black armor and wide black bat-wings steps out from behind the ooze column, brandishing a scythe. Dorien recognizes him from the legends as Taqualik. He is swathed in a hellish ring of fire and blasts them with an explosion of hellfire. They fight, and eventually Zion uses telekinesis to grapple Taqualik, and multiple stabbings and orbs of electricity later, he is destroyed.

When he falls, the column thrashes violently, and the tower seems about to fall. Portions of the wall fall outward, and the floor beneath the party feels weak. Using mass fly, they leave. Once outside, they quickly realize that the tower wasn’t collapsing, only reforming into something sinister: a 60 foot tall version of the devil they just faced.

The good guys crush this infernal evil. When at last the devil falls, the stone blocks that made up his tower crumble to dust, then are absorbed into a black pit of ooze. the ooze quivers, then attempts to rise to form a black shape with a multitude of tentacles. They all attack and the Golden Star, Silver Star, and Imperial Medallion glow brightly, enveloping the ooze in the white light, then in a brilliant explosion, Taqualik is gone.

The Guardians return with wounds but no casualties. They all go to the gate and return home, and there is much rejoicing.

Epilogue

Wandalynn & Steelhand
Prof. Zalomon
Galenka
Captain Kega
Queen Amélie II
Weiss
Selenia
Cain Stone
Horace
Willow
Zionysus Zindigger
Frederik Kuhlricht
Dorien Arsisen
View
Session XXIII
Battle for Alexia
6/21/429, Thursday

The sounds of marching militiamen and blaring horns fill the besieged city. The party can hear Kega shout, “Come on, you apes! You wanna do paperwork forever?!” Criers run along the major avenues, shouting for available adventurers to proceed to the palace courtyard. The party briefly considers taking the day off, but they comply.

Amélie is passing out assignments to various groups, many of them menial but necessary, such as policing the city and keeping the archers fed and healed up. Professor Zalomon speaks up with an idea: the griffins are coming from the forest, so there is probably someone controlling them there. He notes that the tunnel in his lab to the surface was never completely sealed off, so the teleportation circle should provide a quick route. Weiss says that the reverse could be true, and if the tunnel is discovered, they could get into the city with ease. Willow, Horace, Zion, and Dorien take up the mission. The Guardian Adalia says that she can help seal up the tunnel when they’re done.

They head to the circle and teleport to Zalomon’s lab. They climb to the surface after Adalia stone shapes the wall into a large enough opening. They hear the sounds of leaves rustling, as if something large is flying through them. Willow finds tracks and they follow them to a clearing in the south. Horace scouts ahead and sees a halfling surrounded by four legion devils watching four griffins prepping to take off, holding boulders.

Horace opens with a blast from his wand of fireball. He fires off another before they can act, killing a griffin. The devils don’t seem to mind. Willow and Bubbles take on the devils. Dorien hurls a falchion with whirling blade, wounding some devils and killing the halfling. Zion casts black tentacles to ground the griffins and control some of the devils. The battle is soon over, so they return to the lab. Adalia seals the tunnel with another stone shape, and they teleport back to Alexia.

Overhead, they see a freighter flying from the northeast. Dorien identifies the flag as that of Tipalia. Some colonial allies have arrived early! They land behind Kendall’s army and attack their flank. The party returns to the palace, where Amélie makes plans to send strike teams to take out the catapults while the foot-soldiers are occupied. The party and Adalia make up one team. They head out on a hopper.

Their target is protected by two bearded devils, an erinyes, and a bone devil. There’s no catapult crew; it seems to be a self-operating siege golem. They consider staying in the ship and attacking at a range, but Zion knows that the golem is immune to most magic. They decide to land and disembark. The devils charge: the bearded devils attack Willow while the bone devil sees Zion as a soft target. Adalia uses repel wood on the golem, sending it flying off the ledge. Zion casts dismissal on the erinyes successfully. The devils are quickly defeated, and together they take down the siege golem.

As they begin to head back to Alexia, Kendall and two half-erinyeses teleport onto the battlefield. Kendall seems furious, blasting soldiers as he flies by. Horace mans the ballista mounted on the ship and fires at him, narrowly missing his head. This draws his attention. He blasts the ship with a hellfire blast, ripping a hole in both sides of the hull as the blast tears through it, knocking pieces of wood and cargo off of the ship. The captain insists that she cannae take much more like that.

Zion powers a dispel magic with the Imperial Medallion targeted at Kendall, dispelling all of his buffs. He tumbles to the ground. One of his companions follows him, while the other moves to take on the ship. Adalia casts call lightning storm and a bolt strikes Kendall. Kendall gets to his feet and doubles in size as he casts righteous might. Zion leaps off of the ship, feather falling down as he pulls out a scroll of anti-magic field, then casts it as he moves next to Kendall, shrinking him back down to size. Finally, Pythagoras stings Kendall and he falls asleep.

Both half-erinyeses converge on Zion, though their magic is now useless. One dives with a greatsword and slashes Zion, the other stabs him with a dagger. The rest of the party follows, attacking Kendall while he’s down. One companion picks him up and tries to escape, but as she leaves the anti-magic field, Kendall returns to his larger form, causing her to drop him and lose her balance. Willow stabs Kendall one last time, and the Golden Star flashes with a bright holy light. He gives one last scream, then dies.

In a blind rage, one companion attacks Zion, but misses with both attacks. Adalia moves to protect Zion, taking her next attack. The companions soon fall as well.

The party beheads Kendall and strip his body, taking both with them as the return to the palace. As they arrive, a shaft of violet light fills the courtyard, and a woman in a white and purple gown adorned with butterflies descends, holding a rapier and a crystal apple. Selenia crushes the apple in her hand, and a wave of light washes over the city and beyond, banishing the remaining devils. Horace drops the head of Kendall at her feet. Selenia cheers, while Amélie looks away. Selenia asks to borrow the head, then has the party follow as she speeds to the frontline, holding the head aloft. For added effect, Horace drops Kendall’s naked body as well. Morale breaks and the soldiers either flee or surrender.

They return to the palace and give the good news. The party mentions to Selenia that she looks a little different. She agrees; she is a Goddess once more. She then relates a little story.

About 2000 years ago, she left the company of her cousins, the Three Goddesses, after a dispute over the role they should have regarding mortals. She ended up here on Paixia, wandering aimlessly, living among the people for 20 years until she was discovered by agents of Taqualik, the devil Sheridyn would defeat. He and Monoth, the Old God, had an arrangement: Taqualik had exclusive rights to the souls of his condemned, and Taqualik would guarantee that no other gods would be able to compete for worship on Paixia. Selenia was stepping on toes.

Taqualik’s forces overwhelmed Selenia, but instead of destroying her, he stripped her of her divinity, manifesting it into a crystal orb. She was left to live in these lands for all eternity, powerless to help them. When her cousins learned of this, they dispatched a team of archangels to storm the Hells and reclaim her divinity. They succeeded, but their champion, Guardiana, fell in battle. In time, he would be reincarnated as Sheridyn.

The Goddesses attempted to use this to persuade Selenia to join them, to be worshipped as a Goddess. She declined, and the Goddesses kept Her Divinity in their vault, should she change her mind. Selenia began plotting to reclaim the crystal by storming Sanctuary with a mortal army by leading a revolution. Taqualik anticipated this, and used the revolution to put himself in a position to restore the status quo through the use of his pawn, Kendall Oakes.

Kendall led an assault on Sanctuary the same day the army arrived at Alexia. Selenia was among the human soldiers at Sanctuary, and while they distracted the Guardians and Cain Stone, she entered the vault and reclaimed her divinity. Kendall’s objective was now lost, so he went to Alexia to fight a battle he thought he could win.

Selenia has one favor to ask of the party: as wielders of the legendary weapons, they can destroy Taqualik, once and for all. They benefit by destroying this evil while it is still recovering from its last defeat, and Selenia gets her revenge.

Willow, Horace, and Zion agree. Selenia leaves for a moment, then returns, holding an angelic figure holding a falchion high above his head. Selenia explains that Bahamut gains from this as well: with Taqualik defeated, the seal preventing the dragons from returning to Paixia will be broken. Bahamut sends his best regards and an old friend: Sir Frederik Kuhlricht.

View
Session XXII
Fall
6/13/429, Wednesday

The party sees Galenka’s ship above them and begin flying toward it. However, they soon see figures with black feathered wings on the deck and circling around the ship. They begin to heal their wounds from their last conflict as they see one erinyes dangle a halfling overboard at the end of a rope. She releases the rope, and Horace, who had been fighting on the deck, reaches out to catch the rope. He succeeds but loses his balance, grabbing a life-ring as he falls overboard. He activates the ring and slowly feather falls to the ground. The party count five erinyeses on the ship and turn to go after Horace. The rest of the ship’s crew is thrown overboard.

The ship flies toward the remaining survivors. Willow and Kell realize that Bubbles is still on the ship, so she convinces the rest that they need to go rescue him. They fly toward the ship and enter silently through the cargo bay doors. They hear a barely audible whine coming from behind a crate, and Kell spots a green flipper. He retrieves Bubbles then scouts the rest of the ship, seeing three men and three erinyeses on the deck as the two others patrol the skies.

Dorien attempts to reclaim the vessel by having alter self cast on him to appear like Kendall Oakes, and casts glibness. He enters the scene, demanding to know what they are doing there. The erinyes is unamused by this human, piercing his illusion with true seeing. She nocks an arrow, demanding who this human is. He claims he is Kendall Oakes, and while the men seem confused as to why and how he is on the ship, the erinyes calls his bluff and shoots him with a flaming arrow. The other erinyeses approach and draw their bows, and the first one tells Dorien that he has two seconds to get off the ship. He complies.

Horace looks up and sees this foul villain departing from the ship. He shoots Kendall with his wand of scorching ray, missing with the first ray, but scoring a sneak attack with the second. Dorien quickly dismisses the alter self and mourns the loss of his eyebrows. The party regroups and makes camp for the night as the ship departs toward Timberbrooke.

They wake up later that morning and head out by foot toward Timberbrooke. By mid-afternoon, they smell and see smoke. Fearing the worst, they approach closer to find rows of villagers impaled on javelins, likely the work of bearded devils. Every building is either ablaze or already burned down in the devils’ retaliatory strike. They head to where the caravan was to find it missing, with the Guardian Dietz on the ground, slain. Willow finds wagon tracks; the caravan apparently left in a hurry. They follow the road toward Alexia and catch up to the caravan around sunset. The party ask the leader which side he’s on, and he curses the Colonials and their devil allies. He thanks them for coming along, and they set up camp.

That night, Kell hears a noise coming from the rear wagon. He investigates and sees nothing. He casts detect thoughts and identifies three minds. He calls for them to come out of hiding and leave the wagon, and three men appear as one of them dismisses an invisibility sphere. Kell demands an explanation, and the leader claims that they are spies from Alexia who narrowly escaped the crash. They were stowing away in the caravan because they didn’t know who to trust. Kell does not believe the man, especially when he fails to charm Kell. Kell sounds the alarm and attacks them.

Two of the men move to attack Kell while Willow attacks the third. The third man casts stoneskin on himself. Dorien begins singing to fascinate the intruders, succeeding on two but not the caster. The caster soon moves to the other men and they retreat with a teleport spell.

6/14/429, Thursday, through 6/19/429, Tuesday

The trip is boring and uneventful. The party and Galenka miss the speed of the airships.

6/20/429, Wednesday

They arrive in Alexia, spotting scouts in the watchtowers around the outer wall. They are stopped at the gate and questioned briefly, then allowed in. The driver pays the party for their protection 4000 gp and a wand of see invisibility. They visit the palace to see Amélie. She appears as if she hadn’t slept in at least 24 hours. Weiss and her advisers are busy making plans; the other units of the Colonial army were not stopped, resulting in the loss of the Flying Fortress as devils teleported into the ship, and the armies should arrive tomorrow. Willow takes Weiss aside to inform him of the fate of Dietz and Timberbrooke.

Amélie meets Kell and thanks him for his aid. He tells her about these supposed “spies,” and she confirms that no spies had successfully infiltrated Ligot. She tells them that Kendall’s forces will arrive tomorrow, though Alexia’s colonial allies will not arrive until Friday. They spend the rest of the day preparing.

6/21/429, Thursday

Early in the morning, the army arrives from two directions. Horns blare and war drums pound. Kendall appears above the city, announcing in a voice that booms over much of the city that they demand the abdication of Queen Amélie II and the sovereignty of the colonies. The queen and five Guardians arrive and invite Kendall over for tea. He scoffs at her attempt at diplomacy. Amélie addresses the colonial forces, hoping to convince them not to follow this man who consorts with devils. Kendall mocks her and her Goddesses’ incompetence, and the illusion of him fades as flaming boulders crash into the city wall and a flock of griffins soar out from the forest to drop exploding boulders on the archers.

View
Session XXI
Imminent Invasion
6/11/429, Monday

The party celebrates with the Hunter’s Guild after defeating the assassin devil. Willow’s older brother Dmitri spends time with them and beats Willow in an arm-wrestling contest. They walk home together, coming across a man who stumbles in the street, apparently in pain. Dorien, who is above and beyond the threshold for drunk, investigates, nearly getting bitten as the man transforms into a wolf-like form. Zion uses telekinesis to put the werewolf down, and Pythagoras puts him to sleep. They tie him up and find the city watch. As they turn to go home, they realize Dorien has wandered off.

Willow tracks Dorien to the Elven quarter, where he is being a public nuisance. He is stopped by the watch, who intend to arrest him. Willow persuades them to let her take care of him and they find their way home.

6/12/429, Tuesday

They wake up to a wonderful breakfast prepared by their new kitchen staff. They discuss what to do now, so they head to the palace to see Amélie. In the courtyard, they see what appears to be soldiers-in-training, a peculiar sight for a pacifistic nation. In the palace, advisers and Guardians are running to and fro, and Amélie and Weiss are talking over a table with a map of the region laid out. Weiss tells the party that freighters from the colonies have been spotted crossing over the ocean, and would reach Alexia by the end of the week if that were their target. However, their courses suggest different destinations: trading towns each about a week away from Alexia on foot. Weiss mentions that one of these destinations, Timberbrooke to the north, is protected by his brother, the Guardian Dietz. He says that Dietz had recently contacted him to ask for an escort for a caravan headed to Alexia, and said he’d send the best, having the party in mind. They go over plans to deal with the freighters: the flying fortress would head southeast to deal with the one approaching Ashline, a team would take out a bridge to prevent a force from crossing the river from Oaknell, and the party would see what they can do about the freighter headed to Timberbrooke.

Galenka takes the party on his ship toward the town, informing them the trip will take 8 hours, plus a few to intercept the freighter. They land at Timberbrooke to meet Dietz around 10 PM that night. Dietz is entertaining a guest when they arrive: a young, attractive brunette named Camilla. As soon as Willow enters the house, however, her devil-sense warns her that a devil is present, but she can’t positively identify the source. She tells Dorien, and they investigate the two individually while Zion tells Dietz about magic and abjuration. Willow helps Camilla in the kitchen, and she tells her the story of how she met Dietz: a month ago, her family’s barn was attacked and destroyed by goblins, and Dietz saved her. Dietz tells the same story to Dorien, who had cast detect thoughts, though he is unable to glean any additional information. Zion casts detect magic and sees that an enchantment had been cast on Dietz. He studies Camilla and identifies transmutation and abjuration auras. He excuses himself to the bathroom, then attempts to use the Imperial Medallion to dispel her effects. The abjurations were dispelled, but not the transmutation. He uses more charges and the polymorph effect is lost, revealing a slightly different form with black feathered wings: apparently an erinyes [more specifically, a pleasure devil]. She screams and begs Dietz to protect her, who takes up his longsword and shield.

Camilla charms Dorien while Zion polymorphs Pythagoras into a sphinx. Dietz defends Camilla, deflecting attacks with his shield and attacking Pythagoras. Willow hits Camilla, eventually weakening her damage reduction with the Golden Star. Zion casts grease and Dietz falls to the ground. Dorien hits him with the Silver Star and breaks the enchantment Camilla had placed on Dietz.

Sensing the magical power coming from the house as he wanders by, the elf scout Kell from Teth el Lam enters the house sneakily. Pythagoras sees him and telepathically apprises him of the situation. Camilla summons a pair of chain devils, but Willow, Bubbles, and Kell manage to take her down, and the chain devils retreat. Dietz is shaken and confused. They talk about the freighter, and Dietz says that they were expecting a shipment of supplies from Ligot to go on the caravan. Kell agrees to go with them to sneak aboard the ship and identify its nature, taking it down if they must. They return to Galenka.

Galenka takes the ship closer until they see the freighter. They ask him the best way to take down an airship, and he identifies the the engine room, usually on the deck above the cargo hold, where the alchemical drive acts like a furnace, converting platinum to magical energy. If they can somehow destroy the drive or remove the fuel, the ship will fall like a rock.

Zion dimension doors himself, Dorien, Willow, and Kell into the cargo hold, where they see almost 300 men sleeping, each with a sword and shield close at hand. They also see an erinyes patrolling, currently at the opposite end of the hold. Dorien quickly casts invisibility sphere and Zion uses his last dimension door to take them directly to the engine room, which is guarded by a pair of bearded devils and a red-skinned fiend known as a legion devil, the typical foot soldier of the armies of the hells.

Kell and Dorien use their magic of sound to draw the guards out of the room. Zion uses dispel magic to deactivate the drive for a short while. Noticing the ship begin to descend, an erinyes brings the distracted guards back, seeing the invisible party with her true seeing. She uses unholy blight, and the party is forced to engage as Zion shatters a small hole in the bottom of the magical furnace. He begins to shovel chunks of platinum down the hole, and is caught in the furnace momentarily when it reactivates. He quickly dispels it again and resumes his work. More legion devils enter the room as the erinyes continues to use unholy blight. Zion judges that he has done enough and the ship’s descent is unrecoverable, so he shatters a hole in the wall, preparing to use his scroll of mass fly. Kell leaps at the erinyes, skewering her skull with his spear. Zion casts the spell and exits the vessel, urging the others to follow immediately. Dorien and Willow leave, but Kell is surrounded by legion devils, who very nearly kill him. Zion floats Kell out with a telekinesis spell and Dorien hastily stabilizes the elf. They fly to the ground as the large freighter crashes to the ground, causing a magical explosion that couldn’t possibly leave any survivors.

They notice a small group of men teleport to the ground a distance away from them, and Zion shoots a fireball toward them, felling many of them. They scatter, and the party is left to gaze at the brilliant wreckage.

View
Session XX
Retrieval of the Flying Fortress
6/9/429, Saturday

As the flying fortress passes over the city, Cain Stone and Horace rush to tell the Queen, while Willow and Bubbles put out the fire. Dorien notes the direction of the flight and deduces that their destination is the colony of Glaes, to the southeast. He asks Captain Kega to join them in stopping it, and he agrees. They quickly come up with a plan: get the fastest ship available, pursue, and board. They hurry to the airship tower, and Dorien and Kega use their influence to commandeer the vessel.

The airship captain pushes the ship to its limits, and the manage to close the distance. They leave orders for the cruiser to open fire on the flying fortress should the ship not turn around within half an hour. Zion uses dimension door to get the party to the bridge, using the schematics they found as a guide. They take the Colonial Irregulars by surprise, and Dorien uses lesser geas to compel the pilot to turn the ship around and land. They barricade the doors, and when the Irregular captain tries to enter, Dorien manages to buy time and convince him that they were experiencing technical difficulties. When it becomes apparent that the ship had turned around, the irate captain returns, attempting to break down the door. Zion decides to surprise the captain with an invisible Kega doorstop, casting greater invisibility on the burly half-orc.

When the captain finally breaks the door, he charges into the invisible captain of the guard, who takes the opportunity to attack. Two more Irregulars, one a caster, wait in the lobby, buffing the captain with stoneskin but unable to reach the intruders. The mage attempts to handle the situation with a dose of black tentacles, but Zion quickly dispels it with the Imperial Medallion. They make quick work of the Irregulars, and the flying fortress lands in Alexia with Cain and a dozen city guards waiting to arrest the perpetrators.

The party decides to go to the Blind Flame to relax and celebrate. Zion leaves and heads to the Brass Dragon, intending to win the bar challenge, with a little help from his magic. He succeeds, and the bar erupts into cheers. Zion tries to complete a sixth mug, but falls asleep halfway through. Willow finds him and carries him home. Meanwhile, Dorien informs Wandalynn of what he learned of her husband from Steelhand. She maintains her composure, saying that she suspected as much and had already grieved for her husband, then quietly retires to her room, leaving the bartending to Daphne.

6/10/429, Sunday

The party pays a visit to the Irregulars who were captured the day before. Few of them know anything beyond the immediate plans of “capture this ship and bring it to Glaes.” The pilot mentions rumors that it was to be used in an assault on Sanctuary, while other soldiers were gearing up to storm the mainland in freighters.

They go to the palace to see the Queen, who is chatting with Weiss. Dorien implores her to give the prisoners a fair trial and guarantee their families passage to see it, as a gesture of peace. She agrees, though she doubts that the hostile colonies will change their minds. He also recommends finding out just what the colonies are up to with espionage. She says that such efforts are underway. Weiss tells them that he will have the Guardians in the coastal towns act as advance scouts in case of an invasion. Amélie also recommends that they try to relax while they still can.

They spend the rest of the day in the Blind Flame. Zion returns to the Brass Dragon to collect his prize: a clay jug with a head of a dragon as a spigot and dragon wings as a stopper. The bartender demonstrates its magic: ordinarily, it dispenses ordinary ale, but when the command word is spoken, it dispenses his signature Brass Dragon Valignale, capable of creating a gallon of each per day.

Willow and Bubbles visits the Hunters Guild, which seems to be in a state of panic. She hears that several hunters have been assassinated in their beds over the past week. All of them were pursuing relics for the Queen, though none were successful. Concerned for her guild and brother, she finds Dorien and Zion and tells them the trouble. They visit the guildmaster, Kilff Goldbeard, and they develop a plan to trap the assassins the next night.

6/11/429, Monday

The word is spread that an expedition is heading out to find the Axe of Unbridled Rage the next day. Dorien and three volunteers rest in a house while Willow and a group of hunters stands ready nearby and Zion waits with another group to dimension door in once Dorien signals them with whispering wind. That night, a shadowy figure appears in the house. Dorien and the volunteers leap into action, casting protective spells and daylight. The shadow becomes fully visible, and Dorien identifies it as an Assassin Devil. Willow, sensing the devil’s presence, is already on her way, leaping through a window and lowering the devil’s defenses with the Golden Star. It attacks Willow, making use of its ability to become invisible to sneak attack her. Zion and three rangers with a hate for devils teleport in, dealing substantial damage. Zion readies a dispel magic to prevent the devil’s escape, and Willow finishes it off. The entire guild soon arrives to help, but the threat is gone, so the only other reasonable alternative is to celebrate.

View
Session XIX
T-Minus Two Weeks
6/6/429, Wednesday

The party returns to Dr. Steelhand, who happily invites them to dinner and promises to help talk the governor into allying with Alexia. At dinner, he offers three wand sheaths as a reward, devices he developed from his work in creating his sons. He also gives them wands of displacement and greater invisibility.

Over dinner, Quick makes it a point to mention that he never trusted Kendall in the first place. Heat later asks Crash, “Didn’t Kendall say you would only need to seal the tower for 2 weeks? What’s up with that?” Crash remained silent, avoiding the gazes of the guests. They press him to answer, and he says, “He said that’s when he’s going to ‘kick the Goddesses out.’”

Dorien, having drank excessively, abruptly and tactlessly asks Steelhand about Wandalynn Dewshining’s husband. Steelhand is shocked, and his sons quickly vacate the room. He tells Dorien that he tried to save her husband, Bevan, after he was caught in the fire trap. He tried to replace his mangled limbs with artificial ones, which did not go over well with the Alexian public. He partially succeeded, but Bevan’s mind was gone. He was hardly the same man as before, and in his shame, Steelhand exiled himself to his old home in Tipalia, where he continued his research. Bevan became his first son, Heat, who is unaware of his past self. Dorien calls him a coward for not telling Wandalynn and stumbles out, back to the tavern, where he stays for the night. Steelhand offers lodging in his tower for the rest of the party.

6/7/429, Thursday

In the morning, the party and Steelhand visit governor Douglas Milltall, who explains that the only reason he stalled in pledging their allegiance were rumors that Alexia would not help their troubles. Steelhand explains that they resolved the issue with his tower, which is enough to convince Milltall to sign a note for the Queen. Content, the party returns to Alexia.

6/9/429, Saturday

Once they land in Alexia, they head to the palace to deliver the letter and show off the Golden Star. She is shocked and impressed, and awards them each the Order of the Blue Hawk, consisting of a medal and a magic ring. She then informs them that their old friend Captain Kega was looking for help in cracking a tough case.

They visit Kega, who walks them to the crime scene, explaining that Fhalyassa Gladomain, an elf transmuter at the College, was murdered on Monday. She had multiple slashing wounds and arrow wounds that left scorch marks. The party investigates her home and finds a notebook with schematics for a huge “Flying Fortress”: a new form of airship without propellers, shaped like a bird. They also find an address that they suspect is her off-campus lab, in the warehouse district to the northwest.

As they head toward the warehouse, they hear an explosion from the south. They decide to investigate the explosion, and they find that Kega’s office is on fire! They see a wizard controlling a zombie wyvern and an assassin sneaking around. The party makes quick work of them, and they hear a voice say, “Damned amateurs,” as five lemures appear and attack the city guards. Kega leaps to the ground to assist, and an invisible creature sneaks through the hole in his wall and kills Clayton Anderson, still in his cage. The creature returns outside, revealing himself to be a bone devil.

They hear a rumbling coming from the northwest as they fight the devil. Kega panics due to its fear aura, but the devil is no match for the party. As the broken devil melts back into the nine hells, they see the flying fortress pass overhead…

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Session XVIII
Sons of Steel
6/4/429, Monday

The flight back to Alexia is uneventful. Zion spends the time investigating and polishing the Imperial Medallion and figures out how it works. Once they are back in Alexia, the party goes shopping, then visits the Queen.

Amélie is ecstatic to see the Medallion. She tells them that they are still no closer to finding the Golden Star. Dorien mentions their last meeting, when they talked about Wandalynn Dewshining’s adventuring party, especially Dr. Otikul Steelhand, who currently resides in Tipalia. She says that there are still some colonies that her Guardian diplomats have yet to convince to take a side in this conflict, and Tipalia is one of them. They decide to go there, first picking up Bubbles, Flash, and Wind.

Their route passes through the gnome neighborhood, where they hear screams coming from near the local church. They hurry to investigate and see four golems rampaging down the street. They spot a gnome wizard on a roof, ostensibly controlling them. However, Cain Stone sees that it is merely an illusion.

The party is struck by an unholy blight, sickening Cain. Willow and Cain attack the golems while Dorien breaks a window to rescue the clerics still in the church. Zion flies upward to find the source of the spell, spotting an erinyes hiding on a rooftop. She takes notice of him and hits him with two flaming arrows. Zion retorts by polymorphing into a huge wyvern and charging. The others take the golems down as Zion grabs the erinyes, nearly ripping her apart. She attempts to greater teleport away, but cannot concentrate, and Zion knocks her out.

They tie her up and attempt to interrogate her, but she is uncooperative. She tries to escape, but Zion denies her, and they finish her off. They continue on their way to the Blind Flame to get the metal men, then take Galenka’s ship to Tipalia.

6/6/429, Wednesday

Two days later, they arrive at Tipalia, a cold colony far to the north. They are greeted by some men who inform them that there has been an incident at Steelhand’s tower, and he can be found at the Blinking Cat Tavern.

At the tavern, they find a dwarf sitting alone, drawing on a napkin. He is happy to see his sons again, especially Bubbles, having feared for his life. He tells them that two months ago, Kendall Oakes came to them and promised a great deal of funding in return for Bubbles’s services, and Steelhand now regrets agreeing. During his stay, Kendall spoke at length with his “troubled” son, Crash. And now, two days ago while Steelhand was out, Crash erected a wall of force around the tower, declaring that he was doing “the will of God.” He asks for their help, and the party accepts.

Zion uses dimension door to get the party inside. Their presence triggers an alarm, and three automatons react. Dorien casts invisibility sphere and two of them stop approaching, but the third can still sense them. They open a door to hide, triggering a fire trap, and finding two more automatons inside. Cain disables these two, and Dorien steps outside to cast sound burst to overload the sensors of the other. With this one disabled, Dorien recasts invisibility sphere and they climb to the second floor unimpeded.

On the second floor, they see two more of Steelhand’s sons talking to each other. They hear the names Quick and Heat, and they are wondering what the deal was with that alarm. Cain steps out of the invisibility and announces that he is here on behalf of the Goddesses and their father and would like to negotiate. He convinces them to fetch Crash. Crash approaches, with a whip and rapier at his side. Zion casts detect magic, and notes that their body/armor and left forearms were magical on all of them, Quick had a few magical boomerangs, and Crash’s rapier was overwhelmingly magical.

Crash and Cain talk theology for a little while. Crash calls the Goddesses “Usurpers” of the “One True God,” Monoth. Cain tells him that Monoth was a despicable tyrant who killed those who didn’t worship him, while the Goddesses teach kindness and peace. Crash motions toward Cain’s warhammer, and says, “Isn’t that what you do too?” Cain tells him that his mission is to enlighten. He tells him that without the Goddesses, Dr. Steelhand would never have had a chance to pursue his research and he never would have been created. Cain strikes a nerve with these comments, and Crash retreats upstairs, needing to think this over.

Quick and Heat look at each other, confused. They go to check on Crash, and the party waits. A few minutes later, there are screams and a shout of “Mr. Stone, help us!” The party hurries up the stairs to see Crash on the ground and his brothers staring down Kendall Oakes.

Kendall says, “Not you again,” as Dorien charges him in a rage, singing his dragon song. Kendall blasts him with a brimstone hellfire blast, seriously wounding Dorien. Willow hits Kendall with some arrows while Zion readies the Medallion, Cain moves to attack, Quick hits him with his boomerangs, and Heat misses him with an orb of fire. Crash gets to his feet and starts reciting poetry, inspiring courage in his new allies and firing an explosive missile at Kendall.

Kendall attempts to blast all of them with an eldritch cone, but Zion counters it. They proceed to attack a confused Kendall, who then backs around a corner to regroup, losing another eldritch blast to the Medallion. Cain casts enlarge person on himself and overruns Kendall, knocking him to the ground. Zion polymorphs Dorien into a huge treant, who tramples over Kendall. Kendall angrily fires a quickened maximized hellfire blast at Dorien, who is saved only by Cain’s close wounds spell. Kendall then abandons hope of recovering this situation and plane shifts away.

Crash is bewildered, his faith in Kendall as Monoth’s “prophet” shattered. He dispels the wall of force and says, “I think I owe my father quite the apology,” and thanks Cain and the others. Dorien fumes away, heading to the tavern and ordering enough booze to drown a leviathan. Crash mentions that Kendall charged him with protecting this sword, and now that he sees that Kendall is a slimy bastard, he gives the sword to the party. They are amazed to see that it looks very much like the Silver Star, only… golden.

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Session XVII
The Twin Pyramids
6/3/429, Sunday

Dorien leaves on a fast ship to catch up to the party in the jungle. They explore the pyramid, proceeding to the third floor, where they see a stone door with markings in the language of the ancient civilization from the Senvois ruins. Zion was unable to decipher it, however. Horace scouts ahead down a hallway, and two elven archers hear his approach. They order him to stop, and he refuses, so they attack. Horace tumbles behind one and attacks, and the elf bull rushes Horace onto a pit trap, which he luckily avoids. Two more guards approach from the other hall, flanking the party. They succeed in beating the guards, pushing one down another pit trap.

Dorien charms the fallen elf, who asks his new friend to pull him back up. He says the pit is actually a room on the floor below. They ask him about the door, but he says no one ever opened it before. Dorien checks the room below, which has three levers, one red, one yellow, another orange, and a light glowing blue. He has the rest of the party check the other pits: two are trapped, another is a similar room, with green, blue, and purple levers and an orange light. They give this information to each other and pull the appropriate levers, opening the stone door.

In this chamber, they see a large magical rock with an encrypted message on it. They wonder if the cipher is in the other pyramid, which their charmed friend Glimin says is controlled by Leviathan worshiping elves. He offers to introduce them to his leader, Henken.

They convince Henken that they are also enemies of the Leviathan, and they organize an assault team on the other pyramid together. They lead the party through a secret tunnel, noting another stone door halfway across. They ascend into the second pyramid, and the party convinces the elves to assault the main hall while they sneak around back. Cain joins the fight in the hall.

They head upstairs to the third floor, seeing that the design was nearly identical to the other pyramid. The pits only lead to the hallway below, so they check the second floor. At the end of each wing is a lever. They decide to pull them both simultaneously, averting the traps. The stone door opens, and inside is another rock with the key to decoding the other message. Zion finds that the message is “A circle broken, a circle reunited,” and as he speaks these words, the stone glows and there is a rumbling from below.

As the party returns to the ground floor, they find the Kraken elves were victorious. They return toward the other pyramid together, stopping at the door that was opened in the tunnel. Inside is a man’s shape on a raised platform, who levitates and turns around, revealing himself to be a mind flayer, likely stuck there for an incredibly long time, surviving by entering a hibernation-like sleep. He says, “At last, I’m free!” and the elves enter the room, saying that he was the one in their dreams. Cain casts some buff spells, and the mind flayer grips the amulet around his neck and points at him, dispelling his magic.

Zion blasts the mind flayer with a lightning bolt, dealing a tremendous amount of damage. The elves attack, but Dorien breaks the enchantment on them with the Silver Star, one by one. The mind flayer drops a brown gem, summoning a large earth elemental. The elemental attacks them as the mind flayer tries to charm monster Zion and Horace, failing in both attempts. The party defeats the elemental, and Cain rushes toward the mind flayer, who landed. He attacks Cain with his tentacles, but fails to grab him. The mind flayer soon falls.

Zion claims the Imperial Medallion from the body, as well as a bracers of armor +3 and a cloak of resistance +2. Henken presents Willow with his +1 hunting composite longbow in thanks. The party departs and returns home to Alexia.

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Session XVI
Fallout
6/2/429, Saturday

The airship returns to Alexia just after midnight, and Dorien wakes up soon after they arrive. They return to their house, where Horace is still awake. They explain to him that Frederik was lost in the fight with Kendall and go to bed.

That morning, they sell some of the artifacts from the forest and some extra gear, as well as purchase a few more items. Dorien takes the opportunity to sneak out to the airship tower, where he books a flight on a cruiser toward Sanctuary.

A messenger arrives at the house to tell Dorien that the Queen is back in Alexia, but he is nowhere to be found. The party heads out to the market to try to locate him.

Meanwhile, there is a knock at the door of Dorien’s cabin. An airsailor enters, introducing himself as Isaac. He says that the Goddesses are too weak and won’t bring back Fred. He says he can, for the low, low price of his soul and a small favor: killing Clayton Anderson. He offers the contract and leaves, giving Dorien time to think it over.

The party heads to the palace to see the queen. She is talking to a man sent back from Sanctuary with her: Inquisitor Cain Stone. She introduces him to the party, and they warn her about a possible assault on the Palace by Kendall for the Silver Star. The queen tells them that Cain should be able to assist them. They soon head to their ship to head to the pyramids in the jungle to the far east.

Dorien arrives at Sanctuary and demands that they bring Frederik back. They explain to him that they can’t as he’s not willing, and he’s happy in his afterlife. Dorien demands to see him, and the Goddesses petition Bahamut to allow Frederik’s spirit to visit. Their request is denied, and Dorien is inconsolable. The Goddesses tell him he is being immature and ask him to leave.

Isaac reappears that night in Dorien’s cabin for an answer. The Goddesses words have finally sunk in, and Dorien burns the contract. Isaac vanishes, leaving a business card on the table, should he change his mind.

6/3/429, Sunday

Dorien returns to Alexia and hangs out at the Blind Flame. Meanwhile, the party arrives at the village of Albus, near the jungle. The local guardian greets them introduces them to Simon, a local guide. They set out into the jungle. They spot some abishais and try to hide, but Simon’s chooses poorly, hiding in an assassin vine. They free him and dispatch the abishais.

Simon leads them to an old bridge. Zion and Horace make it across easily, but the old planks fail and collapse when Willow tries to cross. She grabs a rope and swings to safety on the other side. Cain and Simon climb down and swim across.

They get to pyramids, spotting something moving inside. They are ambushed by wild elves. They quickly defeat the elves. They enter another chamber, where they see a statue depicting the Kraken. Horace and Simon fall asleep, and Horace dreams of Kraken encased in ice, swimming alongside aquatic elves. Zion wakes them up with a break enchantment, and the session ends.

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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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