The Two Banner War: Part Two

January 21st

Yo dawg we b pirates now

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The Journey as of late...

The party, now a group of 6, has traveled to Demara. Beginning by ship, the adventurers set out upon a 3 month journey to the dead continent. They were met by an ancient and dark foe, the Wordless. With the help of the newly restored Ne’Arel (Nerull), who single-handedly killed all of the Wordless on board, the group was able to escape the ship as it sank. Ne’Arel was able to teleport the entire party to Demara where they visited the apparent ruins of an ancient Demaran city.
To be continued….

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The Hunt for Aelem, Session 2
A dungeon? Yes. A dragon? Probably not.

The party began in Eastport, Azera. After claiming their reward for annihilating the bandit camp, Warden and Gawain rejoined the rest of the party, who purchased rams, received an immediate refund for said rams, and then made off toward the capital, Sköllr. After arriving, they proceeded without delay to the castle, where they spoke with King Zvarahi Beldak II and had considerable fun repeating his title, Val’Shadoste. They were pointed to two locations – the first, the house of the treasurer, Mogir Baern, and the second a mages’ guild founded by Aelem called the Diviners’ Consortium. After receiving their reward for returning both the Altara’s Promise and the head of captain Alyri to Governess Amashi Valadera, they went to the Consortium where they spoke with Augur Troian Vala, the head of the college. He informed the adventurers that he knew where Aelem was, but that before he would tell them the location of the Sentinel, he required four ingredients for an “Elixir of Immortality” which he was too frail to retrieve himself. After using their surplus of precious metals to purchase an equally valuable, far more practical surplus of precious metals, they traveled to the south to enter the Deeps of Kur-Arn, where Augur Troian said they would find the Stone of Kur-Arn, and said cryptically that “they would know it when they saw it”. They entered the dark depths and made an immediate right hand turn (against Gawain’s better judgment) into a room packed with ankhegs, which immediately attacked the adventurers. After slaying the ankhegs while hiding behind Gawain and Pyxidi (whose new-found strength was cause for the death of many sad ankhegs), they made a decision to continue down the large dungeon corridor.

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The Hunt for Stone Cloaks, Session 1

The party, accompanied by Ajani, Aelem, and a newly awakened Bart, left Eastport for the War Camp near Corullon. Upon arrival, Gaeryth Stonecloak was located in the main tent, as expected, and when Ajani entered, Gaeryth moved to confront him, also as expected. After being embarrassingly halted by Aelem, Gaeryth calmed down slightly and listened to Warden as he explained the current situation. After laying down all weapons, the party attempted to convince Gaeryth that it was time for the Sentinels to lay bare the truth about themselves and the Pact, and at the time seemed successful. However, when the truth was revealed about Jim and his ties to Luwan, Gaeryth’s anger overcame him and he attacked with two knives that he had concealed rather than laying them down upon request, throwing the first knife at Aelem (hitting him in the heart) and lunging at “Jim” with the second. Ajani managed to save “Jim” from the initial lunge, and an altercation ensued between Ajani and Gaeryth, culminating in Ajani slamming Gaeryth into the central tent post and opening his throat, killing him. Aelem, mortally wounded, his life force bleeding out into the dirt, required immediate attention to save his life. Fortunately, Warden’s quick thinking and Gawain’s medical expertise, Aelem was spared a slow, painful death. While Aelem was still bleeding, as he was being attended to, two couriers entered the tent and, shocked by what they saw, moved to leave the tent and alert the troops. However, Aelem knocked both of them unconscious and, to avoid information about Gaeryth’s death getting out until after they were well away from the scene, the party opted to take both of the couriers with them, a female Demaran and a male Gnome. Now it is up to the party to find the other Sentinels and convince them to lift their veil of supremacy…

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The Hunt for Stone Cloaks, Session 2
A LICH!? As if he needed to be MORE ancient and powerful.

The party’s first order of business was to leave the camp as quickly as possible, to avoid being framed for a murder they would claim to have not committed. After gathering the limp bodies of Gaeryth and the two couriers that Aelem dispatched, the party left via teleportation. Upon returning to Aelem’s home on the south coast of Azera, the first order of business was burying Gaeryth, which was done as per an ancient Atnuuli custom. The party was then set to begin grilling “Jim” about his connection to Luwan when he voluntarily began talking, first revealing a very important piece of information – Luwan Taridin, the monster responsible for literally every world-shaking catastrophe to date, is a lich (which explains previous speculation as to Luwan’s apparent agelessness). With that massive revelation out of the way, “Jim” contacted Luwan via scrying within earshot of the rest of the party and managed to squeak some additional information out of him; most importantly, the size of his army (600,000 strong, and growing) the generals that have returned to him (Wee Jas, Hextor and Vecna), and his position as head adviser to King Allister Harlon, Sovereign of Royce. At this point, the Demaran courier whom Aelem had previously rendered unconscious awoke and introduced herself as Frea the Sorceress. After spending a few less than savoury moments tied to the side of a ram, she convinced the party to set her free and take her with them. The gnome, Erol, was not so lucky – he didn’t survive his encounter with the tent post, and his body was unceremoniously tossed into the sea. With this new information in mind, the party’s next move was to locate Beric, and the first place of interest was Demara, at the approximate location of their last departure from the empty land. After nearly two months of overland travel, the party finally reached the forest of Rián, entered it, and made their way in what they believed to be the general direction of the settlement they found the first time they were on the Demaran continent. This search led “Jim” to a discarded and bloodied arrow which Ajani determined to be of Atnuuli make, and Aelem led the party on the path of the shooter directly into a clearing containing a small, makeshift shelter, where Beric was found. After hearing a blunt recollection of recent events (courtesy of Aelem), Beric was shockingly cooperative, and when presented with the prospect of breaking the Pact, he agreed. Two plans are now on the table, one necessary, one optional (but highly beneficial).

The first: Remove Luwan from power in Royce, by force if required.

The second: Locate the Master Metallic Dragons and attempt to enhance the Second Firm Legion’s forces with a unit of the noble creatures.

It is now the party’s choice. Let us hope their decision is the right one.

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The Fall, Session 1
The death of DoppelJim.

The party began in a clearing on Demara after having spoken to Beric about possible options. After a bit more discussion, the decision was made to travel to the Valley of Life, both to break the Pact of Neutrality and to inquire as to the locations of any of the Master Metallic Dragons. Aelem informed the party that spells cannot be cast in such a way that they affect the Valley, so the only option was to take a boat. At Aelem’s suggestion, the party teleported to the city of Sotus on the Halo, which proved to be every bit as run down and rag-tag as Aelem described. Ajani took the liberty of “procuring” a boat for the group and taking a brief swim to test the waters, and with that they set sail for the Valley of Life.

Later that evening, Ajani encountered a bit of difficulty opening the door to his cabin. Upon picking the lock and getting inside, a man (presumably the ship’s captain) was found unconscious in the room’s only bed, wineskin in hand and with bottles strewn about. After a morbid brainstorming session involving many possible ill fates for the drunken shipmaster, Aelem tasked himself with removing the fellow from the boat by lifting him, bed and all, and teleporting away. Upon his return, he informed the party that he had left him in a northern Dwarven city, and that he would be in for a surprise when he woke up.

A week into their voyage, they were joined by an unexpected but very welcome guest: Dar’Lomn. As is his nature, he entered quite ceremoniously, and all were glad to see him. After lightening the mood considerably with his spontaneity, he was informed of the plan, to which he grudgingly agreed, despite his demeanor which, as is also his nature, suggested absolute joy at the idea. The party then continued the voyage West.

Upon their arrival in the Valley, they were greeted, as expected, by Gorfell the First Master of the Yellow Cloak of Jarkur. After being all but shoved aside by Beric, he allowed the group passage into the Vali’Akhvel Pelannoni (old tongue; translates directly to highest lords’ cities but is more commonly translated as cities of the gods). The party made the trek up the mountain to the throne room and were met by Valiar, flaunting his power and making his anger evident in his mocking tone and icy glare. He demanded that the Axis be given to him, and he then destroyed it, blinding several in the throne room and causing those present to experience the unshakable feeling that something impossibly huge stirred behind the sky, as though the void around the world were awakening. Valiar then flatly refused to aid the Sentinels and the party, and after being openly defied by Warden and affronted by Gawain’s body language, he sent them from the throne room. Gawain was stripped of all his powers, and “Jim” was less lucky. On 9 September, FoA 201, DoppelJim angered Valiar, and Valiar saw fit to end his life in an avalanche of stone and hate, leaving nothing behind but a messy pulp. After seeing this, Bart Wilhelm, the last party member remaining in the throne room, fled in terror, leaving the mocking King of the Gods behind.

After escaping from the Vali’Akhvel Pelannoni, when they party was just about to begin rowing back to the ship, Kaetar Flame-Hammer, the God of Crafts, left the Valley for the first time since the Pact to meet them. He first informed them that Valiar was not acting himself and would not normally have cast aside the mortal races. He then offered the location of the only Master Dragon whose whereabouts he knew – Kivilna’ak, the Master Red. He cautioned the group, as Kivilna’ak is extremely powerful, and then ripped the blue gem from his belt before informing the group that he was about to return to the throne room and attempt a coup d’état. The party then left frantically, as they were uncertain how the coming battle would affect them if they tarried. After reaching the ship, Aelem teleported them back to his house, where they remained for a few hours before noticing a monstrous, horizon-spanning wave on a collision course with their current location. Aelem frantically gathered the group (and their loyal companion, Bark the Mighty Ember-Foe) and teleported them away. The intended target of this travel is unknown as of yet, but the group found themselves somewhere in a desert which, after magical testing, proved to be the Jarle Wastes. The group is now stranded, with minimal supplies, in a dangerous desert thousands of miles wide, with no way to determine their exact location therein.

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The Fall, Session 2
Aww, sandworms are so IN THE NAME OF KAETAR WHAT IS THAT THING?

The determination was made definitively that the party is, in fact, in the Jarle Wastes. Due to a lack of visible landmarks, there was no way to determine the group’s exact location in the Wastes, and so they simply decided to head West since that is where their goal is located – Royce. After several days, the party encountered Torgnan at his camp, where he was alone. The group learned that he had previously been guarding a caravan traveling through the Wastes, and when asked about their fate, he declined to elaborate (much to the distaste of Ajani, who made his suspicion of Torgnan quite obvious). Not long after meeting Torgnan, just after the western mountains of the Divide came into view, the ground collapsed under Dar’Lomn and Ajani, and a massive sandworm erupted from the sandy earth. The party sprang into action, with Torgnan and Gawain both charging directly at the beast, weapons drawn and battle cries on their lips. The rest of the party hung back and sorely missed either their arcane casting prowess or their ability to sneak up behind creatures. As the worm was first bloodied, it began to thrash violently and another portion of the ground collapsed, taking Aelem and Beric down 30 feet next to a potentially deadly instrument of destruction. Aelem landed on the flat of his sword and snapped it in two. While Aelem successfully grappled with the sand and was able to remain out of harm’s way for a moment, Beric’s handhold gave out and he slid downward on a path to the worm. His left leg was caught underneath the worm’s body and mangled severely, eventually becoming completely detached. Bart informed Aelem of this over the sounds of the pitched battle, and he managed to dig his way under the worm to the other side where Beric lay unconscious from blood loss. While Aelem made a tourniquet out of his cloak, everyone above ground let the worm have it. Gawain, however, was attacked by the beast and swallowed whole. Burning alive in the worm’s acidic digestive tract, Gawain was unable to hack and slash his way out due to his use of a weapon incapable of both hacking and slashing, and he slipped into unconsciousness, certain that he was to die a hero that day. However, Frea felled the monster with a bolt from her crossbow, and Gawain’s limp body was cut from the ruin of the great beast. He was quickly restored to consciousness as Ajani and Dar’Lomn made their way out of the pit they had fallen into. Shortly afterward, with the help of the entire party, Aelem did so as well, hauling an unresponsive Beric from what was nearly his final resting place. The bleeding had largely subsided, but Beric was still pale and unconscious, and Aelem expressed concern that he might not survive the night.

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For the Sake of Royce, Session 1
Suspicions realized.

After a few more long weeks spent hauling a very heavy comatose Beric, the party exited the Jarle Wastes and entered the southern portion of the Divide. As soon as Aelem was able, the party teleported to the edge of the war camp outside Corullon, from which Dar’Lomn leapt through the forest toward the large trade city nearby. The rest of the party, once they caught up to Dar’Lomn, found their way to the smithy owned by William Alder, a blacksmith whom Gawain and Warden had befriended shortly after first meeting Beric. Despite some reservation on Will’s part, the entire amalgam of adventurers was allowed into Will’s home, to stay indefinitely in a guest house nearby (except for Aelem and Beric, who were allowed to remain inside on account of Beric’s condition). Will informed them of Gyles Vastrei, a ranger working for Darean who has closed down the border of Royce (and who happens to live in Corullon as well). He suggested that he be their first target. Gawain, Torgnan, Bart and Frea left the following morning to locate a mirror to plant in the lair of Kivilna’ak, a mission which was, after a bit of “haggling”, ultimately successful. In the meantime, Ceasok, Warden and Ajani went to break into Vastrei’s home in Corullon, in the hopes of unearthing some vital information regarding other allies of Darean.

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For the Sake of Royce, Session 2
In silence we speak.

While Torgnan, Gawain and Bart were off on their mirror-finding mission and just generally bothering Gery the antique shop keeper, Ceasok, Warden and Ajani left to enter the home of Gyles Vastrei, the leader of the rangers who have closed down the border of Royce. The group was nearly intercepted by a guard patrol, which Ajani expertly diverted, and with a couple of spells and some manual dexterity were able to enter Vastrei’s home. However, Warden carelessly stepped inside and tripped a wire, causing him to be hit by a dart which made him feel awfully ill. After thoroughly investigating the bottom floor of the house and not finding any traps, Ceasok and Warden began to climb the stairs, but Warden expertly located another tripwire across the bottom step. After alerting Ceasok, the two deftly bypassed the wire and continued up the stairs into a small observatory-like room with a large table and a single door. Investigation of this door proved inconclusive, but fortunately, Warden decided to go the extra mile and look through the keyhole; on the other side, on a small table, was a crossbow aimed at the doorway and rigged to fire when the door was opened. Ceasok used his magical skill and remotely disarmed the trap, clearing the way for the two to move into what looked like a bedroom. The desk nearby showed evidence of various correspondences, and a single caged pigeon fluttered in a cage by the window restlessly. A single note, rolled up and tied with red ribbon, was discovered on the desk, which read “The Hilt-Breaker sleeps. In silence we speak.”Warden looked over the rest of the desk for traps and discovered that one of the drawers was rigged to ignite when opened. In his attempt to disarm the trap, however, Warden pulled the striker forward, taking the drawer with it and setting the desk ablaze. No papers were salvaged, but a box, apparently made of steel and meant to survive the fire, was recovered from the ash. This was taken back to Will’s house, as the duo made a daring escape out the back window just as the town guards erupted into the main entry hall. After weaving through a multitude of alleys, avoiding the notice both of Corullon’s guard presence and of Vastrei himself, the two returned to Will’s house, and Ajani arrived shortly afterward. The group then opened the lockbox, which contained many copies of a note to the duke of Corullon, stamped with the wax seal of King Allister and claiming that Vastrei’s rangers are acting under his orders, and a heavy gold signet ring bearing the seal in question. The party came to the conclusion that Vastrei has been unlawfully giving orders in Allister’s name. While the mirror-hunters were still on their errand, Warden and Gawain paid a visit to Jalar Kayedin, a shopkeep with whom they had prior dealings, and purchased a one-pound sack of the strongest pipeweed available. Dubbing their new acquisition “devil’s weed”, the two went back to Will’s guest house and effectively hotboxed it. Even the Sentinels were not immune to the sweet, alluring smell of the herb, and were internally compelled to partake. Ne’Arel stole a loaf of bread from Will’s house, and the sun began to set.

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For the Sake of Royce, Session 3
A city in mourning.

Start date: November 13, FoA 201
Torgnan, Ceasok and Bart returned to Will’s guest house after purchasing a multitude of magical objects, only to find it filled with smoke upon opening the door. An evening of shenanigans ensued, resulting in Bart suddenly becoming responsible and hiding Gawain and Warden’s large pipes to prevent further smoking. The next morning, after being curtly informed by Will that the party would have to replace the bread that was eaten, Warden and Gawain walked to the food bazaar in search of a bakery. Offered the choice of a dwarf-run bread stall or a full-fledged bakery with the smells of sweet pastries wafting from an open window, the two made the obvious choice and entered the bakery brimming with anticipation. They were greeted impersonally by a pleasantly plump halfling woman, and purchased half a dozen loaves of freshly baked bread. While Warden ran at a moderate speed back to Will’s house and managed to deliver the bread while it was still warm, Gawain remained at the bakery and purchased four blueberry pastries which, while not oven-hot, were satisfactorily warm.

The two met at the Library of Corullon, the largest library in Royce except that in the capital itself, and inquired about information regarding the northern portion of the Divide. The librarian returned with several volumes; atlases, field manuals, and an old map were all the library had to offer and, after extrapolating the location of the dragon’s lair and reading a handful of suitably terrifying descriptions of a beast in the mountains which they presume to be Kivilna’ak, the two returned to Will’s home.

While the duo was absent, Aelem, Torgnan, Ceasok and Bart teleported to Azera to collect their share of KAGE’s profits. They raked in around 5,000gp, and after collecting their funds they decided to peruse the wares of the local blacksmith. Much to their disappointment, the blacksmith’s forge was cold and the wares were cleaned out. After asking around, they learned that most of the nation’s smiths were enlisted by king Zvarahi Beldak to forge arms and armor for his war on Hrodir Volkrin, a young claimant who was exiled before he could fully inherit his father’s throne. They gathered that the peace was at a breaking point, and that Azera had a few weeks at best before becoming embroiled in the largest-scale war in its history.

With this news in mind, the group returned to Will’s house to find Gawain and Warden already back with the field manuals they had borrowed from the library. After careful deliberation which consisted mostly of arriving immediately at a decision, the party decided that they would investigate the note about the Hilt-Breaker, taking Ne’Arel’s suggestion that it referred to King Valak Hilt-Breaker of Savonia, Royce’s closest ally and a major backer of King Allister should open civil war erupt in Royce. They enlisted Will’s aid in procuring Red and Gold troops’ armor, and once they were equipped, they set off.

Quickly determining that foot travel was not an option, the party went to the local stable to purchase enough horses for their travel. The stable-master was not as lenient as the party hopes in terms of price, and in a tussle with Torgnan he was sucker punched directly into unconsciousness. The party, feeling immensely guilty (or perhaps simply attempting to cover themselves from any investigation), left the agreed-upon amount of coinage on the stable-master’s person along with a note brimming with absolute falsehood. With their new horses in tow, they set off, this time much more prepared.

Upon arriving at the border, the party was immediately questioned about their purpose despite their entirely unmasked affiliation with the Red and Gold Compact. Using a pair of forged letters stamped with the seal of King Allister, they were able to weasel their way through relatively inconspicuously.

After a total of three weeks’ travel, they arrived in Serova, the capital of Savonia. It was obvious that the city was in mourning, and the party entered the nearby tavern, The Jester’s Flask, to gather news. Upon arrival, the barkeep offered ale for 2sp and the party noticed a large, noble-looking man seated at the bar itself. After indirectly attracting his attention, Warden spoke to the man for a few moments, receiving confirmation of the death of King Valak and learning the man’s name – Maerak Tarmikos. The man flatly told Gawain to remove his Red and Gold plate, and when asked why he responded with the fact that, were Gawain indeed a Red and Gold troop, he would be Gawain’s commanding officer. Gawain grudgingly complied. The noble-looking man turned out to be the Red and Gold High Commander, and when asked about Valak’s death, he insincerely said that the king had taken his own life. When his bluff was called, he whispered to the party the words “We can’t talk here”, drained his ale and, very deliberately, walked out.
End Date: December 16, FoA 201

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