Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Forty-Nine

A Deal is Struck


19 Harvest 508

Early in the evening, a messenger arrives at The Arrow of Lightning for “to the party of Master Ulrich.” It is a summons to the University by Mandreth Kerendal.

At the University, Kerendal seems very excited. He has the party all sit down and has the obelisk on a desk before them.

“This find is exceptional. Trevans and I have been working all day and all of last night, making notes and studying it. Not only is it an intact Aedonii narrative, but it details a particular ritual that is a unique meld of Aedonii and Ysar magics. Exceptional!"

“The narrative itself is focused on an Aedonii princess by the name of Imano-Tai. She was a princess, but also an adventurer and a scholar. She sought not only enlightenment, but transformation. And, according to the narrative, she achieved it. The narrative details how she ‘ascended’ to a heightened form of existence. I translate the actual phrase ‘walking in the halls of the gods.’ Through the use of a ritual that combines Aedonii and Ysar magics, which took place in the Chamber of Harmony in the central temple of the Aedonii city of Andropolae, she was transformed. Inside the chamber is an obelisk known as the Stone of Ascension. Through its use in the ritual, a person could achieve this heightened state.”

“The ritual requires several parts to be complete. However, their descriptions are devilishly vague:

  • Kirirthterrix’s Fire
  • The Heart of the World
  • The Purple Lotus of Kadath
  • The Dead God’s Dark Breath

“All of these requisite parts are used in the final ritual. Now, Kiritherrix is a Draconic name, this much I know. However, I do not know of any of the other parts mentioned. Still, an intriguing find nonetheless. Linguistically, it helps confirm many of my suppositions about the Old High Aedonii.”

Kerendal smiles. “It is an honor to get to study such an object. While I can study further and get more nuance and beauty from the text, this is the gist, as it were, of the narrative.”

“That’s interesting, but is it just a historical accounting or does it give us a path to follow? Does it lead anywhere? Do you know where the city of Andropolae is? Do you have a means for finding more detail on the ritual parts?” Surm asks, looking around at his friends.

“ It gives a detailed accounting of the final ritual, but not how to gather the component parts—it only states that she gathered those four things. Linguistics is my line, but as I said, the first component bears a Draconic name. You might inquire with Master Aervyn Chenwyth. His specialty is dragonology. Perhaps he can give you some insight on that. He’s here at the University, " Kerendal says. " The Heart of the World may refer to an element kept by the dwarves of Khazak-Ur. It is one of their best-kept secrets. Kadath, the source of your purple lotus, is fabled to lie on the Plateau of Leng, in a dark plane that touches ours. I haven’t really given this much study, though. The ‘Dead God’s Dark Breath’ is a mystery to me. The city of Andropolae sat on the site that is now known as Godscar on the other side of the Rift. "

Surm asks, “Are there any ruins of the city left? Without the Stone of Ascension, the rest doesn’t matter.”

Rilka looks about the proceedings, obviously very interested and especially at the mention of Godscar.

Kerendal frowns. “It has been nearly a hundred years since an explorer has traveled so far as Godscar. The creatures beyond the Rift are dangerous, as are the barbarian Barthud tribes. It is a perilous journey that few have wish to undertake. Scholars have notes from the last expedition that ventured there that indicate that some of the buildings in the city were intact."

Savaric notes that the Rift is a miles-long trench, bottom-less in some locations, that cuts its way in a northwestern by southeastern line, neatly bisecting the continent of Zaldara. It is surrounded on both sides by jagged mountains known as The Riftpeaks.

The cause of the Rift has been lost to history. Was it a war between the ancient races? Did the ancestors offend the Old Gods? Was it a natural disaster? All that is known is that the event, known as The Rivening, destroyed civilization as it was known before. The ancient races of the The Ysar and The Aedonii were utterly destroyed, reemerging from the early days of The Scattering as The Saelfsidhedai (Elves) and Humans.

The Rift separates the newly civilized lands of the world from what is now termed the Eastern Wastes—as well as the strange and monstrous creatures that populate that wasted land. However, some creatures have found their way across the Rift to terrorize the new races.

Godscar is a legendary site in the Eastern Wastes that some believe to be the seat of power in the ancient world of the Aedonii and Ysar. It is thought by some to house the secret to the formation of the Rift and may even be the source of the catastrophic event that changed the known world.

To the east of The Rift lies a vast wasteland of desert sands, dry stone, strange weather, and monsters without number. Thought to be the site of whatever mysterious event precipitated The Rivening, the Wastes are home only to hardy barbaric nomads (The Barthud), goblinoid and orcish races, and monsters of endless variety. Occasionally, these creatures will find their way through The Rift and into Zaldara to plague the countryside.

Mõrvar asks, “Could any of these other ingredients, such as the Dead God’s Dark Breath, be an obelisk similar to this? Does this one have a name?”

“Hmmm…well this obelisk does not have a name per se. I translate its title as ‘The Ascension of Imano-Tai,’ but that is simply the title of the narrative. Based on other artifacts I’ve encountered, the Aedonii used obelisks such as this instead of simple clay tablets,” Kerendal says.

Mõrvar brings out a crumpled map and says that they have encountered Aedonii artifacts before. Perhaps they are connected. Surm reminds him that it was a green gemstone, not an obelisk. Kerendal says that he would be interested in seeing any Aedonii artifacts you may have encountered. They were known to use gemstones not only as adornments, but as seals for chambers and as seals for bindings of outsiders.

Savaric asks if Kerendal knows if they (the Aedonii) traveled between planes of existence. Assuming outsider means an elemental or something from a different plane. “Is that possibly what this Imano-Tai did to get to “the hall of the gods?’”

“The ritual doesn’t mention anything about actually traveling to another plane. However, one of the components, the Purple Lotus of Kadath, does lie on another plane, so apparently the Aedonii were capable of such travel," Kerendal says. “However, I believe that ‘walking in the path of the gods’ was more of a poetic flourish.”

“This gemstone attempted to communicate through visions; could that have been a bound outsider?” Surm asks.

“It could, indeed, be some being bound to the stone. It could also be that the stone itself was sentient. Aedonii sorcery is known to be powerful and strange," Kerendal says.

Surm huddles the group for a quick conference, “Are we interested in pursuing this? If so, should we escort Master Kerendal to the first site or just give him Mõrvar’s map?”

Rilka says, “I’m interested in pursuing this obelisk. It sounds like it may take all of our skills to undergo this adventure… but I look forward to the challenge. As far as the first site goes, I was very glad to be done with that place. If we are willing to let Master Kerendal take the map, I say give it to him. It doesn’t sound like that path will lead us any closer to solving the mystery of the obelisk. I say we talk to Master Chenwyth if we decide to continue.”

Mõrvar says “I was thinking that stone might be one of the ingredients….like the Dead God’s Breath or something. Anyway, I’ve been curious to check out the Rift.”

Surm says, “We could talk to Master Chenwyth, but that’s just in regard to a component of the ritual. If we are going to pursue the ingredients, shouldn’t we make sure the city and chamber are even there? Rilka, are you wanting to recreate this ritual?”

Mõrvar thinks it would be good to achieve ascension.

Rilka looks pensive. “I was thinking more along the lines of this being a way to strengthen our reputation and gain more experience as we try to solve the mystery of the obelisk. I am very hesitant to try the ritual on one of us. We don’t know what happened to the Princess after she attempted it. Considering that the entire area is now a barren wasteland, I can’t help but wonder if those two things are related.”

Kerendal indicates that as far as he can tell, the only relation between the obelisk and this gemstone would be that they are both of Aedonii origin.

Kerendal then asks the party if they would be willing to relinquish the obelisk to the University upon their deaths. They agree to do so and Kerendal also agrees to research the obelisk free of charge. Surm also would like to have the services of the University open to them for the purposes of this quest. Kerendal indicates that he would have to speak to the Chancellor about that. His assistant, Trevans, can arrange for a meeting.

After they leave the University, Mõrvar heads to the Fat Hero to see if he can find Beldis. Halvor comes with him. Beldis is not there. Asking about, Mõrvar finds that she joined up with a group calling themselves the Azure Standard and left town four days ago. Rumor has it that they go to Elf lands to explore Ysar ruins, a task set to them by the University. Mõrvar is perturbed and seeks solace in the arms of another woman, but finds none that are interested. He and Halvor head back to Red Wolf Hall and reunite with the rest of the company.

20 Harvest 508

After hanging out at the inn for a few hours, the party receives a summons from Chancellor Valtaer at the University around noon.

They arrive at the offices of the Chancellor and are invited inside. In the office, the Chancellor sits behind a great wooden desk in scholar’s robes while a young, female scribe sits nearby, quill and parchment at the ready. After welcoming them and thanking them for bringing back Master Kerendal, the Chancellor gets down to business regarding the request to have University resources at their disposal for this quest.

He and Surm negotiate various terms for a contract between the party and the University. The negotiations are tense, but amicable. Eventually, the Chancellor allows the Crimson Cord to have use of the University’s resources in relation to the quests associated with the Aedonii obelisk. The obelisk, if placed on display by the University in its collections, is to be designated by a placard as having been discovered by the Crimson Cord. The University is to have exclusive rights to objects of interest from such quests (excluding common gear and coin) for one year. In return, the Crimson Cord is to be given access to research facilities and sages to assist in their obelisk-related endeavors. The University will also provide housing to the Crimson Cord for no more than a month and a day per stay. The contract will be good for 5 years and is renewable and renegotiable. Surm signs the contract as the Crimson Cord’s representative, as drawn up by the scribe.

The party then go to Kerendal and ask him to look into leads on the other ingredients of the ritual detailed on the obelisk. They then go visit Master Chenwyth in the biological wing.

Chenwyth’s office sports a large red dragon head, perfectly preserved, hanging on the wall. There are also many dragon tchotchkes and artifacts strewn about the room. After describing what they’ve found about Kirirthterrix’s Fire. He does, indeed, recognize the name Kirithterrix. It is the name of an ancient red dragon associated with the red Orb of Dragonkind.

Created in a joint effort of Aedonii and Ysar sorcerers back before the Rivening, the Orbs of Dragonkind are legendary artifacts of great power. Since the Rivening, they have been alternately lost to time and claimed by the powerful.

Each of these fabled Orbs contains the essence and personality of an ancient dragon of a different variety (one for each of the major ten different chromatic and metallic dragons). The bearer of an Orb can, as a standard action, dominate a dragon of its particular variety within 500 feet (as dominate monster), the dragon being forced to make a DC 25 Will save to resist. Spell resistance is not useful against this effect. Each Orb of Dragonkind bestows upon the wielder the AC and saving throw bonuses of the dragon within. These values replace whatever values the character would otherwise have, whether they are better or worse. These values cannot be modified by any means short of ridding the character of the Orb. A character possessing an Orb of Dragonkind is immune to the breath weapon—but only the breath weapon—of the dragon variety keyed to the Orb. Finally, a character possessing an Orb can herself use the breath weapon of the dragon in the Orb three times per day.

All Orbs of Dragonkind can be used to communicate verbally and visually with the possessors of the other Orbs. The owner of an Orb knows if there are dragons within 10 miles at all times. For dragons of the Orb’s particular variety, the range is 100 miles. If within 1 mile of a dragon of the Orb’s variety, the wielder can determine the dragon’s exact location and age. The bearer of one of these Orbs earns the enmity of dragonkind forever for profiting by draconic enslavement, even if she later loses the item.

If they want to utilize Kirrithterrix’s fire, this would be the only way.

The Orb disappeared from history until it reappeared in the hands of a Tarsian Sorceress (Eldeshi Rom). She used her power sparingly, but nevertheless, she and the Orb were lost to history once again after she was slain by a party of adventures looking for treasure and glory. The adventurers sold the Orb to the highest bidder, being the King of Leilior (Duncan Ma’Geddes), who later lost it to a rival and then it disappeared again. It appears again in the hands of an Eaceanian pirate (Dunamaer Truewave) who used it to plunder, until she lost it to a privateer (Hengist Weldwyn), who in turn lost it to a shipwreck. It later resurfaces in the hands of a Sianaean noblewoman (Scarlata Salvestri) before once again disappearing into obscurity.

The Orb was lost for a long while until it rematerialized in 403 AT in the hands an Elven renegade by the name of Alundriel. He had gathered up a rag-tag army of elves, humans, half-elves, and half-orcs and stormed the borders of Melnys Vale and Yulania in the name of Elven border expansion. He took the Vale handily, but had more trouble with Yulania. Even with the power of the Orb, he was driven back to the Rift and his army routed.

Alundriel made his final encampment in the southern portion of the Rift, not far from Tower Yenuil in Yulania.

The party is particularly intrigued by the fact that the possessor of one Orb can communicate with another. Perhaps they can use this fact to their advantage in locating the red dragon Orb. In response to that, Chenwyth says that there are rumors—only rumors—that the brass dragon Orb is in the possession of the Temple of Azumazran in Asdari. Also, the white dragon Orb is in the possession of a person known as The Witch of the Teeth or Grundr’s Mother in Jossia. Finally, the green dragon Orb is rumored to be in the possession of the Overlord of Kalimsport.

After making inquiries about Alundriel, Chenwyth refers them to another sage, Cor Talyth, whose expertise is warfare.

Talyth indicates that Alundriel called a truce with the Yulanian forces and was under “house arrest” at his encampment. In 423 AT, Alundriel disappeared with his three lieutenants—along with his Orb. There are various accounts as to whether or not their weapons or equipment disappeared with them.

The party then returns to the office of the Chancellor. They have a debate about what is to be done next—try to contact one of the rumored possessors of an Orb? Go to Tower Yenuil and make inquiries there? Try to find this last encampment? The Chancellor, after being asked, indicates that he could arrange a meeting with the Overlord. This is finally decided to be the best course of action. Perhaps the Overlord will use the Orb on their behalf to contact the possessor of the red dragon Orb. Negotiating with the Overlord will be tricky, the Chancellor warns, as the Overlord is a tough negotiator and ruthless when it comes to defending the city. But he is known to be, primarily, a man of business. If it can be presented as being in his best interests to do so, then perhaps they can get what they need.

The party then leaves the University, after arrangements for their lodging are made, and goes shopping. They also catch Alasir and Mahgnus up on current events.

21 Harvest 508

The party spends the day shopping around Kalimsport. Savaric spends the day earning capital for his tavern by working at some fletching.

They also receive word from the Chancellor that the Overlord will hold audience on the 22nd and that they can see him then.

22 Harvest 508

The next morning, the party is picked up by carriages bearing the University’s seal. With them is Chancellor Valtaer. The carriage takes them to a walled keep on a hill, not far from the University itself. Once they make it through the various guards, and are relieved of their weapons, they are escorted to a reception area in the keep.

In the reception area are a variety of courtiers: humans, dwarves, even elves. The elves are especially haughty and disdainful. Periodically, a name is announced and they are escorted into the main chamber. Finally, after what seems an inordinate amount of time, the party of Chancellor Valtaer is called.

The main chamber is a long hall, at the end of which is a throne. Seated upon the throne is a seasoned man of indeterminate years dressed in fine, if simple, clothing. To the side of the throne is a tall woman dressed in robes with a bird of prey on her shoulder. At each end of the hall are guards. They can also see guards posted about the throne chamber.

Overlord Colyn Voss welcomes the Chancellor and his party and asks how he can be of service. The Chancellor bows toward the Overlord and begins to lay out the situation regarding the Orb of Dragonkind and their search for it. He introduces the Crimson Cord, and emphasizes the service to the City that such a search would be. Surm interrupts as the Chancellor begins to intimate that the Overlord may have such an Orb. He manages to persuade the Overlord to use his resources to discover who may have the red dragon Orb, talking around the fact that they believe he has an Orb for himself. He does so well that the Overlord invites Surm to stay and see some of these resources in action—provided he swear to keep state secrets. Surm indicates that he would be willing to do that.

The rest of the Crimson Cord and the Chancellor are dismissed back into the reception area and Surm remains in the throne room with the Overlord.


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