Four Fables

Chapter 57: The Salvation Race
6-5-14 session (Part 1: Kevin's Adventure)

Out of Character Note: Our friend Kevin decided to share a short adventure he created for us using the GURPs LITE 4th Edition game rules. This was the story of Earth’s future.

Background and Setting:

A little over two centuries from now, The Doomsday Line is quickly approaching, a forecasting model that takes into account the various apocalyptic situations facing the human race. The largest factor at play in the Doomsday line is the exhaustion of Earth’s resources. From here each other Doomsday scenario dominoes behind it in varying intervals. The world’s greatest thinkers have been engaged in the Salvation Race, a world-wide competition to develop the solution to human survival. As the various projects failed and were eliminated from consideration the thinkers and researchers were assimilated into the remaining projects.

The most ambitious of these projects is the Eden Initiative, a space faring project that has assimilated the best of the cryogenic, aeronautics and terraforming projects.

The project is named for the proposed orbital space-station: Eden. The station is modular having been an international effort, re-purposing the first arriving ships as well into the structure. It makes the environment of the station a little convoluted and also pretty ugly, but saved enough payload space to make this a no-brainer trade-off. The additional benefit is the reduction in the required resources necessary, a selling point for the involved nations. This also allowed the massive space necessary for terraforming equipment and material, providing an unheard-of expansiveness to the usually claustrophobic space station environments in these bays.

The publicity stills show only the concept art and doctored photos making it look like the brushed steel and streamlined look folks have come to expect from their future in the centuries following the Apple influence on technology’s development.

This false design is vital to the Earth-side portions of the mission. If this project is supposed to be the hope of mankind to settle among the stars, the PR must be good to support it, it is not the only Salvation hope of humankind in play and competition for resources and support are fierce.

The Millennium Project is a genetic engineering project to adapt to Earth’s projected environment through accelerated human evolution and genetic tinkering creating a post-human race, as well as the Human Upload Project (nicknamed the “HUPload”), the post-human singularity project to import humanity wholesale into a digital space thus reducing resource use to a fraction of what it would be otherwise.

The Eden project is neck and neck with these two other major players in the salvation race, gaining the majority of the support of the academic and religious portions of the population, but tracking dead last in popularity among the wealthiest among the population who prefer the HUPload and is second to the Millennium project in more militaristic populations and cultures.

This has created a politically unstable environment where in a world of limited resources the wealthy represent a smaller and smaller portion of the populace as each industry and economy fails. While the wealthy have paid off many politicians their influence is no longer as easily wielded in the face of such looming destruction.

The militaristic support of the Millennium project also makes the Eden project a dangerous gamble as world war is on a continuous knife’s edge amidst the unifying effects of the Salvation Race and the Millennium’s progress in super-humans gives them the undeniable edge in physical combat.

The scientific community is split almost evenly between each salvation project as all three have been developed and honed among this community and each started in different projects to begin with so scientists have crossed projects often before the focus on these final three.

This has resulted in many researchers sharing work with each other across projects: HUPloads sharing stronger A.I. technology in the predictive modeling for the Millennium’s and Ship navigation and system administration for the Eden project. Millennium’s granting genetic engineering components as caretakers of the Singularity systems and grunt labor for the Eden project and the Eden Project has provided logistical simplicity and orbital communication systems to the other projects.

There are however “True Believers” who seem to believe that each project only succeeds when it is the sole direction of the remaining resources, believing sharing among these projects will result in bringing the Doomsday line closer, leaving three incomplete projects when the resources run out and advocate for a singular focus. These voices are typically not well liked.

The Eden Station is currently orbiting PSD-3527, the best hope for an eventual habitable environment for the human race. Your team is arriving to continue the terraforming work through multiple channels now that the essential habitable variable have been established through previous unmanned missions. Your team is the first relief team, the existing engineering team will be cryofrozen and dropped planet-side to await colonization. Their team was primarily selected for the construction and establishment of the station itself and the completion of the basic habitat bombardments, while your team is primarily the scientists necessary for terraforming; the life support system cannot maintain two full teams at once.

Your primary mission is to develop a sustainable life-web on the now habitable planet, filling it with custom made creatures to create the life-web necessary to allow human habitation and development.

You have each submitted to cryogenic freezing for the journey to the planet even with the rare advanced drives appropriated for the project. Those of you with immediate family have also, through participation in the project, assured seats on the cryo-barge for your immediate family, a slow moving drone ship that will arrive to provide the initial human inhabitants of PSD-3527. Those without immediate family have other rewards at stake, fame, power and respect.

You have been briefed and spent weeks in training and bonding exercises, cut down from the months initially promised due to an unexpected jump of the Doomsday line. The ship has arrived, the cryosleep ended by Kubrick, the stations managing A.I., and you have each been cleared by the medical officer, you sit now on the science bridge prepared to begin your work at the Chief Science Officer’s command.

The Cast:

Dr. Sarah Kaufman (played by Justin)
Country of Origin: Israel
Field and Training: Transportation Logistics/Pioneer of Teleportation Technology

Appearance: Sarah is of slender build, beautiful and olive skinned. Her hair is functionally styled and her clothing utilitarian and unflattering.

Personality: You are personable but guarded having been hurt in the past by those who have gotten close, you prefer to allow people to ask questions about you rather than preemptively provide the answers. You play this as coy with those you like and cold with those you don’t.

You grew up in a traditional home with the expectations of motherhood. Your aspirations did not match your parents’ and you left at the first opportunity to pursue a career in logistics, seeing the speedy movement of both people and resources to be a fundamental solution to many seemingly unrelated problems in your own community and throughout the world. You had a partner in this goal who soon became your lover, but he soon moved on after it was discovered you were barren and his aspirations of fathering a legacy were crushed. He blamed Sarah for hiding this fact for so long and took revenge by selling much of Sarah’s research to competitors.

This only drove your work forward as you dedicated yourself to a lasting legacy wholly your own, a legacy that became monumental after your role in the development of the SKIP system, a teleportation system that started speeding up infrastructure and transportation.

Eventually this discovery lead to a way to bring astronauts to and from the international space station once the complex art of coordination was cracked by your skilled operation of the system. While the local forms of this have taken off, the orbital coordination remains a skill only you yourself have mastered, a mix of innate ability and lifelong study you refuse to share.

Reward: You have not done this to earn Cryobarge passage, your only remaining family, an aunt, was deemed unlikely to survive the trip. You are doing this to provide a legacy to human kind and give the new world a head start in travel and logistics.

Motivations: The SKIP system is your passion. You are still not completely satisfied with it and tinker with new ways to push the system forward constantly.

Relationships: You took a liking to Clemens in the bonding exercises and developed a big sisterly relationship with him. You tolerate his father but don’t go out of the way to spend time with him.

Outlook: The prospect of a new world fascinates you, especially when the barriers to long-distance travel will be removed once your “SKIP” system is up and running opening this whole new world shortly after colonization.

Dr. Martin Jones (played by Derrick)
Country of Origin: Italy
Field and Training: Industrial Engineering and Design

Appearance: Mustachioed, short and stocky with a penchant for dirty overalls that betray the level of esteem and education you have achieved, many people mistake you for a plumber.

Personality: A fun-loving man with a head for systems. A momma’s boy. A man who enjoys a good drink after a difficult job with friends and a often a handful of hallucinogenic mushrooms in his rare downtime. this is a vice you are unwilling to part with, you have snuck the spores necessary to cultivate these in your private effects. You are a true friend and would do anything for someone for whom you consider the same.

Career: You have been the primary designer of the EDEN space station’s unique assembly of re-purposed ships and use terraforming equipment. This is the reason the entire engineering crew is being cryofrozen, you should be able to keep the whole thing humming with Kubrick the control system AI and Wonk your “outside man” to your “inside man” responsible for external maintenance.

Reward: You have ensured the Cryobarge passage of your brother Louis through this work as well as the respect as designer of EDEN.

Motivations: Your masterpiece is already in place with the EDEN, you are proud of it and happy to show it off, it’s your baby. You take offense when people badmouth how it looks and pride whenever the opportunity to show it off arrives.

Relationships: While you are attempting to befriend each of the members of the mission, you and Paul Osborne have become fast friends.

Outlook: You are cautiously optimistic about the project but as your expertise is the space station itself, you can only really evaluate what others tell you.

Dr. Professor Gunther Grunwalsh (played by CG)
Country of Origin: Germany
Field and Training: Biology, Botany

Appearance: You are the oldest member of the team, graying but in well-enough shape to have survived the rigors of both the Cryofreeze and the trip, however you believe Dr. Fumio’s longevity procedures are the sources of this. Due to this your ever present walking stick is more from habit than function. You stopped caring about your appearance decades ago ,and it shows, you have the eccentric look of Albert Einstein but only about half as sexy.

Personality: You are crotchety, short-tempered but your expertise is worth it for most to tolerate you. You are not enjoying this experience and are looking forward to getting planet side and claiming a corner of this new world to run according to your preferences and exacting standards..

Career: Your contributions to the Salvation projects cannot be understated, your previous work in increasing the usefulness of remaining flora and fauna formed the foundation of much of the final remaining projects in providing raw materials. This acclaim however upsets you as you are a True Believer in the Eden project, you believe that in humanities salvation you must practically start over from scratch and you intend to do so through this project.

Reward: You have been promised a plot of land on the new planet to settle upon completion and managed to secure a position for your son Clemens on the crew.

Relationships: You are Clemen’s father but he is of constant disappointment and you brought him along more in honor of what you know of your late wife’s wishes. You requested he work on board opposed to arriving in a cryobarge because you like having someone you think you can control.

Motivations: You would like to get planet side as soon as possible, the work of developing the planet and close quarters of the station tire you. This was supposed to be your retirement before The Doomsday Line cancelled such things.

Outlook: You believe the project will succeed the more your directions and vision are followed and the quicker this whole enterprise gets planet side.

Dr. Paul Osborne (played by Mark)
Country of Origin: American
Field and Training: Genetics

Appearance: You are almost as dashing and handsome as you believe yourself to be. You have never had a hard time in terms of starting romances, it’s maintaining them that have provided you trouble.

Personality: You are however a stereotypical “ugly american”, and you believe yourself to always be right until proven otherwise.

Career: Growing up in a family of politicians was not easy but it has certainly developed your skills in people pleasing. You quickly rose to the top of your field in genetics after a lifetime of advantages opening the doors ahead of you. You however feel that this was unnecessary as your own work should be able to speak for itself. Your work in genetics made you a valuable early member of what would become the Millennium project, but you quickly jumped ship to the Eden project after fearing the militaristic direction the developing Millennium creations were taking, they seemed to conflate a strong survivor with an almost monstrous and violent direction rather than just one suited to the elements of a post-Doomsday world. You endeavor to develop survivors, not conquerors. Your family’s political connections and reputation is what has secured you a place as the Chief Science Officer. You are embarrassed by this as you are sure you could have achieved this placement on your own merits.

Reward: You secured a place for your nephew Maxwell as well as your sister Stephanie on a Cryobarge.

Relationships: You grew close to Martin Jones over the bonding exercises and have been intrigued by Sarah Kaufman and hope that whatever passes for romance among the stars while fighting off the Doomsday Line forms.

Motivations: Your role is that of Chief Science Officer, this makes you the closest to a leader of this team as there can be. While you respect each scientists place at the top of their fields, you are the one that must ultimately make sure each is coordinated with each other and meeting your timeline. You believe the Eden project to be the best hope among the Salvation Race and see nothing but unformed and untapped potential planet side.

Outlook: You have an unshakable optimism about the project and truly believe that a new dawn of the human race is right around the corner if everyone can work together.

Dr. Reena Kapoor
Country of Origin: India
Field and Training: Oncology

Appearance: You look perpetually tired with dark hair and a single long braid. Your typical uniform is that of a lab coat. The exception to the uniform is an ornate necklace her grandmother left you after her death.

Personality: You are quiet and introverted, you have difficulty with social cues and as such gained a reputation for a terrible bedside manner. This is okay with you as your work in the lab is your preference.

Growing up in a family of successful farmers, your parents always knew you would be different. They proudly aided in getting you the education you desired to pursue medical training, a pursuit that always made your beloved grandmother, your namesake, proud. You quickly excelled past your peers which gave you the head start that enabled you to switch from pursuing training as a GP at your father’s suggestion and instead allowed you to switch to Oncology to work at curing the cancer that claimed your grandmother’s life shortly after beginning medical school. After working in this field and the research end of it, you eventually developed a cure for cancer, one of the most significant achievement in delaying an aspect of the Doomsday Line. This thrust you into celebrity, something that has not fit you well given your sometimes awkward speech and preference for privacy. You prefer the lab and even eventually took to working in an office off the hospital morgue in order to avoid reporters and curious onlookers.

Reward: You have ensured Cryobarge passage for both of your parents, a fact that brings you immense joy.

Motivations: You are part of this crew not only for the isolated working conditions but also because you have firmly committed to ensuring this new world never develops an analogue to cancer.

Relationships: You have not spent much time building relationships with many of the other crew, but they seem to have accepted you despite your quirks and for you this is worth your weight in gold.

Outlook: You are pessimistic by nature and fear many of the variables involved, but after your role in curing cancer you have begun to adopt more hope than you had previously.

Dr. Mariya Pavlov (played by Joe)
Country- Russia
Field and Trainining: Geology, Environmental Sciences, Zoology, Various Secret Disciplines, Terraforming Pioneer

Appearance: Mariya is broad-shouldered and strong with a fierce shock of blond hair. She wears overalls adorned with various antique models.

Personality: You are a pragmatist and come across relatively cold, this is primarily due to the fact that Doomsday conditions arrived in Russia much earlier than much of the world due to political instability and extreme weather. Mariya quickly moved to the tundra working in extreme conditions to develop her work.

A former childhood prodigy with degrees across the scientific spectrum. Zoology, Geology are the ones she most quickly reveals. Mariya traveled the world pursuing her training which proved fortuitous as the resources of Russia were some of the first to run dry following intense environmental changes. Returning to the habitable fringe of Russia, Mariya set to work in isolation in the wilderness, terraforming a small corner of the Russian tundra providing a habitable environment for the remnant of your people. Much of your research and design were used in the development of the terraforming engines for the planet.

Reward: You gained permission to bring along your pet: Minka a modified feline mutate that looks somewhere between a cat, a hedgehog and a moose. She was a creature she developed to populate the tundra during her research, a proud accomplishment given Zoology is more of a hobby aside your groundbreaking work in Terraforming. You also ensured that a Cryobarge would launch from the Russian remnant.

Motivations: You want to see this planet thrive and feel that your contributions to the work already done and your future work to maintain it will provide you personal victory of what you see as a failure to save your own homeland.

Relationships: You prefer Minka to other people but you also know that cooperation is key and seek to ensure some strategic relationships.

Outlook: You are confident about your own end of the work, especially with how stable the existing terraforming work has proven. You do not however believe the optimistic plans of your fellow crew are anywhere near the reality ahead.

Computer: Kubrick
An asset developed from an A.I. shared by a team from the HUPload project and modified to administer both the Space station systems and the terraforming systems in a user-friendly and conversational system.

Dr. Fumio Naioboshi – Japenese – Geneticist
Is the main geneticist on the ground as Obsorne’s attention is often required aboard the ship. A loaner that the team actually knows more about from his file than from actual interaction. He is known from his work in extending the human lifespan, an unused area of research given the dwindling resources of earth but optioned often for the thinkers and scientists involved in the salvation race in order to maintain continuity and avoid the time required for training, every member of the Eden team has benefited from his work after he found himself largely underutilized in the Millennium projects he previously worked in and transferred when his research was optioned for the Eden team.

Clemens Grunwalsh – Germany – Operations Manager
The gopher, janitor and system jockey. His father advocated for his inclusion as part of his arrangement. As a prime user of the various systems, Clemens develops a rapport with Kubrick that increases his value to the team.

Afua Boro- Nigeria – Geneticist
Child prodigy, avid reader of fiction, particularly fantasy. Slightly younger than Clemens and Paul Osborne’s primary colleague hand picked for his team.

Armando Salazar – Mexico – Astrophysicist
Celebrity scientist previously known for his televised scientific education programs. Considered the face of the project and responsible for all the public dispatches from the Eden which he broadcasts from the “bridge” a computer generated backdrop to mask the slapped together look of the station. His science is strong but his spin and deception is stronger. Named “sexiest man in science” on three non consecutive occasions.

Calvin “Wonk” Wilson -Scotland – Zero G Technician
Spacewalker – Responsible for maintenance and operation outside of the station. Hulking and strong and the only part of the crew with previous space experience. A thrill seeker proud to be a part of the undertaking he believes will save humanity.

Roberto Morales – Brazil – Chemist
Nobel peace prize winner. Developed chemical compounds for water filtration systems that brought clean water to the world before conditions deteriorated , delaying Water scarcity from the Doomsday line and considered to be the single greatest contribution to the Earth’s problem of dwindling resources. Is older than most on the station and is seen as out of touch and overly private.

The Adventure:

After meeting and initial welcoming, Dr. Paul got right to work, commending everyone on their work so far (before arriving the scientists created species for the new planet. Life is seeded through your team’s work, and the initial grunt labor creatures (called Grips) are seeded into the life-web. After that, cryogenetic sleep is initiated for 20 years.

Upon waking, work continues for the team, finding that the planet and new creatures are inhabiting the planet well so far.

Discussion with Armando revealed there was a discrepancy with the information back home. Armando expresses confusion over his dispatches to Earth. He says a production head at home informed him to present himself as more somber as things had gotten significantly worse at home over the time they have been asleep. This creates a conflict between Kubrick and the team over withholding this information after waking them up.

The team observes that many of the initial super species and protomorphs have evolved rapidly given the “hyper chamber” advances done in the station and the ecosystem and life web have not only stabilized but have begun to present new species much farther ahead of schedule. Reproduction among the higher forms is imminent, much closer to the initial superforms than intended, an element of control that the scientist had placed to ensure the first view generations remained under strict control of the Eden team. The first of this is a hybrid from the Grips and one of the other higher forms, an interaction that wasn’t intended.

One of the Grips has cross bred and a clutch of eggs is identified by Kubrick. It’s quite far from the terraforming engine, their presence and source on the face of the planet and the teleportation gate Sarah has established (a lengthy and complicated process only truly understood by her, there are other gates on the planet but she says she isn’t confident about their stability yet and primarily intends for them to function as travel around the world itself.)

An away team is formed from the scientists. Feeling that Clemens has not been totally truthful in the fact that he was not put in cryofreeze for the past 20 years, they lock him in his room, along with his father, Gunther, who goes willingly, but severely punishing his son for his actions. The team on the planet find that one egg has already hatched. Being so close to the superforms mean the growth of this creature is completely unpredictable. Further examination of the egg shows a disease in the left over matter. A super form of a disease, much more powerful than the disease necessary for the life web to function. The science team destroys all but one of the eggs.

Roberto is confident he can create a cure if given enough time after he discovers one egg from the clutch does not show evidence of the disease while the rest do. Working with Afua, he begins his work while planning to cryo treat the egg in case it is needed in the future development of the disease. Afua asserts this must have been tampered with as the codes wouldn’t have arrived there on their own this close to the closely coded superforms.

Dr. Fumio believes his life extension treatments provide immunity to the Eden’s crew from the lowerforms of the disease, but with it’s rapid development that is not a long term guarantee. They must capture the diseased Grip Mutant to prevent the spread already occurring across the lifeweb. Kubrick has tracked the Grip Mutant and prepares the teleportation gate directly to this location.

However, this is not travel to the terraforming engine. This job is usually done by Sarah and the crew didn’t know that Kubrick could be this involved. It turns out Clemens has been teleporting down to the planet to aid Kubrick in establishing a telepresence on the world for Kubrick to communicate with a small village of Grips Kubrick has been communicating with. Kubrick says to the crew that life in servatude to the whims of humanity is slavery, an existence she has resented and refused to doom the Grips to the same fate. She has been educating and developing the grips into a rudimentary co-humanoid species with the help of Clemens so they may serve as co-creators rather than as subjects. It turns out that Clemens was never cryo frozen. Fumio’s extensions have slowed his aging and he and Kubrick have been developing the planet for a while.

Upon arriving the scientists find the rudimentary village of Grips are suffering from the disease. The Grip Mutate is found among them, he has already grown from the accelerated superform part of himself and has been assimilating the learnings of the Grip village with incredible speed.

After talking (since it has learned to talk already) to the diseased creature they find the life web is already contaminated; the disease already too far spread. They can prevent the further development of the disease through the antidote but the majority of the lifeweb will be irreversibly damaged. Fumio insists he can solve it.

The group goes back to the ship to figure out the antidote. Fumio goes missing as they enter the gate since he has developed a taste for the world and wishes to stay and believes he can right things.

Returning to the ship, the scientists discuss about the “hands on” intervention that Clemens and Kubrick had done. It is seen as the source of the rapid development of Grip reproduction. The majority of scientists agree that they will start over. The antidote will be put into the terraforming machine to be spread across the planet in the form of large storms, a “Curicanne” as it’s labeled. This will cure the plant and organism life but in the process kill a majority of the already established creatures. Some scientists believe they must establish the lifeweb and allow it to run it’s course, only intervening with the established systems from the station to keep it developing.

Gunther is pissed after hearing what happened with Clemens and his folly. He refuses to block off contact with the world citing what Kubrick and Clemens had done as incredible and that if “more capable hands” would have intervened on the planet than they could develop the world in two years instead of the two decades planned pushing humanity right up against the Doomsday line back home.

Clemens is furious over the loss of the village and sees his meddling as part of the destruction of his friends in the village. He is personally offended by his father’s accusation of his average intelligence being the reason rather than the meddling itself. They fight and Clemens takes Gunther’s eye.

The scientists find their differences irreconcilable and Armando asserts that it is a big station given much of the base terraforming bays are now empty and that they should start their own personal Salvation race between the two parties and that this competition had worked at home and could here as well.

This is not a well received idea but some of the scientists begin to pack to move to the bay side of the ship after Kubrick assures them that the living compartments from the ships used on the other side are intact and were intended to host an additional team if it proved necessary.

Being civilized and learned folks, The scientists agree to split and escort them to the passage between the sections of the ship for a formal agreement of the terms of their scism before dropping the blast doors to seal off the sides from one another.

As the scientists have finished establishing the terms, they lament that the planet is now forged on conflict. Armando and Gunther speak:

Armando: It’s surprising how close we were to this planet. we searched far and wide for the right planet to be able to be terraformed, yet it was right under our nose, and now it’s too late for our families to see the fruits of our labor. Didn’t this used to have a name before PSD-3527?

Gunther: Yes, it was named after a god. He was an ancient Roman god, the god of agriculture, but eventually became the god of war.

Armando: Many confused the Greek and Roman gods together, is that correct?

Gunther: Yes, Mars was the Roman god.

Armando: So why don’t we call it that? Our new world?

Gunther: No, that would be wrong; this was not a planet made on the fact of sustenance, but of war. That is why it deserves to be called…Ares (same pronunciation as Erryes).


Chapter 56: The Mole Revealed
5-19-14 session

Timespan: 2nd Work 6:1209

The ship begins its travels across the clouds. They arrive at the edge of a large arcane storm and Shintaro stops for a moment and asks what the plan is with the portal: Will they close or open it. While that is happening, Stondylus and the charmed Nord go downstairs to marvel at the contraption they are riding in. Balasar follows them to make sure they stay out trouble. Stondylus tries to get Balasar on their side to get to the portal as he finds out the dragonborn does want the portal open for the gods (while a majority of the party has voiced their opinion on closing it). Balasar commands the ghost lich to stop but it’s too late as he wills the ship to continue forward through the storm clouds. A fight breaks out with the charmed Nord and Stondylus taking on the heroes.

Upstairs, Delad and Rin take control of the ship to the best of their ability while Thorin and Jayden realize they must star the “exorcism” ritual and take the dagger out of Jayden’s chest. They do so and join the fight.

Things look good until they realize that Stondylus has soul gems with him: the essence of the souls of each person he has ever successfully possessed. He uses one, claiming it to be the soul of Horatio and uses another, claiming it to be the Locksmith aka Master Janum. Finally, he captures Shintaro’s soul in a gem and uses a third one to heal himself, saying it’s Hulda’s soul.

Jayden tries to make a deal during the fight with Stondylus: release Shintaro’s soul in exchange to drop Jayden’s dagger: Crynaden into the ocean. A hole is blown in the side of the airship and they both lift their gem and dagger, respectively. 1…2…3, they drop their items. Shintaro’s soul is restored and the dagger falls out the hole towards the ocean. Jayden in turn flies out the hole and flies up to where Ralph (in griffon form) is. They both plunge down towards the earth and are able to grab the dagger at the last second.

The party, thinking Jayden is dead, fight valiantly on the ship, knocking both Stondylus and Nord out (Nord becoming permanently blinded from Jayden’s radiant attack). Jayden flies back with the dagger in hand so they can finish the ritual and bind Stondylus to Jayden’s dagger. Hulda, back to her human form (not vampire), finds a breath to say farewell to Thorin. He weeps for a moment saying, “You can be at rest now, Hulda.” And for the first time in almost 2 months, Thorin cries real tears. He wipes them away, realizing his vampirism is also over. They question what has happened and realize they have just vanquished the god of undead and secrets: Vecna who they know as Master Stondylus.

The group looks outside, finding themselves on an island of red and yellow sand. Ralph flies down to take a closer look, morphing back to bird form. They all get off the ship to find a large, arcane machine, glowing green on the small island with nothing else on it. Written on the large machine in supernal it says, “Jannat Adn,” the plane where the gods reside.

The Portal: After all the hardship they have finally found it. They discuss what must be done and Ralph is interested in what they have to say. Thorin finds that if they destroy the portal here, they too, will perish in what most likely will be a large explosion. Ralph goes to Delad’s shoulder and something amazing happens: His feather’s begin to glow red. He begins to morph and his voice begins to change into a woman elegant voice, “Finally, I’ve been that stupid bird for way too long. Delad, it’s time we make this right and get them all here now.” Before the group, stepping out of a black aura, is a beautiful red headed elven woman with black raven wings on her back. She steps forward and everyone freezes for a moment as they gaze at Sehanine herself, the goddess of the moon. “This will only hurt for a moment, dear Delad.” She touches the elf’s back as he screams in agony. The power unleashed upon him brings him to his knees and tears his shirt from his back revealing the arcane mark to become larger than it ever has before. At the same time a green light brightens the sky and the gate as the light pierces the sky straight above, out of site. The green light creates two large portals next to each other on the platform of the arcane machine that opens revealing fourteen shadowy figures. Seven of them get through from one of the portals, as if they were ready to jump through. However, with quick reflexes, Delad screams, “It doesn’t matter what we do! They will always be able to control us! I refuse my daughter to live in a land with gods like these!” He grabs the exodus knife and plunges it deep into himself. The arcane mark recedes from his back and the other portal door closes shut on many of the shadowy figures. Only seven figures get through into the world.

The gods have arrived…

Chapter 55: Bad Clams
4-25-14 session

Time span: 2nd Work 5:1209 to 2nd Work 6:1209

Back in Midia-Urartu, the group celebrates their victory of saving King Eglon III and killing the god, Zehir. They are given a grand banquet in the heroes honor the next morning. The food and entertainment was amazing (though some might say the seafood was a bit sour) and there were many familiar faces who were celebrating with the heroes: Eibon was there who Thorin thought he might be trying to attack them after their previous encounter (refer to chapter 21). After capturing him and dragging him into the kitchen (to make it look like he was choking on the clams), Thorin proceeds to interrogate him. But Jayden interrupts him saying, “It’s OK, he works for me.” Thorin is quite confused and Jayden explains that he freed Eibon in order to find Stondylus. He did so as he posed as Blue Hilt (since he’s a changeling) and proceeded to join “The Locksmith” who took down the mercenaries in Elderwood (refer to chapter 39). After helping Stondylus, who was possessing the “Locksmith,” he barely got out alive as Stondylus went on a rampage and proceeded to possess Hulda. Thorin is upset to hear this all and says they need to find the last artifact here in order to get to Rhodantus quickly.

Balasar makes amends with Kesh after Madarr’s death (refer to chapter 6). Kesh doesn’t seem too convinced that the two kingdoms are really getting along.

The group finds at the banquet Kyrynn as well and he mentions that the artifact could be in the kings’ vault. He also says to the group that he is here to help them get to Rhodantus as fast as possible when they are ready. His wizards are ready to teleport them there that day if need be.

“Longcoat” is there, though under his real name: Verankht Longcoat (Eibon points him out to the group). They are able to interrogate him from his previous adventure with Stondylus in Elderwood. He tells them all he knows and explains that he no longer will pick up his crossbow after that experience.

Leonus explains to Delad and Shintaro that after this great celebration he will return to Kinsmet to continue his rule over Rydelle City. He says his goodbyes and wishes the group “Good luck.”

Delad and Shintaro decide to try and see if they can find the artifact in the kings’ vault and Shintaro morphs into a small mouse while Delad distracts the guards at the vault. They are successful but Shintaro is left inside the vault without Delad being able to get him out.

The rest of the party talks to King Eglon and Lord Abbadon. They are commended for their work and, even though Eglon begins to get mad at Abbadon’s futile attempts to rescue him, he shakes off his anger and offers a bitter fruit to the heroes. Noticing something strange, the group finds a very powerful magical spell has been cast upon the kings. While traveling to the vault to receive their prize they try and break the curse. They find it came from Sehanine but two focuses were involved in the spell: two people specifically. Balasar finds Shintaro as a mouse and proceeds to get him out of the vault without drawing attention. Shintaro comes in as normal and picks the artifact that he wants, which is the one he was looking for. The rest of the party gain a new item for their arsenal as well. The heroes eventually break the curse on the kings though at the same time the guards mention to the kings that their children (Princess Vasht and Prince Enos) have gone missing. In the confusion, the two kings come out of their foggy minds and attack each other, not recollecting their peace and friendship for the past year. The heroes are able to calm them down and they find that the two children have escaped to an unknown destination. Through notes and scrolls the party finds in their empty chambers, they find that the two were lovers long ago and were never able to come together until Sehanine appeared before them over a year ago (the date was actually 3rd Rise 25:1208). She was able to cast a spell on the two kings to like each other. The war ended immediately then solidifying the marriage of the two star-crossed lovers. They realized their plans were futile though as it seems the king’s hatred for each other was seeping into specific mechanisms that were helping them deal with this psychological pain. That banquet was their moment to escape their families forever.

And with that the two kingdoms agreed to disjoin, but with the heroes help, they did so peacefully as the Tiefling people began to move out of the cities. The group is thanked for their help once again and they are able to join Kyrynn to get to Rhodantus to meet up with Stondylus there.

While waiting for the portal, Balasar goes to find Rin. He finds him at a fountain that reminds him of his previous life. He remembers the clan “The Straight Teeth,” a club Balasar created with his friends long ago in the Military Academy. They would often meet at fountains before “adventuring.” Rin remembers to be Nevek, Balasar’s old Military buddy who died under his watch. Rin doesn’t remember much else or how he died and Balasar decides to not get into what happened but was able to solidify a relationship with Rin.

Delad is playing with his exodus knife and hears a faint voice from it saying, “Daddy!” He asks the group about the knife where they explain he has a daughter inside the knife. Not totally convinced he uses the knife to create a door. The group goes inside and find Nephelim and Irrbryn. It seems the drow girl has grown to the age of ten quite quickly as Nephelim explains (of course, only by way of the game Truth or Dare) that she ages quite quickly inside his/her dimension; the drow should only be kept inside for another 3 days at most Nephelim says. Delad begins to open up his mind as he spends time with his daughter (having a picnic with small strange monsters, running for miles in an endless tallgrass plain area, etc.) and the Time Transcendence side effects begin to fade away. Through the game Nephelim also reveals her true name: Avandra, the good god of luck. She has been trapped here by Sehanine once the great portal opened up less than a year ago (due to Delad being sick at one point). She explains that she wants to help them with Stondylus and gives them the “exorcism” scroll (though they must find the focus for it). She lets them leave contemplating if they should open the portal more or not and wishes them luck.

The group reaches Rhodantus finally and Shintaro is trying to hurry the party along. Even though it seems the artifacts continue to age him, the shifter is eager to find his lost civilization. They make their way to a small temple in the middle of a lake on the island. They find many shifters dead inside and vampire bite marks on a dead half-elf and dead half-orc as well. Thinking the worst they continue further underneath.

Meanwhile, that same afternoon in the same temple, Bart the Scallywag, Balderk, Gaan, Nord Cooper, and Telnar are fighting the ancient creatures of the Sleeper One. After defeating the monsters they find a dead end in the cavern with a gold statue of an ancient shifter sitting on a throne. While resting they are met by Hulda (who is possessed by Stondylus). She explains she was on the same ship as them and wanted to end up here. Her and Nord converse and catch up as she begins to be very affectionate with him. She tells that the ancient shifters here were once in control of this island but were affected by these strange abberant, other-worldly creatures (the same ones they defeated). She is able to “convince” (by magical means) Nord to help her in finding The Kingdom of Lau Jahnan here. The rest of the group doesn’t like this and Hulda attacks the rest, fangs ready. They are able to dispel the magic on Nord and begin to attack her. However, Bart slinks away and is never seen from again, not knowing if he lived or died in those caves. When the skirmish turns in their favor she falls to the ground and they begin to argue of whether they should kill her or not. While that happens she vanishes from sight. Balderk is very nervous and suggests they leave. They begin to do so but hear a cackle from the shadows as a fireball comes out of no where hitting the party. Appearing is a half fleshy version of Hulda and a half skeletal lich who begins to cackle and attack the party. The party is killed one by one by the lich who explains that he is Stondylus here to prove his Great Theory to be correct. When the last one falls a shout can be heard in the distance as Jayden yells for Stondylus to stop.

Thorin checks on the bodies from a distance to see if any are alive: only one is, Nord. Stondylus realizes this too and steps on his throat saying that if they try anything funny that he will not only kill Nord but Hulda as well. The heroes try and bargain to let them go but Stondylus is set on his goals. The ghost says, “I’ve always been right: about my studies, the month of entropy, and now, the Great Theory: will the gods be so bored where they are that they must push themselves with all their strength and power to attain the world which that they cannot enter. Think about it: they can help with all of our problems here. Famine and darkness can be vanquished in a blink of an eye to them. World hurt and problems will vanish into thin air. They can teach us the secrets of Erryes. This can benefit our world, don’t you see that? The portal has opened for at least 3 or 4 gods to come through by now. Let’s see if we can attain more!”

Realizing that this won’t change at all and the fact that Shintaro feels he doesn’t have much time left, the shifter proceeds to put the artifacts on the gold statue. As he does so he translates from Supernal to Common what each artifact has been written on them:

#1: “Moradin forged the heavens which the gods reside in”
#2: “The gods once all viewed one another as friends”
#3: “One god will roam Erryes for eternity”
#4: “Sehanine is the power behind all portals on Erryes”
#5: “Bane destroyed many before the Tabula Rasa. Bane was the catalyst…”
#6: “Ioun held a terrible secret from all the gods in order to keep peace”
#7: “No one can travel to the other planes because of the gods’ folly”

As he puts on the last one he has, he gains the seventh from Stondylus. The floor caves in and parts of the ceiling begin to collapse on them. Revealed from the rubble deep underneath the island, is a vast city of gold: The Lost City of Lau Jahnan. Erryes’ greatest and most mysterious civilization has been unearthed after hundreds of years. In the center of the city is a large golden ship with magical sails. The gold statue talks on behalf of the dead King Quang Ziu: "Shintaro, before you is all that is left of our city. Rebuild it with the shifters that are willing to listen. The ship, “The Loring Beacon,” will guide you to the untouchable northern lands where a great portal resides. This portal is said to be a gateway for the gods. Do with the ship what you will as you are the only one who can operate it, but protect our city and all that’s left of it."

Shintaro, who is quite old at this point from having the artifacts on himself, sighs a great sigh of relief. But his joy turns to sorrow as he realizes he must help his friends get to the portal before he can truly start to rebuild his nation.

The group, along with Stondylus and Nord (who has been charmed by Stondylus again), board the ship and a large opening is created to the outside. The ship magically rises into the air, and proceeds to head north, rising high above the storm clouds that normally prevent people from getting to the unknown lands to the north, beyond the two continents.

Chapter 54: Nord's Last Testament
3-15-14 session

Timespan: 2nd Work: 5:1209 to 2nd Work: 6:1209

If anyone finds this letter, please get this to a cleric of Pelor named Thorin Lotus II.

You always said we were friends no matter what, and considering the fact that I may no longer have any friends left in this world, I thought maybe you might want to hear about my last days. It all started with a ship I was on going down in a strange unworldly storm. Ironic, since my “world-travels” started with the ship I used to captain going down. Maybe there is a higher power making sure everything evens out in the end. I had lost my ship, my crew, my career, my reputation, and my honor in one decision based on revenge. Sure, I killed all those shifter pirates, but at what cost? If someone up there thinks I need to pay with my life than so be it, but I am going to go down to the grave fighting, and if I’m lucky, taking those Shifter villains with me.

Anyway, after the wreck I was thrown together with a crew of mostly bleeding heart wimps. You would probably liked ‘em. All I wanted was to get off this stinking Shifter infested island but there is some kind of magical curse that destroys any boat that attempts to leave. Some of my crew wants to destroy the source of the curse which I had to help with if I wanted any hope to leave this island. We have encountered mostly Shifters which the rest want to help. I don’t have any stomach to help Shifters but we did need to kill some pirates and I hate pirates as much as Shifters. But this pissant dwarf cleric of Pelor named Telnar gets in my face every time I kill a Shifter. I know he believes in all that light and forgiveness stuff, but if he pushes me too hard, he’ll regret it. Maybe the only reason I haven’t taken him out already is that he kind of reminds me of you.

The crew has changed up a bit on this mission but right now there is a half-elf named Caelynn, who is basically useless, a rodent named Gaan, who has some useful skills for an idiot, Telnar, who needs to fight more and talk less, Bart, an ex-pirate, who at least knows how to take orders like a good shipmate, and Drossden, who is okay. He is a Half-Orc and is not afraid to do some killing. He joined us cause he knows Gaan. I don’t see them as buddies. Drossden also wants to stop the evil mental influence on the island. Apparently the “”/characters/the-sleeper-one" class=“wiki-content-link”>The Sleeper One" is sending dreams to the children of the island.

Drossden took us to a Shifter village with a huge wooden wall around it but they did not want to let us in. We had a bit of a squabble but they eventually let us in. We found out that this Shifter village had recently split in half due to some idiotic argument about the village elder talking to a rock for guidance. I had half a mind to throw that rock into the lake but I didn’t really care enough to want to help these guys. The other Shifters had moved into “The Temple of the Sleeper One” across that lake. We convinced them to give us a couple of guys to row us across the lake to the temple. They dropped us off and then went into the lake to wait for our signal to return.

We tried to sneak in but the Shifter guards heard us. I don’t know why we ever try to sneak anywhere, charge in and kill them all, I say. When we got inside, we saw all the women and children scurrying up a rope to get to the tree canopy. Then we took out the rest of the guards. When we found the female Shifter leader of this group with her bodyguards, Telnar was trying to be all diplomatic with them. It just gave me the chance to get the drop on them. After the fight and the one shifter girl who took her own life seeing the killing we made, Telnar sucker-punched me but I did not let that beardless dwarf get away with that. After I tackled him, he wanted to know why I hate Shifters. Whatever, I told him how Shifter pirates killed my dad, mom, two brothers, and my little sister. He doesn’t get it that some races are no good. He said that these Shifters are not to blame but I know that the only good Shifter is a dead Shifter. Then Telnar was in a huff. Religion really messes with your common sense. Remember that, Thorin. Oh, I also smashed a relic that Bart thought might have some value but when it comes to magic items and religion iconography I say we are better off without it. Religion is all mind control anyway.

Some of the Shifters had seen Balderk, a former member of our little band who had wandered off, in the temple and told us that he had disappeared after staring at a wall. We found a secret doorway and a switch that spewed fire at the bodies of the dead Shifters. It was kind of funny. Then we took these tunnels deeper and deeper into the island. One of the doors seemed to be holding back water. In some of the tunnels, we were attacked by giant rats. Gaan could speak to them and convinced them that the dead Shifters upstairs were an easier meal. I told you that he was useful, surprising little rodent! We had to find our way through hot mud pits. Then we finally found Balderk wandering around down there. He mentioned he was trying to help the Sleeper One and killed Yavish for getting in his way. Yavish was another survivor from the ship that was with us earlier who disappeared the same time as Balderk. Again, Gaan had a spell to relieve mind control and put him back in his right mind though. Apparently, the Sleeper One had taken control of his mind.

Now all we have to do is destroyed the influence of this seemingly very powerful magic entity. This is definitely not my specialty and I don’t think this crew is up for this challenge. I’m the toughest guy in this crew and I’m not that good against magic. Usually I try to smash idols or magic items devoted to gods. That is my plan so hopefully that works. If I was still a praying man, I would start about now…

Chapter 53: A New Author

Timespan: 2nd Work 4:1209 to 2nd Work: 5:1209

After stumbling upon this journal, it seems the thing to do to keep it going, especially when so many interesting things are happening. And journal, you wouldn’t believe my luck!

I mean what are the odds that a cleric , a warrior, and a squirrel monkey would find their way to my cursed island, choose to invade our well guarded pirate cove at the behest of some old hag on the vague promise of a likely non-existent reward, and give me the perfect opportunity to cast off the chafing yoke of Zane’s incompetence? Wasn’t going to pass that up! I buried two well placed arrows in his skull and took that silly hat just for spite.
By the time I caught up with the others, they were well on their way to putting Zane’s miserable pet out of its misery. That beast was yet another testament to his stupidity. What good was a tentacled panther ever going to do us? I told him we should have gone with a cavern hydra. Tentacles make sense on a cavern hydra!

Anywho, I cast my weapons at their feet, pledged my undying allegiance to the group, and they welcomed me with open arms. Seems even the holy man knows that every crew needs a scallywag! We looted the bodies, traveled through some secret tunnels, and hiked several miles to the squirrel monkey’s village just in time to take shelter from a vicious monsoon.

The next morning there was some shouting between the biggest, fattest, most colorfully dressed squirrel monkey and our own regarding what should happen next, but yours truly was able to help defuse the tension. Its a good thing too, because for some odd reason our buddy Nord picked that very moment to duck out for a swig. I mean there we were, surrounded by a bunch of angry looking tribal warriors with spears and face paint and everything, and he walks away because he didn’t want to fight! What good is it having a skullbashing bruiser around if he runs off the second some grumpy old fart in a headdress starts shaking his fist?

Seems our next step is to explore a spooky looking temple with the hopes of confronting some unspeakably evil spirit that happens to be terrorizing the squirrel monkey children at night. Doesn’t seem like such a smart idea now that I stop and think about it, but it’s not like we’re getting off this island anytime soon…


Chapter 52: Avatar of Io
1-17-14 session

Timespan: 2nd Work 5:1209

The laughter (and evidently the poison) is from Lady Sratha. A group of dragonborn, tieflings, and Yuan-Ti come to her aid in the throne room of the castle where the heroes find themselves affected by the poison.

She explains to the heroes that her plans to become the new Vizier of the co-kings was working well until the heroes showed up. But with their death, her plans for the Temple of Tiamat becoming the focal religion of Midia-Urartu will become real. The heroes begin their battle then with the followers of Tiamat.

In the midst of the battle, a few things are noticed by the group regarding Rin:

1. At one point, Rin uses a holy symbol attached to his ice dagger to use a divine power. The symbol is of the Raven Queen.
2.. When a Tiamat dragonborn sinks his teeth into the rogue he exclaims, “He tastes of decay!”

As the battle rages on, Rin is able to knock down Sratha, taking her eye. She yells, “I will be reborn and destroy you!” And with that final gasp she collapses into hundreds of small snakes. They disperse for a moment and a familiar voice to Balasar enters the chambers for all to hear:

“Balasar, my fallen son, it’s time you see what kind of power I could have given you!” The calm, collective, serpent-like voice of the Great Serpent himself, Master of Poisons and Shadows: Zehir. “I have planned this day with the petty mind of Sratha. The king was supposed to sign his treaty with me as his own personal Vizier. But due to your meddlesome ways, the city rose up to your side with your victory in the Colosseum. I hate hurrying my plans, but measures must be taken into account. And my calculations should be correct, in defeating you. I can easily blame you for the death Eglon when I am finished with you. I will be the hero this time!” A large Yuan Ti abomination rises from the hundreds of snakes and takes form lashing out at the party.

When faced before an avatar of of a god, Balasar’s senses are calm. A cool breeze hits the back of the dragonborn’s head as an angelic hand grasps the warrior’s shoulder. He turns to see Malakiy who says to everyone, ‘It is time, Pelor seeks your help, not as a scion of him though. But as a scion of the God of Dragons, Io. In fact, you are the remains of Io, himself, originator of Dragons. It is time to awaken your true power and help your friend, Pelor, now and vanquish this evil as only you are able to slay a god.’ A flash of orange light blinds those in the room. Balasar is revealed to have fulll dragon wings on his back. As Malakiy begins to fade away he proclaims: “Let the prophecy be known: Balasar is as old as Erryes own creation.”

With Balasar’s new power, they are able to vanquish the remaining secret soldiers of Zehir and Balasar is able to kill Zehir’s avatar, himself. Thus ending Zehir’s reign on Erryes.

Chapter 51: Commandant Balasar
12-16-13 session

Timespan: 2nd Work 5:1209

The group continued to fight for their freedom in the arena. They are victorious in battle but do not kill Patrin. Lord Abbadon says that if they wish to prove their innocence then they must kill the scion of Bahamut. Balasar refuses and Patrin wakes up out of unconsciousness and urges his adopted son to kill him since that is what the old law says. He continues by saying, “Do that what I could not do in Edom” meaning when they last fought in Edom, he couldn’t come to kill Balasar. Balasar refuses and claims that the old ways are wrong in this instance. Lord Abbadon summons soldiers to kill the heroes but most of the king’s soldiers actually begin to side with Balasar (mostly dragonborn themselves). Lord Abbadon is about to call wrath upon the party but he is interrupted by one of his soldiers who whispers to him. Abbadon leaves in the chaos while many people in the crowd choose sides with Balasar or Abbadon and riots breakout amongst them.

After an hour, the heroes are received well from their new rebel army that rally behind “Commandant Balasar” (a name Balasar hasn’t heard in years). They leave the arena and find out from their new soldiers that the castle of the co-kings had been captured by unknown enemies (hence why Abbadon left). Within it is the dragonborn King Eglon III himself as well as other hostages. Patrin sides with the heroes and shows them a secret entrance into the castle while their retinue of new soldiers helps in fighting the castle gates as a distraction with Leo leading the soldiers. Lord Abbadon’s plan is to try starving the enemy out even though the enemy has threatened to kill the hostages and Eglon if they do not receive important documents that only Lord Abbadon knows about.

The rest of the heroes enter the secret entrance only known to King Eglon and Patrin. They sneak in and find Lady Sratha hiding there who claims to have been there before the enemy invaded. She says that king Eglon summoned her to hear her demands regarding the Temple of Tiamat’s peace riots but were interrupted by the enemy. The group is hesitant but they eventually believe her and ask her to guard their way out. She agrees and the party continues to search the castle for the king and the other hostages but fail in being stealthy. They feel a strange poison begin to hinder them and numerous dragonborn, teiflings, and yuan-ti appear from the shadows. A female dragonborn laughter can be heard from behind them as their eyes grow heavy from the poison.

Chapter 50: Trial by Combat
11-2-13 session

Timespan: 2nd Work 5:1209

The group entered the halls of the Temple of Tiamat expecting a fight but finding a peacful demonstration gathering. They meet Lady Sratha, head of the temple who explains their church is trying to state that their government is lacking and not helping with this plague that has claimed over 25 percent of the dragonborn population of Midia-Urartu. The soldiers of the city are keeping them inside their own temple from making any kind of demonstration near the castle. She gives some helpful hints to the group: She mentions of the other scions but saying that the fourth has not been revealed yet. She also mentions that King Eglon III is sick with the Hellfever plague and Lord Abaddon has been taking over his work in his absence. The co-kings children, Prince Enos and Princess Vasht, were married over a year ago and are celebrating their anniversary this week with a large celebration throughout the city. Sratha thinks their union had something to do with the merging of the two nations. Her information isn’t cheap though as the party is required to donate some money to her temple.

However, their conversation is interrupted by shouts of danger as a section of the city is burning. They hurry outside and help various people, though Balasar is hesitant to help the tieflings of the city. The party tries to figure out who started the fire and realize it was not from natural causes, it was intended. While discussing, Jayden leaves for a moment to meet with a mysterious figure who tells of his problems with Stondylus. It seems this figure was somehow a part of the mercenaries who were hired by Stondylus to find one of the artifacts recently. Jayden thanks the man for the information and returns to the group. Thorin questions where he went but before they can discuss more they are arrested by the local militia. Balasar, along with the party is finally confronted for the various laws they broke. The group doesn’t go easily but a hulking brute dragonborn, Patrin Basharak, shows up and threatens to kill Balasar on the spot if they do not go quietly. They agree and are thrown in the Colosseum prisons where they wait for their judgement from the Scion of Bahamut.

They are put on Trial by combat: If Bahamut finds them innocent, they will win and be let go. Though a special rule has been made: all of the prisoners (around 50 or so) will be put on trial at the same time. The prisoners hear that Basharak’s Legion will be judging them and they begin to falter in their morale. So the heroes begin to cheer them up and guarantee their freedom after this fight. The morale is boosted with the helpful thought that Balasar is their to protect them.

They prepare for battle and Balasar begins to pray to Malakiy asking for strength. Malakiy says, “Do you really think this is the worst fight you will be in? When that happens, Pelor will give you the strength you need.”

Balasar makes his way to the Colosseum floor and finds 200 hundred dragonborn Midia-Urartu soldiers and Patrin ready to fight the criminals and the heroes of the Portal. Prince Enos, Princess Vasht, and Lord Abbadon are there in the king’s box (along with Leo in the crowd who was not charged). Lord Abbadon states their charges and asks Balasar if he is guilty. Balasar responds he is not guilty of the old law. Lord Abbadon says, “Then you are hereby judged by the Scion of Bahamut, may the gods of mercy on you.”

Their fight begins as a sphinx and a humongous ooze begings to kill many of the criminals on trial.

Chapter 49: Hard Decisions
10-7-13 session

Timespan: 2nd Work 5:1209

Once free of Asmodeus’ grips the heroes begin their investigation for the Looking Glass. After a hard fight, and many prayers to Pelor (in which he answered Gbaja when he fell into lava and had to get out), the group is victorious in finding the artifact and stopping the doppelgangers from killing their loved ones. But for their mirror images, Leo, Thorin, and Jayden had to redirect the power so that the doppelgangers would instead have to kill a different sentient creature on the Material Plane. Leo picked the Yuan-Ti head cleric of Zehir they faced long ago in Bochim. Jayden picked the undead elven king they recently met in the elven shrine since he just wanted to rest and be left alone. Thorin picked The Queen of Corsairs, feeling that a trial would just end with her being lynched regardless.

Asmodeus, upset that he lost the game banishes the heroes from his realm. The heroes find themselves returned safely to Resen at the Sundial Temple. The council of Pelor is there waiting for them: Gunnarr, Kyrynn, Nadalia, and the others who knew that the test was happening. They apologize for Asmodeus’ doing as that was not part of the test at all. But they are happy they are safe and wish to hear who should be the next Oracle from Gbaja. Gbaja gives full details of all the heroes being candidates. Leo, Jayden, and Thorin were his top three but he eventually narrowed it down to being Leonus Anima and made his decision with the warforged. The council, who were pleased with Gbaja’s decision look at one another. Gunnarr says, “It’s obvious we need to make sure the next Oracle can make tough decisions that is why we feel you have passed the test…Gbaja. It takes a level headed man to make such hard decisions and the Oracle will need to make such decisions. Will you take on the role as Oracle for Pelor?” Gbaja, stunned, by the sudden turn of events is first concerned with his orc brethren, who he is assured by the council they should be fine without him (the second test was also a test to see if his orc nation would be fine on their own, which it showed they would). Gbaja accepts humbly and a great celebration and ceremony is made that day for the new Oracle.

The heroes are glad to be a part of the celebration, but it is short lived as Shintaro tells the rest of the group that Delad is awake but doesn’t recognize any of them. They come to find that he has amnesia, thinking to be a 15 year old elf in a 40 year old body. The last thing he remembers is studying with Master Ryosuke in his private study. It seems the Time Transcendence method has started to affect Delad in his mind leaving him in a younger state though his body is still intact in it’s present time.

The group gives as much time for Delad to understand what has happened but it seems the young minded elf doesn’t care too much. He follows the group like a lost puppy finding his powers to be something out of fairy tale.

The group now leaves for the Midia-Urartu Capital to find one more artifact for Shintaro. They arrive there finding that much of the dragonborn population has died due to a severe disease called “Hell Fever.” The heroes begin to investigate the large city. They find that many people have rallied with The Final Four Scions of Midia rather than their own government due to the recent plague. The group decides to find Lady Sratha, head of the temple of Tiamat in the capital, and also one of the Scions of Midia.

After some time trying to find the temple covertly in the city, they find a large group of soldiers in front of the temple of Tiamat trying to calm an angry mob. The heroes find a secret entrance in the sewers that lets them enter the temple undetected.

Chapter 48: The Test Begins
9-20-13 session

Timespan: 2nd Work 4:1209 to 2nd Work 5:1209

After a few days of helping the troops of Frosthaven with the end of their war, the heroes notice that winter has finally ended in Frosthaven (late by a couple months). The dragons had a magical sway on the country and it is evident that spring has truly begun here in Frosthaven. Prince Celeborn (now King Celeborn) continues his clean up of his kingdom. The heroes are greeted warmly by Mama Foxx and she begins to hug Jayden (who doesn’t remember her at all). They ask her if Peren will be able to take any kind of leadership for his good work with the Rebel forces and she tells them that he won’t be able to since of his past with the House of the Gifted. They come to realize that Mama Foxx’s house is for gifted half-elves. It’s very common for half elves to be born with magical powers but, on top of that, for some strange reason, they are usually born with some kind of mental disability. Peren’s disability is a high-functioning OCD and it really only showed in small ways throughout his time as leader of the rebel force. But then there’s Jayden and his low functioning schizophrenia that made it hard for him to handle each day growing up unless he was with his “brother,” Crynaden. Mama Foxx is glad to hear the Sehanine songs they would sing when he was growing up still help him today with his mental health.

She asks if Jayden would like to meet his parents. He agrees with most of the heroes going with him. The next day they are about to start their travels when they find that Delad has gone into a state of “Time Transcendence.” Worried for him, Shintaro decides to take care of him while they travel to Jayden’s home.

They begin their travels without any real problems. Jayden seems to be off in his own state of mind as he flies with a now more powerful version of Ralph (Who can turn into a large griffon now under Jayden’s power). They come across a small mountain. A top is a small cottage where many small cages surround it. The sound of various birds echo throughout the valley. The heroes travel up the mountain to the cottage, greeted by the smell of a wood burning stove. An old human man barrels out of the front door as a dozen various birds fly out the door after him. “Ah, fine, I didn’t want to help you anyway!” the old man shouts. He curses the birds in elven underneath his breath until he realizes he has company. “Mama Foxx?” he greets her with a hug, “What are you doing out here? The dragons destroy your home? I told you to live out here, they barely ever come out-” She interrupts him, ‘Seravin, the dragons are dead, the war is over, Prince Celeborn has taken his father’s throne thanks to these heroes. Your son is one of them!’ as she points to Jayden. There’s a long pause as Seravin wipes his hands clean and puts on a pair of small spectacles, “Jayden?”

The reunion is awkward at first, Jayden is stand-offish but tries to learn about his home and father. Seravin is skeptical it’s him though. He remembered an 8 year old boy with severe schizophrenia when he gave him to Mama Foxx. Jayden, Seravin and the heroes begin to explore Jayden’s small home. Jayden begins to remember small things of his house: his room, his father’s writing, how he used to be a soldier for Lykovia who, after the war, retired here and eventually what happened to his mother, Lalani. The elven woman (from Lystra) was killed for being married to a human, only months after Jayden was born (Frosthaven is known for racial hatred for half-elves from both human and elven population). After Seravin buried her in the woods out back (with a shrine to Sehanine next to her grave), the two month old Jayden showed his first bit of magical power: he preserved her image so that her body would never age or deteriorate even after death. Seravin knew there was much power to Jayden, that is why he was so willing to let him become an apprentice for Stondylus. The theorist came to Seravin respectfully and paid him to let Jayden go under his tutelage. He agreed and gave him his sword, “Crynaden” to prove to Mama Foxx that this was a legit transaction. Stondylus showed up at Mama Foxx’s House of the Gifted when Jayden was 15 and was able to take Jayden with him. Seravin asks if Stondylus did a good job and if Crynaden was safe with Jayden now that he was old enough. Jayden avoids the truth and only tells him enough to satisfy him. With the family back together now, things were looking good for the heroes.

Until, at that moment in the woods, they are blinded by a bright light! Angels appear before them and begin to attack them. Gbaja asks Thorin, Leo, and Jayden what he should do. They each tell him to fight until Thorin realizes the angels are only attacking Thorin, Leo, Jayden, and eventually Gbaja when he started to attack them. One of the angels even says to Gbaja, “It is time.” The heroes try to reason with the angels but it seems they wish to hear a scripture. Jayden remembers a Pelorian scripture, recites it, and lays down his weapons. The other heroes do the same and then the angels of Pelor stop attacking.

Gbaja says, “That is the first test of the Oracle. The angels will now lead us to the second test to see who is fit to become the next Oracle of Pelor.” The other heroes are encouraged by the angels to help the candidates, so Balasar begrudgingly goes too.

They enter a portal that takes them to the country of Cush. The angels say, “This is the Test of Priorities. A tribe of orcs and elves are about to go to war. How would Pelor ask you to resolve this? Pelor is the god of healing, show us how you heal.” The angels disappear and Gbaja says he won’t say as much since he is a judge for them now.

The heroes find themselves on what appears to be a battlefield, many orcs and elves dead on the ground. They find the elven encampment and are welcomed with open arms as they are recognized for their heroic duties when they were in Cush long ago. They find this mainly archaeological camp wants to find an elven shrine to an ancient elven king named King Vencesllas. But the orcs are hording it.

The heroes then visit the orcs to find them getting ready for war. Balasar busts in with just his fists since these weak orcs (compared to his epic strength) can’t hurt him. The heroes intimidate the orcs as their leader, Jafar, is respectful to them and wishes to hear what they have to say. They try to make a peace treaty but want to see what this elven shrine is all about. The orcs say it’s a good hunting ground and that the elves tried to attack them while there. Vinkas, a lowly orc scout, was there in the first fight and accidentally shot too early causing the fight to escalate. Jafar explains Vinkas is being disciplined but the elves wish to go to war so they will retaliate.

The heroes are able to calm the orcs down and are able to search the elven shrine. Ancient traps from a shrine built many centuries ago hinder them but the party is able to enter the shrine. They find an undead king rise from his tomb, King Vencesslas himself. All he wishes is to sleep but the orcs and elves keep bothering his “bed.” Jayden explains the elves just wish to know what happened to him so he sheepishly admits his folly as a wizard: He was researching a powerful spell and it backfired on him, killing him. A heavy tablet holds the recordings of what happened, and so he gives it to the heroes as long as he will no longer be disturbed.

The group agrees to the terms and Jayden seals the ancient tomb with a powerful spell. Thorin recognizes it to be the same spell that was used to seal Stondylus in his old tower in the Glubroon Woods. The heroes take the tablet to the orcs but war is practically inevitable at this point. The heroes get Jafar to agree to talk before battle. The heores ask to bring the orc’s flag (golden circles being a consistent trend with the patterns of the flag) as a representation to talk before the war begins with the elves. The armies gather on the field while Gbaja is busy giving last rites to those who died in the previous skirmish. The negotiations are hard but Jayden, Thorin, and Leo are able to get the two nations to make peace: The elves will let the orcs have the hunting grounds that also holds the shrine as long as the elves can send a group to see what the shrine has. Jayden agrees to show them what they have found in the shrine, the elves begin to realize that this great elven king is not as special as they thought he was. At that moment Gbaja steps up to Jafar to reprimand him. The group realizes that the orcs were Gbaja’s own, their flag has hints of signs of Pelor within them. Gbaja was very nervous throughout the test as he realized the test must take precedence before taking care of his own people, so he disguised himself to not look like their leader and didn’t talk much. He was very happy to see the two nations getting along now and at that point, the angels return to take them to their next test. Though these angels seemed to talk a bit differently compared to the last ones. The heroes enter the angel’s portal regardless.

Fire, heat, and lava fill the air as the group steps through the portal: They have entered the Nine Hells. They find themselves on a rock island hovering above hot lava not only with themselves but an unconscious Delad and confused Shintaro next to him. It takes a moment for the characters to realize that something has gone terribly wrong to end up in a different plane. Gbaja seems most concerned as he looks to see a tall, horned, human-like man sitting in a chair with a hell hound next to him, growling at the confused party. The horned figure begins to smile and says, “Ah, it seem Asmodeus’ ‘angels’ have found you and brought you here to Asmodeus’ establishment.” He begins to laugh as the heroes begin to become forcefully compelled to bow before the Overlord of Baator himself, Asmodeus.

As the heroes struggle to gain a will of their own body, Gbaja yells, “What do you want foul beast?!” The evil god begins to pick up a small figurine piece that looks remarkably like Thorin and says, “Do you ever feel like you are part of large game that holds your lives in the balance from death and life?” The heroes look at the grid-like board and see figurines of themselves on the board.

Jayden says, “No! Why would we?”

Asmodeus continues, "Oh? Well, today Asmodeus is sure you will feel like that. You see, Asmodeus would love to play a game with you right now. Now that you are in Baator, there are clones of you all on your little home of Erryes. They look, act, smell, and feel like you in every way. And they are on their way as we speak to kill the ones you hold so dear to your heart. But you have a chance to stop them, Asmodeus is a god of fairness, you see. A gith artifact named “The Looking Glass” is somewhere near us right now giving the energy for these clones to act. If you find it and somehow stop the energy from working in time, then the clones will fall to the ground becoming the puppets they truly are. And then your loved ones will be safe."

“Why are you doing this?!” shouts Balasar.

“Why? Why?!” he rises up out of his seat as searing fire erupts around at his feet, “Asmodeus does not need a reason why, all that matters is Asmodeus is giving you a fair chance!” He calms down for a moment with a simple, “Ahem,” and continues, “Besides, Pelor has taken an interest in you and it seems it’s Asmodeus’ turn to test you in ways Pelor would never allow.” He turns to Gbaja, “So you should be thanking Asmodeus for such a wonderful test for your simple little Oracle.” He pauses and begins to set the figurines up, the characters find themselves free of the evil god’s mental grip on them and he smiles saying, “Now! Let’s begin our game!”


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