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Shards of Light, Shards of Shadow

The Rest of the Campaign
What happened

This OOC summary is for those few who are still following or stumble upon this later. This is what happened.

  • The groups, penetrating Koldoran’s tomb, find the key to locate the Giant facility they are after. Unfortunately, they also unleash a giant zombie plague upon Stormreach.
  • The group manages to stop the outbreak, but only after massive damage to the city.
  • Sneaking away while they still can, the group find several smaller Giant ruins pointy the way to their lost city.
  • En route, they are attacked by a blue dragon claiming that their actions will release a great doom. They beat back the dragon, but continue forward.
  • Finding Telendar, the lost Giant city, the group finds clues to what the expedition is really after: A secret Giant weapon. House Cannith, secretly in charge of the expedition from the beginning, is seeking the weapon. All notes about the weapon point to it being “too powerful to contain” if released.
  • They find the lost weapon facility, on the edge of an icy lake with a massive claw frozen within. Forced to push ahead, they fight the remnants of the Giant security system to finally access the last chamber: And release the weapon.
  • The “weapon”, a now awake an unfrozen Tarrasque, destroyed the Storm Ascendant and stomps away, stranding the group behind.
  • After more trials and tribulations, including another run in with the Chamber upset at their actions, the remnants of the party (the only survivors of the expedition) reach Stormreach, the “weapon” lost somewhere behind them. No one believes their story.

And that was the end. Shards was fun; I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

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The Koldoran Mysteries (Sessions 13–16)

24 Zol and 25 Wir Eyre

Still in shock at the loss of [[Dreams in a Jar (Session 12)| loss of Zinnia]], the group tried to put together what happen. Professor Barrasten seemed professional about it, doing everything she could to investigate the issues with Zinnia, but Jak could feel something is amiss. For a few days, the group seems aimless.

Professor Gourthan, however, was busy with leads to find “Titan’s Home”, and was certain that he would find the information here. He told the group that he was working with Aldus to find more about the Koldoran Piece—for according to Gourthan’s research, the giant Koldoran was based in Stormreach, but originally came from Titan’s Home. Gourthan believed that Koldoran’s tomb lies beneath Stormreach and had been looking for it. With the help of another professor, Durran Sarroni, who recently joined the Expedition, Gourthan believed that they have a lead: A meeting with the Collector.

Little is known about the Collector, but supposedly he or she knows much about the secrets of the city. According to Gourthan, a meeting on 26 Zor at Stormreach’s showing of The Fall of Cyre in the Temple District was scheduled. Most of the Expedition, including Sarroni’s protegé Beacon—an unusual warforged invoker—planned on attending.

Of course, such a play is a formal event requiring the appropriate dress. After a series of misadventures including a stage-prop version of a leather tuxedo for Jak, a battle ready sequin gown for Valna, and a drug addled experience for Humphrey, all were ready.

26 Zor Eyre

Professor Gourthan secured a few carriages to ferry the group across the dangerous parts of town between Southwatch and the Temple District. All were asked to keep a watch out for the Collector. Of course, it is hard to find a man that no one is familiar with.

The Fall of Cyre was not about the Day of Mourning, but about the split of Galifar at the death of king Jarot. While entertaining to some, Jak was less than occupied. While the Collector never showed, one odd thing happened: Beacon found in his possession a magical coin. It was apparently a token from their benefactor.

Unclear how to proceed, the group returned to their carriages. But on the route back, they were ambushed! Fire rained down from the sky, separating the two carriages, leaving Jak, Beacon, Valna, Humphrey, and the ellusive Xendrohs separated from their mentors. Out of the shadows, kobolds scurried. The crafty interlopers used the terrain to their advantage, darting in an out with spears, or pinning them down with swarms of rats or chaotic magic. Valna, Humphrey, and Jak were gravely wounded and one of the cretins escaped, but soon the ambushers were defeated.

On the note of one of them, a description of them all and where to find them. Someone wanted them stopped.

27 Far Eyre

After the battle, Professor Sarroni looked at the corpse of the kobold leader—a filthy tender of rats—and suggested that Beacon could perform a ritual to speak with the dead on the morrow. First thing in the morning, that is what was attempted. However, Beacon’s mastery of the ritual was lacking, and the spirit of the kobold only sneered at them, refusing to help.

Meanwhile, Professor Barristen had determined the nature of the coin, much to Lecturer Omrish’s consternation: It was a message coin, enchanted for the right recipient. Thus decoded, it showed a map of Stormreach, and then a location far above the city: A crumbled tower by a tree in one of the floating ruins above the city. “Here we will find what the tomb,” Gourthan exclaimed. “This is what the Collector wanted us to see.”

Others were skeptical.

The party was sent to scout out the location and secure it if need be. While Xenhros suggested using the airship, Valna pointed out that it could not navigate in such tight areas. In addition, Captain d’Lyrandar did not seem too keen on letting them borrowing the Ascendant’s skiffs. Thus, they would have to do it the old fashion way: Climb the Rigging that anchored some of the floating ruins to the ground and each other and hope for the best.

After some close calls, including some of the group almost falling to their death, the group made it to the ruins. But someone was there first! Goblin archers, lead by a toothy human and his dire rat companions, were their first, scouring the ruins. They joined battle immediately after sending some of the rats away. The battle was fierce, with goblins jumping along the ruined structure while the rat-man showed its true lycanthropic nature. The party held the day, capturing one of the gobs. But a quick search of the structure turned up two things: A dragonmark on the ground that look much like an aberrant mark, and that whatever that had been found had been taken.

The rats had it!

A chase followed, made more difficult by their late start. The vermin had almost made it back down to the sewers when the Jak and the others caught up to them and mashed them into paste. Amongst them, a shard of the natural dragonmark. Perhaps a key of some sort?

Xenhros and Valna interrogated the goblin prisoner, one dark and the other friendly, and soon they discovered that a man named Thalos had hired them to loot the tower (which was obviously not Koldoran’s tomb). The scarred man was known to hang out at the Wavecrest Tavern in the harbor, a den of vice and debauchery. Hearing that, Jak was happy to go there.

The Wavecrest was full, orc laborers drinking with their goliath overboss, several humans trying to gamble with them, and a big man deep in his cups. While Xenhros tried to use the warforged to win a drinking contest with the orcs, Valna and Humphrey spoke to the waitress to find out what they could about Thalos. Other than he was a treasure hunter and ran with a very bad crowd, little was found.

But then the orcs found out Beacon and Xenhros were cheating at the drinking game and the bar fight broke out.

It was a sight to be seen: Flaming beers being tossed around the room, the big man and Jak pummeling each other for sport, and chaos reigning. Eventually, calmer hearts prevailed: Or those without were unconscious. Fjord, the big man from far north Karrnath that riled up the fight, laughed and bought everyone drinks. A good time was had by all.

Returning to The Ship’s Cat, the party broke the news that the ruins were not the tomb but something else. Puzzled, Gourthan answered that what the Collector gave them must be a clue, but they needed more information. He know one last place to try: the Lighthouse Library. In the center of the harbor stood the lighthouse, an artifact of giant construction. And there, a very eccentric hermit by the name of Eldamir Fallowcrest lived. He liked his books too much, and valued them far more than people. But if there was something obscure written about Koldoran and this strange tower, Eldamir would have it. Thus, Professor Gourthan took the group to the Lighthouse.

The harbor was rank with the smell of sewage, unsettling the stomachs of the crew. Knocking on the towering door, the group was greeted by a sour looking thin man—Eldamir. Initially he refused to assist them, but some words and display of historical and arcane acumen swayed him. They began searching the library, though Jak’s more direct approach barreling through books required the group to smooth things over several times. Eventually they found the section where they needed to be, but Eldamir was so fed up that he stormed off.

That is when the books started to attack them.

A library filled with ancient and eldritch magic can be dangerous, especially when the magic leaks and gives malevolent sentience to the papers within. Such a dark spirit now possessed this lower level of the library, assaulting them with cuts of thin paper and swarms of books. Xenhros kept away from the battle while it swirled around Jak, cutting him grievously. Eventually, the party resorted to fire, setting aflame half of the floor’s contents. It was enough to defeat the monster, but also have them forcibly evicted.

Fortunately, Professor Gourthan had snuck out the book they needed.

28 Sar Eyre

Gourthan and the others professors poured over the text all night. Soon, the pieces fit together: The ruined tower was a gateway to a set of cells beneath Stormreach isolated from the rest of the city. Heinious prisoners were kept there. The token the group found was needed to attune a ritual that would take them to Koldoran’s cell—the place where the apparent criminal was imprisoned until his death. All it said about Koldoran was that he dabbled with “the dead” and something about an “abomination.” This did not instill confidence.

Soon, the group was back at the tower, the ritual for opening the gate to the cell in hand. But again, someone had beaten them there. Xenhros and Beacon could both feel the trailing threads of another ritual that had been cast recently. The group briefly debated waiting for the others—likely Thalos’ gang—to come out, but Cheep, Aldus’ homunculus that was following them with the Koldoran Piece, suggested against it. Reluctantly agreeing, they opened the portal and stepped deep beneath the city.

And there, in a circular ritual chamber beneath the earth, was a door engraved with the likeness of a giant bearing what appeared to be an aberrant dragonmark. Above, the words were ominous.

“Koldoran. Traitor.”

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Dreams in a Jar (Session 12)
The Jar's Brain

Dreams in a Jar

Session 12

22 Sul Eyre?

The Dream Machine had been stopped. All other defenses were defeated. All that was left between the party and freedom was one creature.

Anabaraxus, fire giant researcher of the Sul’at League. The Jar’s Brain

Coming up the stair, they found Anabaraxus in the sanctum. Larger than the room below it, it sang with dream potential. In the center, above an arcane circle focusing his powers, was Anabaraxus—a towering figure hanging limp in midair, the top of his massive skull missing, exposing the brain tissue beneath. Said tissue quivered as the party emerged from the stair.

You will not triumph. You cannot escape.

Humphrey shot forward, throwing his blade that easily hit the immobile giant. The minotaur followed, but was stymied by the floating giant. Xendrohs skirted the out edge of the battle, looking for an advantageous position.

Then the true power of Anabaraxus was known.

In a blink of an eye, raw pyshic power flowed from Anabaraxus’ cranium. Humphrey was fling against the wall like a rag-doll while the giant crushed Jak’s will, turning him against his fellows. Valna and Zinnia were hard-pressed just to defend themselves from the dominated minotaur. At the same time, Anabaraxus called forth from dream more fragments to protect him.

But the singing of the Dream Machine in Zinnia’s head gave the gnome an advantage. She knew how to manipulate the dreamstuff now, to turn its potential into solid form. “You can make a shield of dreams or even fly! You just have to will it enough, to dream it!” No sooner said, then Humphrey managed to take to the air a bit clumsily, but enough to cut another deep wound. Xenhros kept to the ground, his spell of shared pain harming Jak… but doing little to the floating giant.

While the dream fragments pressed the party, Anabaraxus showed he was the master of the dream. Shoving Humphrey aside again with but a thought, the giant formed spears of pure thought throughout the room, spearing the drow, Jak, Valna, and the gnome mage. But Zinnia’s mastery of the dream was growing, and she deftly unwove the dream, though not before it cut her and her fellows. Jak, free of his wounds and flying from Zinnia’s will, charged the giant, though not with enough force to bowl him over. Humphrey also charged the psychic master. He retaliated by shoving the two assailants away, and calling forth a psychic storm to stab and each of their minds.

So the battle went, with Anabaraxus creating terrible dream terrain, calling forth protecting fragments, and shoving away foes. As the heroes struck at the giant, they noticed the walls of the lab fading, and faint images of themselves sleeping beginning to appears. The giant himself was fading, becoming more and more just a brain in a jar.

But Zinnia was fading as well.

Humphrey and Jak tried to warn the mage, but all she saw as them fading as the battle continued… she remained solid.

Jak, Humphrey, and Valna all came close to falling, barely holding on. Soon, Anabaraxus was but a faded ghost, as was the gnome wizard. When things looked most dire for him, pressed by the drow, Anabaraxus called forth the syllables of destruction, destroying the lab… and everything in it.

And all was a wailing white light…

Groggily, Jak, Valna, Humphrey, and Xenhros opened their eyes. They were in the main room of The Ship’s Cat, others of the expedition looking anxiously at them. As they slowly gathered their wits, they noticed something amiss. All their beds surrounded a table with a broken jar and now dessicated brain.

And Zinnia had not awakened.

A Jorasco healer hung over the gnome as [Professor Barrasten hovered. But the Jorasco halfing had no good news: Zinnia’s mind was gone. She was trapped in a coma, with no likely chance to recover.

Zinnia was gone.

Someone on the Plane of Nightmares, in a corner far flung from any dream or nightmare touches, there is a small room. Little more than a closet, is contains nothing but a chair and four walls.

And a gnome.

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Dreams in a Jar (Session 11)
This is not the giant you are looking for

Dreams in a Jar

Session 11

22 Sul Eyre?

Getting closer to the dream laboratory—and hopefully their freedom—the party turned to the path away from where they found the captured shifter. But no sooner had they entered, then spikes from the floor shot up. Jak shrugged off the jabs, and Humphrey easily disabled the triggering plate, but the spikes were a feint—as Zinnia moved past them, crossbows from the ceiling descended, firing bolts of disruptive energy at those below.

Jak smashed the magical defenses slowly, while Valna assisted. Humphrey attempted to attend to the traps, but well hidden and sophisticated machinery made such efforts difficult: The others destroyed the turrets before the hobgoblin managed to disarm them.

Gathering their breath, the group found the remains of the other prisoner the druid Redclaw had mentioned. Long dead, the human corpse had no identifying papers or marks to signify who this person once was. But Humphrey did appreciate the corpses find darkleaf leather armor, though he was reluctant at first to possess it. “He won’t need it anymore,” Jak helpfully chimed in.

There were no other doors but the one they had waited for—the door to the heart of the dream laboratory. It was a huge chamber, dominated by Anabaraxus’ greatest work, the Dream Machine. Arcane runes of channeling were inscribed on the floor before it, drawing arcane power into the billowing chamber of orange and purple mist the color of dream, the chamber taller than the giants that made it. The eldritch energies of the machine were fierce enough to be felt from the far side of the room. There was no doubt that this forge of dreams was powering the lab, and keeping the party trapped.

A lone dream of a fire giant guarded the machine, bellowing in anger as the others burst in. Humphrey took quick action, sprinting forward with alacrity. In close succession he drove a low slash and two other cuts, almost bringing the giant to its knees. It barely had time to register to the blow before Jak finished the job.

But the machine was not defenseless.

Stepping from the mists of the chamber came constructed dreams that served only to defend the machinery. They assaulted Jak, just as another nightmare creature similar to the one that had possessed the minotaur emerged. This time, it touched Xendrohs, but could not hold on control for long. But its threat was enough to cause Jak, Valna, and the drow to focus upon it. However, the dream fragments kept on deflecting their blows, sacrificing themselves while the nightmare creature danced around them.

As the battle raged, Zinnia focused on trying to understand the machine. As she stared transfixed by the orange and purple glow, it just made sense. She began manipulating the machine as if she understood it naturally, unaware that she was talking in the babbling tongue of the dream creatures. Watching in horror, Humphrey attempted to disable the machine himself, but Zinnia was soon lost to the machine, seemingly become more and more with it. She yelled in triumph in the maddening tongue, and with the machine quiescent, its defenders were soon defeated.

But as what cost?

All could see the change coming over the gnome: The strange speach, the glazed look in her eyes. But she knew intuitively there was only one thing left for them to be free, and would hear nothing else.

All was left was Anabaraxus.

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Dreams in a Jar (Session 10)
Everyone crowds Xenhros

Dreams in a Jar

Session 10

21 Sar Eyre?

Now with the key, the group prepares to explore the laboratory level of their dream prison. Zinnia discovers something interesting about the door—a psychic barrier that keeps things of pure dream to one side. “Likely to keep their dream subjects from entering,” she said cheerfully. This explained why the gnome Banra had yet escaped to a higher level, or why the dream creatures had not passed the threshold.

Climbing slowly up the stair, they entered a large chamber of pillars and carvings in archaic giant style. But also, they found the dream of a drow still guarding the ancient domain. It called out loudly for help, and the battle was joined.

Moving from cover to cover, Xendrohs attempted to remain unseen, but others the the group followed him for the same reason, drawing unwanted attention towards the drow. The dream drow was engaged by Jak, only to discover too late the looming presence of the dream of a fire giant sorcerer who bellowed at the minotaurs intrusion. Soon, Jak, Valna, and Humphrey discovered that the dream of fire burns as fiercely as the real thing on the Plane of Nightmares.

From a door on the other side of the chamber another giant began to emerge, but Jak pinned it, trapping it within the smaller doorframe. Meanwhile, two more dream drow guards came from hiding, sniping Xenhros as the others. Humphrey managed to severely wound the trapped giant, and Jak’s hammer smashed at it as well, but the sorcerous mastery of the enraged foes was quickly taking their tool.

“Quickly, get below! I’ll trap them!” Zinnia had a plan.

The gnome led the withdraw, with Valna and Jak following soon behind. Humphrey and Xenhros managed to fell one of the giants before heading below, but the drow was caught by his ancient relative’s crossbow bolts as he retreated. The dreams of drow followed, and soon Zinnia strung her trap, using the barrier at the door to trap the insubstantial creatures below. Trapped and funneled through a killing zone of minotaur, warlord, and wizard, the drow guards were soon vanquished.

Taking a quick breath, the group ascended once more, knowing only one more of the fire giant sorcerers remained. It was ready for them, standing upon a dais that granted it magical protection. But five on one are poor odds, and soon the dream of a giant was ended.

Free for the moment, Zinnia and Xenhros began to search their surroundings. Apparently, the chamber and its attached sleeping quarters were where the giants and their drow servants rested. Better yet, it is where they transitioned between Xen’drik and the dream laboratory. But Zinnia could tell the magic was twisted, perhaps blocked—the transition would not work for them. They still needed to find the dream machinery and disable it before they would be free. But, the beds were still beds (even if they were just dreams), and the group needed rest.

22 Sul Eyre?

Separated from true rest, no one slept particularly well. Everyone felt out of sort, and the ominous feeling in their rest that they were being watched, that a voice whispered “You cannot leave yet. I am not done with you,” did not instill confidence.

Xenhros and Humphrey had discovered some giant and drow artifacts during their rest, and they were quickly taken for later study. From the map of the laboratory Zinnia acquired from the library, the main machinery was beyond the resting area. Going through a metal gate, the group came to a split. To the south was a hall towards the library, but the short corridor to the east as a barred cell—and its occupant, the fading dream of the shifter druid Redclaw, one of Banra’s companions.

The shifter had suffered much, and her mental state was deteriating fast. Zinnia and Valna attempted to calm her, but her fractured mind made it difficult. Jak attempted a more direct threatening method, but the druid’s shattered psyche was beyond traditional threats. Humphrey’s keen insight and some arcane healing that solidified the shifter by Zinnia managed to gather Redclaw’s thoughts, but Xenhros’ directed deception finally brought the shifter’s focus back to the present.

Redclaw remembered little since her flight from the dream creatures. The dreams of giants had captured her. They had been another as well, but he had stopped screaming some time ago. She also warned of some “protective measures,” but even focused, her rants were cryptic.

Knowing what they had to do, the group prepared to head south to the machinery, leaving the druid for later when their job was done. But Redclaw had other ideas, turning into a cat that escaped the bars. Zinnia took the cat with her, and they set off for the Dream Machine.

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Dreams in a Jar (Session 9)
Wherein the party discovers the phrase "Mad Cow"

Dreams in a Jar

Session 9

21 Sar Eyre?

With another evening of poor rest, the group began searching for the means to escape. Locked on this floor, they searched for the key to escape. But they only room they knew was left was that of the interrogation machine; only Xendrohs seemed interested in exploring it.

Down a long hall, a pale bluish light filled a room like a heat distortion. The source of it was clear—a piece of eldritch machinery tied to the dream energies but now long malfunctioning. Its cruel intent was clear, for it in stood, his head to the side as if addled, the faded remnant of one of Banra’s allies: Vlad the Adamant, Karrn warlord.

As the group approached, Vlad came to life, lurching forward with a drooling moan. This drew the attention of more dream creatures, brutish fragments. As Jak, Valna, and Humphrey rushed to meet them, the true malignancy of the Interrogation machine became known: A burst of painful psychic energy blasted the warriors while strengthening the dream creatures!

The battle was fierce. While the mental assault of the dream fragments dazed the heroes, the malfunctioning magic of the machine brought the dreams that were felled back to their feet to fight again. Vlad fought woodenly, but it was when he was felled, knocked unconscious by Jak, that the true horror emerged: A nightmarish wisp that sent tremors of fear to those that gazed upon it. Then, with a devious touch, it possessed the minotaur!

The tone of the battle changed from defensive to all out panic as the big minotaur took on the glazed look that was so recently on Vlad’s face. The group focused entirely on the dominated minotaur, some reluctantly, one with an amused smirk. Both Humprhey and Valna were deeply wounded while brining Jak down, but soon he was unconcious, and the nightmare freed once more! All the while, eldritch blasts from the giant machinery rained down on the group.

With some teamwork, Humphrey, Valna, Xenhros, and a shaky Jak took down the nightmare creature while Zinnia rushed forward to do something about the machine. In continued to barrage with psychic pain, but soon, with a little finesse from Humprhey and cutting remarks from the drow, the machine was made quiet once again.

Bruised by what my have seemed a simple battle, the group took a brief rest to gather themselves. Now that they had found the key—located in a side cell near the machinery—they were ready for the true dream lab.

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Dreams in a Jar (Session 8)
Wherein Humphrey suffers more indignation at the hands of his companions

Dreams in a Jar

Session 8

20 Far Eyre?

After their rest-that-wasn’t, the stragglers stranded in Dream set out to find their way out of this freakish Giant laboratory. Creeping up the stairs to the next level, they barely entered the hall when they were beset by more dream creatures and what appeared to be an insubstantial half-orc with maddened eyes and a wicked longbow. Fragments of dream, twisting in their shapes depending on who was looking at them, trapped the group in a hallway. But while Jak’s warhammer and Valna’s sword could make quick work out of them, their minds froze in pain for each one dropped. Even worse, a large amorphous blob of dream spewed more of these fragments for each one felled!

As Jak and Valna attempted to fight off their dazed state, the merciless fragmented dream blob appeared within the groups midsts and assaulted them all with psychic pain while extracting even more dream fragments to assault them. Zinnia as now exposed, and the creatures proximity to the drow Xenrohs both kept him from moving away and using his power. But the drow was not defenseless; an attack against him by the dream blob was mysteriously redirected at the unsuspecting Humphrey when warlock’s cloaks swirled about the drow; in addition, the dazed Zinnia’s magic were also deflected by the blob towards the put-upon hobgoblin. It did not help matters when, to protect himself, Xenhros called down darkness only he could see through. But this allowed him to reign down pain upon the blob before him, already grievously wounded by the hobgoblin’s precise strikes.

The battle was draining, especially with the mad half-orc raining down arrows upon the fray. But the group was triumphant, though the battle took more than expected. Searching about, the group found they were in a small storage area. Though much was dust and dream, Zinnia did find regents of an arcane nature and the silvery-gold residuum that is pure magic. The giants were indeed masters of the arcane.

Having no choice but to move forward, the group found another storage chamber off the main one. This one, however, was not empty. Instead, it was stocked with water and rations, some giant sized, others smaller. A hungry Jak soon discovered anything he took was magically replenished—the group had found the giant’s magical larder. But that was not all they found: Hidden in the stacks was the half-sane, insubstantial fragment of a gnomish explorer. Eager to talk, he introduced himself as Banra Greenwood, intrepid Aundarian explorer. In a roundabout manner, the gnome eventually explained that he and his fellows—a warforged warrior named Sixteen, their half-orc scout Thar One-Tusk, the Karrn warlord Vlad Voldios, and the shifter druid Redclaw—had excavated some hereto undiscovered giant ruins. There, they found the brain in the jar that now encapsulates them. He told of strange dreams that visited all but the warforged, and then the night that they all appeared here.

“We fought these dream things and found the notes explaining this place’s foul purpose and made haste on our plans to escape. But Sixteen was lost, Thar driven mad, and I separated from my fellows. I have been here for… I cannot rightly remember….”

Looking at the slowly fading gnome, the group knew his fate would be theirs if they did not escape. The “dream sickness” would claim them too.

On a tip from Banra, the group sought out what appeared to be the laboratory’s library. Ancient spellshards, malfunctioning due to age and disuse, were found. Zinnia delved into them like a demon possessed, but Jak and Xenhros had to work with her to translate the giant runes. The drow almost mistranslated a key section, but the minotaur corrected him while Humphrey and the others put together some of the more obscure pieces. It was soon discovered that the laboratory was used to research dream creatures due to an invasion of Xen’drik by the alien creatures of dream. The lab, and its founder Anabaraxus, were central in forming some sort of weapon to be used against the foul creatures. However, even more was found: Some sort of ancient dream machinery was used to create other dream weapons and to control the facilities. If this machine could be found, and the inner sanctum that controlled it breached, they might have found their way out.

Resting upon what they had found, the party formulated their plan of assault to escape the giant dream lab!

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Dreams in a Jar (Session 7)
Never let Zinnia buy anything

Dreams in a Jar

Session 7

19 Zor Eyre

Strange dreams visit the group that night. Zinnia finds herself in the Library of Arcane Studies, her entire family glaring down at her. Her uncle Bart declares that she has shown little progress, and now she must prove herself in a live-fire exercise. Enraged shifters who have been deprived of sleep and attacked by badgers are sent after the startled wizard.

Deep in the forests of Xen’drik, Xenrohs frees himself from a giant plinth that had crushed him. In the forest he hears the mocking whispers of his kin, the trick they used when honing on a target. Now they hunt him, for he has become the outsider.

Humphrey finds himself in a room of infinite mirrors, but each has a false reflection. One, a childish waif. Another, an orcish matron with a broom. In yet another, a human in working clothes and across from him a shapely half-elf with clothes that leave little to the imagination. But each chants the same phrase endlessly: “There can be only one…” They step out of the mirror and approach threateningly.

In the grasslands of Droaam, Jak finds himself surrounded by a group of creatures who all look like Ms. B. They all speak of their dissatisfaction with him, and violence soon ensues.

Finally, Valna finds herself on the storm-tossed Kraken’s Tempest, the vessel already listing. Around her are the drowned corpses of her crewmates, all blaming her for her failure. As one they lunge at her.

The dream creatures, for they but dreams, assault the group en masse. Xenrohs manages to move away from those against him, and Zinnia catches several of hers in flame. But Humphrey and Valna do not fare as well, for each touch of the dream fragments confuses them and each one that falls disorients them. They fight for their lives.

Slowly, the separate dreamscapes begin to bleed into each other. A portion of the library opens onto a Xen’drik jungle; the aft of the ship looks upon a sea of books and gnomes. As the dream creatures bring down the half-elf bosun, the gnome rushes at her side. Humphrey too falls, his life escaping until a surge of strength brings him back to his feet. Even the tough Jak is beset by the shifting creatures. But finally, wounded and shaken, the group manages to destroy their nightmares.

But they do not awaken.

Instead, they find themselves in a small stone room. Its circular walls are broken by a window into a space of rolling pink, purple, orange, and blue clouds. Lighting the color of dreams breaks the clouds. Occasionally, they see glimpses of other’s dreams: Lecturer Omrish gives a speech to a gathered body that laughs and eschews him, Professor Barrasten is impotent as a cheerful Zinnia shows stronger mastery of the arcane arts. The entire place feels wrong and only half-seen. Zinnia was sure they were not in Stormreach, but where they were… she was not sure.

The group retreat deeper into the strange building. On the other side of the observation chamber they find a wall inscribed with ancient Giant runes. Xenhros and Jak can only partially make it out. “Anabaraxus... Dream… Laboratory.” The strange words are unsettling.

Deeper in the complex, they find a small arcane study overlooking a set of closed cells. Between the two chambers is a shimmering wall, which Zinnia quickly recognizes as a psychic barrier. Shying away from the hazard, the group focuses on the arcane implements. Xenhros finds several sheafs of notes in Giant and begins rummaging through them while Valna and and Humphrey consider exploring the stairs found. Just then, the doors on the cages open. From inside step out insubstantial remnants of ancient elves and drow, apparently maddened from their imprisonment. They babble mindlessly in ancient Elven and Giant, repeating the same phrases over and over again: “Sleep! Let us sleep!”

The insane elven fragments assault the group, though most try to avoid the shimmering barrier. Dreams of arrows pierce Jak and Valna’s skin while brute drow with savage intent assault Humphrey and the warlord. As the dark dreams pass the wall, they scream in agony and somehow become more solid… more real. Humphrey slams one back through the wall, causing it to spasm again while Valna and Jak attempt to fight off the ones swarm them. Zinnia’s magics are less effective against the separated foe, but she does her best with bolts of force. Meanwhile, an unconcerned Xenhros, feeling the others that have had little to do with him, attempts to make sense of the arcane writing.

The elven figments continue their assault, arrows, swords, and raw brutality all taking their toll on the group. A heavily wounded Valna retreats behind cover while Humphrey is temporarily overrun and knocked to the ground. Perhaps know taking concern or because he found how to deactivate the wall, Xenhros shuts off the arcane barrier to the dismay of Zinnia. Then Xenhros discovers that the power of his dark masters solidified the elven figments for a short time as well. While the battle is fierce, soon the tide is turned.

The toll of the dream assaults where heavy. While Xenhros and Zinnia were still in high spirits or had taken few wounds, the battles had taken the wind out of the others. Making sure the area was safe, they took camp in the area. One oddity was immediately found: The destroyed remains of a warforged, but this one was only semi-solid, as if it had started to fade like the elves. It has a few foodstuffs, and a giant relic, but little to identify it.

As they rested, Zinnia and Xenhros begrudgingly worked together to try to decipher the strange writing they had found. The notes were from an arcane laboratory of the ancient Su’lat League giants; they were apparently examining the nature of dream. But the laboratory had turned to prisoners-the elves and drow-to be their “subjects.” The notes ended abruptly, however, and no explanation of the place’s true purpose was found. Stymied, the group began to rest.

What rest was had was a restless one; dreams were absent. In the morning, the group felt drained. Apparently, true sleep in this place was impossible. They had to find a way out… and soon.

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Unfriendly Skies (Session 6)
A Bit of Turbulence

Unfriendly Skies

Session 6

18 Wir Eyre

Captain d’Lyrandar holds a small ceremonial burial “at sea” for the lost crewmen: Bosun Miri and the Blademarks guarding the hold. Their bodies are left to the sea.

The storms over the Stormfall Peninsula become worse, and the group faces every airship captain’s worse fears: An elemental assault! Stirred up, creatures of air, cold, and lightning swarm the ship. Everyone is pressed to into the defense of the ship. Xenrohs Gilvheerr begrudgingly keeps watch and barks orders at the crew, using fear to keep them on their toes. Zinnia assists with arcane firepower, augmenting the ballista with her exuberant blasts. Meanwhile, Jak and Humphrey do their best to repel the stragglers that come aboard.

The defense is a bit tense at times, with the failure of First Mate Zorra’s voice making the operation more difficult. Wave after wave of the enraged shards swarm the ship, but with some perseverance, the Ascendant makes it through the worse of the storm and they make their way clear. The Ascendant, however, was damaged in the attack, meaning they will take more time in Stormreach than originally planned.

19 Zor Eyre

Midmorning, those aboard the Ascendant catch their first glance of Stormreach. Its size is deceiving—from afar it looks to be closer than it is in actuality due to the Giant-sized ruins. Zinnia is fascinated by the floating ruins tethered to the city bellow, and all are put off by the smell of sewage potent even from the heights.

The Ascendant sets down at Lyrandar Tower in the Marketplace. Captain Mal informs the Expedition that the University has provided them rooms in the Ship’s Cat in Southwatch for the duration of their stay. He informs them of the damage to the ship, and lets them know their take-off will be delayed. The Professor is nonplussed, indicating there is business he needs to attend to in town as well. Everyone else is given time to do as they will.

Zinnia takes the opportunity to explore the exotic wonders of the Marketplace while Humphrey takes his Master’s things directly to the Cat. Having been told to keep an eye on the others by his own master, the drow follows the hobgoblin unseen.

In the market, Zinnia drags Jak to curio after curio. She initially seeks something to prank Professor Omrish for a perceived slight (the easily agitated orc called her a stupid child), but the potent—and illegal—curse vendor frightened her off. Under the large red-striped tent, she discovered several others items of wonder: A leatherbound tome supposedly found by the famed Brelish explorer Alex Payne that drove others mad; a bowl made of the skull of the mysterious dream serpent. But her biggest find, sold to her by the hard bargaining Dr. Majestic, was the briny jar supposedly filled with the brain of Anabaraxus, supposed fire giant mage of the dreaded Su’lat League. “It will whisper its secret of fires as you sleep,” promised the gaudily dressed man. “Imaging the arcane might that awaits such a discerning mage as yourself.” Even skeptical, Zinnia could not resist the pitch.

Meanwhile, in the Harbor, Valna d’Lyrandar sat idly drinking. Her last assignment, the Kraken’s Tempest had sunk under mysterious circumstances, leaving her in Stormreach. The black mark against her family—her father had possessed similar poor luck—left few wanting to trust her. But when Mal d’Lyrandar, her more respected cousin, offered her the position of Bosun on the Storm Ascendant flagship, she could not refuse. Thus, she found herself at the Ship’s Cat, drinking some tourists under the table and waiting for the ship to become ready.

Humphrey checked Lecturer Omrish’s belongings into the inn, a bit concerned at the many cats that roamed the densewood ground—Omrish dislike the four legged felines. While he unpacked and took a bath, the waif Adria roamed the streets of the Karrn district. Here, justice was harsh: The Stormreach Guard was no where to be seen, leaving the well disciplined and violent Sword of Karrn to keep the peace. After rescuing a child who picked the wrong pocket, Adria learned of a gang of children called the Fleas that roamed the giant runs. But the little girl mistrusted the older Adria and all “Big Ones”, and scampered off before Adria could learn more about the cities underworld. Perturbed, Adria returned to her hiding place as Humphrey finished his relaxation.

Through all of this, Xandros kept watch… from the bar.

Eventually, Zinnia and Jak arrived at the Ship’s Cat, finding rooms prepared for her. Apparently, Aunt Bev was a regular guest. Humphrey took a moment to visit a local tea shop, the Blood’s Drop to get some of its famous red tea for Omrish before retiring.

And they all started dreaming…

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Unfriendly Skies (Sessions 4–5)
Piracy in the Sky!

Unfriendly Skies

Sessions 4 & 5

15 Sul Eyre

After giving the crew their rewards, Vhir wanders away without word. Having some time to themselves before the airship departs, some of the crew make last minute forays into Sharn. Humphrey makes an errand into town to find Master Omrish’s favorite boot polish. On a whim, Zinnia drags Jak along to follow, but the hobgoblin is quickly lost in the crowd. Instead, the two spend time in a fine porcelain wares shop (where Jak harms nothing) and in a bookstore in Middle Dura where Zinnia procures some discarded folios from Master Omrish and some additional reading for herself and her bodyguard.

The docks of Lyrandar Tower suffer some random pickpockets, but nothing too serious. As twilight approaches, Humphrey returns with the polish. Just in time for takeoff.

During the evening, a newcomer cloaked figure is seen on deck. Jak has a few words with in Giantish, but the dark skinned man is stand-offish. Bosun Miri is also told of the stranger by the captain, who just states “He’s with the kobold. Leave him be.”

16 Mol Eyre

The Storm Ascendant departs early in the morning, a day delayed. Midmorning, Captain d’Lyrandar gathers all the expedition together, including the formerly sleeping cloaked one, for a ship’s tour. Mal discusses the basic of the ships Unseen Servant enhanced functionality, where meals will be taken, and the basics of the lightning ballista and skiff operation.

Over the next day, the crew mingles. Humphrey loses money to (what he calls) cheating Blademarks, Lyrandar midshipmen, and their second mate Zorra. Jak discovers Cookie’s secret stash of drink and “special meats.” Zinna attempts a ritual to deaden Lecturer Omrish’s snoring which causes Humphrey consternation in the morning.

17 Zor Eyre

On the second day of the three day journey to Stormreach, the weather gets rough. Before being forced belowdecks, Jak and the cloaked one notice Professor Gourthan and Sergeant d’Deneith arguing over something. While biding time midship, the group overhears two crew members discuss the ‘bad luck’ following the expedition; one mentions the attack at the party, another mentions a pale bird he saw at night meaning death. Cookie listens interested.

Night comes, the storm unabated. The group is relaxing with some of the crew while Xandros keeps to himself in the dark part of the ship where some crewmembers are sleeping. Xandros notices a sudden ‘puff’ as a crystal globe is flung from below, but the drow resists the sleepiness that suddenly washes over him. Soon, a group of shifty invidials creep of the stair near the hidden drow, and toss two more globes at the lounge where the others sit. Miri, Humphrey, and the crewmen he was gambling with are overcome while the gnome and the tough minotaur fight it off. The battle is joined!

Jak rushes to the fore, meeting the boarders head on. The continually assault him, dazing him, but he fights back effectively. Zandros faces a few of them on his own, but they too wear cloaks and the others confuse him with one of the foes. This is driven home when Zinnia’s flaming sphere almost smashes into him! The gnome manages to awaken Miri and Humphrey who also press the attack. Soon, none of the true enemy remain, but the mistaken Jak, Zinnia, and Humphrey pursue the misidentified drow down the stairs as a foe!

Belowdecks, Xandros finds more scoundrels roaming about the stores while a half-elf performs a ritual on the vault door. One of the ruffians rush the dark one while the half-elf calls forth lightning against the drow. In addition, she fills the area with sparks that distract the warlock and make it harder to see his foes. He ducks behind some boxes just as the others make their way below and into the fray.

The group, seeing the real threat, focus on the scoundrels and the half-elf whom Miri recognizes as a renegade House Lyrandar scion named Eloshia. Knowing of the rumors of her piratical ways and the rumors of an affair with a half-orc pirate queen, the Bosun quickly realizes the intent of the attack. Eloshia too recognizes the House Livery on the Bosun, and calls lightning against her and the minotaur Jak. The battle soon turns against the renegade, and limping back to the open skiff-bay doors, she leaps into the stormy darkness. The party races to the side of the Ascendant only to see another smaller airship, now with Elosia on board, sail upwards towards the topdeck. There must be more pirates!

(Jak does warn the the ship is “taking on air” seeing the open door. No one says anything to the confused minotaur.)

Taking only a moment to catch their breath, the group rushes topside to see more brigands aboard. The mysterious warforged guarding the rear cabin has been disabled, and no other living crew is seen. Instead, five khorvar scum, a dwarf with a keen eye and a deadlier crossbow, a pirate lieutenant and Koshalla Tormsh, Half-orc Pirate Queen, roamed topside. Jak and Miri rushed at the attractive half-orc only to face her fury—her wicked blade struck at both of them as she directed her allies on the best place to strike the minotaur. Well aimed bolts from the dwarf conspired to fell the wounded minotaur, and soon Miri joined him on the red deck. Humphrey and Zinna attempted to assault the pirate queen, but their best efforts had little effect. Even after tending to Miri and Jak’s wound, the combined effort of the party was almost for naught. Though her wounds were finally catching up to her, the dread corsair managed to drop the hated Lyrandar Bosun, the minotaur defender, and the hobgoblin servant, even after the former had attempted to turn one of the mighty ballista against the pirate!

Xandros watched, having already dispatched his share of the thugs and the bolter. Desperate, he tended to the disabled warforged, brining it back to function. “The Master must be protected,” the former whispered, and the construct brute shattered the door to the luxury cabin that had been held by some alchemical substance. Only Xandros, the warforged, and the hiding Zinna saw what came next. Striding from the back room came a cloaked woman bearing two wands. With a quick flick, she hurled flame and force at the pirate, burning her and flinging her off the deck. Zinnia glanced over to see the halfork sprawled—but very much alive—on the retreating airship, Eloshia at the helm.

The cloaked figure shock her head once and spoke briefly to the well-dressed kobold that had just emerged from the back room. “Take care of this,” came the strong voice. Zinnia just managed to catch a glimpse of a House Cannith dragonmark on the woman’s cheek before the door closed again


Vhir and the Captain soon put together what had happened. Eloshia and her renegade crew had come up beneath the Ascendant, opening the skiff-bay doors from the outside somehow. Others had climbed the slick airship sides, opening the portholes and using their sleep-bombs to incapacitate the others. Then, they assaulted the topdeck, disabling the warforged and sealing the cabin doors. It was then the others attacked those midship. It was the party’s effort that saved the Ascendant.

But the cost was high. Two Blademarks belowdecks had given their life, and one Lyrandar crewman was missing, assumed dead. But the most grievous loss was that of Bosun Miri who gave her life in defense of the ship and crew.

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