Rise of the Planar Trade Consortium

Run 75? Rise of the PTC: To Seize the Cage!, Pt. I "Back to the Future"

Mitya, a long history of violence leading straight towards the End of The World….. Well, it wasn’t intentional, more just a case of “wrong portal, to the wrong place, at the wrong time”. Suffice to say that without the Lady of Pain saving him Mitya would have been a think, pink-red, mist when the Well of Souls hit The Cage, as it was he was merely flung out of time and space . . . .

Speaking of “outside of time and space”, Camillas Bail was exactly there. She’d arranged for a host of help in building her own plane, and everything was going perfectly! It stopped being perfect when the Seed of Evil flowered, and the resulting beam of power shattered her plane to nothing-ness. Only the clever use of a wish allowed her to be plucked up by the beam and thrown at The Cage, and only the Lady of Pain was fast enough (and close enough) to help. Camillas, like Mitya, ended up thrown out of time and space, but she survived!

Rook was blown to bits in a World-Shattering Kaboom! (along with a lot of the world) Thankfully the Raven Queen was around to grab him and rebuild him. She blessed him, remade him, gave him a task (and a sword), and flung him backwards in time. (trusting Sioned to handle the terminal guidance)

Giilos was ready for the end of the World, there were plans in place for it in fact. The plans worked perfectly, and his magic surfed the shock-wave of reality being torn apart plucking his legions out of the House of a Thousand Doors and pulling them back through time alongside himself. In the end the turbulence was too great, and his “sight” far too limited, and his protective shield collapsed scattering his legions and himself into the void.

Sioned was also prepared for the End of the World, she and the Lady of Pain were counting on it. She spoke to the Lady, and was rebuilt by her, into her. She then plucked A’kin, Vaxis, and Njalla and brought them all back through time with her. When Giilos control over his travel was lost she even reached out and grabbed him, at the same time noticing and saving two other travellers (Mitya & Camillas). In the final chaos of the “landing” Njalla, Vaxis, and A’kin were all lost, they’ve landed somewhere “near” (like Giilos’s legions) but no one knows where or when, yet.

The five travellers fall out of the skies into the Cage of a few thousand years ago. The Cage is a wreck, literally. It has been battered and beaten as the Blood War rages across it. All it’s gates open, but only inwards. In a nearby city-square a great battle is setting up between the demons and devils, un-numbered hordes of demons charging across the open space towards their blood-enemies. Caught between the two forces, not too far from the group, are a young Y’larra, Akasha (cradling a baby Alruna in her arms), and Akalabeth (looking largely the same as always). Behind Y’larra stands a huge monster of an Oni bodyguard, a juggernaut of a warrior.

Before the group can do more than speak a few words they are assaulted. Amongst the demonic forces in the Cage are elements of the Waddling Hordes. So it is that a quartet of Nalfeshnee waddle towards them, before bellowing in hunger as they scent Mitya. (halflings are well-known to be THE favorite food of Nalfeshnee) Behind the four goons another Nalfeshnee waits, lurking, he tosses magical bolts and hammers people with psychic powers.

The battle goes well for the heroes. No-one is badly hurt by any of the enemies. In the end the eldest demon is the last one standing, arcane powers at the ready. Rook moves to attack . . .. . and recognizes that this demon is Gabberslug, who in the future saves Rook by judicious judicial action. Rook, backed by the rest of the group once they realize who Gabberslug is, allow him to surrender and depart.

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 58 Rise of the PTC: Shakespeare, Act III

In which our heroes fight off infernal assault, put on a play to catch the conscience of the King, agree to aid Gertrude in smuggling Hamlet away after the murder of Polonius, betray the King’s treachery towards Prince Hamlet, and wait in the cold darkness outside Elsinore for the morning to arrive…..

In the depths of Elsinore our heroes prepare to present a play of Prince Hamlet’s devising to the court that evening. He has explained that in the distant lands you come from this is considered acceptable noble behavior and that the presentation of an ancient tale from your lands is intended to flatter the King and the court. Everyone except Njalla notices the kitchen staff acting quite suspiciously, Njalla is busy working on magical FX for the play, so only the dwarven wizard is surprised when they transform into fiendish forms and attack!

The trio of shocktrooper devils do some pretty nasty things to people. A legion devil manages to pin down Njalla for a time. The passion devil is lamentable ineffective, though some damage does get redirected from one of his targets to another player. Once the shocktroopers start falling it’s soon all over however.

The play itself goes off nearly flawlessly. Njalla’s help in providing historical background for the script pays off. Sioned’s naration, while initially a little flat, improves and is perfection for the final act. Rook even manages a moderately believable performance as the king. But the play is stolen by Giilos portrayal of the treacherous brother, and by Alruna’s decision to go off-script since she could never portray a vile villainous like the character of the queen was written to be in the play. Despite the grand reception by the court in general King Claudius seems horrified, the King actually departs the court in an unseemly rush. Gertrude does reward the players with a gold ring each.

People scatter, most stay to receive the accolades due their performance. However the group is soon called to the Queen’s chambers where they confront her and Prince Hamlet in violent argument. Hamlet has failed to slay the King, who was in prayer when he found him, despite the “proof” of his guilt. However Hamlet HAS slain Polonius, who was in hiding in the Queen’s chambers. (he’s also accused his mother of killing his father) Rook vanishes away, to watch his target, Ophelia.

Gertrude bribes the group to guard Hamlet as she has him smuggled out of Elsinore down to a ship ready to sail for England. Claudius has agreed to write a letter of recommendation to his cousin King Ethelred (the unready) who will return Hamlet when things have cooled down, along with a great treasure as a bribe to the Danes to stop raiding England. The other four sneak out of Elsinore and head for the docks.

Rook follows Ophelia around for a bit, but she does not yet know of her father’s death and is thus not yet mad. The Shadow of the Raven Queen refuses to fall upon her as of yet. As he heads towards her house, after she departs court, he sees the party sneaking out of the castle and down to the docks. He stays on target, until he notices they are being followed. He tails the tails, and finds they take to the fjord in a fast rowing vessel and head out towards the sea, most likely an ambush. He then races for the ship, to warn his friends.

Aboard ship Sioned tries to hold the ship for Rook, but goes below with Prince Hamlet to examine Claudius’s letter. The ship eventually must pull out or miss it’s tide. As it drifts away into the darkness Alruna, Njalla, and Giilos see Rook racing down the dock. He leaps into a dive and hits the water ten feet in, stroking strongly for the ship. Lines are thrown, and he is brought aboard.

Belowdecks, really in a small cabin, Rook helps Sioned open the royal letter without leaving evidence. It is treacherous in nature, and tells Aethelred to kill Hamlet and return his body to the Danes for burial, in return Claudius will forgo the tribute for this year he would otherwise receive.

The group bribes the captain with their five gold rings from Gertrude to set them ashore and “just sail away”. The price is steep, but not unfair given the circumstances. Ashore they plan to return to Elsinore with the King’s letter as further proof of his crimes, and in court accuse him and depose him. (the Queen will be set aside to a nunnery or somesuch) Some preparatory scheming with nobles must take place first.

As they discuss details of the plan, and Rook eyes the woods (as he feels like his time is coming soon), a trio of gladiators and a dark and devilish form approach in the dark. Bursting forth from a nearby hedge of low trees three gladiators and their devilish employer charge to attack!

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 57 Rise of the PTC: Shakespeare, Act II

In which our heroes meet the Queen, negotiate trade agreements with Polonius (and meet the doomed Ophelia), battle ghostly monsters at Hamlet’s side, and aid in his deception of the court.

In the Shadowfell Rook awakes. He has a blurry memory of trying to fend off a demonic bear while a caravan fled. As always seems to be the case his death has attracted Akasha’s attention, she tells him that this time he must exact the price of a life for his life, and says he’ll know who he has to kill when he sees the Raven Queen’s shadow on the target.

She then tells him a tale as his body re-animates. She tells of a bargain between the Raven Queen and Bahamut to ensure that not even death could thwart “Justice”, as a price for her acceptance as a god. An ancient temple provides a gate to the mortal world, if a wronged ghost can fight it’s way to the temple they may return to the world for a time to seek justice. She points out a circle of standing stones, and a battle between a kingly spectre and foul ectoplasmic beasts taking place near a portal. Her magic rushes them to the scene.

At the gates of Castle Elsinore the party awaits the appearance of the ghost of King Hamlet. As he appears spectres also appear, and foul ectoplasmic oozes attempt to restrain the King. Rook also appears, to everyone but Sioned’s surprise, or maybe not so much. Battle ensues! Horatio and Marcellus fight nobly at Hamlet’s side, who charges the beast restraining his father’s ghost, but do little more than hold a battle line. Sioned and the party concentrate on the spectral oozes, which divide on being wounded. After a time Giilos moves to support the prince who rushes through the gate to the Shadowfell to speak with his father. By the time the sun rises Hamlet has returned to the world and everyone now knows the ghost’s tale of treachery and murder.

Hamlet exacts terrible oaths from everyone.

Through the morning Polonius and the PTC group bargain over trade agreements. It’s clear some potential exists, but will probably require the aid of the House of Rhea to facilitate since it will be bulk naval cargoes by planar-geographical necessity. During the negotiations Alruna and Ophelia spend some time together, and seem to become friends. Rook notices Ophelia is draped in shadows, shadows that feel like raven’s feathers, and correctly deduces he must kill her when the time is right. (which it is not yet)

Later that afternoon Sioned meets with the Queen. She, Alruna, and Njalla are permitted into the Queen’s chambers while she has a moment between events. The men are kept outside as the Queen only has the time while she changes her clothes with her handsmaids. The Queen warns the women that Hamlet seems to be going mad, but Sioned and Alruna convince Gertrude that Hamlet is merely besotted with Ophelia and is driven to distraction. The Queen seems to buy it. Njalla is obstreperous, but fails to royally piss off the Queen. Rook takes the time to go look over the house of Polonius, not quite casing it since he never gets inside. Giilos wanders the court briefly, before settling in to watch Prince Hamlet put on a show as he acts madly.

Rook and Giilos return to the waiting room outside the Queen’s chambers with a note from Hamlet for Sioned, via Marcellus. He arranges to meet with them clandestinely to discuss a plan. At the meeting, in an out-of-the-way corridor of Elsinore, Hamlet details how he’s been acting mad to draw out the King and Queen and gain freedom of action. But he needs proof, to convince the court of the King’s guilt. He has arranged to have a play put on, and as a performer he expects Sioned and her people to do it, the plot is cunningly arranged as a parable of Claudius’s murder of King Hamlet in the garden. If the player’s play their parts well enough he is sure Claudius will betray himself, and thus give away the game.

The “players” depart Hamlet, to a room deep in Castle Elsinore where they may practice and rehearse. Unbeknownst to them infernal forces are mobilizing against them, and soon will come to a head. Asmodeus’s agent has no intent of letting all her schemes to take over the Daneland come to naught because of some interloping planar agent . . .. .

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 56 Rise of the PTC: Shakespeare, Act I

Following some paperwork and wrap-up debriefing by Mikos and Estevan everyone departs the cage for a bit. Giilos takes a bit to think about it, and about how far along Mikos is in his research and comes along for the ride. Nothing important happens as the group travels The Land for a few months.

(Oh, Rook does get killed gruesomely during caravan duty down near Plague Mort, the gate-town to the Abyss. It goes something like, “Exeunt Rook, stage left, pursued by a {demonic} bear!”, followed by gruesome sound effects from off-stage and a closed-casket funeral for what isn’t eaten. Because Quentin Tarentino I’m not.)

So after nothing important happens our four heroes find themselves wandering the deep forest near Tradegate. They are going to see Sylvith, who will open a gate to a distant land for them. Estevan wishes to re-establish trade to this kingdom, it has been some time since he sent goods to and from there and he hopes there might be profit around.

The four heroes make their way through the dense underbrush, peering through pea-soup-thick fog, and approach Sylvith’s hut at the base of the World’s Tree. As they approach they see three figures, Njalla hangs back watchfully as the others come closer. The three figures call out as Sioned approaches, hailing her as (first) “Thane of the Thousand Doors”, then as “Daughter of Tradegate”, and finally as “Lady who Was and Will Be.”

It would seem Sylvith keeps interesting company for, though no one recognizes her, the demon-lady present is in fact the Lady Y’larra and the third figure is the Fury (un-named by anyone) Alecto. Speaking with a Divine Voice the fury Alecto charges Sioned to avenge for her a crime most foul, and set aside the otherwise grievous consequences this act would entail. Not accustomed to refusing gods to their face, and perhaps suspecting Estevan’s is colluding with the god (which would be accurate), Sioned agrees to right whatever wrong has aroused the Furies to action. The three “hags”, technically only Sylvith is a hag though the other two are surely terrifyingly inhuman in their own ways, then send Sioned and her companions to The World’s Tree where they have opened a gate.

There is an odd aside as Lady Y’larra asks after Alruna in what seems to be an oddly affectionate manner. She claims to have known Alruna’s mother, and misses her. Y’larra goes so far as to ask Alruna to give her good will to her mother should she see her again, and tell her that Y’larra continues to wait patiently for the time to come when that will happen.

Exiting the gate the four plane-travellers appear in a beshadowed corner, near a guard-post before a great castle’s battlements. As they watch two guards meet, and greet each other as liegemen of “The Dane”. Challenged, the group declares that they come in peace and seek to speak with the king, Bernado and his companion allow them their arms but charge them to await the arrival of their officers.

From in the town surrounding the castle come two gentlemen, Marcellus and Horatio. They speak with Sioned, and agree to examine her case more closely and perhaps convey them to the royal family if such is suitable, but first all must await the dawn for they are here upon a mission. The previous night a ghostly figure did appear, and Horatio and Marcellus have come to see if it will re-appear and what it’s will is.

Almost upon these words a ghostly feeling arises, the hair upon people’s necks rises, as the Shadowfell becomes closer to the world. A ghostly portal opens, and within the living can see a noble, kingly, ghost struggling mightily with spectral figures. He strives to reach the living, and the dead strive to prevent him doing so. Remarking it is the old king Marcellus and Horatio draw swords, specters appear to confront the mortals and battle ensues.

One of the guards is slain outright, burned to death by spectral flames. Bernardus, Marcellus, and Horatio are all wounded in the fight despite the officers liberal use of inspiring words. When the fight is over and their wounds tended the three will awake, Horatio (head in Alruna’s lap, as she has been tending his wounds) makes some flip comment about how he’d never encompassed such beauty as hers in his philosophies. (over the rest of the day it will become apparent that Horatio is somewhat stricken with his nurse)

Thinking of the ghost first, and Sioned’s trade mission (which has several oddities involved in it), Marcellus charges the group not to speak of what they have seen until the prince of the Danes (son of the ghost in question) is told of things and can evaluate the situation, people agree. The four, plus Marcellus and Horatio, then proceed to the house of a noble man. There they stand around for a bit while Polonius acts the pompous windbag that he is. While they wait they are introduced to Prince Hamlet, who is most interested in pursuing information about both trade and the ghost, but also charges them to speak to none of the ghost until he has investigated it himself the following morning.

Polonius proves, in a quite locquacious manner, to be very interested in trade and after brief conversation on the topic agrees to meet with Sioned over more details later. (he is the King’s seneschal) Later in the day the Queen, Gertrude, is introduced to the group but is too busy to do more than desire them to attend upon her the following day when she hopes to have to speak at more length with them.

The first act ends (unlike the canonical play) just prior to the next morning. Upon the dark, cold, and windy, battlements of Elsinore we set our pieces: Hamlet, Sioned, and their companions Alruna, Horatio, Njalla, Marcellus, and Giilos. As the wind whips chills up and down the spines of all mortals so foolish as to be abroad on such a night a ghostly light begins to appear . . . .

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Run 55 Rise of the PTC: The MacGuffin, pt. III

The fight with the astral giants is no cakewalk. But Njalla’s use of a stinking cloud turns the tide in the end despite the warpsword’s teleportation powers. After all three warpswords die in a single turn the, mostly undamaged, javelineer flies away and retreats once out of sight.

When the Blue Wheel Clan returns there are some acrimonious moments. Alruna’s obvious allegiance to Erathis combined with the astral giants use of her name lead Jovail to first implore the group to help the clans of Shom (which Sioned blows off as not relevant to her mission), and then to accuse Alruna and Sioned of spying for Erathis. The two groups part on less than friendly, though not openly hostile, terms.

Again Sioned tries to summon the giant eagles, once the Blue Wheel Clan departs with their dead, but again she is interrupted. The ground begins to shake and people are convinced that something is burrowing upwards from underground. The party quickly marches away towards the hills the are between them and their exit point. Behind them, Serakith (a lich in Vecna’s service) and undead forces arise from the sand as their magic opens a route to the surface.

Marching over dunes Alruna, watching behind them, sees what looks like a flying black road approach. On the road are several undead, it “lands” on the other side of a low dune from the party. On contact with the earth the road vanishes in a burst of necrotic magic that turns a sixty-foot diameter circle of sand pure black, everyone decides that perhaps the party shouldn’t walk on the circle.

The battle with Serakith and her ghouls is nasty. Alruna tangles with an abyssal ghoul as she clears the dune’s ridgeline. Rook tries to clear the ridgeline but is stopped by a ghoul devourer, and then is hammered by Serakith’s magics and combined fire from the remnants of several weaker liches that are under her command, he drops. Njalla and Alruna take some hammering from the lich remnants, and nearly drop as well. But in the end the ghouls are slain, and following them several of the liches fall. Serakith is the last to fall, and as she evaporates (to reform from her phylactery back in her lair) she swears that neither she nor Vecna will forget this affront and promises divine (and arcane) vengeance to the party.

Thus endeth the run.

Following another short rest Sioned will finally succeed in summoning the giant eagles, and the group will fly back to the portal to the Cage without further interruption. On arrival in Sigil there is a bit of a staredown with the Lady of Pain when the group first steps into the streets of the Cage, but no bystanders are slain by her shadow so “no harm, no foul”, right?

(Estevan will take the bones, and reward everyone with gifts of magic and coin. He’ll be happy to evade questions at the start of the next run. . . . .)

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Run 54 Rise of the PTC: The MacGuffin, pt. II

Guarding the entrance to the tower that contains the Library of Kas are a force of angels. Veteran angels of valor move up to engage the players, backing them angels of protection guard an angel of battle, all show the heraldry and marks of their allegiance to Vecna openly. The angel of battle, and some angels of protection, push past the party front lines and engage Njalla and Sioned, Alruna holds some back, but in the end the battle goes to the heroes.

Exiting up a back staircase the party enters the library proper. Within they discover more signs that time has been stopped inside of the tower. They also discover that the library is twisted up in time and space, and that navigating it is not an easy task. After hours of evaluation and searching Njalla manages to decipher the patterns of the library enough to progress the party up to the uppermost level, where they find a secret door with a stair leading upwards.

The stair proves to be trapped, and turns into a slippery slide that deposits everyone back down in the library again. Rook takes several tries to climb back up to the trap, but fails to disarm it. Eventually he succeeds in progressing to the top and eats poisoned arrows as he opens the door at the top of the stairs. The poison fails to slay him, as do the arrows themselves, and eventually he and Alruna succeed in hauling the rest of the group up with ropes.

Atop the stairs the group finds themselves in a finely appointed set of private rooms. As in the library time is clearly being held in abeyance; candles have not burned down and even the water in the bath is still hot. Another staircase leads them further upwards, to a magical laboratory.

In the lab they discover the inter-planar nexus in question. It appears to be a gateway in constant flux that is held together by powerful magic centered in a pyramidal object that glows to brightly to get a clear view of. They loot various notes and books from the lab, and grab a portrait from the quarters below that they believe is Kas. In the end, after more examination and taking of notes, they decide to grab the nexus engine at the center of the gate when Giilos notices that a portal is beginning to form. (they fear that Vecna has noticed their work and they don’t relish what might be sent at them)

The nexus engine proves to be a set of six long bones. When removed from the gateway it collapses, and the magic holding back time from the tower begins to collapse as well. The party flees the tower as it falls apart around them. (later examination will reveal that the portrait and all the books/notes they took have also fallen to dust as time catches them up)

Hours of work clearing rubble and sand away finally allow the party to break through to the surface after the tower’s fall collapses their original entrance to the ruins. They take a short rest and then prepare to summon the giant eagles for a return flight to their exit portal. They are interrupted by a group of tribal humans who come upon them mid-ritual. Jovail seems a competent leader and commands the “Blue Wheel Clan”, as they call themselves. The group and the clan share food and water, and talk. (mostly of how the clans have been vanishing unexpectedly) The group passes on to the Blue Wheel Clan word of the new entrance to the ruins below, which the clan plans to explore more in the future.

Suddenly a gate opens near the encamped parties. Giants, armed and armored as a civilized nation, burst out of the gate and with a bellowed “In the name of Erathis cleanse the rebel scum!” charge into battle!

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 53 Rise of the PTC: The MacGuffin, pt. I

In the House of a Thousand Doors Sioned, Rook, Alruna, and Njalla meet with Estevan and a pair of spellslingers. Mikos is a well respected wizard specializing in portals and inter-planar magics, his apprentice of some time Giilos is a more physically oriented “blast ’em” sort. Mikos and Estevan are engaged in attempting to create an inter-planar nexus and Estevan has agreed to support Mikos and Giilos’s work. Sioned is to accompany Giilos to Shom, and there research an existant inter-planar nexus in the Library of Kas. They are to take various readings, nab any books/notes, and steal anything particularly useful to Mikos and Estevan from the ruins.

On the way to the Friendly Fiend to purchase a gate-key from Akin they fall afoul of a street gang of githyanki bent on extorting passers-by. The fight is not particularly notable, except perhaps as an indication that no trip in Sigil is to be viewed as safe or a “sure-thing”.

Akin bargains with the group, he seems more partial to Sioned but again it’s remarkable that he seems immune to her otherwise considerable charms. He sells them a key to a gate in the undercity of the Cage, the entrance to which is near the Trianon in the Lady’s Ward. He also bargains with them, offering to reward them if they can bring him a portrait of Kas from the library.

Before departing the Cage the group decides to research Shom a bit more, hoping to determine if the gate they have a key for is anywhere near the Library of Kas. (and if it isn’t to work on finding out how to locate in once they arrive in Shom) For a purely nominal fee (for Sioned’s purse at least) they buy access to a private library housed in the Explorer’s Society of Jalefina (Jalefina is a prime somewhere). It indicates that the Library of Kas was once found in a city that lies just a few day’s travel over some badlands from the gate in question.

Satisfied with their route the party proceeds to the undercity and opens the gate, with a small silver statue sold them by Akin. In Shom Sioned quickly casts some travel rituals and the group takes to the skies, soaring over the low dunes and hills. Searching out the ruined city proves to be exhausting work as the desert heat and sun take their tolls on people’s endurance. After half a day’s search they locate ruins half-buried in the sands of Shom. Hours of hard work digging away sand and stone result in a passage down a ruined tower to a buried complex of half-collapsed rooms and passages. Njalla manages to decipher several runic inscriptions that lead the party to the tower that once housed the Library of Kas, but it takes Rook’s clever fingers to pick the lock on the massive steel doors that lead into the tower.

Thus endeth the session

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Run 52 Rise of the PTC: False Fronts, pt. III

Having returned to Tradegate the group now splits up. Master Pizarro tells people he has found that Ioun’s library in Hestavar likely contains useful information of the creatures from the Far Realm that are attacking the PTC. Njalla immediately heads out to look into it for him, Alruna accompanies her as a guide and guard.

Meanwhile Sioned and Rook depart for Sum of All after informing Master Trader Duncam of the possible deal regarding shields, Rigus, and Havelek. He agrees to pass the information on to Melina, who will find a way to make the trade route work if it’s possible. Sioned then buys herself and Rook passage on a ship coasting along the shore line anti-spinward.

A few days travel has them departing the ship in the town of Darel Sun, and the mouth of the River Ma’at. Three days of relatively uneventful barging up the Ma’at have them reaching the mouth of the river at the sea of Tir Fo Thuinn. From there it’s a quick sacrifice to Mananan Mac Lir and the peope who live under the waves of Tir Fo Thuinn to the other side, and then a quick hike over hills to the city Sum of All.

In Sum of All Sioned seeks out an expert on draconic matters to help her with the approach to Varsivoraax. Kalika is a tall and dark-skinned human, and an expert on dragons. He tells her and Rook the tale of “Lord Io and the Seeds of Evil” and how the Spire was created in the early days of the world. He explains how the dragon kingdom is at the base of the spire as a result of this story. Somewhat more informed Sioned and Rook set out from Sum of All, heading In towards the Spire and the kingdom of the dragons.

Several days pass as they navigate The Land and approach the Spire. A few days away from the Spire they first encounter sign of the Dragon Kingdom in the form of a patrol of kobolds that they handily avoid. However overflights of dragons spot them and direct another patrol towards them.

The next day a patrol of 15 dragonborn stop Sioned and Rook. They explain their purpose, and Charask (the leader of the patrol) agrees to take them in to the “city” of Sivariss, though he believes their mission impossible. As everyone beds down that evening Rook and some of the dragonborn spar, Rook does fairly well and impresses the patrol with his skills.

In Sivariss they are brought before Charask’s master, a young red dragon named Altair. Altair outright forbids Sioned or Rook to even approach Varsivoraax. Sioned and Rook assert that they will speak with the ancient dragon and that Altair has no place in things. (assertions, not negotiations, seem to be the way of the dragons) Altair and Sioned agree that neither is going to back down and arrange a duel to resolve the conflict.

The duel is setting up in the great Speaking Bowl (a huge open meadow in a low valley which the dragons use like an auditorium) when a huge silver dragon named Nicosidia lands and forbids the duel. He says that today is a holy day and no blood may be spilled in this manner in Sivariss. He forces the duelists and spectators through a gate to a lightly wooded meadow where they can fight and not offend tradition.

The duel is over quickly. Altair, while bigger than both other combatants combined, lacks the skill and experience needed to even land a shot regularly. He gets in a lucky hit, but is quickly bloodied and forced to withdraw from the challenge.

Nicosidia steps forward, metaphorically, and objects to Sioned waking Varsivoraax. His objections lie in prophecy, not pride, it is said that Varsivoraax will wake but twice more before he rises a third time at the end of the world. Sioned isn’t thrilled at the apocalyptic news but sticks to her guns. Another duel is fought, this time between a golem created by Nicosidia and the pair of “man-things”. This fight is much harder, even Nicosidia’s proxy (the golem) is tough. Sioned is dropped in the fight and nearly dies, though Nicosidia heals her with a prayer to Bahamut as soon as Rook finishes off the golem.

He then flies them both up the spire some distance and into the mouth of a gigantic cave. The stench of dragon fills the air. Nicosidia bows out of going further into the great dragon’s lair and curls up at the entrance to await whatever happens to Sioned and Rook. They both begin to enter the lair.

Varsivoraax’s lair is another test of greed for those who enter it. Scattered across the floor are piles of gold and silver, magic items are strewn about, and lying atop it all (with hindquarters luxuriating in the heat of a lava pool) is a massive red dragon. When Sioned approaches Varsivoraax scents the air, and wakes.

Varsivoraax seems to believe himself indebted to Sioned, and readily agrees to give her the Heart Bone as a down payment on that debt. He tells her he doesn’t have it himself though, three hags snuck in and stole it decades ago, he followed their scent to the Well of the Moon, but has not yet reclaimed it. He says he’s pleased to see Sioned one more time before the world ends, and then goes back to sleep.

Nicosidia doesn’t seem surprised when the two emerge, clearly he’s heard everything that went on inside. He flies the pair down the Spire and into Sivariss. In the great Speaking Bowl he orders Altair to fly the two to the Well of the Moon and help retrieve the Heart Bone.

You would think that the journey would make a story of it’s own, but when a flight of dragons (Altair doesn’t really trust Sioned and Rook not to kill him if he flies them out alone) drop a pair of adventurers (paragons of their professions no less) even a trio of magical hags will readily give up a not-so-prized possession rather than risk their lives (and prophecy) in battle.

Sioned and Rook return to Tradegate to return the Heart Bone to Estevan.

Thus endeth the story.

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Run 51 Rise of the PTC: False Fronts, pt. II

In Sum of All Njala has been doing research for Estevan, seeking the “Heart of Bone”. In the course of her work in the Library of Mirrors she finds herself working closely with Master Plo. Together they determine that the Heart is most likely possessed by an ancient wizard by the name of Akalabeth. Immediately, on exiting the Library, Njalla is accosted by Estevan. Together they send word to Sioned to use her scroll, opening a gate from her location to a safe circle in Sum of All that Estevan knows, Njalla goes through to join Sioned.

She informs Sioned that the contract to fill is but a ploy, designed to conceal Sioned’s true activity. Sioned is to return the Heart of Bone to Estevan. (the letter Estevan gave Sioned when she left Tradegate, with instructions not to open it until Havelek, says much the same)

Nonetheless the four proceed onwards to Havelek, and Sioned pursues her cover-story by asking around about the shields. Her questions attract official notice however, and a young shifter (Lt. Sheearnow) brings her to the Castle. There she speaks with an agent of Duke Myaravan, agent Nyar interrogates Sioned about her mission to Havelek and about Rigus. In the end he decides that moving an army from Rigus to Havelek isn’t terribly feasible, and says that if she wishes to pursue the issue further the Duke would be happy to help her out. As she’s carrying 75,000 gold in “walking around money” it’s clear there’s some profit to be made if delivery to Rigus can be made in a manner which does not expose Havelek’s involvement.

After departing the city and going to the mausoleum containing passage to the Shadowfell Rook swims down the pool linking the two worlds. Emerging from the icy waters into the cave in the Shadowfell he secures a rope to help the others pass through. The noise attracts attention however, and as the party dries themselves off a pride of vampires attacks. The lesser spawn fall fairly easily, but the night-witches prove quite dangerous and the Mistress Vampire manages to escape the group.

Outside the cave people prepare to move on as quickly as possible, fearing a return of the Mistress Vampire with new allies to help her. Sioned summons Phantom Steeds to speed them towards Akalabeth’s tower. However the dark, Shadowfell, night proves too difficult to navigation and morning finds our heroes still a good distance from The Black Tower.

After an exhausting ride they reach The Black Tower and speak with Akalabeth. She’s in a fair mood, and doesn’t threaten to eat anyone. Akalabeth agrees to help, in return for oaths that they will save the life of her sister at some point in the future. She tells them that she lent the Heart to an old friend some time ago.

Thus it is that Akalabeth directs them to seek out the dragon Varsivoraax. They are to ask him to give the Heart to them instead of returning it to her in the future. Akalabeth then sells them a scroll to open a planar portal, and the reagents to fuel the spell, and the four bamf back to the warded circle in Master Pizarro’s House in Tradegate.

In Tradegate Pizarro tells them he knows of Varsivoraax. He is an ancient dragon, from early in the history of The Land, and is fearsomely dangerous. He’s the sort of red dragon who when awoken changes the world, kingdoms have fallen when his wings shadowed them. Pizarro returns them to Sum of All again, for the dragon lairs on The Spire itself. From Sum of All the group can set out to climb The Spire and seek the lair of Varsivoraax.

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 50 Rise of the PTC: False Fronts, pt. I

Month’s pass. Pieter departs for Port Liberty. Njalla goes to Sum of All, doing research for Master Pizarro. Rook returns for a time to the Dustmen. Meanwhile Alruna and Sioned pal around The Land doing busy-work, and making profits.

After a time Rook, Sioned, Alruna, and Estevan meet up once again in Tradegate. Estevan has an old map he wishes Sioned to investigate, it is a planar map showing a three-jump route from Rigus to Havelek. Estevan gives Sioned the map, and a scroll, and tells her that she is to fill a contract for the Rigan legions in Havelek, to whit she is to get 25,000 large shields from there. The shield will equip new Rigan legions for the upcoming campaign against Ribcage, and if the route to Havelek is viable the pricing could be profitable. (as Havelek works in metals and wood and should be able to produce the shields) He also arranges transport via a linked portal to a warded circle in the PTC house in Rigus.

The four heroes depart Rigus post-haste, barely taking time to ask the locals about the Cave of Allegria where the first portal is. They are told it was the lair of a powerful witch, who lived atop a nearby mountain some time ago. At the base of Mt. Iaor the group assesses the climb before beginning the ascent to search for the cave. The ascent proves treacherous, if not for her winged boots Alruna would surely have fallen to her death. Within the cave is a large archway, it takes Sioned some hours to work out the proper incantation to activate the portal, after which the group passes through.

They emerge into a mountainous realm, a new prime. As they follow the map to the next gate they pass through several valleys, deeply shadowed and rich in vegetation. In one of the valleys they must fight off a troop of trolls, which while not particularly dangerous is made quite a bit longer by the lack of fire damage in the group. Finally they find the circle of standing stones the map shows, and pass out of the “Mountain World”.

Emerging into a “River World”, also a new prime, Sioned immediately casts Eagle’s Flight. The soaring wings of the summoned giant eagles make easy work of the journey, what would have been many days by boat is behind everyone in the course of several hours. Descending to an island of mounded, black, earth, they begin investigating ruins for the portal. As they work on the obelisk, to open the gate, a drow raiding party assaults them. They slay, or drive off, the drow and vanish from “River World”.

The four emerge into a bright dawn atop a hill near a wide road. The road proceeds for a while and enters and then emerges from the city of Havelek.

Thus endeth the session.

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