Players Present: Johnna, Morgan, Craig, Scott, Tod
Arolan was attending to Arwi during this session
It's a beautiful place to be, the Crystal Castle of Dusk. The sun perpetually casts a warm glow all around.
Rune is taken to be resurrected. Arwi's birth is proceeding with difficulty and Runty was trying to help her. Physicians come to help her. Runty wants to go with Arwi but the physicians insist that he has helped but they are more qualified and prepared to deal with her current touch-and-go situation.
The Queen of Dusk approaches Project Mayhem and congratulates them. "Well done brave and noble warriors. You have fulfilled your task – but even graver dangers lay before you. You know of the situation in Thrane. A dangerous revolutionary is on the loose and the situation there is poor. The Karrnath troops will withdraw, eventually but, to help Kaius, I have one favor to ask of you." She shifts her arms and brings forward an extremely thin sheet of rock, almost like a scroll, upon which are strange runes. Shanti and Calliope recognize the writing as draconic. Even more than that, it is actually part of the Draconic Prophecy.
"This is a message of great significance," says the Queen. "I do not know what it says but I am certain that it will help solidify all of Khorvaire. I want you to take it to King Kaius the Third and translate it for him."
As a member of Kaius' Privy Council, Shanti offers to carry the scroll.
Runty walks up to Shanti and gives her a big hug.
"I also ask," continues the Queen, "that you stay together until this message is delivered to King Kaius, even though you have differing immediate goals. The situation in Thrane is quite dire. You decide how best to proceed and I will help you as I can. I cannot again teleport you into Kaius' castle, but I can teleport you to the capital of Thrane or the capital of Karrnath."
The adventurers agree to deliver the prophecy to Kaius and then deal with the situation in Thrane.
Pleased, the Queen states, "You have my libraries at your disposal to help you decipher the Prophecy."
Runty asks if he can use the library to search for information about how to locate an item of great power that will allow him to see the truth behind any situation. He is frustrated by false kings, doppelgangers, lies, and all manner of deception.
The Queen snaps her fingers and a tome flies down to her. She hands the tome to Runty. "Please read this." she says. "It will take longer than you want but, as you read through it, you will find something to help you discern the truth from lies. Now, please focus on translating this scroll."
Runty goes to read his book. Shanti begins performing a Comprehend Languages ritual. Phaedra ponders everything that has happened.
Shanti completes her ritual and translates the scroll:
Those who seek the Shattered Souls
Under the light of Storm's bright moon
When the Twilight Forest is at its nearest
Shall turn barren lands into spring's first blossoming
Shanti focuses her impressive intellect into deciphering the references of this piece of Draconic Prophecy. She's certain the Twilight Forest being referred to is not the Fey Wild. Calliope, who reveals her true name of Janalla DeNalia Dusk, draws upon her knowledge of things arcane and understands that the Prophecy is referring to a plane named Lamannia, an angelic domain of the Astral Sea. Shanti recalls that there is an entry to Lamannia somewhere near Dreadhold.
Shanti believes that the Twilight Forest will be 'at its nearest' when the planes are coterminous. With a little more research, Shanti determines that Lamannia and the Material Plane will be nearest to each other in five weeks to the day.
Runty perks up at the talk of 'storms' and tries to remember something from all the folktales he's heard. While talking it out, Runty instead thinks that he might know something about the 'barren lands' and 'Shattered Souls' but he has to think about it a little more.
Janalla recalls that 'Storm's bright moon' refers to Zarantyr, the moon associated with the Mark of Storm.
Crusher tries to help Runty make sense of the reference to 'Shattered Souls'. They realize that the reference is to souls trapped in a structure, a labyrinth, known as the Maze of Shattered Souls. Phaedra tries to understand the reference to the 'barren lands' and understands that Karrnath is barren, their agriculture is poor, and would want to take arable land from Thrane (hence the invasion). It becomes apparent that if Karrnath were to become fertile then there would be no more reason for the incursion into Thrane, and that would go very far towards stabilizing Khorvaire and avoiding another Last War.
Janalla puts all the pieces together, "If we seek the Shattered Souls under the light of the moon when Lamannia is closest, then Karrnath will become fertile." She also makes a copy of the prophecy to keep with her.
Shanti informs the Queen of Dusk that this portion of the Draconic Prophecy is sufficiently deciphered and ready to be delivered to King Kaius in Karrnath. The Queen is pleased. She waves her hand and Project Mayhem begins to dissipate.
Janalla, Shanti, Runty, Phaedra and Crusher find themselves obviously on the Material Plane and looking at a castle surrounded by farms. They are on a road leading to the castle.
A little girl comes up to Runty and asks him why he's so tall.
"What are you?" says Runty.
"What race are you?"
"Looks can be deceiving. What do you want?"
"I want to know why you're so tall?"
"I'm not tall."
It's evident that Runty is extremely distrustful now, even of little girls. To ease the tension, Crusher asks the little girl for her name.
"Jayellen," she says. "You should see my Uncle Tom. He's really tall. He lives down there by the lake."
"Is your name really Jayellen?" asks Runty with a scowl.
Then a woman calls out for Jayellen to leave the adventurers alone. "I guess I need to be going now," says Jayellen. Crusher gives her a silver piece as she leaves. Runty and Janalla aren't happy with Crusher for doing that.
Continuing towards the castle, the band crosses a footbridge over a babbling stream and are stopped at the gates by guards with their halberds crossed. They ask to see everyone's identification papers. Everyone presents their papers and are allowed to pass through without incident to the town inside the walls.
There are smithies, bakeries, and temples to the Sovereign Host. The group decides to first find accommodations, and do so without much trouble. Their inn has a large common room with a single stairwell leading to rooms upstairs. There's lots of dancing, and lard.
The group decides to seek out a temple. They find one and there isn't anything happening there. In fact, the prior is napping. Phaedra wakes the prior in order to ask him if he knows how to get a message to the king. "Well," he says, "I don't have the King's ear, if that's what you mean. A messenger wouldn't do any good, as he'd be stopped at the gate anyway."
Runty then asks the prior if there's anyone who could help him read the book given to him by the Queen of Dusk. "I don't have much of a staff but I'd be happy to help you," says the prior. "Sit down." Then the prior takes down a primer from a nearby shelf, sits next to Runty, and starts to tutor him.
Crusher and Janalla go to talk to the castle guard and present their credentials. They ask the guards to pass along Project Mayhem's whereabouts to the King and, if the King desires, to summon them at the His leisure.
As Runty is receiving his lesson, a curly haired girl comes into the temple. She kneels down and begins a prayer. Runty notices her and asks the prior about her. The prior says that he doesn't know much about the girl except that she's a Halfling who has some trouble getting along with her parents.
On the way back from the castle, Crusher sees one of the largest warforged he's ever laid eyes on. He's clearly looking through the crowd trying to find someone when he spots Crusher. He comes over to Crusher and gives him a friendly greeting. Then he asks Crusher if he is looking for work. Crusher says no, but offers to help out, if it can be done quickly. The large 'forged then lays out his story.
He has a really easy job that he's had for awhile, and it pays really well, but he's tired of doing it. He explains, "I watch out for a girl with over-protective parents. The parents are big muckety-mucks in the dragonmarked healing house, Jorasco. Both of them are very well-respected members of the house and they expect their daughter to someday develop a dragonmark, but that hasn't happened yet. She wanted to travel and see the world but her parents wanted her to stay put so they hired me to protect her, be her bodyguard, make sure she's not taken, check her for a dragonmark a couple of times a day…anyway, she's run away from me again. I'm just tired of tracking her down."
Janalla asks for a description.
"She has a baby doll kind of face and curly hair."
Janalla says she thinks she saw a girl fitting that description going towards the temple where they left Runty and Phaedra.
The large 'forged opens his chest and takes out a little clockwork bird, a homunculus. "Keep this with you," he says. "Look after the girl and you'll receive 50 gold pieces a month."
Crusher admonishes Warhammer, as the larger warforged is named, for giving up his duties so lightly and to a complete stranger. Crusher accepts the job and sends the messenger bird to the Halfling's parents with a detailed description of what just transpired. Crusher and Janalla head back to the temple to meet up with Runty and Phaedra. Janalla gives Crusher some hope that his new charge might be at the temple.
Meanwhile, having finished his lesson, Runty moves next to the curly haired Halfling and kneels down to pray alongside her. The Halfling glances sidelong at Runty and seems slightly relieved at seeing him there.
"What's your name?" asks Runty.
The Halfling responds, "Who wants to know?"
Runty says, "Well, I do. That's why I asked."
"Well," responds the Halfling, "what's your name?"
"I asked you first."
"Who sent you here?"
Phaedra intercedes and explains that she and Runty came to the temple on their own business.
"My name is Sauda d'Jorasco."
"You just said your name is Whosentyouhere?"
Before the Halfling can respond, she spots Crusher and Janalla enter the temple. As they do, the little clockwork messenger lands on Crusher's shoulder, a small parchment rolled-up and attached to its leg. Crusher detaches the parchment from the messenger and gingerly places the homunculus into a drawer that slides out of his chest. The message welcomes Crusher to his new duty and has a note good for 50 gold pieces.
Looking around, Crusher sees the Halfling female. "Is your name Jorasco?" he asks.
She stands up, adopts a proud manner, and says that is indeed her name. "So?" she challenges.
"Well," says Crusher, "Warhammer has given his duties over to me."
"You mean the warforged they hired to follow me around? My parents won't see you as a human, you know. They'll think they own you because they pay you."
"Now, I don't want you to see me as an enemy. I want to be more like a friend. Let's get to know each other. Tell me your side of the story."
"My side of the story is that I like to be left alone. I want to heal people and live my life without being harassed, thank you. I don't want to be checked constantly for a dragonmark that isn't going to appear. I don't care if both my parents have one – and you can tell them I said so."
"I'm sure they've heard this all before."
Phaedra comes into the conversation at this point saying, "Well, you know what? Maybe you could have the best of both worlds. Crusher could look out for you and you could join us on our adventures."
"That's a great idea, Phaedra!" says Crusher. To Sauda he says, "Our adventuring party is a good group. We travel a lot and try to set things right and battle evil. We run into a lot of trouble and could use a healer."
"Well," says Sauda, "there's another thing. I can't go to Sharn. That's my home; where my parents live. And I don't want to kill. I heal."
"Trust us," says Phaedra, "you'll have plenty of chances to heal."
Runty asks for a demonstration of Sauda's healing power. Janalla takes a dagger and slices her hand with a deep gash. Sauda has no problem healing the wound.
"We're staying at an inn nearby where they do a lot of dancing. Would you care to join us?" Crusher asks Sauda, who agrees. On the way back to the inn, Phaedra starts telling Sauda about Project Mayhem's travels. Phaedra starts off, "We just got back from the Fey Wild…"
Upon returning to the inn, the innkeeper gives Janalla a letter inscribed on golden parchment from King Kaius. It contains writs for everyone in Project Mayhem allowing them access to most areas of the castle.
"Wait for us here," says Phaedra to Sauda.
"Or," says Crusher, "just leave word where we can meet with you later."
Janalla says in a critical tone, "I'm glad to be done with this place." She heads towards the door.
Project Mayhem goes to the castle and gains entry easily with their new papers. They are taken to where court is being held, a lavishly decorated ballroom. Kaius rises and introduces Shanti and Crusher to his court, "These two have come to help us resolve the situation of Thrane, with whom hostilities have broken out. I have dismissed my old Privy Council and these two are of the first appointed to my new Privy Council. I ask for privacy and these two shall remain."
After the courtiers depart, King Kaius says, "My friends it is good to see you. How fare thee?"
Crusher says, "It is well to see you, King. How are things progressing?"
"Slowly," responds Kaius. "It is hard to get my generals to see the reasoning behind my decision to withdraw from Thrane. They are insistent that we have an advantage that should be pursued for going forward and gaining more land in Thrane. They are correct, quite frankly, in their assessment of the situation and it's hard for me to find a reason to tell them why it is not logical to proceed into Thrane."
"Then it is by good fortune that we arrive here today," says Crusher. "We have information that will provide you that reason."
Shanti takes out the impossibly thin stone scroll and presents it to Kaius who says, "My word, is this part of the Draconic Prophecy?"
"Yes, yes it is," says Shanti, aflutter. "It was exhilarating to discover it and decipher it. We had to use all these books and it's written in Draconic." Shanti talks excitedly for awhile as Kaius examines the scroll.
"What does it say?" asks Kaius.
Shanti reads the Prophecy aloud.
"I see. How very intriguing. How very informative." says Kaius. "What does it mean?"
Shanti explains that the 'Barren Lands' are Karrnath. The 'Shattered Souls' refers to the labyrinth in the Demon Wastes. The 'twilight forest' refers to Lamannia and that will be 'at its nearest' when Lamannia and this plane are coterminous, which is five weeks exactly from today. 'Storm's bright moon' refers to Zarantyr, the moon associated with the Mark of Storm. The generals will not be so eager for battle when they see their homeland become fertile and prosperous.
"I need Crusher or Shanti to stay with me here. The rest of your band, I beg of you to go forth into the Demon Wastes and seek these shattered souls."
"If I may, I would like to stay here," says Shanti. "I have seen enough of the wide world and not always has good come of it."
"Very well. The rest of you should be on your way. Four weeks will be just enough time to reach the Demon Wastes. I must speed you on your way. Go forth on your mission. I have many diplomats to meet with and foreign relations to address."
Crusher says, "May you find the strength of Dol Dorn within to accomplish your goals."
Before departing the castle, Project Mayhem pays a visit to the library in order to do some research about their next destination, the Demon Wastes. Crusher realizes that this might finally bring him face to face with the Rakshasas he has been looking for, the ones that slew his adoptive Dwarven family. The group discovers that they'll have to be on the lookout for dragonshards, illusions, the Lords of Dust, and portals to the Fey Wild and the Shadowfell that appear and disappear without warning. The area sounds inhospitable to humanoid life, with toxic air, deserts, and brackish water. In fact, adventurers who dwell there too long feel the lands corruption and sometimes are even driven to madness. Denizens, some known as the Carrion Tribes, are consumed and controlled by the evil under the land.
There's some discussion as to how to travel to the Demon Wastes. Janalla could summon flying mounts for the party, but she requires assistance from everyone to cast the spell. Runty helps by mimicking spell casting based off of his observations of Shanti. Sauda successfully assists, and so does Crusher – but his help was due more to blind luck than to any actual skill. Janalla succeeds in providing the party with flying mounts.
Sauda says that if anything dire happens, the homunculus in Crusher's chest should be released and her parents will send an army.
There's also a discussion as to whether or not to head to the Demon Wastes or to head to Thrane. The situation in Thrane is dire, as previously related by the Queen of Dusk, and Thrane is very close. With that in mind, Project Mayhem takes off on the flying mounts and head to Thrane.
After several hours spent aloft, the party decides to take a break from flying and touch down in a forest clearing. Something interesting catches their eye. Off to the side of the road is what appears to be an old, broken wagon. Investigating it further, the assemblage finds the wagon was dragged off the road and covered with branches in an attempt to conceal it. There is a small chest nearby, apparently broken open with an axe, revealing its contents of brass coins and a slip of paper. On the scrap of paper is this message:
So, Tom, you think you're so smart. Well, here's the money I owe you. Just figure out this riddle and it's yours:
I stand upon the shoulders of
Crusher begins to search around for more clues. Janalla determines the brass coins are not magical. Runty reads his book. Phaedra finds another line caught in the brush on the other side of the wagon. It reads:
Sometimes we keep them in
Sauda finds another piece of the riddle in a small bird's nest over one of the wagon's wheels:
Sometimes we're tall and thin
Runty tries to move the wagon but he's impeded by the fact that the wheels have broken apart and the weight of the wagon indicates that there is still something inside of it. Inside the wagon there are 5 five rotted books, two rusty bird cages, 150 links that could be used to make a sturdy chain, 5 keys, a broken lantern, two wooden ladders (one with 3 broken rungs), 3 iron statuettes (one of a female warrior, one of a court lady, and one male mage), 10 small pieces of quartz, 6 clay flower pots, a bushel of straw, a 50 pound cask of nails, 3 hammers, an anvil, tongs, a pry bar, a wineskin, and a pile of 20 bricks. Runty picks up the wineskin and finds another slip of paper:
And so on up we go
Crusher finds a slip of paper inside the cask:
The two who stand below
Runty and Crusher start to unload the wagon. As they move the first few bricks, they find another note:
Sometimes we keep the bad things out
Sauda checks under the wagon seat and finds another scrap of paper:
Another two will stand above
Runty finds one more slip of paper in the bushel of straw:
Sometimes we're piled up short and stout
Janalla puts the lines in order:
I stand upon the shoulders of
The two who stand below
Another two will stand above
And so on up we go
Sometimes we're tall and thin
Sometimes we're pile up short and stout
Sometimes we keep them in
Sometimes we keep the bad things out
Janalla determines that the lines of the riddle may refer to how bricks are stacked. Phaedra suggests we use the bricks to build a wall. Crusher, Runty and Phaedra begin to build a wall in earnest. The clay pots are crushed into powder and mixed with mud and water to make a temporary grout. Then bricks are laid according to the design detailed in the riddle. After some time, a 'cruddy looking' brick wall is built. It's not very defensible.
Runty decides that he's worn out, so he lays down next to the wall and it topples over him. Night has fallen and the stars are twinkling overhead. Crusher sits down to rest. Phaedra begins to pick up the toppled bricks and notices that some of the bricks are heavier than others, and she shares this discovery with the group.
"Hey, take a dagger and scrape the edge of the brick," suggests Crusher. Phaedra does so and brick dust flakes off. She decides to pick up a brick of a different weight and try the same trick, but again just brick dust is scraped off.
Crusher takes one light brick and one heavy brick and lays them side by side on the ground. Then, slightly frustrated, he smashes them with his warhammer. Doing so reveals that the heavier brick actually was a gold bar encrusted inside brick. Crusher continues to smash bricks until only gold bars and brick dust remains.
Crusher reads the rest of the letter from Sauda's parents. It describes how to examine her for dragonmarks. Crusher is appalled at how intimate the procedure appears to be.
Finally, the party rests.
650 xp each for puzzle role-play
1000 gp each in the form of a gold bar
Sound Clips are 157-166