Frontier Dreams

Session 25
In Which Dreams are Laid to Rest

As the party came to, they found themselves alone in the barracks, which had clearly sustained damage during their ritual. Collecting themselves, they ventured out to witness what had happened. They could see that the gate into the compound had been bowed inward, and multiple small breaches in the surrounding wall. They were quickly directed to the stables which had been made into a ramshackle shelter. There, a wounded Kildak was overseeing the recovery efforts. He was relieved to see the four of them alive and well, and Calder set about administering healing. Kildak directed them to the area the wounded had been collected.

There, Maarus and Calder expended their vast supply of healing magic to retore the guards and civilians who had been wounded in the attack, included among them was Therran, gravely wounded. He recounted a tale wherein the ritual caused a sudden and dark midnight to descend upon the fort, and wave after wave of warped beings to assault the walls, trying to reach the ritual area. The guards were able to hold them at bay initially, but Therran, Milvin, and a detachment had to divert to the gate to deal with a ruined bulette that was bashing down the barricade. From there, his memory got fuzzy, and Woomera raced off to set to the fate of her ward.

She found him outside the gate, reclining against the great dead beast, multiple gunshot and spear wounds decorating it’s hide. Once she was assured he would not expire from his injuries, she collected his spear and suddenly flew off, returning later to present it as a true hero’s weapon. The others worked to calm and assure the veterans of the engagement that the plight was over. And gradually, comfortable exhaustion set in all around. Through the day, preparations were made, repairs were begun, and offers to accept permanent positions were made. Waeslyn planned to return home to Trinity Bay to guarantee the delivery of relief supplies, accompanied by Therran and Calder. Maarus would remain at StormWatch as sheriff only until such time as a replacement could be found. And Woomera, long pilgrimage at an end, planned to return home to see her family.

In the evening as many were succumbing to sleep eagerly, a visitor arrived at the gates. He was announced as Korvo, and the party made to meet him. He explained he had watched the goings on with interest indeed, but that not all was truly well. The vast majority of the mindless nightmares had assaulted the keep, but some cunning few had instead fled into the night. Their forms, powers, and goals ultimately unknown he had made it his directive to search them out. In the interest of expediency, he did agree to transport the trio of adventurers most of the way to Trinity bay as he began his search. The next morning, as a whistler was making his way towards the new fort to collect stories and deliver mail, he could swear the imposing form of a dragon was flying away north.

Thus concludes the tale of Calder, Maarus Zakon, Waeslyn Rentyllian, and Woomera and their trial of nightmarish proportions.

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Session 24
In Which Everything Changes

As was to be expected prior to venturing into the alien realm of dreams, the sleep of the adventurers was not peaceful. But rather than a final demand from either side in the conflict, they each were visited by deific manifestations close to them, each of which imparted a different viewpoint on the scenario. Focusing on the task ahead, they gathered in the barracks to begin the ritual.

As the crystals were placed into the pendant, they spun outward and affixed themselves to the foreheads of the four heroes. When they regained their senses, they found themselves in a desolate land devoid of features save for a large altar about which they were standing. Atop the altar was a large crystal, and surrounding them were the alien entities they had termed “The Collective”. Armed with they keys to the strange prison, they were tasked with opening and destroying what lay inside.

Before they could do so however, the Other within the crystal found a fragile and weakened host in the form of professor Mourianis who had succumbed to exhaustion and appeared in the dream world due to the absent barrier caused by the ritual. It was revealed through his translation pf the possession that the Other was the concept and embodiment of Change that the Collective had excised to remain, as they saw themselves, immaculate.

Discussion was heated and every side argued their point. The collective refused to allow the change to exist as it was a threat to them. The Change demanded to integrate again and no longer be trapped isolated. The party initially seemed only to have two options, to allow the change to return to the collective, or to destroy it and complete their isolation. Maarus interjected before the decision that there was a third option no one was considering. If the Change needed to bond with a community, why must it be the Collective when both the Alliance and Mahi-Tahi were almost certainly going to be changing greatly soon anyway?

In the end after serious back and forth from the heroes they agreed to return the Change to the Collective, and deal with whatever consequences that might ensue. In a flash the crystal shard embedded in Mourianis shattered into countless pieces and flew out into the surrounding crowd of beings. As their fizzled out one by one, each hero felt something within themselves trying to be pulled out along with their departure.

Each of the four found a manifestation from their past back to embody their nightmares. But with teamwork and determination, even the for giant horrors were no match, and were easily felled by their efforts. As the world around them faded and the barrier between worlds began to repair itself, each of them silently wondered if they’d done the right thing.

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Session 23
In Which The End is Begun

Although the group was not assaulted on their journey back to StormWatch, the journey was far from uneventful. One calm night whilst the watch rotation fell to their companions, the four adventurers were whisked away to a market of eerie nature. Possessing coins they knew not how they acquired, each in turn spent the strange currency on items in the bizarre bazaar. Upon waking, each found their purchases deposited nearby, although no one was seen to have delivered them.

As they neared StormWatch they mused on who they’d met in their long travels together, and who among them might be interested in what was to occur. As if on cue, they spied a familiar horseless cart outside the battlements. Propped up using magic, professor Mourianis was poring over a leather tome. He was much the worse for wear since last they had crossed paths.

Thanks to the specimens provided to him, he had embarked on his own personal investigation, and come to some dire conclusions. In his estimation, the figures that pursue the group are an empire ancient beyond sense that now exist in a realm of pure thought. While their ultimate goal eludes his studies, he theorized that they viciously defend their secrecy. And that some internal conflict had sparked that ideology.

They spent the night in the barracks and in the morning met with commander Kildak. They explained the coming storm to him, and he immediately began mobilizing the defenses and preparing for an attack. Waeslyn and Woomera somberly provided instructions to be carried out in their stead should the worst come to pass. Milvin and Therran spoke frankly and it was agreed that this final step they would not take, instead committing their considerable skills to the defense of the fort. Calder in seclusion examined cryptically written portents. And Maarus drilled the guards, caring more to the morale. And as the sun set that evening, all within the walls knew the following day would be momentous.

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Session 22
In Which Temperance is Rewarded

Recovering from their wounds, the party pressed on into the dungeon. They passed myriad collections of forgotten artwork, saved from mysterious fates to rest here. The sandstone halls opened into a chamber, littered as the previous ones were, with gold and gems. But no foes were hidden in ambush for the party. Instead the statue holding this gem intoned in a flat voice riddles that the adventurers were not at all troubled by. Having bested the test, the gem in its palm was released, and for the first time, taken. Calder with no visible hesitation pocketed the gem and no argument was made from the rest.

A cautious peek into the next room spied an earthen titan at guard. The group struck quick but its rocky construction proved difficult to penetrate. Calder’s summoning and the collected firearms were slowly wearing it down when a second earthen warrior emerged from the floor in the midst. Reacting as an experienced group they positioned the tougher fighters closer and eventually reduced the sentries to rubble. Holstering his revolver, Maarus approached the statue and collected the gem with visibly more hesitation that Calder.

As they examined the remaining tunnels, they came to the conclusion that they had moved the extent of the interior. Waeslyn and Woomera returned each to separate rooms and collected a gem without comment, however Waeslyn was seen to visibly wince at odd intervals with no outward cause. They gathered in the largest room, surrounded by identical canid sculptures.

Woomera first, saying more to herself than anyone else, declared she sought inner perfection not gaudy baubles placed her gem in the mouth of one statue as it locked the jaws around it. Maarus and Waeslyn quickly followed suit, albeit more eagerly it seemed. Then all eyes turned to Calder, who was noticeably reluctant to relinquish his gem. With the combined efforts of those around him, Calder overcame himself and finally gave up his gem to the sculpture as well. With the fourth gem locked in place, the warded door opened itself to allow entry to a very heavily shielded room.

Within the vault, they found a myriad of powerful items, including the final key crystal they had come in search of. Before they left with it however, one of the other items entreated them. A sword wreathed in flames begged to be set free, but his desperate pleas fell on deaf ears. They chose only the gem, and once the lock was freed by their selection, Malhari placed a lamp sealed with wax upon the alter. He explained that he had come here already beset by temptation and wished to lock it away.

Crawling out of the tunnels back onto the shell, the party was shocked to see a bronze dragon perched upon one of the boulders. He sensed that they had chosen but one item from the vault, and explained that they were in no danger from him having passed the trials. Korvo briefly explained the dangers of the crystal, but became much more engaged when he learned the extent to which the party had collected them. He gave warnings that the party were truly thankful for, and implied he would be following their progress out of draconic curiosity.

The party returned to the nomad camp where they were given a hero’s welcome. Celebration was lively to say the least. The following morning they groggily saddled their mounts and made their way to StormWatch. With all of the pieces in place, they had but to complete the ritual and face the challenge that they’ve been preparing for ll this time. Some of them all their lives.

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Session 21
In Which Temptation is Presented

The party followed the banks of the massive river north to the camp they spied earlier. By the time they were near to the camp it was late afternoon and they could already hear the distant sounds of drum music from within the tents. Stopped at the perimeter by two lightly armed guards, they explained that they were simple travelers in this land. After some brief confusion over exactly what constituted tribute and leadership, they were granted admittance to the camp.

A large central tent contained most of the nomads, and a celebration appeared to be well underway. Their surprise arrival only briefly pausing the festivities. The camp’s leader made his way to them and introduced himself as Malhari Banjarra, nomad extraordinaire. As he explained to the adventurers that the celebration was the cryptic finding of the challenge, they surmised that this camp had found the very place they were searching for. Doing their best not to reveal too much of their motive they negotiated to join Malhari on what he had planned to attempt alone. Several of them were suspicious of the nomad’s openness, but it was decided that whatever he might be hiding was at least not as dangerous as anything else they had already overcome.

The night passed from the agreement in a blur. Powerful honeyed drinks were downed, and the newcomers drew attention all night from the travelers. Some of them found this attention more welcome than others. Woomera finally managing to convince their hosts she was not a captive of the colonists, but giving up on dispelling many of their even more erroneous assumptions regarding her people. Maarus impressed the server, holding his own against the nomads who were far more used to the powerful drinks. Calder enjoyed spending time and sharing stories with the people who more or less wandered around from story to story their whole lives. And Waeslyn immersed himself in a community where his name simply meant nothing of significance, although the prominent rifle on his back was clearly less than appreciated.

Rising somewhat later than they might otherwise have as a result of the merrymaking, they found Malhari on the shore readying a pair of canoes to cross further into the river.
Squeezing into the small boats, they rowed out to a small island in the middle of the placid waters. Arranged in a strangely even pattern on the island were regular boulders. After puzzling as to their location for a bit, a combined push from everyone was enough to barely dislodge the central boulder, revealing a passage down into the cavern below.

Winding their way through the entrance corridor they spied dilapidated masonry with messages written in draconic. Woomera translated it roughly to the party, explaining there was some kind of warning about greed within this place, and that it advised them to take but one thing. A hidden gallery’s facade had crumbled to reveal exquisite paintings of impossible lands to tempt the curious. Around the corner. coins and gems could be seen glistening in torchline in piles about the room. Unfortunately, the light also glistened on the carapace of a gigantic scorpion guarding the valuables. By luring it into a trap and lodging it in the doorway however, the adventurers easily defeated the behemoth. Calder set about peeking into the stacked chests in the room and found valuable weapons, whilst Waeslyn seemed to be avoiding even looking at the massive amethyst in a marble statue’s hand.

Leaving that room to continue exploring, that band came into some sort of regal room, with canine statues lining the wall, maws open in unison. At the opposite end of the hall was the unfinished statue of a brass dragon, hewn by claw from a single massive piece of marble. The corner of this room contained a barrier that numbed any who approached it’s entry covered as it was in mystical runes. They agreed that something about this room might deactivate the barrier, but resolved to return later after further exploration.

Leaving that chamber, they came into another extravagant storage room littered with treasure. But rather than a scorpion, two husks shambled toward them, hives of terrible wasps made into the cavity that had once been the corpses’ chests. Fighting through the poisonous stings, they eventually managed to dispell the necromantic energies that sustained the bodies, and the swarms fell to the ground. As they took time to heal their wounds and recover from the strange fight, the stunning ruby in the statue’s grip was seen reflected in Woomera’s eyes.

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Session 20
In Which a Cryptic Talk is Cut Short

The party found themselves, as they so often do of late, in a strange waking dream whilst recuperating at Stormwatch. It appeared, however, that this time the entity or beings they were directed into conflict against had contacted them directly. As opposed to the stark wasteland that these encounters were normally set in, this meeting lacks any defining form. Rather it was grey and indistinct in all directions, but for all the emptiness, felt extremely confined.

The Other appealed directly to the party and spoke as cryptically as its opponents. While stile using the same mental crowdspeak, it was less cacophonous as well. It explained that the final piece was not in a ruin as the party had previously seen, and was guarded by something entirely outside the normal defenses seen. For whatever reason, neither side could sense out from this one. The conversation was cut short when an outside force, the adventurers assuming it to be the Collective of Dream Figures, severed the connection forcefully. They came to all having sleep walked to stand around the black crystal Calder had taken from the ruin in the sunken cave. As they awoke, the crystals helping the pendant locate hidden ruins had sent beams of energy to shatter the black one.

Agreeing that they had learned all that they could about their destination, the party made ready to once again hit the road. Final words of caution were given by the outpost commander, Kildak. The lands they were headed into were inhabited by the descendants of the colonists who had rejected the advance of industry and embraced a nomadic lifestyle. Their customs were many and varied from tribe to tribe. They had the potential to be dangerous opponents, but also useful allies if treated correctly.

As the forest and mountains faded into the horizon behind them, a vast rolling plain of swept grass rose up to greet them. Not one week into their journey a powerful thunderstorm severely slowed their progress. As the downpour worsened, they finally were forced to take shelter under a massive oak tree upon a hill. As the worst of the rains came upon them, an extremely rare sight was seen. A fabled titan known as a Storm Sheppard was guiding the storm across the plains. Seeking not to anger it into unnecessary combat, they did not step into the rain and thus it’s senses, save Woomera. In a show of bravery, she stood in the path of its advance and did not back down. Answered only by a pealing boom of thunder, they watched as it slowly made it’s way elsewhere.

As they came to the banks of the massive river that split the continent, a jumbled mass of hoof prints were fund. Waeslyn quickly set about determining when and how many left them whilst Woomera flew as high as she could to try and spy them. To the north were found an encampment on the riverbank, and it was agreed that friend or foe, it would be best to meet this nomad tribe sooner rather than later.

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Session 19
In Which a Debate is Settled

When they returned to Tahara’s secluded hut on the outskirts of the village, the party spent some time meeting his newborn daughter. For reasons not immediately revealed, she shared Calder’s curiously glowing green eyes. The pranks on their pack animals that had persisted i their absence ceased, although the youngsters continued to try to initiate new games with the adventurers. After a few days, messengers arrived from the heart of the forest with gifts from the Vanara people for each of them. After some initial confusion regarding what was meant for whom, they each spent some time getting adjusted to their new gifts.

The journey out of the forest was much less harrowing than the entry to it. Partially due to experience gained within, Tahara’s guidance, and a pervasive sense of hope emanating from the woods. After a heartfelt farewell to their host, they emerged from the dark green sea back upon the road north. Once they were sufficiently far from the forest, Calder confessed that he had taken what he believed to be poison as a precaution to protect the party. Only later did he learn that it was in fact medicine meant for the child. This was likely the source for his now glowing green eyes.

As they arrived at the agreed upon location for the new outpost, they saw a hastily constructed fort at the mouth of the inlet bay. The guards at the gate bid them welcome and ushered them inside, Waeslyn recognizing a familiar insignia hasted their approach to the main building. Woomera broke off to greet a small collection of Mahi Tahi that had come north from Kowiringa.

Inside the outpost, Three militia officers were in a heated debate about what to name the outpost. When they saw one of their comrades from boot camp had arrived they invited him to settle the debate. After a great amount of consideration from both sides, they eventually settled on the name of Stormwatch.

A brief tour of the post was given, and certain supply woes were oft lamented upon during it. Waeslyn took time to plant the various seeds he had acquired from the Great Forest, and Woomera saw about having some alterations made to her armor. Calder enjoyed the town’s lack of filled graves so far, and the temporary peace that came with that. Maarus was often consulted on matters of law as the outpost had not had a sheriff arrive yet. Aside their individual chores, the group enjoyed lending a helping hand until they departed for the next leg of their journey.

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Session 18
In Which the Root of the Problem is Uncovered

Raftambo lead the party through the treetop passageways to the heart of the forest, and Tane Mahuta, the large tree in the center of Vanara. They made their way through throngs of curious citizens to the hut in the highest branches. There they met the elderly Vanaran Damreto, leader of his people. He was initially very dubious of their claims to journey towards the roots at the forest floor, but at the mention of figures in dreams talked with the group in private. He explained the guardians, Vanarans who had been taken in service by the tree, kept the roots in their watch.

Despite his assurance they would not return, the party followed the trunk of the tree into the darkness below. As they descended through the branches, they spotted more and more ruined Vanaran watching them but not making any move to attack. Exploring the forest floor they found an uncharacteristically obvious entrance to their destination. Within the trunk of the tree was a cavern of roots and vines, and the mysterious figures were waiting for them.

Their conversation was as difficult to interpret as ever, but this place seemed different from the other ruins. This was a strange trial of sorts, and they seemed intent on some form of dangerous test.

Without warning, heavily altered Vanaran dropped down from the vines above and assaulted the party. A fierce battle ensued. The burly foes rippling with muscle tried to pin in the adventureres while gaunt figures in the rear used strange magics. Therran fell to a mental command and slept through the fight, but Milvin’s mixed blood was able to shrug off the spell. Maarus let fly with bullet after bullet from his revolver, repeatedly filling the cavern with its holy rapport. Waeslyn counted his shots carefully and with magical boons gathered from his travels put down a foe with frightful eyes. Woomera fiercely stabbed and thrust until a command from one briefly froze her in place. Calder’s go to idea of summoning an ally backfired when the control was wrest from him as soon as the archon appeared.

Despite the mental and physical onslaught, the party eventually prevailed, and confronted the reappeared dream figures. Irate to say the least, they loudly chastised them for the ordeal, the dream figures seemingly unconcerned with their emotions. They departed after reminding them they were close to fulfilling their purpose and Calder collected the third crystal. Fitting it into the pendant revealed the final location, a glyph of what appeared to be a tortoise slowly moving across the plains.

Before they left the cavern, an avatar of the tree itself formed from the many entangled vines, roots and branches. It was too primal to communicate with the party, but they received the distinct impression that it was grateful for the expulsion of the dream figures and wished to reward them. It produced strange fruit that they collected for later.

Leaving the tree a curious assortment of personal items had been strewn about the forest floor in front of them, although they could not see anyone in the area to have left them. They returned to the city above much to the shock of the people present. To their memory no guardian had ever returned once offering themselves in service to the tree. Whatever they had done below, new life had begun to emanate from the tree. The vanarans wished to properly reward the service to their people, and they said they would send their thanks to the small village with Raftambo.

When the party returned to the hut they had stashed their mounts at, Raftambo greeted them in his recognizable broken common. The mounts appeared to have endured mild shenanigans in the party’s absence but nothing to damaging or irreparable. When they walked into the hut, they heard the distinctive wailing of an infant from the floors above.

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Session 17
In Which New Roads are Traveled

After many long weeks of travel, the adventurers finally made it to the Great Eastern Forest. As they advanced deeper, the wildlife became more and more strange and the sunlight scarcer and scarcer. Light sources, magical and otherwise, were an almost constant necessity for some.

As the made camp under a larger tree near a clearing, they noticed a pair of larger bushes nearby. These bushes each had a mysterious singular piece of glowing fruit dangling from their branches. When Waeslyn got close enough to investigate, a pair of enormous beetles burst forth from the underbrush, the glowing fruit actually lures dangling from their shells.

A vicious battle ensued, with grievous wounds on both sides. Ultimately, the party managed to narrowly defeat the gargantuan insects, While they were tending to the wounded, Calder spied a figure observing them from the branches above. Woomera flew upward to investigate and was shocked to see another Wyvaran this deep into the forest.

He introduced himself as Tahara and after a brief aside with Woomera, agreed to take the party to the nearby Vanaran village he was lodging at. Against recommendations even the pack animals were brought to the treetop passageways, a significantly safer mode of travel than the forest floor he assured them. At his abode the party met two female lizardfolk, that had along with Tahara, been exiled from the Mahi-Tahi.

The following morning, they met the village’s chief, a shaman and medicine man by the name of Raftambo. What originally appeared as pervasive disregard turned out to be linguistic difficulties on his part learning the language. The party explained they had been led here by dreams, and he determined they seemed to be leading to the roots of Tane Mahuta. He emphatically tried to dissuade travel there, as no one returns from the roots of the great tree, but his warnings were ignored. He agreed to take them to the main dwelling of Vanara and they could speak to the leaders there to be granted access.

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Interlude: The Trial
In Which a Boy Becomes a Man

Waeslyn woke up early that morning and roused Therran from his seemingly eternally fitful sleep. They had much ground to cover finding a suitable location. Waeslyn selected some parchment paper and rough charcoal to make a crude map. As he sketched simple representations of landmarks, he recalled the training exercises for the militia in the field, and how the child in him never quite stopped imagining the maps as treasure maps. They soon found a small winding ravine that led to a secluded clearing. Therran set to making rudimentary pitfall traps and covered them with thatch leaves.

Calder was soon shown the site and set about meditating. He began leaving test questions on prominent rocks in the passage leading to the clearing. They were meant to test both recall and sense based on previous combat encounters the party had been in. All while doing so, he walked with a sharp military snap in his step, and had an oddly strict undertone to his voice. He was prepared as a backup to summon a suitable challenge, but explained that summon creatures would be greatly offended at the action of being called simply to get defeated as a test.

Woomera had no trouble hunting a boar from the sky and placing the fresh kill near the edge of the clearing. From her watchful gaze in the sky, she finally spotted a dark furred hunter take interest in the bait. Judging from the size of the cat, it would be sufficient challenge. Woomera was no longer surprised at the tinges of motherly worry she felt watching the spotted hunter lounging on the branch. These strange soft skinned misfits had made this journey much more bearable. She was certain Milvin could beat it, but she was to well traveled to believe that guaranteed he would.

When the sun was high in the sky, the preparations were complete, and Milvin was presented the map and instructed to decypher it and follow the clues. Milvin managed to answer most but not all of Calder’s questions correctly, gaining a few hints as to what may lie in wait for him ahead. When he entered the clearing the partially consumed carcass freshly buzzing with flies was even more warning.

He advanced cautiously, but the jaguar still managed tog et the drop on him from above. Bracing his spear he caught it in the flank, but his thigh was rent by claws in kind. Seeking to gain position of advantage he circled to a pit to keep the jaguar at favorable distance. The jaguar, however, had a hunter’s instinct and avoided the pit. Milvin took advantage of the long path to loose a pair of manticore quills, only one of which was a hit. Having rounded the pit and very angry the jaguar once again charged.

The final clash saw bloody hits from both sides, but Milvin’s combination of braced spear and thrown quills earlier meant that the jaguar eventually succumbed to the injuries. Exhausted and limping, Milvin looked up at the edge of the clearing where his companions were looking down from the rim with apparent approval.

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