Frontier Dreams

Session 2.5
Stolen Youth

Deciding to make all possible effort to enter Kotahitanga without complication, the adventurers made their way to a guard-post on the road pas the outskirts of town. Ushered inside under watchful guards, the captain informed Koorie that he was expected, and that a guest was awaiting a private audience in a meeting room. While he met with whoever had foreseen his arrival, the rest made uncomfortable small talk with the captain, who seemed to be in no mood for their antics. For all his primal adornments, Koapani blended in with the common citizens of Kotahitanga only slightly more than his colonial companions.

When Koorie emerged from his private interview he was visibly shaken. He urged the party to make great haste towards an inn where they could procure rooms and speak privately. They found discreet lodgings at the Waygate run by Blind Magda. Once inside and unpacked, Koorie explained that there had been a series of disappearances lately of children in the large city. The significance of these children was known only to a few, and their fate was vitally important. As their group was proven not to be related to the events, they had been granted unique clearance to act on behalf of the clergy to investigate this matter.

Because of Koorie’s foresight, the entirety of the stable was reserved for their various animals. Koapani removed his bone armor for the time being, but retained his weapons. Kailen acquired a simple dagger to have a holdout, just in case. They decided to split up to cover more ground, as the disappearances were already some days past.

Koorie and Kailen made their way into the mixed quarter towards the church that was attempting to find a way to open worship of Moemare to the colonials. On their way, they made haste to investigate the sounds of a gunshot. Kailen found there to be a lizardfolk by the name of Putol attempting to deconstruct and reassemble a simple musket. After some expert assistance from Kailen the firearm was back to functionality and the tinkerer seemed eager to learn more if the opportunity presented itself. Inside the church, the priest was clearly at the bottom of several hierarchies, and did everything he could to assist Koorie. Koorie offered some helpful advice to make the church more appealing, based on his time in Cape Hope. In return, the priest, named Hoaha, promised to make discreet inquiries about “those missing from our lives”.

Koapani, Mary, and Asmund meanwhile, wandered towards the nearest house on Koorie’s list to have had a child go missing. Along the way, they rehearsed a cover story taking advantage of the Mahi-Tahi’s unfamiliarity with dwarves to pass Mary off as a child. An adolescent Vishkanya answered the door, and Asmund barely managed to convince him he was lost. Playing the part of the novice salesman, Asmund used the guise of the candle sale to press the youth for information on his missing sibling. While he was distracted, Koapani and Mary examined the home, looking for possible methods the abductor could have used. Satisfied they had learned all they could from this location, they returned to the Waygate to confer with their companions about how to proceed.

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Session 2.4
Thunder not of Sky

Departing the meeting housed the company of the village elders, the group made their way to a large house particularly adorned with impressive bones. On their way, they retrieved Koapani’s mount from the stables. The beast seemed truly eager to once again be with his master. Koapani boasted that this was his home, and a fair share of the trophies adorning it were by his hand. Hardly had they begun to deposit their traveling gear than the largest lizardfolk any of them had ever seen arrived. Hoised on her shoulder was a still dripping haunch of meat from a recent kill. Standing to her full height she announced herself as Akamai, and enthusiastically embraced her son.

Koapani, after extricating himself from her crushing embrace, introduced his traveling companions. Knowing next to nothing about the colonial peoples, Akamai was most visibly dubious about Koorie and his devout uniform. They were all invited inside to boast of their achievements and to decide next their course of action. Grand talk they shared long into the evening. Akamai stated that in the morning she was to hunt a great beast, and would greatly wish to see the prowess of those who were, in her mind, instrumental in her son’s ascension to chiefdom. Deciding that a single hunt wouldn’t overly delay their travel they agreed to join Akamai in the tracking something called a spotted thorntail.

Awakening early in the morning, they set off a few hours journey outside town to what Akamai had determined as the monster’s hunting grounds. t was described as an intimidation scavenger, a towering beast that simply scared off lesser predators to enjoy their kills. Setting out the bait, they had ample time to design their ambush. When The beast finally happened upon the meat laid out for it, immediately did it set about consuming the meat.

Koorie was the first to act. Emerging from his roost in a nearby tree, he channeled the draconic essence of his god into a dominating gaze. The beast’s fascination was focused on Koorie until his companions emerged as well and sprung the trap in full. Kailen found his back up bow unable to pierce the thick hide of the monster, and readied instead his rifle. Mary put to use her long hours of study in bone piles and hardened the bones of those who dared stand toe to toe with the predator. Asmund and Koapani used their greater mobility to encircle the monster while Akamai planted her feet and gave better than she got.

The roar from the thorntail deafened Koapani, but that did not slow him down, and did not phase Akamai. Unlike the roar from Kailen’s rifle, the first thin shown to have startled the warrior woman. As the beast began to comprehend the danger it was in, the predator flew into a desperate frenzy, charging through foes toward the one in the tree that dared challenge it with a roar. Kailen maintained his balance, but Mary suddenly found herself too close for comfort.

AS her companions raced to her side, barely a few heartbeats passed before they’d felled the mighty lizard. As the hunters set about gathering the head and other trophies, her companions were shocked to see Mary excitedly push her way deep into the chest cavity to rummage about inside the gore. Emerging absolutely covered in blood, she could not hide her glee at having retrieved several organs she would study at a later date. Returning to town with their prize, Akamai briefly departed to have the kill commemorated.

She returned later with tiny tokens full of the primal energy from the spotted thorntail, gifting one to each of her guests. As they recovered, the remainder of the day was spent looking forward. Asmund made his first sales pitch to the Mahi-Tahi, while Kailen continued to quietly curse as he calibrated his rifle. Koorie and Mary examined the strange leather scrolls found on the whistler, and planned to use their combined magic to decipher them.

As the group moved closer toward their ultimate goal, the capital of the Mahi-Tahi, Kotahitanga, one more surprise was waiting for them. A being introducing himself as a traveling merchant, appeared in otherwise barren surroundings, apparently drawn by the scent of unspent gold. Immediately suspicious of his intentions, the party was not especially interested in his offers. Asmund commissioned a pair of boots as a test of his skills before he vanished back to wherever he came from.

As the towering metropolis of Kotahitanga loomed on the horizon, a quiet unease built within them, that anything they had faced before paled compared to the challenges within those sacred walls.

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Session 2.3
Hellish Tides to Hostile Hearts

As the group made their way to the exit from the cave, the groaning creak of wood returned their gaze to the mysterious vessel emerging from the cave wall. The figurehead appeared to be following whoever had the signet ring with it’s gaze. Donning the ring on his hand, Koapani saw points of light appear in the carved wooden eye sockets as the statue came fully to life.

Unable to recall his vessel’s full designation, the boat would provide no answers until a captain was present. Declaring himself captain, Koapani instructed it to explain its presence in this place. Apparently, the ship (whose name was the Glory of … something) was the first and grandest of its kind, meant to traverse between points instantaneously. COmmissioned by a secret group of Mahi-Tahi, it’s maiden voyage had resulted in the deaths of the crew, and it remained dormant here since.

After significant debate about their next destination, it was agreed by the group that the boat’s meager teleportation abilities could save them some time and transport them to Koapani’s birth village. Koorie gathered the blighted corpses of the zombies and burnt them on a holy pyre to restore their souls, whilst Mary made herself busy getting one last examination of the altered gnome’s body. Gathering their varied pack animals, the wooden figure head did it’s best to send them to the desired destination.

Perhaps wary of again entombing his crew in the earth, they appeared outside their destination by a half mile, and floating in the air. The height was not serious enough to cause significant injury, and gathering themselves, they made for town. Koapani announced his return via horn as they marveled at this most primal of places. The ground shook more frequently here, to the discomfort of some. Mary expressed true interest in the myriad skulls and bones lining many buildings in the village.

Although his mother was not present, Koapani did meet with the elders to summarize his discoveries so far. They were pleased to see that he had encountered people who were able to compliment his skills and bid him good luck on his newest hunt. They agreed to restock and recuperate in town before heading towards the Mahi-Tahi capital of Kotahitanga, and finding a way inside.

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Sessions 2.2
Toward the Falcon's Fear

The adventurers awoke the next morning with renewed vigor and strength from the night of feasting and the faint smell of smokey meat lingered over the town. Gathering what they knew they stopped by the shopkeep for some last minute provisions before departing the tiny spot of civilization amid the broad frontier. In the interest of haste towards an already long missed person, they skirted around the town of Kowiringa and journeyed south. With the forest to their west and the marsh to their east, the narrow avenue of the plains between allowed them to make truly impressive time with the guidance of their more rugged members.

With nary a delay, Koapani led the other four to the thicket of dense thorns near the maze like crags where he’s lost the trail of the whistler, now known to them as Grismund. Despite the sun high in the sky, the dense foliage forbade most of the sunlight from penetrating all the way down. Those without adapted eye sight produced their own light sources, and into the thicket they plowed.

At the first divergence in the paths between the jagged rocks, mysterious ink faded into vision as they drew close. The message was as unknown as the method by which it was revealed, but there was an unmistakable arrow beneath it indicating one path. Mary recorded the inscription to decode at a later time. As they moved from ravine to ravine, at each fork another strange glyph revealed itself once they came close enough. After several more they found a different inscription indicating an upward ascent. Keen eyes now spotted a jagged opening in the rocks that might lead to a cave into the earth. While they readied the climbing equipment, Kailen dispatched his hawk Bullet to examine the entrance.

Bullet flew back down quickly, his beak and talons covered in blood not his own. From his connection, Kailen could sense only fear from the falcon. Directing the avian to the overhang, he did not order his companion further into the rocks, instead leaving the feathered friend as a warning should someone approach from outside. Koapani and Koorie made the ascent without difficulty, and with their assistance, the others clambered up.

Inside the cave, they were greated by a gruesome stain of blood mixed into the cave floor as though from many animals slaughtered. Streaks near the edge of the pool deeper in implied that something had dragged the bodies further. After several twists in the passage, away from the blessings of sunlight, they spied upon blighted corpses. These desiccated bodies appeared to be animated in death, all the blood drained from their forms. All races of Mahi-Tahi were found shambling about the cavern. Striking with fury, and in the case of the spellcasters, divine might, their stealthy approach took the dimwitted zombies by surprise. Koapani, holding the line, bravely fought off three at once, but was briefly dragged down by their numbers. A radiant emission from Koorie drove them away and Mary administered curative magic. Asmund’s dagger struck from shadow after shadow, neatly dispatching a multitude.

As thy licked their wounds, Kailen spotted footprints tracking blood deeper into the cavern, that most definitely belonged to colonial feet. The party began to seriously suspect that the missing whistler had not befallen ill tidings, but rather had become quite twisted. The haunting parody of whistler song that soon tortured their ears added credence to the guess. Peeking about a corner, they did indeed see a gnome whistling a disquieting tune in front of a bloody ritual attended by blood formed into the wretched parody of men.

Wasting no time, and not wishing to subject themselves to a tiresome monologue, they rushed the ritual. The two bloated blood forms tried to keep them away from their master, but Asmund was too quick. Before they interposed themselves, he had dived past, dagger in hand. Koapani and Kailen made to protect the frail casters, but in the confusion of the melee one of the boats found an opening and laid low Koorie with a savage blow. Kailen was shaken by the ferocity of these abominations, and found his fingers for the first time fumbling with the matchlock on his musket. Mary’s energy and Koapani’s brute force soon reduce both of the guards to mere puddles. All the while Asmund kept interrupting Grismund’s songs and with his companions joining him, made short work of the short whistler. Tightly binding and gagging the gnome, Kailen immediately smeared the crisp lines of the blood ritual about the floor.

Rousing the bound foe, they made it clear that any further aggression would be swiftly halted. He freely admitted to leaving in the guise of a whistler, to come south and sow distrust of the colonial profession, killing and spreading rumors. He claimed to have gone by many names but declared he was truly Sanguinas, the Herald to the Maggot King here to spread word and secure a vessel fit for his liege. The gathered adventurers were thoroughly underwhelmed by his revelation, even after learning that other “members of the court” had been strategically placed to ensure his arrival. Sneering that his work was already done, he let out a shrill note and before anyone could intervene the remaining blood in his body boiled away.

Not wanting equipment to go to waste, his magical garments were removed and his pack rummaged. Inside were only traveling gear, including his official whistler papers, and more of the strange script written on particularly fine leather. Koorie’s eyes grew wide at the sight of it. Considering the genuine interest and relaxation she showed examining corpses, the plain discomfort on Mary’s face with all the whistler talk was curious, but no one said anything about it to her.

Finding one last passage into the earth, an even stranger sight was waiting for them. Emerging from the wall as though the stone were just another cresting wave was a beautifully rigged frigate of Mahi-Tahi construction. Pulsing with magic, their investigation was unable to sort out exactly what it was doing here. Asmund did locate a chest with gold and some valuables inside, but nothing to clarify the out of place vessel.

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Session 2.1
Introductions, Trails, and Porks

Early to rise as always, Koorie gathered his traveling equipment and bid his farewell to the gracious Rentyllian hosts. Outside town at the agreed upon meeting point he was not long waiting before a rugged half-elf with rifle slung over his shoulder approached. He introduced himself as Kailen, the tracker and guide solicited for the expedition. Koorie explained he was a cultural liaison of sorts, noticing the bracelet of his people’s shamans about the talon of the guide’s falcon. Before he could ask about the curious keepsake, Asmund arrived astride his horse. Beside him, an ox carried a wagon laden with goods and herbs, a pale dwarf driving it. Asmund introduced the pair to his traveling companion Mary, but did not clarify her purpose among them. Introductions made, the party headed south out of Cape Hope into the frontier, and towards the small town of BlueGrass.

They made excellent time travelling and with only a few day found themselves making ready to camp near the small village, planning to arrive early next morning. As they were scouting for a good location to bed down for the night, Kailen and Koorie caught sight of a figure attempting to sneak up on them in the dark. THe wispy grass of the plains was poor cover for this lizardfolk’s ample muscle and Asmund was quick to place a magical light over his head. Standing up, he quickly asked them what their business was, announcing himself as Koapani of the LahoneLeia. Learning that they shared a similar goal in tracking down the missing whistler, he was invited to sit with them and work together.

Despite the difference in cultures, the group found themselves quickly at ease with one another. Both Koorie and Koapani could speak at least one of the colonial languages, and both Mary and Kailen could converse in a forktongue dialect. Kailen explained he had traveled with a shaman of the Mahi-Tahi for several years, and kept his focus to honor him. Koorie enjoyed the company of his kinsman he had been lacking for many months, even if this lizardfolk was somewhat rough around the scales from his time in the Trembling Hills. Mary mostly kept to herself while everyone talked and ate, but Asmund seemed more than willing to deflect the attention. Which became useful when certain parties present were dismayed to learn that he had not discovered the name of the whistler they were tracking, only his initials: G.G.

As they made their way into town, the definition of the word was stretched dangerously thin. A couple dozen ranch houses were spread out around a central building that appeared to be a church and town centre in one. Inside it, they found also the sheriff’s office, postmaster, and town shop. Only the sheriff’s office was occupied, and in went Asmund. A grumpy and weary middle aged dwarf with a star on his jacket seemed to be in a losing battle with maps and charts upon his desk. He explained that the postmaster was away in the big city for sudden romantic reasons and that he was the acting postmaster until his return. He could not help them at the moment however, due to an increasing issue with the disappearance of livestock. After Koapani and Koorie questioned him further, they agreed to sort out the rustler problem so that he could investigate the whistler files left to him.

The ranchers who had the most livestock disappear were a portly pair of gnomes by the names Barnabus and Delylah Wintersprig. With what they were told, the party set out into the field to investigate. Already some of the more rugged members present suspected beast more than rustling and the blood trail all but confirmed that theory. Happening upon a freshly drained corpse of a goat, they knew then that they were hunting the curious beast known as a Chupacabra. Following the blood to the lair in the hills outside town, not one but two Chupacabras attacked them to defend their territory. Despite their ferocious aggression, the hideous monsters were easily slain by the adventurers. Dragging their trophy back to town, they could not wait to inform the sheriff of their success. He appreciated their enthusiasm much less than being awoken in the middle of the night to demonstrate it.

THe following morning the town quickly learned that the danger to their herds had abated and celebration was in the air. Koorie began building preparations for a sizeable bonfire to be lit that evening. Asmund spoke at length with the Sheriff who discovered more information about the missing whistler, but Asmund seemed to think that the additional information raised more questions than it answered. While he was poring over the papers, the gnome Barnabus approached the party in the town square and offered a personal reward for their service. Being not a rich man, he could only offer but a pair of swine and their future piglets. Despite this meager offering, the group and Koapani in particular seemed vastly satisfied with the show of gratitude, proclaiming the Wintersprigs a friend of his village on the spot. The shopkeep as well was able to dig up old information about the whistler, and thanks to some clever dealing back and forth between himself and Asmund produced a small parcel that had not been given to the whistler prior to his departure.

As the town gathered around Koorie’s bonfire that evening, the smell of fresh cooked meat filled the air. Several villagers debated exactly which building to nail bits of the Chupacabras to. The twang of frontier music was carried by the wind, and the five adventurers enjoyed the simple festivities before hitting the road again the following morning.

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Session 1.25
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 1.24
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 1.23
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 1.22
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 1.21
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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