We conlcuded last session in a little bit of a puzzle. We have 2 weeks before an appointment with a superior at House Ronto to gain more information about the armour with the Cold Crystal embedded in it.
Worse, Leona and Ama have both been affected by its mind altering magic, and have disappeared to fulfill the required secrecy quota this crystal imposes.
Somewhat stumped for an alternative action, our regular POV character Aarnel headed out of the city toward the nearby Wayshrine of Fharlanghn, to seek guidance from his deity.
He spends some time there doing the praying thing and otherwise just socializing with the average traveller when he spots across the crowded room, a woman writing in a leather bound book.
Ayla jumps in to declare she ships it.
Aarnel goes over to make idle chit chat. The tanned traveller has just arrived from the norther continent of Veraden, a quiet place from the frontlines of the war that coincides with the Rift. She mentions Wyvernhill, where they worships dragons and a tree: somewhat reminiscent of a story about Zhao, if memory serves. The DM also describes her as having an annoying fringe that keeps getting in her eyes, thus giving her an adorable defining quirk.
Realising they sort of skipped that part of the conversation, they introduce themselves. She is Auriel, and seems to know Aarnel’s name from somewhere. Auriel’s objective in coming here was to offer aid to the ravaged city, to assist with rebuilding. She’s remarkably Good, and her first port of call is at ground zero, where we encounter Leona, shifting rubble. Spells are applied and the rubble clearing progresses apace. Ama’s not with Leona, no one seems to know where she is.
Sevastian meanwhile has been investigating the purchase of Invisibility Scrolls: he manages to haggle 3 of them at a discounted price, bargaining his own (And mine, without telling me) spellcasting and manual labour services into disaster recovery, for 3 days. His goal is infiltration and recovery of the crystal.
Jaros meanwhile has been doing nothing except hang out at the temple of Heironious, sparring, and drinking. In his mind he’s got 2 weeks on leave whilst we wait for our mission to progress. Lawful Relaxing.
It’s late into the night before Auriel and Aarnel notice the time, Sevastian and Leona have dissappeared on their own business, and so they head to an inn: The Salubrious Unicorn. She insists on paying for the night, and they retire to there seperate rooms.
Now’s the opportunity to leaf through my own journal, which does indeed make reference to an Auriel. This is puzzling, and a variety of possibilities spring to mind: Most popular (and fits) involves some harley-esque AU rift swapping of our books.
In the morning I talk to her about it. She sort of freaks out when she sees my journal, and we swap.
“Just read to when my bit starts. You’ll know when to stop”. Presuming she means some sort of handwriting shift. That’s when things get /weirder/: It’s not at all clear when ownership changes. It does mention a shipwreck where the previous owner and “Aarnel” are seperated, near the rift. More credence to this AU theory, but (As she’s freaking out a bit) we agree to drop it for later, and off off we go.
Leona spends the day hunting for Ama, but with no success, we spend the day shifting rock with Sevastian, Jaros spars, drinks, relaxes. Whilst he’s doing this Leona appears and with a mighty gulp, swallows her pride and asks Jaros for help. He says the best resources would be at the temple of Correl Loretheon (elf god) and the Church of St. Cuthberts.
Somewhat unimpressed with Jaros for not actually assisting directly, she storms off.
Next day (woo, so many days passing linearly) Aarnel, Auriel, and Sevastian all decide that Ama has been missing long enough and that we should search for her. Auriel says she’ll sweep the arcane quarter and then call in at the temple of Pelor for Scrying (500gp for a stranger? so Good _)
Unknown the rest of us, Jaros is arrested by people from the Church of St. Cuthbert for “drinking whilst on duty” and “disobeying orders from a superior”. ooooooh snap.
Leona enlists us and some willing trackers from the temple of Correl Loretheon, splits us up and we go hunting. Through coincidence I am the one to find her. Leona is summoned and they are reunited. Hooray!
Everyone goes to their respective inns, and a new day dawns.
Auriel and Aarnel are discussing the weirdness of the journals at breakfast when Leona storms out the inn with a “srs business” face on. A moment later she comes back in goes into her room.
Auriel has reached a conclusion, that we are siblings, our mysterious parental figures who must’ve been travellers themselves gave us each our journal, after having travelled with us. There are a bunch of holes in that theory, but at that point Leona comes out of her room in full armour and storms out, ignoring us.
We agree that siblings may well be the case! Somewhat pleasantly taken aback by this turn of events, Aarnel has a sister, has faaamily. Unable to see Leona, they go off to shift rocks.
It’s a thoroughly uneventful day for us.
Jaros meanwhile has his trial, pleads guilty to drinking on duty but successfully argues that whilst Leona’s rank is higher than his, they are a part of two separate command structures entirely. Jaros serves his time (just a day).
Wondering where Leona and Sevastian are?
Well, they independantly decided to “acquire” the crystal today. Leona with a mixture of desk slaying and intimidation gains access to the building. Sevastian uses one of his 3 scrolls of invisibilty to do the same.
They infiltrate a large store room, Leona’s cover story that she’s under orders to slay all desks goes down extremely well. Once all the staff run for their lives, Sevastian reveals himself, and they secure the armour, using the remaining two scrolls to exit undetected.
Jaros (Lawful Good) flips the fuck out when he discovers. I dont know the details (I had to nip out for an hour :c) but the result is that Leona and Jaros are “not talking” to each other, and Jaros declares to Sevastian that “when all this is over, you will serve your time :|”
The party prepares to move out to the town of Wyvernhill, where they worship the dragons, and Aarnel goes to fetch Jaros, where he is brought up to speed on the jail time, the fall out, and vague hints as to the details regarding the circumstances of the acquisition. party rifts glued shut (it’ll do for now) we all head north to Wyvernhill, including Auriel who we have explained to about the Creatureborn and the Cold Crystals.
Wyvernhill is an intriiiiguing place.
On one side of the gates is the symbol for Bahamut, god of metalic dragons. On the otherside is one for Tiamat, god of chromatic dragons and sworn enemy of Bahamut. In the centre is the dead husk of a tree, most likely the one from the story about Zhao.
We head into the inn and listen to the bard sing us some exposition.
Long ago there were 9 bankers of Tiamat. They were greedy bastards who ended up stealing from Tiamat. When she found she kicked them out, god damn she was pissed. They travelled the planes looking for a home! They even went to the great Dragonroost in Arborea, but they were also turned away from there. They at last turn to the material plane, but they are unable to fit in! then they finally meet Zhao who offers them the one thing they crave most: Family, and the ability to fit in.
(massive internal “god damn it!” moment right there I tell you)
She creates 8 people, one for each of the dragons, and the last is herself. Each of these people are chosen to instill in their bonded dragon the trait they need most to live in society, things like “Courage, truth, honour, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self reliance, industriousness, perseverence”.
/fuck/ that paints the entire thing in a COMPLETELY different light. Motives are now unknown and the difference in stories means we /need/ more intelligence on the subject. It’s late and the bard wont tell another story (one that the local audience makes it clear is grotesquely overtold). We catch up with him in the morning and get him to tell us the story of the tree.
25 years ago (at the start of the war ish) the tree began to weaken. They called to zhao and she appeared one day, told them she would take the tree for healing, and vanished with it(Description matches a portal/ plane shift). several weeks later she returns, the tree completely rejuvinated.
By the time it began to weaken again, she would not answer them, and the tree died.
Why is it special? well it’s a perfect miniatrure replicant of Dragonsroost in Arborea.
Did you know the Lancers all met in a bar in Dwarven Lands? that when the war broke out, Marlowe and Zhao wanted to do good elsewhere instead of fight?
With that story under our belts, there’s two things left to do before we head south.
1. Check for portals/ tuning forks
2. Seek out the watcher that flew away from Luminosta.
First tuning fork: Leona’s fork actually opens a portal. From my knowledge planes check it’s the fuckin seven mounted heavens of Celestia, holy crap.
My first tuning fork does nothing. My second one opens a portal though, dark and spirally, on the opposite side of the square from the Celestia one. Safe bet that it leads to the LN Plane (the abyss?) where Tiamat lives.