We arrive in Carceri on the second layer. Lorath assured us it was safe, but I gather that’s a relative term. Safe in this case meant an acid swamp, in the midst of a bunch of trees as far as the eye could see. There was also a hut riased out of the swamp, but when I hailed it, I got a telepathic response that was pretty clear in the “Go away” message.
There were… bodies in the swamp. Still living humanoids, but… they should not have been alive. their bodies had been eroded so thoroughly by the acid there was barely anything left. It was a stark portrayal of the threat this place posed: get trapped here and there would be no escape, not even death.Skit
I gave Jaros the brief ability to fly and then used the more impressive spell upon myself. I’m growing more comfortable in using those spells, despite the fact they leave me weaker afterward. It was a little strange at first, as the stronger one gives me wings to fly with, as opposed to just willpower directing the flight.
It became second nature incredibly quickly however, perhaps a side effect of the spell. Myself, Jaros and Sevastian, along with two of the undying, ascended into the sky, to the first layer of Carcerei. The layers are strange, gigantic spheres of land floating in the sky. The one above us was full of rents and tears in it that allowed us to get up there without going all the way around.
There wasn’t anything to be done for the two nameless victims of this place; though it was the most emphatic piece of advise given us by Lorath we went ahead and gave them the only peace I could realistically offer: Death.
We travelled far across the layer, and came across a damaged castle keep, surrounded by people selling all sorts of odd wares, fruits, water, for ridiculous prices. It would seem that such basic amenities are rare here, and there is much common knowledge unknown to us. A prolonged talk with people here could give us away, and yet we need information.
We did some basic asking about Skit, but it was months ago. Apparently she arrived, tore the turrets off the castle and vanished. I fear this may be the result of a poorly worded Sending on my part… best not to mention this to the others. Signs indicated she flew away: the trail had grown cold.
Rather than resorting to the extortionate prices offered by the locals, and fearing that our cover was in danger, we left, heading in a random direction toward the mountains. When we got there I flew up and had a look around. This place is strange, from what I could see it is ringed by sheer cliffs and mountains before opening into the void. There were only two things that jumped out at me: a small wooden building, and a greenish area.
I let the others know and we head out, first to the wooden building and then the spot of green.
The building proves the most amusing part of this tale. Many people are outside in a queue, waiting to get in, patiently letting the indeterminate time pass by. I fear I would go mad in this place eventually. Jaros gets it into his head to try breaking down the door, but its warded magically. The man almost killed himself trying to break it down, I wonder if the place is getting to him more than to me?
As curious to get in, there’s no point waiting around for that sort of thing. We headed toward the green area, which turns out to be a lush meadow.
Have I mentioned the vacant people? I don’t think so. There are a large ammount of people who just wander aimlessly, a vacant look in their eyes, they don’t react to anything they don’t look around, they just walk. In truth i’m not sure whether to be appreciative or afraid of such a fate: All the time in the world to travel, and yet no witt to experience any of it.
We pass one such vagrant as we enter the meadow, beyond them the first of our goals: Skit is sat upon the grass, enjoying a meal with another person. It is a relief to see her alive I will admit, I feared the worst when my Sendings received no reply.
She is with a woman who I immediately identify as one of the Planetouched, a tiefling. The flipside of Sevastian’s Celestial heritage is those with demonic. She is one such creature, though despite what one would expect, she seems a lovely person, who has befriended Skit, or maybe Skit befriended her. She is responsible for the lionshare of the destruction back at the keep apparently, which marks her as someone not to be trifled with.
Sevastian it would seem doesn’t know what she is; but he has an innate feeling of dislike toward her. I think it might be best if he didn’t find out until after we’ve gotten to know her a bit more, and so I will keep the matter to myself.
We have completed one of the 4 things we set out to do: now we must find the Greyskye Guards, and Lukan. Sevastian is also set on finding a wizard who killed his master and meeting out revenge. I don’t see the point myself, if Sevastian truly wanted this man to suffer all he would need do is let him not-rot here.
We next headed back past the keep toward the hill just “south” of the keep, where Skit first entered Carcerei, in a bid to ensure we have a way out. We found a rock surface which looked out of place, which Skit says was the way into a cave with the portal out.
It was warded, and when Jaros tried to break it down with raw strength (a polite way of saying he tried to punch it) a concussive blast knocked almost all of us out. I don’t know how long we were out, time passed: at least that much I can say.
We did eventually find our way into the chamber, we dug a tunnel and then I was able to dispell the invisible shield that separates the plane itself from the fortress’s room. Alas the portal was closed, and Zhao, damn her, never used Tuning Forks, she had her own spells to open the portals. I’m no expert in portal magic, I couldn’t even begin to guess on how to craft that spell. I guess if we’re stuck here for eternity I might have enough time to figure it out. Regardless we now have a safe location within range of the keep.
We then returned to said keep in search of more information about the guardsmen, and also to see if we can’t find the portal to the planar fortress. Sevastian was trying to find us a map of the layer, but the only mapmaker he found would not do business with him because of his heritage.
When I offered to go and try in his stead, both he and Jaros looked at me, and Jaros said that he didn’t think I’d have much more luck than Sevastian. I’d’ve passed over this but for what occured next: When I spoke with the man, he agreed on the trade in exchange for a vial of my blood. When I questioned him on this, he seemed to imply that mine was rare. At first I thought he had somehow realised I was an Outsider to Carcerei, but when later we were discovered; the peoples reactions was far different. It is not the first time someone has alluded to me being… different. It rankles me, the idea that there is something wrong with me that others can see, yet I cannot. Perhaps the journals of my parents will give clues, yet even there, the whole encounter with Auriel… our journals… something there doesn’t add up.
Now is not the time for such musings however, perhaps once we make it out of this damned (forgive the pun) place.
I made the trade for better or worse, another Tiefling took the blood. I haven’t told the others about it, they just know I got the map. We were leaving the keep when everything went to hell (again, forgive the pun). We were attacked by 3 people in Heironious armour, wielding poisoned weapons designed to incapacitate. Makes sense for place without death: If you can’t kill someone, you can at least poison them into impotence.
We almost got away with it, Jaros was careful to (loudly) remind us not to kill anyone, and that meant pulling punches. He took out two of them and one was making a break for it. I’m not sure if it was in rage, carelessness, or by mistake that Sevastian cast his chosen spell, but he summoned some eldritch tentacles that could not be persuaded to simply subdue and restrain. Another thing we didn’t count on: these people should all be dead a thousand times over, it barely takes any force with lethal intent to actually kill.
Just like that, one of our attackers was very obviously dead, in plain sight of all, and suddenly we have a horde of people charging us demanding, clawing, screaming at us to kill them. I barely got out, it was a near thing. Skit’s tiefling friend Naraya bought us some time by dropping a building on them, collapsing yet more of the keep on the hoard. With Sevastian’s help I was able to break free to the skies, and Jaros… well Jaros just walked through the crowd dragging the unconscious agents of Hextor with him.
We made it back to the cave and are currently resting and recovering, before heading out: we want to be as far away from this place as possible and on course for a city far away from here, built in the remains of a dead volcano.
With any luck the journey will be a straightfoward one.