Beyond the horizon

Twists and burns
Hulks smash

On the 35th of Kiriel, we return to Aesira to find our heroes within the black tower of Karadel the Vile. Having just avoided a confrontation with the man himself, the party gathered its breath as our heroes surveyed their surroundings. After some investigation, they found that the scrying pillar in their vicinity could be rotated, which was followed by a great rumbling underneath their feet. Upon the rotations completion, the arcane circle the band had discovered in the adjacent dead-end room seemingly activated, producing a pit-like dark portal, through which Notsium Durkax promptly fell.

Soon joined by his companions, a disturbing sight unveiled itself before them. Entering what appeared to be some kind of medical ritual chamber, the party found themselves staring at shelves of sickles, grey caps and boots, bookcases filled with arcane scripture, and a long butchers shelf filled with hanging goblin bodies. Each of these bodies, as they came progressively closer to the end of the shelf closest to the party, became more and more similar in appearance to the bands old foe, Bogin Redcap. This is what our heroes would have focused on, had they not also been staring down four bugbears, devoid of their usual fury, and armed with large surgical implements.

Combat ensued, during which Mattimeo attempted to peer into the minds of these adversaries. During this intrusion, he found himself rebuffed by a powerful mental force, accompanied by an image of a familiar wooden mask. Achieving victory over their unresponsive foes, the party managed to find another scrying pillar, seemingly connected to the one they had initially discovered. Twisting this one as well, the floor and ceiling of the room began to rumble, and when the rotation ceased the portal through which they had come had disappeared, with another one appearing on the opposite site of the large chamber.

Entering this portal and feeling themselves being thrust upwards through space, our heroes found themselves in a mostly barren room, seemingly used as a traversal point. Exploring the corridor ahead, they discovered two additional accessible rooms. The first one appeared to contain a portal pit similar to the one previously encountered, but fractured and unstable in its nature. Not wishing to brave such an uncertain path just yet, the other room was investigated.

This appeared to be some kind of war room, with papers and writing material strewn across the large table which covered the center of the room, the surface of which was dominated by a large map. This map, fastened to the table by four rune-covered metal spikes, appeared to display a portion of the continent of Aesira, upon the surface of which a number of locations had been marked. Some locations, seemingly as an afterthought, bore a very archaic symbol meaning, among other things, “lord”. The main focus of the map was however a large circle drawn around the town of Dhun Crowe.

Their investigation was short-lived, as another arcane portal sprung forth from the opposite wall, and the party once again found themselves staring down Karadel himself. While the edges of the portals sparked with small embers covering its edge, it seemed reluctant to go up in flames as it had done before. As Karadel crept closer, the spikes holding the map in place vibrated more and more. Using a spell to throw one of them out of alignment, Mattimeo broke the apparent blockage of the portals burning, but not before taking an Eldritch Blast from Karadel. As the portal once again went up in flame, so unfortunately did the map upon the table.

After the somewhat harrowing encounter, the party decided to bust open the large chest located in the room, adjacent to the table. Despite Krov becoming subject to some form of magical ward which had been placed upon the chest, our heroes seemed to have discovered a stash of Karadel’s bloodstained gold pieces, all of which were unceremoniously poured into the Bag of Holding. Having no way out besides forwards, they braved the fractured portal only to be greeted by another, this one assumed to be even more volatile judging by the markings in the surrounding room.

Finding themselves in a pitch black chamber, they could barely make out another active portal on the other side. Making their way ahead, their journey was cut short by the appearance of two enormous insectoid entities bursting through a nearby wall, having seemingly tunneled into the tower. Standing a good 12 feet each, these strange creatures were recognized by Pelaios as a pair of Umber Hulks, as he warned his companions to avert their eyes from their foes. Deciding not to test their luck after an initial assault was easily shrugged of by the entities, our heroes bolted for the portal, becoming thrust through space once again, the Umber Hulks seemingly unable to follow.

Harrowed, exhausted, and with some answers bringing with them many more quandaries, is where we leave our heroes. In the midst of Karadel’s domain, with monstrosities and mysteries all around them, Beyond the horizon.

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Trails of the past
Approaching the tower

In the late afternoon, on the 33rd of Kiriel, we return to Aesira to find our heroes enjoying Dawnbirth in the Pugilist Arms tavern.

After victory was had by Krov in the first round of the qualifier for the Northern Calamity, most of the band celebrated with ale, laugther and mischief aimed at one another before retiring to the Speared Stout inn. The exception to this jolly procession was Notsium Durkax, who followed Clizdis Wilddelver and her drake hound Beinod towards the Quarry Lodge guild. Making his way inside during what was apparently the guilds own celebration of Dawnbirth, he was informed that they would be holding tryouts for membership once the holiday had passed, after which he made his way back to his companions.

In the morning, Beinod came by the inn with a parchment scroll in his jaws, which upon delivery to Durkax was revealed to be a missive regarding a potential quarry which had been stealing livestock and injuring farmers in the northern Blessing. This occurrence was to be investigated, and the creature responsible repelled or eliminated.

Deciding to focus on the more pressing matter of Karadel the Vile, as the missive contained to specified time limit, the party made their way towards the forest of Lînn Woeld. On their way into the woods, they came upon a farm which they had previously passed, now in a state of some disrepair with a number of fallen trees emanating from the treeline.

As night approached, Mattimeo took the first watch and sent out his owl familiar Popcorn to scout the area. The owl came upon a trio of Dire Wolves who were traversing through the area, and would soon come into contact with the campsite. In a moment of inattentiveness, he felt his connection to his familiar cease, as it was slain by some unseen entity.

Waking up the rest of the party as the wolves approached, the situation deteriorated into combat, during which our heroes managed to drive off the great canines from their location. Figuring that they might return in greater numbers, the map was moved to a more northern location.

The next day, our heroes made their way to Karadel’s tower once more. Upon arriving, they discovered a number of disconcerting details. The clearing, which had seemingly drained the life of the nearby plants, had now expanded to an even larger area, leaving the entire treeline withered and dying. The leaves which had sprouted from the treelike tower, previously stained the color of blood, had been drained of any trace of pigment, leaving them the color of bone. Lastly, the black tower had swelled to become even more immense, and where once there was simply dark stone there now lay a cloak of shadow around the entire structure.

Approaching the spire, the party found the body of Kulaf where they had previously left it after having battled both him and his seemingly monstrous brain. Said brain, however, along with the head from whence it sprung forth, were nowhere to be found. As the party made their way up the great steps, they were faced with a great obsidian wall, seemingly devoid of any sort of entrance. Remembering the information they received from Crowley, Mattimeo swept a strange, dark tome across the wall.

Upon coming into contact with the tome, the wall started to crack in a web-like pattern, falling away to reveal a dark void similar to the portals which the party had encountered while traversing the Four Spires within the Sunken City. Making their way inside, the party entered a room dimly lit by torches, and found themselves facing a scrying pool. Upon attempting to peer into the pool, a portal appeared on one of the walls, and our heroes found themselves facing Karadel himself, slowly stalking towards them. Before he could make his way to the parties side, the contract held by Pelaios began to hum and the edges of the portal edges became engulfed in reddish flame and the gateway itself appeared to burn away form the wall.

Standing within the lair of Karadel the Vile, seemingly discovered but protected by some outside force, and with great trials before them, is where we will leave our heroes. In the forest of Lînn Woeld, on the 35th of Kiriel, Beyond the horizon.

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Compact with the broker
Five grades of steel

Around noon on the 32nd of Kiriel, we return to Aesira to find our heroes recovering from manhandling and paralysis by means of Karadel’s hospitality and warnings. Making their way around the Petrified Innkeep with their faculties in order, the band discovered the operator and barkeep of the establishment, lying frozen upon the floor, seemingly having been made subject to a reatment similar to our heroes. Improving over time, the apparently mute barkeep nonetheless managed to communicate with Mattimeo, and did not seem overjoyed with how his day had been going.

Leaving the establishment and making their way southward within Shanties Town, the town appeared to be in festive mood in preparation for the Dawnbirth holiday, which would occur on the following day. The band split up on separate endeavours, with Durkax and Mattimeo heading into the Haedensturm, while Krov and Pelaios made their way towards the ’sharza Smithy.

The Haedensturm duo managed to trade Krov’s old, busted plate armor in Trader’s Square to a Skarra mender by the name of Vapos, gaining a strangely carved staff and a small set of studded leathers in exchange. While trying to sell an unvalued gem, they also bumped into Split the Kenku, who pointed them towards the Wild Bard Jewellry Shoppe. At this location, with the help of the Kenku proprietor Caw, they identified the gem they had found in the Four Spires as a black tigers-eye amethyst, seemingly having been cut by Vehemaia the Patcher , and sold it off for a tidy profit.

Meanwhile, Krov set about forging a second set of studded leathers, while Pelaios went towards the Winter Wind to have a conversation with Gust on the subject of the individual known as Crowley. Trading two weeks of bardic performance in exchange for the information, the Kenku warily directed him towards a tavern called the Cross Roadhouse.

Our heroes later convened at the Speared Stout for the evening, finding themselves to rest in their respective rooms.

On the morrow, after awakening that some of them thought was the giant eagle form of Crom, which turned out to be Durkax fiddling with his new staff, the band started heading towards the Martial Twins district of the Haedensturm in order to seek out Crowley. Arriving at the luxurious tavern, the band was greeted by warm meals, delicious liquors, and the visages of Crowley the Kenku information broker and Garm, his large, black mastiff.

After some discussion, Pelaios agreed to be the signatory to a contract drafted by the broker, granting them information regarding Karadel’s tower and protection against his scrying, in return for an artifact that once belonged to Crowley called the Riftshard Vainglorious. The contract also included two additional, optional riders which could be used by the signatory should our heroes feel the need, but with each coming at a heavy price.

Bidding the enigmatic figure good day, and finding the Cross Roadhouse a simple storefront upon turning around, the band made their way to a tavern they had passed earlier called the Pugilist Arms. Rumors had been going around the city pinning the establishment as one of the few locations at which one could qualify for a martial tournament called the Northern Calamity, a possibility at which Krov leaped.

On their way into the tavern, they met “Dylx” making her way out of the taverns fighting pit after an easy victory, along with a gigantic yeti in a flowery apron called Showshard who appeared to be the manager of the tournament, and Clizdis Wilddelver seemingly playing the part of bookie. Krov entered the octagonal fighting pit, facing of against Vapos, the very Skarra who had bought his old armor the day before.

Making easy work of the mender, Krov found himself victorious, and was made privy to two pieces of information by Showshard: a firehaired female by the name of Ristvek was well on her way to becoming the top contender in Wittershins, the city in which the main tournament was to be held. Additionally, Krov’s next opponent in the pit would be Dylaxsharza herself, his blacksmithing mentor.

Victorious, decently wealthy and with an ominous contract in their possession is where we leave our heroes, in the late afternoon on Dawnbirth, the 33rd of Kiriel, Beyond the horizon.

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On the path of destruction
From chaotic to catatonic

On the morning of the 30th of Kiriel, we return to Aesira to find our heroes rested after their nightly altercation with a large owlbear. Deciding that hunkering down in the forest would not get them anywhere, the party started to make their way toward Karadel’s tower.

After about half their intended journey, they came upon a strange sight. A swath of destruction had seemingly been torn through the forest, with one of the path leading in the direction of the tower, and the other heading further southwest in the other direction. Near the path of devastation, the band found what appeared to have once been an ogre. That is, before it had been seemingly smashed to pieces. Deciding not to linger and wait for what might have been the cause of such calamity, our heroes kept on their course towards the tower.

Arriving in the late afternoon, they were treated to striking scene. The tower, once resembling a kind of obsidian, branching spire had now taken on the visage of an enormous, pitch-black tree with a canopy wreathed in bloodred leaves. One could be forgiven for thinking said leaves contained an illusion of faces upon their form. The clearing in which the tower stood had also expanded, seemingly to accomodate its increased mass, but had seemingly had the life seep from its earth, leaving little behind.

The tower was, however, only the center of a gruesome scene. The ringwall which surrounded the tower had been smashed apart, seemingly following the same path of wreckage upon which the party had stumbled earlier. Solitary remnants of goblins and ogres were found, along with a tree which for some reason appeared to have been chopped down fervently.

Approaching the ringwall, the party was treated to quite the shock as Kulaf’s voice could be heard within their heads, upon which he sprang from within the wreckage of the wall and set upon the party. The party engaged their foe, with Mattimeo freeing the bugbear in place in order for Krov to deal out some well deserved vengeance. As Kulaf strangely asked the dragonborn for aid, Krov dealt him the final blow, seemingly felling the large adversary.

Their celebration was cut short when, out of KUlaf’s head, emerged a creature with the appearance of a much too large brain, but with four reptilian legs. Once again lunging into the fray, the strange creature managed to overwhelm Krov’s mind, rendering him unresponsive, before being dealt the final blow by Pelaios. Looting the body of the bugbear, the party found a note upon his person instructing him to eliminate a person by the name of Crowley, due to them having knowledge of the inner workings of the tower.

Heading back towards Fisher’s Way amidst the sounds of creaking branches and wrathful bellows from the west, the party transported Krov to the house of Old lady Crick, with a brief pause to purchase some tea from Gix, a travelling kobold merchant.

Arriving at the old healer, she asserted Krov’s condition to be beyond her abilities, directing the party towards the Holy Crescent, the temple district of the Haedensturm, and instructed them to seek out a priest named Oro, an acquaintance of Ufah Stonesworn. The following morning, the party sought out the goliath Oro, the high priest, or Incandescent, of the Crucible, a great stone temple dedicated to the worship of Kossuth. After making a generous donation to the temple, Krov was restored to him former, slightly more intelligent self.

Heading back to The Speared Stout, the group informed Joz as to the fate of Kulaf, receiving a familiar letter in return, similar to the one they had previously been sent by Rast. All the while, Mattimeo was outside the building summoning Popcorn, his very own new owl familiar, of which no one took notice upon his return.

Making their way to The Petrified Innkeep as per the letters instruction, the party arrived to find Rast seemingly sitting at a table, having prepared a drink for our heroes in order to celebrate a job well done, all in the mysterious absence of the bartender. Drinking heartily from their tankards, all but one of the party found themselves incapable of movement, with Durkax being hoisted into the air through arcane means instead. Letting his disguise drop, Karadel the Vile sat before the band. He proceeded to warn them that they should stay out of his way, as great and terrible things were coming, and he would not be interrupted in his work.

He also made a point of telling the party that this was their final warning, and it was only extended to them, despite their slaying of his lieutenant, due to the help they had given Gehrman. Feeling that he had indeed made his point, he vanished in a cloud of smoke and brimstone, dropping Durkax to the floor and leaving the party perplexed and, in most cases, paralyzed.

That is were we leave our heroes, on the 32nd of Kiriel, Beyond the horizon.

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Retreating to civilization
Exploring the Haedensturm

On the 27th of Kiriel, we find our heroes bloodied and distraught, standing in the forest of Lînn Woeld. Having had their Bag of Holding taken by Kulaf, Karadel’s lieutenant, in an ambush gone awry, the party decided that they needed to regroup, and headed for Ufah’s farm. Arriving at the house, the Goliath and his relatives did not appear to be present, and so the band decided to head back to Fisher’s Way.

Heading into Shanties Town from the northeast, the players bumped into an unexpected acquaintance en route. Karadel the Vile himself, having recently acquired a fresh corpse, recognized Pelaios as someone who had suffered on his account. As recompense, he gave the bard a bloodred gold piece, as recompense for any injury he may have been caused, and bid the party farewell as he vanished in a flash of smoke and brimstone.

Heading to The Speared Stout, Krov informed Joz as to their difficulties while Durkax made conversation with Sheate and Split, a pair of Kenku patrons. Trading Sheate a glass of ale for some information regarding the local crafts, the Kenku gave mention to two other sources of information besides himself in town: Gust, familiar to the players, and a figure known only by the name of Crowley.

The next day, the party was asked by Joz for a favor, in exchange for a reduction of their by now quite expansive tab. The favor involved heading into the Haedensturm, towards a blacksmiths known as The Armored Toad, in order to acquire some raw materials for his niece Dylx’s endeavours.

Heading into the city, the party were briefly searched and questioned at one of the Sturmwall gates before entering the temple district, at which point Durkax seized a local priest of Kossuth in order to ask for directions. Making their way to their destination, the party had a brief conversation with Clang, the Kenku owner, befor being given some free time while the shipment was connected by Jade, a large blackfurred Tabaxi.

Krov remained at the forge while Mattimeo went to find a local alchemist. Meanwhile, Durkax and Pelaios headed out in search of a map of the city. Mattimeo managed to find an establishment named The Boiled Ettin, an alchemy shop staffed seemingly by a single person,;Old Lady Crick, in the midst of some commissioned draught.
Elsewhere, Pelaios was informed by one of the librarians at The Thinking Advisor Writings that he could either rent one of their maps, or bring a scribe or cartographer of his own in order to make a copy. At the same time, Durkax was caught trying to carve some sort of arcane circle into one of the bookshelves, and the duo were swiftly asked to leave.

After their time of leisure, the party delivered the shipment to Dylx, had a spot of lunch, and made some conversation with the newly arrived Clizdis Wilddelver. who mentioned that the war camps within the forest had seemingly disappeared.

Wishing to investigate, in addition to giving Kulaf the payback he so richly deserved, the party headed for the edge of Lînn Woeld to watch for any goblinoid activity. After spending the better part of two days at the edge of a farmers field with the rain pouring on their heads, the band decided to head deeper into the woods.

During the first watch in the night, their campsite was visited by an inquisitive owlbear which seemed interested in their campfire. Combat was had with the large beast, with Pelaios gaining the killing blow and granting the party their first taste of victory in quite a while. Bloodied in the woods, but this time with the lingering smell of victory around them, is where we leave our heroes during the night of the 29th of Kiriel, Beyond the horizon.

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Kulaf's gambit
An ambush in two parts

In the middle of the night, on the 26th of Kiriel, we return to Aesira to find our heroes fleeing for their lives. Having escaped the clutches of Kulaf only moments ago, the party makes their way into the forest in order to avoid their would-be captors.

After muddling their trail, the band managed to throw the interceptors of their trail, meeting up with Captain Jiro and his recently released companion, Crom the giant eagle. They conversed with the captain about their current state of affairs. Jiro told the party that Crom would need about a week of rest once they got back to Fisher’s Way, during which he would do his best to secure a ship with which they could come to the aid of Tethys, whom he believed was still being held in the same location that he himself had been, below the waters of Dirk’s Cove. After being told to finish up whatever business they had gotten themselves involved with since arriving, the Captain bid them farewell and took to the skies with Crom.

Wanting to put some distance between themselves and the war camp, the party decided to journey somewhat further south, coming upon a small campfire, a dead owlbear and a peculiar pair of creatures. One part of the duo introduced herself as Clizdis Wilddelver,a kobold hunter whom the player had occasionally caught a glance of at The Speared Stout, with the other half of the pair being a strangely draconic hound-like being she called Beinod. After exchanging some pleasantries, she offered the players the companionship of the pair if they intended to make their way back to town. Politely declining her offer, she wished the party good luck in whatever business they had that had infuriated Kulaf to such a degree, and went on her way with the edible parts of the owlbear in tow.

Making camp a short distance away from where the campfire had been burning, the night went by rather uneventfully for the party. In the morning, however, they were surprised to see two goblins seemingly glaring at them from behind the cover of some large trees. Investigating their visitors carefully, it appeared that the goblins had had their lifeless heads pinned to the trees by way of some unusually fletched arrows.

Deciding to set up an ambush for any possible pursuers, the party ventured northward, back towards the war camp. Setting up a large pit at what appeared to be a natural chokepoint, the band noticed the approach of two ogres along with a large, armored form.
Springing their ambush, the party leapt into the fray at combat ensued.

The battle seemed to go in the parties favor. Then, from the left flank, appeared quite the complication. Kulaf sprang forth from his hiding place, shortly followed by the seemingly resurrected Bogin Redcap, and fell upon our heroes. Making his way straight towards Krov, Kulaf wrestled him to the ground and, after a few failed attempts, wrenched the Bag of Holding from his grasp.

As their foes made their escape, seemingly acquiring what they came for after downing Pelaios one last time as a fearsome statement of strength, Mattimeo attempted to sunder the Bag of Holding, risking the dispersal of its content into the Astral Sea in order to keep it from their enemies. Alas, the attempt was valiant but ultimately fruitless, as the magic receptacle held firm while Kulaf and his band made their way into the forest.

Robbed, bloodied and with no good karma in sight is where we will find our heroes next time, on the 27th of Kiriel, Beyond the horizon.

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Assault on Camp Kulaf
Lost, like spears in the rain

On the 26th of Kiriel, we return to our heroes as they make their way toward the large war camp which had been marked on the map they had received from Rast. Following an old game trail, the party was however accosted by a strange creature, goblinoid in appearance, but wearing a bloodred cap along with a pair of heavy iron boots which had seemingly been fused to its legs. The creature, later identified as Bogin Redcap, charged the band with great fury, dropping Mattimeo with an ironbound kick.

During the ensuing battle, the creature demanded that the party return what they had stolen. This tirade did not last long, and our heroes were swiftly victorious. With its final breaths, the creature rasped at the party that they would find them. Gasping its last breath, the iron boots no longer appeared fused to its legs, and the bloodred colour slowly drained from its cap, leaving it a sullen shade of grey.

After this rather unsettling intermission, the band made their way toward the war camp. Arriving at a natural basin surrounded by a steep cliff, with rainfall having overtaken the skies and moving towards becoming a truly torrential downpour, the party spied the camp within the basin itself. Formulating a cunning plan, an unseen servant was tasked with carrying vials of sodium acquired earlier, so as to perform the medieval equivalent of a bombing run upon the camps population of goblins, ogres and worgs.

Once the servant had dropped its load into the face of a patrolling goblin and its canine companion, the party was discovered, horns were blown by the camps inhabitants, and battle ensued.

Our heroes fought bravely, but were pulled into a trap by the occupants of the camp. Once the majority of the band were within reach, one of the camps ogres reached for two large hidden chains. Pulling these taught, a concealed palisade similar to those protecting the points were the cliff no longer provided the camp cover was pulled from the ground, trapping the players inside the camp. During this process, bolts also begun firing from an unknown location towards the covered cage in the rear of the camp.

Once the party had fallen for the trap, their situation did not improve. Exiting the largest tent in the camp, Kulaf the bugbear joined the fray with a great leap, bringing his wrath upon Krov and nearly downing the dragonborn in an instant. The battle continued further, with worgs and ogres dying left and right, Pelaios being knocked unconscious but recovering swiftly, and Krov driven near the brink of his own consciousness twice more.

Then, finally, a distraction! A final bolt rang against the lock holding the cage at the rear of the camp closed. The lock shattered, unleashing a giant eagle, and a familiar gnomish voice ringing out and telling our merry band to get the hell out of their current situation. While the pleyers attempted to fight of their foes long enough to make their escape, Captain Jiro burst into the camp, carried by his companion Crom, the giant eagle. Using a small crossbow in an attempt to give the party some room, the window created allowed Mattimeo to wither the palisade through necromancy.

Once the palisade had been disabled, Kulaf was restrained by Durkax, lest he impede their escape. During this time, seemingly impossinly quickly, reinforcements approached the camp. Nonetheless, the party managed to outrun these new foes and made their way into the woods, chased by the angry roars of the restrained Kulaf.

Fleeing for their lives, with their enemies nipping at their heels, is where we find our heroes in the evening of the 26th of Kiriel. What manner of fate wil befall them the next time we join them, Beyond the horizon?

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Guerilla warfare
Some minds think alike

Having received a strange message demanding their attendance at the Petrified Innkeep, Krov and Mattimeo, the latter in disguise, headed for the location on the 24th of Kiriel. Unbeknownst to them, Durkax had made an attempt to escape his and Pelaios’ hostage-like situation. An attempt which ended with him bound considerably tighter than before.

On their way to the tavern, the Dragonborn and Mousefolk duo noticed a great influx of travelers of both mercantile and mercenary varieties, and were informed that the coming morning was the Opening Dawn, a time when the Council of Paruns were officially out of session, and the gates to the Haedensturm would once again open to the world.

Arriving at the Petrified Innkeep, located in one of the more run-down parts of Shanties Town, in addition to running into one Ufah Stonesworn, satisfied with his procurement of a pair of gloves since their last meeting, the duo had a somewhat strange meeting. The sender of the message turned out to be a Bugbear named Rast, who proposed a way to deal with a mutual problem as the price for the safe return of their companions. The problem in question being Kulaf who, with the help of Karadel, had apparently ousted Rast from the leadership of his clan, replacing him with Kulaf. Rast proposed that if the party were to take care of Kulaf, he would retake the leadership of his clan, remove them from the area, and leave Karadel without a sizeable force protecting his tower. Betrayal would result in the party being ratted out to Karadel, and left to face his wrath.

Agreeing to the proposition, the duo was given a map with four locations marked: an abandoned farm where the rest of the party were held, two scout camps and a sizeable war camp, with all but the farm being manned by those loyal to Kulaf.
Making their way north towards the farm, the duo freed Durkax, Pelaios and Jiro Cognit from their bindings. Captain Jiro revealed that he, along with Tethys, had been held by the shark.like race known as Sahuagin, and had been forced to trade information in exchange for being provided oxygen while underwater.

Getting back to Shanties Town, the party had a few encounters, with Pelaios making the acquaintance of the Tabaxi minstrel Dust, Mattimeo trading a bit of wine to Gust the bartender, and Captain Jiro getting drunk as a skunk.

The following morning, Captain Jiro set out on his own to find his pet eagle Crom, after which he would attempt to secure a ship with which the band could make their way to the island were the Captain and Tethys had been held. Meanwhile, our heroes hit one of the scout camp, and despite an ogre-sized complication, they hit it hard.

During the night, however, some of those on watch could have sworn that they saw movement in the darkness. This was all but confirmed the following morning, when they were greeted with the phrase “You will have to do better than that. See you soon.” having been written in the dirt of the raided camp.

Steeling themselves for further challenges, and knowing that they have probably been discovered, the party makes haste south-east. On the 26th of Kiriel, intent on hitting the larger war camp with all their might, is where we find our heroes, Beyond the horizon.

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Surface tension
Fencing, fighting and fleeing for your life

We return to our heroes moments after having entered the starnge dark portal leading them to a place known as the Master Artisan’s Tavern. Searching the location for clues, the party discovered a collection of bookshelves, each focused on a particular subject and seemingly connected to the mysterious Cern Journal. A thorough evaluation was also made with regards to the drinkable liquor in the vicinity, resulting in 5 bottles of old, fine vintage along with, after an egregious amount of property destruction, a bottle of Tiefling liquor known as “Rivaka”.

Finding two other portals in the area, the band made their way through the one they assumed to be right, leading them underwater, as the other end of the portal was located on a piece of masonry which had become disconnected from the towers some time ago. Here the players could spot a contingent of the shark-like race, the members of which called themselves Sahuagin, along with a huge, four-armed specimen of said race, making their way toward the distant tower.

Pulling themslves back to dry stone, the party made their way through the opposite portal, arriving at the scene of quite a bloodbath. Searching the area, which semmed to at one point have been a place of fencing before being covered in blood, guts and an inordinate amount of metal, the players came upon a sole mechanical construct. The machina, wielding a rapier and being in a bad shape itself, refused the party further passage until it could be bested in single combat. The task was taken up by Krov, who made quick work of the lithe automaton. Two larger constructs then heaved open a great set of metal doors, allowing the band to pass unimpeded.

Moving through the resulting hallway, the party discovered what at some point in time may have been a locker room and adjacent steam room, while also keeping an eye on the spectre looming above, visible through the trancelucent ceiling of the bridging corridor.

Entering another great set of doors, and making their way into the Spire of the Ghostshield, our heroes found themselves facing an enormous sandpit, littered with metal and bones of battles long past. In the corners of the room sttod podiums supporting large crystals, with arcane energy playing across their forms. Each podium contained a simply lever, and holding one of these was a charred, human skeleton.

The parties exploration was however swiftly halted by two Sahuagin, accompanied by the large, multi-armed specimen the player had seen earlier. Activating the the fourth level, it caused each podium to become connected by an electrical barrier not unlike the one which sealed of the spires in the first place. Informing the band that they either had the choice of dying by fighting the Sahuagin, or by drowning if they were to pull a lever to deactivate the barrier. which would cause all barriers in the vicinity to drop as well, battle commenced.

During combat, the larger Sahuagin, later identifying itself as Baron Ronami, was revealed to be in possession of a living shield known to the players. Wielding Captain Jiro Cognit in an attempt to infer doubt into the minds of its opponents, along with using a discarded golem as a weapon once its trident had been thrown, the Baron proved to be a powerful foe indeed.

However, after havin lost his two allies, the Baron seemingly decided that enough was indeed enough, throwing his living shield at the party as a distraction before deactivating the barrier personally. This caused the barriers surrounding the spires to lose their form. Including the one which seemingly kept the spectre at bay.

Crashing down like a thunderblot, striking along the side of the spire, the spectre entered the discarded golel, which was later identified as a Shield Guardian, with the Baron slipping away during the confusion. Healing the band enough for them to make their escape, the Shield Guardian made its way up through the tower, with the party following on its heels.

Through many a perilous situation our heroes prevailed, with the help of the newly conscious construct. Their combined skills, however, could not forestall the working of the ocean, and our heroes were eventually swept away by the flood. The construct used its strength to aid Krov and Mattimeo against the currents, while Durkax, Pelaios and Captain Cognit were seemingly lost to the depths.

Waking up in the company of the Shield Guardian, Krov and Mattimeo attempted to communicate with the automaton in order to understand what events had transpired. The construct pointed to itself, and wrote a singular word in the sand: “Gehrman”, before heading northwards. The duo collected themselves and headed for Fisher’s Way, visible in the distance.

In a different place in space and time, Durkax and Pelaios awoke to find themselves in a dark chamber, bound and gagged. They were soon in the company of a figure they vaguely recognized, the bugbear which had sedated Kulaf a few days prior. The figure sat down on a chair in front of them, and simply mused on the ways it could make use of these fresh bargaining chips.

Arriving at The Speared Stout, Krov and Mattimeo received a note from Joz which had been delivered by unsavory elements one day prior. The note, written in a very rough hand, simply read: “The Petrified Innkeep, three days, or they die”.

Informed by the inkeep that they had been gone for a total of five days, our heroes find themselves nearly drowned, scattered and commanded by an unknown party. Here we leave Aesira, on the 22nd of Kiriel, Beyond the horizon.

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Incursion from the depths
The musical episode

At dawn, on the 18th of Kiriel, we find our heroes resting upon one of the warded bridges connecting the discovered spires. Having investigated the items they had found earlier during this time of rest, Mattimeo ripped a patch from the robe of Vehemaia the Patcher, which changed itself into the form of a Bag of Holding, giving the band an easy way to store their assorted accoutraments.

Moving on, the party followed the bridge to another set of grand doors, these inlaid with scenes of archery and hunting, above which hung a plaque which read: “Spire of the Flusher”. With Krov using his newfound mighty strength to heave apart, and partially break down, the swollen doors, the band found themselves in what appeared to be an old trophy room. Svouting the dark room, the group found themselves among between a number of terryfying beasts including a Dire Wolf, an Owlbear and the mounted skull of what appeared to be an adult dragon. The group also found an adjacent, caved in kennel of some sort, upon the doors of which, one the side leading to the trophy hall, were the words “Feel the bite of fear”.

After some brilliant investigative work, including Durkax experiencing the feeling of being on the other end of a Direwolf attack due to a certain hallucinogen, the group managed to spring open the dragon maw through a series of hidden levers. Venturing inside, they found what looked like a small private study containing a table, what may at one point have been a chair, and a portrait covering one of the walls depicting Olkarn Cern and her black mastiff Rux. Within the study our heroes also found what appeared to be a small hunting journal signed by Olkarn and Odric the Terrarch, which would later be labeled “The Cern Journal” after Durkax attuned to the tome.

Moving down a level within the spire, the party found themslves in a large archery range containing many pieces of equipment, along with evidence of a close, competetive relationship between Olkarn and Delrith, a member of the Forlorn Few. Their trip through history was, however, interrupted by two harrowing discoveries: someone had used the chamber as a campsite, complete with bedrolls, and an armored figure stood gazing towards the party at the other end of the hall.

When the party attempted to investigate this seemingly unmoving figured, they triggered a tripwire alarm, which caused the armored target mannequin to fall to the ground with a tremendous clang. From the depths came creatures somewhere between shark and man, with scales nearly identical to those which covered the arm the party had found upon the Requiescat. Calling to arms, the party engaged these monstrous foes in heated battle, with two of them fleeing to the depths once the fight turned against them.

After recovering from the scuffle, which included Mattimeo removing another patch from the robe, acquiring an Immovable Rod for his trouble, the party made their way out of the tower through a semi-obstructed hallway. Finding themselves crossing the central platform which once connected all the towers to one another, they observed the Spectre hovering over the furthest tower, before making their way to the closest tower, whose doors where inlaid with bardic imagery.

Entering the Spire of the Slayer, a vast musical hall was discovered. With an assortment of stages, and with the tools of the art covering the walls, the heroes drew upon their inner performers.

Pelaios was the first one to mount one of the stages, performing an inspiring percussive cover of The Lay of Sir Savien, earning himself an incandescent rhytm pattern around hiw wrist. While this revealed a series of glowing steps leading up to the chandelier which dominated the ceiling, it also rendered him invisible and silenced to the others as long as he remained upon the stage.

Krov and Mattimeo took to another stage, performing an interesting interpretation of the famous play “Camlet”, with Krov’s very real fury earning him a glowing pattern much like Pelaios, with identical effects.

Durkax attempted to woo the room with his impressive singing voice. The latent magic, however, did not share his draconic tastes, rocketing him headfirst down a stairwell after two failed attempts. Mattimeo was the one who, in the end, claimed the minstrels pattern.

Durkax found his own luck through the base lute, which the latent magic deemed sufficient to grant him the lutists pattern.

Making their way up toward the chandelier from their respective stages, the party found themselves before a dark, aqueous cylinder. One by one, the band entered the cylinder, finding themselves transported through time and space, arriving in what could only be described as a scholars tavern.

Facing mysteries from both above and below, with the musical prospects looking mighty slim, in the middle of a strange, abandoned tavern. This is where our heroes find themselves, Beyond the horizon.

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