Beyond the horizon

In deep waters
Following the cries

On the 40th of Kiriel, at the threshhold to the lower floors of Elur Woede, we return to our heroes slightly off the coast of Aesira.

Having heard a primal cry of pain from further in, our heroes made their way through the forts old armory, filled with gear and armaments long since rusted to the point of ruin, and charged through a doorway covered in a watery refraction, ending up in what appeared to have been the local army records.

Once they entered the room, however, an unseen trap was sprung as nearly the entire room was flooded, upon which a company of sahuagin, including some form of female priestess and a sahuagin baron previously encountered by the party in the Four Spires, made their entrance.

Combat commenced, with all parties becoming bloodied in the fray and the baron succeeding in downing Durkax before he himself fell. Nevertheless, victory was had with one of the sahuagin retreating further into the fort, at which time the refractory barriers dissipated and the water inside proved content to flood other parts of the complex.

Entering what appeared to be, to put it tastefully, an interrogation chamber, the band came across an unfamiliar figure. Proving to be the source of the agonizing howls they had heard before, the human tied to a rack introduced himself as Theopilus “Opie” Wagney, a former crewmember of the Reaver-struck ship that the players had encountered only a f day or so past. Helping the party access the Warden’s Room by picking the lock by using pieces of the sahuagin priestesses holy symbol, and getting to observe Krov annihilating the remaining sahuagin as it tried for an ambush, he quickly made his way inside to gather his own personal gear which had been taken from him.

After informing the band of another, presumably dead, crewmember who had been kept in the inner holding cells and who had been carrying something of value, Opie made his way towards the upper levels of the fort in order to catch his breath. He told the party that there were at least another three subterranean levels to the fort, and he was in no shape to assist them in clearing them of sahuagin. While Mattimeo made a point of asking Captain Jiro if their vessel could be crewed by a single man, the halfling dissuaded any such fears by mentioning that he had contingencies in place for such an event, and besides, such a plan would require the perpetrator to make it passed a giant eagle.

After locating Opie’s associate, and taking a lovely navy blue Cloak of the Manta Ray off his corpse, the party searched through the rest of the floor while Jiro and Mattimeo kept an eye on the stairwell descending deeper into the fort. After scouring a smithy, brewery, bakery and a small chapel of Istishia, they started down the stairs towards the lower levels.

These levels turned out to be somewhat nonexistent, as our heroes found themselves inside a vast network of caves which appeared to have once held a number of small docks connected to the fort, all of which seemed to have caved in a long time ago. Understandably, the discovery of a set of wooden walls in such an environment gave our heroes some pause, after which Krov produced his large, maul-shaped “lockpick” and set about removing the padlock upon the wooden door with extreme prejudice.

Once the door had been sufficiently removed, the party found themselves face to face with an elf prepared for battle in the form of Tethys Zyljeon, having finally found their fellow expedition member. Deciding to subvert normal rescuee protocol, the College representative settled for calling the dumb bastards, and asking if they had any idea what they had done. As a result of their actions, apparently “she” would be making her way towards Elur Woede.

Confused, tired and with more danger apparently on the literal horizon, having encountered a new human and an old elf on the very same day, is where we depart from our heroes, off the coast of Aesira, Beyond the horizon.

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Take a little off the top
Unicorns galore

On the 40th of Kiriel, in the stairwell leading to the highest floor of Elur Woede, we return to our heroes slughtly off the coast of Aesira, the lost continent.

Having encountered two seemingly conscious waves in the rooms ahead, Krov and Durkax went forth to investigate whether these fluid beings would be inclined towards being friends or foes. Seemingly not hostile, the elemental creatures investigated the group in turn, before returning to their previous task of smashing down the locked doors in the fort.

As Durkax followed them along on their mission, things took a turn for the worse as one of the creatures enveloped him within ints watery form, at which time it began to roil with great concussive force. As the second creature charged the group, battle began. Despite a valiant effort to assist his dragonoid companion, Krov found himself outmatched and was struck down by one of the elementals as Durkax struggled within its grasp.

In the other room, Pelaios and Mattimeo threw their arcane spells at the other creature, which resulted in Pelaios being overcome by the primal forces of his magic and summoning a somewhat perturbed unicorn out of thin air. Around this time, in order to investigate the disturbance, Jiro Cognit made his way up the stairs and, upon being confronted with this somewhat messed up situation, vented his feelings with quite the creative string of expletives, as is his way. Making his way to a proper sniping position, the captain also found himself struck down in short order, not being one for melee combat in the best of times.

Overcoming quite the odds, the party nevertheless emerged victorious and received some healing from their recently arrived equine companion, before the unicorn vanished just as swiftly as it had arrived. After shouting the captain back to consciousness, the band went about going through the different rooms and barracks and looting them in their usual manner. After outsmarting, and being slightly outsmarted by, a trapped door further in, our heroes found themselves in what appeared to have once functioned as an officers chambers.

While searching every nook and cranny for loose change, Durkax managed to find a book-shaped lever which led to the opening to a secret passage. Entering the dark corridor beyond and going down a hidden flight of stairs, our heroes found themselves in an old storeroom which appeared to have served as an escape route for the aforementioned officer, containing several things of value, which the party made their own in short order.

Feeling that they had eliminated the possibility of an enemy pincer movement, the band descended down a slightly poily flight of stairs into the bowels of the fort. Sending Popcor the owl forth, the room ahead seemed to be an old armory, with rusted armor and armaments lining the walls and shelves. It was at this point, whilst looking around their environment, that something unexpected seized our heroes attention. A primal scream of fear and pain coming from further in.

Discovering that they are indeed not alone within Elur Woede, not knowing whether an innocent is truly in danger, or if they are being maliciously baited, is where we will leave our heroes. On their quest to rescue Tethys Zyljeon, in the lower parts of Fort Wrath, Beyond the horizon.

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Reavers and Riptides
Reaching Elur Woede

On the 40th of Kiriel, about 30 seconds since we last left off, we return to Aesira to find our heroes shoving into the ships singular cabin and tearing down the sail.

Laying low as a strange ship approaches, possibly carrying the reavers of legend, our heroes received an explanation from Captain Jiro as to why he and Krov have been crippling the ship: privateers can be escaped, pirates fought or bartered with, but when it comes to Reavers you can only go dead in the water and hope that they pass you by.

As the ship passed their smaller vessel by, Pelaios and Durkax managed to get a fairly good view of its deck. What they saw was a collection of ragged figures, squalid souls manning the ropes alongside a massive, crayfish-like beast which seemed to be searching the area for something. Luckily, through a great deal of stealth, our heroes avoided detection and were able to watch the vessel trudge along as they set up a new sail and got on their way towards Elur Woede, also known as Fort Wrath.

Some time later, the sought after island came into view on the horizon. This, however, would be anything but a lazy voyage. From beneath the choppy waters came a swarm of harpoons, and with them monstrous wielders who attempted to wrest the party from their transport and drag them beneath the waves. Battle commenced, with Captain Jiro sniping from the ship and our heroes doing their best to stay afloat. The party emerged victorious, but one of the creatures seemingly escaped their wrath.

After recovering from their nautical altercation, our would-be rescuers found themselves in front of the strcture that once was the fort of Elur Woede. Despite some slight trouble when it came to crossing the moat which divided the bastion from the rest of the small island, they made their way inside as their way was lit by light and flame.

With Mattimeo sending his familar Popcorn along the open areas to scout, the party managed to find a siege supply room, a gatehouse and an upward stairway by going through the unsealed doors and open doorways. Durkax managed to overcome a door which revealed a stairway to the lower levels, but in doing so triggered a trap which dumped a payload of oil upon his head. This was truly unfortunate, as he had been lighting his way with a flame held in his grapped, which resulted in him going up in the now vastly larger flames.

After extinguishing the treacherous flames, the crew made their way upwards, wishing to clear the higher levels of the fort so as to not be caught in a potential pincer attack. As they reached the landing of the second level, they observed that two doors had been seemingly smashed apart, and there was quite a bit of water in the vicinity. Water without an obvious source.

With Krov’s plated visage taking the lead and peeking around the corner, he found himself facing what appeared to be a wave plucked from the ocean. Only this wave had manifested limbs and an eerie imitation of a face, and turned to face the dragonborn just as another, similar creature entered on the other side of the room.

Having reached their destination, but not quite getting away from the troubles of the sea, is where we leave our heroes. On the mission to rescue Tethys from the vile clutches of the sahuagin, facing down new threats in the fortress of Elur Woede, Beyond the horizon.

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Out to sea
Taking care of accumulated errands

After experiencing a strange dream full of death, carnage and several card-carrying knights, we return to Aesira, and find our heroes coming to consciousness on the 38th of Kiriel, in their rooms at the Speared Stout, to the sound of pouring rain.

Heading downstairs for some much needed chow after the events of the previous evening, the party were given a note by Joz, written by Captain Jiro, informing them that he would like to meet them in Surfshard Harbor before sundown. Coming too the conclusion that a number of personal errands had started to accumulate, the group split into two parts to take care of their business before heading out to sea in search of Tethys Zyljeon.

Pelaios and Notsium Durkax headed the way of the Winter Wind in order for the tiefling to check in with Gust, the taverns proprietor, about delaying the deal they had made wherein Pelaios had agreed to perform at the establishment for a span of two weeks in exchange for information. After being informed by the kenku that it would be no trouble to delay for a little while longer, the duo headed towards the Martial Twins district in order to deliver the Riftshard Vainglorious to the enigmatic figure known as Crowley.

Meanwhile, Mattimeo and Krov had headed strait for the Haedensturm, hitting up the Thinking Advisor Writings for some arcane scribing materials, the Boiled Ettin Alchemist for healing draughts, and the Armored Toad Weapon Shoppe so that Krov could expand his already deadly arsenal with an assortment of javelins. Before heading to the harbor, they decided to make one last stop in an attempt of acquiring some spell scrolls, which led them to the quaint wooden hut known as Ilun’s Arcana. Stepping inside, they were greeted by a splendid hallway, complete with a marble fountain at its center, and the spirited, if clumsy, triton proprietor Ilun Woherst.

Perusing her wares, the pair managed to acquire quite a few scribed spells, in addition to gaining knowledge of a local source of arcane accoutraments. On the other side of the city, a tiefling and a blue-scaled dragonborn stepped into the Cross Roadhouse and sealed the first pact of the contract between Pelaios and Crowley, with a comment that they were always welcome in the event of requiring information, or selling their own.

Making their way to the harbor, the party reconvened and met up with Captain Jiro, who had finally managed to acquire a vessel capable of making the journey to where tha halfling had been held by the Sahuagin: Elur Woede, or in the common tongue, Fort Wrath. After Pelaios performed a customary ritual of sacrificing a martial armament to the sea for good luck, in this case his spear, the party once more set out onto the sea that had brought them to this strange continent.

During the night, our heroes were trated to an imposing sight. A shark of gigantic proportions seemed to be approaching the ship during the twilight hours, its fin rising higher and higher in the distance. That is, until it exited the water entirely, skewered upon a massive spear held by an equally massive creature. This was the first time many of the party had ever encountered a real giant. Apart from this interruption, the party would rest easy until the wee hours of the morning, when another vessel was spotted on the horizon. A ship called The Barleyman, seemingly abandoned.

After a few hours of making their approach, the Captain brought the ships as close together as he dared, and the party boarded the vessel to investigate. They found quite a gruesome scene, with a crewmember having been pinned to the mast with a cutlass, and two others having seemingly died from bloodloss, but not before clawing their own eyes out. Scouring the deck for clues, the situation seemed to have been one of escalation, possibly even a mutiny.

As they headed into the ships hold, our heroes were confronted by the surviging members of the crew, thorugh all was not right it seemed. Amidst chatter and chants of offering their bodies and souls to the deep, battle commenced, with our heroes eventually emerging victorious through clever usage of a large cephalopod. After looting the surroundings, the party were called back to their own vessel, as both mattimeo and the Captain had spotted another ship at the edge of the horizon.

Describing the scene to the good captain, everything was well until the clawed eyes were mentioned, at which point Jiro Cognit’s weathered skin went pale as a sheet. Instructing everyone but Krov to head into the captains cabin, the halfling quickly went about tearing down the sails of their vessel rendering them dead in the water. Upon being questioned about his behaviour, the halfling remarked that there was a reason why so few mutinies occured at this day and age.

As crewmates turned on each other, some would experience visions of the things to come so horrifying that they would rend apart their own eyes to be rid of the experience. When the mutiny had ended, and the remaining crew were weak, the reason for that fear would arrive to pick up the pieces, with a simple demand: join or die. Such is the legend of the Reavers.

So, with a strange vessel approaching, potentially filled with deadly adversaries, and an ancient Fort ripe for infiltration, is where we leave our heroes. On the 40th of Kiriel, on the waters of Dirks Cove, Beyond the horizon.

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Vanquishing the Vile
The appearance of the Illithid

In the early hours of the 36th of Kiriel, we journey to Aesira and find our heroes outside the entrance of Karadel’s arcane chamber, through which could be heard the voice of their adversary.

Breaking open the gate, the party found themselves in a vast cellar, pitch black save for the light cast by a rock thrown in by the party, and a sickly glow emanating from behind Karadel. As the sorcerer kept pouring energy into a shardlike object, assumed by the party to be the titular Riftshard Vainglorious requested by Crowley, the two sides engaged in conversation.

Karadel regailed the heroes with tales from his past, when the Forlorn Few were treated as heroes on the continent, until they were lead astray by a man who brought them into conflict with a being called the Elder Consciousness. This conflict led to the death or mental breakdown of he and his companions, with some of them taking desperate measures to rid themselves of the feeling of having their minds under watch. Some time ago, he was visited by one such individual who had “survived” the ordeal. Gehrman Ehlarid, who the party had met in the form of a spectre of lightningwhich they helped bind to a golem, implored Karadel, or Terteias as he was known in their day, to seize his plan to bring war against the Elder Consciousness by summoning a legion of demons form the abyss. Karadel, seeing his friend bound to an iron form, only hardened in his resolve.

Our heroes informed Karadel that his lieutenant Kulafhad been taken over by a creature called an Intellect Devourer. This statement Karadel called lies, and after having asked the party one last time to stand aside and let him do what he must, his patience was at an end. The confrontation lasted for what seemed like ages, with Karadel attempting to wrench apart the mind of the parties spellcasters, but in the process opening their minds to new ways of magic. As the battle raged in front of the black portal which had been created through the ritual, one of our heroes flew a bit too close to the sun. Krov found himself entranced with the gateway, and strode forth into its depths.

On the other side, as he came to his senses, he quickly wished that he had not. Having been on the receiving end of a mental assault by an Intellect Devourer before, Krov immediately fell silent as he found himself standing in a vast underground vault populated with strange, floating beings with many eyes, and the floor of which was possibly littered with Devourers. Realizing that the location might end up his grave, he swiftly retreated back to the fray against the airborne warlock.

Both sides bloodied, Karadel pulled one last card out of his sleeve. Lamenting the fact that he had to rush the ritual, he poured every ounce of power he could into the Riftshard. This had the unfortunate side effect of seemingly overloading the portal, resulting in an arcane explosion which shook the entire tower and filled the chambers with shrapnel and dust.

Once the dust settled, both sides found themselves facing an alarming sight. Three humanoid individuals in imposing cloaks, each long of limb with purplish skin, with two having faces adorned with four tentacles, and the last being adorned with six. Upon seeing the Mind Flayers enter the fray, Karadel apparentely found himself on the receiving end of a nervous breakdown. Revolting against the fact that they were even there, he released a magical assault upon them far more powerful than any spell he had unleashed upon the party. The entities were seemingly unfazed by this, and thanked Terteias for his assistance, as while the overloading of the portal had sealed the original gateway to the vault, it was redirected to whatever location had held them. Shattering Karadel’s mind with a gesture, the creatures made their exit as they instructed the now enthralled warlock to leave no witnesses.

Fighting on as commanded despite having nothing left, Terteias the Vanisher med his end as Mattimeo restrained him while Durkax dealt the final blow to their senior, once an expedition member muck like them. The calm was not to last, however, as the tower began to quake, its foundation seemingly compromised. Facing a living burial, Mattimeo discovered a note within his cloak, instructing them to make for the nearest portal. Leaping through the ink-like gateway from whence they had come, our heroes found themslves in the dead clearing outside of the tower as it crumbled, and a number of large creatures burrowed away from the structure. Feeling the note which had been their saving grace heat up in his pocket, Mattimeo removed it only to find the text changed. Written in the handwriting of Karadel the Vile the note told the party: Beware the man who lead us astray. Beware Crowley. Beware Dhun Crowe.

Making their way from the clearing victorious, but also burdened by the knowledge of even greater foes at hand, the party took a well deserved rest and made their way back towards Fisher’s Way, encountering Ufah in the midst of culling the local Dire Wolf population, after which they travelled in each others company.

Arriving once more at the Speared Stout, the tavern which had been their home since the were shipwrecked upon the continent, the party found the common room in the midst of a jolly bar fight, with Joz laughing and applauding when not lamenting the loss of his barstools. After receiving the news of Karadel’s demise, the old Skarra payed the party for their services on the behalf of the business owners of Shanties Town, sweetening the reward with a magical javelin which he had wielded in his youth.

As they made their way back into the calamitous common room, a familiar voice reached their ears. Captain Jiro Cognit told the party that he had been looking for them for days, having been able to procure a ship, and intending to use it to rescue Tethys from the Sahuagin as soon as possible. With their adversary defeated, and more trouble and mysteries approaching, is were we leave our heroes. In the late hours on the 38th of Kiriel, Beyond the horizon.

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The secrets of the tower
The Redcap returns

On the evening of the 35th of Kiriel, we return to Aesira and plunge into the depths of Karadel’s dark tower. With our heroes having just escaped the horrific grasps of a pair of Umber Hulks, they found themselves in a large chamber lit by firelight.

Investigating their surroundings, it seemed that they had come upon Karadel’s personal chambers, the room adjoined to another filled with an assortment of carved wooden masks, and both rooms being positively covered with parchment sheets of varying subjects. Through their observation and movement about the area, the duo of Mattimeo and Pelaios came upon a hidden teleportation circle, blocked by a steel table which dominated a large part of the mask room. Mattimeo also managed to secure a strange clockwork amulet, as well as some bloodstained coins similar to the one given by the Vile to Pelaios, but made of copper and silver rather than gold.

Making their way further by using the circle, our heroes found themselves in what appeared to be a brutish armory, seemingly used by Kulaf before his final confrontation with the party. The expanse was connected to two other rooms, one devoted to the production and storage of potions, of which the party found a few, and the other being dominated by a strange sight. A massive statue of blackened stone, carved in a mesmerizing pattern of serpentine nature, which lured the gaze of those who observed it into its depths. The room in which the idol stood also contained a small, seemingly stuck scrying pool, while the large effigy faced the rooms entrance.

After imbibing one of the potions, Mattimeo figured out a possible way to alter their circumstances: the potion seemingly gave him the ability to peer into the Ethereal Plane, in which another scrying pillar stood, unreachable by physical means. Magic, however, could affect it, as such eneriges permeate through both the Ethereal and Prime Material Planes. As the pillar was rotated, the serpentine idol rotated with it, coming to a halt facing to its former right. And so the band went back through the portal from which they came, after which Durkax leapt through the pit that seemingly lead to the Umber Hulks.

After making their way through a number of other portals, during which they discovered the autopsied body of the young Skarra whose corpse had been bought by Karadel during their first encounter, came into contact with another Intellect Devourer, and discovered a torn painting of the last expedition, our heroes ended up in a large passage littered with steel tables, surgical equipment and partially eaten corpses. From within the depths of the chamber, two sounds could be heard: the growling of some untold beast, and the telltale sound of a whetstone being run across a wicked blade.

Their fears were realized when, from an adjoining room to their left, appeared a slightly malnourished owlbear with eyes devoid of feeling, collared and chained. Holding the other end of said chain, and walking forth amidst a wicked song, came Bogin Redcap. Making some banter with the party, Bogin seemingly waited for the portal behind the band to cease working, after which he began his assault. Battle was upon our heroes, and though they took quite the beating they nonetheless managed to emerge victorious over their old foe.

Experimenting their way through the teleportation network of the tower for quite a while, the party finally discovered a path yet untravelled, and as they made their way along it each new room was littered with an increasing amount of seemingly arcane leylines. Following these to their origin, our heroes find themselves standing in front of an imposing set of steel doors. The entire structure seems to shake from the arcane pulses which emanate from the chamber beyond, of which they had caught glimpses during Karadel’s various assaults upon them, and through the gates the faint sound of his voice can be heard.

This is where we leave our heroes, in the hours between the 35th and the 36th of Kiriel, as they prepare for what may possibly be their final confrontation with Karadel the Vile, Beyond the horizon.

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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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