Leaves of Sapphire

Temple of the Sleeping God

Echoes of Ostara

In fields of dawn, where sun first kissed the dew,
Rose Ostara, the general fierce and true.
Her eyes, twin stars, reflected heavens’ might,
Her blade, a comet, cleaving through the night.

A demon scourge, from skies of cosmic blight,
Descended, cloaked in shadow, endless night.
With clash of steel and thunder’s choral boom,
They met in fight, beneath a shattered moon.

Wounds etched like constellations on her skin,
Ostara fell, the demon’s essence in.
She vanished then, consumed by starlight’s curse,
A whispered legend, lost in time’s vast verse.

Five centuries of embers turned to flame,
Her crusaders’ blood, consumed by twisted aim.
A cult rekindled, shadows dance and leer,
Whispering her name, sacrificing those dear.

Innocents snatched, dead brought back to their feet,
To keep her powers, through her continued sleep.
But fate’s cruel hand, a twist it does command,
An Avatar, thrusts heroes to the sand.

With grit and doubt, they face the rising dawn,
Where memory and monster intertwine in one.
Can hearts unchained defy the dark’s decree?
Can Ostara’s legacy rise, reborn and free?

Shadows of Berganberg

As the company, comprised of Varjo, Taela, Tron, and Svetle, bade farewell to their fellow survivors of the Gildenloewe Manor—Thunder, Guy, and Theodoric—setting off on their own mission for Wicks and the Avatar, a pair of new comrades joined their quest. Anastasia D Aster, an elderly Human Echo Knight, and Wisti Roselia, a young Treefolk Divination Wizard, were introduced into their fold.

Armed with a communication device from Wicks for both internal reporting and external correspondence, they departed for Berganberg. En route, while resting on the outskirts of the city, Taela discerned a group of humanoid figures lurking in the shadows. Anastasia, bold and unflinching, attempted to draw their attention.

Slowly, the figures closed in on the encampment, only to reveal themselves as mindless thralls—pale, irisless-eyed creatures—who launched an assault on Anastasia. The ensuing skirmish resulted in their annihilation, but tragically, Rein, the elderly wagoneer, was found lifeless on his stool, a heart attack claiming him after the fight.

Examining the bodies, Taela detected traces of necromantic magic. Varjo, under Taela’s guidance, extracted tiny cylindrical objects from the thralls’ brain stems. Another attempt to probe revealed the contents— Blue Resin-filled, yet unrelated to the Avatar’s craft, as confirmed by Wicks.

Pressing onward into the city, they contacted Elisa Horn, the guard captain, uncovering the grim reality of escalating kidnappings over the last three months. A board adorned with missing persons’ notices—28 in total, exclusively Human or Safyrian, aged 18 to 23—outlined the severity of the situation.

Despite Tron’s scrying efforts in the Outer City, their search for similar cylindrical objects to the ones they found on the thralls bore no fruit. Elisa detailed Duke Conrad’s pressing demand for answers regarding the recent disappearance of his son, Baldewin, last seen carousing with friends at the Vulgar Peacock in the Outer City.

The party, after a cursory investigation, sought shelter at a nearby inn run by the Safyrian proprietress Elsie. She agreed to facilitate their meeting with Udo, the adjacent Vulgar Peacock’s tavern keeper, the following morning.

Udo divulged encounters with a peculiar pair of elves offering suspiciously lucrative delivery jobs to regular patrons. In the trade district, they encountered Steube, an orange-clad Salimar merchant selling refined Resin, who revealed sluggish business in Berganberg compared to Sternendorf, oddly enough for such a small town.

Anastasia’s attempt to lure kidnappers to her led to a chase involving cloaked figures conversing with a beggar. Pursuing them, Anastasia and Tron located their target blocks away.

Though Varjo attempted interception, Anastasia managed to close in, only to be thwarted as the hooded figures unsheathed their swords. In a hard-won battle, the party emerged victorious, capturing two assailants, one named Orbryn, and uncovering a note linking them to Dawson, mentioning an urgent trade district rendezvous in two days.

The group extracted Dawson’s address from a captive, facilitated by Varjo’s healing potion. Prisoners and corpses were surrendered to Elisa, revealing Dawson’s shady reputation and prompting a request to inspect outbound shipments for potential captives.

Upon suspicions of corruption within Elisa’s ranks, Evert, a guard with dubious financial behavior, became a focal point for the party’s inquiry. Interrogating him confirmed his complicity in facilitating shackled people’s passage through the gates.

Following a night’s rest, the party initiated an audacious infiltration of Dawson’s opulent mansion. Anastasia, posing as Orbryn to lead the rest of the party in as new kidnap victimes, managed to enter. A demand for enchanted collars on these “kidnap victims” from Dawson led to a refusal to comply, ensuing in a violent confrontation where Dawson’s bodyguard Agatha and her thugs were vanquished.

Meanwhile, Varjo, who had complied earlier and led through an enchanted door to another location, faced a hooded fey woman in an enigmatic basement, succumbing to her otherworldly assault and sustaining grave internal injuries as she tried to break out and rejoin her colleagues.

Cornering Dawson, the party extracted information on Varjo and Baldewin’s location—Durin’s Hall. In an act of retaliation, they set Dawson’s estate ablaze, later prompting Elisa’s revelation of Durin’s Hall’s whereabouts as she took Dawson into custody from the party.

At Durin’s Hall, a calculated chaos to scatter innocent bystanders with fire enabled the rescue of Varjo and the other captives. In the ensuing turmoil, the party came face to face with the cult’s local cell leader, Elias, causing further property damage and while evading his pursuit.

Returning Baldewin to Elisa earned them a reward of 300 gold sovereigns. Seeking aid for Varjo’s injuries, they ventured to the Temple of Varthen, known for unorthodox treatments and possible ties to Dawson’s underworld. Payment for Varjo’s surgery came at a steep cost, prompting a daring heist of the head priest’s vaults to reclaim their funds.

Their exploits brought them face to face again with Elias, who led a cultist group. Following a strenuous battle, they discovered crucial information in Elias’ possessions—a notebook, keys to cult safe houses, and instructions from someone named Qildor concerning deliveries between Berganberg, Totenschloss, and Sternendorf, tying into Theodoric’s investigation.

Unveiling Sternendorf’s Secrets

The aftermath of the intense battle left the party covered in dust and debris as they stood amidst the remains of the cultists’ failed resistance. Elias lay unconscious, flanked by the lifeless bodies of two of his subordinates and two others who had surrendered. The party, frustrated by their inability to extract information from the captives, summoned the guards for assistance in relocating the prisoners and the deceased to the dungeons and the morgue, respectively.

A day passed as Elias lingered, unyielding to interrogation attempts. In a last-ditch effort, Varjo administered a potion of command down Elias’s throat, while Anastasia invoked the magical word “Reveal.” The Lagocavian warlock reluctantly divulged a rough description of Totenschloss and its location in the Schildwald. Yet, this information proved insufficient for the party’s quest.

Tron and Anastasia attempted a different approach. They appealed to Elias’s potential scholarly interests, seeking information about the entity the cult worshipped. Elias disclosed that the cult revered Ostara, a legendary Fey heroine who, 500 years ago, led a crusade against a monstrous demon that wreaked havoc on Servasberg. To preserve her image, Ostara’s crusaders took her to Totenschloss after she was gravely wounded in the final confrontation. Elias explained that her condition worsened as she became more alien, and in a desperate attempt to preserve her, they placed her in stasis. The cult had watched over her ever since.

Elias added a crucial detail—only Fey had a 100% success rate in the ritual to take Ostara’s light into themselves, while other hopefuls risked their lives. Armed with this newfound knowledge, the party delved into the cult’s safehouses, finding most already emptied. However, they discovered a warehouse containing waypoint notes guiding the way to Totenschloss and an ancient bipedal war machine suspended from the ceiling.

Wisti and Tron identified the machine as likely of ancient Dwarven origin. Within it, a mutilated Dwarf was connected with hoses and cables. Tron’s healing spell revived the Dwarf, and Wisti attempted to disconnect him, unintentionally causing significant harm. With the Dwarf’s final grateful look, the party discovered clues about Totenschloss.

With the location in hand, the party prepared for the journey, using their wagon to reach the fortress ruins. The journey remained uneventful until they reached the eerily quiet town of Sternendorf. Fields lay untended, buildings shuttered, and a haunting silence prevailed. Anastasia, recalling Theodoric’s team investigating the town, managed to contact Guy, who urgently revealed that they were in the Baron’s basement under siege. He disclosed the Baron’s involvement in the undead problem, driven by experiments to resurrect his wife.

The party departed from the desolate town of Sternendorf, their wagon rolling along the path towards the east. In the distance, the Baron’s manor perched atop a small hill, encircled by an imposing iron fence. The journey led them to the eerie sight of freshly slain bodies strewn along the path, and a relentless horde of zombies surrounding the estate.

Anastasia, keen-eyed as ever, identified a ventilation shaft near the corner of the estate. Unlocking it, the party slipped through, finding themselves in a basement laboratory dominated by a central metal table. A glass cylinder contained a red-haired woman, suspended in a slightly viscous fluid. Tron, driven by impulse, shattered the glass, only to find the woman comatose. Svetle’s examination revealed she suffered from Heartrot, an aggressively fatal disease.

Documents in the laboratory unveiled the woman as Hilda, the Baron’s desperate attempt at a cure went fruitless. Baron Ruland, driven by desperation, had met a mysterious man named Qildor who supplied him with resources for his experiments in bringing the dead back to life.

The party’s intrusion stirred zombies into action, attacking them in the laboratory. Swiftly dealing with the threat, they pressed forward, discovering a large chamber with metal tables and two heavily armored guards commanding a horde of zombified women and children assaulting a wooden door. A surprise attack saw the guards and zombies dispatched with minimal harm.

The door swung open, revealing Guy, Theodoric, and Thunder. Theodoric expressed gratitude for the rescue and explained their mission to sabotage the Baron’s experiments with minimal casualties had gone awry.

With their group reunited, the party ascended to the manor to confront Baron Ruland. Taela and Anastasia encountered an elderly woman in the kitchen, attempting to deceive her. Failing to do so, Anastasia’s demeanor shifted, prompting a physical confrontation that left the elderly woman unconscious.

Moving to the next level, Anastasia, disguised as Hilda, persuaded a patrolling guard to lead her to Baron Ruland. The party waited in anticipation outside the door. After a series of introductions and long pauses outside closed doors, Anastasia entered, greeted by the Baron’s simple words, “Hello, whoever you are.”

Anastasia, despite failing to fully deceive Baron Ruland, skillfully wove a tale, convincing him she delivered a shipment of bodies from Qildor, with the disguise merely a cruel prank. While the Baron’s attention was occupied, Varjo stealthily navigated the second level, discovering the female cultist who had previously grievously wounded her, now waiting in a bedroom with soiled clothes.

Anastasia led the Baron’s captain to their wagon outside, allowing the party to hide. She then returned to the manor, leaving the guards to continue their work. Regrouping on the second level, Anastasia, Wisti, and Varjo launched a surprise assault on the Baron, executing Theodoric’s mission to eliminate him. The Baron sought refuge under his metal desk, summoning the zombies that surrounded his estate.

Below, the rest of the party and Theodoric’s team faced the approaching horde. Anastasia’s team overcame the Baron and his guards, seizing the amulet that commanded the zombies. Wisti used the amulet to compel the undead to stand down. In the aftermath, they found Theodoric tying up the guard captain and his subordinate. Varjo tried to reason with them, but they saw the party as terrorists, blinded by their loyalty to the fallen Baron.

In a shocking turn, Wisti coldly murdered one of the subdued guards in front of Theodoric. Using the amulet, Wisti commanded the remaining zombies to follow their convoy, leaving a pack behind to complete the gruesome task of slaughtering those left inside the manor.

Returning to Totenschloss, the party was allowed entry by the guard. Inside, they encountered a disappointed yet relatively hospitable cultist who questioned the unfulfilled cargo promise. While attempting to sneak the Baron’s zombies into the compound as backup, the party also learned that Grand Magus Qildor and Linn were in the inner sanctum. However, their attempts to enter were thwarted, and they were denied permission to camp within the fortress walls.

As they departed, Varjo took a drastic measure, shooting the ropes operating the gates. One snapped, preventing the gates from closing and leaving the party in a precarious position within the mysterious fortress. The enigma of Totenschloss deepened as the party stood on the precipice of discovery, surrounded by secrets and uncertainties.

Trapped Between Monstrous Choices

The afternoon was fraught with tension as the party stood off against the guards of the fortress monastery for Varjo’s actions. Varjo, quick on her feet and silver-tongued, managed to pacify the irate gate guard by feigning a weapon malfunction, enduring a minor beating before slipping away. Meanwhile, Svetle received orders for reassignment, while Taela was informed of a new member, Cessnoc, soon to join their ranks. With the group finally assembled, they turned their attention to their next objective.

Their plan hinged on a horde of zombies, corralled from Ruland’s estate, to distract the fortress’s guards while they infiltrated its keep. After some trial and error, they succeeded in commanding the undead mass, using them as a diversion to slip past the vigilant sentries.

Inside the keep, they found themselves enveloped in near darkness, the once-grand structure now a shadow of its former glory. Anastasia’s clumsy attempt to open a set of double doors alerted a group of cultists within, who turned to confront the intruders.

Thinking quickly, Varjo, Taela, and Cessnoc improvised a ruse, conjuring a makeshift effigy of Ostara to sway the cultists to their cause. Though one remained skeptical, the majority fell to their knees in worship, giving the party a momentary advantage.

But the peace was short-lived as the cultists, realizing the deception, launched a vicious assault. The battle was fierce, with Anastasia and Varjo barely escaping death’s grasp amid a storm of bolts and blades. Eventually, the party emerged victorious, though not unscathed.

As they caught their breath, Varjo discovered a hidden button on the altar, revealing a staircase leading deeper underground. In the depths, they encountered a sinister scene: a corridor flanked by statues of a grotuesquely obese figure, culminating in a circular chamber where Mistress Linn and her remaining witches conspired.

With Cessnoc’s keen senses, they eavesdropped on the witches’ conversation, learning of their intent to unleash dreadful creatures upon them. Among the whispered words, Cessnoc recognized the ominous clicking of “handcrawlers,” tiny beasts he knew spelled danger.

Armed with this knowledge, the party braced themselves for the horrors lurking in the depths of the fortress monastery, knowing that their greatest challenges lay ahead.

From the shadows, the party launched a surprise attack on Mistress Linn and her remaining cultists, as well as their Handcrawler pets. Despite the element of surprise, the cultists put up a fierce resistance, but the party emerged victorious, albeit bruised and battered from the encounter.

Pressing forward, they entered the final chamber of the fortress monastery, where they found Qildor seated amidst a collection of ornate steel chairs. In the center of the chamber stood an ancient machine upon a pedestal, with a large, ornate brass throne housing the mutated form of Ostara behind a shimmering force field. Her grotesque appearance, with raw flesh and stretched skin, sent shivers down their spines.

Qildor interrupted their advance, seeking dialogue. He acknowledged their interference with his plans to sustain Ostara’s dormancy, revealing his desperation to prevent her awakening and the subsequent devastation it would bring. Despite his self-sacrifice to feed the throne, Qildor radiated immense power, hinting at the power he could still wield.

As the party explained their mission to dismantle the cult, Qildor pleaded with them to reconsider. Killing him would unleash Ostara, condemning the region to chaos and death. He disclosed the Order’s legacy of keeping Ostara dormant, sustained by the life essence of powerful Grand Magi. However, recent times had seen a surge in the throne’s appetite, threatening Qildor’s very existence.

Desperate for a solution, Qildor implored the party to aid him in securing more sacrifices to stave off Ostara’s awakening. Despite his pleas, the party scrutinized the throne, suspecting it to be the source of the escalating crisis. Qildor confessed his ancestors’ ignorance regarding the device’s workings, despite their mastery of its operation.

Upon conferring with Wicks, the party received grim news: the Avatars demanded Qildor’s demise, unconcerned with the potential consequences. Faced with a moral dilemma, they chose to collaborate with Qildor, opting to seek outside help through in repairing the throne. Wicks, sympathetic to their cause, directed them to a knowledgeable contact outside the monastery, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the encroaching darkness.

Repairing Ostara’s Throne

The Aftermath of Qildor’s Sanctum

The party departed Qildor’s sanctum, their footsteps echoing through the eerie silence. The hatred in the eyes of the surviving cultists burned like smoldering embers, but the heroes pressed on, undaunted. They passed the mountain of undead corpses, a grim testament to the battle that had raged within these walls.

Meeting the Artificer

Reaching the agreed-upon meeting site, the party waited through the night. The next morning, a gyrocopter arrived, bearing a nervous-looking Coretex artificer named Calixis, accompanied by two collaborators, Maxine and Minnie. Calixis explained that while he could potentially repair the throne, he would need more information, perhaps even the original plans from its creator, the ancient mage-king Valder. He suggested the party seek out a village once ruled by Valder, located to the east, in search of clues.

Ambushed by Bounty Hunters

As the party prepared to depart, they were accosted by a group of arrogant bounty hunters, demanding the surrender of their members. Anastasia was willing to comply, but the rest refused to part with their hard-earned gold. In the ensuing battle, a javelin from a hidden hunter struck Anastasia, killing her instantly. The party fought valiantly and emerged victorious, finding evidence that the bounty hunters were under contract from Dawson’s men.

Tracking the Wildlanders

Undeterred, the party headed east, as Calixis had suggested. Along the way, they discovered the remains of a fishing camp, with signs of a recent struggle. Maxine and Varjo deduced that the camp’s occupants had been attacked by Thornwood Stalkers and fled northward.Continuing their journey, the party reached the abandoned and overgrown village Calixis had mentioned. Taela’s search uncovered an ancient parchment hidden beneath the floorboards of a building. As evening fell, the party was ambushed by a hail of arrows from the treeline, revealing an entire army of Wildlanders.

Negotiating with the Bear Tribe

Maxine bravely approached the Wildlanders, and with Cessnoc’s help, they were able to communicate. The Bear Tribe elder, though initially hostile, agreed to share information if the party completed two tasks for him. The first was to rescue two of their kinsmen, Hagen and Yiva, who had gone missing while foraging for food.However, when Maxine attempted to hold the elder hostage, she was swiftly brought to the brink of death by the Wildlanders, who warned the party never to try such a thing again. Cessnoc and Tron were taken as temporary hostages and guests as the tribe retreated into the forest, leaving the party with their new mission.

Deciphering King Valder’s Biography

As the party rested for the night, Taela and Wisti delved into the ancient text Taela had discovered in the abandoned village. To their fascination, the text turned out to be a biography of King Valder, a powerful mage-king from thousands of years ago. The text revealed that Valder had united the Wildlings of the Schildwald into a single nation, and had even been perceived as a god by his people. However, he was eventually challenged and defeated by a powerful Fey goddess, who then built a monastery over the ruins of his palace. The biography also noted Valder’s hedonistic tendencies, his love for fine food, wine, and music.

Tracking the Missing Foragers

The next day, the party returned to the stream where they had found the abandoned fishing camp. Though the trail had grown cold, they pressed on, determined to locate the missing Bear Tribe foragers, Hagen and Yiva. As daylight faded, they stumbled upon the two bodies in a clearing north of the camp.

Ambushed by Vine Creatures

Cautiously entering the clearing, the party was ambushed by strange, writhing vine creatures that massed together into humanoid shapes. The battle was fierce, bringing Wisti and Varjo to the brink of death as more of the creatures emerged from the treeline and the corpses of Hagen and Yiva. Ultimately, the party prevailed, recovering the bodies of the fallen foragers.

The Treelike Creature

On their way back, the party witnessed a herd of deer stampeding across their path, as if fleeing from some unseen threat. Wisti’s owl familiar was sent to investigate, and it spotted a large, treelike creature with a crown of branches sitting in a nearby clearing, surrounded by the corpses of local fauna. The creature seemed to be drawing sustenance from the bodies, and Wisti’s owl also noted a magical ring hanging from its branches.

Confronting the Treelike Creature

Eager to claim the treasure, the party decided to confront the treelike creature immediately, fearing it might disappear if they waited until next dawn. They crept through the treeline to ambush the creature, and the ensuing battle was fierce. The creature’s powerful blows knocked Varjo unconscious, but Wisti and Taela’s magical attacks eventually brought it down.

Returning to the Bear Clan

Upon returning to the abandoned village, the party was met by the Bear Clan healer, Ulla. After reporting the fate of Hagen and Yiva, the party was led back to the Bear Clan camp, where they reunited with Tron and Cessnoc, who had been treated well during their time as “guests.”The Bear Clan Elder, Wulfgar, then requested the party’s assistance in dealing with the issue of the Hogshaw Clan, who were encroaching on the Bear Clan’s hunting territory. Wulfgar shared that the Hogshaw territory lay beyond the Black River to the northeast of the Bear camp, and that the two clans had a long-standing animosity, with every encounter resulting in a fight.

Tracking the Hogshaw Hunters

Heading towards the Black River, the party came across a recent kill that had been fully stripped, indicating the presence of hunters. They followed the trail and encountered a band of Hogshaw hunters, their faces painted in green and white war paint.Taela attempted to approach them, while the rest of the party hid. The initial contact was tense, as the Hogshaw hunters saw Taela as easy prey. However, when the others revealed themselves, the Hogshaws became more defensive. Taela warned them about the threat of Ostara and offered peace with the Bear Clan, but the Hogshaws declined and began to retreat.The party tracked the Hogshaws across the Black River and into their own territory, where they set up camp for the night. The party hid nearby and eavesdropped on the Hogshaw leaders, Odina and Fribert, who expressed concern about the additional threat of Ostara on top of the blight and famine affecting their clan.

Negotiating with the Hogshaws

The next dawn, the party made themselves known to the Hogshaws once more, surprising them. This time, they were able to convince Odina and Fribert that they could help with the Hogshaw’s problems. Odina reluctantly agreed to bring them back to their camp, where the party witnessed the dire state of the land – the dying flora and fauna, the barren and blighted landscape.At the Hogshaw camp, the party met Odina’s father, Lothar, the Hogshaw Clan chieftain. He explained that the blight had started several months ago, with patches of blighted land appearing and a foul, blighted creature being spotted in the area to the east of their camp.

Tracking the Blighted Creature

The party spent the night with the Hogshaws and set out the next dawn to track the blighted creature. They eventually found themselves outside a cliff face and a cave entrance, and Cessnoc scouted the cave, witnessing the creature itself oozing pus and releasing miasma balloons.The party lured the creature out of its lair and engaged it in a brutal but quick battle, ultimately dispatching the creature. Maxine’s investigation revealed that the creature had no organs or brain, only sacs of blighted poison.

Investigating the Cave

Cessnoc and Minnie proceeded to investigate the cave further, finding the rock warped and covered in a fleshy substance, and a pool of thick, toxic sludge at the end. Fearing the effects of pressing further, the party decided to turn back, though Wisti had a sinking suspicion that the issue of the blight had not been fully resolved.Returning to Lothar, the party presented the head and pelt of the creature they had killed, which was enough proof for the chieftain that they had rendered much-needed aid. In gratitude, Lothar shared the location of a secret shrine that stood over the location of King Valder’s hometown, a place where the chieftains and elders of the various clans and tribes descended from Valder’s people would meet to settle disputes.

Rushing to the Shrine

Fearing they were already losing valuable time after hearing news from Calixis about Wicks’ disappearance and their insubordination to the Avatars, the party decided to push forward through the night. Tron, in his tiger form, offered to pull their wagon at a breakneck pace, despite the severe exhaustion it would cause him.

Summoning King Valder

They reached the shrine at the break of dawn, a place marked by stellae depicting the crests of the various tribes of the Schildwald. Remembering Taela’s discovery of King Valder’s biography, the party prepared a feast of wine, meat, and music, placing it upon the pedestal before the stone dais. Cessnoc’s rhythmic drumming completed the ritual, and soon the flamboyant and morbidly obese King Valder emerged from the forest, seated upon his ornate, self-propelling carriage as the trees parted before him.

Audience with the King

Valder partook in the feast and music, magically levitating the feast into his mouth before allowing the party an audience. Initially unwilling to help the elvish descendants who had ousted him, Cessnoc was able to convince Valder to provide assistance, arguing that the tribes living in the Schildwald did not deserve the suffering Ostara could bring.

Valder’s Gifts

Valder provided the party with a small, stone construct named Chuck, armed with the tools and knowledge to repair the throne Valder had created. When the party inquired about the blight, Valder revealed that they had not yet destroyed the true source – a rock within the cave that emitted an energy that would rip asunder the essence of beings like him. Valder gifted the party with magical suits and a warhammer to protect them if they returned to the cave.

Expedited Travel

Pressed for time, the party asked Valder to assist them in returning to his former palace. Valder obliged, creating a pool of mercury that pulled them through the earth at immense speed, though the effects of the travel were both nauseating and disorienting.

Confronting the Avatar Threat

Discovering the Drop Pod

As the party landed near Qildor’s fortress, they discovered a drop pod within a nearby crater. Breaking into the pod, they ransacked it, acquiring valuable high-tech tools.

Ambushing the Avatar Conscripts

Following a trail of destruction, the party witnessed another group of Avatar conscripts supporting a gigantic bipedal war machine assaulting Qildor, who sat before Ostara’s throne, attempting to defend himself. The party seized the opportunity to ambush the conscripts from behind, leading to a fierce battle for survival against their magically-equipped foes. Varjo narrowly escaped death multiple times before the party finally dispatched their enemies.

Aiding Qildor and Calixis

Turning their attention to Ostara’s throne room, the party saw Qildor and Calixis under attack from an Avatar war machine firing missiles and laser beams. They joined the fray, distracting the machine while Wisti delivered the killing blow to the Lagocavian pilot with a bolt of lightning. The pilot’s death throes triggered a self-destruct sequence, hurtling the party backward and injuring Maxine.

Repairing Ostara’s Throne

As Varjo tended to Maxine’s wounds, Chuck set to work repairing Ostara’s throne. After a few hours, the construct reported that the throne was fully functional once more, capable of containing Ostara for another couple of hundred years.

Dealing with the Avatar Threat

Tron and Cessnoc heard a voice from the war machine wreckage, commanding the pilot to report in. Taela imitated the pilot’s voice, assuring the voice that their mission was complete. Meanwhile, Calixis appealed to the City of Lights, learning that while three of the five Avatar Houses would forgive the party’s mutiny, Matron Maizara and House Rai’ya would not.

Resisting the Great Old One’s Influence

Taela temporarily took Qildor’s place on his seat, allowing the Grand Magus to rest. However, in her proximity to Ostara’s power, Taela felt the weight of her patron’s will, urging her to kill Qildor and Ostara and consume her power. Taela resisted with sheer willpower, forcing her patron out of her mind.

Preparing for Departure

Before departing, the party spent three days rebuilding the drop pod with salvaged parts from the Avatar war machine and Dawson’s dwarven war machine, concealing it as best they could.

Destroying the Blighted Rock

The party then retraced their steps to the cave where they had fought the blighted beast, noticing that the Hogshaws had abandoned their camp. Donning the suits gifted by Valder, they waded into the toxic waters, reaching an inner cave where a grand crystalline rock dripped greenish ichor. Wisti took Valder’s hammer and smashed the rock, causing it to crumble and open a pit into the abyss below. Maxine teleported Wisti to safety as the cave began to collapse around them.

A Harrowing Escape

As dust and debris rained down, cracks appeared in the cavern’s ceiling, revealing glimpses of sunlight. Cessnoc flew Taela up on his broom, allowing her to shatter the rock with magic and reveal an escape route. Cessnoc sent his broom back for Varjo and Wisti, while Tron transformed into an eagle and took to the skies, narrowly avoiding collapsing boulders. Maxine and Minnie attempted to leave the way they came, and the group fled the collapsing plateau, leaping off the cliff face just in time to reunite with the others.

Matron Maizara’s Arrival

Calixis warned the party of an incoming threat, but it was too late – Matron Maizara’s flying chariot roared overhead, and she landed before them. As the party tried to flee, Maizara took a devastating shot at Varjo. Two more flying chariots arrived, bearing a pair of Avatars who deflected Maizara’s attacks. A thunderous clash ensued before Maizara retreated, heeding the Avatars’ warning.

A Temporary Reprieve

Taela amused the intervening Avatars with her proficiency in the Ashurean language. The Avatars, eerily similar in appearance with features of young women and glowing red eyes, warned that they were only there to keep Maizara in check, not defend the party. They cautioned that Maizara would never stop hunting them and advised them to seek powerful allies.

Seeking Assistance

Tron begged the Avatars for protection, but they refused. The party then sought advice from Calixis, who suggested returning to Qildor for help. King Valder, while unwilling to directly confront an Avatar, advised the party to seek powerful relics from a Leylaxian tomb dedicated to Ostara’s Asuryani crusaders, located south of his palace. In exchange for a magical ring from Tron, Valder provided magical consumables and the tomb’s trap schematics.

Entering the Tomb

With Valder’s aid, the party returned to Qildor’s fortress, reuniting with Calixis and Chuck. Qildor offered the location of the same tomb and the key to open it, warning of the creatures that now overran it. He cautioned that once entered, the door could not be opened again unless respects were paid before the statue of Leylaxi at the end.

Facing Dangers Within

Descending into the tomb’s darkness, illuminated only by Taela’s magic, the party was ambushed by a horde of oversized roaches attracted to metal. Taela drew their attention, wading into the horde while casting an immolating spell, suffering injuries before Varjo’s healing potion saved her. They continued, clearing traps and slipping past a pair of Medusae in a room filled with lifelike statues, finding a wall scribbled with the ominous words, “The elf will betray you.” In the next room, Tron’s blessed light ball collided with a massive centipede with a human face, which reared and lunged at the door.

Confronting the Necrotic Centipede

Wisti identified the creature before them as a dreaded Necrotic Centipede, a horror from the depths feared by miners. The party attempted to flee past it through the exit indicated by an elven statue, as Wisti held the creature at bay.

The Poisonous Trap

The party entered what seemed to be a dead-end room, with a hole in the wall, a gated chimney, and a simple altar with a golden spear. Varjo’s hasty grab for the spear triggered a gas trap, locking and poisoning everyone except Minnie. Taela, in a poison-induced mania, attacked Minnie before she could administer an antidote on herself.

Escaping the Gas Chamber

Maxine broke down the locked door separating her from Wisti, allowing the young mage to flee the centipede. Hiding from the creature, Cessnoc downed a potion to turn gaseous and slipped through the chimney gate, emerging above ground in an old slavers’ camp. Reunited, the party waited out the centipede, which had bored a hole and left the room. Wisti, however, sensed it lurking beneath them.

Confronting the Pale Humanoids

In the next room, Maxine and Minnie encountered six tall, pale humanoids with void-like eyes and mouths, who immediately turned and growled at them. As the duo retreated, the creatures gave chase, enraged by Minnie’s gaze. The party tried to hold the line, but the creatures burst through, engaging any who locked eyes with them. The battle was fierce, and the creatures tore Minnie apart and incapacitated Cessnoc before the party prevailed.

Paying Respects to Leylaxi

The party discovered a vertical shaft leading to a cavern below and the final resting place of the Asuryani Crusaders. Taela paid her respects before the statue of Leylaxi, allowing the main door to be reopened.

The Centipede’s Return

As the party rested within Wisti’s Tiny Hut, the centipede struck again, tearing Minnie apart before Tron polymorphed it into a fleeing chicken.

Looting the Tomb

The party looted the Tomb of the Asuryani Crusaders, finding a trove of magical potions and artifacts within the sarcophagi that could aid them against Matron Maizara.

Seeking Further Knowledge

Returning to Qildor’s fortress, the party debated their next move. Taela’s studies on the Avatars yielded information on the lethality of their weapons, but she needed to consult an old colleague, the fey woman Ethelnor, at the Religious Studies faculty of the College of Servasberg, for further answers.

The Heroes

Varjo Kov : A Human Shadow Monk with a mysterious past that follows only one monastic precept: hit first, ask questions later.

Anastasia D. Aster : An elderly Human Echo Knight suffering from senility who is surprisingly strong for her advanced age. Slain by bounty hunters.

Tron : A Coretex Moon Druid seeking to learn more about where his kind came from and leaving for the stars.

Taela : A Fey Great Old One Warlock who willingly bowed to the Avatar’s will in pursuit of her academic study of their kind.

Svetle : A Dwarven Grave Cleric and gravedigger at a Leylaxian temple in Servasberg. Reassigned to a different strike team by Wicks.

Wisti Roseria : A young Treefolk Divination Wizard with a pyromaniacal and murderous streak, but gladly stands by her new found party.

Cessnoc : An Avasi Soulknife Rogue with Bardic knowledge sent as a replacement for Svetle.

Maxine & Minnie : A Human Battlesmith Artificers and her apprentice sympathetic to the party’s goals of preventing the awakening of Ostara and joined them on their quest.

Servants of the Avatars

Wicks : Fey handler of our heroes with a business focused attitude.

Theodoric Maclaidir : Large Giantkin veteran who was once major domo to the Gildenloewe manor, now torn away from his duties to serve the Avatars’ will.

Elisa Horn : Captain of the Berganberg Guard and informant to Wicks. A seemingly laid back Human woman she maintains a careful balance between order and the omnipresence of the city’s criminal underbelly.

Calixis : A nervous little Coretex artificer sympathetic to the heroes attempts in defusing the threat of Ostara.

City of Berganberg

Duke Conrad : The middle aged Human ruler of Berganberg.

Baldewin: The duke’s son that sparked investigation into a cult with his kidnapping. Whiny and self-important.

Dawson : The kingpin of Berganberg’s criminal world who worked with elements of the cult for profit. Was captured by the heroes and imprisoned.

Town of Sternendorf

Baron Ruland du Sterne : Beloved ruler of Sternendorf who tried all means to cure his wife, Hilda, of the aggressive disease known as Heartrot, and began working with the cult to obtain material support in exchange for his research into bringing the dead back to life. Killed by the heroes to save Theodoric and his mission.

Baroness Hilda: A beautiful red haired woman who was dying of Heartrot and had been placed in preservation for the past 3 years to slow her condition down. Presumably died when the heroes removed her from life support and left her behind.

Cult of the Sleeping God

Ostara : Once a legendary Fey general 500 years ago who led her crusaders against a demon that mutated innocents and corrupted the land. Now a living corpse asleep on her throne watched over by descendants of her crusaders.

Grand Magus Qildor: The current leader of the Cult and a powerful Fey warlock.

Elias: The Lagocavian leader of the cult’s cell in Berganberg who orchestrated the kidnappings of innocents in the name of his god.

Linn: Qildor’s lieutenant and a powerful Fey warlock.

Wildlanders

King Valder: The Schildwald’s mythical mage-king many millenia ago who was defeated by a powerful Fey goddess. Now a spirit of the land that roams the forest.

Wulfgar: Elder of the Bear Clan. Offered the heroes information of King Valder in exchange for dealing with his clan’s long time rivals, the Hogshaws.

Lothar: Chieftain of the Hogshaw Clan. He sought the heroes’ help in saving his lands from a magical blight, and in return gave them information to the whereabouts of King Valder.

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