After their raucous evening with Sahm’EL, Hobbes’s former business partner and friend residing with his fellow Beninite expatriates in Callilly Jetty, the new companions find their individual ways to rest.
The holy pair of Deldund and Ishrana Swaythe navigates the amplified chaos of Port of Isles at night, finding their way back to the Cathedral of the Fallen Knight in Johvane. Variel, finding himself less and less interested in the steadily-increasing boisterousness of the roaming feast, wanders back to the grounds of Dorrick, towards the Planer Observatory. He quickly navigates the complex magic protecting the Observatory and is granted access. Once within the sprawling hidden landscape, far larger than it has any right to be given the footprint the complex has in Port of Isles, he’s pleasantly surprised by the sophistication and diversity of the inhabitants.
Planar travelers from across the multiverse mingle in clusters about the main hall, with lively discussions on the nature of magic and history of the planes blending with the gentle sounds of birds and breeze. He quickly makes his way to the main hall. Inside he finds a massive sort of calendar, with dozens of names in variety of scripts and languages filling in almost every slot. The slots, he discovers, are reserved times for the massive inter-planar telescopes, of which there are several directed at distinct planar clusters.
After signing his name in a handful of spaces a few years in the future, the elf is approached by a jittering, impatient denizen of Mechanicus. The strange creature stutters-out a complaint against Variel’s wasting of his time-slot. Befuddled, Variel follows the mechanite’s gestures to a telescope which currently displays his own name above the door. Confused, he enters the device and finds that it’s currently directed at a plane entitled “Paradise” in the ancient language of the Cyterian Empire, translated into draconic.
Soon after sitting-down in the contraptions main platform, he finds himself looking-out into the other plane. Figures with sun-bronzed skin, displayed broadly under slight clothing and plentiful jewelry, walk about with no air of urgency. Some are followed by clusters of people, some walk alone of paddle about on small rafts in a brilliant-blue pond. None of them appear to take notice of Variel. He quickly notices that by adjusting the various knobs of the telescope, he can move his perspective about the plane, and focus on specific subjects with increasing clarity to view the auras and energies.
After several minutes of exploration, Variel is actually approached by one of the plane’s denizens, a man, appearing human and not much older than fifty. The man wears his hair in four, neat top-knots, and is other wise shaved-clean. An amulet hangs from his neck bearing an ouroboros surrounding a tarantula. The man greets Variel with a gentle bow, stating that he’s happy the elf has finally come.
Variel is startled to have been expected when he was unaware he’d be here himself. When questioned, the man states that someone named Cavander told him Variel would be coming, and that he would need to find a woman named Loraina McEwn in Port of Isles. He also seems quite perplexed about his own identity, and very distracted. Variel’s training correctly identifies the traits of a non-native living on another plane for a long period of time. The man’s slowly forgotten his former existence in the timeless joy experienced in this plane of Paradise. With great difficulty, he’s able to recall that he is Cav’el the Third, once a great ruler of men, but he knows nothing more specific about his life on the mortal plane other than that he was entombed with his most loyal followers, one of whom is now paddling him about the pond with a deep expression of peace and satisfaction on his face.
Cav’el III can’t seem to recall any further information, such as how he knew Cavander or how Cavander might have known who, where, or how Variel would be here at this time in these circumstances. The strange meeting leaves the wizard with far more questions than answers. Variel makes his way from the telescope, “his” time slot being expired, and immediately heads to the Cathedral to share the strange happenings. To his shock, he realizes that the entire night has passed while in the Observatory grounds, and he emerges an hour or so after dawn.
Hobbes Spizzlecog, having missed his compatriot and the lifestyle they kept, continues his celebration with gusto. He awakes in the morning on beach, the sea gently lapping at the sand near his feet while a hermit crab traverses his brow. Sahm’el is lying in the sand next to him, and as he moves, his friend chuckles quietly. They stand and realize they are on the isle of Trabner, out in the harbor. Soon finding the wagon, and the horses Luke and Neema, affectionately named in memory of his fallen comrades, Hobbes and Sahm’el make for the mainland ferry.
On the ferry, Hobbes attempts conversation with the ferryman, named Donovan. Donovan is almost-disturbingly silent and distant, and in an effort to make the man a bit more animate, Hobbes offers him a concoction from his collection. Donovan is almost-instantly rejuvenated, and engages in energetic conversation with the tireless gnome for the rest of the journey. Leaving the ferryman with a warning that the brew will wear-off around mid-day, Hobbes leaves Sahm’el at his tent and heads back to the Cathedral.
Upon arriving there, he finds Deldund, Ishrana, and Variel engaged in an animated discussion of their won regarding some kind of encounter the elf had overnight with dead man. Instantly intrigued, Hobbes learns of the details and is the first to declare they must go Dorrick and investigate who this Loraina is. The gnome is undaunted by the huge population of Port of Isles, as he is undaunted by nearly all else deemed impossible.
The party makes haste to the University of Tryna and her wings of historians and alchemists. It seems as good a place to find someone who knows about the Blade of Agus’s Sickle as any. They start with the University office of record, attempting to identify any scholars or professors by the name of Loraina. The short-statured woman with an elaborate hair-do they find in the office quickly locates a record of a scholar’s- assistant in the historical wing named Loraina McEwn, and understudy of Professor Kolmin, a specialist in the Kenoran Reconstruction period of history.
Without a second word, they make haste to the structure housing the historical wing of the university. On the way, they attempt to find anyone who may recall Loraina or direct them to her. Hobbes finds himself amongst a Bardic Competition, speaking with one of the optimistic troubadours who know something of the woman they seek. The rest of the party heads towards Colman’s office while the gnome remains to learn more from the young man.
Hobbes discovers that Loraina was recently dismissed from the University under strange circumstances, and also that she was cold and quite absorbed in her research. She rebuffed the young man’s frequent advances and charms, but the bard still seems enamored with the woman. He hasn’t seen here in three weeks, when she was officially dismissed by her professor.
The other three quickly make their way to Kolmin’s office, only to find the door ajar and the room empty of life, though filled with scrolls, tomes and curiosities. Upon closer inspection, Deldund notices and aura emanating from a display of armor in the corner, and they find the professor hiding behind the visor. He quickly states that he doesn’t have the money, but can soon acquire it for the boss.
Confused, the dwarf, half-elf, and elf identify themselves and their purpose. Kolmin quickly changes his tone, brushing his comments off as unimportant. He confirms that Loraina was studying under him, and that he did indeed dismiss her recently for insubordination. The girl was wholly obsessed with some fruitless research and consistently refused to follow his direction or assist with his own work. As these are both inherent to the role of an understudy, he dismissed her with much regret.
Deldund his far from satisfied. He puts the pressure on Kolmin, who reveals that he’s concerned about Loraina’s safety, as well as his own, at the hands of a man whom Kolmin regularly makes purchases of historical value. Further pressure reveals this man to be Murdock, the leader of a local criminal guild. None of the artifacts purchased from Murdock are in the office, save one. Through his uncanny detection of a lying man’s heart, Deldund forces the hand of the fickle-minded professor, and he removes a worn, stone brick from the bureau drawer at his side. The brick appears unremarkable, but upon closer inspection bears the Seal of Kenora.
Kolmin identifies the bit of masonry as originating from the walls of the Kenoran capital-stronghold nuratozat, the very same that fell to Agus Tevidus’s army in the Great War. He passes the stone to them to “feel history”. When the brick reaches Deldund, he dwarf disappears upon contact with the surface. Variel and Ishrana are shocked, but Variel soon realizes the nature of the stone.
Scholars long debated the translations of scripts describing Nuratozat as being built from or of slaves. Common theory held that this meant it was built by slaves, as most of the infrastructure of Kenora was in that age. Variel now knew the truth. The brick is full with not only preservation magic, but also the tell-tale signature of an extra-dimensional portal. Given the enemies of ancient Kenora, the dwarves, and their slave race, humans, it seems no surprise that the fiendish lords of the dark empire would have enchanted the bricks of their fortress to hold these two peoples prisoner for eternity in some kind of demented prison. The depths of the depravity nearly make him ill at the realization that every brick destroyed in the final assault of Nuratozat destroyed the spirits of those trapped within.
At this, Professor Kolmin’s entire demeanor shifts. He presses a hidden pedal, and the chamber door slams shut behind them. Kolmin demands to know who the party is working for, apparently convinced they are some rival organization bent and stealing his knowledge, artifacts, or life. Their consistent denials further frustrate him, and with the conversation taking a stark turn as to whom they are going to bring the brick to extract Deldund safely (the elves at the Cathedral or Murdock’s mages), Variel notices a disturbing title on the binding of a book on Kolmin’s shelf: “Order of Kenora Resurgent”, written in ancient Kenoran to disguise its nature. There is now no doubt that Kolmin is not everything he appears to be.
In an effort to free them from whatever the professor intends to do next, Variel screams out the narrow window that a devil-worshipper is inside, trying to summon fiends from the Pit. The reaction from the jaded students and faculty in the courtyard leaves much to be desired. Frustrated, and with a growing sense of urgency, Variel summons forth a minor fiend, an Imp, into the room. Ishrana is enraged and shocked at such a vile and evil act, while Kolmin is simple baffled by the act. Variel commands the Imp to tear apart the room, and it takes to the task with fervor and delight….until Kolmin begins speaking its native tongue. The infernal commands appear to be overpowering Variel’s control over the Imp, and the elf immediately dismisses the fiend back to the Pit from whence it came. This, however, did not escape the notice of the Cuthbertian enforcers, who come running within minutes having heard the cries and noticed the fiend’s presence thanks to wards placed across the entire district and university.
Soon, the clerics explosively breach the chamber, tackling and arresting both Variel and Kolmin for conspiracy to summon a fiend. Ishrana is still in an angry state of confusion, and has no choice but to follow along behind the clerics and her apparently-traitorous wizard comrade. Hobbes notices his ally being hauled away in chains, and immediately bids adieu and thanks to the bards.
All the while, in the brick now carried by Ishrana, Deldund finds himself a small room in which he is truly blind. A woman speaks to him sardonically, and the dwarf quickly prays to Moradin and is granted True Sight, revealing a small space lit from no particular source and walled in stone. In the seeming chamber, a maiden with raven hair stands in a night-gown, and an aged, blind man sits meditatively in the corner, clad in only a small cloth about his waist and broken manacles about his hands.
A quick exchange reveals the woman to be Loraina, imprisoned here by her supposed-teacher Kolmin after she refused to engage in his back-handed artifact trafficking any longer. She also admits readily that she’s been researching the myth of Agus’s Sickle, and where the two supposed halves of the weapon may be. She also tells Deldund that she did work for a short time with a dwarf named Hammerfel, who seemed equally interested in the locations of the weapon’s parts. He was bit strange, but revealed nothing of his vile plan to her. She herself is unaware of the significance of the sickle’s true nature, and was merely interested in finding such a historically important weapon and the possible tomb of the great man who wielded it in battle with a Pit Lord.
Loraina also states quite matter-of-factly that Deldund’s friends are probably being murdered by Murdock as they speak. The ruthless man houses no mercy in his heart, and she’s sure Kolmin doesn’t either. Besides that, he’s indebted to Murdock and would likely do just about anything, including handing over an arcane scholar, to settle the debt. Murdock could get quite a bit of use from such a slave as Variel, and perhaps indeed Ishrana as well.
The other man in the chamber names himself Tovarius, and states he has been in the room since before the Fall of Kenora, nearly three thousand years. Both of the others stand in awe for a moment. Tovarius knows little of the events following his imprisonment, and relates that he underwent a fate not far removed from what Deldund experienced at the hands of devils. Tovarius appears to take heart that Agus Tevidus is not dead for certain, that he still exists somehow despite the millennia. The former slave is equally perturbed that the hated Tazgin-Ra may yet exist as well.
Back outside the brick-prison, at the Hall of Cuthbert’s Justice, Ishrana awaits to see both Variel and Professor Kolmin locked away safely, and argues vehemently against Hobbes engaging in any half-boiled plan to break Variel free. The gnome seems to accept this and leaves the Hall. As soon as Ishrana leaves to bring the enchanted brick to the Cathedral, Hobbes reenters the hall and creates a distraction with a swarm of spiders, allowing him to unlock the cell door housing Variel, provide him a potion of invisibility, and sneak them out of the Hall. Variel then grants them a flight spell, and the gnome and elf take to the air in the confusion of the spiders and his disappearance. They fly back to Calilly Jetty to seek Sahm’el’s aid in hiding from the Cuthbertians.
At the Cathedral of the Fallen Knight, Ishrana finds the elven counselors engaged in meditation in the court-yard. She approaches urgently, bearing the brick before or her and passing it to them for inspection as she relays the morning’s disastrous events and, more importantly, Variel’s apparent betrayal. The elves are confused by her logic, and state that the young elf, while far too impulsive, was not necessarily breaking the code of morality by summoning such a minor fiend to bring aid running.
The elves immediately set to finding a way to release Deldund from his prison, and Ishrana prays for his safe return and for guidance in how to deal with Variel, Hobbes appears. The gnome attempts to allay everyone’s fears by informing the assembled parties that Variel is safely out of prison, stopping short of telling them the true details. Ishrana is far more concerned with Deldund, and chooses to pursue her questions about the circumstances of Variel’s “release” at a later time.
Soon after, the elves are able to release the enchantment keeping Deldund prisoner in the ancient brick, and with a tap from Hobbes’s hammer, the brick explode in the court yard of the Cathedral, leaving Ms. McEwn, Tavarius, and Deldund laying in the grass in a state of shock.
Introductions are quickly made, and a heated discussion on what to do next unfolds. Meanwhile, at large in the biggest city in Henal, Variel is riding about in Hobbes’s wagon as Sahm’el drives. Ishrana rides hard to the Callilly Jetty in search of Sahm’el and the elf, only to find the trader’s tent gone, the plot occupied by another stall already, and a neighborhood of people she’d partied with the night before who now deny knowing that someone named Sahm’el even exists.
Her righteous frustration drives her back to the Cathedral with a renewed drive to end this odyssey of disasters.
Experience: 2000 XP to each character
Awesome Points: 5 points to Hobbes Spizzlecog for bringing Donovan back, if only for a brief time before turning him back into a pumpkin.
Pity Points: 5 points to Deldund Stonefist for being a dwarf trapped in a rock