Mid-Winter, Hadrer 1st (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Shadowfell:
After visiting the Shadow Bazaar of Gloomwrought and witnessing the macabre celebrations ongoing due to the end of the year, it was decided to head to the Dark Moon Inn. That and thoughts of vampires and other creatures of the night slaking their thirst on unsuspecting or foolish adventurers. The common room has several guests even at the late hour of arrival and the gnoll barkeep, Fleaz, efficiently checked them in and issued keys to their rooms. Tired and ready for rest, the group eats some late night vittles and turns in slightly around one in the morning to awaken sometime mid-day.
The inn and tavern continues to do good business during daylight hours as it is still crowded with humans, a small contingent of Dark Ones, two Shadar-Kai, and a man-sized creature with brown fur, folds of skin under its arms, and long ears sitting near the great fireplace at the end of the hall.
The group waits for contact from the minion of the Lord of Bats. In the mean time, they see a small parade of the faithful of the gods, both priests and parishoners, march by the front windows celebrating the first day of a new year.
Late in the evening, the brown furred creature stirred from its seat near the fire and came to the bar where the group was sitting in conversation with Fleaz. The creature announced itself as Des r’Kha, a servant of the Lord of Bats. Introductions were quickly made, and Des r’Kha indicated that they could travel as early as tomorrow morning. The brave souls of the group decided to try the Bazaar again, however, they cut their visit short due to the hedonistic pleasure/pain houses near one spot in the bazaar and the unwelcome attention of a contingent of vampires interested in making playthings of Leon and Zoltan. The group rests and prepares for travelling aboard a sailing ship.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 2nd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Shadowfell:
Early in the morning, Des r’Kha knocks on the groups doors and gets them up to face the day. They travel to the docks where the man-bat has secured the services of the ShoreSeeker, a small sailing vessel piloted by Captain Burton (a male human) and has first mate Scragg (a female half orc half sea troll), and their crew including a panda-like humanoid named Po. As soon as the group is aboard and out of the way, the crew has finished its loading of cargo and the ship begins pulling away from the docks.
The ship catches the wind and sets off on an easterly course. In a few hours, the ship approaches a set of three isles linked by great natural stone bridges. To the south, their are storm clouds tinged with the color of pale and sickly green that seem to be circling and growing larger as they are watched. The captain mentions that the storm is known as the “Worm Maelstrom”, a terrible blight on any vessel that approaches it. He indicates that for the last year there have been a growing number of storms that are seemingly permanent over an area. Investigating ships have been lost and the few, broken survivors rail madly about terrible gusts of wind and large ocean waves with millions of undulating green worms seething about in the storm-tossed seas. The most concerning aspect is that these Maelstroms have formed on multiple planes, as if they were linked.
As they watch the distant threat, the spotter in the crow’s nest sees two distant things break away from the cover of the maelstrom and began heading on a course towards the ship. Battle stations are called out as the ship is rigged for speed and the giant, greenish worm creatures with alien insectoid abominations on their backs give chase. Captain Burton and his crew prove to be competent sailors and rapidly out run the threat to the channel between the isles. The panda man, Po, stands atop the front of the ship holding a lotus flower as the ship crosses into the channel with the stone bridge overhead and with a crackling spray of electric energy, the ship slides from the Shadowfell to the Dreamlands.
_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 2nd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in the Dreamlands:
Even as the gray, wan sun light was fading in the Shadowfell, the Dreamlands have an idyllic, picture perfect sunset. The ship emerges in the remains of a great whale skeleton where the rib bones are joined. Sailing along, the ShoreSeeker makes good times in the quiet waters of the Dreamlands. Similar to the Shadowfell their is one blot on the Dreamlands, a smaller Worm Maelstrom. As the ship continues to sail its course, a number of isles come into view. Even more amazing are a number of ghostly flying humans to and from between the isles. Watching and occasionally herding the flying shapes from two deep into the ocean of the Dreamlands (and particularly away from the direction of the Worm Maelstrom) is a well dressed, dark skinned elf and a group of long horned antelope creatures. Zhou Pan calls down from the Crow’s nest that the elf is none other than Raldinian. Zoltan and Leon call over and Raldinian nonchalantly walks over the water and levitates up to the ship.
The group tells Raldinian of there many adventures and where they are currently headed. Raldinian tells them that Lord Carleigur of the Free City and most of his knights were killed on Belsamer 21st by a combined Dark Elf, Gorgon (with Greyhate) and Undead assault. Evidently, the purpose was to recover the Globe, though the strike obviously knew when and how to attack. The Free City is in anarchy as most seek to consolidate there power. Nant seems to be slowly taking control of the city since most of the nobles are only interested in protecting their interests at the moment and the gangs are in full and open war. Feeling like he could be the next target, Raldinian decided enough was enough and prayed for his patron deity to take him into the Dreamlands, both in spirit and body. Since that time, he has been serving with the Orafauna (talking antelope priests of Erias the Dreamlord) to guide the dreaming spirits who visit the Dreamlands and to attempt to herd those foolish spirits who try to approach the Worm Maelstrom; evidently several dreamers have been driven mad by getting in close proximity to the powerful storms. Zhou Pan and Xaylin ask if Raldinian would be able to join them and after briefly checking with the Orafauna, Raldinian agrees to sail on with them.
You continue to sail the dream seas of the Dreamlands for hours more under the bright stars of the Dreamlands. Finally, you see a mist-shrouded island ahead with ancient ruins rising above the mist. The captain efficiently takes his vessel towards the island and in a short time you are on a small lifeboat and then landing on the white beaches of the isle. Following your guide, he takes you up into the highlands of the isle. The cloying mist seems to be ever present and you frequently encounter great stone ruins and large sculptures of animals and monstrous creatures.
Near midnight, you come to the peak of the isle, a caldera of the volcano that birthed the island. Going down into the caldera, you see a lush jungle environment and in the midst is a small ziggurat temple. Climbing the temple stairs, you find that there is a gigantic fossilized bat atop the temple with mouth agape. The cavernous mouth is filled with shadows and it appears that there may be a passage within.
You enter the mouth of the great fossilized bat and are swallowed by complete darkness. As you step forward, you flinch a little as if expecting to bump your head, but instead, the very shadows grab you. Cold hands seem to pull you along a tunnel whose floor, walls, and ceiling are composed of leathery, undulating wings. With a flurry of flapping and a whiff of ammonia, the darkness releases you.
_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 3rd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in the Feywild:
Minutes after midnight, you stand in a vast subterranean cavern whose dimensions are lost cobwebbed corners. Behind you along a rocky wall wavers a door-shaped opening of darkness.
Piercing gold and silver light from your right makes you squint. The light pours inward from an irregular natural-looking cave mouth. Through it, you see a verdant mountain meadow whose vivid colors steal your breath with rich scents of wildflowers that bring tears to your eyes. To your left, the cave continues into a shadowy darkness.
As you walk further into the cave, the gold and silver light from the cave mouth slowly fell to purples, blues, and shadow black. Over the span of a few hundred feet, the dim illumination was transformed to a dreary radiance of hopelessness. The last glimmers of light were enough to reveal a vast castle, one whose mortar was black and whose bricks were immense blocks of void. A central spire rose above the walls, so high it brushed the vaults stalactite-toothed ceiling. Immense wings stretched out from either side of the spire, rapacious and dragon-like in their span, like hunger itself made manifest.
The ceiling churns and chitters. It is thick with roosting bats of every variety. The floor is covered with stalagmites of guano and a grove of dark purple mushroom caps, each the size of a dinner plate.
You continue through the gates of Castle Darroch and down a long entry gauntlet. Creeping, wrinkled, grey-skinned guardian homunculi scurry out of shadowy holes in the side walls, but then back away at a motion from your guide.
You reach the foyer, which is lit by countless candelabras burning with green flames. A wide, but shallow pool of dark water half flooded the space, and long, pale forms dart beneath its surface. Past the pool is a four flights of stairs, with busts of enigmatic, slender humanoids on each landing.
Finally, you come to the top of the stairs and enter the Grand Study. Paintings of surreal landscapes, sculptures of fantastic beings, and objects to strange for mortal classification are displayed behind glass. The collection must span centuries and even worlds. The nearest painting seems to be a spray of orange and yellow; a desert scape in the grip of a storm. The hint of some vast tower or statue is just visible behind the haze of blowing sand. Comfortable furniture decorates the room, as does a small bar with several bottles.
A balcony overlooks the Grand Study. A narrow stair on the wall allows access to the balcony. The high space is bare but for an iron door.
Your guide, Des’r Kha, bids you to ascend. As you reach the steel door, you see it is open a crack and yellow light flickers beyond. As you open the door, you see a great oaken table dominates the chamber. A feast of rare sumptuousness is laid out on silver platters, heaped in golden urns, and sloshed in crystal decanters. Chairs line the sides of the table, each one unique in design and workmanship, as if every piece was imported from a completely different kingdom or culture. A few are so oddly shaped that a regular person would find it difficult to sit.
A thin man, bald and pale, with narrow squinting eyes, pointed ears, and drab black clothes sits at the head of the table on a chair as grand as any throne. The man looks up from his feast and says “Ah, I have guests. It has taken me some years, but my invitations finally went out and were answered in person.” Your guide, Des’r Kha, goes to his master and stands to one side of the chair as if awaiting his next command.
Xaylin, hungry halfling that he is began drooling at the prospect of food. He asked “May we eat?” Des’r Kha rapidly says “No!”. The Lord of Bats says “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, though I wouldn’t mind a bit of company”
The Lord of Bats continues “Well, my friends, I want freedom. You see, I have been bound by a terrible enchantment and I seek freedom from it. It has taken me many favors and invitations to ones such as you, but I believe that the end of my imprisonment ends soon when you break the binding.”
Zoltan questioned “How do we break a binding that has held one of your strength?”
The Lord of Bats responded “I have spent much of my strength trying to find the answer to that very question and to interest someone enough to follow through upon the answer. I was bound here as I am now nearly 200 years ago. I don’t understand fully why I suffered the binding, but I know those who instigated my binding and stole some of my power: A warlock named Japheth whom I had entered into a pact with similar to you, and a priest of Chardun known as Cordell. Those two entered into some compact with the god Chardun who put this curse upon me.
The Lord of Bats eats a couple of cherry tomatos popping them into his mouth and biting them as if he were biting vicariously on something or someone else. The juice runs from his mouth as he wistfully stares off into space for a moment.
Leon says “Ahem.”
The Lord of Bats returns from his momentary distraction and says “Yes, yes. I’m getting to it. I’ve spent 200 years trying to find the answer and I finally have it. You must recover the Orb of the Planes and combine it with the Rod of the Elements. Take the combined items to the center of the Great Inferno and tap the gates of the City of Brass thrice. Then, this binding will be dissolved and I will be free once again.
Zoltan asks that the Lord of Bats repeat what he said so they can be sure to understand it.
Zhou Pan asks “Where is the Rod of the Elements?”
The Lord of Bats responds “It has been hid away somewhere in the Iron Hells. I recommend you go to the City of Doors and find a sage who may be able to tell you where. I’m hopeful you may be able to find a portal from Sigil to the Rod and recover it with a lightning assault.”
Xaylin asks “How about the Orb of the Planes?”
Neifion responds "It is actually on Scarn in the great desert of Asherak. Somewhere in the ruined city of Pazar, I suspect, though I don’t know where. Perhaps a sage can bring you closer to the item than what I’ve found so far, but if you favor trial and error, the picture in my study is a depiction of the desert slowly swallowing the city of Pazar. That might be enough information to teleport with if you can get close.”
Raldinian asked “How do we combine these items?”
Des’r Kha answers in his soft spoken tone "Quite easily actually. Take this jar of sovereign glue and affix the two together.” The Lord of Bats adds “They’ll fit naturally together if you get them close enough, but use the glue so they’ll hold together”
Leon asked “So why should we do this? It seems like we’re going to be facing a lot of risk.”
Neifion says “For most of you, I have done a great favor. In effect, we have entered into a pact. All I ask is that you return the favor and close the terms of the pact. If that we’re not enough, I will reward you richly for freeing me from this binding. I tire of this feast never-ending and wish to be able to walk the Feywild once again."
Neifion continued "I suggest you find a sage or sages in Sigil, the City of Doors, to help you track down the Orb of the Planes and perhaps some detailed information on the Rod of the Elements. However, it is up to you, which you pursue. To provide you some ability to influence those sages, and as part of my faith in you and your abilities to rid me of this curse, I will provide you a taste, no pun intended, of the reward I have in store for you if you succeed.” The Lord of Bats claps his hands and the bat creature Des’r Kha pulls a strongbox from beneath his masters chair. He opens it to reveal a velvet lined interior that has a mix of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, pearls, and diamonds.
The Lord of Bats smiles and says “Well, I must return to my feasting. Des’r Kha will show you out and I wish you all the best on your endeavors. What power I can spare you I will in aid, but recognize that much of my remaining power was spent in the favors I have already done for you. Go now and hunt out your prey.”
Des’r Kha led the party back down to the study where they took a look at the painting of the “Doom of Pazar.” After a few drinks and looking at the small library, the group was shown to a locked and barred portal from Darroch Castle to Sigil, the City of Doors.
_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 3rd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in Sigil, City of Doors:
The group comes through the portal into the City of Doors. Clueless and fascinated, the group looks for someplace to discuss privately. Initially, they decide to stop at an inn called the “The Dangerous Flower.” However, they quickly recognize that it is a planar bordello and their may be to many prying eyes and ears as well as distractions to those with less will and discipline in the group. Instead, they go to the pub called “The Maiden’s Oath” where they enjoy a private meal and sample some fine planar fare such as a T-rex steak, giant squid calamari, etc.
Their waiter takes care of their culinary desires and also proves to be a good source of information when tipped appropriately. He provides directions to where the sages of the city typically dwell, the Street of Tellerus. Heading that way, the group picks the sage Lazlo (human male) based on a review of the information and specialties he is said to have by others they ask.
The group enters the House of Lazlo and are shown to a waiting room by his wife. She makes some tea and when her husband joins them casts a spell that prevents scrying or external listening to insure “privacy for clients”. Her husband listens to the group explain what they wish to be researched; he provides a few bits of information indicating his knowledge of the subject of the Orb and Rod. He indicates that it will take 2 days to research the topic and to come back to his house late on the 5th.
Tired from there travels, the group goes to a nearby inn known as the Goblyn’s Crown where they barely make last call. The proprietess is a pretty woman by the name of Jadess, who recognizes tired travelers and quickly gets them some food and beds for the night.
_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 4th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Sigil, City of Doors:
The group awakens and occupies themselves at Sigil’s Grand Market where truly all manner of supplies, trinkets, pleasures, and information can be found.
_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 5th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Sigil, City of Doors:
Late in the evening, Lazlo delivers his findings:
- The Orb of the Planes and Rod of the Elements are powerful items that surfaced in the Divine War though there is some support that they may have been around longer than that, perhaps as a combined item.
- The Orb was last seen in the now extinct city of Pazar wielded by a powerful wizard known as Rhoul, one of Chardun’s officers during the Divine War. The closest portal leads to a small Oasis in the deserts of Acerak known as Nevusu.
- The Rod was wielded by a powerful devil known as Ingacka, likewise an officer during the Divine War under Chardun’s armies. The devil lives in Stygia in Castle Ach-Mor, outside of Tantlin, the largest City of cold Stygia, which is carved into a gigantic iceberg that floats the Seas of Stygia.
- Lazlo says he knows an arms dealer know as Burskel in Tantlin who might be able to help. He recommends mentioning that you are acquaintances of Lazlo and wife to Burskel.
The group returns to the Goblin’s Crown to rest and ponder the information gained.
_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 6th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in Sigil, City of Doors:
The party bids goodbye to Jadess in the morning, stops at the Grand Market for some items to use as portal keys, and finds the portal in the City of Doors to the oasis of Nevusu.
_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 6th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in Acerak:
The group comes through an archway formed by two palm trees growing together. The sun is bright and the temperature, though early in the morning, is already climbing to an uncomfortable area. Ahead is several tents of desert dwellers and an oasis.
The locals are initially unfriendly to the weirdly dressed folk, convinced they are devil tricksters or sand devils. Zoltan uses the Tongues spell and some diplomacy to calm them and offer gifts. After some convincing, an elder speaks with them about Pazar and its general location from Nevusu, which the old man says is about 100 miles to the North deep in the desert. Raldinian, using his mental picture of Pazar from the painting in Darroch Castle, teleports the group (two trips) and while on the return trip, two sand devils rise up from the sand covered ruins to attack. One is destroyed while the other is driven off about the time that Raldinian and the rest of the group arrives.
The city of Pazar is covered by sand and only the roofs of tall buildings and large monuments rise above the scouring dunes. Xaylin searches about the foot of a statue eroded by the sands only to nearly be engulfed in a sand funnel trying to drag him down. He scampers back, but now there appears to be a hole leading into one of the buildings covered by sand. Evidently, a ceiling tile from a dome has fallen to the dusty floor beneath as sand slowly pours into the opening. Tying a rope to the statue, the group descends into the chamber.
In the large domed chamber, the group sees two large statues on either side of a double door. Two other doors to the North and South sit in smaller alcoves. Trying the south door reveals that it is blocked by sand, the group works for a while to push and clear the obstruction enough to enter. Xaylin reluctantly fits through the crack and goes about clearing sand enough such that larger members of party can fit. What is revealed is a walkway between buildings that is covered by sand completely except for the half cylinder room, which provides a tunnel for crawling. As the group crawls to see if another building might be opened, they hear a chittering sound coming closer. Suddenly, a scarab beetle swarm attacks. In close quarter, the beetles are a great concern and even though Zoltan thrashes about crushing them, there are thousands biting. Raldinian has enough of this nonsense and unleashes a ground zero fireball to disrupt the vermin and send them skittering off into the darkness. He sends another fireball down the chamber for good measure.
Hurt and tired from the swarm attack and wanting to be ready and rested for whatever may come, the group returns to the domed chamber and rests. However, Leon has severe nightmares and gets little rest during the night.