The armoured warrior sat alone in The Drunken Sow, the local watering hole of winterhaven, having a quiet drink and contemplating where the road would take them next. The warrior scanned the room without thinking and stopped at a table where a richly dressed tiefling gentleman and several aides were clearing their plates before leaving. The pit and its terrible fights flashed in the warrior’s mind, memories of sneering, chanting tiefling faces watching the death and carnage before them, and this tiefling face was known to the warrior. The warrior stood and slowly followed after the tiefling and his cronies.
The tiefling climbed into the front of a closed, box type wagon and travelled out the gates of Winterhaven, and ignoring the King’s road, headed onto an old, rutted track Eastwards. The warrior followed at a steady pace, pit scars itching beneath the heavy armour, heavy shield slung over one shoulder and triple flail holstered on the belt.
For two days the warrior followed the cart across the countryside and near nightfall the cart rolled onto the uneven ground of the grey downs: a desolate, god forsaken land where the indigenous population fought their last battle against the Nerathi empire and were killed to the last man. This constantly fog shrouded area was considered cursed and no one walked here after dark, especially on nights of a full moon. Tonight was a devil’s moon, half of the moon showed while the other half lay in shadow, as if the moon had been sliced in half.
Following in the fog, the warrior started descending after the cart into a large crater, the center of which was the destination of the cart. the tiefling alighted from the cart and supervised his aides making of their campsite. Then they waited. In a short time a spike of steel appeared from the fog above the cart. Two gaunt, yellow skinned figures slowly hovered down from the upside down mast and landed near the teifling.
“Take this and set it where we have instructed” the lead yellow figure offered a purplish-blue sphere covered in arcane lines and writing across to the tiefling. It was the size of a man’s head.
“Our deal still stands?” the tiefling asked.
“As agreed by the Adjudicator, your people will have their ancient lands to rule and we will take the rest of this world” answered the humanoid.
Without consideration the warrior began running and raced between the two groups, snatching up the sphere and heading up the other end of the crater’s walls.
“Stop him” yelled the humanoid.
“No. Let the hounds get him.” the tiefling raised an arcane horn to his lips and let out an arcane howl. It was swiftly answered from the fog by many other howls. The chase had begun.
The humanoid and his cohort glided up to their mast and proceeded to climb aboard their skyship. The captain sent a thought to his steersman, and the ship started to move off after the warrior, into the deeper fog.
’Droth’s sleep was uneasy. He travelled the halls of his ancestors searching for the meaning of this dream.
He felt a new weight in the palm of his hand. Looking down at his Axe hand he saw a purplish-blue sphere the size of a dwarven skull, covered in meaningless runes.
He looked up, and he was flying from Hammerfast towards the Dawnforge mountains and became engulfed in the clouds around the tallest peaks. ’Droth was drawn to land near the peak of one of the mountains, and in front of him was a cave entrance.
Moving forward into the cave, he could tell that the cave was made to look natural but had been painstakingly carved, in the dwarven fashion, to look that way.
The sphere felt warm in his hand as he moved deeper into this cathedral sized cavern, the sound uncharacteristically muted for such a large chamber.
’Droth shrugged, there was no meaning to be found in sounds anyway. He walked ever deeper into the cavern and finally crossed the expanse, reaching
the outline of a dwarven liftbox. The sphere hummed and pulsed and then the doors opened. ’Droth entered and as he turned around to face the cavern the doors silently closed.
Shanna journeyed along the path of possibilities. She had a way of finding trouble before it mattered to anyone else. Tonight she drifted over a silvery sea which was not water. She found herself carried to a ship that was over, not on, the sea. This ship had masts above and below the hull, and gaunt looking, yellow skinned humanoids clambered over its decks. Unlike seafaring vessels she had seen before, the helm for this vessel was near the prow. The pilot of this vessel able to more clearly see dangers ahead, above and below.
A figure near the helmsman, wearing an elaborate silvery metallic headdress, almost visibly radiated an aura of command. The commander looked around and behind his ship, Shanna’s eyes followed, surveying the scores of other ships that held position near this one.
The commander clenched his jaw, squinted his eyes and a wave of ethereal energy erupted from his helmet, radiating out among the gathered fleet. The commander then faced forward and watched ahead as the fleet began to move as one, their path towards a gaping chasm in the sky ahead, through which could be seen the Dawnforge mountains.
Shanna felt a shudder and then felt herself drifting backwards through the realm of possibilities closer to the now. It felt close, maybe a few days from her reality, when she stopped moving.
Shanna was engulfed in a fog, an unnatural creation, and could hear the howling of terrible beasts hunting in the morass. The land before her was broken ground, salted, dead. Large earthen mounds were scattered among the landscape. They were the size of small farmhouses.
Shanna knew these lands, they were not travelled by her people, not those who preferred to live. This was the Grey Downs, site of an ancient battle of such horror that the land still wept.
Running towards her came an armoured figure of rugged build carrying a purplish-blue skull sized sphere. The figure had a three-headed flail holstered on their belt and was making good time, but the howls were closing in.
Shanna’s eyes opened and she once more lay in her leaf bed among the trees of the grove.
Captain[GleamingEndeavour]Iquel leisurely floated across the 50’ gap to the Skydancer Glorious Destiny and glided his way aft to the Commander’s transference chamber.
Inside, SkyMarshall[EmpireVanguardCaptainGloriousDestiny]V’quet faced aft, viewing his fleet through the psiglass wall. The commander drifted around in a slow arc until he faced his subordinate.
The Gaunt faces moved toward each other and their foreheads touched. The transference had begun. Seconds passed and then they raised their heads away from each other. Captain[GleamingEndeavour]Iquel, his expression now a close-lipped frown, took from his commander’s hands what was offered, nodded once then turned around and glided back to his skyship[GleamingEndeavour].
The skyship[GleamingEndeavour]crew gathered around their captain wordlessly, making an unbroken circle. All of them closed their eyes and linked hands, then the images washed over and amongst them. The skyship[GleamingEndeavour]crew communed for a full minute and then one by one broke from the circle to commence their duties for the journey ahead.
Captain[GleamingEndeavour]Iquel drifted aft over the deck to his restroom. Once inside, he removed his ornamental metal headdress and githweave armour and spun lazily in the air until drifting into a comfortable position in his hammock. Time passed as he stared without thought at the ceiling overhead and then the restroom door opened.
Mindslicer[GleamingEndeavour]Kle’th entered the chamber, closed the door behind her, and then moved purposefully towards Captain[GleamingEndeavour]Iquel. She levitated into a position next to, and facing, her beloved. Their eyes locked, thoughts passed, and then Captain[GleamingEndeavour]Iquel uncloaked the item that had been hitherto concealed in his left palm. The purplish-blue rune-marked sphere now floated between the couple.
Mindslicer[GleamingEndeavour]Kle’th let out an involuntary gasp. Captain[GleamingEndeavour]Iquel chose to ignore the faux pas and gently kissed his paramour’s hands. His mind reached out for hers. Connection.
[be proudsmug this is a great honouropportunity]
[illithidmindflayers did not holdenslave us forever fatherschildren will also fallaccede]
[their hungergreed betrays them and all fatherschildren they will be our agentsslaves]
[we are vanguardpathfinders that make the wayportal then we exploreraid in newmothersky we will not see homemothersky again]
[I must speak to the agenttieflingdevilspawn shudder]
[such crasssimple meansway of communication]
[Gith be with us]
Shanna, ‘Droth, Saran and Berradin gathered in the shattered remains of Clan Shatterhand (’Droth’s extinct clan) after a night full of meaningful dreams.
Shanna displayed to the assembled shields various sketches she had made of images from her dreams: Gaunt yellow humanoids, Purplish-Blue rune-covered spheres, skyships, and an armoured warrior in mid-run.
They decided that since the Grey Downs is near their objective, The Old Hills Forest, they will swing by the ruins on their way to the feywild portal.
Grik had already crossed over to the feywild with Halva to scout ahead, Serina had moved on to recruit more adventurers and Nesh was finishing repairs to the Academy, but both promised to be at the portal in three days, and Victoria had gone back to the Palladine estate on family business.
The Shields, “lead” by Berradin, arrived at the southern edge of the mists enshrouding the Grey Downs at nightfall two days later.
Howls could be heard coming from within the fog, sounds of many hounds closing in on their prey. Shanna with her enhanced perception triangulated a rough central point where the cries were converging towards. Our companions headed into the mist, racing forward and hoping to find an effective battleground.
The Shields set up position on top of a flat mound, near the center of where Shanna was sure that the hounds were approaching. Berradin scoured his mind remembering details of the cursed land and warned the party that hearing the howls of the Hounds of Ill Omen was said to mark the recipient with an all but fatal curse of misfortune.
Berradin prepared a silence spell around the mound to give the Shields some measure of protection as the rest checked their weapons and equipment.
Shortly an armoured figure ran out of the thick fog with a three-headed flail in one hand and a Purplish-Blue rune covered sphere tightly gripped in the other. The Shields gestured for the warrior to join them on the mound and she did. Before them was a powerfully built, tall, long-haired female Eladrin, whose visible skin had many scars. She introduced herself as Mallendathor, but they could call her Mal.
The Shields introduced themselves and ‘Droth took the sphere, placing it in his backpack, as Berradin warned that it could unravel bags of holding and their ilk.
Soon a large hound the size of an elephant barrelled at them out of the surrounding fog and easily climbed the mound to snap it’s jaws at the nearest Shields. Another seven smaller hounds, the size of horses, charged at the Shields from out of the fog.
Battle was joined, during which the chief hound Bregga’s howls raised the undead Nentir soldiers up from their burial mound to aid in the combat. After several tense moments the Shields were triumphant, but not without cost. Saran, ‘Droth and Mal had all been targets of the hounds Howls of Doom and were now cursed with ill fortune. If they missed a target in combat, they would suffer painful headaches for each miss, that would increase in potency until they died.
A side effect of the battle was that the curse on the Grey Downs seemed to have been lifted, as the perpetually enshrouding tendrils of mist began to dissipate.
The group had only had a few minutes to catch a breath, when out of the mists the undermast of a Githyanki Skyship became visible. The mast was covered in Githyankis wielding silvery longswords, in the centre of which was a one-eyed bandana wearing Githyanki (the first mate).
The group struck at the Githyankis, knocking their first mate off the mast. The Githyanki ship came fully out of the dispersing mists, and the Shields could see on the foredeck above them many Githyanki with longbows about to fire.
Berradin fireballed the Githyanki ship, engulfing both sails and all of the archers. Only the Captain, in his metallic headdress and silvery Githweave armour, and a female Githyanki without weapons were left on the deck. Saran teleported between them and took their attention away from their crew.
’Droth began his rein of steel[steel..steel..steel] and engaged many of the gith swordsmen. Shanna let fly arrow after arrow severely damaging many of the Githyanki. Mal coolly shifted friend and foe about the battlefield, raising the morale of injured compatriots and helping everyone to keep their feet. Berradin laid down support fire among the enemy.
Captain Iquel kept Saran off-balance and made room for Mindslicer Kl’eth to lay a withering psychic assault on Berradin [and the nearby cloaked Shanna]. The blast knocked Berradin and Shanna about making it impossible for them to focus enough to use their more powerful attacks [they could not use Encounter or Daily powers].
Shanna got herself together and unleashed a withering barrage that destroyed the Mindslicer. Enraged the Captain leapt through the air and attacked Berradin [as Shanna was still hidden and Berradin was near the attack’s origin point] and ordered his crew to focus fire on the Wizard.
Mal inspired Berradin to fight his injuries but the Githyankis’ assault was punishing. The Shields rallied around Berradin and finished off the Githyanki Vanguard.
Searching the Githyanki the Shields found in the Captain’s purse two astral diamonds, each worth one hundred thousand gold, and rarely seen or used on the material plane. They also collected over a dozen silver longswords and longbows.
The Shields rested and then started carting the Skyship to Harrigan Keep to show Stasi.
End of Session