The Shields returned to Hammerfast after a month of sailing the coast returning stolen villagers to their homes. Mal returned with the Shields to check the disposition of the Fell Court.
Victoria headed off home to the Palladine estate after being summoned by her father to attend the war council that was being convened there.
Nesh went back to the academy to catch up with Grik [ie. Drink] and Lord Xinto.
Hammerfast were now heading for a war footing; they were checking anyone entering the city including having a wizard on duty to detect shapechangers.
Saran wished to conduct a search for Razor [and Shadowhunter] and Shanna invited herself and Flea along to assist and speed up the search. They intended to use a ritual which would speed up their movement tenfold. They would meet the rest of the Shields in Fallcrest.
Berradin, Dinnan and Mal travelled to Fallcrest to collect the Gleaming Endeavour, their Githyanki skyship, and check on Imbolin [Berradin’s childhood friend] and the fate of the Fell Court.
The guards at the gates of Fallcrest were obviously upset and Dinnan managed to pry out of them the tragic story of the poisoning of the Lord warden’s 6 year old son. He had been sick for 3 weeks and was not expected to live much longer. The only piece of good fortune was that they had divined who his poisoner was and had him in custody. The poisoner was a bald, 30-ish human male named Gronchek, whom Dinnan realised was the person who had contracted him to kill the warden’s son.
The party settled in at Ellas, the pub frequented by Captain Nathan Farringray, and started to investigate the poisoning. Dinnan went out looking in the seedier sections of Fallcrest; the thieves’ quarter, while Mal and Berradin had many drinks with Farringray.
Meanwhile the hunting party, Saran in the lead, detected that Razor was inside Thunderspire Mountain, most probably within the domain of the Mages of Saruun.
The Shields were reunited at Ellas and discussed their next moves. Mal stayed behind to build a “closer relationship” between the Shields and Captain Farringray while the rest of the team headed to Shadowghast manor to investigate the disposition of Imbolin and the Fell Court.
The Shields were stopped near the mansion by some of Stasi Demonclaw’s clockwork soldiers, they were now set there to guard the place from intruders and also to prevent any evil escaping. They allowed the Shields into the mansion, who then went below and found that the hole to the underdark had been sealed by some sort of liquid stone that Stasi had created [concrete]. They found Imbolin exhausted and hungry by the site of the dimensional portal. He had expected them to come back here but had obviously been wrong.
The Shields took him back to Fallcrest with them and set him up for a month’s rest at the tavern.
Dinnan had found that Gronchek had been taken by the Fallcrest militia and rumour had it that he was tortured mercilessly every night and then healed. he would live and suffer until the boy passed, which apparently wasn’t long.
Dinnan charmed a lovely Dwarf lass and spent time with her. He then returned to Ellas.
At Ellas Shanna suspected that the party were being watched and surveyed the room. She could just make out 2 hooded figures in the corner of the room who no one else was aware of. Saran took her cue from Shanna and convinced everyone else in the common room to leave.
Shanna trained an arrow on the figures and asked them to identify themselves and state their business.
To the party’s surprise the 2 figures were a Githyanki female and a Githzerai female, two races with such an historical enmity that they should be killing each other on sight. They approached the party and invited them to meet with their patron, General Zetch’r’r, who was waiting to see them at his fortress in Tu’narath, the Githyanki city in the astral sea.
The General wished to hire the Shields and he offered them safe passage to his home and whilst under his roof. They would be returned home safely – those who survived the adventure.
The Shields wanted more info but the envoys were reticent. They did finally say that they were part of the Sha’sal Khou – a secret society determined to reforge the bonds between the Githyanki and Githzerai. The General was their leader but also a leader of the Githyanki military.
The envoys could not negotiate with any more than they had already given, it was now up to the Shields.
The Shields decided to think about the offer and meet with the envoys 24 hours from now to make their decision.
The Shields headed to the Lord Warden’s keep to see if they could help the boy while Dinnan snuck ahead to see Gronchek.
Dinnan found him in the dungeons manacled and hanging by the wrists from ceiling struts. There was just enough looseness in the chains that he could stand on his toes. The Lord Warden, Xander Corvassian, was in the cell with Gronchek wielding a flail with long thin leather strips that were covered in broken obsidian chunks. The Lord Warden proceeded to whip Gronchek while screaming incoherently at him. Eventally he tired and left with his guards, requesting they send a cleric to heal Gronchek’s injuries.
Dinnan entered Gronchek’s cell and found out that the human did the job because Dinnan had disappeared. He would not reveal the name of the Fell Court leader who had sent him on the job. The Fell Court had scattered but they had decided to settle scores before moving on.
Dinnan made a noose out of some of rope and set it over the ceiling struts. He left the neck hole where Gronchek could reach it and then left the cell.
The Shields were let into the mansion by Shelindrea, Corvassian’s tiefling betrothed, and taken to the room of Zeeyad Corvassian. He lay under his covers breathing shallowly and weakly. His skin was almost transparent and he resembled nothing more than a skeleton. He had very little time left.
Flea and Berradin inspected him and they found that he was under a curse. The cursed object was the bed or something part of it. They realised that it might be dangerous to move the boy in case the curse might transfer to someone else. Flea cast a ritual that delayed the active affliction and Zeeyad regained his colour and started to get out of bed.
Berradin could see the curse trailing from the bed to the boy and decide to sever the necrotic energy with Flameshadow, a necrotic channelling longsword, the energy jumped from Zeeyad to focus on Berradin. Berradin yelled at everyone to get out and he began to cast offensive spells at the bed while Flea assisted. The Curse ate the flesh off Berradin’s sword arm and began to kill him. Berradin struck the bed with his staff of winter and the bed exploded almost killing the spellcasters. The group rushed in and found Berradin barely conscious but missing his deskinned swordhand. Flea found it and used his skills to reattach the hand. Shanna used some healing she had learnt to help ease Berradin’s pain. They found the tip of a devil’s horn stuck within the bed’s headboard.
The boy was safe and the Lord Warden was extremely grateful.
Dinnan went back to the thieves’ quarter and managed to acquire the information that most of the fell court’s tieflings had headed to Bael-Turath, except for the necromancer captured by the Shields and Gronchek’s employer, named Tyrrannith who had a sister named Halva in Hammerfast.
The Shields returned to Ellas with the shellshocked Berradin and went to bed.
In the morning Berradin was healed by Mal’s powers, after she came down from Farringray’s room.
Shanna sensed that the Sha’sal Khou were present and they became visible. the Shields discussed and accepted the offer. Kel’i’lec and Sarrys then said the party would need to collect the Nesh.
The Shields skysailed with the envoys to the Academy to collect Nesh. When they arrived they were greeted by Nesh, Grik and Halva.
Dinnan told Halva that he was looking for her brother and she told Dinnan that she had not seen him but he was under her protection. They began to lose their temper and escalate their argument about who would kill whom until Halva calmed down and made the offer to Dinnan that she would punish her brother and make sure he would not cause harm to children anymore.
Nesh teamed up with the Shields and one of the envoys pulled out an amulet. The Amulet of the Planes was activated and the Shields faded into gossamer and reappeared on the rooftop of a tower in Tu’narath in the astral sea. The city was built atop a great stony humanoid husk.
Facts known by the Shields, provided by Berradin and Shanna:
- Githyanki – see their queen as a god. They have no clerics. Divine Power is currently outside their abilities.
- Tu’narath – city of the Githyanki. This floating city has been built upon the form of an ancient deceased stone god. Earthquakes are beginning to increase in frequency in the city.
- Alliance with Tiamat and her red dragons made by Gith, the one who freed their race from the MindFlayers. Red Dragons still serve alongside the Githyanki – young red dragons as mounts to the Gith cavalry, Elder Red Dragons serve as guardians to Tu’narath.
The rooftop had Githyanki spearguards who escorted the Shields downstairs. In a courtyard at the base of the fortress, scores of Githyanki soldiers marched in perfect formation, barking vile epithets about their enemies.
The Shields were brought to a circular chamber with a vaulted ceiling and a tile mosaic on the floor depicting a massive, fearsome red dragon. A large circle marked with golden runes covered the dragon mosaic. Inside the circle stood two figures: A Githyanki warrior clad in black plate armour who has a black gem embedded in his right eye socket and a black raven perched on his right shoulder, and a githyanki wizard dressed in vermillion robes adorned with black symbols.
The warrior asked them to enter the anti-scrying field and introduced himself as General Vetch’r’r and the wizard was Rax’n’ault.
Vetch’r’r chose the Shields because they had proven themselves as formidable enemies of the githyanki and wished to hire them to kill the Lich-Queen of the Githyanki. In return he has promised to mark the material plane inviolate if the party can destroy the Lich-Queen and her phylactery [Horcrux – for you Harry Potter fans – Yes, Valdemoort was a Lich]. The Queen’s tower is full of treasure and the Shields are free to keep whatever they acquire. They will be returned safely to the material plane if they succeed in this mission. The party are known enemies of the Githyanki so their attempt against the Queen will not be seen as an internal plot.
Vlaa’kith CLVII – Lich-Queen of the Githyanki. Ruler of the Githyanki for many centuries. Has stolen the power of many powerful Githyanki. They become her undead servants; SHE is beginning a process of transforming Githyanki embryos into 1/2DragonGith. She seeks to drain the last remnants of power out of the god-husk below Tu’narath and attain full godhood. Vlaakith rules from the palace of whispers.
The Palace of Whispers – the floating fortress of Vlaa’kith. It hovers above the remains of the dead god’s face.It has the reputation of being an unsettling, horrific place. Two ancient dragons live there: Dessakrul – a two-headed red dragon and Holocaust. It is also filled with her undead servants: Tl’a’ikith – masters in martial combat reduced to unliving shades; Kr’y’izoth – once powerful wizards now arcane forces of undeath.
The Shields accepted the deal and were all given amulets of proof versus detection – they would keep the individual safe from passive detection but active detection would cut through the amulets’ shielding. The General’s envoys would get the Shields to the palace of whispers.