The Root of the World

Happenstance

After hearing many rumors about the storied Gardmore Abbey, Noostoron and Catril went to explore its depths and learn what they could of the Deck of Many Things. After defeating most of the guards at the front gate and discoursing with the leader of the orc residents, they offered to clear out a watch tower said to be haunted. There, they were thoroughly beaten back by a flesh golem; but, not before acquiring a strange scroll created by a wizard.

Getting as far from the watch tower as possible, they crossed the abbey grounds to a fey grove where they were approached by dryads seeking to trade secrets with them and foreshadowing their respective destinies. In the morning they found an eladrin woman beset by a displacer beast and several stirges. After rescuing her (with her assistance) they met the people of her camp. Her brother told them of a fountain that could grant them visions of the Abbey’s past and future, which they drank from and saw bits of history occurring deeper within its recesses. They also saw an artifact being guarded by four paladins of the Abbey. The eladrin woman went with them as a token of good will when they promised to protect her while she sought any information that might be found about her lost father.

Coming to a clearing, they found spider webs spread about, one of them holding a very old sword. After further searching, they discovered a collapsed bell tower guarded by a wraith sentry. It told them that only the wizard who had inhabited the watch tower could enter, or one bearing the arms of a guardian of the artifact hidden within. As it happened, they had both of these items, which permitted them passage. Within, they found three wraiths—former guardians driven first mad, then to death—ready to kill alongside their summoned Barlgura. Though they fought heroically, they fought to their last. The threat of chaos still looms over the world; and, there remains nothing of our heroes but a few scattered, flesh-stripped bones to bear testament to their efforts.

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Fortune of the Broken Artifact

Restless for an opportunity to work within his wheelhouse, Noostoron looked for clues as to the nature of the Void card he found sealed within his inheritance from Griswauld Ironshanks. Imriad pointed him towards the blind half-elf he had met in a recent encounter, claiming he had some interest in the Deck of Many Things.

Upon meeting the half-elf again, he divulged that he had spoken with Irrikos in the attempt to learn more about the fabled artifact, but had somehow lost his sight in the process of gaining knowledge. He also told the group that he thought other parts of the Deck might have responded to the arrival of the World Tree and that his hunch was that the recent necromancer attack was somehow connected to the Deck. Finally, he mentioned a wizard allied to Lüm’ror who might have been affected by it herself. Her name was Annaria, and she spent much of her time protecting the town of Fenthic to the north of the kingdom with water-based abjurations. According to the half-elf, she had left after the necromancer attack in search of an apprentice of hers named Lenna.

Upon arriving at Fenthic, Noostoron and Catril found first that the main entrance to the water-locked town, a stone bridge, had collapsed; and, on the wrong side of said bridge was a small robed human boy being accosted by several orcs. After dealing with the orcs, they asked the boy some questions and realized that he was the wizard Lenna’s son. Also, after some prying, they found that he had somehow collapsed the bridge and killed Annaria in the process. While talking, an orc cut down the other rope bridge entrance to the town, leaving only the tunnels accessible by the river open to enter Fenthic.

Taking the boy with them into the caves despite Catril‘s distrust of him, they wound their way through them towards the town itself, getting lost several times along the way. Noticing several times that they were being stalked by unseen assailants, the group attempted to keep their path well-lit. Eventually, when Catril fell from a rock face into the lower depths of a cavern, they came face to face with their attackers: two dark ones. They attacked with the added advantage of a large bat and several noisome swarms of smaller bats, also possessing Noostoron’s Void card. Attacking him with it, he found himself face to face with Griswauld Ironshanks in his prison cell in Mentiri.

Catril held her own as Noostoron seemed to fall into a mystical slumber, the boy still relatively safe from his place on the rock wall. Noostoron and Griswauld briefly discussed his fate and his connection to the Deck of Many Things. He made clear that his destiny was foretold by many sages and oracles, and that his fate lay in the hands of whatever adventurer might successfully rescue him. Awakening to several injuries and Catril on death’s doorstep, Noostoron fought to dispatch his enemies as the boy unleashed a hellish blast of flame that destroyed many of the bats and set the largest bat ablaze. He also managed to save Catril from dying, though he was injured in the process.

Finally, they won out and while mending the boy’s wounds they found the Flames card from the Deck seared like a burn scar into his chest, near his heart. The dark ones each had a tattoo of a mouth upon their chests, one of which issued forth a taunting message from the same necromancer that had staged the attack upon the delegates previously. They made their way forth from the caves…

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Prisoner Transport

Catril Thorncastle‘s meeting with Suril Yelan went somewhat smoothly with Noostoron elsewhere, though his ability to escape the kingdom was diminished due to the heightened vigilance of the town guard after a very public altercation with the group. Shortly, Imriad Xaric arrived, seemingly to mend fences with Catril and offer to investigate the slave ring of Alterrene. The catch was that Suril would have to willingly agree to be imprisoned there, which he accepted as his only option for escaping Lüm’ror.

Meanwhile, Noostoron found himself engaged in a game of chess with a dark-skinned half-elf with strange, golden and very blind eyes. He was approached by High Priest Varis and Alanduir, who counseled him to help avert war with Alterrene so that they might fortify the World Tree against external threats. Reluctantly agreeing, he was soon surprised to see Imriad, Suril and Catril, along with a retinue of guardsmen, enter to discuss the transport of Suril. After apologies and arrangements were made, the characters were set to the task of delivering Suril to a drop-off point near Alterrene.

They also found themselves the beneficiaries of the last will and testament of the fallen Griswauld Ironshanks, with Catril Thorncastle receiving a sizable sum of money and Noostoron receiving the cloak given them by the flameskull guardian Irrikos to wrap his body. How it was listed in Griswauld’s will was unexplained.

The following morning they took off mounted on griffons with the direction of a goliath guide named Knella. Along the way they were attacked by snipers in the woodlands and Suril attempted to escape by jumping to be caught by an ally riding a pegasus. The chase continued and ended with griffons and pegasus alike all grounded. Noostoron attempted to remove one of Suril’s fingers as punishment for his escape attempt. He made it clear that his allies would not cease their attack unless he could rejoin them and call them off. Resting overnight to regain strength, they set out through a valley passage to avoid further sniper ambushes. While climbing a rocky hill, they came face to face with an eladrin bearing a thick scar on his forehead, his blade leveled upon a vulnerable Knella.

They agreed to walk on together for a time until reaching a cold, frozen river tied to the Southron Reaches. Once Noostoron crossed over Suril and his ally Vendristal attacked the group, claiming no desire to kill them, but trying to prevent pursuit. The creeping ice covering the river both bit at and restrained any who stayed upon it for too long. Eventually, the group was successful in beating them both into submission.

Noostoron severed Vendristal’s leg in order to show Suril that “actions have consequences” and left him to die by the river, though Catril tended to his leg wound. The drop-off meeting went off without any further complications, the group met by a small retinue of eladrin in icy-looking garb led by the delegate Riardon with his trained displacer beast in tow.

Upon returning, Noostoron discovered a card sewn into the fabric of his magic cloak, the Void card from the Deck of Many Things…

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Vulgar Method

With tensions running high and the threat of war on the horizon, Imriad requests that the characters take the initiative to assuage the anger of the nation of Alterrene by capturing a thief disruptive to their trade operations known to be sheltered in Lüm’ror presently. The eladrin Suril is a lithe warrior whose face is covered in blue pictish tattoos, thought to be seeking escape from the kingdom in the midst of the recent political upheaval.

Searching about the various sections of Lüm’ror, our intrepid heroes discover that Suril has connections to the local elf populace and has attempted unsuccessfully to leave through the dwarven quarter shipyards. They manage to seek him out at a tavern in the elven quarter named the Spindly Rook, where he confronted them directly and bribed the bar populace with a sack of gold to cover his escape.

Beating down the entire bar, the characters cajole and threaten their battered assailants for Suril‘s whereabouts. Catching up to him in a major bazaar in the half-elf quarter in front of the Sovereign Estate Inn, they engaged Suril with deadly force. Noostoron went for the kill immediately, while Catril blasted the eladrin’s elven archer allies. Suril reveals that the merchandise he had been stealing from Alterrene was slaves, which had little effect upon Noostoron and led to many insults from Suril. Catril, with her history of imprisonment in the Feywild, was much more affected by his story.

Finally agreeing to attempt to cover his escape, the players took several articles of clothing and hair from Suril to offer as evidence of his demise, with the promise to discuss the slave rings at a later encounter. Though their bluff somehow succeeded in the absence of a corpse, Imriad was very perturbed with the players’ lack of progress toward unraveling a potential war with Alterrene that he viewed as their direct responsibility. Noostoron responded to his angered outburst with threats to wage war upon Lüm’ror if The World Tree were to be harmed. They left Imriad and determined together that Catril would meet with Suril in an attempt to negotiate some way out of the city for the lot of them.

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Politicking

After arriving in the kingdom of Lüm’ror, the characters found themselves the subjects of great interest and consternation. The arrival of The World Tree had caused much upheaval throughout the continent and many delegates were set to arrive over the course of the coming weeks to deal with the issues at hand.

The fey of Alterrene were upset by the disruption of their trade with their kingdom’s sister-city of Highmere, since their ability to interact with the Feywild had been reduced to the moments surrounding twilight and not a moment more. The mages of Sigil-Guard expressed concerns with the location of the tree too close to the cavernous passages leading to the Underdark. Engelgang delegate Varis was joined by Alanduir to represent the interest to defend and keep the tree from coming to harm, but the former was in a very weakened state after the unexpectedly lengthy ritual ordeal that brought the World Tree to the realm. Finally, the tiefling Imriad and King Maxam presided over the gathering, seeking to maintain neutrality in the face of losing one of the greatest defenders of Lüm’ror under mysterious circumstances.

After a less-than-rousing speech by Noostoron, many of the nobles found themselves on edge. Poor timing brought about hazardous circumstances as the entire delegation was attacked during a feast honoring the fallen paladin Griswauld Ironshanks. Earl Orfus—sufferer of spurry-rot—seemed to corrupt the meal provided by noble Northguard, sickening or killing the feasters as they violently expelled the dire boar meat they had consumed. The meat slunk across the table until it reached the central platter and reconstituted the beast into a horrible undead mockery of its former bestial glory, while the victims who choked to death on said meat rose anew as zombies. The fight went poorly for the intrepid heroes, but with the support of other warriors who managed to recover themselves they managed to destroy the undead.

After purging the undead from the world, a gnarled magic mouth manifested on a nearby dining table and proclaimed the events of the evening vengeance for a previous attack on the unknown assailant. The meeting continued on in an absolute uproar.

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Deep Exodus

The adventurers managed to reconvene and discovered a cleric defending the collapsed body of a familiar paladin of Bahamut against a swarm of kruthik. Together they made short work of the chitinous reptiles and gathered their essences and glands to prepare future kruthik potions.

Examining the comatose paladin, a well-known hero from Lüm’ror named Griswauld Ironshanks, they noticed an ashen symbol of a whirlpool set inside a rectangle upon his palm. Recognizing the symbol as one of fortune and realizing they had seen him during their sojourn into the second hell of Dis in the city of Mentiri, they concluded that his soul might be imprisoned on a plane apart from his body.

They soon noticed that the warlock was missing, and eventually found their way to him as the caverns became more crafted and polished in appearance. They came upon a table with a checker board pattern carved into its surface, an apparition evaporating from its position there. Behind the table they saw a large light source emitting from another cavern. The warlock was in the center of the room, almost enveloped by a green slime. A disembodied voice bade them play a game he dubbed aura scribe to escape with their comrade to the surface.

During this game, the voice—which was attached to a horned flameskull wrapped in a dark cloak—discussed his long immurement in this room full of translucent pillars of stalagtite and stalagmite for centuries of time. He claimed to be in service to the realm by acting as a sort of gatekeeper to any who would travel from the underground to the surface through his juncture. Once they succeeded with the game and reclaimed their comrade, he gave them his cloak (along with a handful of gems used in aura scribe) and told them he could impart them with knowledge since they had played along. The flameskull also gave his name as Irrikos Tur’end.

They questioned him about the nature of the mark on Ironshanks’ hand and he told them it was a mark of chaos, and that they should seek out Gardmore to learn more.

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Re-entry to Terra
Cavernous Outskirts of Lüm'ror

After successfully guiding the World Tree in the side of a small mountain outside of a narrowly-avoided city, the party was knocked out by the concussion created on impact by the tree. Upon waking underground in a cave system, they realized that it had successfully taken root, but its roots were now blocking many of the exits.

Meanwhile, their arrival had not gone unnoticed; it appeared as though a meteorite had destroyed the nearby mountain only to replace it with a massive tree. Sending a discreet agent not prone to rash judgment to gather information before hysteria could overtake the populace, the tiefling warlock Lyzril sought to discover the nature of the tree and to find a missing paladin recently vanished.

Retracing the roots permeating the cavern, Noostoron lost contact with his fellows due to the shifting terrain, but made it to the base of the World Tree where Sæturnine informed him of the approaching warlock. After discussing his intentions, Lyzril was transported to the caverns through the World Tree, hoping to lead Noostoron to the surface with his superior familiarity with the local geography.

Winding through the caverns, the duo came upon a drow child gambling with an ettercap by way of fighting spiders. The drow and its pet attacked upon noticing the group, eventually beheaded by the stalwart minotaur.

The search for daylight continues…

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