The Stellar Alliance needed a break after finishing such an arduous contract. Deciding to relax in Del’Anarei, they took care of some minor business to wind themselves down after killing Veredestraz and saving all of Silverwood.
Daryl, concerned about her people after meeting Deimos and seeing her shame at her tiefling heritage, used her new platform as a Hero of Silverwood hosted a ‘tiefling pride’ rally, to whcih a few of the tieflings of the city attended. Her speech was focused on being true to yourself, and while it was her race that she had in mind, she found that many people were moved by her words, regardless of their backgrounds.
Stephon had an unfortunate incident with one of his father’s relatives, who decided to mention that Stephon might be the only useful thing to come out of his family line in years. Stephon showed him with a witty retort that sent the man off in an outraged huff.
Candy communed with nature in the Del’Anarei Pavilion, so that he could more readily return should the Stellar Alliance require a quick travel to the city.
Bob Ogden spent her days trying to master the art of silverite floor dancing, and learned the basics. She’s okay at it, I guess.
Kat tried to learn more information about Berrian’s death, but discovered some unfortunate news. It appears that his body has gone missing, and her investigation has led her to believe that Therovel Moonbrook simply walked into staging chamber of the Vedaren Rangers and animated the body to walk out.
Together, the party managed to sell many of the parts they harvested from Veredestraz and his ilk and sell them to a merchant who specializes in moving monstrous materials for crafting. He was able to give them a line on a master craftsman rumored to be living in Arndell by the name of Nasherai.
Candy and a few of the others paid another visit to Markov’s Marvellous Merchandise to stock up on spell components, Stephon having bought a large number of precious diamonds he can use for the revivify spell, and Candy buying some of the unguents and oils needed for the reincarnation spell. In his haggling, Candy struck a deal with Markov and agreed to refer people to his store in exchange for five percent of all of the revenue for said referrals.
When they returned home, they found elandrian government officials all over the city. According to one they spoke with, there was an imperial edict that Vigil become the new capital of the Elandrian province of Elysium. While travelling through the city they passed by Ashen Arms, the smithy run by Stephon’s younger sister, Kali. Kali was having a heated argument with a tax official who was demanding she pay her back-taxes, which she claimed to have been avoiding due to charitable donations to impoverished children in the city. The Stellar Alliance donated money to her to help with her charitable efforts, and Kali ended the conversation with the tax officer by telling him to “suck it”
They met with the provincial Governor Icarus Riddell a few minutes later. Icarus offered to them to join him for dinner, but instead of accepting the offer, the party refused and chastised him for a lavish lifestyle when people were unable to get enough food to eat within the city. After hearing about Kali’s tax issues, and a recommendation that charitable donations be given tax breaks from Candy, Icarus agreed to look into the situation and see what he could do for her.
The last orders of business in Vigil were to meet with Haldir, Bronwyn and Elmarris to discuss the issue of the governor’s intrusions, the dragon eggs they found, and identification of their magic items, respectively. Haldir was very openly distressed by the intrusions of the government, Bronwyn reluctantly decided to try and care for the dragon eggs, and Elmarris was stoned, but helpful.
The party ended their day by going to Magnus, where they drank at the Sleeping Scholar. Katariah interrupted another of Stephon’s attempts to court a young lady, playing a prank on him with a ring he’d given her and causing him to be so angry he ignored his friends for the rest of the evening. Meanwhile, the rest of the Stellar Alliance met up with Rufus, and they revisited Cassandra’s, this time getting Katariah’s fortune told. They decided after to go get tattoos, and Rufus began to bring them to the port district, but seeing that they were being followed by members of the Black Hand, they decided to turn back. One of the members confronted Daryl, and through the interaction (which ended peacefully), the party was able to determine that her Assassin’s Blade was related to the crime guild.
The next day, the Stellar Alliance decided that they needed to take care of their banking before meeting with Cornelius to get briefed on their next contract. After talking to a gnomish mathmetician in the Sleeping Scholar, they determined that the two best options for their investments would be The Bank of Elandria and Ascension Financial Group. Deciding to split the party, they investigated both banks and their potential interest rates for their prospective investment. Daryl, Stephon and Bob went to Ascension and ran into an old acquaintance of theirs. Having a bad taste in her mouth from their last encounter, Daryl refused to do business with him, while the other two tried to at least hear him out. At the Bank of Elandria, Kat and Candy met with a tiefling man who introduced them to a senior manager of the bank named Eric. Eric promised them amazing rates, and the two of them made their notes before leaving to the rest of the group.
They decided to meet with Cornelius and think on who they were going to give their business after that meeting. The audience with Cornelius was quick, with everyone agreeing anonymously that the best contract to go after of the four they had been presented in Vigil was the contract to find and escort home an entity known only as The Immortal Guide. Cornelius informed them that this entity was created as part of a nameless ancient order who sought to stop confluences past. They were given a starting point for their search, told that they could seek out the Immortal Guide in a place that has been mistaken as a temple to the giant deity, Stronmaus. Cautioning them to beware of those who claimed immortality, he sent them on their way.
The party decided to invest their money with The Bank of Elandria, not knowing at the time that it was secretly a front for the Black Hand. As they met with ‘Eric’, he shook their hands, and managed to steal Vera away from Stephon.
Finally moving on to the distant land of Verftet, the Stellar Alliance teleported across the world. In the city of Arndell, they acquired snowshoes, commissioned some weapons be made by the artisan smith they had heard of before, and then experienced some tragedy as Stephon realized he had been robbed, and Daryl found that her estranged brother and nephew had moved away from the city. The party immediately tried to have Cornelius uncover the whereabouts of Stephon’s ring, and his investigations revealed the truth of the bank where the party had left the vast majority of their money. Deciding that it would take far too long to delay the rescue of the Immortal Guide, they resolved to proceed without Vera.
But the next morning, Vera was returned to Stephon’s room at the Watcher’s Guild Hall in Arndell. As he asked her what happened, she revealed some history that none of them had been privy to until now: her long-dead husband Azwain Venatori was the original founder of the Black Hand. Originally created to resist the Infinite Empire, the Black Hand apparently changed its purpose since being rebuilt in Verenia. The one who called himself Eric sought to take Vera, but in talking to her, discovered that her best chance to regain her body was with the Stellar Alliance, and thus returned her with the note “Treat her well, and do it soon.”
Filled with a renewed optimism, the Watchers set out again that day. Encountering a remorhaz on the road, they dispatched of it handily, and made it to the Brackenwell Ferry the next night. Taking a well deserved break to drink up and enjoy each other’s company, the band of friends ended that night with a hangover-inducing binge-drinking session.
The next day, the Stellar Alliance set out on their journey to the northern island on the ferry. Spending some time discussing their options, they made an offer to the ferry operator (a human man by the name of Donaar) to take them straight to Husavik as opposed to simply travelling to the ferry. For an extra added fee, he accepted their offer and they began a week-long journey by boat. Along the way, Daryl befriended a dwarf named Glen and they were all attacked by a group of sahuagin raiders.
At the end of their journey, they arrived in the city of Husavik. As they traversed the city, they came across a huge scene in which Daryl’s older brother and his son were attempting to convince a man that he’d run over the young boy’s leg. Daryl, overwhelmed with emotions ran up and hugged her brother, and completely interrupted their con. Needing to salvage the situation, Maureen told Daryl where she could find him and then escaped with Kim.
At this point, Daryl split off from the group to meet up with her family, while the rest of the group went to The Quiet Moon (the seediest tavern they could find) in search of rumors that would help them in finding Pelior and the Immortal Guide. They split up their efforts, Candy speaking with a dwarven man named Daar, Kat speaking to a half-orc named Obby, Bob flirting with another halfling named Adrik, and Stephon just chatting with the goliath bartender. Through their conversations, they learned a few things:
- Daar was psychotic
- There was trouble in Husavik with a group of giants calling themselves the Stormchildren, but they have since been placated/killed by a company of Watchers calling themselves The Incompetency of Others
- The Stormchildren are all worshippers of Stronmaus
- Mount Berus (the most likely location of the cleric, Pelior) is a day’s march south of Husavik
- The Stormchildren would attack Husavik from the west
Meanwhile, Daryl confronted her brother, chastising him for raising Kim as a con artist and not getting out of the criminal life. The conversation did not go well. Daryl eventually lied to him, telling him that their parents were killed for being discovered for their con on the Ruggletonians. With the conversation getting darker as it went, Maureen eventually snapped and demanded that Daryl leave.
The party eventually regrouped outside the The Quiet Moon, and agreed to find a nicer place to stay for the evening. On their way to a nicer place to stay Katariah noticed a man walking past them that she recognized: it was Hank, the butler to their old employer Abraxis Finch. The party demanded to meet Finch, and pressured Hank into bringing them to meet with him. They eventually ended up travelling about two hours out of the city to Finch’s new mansion, which had the same cursed appearance as the last one. After a few minutes of talking, the party tried to convince Hank to take them to Finch, and Stephon used a zone of truth spell to force him to be honest. After being subjected to this magic, he demanded they leave, but they refused, and thus, Finch appeared from invisibility into the room and attacked them, revealing the truth of his identity.
The battle was long, and Candy took aggressive actions against the manor itself, first lighting it on fire and then spawning a maelstrom that took out the entire front half of the building. At one point in the fight, Balthazaar grabbed Bob Ogden as she tried to climb out a window and rushed off into the dark with her. She managed to escape with magic, but not before being viciously biting into her neck. Eventually though, the fight lead its way out of his house and the party surrounded the outnumbered vampire, with the final blow coming from Stephon who sundered him into mist.
As the group started to catch their breath from the sudden fight, they looked around and investigated his home. It didn’t take long to notice that his bed did not seem used, and they couldn’t find the coffin they would have expected to see anywhere around the rubble of the house. This lead them to believe that there may be more hidden, and so Bob Ogden once again communed with an unkown deity to ask if there was more to the estate than met the eye. After receiving an affirmative response, the Stellar Alliance searched the house again and found a secret passage in the kitchen that lead to a deeply disturbing hallway beneath the manor. After triggering a magical trap that nearly killed Candy, the party used magic to avoid triggering any further glyphs and discovered the secret lair of Balthazaar Von Henrik. In this hall they found a fountain of blood and bone, a collection of grimoires and tomes that taught forgotten and taboo magic, and a laboratory table with different tools and preserved humanoid body parts. At the end of the hall, they finally found the vampire’s coffin, and Katariah didn’t hesitate, immediately running her sword through the vampire’s skull, truly ending his life forever.
Katariah took a book that appeared to be Balthazaar’s journal, as it mentioned a city on top of where Vigil should lie known as Highdragon, which directly related to a mysterious cult that was responsible for killing her family, and also grabbed a few more books from the upstairs. The others grabbed a few more items from his home, before Candy burned that mother down.
The next day, the party set out for Mount Berus. Candy used a wind walk spell get everyone there in a few hours, and they arrived at Pelior’s shrine on the mountain in only a few hours. Adellan, Stephon’s summoned celestial mount, made them all aware that the place they were entering was one that warranted extreme reverence and respect, and refused to step forward, citing a warning to not trespass upon “Her Radiance’s shrine”. Observing that, Daryl called out for Pelior, announcing their presence, and they all bowed before her when she did show her face. Introducing themselves as the Stellar Alliance, and explaining that they were there to have an ally resurrected, she cautiously invited them in.
After some discussion, Pelior warned the Stellar Alliance that resurrection comes with consequences, claiming that any time you resurrect someone, you become responsible for every act that person then commits for the rest of their lives, and the consequences of those actions as they ripple out through history. Reluctant to perform this service for the party, she communed with her deity and received her blessing, deciding afterwards that she would perform the resurrection should the party supply her with the required material component of the spell: a single diamond worth at least 25,000gp.
After finishing up with Pelior, the party carried onward. Using the residual effects of Candy’s wind walk spell, they arrived outside what appeared to be the camp of the Stormchildren. They camped the night there, and got into a rather silly argument about the camp fire they created, with Daryl using her innate magical abilities to cause the fire to burn brighter as Katariah tried to keep it low and unnoticable. They went to bed early that night, agreeing to sneak into the Stormchildren’s camp under the cover of darkness.
Successfully sneaking into the camp, they went to the back of it and discovered a large cave, where they believed the Immortal Guide to be hidden. The first room of this massive cave contained a three-dimensional map of the entire world, covered in a red glow. The glow was diminished around where the city of Northaven should be, and there were intense pinpoints of light over Rangorin, Husavik, the sea by Moram, and the glade of the Faerie Trees. The map also showed other continents in the world of Verenia that none had ever seen before, with pinpoints all over it as well. Touching the map yielded electrifying results, causing the toucher to be struck with lightning and letting out a peal of thunder. Katariah managed to reflexively cast silence to save the party’s ears from being damaged.
The next room was one with a set of benches and a large mirror, that upon deeper inspection appeared to be some kind of a magical barrier meant to keep creatures out. The border of the ‘mirror’ had the words “Do not be limited by the depths of your understanding” written around it in deep speech, repeated over and over. The party circumvented the barrier by sending Candy and Bob through with a dimension door spell. They managed to destroy the mirror versions of their friends by burning them up, and the image was jarring to those on the other side of the barrier. Stephon in particular was unable to move or react for a few minutes after.
The party then carried on down a long hallway, that extended for a suspiciously long time. The hallway was warped, with its geometry shifting and pulling in curves instead of shooting straight through the mountain as they would expect. As our heroes progressed down that hallway, they were ambushed by a group of black puddings, acidic ooze creatures, who managed to knock Katariah unconscious. She was revived though, and the oozes were slain.
Along the hallway, there were windows that revealed the outside to be a roiling tumult of shifting elements, as opposed to the stone caverns one might expect. It became clear to them that they were on another plane of existence.
At the end of the hall, they found themselves on a ledge above a vast void of nothing but shifting elemental forces. Directly in front of them was a floating island, with a stone monastery at its center. Bridging the gap between the ledge they were on and the monastery itself was a walkway that shifted between different elements at random times, for random durations. Unsure of how to proceed, Daryl called across the gap using thaumaturgy, but no response from the building came. Despite the lack of response from the direction they expected, they turned around to see a trio of illithids approaching on floating sheets of metal. A tense conversation began, but the heroes’ recognition of the symbol of the Infinite Empire resulted in a fight breaking out. They managed to kill two of the mind flayers, but the third seemingly vanished into thin air.
Bob Ogden, thinking it wise to try and do some magical reconnaissance, cast her commune spell. However, instead of ending up in a starry plane immediately, her communication was interrupted by a mysterious entity calling himself Fenris, Lord of Winter. Fenris offered her a deal: powers and a relic they were seeking, in exchange for a favor to be executed when the Stellar Alliance inevitably found themselves in the Feywild.
Our heroes then flew across the gap, using Candy’s wild shaping abilities to ferry them across without having to contend with the dangers of the bridge. In the monastery there were many puzzles and riddles, seemingly designed to test the party’s wits. There was a large iron golem that they managed to bypass, a wall of stone that could only be passed through by dissolving it with water, and a door that would only open if they convinced it to say a pass phrase. This all culminated in a confrontation with a sphinx, who challenged them to a series of riddles in order to gain the Immortal Guide. They succeeded, and introduced themselves to the guide, a sentient tome that gathers knowledge from his environs. Katariah named him Nigel, and was abusive to him at first, but after some discussion, they managed to form a bond.
The party left the monastery the next day, and returned through the hall they came in. Emerging into the cave they originally entered in, they found signs of carnage, with a dead giant lying on the broken ruins of the map that they had found earlier. It didn’t take them long to find the cause of the destruction: a Beholder, who tried to attack the party as well. They dispatched the aberration, quickly, and then decided to not travel home manually, but instead teleport to Arndell. They collected their commissioned items, masterwork weapons created of dragon parts, and then they decided to kill time by competing in the Arena at Arndell.
Daryl and Stephon kicked things off by fighting a hydra, coming out victorious. Afterwards, Katariah competed in an archery competition, and was unfortunately outshone by the conniving tactics of her opponent, despite doing far more damage with her plentiful shots. Bob and Candy tried to use magic to manipulate the proceedings, and ended up being banned from the arena.
From there, party returned to Vigil, taking care of some minor business and generally enjoying themselves. When discussion turned to what they needed to address next, Katariah informed her companions that the cult that had killed her family were on the move. Afraid that the consequences of not dealing with them immediately would be dire, they agreed to hunt the cult’s figureheads in the city of Freeport. Establishing their travel plans, they teleported to Magnus, intending to wind walk from there to Freeport. A minor hiccup in the form of a silver dragonborn presented itself, however. A knowledge keeper met them at the teleportation circle and informed them that Cornelius would like to speak with them. The begrudgingly agreed to meet with him.
When they spoke with Cornelius, he requested to see Nigel, and explained the full scope of his plan. In order to stabilize the barriers between the material plane and the other planes, a ritual would need to be cast. Nigel is capable of learning the specifics of how to cast the ritual, but in order to do so, he needs to be immersed in a given plane’s Planar Heart: a location that embodies the very essence of the plane. Once Nigel knows the ritual’s specifics, Cornelius will be able to cast it and stabilize the barrier, keeping at least that plane from colliding during the confluence.
In order to travel to the other planes, however, one needs an artifact known as a planar key, attuned to the plane in question. That is the purpose of their other contracts: to find they keys attuned to the Shadowfell, the elemental planes, and the Abyss. Other keys to other planes exist, but Cornelius was unaware of their location. The planes mentioned were a positive, heavenly plane, Bellumvir, and the Feywild. The party informed Cornelius that they managed to obtain the Key of the Fey.
In the discussion, the party learned of a plan called Bellumvir, which is the plane Cornelius was born to. They learned that Cornelius was taken from his home, his mate Celestia, and their children by a past confluence. They also agreed to leave Nigel with Cornelius, that he may try and heal his scarring.
After leaving Cornelius’ presence, Daryl hid the shell they use to communicate with him up a tree outside the city, hoping to cease his spying on them. They then headed out using Candy’s wind walk spell. They made camp for that night, but when they awoke, they found everything to be covered in darkness. Near to their camp, there was a rift, seemingly opened to the Shadowfell, out of which a horrifying entity known as a bodak had come. It had killed some travellers, but the Stellar Alliance made short work of it. Bob Ogden used sending to inform Haldir of the rift so that the Watchers could close the rift, and didn’t get a response. The party resolved to keep going, heading to deal with the Cult of the High Dragon, and hopefully beat them to the Key of Shadows.