Session 7
Through the Basement Door

Session Synopsis

After Winter Diamol pressed upon you some artifacts from Vesh Toraein's vaults, you gathered around the newly open basement door to investigate.  Aleksander O’Laighin stepped through the door and vanished, and the rest of you soon followed.

You found yourselves in a vast underground space, utterly dark.  You stood upon a stony plain, virtually featureless except for a door-sized stone arch through which you had just passed.  Stepping back through the arch did not take you back to the Rose Tower, so you determined to explore your new surroundings.  Wil was able to discern what seemed like a faint trail across the plain, and you followed it.

Your new environment reminded Lord Desideratus Constantin Lycurgus Xenophon, Ehrkun of Gorizda, Sixth of His Name (aka Betty) very much of his time in the Underdark, the underworld where Mistress Lolth consumes the souls of those not chosen by the Raven Queen to live in paradise.  Your journey across the plain sparked memories in him of running across just such a plain, pursued by some terrible monster.  It also seemed to inspire unusually lifelike feelings in Almos, Desideratus' zombie manservant.

By the end of the first day you had ventured through the darkness into a sort of underground foothills region.  That night you were visited by an undead creature of shadow that appeared to Wil as an eight year old boy.  The boy claimed to be Wil's long-dead infant son – a suspicious claim, as Wil's son died an infant fifteen years ago.  Convinced that the creature was not the soul of her child, Wil attacked it.  The child retaliated, aided by Almos, but was driven away after a sharp fight.  It fled in pain, crying that you didn't love it.

The next day, still following the trail from the stone arch on the plain, you came to an area of the foothills riven by fissures: some mere gullies, others yawning chasms.  You also encountered a stone bridge, clearly artificially constructed and carefully repaired more than once.  The child creature warned you as you approached it that on the other side of that bridge lived mean and angry people who made bad music.

As you crossed, however, you were attacked not by people but by swarms of poisonous spiders and a single giant spider.  The child also attacked Aleksander, psychically wounding him and then exclaiming in frustration that he was not happy either.  Aleksander retaliated with the divine power of Pelor, revealing many faces within the shadow child, and driving it away once again.

You fought your way through the initial wave of spiders, but as more poured from the chasms and stalagtites around you, you were forced to run.  When you had at last outrun the swarms, you saw torches riding towards you in the distance.  The newcomers were orcs riding giant boars.  You attempted to communicate with them, but none of them spoke your languages and none of you spoke theirs.  They reacted with alarm when Desideratus attempted speaking to them in Draconic, but did not attack.  In the end, they beckoned you to follow them, and you set off in their company across the underground badlands.

Session 6
Devastation of Vesh Toraein

Session Synopsis

At Winter Diamol's request, you braved the magical maestrom surrounding Vesh Toraein in search of Riva Diamol and Laryssa Tomefinder.  Laryssa's experiment in planar travel must have succeeded to some degree, for the tower was awash in portals.  Some of these criss-crossed the tower, sucking you through fantastical landscapes of silver seas, fiery hellscapes, or endless expanses of desert before depositing you elsewhere in the tower.  Others spilled raw elemental energies – and, often, hostile elementals – into the tower.  You battled your way through these hazards towards the top floor.  Along the way, you discovered that Artaxes had sent a spirit of the wild to aid you.

At the top of the tower, you discovered Laryssa's portal apparatus operational but spilling unchecked magical energy.  Through the portal you could see a landscape of fire and brimstone, bestrode by the gigantic red dragon Rhainnásh.  The dragon spied you through the portal as well, and threatened you for interfering with her plans.  Wil destroyed the portal before Rhainnásh could reach it.

You found Laryssa on the observatory floor, quite dead, but there was no sign of Riva.  You ventured into the secondary tower of the vesh in search of her, and found it overrun with elementals of earth and air.  Lord Desideratus Constantin Lycurgus Xenophon, Ehrkun of Gorizda, Sixth of His Name (aka Betty) discovered a way to manipulate the balance of elemental forces, strengthening one while weakening the other, to allow you to explore up or down the tower.  Edric Ironhand heroically held off the forces of earth, at the expense of his own life, as Desideratus made a path for Wil, Aleksander, and Leiptr to explore the secondary tower.  You found Riva clinging to life at the bottom of the tower, skin eaten away in places by elemental acid to reveal silvery scales beneath, clutching an artifact she must have left the observatory to find.  When you revived her, she was able to clear the tower of energies.

Riva claimed the tower as her own, but quickly ceded it in an unusually formal tone to her mother upon her return.  Winter informed you that she had driven the dragon Rhougar from Banriel, though she was not specific as to how.  As the last of the elemental energies seeped from the tower, the door to the lower levels banged open.

Session 5
Secrets of the Tomefinder

Session Synopsis

As promised, you had a formal dinner with Laryssa Tomefinder, Winter, and Riva Diamol.  The dinner contained many dishes for which you had not seen ingredients in the tower larder; Riva claimed to have gathered them all herself during her absences from the tower in the preceding days.  She also claimed to have cooked the entire meal, not entirely successfully.

Laryssa explained that during her famous expedition to Galvarien University, she and her traveling companions had uncovered a startling secret: the gods have moved intelligent life from world to world over the ages.  Each world is inevitably poisoned and exhausted by civilization before the gods rescue it from the brink of destruction – each world but Artaxes.  This world has its own intelligent world spirit.  The entire earth is a living organism unlike any other in the cosmos – and it views the races the gods have brought to it like an infection.  In Artaxes, the gods have found a world so vital that their worshipers cannot exhaust it – at the cost of the planet constantly trying to purge itself of civilization.

The gods had destroyed Galvarien University when its faculty discovered this history, and they would have destroyed Laryssa's expedition as well – if not for the intervention of the world spirit itself, which shielded the explorers from the pantheon's wrath.  Artaxes and the gods then gave the explorers a choice.  The gods demanded that they travel west into the primordial heart of Insser, there to re-imprison the world spirit.  Artaxes implored them to find a way across the Silverway to a new world, leaving it in peace.

Laryssa and her team chose the latter, incurring the undying wrath of the gods in the process.  They faced several obstacles: only Tiamat could open the Rainbow Gate to other worlds, but even then the path lead through a mysterious nexus known as Sigil, the City of Doors – and Sigil was closed, ruled by the so-called Lady of Pain.  Half of the expedition was sent through to Sigil in an attempt to secure passage through the City of Doors.  The other half remained behind to find a way to placate the goddess.

Now, though, decades have passed, and Laryssa fears her companions have failed.  Her work at Vesh Toraein has been to find a way through dimensions, to reach Sigil and discover its secrets.  Laryssa said that portals used to be common, and some can still be seen on university campuses across the Empire, but they all require a key of some sort to activate, and keys can be anything.  Her attempt to create a new portal, so far, has been a failure.

During the discussion of portals, Wil remembered the bean she had stolen from Thorvald Torquemand's mansion.  Laryssa examined it magically, and believed that it might be a portal key; she took the bean for use in her next experiment.

The following day a supply caravan arrived at the tower, bearing both groceries and arcane reagants.  Riva left for a shopping trip of her own to Banriel, claiming that the caravan merchants harassed her.  During the trip, Wil discovered that the villagers were surprised to see her alive, believing that all who ventured to Vesh Toraein met an ill end.  Back at the tower, Edric Ironhand noted that the caravan seemed suspiciously unsurprised to see so many guests, and Lord Desideratus Constantin Lycurgus Xenophon, Ehrkun of Gorizda, Sixth of His Name (aka Betty) discovered that the caravan was selling ale to the party with some sort of drug added.  He had Winter use the tower's alchemical apparatus, located in the second tower, to try and determine what exactly had been added.  The caravan loitered for a day after unloading their scheduled cargo, seemingly in no hurry to leave.

Before Winter's tests could run their course, Wil and Riva returned from the village, and the caravan abruptly left.  That evening, Winter cleared the tower of all but herself, Laryssa, and Riva, as they attempted to power up the portal apparatus once again.  You watched from the slope as the sun set and the ancient tower pulsed with magical energy.  Just as the sun sank behind the mountains, a crimson dragon flew low overhead with an angry roar, headed for Banriel.  Winter leapt from the top of the tower and sprinted after it, heading towards you.  No sooner had she reached the party than there was an explosion of magical energy from the portal level, and a vortex of silver energies engulfed the tower – along with Laryssa and Riva.

Winter insisted that you would be unable to assist her in combating the dragon, but she begged your help in saving her daughter.  You headed for the tower as she ran east towards the village.


Session 4
Mysteries of Vesh Toraein

Session Synopsis

Laryssa Tomefinder proved to be an elusive woman with whom to get an audience.  Winter informed you that you were to restrict yourselves to the lower three floors of Vesh Toraein before disappearing to the upper floors of the main tower.

The first three floors of the tower contained both mysteries and hints of happier times.  The major servants' quarters on the first floor were comfortable and situated so as to be part of the life of the tower.  The second and third floors contained a ballroom, game room, and small theater.  The theater even contained a rack of dusty costumes, including some labeled as Laryssa's.

The spiral staircase that ran the center of the tower went down as well as up, but the stair to the basement levels was barred by an iron-banded door of smoke-darkened wood.  According to Winter, this door had been locked since before Laryssa occupied the tower, and nothing they had tried – including dragon breath – would open it.

For several days you waited for Laryssa; each day Winter would inform you that the bard was still too busy to be interrupted.  Riva Diamol occasionally joined her mother in the upper reaches of the tower, frequently returning upset or leaving the tower in a huff.

Eventually, Riva tired of Winter's prohibitions on exploring the tower, and led you upstairs.  The sixth floor of the tower, you discovered, was given over to a library, along with a surprisingly small sleeping space that appeared to be Laryssa's.  A work table in the library was piled with rare texts on planes of existence and the afterlife.

A furious Winter discovered you before you could ascend to the seventh and final floor of the main tower.  She and Riva had a heated argument about Winter's treatment of the tower's guests, and whether Riva had any right to bring outsiders into Vesh Toraein in the first place.

Several days later, Laryssa herself descended from the tower, tired and haggard.  She invited you to dinner in two days, and offered to give you a tour of the upper floor.

Session 3
Arriving at the Rose Tower

Session Synopsis

You arrived at Journey-s End to reprovision.  The unusual brass dwarves you were carrying caused you to be detained at the city gates, but you were eventually permitted access to the city in no small part thanks to Aleksander O’Laighin's noble status and a promise to keep the peace of the city.

Caiwynn Domarien and Peri Winkle's usual performance attracted an unusual visitor: Lord Desideratus Constantin Lycurgus Xenophon, Ehrkun of Gorizda, Sixth of His Name (aka Betty), in the body of a nine year old girl, accompanied by her unusually articulate zombie manservant Almos and a barn owl with glowing turquoise eyes.  Desideratus was traveling to Vesh Toraein for his own reasons, but the caravan he had been previously traveling with was attacked by a chimera, and he had barely survived to make it to the city.

You initially refused to allow the undead Usbezhi lord travel with you, and Desideratus' insistence eventually entailed the city guard, revelations of undeath, a panicked mob, and an illusory brick wall.  In the end, you permitted Desideratus to accompany you on your journey.

Meanwhile, Wil discovered an extensive catacomb network beneath the city, along with tantalizing evidence that they had once sheltered a thriving society of criminals and outcasts.  While exploring the catacombs, she spied Riva Diamol making a rubbing of a large marble tablet.  Wil stalked her through the catacombs and out into the open air, eventually confronting her when after observing her watching the rest of the party from afar.  Recognizing kindred spirits, the two women parted as wary friends.

The party sold the remains of the bronze dwarves to a bronzesmith who was eager to get his hands on them.  The smith was suspicious that the "statues" might have unusual properties, based on his examination of the metal.  Time was wasting, though, so you sold the statues and continued on to Banriel.

In that sleepy village you discovered that the Rose Tower had a dark reputation, with shepherds and farmers all giving it a wide berth.  The villagers spoke of the vesh with fear, telling tales of stolen livestock and how the tower lit up the sky at night for miles.  Your hopes of finding a guide to take you to the tower were dashed.  

Luckily – or suspiciously – Riva was also in Banriel, apparently a known figure in the village, and she offered to take you when it became apparent that you would not be dissuaded from your purpose.  She led you the past several days into the mountains, across forbidding crags choked with mist for much of the day, until you arrived at the ancient wizard's tower in a mountain hollow.  There you met Winter, who refused you entry to the tower for days.  You camped on the slopes of the hollow, approaching the tower each morning, and each morning being refused.

At last, Riva seems to have prevailed upon Winter to permit you entrance.  And so at last you passed through the gates of Vesh Toraein, the lonely mountain retreat of Laryssa Tomefinder.

Session 2
On to Vesh Toraein


As your wagon rumbles on, you pause to take stock of the events of the past 24 hours.  This morning you were in High Falls, where you gathered your remaining belongings – notably including two dragon statues from Duplicytus N. Akshyn's hovel, curiously untouched by the flames that reduced the rest of it to ash.

Your attempts to reprovision Caiwynn Domarien's caravan included the somber execution of a faithful draft horse, a traditional performance of selections from The Silver Maiden and the Wyrm, a series of drinking contests that concluded with a naked Edric Ironhand atop a pyramid of tables and bar stools, and the disappointment of one of Meegan Wairysh's customers as you called in a favor to purchase one of her nicer traveling wagons.  Thus supplied, and relying on Elros' foraging skills and Niënor Níriel's magical holly berries, you set out for Verghast into the forbidding upcountry.

Your first taste of the highlands came in the form of a pair of horse-sized dire wolves leading a pack of smaller wolfkin.  Wil mistook the dire wolves for Ruug'la Tal enforcers and attempted to talk them down, which resulted in her frantically scrambling back to the caravan while Duplicytus attempted to bring your runaway wagon team under control and the rest of you fought off the wolf pack against the backdrop of one of Duplicytus' fizzling gnomish creations that clearly needs a few more design iterations.

In the end the hunters became the hunted, and as you resume course for Verghast, you are all – despite several very close shaves – in good health.

Session Synopsis

You arrived at Verghast without further incident, and reprovisioned there in preparation for the next leg of your journey.  Caiwynn and Peri Winkle continued to perform excerpts from The Silver Maiden and the Wyrm, but their busking was overshadowed by a very drunk Edric Ironhand dancing with a stray dog.  Wil's evening trance was interrupted by an aristocratic woman who engaged her in polite conversation, then warned her that Aleksander O’Laighin was a traitor.

The caravan continued on its way the following morning, leaving the Dragon's Tears and heading overland towards  Journey's End.  As the landscape became more forbidding, the caravan was intercepted by Kholesh at the head of eight other knights, who attempted to arrest Aleks on suspicion of treason for supporting his father in illegal magical research.  Aleks refused, claiming that Wittenwile Bardish had wrongfully deprived his father of an Imperial title that belonged to his family, and that he was traveling to Vesh Toraein to prove it.

In the end Aleks and Kholesh fought a duel, one that Kholesh was winning until Edric decided to intervene.  This prompted a general melee, dragging even reluctant caravan members into the fight.  The battle was changed yet again by the sudden appearance, from fiery portals in the earth, of several fire elementals and brass flame-bearded dwarves.  Kholesh angrily tried to talk to them in a language none present understood, but the newcomers attacked all indiscriminately.  At this, Kholesh let out a decidedly un-elven dry rattling hiss and fled, abandoning her companions.  Knights and caravan warily joined forces to defeat the rampaging creatures of fire.  They triumphed only after a heroic effort, the spilling of many gallons of water, and the sacrifice of most of the remaining knights.

Following the battle, it became clear that Kholesh had attacked and killed the knight detailed to guard the horses – yet she herself had fled without stealing a mount.  In light of Kholesh's apparent betrayal and in consideration of Aleks' valor, the surviving knights gifted Aleks with a warhore and lance from one of their fallen companions and let him go.  The party continued up the mountains, carrying the lifeless brass body of one of their strange attackers.

Session 1
Departing High Falls


The city of High Falls is in turmoil.  Last evening a fire broke out in the slums, and a fierce street battle between the local thieves' guild and unknown interlopers has the city on edge.

As for you, you pause to reflect on your own trials over the past few days.  Some of you have survived the White Wind and alligators or long journeys beset by highwaymen to reach High Falls.  Others have endured burglaries gone wrong and the displeasure of werewolves, and are looking for a quick way to leave.

Whatever your story, you have your own reasons to set out upcountry for Vesh Toraein, the remote tower sanctuary of the legendary adventurer Laryssa Tomefinder.  As a gateway city between the upper and lower Naghatar Empire, High Falls is an excellent place to organize a caravan into the forbidding interior mountains, and you hope to be on your way soon.  You retain your wits, your weapons, and – in some cases, no thanks to your own recklessness – you are all in good health.

Session Synopsis

Duplicytus N. Akshyn, Wil, and Athena all departed Ivellios' safe-house to gather their remaining belongings before leaving the city.  Duplicytus discovered that, although his hovel had been burnt to the ground and his buried cache of coins melted into slag, the two dragon statues pilfered from Thorvald Torquemand's townhouse were perfectly intact.  The Ruug'la Tal enforcer watching over the ashes was all too happy to let Duplicytus take them away.  Duplicytus and Wil were then able to exchange the melted coins for real currency at a good rate, thanks to their respective underworld contacts.

Caiwynn Domarien, Aleksander O’Laighin, Edric Ironhand, and Leiptr discovered that no stable in the city would take their plague-ridden draft horse, despite Alek's assurances that he would care for the beast personally.  The four eventually had to put down the faithful animal and burn it outside the city, which attracted the attention of Elros, Niënor Níriel, and Peri Winkle.  The two groups decided to join forces to rebuild Caiwynn's caravan.  Caiwynn and Periwinkle began busking, while Edric and Leiptr raised money by gambling on Edric's impressive alcohol tolerance.

The commotion caused by the dwarves' carousing eventually attracted Duplicytus and Wil, searching for the caravan to Vesh Toraein that Ivellios expected them to take out of the city.  Upon discovering that the "caravan" had not a single wagon to its name, Duplicytus called in a favor from a wainwright named Meegan Wairysh, who let the caravan purchase a traveling wagon and team that she had recently completed for a client.  Anxious of the werewolves' reaction should they not depart that day, the caravan set out for Verghast with minimal provisions.

While traveling upstream along the Dragon's Tears River, the caravan began to be paced by a pack of wolves.  Irritated at being followed despite leaving the city as ordered, Wil slipped away from the group to talk with the largest of the creatures – only to discover that the wolves were not shapeshifted werewolves, but an actual wolf pack lead by a pair of dire wolves the size of horses.  A wild and wooly fight ensued when the pack's leaders attacked Wil, during which Edric lost control of the wagon and Duplicytus was carried away from the fight by runaway mules.  In the end, the party prevailed, and the caravan continued on to Verghast.

Introduction 0c
Disaster at the Caravan

Caiwynn Domarien's caravan to Vesh Toraein set off from Reiklain accompanied by Aleksander O’Laighin, Edric Ironhand, and Leiptr, headed for High Falls.

Progress was significantly slower than anticipated.  Five days out from Reiklain, the caravan was overtaken by a White Wind storm of titanic proportions.  The caravan was nearly buried in its tents, then set upon by a highly determined wolf pack.  The wolves slew the entire caravan except for our heroes and a badly-mauled draft horse named Julian.  They salvaged what they could carry from the caravan and continued on foot towards High Falls with heavily laden packs.

Julian suffered from an acute case of wind poisoning, kept alive only by Aleksander's daily ministrations.  The party was then attacked by crocodiles while crossing a small stream.  Julian and Aleksander both managed to struggle free from the crocodiles' jaws, and the party saw off the predators.  Ten days after departing Reiklain, the caravan stumbled into High Falls.

Introduction 0b
Arriving at High Falls

Niënor Níriel, Lucabrassi Vorbrach, Peri Winkle and Elros continued their months-long journey to High Falls from the Free City of Melladon.  Once at High Falls, they planned to reprovision and make plans to travel upcountry to Vesh Toraein, each with his or her own reasons for seeking the Rose Tower of Laryssa Tomefinder.

The four were set upon by bandits claiming a "toll."  Peri and Elros attempted to talk their way through the ambush, but Lucabrassi and Níenor soon tired of negotiations and attacked the bandits.  Convinced that the four must be protecting something truly valuable to act so rashly, the bandits fought fiercely, and were only overcome by a fierce struggle that particularly showcased the martial skills of an Imperial bard.

The final bandit was taken hostage.  He had little to offer by way of information, aside from the fact that the local thieves' guild in High Falls was run by a family of werewolves.  The bandit offered to help the travelers avoid further ambushes as they traveled through his gang's territory in exchange for his life.  The four ultimately decided that they could not afford to feed another mouth, and Lucabrassi executed him.

In the event, the four travelers arrived at High Falls safely, where they discovered a caravan bound for Vesh Toraein had recently arrived and was looking for additional personnel.

Introduction 0a
Brass Circle in High Falls

Wil and Athena burgled the house of Thorvald Torquemand, a Brass Circle operative in High Falls, while Ruug'la Tal enforcers led away most of the guards.  Inside, Wil and Athena stealthily dispatched Torquemand's remaining guards – and, after a brief struggle, Torquemand himself.  In his personal effects, they discovered correspondence with a woman named Elesser, instructing him to procure residuum of ettincap that a Brass Circle agent would use to sabotage a magical experiment at Vesh Toraein on the fall equinox.  According to the correspondence, both Elesser and Torquemand were acting at the direction of an unnamed "she."

The sisters also discovered Torquemand's payment for the residuum: a large bag of coins, two sizable gold dragon statues, and a dried pinto bean.  They escaped the house with the letters and loot just ahead of Torquemand's returning guards.  Wil sought sanctuary at the house of Duplicytus N. Akshyn, while Athena made for her favorite tavern.

Athena was accosted outside the tavern by four thugs who had seen her leaving Torquemand's house.  They beat her and left her for dead, but not before her cries caught the attention of Wil and Duplicytus.  Wil went to her sister's rescue, only to be overcome by the four thugs in turn.

Duplicytus, meanwhile, spied a Mysterious Woman who had placed a burning brazier in the alley across from his house.  When the fire inside the brazier grew, Duplicytus doused it with a magical rainstorm.  The woman stalked around the side of his house with no windows and set the house furiously ablaze, then contemptuously cut Duplicytus down when he confronted her.

All three were rescued by Ruug'la Tal men, though an irate guild boss Ivellios informed them that five enforcers had died at the mysterious woman's hand before she fled and the blaze was extinguished.  Alarmed by Brass Circle's apparent willingness to escalate the war for High Falls by violating Duplicytus' neutrality and setting an uncontrolled fire in the slums, Ivellios ordered all three to leave the city with Caiwynn Domarien's caravan.


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