Session 23 - It was all a dream

The scene opens with Leatha receiving help from Dantalion in her escape from a prison cell below decks of an elven ship…

Sunken Squall by Jonathan Kirtz
by Jonathan Kirtz

The below-decks of the Sunken Squall are just as beautiful as her exterior. The wood, wrapping about you in polished radiant warmth, bears the hallmarks of a master craftsman. The intricate details carved into doorframes and shaped into the lantern frames sing of the patience and artistry of the elven race. Standing in stark contrast to the beautiful craftsmanship, the bars which criss-cross your cell door are crude and look as if they’ve been hastily mounted to the wood – marring it in places where the bolts were driven.

As the smell of brimstone clears, Dantalion bends down, callously cutting the beautiful silken cord which binds your wrists. The devil-in-human-form gazes at you with a sly look from his dangerous eyes – they catch both the daylight streaming from the small port holes and the candlelight streaming from the lanterns in the hallway. Though no words stream forth from his wry smile, you can practically hear his voice in your head, “you owe me one.”

Sighing in exasperation, the Protection deity accepted the devil’s help, allowing Dantalion to teleport her to the other side of the cell’s bars. They then proceeded to the aft of the ship, where they encountered the stolid brothers Nemos and Verthos…

Your silent crewmates Nemos and Verthos convalesce in a cell near the back of the ship. One of the cell bars appears to have been twisted away from its frame, torn in half, and split between the two brothers. They are (somewhat quietly) grinding the metal between their fingers and painting over their scarred skin, leaving shiny streaks behind. As your approach they stand from their cross-legged posture and face you with stolid expressions, ready to follow.

The usually strong but silent brothers made quick work of the cell bars, ripping them from their foundations easily. The now four-person party continued their trek aft-ward, discovering their friends and equipment…

Behind a well-oiled door you find your traveling companions in a common room, each carefully hung in a simple hammocks criss-crossing the room – their familiar snores occasionally harmonizing. Caelynn the Pale Governess, whose horns stretch wide the fabric of the hammock on one end, securing her tightly in place. Graver the Chainbreaker, whose grey skin blends almost seamlessly with the hammock’s fabric. Cyrus the once-angel, whose sheer muscle mass strains the hammock despite its thick fabric. Marsala, halfing captain of the Sea Bitch, whose wild curly locks cascade over the edges of her hammock. Twitch the Paravahlian, who seems nervous even when he’s comatose. Laurian the scholar, whose large eyes glow softly through his closed lids. Prism the Undine, resting like the calm before the storm. And Orrin the fetchling – despite being unarmed you think you see the faint outline of a dagger strapped to his thigh and pressing against the hammock fabric.

Though they had no luck in rousing their sleeping companions, Leatha was able to retrieve her equipment. Dantalion also re-acquired his banner. Shifting course, the party proceeded to the front of the vessel, encountering Graver’s surly companion along the way…

Echoes of higher-pitched draconic curses reverberate from another cell farther down the hall. Peering through the bars you see a metal crate sitting the center of the room – the temperature in the cell is distinctly hotter than the rest of the lower decks. From the one small hole drilled into the top if the crate you see the occasional gout of flame and hear the shouts of a tiny but angry creature.

The magma wyrmling was uninterested in participating in the battle to retake the ship however, and opted instead to remain in his cell. At last, the party reached the final cell before making their way up to the poop deck, encountering something unexpected…

Behind the bars of the final cell on this deck, you are greeted with an unusually-appointed room. Ornately upholstered and oversized pillows litter the room along with a smattering of furniture – for some of which you cannot immediately divine the purpose. Stretched out over a deep purple velvet chaise lounge in the center of the room is a handsome half-dressed tiefling twiddling with an elaborate hookah.

Valifor by Tatiana Kirgetova
by Tatiana Kirgetova

Valifor, as he eventually introduced himself, was a prisoner by choice. Through some convincing, the party managed to acquire his assistance in retaking the ship, but not before the conversation between Dantalion and the fallen devil became a bit heated. Now a party of five, the group make their way to the top deck.

Meanwhile, in the realm of dreams, the unsuspecting remainder of the party has just finished their investigation of the sleeping town of Tavrobel, discovering that they had been tampering with an alchemical sleeping agent. With the mystery solved, the less scrupulous of the bunch resolved to steal a recent shipment of emeralds from the town’s vault, but before they could get underway, they spied a ship in the distance…

The acrid scent of alchemy still lingers in the chill open-air pagoda; it mixes strangely with the heavy smell of rich earth and deep forest that pervades the elven port town Tavrobel. Through the swirling droplets of moisture dancing playfully on your breath, you spy a ship approaching the sweeping, eagle-shaped docks. It makes no noise to break the eerie silence that weighs heavily upon the village.

Making their way quickly to the town’s docks to greet the ship, Caelynn notices something sinister…

Your boots and the boots of your companions strike a staccato beat against the delicately-carved boards of the dock. Like most else in this town, the sound is eerily muffled; even still you feel as if you’re disturbing a grave. Your thoughts drift between the present and past, contemplating the sins of Tavrobel and its wages – the slumber of its citizens; it echoes in your heart with a familiar weight.

With an unexpected speed, your melancholy thoughts seem to take on a presence of their own – you cannot help but feel like you are being watched. The gentle tickle of a light breath brushes your head behind your ear – you feel a deep and abiding malicious intent accompanying it. Glancing down, you spy – just barely visible – a crown of hair floating in the water about 3 feet down.

Trying to help the sinking woman, Caelynn reaches into the water, and the submerged person turns her face upward to meet her gaze! The twisted features of Tera Hawthorne stared back at the death goddess – a specter from her past who was cursed to eternal sleep by Caelynn in a fit of jealousy. Before she can react, the face sinks into the blackness of the water.

Tera by Imagist
by Imagist

With that, it is clear that something is very wrong, and that becomes all the more evident when the party spies ghostly duplicates of their companions (the ones that are awake) moving about on board the ship that has just arrived, timed precisely with the party, Leatha at its head, emerging from below decks in the waking world…

A tempestuous wind tosses your hair as you emerge onto the deck of the Sunken Squall. The bright light of the day is diffused by a high bank of clouds darkening menacingly in the distance. The melodic intonations of elvish carry in snippets on the wind – there is an armored elf, tall and proud, clearly frustrated with another elf – this one scantily clad with blue hair.

Caerdin by Emanuel Mardsjo
by Emanuel Mardsjo

Zizzixtraz by Anndr
by Anndr

“…to live up to your legend,” the party caught the tall elf in mid-sentence, “I would’ve much preferred they all be asleep and unaware that they never visited the isle.”
“You can’t blame me swordmaster,” retorted the blue-haired elf, “it was your choice to intercept them so far from the isle’s enchantment. Were we closer, or if you would allow me my complete form, not even an elf could resist my power.”
“That doesn’t explain the tiefling.”
“He’s pretty; and I enjoy my little rebellions when you take me on field trips.”

With the frown of the warrior growing even deeper, his gaze shifts over to you. His frown deepens into a scowl – a familiar one at that. You look into the eyes of Caerdin, a warrior of the Winter Court. Though no noble, he has earned respect through his skill in battle, training others, and loyalty. Leatha, you were once part of a contingent of students that trained for a week under his tutelage.

As Leatha and Caerdin engage in conversation, it becomes apparent that the sleeping party is witnessing the the events of the waking world, but the witnessing is one-way. Caerdin explains that he, a representative of the Winter Court, was charged to safely and without harm redirect the Sea Bitch and all who travel on her northward past Shinael; the Court feels the pantheon is too dangerous to be on the isle – especially considering the influence Leatha’s family name still wields.

During this conversation (which descends a bit into elven politics), the blue-haired elf splits into two, entering the dream realm to interact with the sleeping party. He introduces himself a Zizzixtraz, a dream dragon, and implores Graver the Chainbreaker to free him from the binding he’s suffered under for hundreds of years.

In short order, he describes how the enchantment that blankets Shinael was originally crafted by Samsarans and is powered by the essence of several bound dragons. When the ancient civilization was destroyed, the elves moved in and kept the dragons bound – Zizzix wants to be free. Graver agrees.

It is at this moment that an attack occurs, both in the waking and dreaming worlds. In the waking world, an air sorceress leaps on deck from the Sea, attacking the party. In the dreaming realm, strange nightmare creatures assault those on deck. Battle ensues, and in the waking world Leatha and Valifor make quick work of the sorceress. In the dreaming realm, the party does the same, but not before Graver’s terrifically destructive magic lays waste to the dream version of the Sunken Squall. They implore Zizzix, who put them to sleep in the first place, to alter the dream and save the ship from succumbing to the flames; but after a brief attempt, horror crosses his face and he exclaims, “I can’t!”

Sessions 24, 25, and 26 - Faded Notes

Much of this portion of the story of the gods has been lost to the fog of time as Laurian, the primary recorder of their deeds up to this point, was incapacitated. What follows is what history has been pieced together.

Working with the bound dream dragon of Shinael Zizzixtraz, the sleeping deities determine that they are trapped in the dream realm he created due to the influence of the dark entity Caelynn called upon to curse her childhood rival Tera Hawthorne into eternal slumber. They hatch a plan to track down a scroll of dream slumber that Zizzix places in each of his dreams which serves as a backup method of escape.

The sleeping gods quickly locate the scroll but find it to be guarded by a strange otherworldly creature, a colour from space. They battle the strange entity and release themselves from the sleeping enchantment.

Meanwhile, back on board the Sunken Squall in the waking world, the rest of the party interrogates the sorceress which attacked them. Compelled by some means to tell the truth, she reveals that her name is Legatin – she is only a commoner, but serves as an aid to a prominent family of the Spring Court, the Falavirs.

Legatin by PrincepsSenatus
by PrincepsSenatus

The Falavirs are rising rapidly in influence in elven politics and decided to take action when they heard that Caerdin was sent to redirect the party away from Shinael. The plan was to stage a false assassination attempt on the party by forces within the Court of Winter. Her masters hoped this would prompt the deities to insist on traveling to the isle and ending the long reign of the Winter Court. They believe that the shift in power and philosophy is vital to the survival of the nation given the return of the gods and the threat of Uruk invasion.

Now reunited, the party is faced with another two challenges – first, the non-deities of the group cannot wake up; whatever is holding them in the dream realm is too powerful for Zizzix’s backup plan. The only solution seems to be unbinding Zizzix from the isle’s enchantment. Second, the group is still captive aboard the Sunken Squall and barred from the isle. To get the ball rolling in addressing the former issue, Leatha addresses the latter issue and challenges Caerdin, captain of the Sunken Squall, to a duel for their freedom. Knowing that his crew is outmatched in facing the entire party of gods, Caerdin accepts the challenge and is defeated.

With their freedom regained, the party returns to the Sea Bitch and sails to the real Tavrobel. Dantalion knows of a nominally unguarded Path of Addaric near the town which will allow him to return home and the party to get to the core of the isle’s enchantment quickly. At Tavrobel the party fights a mysterious conjurer to tries to stop them from docking and escapes once his creatures are defeated.

The genuine town of Tavrobel is largely similar to the Tavrobel presented to you in your dreams by Zizzixtraz, though with a full litany of citizenry lined up in the higher tiers of the town to watch your battle.

Buildings with thin paper walls dot the land, the soft light of candles illuminate some as dusk progresses into night. Outside of a dream, the craftsmanship of the elves truly shines – each item, no matter how mundane, is imbued with artistry, care, and beauty. Decorative elements ebb and flow with the natural setting around you and only the scent of the evening forest and seared onions reaches your nose.

In Tavrobel, the party strikes a deal with the mayor Kaerith to allow the Sea Bitch to stay docked and Prism to stay behind and guard the unconscious party members. They also visit Estelion, the godmother of Leantha’s aunt and master of magical cloth. The next day they set out overland for a bridge that leads to the fey realm Shyrbarad where the Path of Addaric lies unguarded.

Bridge by Hakubaikou
by Hakubaikou

The journey to the bridge is uneventful and upon the bridge the party battles a pair of giants. After crossing the bridge, the party enters Shyrbarad…

Shyrbarad by aJVL
by Aeron


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