Episode Eight - Leaving Athelshoth
Episode 8: Leaving Athelshoth (Level 6)
The group attends a small award ceremony presided over by Tolebesh Buthe, the “Bastard King.” He proves jovial and vital despite his old age, and more than a little eccentric. He introduces the group to several prominent nobles, and praises them for their heroism in Athelshoth during a difficult time. The four adventurers are named “Champions of Chayrshellech”, a non-hereditary title of rank just below the landed nobility.
The king asks his new champions to take the meteors with them when they leave Athelshoth in the morning. A powerful entity in the sea seeks them, and in their absence, a full team of university mages has been unable to prevent the micro-tear portals that are even now filling his vault with seawater. Some of his mages think the fallen stars should be thrown into the sea, as every attempt to use or destroy them has failed. Tolebesh is convinced that the source of these aberrant creatures is at work here, and will not turn over such powerful magic to what may be an agent of Maruma’e. His mages theorize that if the meteors remain on the move, their powerful psionic beacon effect will not draw as much attention. He recommends that the heroes take them to the monastic temple of the silver hand just east of Midwell Bridges, as the monks there may know what to do with them.
As is his habit with many courtiers and visiting dignitaries, the king then challenges Ichtaca to a fight, eager to test his mettle against the towering northman. He includes Vash in the challenge, declaring that he can easily defeat both of them in a bare-handed fight. The three men strip to the waist and brawl, while Tobias mingles with the cheering nobility. He approaches Lord Mol Loitheyr, a powerful noble, and convinces the man to provide additional funding for their venture to find a cure for the Némelethe. Despite Tolebesh’s age, he is a scrappy, mobile brawler, and Vash and Ichtaca find it hard to defend themselves. The king constantly taunts them both, even when he is reeling and gasping for breath from a strike. Finally, they manage to overcome him, and he submits cheerfully, declaring them fine fighters and fine men.
Suddenly, the alarms ring out, and cries from the dungeons below draw the heroes down to the vault where the meteors are being held. Another aquatic dragon, this one an aberrant creature capable of becoming liquid mercury, has oozed through the tiny portals, intent on taking the psionic artifacts.
Exhausted from a long journey and their brawl with the king, the group faces a deadly challenge. Lyda and Jennish run along a catwalk, assuming support positions, while Tobias moves to close portals and lash out with psionic magic. Vash and Ichtaca wade into the fray, dodging powerful jets of water and taking the monster on with maul and axe. The dragon breathes acidic poison, burning skin and blinding eyes, and lashes out with devastating bites and clawing attacks. Vash falls in a spray of blood, hovering near death, and Lyda rushes to aid him. Tobias distracts the creature with mind-warping suggestion, turning it away from the fallen elf to gnaw and tear into its own body. Jennish, meanwhile struggles to keep Ichctaca on his feet, for even as the barbarian tears away at the dragon with his axe, he repeatedly takes the brunt of the furious creature’s teeth and claws. Buoyed by psionic healing, Vash leaps to his feet and charges back into the fray. He and Ichtaca pin the creature between them and swing away, as Tobias rends its mind. The dragon dies, dissolving into a lifeless pool of mercury.
The next morning, the ambassadorial party heads north along the trade road towards Midwell Bridges, where they will rendezvous with the Norlythin Ambassador. Vash, Tobias, Ichtaca and Lyda are now part of a long caravan full of important people. The center of the mission are three ambassadors, hoping to mediate a peace between their northern neighbors. Charshellech’s envoy is an elderly heathfolk woman with a deceptively sweet disposition; Ambassador Rilaytha Miatherra. Mottan Ambassador Sansochin Vitali is a tall, grim human who seems never to exhibit any trace of emotion. He is a devout Silphenite, and his friend Anotros Bartoli Ciprano and the Bithrodori Caravan follow the caravan to minister to his religious needs. Ambassador Losoran Anelathem represents Oruna, in Telgard. Magistrate Caral Viln is traveling north with them, still convinced that he is destined to be ordained as the new Chorrom. He seems uneasy with his newfound companions, three silent and grim men swathed in black, hunters of the eitharmos. It’s unclear if they are guarding him, or assessing if he should be assassinated. Abasi Dhambizao, the Avan Ravari, has good-naturedly agreed to come along with the party, eager to help them, and hoping to thwart Magistrate Viln at every juncture. The party travels with several wagon-drivers and a bevy of guards, wary against aberrant attacks from the river the road follows. Vash secures the meteors in a large covered wagon, and instructs the guards to let no curious onlookers too close.
The caravan is slow, taking three weeks to reach Midwell Bridges. Along the way, Vash, Tobias, and Ichtaca eavesdrop on a disturbing conversation between Ambassador Vitali, Anotros Ciprano, and Dythan Mathis, the invisible ghost of psionic energy. The three seem to be friends, working together to accomplish several mysterious and sinister purposes. Mathis has a strong interest in Tobias, Ciprano in Lyda, and Vitali in both of them, but it’s difficult for the eavesdroppers to piece together what each wants. Tobias senses intense psionic power from Mathis, however, and the invisible man is clearly the leader of the trio.
A few nights before they reach the port town, Vash, Tobias, and Ichtaca realize that Ambassador Miatherra’s gangly young scribe, Lothand Iamach, hasn’t returned from a walk in the woods. Seeing that one of the silent eitharmos is also missing, the three men swiftly and silently set out, expecting trouble. They arrive to find the eitharmos lifting his sword over the beaten young man. He has bound the frail scribe in enchanted manacles of true form, revealing that Lothand is no heathfolk, but a jhareth. The heroes move quickly, saving his life, killing the assassin. His body is cut with the seven wounds of the eithalim, but in each wound is grafted a small, aberrant maw with shark-like teeth. Tobias senses aberrant, divine magic from the wounds. Grimly, the men dispose of the body, but not before Vash cuts out several of the strange, still-living grafts and muffles their snapping in a bag. They convince the terrified scribe that resuming his disguise and returning to camp with them is safer than fleeing alone into the woods. They promise to defend him against the remaining eithalim. Soon enough, a second of the hunters leaves camp, searching for his associate. Vash follows him stealthily, stalking and killing him with brutal efficiency. The remaining hunter makes no move to leave Viln’s side, but his cold eyes assess the trio with deadly silence when they approach Viln. Viln again tries to convert them, and makes another play for the stolen gems, but Vash refuses to give him the “sacred artifacts.”
Concerned with the dangerous nature of Anotros Ciprano’s continued attentions to Lyda, Tobias convinces Vash to sneak into the Bithrodori caravan and poison their food with a vial they found on one of the eitharmos hunters. He does so without notice, and the three mottan priests are overcome with severe illness, unable to care for themselves or drive their wagon the next morning. Ambassador Vitali tries to bring them into the camp under his care, but Losoran arranges for a driver to help the sick men.
When they reach Midwell Bridges, a bustling seaside port at the mouth of River Taelya, the group are impressed at the interesting mix of races and cultures that mingle in the trading hub. The Norlythin ambassador is not due for several days, and Vash, Tobias, Ichtaca, Lyda and Abasi break from the ambassadorial caravan for a time, taking the scribe Lothand with them as their driver for his own protection. They leave immediately with their bulky wagon, taking the meteors to the monastery east of town. After sunset, as they pass by a prominent crag, sounds of sparring from the seemingly inaccessible hilltop draw their attention. With difficulty, they scale the cliff, and approach unseen to observe two young monks practicing dangerous techniques out of view of their masters. The unlikely friends are a daemon and a jhareth. Both men are winged, and glow with glory, though they vary vastly in appearance and demeanor.
Tobias floats towards them in an impressive display of psionic power, and the monks bow deeply, horrified at being caught by a visiting psion in such blatant disregard of common sense, and their order’s instructions. Both quickly revert to human form, and lead the group to the monastic temple, a sanctuary of the order of the silver hand. The daemon is Casimir Janique, a handsome, vain and rebellious pupil from Goltaraim. The jhareth is Mozral Hafenquedhraltha, stoic and steadier than his friend, with hard features. Half of his body is covered in disfiguring burn scars.
The monastery has been attacked by the eitharmos, and monks are laying out the bodies of their dead. The young monks look horribly guilty, and try to sneak away, but the group forces them lead them all the way into the temple, where they meet Master Temu Jenmai. Jenmai is furious with his young pupils, who were instructed not to leave the monastery after the attack, but to ready themselves to travel to another temple for their own safety. He orders them to wait for him, and turns his attention to his visitors, and the fallen stars they have brought him.
Jenmai is an oddly proportioned man, his body entirely hidden at all times in a deeply hooded cloak and robes. He moves with a strangely liquid gait, and his voice is gravelly, with strange speech patterns beyond those of his thick Syrikal accent. Despite his appearance, he seems kindly and wise, and more than willing to aid the group in whatever way that he can. He invites them to spend the night at the monastery, and promises to answer all of their questions after the dead have been laid to rest.
Champions of Chayrshellech: 100 xp
Award Ceremony Brawl Encounter: 250 xp
Dragon in the Vault Encounter: 800 xp
Defending the Caravan from Aberrant Attacks: 100 xp
Rescuing Lothand Iamach: 100 xp
Killing the Eitharmos: 100 xp
Poisoning the Bithrodori: 50 xp
In-Character Dialogue with multiple NPC’s: 200 xp
Total XP: 1,700, divided by 3 PC’s, is 567 each. Previous cumulative individual total was 9,178, current is 9,745. Not quite level 7 yet.