Evertide

Missing in Action

MAGICAL, AWESOME, AND NOT HERE

Following the tracks of the monsters, which seemed to have passed Mark off to a set of more normal escorts, the heroes found themselves back in Heron’s Gate. They were approached by Jiselle, who offered to add a couple members to their rescue party. And so did the heroes meet Markus the Jedi warrior (Psion/Swordmage) and Skamos the Teifling Paladin Warlord.

Deciding Mikal was likely moved through the slave trade, they contacted an underground gang/club boss, Korlan the Goliath. Entering the underground club, Markus caught Korlan’s attention by lifting his chair over telekinetically, Markus, Skamos and Kindulas were invited to speak with him upstairs. They learned that there was a large slave trading operation run by the Darkferns, now that the Silverferns had competitors.

Meanwhile, Jade was keeping an eye a mysterious cloaked figure, while Grey was keeping his eyes on Korlan’s strippers. Grey was led outside by the cloaked figure, a young woman, who attempted to seduce him. Drunk at this point, Grey misread her flirtations. Failing to seduce her target the woman sedated him instead, and began to carry him off. But Jade was not far behind, and managed to restrain the kidnapper.

As it turned out, she was a noble’s daughter and a rapist. But from her the heroes got a lead on a black market shop, as well as 1,000 gold by trading her to Korlan for ransom purposes. At the black market shop, where everything was allegedly Magical, Awesome and Here, according to the salesman Stan, they found a gnome slave trader who recognized the description of Mikal. He was being moved tonight, but beyond that the trader didn’t know; he was merely a storefront, effectively.

Their next lead was the information broker Lyra, who was willing to tell them where to find their friend in exchange for their tales of the Eladrin Psion. Beginning their story, she seemed, like everyone else, not to believe their tale about the mind-controlling plant, but Kindulas could see she found the tale almost familiar, that she had heard hints of this before. And so it was true that she believed the tales of their exploits, and in return informed them that their friend was on a boat with green and red stitched sails, and that it was leaving for Aurixan in half an hour. It must be noted, however, that they also agreed to find for her a black book marked with a dragon’s claw and eye.

To make a long story short, a story including summoning a horse into a crowd, they missed the boat. But they were not defeated—in fact, this was likely a turn for the better, as they would not be boarding the boat within the watch of guards who viewed them as mass murderers. Instead, they returned to the flailing-armed Stan to purchase a ship. Short on gold, the party made a 2,500 gold down payment and sailed off in the Devil Ray after their beloved paladin.

Upon entering the merchant city of, Aurixan, where the only rule was ‘don’t impede business or anger the dragon,’ they docked just across from their target boat and quickly slaughtered half its guards, who promptly surrendered. The guards claimed that

a) Their paladin had been on their boat, but was taken to the city.
b) Please don’t kill us
c) They were not the first party to assault their boat; there was another group of a gnome, a dragonborn, and a human with waving arms who had previously assaulted them.
d) Please don’t kill us

Searching the ship, they discovered Mikal was indeed gone, but they did manage to discover a hidden mark on the back of one guard’s hand, who had been trying to scrape off that part of his skin. He explained that the mark was given to him by a dragon born with a certain dead appearance, specifically his uneven scales, though before he could say much more his throat was pierced by an arcane ray, the caster being another of the guards, who then promptly slew herself. None of the other guards had this mark. With an array of new mysteries to ponder, they were off to find Mikal within the justice-free city of the merchant dragon.

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A Reasonable Doubt

NO TIME TO CELEBRATE

Upon dispatching the mighty Zotec, the heroes staggered out of the facility and into a row of aimed bows. Jiselle had accordingly teleported out and ran for help—but got them arrested instead. After all, their story was fairly unbelievable, and flushing the metal drider didn’t help with proving its existence. Not to mention the fact that no one was willing to go back in and check after Mikal went on and on about the crazy monsters let loose. So ultimately, they were blamed for the mass slaughter of the staff—especially once the one survivor yelled and screamed that it was their fault, in an attempt to not sound crazy himself.

Despite their amazing, cookie munching lawyer (who got Rishi addicted to catnip) and a valiant escape attempt in which they opted not to kill anyone, the group found themselves at the gallows—the price for making it valiantly through an impossible situation.

As final words, Jade stated calmly that she had “deserted her ranks to avoid committing genocide, only to die for another man’s crimes.” The other three, clearly less at peace, went on to make various threats. Grey claimed that, as a shade, if they stuck him down he would become more powerful than they could possibly imagine, and Mikal swore that Olladra would invite misery upon them. Kindulas said he was heir to a powerful fey family, who would undoubtedly track down the origin of his death and take vengeance against his killers. It almost seemed to work, but the nooses tightened nonetheless, and the end had come.

Almost. An important looking woman walked up to the judge and whispered into her ear. After great deliberation and a near injured lip, the judge signaled for the hero’s release. Just then a vision entered the heroes’ eyes, a vision of the Eladrin Psion, who said simply that she couldn’t have them die yet.

Still exhausted, that night the party was visited by this vision of the Psion again, and were cordially invited to tea in the clearing depicted by their vision. Mikal was vehemently against the idea of going to her, and opted to purchase anti-scrying devices and run. Kindulas, never having dealt with as much stress in his entire life combined as in the last 72 hours, was running on a one track mind: she was offering him answers, maybe even a legitimate proposition. Jade decided that it was futile to run and that they best make a stand, and Grey decided to go along with the party. Mikal, outvoted, decided he would also stick with the group—they seem to have bonded from their harrowing exploits. Kind of.

Upon meeting with the Psion, or projected image thereof, she explained she wanted new test subjects, and summoned an array of monstrous humanoids, both escorts and examples of what was to be made of them. The Psion disappeared and the monsters closed in, but after hesitating, kidnapped only Mikal. Outrun, the group began checking tracks when they were approached in the wilderness by an attractive man who offered them each 10,000 gold to rescue their paladin.

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Through a Dark Laboratory (Epic Clear)

IN OVER THEIR HEADS

The heroes were on their way to the Laboratory Arcane when they encountered Halfling rouge. They were camped out one night when the rouge, Jade, attempted to swipe their gold—instead, though she nearly took Kindulas’s life, she was recruited to the group by Jiselle—though the rest of the party decided she would best be coerced into the group for no share in their gold. They had promised Jiselle enough as is.

When they arrived in the city of Heron’s Gate they wasted no time in getting to their destination. The gates of the Laboratory Arcane were impressive, but upon entering the establishment, the party found it surprisingly dark. And quiet. And littered with cloven corpses. But before they had noticed that little detail they were many paces into the entrance hall, and as the gates closed suddenly behind them, not even Jade could escape in time. Except Jiselle seemed to be gone. As they tried to figure out what was going on, a metallic voice rang through the hall, explaining that their doom was certain.

The only way was forward to the teleporter at the back of the hall, and one by one they went through; one way or another. They found themselves—predictably—inside an arcane research lab; one where their test subjects had run amuck. After a fierce battle with lizards and a drake made of lightning-charged blood, nearly getting their paladin baked in an oven, passing a staircase, finding epic magical explosives, an immensely powerful blasting wand, being kindly asked to die by the metallic voice “so that [it] may learn about life,” finding healing potions (one of which was contaminated), magical boomerang blades and 3 wands of wonder, the group was chased into a massive room by a huge demonic vulture which nearly took Kindulas’s spine if it weren’t for Jade’s heroics (making up for nearly killing him before), only to find themselves faced with a massive snake, upon whose head they dropped an acidic, gaseous chandelier, detonated said gas and then used a wand of wonder to drop an elephant on its head, only to have it grow back two more heads and prompt the party to run from the acidic protean hydra. Then they (like you, reading that sentence) were finally allowed to catch their breath.

They then found a dying elf who turned out to be the assistant enchanter. Pulling him back to a stabilized condition, they asked, first, for a way out. He mentioned a staircase, which was now out of the question considering what they had run from. However, he did explain that the metallic voice was a creature named Zotec, who had before been a mindless mining tool until it somehow acquired sentience and slaughtered the entire staff in an effort to discover the definition of life. The elf also explained that they were studying the essence of death, and under no circumstances were they to open the door marked by a Raven.

Taking heed to his advice, the group pressed on, avoiding the Raven door (though a certain mind crawler nearly made otherwise), the group entered the lair of Zotec. The door opened to a small—ten feet across—bridge over water, which after a short way led into a throne room of sorts. Upon the throne sat what appeared to be a massive metal golem, except its lower torso was that of a spider (still metallic, mind you). After dropping half the party and being only significantly damaged by Kindulas’ blasting wand and Grey’s ability to make it attack itself, Kindulas ran to its throne, from which it had moved significantly, and grabbed at one of the levers attached to the throne—switching off the lights. While this revealed by a fain glow that Zotec was charged with psionic energy, the real magic was when Rishi, Kindulas’ taking cat familiar, pulled another lever and gained control of the facilities water, dragging Zotec down under the bridge with a watery paw. Another lever was pulled by Jade, and the beast was flushed down into molten earth.

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Little Thorp of Horrors
It begins...

The heroes gathered together at the call of a local dwarf lord, hired for the task of defending Westdown, a rather pathetic village, from the bandit attacks they’d recently been suffering. The heroes struck out for Westdown forthwith and came upon its battered walls in a few spare days. There they found a rather cold welcome, the desperate villagers urging them to make haste away from the village walls and get about destroying the bandit camp. The heroes did as they were bade, striking out to the North and West, tracking their quarry to a clearing beside a small lake.

A lengthy discussion of tactics ensued which culminated in the Wizard using his Ghost Sound to set the ring of steel and cries of battle from a nearby tent – drawing several of the bandits inside. Upon drawing in their enemies the Wizard cast out a sphere of fire that blasted many of their foes to cinders. With shouts of fury and the screams of the charred battle was joined. However, after several furious seconds a woman charged out into the encampment – a tremendous blade resting on her shoulder. The leader of the camp she arrested the heroes in conversation – calling a halt to the sudden carnage.

The leader, Jiselle by name, corrected the mistaken impressions of the heroes that had sent them on their quest. She explained they were no bandits but rather Black Iron mercenaries and that they were attacking the village in order to liberate it of a malignant force, a strange plant that was dominating the minds of the villagers and spawning terrors to defend itself. Intent on investigating this the heroes returned to town, the Hexblade summoning his invisible servant to scour the walls of the city and report back in an hour.

However the minion had been within the walls no more than thirty seconds before an unearthly shriek arose from its throat, its master quickly feeling its destruction and dismissal from the material plane. Somehow the creature had instantly been detected and destroyed. This was enough to raise the villagers against the heroes and confirm the dark suspicions about the village’s abnormality. Fleeing from the town’s archers, who were firing with astonishing skill for such simple folk, the heroes ran for the hillsides whereupon they met the remaining Black Iron forces.

Joining with their former enemies the heroes split into two forces, striking the town from both directions. The Wizard helped force one door open while the Hexblade slid through the very wood in his phantasmal form and undid the bar from the other side. However, the Wizard had made himself vulnerable and was quickly driven near to death – saved only by the Paladin’s quick action and incredible defense. Under the combined forces of the heroes and their allies the tide soon turned against the town and the many strange plant-like minions inhabiting it. The monsters were destroyed and the villagers stricken unconscious.

But the struggle was not yet over. The Wizard’s familiar leaped from the Eladrin’s shoulders and stalked over to the village fountain – noticing a strange smell coming from it. The heroes and gathered Black Iron mercenaries hefted the fountain out of the ground, discovering a network of green tendrils coating every inch of a gaping tunnel beyond, sloping down into the earth. Upon casting magic missile at the darkness of the tunnel it struck a tendril covering one side of the tunnel’s walls… Red blood leaking from the ruptured vine. Another prod with a blade at one of the tendrils close at hand proved the same… Blood leaking out of the tendrils to seep into the tunnel floor.

Stirring on and down the tunnel the heroes eventually came upon a tremendous plant-creature whose roots and vines had spread out so terribly. However, after speaking with it the heroes learned there was yet more to this situation than met the eye. The creature claimed to be only three months old and to have been created and planted there by an Eladrin Psion with rich, flowing white hair down to her waist, entrancing multicolored eyes that whirl in an almost hypnotic pattern and one massive crab-like claw where her right fore-arm might once have been. It believed that it was this Psion’s plan for it to come into conflict with the villagers, the villagers seeking to destroy it and the plant protecting itself in the least violent way it knew how. It did not wish to kill anyone, and thus a subtle mind manipulation was the best option. However, it had been too gentle in its domination at first – some escaping its hold to run screaming of their peril to nearby towns where the Black Iron had first caught wind of the dilemma.

The heroes decided they could not kill the creature, prompting the Black Iron to reveal they had come for more than a good deed… They wished to take the plant’s seeds, using its power for their own ends to plant these creatures. The plant refused and the heroes turned against the Black Iron – though not before persuading Jiselle to break ranks with her comrades and fight alongside them.

After swiftly defeating the remaining Black Iron the heroes brokered a temporary agreement with Jiselle for her to accompany them and lend them her sword in exchange for thirty percent of the heroes’ spoils for as long as they would have her. With this agreement in tow the heroes set out for the Laboratory Arcane on the outskirts of Heron’s Gate – the domed city between the mountains that overlooks the Wavebreak Cliffs on the Aurianis Sea. As the official arm of the Spellcircle, the arcane caster guild of Turenevad, in matters of magical research – the Laboratory Arcane promised answers to how the situation could be resolved peacably between the incompatible factions of the plant and the villagers. With this as their goal the heroes set out for Heron’s Gate and the Laboratory Arcane.

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