Codex IX-Chapter 3

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The party journeyed through the voidgate system to come out at the gate just south of Hammerdine, where they had first met the gnomes all those years ago. None of the party let on that there were a massive number of control rods buried just nearby, although Orensland managed to stealth away for a moment to see if the ground there was still undisturbed. It was.

They were able to purchase horses at a nearby village, and while they toyed with the idea of going to visit Lord Hayward Yellman and his family, they decided that speed was more important. The party was able to contact Greygook through their stone of sending, and Greygook suggested they talk to Haalak when they arrived, as the elf had been instrumental in helping set up their bank accounts where they had stashed all of the money from the Maramos Coven. The elf could probably also arrange introductions with various officials in the city, as well connected as he was.

With horses, and with hard travel, the trip to Hammerdine was only a week and a half, although Tarnal got many an askance look at the inns they stayed in and on the road itself. The silver dragonborn didn’t hide his nature, openly riding in the sunlight with his gleaming silver scales visible, on a good day, for miles.

When they arrived in Hammerdine, the guards let them in, though not without some thorough vetting of Tarnal. The council had been correct, though, and his silver dragon nature made him more naturally trustworthy, and his story of being an ambassador for his people was, of course, largely true.

Haalak instantly dropped everything that he had going and passed his day-to-day operations for the Merchant House off to underlings. He invited the party to stay at his house as his guest, and they readily accepted. After a good night’s rest, and with Haalak’s assistance, they began approaching the different leaders and ambassadors. Colonel Abner recalled them and helped arrange a meeting with a member of the Hammerdine city council, Kelli Smythe, who in turn arranged introductions with the ambassadors from the Dwarven clans and the Tlerian Empire. Sanjin, with his papers marking him as a student of the University of Dreqorun, was easily able to gain an audience with the ambassador to the elves. Khaska sent word to Lord Minna Dalal of Laishtek, his own tribe, and asked that Ms. Smythe write to leaders of Gtarrei and Jevereshk to request Maha’i ambassadors. Orensland went to the skyship port and asked if any elders from the halfling and gnomish races might be willing to join the meeting when it was held, and his reputation as Orensland Shadowalker aided him immensely in speaking with various skyship captains and crew to find a way to contact people in the know.

At one point, while waiting to hear back from Councilwoman Smythe, Haalak approached Khaska with a pack of letters. “I notice that some of your old traveling companions are no longer with you. I have here a series of letters for Amara Paladilla from a young woman who lives to the south, and we have been holding them for Ms. Paladilla for some time now. I don’t know what has become of her, but perhaps you would know best how to get them to her, even if you no longer travel with her.”

Khaska took the letters. “Thank you. I will see what we can do.” Halaak bowed, and left.

With not a single twinge of guilt, Khaska opened the first letter (it wasn’t even sealed anyway) and began to read.

With little else to do, they waited. Tarnal and Glenmik met with the Knights of the Silver Dragons of Hammerdine and the various ambassadors, introducing themselves but forgoing any major explanation of the situation until all relevant parties could be assembled. Tarnal’s very presence made them perk up, and all were intrigued at this mysterious, if publicly announced, meeting to be held with ambassadors from all races and nations.

Khaska’s worry about a Maha’i presence was quickly assuaged. Within a few days of his magic letter sent to Lord Dalal a Maha’i woman teleported into the Hammerdine capitol building’s circle of teleportation, a member of the Order of Faris Attineen, royalty from the Shajran forest, and captain of a skyship known in all corners of the Maha’i race. She came with a handwritten note from Lord Dalal assuring that she would be a wise ambassador for all sects and tribes of the Maha’i. Nkadu nem Shajer would serve as the Maha’i ambassador. Once a suitable set of clan elders from the gnomes and halflings arrived at Hammerdine, a process that took several weeks, the meeting was set to begin.

Councilwoman Smythe was a deft negotiator, Khaska noted, with a keen eye for both fairness and pageantry. The meeting was held in one of the larger courtrooms, giving it an air of authority, and yet with enough space to make the arrangements equitable for all. The ambassadors from each race were given identical chairs, equally spaced apart, with a smaller chair behind them for just one assistant. Tarnal and Glenmik were given identical chairs, but were deliberately placed to the side—they were the petitioners, not on equal footing with the leaders from the Jenoan nations. A similar arrangement in the gallery was made for the party. Haalak had assigned them their own servant, a concierge of sorts, who had also helped to arrange for tailors and armorsmiths to help them look more the part. Khaska thought this wise, even if Aestus looked a little weird fully cleaned up, clean shaven, with a hair trim, and with brightly polished armor. Orensland’s cloak was newly washed and pressed, the leather armor oiled to glisten. Sanjin wore a simple robe of the University of Dreqorun, though perhaps of a quality above average. Khaska himself had his armor on, the symbol of Teresh prominently displayed on his chest and on a cloak gifted to him by a temple of Pelor in the city. The cleric had accepted the gift graciously, though wondered again at the experiences he had recently had with Bahamut worshippers, pondering whether perhaps his allegiance might someday switch.

When the ambassadors and representatives were assembled, including Dragonrider Reitman, most in fine clothing, Nkadu, along with the gnomish and halfling representatives less so, Councilwoman Smythe stood to begin their meeting.

“Thank you all for coming for a meeting that, I dare say, might change the fate of our world. I have the honor of formally introducing Tarnal Farun, a member of the Order of Saint Eosald, and an ambassador from the city of Spherius, on Arkenos.”

Tarnal stood to walk to the center of the room, all eyes on him, the very center of gravity and focus seeming to bend towards this well-muscled silver dragonborn. He bowed deeply.

“On behalf of the council of Spherius, I bring greetings from your allies on the Dark Moon. It is fortuitous that this opportunity has come before the convergence, or the Dark Times, as you call it. It is the hope of myself, Councilman Glenmik” he indicated his gnomish companion, “and indeed all of our citizens that we can come to a peaceable arrangement.”

“I will explain our situation briefly. For reasons even our most prodigious and wise arcane masters cannot explain, Arkenos is slowly being pulled into the nine hells. Even now, on part of the moon, the River Styx flows. We in the city of Spherius are the only bastion of freedom, a lone light in the devilish darkness, a place dedicated to all those opposed to Baltham, the Amnizu devil who commands the forces of Arkenos. It had been the plan of the council that, when the convergence occurred, we would try to emigrate en masse to Jenoa, returning the descendants of many slaves captured in previous convergences, as well as those of the other races, such as my own, who do not wish to be pulled into the nine hells.”

He indicated the party. “These fine adventurers from your moon, Khaska, Aestus, Sanjin, and Orensland, have discovered a means of magical teleportation between the moons. In short, instead of a haphazard mass emigration during a war, we have the opportunity to return your lost cousins to you in a more systematized and orderly way before the convergence. This will strengthen your armies, bolster your defenses, and further your cause when Baltham comes for you as he has in the previous Dark Times. We humbly request asylum, with a pledge that we will fight alongside you in the Dark Times.”

There were, of course, many questions. Tarnal answered questions about the Arkenosian history in the past 1,000 years, deferred questions about the magical transportation system to the party (who demurred to answer specifics aside from the fact that it would be a trickle of refugees, not a massive influx).

Nkadu stood up to speak at one point, and Councilwoman Smythe recognized her. “The ambassador from the Maha’i,” Smythe said.

“I can state with certainty that my people will accept any Maha’i refugees from Arkenos. My life’s work has been to free Maha’i slaves in the Deadlands, and this is no different.” She then looked at each ambassador in turn. “It would be dishonorable of you to turn your back on refugees, especially of your own races.” She turned to Tarnal. “That does leave the issue of your race,” she said. “There are no dragonborn on this moon, and you would be homeless, with no nation to claim you. The fate of these dragonborn refugees are rightly to be discussed here amongst this august assembly, but I can also pledge that we would be willing to take our ‘fair share’ of them amongst our people, if such an arrangement is the will of the nations.”

Tarnal cleared his throat. “I thank you for your words, Ambassador Nkadu, but I must correct one point. There will be no Maha’i refugees from Arkenos. All of the Maha’i that lived in Spherius are, unfortunately, dead.” He explained the situation and the apparent binding of Baltham’s forces, and then introduced Khaska as General Khaska, the supreme commander of the forces of Spherius.

Nkadu’s face went through a litany of emotions, from sheer sadness, to rage, to confusion, to exasperation.

“I have been here for a week, and this wasn’t explained before?”

“We thought it prudent to tell all of our details before the entire council, so as not to be seen playing favorites,” Tarnal said. “Forgive any offense this has caused, but I stand by our reasoning.”

“Understandable, but what if Khaska had died? If there are no Maha’i on your moon, you have a very slender thread separating your city from the armies of this Baltham.” She stood straight. “My skyship crew will be here within a few days, all members of the Order of Faris Attineen. We will volunteer to come to Spherius and to lead your armies, as Khaska now does. A single cleric should not be all that stands between you and an attack. With more Maha’i, there can be many thread woven together to defend you. A rope woven together of many strands is not as easily broken as a single knitting string.”

Khaska was a bit taken aback by this, but Nkadu made much sense. Surely there would be other Maha’i willing to take positions of authority in the Spherian military.

“We would not want to interfere with your own internal deliberations,” the elven ambassador chimed in. “The make-up of your military is for you to decide. But you have mentioned something that deeply concerns me. You say that all of the Maha’i in Spherius have died. How did they die? If indeed having a Maha’i military leader is paramount to the city’s defenses, how have they all perished? Are there agents of Baltham within your city? Can you guarantee that there are no agents among the refugees you are now proposing we all take into our societies?”

Tarnal sighed. “I can not. And there is also the matter we have only briefly touched on, that a large portion of our society are tieflings. I assume that, like the dragonborn, they would not have a nation here to easily emigrate to, and, like many dragonborn, their very appearance will be met with distrust and suspicion.” He licked his lips. “There are no easy answers to these conundrums. Saint Eosald himself was a tiefling, and he initiated the rebellion against Baltham that freed our city, showing that even those whose appearance is affected by devilish ancestry are free to choose their own path. Many of you judge well of me because I have silver scales, and the Knights” he nodded at Rider Reitman, “have named themselves for the species of dragon most akin to me. But I have met even gold dragonborn that I would not trust to hold my purse, and I have stood in battle with tieflings, or chromatic dragonborn, and had my life preserved and saved by their heroism. This council has an opportunity to set an example to the world. I pray to all the noble gods that it chooses to set a good one, an example informed by stories like that of Saint Eosald, who led the revolt against Baltham, and was tortured to death for it.”

The negotiations went on for several days. In the end, it was agreed that transportation could begin for some refugees from the human, dwarven, elvish, gnomish, and halfling races. The dragonborn and tieflings presented more of a problem, but for now evacuation of Spherius could commence, though slowly. Everybody wanted to avoid a huge rush of refugees as much as possible.

It was left to Tarnal and the party, who were all keeping the secrets of the voidgates, how best to facilitate this beginning. This secrecy was seen as a sensible precaution given that nobody wanted to begin the Dark Times early, although there were hints that this arrangement was only acceptable for now and might be revisited in the future.

Eryx (DM)
To sum up:

1. Captain Nkadu and her skyship crew have volunteered to travel to Spherius to lend military aid to the city. This has the benefit of increasing the “command structure,” so to speak, of the Maha’i for the city.
2. Each of the listed races—human, dwarven, elven, halfling, and gnome—are prepared to begin to accept refugees. How to accomplish this is being left to those that control the ability to transport between moons. Everybody is cognizant of the possibility of beginning the Dark Times early. Enough people in Hammerdine have vouched for your trustworthiness that this is acceptable. For now.
3. You received a pack of letters for Amara from Kyria Yellman. The most recent is only dated 9 months ago.

Did I miss anything that was supposed to happen in this write-up?

The major questions I have, and we were going to get to this sooner or later, is that control of the voidgate system will probably have to be shared at some point (freeing you to continue to investigate the Cult and other things that still must be assessed before the Dark Times begin). How, for now, would you like to get Captain Nkadu and her crew to Spherius, and how, for now, would you like to begin bringing through refugees from Spherius?

Crosis
I'll write more later, but one thing we would need to discuss is how to make the knowledge of the existence of metallic dragons more widespread. We discussed a public display at one point - we'd want more input on that from the leaders at this council.

Eryx (DM)
One very important thing that I forgot to mention. With the introduction of Tarnal to these ambassadors you have now earned enough XP that you are all now level 13.

I've also taken the liberty of updating the Quests page. I would appreciate it if you all looked it over to add anything you would like to that page as well.

Thev
Oh, exciting! So much is happening!

Arkenos and Voidgates:

  • Khaska had idly considered that bringing more Maha'i to Arkenos would be a good idea. He's just so accustomed to vigorously guarding the secrets of the voidgates that he wasn't expecting the suggestion to come so strongly and so fast (and yes, that's exactly how Nkadu would propose it - well done!). He thinks it would be a good idea to follow Nkadu's plan for Maha'i warriors to go to Arkenos to protect Spherius (and provide insurance against a disastrous single assassination). Besides, they're almost certainly more qualified, martially, than Khaska!
    • Khaska also vaguely entertained the idea of the Maha'i as potential guardians of the voidgate system, and, well, here that dropped right into his lap: a trained squad of warriors volunteering for that duty! Beyond bringing Nkadu's crew to Arkenos, maybe they could be these guardians: caring for the extra control rods, guarding the pocket dimension, and carrying out the evacuation. He would be willing to fill her in on the details, and entrust her to share only what is needed. Perhaps no single crewmember would know everything about how the voidgates work… (Which would require them to bear a couple control rods, but… yeah, our party alone couldn't carry out an evacuation. Speaking of the control rods, perhaps we could refill them without the refillers knowing what they're doing by, say, having them cast spells at the rods through a curtain. If that would work.)
    • Oh. They'd also have to warn them, um, never to open the voidgate to the Unhallow of Tiamat. Not anytime soon.
    • Maybe not to the Fortress, either - not until we can figure out what's going on with the dragon alarms.
    • On a cultural note, Nkadu is the first Gtarrei-affiliated Maha'i that Khaska's ever met (and he, at least, had never heard of her - the farther west, the less likely). Before her (and any of her retinue), he's only met folks affiliated with Jevereshk or Laishtek, or ex-slaves (Farah and Jake). He'd be somewhat surprised by her boldness and manner at first, and knows the folks back in Jevereshk wouldn't really be happy about Gtarrei representing their people to Arkenos… but he figures that Nkadu is trustworthy and this can be an olive branch between the factions. He would ask Nkadu whether she'd consider taking in any crewmembers from Jevereshk.
  • Speaking of the evacuation… we could see about setting up receiving camps around several of the main voidgates, perhaps in Dreqorun, the Niktean Wastes, and across the bay from Sethrayin (perhaps building naturalistic-looking structures to hide the gates themselves from sight, as well as putting wards in place to prevent scrying). To help defend against any untrustworthy parties learning about the voidgates' secrets, Khaska would recommend that evacuees be blindfolded at least before entering the voidgate room in Spherius and remain so until exiting the voidgate shelter on the Jenoa side. It's weird, but it could provide some protection.
  • Khaska understands the caution regarding the tieflings and the dragonborn, but doesn't necessarily condone the hesitation. There are a number of voidgates in relatively uninhabited areas, like the three in Thanor, the one in Sudloc, the one on the island with the water elemental, and the one on the southern island. Perhaps they'd be interested in one of those places, or perhaps we could move a voidgate to a better location once the ley lines are mapped? Maybe they'd be interested in Trik'Brin, where once dragon sages lived…
    • There was that island with the gnolls, too — we should probably contact them sometime, as they've got a voidgate in their backyard. See what's up with them.

Other Things:

  • One probably quick quest would be to return to Rhun to resurrect Harrison, as he can do that now! And do it without spending months in transit!
  • Khaska feels awful to hear about Kyria Yellman's situation, though he is grateful that the party didn't get ensnared there on the way to the conference, and he knows that, well, it was Amara's choice that set the unfortunate sequence in motion. Having his experience with his young woman student in Cyriest compounds the pangs, and he'd like to intervene. He'd consult with the party on what to do; perhaps we could scry on the situation and then Teleport in with a surprise attack on Adria - or an arrest, or a Teleport-kidnapping to strand her on some distant island…
  • We should contact the Knights' wizard who went to investigate the anti-dragon wards.
  • We still need to research how to prevent Arkenos from descending into the Nine Hells. Eryx mentions that Greygook won't need to ferry us around as much, what with the Teleportation spell under Sanjin's belt — would he be interested in helping us learn about that? He could also help us figure out all the Jenoa ley lines, prepping for potentially moving voidgates (now that we know it can be done!).
  • Orensland makes a good point about the metallic dragons. We should certainly discuss that with the council - but probably after we check in with the Knights' wizard. (Might that communication be something we could write in as having happened in the weeks after our return to Jenoa?)

Eryx (DM)
Easily enough retconned that you have contacted the Knight's wizard. Even traveled to Sethrayin to speak with him and teleported back to Hammerdine. (Sanjin would know the sigil sequence for Circles of Teleportation in both cities now.) Also, I've made an edit to the Map of Jenoa page indicating which locations Sanjin has the sigil sequences for.

By now he would have studied enough of the history of the wards that he can confirm that they were put in place around 52DT.350, around the time the Knights began enslaving the chromatic dragons with the help of the Orbs of Dragonkind created by Melchor Rivengol. From what you know of the timeline from Thakillestra the Gold, this was well after the dragons began to disappear. There was an incident in 52DT.346 where a pack of demons attacked a minor Knight's chapterhouse on the Death Side. This led to the wards being placed as security measures … even though the wards themselves do not target fiends. It looks like the demon attack was used as an excuse to place the anti-dragon wards in place.

He has also studied them enough that he can confirm they both warn the local Knights about a draconic intrusion and send a magical message somewhere to alert … someone. Sanjin had discovered this as well, but despite this wizard's study, there is simply no way to know who (or what) is on the other end of that Message spell. He can confirm that the spell merely conveys which ward has been triggered, because the Message sent is the name of the city the chapterhouse is in. These wards only exist in major chapterhouses. Lesser outposts of the Knights are not warded so heavily.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin doesn't understand why the counsel would be hesitant to allow Tieflings and Dragonborn to come to Jenoa (racist nonsense if you ask him). He is also a little surprized that those coming from Arkenos wouldn't want to remain one people, it seems to him they would have more in common with each other then with their "own race" here. Whatever!

Eryx (DM)
Racist nonsense indeed, but Sanjin would be aware of such sentiments in the world. He is, after all, an elf, and since elves routinely live lives that outlast generations of humans, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, and Maha'i, he's aware that of all the races that might exhibit "hoity-toity" racism, it would be the elves.

You bring up a good point about the people of Spherius wanting to remain a single people, but (a) this is just an initial phase of the migration to Jenoa and (b) nobody on Jenoa is prepared to simply just absorb the entire population of Spherius (it's quite a large city). Dividing things up, for now, by race seemed logical enough both logistically and practically sensible. But who knows what the world politics will be like in a hundred years after this major influx of culturally different refugees across the moon? (Assuming you all survive the Dark Times, of course. :) )

Thev
As for what quest to pursue next… Khaska would like to hop over to Rhun to resurrect Harrison, as it probably won't take very long. Of course, he'd want to contact Amelia and Bronzebeard first, to make them aware of his ability to perform the resurrection now.

After that, he'd want to investigate Yellman's lands and see if we can rescue Kyria (and however many others we can). The first step would be to scry on the situation (Kyria and Adria; perhaps even the brother) — after that, we'd have a better idea of what we might be up against and what we might need to do.

Crosis
Woot on being level 13!

I also vote on going to Rhun next - time to put Orensland's guilt to rest. Though he probably wouldn't actually apologize to Harrison - more of a "hey, you were being quite the jerk at the time" kind of response if Harrison confronts him directly about it. While there, we should update Bronzebeard on… everything… and try to set up a meeting with dragons from Arkenos.

We should screen everybody who goes through the voidgate with a zone of truth, including the Maha'i. We may catch a few spies in that process. I also approve of the blindfolding process - it'll be slower, but better safe than sorry!

Afterwards, sure! Let's go save the day in the Kyria part of the world. :)

Musha
Point of clarification: The incident where a chapterhouse was attacked for the wards to be placed.. was it demons or devils? If demons, why on earth would they be interested in sabotaging the chapterhouses? What history exists between demons and dragons? If devils, we already have the answers to those questions. lol.

So I'm wondering if we're just going to allow Arkenos to be swallowed up into the hells. Is that not something we're going to try to stop? Sure, Aestus knows absolutely nothing of such things, but surely a sage at the council, or maybe even Sanjin, might know enough about astronomy to know that if Arkenos just vanishes, the orbit or Jenoa could be horribly affected. Or, what if whatever is affecting Arkenos comes after Jenoa next? Isn't that something we should at least look into? What do you all think? Are we going to go forward with the evacuation? Or are we going to try to save Arkenos so an evacuation isn't even necessary? Or are we going to evacuate them, THEN save the moon, and whoever wants to go back can? Or are we just going to ignore Arkenos from here on out?

Also, I thought that we were considering clearing the floating tardis-island for the denizens of Spherius to move into, even temporarily. Don't the two places resemble each other? Or am I mis-remembering?

As far as the next quest goes, it sounds like Aestus' friends owe quite a tremendous debt to this Harrison and agrees that that definitely should not be delayed any further. Let's restore what was taken immediately.

I also seem to remember that Thakillestra asked us to discover what happened to her son..? At this point, do we know that Kyllanuri is that son? If so, Aestus is VERY eager to update her and let her know that her son is alive and well. Heck, even if we don't know that Kyllanuri is her son, Aestus wants to update her on everything since they met and let her know that her mate's sacrifice certainly wasn't made in vain.

Top priority, of course, is saving the world(s). But if we find time to indulge in our own personal matters, Aestus wants to track down the Fell Clan and see if he can discover where he was taken from and/or if they know anything about his sister. And, you know… maybe wipe them all out while he's there.

Eryx (DM)
It's pretty obvious that the "incident" with the "demons" was used as a ruse to put anti-dragon wards in place.

Thakillestra did generally want to know about any survivors, including her family, but was vague about it. Kylannuri is her son, but in Spherius he's never even taken his dragon form, appearing as a gold dragonborn, and I would actually say that your characters would not know about their relationship. Khaska would be aware enough to note some tension between him and Yvoren. In any event, sending a Message spell to Thakillestra would be easy enough (even if she will not reply).

Heck, given that Sanjin can learn teleport, even just popping over for a personal visit would be pretty easy.

You were considering moving people into the floating tardis-island if necessary, but this council of ambassadors has come to an arrangement that seems better.

Khaska, Nkadu, Tarnal, and Glenmik discussed Nkadu's offer of military aid to Spherius, which both Tarnal and Glenmik readily accepted. Khaska was, frankly, relieved. And members of the Order of Faris Attineen would have more military experience than he, in any event! With their skyship, the Janahbari, which by now had arrived, they could also facilitate the beginnings of the refugee resettlement. It was an ideal turn of events.

This also had the side effect of freeing up Khaska to continue their quests on Jenoa. There were many threads and plots remaining to be uncovered, and he was grateful for their assistance.

There was one point of tension between them. Orensland suggested that Nkadu and her crew spend some time in a Zone of Truth to make sure there were no untoward members amongst them. They were all deeply offended at the suggestion, and as a compromise, Nkadu, as their captain and leader, swore they were all trustworthy while in a Zone. Even this concession created tension, and Nkadu and her crew obviously thought a little less of Khaska and the others at this request.

Nonetheless, preparations were made, and the Janahbari, which was quite a large skyship, departed after resupplying. They decided that the voidgate just to the south of Hammerdine would be best to begin. It was the closest, and had the benefit of being just a few days’ travel from the Yellman lands. The party could investigate the situation closely after getting Nkadu and her crew started.

Along the way, Khaska realized that his connection to Teresh had grown stronger and he finally had the religious knowledge to resurrect Harrison. He contacted Amelia (and through her, Captain Bronzebeard), to inform them. It would take the Ruvalk several weeks to reach Rhun, but they immediately turned towards that village on Clearwater Lake. Even knowing that Bronzebeard would not respond, Khaska sent him a few messages informing him the broad strokes of the situation with Spherius and the metallics on Arkenos. Through Amelia, he responded with abject joy, but suggested they talk further in person.

Orensland used his crystal ball to scry on Adria Yellman. He tried as often as he could, but was never successful. Scrying on Kyria was more successful, and he was able to get glimpses of the young woman’s life, boring as it was. It seemed she spent most of her time in her room, only occasionally venturing out to speak with Adria or some of the servants, and her conversations with Adria were almost unbearably weird in her devotion to her step-mother/sister-in-law. The situation did not seem to be changed from when the last letter had been sent.

When the ship arrived at the ruins and the voidgate, Nkadu and her warriors were prepared and ready. “I will investigate the area,” Nkadu said, “to make sure we are alone.” With a small pulse of nature magic, she changed from the Maha’i woman they had come to know so well over the past week or so into an eagle, and went soaring around the ruins. Khaska was taken aback at this ability of hers.

“She has a strong connection to nature,” he said to her first officer. “It is the way of her people. They learn such magics from a young age. It was only as she matured that she journeyed afar to study with the Order. She brings the best of both worlds to her work.”

“You are blessed to have her as your leader,” Khaska said.

She returned a while later, alighting on the deck and returning to her Maha’i form. “There are remnants of some campsites, but none that have been used recently. We are alone here, and may proceed.”

They had informed her as to the nature of the voidgate system, only sharing with her the secrets of the control rods. Orensland retrieved an extra one from the nearby buried stash (which was still intact). These members of the Order of Faris Attineen were thus introduced to the voidgates, though only Nkadu knew how to operate it. They gave a tour of the voidgate system and emphasized that it should only be used for transporting refugees, and that several of the gates led to places that would bring the attention of their enemies upon them. Orensland and Sanjin all but wanted to put up a “DO NOT ENTER” sign on the one to what they were calling the Unhallow of Tiamat, but Nkadu assured them that would not be necessary. They would only ever open the gate to Spherius and the one to the ruins where their skyship was parked. The party was relieved that the voidgate system was now protected by a number of paladins sworn to defend it with their lives and keep its secrets from falling into the wrong hands.

It was time for introductions. They opened the gate to Spherius, and Tarnal and Glenmik entered first, followed by the party, and then by Nkadu and her first officer. Sanjin stayed behind to operate the voidgate from the other side—their rule that control rods not stay on Spherius still one to adhere to.

Nkadu was in absolute awe at meeting Yvoren. The silver dragon thought their idea of bringing more Maha’i “inspired,” and immediately swore her in as the leader of their military forces. Khaska was surprised, but he tried not to show it. After a moment’s reflection, he was grateful that he would no longer be expected to provide military leadership, and noted that it seemed Supreme Commanders came and went quickly. The party wished Nkadu well, helped Tarnal and Glenmik report on the negotiations, and then left Spherius at the appointed hour as Sanjin re-opened the voidgate from within the network. Nkadu left her first officer behind (he having also been sworn in in as a military leader for the city), to report back to her crew and begin preparations for their more permanent vigil over the voidgates and the initial refugee resettlements.

As they walked away from the skyship and the voidgate, Orensland piped up. “To Hillsdale, then?” asked Orensland. It had been over two years since they had been there, mere weeks after they had first met. Sanjin and Aestus had never even been. It had been such a different group all those years ago—Jenika, Rynn, and Amara with them.

“To Hillsdale,” said Khaska. “I am much intrigued by the mystery intimated by Kyria’s letters. We should help, if we can.”

“And then I can teleport us to Rhun,” Sanjin said. “There’s some chance of mishap in the spell, but we have a few weeks to get it right. Amelia did want to be there when Harrison was resurrected, and he ain’t going anywhere.”

“So what, we just going to march into town here and present ourselves?” asked Aestus.

“Perhaps I could do some scouting,” Orensland said. “Assess what I can before we head into the situation.”

Eryx (DM)
How would you all like to approach Hillsdale and this situation with Lady Adria (who you are never able to scry on) and her step-daughter, Kyria? I should not as I was prepping this part of the adventure I realized I had to make some minor corrections in the letters. Here they are again.

The second to last one has been changed. The folks of Hillsdale aren’t all just zombie-like pod-people, but they are all completely infatuated with Lady Kyria.

You have some time to think about it, Hillsdale is about a days journey. You were able to bring your horses on the skyship.

Crosis
So… just throwing this out there… Adria has (probably magical) charm, possibly related to seduction. She's running her own little fiefdom outside of the public eye and has anti-magic scrying of some kind applied. Sounds like a succubus in hiding to me… which fits the profile for Urziana. I vote we go in prepared for her to be a succubus, even if she's not Urziana specifically. It sounds like she has the whole town in her thrall, so any confrontation would need to be out of the public eye, and we should guard against being charmed.

Thoughts?

Thev
Well! A potential Urziana! That definitely gets Khaska's ears to prick: this could be what he's been searching and preparing for. Hyrmaphridion mentioned that striking down Urziana with Kvanir would break Tawru's contract, freeing his soul; he doesn't want to botch this potential opportunity.

As a player, I'll admit my ignorance about how to dispel a charmed effect (which we might well need to do), as well as how to protect against getting charmed. (It looks like Khaska does have Calm Emotions, but it only lasts for a minute.) What means do we, as a party, have to defend ourselves, as well as to sneak in undetected? Can a succubus see through a Hat of Disguise? …Could Orensland sneak up and assassinate her with Kvanir (haha)?

Eryx (DM)
Correction: Hyrmaphridion and Thakillestra said that killing Urziana with Kvanir would heal the sword, not Tawru. The sword's corruption was a by-product of Tawru's deal, but he entered into it with full knowledge. Such deals can only be undone by getting the devil who holds the contract to agree to release it. Usually in exchange for some deal the devil believes is a better one.

Charmed is a condition. Here are the rules for it.

You have read the entire Codex Demonicus entries on succubi and incubi when you perused the library of the Maramos Coven. You would know everything from the Monster Manual about succubi and incubi.

As far as tactics against a succubus' charm ability, anything that increases wisdom saves would be of use, but there's no way to completely block it. Bless is the only thing that springs to mind. Maybe Heroe's Feast. Enhance Ability and Guidance don't help with saving throws.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin would point out that charming an entire town would be well beyond a normal succubus' ability. So either this is a particuly powerful being, she has help, or something else is at work here.

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