Codex VIII-Chapter 6

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In conversation with the Knights about their next steps (taking precautions to make sure their deliberations could not be magically scryed upon), the group decided that it would be best to go consult with Thakillestra the Gold in Twilight. It would be nearly two months of travel on a skyship to get there, but then Sanjin happened upon an idea. The wizard professor who had been casting Magnificent Mansion for them to sleep every night since the assassination attempt could also cast Teleport. It would be easy enough for him to teleport them to Twilight, saving them months of travel. There was also a Teleportation Circle in the basement of the Knight’s chapterhouse, and Sanjin could just transport them back when they were done. Then it would be easy to hop across the bay to the nearest voidgate.

It was decided. Khaska managed to contact Nir again using his divine magic, and the wizard was able to scry on the goblin chieftain to better able to cast the spell. Nir was outside the city walls to avoid any mishaps when the teleport spell was used.

The wizard cast the spell at the university, and the arcane words seemed to skitter across their very skins. Aestus was unnerved (despite his recent conversion to being at least moderately open to divine magic in his new paladin status), but didn’t have much time to think before darkness took him. It had been evening in Sethrayin, but when they arrived in Twilight it was late morning. The sun was well over the horizon and the city was bustling with activity.

And bustling it was. The ramshackle buildings and makeshift barricades were gone, replaced in the intervening year and a half with much better architecture. The city had expanded, the streets were no longer filthy with the mud and muck of too many people living on top of each other. Humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and even goblins walked amongst each other freely, although there did seem to be an area of the city just for goblins on its outskirts, where the trees had been cut down to give the town more defensive capability during the chaos caused by Kagu the Cunning while he was under the influence of the corrupted Kvanir. Khaska, Orensland, and Sanjin were quite impressed. The city had changed a lot since they had left it, and all for the better.

“Nice, eh?” came a high-pitched voice. Nir was standing nearby, dressed smartly in nice pants, a good pair of work boots, a white shirt, and a vest. “Things have gone much better here, thanks to you! I’m in charge of all the goblin tribes now, and my goblins work the mines and do construction work, we get paid well, but not more than dwarves and others, which frees up money and work for other parts of the economy, which in turn helps the town grow and prosper. Things have never been better for Twilight.”

Khaska was overjoyed at the success of their adventures so many months ago. They had come seeking just the sword, but the repercussions of that quest rippled long and complete to aid this little community on the Edge.

“But come,” the goblin said. “You want to talk to Mirwen. I understand, not much time for your friend Councilman Nir. Got big important things to do with the innkeeper!” It took Khaska a moment to realize the goblin was good-naturedly ribbing them.

He led them through the city, where people were friendly to him. Many tipped their hat to him, calling him “Councilman,” and he waved and spoke to a few people in brief as they passed. The came to the Night Owl, where the breakfast rush had just ended and several staff were cleaning up the tables and chairs, all of which were new and which were well-treated and of a high quality of woodwork.

Mirwen was sitting at one of those tables, speaking with a pair of dwarves who she dismissed when the party arrived. “We’ll finish this later,” she said, “come back this afternoon.”

“Come,” she said, standing up and leaning on her cane, “please, sit. Welcome back to Twilight. I hope you are pleased with the progress we have made as a town since you left, especially since you are largely responsible for our good fortunes.” She turned to Aestus. “And I see you have a new traveling companion.” She glanced behind them. “Rynn no longer travels with you?”

Khaska swallowed, unable to speak, overwhelmed by this moment.

Sanjin, however, had no such compunctions, supremely satisfied in this moment. He had journeyed the world over to find ancient secrets and forgotten lore, and now he stood before one of the most famous dragons in their moon’s history, who was in hiding. “Rynn has found his wife in the marshes, and he continues his adventures with her. Jenika found an old enemy and captured her, wishing to return her to the rightful authorities. May I present Aestus, known as the Fellblade, an initiate of the Knights of the Silver Dragons, and our good friend.”

Eryx (DM)
Congratulations, you are all now level 12. In talking with Musha, he decided that this would be an opportune moment to take his first level of paladin. Aestus Fellblade is now an initiate paladin of the Knights of the Silver dragons—a sort of introductory level paladin sussing out if the path is right for him. He has not made any commitment to the order that prevents him from playing his character as he wants to. (He is not bound to follow their orders, in other words.)

Until such time as Sanjin can cast spells like Teleport on his own, I haven’t had much real opportunity to bother even thinking about them, but I figured that with the resources of the Knights and their allies in this major city, you could find a wizard to teleport you to Twilight. Sanjin can cast Teleportation Circle already (and would have access to that spell from the pilfered spellbooks from the Maramos coven’s library). That spell description does say “When you first gain the ability to cast this spell, you learn the sigil sequences for two destinations on the Material Plane, determined by the GM.” I will say that Sanjin has learned the teleportation sigils for Fort Windhaven and Dreqorun when he first learned the spell—specifically the University he studied at and one of their satellite outposts for students like him. He now also knows the sigil for Sethrayin, which is located in the basement of the Knight’s chapterhouse behind lock and key. As you travel to other major cities, you may have opportunity to learn other sigils to facilitate teleportation.

Which is all a long way of saying that you have now arrived in Twilight, teleported there as a one-time boon from the Tlerian Empire. You can easily return to Sethrayin at your convenience, where the Randale is parked and ready for further adventures.

You are in Mirwen’s inn, and she has invited you all to sit down and chat. What would you ask of Thakillestra the Gold, this most famous of golden dragons, who stands before you now in disguise? (And who, Sanjin would strongly suspect, will quickly figure out that you know what she is.)

Thev
Congratulations, Aestus! That's really neat, and some very good character development!

And thank you, Eryx, for the ruling on the teleportation spells! And to Sanjin for knowing how to cast such spells! (The one-way travel time was a concern, haha.) It's really cool to think that those sigils, once gathered, will enable the party to hop across the moon.

As for the conversation with Mirwen/Thakillestra — I assume that we've blocked scrying here? The Amulets of Nondetection mean we cannot by scryed upon? Once we're secure, here are some things Khaska would be interested in saying/discussing:

  • Asking about the status of Twilight now — it seems to be doing much better, but he'd still want to hear her evaluation of the situation. And complimenting her on whatever work she's done to help the transition.
  • Brief outline of the party's journeys since leaving Twilight.
    • Darkcrest
    • Storm giant seer and counsel to "unite the metallics"
    • Zyrbryxion Marshes and the many chromatic dragons there
    • Dragons' Graveyard (as she knows already), where Hyrmaphridion told us the storm giant's wife went to…
    • Sethrayin and the Cathedral of Thakillestra
  • "We do have some reason to believe that there are still metallic dragons on the moon, and that we have encountered some of them in our travels."
    • "We wished to ask if you had any information about the storm giant's wife and her fate, as well as what his words about uniting the metallic dragons might mean. Hyrmaphridion explained that we might seek more information from the draconic sages at Trik'Brin, but we were curious if you, experienced in lore, might know something."
  • Inform her of the existence of the voidgate network, ask if she knows anything about it.
  • Depending on her receptivity of the party's awareness of her identity, Khaska would bring up sorrow at having heard about her mate Jiveneit's demise, long ago though it was.
  • If there's a private moment, ask her about his conversations with Volterra about the worship of Bahamut.
  • Ask if there is anything with which we can assist her or Twilight while the party is present.

Crosis
Congratulations Aestus, and thank you for that comprehensive write-up Thev! I think you hit all the points I can remember… plus some that I definitely forgot about, like the draconic sages at Trik'Brin. I really only have a couple clarifications:

  • In regards to the voidgate system, I would like to specifically ask if she knows very much about the people that live on Arkenos. We have traditions and lore on the subject, but Mirwen as the most long-lived of us may have more reliable details than what is considered "common knowledge." Would Arkenos have metallic dragons on their side?
  • About the Cult's activity in the marshes, Orensland would try to outline everything we have heard about their plans, including their preparation for the "Dedication" event. He'd also point out that there seem to be more black dragons than others in the marshes - for all we know she may have known Zyrbryxion personally.
  • When we outline that we have reason to believe there are other metallic dragons on the moon, I'd be specific about which ones and why we suspect them of greater strength than your average mortal. I can't seem to find the list I wrote out later, but they would include Captain Bronzebeard, Elial, and Akle. I believe the first two relate to the list of dragons Sanjin "remembered" in Chapter 3. And Mirwen, of course. Hopefully she's willing to be forthcoming about the fact that we know exactly who she is.
  • When asking about the storm giant's mate, I'd point out that we are also interested in the knowledge she was seeking - namely, why the metallic dragons were dwindling.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin is most intrested to know about the metallic dragons decline, if there are more metalic dragons on the moon (other then the ones they already know about), and why they have choosen to reamin in hiding (as opposed to working with the Knights).

Musha
Thanks guys! Joining the Knights is an exciting prospect for me!

I support all the talking points listed above!

Aestus, in his candid manner, will attempt to reassure any potential concerns that Thakillestra may have about us knowing her identity by telling her that even under torture or threat of death, her secret is safe with us.

In addition to the above, Aestus will inquire

  • What role did she play during the last Dark Times?
  • What notable heroic or noble deeds did she accomplish?
  • Did she ever run into or did she know of the Great Tawru One-Horn?
  • What does she think of the Knights of the Silver Dragons? If she answers anything positive, his chest will swell with pride.
  • Does she know of any other metallic dragons that are still alive? In hiding or not?

“It has been many years since any of the Knights graced the town with their presence. I have fond memories of Sir Treewind and those that stayed with him at their monastery nearby. You are welcome here, Aestus.”

“Thank you, my lady,” he said, inclining his head. Khaska looked him over. He had washed his face and hair, which was neatly brushed and pulled back into a neat ponytail. Khaska was unclear if Aestus has spruced himself up because he would be meeting Thakillestra herself, or if he was trying to be more presentable as a Knight initiate. Either way, it suited him. “I hope to follow in the footsteps of Sir Treewind and the others that have gone before me.”

“The Dark Times will be upon us soon,” she said. “You will be called upon to follow in the footsteps of Markus, fighting the devils of Arkenos, more than Treewind, who spent his days in meditation and prayer.”

“I do consider myself a man of action,” he replied.

“I’m sure war will find you soon enough,” she said. “You need not seek it out.”

“It will find me prepared,” he said.

“Let us hope it finds us all prepared,” she said, sighing.

“Speaking of preparations,” Khaska said, changing the subject, “how fares Twilight. Much better, it seems, than we last left it.

“We are thriving in ways we have not since I arrived. The goblins are a good workforce, and with so few others needing to work the mines and even some of the farms, there is much more opportunity for economic growth. There was some grumbling at first from the displaced miners, and of course the goblins are not entirely trusted, but Nir is an able ambassador and leader of the local goblin tribes. It is a slow process towards full acceptance, but he has aided many in making progress.” She smiled. “Even Master Hirgar now grudgingly respects Nir, a day I never thought would come.”

“I am sure you have helped as you can, given the respect the townsfolk give you,” Khaska said.

“I am just a simple innkeeper,” she replied, “but I’m glad to be of service.” Sanjin’s eyes glittered. They all knew better. “So where have your journeys taken you,” she asked. “It’s been several years since you were here in the city. What has happened to you in the meantime?”

They took a few minutes to recount their journeys, Jenika’s departure, the harrowing journey to Darkcrest under false pretenses, their time there, the fall of the city (and its rechristening as Dusklight—much to Khaska’s chagrin, both Orensland and Aestus talked up his appearance as “Tawru” in a way that clearly amused Mirwen), their meeting with the storm giant quintessent, and their subsequent journey into the marshes, with the discovery of the Fenstriders Circle, Rynn’s wife, and their intelligence on the mass of chromatic dragons in the marshes.

This, of course, deeply concerned her.

“Chromatic dragons are not known for working together,” she said. “It is said that it was difficult enough to unite the metallic dragons for the last Dark Times. I cannot imagine what could draw so many beings of such evil to unite so thoroughly.”

“They are preparing for something called ‘the Dedication,’ which is to come after the Dark Times,” said Orensland.

“That sounds ominous,” she said.

“The brood of Zyrbryxion seems to be a large portion of the black dragons in the marshes,” Sanjin said. “Perhaps they have won many converts to the worship of Tiamat?”

Mirwen hissed at that name. “Do not speak of her in my presence,” she said. “Her very existence is a blasphemy to those of us who worship Bahamut. Zyrbryxion was one of her most devout followers, but I still find it difficult to believe that he could convert so many to act so against their very natures for so long. He was …” she paused, “said to not be a very charismatic or persuasive type, prone to excesses of violence and bullying more than talk.”

“Could he still be alive?” asked Sanjin.

“No.” She said. “He would be too old. Black dragons, even of the most powerful, cannot live indefinitely. He was ancient even during the last Dark Times, having all but ruled the death side for a millenia at that point.” She looked at them. “But you did not come here just to tell me of evil dragons. Why are you here?”

Khaska swallowed. Everybody looked to him. He began haltingly.

“The storm giant seer we met on Mount Elduin gave us a task to track down his mate, lost many centuries ago. She had gone to see Hyrmaphridion’s ghost. We ourselves went to the dragon’s graveyard, and were granted audience with Hyrmaphridion by the Caretaker. We spoke to him of this stone giant’s mate, and he said that he had sent her on to meet with,” he swallowed again, “Thakillestra the Gold, in Sethrayin. So we journeyed there to see if we might find some record and …” he could not finish.

Sanjin stepped in. “We’ve seen the murals of Thakillestra there, my lady. We recognized the younger Mirwen aiding refugees during the last Dark Times and, dare I say, your reputation as a cook continues in the city to this day, in the form of their soup kitchens for the poor of their empire.”

There it was. Out in the open. There was a very long, very awkward moment.

Aestus glanced around the room to see that they were all alone now, the employees having read the situation and made discrete exits. He stood. “I swear to you by all I am, by all that I hope to be, and by the oaths I have made as an initiate, that your secret is safe with us. Even under threat of torture or death, we will not divulge your secret. I do not know your reasons for hiding, but they are your own. We only seek your wisdom and knowledge in these matters. Nothing more.”

A tear fell down her cheek. “It has been so long since I have been able to speak with members of the lesser races who know who I am. I had almost forgotten what it was like to be …” she paused “… more than just a simple innkeeper.

“Zyrbryxion was an arrogant worshipper of the Queen of Dragons. It would not surprise me if his brood had taken his attitudes and tried to forcibly converted dragons to her worship. Though he must have long since passed, his brood must be behind this. The last I saw him he was going mad from old age, and that was well before the last Dark Times. We did not, as you might imagine, interact frequently.” She sighed. “Even in death his dread influence continues.”

“And what of the storm giant’s mate,” asked Orensland. “She sought you out because of some portents surrounding dragons on our moon. Did she meet with you?”

“Her visit to me was only a century or so after the last Dark Times. The world was still recovering from the war and the devastation wrought on the climate by the two worlds being so close. She spoke to me of portents regarding the metallic dragons, and together we consulted with Bahamut to see what her visions meant. I had difficulty understanding them, but grew concerned. My concerns were heightened when she was killed just outside of Sethrayin, ostensibly by some who thought to rob her of her various riches and items. I suspected she was killed because of our conversation, and began to reach out to other dragons to see if they had some insight. It was then I realized that some of the dragons were simply missing.

“It happened quietly. No all dragons that are born survive to become Great Wyrms. Some are killed by overzealous adventurers, some by other dragons, some die from natural causes, but we are so long lived we do not necessarily keep tabs on each other often. Somehow, many of them had been disappearing. I assume they have died.” There were tears in her eyes. “I was so caught up in my work at the Cathedral of Bahamut that I didn’t realize what was happening until too late. This affected all the different kinds of metallics. And it was also affecting the chromatics. They were vanishing as well.”

“Well, we know where they all went,” Sanjin said.

“I doubt it was all of them,” Thakillestra said. “One of my great granddaughters, after we realized what was happening, discovered that a pair of rival chromatic dragons, a young brother and sister, had been killed. She found one body while the other was missing, though it was clearly taken by violence. We deduced that someone was hunting down and killing them as well, working their way up from the youngest wyrmlings to the more elder dragons from each race.”

“We have noted that there are some other, um, individuals we have encountered who we feel might be metallic dragons in disguise,” Khaska replied. “You have already met Akle.”

“A grandson of Hyrmaphridion himself,” Thakillestra replied. “Until he walked into my inn, I thought I might be the last of the metallics alive on Jenoa. There are others?”

Khaska replied to that question. “We do have some reason to believe that there are still metallic dragons on the moon, and that we have encountered some of them in our travels. Two of our guesses have been correct, now confirmed by you.”

Orensland piped up. “A bard we encountered some time ago, Elial, we think might be a brass dragon, and we met a ship captain, Ryx Bronzebeard, we suspect might be a bronze dragon.”

“We have been unable to contact Akle, however, magically, for some time,” Khaska said. “And like you, Captain Bronzebeard replies through intermediaries.”

“Yeah, why you don’t respond either,” Sanjin said, rather directly, Khaska noted. “What’s the reasoning there?”

“Somehow, those who hunt and kill dragons can track us if we use our magic. Even replying to a Sending spell would draw whatever dark forces to our location with incredible specificity. Changing our shape or using our breath weapons does not seem to have this effect, only casting spells.” At this, the group exchanged looks. “This does not surprise you?”

Sanjin replied. “In the marshes, when we fought Grilrut, our newfound allies had us vacate the area quickly. Because he had cast spells, they knew reinforcements would be arriving soon.”

She nodded. “If it were reinforcements, then the dragons in the marshes, this Cult of Skyrnyn, a front for the Church of the Queen of Dragons, would be the ones who hunted us down all those centuries ago.”

“Why would they kill their own kind as well?” asked Aestus. “That seems … stupid.”

“To answer that, I would need to know more about their plans, knowledge we do not yet have in detail. But I fear for those plans. This group has been working towards their goals for nearly a millenia now.”

“The storm giant seer we meet on Mount Elduin said that, in order to stave off a forthcoming darkness, we would need to ‘unite the metallics,’” Orensland said.

“I do not know what that might even mean. I would be overjoyed to know that there are other metallics aside from myself and Akle, but there could not be more than a handful. I know not what only a few of us could do against such odds, either from the devils of Arkenos or this cult of dragon worshippers.”

“And why do you not unite with the Knights?” Aestus said. “They control at least some of the remaining chromatics, and are literally dedicated to the memory of all the metallic dragons?”

“Just before I myself went into hiding, not wanting to risk a violent confrontation in such a major city, I sent an emissary to the Knights chapter in Sethrayin. This was well before they captured their chromatics with dragon orbs. Centuries before. That emissary never returned. So I sent another. They too, vanished.

“Whatever forces are marshalled against the metallics were closely watching the Knights. I know that dragons who have tried to approach them have died. So did the very individual Knights they approached.”

Khaska remembered a moment from all those years ago with Amara. She had set off some kind of magical trap when entering the Knight’s chapterhouse in Hammerdine, ostensibly because of her draconic heritage. The Knights themselves had turned on her, almost as a reflex, to kill her. Orders the Knights themselves didn’t even fully remember the original reasons for. He shared this story.

“This is why we hesitate to turn to the Knights,” Thakillestra replied. “Though they are allies in the fight for good, they have been manipulated and twisted in ways that we would endanger both ourselves and them were we to reveal ourselves.”

“Who would have done such a thing?” Aestus asked. As an initiate of the Knights, he was incensed, his face nearly purple with emotion. “All the Knights I know would never stand for such manipulation!”

“The divine magic of the paladins would not allow them to create such sigils as Khaska has described. Such magic is the provenance of arcane magic users,” she replied.

Sanjin nodded. “That makes sense. Sometimes members of the wizard’s orders are called upon to aid churches and clerics. They do the same for us when healing spells are required, at least in the elven culture. If some of these Tiamat worshippers” Thakillestra hissed and he quickly corrected himself, “evil dragon worshippers managed to infiltrate mage guilds at higher levels, they could easily set up such traps unbeknownst to the Knights themselves.”

Aestus nearly turned purple with rage. Khaska reached out a hand to lightly touch him.

“We have no evidence this is the case,” the cleric said, “just conjecture at this point. But it does make sense of some things we have learned. Why the Knights have dragon detecting sigils at their chapter houses. Why they even have dragonriders perched at the Dragon’s Graveyard. I assume it is said their task there is to find any surviving free chromatics who wish to go there to die, with standing orders to kill anybody who enters, but that could be a plausible front for some other group’s actual reasons for making the Dragonriders think so.”

Thakillestra nodded. “It was why I warned you to stay away from the Knights there. As I grow older, I had wondered if I might journey there myself and attempt to enter under false pretenses, although that might offend Ordojoxerul. I fear my entering as myself would draw their attention and who knows what misunderstandings might result. I do know of one copper dragon, well after the Knights began their vigil there, that went to enter. I never heard back from her.”

“Do you know that the Knights there killed her?” asked Sanjin. “That seems … unlikely.”

“She came here randomly, in hiding, as I was. It was chance we met. She had grown tired of hiding and wished to go die there. After she left, I never heard from her. I am sure she would have tried to send me a message of some kind had she been able. Non-magical, of course. But I never received any. I have no further information.”

“Let us continue with what we do know, which is about this storm giant’s wife and her fate.” Khaska turned back to Thakillestra. “We wished to ask if you had any information about the storm giant's wife and her fate, as well as what his words about uniting the metallic dragons might mean. Hyrmaphridion explained that we might seek more information from the draconic sages at Trik’Brin, but we were curious if you, experienced in lore, might know something.”

“The sages of Trik’Brin were very wise and knowledgeable. It makes sense that he would send you to them. But I understand that Trik’Brin fell, some magical disaster, some time after I went into hiding myself.”

Sanjin nodded. “Even for those, such as I, who seek ancient lore and lost magics the world over know better than to approach Trik’Brin. None that I know of have ever returned.” He looked at her. “But the records show that it fell over 1500 years ago. Well before the last Dark Times. You say it fell more recently than that?”

“Much more recently. There is a discrepancy in your records, then.”

“We elves are notorious for keeping good records.”

“Then that is a mystery. Perhaps adventurers of your skill could determine what has happened to the magical library of Trik’Brin.”

“There was a library there!” Sanjin asked, astonished.

“Your records are very incomplete,” Thakillestra said. “The sages there studied magic with the very help of some of the most renowned dragon magic users for millenia. Before the last Dark Times, and before the Dark Times before that. I myself studied there for some time when I was younger.”

This reminded Khaska of something. “Have you heard of the ‘Pressen Empire’?”

“I have not.” Khaska looked around at the others. Sanjin knew that he wished to talk about the voidgates, and nodded.

“I feel that Sanjin would best be able to explain what we have discovered regarding the voidgates.”

Sanjin did explain what they, with the help of the Glittersail brothers, had discovered. The voidgate network, with its various locations, and their suspicion that the upper platform led to Arkenos.

Thakillestra was immediately intrigued. “Knowledge of this network, if your suspicions turn out to be true, could turn the war of the Dark Times before it even begins!”

“We had thought to travel through the gates on the upper level of the pocket dimension shortly,” Sanjin said. He shrugged. “Perhaps they will lead to other gates here on Jenoa. Perhaps they will lead to Arkenos.”

“Do you know anything about Arkenos?” asked Orensland. “All we have is legend and myth. You have lived through the last Dark Times. Maybe the one before that!”

“A lady never reveals her age,” Aestus chided. Thakillestra smiled.

“And the spirit of Hyrmaphridion said that they had left behind some metallics in the last Dark Times to act as a rearguard in the final days of the moons’ separation,” Orensland said. “Do you know much about that?”

“Just that. Many Knights and dragons stayed behind to prevent any final incursions of the evil forces as the moons separated. It was seen as a suicide mission. My husband, Jiveneit, remained behind himself as one of the leaders, even as Hyrmaphridion and Markus returned here to complete the destruction of the remaining forces on Jenoa. Something is happening there such that magical communication is no longer possible between the moons once the separation finally occurred. Until then, we knew our forces remained and continued to fight. Since then, we have heard nothing.”

“So it is possible that some still remain?” Khaska was surprised. “That your husband still lives?”

“Very unlikely,” she said. “When he parted, we knew we would not see each other again in this life. It was a choice that we made, and one I would make again.”

“If this voidgate network does indeed connect to Arkenos,” Sanjin said, “perhaps we could learn the fate of those left behind.”

“That would be a great blessing of knowledge,” she said. “An answer to many of the prayers I have sent to Bahamut in the intervening millennium since I last saw Jiveneit and the others of our family and friends who stayed behind.”

It was just about then that one of the watiers came in. “Mirwen, the lunch rush is approaching,” he said. “Are we closed for the day?”

“No,” she said. “Please prepare as usual. These friends of mine can continue our conversations another time.”

“While we are here,” said Khaska, “is there anything you can think of that we may assist with around the town. We can return at any time.”

“I would go speak to the town council. I am sure they would be delighted to see you again and would know better of our needs than I. I am, after all,” she smiled knowingly, “just a simple inkeeper.”

“And if you were sent to find of the storm giant’s mate, I would suspect that you should just contact him directly. He should have no reasons not to respond to a magical message, as I do.”

Eryx (DM)
Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much, let me sum up (in roughly chronological order of events that happened).

1. Mirwen is Thakillestra. Confirmed. Akle is also a silver dragon. Confirmed.
2. There were dragons left behind on Areknos during the last Dark Times, with a contingent of Knights. Their fate is unknown. (You also learned this from the spirit of Hyrmaphridion.)
3. About 100 years after the Dark Times, the storm giant seer’s wife came to speak of the portents. Shortly after her conversation with Thakillestra, she was killed.
4. This led Thakillestra to further explore and discover that someone was hunting down and killing (?) (maybe capturing?) both metallic AND chromatic dragons, starting with younger ones and working up the chain to more powerful ones.
5. It was discovered that whoever was behind this could track dragons by their use of magic. This is why Akle and Thakillestra do not respond to your magic contacts. (And seems a plausible reason why Captain Bronzebeard does not.)
6. Every attempt to contact the Knights ended in both the death of the dragon and the Knights the dragon contacted.
7. Thakillestra went into hiding, not wanting to risk a violent confrontation in Sethrayin.
8. The magical destruction of Trik’Brin occurred well after she went into hiding. Sanjin would know that does not accord with history as it is generally understood.
9. Several centuries later was when the Knights enslaved their chromatics, ostensibly killing off the others, or maybe finishing the job started by whoever was killing both kinds of dragons before.
10. Unclear timeline: The Knights began to set up defenses to protect them from still-living free chromatics, ostensibly. At least one copper dragon Thakillestra knew of vanished on the way to the Dragon’s Graveyard. Even though it is unknown whether she was killed before arriving there, died of other causes, or died at the graveyard, or has simply never contacted Thakillestra again (she finds that unlikely), Thakillestra is very wary of the dragonriders guarding the graveyard. That’s why she warned you off of them.

There would be private moments to speak with her about Bahamut, Thev, but I think that’s a conversation we could draw up bullet points for between ourselves.

You’ll learn from her, Musha, that she has only heard of Tawru One-Horn from Khaska. Tawru lived centuries after she went into hiding. During the last Dark Times she mostly stayed in Sethrayin, coordinating relief efforts and hospitals and the like for the wounded in the war.

Sorry if this post was a little boring to read. I figured at least a conversation would be better than just saying “oh, you all talked, here are the bullet points” in the text itself, even if I did give you the bullet points in the gray box. Also happy to answer questions that would further clarify something if it’s not clear in the body of the post itself.

With all this new information, what would you like to do next?

Thev
Naw, that infodump wasn't boring! It's fascinating to get information about things and their connections that have been dripped into the campaign bit by bit over years. (Holy cow, it feels like so long ago that Jenika left the party.)

Unfortunately, Thakillestra's historical knowledge seems to confirm some of Khaska's cultural suspicion of the Knights — while he still trusts that they're working for the good of the moon, it's disheartening to hear that there's some other agency at work within the organization, especially something that would be hunting down and likely killing metallic dragons. (Though he does wonder if there might be something else going on there besides killing — given how communications between the moons are cut off, maybe dragons are being unwillingly transported there in one-way trips? Far-fetched, but not impossible.)

Given that the lunch crowd is coming in, Khaska thinks it would be good to take the opportunity to:

  • Cast Sending in a private place to contact the storm giant seer and inform him of his wife's passing.
  • Speak with the Town Council, asking if there's anything the party could help with around the city in the time we're spending there. (Nothing quite so involved as the trip to the monastery, though!)

At the next available moment, Khaska would like to speak with Thakillestra about the worship of Bahamut and some of what he's been going through lately: his joy at the conversation with Hyrmaphridion, the form of the spirit guardians, the possibility of recovering forgotten forms of worship among his people, and what such a shift would mean.

After that… well, it seems like we have a mystery waiting for us in Trik'Brin — a convenient enough location for us to visit via the voidgate network!

DeltaWolf
Sanjin (as well as myself) has found the description of the metallic dragons, particularly from one of their own, most fascinating -history come to life!
He is very interested in Trik’Brin, he wonders why what he has learned is so inaccurate. Recognizing that what he has learned is partially (if not entirely) untrue -what does Sanjin know about Trik’Brin?

  • Acane check: 11
  • HIstory check: 23

Crosis
I'm not finding Trik'Brin on the map - also, it looks like the voidgate map file has been placed in the trash. Any chance we could find that again?

Orensland would make clear to Mirwen that we are more than willing to set up some communication between her and other dragons we know of. She can't cast magical spells, but I assume she can use magical items - Captain Bronzebeard's axe didn't seem to have a problem lighting up with a command word. Anyways, that, or a letter, or anything else, as we do intend on seeing Captain Bronzebeard again. Understandably, she may not wish to be involved in any such communications for her own personal protection, but we may as well offer.

We should also describe to Mirwen the shrine to Tiamat voidgate location we assume is in the Marshes. She may have some pointers as to it's ultimate function and importance. For all we know, we may have just found the skeletons of the dragons who "disappeared" over the years. Also, if she knows of any nuclear-bomb-type magical weapon we could throw into there… well, that would be amazing. We'd probably take out our own voidgate location in the process, but I feel like it would be worth it to stick it to the evil dragon goddess and her cult.

Otherwise, I agree that it has come time to start using the voidgate system in earnest. To aid in this endeavor, perhaps we can use a teleportation spell to get to the storm giant and get our crystal ball? We can tell him we plan on traveling to the library at Trik'Brin to decode his statement that we must "unite the metallics," but if he has any clarifications on that front we'd much appreciate it. I'd assume we want to explore there anyways, given Sanjin's thirst for knowledge on top of our basic necessity to understand dragons, but can't hurt to ask.

And ask the town council if we can help, of course, though we should be careful about accepting low-level quests from them ("Oh, the rats in the sewers are giving us trouble!" Yeah, we'll just move on. We have the world to save)

Eryx (DM)
We have fixed the link to the voidgate network map. Here is the updated link.

Trik'Brin is very near the voidgate located at K18 on the main world map.

Musha
Aestus is incensed. Somebody is betraying the Order's trust and using them to do great evil! The Knights must be warned! But once he calms down a bit, he realizes that everybody who has discovered this, including some very powerful beings: dragons, and the storm giant seer's mate, have ended up dead. He will consult with his friends.

*Sanjin - do we know who the Order contracts with for arcane warding? Or of any individual or coven who may have been hired to perform the tasks at any of the chapterhouses? How are the dragon riders' dragons immune to the wards?

*Khaska - is it wise to inform the Order that their wards have been sabotaged? Who do we know within the Order that we can trust this information to without endangering Thakillestra, any other dragon, or the Order itself?

*Orensland - is there a way we can use this information to our advantage? Maybe sabotage the saboteurs?

Aestus is of the opinion that before we can "unite the metallics" we have to find a way to keep them safe. Who has the power to destroy so many dragons so easily that nobody has noticed? Could we set a trap? REALLY hate the idea, but maybe we could have Thakillestra use a bit of magic and see who shows up…? Aestus would hate himself forever if something happened to her though.

What's going on at the graveyard? Are those dragon riders corrupt? Have they been infiltrated? How can we find out? Aestus would love to contact his Barbarian "mistress" to see how she's doing and see if he succeeded in siring a child. Perhaps we can also inquire further about her knowledge about the riders and any people, dragons or otherwise, who may have met unfortunate ends on their journey there? Is that something Khaska wouldn't mind doing?

First things first, though. We must keep our word to the storm giant seer. He needs to know what's happened to his mate. We should also find out if he knows anything about the visions she was having? What was she seeing?

Next priority for Aestus would be to find out what's happened(ing) with the dragons. Who is systematically eliminating them? His first thought would be to go to the nearest chapterhouse and find out who cast their wards and follow whatever road any clues reveal. He would also consider something much riskier: going directly to the dragon riders at the graveyard and confronting them.

Crosis
Well… if we DID want to set a trap, we could totally use the voidgate system to do so… she casts something, we put her in the voidgate system, and then we wait. Possibly watching from somewhere else with a crystal ball, once we get one.

Orensland would be happy to investigate the nearest chapterhouse and find out who cast their wards. I'm not sure if going to the graveyard would be the most ideal situation - they could well be there on orders to kill anybody who tries to enter and really have no idea why. But perhaps we could inquire as to WHY they guard the graveyard so stringently, or more importantly, WHO historically issued that order? We have a few friends that are higher in the Knights' food chain, they may be able to do some light digging for us if they don't already know. On that note, we can also inquire about the wards - why is everybody so eager to kill anyone who trips the ward, and who issued the order to put them there in the first place?

Musha
I like all those ideas very much.

Khaska stood. “We will speak with the council and discuss amongst ourselves the next steps. I will contact the Seer and tell him of his mate’s fate these many centuries ago.”

“You are welcome to stay here while you deliberate,” she said. “I will have rooms assigned for you. On the house.”

“You are most generous, my lady,” Aestus said, bowing.

Khaska went to his room a few moments later, after retrieving the key from one of the waiters, and spent a moment to cast Sending to the storm giant quintessent.

“Your wife died many centuries ago, after speaking to Thakillestra about the dragon portents. We’ve discovered many clues about those responsible, who hunt metallic dragons.”

Almost an immediate reply, a voice like that of winds on a cold mountain.

“Where are you?”

“The city of Twilight, near the western Edge.”

Then nothing.

Orensland and Aestus decided to go to the town council to see what they might be able to do to help the city while they were around, but Orensland was a bit unenthused. “They can get someone else to clean out the rats in the cellar. We’ve got a world to save!”

They didn’t get ten feet from the door of the Night Owl when they heard Mirwen’s voice. “Master Rogue, do not think that rat duty is beneath you. Nothing is beneath you.” A bit sheepishly, he turned back to see the elven looking dragon leaning on her staff, her face unamused. She looked at Aestus. “Does not your oath as a Knight initiate mean you help all those in need?”

“We will inquire at the town council, and are happy to perform whatever tasks are needed, my lady,” he said.

She nodded, and turned back inside.

It turned out that there weren’t rats in a cellar, but there were some giant spiders in one of the mines. It took a few hours to clear them all out, but it wasn’t dangerous for any of them, especially once Sanjin joined, using his spells to burn away webs and destroy many of the younger spiders. Orensland was correct in assessing the disparate abilities of the party since they were here last, but was a little chagrined at Thakillestra’s admonition. He felt so guilty he didn’t even take the offered reward money from the dwarven miner foreman. Sanjin clapped him on the back at that. “You’re growing as a person, Orensland!”

“Don’t remind me.”

They left the branch of the mine behind and stepped into the rickety wood elevator to take them up. Orensland noticed it first, but the others quickly picked up on the fact that, even though it was May, snow was falling down the shaft.

They emerged from the mine into the early morning (they had cleaned out the mine during the night, their bodies attuned to the solar cycle in Sethrayin, not Twilight) and saw that a blizzard was roaring around the foothills. Twilight could be seen in the distance as they had entered, but now was engulfed in the howling winds and blinding snow.


Khaska was speaking with Thakillestra of Bahamut and his recent experiences when she held up a hand abruptly, stopping him in the middle of a question.

“There is someone who wishes to speak to me,” she said. “Please join me.”

She pulled on a winter cloak and stepped outside just as the snow began to fall. The city, coming alive as the sunrise began to show itself, quickly shut down as bitter cold descended on it and snow began to cover the ground. She walked to the edge of the city with Khaska behind her and then entered the nearby forest, a direction away from the skyship clearing or the routes to the mines and the foothills.

After a few minutes of walking, and once outside view of the city, she straightened and no longer relied on her walking cane.

“A ruse?” Khaska asked.

“Part of the disguise that has kept me alive all these years,” she said. “Let a wagon wheel roll over my foot some time ago and have pretended to have a limp ever since.”

She came to a stop in a small clearing as the light brightened more. The sun was probably up now, not that either of them could see it. The swirling snowflakes had turned the forest silent, but slowly the snow began to coalesce into the face of the storm giant quintessent, and a bit of calm, a circle where no snow fell encircled them as it had on Mount Elduin. Khaska was surprised to see him.

The face bowed before Thakillestra, and she bowed in return. They began to speak back and forth in what Khaska assumed was draconic, because he did not understand the conversation. They spoke for many minutes, until at last the face in the storm seemed satisfied. It turned to Khaska. “You have fulfilled my request of you, and shall have your reward.”

“We are grateful to have been of service,” Khaska said. “If I may, the promised crystal ball is of most interest to my companion Orensland. I can bring it to him, but I think he would appreciate it if you would give it to him directly.”

“Very well. And thank you, Khaska Nzaidullek Mawkhavi Tereshkven.”

The face vanished into the storm.


Orensland, Aestus, and Sanjin were huddled, scurrying through the blizzard to get back to the town. They had not worn their winter coats and it was now quite cold.

All of the sudden the wind picked up around them, blasting them with snow and ice and causing them to stop, unable to see in front of them. Whiteout conditions. Sanjin began to wonder if there were some dark magic at work.

But then the storm subsided just a few seconds later, leaving just a smattering of snow in the air, gently drifting downward. The winds had actually blown the snow off of the ground near them. They stood in the middle of a perfect circle where there was no snow.

In the center was a small ball of ice.

Orensland smiled, and then turned to shout at the storm, now visibly retreating towards the west. “Very prompt! Thank you, sir!” He picked up the crystal ball, just slightly cold to the touch. “Excellent.”


After warming up in the inn (Thakillestra’s hot chocolate was divine, of course), the party decided their best course of action, based on this new information from Thakillestra, was to return to Sethrayin and to have Sanjin surreptitiously investigate the wards in the Knight’s chapterhouse.

Thakillestra asked that they continue to contact her through Nir, for obvious reasons, which the party readily agreed to.

“Please keep me apprised of your findings. And if you do decide to take this voidgate network and it does extent to Arkenos, be careful. The base of operations for the remaining dragons and Knights was to be the major city that passed just over the Fortress of Eternal Vigilance. If there is any sign of their final struggles, it would be there.”

Sanjin nodded. “That’s good to know. One of the voidgates goes to the Fortress, labeled “inferioribus civitatem.” One on the upper platform goes to a place labeled “superius civitatem.”

“Higher city and lower city,” she said to the party, seeing their confused looks, “in draconic.”

“They might be connected,” he said. “They might not. It’s as good a theory as any at the moment.”

Sanjin actually cast the Detect Magic spell on himself before they left. He would have 10 minutes of time to inspect the chapterhouse before he would have to recast it.

“Farewell, my friends,” she said. She had accompanied them to the edge of town where Sanjin could more easily draw the Teleportation Circle on the cobblestone street. Nir was with them as well. “Good to see you!” he said. “Come back any time! And thanks for killing those spiders! Work on that part of the mine will go much faster now!”

Orensland didn’t look at Thakillestra at all, just straight at Nir, as he replied. “Of course. Anytime.”

“Alrighty,” Sanjin said, as he began to draw the required runes and circles on the ground. As he completed the spell they began to flare brightly, and the party stepped onto the arcane drawing one at a time, the now familiar sensation of magical transport taking their body for a moment before they landed in the basement of the Knight’s chapterhouse in Sethrayin.

Aestus talked with the guards for a moment, a distraction as Sanjin inspected the room. After a few moments, the wizard indicated he was done. They repeated this process throughout the chapterhouse, which, at this point, they pretty much had free reign in. Even though Aestus was an initiate, the smart of their near assassination attempt gave them wide latitude. The Knight’s shame at their failure a few days ago worked to the party’s advantage.

Eventually, Sanjin was finished. “I suggest we return to our noble friend’s house to sleep in the Magnificent Mansion. I’d like to get a good night’s rest.”

They did so, returning just after dinner had finished, but the university wizard was summoned, the spell cast, and the magical door opened. The spectral butler opened the door, as was the usual pattern. “Please have a meal prepared,” the imperial university wizard said, “our guests have missed their meal.” The butler nodded.

Inside the Magnificent Mansion, they were escorted to the dining hall where other spectral servants fed them.

“Well?!?” Aestus finally blurted out.

Sanjin was disturbed. The wizard was normally quite unflappable, his gallows humor serving the party well in their various moments of peril.

“There are wards all over the chapterhouse,” he said. “After carefully inspecting all of them, I have determined two things.” He took a deep breath. “First, they are attuned to dragons of any kind. Even a sorceress with draconic blood, such as Amara, would trigger them, as she did all those years ago as you’ve told me. Second, they are set up to be slightly different from normal Guards and Wards. If triggered, there will be a gong sound, as when Amara went through the front gate of the Hammerdine chapterhouse. But there is a secondary trigger, a communication spell of some kind. I can’t quite make it out. It’s sort of a combination of Sending and Message and even Magic Mouth. So there is an immediate sound the Knights are to respond to, but there is also a magic message sent out to … someone, or somewhere. I couldn’t tell.”

There was a long pause as the spectral servants placed food in front of them.

“This is disturbing,” said Khaska. “Those wards have been in place likely for centuries. Well before perhaps any except the most long-lived elven Knights were even alive.”

Eryx (DM)
So there you have it. I asked DeltaWolf for an Arcana check, and his 25 was sufficient to learn this information about the wards in the Knight’s chapterhouses.

At least this chapterhouse (likely others, based on your experience with Amara and the wards way back in Codex III-Chapter 1) is set up to detect dragons. If a dragon were to enter, they would trigger both an audible alert for the local Knights and a magical alert sent to an unknown destination or unknown person.

Khaska is right though, about the timeline. These magical wards have been in place for centuries.

What would you all like to do with this information? What are your next steps?

Thev
Sorry for the delayed response. It was hard to focus the past few days…

Khaska is definitely disturbed by this information, and is uncertain who is trustworthy with this information: might there be long-lived Knights aware of the wards and their purpose? might there be some among the Knight still carrying out the purposes of those who created the wards? would we be in danger if someone were to find out about our knowledge? might Amara's recruitment into the Cult have been set in motion by such a message to an unknown recipient?

Khaska does believe that it could be brought up innocently, though: Sanjin could merely say that, as a curious wizard, he noticed unusual magic around the chapterhouse and did some investigating; he wanted to inform the Knights of something that might be a security risk if it were unknown, and if it were known, to express his curiosity at the purpose of this mysterious messaging spell. (We needn't mention suspecting that they've been there for so long.)

What do others think?

DeltaWolf
It seems to me that there are two concerns and either or both could be true;

  • There is a sinister group hiding within the the knights
  • There is an outside group that is tapping the knights' organization and the knights are simply unaware

There is a risk that if we say anyting it will tip off someone that is working against us -that being said, Sanjin is in favor of Khaska's suggestion. Sanjin believes the enemy is bigger then our close-knit group can handle on our own.

Thev
Eryx pointed out to me that I should review Codex 3 Chapter 1, when Amara tripped the ward. It appears that the Knights don't know what the wards are for — they think they're for demons. However, the Knights' dragons know that they're designed to detect dragons. As Ziranethsrana said, "The Knights, they do not even remember what the wards are for. In the early days, they worried that there were other dragons, and that those dragons would try to free me and the others that have been enslaved."

Remembering this, Khaska thinks that it would be good to bring this information to the Knights' attention.

Crosis
Though still smarting from Mirwen's reprimand, Orensland will try to be more attuned to helping the needy in general. He'd realize he'd been sidetracked by all the grand things we've been doing that he's forgotten his commitment to help the needy.

And about the crystal ball… WOOT!! Orensland would be eager to explore the voidgate system in greater detail once we wrap up our current tasks.

Let me know what you guys think of this, but I feel like subtly informing the Knights of the wards could end badly in one of two ways. One, whoever we tell is actually already in on the whole kill-all-metallics gig, so they either recommend another assassination attempt to their superiors or otherwise don't do anything about it. On the flip side, if they're a good guy, our stoking their interest and subsequent investigations could get them killed because we didn't warn them adequately that the people who put those wards in place have an ongoing interest in keeping their secrets secret.

Orensland would suggest we ask Sir Perone if we can speak with him in a zone of truth. We can say we feel we have come across sensitive information we want to tell the Knights, but have reason to believe our run-in with assassins may have been initiated by somebody in the Knights. Provided he is willing, we can be straightforward with him that:

  • We have reason to believe that metallic dragons still exist in the world;
  • There is a group (possibly the Cult) that actively hunts remaining free dragons of all types that are abroad;
  • Means for hunting those dragons include secret wards in every chapter house of the Knights that alert an unknown third party (possibly the Cult) if a dragon (including metallic) enters them;
  • The Knights themselves have likely been infiltrated on a deep level, as all attempts to communicate about still-alive dragons to the Knights ends up with dead messengers and sometimes dead Knights that had passed the message on to their superior officers.

If he refuses the zone of truth, or enters and betrays that he is actually one of the enemy… well, now we have an idea of whether or not he can be trusted, and we should get out of dodge FAST. If he accepts and by all means passes with flying colors, we can counsel with him about next steps to take for investigating the wards/making known to higher leaders that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

What do you guys think?

Eryx (DM)
Crosis has suggested you speak with Sir Franco Perone. I haven't detailed out everybody in the Sethrayin chapter of the Knights, obviously, but there is Sir Perone, the chapter head, Sir Adriano Mistretta, who is a junior officer and who has basically been your liaison with the Knights. But Aestus has made many friends in his time with the Knights. You could easily approach just about anybody you wanted to, enlisted, junior officers, senior officers, chapter head. I just don't want you to feel bound by who I've chosen to come up with names for.

Musha
Aestus has a couple questions about these wards.

  • Why are the wards not set off by the dragons of dragon riders? Perhaps they only detect FREE dragons? Is such a specific condition able to be "programmed" into these wards?
  • Are the wards able to be set off artificially? For example, could Sanjin or Khaska's hat disguise one of us as a dragon so that we set off the wards? That way we only endanger ourselves, not others, but at the same time display to the Knights what is happening without directly informing them?

If these wards are set up to only detect free dragons, and were set up long ago, how in the world did the creators know to distinguish a difference, and why?

Aestus is in favor of truth-zoning Sir Perone, or some other higher-up in the chapterhouse, up to and including the chapter head. He would even suggest going even further and questioning not just one, but a few of them, separately and individually, making sure no communication happened between them while we questioned them. That way we can weigh varied responses against each other and possibly get a feel for how many traitors, if any, there are here. Of course, we would have to be very respectful and display that our intent is only to help and serve the Knights and the good they stand for, "We have come across information that, if true, could truly mean disaster for the order and the entirety of Jenoa. We are shaken to our core and are seeking strong individuals with whom we can share this information who have the will and the means to act upon it. Forgive us for even asking, it is far from our intent to display any distrust to you, but this information is just so shocking and must be protected at all costs. Would you submit to a zone of truth, just as a measure of added security, for our, your, and the Order's safety?" Or something like that.

In the end, the party decided to rely on one of the tricks they had acquired from the Hammerdine justice system—Zone of Truth. Through his training sessions, Aestus knew many of the Knights, and it was decided that the group would approach several of them to inquire if they would be willing to speak in a Zone of Truth.

They began with Sir Costa, the master of initiates. The elderly Knight was puzzled when Aestus approached him, but the seriousness with which the group presented themselves helped him to hear their arguments and agree to their terms.

Khaska cast the spell in his office.

“Well,” the old man said. “What information do you have for me?”

Sanjin stepped forward. “I noticed in my time here that there are magic wards here in the chapterhouse. I investigated them and discovered something concerning.”

Sir Costa’s eyes narrowed. “Go on.”

“What are those wards for?” asked Sanjin.

“They guard against entrance of beings who we would not want to infiltrate our ranks. Devils and demons are known sometimes to take on human shapes. Succubi and incubi most obviously, but others as well. The wards detect such beings and alert us. I have never heard of it happening in all my years, but all Knights are told to be prepared for such incursions.” He looked at Aestus. “This would have been part of your formal training if you joined the order on a more permanent basis.” He turned back to Sanjin. “For what purpose did you take it upon yourself to inspect our defenses?”

“We had reason to believe that the wards are not what they seem. My inspection uncovered dark truth about them … they are not designed to detect fiends, but dragons.”

Sir Costa’s face remained unchanged. His raspy voice broke the silence after some moments. “That is not what I have been taught, but you cannot lie here either.” Though he glanced at Khaska. “I assume he has not resisted your spell?”

“He has not.” He smiled ruefully. “I cannot lie either under its effects.”

“Then why have you come to me with this information?”

Khaska spoke for the group now. “This next information we wish to keep in the strictest confidence, as we feel we have uncovered something that could mean disaster for the order.”

“You have obviously made powerful enemies,” Sir Costa said. “What is it that you think you have uncovered?”

Khaska laid out their suspicions—that there were still metallic dragons on Jenoa, that the wards may have been used to help track them down all those centuries ago, and that the Knights themselves might be infiltrated (or at least heavily spied upon) by those responsible for this genocide.

Sir Costa was deeply troubled. “I am not the one you should be speaking to, though I understand your decision to come to me first. Sir Perone is the most knowledgeable as chapter head.”

“We had thought to approach him and Sir Mistretta, our liaison, but separately, and individually,” Khaska said.

“That seems wise, though I have known them both for years, Sir Mistretta ever since he first joined the order as a young man. I cannot imagine they would be privy to such a plot.”

“We suspect so as well, but with information like this, we must be so very careful,” Orensland said. “Wouldn’t want to find more assassins at our throats, or yours.”

Sir Costa swallowed. “I will keep this confidence, then, and wish you luck with the others.”

Aestus approached Sir Mistretta, who stood. “Initiate Fellblade, welcome back. What can I do for you?”

Aestus looked around. The mess hall was relatively empty, a few other low-level Knights on the other side. His friends stood at the entrance to the room. Aestus leaned in, whispering. “We have come across information that, if true, could truly mean disaster for the order and the entirety of Jenoa. We are shaken to our core and are seeking strong individuals with whom we can share this information who have the will and the means to act upon it. Forgive us for even asking, it is far from our intent to display any distrust to you, but this information is just so shocking and must be protected at all costs. Would you submit to a Zone of Truth, just as a measure of added security, for our, your, and the Order's safety?”

Sir Mistretta’s face grew serious. “I accept. Where would you have this spell cast?”

They found a weapons storage locker near the sparring ring that was empty, and Khaska cast the spell again. The party again detailed their findings—metallic dragons still in existence, yet hunted by someone, and perhaps these dragon killers having infiltrated the Knights themselves—and carefully watched Sir Mistretta’s reactions.

“I am troubled by this,” he said, “and I recognize your desire for confidentiality and its wisdom.” He folded his arms. “I do not know how other chapterhouses run, but our policy here is to have armed guards at the entrance, as you know, and part of their training is that they are to immediately attack anybody who sets off a ward. We are taught that the wards detect devils and demons, but that could be a ruse.”

“There is also the matter of the message,” Sanjin said. “When a ward is tripped, it sends a message somewhere to alert someone of what has happened.”

“And you were unable to determine where such a message is sent?” asked Sir Mistretta.

Sanjin shook his head. “I know of no way to discover such a thing. It’s not a matter of my skill as a wizard … I’m not sure such a determination is possible at all.”

“I would speak with Sir Perone, with the same precautions that you have taken with me. It may be that these wards were set up for the dual purpose of detecting dragons and alerting someone to their location many centuries ago and the order has lost the institutional memory. I assume in the early days of the dragon riders there were other free dragons. It might have seemed a reasonable precaution at the time, secretly warped by other parties then and the memory of some of its original purposes lost over time. But the chapter head would know more than even I.”

“We appreciate your discretion,” Khaska said.

“You will always have it,” Sir Mistretta said.

“We should go speak with Sir Perone now,” said Orensland. He was most keen for that encounter—the chapter head was the most likely suspect, if any were to be in league with these dragon hunters.

“Do you wish me to accompany you?” asked Sir Mistretta. He put his hand on the hilt of his rapier.

“We thought it best to not have contact between the different people we have decided to approach,” Aestus said. “Forgive me, Sir Mistretta, but until we have a more concrete group of trusted friends, silence is of the essence.”

“I will speak of it to nobody until I hear otherwise from you,” he said. “This I swear, by my oath as a Knight of the Silver Dragons.” He leaned forward, glancing back and forth at them all. “I have told you here in this Zone of Truth that I am not privy to this conspiracy. But trust must flow both ways. Have you met these metallics? You know for sure of their existence?”

There was a long pause. Aestus eventually broke it. “Yes. But they are in hiding, and wish to remain so.”

There was a tear in Sir Mistretta’s eyes. “There are a great many of us who would gladly fight for them and by their side should they ever reveal themselves. Please convey that to them, if you can.”

“I will,” Aestus said. “I will.”


Sir Perone let them in quickly. “Back so soon? I trust your trip was productive?”

“We discovered a great many things, and we wished to discuss them with you,” Khaska said. He glanced at Sir Peron’s secretary, a young acolyte, clean shaven, perhaps still a teenager. “In private, if we could.”

Sir Perone nodded to dismiss the boy, who saluted smartly and left.

“I hope I do not step too far out of line, Sir Perone,” Aestus said. “But we have discovered something that is dangerous enough that we know not who to trust. We request that this conversation be held in a Zone of Truth, cast by Khaska.”

Sir Perone folded his arms, deeply skeptical. But after a moment, he nodded, and with a quick prayer to Teresh, Khaska cast the spell once again.

When the party was done explaining their concerns, Sir Perone was deep in thought.

“As you have explained to me, this would be troubling indeed. To have our order used and manipulated to hunt down the very dragons we have named ourselves for and honor through our Code!” He looked at them. “And you suspect there might even be those among us now who work as spies for these dragon hunters?”

“Or at least that you are all watched closely,” Orensland said. “Every metallic dragon who approached the Knights was killed, and those Knights soon followed. Their tracks have been covered, the methods for discovering such things lost to the centuries.”

“As chapter head, I could easily access the histories of our order at the Fortress. Perhaps I can shed some light on the reasons for the wards and who created them in the first place.”

“And why the dragon riders do not trip the wards,” Aestus said.

“A wise observation, Initiate Fellblade,” Sir Perone said. “We’ll make a Knight out of you yet.” Aestus beamed with pride. “I will surreptitiously engage in this research,” he continued. “To be honest, I have already submitted my request to be removed as chapter head to the Council of the Dragon Riders. I wish to serve in combat during the Dark Times. I am not so old as to be useless in the war to come. I will simply say that I am researching the history of these wards so I can pass along the information to my successor, who will inherit the protection of our buildings here in Sethrayin.”

“A plausible enough story,” Orensland said. “Tinged with just enough truth to be believable.”

“And where will your adventures take you next.”

Then he held up a hand. “Then again, if there are spies amongst us, perhaps it would be best if I did not know.”

“We can communicate magically in a few weeks to determine what you have discovered,” Khaska said. “Until then, know that you, Sir Mistretta, and Sir Costa are aware of our concerns and the discovery of the true purposes of the ward. You may rely on them—they are not spies, having also said as much in a Zone of Truth like yourself.”

“We will watch our members more closely than ever before, but also the others that we interact with. There may be spies among us, but there may be spies elsewhere in the city, such as this Lady Rosso, who work with these dragon hunters.” He furrowed his brow. “Might it be related to the group you encountered that brought you to Rider Valnala’s attention?”

“Unclear,” Sanjin said. “Our source says that it appeared both metallic and chromatic dragons were disappearing. It would make little sense to attack one’s own.”

“But who can know of the logic behind such madness in the first place,” Sir Perone said. He leaned forward. “If you think there are metallics alive, and if this group that hunts dragons is related to your enemies, I would be wary of contacting these metallics. Your recent trip, for example. Who knows where you went, aside from the wizard?”

A chill descended down Khaska’s spine. They had taken precautions, of course, but had they taken enough?

“Maybe we need to Zone of Truth that guy as well,” said Orensland.

Eryx (DM)
Sir Costa (Master of Initiates), Sir Mistretta (your liaison, a junior officer), and Sir Perone (the chapter head) are not spies.

I’m not sure what else you want to do in the city. Go Zone of Truth the wizard who cast the teleportation spell? Anything with Orensland’s father, maybe? You haven’t seen him around, but you didn’t really try to contact him again either.

It will take Sir Perone a few weeks to gather more information on the wards and their origins. Would you like to stick around, or move on?

If so … where?

The places you have suggested (I may be forgetting some):

1. The voidgate network. “Superius civatatem” beckons? The mysterious floating voidgate?
2. Trik’Brin. The mystery about the discrepancy between the historical record (that it was destroyed pre-Dark Times) and Thakillestra’s memory (that it was destroyed afterwards) is a mystery to be solved. Sanjin would know that Trik’Brin is rumored to be the holy grail of sites for people like him—an ancient magical city teeming with who knows what. However, none who have ever ventured there have ever returned. It’s seen as a fool’s errand to the treasure hunters and dungeon delvers of the Death Side.
3. Back to the Dragon’s Graveyard. Aestus briefly spoke of heading there and directly confronting those dragon riders. Asking around, you could easily find out that assignment up there is seen as a dead-end for advancement in the Knights for anybody but those dragon riders. (There are two, and they are the only dragon riders that ride white dragons in the world.) Sort of a dumping ground for miscreants and disobedients, a station far away in the freezing north where nothing ever happens.
4. Something I missed?

Crosis
Can we get some more information on the wizard? Things that come to mind are how strong he is and some idea of the tasks he carries out for the Knights? Really, come to think of it, he is a strong candidate for traitor. The wards were set by wizards - perhaps they are maintained or followed-up on by a wizard as well? Not to mention that would be a great role to place spies in. They don't swear any oaths (I think?), are privvy to any detail of the chapter house that is remotely magical, probably get a fair amount of privacy while having his nose in the general goings-on of the chapter house. Plus he's strong enough to throw his weight if need be.

Orensland would suggest we Zone of Truth the wizard, though not in quite as much depth (no need to go into details about our suspicions on the continued existence of metallics). We basically ask if he knows about the wards and what triggers them, if he knows where the message spell is sent, tell him we suspect the Knights are being spied on, and cross-check him on several accounts with questions like "are you affiliated with any organizations whose aims run against the Knights?" And anything else others can think of to avoid loopholes. If he's particularly strong… let's have some back-up nearby. And perhaps a silence spell at the ready to nullify a chunk of his spellcasting if he turns violent.

While the wizard knows where we went, he likely doesn't know why, and he couldn't have scried on us. For the record, Orensland would have suggested we interview Sir Perone somewhere discreet. If the Knights are being spied on, it stands to reason that his office would be magically bugged.

Presuming that doesn't throw us into a new adventure, I would vote on heading to Arkenos for a quick exploration, followed by checking out Trik'Brin. Orensland would try to pass along to his Father that the Knights are willing to do business to foster a little good will, but generally he wants to make himself scarce from any locale that includes his father.

Musha
Aestus is fully onboard with his friend, Orensland's, suggestion to interrogate the wizard, and states, "We should be ready to execute this man should he be revealed as a traitor — for all of Jenoa is at stake."

Aestus has been thinking about why ALL dragons are being targeted and not just the metallics. Something that Mirwen said clicks and gives him a scary thought. Mirwen told us that many knights and dragons remained on Arkenos following the last Dark Times. Wouldn't it then be possible that devils from Arkenos might have remained on Jenoa to prepare for the next Dark Times as well? Perhaps sabotaging pretty much the only defense Jenoa has against Arkenos incursion? Using our own defenses against us? Or what if there are those on Arkenos who have access to the Void Gate system? Aestus suggests getting a message to Thakillestra and inquire about such possibilities; as well as the ability to track down such devils and eliminate them.

Following our interrogation of the wizard, Aestus believes our top priority should be to check on the knights who stayed behind during the last Dark Times to see what trace of them remains, if any. Maybe there's some sort of camp, bivouac, or even a fortress left behind that we could start utilizing as a base of operations. Maybe we could start organizing our own incursion, sending knights and dragons over now and stop the wars before they start.

And after a look-and-see adventure to Arkenos, to Trik'Brin! Then after Trik'Brin, Aestus feels that we need to figure out what is happening at the Dragon's Graveyard.

Speaking of the Dragon's Graveyard… @Thev, Aestus asks Khaska if he can message Olwenna, the Dergon woman who might possibly be carrying his child, to ask on her well being and if a pregnancy occurred. If so, what news is there of his future child?

DeltaWolf
I, and by extension Sanjin, have a few questions come to mind, I’m not looking for these questions to be answered right away -more these are the kind of things Sanjin would be thinking about:

  • Do we know what color of dragon ancestry Amara has?

We are assuming that because the knight’s dragons don’t trigger the wards that the wards are triggered by free dragons, but there would be other possibilities;

  • Do we know if once triggered the same dragon will trigger it again?
  • Are all the knight’s dragons ancient? Are there any that are relatively young?
  • Might there be a way tag a dragon which would allow them to pass through the wards unnoticed (but without being under the knight’s control)?

Eryx (DM)
To answer some of the queries:

The wizard is a professor at the imperial university. He was contracted by the nobleman that has been housing you since the assassination attempt.

Amara had white hair. Sanjin could make an educated guess that her ancestry included either a silver or white dragon.

As far as you know, any being that would trigger a ward would trigger it every time.

All of the Knight's dragons are ancient. When they were captured they were all adults, but are now old enough to be considered ancient. (5E rules specify that there are 4 ages of dragon, wyrmling, young, adult, and ancient.)

Sanjin would know that there are indeed ways, easily enough done when setting up wards, to exempt particular individuals. He would suspect that's at play in why the Knight's dragons don't trigger the wards.

Question for you: Greygook and Xaci would like to take the skyship to investigate the weird floating voidgate. He's been itching to do so for some time. When would you give him permission to do so (you interrupted one attempt to do so before, calling on them to pick you up when they were on their way).

Thev
[Emerges from a refreshing three-day internet fast.]

Khaska's on board with interviewing the wizard, complete with nearby backup, and knows well how powerful a Silence spell can be. He'd also add an important, but vague question: "Have you spoken with anyone or anything about your doings with us? Who were they, and what have you said?"

He would also contact Nir with a pretty simple message for Mirwen, something like: "Informed the Knights. Chapter leaders didn't know. Conducting an investigation. Keep an eye out; will send updates when we know more."

As for excluding creatures from the wards' alarms, Khaska wonders if the dragonriders' orbs don't have something to do with it.

As for next steps:

  • He'd be interested to check out what might remain on Arkenos.
    • If Greygook and Xaci came along to the voidgate near Sethrayin, could we pull a floating lifeboat/rowboat through to the strange floating platform, so they could investigate it without the months-long journey? That would be pretty efficient.
  • Trik'Brin is a logical next step after that!

Khaska would be happy to check in with Olwenna about Aestus's potential child.

On a somewhat meta-gaming note: two gray boxes ago, I did go back to see who all knew about the destination of the teleportation, and was surprised at how open the party had been about it in the narration; Khaska would have been more circumspect, disguising the destination as much as possible. Granted, a lot of Twilight knows the party visited now, but I'd just like to make sure that something potentially consequential (like the teleportation wizard coming in) wasn't introduced just as a matter of narrative convenience (opting for teleportation vs. skyship).

Crosis
I didn't realize the wizard had no permanent relation or occupation with the Knights, so my suspicions toward him have largely died down to the same as any old guy we see in the street. Perhaps we should isolate our zone of truth inquiries to a matter of intellectual curiosity. We'd kill two birds with one stone - presuming he's innocent, we'd be able to lay our fears to rest about him being a traitor, and Sir Perone would have a trustworthy expert in magic if his studies into the wards if they require further inspection.

Basically:

  • Interview the wizard in a zone of truth under the (true) pretense that some people may want to kill us for knowing what we are about to divulge, and we want to confirm that he's not one of them.
  • Ask him if he knows about the wards, if he has any desire to harm the party, etc.
  • If innocent, tell him we suspect the wards were placed under false pretenses, and that he should not divulge that information to others for his own safety, or even investigate on his own without extreme precaution.
  • Ask him if he'd be willing to aid sir Perone if he requires further investigations.
  • Ask if he told anyone where we went, and ask him not to divulge that information to others.

“We must be very careful,” Khaska said. “We can interrogate our wizard friend tonight, but then you are correct, Sir Perone. I believe we will be leaving the city soon.”

They decided to confront the wizard that evening, but they had preparations to make for their forthcoming journey.

Orensland spent the better part of the rest of the day making a few underworld inquiries, passing along a message to his father that the Knights would be willing to do a little business, but he watched his back, doubled and tripled back, used his shadowdancing, and only left messages. He wanted to make himself scare from any locale where he might run into his father. Content that Zehvran would get the message, he returned to the chapterhouse.


Their day finished getting supplies, they returned that evening for a final dinner at their nobleman host’s house, and after their meal their wizard friend from the university arrived to cast the Magnificent Mansion so they could sleep. Greygook and Xaci were with them this time, so they could make plans away from scrying eyes.

Khaska cast Zone of Truth in the room just before the wizard entered, so the man was unaware of the ruse until he stepped into the room.

The man immediately felt the spell’s effect, and tried to resist it, but failed. Orensland drew his new drow sword a few inches from the scabbard as the man whirled, unsure of what was happening.

“Our apologies, Professor,” Khaska said. “We have many enemies and knowledge has come to our attention that we wish to tell you, but cautiously. We here are all under the effects of a Zone of Truth spell.”

He was very wary, his fingers and face prepared for spellcasting. The party explained that they had noticed some unusual anomalies in the Knight’s arcane defenses, and if he knew anything about them. He knew of them, he said, but nothing more than that. Occasionally, he mentioned, the Knights would hire students or professors from the wizard’s school at the university for spellcasting, but it had been some time since he had been called upon to do so. Such an arrangement had probably created the wards, but many centuries ago.

“We suspect the wards were placed under false pretenses,” Sanjin said. “Sir Perone knows of our suspicions, and may call upon you for your arcane expertise in further investigations, but tell this to nobody.”

“By the name of Markus, I will keep this to myself and speak of it to nobody except Sir Perone,” he said.

Satisfied, the party allowed him to create the Magnificent Mansion, and they entered.

It was there that Aestus began to speculate about Arkenos.

“We know that there are devils there,” he said. “Might some of them have remained behind after the last Dark Times? Might they have access to the voidgates? Could they be preparing to undermine our very defenses for the next war?”

“Rynn assessed that the voidgate system seemed unused,” Sanjin said. “I am inclined to trust his assessment. I think that the Glittersails and now us are the only ones who truly understand these artifacts and their use.”

“But your thought about leaving forces behind for the next Dark Times is a chilling one,” said Khaska. “It would make sense to leave a strike force or assassins or guerilla warfare experts to sabotage our chances at waging a good defense against them.”

“We should share our concerns with Sir Perone,” Aestus said. “If we suspect there are forces here, however small, they might be able to do great damage. And the Dark Times will begin very soon. Just before the convergence would be the opportune time to strike.”

“Devil hunting, then?” asked Greygook.

“No,” Aestus said. “Our first priority should be seeing if we can get to Arkenos. Perhaps we could similarly damage their efforts, or find a base of operations, or perhaps even remaining forces from Jenoa leftover from the last Dark Times.”

“More voidgates it is, then!” Xaci said.

“I’m still hoping to someday soon fly to the unusual voidgate we found over the Upper Jaw of Thanor,” said Greygook.

“Actually,” Khaska said. “I was thinking about that very thing. Could we not outfit a smaller boat to be a skyship, one that would fit through the voidgates themselves? For at least a cursory skyship examination of whatever is going on with that floating voidgate?”

“A skiff, eh? Easy enough to convert a sailing one, I suppose,” Greygook said.

“We usually don’t because skyship crystals are so rare it’s not really worth using just one of them for such a small craft,” Xaci said. “But we could use one of the Randale’s crystals very easily.”

Orensland grabbed some money from his money pouch. “Please procure what you need.” Greygook nodded.

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter.

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