Pious

In Defense of Love
The Dark Fabulist's Downfall, pt 1

While the party was homing in on the cave where the Dark Fabulist was holed up, when the party began being attacked by redcaps. Their sling stones were endangering the Eagles who had gladly agreed to carry them, and Varigate leaped into action, falling out of the sky and slamming his axe into one of the redcaps as he struck the ground, absorbing the impact. Korrang, not to be outdone, strode gracefully off the eagle, gliding through the air and alighting to the ground to engage the enemy, while Findorus followed, perhaps not as gracefully, but with much more style and panache. The Eagles dropped off the rest of the party before flying away. The redcaps were dispatched readily, and left behind a single tooth each time one was dispatched. Echo let the group know about stories he heard stating that one who wears a redcap’s tooth is seen as more menacing to the members of the Feywild.

Before going into the cave system, Echo cast an arcane eye into the darkness, to scout out the paths before them. Taking this path, the group entered a large cavern the group found was right before an area the arcane eye couldn’t penetrate. Varigate yelled at the Redcaps that he was glad he would be getting more teeth soon. At this sight, the redcaps fled the field of view, while Grimm’s began dragging themselves out of the oily birthing pools nearby. As the group was battling them, the Dark Fabulist strode into the field, carrying a large black scythe.

Findorus took it upon himself to try and sway the opinion of the Dark Fabulist, and get him to relent before they had to attack him. He actually made a fair amount of headway, however the Dark Fabulist said that he unfortunately had already made promises to Archfey, do if they wished to remove him from this story, they were going to have to take him down. The Dark Fabulist tried to Bane Korrang, but with a mighty “My fate is my own!”, he shrugged off its effects. The battle waged back and forth, and in the middle of the battle, the original redcaps came back with reinforcements! Glasya went off to try and stall them while the group finished off the Dark Fabulist. After much effort, the Grimm’s were taken out and then the Dark Fabulist was finally taken down.

Afterwards they gained access to his ritual chamber, where they found a great deal of magical components, along with The Prince of Frosts frozen tears, and a heart-shaped mass of rose thorns which pierced their hands, no matter how gently it was grabbed. Findorus even tried grabbing it with his mage hand, but felt the pricking of his palm, even though he was not touching it.

Afterwards, Varigate suggested that they head back to the Lady’s well to tell her how things turned out. Echo realized that it was not very easy to start the Star Path during the daylight, so they rested while they waited for night. At nighttime, Echo started up the path, when Varigate had a realization that his truename might enable him to weaken the barrier to starting the Star Path, and enable Echo to create one during the daytime. While on the Star Path, the also found that it had a color much like the moonlight, and Echo believed that it was being affected/guided by some outside force, very likely the Lady herself.

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On the Star Path
In the Knick of Time

The group started off with Echo calling the Star Path down with his music. The Sky appeared to lose some of its perspective and felt like they could reach out and touch it, which they could. Between some of the stars they found a luminous path leading up into the stars. While they were traveling through the sky, taking in the sites of the nebulae and shooting stars, The group began to hear a disharmony in Echo’s melody. At the same time Varigate felt a “thinness” in front of them. Callie scouted ahead a bit, while Echo stopped trying to strengthen his song. Between Echo strengthening his song and the presence of Korrang’s star, the group was probably saved from being tumbled into the void between stars. A soundless explosion bloomed in the sky, along with a psychic barrage of thoughts and feelings. In the center of the bright light, for just a moment they glimpsed a humanoid figure, but then clouds of…something started boiling into the realm which then took on various aspects; some parts looked fleshy, some liquid, some cloudy or rocky. In the meantime the group noticed that the star path was shredded and broken between where Callie was and the rest of the group.

Once the creature stopped billowing into the sky, the Shuggoth began trying to consume the rest of the group. The poisonous aspect of the Shuggoth gave them some pause as it burned them with acid, but the party was holding their own against this threat from beyond the stars. The Shuggoth rallied somewhat and was able to engulf Korrang, drawing him into its bulk, as everyone else continued to try and hack and destroy the beast and give Korrang a chance to get out. However, Korrang seemingly was not in too much danger. From inside, the party saw shining bright rays of light piercing out from the inside of the beast. Drawing on the light of Khirad, Echo blasted the Shuggoth with a final ray of his light, causing it to burst like a horrendous bubble, leaving a Korrang shining with the light of a star behind. Luckily, his star was creating a platform for him to stand on, and so he could get back to the rest of the group.

After licking their wounds, Echo was able to coach the melody back to normal, and reconnect the Star Path so they could make their way to the Great Eagle King’s Court. As they got closer, they were able to see below that something was amiss. Large dark shapes appeared amongst the Eagles causing major concern, with Eagles taking to flight all around. However, shortly thereafter, all of the Eagles began falling out of the sky, and the Eagle King fell out of his throne and seemed trapped prone to the ground. The group was running at this point, but then Varigate clicked his heels, apologized to Korrang, and shot forward, with everyone else following behind. Shooting out of the Star Path, Varigate dove in between the Grimm and the Great Eagle King, and began slashing into them with Barchan. After a few hits, he triumphantly drove his axe wholly into one of the creatures, killing it…or so he thought. Immediately the creature’s eyes began to smolder with a dark light and it critically drove BOTH of its’ claws into him and took a huge chunk out with it’s unhinged jaw, draining Varigate of life force, and bringing the Grimm back from the brink of death. Shortly thereafter Korrang arrived to try and help him keep the Grimm at bay while the rest of the team slowly caught up. While taking grievous wounds, they were able to do just that, as Rykin lept into the fray, slowing the creatures, Echo began healing them and Findorus helped to take the Grimm out. While Varigate was doing poorly, with him and Korrang being blasted by dark lightning from one of the Grimm, Glasya pulled away from Varigate’s mind and manifested in the flesh for the first time, disrupting the Grimm’s concentration and dispersing the cloud it had called.

By concentrating their efforts, they were able to put the Grimm out of action, and destroy them permanently even when they tried to soldier on after being killed. Rykin dispelled the Loadstone which was removing the flight of creatures in the area and grounding them, allowing the Eagles to stand up again. Once back on his Throne, the Great Eagle King asked who his saviors were, and why he needed saving in the first place. The group explained who they were and that they were trying to foil the plans of the Dark Fabulist, who in turn was trying to corrupt True Love. The Eagle King believed they were probably trying to steal one of his flight feathers, as they probably would not have been able to do much more before the Eagles undid the Lodestone’s effect; their surprise was their main asset, and that would not have gained them much more than that. He also bade the group stay with him for a few days, resting and recuperating, and asked if there was anything he could do for them. Echo asked if he could help them get to the Dark Fabulists lair, Rykin asked if he could give him any tips on defeating red dragons, while Varigate asks if he could learn the ways of the Giant Eagles, all of which the Eagle King agrees to.

While with the eagles, they are given feathers, which will grant them flight while staying at the Eagle Court, and much care is given to them to heal them up from their great wounds. While staying there, Echo also was able to trade many stories with a Mockingbird who was the court Singer of Songs and Teller of Tales.

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A Date WIth Destiny?
Wherein Prophecies are Given and Fulfilled

Before they set out, Findorus’ regaled everyone with the highlights from The Tale of the Broken Heart. Since the story revolved at least in some ways around the Lady in the White Well, they decided it would be a good idea when they reached the correct point in the story to seek her out, to maybe cut off one avenue of success of the Dark Fabulist. After that, they’d try asking around in the area and trying to discover more of the Dark Fabulists plans, and see where things went from there.

Their plans decided, they all went to sleep and began to dream. Varigate pulled them slowly into the Feywild, while Echo tried to direct them to the right story, and Findorus tried to draw them to the right time, before the events of the story unfolded. With so many people they were bringing this time, things were more difficult than their test as they were feeling pulled in several directions at once, with each one’s thoughts and needs striving for direction. In the end, Varigate was able to keep everyone together and they ended up on a road, surrounded by fields of woody briar. Having arrived all facing one direction, they figured that would be the best way to go, and set off.

After a short while of walking, they came upon a crossroads, wherupon they saw a giant Warg running towards them. As it seemed to notice them, it slowed down to a trot and approached them confidently, but not aggressively. After some introductions, it seemed they were encountering a dreamer, who made his way somehow into the Feywild proper. As it turns out, he was a middle-aged hobgoblin named Rezso. He had escaped his family’s ruin, and was eking out an existence, but not doing what he loved to do…train and care for warbeasts. It had been years since he spent time with them, and he was finding this strange dream invigorating, as he could somehow transform into one here, giving him new insight while wearing their skin. Varigate offered him the opportunity to resume his dream if he could just make his way to Ancamir, a proposition to which he was delighted and thankful. As he turned to go, Varigate gently pushed him out of the Feywild, back into his dreams. The next morning Rykin (who introduced himself to Rezso as You may call me Al-Sahim in draconic) sent him a Message, making sure that he remembered the salient points of the dream, and that he should make his way to Ancamir, a town in the Dwarven Kingdom of Sharbizdin.

A short while later, the party found themselved in Thornvale, at the Inn of the Green Griffon (a surprisingly common establishment in all the worlds). While they ate and talked, Echo regaled the Inn Keep with tales of the outside, beginning to attract townspeople who heard the commotion and came to join in. As evening came, the larger crowd began to mingle, and Findorus noticed a man that could only be Wilmer, the Brass Dragon’s human guise. He went over to introduce himself to him and start up a conversation. They spoke of small topics, seeming to generally get along well, but when they were to depart, Findorus gave him some words of prophecy, warning him that True Love is sometimes difficult, and must be fought for. He found the statement curious…but vowed that he would think upon these words. Echo and Korrang, meanwhile were being questioned by various people and merchants, trying to find some hidden meaning as to why a Lord of Astrazalia and the Coral Court would be in such a place (as they believed such an event must have some import).

Realizing that all good quests begin in a tavarn, and start out in the morning, the group went on to have one of their most restful sleeps in a long time. In the morning they began to look for the White Well, heading towards Deepwood to the north. While travelling there, Korrang, as usual, was continually mapping their travals, though had little hopes that his maps of the Feywilid would be accurate in any sense of the word, when he discovered something most unusual. His maps seemed to be subtly changing as time went on. If he marked the group on the map, the next day when they’d left that place, the mark was ghostly and washed out. He would later find that his maps seem to shift and shrink or expand slightly as the landscape did to encompass the stories being played out. He was disturbed and fascinated to see how this would play out…

Their travel through the Deepwood seemed to be Auspicious TIming™. It seemed that they would reach the White Well on the night of the Full Moon, both significant to the Lady, and to Findorus and his Moonblades. Upon reaching that eventful night, they searched farther, and around midnight, saw the White Well shining brightly in a clearing. They came and introduced themselves to the Well, and stated their purpose. At the end, Varigate took a ring that his wife had made, and threw it into the well, saying that He offered it freely without return in exchange for the hospitality of the forest, and that it was made by his wife. Soon after she arose from the Lake, and greeted them all. After talking some with her, she was deeply concerned with the story they were telling her, and vowed that she would be vigilant. She said that she had heard the Dark Fabulists name mentioned on the wind, but had not turned her attention to him as of yet, but she would commune with the Moon this evening and see what information she could glean that would help set their path, as it was in her nature to set people upon their Destiny. Findorus also chose to tell her, that it was his Destiny, he believed, to see her freed from her curse, or to see the conditions of that curse fulfilled so that she might be free from her emprisonment. She looked at his strangely then and said…“I cannot say that this is not in your Destiny…and that is passing strange. Destinies cling to you like dew; There are so many paths before you that I cannot see them all or where they lead. However, I do know one thing, and I feel that I must fulfill Prophecy.” In the Feywild, Findorus had at first always called himself “One Whom the Moon Knows is Blessed by Destiny”, and she felt that that name was given tonight in light of the Full Moon. She asked for his Moon Blades and stepped into the White Well, proclaiming, “”/characters/findorus" class=“wiki-content-link”>Findorus, One of my many names is Destiny, and I would like to choose you as my Knight and representative to the Court of Stars. Let your Moon Blades show that you have my Blessing this night", as she dipped his Moon Blades into the water of Well, and drawing them out gleaming brightly. After this she bid them depart nearby so that she may commune with the Moon and learn of their paths. That evening, even more importantly than usual, Findorus meditated under the light of the full Moon.

In the morning, Varigate conspired to have a secret conversation with Echo, through the use of Echo’s telepathic gifts from Khirad. Varigate was conjecturing that…perhaps FIndorus would free her from her Imprisonment, because HE was the Lady’s True Love™. And…since Varigate was sometimes a little too blunt, perhaps Echo should nudge Findorus into finding out more about her and perhaps striking up a conversation. Echo seemed to at least agree in principle, so spoke to Findorus about the new duties the Lady imposed upon him, and that perhaps it would be a good idea to discover more about what his new Patron might be like or what things she felt were important. Findorus agreed, and had recently been realizing that, during the day, he could see the Lady sitting by the edge of her Well, dipping her fingers into it’s clear water. No one else seemed to be able to see her, and he got the impression that this was sort of an open invitation, so he went over to chat with her. They Lady always is interested in hearing tales of the outside, since she can’t leave her Well, and was even more interested in hearing about the life of her new Knight from his own lips. She also spoke of her own hopes and dreams, and the things she would like to do upon leaving the Well…someday. After much pleasant conversation, she begged off saying that she must consider the things she learned the previous night if she were to be able to guide them truly when she saw them all again this evening.

That evening when she met them, first thing she said was that she had a gift for Varigate wife. She said that she knows the gift was given freely, but she would see that such a skilled craftsman was given material commensurate with their skill. She took a small filigreed silver box and handed it to Varigate, along with a warning: Until what is in the box is finished being made, it must never see the light of day, and only be worked on under moon, for it is an ingot of solid moonlight, and would surely melt away in the light of the sun. Varigate again expressed that she had no need to give him anything in return, but he accepted graciously and expressed again that perhaps, when the time came, she could Use the ring (implying that it might be used as her wedding ring). She was taken aback by this, displaying a moment of surprise that is rarely seen. She recovered and then went on to tell the party that she believed that she has discovered that the Dark Fabulist has his sanctuary somewhere to the East int he mountains, perhaps a Keep or Cave, but that he has also sent minions to gather an ingredient from the Great Eagle King to the Northeast. She then became somewhat alarmed when she realized that Whisper had been behind Rykin all this time, and she was immediately filled with sternness and anger, outlining Whisper in an aura of silvery light causing him to cringe away. Rykin tried to explain the misunderstanding, and claimed fault in that he should have announced that Whisper was there when they entered, but neglected to mistakenly, but not out of any malice. She recovered and accepted his apology, though this event gave him some pause and a warning that a similar outcome might occur where he to neglect to mention the rich and powerful that he had brought a deadly invisible assassin into their presence. After this, The Lady said that she did realize one other thing, that there was one Destiny that she needed to lay at someone’s feet today. She will say that she had been given this in safekeeping, to hand it down to the person for whom it was foretold when she arrived. She realized now that this was Callie, and asked her to step forward, handing her a pendant. She seemed somewhat taken aback, but accepted the pendant gravely.

The group took their leave from the White Well and the Deepwood the next morning and discussed how they would proceed. It was decided that they should travel to Thornvale, to hear tales of the Great Eagle King, and to see how they should approach him. However, they felt that time was of the Essence, so Echo put forward the possibility of him taking them upon the Star Path to their destination. While it would be dangerous, it would be quick, and it would allow them to reach the heights of the Great Eagle King’s Domain without impossible amounts of climbing. As they entered town, Korrang was met by a courier, saying he had a package for him. Inside was a note from the Court of Coral, stating that it has come to the Court’s attention that he was seen to be out and about without proper clothing that befit his station, so the Court sent him this cloak as a gift. It was a Grey Rain Cloak, crafted from a rainy afternoon, and could be laid on the ground to form a pool of purest rainwater, but kept one dry when worn as a cloak. The group then split up, some going to the market, others tracking down information on the Great Eagle KIng so they might continue on their great venture.

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Truenames and Dreams

Most of the party’s efforts over the next few weeks were spent availing themselves of the Vault. Researching various topics of interest, including how best to help out with Aladris’ issues.

Echo was able to uncover that the Tiefling who he heard last owned the Ring of Air Elemental Command, named Silence, was last heard as settling down in Lashiim, around the time the city was coming into its own. As this is a city of Undead, there’s many possibilites associated with this information. He could be undead now and still owning it, he could be dead and have put the ring in his crypt, he could have sold it, or had it stolen/retrieved by one of the Undead in the city, among others.

Findorus, meanwhile, was trying to uncover how he could best “fix” the Tale of the Broken Heart. He hatched a plan involving the use of his self-proclaimed powers of Time Manipulation, unknowingly tapping into a true part of his nature, and Varigate and Echo’s truenames. Varigate seemingly has an ability to transcend planar boundaries, or at least so far those that are closer to the world, while Echo seems to have an innate tie to Songs and Stories. It was his plan to have Varigate bring their dreaming selves into the Feywild, while Echo tried to push them into the story he desired to be a part of, and he freed them from temporal constraints, allowing them to go to the beginning of the story. They tested this out on another short story in Minreth and Gerards past, and it was a smashing success, more so than they originally intended. Instead of just their dreaming selves going into the Feywild, they went body and all. Feldon discovered their disappearance while checking on them, but luckily enough they came back in a few short hours no worse for the wear.

Tomorrow night they plan to go for the real story now, and give the Tale of the Broken Heart a new ending…and perhaps a new title…However, when the group appears in the Feywild, they have yet to plan out how they are going to find the Dark Fabulist? How did he break True Love’s bond in the first place? How can they stop him from doing it?

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A Revisionist Tale
The Downfall of the Dark Fabulist, Pt. 2

The group had the idea to try and reclaim the Feywild half of the Vault by entering with the intention to be on a quest or task to do so (as opposed to wandering around or exploring). They felt that this would twist the intentions of the Feywild in their favor, helping them towards victory. Echo also found out that the next Volume he was looking for was in that section of the library, so he was decided. Everyone decided it would be best to have a good night’s rest, and Findorus wanted to read the Minreth and Girard tale “The Tale of the Broken Heart” to see if it had any relevance to their current endeavors. One thing they did learn was that the main villain in that book was created through the efforts of a being called “The Dark Fabulist”, a dark sorceror who broke the bond of True Love™.

Echo thought it would be best to at least take a look through some of the other fiction tales they had access to to see if they could learn anything more about the Dark Fabulist. After using his Summarize ability, he was able to uncover that the Dark Fabulist showed up a few times here and there, but always as the power that created the main antagonist of the story, or the background entity that created the starting conditions of the story, never as the main Antagonist himself. While they were doing this, they encounted dark counterparts to the small paper constructs that populate the rest of the Vault, as one of them snuck up behind Findorus and lept into his bag of holding. After some attempts, he was able to successfully extract the guy before he could do much damage. They found that he started going through Findorus’ books, crossing out all of the positive adjectives that were used to describe the hero. Echo, combining his Sense of Story™, and his mending magics, was able to restore the books to their pristine condition.

At this, it was decided that the best plan was to just continue forward, searching for the Dark Fabulist. When they reached the first juncture, they came accross a human-sized inky origami golem holding a book which they recognized (somehow) as the original version of the Tale of the Broken Heart (before being corrupted by the Dark Fabulist). Whenever they tried to get close, however, the golem ran off very fast, clearly trying to entice the group away from where they were headed. Findorus believed that since he couldn’t catch the golem, he clearly was not Meant™ to catch the golem, and they should just ignore it and move on. They eventually reached a courtyard, filled with a forest. Findorus cried out a warning to whomever was trying to stop them, and immediately a beholder shot a disintegrating ray at the group, felling a number of trees in the process and clearing out a large space in the courtyard. While the beholder did not seem to give them much of a challenge (luckily it was not able to bring it’s disintegration eyestalk to bear – and Korrang’s starlight kept stunning it), immediately afterwards, they saw a dark shape blot out some of the stars in the sky. An inky paper dragon swooped down, covering everyone in inky acidic breath. As the dragon was damaged, they saw that the darkness seemed to be removed from the area somewhat, uncovering a tower at the center of the clearing. By the time the dragon had been taken care of, the tower was revealed for them to enter.

As soon as the group tried to enter tower, they all seemed to be overcome with a feeling that their Destiny™ was to be elsewhere, and that entering the tower would be a waste of their time. While only Echo and Feldon succumbed to this feeling, everyone else was so adamant about entering that they decided to go with their original plan of sticking together. The feeling evaporated as soon as they walked through the door, showing them a tower filled to the brim with bookshelves around the walls, tier upon tier, and lecterns with faintly glowing pages and books. At the center of the room stood an inky black figure shrouded. “So ”/characters/findorus" class=“wiki-content-link”>Findorus, we meet again, here your story ends!" He used his story altering powers to try and control the group, but their sense of Destiny™, or in Korrang’s case, his sense of the Absurd™, nullified most of his attempts. As they struck him, the inky blackness stuck to him kept being blasted off, revealing more and more homespun cloth underneath, like that of a peasant. As things became more tenuous for him, he summoned a herd of nightmares to his aid, essentially just as he was taken down. All that was left was the body of a peasant boy who’s last words were “”/characters/findorus" class=“wiki-content-link”>Findorus, I thought you were on OUR side!…“. Once he was felled, the group dispersed the Nightmares without engaging them, allowing them to retreat back into dreams. Along with the Volume that ”/characters/echo" class=“wiki-content-link”>Echo was looking for, the group also found some condensed Literary Elements, and a small unassuming book with no title. Upon inspection Echo discovered that the book was the story of a Knight looking for True Love™, who became enamored with and settled for a peasant girl, taking her back to live a life Happily Every After. Appended to the end of the book in a poor scrawl, someone amended the story, telling of how a peasant boy’s life was destroyed by this callous Knight, so he left to win back his girl, but came instead upon the LIbrary of Fantastic Tales. He found himself this tower and using the power of the library, began amending tales to make up for what was done to him, ruining the lives of Protagonists™ everywhere. Echo added to this tale a story about his deathbed realization that what he’d done was wrong, and how his downfall destroyed the Library’s tower, sending it back to the Mists of Possibility, keeping others from using it’s power for their own ends, and allowing stories to control themselves again.

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Anstruth
Part II

Our heroes recovered themselves after defeating the Sepulchral Guardians and began a search in earnest for the volume of Minreth and Gerard’s tales in which is told the tale of the Broken Heart; the story of a bronze dragon who loved an elf with true love which was then broken by an evil sorceror. While they found many volumes of their tales, some of which Echo was able to find hidden within other collections, they never came across that particular book. Korrang tried going further into the Feywild portion of the Vault to see if there were more rooms, but he kept getting lost in a maze of halls that kept turning back upon themselves until he decided to turn back and rejoin the group.

They then decided that searching the other hallway was the best course of action. After making camp for the night in the central hall, they made their way down the hallway, almost immediately coming to an interesting scene. Books were strewn across the hallway thrown about and lying on the floor, with the first book being a spellbook. “Who would do such a thing!” cried Korrang, tossing the spellbook to Echo to catch. As soon as he opened it, the pages flew out forming into a Living Spellbook (or Paper Wraith as Rykin took to calling it). The Living Spellbook sent out a thunderous wave, knocking everyone close except Korrang back and tossing the pages all around the floor into the air, where they started flying around creating a Swarm of pages. The party quickly found that the pages were vulnerable to Fire damage and slowed by water. Korrang told everyone else to get out of the way, and for Rykin to center a fireball on him, as he had no fear of flames. Varigate as well, had fear of little, and Rykin’s flames even less, so he opted to stay as well. Rykin chose not to shape his blasts around them, catching them and the vast majority of the Paper Swarm in his fireballs. After several of them the Swarm was but ash and scraps, but not before a single one of the pages had separated from the pack and origami turned into a bat flying down the hall. Quick as thought, Korrang dashed out and snatched the struggling bat in his fist, covering his hand in tiny papercuts before he viciously unfolded the paper, silencing the tiny beast. On the paper was written a multitude of instructions, which Korrang recognized as very similar to the Zholish Gnome’s writings on the creation of paper golems. The group began to suspect Erryn might have been the one to come here and steal the knowledge of their construction, citing it as his own discovery. After listening to a few rousing and restorative songs sung by Echo , they decided to press onwards.

The continued down the hall, and coming to a door decided that they should check all the rooms out before heading inwards. The door, however, pushed back against their attempts to open it. It was unlocked, but something on the other side was keeping it closed. Not to be outdone by a simple door, Varigate stepped forward and dashed the door open, throwing several clumps of paper across the room. The clumps then reformed themselves into tiny origami humanoids and ran to the corners of the room, climbing up bookcases and slipping between things. The room seemed to be filled with practical carpentry books, and books on wood-working; dry, dull stuff, if incredibly useful. While they were searching, one of the paper people jumped to the floor and made a run for the door, but wasn’t able to get very far before being snatched up by Korrang. The group debated what to do, and with a suggestion from Felden, decided to let the little guy run to is master, or at least in that direction, and Felden would stop it before it got anywhere interesting. A few minutes later Felden came back seemingly distressed and said he was really sorry, and didn’t mean to kill “Fred”, he thought he was just paper. The paper that made up “Fred” seemed to be instructions like with the bat, but the page was literally filled with tiny script all seemingly framed in the first person, naming itself Fred first off, and describing it’s duties, most of which were upkeep of the Vault, destruction of vermin, and to tell Alleraxerondoal if anything untoward were to happen.

The group found that the rest of the rooms in this section were very similar in that they were blocked by little paper people, and all contained practical construction knowledge, until they hit the first locked brass door. There was a place for a key, but there was no way for them to open it. They had no key, and while Echo was confident he could have picked it if they were to conjure up some Thieve’s Tools, they decided to ask Whisper if he could do some reconnaissance first. Whisper intoned that he could look around, but probably wasn’t strong enough to reliably lift a key into lock if even one was lying around inside, and also that he wasn’t sure what “reading” was, and didn’t really understand all of the dead plants lying around not rotting. He moved into the room silently, barely ratting the locking mechanism, and came out about 5 minutes later. He described a somewhat different room than the previous ones. It contained more paper, but less “books”, and the paper that he could see seemed to be more very poor representations of places or things and were filled with curvey little lines. Rykin decided to cast Knock afterall, and as soon as the door open, Korrang cried a single tear of pure joy. (Something Echo might have wanted to bottle if he was of a mind). The room was filled with maps and atlases. On one wall was a huge map of the known world under glass, but with a couple of different features. There was no Shadow Vale on the map, which consisted mostly of Geographic features, and there also seemed to be a path leading to the far East into the sea to a place “Where star and wave meet…”

While in this room, they noticed something different about its inhabitants. They all seemed to have splashes of color on them in places. One of them came out when Findorus called out wanting to talk to them, and it had a compass rose in black and red ink where one of it’s eyes would have been. It deigned to answer some yes or no questions for the group, nodding or shaking it’s head and pointing or crumpling into a question mark when it was confused. Sometimes it didn’t seem to understand some words used, conferring with it’s companions, but seemed to answer to the best of it’s ability while letting them know it thought all the books and maps should remain HERE.

The group decided to checkout the double doors that Fred was heading towards finally. When they entered they found a huge space, at least 3 stories tall surrounded by columns and bookshelves around the edge. When they fully entered the space, paper flew out from between all the books, forming into a large Paper Dragon, calling the party defilers and thieves (To which Echo took MUCH offense). Echo threw a brilliant blue fireball at the tail of the beast, burning off it’s top layer of protective armor there, while the rest of the group hacked and slashed at it’s paper body. The dragon retaliated by breathing a stream of cutting confetti that tore and slashed. As the battle reached it’s height, Findorus and Rykin began questioning it’s actions, with input from the rest of the group. However, Rykin’s words seemed to change it’s mind and stay it’s hand. The dragon was VERY confused by this as it knew that it wanted to destroy them moments before. He became even more confused when he found “Listen to Rykin” in purple ink written on his clawed hand, where such a command was not before. In the end, Rykin seemed to stall for time as he argued with the beast until he made a promise as a follower of Bahamut, which caused a reaction from the far doors. A Draconic humanoid came out, covered in bronzy scales somewhat covered in a mottling of greenish patina, calling for the dragon to stand down and introducing himself as Alleraxerondoal.

He told the group that he was cursed by Bahamut to protect this place for transgressions he had made in his youth (a story that Echo had thought he remembered after hearing that name before). His job was to protect this Vault and it’s contents against those who would take knowledge from here. He didn’t mind the information getting out, and in fact would be in favor of that, he just didn’t want the knowledge getting out and then lost. He agreed to allow the group to copy whatever they wanted from here, and to help them find some books that were part of the libraries contents as long as they agreed to help him either add to the Vault or take copies of the books within out with them.

He thought that the book that Echo was looking for was in the library but he’d have to look and see where it was. Findorus asked him if he had the Minreth and Gerard book he was looking for, but also wasn’t sure and in either case it would be in the lost Fiction section of the Vault, which was a dangerous place to go into. Instead, he guessed that he might have something which would help. He brought out a mighty and heavy tome, covered in metal bindings. He instructed Findorus to speak the name of the book he wanted and then open the book. When he did so, he found the pages filled with the contents of the book he wanted. “Al” called it the book of Infinite Pages, and said that it could hold any number of pages of writing. All one had to do would be to key the book with a phrase (the title of the book or something else), then write the contents into it’s pages which would forever be held under that command word. When another word was spoken, it would show the contents of the pages stored under that phrase, or an empty book if it was an unused phrase. They could take it with them as a beginning to their recompense for helping him with the Vault. Korrang agreed to see if it might work out that his order could help take over Al’s charge.

Little does the group know that they may just have to deal with the Feywild infestation in the Vault sooner rather than later, or that it could be run by a dark inky counterpart to Alleraxerondoal… Or would that just be how a story would end?

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Anstruth!
Breaking and Entering?

The next morning, the party headed through the broken door, and immediately, Findorus began looking for clues in the refuse left behind. Among some supplies, he found a hastily scrawled scrap of paper, seemingly ripped from a journal accidentally. The journal scrap said the following:

I have almost opened the compass. I believe it’s my destiny, but everyone else just laughs at me. I think I’ve found they key, it has to do with roses or red or something like that…

Findorus, clearly felt a spiritual connection to this nameless person, and felt that now it was HIS destiny to find this compass. They began searching through the “vault” as we’re calling it, and the area near the front definitely seemed like it had been picked over. One of the first rooms they entered was clearly a library and filled with a mixture of destroyed and pristine books. While searching around, Findorus found a pillar in a niche with a finely wrought compass under a bell jar that couldn’t seem to be lifted by ordinary means. He and Rykin were planning on using some divination to uncover more, until Korrang pointed out that maybe they should look at the clue they already found… Reminded of the clue he found moments earlier, Rykin suggested that Findorus try his blood, as that has worked as a sort of key in the past. The blood immediately flowed off the glass to the base of the bell jar, unlocking it. Claiming the compass, Findorus found that the back contained the engraving: “What is meant to be always finds a way…” He tested out the compass with several questions, finding that help to free the immortals in Aladris was further down the corridor, as was aid to defeat Rykin’s father, while the north was where lay the being who summoned the Invisible Stalker to kill them. It was found that only questions about the future or your destiny were answered, and questions about the past or the present did not seem to cause the needle to move at all.

Slightly further into the building they found locked doors that had been ripped off their hinges. In one of the rooms, books were taken off of shelves and clearly stacked into separate piles, with a space for one pile missing. The books seemed to have something to do with magic item creation, and possibly golem creation was mentioned, or at least animated creatures of some sort.

The group continued searching around the section, in one room with philosophically minded books Rykin was able to find 3 magic tomes, on the study of which one would gain proficiency in a specific saving throw (int, cha and str). The party had found that woody vines were starting to grow further into the corridor outside this room, and while Rykin was detecting magic, Echo decided to cast Arcane Eye and explore further down the hall safely. The eye saw that the woody vines became thicker as you went further, up to a point where the eye could no longer pass, as if there was a wall. It could see blurrily that further in there was a shiny mass of something on the ground, but he couldn’t tell where or exactly what it was. Instead he turned the eye around to start exploring the nearby corridors further back, until he realized that he wanted to find the local teleportation circle. After scouring the area outside the building, they uncovered it in a nearby clearing. Rykin and Echo decided to go off to memorize it’s symbols so they would have a way back to here if they got trapped on the other side of what they supposed was a planar boundary.

Almost immediately after Rykin and Echo left, Korrang decided to not wait and headed off down the corridor, to which Varigate just grabbed his axe, Barchan, and followed. They passed the area the eye couldn’t pass and found the mangled corpse of a brass golem, with clawed hands. This seemed like the creature that helped break open the main door and various inner doors the group has found so far. In addition, they found a few other doors and open library rooms, finding that all the local rooms were filled with fiction books of various kinds. Korrang grabbed a random book, seeming at this point to feel eyes watching him…After determining that there was no immediate danger, they rejoined the group, and Korrang handed the fantasy tale to Findorus, the title of which was “The Further Tales of Minreth and Gerard: The curse of the grave and other stories”. They had been looking through the nearby rooms finding the rest of them to be fiction novels, but all seemingly historical or dramatic fiction rather than tales of adventure, so Findorus was overjoyed to find these tales finally.

With everyone back together they decided to explore the hallways covered in woody vines. Going through the area, they found most of the rooms filled with fiction titles of various types. The queried the compass again and it gave them a slightly different direction to head down the hall towards, so they continued looking for anything interesting. When they turn a corner in that direction they hear the sounds of battle, and then finally a cry came up “Minreth, no!” Hearing the sound of these fictional heroes, everyone rushed forward. They found a human warrior, who they later realize is Gerard, standing protectively over the body of an elven wizard (Minreth). They were beset upon by a half dozen heavily armored undead warriors wielding black spears. The battle was frought with peril as the group discovered that their blades carried a heavy curse, weakening them tremendously with each blow. At one point, one of the Sepulchral Guardians found an opening in Korrang’s defense and aimed his spear directly for his heart. Korrang threw up a wall of earth to soften the blow, though that was not enough to stay the hand of the undead, and the point of his spear pierced his chest, seeking to go even deeper when out of nowhere Gerards blade flashed out, severing the arm of the undead guardian. Instead of a much worse fate, this left Korrang in the unique position of being slowed to the speed of the rest of the group, no longer flitting about the battlefield without a care, his heart being weighed down by the chill of the grave. However, with well-timed use of his bardic abilities, Echo was able to turn the tide of the battle, enabling a victory. With the last of his strength, Minreth cast a spell that stopped the guardian’s corpses from dissolving away after they were defeated. Girard explained that they needed the bones of these creatures to use as an antidote to the Crypt Fatigue curse they laid upon those they harmed. The group busied themselves exchanging tales of derring-do and butchering undead while they waited for Minreth to rouse to consciousness. They asked Girard how long he’d been traveling with Minreth, and he reckoned it was about 5 winters or so, though they’d been very busy in that time, with nary a minute of rest before having to rush off to save someone else from a fate worse than death.

Once roused, Minreth crafted the antidotes which he had previously prepared, curing everyone in the group afflicted with Crypt Fatigue. He also seemed to know everyone’s name, but when questioned, he claimed that it was because he had read the Book of Names, hidden away on another plane that took him years to reach, but was sworn not to tell others where. The group also questioned him, and he gave somewhat more…reasonable answers, noting that while Gerard thought it was but 5 winters, the time they’d spent together might be reckoned differently by other people, and that it was a more fluid prospect. He also knew that right now everyone was in the Feywild, and it was where they were ultimately from. While talking with Gerard, they spoke about Dragon fighting tactics, and he told the group that one other way to combat them was to have them occupied with an army while the group snuck into his lair and destroyed or stole the source of his power, leaving him somewhat less puissant upon his return. Minreth expanded upon this, and asked for the name of said Red Dragon. Upon learning this, he reached into his right sleeve, taking out a book seemingly composed of different schemas, wrote in Menaxalavoss’ name and handed the page to the group, saying that it was a schema that would work but once, and would create an Arrow of Menaxalavoss Slaying. While it may not actually kill the beast outright, it would severely weaken him, enabling a victory. The group thanked him, and they took their leave; having to rush off to cure a buxom lass who had originally contracted the Crypt Fatigue before she perished.

While they were in the room waiting for Minreth to rouse, Korrang had Findorus search with the compass for where they could find help with Aladris, and at the time it pointed at Rykin. After they left, Korrang thought something was up, so he had Findorus check again, and it now seemed to point slightly behind Rykin, at the Invisible Stalker, whom Rykin has now named Whisper. Whisper offered some of his thoughts on the matter, and thought that perhaps it meant that Rykin’s interaction with him enabled him to get a better handle on his Truename, allowing him to be of better aid in their endeavors, whatever they may be. He also pointed out, for his safety, that he’s incapable of betraying Rykin or the group’s interests, as he will die without a purpose, and when he dies, he will be born again as a different entity completely, with no ties or memories to this incarnation, so would they please not kill him upon realizing he’s been listening all this time.

The group then decided that Gerard and Minreth said that these creatures were guardians of some sort, so they much have been guarding something. They found a secret alcove behind a bookshelf that contained a set of robes, a circlet and a wand. The robes were clothing of Mage Armour, the circlet a Circlet of Intellect, and the wand was a strange new device. When one cast a spell into the wand, it retained the energy of that spell, sequestering it away from the caster until such time as it was cast again from the wand. However, anyone can use the wand, and would act as the caster of the spell in question. The group then decided to rest for a moment before continuing their exploration into the heart of the Bardic College of Anstruth!

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In Search of the Bardic Colleges - Part 3
In which the party enjoys T-rex Steaks

After a quick stopover in Kuuma to visit Echo’s family’s mines, the group headed east towards the unnamed island where the college of Anstruth was said to lie. The group spent a relatively pleasant 2 weeks on the open ocean before finally spotting land.

The island was heavily jungled and warm, and Echo let the rest of the group know that very few people bother coming out this far, as the island is said to be covered by dinosaurs, and is too far away from everything to be worth the effort.

Callie turned into a pegasus in search of the path (and dinosaurs to observe to expand her repertoire). She spotted some flying pterodactyles hunting, and then was able to spot a mass of vegetation that he thought might be the college ruins. Since the college was abandoned like 800-1000 years ago, it would be completely obscured at this point.

The group went inland, trailblazing, when they came across some tracks they were fairly sure were some carnivores hunting some herbivores, all huge-sized. They followed the tracks to a battle between a pair of tricerotops and their children vs 3 T-rex’s. Varigate sped into battle crying that he wanted to taste their flesh, and Rykin sped forward casting enlarge on the nearest Triceratops. The Tricerotops new size confused both it and it’s companions, causing them to back away from each other and the T-rex’s, giving Callie an opening to cast a wall of fire between the two groups, effectively cutting them off. One T-rex ran screaming from the wall of fire, the lack of prey and Echo’s vicious mockery, but not before Findorus was able to gracefully leap onto it’s back, holding on while it was running away. Findorus continued to engage this T-rex by himself, as clearly he was destined to do. Varigate, meanwhile, was snapped up by one of the T-rex’s. The other T-rex, not wanting a morsel to go, grab onto Varigate was still half in the mouth of the first one. Callie had transformed into a scorpion, and her sting laid both T-rex’s bare, while Varigate freed himself from their jaws, barely worse for the wear.

With the T-rex’s dispatched, meat and T-rex leather was had by all, though they found it somewhat bland; nothing like bullette meat. Afterwards the group continues the trail towards the supposed college site, and starts seeing the signs of ruins overgrown with plant life, cobblestones, etc.. In addition, they start seeing signs of camps here within the past few years (garbage, old circles of stones for a campfire, etc…). They decide to camp by an overgrown obelisk, with Echo casting a Tiny Hut.

While Rykin and Korrang are on watch, they both get attacked by some unseen foes. Korrang gets almost knocked out of the tree he’s watching from several times, but was able to hold his ground. Rykin was hit once, and then never again the whole combat. At this point, they’re both telling and everyone comes out to see what’s going on. Findorus remembers some message he had from his Truename about a cold wind from the north. Varigate smells a combination of pine needles, holly berries and a touch of snow, giving him a clue as to where the invisible assailants are. Findorus talks to his:

Findorus: Who are you
Invisible: I am your death.
Findorus: Who sent you?
Invisible: Something new..and old.
Findorus: I shall not die today, it is not my Destiny!
Invisible: You have no destiny.

They proceed to fight back and forth, Korrang employing a tactic of bending water so that it keeps splashing the creatures so they could somewhat see them. The group was able to eventually kill all the invisible creatures, when they realized there was one left, hovering over Rykin’s shoulder.

Rykin began speaking to it:

Rykin: Who are you
Invisible: I am…not?…your death?
Rykin: This is so frustrating!
Invisible: I am your frustration?
Rykin: No, no, the situation is frustrating not you.

Invisible: I…am your ally?
Rykin: No.
The Rest of the Party: OMG, just say yes when an assassin asks if your it’s friend!!

At about this point, Rykin kept waffling back and forth, and realizing that he was fulfilling his Truename Exceptionally Well, giving him some hints as to his Truname’s purpose. The group also realized the creatures were Invisible Stalkers, summoned elementals that fulfill a specific purpose, and somehow Rykin’s Truename interfered with that, confusing the Invisible Stalker. So for now, Rykin went to sleep with an Invisible Stalker that smells slightly of pine hovering over his head, and somewhat thinking that it’s his purpose to be Rykin’s Ally…

The next morning the group came upon a huge, vine-covered structure that they believe is the building they’re looking for. When they got around to the front, they see that the huge, banded doors where blown open somehow. There were marks of an explosion and huge claw marks showing that the door was broken into from the outside, and the inner hall had signs that it was clearly used as a temporary camp by someone within the past few years.

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