Bear Claws

61. Roll the Dice...
...who do you want to be today.

Characters: James, Roland, Xaladin, Thornside, Alton
Level: 18
Location: The Well of Worlds, Garaitha’s Anvil
NPCs: Amyria, Bejam, Emil, Pattie, Haryssus, Mary, Althaea, Izera, Thera, Jalissa, Glamor, Kira, Quelenna, Caliandra, Eoffram Troyas, Fariex the Scalehammer, Brik, Del, Galadorn, Lorne, McCross, Thoran, Megan Swiftblade, Sylen Leafrunner, Ragnum Dourstone, Ghenna Tenson, Madrick, Bede, Buttercup, Loovat, Misty, Brak, Blightfang, Nathyra, Conrad the Black, Rufus Cromley, Brin, Reniss, Tokk’it, Falrinth

The Bear Claws learn more about the Well of Worlds. It appears to be a True Portal and a scrying focus at the same time. When they return to the portal chamber they find the pool of healing water has turned into a substance that looks like a rich dark wine. Roland tastes it and his skin turns blue and his hair turns into a wave of water. He suddenly finds he can sense the liquid in the pool and that he might be able to manipulate it. He becomes a Water Genasi.

Thornside see this and takes a taste as well. He instantly gets ten years younger, resembling a 9 year old boy. Alton refuses to drink it but studies it and realizes that the chaos added to the pool has made its effects random.

Thornside takes another drink and gets lucky enough that he returns to his original age.

Xaladin is tempted but he doesn’t drink from the pool. Thornside and Roland bottle up some of it for later use.

Amyria and Bejam come through the portal with the Coalition leaders. Quelenna, Troyas and Caliandra are upset that Amyria is using Coalition resources to attack the githyanki. They think that those resources would be better used to bolster defenses of Coalition lands. James punches her in the face. Roland calls him off and gives her a healing potion which Thornside adds a drop from the pool to. Quelenna drinks the potion and turns into a githyanki. Everyone is shocked and Roland tells them that the chaos of the area has messed with the healing potion and it will go away in a few days.

Quelenna believes and Amyria puts her off by asking to speak in private with the Bear Claws. She tells them that nothing will get done if the Coalition has a say. She wants the Bear Claws to rally everyone together to go fight the githyanki.

The Bear Claws use the Well of Worlds to scry on Quick — who is being reprimanded along with Pug. They also look for a key to the Well of Worlds. They find one on Admiral Kada’ne, a githyanki leader who appears to be inside of a giant shipyards that is built on the inside of a sphere.

Bejam tells them that with Haryssus’ help and a couple days study he can give them one use of the Well of Worlds to go anywhere they want. Amyria wants to send the 100 heroes that are there, into the shipyards as a distraction while the Bear Claws get the key then return to one of the dozens of linked portals in the shipyard.

The Bear Claws rally the troops to the disgust of Quelenna. Fariex the Scalehammer joins them and reveals himself to be a copper dragon and says he will join the battle.

The Bear Claws step through the portal to see Kada’ne’s ship lifting away from the docks and fleeing toward the astral portal high above. All about the shipyard chaos reins. Fariex swoops about, spitting acid at nearly finished ships while Emil and Pattie cling to his back sniping at githyanki as he flies past. Other heroes can be seen fighting in different places all about the shipyard.

The Bear Claws board a smaller, faster ship and take off after Kada’ne. They catch him just as their ship is disabled by the blasts of lightning coming from Kada’ne’s ship and the attacking dragon knights.

The gityhanki cast out boarding lines and lash the two ships together as they drift ever nearer to the astral portal. The ghityanki attack and the Bear Claws respond in kind nearly wiping out the githyanki. Kada’ne, getting frustrated that his crew was being wiped out before his eyes moved in for the attack. James met him head on and Kada’ne sliced him up and left him unconscious on the decks of the Cev’ren. He leaped over to the Bear Claws ship and did the same to Xaladin.

Roland and Thornside backed away shooting at him and he went down with an arrow through the leg, pinning to him to the deck of the ship.

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60. Roger, Roger...
What's our Vector, Victor

Characters: James, Roland, Jak, Xaladin, Thornside, Althaea
Level: 17
Location: The Fane of Chanhiir, The Well of Worlds
NPCs: Talanee, Amyria, Bejam, Emil, Pattie

Talanee and her githyanki tidy up the place by gathering all the bodies into a single room. Then they remove the force field protecting the portal at the center of the building. Talanee explains that this is a portal that allows people to move between planes at will and is linked to an ancient, extra-planar place called the Well of Worlds.

Her and her people go through the portal but the Bear Claws can’t tell where they went. They send a sending to Amyria to tell her what they found and she asks for the portal sigils. After James sends them to her she comes through the portal followed by Bejam, Althaea and Emil and Pattie.

Bejam and Althaea set to understanding the portal right away, arguing about the theory and the magic involved. While they work the portal is kept active the Coalition leaders come through as well as a steady flow of adventurers and people that the Bear Claws have known — all gathered by Amyria to push back against the githyanki.

She asks the Bear Claws to organize the defense and guard posts for the fortress they are in, expecting the githyanki to try again to seize the World Gate — as the portal is called.

Althaea and Bejam take nearly three days to study the World Gate. In that time Thornside and Emil join up with Pattie to switch the clothing of the various adventurers.

One night Thornside has a dream about a wizard fleeing from a demon. The demon catches him and, even as he is torn apart he casts a spell that sucks the demon into his armor. Thornside wakes up to find his armor has swelled up to form a shadowy demon around him and it is speaking. The demon says he is getting stronger and will kill them all when he gets free. Then he insists that he will get free.

The voice is loud enough to wake his friends up and they discuss various way to remove his armor including killing him and raising him afterward. He refuses the last offer when they tell him he will have to pay for his own raise dead ritual.

Amyria comes and tells them that Althaea and Bejam want to talk to them. She leads them to a library, this one with dozens of intact books. Althaea and Bejam have set up a study and want to explain what they have learned.

Through the technical talk and babble they reveal that the World Gate is linked to another place, the Well of Worlds which can be used to move about the planes or anywhere in the world. They also reveal that the only way to use it is to be a githyanki… or to have a special tattoo.

They want to know if the Bear Claws are willing to go the Well of Worlds to clear it out and make sure it’s safe so that they can move on the githyanki.

The Bear Claws get their new tattoos and move through the portal where they find a group of githyanki drinking water from a pool. They look as if they’ve just come from a battle. Roland tries to talk to them but they quickly recognize that he should not be there and attack. Jak spends most of the battle unconscious. But the Bear Claws succeed in killing the githyanki.

They quickly learn that the Well of Worlds is a dimensionally confusing place, doors in opposite ends of a room both lead to the same room and rooms seems to be occupying the same space as each other.

In the third room they encounter some guardian beasts that nearly kill Thornside by jumping out of the mirrors and transporting him to another dimension.

Xaladin is able to communicate with him and explain that killing the beast is the only way to get back to the rest of the Bear Claws.

Beneath the grated floor of that room they descend down a spiral stair to a room with a study. An eldritch giant sits, chained to the table, working on books and scrolls. She introduces herself as Haryssus and has been chained for three hundred years. She maintains the Well of Worlds and tells them that they need a key to operate it and the keys are all held by the leaders of the githyanki.

James sends a message to Amyria telling her that the Well of Worlds is clear.

Her response: “We’re on our way.”

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59. It looks like a cute little bunny...
...but tastes like githyanki.

Characters: James, Roland, Jak, Xaladin
Level: 17
Location: Sayre
NPCs: Birkeni, Talanee, Megan Swiftblade, Sylen Leafrunner, Ragnum Doustone, Ghena Tenson, Madrick

Roland discovers information about the Reigar who claim that they have mastered the Elemental Chaos and can create beauty and shape reality with it.

The Bear Claws travel to Corwyn, the northernmost city in the Coalition lands. Corwyn is a mining town that is known for their opals. From there the watchtower of Thiradith is a three day hike into the mountains. The Bear Claws set out and James has never been happier, seeming to love the barren, rocky highlands.

As they approach the watchtower of Thiradith they see a loan half-elf watching them approach. He greets them as the watch commander and invites them in to share a meal with the soldiers there. Megan Swiftblade sees them and taunts them mildly before acknowledging that the Bear Claws did save her life once.

Jak stops to change into his new fancy duds before going in to the soldiers mess where they are served a hearty dinner of hard tack and salted pork. Jak sits down right next Sylen Leafrunner who is talking trash about the Bear Claws. He then daintily cuts and eats his food with his fork and knife.

The Bear Claws and the Freeriders agree to investigate the site where the githyanki were spotted. They agree to work together on the investigation and James asks Megan to decide when they will leave and where they will go.

One of the soldiers tells them that his patrol found three dead githyanki on the trail about a week ago and tells them where to find the trail.

They leave the next morning at dawn and quickly find the spot where the githyanki were killed. Blood still stains the rocks but the bodies are gone. Xaladin sniffs around and finds that, not only were the bodies carried away — which is unusual for githyanki — there is evidence that they caused a rockslide in their haste to get away from something. The rockslide hides a narrow trail that branches up into the mountains.

They decide to follow this new trail and soon come to a man-made building that is disguised to look like a natural bluff form a distance. Scouting around the building they discover there are two entrances with githyanki stationed at each entrance. The githyanki don’t seem to be concerned with anybody approaching their building as they are pretty casual and don’t have any patrols.

Megan proposes a friendly wager. She offers a bag of magical stones if the Bear Claws can get to the center of the building first. They offer her a translation gem as their end of the wager.

The Bear Claws attack the githyanki stationed at the entrance they chose and wipe them out almost before they can even react. Roland teleported them off a cliff and Jak scattered them like the charging bull he is. The last githyanki taunted Xaladin by calling him a dog and asking him to fetch a rabbit. Xaladin turned him into a rabbit and then ate him.

Inside the Bear Claws found a hallway with stairs. At the top of the stairs they found a room that was once a library but all the books in the room had been piled into the center and then burned, they were nothing now but a pile of ash.

In another room they found many statues of githyanki warriors that had been pulled down and broken in pieces. There were three dead githyanki in the room, clothed in robes and slain by blades.

Xaladin and Roland both felt like they were being watched.

A balustrade guared the edge of the room from a larger room twenty feet below that filled with many bedrolls and a couple of campfires. Around the farthest campfire sat six githyanki laughing and talking with each other.

Jak and James snuck down the stairs and charged the githyanki. They were caught by surprise but quickly recovered stabbing at Jak with their swords. Three githyanki specters rose up behind Roland and Xaladin. “Why do you desecrate our sanctuary,” and they struck at the two surprised Bear Claws. Both of them teleported away and the specters follows Roland who convinced them that the real desecrators were the other githyanki.

Once the githyanki were all dead the spirits returned to their statues to guard the room from further intruders. The Bear Claws opened a door to find nearly 30 githyanki in monks robes chained together in a dark room.

Their leader called himself Talanee and he said that followers of Zetch’r’r were here to “seize the Fane because we have denied him its use.” Talanee said that not all githyanki supported the false Emperor. He also said that the Bear Claws were great friends of the Empire because of the great good they had done this day in setting them free.

Talanee said that he and his people are the Chanhiiri, monks who guard this building and the secrets that it keeps. He tells them also that Zetch’r’r’s soldiers were in the center of the Fane, trying to remove the wards that were put in place there.

Talanee and his monks refuse to be left behind and come with the Bear Claws as they charge through the doors into the center of the building. In the room is a large force sphere, opaque with glowing light. Many githyanki are gathered around the sphere muttering rituals and incantations to try and break it. Across the room the doors burst open and Megan and Freeriders, bloodied but alive, stumble through. Megan sees the room full of githyanki then the Bear Claws on the other side and lets out a battle cry and charges forward with her sword raised.

Jak also rushes in and is immediately surrounded by githyanki, slashing at him with their swords. James lights them all on fire and Xaladin blows them away in the wind. Jak goes down before the githyanki are all dead. The Chanhiiri charge into the room and rush toward the Freeriders to help them with the githyanki that are setting about them. The room is chaos and githyanki fight each other and the Bear Claws and Freeriders finish off the enemies.

Sylen Leafrunner plants an arrow through the eye of the last githyanki and says, “I’m always cleaning up after your mess.”

Exhausted and covered in wounds Megan acknowledges the Bear Claws beat them to the center and gives them her bag of magical stones. They are a set of elemental stones. James sets about healing those wounded.

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Adventure Supplement 3: Journal of Hautamaryat Firebreath

Characters: Mary

I finally met my mother.

She is… different than I had supposed but now that I say that I find that the truth is that I had not supposed anything. My imagination, all my thoughts, have a void in the place where a mother should be.

I have had many parents in my life and none of them were real and all of them betrayed me, one way or another. Nathyra Bloodbane. She gave me away. Now she is here and I find that all I want is to be gone again.

Our lives are so different. Mine has been one of misplaced anger and constant betrayals. Hers has been one of seeking and never finding.

In my mind I pictured this. Finding her, happy and healthy in her home and asking her why, why did she leave me among Eladrin to be abused and banished and lost. Why did she give me away. I yelled and railed and spoke plainly in my righteous wrath.

I also saw her holding me with tears in her eyes as she welcomed me home, joyful to see me at last.

The truth is so much worse than the imagination and far more raw. Nathyra has spent far longer removed from me than I have from her. She is seasoned and old and not the type to tearfully welcome anybody and I find I have not the heart, nor the anger, to pile up on her my years of frustration and betrayal.

She is my mother but I am not her daughter. I am, somehow, something else.

I wish that I had somebody I could talk to.

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58. Rufus and the Secret Chord...
... by Rob Zombie

Characters: Thornside, James, Alton, Roland, Jak, Xaladin
Level: 17
Location: Sayre
NPCs: Mary, Amyria, Emil, Pattie, Telicanthus, Jeff

Cachlain pulls Xaladin down from the rafters and introduces him to Inzira, Daughter of the Frostwhite Forest. She holds up an icy white acorn on a platinum chain and thanks him for returning the Seed of Winter to her. She then shows him a mirror and when she lowers it they are in an icy white forest where she tells Xaladin to take Nathyra back to the Material Plane with him, Nathyra has made a deal with Inzira in order to be allowed to leave to look for Mary.

Back in Sayre Amyria comes to check on the Bear Claws and tells them that the githyanki have been strangely silent inside the Coalition lands. Outside of it the attacks continue and Amyria has messengers offering aid to any that will accept it but the offers travel slower than the news of the destruction.

Alton asks James to make him a magical item that will make him more awesome as a Hellbringer of Avandra. James says he will do some research on that.

Roland makes a trip to the library and talks with a dwarf about the Incanabulum Primeval. The dwarf doesn’t want to talk but eventually does. On the way back Roland sees Mary approaching the mansion and stops to talk with her before going inside.

When she comes in Jak goes to find Nathyra who has taken up wood carving at the prompting of Alton. Jak has her close her eyes and takes her out to meet Mary. Nathyr and Mary do not know each other at all but when they are told who the other is there is shock and awkwardness — neither of them knows how to react.

Thornside invites them to come back later for a feast. Emil and Pattie come to visit as well and Emil has been helping Amyria run the Coalition. He mentions that each of the members has their own agenda that gets in the way of things running smoothly. He tells them that Pattie is expecting… her family to come visit. Thornside and Xaladin think he is saying expecting a child which embarrasses Emil.

Pattie responds that she can’t have children because she might eat them.

Emil asks to speak to Alton in private and asks him what Malthazard asked of him in exchange for his power. Alton reluctantly explains that he destroyed his entire village in order to get the power that he wanted. Emil is shocked and admits that he made the deal expecting Malthazard to play fair and he is now scared about what may be required.

He leaves feeling troubled.

Rufus Cromwell sends a message by way of his zombie butler, Jeff. The message says that Lady Torrence has been to visit Telicanthus in prison and he claims that he has information for the Bear Claws.

They make a trip to the dank prison under the dam at the top of the city where Telicanthus has a well-appointed cell with plush carpet and comfortable chairs. He claims that there are no hard feelings between them and he can find a rebel githyanki faction if they will take him to the city of Tu’narath and set him free. They do not believe him but James escalates the discussion by tossing a large bag of excrement into the cell. Telicanthus immediately starts to gag and wretch and Roland summons a thunder storm that teleports the entire contents of the cell on top of James. Jak grabs Telicanthus and they have the guard show them to an interrogation room while James cleans up his mess.

They question Telicanthus some more but find that his information is of little use and that he is simply making a desperate try for freedom.

They return to the mansion and have an awkward dinner with Nathyra and Mary while the two of them struggle to find things to talk about. Nathyra is quiet and timid after decades of serving the Winter Queen first as a soldier and then as a house slave. Mary is open, intimidating and outspoken and they both come from very different worlds.

At the end of the dinner Amyria returns frustrated that the Coalition is so hard to deal with. She has heard reports of githyanki moving about on a mountain pass north of the outpost of Thiradith — the northernmost outpost of the Coalition. She asks the Bear Claws to go check it out because it coincided with the location of a githyanki camp that Cachlain told the Bear Claws about.

She gives them two scrolls of sending and the portal sigils for Corwyn — a city three days to the south of Thiradith.

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57. At the Village Inn
Known for their pies.

Characters: Mary, Jalissa, Althaea, Thera, Izera, Kira, Glamor
Level: 17
Location: Village
NPCs: Quick/Qeelak, Kava, Bardan

Mary and her friends struggle through the still frozen mountain pass to reach the village where her parents lived. As they approach through the thick, black forest a dark green, very large dragonborn steps from behind a tree and enquires after their intentions. Behind him is an older female in roves.

The older one, Kira, recognizes Glamor as the last descendent of the rulers of Tu’narath, whom she has sworn to destroy. She is immediately antagonistic toward the group because of Jalissa’s prattle about Bahamut and the tiefling who does nothing but egg her on.

The large dragonborn, Bardan, offers to take them to the new leader of the Village, Qeelak. Kira does not approve but follows along, keeping her eye on Glamor along the way. They pass by Kava’s house — the leader of the Village. She speaks to them briefly and tells Bardan to take them to Qeelak. Kava is the official leader due to being the oldest living person in town.

In the town square Qeelak is leading a group of the local dragonborn in practicing sword forms. He is a stocky and short dragonborn dressed like a paladin of Bahamut. When Bardan interrupts Qeelak wants to know what they are doing there. He is especially welcoming to Glamor until they start asking questions back. He accuses them of being spies and tells Bardan and Kira to take them to Kava’s house until he can finish what he is doing.

At Kava’s house they learn that Qeelak showed up about a month before and told them he had a mission from Bahamut to train them to ambush a party of evil adventurers. They also learn that Nathyra, Mary’s mother, is no there. She has been gone looking for Mary since shortly after Mary’s egg was taken away.

They also learn that Kira and Mary are cousins. Kira still doesn’t believe them. She thinks they are here under some pretense.

The young dragonborn knocks on the door and says that Qeelak is ready for them. As they approach the town square he is rehearsing the descriptions of the members of the party that the dragonborn are being trained to fight with. It is pretty clear that these descriptions are of the Bear Claws.

Qeelak wants to test the Daughters of IO against those he has trained. Mary asks Kira to join in the fight. She agrees but on the other side. The dragonborn square off across form the Daughters of IO and the fight begins. Izera runs into the middle and Kira immediately tries to focus her attacks on Glamor. Althaea summons monsters from the Elemental Chaos and Jalissa shines the light of Bahamut on her friends to keep them alive. Thera and Mary take turns hitting the dragonborn.

The battle only lasts a few seconds. When it is over Mary and Jalissa set about healing those who were injured, on either side.

She asks Qeelak to join and he refuses, claiming he has taken a vow to never be touched. Jalissa knows that there is no such vow among followers of Bahamut and it becomes clear why he has taken the vow a few minutes later when Kava comes up behind him and puts her hand on his shoulder. His image shimmers briefly and he turns on her, angry.

Kira notices the shimmer and realizes that Qeelak has been playing some kind of game on them all along. She attacks him and he realizes the game is up. He pulls the helmet off his head and throws it to the ground, changing into a tiefling (Quick — James’s nemesis), carrying daggers at his waist. He grabs Kava and takes her hostage while he pulls a scroll from his pouch.

As he shakes it out demons crawl out of the ground and climb about the Village, setting the thatched houses aflame as others tear about the square, tossing dragonborn around.

Althaea grabs Quick in an icy arcane hand and Thera, after throwing Glamor at him leaps across the square and throws him down with a thigh lock around his head. Kira races over and grinds his face into the mud while he struggles to pull another scroll from his pouch. Jalissa and Mary move about helping the villagers to fend off the demons. Izera helps keep some of the villagers alive using her quick blades and her divine power.

Quick finally gets his scroll out and he disappears but leaves behind a village full of angry villagers that are ready to rebuild as well as do something more active in the world. Thera suggests they start a fighting school and teach themselves to fight.

Bardan likes the suggestion and sounds as if he is thinking about it when they leave.

Mary is upset that she didn’t find her mother but is also, maybe a little relieved. She now knows that her mother didn’t just abandon her, something happened to her — which may or may not be good news.

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56. Virizan -- Nationwide Coverage
Even in the feydark.

Characters: Thornside, James, Alton, Roland, Jak
Level: 16
Location: Cachlain’s Court
NPCs: Cachlain, Sovocles

In Cachlain’s throne room Roland scares Sovocles into backing away. Jak comes in and does the same which prompts Sovocles to order Cachlain to attack the Bear Claws.

Thornside sneaks into the doorway to help with the fight and the Bear Claws quickly knock Sovocles back and into the fireplace where they continue to pummel him.

Cachlain, wakened from the stupor that has been put upon him, throws Sovocles into the center of the floor and blinks his large evil eye. The glass floor disappears and those who are standing on it fall into the arena below.

Cachlain shouts at them to fight and kill Sovocles for his betrayal in allying with the Sangwyr against him.

Sovocles body breaks when it hits the crystal floor but rises up in the form of a naga — a giant snake with a human face. He hisses at them. “You have broken my human form but now you will deal with who I really am, Virizan, the Green Exarch of Tiamat.”

Thornside tries to pull Alton to safety while Jak and James deal with the exarch. A group of Eladrin are busy with a captured treant that is chained in place nearby. Alton frees the treant, which by breaking its chains. Roland casts a spell that switches Alton with Cachlain. Thornside, now holding a rope with a twenty-four foot giant on the other end if pulled down into the arena.

Cachlain exchanges some blows with the treant before he teleports back to his throne, knocking Alton back down into the arena.

Meanwhile Virizan has gained control of Jak and forced him to attack James while the treant grabs at nearby creatures with grasping roots and pummels them with his wooden fists.

Virizan has many forms that he shifts into as he moves about the battlefield. A naga form that can strike at a distance with thunder spells, a swarm of snakes that crawl across creatures and bite them with their tiny fangs, a venomous mist that can fly quickly about the battlefield poisoning all it touches and a humanoid form that can move people around with spectral snake coils.

As the Bear Claws fight he shifts between the forms depending on which is more useful. Finally Jak kills the treant, having spent most of the battle either tied down by its roots or mentally dominated. Thornside makes a leap into the pit that surrounds the arena and runs along the wall of the pit to rise up behind Virizan. His shot kills the exarch’s snake swarm form and another shot kills his naga form.

Gravely wounded he threatens the Bear Claws. “I am not the most powerful of my lady’s exarchs. Even if you kill me you can’t kill all of us.”

Roland ends his life once and for all, melting him into a puddle of acid-melted flesh.

After the battle Cachlain takes them all back up to his throne room while the crowd goes wild. The characters succeed in brokering an agreement with Inzira. Cachlain will accept her help with the upstarts Sangwyr and she may use the Seed of Winter until then. Also, in exchange for freeing him of Sovocles/Virizan, Cachlain agrees to stop allowing the githyanki to travel through his portals. He also gives them a map that he found on the body of one of Bram’s guards. The map shows the location of a hidden githyanki outpost in the mountains north of the Elsir Vale.

The Bear Claws return to the natural world and back to Sayre to report to Amyria.

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55. A Bullette in Your Bram Pan
Squish

Characters: Thornside, James, Alton, Roland, Xaladin, Jak
Level: 15/16
Location: Cachlain’s Court
NPCs: Cachlain, Sovocles, Bram Ironfell

The Bear Claws look at their cramped quarters and Alton settles down on a bed to eat some snacks and ask Roland about why he uses Wild Magic instead of something more stable. Roland thinks the instability is what makes it so powerful.

Jak heads out into the hallway to practice with his ugrosh while Thornside breaks into the room next door, Xaladin goes to check out the banquet hall and James goes in search of a restroom.

James finds directions to a restroom but sees an envoy going in to Cachlain’s throne room and follows them in. The envoy is there to talk to Cachlain about shared slaving resources and James quickly grows disinterested as Sovocles haggles with them.

Thornside finds a locked chest in the neighboring room with a Ironfell pendant and some fancy clothing inside. Thornside takes the clothing and pendant and locks the chest behind him.

As he comes back in the hallway James and Xaladin are just returning from their excursions and ground starts to quake and tremor. James identifies the sound and quaking as coming from something tunneling through the rock and crystal.

Jak takes a fighting stance and gets ready to fight whatever is coming when a bullette smashes through the wall into the entryway followed by a drider and several drow shouting out Sangwyr’s name.

The drider takes to the ceiling and the drow rush into the room behind her. Thornside runs away screaming about being attacked only to come face first with two purple nightmare creatures and a githyanki. The githyanki attacks Thornside and his screams turn to cries for help.

Roland unleashes his Wild Magic and only hits Alton. The drider, once dead rises up from the floor and begins attacking once more. The drow go down quickly but are followed by fiery bats that swoop about and light the Bear Claws on fire.

Thornside flees from the githyanki and his companions but one of them changes shape so that he looks exactly like Thornside.

Roland teleports Thornside so that he switches places with the drider which makes her angry enough that she attacks Roland. He stabbs the Thornside look-alike in the eye with a dagger full of lightning. Thornside and Jak rush in finishing off the drider, the purple monsters and the githyanki but not before the githyanki cut down Roland and nearly killed him.

While the Bear Claws rest and try to recover from their encounter Cachlain’s slaves come into the banquet hall bearing trays of food. They stop and stare shocked at the carnage.

Behind them, talking softly is a dwarf with two githyanki bodyguards. The dwarf looks up and sees the Bear Claws, turns pale and tries to flee. The Bear Claws recognize Bram Ironfell and Jak makes a grab for him. Thornside shoots him with an arrow and draws another one.

At that moment Cachlain, lumbers up the stairs behind Bram, while the githyanki body guards pull together to keep James from getting to him. Cachlain tells Bram to tell the Bear Claws the truth about Thornside’s parents.

Bram haltingly tells them that he didn’t kill the Autumnfalls. Xaladar — Xaladin’s twin brother — did. Bram claims Xaladar was instructed to scare them, not to kill them. Cachlain seems very lucid and angry that the githyanki have betrayed him to Sangwyr, not like he was the last time the Bear Claws spoke with him.

He picks up the two githyanki body guards and enters the room, leaving Bram unprotected. Thornside shoots him again but is inadvertently blocked by some of the stone armor on Cachlain’s skin as the giant steps over the dwarf. Sovocles appears on the steps and Cachlain suddenly becomes less lucid. Sovocles calls him back to the throne room and he turns solemnly and leaves, still dragging the githyanki bodyguards behind him.

James grabs Bram and asks him how he is still alive. He admits that he paid a body double and that is who the Bear Claws killed previously. He went into the Astral Sea where he made his way to the githyanki city of Tu’narath and got hired to be their ambassador to Cachlain.

Xaladin polymorphs him into a rat and Thornside cuts off his tail before Xaladin turns him back. He comes back screaming and two of his fingers lie on the floor. Thornside stabs his arm with a letter opener and they get him to talk.

He offers money if they won’t kill him but they just take his money anyway. He offers more if they let him go and they find where he’s hidden it and take that as well. Bram, desperate and in pain spills all everything he knows about the githyanki.

He tells them that recently the lich queen Vlaakith XXVII was assassinated and Zetch’r’r took over as Emperor of the githyanki. He made a deal with Tiamat and they have pursued her agenda of conquering the material plane instead of their usual pursuit of war with the mindflayers. The githyanki believe that each incarnation of Vlaakith is the reborn soul of the ancient warrior queen Gith. They hired Bram to negotiate with Cachlain for use of his portal network so that they could start their invasion before their own plans to build a portal network were complete.

James asks Bram what he is keeping in the chest in his room. Bram tells them it is clothes and Thornside tells him if he is telling the truth they will let him go. When Jak smashes the chest open it is empty and the Bear Claws conclude they cannot trust Bram and they knock him unconscious and take him with them back to the banquet hall.

They come up with a plan to get Sovocles away from the king by having Roland go talk to him while the rest of them lay in wait to knock him out. When Roland enters the throne room the doors slam shut and Sovocles immediately accuses him of orchestrating the attack to kill the king. He accuses the Bear Claws of lying and tells Roland if they submit to being imprisoned their lives will be spared. Roland gets angry and scary and Sovocles stumbles back, almost revealing something about himself as he tries to regain control.

Sovocles sends the guards to bring the rest of the Bear Claws to the throne room.

Meanwhile Alton has been eating the food the servants brought and promptly falls asleep, the food obviously drugged. When the guards appear Jak picks up Alton in one arm, Bram in the other and follows them. Thornside and James are left in the banquet hall wondering what to do and Xaladin has hidden unnoticed in the rafters as a small flying animal.

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54. In the Hall of the Stone-Skinned King...
by Grieg

Characters: Thornside, James, Alton, Roland, Xaladin
Level: 15
Location: Rhest, Skyshaper’s Demesne, Cachlain’s Court
NPCs: Cachlain, Sovocles, Druemmeth, Inzira, Nathyra

Thornside motions to his friends that he has a plan and sneaks into the room where the cyclops slavers are and begins tying a piece of his silken threads to the pant leg of the nearest cyclops. Roland peaks under the edge of the ceiling to see what is going on and one of the cyclops hears him and turns to look at him. The rest of the Bear Claws move into the room and the cyclops toss sleeping powder into their midst to try and knock them out.

They also toss nets onto the Bear Claws to keep them restrained while they move into pummel them senseless.

The Bear Claws find themselves in some tight situations as the giant fey creatures attack them, trying to capture them as slaves for Cachlain’s court.

They eventually kill all but one of the cyclops and subdue him into leading them to the feywild gate in the ruins. The gate leads them into a stone circle in the feywild where they encounter two firbolg who are looking for the Seed of Winter. They were sent by Inzira, who had scried out it’s location and told them it would return to the feywild in this place. They take the Bear Claws to a nearby encampment of Eladrin and introduce them to the leader who is named Druemmeth Goldtemple.

Druemmeth asks them about the Seed and Xaladin admits that he has it. Druemmeth is impressed with their honesty and opens a communication channel to Inzira, Daughter of the Frostwhite Forest and cousin of the Winter Queen. Inzira tells them the fomorian upstart, Sangwyr, has been causing problems for her and for Cachlain and she wants the Bear Claws to take the Seed of Winter with them to help in bargaining with the Stone-Skinned King — but they must return it to her when they are done. She wants them to bargain for an alliance with Cachlain to help put down this Sangwyr.

Xaladin agrees as long as he can find out about his friend who was captured by Cachlain. While they are deliberating an dragonborn approaches them, she is Nathyra — Mary’s mother — but she has aged nearly forty years since they last saw her, eighteen years in the past. She has been in the feywild looking Washburn who took her egg. She has not been able to find him and had nearly given up hope until she recognized the Bear Claws. They told her that Mary was only 18 and that she was no longer in the feywild.

Druemmeth leads them to an entrance to the feydark and the cyclops guards there guide the Bear Claws under ground to Cachlain’s court which is a miles long palace carved from a single solid piece of purple crystal.

Inside the throne room sits Cachlain, purple, skinned, hunch-backed, one large dominant red eye and a smaller beadier black one. He sits on a huge crystal throne staring down at a gladiatorial arena that can be seen through the transparent crystal floor. Next to him sits a human who introduces himself as Sovacles.

Sovacles despises the Bear Claws and it just short of being rude to them. They succeed in catching Cachlain’s attention briefly but there is some kind of magical hold on his mind that keeps him distracted.

Sovacles tells them that they will be given guest quarters and allowed to stay for a few days while the King ponders the things they have said to him.

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Adventure Supplement 2: Journal of Hautamaryat Firebreath

Characters: Mary, Jalissa, Althaea, Thera, Izera
Level: 14
Location: The City of Brass
NPCs: Glamor, Darujhistan

Watching the elves and eladrin flail around and run for water was amusing but only a passing fancy. I grow restless. Bede’s daughter agreed to teach me some of her songs. She says I have a natural voice for music but my ear needs a little work.

I don’t even have ears.

I think she’s a little scared of me.

Izera is a githzerai woman with quick eyes and a deep and angry wisdom. She claims she has the means to cross the planes and get us to the City of Brass and home again. The Codex Avaritia is supposed to be there.

The weather turned cold before we left Sayre, the crisp air threatening frost before too long, and snow perhaps. I do not like snow, it works under the scales and freezes there, aching and cold until you step inside and it all melts with a dripping rush that leaves you wet and shivering. I do not know why dwarves seem to thrive in it so well. Perhaps it is the beards.

Izera says the City of Brass will not have any snow. I relish the thought.

The portal was a mass of swirling red and purple chaos and a wave of great heat, like a campfire built too high. I went through first. It felt like jumping into a furnace. When I arrived I was surprised to find my scales un-singed and my armor cool to the touch.

Thera came next. She has a furious kind of bravery that I can’t help but respect. She came through with a snarl and a shake of her head, her tusks gleaming. Izera, Althaea and Jalissa followed quickly. The city is a hideous mesh of opulent decadence and foulest poverty hidden under a veneer of flame and artistry.

And slaves.

The denizens of this city are ten-foot tall fiery lords of fantastic wealth. They show their wealth by enslaving those they see as lesser races.

Which is everybody.

The portal took us to an abandoned hovel in the poorest part of town — Izera calls it a safe house.

It took me only a few minutes of observing the movements of the people in the city to become angry. Freedom is sacred and slavery is exactly opposite the strongest tenet of my belief. The slaves of this city outnumber the denizens by ten to one. Why do they not rise up and fight back? Why are they content to live a life of captivity, however safe it may seem?

What happened next felt inevitable to me. Like the anger of dragons provoked or the coming of snow in the winter. Althaea tells me I could have walked away, kept the mission in mind. I contend that I could not.

I will tolerate injustice when I have to but I will not tolerate the selling and owning of beings who the gods have given free will.

I urged the slaves on the street to rise up, to free themselves. I spoke to them with all the fire that is in my bones. They gathered, they listened and then they tore me down. The slaves swarmed around me, pulled me to the ground and beat me. Thera and Jalissa tried to fight their way through the crowd but they were too thick around me.

When I regained consciousness I was bruised, battered and left naked lying on cold stone. Jalissa was there and she helped me rise. Thera also shared my prison. Althaea and Izera seemingly escaped when the Efreet authorities arrived.

The cell was small enough that only one of us could lie down at a time and the water was served to us in a rusty bucket that smelled like it had previously been somebodies chamber pot. The food was worse.

I have more sympathy now for those who are burned by the stews that I produce. Perhaps I will temper them in the future. Being served inedible food is nearly as bad as being locked up.

Izera says we were only in there a week but it seemed much longer.

Many times the efreet guards would come and drag me away. What they did to me is better left unsaid but they wanted to know which faction sent me and who paid me to start a slave revolt. They didn’t seem to believe that I acted on my own.

Once, when they returned me to my cell I heard a voice from the cell next to ours. It was female and soft.

“Just give them what they want. They don’t care if it’s the truth.”

The voice belonged to a woman imprisoned for trying to steal an artifact that she referred to as a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts. She called herself Glamor and talked to us in the times between our meals and my frequent visits from the guards.

Glamor claimed to know where the guards stashed our weapons and armor. To the efreets, even such wealth as our magical items were regarded as paltry and plain. In exchange for getting us out she wanted us to help her break into the solarium of Bashumgarda, lord of the efreets to help her steal her artifact.

After several more days of being woken and beaten and starved I was willing to try anything she might suggest.

Glamor charmed the guard when he came to get me and we quickly ushered him into the cell and fled. In the light she is a pale tiefling, with flaming red hair and dark red horns that curl away from her forehead.

True to her word she lead us straight to the closet where all of our gear was stashed in a tangled pile.

Leaving the prison building was more problematic. Efreet’s are giants made of fire and are powerful. Thera tells me that when they came to arrest us it took only two to hurl the slaves aside and bind the three of us. She said the last part with a low snarl that convinces me that she tried her hardest to stay free.

Glamor rolled her eyes at us and muttered the words of a spell. Before our eyes she grew taller and morphed into an efreet woman with flames pouring down her back like a glowing cascade of hair.

I have seen other illusions before. Jalissa and I were impersonated by doppelgangers in Overlook that were able to create an approximation of our faces and bodies by studying us. This illusion was not nearly so complete. Glamor would only pass for an efreet from a distance.

She wanted us to be pretend to be her slaves.

I will never be a slave. Not even in deception.

Thera told me to get over my pride and move along. Jalissa pointed out that by feigning captivity I could actually facilitate my own freedom. Jalissa is often more wise than her appearance indicates at first glance.

Still, I make a poor slave for even when beaten and starved I do not have the deadened look that is in their eyes.

Reluctantly I allowed Glamor to lead us from the prison — newly purchased from among the prisoners as she said was common in the City of Brass for the less wealthy in need of slaves.

Once away from the prison, a black, obsidian structure with peaked dome topped towers and a mote of fire leaping about the walls, she returned to her normal appearance.

Crossing the city to the Solarium of Bashumgarda was an exercise in frustration. I have never been good at subterfuge and sneaking but being seen outside alone without any slave markings would immediately point us out as suspicious.

Worse, we had to move quickly else our absence be found out and the search for us begun.

My instincts were to step out in the street and face the onslaught and beat it back. To bring the light of Avandra to this fiery hell of a city. I long to face the efreet masters there and drive them back. My desire to fight back made my scales itch and burn with impatience.

But the efreets, even the lowliest, have skin as hard as brass and arms as strong as dragons and they are fast and deadly beyond even my reckoning.

I was forced to sneak, like a common thief. My only consolation is that Jalissa was at least as bad at it as I was.

The City of Brass is the largest city I have ever seen, larger then a person on horseback could cross in a single day if she started at sunrise and rode till the sun had sunk below the western horizon… if there was a sun in that infernal pit. The sky was a constant coppery shade of orange that glowed as if the city had sunk into the sun itself.

At times the heat made me wonder if it had.

It took us most of a day to follow Glamor to our destination. After a time the buildings drew closer together and we took to the rooftops, leaping across the gaps between the buildings and skittering over the steep peaked tiles that sheltered the inhabitants — from what I cannot say, I do not think that it ever rains there.

The Solarium was guarded on all sides by a circling patrol of demons. Demons that thrive on darkness and hate the light. Demons I know how to handle. Demons I can kill, or at least vanquish.

Jalissa and I summoned the radiant energies of our gods to blind them long enough for Glamor and Thera to sneak past. The demons put up a horrendous keening sound that grated the ears and seemed to rattle our brains inside our heads.

We followed Glamor inside, to get away from the sound and regain our sanity. Jalissa had a small trail of blood coming from one ear. When I remarked on it she told me that I didn’t look so good either.

The comment seemed fair. I had not had enough of food or drink or sleep in over a week.

The Solarium of Bashumgarda, like the rest of the City of Brass is a posh exercise in arrogant wealth. Displays made of solid gold are arrayed about the room in a long maze of artifacts from across the planes. The labels are scribed in platinum and mounted on aluminum plaques.

Glamor led the way to a display showing what appeared to be a piece of a staff. She looked at us, shrugged and smashed the glass case open before grabbing the piece. Jalissa pointed to a case nearby. Inside lay a small book, bound in leather, worn and yellowed with age. The title was written in common on the front, faded but still legible. “The Codex Avaritia.”

At that moment the room filled with efreets bearing long curved swords that were nearly the length of a grown human. They moved in from all sides and their leader hit Glamor so hard that she was thrown many feet in the air, the rod flying from her grasp.

The fight didn’t take long. The efreets are too powerful, too quick, for us to fight. They beat us and bound us and drug us away. They took us to the nearby house and into a large, marble hall where a tall blue-skinned creature took custody of us. He introduced himself as Darujhistan, the djinn head slave of Bashumgarda. He informed us that we were to be delivered directly to his master but before he opened the door to show us in to the chamber he stopped us.

“I will remember you,” he said, “nobody has fought back against the efreets in ten thousand years. I will remember your words. In return you should remember mine. One shard of Erek-Hus is left, forged into a hammer that can blend two souls. You will need it before your journey ends, avatar.”

With that he opened the door and showed us into another posh and polished room where an efreet lord greeted us. He said he had been looking for us since we escaped his prison.

He gestured with his arm and I saw Althaea and Izera standing a few feet away. The efreet lord told us that we were free to go as long as none of us ever set foot in his city again. He nodded to Althaea and apologized for taking her slaves and warned her that we should be marked in the future. With that we were released and Izera scribed her sigils in the air and we found ourselves back in the Material Plane.

Glamor cursed soundly the loss of the rod that she had tried to steal and tried to intimidate Izera into sending her back to try to get it again. She seems more concerned with getting that rod than with her own life. She can be surprisingly terrifying when she is angry, though and will make a valuable companion.

Jalissa, watching the argument winked at me and pulled the small book from inside her pouch. She had grabbed it while we fought the efreet warriors. The mission, then, was not a total loss but still felt like defeat.

My mind looked back to the words of Darujhistan, trying to salvage some feeling of good will from it all. He at least seemed to be touched by my words. Was it enough to make a change in his world, in the City? My heart aches even now that so many people are slaves, owned by another person and commanded and forced to obey out of fear, or pain or simply because they never knew any better.

Althaea made a pact with the Queen of Winter while the rest of us were incarcerated. The Queen offered Bashumgarda support in his machinations to seize control of the City of Brass. In exchange Althaea owes the Queen a favor — making a deal with one of the archfey is foolhardy at best and I fear that we will all live to regret her decision.

Althaea says that at least we will live. She has a point there. I would not have lived in the City of Brass for long. They would have tried to enslave me and I would have died.

Outside it is snowing. I have never been happy to see snow until this day.

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