Talk, Talk, Talk
“How about over there?”
“That’s a patch of seaweed.”
“I don’t know. What about that?”
Gwydion squinted, peering ahead uncertainly.
“I’m not sure. That could be the entrance. Or a bank of coral?” The eladrin sighed, frustrated.
“Are we there yet?”
“You just—!” Gwydion spun and held up a thoroughly outraged index finger to Morgan, who sat splayed in the far backseat, boredom personified. “If you have nothing to say to help, which you don’t, then please, don’t say anything at all! This is very, very difficult.”
“Right.” Morgan yawned with undisguised skepticism.
“Bah!” Gwydion muttered under his breath. “One of these days I’ll show that moldy dwarf! Fireball basted with a light dressing of psychic lobotomization and a hint of acidic aftertaste, served with an aromatic blend of prismatic bolts and …” the wizard continued to ramble to himself as he maneuvered the awkward claws over the surface of the ocean floor.
The travel back home had been four hours of anti-climactic claustrophobia after their epic defeat of Chillreaver, followed by the perilous race to the Apparatus. After the last mirror had been shattered, the Icehome of Chillreaver began collapsing under, around, and on top of the heroes. With no time to hesitate (well, for most—Slyron managed to spend some quality seconds scooping through Chillreaver’s treasure hoard) Kord’s Deliverance swiftly retraced their steps back to the underwater entrance.
Slyron had arrived first, of course, and unscathed, with Gwydion shortly behind, floating safely—albeit extremely nervously—upon his Tensor’s Disk. Gheshkan’s battered form came crashing in next, as he lost his footing yet again. Much of Gheshkan rapid, luge-like decent was aided by his inability to stay upright. Luckily, his thick armor absorbed most of the impact of falling ice and falling dragonborn. Asha and Morgan arrived last, the deva introspective, the dwarf stormy.
Gwydion quickly activated the Apparatus, and he clambered it from out of the crumbling iceberg. Kord’s Deliverance watched Icehome break apart and float away, then turned their sights towards Nefelus.
The first hour passed quickly, as the rush of victory, resurrection of Uarion and probing of his memory kept them occupied. But soon, the tedium of underwater travel and the cramped quarters became oppressive. Three hours crawled by, and tempers stretched thin.
“What’s wrong with docking this thing up above?”
Slyron spoke up as Gwydion hauled on the maneuvering levers, and the Apparatus lurched left. They had arrived in the Bay of Nefelus, and Gwydion was trying to find the underwater cavern from where they had originally embarked.
The mage stopped muttering and looked over at the rogue.
“This ‘thing’, as you so vividly describe it, is a machination of extraordinary complexity. You can’t just ‘dock’ it anywhere.”
“Sure you could. You can do anything, you’re that smart.”
“Well, yes, alright, I suppose I could,” Gwydion replied, somewhat mollified and flattered, “but our appearance would still be quite startling. Not everyday a metallic crustacean crawls from the sea. We could be attacked!”
Ghesh snorted. “I sincerely doubt that would happen, and besides, we’ll open up the portal and reveal ourselves quickly enough. Leave them to me.”
“And me,” spoke up Uarion, his voice still rasping and tight. Gheshkan acknowledged the mindmage with a short bow of his head.
“Of course, Uarion. They will listen to you, as a valued member of this city.”
Gwydion shrugged. “Alright then. We’re going up.”
Their arrival at the docks was indeed a surprise, although once the occupants of the strange contraption revealed themselves, any fear turned quickly to celebration. Word spread of the heroes return with Uarion, and all along the trek up to the Great Hall, throngs of Nefelusians gathered to shower Kord’s Deliverance with praise and thanks.
“This is good,” Morgan nudged Gwydion, who floated along on his disk, waving his hand with royal patronage to the adoring crowd, “but they still owe us a villa.”
Notable events at the return to Nefelus:
• Gwydion immediately requested access to the Library, to study whatever he could find on the shards and their history. He bids his companions good day.
• Morgan immediately inquires as to female companionship.
“Are there any dwarven hookers in here?”
“Sir, this is a library!”
“Oh.” (whispers) “Are there any dwarven hookers in here?”
• Slyron also finds female companionship easily, and then goes shopping. Not finding what he wants, he makes discreet inquiries into the (very) underground networks and black market. Sneaking into the thieves’ guild, he is eventually confronted after a lock proves too difficult for his abilities.
“Who are you, how did you get in here, and what do you want?”
“I am Slyron, hero of Nefelus, I got in here through your quaint but no so hidden front entrance, and, funny you should ask, I am looking for the very thing that would help me pick this lock here. Not that I want to pick this lock. But others elsewhere, that are equally complex.”
“A skeleton key.”
Slyron gauged the cool reaction of the non-descript, inscrutable fellow. He took a chance.
“2000 it is.”
“Right.” Slyron immediately pulled out his pouch of coins. The fellow’s smile had been bright and large. Slyron had seen that look before, usually just before someone got knifed. He pocketed the skeleton key, then smiled himself.
“Thank you for your business. And if you ever hear my name mentioned in the future,” Slyron gave a flourishing bow, “you can say you’ve met me!” He turned, and sauntered out.
• Asha requests a private audience with Bejam. She meets some other members of the Thraxinium, also devas. She discusses her incarnation and memory troubles, and learns that Bejam met Galad, many years ago. He had come to the Isle with a human mage named Teresa, and a number of other heroes of Fallcrest, who had come to do research into the shards as well. In fact, the Thraxinium is certain the rubbing that was found in the library, that Amyria had shown to Kord’s Deliverance in Mithrendane, was made by Teresa. However, Galad was called away suddenly, to defend Fallcrest. He never returned. Asha told the others of the history that she knew so far. They promised to look into what exactly Teresa was researching, and what she may have found.
• A grand celebration was held for Kord’s Deliverance, attended by the Thraxinium and all the movers and shakers of the Isle of Nefelus. The heroes were presented with 1000 pp (coins had the Falls of Ioun on one side and the Orrery on the other); an intricate three dimensional map of the Nentir Vale left (on purpose? By accident?) by Teresa, that could be used with a ritual to pinpoint group of shards; and an ornate staff to Gwydion. (“Hmph. I distinctly remember suggestin’ a villa,” Morgan groused.”)
• Also at the celebration the party learned what the mages and Gwydion had found through their research.
o It is unlikely Chillreaver was working alone.
o The Zehir currently do not have an exarch in the middle planes, and the tablet of shards, when fully constructed, would more than likely release this.
o Gwydion’s mentor Nimozaren had also come to the isle, some few dozen years ago, and stole an number of tomes relating to the shards.
o Finally, the Isle has a teleportation circle to which gwydion is now attuned.
With business concluded on the Isle of Nefelus—in fact, in the Fey World entirely—Kord’s Deliverance hopped into Tantron and gated home to Fallcrest. They caught up quickly on news while they had been gone. Harkenmold had been annexed by Fallcrest after the townspeople lynched the mayor then approached Lord Marquelhay themselves with the request for annexation. Excellent progress had been made on the citadel. Uarion, as well as some more skilled stonemasons, accompanied KD to join in the defense of the town and church. Many more people from the surrounding Nentir Vale had done the same. Nimozaren was nowhere to be found, and his library, Gwydion assured, was impenetrable.
Asha went in search of Melissa. She had wanted to speak with her for months, but every opportunity had been thwarted. Getting sucked into an otherworldly portal will do that. Her meeting was intriguing, and awkward. Melissa had known Galad, and Teresa. The deva and the human mage had been more than just traveling companions; they had been lovers. And it became increasingly clear that Melissa, too, had been in love with Galad. Teresa did not die in the attack against Fallcrest. And Galad may have been pursuing a rakshasa at the time of his death. Whether or not it was the rakshasa that betrayed him Melissa did not know.
The next day, with Nimozaren still nowhere to be found, Kord’s Deliverance decided to use the map and a ritual to pinpoint where more shards might be in the Nentir Vale. A bright light appeared in the far corner of the map, deep into the Cairngorn peaks of the Stonemarch mountains, north of Winterhaven. With nothing to hold them in Fallcrest the party departed immediately.
“You ever notice Fallcrest gets a lot safer every time we leave town?” Gheshkan said to Morgan.
“Bullshit. Fallcrest doesn’t get safer. The world gets more dangerous.”
The trip to Winterhaven was swift and uneventful. The going became more difficult once the party left the little used north road and struck out into the wilderness. The difficult terrain caused Tantron to become irritable, and a nervous Gwydion suggested that the party continue on foot.
Day 1—made their way across a chasm, using Asha’s flight, their ropes, and Slyron’s nimble footwork. Downward travel.
Day 2—quick travel lead by Sly. Continued descent.
Day 3—mountainside leveled out. Wandered into a field of flame jets. Asha stepped directly into one, but her Cord of Foresight saved her from injury. Morgan not so lucky.
Day 4—hard going, little progress. Steep Cliffside as the path turned upwards
Day 5—a flash flood while climbing. Morgan got caught in it. Many 4 letter words
On the 6th day, the climbing became less steep. Distant campfires spotted. While Slyron scouted, he discovered a well hidden Frost Giant ranger, watching his companions. He decided to return.
“Don’t react now, but we’re being watched.”
“What about the campfires?” Morgan asked
“I didn’t get that far.”
“Well why didn’t you?”
“What the fuck??”
After some discussion, Slyron sneaked back to the Frost Giant and revealed his presence. Kord’s Deliverance was ready to charge to his aid if the encounter turned nasty. The giant was startled and wary; but when the rogue mentioned Nara, he became less jumpy, and more intrigued. Sly took a chance, and asked the giant to go get the shaman and tell her “Kord’s Deliverance has arrived. We’re here to help.”
Morgan was not pleased to discover the rogue’s initiative. Even less so when Chillreaver suddenly appeared from out of the clouds above them. The dragon was heading with purpose towards the giant village.
“Remember,” Asha mentioned when the dragon was out of earshot, “Nara said her chieftain was allied with Chillreaver.”
“Or controlled,” added Gwydion.
“Either way, I don’t give a crap about these giants. They got nothin’ to do with where we are going.”
A protracted argument developed as the party discussed their next steps. It was finally settled that Slyron would get down to the village with one of the sending stones, and keep the others informed as to what was going on.
Thus was the beginning of a long night. The elven rogue witnessed the obliteration of the Frost Giant chieftain by a very angy Chillreaver. The dragon then proceeded to harangue the cowed village of giants with hours of sermonizing. While Sly kept watch, the rest of the party continued to debate and argue, becoming more and more heated as the tiring night crept over them. Largely it was four against one; Morgan fought to ditch any involvement with the giants, and strike out towards the shard location. The others argued that looking for the shards, in the dark and with an increasingly useless map, was the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Finally, against the dwarf’s protests, the party settled to try and re-establish contact with Nara. Making their way slowly down to the village, in the dark, the party watched Chillreaver continue his verbal barrage on the populace. Sly slipped a message into Nara’s home asking her to meet the party by a distinctly large tree on the outskirts of the village.
Some time after the dragon ceased the monologue and the encampment settled to sleep, the shaman made a cautious appearance. Kord’s Deliverance, by this time, was having trouble maintaining silence verbal spats issued back and forth between Asha and Morgan, Slyron and Morgan, Gheshkan and…well, everyone and Morgan. The harsh whispers of barely restrained anger hissed back and forth.
“Whatever,” the dwarf crossed his arms defiantly. “You all keep doin’ your stupidity. I ain’t healin’ any of you.”
Asha fired him an acid glare. “Fine. I won’t raise my sword to protect you.”
“Be quiet, both of you!” Gheshkan, spotting Nara, snapped.
A hasty conference the with the shaman brought about her promise to return with three trusted giants and to lead the party to the Valley of Death, where a strange tower had been built over a hundred years ago.
Nara was gone for not ten minutes when Chillreaver attacked, roaring.
“Told ya,” Morgan glared at his companions, accusingly.