It started as a simple dungeon run…
Just a quick looting of an abandoned dragon’s lair. But nothing has been simple for these five adventurers since they discovered The Secret Keeper’s Amulet there. An artifact from the Aureate Age, the Amulet is a powerful magic item that can crack through the barrier between realities and allow you, the watchers of the time stream, to make your presence felt here in Ain.
It also seems to be the key to deciphering the history of the Wardens, Ain’s ancient protectors, who have been disappearing, captured by a mysterious enemy. Using the amulet, our team has been tracking down and freeing these Wardens, one by one. A group of Wizards known as The Natural Order have been assisting in this endeavor. Most recently, an excitable young wizard by the name of Cornelia the Clean, who has been on the trail of a shadowy figure known as Kalkata Theed, The Ashen Mage.
Pursuit of the Ashen Mage led Cornelia to Winkburgh, a town that sits on the intersection of several trade routes and is famous for free and bustling commerce. That is, until the Duke of Winkburgh abruptly retreated into his residence, taking the entire towns guard with him. As a result, the area fell into lawlessness, with roving gangs disrupting the once-reliable trade routes, and forcing many citizens to flee. Upon arriving at the outskirts of town, our team ran into one of these gangs, The Flock, a band of thieving marauders riding giant, flightless birds called Achaierai, which are capable of secreting a thick, dark cloud of toxic smoke. The Flock was only dissuaded from attacking our heroes when Siv handed their leader 250 gold.
Inside Winkburgh proper, the situation was no less dire, but the team was able to strike a deal with the bartender of the local tavern, The Wink and the Smile, for secure transport of Lily’s mother and sisters eastward to the coast, so they might safely return to Bingle once again.
The team also made contact with the Duke’s right hand man, Preet, and the Duke himself, who, it turns out, was transformed into a duck by the Ashen Mage herself. The Duke begged the heroes to investigate the tower she had been staying in, to search for clues that might reveal a way to return him to his natural form.
So investigate they did, climbing the four-story spire and battling the magical abominations they encountered along the way. Those creatures included suffocating smoke monsters, born from the extracted smoke glands of the Achaierai, and a hideous Hodgepodge, a shambling monster cobbled together from severed limbs and decaying scraps of the dead.
But the team also found much to inform their quest. The topmost floor of the spelltower had been transformed into some sort of observatory, with a perplexing model erected in the center, and an enormous telescope mounted at the window, pointing ominously toward the volcano that bellows and burns inside the Nelrim mountain range, Skyscorcher Peak.
Further inspection of the Mage’s domain revealed letters, written to and by Kalkata Theed, a variety of experimental new spells, including some that rely on the abhorrent practice of necromancy, and a magically locked strongbox, which seems to impart a strange sensation to anyone who touches it.
As we ended last week, the team decided to leave the tower and return to the Wink and the Smile, so as not to miss the agreed upon meeting time with the bartender, and ensure that the 1500 gold the gave him was coin well spent. James used his Sending spell to request Cornelia bring the Dumblestucks with her to rendezvous at the tavern.
But what we didn’t see was that James cast sending a second time, making contact with Hermil Fesh, the Scholar of Nightstone Abbey. In hearing a description of the mage tower, Fesh requested exact information about everything on display there. And so, James volunteered to stay behind at the tower, study the spells he found etched in stone, and take detailed notes, while the rest of the team rushed to make their date at the Wink and the Smile.