Still reeling from their fall from the sky tower, the team must deal with the Orcs who stand between them and the injured Storm Warden. In doing so, they discover new information about the sovereign protectors of the Realms that may change everything
It started as a simple dungeon run…
But it has already turned into so much more. When our team found and identified the Secret Keeper’s Amulet, an artifact of incredible chaos magic, with the power to transcend realities and communicate directly to you, the watchers of the time stream, they found themselves in a much grander adventure than they originally anticipated.
They met Torvalt the Timid, a Wizard of the Natural Order, who had been investigating the whereabouts of a Warden, one of the legendary protectors of the Realms of Ain. Hundreds of years ago, at the end of the great War of Ideas, Ain was torn asunder. Little knowledge remains from that time, but it is said that the Wardens were put in place to ensure that no threat could ever cause Ain such strife again.
As generations of relative peace passed and no one laid eyes on them, the Wardens passed into myth and legend, with few people believing that they ever even existed.
But when our team rode into the sky and entered a magical floating tower, resting on the clouds, they discovered a real, live Warden imprisoned there. Crackling with electrical energy, the Storm Warden was being used by a mad tinker named Ertinfert to power his diabolical mechanical creations.
Our team ascended his tower, defeated his tick-tock army, outsmarted his puzzles, and even battled copies of themselves - and himself - that he somehow had created.
In the end, the tower was destroyed and our heroes came plummeting out of the sky. Fahima’s resilient concentration on a featherfall spell saved most of the team, but our beach gnome, Lily, had to desperately call out to Torvalt, who opened one of his arcane portals in the sky, depositing her violently back at his camp.
A long night of recovery later, where bonds were formed and poems recited, Torvalt asked our team for one last bit of help, with the promise of significant reward.
And so, by dawn’s light, the team set out to relocate Torvalt’s camp to the site where the Warden had come falling out of the sky.
Arriving at the massive feet of the gargantuan creature, Siv, scouting ahead, noticed tiedowns along the length of the Warden’s body. Seeing a wooden tower covered with spikes, and multiple green faces, Siv turned back to the team… “Orcs!”
We ended last week, with the singular, somber voice of Uggo, an Orc himself, growling, “We are going to have to kill them all…”
Facing the Orcs
Siv attempts to scout ahead, but has a hard time getting a good visual without revealing himself to the orcs. Meep similarly flies overhead and communicates that there are at least half a dozen orcs, and something very large and scary. Uggo wants to attack the orcs and overwhelm them all with force, but the team convinces him to hold on. Instead, Morgan and Siv move forward in an attempt to communicate with the warden with Morgan's Awakened Mind ability. Unfortunately, the warden does not respond. They also discover a massive cannon, bigger than anything they've seen before.
Siv and Morgan return to the group, and they debate together what to do for a while. Eventually, Uggo and Morgan step forward to speak to the head orc, named Grollogo, and Uggo challenges him for the leadership of the band of orcs. Uggo and Grollogo begin to grapple and fight, while the others prepare in case the other orcs interfere.
Meanwhile, however, Lily approaches the warden. Feeling guilty that Torvalt chose to save her instead of the warden, she places a hand on him to apologize. When she does, the amulet suddenly flashes. The warden sits up, and electrical energy passes through all 5 party members. Their vision fades to white.
A Battle Long Forgotten
Our heroes seem to be pulled into a memory of the distant past:
As you open your eyes, you're indoors. In fact, you're inside a magnificent hall, a hundred feet in one direction, and all of the walls are reflective, as if they were sculpted out of one piece...no hard edges anywhere, everything sculpted out of one single reflective surface. And the ceilings are massive; it goes up into a peak, almost like a cathedral. And you feel displaced; it's like you're in a dream - no, a memory. But not your memory; someone else's memory.
And Lily, the strangest thing, you're the first one to be aware of this, but for the first time in your life, you are looking out of eyes that are much higher up in the world than you've ever experienced. And you look into one the mirrored surfaces in this hallway, and you see a human face looking back at you, with chiseled features. Hard, cold eyes and tight, silver blond hair, intricately woven into a long twisting braid, that circles around your neck and drapes in front of you. Swirling, circular patterns of dark blacks and browns cascade across thick leather armor that you're wearing. And your left shoulder is wrapped in a shiny metal casing that connects down your arm to a thick, silver bracelet. Strapped to your back is a magnificent silver and wood crossbow.
James, you're the next one to notice. You feel shorter than you normally are. You look into the mirror, and you see a short, squat dwarf looking back at you, built thick like a castle wall. He wears a long red cape, and a helm with two massive horns protruding from the top. A bushy grey beard obscures his face beneath it, and his heavy metal armor, richly detailed in symbols and writings - almost like the armor itself is covered in tattoos - clangs and rattles with any movement. At either hip, two compact hammers, and across your back, a large mace on a chain, bent and scarred from much apparent use.
Uggo, you're the next to notice. You see an attractive human face looking back at you. Dark skin, just the thinnest layer of shaved grey hair, square jaw with a tightly cropped grey beard. You're standing in polished white armor, gleaming and resplendent. A thick fur hide is wrapped around it, attached at the shoulders, and two longswords are crossed at your back in an X. Your eyes are solemn and ready.
Siv, you look in the mirror and see a regal dragonborn face, staring back at you, Deep-set green eyes, a protruded snout, and smooth shiny scales that almost seem to reflect an auburn or burnt orange hue. You stand in golden armor of distinct interlocking plates, each in a sharp triangle shape. Your gauntlets are similarly crafted, but pulled back into long thin spikes, stretching nearly the length of your forearm. Emblazoned on each is a strange symbol. Your bottom half is a plate-mail kilt of the same design, and on your hip, an exquisitely crafted longsword, whose hilt is inlaid with gold.
And finally Fahima, you see looking back at you, a teal shimmer. Your eyes peer out from behind the hood of the most spectacular cloak you have ever seen. And the form you see reflected in the mirror is almost entirely encompassed inside that cloak. Head to foot is a shimmer. A delicate dance of blues and greens rippling across the surface of this magnificent cloak. When you reach up and pull back the hood, you recognize the features of an elf - pointed ears, soft ethereal face, and a deep jagged scar from forehead to chin.
The party look at each other, stunned, unsure what to make of this, as they look around and see each other, but also see these other creatures whom they seem to inhabit for the moment. As they look around, they see that one side is an archway, which
...is open into a massive field, basically, cascading down a long hill. And you see ruins - smoke, the appearance of war. As if someone drew a line here, and said "No further, not past this point." But everything beyond it: damaged, destroyed.
At this point, a young dark-skinned boy comes running into the room, addressing Uggo's person as "Dada". He tells them that "It's about to start" and begins pulling Uggo down the hallway. They see a dragonborn in gold, who tells the party that they "are ready to begin".
James doesn't recognize the geography of the location - the group tries to figure out where or when they are, but they're baffled. James does, however, recognize the symbol on Siv's gauntlets as being the royal symbol of the Shaxen Gao, the Dragonborn empire to the north of Colsi and Latlan.
They get to the door that the boy is leading them through, and find
...a massive great room, full of people - of what you could only describe as an audience...all races, shapes and sizes, standing around, many people. It is also a massive, high ceiling, and as you enter it, you hear a loud mechanical sound, and the ceiling parts to open sky - dark clouds. You walk in; everything is that same reflective surface, no hard corners, just beautiful high rounded reflective, chromatic.
The people are watching in reverence as the party enters. There are podiums for the 5 of them, and a 6th, at which stands an auburn-scaled dragonborn woman in similar triangle-shaped armor to what Siv is wearing on one half of her body, and beautiful fabric on the other side. Another huge dragonborn with a massive maul stands behind her, with a large urn next to him. At this point, the party realize they don't have the amulet or Meep with them. They take their places behind the podiums, both willing to walk there, and also compelled to do so. The dragonborn woman addresses the gathering:
Today, the War of Ideas will end. Because of each of you, and your heroic deeds, we have a chance to bring Ain back from the brink of oblivion. But our duty to protect the realms is just beginning. Even as we strike the triumphant blow, we know that the threat will never be fully defeated, but only lie dormant. 300 years may seem long to us, but in the great stream of time, it is but a moment.
And when that moment comes again, we must be ready. That is why we must ask you, our greatest heroes, who have sacrificed so much, who have helped us make the most difficult decisions, to sacrifice one last time.
At this point, the massive dragonborn behind her steps forward. A beautiful prismatic orb comes out of the urn, and the woman places it on the podium, where the other dragonborn hits it with his maul, breaking it into 5 pieces, each of an individual color: white, grey, purple, blue, and red. The woman then calls each of them in turn to pick one of the pieces. To Uggo, she says:
Nicholas Kiln: a true leader in all things. Your eldest, slain. Your wife, at death's door. None of us here can know how you are able to continue to honor your duty. But we do know - our world will be safer because of it. Your son, Peter, stands for you.
The boy who dragged them to the stage stands. Uggo calls on the gods of the amulet, and winds up choosing the red orb, which the woman calls the Mote of Embers. Lily notes that it's the color of love. The woman turns to Fahima next:
Mirasys: You may have given up the most of all of us. Your people slaughtered. Your homes decimated. It is not fair to ask of you what we ask today, but we must. The good people of Ain stand for you.
Everyone stands, and Fahima chooses the white orb, which she calls the Mote of Gusts. Next up is James:
Orad Iron Mark: Orad, my friend, you were the first to volunteer. Members of your clan are here. You honor them, as they do you.
3 other dwarves in the audience, dressed similarly to him. He chooses purple - the Mote of Sparks. Next is Siv:
Zhong Laolong: blood of my blood, you honor all of Shaxen Gao with your sacrifice here today. Your bravery in the field of war, and your wisdom as my counsel has been invaluable. I do not know what I will do without you. But you are needed more by the many in the long stream of time than by me alone, here and now. I stand for you.
Siv leaves the choice up to chance, and gets the grey: the Mote of Stone. Finally, she turns to Lily:
Rela: your courage at the battle of Star Loch saved countless lives. We are in your debt. I can think of noone better to trust with this responsibility. Your mate, Sosanna, stands to reaffirm your bond here and forever after.
They see a woman dressed similarly to Lily's person, with black hair and a similar braid, stand. Lily is left with blue, the Mote of Depths. The dragonborn woman then brings in their new ally, who turns out to be Lord Arrabann, the Keeper of Secrets, holding the amulet. Of him, she says:
Lord Arrabann is here to help you forget everything you know - everything you are will be erased. Each of you will be no more. Your final selfless act. The knowledge of the weapon, and how you five won this war is too powerful to risk. But in 300 years, when the threat returns again, we may need to know. Lord Arrabann will lock your memories - the knowledge of how to defeat our foe - deep within one of you. None of us will know who. But when the time comes, you, our protectors, our wardens, will be there to save us once again.
But before Lord Arrabann can remove their memories, a paige interrupts, saying that the army has arrived. The motes explode, turning the 5 into warden forms, 100 feet tall, filled with elemental power. At this point, as the party look around, they see:
...past where the cathedral is, a city, gilded, golden, beautiful. To your left...shattered land, destruction, and, rising up this hill, two massive armies. One on the left: bright, radiant, glowing. One on the right: dark, shadowed, as if a line had been cut down the middle of them. And flying above each side, you see a sun dragon and a moon dragon.
The army from the city marshals for battle, and the 5 wardens of Ain step out of the cathedral to take on the incoming armies.