Episode Fifty: The Bell Tolls (10/19/07)
[Featuring Aerdaluna, Zan, Smitty, and Silent Pete, introducing Solaris]
From the Journal of Solaris
Aerdaluna is dead; I will honor his memory in all his strengths and knowledge. Like any other he had flaws; who among us mortals is truly flawless? Yet I owe all of who I am to Aerdaluna and I am deeply grateful.
I am Solaris and this is my first day on Oerth. Aerdaluna means heir to the moon, child of the night; but, I am Solaris, he who looks boldly to the coming day. I am the harbinger of light, herald to the Sun. Let the children of the dark know fear because I know too well their ways and they will not withstand the presence of the light I carry.
By will of Corellon, they will pay!
Memories of Aerdaluna:
The last victory of Aerdaluna had to do with a plan conceived to capture a Githyanki flying ship. He did this for several reasons and not the least of which was his annoyance at having sullied himself meeting with these evil invaders from the Astral Plane. To Aerdaluna’s way of thinking the actions of the Githyanki had been wholly calculated and opportunistic. They had killed wantonly without concern for the guilt or innocence of those they had encountered on Oerth and by rights they should be made to pay for their misdeeds and resisted in full measure.
The Githyanki had not been invited or welcomed on Oerth. There had been no negotiations. Theirs had been a surprise attack and invasion and now the lay claim and siege on the free land of Oerth. It was all but intolerable and it was all Aerdaluna could do to walk away without burning Brindenford to the ground with the Githyanki in it, a cauterization of the open wound they represented to the fair land of Oerth.
With this in mind he determined to take one of their ships; a real declaration of his disapproval, something the Githyanki would feel and understand and more importantly the ship would be an important source of information for Celene, necessary intelligence in preparation for hostilities which were surely forthcoming. The capture of the Githyanki vessel was also seen as a practical step; Aerdaluna and his companions found themselves in need of fast, reliable transportation to pursue the course of the final mission they were planning on behalf of the late Seer; another deed Aerdaluna credited to the Githyanki.
Aerdaluna used a spell to contact one of the highly placed moles he had left in the Githyanki encampment, a well-placed soldier within the Githyanki military, Githyanki Captain, Karluth used her rank and power at the bequest of Aerdaluna arranging for an ambush of a Githyanki vessel to investigate an imagined incursion. The vessel was ordered from Brindenford to halt a Grimlock infestation, little did they know that they were sailing into a trap of Aerdaluna’s design!
The ship arrived, and the Githyanki Captain ordered most of their forces overboard to attack their imaginary foes, a well stocked group of Grimlock invaders hiding in a cave on the borders of a virgin wood. These invaders were nothing but illusions created to draw the Githyanki from the ship. As they departed, Aerdaluna transformed into a bird and scouted the flying ship and finding that only a skeleton crew remained he quickly return to the forest where his companions were hiding. The companions included the Drow hero Zan, the dwarf cleric Smitty, Freya the half-elf, the half-giant Silent Pete and his followers, along with Aerdaluna’s henchmen the human Charley, and the Urskan Smokey. Aerdaluna transformed again to his normal form and reached deeply into his pocket withdrawing a small, infinitely dark patch of cloth. This cloth-like material was his mystical portable hole, which he carefully unfolded until the dark patch was wide enough to engulf a man. He hurried the party to enter the portable hole. One after another the companions disappeared in the darkness amidst a cacophony of grumbles and complains such as, “Get off o’me you most disgusting of oafs, as I would believe thee groping of thine filthy, stubby digits was but an accident!” As quickly as possible, Aerdaluna refolded the portable hole and keeping it in his hand, he teleported back to the ship.
A battle followed that was shift and overwhelming. The outcome of the battle was at once certain and never in doubt. Of greatest concern to Aerdaluna was that prisoners be taken so that they might successful commandeer the vessel; Aerdaluna succeeded in this goal by casting a Circle of Binding to prevail against those Githyanki at the helm making it difficult for them to escape using their strange dimension hopping powers. Having done this Smokey plied his vast strength upon the Githyanki forcing their surrender. Zan and Silent Pete having shown a measure of restraint also succeeded in taking prisoners from amongst the Githyanki they battled below decks Aerdaluna quickly charmed the prisoner and chose the best among them to be the party’s new helmsman and together they quickly made their escape. Any a final retribution, Aerdaluna summoned and set an elemental dragon he brought forth from the clouds and set it upon the surviving Githyanki troops below thus covering their escape and leaving any surviving Githyanki with a tale that might sow doubt within the ranks of the Githyanki.
As they departed, in a final act of defiance to the Githyanki, Aerdaluna marked their victory by rechristening the ship, the Eclipse.
As they traveled from the site of the ambush Aerdaluna began probing the minds of the captured Githyanki in earnest. He learned all he could of the operation of the ship while forcing the Githyanki prisoner to divulge everything they knew of its operation to Caretaker, the new Captain of Eclipse. Caretaker choose from among the captured Githyanki picking the most fit helmsman from the group and upon this Githyanki, Calli’tao, the Elven Wizard plied his most powerful enchantments to permanently alter Calli’tao’s outlook on life, modifying it so Calli’tao would be both a honest and forthright companion completly dedicated to both Caretaker and Aerdaluna and a true friend to their companions. He also taught the Githyanki to speak proper common and Elven languages without the slurred barks common to Githyanki. The other two Githyanki were also charmed and geased into surrendering themselves to Celene providing the leaders there with all the valuable intelligence they could provide.
Flush with their victory the party set themselves upon their next goal, a tower appearing vaguely like a lighthouse on a small island barely able to contain the tower located in the bay of Blackmoor. A tower said perhaps to be the keep of an evil Whisper Gnome Necromancer of the vilest reputation. This thought to be the location of one of gems the party was determined to find, the gems describes in the note they had found in the Seer’s cave. Boldly, but ill-prepared the party set course for the tower, never expecting the terrible price they would pay for their lack of caution.
Right away Aerdaluna was convinced that the decision to take the ship had been wise, further study suggested that teleportation was especially dangerous near this tower. The trip to the tower was swift and uneventful. Eclipse cut through the open air like a dream while the companion relaxed inside in complete cover. They weren’t desirous of confrontation, Eclipse is a well armed vessel but the lacked the crew necessary to man these armaments so the companions wisely avoided populated areas. Caretaker’s navigation had been flawless; the man proving to be a truly gifted pilot. Sooner than anyone expected the tower was sighted on the horizon. It stood out as some form of abhorrent lighthouse that attracted ships to destruction rather than safety. They approached the tower under the cover of heavy dark clouds, a drizzle hung in the air occasionally tossed by a firm easterly wind. Aerdaluna noticed sea birds dancing on the wind their wings spread wide, gliding effortlessly where the wind god carried them. With a thought he transformed to a bird and with his topaz dragon Nebula he flew off to scout the tower.
The foot of the tower stood amidst a mass of built up wreckage. Aerdaluna silently wondered what treasure one might find among the shells of these once proud ships. He and Nebula landed easily upon the highest portion of the tower and as his footing secure he transformed to his natural form, for it is only in true form could he freely use his powers. As he transformed he immediately slipped and clutched frantically for firm purchase realizing immediately that his natural form was not well suited for the slender ledge he had so easily held while in the form of a bird but is was a silly mistake nothing more he mused never realizing the portent of the moment. Again steadied Aerdaluna reached out with his mind trying to touch any intelligence that might be concealed in the area of the tower; but the thick stone of the tower gave up no secrets. Soon enough the others were roping their way down to the tower.
Here at the highest point of the tower there was a covered central portion that held a large glowing crystal, beyond this a narrow observation circled the central structure. The narrow path was uniform throughout its circumference save for a trap door in one section of the walkway, here there was a pile of thick rope stained red as if coated with blood. Zan and Nebula spotted movement within the pile and it became immediately evident that this was no normal rope!
With little hesitation the companions attacked as the rope rose up uncoiling like a snake taken on a shape not unlike that of a large man engulfed in a heavy wet red mist. The party of adventurers attacked without hesitation, weapons at the ready fast than the eye could follow. Zan was first on the scene and from the opposite side Aerdaluna cast a spell causing pyres of flame to leap from the cold stone of the tower directly beneath the demon of ropes catching strange red mist afire making it certain that they were fighting not just one to monsters created of some fell magic. Soon the entire party was battling these creatures and it was clear that they could not stand against the party’s combined power, both creature were quickly destroyed leaving the way open to explore the interior of the tower.
In the room below, the party found a web of light, woven into a lattice for some unknown purpose. Aerdaluna did not like the appearance of this and guessing at its source he advised Smokey to hurl a boulder at the large crystal above. Smokey’s aim was true and when the rock struck the crystal it shattered into a million pieces and the web faded into non-existance. Inside his potent mind Aerdaluna was certain that it had been the cause of the failures associated with teleportation in these parts. Satisfied the party moved on.
Including the roof of the tallest tower Aerdaluna explored four levels of the tower dying upon his arrival to the fifth level; together the survivor’s flight carried them through or past four additional levels. Aerdaluna’s thoughts grow more scrambled as death approaches but he a brief confrontation with two comely lasses he found locked in an embrace, they were freed by the shattering of the crystal and fled; and further on a unicorn was also freed from an icy embrace of it own. This a prison of ice formed by some ill conceived magical trap. This too the party destroyed in route to the fifth and final level.
When they reached the fifth level things happened quickly, too quickly for Aerdaluna. Briefly I remember gazing upon a dreary scene, a dark chamber with many alcoves – the foul vision of a ghoul or ghast and then a most dreadful keening, like the screeching voice of the Abyss and then nothing.
An eternity later at some other place and time my eyes opened, they opened completely for the first time. My eyes burned with the heat and the glory, yet it was not painful but rather somehow I was both blessed and blinded by the glorious radiance. My left hand was ablaze in brilliant transformation. I was awash and reaching for the light but my wing would not come, my feet glued to the ground. God, I wanted to fly, I heard music up above. I felt my soul inflate such that my body could not bear to contain it and I knew there was beauty such as I’d never known or imagined but I could not open my eyes as I was forced to shield them from the glare. Then unbidden a voice interrupted my reverie, a voice that called me back to the tasks I had not yet completed. I turned away. I covered my ears but then the soft voices were replaced by a louder, stronger voice in the head where I had no defense. So I listened and heard the words of Corellon and I was both saved and tasked with things unimaginable. I was congratulated for the successes of Aerdaluna’s intellect, and challenged to surpass them. I was tasked to apply my gifts to a higher cause, a cause for which I dare not fail. And I’ve no doubt that my strengths will not be enough; I will need every bit of skill both magical and diplomatic to succeed. I must somehow overcome my own failing and weaknesses, and won’t be able to do this alone but with allies strong, both old and new, by will of Corellon – we will succeed.
So say I, Solaris, first Elf of the most high, blessed of Celene, may Corellon protect us all.
The Silent Companions
Githyanki Raider crew
Necromancer Gnome and his undead companions
Total Gold: none yet
Aerdaluna True Resurrection cost: 30,000gp
Moondrop True Resurrection cost: 30,000gp
Smitty Raise Dead: free