Uneasy Meetings and Talk of Fish
The thick brine that hung in the air was always the first thing that adventurers arriving in Xendrik noticed. The air was heavy, almost like breathing in a wash of sea water with each breath one took. Three figures waited on the docks in the Harbor Disctrict of Stormreach. One a young artificer, about age 15, was continually observing the ships and strange rigging as well as the warforged dockworkers that loaded and unloaded cargo. The other two figures looked suspiciously at each other. The druid covered in dirt and other filth of the forest eyed the Cleric who stood with a proud arrogance well above his station, their mutual distrust for each other was palpable.
A ship pulled in carrying a mentalist from the far off continent of Sarlona and a female barbarian covered in hair, with slightly lupine features to her face. The Barbarian was clearly a shifter from the northern reaches in Khorvaire. The mentalist however was harder to read, he wore light clothing, presumably because of the unbearable humidity in the air, and his figure looked like he ate a meager diet. They approached the others waiting on the docks. After brief and nervous introductions the group discovered they had all recieved the same letter calling them into Stormreach. The letter was signed with the name Solaruun but, had no surname or directions on how to find him. The party decided to get their bearings and see what they could learn of Solaruun. They wandered through the docks making their way to the center of the Harbor district. On their journey they took note of a large boat house that jutted out into the water. Its connecting slip was guarded by three members of The Iron Watch, a group of warforged enforcers used to bolster the other “efforts” to enforce law in the city by the sea. The boat house seemed to have fallen in disrepair, its planks dry rotted and covered in unfortunate marine life that was left exposed to the blistering sun while the tides were low. The light of the four moons that hung in the sky exposed the falling, sun bleached roof and the gigantic steel lock that adorned the main doors.
The Party passed on and found their way to The Wavecrest Inn, one of the finest establishments in the area. As they entered the establishment the door man took notice of the motley band that was now coming in through his doorway. He said nothing but the stout, odoriferous, human looked sternly at the group. They sat and set about to order food. As they did the druid spoke up about the fact that the nature around the city provided all the bounty the party could ever need. The cleric spoke up, “I can order just as easily. Glorian is a great paladin of Dol Arrah and has no need to hunt while in a city with a fine tavern.”
Selwyn, the druid, chose to prove his point by collecting a bounty from the water itself. He darted out of the Wavecrest and returned a few moments later with a fish held in his lips. Selwyn dropped the fish on the table with a heavy thunk and set about to cleaning and preparing it. This action, of course, drew the attention of the waitress who in turn called for the doorman. There was a heated conversation about the appropriate decorum in this particular inn that almost lead to blows. Exartash attempted to influence the doorman’s mind. A chime sounded in the groups’ head. Suddenly the doorman seemed to shift in demeanor, Exartash convinced him that the group were friendly and did not wish to cause any more harm to the establishment or any of its patrons.
After a good meal, the group proceeded to ask around about the mysterious sender of the notes that drew them together. It was not long after that they were able to sus out where Solaruun was taking up residence. The Party decided to make haste to find their unknown patron.
Meeting the Madman, Solaruun’s Home
Sweat beaded down the heads of the whole group as they made their way on the hour long march through dense jungle. The humid air gave off indications of a downfall to soon come and about midway through their journey to Solaruun’s home. The last leg of the journey became rather unbearable but the group trudged on for fear of what might crawl out from the depth of the jungle.
After some time they came upon an overturned boat. The bottom, which now served as the top, was dotted with several holes, some of which were covered with aged and tattered tarps. The doorway was a rather hastily installed door set into an even more hastily cut frame. Sara reached up on her tip toes and knocked at the door. There was a long pause and then cacophonous a clamor followed by another long pause. Eventually the door cracked open and they say a small man hidden behind the door. Upon setting eyes on the group, the old man quickly swung the door fully open.
“Finally! You have arrived, just as I had seen… I’ve made so many preparations… The moons are correctly… the keys can be found… "
The words flowed endlessly from the little mans mouth. He stood almost at the height of a gnome but shared none of the distinguishing characteristics of the race. He was human, but his short stature and stout build made him look funny. He spoke in a frenzy of words and drew in quick breaths between outbursts. His Energy was impressive, especially considering the number of years he seemed to posses.
The Party stood at the doorway, gear covered in mud, bodies soaked to the bone, eagerly awaiting an opportunity to interrupt and make their way inside. After a few minutes of the old man’s babbling, courtesy was overcome by discomfort. Sara began to speak but could not utter the words quickly enough before Glorian pushed forward into the house.
The old boat was more spacious than it looked from the outside. Actual space, however, was rather limited due to the gargantuan collection of tomes, tapestries, and scroll tubes. Most of the collection was covered in thick layers of dust with the occasional set of finger prints disrupting the thick layer of filth. Almost hidden among the menagerie of texts was a small round table set with an assortment of potables that immediately drew the group to squeeze together at the table. Solaruun stood, bemused for a brief moment, as the swarm of mud drenched adventurers stomped through his usually quiet home.
Sera reached out and grabbed a small piece of fruit and jammed it in her mouth. As she chewed her eyes suddenly looked up at the small man, as if she had just had a revelation. “We all got these letters, and heard in town that you were Solaruun,” Sera blurted out with small chunks of fruit flying out of her mouth with her words.
“Yes… I suppose I do have a bit of… explaining to do.”
Solaruun sat and begin to talk quietly to himself for a few seconds, as if he was relaying what he was about to say to himself to make sure it made sense. As he collected his thoughts, the party looked at Solaruun then at each other with quizzical expressions.
Solaruun began to talk and with each word picked up momentum. By the end of his first sentence the old man was already speaking so incoherently that the entire band sat slack-jawed as the stream of words flowed from his mouth. His rambling covered a wide spectrum of topics including planes of existence, the moons of Eberron, causal effects of inter-planar meddling, and of impending doom. After several minutes of this, Exartash intervened, “If you would allow me, I could link to your thoughts through your mind to perhaps have a more clear picture of what you mean to convey.”
A small bell seemed to chime then for several moments Exartash and Solaruun just stared at each other. The group fell oddly quiet as they watched to see what would happen. It was Exartash who returned first. He shook his head for a second as a bemused expression took his face. He began to explain Solaruun’s reasons for summoning the party.
Talk of the influence of the planes of existence being linked with the influence of the moons of Eberron still rung through the heads of the group. Exartash expounded a wealth of information regarding the transformation of the prime material plane by making small changes in the outer planes. They would use a device that Solaruun had built, to chart their course. Though Exartash recalled the details of Solaruun’s plans clearly to the group, no one, including Exartash, fully understood exactly what it was that Solaruun had in mind. Curiosities had been piqued though; the thought of being able to influence the world around them in a profound way had already started minds working. That was when Solaruun invited them to his “attic”.
The group followed the stout little man up a ladder and through a narrow hatch into a large room. As they emerged from the hatch they stood it what would have been the cargo hold of the boat that made up Solaruun’s home. Built inside this room was a fantastic device of immense scope and grandeur. The floor of the “attic” was actually a rotating circular platform with a simple, but well crafted, scrying pool filled will crystal clear water at its center most point. Above the platform was a complex network of moving brass arms holding various apertures and lenses. On the far side of the platform was a series of pipes that led to an area just below the floor. Solaruun explained that this was connectors and vents from an everburning furnace to power the mechanical aspects of the device. After answering a barrage of questions from Sera about the specifics of the device, Solaruun moved to the scrying pool. As he touched the sides of the basin, the water began to shimmer.
With a sudden loud whir, the device above began to spin. Its lenses seemed to find the dim moon light that cast into the attic and render it into a brilliant beam of radiant energy bent by mirrors until it came to rest on the surface of the scrying pool. Solaruun chanted strange arcane phrases that seemed to be controlling the device. As he finished each phrase, small symbols began to glow around the edge of the basin. The machine came to an abrupt halt and only the dull hum from the furnace vents filled the air. Solaruun peered deep into the pool which now reflected 12 circles across its surface in what seemed to be a completely random pattern. Solaruun quickly took in the image and gave a sigh as he relaxed his concentration and the glow of the pool dimmed. He moved across the room slowly, as if fatigued, and moved to reduce the power from the furnace. He then moved towards the party and ushered them back down the hatch.
The group reconvened around the crowded table on the ground floor. Solaruun began to write feverishly on a piece of parchment. He used a stick of graphite that chipped as he wrote leaving his hands, and consequently his face, a mess of black smudges. After a few moments, the small man let out a gigantic shout as he exclaimed, “I know the next piece now, a map to the keys!” The party was quite befuddled at this point. The long journey and the strange man’s rambling about their apparent “fate” made the words blend into each other as he laid out the plan to recover this “map to the keys”.
Solaruun allowed the party to take a nights rest in the crowded basement of his home. Selwyn chose the respite of the jungle he was familiar with. Exartash and Anemone each found a small clearing of space on the floor in semi-secluded areas. Glorian took a small amount of time constructing a miniature fort from the books and claimed it as “Fort Glorian”. Sera’s eyes and body spoke volumes of her need for rest. Her mind wandered though and the allure of the vast collection of tomes was to great. She kept a small light lit on the table as she poured through as much of the texts as she could before finally falling asleep in the pages of one.
Journey to the Jungle, Mosquito Bites, Giant Problems
The next morning Solaruun woke early. The clamor that he created whilst packing a small pouch with various scrolls, tapestries, and books, awoke the party. Selwyn meandered into the room after spending the morning appreciating the sun rise over the thick jungle mist that he had come to love. As he entered, the sound of Solaruuns voice streamed on in a constant flow of almost incomprehensible words. What Selwyn gathered from the speech was, Solaruun had chartered a small airship to fly the group to an encampment of giants that lived deep within the jungles of Xen’drik. These giants apparently possessed a map that would lead them to the first “key”.
The group trudged out in the damp jungles to make their way back into town. For such a stout man, Solaruun moved with a swiftness that shocked most of the group. As they arrived in the Harbor district they made their way to the airship tower, boarded and eagerly looked over the starboard banister as they began to fly above the canopy.
When they neared the site, the pilot of the airship lowered the ship and cruised through the open areas in the canopy at a reduced pace. Solaruun peered over the banister, reaching up on his tip toes to do so. He would occasionally look at a scroll from his pouch or pull a small piece of tapestry out and count stitches. That is when the party began to hear the buzzing. A quick look to the aft of the ship revealed a small swarm of stirges that were quickly decending upon the small airship. A short battle ensued that left Anemone wounded and the party slightly shaken. As the excitement subsided Solaruun shouted, “There! Stop there!”
The Group disembarked the ship and journeyed into the thick of the jungle. They made their way through a maze of branches and mud. Along the way they were occasionally followed by a stray pack of dark elves. The drow seemed to keep a fair distance but kept a watchful eye as they party stepped deeper into the thick of the jungle. Various tracks, Solaruun’s direction, and shear luck led the group on their way. They eventually came upon an old structure, presumably left over from the age of giants. The structure was a strange obelisk that stretched up just below the canopy line. As they approached, a group of giants surrounded them. Solaruun quickly took the lead and began to spout a flurry of words. The giants gazed at him with befuddled looks on their faces. Exartash took the opportunity to take the lead in the conversation. He communicated the parties need to recover a lost “map” that the giants were rumored to posses.
The Giants demanded that the group complete three tasks over the course of three days: forage for a days worth of food for a giant, convince an ursine intruder to leave without violence, and finally climb the tallest tree in the jungle. The first task lead to a spider attack, the second allowed Selwyn a chance to show the party his usefulness, and the final lead to an exahusted and slightly frustrated Anemone. After the completion of their final task the group was presented with a strange box that was hidden within the obelisk. Inside this box was a strange diagram of a series of orbiting spheres. The party bid their hosts farewell and made way back to the city of Stormreach.
The Boat House
On the trip back to Stormreach, Solaruun began to examine and decipher the strange tablet that the group recovered from the giants. Its diagrams clearly were a depiction of some sort of astrological system, at least that was the best guess that Sera could muster from her over the shoulder examination of the tablet. It depicted a series of circles that appeared to be orbits around a central point. The orbits had upon them a total of thirteen circles. Drawn across the backdrop of this was a smattering of blue stones. They formed a central axis across the largest of the orbits. Their resemblance to the rings of Syberis on a clear day was clear. Solaruun was silent as he traced his fingers across its surface, attempting to understand the strange arrangement of the carvings.
As they approached the perimeter of Stormreach proper, Solaruun tucked the tablet into his pack. He turned to speak. His voice was clear and his tone was direct. “I must take this back to the Occularum immediately upon disembarking. I will need an amount of time to align the lenses and incorporate the tablet.”
With that he bounded to the docking area. The group decided to take a moment to enjoy the comforts of the city while the strange little man rushed off to his overturned shack in the woods. The thought had arisen in the back of everyone’s head, “Why are we following this stout lunatic?”
The thought was not vocalized but there was a lingering quandary as to the motives of their patron. Those thoughts were washed away as they approached the Wavecrest Inn. The thought of strong drink and warm food washed the troublesome pondering of Solaruuns mission away for the moment. The scintillating aroma of the fish being cooked with strong spice wafted though the doors at the Wavecrest.
After Anemone and Glorian had destroyed a veritable banquet of dishes and enough mead to kill lesser adventurers, they relaxed for a moment. They took in the sights of the Inn and the people coming into Stormreach from the harbor.
Points Still to be covered:
- Boathouse discovery
- Iron watch / Stormlord Omaeren
- Frost Joins the party
- Sahaugin Encounter / “Lokta”
- Rangers, tiger rugs, and freedom of movement
- The Boat House
- Repairing the Lens / Zekelyhuts
- First jump into Daanvi
- Kolyaruts / Quarats, Banishment
- Riots and destruction
- Parting ways
- Arena Battle