Before the party left for Sasserine, Manthalay Meravanchi asked for a letter to be delivered to an Emil Draskus in Shadowshore district of the city. In return for a letter of introduction to Zasker Grankus, a former mercenary that now runs the arena in Sasserine, Mendel agreed to deliver the letter. Dacien collected the group, and then teleported them all to the docks of the city. Most of the party had shopping on their minds, and set about equipping themselves for the expedition to the centre of the Isle of Dread. Mendel visited the temple to Asterius to speak with the head cleric, Lirali Woarali, about his investments. As Mendel entered, Lirali quickly ushered him to one side, and gave him a warning - assassins had been hired to track down and kill Mendel and Zhedd! The order had come out from the Taskerhill family, in retaliation for the death of their child to some archer bushes that Mendel and Zhedd had been responsible for planting in their gardens - itself, a retaliation for some underhand business practices in the logging industry. Lord Taskerhill was also financially backed by the Kellani family, who still bore malice to the party for their part in the death of their daughter Rowyn in the Lotus Dragon affair. Lirali had instructed city residents faithful to the church not to pursue the bounty, but knew there were plenty of local Hinterlanders desperate for coin that would take their place. Before Mendel left, Lirali also offered to have the not to Emil Draskus delivered - warning Mendel that Emil was the less-than-reputable lord of the Shadowshore district, and that little good could come from a partnership between Mathanlay and Emil.
The rest of the party shopped for their goods - finding the magic items they were after, but not the rarer materials, which seemed to only be available to those with the right connections or who could pull in the right favours. Zhedd visited the Witchwardens, who still harangued him about the missing sample topi zombie they had requested from his adventures on the isle of Dread. With a warning that membership was not to be taken lightly, Zhedd sought to rejoin the others. Mendel and Stefanie visited the arena, and with the letter of introduction, met with Zasker Grankus. Initially distracted and blunt, he soon came round to the idea of large specimens form the Isle of Dread being put on as spectacles in the arena. He offered to reward them for any creatures they brought back, even aquatic ones where the arena could be flooded for the entertainment of the crowd.
When the party rendezvoused in the evening, Mendel passed on the warning about the assassins. The next morning, the party went together to visit the Church of the Whirling Fury and Lady Silvermane.The silver chains that barred the strange building melted away as they approached, and the doors swung open. The interior was largely bare, and Lady Silvermane stood in its centre. As the partystarted to fill her in on events on the island, particularly what they had found in the aboleth city and the kopru's plans, she paled and bade them silence. A portal opened in front of them, and she ushered them through. The party emerged into a giant forest full of lush foliage, on a plane that Dacien assumed was aligned with Brynn - the plane closest aligned to the Sphere of Matter. Lady Silvermane revealed that she was in fact an exalted celestial creature called Gwynharwyf, and Lady Silvermane was a mortal identity or avatar she had created for herself. This allowed her to pursue her goals, following the immortals Djaea and Khoronus in protecting Mystara from interference of immortals, but also keeping a wary eye out for signs of Outer Beings making incursions into the Prime plane that might threaten all of creation. Gwynharwyf also alluded to a long, bitter enmity with Demogorgon that meant she was especially interested in the activityies of the kopru on the island. She asked the party to return to the aboleth city to confront Rakis-Ka and ensure the safety of the artefact there so that the dark secrets of the aboleth, themselves servitors of the outer beings, could not be reclaimed. The party also mentioned the strange stone flask they had found, emblazoned with the insignia of both Djaea and Khornous - their turned out to be an artefact sacred to the Church of the Whirling Fury that allowed drinkers to rethink or re-imagine choices they had made in their life - much as Djaea herself mulled and agonised over every decision. The party gave Gwynharwyf the flask, and in return, she used some of her celestial power to infuse Mendel's bow with holy energy. The party left, promising to return to inform Gwynharwyf/Lady Silvermane of what they found on the central plateau, and just what Demogorgon's plans might be.
The party then made their was back under the Isle of Dread to the aboleth city. The shimmering blue curtain that held back the water was not in the chamber where they last found it - but in the corridor a mile or so further on. In the cavern itself, they found Rakis-Ka by the artefact, larger than before, and glowing with a crackling blue light. They party had carefully prepared themselves, and through a combination of resisting the barrage of spells, and battering through his defences, managed to cut Rakis-Ka down, resulting in a large explosion of arcane energy. Amongst his belongings they found some detailed mathematical theorems on the nature of the universe which could provide incredible knowledge and insight - but Rakis-Ka's last words that he 'would still destroy them all' hung in the air.
Over the next couple of days the party made their way to the surface and then used Stefanie's air walk spells to whisk them to the plateau. The climate here was much cooler, and the air filled with drizzling rain. They landed at the lip of a grassy plain, and could see forests in the distance to the south. heading in that direction, Zhedd spotted a treant uproot itself and head away. Hurrying forward, Zhedd questioned the treant about what was happening on the plateau, but it had little insight - save that there was a village of humans by a lake in the centre, and he had heard the screams of his brothers from an island in the middle of that lake. Dacien decided to summon a shelter so the party could rest and investigate in the morning.
Our Last Best Hope
16 hours ago