The Age of Man

Episode 6- Descent

The Quiet Men set up in an abandoned house, to keep watch over the town. While no fiery creatures came in the night, the sight of the fire crackling in the hearth brought memories of isolation and loneliness bubbling to the surface among most of the group. In the morning they set out into the hills, following vague directions pieced together from the villagers. The group plied their various skills in concert, and found the hidden mine entrance with little difficulty.
As the mine entrance came into view, so did the human who had fallen under the sway of the star beast’s call. Men in various states of transformation were arrayed in a camp, and they immediately charged out to meet the group in combat. Their fiery attacks weren’t enough to stop our heroes, and they were brought low in short order. The entrance to the mine had clearly been reopened recently, and the mechanical lift had two platforms ready to descend into the earth. After a brief rest, the group split themselves between the two and began their journey. As the neared the midpoint, two other platforms rose into view, carrying further creatures twisted by their proximity to the fallen star. Oz threw caution to the wind and leaped down upon the other platforms. He wasn’t able to hit his target, but did catch himself on the lower platform before plunging to the bottom of the shaft. The battle drew a pack of stirges, who sipped briefly from Adonia’s blood before being destroyed by hammer blows and bolts of magic. The twisted creatures put up a fiercer, but ultimately futile fight. The heroes made their way to the base of the mine shaft, and found no further resistance. Several tunnels were sealed with rubble and mystic runes, but one of the seals had clearly been cracked during the earthquake. There was evidence that the foul creatures had been doing what they could to clear the rubble and worsen the crack in the seal. Argent recalled the signature sloppiness he attributed to Kingu, the dead Dragonborn god of tyranny. He clearly understands enough of the magic to reinforce it, but to make a truly permanent seal would require a piece of the fallen star. Adonia is familiar with a process by which a piece of the star could be used to augment the weapons of their group, and allow them the possibility to actually destroy it.

The Quiet Men reviewed their options:
Seal it with their blood, and so long as one among their number lived the seal would remain in place.
Clear away the rubble and enter to snatch a piece of the star and use it to seal the place permanently.
Clear away the rubble and enter to snatch a piece of the star and use it to kill the beast.

After reporting in, and warning Sasumon to have a back up team ready should they fail, they decided to rest, and then enter to find the star. Their goal will be to acquire a star fragment as quickly as possible, and flee immediately. During the battle to distract the beast while the fragment is collected they will try to assess whether they would be able to defeat the beast with Adonia’s assistance, or if they should seal it away. If acquiring the fragment proves too difficult they will flee with the intent of sealing it in blood until they are better prepared.

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Episode 5- The Sun Also Rises

After defeating the swamp lizards and recovering the reed and clay effigy binding the spirit of the swamp, the Quiet Men retired to the monastery to discuss their options. The cleric of Seshat was introduced to Mime, who expressed his desire to bind his people in service to the goddess of mystery and magic.

The fate of the effigy was discussed, and the party argued over their two favorite options: Bind the spirit to Sokar’s service, so that it would act as a conduit for his power within the swamp, or take the effigy (mystically quieted so it would cause no issues) and have Argent create a massive golem to serve the empire, using the spirit as its animating force. It was ultimately decided that Valentine would dedicate the spirit to Sokar, which required freeing it and battering it into servitude.

The party sought out as much dry ground as they could find, and freed the spirit. Its fluid form of vines and earth was adept at twisting the party up and driving their blades (primarily Valentine’s) into each other, but the group was able to snuff out its malevolent motes and drive it to submission. In a short ceremony, Valentine bound the spirit to support the rise of civilization and the creation of new works within the swamp. The floating motes of moonlight turned golden, filling with the light of the mid day sun, and began to flow out into the swamp.

After turning in their report on the success of their mission, they received orders to investigate strange fires and disappearances a few days to the northeast. On their way out of the swamp they found the path they followed much dryer and easier to navigate.

They reached the foothills of the mountains, which some recalled used to hold an old Dragonborn mine. The mine had been abandoned by the Dragonborn after a meteorite smashed into it, after apparently failing to find a way to mine the ore that fell from the heavens. The locals told tales of strange moving fires in the night, people disappearing, and even a man made of fire that entered town and nearly set a building alight. Based on the information they found on some of the people who disappeared, they have formed a hypothesis that whatever is in the mine may have influences or affects on those who feel guilt or sorrow. They began a slow, determined search through the hills for signs of these creatures or their source.

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Episode 4- Swamped

The party begins the journey north toward Reed, a small village in the Moonlight Marsh where a knowledgeable cleric of Seshat has been stationed. Along the way, the heroes defeat a nest of stirges that were delaying the coastal road building efforts before heading into the wilds. Without way stations within which to rest, the influence of the star Gibbeth began to influence their dreams. Valentine led nightly prayers that eased these dreams for the faithful, and their ‘prisoner’ Mime even began to join these prayers during their journey.
Upon reaching the swamp, they began to see the floating wisps of light that give the Marsh its name, drifting randomly through the trees. They encountered a man poling a simple raft downriver, and learned that swamp lizards had recently attacked the village of Reed. He was going to get help transporting them to safety, and gave directions to the road the refugees would be traveling upon in their attempt to reach Seshat’s Rest.
As the group worked their way to the road they saw the beady eyes of swamp lizards pacing them. Valentine flooded the swamp with the light of his god and chased them away, and the party continued on. They found 15 refugees, several of whom were wounded, being slowly herded toward Seshat’s Rest by a young man named Leo. Among them was a bugbear named Gird, who seemed to be helping Leo keep order. After a quiet conversation with him, Grouse learned that the cleric had set up the monastery in response to an increase in raids by the swamp lizards. Their chief once had tremendous power over the swamp, and she believed that whatever idol he used to wield that power was hidden here.
The group helped heal the wounded refugees, and they quickly reached the monastery, which showed signs of a recent attack. The cleric they came in search of was watching over a few refugees of her own. They shuffled all the refugees inside and prepared to deal with an assault by the swamp lizards.
They didn’t have to wait long. A wave of lizards attacked, many of them somehow directing the motes of light in the swamp to aid them in their attack. They were ferocious, and mixed brutal melee attacks with large bursts of radiant lightning from their support. Even as they were being defeated, the lizards spoke of simply being the first wave.
The heroes took a few minutes to catch their breath and bind their wounds before they began to hear the sound of more lizards approaching. While one of them lay in wait within the water, their spies flickered in and out of visibility, calling down motes of light to burn and blind the party. Two mystics, wreathed in mist, directed a number of their minions to dig for something in the muck. After a long and painful slog, the heroes had nearly closed upon the mystics when they found the reed and clay effigy they sought. The motes within the swamp began to glow more brightly, and the lizards were able to use them with much more potency. They made a game attempt to escape the area, but the party had gotten too close. With the help of the cleric, our heroes retreated back to Seshat’s Rest with the idol after dispatching the 2nd wave of lizards.

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Episode 3- Reflection

The Quiet Men made their way out of the temple, escorting Angela and Lael back to the Mayor’s home. Oz remained outside the gates, Grouse and Argent circled to cut off any attempts to flee, while Valentine and Adonia went to meet the Mayor. They took him to Oz and revealed his real daughter, and then entered to catch her replacement. The maid went to bring the false Angela down, but returned without finding her. As the others went downstairs to the basement with the maid, Oz searched upstairs and discovered the dead body of the maid. Making use of their newly acquired sending stones he alerted the others, and the ‘maid’ was captured.

Once it was clear that the jig was up, the creature began to reveal something of its nature: Once native to the Feywild, The Fluid are the things responsible for a creature’s reflection in a pool of water or mirror. Sin used the glass dagger to somehow carve the Fluid off from the normal Feywild, crafting these creatures to serve her. When the temple was sealed away they were left in a sort of stasis, without any real sense of passing time and events. Having realized that Sin was slain, they seek a purpose, and they believe the burgeoning Erathin Empire would be their best option.

The Quiet Men sequestered the creature, and began to debate their best course of action. Argent seemed quite firm that the creature was a murderer and a monster and should be slain out of hand. Grouse an Adonia counseled that it might be best for the Empire if an alliance could be made, if the creatures could be made to follow the rules of the civilized world. Oz and Valentine seemed to see wisdom in both sides of the argument, and both felt that they should hear from their superiors before moving forward.

The field communication receiver was heated up, and contact with Lieutenant Commander Sasumon was established. After a detailed report, Sasumon told the team that if she were to take custody of the creature that any decisions would become bogged down by bureaucracy, and that the question of how many rights extended to the thing would complicate things further. She extended the group the right to make bargains on behalf of the Empire, and asked them to settle things without her involvment for expediency.

After further debate, Valentine proposed that Seshat‘s role as a goddess of mystery might make her a logical choice for the Fluid’s service, and that he knows of a priestess that he trusted who had recently taken a post outside the town of Reed in the Garshen Province just to the north. The group began another round of questioning, seeking to determine if this one truly could be trusted. Since it claimed to have no name, Valentine gave it the moniker Mime, and they asked to know if he could truly negotiate for his people. He assured them that as the first to enter the physical world he could, though he would need to contact his people to explain any details- a process that would require a darkened room and access to a mirror. He did all he could to cooperate, and indicated that they would happily serve the empire if it allowed them to perform as they were meant to in safety. When Argent proposed that the knife might be used to seal away or destroy their realm (and them with it) he became more impatient to begin the alliance, but the Quiet Men sequestered him again to attempt their meeting Isabella, the elven bandit.

Paul was nervous as he took them to the meeting spot, and when it was revealed that they knew of him using the necklace he admitted that he sent feelings that she was in danger, and he didn’t think she would show up. As they approached the clearing, Valentine slipped quietly into the woods, moving toward one of the hidden figures he scented in the trees. Argent called out for Isabella and she cautiously stepped form the trees. Initially at a distance, they discussed her fears that things had gotten well out of hand, and that she just wanted to arrange what she could to protect her men. Paul was sent home, so they could question her more openly. When she was told of the dangers the knife proposed, and that her lover Lael had been replaced she gave up what little resistance she had and placed herself into their custody. She told of being hired by a Dragonborn name Kor Haleen in Ashera. Her and her band were blindfolded and after a few hours walk they found themselves in the Fields of Shae. They were sent specifically to find the dagger, and when she got Paul’s warning she sent the dagger and most of the band to meet their employer, while she remained behind to negotiate for the jailed members of the band. She agreed to lead them to the meeting site.

They traveled northeast, and as they cleared the woods Valentine caught sight of a large animal at the fringes of the trees, though it did not follow them into the fields. They followed Isabella’s directions and came upon the meeting site, where the remaining members of her band (and the Fluid who hid among them) had been cut down by physical arms and potent magic. The bodies hadn’t been robbed, though the dagger was gone. Argent and Adonia found evidence that a linked portal had been used, though it was impossible to tell what location it once led to. The trail, for now, was at an end.

The Quiet Men returned to the Mayor’s home to resolve what could be resolved. Argent confessed to the fact that he recalls having given Sin the knowledge that she needed to create the Fluid. Isabella, Lael, and the other bandits are sentenced to be put to work expanding the irrigation ditches and other projects for Abdera for a year. At the end they would be given their wages (low, but fair) so that they might afford to start their lives without being forced to return to criminal pursuits. Valentine took them aside and spoke to them of how the judgement against them wasn’t simply punishment- it was a chance for redemption. They had gotten a glimpse of what it is that the Quiet Men stand against, and the costs of defending the Empire, and he told them that if, at the end of their sentence, they wished to join he would speak on their behalf.

The group decided to keep the loose coin (950 gp) and items of magic found within the temple, but turned over the tremendous value of art and books to the town of Abdera. The spoils taken by the bandits would be redistributed to the victims as best the Mayor was able, and Paul would be denied any chance to associate with Isabella. Mime and the party set forth with fresh provisions from Abdera, their travel quickened by Grouse’s Travelling Chant, so they can arrange for the Fluid to enter Sashet’s service.

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Episode 2- Shell Game

Upon arriving in Abdera, the players were greeted by Mayor Orestes and invited into his home. Their prisoners were escorted to jail while they learned that the situation they had been sent to investigate had grown more complex. Of the four workers who had excavated the temple one had died, one had vanished, and one had picked up stakes and left town. There was also a break in at the Mayor’s home that resulted in the murder of the serving man- Michael. In addition, one of the items excavated from the temple was broken (a mirror) and the other was stolen (a knife made of glass).

The PCs questioned the household and began to notice holes in a few stories. It appeared that Paul, the oldest son of the Mayor (17), had broken into the basement and stolen the knife. He may also have uncovered the mirror, and when Michael was cleaning up in the room some sort of shapeshifting creature left the mirror and murdered him.

Paul took the dagger to his girlfriend, an elven woman who recently came to Abdera to ‘seek her fortune’ by seeking out others’ fortunes. She convinced Paul that if he helped her get some of the items from the temple they would have enough money to flee Abdera and set up in a real city together. Paul revealed he was intending to meet with her the following night, and would take them to the spot if they promised not to hurt her (since he was the one who stole the knife). When he went to his room, however, Adonia cast her senses up into his room and observed him holding a necklace and concentrating- it seemed he somehow had a device that allowed him to send her a message.

The Quiet Men decided to take the evening’s rest, and visit the uncovered temple in daylight. The carvings they found on and in the temple led them to believe it was a temple to Sin, the three-eyed white Dragon. Within they found a few minor items of power in the entryway, adjacent to a room with a teleportation circle, and two dead Dragonborn bodies. One had an unusual dagger, and the other bore a holy symbol no one had seen before, a shiny black eye on a flat black field.

The living quarters of the temple were explored, and in addition to numerous objects of art and rare books they found a hidden coffer containing 950 gp worth of coins and gems, 3 healing potions, 2 vials of Alchemist’s Frost, and a mostly burned collection of documents related to the sealing off of the lower reaches of the temple- a scrap of which said ‘… lower temple has been sealed off as well, and it’s entrance hidden. Traps have been set to discourage intrusion, so that the Fluid can be retrieved when needed. We should be ready to leave come nightfall. I only hope that all this work is wasted, and that Ariken’s Vision never comes …’.

The party then descended into the deeper parts of the temple, where a series of traps separated Katharos from the rest of the group for a few minutes. They overcame the traps and reunited, and Katharos described seeing evidence that what awaited them was a primal creature of darkness, and that several light sources would need to be lit to insure their safety. They continued on and were attacked by several swarms of twisted and malnourished Drakes before entering a massive ritual chamber.

A strange creature with fluid features loomed over the mayor’s daughter in the center of the room, as each mirror reflected her image back at them. A brief wave of emotion passed over Argent‘s features at the site, and he declared that the ritual must be stopped. Oz advanced cautiously, casting a suspicious eye on Katharos. Valentine charged forward to meet the strange creature in battle, driving it back and away from the girl. Katharos moved forward as if to help him, but then Oz’s suspicions proved well placed, as he drove his knife into his allies back. In the parties light, each mirror disgorged another of the foul creatures, whose flesh twisted into a mockery of the party as they swarmed them. Others slipped from the shadows to strike from surprise, and the battle was truly joined.

With Oz and Valentine binding the bulk of the mirror creatures, Argent and Adonia cast their magics through the mirrors to bring low groups of the foul shapeshifters. From the shadows at the far end of the chamber came another surprise, Argent the Panagyric’s faithful manservant Grouse swept in to lend his aid.

The party worked seamlessly together, pinning down the enemy as the mirrors were destroyed and preventing young Angela from being taken from the chamber (though she did suffer a most unfortunate stabbing, before Grouse’s stirring words strengthened her resolve). A single one of the creatures escaped into a mirror, and the rest were slain. It was clear from the condition of the girl that she had been held there since the day of Michael’s death, a second victim of the thing in the mirror. Cells behind the ritual chamber held Katharos’ body, an Elven brigand, the girl’s cell, and two other recently occupied but empty cells. A rocky outcropping above the ritual site held a dragon egg coated and surrounded by layers of choke frost

The party took custody of the Elven prisoner (in exchange for information about Isabella, the leader of the brigands), and the egg, then began their journey out of the temple.

Loot-
An Anunnaki idol- Functions as a dowsing rod, but with a +4 bonus to nature rolls when foraging.

An Ironskin Soulfang- Power (Consumable): Minor Action. Until you remove this soulfang, you gain resist 3 to all damage, and you take damage equal to half your healing surge value at the start of your turn or if you remove the soulfang on the turn you use it. Damage caused by this soulfang cannot be reduced by any means.
A coffer containing 950 gp in coins and gems
3 healing potions
2 vials of Alchemist’s Frost
3 Sending Stones
1 Dragon egg
1 Elven prisoner
1 recovered 8 year old
A number of rare books and art that would typically belong to the town of Abdera, though you could likely smuggle them out of you wish to keep the proceeds (likely around 100,000 gp worth of items)

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Episode 1- Setup

The Quiet Men were handling a series of routine jobs, traveling west toward the edge of the Empire, when they received a communication from Lieutenant Commander Sasumon, who ordered them to investigate some items recovered in the outpost town of Abdera. Mayor Orestes had ordered the expansion of their irrigation ditches, and the entrance to an old Dragonborn temple was discovered. While such a find would normally be of interest, the fact that the temple appeared to have been sealed and hidden before the fall of the Dragonborn Gods is of particular concern. The Mayor is storing the items initially uncovered, and is awaiting aid before exploring further.

As they traveled through the woods within a day’s ride of Abdera, Katharos spotted an area where a naturally good ambush position seemed to have been subtly improved to be an even better trap. When he drew closer to investigate, the leader of a band of Elven bandits sought to extort an exorbitant toll from them. When they revealed that they were part of the military, the haughty bandits raised the price and sprang the trap.

The bandits had the advantage of good positioning and preparation, and their brutal opening moves threatened to overwhelm the party even though they sought to avoid fatal blows. The Quiet Men rallied, protecting their fallen friend and working together to take down most of the band. The leader and one of the archers escaped, while the other four were taken captive.

The party was able to spot the tracks of the leader, but decided to take their prisoners in town to interrogate them rather than abandoning their horses (and prisoners) to follow deeper into the woods.

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