5/15/2014 SEASON FINALE: “When keepin’ it real goes wrong…”

Participants – EVERYONE!

When we last left the party, Darius had just botched a simple robbery, attempted to kill a child and set a house on fire, drawing guards from across the city of Reyshire.  Darius did manage to snatch a safe that the party planned on taking back to Ambrus in the hopes that it contained the ledger he requested that they retrieve.  Unfortunately, Myles was still a bit on edge due to his recent blackrock use and he and Darius almost came to blows.  In the end, Myles dropped the safe on the cobblestone road, drawing the attention of a group of guards who noted the group running away from the burning house carrying a safe…

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Unaware of the guards approaching from behind, Myles continues to stand and argue with Darius.  Ash drunkenly points them out and Myles pivots and throws almost the entire pocket’s worth of pocket-sand-blackrock in their faces.  As the guards choke and cough on the powdered drugs, Myles points in the direction of Ambrus’ office and yells “RUNNNNN!!!!” and the party disappears into the night, safe back in Myles’ arms.

pocketsand

The party arrives at Ambrus’ office and the Captain addresses them through a slot in the door and asks if they completed the job cleanly or not.  Myles and Ash drop the ball and break Darius’ attempt to lie by saying that they “hope” they got the book and that it “could have been cleaner…”  Darius attempts to blame Myles for the groups’ near failure but the fighter draws his blade and puts it to the halfling’s throat.  Ambrus quickly opens the door and Darius says, “Yeeeeee-eeeesh, I was just kidding!”

The group enters the room and Myles has to physically restrain Ash from leaping head first into the mountain of blackrock across the room.  Darius makes quick work of opening the safe and pulls out a large ledger [everyone breathes a heavy sigh of relief] and hands it to Ambrus.  Darius mentions that there’s a bunch of money in the safe as well and he attempts to parlay a reward with Ambrus.  The guard captain tells the party that they don’t deserve a reward and that, “you should be happy that you get to leave with your lives and your friends, but if you ever fuck with our business again, we will track you down and we will kill you.”

this is bullshitAmbrus and his men escort the party back to the docks and wait outside as Myles meets with Franthar to check on the party’s reward for the sale of the Deceitful Eel only a few eventful days prior.  Franthar tries to swindle Myles over the portion of the reward the party expected in coin, but Myles is in no mood.  After some threatening words, the dock master writes a certificate from the city of Bjorkgyr (Saldun, the captain of the ruined boat they picked up’s home town) for the remaining balance of the negotiated reward.  Myles weighs his anger with Franthar for trying to hustle him against his overwhelming desire to get out of Reyshire and he decides to relent and get back to the boat as quickly as possible.

When he arrives back to the boat he encounters Ash who seems almost back to his normal self.  Ash explains that he was able to pray his addiction away, but that the primal nature of the desire unlocked something deep within his Northern heritage [unlocking the Barbarian within].  Below deck, Myles encounters Amon and Barundar discussing their almost-spiritual experiences while under the influence of blackrock [wherein they both learned many new spells] and he sees Darius sulking in a small compartment, [“probably figuring out how to kill the rest of us…” Myles thinks].

The party sets off from the docks, hopefully leaving Reyshire forever under Mercy as acting-captain, [“Because Gracie is still a bit banged up.” Nathan says…  In true form, Cameron knocks one out of the park with the comment, “You’re damn right she’s been banged up!”]

kobe10

Cameron finally pulls through.

The party travels uneventfully to the next port city of Zaragund to attempt to visit the Archmage for Amon [regarding the cynopic jar containing the remnants of the Sun King] and Ash [to ask about curing the curse of the fish people of Wenshire].  The port leads to a small village along the road to Zaragund about a half-day’s journey inland.  As soon as the party’s boots hit the ground, the locals approach to show their “friendliness”.  As it turns out, the road to Zaragund is one massive tourist trap of poorly made goods, knockoffs of well-known items, and hair braiders.  Amon casts a cantrip that makes it appear that he’s bathed in flames, buying the party a small respite from the attacking commoners along the road.

man on fire

“Don’t worry, I’ve got this totally under control.”

The party crests a large hill and a large city is revealed before them.  More remarkably, a gigantic floating mass of land hovers hundreds of feet above the center of the city.  A series of towers have been erected throughout the city, reaching towards the island, but none reach the unnatural landmass.  Presumably, this is the location of the Archmage’s tower.

The streets of the city are marked with magic shops of all kinds.  Amon uses his arcane powers in an attempt to locate the best magic shop, but [upon crit failing] is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of magical essence in the air and instead, finds the worst magic shop in the entire city.  Amon bursts into the shop triumphantly, but is devastated to find that it’s filled with junk.  He sulks back out into the street, defeated.  Darius refuses to take no for an answer, and barges back into the magic shop to try his luck.

The Halfling picks up the crappiest looking trinket in the shop and inquires about it to the shop owner.  After paying a gold piece for the junk, he successfully builds a repertoire with the shop owner.  He coyly extracts a bit of information from the shop owner by asking “Since this is clearly the best magic tricket shop in town, which of these crappy stores steals the most business from you?”  The shop owner responds with the name “Yan’dar” and Darius quickly drops the act and leaves the shop.  Through asking around, the party quickly learns that Yan’dar’s shop is in the center of town, almost directly under the floating island.

As the party explores the courtyard in which Yan’dar’s shop is located, Barundar spots a gem shop and wanders off unnoticed.  Inside he discusses the gem he sold back in Otemshire weeks before and, upon describing it to the gem shop owner, learns that it was likely an invaluable artifact containing ancient magic.  Based on a crude drawing that Barundar provides, the shop owner posits that it was likely a stone enchanted with the ability to transport people to and fro.  Barundar is devastated by his loss but returns to meet the group without so much as a word to his friends.

Meanwhile, in the courtyard, Amon spots a waterfall spilling from the floating island into a fountain nearby.  With no clear means of entry to the island, Amon decides to test the Archmage’s wit and steps into the fountain under the assumption that he will travel up the waterfall.  His feet barely hit the bottom of the fountain before a guard is upon him, dragging him back out.

No-Way-Jose-Gif-On-Full-House

Nathan never said that the guard wasn’t adorable.

The guard is unimpressed when Amon and Ash declare that they have business with the Archmage.  The guard says, “You too? Go ahead and get in line with everyone else…” and points out a long line of people waiting to enter a grand building across the courtyard from Yan’dar’s shop.

Hoping that Yan’dar can pull some strings for them, the party to decides to bypass the line and visit the magic shop first.  The three story structure is stacked to the roof with all things magic.  Customers browse through racks upon racks of bizarre magical items.  Amon tries to bribe an employee with a whole silver piece but ups it to a gold and makes some progress.  Eventually, the party is called to a back room where they meet Yan’dar.

Inside, a silver-haired elf beckons the party to sit at his fireplace as he asks them what they need.  Amon draws the wand [from FOREVER ago] and hands it to Yan’dar to identify.  Yan’dar holds out his other hand for payment and Amon slaps it [possibly the first ever low-five in the world].  Realizing his mistake, Amon coughs up two gold pieces.  The wand is identified as “Yan’dar’s Wand of Paralyzing” and contains 13 charges.

Amon explains that it’s imperative that they need to get to the Archmage immediately, but Yan’dar waffles.  Darius speaks up from the back of the room and says, “100gp in your hand if you get us up there…”  The room falls silent but for the hum of various magical items as a sly grin crawls across the elf’s face.  The wizard retorts, “For… 200 gold I can guarantee you receive an audience with him today…”  Darius laughs and says, “150 and you have us there within the hour, final offer.”  Yan’dar hurriedly snatches the bag of coins and exits the room to arrange the meeting.

He returns some time later and reports that he has gained them access to the Archmage’s main waiting room.  Amon gets fed up at Yan’dar and reveals the Sand Master’s canopic jar with a flourish, saying, “You see, I don’t need to wait….”  Yan’dar topples over his grand wingback chair and, cowering behind it, says, “Oh GODS!  Do you even know what that IS?!?”  Amon steps forward and says, “Yea, I do motherfucker!  I’m no cut-rate wizard, now get us to the Archmage!”

magic_motha_fucka_your_highness

As Yan’dar tries to leave the room in a panic to deliver the party to the Archmage Darius stops him and informs him that it took him more than an hour.  “Whatever, just take this and leave my shop, leave me be!” and he places about 100 of the gold back into Darius’ hands.

Yan’dar escorts the party across the courtyard and to the beginning of the long line of people waiting to see the Archmage.  He shoves the party through a door and huffs back to his magic shop to recover.  The party stands in a sterile white room, lit from all directions and yet none at the same time.  Magical lights and visions dance across the walls as ethereal voices review the tales of the Archmage.  The party approaches a desk and a woman guides them into a much smaller room [that operates like an elevator of sorts] wherein they are bent and squeezed into unnatural shapes and angles beyond comprehension.

They are collectively ripped back to their normal composition as the room dings a happy bell sound as the doors open to reveal a room very similar to the one they had just left.  Light seems to come from all directions at once as they approach yet another receptionist who proceeds to escort them to a room.  The receptionist opens the doors and reveals a space of pure blackness, beyond just a dark room, the space beyond the door appears to be beyond existence.  The receptionist claps her hands and the darkness blinks away as a fully furnished room appears within the void.

The party stands outside the newly created room glancing nervously at each other.  Ash sighs heavily before proceeding into the room.  The remainder of the group follows after seeing that their cleric didn’t get eviscerated by passing through the doorway.  As they enter and begin to explore the room, each begins to notice that the room is changing, almost accommodating to their number.  Chairs seem to split and duplicate themselves and tables stretch until the room is furnished perfectly for five men to relax comfortably.

The walls are lined with scrolling depictions of the Archmage’s accomplishments and memorabilia from his vanquished foes.  The group spends an unknown period of time in the room, lounging, eating, exploring but never sleeping.  The longer they are in the room, the less time it feels that they have spent.

Suddenly, the room dings the same happy bell sound as the prior room and a door that no one really remembers having seen before slides open.  The party crowds around the opening and sees a vast library through the portal.  Ash again steps forward first.  A warm voice echoes though the expanse, “Oh, hello, I hope you didn’t have to wait long… please make yourselves at home.”  The party splits up and begins searching the shelves for interesting books.  Curiously, each manages to find a shelf full of books that suit their interests within moments.

walken

Eventually, a robed figure descends from the ceiling and apologizes again to the party for having made them wait.  The Archmage expounds about his complex and the various spells involved with its creation and maintenance, testing Darius’ patience.  The Halfling shouts out [to the most powerful wizard in existence] “So, after having made us wait for gods only knows how long to see you, you’re going to bore us to death with bullshit stories about your little floating island?  Come on and cut to the chase already!”

Ash immediately intervenes as the Archmage’s robes begin to billow [and presumably before the wizard banishes Darius to some unknown dimension] and the cleric apologizes about Darius’ mood.  He then explains about the fish people in Wenshire and the curse.  The Archmage considers this for a moment and consults a number of books that magically float their way from shelves to him.

“Well, I’ve got good news and bad news…  The good news is that there is a way to fix the fish-people problem…  We can easily change them into dogs or cats or even rocks, then they won’t be cursed to become ravenous fish-people…”  “W-wait… I want to make them into people-people…” Ash interjects.  “Oh, well that brings me to the bad news then.  To perform the ritual to resolve the curse, you’ll need to venture to the queen of the fish-people and find her egg.  Once you have the egg you can relatively easily extract the yolk you’ll need for the ritual.  Then it’s as easy as performing a year and a half long cleansing ritual with a complement of acolytes and absorb the curse into yourself.”  “Into myself?  How safe is that?” Ash asks timidly.  “Weeeeelllllll, it’s hard to say.  It could be as simple as you smell like a fish for a few days, it could be that you become a hideous fish beast or you could die, who knows.  That’s part of why magic is so fun!” the Archmage says with a flourish as sparks inadvertently shoot from his hands.

The Archmage doesn't get excited until MULTIPLE sacrifices are necessary.

The Archmage doesn’t get excited until MULTIPLE sacrifices are necessary.

Before the Archmage begins to float away again, Amon rushes forward.  Hours [or is it days… years, maybe?] of pent up excitement over the sheer magnitude of magical energy spill forth from his tan mouth.  After spewing dozens of technical questions about magic and spells [all of which the Archmage answers with extreme boredom] Amon pulls the canopic jar from his robes.

walkenpalm

“MY GOD, WHY WOULD YOU BRING THAT HERE?!” The Archmage bellows.  “That jar should be sealed away somewhere very safe, why would you disturb the seals?”  Amon explains that the wards were broken and the evil energy was leaking and had corrupted the site and its protectors.  “Ugh, how could that have happened?  I sealed those jars away 1,000 years ago after failing to figure out a way to destroy them.  Amon stumbles upon [and scribbles down] the recipe for “dust of dryness” and finds a level 5 scroll.

As all of this magic discussion has been going on, Myles has been wandering up and down aisles thumbing his way through books on magical swords and enchanted armors of all kinds.  Darius, Barundar and Amon all notice that, as the Archmage began to float away towards the infinitely-distant ceiling, the wizard paused and inspected Myles.

The wizard calls out to Myles and begins to ask him questions about his past, his name and if he knew his parents.   Myles stumbles backwards, frantically answering questions until he bumps into a bookshelf.

“Remove your mask!”  The Archmage bellows, sparks flying from his eyes.  Myles throws his mask to the ground in frustration, crying out, “What the hell, man!?  Do you know something about me?  Do you know why there are so many of me running around!?”

cagepan

The Archmage pauses, face contorted in deep thought and confusion, he says, “62???  What in the world are you doing here, 62?” “62!?!” Myles shouts incredulously.  He continues,  “62 out of how many?!”  “Well, out of 100, of course… 100 attempts to build the perfect solider… and all failures… 62, which one were you…  Ah yes, ‘the incompetent fighter’.  Why are you here?”

“And just where in the hell am I supposed to be?  And what about all the others I’ve run into?”  Myles asks, explaining about Tyson and Willem.

“Uhh… well…. You were supposed to be destroyed – like the rest…  You see, centuries ago the Overlord commissioned the creation of an army of magically perfected clones to defend Stonehelm.  We tried many different techniques but could never get it right, each iteration was flawed in some way.  Some were rash, some timid… some sadistic, some compassionate… but none were perfect.  Each was eventually destroyed, or so we all thought.”

Myles stands before the party and the Archmage, shoulders slumped, a defeated man.

cagecry

“You know,” the Archmage continues, “maybe you can be of service, yet, #62.  The research and testing was all done in a pocket dimension.  When the project was shut down, the dimension was to be closed.  It should have set empty for almost a century.  I don’t know what’s going on with you and the clones you’ve seen, but it would appear that someone has been in my old lab…  Go there and check things out and let me know what you find…”

The wizard snaps his fingers and flies off in search of the gemstone that will transport the party to the pocket dimension.  He returns a few [sob filled] minutes later with an oblong, green, faceted gem in his hands.

When his dwarven eyes settle on the gemstone, Barundar’s heart skips a beat.  The Dwarf leaps from the seat he had taken and he appears at the Archmage’s side.  “Uhhhh, what’s that gem about?  Is it… something…. special…?”  Barundar asks hesitantly, swallowing hard.

“Oh, why, yes of course it’s something special!  This is a Recall Stone, among the most ancient of magical relics.  With this stone, one can attune a person, place or object and recall that stone to them, or transport themselves to the object.  They are very, VERY powerful because the magic used to create them has been lost, even to me.”

A;though Barundar is trying to maintain his composure, the party members question his sudden interest in the stone.  Through gritted teeth, Barundar reveals to the group that he sold a gem almost exactly like this one – only much brighter in color – to a gemsmith in Otemshire for the measly sum of 10 gp.

internally screaming

“Oh wow, that’s pretty unfortunate, there, Barundar… So, about this mysterious pocket dimension, how’s about we get started?”  Darius says in his most uninterested tone.

The party gathers around and activate the stone.  In an instant, they find themselves in an odd room.  The walls of the room are lined with metal and structures jut out at odd, unnatural angles.  Myles spots what appears to be a door of some sort and approaches it in an attempt to figure out how to open it.  As he gets within a few feet of the door, it retracts into the wall with a WOOSH scaring the party.  As the remainder of the party proceed through the door, Darius wanders off in another direction and finds a window of sorts.  Looking through it he sees a large, domed structure and a small figure standing on a metal structure in the middle of a large pool of bright green, glowing liquid.  Beyond the small figure, a massive humanoid shape floats within an opaque cylinder in the center of the room.

Myles pushes through another metal-lined room and soon finds himself inside the domed, green chamber.  He cries out to the figure in the center of the room, “Hey, what the hell is going on here!?”  The man in the center turns, surprised and says, squinting through thick glasses, “I-is that – 62??  Well, well, well… maybe you weren’t such a failure after all… I would have thought you would have gotten yourself killed well before now.”

“Who are you, what are you doing here?  The Archmage said this place should be abandoned!”  Myles calls out, cutting the man off before he insults him any further.

“Well, #62, you may not remember me, but I am Huculu, your father, of sorts…  and I’m here to perfect the Archmage’s work and create a super-soldier!”

Myles leaps across the pool of green liquid and crits on Huculu [dealing 35 damage] and knocks the man prone.  As he falls, Huculu reaches out and his hand pulls against a series of buttons on the pedestal at which he was working.  The sleeve of his coat gets caught on the corner of the pedestal and shifts his weight, throwing Huculu into the green pool.  The liquid bubbles and fumes as Huculu’s flesh burns away, leaving nothing more than bone.

Behind Myles, the cylinder retracts revealing a hulking quasi-human monster.

hulksmash

Barundar shoots a pair of bolts at the beast [also critting] as Ash summons the glowing hammer of Lathander.

The beast spots his fallen [and rapidly dissolving] master and goes into a rage, slamming his fists against the metal frame flooring as he wildly misses Myles twice.  Darius breaks the window he’s been looking through and shoots the beast as Myles hacks at it with his sword.

Across the room, Amon summons the power of the skies themselves, shooting a bolt of lightning at the monster.  Everyone in the room can see that the monster seems to absorb the lightning and that it actually heals it a bit.

Before Barundar shoots another flurry of arrows at the monster, he notices that the ones he shot previously have actually worked their way back out of the monster’s skin – leaving no mark of damage.  Barundar leaps across the green liquid and rushes to Myles’ side, ripping the +1 bow and a quiver of arrows from his back.

Barundar rifling about in his pack distracts Myles enough that he allows the monster to land a solid hit to his abdomen [for a staggering – even for Myles – 18 damage!].  Myles stands, the fury of 62 suns burning in his eyes as he unleashes a series of four devastating attacks on his tainted cousin [for a cumulative 44 damage].

In this circumstance, Myles is both Rick and Summer, dropping the hammer!

In this circumstance, Myles is both Rick and Summer, dropping the hammer!

Damien crawls through the broken window and dips the tips of his bolts into the green liquid before shooting them into the monster, where they smoke as the acid burns into flesh.

Again channeling the power of the elements, Amon releases a massive fireball.  The green liquid beneath the grate instantly ignites, bathing Myles, Barundar and the monster in massive flames and acrid smoke.

explosion

It *might* have been overkill…

Barundar shoots through the burning haze and lodges two arrows in the beast’s neck, sending him staggering backwards.  The beast slips on the edge of the metal grate and falls into the acid with a rather large plop.

The party regroups in the metal rooms as smoke pours through the broken window.  They huddle around Myles as he produces the magical stone from the depths of his pack.  “See you all on the other side!”  Myles yells above the roaring flames and hacking coughs of his fellow adventurers.

Amon, Barundar, Ash and Darius instantly find themselves back in the Archmage’s chamber, seemingly at the same instant that they originally left.  The sound of a crystal bouncing on the floor of the chamber breaks the silence.

“Well?  What did you find?”  The Archmage inquires, apparently unphased by the lack of time elapsed since the group departed.  Ash, the first to recover his senses, says, “Uhh… well, we’ll have to let Myles explain that.”  The party looks towards where Myles was as they left the laboratory but find nothing in his spot, save for the crystal on the ground.

“Where is out friend!?”  Barundar shouts at the Archmage.  “Hmm..  There should have been enough charge left on that stone to return you all, but these things can be tricky,”  He says, picking up the crystal and turning it in his hands, “whelp, the good news is that he’s probably just stuck on a different plane of existence somewhere.  Although I can’t help too much he’s definitely out there if you look hard enough!”

What the Archmage is really saying...

What the Archmage is really saying…

After the party explains the events leading to their friend’s disappearance, the Archmage says, “Ahh, Hucule, that scoundrel!  He was my apprentice many years ago, I don’t know how he could have gotten access to the labs again, but clearly he was, erm, continuing my research.  Thank you for putting a stop to him.”

The party spends a few days in Zaragund researching the stones and trying to locate Myles but find no answers.  Begrudgingly, they continue on their journey to Hriflindr, one party member short.

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Sometime later and late at night, a cloaked figure silently enters the basement of the trade guild in Reyshire.  Among the mountains of blackrock and pallets of crappy statues, the figure approaches a lone worker – Walt – from behind.  In one quick movement, the figure covers Walt’s mouth with one hand, and sinks an unremarkable dagger deep into his chest.  The wound smokes as unseen poison courses into Walt’s chest, corroding him from the inside out.  “You’re far too sloppy…”

walt wasted

The figure waits out the night in the room, mindlessly flipping daggers into the air.  As Ambrus opens the door, a dagger sinks deeply into the frame of the door.  With a start, Ambrus stutters out, “T-t-there’s been a party here recently, a real thorn in our side, I’d recommend we take them out.”  Another dagger finds its home in Ambrus’ thigh.  “When we want your recommendations…. We’ll ask for them…”

The figure ascends back to street level, scrawls a letter and blows into a whistle.  A falcon descends from the heavens and the figure affixes the note to the bird.  The bird takes off and flies across many miles of open ocean before finding a lonely ship.  The falcon dives towards the deck and comes to rest silently next to a Halfling standing along the side of the ship.  If the bird were able, it would realize that the Halfling’s expression was almost somber, nearly sad as he stared out along the endless expanse of open water.

———————————

Many [remarkably] uneventful days later, the party arrives in the arctic city of Hriflindr.  After many weeks of unending abuse and the loss of Myles, the group is finally able to lay Renaldo to rest in true barbarian fashion.  They spend all of Renaldo’s collected gold on erecting a massive pyre, hiring minstrels to write dirges and women to cavort in honor of their fallen friend.   Hriflindr is abuzz with stories of Renaldo’s glory and the event is marked on the town calendar as “Renaldo’s Day” where children of all ages gather to recount the stories of his glory and lay flowers upon his tomb.  Beneath a massive slab of engraved stone, embossed with bronze, Renaldo’s lifeless [and yet, pristine] body finally finds rest.

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Roll credits!  Roll the credits, go!  THAT’S THE END OF SEASON ONE!  THAT’S THE END MOTHER FUCKER!  THAT’S SEASON ONE – BOOM!

seasonone!

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