Graveyard World

Espis Chapter 15: Portal Shenanigans

Having all successfully made it into the hidden library, the party begins to explore the first chambers, finding finding tomes in various languages. Amongst the pages, Varyk finds a bunch of loose pages of a journal written in some kind of cypher, in an increasingly distressed hand.
Experimenting with a lever in the room, they discover that what appeared to be doors are actually portals to different spaces.

Kharl goes into a portal, emerging into a tower far above an ashen landscape. There he finds an ancient pedestal, with a gem atop it. He discovers that manipulating this gem causes changes within the library. Using this pedestal, he opens two further portals to a beautiful clearing and a tiered amphitheatre in the Valley of Tombs.

In that room, Urllex examines a series of mirrors, that seem to reflect images of death or looming danger. While this is happening, Lorna spies something through another portal – her bow, held by a mephit. She leaps through, and is cut off from the rest of the group when the mephit succeeds in knocking a chunk of stone off the pedestal. Urllex panics, as this reminds her of the time she lost her friend Jimmy in another wizards tower. They set off to search for Lorna, further into the dungeon.

The party makes their way through the portals, activating pedestals to open and close portals as they go, eventually finding the way to Bojangles spellbook, and an interaction with Lillen Shadowcloak, who goads them through a mirror until Kharl shatters it, revealling a torrent of sand behind.

Determining that there is a single room they haven’t been able to access, Kharl leads the party back through the library, activating and deactivating portals until finally, they activate a route through to a final room, which has a inactive pedestal similar to the one Lorna ran through. After some trial and error, Varyk learns from Bojangles tome that the portal can be accessed by placing an object from the place you wish to access into the pedestal. They pour sand onto the pedestal, and are immediately faced with a new sight – a sand blasted desert ruin, covered in items stolen from the party and from other students, swarming with demonic mephits.

Running to a cornered Lorna’s aid, the party gathers thier gear and fights back against the creatures. Victorious, they stop to take stock of the environment – a desert outcrop in ascension, watched over with an endless, fractal fortress – Lillen’s lair. Reactivating the portal to lead back to the University dormatory, the party stumbled back to bed.

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Espis Chapter 16: The Weasley Child

The party wakes to find the university on lockdown, and rumors that Halfhand is turning over the school hunting for a group that attacked him in the night.

Kharl gives himself up, intending to confront Halfhand, but is intercepted and the party is taken before Professor Kirk. She instructs the party to keep a low profile. Kharl confronts her about the hidden School of Cloaks, leading to Kirk vomiting sand and forcibly expelling Kharl from the room.

The party skirts across the banned central courtyard to the main university building, intending to hand over Bojangles spellbook to Gamble Silverthread. They get sidetracked when they find him with Professor Ravencrow in the basement, dealing with an overflowing mess of weasley looking children.

Denying all knowledge of why this would be happening, Ravencrow sends the party into the sewers once again, to finally discover the source of the creatures. In the sewers, the party follows a trail of homonculi to the source, a burst pipe leading into an ancient part of the school.

Fighting their way through a sea of mutant schoolboys, the party makes their way into the mutants sanctum.

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Espis Chapter 17: The Meat Centrifuge of Kathud-Ra

After a brief rest, the party identifies that the room they are in contains a magical ward designed to repel abhorrent creatures. Urllex surmises that this is similar to the work of Dumica Kirk. Moving deeper into the cave, the party finally discovers the source of the homunculus plague – an imprisoned chunk of Doug, taken from the fleshwaste. The seal surrounding the creature had been pierced by the inquisitive student, and his body used as a way to begin Doug’s escape.

The party goes about the process of cutting away at the web of flesh extending out from the weasley husk, as the very walls of the cave start coming detaching and attacking the party. After a few well timed blasts of thunder by Urllex, Kharl runs forward and severs the connection between Doug and the boys husk, destroying the remaining monstrosities and resealing the prison.

While Doug continuously whispers to be freed, the party retreats beyond his sphere of influence with the boys husk in tow. Professor Ravencrow emerges from the cave entrance, overjoyed that she was 100% not responsible for any of this and that there wasn’t any need for an investigation. She also identifies the prison as Professor Kirks handiwork, and is bewildered by this turn of events.

Kirk appears, and reveals that she was keeping the creature a secret as part of a birthday surprise, a newly reassembled Meat Centrifuge of Kathud-Ra. Professor Ravencrow is overjoyed, and leaps into Kirks arms, thanking the party for repairing her broken marriage. Kirk responds with “we were fine.”

Taking the party in to the centrifuge, they find that although it is in need of repair, the mincer attached to it is working fine. They mince the weasley boys corpse, freeing his soul, which Crows traps in a jar. She then injects the newly freed soul into one of the remaining homunculi, as this would be cheaper than a proper resurrection, but after a moment of sentience and clarity the homunculus immediately throws itself straight back into the mincer. Crows agrees to pay for a proper resurrection, and hands over the seal of the House of Coins.

Setting serious, Kirk thanks Kharl for bringing her to her senses. Tells Crows that something bad is going on, has been going on for a while, and they might need to “accelerate their plan,” as Half-hand is turning against the faculty, but that there is still time to turn him to their cause, as he wears a slave mark, the same as them.

Impatient to keep adventuring, Kharl leaves, getting hopelessly lost in the sewers.

Kirk instructs the rest of the party to carry on with their plan and gather the remaining seals required to access the crystal spire. Ravencrow snaps her fingers, transmuting everyone else’s robes into prefect robes, giving them free reign of school.

The party returns to the dorms, collapsing in bed without telling anyone in the gathered throng of first years where the were. Kharl stumbles back after an epiphany in the sewers that he can’t rely on his god to always protect him, and that he needs to learn to be a martial fighter.

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Espis Chapter 18: Tensions, Confrontations, Rebellion

The party visits Gamble Silverthread in his office in order to retrieve his promised House of Stars Seal for delivering him Bojangles spellbook. He thanks the party and offers them a reward of a potion, a scroll, and a vape rig. While he is briefly distracted by a spell going off outside his window, Lorna pinches a letter that caught her eye – an invitation from the Independent Artificers Guild to the Wizard of Wines Winery in the Portal City of Castien, a month from now. As they are leaving Silverthreads office, one of his demons identifies Varyk as a man that Kyuss has been searching for.

In the first year dorms, tempers are high, and the students are starting to congregate along class lines. Chaddeus is attacked and beaten for not being a citizen of the Inner Ring. Tensions come to a head in that evenings vaping showdown, soundly won through the team effort of Dakarai and Lorna, when the Outer Ring students are ambushed by a force led by Professor Pilwiken, much to the horror of his son, Wrenn. Kharl and Urllexin break through the magical trap and confront Pilwiken, who retreats when Kharl forces him to cough up sand by weaponising his knowledge of the House of Cloaks.

The party leads the first years out of the trap through a secret entrance discovered by Varyk, and regroup in the sewers. Sickened by his fathers behavour, Wrenn gives the party the third and final seal they need. Kharl teaches the students to repeat the mantra about the fourth house without them trying to understand it, allowing them to weaponise it further to incapacitate those that would harm them. Pog leads the students to take first year dorm, driving out the Inner Ring students.

The attack on the first years leads to the expelling of a large amount of sand, with accretes into the form of Lillen Shadowcloak, hunting Naivara, who has reappeared, attracted by the fighting. As Lillen goes to strike, Varyk summons a magic circle around Lillen, trapping her sand form within, using up the last of his amulets protection magic in the process.

Trapped within the circle, Lillen reveals a portion of her plan to break a set of seals located deep within her fortress, when Kharl unwittingly reveals to her a clue (a clue tied to Urllex’s past). Lillen asks the party what they know of Deep Sashelas, and is intrigued when the party seems confused by this.Finally, Lillen reveals herself to be none other than a fragment of Naivara Belanor, much to the distress and confusion of the Naivara outside of the circle.

The evil Naivara dissapates, while the good Naivara asks the party to hurry to the Crystal Spire and find the essence of Sand within before she does. She tells the party to leave Highhaven and find Jasper Goodbarrel, who would lead them to where they need to go.

The party, realising that they need to confront Leto in order to leave via the main gate, asks Pog to gather Ravencrow and Kirk. Khark calls Leto out, and after a few minutes of frantic shouting, Leto emerges, shrouded in magical energy. Kirk and Ravencrow appear, flanked by a suprising asset – the thirty three mages that gave Kirk her nickname, freed and ready to take part in open rebellion.

Outnumbered, and knowing that any conflict would lead to the Inner Ring cleansing the entire school anyway, Leto chooses to help the rebellion and begins making for the Lodestone to head off the inevitable Inner Ring reinforcements.

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Espis Chapter 19: Solitude

The party gathers their things and makes their way out of the university proper into Highhaven itself, with the goal of finding Jasper Goodbarrel who would help them on their way to the Crystal Spire.

While the party stopped for a well-earned drink at the local dive the Wizard Have Tavern (loosely translated from the abysal “Wizards have nothing to fear from this, an ordinary tavern”). There they met Debope the Wheel’d, a magicless Beholder who tended bar using his eyestalks.

While the party relaxed, Kharl made his way to the local Church of Tymora party, making their way out of the city after their failed quest to retrieve Bojangles spellbook at the university, and convinced them to stay and protect the citizens in the inevitable battle for Highhaven.

Getting directions to Jasper’s establishment, the Woof & Whistle Inn, the party meets the halfling and are kitted out with a guide and supplies to make a journey out onto the ice. Kharl gets the sense that he is being watched, but can’t quite follow who or why.

Leaving the city by sleds led by fey Borzois, the party slowly gets the sense that their guide is not telling them the full truth when he recommends they stop early and shelter, rather than make their way straight to the spire. Sure enough, he betrays them, dismissing the summoned sled dogs and making a break for it in the snow, though he is swiftly recaptured by Varyk and Dakarai. Shortly after, the party is attacked by a group of mercenaries led by two Drow, exhibiting the same characteristics as the doppelganger of the Black Spider.

In the melee, a fireball is thrown at the sleds and supplies, incinerating them. While a few of the group go down, the tide is turned as the mercenaries begin to scatter, attacked by an unknown adversary in the snow that none of the party can see.

Towards the end of the fight, the last Drow demonstrates a new ability when she misty steps from the ground directly into Urllex’s grasp, and tells her that “they found her friend” and that they have taken her power for themselves, before being skewered by a javelin thrown by Varyk.

With the melee over, the party stops to nurse their wounds, sheltering in a portable hole pulled from Dakarai’s Cloak of Many Things, in the middle of nowhere, as night approaches…

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Espis Chapter 20: The Crystal Spire

After a cold night sheltered in the snow, the party makes their way towards the Crystal Spire, all the while followed from above by an unknown druid and stalked at a distance by an invisible demon. Progress is slow – the party is not used to arctic conditions and loses time getting turned around. After another night in the snow, the group finds their way to the entry of the Spire, guarded by the bored fox demon Yrkhetep, who, due to a lack of visitors, has turned the entrance to the Spire into a tropical sculpture garden, dedicated to his foxy visage.

Presenting the demon with the three seals of Highhaven, the party is allowed into the main scrying room of the complex. After examining the machinery and praying on it’s use, Dakarai, Varyk and Kharl are able to piece together how to open the portal to Ascension, where they enter into Lillen’s domain, causing the fractal palace to immediately become unstable.

Fleeing into the fractal palace, the party finds themselves in a recursive, endless library, filled with more of Lillen’s notes. By piecing these notes together with those Varyk had already collected, they are able to fully decode her notes, revealing a piece of her history that allows them further into the maze. Each layer of the maze seems to be a thousand fractal pathways, linked with Lillen or one of her companions, with the true entrance hidden among hundreds of near copies.

Through, the home of Urzoth, aunt of Urllex, followed by the temple of Rhobsarendor for Kharl’s grandfather, and the Gnarl for the druid Kaz, the party sees glimpses of the parties history, a group pulled together by natural forces in opposition to a dark force growing in the Deep.

While exploring, the party begins to become aware that they are not alone – thousands of fragments of Naivara can be seen trying endless doors around them, the wizard resorting to brute force to beat the party to their prize.

The party then finds themselves deep within Kyuss’ lair, and discover the treasure that the old party sought – seven vials, almost entirely lacking in ornament, each filled with a different liquid. The shade of Gundren asks Lillen why there are seven vials, as they were only sent to retrieve six. Lillen replies to leave the seventh, not even to look at it. The party takes six, leaving the last, pure black, alone in it’s recess.

The last vision the party is left with is with Tock, the partys rogue, going his own way, the adventure finished, one of the vials in a circlet around his neck. The vial seems to have given Tock the ability to misty step at will. Lillen cautions him to take his curse seriously, as it will overcome him if he isn’t careful, but Tock remains jovial. The party is able to deduce that from their last encounter with the Drow, where the could now misty step, that Tock has been killed, and his power somehow absorbed by his attackers.

With the last layer of the maze completed, the party finds themselves in a final, pyramidal structure, at the center of which is their prize – an empty vial, floating in space, surrounded by a floating orb of sand…

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Espis Chapter 21: The Sand Curse

The party has on a brief period to explore the inside of the pyramid, floating at the center of which is a giant sphere of sand, before the spirit of Naivara Belanor appears and banishes Varyk and Lorna with a tidal wave of sand.

The party is immediately drawn into combat, with Urllex successfully pulling the brunt of the attacks towards herself, almost killed by a cone of cold. After a few rounds of dicey combat, the party emerges on top as Dakarai uses all of his ki to stun the archmage, again and again, before she is overwhelmed. The archmage dismissed for now, Kharl repairs the damage to the magical tablets within the pyramid, forcing the sphere of sand back into it’s prison and allowing Varyk and Lorna to return.

Curious, Dakarai approaches the sphere, and inadvertently takes the Curse of Sand into his amulet. The curse trapped once again, the door to the room opens and the party step out to discover they are in Lillen Shadowcloak’s office. The party briefly looks around, finding nothing they can understand, and while the rest of the party goes ahead, Kharl starts a fire, burning away all evidence of the curse, and Lillen’s writings.

Making their way through Highhaven, the party discover that the rebellion has succeeded, and the old order has been overthrown. They say their goodbyes to Pog and Chaddeus, before retrieving Justice and Horsetina (after walking headfirst, once again, into the invisible statue of Magicami). Leaving the university, they discover the city marked with plenty of signs of combat, and a shrine to Leto Halfhand, who evidently died fighting the Witchhunters sent by the Inner Ring.

The party makes their way to the Highhaven Lodestone, where the guards inform them that they are free to go anywhere they want, but once they leave, they cannot come back. The party pauses to consider what the next move might be…

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Espis Chapter 22: Setting Sail

The party decides to go on to Perranala, the capital city of the Dragon Isles, and from there try and get a boat to travel to the Beast Coast without risking going straight through the Lodestone network. Stepping through, they find themselves in a crowded, hot bazaar, a climate only a few of them have experienced before.

Kharl goes looking for a ship, while Urllex looks for a criminal contact to get access to a bow. Lorna and Dakarai spend some time spending coin and drinking with nobles, befriending the affluent Dwarfish noble, Ushar Ungart.

Kharl, dejected by how commerce-driven the city has become, finds his way to the Temple of Sune, where he is revered for his knowledge of the outside world, and is offered a place on a ship going on a pilgrimage out to the outer islands. Urllex finds his contact in Malar’s Throat, a rundown part of the city, and is told of a shipment coming in to town the next evening on the merchant vessel Eat, Pray, Love.

The party gathers in the grand bazaar to continue drinking, and Ushar offers to put everyone up in her manor for the evening, and gives them a job working security on a ship going to the Beast Coast in two days time. Urllex fills Lorna in on the plan, but keeps the others out of it.

The next morning, Dakarai hunts down the ship and makes introductions – slightly too drunk, and doesn’t make the best impression.

Kharl spends the day getting ready for the journey – using up his last favour with the Church of Tymora to ensure Horsetina and Justice find their way back to Espis and loading all their gear onto the ship. Afterwards, he makes his way into the poorer parts of the city, and is happy to see the old ways being practiced.

Lorna and Urllex find a good ambush spot to steal the shipment, and hunt down some accomplices to act as muscle for the job that evening. The four that they hire, three dragonborn and a tiefling, none of them speaking a word of common, agree to meet them that evening. With Lorna up in the rooftops watching carefully, the heist goes off without a hitch, and the group are able to disappear into the night with a chest of gold and Urllex’s prize: rare, enchanted Bracers of Archery.

The next morning, the ship sets sail, out of Perranala harbour and into the chaos of the Outer Reaches. To ready themselves for the journey, Kharl performs a chaosphere scrying ceremony, and with this as a guide, the party divines their path forward..

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