Mike


Adventure: The Last Command
Session: 2007-06-04
Player Character: Michael Busch
PC: Anethilzair
Status: Monk 12

Flamekeep, two weeks after the destruction of the Blades army at Morningcrest:

Four raptoran monks carried a pallet up the steps of the Cathedral. On it rested the body of another, this one with wing-claws terribly burned by acid. Although it had been dead for months, it seemed newly fallen: the body had been retrieved from the Mournland, and had not decayed since then, thanks to the dragonmark on the left palm of the slightly glowing human who walked next to the monks.

Inside the Cathedral, divine and arcane energy was released, channeled through the Flamelord and the Pontiff, and the human was transformed. Limbs lengthened, nails turned into dull talons, hair was replaced by an overall coat of feathers. From his shoulders sprouted a pair of wings. Anethilzair Mykispar was now in the body birth would have given him, with the exception of the dragonmark, which remained visible on the now-hardened skin of the palm.

Anethilzair bowed low. “I am even more in your debt, Blaze. I can now restore the monastery without violating the rules of my order, and I will no longer be the last of us. And though I have learned much while in the bodies of other races, I am glad to have back my wings.

“I must ask one more favor of you. Please tell me whatever you come to know of Vol, the daelkyr, and the apparent dissolving of the Mournland. A time may come when it is safe to move the monastery back to Cyre.”

Between the ziggurat and the lightning-rail line, on the Thrane–Mournland border, a month after the Battle of Morningcrest:

The Mykispar Monastery had no physical infrastructure. The raptorans nested in trees spread out over several square miles of forest, and trained in the open space between the forest and the ziggurat, in the forest itself, or anywhere within tens of miles on the wing. The strongest of the monks had only just returned from an expedition into the Mournland, to see the melted ruins of the old monastery and bury the bodies of all of those who died there. Anethilzair now sat at the base of a large oak tree, his wings folded at his back.

With him was a Dryad, her elven features a pale green and her long hair the color of dark wood, and the necropolitian child Alia, whose dinosaur skeleton crouched outside. Although none needed to drink, in deference to the halfling’s reverence of ancient custom, all three had small wooden cups of tea.

They spoke of many things. Alia wanted to know if there were any interesting skeletons between the Mournland border and the ruins of the old monastery. Then the wind through the leaves of the oak tree began to whisper. House Sivis was delivering a message from Flamekeep.

“The jade phoenix mages have reported from the Glowing Chasm. The area has finally been cleared of most aberrations, although many more were able to escape. Watcher and Siivrell fear that more daelkyr may have been released from the Chasm, and so the mages will stay there for the while. The clear zone continues to expand and healing magic has begun to work there. We may hope the Mournland will be cleared within a few years.

“Sovalom accepted the Flamelord’s offer to return him to his original body, and House Lyrander has given him a gift of one of the fastest and best equipped airships they have. The gnome Teferi offered to provide him with a crew when he heard of this. Nebu nearly begged himself a place on board: he seems to think that it is safest to be at the eye of a tornado.

“Tyrian signing off. Orilam is waiting for me.”

***
This is my attempt to close out Anethilzair’s story, and those of the other members of the party. I have tried to remain true to the characters, but feel free to modify it if necessary. I’ve assumed that the jade phoenix mages can deal with the daelkyr, but there is still the plot hook of Vol unresolved. [Ed. by Domenic—yeah, daelkyr are a bit tougher than that. Lord of Blades is a mortal-level threat; daelkyr are demigod-level threats. Vol would be in between, I think. Small modifications made :).]

Since true resurrections have been handed out, a permanent polymorph any object seems reasonable. I hope that Anethilzair preserving his own body after removing it from the Mournland, where it has rested since 6th level, is a valid use of gentle repose (Vol having cursed us with the Least Dragonmark of Death). Domenic stated that using the Mark would cause it to become the Lesser Dragonmark of Death, so Mike may have had this happen to him.

Adventure: Before the Storm, Into the Maw
Session: 2007-05-19, 2007-05-27
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Anethilzair Mykispar (Mike)
Status: Monk 11

The wind whispers through the branches of an oak tree in the forest to the west of the lightning-rail line on the Thrane–Mournland border.

I’m sorry I couldn’t talk earlier. The Blood of Vol is pretty busy over here.

I’m above the Glowing Chasm. Blaze (you saw him leaving in a hurry, remember?) asked that we check out reports of Vol raising undead to fuel the Blade Army. Vol has built a castle across the Chasm, and is using it to churn out undead. We’re working our way through it: Vol’s father was guarding the inside the door, and was killed by Tyrian (the firebrand—yes, I know you don’t like his style), Sovalem (Blaze got her raised from the dead—yes, she. Accident with an elemental), the gnome, and the warweaver.

I don’t know if Vol herself is here or not: I came outside so that the wind could whisper. Give my respects to House Sivis for setting up this call. We’ve got time: please, what’s happening at home?

Alia took over the ziggurat? I guess she liked all the skeletons. She should be a better neighbor than Lucan: no running out at night and sucking innocent blood and no battles with adventurers. But if she becomes a nuisance to you, let me know.

The psion turned on his mindlink, and I just became invisible. Combat seems likely. I have to head back now.

I’ll be careful, and I’ll come back in the same body. I promise.

***

For those of you that have been confused by the recent posts: I had Mike take Nymph’s Kiss as one of his exalted feats. This has the role-playing requirement that he “maintain an intimate relationship with a good-aligned fey.” Hence he knows a Dryad, who calls him via House Sivis in the middle of battle. Yes, I had to leave for a dinner meeting, but this works well and ties up the fate of the necromancer, since Catherine couldn’t make the game.

Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Sessions: 2007-02-18, 2007-03-04, 2007-03-14, 2007-04-01
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 7-9

The stormtalon landed lightly on the edge of the ledge in front of the rookery, back from a patrol of his flock’s section of the river. The evening debate was to begin, and there came the ritual request for new stories. The stormtalon spoke and, as he did, the flock burst into laughter, which stopped after a while.

On the river, I saw a river-boat propelled by an elemental. I think the captain is the same one who tried to run a con on us five years back, although the vessel is now trailing an airskiff. Normally, I’d have given it a wide bearth, but night had fallen and the fair-haired human on watch was talking to himself in Tuilvilanuue, incredibly well for one with such a throat. So I answered, softly, and we spoke without disturbing the rest of the people on the boat.

He calls himself Anethilzair Mykispar. I hear by your laughter that you remember the name: he was the orc who visited the Rifinti a couple of weeks ago, and showed himself to be a reincarnation of a wing-clawed from the monasteries that used to be in Cyre. It seems that the gods have ordained that he die another time, and have made him a human in this life. I’m not sure which of his last two bodies is worse, but I wonder what he will be if and when he passes this way again.

He and his companions pursued forces of the Emerald Claw to the Giant Temple in the south. It seems that the Emerald Claw has allied itself with the Lord of Blades, and they pursue relics of power here, not being content with the havoc they have wrought in Khorvaire.

Anethilzair and his companions were defeated, by poison and betrayal, and forced to return to Stormreach to re-supply and re-group. He warned me that the Emerald Claw force was not completely destroyed, and that he suspected some ancient predecessor to the warforged lay dormant in the temple. We should avoid it still, even though the Drow that lived there are all dead.

There are changes in the world outside our jungle. We will hopefully be passed by, but the last of the Mykispar monks has asked that we do one thing. If any leave the temple before he returns, and we can make it to Stormreach before they would and without hazard, he asks for a message.

* * *

Player’s Notes:

Raptorans have keen ears, and with the party so diminished, this device seems reasonable.

Domenic has given us several options for what to do next in the campaign, not all of which involve Mike returning to the temple, but he would vote very strongly for doing so. I personally do want to know exactly who was on the throne (I suspect changeling, but we killed and burned Garrow once already, and would an undead changeling be able to change form?)

Adventure: Interlude
Session: 2007-02-10
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 6

An orc sits with a flock of raptorans in a rookery in Xen’drik.

So, you now concede that I am indeed Anethilzair Mykispar. Listen then, my friends, and I will tell you how this came to be.

You know that I had been in Sharn with my companions, waiting to finish the Walk. While there, we accepted a comission from Viorr of the Dark Lanterns, to hunt down a rogue agent called Lucan Stellos. He led us on a long chase, during which I was able to fly. We caught up with Lucan near the Thrane-Mournland border, when he departed a crashed lightning rail train. He had become a vampire, and drained the life from Malik and Antinua before we were able to escape.

As we were unable to defeat the vampire and had no means to return to Sharn, we agreed to help two new companions, both humans: the sorcerer Eldon and the ninja Taris, with their quest to understand what had happened in a town just across the border into Old Crye (they had heard rumors of the work of the Lord of Blades, who had sent the raiders that derailed the lightning rail train). As we worked our way out of the Mournland, a large acid-filled bear-like being attacked us. I was slammed to the ground and blacked out. When I came to, I saw my old body dead on the ground and the arms of an orc where mine had been.

It seems that I had in fact died, but the druid Anson had summoned me a new body before my soul had fled this plane. And so I became an orc. In the circumstances, I did what I had to do. I stripped my old body and laid it in an open place. This was hardly a proper burial, but I doubt the winds of the Mournland would be willing to take the body. So in a sense, I am dead. My old body lies, broken by claws, teeth, and acid, on the ground of the Mournland. The Mykispar monastery is dead in body.

My companions and I made it back to Thrane, where there was a message from Viorr requesting our urgent return to Sharn. Eldon had business at Morgrave, so we traveled by horse summoned by sorcery and augmented by druidic magic.

In Sharn, we learned that our patron at House Cannith, the Lady Elaydren, had been murdered and a message left from the Emerald Claw and the Lord of Blades for us, warning us to not pursue them to Xen’drik. That I am talking to you shows that we did not heed this warning, but before we left Sharn, we had to deal with supporters of the Lord of Blades, who were plotting attacks on the city. That will hopefully be the only time I am ordered to help destroy a building full of healing magic. Granted, it was for a legitimate reason, to insuinate a disguised Eldon into the warforged terrorist cell, but I have seen enough destruction of the innocent.

Player’s Notes:
This is a strange turn of events. I’m still not sure how to address transforming into an orc. On the other hand, it is only time I’m likely to be able to use the line “If you’ll excuse me, I need to go bury myself.”

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Sessions: 2006-12-02, 2007-01-05, 2007-01-14, 2007-01-27, 2007-02-03
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 4-6

Letter Posted to Viorr of the Dark Lanterns by Anethilzair Mykispar from the House Sivis Station at Vathirond:
Sir,

We have failed in our attempt to capture Lucan Stellos, who has become a vampire. We encountered him and his sister in Trolanport (where she was captured and left in the custody of the Aundarian ambassador, Neya ir’Krell). Lucan at this point was compelled to reach Karrnath, and took passage on an airship. We boarded the same vessel and located him. Just outside Sterngate, the airship crashed and Lucan escaped and got on the lightning rail to Flamekeep. We followed him this far and were on the same train. Across the Thrane border, he abandoned the train. Anson tracked him to a ruined Dhakaani ziggurat.

We entered the ziggurat, and searched it. Lucan has established himself in the uppermost chamber inside the massif. When we entered it, he had surrounded himself by rats and decreed that he would serve only himself, “not the Dark Lanterns, not Vol, and not the soul blade.” Malik cleared the rats with dragonfire, and Antinua blasted Lucan into vapor, which seeped into a coffin.

It was then that I did something of which I am greatly ashamed. I fell to the confusion of the soul blade, which is indeed both powerfully magical and powerfully evil, and did nothing to help my companions as they tried to force open the coffin’s lid. When they did, Lucan sprang out, apparently well healed, and grappled the wizard. Over the next minute, he sucked the life out of her, leaving her body on the floor, and then did the same to Malik, in defiance of his breath, the attacks of elementals summoned by Anson, and Xame’s attempts to heal him of being a vampire.

By the time I came to my senses, both Malik and Antinua lay dead and Lucan looked stronger than when we had first entered the room. Xame and Anson had fled as fast as they were able. I managed to get away, although Lucan slammed me. So now Lucan Stellos sits in the ziggurat, free, and two of my companions are dead.

If the rest of us can find a way to destroy or capture Lucan, we will do so, but I do not know what that would be. If we cannot, I at least will return to Sharn. If you have instructions for us, we will be in this city for at least the next day.

Note: Antinua carried the letter of credit you issued us. I doubt it would do Lucan much good in his current state, but you should consider it void.

Mike’s thoughts as the party works its way back to the lightning rail line:
Dol Arrah, I must do penance for my weakness in the temple. I foreswear these offensive magics, which are both blessing and curse. I will carry what I carried on the Walk of Four Winds: no food, none of the luxuries of civilization, only that which is necessary. I reserve your symbol and a single sai.

I feel strength in me. Grant that I will not foresake this vow and your favor.

Player’s Notes
I assumed that the party will head back to the lightning rail line and work south, and that our finances are sufficient to send the message, and to eventually travel back to Sharn.

Mike has now taken Vow of Poverty, with all that it implies. In some cases, his AC may actually pass that of Xame: AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 21, without things like cat’s grace, owl’s wisdom, and mage armor.

Lucan’s fast healing is not a fun thing to deal with: he goes into the coffin as mist and by the time we get the lid off he has healed enough to kill two PCs.

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Session: 2007-01-05
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Level: Monk 4

Dol Arrah, in your name, I do not understand.

When Valith decided not to accept Viorr’s commission, it seemed entirely reasonable to try and persuade him otherwise. When I found him unpersuadeable, it was even still justified being a day behind the others, because I had tried to secure an ally. But losing a horse to worgs, tracking my companions by burn marks and dead bodies, and only catching them because they needed to wait for two weeks before they could be sure of finding Lucan Stellos, seems an excess punishment for mis-judging a person.

Perhaps you mean this as a warning to stay with my companions and to no longer wander the wild, for I was not troubled during the two years I walked from Cyre. Or perhaps it is a blessing in disguise, for now I know that Lucan has become a vampire with a great obsession of avoiding the Dark Lanterns, while he does not yet know me.

I do not understand, and yet I feel strength in me, so I cannot have failed completely. I ask only for enlightenment.

Player Notes:

The real reason Mike was separated from the rest of the party was that I had to show up late to the game, but there had to be a plot to it as well. Reciting his prayers to the gods may be a bit much, but it was either that or make him talk to the winds.

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Sessions: 2006-11-11, 2006-11-19, 2006-11-26, 2006-12-02
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 3

Elaydren had told us that she would send messages to the gnome at a post office near our lodgings if she had need of us again. Every day we would go there, and there would be no work. Then came the predictable interference. That morning, the post office was ransacked and the gnome knocked out. We awakened her, and she told us that a half-dozen people had come, one large and several small. Tui was very interested in interrogating her, but it seemed more important to contact Elaydren. As we left the office, an owl dropped a letter at our feet. It was from Elaydren, and told us to met her at the Broken Anvil immediately.

At the tavern, Elaydren seemed harried. She introduced us to a man with a wolf, saying that he would accompany us to Rhukaan Draal and that we should leave immediately, as another party was trying to stop her. This party presented itself in the form of a warforged and eight kobolds. The kobolds were disposed of by Tui and Alain, while the warforged fell to a combination of the man with the wolf casting a freezing magic, Antinua cursing it with disabling laughter, and me kicking in the chestplate. I did not know warforged could laugh. It is a strange sound.

Elaydren gave us a haversack containing supplies and instructions, and ordered us to go, saying she would make her own way to Rhukaan Draal after us. As we went towards the lightning-rail, the man with the wolf introduced himself as Anson, a druid of House Orien. In the haversack was a writ of passage to Sterngate, where we would join a caravan across Marguul. We made it to Rhukaan Draal without major inconvenience.

There we were to meet a man named Failin, exiled from House Orien, to take us to the village of Rose Quarry and to then locate a House Cannith research station called Whitehearth, where Elaydren believed there was another schema. We found Failin in a place called the Bloody Market, which is bloody whenever someone feels they have been robbed. Failin possesses an elemental-powered landcart and an unhealthy obsession with coin, but he agreed to take us to Rose Quarry. There we found the village laid waste, covered in molten glass. There was also an encampment of soldiers of the Order of the Emerald Claw, who were apparently engaged in ransacking the ruins for treasure and bodies for their undead. I do not like undead, nor am I wild about getting stabbed by swords. Fortunately, Alain and Tui formed a wall of steel in the doorway of the ruined quarry headquarters and killed all zombies that came. Xame runs remarkably well at times: I doubt you or the stormtalons could catch him in a sprint, although they would win any distance race. Anson is rather militant for a druid: I saw him very persistently clubbing a prone Emerald Claw soldier to death. His wolf was also very violent, but that might be the result of having a mouth full of crushed glass.

We found the location of Whitehearth, but encountered a very ugly, vampire-like person as we left. We managed to run around him and made it back to the landcart, where we persuaded Failin to take us to our destination. It is inside the Mournland, to the east and south of where Mykispar once was.

You haven’t been to the Mournland? If you do go, either take a wizard who can make you extradimensional space, or bring gallons of goodberry wine. Paladins can heal there, and my masters could cause injured tissue to knit by sheer will, but normal healing does not work and the dead from the Last War litter the battlefield as if they had just fallen. Undead roam, and we were attacked twice before we reached Whitehearth, which was built into an old mine.

Elaydren had given us a key to the outer door. We left Failin behind in the cart, and entered. We soon found that the doors were all electrified, but Anson can pick up and move small objects without touching them. The mine is a warren, with individual chambers linked by a network of rotating key-coded spheres. It is filled by experimental magic, mangled by the Day of Mourning. Some is good and some bad. We found a wolf-pack whose leader had been awakened, and a stone wolf holding them hostage. Antinua found a prepared spell she calls rope trick, which let us heal Alain, who had been knocked out when the stone wolf fell. We had to fight our way through living spells to find the keys to the rest of the mine.

We eventually found where the schema was being stored, in a room at one end of the mine that was boiling hot, with fire elementals guarding it, but at a high price. There was a trap in one of the spheres, so that it opened into a well. Tui fell. I jumped after him, but by the time I reached the water at the bottom, he had drowned and sunk too far down to even recover the body.

In the hot room, Alain tried to hold off the elementals, but was smashed to the ground and set afire. By the time Antinua figured out how to open the roof and make the remaining elemental leave, he was all but reduced to ash, along with the haversack from Elaydren. Enough of his body was intact to reveal that he carried a dragonmark of House Deneith. We did recover the schema, as well as an apparent copy and a disk, which we now know is a creation pattern.

We four survivors managed to get the wolves out of lower levels of the mine, only to find that the soldiers of the Emerald Claw had encamped outside. We conceived of a plan, whereby Antinua would make herself, Anson, and me invisible and we would sneak out, while Xame ran, carrying one copy of the schema. We would meet at a fixed point away from the mine, so that I could guide them out of the Mournland if Failin was dead (none of them can remember which way is north). The wolves would attack the soldiers.

This plan broke to pieces when I found Failin slumped by his landcart. I was then swept off my invisible feet by a whip, to find the vampire-like commander, who could apparently see me and demanded the schema, before rippling into the form of Raidith and saying that he recognized me. I started attacking him, but eventually had to throw the schema away to avoid my own death.

We probably would not have survived, although most of the Emerald Claw soldiers were dead, except that two others arrived. One was a paladin by his armor, the other sprayed fire on the surviving Emerald Claw before getting on a liberated horse and chasing the changeling, who he apparently knew as Garrow. Anson, whose wolf had gone with the pack, had also grabbed a horse. The paladin awakened our driver, and we followed.

Garrow, who may or may not have been Raidith, died in fire. We took the schema, and our new acquaintances, the paladin Valith and the dragon-born Malik, accompanied us back to Rhukaan Draal. There we met Elaydren, who had us accompany her back to Sharn.

Now you know who I am and what I have done. I hope our fellows in Xen’drik find some amusement from the tale. And should I reach the flocks of Xen’drik, when I have fulfilled The Walk, I will stay and speak more with our people. But I feel that enlightenment is to be found in other races, so I shall stay with my companions for the while. Farewell.

* * *

From the top of one of the five spires around the central dome of Dalannan Tower in Upper Menthis, two winged forms jumped. One flew with towards the air galleon port with powerful wingbeats, although a keen eye could see the flickering of the air as the skypledged twisted the wind to her bidding. The other glided silently, slight wing movements turning his course towards the House Cannith enclave.

Player’s Notes:

I’m not sure if two out of six PCs dying in a 3rd level adventure is the right number, but we certainly don’t have the option of resurrection at this level. Fortunately, Dan Thai and Scott Wilbur had some good characters as back-ups. I’m still not sure what this fire-breather Scott developed is.

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