Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Fading Dream

Zor, Rhaan 22, 998 YK (Day 68).

After spending much of the day in Fairhaven awaiting the completion of Tam'elanath's first round of training, the party leaves on the lightning rail with passes paid for by House Phiarlan. They are headed for the city of Passage, the second-largest city in Aundair and one of the largest trade and transportation hubs in Khorvaire. The trip takes about eight hours, and very little happens on the journey. They arrive at the Passage lightning rail station, and emerge onto the platform. Stahlstrauss feels that he wants a second opinion regarding his curse, so he calls over one of his fellow disembarking passengers and asks him if there are any House Jorasco enclaves in the city. The traveler evidently does not live in Passage, and says that there probably is, but he doesn't know anything about it, so Stahlstrauss goes looking for it. He is accompanied by Elyas, Zan-kyri and - of course - Eshunu. Zil'dejin, Tam'elanath and Garmeth split off to deal with other business in the city.

The search for Jorasco does indeed turn up another building, larger than the one in Fairhaven, but the diagnosis here is the same: they must be granted clemency by a natural spirit of fire or a fire archon if they are to be freed from the curse. They leave again, disappointed. They then locate one of Passage's major marketplaces (there are about three in the city) and spend some time here purchasing goods. Zan-kyri buys some alchemical reagents for the purpose of brewing potions. They then go to the docks, with the intention of meeting up with the other three, but before they get there they ask an impoverished citizen what the "most exciting" thing to do in Passage is. The drifter seems enthused about some sort of black market, from which he buys kvinta herbs smuggled in from Talenta. He cannot indicate to them exactly where this black market is, but they eventually find it after a very unlikely encounter has Zan-kyri running into another genasi (a stormsoul, though any genasi are rare in Eberron) who is a smuggler by trade, and for the sake of racial empathy directs them to the Golden Dragon's Lament, a high-end drinking establishment. They are to use the password "the Royal Eyes are closed here."

They do this, and are directed to the basement of the pub, which is surprisingly large. Many people are set up here selling goods, some on tables, but most just on the ground or on cheap carpets. They trade some magical goods here, but discover that the kvinta merchant is on a gathering run and not currently present. Once their business has finished here, they head towards the docks, where they are stopped by an unusual-looking group. They are mostly human, though one dragonborn is among them, and they wear tattered robes, some of which are painted in the crude image of an eye. Their leader has dark circles under his eyes, and looks half-dead from exhaustion. He claims that they have seen the party in their dreams, that the Collective will "unravel Eberron," and they, the "Brothers of the Fevered Dream," must not allow the party to live.

With an insane and almost unnatural howl from the leader, they attack. A shardmind is with them, amber in color; this too is a rarity. He appears to have more control over his form than Eshunu, and is able to transfer his essence into others, damaging their minds from within. He is the most difficult challenge, and even when the other cultists have all been defeated by the four, the shardmind remains persistent. Eventually, though, he falls. The party collects what they have (some potions, gold, and a cape worn by the leader) before proceeding to the marina. They pay 90 gp per person to take a Lyrandar ferry across Lake Galifar, the largest lake in Khorvaire (much better than the alternative of walking for one whole month). On the way, Zan-kyri brews some more potions to help out his party.

Far, Rhaan 23, 998 YK (Day 69).

It is the second night on the Lyrandar elemental ship. The party sleeps below deck while, as usual, Eshunu and Stahlstrauss keep watch. It is for the most part as uneventful as the first night on board, until there is a commotion on the upper deck. The constructs go to investigate. On the upper deck, there is a man wearing leather armor and a pin shaped in the form of an eye surrounded by a black wing. Next to him, an apparent mercenary, wearing unusual armor that looks to be made of stone. They stand above the bodies of the two Lyrandar escorts who were keeping watch at night. He speaks as he sees them approach.
"There you are, Kahanbalan. For too long now we have sought you. It is time you returned to Riedra, errant one; your time in Khorvaire has ended. Come with me."
Eshunu strains to recall the man's origin. He recognizes the symbol to some extent, and the heavy accent is familiar but distant. Clearly, this person is from Eshunu's past before his most recent memories begin. He questions the man, but gets little information.
"Hear me, Kahanbalan. You do not have a say in this matter. Your will belongs, as it ever did, to the Inspired. You were created by them, for them, and you shall serve them until you cease to be. This is the fate of all Kahanbalani, and I, as an agent of the Dreaming Dark, shall bring you back to your creators."
Eshunu refuses to go with the agent, and Stahlstrauss states that he will protect his comrade.
"If you will not come willingly, then I shall shatter your body and bring back your altadri to them. It is all that they require."
With this, he and the mercenary attack. Several travelers, apparently in something of a daze, emerge from below deck and join the fight as well, though they seem somewhat confused as to why they fight.

Meanwhile, Zan-kyri and Elyas "wake up" in what appears to be a stone prison cell. There are no windows, and the only door is metal and barred on one side of the cell. This is an unusual transition, given their previous location on board the ship, but they search their surroundings for a way out. After some time spent investigating the room without success, where Zan-kyri discovers that the room is magic in nature but can't determine why, Elyas realizes why the walls shimmer the way they do: they are not in Eberron. They are in Dal Quor, the Region of Dreams, and occupy a shared dream space. The prison is some sort of permanent fixture here, and is trapping their consciousness within, held together by some sort of external influence.

Back on the deck, Stahlstrauss and Eshunu fight against the odds. Things seem to go alright for the first part of combat, and they cut down the travelers (with some remorse, as they clearly don't have total control over their actions) and do some damage to the Dreaming Dark agent and his mercenary. However, another combatant enters after a time: another Lyrandar escort, who, like the Fevered Dream cult earlier, claims to have seen Stahlstrauss and Eshunu in prophetic visions signalling the end of the world. He attacks, feeling that he is serving some great just end in doing so.

In Dal Quor, Zan-kyri determines that while the prison is not mutable like most dream space due to its coherence from external force, it can be altered indirectly. Because they are dreaming, they have a significant degree of control over their existence with their minds, even though their bodies don't technically exist here. Elyas experimentally attempts to summon some kind of historical hero into being to free them from the cell, but cannot focus on one in particular to any useful degree. Zan-kyri tries to intimidate the door into opening by personifying it, but can't quite make the door into a living entity, though he comes close. Eventually, Elyas searches his mind for a record of some kind of spell that would be useful, and comes up with a very powerful invocation he had read about in an obscure text once, long ago. He uses this invocation to "summon" an ancient and nameless primordial from prehistory. Though neither the primordial or the spell are real, Elyas' will and perception of these things are enough to tear apart the door and provide them with a measure of freedom. They head up some stairs to try and escape the prison.

On the ship, things are taking a turn for the worse. Eshunu is brought down the the Dreaming Dark agent, and Stahlstrauss is quickly surrounded, now alone in the fight. He deals significant damage to his enemies, but as the mercenary is injured he rallies the others to attack Stahlstrauss in unison. This attack is enough to bring him to unconsciousness. Everything now hinges on the rest of the party, but the minds of the others are still stuck in Dal Quor.

Elyas and Zan-kyri find themselves in what appears to be a great hall of some kind, divided in the middle by a bottomless ravine. Zan-kyri uses his knowledge of arcane construction to summon into being a facsimile of an old, experimental Cannith magic catapult, and launches himself across the gap. Elyas approaches the situation by attempting to turn into a bird, but cannot seem to focus on any bird in particular and turns into a flightless abomination. He changes back to a deva, and Zan-kyri uses a similar approach to his earlier one to create an arcane ballista, and Elyas transforms himself into a bolt to be launched across the ravine. At the other side, they discover a massive set of barred doors. Elyas recounts the historical legends (many embellished, most likely) of Karrn the Conqueror, and summons him into being to break down the door. Outside, there is an appearance of distorted space. They leap into it, and wake up to join the fight up on deck.

Here, the Dreaming Dark agent has contacted somebody with a sending stone and has gathered Eshunu's remains. He, along with the mercenary and the Lyrandar escort, engage Elyas and Zan-kyri, the latter of which helps Stahlstrauss to his feet with an alchemical mixture. Together, the three defeat the mercenary and the escort, but the Dreaming Dark agent escapes on another, smaller boat headed in the opposite direction, carrying Eshunu's remains with him.

Distraught, they mourn the loss of Eshunu briefly and collect the material possessions of the fallen before dropping the bodies overboard.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.