Solista - Age of Syzygy

The Aftermath

Five years ago an ambitious tiefling captain of the Orynn army disappeared with an entire platoon of men into the Ks’valan wastelands. He reappeared two years later with an enormous undead army. Swiftly and brutally, they attacked and conquered the city of Ks’vere and then began an all-out assault on the Orynn Empire.

The Warlord’s army engaged in strange tactics, sometimes intentionally engaging in losing fights and at first Orynn felt certain of victory but when the Warlord’s armies withdrew, they took with them any fallen soldiers they could lay hands on. In short time, these fallen warriors were raised as undead and fighting against their own comrades and the Warlord’s hordes grew rapidly.

About seven months into the war, two amazing things happened. First, an army of strange dragon people marched out of the Norend Mountains and announced they were there to help fight off the undead horde. Less noticeably, a strange woman emerged from the Esterwilds. She claimed that she was sent here by the Raven Queen to save Solista from a horrible fate. As she traveled to Orynn, she recruited a small number of protectors who believed her prophecies.

Eventually, the tide of the war turned, and Orynn and its allies began pushing back the undead armies and the strange woman and her companions found and eliminated the Warlord’s necromancer before infiltrating the city and also striking down the Warlord himself. The Warlord’s fall revealed to the world the true mastermind of the war: an ancient gold dragon with strange and terrible motivations. Thwarted, the gold dragon seized control of the mage’s tower in Ks’vere and unleashed it’s power to create a rift between this world and the Elemental Chaos. Through this, the dragon escaped. The strange woman and her guardians followed: their intentions to both stop the dragon and find a way to seal the rift.

That was five years ago, and neither the dragon nor the woman have been seen since while the rift remains open. Those that remember the woman and her companions believed that they are dead, or lost. Meanwhile, Solista’s kingdoms struggle with the dangers of an open elemental rift.

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Chaotic Curious

From a distance the rift appears to be a pillar of turmoil. Storm clouds roll about in equal abundance with magma and ice shards. Lightning flashes and the wind keens a threatening dirge. Nothing remains placid, all elements swirl in a vast primordial maelstrom.

The adventurers found the city largely abandoned, despite closed gates. A few stragglers cringe fearfully in their shelters and no one challenged the group as they explored the empty streets. Investigating the rift finds the tower replaced by a shifting wall of energy barely constrained by the runic wards that run the perimeter of the city walls. The truth of the city is learned. The walls, the gates, the very streets themselves are all laid with meticulous planning for this very task; a golden clasp holding together the torn fabric between two worlds. Havok is nowhere to be found, neither is his undead army, even the mocking, mutilated Blacksilver is absent. The group’s decision is unanimous: go through the rift and find Nkosi.

Forcing their way through the storm one at a time, the group found themselves tumbling through nothingness. They land on a floating chunk of rock, an earth “mote” drifting peacefully amid hundreds of others like clouds in the sky. Above them, a large wedge of earth and stone supports the Magus Tower. Eventually, the group figured out how to thrust their floating moat upwards and towards the tower, where they find themselves greeted by a mageforged servant.

A tour of the tower finds the towers residents are unharmed, and yet prisoners in their own tower. Nkosi is somehow imprisoned by the powerful ritual that holds open the rift. The priestess Akeema is helpless and has found no answers in the tower’s library. The mageforged can do nothing else except guard the doors and windows, left to the mercy of the elemental chaos. They can only report that Havok was last seen flying off into the distance, shortly before the arrival of the pirate ships.

Outside the highest level of the Magus Tower, a battle continues, oblivious to the arrival of the adventurers. An enormous ship with strange orbs of crackling thunder wheels about in the emptiness above the tower. Around it, several smaller ships with strange wing-like sails pivot and dart around the larger ship. After observing and exchanging shouts with one of the smaller ships, the intrepid party steers their bulky earth mote into the side of the larger ship and join the fray. Beset on all sides by elemental dwarves with flaming beards, they rescue a trio of gith pirates from being overwhelmed and together they set about carving a bloody path through the azers.

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Sands of Time

The trek through the desert while leading the refugees away from Ks’vere was grueling and dangerous. The adventurers planned carefully, scouting out the hazardous wasteland and fending off the unpleasant predators that prey on the unfortunates that stumble through their territories. Between oases, the group encountered a brooding purple worm and its larvae. The monster was ill equipped, however, for hunting heroes. The invertebrate was felled without any danger to the caravan of refugees.

On the sixth day, the caravan reached the trading outpost Ks’vala. Alarmed by the sudden arrival of over two hundred people and several dozen wagons, a half elf named Shynali calling himself the “Keeper” of Ks’vala insisted the caravan would overwhelm the rural town’s resources. Stubborn and close-fisted, Keeper Shynali was eventually ‘convinced’ to help the refugees after the party offered him a generous bribe. Too bad those gems will turn to worthless rocks by the end of the day.

===

Niche worked tirelessly by Kelorian’s side and together they look on satisfied as the last of the caravan stragglers settle into the makeshift camp at the edge of Ks’vala. The sun is setting behind the low adobe buildings, accompanied by sounds they hadn’t heard in days: cheerful voices, childrens’ laughter, and music. The refugees settle around their campfires as the sun sinks, feeling safe at last. As Kelorian watched, tired but proud, the golden halo of the setting sun flared momentarily before the last edge of the sun disk slips out of sight. Momentarily dazzled by its rays and a strange brightness spreads through his mind, only when Niche shouts his name does he finally shake it off. Kelorian hurries forwards to meet with the townsfolk and their leader, but in the back of his mind the feeling remains, strangely comforting.

===

Cenes watched with dark eyes as the Keeper Shynali stalked away with his payment tucked safely in his cloak. Idly her fingers pet the ragged black raven perched on her shoulder. Ruffling its feathers as she muses lost in her own thoughts, the bird croaks softly and peers at the warlock with his one good eye. Tiresome, she was glad they were not staying here any longer than needed to make sure the refugees were safely sheltered. They were already building campfires and pulling the wagons together, creating a perimeter between themselves and the open desert. Sufficient, in time they would need more, but that was not for her to worry about. Her task was unfinished. Invisible on her brow, the mark of the dark goddess burned cool against her skin.

“Do not worry that the others have left you. They were only stepping stones for you to reach this far. For each time you might have been cast down by this task, one of them has fallen instead. That is their sacrifice. Now child, seek the place where the water dances and never wearies, where fire eats earth and wind sings a song that is never good.”

===

Away from the city for the first time in a long while, Kesp is reminded of the desert’s beauty such as that had enfolded his secluded monastery. Away from the horde of people, the desert is not the wasteland everyone calls it. As the sun sets the sands cool. Snakes stir, ready to begin a night’s hunting for lizards and tarantulas. A desert thrush sings, and a burrow owl answers plaintively. Somewhere farther away, a pack of jackals yips excitedly, fading into the distance.

“A warrior that meditates on revenge keeps fresh the wounds inflicted on his mind and body, which otherwise would heal and do well,” says a kindly and familiar voice.

Kesp spins about, fists clenched and his lips parting to retort some remark to the unwanted advice giver. Startled, he finds no one standing near.

===

Nafai laughs, a rumbling sound that makes the halfling girl on his shoulder shout with laughter. At her brother’s urging, he lifts her higher and she spreads her arms for balance. Gently, he swoops the tiny creature downward to the ground where she squirms out of his grasp and runs to join the other children. The mageforged is a quiet monolith of metal and living wood, and the children swarm around him like sprites around a tree. At ease and carefree, he strolls along surrounded by their effervescent chatter and bubbling laughter.

A sound carries across the sand, ever protective; he turns warily – his glowing eyes glancing every way for signs of danger. With the sun below the western mountains the desert has turned to cool shadows. The flare of light at the edge of camp is sharply visible. It lasts for only a second, and moment later Frufalcon crests the dune, running.

===

Frufalcon waited impatiently for the others, anxious to return to the city. Six days since leaving Ks’vere was an uncomfortably long time without knowing what Havok might be doing in the City of Five Gates. His thoughts strayed to Nkosi. In comparison to Frufalcon, the human mage was young, but brilliant. To have mastered the mageforged ritual at his age was a sign of pure prodigy. Fenwir could see now why the old Master Anar had chosen the young princeling to be his apprentice. Frufalcon owed the young man his life for the skill and power the human mage could wield. Without it Frufalcon had been doomed to a life in jar, which was no life at all. The mageforged glanced down at his hands – strange appendages of metal and wood and yet as flexible and as sensitive as his own mortal hands had been. That was another thing, as best he understood, he was essentially immortal now – barring excessive damage. Yes, Nkosi had given him a whole new life and he wasn’t going to let the mage stand alone against the evils facing him now. The construct’s hands clenched and unclenched. He could not risk waiting longer, he resolved. With a sharp gesture, Frufalcon cut the shape of runes into the air and intoned three short commands. The runes arrayed themselves into a glowing arch. Frufalcon spoke the final word and opened the space between here and the Magus Tower and stepped forward to pass between.

The archway roared to life and Frufalcon was forced to stumble back with an alarmed cry. He batted at crackling flames licking at his arms and torso. The portal warped, vomiting a tidal wave of heat and fire. Twisting and shuddering, the runes ripped apart, sending tatters of flame spinning in all directions, before sizzling out of existence. Only a scorched circle of glassy sand remained in the spot where the portal had been summoned.

Frufalcon extinguished his burning limbs in the sand when he fell away from the exploding flames. He sat, stunned, for a long moment, until his mind shook itself out of inaction and realized all the possible consequences of what it had just witnessed. Staggering to his feet, the mageforged ran to find the others with dread in his heart.

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Broken Promises - A Vignette of Consequences

A shadow cloaks the hallway in darkness and a scuffle ensues between two mageforged and their unseen assailant. Umbra is a shadow dragon born in the realm of the Raven Queen and Havok’s most trusted servant. At Havok’s orders, he trepasses in the Magus Tower to find the corpse of the warlord Radze.

Elsewhere, in a quiet room in the Magus Tower, two bodies stir and move where none have the right to do. First one sits up, then the other with a ragged sigh.

The warlord and the sultan were both subject to a vile ritual from the Libris Crucius – one that allows their soul no rest and raises their undead bodies to continue their tasks under Havok’s command. But first, they must return to Havok and to do that they must escape the Magus Tower. Umbra acquires two mageforged for Radze to enthrall with his fiendish domination – and they begin their escape.

The mismatched group stealth quickly into the lowest levels of the tower and escape through the sewers. Out in the city, they stumble about the abandoned and burning Laborer’s district before splitting up to head their separate directions.

Nkota hurries to the tower and leaves a clue for his twin brother – the sultan’s leather boots next to the tower’s main gates. Unmistakable footwear made from the finest leather and given from one sibling to the other for the sultan’s coronation. That is all Nkota can do before he is compelled to rush back to the palace.

Radze toys cruely with the mageforged before sending them to their deaths at the hands of the ravaging anti-magic mobs. He agonizes in the desire to leave this city and his draconic master, but the compulsion overwhelms all things and, reluctantly, he turns back.

In a throne room accompanied by hulking undead guards, Havok speaks with Umbra when all is done. As one dragon to another, the nefarious gold confides that he has little faith in his warlord. Perhaps a better lieutenant can be found – corrupted from amid the ranks of the rightious dragonborn soliders fighting along side Orynn’s forces.

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A Draconic Threat

The adventurers rested but the morning found the city still struggling with riots. Mastermage Nkosi entreated the group to venture out and find a lost mageforged. In the city streets, the group found a band of laborers had cornered the mageforged in an abandoned tavern – but while there they were harassed by the now masterless wyvern. The laborers were quickly dealt with, while the wyvern was more tenacious. They were joined by the dwarf Khiff – not dead after all – who later revealed that while Blacksilver had struck him down, the priestess of Avandra’s temple had saved his life.

As the wyvern fell and the last of the laborers fled, a gold dragon appeared in the sky – Havok himself. Knowing they were well outmatched, the group fled the scene. Back at the tavern, they were helpless to watch as the gold dragon began raining fire and destruction upon the city.

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The Fate of a Tiefling

After convincing Mastermage Nkosi not to go through the portal himself, the adventurers stepped back into the throne room to find the Warlord gloating over the throne room with a handful of his undead lackeys. The warlord didn’t linger long though, but left his ghouls to clean house while he hurried to an important meeting. Arthas was felled and partial devoured by the ghouls before the rest of the group could drive the horrid creatures away. Seeing the brave avenger fall, the Frufalcon, now in the form of a newly animated mageforged, leapt through the portal to join the adventurers in destroying the last of the horrible creatures.

The adventurers hurried after the warlord, and the spied on him as he meet with an unexpected visitor – Blacksilver! The traitorous gryfolk revealed that the theives guild had been working with the enemy all along, mentioning that the dwarf and the innkeeper had been “dealt with” and that the guild would soon be taking care of the cleric in the warehouse district.

The battle with the warlord was long and intense, especially when the warlord revealed he had dominated their allies – Jerakor and Tikvah, and attempted to bend other adventurers to his will, forcing them to attack their own allies. Bloodied and with his wyvern mount immobilized, the warlord was forced to flee – only to be cornered once more.

When at last the warlord surrendered, he handed over the artifact spear Fearbringer and admitted the massacre on Kesp’s convent by the thieves guild – just to steal two other artifacts the convent guarded: a book, an orb. He confessed Havok’s goal: to conquer the mage’s tower. The adventurers had little mercy for the fallen warlord, granting him only the promise to destroy his body upon his death.

After the adventurers returned to the Mastermage’s tower, Nkosi revealed that the arcane rift in the basement of the tower was in fact a tear in the fabric of the planes. Connecting this world with the Elemental Chaos, the rift represents an immense source of power and a potential gateway to the other plane. Havok’s true intentions for the rift? Not yet know…

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The Adventure So Far...

2/28/09
The adventurers successfully entered the palace via the secret entrance. They found and rescued the sultan, defeating the zombies guarding him. Copperface used his scroll to open a portal to the Mastermage’s study. The adventurers were stunned then when Sultan Nkota bared his chest, revealing a horrid gem embedded in the flesh of his chest. The trap was sprung! The adventurers faced staggeringly powerful magic before finally felling the Sultan and shattering the gem. Now, Mastermage Nkosi swears revenge and readies the portal again…

1/28/10
Lead by Mastermage Nkosi’s advice, the adventurers trapped the Warlord’s wyvern mount before assaulting the city’s sole entrance – the Market Gate. A successful gambit, the gate is closed while a riot brews in the Ks’vere’s Beggar’s District. Next, the group must storm the palace.

Prior to Obsidian Portal…

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