Conquest of Ythalek

Pirate's Cove

Traveling the waters yet again, the party – aided by Fei Pa – waited for the vortex to approach. Jeoffrey set up the ritual on the boat and continued the chant to maintain it. When the vortex arrived, one of the three boats disappeared without trace. However, the second boat only disappeared from the water level up – the bottom of the boat remained on the water. When the vortex arrived on the party’s boat, everyone held their breath as the boat was sucked through a wormhole complete with psychadelic colors and screaming skulls with flaming eyes.

When the party’s eyes readjusted, they were in a huge cavern. The boat was sitting in a pool of water, but there was no noticeable water exit. A wood dock was extended out to the boat and led into a cave into the rock. Inside the cave, the party could see a number of pirates, including at least one who appeared to be a captain. Dexlexius called out to the enemies to surrender, and several began to do just that. However, the bellowing voice of the captain broke their intentions, but left them slightly vulnerable. None of the guards at the entrance to the cave posed much of a threat, though, and within a few rounds, the captain stood alone, causing him to throw down his sword in surrender.

After being bound by Fei Pa and Jeoffrey, the captain (known as the Harlock) revealed to Dexlexius and the group that the elementals had taken over the pirates, and he had no love for their way of running things. He informed the group that the path to the leader of the elementals, the Wrath of Dagon, could only be opened by destroying the winter witch hiding within the cave. The party set out for the cave, investigating its pathways.

Two secret paths were found along the main corridor. The first was investigated by Dexlexius, and the only thing that he found of interest was a painting of a nude woman, which he promptly cut from its frame and pocketed. Fei Pa found the other room, but was not interested in exploring its passages. Jeoffrey investigated, only to find a room of torture and death. An iron maiden stood along one wall, coated in blood. A chest in the corner held remnants of animals and humanoids. A large pile of bones of mostly humanoids sat in another corner. Other torture devices were spread out on a table directly opposite a mirror which was determined to be an exit for a one-way portal.

While the side rooms were being investigated, Cliona and Al’derath found another locked wooden door. At Cliona’s urging, Al’derath smashed the door down to find the winter witch, two human pirates, and 6 each of fire and air elementals. Al’derath blockaded the door, but took the brunt of the damage, as each of the minions exploded on death. The witch summoned worms from the ground and bound most of the party in place, making them much easier prey for the elementals and pirates. As necrotic magics flew both directions, finally the party dispatched all but one of the elementals. However, as Al’derath and Fei Pa moved into the room to engage the enemies point blank, a spell from Cliona dropped Al’derath to the ground. Finally, Dexlexius was able to shake off the worms binding his feet, and though things look bleak, the fight continued.

Finally, a break was had once Dexlexius was able to enter the fight proper and heal Al’derath back to his feet. Though the pirates and the witch tried valiantly to put him back to the ground, their attacks seemed to go awry and miss their intended target, allowing the half-orc to stay in the mix. After a series of hard shots from Fei Pa, however, the pirates managed to drop her to the ground as well. The turn finally occurred when the female pirate was dropped to the ground and subsequently raised from the dead by Cliona. With an extra attacker on the field, it was only a matter of time before the other pirate and the witch also fell.

Though they had the advantage of time and, to a small degree surprise, the party elected to return to the ship for some much needed rest. They took the captured pirate Harlock onto the boat with them and bedded down for an extended sleep.

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Herlie Part III

After returning to Herlie, the party split to find a way to bypass the dangerous vortex that the pirates used. Jeoffrey, Dexlexius, and Alderath immediately journeyed to the wizard’s tower, only to find the two primary researchers locked in some sort of stasis. A young researcher, who later was introduced as Kurenai, told the party that the wizards had engaged in a heated magical debate, had each cast spells to prove their point, and managed to lock themselves in stasis. He also mentioned that the stasis could be broken if one of the wizards was weakened, but that it could be detrimental to that wizard’s health and magic power. While Jeoffrey traveled to the library to find books on the stasis and the vortex, Alderath and Dexlexius attempted to break the stasis fields by more conventional means (read: punching it).

While the rest of the party attempted to figure out what to do, Cliona traveled the town, talking briefly to an armor merchant who asked for a particular ice armor from the north, before arriving at the main farm inside the town. While speaking with the farmer, she learned that there was some kind of taint coming from far to the northeast that had managed to weaken the land without truly killing it. He mentioned that some of the townsfolk blamed the ruins to the north, so Cliona moved to investigate there. Finding runes designed to block scrying and viewing, she attempted to move the runes and see what was being hidden. She met a woman who preferred to remain hidden and a mystery, but received more information on the tainted lands to the northeast. She also received an orb to take to one of the wizards in the tower by the name of Malice Shardswarm.

While Dexlexius and Alderath were attempting to free the two wizards, Cliona arrived and pushed an orb through the previously impenetrable stasis field and into the female wizard’s hand. Almost at once the stasis was broken and the woman departed with Cliona as soon as her senses were back with her. Jeoffrey, after meeting with the librarian Mira and agreeing to locate some lost books, returned with what he needed, and with the help of Dexlexius, the male wizard Tyrna Nog, and Kurenai, they were able to easily deduce how to counteract and use the vortexes. Just prior to leaving, the master of the wizard’s tower returned – a robed woman by the name of Zerase. Though she did not stay long, Dexlexius did realize that the name and appearance met the description of a lone sorceress who had mediated problems on the continent for over a millennium. He vowed to research and write an epic ballad of her deeds.

The party then decided to meet the lord of the keep once more before departing. On the way, Cliona departed toward the east while Dexlexius, Jeoffrey, and Alderath stopped briefly to talk with the paladin guarding the church. When they once again saw Cliona moving toward the keep, the party departed the church for the keep. The lord was little help, so the party journeyed back toward the docks, stopping at the church once more. Cliona seemed to warm up to the paladin quite quickly, finding out that his name was Krenal’Onar Ken’rahel, also called “Karl.” Through their discussion, they learned three high priests had gone missing, one each from Kord, Bahamut, and Pelor. They also managed to recruit the young human acolyte Miku to their cause.

Although Cliona seemed to thoroughly enjoy talking to the paladin if for no other reason than to annoy Dexlexius, the party eventually headed south down the docks. Along the way, they found a former pirate who directed them to a pickpocket who had raided the pirate’s camp on several occasions in the past. Dexlexius was instantly enamored with the red-haired Fei Pa, a rogue from the Forlorn Dynasty. However, he spent quite a bit of time falling into the water to “cool off” as Cliona, Fei Pa, and Cliona’s butterfly Caer all manipulated his senses. After some time, Fei Pa agreed to aid the group for another chance to get into the pirate’s coffers. The party loaded onto the boat, agreeing to captain one of the three ships heading toward the pirate’s vortexes.

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The Open Water

After some time on the ship, the party began to show signs of impatience, with the Alderath and Agrias both getting fidgety. DeClerq assured the party that they were going the right way, and Sialeeds began to prepare for a ritual. Agrias moved to the elementalist’s side and prepared her sword and shield, scanning the horizon.

Not long after Sialeeds appeared to have finished her ritual, a purple glow appeared out to sea. Within moments, a large explosion was seen, followed by the retreat of the purple glow. As the glow disappeared, another merchant vessel from Herlie appeared from the direction of the previous glow and headed in the direction of the party’s ship. As the ship came within clear unaided view, the purple glow once again appeared. This time, the party could see a large vortex appear in the water under the ship. Within seconds, the ship exploded and the vortex moved under the party’s ship. As Dex and Jeoffrey prepared for the worst, the vortex blinded for a moment and retreated as quickly as it had come.

When the vortex cleared, a large boat had appeared beside the party’s, along with two smaller boats – one on each side. On each of the small boats was a collection of pirates and ninjas. The fast attackers jumped onto the ship to attack the party, and it quickly became obvious that their target was Sialeeds. Though Agrias kept by her side, Sialeeds was still vulnerable while she was chanting her ritual. Dexlesius and his Owlbear also moved to her side, and he used his magical music to move several of the attackers off the boat or into range of Alderath. While those three kept a front, Cliona and Jeoffrey blasted the minions from a distance and eliminated the threat.

After only a few moments’ rest, a small army of elementals suddenly appeared on the opposite ship – two fire snakes, two wind tigers, and a large blind elemental that Cliona identified as Destrachan, a higher ranking being within elemental hierarchies. DeClerq’s crew immediately began construction of a boarding bridge, taking only a few seconds to complete it. However, Alderath could not be bothered to wait and used the dead bodies in the water to cross to the other ship and smash into a fire snake. However, before the rest of the party could react, Alderath had taken a severe beating. Without waiting longer (and with some goading from Dexlexius), Agrias charged across the newly created bridge and secured it on the other side. Dexlexius immediately followed and sent a majestic word in Alderath’s direction. As Shatheera, Cliona, and Jeoffrey began to bombard the elementals, Agrias moved in and used Lay Hands on Alderath, strengthening him further. As Destrachan moved to attack, Cliona raised an elemental from the dead and blocked the large elemental’s path. Before long, the party had annihilated the elementals and saved the second ship from total destruction. DeClerq agreed that the party should keep the ship, and both ships were then sailed back to port.

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Herlie Part II

The party rushed to the port to find it under siege by a large number of elemental beasts. Immediately the armored girl and Nunah pushed into the fight, followed closely by Sheima and Andraste. Jeoffrey held back and began to throw spells at the apparently leader of the group, a large water elemental with a staff. As they began to bluff each other and fire errant magic bolts at each other, the other 4 attempted to help 5 of the soldiers that were being mangled by the other elementals. At the beginning, the party seemed to have some success. However, it was quickly revealed that a few of the elementals were merely mindless walking bombs, exploding upon their death and causing elemental damage to anything surrounding them. Quickly the party changed their strategy, but by then two large elemental beasts had joined the fight. The Neldrazu, a large wind elemental that had the ability to teleport around the battlefield, and the Balgruga, an earth elemental that looked somewhat like a large bog monster, began to tear into the group. A third elemental, a transparent female water elemental, suddenly killed a soldier only to spawn an exact replica of herself. Seeing this, Nunah changed his focus and managed to destroy one of them. His distractions allowed Sheima and Jeoffrey (who had weakened the caster in the back) to destroy the other one, ending the threat she posed.

However, even with the removal of most of the small elementals and the duplicating water elemental, Andraste was having a difficult time keeping up with the healing on the party. When the picture looked bleakest, the worst off of the party felt their wounds being reduced. A quick glance revealed a new ally: a young human priestess with long green hair. After her heal, the party renewed their efforts, finally dropping the water elemental caster and the Balgruga. When they turned on the Neldrazu, the wind elemental teleported away.

In the aftermath, the new cleric introduced herself as Miku, a priestess at the temple in town. She mentioned that some problems had kept her from the fight longer than expected, but she divulged nothing else. Neorith and Shatheera arrived shortly after, asking the party to visit the Lord of the Keep with her. A quick trip to the north had the group pass the church to find Miku and a dark-elf paladin guarding the doors, which were tightly barred. Once they arrived at the Lord’s Keep, the group realized that they had lost Andraste. However, knowing he was probably either fine or beyond saving, no effort was made to learn more.

After the Lord scolded Neorith for interrupting his discussing with three other nobles and finished his discussion, he turned to Neorith to get her explanations. She stated that the fairies Nunah and Sheima were coming with her, and thus the only current adventurers that would be joining him for a time was Jeoffrey and Shatheera. Although Jeoffrey stated that he was only an academic, the Lord encouraged him to help anyway, insisting that he needed help in academic affairs as well.

Before more could occur, the party was interrupted by a large owlbear tearing through those assembled, purring and licking and nuzzling anyone that could come close. The orphan girl who had accompanied the group began to pet and play with the owlbear as a half-elf bard ran up, claiming the owlbear (named Captain Scruffaluffagus) was his and that he was harmless. Within moments, the bard Dexlexius had been recruited and added to the Lord’s retinue, followed shortly by his assumptive proclamation that he had a date that night with Shatheera.

Neorith departed with Nunah and Sheima, saying that the two fairies were going to be added to the defense of the capital, working on training new troops as well as devising battle tactics and scouting. The rest of the party was told to go to the port to join in the attack on a group of pirates that had been plaguing the coast. On the way through the docks, the party found Andraste recruiting some of the dockworkers into his pyramid scheme of selling the hair product “Shoulders and Head.” Although he pushed his product and selling methods on the party, they quickly declined and moved toward the ship they were meant to board.

Within a few steps, the party was shocked to find a young dryad climbing a ladder out of the harbor, followed closely by a purple butterfly. A quick question told the group that the dryad in front of them was not interested in talking but in destroying the pirates that had captured her, although Dexlexius tried valiantly to get a date. Shatheera, however, recognized her markings as belonging to the dryads of a particular forest she had visited as a child but had since been overrun by the undead and the war. Once she realized that Shatheera had similar goals to her beyond just the pirates, the dryad joined the group and introduced herself as Cliona and her butterfly familiar as Caer.

Without further ado, the party made it to the docks and found one of the soldiers they had saved from the elementals. Although he had very little information at the moment, he did introduce himself as Blargh and said that he usually had a good bit of information about the going-ons of the town. The party thanked him and said they’d be back to talk to him later.

Passing by Xiahou Dun and Guan Yu, who were discussing the pirate problem, the party boarded the boat and met the captain, a white-haired woman named DeClerq. She also introduced three other prominent members of the crew: her friend and bodyguard Agrias, the snobbish wind elementalist Sialeeds, and a young half-orc warrior named Al’derath U-kinmustyr. After some brief introductions, the party prepared to set sail, only knowing the pirates used magic to somehow get in range to destroy their victims and that Sialeeds was going to help “take care of that.”

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Herlie

The party began their exploration of Herlie after Neorith introduced them to their guide, an Eladrin Ranger named Shatheera. Immediately the party headed for the tavern, although it was fairly obvious that the Gnoll would have prefered to head to either the library or the wizard’s tower in the south part of town. While in the tavern, the party ran across three potential recruits: a pair by the name of Maximillian and Hayashi who are arguing about military methods of accomplishing objectives and a woman by the name of Lorelai who seems to be deep in thought. After some simple interrogation, Jeoffrey determined that Max and Hayashi were merely debating different sides of the same point, and after some discussion, Max admitted that he saw Hayashi’s point clearly. Some mediation later and Max agreed to join the militia for the Maymai Alliance, but Hayashi still needed time to sort out some affairs before he could consider it.

As for Lorelai, Andraste spent some time trying to crack her defenses, only to succeed when Nunah arrived. After some talking about the warrior way, Lorelai admitted that she was looking for a rival by the name of Killey, a man who often travels donned all in red. Though she will not join the party yet, she agrees to consider it after they face off against Killey and prove their worth.

Once outside, the party then traveled through the market. At their first stop, they found a small pixie trying to create illusions for donations. However, they are not very good and thus most people just laughed at her. Though dejected, she kept trying, and Jeoffrey “fell” for one of them in order to encourage her. Though she seemed to realize he was only trying to make her feel better, she seemed to perk up and wanted to spend time with the group. Once their purpose was explained, the young fairy, introduced as Fizzle, immediately asked to join, notching another recruit for the party.

After finding a drunken seller of booze who requested a rare drink, the party progressed north. Jeoffrey and Andraste found a pretty, young woman talking to an accessory dealer. She seemed to be quite interested in one of the items, but kept getting distracted and never bought it. Jeoffrey purchased the bracelet and was in the process of giving it to her when the woman sneezed and disappeared.

During this time, the fairies migrated toward what appeared to be an abandoned flower cart. However, once they arrived, they found a small flower found only in their native Feywild floating back and forth at the back of the cart. On closer inspection, Shiema found the flower being held by a very young girl. Though she could not speak, Shiema found that she could somewhat understand what the little girl was trying to say, and after some bonding, the girl decided that she would join the militia as well.

When the party regrouped and headed north toward the keep, they found a group of nobles’ sons picking on one of the less fortunate children. When the party moved to stop it, another young girl in armor and holding a spear charged the group, dispatching the bullies. After calming down the young boy and sending him on his way, the girl introduced herself to the party as an orphan who was trying to join the castle guard. However, her age (around 15) had kept her out of it. The party tried to get her to join the militia and were making some progress when a cry was heard throughout the market that the port was under attack. Without waiting Cecille and the party headed for the port to defend the town.

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The Beginning

The party collected in the Training arena in order to be tested by the Drill Instructor and placed in the mercenary service of the Maymai Alliance. The first order of business was to defeat a number of training dummies (mannequins – melee controllers) in order to prove their worth. The initial test passed very quickly, with the party learning quite a bit about the other members’ skills. However, their true test lie with a duel against a visiting diplomat – Xiahou Dun (of Wei Dynasty fame) from the Forlorn Dynasty. Xiahou Dun was a retooled Frenzied Werewolf (solo brute) and was retooled to fit the more mystic aspects of the Strikeforce game. He shifted to his alternate form at bloodied and everything was altered slightly to have a more mystic feel. However, after 7 solid, strong rounds of fighting, the training was stopped by the Drill Instructor and the party was led before the leaders of the mercenaries, Espgarude and Neorith. After accepting their appointment into the mercenary army, the party was given a place to rest in order to prepare for their first task – escorting Xiahou Dun and Neorith to the port of Herlie so that Xiahou Dun could take the boat back to his home. The trip itself was uneventful, although on Shiema did manage to strike up a bit of a friendship with Neorith on the trip by talking fashion and braiding the idol’s hair.

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