So, this week in the Anduwin Chronicles….
Rhogar makes his way down the Romanesque stair case. The air warm, and inviting, with a fair breeze moving his coat, and blowing his fur. The scientist greets the party warmly, but seems confused by who the group are, despite flickers of recognition. He tells introduces this place as The Sanctuary of Eden. Rhogar thinks he has been here for a number of years, but Granuaile, 428 and Brant saw him only a few weeks ago, when it was thought he had died. He says The Queen is waiting for them and one party member in particular, confirming that Sivaras Marvolaas is amongst them. He offers to take the party to the Keeper of the Sanctuary, so that any questions the party may have about how they came to be here, and where in fact “here” is, can be answered.
Rhogar leads the four adventurers to a bazaar where a range of humanoids are bartering and selling all manner of goods, and services. People here seem to be exotic to say the least. Elemental beings in human form, as well as those with a more fiendish aesthetic. There are men whose hair is in a constant breeze, though the air around them is still, and women who leave watery footprints after each step. Sellers with a burning in their eyes, and a deep tan to their skin, as though they had been in the heat of the suns all their lives. Some traders are greener and stout, with a dark earthen pallor to their skin, and others could pass for human or elves completely, were it not for their horns and tails. This truly is a diverse bazzar. This is all noticed, but the guiding Rhogar does not stop to allow the party to interact with the stalls or markets. The party do not know how fortunate they are that they haven’t stopped, for their lives may have been traded more easily than they realise. Leaving the market, Rhogar shepherds the four through a marble tunnel, and on the other side, a vast green open space. Before them, in the middle distance, a temple.
From this, there is a long road out before the temple and movement towards tall cylindrical tower of arches. The structures are still marble, with patches of white, gold and grey within the stone. Rhogar leads the group to a single archway and directs them to pass through. Looking through this, the other side of the archway is not what is physically there. More, that the archway is likely some sort of magik doorway to enter the Sanctum of the Keeper.
On the other side of the archway, the party find themselves inside, with a series of stairs ascending in all manner of odd directions. An impossible structure, but they cannot deny the truth of their own eyes. Walking cautiously, the group head up the central and most natural looking stairs, which leads to a short carpeted corridor ending in a grand twelve foot high double door. All along the corridor, the walls are covered floor to ceiling with book shelves, and each shelf is entirely full of tomes and legers. Her druidic training takes a back seat, as Sivaras scans the titles of the books here, and her wizard’s eyes start to remind her of her home, and her time in the Academy. Sivaras finds a book, which she is surprised to see here. The Darker Things, written in a dark language itself, the abyssal tongue of the daemons and shadow fiends. She takes the book from the shelf and pockets this, to read later, intrigued by the language, and by its placement as a dark tome in this place, this Sanctuary of Eden. The double doors before the party open and a man in pale white robes steps forth. His hair moves in the none existent wind and his robes billow subtly. He appears to be in the autumn of his years, with greying hair swaying past his shoulders, and the faintest evidence of skin wrinkling.
“Welcome to Valmoral traveller” he says out loud and into the party member’s minds, “We don’t often get visitors from Menosophia, so it is truly our pleasure to host you. Though I would ask that you refrain from any illegal behaviours whilst you are here”. With this, the book Sivaras had taken rises from her pack, and across to the Keeper. “Ah yes, The Darker Things. There are so few in this place who can read such a text. I would be honoured if you proof read it for me” indicating the blue woman, “but I think I’ll hold onto it for now, as I do need to finish writing it” He tucks the book out of sight and returns to addressing the party as a whole, rather than just Sivaras. “I am Keeper Kal’Quim Seldarne of the Sanctuary of Eden. Now, what can I help you with then, strange travellers?”
Recognising the mental abilities of this individual, 428 speaks up, asking if the Keeper is able to read his mind, and uncover lost and hidden memories about who he is, and where he comes from. The Keeper grants this request and tells 428 that his memories are still there, but are hidden deep within his own mind, and that the land scape of his psyche is fractured somehow, like too many influences crying out at once. 428 thanks the Keeper for his effort, but accepts that his memories appear to be lost to him. The Keeper warns that they are not lost, but that he will need to find a way access them, and quiet the influences in his raging mind.
Keeper Kal’Quim Seldarne then goes on to tell the party that they have arrived on Valmoral. The Elemental Planet of Air. Granuaile and Brant ask if the Rhogar that brought the group to him, is truly their fallen comrade, as he did not appear to remember them. The Keeper provides information that although the fallen party member, Rhogar, was seen he is very definitely dead. The Keeper can sense that he is being manipulated by some sort of puppet master, with far reaching influence. 428 asks the location of the Anduwin Flute, after realizing where the group is, and that Brant had suggested from his knowledge that the Flute of the Whispering Winds was last seen in the ownership of the birdfolk who live in this realm. The Keeper shares that the son of the item’s previous owner is now most likely to have claimed possession of it, and that their clan nests a few days from this very temple. The Keeper can send the party home, or at least back to Menosophia and their duties in Bukká Mortainé or to another place on this planet, suggesting that he may be able to bring the party to the birdfolk clan directly. He notices that Julio bares an intriguing magik mark, and glances to where he tucked away The Darker Things book.
“This horse has been made a Champion of Dawnika,” he declares, causing Sivaras to go quiet at the mention of this word. He offers Granuaile fifty platinum pieces in exchange for a single inch slice of Julio’s skin, but the half-orc is reluctant to accept this offer, having seen the hurt that Julio has previously suffered. The Keeper is disheartened by the rejection, but does not press the issue. Instead, Brant asks for more information about the Anduwin artefacts the party has been asked to find. The Keeper tells that of the 6 items, 5 were made by the Anduwin, but the sixth Anduwin didn’t make an item. Rather, they became an item after immense sadness. It is rumoured that Y’Shaj became the Ice Stone, known as the Heart of Y’Shaj. The Keeper thinks that the dripping is Y’Shaj sorrow. This item once was kept on Valmora, but the ice stone heart was corrupting and so a previous Keeper cast it from the Planet of Air and into Menosophia, the world of our heroes. The Keeper reports after it was excluded, all records of it were destroyed. The Keeper tells us that the Sword of Marr was not in fact crafted by any Anduwin. The Keeper implies that it was stolen from a demigod known as Tarn Lesoto. This demigod was killed by Marr and the sword taken and renamed. It’s claimed Lesoto was a mad demigod, and that the legends talk of how Lesoto was vanquished by Marr, as the Anduwin protected the world. Granuaile asks the Keeper to check if Amelie is alright. The young woman the party saved a few months ago has now taken on the mantel of the Protectorate of Mountainsfoot, following the lineage of her father, Anton Quinn. Sivaras gets slightly upset at the mention of Lesoto for some reason, and remains quiet whilst Granuaile’s interest in Amelie is the topic of conversation, but the Keeper closes his eyes and draws a sigil in the air, casting some form of magik. He tells Granuaile that Amelie appears healthy, and is still making the journey to Mountainsfoot. With the same type of knowledge revealing magik, The Keeper tells 428 he is 33 years old and that the giantkin used to be a human, before being experimented on by huge amounts of magik to turn him into the giantkin that he now is. The Keeper shares that the party may be able to find information about the Flute of the Whispering Winds in the Hall of Echoes. The Keeper than there may be a need for aid, and that he has granted requests for most party members, and so offers Journ’ee and Sivaras something. The dwarf is reluctant initially, but the blue skinned woman asks for a means to find important people. The Keeper presents her with a single chocolate confectionary, and advises Sivaras that when she chooses to eat this, she can think of a single person, and scry on their location, using the magik infused in the confection, rather than her own power.
The group exits the Keeper’s Sanctum following his direction towards the Hall of Echoes. On the way to the hall, Journ’ee interrupts a blue scaled individual with draconic features, asking for directions. The blue man is muttering under his breath, and in his clawed hands a ball of lightning trembles, sparks and then flutters out of existence as the draconic man loses concentration on his spell. The dragonoid demands 12 platinum pieces from Journ’ee, as compensation for the cost of the spell scroll that had just been wasted. Journ’ee refuses and is marked magikally by the scaled man with a form of a cross faintly shimmering in the air before the dwarf, before fading from sight as though retreating into him. Sivaras spots Rhogar who appears to be following the party from a distance. It was only her looking around for him, at the mention of her name, and the Queen that caused her to spot him, whilst no one else does. She manipulates two small runes on her staff subtly, and four bright globules of light form in the sky high ahead. She connects the globes together and reshapes the light into the form of a snake made of energy, and lets it fall to the ground, following behind the group and leading the way for Rhogar after them. Journ’ee continues to ask for directions to the Hall of Echoes and eventually meets a human who is selling urns which contain the ashes of traitors. The trader says he is also on his way to the Hall of Echoes, and offers the dwarf an urn as payment for the company on his journey to the Hall. Journ’ee is given an urn and opens it, however, on opening Journ’ee is magikally sucked inside the urn, being drawn into a thin version of himself before his face and the rest of him vanishes into the urn fully, in a pop. Seeing this, Sivaras terrifies the man, allowing familiar black tendrilled snakes of smoke to spread out from the floor around her. In his terrified state he bows to the snake’s demands and he releases Journ’ee, who falls out on the ground in a heap when the trader opens the urn. The man tells the party that he was transporting slaves. Journ’ee convinces this man to open another urn. He opens it under duress and says “see you in a thousand years”.
Journ’ee takes two urns, Sivaras takes two, and 428 puts the man in the urn into his pack. Brant attempts to smash the two remaining urns, feeling uneasy about the slave trade here. Journ’ee attempts to sell the remaining urns before discovering that one of the urns already has a resident. The dwarf turns the urn over in his hand, before he opens it, and a fisherman is released. He is keen to get home to his son. He is unsure how much time has passed since he has been inside the urn, but works out from the party’s knowledge and information it may have been around ten years. The man is invited along with us, and he introduces himself as Mathias Burka Burkaman.
Eventually, the group, with Mathias in tow arrive at the Hall of Echoes. Everyone passes through a magikal barrier which enforces silence. Some of the party members try to speak or whisper and are silenced by monks looking sternly at them before they hear voices in their minds telling them each that this is a sacred place, and silence must be maintained so that the dead resting here can rest, and not be awoken or disturbed. Granuaile, Journ’ee and 428 follow to a hellspawn individual. The man is cloaked fully, with a hood up, and shadows covering his facial features. From under the hood, two red horns can be just barely made out, and under the robe proper the hint of a reptilian or daemonic tail. The hellspawn, in his monastic robes, leads Journ’ee Granuaile and 428 into the Hall and guides them directly to the resting place of the birdfolk that they seek – the last person known to hold the Flute of the Whispering Winds. They bow before a candle deep within the Hall, and smoke grows from the candle forming into a smoky shadow of a humanoid figure with avian features and two old battle weary wings from its back, shadowy, but seeming in a state of withering and featherlessness. The figure holds a giant scythe. The trio are quickly surrounded by the smoke and in that clouded haze sound returns to them. Granuaile asks for information about The Flute, explaining that the party have been tasks with seeking The Flute to end the war between the free people of Manosophia and the greyborn. Granuaile proves her title as a lady, and her peerage with her ring of position as the Lady of the Fourth House of Mountainsfoot. The shadowy birdfolk telle the Lady that he died in battle against the Emperor of Máurdorne, and he suspects the flute is most likely with the Emperor now. However, there may be a chance that the son of this fallen warrior has possession of it. The son is reported to be in a city in the clouds high above the surface of Valmora. Journ’ee asks the figure for the last words spoken from father to son, as a means to help convince the son of their integrity -“do not fall where your brother did. Instead, climb higher”. The shadow tells the party one final thing before the candle burns out, and the dark cloud draws him back into his own tomb or resting place.
“The Emperor does not seem to bleed.”
Meanwhile, just outside of the area of magikal silence, Brant asks one of the hellspawn monks to show him to someone who does not get many visitors, hoping he can spread some joy to a lonely forgotten soul. He is lead deep into The Hall past some old mossy and dusty areas. His guide stops here and speaks. Apparently this area is not as sacred, and sound may be heard here. The hellspawn tells Brant where he should go to make his visit and pay respects, directing him across a flagstone walkway with a scarcity of candles, and seeming to be beyond ancient. The room is large, and the light from what candles there are, is flickering eerily. There is a candle here too, before an old grave marker. The stone bares writing too old to be read, either because it is faded or the language is so ancient, it is beyond any language known today. The candle ignites itself and the room starts to fill with a huge amount of smoke, much as the other chamber had, with the birdfolk. The haze surrounds Brant, and fills his vision and lungs as a figure with two long straight horns rises out of the grave marker, and stands around ten feet tall. Even through smoke, his male draconic form can be made out as it continues to grow from the smoke. Brant realises his mistake, in asking to see someone who is rarely visited, and thinks quickly, introducing himself as Quiggly Questlow, bluffing that he is from the citywide initiative wanting people to visit the unvisited and departed. The draconic figure declares he does not want to be visited and angrily scraps his claws along the chamber floor. Brant asks how this figure came to be here. The dragonoid states that he failed his ascension, and so has been bound to this place for all eternity as a reminder of his failure and a warning to others who might try to ascend. Brant works out from his figure, horns, and his story that his shadowy echo of life is Viscaronn the First. One of the Máurdorne leaders and of the royal blood of the Grey Drakes. Viscaronn claims he once concurred much of the world before falling, after his failed ascent. Viscaronn states he exists in the Place Between Places now in a state of half-life. He spends his time resting, but recently has been able to offer advice to the current Máurdorne Emperor on ways to rebuilt the greyborn to their former glory and re-forge the empire. Brant also learns from Viscaronn that the Anduwin Machines can be used all together and at once but the last time was chaos. The long dead shadow seems to grow weary of his uninvited visitor and so thrusts his claw at Brant, who failed to dive out of the way, a second failure in his acrobatics in recent days. The halfling is enveloped by the darkened ethereal claw. As Viscaronn tightens his grip, Brant grip on his own consciousness falters. The shadow withdraws back into its base, with the candle barely burnt at all, ready to be ignited again in future. As the shadow fades back into its resting place, the claws relax and Brant is nowhere to be seen.
Outside of the Hall of Echoes, Sivaras meets with the puppet of Rhogar, seeking only she knows what. She sits on the edge of a shallow fountain to address the bugbear, but knows she is really going to be addressing someone far more interesting.
Across the Sanctuary of Eden, a halfling wearing fine clothes scampers across the ground in a feral state. His mind shattered with all intelligence vanished. His eyes are wild as they dart from light to shadow, from noise to possible food. Already in moments, his famous charisma disappears and the bard is left nothing but a wild animalistic version of himself. Brant Goldust’s psyche has been destroyed.
It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below. It lies below.
And that’s where we left off…