Saggitarian Nexus

Vralkek

The crew, at this point comprised of Adair, Aosid, Arista, Caelyn, Celeborn, Marus, Rhuvanna, Taskar, and Tavarius, are taken unawares to Calmachia’s island where Taskar has a strange conversation with the forge about “bettering” things. That done, the team hits the high seas. After a bit, they put The Captain’s Pajamas into port at Vralkek in Droaam for supplies. They were greeted strangely by a wide variety of folk that founnd the combination of elves and other [monstrous?] races in the party confounding. While shopping for ritual components for Arista’s new dragonmark-given abilities, they learned of a traditional yearly footrace occurring the next morning, the grand prize being a carver! Or as Arista strangely describes them, “dinos!” Without second thought, the Eladrin enters the race. The rest of the group do their best to keep her alive and other people behind her. After much struggle and surprise help from an orc identifying himself as one of the Kasarin, Arista takes the day, the gold, the dino, and the strange ale! Set for the time being, and with a new member of the team, the group heads north, planning to stop on Marsharian shores when next supplies are needed.

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Last Season Summay

The island contained an abandoned creation forge, still running under the oversight of the curiously sentient construct Calmachia. The doppleganger was found and killed in the bowels of the forge, as were two Brelish agents, Jelia and Marus. During a brief visit to Cliffport, Kyr communicated her intent to close the Bookhouse Boys and depart for regions unknown, leaving a parting warning concerning a blue dragon of mutual acquaintance.

The party returned to Sharn in the hopes of finding an authority to deal with the forge, and hit on the King’s Eyes, a pseudo-secret branch of the Brelish government. Jelia was imprisoned for being stupid, among other things, and Marus signed aboard the newly christened Captain’s Pajamas.

The Nexus set out with Shae, an operative of the Eyes, to secure the forge for the Brelish crown. On return, they found that Celeborn and Marus were kidnapped. Investigation led them to believe House Cannith was making its own play for the discovered forge, and two attacks by house personnel in the streets of Sharn solidified suspicions.

The party infiltrated a government tower, finding their friends, but no clues concerning Cannith’s curious behavior. Chased out of the tower by a massive metal construct, the party went underground.

Amid general pandemonium, Shae asked the Nexus to sniff out the one man who would surely have information concerning the odd happenings: Merrix D’Cannith, Mayor of Sharn and One of the candidates for leadership of House Cannith. The party located a sinister lab hidden in the middle of the city, and though the mayor remained elusive, they also found clues concerning the house’s alarming plans.

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On the Consequences of Being Assertive

In need of information, the Nexus follows up a clue given them by Rettissh, searching the docks for evidence of missing silver. They find the ship in question, and discover that it travels daily in and out of the city, taking on cargo at port, and returning empty.

The party waits for it’s return the following morning, then confronts he sailors loading cargo. The crew remains obtuse and rude, and is about to leave port, when Taskar escalates the matter with a well timed scaly fist.

A large-scale battle breaks out, with the Nexus eventually wresting control of the ship from the sailors and speeding out of the dock, a naval vessel in pursuit.

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Sidetracked?

The party awakes to some commotion, and soon finds out that the people of Thardis have discovered the dead bandits. An impromptu celebration is held. Lord Ashley gives the party a sack of gold in exchange for retconning his hiring of the Nexus. Ale is served!

Back in Cliffport, the Nexus finds Kyr in some distress. She sends the party on an emergency mission given the BB by Astranth. They travel to an old castle on a hill, and dispatch a young white dragon with… um… dispatch.

On their return, Kyr grants the party a full explanation of her organization’s ties with Astranth, namely the blue’s habit of using the business to add to his horde.

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Trail of the Doppleganger

Tavarius and Taskar Rence wait cautiously in the headquarters of The Bookhouse Boys . After a few moments, Kyr enters, followed by Aosid and Rettissh. She claims that Rettissh has spent the last week in Cliffport’s prison, and further questioning reveals that he had no knowledge of the deal that he was supposedly involved in the day before. With coincidences mounting, the party becomes more and more certain that their doppelganger foe is hard at work. Mistrustful of their employer, but out of options, they return to the sight of yesterday’s bandit ambush in search of answers.

A trail leading into the wilderness is found, and despite some spotty guidance by the Paladin, they find themselves at the dead bandit’s camp, nestled at the top of a large plateau overlooking a wooded valley. The camp has been deserted, though the ranger thinks that no more than a day or so could have passed since the exodus. A more detailed examination is about to take place, when the armored members of the party activate a magical message interred in the still burning fire-pit. A sepulchral voice speaks of surrender, servitude and a fatal promise before extinguishing. The ritual’s end summons a grand serpentine beast of flames and bone which attacks without hesitation. At the battles end, the Nexus questions whether they are the intended recipient of the strange message. Caelyn’s only clue is his knowledge that magic of great power and evil was used in the creation of the monster, a feat much too difficult for the likes of roadside bandits.

Weary, the party marches out of the wilderness and returns to Thardis, where they locate the town’s single tiny inn and settle in for the night.

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Arrival In Cliffport
The Nexus finds city life to be a tad more complicated.

Kyr leads the party to Cliffport, a bustling trade city on the western shore. Feeling obligated to the heroes who recovered her soul, she offers the travelers a place to rest, and a job.

The Nexus is tasked with escorting a cart of goods through known bandit county. True to the warning, the party is attacked while passing through a ruin. Fending off the bandits, they continue to the rendezvous near the small hamlet of Thardis.

The party meets a band of smugglers led by Rettissh, who tells the Nexus that payment for the goods has already been made. The smugglers are insistent on receiving the crates they claim as their own. Unable to strike a deal with the party, Rettissh attacks, escaping in the Nexus’ cart with half the cargo.

During the ensuing battle, a Gnoll and Tiefling are captured, though an interrogation reveals that neither will betray their employer. A quick search of the surrounding countryside leads The Nexus to what appears to be the smuggler’s hideout, though it has been recently looted. Unsure of who to trust, the party makes their way back to Cliffport to search for answers.

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Down from the Bluff

All You climb the bluff. You see nothing out of the ordinary until you reach the top. A small, ornately wrapped parcel sits in the precise middle of the surface, surrounded by the young-but-still-quite-enormous tracks of Donnyx.

Taskar looks around and then cautiously approaches the package. He lifts it, hesitant to inspect if further, and presents it to Arista, who has followed closely behind him.

Suln rocks back and forth on his heels.

Arista says: “I wonder what this could be… a million gold wouldn’t fit in here… but the equivalent in astral diamonds….” With an expectant giggle, Arista eagerly grasps the parcel and deftly opens it. No one’s sure they even saw how she did so. With a flourish she reveals…

*All* Some stuff! Incidentally, nothing horrible happens to Arista. There are some items that seem to be larger than the parcel originally was:

Draconic Gilding: This can be applied to your shield, reinforcing and “pimping” it, allowing you to stylishly force your opponents back.
Power (Daily): Free Action. Use this power when you hit an enemy with a melee attack. Push the enemy 1d4 squares after applying the attack’s effects.
Level 15: Push 2d4 squares.
Level 25: 3d4 squares.

Ghost Bridle: This standard harness shimmers with the wind. If you concentrate, you can put your hand straight through, and if you wear it like you were a pack animal, you and whatever depraved being is riding you gain an ethereal, ghostly appearance.
Property: The mount gains resist 10 necrotic.
Power (Daily): Minor Action. You and your mount gain phasing until the end of your turn.

Cor’s Vengeance: This greatbow was apparently crafted by loving, skillful hands for someone named Cor, whose name is etched into the grips. The length is painted with elaborate images of a Shifter warrior slaying an enormous red dragon and protecting his village. There are burn marks on the upper end and a large blood stain on the bottom third.
Prof. 2, Damage 1d12, Range 25/50
Enhancement (
2): Attack and damage rolls
Critical: +1d8, or +1d12 against dragons
Property: This weapon provides 5 resistance against dragon breath attacks.
Power (Encounter): Free Action. Use this power when an attack hits a bloodied ally within 10 squares of you. Gain a +2 power bonus to attack rolls and +1d10 on damage rolls against the attacker until the end of your next turn.
Power (Daily): Minor Action. Your next attack with this weapon against a dragon, if made before the end of your turn, gains a +5 power bonus to the attack roll and automatically ignores any resistance the dragon has.

Staff of the War Mage: As you hold it, you sense that it will alter its appearance to obey your whims. Also, your name becomes more difficult to pronounce.
Prof 2, Damage 1d8
Enhancement (
2): Attack rolls and damage rolls
Critical: +2d8
Power (Daily): Free Action. Use this power when using a power that has a blast or burst effect. Increase the size of the blast or the burst by 1.

There is also 1,500 gp in precious gems and a note in a florid Draconic script:

“I admit that these tokens are a mere fraction of what I could offer you, but I trust that you have no issue with them. A few of them came from my rival Vulk’s cache–you may have noticed his remains on the bluff. At any rate, go forth with my thanks, but do not hold it lightly.”

As you open the note, a pendant slips out from the folds. It bears an emblem of an arm holding a golden sword with the bows of a deciduous tree growing from the blade. You might hear Kyr stifle a small gasp.

Taskar takes the note from the very much distracted Arista and reads it, barely catching the pendant. He then holds out the bag of holding and clears his throat several times. Eventually, he wrangles the jewels from the rogue, letting her hold on to a couple to play with.

As the others dig in, Taskar steps over to Kyr and holds the pendant out for her inspection, looking at her inquisitively and somewhat sternly.

All Reluctantly accepting that the Nexus has a way of seeing the truth of things (somehow), Kyr raises an eyeridge and refrains from talking just long enough to be coy.

“That old bluebird is so hard to predict. I can’t say much in the open air, but I will tell you this: you have friends in Cliffport you haven’t met yet. They’re definitely.. ah.. your type..”

She shoots Taskar yet another LOOK.

“Except they’re worth knowing.”

Suln: Figuring that it his continued disregard for the Dragons was what put this loot in front of him, Sūln decides to continue that course of action. He pokes each piece in the collection and bites the Gilding, impressed. He attempts to juggle a few jewels before ignoring the horde.

Unsure what sort of LOOK is being shot, Taskar does his best to make his response as neutral as possible: “That type are particularly difficult to come across, aren’t they?”

As Caelyn and Prince continue playing with their new toys, Taskar goes over to examine the gilding. Taking it over to Sūln, he offers it to the dwarf.
“We owe you a bit more than this, but for now stories of rescuing dragons and a pint once we reach Cliffport will have to suffice.”

*All* The party heads west to Cliffport, lead by the ever-amused-except-when-she’s-being-eaten Kyr. As you walk, you notice a slight shift in the physics of the world. You wonder what strange events will follow in the bustling, airship-filled metropolis.

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In a Creepy Room
Where nothing creepy is bound to happen

Taskar sat on his haunches a respectful distance from the other dragonborn as she lay unconscious. He was trained in two healing arts. The first he regularly employed in battle, calling upon his companions to find reserves of strength in themselves. The second was a traditional technique he’d learned from a disheveled monk he’d befriended after mistaking him for a pile of rags. He had administered both in this situation to the best of his abilities, bandaging what he could, salving the rest, all the while muttering words of what he hoped were encouragement. He didn’t rightly know how to assuage spiritual wounds.

He now watched the rogue and ranger claw their way into the trap door. He’d tried the stone over the door again, to no avail. Despite their taunting, Taskar did have at least a fraternal connection to the unconscious female. Despite his best efforts to become worldly and to make himself more than just another dragonborn warrior, he had in no way become calloused. He was still compelled to help when he could. This compulsion seemed amplified in the presence of one of his own race. For the time being, at least, he’d done all he could. He closed his eyes and began clearing his mind for meditation.

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Wherein Taskar Finds a Girlfriend (Maybe)
Soul-Eater Explosion!

So, after thoroughly destroying [read: exploding into a blinding, inky mess] three of four Dark Ones, and watching a Lady Dragonborn smash a Flaming Skull that the party first thought may have been their wayward magical halfling buddy, the dragon-woman called the party by name and beckoned for them to follow as she ran into a cave. The already-smitten Taskar eagerly ran after her, while Caelyn, Arista, and Prince followed more cautiously. Once inside the cave, the dragon they’d been following appeared in her true form as a Doppleganger and ran around the corner. They followed, only to discover an empty corridor where her tracks ended abruptly before a sealed trapdoor. Prince immediately ran into the next room, and then out again, screaming, sending a fireball over his shoulder for mega-damage.

The rest of the party arrived behind Prince just as a huge Desolator rounded the corner, the female Dragonborn from earlier curled up in his translucent belly. He proceeded to vomit on Arista a horrible digested-soul necrotic slurry. During the ensuing moments, Taskar continually worried aloud about the lovely female whose soul was being devoured and asked the party to help him save her. Caelyn responded by telling the warlord to “keep it in [his] pants,” to which Taskar replied, “it’s too big!” Eventually, the Nexus managed to slay the hideous creature, luckily, just before it killed the lady inside.

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Onward to the Bluff
Aosid disappears and Suln arrives.

And so the party gives their final farewells to the town that owes them quite a bit more than it knows. The newly-bolstered group (complete with Caelyn, who was found stalking a forest lizard a few miles from town) departs along the road heading west seeking clearly-defined ADVENTURE. They explain to the occasional passerby that they are headed to Tor’s Mesa, a landmark whereat a vision of the Raven Queen told them they would fight Azalin, the lich who destroyed Tavarius’ every hope and dream. Don’t worry; it will probably make sense eventually.

Spirits are abnormally high, even for the borderline-masochist Nexus. Everyone fiddles with his or her new toy, menacing squirrels with disappearing daggers or carving meaningless-but-eerie symbols into rocks with unnaturally sharp blades. Adair, Stormsoul swordmage and newest Nexus constituent, trades his strange story for those of the rest of the group. At one point, Taskar even flips a coin to a completely irrelevant transient who is obviously sleeping off a hangover in the ditch. Yep, that transient is definitely not significant.

The distinctive cumulonimbus outline of Tor’s Mesa becomes clear on the horizon just in time for it to be silhouetted by a fantastic prismatic sunset. The recently-and-supposedly-wizened party completely fails to keep their jaws from dropping for a full fifteen seconds. Soon, though, the sunburst burns through the world, leaving a piercingly clear starfield after the shortest green sigh of an afterglow. The group begins to set up camp as soon as they recover basic motor function.

The stories continue over a roaring fire and a fine skin of wine (yet another parting gift from Fallcrest). As the fire and the lively Draconic and Elven jests die down, the full moon rises to the east with the shape, vitality, and comforting air of a very pregnant mother. Again, the possibly fate-touched Nexus (even Adair, always lost in his own thoughts) reacts as one with a soft sigh.

Aosid, though, eyes the smiling orb with a curious intense gaze. He sighs again, but louder. “She’s showing me something,” he states softly and distractedly. “I have to go.” He stands and offers the smallest grin and a sad little look to the rest of the Nexus.

“I’ll find you.”

Before anyone can react, the air folds around him and he is gone without a noise.

Taskar looks to the other devotee of Sehanine questioningly. He then asks a question: “What was that about?”

Arista studies the moon for a long moment, then absently replies, “He has always been a seeker. He has no ties. Even when he is not in the midst of a battle, his presence is illusory.” She sighs and lowers her gaze so that it falls on Taskar’s face. “He will keep his word.”

Arista spends the remainder of the evening in quiet thought.

Taskar found himself reflecting on his life to this point. Beyond the hideous demons and killers of men that he and his friends continually faced, he thought what most unnerved him was the blind acceptance of new faces that his short time in the Nexus had ingrained in him. Between new allies coming out of every other door and disappearing into the nearest bush, it was dizzying. He thought this as he stood over the humorous, unconscious dwarf, unsure how to proceed. The little man had just helped them tremendously. And he was certainly affable enough. On the one hand, the guy could definitely handle himself. On the other, Taskar felt uncomfortable leaving him alone, especially knowing what dangers were out here. Taskar crouched down next to the dwarf and looked over at his comrades, who were just finishing patching themselves up from their last scuffle, and considered the situation.

With the last reserves of a healing surge, Sūln hazily returns to consciousness to witness rows of razor-incisors curiously scrutinizing him. His brow furrows as he attempts to reconcile this vision with his absent memory…

Nothing.

Very well, step two. Without moving overmuch, he wiggles his extremities until he can be certain they are all attached and more or less functional, and that his hand still grips his axe. Feeling slightly more at ease with the situation, he attempts to subdue the fierce looking reptilian with tact and charm.

“Um… hello? What’s going on?”

“Hello.” Taskar stands up, giving the strangely unagitated dwarf some space. “We just finished up with those shifters of yours.” Taskar wasn’t sure the dwarf had any idea what he was talking about. “The one’s you got into some sort of scuffle with?” Taskar couldn’t for the life of him read this fellow. Time for a new approach. He extended his hand. “My name is Taskar. These [he gestures over his should] are a few of my friends. We’re on our way to either kill a lich or save a blue dragon hatchling. You’re welcome to travel with us and assist in either venture. The benefits aren’t great, but the pay is good.”

“Scuffle? Yes. Yes. They…. took some things. Tried to take some things. I think. Hit me on the head a little.” Then, matter-of-factly: “That happens sometimes. Still, that’ll make two times I’ve scared them off and two times they’ve rendered me unconscious.” There’s a note of triumph and gravity accompanying this pronouncement.

“So… a blue dragon? Never seen one. Sounds good.” He promptly sits, empties a waist pouch and begins munching solidly on some manner of condensed grain. He puts out his unoccupied hand. “I’m Sūln. Where is this hatched lich?”

On our way to the mysteriously smoking bluff that hopefully houses the stolen dragon whelp, the Nexus has encountered an inordinate amount of shifters. The first couple were involved in a pursuit, one way or the other, involving a curious dwarven fellow who’s proven exceedingly helpful. The second bunch were accompanied by a gibbering acid hyena of some sort that was genuinely unsettling, and some fancy dire wolf mounts. After taking care of the hyena and the shifters, one unfortunate pup was slain. The other, however, was scolded into submission by Taskar and subsequently befriended by Caelyn, leading to the Nexus’ first mount. So this path has proved a huge boom to the party as a whole. Caelyn may want to watch out for bone spikes when riding, though.

As Caelyn wrestled with his new friend, Taskar stepped over to Sūln.

“Where did you come from, Sūln? You’ve crossed shifters like these before, have they all been following you? Are they native out here? That last band seemed rather well prepared.”

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