The Lastlands

Wandering the Vallat Plateau

Once they reached the Vallat Plateau, the party began their exploration of the area and their search for Varasan (the former commander of the Order of Brighid who was lost trying to find the reason behind the cliff mummy attacks on Koth). They had gotten information that the ancient remains of a town that still had a working well, often just called Well Town, were a couple day’s walk away. It is often where Koth patrols headed to refill their waterskins. They also had heard that some of the few living beings on the plateau were tribes of thri-kreen, who had survived there from time immemorial, but were skittish of outsiders.

After a difficult two days searching through the cold desert on top of Vallat, the characters were awoken one night by the sounds of battle nearby. They rushed to the scene to find a group of thri-kreen fighting against dessicated undead from the wastes called ‘dry stalkers’ and ‘water seekers’ who were able to drain water from living tissue. After defeating the undead, the still-living thri-kreen advised leaving the area in case more undead showed up. In gratitude for saving their lives, they took the characters to their tribe’s camp, usually hidden from outsiders.

The tribe’s chieftan, Xek’ok, was impressed by the adventurers and offered news – that his scouts had seen a troop from Koth going toward Well Town a week ago, when Varasan would have on the plateau. He also offered a warning and a bargain: the warning was that Well Town had recently been occupied by the Two Sisters, evil undead that had commandeered the town for their own use and had made it impossible for his tribe to use the well in the ruins. The bargain was that if the party could drive the Two Sisters and their court out of Well Town, then the thri-kreen would show them the way to the Ancient, who, according to them, knows everything worth knowing about the world.

The group set off to Well Town, but when they arrived, they found it to be a regular town, with people walking in the streets, buildings intact, and life in the marketplace, with nothing seemingly amiss. However, once they entered the market, the party found the semblance of life was a mirage. They were attacked by a force of undead, including the Two Sisters, a pair of Lamia and their vizier, some sort of fiery undead. Though it proved difficult, the party won out in the battle, killing one of the Sisters and driving the other out of town, back into the wastes.

Upon searching the ruins afterward, the group discovered the remains of the last party sent from Koth, including the body of Varasan.

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Rousing Koth to Action
Part I

In the last adventure, the group began their push to mobilize the city of Koth.

After defeating the invisible stalkers who had been sent to kill them, the characters got a good sleep and began to explore the city of Koth. Cuthbert was closeted with meetings with his order, especially Eutychia, who wished to examine his weapon and discuss his beliefs. Other characters found through meeting with the populace that not only are the citizens of Koth aware of the impending threat of the Sword Guardsmen, but they are also nervous of continuous undead attacks being launched from the Vallat plateau. Additionally, they heard rumors that Koth’s traditional allies, the orcish Horde, have said they will not come to Koth’s defense because they “have their own problems,” whatever those might be.

After exploring the city for a day, Sabachis, the interim head of the Order of Brighid, arranged for the party to attend a meeting of the Council at which the Council would decide whether to declare war on Firsport or wait and see and attempt diplomacy. The Council discussion was heated, but the final outcome was that the group voted to pursue diplomatic and other avenues and not take any aggressive action at the moment.

Disappointed, Sabachis, told the party after the Council meeting that what the Council didn’t say was that they were likely reluctant to take aggressive action because of the recent spate of undead attacks by cliff mummies. Particularly because the former head of the Order of Brighid, Varasan, had gone up onto the plateau more than two weeks earlier and disappeared (hence why Sabachis was acting as the head of the Order). He reasoned that if the source of the undead attacks could be discovered and possible stopped and if Varasan’s fate could be determined, then perhaps the council would be willing to authorize some aggressive action.

Sabachis warned the party of the dangers of Vallat – so much of it was unknown, as Koth mostly only swept undead from the near reaches of the plateau. He told the party about cliff mummies, as well as the powerful Water Seekers and rumors of worse entities. He did say, though, that bands of semi-nomadic thri-kreen managed to live on the plateau and they might be some help.

Spurred on by this news, some members of the party decided to ascent the Vallat plateau. The only sure way up was to ascend the Long Stair, an ancient stairway that had been cut into the cliff face long before the memory of any in Koth, supplemented by wooden bridges and steps that spanned places where the stone had crumbled away.

As the party ascended the long stair, a horde of cliff mummies skittered out of the burial chambers that honeycombed the rock face and attacked. The party was able to fight them off, but was exhausted by doing so and forced to stop and wait for reinforcements from the rest of the group.

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The Seedy Underbelly of Firsport

While several of the adventurers had been exploring Limbo and the caverns beneath Firsport, others had been rotting in jail. However, Anders and Ishiko had earlier been captured by Mannin and the shadowy power that has been controlling her. During the time they spent in the gaol, though, they had been planning an escape based on Anders’ extensive experience.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party roamed the streets of Firsport, trying to reconnect to places they knew. They found that a year had passed since they had passed through Limbo and the Faewild. They also discovered that Mannin had established a new guard organization alongside the Shield and the Sword – the Knives, the shadowy new secret police.

This organization had cleaned out most of the criminals in Firsport, cracking down hard on any perceived criminal activity. Often, perpetrators disappeared and were never seen from again. However, two entities had evaded the Knives’ grasp: one was an organized group known variously as the Dark Sash or the Dark Sign which had managed to avoid the grasp of the Knives and accomplish a significant amount of criminal activity in the city. No one seemed to know much about them, however. The second was a serial killer who had targeted many of the city’s magically powerful residents.

The party was able to make contact with an Order of the Sun chapterhouse in Firsport to rest and recoup and find out much of this information. The members of the Order in Firsport welcomed back Cuthbert, a member of the Order they had believed lost. Working with another member of the Order, Cuthbert and the party began searching for their companions and also trying to decide how to proceed in their greater quest.

Shump, the half-orc they had rescued from the oubliette, found them after managing to reconnect with old acquaintances of his. He promised the party and introduction to the leader of the Dark Sash. Two nights later, the party met Shump in a local coffeehouse. There they met “Sparrow” a human fixer who said he could take the party to meet “Magipie”, the leader of the Dark Sash. From there, “Sparrow” led the party on a walk through a series of basements, enclosed alleys, tunnels, and forgotten sewers until they were thoroughly disoriented. At the end, they emerged into a disused storage cellar where Magpie, the leader of the Dark Sash was waiting for them.

Magpie was a Kenku flanked by two viscious-looking axe-beaks. The reason they party had found it so easy to locate him became quickly evident. From the darkness behind him, another form emerged to greet the characters: a black-scaled yuan-ti who introduced himself as Yissith. Speaking to Yissith and Magpie, the party arranged for their allies to be rescued from jail in return for doing a job for Magipie and Yissith: eliminating the serial killer who had been stalking the city. Magipie then arranged for a Kenku associate of his, equipped with portable holes, to break into the dungeons and rescue Ishiko and Anders, which he did.

In return, the characters began hunting the city’s serial killer. After finding out some information about him, the party managed to set a trap at a local residence. The trap was sprung by several a few helmed horrors, which were quickly dealt with. But then the real enemy drew them out and revealed itself – a beholder had been behind the killings. Dodging its eye-rays, the party managed to come together and destroy it.

The question then became – where to do from here?

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Betrayal! (sort of)

When they arrived back in the Prime Material plane, several characters materialized in the Autokrateira Mannin’s chambers. However, Mannin wasn’t alone. Next to him was the floating body of a bizarre fish/octopus thing, which the party later determined to be an aboleth. Whatever the floating vision said, Mannin parroted. Neither was happy the characters had returned. The aboleth then cast a spell and incapacitated the characters so they could be disposed of.

Two of the party – Yisan and Cuthbert – woke when they were thrown into the oubliette beneath the dungeons of Mannin’s castle. The oubliette was infamous among the criminal classes in Firsport – no one who was thrown in ever returned. The pair quickly found one reason why when they faced a pair of otyughs in the watery, trash and offal filled dark without any of their equipment.

Having dispatched the immediate threat, the pair began to look for a way out. The oubliette seemed to have started life as an abandoned cistern and several small partially completely tunnels branched out from the center. In one of them, the pair found a nearly dead half-orc named Shump. He claimed to be part of the Harbor Wolves gang, a group of toughs and thugs (mostly half-orc ex-slaves) who ran small-time jobs around the Firsport harbor. After his gang had found a large shipment of arms, however, the whole group was rounded up by the authorities and thrown in here. He was the only one to survive. Others, though, had fled the otyughs down another tunnel, he claimed, though they had never come back.

Undeterred, Yisan and Cuthbert healed the half-orc and brought him with them as they explored the tunnel where Shumps friends had fled. There, they found a huge drain that was stopped up with an enormous clog of junk. Once they cleared that, and most of the water in the oubliette drained out, they could see that it led to a cave below them.

Coming up from the cave were several kuo-toa. Once several attacks had been rebuffed, Yisan and Cuthbert attempted to negotiate a safe passage through their caves to the outside world. The kuo-toa leader appeared to allow it, but when the group reached the central cave, the truth became clear. In the middle of the watery cavern, the aboeth’s lair was surrounded by hundreds of kuo-toa.

However, there was also possible salvation – on the caverns far wall sat an overturned Apparatus of Kwalish, undoubtedly one of the ones of legend that had helped protect Firsport from invasions hundreds of years earlier. Upon seeing this, Yisan and Cuthbert made a break for it, dragging Shump after them.

Depsite the best efforts of the kuo-toa workers and the aboleth’s control of the stagnant water, Yisan and Cuthbert managed to reach the Apparatus. Using its claws, they hewed their way past any last opposition and swam out of the cave through an underwater exit, resurfacing just outside Firport harbor.

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...nowhere

Something had gone wrong with the teleportation and the characters found themselves, instead of back in the familiar Lastlands – in a large study that had been ransacked in the recent past. Not only was the location strange, but the environment was strange. Spilled ink from an inkwell dripped up toward the ceiling instead of onto the floor. The characters felt lighter than they ever had in their lives.

Exploring their surroundings, the party found that the documents around them were written in a unknown language and the furniture, though sparse, was built oddly, like it was for a physiology that wasn’t what they were used to.

Exploring around, the party found that doors were difficult to move through – taking a measure of willpower as well as physical movement – and that there had also been a recent battle in wherever it was they had gone to.

Quickly exploring the strange place, the party met a githyanki monk who claimed that they were in Limbo and this place was called The Monastery of the Edge, a place that had been dedicated to watching over the very edge of the cosmos. Recently, the monk claimed, a huge force of abominations had overwhelmed the monks’ defenses, killed all or almost all of them, and used their portal, in the nearby Watchtower to go to part of the Prime Material (he wasn’t sure where exactly – the portal could take them anywhere).

The party took the monastery’s notes and managed to navigate through the bizarre terrain of limbo to a nearby “island” where a huge watchtower stood. Inside, they fought the abominations’ rearguard – a small force of slaadi, including a death salad left to guard the portal itself.

After, the party entered the portal and were transported back to Firsport.

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...and Into the Fire

Once the party had left the Feywilde and the last remaining hag behind, they ventured forward into the Outremer.

It didn’t take the party long to realized 2 things – the Outremer wasn’t particularly different than the mountainous countryside they had been venturing through… and also that something was wrong. On the horizon, there was black smoke visible. A lot of it.

The group trekked through the mountainous terrain and met a badly wounded yuan ti soldier who had taken refuge in a cave. The yuan ti said that they party were the “Chose Ones” – they who came through the veil at the time of the Empire’s greatest need. He told them they needed to get to the temple in the nearby city of [Name Untranslatable] before it was too late.

After a day’s travel, the party reached the city. They style was unlike anything they had seen – ancient stonework combined with wooden buildings made out of local hardwood, with sloping, curved lines and the likeness of snakes everywhere. It was also burning, with dead yuan ti and a mixture of other, stranger creatures lying everywhere and bands of gnolls gorging on the wounded and the dead.

There were only a few enemy patrols left and the party managed to run a few blocks into the city to where they found the what should have been the temple they were looking for. In the burned out husk of a building, they found a trap door and managed to open it. It led them down underground into the real temple, below.

There, yuan ti priests greeted the party and proclaimed them the Chosen of Merrshaulk. At a feast in their honor, the party was told that the world they were in was being assaulted by a major force of Abominations from Beyond. The Elder Gods and other nameless ancient Powers were trying to wrest the world away from the cosmos and bring it into their control. Cities the world over were being attacked by forces of Abominations – beholders, mind flayers, aboleths, and others – who wanted nothing more than to reestablish the ancient empires they had once held over vast stretches of the cosmos. To aid in this, the Elder Gods had somehow blocked any Deity from using his/her influence in the world… except one. Somehow the god Merrshaulk had managed to avoid this.

Thus, the priests claimed that in this very temple, Merrshaulk had left several artifacts to help the Chosen Ones. Except… the priests didn’t know exactly where they were. After eating, the party was taken to the temple’s central room, where dozens of magical items were kept – only a few of which were actual the artifacts.

Just then, there was a trembling and a bulette burrowed through the wall, followed by a force from the battle above. The characters fought the invading abominations and at the same time, were able to find and rescue the artifacts. However, they were forced to flee when mind flayers began to enter the fray. The yuan ti priests said they had a teleportation device deeper in the temple, which the characters fled to and activated. In a flash they found themselves…

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Through the Feywild

At the end of the previous session, the Wanderers had found themselves at the beginning of a new part of the Feywild. It was hilly terrain, dotted with boulders, scrub pines and fir, and fragment of what looked to be ancient ruins of some type. Making their way through this landscape, the group encountered a wandering monk who was seemingly stuck in the Feywild and unable to find an exit. Reluctantly, he joined the party as they continued their journey.

After searching, the party came upon a sinkhole in the ground that seemingly led to part of an underground ruin. At the bottom, a small golden key was visible, clutched in a humanoid hand. When Cuthbert descended, however, the hand ran off with the key, revealing itself to be an undead claw, and the intrusion alerted several gibbering mouthers to the presence of a potential meal. The Wanderers descended one by one into the underground ruin and dealt with the mouthers. In the ruins, the group found several identical golden keys as well as some strange armor that Ishiko donned.

Using the golden keys to unlock the next gate, the party found themselves in a twilight heath, faced with a small hut on chicken legs, surrounded by a fence of bone – the hags’ lair. The group rushed in and attacked the hags ferociously. Two member of the hag coven were defeated, along with their pets – two giant toads and a displacer beast. One hag surrendered, saying the Lady had commanded that the Wanderers be allowed to pass into the Outremer.

The party has yet to fully question the one remaining Hag, but they have learned that there is something horrible going on in the Outremer – something worse than the Hags, and that it involves a war.

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Hasp and What was Found There

The party finally made it to the town of Hasp, only to find it deserted. The only inhabitants seemed to be overgrown trees and bushes that were covering everything. After exploring, the party met a nervous soldier who tried to talk them into coming with him, but the conversation was interrupted when the plants attacked.

After fighting off the plants, the party got the ‘soldier’ to admit that he was a bandit and that the rest of his party was camped out at the edge of town. None of them could leave – the party tried to leave, but found themselves unable to backtrack along the road. After going to the bandit camp, the party ambushed the leader and rescued the group’s only prisoner, a wandering warrior, who joined the group.

The party realized that the only way to leave the town was to go forward. In the woods, they encountered a young woman who, when they approached, turned out to be a hideous hag. The hag told them that she and her sisters had been tasked by The Lady to protect the border with the Outremer because ‘something unpleasant’ is going on outside the Lastlands. She warned the party away from proceeding, but said that, should they choose to go forward, they would have to pass three gates to leave the Feywild and return to the real world (presumeably in the Outremer).

The group passed through the first area – a place covered in a dense hedge-maze tangle of vegetation by finding the a small gold key to unlock a door and have emerged into the 2nd area – a more open, hilly place, covered with pieces of ancient ruins.

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And so it begins...

Like much else in the Lastlands, the adventure began in Firsport. The Autokrateira, Mannin, had sent out word that she would be hiring groups of willing able-bodied adventurers to work for Firsport. The rumor was that she would be sending these groups into the Outremer in advance to a possible invasion, since she had doubled the size of the Guardsmen of the Sword in the last four years. Based on these rumors, adventurers of all types gathered in Firsport, ready to accept the challenge (and the reward).

While adventurers waited for their chance to be hired… something else happened. Suddenly, in mid-morning, as many were anticipating being hired by the Autokrateira, the entire city shifted… somewhere else. The sun disappeared, objects suddenly became decrepit and decayed, and undead and other foul mosters appeared in profusion. Half the party cleared out the undead in the Sign of the Drunken Spoon, where Yisan, Cuthbert, and Anders were staying and the other half fought swarms of stirges and flying snakes in Crescent Park, across the Firth where Selene and the Captain found themselves. They triumphed with only a few wounds , but most of the ordinary people around them perished horribly. Then the bizarre attack ended as suddenly as it had begun and the world returned to normal, albeit with the dead and dying littering the city and much major infrastructure damaged.

Later that day, the party gathered with a huge mob of adventurers at the Autokrateiria’s residence and were all placed into a room together. They were assigned to be a group. After a long wait, the party met with Autokrateira Mannin. She assured them that her best arcane advisors were looking into the strange events and that the city would recover quickly. The party was then assigned to do a job to prove their worth for further, potentially more significant assignments: they were tasked with finding out what had happened in the small village of Hasp at the edge of the Barrier Range. It is a logging town that provides Firsport with a steady stream of ironwood, usually sending a shipment of the valuable wood every month. No shipment has been sent in the last month and a half and the party was tasked with finding out why.

After three days of travel to Hasp, the party found themselves staying at the Strongfast Inn in the small settlement of Strongfast. It is an inn (and a village) that was settled by a Halfling clan (the Strongfasts, strangely enough) a few centuries ago. When the party arrived, they were having a problem – there had been an attack by a giant lizard creature a week ago. The creature had been driven off by the combined efforts of the militia (composed of all the able-bodied male halflings in the village), but not killed. Now, a week later, all the militiamen who had been wounded by the creature had fallen ill and the women were worried about them and also worried that the creature would be back to finish the job when their defenses were weakened. Having been promised free lodging and free food and drink for the duration of their stay, the characters promised to help.

The attack, when it came, was unexpected – upstairs, in the sick room, monstrous lizard-tadpoles began bursting out of the bodies of the wounded there. Outside the Inn, in the village, screams testified to the same horror repeating itself there. The party quickly dealt with the lizard-things and moved downstairs to help theterrified refugees flooding into the Inn just in time to see one of the Halflings transform into a large red-skinned lizard-creature, which they fought and bested. Having realized that the creature was a red slaad and that the slaad tadpoles it had birthed would transform into new slaadi, the party hunted down all (hopefully) of the tadpoles and destroyed them.

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