An excerpt from the planar vacationing journal of Simon Bloom
I woke up from what felt like the longest sleep I had had in a long while. It was both refreshing and deeply uncomfortable; refreshing in that I never get to sleep in anymore, uncomfortable in that I hadn’t been sleeping at all but instead was knocked unconscious by a violent explosion of spirit fuel from the Urn of Vision. [[Sikarenia’s]] tower, which had once stood tall as a monument to one of Athos’ excreted Urns, looked like a peeled banana. I’m glad I had never stepped foot in The Realm of the Green Mist before this, seeing new places was never quite the same unless it involved us destroying something that seemed important. The rest of the party rose and I got to work trying to open the planar door that would take us back to Elandir. It all seemed pretty familiar; anger some big bad, cause a huge explosion, wake up some unforeseeable time later groggy and no where near a comfy bed. Everyone yawned and stretched, but opening up the planar door was essentially the greatest wake up call I will ever receive. I could feel every metaphorical ounce of magical energy inside me hum with the rhythm of two separate worlds; the magic items I wore shook in arcane excitement. Unfortunately the excitement the cosmos and I shared vanished at the site on the other side of the planar door. The great forest of Elandir had been burnt down and this sadly seemed familiar too.
Less than an hour ago these woods were bountiful, lively; one big silver dragon/blown up Urn of Vision/planar vacation later and everything in Elandir is torched. The ash is cold to the touch and the trees look like they’ve been broken for a while. It’s clear that we didn’t cause this twisted fate of Elandir’s; at least not directly…by Athos I really hope we didn’t do this. We all know that Urns can slow down time for those near them, but it’s still frustrating not knowing how much time has past. What’s more frustrating is not knowing how much the world has changed since we’ve been gone. One symbol still stands strong though, Nox’s eclipse hangs above our heads.
The walk back to Silver Leaf, the village we stayed in the night before, is wrapped in silence, but everyone is thinking about what caused this. Nox is obviously involved, especially since learning of his plan to spread chaos around the realm of Athos. I think we’re all more concerned about the direct cause though. What army, monster, or even god related being was involved in this. The Oncoming Storm and Planesbeing are another option, but Big Stormy denies any involvement for whatever sway that holds over the rest of the party…apparently it holds a lot. Everyone is dismissive of the Planesbeing, I expected Anatolius to come up with the first excuse to hunt him down. From what I remember we freed the Planesbeing and he just left to do his own thing. Even Oberon should find that questionable. Of course pursuing that discussion would be the same as telling everyone to yell at me and I guess I’m just not in the mood to make everyone hate me.
Everything is in ruins on Elandir. The great forests have all been burnt down, the skyline is shrouded in thick, grotesque smoke, and the island once known for it’s connection with magic and nature is long gone. I can’t shake this familiar feeling, this deja vu. We almost walk right through Silver Leaf without even realizing it. The whole village was scorched and flattened. Oberon doesn’t say anything. These were his friends in a way; they took us in because of his presence. The soot and taste of death is in the air, it coats our tongues and no one can say anything. Without a word between us we begin the walk to the only place on Elandir that could stand this kind of disaster, the kingdom of Turodor, home to our brother Ricard Carreon. I wish Uruhua had done the same, it would have been easier. Instead she berates us for not trying to find survivors. I suppose we deserve it; if we had the time, the resources, if I was a better person I would have agreed. Unfortunately we can’t afford to take stragglers, let alone protect them from whatever caused this in the first place. More unfortunately I don’t think I would trust them and I don’t think anyone else would either. Everything sucks, we need some fun again.
Another few days of travel, at least a week of the same, ultimately depressing scenery and we finally reach Turodor. I’ve never been so happy to hear guards yelling from behind a wall; it feels a touch normal. Regardless of the destruction burnt into Elandir, Turodor stands strong and protected. Ricard Carreon’s kingdom stands as a monument to Elf culture, towers of wood and stone lay behind the city walls as if they had grown out of the ground naturally. The sight of Turodor was enough to lift our spirits, but not enough to make us feel ease. We still needed to know if our demigod brother ruled behind those walls and if he still stood against Nox. Statistically, the riskiest option was our most successful (also our most common) so it’s clear how we approached the situation.
“We are the demigod siblings of Ricard Carreon, the King of Turodor! We ask you to open the gates and let us in.” Anatolius said from outside the gates, we just kind of waited for something to happen next.
“If you are truly demigods then tell us where your fortress was built?” a familiar voice shouted down at us.
“Titan’s Hold stands strong in The Frozen Coast!” Anatolius said.
I stand by the fact that that answer was too risky, we have no idea how long we’ve been gone or how the world has changed. Gotta hand it to Anatolius though he has confidence in our new home. A few seconds went by and there was no response from above, but we could hear some murmuring. I seized the opportunity and decided to have some fun again.
“Come on Ricard, could anyone really confuse me for someone else?” I yelled up at them as I cast my signature unicorn horn prestidigitation. In my head I brought some much needed brevity to the guards atop that wall; I heard them laugh like they haven’t laughed in months, I saw Ricard crying over the sight of his long lost siblings, the party patting me on the back for a job well done.
“Only you could tell jokes at a time as serious as this, Simon. Open the gates!” Ricard called out. No laughter, no tears of joy, all in all no fun. I got the job done at least.
Maybe I need a new signature joke.
Ricard welcomed us to his kingdom and his palace. Though Turodor still stood it was hardly better than outside the walls. The place was overflowing with refugees who looked scared and hungry. Maybe I would have felt better if we had saved some survivors like Uruhua said. The evening was themed by a feast, our brother seemed happy that we were alive. We kept most of the events and details of our latest adventure a secret, but thankfully Ricard was more than willing to tell us anything we asked. Athos be Praised that we have such a brother by our side!
This is what we learned: It had been almost exactly one year since I opened the planar door to the Green Mists. Since then Nox’s eclipse had not wavered from it’s ominous presence. All of the major religions, not just The Church of Athos Dominus, had declared the eclipse as evidence of the apocalypse and have since been trying to subjugate as many people under their religion as possible. Aside from that, large armies of Shadar-Kai have been raiding, destroying, and attacking any land, kingdom, or village that stands. The world is for the most part separated from each other and what little pockets of civilization are left have no choice but to focus on protecting themselves from the continuing assaults of the Shadar-Kai and powerful religious groups. The Realm of Athos was shrouded in chaos. Nox’s plan was already coming together.
The feast ended and we were more than happy to sleep on real beds for the first time in over two weeks. This would be the comfiest, most uplifting sleep we’ve taken in a while. In the morning we would head to The Isle of Bloom to pick up our boat and then straight to Titan’s Hold. We were split into two separate rooms so we could all have some space to relax, but Anatolius wanted us to perform the spirit fuel ritual we tried on Harker’s boat once again.
“Do not do this, Herlad. These are not forces to be trifled with.” Big Stormy’s voice rang in my head. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to just say no to Anatolius, and any mention of the Storm would only spur his curiosity. I hate being between two people, tugged at each end with no say in the matter. Thankfully Anatolius would have performed the ritual without me, and one thing Big Stormy seems to hate more than disobedience is being left out. Uruhua joined us this time as we performed the ritual in the room Ricard had given to the three of us. Once again we drew the symbol of the arrows that appears to be associated with the Urns and spirit fuel, and just as before we saw the different strands of spirit fuel extend away from us. We followed the strand of deception; it slid in and out of our sight, difficult to follow but obvious in its origins of deception. It did not show us what we assumed though. Instead of truths of the world or the source of deception it showed us a painting hung up in the room we were staying in. Of course we looked, who wouldn’t. Behind the painting was a safe, to us in that moment it was deafeningly ominous. So we cracked it with Anatolius’ roguish skills, who wouldn’t. What we found was both more and less shocking than we ever imagined. Pictures of a beautiful elvish woman and a necklace sat in the safe and nothing more. None of us could recognize the woman, she was no one important. The safe was of no importance; generally a huge let down.
We were about to put everything back, close the safe and painting, clean up the ritual, and go to bed. “About to” being the key phrase, and I hope my dear brother Ricard realizes the humor in this when he finally gets around to reading my journal. We were about to do all that when Ricard walked through the door and saw the unfamiliar ritual drawn on the floor, his secret painting and locked safe open, and the clearly personal pictures and necklace in our hands. An hour later all of us, including Oberon and Valenae sat on boat sailing away from Turodor. I could hear Anatolius apologizing to Oberon as he yelled at us for taking away his first real bed in weeks. To be honest it felt just like old times; Oberon yelling at Anatolius, the smell of the sea and rocking of the boat, knowing that we had just been apart of some brilliant comedy. When our adventure is at an end, and the world is safe, I’m going to tell this story at a huge feast and I’ll finally hear some laughs. An honest smile crept onto my face, it felt like old times. This was the fun I was looking for.
I turned and took one last look at Turodor, but I caught a glimpse of the entirety of Elandir or what was left of it. That familiar feeling came back, that deja vu and I realized this is what it was like when Sysitar fell. Nox had done it again and who knows how much of the world has fallen to the same, twisted fate. That may have been the last honest smile I’ll feel for a while, but it will have to last me till we finally defeat Nox.