((Note: this session begins the new trend of half-level adventures instead of full level adventures. Posting DMs should indicate the number of Encounters and total XP the session was worth for the sake of future DMs))
((This adventure was worth 5 encounters at 3000xp in total. Sin (Sintera Barona)’s player was not present)).
After the two years of waiting, our heroes, Caelestis Nailo, Ten, Norlan Donaaran, Ash, and Eve all head to the Saavy Sow in Bahest to meet Hadron Rook about a new business opportunity. All they know is that it involves the Vanguard Foundation and has something to do with researching and countering the growth of Aberrant attack on Bahest last month. However, after waiting for some time, Rook doesn’t show and instead, a Half-Elf named Alia Dawnedge appears looking for the party. While Norlan helps keep Cealestis’ initial jelousy at bay, Alia explains that Rook regrets he can’t join them but that she has been sent by their boss in his stead. Something about a project that needed finishing. She has a converted Astral Skiff for them to ride to Guardian’s Peak where they can meet Rook and talk with her boss.
During their travel, our heroes are attacked by another Astral Skiff piolted by Gensai. The Gensai summon fire elementals on the ship while one preforms their own signature “Skyjammer” technique to leap onto our heroes’ ship. They find the duplication of the technique concerning. Though the Gensai and his elemental allies are defeated, the Fire Elementals manage to damage the ship and force them to make a crash landing. Our heroes regain consciousness on the mountains, battered but not too worse for wear thanks to their featherfall belts. Norlan’s new camel breaks a leg but otherwise lives thanks to Eve’s healing. Ten attempts to interrogate one of the Gensai, but he fails to provide useful answers before passing out from pain. Alia takes a look around and suggests that she can lead the party to Guardian’s Peak from here, and so they use Ash’s Shadow Steeds to ride there, though slightly hampered by the heavy snow.
The bitting cold wears on the travelers, making them decide to take a shortcut through a cave. Doing so they encounter a group of hungry Ogres hiding from the cold and looking for food, which they decide the party is. After a grueling battle the Ogres are overcome and our heroes complete their journey to Guardian’s Peak.
Hadron Rook is waiting for them there, and enjoys the jubilant welcome he receives from Cealestis. He then leads our heroes up to see the location’s director, Alexus Salvador, who is attended by her Deva, Savatri. Eve successfully identifies Alexus as an Elan. The transcript of her discussion went as such:
“I’m sure you’ve all head of the ‘November Nightmare’ incident that occurred early last month. While to most people they think this was a freak occurrence, we here at Guardian’s Peak see this as the worst of a growing trend of issues over the last hundred years. I’ve been told that you have worked with Ashia Treme, so you have probably heard our group’s theories on the Dry March already? It was her work with us that helped her learn of this concept, that the Dry March is an expression of the weakening of the Primal Spirits in that area. Our group has two running theories on why this is. The first theory, which is being researched by another group, is that the weakening is caused by the machinations of evil deities. At one point, we thought it Lolth, her servant’s deviant activities in the Cascade Mountains washing over into the March below. However, then we suspected it was Vecna or Orcus after the massive undead buildup we saw in the region headed up by Ravekai. It was Ashia’s work on this region that lead her to work with that group. However, her adventures caused a second theory to be formed.
“Near the center of the Dry march is a lay line of incredible arcane power. Ashia and her fellow adventurers encountered this entity while pursuing a cult of Orcus worshipers across the desert. This line of power contains a magnitude the likes of which we’ve never seen, but the current theory is it’s a curse of some kind. Where once we thought gods were to blame for this sullying of our world, we now wonder if there isn’t some sort of unchecked, irresponsible form for Sorcery that was used in to create the Dry March, or perhaps a curse placed upon the world itself by someone.
“Either way, we have a number of brilliant minds and experts in the field of arcana here at Guardian’s Peak researching possible causes and solutions. The problem we’ve run into now however is that due to having a different line of research, we cannot use the other group’s adventurers to gather information, resources, or deploy any solutions we might come up with. So, I put it to our staff to ask where we could find powerful adventures capable of more than just diving a dusty old ruin and slaying some Orcs and Goblins, and Hadron Rook spoke highly of the lot of you.
“So now we come to the part where I offer you each a business proposition. Join us in our struggle to heal the Dry March and you can live with us in our advanced facility, eat when you want, sleep when you want, and rest away from the weary world around you until we solve this crisis. In exchange, when we need to send a team out to somewhere dangerous, we can rely on you to scour the world itself for the answers we seek. What do you say?”
Our heroes accept, though Ten makes the caveat of the Raven Queen still comes first to him over the goals of this organization. Alexus finds this acceptable and bids Savatri to lead our heroes to their new home-away-from-homes. Norlan succeeds in going with a group to retrieve his camel.