Oakenheart

Trouble on the Home Front
This was supposed to be our Vacation

As you gather together around an eating table in the Lotus Hall, you each see a variety of faces looking up from their meals. Hungover, contemplative, exhausted, content, maybe one or two somewhat cheery faces. Silence is the only shared sentiment, as even those unaware of the previous night’s events can sense the tension.

Ril’s children.

Ril, Ulric’s sister, is a refugee. Aided by the renown Professor Lukhal, the siblings had undergone a subtle yet profound change to no longer represent their snake-like heritage, along with many other yuan-ti fleeing the violent and terrifying culture of the City of Night. In a safe place they refer to as the Haven, Ril and Ulric care for a number of yuan-ti children, waiting for their turn to integrate into Oakenheart society.

Regardless of what happened between Lukhal, Luhkal’s son, and Ulric, Lukhal holds no apparent grudge against the refugees and continues to help them transition. The transistion itself, hower, cannot occur until the children have fully matured. As such, Ril and Ulric, with a couple others, have been tasked with keeping the children isolated and safe until they are old enough to undergo the transition.

Whether by your own carelessness or some other means, Ril’s Haven for the children has been discovered, to some extent. Fearing for her children’s life, and hoping that she can satisfy the hate directed towards her, Ril has turned herself into the Greencloaks, hoping that she can keep the public focused on her, rather than her children.

As Daemon, Ki’irel, and Loxely fill the party in on the missing details, you each take a look around the room at each other, expectantly waiting for someone to speak first.

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Blood for the Blood Ritual
Well... shit.

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Well, that didn’t go as planned. Well, kinda. The giant (surprisingly) came willingly with us to the ritual. But then….the snake people turned on us. They weren’t too much of a problem, but still. They had been so kind! The betrayal may not even be the worst of it……

While we don’t know much about blood magic, it was very obvious that everyone involved wanted to make sure this primordial did not destroy the mountains. The ritual supposedly sent it back to its home plane, no longer needed to make the range of peaks we stood in; but, something else was in that chamber. We didn’t stay to find out. As soon as Daemon and Tarek finished bleeding the corpses on the altar for the ritual, we ported the hell out. Now, I suppose we must head back to Oakenheart and tell them whats happened.

Were all the snake people in on it? Did they know the whole time they were going to betray us? Even Thekli?

Either way, there is much for us to consider as Tarek begins scrawling the teleportation circle back to Oakenheart: the bloodmarks, the blood dagger, the giants, this unknown “threat” beyond the mountains, and of course, the ghostly visage in the ritual chamber.

We could use a break.

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Worm Food
Gross.....

Ki’irel’s cheerful smile belies the rather dangerous encounter she survived.
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The massive purple worm has fallen, its body a mere remnant of the glorious form it was. When you found out that the storm giant and the ritual were relatively close to each other, you were initially relieved. The yuan-ti were oddly secretive about certain things, but at least they agreed to let you walk freely and provided guides. Walking an eight foot ledge, with a thousand foot precipice on one side and a sheer rock face on the other, has tossed things into sharp relief.
Somehow, being up in the highest parts of the Great Oak never feels as dangerous as running into a cave where a massively powerful worm is thrashing around. The beast has been slain, however, and your two guides prevented the giant lizard mounts from becoming harmed. You are each offered one to mount up on, as they will make the climb much easier with their climbing claws. Your guides warn you of other dangers in the mountains, such as several flocks of bird people, some which are peaceful, and others that attack on sight.

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Scales, Scales Everywhere
Why does it always have to be snakes

You each sit in the waiting room of your guest quarters. The beds and couches are carved from stone, and only lightly padded. Comfort does not appear to be a priority for these people.

The trolls proved to be only a slight deterrence, nothing more than a little morning adrenaline to start the day. The real highlight of the day was emerging from the treeline and seeing the endless fields of grass; never in your life had you ever seen so much space. In Oakenheart, space is a privilege paid for by the rich and lost on the poor. Here, however, there was enough space to build a hundred Oakenhearts and still have room for everyone to own some land.

The land aside, the city of snake people is even more intriguing. Our escorts could not remember the word in common for their race; but, after arriving and speaking with a few of the “malisons” (the half to fully-formed snake people), we learned to call them yuan-ti. Their ways are alien and strange; they seem to express fewer emotions and ignore questions they do not wish to answer. Their city is beautiful, and mostly underground from what we can see.

Most importantly, they can fix the issue we came to resolve: they can reseal the primordial. They merely ask that we bring a rogue storm giant near their shrine in the mountains to them. They proposed this and considered our requests for transport and assistance, and we wait here, in this room, while they deliberate.

Recently, however….we found a book of terrifying and exciting rituals, that could perhaps enhance our power….but at what cost?

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Giants Divided
More than a simple problem

The giants are fierce foes, and your party looks around at their fallen corpses with a small sense of pride in victory, tinged with some trepidation about the task set before you: rebind a primordial. A creature that cost the lives of powerful giants to bind has begun to loosen its restraints, and the party finds themselves with an important choice. Report back to Oakenheart and reassess the situation, or push on to the West, before it is too late?

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Not everything outside of Oakenheart wants to kill you though; the small cabal of stone giants you met appeared to be civil, at least. They hid you from the marauding fire giants, and answered some of your questions. The fire giants outside though, emerged from the cave and descended on the three members left behind, and the returning party arrived just in time to turn the tides. They attacked without warning, and seemingly did not care about Ki’irel and Adrie’s calls for conversation. Life outside Oakenheart is hostile, and although not everything you have met is attempting to kill you, the things that fight are quite challenging opponents.

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So, as you turn to regard your bloody and tired companions, what happens next?

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The First Steps
What the hell is that....

As the many-headed beast falls, you all think back to your first steps out from Oakenheart, truly grasping the dangers that exist this far from the city…

You were given a task; while ambiguous, seems mundane enough. Violent tremors have been felt to the north of Oakenheart, northwest of Gift Lake. As the first sponsored explorers, Bannerets, you all were tasked to discover the source of the tremors, and if possible, shut them down.

A half day out from the city, the party encountered humidity and a swampy river. Easily pulled across, you continued on their way, sneaking around some odd, green, savage creatures (not before leaving them a nasty trap). At nightfall, the party found themselves at the shore of another swamp, this one more of a lake. Tucked in for the night, sentries assigned, you fall asleep, leaving the task of crossing the swamp for the morning.

Two thirds through the night, the twin elves heard further rumbling after the now-constant tremors passed….putting the part face-to-face with a monstrous, many-headed, lightning-spewing monstrosity, eyeing them as its next meal.

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In the Council Chambers....
Your companions await.

Walking into the chambers of the Council of Illyenos

You step into the brightly lit room; arrayed in front of you are seven stone chairs, beautifully engraves with the images of the greater deities, excepting Gareth and the Void. A diverse group of creatures mill around, speaking softly with each other. Grand Arbiter Deirson Telirr, speaks with each before turning to you: “Welcome to the Illyenos Chamber. How was your rite of passage?”

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