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En Route to Gilford

As you regain consciousness, you're surprisingly... alive. Bruises, scratches, and headaches plague each and every one of you, but it's nowhere near as bad as you'd have expected. (Pinna casted featherfall as many times as she could, but she could only save 15 people. The mast fell on them afterward and bruised everyone up.) Luckily, nothing you can't walk off. Furled around you, the smothering weight of your ship's sails. Wherever you landed, the mast of the ship has clearly landed on top of it. With a gust of wind, the flap of sail blows off of the three of you and floats away in the wind. There's voices coming from around you, but the only people you see right now are each other.   If you would all like to introduce your characters, now is the time.   Nearby is Pinna Ankleite , who is crying by a rock. She says she tried to keep everyone safe with a spell that makes people fall slowly, but she could only save so many people. She tried to save the people who looked like they needed the most help, but really she just panicked. Mainly, she's just traumatized by this since she was apparently conscious to witness everything that happened.   Narabi Kinjo is there as well. She might come to thank the party for their valor in the skies depending on how things went.   A scream will come from under a section of the mast. A pregnant woman is struggling to hold up the mast. Underneath, an elderly man is being crushed by the mast. As always, the party can go help with an athletics check. The pregnant woman will thank them. She's just a housewife and she lost her husband in the fight with pirates. She doesn't want to do anything but follow the party's lead and get home.   Willoughby Tumbuck , a short but respectable halfling, will approach the party. He tells the party that he's been up for a bit and has talked to the town. No one brought any rations and there are sick and wounded among them that need care. if they have the power to help, he hopes they will. He's seen a map of this place before and he knows that the nearest town is 3-4 days north of here, a small monastery and fishing town called Gilford. He pulls out a spyglass from his bag. He's been looking around and saw a lodge that they could get to by the end of the day. Didn't look like there was anyone home. His advice? These people need rest sooner than later. A weary spirit and a few nightmares can be worse for one's health than a broken bone. He also saw the remains of the rest of the airship somewhere between here and Gilford. He imagines it'll be crawling with pirates by now, they might should wait it out to keep people safe. Either way, Gilford is the way to go eventually. They've got stables, Carriages, an inn. Though he wouldn't stay there too long himself, he's heard it's an odd town. Looking around, there are definitely some people who look like they wouldn't last a few days travel without a good place to rest.   Narabi Kinjo will later come to the party and tell them that she talked to Willoughby and thinks he's too concerned about comfort and not concerned enough about truth. If they wait here for too long, they might all die. She thinks they should hold firm and head to Gilford straight away with no delays. They can slow for stragglers, but stopping is a death sentence to the spirit. If they want to keep this people in good spirits and healthy, they should get them home fast. (And if some of them die, that's acceptable. This is because she secretly just desperately doesn't want to miss her diplomatic meeting, which her whole career is riding upon.) Unless they find those pirates, then there's honor to be won. If they happen across the airship, that's food and shelter right there.   From there, it's up to them to follow leads and decide where they go.   Make sure to follow the map as a reference. Remember that it should take them several days to get to Gilford even if they trudge straight through. If things get really bad for the people, even Narabi will want to stop and solve the problem before carrying on. It's a facade for her.   Every time the party takes a long rest, roll on the random encounter table! This can also happen when they head to and from a place. If things aren't taking long enough and these encounters aren't going to all happen by the end, feel free to have the pregnant woman give birth and slow them down a day, or have them have to slow the pace because the townspeople are tired and injured.     If they go to the Cabin, they meet Tren Wholecrest . On their third day of adventuring (The first of Twine, that Mal Karash) She'll come to them and tell them the truth: She's been touched by the voidblight. (It's not contagious, but it is hereditary and manifests later in life.) She just wants them to bring her son somewhere so he can have a better life! Maybe a cure! She'll turn tonight when the sun goes down, without the protection of the twin moons. She knows it, she feels bad, and she doesn't want to die.   If they go to the Pirate camp, they'll find a small lean-to with a caravan cart with two horses nearby. They have a little encounter there, but only a few weak members are there. https://www.dndbeyond.com/encounters/68ff03ec-e48a-4bd1-8e9c-0ec17dd27380 The party will find 3 healing potions, 500 gold pieces, and a tattoo pen with a remove curse spellwrought tattoo inside. They also find a small med-bay with a bit of medicine for the survivors. However, there's an injured pirate named Lon there who needs it too and will fight to keep it. If pressured, Lon will tell the party that the group doesn't have a home base. They lost their last real raiding force in the crash. Their cannon exploded. Now the new leader and the remaining pirates are at the airship, hoping to find something to get them back on their feet. The survivors want to take the caravan. There's actually a tiny arcane engine underneath the caravan that powers it without the need for horses. A genuine commodity. It runs on Sageblood , an ultra-rare power source from Mrasta's Hold. It has room for about 5-6 people, and is stocked with a few scimitars.   The remains of the airship are halfway between the crash site and Gilford. They consist of a shattered Hull and sails. Camped underneath, the rest of the pirates, hauling out gold and minor treasures. There is a large, rickety, covered cart just outside the ship with a Pax Unita symbol on it and a Pirate sleeping under it. (A Pax Unita worker in Gilford noticed the airship crash and went out to pick up any survivors. He was killed by the pirates.) A fight! (probably) with the pirates. The leader of the Pirates is there, Riechlin! He has an ability to summon a CR 1/8 Bandit from the ship as a bonus action every round in addition to his other abilities! Narrate him jumping around (his bandana lets him do this). ENCOUNTER STATS: https://www.dndbeyond.com/combat-tracker/9d8b4232-72ba-4291-9435-2363da5495cf (He has 100 gold pieces and a bandana of striding and springing)   From there, it's just one more random encounter until Gilford!   As their carts pull into the small fishing village, all the wind that once blew through the plateaus stops.   When they arrive at Gilford, go here: Gilford       New plan from pirate camp location:   The player want to skip the airship (as they now have enough supplies for everyone), deal with Tren the next day, drop the crowd off at Gilford, and head off to Shimmermene with Narabi (if she will have them.) This is a good plan, and so I should work with it! It wouldn't be a story without some twists, though. The following things happen along the way. The armored man is revealed to be A Pax Unita worker who was en route to the crashed airship from the nearby mountains. He has orders from the Pact to provide them with aid. His name is Bairre, an Alunan man. He knows nothing of the sitaution, but he promises to take care of the people once they arrive in civilization, but he will need their help protecting the people from any threats that may arrive.   Throughout the day, Tren starts to bleed a pitch black liquid from her eyes. It is filled with white and colored specks, like stardust.   They travel with him that day. On that night, the party wakes up to the Bairre putting on his armor. "Just got a bad feeling, like we're being watched." There's a brief moment of silence before his head flies back and his throat suddenly has a deadly gash in it. An invisible man appears behind Bairre. The man has a long sleek black beard, hair braided back so tightly it almost looks shaved, and a lifeless expression on his face. The man covers his own face with a glove that has a hanging black veil of cloth on it (he holds it over his face). "Always trust the Peaceman to lead you to the enemy. Pleasure to meet you, I am the one they call Roberto." If the players try to act, he raises his hand and says, "abutbut. I believe you are the one they call surrounded." Suddenly several other invisible pirates appear around the camp. Some hold bystanders, who have had their mouths covered by rags and who have a knife to their throats. Looking above, from the position of the moons, the clock is ticking down until Adra's Day. The moons are dots, just a minute away from being completely invisible. Roberto says, "I am, myself, in possession of two valuable items. I suggest you hear me out before you make a move." An invisible woman appears, holding a gagged pinna with a knife to her throat. Pinna has rage in her eyes, and is locked in an intense gaze at her captive. Her captive is gloosy-eyed, staring into the distance with no regard for her actions. "I hold a claim over your possessions, seeing as you are in my land. I am also in need of new recruits to replace those so recently departed. Violence is not neccessary, but I am under no illusion that your resistance cannot force my hand. I hold two of your friends captive. If you wish for them to live, you will abandon any wish to protect the remainder of your group. " He looks for a cue. Nothing. "Arilla, bring out the other. Reveal yourself." Nothing. "ARILLA!" An invisible woman appears in the distance, then collapses. She has a knife in her chest. "Shit, where'd the other one go." Out of the woods nearby, Tren appears, her eyes dripping with starry blood. There's a moment of reckoning, right when the moons slip away. The Skies explode with Adra's energy, filling the sky with blue light. A rift pulses through the sky, and, by the time their eyes have adjusted, a HUGE, hulking, awe-inspiring, deathly, vaguely humanoid figure stands before them. Her whole body bleeds with black stardust. Tentacles, magic, and incomprehensible pieces of this voidblight writhe and jolt out with ferocious energy, letting out a psychic roar that pierces each of your brains. Worst of all, despite this creautre's horrid appearance, it still holds the same eyes as Tren Wholecrest. The bandits turn to look, and for a moment, they're off-guard. Roll initiative! Pinna will headbutt her captive, taking a small cut, and pulse out with a shatter spell. Narabi joins the fight, helping to take on Tren. Willoughby helps usher townspeople away from the action. the bandits will fight for their own survival, but Roberto is holding them back. He is mind-controlling them. If the players can kill or even beat the shit out of Roberto, he will drop the mind-control and the bandits will join the fight against Tren. If the players can convince Roberto, he'll help them out for now, then go his own way afterwards.   After this, they have a few options. They can take the townsfolk back to Gilford, see that it's a cult town, and decide to leave, which is fine, or they can choose to stay in Gilford. They can also choose to head to Shimmermene afterwards. Pinna says that she should probably get back home, but she pulls Molly aside. She asks if there's a way she could write her. She's been inspired by her, and she wants to stay in touch. She might kiss her. She starts crying, and gets quiet. "I know you all have your own lives, and I hate to ask this of you, but I think.... I think I need help. I was hoping to find my master Tace and leave you three to your business, but I've been looking for a year now with no sign of him. I don't know how dangerous it is, and it's political, but I'm scared to go back home without help. I live just north of Shimmermene, but not quite close to Brumor, in a village called Star Ridge, near an abandoned castle. It hasn't really made its way to the rest of Nym yet, but there's something going on up there. Every week, someone disappears without a word. I thought it was just wanderlust, but then it kept happening, and then it happened to a child I know. And I noticed it happens to spellcasters more than anymore else, so I got scared and left, telling myself it was for adventure. I need help. It doesn't have to be straight away. If you need to go home and see your families or make a stop in Shimmermene or Hazelwood or even Brumor, I understand."   Hopefully, the party will say yes. God I hope they do. Night comes quickly.   NArabi will be humbled. She realizes that there are huge threats happening in every corner of the world. She isn't special, and being a dick isn't changing that. She dissapears in the night after the bandits attack. Willoughby is also nowhere to be found.   She leaves a note on her bedroll saying, "Thank you for opening my eyes. Heroism comes in more forms than one. My time with the three of you has left me humbled, aware of my true place in the scheme of this vast world. For this time, I have been undergoing the reckoning, a time when my people must act with duty and authority. In exchange, we are gifted with proportional power from our Queen. The corruption is no simple matter, so I believed I would need all the power I could get. The truth is that, regardless of what the Queen may say, her power is not absolute. I was requisitioned to tell the council the situation was under control. You have reminded me that power is only one path to victory. Even if it means betraying my Queen, my home, and my people, I must do what is right and inform the council of the full extent of the truth. I know your hearts, so I have left early. This is a task for the council, a task you are not yet ready for. I will find you if the time comes when I must call for aid. Remember my name. Remember my truth. The third guard stands with you, should you ever need it. P.S. When we keep our friends close, our enemies will know their place. Stop by and see me in Shimmermene, won't you? - Narabi Kinjo. " It is stamped with a yellow seal that, rather than being made with wax, is burning onto the page, leaving a glowing golden residue.   Afterwards, there's not much else to do for the night, so they can sleep. It's only a half-day travel to Gilford, and they do so with ease. Though it gives off a creepy vibe as a monastery town, with all peoples wearing different colored veils, it's safe. It has food and drink. Though there's no tavern, just a bar, they have their cart to stay in. (There's a bar on the outskirts of town called "Kili's sundries. It's owned by a cutesy over-the-top anime girl who offers them bubbly drinks and milk tea. She never goes into town, and maintains her own building. She doesn't really sell anything to townspeople, but she has a few friends outside of town that come see her every now and then!)   From there, it's a quick path to wherever they wanna go. If they wanna stop by Shimmermene and see Narabi, I need something to go off for that.   There are no gates of Shimmermene. The terraced plains of your travels slowly soften into rolling foothills, upon which humble farmland is tended to by friendly farmers wearing little but shorts and bands of colorful gems. They also have straw wizard hats with extra long brims. They give friendly waves to the party as they pass. Slowly, as the road leads further in, they get closer to civilization. Dirt roads turn to cobblestones. Hovering gems float in the air near the road, jingling. One blinks with blue energy like a broken streetlight. Along the way, several laughing students fly past on brooms. One drops a textbook that falls onto the front of the cart. (it's a treatise on 4000 level druidic spells, second edition, fire evocation. It adds fireball to the spell list of a druid (you're welcome Nyk. I might regret this.)). Towns of old french-european houses appear, littered with wizard towers. There's a guy laying on his roof picking petals off a blue rose.   Birds tweet, and sounds of home life can be heard all over. Voices of fathers and mothers calling to their children, children playing in the streets, stuff like that. These towns get denser and denser as they go, becoming a city. Gem-lights float all over, and people zoom through the streets on magic brooms. Knights in full armor walk the streets, talking while heating up a brioche with a small magical flame. They seem to be talking about a recent sports match, saying they're glad they have armor or they might've got hurt that game.   Eventually, they see a sign that says, "teleportation for council petitions: this way." Turning that way, the street ends. There's a group of teenagers nearby talking excitedly about some book none of you have read. Their chatter calms quickly and a young lady comes up to the cart. "Hey, the councils in a meeting right now so I'm like, technically on break. Do you wanna wait, orr...." She won't let them into the council meeting regardless, but she might let them into the waiting room. There they can wait for Narabi to come out. Narabi can tell them that the meeting went as well as a political meeting could go. Lots of promises that she is cannot know if they will keep. Regardless, there's no reason to believe they won't help. She'll ask if they came out here just to meet her. She'll be kinda flattered and blush a bit, but won't show it for more than a moment. "I appreciate the concern. I need no support to be strong, but I welcome it regardless. I want to apologize for how I acted on the road. I was taught to harden under stress." A larger man (Ankiri Kinjo), dressed in pants and a red sash across his built chest, with dreads tied into a pony, will come out and slap her on the back, "Oh, Narabi. You've grown. Don't worry, I'll make sure the others on the council see some sense. I'm just glad my little girl came to see her old man. Listen, why don't you write down the name of your friends. Based on your story, I can see us becoming valuable allies in the future. I, on the other hand, must attend to an important matter. Just keep your head up, there's only so much I can do. Laria is piiiiiiiiiissed." He then sees a woman speeding around the corner and swiftly swoops through an exit. Lariah, a frail old man with thing grey hairs, a sunken-in dark face, and a bright blue cane, hastily comes around the corner. Narabi gives the party a look and sucks her teeth. "You three might want to go now unless you like seeing people get yelled at. For my sake."   Narabi shoves them out to a balcony exit, then slams a heavy door on them. It's basically a fire-escape made from nice, thick stone. No one else is out here, but it's nice. There's multicolored creeping vines all around and colorful butterflies floating around. There's only one step that leads down, but as they get closer, more steps shoot from the wall to hold them. They get just a little bit down before they hear shuffling and a scream. They can rush down, but by the time they get there, it's already happened. An old man, dressed in fancy wizard robes and covered in stacks of paper (notes for Taconimar's Tome of Tresspasses: Hymn's Dale.). He's bleeding out, barely conscious. He has time to say one last line, "Star Ridge. Orcs." before he dies.   Just as he says that, a blurb of color shifts nearby. A robed hobgoblin tripped on the stairs, carrying a bloody knife, breaking his invisibility. He looks up, sees the party, and jumps to a nearby rooftop, medieval shale tile. He starts to get away! Skill challenge! 3 failures lose, 5 successes win. If they catch him, it's combat! Two more assassins jump from rooftops. But before they confess anything, they will say "Glory to the Break of Dawn." and slit their own throats (or bite a poison capsule) and die.   If they go back to the council, the body has disappeared like it was never there. The stair retracted, and there's blood on the wall. Far beneath, they can still see pages of a manuscript floating in the wind, sailing away. If they return to the council, they cannot get a hearing. Narabi and her father and both nowhere to be found. If they ask, they'll hear that councilman Ankiri Kinjo and his daughter checked out of the meeting soon after in a carriage returning to Bracestone. They seemed safe. The council might listen to their hearing, but they are very, very busy right now. It will be a long while before they will hear their plea. Write down their names and leave an important item, and someone will come find them when the council is available. In the meantime, it is suggested for them to head to Star Ridge and discover more of this plot.   Pinna knows nothing more than she has said. Hearing that Tace has died crushes her. She will retreat to a bed (indented barrack luxury barrack beds on the side of the cart) and close the privacy curtain. If they need help, she'll help them, but she's mostly just going to sleep.   During their travels, almost there, they hear a loud thunk. Their cart's wheels start whirring, and their stomach's sink. Looking out the window, the cart starts rising into the air. The sound of wings flapping whoosh whoosh shakes the cart before a mighty eagle screech rips through the air. Roll initiative in the air! The cart is stuck to the griffon's talon, and Pinna is having a panic attack inside. She knows featherfall to stop a TPK if needed, but this is the party's fight.   CUSTOM GRIFFON ENCOUNTER! Using 4e design. Another Griffon swoops in to aid its mate. Griffons have around 75 health, whatever is needed. When griffon is bloodied, it goes berserk, dropping the cart. Its movement speed doubles, and it gains an additional claw attack.   The cart is about 70 feet off the ground. The cart won't break entirely on a fall, but it will need a couple days of repairs before it's usable. 70 feet of the ground means 7d6 fall damage on a fall. Survivable, but not fun without a plan. If the fall really would kill them, have there be a small pond below. If they succeed on a dex save, they can fall in the pond for half damage. ONe griffon might swoop underneath them to bite. IF they make a strength save, they can catch the Griffon and pull themselves aboard.   when a Griffon gets low on health, it'll start to fly away towards its nest, preferably grabbing a player in the process. The nest is under a cliff near the town, just about an hour's climb up. Not too hard to escape, but it still shouldn't happen, as the grappled player can probably get out or be rescued. A low-health Griffon is "broken", allowing a player to gain control of it as a mount for 2 turns with a successful animal handling check. But if they're grappled, they can't do that.   After the Griffons are dealt with and the cart is destroyed, they end up just a few minutes walk from Star Ridge. From a distance, the town looks peaceful. From a distance. And that's where we'll end our session!

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