DM Note: Based upon the events of Episode 9, the world has entered a new age, as dictated by the 13 Loremasters of the planet. Something cataclysmic has occurred that has changed the world forever... Welcome to the Age of Io-Shar.
Episode 10 - Consequences - 7/29/17
With the Order spread out with coastal threats, the Owls are pushed toward an inland village called Orkastone to investigate the pieces of ruin landing near the city. Upon arriving, they are greeted by the village militia, headed by Captain Anduin. Anduin explains that they believe there is a rogue elemental nearby that has grown angry. The Owls are to follow its trail of ruins and stone, discover its intentions...and put it down if needed. They will follow, but at a distance.
The Owls do as they're told, but are apprehensive as to killing an elemental, no matter how feral. The journey is littered with fragments of stone and citadel, strewn with shreds of red cloth and blade scrapes dug into the stone. Half a day's journey takes the group to a village hamlet; dilapidated buildings, dead crops, and the broken spiral bricks of ruined windmill. And there, rising from the spiral, with trees and moss running down its shoulders and back, is a massive earth elemental. The Owls watch as the Elemental turns to face another lumbering presence cresting the far hill as it charges toward the village; a huge hill troll with a greatsword, a red tattered tabard trailing behind him.
The two behemoths engage in a tussle in the streets, and Owls help, careful not to attack the elemental. In the midst of the fighting, the Paladin (Eli) spies a little girl calling out to the Elemental, who responds to her directions...and protects her. The troll is defeated, and the Owls watch as the Elemental returns to rebuilding the windmill's tower. By this time, Captain Anduin and his hunters arrive, and the Owls explain that this creature is actually defending this village from whatever lies beyond the hill. Anduin is perplexed, explaining that all that resides over the hill is a flooded dwarves chapel.
While the Owls prepare with a short rest, Eli sees again the little girl...walking over the hill. At its nadir, she turns and catches his eyes; with a glint of gold in vision, she sprints over the hill and out of sight. Eli cannot shake the pit in his stomach, and follows; the rest of the party jumps to attention, and pursues Eli. The paladin is drawn over the hill to a sprawling, flooded ruin with a stone bridge leading to a whirlpool...a little girl standing at its threshold.
Eli approaches cautiously, and a low chuckle emanates from around the girl...as something invisible clutches her and a deep voice cuts through the night, "Eli Drakothar. I swear death upon you and your kin...unless you give up your soul now, and come with me to the hells." At the center of the ruin, emerging from a pillar of fire, stands a devil lord; he cracks a whip of flame and darkness, and a cleaver-like sword adorned with many runes. While the girl screams, a pit devil appears around her, tugging a chain and leading an infernal hydra out from behind a wall. The battle begins...and Eli dies.
And while the others fight on, Bahamut and the devils fight for control of the paladin's soul. Only through his own indomitable will is Eli able to push the devil from his mind, forever becoming a champion of Bahamut (and gaining a boon in the process). Together again, the team banishes the hydra, destroys the pit fiend, and decapitates the devil lord named Utugrava. As for the little girl, she is offered a place in the church of Bahamut in the city of Diskana, which she humbly accepts.*
Episode 11 - Into The Underdark - 8/26/17
The Owls respond to a request to investigate the strange red moss that now grows over what was once the Ashburn forest (burned down sometime in the 3rd age of Ren). Their curious findings discover a spiraling cave entrance of winding paths and flowing water. It leads them to an underground oasis, where they come across a large pool of water.
Something moves in the water, and the group spies a tiny green dragon wyrmling. Those that speak draconic reach out and talk to the creature. It seems...confused. While others ready themselves for a fight, they continue to talk...and the dragon continues to grow, rapidly maturing in the water. As it grows, the paladin sees in him not the evil he expects, but instead a choice; seizing the opportunity, the group offers the choice to be good and, through some great role-playing, demonstrates what that means. So, as the green dragon continues to grow, his aura changes to that of a good creature...and he takes flight, climbing toward one of the tunnels.
Convinced that this was a bad idea, several owls start to travel deeper inside, and come across the gigantic husk of a black dragon skull. Until it moves...blue lightning crackling along its tongue and rivulets of new flesh forming along its head. It claws through the earth, chasing the group back to the oasis. Everything it touches turns to decay, and it unleashes stormy hell upon the group. As the cave begins to crumble around them, they turn and fight the gargantuan creature, even as it destroys the floor it stands on. And as the Owls, with the help of a returned-now-ancient green dragon to dig them out, deal the killing blow to massive creature, the crumbling floor gives way and each spy a cruel temple of red and black banners and paint below...a quest for another time.
Episode 12 - Cloak and Dagger - 9/9/17 (21+)
There is a traitor among the Knight Owls, and we must find out who.
The Owls are invited back to their roost, the Rooksmith, where it orbits the skies of Io in its perpetual rotation. Within the grand council chambers, the group watches from the balcony...and decides to pick a fight with two of their own. When the smaller of the two begins to yell "traitor", he is silenced...and all of them are teleported to the brig of the Rooksmith. There, they meet the head of security: Warrick Umbra. Both groups are able to plead their case, and Warrick doles out punishment where needed, instead keeping a close eye on both groups; no one is to be trusted in this difficult time.
...Turns out the Owls' suspicions were correct, as during the night, the Tenrook (the high council of the Knight Owls) are attacked, being hurled into an astral plane projection by one, while the other attempts a resurrection. While in the Astral illusion, the Owls do battle with another of their order as he successfully resurrects (using the shared life force of the party's dwarven monk) Kaya Motis, of the Knights of the Shard. They do battle with her once again, hurting their monk in the process, and with the help of another Owl not trapped in the illusion, escape back to reality. It turns out the big brother in the duo was being charmed, so he is forgiven...while the other, and his resurrected beloved, are executed.
The Tenrook are forever grateful, granting their heroes further boons. The halfling demigod, Keddigan Slitspire, is not so impressed, and leaves on his own in the night.
Episode 13 - The Abyss Temple - 9/23/17
After discovering that the gigantic dracolich that they fought in the upper crust of the Underdark was once a dragon lord named Narizfal, The Storm Glutton, the Owls are sent back to investigate the temple they spied at the conclusion of the fight.
What they discover stretches beyond comprehension.
They face an endless factory of champion fighters, all wearing the same armor, and wielding the same weapons. Deep within the temple, they uncover and destroy a complex arcane mechanism of perpetual Simulacrum - constructing another deadly guardian the moment another dies, turning to snow and dust. While breaking the mechanism, they are set upon by two ogres armed with potent magical gear. The ogres wear strange black and red warpaint...and their eyes have been gouged out. Despite this, they seem to have been blessed with arcane sight and senses, and talk of a draconic master.
The ogre guardians prove to be quite a match for the group, but they push them back, deeper into the citadel below...only to be met a second temple rising through the stone and earth below, as an unknown ritual draws to a close. This new spire pierces the first floor of the first temple, driving some Owls to fall through the cracks. Stepping out of the new gate is a bronze-green dragon hybrid. He addresses the party as "meat," and a dynamic fight begins.
Through some distinct stunning strikes, and a clutch moment of both druids wild shaping and summoning 4 tigers, a torrent of 10 tigers rain down upon the dragon. Despite a double breath weapon, it's hard to avoid that many pounces, and the dragon is quickly subdued...but not before the Owls realize that this thing was just the diversion.
A gigantic black dracolich, frothing with acid and toxic lightning, flies past their fight, instead unleashing its breath to melt through the earth above. This new threat bores through the dirt and stone with ease, flying into the night sky...
Episode 14 - A Thousand Hands - 10/7/17 (21+)
In just one month, the skies have grown dark after a creature long-thought dead was risen from the Abyss Temple under the earth. He is called Narizguun, the Devourer of the Divine, and carries with him a strong of dragons...
Legend and lore bring the Owls into the service of Seeker Malfurik Scalebane, another Knight Owl on solo reconnaissance. Malfurik invites them to the city of Exian to meet with its matriarch, Lady Medivh. The two seem to know each other quite well, and Medivh commands a great deal of arcane and planar knowledge, though the Owls are skeptical of her complete intentions. Despite this, Malfurik seems to trust her, and that's enough for Eli and the others for now.
Medivh grants the party passage to the Elemental Plane of Fire, where Malfurik has tracked a dragon he believes to at one point to have belonged to Narizguun's first storm. They are transported some ways away from Mal's intended destination and in trying to grasp their bearings are set upon by wyvern riders...which they make short work of. However, the pale drow archer, Nikz, has been receiving strange dreams and messages - some conflicting with others. He is given distinct instructions, however, not to trust Mal or his choices, as they will undoubtedly lead us down a path of destruction...
A few hours journey and the Owls crest a hill into a dormant volcano cairn. Inside, a scarred silver dragon picks apart the flesh of a white dragon while a band of fire giants secure a diamond prism, something smoky and serpentine moving inside. As the silver dragon begins tracing runes with the blood of the white, the Owls spring to action, opening fire and blade upon the dragon and its giants.
During the fight, a few keys are revealed. First, that the serpent of air and smoke in the prism...is a dragon spirit. It means no one harm, but is easily confused. Second, as Mal breaks the prism and takes the spirit within, Nikz is given a conflicting message...and opens fire upon his ally. Suddenly, ranks break as the party tries to discern what's happening, and the dragon gains the upper hand on a few of the party, hurling them into rivers of lava. While deflecting arrows, Mal does not fight back, instead opting to rescue those in the lava (demonstrating immunity to the element). Nikz, sensing the party turning on him, drops the attack, and Malfurik checks on him (which Nikz uses to steal the Dragon Spirit from him).
A tad confused by the sudden attack, but forgiving, the party returns to Exian and plans their next move.
Episode 15 - The Godkiller - 11/11/17 (21+)
While on a patrol mission in near the central region of Erena, the Owls stumble upon the remains of an adventuring party. As they prepare the crushed bodies for burial, one begins moving. They watch in alarm as breath returns to the man, and he sets his snapped bones back in place and rapidly regenerates his burned flesh and clothing, bits of earth rising to fill in the cracks. His allies stay dead.
He reveals his name to be Ord, and that he had a mission... But he cannot remember it. His clothes, the Owls notice, are of a style they haven't seen in literally hundreds of years. The insignia upon his clasp is of an old kingdom in southeast; it was called Brimshire, but it fell at the close of the second age. Since that time, the castle grounds have been overrun by undead and a thick, dark swamp of deadly vines and toxic, acidic fog. They now call it The Dreadmire.
Ord is not surprised that he survived the attack. He and his fellows were a much bigger group before, but they've been running for some time from a lurking creature. Seems each time it finds them, it crushes him and then a few others...but he always gets back up. The paladin understands that Ord might be revenant, cursed to fulfill a purpose before he can actually die. Without knowledge of what he needs to do, a taxation of dying so many times, he has little hope of finding peace. He does, however, feel a pull toward the center of the continent.
Geography tells the Owls that he is drawn to a place called The Barrens. An earthen spike seemingly driven into the center of Erena, surrounded by a moat of lava. A single bridge spans the gap, but there is no door. It is one of the mysteries of the world. Nonetheless, the Owls take it upon themselves to get Ord there, and then to travel to The Dreadmire, and see if there is anything that will help them in their fight against the storm.
On the way, Ord plays with a ring he carries around his neck. The Owls recognize it as a Ring of Mind Shielding...and that a soul already resides in it. This alarming discovery sets the party on edge, and as they make camp, Nikz reveals another bombshell: the Dragon Spirit he took is now a literal pet for him. She is a Spectral Dragon, and each time she is summoned, her element type changes. Her name is Koriasaka (Kor, for short) and though she is amiable to the group, Eli does not trust her, warning Nikz that Malfurik will not be happy. Meanwhile, Ord and another Owl, Roze, bond. She gains some insight into his torment and he is surprised to learn that his pilgrimage has lasted nearly 300 years. It seems each time he comes back, he loses more of his memories, and all sense of time.
When the Owls reach The Barrens, they are greeted with nothing...until Ord moves to the edge, staring into the lava. Without a word, he takes the ring from his neck and hands it to Roze...then steps over the edge. Instead, his body is lifted up toward the peak of the spike, greeted by a cloud of black smoke. His body disappears, and the Owls are left alone, continuing their journey toward the Dreadmire. There is indeed a soul inside the Ring, and it begins to visit Roze in her dreams. The resident is named Kincaid Slitspire; the halfling king of Brimshire, who died fighting a dragon who could devour the holy energies of his paladin guard. He remembers building something that could stop him, but he attacked before it was ready. Roze quietly promises to bring him home.
But when the Owls arrive, they must wade through the acidic swamp, and dredges of mindless undead that flank the walls of the castle. Within, they discover the castle grounds ruled over by two minor liches and undead giant. Drawn to the center of the courtyard, Roze has visions of the pure lake that once flowed in the center of Brimshire...and is attacked as she wanders. Her allies rally to help her, and a deadly battle is waged. But at the end of all things, the Owls again rise victorious, as Roze breaks the slab of stone covering the lake, before plunging into it herself. The act purges the aura of death and decay inside the castle, and brings Kincaid back to the land of the living, and have purified the castle of Brimshire.
Episode 16 - Whispers - 11/18/17
While taking a much needed respite, the Owls are suddenly approached by Helaku Kadeem, one of the Council of Nine in Orlandin. He contracts them, along with his own contingent of adventurers, to help locate a missing comrade: Keddigan Slitspire.
Their journey takes them to the far north, near Tidespear and Io's Edge, to the mechanical city of Brakfall. With them is Striga, a tiefling paladin of fate that insists upon following Eli into battle. Right off the bat, something feels amiss about Brakfall, as the group destroys a slaver with a band of gnomes at its entrance. They explain that they were captured from Mooncrest (Striga's hometown) to be sold here. Instead, Striga sends them back to Diskana, where a guildhall waits for them under the protection of Bahamut.
Inside Brakfall, the group takes refuge with Helaku's uncle. The man is kind and hospitable, but Helaku seems distant and curt with him and the rest of the group. In the night, the Owls sense a shift in the basement of the observatory...and awaken to find it aflame, two fire elementals unleashed upon them. They fight where they can, but they realize this is a battle of constitution, as choking smoke begins to fill their lungs. Striga does his best to keep the party together, but it's the druid, Riswynn, who finds an alternative way out. A subterranean river. She lassoes her allies to her, then wildshapes into a giant alligator, and goes swimming.
The tunnel launches to party into the air beyond the reach of the mountains and rocketing toward the bridges of Tidespear. Riswynn spies a familiar group sprinting along the bridge, and deftly shapes into herself, and then a giant eagle, maneuvering her allies to drop in a cascade before Helaku and his band. The council member seems unhinged, almost giddy, and attacks the party, gloating the whole time.
This isn't a fight against a monster or two, no, these are seasoned adventurers with power sets that rival our heroes, and it is hard won. Seeing his options dwindle, Helaku uses Power Word Kill, but his spell's target is moved, as Striga falls lifeless instead. A nearly failed Revivify brings him back while the party decimates Helaku...but he is happy to die now, before his master rends the world in two.
At which point, the violet-clad Wavebrand surround the group...before being called off by a halfling with clawed greaves. Keddigan Slitspire greets the party. He needed to go missing to draw out the traitor (from Episode 12). We also learn that Keddigan is Kincaid's brother...and that they desperately need to talk.
Episode 16.5 - Interludes
Kincaid and Keddigan weren't always demigods. Late in the second age, they were taken by two gods they know to be Crowdark, the Lawmaster, and another called the Forgemaster; their task was simple, forge a weapon that could kill a god. They did it, but they don't know how to find it; that purpose was given to another called The Many.
The Many is a god of balance and neutrality, with agents (called Hands) that "sleep" until they are needed. Lore and research reveal that there are sometimes individuals who are aware of their influence and can resist or manipulate such power. These are called "Broken Hands."
Further research and insight, as well as exploring the memories of Kincaid, reveal that The Barrens house ancient artifacts from the first battle with Narizguun, including an ancient airship - called an Esper ship - powered by elementals. They are able to contact the Warden of the Barrens - a Warforged named Koda the Wise. Koda invites them with haste to undergo the Trial of the Barren to "win" the Seed of Oblivion, a gift left by the gods as a fail-safe. He judges that this is as good a time as any, and to hurry; danger knocks at his door.
Episode 17 - Sheathe - 12/9/17 (21+)
While under duress from a plethora of dragons already under Narizguun's control, the Owls are invited into the dimension of the Barrens. Their arcane shields won't hold for long, so Koda brings them immediately to the Trial Keep of seven crystalline spires. There, they play chess with a dragon, choose empathy over combat, and choose to break a pendulum rather than sacrifice one of their own. And as the walls fall and a vicious umbra of a gargantuan dragon barrels toward them like a wave of death, they decide which of them will carry the Seed of Oblivion... Nikz.
And as the Barrens fall to a wave of undead dragons, the Owls rise from the ashes in a ship powered by elemental rings and turn toward the storm that has split the sky before Tidespear.
Episode 18 - Into The Storm - 12/16/17 (Season Finale)
Armed with an ancient airship powered by sentient and very angry elementals, the Owls charge into the storm... And do epic battle with smoky umbra of Narizguun and an army of undead dragons. The fight is big, loud, and catastrophic for the ship, and even as the umbra is destroyed, the ship is torn asunder and the Owls are flung into the clouds below.
Each impacts in a different part of a forgotten, frozen island, and there waiting for them is the true form of Narizguun, the Devourer of the Divine, and the real final battle begins. Nikz passed the Seed to Eli, who summons the god-killing greatsword and cleaves into the ancient dragon lord with conviction. But when he teleports to three others tear them apart, Eli sends the Seed to another...who sprouts black and white wings upon wielding it, and plunges the blade deep into the dragon...purging him from existence.
The dense magic of the dragon storm bursts, dispelling the fogs beyond the central continent, and the world expands.