Episode 6 - The Artemis Key - 6/3/17
Responding to a distress Sending from the towers of Avianas, the Knight Owls teleport into the middle of war zone of fire and flames. Rising from the center of one of the lower battlements is a fire giant, cleaving into the walls with a massive ruby axe. Wasting no time, the Owls spring to action, felling the giant and coming into contact with Captain Eres Black of the Knights of Duros.
He called them there to help track down one of their knights - Sergeant Ulf Moonshard - who left the tower but a few days ago. Knights come and go, but this one in particular took a sacred object called The Artemis Key from its vault. Shortly after constructing the contract, the towers were set upon by three fire giants, convinced that they were responding to an act of war. Captain Black contracts the Owls to locate their Knight and The Artemis Key, and return them to the towers.
The Owls attempt to track the key itself, but to no avail, and come across a curious creature staying at the towers. Her name is Jenora, and she is an enormous golden Roc. Eres explains that she is an ancient being and has given the Knights of Duros guidance for the last 40 years; she comes and goes as she pleases, but when she stays it is to give them advice for the future. With her help, they have stopped numerous possible wars from ravaging the continent.
Jenora offers her help as transport, as she is gargantuan in scale and can easily fit the group on her back. She is also telepathic, and offers great insight into the thoughts and motivations of each of the party, going so far as to offer peace to one still tormented by his own patron...
The flight beyond the mountains to the northeast would normally be very treacherous, as the group witnesses several wyverns on the way and one particular red dragon, but none feel the need to approach Jenora's encompassing form. She deposits the group onto cooled rock surrounded by volcanic rivers, taking back to the skies and sharing that she feels the Artemis nearby.
The Owls investigate and stealthily make their way into the cave system of the volcano, stumbling upon a giant's den. Some stealth goes awry, and the group is set upon by three fire giants while Arik, the Dragonborn Sorcerer, searches frantically for the Artemis Key. While the Paladin squares off against the giants, allowing the others some safety, Arik climbs inside the gigantic fireplace, discovering a hidden trapdoor of soot and ash...and within it, a glowing clockwork firearm covered in patches of green and red moss. It calls to her, and she takes it.
It then becomes a game of fleeing defense, with the Paladin knocking down giants left and right and buying time for his allies to run. But back at the mouth of the cave, another fire giant awaits, blocking their escape against a river of lava. Arik, with the strange artifact in hand, is called to the lava...and walks into, orbs of protective energy flowing around her. While the others fight, Arik flows under the lava, stumbling upon a molten hatch, which opens for her. Stepping inside, she sees the corpse of wolfen man in armor, mostly burned. She discovers that the strange firearm slides into a mechanism inside this "cockpit" and upon turning it, the machine brims to life.
Exploding from the lava flow is a Huge molten mechanical contraption of plant and fire, which proceeds to pummel the living daylights out of the fire giant. With Jenora's help, the Tall Knight and the party are carried back to the towers at Avianas, where Ulf's body is also laid down. Eres, with the help of the party, attempts a ritual of resurrection immediately...and Ulf's soul returns to his body. He explains that the Key called him to the volcano, but his presence sparked a conflict with the giant clan there; he tried to run, discovered something beneath the lava and climbed inside, but his burns ultimately killed him. The episode closes with the return of The Artemis Key to its vault, and an ancient mechanical armor at its side...
DM Notes: this session was the first time the Knight Owls went through a Resurrection skill challenge, and it was entirely optional. They did great. Also, it marks the first time they're interacted with one of my Forgotten Gods - this one being a god of Free Will; powerful enough to sever the connection to a Fiend patron and connect herself as the patron for one of the Owls so that he may know peace. :)
Episode 7 - The Gala of Ardonai - 6/17/17 (21+)
The Owls are invited to the secluded island of Ardonai, along with a bevy of market barons and noble families, to take part in a celebration in the turn of the season. In order to get there, they are given seats and rooms on one of the five ships in the Ardonai fleet - the moonstone encrusted Hyacinth. The boat is beautiful, complete with a dance floor and full buffet. The gnomish rogue has fun with the food while the paladin makes a new friend on the dance floor in the form of the Lady Elata Susurri.
At the beautiful estate, social interactions run the gamut of extremely awkward to the literal tempting of fate, as two of the Owls (Darrak the Dwarven Monk and Eli the Dragonborn Paladin) entertain a curious Tiefling with a deck of cards...and proceed to draw from the deck. Darrak draws Balance, and his true neutral nature remains the same; Eli draws Sun (increasing his level on the spot) and Flames, as he is given a psychically taxing vision of the Devil that now swears destruction upon his name. Meanwhile, another meets a curious woman of porcelain clothing and skin made of smoke. She introduces herself as Lady Lessai, and she is searching for her ward. Nikz the archer vows to find her. Good times all around.
Greeted by the master of the house and his two siblings, the guests are given a speech of welcome with raised glasses. The young man gives a rallying cry to a "new age" and a shift in the ranks. It is...off putting to say the least, yet as he downs his own wine, many do the same - while two of the Owls resist the Charm, dashing forward to knock glasses from as many hands as possible, while many others willingly down the poison.
Plans shifting, the two older siblings draw weapons and do battle with the Owls; the smoke demigod Lessai lending her blade to the fight...but she is banished before it can end. The party burns many resources to fell the two siblings, and race into the basement to find an ornate ritual altar with an open tome and full-fledged vampire to deal with. The battle is taxing and dangerous, and the vampire, cruel and angry, hurls one of the Owls through a Prismatic Wall. A smoking corpse comes out the other side, marking the first true death in the campaign. Rage fills the party, and they spend everything they have to tear the vampire apart.
They leave limping, only a few others marking the survivors of the ritual; Elata and her ward, Ursa, a handful of nobles, and a very confused young woman named Adaria. The rest of the guests...are dead.
Episode 8 - Into The Mists - 7/1/17
Though the Rooksmith, the residing council of the Knight Owls Order, is disturbed by the massacre at Ardonai, they conscript the Owls to take this woman, Adaria, home. The assignment brings them to the curious town of Bodgen, nestled in the swamplands just beyond the Grimscale Mountains. There, they meet a ferryman with a large metal freighter named Apocalypse Pablo (Apocablo for short). The strange human offers to ferry them through the mists where Adaria swears there is an entrance to the Plane of Water; where Lessai resides.
The trip is treacherous and beset by angry water treants, whom the group fights off before smashing ashore. The island is strangely flat, but an Owl discovers the illusion obscuring a gigantic stone spire at its center...and a large green dragon at its peak. Though he goes along with them, Pablo seems unfazed but unable to see through the illusion, feigning ignorance as they climb.
Suddenly, a pack of harpies attack, hastening their trip, and at the summit, they do battle with a green dragon. Stunning strike and key spells deal with the beast proper, and Adaria is left to approach a small stone circle at the peak. Thinking ahead, an Owl summons water upon the circle, and magical rainstorm forms over it, creating a portal. Adaria bids them farewell...and Pablo steps through too, saying that he'll "see them again soon."
Episode 9 - Balance and Ruin - 7/15/17 (21+)
It is the third day of rain across the entire continent of Erena, and the Owls have been summoned to stilt city of Tal'Fune to investigate the weather patterns. While there, they bear witness to a cataclysmic event.
The skies above them are torn asunder, pouring colossal cubes of civilizations into the seas of the east, and they watch a black cloud, like a swarm of blades, rip through the veil. In its wake, water flows free from its elemental plane, flooding the material world. More tears in the skies above, miles away, alert the Owls that something massive is going on...
They have little time to react, though, as a tidal wave slams into the city. Tal'Fune is unique in that all of its buildings are magical, each sprouting crow's feet and sprinting out of the city. The owner of the tavern they reside in, however, appears to have been crushed by a falling whale, leaving the Owls to pilot the tavern. While they finagle with the controls, a few climb to the roof just in time to see the colossal behemoth of shark spiraling toward them. They do battle with the massive beast and head it off their trail, but not before it takes a bite or two out of their haven.
Taking on water and learning to drive this crazy thing, the group limps their way to the towers of Avianas, now entering a planar lockdown. They arrive just in time to enter the planar gate and meet up with the Knights of Duros.
During their rest, Eres Black explains that an Ancient One, called the Riftskin, is being summoned to different planes by an Order of Chaos, called the Knights of the Shard (one of their agents being an Oathbreaker Paladin from Orlandin, Kaya Motis); manipulated into tearing holes in the elemental Plane of Water and The Infinite Battlefields of Acheron, effectively flooding the material world with creatures and magic is not equipped for. His Avian Knights have already started closing the portals, but they think they've tracked down the latest summoning circle in Acheron. It will the Owls' job to shut this thing down; Pietra Habbernathy, from Orlandin, will lend her arcane sight to the endeavor.
Teleporting through the open tear, the Owls land on a small rotating cube in an infinite golden sky...and come face to face with four Shard Knights. It is a difficult battle and the Owls use the terrain expertly, hurling Shards off the edge into the endless clouds, and holding on for dear life as the Riftskin begins to tear them apart. But they knew they only needed to buy time, as Pietra's double banishment spell takes hold upon the Ancient One, sucking it into the Halls of Pandemonium. The Owls then teleport back, but not before two of the Riftskin's needles find a new home in one of them. It takes a lot to pull them free, but the Knights of Duros hold on to the volatile needles for now.
Despite closing the rifts, the world has been forever changed, and a new age begins...