Smoke's Flame--Adventures in Punjar

"Revenge of the Giants" pt. 1

Per the urgings of Neither’s sword and the visions of Ajrash, Smoke’s Flame journeyed into the wilderness to find “Spectacle Rock,” a local landmark and source of legend. There, they discovered a Taurian, Rrowthar, being attacked by a group of elementals. He was rescued and subsequently urged the heroes to travel with him to Argent to meet his master, Obanar.

Upon teleporting to Argent, the city was attacked by a raiding party of giants and elementals. Smoke’s Flame aided Obanar and Rrowthar in defending the city. Unfortunately, the eye-patched Eladrin mage Breven Foss escaped with a stolen piece of a “divine engine,” a device used to imprison Piranoth, a powerful primordial.

Obanar explained that for thousands of years, the nations of the world have sent heroes to defend Argent, a city on the edge of the Elemental Chaos. These heroes don Silver Capes and serve as a sort of “justice league” to the natural world. Obanar urged the heroes to take up the cause of the Silver Capes, as scores of Giants are poised to conquer the cities of man.

Obanar explains three courses of action and gives the heroes a choice as to how to proceed. They may: Search out the taurians to re-populate and defend the magical city of Argent; research “sky metal” so that Obanar may craft a powerful set of items for the heroes; or to research the nature of this “divine engine” and locate where the other pieces may be found.

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On Visions From the Gods

Visions bestowed unto you by the providence of a deity can often be confusing, disturbing, and on occasion unintelligible. It is not until you are flying through the air – launched by the manipulation of the ground by an elemental – that full understanding will sometimes strike you. Once you understand the vision, you must trust that your deity put you there for a reason. I hope by Her divine providence that this reason will be revealed fully to me now that we are in the city of Argent.

--Excerpt from the journals of Ajrash the Wise and Knowledgeable.

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The matter of Laithren Ti'Wele

On the topic of Laithren, Vellen finds himself rather perplexed by his older brother. He has known of his existence for many decades due to reading his mother’s diary after her death, but she had never mentioned him. Laithren obviously seems to express fondness for their father, but his mother only warned never to trust that vile hearted fey. Perhaps Laithren’s trust is due to his limited exposure to their mother. What was different between he and his brother? Why was it that she never had the strength to leave until she had become pregnant with him? Was there something different between he and his kin that she was able to sense and draw from? Whatever the answers, Vellen is determined to decipher the happenings with his brother. What they were doing in the lost swamps of the Zain-Kin at that Serpentine Shrine. If there is any way to sway his brother from his cause and all it’s bloodshed. It was a very humbling situation for Vellen to be in. So close to this part of his life and it’s possible answers yet unable to do anything but watch his brother escape despite his best efforts. It was a very grueling battle they had waged, and that was very much so without their enemies aid from Laithren or his sorceress partner. He fears having to cross blades with him again. Time can only tell what there is to expect in the future, but Vellen doesn’t expect this is the last time Smoke’s Flame has seen Laithren and his ilk.

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Broha's Future Life?

There was suddenly a lot for Vellen to process these past few weeks. Many dreams of his mother and their having a direct effect in his waking life. The sudden appearance of his brother Laithren whom he’d only known of through the readings of his late mother’s diary. The matters taking place in Punjar of late and Smoke’s Flames attempts at trying to sooth their city. The assassinations of many close to the group, including Magma and Broha. Although Magma had recently been raised by the group through the use of magical rituals. The idea and matters of this had been discussed at the site of Magma’s remains (as well as the site of Broha’s remains) and it was this discussion that had perked Vellen’s attention. Being no stranger to the unbridled power of the magics Correllon allows to flow into the worlds he is still somewhat in the dark to their specifics. Once hearing about the very real and available (if you’ve got the coin) means of raising one from the dead, Vellen had decided on a course of action. He slyly removed and pocketed away one of Broha’s canines for it’s possible use in the future. Having nothing against Broha personally, Vellen has taken to the idea of raising him in the event that Skinny Roger proves to be troublesome in Smoke’s Flames future. The sudden return of such a prominent figure within the Shadow Cabinet. Time will tell if this method need be put into action, but judging by his companions conversation on the topic he may need to find a means of prolonging the time he has to bring this plan to fruition, if at all. Vellen has decided to keep this plan and idea to himself, for many reasons, foremost knowing that many within his group distrust Broha due to the stereotypes and rumors when concerning oneself with Rakshasas.

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Love, Family, and Betrayal

It was an eventful time for Smoke’s Flame upon their return to the city of Punjar. After rescuing that rapscallion – Elam Ven’Shir – from the clutches of a suicide cult, they went about restoring order to the devastated city. Reviewing the entries of Ajrash’s journals written during that time there are many entries on the encounters the noble sell-swords engaged in order to regain some semblance of peace within the city. These encounters ranged from the tense to the ridiculous. He writes of their encounter with Jidair the commander of the Dragonne:

“Upon approaching the camp of the Dragonne, Marcus showed a heretofore unseen timidness in his step. A timidness that was quickly subsided in order to gain us entry into the camp with heated words and begrudging respect. Though the timidness return despite an overwhelming anger upon our encounter with a large mohawked Eladrin with a penchant for onions. With an exchange of whispered words we were allowed entry into Jidair’s pompously extravagant quarters. Despite garnering an agreement to aid the city, Marcus left that tent in pain…”

As for their encounter with a character known as the “Naked Pirate”, he has only this to write:

“One of the most ostensibly flamboyant people I know is Marcus Urrek. However there was a chap this afternoon who could easily give him a run for his money. With no accoutrement, no garments of any kind, the leader of the River Rats gave off a more grandiose first impression of any man alive. He could not however meet the flamboyant attitude of Marcus.”

Finally, on the same day Ajrash has a very brief entry about their encounter with Demons and Eladrin:

“Marcus has slewed the Eladrin who has stolen the affections of his Jidair. Vellen was briefly reunited with his brother, who sets out in opposition to ourselves. Yet, I fear most of all for my sanity. For my mind has stared into the Abyss, called out my true name, and caused some powerful denizen to tremble. Yet, I feel no pride for my presence, no fear for my safety, and detriment for my experience… only sadness for my comrades.”

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The Fallen Faithful

Excerpt from Treatise on Faith

There are many things that can make one question the existence of the gods, if they are not so blessed as to be touched by their power. Any Punjarian who survived the cataclysm of tidal waves that struck the city during our time in the Court of the Prince of Hearts can tell you such things. [Footnote] Yet it is a more tragic affair, I believe, when a faithful person falls from grace not according to his own doubts and fears but rather from the vile actions of others. My companion, Cain the Cunning, has witnessed first-hand how such vile actions can tear a faithful man down.

Upon our return to Punjar Cain was informed of the existence of a suicide cult. A cult led by his father, the former high theist of the Raven Queen Temple. Those asking themselves how a follower of the Raven Queen could lead such a heinous organization need to know that Luthien’s mind had most likely warped from the ordeal of becoming a Vampire. It was at this point that i had made it a goal to aid him in finding his everlasting rest with his Queen.

[Footnote: It is my fear that the actions of Smoke’s Flame may have caused the cataclysm of tidal forces that devastated Punjar. As many scholars know, our prima-material plane is intrinsically linked with that of the Feywild. Our actions in our attempt to defeat an ancient evil locked within Neither’s sword caused the mystical floating island of Mag Doluer to begin falling from the sky. In the process much debris was jettisoned into the boiling sea below. This in fact may have caused the tidal forces to wreak havoc upon Punjar. If so, I feel we can never make it up to the citizens of the devastated city…]

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Feywild Mushroom Wine will take your mind to different planes, or Vellen's Dreaming Muse

During the week of party and festivities that Vellen spent in the presence of the epitome of his kin, especially Corsair the Prince of Hearts, he began to feel things within himself changing. Emotions running more strongly, the thrill of life that much more lustfully tugging at his being. He felt a freedom never before experienced. More than a few of those evenings were spent dreaming of his mother. The setting of the dream wasn’t always the same but the words she said were, and her words struck true. This is what she said, “Vellen, my son, I’ve always been ruled by my heart. It should come as no surprise, then, that in this area the veil between us… our worlds… is at it’s thinnest. All the choices I’ve made in my life were fueled by love. I spent so many years with your father, living a battered life as nearly his slave, because of my love of the man I had met. Not the vile shadow of himself that he’d become. It wasn’t until I had became pregnant with you that I had the courage to flee for I now had a stronger love, my love for you. For my child. I stole away with the aid of an ancient magic that allowed me to use our blessing from Corellon. It is that innate freedom that burns within you. It was my love that allowed me to free us, but it was because of you. You are free from the reigns of your father and it is prudent that you continue to cultivate that. Embrace what our kind has been blessed with, bend it to your will and no shackles shall be able to hold you. Remember, son, I will always love you. You gave me the strength I needed to escape your sinister father. Use that strength within you to ensure he is never set free!” It wasn’t until the battle outside the lighthouse that Vellen was made fully aware of her mothers words. The ability to teleport, and ability that all Eladrin share, was now much more readily available to Vellen than in the past. He felt himself able to push, what at one time had been very limited, to the next level. To embrace the boone Corellon blessed each Eladrin with. He truly felt free now…

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The God Forge

When we rejoined Smoke’s Flame in the ruined village populated with bronzed statues (Perhaps a rare type of petrification? One can only speculate) they had just defeated a Copper Dragon and sent it, bloodied, on it’s way after gleaning a bit of knowledge from it. After licking their wounds a bit with the scrap they had with the Copper Dragon they began to continue snooping around these ruined buildings, a small fortress and a tower in particular. Heading towards the fortress first they noticed the portcullis was down and within seemed an unnatural darkness. Marcus Urrek made short work of the doorway allowing for Vellen Tîwele to quickly dart under and attempt to make his way towards what appeared to be the level to keep the gate raised, a careless move. As Vellen hastily made his way within he failed to notice a large pit due to the unnatural darkness and plummeted thirty feet below. Neither than made a more cautious venture within and worked the lever. After which, Cain the Cunning and Neither commanded her Rope of Climbing down into the pit for Vellen to scale. It was at this point that Vellen had began to hear some rumbling down in the pit he was in and a bit of a fluttering was heard by the rest of the group above. Neither decided to piece the darkness (no not with Magic Missle) with her recently found Shard. Once exposed to the sudden bright light the three Darkmantles that had been slumbering above awoke with a screeching and screaming sound. Blades were drawn, blood was spilled, and an Umber Hulk joined the battle. Thankfully all fared well for Smoke’s Flame and they stood among the motionless bodies of the four beasts that go bump in the night. Cleaning their blades and continuing forth, they found a staircase leading upwards and downwards. They went above first.. knowing that there wasn’t another level but that it would most likely lead to the roof where they had spied a battle standard from the outside of the complex. Above there seemed to be four bronzed humanoids locked in an eternal battle, one of which was holding the standard noticed from from below. Ajrash the Wise and Knowledgable easily removed it and in doing so a chill suddenly surrounded him. The heat they had been feeling since entering into this village had subsided in the area near Ajrash. Perhaps if this standard were to hold up, it would come in handy nearer to the forge. They looked through the remaining area of the fortress but nothing of interest remained to fill their bags. Back outside of the fortress they decided to make for the column in the center of the village. As they continued to near it they realized the temperature was steadily rising despite the standard. Once at it’s side they took note of a large door and managed to open it. Within was some levers and a clouded crystal ball. Cain, attempting to peer within the crystal or somehow manipulate it, touched the crystal and opened his mind. He was able to catch a quick glimpse of what appeared to be a completely robed humanoid with yellow goggles that quickly reacted to his scrying and blinked back out of vision and the obscuring clouds returned. It seemed to yell something that seemed almost like a warning or order before vanishing and our heroes feared they might have alerted something somehow. Vellen then took the crystal in his hands and forced his will into it, again getting to catch a fleeting glimpse of the room in which Cain had just seen. With the knowledge he gained from seeing within he attempted to work the levers within this elevator and try to get it moving in one way or the other. Pulling two of them.. the party began to ascend the column. They had made it a ways up when the elevator suddenly screeched to a halt and smoldering gases and heat began to pour down the column into the elevator from above. The party had to act quickly to attempt to dislodge the breaks that had been put into effect from the creatures above. They barely managed to do so, but not w/o severely damaging the lift and once they had began to move once more it was at a much more accelerated speed. They burst through the top of the elevator shaft and Ajrash quickly used one of his powers to teleport the entirety of Smoke’s Flame and just the right moment to secure a safe landing and avoid the destruction of the elevator as it went crashing into the ceiling. A thick metal door was in this room, along with another crystal and the pipe that had been gushing forth the heated gases. Marcus took care of the pipe, preventing more of the gases from belching forth and choking and burning the heroes. Meanwhile Vellen made short work of the locks barring their movement out of this room. Once the door had been thrown open all hell broke loose. On the other side of the door were three robed and goggled guards waiting. They all took swings at Marcus and Vellen. Down the hall a short distance was a similar looking robed figure but with large metallic wings limply drooping from it’s back. To that figures right was two reddish crystals hoovering in the hall that turned to “face” Smoke’s Flame. Four gates, two on each side, lined the hallway that terminated at a very thick and secured door. All the creatures and heroes sprang into action and a heavy battle was waged. The winged creature devastated Vellen and Neither with a dual wing attack that seemed to have removed all the blades from it’s now useless wings. From either side of the hallway more of the robed figures were working levers and a second winged creature entered into the hall from one of the gated rooms. One of the rooms that had two robed figures working levers and the like used these to great effect, allowing them to open the door at the end of the hall (which led to the God Forge they now realized) and redirect the heat of that forge into the hallway. One of the other barred off rooms held a lone robed figure turning on another one of the heated gas pipes and directing that gas into the surrounding area of the hallway. It would have been the end of Smoke’s Flame without the Battle Standard they had found in the small fortress keeping the heat and fire to a minimum in its vicinity. As the battle wore on a large creature of sorts was seen passing by the doorway within the forge room, though it’s precise features were lost on the party due to being unable to catch a clear view of it. Once they robed figures were dealt with and the heat of the forge redirected to the location the Copper Dragon had told them about the heroes made their way toward the forge room where a large metal and bone bird awaited them. A bloody battle linked this fight with the robed figures scuffle and the heroes barely made it through the two of them. Once the creature had been defeated the heroes were able to investigate the forge a bit. Within the forge was the huge body of a dead god, all the while burning to produce a constant heat unknown to all but the elemental plane of fire. Marcus and Neither led their way towards the forge and, with the battle standard in hand were barely able to bear the heat and plunge the cursed blade of the kingspire into the flames. A sudden and immediate burst of air shot from the forge and the Blade began spewing forth thousands upon thousands of wispy faces, creatures, and beasts of all walks of life. Towards the end of it’s purging a few familiar faces began to exit, of most note was that of Dragora, a recently quelled antagonist of Smoke’s Flames past. Lastly was that of a gargantuan creature made up of the elements. It glared at the heroes and a single word was barely heard as a whisper “Pirinoff” (spelling). With that the forges fires ceased and the battle standard had been incinerated by the heat of the forge. The escaping souls were all whisked away toward one of the exhaust pipes in particular and the strain on this structure had began to cause some of the stonework to collapse and fall. The heroes were trapped within the crumbling skeleton of the once great God Forge….......

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The Feywild.. or at least a portion of it.

The portal had deposited the five adventurer’s in a vast cavern. Now a few of Smoke’s Flame had been subjected to vast caverns on previous missions (especially Marcus Urrek) but this one took the cake. It was so spacious that if it weren’t for the stalagmites and stalactites and glowing fungus they would have believed themselves to be outdoors. Once their eyes had adjusted to the dim purple light they took in more of the details around them. Every so often there would be a jet of fire shooting into the air. It was with it’s illumination that Smoke’s Flame were able to spot a trio of injured creatures heading toward them. They could make out that one of them was a gnome and the other two were drow and they seemed to be cautiously moving away from the location of that flame. Our heroes, no fools to the reputations of drow, stealthily made their way to encircle this trio and interrogate them. They did this with easy and speed. Smoke’s Flame were able to glean that they were indeed in Mag Daluer and apparently there was a grand hunt taking place, hence the reason these three were currently wounded. Before we could ask who was hunting them, we saw it. Two large drakes breathing fire came up onto a jagged hill followed by a large cyclopes in tow. He quickly spotted the drow and gnome, as well as Marcus Urrek, Cain the Cunning, and Ajrash the Wise and Knowledgable. Vellen Tîwele and Neither were still hiding in the event that the parlay with the injured trio had gone sour. Immediately battle broke out and soon the heroes realized there was four more cyclopes just over the hill obscured from sight. The battle was surprisingly short lived and at it’s end only Smoke’s Flame and the single gnome were left standing. They were able to learn from the gnome, who’s name was Gams, that his uncle was caught out here in this vast cavern somewhere being hunted just the same as he was. Gams pledged to help Smoke’s Flame, and Ajrash specifically, until his dying breath. Surprisingly it wasn’t long until they managed to find said uncle. At one far end of the cavern was a large exit out onto a natural balcony of sorts. At this location was a large hunting party of firbolgs who were in pursuit of a large group of gnomes and a few drow, one of which happened to be Gams uncle who knew the area. Once the firbolgs realized the adventurer’s were there to help protect their quarry an epic battle broke out. Neither was knocked through a large hole in the stone balcony by a hefty swing by one of firbolgs falling nearly 100 feet to the pits bottom. Shortly after the battle began a roc swooped in and began plucking anything within reach off the ground and dropping it to it’s death below. Once the firbolgs had been dispatched and the remaining gnomes and drow were led inside to safety the group had decided it best not to fight this roc on it’s terrain, the risk was too great on that ledge. After the roc had clearly lost interest and turned it’s attention to the food it had dropped below prior our heroes headed back out onto the cliff side and began to root through the firbolgs belongings. When they headed back into the cavern only Gams uncle and a lone drow were remaining, the rest of the group had scattered off into the wild in hopes of escaping any further hunting parties. These remaining two wished to venture with Smoke’s Flame, specifically Ajrash , ideally to safety with their protection. Of even more interest was the fact that Gams’s uncle happened to own a map he had drawn up from his ventures around the surrounding areas. With it’s aid they were able to determine which way they would need to travel in order to locate the God Forge, an immense forge with the body of a dead god burning within, this is where Smoke’s Flame was to quell the soul of an immortal demon from Neither’s blade. They learned they were to face a few trials prior to being able to enter into the chamber of the God Forge, one was a complex puzzle involving many choices of pulleys, chains, and levers complete with a cryptic message. The next was a ruined village… scattered within were many bronze statues depicting all sorts of beings. Inside one of the prominent buildings they found three bronze angel statues holding clay jars filled with liquid. In the next room was a statue with a necklace of a religious symbol of a forgotten god. Once removed from the statue there was a large crash and the door connecting this room slammed shut. Perched atop the building they were inhabiting was a large copper dragon intent on slaying these intruders. A grueling conflict erupted and after chasing the flying reptile all over the area Smoke’s Flame had finally managed to deal a grievous wound to the beast and force it to submit. After conversing with the defeated dragon for a moment it flew off and the heroes were left to do as they pleased in the ruins outside of the forge. This is where our heroes remained last…

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A Bat God shattered and the Golden Dreaming Door finally opened...

As the “Bat God” opened it’s eyes and looked on the heroes of Smoke’s Flame it addressed them. The exact words may have been lost in the Annals of Time but their meaning was clear. The five heroes were to each take a sliver of the Bat Gods self and become pawns of it’s will. They were to aid, even further they now realized, in the return of the dark eladrin who had been banished away from the realm they called home. As the ebony shards drifted from the Bat Gods self towards the quintuple they each lashed out and shattered their shards. At that, weapons drawn, battle unfolded. It was a long and vigorous battle consisting of vile undead assassins, a hooked horror, a helmed horror, two yaun-ti archers complete w/ dazing and poisoned arrorws, and the Bat God himself. By the point all but the Bat God and the two Yaun-ti had been defeated Vellen Tîwele, Marcus Urrek, and Cain the Cunning had fallen. Thankfully Marcus was able to come-to and Neither and Ajrash the Wise and Knowledgable were able to continue to put the hurt on. After the conflict had been resolved and the unconscious revived, our heroes of Smoke’s Flame were able to take inventory of items that had been collected in this room. The deceased Zain-Kin from the floor above had tumbled down along with the floor when that had collapsed due to rubble and cascading waters from the many floors above, their gear still intact. Within the golden chest the Bat God had initially been resting upon were many items the entity had collected. Most notable among them was a large shield sized golden door complete with a single keyhole in it’s faces center. On the underside of this was a ritual to unlock the door, provided one didn’t have the key. The ritual was to have a blood sacrifice of a possible terminal outcome. The heroes gathered the booty and sought a sanctuary within this dark cathedral. Once found, after finding a large room full of bones and Neither destroying a large crystal in the piles center they eventually found a room that seemed fairly defensible and safe. They managed to rest long enough to regather their demeanor and had decided to figure out this door. Ajrash prepared a ritual of Sending in order to inform Lady Madeline and the others of the outcome thus far and that it should be as safe as it will be for them to make their way to the surface of Punjar. Once this had been done and all prepared Vellen inserted the arcane key he initially gathered many months prior off of the Beggar-King, still charged with the eldritched magics of the Kingspire. The door opened as Vellen thought of a single location, Mag Daluer. The portal looked unto another realm and the heroes stepped through, it’s planar rift closing behind them, leaving the five Smoke’s Flame standing alone in a vast cavern and without that golden door, they were stuck. Who knows what’s in store for Smoke’s Flame from here on out, but Neither’s salvation is being sought, thankfully.

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