We do some diplomacy with the Brevoy noble houses to see who they would back to take over from Surtova other than themselves.
Seminus of Restov is second choice after Medev for House Garess, Orlovsky is third choice because they’re too conservative for their own good.
Lebedia: Medyed, second is Seminus of Restov, third is allying to Sanctuary.
Medvyed: not Sanctuary would not be good as it would cause kingdom breakup, Issian/Rostland divide is a problem. Anyone taking over would need to reduce the divide between them. First choice is Orlovsky, Medvyed, Sanctuary (would make a common enemy!)
Orlovsky: Garess would not be good. Medyed first, Restov mayor second, Sanctuary third.
Restov are asked and they would prefer to be independent, please! Would support Issia and Rostland becoming their own states. Least bad of the bunch is Medev. Sanctuary first, Medev. The head of the sword lords has a brother of marriageable age but he’s a bit neutral. The Mayor doesn’t have any suitable relatives.
We arrange to meet Lord Medvyed and his half sister Isabella (the one that has a blood claim to the throne). We invite them to come to us. We arrange teleport. She’s very plain. He’s quite ordinary too. They’re nicely but plainly dressed. She’s very understated. He shows his very physical lifestyle (hunting, feasting etc). She’s very ‘invisible’ – she’s a watcher, sits back, has a natural ability as a go between, puts people at ease, it’s all too easy to open up to her, she’s a listener. No strong feelings/opinions about her at all. Very neutral.
Rena asks her for her thoughts on current state of things in Brevoy. We can all safely agree current situation not sustainable. Kingdom that is holding breath, nervous, people are emigrating, they’re going to the fight at the World Wound, which she feels is wrong, we should be sending the best, not cannon fodder. She feels all economies will falter if all kingdoms are on a war footing. She feels there are ways through this, and there will be consequences for all of them. Best scenario would be form an alliance with Sanctuary to benefit both peoples. The people need stability but they are proud of their identity, but if an outside entity is involved, they will suddenly be proud to be Brevoyan. So Sanctuary is being used as a scapegoat.
Rena says he believes Surtova standing down would be the best thing for Brevoy, they are the single most divisive element in Brevoy. Restov wishes to be independent, which would be doable, even though he thinks would not get them what they want, it would leave them as a very small nation caught between 2 large nations. Rena wonders of an event could be held to allow the hotheads in a Restov to compete and duel and realise that they’re not as good as they think they are. She says the young ones like to go to Mivon and have a go at a competition, but often can’t afford it. Perhaps something could be arranged for the Aldori sword lords? That would get the hotheads out of the way. But then we come to politics. Getting Natalia out of the way would be an issue. Even if we could get them to step down, she would probably disappear and turn up later with Numerian warlords. Unless we could prove she had committed any crimes. Apparently she has fallen in love with a woman, which is a crime in Brevoy. Best marriage she can think of would be a promise for the future. House Orlovsky’s ruler has a grandson, Nikolai, who is 10, Orlovsky are not considered as great leaders, too conservative, this would give a connection for the future. They have support and loyalty and blood ties to the actual dragonscale throne itself as they were closest allies to lost house Rogarvia, if we want to stay traditional, that would help. Or, marry the head of the house of to someone (he’s a widower in his 40s). Best to marry them to someone in Medvyed. Rena tells her about what the other houses said about Medvyed being a good choice (to greater or lesser degrees).
She suggests marrying Alana Lebeda into Restov (one of the sword lords), need a link to Orlovsky with Lebeda too. She suggest marrying the children off, and put Selimus Lord Mayor of Restov in as regent for 6 years. He would teach them how to run things. Alliances through marriage between Orlovsky, Medvyed, and Lebeda. Garess is always going to be a problem because their heir is a dwarf and that doesn’t sit well with the people, and they are poor (although that should change now thanks to us). There is a prophecy that says dwarves will make moves to take over land.
Rena suggests bringing the 5 houses together to talk here. We will arrange it for a month’s time and arrange by teleport, and it must be kept completely quiet or Surtova will start arresting people.
Rena talks to the young heir to house Lebeda, who wants to go adventuring and thinks his sister would love to be the heir. Rena says he can abdicate and name someone else as heir. Or continue and eventually become leader, or he can marry his sister off to an ally (e.g. a sword lord). Or abdicate in favour of Rena and put his sister in as regent, then set her to work trying to change the laws of Brevoy so that women can inherit/rule. Rosa and the boy go to talk to Alana, then bring her back. Rena talks to her about our ideas. She suggests she could marry the Lord Mayor. She has various ideas how we could make things work. She says that Natalia has made people disappear, but she has no proof.
The plan is to marry the mother off to the Lord Mayor of Restov, and then look to having them adopt an Aldori Sword Lord as heir to their family, then brother can abdicate, she can marry the sword lord (she’s already in a relationship with one that she quite likes and can control).
Next meeting is patriarch of House Garess. More teleporting and sneaky meetings. Hard to get him alone without his heir. There’s always someone keeping an eye on him. Manage it eventually. Rena asks why he made the dwarf his heir. Basically because he was there for him when their two families disappeared. The clan of the Stonefists, although the boy is not one of them, it made a difference in relations with them. They have a claim on lands in Garess. Also in Stolen Lands there’s an old dwarven stronghold in southern greenbelt – the troll fort. They’re probably not our kind of people though. Some of them are ok, but there are extremists who will murder etc to get what they want.
So, the meeting of the rebels – Restov, Lebeda, Orlovsky and Medvyed (Garess stay out of it till its all over) – agree it needs to be done slowly, planned over months, so as not to disturb the people unduly. Need a reason to arrest them – disappearances, murder of political opponents perhaps? Evidence for this. So that we can put them on trial – preferably according to their own laws, but we can get round it if its something the populace will find evil.
We need to send out spies etc to find evidence, then get a high ranking official of a neutral church e.g. Abadar to actually run the trial. So the noble houses do the arresting, but e.g. Abadar does the prosecuting. Assuming they’re found guilty, we assemble the council of noble houses plus Restov, and they need to chose the new king, so that needs to happen quickly. Rena advises they agree amongst themselves well beforehand so that when the day comes, they can act decisively. Rena says that as a noble house, Medvyed was most favoured, followed by Lord Selimus of Brevoy. Rena tells them a suggestion has been made (bit awkward), but could work to stablise things and could be a good thing, youngster of house Medvyed and Orlovsky should marry, with a nominated regent and protector in the meantime., which Rena suggests should be Lord Selimus.
1st Gosran 4015, Rena wakes from a nightmare in the early hours of the morning. Feels thirsty and sickened. He casts Prognostication. Now is the time of change, but you will become one, or one will disappear. It starts before the full moon, it will end before the next.
Eep, next full moon is Saturday. Sends messages that we should gather at Littletown. By lunchtime, one of us hears theres a problem. Messenger comes to Amina, people and fish dying at Lake Hooktongue, theres a whirlpool and black swans. Amina sends her bird to Cade, and Rosa sets up mass telepathy. Day one we lose the hex in the Lake. Rosa and Cade teleport and round everyone up. We go to Freehold. There is a commotion at the docks in Freehold. Number of fishermen brought back who have going blind and are very ill.
Rena tells us the merging of the realms has begin now and will be completed by the end of the following full moon, so we have just over a month to stop it. We windwalk out to the lake to investigate, Cade has also cast Getaway. Hex L6 the whole area feels odd, it’s changed, this is the cause of Rena’s bad dream, he somehow got a warning. 500 ft across whirlpool, 50ft at bottom, it churns non stop. Would be hard to swim in that. Eerily quiet black swans keep being drawn into pool and keep flying out and then get caught in again, rinse and repeat. Amina sees 4 shapes in the water, she thinks they are corrupted elder water elementals. Cade is sure this is a planar breach, not stable enough to allow creatures of the first world through, but we are connected. We think there will be an object that if we break it, it will break the connection. The black swans are just swans. Planar breaches would take a massive amount of ritual to do, its beyond our capability. Its very rare they happen, something will be holding it in place, once that is destroyed, there will be a ‘bloom’ that remains. If it’s not stopped, it will spread – a hex per day.
We go solid and cast fly so we can interact with the elementals, we think we should get rid of them. We fight them and beat them. As Amina strikes the last blow on the last elemental, the central vortex collapses in on itself and the bad feeling disappears, all the black swans are killed, but afterwards there is only one black swan carcass. That swan is surrounded in green light and there is a sort of high pitched keening sound like a wounded rabbit or deer, energy is weird and disturbing. We try to detect magic on it, the bloom itself has vanished, but the swan corpse remains as an anchor with a sort of connection to the first world, like a key to open a portal, it will take time to fade, at a guess, 3 months. It would need something more than just this to open a portal. SO we take the swan with us. Rena casts Gentle Repose on it and puts it in a bag. The sword Briar has changed metal type, and is now a cold iron sword.
We check the lake to see if Hooktongue had woken up. Amina goes swimming to have a look, there’s a gargantuan sized creature on the bottom, its embedded in the silt etc, but its moved a bit recently, it’s not awake but its more alert.
We pick up supplies ready to head to Thousand Voices, and then go over to Littletown to see how its doing. It seems to be recovering a bit. We go on towards Thousand Voices where we know the Shallowing is. Wood got its name before humanity came to the region. On the other side is a deadly hideous wood realm of Nerissia. We fly in. There is supposed to be a connection. Book published more than 4 decades ago in Pitax. Count’s last mistress, several glades connected by rivers and paths. She lives in the House at the Edge of Time. Glades function as foundation of her realm – without them, her rule would weaken. Anyone who enters always appears at the iron gates. Even if you portal, that’s where you land. Gate normally does not let non natives enter – presence of at least 3 different trophies may disguise this e.g. the swan. Thousand Breaths is in eternal twilight, always sunset. Time passes normally though. Each of trophies is connected to a glade, that may give us an advantage in that glade. Zudigger showed all symptoms of a living nightmare that continued after he returned. Nerissia controls the realm, it doesn’t follow normal rules, limit to how high you can fly, and how low you can swim, paths are not measured in distances, its random how long it takes. Travel through woods difficult off paths and rivers, walls of thorns that cannot be dispelled. Swords that statues at gate hold look like Briar.
We go back to Littletown and Cade calls an Archon. WE ask if a rift will open, yes, within 2 weeks, but not yet clear where. Would it be advantageous to explore the Shallowing before the next rift opens? – we can find gate but won;t be able to explore. Will the keys required to open the gate only appear at the rift? Yes. Is there anything we can do to thwart N’s plans before gaining entry to her realm? No. Would going to the first world before 1000 Breaths be advantageous? Unlikely. Will Hooktongue wake up in the next month? Not unless you poke it. Will any of council we spoke to about future of Brevoy betray plans? Maybe. Isabella Medvyed is the maybe.
We go back to the Shallowing to look for the gate. Hidden deep in woodlands in this area, its changed since we travelled through, its strangely vibrant, and there is a castle now, sharp towers and confusing architecture, colours too vibrant, wrought iron fence with single gate surrounded by statues of beautiful women. We trick the gate into opening. We are at the Byway.
We are going to try and follow the story, we think. We hear voices, source of the region’s name, disembodied voices, helplessness, crying, howls, cries, every now and then we hear someone close to us calling out, pain and agony of people we have travelled with in the past like Lehava, forest is dark, difficulty illuminating very little of the path ahead, strange lights dance in the sky. We walk for an hour towards the glade, we are interupted. On grassy trail littered with statues of curious creatures once human ior animal, parts of people woven into trees, some speaking nonsense. Forest clears, lake with a 15 foot path round, swans on lake, whirlpool, trees round edge damaged or dying scarred burned diseased, we get jumped by some very stealthy tree ents. Very advanced lightning tree ents, they cast lightning spells, and they are immune from electricity. They quire resistant to damage unless its slashing. We defeat them, and we feel a shudder, as if the glade is trying to uproot itself. It doesn;t, but it feels like there is a greater chance of it doing so.
We travel on north towards the mushroom garden. All the rivers flow away from the top of the map towards the lake we were just at. 3 hours to the next place. Narrow path only 10 foot wide. -2 on attack rolls and dex based check rolls while on this path.
Next up, the fruiting orgchard. 30ft high wall surrounds a garden of mushrooms and fungi, with fruit that twitch and pulse as if something inside is trying to escape. We try to sneak through quietly. The fruits are mandragoras. A load burst forth, they form up into an immense mandragora instead of a swarm. Plants, need light, vulnerable to dark, poisonous. And they appear to have regen.We win, There is a minor shudder but no real change.
1 hour to get to the waterfall from two stone hands. Trees hang over pool. No obvious guardian at first. Then two creatures, quite big, with wings and fur. Owlbears. This place seems calmer and less shrieky than everywhere else we have been. We manage to get one owlbear for the taxidermist. Not sure how we’re going to get it home, probably have to come back for it later. We think these were pets, not guardians, as there’s no shudder when they die.
It takes an hour to get to the frozen graveyard. 10 ft tall headstones. Old tower leans against trees at one end, marble vault at other end near a frozen lake. Temperature is extreme cold. 6 frost giants (4 arms each). We have a summoned triceratops helping us.
We win. There is a shudder again. It’s a big one, we feel like the creepiness of the place is slamming into some other existence. Sound of a thousand screams. The realm collides and we are momentarily dizzy, and we find ourselves in the forest. In the glade in the thousand breaths. We are in the thousand voices forest in a normal glade, but bodies of giants etc have been transported through with us. Rena gets the feeling that we have just done to her what she wanted to do to us. We’ve torn part of her world out into ours. Rena thinks she is now here in the forest with us.
We hear a huge dragon roar. Guess that means its here with us too. Oh boy. We think the dragon is in B7, and we landed in B9. We are coming towards a glade where there is now a badly damaged and falling apart ruins, its combined with them, a mound that was probably a high tower of white stone, whole area is littered with lifelike statues, linnorms, tree ents, giant worm things, some are covered in moss etc, some not, arranged in neat rows. Sitting on the tower ruins, huge black dragon, sleeping. One eye opens and watches us approach. Dragon is casting mage armour. She casts another spell, Cade casts a fireball. We fight and we win. Hoem for a rest before we try to take anything else on.
We work out what has come through where. Go look for owlbear corpses.