Aeris

Session 8: Sammael Windwhisper
Or, "I reach through the hole, because it's MY hole!"
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Session 7: Belisayre
Or, "FBI! Show Yourself!"

Following their successful navigation of the storm and defeat of the sky pirates, the party and crew of the Pegasus spend the next several days making preparations for their insertion into Belisayre. The plan the party settles on relies on stealth – they will drop onto Belisayre from a great height, using the dim light of dusk to navigate while cloaking them from easy detection. They will then have 24 hours to locate Sammael Windwhisper while remaining undetected by the Dragoons or whoever is in charge of Belisayre now, at which point the Pegasus will return to extract them.

Finally, the party reaches Belisayre, where the city lies surrounded by freak storms and rapidly changing weather. Taking an upward tack, they enter the zone of dangerous weather and prepare to drop through wind, pounding rain and lightning. The party sits nervously in the hold of the Pegasus waiting for the signal, until finally it comes and the floor beneath them opens up to darkness and rain. Taking a pair of magecrafted devices constructed by Zev, the party activates two Otiluke’s Resilient Spheres and leap out of the Pegasus, hurtling toward the ground at terminal velocity through the dark as the rain seems to reverse direction around them! After forty seconds of gut-wrenching G-forces and silent free fall, the party sees the ground approaching fast and activates their backpacks to Feather Fall the rest of the way.

Belisayre is silent as the grave as the party touches down, collecting themselves and preparing to move out. Myrrh, shaken by her return to the nightmarish place of her birth, nevertheless identifies exactly where the party is located as well as the nearest likely place to start searching for Sammael. The party sets off, moving swiftly through rubble-choked ruins and side streets, as Kira maintains concentration on the locator device they will use to find Sammael. Turning up nothing at their first location, the party turns toward the Drop, another warren of hiding places that could potentially conceal Sammael. Ellie stumbles into an emaciated drifter hiding under some rubble, and the party bargains away a few rations for some information on Sammael – he is known to the residents of Belisayre as the Stormcaller, a mysterious figure who has wandered the city for years after fighting off the Dragoons upon his arrival.

The party continues on their mission, and are nearly to the Drop when they cross paths with a small pack of Dragoons also stalking through the night. There is a brief, tense fight, but the Dragoons are outmatched, and eight of them fall while two more slink away into the night. The party regroups, now knowing that they have six to eight hours at best before those Dragoons return with reinforcements from their base, a hollowed-out amphitheater known as the Pit. The party redoubles their pace, reaching the Drop and searching it thoroughly. It is then that Kira picks up a presence at the edge of her locator’s detection radius, and the party realizes that Sammael is nearby! They begin to stalk toward his location, moving closer through the darkened streets …

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Session 5-6: Perils of the Sky
Or, EXPLOSIONS!

The party continues their journey on their airship, the Pegasus, maintaining course while continuing to be pursued by a rival airship. They briefly pause to provide aid to a ship in dire need – a Utopian trading vessel named Lady Luck. After some deliberation, the crew decides to provide supplies, including a new mainsail, while Corrin provides healing, before continuing on their course.

Soon after, the ship finally hits a sudden, fierce storm. Captain Alvarez uses this opportunity to change course toward the party’s real target of Belisayre, hoping to lose the enemy ship in the storm. The weather is fierce, with high winds, thunder, lightning and frigid rain all testing the crew’s will to survive. There are some close scrapes as Lammy rescues a crew member, Ellie and Zev de-ice the windvanes, and the whole party pitches in to help repair the mainsail. In the end, a single life is lost in the storm. As the thunder and rain abate, the soggy and exhausted crew begin to repair the ship and get things back in order when …

A pirate ship emerges from a fog bank, heading straight for the Pegasus! The crew barely has time to react. Ghaz gets a shot off with the fire ballista before the pirate ship swoops low overhead, with sky pirates leaping off their deck to board the Pegasus with grappling hooks and feather fall. The party is able to repel the first wave of boarders – Ghaz puts a pirate to sleep in midair, while Ammar and Lammy sever the ropes of others, sending the brigands falling to their doom. Then, battle is joined with the second wave of pirates, as the party and the crew of the Pegasus clash in midair!

The pirates are a ragtag bunch, with several colorful and dangerous characters – a pair of brothers in sleeveless leather jerkins, one who juggles throwing axes and one who wields an enormous ball and chain, as well as a warforged with a black bandana and fists of ice, and their captain is a mage with a flowing coat, triangular hat and a powerful magic staff. The party focuses their attention on these pirates while the crew duels with the remainder of the pirates back and forth across the deck.

After a short, swashbuckling fight, the pirates are beaten back. The captain, under threat from Myrrh and Ammar, leaps off the ship with the warforged and flies toward his ship. However, Ghaz returns to the fire ballista and lines up the perfect shot, getting a lucky hit and striking the pirate ship in a critical location at the base of one of its windvanes. Sudden destruction of the ship’s windvane sends the ship into a tailspin, as the ship and remaining pirate crew careen downward toward certain death far below. The pirate captain, with nowhere to turn, returns to the Pegasus and surrenders himself. The party lock the remaining pirates in the brig and resume their journey, having survived their first sky pirate attack!

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Session 4: Casting Off
Or, "Executive Privilege"

The party, fresh from their adventure in the Undercity, takes some downtime to rest. Sebastian and House Kestrel take the artifact to examine. Kira, after fainting in front of the artifact, goes catatonic and unresponsive, curling up in a corner of her room and not emerging. The party divvy up their loot and purchase some new gear, including a flight ability for Lammy.

The party then meets with Sebastian to discuss the next step for House Kestrel and the search for the Citadel. Sebastian tells the party that the artifact is made of adamantine, lending much credence to Bartan’s tale of finding it on the surface. Bartan, for his part, has few details about his time on the surface, but suspects that the artifact somehow helped him get through the surface storms and to the surface. Sebastian then outlines the next step in the Citadel expedition: finding a windcrafter capable of navigating the surface storms. Sebastian, with some input from Corrin and Ellie, describes the tale of Sammael Windwhisper, an elven windcrafter of peerless talent who withdrew from society when his wife died as a result of others’ greed for harnessing Sammael’s skills. Sebastian reported that Sammael’s last known location is Belisayre, and that finding him in this hive of desperation and villany is the expedition’s best shot at success. Myrrh takes some convincing to agree to go back to Belisayre, and the party begins to hash out a plan for finding and extracting Sammael. Finally, Sebastian and the party enter into a formal arrangement to conduct the Citadel expedition as partners, with House Kestrel taking the role of the patron and backer, and the party as the agents. Ammar negotiates a role for the Unifiers in the funding of the expedition.

With the agreement in place, the party prepares to cast off for Belisayre. The party plants misinformation around Elincia as to their intentions while Corrin gathers information about Belisayre. They meet the crew of the Pegasus, one of the fastest trading ships in the skies of Aeris, and her captain, Tess Alvarez. They meet Liam Thornbald, aka Grumps the first mate, Zev, the dashing boatswain, and Sirena, the quiet windcrafter. And finally, they cast off on a course toward Belisayre! Ellie demonstrates her proficiency at air travel, holding her own amongst the crew.

The party and crew soon notice that they are being followed, most likely by agents of a rival house. They continue out past the edge of Elincia’s weather control radius, and continue on without incident until a ship is spotted far below the Pegasus’s course, dead in the air and sending up distress flares. The session ends as Lammy and Corrin set off to investigate the floundering airship, leaping off the deck of the Pegasus to plummet towards the ship below.

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Session 3: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Open Air
or, "He Was Born for This!"

This session picked up where Session 2 left off, with the party embroiled in a tense fight against the dragonborn bounty hunter Draxos and his crew of mercenaries. Myrrh raced off through the lair’s back entrance in pursuit of the fleeing thug Loreth, while the rest of the party redoubled their efforts against Draxos. However, after Kira and Lammy fell in battle, Corrin called the surrender, and the fight entered an uneasy ceasefire with many party members unwilling to surrender their weapons. After explaining the situation, Ghaz and Corrin were able to convince Draxos that he needed to act quickly to secure the artifact, and he sent his two mages after Myrrh and Loreth, leaving only half his men to contain the rest of the party. Draxos became increasingly intolerant of the party’s unwillingness to cooperate or give up Bartan, who was still hidden above them through Kira’s clever use of the Rope Trick spell. Finally, Draxos threatened to execute Corrin unless Bartan revealed himself. Kira telepathically instructed Bartan to create a distraction, and Ghaz used the opportunity to fire a smoke spell, obscuring the entire party and throwing the situation back into chaos. Kira used the opportunity to dash off after the other runners, while Bartan fled in the opposite direction. The remainder of the party geared up for a second round against Draxos and his remaining lackeys.

Meanwhile, Myrrh’s blinding speed allowed her to quickly catch up to Loreth. She subdued and briefly questioned him about Grell’s destination and whereabouts, before leaving him behind with a coin purse as Draxos’s mages approached in hot pursuit. Myrrh raced through the dark, confusing hacks to the surface of the Undercity, where she saw Grell boarding a small wind skiff with a trio of mercenaries. Making a snap decision, Myrrh leaped on to the wind skiff as it pushed off, barely managing to hang on to a windvane as the ship maneuvered. As Myrrh regained her footing on the ship and grappled with Grell for the artifact, Draxos’s mages arrived from the tunnel and took up pursuit, one taking to the air with a fly spell and the other sniping from the catwalks of the Undercity. What followed was an epic, high speed-chase! Enemies quickly became allies of necessity as a spell took out one of the wind skiff’s crew, making Myrrh necessary to help fly the ship. Close scrapes with updrafts, flying creatures and other wind skiffs resulted in barrel rolls and death-defying stunts. Kira, emerging from the tunnel behind the other combatants, commandeered a hippogriff and dove after the others. Finally, one of the skiff’s mercenaries landed a lucky shot on the mage and broke his concentration, ending the chase as the pursuer fell into the deep blue sky. Not waiting for the airship’s crew to turn on her again, Myrrh dove for the artifact, taking a tethered Grell and his untethered backpack off the side of the ship with her as she fell into the sky – straight into Kira and her irrepressible hippogriff. Stunned by this maneuver, the remaining mercenaries simply gave up the chase, as Draxos’s other mage slipped away into the Undercity.

And finally, as this all took place, the rest of the party took the fight back to Draxos with better odds and renewed vigor. The dragonborn was forced to retreat, but he didn’t get far as several well-placed bolts from Ghaz and Lammy took him down.

Battered, bruised and exhausted, the party limped back to the House Kestrel estate with the artifact and Draxos in tow, and Bartan missing after running off into the bowels of the Undercity. The session ended as the party opened Grell’s backpack to reveal the object of their quest – and as, seeing the artifact for the first time, Kira experienced a sudden pain in her head and blacked out cold.

End of Act I.

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Session 2: Into the Undercity
or, "Warforged!"

The party, eager to secure Bartan’s artifact, agreed to accompany and safeguard him to the Undercity location where he stashed it, in the hands of a longtime friend named Grell who runs protection for traders with his gang. The party was joined by Ghaz, a gunslinger and longtime employee of House Kestrel, who specializes in securing negotiations such as this. After equipping Bartan with a perfunctory disguise, they set off to the enormous underground street market known as Rainbow Alley.

At Rainbow Alley, they found a contact of Bartan’s, an obese, sausage-fingered merchant named Silas. Silas, delighted to see Bartan and his friends, had not heard anything about Grell in the past 24 hours, but did have some information on the blue dragonborn who accosted the party the previous day – an ex-Tyrian soldier named Draxos, a ruthlessly efficient bounty hunter who had been picking up work for the Strondheim family recently.

Continuing on, the party left Rainbow Alley and Silas behind, venturing into the darkness of the lower hacks. They made their way to the hideout of the Dregs, Grell’s gang, and engaged in terse negotiations with the guard over how many of them could enter the hideout. Eventually, Ghaz’s blunt ultimatum got the whole party in, but alerted the full camp of their arrival. The party entered, finding the area bristling with thugs – a full dozen. Loreth, Grell’s second-in-command, waited for them but Grell was nowhere to be found. Loreth indicated that Grell was in the back with the artifact, and asked if the party had the money. Myrrh blurted out that they did, as Corrin tried to negotiate and Ghaz’s danger senses tingled. Loreth, tired of trying to banter with Corrin, made it clear that negotiation was never going to be an option – Grell was already on his way to sell the artifact to a different buyer. Loreth signaled the attack!

The fight broke out quickly – amid a mostly ineffectual volley of magebow bolts, Myrrh leaped up to attack while Kira levitated Ellie to do the same. Lammy charged up the middle, while Ghaz disarmed and dealt with the thug behind the party. Ammar and Corrin took the center as the thugs closed to melee range. Bartan disappeared into an extradimensional pocket created by Kira. After a short, chaotic fight, several thugs lay unconscious or fallen, while the party still stood – a mighty blow from Ammar brought a sudden silence to the battlefield. However, there was no respite to be had, as a new threat emerged from behind the party – Draxos the dragonborn mercenary and his team of soldiers and mages. The party engaged this new, more dangerous foe, finding unlikely allies in the thoroughly confused and disheartened thugs as a heavily wounded Loreth slipped off into the shadows. Corrin fell, knocked unconscious for a brief moment, managing to croak out “warforged!” as Lammy turned and leapt at Draxos, going toe to toe as Ghaz unleashed a mighty blast of lightning from Lola. The dragonborn snarled, threatening to kill the group if they did not surrender Bartan. The session ended on a cliffhanger, as the party stood bloodied against the forces of Draxos. Will they survive against this team of professional mercenaries? Will they be able to find Grell and the artifact before it’s too late?

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Session 1: Finding Bartan
or, "He Knows the Shit Out of You"

Wherein the party returns to Elincia and is immediately approached by Landon Tayweth, a representative of the merchant family House Kestrel. Landon brings the party to the House Kestrel estate, where they meet Sebastian Kestrel, half-elf and scion of the Kestrel family. Sebastian informs the party of an explorer named Bartan Wize who is in possession of an artifact that, if rumor holds, is from the surface and linked to a mythical location known as the Citadel. Bartan’s plan to sell the artifact to the highest bidder backfired, and he went into hiding, prompting a scramble from the merchant houses to find him. The party, intrigued by the possibility of finding something on the surface, took the job, and acted on divinations from House Kestrel mages placing Bartan within a certain area of the city. Sebastian emphasized to Lammy that the objective was to retrieve, not “extract” and “dispose.” Myrrh was fascinated by the magecrafting of House Kestrel, even down to the self-heating teacups.

The party set off in haste to Bartan’s rough location. Their initial attempts to search for him met with little success, netting them only the attention of a rival mercenary group also searching for Bartan. However, this setback galvanized the group into action, and Ammar handled the party’s tail while everyone else focused on finding Bartan, guided by Kira’s advice. It was Ellie who finally spotted their quarry, from her perch on a rooftop. The party moved in and Corrin, hoping to end the search without further complication, took a bold step and approached Bartan directly. To his surprise, he discovered that Bartan and he were actually related! The tension quickly defused with the discovery of this connection, and Corrin was able to convince Bartan to accompany the party back to House Kestrel.

Unfortunately, it was at just this moment that the party noticed a new threat. They found themselves accosted by a tall, blue dragonborn mercenary in black tactical armor, accompanied by a group of similarly dressed mercenaries. Corrin quickly cast invisibility on Bartan just before the mercenaries’ arrival, which proved fortuitous – the dragonborn made it clear that he would have engaged in combat, even in the middle of the street, had the halfling been visible. Instead, the dragonborn’s crew retreated, leaving the party to return to the Kestrel estate with Bartan in tow. Sebastian thanked the party for their quick and professional work, and the mission ended with a well-deserved night’s sleep.

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