The Aia Chronicles

The First Steps in Another Plane

A Ghost Town in the Shadow Lands

Start Pelor's Moon, 11
Duration 0
End Pelor's Moon, 11

Pelor's Moon, 11

The party finishes their Short Rest in the lair of the corrupted copper dragon. They harvest some meat from the dragon's body and loot his belongings to find a magical staff entwined by a snake at its end. The party cannot identify the magic item but keep it in their party inventory.  The party dine on fresh dragon tongue and walk over to the dark portal.

The portal is a horizontal structure with a skull-capped pedestal at the front. As they approach the opening, they see that it is currently just a large 30-ft bowl in the ground. Lily informs the party that that they need to jump into the bowl and someone needs to offer a drop of blood to the skull. From there, the portal should send them to Shadowfell.  Grog volunteers to offer the blood sacrifice rather than letting Lily or Nim expose themselves to the corrupting influence of the Dark Necromancer. A few drops of blood drop into the skull and within seconds the skull is overflowing with blood, and Grog jumps down into the bowl. The blood fills the bowl and the party submerges beneath the surface. Before the blood covers them, Lily shouts, "Petal says there's a tree outside the cave – a large tree – if we get separated, head to that tree and we will meet you there in an hour if we can. If we do not make it, follow the path from the cave until it hits the road. The road should quickly reach a lake where the Monastery lies."

Their visions go black and they feel themselves twisted, pulled, and squished into a thousand shapes until they are unceremoniously thrown to the ground a few seconds later.  Everyone lands on their feet and prepare for combat as they enter a new plane – the Land of the Dead, Pergatory, the In-between, Shadowfell.  The magic of this realm fills their bodies, and Xanders has a horrific realization that he is far from home and that he doesn't want to die out here. He grows convinced that this will be his grave and feels an overwhelming sense of Dread.  The party looks around the cave and see a ghostly feminine figure lying prone on the ground – Grog raises his weapon and asks who they are. "Grog, it's Lily! Did we make … " she looks down at her hands and realizes that she is now occupying Petal's body! "Oh! This is – " her face contorts and turns into a scowl, " – yeah… this is my body, Lily." She flexes her hands and levitates above the ground slightly. "It's been long time since I've been to this place. Let's go."

The party leaves the cave to find a still darkness awaiting them. The Dark Portal cave exits just above a forest – from the cave entrance, the party sees the vast expanse of Shadowfell illuminated by a white moon – much larger than in Aia and brighter but still darker than the sun. The party goes into the forest and quickly finds an overgrown path with the assistance of Petal. She leads them with a forgotten familiarity down the paths to a dirt road. From the dirt road, the party finds themselves at a large lake. Nydry scouts ahead unseen while Grog pushes the party forward as fast as possible – his home is under threat of war and it's up to them to stop it! The bridges lead to an island in the center where a town stands and a large building at the top of a hill.  "That's the monastery, but there was not a town here when I last saw this place… Be on your guard."

Nydry scouts ahead unseen by any residents, but she cannot see any once she steps foot on the island. A few buildings are in tact, but this town is crumbling for the most part. In the distance she sees what appears to be a blacksmith shop with items neatly organized, smoke coming from the smokestack, and the faint echo of hammers striking anvils… but no one is to be seen. Nydry is sufficiently freaked out and goes back to the party.

While Nydry scouts ahead, the party takes their first steps onto the island. They see the two standing structures near a shambling dock and a road leading up to the city when in the darkness they see a humanoid ghost materialize in front of them, "Who are you who come to this place? What is your business here?"  The party tells the ghost they are here to rescue two captives from the Scholomancium and destroy all those inside if they can.  The ghost breathes a sigh of relief and offers them a bag of Spectral Dust – the necromancers attacked and destroyed this town around 150 years ago, and although many of the souls and bodies of the residents have been enslaved in the Scholomancium, there are a few here in town who might be able to help the party.  "Talk to the residents and learn what you can. They will not speak to me as they do not believe they are dead. They go about their daily routines as they did in life. Do not tell them they are dead, for they will turn on you in a confused madness as their world crumbles around them. Good luck, adventurers."  He fades away to the wind.

The party go to a crumbling house nearby where Xanders, who now holds the Spectral Dust, can see a woman inside. He knocks on the door, and a ghostly voice calls out, "Who is it?" Xanders, putting on his most polite voice, says, "Excuse me, ma'am – we would like to talk to you. We have some questions about the, er, monastery." There's no response. Xanders knocks again, but no response comes from within the house.  He steps through a hole in the side of the house and sees a beautifully decorated but disorganized home with a pale fire in the crumbled fireplace. He enters another room and finds the young woman curled into a corner gasping for breath and forcing her eyes shut.

"Ma'am, are you oka – "

"Go away! I don't want to talk to YOU people!"

"What do you mean 'you peo – '"

"YOU'RE A MAN! YOU RUIN EVERYTHING! JUST GO AWAY!" 

"OK, I'm sorry. I'm going now."  Xanders hands the Spectral Essence to Mizuki who sees the same beautifully decorated home and a girl curled into the fetal position. "Hey, are you OK?" 

"Where did that terrible man go?" 

Mizuki assures the girl that he's not here and that she just wants to ask some questions. The girl introduces herself as Renfray – a local artist. Mizuki asks if she has any information that could help them in the Monastery. She frantically begins looking around tossing paintings towards Mizuki - "Sometimes I have these … visions. I don't know what they are, but I can tell I'm near the Monastery somehow. There's something dark in that building. It's not natural. I draw what I see, but I have never been able to discern any patterns. I'm sorry." Mizuki looks at the hodge podge of paintings and cannot discern any pattern either. Mizuki tells the girl that she will ask a friend to come in and look at the paintings to see if she can glean any information. Mizuki walks out the door, hands the dust to Nim, who then walks through the front door. "Are you that nice lady's friend to look at the paintings?" Nim kindly informs her that she is indeed here to look at the paintings.  Nim looks through all the paintings and is able to connect important points together. From the information, she is able to construct a map of the Scholomancium as well as the general locations of dangerous enemies! She thanks Renfray and makes her exit.

The party heads to the docks where it looks like there is some garbage that has been meticulously organized. The party gives Xanders the Spectral Essence, and he can see a grubby male ghost rummaging through the garbage piles. "Excuse me, sir?"

"Yes, yes, Magnus! I'll have your items by the day's end! Now quit harassing me!" He continues to work. 

"Uh, I'm not Magnus. My name is Xanders." The man whirls around.

"Oh! Well, welcome to Joseph Dirte's Wonderful Emporium of Junk! Let me tell you, junk really is valuable, you can learn a lot about someone from their junk. Just the other day…"  Dirte begins to ramble on about some junk he's found. It seems like Xanders might be able to glean some information about the Monastery from it, but between Joseph's frantic speech and the strange smell of the refuse, he cannot put together the information quickly enough and gets lost in Dirte's ramblings.  The party leaves the junkman who cheerfully goes back to his rummaging.

Nydry rejoins the party as they walk up the hill into the town. They walk through the gates into the main square of the town. Most of the structures in town have fallen apart, but there are a few standing structures left. Xanders sees a pair of twin girls playing by the crumbling fountain, and they run towards the party.  

"Hi! I'm Sammy!" 

"And I'm Melia!"

"Do you want to play?" they say in alarming unison. Xanders agrees.  "OK! We'll race to the other side of the blacksmith's shop! If you win, we'll give you a prize, and if we win, we'll make fun of you! Ready, set, GO!" The girls race off towards the dilapidated but standing building. Xanders keeps pace and attempts to jump over the a window sill but lands hard and has to climb over more carefully. The girls run straight through the wall and laugh at Xander's struggles. He sprints to close distance with them once more, but the other side of the shop also has a window to jump through. Xanders steels himself to jump over the sill, this time sure he will make it – but his toe hits the sill and he falls flat. The girls help him up and giggle at their fallen friend. "Haha! We beat you!"  Xanders storms off in frustration as the girls giggle and run off.

As they approach the monastery, everyone smells freshly baked bread and pastries. The party goes to the bakery where Xanders sees a portly male ghost working frantically on baked goods.  Upon opening the door, the baker whirls around and shouts, "WELCOME!" very jovially. Xanders purchases a pastry for 1gp and tries a bit. It's OK. The baker, however, is insulted and insists that Xanders tries another pastry.  Nim also wants to try some pastries, and she also purchases some ghostly honey. Perhaps it will play a part in the muffin of peace! As the party walks out the door, Xanders begins to toss the bag of Spectral Essence up and down causing him to disappear and reappear to the ghostly Baker.  "What the – what are you doing? What are you? What am I? OH GOD I'M DEEEAAD!" Behind the party, a thick, ectoplasmic shape appears. A disfigured humanoid shape that howl to the night and attacks the party. It attempts to possess Xanders who resists its will and then attempts to posses Grog who also resists its influence. The party slays the ghost, and the bakery fades from view of Xanders and the smell of freshly baked bread fades. 

The party enters the monastery. Nydry sneaks ahead and sees two skeletons standing guard at a doorway. Nydry nocks an arrow and fires from her hidden position and hits a critical weakness on one of the skeletons that then explodes causing enough damage to kill the other one. From the two piles of bones, two spirits rise. One, a blonde female elf, dashes through the wall screaming, "GANDLING! I'LL KILL YOU!" The other shouts, "Lilian! Stop!" He looks back to the party, "Hello. I assume I have one of you to thank for freeing me from my bony prison. Are you here to cleanse this evil place?" The party tells them of their mission to rescue Neerla and Kiriag from the clutches of the necromancers and destroy the Scholomancium. The ghost agrees to help navigate them through the university but will avoid combat. Necromancers have control over the undead, and he has no interest in being enslaved once more.

The party goes through the doorway the ghost unlocks and see a liquid well in the center of the room. "This was our secret attack plan. To infiltrate the Scholomancium from a portal… Many good people died for this access. Are you ready?"  The party jumps through the portal!

The land in a richly decorated hall in front of a picture of a demi-lich. Nydry sneaks ahead to scout their path with Xanders and Mizuki. As they approach the doorway, they can hear chanting within. Nydry leads and looks over the a banister. They are on a platform flanked by two stairwells in a library that is frigidly cold. A richly dressed sorceress leads a group of students in a channeling ceremony to a strange device.  The place hasn't been cleaned in years it appears, and the dust cause Xanders and Mizuki to both sneeze! The students and sorceress stop their ritual, and the halls echo with a wicked voice, "Who goes there? It matters not … Chillheart will have your soul!"

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