Sol'sora

50. To the Tower Again and Back
With the help of actual directions, courtesy of our favorite angel

We’re still in the Step Back Inn, discussing what to do next. Remi remembers that his dad is still around in Wheatfield in this timeline, and at the very least, he wants to ensure any siblings he might have are safe from Theminor. The rest of us endorse punching the guy too. Arctus is still missing, as are some of Yannic’s memories. We consider visiting the Lady of Learning again or seeking out the god of time, to learn about time travel and all of its attendant problems. Since we’re still in Floy, though, we decide to check on Morthred and Bob’s heart before heading to Wheatfield.

Remi uses Sending to ask Ondelin where he is, saying we could use his help. It takes a couple tries, but Ondelin eventually gives us directions to where the tower’s moved. We trek through the forest yet again, and when we get there, Ondelin seems relieved. After Remi asks him to, Ondelin attempts some kind of healing or restorative spell on Yannic to remove the last of the Modify Memory Keanvari cast, but it doesn’t work. Yannic thanks him for trying.

The party tells Ondelin they’re going to check on Bob’s heart inside the tower, and he asks to come along, because he’s never been inside. We all go in, except Yannic, who stays at the tower door to keep watch, just in case. Up in the top of the tower, Ondelin chooses a lever at random and pulls, opening the portal to the Feywild. Betha rushes over to close it, and Ondelin, feeling awkward, retreats back outside the tower.

Meanwhile, Kaiva and Fen are inspecting Bob’s heart, which seems to be beating slowly. Kaiva seems to want to cut the heart open post haste, so Fen quietly steals all the sharp, pointy things Kaiva’s carrying. Betha suggests that Yannic try scrying on Bob using the dragon’s heart, and he does, making faces the whole time.

When he attempts to scry, Yannic feels as though he’s pushing through jelly, but it works. He sees Bob in his golden dragon form in a strange windswept plain that looks an awful lot like Gathering might, if it didn’t have a hollow blasted into it. Bob is talking to someone – Eric Bridger. There are no overt signs of hostility or anger from Bob, but it’s difficult to tell when he’s in his dragon form.

The party convinces Kaiva not to cut into the heart immediately, and she tells the heart that she’ll be back. When the party regroups with Betha, who took over Yannic’s watch at the tower door, they revisit their prioritized to do list. Betha shares the letter Andraki gave her before the battle royale and expresses worry about her family.

We leave the tower, closing the doors behind us, and we convince Ondelin to take a “vacation” from guarding the forest, just long enough to help us deal with an evil life-stealing wizard in Wheatfield. We reach Floy again around 10pm, but decide to head to Wheatfield for some recon before finding a place to sleep.

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49. We Actually Communicate???
Sometimes Badly, But Still

Fen wakes up from her tile-induced slumber, and we fill her in on what’s happening. We run in Jade’s tracks, hoping to stop her from killing Emit, and we arrive just as a slight time shimmer is fading midair. Betha sticks her hand into it briefly, but hesitates to jump through long enough for the shimmering portal to close. Sobren says he and Jade caught up to Emit, but he stepped into the air and vanished. Jade furiously hacks at a tree, angry that Emit got away. Yannic scrys on Nemit, but doesn’t succeed. It feels like he’s trying to push through a barrier of some kind, but it isn’t quite the same as cross-planar scrying.

The sun is beginning to set, but the barrier in the sky seems to make it darker and more muted. Fen talks to and hugs the tree that was damaged by Jade’s fury, and Remi and Betha use Mending to close its wounds. Fen promises the tree that next time, she’ll stop people from hurting the trees. In that time, the sun sets, and Yannic hears crashing in the distance.

We walk towards the sounds of crashing and shouting, and we find Sobren and Jade arguing. Sobren can’t see and wants to rest, but Jade wants to keep going. Remi convinces Jade that it would be better to rest, and Fen asks Jade to stop hurting trees.

Kean, seeing that Sobren is obviously a cleric, asks him to cast Greater Restoration on Yannic. He does so, and Yannic remembers the conversation he had with Keanvari, except for the end, which cuts off abruptly. The party convinces Kean that we should set up camp before questioning Yannic about this new information, so we head back to the hill over the cave we camped at the previous night.

Sobren immediately conks out, and Jade relaxes into sleep when she sees that the rest of us are actually setting up watches. After the two Banishers fall asleep, the party check in with Yannic, who shares that Keanvari asked him what he would do if had an hour without consequences. Yannic asked if Keanvari could reach into the other timeline to find Kean, which he did. They spoke, and Yannic apologized to that Kean.

Yannic attempts to cast Remove Curse to retrieve the last of his memory, but it doesn’t work. We discuss the plan to find a beholder, and we learn more about Kean’s beholder acquaintance, Jantrophix, or Jan.

At midnight, Fen and Betha take the first watch, which passes uneventfully. Yannic stays up, a little ways away from those on watch.

Kean and Kaiva are on second watch, which Kaiva starts by asking Kean about some correspondence she read in his binder. She tells him that she and other timeline Kean are good friends, it’s just that she never had the chance to ask him about this particular bit of information. Kean says he needed help with travelling, so he did some big magic, which required lots of materials. Kaiva asks how he knew the supplier, and Kean says he knows a lot of people. He elaborates that he chose this supplier because he’d heard about how discreet he was in his business with others.

Kean asks Kaiva what Yannic needed to apologize to the other Kean about. Kaiva demurs, saying she doesn’t like to get into others’ relationship issues. She tells him should talk to Yannic about it, especially since he loves Yannic. Kean is shocked, and leaves to finish his watch elsewhere.

At the end of their watch, Kean finds Yannic and wakes Remi. Remi, seeing that his BFF hasn’t slept, asks what’s wrong. Yannic says he doesn’t want to risk having nightmares. Remi offers to wake him if it looks like he’s having nightmares, and Yannic eventually agrees to try napping.

When the sun rises, there are no green explosions, and the barrier seems to be gone. Fen offers the party a goodberry breakfast, and Sobren and Jade leave, to go home.

Yannic tries scrying on Nemit again. This time, he sees Nemit talking to Ondelin, Kean, and Andra. The silver that had been swirling in his eyes is splintering into his skin now. The other timeline Kean teleports everyone, and Yannic’s vision is teleported along with the group. He sees a very big, fancy room with columns and gold leaf symbols all over the floor. Gadgets line the room. Ondelin continues to talk to Nemit, while the clones go out of Yannic’s sight to do something.

Yannic shares what he learned with the party, and we fret over the other timeline’s Ondelin, Andra, and Kean for a bit. We decide we should probably purchase better armor, and Kean tries and fails to teleport the group to Floy. We walk instead.

While walking, Kaiva approaches Kean to ask him about the murder room in Keyberry Ford. Kean is irritated by her line of questioning and tells her to stop.

Remi messages Kaiva to ask her what’s wrong. Kaiva explains how she was trying to ask Kean about the murder room in Keyberry Ford. Remi tells her maybe this isn’t the best time to ask. Kaiva asks Remi if he’s really okay with being a Banisher. Remi explains why he became a Banisher.

Remi messages Betha to discuss what he learned from Kaiva about the murder room. Betha says it wasn’t Kean who did those things in Keyberry Ford, since Kean was born much more recently. Remi shares this with Kaiva, who is still annoyed at Kean and the Banishers.

Seeing Kean walking by himself, Yannic joins him. Kean tells Yannic that he’s going to leave, but Yannic asks Kean to stay. He does, and explains that he’s upset because Kaiva keeps on poking at the bad things he’s had to do, the worst memories he has. Yannic asks if he can help, and Kean asks about his sister, Andra. Yannic tells him she’s a good person, and assertive and strong. Kean explains he’s trying to think of a way to resurrect her, since she might be dead when he finds her. Yannic says Ondelin would have helped last time, so he might this time if we asked.

When we get to Floy, it seems the teleportation system is working intermittently. The party heads to an armorer, and Kean, with Yannic in tow, goes to ask Kaiva if she really wants to talk. She says yes, so they walk out of town, Betha creeping along behind. Betha takes the opportunity to explain to Yannic why Kaiva’s so upset with Kean. When Kean stops, he looks around and sees Betha, who stares him down. Kean turns back to Kaiva and tells her that if he tells her, she has to agree to never ask him about it again.

Kaiva agrees, and Kean says none of what he did [in the murder room] was his choice, but he did it. Kaiva wants to know if it could happen again. Kean says he’s done everything in his power to prevent that from ever happening again. Kaiva says she’s worried about Andra, and asks if she was ever made to do things against her will. He says no. Kaiva asks how it happened, and he says they held the position before Callum came, in a time of great need, when the town was starving. Kaiva questions why the other Kean would have put the party there if things were so dangerous in Keyberry Ford. He says the Keyberry house is good and safe, but the rest of the town is not.

Conversation over, Kean walks back towards town, and Yannic catches up to him to tell him if he needs anything, let Yannic know. Yannic asks if Kean would rather be alone, and when he nods, Yannic clips off some of his hair for Kean to keep for teleportation. Kean leaves.

Kaiva and Betha rejoin the rest of the party in perusing armor options, while Yannic tries to scry on his mom. He fails, and feels like he was punched in the face by a blue sapphire wall. Everyone else buys some armor. Betha confesses that she knows where Fen’s missing diamond is.

At noon, after purchases have been made, the party regroups at the Step Back Inn and orders drinks. Kaiva asks Yannic about the Skinner, and encourages him to ask Kean about it. We talk about potentially finding Party Island and Arctus. Some of the Banishers explain to Kaiva why they joined the Banishers, and the party talks about how they feel about Gorloris’ status quo for the extraplanar system. Kaiva offers to punch a tree so Fen can fulfill her Banfey promise of protecting a tree. We begin to discuss the possibility of going back to the original timeline, and whether we’d choose to. (Fen says she would, to take back her diamond from Kean.)

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48. Chasing Emit

When the party regroups after shopping, Remi gifts Yannic with a pair of earrings to replace his missing earring. The group look for Sobren and Nemit and find Sobren and the green dragonborn Banisher directing traffic away from the teleportation hub. When he spots us, Sobren shouts and heads towards us, to ask what we know about Emit, whose full name is apparently Emit Niprawdnem.

Sobren describes how his Banishing Squad followed Emit to a house where he caused a vortex of glass, a tornado, that caused the explosion and killed Jade’s SO. After they dragged him out of the house, Emit hit them over the head and ran off. Sobren wants to find Emit and find out what is wrong with him, what he wants, and how he’s on his team. Remi discerns that Emit’s name is actually “mend warp in time” backwards. We tell Sobren that we don’t really know Emit, but there was a mass attack averted this morning which Emit wants to cause. Remi asks if Yannic can scry on Emit, and he agrees.

Sobren takes us to the administrative building, where a loose tile falls and knocks Fen unconscious. While Yannic scrys on Emit, Betha helps Kaiva tie Fen’s body to Kaiva’s back. By scrying, Yannic sees Emit in a dark cavern, covered in blood from the shoulders down, surveying goblin and wolf corpses. He appears to be making sure everyone is dead, and then he walks out of the cave that we previously rescued Bob from. Yannic also sees that Emit’s eyes are a constantly swirling silver. The two groups join to search for Emit.

Betha leads the expanded party towards the goblins’ cave. On the way there, multiple conversations are had via the Message cantrip. Remi, Kaiva, Yannic, and Betha discuss what Emit might be trying to do, and Remi explains to Kaiva what happened on Banfiend approximately 10 years ago. To Remi, Kaiva describes the lady who’d been looking for soulfire as being extraplanar and fey, maybe. When we’re a bit past Bob’s exploded house, we spot a flying horse in the sky, far off in the distance. It seems to be moving at a normal horse’s pace.

A little while later, we find the cave, and some footprints that lead westward into the forest, towards a river. As we track Emit deeper into the woods, the forest gets prettier and more manicured. We see a small house in a clearing, and Betha gets the sense that something is celestial about this place. After a rush to the house, it becomes clear that neither Ondelin nor Emit are here, though Remi does see that they have started heading north.

We follow their tracks for a while, and at 5:30pm, we notice the blue sky is becoming a darker shade of blue, despite it being Midsummer. The flying horse also seems to be much closer. During this leg of tracking, Remi converses quietly with Yannic via Message, voicing doubts about whether he and Ondelin should be together in this timeline. Yannic does his best to comfort his best friend.

By 6:30pm, the sky has become an even darker blue, and we see that we’re approaching the tower. Behind us, a big black horse seems to have landed and is just following, albeit slowly because of the shrubbery. When we get to the tower’s clearing, we see recently dead hyena people all over and Ondelin guarding the tower door. Emit is nowhere in sight. Sobren and Jade confront Ondelin, and Remi intercedes. Betha lets slip that they know Ondelin’s name.

Remi tells the other Banishers that this is the friendly celestial he told them about, and Sobren looks very relieved. Once we convince him that we’re not trying to prevent him from protecting the tower, Ondelin eventually indicates the general direction that Emit went off in, and Jade stomps off into the woods, Sobren following close behind. He looks as though he wants to wait for us, a bit, but keeping Jade from killing Emit is more pressing. Our party stays a while longer, so Remi can explain how we know him.

Remi explains about the time travel and that he and Ondelin were important to each other in an alternate timeline. Remi begins to tell Ondelin what he knows about him, and when he hums his favorite tune, Ondelin stops him. Remi waits patiently, as Ondelin tries to process this overload of information. The most pressing issue on Ondelin’s mind is whether or not he successfully protects the tower. Betha tells Remi that Ondelin might need some time to process, and that she does know how to find Ondelin’s home again. Remi agrees that they should follow Jade in her hunt for Emit, and Betha hugs Remi.

As soon as they step into the forest, the group finds themselves face to face with an awkward Kean. He’s come to examine Yannic’s new hand. He questions the party about how long Yannic was with Keanvari, and when we say five minutes, he exclaims that Yannic was there for an hour, because of how time dilation works between planes. Kean examines Yannic and discovers his head is covered in the enchantment Modify Memory. Worried about what Keanvari or Yannic might have said during an hour together on Banfey, Kean is intent on finding a beholder to nullify the magic.

We try to explain why we think it’s more important to find Emit first, and we explain about the time ghost ripples, how the clones and Ondelin were bound by the collars in the other timeline, and how Emit seems to know something about time. Looking around, we spot a ripple nearby, but Kean can’t see it. He tells Kaiva to touch it, and she does so by swinging her battleax. When she lands a hit, a large silvery Ondelin-looking figure materializes, finally visible to Kean, who just stares in shock. He stares long enough for Kaiva to hide behind him and for the creature to attack him. The party drags him away, and when we get about 30 feet away, the creature fades back into ripples. Betha heals Kean, and the party sits for a breather. Kean says he believes in time travel now, despite never having heard of it before.

We discuss other ways of getting information about time travel and how the ripples are happening. The Lady of Learning is suggested, as are Remi’s ghosts. We try to formulate some questions for a ghost, and Kean chimes in when we describe the ripples as time ghosts. We explain that they appear to be a weird mix of abjuration, transmutation, and necromancy. He says that’s what planar barriers are made of. He asks how for more information about how we time travelled, and we explain how we used an Orb of Annihilation to power the core and the way it sent out a few bursts of magical effects. Kean is horrified that an Orb of Annihilation was potentially the base for creating a new plane. Usually, special trees, rocks, or water are used.

Remi asks if there is anyone at the college doing research on time travel. Kean says that there is someone who is not at the college, but we don’t want to meet her. She’s known as the Skinner, and her appearance changes. She’s similar to Ondelin in that she’s on the cusp of godhood. She’s supposed to be dead, but it turns out that she can rise again. Kean also says there’s someone in Hell that might be doing that research. Bizzle is Keanvari’s resident researcher.

The party decides to continue in Jade’s path to hopefully confront Emit and prevent any potential worldwide explosions before dealing with Yannic’s head.

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47. Time Bites Back

While Fen sleeps amongst the leaves near Bob’s house, the rest of the party discusses visiting Hell so that Yannic can get his right hand back. They wait several hours, and at midnight, a bat-winged creature delivers a box containing a gatestone. The party all touch the gatestone and are transported to a freezing cold building, where Keanvari is waiting for them resignedly.

Keanvari asks Yannic what he’d like his hand to look like, but Yannic forgoes a cool pirate hand and asks for a mirror of his left hand. Keanvari says he can return us to where we were, but only one at a time. Betha goes first, taking a 20 foot fall from where the Rod of Security had created the paradisiacal bubble. Kaiva follows, as does Remi. A few minutes later, Yannic falls out of the air into a blanket, after apparently conversing politely with Keanvari.

Remi casts Sending to ask Fen, “Are you alive? Where are you?” Fen, in the midst of a dream about lots of gold, replies, “Go away, I’m busy!” An hour later, Fen hears a loud clatter and crash, but she goes back to sleep.

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It takes the party a couple hours after contacting Fen to find Bob’s house – or the remains of it. Bob’s house has exploded, and there are strange ripples throughout the clearing. Kaiva punches one, and it materializes into a pair of strange dark eyeless creatures with crystals around their waists and staves in hand. Betha, casting True Strike, senses that they are some kind of zombie creature, and having to do with time? Yannic uses Detect Magic, and discovers they read as being a strange mix of abjuration, transmutation, and necromancy.

The time ghost Kaiva punched into existence attempts to attack her, and when one of the attacks hits, they both disappear for 30 seconds. When they come back, they circle each other for a bit, freeze for 30 seconds, and then the ghost vanishes. The other time ghost moves through the same motions that the one fighting Kaiva did. The party backs out of the clearing, and look for Fen. Fen tries to cross the clearing, but she bumps into a beetle-spider time ghost that tears into her shoulder. She escapes the clearing, but not before bumping into another time ghost.

Remi attempts to speak with Bob using Sending, and he gets back a garbled and confused reply: I don’t know where I am. Fen asks the tree she’d been sleeping against for information about the explosion, and the tree lets her know Speak with Plants would be helpful, because it has a lot to say. Remi casts the spell, and learns that the some of the other banishing team were here earlier. After Bob ran into his house, the diviner had rushed into the house, and two of the banishing squad went in to drag the diviner out, at which point the house exploded and the time ghosts appeared. Remi remembers vaguely that the diviner, although he introduced himself as Emit (pronounced Emmett), was not named Emit while they were in school together.

Betha explains why she doesn’t want to ask Sivoreen if they can stay in the Feywild. Since it’s now past 2 in the morning, the party decides that the best way to avoid Soulfire is to walk away from Floy and the tower, southward, stopping halfway between Floy and Broadwater. Betha finds the hill over the cave where the goblins had taken Bob in the previous timeline, and the party hunkers down to wait for dawn. Slowly, slowly, the sun comes up over the horizon, and there are no green flashes of Soulfire in the sky in any direction. The party stays, watching, until 6am, at which point they decide that investing in some rope would probably be a good idea.

On the way back to Floy, they stop at Bob’s house, to see if it’s approachable. It is decidedly not, since there are many more time ghosts around now, including a large winged figure who appears to be carrying a flaming longsword.

The party skirts around Bob’s house and head into Floy, where they do a bit of shopping. Yannic buys a few vials and a pair of scissors. Remi locates a jeweler’s, where he purchases a locket to hold his scrap of Ondelin’s clothing. He also exchanges some of the gems from the Therris vault for gold, which Remi and Betha use to buy infinite rope at a general store. Fen and Kaiva have also gone looking for something to use as a Friendship Rope, so they ask around for ‘fancy rope.’ They’re directed to a sex shop, where a friendly salesperson walks them through much of the store’s inventory. They eventually leave after purchasing some lengths of silk rope and a pair of solidly-made manacles.

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46. Bitchslapped by a God

There are a whole lot of Andraki’s folk outside: hyenas, hyenapeople, and a large white once-a-hyena creature that has a scorpion tail and dripping pointy teeth. The hyenapeople batter at the door of the tower, to no avail. The party tries to convince Fen to get into the tower after testing to see whether living creatures can pass through the arrowslit windows. Fen argues that they’ll have to bring her in by force. As the party talks through the plan with Fen, Remi notices that there’s a flock of birds fast approaching.

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Then, the scorpion-hyena rushes towards the tower, and Remi and Fen spot the tiny green frog riding the creature. Remi quickly polymorphs Fen into a hummingbird as the scorpion-hyena starts scaling the tower. Betha tries some offensive magic on the creature, but it makes it close enough to the first window for the Andraki-frog to hop onto the windowsill, at which point Remi uses the Rod of Security to transport everyone inside the tower (except Andraki) to a paradisiacal version of the Therris estate.

Outside in the forest, Fen hides from the approaching birds. Andraki shouts as the birds swarm. One of the birds, a crow, finds and screams at Fen. In response, Fen flies onto its head to groom it. The bird suffers this indignity, and then all the birds stop flying and land wherever is closest.

In paradise, a crack appears several feet from Remi, and Andraki pushes through, in her divine form. Her skin is spotted, and she sports a pair of curled horns and a tail. After Betha fails to banish the demon goddess, Andraki draws her bow on Yannic, who asks, “What can we do for you?” Andraki has no reply and no humor in her expression, for once. Kaiva pulls out the glass sword, which is humming, and hesitantly steps toward Andraki.

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Betha casts Detect Thoughts on Andraki, and overhears a telepathic conversation between the twins. Andraki wants to kill everyone, and Keanvari would rather Yannic didn’t die. The goddess shoots Yannic’s right hand off with a bolt of painless black crackling energy, leaving a cauterized stump. The black staff he’d been holding falls to the ground, and Yannic screams.

Meanwhile, Fen continues to groom Keanvari’s crow self, and she hears him say, “I can be patient.” The birds fly off, and Fen attempts to get Keanvari to follow her to Bob’s house. He doesn’t.

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Yannic yells at Andraki, “You could have asked!!!” and Kaiva rushes towards Andraki, landing a blow on the goddess using Lord (Loch) Kasdall’s Blade. Betha overhears the twins agreeing to back off at the same time before Detect Thoughts ends. Andraki puts away her bow, slaps Kaiva, and leaves the way she came, leaving the crack hanging in midair.

Fen sees the bird on whose head she’d been sitting fly towards the tower, and she follows. The tower has a massive singe mark on the wall, and there’s a black crackling crack in the air, out of which a frog hops. The frog and bird begin to argue for some long minutes, and Fen eavesdrops.

From inside paradise, Betha watches the twins gesticulate angrily, and then there’s a flash of silver. The tower and its clearing have moved, and the twins along with it. The hyenapeople went with the tower’s clearing, and Fen, convinced everyone else is dead, tries to head for Bob’s house.

Those in paradise decide that it’s best to stay in the space created by the Rod of Security for at least the length of a long rest, so they set up watches. Remi and Yannic sit on watch together, and Yannic scrawls a note to Kean.

After being lost for a good hour, Fen reverts to her halfling form. She confers with a tree about the tower and her location, and then heads towards town by way of Bob’s house, to see if she can intercept Bob on his way home.

During the second watch, a pebble flies through the crack in paradise, hitting both Kaiva and Betha in the face. Betha pokes her head through the crack and sees a crow who offers her an envelope addressed to Yannic. She tells the crow she’s not going to wake Yannic up for him, but she takes the envelope. The crow leaves, slowly. Kaiva unsuccessfully tries to convince Betha they should open the letter before handing it to Yannic.

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In the forest, Fen has encountered Bob, and she explains the situation. The two walk back towards Bob’s home, drinking heavily from the bottles of alcohol Bob’s carrying in a large sack.

Upon waking, Remi goes in search of an oven, and he bakes up some beautiful bread. Betha hands Yannic the letter, and he reads it after breakfast. The letter is a formal apology from Keanvari for Yannic’s loss of a hand. He is offering to transport Yannic to Hell at midnight, so he can replace Yannic’s hand.

When Bob and Fen approach Bob’s house just before sundown, Bob stops just before entering the clearing. Andraki’s creatures are all over, so Fen and Bob hide among the trees for a while, drinking and waiting for sundown. Finally, Fen helps Bob sneak through part of the clearing so he can get to his house to hide the Last Laugh. Fen settles down for a nap in the leaves, hiding in plain sight.

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45. Froggy Fears Confirmed

When we arrive yet again in Floy, we see a group of four fancily dressed Banishers using the water-powered elevator to get to Upper Floy. One of the four spots us and makes grabby hand motions towards us before the apparent leader hauls him back onto the platform. Remi recognizes the one who saw us as a divination wizard from the university.

We wait for the elevator to come back down, and by the time we reach Upper Floy, the other banishers are nowhere to be seen. After some waffling about the best way to figure out where the tower is, we drop in the Step Back Inn, where Bob is busy drinking. We update him a bit, and ask him where the tower is. Bob says he didn’t bother finding out this morning, but we could wait until sunset.

We figure the other banishers are also headed to the tower, so we poke our heads out of the inn and hear everyone talking about the fancy looking people. We follow the trail into the forest, and Fen surreptitiously pops Lester out of his pocket dimension. As we catch up to the other banishers, we can see that every so often, they’re stopping and correcting their course, so it seems that they’re using the divination wizard’s magic to guide their way.

The leader of the other banishing squad is a 16 or 17 year old with a surly disposition, The diviner seems dumbstruck. The other two seem pleasant enough? The diviner stares and stares and stares at whoever in our group tries to speak to him. Their leader is impatient to get back to banishing whatever extraplanar beings are in this forest, but the diviner is fixated, seeing gods know what when he stares at us. He says that everything’s wrong, and that everything/one is doomed. He warns us that time will fight back.

Eventually, the diviner seems to give up and walks off through the forest, with the rest of his team trooping after him. We part ways with the other group, having decided that our goals are not exactly aligned – the majority of us don’t want to meet Andraki, and they seem to be tracking her (and a couple celestials) down. Before they leave, however, Remi manages to convince their leader that they should really be looking for fiends instead of the celestials. As they leave, we learn their leader’s name, which jogs our collective memory. The grumpy kid is Sobren, one of the children Yannic, Remi, Fen, and Betha saved approximately 10 years ago on Banfiend.

Fen and Kaiva turn to the trees for directions to the tower. It takes an hour or so, but we do find the clearing in which the tower is located for the next half hour. We enter the tower, closing the doors behind us, just in case Andraki’s out there somewhere. Once upstairs, we close all the portal doors. In Undercommon, Fen asks whether Morthred is in Bob’s heart, and she hears a faint murmur from within. Kaiva wants to free Morthred, but Remi and Betha argue that doing so could kill Bob. Remi offers a compromise: if the world goes to shit again, we can come back to free Morthred ‘cause it won’t matter anymore.

When the party gets back downstairs by the tower’s doors, they realize that there’s no way to unlock the doors from the inside. It takes 3 hours for Betha to use her strength and lockpicks to open the doors, only to find Andraki sitting right outside, in frog form.

Betha pulls everyone out of the tower, and she and Kaiva try to close the doors before Andraki can get in. Andraki casts Hold Person, paralyzing the two. Fen introduces herself and tells Andraki they know each other in a different future, hence Lester. Andraki is curious. It’s when Fen mentions Andraki’s needle, the Last Laugh, that Andraki really is intrigued. She marches us back into the forest to retrieve the needle from Bob’s house, but Fen lets drop that Callum might be around, courtesy of Kean and Andra perhaps. Andraki rushes off to see about that, exacting a promise from Fen that they will meet outside Bob’s house an hour before sunset so Andraki can be reunited with her needle.

As soon as Andraki leaves, we jog for the tower, to close the doors. As we approach, we find Andraki’s hyenapeople all over the tower. Fen sits this fight out, not wanting to cross Andraki. We sneak up, dispatch a bunch of them with some excellent spellcasting from Remi and Yannic, and manage to secure the tower. However, in the process of doing so, we shut Fen outside of the tower and lock ourselves in again.

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44. Breakfast at Gorloris'

A brief spot of retconning: there are many people about, beginning to party in anticipation of Banfey.

We approach the guards by the entrance to Gorloris’ residence to ask for an audience with Gorloris. Remi explains that it’s a matter of great importance, and that we have a token from Floyrian the dragon that says he believes us. We convince the guard that they should ask Gorloris whether he should see us, and they carry away Bob’s scale.

We join the other supplicants in waiting around this early, early morning. Kaiva goes to sleep, and Yannic heads towards his home to visit his parents. However, on the way there, he checks his text-paper, and sees he’s received a reply from Kean saying he wants to meet up outside Gathering. Yannic asks for a time and location, and receives the teleportation sigil he vaguely recognizes but doesn’t quite remember. He goes, and arrives in Gehenna, where Kean pulls him into a house to question him.

Yannic tries to explain what happened with the time travel and the future past. Kean believes that Yannic believes what he’s saying, but he’s convinced that time travel isn’t possible. Kean says that Yannic’s mom has gone missing; Yannic shows him the sapphire that his dead mom is in. Yannic mentions that Andra was present in the future past, and Kean wants the deets, stat. Yannic tells him what the Lady of Learning told Kean about where and when to find Andra, but also says that she was dead when Kean found her.

Despite his disbelief, Kean says he’s here to help. He doesn’t think that Gorloris will be able to help (neither does Yannic). Kean warns Yannic to be careful and not to trust people, especially not people who look like him unless Yannic verifies that they are actually Kean and not Keanvari. Yannic asks if he can hug Kean. It is awkward. (and so so sad)

Yannic returns to the party, and shortly after his return, he feels someone attempting, with great difficulty, to scry on him. It feels like Kean? So he asks Kean on the text-paper if it was him, and Kean says it wasn’t. Hardly anyone feels like sleeping after that, so a bunch of us take a point of exhaustion.

A couple hours before dawn, we’re told that Gorloris will see us, at dawn. As dawn breaks, we’re ushered into Gorloris’ home to the protest of everyone who’s been waiting to see him. We’re brought to a room where Gorloris is eating breakfast, and he greets us politely and asks us what we know.

As our spokesperson, Remi explains that we’re from the future – a future in which an extraplanar council was able to set off destructive soulfire explosions using the teleportation system on Banfey. We name the members of the council, and we also mention that we saw Arctus once, at the party celebrating the success of the extraplanar council. Gorloris immediately wants as much information about his son as possible, and he asks Remi to drink a super truth serum so that he can verify the truth of our information. Remi acquiesces. Once we’ve given as much information as possible about Arctus, Gorloris offers us breakfast and some of the super truth serum. Yannic asks if Gorloris could see about helping restore Yannic’s mom back to life, and Gorloris takes the sapphire containing Yannic’s mom. Gorloris leaves to prepare a response to the extraplanar council’s plans, though we get the impression that what he most wants to do is to find (and save) his son.

We eat, and upon leaving Gorloris’ home, we split into three groups: Remi and Betha to the Therris home, Kaiva and Fen to the post office, and Yannic to his home. We agree to regroup in an hour.

Yannic finds his home the same as when he left, less than 24 hours ago (in this timeline). His father plies him with food, and complains that Yannic’s friend stopped by and didn’t want to eat. He also asks if Yannic has seen his mom? Yannic says she’s unwell but safe with Gorloris at the moment. He then tries to convince his dad that as a banisher, he’s been gifted with prophetic dreams that say Yannic’s parents should leave Gathering City for a vacation for Banfey. Yannic’s dad refuses to leave without his mom. Yannic eats some more, then heads to the rendezvous point.

In the Therris household, Betha naps in Remi’s room while Remi goes to explain things to a considerably less sleepy Grandma Therris. All over the Therris house, there are queues of people looking busy and holding papers, some reciting speeches. Remi finds his grandmother in her office, and he explains that he really did travel from a future because of the core under Gathering City. She says that the core can do that, and seems to be more believing this time. Remi also shows her the letter that Andraki brought him from a dead Grandma Therris, and she’s glad to know that she’s happy in the afterlife. Remi also tells her that there’s someone special to him that he’d like her to meet, and she’s excited to meet him. Remi and Grandma Therris hug a bunch, then Remi collects Betha, and they too head to the teleportation circle nearest the Therris home.

Meanwhile, Kaiva and Fen have found the post office and a long line of people waiting to send mail. Fen, being her stealthy self, sneaks to the front of the line and presents her letter to the clerk, who tells her that, for 2 silver pieces, the mail may or may not be delivered to Vega “in the forest”. Having gotten turned around while looking for the post office, Kaiva and Fen aren’t sure where to meet up with the rest of the party. They look around for a bit, and decide to get a drink. Kaiva attempts to pay for a whole bar’s patrons’ worth of drinks with 1 platinum piece, gets a dirty look, and the two of them scamper. With fifteen minutes to go until the party is due to leave, Kaiva uses the Sending Stone to ask Betha where to meet up. Finding their bearings, they head over to the designated teleportation circle.

For a brief moment, in separate parts of the city, Yannic and Fen each see shimmering in front of them. Fen punches the shimmering thing, which goes, “Ah” or “Ow”. Passing her hands through the thing again and again, its consistency fades from jam back into empty air. Kaiva believes she might have gained magical powers.

Yannic quickly casts Detect Magic on his shimmery thing, and he learns that the shimmering is an old magic and a strange combination of abjuration and transmutation magic. It seems as though something was trying to change a barrier. It could be someone trying to get through planes and barriers, which is difficult in this pre-Boom Boom Day state of things, or it could be something old that’s stuck.

Kaiva and Fen finally find the others, and after Kaiva briefly tests her magical powers, we all teleport back to Floy, in hopes of finding the tower before it moves.

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43. BACK IN TIME HOLY SHIT

After we orient ourselves a little, the party heads over to the administration office. Yannic privately looks through his belongings and discovers that he is only wearing one earring, his mom is still in the sapphire Kean gave him in the other timeline, and the Kean-communication papers are all blank. Kaiva rearranges her gear, then we brush off the dust on our clothes, and check in with the administrator.

She shares what she knows about the issue we were called to investigate, and we head off to Upper Floy to power-walk to Bob’s house. Remi plays his flutelute on the way there. When we get to the clearing of Bob’s house, we can hear that there’s something going on inside. Betha tries unsuccessfully to jump through the window a few times, while Fen and Kaiva kick the door in. Once inside, we see three goblins trying to drag Bob through the back door.

Kaiva and Remi handily kill the goblins, and Bob asks who we are. We tell him that we’re the Banishers, and he asks what we know. We look at each other, and Fen says, “Too much.” When we explain what we mean, he believes us, but he starts drinking heavily. He says we can keep his stuff, if we promise to give it back to him if he asks for it. We agree.

Bob tells us we should tell Gorloris, and we ask him to accompany us, so that we might have an easier time convincing Gorloris. Reluctant to leave his hoard, especially with the knowledge that Andraki is actively looking for her needle, Bob offers to give us something that will show Gorloris that Bob believes us, if we wait until sunset. We agree and take a short rest.

Fen takes some time to write a message to Vega to send via post, Yannic writes a message to Kean via the message paper, and Remi thinks about using Sending to contact Ondelin. Fen summons Lester and finds he doesn’t remember anything from the other timeline. Also, Lester can’t take objects from the material plane with him when he goes to his pocket dimension. Yannic asks for a mirror. Remi asks Bob if he’s seen a celestial anywhere in the forest where the tower is. Bob says yes, but doesn’t know where he is exactly. He just sees him sometimes.

At sunset, Bob goes outside briefly, telling us to stay inside. This time, we do, and when he comes back, he’s holding a gold scale. He writes a short message to Gorloris on the back side of the scale, signing and dating it, and hands it over to Remi.

The party heads back to the teleportation circles in Floy, powerwalking through the spooky woods. Once there, we decide to teleport to a circle in Gathering close to Gorloris’ home (and also Remi’s). Upon reaching Gathering, Kaiva and Fen fall to the ground, paralyzed completely. Remi realizes that all of the items taken from the Therris vault are cursed and are being tracked, so Betha carries Kaiva and Fen over to the Therris home so Remi can find out what’s going on.

The Therris household lets the party in without question, and Remi goes upstairs to visit Grandma Therris. Grandma Therris is sleeping, but Remi wakes her to hug her and explain why he’s waking her up at this late hour. Being very sleepy, Grandma Therris thinks Remi’s had a bad dream, and tells him that if he and his friends were able to get into the Therris vault in the future and take stuff from it, they can keep it, it’s okay. Downstairs, unbeknownst to Remi, Kaiva and Fen are immediately able to move again. Grandma Therris tells Remi that his friends can sleep in the guest rooms, and that they can talk about things in the morning, at 6 o’clock. She goes back to sleep, having had a long day.

Remi goes downstairs to tell the party they’ll have to wait til morning to talk to Grandma Therris about what happened to Kaiva and Fen, and he is surprised to find the two are back to their animated selves. The party decides that they should see Gorloris before trying to sleep.

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42. The Gathering Core

We head down into the maintenance tunnels, following the stripe for the central control hub. Half an hour in, we feel the floor fall out from under us, by several feet. We pick up our pace, and 10 minutes after the quake, we begin to hear a regular thwomp thwomp sound, and we’re getting closer to it by walking/jogging towards the central control hub.

We start seeing damage to the walls and dead bodies, most of whom seem to have been smushed. The first person we find like this died about 1.5-2 days ago, and they were part of the conjuration clique. We begin to stealth our way down when we notice the bodies and the large footprints in the rubble. The tunnel starts to widen and get taller as the stripe on the wall grows thicker, and the bodies and scorch marks grow more common.

An hour into our jog, we hear footsteps behind us, and Mercury reveals herself sheepishly. She wants the Godkiller Kit. The party questions her motives, given that she sought out Keanvari last night, and she claims that she wants to protect us from the harm that would come to us if people wanted the kit badly enough to kill for it. She says that Keanvari does know we have it. In the end we decide not to give her the kit, and Mercury leaves, unhappy.

We continue on, reaching a hallway that curves around a circular room – the control hub. Peeking in past the stone doors, we see a large dome of a room with huge orbs floating by the ceiling. The largest orb is hovering several feet above what would be the center of the floor, if the floor were not a crevasse with lava at the bottom. (It would seem that feeding the core raw magic did not end all that well.) The orb in the center of the room is providing energy to the orbs on the ceiling. Also there’s a 20 foot tall and 20 foot wide stone golem patrolling the room.

Kaiva sets up a tripwire at stone golem ankle-height using the Friendship Rope. Remi and Kaiva approach the golem while everyone else hides behind a stone door, and Remi manages to convince the golem we are here to help restore power to the core to save Gathering from falling. He allows them to try, but he watches them very closely. Looking around the room, there seems to be a power socket just on the edge of the central orb that could be reached without having a hand chopped off by the rotating circular blades of the core.

After some consultation with the rest of the party, it’s decided that the best course of action is to have the golem lift Remi up to the power socket so he can insert the battery into the power socket on the core. Remi does so, carefully removing the Pokeball protective covers so the magical energy in the Orb of Annihilation can be absorbed into the core.

For a few moments, the core stops, and the whole of Gathering drops by about 15 feet. Then the core starts up again, and Kean says that maybe it would be good to get away from the core now that it’s recalibrating? So we make a run for the door, then Kean, when he says he’s readying a teleportation spell. The golem decides he doesn’t like taking falling or lightning damage in our presence, so he attacks us. The core turns everyone invisible except Andra and Fen (who are outside the room in that moment), which delays Kean’s casting of teleportation until we are all visible again. Just before Kean can finally cast teleport, the core sends out another blast of energy, and everything goes white.

When our senses return, we’re standing in the teleportation center of Floy, and a woman herding cows says, “So you’re the Banishers?”

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41. The Infuriating Realities of a "Long Rest"

Everyone settles in for a long rest, and the circlet-wearing people are asked to rest as well. In the process of asking Kean to get rest, Yannic critfails his intelligence save, and falls limply to the ground, twitching in extreme pain. Some healing helps, but it’s a little while before he’s back on his feet. In the meantime, Fen asks Andra to rest, and learns that Andra is furious and wants Fen to take the circlet off.

During the first watch, there’s a bit of a hubbub from the necromancy school, and Yannic and Remi sneak up at the beginning of second watch to find a bunch of scholarly type people arguing about methods. They return and relay this to the people on second watch before going to sleep. Kean falls asleep a little ways into the second watch. The rest of the night passes fairly uneventfully, interrupted only by Kaiva perusing Kean’s binder of message paper after he falls asleep and by a potential ghost sighting by Fen (not really). Also Fen attempting to draw a mustache on Kean.

Once most people are awake, Kean needs a few more hours of sleep to regain use of his spells, so the party uses the time to identify and divvy up the things we’ve retrieved from the Therris vault. When we’re ready to go, we realize Mercury hasn’t returned from sleeping at her own home, so we check Kean’s message sheet to see if she’s written anything. Fen writes a message and doesn’t see a reply, so Remi uses Sending to contact Mercury, asking politely if she’s going to come with us. Mercury replies, “I’m sorry. I should have believed you,” and Remi can tell that she’s on a different plane of existence.

Fearing the worst for Mercury, we decide to leave without her. Kaiva wears Andra’s circlet, instead of Fen. Yannic wears Kean’s, and Remi wears Ondelin’s. We reach the Supreme Magus’ office, Fen pockets a shiny bauble, and we head back down into the maintenance tunnels.

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