Return to Sunder

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The Return to Sunder storyline took place in April 2016.

All posts by GM Kenstrom unless otherwise noted.

Prologue

Posted 11 March 2016

The soldier paced the ramparts. He missed home. He missed the warm summers in Lolle, and the huddled warmth of a lover during the cold winters. He missed the scents and sounds of home. The mixture of mountain breeze, dirt from the mines, and a hint of wildflowers from the hills. He missed the white curtains drawn across the windows of town, an eternal shield against the icy curse of the past. He missed the crisp sound of the blue phoenix banner flapping in the mountain wind. Even here, it sounded different. The air was laden with salt from the bay, it clung to his skin and weathered his cloak.He almost sighed, his eyes staring out from beneath his polished helm as he watched the activity on the other side of a wooden palisade wall. Ants, is what they reminded him of. Lost to their routine and often purposed for another. They were like barbaric cousins. He knew they had all been tasked to protect them, to guide them, to set a good example for the next generations of their people. Hearts and minds, his commander had always told them, time and again. We have to win their hearts and minds. How, he wondered, when you haven't even won mine?He missed home. He missed the fresh meats and herbs traded daily in the markets of Lolle. He missed the glow of the fields and hills in the day, and the silhouette of the Dragonspines at night. Here he had nothing like that. Not even close. Well, maybe close. He turned his gaze to the rising mountain named Melgorehn's Reach by the locals. It jutted up to the sky, its peaks disappearing beyond his sight. For now, that view would have to do. A flash of light caught his eye, and he suddenly turned. The air shimmered and his hand reached for his sword.


The merchant paced the floor of his shop. Another day, another coin. He was getting too old for this. His bones creaked more than the floorboards. His knuckles were almost a conjoined mass of flesh now and he'd never forge a weapon again. But he felt his mind was still sharp. Why wouldn't it be? He was the predominate weapons merchant in town. Everyone knew his name. Young and brave adventurers, even commoners in town came to him for all manners of weapons. He was happy to oblige, it was his life after all. But he could not stop but think, when and how would it all end? Would the floor creak one last time, and he draws his final breath? Would his body be found on the ground as if on display like one of his weapons? It had been over thirty years since the love of his life had passed. She took with her his heart and he had been destined to never share it again. But what price did he pay? A lonely home, and a legacy likely to be easily replaced by someone else as equally skilled in his business. He took an ivory-handled dagger from a low shelf and placed it inside of a display case. There, he thought, discounted now. The air shimmered for a moment and he rubbed his tired eyes. He circled around to the other side of his counter and there it was. The ivory-handled dagger back on the low shelf. He looked down to the display case and it was empty again. He shook his head. He was getting too old for this. He went back around to the shelf, lifted up the dagger and set it back into the case. The floor creaked behind him and he turned, suddenly wishing he still had the dagger in hand.


The small boy paced outside of his home. The heavy bearded man had arrived again, like usual. His mother always made him wait outside, sometimes for even a whole hour!He hated it. He missed his room, despite its size; it was all he had ever known and all he really needed. He missed his father. It had been almost two years now since the soldiers came to town and he lost his daddy. It wasn't fair. Why did he have to die protecting this town that doesn't even remember him?He turned back and looked at his home. There was no candle light yet through the window. He wasn't allowed to go back inside until there was, his mother always said. He missed his mother. He missed the way she was before all of this. Before the war, before his daddy died, before meals of bread turned into meals of crumbs. He missed how she laughed and would snuggle him. Now she was only sad, so very sad all of the time. Sometimes he couldn't sleep because he could hear her crying at night. She was always angry after the heavy bearded man left, or the glassy-eyed man, and even the troll-nosed man. Angry, but still very sad. He looked down at the small wooden soldier miniature in his hand. He pretended it was his father, proud and noble, defending the town and his family. But in truth, it looked more like the soldiers who came and nearly burned the town and killed his father. But it was all he had, and they couldn't afford another. His eyes became lost in the dirt at his feet, his young mind wandering to a better time in his short life. He saw the faint orange glow of the candle out of the corner of his eye and he turned. There it was. Finally, he could go back inside, and hopefully eat something, and sleep, and dream. The air shimmered and the light of the candle wavered, almost as if splitting in half for a brief instant. He felt a chill behind him and heard a footstep. He turned suddenly, eyes going up to a visage half in shadows and half from nightmares. The wooden soldier toy fell from his hand, breaking when it landed.


The First Mana Storm

Posted by NEWSBY 1 April 2016

Townspeople hurry from fields to take shelter, creatures in the surrounding areas start stampeding (and their incredible scary AS), the temporal rifts begin, and Melgorehn's Reach lights up like … Independence Day.

Prayers from Mestanir

Posted 11 April 2016

News of the vanishing Hendoran Outpost has slowly trickled throughout some of the northern provinces of the Turamzzyrian Empire. Only a small number of Hendorans remain in the area around Wehnimer's Landing, currently answering to Sir Michol, the second in command of the Operation.

Just this morning, before a scheduled sermon before a throng of citizens in Mestanir, Prelate Chaston Griffin took a moment to acknowledge his deep condolences for the missing Hendorans near the protectorate of Wehnimer's Landing, and vowed that Koar's gaze knows no limits, and offered a prayer for the safe return of the soldiers.

In local rumors around Wehnimer's Landing, it is said the Brotherhood of Rooks have increased the bounty on the heads of the remaining Hendoran soldiers in the area, citing that with the enemy struggling to remain relevant, now was the best time to remind the imperials that Wehnimer's will always be free.

A Boy Goes Missing

Posted by NEWSBY 12 April 2016

It happened the 8th of Olaestra, 5116, in Wehnimer's Landing, as Irar chatted with Lord Clunk, master smith and longtime House Phoenix member and Palestra Blade Aurach about it a few days later. The two Lords fought together at Shadowguard against a shadow demon. Here, your humble correspondent reports a summary about the Ithzir, the death of the boy Jimmy, and the kidnapping of orphans from the Landing by Ithzir scouts.

Before Irar could relay his perspective of the events, Aurach felt it prudent to retell his account of happenings weeks prior. He described a mana storm around the Landing, with Melgorehn's Reach being particularly active. He recounted that there were several locations with active rifts, causing adventurers to be absconded. One of the spots, he mentioned, was the Hendoran Outpost. Aurach spoke of witnessing the Outpost disappear while at the Reach with Hapenlok, and that they heard the Ithziri language while they climbed. He mentioned that it was metallic, like the whispers that many adventurers have reported hearing in the following weeks.

Aurach went with Derogoaten to investigate at the Outpost, and finding a thin spot in the fabric of reality, Aurach was sent to a mist realm. He reported having to flee once the temperature there reached dangerous levels. He'd seen and heard an Ithzir while there, and his neck was touched. It took many healers to keep him alive afterwards. He then witnessed Lasindrel's abduction from the Outpost ruins.

Correspondent Irar then recounted his version of events concerning the disappearance of Jimmy, and the incident that followed.

A sizable group of adventurers had gathered after witnessing a mother distressed about the disappearance of her son, Jimmy. She could not account for why he may be gone, but reported hearing “a metallic sound.”

The adventurers split into several groups to seek the boy, some staying in town, some venturing elsewhere. Irar was in a group deciding to investigate the Outpost for any signs of the boy. Whilst there, many of the adventurers reported hearing metallic whispers, and then a series of strange events happened.

Several of the adventurers in the area lost control of themselves in a variety of ways. Nosebleeds abounded, and this seemed to indicate being affected by the odd magical interference taking place. Balantine's actions were of particular interest. He became unable to control his actions and began attacking comrades at random, as well as himself until he was incapacitated.

After some time, one member of the party, Alasatia, burst into flames. Nearly everyone in her vicinity also caught fire, and some fled to put out their own flames and heal. The only reported death was Dirra, and Aurach later revealed that not everyone caught fire, though he could not account for why.

Sometime later, many received visions of the missing boy wandering through the streets of the Landing, with blue pupil-less eyes and weeping blue fluids from his eyes. He was spotted heading for the North Gate, and by the time Irar's group arrived, he was dead. Empaths and clerics attended to him, but there was nothing that could be done.

Not too long after, Jimmy's body started weeping more blue fluid and began to twitch. Suddenly, rift worms burst from his corpse, but were quickly slain by the large group present at the gate. Afterwards, adventurers again split up, Irar's group went to monitor the Outpost, but were recalled when reports of Ithzir scouts in the small park in the Landing were made.

Immediately upon arrival, witnessing a short battle between Ithzir and Landing residents, Irar and all present were sucked into a rift. Irar had been wounded in the exchange, and took some time to find his way out of the rift, and by the time he exited, a battle had taken place at the orphanage. According to the guard there, many of the orphans were abducted by Ithzir.

Irar never witnessed the orphans' retrieval, if they ever were.

Sometime after, the storms ended and the Landing was clear of Ithzir and conflict.

by Irar, TownCrier Correspondent

Surofee Returns Home!

Posted 14 April 2016

Councilwoman Surofee returned to Wehnimer's Landing early this morning after some prolonged business in Vornavis. Members of the town council and local citizens quickly filled her in on recent events surrounding the missing children from the orphanage.

At the initial abduction, nine children were taken by the Ithzir. To date, three orphans, a boy and two girls, have been rescued out of yellow crystalline cocoons in Slither Creek inside the Graveyard. The children were alive, but now had blue veins along their skin, and it's rumored the boy demonstrated some alarming levels of telepathy and magic. For their safety, and that of the town, the children are currently under watch by Hendoran soldiers in the pavilion in the grasslands, near the area of the missing Outpost until they can be proven not to be dangerous.

Meanwhile, security has been increased at the orphanage where the dozens of other orphans are safely monitored by additional guards and hired staff. The archmage Pherantyr and councilman Pylasar are working on applying magical wards to the area to help disrupt any magical attacks or teleportation. Surofee was not available for questions and has completely engrossed herself in the safety of the orphans and encourages the adventurers not to give up hope on those still unaccounted for.

Someone Order Some More Hendorans?

Posted 18 April 2016

Sir Michol has sent word to the Mayor and Town Council of Wehnimer's Landing that additional Hendoran troops will be arriving by tomorrow night in the area. They're expected to remain in a few camps setup within the grasslands, but overflow will surely take up the town's offer in housing them in the local barracks and other sites.

Sir Michol will also be addressing what role he and his remaining, and new arriving men, may offer in the cause of bringing the missing Hendorans home, and putting a stop to the Ithzir invasion.

The Plan

Posted 20 April 2016

The plan as presented by Pylasar (best he can) last night is as follows:

  • If enough good plinite, or weaker lower-quality plinite can be obtained, then two of the mana pylons will be converted into, as Pylasar dubbed them "plin-lons!". The conversion, or, transporting of this raw elemental power into the pylons will need to be conducted by wizards. In addition, the pylons will still need to be manned and fueled with mana, aimed and fired. This step is being done because Pylasar warned that if the Ithzir activate enough of their pylons in our world, they will no longer need the mana storm/rift that is currently giving them access, or it may not close at all because of their pyramids. The "plin-lons" are expected to more easily devastate the pyramids than as previously tried.
  • Using the Red Talisman to connect with the Ithzir portal will require the skill and power of those more experience in planar travel, such as sorcerers. Having knowledge of the spell Planar Shift may not necessarily be required, as sorcerers are often the beneficiaries of innate power, so all wishing to help are welcome.
  • Once the Red Talisman's power connects with the Ithzir portal, or in conjunction to the effort, healers or those with empathic nature, to help try to locate any living Hendorans on the Ithzir plane to better direct the opening of the portal on the other side, otherwise it may become impossible to find them in the other world in time.
  • During all activity, there is expected to be a heavy need for both defense, and offense, and those who can best do both in the field of battle will be required often.
  • Tonight (Wed) there is rumor of a possible heist that may or may not occur in trying to obtain some powerful plinite. If that operation does not happen, or is not successful, there are still a number of people trying to collect undisturbed plinite from the Confluence to help charge up two pylons.
  • The rescue attempt for the Hendorans is expected to occur Night of the Huntress (Fri night). There are contingency plans in place should certain individuals deem the Hendorans infected or otherwise transformed by the Ithzir, and could pose a danger to the town if brought back.
  • Pylasar explained that per Vynessa's research on Grishom's notes, the powerful mana storm around Melgorehn's Reach is set to end the eve of Feastday (Sat night). The storm will be the post powerful before it's conclusion, and it's suspected the Ithzir plan to take advantage of the widening rift and place their obsidian pyramids to anchor their world to ours, giving them all they need to maintain access and conquer.
  • Buy deeds.

Epilogue

Posted 26 April 2016

Part 1

He sat with his back to the wall.

His eyes twitched and his left hand still trembled, making even drinking water a new challenge. He had scrubbed his face a thousand times since his return, but it didn't matter. He could still smell the blood. If he was fortunate enough to stomach some food, he even tasted the coppery odor in whatever he ate. His body ached with a hundred sores and he was beyond exhausted despite sleeping for days.

He heard voices outside. Some of them were locals he recognized immediately. Their attitudes were thankful, their words welcoming the return to normal.

Normal, he thought.

What was his new normal?

He heard more voices as well. Soldiers. His soldiers. Brothers from Hendor, but many of them strangers. They weren't the men who served him for years. They weren't the men who braved the hostilities of the frontier with him. They weren't the men who fought in the face of annihilation in the world of yellow skies. Most of those men were dead. He didn't even dare try to count how many of them died by his own blade.

He turned his eyes to his sword on a table across the room. Each speck of blood that was still caked to the blade signified his fallen brothers. Each splatter was the residue of macabre artwork that he could not push from his mind.

He heard footsteps approaching and immediately he flinched nervously, his hand instinctively going to an empty scabbard and his fingers fumbled for air. A familiar voice called from outside, "Sir Thadston?"

Inside the tent, a squire looked at him, never speaking, but his eyes inquiring. Sir Thadston shook his head, and the squire answered instead, "The commander is asleep. He will send for you when he wakes."

The visitor outside loudly sighed and marched off.

Part 2

In a world of infinite night, two feystone lights drifted endlessly.

She remembered a time of joy, of the heart and of flesh. She remembered the thrill of battle and the ecstasy of reveling in her victories over demons and extra planar beings. It was her life, and there was no higher honor. She remembered the maw of shadows, his beginning, and his end. She was there, wasn't she?

She remembered her name, or so she thought. What was it? Why suddenly was it escaping her? Did she ever know? How long had she walked the boundless dark? How many horrors had she already overcome? How much of her soul had been lost?

There it was again. The brilliant red light. She saw it, like a dozen times before. Or a hundred. Or a thousand, she could not remember. She was never certain how close she would get. At times it seemed so near, while other times it seemed an unsurmountable distance away.

But no matter which direction she turned, or fell, it would always burn back into existence. Glowing like a small red star. Beckoning to her, leading her home. What was home, she could not remember.

Her hand went to the fresh wound on her side. Another bite, but it no longer pained her. She did not even feel the sticky blood. Was she even hurt, she could not remember.

Then suddenly the bright red light vanished as if it fell from the sky. She spun, circling in the darkness, her eyes looking as far and wide as she could.

The beacon was gone.

Part 3

He stood with his face to the yellow sky.

Marvelous, he thought. Endless potential.

Ribbons of celadon light streamed across the sky like pale ethereal serpents. In every direction the ground was like glass, broken up only by jagged formations of crystalline shards. The horizon held a mountainous range the color of basalt. He inhaled, almost exhilarated by the strange, yet familiar coppery scent of the new world.

Behind him, the glow had disappeared, and with it the stone outpost vanished, likely returning to whence it came. He cursed for a moment, recalling the notes he left behind. A minor problem, which was no longer of any consequence. He heard a faint, almost childlike whimper.

"Please…release me…" It echoed in his mind.

"Silence!" He scowled, and the plea turned to silence.

He began to take a step forward when he heard some commotion. His deep sea blue eyes turned to spy a Hendoran soldier, huddled beneath a cluster of rocks, lying in wait for any new enemies approaching.

He smiled and approached the soldier, who immediately looked up and said, "Glethad?"

"Who? Oh, yes." The blue-eyed man smirked. He wave his hand and instantly felt the soldier's mind shrink, his will chained to his command. Like a devoted golem, the soldier rose to his feet and moved next to him, poised to protect him from any attackers.

Glethad smiled wide, "Shall we?"

The soldier nodded and followed the Master of Blood across the world of yellow skies.

See Also