Stoners

Into The Heart of Darkness

Old Allies Reunite…

Elemental army

Around 300 years ago, Frank worked with the Azers, a group of fire-infused descendants of dwarves who had once been enslaved by fire elementals long ago, to develop weapons that were instrumental in defeating a new attacking fire elemental army. In this battle, he met a young Azer Battle Sphere driver named Fargrim. Although usually a gnome of few words (if only), Frank told stories about the Heart of the World, said to be a rift to the planes and the source of the massive elemental energy of this world.

With the energy crystals the Azers use to power their inventions becoming scarce, Fargrim decided to seek out this Heart, but instead discovered Frank and his companions down a prairie dog hole. With some assistance from the Prairie Dog, a monk Master of the Earth, the party was brought above ground once more and Fargrim discovered they had somehow shut down the Heart. Worse yet, they told him that the Heart was the source of the energy crystals and wasn’t producing them anymore, plus another type of magical crystal which comprises the underworld and holds afterlives is also at risk.

After some discussion with the monk elders of the monastery, two ideas surfaced about what might be causing the tremors and potential collapse of the underworld: the mining efforts of the animal cities to the West or rifts opening, possibly being caused by fire elementals trying to get out again and possibly connected to the planned assassination of the Fire Prince.

Fargrim decides he’d better stick with the group and the party set off in search of materials to allow Frank to invent a tool to locate the rifts that seem to be opening up. Butterfly reminded them of an enchanted cave to the North that might be a good source of powerful metals and it became their first stop.

Frank and Grizzly have been inside this cave before. 300 years ago, it was the home and cage of the last remnant of the Goddess of the Sea. Although she and her guardian are now gone, Grizzly discovered that the walls of the cave still weep actual tears for her betrayal and imprisonment. Considering this, Frank decided that it might not be a good idea to obtain any raw minerals from this location.

…And Old Enemies Remember

Hieroglyphics

The party decided to head to the nearest city instead, the Dragonkin city at the center of the jungle. On the way, Butterfly discovered beautiful flowers with nectar that produced a euphoric effect. She managed to stop herself before drinking too much, but Grizzly, who thought this nectar sounded great, drank a great deal and seemed to start suffering from a powerful drug addiction. Concerned, Frank tried to take the flowers from him and was thanked by a vicious strike from Grizzly. Having gotten a hold on the flowers, however, Frank flies away with them and Grizzly eventually shakes the effects of the nectar.

The commotion had attracted the attention of other jungle residents, though, so as the party proceeded deeper into the jungle, they walked right into a Spider Monkey ambush. The multi-armed simians pelted Frank with jungle juice bombs that incapacitated him, then tried to stick the other party members to the trees with webbing so they could take Frank into the underbrush and eat him. Frank fought off his paralysis, however, and flew into the sky, flinging monkeys into the jungle as the other party members quickly dispatched the monkeys below.

A Dragonkin scout had seen the fighting and took them safely to the city. Unfortunately, the historian they sought out in the great pyramid at the center of the city remembered Grizzly and the crimes he committed against their old queen, an ancient red dragon. After some tense moments and poorly chosen words, Fargrim handed over his precious Life Blood Crystal and the party was allowed to safely leave the city.

Failing to obtain metal components once more, the party headed deeper into the Wildlands. The first town they came to had a wall of fire guarding it from the dangers that roamed the Wildlands. Although the guard seemed friendly, the smithy there seemed suspicious of the party’s open ties to the monks and intentions to create technology reminiscent of the animal cities to the west, so the party had to move on once more.

They continued on towards the largest city in the Wildlands, the City of a Thousand Skulls. The road is long, however, and night falls while they’re in the middle of nowhere – a very dangerous place to be at night in the Wildlands. Grizzly consulted a vulture passing by overhead and learned that something was watching them in the growing darkness that seemed to be scaring everything else away. Butterfly scanned the growing shadows around them in search of a mental presence and located someone, whom she invited to join their camp.

A shadow separated from the darkness that Frank and Grizzly recognized. The Watcher had taken notice of their arrival in the Wildlands again, and seemed to take particular interest in Butterfly. As she exchanged information with him, however, it seemed this time he knew less than the party, so he offered to take them to someone who should know more.

The Watcher led the party safely across the dark lands to the grim walls of the city. After disabling the senses of the night guards, he let the party through the gates and took them to the dark tower at the center of the city. Once the home of the evil tyrannical ruler of the Wildlands, the tower now housed another familiar figure for Frank and Grizzly, Sarin.

The imposing figure of the undead angel sat on the Grey Ghost’s old throne and welcomed them with his unnerving, eternal smile. Grizzly showed him open animosity, but Butterfly welcomed conversation with him. If his words could be trusted, Sarin confirmed that the technologically advanced animals to the West were causing the subterranean instability because of their increasingly desperate drilling.

The next question the party faced, then, was what to do about it. Sarin tells the party that elemental energy could be drained from the Elemental Lands to recharge the Heart and allow it to heal the world. As this could have devastating consequences to her homeland, though, Sy’Vah-esh did not seem thrilled by this suggestion. Fargrim suggested that perhaps they should just turn the Heart back on, however that’s done. It could repair the world and start producing crystals again, which his people also rely on. Frank was hesitant about that idea having worked so hard to bring the gods back into the world and stated that it wasn’t that simple. He explained that when the Heart was pumping there were no gods, and vice versa, and that the gods might be better for keeping the peace than the constant threat of incursions from the Elemental Planes. His suggestion that the gods were interchangeable with the power in the Heart also indicated that perhaps the power to heal the world might already be present with the help of the gods.

Exhausted, the party left the tower and found an Inn & Tavern that was still open to rest the remaining few hours of the night. In the darkness of this strange land, the party all dreamed vivid dreams. Were they memories, portents of things to come or perhaps just fantasy?

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It's Starting To Fall Apart

Ripples In The Air

Glittering ripples1

On her way to investigate rumors of a plot to kill the Fire Prince, Sy’Vah-esh noticed strange waves in the very elemental fabric of her land, like ripples in a pond. Having never felt or seen such a thing before, she followed them to their epicenter and discovered what seemed to be a crack… in nothing. Although the Land of Air seemed to continue far beyond this point, her outstretched hand could feel an invisible wall with no apparent end. Tracing the cracks, she noticed they seemed to be growing until the wall suddenly shattered away from her, violently pulling her into the darkness beyond.

She found herself falling through some sort of tunnel. There seemed to be no natural illumination, but when the elemental energy from her land came spilling in with her and came into contact with the walls, they lit up with a brilliant glow and she could see that they appeared to be comprised of gray crystal.

The walls of the tunnel parted into a massive space so vast that she could not see any sides, only darkness. After falling for what seemed like an eternity, she was swept up by an invisible force and sent careening out through another tunnel opening. Twisting and turning through a series of tunnels, she finally rolled to a stop on the stone floor of yet another tunnel. Lost and confused, she heard noises and saw light up ahead…

Can’t We All Just Tinker Along?

Work shop

Happily tinkering on his next great invention in his workshop, Frank felt a tremor and heard a loud cracking sound outside. Looking out the window, he saw a great crack spread across the sky. From it’s edges bled red energy, turning the sky crimson before there was a brilliant light and then everything went dark…

Who Is Hunting Who?

Elk

Silently racing through a forest, Grizzly and New Moon were closing in on the elk stag they had been tracking when they felt a tremor and heard a loud cracking sound. Looking up, they saw a great crack spread across the sky. From it’s edges bled red energy, turning the sky crimson before there was a brilliant light and then everything went dark…

Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Prairie Dog

Prairie dog

As Butterfly chatted with her friends, Hawk and Prairie Dog, along the edge of the Great Rift, a surprise tremor interrupted the three monks’ conversation. Sending his senses through the earth, Prairie Dog suddenly shouted, “Intruders!” and sent Hawk to warn the monk elders.

Diving into the chasm, Prairie Dog and Butterfly rapidly descended the 100 feet to the bottom and burrowed down into the ground. Emerging into a tunnel, they faced three animal miners with a mechanical drilling device. Seeing the monks, the miners attempted to flee since they were forbidden to enter this sacred area, but Butterfly sent one of them sprawling to the ground so that he could be questioned as Prairie Dog destroyed the mining device.

While Prairie Dog guarded their prisoner, Butterfly inspected the wall the miners had been excavating. They appeared to have uncovered a massive Life Blood Crystal with a large humanoid arm hanging limply from the broken crystalline structure. As Butterfly peered at the body encased within the crystal, the elders arrived and assisted with removing it from the wall and tearing it open.

Within the crystal were two Goliaths, Grizzly and New Moon, laying entwined in each others embrace. Behind the spot where the first crystal had been, the elders found a second crystal with another humanoid inside. Cracking that crystal open, they found a Tinker Gnome with a mechanical arm cradling a strange machine with a circle of blades. Once cracked apart, the crystals lost their red color and became dull grey.

Having been working in a distant workshop or hunting Elk seemingly moments before, Frank, Grizzly and New Moon opened their eyes in confusion. Mongoose, Head of the Monastery, recognized them immediately. Although he’d last seen them about 300 years ago when he was a young student at the monastery, they didn’t look like they’d aged a day. The trio had no idea how they had come to be in the crystals and had difficulty remembering what had happened to them, especially since that same day the monk had last seen them. Mongoose attempted to help them remember some of the important events that had transpired, including the raising of the gods, the aversion of a war and the relocation of the Goliath tribes to the Wildlands.

Having been drawn by their voices and the light from the smoldering excavation device, Sy’Vah-esh approached the group seeking answers about how and why she had been brought to this place, but it was as much of a mystery as the others’ situation. After Sy’Vah-esh described her journey here, Mongoose sends Butterfly to assist Frank, Grizzly and New Moon in their investigation of what had happened to Sy’Vah-esh and Butterfly glows to light the way back down the tunnel.

The party found themselves winding through numerous intersecting tunnels attempting to find the path Sy’Vah-esh had traveled. Eventually they found a tunnel coated in the grey crystals she had seen. When Grizzly touched one of the crystals, his body fell lifeless to the stone floor. New Moon rushed to her husband’s side as Butterfly attempted to connect with his mind. However, her mind was simply transported to where his had gone and she also fell to the ground.

Grizzly found himself at the edge of a forest on a cobblestone path leading up to an old cottage. An old human woman came out of the cottage and greeted him, welcoming him to her afterlife. Distrustful of the situation and most humans, Grizzly attempted to intimidate the old woman and gain some answers, but she forcefully projected him away from her cottage into the forest where he collided with Butterfly.

Meanwhile, New Moon had been calling out to her husband, and with the help of her healing magic, he managed to follow her voice out of the crystal and the old woman’s afterlife with Butterfly following close behind. Hearing of the old woman, Butterfly decided to go back into her afterlife to speak with her further and learned that the party appeared to have found the Underworld and that the grey crystals hold different individuals’ afterlives. The old woman also told her that there was a guardian of the Underworld who might have more answers, but to be careful not to anger it.

Butterfly returns to the tunnel to fill the party in when they suddenly hear a screaming sound and see a black substance shooting down the tunnel rapidly towards them. They fled back the way they had originally come but the blob was obviously flying faster than they could move so Frank turned his strange bladed machine towards it and blasted the black ooze to a halt with powerful winds.

They discovered it was an Acid Elemental who had followed a similar course as Sy’Vah-esh, and after trading not-so-friendly words with it, the party suggests the elemental touch one of the magical crystals. Instead, it throws a glob of acid at some of the crystals, destroying them. That seemed to catch the attention of the guardian, however, which suddenly and violently destroyed the Acid Elemental.

Sy’Vah-esh and Butterfly attempted to communicate with the guardian, but its powerful mind overwhelmed them. They did manage to learn that the Underworld was in danger of collapsing before losing consciousness, however.

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