Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
After a hearty breakfast of sausage, grubs, an arm and a bowl of syrup, the party forgot their dreams and headed out to find materials for Frank to work with. Outside the inn & tavern, Grizzly and Butterfly noticed a mass of smoke moving quickly and unnaturally through the shadows. Grizzly recognized it as a smoke elemental, which had been used as agents of the fire elemental army in the last war. Sy’Vah-esh added that they could also be useful informants of fire elemental activity and are sometimes friendly to her people.
The party set off in pursuit of the elemental and approached it when it stopped outside of Sarin’s tower. They learned it had come to these lands the same way Sy’Vah-esh had and that it had been following a fire elemental that had gone inside the tower. Concerned it might be up to something, the party proceeded into the tower and found everything inside slowly melting. They hurried down the long hallway to Sarin’s throne room but arrived only just in time to hear Sarin say, “There isn’t much time. We must hurry.” Then he and the fire elemental flew out of an opening Sarin created in the high ceiling and disappeared to the south.
The melting began to accelerate, so Frank attempted to carry the party out through the hole in the ceiling before it closed, but they couldn’t hold on. The party found themselves floating in darkness as the interior of the tower melted into nothingness. Hypothesizing that the appearance of the tower may be controlled by its inhabitants, the party successfully experimented with willing a flower, metal nut and eventually the front door to materialize. However, anything they created in the tower turned to dust once they took it outside.
Concerned that someone might just happen along and use the tower for nefarious purposes while Sarin was gone, Frank and Butterfly willed a guardian into being. Guided by their combined intentions, it took the form of an intelligent Sacred Flower. Interestingly, it did not disappear when they left the tower.
Wanting to finally get his inventing components, Frank went to a local smithy and purchased 10 light shields to convert for his purposes. Grizzly and Sy’Vah-esh wanted to go hunting outside of the city, but the other party members didn’t think this was a good idea, so Grizzly and his wife went to go spend some quality time together while Frank, Butterfly and Sy’Vah-esh returned to the tower.
When the three party members returned to the tower, they found it had been enveloped by vines with white blooms. The vines parted for them and they entered to see the inner hallway waiting for them once more with more vines running along the walls. The Guardian Flower greeted them and Butterfly decided to spend some time talking to it. Frank created an ultimate workbench and tools for himself and got to work on his elemental detector. Sy’Vah-esh created a little slice of home for herself in another room and enjoyed the peaceful familiarity of the wind blowing through her hair, at least until Frank needed to test his rather invasive (and phallic) probes on her.
The Guardian Flower told Butterfly that it was part of the tower and the tower was part of it. The Flower explained that the tower was formed from extra-dimensional fabric and that it also held many items of power and memories of its previous inhabitants. At her inquiry, The Flower told Butterfly that Sarin and the fire elemental had been discussing how the God of the Predators was in the Land of Fire trying to recruit new followers before they left. It then told Butterfly a story from the memories of one of the tower’s inhabitants:
There was once a ship of explorers, but the boat they sailed flew through the stars instead of on water. They discovered a world with a very unique and powerful magical nature and decided to explore it. However, a fierce storm rose up around their great ship with seemingly intelligent and malicious intent, and they crashed to the ground.
With their ship destroyed, the surviving crew found themselves marooned on this alien world. It was choked full of life both benign and ferocious, and beings of great elemental power also wandered the land. It was difficult to survive as the land and creatures seemed to be constantly changing. Plants grew and evolved unnaturally fast, the terrain seemed to be in a constant state of upheaval, prey seemed to immediately develop new ways to avoid being hunted, and predators seemed to keep getting better and better at killing them. In disagreement, they decided to split up – some heading towards the mountains and higher ground, some heading towards the sea and some staying in the lush forest where they had crashed.
The explorers who stayed in the forest did not last very long and soon there was only one remaining. Living in constant fear and starvation, the man was failing fast. He knew it was only a matter of time… until he suddenly came across a clearing in the dense woods. Not 10 yards away stood a magnificent elk stag. Beautiful, delicate white flowers bloomed where his hooves met the ground. The man fell to his knees, overcome with awe at the majesty of the creature before him. He seemed to instinctively know that he was in the presence of a god, and when their eyes met he felt a wave of compassion from the Great Stag.
Through cracked lips the man whispered, “Please… help… me.”
In his mind, Sarin heard the response, “What do you desire?”
To which he replied, “I just want to fly away from here. I want to go home.”
The Great Stag responded, “So be it. I will help you so that you can escape this place and the predators that seek to end you.” And he turned and walked away.
Filled with joy and hope Sarin managed to stand, but immediately fell to his knees once more. Pain doubled him over as his shoulder blades changed and elongated and muscles moved and stretched. Two great wings erupted from his back. Realizing he had been misunderstood, he tried to call out to the stag, but the god was either gone or simply couldn’t hear his weak cry. Weeping bitterly, Sarin fell to the ground and waited for death.
After hours of experimentation, Frank decided to scrap his dildo harness elemental detector design and go with an interactive map screen design (to the relief of Sy’Vah-esh), with which he located an elemental rift that opened immediately after another tremor. Proceeding into the sewers, the party went to the location of the fire rift but could not see it. It closed, so Frank switched the detector to locating elementals at the suggestion of Sy’Vah-esh, and saw a fire elemental at their location.
The party realized the detector was correct, they just weren’t far enough down, as a powerful fire elemental wearing metallic scale robes erupted into the sewer from below. Hoping to gain useful information, the party engaged the impatient elemental in some less-than-friendly conversation. It dodged their most important questions, however, and unsure of whose side the elemental was on, Frank pointed it in the correct direction towards home.
Butterfly suggested that Frank should use the detector to see if they could see where Sarin and the elemental he had been speaking with had gone, and it appeared they were heading towards the Elemental Lands, as well.
The party decided the miners causing the collapse of the underworld and possibly the rifts in the Obscura containing the Elemental Lands (and untold additional damage) were the most pressing threat, so they headed out across the Wildlands once more despite the late hour and lack of protection from The Watcher. As they traveled, the party encountered a group of strange, childlike, plump creatures playing in the mud at the side of the road. They turned out to be Gnaw Demons, and once they had injured Sy’Vah-esh, they swarmed on her in an increasing blood frenzy.
She could not be brought down, however, and the party dispatched the unpleasant beings then moved a mile down the road to make camp and tend their wounds. It wasn’t long, though, before they began to hear the sounds of howling. And as night descended around them, the howls started getting closer…