Sunday, May 11, 2014

D&D Session #39: We Climbed Aboard Their Starship and Headed for the Sky

The party managed to cross the river safely, though no doubt many hundreds of others died at the ferry crossing. And that's to say nothing of the untold thousands in the human kingdoms beyond.

The part rested a while with the city of the elves in sight. Akito stood watch as the others passed out, exhausted, on the road, which was crowded with refugees.

Naturally, though, they were not able to rest long. As it turned out, the river did not seem to slow the titans at all.

The party gathered its things, being altogether more calm about moving on than many of the other refugees were. The countless humans and elves nearby ran with abandon, literally: many left their belongings, and at least one person left behind a child, who was wandering around aimlessly and crying.

Things were not much better at the gates of the elven city: soldiers stood at the gates, weapons drawn, forcing the crowds to go around the city. Everyone was being turned away, elf and human alike. Nearby bodies proved that the soldiers were deadly serious, and still more bodies lying motionless at the walls proved that attempting to climb over wouldn't work either.

The party attempted to bypass the blockade using Sonny as their ticket inside, but the attempt failed: the soldiers were adamant and unfazed by any attempt at diplomacy.

Ere-sat contacted Kirtan, who was apparently within the city, to come and pick them up at the gate. He replied that he was on his way, but he was being held up.

Eventually, as distant screams heralded the arrival of the titans, the soldiers lost patience with the party, ordering them to stop standing around and move along. After some futile gestures at the guards' expense, the party joined the throng of refugees skirting the edge of the city.

After walking for a while, the party watched their airship fly out of the city toward the gate. Then, as it apparently realized that the party was not there, it began to follow the crowds. After John Freeman shot a couple of Magic Missiles across the bow, the ship stopped and dropped a rope ladder.

As the party began to climb up, the familiar voice of Helvetica called from the deck: "I told ya you'd be back!"

As Akito and Ere-sat struggled to figure out a way to get Webdings onto the ship, several nearby refugees attempted to climb up the rope ladder to the apparent safety of the airship, despite the fact that they had never seen an airship before in their lives. Noticing the problem, Tyriron began to scream from the deck that, "OH GODS THEY'RE KILLING US UP HERE! SAVE YOURSELVES!"

The ruse worked: all but one of the climbers hastily dropped to the ground. The party decided that the one who kept going, whether he saw through Tyriron's ruse or was prepared to face danger, was worth keeping around. So, the well-armed half-elf was welcomed onto the ship.

Meanwhile, Akito managed to tie a rope around Webdings and decided to hope for the best--once Akito and Ere-sat boarded the ship began to gain altitude, pulling along the incredibly frightened spider. Webdings survived the take off, luckily, and with Robert's help Akito managed to pull the spider up and onto the deck.

As it turned out, the ship was quite full, since apparently most of Sonny's family, the Quarks, were aboard, as well as the Quarks' human servants. As Helvetica explained, they were all on their way to a particular star: a steadily blinking point of light in the daytime sky. That was where Sonny's father, Tellis Quark, believed he would meet up with his dead wife.

The party naturally thought he was insane.

Still, the ship oriented itself toward that star and took off, leaving the green land behind. Soon the jungles of the Fire Realm faded into the distance, and the ship was surrounded on all sides once again by the endless greenish-blue of the sky. Time seemed to stand still, as there were no real landmarks by which to gauge their speed and no night to balance the day.

On the deck, Tellis Quark looked ahead, always, toward the star. Yotsu, the last orc, looked always backward, toward his home which was no more. An entire realm destroyed--including, no doubt, the elves' kingdom by now. And for what? What was it all for?

Meanwhile, the party got an update from Kirtan: after they left the ship to explore the Fire Realm, he eventually headed down into the jungle below, where he observed the massive green dragons that made the jungle their home. Eventually, though, he returned to the ship, not wanting it to be discovered by the locals. He decided to trust the party to accomplish their task.

After a couple of months, though, the ship was attacked by titans, and Kirtan had to escape. Despite his god-like powers, he was not able to kill them, so he took off and went in search for the party. Having had no contact with them, he did not know where to begin. Still, given the catastrophe of the titans, he decided to throw caution to the wind and fly over populated areas.

That was when he saw Tellis Quark's fireworks and decided to investigate, hoping it was the party trying to reach him. It was not, but Helvetica was there and told Kirtan that the party would be coming back, bringing doom in their wake. When he received the party's message that they were at the elven gates, Helvetica wouldn't allow him to leave until all of Tellis's family and servants were aboard. The only person who refused to come was Sonny's eldest sister, who didn't like Helvetica, Kirtan, the airship, the party, or anything to do with any of them.

For what it's worth, Kirtan didn't know what to make of Helvetica either. Like the party, he entertained the idea that Helvetica may be a Ma'ari, but he didn't give Kirtan that impression. Then again, he hadn't suspected Miles of being Ma'ari either, so he didn't know what to think.

Anyway, the plan was to drop the passengers off somewhere, then return to the Nexus. They had been gone quite long enough. They would spend a few days tryign to reach this "star" of theirs, then turn around and find them a relatively safe-looking place to get out and start anew. Or leave them to the titans. Whatever.

The party was allowed to bring their pet spider to the Nexus and maybe one other person. The party seemed interested in taking that tough-looking half-elf that climbed onto the ship after Tyriron's warning.

The ship traveled through the endless sky at speeds that Kirtan assured everyone was "very fast." He would have turned around after a while, but their only companion in the sky, the sun, seemed to get closer for a while, then, slowly, they passed it. All the while, the star in the distance was getting steadily brighter and larger.

Meanwhile, there was some conflict aboard the ship as the humans, led by none other than Robert, argued with the elves, led by Sonny's younger sister Meganalia. The humans were taking care of themselves: cooking and cleaning as needed. The elves, used to their slavery, were expecting the humans to care for them as well, but they refused.

Sonny and Zelda, now openly together, tried to convince everyone to work together, but it just left them ostracized by everyone.

The party came down hard on the side of the humans, concocting a unique brand of psychological torture, which they visited upon Meganalia. Somehow their plan worked, as when their torture caused Meg to break down Robert was there to comfort her. The next "day" they found Meg in the kitchen, cooking.

Eventually, the sky in front of the ship began to grow greener. The green slowly resolved into jungles, rivers, and lakes much like the ones the party had just left. They had once again found land.

The light of the star turned out to be coming from the top of a large beacon inside of a huge, walled city on top of a mountain--a mountain of stone and dirt, no less.

Upon seeing the city, Kirtan veered away from it, fearing it to be a Ma'ari stronghold. Having a city that served a dual function as a star seemed like just the sort of pompous nonsense Kirtan expected of the Ma'ari.

He landed a few miles away and, as the passengers disembarked, Kirtan made an offer to the party: if they would go investigate the city, he would ensure that they received one additional tattoo as a reward, beyond whatever, the Lord of the Nexus would bestow upon them. The party agreed and prepared to investigate the "star."

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