Can't Take the Sky

Session 1

Logday 1 through 6
Toiling, Maidenflight 10, 424 FY

Day dawns over Västernorr as a traveling knight by the name of Sir Albion Sheol comes to the gates. The guards grant entry to Albion, and after he asks for the location of the inn, he is directed to Sid’s Grub, Gas, and Grotto.

It seems a reasonably well-appointed, popular place with all manner of regulars and travelers there. As he breakfasts, a huddled, cloaked figure shuffles to the bar and posts something on the bulletin board. He briefly speaks to Sid before jumping on a table and announcing he has a job for any adventurers who are interested.

His threadbare clothes, ample bags, and deformed countenance mark him as a mutant scavenger from the Wastelands, likely from the nearby Phobetor.

Albion answers his summons, as do five others. Sin Tsunami the centaur and Stiletto Typhoon the elf, traveling companions and comrades-in-arms, approach the table, as do Ibrahim “Smoochie” Ogden the hunter and Rukk Kippel the wizard, both travelers from other realms. Ulek Uurtag, a half-orc cleric from Oerth, also answers the call.

The mutant introduces himself as Clash Ghostchanter and indicates that his mission is fairly simple: he wishes to speak with Professor Dinatima Chaosdreamer regarding some old drowtech he has scavenged in the Phobetor. However, she has had enough run-ins with mutants that she does not fully trust them, so he wants a few people to travel with him to show that he is not totally amoral. He will pay 200 gp for this service. All six adventurers agree to go, and so they begin walking to the tower where she works and lives. As they walk, Clash Ghostchanter whistles and a large, eight-foot tall robot emerges from a side street. It carries a satchel; Clash explains that he was not about to carry that much money and equipment unguarded.

When they arrive, they find the door unlocked and slightly ajar. Everybody readies their weapons and enters the tower. The building appears to have been roughly searched; in particular, Professor Chaosdreamer’s workspace has been tossed and signs of a struggle are evident. On the wall, there is a message written in charcoal. It reads:

Swing the hammer
Smash the walls
Grind their bones
And break their balls

A bloody thumbprint has been pressed against the wall beneath the message.

Rukk magically analyzes the wall, but can find no evidence of magic. Additionally, the group cannot really determine if anything was stolen; Chaosdreamer’s notes seem to relate either to drow history or technology, and it is not immediately obvious if any were taken.

Unable to find more information, the group heads outside and Albion begins questioning those passing by. He can only find vague notations that a group of people with a drow woman passed through, but nothing further is evident. Ibrahim attempts to track them, but to no avail.

With nothing further, the group notifies the town watch. They explain all they know and aid the watch in its investigation, but it is not long before the guardsmen send them on their way.

Once back outside, Clash Ghostchanter says that he can pay the group, or he can offer the technological item he was trying to identify if the group wishes it. It is evidently some manner of drowtech rifle, but would need someone’s attention.

The group takes the money.

After dividing the sum — Albion and Ulek refuse payment — Ulek wanders toward the market. Albion decides to see if he can investigate anymore, and then decides to find Ulek to see if she can aid in his investigations. Sin Tsunami and Stiletto Typhoon return to Sid’s Gas, Grub, and Grotto. Ibrahim and Rukk also return to Sid’s, but sit outside.

Albion manages to find Ulek, and wonders if they could find further information at the library. During the course of the conversation, it occurs to Ulek that the chant and drop of blood seem somewhat similar to markings of Erythnul’s worshippers, although Erythnul is an Oerth deity not native to Rockulon Prime. They discuss the possibility of researching further at a library, but being unable to read, Albion decides against it. He returns to the inn while Ulek moves on to find a library.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim and Rukk see a trio walking toward the inn. One appears to be a blonde elf woman in leather armor, armed with two swords and a longbow. Another appears to be a dark-haired human male in velvet and leather, covered in potion bandoliers; he has the look of a wizard about him. The last is an armored woman with draconic features bearing an ornate sword. As they approach, Rukk inquires about some local phenomenon or other, but they indicate that they are foreign. Rukk inquires further, and learns that they are from a distant world known as Khaldun, and though they have access to a spelljammer, they traveled here by portal. Rukk is quite interested and starts discussing planar theory with the wizard as the elf notes that they are seeking adventurers for a job, and if they wish to join them in the tavern, they can explain the details. Ibrahim and Rukk follow.

Once inside Sid’s, Rukk and the wizard continue to talk while the elf speaks with Sid and then posts a sign on the bulletin board. Stiletto, seeing the job, joins them, although Sin Tsunami notes the draconic woman and decides to hang back. As the elf begins explaining things, Albion joins the group and listens.

The elf introduces herself as Darrath Wolfsbane; her companions are the human alchemist Thorry Daleborn and the dragonborn swordmage Zinnanys Ankarv. They are operating on behalf of a group known as the Zookeepers, an anti-slaving organization. They come from the world of Khaldun by way of a planar portal that opened above their world; the other end joins to a portal high above Rockulon Prime. They discovered the portal with the help of a Rockulon native by the name of Dr. Dagger Nazareth.

Regardless, there is another gate between Khaldun and Rockulon Prime. It opens into the tower of the so-called Lord Vau, scant miles from Västernorr. This gate allows a slaver organization to make trades between Khaldun and Rockulon Prime, allowing the slaving syndicate from Khaldun to expand its operations significantly. They do not know if Lord Vau is native to Khaldun or Rockulon Prime, and for that matter, know relatively little about things on the Rockulon Prime side of the portal. They know that the gate connects on the Khaldun side to an organized crime facility, and that some notable personages occasionally visit Lord Vau’s tower from Khaldun. As they traveled through the portal by spelljammer, they have managed to fly over the site. Lord Vau’s tower also appears to be operating a nearby mine; the Zookeepers are not precisely certain what they are mining, but they have seen precious gems. They may be mining other materials in addition to gems, however.

Additionally, Lord Vau’s tower appears to have some manner of spelljammer parked atop it, although nobody particularly recognized the design.

The group estimates roughly a hundred individuals at both sites. The primary objective is to close the portal, with a secondary objective of liberating the prisoners. The Zookeepers feel that if they can liberate one location, they can liberate the other with greater ease. For the group’s aid in closing the gate and helping liberate the slaves, they are offering 2,000 gold pieces; 500 gp up front with 1,500 gp upon completion. The group also gets salvage rights to anything in Lord Vau’s tower.

Albion, Ibrahim, Rukk, and Stiletto agree to the terms.

The Zookeepers give the group the day to prepare, saying they will depart in the morning. Stiletto tells Sin about the job, and introduces her to the Zookeepers. [Evan] likewise tracks down Ulek, and informs her of the job. The group spends the rest of the day making certain all supplies are in order.

Albion, Ibrahim, Rukk, Sin, Stiletto, and Ulek meet with the Zookeepers — Darrath Wolfsbane, Thorry Daleborn, and Zinnanys Ankarv — the next morning and depart for Lord Vau’s tower.

On foot, the trip takes a little under three and a half days, and is relatively uneventful. When they sight the tower, they decide to retreat and wait for nightfall.

The group waits until midnight to approach the tower. Four smaller, wooden towers are placed at even intervals around the main tower. Each bears four torches and two guards armed with crossbows stand upon each tower. The main tower is composed of stone and roughly sixty feet tall and four or five hundred feet across. There are two, small windows — each of which billows smoke — and only one door.

The group discusses their options, and decides to create a diversion and enter the front door. Rukk conjures an Unseen Servant to ascend the towers and start knocking off torches in the hopes of setting the towers ablaze. One such tower is set on fire, and the guards split up and flee to notify the other towers. As Rukk does so, however, Sir Albion Sheol decides to charge off into the tower. After several attempts, he batters the front door open. In the commotion, however, the two guards on the nearest tower hear the noise and fire into the darkness. He responds by rushing up the tower and meeting them halfway. He slashes one across the chest, felling him, while the other is surprised by one of Stiletto’s arrows catching him in the neck. Albion charges up the rest of the staircase at the sound of another guardsman, and forces him to surrender. The man quickly does and Albion drags him back down to the group.

Disgusted at the display of bravado, Ulek moves away from the group to sit in the grass and contemplate. Darrath Wolfsbane opens the man’s shirt and notes the tattoo on his left shoulder, marking him as a slave. She chastises Albion for treating the guards so harshly.

Meanwhile, Rukk has been quietly moving around the guard towers, attempting to set fires. Three of the four catch fire, and the guards flee into the tower to alert the others. Rukk takes the opportunity to peek into the open door but is spotted by two of the crossbowmen. He responds by pulling out a bottle, speaking a command word, and pointing the bottle forward as it starts issuing smoke. The crossbowmen respond by shooting bolts at him.

He is penetrated by quarrels and falls to the ground. The bottle continues to smoke next to him.

As the men reload and start walking over to Rukk, Albion appears out of the darkness and lays hands upon him. The crossbowmen are surprised by the armed paladin and the revived wizard, and surrender.

The two guardsmen are brought back to the group, and it is explained that they are being liberated. With three guard slaves in the group, they begin asking about the tower’s defenses. They say that there are roughly a hundred men here, but that Lord Vau keeps some manner of monster — an Umber Hulk — on the fifth floor. Armed with this information, the group decides to enter the tower.

The tower’s interior appears to be made out of stone blocks. The halls and rooms are illuminated by electric lights attached to the walls and ceilings. The group proceeds to begin searching the first floor for supplies and the stairs. The group manages to avoid guard patrols while searching the first block of rooms, finding only a lavatory with electric pumps. Albion asks the slaves where to find an armory, and they explain where the armory is located, while also recommending that the group avoids the barracks.

The group continues to search the first floor. Although they manage to evade any guards, they do enter a room with two abandoned minecarts, stuffed with gems. The minecarts are guarded by four creatures that appear to be crossbreeds of wolves and chickens. The creatures savagely attack the interlopers, but the assembled party manages to defeat the wolf-creatures — which they term “wolf-a-doodle-doos” — and raid the minecarts. The group proceeds to the armory without incident. The slaves are certain to restock crossbow bolts and grab bucklers and clubs, while Ibrahim takes the lone arquebus along with powder and shot. Nobody else sees any equipment they wish to grab, so they continue on their way.

The group continues down hallways and finds themselves facing the stairs to the second level.

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Session 2

Logday 6 through 7
Learning, Maidenflight 15, 424 FY

Sir Albion Sheol, Ibrahim “Smoochie” Ogden, Rukk Kippel, Sin Tsunami, Stiletto Typhoon, Ulek Uurtag, along with three liberated slaves and the three ZookeepersDarrath Wolfsbane, Thorry Daleborn, and Zinnanys Ankarv — find themselves before the stair leading to the second story of Lord Vau’s tower. They plan briefly, and Albion suggests that they should try to recruit the slaves. The group returns to the first floor and seeks the barracks. Finding no one within, they return to the stairs, ascend them, and open the door. The room has two guardsmen within, talking.

They immediately move to attention and attack, but Albion talks them down, saying that the group is a team of liberators. They are convinced, particularly when they notice the gathering crowd behind him. They deign to let the group pass.

Albion asks about any further treasures or people on this floor, and one of the slaves — whom he learns is named Edge Typhoon, no relation to Stiletto — notes that there is a gemcutter. The group wanders through the tower without incident until encountering the gemcutter and associated guard. Albion gives them the same pitch he has begun giving the others, and although they do not join him, they let the group pass unmolested.

Edge Typhoon then directs the group to the stairs leading to the third story. He notes that they will pass through the mess hall, close to both the kitchen and the pantry. A few of them are interested in the pantry, particularly Ulek Uurtag, but the group decides to revisit it after the matter at hand is completed despite Ulek’s grumbling.

The group enters the mess hall just as a patrol of guards walks through the door leading to the stairwell. The two groups size each other up, and Albion explains their mission and offers to pay them if they join. The group jovially agrees, bringing their total to seventeen. The newly-formed gang starts tramping up the stairs.

The third floor is one of the group’s targets, leading to the portal that the Zookeepers wish to close. Once they open the door, they are greeted by significantly better surroundings as the walls and floor have been decorated by tapestries and rugs. The group is confronted by two guardsmen who are quickly convinced to join Albion’s cause. En route, two more are given the pitch and join. The group arranges itself and proceeds to face the guards before the portal.

As they burst through the door, they are confronted by four guardsmen, one of whom stoops on account of his enormously tall legs. Albion offers them the same chance at freedom, and they refuse. Battle is joined, and quickly goes poorly for the guardsmen. Within minutes, three are slain and the fourth surrenders and flees. Another group comes to investigate the ruckus, and seeing a twenty-one-man force and three corpses, decides to withdraw without comment.

The group enters an adjacent room and finds an open archway decorated with strange runes. The stonework inside the archway seems different than that without. Darrath pulls a fist-sized stone out of her pack and proceeds to make contact, saying they’ve found the archway. Both sides are about to be blown, and Thorry will establish contact when the liberation task is complete. She also notes the presence of the Umber Hulk, and after some discussion, she will go through the archway alone, leaving Thorry and Zinnanys behind to aid the party.

Darrath and Thorry then get to work, placing some manner of alchemical charges on the doorway. The group is sent back through a couple of doorways, and a few moments later, Thorry comes running through the same door. An explosion shakes the tower, and when everything settles, the group moves on. They open the door and are greeted by an enormous amount of smoke and dust. Thorry confirms the destruction of the archway, and the group moves forward.

After Albion makes his offer to a pair of guards, who deign to stay out of the way, the group ascends the stairs to the fourth floor. They travel through a room, a hallway, and finally enter another large room just as the door opens.

A large, bipedal creature bearing many chitinous armored plates, huge mandibles, and large claws enters the room. The group surmises the presence of the Umber Hulk, and at the advice of their peers, attempts to avoid its gaze.

Battle is chaotic, taking a couple of minutes to complete. The creature savages Albion, who manages to stay standing. Thorry uncorks a vial of thick, sticky, fiery liquid which creeps and crawls toward the creature, enveloping it. Zinnanys swings her sword, releasing a glittery cloud which blinds the creature. At this, a volley of arrows and crossbow bolts are aimed at the creature as the rest of the group enters into combat with it. Rukk is felled by the blinded, rampaging creature, although he is revived by Ulek’s actions. Edge Typhoon, however, is not so lucky, being ripped in half by the enraged thing. Seeing that their actions are wounding the creature, however, the group rallies and manages to slay the beast, finally killing it with a shot from Ibrahim’s arquebus. Albion takes a few moments to express sorrow for the fallen before proceeding to sever the thing’s arm so that he can present it to the slaves as proof that the Umber Hulk is dead. As he does so, a group of guardsmen enter the room, see the proceedings, and decide to leave the room without incident.

The group finds its way to a large room that looks to be partially a sitting room and partially a laboratory. Two guardsmen flank a third figure, mohawked and armored and bearing a large cannister where his left leg should be. The third figure, ostensibly Lord Vau, grabs a nearby pistol and projects thoughts in the heads of the interlopers, telling them to surrender and referring to Lord Vau in the third person, suggesting he is not truly Lord Vau. As he brandishes the firearm, the group sets upon him.

Lord Vau fires four shots at Albion as the group advances. One hits, critically wounding Albion. Thorry runs forward to pour a healing potion down his throat. The rest of the group sets to work on Vau’s guards and the man himself. The guards fall quickly, followed by Lord Vau himself.

Sin Tsunami immediately steals Lord Vau’s spiked pauldron for herself. A few other members of the group search around, finding a bedroom adjacent to this room. They find a lockbox containing coins and gems. Meanwhile, Rukk examines his notes and objects, and finds that a couple of the objects might be functional. One of them is a gas mask of some sort, while another is a curious-looking handle that Lord Vau suspects might be some manner of weapon, and a third is some manner of smoke grenade. Rukk takes the gas mask and notes the weapon handle, which Sin Tsunami takes.

While the group investigates Lord Vau’s laboratory, Ulek decides to go find the pantry. She retreats down the stairs and wanders briefly until she finds a bedroom with a wardrobe and small pantry. Determining that this is not the pantry she seeks, she wanders a bit more before determining that she doesn’t quite know where the pantry is, and decides to rejoin the group.

Together again, the group decides to investigate before hitting the fifth floor. They start looking through rooms, but they only find a room full of empty metal storage drums that reek of parrafin. Finally, when they are satisfied, they press forward and make their way to the fifth floor.

The group does not explore the fifth floor, merely following the directions of one of the slaves familiar with this floor. They are led through rooms and hallways until finding a well-appointed room with four guardsmen. An open archway leads to a similar room, and another door leads to an unknown locale. Albion speaks with the guardsmen and explains the group’s mission, and the guardsmen agree to not interfere. With that, the group bursts through the door.

Albion is met by some manner of study. A sumptuous rug, as well as a few chairs and a desk decorate the room. A lockbox sits atop the desk. Two portraits are also in the room — one shows a strange, spidery ship against a wildspace backdrop. The other shows a professional portrait of a strange, furred creature that looks something like a moray eel. The creature obviously posed for the portrait.

Standing in the room is a creature very similar to that noted in the painting. It has a spidery body with a neck and head similar to a moray eel. The creature’s fur has been braided with peacock feathers and has been dyed to similarly resemble peacock feathers.

As Albion senses the creature’s evil, there is no discussion. He charges at it, and though it bites him once, it is quickly slain by the combined might of the nineteen-man party.

After slaying the creature, Albion opens the lockbox and finds it to contain a few coins, some gems, and a gold ring with a black pearl. After a brief discussion, the group decides to follow Ulek down to the pantry. Once on the second floor, they find several weeks’ worth of foodstuffs — rations, mostly — along with some other provisions. They take some of the cheese and butter while Rukk takes some of the salt in the hopes of retrieving and preserving the Umber Hulk’s reproductive organs. The group then starts making trips to take supplies up to the roof.

Once there, the group sees a large, spider-like thing crouching on the roof. They quickly surmise it to be mechanical, and likely the spelljammer they heard about. They begin loading supplies into it. The group and the slaves also discuss payment; Albion gives them a few gold apiece, but Sin Tsunami is so discussed with the group’s money-grubbing that she gives them 50 gp apiece.

While some load supplies, Rukk and Albion go to work to investigate the device. They find a chart room with a few papers, but as Albion cannot read and does not sense the presence of evil, he returns to moving supplies. He does, however, note the presence of a nearly featureless obelisk in the other room. Close inspection reveals that the obelisk bears a relief of a peacock’s feather circumscribed by a circle. As Rukk has some difficulty determining the function of the obelisk on his own, Thorry comes to his aid. The device appears to radiate magic, and they manage to channel energy into it, causing it to glow and causing the entire vessel to levitate slightly. Somewhat surprised, they shut it down and Thorry decides to contact the remaining Zookeepers in their spelljammer.

As the rest of the group finishes, a wooden sailing vessel appraoches from the air. As it floats overhead, a rope ladder falls over the side. Two figures — a heavyset man in traveling clothes and an older, bearded gentleman in a robe — climb down the ladder. Two robed figures — a white-haired, dark-skinned man with a staff and a ginger, bespectacled man — leap over the edge and float down to the roof of the tower.

Introductions are made. The older, bearded man is Abbot Aelius; the dark-skinned, robed figure is Adeptus Gloomblight Spellweaver; the heavyset man is Jeb; and the gingery, robed man is named Zanorin Waveharp. After introductory discussions, Jeb ascends the ladder to get his equipment to assess their items. Meanwhile, Gloomblight Spellweaver and Rukk go to look at the spelljammer helm, since Thorry knows little of them. Spellweaver indicates that it is an artifurnace helm. Such helms run on the magical energy taken from destroyed magic items, but since artifacts cannot be destroyed, artifurnaces run continually. This one has been encased in an obelisk.

Rukk inquires about the furnace, but Adeptus Spellweaver indicates that he cannot know anything about it without dismantling it, which will likely destroy the furnace. He does warn that artifacts are frequently potent and sentient, so that strange effects might follow the helm. Spellweaver does finally note that he is attached to a magical university on his home world, and he offers to send a student to research the artifact. Rukk says he will have to think about it.

Meanwhile, the group receives a little over seventeen hundred apiece for all the treasure they retrieved. Unfortunately, Zanorin Waveharp cannot identify Sin Tsunami’s strange weapon, although he notes that it has a magical power source.

As the groups are about to part company, a dark-skinned girl wanders out of the ship. She is haphazardly dressed in armor and carries some equipment, although she does not seem hostile. Unable to speak Common, Gloomblight casts a brief ritual to establish communication. After some conversation, he determines that she comes from Khaldun. Slavers came and attacked her tribe; only she survived so far as she knows, and she was transported to this place. After discussion, Gloomblight indicates that he will return her to his world, along with the other slaves.

With all their labors complete, the Zookeepers say they will be in touch. Sir Albion Sheol, Ibrahim “Smoochie” Ogden, Rukk Kippel, Sin Tsunami, Stiletto Typhoon, and Ulek Uurtag fumble through the controls of their new vessel and park it outside the town of Västernorr.

Albion, Ibrahim, and Rukk stay on the vessel while Sin, Stiletto, and Ulek return to Västernorr. Most return to Sid’s while Sin Tsunami travels to the market. She finds an open shop dealing in drowtech at such a late hour, and the man says he will charge 20 gp an hour to research her item. She agrees and says she will pick it up the next day.

Around noon, Sin returns to the store and learns that she has something known as a warp-field sword, a device which projects an energy field usable as a sword. Money changes hands, and she goes about her business.

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