A first real day for the Team BAJA to explore the city of Lastil-Taswell, trying to find more information and research regarding the various myths and legends of the Azuroth Empire. Arcaelus and Aydan went to the Academy of the Purple Order to do said research, while Brightiron worked at a smithy in exchange for a new weapon, Rainer worked a job contract for the Nest where he met Cecil – a known associate and proxy of Timeaus Randor. Arcaelus and Aydan heard about an upcoming event where mages across the region come to either spectate or participate in a grand tournament to gain slots in an exchange program of learning with the elves of Lastilven – the elven tree-city within Lastil-Taswell. Cecil even invited Rainer with a VIP voucher to the event, since her employer was one of the sponsors for it. Jimmy Moon received a startling vision of a ruined tower in a forgotten mountain valley, an ancient black blade and the chant of the return of a fallen king. As the week progressed, the city began preparations for the momentous event but long shadows began to encircle the unsuspecting city and its people. But what about our dwarven cleric Gilda? Find out today.
While the rest of the group was out around the city of Lastil-Taswell, Gilda Torrum continued to rest on the makeshift bed in Rainer’s safehouse within the Onyx district. The dwarf cleric dreamed of her dwarven home nestled between a mountain valley far to the north of where they were and the sound of dwarves working at the foundries. The sound of a nearby explosion shook the dwarf cleric awake, a cloud of dust was flung into the air, the sound of battle cries and metal could be heard from the distance. Gilda raced to get herself up and running towards the nearest battalion, dodging loose rocks another explosion. The battalion was mostly armored dwarves, but a few elves and humans were mixed into the chaos as well.
“Brace! Incoming wave!” Shouted one of the soldiers.
The group shifted into a defensive stance, shield bearers planted their tall shields up while their casters created magical walls of force in front of them. Sound went inward for a moment before another colossal explosion, clouds of dust and rock flew at the various soldiers on the field. Gilda spotted one group that had not put up their barrier in time and were easily flung into the air like rag dolls. Almost by instinct, Gilda began to weave a spell and launch a powerful searing bolt of light towards the uncertain cloud. Why did she fire the spell, she thought. Eventually, shapes and shadows began to emerge from the dust clouds, all dissimilar from each other, no symmetry and no logic behind them.
“Open fire!” Another shout came from behind.
An array of spells, many of different shapes and sizes, different elements and energies all flying toward the encroaching figures behind the dust cloud. The spells found their marks, a cascade of various effects erupted from view but the distinct sound of energy hitting matter was deafening and true. A relative calm fell on the battlefield, Gilda watched with increased tension as the dust began to settle again. The twisted shapes and cacophonous calls approached from beyond the horizon, the enemy continued their march forward. The larger ones unleashed a torrent of energy at the various battalions, the sound of their screams filled the previous silence. The dwarf charged off and tried to provide healing to an injured warrior nearby while her group continued to advance forward towards the enemy. The sight of several warriors engaging with a large quadruped, another group dealing with dozens of smaller insect-like creatures almost the size of large cats, and aerial ones what continued to assail the casters and defended by a handful of archers. Bodies littered across the field, the piles were almost as high as her height and there seemed no end in sight. A loud sound emerged from the tallest clouds, Gilda looked up and saw the shape of a large creature that rivaled any large fortress or castle. Worming tentacles connected to a large dome-like apparatus with pupiless eyes all arranged asymmetrically. The image never left the young dwarf, the fear never wavered, the overwhelming sense of loss never tired. There was no hope left to give, and none to be found. This was where she was going to die, Gilda thought.
An obsidian blade emerged from behind them and flew straight at the large towering enemy, the blade pierced some sort of magical barrier, the space where it struck twisted and contorted. The creature let out a chilling scream, if that was its scream for pain. Gilda turned and saw two figures walked through the battlefield, one of them was an elf woman clad in emerald and gold armor while the other was a dark-haired, purple-eyed human wearing purple and grey armor. The elf woman went and tended to as many of the fallen soldiers, healing those who were still alive with either a simple word or touch. The dwarf cleric looked at the pair in awe, the human male disappeared in a flash of magic, the sound of the enemy’s troops being slaughtered in the distance offered a moment of cheer and renewed vigor for those who could still fight. Gilda returned to her duties, healing the injured while on the field until eventually the large creature was forced into retreat along with its kin beyond the mountain valley. The day was won, but at a heavy cost. Gilda found herself among rank and file, until the pair arrived and spotted the dwarf right away. The human male’s look sharpened on Gilda especially.
“You’re not from here are you?” He said to her, pulling Gilda to the side. The elf woman remained close by and looked over at the man with curiosity.
Gilda remained silent but nodded yes.
The human male lifted the chuck of gem hanging from Gilda’s neck, studying it for a moment. “I do not want to know why you were brought here or when you came from, but I suspect this gem knows better. I don’t know why you came possession of it but I suspect it wasn’t by chance. I’ll send you back to where you are needed, thank you for all your efforts.” The human closed his eyes and began whispering words of power.
“We wish you a safe journey, and thank you again. May we cross paths again someday,” the elf woman promised and a soft hug before Gilda felt her body pull through the arcane and cosmic forces expanded by the gem around her neck.
Gilda awoke with a ray from the midday sun piercing through a small window in the room in Rainer’s safehouse. The dwarf was covered in sweat, her armor was still on her and there some aches and sores she could not explain away. The gem around her neck glowed and then went dark soon afterwards. The dwarf laid on the bed for a while, recalling the events she witnessed unable to speak and softly crying to herself.
Several days had passed for Team BAJA and eventually they all regrouped in a tavern in the Silver District to discuss their findings and any information of importance within the past five years. Rainer informs the team that the city seems to be preparing for something big happening, and it was not the Emerald Qualifiers happening by the week’s end. Brighiron arrived with a new maul with shards of obsidian placed along the polished ends, the goliath was most pleased and jovial than usual. Jimmy Moon informed the group that he attempted to contact his father and surprisingly was able to meet him and promised an audience with him and the team soon. Arcaelus and Aydan learned more about the Azurith Empire and some of the ancient philosophies of their magic and relics. The tavern had grown considerably busy and made sense given the lively event of the Emerald Qualifiers, though Jimmy Moon and Rainer had never seen the event themselves since it only came every twenty or thirty years. The group decided to rest in the tavern for a night and plan their next course of action, Brightiron wanted to go out into town and perhaps get a new tattoo, after asking several brutish orcs and dwarves for a possible recommendation, the goliath was told an address near the Sapphire District. Aydan decided to accompany the goliath, mostly to take a walk outside and not think about the gems or whatever possible dangers were brewing within the city. Arcaelus, Rainer, and Jimmy were busy discussing the group’s next moves until Gilda managed to find the team and drink merrily with the patrons.
While Brightiron was busy with getting his tattoo in the back of a crafts store by a large half-orc, Aydan wandered along the streets until she seemingly entered a different plane. A plane of emptiness and shadow, there she found a pair of tombstones and names written in Draconic. The names of her late mother and father, the tiefling took a step back before the voices in the air began to echo the same phrase over and over again, “avenge us.” A staff dressed in copper with the same of a dragon’s maw emerged from her father’s grave, the sorceress took the item and felt the draconic blood within her boil and connect with the item as if it were an extension of herself. The shadows faded and the world returned, the tiefling was in awe and confused with the mysterious item in her possession. As the morning dawn rose, Brightiron emerged from the tattoo shop with an intricate display of his exploits across his adventures with the team, Jimmy Moon informs the rest of the group that they were to meet with his father, the Lord Galenodel that morning to discuss their concerns.
The group decided to take the sewer access instead of the roads, just to be safe. There they stumbled upon a group of gang members seemingly trying to smuggle goods and keep the area clear of any interlopers. They threatened the party, which was not wise as Brighiron went charging at them with relentless fury. The team defended themselves and eventually were left with one gang member who continued to defy the team about their business and ultimately was slain by Rainer. The halfling did not wish for more of the city to know of his whereabouts, especially since the bounty for his head was still plastered along the board in the Gloom Ward. While the group agreed that secrecy was key, their actions left a sour taste in their mouth for some in the group. Once they made their way to the white gates that separated the city of Taswell from the tree-city of Lastilven, they passed the guards almost effortlessly and walked through the illusions crafted within the tree itself. Inside they found an expansive network of balconies, pavilions, and promenades. Balloons and other magical implements were used to bring elves to other levels within the city, Jimmy guided the group toward the familiar path he took many times from his youth. There they came face to face with a large estate within the tree, Arcaelus realized that space was warped within the tree to accommodate more than the tree’s size let believe.
The group was welcomed into the Galenodel estate and were led to the study, where Lord Rimhorn Galenodel met with Jimmy and his friends. For several hours they recounted their adventures and the worry about these Gems of Azuroth. The elf noble believed that the gems and weapons they had found were indeed relics from a time from the Second Age, though to have them in his presence was rather unbelievable and surreal. Lord Galenodel believed that the team would need to seek better council, possibly with the Wise Council of Lastilven but to arrange for such a meeting would require time and patience, which none of the team possessed at this point. Instead, the elf suggested that the group might as well enjoy the Emerald Qualifiers until he could finish the arrangements for meeting with the council. Afterwards, the group decided that they needed to rest up for the event itself and all its festivities, Arcaelus learned there were five trials that participants could partake with three of them being mental challenges while using magic and the remaining two being tests of combat and skill.
As the day of the Emerald Qualifiers rolled around, crowds poured through the Twinned City’s Emerald Square, vendors and merchants from various lands were seen selling goods, wares, and entertainment. Team BAJA had a day to enjoy to themselves, Rainer went off on a drinking binge while the rest of the party decided to participate in the Five Trials. Everyone except for Jimmy Moon managed to pass through their trials with flying colors and full marks. Brightiron narrowly avoided being lost in an interdimensional realm while Arcaelus avoided choking on the sleeping gas in the puzzle chamber. Rainer eventually stumbled upon a tent for the VIPs and met with Lady Aurelia, one of the many sponsors for the Emerald Qualifiers but most importantly, a friend of Lapin Hornraven, his closest friend and Jimmy Moon’s mother. The lady informed Rainer that she would be in need of his services soon and wished to talk with him after the first day of festivities were over, the halfling agreed and the both of them went their separate ways. The assassin grew worried, since he himself had not heard word of Hornraven’s whereabouts, as one of the most skilled and infamous wetworkers in the city, it was quite rare to have not heard anything from here. Even a week was too long for such an infamous figure like her.
The first day of the Emerald Qualifiers concluded with a preliminary combat tournament before the main event on the second day. Most of the team were grouped in separate arenas that required a single champion to emerge victorious in each grouping. Unfortunately, Jimmy Moon and Aydan were group together and ultimately Aydan used sheer arcane force to knock Jimmy Moon out of the running with a barrage of spells. Aydan, Arcaelus, Brightiron, and Gilda made it to the final cut, along with several other participants. By the end of the day, Rainer informs the party that they were to meet with Lady Aurelia who resided along Noble Road, or the Golden District. The group agreed to meet with this lady, believing that perhaps they could all finally understand the reason behind the tension brewing within the city and why. Though unknown to them, machinations were already moving behind the scenes and indeed something was coming that none expected or prepared.
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