Secrets of the Sands

Seventh Session
Elemental Trials

Details about part of Kri that sank
- Elves went to the island to set up a colony
- Kri didn’t mind
- The elves were originally nice, set up a small city
- One elf came to learn the secrets – Andrathath
- Sensed great power in elementals, learned difference between elemental and arcane magic
- Andrathath was leader of the city
- Kri people (?) felt Nen get angry – crashed side of island into the ocean
- The black rocks are “gifts”??

- Nhobu goes to the children’s class. They’re practicing creating lights – light inside small clear crystal
- A young girl is having an argument with someone Nhobu can’t see. Flame appears in her hand, goes into the crystal.
- Nhobu introduces themself, “I’m an Om.” The girl has never seen one before, Nhobu has never seen a child (minotaur child) before.
- Invisible friend is “Freefree” and she found him while wandering the island.
- Nhobu asks to be friends with Freefree too, child is affronted.
- Nhobu thanks child for chatting, gives her a reed pipe, teaches her the basics of how to play it. Child is in awe / very grateful.

- One by one, we meet with an old woman
- She stares at us and asks us questions about ourselves.
- Pokes Krom’s arm muscles.
- Piece of metal is dropped into Krom’s hands. She senses the iron and steel in his blood.
- She cackles at Kane, gives her a hot, red crystal (ruby red, but not a ruby). Advises Kane to watch her explosive temper. There is power in her emotions though. Kane holds the crystal in taloned fingers.
- Asks Saidi – What do you SEE??
- Saidi sees herself on fire, freaks out a bit, knocks over the table and the tea
- The old woman is glowing with multiple colors, a halo effect, blue, green, red…
- Old woman taps Saidi on the forehead, her third eye closes and she’s no longer on fire and can’t see the colors anyway. She’s disappointed.
- Saidi is handed a fire crystal like Kane. Old woman advises her to be careful with her third eye around the island. The spirits are ever-present and it might be hard to get “out” (?)
- Nhobu is offered tea, they ask the old woman her name (Kiri)
- “How did you get here?”
- “Boat. Well ship. They call the big ones ‘ship’ right?”
- “Where were you before the ship?”
- “Prison”
- “Why were you in prison”
- “Arson”
- Nhobu wants freedom above all else.
- Is given a green-ish crystal, with energy inside. Nhobu wants to let the energy out, doesn’t want it to be captive.
- Old woman says that when the time is right, wrap their hands around the crystal and think freedom thoughts.
- Crystal pulses to some degree, feels like energy, not thoughts/emotions
- Faylen is asked “Why are you the leader of the group?” Says she’s not. Old woman thinks that’s a waste of her potential.
- Woman is looking at Faylen like she has a second head.
- In general, the elves are not strong with the elements. Arcane magics deaden the connection to the elements.
- Faylen has no formal education in magic.
- You take power from the world around to do magic. You can take power from those you have bonded with or can take by force without realizing (arcane magic).
- Kri kids attract elementals, and form bonds with them.
- Faylen is given a red crystal and a green crystal. It is harder to form bonds with multiple elementals.
- Elementals can do a lot, not just magic of the same type. Could possibly use elementals to replace arcane magics.
- Faylen has more potential, with multiple elementals, but may be initially weaker.
- Moana has mastered all six elements, but she “lost” one and doesn’t want to search for another. (Language implies a connection with a singular elemental being, as opposed to the element as a whole)
- Elementals imbue you with personality, each elemental has its own personality.
- Even if a person’s personality changes as they grow older, generally their elemental alignment will not change.

- Moana greets us, and tells us that we talked to her mother
- Nhobu asks if it’s rude to ask about another person’s elements, Moana says no, most Kri people are pretty obvious about it.
- Moana and her mother can commune with all of the elements.
- Some of us join a story circle. Faylen tells about her family, slaying sea monsters. Nhobu tells about Oona and laying to rest the bear that gave its bone to be their flute. Saidi tells about Greyport, and the lights they have there.
- Saidi can pick out individual colors in people’s auras if she focuses on one at a time. When she tries to open her third eye to the black rock, she feels like she’s falling into blackness.

- Next morning, a young minotaur girl comes looking for Krom. She doesn’t even come up to his shoulder. She says he needs to get equipped for his trial, and he’s taken to the armory.
- Gets a medium-sized shield and spear (light, all one piece of metal), and is led off.
- A teen Kri boy (named Ty) fetches Nhobu, he’s also an air guy
- Moana fetches Kane herself, leads her behind the throne, and opens a doorway that heads down. Follows behind Kane, summoning a light.
- Faylen and Saidi are gathered by the same guy, someone they recognize from the story circle. He was one of the leaders, and adult, but not old.
- They being taken to the same temple, headed to the mountain in the center of the island.
- Nhobu is being brought to a jungle maze. Sees snakes, frogs, and sloths along the way. Particularly interested in the sloth, but Ty is a jerk and says they’re useless. Nhobu says they’re useful cause they like looking at them.

- Krom is hunting rock crabs, a species of crab that inhabit the shore and eat rocks as they gather food. They have really hard shells and massive pincers. Their shells are used to create things like the shield Krom has.
- Specifically, they’re dire crabs – 8ft and dark grey
- The girl is there to help Krom hunt. Krom asks if there’s a known strategy. She says the crabs have a soft underbelly. Their feet stab into the ground though, have to get out of the way after stabbing it. She and her brothers hunt them in their spare time.
- She’ll distract them while Krom goes for the stab. She’s weaker and smaller than Krom, but has been doing this ever since she could pick up a spear and shield.
- Her brother got stepped on once, foot got caught in a pit, transformed skin into metal and that’s what saved him (?)
- They’re starting with smaller crabs.
- Krom sneaks up to the crab, girl bangs her sword and shield together. The crab turns her way

- Nhobu is brought to the jungle maze, the walls are made of vines and trees
- A Kri boy is there, young and small (late elementary / early middle school age), named Nanta
- They’re going to play a game. Nanta is given an object, Nhobu needs to find him, get the object, and get out of the maze before him.
- Object is a green stone orb, fist-sized.
- He’ll get a one minute head-start, maze is 15 min long, if you know where you’re going

- Kane gets to the bottom of the stairwell, it’s a spherical chamber with a flat floor
- Moana uses it as a meditation chamber, a place to focus her thoughts
- Kane will try to connect with her patron again, then she can leave
- Moana frees the creature in Kane’s crystal and three rings of fire surround Kane
- Tells Kane to take her feelings, control them, put them back in the crystal
- It gets very hot, Kane starts hearing the voices of teenage children – “Hurry up, your day is here!”

- Saidi and Faylen get to the mountain. They’ll have to commune with spirits, test themselves, discover their strengths and weaknesses.
- They’ll be led to a path and have to get to the exit.
- Faylen is brought to the entrance of a temple, not of the sun empire, not exactly of the Kri (?)
- Saidi is handed six stones, each with a different color. The entrance is covered in leaves and vines and shrubbery

- Krom gets under the crab and stabs it with his spear

- In the maze, the sky is visible in parts. It’s like a British hedge maze with jungle trees, the size of tall oaks.
- Nhobu shifts into a panther, and through smell and footstep tracking, manages to catch up with Nanta

- Kane sees a hallway, was forced to walk it when about to be fed to a giant spider
- She’s in the body of her younger self
- It is a great day, she will become one with the goddess, is lucky to be chosen
- The people escorting her have a good hold of her shoulders
- When they go to chain her to the alter, she freaks out.
- Summons tentacles, channeling fear into fury, and attacks the escorts. She breaks the alter with her tentacles and awakens. One of the rings of fire is gone, and her crystal has regained a little light

- Faylen examines the architecture of the temple closely. The alcoves used to hold books but are now empty.
- She steps on a panel and the door in front of her starts to close. She casts Longstrider and gets through before it shuts. The door closes behind her
- In the next room, there are statues of different races (?). Traps are on the floor, but Faylen spots them and avoids them. At the end of the room are new statues with feathery wings. Beyond them is a chasm. Wind is blowing.

- Saidi tries to get through the vines with fire and air, but they grow back too quickly.

- Krom gets hit by the crab

- Nhobu turns back into a gnome, casts Minor Illusion to create the sound of Moana’s voice, calling Nanta back. Nanta pauses, not quite trusting what he hears.
- Nhobu conjures two giant spiders. One sneaks around the next turn in the maze and weaves a web across the path. The other shoots webbing at Nanta.
- He avoids the webbing shot at him, but in doing so gets stuck in the web across the path.

- Kane hears voices, she’s in a tavern with the members of the guild she put together. She greets them, tries to convince them to take down the cult. Most are on board, and she convinces the rest by telling them they would have money and power if they could defeat the cult.
- Burning sensation, second ring is defeated

- The wind keeps Faylen from jumping across the chasm, even after casting Jump on herself. After some trial and error, she manages to sling-shot herself across.

- Saidi keeps trying to break through the barrier of plants, finally manages to do it with metal. Metal bars hold the plants open long enough for her to slip through.
- A large stone creature is in the next room. “None shall pass”
- It has a distinctly earthy aura

- The crab turns on the girl. Krom has enough of doing things her way, uses his strength to lift the crab and stab it to death

- As Nhobu approaches where Nanta should be stuck, there is an absence where the kid should be. When Nhobu tries to reach for the kid, gets blown back.
- Orders a spider to wrap the kid up and in does so, proving that the kid is definitely there.
- Nhobu casts Freedom Of Movement, gets around to the other side of the web, can see the kid from that side.
- Frees Nanta’s mouth, Nanta is screaming. Tries to reassure the kid by having one of the spiders do a backflip (to show how much control they have!). It doesn’t work.
- Takes the orb from Nanta’s belt, puts Nanta on the back of one of the spiders and Nanta gives directions so they can get out of the maze. Nhobu plays a jaunty tune on their flute.
- Ty is a little horrified to see the giant spiders and Nanta all wrapped up. Nhobu makes sure to exit the maze before Nanta, then frees Nanta, who goes screaming off into the jungle. Nhobu apologizes, but still isn’t quite sure what they did wrong.

- Kane is presented with her guild, right when they’re going to betray her. Wrecks them with tentacle powers (?) and defeats the third ring of fire. Moana is a bit disappointed.

- Faylen gets into a room with six statues and tiers of steps, with pressure plates on each stone. She steps on the stones corresponding to the statues and makes her way to the top without incident. Takes rubbings of whatever’s written on the statues and makes her way out.

- Saidi uses air to defeat the stone creature (it’s lifted up and disintegrates). Knows to use air by opening her third eye and seeing what element is repelled by the creature. Then is faced with a waterfall. Fire is repelled, so she uses it and it sucks the heat from the water, turning it to ice. She skates across and finishes the trial.

- We all succeed!!

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Bushwhacking (Part 2)
Sixth Session

Lysander,

I confess, it’s a bit strange to be writing a letter without constantly looking over my shoulder. I have no illusions that this note won’t be read, but at the very least, I’m going to have to reacquaint myself with the notion that putting pen to paper isn’t, in and of itself, a clandestine endeavor. I’m probably at least a few sheets of parchment away from letting my shoulders relax and posing the usual questions – or even pretending to hope that I’ll get a response. For now, consider the niceties exchanged; I can only hope that you really are well.

It was a tad unsettling, going deeper into the markets of Kri and wandering the many stalls without… well, not without purpose, but with a different one, at least – without goods in hand and a merchant in mind. It’s far more vast than it appears from the outskirts. The patient and carefully veiled disdain of the locals made me feel a bit like a lost child wandering between tents and tables. We didn’t find what we were looking for – it seems the black rock we’re seeking is something of a dirty secret among the Kri, a type of magical contraband, perhaps? There was no sign of it on display, and the merchants we asked carefully skirted the conversation, so it seems unlikely that this leg of our mission will be a simple one.

At the insistence of my small friend, Nhobu, we sought an audience with the island’s tribal elders. Without the presence of a druid in our ranks, I suspect we would have been turned away (at best), but Nhobu’s abilities (and their fathomless inquisitiveness) earned us a relatively warm welcome. The tribal elder, Moana, senses something amiss with Kane – though clearly she means it in a more literal sense than simply Kane’s unnerving presence – and may be able to help her?

But before we’re to be told anything of substance or aided in any real way, we’re to be put to a test, the nature of which is as mysterious as everything else on this island. Something about elemental alignments, and discovering what resonates with us. I’m both wary and excited. The magic here is more akin to Nhobu’s, and in fact the people seem to turn their noses on more arcane studies, but I’m eager to learn what they have to teach, even if the people here have no interest in my own brand of magic. I just hope that whatever test I’m presented with is a genuine one, and not simply a polite way of executing us. I suppose if this is my last letter, you’ll know. Otherwise, perhaps I’ll return home breathing fire and whipping the wind, or somesuch. Who knows?

With all my love,

Faylen

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The Elements of Kri

Six elemental forces make up the natural world. Metal, Earth, Fire, Air, Water and Wood. Today, they mainly exist in the background of the world. Only those with a deep connection to the natural world seem to understand that they exist and what effects they can have.

Most people see this elemental power represented physically in elementals. Minor elementals are mindless things with no more intelligence than a wild animal. While they can be found all over the world, they are usually only observed in areas that highly reflect their elemental nature. Volcanos are likely teeming with elementals, but a forest may only have wood elementals in the ancient and strongest trees.

Legends say that the elementals were the first beings created on the planet. They were ideas and power that manifested into physical beings. Though it is rumored that their power was so great and their battles with each other so damaging that they had to be bound. Now they have limited influence upon the world, with greater elementals being bound to places of power and lesser elementals having only their own fractions of power to draw upon.

Metal

The element of metal is one of resilience. It may not be the strongest element, but it outlasts the rest of them. With proper conditioning, metal seems to last forever. Bathed in fire, metal only grows harder. A blade left to rust can be resharpened to a killing edge. Those who take on the element usually are strong of will, obstinate in their choices and juggernauts in battle.

Earth

Earth is the element of strength. This can be shown in no greater measure than mountains forming from two great earth elementals pushing on each other. Earth does not move quickly, but it builds up power like an avalanche. It is also part of our base desires, as they slowly grow in us to be all consuming. Those with earth running in their blood will look to use their strength over others, will be driven by their most base desires and may start slow… before becoming an unstoppable force.

Air

Air is everywhere. It never looks to stay still, but is constantly on the move from one place to another. It may travel unseen, but it can make itself known with the power of a hurricane. You will find that the element of Air speaks to those who wish to move with it. Rarely does it seek to knock down barriers, but instead bypasses them.

Fire

The spark of intelligence best describes fire. While Earth may imbue our primal desires, fire imbues our thinking desires. While it can be uncontrollable and unpredictable, it also creates the brightest lights that we look towards. Fire rarely chooses one without ambition, as they seek out ever greater knowledge to shape the world to their desires.

Water

Water seeks the path of least resistance. It offers balance instead of domination. While that may seem weak to others, few caught in waters surging grasp would ever make that claim. As such, water must look inwards and inspect itself and others. It must learn their ebbs and flows in order to bring about its desired results. Those who hear the call of water value its shifting tides and manipulate them to their full advantage.

Wood

In many ways, the element of wood is life. Wood grows, adapts and eventually dies. Of the elements, wood is the most patient. It actions take time to bring to fruition and require great effort to suddenly pull forth. While its power may be slower than the other elements, it has ways of healing and rebuilding itself that others do not.

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Sixth Session
Getting to Know Kri

- We head to Kri try to find more of the mysterious black rock from the mage’s lab (the rock the runes were carved into). It is shiny, hard, and brittle.
- Tehlmar doesn’t know exactly what we’ll find, but he’s hoping for a quarry or something along those lines.
- Nhobu gives Kane a doll pierced with needles, in hopes to make her feel better about the loss of contact with her patron.
- We know that the Kri people barter for things and Tehlmar gives the party a small lockbox full of gems just in case. Nhobu offers to carry it, the rest of the party says no.
- Nhobu is given a bag of holding, to their utmost delight, and immediately climbs entirely inside it. They emerge as, surprise! A bear! No one is amused :(
- The Kri town is in the jungle and surrounded by thick stone walls, but no masonry was involved. It is a single, seamless wall of rock.
- When Nhobu sets foot on the island, they experience a “druidgasm,” for the energy of the forest is incredibly full of life. They try to book it toward the woods, but Faylen catches them and Nhobu rides on her shoulders as they enter the market.
- With the use of Druidcraft, Nhobu predicts that the weather should be clear for the next day and a half or so, but there are days of rain coming after. Faylen does not appreciate the small rainstorm falling on her head.
- From their vantage point, Nhobu sees EVERYTHING. Most people are trading foodstuffs, locally-made jewelry…there’s not as much weapon trade, though all Kri are armed. Warriors tend to look down on the merchants. The Kri seem to be forgiving of outsiders; they don’t expect people to know their ways. 90% of the people have body paint or tattoos of some kind. The Kri people are minotaurs, about 7ft tall. Nhobu quickly decides that they’re glad to be on Faylen’s shoulders, unable to be stepped on.
- Though she is masked and hooded, people still give Kane a wide berth.
- The guards don’t seem to care about anyone except Kri from other clans. They’ll question people headed toward the residential area, but they don’t care if you’re headed into the jungle.
- Magic items are not being bought or sold.
- Nhobu asks a shopkeeper about how to make antitoxin that would work against common jungle animals, and he’s happy to tell them all about the ingredients needed. Doesn’t have anything that could make more mana potions.
- When asked about the black rock, he says he knows nothing and tries to edge us out of his shop. But because Nhobu SEES ALL, they can tell that he isn’t telling the truth.
- As night begins to fall, lanterns around the marketplace begin to turn on by themselves. Saidi is intrigued, for she’s seen similar things where she’s from, but these are not controlled by arcane means, nor do they contain lighting bugs.
- Nhobu is interested, and tugs on the horn of a passing Kri to ask about them. Thankfully, he perceives Nhobu as a child and is not insulted. He says that the Kri “have their ways,” that they can “harness elementals.” Nhobu is VERY interested and asks how they could learn to do the same. The Kri man points us to a building in the center of town, where we could speak with the elders.

- The party opts to return to the ship for the night, but Nhobu wakes everyone up the next morning at the crack of dawn with a masterful flute solo. Kane paps their head to shut them off.
- On the way back into town, Nhobu can feels like they’re being watched. Because they can SEE EVERYTHING, they know someone is in the tree above the party. However, we decide not to confront whomever it is (though Nhobu kinda really wants to). The presence stays on the edge of the forest and does not follow the party into the market.
- Saidi casts a spell to try to find more black rock. She detects several instances (or one moving around) and with Nhobu’s expert survival guidance, is pointed toward the elders’ building (?)
- Nhobu tries to talk the guards into letting us in, doesn’t do so hot. But once they make a flower bud bloom before the guards’ eyes, they decide we can enter.
- This building is the largest and prettiest we’ve seen, also seamlessly made. The rest of the buildings were made of large bricks, seemingly too large to move without much effort.
- Two guards escort us in. The large chamber echoes. There is a huge glass dome, which we would think to be impossible to construct without magic.
- Kane feels a presence, but is angry about it.
- There are older Kri people there, and one calls attention to our arrival. “We have guests,” she says. Nhobu waves, Faylen and Saidi bow/nod, Kane stands stiffly, Krom watches Kane.
- The island we are on is called Rau, and this minotaur woman’s name is Moana.
- She kneels down to talk to Nhobu (Nhobu is delighted), asks where they’re from. She knew the druids in Nhobu’s forest and is saddened to hear that they’re no longer alive/there.
- She approves that Krom is with Nhobu.
- Kane alarms and worries her. She asks what has happened to Kane, says that there is a hole in her. Nen took her connection to her patron.
- We tell her what happened under the water.
- She says that Nen was put there with purpose. The Sun Empire broke a pact with Kri. They wanted to corrupt and subvert the power of the islands, but their purpose was unclear.
- Moana says she will set us up with a storyteller to explain to us the basics of how Kri culture and society work. Then we will each face a trial relating to the element that most resonates with us. If we pass, they will teach us their elemental secrets of magic.
- Behind her on the wall, Nhobu notices spears (?) whose points are made from the black rock we seek. We (the players) have identified is as obsidian.

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Bushwhacking (Part 1)
Fifth Session

Written in orcish, in thieves cant, disguised with illusory script, with a very simple cipher

Lysander –

Please, please, please, for the sake of my dignity, pretend that these letters are coming to you in chronological order, over a span of weeks, rather than in a single parcel. I’m sure you’ve been waiting to hear from me and wondering what happened, but my options for communicating with you have been limited; postal service isn’t exactly reliable when you’re stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean. Believe me, if I could have reached you sooner, I would have – and, clearly, I tried – though perhaps it’s for the best that you’re hearing from me now that things have settled somewhat rather than in the panicked confusion of the moment.

Letter writing has become something of a solace for me, moreso even than in the past. I get along with my fellow crewmembers just fine, but our magical bindings make me reluctant to speak my mind aloud, even among those who are both literally and figuratively in the same boat as me. Though I am less confined here, and my accommodations are certainly more comfortable, I feel more like a prisoner here than I ever did on the Barge – constantly watched, and without the same hope of escape. More than literal restraints, the threatening overtures Tehlmar has made in your general direction bind me to his service – a fact he knows too well, and that I know I’ve failed utterly to downplay. Despite the coercion, I can’t deny that the work he has me doing is fascinating. You won’t believe this, not until you magic it out of me, but already his research has brought me face to face with the spirit of Nen. Yes, that Nen, the elemental patron of our sea.

Andrathath – the mage whose research we’re seeking to recreate – managed to place some sort of binding on the elemental and, it seems, used it as a power source for his massive research facility. I wish I’d had more time to explore the complex before it was destroyed, but I haven’t had time to dwell on the loss; Tehlmar has had me working day and night to decode what research I managed to recover. The earliest entries are guiding us to the islands of Kri, where Andrathath’s research began, and as much as I dislike Tehlmar – and as much as he knows it – I can’t entirely suppress my own curiosity. I’m uneasy about where this path may lead us, and moreso because Tehlmar resolutely refuses to disclose more information about his goals than is absolutely necessary, but as I said, he’s done a superb job of tying my hands and forcing me to heel.

Not that that’s ever stopped me before, of course. For now, at least, I’m content to have a way to send these letters. It’s been many years since I last set foot on Kri, and I suspect this time we’ll be venturing much further inland than the costal marketplace. I look forward to bugs the size of my fist, ankle deep mud, and a solid week of swamp ass. Gods, but I would kill to be home. Adventure awaits &etc, but what I wouldn’t give for a bottle of wine, a wheel of good cheese, and a cool ocean breeze. When the work is done, I suppose.

By the way, you owe me 10 gold pieces. I was right, mermaids are real, though after meeting more than a few of them up close and personal, I will conceded that I do not, in fact, have any desire to bed one. I am owed a boon by there people now, though, for saving some of their kin and clearing the area of corruption, so if you’d rather not take my word for it and have an urge to find out for yourself, I suppose we’ll have to make the voyage back here together once I find my way home. Hopefully sooner than later.

With all my love,

Faylen

P.S. Apologies for any difficulty in decoding this letter. Though I suppose I haven’t said anything incriminating, I dislike the notion of my letters being read by unintended eyes, and secrecy is fast becoming a habit. Besides, you could use the practice. Your orcish is still shit. xo

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Journal Entries from Andrathath's Journal
First set of entries that were decoded

Journal Entry #1

Kri. Some have called these islands a mystery while others claim it to be a paradise. I shall soon see for myself, as the Emperor has sanctioned my research. Explorers claim that the island is strong with magical energies. It could be that the place is a nexus of ley lines… or something more significant. I need to understand that energy though, as it could be a great asset in strengthening our kingdom.

Journal Entry #2

I will admit, Kri is nothing like what I expected. The waters around the islands are filled with jagged reefs, deadly to those who attempt to get near. Clouds cling to the mountains that rise up from the islands, obscuring the peaks from sight. The islands themselves are covered in jungles, nothing like the great forest of Sadira. There, it was comfortable to stroll beneath the trees and feel a cool breeze. Kri is filled with life, it almost radiates with it. Its jungles seem to swallow you as you travel through them, the fauna and undergrowth too thick to casually walk though.

What has surprised me most are the Kri though. I had never seen their kind before and they are… impressive. Many of them reach 7 feet tall and most of them seem to be trained as warriors. What is more though, is that they seem to have a link to the elements that I have not seen anywhere else. We are masters of the Arcane and I have dedicated my life to expanding our knowledge and power with it. These Kri use their elemental gifts in a way that I could only dream of for the Empire. Many of their buildings aren’t constructed, but instead seem to have been called forth from the ground. They use the elements as part of their daily lives, from calling forth fire to light up the night to drawing water. But one thing is apparent to me, they are not from this island. They don’t seem to have spread out to each of the islands yet and their culture seems to have adapted to this place, not developed from it. It is just one more mystery that I’ll attempt to uncover while I am here.

Journal Entry #3

I attempted to get more out of the Kri elders about how they use this elemental magic of theirs. They rebuffed my offer to teach them the arcane knowledge of our people, some of them even seemed offended as I demonstrated and explained the basics of our arcane practices. Eventually I was able to get them to agree to teach me how they draw upon the elemental forces here, but they demanded that I prove myself first.

I’m not sure what tests they plan to put before me, but I don’t feel worried. I am Andrathath, Archmage of Solerael, Battle Enchanter of the Imperium and Advisor to the Emperor himself. I feel as if I am on the cusp of something and I refuse to be held back from that knowledge. Kri may be too far away to be part of the Empire itself, but the Imperium will never be denied.

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Fifth Session
Getting Out

- Nhobu provides Perception guidance to Faylen, who doesn’t sense anything outside the mage’s living quarters.
- Nhobu creeps out into the hall and immediately drops a pot. Thankfully no one is around.
- Halls to the south, east, and west. Head south following Saidi’s finding spell.
- We find a few smaller living chambers and a storage room. In one crate, we find 10 kinds of metallic dust in bottles, Nhobu takes one filled with gold dust. Also find some potions that potentially have something to do with magic, but they don’t look usable. Find slabs of stone, like unused plaques.
- Find a workshop with half-finished rune stones (6×6inch). Majority are the same rune. Faylen takes a sampling.
- Door at the end of the hall opens onto ledge overlooking a three story chasm. There’s a big building-like structure in the center, with another ledge we could potentially get onto.
- While we’re debating how to get across, Krom gets fed up and just jumps (successfully).
- Nhobu turns into a giant frog and jumps across with a rope in their mouth, Krom catches them.
- Faylen sloth-crawls across the rope, as does Saidi (who dreamed of her success). Kane yells at the rope, ties it around herself, and swings across.
- There are four doors into the mid structure. Inside, we go down some stairs and find a circle of runes. Some are cracked in half, which bodes ill.
- Figure it’s some kind of containment circle. Water starts coming into the room, suddenly Kane can’t move as the water swirls around her legs.
- Krom tosses her the rope, tries to pull her out, but the water only tightens its grip.
- Saidi casts dispel magic, the water releases Kane and the force of Krom’s pulling yanks her across the room onto her face
- The water rushes up the walls, we decide to run for it. Krom grabs Kane, and Nhobu jumps on his back. He heads toward the door, slowed by the water which is actively trying to inconvenience him.
- Outside, on the ledge, we see a floating block of water in the chasm. A wave of water, seeming to target Krom specifically, knocks him over.
- Krom gets up, the water wells up on either side of the ledge. He shoves us back into the room and blocks the door.

- Four water elementals show up, one at each of the four doors.
- Krom yells at his, trying to intimidate it, but is unsuccessful.
- One of the elementals charges Kane, but she dodges it. It regroups across the room.
- Nhobu is unable to doge the elemental that comes at them, and it pushes them across the room and into a wall. Starts crawling up Nhobu’s body and trying to get into their mouth/nose. Nhobu is NOT ABOUT THAT.
- Faylen is between the last elemental and Kane, so it knocks her over, then turns away from her.
- Nhobu attempts to spray the elemental with poison, but it’s too hardy to be effected. Nhobu turns into a bear.
- Saidi throws a fireball at the elemental on Nhobu.
- Kane does some necrotic damage
- Krom hears the sound of the ocean in his head, takes damage. “These ones must be purged.” The water tries to push past him but fails.
- Krom slices at the water, cuts it into two water.
- Elemental shoves Kane into the wall, tries to crawl into her mouth too.
- Bear fends off the water as it tries to get inside them again.
- Two of the elementals combine into a bigger elemental.
- Faylen tries to attack the elemental on Kane, misses.
- Bear breaks free of the water, slashes at it uselessly, runs away.
- Saidi tries to throw a firebolt, misses
- Kane does more necrotic damage, injects something dark into the elemental. The water starts going at her harder.
- Krom still manages to keep the water at bay. Hears “corruption cannot be allowed to spread.” Doesn’t know what that means.
- Krom…hugs? the water elemental (fails to grapple it but jumps on top).
- Kane’s head is engulfed by water, can’t get inside her yet
- The large elemental with Krom on its back shoves the bear, but the bear pushes it off.
- Faylen uses booming blade on Kane’s head.
- Bear tries to grapple the water with Krom, fails and gets stuck
- Saidi studies the elementals, remembers that they’re usually all about purifying and healing, and casts hypnotic lights on her party.
- It only works on Kane and the water overtakes her. The voices in her head are silenced and she is knocked unconscious
- Elementals form into one giant elemental, with Krom on its back.
- Krom tries to turn its head away from Nhobu, fails.
- Nhobu decides to stop fighting the water. It rushes into the bear and “cleanses” them. Nhobu is knocked unconscious and turns back into a gnome.
- Krom takes more mental damage as his head vibrates with the oceanic voice. It tells him that 1) It is done, and 2) It wants to be freed from this place
- Krom asks to be put down, the elemental drops him
- Faylen asks it who/what it is, takes damage
- Its name is Nen. Faylen remembers that her home sea used to be called the Sea of Nen before the Sun Empire renamed it
- Nen wants us to destroy the runes keeping it here, to free it. It was not the mage who trapped it. “The Creators brought me here.”
- The mage was foolish enough to try to draw power from Nen so Nen “brought ruin to the city.”
- Nhobu is woken up, overjoyed to no longer hear voices, hugs Nen.
- We take a day and destroy the runes. When we do, the ceiling blows out and the ocean crashes in.
- The merfolk, Mug, and Mazoga are in the water outside. Krom and Mug glare at each other (“Hey Mug, you douche.” “Oh, you didn’t die”)
- We have earned a boon from the mer princess
- We head back up to the ship. Faylen is very reluctant to hand over the findings without more information, but our employer is an asshat who refuses to give her any.

- We head toward the Islands of Kri next.
- Saidi and Faylen work to decipher the findings
- Kane tries desperately to reconnect with her patron, feels emptiness
- Krom helps with the ship, does push-ups, glares at Mug
- Nhobu makes some rad health potions and experiments to make some shitty mana potions

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Submerged (Part 3)
Fourth Session

On a sheet of parchment scavenged from the workshop:

Lysander –

You owe me 10 gold pieces. I was right: mermaids are real. Though I have to admit, after meeting one up close, I don’t

On a fresh sheet of parchment:

Silas –

You won’t believe

On a fresh sheet of parchment:

My dearest Silas,

I miss you, more than words can say. I don’t know if or when this letter will reach you, or even yet if it’s truly for you at all. I am, quite literally, in a deep dark hole miles underwater. The weight of it – on my shoulders, above my head – is a phantom, I know, but I feel it acutely. I could not guess the hour, and mark the passage of time by the slow death of my candle and the sound of my companions breathing. Like old times, they are asleep while I sit awake, pouring over forgotten texts. It is one of Those Nights, when the world feels small and empty, time slow yet achingly short. Everything is vaguely unreal, and in the back of my mind I think that at any moment I might wake by your side, if only I knew how to sleep.

Instead I’m stuck in a forgotten room that smells of age and stale air – the private laboratory of a long-dead sun elf mage, complete with lifetimes worth of his research. Everything else is dust – wine turned to vinegar in the bottles (yes, I was feeling morose enough to check), reagents on his workbench moldered to useless powder. But the research itself, what little of it I understand, is fascinating and terrifying. It concerns elementals, primarily, and means of controlling them. The particulars of his methodology are lost on me, but I have experienced the fruits of his labors first hand. You remember that temple with the sand trap? This mage, Andrathath, found a way to reproduce the results by controlling water elementals, and improved on the design. Rather than leaving a flooded room behind once the trap is triggered, the whole rig can be drained and reset, evidently indefinitely, and when operated properly, it serves as a secret entrance to the very workshop I find myself in now.

I’m torn between frantic curiosity – wanting to spend as long as it takes picking apart his research until I understand it – and feeling that the whole of it is better left forgotten. When I came across the first mentions of the djinn and the Elemental Planes, it was only a tenuous sense of self preservation that kept me from flinging every scrap of paper into the water and shredding it to nothing. I would not let any eyes but my own see these documents if I could, not without fully understanding them, but this is a master’s lab, and I would have hardly been fit to be Andrathath’s apprentice. My lack of understanding is only exacerbated by the massive gulfs of time and language between us; without context, without more information, there is little hope that I’ll ever truly make sense of any of it. I know Tehlmar will have the resources I need, but with the documents in hand, I doubt he would have any further use for me. I am wary of his intentions, and of what he seeks to accomplish with the research. Even if he allowed me access to his own records, to assist him in recreating Andrathath’s breakthroughs, I would not be in a position to prevent him from using the knowledge to whatever ends he intends.

And yet, I’m not certain I have a choice in the matter. The neat stack of papers at my elbow is the foundation of our bargain; my freedom – not to mention the freedom of my companions – hinges upon it being returned to him. If I return empty handed, I’ll be sent out again and again to renew the search. If I confessed to destroying the documents, I’m not certain I would survive the exchange. It seems the right thing to do – not less because I have reason to believe the agents of an eldritch god are also seeking Andrathath’s research, and may already possess some potion of it – but I’m not certain that I’m capable of being quite that good, or heroic. I have spent hours telling myself that there must be another way, that no matter how smart the man, he is not immune to being outsmarted. But I have yet to formulate a brilliant plan, or even a mediocre one. My path would be clearer if only I knew the full extent of what Andrathath had discovered – if his research really did lead to the destruction of this fallen city, or if time and the retelling have made more of it than it is. I know that the knowledge is dangerous, but the full extent of what it might make possible is beyond me.

Perhaps it is best I don’t truly understand. Given what Tehlmar knows of me, I do not doubt that he would suspect me of ferreting away Andrathath’s research to keep it from him, and the gold cuff on my wrist is reason enough to believe he would know it if I had a mind to try. At least by not knowing, if I do destroy the documents, he won’t be able to recover their secrets from my mind.

It’s such a human notion, falling on one’s sword. Snuffing out an already quick-burning candle. By elven standards, I am still a child. By human ones, an old woman who has lived a full and happy life. I suppose the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but it gives me little comfort. I am at a loss. Adrift. I think that you would be brave enough to do this thing in my place, and smart enough not to need to, but that knowledge only makes me feel your absence more keenly. Perhaps most upsetting is that, even after all these years, I’m not entirely certain what you would have me do, were you here to advise me. I wish you were. I wish I could ask. I wish I had left that damn dwarf to drown, and his ring to rot beneath the waves.

If this is the last message of mine that reaches you, I’m so sorry. If it never does, I hope that you know how much I love you.

Forever yours,

Faylen

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Fourth Session
Puzzle Room

- We run from where we killed the naga queen, hear a commotion behind us as other naga swarm in
- Find a stone door that opens into a stone room. Krom closes the door behind us, braces himself against it.
- Two capstans in the room, one on either side, with four wooden arms each
- Twenty-three gargoyles line balcony above us. Later we see runes that indicate they are bound water elementals.
- Faylen tries to turn one of the capstans, breaks it. Nhobu mends it and casts enhance ability on Saidi.
- Saidi manages to turn the capstan 1/4 of the way round, it clicks into place
- Water starts pouring into the room from the gargoyles
- Apparently it feels like 100 anxious people are in Nhobu’s head, but the feeling lessened when the door closed.
- Kane turns the capstan on the other side, water doubles
- Saidi and Kane turn them in sync, water increases to 4×.
- Balcony is 8ft up, ceiling 3ft higher than that
- The stones in the center of the room are different than the rest of the floor, no mortar connects them. Faylen happens to have a crowbar, but we can’t get them to budge. They seem to be connected magically to the capstans.
- Figure out that the door is sealed, Krom moves away and tries to turn capstan in the “wrong” direction. Fails.
- Krom helps Nhobu into the balcony.
- Water is starting to get hot.
- Turn one of the capstans again (3/4 way round). Water increases (knocking several people over) and poisonous snakes drop into the room.
- Nhobu freezes some of them. Faylen examines the stones under the water.
- Other capstan is turned (3/4) and more water and more snakes flow in.
- People in the water start taking heat damage. Faylen and Saidi are poisoned.
- Nhobu tries to talk to the snakes, convince them to stop fighting, only manages to convince two of them.
- Capstan is turned one more time (4/4) and the water stops on that side of the room. Other is turned shortly after. Water stops and the stones in the middle give way to form a drain, just as the door opens to let the naga in.
- Everyone jumps in before the naga can see or follow us. Nhobu is last, jumps onto Krom’s head.
- Ride the drain down into a pool in a dark chamber. Heal ourselves a bit, then examine the room.
- Find a desk, with a book that is writing down what we say. Faylen examines it. Also find a bed, wine, a work table, and a bigger conference-style table. Everything is extremely old and dusty.
- Figure out that this is the lab of the mage we were trying to find. He’d be doing experiments with binding water elementals. The puzzle we just went through was a test?
- The room seems safe, so we decide to take a long rest. Nhobu brews antitoxin and a few more potions, not very well. Runs out of ingredients. Shares rations with everyone. Kane sleeps under the conference table. Krom calls the big bed. Faylen mediates and examines the book.

View
Submerged (Part 2)
(Third Session)

Mental note, while running very, very fast:

I changed my mind. I don’t want to fuck a mermaid.

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