The following is a summary of a Vignette event through the Knight Owls Interludes Facebook group. Vignettes are short, interactive voluntary events held within the group where players can seek out new lore, run through skill challenges, and be a part of a mini-adventure.
This Vignette took place from 11/25 - 12/3/17. Story-wise, its events transpire 3 days after the end of Whispers, and 3 days before the upcoming adventure, "Sheath", to be held on 12/9/17 (21+ group).
Following a dire summons to gather at The Platinum Guard in Diskana, all current Knight Owls (and a few retired veterans) find themselves sucking down ale, trading stories, and coming to terms with the concept of an undead dragon god roaming somewhere beyond the Edge...
The door is kicked inward by a clawed foot and a stout halfling marches in, demanding to see his brother. All eyes turn to the creature, recognizing him as Keddigan Slitspire, one of the Tenrook himself, and immediately turn their eyes to a shocked Kincaid. Kincaid and Keddigan reunite, but not before some gentle ribbing on the resurrected. Keddigan then turns serious, ordering all Owls into the cellar, stating "The time for secrets has passed."
When all are assembled, Keddigan's voice changes. He reveals that he is much older than he seems, that he and his brother are demigods in service of Io, and have been for many years. He speaks of the fact that two of the Seven came to he and his brother and magically conscripted and inspired them to forge a weapon; over ten years later, they had no memory of what they had constructed, and no physical evidence of it, only a feeling. Fast-forward to the first rise of Narizguun, the Devourer of the Divine, and the fall of clerical bastion of Brimshire (and Kincaid's death); Keddigan and Kincaid surmise that Kincaid's death at the jaws of Narizguun "planted" a Seed within the dragon's son, Shorimkaz, later called The Sheathe of Chaos by Keddigan and his followers. In short, it seems, the weapon forged was a seed of power within Kincaid, his sole purpose to die in order to grow the weapon in the belly of something of extreme unwieldy power.
The sword was intended to be drawn by Keddigan, upon Shorimkaz's death, in order to strike down Narizguun and purge him from existence. ...It seems that that was not how things went, and he was defeated at a great loss the traditional way; the face of Io was changed forever, and the fall of Narizguun marked the beginning of the Age of Ren (the third age).
Now, in recent times, the Knight Owls have come across more and more of Narizguun's follows; transient knights and killers who have gouged out their own eyes for dreaded boons and unholy power. While investigating the edge of the Underdark, a group fought the upper torso of an ancient black/blue dracolich (later revealed to be Narizfal). After this came a particular mission involving a broken and defaced temple of Corellon (Elven; music, magic, crafting, and the arts), turned temple of Tharizdun (eternal darkness, decay, entropy, chaos). While there, they fought off a hybrid gold/green dragon and witnessed the rise of the now lich-god of Narizguun as it burned its way out of the cave system. And there, beneath the battlefield, the group came across the broken, desiccated corpse of Shorimkaz, a strange stone slab resting in his broken chest with a slit, like a stone sheath, at its center. Further investigation yields this image as an illusion, meaning that whatever was there has been taken and moved elsewhere.
Shortly after the date on that report, Keddigan reveals that his connection to the seed changed somehow. The feeling had been adjusted; more "tingly." Not one to ignore a sign, he wonders if the Knight Owls collected could help him locate it. A few offer to attempt an energy scry on the seed, using Keddigan's blocked memories as a starting point...
Nikz, Roze, and Boom reach out and touch the crown of Keddigan's head. Time stops, and the group is transported to a windswept sky high above the city of Exian in an Erena that is familiar, but...larger. They cannot think on this long, as a roaring black storm cloud looms over them, a draconic face protruding from its center as lightning poises to strike. Nikz fires an arrow into the cloud, momentarily dispersing its center, like the eye of a storm, and through the column, the group witnesses a ship flanking the cloud. The ship is wreathed in three rings of elemental energy (red, hot white, and a radiant orange), and begins unleashing balls of fire and lightning upon the cloud, seemingly fired from the rings. The assault is short-lived, however, as a barrage of lightning easily disables the craft, sending it careening down toward a rising cloud of darkness (some might say, a rising hand of smoke and embers) at top of molten pillar.
As they watch it fall, the group is pulled toward that black smoke and flecks of embers, and find themselves standing on warmth volcanic rock, surrounded by a swirling wall of darkness and floating cinder. For a moment, they believe themselves alone, seeing only a knelt metallic statue in front of them. Soon, though, they see it rise, standing nearly 10 feet high, a long velvet cloak running down its back. It appears to be wiry, strong, heavily plated, with a v-shaped shield over its mouth. The armored creature's eyes whirr to life, casting amethyst light toward the group. It speaks, the voice emanating from its whole body, addresses the group.
"A blind soothsayer, a broken hand, and a tinkertoy visit this one today. To come to this Fardream, you must be in seek of something. But ye travelers speak of things apart from this time. You must ask the right questions."
Boom steps forward. "We have been told that the seed of our salvation has grown fruit. Do you know where we can find the power to fight the oncoming storm that threatens our family and home?"
A moment passes, and the creature speaks again, answering without answering. "This Fardream is a memory. His memory. Of me. Of this terrace. To reach beyond it is to challenge the will of The Many. ...He was not worthy, and thus will not remember what lies beyond this one. Thus, the way is shut for here and now; this one cannot access it. But the time you come from, it may yet be opened..." Its eyes flicker rapidly on and off for a moment. "...and has been once already. To grant peace to four who longed for it."
Nikz tries. "If we approach the Fardream in our time will it consume us like it did those four?"
Its eyes flicker again and stare at Nikz. "This space is the Fardream. A memory, locked and still, buried deep in the Aether of time and spirit. ...You speak to his memory of this one, now, in the past... This one knows not of the future. This one only knows what this one" it points to Roze, "has witnessed."
Roze looks up suddenly, anxious and meek. "If you hold my broken memories and knowledge of things I struggle to remember - will there be more to see in another's memory? Is the knowledge we need buried deeper? ...I cannot fail another family..." She grips the golden longsword, Kincaid's "conduit key," tighter in her hand.
The creature holds up a metal hand. "This one can only see one's recent memory. To reach deeper would cause you pain..." The group hears clinking metal, like gears, and the creature becomes a little taller, regarding them all assembled.
Nikz: "Why was he not worthy? What is the will of The Many?"
“Too many died, they said, because of the hope it brought. He was not worthy. None have been worthy. So it was The Many, in their wisdom, who gifted it to us. I am the gatekeeper, the loremaster, the champion, and its guard. Here we covet the discarded, the forgotten, the seeking, and the Barren; until they are needed again." A moment passes. "He, the demigod, could not summon the blade from its sheath. He was not worthy. He failed the Trial laid out by The Many. ...This one has knowledge of all that came before, for this one was built for the job. They named this one Koda, the Wise. More answers lie in this Fardream. You must ask the right questions..."
At this moment, the assembled party feels the embers press inward and a powerful pressure sets upon their bodies. They resist the coming exhaustion, but time is clearly limited in this space. The questions become more frequent, the members talking over each other.
Roze struggles against the pressure, whispering to herself, "Who endures this pain, me or my king?" An echo on the wind and another rush of pressure answers the question for her, but Koda tilts his head to her and attempts to answer. "This one is the memory of the demigod; it is only you three who are...trespassing."
Nikz asks in rapid succession: "Is The Many one of the Seven old gods? Did you call Kincaid's cursed men to the Raised Barrens? Are you there now?"
Roze looks at her ally and attempts to redirect his thoughts: "We need to find another way to approach this. It's never the most obvious answer..." But Nikz seems set on his path.
Boom: "How is one judged worthy? Where do we go to be tested?"
Koda turns to each of them in turn, pausing between answers. "The Many called Wolfe Ward and the brothers to my citadel. We were ready to covet them; covet their need for peace and sending. We did not curse them, though. Only granted their dust. In the past, lord Ward and his fleet of wyvern riders were inspired to engage the storm of dragons. They left broken, and fled the conflict all together, unable to redeem themselves. ...The right questions are often obvious, once one forms the right words. ...You must enter where the Espers came to die, the fallen of the Ferusian Wilds. This one's home."
The pressure surrounding continues to rise, driving Nikz to his knees.
Koda continues. "To be judged is to face our forge of Trials. To test your mettle and mind, and be deemed worthy by the entities who forged each test. We have many trials, many items to seal away, until they are needed. ...This "seed." This one knows this Trial. It was forged by three of the Seven Wings. It will take much to pass, this one gathers."
Nikz: "Why did you call me a 'broken hand'? Just being condescending?"
"This one sees dichotomy lingering upon your soul. A Hand, at least one who pulls the will of The Many without question, is resolute in all things, and questions not. ...This one is uncertain if you were insulted. Questions are keys, too, and important to keep."
Nikz: "...Thank you, Koda. I will keep that in mind. I hope to see you soon in the world of the real."
The pressure kicks into the party, knocking the wind out of Nikz and exhausting Boom's form. Time runs short...
Roze prepares her body, taking a knee next to Nikz, and addresses Koda. "Friend, is there anything I can say to remind those who have forgotten so we may search for answers in our realm?" ...But Koda just stares back at her. Either he won't answer or there isn't one to give.
Nikz: "Are the Espers the cursed ones that carried the ring with Kincaid's soul in it? Who was Wolfe Ward?"
"The Espers are the self-proclaimed descendants of the ancient elemental gods. They led a war from the beyond the Aether eons ago, in the first age, using ships powered by their raw energy. When they lost, their remnants came here, to the Barrens. ...Wolfe Ward came to us as a Revenant, hundreds of years old and eager for death. ...the Thousand Year Door is the gate that stops foolish travelers; only one key can open it, forged before my time by another Hand."
Nikz persists, as the darkness presses inward, the space becoming smaller and smaller. "Where can this hand find the key to the Thousand Year Door?"
"...by this one's calculations, one of your comrades is already in possession of it, but knows how it functions."
A tingling current runs up Roze's spine, the sword thrumming with power. Before she can think on it, Boom interrupts with, "Where is the trial forge?"
"...In the citadel."
Roze struggles against the rising wind. "We need to return home! We need to regroup." She holds up the sword to Koda. "Is this the key we seek, does it hold the answers? Please, tell me how to help my king!" The howling wind begins to fill the group's ears. As the space grows tighter, some see Koda nod once.
Boom: "How do we get called to the citadel? Where is it?"
"The citadel lies in this one's city, I have already told you. ...For security, I know not what the key looks like nor its secrets, but that one there," he points to Roze, "resonates at the right frequency. One must find its forger to know its command word."
Roze, suffering from the exhaustion from the experience, openly apologizes to her king to rising winds, then turns to Koda. "Thank you, friend." And with this, wills her exit from the Fardream. Instantly, her form dissolves into dust and smoke, joining the swirling winds around the group. Seeing this, Boom attempts to leave, to run; it does not take much, and he, too, dissolves, leaving Nikz alone in the vortex. A menacing roar spears though the rising sound; dread spreading across the ground.
Nikz: "Well, Koda the Wise, it seems it is time for me to go. Is there anything I can bring you when we meet next? Something from the outside you would like?"
Koda stands in silence for a few moments, thinking. "This one's protege, Anakrusis, is most curious of an herb called Songsteal. It once grew on the island of Ixtapex near the southern edge. ...Farewell, Broken Hand. This one hopes you never repair, for your own sake." Koda the Wise steps back a few paces into the smoke and embers, and Nikz feels the pressure fade.
He blinks and finds himself drenched in sweat, kneeling next to a laughing Keddigan. His allies, Boom and Roze, sit near him wrapped in blankets and enjoying warm tea and potions. Keddigan claps him on the shoulder. "Welcome back, friend. Haven't done one of those in a thousand years or so. Well done. Well done, all of you." He stands up and looks to the rest of the room. "Now, let's unpack what the heck that was..."