Aurobin-dô

King defends theatre from demonic threat
One dead, four injured as summoner at large

City of Aurobin — A USC company performance of Love and the Nation was interrupted Saturday night by a deadly act of magical terrorism. Near the end of the first act, a panic broke out near the rear of the theatre when the first of four fanged, winged demons appeared suddenly in the audience. King Manthyos Aux V lept from his box and vanquished the infernal threat before they could cause much more damage.

“I had already heard the cries for help when one of those things appeared in front of me,” recalls Dennis Gaglias, one of those injured in the attack. “I covered my face so it started tearing into my arm. Then it pulled me to the ground and jumped on top of me. I thought I was going to die, but then the king leaps out of his box and casts a spell and suddenly my wounds disappear. Then a freaking dragonborn flips off the balcony after him and kills the thing with its poison breath. I mean, what was the king doing with a […] dragonborn?”

Reports of King Manthyos, 16, training in combat as an adventurer seem to have credibility. He and his usual entourage—with the notable addition of an unidentified dragonborn—were equipped for battle within a moment’s notice to deal with the foes, according to several eyewitnesses. The king and his court, which includes his vizier and personal bodyguard, have gone on several extended trips lately, which rumors claim have been some sort of adventuring tour.

Despite quelling the danger in the theatre, reports suggest the attack was the instigated by a summoner who managed to escape. The unidentified summoner is wanted by the Royal Arms on the charge of capital murder, for being causally responsible for the untimely death of Lord Arthur Ramsey. Ramsey’s funeral service will take place this Sunday.

A spokesman for the USC expressed his regrets over the attack and assures patrons in attendance that evening that they will receive a refund or a raincheck for their ticket.

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Dwarves in the Aftermath of the Future

The defeat of the Void Snake simultaneously in 952 AC and 88 AC caused a revision of events around Aurobin-dô. As most of the temporal discrepancies concerned the fate of the dwarves, a majority of the impact was not felt on the Aurobinian mainland—but rather, in the caves below.

It is no secret among scholars that the Void Snake dug the Underdark itself in a single millennial instant, before absorbing all the light within the earth and succumbing to hibernation. Thus, when the dwarves reached its resting chamber, they were already only a few miles from the Underdark proper. Thus, after the historical revision provided them with the leadership and direction to continue digging, they needed only excavate a bit of collapsed and dilapidated tunnel to reach a treasure trove of mineable, uninhabited, undeveloped estate.

The Nirnayak empire became a thing of beauty and power in the Underdark. Most dwarven clans in the Omkar mountains and the Ramcharitmanas were voluntarily absorbed into Nirnayak before they had the chance to be introduced to the Aurobinian humans.

The spread of Nirnayak below Aurobin-dô was not all prosperity, however. Expansion had its price when the dwarves first encountered illithids in the Underdark; the centuries have seen many raids on dwarven centers and outposts, with none returning from the mind flayers’ fortified stronghold. Mining and hunting disputes have also made dwarves an enemy in the Drow, with the two sides harboring a mutually savage and remorseless antagonism.

Some things never change though, and lore remembers a time, some centuries ago, when a young dwarf named Kell sacrificed himself to seal the Toltenon Spiderbane, the blade destined to slay Lolth herself, in a mythic subterranean lighthouse far to the south.

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The First Sephiroth
As told by Avaryl

Listen well, young one. Tens of thousands of years ago, when my ancestors were first taking human shape, they lived on an island called Beastchester, which sat on the back of an enormous turtle. This turtle roamed the oceans of the world in a meandering but cyclical path. Meanwhile in the Feywild, the island’s fey analog drifted through the skies on the back of a giant manta ray. Where Beastchester had a volcano, the floating fey island was home to a large tree. Once every few months, Beastchester would drift through a patch of planar bleed with the Feywild; when this occurred, the tree would be visible to everyone in the city—as would the dryad who called it home.

Over the years, catching a glimpse of the dryad in the tree would be considered a sign of good luck. The people nicknamed her “Avandra.” Some people began to praise her for their fortunes; others would whisper short prayers in her name. A turning point came only a few thousand years ago when my ancestors finally learned how to control the path of the turtle. They charted an elaborate sea atlas using the locations of planar bleed as permanent landmarks— marked with Avandra’s signa.

As faith and worship of Avandra grew, so did the divine energy available to the witless dryad. She knew nothing of this Beastchester and its humans other than what she could glimpse during the bleed to the material realm. And yet, as more of my ancestors praised her and brought her name with them while colonizing new lands, Avandra’s ability to watch over her people increased. Eventually she was called by the Pantheon to become an official god to humans and create her first sephiroth. As a dryad whose life force is inescapably tied to her tree, this was an easy—if naive—choice.

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Letter from K. Wilburwind to G. Jetbeard
December 13, 949

Beloved Gorius,

I hope you are well. I had wished to visit Nirna over the New Year but silver is tight around the Safehouse and guests are plentiful. You’ll never believe it, but travelers are getting swindled out of their spending money by some fly-by-night casino ring that just opened up in Trimendir. I have a group of Avandra blessed volunteers on the case right now, though, and I have faith in their fortune. If they can be discreet, we can halt their immoral operation without implicating the temple. Anyway, you understand why your Kissy can’t be with you.

My nephew Quinn is coming back to town this summer, and I’m going to ask him to stay. He’s a paragon of Avandric virtue and I think he would be a better clergyman than I. If he will learn the rites, I hope to pass the high priest vestments to my nephew before the Raven’s Winter is upon us again. Let him worry about paying the bills, if I can be with you in the mountains. Not just for a holiday. We can live out our years as the last of the Jetbeards, mister and mister.

This is only if Quinn agrees to be ordained high priest, mind you. Even Loghaine, whom Quinn found abandoned as an infant, barely remembers his face. He may not want to settle down here, or anywhere. I’ve told you before how Rutabegga would be terribly unfit for the job. He can run an inn but he can’t defend the temple from marauders. Avandra needs a strong leader like Quinn or me. But as long as I lead the temple, it is you who bares the choice to visit. Just remember how I always make the trip worthwhile.

Forever faithful,

Kismet

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A Night at the Monastery
Negrabado is dead and the grimoire has been stolen...

Tired and sore Grandis slumps down in the corner of the old monastery training room, the very same room in which he spent his entire youth.

“Damn, I hate this fucking place. I wasted my life here, trying to make Dad like me and maybe get him to treat me as his son for once. Now he’s dead and he died like the lying snake that he is.”

Grandis draws his knees into his chest and leans forward looking at the enormous stone pillar he had been working on—the indents of where his fists made contact with the hard rock.

“I’ve come a long way in the time I’ve been gone; I could work on these rocks all day and never leave a scratch. (sigh) He’s really dead… Loghaine, you asshole. Sure, he deserved to die, but how dare you kill him so quickly. I’ve had too many years to foster my distaste and bitterness for you to pass you’re bullshit judgement on him. It isn’t enough for me. I’m glad he’s dead, but I can’t stop wishing he was alive. There are so many more answers I have left to find.”

Grandis, still restless, stands and walks to the wall his father showed him earlier. “Which one was it again? I think it was this one….” He touches one of the bricks on the wall. Nothing happens.

“Dammit.” He begins frantically smacking the various bricks with his palms. After a flurry of fists the wall slides back and opens the passage he had been looking for. “I’m gonna have to mark that thing.”

The stained glass mural sits in the wall in the end of a long gothic passage. The monk stands in its presence lit by the light of the moon and the stars. “So that’s suppose to be me—can this thing even be real? Or is it just some fake created by my father?”

Grandis gets closer and inspects the figures in the mural. “It almost has to be me, so does this mean my dad knew all along I was the one foretold? Not only that but the others… Trill, Loghaine and Durtha are clearly up there, so where’s this new one Quinn? Does that mean he’s going to die, or was he never suppose to be here in the first place?” He shakes his head and rubs his eyes, “There’s so much going on here I don’t know what to think, Durtha lost the book that can doom all the realms as we know it, and the man who stole it knew we going to be here. But how?” Grandis turns away and makes for the door. “Ether way, we have to get the Grimoire back and after that we make for the Sephiroths.” The door closes behind him as Grandis heads up to the abbot’s bedchamber.

“So what to do with this place…. Well, maybe that could work. It’s not like I know anything else.” Once in his father’s old room Grandis is still unable to sleep; he spends the rest of the night scrawling on a old piece of parchment. He manages to get some rest only after image on the parchment takes form.

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Back in Aurobin
From Loghaine's Journal

It is winter in Aurobin. The cold is a welcome change from the constant flames in the City of Brass. I wish to forget that damned city as soon as possible. It has been hard to gather my thoughts since the events that took place in the past week, but I need to get this out.

I have killed a great many creatures: monsters, animals, a cruelly high number of sentient beings… but until last week, it had always been in defense of another, or an act of justice. This time, it was for the sake of convenience. The sultan of the City of Brass lies dead at our hands. We gained his trust and betrayed him, all for a key to a vault. What disturbs me most, though, is that I do not regret it. Presented with the same situation again, I would not have acted any differently. We did it to destroy a Sephiroth. Perhaps I am just becoming the Gray Guard I was meant to be.

That being said, I am no longer a knight of the Raven Queen. Upon our arrival in Aurobin, we were greeted by Grandis’s father, who had been made High Priest of the Church of the Raven Queen. He deceived us, tried to mold us to some old prophecy, stole the tome, and died for it on my blade. I left my holy symbol on his body. I have been a tool of the gods for too long. My first thought was that Avandra would always and forever hold my loyalty, but even she used us to correct her mistakes. Nobody- not my father, not the Raven Queen- will use me again. Their servants will forsake their gods or they will die.

Poor Avandra… she has passed on. I feel no ire for her. Though I now consider her as more of an equal than a goddess, even though I was her tool, I am sad to hear of her passing. Perhaps it’s for the best. I’m sure she would be ashamed of what I have become.

My sleep has been troubled lately. I see nightmares almost every night- visions of Durtha laughing maniacally as we are drawn into darkness; images of my wife and daughter lying dead at my father’s feet. I would pray for their safety, but I no longer have faith that any god would help without taking something from us. My friends and I must put an end to this madness with our own power.

Power… my powers continue to work for some reason. I am godless, but I can still fight like I used to. My power has certainly changed (I do not know why), but it has grown. I am stronger than I ever was while serving Avandra, or even the Raven Queen. I do not know where this power comes from. It feels different than channeling the power of the divines; more intimate, more real. In any case, I will continue to use it to bring down my father. For vengeance, for Aurobin… for Miriel and Nyleena. I vow to make this world safe again.

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My darling Fillin
A letter from Trill to her husband

My darling Fillin,

I don’t write often enough, do I? I always have so much to tell, but to actually speak to you beside me is what I’d prefer. And of course there is a reason for this letter. I’m still in doubt as to whether it was a good or terrible thing I did. I’m still puzzling over why I did what I did.

Remember the last we met? I had just lost my lead to stopping Zippo. My companions have kept me busy lately, so I was surprised when I picked up information on him. A child with red hair and horns going by the name of Zippo was in Aurobin City. We were in the city within a day of my learning of this and I inquired about the dragon. Of course, no one had seen a dragon, but a horned boy was a separate matter.

I learned of his whereabouts from a baker whose bread he had been stealing. My friends
surrounded the Inn he was residing in and cleared the building. I was relishing the thought of destroying the child of the one who destroyed ours. I was anticipating the violence to come so much, I was queasy. It must have been the thought of little Enni and Cerra that drove the words I wanted to spit from my mind. For I found him, cowering beneath a bed, terrified of me, begging to not be killed.

He’s just a scared little boy, I thought, even as my rage tore at my mind blindly, trying to take
over. I felt as if I were two people; one part a monster intent on killing, the other a mother wanting nothing more to comfort a scared child. When he reverted to his true dragon form I couldn’t shake the sight of Zippo as an innocent child, afraid and alone. I thought of how Cerra and Enni must have thought in their last moments and I couldn’t do it. The room lurched. I dropped my axe. I said I didn’t want to kill him.

My companions were probably as surprised as I was, but they didn’t enter the room and I was able to speak with Zippo for a while longer. It was hard speaking. Pent up hate and rage and sorrow all battled for control of my voice, but I managed to convince him not to raise his father, Iaquinta. I destroyed the ritual when he gave it to me. The dead should remain dead. Isn’t that the point of what I’m doing with the others?

I didn’t kill Zippo. I didn’t exact the perfect revenge that I’ve craved for all of these years. It would not have brought our darlings back. Zippo just wanted his friends and family alive again. If I could bring Cerra and Enni back to my arms, I would do almost anything… was that really why I set out to kill dragons in the first place? Did I really believe I could even the scales and have my children return to me? I was a fool, Fillin. I didn’t let myself mourn them until now. If I didn’t have to save the blasted world, I would be on my way to your side.

What I did twists my stomach in knots still. I can’t help feeling like I could have done more for Zippo. Or kill him and be done with it. Oh, the thoughts that have gone through my head! Anyone would laugh to hear them. Zippo the parentless dragon and Trill the childless Halfling. Such thoughts make me bitter for too many reasons to count. Cerra and Enni are gone forever from us. Only now is it creeping into my heart fully, all these years later. I want to be with them, Fillin. I want to go home. I want to be Trill Bobbinforth once more, with you by my side and our children laughing and growing. I want to purge from me the horrors I’ve seen and the sorrows I’ve fought for. I want peace.

If the world doesn’t burn and my axe remains keen, you will see me home for the last time. I love you, my darling Fillin. Light a candle for me and the children, and we’ll return to you.

Trill

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Song of the Sephiroth
From "Old Human Songs of Worship" – Page 44

When men were crossing the open sea,
Avandra (Avandra) had crossed the trees,
And taught excursion to the faerie,
This was the first sign of the deity.

Glory to the voyage, praise to the omnipresent.

The men were docked and hunting meat.
In Her name (Avandra) one gamebeast freed,
‘Go forth with fortune and ne’er defeat;
The second sign doth thou accede.’

Glory to the invulnerable, praise to the omnipotent.

Pioneering traderoutes was a man ordained
To bring our lady (Avandra) to the fiery plane,
To show that commerce needn’t be profane,
To build the third sign into the terrain.

Glory to the shrewd, praise to the omniscient.

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Avandra & the Luck Cult
From "A History of Aurobinian Religions" – Chapter 13

Avandra, the goddess of luck, travel and merchants, began her church under the banner of world famous traveler Azarado Atyxos. Atyxos was adventurous and compassionate, and his magnetic spirit drew many followers even before he was ordained as Avandra’s first high priest. Though Atyxos was a good choice to spread Avandra’s fledgling religion, he was not ready for the power She would bestow upon him. He was granted many abilities as high priest, including a supernatural overland speed and an extraordinary business cunning, but Atyxos became obsessed by one specific boon: his phenomenal luck.

After a few years, the sermons Atyxos would deliver as he wandered from town to town became increasingly dogmatic. He implored all people to give praise and offering to Avandra in order to receive better luck. He reduced all evil and suffering in the world to expressions of bad luck, and promised all apostles a utopia of perfect luck in the afterlife—just like Atyxos himself already enjoyed.

Avandra was not happy with this, as part of Her duty is to preserve the integrity of luck, both good and bad. But since Atyxos was not doing or saying anything outright blasphemous, Avandra was bound to her high priest’s promises by Dogmatic Law. Avandra’s hands were tied; She even tried to have him killed by sending him on dangerous pilgrimages, but the luck She had granted him carried him through every trial.

Eventually, Avandra became desperate for a new high priest—one that She would not bless so recklessly. By this point, Atyxos’ following was bordering on cult of personality. Some began worshiping him under the title “Luckbringer.” Others, including his head acolyte Mortnoroc, were expecting him to overthrow Avandra in her domain. In desperation, the goddess journeyed to the Shadowfell to beg a favour from the Raven Queen. After an undisclosed agreement was settled, the Queen of Death discreetly snipped the lifethread of Azarado Atyxos.

This freed Avandra to ordain a new high priest, but all was not well. The luck cult persisted under Mortnoroc, only his leadership twisted the organization in a dark direction. The cult’s new belief was that luck would bring about utopia for only so long, and that necromancy and undeath were necessary to prolong utopia indefinitely. Mortnoroc began researching and designing an unholy ritual that would not only return Atyxos from the dead, but raise him to the deific status he deserves. This ritual required many living sacrifices, though, and the cult began abducting and murdering outsiders and trapping their souls within crystals.

While Her own congregation was too small at this point to consider warring with the cult, Avandra eventually drafted a plan to stop them. She believed that it would be possible find the loved ones of all the sacrifice victims and unite them under a common banner, allowing them to channel all of their pain and revenge-lust into something constructive and organized.

An experienced manipulator of fortune, Avandra was able to route these hundreds of otherwise unrelated people to the Main Temple in Madhyabindu. Each person came for a different reason, but when Avandra’s new high priest explained to them how they could save the world and avenge their friends and family, most of them were willing to take up arms and vanquish the cult.

After a short but bloody battle, Mortnoroc was killed and his followers scattered. Unfortunately, the altar was never found, so the souls of the sacrificed were never released. Yet rumours persist that Mortnoroc needed less than a dozen souls to complete his ritual, so it may be that Atyxos would have been resurrected had Avandra delayed even a few days longer.

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Adremmelech
Who's fighting on which side?

After arming themselves beyond insanity, the travelers made their way back to the tower. The guards scanned the group and determined that they were on the invite list, much to the surprise of them all. A trap door opened and they fell to the entrance to the party.

They talked to a few of the party goers to get whatever information on Adremmelech they could (excuse me, LORD Adremmelech) and when all they got was that he was staying in his penthouse at the top of the tower, they made their way to the elevator (how there’s a working elevator, noone knows). While the rest of the group was trying to figure out it the elevator was a trap, Murdock pushed the button for the penthouse. A fingerprint identifier slid out, which he pressed his thumb to. Unbeknownst to the group, it wasn’t scanning his fingerprint, but scanning for evil. The doors slid closed and they were on their way up.

When they got off the elevator they sat the two Tieflings that had been giving them problems for so long. The Tieflings had heavily armed minions with them. The Tieflings were cocky and full of confidence until the visage of Adremmelech appeared and commanded the minions to leave, at which point the Tieflings became scared. “What do you expect? I’m a Betrayal Demon.”

The group made short work of the Tieflings. Now only a door blocked their way. The revenent Alaunt tried blasting the door, only to find it more challenging than he thought. Arkon decided to try the handle, and found the door to be unlocked, but there was still a bar blocking the door from opening on the other side. Arkon slid his sword through the crack to lift the bar up and remove it. With that done the door opened with ease.

The group was now facing Adremmelech. In the middle of the floor was the stone they had been searching for. Arkon walked right up to the stone, grabbed it, and tossed it in his backpack. This enraged the demon, who attacked. What the rest of the group did not know was that the two Devas that they had picked up along the way were actually servants of the demon. They attacked the other members of the group, dealing heavy damage. It was at this time that Murdock revealed how evil he could be by turning the floor into not only difficult terrain, but covered it in acid as well.

The Paladin lucked out and his god finally started paying attention. The group members fighting alongside him were able to deal double the damage to those that opposed them, and the health of their enemies was reduced by half. This resulted in the slaughter of Reya. The Paladin then was able to get his god’s help in removing the acid from the floor, turning it to ice, and brought the dwarf back from the dead.

From there the fight didn’t last long. Even Adremmelech’s second form was no match for the group. Once Aremmelech was dead, the group was once again caught by surprise by the reapperance of Alekren, who thought he’d be showing up to help out, but ended up missing out on the fun. He informed Dusk that part of the reason he left was to help her out, and to prove what he did, he handed her the bow that usually never left her father’s side, proving that the one person in her family that was hunting her was no longer a threat. He also returned the amulet that the dwarf had lied about. The only thing he couldn’t return was the Dwarf’s head, which was on a mantle in Lockjaw’s shop.

Now the group had to decide who was going to destroy the stone, since it couldn’t be allowed to stay in the world. The dwarf volunteered, throwing the stone into a bag of holding. He did now, however, wait until they had left. When nothing happened he was slightly puzzled, which gave the rest of the group a chance to run like hell. Stone grabbed another bag of holding, and tossed the first one into the second one, thus resulting in a cataclysmic event. Alekren lead most of the group of the window, which was still several thousand feet above the ground. Fortunately, Zippo was waiting for them like Alekren and he had planned.

The group made it safely away as the phantom city, and Bob, ended up swallowed by the vortex.

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