Keepers of the Realm
For the purpose of this log, there will be break lines between my posts and Courtney's, additionally, mine are red , Court's are purple. These are the events that Rinn encountered after touching the orb, she tells the story to the keepers 24 hours later when she finally awakens. Kline has gathered the group together. Rinn is tired, she has a cool cloth on her forehead, and her palm is bandaged, blood staining the cloth; she is visibly spent.
It's suddenly dark, Rinn's mind loses its connection to the material world though you physically feel nothing you mentally and spiritually form a connection with an ethereal world. You feel as though your weightless a simple shell of what you were, what you are. After what seems like an eternity you feel your eyes open, though your body remains limp and surrounded by the others in the material plane. But they do not see this, and you do not see them. You are a spirit, you yourself have become ethereal.
As you look around you realize you are no longer down in the depths of the lyceum where you once were. You are in a dark, cave, cold with withered and dead shrubs. There is an opening at the mouth of the cave that looks like the maw of a beast, complete with the stalagmites and stalactites as the teeth of the beast. The dirt beneath your body where you lay is like clay cold and lifeless.
You shiver from the howling of wind that surrounds you…
I want to look around to see if someone is nearby
The cave is empty
"Who has brought me here?"
There is no response. Just the wind.
I want to follow the cave
You're already at the end of it. Your only option is out.
I'll walk out then
"I'm here for a reason…..why am I here?"
You stand from where you are at the cave, it's dark in there but as you move toward the cropping ahead you sense the light. It is not bright, not in the slightest but you can make out figures if need be. You step outside, the clay cracking beneath your feet.
Something feels strange…But this place is familiar. This place you've seen before. This place you've gazed upon as a babe… This is home… But far, far from your village in the Shadowfel.
You gaze up at the sky above you, you see a sight you know of… There is a maelstrom of swirling souls that shine like stars. This is Letherna, home of the Raven Queen.
(Am I in the Farad exitis?)
I want to make my way to the palace
"If she has brought me here, it's important"
Your surroundings begin to change… Looking around you see only death, death in the trees, death in the shrubs, and death in the myriad of souls that walk the landscape before you. It snows and the ground beneath your feet is no longer clay as you continue out of the cave crossing a narrow land bridge that is surrounded by a chasm on either side of you. As you walk you continue to notice that there are no foot prints left behind you and the howling is not howling of wind at all but the lost screams of those who died and are searching for their place in this land of undead.
(Do I feel cold?)
I pulled my hood over my head and continue on trying to avoid looking at the faces of the dead
The dead are of no use to me
I push ahead through the snow
The dead pass by your ethereal form, almost as if knowing that you yourself are not dead, are not a soul trapped within this void, yet they avoid the contact, almost as if knowing that it would bring no good, bring no path for their current state.
Looking behind you at the cave, you realize this is no cave at all… Billowing flocks of ravens take flight as one approaches this great stronghold, an impenetrable fortress built into sheer mountain walls. Even seen from a distance, the edifice is visibly withered with age and gloom, though it retains the majesty of years. Crafted out of black ice, the building is partially melted in places. Buttresses hang limply, windows are half obscured by dropping architecture, and overhangs drip like icicles.
Most mortals regard the temple of Zvomarana as the Raven Queen’s holiest of holies, but the lesser-known Farad Exitis also attracts devoted pilgrims and adventurers. Pilgrims come under the promise of having their deepest, most pressing questions answered.
Also called Fate’s Bastion, the temple is carved into the side of a canyon. The only way to reach Farad Exitis is by navigating a series of caves, then crossing a bridge that spans the chasm.
I think I should go to where I would find the Raven Queen
And if that's Zvomarana, then that's where I must go
But I want to pass through the Fates Bastion
As you pass the chasm, normally part of a test made for pilgrims, one that you know, is completely undoable in as a lone individual. It takes some time but you eventually cross the land bridge.
You stop in your heels for a moment, frozen, unable to move because of the sight before you. A large, lumbering figure with a weapon you have never seen before is currently engaged in a battle with several spirit hounds, he is the only non ethereal being you have come across thus far.
Vorkhesis is the Exarch of the Raven Queen, the Master of Fate, and the very first sorrowsworn ever created. He has no eyes, but he can still see you… He is quick to dispatch the beasts, laying them to the snowy floor for their final rest.
As he turns toward you, you notice the lack of eyes, and yet, you feel his stare, that he is aware of your presence.
I approach him and bow to him
You know that the being can and has spoken before, though its words through that maw tend to be piercing to the ears of the living. Its mouth seems to drool with a thick viscus liquid, a pale green to the fluid. It does not speak with its voice, but you hear a low, husky, but rather piercing voice in your mind when you bow. He turns to bow in return, the wind flowing the cape behind him and in your mind it you hear… "Shadar-Kai, you have been summoned by the queen."
"Will you take me to her? I expect that it is very important if she has summoned me from so far away"
"Let us make haste"
The being nods for a moment and turns to face the palace… leading the way through the flurry of snow, His steps are slow, but purposeful, digging into the snow and leaving his footprints in them as he walks, a trail that your soul moves over with its own pace. The journey itself is long, and the being moves to strike down any souls, beast or man that approaches, giving them their final rest.
Days seem to pass, literal days, but you do not feel the urge to sleep in this form, however, you recall the length of time it took to get to Rivergard and this seems no different in the trek. Eventually you do manage to make it within a thousand yards or so of this palace.
To gaze upon this edifice of black ice is to leave the light of life and hope behind. The might fortress wears darkness like a shroud, radiating a chill even colder than that of the surrounding mountains.
High above, streams of souls approach from all directions and coalesce in a maelstrom of writhing incorporeal forms. Souls trickle down steadily toward the palace gate, and every so often the black-winged form of a mighty Sorrowsworn rises to the storm and draws one forth.
Over the journey Vorkhesis speaks no words, but as you make your approach he stops at a large pillar. "You remember how to gain audience with the Raven Queen? The stories of your youth…"
(You remember you must stand in a circle of shrubs around this first pillar and meditate The shrubs are known as Shadowthorns and they do cause pain even in your ethereal form when you enter them)
(piercing pain or general pain/discomfort?)
I nod to him, moving into the circle of Shadowthorns with a wince against the pain. I get into a seated position, glance up at Vorkhesis and thank him for taking me this far before adjusting my legs beneath me to begin meditation
(Piercing. Night 1, what do you meditate on?)
I will meditate on…. something simple like fortitude because it's painful to be near the Shadowthorns
prepare myself for whatever the Raven Queen will ask me to do
You spend the first night meditating on your fortitude, throughout the evening, you maintain your consciousness and focus. As you meditate Vorkhesis stands at the edge of the Shadowthorns, killing any wandering spirits that attempt to break your focus.
(Night 2, what do you meditate on?)
hmm, I will meditate on perseverance in my devotion to the Raven Queen and her laws
Very well, your second night in meditation on your devotion to the Raven Queen and her laws is like the first, Vorkhesis watching over you as you meditate and maintain your focus. You feel more enlightened, lighter of any burden you carried in the past, even the burdens of your sister passing.
I will meditate on seeking the truth of the strange natural disasters plaguing the world I have been traveling with the Keepers
I fear that the activities of cultists could be related to Orcus
On the final night you meditate in the Shadowthorne, Vorkhesis is relentless in his fortitude and continues to protect you through the 24 hours of meditation. Three days have passed and when you open your eyes, the pillar before you begins to glow with a black and purple shadow that swirls around it. When you stand, you feel relief, a relief you have not felt in quite some time. You walk through the Shadowthorne this time and there is no pain. "Are you ready for the second pillar?"
"I believe so. Why do these shrubs no longer pain me?"
As Vorkhesis leads you to The Bleak Fallow, he clears his throat. "Shadar-Kai, you had a burden upon your shoulders, one that has been with you for too long. The Shadowthorne pricks and feeds upon the burdens of the living, ease your burden and you will pass through any and all pain." When he leads you to The Bleak Falls he points to the hot springs among the snow. "Wash your burden…" (For three days, you are to bathe in the cistern of The Bleak Falls) "I will set camp for the evening."
I'd like to approach the cistern & look into the water
After a moment, I'll put my things together next to it n get in
(How does the water feel to me?)
(It's warm, relaxing, and soothing to mind, body, and spirit.)
I'll submerge myself, dunking my head and rubbing my face. The water feels good after walking through the cold.
Silence of the water is peaceful, away from the lost spirits that I have encountered during my time here.
I wonder how much time has truly passed
But push it aside, it does not matter how much time is spent in this realm. I will be returned to my compatriots when the time comes.
I come up to breath and look over to Vorkhesis
After submerging yourself in the water, you feel as though any lingering corruption that the faith healer in the temple of Talos may not have been able to purify, has now been removed from your body and spirit. The cleansing in this cistern is pure, it feels as though your mind has begun to relax as well. After some time, you remove yourself from the spring and dress,
Heading to the camp that Vorkhesis has made for you, you enter the shelter, however before doing so, you recall the third pillar requires a blood raven skull. The first evening, you stay up, waiting, watching, trying to spot your eye upon one but nothing comes. Vorkhesis replies in your mind… "Patience Shadar Kai, your time here must not be rushed. Your companions will be there if you awaken. Sleep, I will keep watch, in the morn, bathe again."
I nod to him and go to sleep
Alright, you sleep.
The morning comes.
I wake, and return to the water for a longer bath
I'd like to try to find peace with the loss of my kin
Knowing that avenging her will right the dictates of the Raven Queen but never restore her to my side
Fair enough…. You do find some peace in this, the water is soothing and the silence around you makes you feel that you are the only one in the world at this present moment. You're able to concentrate on your loss, on your feelings, on your family. In some time, you leave the water, this time, the cold air around you seemingly not striking your bare skin in the way it did the previous days.
You dress and this time, spotting a bloodraven in the trees your spirit rushes toward Vorkhesis. You strip somehow, in your drive to serve the Raven queen, manage to make corporeal what is ethereal, your hand grips a dagger from Vorhesis' belt and you fling it into the tree. The bird drops and you retrieve it's head. Returning the blade, Vorhesis smiles and nods. "Your dedication and tenacity to the Queen is strong, few are able to make living what is dead." He of course speaks in your mind about what unfolded, your ability to bring your spirit to life.
Wake. Undress n get in the water. I'll think about the loyalty of Vorkhesis, a servant of the Queen. Immortal.
I wonder if he has any difficulty with the passage of time, seeing everyone fall. Or perhaps he accepts it as the natural path for all to follow.
He must accept it, for every life is finite
On the third day, after your bathing in the pool, you dwell on the loyalty of Vorkhesis, but you know that those who follow the Raven Queen are fiercely loyal. It reminds you of your own fortitude and tenacity, your own loyalty to her and you strengthen your resolve. Stepping out of the hot springs you move to dress, and as the previous night, you notice that even in the bare nudity, there is not cold, there is no freezing temperature. You dress and Vorkhesis points to a second pillar which has lit, he speaks in your mind.
"To the third pillar then Shadar-Kai…" The demon walks through the snow, step by step, dragging his large blade behind him as he leads you South East from the springs.
As you continue toward the third pillar, you begin to pluck the feathers from the head of the bloodraven, using the dagger from earlier to skni the flesh until only a head an the gem like eyes remain. When you reach the pillar after a day's journey, you find a small recess in it. Recalling the stories from your childhood, you reach forward, placing the skull into the recess, and turn it not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times. One for each of the pillars that stand. The eyes of the bloodraven skull's eyes begin to glow and so too does the pillar.
"One final pillar." Vorkhesis replies to you… as he trudges on through the snow.
I follow him
Vorkhesis eventually leads you to a final pillar, close to the base of the palace. Its a cold, black stone with runes all around it. Once you approach, Vorkhesis looks at your hand, then looks to the dagger, clearly he is suggesting something. "Bring life to the stone."
I cut my hand n drip blood on the runes
Dripping the blood onto the runes makes them begin to glow faintly. Vorkhesis takes the dagger from your hand, and takes your wrist in the other, flipping it palm side up. He then drags the dagger along the small wound you created until a flow of blood sufficient enough to feed life into the stone begins to pour. Her then presses your hand directly onto the stone, smearing the blood across it. As the stone and so too does his dagger begin to absorb the blood, the runes begin to glow and the final pillar is lit. "Welcome to Fate's Palace Shadar-Kai…" He then points to the doors of the palace and begins to walk away from the final pillar, until his form is obscured by the flurry of snow.
I watch him disappear before walking to the palace doors
Approaching Fate's palace, you begin to notice more corporeal creatures surrounding the palace, guards of sorts. Their disgusting looking visage terrifies you. You'd heard of sorrowsworn before but had never encountered any before this. From the stories, you knew these to be gaunt demons, huge in size and stature, but these, these look frail and weak as if they had been servants for hundreds of years. Still, they look as though a single strike would fell you.
They have hooked claws for hands, a dusky black hide, and slender bat-like wings emerging from its back. Its face is a demonic, skeletal visage contorted into a mockery of utter grief, with a wide toothy maw and two short and twisted horns upon its high brow. As far as you recall, the sorrowsworn were made from the Tana'ri demons that preyed upon feelings of grief and loss. The feelings in which the Raven Queen opposes, for a good death is a rightful death that should be celebrated.
My feelings of grief were left at the previous pillars, so they cannot feed on me
I think I have to approach the doors
"the Raven Queen has called me, let me pass to serve her"
In the heart of this black palace, the Raven Queen holds court, presiding over the souls of the deceased and musing upon the secrets of life and death that are her purview. Adventurers who reach Fate’s Palace are either utterly committed to the cause that drew them here, or they’re in far over their heads. Sorrowsworn guard the entrance to the palace, presided over by the deathlord Delatoth. She receives visitors and decides whether their business deserves the Raven Queen’s attention.
Seeing that the doors were opened from the pillars, Delatoth greets you in the same mind voice from earlier. She leads you to a chamber room at the center of the palace and ushers you through a pair of double doors.
Once inside, you see a glowing pool of purple and black sitting in a well, souls that were in the malestorm above have been plucked by the sorrowsworn and brought to this well to fill…
30 feet opposite of you are a set of 13 stairs and at the dais of the stairs sits a throne behind it a clear glass that looks out to Letherna. An intricate design in its frame work comprises the symbol of the raven queen. Standing beside it is a pale, but beautiful woman… She is dressed in black, with raven feathers adorning the fabric. Her hair is jet black. She nods to Delatoth who exits the chamber's and shuts the door behind you… The woman on the dais then sits upon the throne.
"Welcome, my daughter"
(just for clarity no not your mom… Just the raven queen calling you that)
I kneel before her
She simply nods, waiting for you to speak.
"You've called me to this place from Wrymwood of Keirea. I offer you any assistance necessary."
"Daughter, I have not called you, you touched something, an artifact of this realm and were brought here. Did you not notice the Raven's talon on the orb?" She adjusts on her throne… "If I was to call you hear, it is to address your lack of faith since you were sent to the material world. Only recently have you continued your prayers to me as you did when you were a child."
"Forgive me for the absence of prayers, I have been troubled by the death of my kin but as I have journeyed to the palace, have found peace through the pillars. My time in the material world has been turbulent, I have become part of a fellowship called the Keepers of the Realm. The factions found in the material world sent each of us from their ranks to investigate strange happenings. The orb you speak of, is one recovered by our leader….Kline Bladeseeker. There are other orbs as well. I saw only a smoke inside this orb."
"Do not stray from your faith Daughter, you will find solace in your queen just as her power within those pillars has calmed your soul. The orb you touched is the artifact that your family has protected for several years. It is what you would have discovered if your test was complete. Though your sister's death was unjust and not her time, you will have the revenge you seek." She stands and begins to walk down the stairs approaching you and placing her hand upon your shoulder to urge you to rise.
"The smoke within the orb is a turbulent flurry of wind. In the material realm, this year brought an unseasonably warm and stormy spring. Tales have continued to spread of windstorms, flooding, wildfires, and tremors. These troubles have a source known to few in the material realm who garner the age to remember the last sundering, Elemental Evil. Servants of this Malevolence have gathered in Faerun. Dabbling in dangerous lore, these fanatics seek to master elemental magic and unleash its destructive power everywhere. And they are further along in their plans than most in the realm have realized."
"What should I do with this artifact to keep it from these Servants of Malevolence? It seems unwise to keep it in the material world if it could destroy so much……..the last sundering? Is destruction inevitable to happen again?"
"Should I tell my material world compatriots of this danger? They each have such different ethics. One lives by a code of justice, another by destruction and vengeance, the others seem defensive in nature."
"I worry that the follower of Talos will want for the destructive power possible with these orbs"
"….if I have not yet completed my test, how should I judge completion?"
The Raven Queen leads you to the edge of the soul well, sitting upon it and tapping upon the stone beside her for Rinn to seat, you approach, and sit beside her. "Four elemental cults grow in power in the world of Faerun, claiming these abandoned keeps that the humanoids had built along the various continents. Within each of these fortresses lies chambers created by an ancient dwarven kingdom and beyond that, a temple built by the Drow worshippers of Elemental Evil. Each of the four cults venerates a power entity of air, earth, fire, or water: A Prince of Elemental Evil. Like their princes, the four cults are rivals, yet they all serve a mysterious force they call the Elder Elemental Eye….
She points to the pool of souls, and from it, the memories of several lost souls from centuries past begin to show the horror of the Elder Elemental Eye performing a sundering of the world, the elements in complete chaos, and mankind in complete and utter disarray.
"Each cult has a gifted prophet within the temples, they must be eliminated. The cults draw elemental creatures through catalysts known as nodes within the temples, places where Elemental Planes connect to the Material Plane. Similar to the way you are capable of traveling to and from the Shadowfel Plane. The cults draw elemental creatures through the nodes, and they use elemental magic to create devastation orbs capable of ravaging the country side. They've been testing these magic weapons, bolstering the cults' ranks, and infiltrating various communities, all directed by visions their prophets receive from the Elder Elemental Eye. Surely each prophet hopes to entice their elemental prince to pass through the node and wreak devastation to the world of Faerun.
There is much history to this, you should seek the knowledge of the scholars, ask them of the dwarves of Besilmer. The artifacts are the only keys to the temples, There will be recesses in large doors, in or around the strongholds the cults hold.
I am unaware of the words needed to activate the orbs as keys, the language has since been lost even to your queen. However, to enter the temples you need these artifacts. I assume the one who slay your sister will be found in the air temple, the Shadar Kai who betrayed you and your kin, likely a deed to whoever his prophet is. As for your compatriots, you must judge this on your own, If they decide to try to take the power into their hands, well, their fate will come by the hand of the Elder Elemental Eye, it cannot be contained.
As for your test…. Rinn, you are a very special child of mine, your tests will come, and you will visit me after felling each of these prophets, daughter, I have grand plans for you."
"I believe this information will aid me to help stop such destruction. How will I return to you after each test? Through the orb again?"
"I will find a way…"
"Will I recognize these tests?"
"The prophets are your tests…"
"So it should be my mission to eliminate these prophets, and their servants, as the Keepers continue"
"How will we find the words that activate the orbs?"
"If your compatriots value the world they live in, and the life they lead, then yes, you must continue your journey, Daughter. I do not have an answer for you, your companions must trust in one another, and in your leader to vanquish this evil."
(Some Meta here…)
"What should I do with the orb if and when our group succeeds at taking all the temples? Must it be returned to the Shadowfell?"
"Yes, the orb, that particular one must be returned to the shadowfel, the other three, trust in Kline to handle."
"Is there anything else I should know before I go?"
"Has the time passed in the material world just as it has here?"
She shakes her head from side to side. "Time has passed slower in the material plane, and you've been wounded there as you were here. Kline has tended to your hand, but you will scar, a draw of the blade diagonally upon your palm, a memory of your time spent with me. It has been one day in their world. When you are ready daughter, immerse yourself in the well of souls."
"I suppose now is as good a time as any, I've taken up time you could have been doing other things. Thank you for your words, I will pray more frequently for your wisdom to succeed in my tests."
I'll bow to her & get in the well?
As your body leans over the soul well, several of the souls within begin to coalesce and one eventually reaches to grasp your spirit arm. The feeling is cold, but you shrug it off, then another takes the other arm, it is a rather frightening experience as you are pulled down into the souls. Perhaps it was meant to strike the fear of your god in you… As your heart races, you hear in your mind the voice of the Raven Queen, "Do not falter in your prayers…" Suddenly, and more likely, it was the fear of the well that shocks the life back into your form and your eyes slowly flutter open to find Kline changing the cool towel across your forehead, sitting beside the bed. "Thank the gods, you're still alive…Are you alright Rinn?"
"Alright is a strange word to describe that feeling. I'm feeling quite alive after looking into the face of the dead"
"Thank you for watching over me while I was….gone."
(Some more meta here)
"Maybe…" He moves to flip the cloth over your forehead. "I'll gather the others, they will want to hear all of this… I think it would be best for you to rest here after, another day or so before venturing in Wyrmwood while the ship is completed."
This is the point in which Kline has sent out word for you all to join them… You are all currently in the room with Kline and Rinn, if you have a RP DIRECTLY RELATED to this this log, then post it here in the comments at the bottom, all subsequent rps to follow as well, HOWEVER, if its unrelated to this specific post, take it back to the forums—