Sunday, 23 October 2016

On the Way to Horizon Black

Welcome back to The Long Game! If you're new to the adventure, a short summary can be found here! If you're fairly familiar with our tale, you can check out the medium recap, here.

When last we left our heroes, they had just investigated the western outpost known as Deep Watch Bay. Officially, the outpost's purpose is to guard and warn the rest of the nation of Aes of the terrifying creatures coming from the deep ocean. However, our party, Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar, learned that it was a superweapon development complex. After exploring it, finding plenty of information about superweapons, they ended up fighting one! A super-psionic security force, capable of projecting harmful illusions, guarded the outpost.

As our heroes defeated him, they learned of an even more dangerous and secret base located farther west, known as Horizon Black. Rumoured to be the main superweapon facility, our party set sail!

Dallas Kasaboski
It was smooth sailing, the waters to the north and west of Deep Watch Bay were tranquil. Kalgar Drakeswynd was busy giving orders and commanding his fleet to move in the new formation he had designed. Kalgar stood on the port side of the Shockrosia, his dragon-hide jacket billowing in the wind. 

Suddenly, a gnome appeared at his side. Alvyn Sehanine, spy extraordinaire, smiled and handed Kalgar a clear jar with a moving, semi-fluid grey substance inside.

"Here, stick your hand in here." he said.

The scales above Kalgar's eyes moved as he looked down at his friend. 

"It won't hurt...I think." Alvyn reassured him.

Shrugging, Kalgar made a fist and stuck his right hand into the jar. The fluid felt smooth, cold, and suddenly, it coalesced! When he pulled his hand out of the jar, Kalgar was holding a long horn, curved, maybe from a dire ram, coloured blue, white, with silver accents. It was decorated with clouds, and wind, and lightning.

He handed it to Alvyn who flipped down a set of googles. Running his hands over it and mumbling, Alvyn was able to determine its true nature.

This magic item allowed someone to change the weather, at any time, simply by blowing into it. Any area larger than 100 ft in radius, and smaller than 10 miles, could be changed into any type of weather, although the item required focus, and some time if the weather change is drastic, or so Alvyn suspected.

Explaining this to Kalgar, he handed the horn to him. "Could come in handy." the gnome said.

Kalgar accepted the gift solemnly, but vowed to reflect on the item. As a devout follower of Kord, lord of storms and battle, an item that could change the weather at will was worth thinking about. If his adventures had taught Kalgar anything, it was that power must be understood to be used properly.

After making some notes on a clipboard, Alvyn left Kalgar's side. Moving quickly, between sailors, he went below deck and found Tong, meditating in a corner.

"Here, touch this." Alvyn said, offering another jar.

Tong hesitated. He wanted to uncover this piece of knowledge, but it was an odd liquid and an odd request. Still, his curiosity, and worship of Ioun, god of knowledge, won out, and he touched the liquid.

When he pulled his hand out, he held in his hand an ornate, leather-bound tome, with a symbol of Ioun adorning it. 

"My god!" Tong said.

"Literally," Alvyn said.

When he opened the book, it appeared to be full of text, but in a language neither Tong nor Alvyn knew.

Poring over it for some time, Alvyn and Tong were able to determine the item's function. If the book was asked a question (verbally or written inside), if at least 10 people knew the answer, the text would rearrange to show that answer.

Tong's eyes went wide. The item was of immense value, especially to someone like him, but the knowledge was gained, not from divine sources, but through experimentation. The many adventures he had experienced taught him that progressing without knowledge, experimenting and manipulating what was known, often brought ruin.

Alvyn reassured him, "This was not really made through experimentation. The ooze was made as a means of creating magical artifacts, but they could not get it to work. For some reason, it does now. Besides, this artifact is divine, so that's something to think about."

Taking it in his hands, Tong nodded and said, "The Iounic book of questioning...I mean answering! Thank you, Alvyn!"

During the next few days, Tong continued his meditation. Tong had both earned, and was burdened with, the responsibility of being the Mist Knight, the connection between this realm and the next, and as such, he had begun reaching out with his abilities. Tong could seek an audience with other followers of Ioun, through the Reverie, an in-between place, and there he instructed his students.

"The storm grows," Tong said. "I cannot speak much of it, but great change is coming. You must prepare yourself."

Alvyn spent much of his time in his lab, studying the new items, and working with the ship's dwarves to upgrade the ship. The Shockrosia had been an airship, but lost its ability to fly after a large storm.

One quiet night, Alvyn sat alone in his lab. Candles were lit, but the ship was quiet. Alvyn thought back to the Doomguard, the spy organization he had once been part of which worked to keep the balance of power by removing items of power from the corrupt. Alvyn had served for years until, Liliana, chief of the Doomguard, decided to start using the weapons for the Doomguard purposes. 

Alvyn had lived a hard life. He had learned to do what needed to be done. Unlike his friends, Alvyn did not limit himself by a moral code, or rather, he did, but he was more willing to do what needed to be done, even if the consequences were personally damning. Still, he could not bear to remain with the Doomguard and had left it. Vowing to overturn it, but unable to at the time, Alvyn had left.

He stared at his book. His magical item, unbeknownst to Kalgar and Tong, was also a book, capable of killing anyone in any manner specified. It was an incredibly dangerous item. If he were part of the Doomguard, he would definitely have locked it up, or destroyed it. However, things were different now.

The candles burned low, the book remained unopened. He reached for a quill, grabbed the book...and put the quill down. Answers, he needed answers.

Knocking on Tong's door, Alvyn made his way inside and asked to see Tong's book. 

"I'm going to need to run some tests on this." Alvyn said. He did not want to ask his questions in front of Tong. He had kept his death book a secret from his friends for one simple reason: they would never allow him to use it. Alvyn did not want to use the book, but he didn't want to limit himself either. Why place limits on yourself when you're only trying to do the right thing?

Opening Tong's book back at the lab, and locking the door, Alvyn asked, "Is Liliana of the Doomguard still alive?"


He tried several questions and nothing happened. He went back and woke Tong up. "You need to ask the questions, apparently."

When Tong asked, the words stirred, but did not form. "Curious, there was a stirring of energies, but nothing happened." Tong said.

"It could be because it's not her real name. Try: Is the person we know as Liliana of the Doomguard still alive?" Alvyn said.

The words stirred upon Tong asking, she was alive.

Alvyn and Tong continued, finding out more and more about the Doomguard and other threats.

"Who hired the Brass Company to take us out?" 

No response. Apparently, fewer than 10 people knew why the world's most successful mercenary group was after them.

"Where are the Brass Company mercenaries who want to take us out?"

Northwest Aes. The book responded. 

"So, where we're going?" Alvyn inquired.

A few questions later, they found out that the mercenaries were close, but not as far west as they were.
"What about Verius?" Tong asked.

"Wasn't the tiefling who lost a horn?"

"Tail" Tong said.

"We have not many many friends out here, have we?" Alvyn said.

The book was not able to reveal much about him.

"Where is the dragon known as Mercury?" 

Adamantina, the book responded.

"Who's in charge of Ruber?"

No one. The book answered.

"That's not good." Tong said.

"We can deal with that later. I'll take anarchy over dragon any day."

Tong thought back, it seemed so long ago. They had learned that the Balor Lord of Ruber was working with the devil who had cursed Tong. When they attacked the lord of Ruber, they learned he was in fact a red dragon. Taking him out had also, unfortunately, taken down the leadership structure in Ruber. Kalgar had mentioned a few times that this was one thing he wanted to fix, when they had the time.

"Where is the purple dragon?" Alvyn asked the book, through Tong.

Under Argentum, the book answered.

"Is the purple dragon the master of its own will?"


Alvyn wiped his forehead. He did know which answer would have been worse.

"Which dragon is that?" Tong asked.

"That's mindflayer dragon. The one who can control minds, who's likely teamed up with mindflayers. No, no, I'm shelving that for now. We can deal with that later."

"Is Tribulus alive and well?"

Yes. The book responded. Alvyn sighed in relief, knowing his former Doomguard ally was okay.

Pressing the book for more questions, Alvyn and Tong discovered that Lilianna was at the Doomguard vault in Aurum, which should have been defended by a ghost dragon. Somehow, she and over a dozen older, female dwarves had made their way inside. 

Three of the dwarves were sisters, named Essor, Darwit, and Dadewyn, and they were antiquaries specializing in ancient, magical artifacts.

Exhausted of questions, Alvyn thanked Tong and went back to his lab. 

Tong placed the book in front of him and asked, "Is Votharxis alive or is he dead?"


"Is Victor Whitehelm alive or dead?"

No answer. Tong frowned.

Back in his lab, Alvyn opened his book, and wrote Lilianna's name, followed by a detailed account of a freak accident. He closed the book with a sigh.
As the scene fades to black, we'll finish this part of the story for today. There was a lot of references to times past in this chapter, but hopefully you followed along and continue with us as the story unfolds!

Thanks for reading!

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