As Far As You Can Tell – Episode 22
Raziel disappears, and Hove tries to jump into the water after him. Upon leaving, Raziel finds himself in a body that is not his own; he is seeing through the eyes of another. Raziel goes through an endless series of defeating beasts, fighting on a mountainside and preventing various things from rising; the snow turns into a blood red slush. Time moves forward, and then he’s in Maverick’s body. Maverick doesn’t stop fighting for five days and he watches as Maverick’s life flashes forward decades. Raziel notes that every time Maverick looks in the mirror he never looks older, and never loses vigor. Moving forward, Raziel switches viewpoints to Valor. He is back at the pool and Maverick lies next to the pool. Gwen finds Maverick, leaves the sword behind, and takes Maverick’s body out – Raziel is unsure if Maverick is dead and how he ended up that way. The viewpoint then switches to seeing a streak of light crashing outside of the rift, and Raziel assumes it’s the event that created the hole in the keep. He remembers the details of a voice stating that from the beginning, he (Valor), granted Maverick power unknown to those around him. Maverick wished to continue on without Valor and it was impossible, so he made the willing choice to depart from this world. Valor is unsure if Gwen followed Maverick. Valor continues talking to Raziel and explains that when he found a warrior stronger than Gurt, he had to make his move. Raziel is told that he must never be willing to forgo the abilities, and must never willingly unbind himself from the sword. To do so would mean his own death. Valor says he will give Raziel unlimited physical power, but Raziel has to be willing to bind himself to the sword and the sword sustains through blood.
Valor claims that he can easily acquire the death of the Vantus. He shows Raziel Maverick’s bonding along with the bonding of others. In this vision Maverick finds the rift, and after entering locates the sword, which is a rusty husk lying outside of the pool. There was a skull next to the sword, but Maverick didn’t notice it. Instead he picked up the sword and it immediately hungered for Maverick’s experiences. The sword pin pricks him, and his life experiences restore the sword to its normal luster. Maverick then took the sword to Gwen, and she determined it was magical. Raziel watches as Maverick witnesses the sword bearer before himself accomplish something great, and once Maverick sees the boon of the sword he immediately bound himself to it; the prior wielder had lofty ambitions, but he died because he drank too deeply.
Raziel learns that old blood will sustain the sword, but it won’t make the sword fully happy. The sword, Valor, wishes not to disgrace its former wielders by revealing all of their secrets. Raziel agrees to bind himself to the sword, which is a dark ruby red. The palms of Raziel’s hand feels tight, and he realizes that during the conversation it was seeping blood from his palm. Raziel returns to the glade, and Hove kicks him in the shin. Violet tells Raziel that they need to talk about what he just did.
After Raziel returns, now bonded with Valor, Gurt is no longer sustained by the sword. He dies, and his body quickly decays. The party decides to bury Gurt’s body. While digging, they find various bones that are significantly older than one would expect. They’re of various races, such as orcs, humans, half-elves, and inuzen. No personal items are found. After Gurt is buried, Raziel explains to the group what he experienced, and they return to the keep.
At home, Raziel tries to bond with the owlbear, and Ana helps take care it by creating a warming device. Violet tries to reach out to the tree, and when she does she gains a sense of warmth and home. The oozes, now named Squish and Squash, are blocked in the center area as to prevent people from entering the lower levels of the keep. No one knows about the secret entrance.
Scouting the Area
Veil decides to sneak around the grounds, and Raziel flies around in the area, checking for nearby people and towns and villages. To the east they find mountains, and to the west a forest. To the north and south are foothills. Veil goes to the west, and she locates the trail the ildera made, where they have recently started making cobblestone. As she explores, she finds nothing of importance, just a couple of hunting cabins. To the south she finds nothing out of the ordinary – just the remains of an old town about a half mile below the keep, which wasn’t on any maps the party acquired. After exploring for most of the day Veil finds herself somewhat lost, and Raziel ends up finding her and bringing her back.
To the east, around five miles out, Raziel locates the remains of a mine shaft, and a small road that leads up to the entrance. He doesn’t find anything else of importance – just an ice troll and mountain goats. There is nothing extraordinary to the north either.
On the third day an ildera finds Violet. While building camp he found something odd – it is in the middle of the snow in the plains. Violet takes Hove to the site of the discovery. They’re brought to the middle of a valley, and to a small clear area where there is a circle of stones about five feet across. They look crafted in place, and Hove identifies it as the top of a small wall – after digging into the dirt a little they find wood. Hove digs some more, and finds a ringed structure. Within the middle there is a wooden plank that covers the whole area, and in the middle there is a handle – dark hole – deeper than sixty feet. It’s a well. He is pretty convinced that there was once a town here.
Back at the library, they find an accountant’s book that contains a census for the town of Ark. The dates and recodings stopped around 123 years ago. It seems that the town survived a zodi’ite shower, but only lasted two years after – the population before the shower was around 7k inhabitants, but after it shortly dropped to 2k, and then eventually the numbers became extremely low and the records stop. Hove is going to dig to uncover more.
Holly and Luca Arrive!
Holly arrives with Luca. She says hi, and Veil takes her to the room dedicated to Matron in the lower levels of the keep, offering the religious items inside to her. Most of items are specific to Matron and not related to Astea, so Holly doesn’t want to take them back. She asks us what our plans are for the long term. She plans to build a church dedicated to Astea and Matron, and she would like to do it here if we’re interested in forming a town again. The party offers Holly a room. Raziel asks her to find a book on owlbears for him, if she could. She believes that it would be best for Luca to stay here. She acclimates quickly to the keep, and soon she is standing out in the field finding the best spot to build her church.
Luca claims that he was here once. The party leaves Luca in the keep, but they don’t let him stay below. They ask an ildera to keep an eye on him.
The party goes south to the ruined town, which would be overgrown by trees and vines if not winter. There are roughly 150 buildings here, but all that remains now are large studs and carved out basements. It seems that the town was abandoned on purpose, and most things were taken. The party finds a cache behind set of stairs that appears to be someone’s life savings – within are 236 platinum pieces, 748 gold pieces, and 1,268 silver pieces. The party learns little from their exploration. They try to determine how hard it would be to build on top of the structures. The buildings are outside of the protective part of mountains — so a town here would be difficult to defend. The farms would be inside the valley. The situation with the town lines up with the timeframe of the keep’s destruction. It begins to snow, and they decide to return back to the keep.
Upon arriving home, they find that Holly built a small mound where she plans on erecting a monument. Close to her, Luca built a mock keep in the snow. It was a replica of the keep as it was, a grand structure called Ark Keep. He claims to have books at home detailing the keep that he could bring here. The party learns that he has a house in Anchorage, and over 2k books. His dad, Karlel, gave him the books. His mother’s name was Neriah. Sergio is Luca’s son. He had no other kids, but had brothers and sisters who all died during the Darkest War. His wife was a woman named Naomi. Luca’s keep is a structure with snowmen and snow horses. The party realizes that Luca is magical. He makes Hove an exact replica of the dragon Hove is thinking about, and then a replica of the church Holly intends on building. He wears a ring of detect thoughts – his ring seems as if it’s no longer magical, but Violet and the party knows that it’s possible to hide an object’s magical emanations. The party decides to travel to Anchorage and see Luca’s home, and they do so, arriving back in town after three days.
Luca goes to the northwest side of the city, which is the noble district. He’s greeted at the door as Master Luca. The house is richly appointed, and filled of nice furniture and beautiful wood paneling. The party sees a lot of marble fixtures. They’re gestured into a dining room filled with a grand table and ten chairs. Luca apologies to the party for leaving, but says that he will return shortly, and Claire will bring us food in the meantime. He then heads upstairs.
Some time later, Luca returns in a clean suit. The party is served roasted duck and squash soup. Luca explains that he wanted to see if the rumors regarding the keep were true, and he wanted to make sure that we did not upset the tombs. He was only there once as a child. His father sought to reclaim the keep, but he couldn’t come up with the funds to reclaim it. In truth, Luca’s son did not sell his holdings – Luca’s father did. He tells the party that he wants to stay there, as it would be easier to do so than to keep his ruse in Anchorage going. Claire will go with him, as she accompanies him everywhere.
- Cache with 236pp, 748 gp, and 1,268sp.