The prisoners shielded their eyes from the bright lights of Christian’s badge. He announced his group as Returners here to help. They pleaded with him to please hurry. Redden took to work opening the door. Within there were 4 nobles who claimed to have arrived 2 nights ago after being pulled through the skies at high speed. They didn’t know why they were taken. When asked of their family heritage, they informed that they were indeed part of the founding families of the city of Nikeah generations ago. They said the blue man who captured them claimed they would pay for the sins of their forefathers, but were just as confused as our heroes as to why it happened.
In the next room over, Redden heard more voices pleading for help before the creature returned. Within they found four more nobles, including the venerable Tharsten Trut, who had all been taken the night before. They, too, offered little in the way of help. They relayed only their fears and pleaded to the party save them from the blue monster that stole them away and flew them to this isolated prison. The group fed the prisoners pickles from a nearby storeroom and tried to alleviate their concerns while wondering what they were supposed to do. Many feared that the djinni could return any moment. As they conversed, Tharsten asked repeatedly if they had the key, and Tequila felt panic take hold. She cast a spell on Lance, allowing them to communicate with long range whispers, and took wing back to the River Rat. She told him she would let him know of any trouble coming.
The group was at a loss with the prisoners as they surely couldn’t sail the ship and trailing it slowly behind the River Rat would only keep them a target of the djinni should it return. They heard movement upstairs; something was afoot! As they made to rush towards the upper decks, they were confronted by some mephits. In the crowded lower deck, they fought bravely and fell the monsters that impeded their progress, though one managed to fly upstairs.
They told the prisoners to stay where they were as they would likely be safer in their cells. Tequila whispered to Lance that she could feel something was coming, and with that Christian felt a shift; as if the walls of the ship were vibrating or warbling with some unheard oscillation or pitch. They pushed forward and the wood of the walls themselves warped and blocked their path.
Christian, leading the charge, smashed through the barricade with his mace and they quickly ran up the stairs to the middle deck. He was greeted with the slashing guisarmes of two mephits whom the party also took to dispatching. Lance, in particular, found his longsword making short work of the creatures.
There was something in the air, all right. And the party pushed forward, paying particular attention to the walls when the floor instead opened beneath them almost swallowing Christian if not for a quick catch by Redden who swung him to safety around the corner. They assisted each other and pressed forward up to the main deck. Tequila reached out to Lance and her voice suddenly dropped a few octaves as someone or something was taking hold of her. The voice informed Lance that the vessel they knew as Tequila would be indisposed, and that they should keep her safe as the angels worked their magic.
It was on the main deck that they encountered an enormous and imposing figured of an ancient blue man with legs like tornadoes and a voice that lingered in the wind. Blackfeather circled overhead and squawked in panic. The distant sound of barking and whimpering was telling that the dogs had returned to the shady hall leading to the captain’s quarters; likely trapping Jay and Swabby Bob within. There was no sign of Tequila. The djinni known to some as Niflheim and to others as Jarl of the North Wind demanded to know where the Vernal Orbs were, and just who dared to venture onto his ship.
Set aback, the group stepped onto the main deck and started to speak to the hulking creature that huffed and puffed in frustration. They introduced themselves and he recognized them as the brave adventurers who destroyed his pet Cryohydra. He knew they must be capable warriors, but wondered if they would be smart enough to make a deal with him. He knew they had the Vernal Orbs somewhere, so he asked if they would be so kind as to destroy the artifact somehow, he would grant them anything they wanted. Anything they wanted.
As tempting as the offer was, they knew they couldn’t trust or accept it. However, with encouragement in his ear from Tequila and her “passenger,” to keep the djinni busy, Lance instead showed interest in the creature ’s story and pressed him for some history as to why he wanted the orbs gone and why he was trapped inside.
“Niflheim” claimed that ages ago, as Jarl of the North Wind, he assisted the people from before… elves, mostly, who made deals with outsiders and other creatures to improve upon their magic and create objects of such great power to improve and benefit their society. Sometimes the deals weren’t mutual, and the creatures were trapped inside objects against their will. The Vernal Orbs were made to use the power of a powerful outsider to create warmth and magical protection. The orbs themselves were meant to imprison someone known as the Mad Caliph, a djinn of great power and notoriety… but the mortals were deceived by a trick and the Jarl was incarcerated instead.
This was the first any of them had heard of a Mad Caliph. None was seen or discussed around these parts that anyone could figure. It was a name lost to the ages.
He claimed that he spent years, centuries, perhaps millennia within the orb due to the greed and ignorance of mortal beings. He was released recently due to shaking and magical disruption of some unknown cause, and found himself in a world much unlike the one he left behind. As much as the people now comparatively suffer with primitive cultures and superstition, he still felt the need to exact his own revenge on the world for the wrong done unto him; starting with the descendants of those who founded the city of Nikeah. For generations, these people enjoyed the warmth of the orbs to protect itself from the cold of winter, and the monsters that came with it. How dare they find prosperity in his misery? How dare they use him!?
Christian asserted the elves and their culture seem that have been mostly wiped from existence and that people today were innocent of any wrong-doings from the people before.
The Jarl felt that the heroes were stalling and did not know how to destroy the orbs, nor trusting that they actually would do so if they could, he told them to simply get on their boat and leave him to his revenge…. lest they anger him further with their ignorance. They couldn’t do that. They had promised to return the people and the ship back to Nikeah and found themselves at an impasse with this creature.
The tension was relieved quite suddenly with a bolt from the crossbow of the impetuous Boram Slystone. A shot which travelled straight through the head of the giant djinni and into the mast of the Caitlin’s Breeze. This was accompanied by the rising figure of Tequila who radiated with holy magic unseen before. Her arms were outstretched and her posture adroit as she and a pulsating, nay, breathing orb rose from the port side of the ship. The party had to do more than talk to keep the angry Jarl of the North Wind busy.
Combat was swift and dangerous, the large djinni garbled on as a smaller one appeared from nowhere and attempted to swing his warhammer at Christian who barely deflected the blow with his shield. The attack was a fly-by and the djinni made it’s way above the port side, seemingly away from retaliation. Lance showing acrobatic prowess and great sea legs ran along the rail of the ship and swung at him with intimidating finesse. “The power of Desna compels you,” he shouted and sent the creature into a shaken state. Redden called Blackfeather to fly to the safety of the other side of the ship and then provided covering fire at mephits and the djinni alike.
Noticing the lyrakien and the orbs floating behind him, Niflheim put two and two together. He commanded the angel to stop her ritual at once and flew at her with full-force, fully intending to smash her into the clouds with his warhammer. His weapon rebounded off a forcefield around the Vernal Orbs, and Tequila’s tiny frame kept her safe within. The mephits also tried whatever tricks they could muster to keep the lyrakien away from the orb and put an end to her chanting, but failed in all manner of attempt. In frustration, the djinni commanded her again to stop or else he would kill her friends and took to focusing his attacks on the others. The tiny azata gasped at the thought, but put her faith in Desna and the strength of her friends to the test; she and her passenger would not stop.
Lance jumped aboard the wheelhouse of the River Rat and readied himself to strike his foe should he make another move towards his angelic friend. Tequila moved past him with the orbs back to the Caitlin’s Breeze to try to keep the djinni in range of the party’s attacks. The Jarl did a flyby towards Lance and the two traded blows. Lance stuck his longsword into Niflheim’s core with unerring precision, while the djinni struck hard at his shoulder with his warhammer causing the hard drinking hero great pain. Truly, the djinni was fierce and due to his speed was difficult to strike with even ranged attacks. His mephits proved to be more than an inconvenience as they interposed themselves to prevent attacks on the Jarl and chip away at the health and morale of the heroes with magical abilities and slashing guisarmes.
Redden and Boram fired arrows and bolts at the Jarl of the North wind and his menacing mephits, as the party remained steadfast. They met the Jarl and his band of outsiders with great courage and conviction. They would not fail or falter as the lyrakien azata’s chanting caused the orbs to spark out in large rays, much like the picture they saw on the pages of Jarl Albrook’s book, eventually resulting in the air itself cracking open and a strong suction pulling towards anyone and anything too close to the portal. Tequila and the spirits within her pleaded at Christian to get away, but he bravely pushed forward, gripped the rail of the ship and attempted the strike down the djinni with his scimitar. He hoped to weaken it enough to trap it within the orbs and didn’t want it to get away.
The Jarl of the North Wind had other plans, if he could not avoid his fate he would atleast take someone with him. Making himself invisible, he maneuvered away from Christian and behind him to catch him in a grapple. Christian could not break free and was pulled through the portal along with the djinni.
Christian found himself in a chamber that had a blue radiance about it. The room and the prominent altar at its center had five points, like a star. He had to wonder if it would be his fate to spend the remainder of his life trapped with an angry djinni within the Vernal Orbs. He looked up above him and saw the opening revealing the skies above. The sun, Seranrae’s light, was high in the noon hour and shining brightly down on him. Would he die to keep this creature trapped in this place with him and provide warmth and safety for his friends and the people of Nikeah? Or could he somehow make it out of this mess? He wasn’t sure. In stoic selfless confidence, he felt glad it was him and not any of his friends.
END OF SESSION
Niflheim, Jarl of the North Wind – Wrongfully imprisoned by magical people aeons ago and really, really pissed off about it.