Terraden

Chapter 1.1B - There's an "i" in Team

After coming to Camp Cairn as part of the Xenos Initiative, Team C3-11 is led by their Handler, Hector the Troll, in the dead of night through a wooded game trail to an abandoned underground cultist layer that has been turned into a training camp for initiates. The unique characteristics of this underground honeycomb cause the various chambers to shift tunnels, rooms, doors and stairs to the will of it’s caretakers, the Keepers who have cleared our the cultists.

Hector addresses the party:

    “You’ve done well so far Team C3-11…but this challenge will test your true metal…the metal of the mind. It will also test your agility …the finesse of your mortal forms (looks at Kraye) somewhat mortal at any rate. This cavern was cleared some years ago by the college and was deemed a local hazard to be marked on caraveener maps. Once the Xenos Initiative was started and Camp Cairn established this site was reopened, the horrors that a dark cult once filled this underground den with were deemed…ideal… for use as a testing ground for new recruits.”

With that Hector then gestured to the guide stone bracelet that was put on each recruits wrist and began to explain it’s use:

    “It is now time for you to understand one important feature of your guide stone. With it you have a way to signal for help or a hasty exit should the worst arise and you are unable to strategically retreat to safety. If you should need to use your guide stone, say ‘The light breaks forward…’ and you should hear my disembodied voice speaking to you from the stone. Any questions before we begin your next phase of testing?”

Eager to find out what challenge the college has prepared they the team is then lead to the entrance to begin their first true test – the Narrow’s Maze.

Entering this rough hewn stone quick became fitted stone blocks that lead to a T. At this T passage the wall in front of them displays a message to the initiates in glowing blue letters:

    A TEAM IS BUILT FROM A GROUP OF EQUALS
    FOR ALL TO SURVIVE YOU MUST WORK AS A TEAM
    A TEAM SHARES IN THE WEALTH THAT’S FOUND
    YOU MUST ALL LEARN TO TRUST IN YOUR TEAM
    A TEAM WILL FAIL IF THE WEAKEST LINK FAILS

Passages lead from this wall to either side splitting Team C3-11 to the left and right. The shifting of a stone tile prompted the party to lift that tile revealing vines that whipped away from the light and could be heard off in the room ahead where the two passages come together leading to a dim light ahead.

The cautious party ventured to a dimly light room that shone with tiles on the dome ceiling in exquisite detail of Terraden’s night sky. One the floor before entering this room can be seen the letters:

    Lone you enter, missing stars surrender

To gain a better view of what the tiled domed room Narm, the Eladrin Swordmage, steps into the room first. The rest of the party finds a thin magic veil now blocking passage for any others. With Narm the only member in the round domed room he can now clearly see a large hole in the center of this sloping room – faint orange light shining from the grated hole below. From this large grated hole flows several vines that radiate along the floor of the room to several corpses of soldiers and a cloaked skeletal figure.

Narm moves slowly along the circular room to examine some of the corpses next to the vines – finding the cloaked skeletal remains to be that of an woman in a teal dress next to a vine of the same color. Upon reaching this vine it comes to life and “looks” at Narm, moves slowly toward him and, much to his surprise, rubs against his leg with tender affection. As the vine wraps slowly around his leg in a hug, Narm’s mind is flooded with images of a female priest dying at the tendrils of a blood-sucking plant. An image of her final moments of death as she prays to her Goddess shows her essence infusing into the vine that killed her – becoming the teal color of her dress.

With his new found friend, Wendy the Vine, now observing his progress he advances to check the other corpses and the dome tiles above.

After some poking and prodding of the fresher soldier corpses located at the opposite side of the room where he found Wendy, Narm finds small gem tiles just as the blood vines near the soldier corpses react to his movement. Below in the grate can be heard a great rumble as he begins a combat exchange with the malicious vines – the grate cannot hold back whatever beast Narm has awoke below and without his fellow recruits he would be doomed to face it alone in this chamber. Arrows bounce of the force barrier as the team attempts to help Narm tackle the vines that now assault him so he can solve whatever riddle will unlock this room before the beast below confronts him – luckly a few spells pass through the barrier to assist Narm as he methodically cuts down the vines in this room. With a loud ROAR his enrages the beast below who now smashes at the grate to assault it’s next meal directly.

Now needing to solve the puzzle before the beast below breaks through the grate, Narm takes the small gem tiles found on the soldiers corpse and looks to the ceiling above for what significance the tiled stars above may have to getting out of this room. The party, namely Nat who is well versed in the knowledge of nature as a Druid, notices when examining the dim stars in the tiles of the ceiling that a prominent constellation is missing and informs the lone member of their party, Narm, of this omission above. But how can he reach what is above him by 15 feet? As he stretches up the curved wall to reach the missing constellation in vain he feels Wendy wrap around his torso and heft him upward to the length of her full “body” putting Narm near the missing stars.

Looking back at his team for assistance as to the shape of the constellation, Nat tapes on the barrier in the pattern of the constellation, lighting a sequence to model the pattern for Narm. With the grate bent upward and the beast almost into the chamber Narm plunges the gem tiles into place. The new constellation glows with a brillance, then matched by the other stars down upon the circular hole in the floor where the beast is bursting to come out and with a great whirling the grate, beast and orange light below are sucked down in a WHOOSH that leaves a faint blue light below.

The party is now reunited with short trek down the central hole into a hallway that leads down to a gap filled with water some 30 feet long. At the edge of the landing before the water reads:

    FIND THE i IN TEAM

The narrow hall and low ceiling make flying across to the other side impossible for Aelyria and a shot from her bow across to the other side shows fine threads stronger than steel blocking the opposite landing. Kraye and Gnarl drop a lite sun rod into the water which is covered by a thin oil slick which lights immediately in a flash. The clearing of the surface reveals wicked spikes lining the bottom and notice the subtle movement of an transparent ooze flowing among the spikes below. On the surface also floats thin sticks of wet bamboo that are all exactly five feet across – which the team quickly collects. As they examine the sticks and the walls of the area the team sees the letters on the landing start to light with blue fire – just as the letters as that were encountered when they first entered the caverns. This complex puzzle now involves several rooms in the cavern and prove the intricacy of tasks the College have prepared.

Kraye and Gnarl then backtrack to the entrance and feel along the five sentence message for clues – Kraye feels a small indentation in the A of every TEAM in this message. Pushing on these indentations resulted in a beams arising from the water downstairs in five foot intervals – the party has a way across if they can keep each button in the message pressed. It is then that the party closes a set of doors at the entrance – locking the front to use as a surface to brace the rods. Closing those doors lowers the spikes and empties the water (and oozes with the water) in the hallway below via hidden mechanisms in the hinges of the door. Kraye and Gnarl then use the rods collected below, bracing the five bamboo rods against the door/walls and into the indentations in the message to keep the beams up the hall below. Kraye and Gnarl join their part below to jump the beams as they cross the now drained canal. In crossing Kraye collects a few objects that were covered by water and hidden in the spikes.

On the opposite side of the water/beam/spike challenge, the team now advances down the hall and turning left find a stone door with a large face that moves slowly as it seems to sleep.

What is this door and how will they pass it? How far is the team through this intense College challenge? If this challenge is getting harder, what’s in store beyond this door?

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Chapter 1.1A - Xenos Initiative
Answering the call of the Chosen...

The Xenos Initiative was a move by the College of Keepers to unite races separated by history, distance and the old scars of wars past – wars that have begun to start anew. Sanctioned by the Elder Elven Empire (E3), the Human Central Allied Provinces (Allies or CAP) and Deep Dwarven Kingdoms (DDK), the Xenos Initiative was meant to gather chosen initiates from all over Terraden, provide them superior train and join them as a force of delegates that would work toward the greater good. Lead by the College of Keepers, an ancient coalition of mages that have preserved sacred knowledge passed down by the Jyanai, the Xenos Initiative was aimed at halting the divisions that have led to numerous conflict between major nations and outer races.

To each corner of Terraden were sent scouts with letters bearing the invitation from the Keepers for this initiative. Leaders of every major town and community that could be reached were given the honor of selecting a chosen delegate to send to one of several camps operated by the Keepers to train, test and prepare the initiates for their greater service.

First from the southern isle of the Aerranai (Winged Elves) was chosen Aelyria, the white winged ranger – unique among her own kind. Her deadly bow and aerial assaults often bring death to enemies before they ever see her shadow – an assault on her people has not happened since the Aberrant Wars (some 1600+ years ago).

Second from the Eldren Reach, a great expanse of grassy fields and woodlands that separates the E3 from the CAP, traveled Narm, the Eladrin Swordmage trained in the art of bending the fabric of magic with his weapon and mind. With few of his race on Terraden and no way to return to his home world due to the inability for any summoned being to Terraden to slip back to their home plane, Narm was persuaded by his elder Uncle to pursue this path with the Keepers in the hopes that it would represent his rare race to this world and maybe one day lead to knowledge the Keepers may possess on returning to their home plane.

Then came twins from the Southern wilds of the E3, Gnarl (brother) and Nat (sister), both Gylanai (Wild Elves) journeyed to be a part of the Xenos Initiative so that they might help rediscover more about themselves and face whatever attempts to pervert natures will. Gnarl being a Monk of the Ironfist dedicates his life to mediation and practice of his unarmed fighting style (nature already gave him the best weapon – you just have to know how to use them) while Nat draws on the raw power of nature to restore balance as a Druid. Both lost in the woods as youth they know what primal beings exist within them and are thankful to the Priest who found them in the woods and help to give them purpose in the name of nature beyond that of mere survival.

The fifth and final was he oldest and most enigmatic of this group, who goes by the name Kraye the Conduit (a Warforged who is partially humanistic, partially construct). Little is know about this ageless man of mystery who dabbles in ancient alchemy and magic. He is a relatively new operative for the Order of Unification, the largest holy order of the Allied lands bringing unity to the worship of Gods and order to society of men. His allegiance to this order may stem from his activities in aristocratic circles – many in high society pay homage to the Order of Unification to please the Gods who have blessed their endeavors and maintain the balance of their own power/influence.

These five initiates came to the province of Darmas in the south of the CAP were they were assigned to Bunkhouse 11 by the College of Keepers elders. Commander Merrick welcomed the new recruits explaining that 5 camps exist around Terraden as part of the Xenos Initiative. This collection of initiates assembled is the third to be tested and recruited at Camp Cairn.

Each recruit was given a guide stone on their wrist and assigned a handler. Bunkhouse 11 was assigned Hector the Troll, a most unique member of the College in that he is descendant from a line of feral trolls but was born different as a result of experimentation by Keepers. He is quite intelligent, a practiced mage in his own right and wears a monocle on a chain that runs down to his vest. After pleasant introductions to the team of five it was noted that a dwarf name Frud the Firemaster was not interested in getting to know his fellow recruits in Bunkhouse 11. His gruff manner stalled efforts to share information on the first night of their meeting.

After initial testing Xenos C3-11 (third class, bunkhouse 11) was run through a simulated battle in an old gaming field arena of the ruins where Camp Cairn was housed. This battle of spectral undead were of little challenge to all but Frud who struck out on his own and was severely struck down by spectral opponents. A battle highlight was the Druid thorn-lashing an enemy into a spike trap set for the team.

So began the journey of Xenos C3-11…

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Prologue - Introduction to Terraden
In the beginning...

A brief history of Terraden…
By Grande Magestra Vugentris of the Celestial College,
Elder of House Paramai’ae of the Sangranni Elder Elven Nation

Terraden. Once known as the Settlers Sanctuary …the Pilgrims Paradise.

Long ago, this was a world to which the races came from many worlds and across all the known planes – a refuge of deep forests and endless fields, mighty mountains and fathomless oceans…a shelter from the wicked of the outer worlds.

In this early era there was lasting peace that spanned millennia for all who sought refuge here. Countless races living together in great cities of culture and knowledge; rich and prosperous times…when the races of Terraden traded song and story from one another, instead of steel and sorcery against each other.

This enlightened age was forged and preserved by an ancient race of elders known as the Jyanai (Yawn-eye). This advanced race was the first to find this Eden and tame its wilds. Their knowledge of science, architecture, philosophy, magic and nature was so advanced they govern and protected the other races from afar and maintained balance in this new world – for this they were called “the watchers” and said to be among the first and most gifted of the Gods’ creations.

That was before the time of the Great Sundering.

Nearly two thousand years have passed since that dreadful time – when the first of the Nights’ Fire fell bringing with it a terrible destruction and chaos. Cities were swallowed whole by the oceans…entire nations burned to wastelands of gray ash. For several days, the Night’s Fire came and went without warning or mercy, each time more destructive than the last. Those that still knew the ways of traveling the skies died trying to leave their shattered sanctuaries and dying world, pieces of their vessels rained down from the darkness of space as a warning to others.

Then came the final night of wrath which is now known as the Great Sundering. The smoky evening sky parted to a great mass of flame and light that drove into the earth, splitting Terraden into the world we know today.

The elder race of the Jyanai disappeared completely leaving the shatter remnants of civilization without guidance, without assistance and never to return. Many were not prepared for the wars that followed when the races fought for the land that was left unscathed. Many more died. The scars that were left from that time and the mistrust formed in those early centuries lingers to this day – an echo of the pain that was felt.

Violent forces from the Night’s Fire distorted the very nature of many remaining nations that survived …this “new birth” spawned untold variations of monster and mankind into the world from which came many warring factions that began to consume what little civilization was left – plunging the survivors into a thousand years of darkness and fear – the Great Night.

It was then that the core races came together, signed the Old Oaths to overcome the Aberrant Wars and defeated the beasts that crept from darkness after the Great Sundering…but that is another tale.

But now, in this age, visions of the evil that shattered this world have begun again — prophesied by the High Elders of the Elven Council. Even the secretive Astromancers came out of hiding several seasons ago to speak of the paths above changing as never before — revealing the coming of a renewed conflict. This was suppressed quickly by elements of the CAP that wish to remain in control of the fragile balance that exists.

You can feel it, no? A great change is coming the likes of which have not been seen since the Great Sundering.

Will this be the true end or a new beginning?

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