The party wandered around Jonta for a while, taking in the sight’s of Thandor’s priemier trading hub. They made a list of their current goals, which included:
- Fix Khashana’s Crazy
- Fix Dumby’s Arm
- Cure Eglath’s body
They decided that Hessai in Arcikias would be the best place to visit for the first, but first they decided to take a detour to Asynium Academy, known for its advancements in magical research, in the hopes of finding a solution to the giant and dwarf’s more immediate problems. They hired a wagon and their week-long journey went without incident.
When they reached the academy, it was larger and grander than they ever could have imagined, and as they entered the lobby of the Academy, they were greeted by a hulking golem acting as doorman and secretary. In relation to having the dragon claw grafted into an arm, it first directed them to an eccentric gnomish researcher named Eldon Whifflebottom. After a tiresome conversation, Eldon suggested they use that dragon arm they found as a replacement for the dwarf’s missing arm. He assured them he could make it happen, but first he needed some components, beginning with the sucker-covered tentacle-leg of a wumpus – a creature thought to only exist in legend. They also met with Professor Adeya, a githzerai alchemist who teaches alchemy and rituals, and she was able to create a potion to help Eglath.
Shamash, Marmaroth, and Khashana began visiting other teachers for more information while Dumby and Eglath hit the books. Krogal Grodok, the half-orc battle-magic instructor, informed them that Baern Sandal, a dwarf who handles magitech maintenence and teaches enchanting; Professor Darkflame, a tiefling walock who teaches defense against the dark arts; and Professor Malaggar, a drow who teaches shadow magic, were all assisting Eldon with his wumpus hunt. Between them, they recieved the information and tools necessary to defeat the wumpus, but alas, they were caught off-guard and while they managed to defeat the creature and take one of it’s masssive tentacle-legs, The creature chewed and swallowed the dwarf during the battle, and the party was not able to fee him from the creature’s stomach in time. Dumbledore Baggins died that day.
When they returned to Eldon Whifflebottom with the news, they caught him in the middle of recruiting another adventurer to take on the wumpus, a half-elf warlord whose name they would later learn to be Jackson Braveheart, or Jax for short. Ever the adventure-seeker, Jax insisted that the party had stolen his quest and owed him another. Conveniently, upon returning to the lobby, the group was intercepted by Adeya and Headmaster Archmage Quarion, an eladrin wizard and the highest authority in both the academy and its surrounding city. They showed them a scene recorded in a crystal of Adeya working with the potion she had made for Eglath and it bursting in an explosion of mana, creating an living mana beast whose form was held together by her innumerable potions. She warned that Eglath may suffer the same explosive buildup unless she could make a counter-potion, for which she needed a large mana amber crystal, hardened sap from trees warped by the after-effects of a magical super-weapon Quarion and she had developed. Despite that they had little choice in it’s development, the party was nonetheless disgusted with the two for creating something so dangerous, but had little choice but to listen to them and venture forth.
The forest trees had grown large, and though they could see the the pale glowing green and blue sap running through the trees, the bark was to tough to penetrate with conventional weapons, and it absorbed magical attacks like a sponge. As they searched for a solution, they were ambushed by small black creatures that looked almost like shadows, except that they had tattoo-like veins glowing the same color as the sap. a couple of them managed to take the party’s weapons, and the party was finally able to catch and engage them, but Eglath could sense they were merely protecting their territory and to subdue them if possible rather than kill them. They party fought back, and after asserting their physical dominance, Shamash let out a draconic roar that scared them all into surrender. They lead the party back to a village centered around a tree that was big enough to house a city. After exploring the village and learning to communicate vaguely with these creatures, the party realized that they were using the same crystals the party was seeking as a form of currency and as raw materials for tools. When they asked about finding some of their own, they were directed to a cave that had been excavated under the large tree.
On the path leading into the cave they met a minotaur covered in laceration, who wore chains around his body. They approached each other cautiously, but soon realized they shared an objective in searching inside the cave. The minotaur identified himself as Argas Andregos, and spoke something about seeking freedom. In combat he proved to be a fierce barbarian, channeling the more ferocious aspects of Sylph’s caprice.
Inside the cave they were met with room after room of these stange black creatures, excpet some of these were larger and more feral, and none of them were at all as friendly as the ones from the village. They picked up some mana amber along the way, but they suspected that the crystals they were finding were too small for Adeya, but probably had some trade value with the villagers. They made it to a room where they interrupted a ritual being performed by several mages wearing the same black and crimson robes as Shamash, and although the leader escaped through a side tunnel and closed a portcullis behind him, he dropped a scroll detailing the ritual. Shamash realized that this was a ritual for gathering mana amber from the trees, and they proceeded to perform it where the mages they defeated had been, and they were able to excavate several bits of mana amber, but it was still the small ones. They traveled up a massive spiral stairway that lead into the tree itself, and after defeating a monstrous and completely feral shadow creature, they found themselves wandering into the heart of the tree where several mages wearing the robes of first-year academy students were diligently harvesting amber. At the far end they saw the mysterious overseer from before talking to a pale, black-haired swordsman who referred to the overseer several times as Leucis.
Jax started the fight by firing an arrow at the unsuspecting Leucis, but his aim was off and the arrow went wide. The party was exhausted, and the fight was grueling. The swordsman stepped down and moved to engage them, following just behind several of the shadow creatures. The students, at Leucis’ command, bombarded the party with a barrage of magic missiles. Despite all their concentrated efforts, the party could barely scratch the clothes the swordsman was wearing as he teleported around them, delivering blow after blow, except for Marmaroth who had circled around. His massive fullblade cut through the students’ robes and flesh like butter until he reached Leucis himself. Despite Leucis’ best efforts, Marmaroth just barely survived long enough to get in close and use his divine powers to transport himself and Leucis to the main brawl. He suffered a mortal would and fell unconscious as he bled out. Argas shifted his focus to the now-vulnerable Leucis and as his axe fell, the mage begged for mercy. Argas obliged, opting to strike with the flat of his axe, knocking Leucis out cold. The swordsman sheathed his blade and said “Lilith will hear about this…” They bound Leucis and prepared to interrogate him, but first another ritual scroll was found in his robes. They performed the ritual upon the massive stump he and the swordsman had initially been perched on and they were able to extract a much larger chunk of mana amber. All they needed to do now was to question Leucis when he awoke and return to the academy to cure Eglath, but little did they know they were not alone in that room…