Aldion is a world in upheaval. Everywhere, beings are wrestling with the aftermath of The Arrival - the event that just 80 years ago brought magic, monsters, and extraplanar visitors to roost in a realm that until then had been mundane. Portals to other planes of existence open and close seemingly at random, bringing curious and power-hungry denizens with them. Ancient societies rear their heads in retaliation, existing monarchies attempt (and often fail) to consolidate their power from threats they cannot possibly prepare themselves for, and a select few common folk have begun to show signs of inherent magical talent. Even items and locales that were once mundane are showing signs of magical activity. Aldion is a realm aflame, actively being colonized by outside forces while existing power structures struggle to keep order.

A few powerful individuals could guide this world back to relative peace, or tip it over the edge to damnation.

In Penumbra, the machinations of the F.I.A's greatest villains come to fruition. The Second Arrival has come, casting the realm of Aldion into darkness. Undead and Fiends alike roam throughout the land, heeding their masters' dark bidding. As both familiar allies and enemies alike return to decide the fate of Aldion, the F.I.A must overcome the encroaching darkness before it is too late...

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Session 38: Through the Fog
The session opened with the F.I.A sailing towards the Winter Court of the Queen of Air and Darkness with Lyndra and Miletia in tow. The F.I.A’s only problem, of course, was that none of them were expert sailors. After Thane recounted what he could of the various workings and tasks of his old Vallsan crew, the party gained the ability to pilot their pinnace in what could easily have been mistaken as a straight line. Their Kelkan Folding Boat proved to be more than up to the challenge of crossing the Peacewaters, a fey sea that has been bereft of most of its original inhabitants since the War of Exiles. This distinct lack of life gave the Peacewaters an aura of both haunting silence and ethereal beauty. With the ever-consistent color of the setting sun filling the sky, this journey was not unlike traversing through a watercolor painting.

The F.I.A took an interest in a set of ancient ruins early in their seafaring adventure, and decided to disembark their ship in order to explore them. Leaving Lyndra behind to protect their pinnace, both the F.I.A and Miletia swam ashore to one of the nearby islands. Upon solid land once more, the party discovered evidence of a long since departed fey society. The party deduced that this society once had a symbiotic relationship with nature, indicated by a series of decrepit structures made of a strangely porus purple stone that seemed to absorb the sea’s inherent magics. Thane inferred that the separate islands that made up this cluster were once connected by land bridges, the layout of which demonstrated an intricate understanding of both urban planning and architecture. Through a light rain, Miletia informed the party that elves have long held the belief that the Feywild, and especially their capital city of Londlind, was at the literal center of the universe. As many extraplanar travelers may impart, this belief has had a great impact on some elves’ sense of self-importance. Since the Arrival, of course, this assumption has been factually disputed. Despite the fact that the Prime Material has been confirmed to lie at the center of the cosmos, many elves have simply chosen to ignore this in favor of older wisdom.

Once Miletia finished her explanations, the party split up to explore the ruins. After choosing to fly around the archipelago in search of arcane resources, Zaric and Midzaynov stumbled upon a young halfling girl who was taking shelter from the rain in a crumbling tower. She introduced herself as Ep, and explained that she had hidden in a Janavian oasis in order to escape a sudden sandstorm that was destroying her village. In the process of hiding, she had apparently fallen through a Fey Crossing and ended up on this island. The adventurers agreed to escort her to a safe location, and left to reunite with the rest of the party. Back at the pinnace, Miletia expressed her anguish at the fact that another creature had turned up in the Peacewaters without her knowledge. It was Miletia’s eternal duty to tend to the waters and guide lost souls to safe locations, but she was struggling to accomplish that goal on her own. Apparently, her pleas to the fey queens had gone unanswered, and her ship had been recently taken from her by pirates. It appeared that the Peacewaters, a region that refused to take sides in the War of Exiles, was still a sore spot for the fey queens despite the fact that the ancient war ended thousands of years ago.

About one week after finding Ep (time can be difficult to distinguish in the Feywild, seeing as the sky is permanently set in the shades of a glorious, ever-shifting sunset), the party’s boat made an unsettling lurch. A creature of comically large proportions had apparently just made contact with the bottom of their boat, shifting its occupants to and fro. Luckily, the creature was merely a mischievous whale who wanted to see what kind of large fish could swim above the water as quickly as their pinnace did. Zaric cast charm monster on the beast, and the two conspired in some light whale shenanigans.

A few days after bading their whale friend goodbye, the party passed by a series of coastal mountains on the starboard side of their boat. This prompted Lyndra to inform the group that they had just passed from the Peacewaters into the Ocean of Stars. Almost immediately after entering this new body of water, a thick fog began to roll across the deck of the party’s ship. Despite their best attempts to navigate in the visually-impairing terrain, the party soon found themselves off track. While the party was getting lost, another entity found them. A ship - larger and more menacing than any the party had seen before - suddenly materialized from within the fog, accompanied by the shrill laughter of dozens and dozens of goblinoid creatures. After a brief round of leading questions by the galleon’s hobgoblin captain, Thane unleashed a lightning bolt from the stern of their ship, catching them off guard! The party was suddenly facing down a crew of at least fifty goblinoid pirates at once, and lept into action!

Between the chaos of cackling goblin pirates and the order of strategically-minded hobgoblin officers, the fight was a maelstrom in itself. Wykeera’s casting of water walk allowed the party to sprint between the two ships and board the goblinoids’ galleon, who responded by shooting huge harpoons into the party’s pinnace! Thane strafed around in the air with the aid of his fly spell, launching eldritch blasts and a storm sphere that tore through the entirety of the enemy’s ship. Wykeera spent most of the battle defending against the goblins who had made their way onto the party’s vessel. Zaric cleverly used his wall of light spell to blind the enemy while keeping a safe distance by staying underwater. Midzaynov made quick work of the hobgoblin bosun, who cast a sleet storm on the party’s ship, almost destroying it with one incantation! Thane’s storm sphere was the star of the battle, destroying dozens of goblins by the time the dust settled. Zari’s divinity-infused spiritual weapon combined with Midzaynov’s martial experience fighting against pirates proved to be too much for the swashbuckling hobgoblin captain, and he fell to a mighty blow from the dragonborn’s Instrument of Mercy. With their captain defeated, the remaining goblins laid their weapons down. The F.I.A was victorious!

The party spent the next hour searching the goblin ship and tending to their wounds. They found a stash of electrum coins, the hobgoblin captain's journal, and gallons upon gallons of flammable oil. Midzaynov spent some time carefully placing oil around the enemy ship, lit a match, and let it burn. The Festering Wound, the goblinoid ship, had been disabled! Sifting through Captain Boneslicer’s journal, the party found several references to the Stalking Eye - the apparent name of the pirate cabal that the late captain once belonged to. Back on the party’s ship, Zaric swam through a hole that had been blown in the side of their ship’s hull and noticed that Miletia was missing from belowdecks! When the party questioned Ep, she told them that it appeared that one of the goblins had charmed Miletia, who then cast a spell to teleport them away during the fighting. With the aid of their new goblin captives, the F.I.A managed to repair the damage that had been done to their ship during the battle. With a new heading from Lyndra, the party set sail for a daring rescue mission at the heart of the Stalking Eye’s base of operations: Shipwreck Cove!
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Session 37: Aquatic Climes and Sick Rhymes
The session opened with Midzaynov regaling the myconids of Penumbra Grove with her original song, Mushroom Pie. The song recounted the exploits of the F.I.A in shaming Grusktooth the cyclops, just as Bulon had requested. During her performance, innumerable spores were shot into the air from the excited mushroom folk, resulting in a hallucinatory, transcendental, and mind-bending entertainment experience that exceeded the raw psychedelic high of even the most expensive of designer drugs. With Bulon’s blessing, the F.I.A left Penumbra Grove with a guide who would aid them in leaving the Feydark - an unusually aggressive myconid named Jant. A few hours into their journey through twisting, labyrinthine caverns, the party came across an elven outpost. After a tense negotiation helmed by Zaric, the party was allowed entry into the elves’ temporary base camp. Inside, they met a very earnest elf named Finwe who explained he was part of an organization dedicated to researching and documenting flora and fauna across all corners of the multiverse called Elebrin. The party learned about the elf capital Londolind, the fact that the majority of elves believe that the Feywild is the literal center of the multiverse (despite more recent factual evidence to the contrary: i.e the Material Plane), and about the Starblades, an elven faction that appears to be some kind of policing force in the Feywild.

Leaving the relative safety of the outpost behind, the F.I.A continued their journey to leave the Feydark on their way to the Queen of Air and Darkness. Using stealth, the party avoided the attention of house-sized beetles and other colossal chitinous creatures that scuttled across the cavern’s walls. Coming across a narrow tunnel covered in white webs, the party fought a group of spiders that phased in and out of the Feywild to attack their prey! The F.I.A quickly turned the tables on these arachnids, however, and the battle was won. After squeezing through the rest of the tight cavern, the party suddenly came face to face with a wall of water. Looking within it, the party saw impossibly-shaped fish, seaweed, and even sand. The party realized suddenly that the “Peacewaters” that they were seeking was a fey ocean that overlapped the Great Expanse in the Feywild! Their journey complete, Jant bid them adieu, and stomped into the darkness.

Lyndra informed the party that they were looking for an individual known as the Keeper of the Peacewaters, and that this individual would guide them to the Winter Queen. After a quick casting of water breathing by Wykeera, the party began to swim close to the ocean floor in order to make navigation to this being easier. The F.I.A used currents to keep traversal as seamless as possible, and eventually came across towering coral reefs. Behind one such section of coral, a standoff between seelie and unseelie fey was unfolding. Lyndra explained that because it was forbidden to shed blood in the Feywild, their battle was unfolding on a scale of lyrical wit. Taking the side of the unseelie fey, the F.I.A entered into a rap battle with a seelie fey lord named Brycherion. Utilizing a disturbingly high quantity of “your mom” jokes, the party was victorious. Ever the sore loser, Brycherion sicced his nautical elephants on the party and fled. Luckily, Midzaynov used her inherent draconic abilities to strike fear into the ambiphants for long enough to allow everyone to escape to a nearby reef. Inside, the angler-headed unseelie fey that the party aided introduced them to Nenya, a young archfey of the unseelie court, who helped the F.I.A’s spellcasters alter their “known” spells.

After bidding the archfey farewell, the F.I.A continued their journey towards the Keeper of the Peacewaters. While the rest of the party swam, Zaric used his hex-teleport to avoid any exertion whatsoever. Three hours later, the party came upon the first signs of an island. The F.I.A surfaced quickly using Wykeera’s wildshape, and found a dilapidated stone temple sitting on a relatively small archipelago. Inside this temple was a woman with seaweed hair, bark skin, and glowing blue eyes. Although her appearance had changed, Wykeera immediately recognized the Keeper of the Peacewaters as none other than Miletia, the druid that the party had met in the Garden of Deliverance who had been killed by Xeridal over a year ago! Lyndra explained that Miletia had been the keeper of the Peacewaters for about a century. When the party brought up the incongruent timeline, the fey reminded them that time in the Feywild flows much differently than it does in the Material Plane. Addressing Miletia’s apparent demise, Lyndra explained that she and other powerful fey entities had contacted Miletia’s soul and asked if she would like to return to life, albiet with a new purpose. Faced with the opportunity to protect natural landscapes once more, Miletia accepted the fey’s offer. Lyndra’s group had also tried to revive Fia, but their attempt to raise the dead had failed.

Miletia informed the party that she would love to escort them to the Queen of Air and Darkness, but her boat had been stolen by pirates. In response to this, Midzaynov produced her Kelkan Folding Boat! The party boarded with Miletia and Lyndra in tow, Thane set the wind to the correct course, and the party set sail towards the domain of the Queen of Air and Darkness …
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Session 36: Murder, Mushrooms, and Mayonnaise
The session opened with the party traveling north through the streets of Yalba, unsure of their next steps in the aftermath of Teoshi’s al-Surai’s demise. On their way towards the Sultan’s Palace, they noticed a conclave of guards gathered at the Athenaeum. According to Raha al-Kharii and Nurata, who were overseeing the apparent crime scene within, a break-in had occurred the night of the ball. The two librarians who were tasked with guarding the quarters of Racha’s gynosphinx had been killed! The party decided to lend their preternatural abilities to ascertain what had occurred at the Athenaeum before dealing with the owlbear in the room: the fact that the F.I.A was still not in agreement about their next steps.

With the hesitant approval of Sekmet al-Id, the F.I.A was allowed temporary access to the hallway that led to the divine gynosphinx. Before entering the darkened chamber, Midzaynov used her Headband of Thoughts to scan the mind of Nurata, who was also examining the crime scene. Midzaynov picked up on a few errant thoughts as she was speaking to the party: “Contact,” “Network,” “Investigation,” “Conspiracy,” and “The Weavers.” The party also learned that Nurata was not a member of The Hellraisers, although she was closely affiliated with them. Entering the chamber, Wykeera found that both humanoid footprints and an irregular, amorphous shape had made its way through the ancient dust and gravel that lined the chamber’s floor. Deductible deduced that the large, winding shape was consistent with the tracks of a massive snake. The tracks revealed that whatever creatures had entered the gynosphinx’s chambers had also left it.

Examining the guards, the party determined that their cause of death was most likely a series of deep cuts on their torsos. Wykeera deduced that the cuts were made by a bladed weapon from an especially high vantage point. The librarians were close to their posts at the time of their deaths, meaning that whatever killed them was able to get close without alerting suspicion. Examining the floor next to the winding double staircase that led to the gynosphinx’s chambers, Thane found a translucent pliable convex object with an emerald-colored center about the size of his thumb. It was a contact lens - a rare object usually coveted by elites who can afford such a commodity. The party recalled the only individual that they knew who had emerald eyes: Sisava al-Surai. At the moment, however, there appeared to be no concrete evidence to link her to the crime.

As the party geared up to leave the Athenaeum, their investigation completed for the moment, Hagar pulled Raha aside. He informed her that their party was soon leaving for the Feywild, and offered to stay behind in Yalba and help to rebuild the city in the meantime. Raha nodded slowly, pulled Zari away from the rest of the party, and asked her when she was planning to tell her best friend that she was leaving for an epic adventure on another plane of existence. They caught up in the brief time they had, and Raha informed Zari that Makaria would act as her retainer for the immediate future. The two had a tearful farewell that was in no way interrupted by Thane. The F.I.A had officially decided on their next step: they would enter the Feywild to answer the Queen of Air and Darkness' invitation. Hagar would stay behind in the interim to nurture the growth of the Yalban Parliament, build the FIAting Pit, and reinforce the strength of his network of contacts.

The F.I.A began to prepare for their extraplanar journey. Zari decided that she should tell her friends and loved ones that she was leaving Yalba for the foreseeable future, and casually informed the party that she had slept with Zaeshir. When Zari visited her home temple to tell her family of her impending adventure, she found Rashad speaking to her mother in the main foyer. Her on-again off-again romantic partner was wearing ... ceremonial robes of Kielel!? Zari immediately broke out in a cold sweat. She was here to unofficially break things off between them, but was he about to … propose? No. He couldn’t be. He wouldn’t. They hadn’t even talked about it, why would he -

And then he dropped to one knee.

Zari just about had a heart attack before she realized that her tiefling companion had simply dropped a ceremonial bangle and had knelt down to pick it up. The shell-shocked cleric let her heart rate slowly fall as Tulsi explained that Rashad planned to help out around the Temple of Kielel for the time being, seemingly anticipating her daughter’s growing sense of wanderlust. Before she departed, Tulsi reiterated the situation with her siblings. Twenty years ago, when Zari was too young to remember, Tulsi decided to scatter her children to the corners of the earth in a desperate bid to keep them safe from Urilesh. Tulsi had taken Zari’s magic potential as a child as a sign that Kielel had a special plan for her, and kept her under her watch Yalba. When several years had passed and the Miszas thought that the threat of Urilesh was behind them, they had Hamza. Tulsi explained that she gave each sibling’s caretaker an amulet, and instructed them to never let the child be without it. With one amulet, another amulet could be found - that way, even though Tulsi would not know her children’s whereabouts, they could perhaps find each other one day when the danger had permanently left them.

As Zari was leaving, she found a strangely beautiful tiefling man closely examining the Temple of Kielel. The mystical figure introduced himself as Zaric, an emissary from the Queen of Air and Darkness who had been sent to ensure that the F.I.A reach their destination of the Winter Court safe and sound. Zaric had an airy, otherworldly quality about him. He had traveled to Yalba with the aid of a former enemy - Raam the jackalwere! The three of them made introductions and caught up. Meanwhile, Hagar visited Belet again, and Midi gave him 10 platinum to give to the beleaguered tiefling. As Midzaynov was wishing Quespa farewell, she told her to not steal from people unless they were bad, and promised to take her to Kelkenheim one day. Thane gave Atka spending some spending money to live off of while they were away. The party bought supplies in the form of rations and spell material components, bade a temporary farewell to Hagar, and head to the River Room within the Yalban Catacombs to begin the next chapter in their journey. Utilizing the fish scale that Meekroot had given Wykeera, the F.I.A passed through the azure glow of the recently-restored Fey Crossing by immersing themselves in the river’s currents. When the F.I.A broke the surface of the water once more, they had emerged in another world.

This realm, known as the Feydark, was brightly-colored, otherworldly, and filled to the brim with magic. Thane made the decision to travel in his changeling form for the time being. As Lyndra emerged from the Fey Crossing, a new form was revealed. Citing a phenomenon known as “Planar Vitality,” Lyndra revealed that her humanoid-sized form was due to her re-emergence into her home plane. She explained that there are certain creatures in Aldion who have a unique connection to one of the planes of existence. For those creatures, a return to their connected plane can lead to a resurgence of vitality; by the same token, being separated from their plane for long periods of time can lead to their gradual enervation.

As the F.I.A traveled through subterranean tunnels, neon-hued mushrooms gave electrum coins as thanks for interacting with them. The party traveled through winding passageways and past flora-covered rocks until they came across a wide cavern full of bipedal mushroom-like beings. The party consented to the apparent wishes of these mute, ambulatory mushroom creatures and were herded towards the center of their settlement. Glowing spores shot from the caps of these myconids, allowing for a psychic form of communication between the two groups. Between immense, moss-covered stones, a towering myconid made their presence known. This myconid sovereign introduced himself as Bulon, and welcomed the F.I.A to Penumbra Grove. The party made note of several elven spore servants - fallen beings who were found in the underdark and reanimated by the myconids to serve as temporary labor.

The F.I.A was informed that because they entered the myconids’ domain peacefully, they would be allowed passage through their home. Upon hearing of the F.I.A’s goals, Bulon offered them an escort out of the Feydark in exchange for a favor: embarrassing a cyclops known as Grusktooth. The Feydark was full of cyclopes, but this one in particular apparently found great pleasure in dismembering the myconid scouts who left from Penumbra Grove to gather resources. The myconids were a peaceful race, so outright violence was out of the question. A bit of mischief, though … that was acceptable. The party was also warned of a race of giants known as fomorians - perceptive and hideous beings who had betrayed the fey queens in an age long past and now commanded the cyclopes of the Feydark. The party agreed to Bulon’s request, came up with a plan, and left Penumbra Grove to find Grusktooth.

The F.I.A successfully followed Bulon’s directions on their way to the cyclopes’ den, stealthed past humongous beetles that occupied the top of the massive cavern, and passed by a crevice in the cave wall that seemed to contain a campsite. The F.I.A created a very realistic-looking replica of a myconid using druidcraft and Wykeera’s basketweaving skills, and then filled it to the brim with four gallons of mayonnaise created from the Jug of Alchemy. The party used Zaric’s invisibility spell to sneak into Grusktooth’s den, which contained dozens of menacing one-eyed giants. The party found Grusktooth mouthing off to two other cyclopses in the main thoroughfare of their makeshift underground city, found a suitable hiding place beneath a large crack in the stone of one of their streets, and captured Grusktooth’s attention just enough for him to see the myconid replica. Grusktooh picked the myconid up with one massive hand, and began waving it around, indicating to all of the other cyclopes in the vicinity of his capture. Just as Grusktooth was about to crush the myconid in his hand, Zaric unleashed two eldritch blasts at the dummy! The myconid replica exploded, unleashing mayonnaise into the cyclops’ eye. The giant screamed, grabbed at its eye, and stumbled backwards … right into Midzaynov’s unseen servant. Grusktooth lost his balance and fell ass-first onto a lighting fixture, causing the roar of dozens of cyclopses’ laughter to shake the very foundation of the Feydark itself.

Unfortunately, there was one enemy that the party was not able to fool. Catching onto Zaric’s second eldritch blast, a formorian made its hideous presence known, stomping directly for the F.I.A’s hiding spot! The party turned invisible and ran before the giant could use his massive hand to upturn the small section of road that they managed to hide under, barely escaping their dire straits. The session ended as the party returned to Penumbra Grove, excited to tell their tale to the myconids ...
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Session 35: Galas and Gaslighting
The session opened with the F.I.A ensnared in a perilous position. Thane Illamin, Raha al-Kharii, Phanalan, Teoshi al-Surai, and two dozen Janavian nobles had inadvertently triggered a trap in Teoshi’s basement during the Crystal Ball on the eve of the new year, trapping them inside as the room filled with poisonous gas! The rest of the F.I.A would need to quickly find a way to save their allies before they succumbed to the toxic fumes!

Surviving this trap would require both guile and cunning. Almost immediately after the trap sprung, the Janavian nobles began to clutch their throats and gasp for whatever breathable air was left in the chamber. They pressed their bodies against the door, pounding on the stone as they began to lose consciousness. Thane’s use of a misty step spell to get closer to the exit alerted Phanalan that the blacksmith that he had been speaking to before things went sideways had inherent magical potential. Unbeknownst that it was actually Thane in disguise, Phanalan began to launch spells at Thane instead of trying to find a way to escape! Teoshi announced to the choking crowd that the trap had sprung because the manor’s security systems had been triggered, and that she was going to the back of the chamber to activate something that would help them. She ran out of the range of Phanalan’s dancing lights and into the darkness.

Meanwhile, the rest of the F.I.A attempted to enter the basement. Two magically-sealed doors stood in their way: one directly behind the false bookcase on the main level of the estate, and another on the basement level. Wykeera, sharp as ever, cast stone shape twice on the walls adjacent to the magic doors to bypass them entirely! She entered the deadly chamber with Zari and Hagar following close behind. Soon after entering, the Zeharian stonework began to magically knit itself shut, trapping most of the F.I.A in the basement once again. Midzaynov, who had missed her opportunity to enter the chamber before the stonework had shut itself, teleported inside with the assistance of Ghara’s dimension door spell. Reunited, the F.I.A was ready to tackle the situation head-on.

Wykeera cast a daylight spell to completely illuminate the darkened chamber. Zari discovered Teoshi’s unmoving form near the back of the chamber and ran to her. Teoshi’s arm was inside of a hole in the wall; Zari removed Teoshi’s arm, reached her own arm into the hole, and discovered a hidden lever! Pulling it, hidden vents in the basement’s walls suddenly opened, providing an exit for the gas that had accumulated in the chamber. Meanwhile, Midzaynov used her time to inspect the statue in the center of the chamber. She determined that while it probably was not directly related to the trap, there was evidence that another statue once stood in its place.

After disabling the magical locks that held the door of the basement shut with the help of Nurata’s bardic inspiration from the other side of the door, most of the room’s inhabitants had fallen unconscious from the onslaught of poison gas. The gas shifted in type during the encounter, challenging the party’s physical and mental attributes alike. Eventually, only Hagar and Ghara were left standing after a dramatic showdown with Phanalan ended with the sorcerer unconscious. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Hagar finally pulled the door to the chamber open with his brute strength alone! Yalban guards rushed into the room and began to rescue the survivors.

In the trap’s aftermath, Teoshi’s body was discovered. Wykeera determined that Teoshi had succumbed to her own poison gas. Upon discovering this, Sisava became inconsolable; she began lashing out at the guards, Phanalan, and the F.I.A. Zari cast a calm emotions spell to try to mollify her - strangely, it had no effect. Midzaynov used the last charge of her headband of thoughts to read Sisava’s mind, and learned that her inner monologue in that moment was not based in emotion in the slightest. Through crocodile tears, she asked the crowd if her mother’s fate would befall all who attempted to free their slaves in the city. On the sidelines of the spectacle, Hagar word-vomited at Ghara in an awkward attempt at normal human conversation. Ghara was curious, tipsy, and looking for a way to get Hagar to stop talking. She quickly kissed Hagar, and walked into the cool night air.

Phanalan was promptly arrested and brought to Qadira Prison for temporary holding. He was followed by Bernadette, Voriombor, and the F.I.A. Midzaynov turned invisible to eavesdrop on Bernadette and Vorimbor, who were whispering to each other in the prison’s atrium. Midi learned from the pair that Phanalan’s symptoms of madness were not new, and had apparently been getting worse as of late. Thane and Midi (invisibly) followed Phanalan to his holding cell. The pair learned that the cell was warded by an antimagic field, and that Phanalan himself was not sure if he had perpetuated the crimes that he had been accused of.

The F.I.A was torn about what to do next. Wykeera wanted to leave for the feywild immediately, while Thane and the others wanted to tackle the trial of the sphinx. Hagar was strongly considering staying in Yalba for the time being to watch over the city while it recovered. Wykeera spoke with Lyndra, who told her that it would be a difficult task to reach the Queen of Air and Darkness, and that journey itself was part of the trial that the queen had in mind for her. Atka demonstrated to Thane that she had apparently learned the scorching ray spell by almost ruining a perfectly good breakfast that she was in the process of cooking.

The session closed as the party walked northward through the city to seek the counsel of the royal family, unsure of their next course of action...
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Session 34: Starfall
The session began during the morning of Starfall with the F.I.A exchanging their holiday gifts. Joined by Atka and Quespa, the adventurers sat on a circle of pillows within their new abode in the Gold District. Gifts were given, laughs were had, and joy was shared. Thane gifted his fellow party members with magically-imbued business cards that provided a small boost to their power. Midzaynov gave Zari an enchanted journal that could only be opened with the sound of her voice. Within the journal’s pages was an updated Letter of Recommendation from House Maldren that officially added Zari as a member of the F.I.A. Midzaynov gifted Thane with a copy of his first book that included a forward from the recently-crowned Sultan Abdul al-Kharii to support the Firan release. Zari gave each of her companions three hundred gold pieces worth of diamonds, essentially granting each of them with an extra chance to avoid passing into Kielel’s warm embrace before it was their time with the help of her revivify spell. Wykeera offered to awaken Deductible, Hagar’s stalwart squirrel companion, and set off to begin the eight-hour casting process once she received an answer in the affirmative. Hagar gave his companions crudely constructed busts made of baklava, and announced his plan to re-make the Levithan’s Pit into a government-sanctioned fighting pit dubbed the FIAting Pit, a name given by Wykeera’s unfortunate suggestion.

During the day, Hagar threw flaming barrels off of the roof of their new home and Zari caught them because she is resistant to fire damage. Starfall! Hagar used to do this tradition in Yalba by burning down entire houses. This behavior probably came from Bana-Kye.

That evening, the F.I.A invited the rest of their friends and allies to exchange gifts. A cornucopia of people made an appearance. The crew of Dak's Axes (And We Also Sell Swords), the Cobalt Company, and many others took part in the festivities. During the gathering, Aldritch revealed to the F.I.A that he was engaged to a Galmranian lass named Laura, and that he had accepted an opportunity to act as the captain of the Yalban guard for the time being. Zari was officially inducted into the F.I.A., and told the party that she wished to continue adventuring with them. All in all, far too many gifts were given to recount here, and I refuse to spend even one more second mentioning them.

Raha, between bites of star-shaped cookies, agreed that Hagar's idea of a government-sanctioned fighting pit could help to raise the quality of life for those who lived outside the walls - if it was done right, that is. About midway through the evening celebration, Wykeera and Deductible made their way downstairs. The squirrel spoke to the party for the first time with the aid of Wykeera's magic, and revealed his tragic backstory: a pack of wolves had killed his parents mere days before Hagar found him in Drasek. The F.I.A also became acquainted with Ghara, the stern sorcerer/mercenary daughter of Artificer Saadia. Before the night could come to a close, the party received a parcel that contained premium invitations to Teoshi’s ball. Hagar recalled that premium tickets are reserved for Teoshi’s close friends, and provided access to an "after dark" version of the ball after midnight that typically involves doing hard, hard drugs. The next day, Wykeera visited Galene, her nereid mentor and friend. Galene warned her to be careful while she was in the Feywild, and told her of the Peacewaters, a neutral region of the Feywild that once served to heal the wounded and weary.

The night of the gala quickly approached. The party bought Janavian cocktail attire, had a quick discussion weighing the pros and cons of exposing Teoshi's murder dungeon, and walked confidently into the brisk winter air. Their first snag hit them as they reached the front of the entry line: Kriv, who was acting as a bouncer, told the F.I.A that weapons were not allowed inside. The F.I.A slightly faltered in their persuasion, and Hagar’s magic hammer was confiscated!

The adventurers, now allowed entry into the gala, were immediately taken by the ambiance. The outer chambers of the estate were filled with the sound of light social chatter and the smell of fresh lavender. Teoshi's estate - a building purposefully designed to resemble a Zeharian ruin - had been specially prepared for the evening. Slaves lined each wall with cocktails and appetizers in hand. Would-be socialites spoke amongst themselves as the party arrived, hoping to curry favor. Sensing her impending social anxiety, Midzaynov immediately downed a glass of champagne. As the F.I.A mingled with the party-goers, they noticed that certain members of Iomine (Phanalan, Vorimbor, Bernadette) were in attendance, as well as Nurata and Shivalis. Hagar noticed that Pakt was in charge of security for the event, and approached her. He asked her if she was okay with the F.I.A exposing Teoshi at her gala tonight. The gang leader gave a belly laugh, told Hagar that she had no idea what he was talking about, and urged him to enjoy the party.

Thirty minutes later, Teoshi made a grand entrance at the top of the balcony in the Crystal Ballroom with a large serpent coiled across her shoulders. She dramatically introduced her daughter, Sisava, who bore a striking resemblance to her mother. Teoshi then made the announcement that she was freeing all of her slaves, effective immediately. With a wave of her hand, all of her servants’ shackles dropped to the floor. The crowd was agog. Teoshi explained that she had felt the winds of change blowing in Yalba for some time now, but with the F.I.A’s victory over Auntie Ashheart, it was now time for her to take the first steps in combating the evils of the slave trade. Teoshi also mentioned that she would be happy to stay at the forefront of any groups of power that supported the freeing of slaves. Once Teoshi’s eye-catching pronouncement was over, the ball began in earnest. As Teoshi walked away from the balcony, Midzaynov used her Headband of Thoughts to read Teoshi’s mind. As Teoshi turned a sideways glance to the crowd beneath her, she thought to herself “that should keep me safe.”

Zari began to dance with Sisava, who looked to be about her age. While they spun in the center of the crowded ballroom, Sisava casually asked Zari if she came from a rich family, and lost all interest in the conversation when Zari replied in the negative. Zari asked if they had met before. Sisava shook her head and told her that she had been out of town for a very long time. Midzaynov used another charge of her headband to read Sisava’s thoughts; she was condescendingly analyzing Zari as they twirled and conversed. Midzaynov noticed Nurata talking to Shivalis, the latter of whom darted off to another area of the party once they finished speaking. Midzaynov danced with the ebony-skinned aasimar, who moved with a practiced grace.

During this time, Wykeera did her absolute best to not cause a scene. For better or worse, the rest of the F.I.A had other plans. Thane disguised himself as both Rafiq and a Galmrankan blacksmith named Zaerok to lure Teoshi away from the gala to the parlor where they had first met. Meanwhile, Zari focused her efforts on Phanalan. Phanalan seemed to be more unstable than usual; he could not catch his breath, and was relieved to have an excuse to leave the crowded space when Zari approached him. In the parlor, Thane found an excuse to step out while disguised as Zaerok, and then twinned his dominate person scroll. His magics overcame both Teoshi’s and Phanalan’s willpower; they both became enslaved to Thane’s will! Without hesitation, Thane had his thralls re-enter the ballroom. Phanalan announced to the ball from the top of the marble balcony that they were on their way to Teoshi’s secret basement, and invited the entire room to join them there for “a surprise.” Teoshi affirmed this, and then began to make out with Phanalan. The two controlled individuals bypassed Teoshi’s secret chamber entrance behind the false bookcase with a whispered command word. Teoshi, Phanalan, and two dozen nobles hurried down into the basement area, including Raha al-Kharii, at Zari’s request.

From his perch near the secret opening behind the bookcase, Thane sensed that party-goers were not having the reaction that he had anticipated. He then realized that there was no light inside of the basement chamber. To rectify this, he had Phanalan cast dancing lights to illuminate the space. The two dozen nobles still seemed more confused than horrified, so Thane descended the ladder to find the basement not at all as it was described by Wykeera over a month ago. The hundreds of snakes that Wykeera had told the F.I.A about were not present. Stacked against the ancient walls were several mundane crates and barrels, dusty and cobweb-ridden. Standing in the center of the room was a tall, bulky object covered by a white sheet. With the last of the time remaining on the dominate person spell, Thane commanded Phanalan to remove the sheet. As he did, Teoshi regained her senses and cried “No! The security syst-” as gouts of purple gas began to rise from the floor. The doors to the cellar closed with a heavy thud as the occupants of the basement began coughing and clutching their throats …
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