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Session 5 Summary

Identity Crisis

During the break, Qirk had a revelation and realized who he really was. After all the shapeshifting, he had temporarily forgotten his identity, but he now remembered that he was an Eladrin rogue. Unfortunately, due to the mental strain of his revelation, Qirk lost the ability to shapeshift forever.

Planning the Assassination

We join the heroes as they work on their warehouse and decide how to act during the coming public address. Bertis decided to build himself a private room and began stacking boxes and such together. Hale began work on his forge and created a makeshift furnace. Qirk attempted to build himself a vanity table. As the heroes worked, they discussed a plan for dealing with Tulstor.

Wort started off, "This is our chance! We can finish Tulstor once and for all."

Hale agreed, "Right, but how do we want to do this? We need a plan for getting near him. Qirk can't shapeshift to look like him anymore."

"I could disguise him," Bertis volunteered.

The heroes thought some more and decided to disguise Qirk as Tulstor and Hale, Bertis, Arctus, and Bogard as police to escort Qirk, while Wort and Karne would stay in the crowd. Bertis did a decent job with the police disguises, but did an unbelievable job on Qirk's Tulstor outfit – Qirk looked like an exact duplicate. However, the heroes had differing opinions on what Qirk should do. Qirk wanted to show up very early and deliver a different speech. Hale, on the other hand, wanted to approach Tulstor while he was on stage.

The Speech

Tulstor The heroes did not arrive on a firm plan, but set out early to scout the area. The stage was ten feet tall; Bertis was indignant: "Why do they have such a tall stage? They're never that high." The police were already guarding both ramps on the sides of the stage, so the heroes quietly stood in the crowd under cloaks to remain unnoticed. The time of the speech arrived, and Tulstor rose through the floor of the stage. He was an imposing man, dressed in military garb and wearing black combat armor. The crowd remained eerily silent as he glanced around with a stony expression. Looming from the pedestal, Tulstor was silent for at least a minute before finally speaking:

"Good afternoon, citizens. I come before you today to speak of the recent attack on a government building. As many of you are well aware, a terrorist group calling themselves 'Cataclysm' assaulted and destroyed a government office two days ago."

The heroes started to make their way to the right side of the stage, pushing through the crowd. Tulstor continued:

"The office was nothing more than a facility for the people of the lower city. This attack has done nothing but harm ordinary citizens – one person was even physically injured."

The heroes arrived at the base of the ramp to the stage. They were surprised that Tulstor had not brought up Wort's misdeed.

The police stopped them and said, "No one on stage while Tulstor is speaking."

Qirk replied, "I'm his brother. I need to go up there and warn him. Now."

"Tulstor doesn't have a brother. And I didn't hear anything about this."

Hale jumped in, "Look, this is extremely important. Do you want to be fired when they learn that you ruined this speech?"

The officer hesitated and then said, "Wait here. Let me ask my officer." He walked over, whispered to another man for a few seconds, and then returned. "Ok. There was no word of this. I can't let you up here."

Qirk decided it was time to reveal the disguise and removed the cloak. Bertis had done such an amazing job that the police officer started and gasped, "This is big." The heroes proceeded up the ramp to the stage. Meanwhile, Tulstor continued:

"These reckless criminals are a threat to your safety. They are a threat to my safety. And above all, they are a threat to Lucan's safety. If any of you should spot Cataclysm, immediately report the situation to a police officer."

The crowd began to murmur as the heroes neared the stage. And then the heroes felt something touch their minds. It was very brief, but something had just come into contact. Tulstor paused and said, "Even now, they are here." The heroes had reached the stage. Tulstor turned to face Qirk and said, "What are you doing?" Qirk then announced:

"I am Tulstor. I am going to rule this city my way – by force. I will continue to rob all of you of your freedoms. I will cut the salaries of all police officers and put twice as many into force. And I will lie to all of you."

Qirk then tore off the disguise and shouted "We are Cataclysm!" Then weapons were drawn. Tulstor reacted immediately, attacking all heroes with a wave of psychic energy. Most of the heroes survived the attack, but something happened to Bertis's eyes. He cruelly smiled and turned to face the heroes. Unleashing a blast of thunder and lightning, he shocked Hale and Arctus was thrown from the stage. Tulstor then turned and glared at Bogard, who simply passed out and fell to the floor. Hale attempted to stab Tulstor, but each jab felt like stabbing into ice and his spear was violently pushed to the side with each thrust. Qirk ran up to Tulstor to stab him in the back, but upon approaching felt an unbearable headache and could not concentrate on the attack. Meanwhile, the police engaged Qirk and began to beat him down with stun batons. Tulstor turned to Hale and cryptically said, "You are the cause of all of this." He telekinetically lifted Hale from the stage and threw him into the panicking crowd. Bertis continued to fire lightning at Qirk, but missed. Qirk desperately attempted to slash at Tulstor, but he felt his sword glance off an invisible force. Hale tried to run back to the stage, but Tulstor once again lifted him off the ground and attempted to strangle him telekinetically. Somehow, through monumental effort, Hale survived and wrestled free. He ran to the foot of the stage, activated the haft extender, and stabbed upwards, tripping Tusltor and knocking him off the stage. Qirk succumbed to the officers' beating, and Hale, physically exhausted, collapsed.

The heroes had been defeated. They each heard a voice inside their head; it was Tulstor:

"And so, another uprising shall end. Do you think that your idea is original? Do you not think there have been others before you? Do you not think tens or even hundreds have attempted this same sort of revolution? I have dealt with more would-be heroes of the people than I can remember. Let me pose a question to all of you. Even if you were to succeed in removing me, how would you 'save' this city? None of you have any idea of the magnitude of your scheme. I think that I am a fair man, even to my enemies. Therefore, you will not be executed. However, I cannot have people such as yourselves threatening this city. As such, you will all be exiled, save the man you call Bertis. I recognize potential within this individual, so he shall serve me. As for the rest of you, we will not meet again."

Everything went black.

The Village

Ardanthis Hale and Qirk awoke in a different place. They were in soft, warm beds in a room with large windows. Looking outside, it was a strange sight – there were trees and plants, and no sign of the haze they had become so familiar with. They found all of their gear except for the weapons at the foot of each bed. Arctus, Wort, Karne, Bogard, and Bertis were all missing. Strangely, there was a scruffy and gangly-looking young man in one of the beds.

The heroes introduced themselves, and the young man exclaimed, "You guys are Cataclysm!? I've seen your posters! You guys are amazing. I've been wanting to join you. I'm Barry Duvall."

Hale responded, "Well, Barry, now you have your chance, although I don't have a clue where we are."

Agitated, Qirk shouted, "This is just a dream! This isn't real!" He picked up a book and threw it at a window as hard as he could. The book bounced off and fell to the floor.

Drawn to the ruckus, a woman entered and asked, "Oh, you are awake. Is everything okay?"

"No. This place isn't real. The window won't even break."

"I assure you, this is real. Some people that wake up here are very agitated and violent. That window has been enchanted to resist being broken and possibly harming someone."

Still not satisfied, Qirk walked over to a table kicked the leg as hard as he could. He felt it crack, and the woman pled, "Please don't do that. There's no reason to be angry. You're safe here."

Hale turned to her and asked, "Just where are we, anyway?"

"You're in the village of Ardanthis. It's an elven town built in an enormous tree."

"How do we get back to Lucan?"

"I do not know of a place called Lucan."

"Of course. What areas are nearby?"

"To tell you the truth, I do not know. I have never left the village."

"How did we get here?"

"A great bird called a roc delivered you."

Hale remembered an old tale of a great wizard being carried by a roc and chuckled. He then asked, "Have there been others?"

"Every once in a while, the roc brings some people. We don't know where they come from."

"Interesting."

Barry looked around the floor, rustling around underneath the bed. The woman asked, "Are you looking for something?"

"My backpack. Where is my backpack?"

Hale agreed, "And my spear."

"Your weapons are in the village center. But why do you want them? There is no use for such things here."

Hale said, "Still, I'd like it back."

The heroes stepped outside into the village. It was an impressive sight, with wooden bridges connecting all of the huts inside the giant tree. The heroes explored and were approached by a dwarf: "You were sent here too, weren't you?"

Hale responded, "Yeah. What's it to you?"

"I may not look like it, but I was once like you guys. I thought I could save the city. And I ended up here."

"How long have you been here?"

"I don't know. Years. I've gotten to like it."

Qirk asked, "Haven't you tried to escape?"

"At first. But I grew tired of searching. Why would I want to go back to that nasty, polluted city when I can stay here?"

"This place isn't real," Qirk answered.

"I once thought that too, but I'm pretty sure it is."

Hale questioned, "Couldn't we just climb down the tree?"

"Take a look." The heroes glanced down and could not see the ground. The dwarf continued, "A few have tried. Some others simply jumped. They never returned."

"I see. What's your name?"

"I'm Torkier. Come find me later on. I'll help you get acquainted here."

The heroes continued on, wondering if they had died and passed into the afterlife. They arrived at the village center and asked an elf there for their weapons. He answered, "Yes, I have them. But what do you need them for? There's no fighting here."

"I need my backpack," Barry insisted.

"I will give you your possessions back, but you must swear that you will not cause any injury to anyone or anything inside this village."

The heroes agreed and got back their precious weapons. The elf said, "I'm Aramil. I can answer any questions you might have about this village."

Hale tried the same question: "How do we get back to Lucan?"

"I'm afraid I do not know of any such place."

"How do we leave this place?"

"There is no clear answer to that. Some have tried to climb down, but have not returned. They may have made it out. But there is no need for that. We have everything you need right here. You will each be given a home to reside in."

The heroes thanked Aramil and departed. Strangely, the heroes just barely heard Bogard's voice. He seemed to be calling to them. They headed in the direction of the voice. They approached a dwelling and looked inside. There was a strange man hunched on the floor, rocking: "They're coming."

Hale asked, "Who's coming?"

"Them."

"What are they going to do?"

The man screeched like an animal and rocked faster. "They're coming."

The heroes decided that this man would be of little help and continued. Bogard's voice grew louder. Along the way, they ran into an older man. Barry immediately recognized him: "Dad! Where have you been all these years?!"

"Barry! It's so good to see you. I've been stuck here."

"Why did you leave mom and me behind?"

"I wanted to return, but there's no way out of this place."

"How did you get here?"

"The same way you did. Tulstor banished me."

While Barry caught up with his father, Hale saw his long-lost brother Chase approaching. "Chase! Where have you been?"

Chase answered, "I was over in Winterhaven. I was with a group of adventurers and we raided this old keep. There was this old deathpriest called Kalarel and he was trying to summon Orcus or something. He was a real jerk. We beat him down, though. Then we went to this giant mountain and into this underground city where we explored ruins and junk."

The heroes spoke to their family members, but then Bogard's voice called to them again, this time from a hut. The heroes longed to continue talking, but approached the hut. Bogard's voice became deafening and the hut shook. It became unbearable, and then the giant tree that held Ardanthis up collapsed.

The Prison

Prison The heroes awoke a second time, this time in prison cells.

"I told you!" Qirk shouted.

Bogard telepathically said to the heroes, "I'm glad you've all woken. We need to find a way out of here."

The heroes searched their respective cells of objects to use, but the cells were barren. Qirk shook the cell door and a nearby guard shouted, "Pipe down!" Qirk did it again and the guard once again shouted at him to pipe down. The third time, the guard muttered, "I'll show him," and grabbed a rod that looked similar to the police beatsticks, but with a longer handle. He jabbed at Qirk through the bars several times, shocking him.

Hale realized that the modified beatstick was a polearm and taunted the guard: "Why don't you try that over here?"

The guard glanced over and said, "Your time will come."

The heroes sat for a while and thought about their situation. Tulstor had defeated them with ease and was aware of their plans. How could he be stopped now? The guard returned some time later with beatrod in hand. He glared at Hale through the bars, "Your turn." He wound up, ready to stab at Hale, and then stopped. Blood ran from his mouth and he slumped to the floor. The heroes stared in shock, and then saw Wort standing over the body. He stated, "No one deserves to be imprisoned."

Karne appeared next to him and said, "I know you said not to let him do anything violent anymore, but I think in this case it was ok."

Wort picked the locks on the heroes' cells, but paused when he got to Qirk's. He looked directly at Qirk and asked, "Are we cool?" Qirk accepted and was released.

The heroes were out of the cells, but needed their gear back. Wort whispered, "I know where it is stored." He paused, and then revised, "But not because I've been in here before."

"Of course not," Hale said sarcastically.

Wort snuck over to a side room in the prison and then motioned Qirk over. With his newfound stealth ability, Qirk made it over and the two of them recovered everyone's gear.

Wort then whispered, "There are two ways out of here. We can try to fight our way back to the front, but there are hundreds of guards here. We would have to try to sneak. Or we could use the secret passage. The only problem with that is that it leads below the sewers into some caverns, and it could be dangerous." The heroes thought it over and agreed to head into the caverns. Wort added, "Oh I forgot. The secret passage is in the warden's office. And he's in there. So, uh, we have to get past him."

The warden turned out to be a huge man that dual-wielded beatsticks. The heroes rushed into his office and the fight was on. The warden immediately summoned some guards to engage the heroes and then jumped into the fray. He shouted and spun in a circle, striking everyone with the beatsticks. The heroes were reminded of a city mayor that did a similar move. During the fight, Barry pulled several robots out of his backpack and deployed them. They proved to be quite useful, distracting guards and causing a decent amount of damage. The warden turned out to be exceptionally resilient and recovered his stamina twice before finally collapsing. The heroes searched his office and found a very intimidating cloak and some dancing shoes. Then they opened a trapdoor underneath the desk and descended into the unkown. G
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