The Heirs

Session 22: Athkatla Burning

session-22-pic.jpg

Along the road to Athkatla.

Having recently arrived back in the Prime Material Plane only to see smoke rising in the south, Saradoc and Ooga impulsively set off to investigate while Kaloy remains behind to talk with Mason about a certain spell she’s interested in casting: a means of further protecting the ship from Abraham’s minions.

Kaloy offers the idea of using the Hallow spell on the Gypsy Dawn, but is unsure of what will happen to Skinny and Frenelis, two companions of the undead variety. Mason says he’s fine with casting the spell on the ship—anything to keep his crew safe—and Ofelia offers an idea: they should visit Lord Eddard in Candlekeep, a master of Evocation and her tutor.

Saradoc and Ooga, meanwhile, come across a traveler on the road accosted by Gith. The traveler, a Dragonborn monk named Kavanah, is en route to Athkatla in search of some information tied to her status as an “heir” and the destruction of her temple. Saradoc and Ooga help Kavanah fight off the Gith, taking one of them captive, but when they try to speak with their apparently new ally, the conversation is frosty at best. She doesn’t trust them, and nothing they say seems to make anything better. It isn’t until after Saradoc reveals a past trauma and Kavanah communicates with Kaloy that things are finally put into order—Kavanah will travel with the heroes, if only to get to Athkatla.

A city in flames.

The escort of imps.

As the Gypsy Dawn grew closer to the city, several demonic imps flew alongside the ship and greeted Saradoc as their brother. They asked if he was coming to enjoy the sacrifice and to contribute to their ritual. Mistress Kaliasa and the Daemonfey have been helping Abraham’s forces capture the Zhentarim, and all the citizens of the Zhent-controlled city of Athkatla, to bring to the center of the city for a horrific ritual.

Saradoc is able to convince the imps that he is, indeed, there to help and that the companions he is currently traveling with are actually his offerings for the sacrifice. After landing, Saradoc and Kaloy employ their magic to fool the demons into believing that Saradoc has beaten them into submission. An enormous bone devil arrives to help carry the “beaten” Kavanah, Kaloy, and Ooga through the city so they can be contributed for the sacrifice.

Enemies of enemies of enemies.

As they traversed the broken city, they found that no bodies had been left behind by the Daemonfey, though blood and destruction could be found everywhere. As they passed one building, Saradoc detected a certain magical presence and convinced the imps to go ahead without him.

Entering a ruined store, Saradoc found himself surrounded by several surviving Zhentarim agents. Their leader, a Tiefling named Kairon, told Saradoc what had happened: Abraham had cut his ties with the black cloaks, annoyed that they had been infiltrated and deceived so many times by the heroes. Now Abraham was experimenting with a new ritual, researched from the aboleth the heroes encountered and destroyed in the Astral Sea, to try to break back into Faerun without using the black fires.

If Saradoc offered the black cloaks safe passage out of the city, he would leave something behind for Saradoc and his companions: a clue to finding out just who all the Heirs are.

Saradoc and Kairon come to a shaky agreement, not trusting one another, until they realize they are both cursed by House Dlardrageth. Both possess a cursed coin, and Kairon has been cursed with some affliction that renders him unable to touch things. After Saradoc leaves, there is a new understanding between the two of them. Perhaps even some trust.

Meanwhile, the bone devil carrying Ooga, Kavanah, and Kaloy reveals it is learning how to speak Common. Kaloy has some fun tricking it with incorrect grammar.

Brothers and Sisters.

Another deal with the devil.

Arriving at Waukeen’s Pavilion, the economic center of Athkatla, the heroes find that the entire marketplace has been cleared out to make room for a tower of bodies, most still alive and writhing in pain, prepared for Abraham’s experimental ritual. The two Illithid brothers, Xallisine and Malinthelid, appear to be the ones behind it. They are joined by Mistress Kaliasa, a leader of the Daemonfey and the same devil the heroes previously met in Silverymoon.

Mistress Kaliasa, at least, appears amused by the heroes’ presence and is pleased to meet them again. Xallisine and Malinthelid, meanwhile, are ready to destroy the ones who have been such a thorn in Abraham’s side.

A fight ensues, and things begin terribly for the heroes as the Illithids’ mental abilities overpower them. The situation is made even worse as the Illithids command the Daemonfey to attack the Gypsy Dawn, to kill the crew left behind. However, Kaloy is able to distract them long enough to try to negotiate a deal. While trying to set terms with the mind flayers, Saradoc communicates with Mistress Kaliasa: he agrees to help her restore House Dlardrageth if they help them survive now. Kaliasa, satisfied with the trade, calls off the Daemonfey.

Madness.

The negotiation with the Illithids goes less well, however, but the distraction proved long enough to help the party recover. The heroes unleash all their power on Xallisine and bring him down. Malinthelid, the unstable brother already wracked with madness, shrieks in a pained cry and plane shifts away from the fight. Where he’s gone, no one knows.

It’s even less clear what he might do next.

View
Session 21: Adrift (Part 3)

session-21-pic.jpg

Unwelcome visitors.

Attack on the Gypsy Dawn.

With one path cut off as a dead end, the heroes decided to return to the Gypsy Dawn and consider more options. As they approached, a gunshot rang out, followed by the sounds of magical chanting and explosions. The heroes rushed back to the ship to find strange creatures, like floating brains with beaks and tentacles, harassing the ship. Skruk had been captured by one and was being carried away.

Mason warned that another one of the creatures had broken past them and got below deck. Saradoc and Ofelia rushed downstairs to handle it while Ooga transformed into an air elemental to chase the one escaping with Skruk. Kaloy and Tobias helped Mason on deck.

Saradoc made quick work of the creature below deck. As they rushed back above, Ofelia and Mason shared a moment, helping each other out just like old times. Tobias and Kaloy held their own against their respective foes.

Ooga, meanwhile, tried to rescue Skruk but was greeted by even more of the flying brain creatures. A telepathic message arrived in his head: “Leave us.” Skruk warned Ooga off as well, saying that he would be okay. Ooga stepped down and allowed the creatures to escape with Skruk, vowing to come to his rescue soon.

Frenelis, the friendly ghost.

With everyone gathered back on the ship, Mason ordered Skinny to give chase to the escaping creatures. Tobias, however, realized there was a new presence on the ship: a ghostly elf named Frenelis, who warned them they were foolish to pursue directly. He instead offered himself as a guide to help them go where Skruk would be taken. When the heroes asked why, he answered because he knew Skinny and was curious about the friendly face.

Frenelis revealed that he was a common sailor, who’d been part of research vessels in the past. Skinny, whose real name was Ogden, had served as a helmsman on a ship he’d been on in the past. On a different expedition, Frenelis’ boat was caught in a magical maelstrom and ended up here. He was killed, along with the rest of his crew, but while their souls were dragged off into the depths by evil shadows, Frenelis had escaped and remained in hiding for what may have been decades or centuries.

Into the depths.

Deeper into the darkness.

Frenelis led the heroes to a different tunnel. While Mason and Ofelia remained behind to defend the ship, the heroes proceeded on a rescue mission with their new ally. Tobias, meanwhile, heard strange echoes, of people giving praise to Lathander.

Deeper into the tunnel, their surroundings grew more and more damp. In the puddles on the ground, they could feel the presence of something watching them. Every so often, they caught glimpses of it in the reflections.

At one junction, Frenelis ordered the heroes to hide. As it turned out, there were Gith in the tunnels as well. Saradoc listened in on their conversation. The Gith had chased after the heroes in this direction, searching for them in these tunnels. The Gith already knew of this structure and had apparently lost many other expeditions to it before. Frenelis was convinced it was intentional.

As they listened in on the conversation, the Gith were suddenly attacked by enormous, lobster-like monsters. They creatures made quick work of the Gith, killing some, and dragging the rest screaming into the darkness beyond.

Echoes of Lathander’s presence.

Eventually, they came upon a desecrated chapel space. A stone statue revealed exactly who these ruins belonged to: a fearsome aboleth, an aberration of intense greed and narcissism that enslaved creatures and forced them to worship it. In the chapel, Tobias could feel an even stronger presence of Lathander. Drawn to a certain holy energy, Tobias discovered a symbol of Lathander in the desecrated chamber. Feeling it, he had visions of the past, as a cleric of Lathander tried to sanctify the place as his companions held off creatures from all around.

The Inner Sanctum.

The execution pools of Kanagreth.

Frenelis confessed he had never gone further than here, afraid of what was beyond. The heroes opened a door to find an enormous, circular chamber ringed with pools. Racks and stocks appeared apparently used in keeping victims in place lined the water. The heroes saw Skruk, captive but alive in one, and a monster was coming for his head with its enormous claws. The surviving Gith were in another. Beyond, they could see a small structure at the center of the chamber. Its doors were beginning to close.

Kaloy rushed forward to keep the doors open, while the others tried to help Skruk. Saradoc got Skruk free while Tobias and Ooga fended off the monster. Within the chamber, Kaloy could see a large, open pool with a pedestal on a platform at the center. A strange, mysterious artifact glowed on its surface.

Kaloy used her dissonant whispers to scare the creature off, but soon after found her mind taken over by another presence.

Tobias’ farewell.

The aboleth, Kanagreth, addressed the heroes through Kaloy’s mouth as Kaloy struggled for control of her mind. Kanagreth revealed that it had been trapped here in the Astral Sea by worshippers of Lathander, who had banished it from where it came from. In an attempt to break free from this prison and return to its own world, it had been experimenting with a powerful, evil magical ritual. Abraham knew about it and had been sending the Gith this direction to investigate—the method seemed more powerful than his use of black fires. Kanagreth found Abraham quite annoying.

The heroes considered a bargain with Kanagreth, especially since they shared a mutual hatred of Abraham. However, Kanagreth’s demand was too great: he desired the soul of the faithful Tobias as payment, a cost no one was willing to pay. The aboleth taunted Tobias, showing an all-too-real image of his brother Cor being strangled and drowned in the pools below. The heroes sprung into action.

Ooga transformed into a water elemental, diving into the water to retrieve the artifact within Kanagreth’s sanctum. Kaloy broke free from the aboleth’s psychic grasp. Saradoc attempted to free the remaining captive Gith. Skruk and Tobias directly challenged Kanagreth.

Ooga retrieved the artiifact and threw it to Tobias—a holy symbol of Lathander, taken from the fallen cleric. Injured from Kanagreth’s wrath, Tobias stood strong as divine inspiration from Lathander took hold. Tobias recited a powerful ritual, banishing the evil Kanagreth once and for all but sacrificing himself in the process.

When the ritual ended, the temple felt sanctified and safe. Kanagreth was gone, but so was Tobias. All that remained was the holy symbol. Kaloy picked it up and found the word “Wish” inscribed on its side. Trying to communicate with Tobias, she received a final goodbye: Tobias was now with Lathander.

With the symbol, she wished for everyone to be back home again.

Home again.

The Gypsy Dawn returned where it departed, floating beside the Cloudpeak Mountains. To the south, black smoke rose into the air in the direction of Amn. Cressin stretched and, smiling wickedly, whispered, “Finally free.” A moment later, he disappeared.

View
Session 20: Adrift (Part 2)

session-20-pic.jpg

A handy escape.

With the docks burning behind them and the fortress on full alert, the heroes attempt to escape aboard the Gypsy Dawn, still in the disguise of the Zhentarim black cloaks. Hoping to command the approaching Gith ship to stand down, the heroes issue a message through the same signaling system. The message is not well-received, and the Gith prepare to open fire.

Kaloy attempted to contact Lord Bailey through magical means, only to receive the message: “Sorry! Quite busy right now.” Tobias, meanwhile, moved to protect Ofelia, who was less receptive to his heroics than hoped. Thinking quickly, Ooga created a fog cloud to obscure sightlines between the Gypsy Dawn and the enemy ship. Meanwhile, Saradoc took Skruk and raced down into the ship to work with the crystal engines in the hopes of drawing more power from them.

The Gith ship missed its blasts as the Gypsy Dawn made its escape, and as it gave pursuit it could not keep up. The Gypsy Dawn floated through the Astral Sea with no destination. But at least they were safe.

The power of fairy tales.

Trying to figure out what to do next, the heroes spoke with both Cressin and Ofelia in the mess hall. Cressin mentioned a fairy tale that he’d heard once, a long while ago, about a mysterious place in the Astral Sea known as the Snaketongue Nebula.

As the story goes, those who are lost in the Astral Sea need only to find their way to the nebula. There, they will find something mysterious that will make their wishes come true. The exact details of the story were otherwise lost to Cressin, but it provided the only lead.

As Cressin described the nebula, Tobias drew a picture of it for reference. Both Saradoc and Tobias scanned the endless skies of the Astral Sea and together finally found the place of interest. The Gypsy Dawn set off in that direction, and the crew found ample time to rest during the journey. Kaloy learned snippets of the history behind Mason and Ofelia, and a little bit more as well …

Saradoc, meanwhile, tried to discern more about the physics of the Astral Sea. Tying himself into a makeshift harness, he jumped from the side of the ship to see whether the rules of gravity applied outside of the boat. He fell straight down.

Fascinating indeed.

The Snaketongue Nebula

An unfortunate greeting.

The heroes arrived at a strange structure at the Snaketongue Nebula, which seemed to solidify as they approached and fade as they moved. Trying to discern anything they possibly could from the structure, Saradoc attempted to walk on the structure, to see if its physics worked any differently. Rather than walking on its surface, he nearly fell downward but caught himself in time.

Meanwhile, Kaloy tried to detect the thoughts of anything inside. She heard a low, rumbling voice saying, “More …” and felt an insatiable hunger from within. Curious, she used her dissonant whispers to affect the entity and see what would happen. There followed a sudden roar and a hole immediately opened in the side. From the darkness, a strange creature appeared and attacked the heroes. It attached itself to Tobias, which proved to be problematic. Kaloy tried to read its mind as well, only to discover that it was not intelligent enough for thoughts—whatever entity she heard earlier was something different.

After dispatching of the creature, and seeing several more fly past, Skruk pointed out that there appeared to be a natural landing area for the airship. The Gypsy Dawn went inside. Cressin comments that everything feels … wrong …

The wreckage.

Saradoc scouted ahead of the party to see what was within the strange structure they found themselves in. He came across an enormous nursery of eggs, with frightening wormlike creatures scurrying about. Hugging to the walls and remaining as silent as possible, Saradoc trudged ahead and came through to another large chamber. Here, he found a mass of creatures swarming around what appeared to be a Gith airship.

Thinking it might be their way out, he messaged the rest of the heroes with his findings. Kaloy, Ooga, and Tobias argued over whether they should continue forward, with Tobias expressing grave unease at the entire situation. Kaloy pushed ahead as quietly as she could, only to alert the attention of the worms within the nursery. She ran, pursued by an angry swarm.

Before the worms could overtake them, Ooga used his magic to create a stone wall between them and left a hole small enough to polymorph Saradoc through. With the whole party reunited once again, the heroes discuss their next options …

View
Session 19: Adrift (Part 1)

session-19-pic.jpg

One does not simply walk into the Astral Sea.

After having deposited an heir in the apparent safety of Rhosius Vane’s care, the heroes decide their next order of business is rescuing Ofelia, still a hostage to the Githyanki knight Zalthair. There’s one small problem, though: they still need to find a way to follow Zalthair, wherever he went.

As they did when they last had to chase a Gith quarry, the heroes contacted Lord Bailey for help. Bailey, however, already knew they were coming and had an elaborate setup prepared … for dinner. After getting his head straight (and eating some chicken), the heroes were able to get Bailey to work his magic and send them to the Astral Sea in pursuit of Zalthair.

Mason was not particularly excited about this idea, but went along with it anyway. Of course, Bailey didn’t explicitly tell them how to come back home.

Points of light.

Old Man Cressin.

The Gypsy Dawn materialized in the Astral Sea, where it was immediately rocked by the turbulence of having to adjust to the physics of an entirely different plane of existence. When the ship finally settled, the heroes found no landmarks to guide their way—only strange points of light in the distance, some brighter than others.

Choosing what appeared to be the closest point, the Gypsy Dawn came upon a small island adrift in the Astral Sea with a tiny shack at its center. Coming off the ship to investigate, they were greeted by illusions of ghouls warning them to go away. Not falling for the particularly poor show of intimidation, the heroes pressed forward anyway and came upon an old, scraggly man with long, unkempt hair.

The man, Cressin, said he was a mage whose experiments in dimensional traveling went wrong a very, very long time ago. He does not remember where he originally came from, only that he’s been here for a long while. However, from his vantage point, he’s been able to observe the comings and goings of Gith ships. Recently, he saw a ship pass with a human captive aboard—most likely Ofelia.

Charitable as ever, the heroes offered Cressin to come aboard the Gypsy Dawn and escape the Astral Sea with them. He took up their offer quite happily.

In the wake of the Gith.

Cressin pointed the Gypsy Dawn in the direction the Gith had traveled, and the ship undertook a long journey to get there. With no other markers indicating direction and passage of time, the trip felt even longer.

Tobias and Cressin spoke of the strange beauty of the Astral Sea, but also its loneliness. Cressin confessed that he had been lonely for too long and missed human company. Tobias offered him food in the ship’s mess hall.

Saradoc and Laelyn talked about the beauty of the Astral Sea as well, belowdecks in Laelyn’s quarters. Laelyn asked Saradoc what the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen was. Saradoc did not lie, but he also didn’t tell the complete truth.

The Gith stronghold.

A long time coming.

The Gypsy Dawn approached a Gith stronghold in the Astral Sea. Several ships were docked, though more than half the slips were empty—apparently, most of the Gith fleet stationed here was elsewhere. A Gith ship greeted the Gypsy Dawn using a system of light signals to communicate. Saradoc, thinking quickly, used magic to understand the message and respond appropriately.

Docking safely at the fortress, the heroes once again disguised themselves as Zhentarim to gain entry with little suspicion. As they entered the courtyard, however, they heard the booming voice of Abraham: Ofelia had apparently escaped and the Gith were searching for her.

Successfully tricking some Gith guards with their disguises, the heroes entered the fortress and went down into the dungeons where they found Zalthair and a small cadre of other Gith. Zalthair challenged the heroes, demanding to know who they were and what they were doing there. Finding their answers unsatisfactory, he and his men attacked.

The battle was short but brutal. Tobias was knocked momentarily unconscious as the Gith put up an harrowing fight. Kaloy killed Zalthair with her dissonant whispers, and Ofelia revealed herself to help finish off the remaining Gith. As it turned out, Ofelia was a powerful mage with an affinity for the cold.

Escape

With Zalthair dead and Ofelia successfully rescued, the heroes escaped back to the Gypsy Dawn, setting fire to the docks as they left. The guard ship changed its patrolling course to come straight for them. The ship stalled however—Mason was surprised to find Ofelia again. His ex-wife.

As the heroes make their way away from the fortress with a Gith ship in pursuit, an unfortunate truth hits them: they have no idea how to get back home.

View
Session 18: The Enemy of the Enemy

session-18-pic.jpg

The Enemy of the Enemy

An interesting request.

A meeting with Grand Duke Sentorious Wilheim.

Having successfully defeated the red dragon in the Cloudpeak Mountains, the heroes return to Baldur’s Gate. Zalthair has gotten away, with the heir Ofelia still his captive. The heroes look to find the remaining heirs in the Baldur’s Gate region before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Varia has sent the heroes a request to treat with Grand Duke Sentorious Wilheim, as representatives of the Lords’ Alliance, to secure his military support in the effort against Abraham and his minions.

The heroes navigate past the crowd gathered for an audience with the Grand Duke and present evidence of their defeat of the red dragon. Wilheim, however, is far from impressed: their triumph is enough to gain his attention, but it’s not yet enough to secure his outright support, much less apparent respect.

When the heroes ask him for support for the Lords’ Alliance, Wilheim negotiates even more quid pro quo. While his military is currently involved in yet another border conflict with Amn, to the south, a major farmstead to the north is under attack. While they have enough food to support the troops that Wilheim seems appropriate, the farmstead would be able to provide even more food to allow a stronger military presence. If the heroes could take care of that, it would be great.

But Wilheim’s true request is much simpler, if not perhaps hopelessly impossible: he seeks Varia’s hand in marriage.

Crimes against Lathander.

The heroes attempt to find out more about the heir Thobar, still at large and still being sought by Abraham’s minions. Having discovered that Thobar was a cleric of Lathander, Tobias inquires at the temple. A dawnbringer informs him that Thobar is not a well-respected cleric: in fact, he is accused of selling drugs throughout the Baldur’s Gate area, operating as a dawnbringer to gain the trust of his clients.

He has recently been detained in Heller’s Steadfast, a small village south of Baldur’s Gate. He is being held there, awaiting the arrival of a tribunal of high-ranking dawnbringers to decide what to do with him.

The Flaming Fist.

The heroes also investigate the supposed military might of Baldur’s Gate, curious about why the Grand Duke seemed so casual about things. They learn about the Flaming Fist, a storied mercenary company that complements Baldur’s Gate’s own official army. They are so relied on that their most trusted men actually comprise the personal guard of Grand Duke Wilheim.

Heller’s Steadfast.

A new ally …?

Deciding that finding the next heir takes priority, the heroes travel aboard the Gypsy Dawn toward Heller’s Steadfast to find Thobar.

The village is small, hardly even noticeable from the sky. The heroes enter the town and go straight for the town hall to speak with its mayor. They are greeted instead by a senior guard, whom after some convincing, escorts them to the dungeon beneath the barracks.

Thobar appears messy and unkempt, with a long and dirty beard. He is incoherent and cowardly, asking the heroes if they’re helping him to get out while simultaneously offering them his drugs as a reward.

And then Rhosius Vane arrives.

Rhosius has the entire village under his influence. “All glory to the dark sun,” the guard greets happily as Rhosius approaches.

Rhosius offers the heroes a choice. He, too, has no love for Abraham or Bane. He says that he can take Thobar under his protection and therefore forge some strange alliance with the heroes in their efforts. Rhosius will keep Thobar safe, protected from Abraham, ensuring that he won’t be used as a sacrifice for the black fires.

The heroes agree to his terms, entirely despised by Thobar as a person. As Rhosius departs with his new charge, he tells the heroes that if they wish to see him again, they can come to the Crypt of the Six, far to the north near Loudwater.

As the heroes leave, the entire town gathers to watch them go. The townsfolk all speak in unison, chanting, “All glory to the dark sun.”

View
Session 17: A Dish Best Served Cold.

session-17-pic.jpg

To Baldur’s Gate.

The heroes routed the Zhentarim plot in Silverymoon, though not before significant damage was done. As Everlund arrived to help Iveress and Sir Dunfarres restore order to the city, the heroes embarked on their next adventure: to Baldur’s Gate, where stories of a familiar, monstrous dragon permeated.

Along the way, a raven landed on the Gypsy Sky with a message for the heroes. Open Lady Varia Mil’baer informed them that she was on her way to the Moonshae Isles, directly west of Baldur’s Gate, to treat with the royal family there. She asked the heroes, as representatives of the Lords’ Alliance, to secure the cooperation of Baldur’s Gate’s ruler, Grand Duke Sentorious Wilheim, in their defense against Abraham’s plot.

A well-deserved rest.

Chosen.

Arriving in Baldur’s Gate, a stranger bumped into Kaloy and dropped something into her hand: a message from Tyaene to meet at a specific inn that evening.

The heroes went about their separate ways to take in the sights and sounds of the bustling metropolis. Tobias and Kaloy went to the local church of Lathander, presently concluding their morning services. Tobias spoke with the Dawnbringer, wondering if there was anything he could help with. Instead, Lathander himself spoke through the Dawnbringer, inquiring of Tobias’s knowledge.

Lathander revealed that it was not only Faerun that found itself imperiled by Abraham’s power. Other realms had already succumbed to Abraham. Yet Abraham still could not break through into Faerun, the world he is originally from. Lathander emphasized Tobias’s mission—investigate the black fires and cleanse them.

Recreational activities.

Saradoc, meanwhile, went on a date with Laelyn, a few days after their previous attempt went poorly. Laelyn was warmer and friendlier with Saradoc, and by all measures the date actually turned out fine. She gave him a magically-infused glove she had come across previously.

Kaloy, Tobias, and Ooga meanwhile headed to the beach, to take in some much needed rest and recuperate from the stresses of their past several weeks.

A meeting of the minds.

The Harper safehouse.

That evening, the heroes went to the inn in the docks district of Baldur’s Gate. From the outside, it looked like a rowdy, noisy tavern. Entering inside, however, they found it was all just an image. The only people inside were Tyaene, Alania, and Lords Crom and Bailey.

Tyaene thanked Kaloy for the head’s up about the corrupted Harpers. As it stands, Alania and Tyaene are the only remaining active Harpers not under the influence of the Zhentarim. So Tyaene “acquired” information about Abraham’s plot from the other Harper in Baldur’s Gate before disposing of him.

Abraham, it turns out, is after three heirs in the Baldur’s Gate area. Zalthair, his Gith lieutenant, has been searching with his dragon, terrorizing the countryside as they moved town to town, trying to find these heirs. Word was they had already captured one, a young mage named Ofelia. Another heir had been confirmed as an itinerant cleric of Lathander named Thobar. The third remained unknown.

Zalthair and the dragon kept Ofelia somewhere in a lair in the Cloudpeak Mountains. The heroes decided their next action should be to kill the dragon. Alania and Lord Crom would continue their journey southward toward Candlekeep, for additional research on the black fires and Abraham. Lord Bailey would continue his research on the island Kaloy has been searching for near near the ruins of Mezro, a place that seems displaced from time and space.

An evil, evil book.

Finding a quiet moment, Saradoc visited Lord Bailey in his chambers in the safe house, a room that looked like it couldn’t possibly belong within the confines of the small building. Saradoc presented Bailey with the book he received from the devil.

Bailey did not like the book.

It was connected to the Daemonfey, Bailey said. House Dlardrageth performed evil, heinous experiments in the name of creating the Daemonfey, and Bailey wanted no part of whatever insanity was contained within.

A dish best served cold.

The Cloudpeak Mountains.

The heroes boarded the Gypsy Dawn and traveled to the Cloudpeak Mountains, where they spotted the dragon’s lair from afar. The cloaks of Zhentarim agents affixed to beams acted as scarecrows. The heroes dodged the magical traps and the Zhentarim patrols, making their way inside the dragon’s lair.

Within the mountain, they found an enormous cavern. Zalthair and the dragon appeared to be deep in conversation with Abraham through magical means, admonishing them for their lack of progress in finding the remaining heirs in the Baldur’s Gate area. Zalthair promised they were working with all due haste. Beyond them, the heroes found Ofelia, unconscious and in chains.

Springing a surprise attack, the heroes caused serious damage to the dragon. Zalthair, charmed by Kaloy, took Ofelia to a safer place, disappearing as the fight went on by shifting out of the plane.

The dragon put up a good fight, nearly killing Saradoc in a single blow. Outnumbered and overpowered, however, the dragon began to take flight. However, a precise arrow from Tyaene’s bow felled the giant beast.

Saradoc used a magic hand to retrieve a tooth from the dragon as proof of their victory.

View
Session 16: Everyone Has a Price (Part 3)

session-16-pic.jpg

Two roads diverge …

Spies like us.

With the Iveress’s grandfather’s journal secured, Saradoc and Ooga return to the palace to gather more intelligence while Kaloy and Tobias head south with the Gypsy Dawn to treat with Everlund.

Back in the palace, Saradoc, still disguised as Sulfrael, seeks out the Silver Marches representatives to see if he’s able to find out anything about the Zhentarim plot. Ooga hides within the bag of holding. With the palace still in chaos from Ooga’s daring escape with the journal, they come across King Helzhick of Citadel Adbar. The dwarf seems also curious about the strange events going on, and even seems to have interests that line up with the heroes’. Ooga cautions Saradoc not to say too much for the time being.

Saradoc returns to Sulfrael’s quarters. He is visited again by a black cloaked-Zhentarim agent, who questions him about why King Thuenor does not appear to be exhibiting signs of sickness. Saradoc challenges back, accusing him of not sending the proper ingredients. The Zhentarim agent relents and gives Saradoc his next assignment: he is to retrieve another parcel from the mail room and have it delivered to the Assembly Room before the meetings take place the next morning.

After retrieving the package, however, Saradoc’s curiosity gets the better of him. Taking it to a side room unnoticed, he opens the parcel and finds a small, square box inside containing a ring. Putting it on, he discovers that it was a trap all along. The ring was intended as a means of communication, and Saradoc receives a message: “Traitor."

Before anyone else can tell what’s gone amiss, Saradoc and Ooga exit the castle, knowing that the disguise of Sulfrael has been compromised.

A diplomatic mission.

Kaloy and Tobias head southward with Mason and his crew to intercept the Everlund ship, the Argent Mist, before it can reach Silverymoon. Iveress reveals what’s so important about the journal: it details why the Vulpaer family of Silverymoon and the Starlighter family of Everlund never merged: Iveress’s grandfather was gay, and could not bring himself to marry at the time. However, in the fallout of the families’ relations, he ended up marrying and fathering children anyway, all to keep up with appearances and to ensure that his line continued.

The Gypsy Dawn encounters the Argent Mist, and after an initially tense exchange, the men of the Argent Mist board the Gypsy Dawn to find out what this diplomatic mission was all about. Insisting that they needed to speak directly with the First Elder, her guardsman brings her on deck.

Perrah Starlighter, it becomes immediately obvious, has no patience for flowery words and ceremony and insists that whatever the Gypsy Dawn’s purpose is be made known immediately. So Kaloy escorts Perrah to Iveress and the two chat with one another for several hours. Tobias, meanwhile, ensures that everyone is taken care of hospitably.

Back for seconds.

A meeting with fate.

Even though his identity is compromised, Saradoc doesn’t want to end at running away so easily. He and Ooga return to the palace, this time going through the secret tunnel passage beneath a nearby tavern. Arriving within the cellars, they follow a trail of suspicious footprints toward the dungeons. Entering inside as stealthily as possible, they come across a meeting they did not expect.

A Zhentarim agent spoke with two mindflayers—the Brothers, in all likelihood—as well as a beautiful devil. They appear to be discussing a change in plans now that someone is onto their plot. The devil senses that Saradoc is nearby, and his cursed hand tingles. She communicates with him telepathically, taunting him, telling him that maybe she’ll give him a head start before telling everyone else that they’re there.

Saradoc takes the cue to get out as quickly as possible.

Friends at last.

In the earliest hours of the morning, Perrah and Iveress emerge from their private conversation. Perrah pledges her support to Iveress, saying that she’ll have Everlund bring up its military as quickly as possible—she just needs to convince the Council of her intentions first.

The Argent Mist turns and treks back to Overland while the Gypsy Dawn heads to Silverymoon. They’ve secured the support of Everlund, whose powerful military would be an excellent backup, but the Zhentarim plot is to hatch in a very short while.

Dealing with the devil.

The massacre at Silverymoon Palace.

Kaloy, Tobias, Saradoc, and Ooga reunite again in a tavern to share their information together and plan. Trying to secure more support against the Zhentarim, they consider engineering doubt amongst the Silverymoon populace, to say that the Palace has already been compromised by the black cloaks. Unfortunately, they hear a town crier passing by with the morning’s news—the official story is already that the Zhentarim have claimed responsibility for the attacks on the palace.

So they discuss more plans. Tobias suggests that perhaps they should just assassinate the fake Iveress. The group eventually decides to try to get to the bottom of what the Zhentarim are planning on doing, intending to capture Iveress’s Chief of Staff, Arthrial.

Kaloy once again takes on the image of Sir Alyxe of Waterdeep, with Saradoc as a halfling page and Tobias as a Knight in Silver. Ooga hides within the bag of holding.

They enter the palace once again and find that the meetings for the Silver Marches Summit are already underway. They wait in the wings, watching Arthrial’s actions, waiting for him to leave Iveress’s side. When he finally does, Sir Alyxe catches up to him and he leads them to a library of legal documents.

Within, he says that in his infatuation with her, he did some research on Sir Alyxe, only to discover that there is no knight in Waterdeep by that name. Arthrial draws his weapon, revealing his allegiance to the Zhentarim. Kaloy charms him, telling him that he’s to reveal himself to the assembly and to everyone else he possibly can.

Making their way back to the Assembly Room, however, they encounter Sir Dunfarres. Disoriented and confused, he tells them that they need to help—everyone’s getting slaughtered.

When they arrive back at the Assembly Room, they find that the Knights in Silver are massacring the representatives and their delegations. Several are already dead, and the room is swimming in blood. Above them all, the devil that Saradoc and Ooga found the previous night is issuing commands.

Saradoc casts a shroud of magical darkness and launches forward to kill the fake Iveress. The devil retaliates, launching poisoned arrows at Ooga, Kaloy, and Tobias. She then offers an olive branch: she can make this whole thing stop, if Saradoc could just stab the escaping King Helzhick in the back.

Thinking quickly, Saradoc agrees and brings Kaloy to fake the king’s death. Catching up with him, alone in the hallways outside, they tell him what they intend to do—fake his death so they can save everyone else. They don’t know what the devil intends to do, if anything, with his corpse, but they can at least end the massacre. King Helzhick reluctantly agrees, and Saradoc and Kaloy “kill” him.

Bringing the corpse back to the Assembly Room, the devil is pleased with what happened. She gives Saradoc a strange book as a parting gift, then exits the premises, leaving the heroes to do whatever they wished to do next.

Saradoc orders the Adbar delegation to take the king’s body and hide somewhere that the devil won’t find them. Sir Dunfarres announces that the Knights in Silver who participated in the attack will be dealt with at a later time. For now, they needed to get the wounded treated and restore order to the Palace. Arthrial, revealed as a Zhentarim agent, is captured.

View
Session 15: Everyone Has a Price (Part 2)

session-15-pic.jpg

Interludes.

The voices in his head.

After subduing the Spellguard, the heroes preparetheir next steps. Stepping away from the mage rather than murdering him, however, Saradoc hears a voice in his head, asking him why he isn’t taking the man’s life. The voice seems to be a lot more active lately …

A funny thing happened on the way to the reception.

Sir Dunfarres’s package.

The heroes let Tym go so that he can report back to Lady Iveress. Hoping to keep their presence a secret, they tell him to feed Iveress a simple lie—just that they found what they were looking for.

Meanwhile, they head to the mail room to find the parcel Sir Dunfarres had been waiting for. The word “midnight” is written along the side, in the same familiar handwriting as the coded messages Vasandra received.

Inspecting the parcel in a forgot storage room, they found the components for a powerful poison within. They decide to complete its delivery to see who’s supposed to take it. Sir Dunfarres leads them to the kitchen and places the parcel in a cabinet out of the way. However, with Ooga wildshaped as a direwolf, they attract the attention of a chef. She attacks the wolf and calls the guards against it.

Ooga runs while Saradoc remains behind in the kitchen, hiding in a cabinet to keep an eye on the parcel. Ooga runs to the storage room, Knights in Silver hot on his tail. To evade them, he returns to his half-orc shape and melds with the stone of the palace. The Knights fail to find him as Tobias and Kaloy, still in her guise as Sir Francois, finally catch up.

Sulfrael.

Left behind in the kitchen, Saradoc spies a halfling steward retrieving the parcel. He follows him to the servants quarters and into his private room, where the halfling begins concocting the poison.

Away from everyone else, Saradoc assaults the steward and subdues him. After a brief round of questioning, the halfling, Sulfrael, tells Saradoc nothing except his loyalty to the Zhentarim. Saradoc considers keeping Sulfrael subdued, but another bloodthirsty voice enters his head, telling him it would be so easy to just slit the defenseless halfling’s throat. Saradoc begrudgingly complies, hides the body, and takes his clothes to impersonate him. He destroys the poison, ensuring that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Fairy tales.

Exhausted from all of their efforts, the heroes split up to get some much needed rest. Tobias and Kaloy retreat from the castle, back to the Gypsy Dawn while Saradoc, Ooga, and Sir Dunfarres remain.

Kaloy speaks with Lady Iveress, concerned that her ploy to charm the apparent fake Iveress failed. Iveress tells her a secret she’s told no one else, about how much she loved the stories of a knight named Sir Tascha, who hid her identity and fought as a man, becoming a hero in the process. Kaloy polymorphs, taking the guise of an androgynous warrior named Sir Alyxe. Iveress seems pleased.

A visit from the Zhentarim.

Saradoc and Ooga, meanwhile, rest in Sulfrael’s room. While Ooga tucks away in a corner and dozes quietly, Saradoc investigates Sulfrael’s things to see what he can find. His correspondences seem to be highly concerned with the comfort and accommodations of King Thuenor of Mithrall Hall and his retinue.

Soon enough, there’s a knock at the door. Saradoc answers and creates a minor illusion of the poison being prepared on the table. An anonymous figure in the black cloak of the Zhentarim asks if Saradoc remembers his next instructions. Truthfully answering that he doesn’t, the Zhentarim agent is displeased by continues: the poison is to be split into thirds, to give to King Thuenor in small doses. The dwarf is to be forced out of the Silver Marches Summit through sickness on the third day, but he is not to be killed.

The Zhentarim agent then leaves and disappears down the hall.

The Welcoming Reception.

Life of the party.

The heroes reconvene in the reception hall as the representatives of all the Silver Marches nation-states convene for the summit. Saradoc fills the heroes in on the situation.

Saradoc continues to provide King Thuenor with ale, hoping that he’s able to convince whatever Zhentarim agents are watching him that he’s performing his function as required. Ooga hovers nearby, wildshaped as a quasit. When Thuenor steps away from the table to relieve himself, Saradoc follows and tries to tell him that it’s imperative that he attends the entirety of the summit, especially the third day. Thuenor seems confused (and drunk), so Saradoc also informs his majordomo as well. He seems to take the information a little more seriously.

Tobias surveys the reception. Sir Dunfarres approaches him and informs him of some disturbing rumors he’s heard around the palace. Namely, that an Illithid mindflayer had been spotted in the lower reaches of the palace. Whether these are baseless rumors or true remains to be concerned … but the heroes are aware that the Brothers are mindflayers.

Kaloy, in the guise of Sir Alyxe, attempts to get closer to the fake Lady Iveress. As she sidles up to the dais to speak with her, she’s instead greeted by Arthrial, Iveress’s chief of staff. While he seems charmed by Sir Alyxe’s presence, Iveress again seems entirely disinterested.

As Lady Iveress stands to address the reception, Saradoc and Ooga sneak out to find out where the journal is.

Autodefenestration.

Approaching Lady Iveress’s room, Saradoc, still disguised as Sulfrael, is greeted by two Knights in Silver and a Spellguard … Tym. Tym seems distant, distracted, and does not recognize Saradoc at all. The knights do not allow him passage through.

Ooga, still a quasit, scouts ahead through the window. He spies two Zhentarim agents on the other side of the door, guarding the journal they’re looking for.

Ooga and Saradoc decide to use magic to try to steal the journal. Saradoc climbs along the ledge outside and gets into position. Flying in through a crack in the window, Ooga stealthily grabs the book from the table while Saradoc places an illusion to fake that it’s still there. However, the journal is heavier than expected. The book accidentally hits the ground with a soft thud, enough to alert the Zhentarim guarding it. They cast magic to see invisibility and catch Ooga in the act.

Ooga hides under Iveress’s bed in an attempt to evade the Zhentarim. Saradoc uses more magic to knock some candles over, starting a fire in the bedroom. One of the Zhentarim leaps over the fire to try to attack Ooga while the other alerts the knights on the other side of the door. Rather than facing them all head on, Ooga transforms back into his original half-orc form, pushes past the Zhentarim, and jumped out the window, plummeting over 40 feet to the ground. As he falls, Saradoc catches the journal with his own magic and retreats back inside the palace. Ooga transforms into an eagle and flies away.

A powerful, fiendish threat.

The alarm is raised—the palace is under attack. Sir Dunfarres leads Tobias toward the action, to maintain their own appearances with the knights.

They look out onto Lady Iveress’s room from a window, enveloped in flames, smoke billowing into the night sky. Tobias uses his divine senses to see if anything is amiss. He notices something very, very dangerous.

A fiendish presence so strong has left the residue of its evil somewhere within the palace.

The heroes make their exit from the palace, the Iveress’s grandfather’s journal now in hand. The Silver Marches Summit has only just begun …

View
Session 14: Everyone Has a Price (Part 1)

session-14-pic.jpg

Interludes.

After finding Sir Dunfarres waiting for them at the Gypsy Dawn, the heroes splintered with arguments, especially in the fallout of Sir Lyle’s sacrifice. Meanwhile, Saradoc turned to his skeletal hand and asked whatever entity was listening for … anything.

He received a response.

“Wait.”

A strategy is born.

Subverting the Zhentarim plan.

Despite their differences, the heroes came back together to figure out how they would strike back at the Zhentarim. They knew the Zhentarim were planning on presenting First Elder Starlighter of Everlund with a first edition copy of the history of the Silver Marches, a book which highlighted the friendship between Silverymoon and Everlund in earlier days. Iveress detailed that her grandfather was supposed to have married into the family of nobility in Everlund long ago, but called the engagement off. The two nations had been at odds ever since.

Iveress suggested that, if the Zhentarim were trying to present a token of friendship, perhaps the heroes could give something of even greater value—her grandfather’s journal, which was kept in the Royal Library of the Silverymoon Palace.

The heroes also still needed to stop whatever Zhentarim plot was unfolding in the palace during the Silver Marches Summit. Sir Dunfarres mentioned he was tasked with transporting a small parcel from the mail room to the kitchen before preparations for the welcoming reception were to begin. He did not yet have the item in his possession and had no idea what it would be used for. However, it was supposed to be passed off to Sulfrael, a steward in the palace.

They discussed several options for entry, but Sir Dunfarres said the palace was even harder to infiltrate now in the wake of the fight earlier that morning, which claimed Sir Lyle’s life. Sir Dunfarres revealed a secret entrance that led to the cellar, connected to a nearby pub that a previous princeling of Silverymoon used to frequent. However, patrols were even heavier and it would be hard to operate without drawing attention.

So Kaloy suggested a more obvious route: going in through the front gate. Kaloy and Saradoc would pose as dignitaries from Waterdeep, under the direction of Open Lady Varia and a writ of passage from the true High Lady of Silverymoon herself. Tobias would wear Sir Dunfarres’ armor and pretend to be a Knight in Silver. Ooga would pose as a cat through his druidic magic. Sir Dunfarres would come in after them, to avoid rousing any suspicion.

What could possibly go wrong?

Silverymoon Palace.

Passing Sir Crey.

The first major obstacle they encountered was Sir Crey at the front gate. Now that the palace had, allegedly, been attacked, Sir Crey stood with a stronger retinue of knights and was more discerning of who came in and out. He stopped the heroes before they could get too close to the gate and came to meet them.

Kaloy, who used magic to change to pose as Sir Francois, attempted to use dazzling language and superfluous gestures to convince Sir Crey to let them in. He inspected the writ Iveress gave them, suspicious of the party because they weren’t on the list of invitees to the summit. He was especially suspicious of Tobias, who did not lift the visor from his helm as he impersonated a Knight in Silver.

Eventually, Sir Crey allowed them to pass, keeping a watchful eye on them as they entered the palace.

The Royal Library.

Like Sir Dunfarres said, the palace was crawling with Knights and Spellguard. They had indeed bumped up security in the wake of Tobias and Lyle’s encroachment. The heroes needed to be very, very careful not to reveal themselves.

They went to the Royal Library and found Lady Iveress already inside. The fake Lady Iveress, that was, accompanied by a guard of four Knights and a single Spellguard. And she already had Iveress’s grandfather’s journal in hand.

Ooga tried to distract Fake Iveress and the Knights but to no avail. Kaloy also tried to get Fake Iveress to hand her over the journal, through more charming means, but also failed to secure the book. Sir Dunfarres arrived and tried to diffuse the escalating situation by having the heroes accompany him elsewhere, but they stayed on task with trying to get the journal.

Eventually, Iveress told her Spellguard companion to show them the archives, where a book more suited to their interests might be found. Iveress and the other Knights then left the library … with the journal still in hand.

The unwilling agent.

In the archives, a back room in the Royal Library, the heroes and their Spellguard minder went deeper inside until they were sure they couldn’t be heard. Intending to extract information from the Spellguard, they attacked him. He turned invisible and tried to run, but they caught up to him anyway and beat him into submission.

Tying him up, they interrogated him for whatever he knew. They discovered that he had, indeed, been compromised by the Zhentarim, but he didn’t know that the Iveress he was protecting was a shapeshifter. He refused to give anymore information. Shakily, the Spellguard committed his allegiance to the Zhentarim, and Kaloy and Saradoc intended to execute him. Dunfarres washed his hands of the mess. As Saradoc moved to stab the Spellguard, however, Tobias shoved his shield between them—there had to be a better way.

Talking further with the Spellguard, they found out that he was under duress with the Zhentarim. He was following their orders because were threatening to kill his mother if he failed to comply. All he had to do was keep the fake Iveress safe.

View
Session 13: Sir Lyle's Last Stand

session-13-pic.jpg

Out of the woods.

The heroes convene with their new allies, Alania, Lord Crom, Sir Lyle, and High Lady Iveress in their hiding place in the Evermoors. Alania believes their position now compromised, and staying put is no longer an option.

Alania reveals that the Zhentarim had infiltrated the Harpers entirely, and that she trusts no one else in the organization. She tells the heroes that she, her companions, and the Harpers had been responsible for putting Abraham away a long while ago, that they thought they had done their work properly.

Unfortunately, Abraham has somehow returned. The man responsible for keeping Abraham trapped, a cleric named Winter, has gone missing.

The recent Zhentarim activity could be linked to the upcoming Silver Marches Summit, taking place over the next few days. But whatever their motives and goals were, Alania didn’t know.

Alania and Lord Crom decide to embark on a journey eastward, toward the last place Alania knew Winter to be. The heroes, on the other hand, decided to take back Silverymoon and put an end to whatever plot the Zhentarim have.

Into Silverymoon.

The library.

The party split up. Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga went to the library to investigate what they could of the Zhentarim and Vasandra. Tobias and Sir Lyle went to the palace to get in contact with Sir Lyle’s childhood friends, who might be able to help in the fight against the Zhentarim. High Lady Iveress remained on the Gypsy Dawn under the protection of Mason and his crew.

Arriving early in the morning before the library opened, Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga sneaked in through a backdoor and proceeded to Vasandra’s office on the top floor. Inside, searching for clues, they found nothing of particularly magical importance. However, they noticed several letters addressed from an entity named “Gray” who sent what appeared to be a coded message—something happening at the docks.

After they discovered the message’s meaning, Vasandra entered the library. The heroes decided to make a quiet exit rather than face her head on, leaping deftly from a window.

Sir Lyle’s Last Stand.

Tobias and Sir Lyle arrived at the palace in search of Lyle’s friends and prospective allies, Sir Dunfarres and Sir Crey. Finding Crey at the front gate on duty that morning, Tobias told him that Lyle was alive and knew that something sinister was going down at the palace. Crey told Tobias to meet him at the side entrance, alone, where they could discuss what Tobias knew and figure out where to proceed from there, especially since Sir Lyle had been implicated in a conspiracy against the High Lady.

When Tobias met Crey next, the knight brought him onto the palace grounds and into what he said was the garrison. However, it turned out to be the dungeons instead, where a small group of other Knights in Silver and a mage of the Spellguard were waiting.

A trap.

Rather than fight them head on, Tobias, made a desperate escape. When he got back out into the garden, Sir Lyle was waiting for him. Sir Lyle told Tobias to run while he remained behind to fight—someone had to restore order to Silverymoon, and Lyle was willing to lay his life down for the cause.

As Tobias made his escape, he heard a large explosion from behind as Sir Lyle was decimated by the Spellguard’s magic.

Fracturing.

Tobias fled into the city, hoping to throw off the trail of any Zhentarim in pursuit. Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga heard the explosion of the Spellguard’s massive fireball. Ooga transformed into an eagle to investigate.

Flying over the city, he found Tobias on the streets. Intending to help him find the others, Ooga swooped down to intercept. Signals were mixed, and Tobias thought the eagle was attacking rather than helping. After a charged scuffle, Tobias succeeded in beating Ooga off just as Kaloy and Saradoc arrived.

Extremely upset, Tobias said he intended to go to the temple before rejoining the others. At the temple, he found the Dawnbringer who Lathander spoke to. He warned her that dark times were coming.

Anger management.

Vasandra.

Together again, the heroes decided to challenge Vasandra and extract as much information as they could. Finding her in the library, just before opening time, they overpowered her in a fight and took her hostage.

Kaloy interrogated her through the usual means. Vasandra only knew a little more than the heroes had already found out. The Zhentarim had tasked her with giving a first edition history book to First Elder Starlighter of Everlund when she arrived at the docks, but that was it. The book was not even charged by any magic.

The messages between the Zhentarim were more coded, more obscure than before. They’d clearly taken measures to increase their secrecy since the heroes disrupted their plot in Waterdeep.

Finding no more use for her, the heroes killed Vasandra and left the library.

A new ally.

A dish best served cold.

With little clues to work on, the heroes returned to the Gypsy Dawn unsure of what to do next. They arrived to find a Knight in Silver aboard, held by Mason and Skruk, saying he was looking for Tobias.

His name was Sir Dunfarres. He was compromised by the Zhentarim. And he wanted revenge for what they did to Sir Lyle.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.