By Hook or by?

Foray into enemy territory

Upon completion of the spell to transport the party to their patrons property, the party witnessed a battle raging in the sky far off in the distance. The party also realized the ledge they were standing on emptied out into nothing but more sky, and the only direction for those who could not fly was a great set of door leading into a cliff side.

After the initial shock of their location, they noticed two men walking towards them; a white haired man in blue and silver silk robes with the mon of the Crane Clan with three swords and a masked black robed man wearing the mon of the Scorpion Clan with a single blade. The gave low bows to their lord and attempted to fill him in on the situation.  Upon hearing their words, the lord instructed Toebo the halfling that he was to join him in the sky battle and then proceeded to grow to double his size and drew a mighty greatsword and flew to battle. Toebo drew a whistle from his waist, blew it, and than ran to the edge of the ledge and flung himself off while securing his hunt mask and making warcries only to rise on the back of a large winged dinosaur. 

Cal then instructed the party that their task was to clear the interior of the skyrealm of the slavers and rescue the retainers of their patron. They were also informed that they would know the retainers by their runes, which couldn't be hidden. That behind the doors led to the underground "ledge" and from there they were to clear the underground and the observatory that leads to the surface. If they continued underground they would eventually reach the fort that hangs on the edge of the skyrealm. 

The party attempted to clarify their instructions and strike up a conversation with the two new men, who rebuffed them. While this was happening, a large daemon/oni landed on the ledge and was struck down in a single strike by the Crane Samurai, who seemed to move so fast that only the trained swordsman in the group noticed his blade had even left it's scabbard. 

Cal once again tried to get the party moving, which led to another discussion and a second daemon/oni landed only to be dispatched by a single strike to the throat from behind by the Scorpion Shinobi. This got the party moving.

After opening the door to the underground the party found themselves in some sort of stables with defenses set in the ceiling consisting of arrow slits and murder holes. Lhoris summoned dancing lights so the party could see better and after a quick scan of their surroundings the party found an open door and a closed door. Giles chose to open the closed door and found a set of stairs leading up into the darkness. Beda cast light on an arrow and fired it through the opened door where it traveled down a long hallway. Giles climbed the stairs and after a quick scan of the room at the top of the stairs noticed relatively fresh blood, but no bodies. Declaring the room clear he headed back down the stairs to find the party strung out in a line leading down the hallway, with Kozek in the lead. Taking the lead again, Giles lead the party down the hallway, chosing to turn at the first turn and head up a half flight of stairs to a doorway on the right while the hall continued around a corner to a seemingly dead end. Kozek attempted to unlock the door (and failed) in the hallway while Giles stood guard looking down the dead end hallway. After his first attempt to unlock the door but before he had a chance to continue, Kozek heard a click…thinking it was the door in front of him, he dropped his tools and quick drew his blades, remaining in a low crouch, ready for danger.

But it was not the door, but a secret panel at the end of the dead end; from which sprung two half-orc monks. One Monk charged Giles and landed a solid blow which in thanks to Celfyx's life link hex the wound was transferred to her instead of Giles taking the damage. The second monk moved swiftly down the hall behind the first and started to run up the wall behind the first monk. The rest of the party closed ranks as best they could in the cramped hallway, readying actions to attack if anyone came around the corner. Giles lashed out at the first monk, missing but only because his sword seemed to glance off something surrounding the monk. The monk rained a flurry of blows down upon Giles in retaliation, which were also absorbed by Celfyx causing the monk to stare in bewilderment at Giles unhurt condition. The second monk continued to race up the wall, over the first monk, over Giles, around the corner where Beda's arrow narrowly missed them, but making an opening for Giles to take an attack of opportunity and slice a piece of flesh from the monk. They continued over the crouching Kozek whose blades were out of reach of their flesh and over the small Celfyx, who pricked the monk with her small spear, to successfully land a critical elbow drop using the full weight of their body into the surprised face of Beda. So mighty was the blow, Celfyx was forced to drop the life link connecting her to Beda, lest she be felled by the blow. 

 Once the party recovered from the shock of a spider climbing monk, they rallied. Kozek, stood and deftly maneuvered himself acrobatically behind the first monk setting up a flank with Giles. Forced into melee, Beda dropped her bow and drew her scimitar and now in a flank with Celfyx proceeded to show everyone why she was an archer and not a swords master, missing blow after blow aimed at the monk in front of her. Lhoris, in the back, wisely chose not to throw spells into the melee, knowing that he had as much chance of hitting companion as foe kept watch to make sure the skirmish didn't draw more combatants from deeper in the facility. 

Giles and Kozek in surrounding the first monk, were dealt many wounds from the rapid strikes of the fists and feet of the monk. But in the end Kozeks mastery of hes knives and deadly strikes to vulnerable organs felled the monk after several deadly exchanges.

Celfyx and Beda were having a much worse time with their foe. Being lighter armored and without a shield, Beda was repeatedly hammered by the many lethal strikes of the second monk. Celfyx's small spear struck twice more, but with her small stature and arms untrained for this work, did little damage. Lhoris, switching tactics attempted to aid Beda in her attacks, but ended up fanning her with the end of his staff instead. Celfyx was forced to step back and channel the power of the spirits to heal her companions to keep them from failing to the relentless attacks of the monks.  which left an opening for Giles to castle into and keep the flank active. Finally the second monk was brought down in a group effort and quickly secured with rope. Kozek left to himself, stirpped the first monk naked, bringing the items to Lhoris discovered that the magic used to communicate amongst each other had faded. 

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First Introductions

The characters all met with different strangers, in gold and black, offering them to meet an unnamed noble who was looking to recruit them for a job.  After they all agreed to meet this mysterious unnamed noble they were each given about 200gp to purchase appropriate wardrobe.  

At the agreed upon time, a carriage arrived and after embarking, each character was brought to a mansion with peculiar architecture. Upon being greeted by a footman in the same gold and black livery, they were ushered into a posh waiting room where they meet each other for the first time. Introductions were thwarted by the inability to communicate, even in common tongues. The footman reappeared after all were present and offered a drink to facilitate communication. Upon imbibing  the group found it easier to comprehend each other and introductions were made.

Shortly after the group met up with 3 of the 5 strangers that had offered them jobs at the dinner table. A hafling from the Talenta Plains, a human River rat from Brevoy and a Bejeweled woman from Faerûn.  A footman announced the lords entry and  in swept a tall ebony skinned bald androgynous humanoid wearing the clothing and regalia of a royal. After a tasting menu of dishes that were takes on dishes associated with the characters home worlds, the dinner party moved back to the smoking room and offered drinks some which were unique to home for some of the characters. 

At this time the negotiations for employment began. A 'trail run' or 'test' was offered the group; the reclaiming of a property that the lord held in trust for some other individual.  Slavers had apparently infiltrated the property  and the group was to rescue the employees of the lord and drive the slavers off. 

After agreeing to do this task, with the understanding if they passed this test they would be contracted for 12 other jobs. The associates of the lord offered signet rings with the lords mark upon them and asked for them to swear service to the lord. (none of the players have caught or puzzled the lords name out yet)

All agreed to swear service and placed the rings on their fingers. Immediately the characters experienced a great discomfort (in some cases extreme pain). Each was 'marked' with a brand of the rune seemingly burned or tattooed onto them. Each also felt a small flare of power and were granted a new trait that they qualified for.  

After giving them time to inspect the rune burned into their flesh, they were given two hours to return home, gather their equipment and return to the manor where transportation to the test would be provided. 

Upon returning they were brought to a great room, where the lord was preparing some sort of transportation spell that involved a number of spell components and a magic circle that had been permanently scored into the stone floor of a specially prepared room. The river rat informed the party that the comprehension magic would soon fail, and the party needed to be prepared to work together without it. As the lord neared completion of the spell, what the party thought were elaborate robes reveled themselves to be two pairs of feathery wings wrapped around the lords body….

There ends the first introductions….

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