Episode 6: A Gift Among the Green
After a month long trek into the wilds of Tal’Dorei, our adventurers have finally reached the ruins of Qoniira. At the WIldmother’s urging, the group press deeper into the ruins, travelling another four days before descending into a valley and coming upon a shocking sight in the jungle mist. Expecting to find a thousand year old deserted city, the party instead see what appears to be a very much alive and thriving civilization. Fy’ra Rai, who has been their guide through the ruins, smiles in recognition and welcomes her friends to the city of Niirdal-Poc.
Dariax, who as usual hasn’t been paying much attention, misses the fact that the city is very much alive and waiting to be explored and instead decides to enjoy splashing in the lazy river nearby. As exciting as this lost wonder of civilization may be, the rest of the group decide a little skinny dipping before continuing on couldn’t hurt anybody.
Once everyone’s had their fill of swimming fun, Fy’ra finally leads the party to the city gates. The guards recognize Fy’ra from before and let her and her party into the city. The city is a beautiful mix of ancient and modern. Old, sprawling architecture houses a city of 15 thousand strong. Races of all kinds live here. Just glancing around, the party notice humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, genasi, goblins and hob goblins, kenku, tabaxi and loxodon all milling together. The party are obviously outsiders but readily welcomed by the city folk. Fy’ra has someone she wants her friends to meet.
Fy’ra leads the party through a winding path into the city, stopping at the door of an earth genasi named Elam. Elam is thrilled to see Fy’ra again and pleased to have the rest of the party in her home as well. They share a meal while Fy’ra catches Elam up on all that has happened to the party in the last two months. The party in turn learn that the city has remained hidden away from the rest of the world by the magical, swirling jungle mist they noticed around the city. Only a few chosen souls are allowed to enter the city and it appears Fy’ra and her friends are the chosen ones.
Elam helps the party translate the rune from the fire plane. It’s an old form of celestial, older than the language of the gods, which may be why even Gilmore couldn’t read this rune. Elam says the rune loosely translates to “a burning place” or “a burning, flowing energy.” The party try and explain where on Tal’Dorei the rune came from, but Elam is unfamiliar with the modern names and places. She still calls their continent Gwessar, not Tal’Dorei. Perhaps one of the city’s five Tetrarchs can give them more insight.
After dinner and information have been shared, the friends decide to play a drinking game of sorts. It’s time to finally spill some secrets about themselves. Dorian reveals his true name is Bronte, or Bron for short, but would still like to go by Dorian since he’s left his old life behind. Fy’ra Rai told a story about her twin Fy’ra Kai and a climbing accident that ended in a broken arm and a lie Fy’ra Rai told to protect her sister. Orym reveals he has no last name after refusing to take his absentee father’s name. Also, he checked out Dariax’s butt while swimming earlier and liked it. Fearne hasn’t seen her parents in 50 years. Dariax never dated Tharla Starr, she doesn’t even know who he is, he just saw one of her shows once and admired her. Opal reveals Ted’s name is actually Theodora and hers was originally Georgina but she changed it to Opal after her mother left them.
With secrets shared and food finished, Elam suggests Fy’ra take the party to the Tetrarchs to finish information gathering. Elam explains that Qoniira was once five separate cities with Niirdal-Poc in the center and four other cities in each of the cardinal directions. Each city had a leader and together they form the Tetrarchy. One of the Tetrarchs has traveled south on a quest, but the others should be available to meet with the party.
Fy’ra leads the party to a building with a beautiful statue of a tabaxi humanoid. A ringed halo of light above her and wings framing her back. Fy’ra calls her the Observer. Dariax suddenly feels lightheaded and his vision blurs. A new voice begins speaking in his mind. He looks up at the statue and is surprised to see it looking back at him now. The Observer tells Dariax she is pleased to finally meet him and show him how to better use his Gift. Dariax is confused, but his sorcerer’s pendant glows with a familiar light. The Observer says her chosen will help explain more soon. The vision fades and Dariax returns to himself, hearing Fy’ra ask if he’s ok. Fy’ra is amazed to hear that Dariax is also one of the Observer’s chosen.
The party continue on, passing through a town square with two large statues of three-headed panthers. Fy’ra steps up to an elephant-like loxodon with runes of the two moons painted on their face. She bows before this individual, Tetrarch Thrascuur, and introduces her friends. Thrascuur’s eyes glance over the party one by one. Dariax and Opal realize that Thrascuur’s eyes are filled with star-like galaxies like motes of infinite possibility. The party shares the rune with Thrascuur and listens as they explain that this rune signifies a place that is brimming with magic and potential. It is neither good nor evil, just ripe with power. Thrascuur asks the party what they will do with this powerful place. No one really knows yet They are just hopeful they can use the potential for something good and not let it fall into the wrong hands.
Thrascuur shows the party a new rune, one that means “the shape of a thing”. They demonstrate how this rune can be used to influence the world around them and how it can be used on the rune back home. They hope this rune will help them in their journey but warns, the group must know what their intentions are on their own. No one can tell them how to think, feel, or manipulate. Fy’ra Rai becomes emotional and Thrascuur asks her why. She says she wishes she could see her sister again and be with her once more. Thrascurr grabs Fy’ra’s arm and shows her a vision of her sister. Alive, searching, calling out for her twin. Fy’ra is overwhelmed by the vision and immediately torn between her current quest and reuniting with her sister she thought was dead.
Thrascuur tells Fy’ra she has done well leading the party here. Her friends are capable on their own, but there is one more task she must complete before she leaves this party. They warn Fy’ra that someone watches Opal. An elf from Synghorn, Myr’atta Niselor, a woman in purple. She has insidious intentions for Opal. Thrascuur draws a rune onto Opal, preventing scrying for now. The group must protect each other now. Before the party leaves, Thrascuur turns to Orym and gives him a strange looking seed, tasking him to help it grow. They said the seed came to them on the wind and they knew it was meant for Orym to take home.
As the party walk slowly back out of the town center, they discuss what comes next. Back to Emon? They have their answers and the rune that will help. Opal feels a pinch on her neck. Her vision begins to blur and she reaches up, feeling a dart sticking out between her fingers. The party look around for where the dart might have come from while running for cover. Fearne tries to carry Opal to safety but an invisible force knocks her down and begins to carry Opal away. Fy’ra lands a hit with her staff on the invisible kidnapper before everyone begins to give chase. Fearne beast-shapes into a large direwolf and tracks Opal’s scent through the town. Fy’ra rides on Fearne-wolf’s back while the rest of the party try to follow on foot.
Up ahead, the kidnapper casts a spell to make both himself and Opal invisible, hoping to lose the party’s tail. He picks Opal up again and begins stealthily moving out of the city. Luckily, Fearne’s heightened senses pick up on Opal scent and she’s able to track them easily. The party on foot watch as a powerful spell is cast on the nearby three-headed panther statues. The statues begin to come to life and attack Dorian, Orym and Dariax. Orym tracks down this new spell casting antagonist and lands a sword attack on them. He quickly has to turn back for his companions when he sees Dorian nearly fall under a brutal attack from the animated statues. Dariax has disguised himself as Opal to try and confuse the kidnappers and rushes into the fight to heal Dorian.
Opal, fighting unconsciousness, feels Ted urging her to use magic to escape. Opal casts Misty Step to appear on the back of direwolf Fearne. The trio continue to give chase, wanting answers on who was trying to take Opal and why. Fearne catches the kidnapper in her jaws, but in her direwolf form she is too feral to stop herself from dealing a killing blow to the man. Opal, blind with rage and adrenaline stabs and slashes the body, while wolf Fearne brutally beheads the man and carrying the bloody noggin back towards her other companions.
Dorian, Dariax, Orym and Fy’ra make quick, dirty work of the animated statues. The fight is intense, but the team is efficient and manage to keep themselves conscious long enough to finish the statues off. Dorian picks up on the trail of the spellcaster they’re hunting. He and Orym give chase, but are too slow. The figure in purple, Myr’atta, turns and yells to Opal “I will take away everything you hold dear. You don’t deserve it!” She casts dimension door and escapes into the night.
Orym rushes to Opal, who is still holding the bloody head and shaking in nerves and anger. He slowly brings her back to reality and she panics realizing how gory and frightening she is. Opal feels Ted slip into unconsciousness cutting her off from her magic. The party circle up, lick their wounds and talk about what comes next. Opal wants answers, maybe they can find them on the road back to Emon. Fy’ra Rai feels a different call. She must leave the party for now and reunite with her sister. She is sorry to leave the party like this, but knows that she will be called back to them if they are truly in danger. She says the group should call themselves The Chosen Ones because the gods obviously favor them. She also pleads with Dorian to check himself, stay in the light and don’t do anything to harm himself. He’s not alone anymore. Dorian would do anything for his friends. The party says goodbye to Fy’ra Rai and look forward to what comes next.
In the darkness between planes, Ted awakes and reaches out for Opal. A woman in purple, swirling with magic grins down at her. Myr’atta says “I have been looking for you for so long. I will burn the world to have you.” Ted shrinks into the darkness, screaming. And that’s where we’ll pick up next time.
Episode 6 is in the books! This episode took some unexpected twists and turns but ended on quite an exciting note! After three episodes of travel, we finally arrived at what was supposed to be a deserted ruin and instead find a magically hidden civilization. Very El Dorado, Wakanda, Atlantis…. take your pick! Even in an undiscovered city, our friends can’t escape trouble and find themselves in a wild chase through the streets, trying to save one of their own. Let’s dive right in to the action!
The episode opens with a laid back interlude. Fy’ra leading the party to the location where Niirdal-Poc should be. Now, the group don’t quite act as you might expect when discovering a lost civilization…no…these knuckleheads take a quick glance at the lost city and then decide that a quick skinny dip in the river sounds more interesting. Priorities. We have none. Eventually Fy’ra and Dorian get everyone all rounded up and we finally get to explore the city!
Fy’ra seems to know her way around this place, having visited sometime very recently. It’s undisclosed whether Anjali came in with previous names and knowledge of the city (where to find it, who she knows there, etc.) Maybe this is huge credit to Anjali’s role playing ability, but I couldn’t tell if she was just confidently BS-ing her way through being a leader, knowing that Aabria would ‘yes and’ her, or if she had a Niirdal-Poc cheat sheet in her binder. Either way, Fy’ra came off as a wonderful leader and spirit guide through this magical city.
We got to meet two major characters in the city. First up Elam, the helpful earth genasi that fed them dinner. She was more than a gracious host though, she was able to help steer them on the path towards finding all the answers they need, while also dragging some juicy secrets out of our group. We learned some real names (looking at you Bron and Georgie) and some traumatic parental drama (hello absentee father, abandoning mother, and straight up missing family members).
Up next, we got to meet quite an imposing figurehead in Niirdal-Poc, Tetrarch Thrascuur. The loxodon, a humanoid with an elephant face, dropped ALL the wisdom on the party. I found this character fascinating and rich with backstory. It made me want to meet the other four members of the Tetrarchy and see if they are as hippy-cult mysteriously wise or if they have unique and just as fascinating personalties. I’d definitely make a return trip to Niirdal-Poc just to interview the Tetrarchy. The party took their conversation with Thrascuur pretty well considering all the heavy stuff they discussed. They sparked quite a philosophical discussion on the origins of magic, power, good and evil, while also managing to pry under the party’s armor and hit some sensitive subjects. Also, did anyone else get the Dunemancy shivers when Aabria described Thrascuurs eyes? It sounded suspiciously similar to a certain beacon. Eh, I’m probably still a little raw from the end of campaign 2. I mean not everything has to be an easter egg, right?
Opal had a bit of a tantrum at being called out on her cold behavior towards Ted. Thrascuur basically insinuated that she’s taking out her own insecurity and aggression on Ted while not realizing that she’s always been free to be her own person and Ted never held her back, her own fears did.
Fy’ra gets the shock of a lifetime when Thrascuur shows her Fy’ra Kai is still alive and looking for her. Classic daytime drama plot twist! Everyone gets a happy ending! Now we just need to figure out the Ted situation and all the dead or missing siblings should be solved. Of course, this still leaves us with Fearne’s missing parents, Dorian’s still hidden backstory, and Orym’s sob story that we all know Liam is holding back for just the right dramatic moment.
Dariax had another special moment with another disembodied voice in his head. This time, it seemed the Observer reached out to him. Three for three on speaking with Gods in this series. Dariax really must be a chosen one. We all know it wasn’t brains that got him this far. His encounter with the Observer was one of the more vague conversations. Not much information was given. In fact, the encounter was so brief, I barely had time to register what was happening before the story moved on. I supposed we were to assume that the Observer is the one granting him his sorcerer’s powers? I’m unsure if this is also connected to Fy’ra’s “sight” that is her gift from the Observer. Maybe it will be explained in a later session? I guess we’ll find out!
Now onto the all important chase scene. I think this is our third encounter in six episodes that has begun with someone getting darted. In a “shocking” twist though, it’s not Fearne being darted… it’s Opal. And…it’s not the Nameless ones doing the darting… no this time it’s Myr’atta and her purple robed friends! Man… darts must be a very popular assassin tool in Exandria that has just not been made proper use of in the original two campaigns. I’m unsure if Aabria underestimated the party’s tactical persistence, or their impossible to guess chaos factor, but the chase scene obviously ended a bit differently than she was expecting. It would have been interesting to start the second to last episode with both Fy’ra Rai AND Opal gone from the party. Luckily though, everyone managed to not get kidnapped or torn apart by living statues. I will say, the ladies leaned into the violence quite eagerly during this encounter. Fy’ra tore it up on the battlefield, Opal managed to completely cover herself in gore and carry around a dismembered head like a freaking psychopath. And then Fearne, darling sweetheart fawny Fearne. A feral nightmare with teeth that chomped not one, but two heads with her wolf teeth. Brutal, ladies, absolutely brutal.
Dorian, Orym and Dariax almost had their own separate encounter from what carnage the ladies wrought. It was far more bumbling and injury filled. Dorian decided that standing right in the middle of six heads full of razor sharp teeth was the perfect place to be. Dariax somehow ended up in drag again, and to no one’s surprise absolutely killed it on the battlefield. Orym did his agile little fighter best to keep all his friends alive, while also taking a tank’s worth of damage.
While the encounter ended with everyone in one piece, and none of the party members kidnapped…they still managed to come out feeling like they lost. Myr’atta escaped, probably to dart Opal in the neck again tomorrow. The other kidnapper is dead, and even though Opal brought the head with her she doesn’t have a Caduceus around to speak with dead and get some answers. It seems like she may be waiting a bit longer for her answers, as the party is opting to make a beeline for Emon and settle the Ash-hole situation asap.
How about those little “Caleb” slip ups from Liam this episode? That first little accidental name confusion was an emotional rollercoaster. My poor little heart misses the Nein so much! Then, that little “counterspell” moment at the end of the fight encounter. Aww… I miss him too little buddy. It does make me wonder how far in advance these episodes were taped. This series has been in the wings for quite some time now. I mean, you don’t just throw together a beautifully animated intro, complete with commissioned fanart and tee shirts overnight. Plus, there were the several massive hints at Aabria’s impending takeover when she guested on Narrative Telephone several weeks before the end of campaign 2. My guess is that these episodes were taped well before the end of campaign 2 and Liam, Ashley, and Matt were juggling two campaigns worth of baggage around. I’m amazed more slip ups haven’t happened sooner!
Anjali has left the party! Fy’ra’s run on Exandria Unlimited seems to have come to an end after just two episodes. I’m glad Anjali was able to join the table for the two episodes. She’s always a delight to watch in action. Her story telling and role playing are fun, fresh, and exciting. The party will sorely miss her leadership skills and decision making abilities. I guess we’re back to Dariax forcing Dorian to be the party leader while Dorian secretly has Orym make all the decisions. Where will our story go from here? Another fast forward time jump straight back to Emon? Another chase scene in a bid to answer Opal’s questions? Or a second surprise Myr’atta encounter somewhere in the middle? You won’t want to miss the last two episodes of Exandria Unlimited. Don’t worry Critters, it’s almost Thursday!