Location: New Vasselheim, Othanzia, Issylra
Darte: 1 Sydenstar 845 PD (calendar of Exandria: https://criticalrole.fandom.com/wiki/Calendar_of_Exandria)
Rinn: half-elf sorcerer/rogue
Stubby: half-elf artificer
Tāmarai: gnome bard
Fisch: bear fighter
Absent Party Members:
Bob the Therapist: changeling warlock with a couch for a familiar
Tunk: bugbear monk
- Visit Sky Daddy for Rinn
- Visit Blue Flamey Sanctuary for Luxon beacon
- Get info from the assholes near the titan
- Check temples for amulets of proof against detection
Previously on Yeeted & Yoinked:
Our four heroes fought and bested Kas the Bloody-Handed (as well as a suit of animated armor), then used the skull of Sartine, a former Champion of the Raven Queen, to destroy the sword and thus put to rest the excess timeline that has been visited upon Othanzia for the last five years. Possibly as a reward, or possibly just because it was briefly possible, Stubby received a visitation from her Uncle Vax’ildan, who offered congratulations and encouragement to the whole group, but of course primarily to Stubby, his niece — and, it is becoming apparent, his true heir in many senses. He also gave them each a bronze coin stamped with the Raven Queen emblem on the obverse, and on the reverse, the stamp of their own patron deities (Stubby’s is an image of the Raven’s Crest from Old Vasselheim). He then whisked them all to ground level, to return to their base of operations.
The Adventure Continues
The four walk back up the magically carved steps from the Raven’s Crest and into the chilly air of the evening as the sun sets over both Vasselheims. They head back to Melora’s gardeners’ home, discussing on the way the concepts of gods, free will, and such, as Fisch is a curious bear. He describes the gods himself, and the group take turns supplying names for each of the ones he’s learned about (a very little) by looking at the symbols in their temples. Fisch’s names for the gods are:
Angry Shield God (Kord)
Sunshine Dude (Pelor)
Thinking God (Ioun)
Light Lady (Everlight)
Silver Shiny Dragon (Platinum Dragon)
Two Faces Doorway God (Changebringer)
Moon Person (Moonweaver)
Robed People Place (Raven Queen)
Most of the temples are still present, though not necessarily intact. Fisch points them out one by one. “That one is the Doorway God…” He also points out the smoking holes, canyons, or ruins, that used to be temples on their map. The group plan their route for the next day. Tāmarai takes her half-hour alone to cry — a general maintenance procedure that she does at some point on most days, rather than a response to specific stimuli — then comes back out for dinner. They all update their journals, bestiaries, or lab notebooks as needed, then go to bed.
First watch: Stubby (with Sentri). They note the normal sounds of night animals. A cicada exoskeleton falls from the roof, landing near Stubby as she’s doing a bit of tinkering. She tucks it into a pouch, says “Thank you!” to whatever dropped it, and goes on working for the rest of her watch duty.
Second watch: Fisch. Stubby wakes him with a nice bit of pets and scritches. He sits outside with a glaive, just waiting for someone to start some ish. Neither ish nor ish-stirrer presents itself, so he wakes Rinn for third watch.
Rinn thinks he’s awake, but then at some point thinks he’s asleep. He does not notice any transition between one and the other. However, it gets very quiet and very dark. There are no lights in Old Vasselheim other than that big blue flame and whatever stars or moons are out, so darkness is sensible. However, Rinn is half-elf, and should be able to see, and yet he can’t.
Then a spotlight flares, and someone is there, someone dressed just like Rinn: the form Rinn saw fleetingly while leaving Osysa’s caves. The person turns, and it is Rinn himself, but also, very much not Rinn. This Rinn, he realizes, is one that never fell into crime. This Rinn embraced his own sorcerous nature. Then he realizes that no, this creature, this person, is not dressed like himself at all. They’re in robes — awesome, robes, in fact — and holding a really cool looking staff. He looks awesome. Like an awesome, badass ponce. Poncy Sorcerer Rinn smiles, and his form melts into another shape. It squeezes, squishes, turns. His skin changes colors, and now he’s an orc wearing robes somewhat similar to Tunk’s: a different style, different colors, but still very identifiable as a monk.
The figure speaks: Well. You have embraced some of your potential. Will you embrace the rest?
Rinn: Who the fuck are you?
The figure: I am Skyseeker Oren. Skyseeker; Sky Summoner; Arm of the Thunderbolt. Who are you?
Rinn: Rinn Shrike.
Oren: Do you fear me?
Rinn: Do I have reason to?
Oren: You’re cautious. Good. Do not avoid your path. Come. Come to my Crucible. I await.[The voice echoes, like the one in Rinn’s dream asking him to come to the Forge/Crucible.]
Rinn starts walking towards Oren, who just waits; once he’s close enough, Oren pulls out a coin like the ones Rinn got from the Raven Queen and Vax, and holds it up to show Rinn the Storm Lord’s symbol on it.
Rinn: Why Why all of this? Why now, why never before? Why not when I needed help before?
Oren: You think you were alone.
Rinn: I was.
Oren: You were never alone. You were always watched, helped, guided, to bring you here. Your strength is needed here. Their quest will not succeed without you. Had you not lived the life you led, you would not be strong enough. You, and you specifically, because you are Chosen.
Oren lifts his hand. Behind him, thunder and lightning crackle and boom. He’s not summoning it, just pointing it out.
Oren: He watches. But it is the strength from our hands, our arms, that is needed. You must claim your strength. Master it, or it will destroy you. [steps back; shadows around him grow, and the spotlight shrinks to nothing] I look forward to our meeting. Before you leave this city, come. I will wait for you.
There is more thunder, more lightning. Then nothing, until he’s being awakened by Fisch to take his turn at watch, feeling very rested. Weirdly so.
Fisch watches Rinn walk outside for watch, and murmurs to himself, or maybe to Melora, “S’not even sunup, and already the boy is not right.”
Third watch: Rinn. The summer sun is eagerly awaits its own rise, presaging it by turning the black of night to grey, then to purple and sepia, as objects begin to use the light to redefine their borders; farmers outside this city are probably waking, or already awake, to begin feeding livestock. Stars and moons fade. The Birth Heart looks amazing at this hour of dew and dawn, kind of almost glowy: warm, calming feeling, all things in their time. Night moisture steams off the leaves and grasses; morning birds announce their virility, woodland critters chitter and scamper. Seems pretty normal. Feels like a safe respite in this otherwise insanely weird, disturbing city. The sun rises to illuminate a beautiful, clear day, with just enough clouds for punctuation. It’s going to be a good day.
The four still sleeping begin to stir themselves awake. Fisch is frowny and has a headache.
Rinn is not there.
Rinn, mere minutes ago:
Rinn heads for the Trial Forge as beckoned, walking over the lower plateau below the Silver Talon’s Reach. The sun is still low in the sky, and the air all around is grey and purple in the pre-dawn light. From the elevation before he descends towards the Trial Forge, Rinn takes a moment to sketch out all the scars on the city in his journal for the Slayer’s Take. He notices a few ruined buildings on the plateau, and makes a note to himself to avoid them, because Things live in buildings, and he’s alone.
On his way, he hears a creaking noise from a house close to the plateau’s edge. It could just be the morning world stirring and the evening settling down, but sus is a way of life, and Rinn lives it like he’s being paid to live it. He skirts widely around that house before leaving the plateau and going down the stairs on the other side, which deposit him just a few blocks away from the Crucible. Houses are scattered farther apart now, or at least, fewer of them are intact. North of the Crucible, between the Crucible and the Trial Forge, Rinn can see an enormous rend in the earth. The Crucible is now a pit. An actual, punched-down, hole-in-the-ground, pit. He stands on the edge and takes a long look down. He sees no one and nothing down there, other than a bit of rubble at the edges. He does, however, hear something behind himself. A long, low growl. Or, maybe… croak? Yes, a croak, he decides. A large-sounding, angry-sounding frog. The biggest bullfrog, he thinks.
Until he hears, directly in his mind, “All alone? Heh heh heh…”
Meanwhile, back at the Birthheart…
Stubby, Tam, and Fisch snork awake. In their rising-and-shining process, they realize that Rinn, who was meant to be keeping watch, is gone. However, Tāmarai finds evidence that his absence was purposeful: a note stuck to Stubby’s cheek with her own drool: Got an invitation. Taking care of something. You sleep too soundly. RS.
Fisch lets out a little groan, and Tāmarai heals his headache. They all get on their shoes and collect weapons and spell components, abandoning other preparations in their hurry to find Rinn. Being far faster than the rest, Fisch gets down on all fours and orders everyone onto his back…
and then that bear tears ass to the Storm Lord’s temple.
“All alone? Heh heh heh…”
Rinn whips around in time to see a big frog-like thing — his mental record supplies Fisch’s voice saying, “Assholes” — but standing upright, with abnormally long fingernails (claws?), horned spikes on their head, and red. Not a pretty red, either, but the red of organs from some meat that was butchered at least a couple of days ago. But the worst part is how happy they seem to be encountering Rinn. Unsettling.
The thing licks its own eyeballs, then lunges at Rinn with two swift claw attacks and a bite (one of which hits, and that one is enough: a sort of welt, or boil, appears on Rinn’s forearm where one of the claws raked at the skin. Rinn responds with a Witch Bolt that should cause a great deal of damage, but doesn’t look like it quite does the job.
The frog-thing glows, and some of the lightning damage starts to heal itself. They claw and bite again, though this time not as successfully. Rinn drops the Witch Bolt and bursts out with Thunderwave instead. It doesn’t do a huge amount of damage, but it does cause the frog-thing to be tossed backward just far enough to fall into the pit below. Rinn hears a dismayed, “Oh no” in his head just before the sound of the impact, and now the frog-thing is an ex-frog-thing.
An orc steps out of an alcove at the bottom, looks at the squished frog-thing, and back up at Rinn. He beckons with one hand. It’s Oren. He chuckles. Rinn swears in Draconic, as naturally he would, and casts about for a way down. Just before he resorts to leaping and Feather Fall-ing, he spots a staircase way off to one side. Before he can take the stairs downward, however, he hears and then sees Fisch, Stubby, and Tāmarai barreling towards himself. Fisch skids to a stop and rolls to one side, not landing on his passengers, who roll off him. Now they all look like “some assembly may be required,” crossed with “there appears to have been a struggle.”
Fisch to Rinn: What hurt you?
Rinn: Giant frog, red, claws…
Fisch sniffs Rinn and doesn’t know what to call what he smells. Tāmarai’s training apparently included some xenobiology, because she immediately pops out with, “Red slaad. Very dangerous. Did it give you any boils or sores? That is how they reproduce.” Rinn shows her his arm, and Tāmarai pops the pregnancy like a zit, then Prestidigitates the…substance…away. Then she and Rinn puke their guts out because EW.
Once calming his justifiably roiling stomach, Rinn bandages himself up.
Oren, pointing at frog: He was basically a god.
Rinn: WAS a god.
Stubby catches that it’s a purposeful reference to one of her own family stories, and skitters downstairs with reckless abandon. Fisch chases easily. Tāmarai chases with difficulty: The steps are Grog/Trinket/Fisch sized, so it’s very difficult. She looks like a damn toddler going down these stairs, which are mostly intact, made of polished marble flecked with gold. At the bottom, they find Oren, an orc, standing over a dead red slaad and smiling. His monk’s vestments are black, mostly, but with gold threads woven in at some of the edges. Notably, his eyes are a vibrant blue that looks almost like lightning sparks.
Oren: You did come. Are these your friends?
Rinn: Stubby, Tāmarai, Fisch.
Oren: Lady Victoria. Tāmarai Shikomi. [roar sound, Fisch’s actual name]
Fisch: [big smile]
Oren gestures at the few remaining bleachers, offering box seats to the main event. When Tāmarai asks what is being required of Rinn, Oren replies, “I challenge him.” To Rinn he adds, “You are blessed with a strength. I challenge you to claim it. Strength is not the same as fighting. You saw,” he points at the slaad, “he was resistant to the damage you could do, so you changed your attack. You used your strengths. These strengths are not your muscles. You have yet to find them. Gather what you require, and then come.” He walks out to the center of the Braving Grounds and waits.
Oren says that his friends can help Rinn if he asks. Tāmarai approaches Rinn. “We can help you,” she repeats, “if you ask for it. You must ask for help.” It takes him a second, no more, but seems like much longer as he undergoes some inner growth in order to say, “Please do what you think is right. Both of you.”
It’s close enough. Stubby charges up Aegea and beefs Rinn up just slightly [temporary hit point boost] as Tāmarai gets out her main spell component, her lute, and begins playing and singing to get him pumped up [Eye of the Tiger: “Rinn! Rinn, Rinn, Rinn! Rinn, Rinn, Riiiiiiinnnn…” = Bardic Inspiration]. Then they seat themselves in the bleachers, about 15 feet away from the action.
Rinn and Oren step into the ring. Rinn asks for the rules. “First blood? What?”
Oren replies, “The fight is until one of us falls. But the point is not to win. The point is to use your strength.” He steps back, gives the c’mere gesture like Earthbreaker Groon. Come.”
[Rinn’s Insight check, nat20: When he says the point isn’t to win but to find your strength, there is absolute sincerity. He clearly doesn’t expect Rinn to have a chance, but doesn’t want Rinn to try to kill him, so much as show ingenuity and master of what he can do, and embrace what he can do.]
Rinn does the flip-toss of daggers as he assesses Oren visually. He draws the flat of one dagger across his wrist and it SCHINKS across the medal from the bracelet before he throws it and casts Booming Blade on the blade itself. The blade booms as it hits the ‘wall’ of the Crucible, sounding like thunder, but doing no damage. He tosses another dagger, but Oren holds his hand up and catches it between his fingers. Then he shifts about to keep out of melee range — the circle is about 15’ so Rinn’s on the other side of it.
“Well aimed,” Oren compliments, then tosses the caught dagger towards the side, not quite at Stubby; it falls to ground harmlessly as he pulls his hand back and pushes it forward towards Rinn. A channel of air hits Rinn’s chest with enough force to make him breathless for a moment and make him take a half-step backwards. He beckons again. “Come.”
Rinn circles around Oren, who keeps moving so they’re always facing one another. “You have three times my weight. That would be stupid.” He picks up his fallen dagger and its Oren with Witch Bolt.
Oren’s hair stands up. “Good.” He slings his staff back and comes at Rinn with a pop pop that misses, then misses again.
Tam switches up her song [You’re The Best Around] as she tries casting Faerie Fire, but it washes right off Oren. Stubby keeps on re-upping Aegea’s contribution to the fight [temp HP].
Rinn’s Witch Bolt keeps going for a bit longer as Oren continues with the rabbit-punches, which do a respectable amount of damage. Rinn drops his Witch Bolt and goes in for a Shocking Grasp instead, and Oren tries to deflect-and-damage with his staff, but misses. But he hits again, and there’s a big lightning-zap as Rinn gets an unexpected and unwelcome taste of his own medicine.
At this point, Stubby probably could restrain herself if she tried, but she does not try. She bolts into the ring and casts Sanctuary on Rinn, then attacks Oren with a Green Flame Blade. It’s very effective. So is Tāmarai’s assistance: she casts Hold Person on Oren, and it locks him in place. Rinn does not attack, not wanting to press what he sees as an unfair advantage, and waits for Oren to shake off the hold. When he does, the orc offers a quick, “Well chosen!” to Tāmarai, who is irritated. No… mad.
Stubby the heals Rinn with some sort of patch she’s pulled off of a part of her clothing, then gives him another little boost from Aegea before running back to her seat. Rinn pushes her out of the way of harm as best he can, and casts Warding Wind around himself. Tāmarai uses a Sapping Sting on Oren, which knocks him down to the ground. He does that getting-up-with-just-your-abs-strength leap to his feet and casts some spell at Rinn and Stubby that none of them take the time to identify; Stubby winds up seated again, a little before she’d meant to do so.
Rinn also takes some damage, but is not pushed. He simply keeps up his Warding Wind, adding a Thunderwave into the mix. Tāmarai uses Magnify Gravity on Oren as Stubby’s Aegea pushes some more health into Rinn, remarking as an aside to Tāmarai, “I think I got uninvited.” Oren chuckles, then crouches and runs at Rinn, delivering a serious blow with his staff, including a prodigious amount of lightning. Tāmarai sees this and becomes incensed. She sets down her lute and practically flies towards Oren. Teeth and claws extending, she dives for him, but instead of clawing him, casts Immovable Object on his staff.
Stubby is about to re-enter the fray as well, but as she does, and as Tāmarai is readying those claws and teeth for their turn, they both realize that the lightning is not actually harming Rinn. In fact, it seems to be healing him. Tāmarai calms herself down in an instant, not only because she’s good at doing that, but because she now is certain of what Rinn knew before: this is a teaching moment, not a real battle. The dance master has struck a student with his fan for not doing their best. She and Stubby both pause. Seeing this, Oren lets go his staff, applauds, and then heals Stubby almost completely from the damage he’d inflicted on her earlier.
Then he turns back to Rinn, and speaks with the Voice of his Master. “You have been blessed with the gifts. You have shown the will to use them. Your strength lies not in the muscles of your body, but the ability of your heart. Hear now: These are my commandments:
– Bravery above all. There is no glory in cowardice.
– Strength is the path for greatness, but greatness exists only in the responsible use of strength.
– My glory is through your glory in the battlefields you face ahead. Will you follow?”
Rinn: If I choose not?
Oren: Then I will let you go. Your journey will continue, but without my blessing. You will find struggle. You will face many foes. I will still celebrate your glory, but it will not be shared with me. I do not force you; I offer.
Rinn has trouble with this. A lot. Putting pride aside is not generally for him. He looks at Stubby, Tam, Fisch, and back at Oren. He nods.
Oren holds out hand and touches Rinn’s forehead. He feels the shield around Rinn’s mind, and the faint pressure, that feels like an incipient weather change, goes away. [Rinn no longer needs to make Wisdom checks after a long rest. He is now protected from insanity within the walls of Old Vasselheim.] “You have begun a quest. You have helped the Raven Queen,” Oren smirks. “I will tell you this. The one who calls herself Lydia Briarwood arrived here from Wildemount. Even when her power is removed — and I believe you four have the strength to remove it — you will need to return to your home. You will need to face what she has left behind. Ask her,” he nods towards Stubby, “whence the Briarwoods came. When you have defeated her here, that will be your next step.”
To Tāmarai, Oren makes a dramatic, slow turn: No mortal may pass the burning fire. Extinguish the flame and find that which you seek. To you, I offer a riddle: “I eat; I live. I breathe; I live. I drink; I die.”
Tāmarai considers the riddle a moment, then smiles in serene satisfaction as she responds in Xhorhasian. “Yes, I understand. Thank you for what you have done.”
Oren says then to all of them, “I know you have spoken with the young man who serves the Raven Queen.”
“My uncle!” Stubby crows excitedly. “Are you the one who beat up my Uncle Grog, before?”
“Yes, and no.”
Oren’s smile is one of satisfaction, possibly even smugness. “Yes.” He pauses to mark a return to his subject. “Remember your history, and go kick that toe. The treasures you seek will not be found here; however, the empress will not be scrying on you any time soon. In fact, as you succeed, her power wanes. As you succeed, so do improve your chances for victory. For a fight well fought, for skills well used,” he looks significantly at each of the four, “and for understanding the need to allow others to succeed or fail on their own, “he nods at Fisch, “you may ask one question. He,” he nods at Rinn, “is your spokesman.”
They discuss potential questions to ask. Oren gives Rinn a pretty coin that can hold and ask the question and get the answer.
Tāmarai asks Oren if he’s a god; if he could and would destroy the Flynn stone. He can’t, but would if he could; but he does respect the fact that she’s asked him, not completely trusting him to do it if he can. She’s right to be suspicious, he indicates without saying, because he is a powerful person and does not want to be tempted by its power, by Flynn, to try to grasp more. He could possibly take the stone to a god, but it would be safer in the group’s hands, and they can take it to a god at the Platinum Sanctuary themselves when they go, as they intend to do.
Take your meds.
Don’t forget to love each other.
Is it Game Day yet?
1 boon from the Raven Queen
1 answer to a question, from Osysa
1 answer to a question, from the Storm Lord