The party awakes from their final stay at the battlement to find Tarholdt already waiting for them in the main foyer. He greets them with gusto and insists that they move quickly to the portal where the large petal-key will be employed. Nestled amid the lavish mansions of the Lady’s Ward, an elven inn keeps a path of trees leading to a sleepy courtyard. The petal seems to shimmer and hum in proximity to the tree path, and upon reaching the mid point, a glimmering green mist coalesces across the path, forming a gateway. Tarholdt unabashedly ushers each of the party members through the gate. With a sensation like falling in a dream, the party emerges in an idyllic garden temple.
The temple is unlike anything seen before, somehow both pristine and verdant at the same time. Majestic pillars climb up to an open sky, wrapped about by graceful fronds of ivy. Marble statues of ideally proportioned elves and eladrin bear stone-carved baskets and pitchers seeming to flow with verdant growth where water ought to be. Amid this mezzanine, mostly elves, half-elves, and eladrin mill about, having cheerful conversations and seeming to ignore the party of adventurers who just teleported into their midst.
“This is arvandor, the blessed realm” Tarhold explains in a manner befitting a tour-guide. “This is the divine domain, floating amid the astral sea, where Corellon and Sehanine dwell. In addition, it is said that Avandra and Melora are often guests in this place, so shrines to them dot the landscape as well. Here, exarchs and the faithful to all 4 of these gods come to live out an ideal life befitting the exemplars of their faiths.” Tarholdt is almost breathless as he explains this. “And we are fortunate, for we needed to be near the edge of the domain, and as a party predominantly of other faiths, we are permitted only to travel briefly on the outskirts anyway.”
Just then, two lithe fey dressed in silvery and forest-green tunics approach. “Ah, but that’s not the best part! A high priestess of Corellan is on a mission of ministry to the isles of Arvandor and is stopping by briefly. When she heard there would be a band of adventurers, she perked up! It seems she was a former adventurer herself.”
The party is soon greeted warmly by the two heralds, a female eladrin and a male elf. The eladrin holds a staff riddled with glowing runes, topped with a gemmed head that indicates a person of great importance in the faith of Corellan. The elf’s regalia is slightly more fit for combat, but majestic nonetheless. He bears a bow across his back that seems more for show, though the gossamer string glinting inside it is immeasurably priceless.
Finally, the eladrin speaks. “Hail, adventurers, I am Quellenna, exalted and high priestess of Corellon. I bid you welcome to these magic lands and am filled with pride to see brothers of blood striking out into the world.” She looks at Paelius and Elstin with pride “I was once an adventurer myself, and I have the scars to prove it!” the priestess sheepishly gestures at the bandage wrapped around her left eye. Even it is finely woven with silverthread and gossamer so as to more resemble a stylish headband than something to conceal a battle wound. “I know not all of our kind worship the Arcane Father, and yet even some of the other mortal races pay him heed. I came to wish you luck on your journey and to extend an opportunity to bask in Corellon’s grace. For a modest donation, we can prepare a ceremony in one of our grand temples to honor the father of art and magic for a blessing upon your journey and yourself. If you are interested, let any of my attendants know and I will make the preparations. Tarholdt has informed me you should have just enough time for a ceremony.” With a small curtsy, Quellenna takes her leave.
“Corellon is the founder of the feast, to be sure” the elf begins to speak as Quellena walks away “But in this wondrous realm we have many divine beings with whom you can better connect here than anywhere else. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, my name is Rokenir. Tarholdt has told me of your amazing prowess and so I don’t feel odd to call you my friends and invite you to simply call me Oak as my compatriots would. The Priestess, being a magnificent wizard in her time, is understandably devout to the father of the fey, but I felt it would be best if you were provided the options of the other deities who call this realm home. Of course, I am no stranger to Sehanine’s grace, but I have been ordained and sanctified to perform rites of supplication to Melora and Avandra as well, should you be interested. With that, I will bid you good journey.”
Tiring of these flourishes of faith, Tarhold begins leading you to the docks. What seems like a simple coastline quickly reveals itself to be something much more amazing.
“I want to give you a chance to see our vessel before we set off, perhaps familiarize you a bit.” Tarholdt speaks to you as you meander up the dock. The verdant grasslands have just a short bit of beach before turning to coast, and in turn the water suddenly fades into… a starry sky.
The water lasts for just a few meters before dispersing. In some places, it billows and spills like a waterfall. In other areas, it simply floats off in all directions into the wispy mass that you realize must be the astral sea. And there, floating in this starlit ocean, is the vessel Tarhold speaks of.
“This” the dwarf beams with pride “Is Titania’s fury. Part of the reason we are sailing out of here is this a ship of Arvandor construction”. There’s little reason to doubt him, the planks and beams of the ship resemble trunks of trees, fully formed and uncut, woven together into a thick hull. The Sails jut out like fins on a massive beast, with fibrous sails stretching like webbing between the ribs.
“They said a number of their agents operating in the natural world and the feywild were mysteriously banished back to the home realm” Tarholdt says somewhat absent mindedly “The end result was a massive reduction in the need to sail supplies to their various portals under the direct command of their gods. Thus, they were happy to permit an enterprising merchant such as myself to take on more generalist work and sold me the ship for a modest discount”
The upper deck is equipped with two minor ballistae and one major ballista. These reload quicker than the cannons below, but they aren’t quite as damaging and they’re more limited in the width of their firing arc.
Tarhold beckons you into the captains chamber where he takes a few practice spins on the steering wheel. “This is where I’ll spend most of my time. I have to devote most of my attention to sailing the ship in tandem with a crew of 6. If any of us are unable to complete our duties, we’ll lose precious speed and that’s going to mean a delayed trip! So, try to make sure nothing distracts us, ok?”
Next, Tarholdt takes you below to the lower deck where the cannons are housed. “Here you can see we have 3 large and 3 small cannons, as well as ammunition. Including priming the ammo, it takes a few turns to prep a shot, but if we somehow end up in ship-to-ship combat, it will likely these that deal the most damage. One important note: no fire down here! if any of the cannons or ammo take major fire damage, there’s a chance they’ll explode and cause severe damage to the ship. This is doubly bad because this ship will start to lose speed as the hull integrity is degraded”
“You’ll notice” he continues “We have a few barrels full of repair supplies, but this is just a bit more than what will cover standard maintenance. I’m counting on you adventurers to be able to get this ship from point A to point B, so either don’t let it get too damaged or find a way to repair damage! As it stands, a journey on the astral sea is rough. We’ll be spending several days ‘at sea’ but you won’t recover at the same rate you normally do. Make sure you keep this in mind and don’t let yourself get too beaten up.”
“Finally” he says “I’d like you to meet the six crew we have hired so far. Zadara gave us 100gp per day for up to 12 crew members and I’ve hired half of that. I thought you guys, being all inspiring and potentially more likely to jive with the natives, might be able to find some folks willing to work for less than 100gp per day. Whatever you can do to lower the cost will mean more crew, or if you’re feeling the need you could chip in a bit more to hire more crew.”
“These guys are pretty tough” he goes on “if they take a hit, they know to roll with the punch and stay down until they can recover. A bit more often than half the time, they’ll be able to get up from taking a hammer to the helm, but if they get hit while they’re down they might not make it! After whatever scrape we might get into that puts them out of comission, we can try some medical procedures to get some of them back on their feet, and of course if you have some healing that will always work too, but the plan A should be to keep them out of the way. That being said, if plan B is to have them hit things, they’ll listen to you if you tell them to take up arms, but remember that we need at LEAST six crew to fly at full speed.”
With that, Tarholdt guides you off the ship, and informs you you’ll be spending 2 days in port, free of charge. He hopes you can use this time to your advantage, and begins his preparation for the voyage!