The Hand of Destiny woke up with the heat of the morning, desert sun in their faces as the Tiny Hut disappeared. As they woke up and wandered around the newly freed Oasis, Kaladrax noticed the amber jewel sitting among jugs and glasses on a delicate table. He picked it up, looked at it and then off into the distance towards the mountains. He sat down on the dainty chairs around the table. The worked iron creaked under his weight. He opened up the primordial book as he ate breakfast with the others.
After a few moments he closed the book. He held up the amber crystal. It was called The Jewel of the Tempest. The jewel, held by a thin strip of leather was the heart of the air spirit of Novos, Aero. With the heart they could control the very air currents that flew over Novos. The weather and all things related to air were under the holder’s control. He saw how powerful and dangerous that could be so he kept the information to himself.
Kaladrax provided the location of the temple from the book. It was high in the mountains around the Oasis where the AaraKocra once lived. Now that they were slaves, the party didn’t know if there would be anyone left at the temple to give them more information. They made the quick decision to go and recover the blessing before leaving the area. Gathering all their supplies and cleaning up some of the mess that the Errant had left while they controlled the Oasis, the party made their way towards a higher peak than the rest.
Their route took them in a similar path to how they came to the healing waters but this time they traversed the desert above ground. As they traveled they saw a caravan off in the distance. The first expedition in a long time was underway. Their hearts warmed at seeing the people being able to reach the sacred oasis.
They had been traveling for hours when a shadow appeared overhead. They had to run to escape the falling meteor that was hurtling towards their position. They just barely managed to escape the radius of the explosion and from the settling debris emerged a glowing red ash monster. It seemed the leader of the Errant had delivered the news of his failure to Malthazar. They were retaliating with more infection. The ash monster moved in for the attack as they were all prone. Suddenly it was stopped by a parry from Hepolita as she appeared as if from nowhere.
This extra help allowed the party to get up from their prone positions. They recovered enough to fight the ash creature and eventually wore it down. Tired and a little singed around the edges they continued to move forward, on to the temple. Hepolita explained that she had a lot to tell them but that it could wait until they finished their current mission.
They reached the base of the mountains in the late afternoon. A small trail along the face of the mountain was the only visible way up. The rest of the landscape was sheer rock face, no footholds or outcroppings, nothing except the diminutive steps leading upwards into the blowing winds of the higher atmosphere. The vegetation was sparse and, what was there, brown and wilted. They made their way up in single file. Kariss had to revert Kess back into the staff it really was to make the journey up easier. They tied rope around themselves again and started up the steep trail. As they wound their way up, they fought the lashing winds and changing currents. Their clothes were plastered to their skin with the sweat of exertion. It was everything they had just to stay on the trail.
After three hours of constant climbing they emerged onto the first platform of any size on the mountain. At the far side of it was a cave. The entrance was narrow but tall with Auran runes inscribed on the edge on the opening. In front of it stood an old Aarakocra. They passed several huts hung among the few trees that grew there. Next to the entrance was also a hut, but this one was on the ground. When they came up on the old bird they also noticed a lack of wings. He had only stubs where his wings once were.
They spoke to announce themselves and he almost ran at first. The group explained that they were there to help, that they had freed the oasis from the raging storm. At that he perked up and asked if they were here to ask for the blessing from his master. Aleera confirmed it and he motioned them over to the entrance. As they walked, the party asked about his wings and why there were no others here.
He began his story telling them that when the Aarakocra village had been ransacked and enslaved they had been taken to market. When he and his son tried to incite a rebellion to free their people their wings had been cut off. When his son tried to get them to escape again. He managed to get free but had to leave his people behind. He was old and could not fight so he made his way home to keep the temple and prepare the village should his people ever be freed.
When they reached the entrance, he explained to them that in order to get the blessing they had to go through the trial inside the temple and survive. He gave them three clues one was air flowing through the sky, the other was dance and the third was a personal one. The Aarakocra priest let them know that Aero had a special place in his heart for beautiful ladies. It seemed Aleera would have to be the one to retrieve the blessing.
They moved into the cave to begin the trial. Milo decided to help as best he could and he followed Aleera through the first part of the trial. They had to dance through a wind tunnel. Aleera instinctually moved with the currents, dancing with the air, to make her way through. Milo had a harder time, fighting with the winds sometimes to get through.
For the next trial they had to traverse a large empty cavern with tiles covering the floor. Aleera danced through the trial. She matched the moves depicted to make her way through unscathed. Milo had a different encounter. Before making her way through, Aleera had tried to teach him some dance moves to make it easier for him to cross but that didn’t seem to help much. By the time he reached Aleera on the other side of the room he was charred from the lightning that struck down everytime he got a move wrong.
A little worse for wear, Aleera and Milo moved forward. They looked behind them and saw the rest of the party waiting at the beginning of the temple. Ahead of them the floor fell out into a large pit surrounding a pedestal in the center. There was no visible way across. After a few minutes of standing there observing the last trial Aleera noticed something.
The wind would blow through different areas of the pit at different times. She thought she might be able to ride them to the pedestal. When the next gust came close she jumped and allowed the air current to blow her towards the pedestal. As the first gust of wind blew itself out, another picked her up and carried her further. She managed to ride the air currents until her feet touched down on the solid earth of the pedestal. In the center of that was a bare stone altar with auran runes inscribed all over it. It seemed some sort of sacrifice or object was needed to complete the ritual.
Kaladrax saw this happen from the beginning of the trial and a thought crossed his mind. He took the jewel from his robes and walked slowly into the first trial tunnel. The wind didn’t even touch him, the lightning never struck in the next room and when he reached the pit, he walked across it with no seeming path beneath his feet. He reached the altar in no time and when the rest of the party caught up at the final location, they exploded.
They demanded to know why he had hidden the gem from them, and the knowledge of what it was. He had no answer but that he thought it was too dangerous. Aleera ripped the jewel out of his hand and he didn’t resist. While the rest of the party berated Kaladrax for keeping such an important secret from him, Aleera approached the altar. First she moved the jewel above it to see if that was enough. It was not.
As she thought it over she remembered their Barovia days. Towards the end they had realized that Wick had withheld much information from them and it had hurt them to think that it would happen again. She picked up one of the rocks littering the ground. With an angry smash she broke open the jewel and the remaining shards flew off in the wind. Everyone fell silent as the wind picked up. At the altar, appeared a being made of wind and small debris floating within. He smiled at Aleera and touched her head. A wind picked up around her and lifted her off her feet. After the blessing had been given, he disappeared only to reappear as a little whirling tornado on Aleera’s shoulder.
They left the temple both happy to receive the blessing and apprehensive of their new doubts about each other. Kaladrax was sulking after the tongue lashing he had gotten from Kariss about sharing all the information they had. Aleera looked on with a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach. She had a secret too.