By Jeff Quick
Elemental Plane of Air Portal
After Elaacrimalicros the green dragon awoke and destroyed the Star Mounts colony of aarakocra, the survivors scattered across the North and Cormyr. Some groups formed new colonies in the spaces they could find, and some individual aarakocra have struck out into Faerûn seeking their fortune alone. All have sworn revenge against the ancient green dragon who killed so many of their people and razed their home.
One group of survivors was a small circle of wizards, clerics, and druids. This group of spellcasters all had ties to the Elemental Plane of Air and had worked together before, so when the Star Mounts aeries split, they knew how to find one another. Rather than scatter, the spellcasters made a short flight north and settled in the Lost Peaks. Pooling their magical resources, they formed an association known as the Nest of Retribution.
The Nest of Retribution is zealously dedicated to revenge against Elaacrimalicros. They have pledged the rest of their lives to destroying the dragon and reclaiming their home, and they are prepared to do anything up to, and including, the sacrifice of their lives to accomplish this goal. However, dying is easy. Living meaningfully is the trick.
The Nest aarakocras have decided to spend their lives collecting and marshalling assistance from the elemental plane of air to gain revenge. Slowly, over a period of years, they plan to summon an army of elementals, great and small, and then destroy the dragon in a whirlwind of destruction.
Elementals, however, while helpful, can be notably mercenary. In exchange for the elementals' promises to help assault the ancient green dragon, the aarakocra perform services or retrieve items for the elementals from the Prime Material Plane. Considering that the aarakocras are systematically asking every elemental they can summon to attack one of the most powerful beings on the continent, the elementals require some serious service in return.
As a result, all ten members of the Nest of Retribution are rarely at their Lost Peaks aerie simultaneously. More often, they're off on a mission either in Faerûn or on the Elemental Plane of Air itself, serving an elemental in some capacity. At least one member is usually in their shared aerie, but rarely more than three members are present at once.
To facilitate travel to and from the elemental plane of air, the aarakocras created a portal. The portal is one of the most inauspicious of its type. Hanging in midair, roughly a quarter mile away from the eastern edge of the Lost Peaks, the portal has no visible boundaries or sign of existence. The Nest aarakocras have simply memorized its location and know how to orient themselves to find it from either side. The key to opening the portal is the phrase, 'swift passage' spoken in Auran. Even when open, the portal does not appear different from the air around it, since the elemental plane of air doesn't look much different from the material plane's air. Only when looking down at an angle can an airborne observer can see a difference. The land below appears to have an unnatural hole cut in it -- a 15-foot-diameter circle of sky.
The Nest's aerie is guarded by air elementals of increasing power. Air mephits, arrowhawks, and air elementals of up to 8 Hit Dice vigilantly protect the aerie from intruders and Elaacrimalicros's spies. An air genasi named Shyven Arvagress (NG female air genasi Ftr 8) serves as captain of the elemental guard, and she is always at the aerie, even when none of the aarakocras are available. Shyven is a paid employee, but a loyal one. She trusts the aarakocras and believes in their cause. She's in no hurry to attack a green dragon herself, but is happy to manage the defense of the aerie for as long the Nest aarakocras want to keep her employed.
How to Incorporate the Plane of Air Portal Into Your Campaign
- Characters who enter the Lost Peaks in search of the Fountains of Memory could get attacked by one of the Nest of Retribution's guardian air elementals. The Nest's resident aarakocras will soon be on the scene to inspect the disturbance.
- When the PCs summon their own air elemental, the elemental wants the PCs to assist the Nest's dragon-fighting efforts in return for its service.
- The PCs might have a magic item or have access to a magic item that a powerful air elemental wants. A Nest aarakocra would probably first approach the PCs and tell them the story of the Star Mounts colony, then beg their assistance in a righteous crusade of vengeance. The aarakocra will offer his or her own service for a period of time in exchange for the item. Nest of Retribution aarakocra can be single-minded. If the PCs do not help voluntarily, an aarakocra is not above manipulating events or simple theft to get what he or she wants.