Uli's soul briefly resided on Mount Celestia, freed from worldly memories as a petitioner on the plane. Ripped from her place of planar rest, Uli had audience with the Goddess Waukeen, who informed her that resurrection is dangerous for her soul. She was, however, impressed with the offering of gold her friends had put up to revive her, and offered to return Uli to life. Uli agreed, citing that she still had things to do, and that Mount Celestia felt too perfect for her.
Uli returned to her body in shocking fashion, hit anew with the fear and pain she felt at the moment of her death. Some of the damage would never heal through normal means (-1 Con/-1Cha, mechanically) and Uli found that she had a reduced capacity to eat. She also lacked a strong sense of taste and smell. The party rested in a meditation chamber of the Temple for an hour. They were silent for some time, but eventually emotions boiled over. Uli apologized as best she could, but did not meet the strong emotions of the rest of the group.
Upon leaving the temple, the party's main concern was the safety of Arrold, who had helped them with knowledge about Annah Sylveste, a halfling wizard who they were sure meant them harm through the Assassin's Guild. On the way, Ireni made a blood sacrifice to the Queen of the Depths, Umberlee, and Vani stopped briefly into the temple of Yondalla as they traveled through the temple district.
The Rift Walkers then headed to the Foamtop tavern and convinced Arrold to quit his job and move to the adventurer's guild to keep him safe. Arrold was convinced after casting detect magic and noticing a scrying eye in the air around the party. Vani grabbed his important items before rushing out.
The party got cleaned up at the Adventurer's Guild, and Kaneza put Arrold to work on odd jobs. Uli's dog, Maximus II, didn't take to his old master because of her different appearance and smell.
The next day, the party contacted Patches, who took them to a forgery workshop disguised as a fish drying shop. For a fee, he used high-quality parchment and ink to add authenticity to the Gilded Demon's signature. With this document, the party just barely managed to convince the Kenku securing the rift that they were there on "Lady Opal"'s orders, granting them 3 days of access to the rift.
Illokas, the demonologist and planar investigator that had gotten them , joined them on their invitation and followed them into the rift warehouse. The party began investigating. Vani noticed a strange blip inside the rift and approached it. She kept moving closer to the blip, which turned out to be invisible to everyone else there. Vani was impacted by a vision of someone falling into water while clutching something in their hand, followed by the image of an enormous wave swallowing up the world, emanating from the south of the world near the Moonshaes isles. Vani drew the vision, and Ireni realized that when she was knocked from her ship before she became a water genasi, she was clutching a piece of her ship railing. Yuna used the canister developed by the Volgs and captured a small, seahorse like creature from the rift inside of it.
Despite the cautioning of the rest of the party , Vani kept investigating the rift, moving closer and closer until she could have inclined her head and touched its core. Her consciousness connected with the Far Realm, and Vani realized she could tap into the very stuff of the cosmos at the risk of her psyche. She willed herself to look into the truth behind the rifts, and why they were cropping up in the first place.
Vani was taken to millions of years in the past, when the world was an unformed soup of potential. A race of eel-like creatures were the first entities to exist, and sculpted the world around them with their minds. As new races emerged, along with their gods, the world was given a newfound physicality and structure that saw these original creatures' powers wane. This old world was far larger than the one Vani knew; more technically advanced, safer, and with far more vibrant art and culture, supporting a population many times larger than current civilizations.
For a millennia, the aquatic creatures schemed to return the world back to its nascent state and regain their old power. Eventually, the waged a lengthy campaign to control sites of planar intersection and hordes of magical items to orchestrate the collapse of multiverse back into its primordial state. Covert action culminated in a years long war against the mortal world, with the sea creatures fielding armies of constructs, thralls, and magically bound extraplanar entities to do their bidding. When the stars were right, the creatures sent precise magical surges through the places of power around the planes, tearing the fabric of space and time itself.
Just enough of their plan was disrupted by the efforts of countless heroes to stop total dissolution of the universe. The consequences of these rifts being opened were dire, however; billions died, and the world was irrevocably reshaped. It would take another millennia for the scraps of the mortal races to begin to gain a foothold again, now in a more isolated, treacherous world that bore little resemblance to the realms of their ancestors.
Vani saw that the creatures were simply biding their time to finish the job, this time taking great pains to remain unchecked and reconsolidate their power. They began whispering to mortals, prompting the creation of the now long dead queendom of Junia. The city is serving as some sort of focus or beacon that is integral to the creatures' plans.
Vani emerged from her trance roiling with energy from the Far Realm, her mind almost shattered by the contact. Her body was broken down and reassembled from its smallest elements before catching purple fire and sending a catatonic Vani tumbling to the floor on the precipice of death.
The party saw to Vani, but she awoke to see Yuna without skin, Belial standing over Jade, the tattered glow of Uli's soul, and Irini sporting the visage of one of the aquatic monsters that had so nearly brought ruin to the world. It took much effort to calm her down and assure her that Irini was not some sort of agent of these creatures. She began drawing in her sketchbook, filling in a map of a world that hasn't existed for a million years and sketching out one of the monsters she'd seen.
Illokas had been taking notes on this phenomenon, which prompted a hostile reaction from Vani. Eventually, she let him continue taking notes and the party filled him in on the more current problem of Annah Slyveste. Illokas said he would study the rift while the party saw to the immediate danger. He also lent them a wand of dispel magic (5 charges, regains 1d4 at dawn). Unfortunately, he had no idea what the creature in Vani's sketchbook was.
The highly rattled party then went to go see Kess, trying to get the hunter's guild leader on their side. She was hardly convinced, and finally agreed to cooperation of the party slew the Catoblepas without her help, not wanting to lose any more of her hunters to the beast. She bade the party to bring her the monster's head as proof they'd done the deed.
Next, the party traveled to meet Brunnar Ulk to see how his investigation was proceeding, but Yuna spotted the boy that had been following Uli a few days before tailing them. They caught the boy and interrogated him in an alley, no easy task since he had clearly been trained to resist interrogation; he also lacked a tounge. He tried to attack the party numerous times, and was eventually stripped of a vial of poison, an assassin's guild coin, and a small knife. He was eventually coerced to draw a sketch of Annah, a rift insect, and said rift insect inside the eye socket of a skull. The party split up to bring the evidence to the Barristers' guild while the other half discussed ways to transport the boy to the guildhall without being stopped.
They had spent too long deciding on a course of action, however, and a man in a cloak passed by the alley and sent a poisoned crossbow bolt into the child's neck. Frustrated, the group made for the Courtesan's guild, hoping to get some support from Rommeni, who they knew to be a Planetar of Sune, the goddess of beauty.
After Uli's scar prompted her to hand out a makeup voucher, they had trouble getting a direct pledge of cooperation from Rommeni, who saw the rift as having as much potential as danger held within it. Vani showed Rommeni her map of the old world; as an angel, she might have existed during that time. Rommeni grew distant and full of awe, as if trying to remember something splendid. She suddenly became very receptive to the idea of guarding the rift, muttering to herself about what she'd do to protect it. Vani asked her to go ahead and protect it, but as she began a transformation into her angel form, a rose-quartz colored planetar with peacock-styled wings, everyone quickly realized she meant to protect it by levelling Priem and letting no one near it for miles.
Frantic pleading and shouting began, with even Belial yelling at Jade in panic to stop her. Irini begged the planetar not to act, as in doing so she would be destroying much beauty in the process, pointing to Yuna. Yuna just managed to keep her composure against the angel's gaze, and her wrath was averted. A bitter and cold Rommeni bade the party to leave, saying she would be present if they called a guild meeting.
Their minds burdened with the potential of assassination, divine wrath, and the complete dissolution of the multiverse, the Rift Walkers proceeded to go cash in their makeup coupon.
Could these creatures truly have survived for millennia, ready once again to try and reduce the multiverse to a primordial state? How much have they studied and gained mastery over the Far Realm in the meantime?