Aphonion Tales: Ravenskrag and the Shadowline, a preteen D&D game (lightly edited notes, COMPLETED on 1/20/23)


[Session 54, cont'd]
At the bottom of the stairs, the passage goes south or west, so they head west, hoping it will lead them northward. They soon find a door to the north and can hear murmured conversation behind it. Merreep cannot understand their language.

Ulgorio listens at the door, and while he can't fully understand the language, he gets the gist of the conversation--they are arguing about who lost the head, apparently discussing a literal head. He thinks it must be a decapitated head, but he's not certain. He also periodically hears a swishing sound. While the argument is continuing, it doesn't seem to be escalating.

They adopt the same disguise of prisoners with an escorting troll-giant as the last time, and then just walk through the door, proceeding casually through the room. As they pass through the room, they see two large snake people--yuan ti abominations--arguing. One of them points at the group. "You there! Did you see a head rolling around out there?"

"No, nothing like that."

"You must have lost our lunch then!" one of the creatures says to the other.

"I did not lose it! You must have eaten it."

"Have a good day. Good luck figuring out where your lunch went." The group continues making their way through the room.

"Wait a minute. You people. Are you carrying any food?"

"A little, not much."

"Any food's better than no food. We're not supposed to... wait a minute. Aren't you a servant of Banahog?"

"Aleep does not serve Banahog! For the last time, he's not one of those."

"Well, I guess if you've got some food..."

"I don't know why, brother, just pass the head."

"So I would, but the head is missing! We'll take what they've got."

Runor quickly casts create food. "I'll make some some food."

"Thank you. We'll worry about the head later. Now, we'll eat!" They proceed to eat the created food with more gusto than Runor has ever seen anyone show for created food before.

With the abominations fully occupied eating, they make their way out of the chamber.

They continue north along a long passageway. There is the odor of blood and decay, along with broken weapons and fragments of flesh, as from a recent battle, as a side passage goes off to the west. They ignore it and continue north.

They reach the end of the passageway, where there is a crystal door, which can clearly slide into a pocket in the wall. When Merreep touches it, she hears a chime and a voice in her mind that says, <<The prisoner is in need of a redactor.>> The voice speaks in Eldar.

Merreep tries to slide it again, and the chime sounds again, and she hears, again in Eldar, <<Identification?>>

She repeats that to the rest of the group. Runor says, "I could identify it with my hammer..."

"No! No more hammering on doors."

They discuss whether they should try to open the door. It is, after all, apparently a door to a prison cell. Whether that's good or bad depends on what the prisoner is like.

After some discussion, Merreep decides to ask the door how to get to the Matrix.

The door chimes and then speaks aloud. "West and then north to the presence chamber. The prisoner requires a redactor. The prisoner is not well. The prisoner has not moved in 52,000 days."

Runor says, "I can check on the prisoner, but it sounds like the prisoner might be dead."

"I am not qualified to judge whether biological entities are dead."

"Has he been given food to eat?"


"Then he is dead."

"People stopped coming to the prisoner many, many years ago."

"Maybe he teleported away."

"I would not permit him to teleport away. The founders directed me not to let him teleport away."

"Then he's probably fairly bad..."

"He turned against the Creator."

"Well, it's good he's dead then," says Runor, much to Merreep's disapproval.

"I was not to kill him. I was told to restrain him and not allow him to escape."

The group discusses this for a bit, realizing that this is probably a drow who serves Morgrath.

"Do Aleep's friends wish to ask door if they can see dead prisoner?"

Merreep says, "I'd rather not see the dead prisoner..."

"He might have some important stuff on him," responds Runor. "Also, I might need to do ritual to sanctify his corpse. That's not a clear thing, since he was evil, but there's still a body. Or maybe a skeleton after 150 years or so."

"Door, did the prisoner have anything important with him?"

"Yes, it bore special equipment. It also carried considerable wealth. It thought I could not tell the difference between a servant of the Creator and a servant of the Destroyer. It was very wrong. It entered, and I followed the commandment and sealed it in."

"Aleep thinks that if it had considerable wealth, Aleep's friends might be able to use that to fight the Shadow."

The group agrees, and Ashaltir steps forward to the door.

Ashaltir indicates that she is a servant of Eiru, and the door opens on a small cell, albeit a once nice one. Seated in a chair, holding a beautiful crystal sword and wearing crystal armor that glows with the color of amethyst, a cloak of elven kind, and a sigil on its left breast, is a tall elegant elven skeleton. There are many interesting shadows in here that don't seem to reflect the light properly.

Ashaltir detects evil, and finds that the shadows are evil, particularly the main one coming off from the skeleton. The shadows suddenly begin sweeping forward.

Ulgorio stabs a shadow with his rapier, doing a small amount of damage, less than he would have expected. Aleep blasts two of the shadows with a lightning bolt, dealing 30 to each and dissipating two of them. One of the shadows drains 3 points of Strength from Aleep, while the others miss.

Merreep stabs one, doing some more damage. Bartix hits the greater one, dealing 12 damage, and then again, for 10 damage. Ashaltir strikes the greater shadow with a holy smite, dissipating it.

Ulgorio stabs a shadow with his rapier. Aleep disengages and moves back. A shadow hits Ulgorio, and drains 2 points of Strength. Another misses Ashaltir. Merreep stabs one for 8, and then misses. Bartix clobbers the badly weakened one and destroys it, and then moves and strikes the last one for 6. Runor strikes it with a sacred flame, dealing 3. Ashaltir smites it, and it is destroyed.

They are now in the room with the dead elf.

Merreep recognizes the sigil on the elf's breast as House Moriquendarim, with the Argoni subfaction--the slavers.

They recover a huge amount of wealth: 7000 sp, 150 pp, a vessel made entirely of a black high glass, with small diamond chips inset that looks like it was intended to carry a thin, rectangular object; a magical ring set with three pearls, and a greater cloak of elvenkind. His armor and weapon are made of some form of crystal. The ring is a ring of limited wishes, with three wishes available.

Runor takes the sword and gets a very interesting look on his face. Aleep sees him standing there with a strange expression, and casts protection from evil. The spell has no apparent effect.

[The sword is a Laen +3 Greatsword. IQ 18, EGO: 20 Aligned with the House of Moriquendi'rim and devoted to the purposes of the head of the Aragoni Faction. It contains the ability 3/week to cast a 14 dice lightning bolt. They just put it in the bag, but the armor was even more powerful... but even more likely to overpower the will of anyone who wore it.]

They remove the armor from the skeleton, and put it into a bag. The skeleton crumbles to dust.
[End session 54]

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Session 55 (November 20, 2022)

21 Chund (cont'd)
The group leaves the prison cell, traveling south perhaps 40 feet, and then turning west in the hope of then going north again. As hoped, the corridor hooks north almost immediately, and then comes to aan end with a door to the west. It is a stone door, a sliding door made of the same stone as the walls. It is locked, or at least does not move when pushed on.

They wait and listen at the door, and then at the back of the group, they hear, "what have we here? A dwarf, elves, and humans. You there. Short-stuff. Who are you?"


"A good name to conjure with."

"Spelled exactly how it's spelled."

"What are you doing here?"

"A better question is what you are doing here?"

"We are mercenaries, being paid a great deal to be here."

Runor turns around to see who has been addressing him from over his shoulder. He sees three large floating fleshy globes with masses of tentacles hanging down from underneath their bodies.

Merreep asks, "If you're mercenaries, who do you work for?"

"Oh, this high priest fellow, the one who's trying to sacrifice everything to gain control of something that won't be affected by sacrifices, not that we tell him that."

One of the others says, "You would think that after sacrificing fifty he would realize it was futile."

"I'm not sure it's entirely futile--one of the great elven matrices might be corrupted by enough sacrifices of lesser beings," the biggest one says. "However, I am almost sure my contract says that we are to kill and eat you. The eating part is particularly distressing."

Runor nods. "Dwarves are stringy."

"You understand what I'm saying! And elves have that unpleasant ancient blood. So the question is: what might you be able to do to persuade us to not kill you and eat you?"

Ulgorio says, "How about 250 of those platinum coins?"

"Yes, for 250 platinum we could avoid you for 30 minutes, and tell you what's behind the door."

"Could you tell us how to get to the matrix room?"

"Ah, you are not sacrifices, but come to rescue it. For 250 platinum, yes, we could do that."

"Can you also tell us how to deal with threats on the way out?"

"You could not possibly be foolish enough to come out the way you came in. You will take the apportation pad in the chamber if you rescue it. We can explain how to find that as well."

"How can we trust you if we hand over the money?"

"Lord Paranswarm would not approve if we broke our word to a priest of the Light. Lord Paranswarm is after all a God of Law."

After some discussion, they hand over the bag of platinum, though Runor is concerned that it may not actually be 250 pp--in fact, it is only 150 pp. Fortunately, the mercenary flumphs do not count it at all.

"Beyond this door, there is an empty room. First, you must find and open the secret door in the north wall. Then travel along the corridor, ignoring the side passages, until it ends at a large chamber. That room has a fire spray trap in it that covers most of the room, though not the very westernmost section. There is an exit to the west, but you do not want to take that. You must exit to the north. After that, ..." The creatures continue explaining the path to the matrix room for a long time, as well as drawing a map for them to see how they will need to go.

"Aleep will feel very bad if we leave behind the giant friends by teleporting out, but there may be no choice."

"We did make a promise to them," Runor says. "But we might be able to come back for them or something."

With the briefing done, the creatures float away, promising the group half an hour in peace to seek the matrix room.

After Runor bangs on the door for a while with his hammer, something snaps, and it slides open. The room is empty except for a dais in front of a banner with a seven pointed star in the southwest corner and a dragon statue in the north.

"Aleep wonders if dragon statue is key to open secret door." He begins to fiddle with the dragon statue, and it starts to glow very slightly. Merreep approaches it, and it starts to glow slightly more.

Runor notes that there are marks on the floor where it has been shoved to the west. Ulgorio believes that it is glowing because it is psionically active, and likely attuned to elves. He thinks there is a passphrase in Elven.

Aleep suggests that they look for whether that is written somewhere in the room. Ulgorio looks around, and finds a glowing sentence written beneath the elven banner. Merreep reads it aloud, in Elven, and the dragon rolls aside, revealing an opening. It said, in translation, "For the defense of the border, open the way."

They come to the next room which is where they expect the fire spray trap. They get burned, some for 10, and some for 21.

Ulgorio calls out to the door on the north wall to ask it to open. It warns them that there is danger ahead, and then says "Kill them." The door slides open. They can see two clay statues, one a vrock, one something they do not recognize, that start moving. The group rushes across as fast as they can, and exits north while the statues say "Halt. Intruders." The group exits before the statues can reach them. They can hear behind them "Intruders missing. Reset."

They enter a room with a crystal altar, with runes on it in elven. It glows slightly. Scattered in front of it are bones, adamantine armor and weapons, and the skeleton of a yuan-ti abomination. The altar is on the east wall. They were warned that none dare touch the altar, and that those who read the runes are cursed to laugh continuously until they die, so they stay well clear of it. They take a short rest to heal up, huddling on the west wall. The door out on the west slides up, which they have not seen before.

<<What do you seek?>> transmits the door.

"The Matrix?" says Runor. "But for the people who made it, not the ones who try to steal it."

<<Your purposes are pure. Present your blood.>>

"Is there an opt out?" asks Runor. "I'd rather give you my blood at a later time."

<<How do we know that you're not one of the invaders? I must see that it is red. We remember.>>

"What other color would blood be?"

<<A clear yellow.>>

"Oh, yeah, that's very weird."

<<That's true, but we remember.>>

They each prick a finger and show that they bleed red.

<<Good luck, my children. We will wait for you.>>

"We're actually going to go a different way, so we won't be back," says Runor.

<<Yes, you will go a different way, but we will go with you.>>

"Ah, that's why the enemy can't compel this one at all," says Aleep. "It's controlled directly by the Matrix--it's really part of the Matrix."

The door slides up, and they see a yuan-ti abomination--a huge snake like creature, with arms like a humanoid's-- in the next room, reclining and reading a book. It moves to attack and they rush it.

Bartix strikes it for 6 damage. Ulgorio stabs it with his rapier, doing 4 damage. Merreep hits it with her bow, after Hunter's Marking it, dealing 14 damage and 11 damage.

The abomination unleashes two scimitar strikes at Bartix and a poison spit at Merreep. Both scimitar strikes miss, but the poison spray hits Merreep and does 27 points of poison damage. "Intruders! Enemies! Die!"

Aleep casts Scorching Ray, missing with two bolts and doing 7 points of fire damage with the third.

Runor casts Guardian of Faith, placing it directly in front of it.

Ashaltir smites it for 17 points of damage.

Bartix hits it for 9. Ulgorio misses.

Merreep shoots it for 10 and 12. The abomination is now bloodied.

The abomination moves forward into the Guardian of Faith, dodging and taking 10 radiant damage. It lashes with two scimitars at Ashaltir, dealing 16 + 12 points of poison, and then spitting at Merreep, dealing 20 points more of poison.

Aleep casts magic missile, dealing 13 points of damage.

Runor unleashes a 14d6 lightning bolt at it from the crystal greatsword, inflicting 43 points of damage.

Ashaltir swings and misses.

Bartix hits it again with his longsword, dealing 8 damage. Ulgorio stabs it for 4 damage.

Merreep shoots it again, for 12 damage and 9 damage, and then runs around behind it and away.

The yuan-ti casts a cone of fear on Aleep, Ashaltir, and Runor. Aleep makes the DC 15 save, Ashaltir fails, and Runor saves. Ashaltir flees in terror, running out of the room and continuing to run. She is almost certainly killed by the clay golemim.

They all hear in their mind, <<Master, I've failed you. Come quickly.>>

Aleep casts a magic missile, dealing 11 points of damage.

Runor stabs it with the greatsword, inflicting 16 damage to a creature with 1 hp left.

The group dashes through the room, though Aleep grabs the book it was reading.

They run through the north door, and push into the matrix room. Aleep readies a fireball to cast as soon as the door to the room opens. Aleep deals 29 damage to the two pureblood yuan-ti, killing them both, and dealing 14 to the yuan-ti priest.

As the priest turns towards them in surprise, they see that he has a variety of torture implements, and is standing just in front of a stone sacrificial altar. The yuan-ti really can't see beyond their own construct, so they are sacrificing things to the matrix.

They also see a panel set with a large set of crystals, all of which glow softly, to the north, and a line around that at a distance of ten feet with various bones just inside the line including yuan-ti pure-blood bones.

Bartix dashes in and attacks it with his sword, dealing 4 damage, and again for 7 damage. Ulgorio rolls a crit, and deals 9 damage. Merreep shoots it with her bow, killing the priest next to its two pureblood servants. The matrix begins flashing with excitement, while red light begins flashing in the air. Merreep slides the whole matrix into the matrix carrier from the Noldor. It glows happily. Meanwhile, the rest of the group smashes through the bricked up doorway to the north. They dash forward and see an apportation pad, like the ones they have seen before, glowing with power.

They look at a map of nodes on a teleport network. The map and labels are different from the previous network they've used, although "The City" and "The Overlook" appear on both. They decide to open a portal to "The City." Just as they ask the Matrix to open a portal to the City, the flashing red glow behind them flashes to solid red light, and they can hear footsteps behind them as they teleport out.

They reappear in the sand-blown city that they refer to as The Faraway. A guard in armor leaps to his feet in shock, and then recognizes the party. "We've guarded this space were the portal once was for very long time, and now you have come through it. We did not know if anyone would ever use it again--if anyone even could use it again."

The Matrix's voice softly says in everyone's mind, "Some of our people survive."

They all know that they have triumphed in their quest. With the Matrix, the Faraway will be able to push back the Shadow far enough to allow a connection to the sea, opening a sea route between the other lands of Zest'qua and the Faraway for the first time since the Shadow came. Yet their hearts are heavy. Merreep sits down, cradling her head in her hands, as she accepts that Ashaltir--her sister--is dead and abandoned. Aleep is thinking of the people they promised to bring with them--the people they promised to help escape--who are now left behind. Perhaps some of them will still be able to escape--all hell will break loose in the tower, with the forces of Banahog mounting a full-scale assault while the yuan-ti are disorganized, weakened, and struggling to figure out what has happened. The tower will surely soon be filled with corpses of both froglocks and yuan-ti.

Aleep thinks about the danger that would be involved in traveling back to try to recover Ashaltir's body and rescue the allies they promised to bring out with them. They might succeed--by then, the tower might be abandoned completely now that the great prize is gone. But the attempt would also be extremely hazardous, and their allies might all be like Ashaltir. There's no guarantee even the bodies would be recoverable.

Aleep holds his hand out, with the ring of limited wishes and says "Aleep wishes that the people Aleep's friends promised to bring out of Shadow and Ashaltir, whether they are alive or dead, appear here immediately by teleportation." He knows that the wish is beyond the power of a limited wish--the mass teleport spell itself is beyond the power of a limited wish, and this is a more powerful effect than a mass teleport. But despite that, Aleep believes that he must try. The ring glows, and then shakes, and then with a flash the room and some of the surrounding rooms are filled with everyone they promised to bring back. Ashaltir's crushed body lies on the floor at Merreep's feet, and Runor immediately begins making preparations to raise Ashaltir. And all three pearls on the ring crumble to dust, followed immediately by the ring itself.

[Here ends the adventures of this doughty group of heroes. We presume they continue exploring the network of teleport points, and that they may eventually try to take on the vampire lord, but that will not happen on screen. The players of Ulgorio and Bartix had decided to move on from this group, and so we wrapped up the campaign here, at a satisfying stopping point with the accomplishment of a major goal. The characters just hit 9th level with the XP from this session.

We may return to them at some point in the future, more likely for one-offs than for sustained campaigns, but we'll see. In the meantime, the players of Merreep and Runor, along with me playing a different quasi-PC/quasi-NPC, have begun a new campaign with some new players and the same DM, on a different continent of the world. I'll start that storyhour next week, and I'll drop a link in this thread.]

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