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Erkonin (Campaign #2) [Session 10: Sleepy Cow Town]

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
This is based on notes taken by a player in a 5E campaign I've been DMing for just over a year, as I start this thread. We game every two weeks; I'll be posting every week until I catch up with the campaign. I'll be attaching documents to the entries where they become relevant. You'll be finding out about Erkonin (the world) and Urnod (the continent) about the same pace as the players--it'll be cool, I promise.

Session 1: The Feast of Stars

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger
Elama - Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk
Elderon - High Elf Wizard

GM: - Everyone Else

Feast of Stars, 749 (Campaign day 1)

We arrived at Tashimeet, the caravanserai in the Knot on the road to Tash, either individually (Vinya Anar and Elderon) or together (Aldalómiel and Elama) in time for dinner at the Tashimeet inn and dining room.

The courtyard of the caravanserai had many carts in it -- indicating that there were several groups of traders and travelers in the inn.

In honor of the feasting and generosity of the season, the innkeeper Urlocka had laid out a huge spread, with a buffet serving all manner of meats and several non-meat dishes. The cost of the all-you can eat meal was low, the beer, wine and mead were freely on tap, and the tables were packed.

There was a long L-shaped table with humans sitting together. A small table had a few dwarves who looked like smiths. Another table was seated with halflings and rock gnomes. There were some free seats at the bar at the back of the room and one small table near the entrance (and the cold blast of air that washed in every time someone entered or left).

When they entered, Aldalómiel and Elama sat there and waited to be served. Elderon went to the bar when he entered the inn, passing the buffet and the tables with feasting people. Vinya Anar, the last to arrive, was heading back toward the bar when she heard Urlocka mention something about a letter to the two elves sitting at the table nearest the entrance (Aldalómiel and Elama).

She turned around and walked back to the table.

Vinya: A letter? Sorry to intrude, but I got a letter as well.

We compared the letters we had received and they were all the same.

Vinya: Are you in charge of the whole caravanserai?

Urlocka: No. Saeno runs the place. You can usually find him at the inn.

Before Vinya could head over to the inn (on the other side of the Tashimeet courtyard) Urlocka went on.

Urlocka: A gentleman back at the bar, another elf, was asking if I knew anything about the letters.

Vinya, to Aldalómiel and Elama: I’ll see if he wants to join us.

Vinya headed back to the bar to talk to the elf back there and ask him. His letter was, indeed, the same as the ones that the others had received. Vinya pointed out to him that at the far end of the bar were two more people who had received them and maybe we had something to talk about. Or maybe we should be together. We started heading back toward the table where the others sat.

As we were walking back, a dwarf in studded leather, accompanied by five humans with shortbows out (and arrows on the bowstrings, but the strings not drawn) and a thing that looked like a sphere or globe with teeth and long skinny legs, entered the inn. The sphere thing was gibbering and making a lot of chaotic and distracting noise.

Dwarf, addressing the whole room: We know things. It came to us that in this season of sharing, we should share the things we know with you.

He began to speak with the cadence and timbre of a pulpit-pounding sermon. Initially he switched between common and dwarvish, sentence by sentence. As he got into his speech, the language changes became more chaotic, phrase by phrase, word by word. More languages, unfamiliar ones, were introduced. He began changing languages even within words.

Vinya didn’t recognize most of the languages, but she did notice that she never heard anything in Celestial, a language she had learned recently but well, in his gibberish diatribe.

Elama, to the bowman immediately behind her: Could you put your bow down, please? I’m feeling threatened.

The bowman didn’t move.

Urlocka stepped forward: Let the people eat in peace. If you want food, we have food.

In response to her words and her offer, one of the archers took a shot at her, burying an arrow into her upper chest. She was hurt, but did not get knocked down or out.

At that, Vinya jumped onto the table the halflings and gnomes were eating at, ran across with a shouted apology to the diners she’d disrupted, and leapt at one of the archers, swinging with her staff and punching. Two of the bowmen dropped their bows and drew swords to attack her while the rest of them stepped to put their backs against the wall. Elama was able to attack the one that had been standing right behind her as he moved away and he slumped back against the wall.

The gibbering sound from the sphere-on-stilts (a Starspawn Grue, and I shall call it that from now on) was distracting and it wore at our nerves. It appeared to be wearing at the nerves of the archers and distracting them as well.

Aldalómiel drew a pair of short swords and moved into battle with one of the archers, dropping him.

The civilians in the room took cover in various ways. The halflings and gnomes threw their table onto its side and took cover behind it. The humans and dwarves cowered under their tables. Elderon discreetly cast a spell on one of the archers. Urlocka ran toward the doorway that led to the back room (which had a door to the bar).

The dwarf preacher said something in Gibberish and a strange radiance flickered around Elama.

The gibbering Starspawn Grue attacked Elama and when it hit her she shouted in Elvish and lightning sparked out of the wound, coruscating around the spherical body.

Vinya, swinging with her quarterstaff and landing a well-placed kick to the throat, dropped the two that were attacking her.

Things were looking good, then the one remaining archer went to the door.

Archer, shouting into the cold night: Drocklin! We need you!

We didn’t know who Drocklin was or what his arrival would mean, except that it would probably not be good. Aldalómiel took advantage of the moment of quiet to draw her bow and shoot the Grue. When her arrow hit, it gave out an ear-piercing gibbery shriek before imploding on itself. With the Grue’s gibbering ended, and the preacher no longer expounding in many languages all at once, it seemed like a moment of quiet had settled.

The dwarf preacher was not thrilled about the situation, but wasn’t giving up either. He said something in gibberish again and we could see the wounds on the one remaining archer knit up a bit. Then the strange radiance flickered around Elderon but didn’t seem to really touch him.

The moment was shattered when Drocklin, a brawny human male with a club in his right hand, along with three more cultists entered the room. Drocklin’s left forearm and hand were replaced by a long, writhing tentacle. We could also see another gibbering Grue back there and the noise took up wearing the skin off our nerves where the other one had left off.

Vinya moved right up to Drocklin.

Vinya: You don’t want to bother these people.

He just gibbered at her in many languages and it was clear to her that he was too far gone to listen to reason. So she hit him with her quarterstaff and a punch to the solar plexus.

Aldalómiel backed away so she could fight more effectively with her longbow and tried to take out the preacher, in the hopes that without him the others would be at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed.

Elama cast a spell with a crack of thunder and a rolling shockwave that dropped the preacher and one of the cultists and pushed the rest of them out the door and into the courtyard. She then moved to the door and looked outside. She could see the three cultists in the courtyard, along with the second Grue. She could also hear a voice from the inn across the courtyard -- a sermon in many languages.

Great.

She shut the door of the inn.

With the door closed, the Grue’s gibbering was mercifully silenced for a while. Unfortunately, Drocklin’s gibbering was not silenced and his babbling was tearing at Vinya’s concentration and mental health.

The fight continued, with all of us getting in some good hits. Elderon’s frostbite spell didn’t do a lot of damage, but it froze the opponents and made it harder for them to hit through their shivering. That was golden.

Elama tried to keep the cultists, and the Grue, in the courtyard out but they shoved open the door despite her efforts. As the new combatants arrived, Aldalómiel shot Drocklin through the eye, dropping him and ending one source of the gibbering distraction.

Vinya took a swing at one of the wounded cultists and dropped him and then whirled around and kicked the grue and hit him. The other two cultists, also distracted and bothered by the incessant noise from the Grue, missed her

Vinya, to the cultists: Your little friend is hurting you as much as it’s hurting us. You need to reconsider your choice of companions.

The battle continued with everyone getting in hits. Ultimately the Grue attacked Vinya and dropped her. One of the cultists stepped over her body to attack Elama but didn’t hit her. Aldalómiel immediately shot the one that stepped forward to attack and he never had a chance to regret his poor tactical choice.

After some more chaos and battle, the only remaining opponent was the Grue, gibbering at us.

Elderon, still back behind where the halflings were hiding behind their table, heard Urlocka running through the room toward the front, then shot a firebolt at the Grue, but missed in all the chaos.

The Grue, still with Vinya’s blood on its teeth, attacked Elama and almost dropped her as well, but, though the teeth pierced her flesh, she wasn’t dropped.

Elderon’s firebolt a moment or two later hit the Grue -- which caught fire and then imploded in a puff of flame and smoke.

Urlocka ran to Vinya and poured a healing potion down her throat.

As Vinya stood up, thanking Urlocka, we all took a moment to catch our breath. Then Elama listened outside and heard the gibberish preaching at the inn still going on. When she told us about it, Urlocka went pale.

Urlocka: Saeno…

We started heading in that direction, making sure to arrive at the inn as a group.

We got to the doorway and saw a dwarf standing with his back to the inn’s counter preaching in gibberish and really holding forth. Against the wall near the counter was a human male who looked stunned or charmed or transfixed. He wasn’t moving he was just staring glassily at the preacher. Scattered around the room were three cultists, listening to the crazy sermon, two Grues doing beachball things and one burly guy with an arm-tentacle lashing around his legs listening as well.

Aldalómiel positioned herself by the door so she could shoot arrows. Vinya ran straight to the preacher to try and stop the gibberish sermon as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that put her in range for the preacher to cast something on her -- her muscles locked up and she was held. Elderon took that as a cue to target the preacher, trying to break his concentration on the spell.

The cultists and one of the Grues attacked Aldalómiel and Elama. The other Grue went to Vinya, who had enough problems dealing with the preacher -- particularly when she shook off the paralysis from the first spell only to be immediately caught in another hold person spell.

Vinya, thinking to herself because she couldn’t speak: At least he’s not doing anything worse. And he’s stopped preaching.

The tentacle-armed guy ran up to Elderon but fortunately the Grues’ distracting gibber affected him as well and he missed with his attacks against the wizard.

After some missed attacks and minor damage, Elderon saw an opportunity and cast burning hands -- getting the tentacle-armed guy and two of the cultists in a spray of fire without catching either Elama or Aldalómiel. The two cultists dropped, smoking slightly. The tentacle guy turned to Elderon and attacked but, still distracted by the incessant nerve jangling gibbering from the Grues, missed.

The gibbering abated some when Aldalómiel killed one of the Grues -- which was a double-edged blade, helping us and our opponents concentrate better. Vinya finally shook off the preacher’s hold person and turned to stare at him with a cold look. The preacher ignored her and cast sacred flame on Aldalómiel.

Elama, still badly injured from the fight in the tavern, stayed near the wall and drew down holy fire on the cultists, doing some damage and staying out of the line of fire, until the preacher brought his own sacred flame to her -- fortunately she was able to dodge out of the way.

In doing so, one of the cultists found an opening and stabbed her with his short sword. Again lightning crackled out from her wound and up the sword and the arm of the attacker. Elama was left reeling, almost collapsed from her injuries, but so was the cultist that attacked her.

The guy with the tentacle arm focused his attacks on Aldalómiel, leaving her badly injured and barely on her feet. Fortunately her two attacks dropped him.

The remaining cultist and Grue were dispatched with Elama’s sacred flames and Elderon’s firebolt spells and Vinya’s quarterstaff. Leaving the preacher still standing his ground and intermittently preaching in gibberish.

Aldalómiel, really pissed, ran to the preacher and attacked him ferociously with her two swords, skewering him through multiple vital organs and dropping him to the ground.

In the quiet that settled as the last foe fell, the person who had been standing looking stunned or something by the wall shook his head. That turned out to be Saeno, the owner (or perhaps manager) of Tashimeet caravanserai, unharmed except for some lost time and perhaps some odd dreams and strange ideas in unfamiliar languages lingering in his head for a while.

In the aftermath, we took a moment to introduce ourselves to each other. Elama (“Lamie”) Galanodel from up north of The Knot had met Aldalómiel, from somewhere in the mountains to the east, while traveling. When they learned that they both had received the same letter they began to travel together and became friends. Vinya Anar travelled to The Knot from New Arvai, arriving a few days before the Feast of Stars and staying at Turlnorra’s caravanserai until the date the letter said to be at Tashimeet. Elderon travelled up from the wizard colleges in Pelsoreen.

We were given two rooms in the inn on the house, but before we went to bed we had some stuff to do.

Vinya asked Saeno if he knew any of the people. He said that he might have seen the preacher come around once before. They arrived by cart just at sunset -- the gates were open to all travellers during the day and closed shortly after they arrived. No one was able to report whether they’d been acting crazy when they arrived.

They did have a cart, and we asked Saeno to have someone keep an eye on it during the night in case there were further surprises. And to prevent anyone from looting it before we could.

We checked over the bodies before helping take them to the smithy (where there was a very hot fire that could be used to burn them) and found that the two preachers had symbols, worn like a cleric’s holy symbol, in the form of eleven rings nested together that pivoted and gimballed around in different, seemingly random, orientations. Vinya took one of those in case it might be useful later. The burly guys with tentacle arms had tattoos with a similar vibe -- nested concentric circles with opposed pairs of breaks at random points, like the gimbals on the clerics’ symbols -- around their tentacle arms. There was nothing of interest on the cultists. None of them had any papers or anything to indicate what they were doing.

The holy symbol and the tattoos sparked something in Elderon’s memory and he pulled up something about the Hunger Between Worlds or the Outer Chaos, but beyond the name he didn’t have much immediately in memory.

Because of some recent rain and the cold, we did figure out that we’d be able to backtrail the wagon, at least until traffic on the road muddied up the tracks.

With the wagon secure and the bodies in the smithy to be burned in turn, we went to the tavern. Vinya finally had bean soup. We talked to the other people there -- none of them had received a strange letter directing them to be at Tashimeet. We four were the only ones.

After eating something, we went to the rooms we’d been given and crashed. We slept until the next morning without any problems.

1 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 2)

The next morning, we got up and searched the wagon the group of cultists had arrived in, hoping to find further information about where they came from and what they were doing. The wagon was a fairly typical merchant wagon for the area. Saeno confirmed that there was nothing obviously unusual about it.

The first thing we found was a chest containing some coinage and some magical items.

In the wagon we also found a journal. It started as a normal merchant journal or log, recording trades made, routes taken, occasionally troubles encountered on the road. The book was fairly new and didn’t show a lot of trading history but we could learn that the traders were on the way from Tash to Auriqua.

Partway into the journal several pages were ripped out. The next page read (in Common):

I stepped into the machine and
after I stopped screaming
I saw things more clearly​

It was apparent that writing this was a struggle -- many words had been initially written in different languages and were crossed out and written in Common. Sometimes this took several tries. The handwriting was the same, though more forced and deliberate, as the trading log part of the book.

Elama questioned the wisdom of going to Auriqua, up in the north, in the middle of winter, then we noticed that there were runners on the undercarriage of the wagon and the wheels were removable -- they would be able to convert it to a sledge when they encountered snowy ground.

The last lucid entries in the journal referenced towns along the road to Tash, which headed to the North-East out of the Knot.

We ended with Lamie (Elama), pack on her back, at the gates of Tashimeet, bouncing on her toes waiting impatiently for us to go backtrack these guys toward Tash.
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 2: Hungry Wolves and Things That Gibber

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter
Mia - Firbolg Druid

GM: - Everyone Else

1 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 2) (that same morning)

As Elama waited impatiently at the gates of the caravanserai, Aldalómiel went to see about buying herself some studded leather armor with the money we just got. Elderron disappeared for a while and returned with an owl on his shoulder and introduced it as Oda.

We got the cart and horses that the cultists had arrived in (otherwise the caravanserai would just have to take care of them) and were heading out the door when a dwarf with a big axe ran out of the inn and placed herself in front of the horses, forcing us to stop.

She then climbed into the wagon.

Marxine: I’m coming with you. I can’t let this sit.

She then took the reins from Elama, and sat down, pushing Elama to move aside.

We stared at her for a moment until she explained that her name was Marxine Deepfoot and she had been working as a guard for the caravan of dwarves (the ones at the table together in the tavern the night before). Her people were attacked and she was not there to protect them. She wanted to make that right.

We all agreed that she was welcome to join us. (We weren’t entirely sure how to get her not to come with us without making a huge big deal of it but she also seemed like she’d be a good ally.)

The roads were soft but not too mucky, so the tracks remained clear. Because of the festival and the coming of winter there wasn’t a ton of traffic on the road, so Aldalómiel, walking along in front of the horses, was able to keep us on the right path. (We stayed on the road and didn’t take any side paths, so it wasn’t too hard.) The road was surrounded by woods and forest, varying in density but always wooded with a patchy mix of deciduous and coniferous trees. Though by the winter solstice, the deciduous trees were all bare.

As we travelled we introduced ourselves and told Marxine about what we’d found in the journal in the wagon (about the machine) and the little we knew. Vinya also spent some time trying to make friends with Oda the owl, giving it tidbits of jerky.

The air was cold and there was a breeze.

The day passed with us traveling along at a gentle pace, talking and getting to know one another.

We made camp shortly before sundown -- not because we were tired, but because the horses (as yet unnamed) needed a break. Marxine, familiar with the habits and practices of the caravaneers in a way the rest of us weren’t, found a good campsite, probably one that had been used before. It was well away from a crossroads, because apparently those are dangerous at night in the wilderness.

We set watches, taking advantage of the four elves in the party and their need for only four hours of rest to keep three people on watch all night and get everyone a full night’s sleep.

Or in theory, anyway -- because halfway through the first watch, Vinya, Elama and Marxine were surprised by two stealthy ogres who snuck up on our camp.

Read that sentence again.

Vinya and Marxine were relatively close to the wagon, Lamie had taken up a position in a tree so she could see from above.

Vinya ran past the cart where the others were sleeping, whacking on the side of it with her quarterstaff and yelling “Get up” as she went by, then she went to attack the one that had snuck up on Elama. Elderron stuck his head out of the cart and fired off some magic missiles at the one that was attacking Marxine.

Vinya got tent-pegged by the one she was fighting, but fortunately Lamie was there to heal her up and do some damage with a sacred flame. The one on Marxine tried more of a golf swing, but missed.

We were further surprised when a large woman with soft, kind eyes ran out of the woods and moved behind the one on Marxine, getting into a position where both of them would have flanking.

Aldalómiel came out of the wagon and pulled out a sling (a sling?) and took a shot at the one on Lamie and Vinya.

Marxine, to the large woman: You better be on my side!!

Then Marxine took a swing with her great axe and got a great hit against the ogre they were flanking.

Vinya was dropped when one of the ogres got a great hit on her. Fortunately, the other one missed Marxine. Once again Lamie healed Vinya - getting her back on her feet.

Marxine and the large woman (we later learned her name was Mia) did great work against their ogre, doing lots of damage as they hit it from both sides.

Vinya was far less successful, repeatedly missing with her quarterstaff, but stomping on its bunions or kicking it in the shins with her unarmed attack. Vinya also got dropped again. And healed up and brought back by Elama, again.

Finally at the very end, Marxine was dropped by a mighty hit just a second before Mia killed the one they’d been fighting. Aldalómiel, having pulled her bow out, killed the one that kept dropping Vinya.

Before anyone could react, Mia shoved some berries down Marxine’s throat.

Mia: They’re very good berries.

Indeed they were, because almost immediately Marxine took a deep breath and groaned and woke up.

That’s when the woman, very tall and with the most gentle eyes and pointed ears, introduced herself to us as “Mia, Firbolg.”

Vinya: I’m Vinya Anar. This is…
Mia: Oh. Oh, no. You are Vinya. I’ll learn another name tomorrow.

Mia told us that the ogres had attacked her village - she was following them through the forest to make sure they didn’t turn back and attack it again.

Mia stayed with us for the rest of the night, watching and resting. It passed without further incident.


2 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 3)

The next morning, we set about breaking camp. Vinya wasn’t quite sure how it happened, but as we were getting ready to leave, Mia helped with the horses and there was no question that she would be traveling with us.

Marxine was once again driving. Aldalómiel walked ahead of the horses and Mia walked next to them, talking to them and soothing them. The others were riding in the cart.

After a few hours of traveling, Aldalómiel alerted us to four wolves ahead of us. Marxine pulled the cart to a halt.

Mia, to the horses: They’re only wolves. Don’t worry.

Then she tried to shoo the wolves away.

Elderron noticed that the wolves looked sick -- scrawny and with rough fur. Aldalómiel shot one with her longbow, putting an arrow all the way through its chest and dropping it in one shot. The other stopped moving forward and held their ground, growling in a hostile manner.

Elama used thaumaturgy to make a loud, booming thunderous sound a few feet in front of the three remaining wolves.

Elama, shouting: Fly you fools!!

The rest of the wolves ran off and away into the woods.

Mia examined the body of the one Aldalómiel dropped -- they were badly underfed, which surprised her. Given their body condition, it seemed like they’d been hungry for a while, more than just a few days.

Mia: It’s been a good year. There is food. Why are they starving?

Elderron spent a bit of time to cast detect magic to see if there was any magical effect on it and found that there was definitely something unnatural about it.

Vinya: Maybe the wolves got into the machine, whatever that is, and this is the wolf version of that sort of craziness.

Elderron sent Oda flying up 100 feet to see if he could see anything standing out from the general forest canopy, but he could not.

On high alert for more weird wolves, we continued following the wagon tracks and, as it turned out the wolf tracks, which had come from the same direction.

A bit before the end of the day, we noticed that the wolf tracks diverged from the tracks of the cart. The wolves had walked from the forest onto the road and possibly had an interaction with the wagon. We wondered if maybe the crazy preachers had preached at the wolves and Done Something to them. It was also possible that there was a space of time between the wagon passing and the wolves.

Elderron sent Oda out again, and watched through his eyes, and just saw the forest and the road. There were no carts and no activity on the road.

We made camp in a good spot Marxine picked for us.

It was definitely a good spot, because the night passed without incident.


3 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 4)

Aldalómiel foraged a bit for our breakfast confirmed that there’s plenty of food in the forest -- so the wolves were starving for other reasons.

Vinya: Maybe they went crazy and forgot how to hunt.

We headed out and before we’d travelled more than a couple of hours, we saw ahead of us a couple of carts tipped over onto their sides at a point where a side-track joined the main road. As we drew closer, we saw two dead humans in the road near the carts.

We tied the horses to a branch and got out of the wagon (those of us who were in it) to look around. Elderron sent Oda up a hundred feet or so to look around. Oda saw four lurching humanoid figures that looked like they might also be gibbering and one of those beachball-like starspawn grues.

Our first thought was that they were skeletons, or maybe zombies, all of us having heard tales of those rising when bodies weren’t properly burned -- but they didn’t look like that. They looked sort of dehydrated or starved, like the wolves.

Oh, dear.

Mia took a shot at the grue with her crossbow -- which hit and caused the grue to begin screaming. Elderron fired off a firebolt. Marxine, who’d waited for them to get close, then attacked when they were in range, and got a good solid hit.

The one Marxine attacked then leaned over and began whispering in her ear -- whatever it whispered she winced at the pain, but managed to shake it off. Vinya ran up to one that was off by itself and felt something come over her -- she was still able to make her attack, but didn’t feel herself at all.

Lamie put a bane on three of the whispering lurching things (they’re called “Mindghouls,” and they are, in fact, undead), which had them all affected. And then Mia cast a spell that caused the vegetation to rise up and wrap around most of the mindghouls -- restraining them in the vines. Some of them were even near the edge of the writhing vegetation, so we would be able to attack them without getting into it.

Unfortunately, the one mindghoul that wasn’t in the entangle spell attacked Lamie and did enough damage to cause her to drop the bane spell. But it didn’t whisper at her and hurt her in her mind.

Elderron dropped the grue, with its horrible distracting gibbering, with a magic missile setting off a had a really good sequence of attacks as a party -- Marxine chopped one right in half. Aldalómiel shot the one on Lamie for a lot of damage. Vinya dropped one with her first attack then did a flurry of blows and got a critical hit on another one.

After that, one of them managed to break out of the entangle spell and one of them tried to attack despite being restrained (to no effect). Aldalómiel and Vinya focused their attacks on the one that got out of the entangle area.

Marxine asked Mia to drop her spell so that she could get to the one in the middle of the entangled area. Mia did so, then took a shot at the one that had broken out on its own, and dropped it. Marxine got a huge hit on the one remaining one and then Elderron dropped it with a firebolt spell.

After they were all gone, we looked at them and determined that they were definitely undead, so this appeared to be a different evolution of the crazy -- the gibbering and whispering were the same, but the preachers and the cultists at Tashimeet were alive, and able to say almost coherent things (at times).

We also checked out the wounds on the dead people by the carts -- they had suffered from slashing wounds, like the mindghouls were doing with their claw-like hands. We didn’t see any marks on the bodies of the undead ones -- no obvious wounds that would have caused their deaths. But Marxine, still with the echoes of the headache she’d gotten when one whispered in her ear, said that if that one had been able to continue whispering at her long enough, it could have killed her.

That one whispered something that started with “It came to me…” before devolving into gibberish. The rest attacked with claws. The bodies of the mindghouls all look basically the same though -- so it seems like maybe the others could also have done that whispering thing.

The mindghouls were wearing tattered clothes -- some of them appeared to have been merchants, as we expected, and some of them were wearing the remains of leather armor and looked like they might have been bandits. It looked like there might have been a bandit ambush that went really weirdly and poorly for the bandits.

Having noticed the clothes, we looked at the corpses more closely and saw that all of them had the symbol that Vinya, Elderron, Lamie and Aldalómiel had seen on the corpses of the tentacle-armed guys at Tashimeet.

Aldalómiel looked at the tracks in the area -- it appeared that they’d been sort of milling around for a while, shuffling and lurching with no direction.

While we were doing that, Elderron took a few minutes to cast a detect magic spell to see if there was anything magical on or about the corpses. There was not.

After examining the bodies, we looked around the wagons. Both of them were tipped over onto their sides. There was nothing inside but operational stuff -- ropes, spare bits of harness. No trade goods or treasure, except for a couple of short swords and a dozen arrows, which Aldalómiel collected.

We could see hoofprints going from the main road down that side path we’d noticed. Mia looked for any evidence of the horses that had been hitched to the tipped over carts. There were no horse bodies and no sign of blood or remains near the harnesses. Just those hoofprints going up the road away from this battle scene, along with some human(oid) footprints.

Before we headed out to follow those tracks,, Elderron had Oda fly up and around, looking for danger, but the area looked clear. We also made a pile of the bodies and burned them.

We unhitched our horses from the cart, after pulling the cart off the side of the road and out of immediate view. Vinya helped Marxine, who’s good with animals, onto one of them, giving her a leg up without in any way impugning Marxine’s status as a total badass. Elderron rode the other horse.

We travelled along the side path, with Elderron and Marxine riding, for the rest of the day. Though we were alert and paranoid for any lurching, gibbering dangers, there were no problems the rest of the day.

We stopped in a clearing and made camp off to the side of the path. In the middle of the night, deep in the heart of second watch (Lamie, Aldalómiel and Elderron), Elderron spotted something out in the darkness. Or maybe he heard the gibbering. Three of the mindghouls were lurching toward us.

Elderron, shouting: Hey, guys!
Aldalómiel, who also spotted them: Incoming!

This woke up those of us who were sleeping around the fire.

Aldalómiel and Elderron took their shots at the one furthest from us, while Marxine waited for them to get close. Mia took a shot with her crossbow then moved to the horses so she could protect them.

Vinya woke up and moved into a position between Elderron and the mindghouls and went into a defensive, dodging stance, which was the most useful thing she wound out doing.

Aldalómiel got an impressive shot with her bow and Elderron cast magic missile, firing the darts at the one he’d already firebolted. When one finally got to Marxine she attacked with her axe and cut it in half with one mighty blow. Mia shot one right in the eye, getting a critical hit and dropping it. Vinya flailed around a bit, but kept them away from Elderron.

When the last one was dropped, we took a moment to look at the bodies -- one of them was dressed like the bandits we’d seen on the road. The other two looked like ordinary woodsmen.

Vinya and Lamie moved the bodies away off into the forest while Oda flew up and looked around to see if there were other obvious dangers. He didn’t see anything.

Those of us who had been resting went back to sleep and Aldalómiel, Elderron and Lamie went back to being on watch.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 3: We Appear To Have Saved A Town

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))

GM: - Everyone Else


We ended the previous session in the middle of the night. The rest of the night passed without incident.


4 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 5)

We continued up the side path we were on, following the horse tracks that had gone this way from the cart-bandit-gibbering undead thing interaction on the main road.

After about half a day on the road the path widened into what appeared to be a tiny village -- there was a small cluster of cottages, though none had smoke rising from the chimneys and all looked dark and cold. In the center of the village, sort of the square in among these cottages, were half a dozen bodies. Five of them looked as though something had burst out of their torsos (like a chestburster from Alien). The sixth one looked as though it had been extensively chewed on and was close to bones.

All of the blood was dry, but the corpses had not yet gotten too smelly. It was pretty clear that the bodies were those of the residents of these cottages.

There were footprints around the five that had their chests burst open - those looked like the footprints of the grues (the beachballs on stilts). Some of those footprints led to the one that had been chewed on. There were no bite marks on the ones that had been, apparently, hosts to the grues.

The horse tracks we’d been following from the main road stopped here for a while and the riders dismounted, but there was little sign of fighting. The only signs of a skirmish were near the body that was partially eaten. The others looked like they just fell where they were standing. The riders dismounted from their horses and just stood in one place, then mounted again and rode off. Eight people from the village followed them on foot.

We explored around the empty cottages a bit, making sure there were no survivors. None of the cottages had been ransacked and it didn’t look like people had left in a panic. It did look like the had stopped what they were doing right in the middle of things and stepped calmly outside.

We thought that perhaps it had been like what we saw in the caravanserai back at the Knot -- preachers came in and began speaking to the assembled people. Some became like Saeno (the manager of Tashimeet) in the inn, standing completely transfixed and gob-smacked, while the preacher preached. Some of the people listening to the gibberish sermon fell and then had grues burst out of them. Some of the villagers apparently were converted and followed the preachers. One, for whatever reason, did neither and was eaten.

A couple of the people who followed the preachers were children. Oh, dear.

We continued on down the road to try and catch up to them.

Toward the end of the day we all saw something nasty in the road about 75 feet ahead of us -- it looked like a slime mold with many gibbering mouths. Or a blorb of gibbering goo.

Lamie: Oh, god, what is that?! Kill it with fire!!

Then she cast guiding bolt on it, but was so freaked out that she missed wildly.

We proceeded to kill the thing -- Marxine and Vinya getting right up close to it, Elama, Mia, Elderron and Aldalómiel staying back and firing at it with their various ranged attacks. As it got hit it gibbered more and more loudly became more and more distracting, but Marxine and Vinya were both able to keep their wits about them.

We killed it, Aldalómiel getting in the final blow, but not before it spit out a glob of bright flashing light-goo that blinded Marxine and Vinya. Before it could take advantage of their blindness, however, it was gone.

Lamie: Really really, what the hell was that? I’m over 100 years old and I’ve never seen anything that gross.

Vinya poked at it a few times to make sure it was really dead, then Marxine flipped it out of the road with her axe.

Ugh.

We decided we wanted to be a bit away from it, so we pressed on for another 15 minutes or so before making camp a short distance from the path.

Mia offered everyone one of her good berries, which would provide enough sustenance for a whole day.

Lamie: The berries are good, but I prefer real food.
Mia: I understand.

Aldalómiel and Mia foraged for food and then we ate and rested, staying close to one another and keeping the horses close to us as well.

During second watch (again -- it’s the witching hour), the white horse (we have a white horse and a brown horse) and Elderron heard gibbering in the distance up the path. It resolved into a three way conversation in Gibberish, as though all of the speakers could clearly understand it as a language. Occasionally, Elderron could understand a word or two. He could also see a bobbing lantern or other light source. He alerted Aldalómiel and Lamie, who were on watch with him.

They woke the rest of us, very quietly. As we were quietly waking and getting to our feet, one of the horses nickered. There was a gibbery “Huh?” and the bobbing light began to move toward us more quickly.

Mia tied the horses tied securely and safely away from the path and we spread out on either side of it. The figures approached and when Mia could see them she cast Faerie Fire, limning one of them in purple sparkles.

The light from the Faerie Fire let us all see that there were two relatively normal looking humans, a man and a woman, and a guy with a tentacle arm. The woman had the faerie fire.

Aldalómiel didn’t mess around, she dropped the normal-looking man with one arrow from her longbow.

They were fairly far away, and Marxine was not on her horse, so it took a while for her to get into combat with the tentacle guy. Because of her crazy monk speed, Vinya was able to get right up to the tentacle-arm guy and attacked -- her attack with the quarterstaff missed but she was able to land a kick to his midsection.

The woman with the faerie fire screamed, gibbered and ran toward Vinya, wildly swinging a longsword. Aldalómiel shot the tentacle armed guy from out in the darkness, getting his attention with a solid hit, but he couldn’t see out into the darkness to know where it came from -- the ranged attacks from Aldalómiel, Mia, Elderron and Lamie were just coming at them from the night.

Cool!

The tentacle-armed guy attacked Vinya, hitting first with the tentacle and grappling her, then beating on her with his club. Fortunately before he could hit her again, Mia had dropped the purple-sparkly woman with her crossbow and Marxine and Elderron took out the tentacle guy.

Elderron: More of these gibbering things. They keep coming our way. Where are they coming from?
Vinya, pointing up the road: That way.

Vinya: Lamie, I’m feeling pretty poorly.
Lamie: Good luck with that.

Fortunately Mia was able to make more of her good berries and Vinya felt better after eating them.

We went back to our camp and the rest of the night passed without incident.


5 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 6)

The next morning, we gathered up the bodies of the cultists we’d fought in the middle of the night. Vinya took one of their shortbows and she and Aldalómiel split up the arrows. The guy with the tentacle arm had the concentric circles holy-symbol tattoo on his tentacle arm, like the ones at Tashimeet. Mia examined his arm, to see if the tentacle had been sewn on somehow and found that it was his own arm that had just transformed.

Mia: That is not natural. I don’t like that.

We burned the bodies and headed out on our way. We hadn’t gotten far when Elama, watching out behind us, saw three emaciated wolves on the road behind us.

When the lead wolf noticed that they had been spotted, it looked at Lamie, then it mewed like a cat. It mewed again, then made a noise like a laughing kookaburra.

Lamie: Elderron. Elderron!
Elderron: What was that noise?

The rest of us, hearing the kookaburra noise (not native or natural to this northern forest) turned and saw the same wolves we’d encountered a few days earlier on the main road from the Knot.

The wolves continued to make a variety of animal noises and Mia figured out that they were gibbering in various forms of animal communication. This was the animal version of the polyglot gibberish the cultists were speaking.

Mia: We need to kill them.

We proceeded to do just that. Vinya dropped one that had been weakened by other attacks and the skinny runt of the pack with a swing of her quarterstaff and a well-placed kick. Marxine rode up to one on Brown Horse and dropped it with her big axe while still in the saddle.

Marxine, patting Brown Horse on the neck: His name is Comrade. He’s been a huge help.

We burned the bodies.

Rattled by the creepy mewing wolves, we proceeded on our way, cautiously at first, then a bit more relaxed as the day passed and we proceeded.

About the time we were starting to look for a place to make camp, two or three hundred feet ahead of us through the leafless trees, we saw a larger cluster of homes with a bonfire in the middle of them.

Elderron sent Oda the owl flying up to take a look.

Without a word to anyone, Mia’s large form shimmered and shifted and a silvery-grey fox stood in her place. She gestured toward the village with her head and then ran off in that direction.

Vinya: Well! That’s cool!

Aldalómiel slid off into the woods, getting lost in the bare branches and dark tree trunks, and moved in the direction of the village as well.

They all saw a big bonfire in the middle of the town square. There were about twenty people there -- most of them were standing agape and stupefied. There was a dwarf near the fire, orating in gibberish. Two dwarves were at the back of the crowd, presumably keeping watch for anyone to break ranks. A couple of the grues were among the gaping people. A couple of the mindghouls (the gibbering-whispering undead things we fought in the road) were at the edges of the crowd. They weren’t attacking anyone, they were just standing, looking at the preacher, and drooling slightly.

Mia, after surveying the situation from the safety of the forest edge, circled around out of hearing of the preacher and ran back to us. She changed back in mid-stride, her Firbolg form stretching and shimmering out of the fox as she ran.

Mia: We’ve got to go now. They’re trying to turn the village…

We thought for a moment about coming up with some sort of strategy or tactical approach that involved circling around the city, but in the end decided just to try and blast them -- focusing first on stopping the Orator from orating.

Elderron started things off by firing off a magic missile spell, hitting the orator with all three darts. This caused a bit of a hiccup in the flow of the oration, but it didn’t stop, unfortunately. The two tentacle arm guys turned around in response and moved into cover behind the two buildings.

Mia cast an entangle spell that got two of the cultists and the orator (and some civilians) and restrained all of them. The nearest grue and mindghoul began moving toward the party, the grue getting relatively close to Aldalómiel and Mia.

Ignoring it, Aldalómiel put her hunter’s mark on the orator and shot him well, but he continued preaching. Vinya moved to interpose herself between the grue and her friends, dropping it with a blow from her quarterstaff followed by a kick. Lamie gave a blessing to Vinya, Aldalómiel and Marxine.

Marxine, on Comrade, rode past the acolyte and attacked a cultist. She split his head in half with her axe.

In response to all of that, the Orator stopped with his preaching and gestured at Marxine. She dodged out of the way of his sacred flame spell.

At this point things seemed to be going pretty well. But then, the tentacle-arm guy near Marxine grappled and restrained her with his tentacle and then beat her with his club. A cultist took advantage of her being restrained to attack with a longsword. And suddenly, Marxine was looking pretty hurt.

A mindghoul attacked Aldalómiel -- hitting with its slashing claws. Mia moved into position to flank it and cast shillelagh, hitting it with her magical club. Aldalómiel pulled out her shortsword and attacked it as well.

Vinya, seeing that they had the mindghoul pinned between them and that Marxine was exposed and alone with lots of people all around her, ran past the acolyte (who Marxine had already ignored) shouting insults as she passed and attacked the cultist on Marxine with her quarterstaff. She then tapped into her ki-energy for a flurry of blows, and dropped the cultist with her first punch. There was no one else she could reach with the second punch in the flurry, which was frustrating.

The acolyte, motivated apparently by Vinya’s run-by insults, moved to attack her, but missed. Lamie cast a sacred flame at the one that Aldalómiel and Mia were fighting and then moved into close combat.

Marxine, badly hurt, took a deep breath and got a second wind, then tried to get out of the tentacle-guy’s grapple but only seemed to wind herself in tighter.

The Orator created a large, gimballed spinning thing as a spiritual weapon right next to Vinya and hit her with it, leaving her badly injured.

Fortunately, Elderron moved into range where he could use his firebolts and shot the preacher, dropping him. The spiritual weapon, having done its damage to Vinya, hovered and whirled.

The tentacle-arm guy on Marxine hit her with his club, taking advantage of having her restrained, and hit for as much as she’d healed herself up by with her second wind. The other tentacle guy finally made it into the knot around Vinya and Marxine, hitting Vinya hard.

At this point, Marxine and Vinya each had two remaining hitpoints. They were surrounded by the acolyte, a mindghoul, the two tentacle-arm guys and two cultists.

One of the grues that had been in the enthralled crowd of villagers went and started eating the fallen Orator. The other began moving toward where Aldalómiel and Mia were still trying to drop the other mindghoul.

The mindghoul near Vinya moved up behind her and whispered in her ear, or tried to, but she was swaying from the tentacle-arm guy’s blows and swayed out of its way. The other one was dropped by Aldalómiel after failing to hit her.

Vinya hit the mindghoul on her, thanks to the blessing that Lamie gave her. She summoned her ki-energy and moved into a defensive stance against her attackers. Then she pulled her potion of greater healing out of her belt pouch and handed it to Marxine

Vinya: Drink this if you live that long.

Lamie swung her sword forward into the air, sending a blast of force and sound forward as she cast a thunderwave spell, getting the grue, the acolyte, the mindghoul and the tentacle-arm on Vinya. Elderron moved up near her and cast a burning hands on the same group, except the mindghoul. He dropped the acolyte, thinning the herd a bit.

Marxine drank the healing potion and felt much stronger for it. Which was good because the tentacle-arm who had her grappled, immediately hit her with his club and would have dropped her if she hadn’t gotten to drink the potion first.

Vinya’s patient defense paid off because all the attacks against her, from the tentacle guy, the cultist, and the grue missed.

Mia shot the tentacle guy on Vinya and dropped him with her crossbow. Aldalómiel shot one of the cultists straight through with an arrow, killing him instantly. Vinya golfed a grue out of existence with her quarterstaff then moved around to a position behind the tentacle arm guy grappling Marxine (as yet untouched) and rabbit-punched him in the back of the head. Elderron got a great shot on the tentacle guy grappling Marxine with a firebolt, but despite getting a critical hit and doing huge damage, the guy didn’t drop.

In fact he hit Marxine with his club again, but didn’t drop her.

Lamie hit a cultist, who then turned around and hit her. Which was a big mistake, because lightning crackled out of the wound and up the cultist’s sword into her arm. Everyone looking in that direction could see the cultist’s skeleton glow inside the skin, and then she fell.

Aldalómiel moved her hunter’s mark to the tentacle guy holding Marxine and shot him nicely and Vinya immediately hit him again in the back of the head, this time a hard blow with the quarterstaff, finally dropping him and releasing Marxine. Vinya, feeling pretty badly injured, moved around to be near and a bit behind Mia.

Marxine, released from her restraints and angry at being neutralized for so much of the fight, swung at the grue next to Comrade with her axe, like a polo swing, and cleaved it entirely in half.

And all was quiet.

In the quiet after the fight, we noticed that the villagers had been starting to shake off the effects of the Orator’s speech and were looking around in bleary-eyed confusion and fear.

Vinya found someone in the group who looked older and maybe like they could be in charge. She explained that these people had come in and were preaching about the Hunger Between Worlds -- some people would have gone crazy and followed them, some would have turned into monsters. We don’t know what makes some people go one way and some the other.

We explained that they wer safe now and nothing bad had happened here. However, the last village back down the path was now a ghost town -- everyone from that village was dead except a few children who followed the cultists. The elder looked around and saw them in the crowd. He said that the villagers would take them in and take care of them.

While Vinya was explaining the situation, the others were searching the bodies, finding a pair of goggles pushed up to the Orator’s forehead, but nothing else of interest. They took the goggles then moved the bodies into the fire for cremation

The town elder pointed to two horses tied up near one of the houses.

Elder: They rode those horses into town. They’re yours if you want them.

We thanked him and said that we would like them. Looking through the saddlebags, we found stuff:

90 gp (15 each)
1500 sp (250 each)
1500 cp (250 each)
3 x 10 gp gems (we can either hold these as party treasure, or divide up the value among the party and just have some people get their treasure as gems -- if we do that we’d each wind out with 20 gp each. Vinya would be more than happy to take her share of that as two gems.)

There were also some interesting looking items.

Mia took the Orator’s goggles and held them to her eyes and found that she could see 60 feet into the darkness (goggles of night vision).

Mia: Wow!! There’s a squirrel out there in the forest.
Vinya: Those are yours.

There was also a potion of greater healing to replace the one that got used. That went to Marxine since she’s always going to be right in the middle of things mixing it up. Finally, there was a bottle of Oil of Slipperiness. For the moment, Vinya is carrying that, but it will be used when needed by whoever in the party needs to use it.

The villagers gave us a place to stay for the night and the night passed without incident.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 4: Spiders In The Forest


Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter

GM: - Everyone Else

(Note: Mia's player was out this evening, so Mia was feeling poorly and not really engaging much with things. She stayed in the inn when she had the opportunity, working on recovering.)


We spent the night in the village. Marxine asked if there was anything of value out here or further along the road. The villagers said that there really wasn’t -- just some forest for logging and some okay farmland. The track we’d followed from the main road ended at this village.

Which left us wondering why the Crazy Preachers had even come in this direction. But maybe “crazy” is reason enough.

We then spent the night in the village, and it passed without incident.


6 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 7)

We decided against taking the Crazy Preachers’ horses - the villagers said they could use them and we have Comrade and White Horse.

We headed back down the track toward the main road between Tash and the Knot. After we left the village, Vinya pointed out that at least 2 of the beachball-grues were still out there (because 5 burst out of peoples’ chests in the first village and we only had three at the village we saved).

The day and the night passed without incident.


7 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 8)

We proceeded back to the first village without incident, getting there around mid-day. Vinya called out and peeked in the empty houses, in hopes that some of the villagers had run away into the forest and returned, but that was not the case.

So we continued on our way, making camp at the same place we’d stayed on the way out. Mia, not feeling well, slept through the night, and we set our watches to let her do so.

On the first watch, Elama, Vinya and Marxine were all totally surprised by three grues that attacked Marxine from out in the darkness.

Two of them hit, one grabbing onto her leg and the other attaching itself to her face.

Lamie walked past the sleeping party members to get into the fight.

Lamie: Yo! Wake up!

Then she cured Marxine of some of the damage. Marxine hit the one on her face and then did an action surge and hit it again, critting it and killing it. It imploded in on itself, as these things do.

Vinya hit the one on Marxine’s leg with her quarterstaff, then kicked it off. It disappeared into itself as it flew out into the woods.

Aldalómiel woke up and, grabbing her sling, shot the third one and hit it. Elderron, waking up, firebolted it. But the two hits didn’t drop it, which left it free to attack Vinya. Lamie then stepped in with her sword and attacked it.

We all looked around and waited a bit with our weapons ready, on edge. This was the first time we’d seen the beachballs unaccompanied by cultists or Crazy Preachers or big dudes with tentacle arms.

But nothing else came out of the woods and eventually we proceeded with our night’s rest. And the rest of the night passed without incident.


8 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 9)

The next morning we continued on our way. We noticed that the woods seemed quieter -- the animals were behaving more normally and it all seemed like things were better. And nothing happened to us the whole day back to the main road.

We got to the main road when there was still a bit of light left. There had been traffic on the road and the mud had dried out, so we weren’t able to make out the tracks of the wagon we’d been backtracking. However, the road only goes where it goes, so following along the road isn’t hard. Hopefully we’ll find some sign if the cart entered or left the road and didn’t just come straight from Tash (though we know they were Tashite merchants before they went crazy).

Once at the main road, we continued on the way to Tash for a mile or so before making camp, just to get away from the crossroads.

The night passed without incident.


9 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 10)

The next morning, Elderron sent Oda flying up to see what he could see. What Oda saw was a cart on the road toward the Knot. It looked as though it went by while we were off on the side track rescuing the village. He saw another caravan coming our way from Tash. We would encounter them later in the morning.

Marxine: It’s a good sign there is still traffic on the road.

We continued on. After a few hours we encountered the small caravan of two wagons that Oda had spotted. There was one wagon with gnomes riding on it and a couple of goliaths who appeared to be guards, but the bulk of the people were humans. They were flying a Tash flag and a flag from a human merchant family. Marxine recognized the flag, though she wasn’t personally familiar with the family.

They all appeared to be fine and reported no problems on the road.

Vinya told them about the cart that was attacked by bandits a week and a half or so ago.

Merchants: What happened to the bandits?

Vinya hemmed and hawed about telling them that they’d been turned into monsters that we’d killed and getting into all the crazy business.

Vinya: Well, um at least some of them are dead.

That just alarmed them. Elderron stepped in and was no more reassuring.

Marxine then spoke up: We tracked them to a village and killed them.

That put them back at their ease.

We asked about traffic on the road and pointed out that from what we could tell there had been no one travelling between The Knot and Tash for something like a week. They said they hadn’t really thought about it, but that was weird, even with traffic being lighter at this time of year.

We then thanked them and wished them safe travels.

Marxine: At Tash we can ask if a caravan or cart has gone missing.

(Reminder: The cart we’re on did not have any flags, which the traders use to identify where they’re from, which merchant house or group they’re with, etc. It would have had them when they left Tash, but they were not in the wagon when we got it at The Knot.)

Around nightfall we got to a village, Tormul -- it had an inn, with a tavern attached, and a shop that seemed a bit bigger than we expected for a roadside hamlet. Seeing people move around and interact, the vibe of the town seemed largely unstressed.

We went to the tavern for food (and beverage) and to arrange for rooms for the night.

At the tavern, we spoke with the owner, a human woman named Barluta. We told her that we were heading from the Knot to Tash and had noticed that there’s not much traffic on the road.

Barluta: Yeah. It’s a bit slow.
Vinya: Any idea why?
Barluta: We haven’t heard about problems on the road. Some of the villagers here have had problems out in the wood. A couple of weeks ago we found that a section of the woods was covered with spider webs and really quiet. A couple of our teens saw big spiders and swarms of smaller spiders.

Well, that was interesting, but not immediately related.

Vinya: Have any of the travelers coming through talked about a machine?
Barluta: Some crazy dwarves came through a couple of weeks ago raving about something. They wanted to talk and when I wouldn’t let them they got belligerent. They got driven off by the shopkeeper, Tessixylin.
Vinya: We want to talk to the shopkeeper
Barluta, to Marxine: No offense, ma’am, but when dwarves go bad they go real bad.

Marxine, Elderron and Vinya went to talk to Tessixylin, who was a dragonborn, six and half feet tall and thickly built with mottled reddish scales. The shop carried a lot of general goods, including weapons and some armor, and a few scrolls. They also had a one foot long rod that could extend into a 10 foot pole. Vinya bought that because it seemed as though it might be handy sometimes.

We asked Tessixylin about the crazy dwarves that had come through. She told us that they had no flags flying on their cart when they arrived. They kept talking about “Something came to me”.

We asked about the spiders and the teens who saw them. Tessixylin said that she could have them come around to the tavern to talk to us if we wanted, which we did.

We then returned to the tavern, rejoining Aldalómiel, Elama and Mia (still feeling poorly) for some food. The teens showed up after dinner, introducing themselves as Jellan and Castrus.

They said they’d seen the spiders a day or two ago. They’d gone looking because the villagers had friendly relations with a couple of pixies and sprites out in the woods and hadn’t run into them for a couple of weeks. So they went to the area where they could often be found looking for them. And about 2 hours from the town they found lots of spider webs and saw some swarms of spiders. When they saw a spider the size of a horse, they fled.

They gave us directions to find a path into the woods that led in the right direction.

Elderron: We’re following something weird and this is weird. We should check it out.

We all agreed to that.

We then went to our rooms in the inn and rested for the night, enjoying the comfortable beds.


10 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 11)

The next morning we left Mia sleeping soundly and the horses in the stables and headed down the path that Jellon and Castrus had pointed us to.

After an hour or an hour and a half, we started seeing spider webs in the trees, first just clusters and globs in the trees, then thick sheets that came all the way down to ground level. Elderron shot one with a firebolt, just to see what happened, and it burned along, but didn’t set the forest on fire. The trees in fact, looked healthy and alive.

Marxine and Elderron cleared the way ahead of us, Marxine using her axe like a machete and Elderron firebolting, so we could walk without continually walking into spider webs.

Lamie was in the middle of the group looking around in a paranoid fashion, Scooby Doo style, occasionally trying to wipe webs off her arms and face.

We knew there were spiders in the woods, but we didn’t know which specific direction they’d be coming from so we were all surprised except Aldalómiel when five spiders came out of the woods from different directions to attack us. Stocky, wolf-sized spiders.

One of the spiders bit Lamie and Aldalómiel shot one and this was looking like it was going to be a long fight, then Elderron cast sleep on three of them, thinning the crowd against us, Vinya then dropped hers, kicking it out into the woods, and moved between the sleeping spiders and Elderron and Elama, to protect them. Aldalómiel and Marxine took care of the other one that wasn’t asleep. That left just the three sleeping spiders, and we dispatched them one by one.

We continued deeper into the spider forest, with Marxine and Elderron clearing the way of webs again. We weren’t surprised to see three spiders the size of horses 15 feet up in the trees. Well, we were a bit shocked at how big they were but not surprised that they were there and attacking us. They appeared to be a larger and more imposing variety of more or less normal looking spider.

Elderron started things off by magic missiling one. Aldalómiel shot a different one with an arrow. Marxine pulled out her handaxe and threw it, hitting the third one. Vinya shot an arrow at the one Elderron had magic missiled and dropped it. It fell out of the tree with a bit of a splat.

That was a good start to things -- then the two remaining spiders shot out webbing, hitting Aldalómiel and Marxine and restraining them in their webs. Ew. Lamie tried to pull Aldalómiel out of the webbing and failed. Fortunately, even restrained in the web, Aldalómiel was able to fire her bow and do a great deal of damage to one. Marxine threw another handaxe at the one that had webbed her and did it a big chunk of damage. Vinya shot at the one that Aldalómiel had hit and dropped it, leaving just the one.

It skittered down its webbing and attacked Marxine, but missed despite her being caught up in the webs. Elderron cast another magic missile on it and left it looking badly hurt but not dead. Lamie tried to free Marxine with no success. Aldalómiel tried to free herself with no success. Finally Marxine, still restrained in the web, attacked the spider with her greataxe and dropped it.

Working together we finally got Aldalómiel and Marxine out of the webs and took a short rest. While we were resting, Lamie tried to see if her sacred flame spell would set the webs on fire. It didn’t, alas.

After our short rest, we continued proceeding, not convinced we’d found everything wrong with the forest here. Our suspicions were confirmed when we noticed that the webbing was getting thicker and denser as we went along.

All of a sudden we passed through the thickest of the webs into a clearing with none. There was, however, a dead guy in the clearing.

We all wondered what was keeping the spiders at bay in this clearing, because we could see webs in the trees all around it. The corpse was kind of strange as well -- he was clearly dead and there was shiny stuff around his body.

Marxine: No one in the village was upset about someone being missing?

While we were pondering that, two humanoid figures with spider faces came out of the woods. Ick.

Lamie: It’s like a Spider...man.
Elderron: I’ve heard of these. Ettercaps.

While we were processing that information, someone nudged the corpse with a toe and a swarm of spiders poured out of the dead body. Ew!!

Other spiders came out of the woods into the clearing. In all there were 2 of the ettercaps, 1 swarm of spiders, 2 of the wolf-sized spiders and 1 of the horse-sized spiders.

Marxine took the brunt of the first round of attacks from them -- getting bitten and poisoned and the spiders swarming over her, but didn’t take much damage from it all.

One of the ettercaps spat webbing on Elderron, restraining him, and the other ettercap missed Marxine with its webbing. They were both still in the trees, along with the giant, horse-sized spider.

Lamie, with the verbal component “Ew! Ew! Ew!” cast sacred flame on the swarm on Marxine.

The extra-giant spider spat webbing at Aldalómiel, but missed her. Vinya used her quarterstaff and a kick to take out one of the merely wolf-sized spiders, then moved between the extra-giant one in the trees and Elderron. Marxine attacked and got a good hit on one of the wolf-spiders.

The swarm got into her armor and bit her badly and dropped her. Dammit! The ettercaps came down out of the trees and attacked -- one missed Aldalómiel and the other missed Elama. Aldalómiel, dropping her bow and drawing a sword, did not miss. Neither did Lamie, who attacked with her sword. She then used healing word on Marxine.

The horse-spider attacked Vinya and got a hit. She attacked it with her quarterstaff and a kick and did a good chunk of damage to it -- she didn’t drop it, but she left it looking bad.

Marxine got her second wind and attacked a wolf-spider, dropping it with some prejudice.

Elderron cast frostbite on the swarm, still covering Marxine, and hit, doing some damage and leaving it chilled and weakened and less able to attack effectively.

The ettercap on Lamie bit her, injecting poison with its spidery mandibles -- lightning crackled out of the wound and into the ettercap. It screamed.

Aldalómiel drew her other sword and attacked the other ettercap twice and hit it two times, but it didn’t fall. It didn’t even fall after Marxine hit it with her greataxe. Though it was looking rough.

Elderron cast frostbite on the swarm on Marxine again. It moved when Marxine moved but couldn’t get any meaningful bites in because of Elderron’s spell.

The ettercap that Marxine and Aldalómiel were fighting attacked Marxine and did a small amount of damage. The one on Elama hit her with its claws for a small amount of damage as well. Those two combats were close enough to one another that Aldalómiel was able to move to get a flanking attack on the one on Lamie and dropped it, then she turned to attack the one she’d been fighting with her second attack and hit.

Lamie, who’d been getting beaten up, disengaged and moved away screaming something about spiders and nightmare fuel.

Marxine moved away from the swarm and attacked the ettercap, but missed it. Which left an opening for Vinya to first drop the horse-spider with her quarterstaff and then do a flurry of blows on the remaining ettercap, dropping it as well.

Elderron cast frostbite on the swarm, now just swarming on the ground, leaving it chilled and less able to attack effectively. It moved to Elama and swarmed over her -- she was now living the nightmare that had been merely fueled thus far -- but didn’t get any good bites in.

Aldalómiel attacked the swarm on Elama and, with her swords, scraped the spiders off, killing them.

We looked around and no more spiders came out of the forest at us.

So we searched the dead guy and the shiny stuff on the ground around him. The dead guy was an elf -- apparently he got ambushed by the spiders. He had a couple of short swords, a longbow and six arrows. He had clearly been dead for a few weeks and was very dessicated.

He also had:
8x50gp gems (one for each of us and two left over for future disbursement
Potion of Fire Giant Strength (which went to Marxine)
Pristine, elf-sized scale mail that seemed lighter than it should be. On investigation this turned out to be mithral scale mail. It went to Elama.

Searching the webbing, we found the cocooned bodies of a couple of pixies and sprites, thoroughly desiccated and drained. And long dead. And some coinage.

1600 cp (266 each with 4 left over)
1200 sp (200 each)
30 gp (5 each)

Elderron cleared away a lot of the webs, and with a bit of exploration we figured out that this clearing was the center of the spider infestation. The ettercaps may have been dispersing from elsewhere. They are known to attract spiders to themselves.

This was a good thing to do but it didn’t give us any leads on our mission to find what happened to those normal merchants to turn them into Crazy Preachers.

We went back to the town to tell them that the spiders had been dealt with but that sadly their fey friends were gone.

We found Mia in our room in the inn, hopefully starting to feel better, and stayed the night there.

When we wake the next morning, we will be third level.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 5: We Found The Machine

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))

GM: - Everyone Else


Before we woke up the next morning -- in the wee hours of darkness -- Aldalómiel went out into the woods outside of town and used her newly developed ranger senses to try and detect any Githyanki or Dragonborn within five miles. All she detected was the shopkeeper, Tessixylin, who we already knew about.


11 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 12)

We woke up the next morning with everyone feeling stronger and Mia having recovered from whatever had laid her low. Marxine was feeling like she might have had it coming on (her player was stuck in traffic) so we let her ride in the cart while someone else drove.

The sky was cloudy and grey and rain was foreboding.

Mia: Might rain. The plants will like it.
Lamie: It only becomes cool rain when it starts to thunder.

We headed out along the way, watching carefully for any sign that something had been dropped off the side of the road or been shoved into the underbrush. Vinya was looking for the trader flags from the wagon we’d “inherited” from the crazy cultists. And any sign of their trade goods.

About halfway through the day we encountered a small caravan traveling from Tash. They were flying trade flags from a trade company Marxine was vaguely familiar with. There were a mix of humans and dwarves traveling together.

Lamie: Hail. Have you seen any weirdness going on up the road?
Traders: You’re the first people going toward Tash we’ve seen. Other than the light traffic, there was nothing unusual.
Mia: If you see any people speaking gibberish, run away fast…
Trader: Solid advice.
Mia: Have a safe journey. It might rain.

We wished them well and continued on our way, continuing to look for anything weird or out of place along the road. We saw nothing and the rest of the day passed without incident.

As we began to look for a place to camp, Marxine was feeling better and she helped us pick a good location about 65’ off the road.

Not too deep into first watch, Marxine was woolgathering and Lamie was staring at the stars, but Vinya spotted three wolf-sized spiders coming out of the trees toward the camp. These spiders are usually ambush predators, but they failed their ambush.

Vinya jumped over the sleeping Elderon and attacked the one approaching him. Then yelled for people to wake up. Lamie cast spiritual weapon and attacked the one that was threatening Comrade and White Horse. She cast sacred flame on another. Then she ran up to the one she’d flamed.

Lamie, as she ran: Must conquer fear!

Lamie then got bitten by the spider she’d run up to, and lightning crackled out of the wound and around the spider, but it didn’t die.

Elderon then woke up, sat up and cast Magic Missile -- sending darts to Lamie’s spider and to Vinya’s.

Elderon, firing off the magic missiles: No, NO, NO!

The one on Lamie exploded into spider bits.

Aldalómiel woke up and took a shot with her sling. Mia woke up and took a shot with her crossbow. Marxine then hit hers hard, cutting it into three pieces with her axe. Vinya crushed hers with her quarterstaff, then moved to attack the one threatening Comrade, but wasn’t able to kick it. Fortunately, Lamie stepped in and killed it -- protecting the horses and vanquishing the last of the spiders.

Vinya, looking around: I think you can all go back to sleep now.

We went back to our night’s rest.

Toward the end of third watch, before any of us had finished our long rest, Vinya, Elderon, Mia, and Aldalómiel were on watch. Vinya and Mia were talking about the forest and the ecosystem, nattering away, but despite that everyone noticed three ogres blundering toward us from the direction of the road.

Mia cast a Moonbeam spell right on top of one of them, then moved behind a bush for cover.

Mia: Wake up!

Elama woke up when Mia yelled.

Lamie: Huh? Oh. Really.

She got up and cast sacred flame on one.

Marxine also woke up at Mia’s call. She got out of her bed-roll and moved as close to them as she could, then yelled and brandished her axe, trying to get their attention.

Aldalómiel took a shot at one that had been hit already and the arrow pierced deep into his chest with the extra-damage boost she got from her new colossus slayer ability.

Vinya moved as close to them as she could manage and then moved into a defensive position and began to dodge. Elderon fired off a volley of magic missiles into the one that had been most hit.

The combat got better when Lamie cast Bane on all of them. The minor curse then caused them to fail saves and miss characters with their big clubs. Everyone was taking their shots and Vinya was doing that and taking advantage of the fact that she could attack and go into her patient defense and dodge their incoming blows.

Two of them were attacking Vinya and one Marxine. Elderon moved around to get a clear shot to cast Aganazzar’s Scorcher and a beam of fire shot from his outstretched hand, hitting both of the ones on Vinya.

One of those then promptly turned to attack Elderon, but the club bounced off of Elderon’s shield spell.

Lamie cast a shatter spell behind the same two Elderon had scorched and called down the power of the tempest into her spell, which crashed with a mighty roll of thunder. They were badly shaken up by that, though one more than the other.

Aldalómiel took a shot with her longbow and hit the one that was threatening Elderon and hit well. Vinya then followed up with her quarterstaff and dropped that one. Elderon then took the opportunity to move further away from the front line and cast magic missile, sending two darts to one and one to the other. The one that got two darts was killed by the force of them impacting its chest. The other one was still standing there, barely, but before it could do anything, the light from Mia’s moonbeam was enough to crumple it to the ground.

We checked in the pre-dawn gloom and it was clear that the ogres hadn’t been traveling along the road -- they were traveling through the forest and just crossed the road in our direction. We’ve seen ogres out in this forest before, so they might be at least somewhat common, or not-uncommon in these parts.

We finished our long rest.


12 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 13)

The day dawned grey and rainy, the clouds hanging low and oppressive and a cold drizzle soaking through our clothes. Most of us rode in the covered cart, except Aldalómiel who walked as she usually does. Aldalómiel and Vinya (from inside the cart) continued to keep an eye out for anything weird or out of place along the roadsides.

It was a quiet day traveling over increasingly hilly terrain. Close to dusk, we rode over a rise and looked down into a valley between a couple hills. We saw a circle of wagons with a tent in the middle of it. The tent was big enough to park a wagon under, but only just barely. There were six wagons circled around it, some in the road, some off the side of the road. The wagons circled around had flags -- most from Tash, but Auriqua and Embernook were also represented.

We realized when we saw them that he hadn’t seen a single wagon going toward the Knot (or heading toward Tash) all day.

Elderon sent Oda flying out to take a look and see what he could see. The horses were still hitched to the circling wagons, but there was no sign of horses associated with the tent. He also saw a bunch of people standing around outside the tent. This was all right around the road, so either the wagons we’ve encountered just went around it and ignored it (and then didn’t report to us that they’d seen anything weird) or it wasn’t there when they went by. But with six carts around it -- that’s more traffic than we’ve seen this whole trip.

Mia turned into a cute little brown pine marten and she and Aldalómiel went to scout around the scene. Neither of them hid very well, but fortunately Mia was a cute little woodland creature so anyone who saw her would just see that. Aldalómiel was saved by the fact that no one in the group of people around the tent was paying much attention to anything out in the forest.

They saw that there were twenty or so humans and dwarves standing around looking stunned, like the people in the village that were being preached to. The crowd included some of the tentacle arm cultists. Under the tent was a wagon with a thing on it -- like a mechanical thing big enough for a humanoid to go into. Near the machine was a person preaching in gibberish, the Speaker for the Machine.

As they watched, the Speaker gestured for a one of the stunned looking people to go into the machine. The screaming could be heard by the rest of the party, aways off on the hill. When the person came out of the other end of the machine he had a spark of clarity in his eyes and a tentacle for an arm.

Mia, in weasel: Holy shit!
Aldalómiel, who can understand woodland beasts: I think we found The Machine.

They got back to the party and told us what they had seen.

We decided to split into two groups -- Team Stealth (Vinya, Aldalómiel and Elderron) would be going around in the woods to the side, getting into a position to the side of the first rank of wagons (from the direction we were heading). Team Cart (Lamie, Marxine, and Mia) would have Lamie and Marxine riding on the cart, with Mia, in the form of a spirited warhorse, looking like she was on a lead line attached to the back of the cart.

Team Cart continued along the road, prepared to interact with the people if that was appropriate. If not, prepared to move like they were going around the assembly, if they would be allowed to do that. As they approached on the road, one of the dwarves stepped away from the assembly to intercept them in the road. He looked much like the dwarf preachers we’d fought at Tashimeet in the Knot.

Lamie: Good evening.
Preacher: Hello.
Lamie: What’s going on here? I see a bunch of carts and about fifty bazillion people.
Preacher: You’re welcome to join us.
Lamie: Sure….?

The preacher moved to give the cart a clear path forward. Marxine, taking this as a cue, smacked the reins on the horses backs and tried to run him over with the cart. Unfortunately she missed with her attempt to trample. Mia-warhorse charged a cultist and missed. Elama gave the signal to Team Stealth and the battle was on!

Aldalómiel shot the Speaker (the Boss) with a designating arrow for a pretty decent amount of damage and he was now under a faerie fire spell for the rest of the combat.

Vinya moved to get between Elderron and the cultist nearest him -- missing with her quarterstaff, of course, but dropping him with a well-placed kick. Then she moved to cover Elderron against anything incoming.

Elama jumped off of our cart and cast spiritual weapon on the tentacle arm nearest to the Speaker of the Machine (she didn’t quite have the range to attack the Speaker himself), then she attacked the dwarf preacher that had come to talk to the cart with her sword.

There was a lot of mostly ineffectual flailing by the cultists -- who moved around, took wild swings at people, and Did Things without much effect.

The Speaker for the Machine had much more effect when he fired off two black bolts from his hand. One of them was aimed at Aldalómiel, the other was fired so wildly that we weren’t able really to guess a target. Then he moved back behind the tent for cover.

Elderon cast a web spell on an area between Team Stealth and the Speaker of the Machine. The webs thwipped out over an area that had a cultist, a grue, and a tentacle arm but we didn’t know if any of them had been fully restrained yet.

Mia the warhorse stomped on a nearby cultist hitting it twice and killing it with her hooves in an unpleasant crunch.

Then we went back into a period of flailing by the tentacle arms and the grues - the highlight of which was a tentacle arm attacking the spiritual weapon (to no avail). One of the grues did hit White Horse, earning our ire. One of them was stuck in Elderon’s web.

Marxine jumped off the cart onto Comrade’s back, using her axe to cut the harness hitching him to the wagon, then she rode over to where Vinya was facing a lot of opposition (many cultists, tentacle arms and a grue had all gone in her direction).

Vinya, when she pulled Comrade up just a few feet away: You and me, together again!

One of the dwarf preachers got Vinya and Elderron in a bane spell, but it only lasted for a couple of seconds before Aldalómiel cast Zephyr Strike and shot him, dropping him with one arrow. Then she moved around to where she’d be able to get a clear shot on the Speaker the next round.

Vinya continued her pattern of missing with the quarterstaff but landing kicks on things, hitting the grue that was making things gibbery and distracting in her vicinity.

The cultist that was next to Mia-warhorse was freaking out, because it just watched this beautiful horse in front of it crush the skull of one of its associates, and missed her utterly. Only one of the two on Vinya hit. A third came to join that party and missed because of the distracting grue. Which caused Vinya and Marxine to reconsider targeting those.

A cultist got past Vinya and Marxine to attack Elderron but it missed. The cultist in the web broke itself free and climbed over one of the carts to attack Aldalómiel, but it missed. The Speaker fired off two black blasts at Aldalómiel then took cover behind one of the carts.

Elderron cast a sleep spell, trying to do as much as he could to thin the herd building up around Vinya and himself. He got two of them, which was a big help.

There was a lot of swinging and missing (on us) and swinging and hitting (on them) and moving around the battlefield to get to new opponents or line up opportunities.

A grue attacked Comrade and then stayed bitten onto the horse’s flank. Marxine attacked that grue to knock it off her horse, and hit it hard with her axe. The gibbering took on a rather shriekish aspect.

Aldalómiel stayed focused on Speaker -- keeping herself in position to shoot at him and peppering him with arrows whenever she got the chance. Lamie backed her up bashing at him with the spiritual weapon (a floating cloud that shoots out bolts of radiant lightning). Unfortunately, the Speaker was aware of where the damage was coming from (and smarter than the tentacle guy who attacked the spiritual weapon) and he kept firing eldritch blasts at Aldalómiel, which, along with a tentacle guy who was supporting the Speaker, ultimately dropped her.

Elderron was unable to get free of the cultists (who’d mobbed Vinya and Marxine with Elderron very nearby) and pulled his short sword to make an attack.

Mia-warhorse was incredibly effective at charging and attacking cultists and preachers over on that side of the combat (which was her and Lamie). She dropped several of them with her hooves, galloping way from counter attacks to set herself up for another charge.

The cultists and tentacle guys around Vinya and Marxine kept missing because of the grues, so (aside from the one on Comrade) we stopped targeting them. They were helping us more than they were hurting us. Ultimately, they started getting the upper hand, so Vinya was able to move to where she could help Elderon more.

Once again the Speaker fired off eldritch blasts. One of them narrowly missed Lamie. The other blasted apart one of the forest trees.

Elderon cast sleep again, putting two of the cultists that he and Vinya were dealing with to sleep.

The combat was huge and chaotic -- the grues got in some good bites, mostly on Marxine. One of them bit her and the gibbering went to her head and she was a bit muddled for a while (attacks against her were going to be at advantage, which would just cancel out the disadvantage from the gibbering grues). Mia got sacred flamed by one of the preachers.

Lamie was able to disengage from her opponents and jump over a cart so she could heal Aldalómiel. The cultist she’d been fighting with followed her, but was unable to attack.

The Speaker continued to focus his blasts on Mia, who was doing so much damage to his minions. But he missed. Mia immediately justified his focus by charging one of the preachers and dropping him, then turning and kicking one of the tentacle guys.

Aldalómiel, healed, stood up and moved so she could get a clear shot at the Speaker for the Machine -- her arrow pierced his side and he dropped, as she was moving back into cover.

After that there was a lot more combat dealing with the remaining cultists, grues and tentacle guys. Marxine dropped a tentacle guy and finally had herself free of everyone having flanking against her. Vinya dropped a tentacle guy and then punched Marxine’s grue. Elderon moved to position himself for an Aganazzar’s scorcher on the group on one side of Marxine and dropped a grue and a cultist.

Aldalómiel, her main target (the Speaker) dropped, took a shot at the tentacle guy on Marxine. Vinya went to help in the fight against that guy, moving around the scrum to stay out of Aldalómiel’s line of fire. Mia kicked her tentacle guy in the throat, dropping him.

Vinya shoved a stunned civilian out of her way and moved into a position to flank the last cultist not sleeping from one of Elderon’s spells. She dropped it with an unarmed strike. Elderron dropped the last tentacle guy with a firebolt.

After dispatching the sleepers, Lamie cured Aldalómiel.

As we looked around the stunned civilians were emerging from their daze, blinking slowly and looking around.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 6: The Passage to Madness


Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

Absent but traveling along:

Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel - Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)

GM - Everyone Else

Note: Elama's and Mia's players were unable to attend, but they stayed with us, riding in the carts and resting while we traveled.


12 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 13) (immediately after)

We looked around after the last of the cultists fell to see the stunned civilians beginning to rouse from the daze they’d been under looking varying degrees of freaked out by the experience. Elderron called them away from the Machine, so that no one could wind out going into the machine. They were still a bit under the influence of the Speaker for the Machine and therefore easily led and they went where Elderron told them to go.

We got people 60’ away from the Machine, hoping that would be a safe distance for all of us to be away from its mental effects.

The civilians remembered themselves and remembered something of what happened while they were there. While the Speaker was talking he made sense to them and seemed to be leading up to something, but they couldn’t now reconstruct the sense and they didn’t know what he had been leading up to. They went back to their wagons and their original traveling companions. They reported that there were some people missing, but only a few.

The Speaker and the cultists had been gathering people there in the road for a couple of days -- so some of the civilians had been standing there brain-snarfed, without eating and without resting for over 48 hours. They were exhausted and sore. They told us that some people had gone into the machine more than once and came out different every time -- whether with physical or other changes. The people who went in while they were gathered to listen were individually invited by the Speaker, one at a time and personally.

While the merchants were seeing to their horses, who’d been standing in their traces for two days as well, we took a look around at the wagon the Machine was on. We saw a couple of corpses on the wagon -- with gaping holes in their chests, so it seemed that at least a couple of the grues (beachballs) had come from these guys.

The traders who’d encountered the Machine wagon first reported that it was heading toward Tash when they encountered it. The last traders we’d encountered on the road (early the day before) had said they encountered no one heading toward Tash at all until us. So those traders must have dodged a bullet.

Also, the Machine and its cultist entourage must have entered the main road to Tash somewhere between where we encountered that wagon (just outside of Tormul, the village with the spider problem) and this spot. We’d noticed some side tracks along the way, but not paid much attention to them as we were focused on the road to Tash.

We talked to a couple of the traders and told them that there was a town a couple of days back they could stay in. All of them, including those who’d been on the way to Tash (and for whom it was two days away from their destination) agreed that they’d head to Tormul in the morning. It was clear that they planned to travel together as a group for safety’s sake.

We asked about our cart, which we got from the cultists we initially encountered in Tashimeet, to see if there were any clues or indications on it to point to which trading house it had been associated with. They agreed that it looked like it was from Tash. We were told that it looked pretty new -- though they couldn’t tell if it was new equipment for an established trading house or starting equipment for a new house. They did say that it looked to be in good shape.

Marxine: Is there a new trading company?
Traders: There are always companies starting up and fading out.

As the merchants pulled their wagons away from the Machine, ultimately settling in a cluster about 150 feet away, it became clear that a second wagon was left abandoned, next to the Machine wagon. None of them claimed it and it apparently belonged to the Speaker and his entourage. So we took a look at it (the Epiphany Machine took up all of its wagon and there was no room for anything else in it).

In the wagon we found a bunch of stuff. Some of it was laid claim to by the other wagoneers and traders. We let them take their own stuff back. When they had done so, we looked through what was left.

We found many things. The magical items Elderron picked out for us were:

Potions of: Healing, Greater Healing, Climbing and Stone Giant Strength
Staff of Bird Calls (This seemed like a Mia thing.)
A backpack (which turned out to be a Heward’s Handy Haversack)
A Moontouched longsword (its only magical property is that it glows) (Elama)
Scroll of See Invisibility

Elderron was also interested in a book which had several pages torn out of it, and other pages had text scrawled over the already written pages. It turned out to be a spell book. Elderron sat down to look at what he’d found.

With Elderron now distracted, the rest of us dumped out the handy haversack and found:

4 silver trade bars (worth 2500 sp each)
110 platinum pieces (!!)
1700 gold pieces
400 copper pieces

We also found seven art items, each worth 25 gp, to wit:
Two bone statuettes, a matched set of Elven nudes, one male and one female (art, not erotica)
Small gold bracelet
Embroidered silk handkerchief
Set of bone dice
Gold locket with a portrait of a gnome child
Cloth-of-gold vestments

(Vinya would like the two statuettes and will put 25 of her own gold into the pot to buy one from the party, and take the other as her share of the division of treasure.)

(The coinage and art (excluding the trade bars) divide to 18 pp, 1 art object, 283 gp, and 66 cp each. The trade bars will have to wait for a city. This division left over 2 pp, 3 gp, and 4 cp for the party kitty.)

We decided to make camp about 120’ from the Machine wagon, but didn’t want to leave the Machine unattended all night, so we divided up our forces somewhat. Vinya started the night staying with Machine while Elama and Marxine kept watch at the main camp.

Vinya took a look at the machine by torch and lantern light while she was keeping watch. It didn’t look like much -- it looked like a pile of metal bits and rubble, dirty and old -- old steel piled up into a sort of a tunnel. She couldn’t see anything that looked like a moving part or machine, just a pile of rubble that she could sort of see through.

Elderron replaced her on watch at the Machine and she pointed out her observations about the Machine. He noticed that some of the spaces and gaps in the machine met up in ways to make the broken circles in the cultists’ holy symbol. He also spotted some geared pieces in the Machine, but the gears didn’t engage with any other gears, so it wasn’t clear that they were usefully moving pieces.

After Vinya left for her rest, Elderron looked over the Machine for any runes or writing, but didn’t find any. Not even any gibberish.

On third watch, Aldalómiel took over at the Machine. Her examination noticed three shiny, silvery strips of metal integrated into the chaotic structure.

Aside from our explorations, the night passed without incident.


13 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 14)

The next morning, we prepared to leave with the traders. The harness on our cart had been damaged by Marxine during the course of the battle with the Speaker and we got some assistance from one of the wagonmasters in repairing it. We decided, over a bit of objection from Marxine, to keep our cart and let the traders take the cultists’ cart. (The argument for keeping our cart was that if we wanted to find out more information and possibly identify the original owners of our cart, we needed to have it still. The argument against was that we’d gotten probably as much information on that score as we were going to from the traders and having a new cart would be nice.)

Elderron wanted a horse to ride, so we kept two horses for the Machine cart, our two horses (Comrade and White Horse) and one of the horses from the cultists’ wagon. The other horse from the cultists’ wagon was given to the merchants to go with the extra wagon.

We weren’t totally decided what to do with the Machine. Some of us wanted to destroy it, others were more ambivalent about that, but none of us were sure about how to go about it safely or where we should make the attempt. We decided to take it with us, because we obviously couldn’t leave it here as a trap for people to stumble over.

We headed out toward Tormul, watching for side tracks. Mia drove our cart and Marxine the Machine wagon. We closed up the cover on the Machine wagon, so the Machine wasn’t at all visible, just the canvas cover on the wagon. The merchants all stayed behind us, so they wouldn’t mess up any tracks that we might possibly find useful, though with the rain the day before, we weren’t sure how much useful we’d find.

Early in the day, we ran into a trade wagon coming from the Knot. We greeted them and asked if they’d encountered anything weird along the road. They said they’d encountered some really large cat tracks, like tiger or jaguar sized, back on the other side of Tormul (most of two days away).

Marxine: How’s the Knot doing?
Traders: We heard about a kerfuffle -- there were some crazy people at Tashimeet who had a catching form of craziness who were killed before they hurt anyone.

Well, that sounded familiar. So we thanked them and let them continue on their way. Elderron sent Oda up looking for big cats and side tracks.

In the afternoon, we found the side track we’d been looking for, heading to the right into the woods. Aldalómiel and Marxine both thought they could see some evidence of cart traffic on the road, but it was kind of vague because their best guess it predated the rain we’d travelled through.

We parted ways with the merchants and headed up this side track. The side track was cart navigable, but we wanted to have everyone together, so we hitched the Machine wagon to the back of our wagon and had four horses pulling (with Elderron riding his horse alongside).

Right around dusk, as we were travelling up the side road and starting to look for a place to make camp, we heard a lot of loud and unpleasant noises -- a gust of air and much grinding of metal-on-metal and metal-on-wood -- from the Machine. We looked back and saw that the canvas cover on the cart had stuff poking into it at odd angles.

Marxine groaned in pain (she and Aldalómiel had failed a save against a bit of influence from the Machine earlier and Marxine failed another save and took some damage as that bit of influence was wrenched from her).

We looked under the cover and into the wagon and found that the Machine had collapsed in on itself. Elderron cast detect magic and found that the Machine was no longer magical -- all he could detect was a fading magical residue.

We realized that it had been 24 hours since we’d fought the Speaker for the Machine and the cultists -- so perhaps that amount of time without the Speaker, or without having a person fed through it, caused it to collapse.

We poked at it with poles and sticks. Aldalómiel noticed that some coils of wire were rusting and corroding as we watched. We could also see patches of rust and corrosion on the larger pieces of metal spreading and expanding under our eyes as well. As we contemplated that, Aldalómiel also noticed that the three silvery strips of metal she’d spotted were gone -- just disappeared.

Elderron remembered that he’d heard of some powerful items that are hard to destroy because they go away before anyone can do that. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes they don’t.

Great.

Vinya used a piece of chalk to mark the extent of one of the rust patches, so we could keep an eye on how fast it was growing.

We made camp, since it was sunset when the Machine collapsed.

We tied the horses to the carts and made a fire about 15 feet away. During first watch, we saw the fire reflecting in the eyes of a large cat, something like a jaguar. The jaguar circled around the camp and the fire toward the horses. Lamie went to wake up Aldalómiel and Elderron while Vinya moved to the horses nearest the cat, untying them so they weren’t sitting ducks for the jaguar to attack, then she got between them and the jaguar.

(Note: Mia was deemed to be feeling poorly and allowed to sleep instead of taking a watch. Elama was there, but stayed out of combat -- she was available for healing if needed and we decided she could do things like waking people up.)

Aldalómiel stood up and used her sling to hit the jaguar in the flank with a solid shot. The jaguar then proceeded past the party, circling around the horses and out into the woods. Elderron got up and moved in the direction the cat had gone and waited, holding a spell, until it came back.

Vinya yelled for Elama to hold the horses, then moved around the camp to where she could see the jaguar again, keeping an eye on it. Aldalómiel moved to the edge of the camp and waited with her sling until she was confident that it had gone away.

We moved the horses closer to the fire and the camp, so they wouldn’t be so vulnerable if the jaguar came back. The rest of the night passed without incident.


14 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 15)

The next morning, we took a look at the Machine. The wire had completely degraded away, leaving nothing but a haze of rust powder where it had been. The rust patches we’d marked the evening before had grown in extent and were deeper -- with rust flaking off the surface. The bronze pieces in the Machine had turned green with bronze disease. It looked like normal metal aging, but very accelerated. We figured there were maybe a few days before it was entirely gone.

We continued on the track with the remains of the Machine in its wagon hitched to the back of our wagon.

Before noon, we spotted some humans dressed like woodsmen or loggers crossing the road. They jumped and yelped in startlement when they saw up.

Loggers: We weren’t expecting to see anyone.
Us: Sorry. Has anything weird been going on?
Loggers: A few days ago we heard someone screaming...screaming and sort of gibbering on this same road. That wasn’t you?

We assured them that it wasn’t.

Marxine: What’s up the road?
Loggers: Just woods.
Marxine: Where are you coming from?
Loggers: There’s a logging camp that way (they pointed behind them). We’re heading toward another camp in the woods over that way (pointing into the woods on the other side of the road in front of them).
Marxine: This road goes somewhere.
Loggers: Well, there’s a big logging camp up the road -- there’s a sawmill that cuts the logs into boards. They put some logs and the boards on to carts to take a back road to Tash. It’s a bit of a shortcut from here and they can stay off the bandits on the main road.

We thanked them and wished them well and continued on our way.

Shortly before nightfall, we came up on an old stockade which surrounded an old logging camp. The wall looked to be in good shape, but the gate was open and the camp was completely abandoned. The buildings looked as though logs and lumber had been pulled down and used for something else.

That something else appeared to have been something in the middle of the camp. There we found a pile of rotted wood -- really moldy, rotted, and soft to the touch. Looking around we saw that the stockade, the parts of the buildings that were not torn down, and the wooden furniture all appeared to be normal -- they weren’t showing much sign of aging or wear. But the wood in the middle of the camp, approximately the same age, was rotted and nearly turned into compost.

The stockade showed no sign of there having been a fight or struggle around it, but some signs of that would have been lost in the rain and might have been missed.

Interestingly, despite the chaotic nature of the Machine (which appeared to have been made of wood in this camp) the buildings appeared to have been un-built or disassembled quite methodically from the top down.

Elderron looked around the village for a smithy or a forge. When he found it, he noticed that all of the metal he’d expect to be associated with a forge was still there. He also could see that someone had done something with a lot of metal. It was as though someone had brought in a lot of metal -- it wasn’t smelted or forged here, but they were breaking down metal into smaller pieces, pulling wire, that sort of thing.

It looked like the metal Machine we’d encountered was perhaps at least partially built here, replacing the wooden one in the center of the camp.

There was no sign of anyone alive in the camp.

The road didn’t continue on past this point…

Vinya: Well, crap, y’all.

We observed that we have a chicken and egg problem -- crazy people make the Machine to make crazy people.

Elderron: Maybe the warlock (the Speaker) made a pact with the Hunger Between Worlds to learn how to make the machine. Making more cultists.

Elderron also noticed that there was no saw here -- not even a place for one. Maybe they had a portable one? We checked in the remains of the metal Machine and didn’t see any sign of anything like a saw blade.

We tried throwing some pieces of wood onto the composting wood pile and it didn’t change -- it just continued to be wood. Bringing the remains of the metal Machine near to the remains of what we believed to be a wooden Machine didn’t do anything, so we made camp inside the stockade, since it would be a defensible and safe position.

We realized that this could be a cultist camp.

We kept watches during the night, even though we were in the safety of the stockade. We heard at various times of the night the yowling of the jaguar hunting in the woods around us.

On second watch, Elama, Elderron and Aldalómiel heard what sounded like shrieking or laughter off at a great distance in the direction we’d been going.

Elderron: That’s highly unusual.

He woke everyone else up and we all listened, poised for anything to happen. Fifteen minutes later, the shrieking laughter stopped.

Elderron sent Oda out to take a look, but he didn’t see anything close to the camp.

Marxine: The cat could have made a new meal.

We agreed that was a definite possibility.


15 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 16)

The next morning dawned cold, clear and wintry.

Looking at the road outside the logging camp, we saw signs of something large and heavy having been dragged along the ground in the direction we’d been heading. That was the same direction we’d heard the shrieking laughter from.

We headed out, going that way, following the drag-mark tracks. We presumed these were the sign of the heavy load of metal having been dragged to the camp from somewhere.

Shortly after lunch, we started getting into some more mountainous terrain.

We came upon a narrow valley with something that looked a bit like a Greek ampitheater, sized for giants, with the seats in an arc carved out of the mountain on one side and the stage against the mountain on the other side. We entered at the top of the seats.. From a distance, we could see something in a square (or polygonal/angular structure). As we got closer we could tell that it was an 11-ringed gimballed circle, like a huge version of the cultists’ holy symbol. Inside the innermost circle was a desiccated corpse. (The metal holy symbol is 11 rings joined to gimbal and spin in different directions. That was mounted so that it could spin on yet another axis inside the metal polyhedron on the stage. The corpse was inside the symbol.)

Marxine looked at the corpse -- from the distance we were at (about 150’) she could see no sign of it being rotten, but we were still a ways off.

Vinya looked around for any structures other than the ampitheater built into the sides of two mountains -- huts for actors to be in, a building with a green room or any of the other infrastructure specifically associated with a theater, a village for people who attend the theater in this place. That sort of thing. There was nothing in the vicinity.

Elderron cast detect magic and walked toward the amphitheater, accompanied by Vinya and Marxine (in case this was an ambush of some sort).

When the party were about 120’ from the stage, the rings began to spin, each on its own axis, until the corpse was facing us, its head lolling. Then its eyes opened and it began to shudder and twitch, yanking itself against the rusty spikes holding its hands and feet to the rings. Shrieking laughter rang forth in many voices and many timbres, while the body in the rings stared fixedly at the party.

Beyond, a section of the cliff wall and floor slid down and away with a deep grinding and small showers of rock dust, opening a passage into the darkness.

We ended there, with the darkness beckoning in front of us.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 7: Into The Creepy Place

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest)

GM - Everyone Else


15 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 16) (immediately after)

We ended last time at the top of the amphitheater, scaled for giants, looking down into the bowl of the theater at the stage, where a square (or polygonal/angular structure) sat. It was an 11-ringed gimballed circle, like a huge version of the cultists’ holy symbol. Inside the innermost circle was a desiccated corpse, with its eyes open staring at us. The sound of crazed laughter echoed through the amphitheater, but didn’t appear to be coming from the corpse.

Before we went into the passage that had opened behind the stage of the ampitheater, Elama cast Aid on Aldalomiel, Marxine and Mia.

The amphitheater (and the stairs down toward the stage) were scaled for giants, but someone had made a ramp that filled in the giant steps. The gouge marks we’d been following marred the surface of the ramp.

As we descended the ramp, the gimballed contraption turned to keep the open eyes of the desiccated corpse facing us at all times. It appeared to be a young giant -- ogre-sized but clearly a child. Once we got to the stage, Elama cast sacred flame on the corpse. The corpse was destroyed but the laughing continued.

The drag-mark trail came out of the cliff opening and went up the ramp. There were some smears of blood in the drag marks, but not enough to suggest that they were dragging a corpse. More a suggestion that one or more of the people doing the dragging had been injured.

It appeared to Aldalomiel that from the tracks there might have been several trips with heavy things.

The steps (converted to a ramp) continued descending into the cliff, so we just kept going down into the darkness (that, thanks to Mia’s night-vision goggles, we could all see in). When we passed through the opening into the cliff face, the shrieking laughter stopped. After a bit the ramp flattened out into a large (45’ square room with doors on each of the other three rooms. Everything in the room was both giant-scale, and broken. There was a litter of broken chairs and tables and other furniture. Marxine couldn’t get a sense of what kind of giant this might have been. The art on the doors, however, looked almost fey, but at giant scale. Vinya looked for writing or pictographs and saw none.

We listened at the doors and didn’t hear anything. The door on the far wall clearly was where the drag-mark trail went. The other two doors appeared to have been opened. Elderron checked the drag-mark door for traps and found that there was some sort of counterweight mechanism -- he didn’t see any indication that it would deal damage (no stones dropping or anything) but opening the door would make something happen. Perhaps an alarm.

He didn’t see any traps at the other two doors, so we decided to explore those first. Elderron used his mage hand to open one. There were four humanoid skeletons in there -- completely aware of our presence and ready to attack the moment the door opened.

They hit most of the party while we were still standing there gaping, giving Elama a chance to use her retaliatory lightning bolt retribution. Mia cast Faerie FIre, hoping to give us advantage on attacking them, but most of them dodged the sparkling effect. Aldalomiel’s swords hit, but with less effect than usual.

Vinya managed to shatter one with her quarterstaff then punched the one on Elama, dropping it as well. Marxine, seeing how effective the bludgeoning blows were compared to Aldalomiel’s swords, punched hers to death as well.

The last skeleton managed to get a good critical hit in on Elama before it was smashed by Mia’s shillelagh.

We searched the room we found the skeletons in and there was nothing in it but broken, giant-sized furniture.

The room on the other side (without drag-marks) had nothing but four piles of rotting meat -- apparently the flesh that was once on the skeletons. It was pretty gross so we closed the door and decided to save that room for more in-depth searching if we wound out with no other direction to explore.

Elderron used his mage hand again to open the third door, with the drag-marks through it. It opened onto a small corridor. As the door opened, the stairs behind us (i.e. the only known exit) rose up into the ceiling, so that there was nothing but blank wall.

Elama closed the door again, but the stairs didn’t come back.

Well, shit.

Elderron didn’t see any traps in the hall, so we proceeded that way. The walls of the corridor were decorated with frescoes depicting giants in the halls of Fey Nobles. Elderron has heard of there once having been giants that were native to the Feywild. They did something and were exiled from the Feywild. This could be where they lived in their exile.

On examination, Elderron found that the door at the far end of the corridor also had some sort of counterweight. We had some vague hope that it would open the stairs back up so Elderron used his mage hand to open the door. We heard some thumps behind us (in the direction of the entrance room) and got our hopes all up, but when we checked, the stairs were still gone.

Dammit.

Looking through the new door, we found a very large room with 40+ foot high ceilings -- the room itself disappeared into darkness, even for everyone in the party with dark vision. We could see six broken statues lining the walls near the entrance. Elama lit up her sword, for comfort as much as anything else, and Elderron had Oda fly into the room 60’ ahead of us to see what he could see.

About 120’ ahead of us, the ceiling of the chamber was collapsed and the back corner of the room was in rubble. The rubble filled up the room all the way to the ceiling -- there was no way to climb over the rubble to get beyond it, but there appeared to be a gap on one side. There were also two doors -- one on each side wall.

Marxine and Vinya wedged torches into the statue-rubble, lighting up the end of the room. The ceiling showed more frescoes -- beautiful giants doing wonderful things.

Mia turned into a panther and she, along with Vinya and Aldalomiel (Team Sneak), went to explore the rubble and to see what that passage looked like. There appeared to be a way to get around the rubble on the left side of the room, a narrow passage between the rubble and the wall of the room.

The rest of the party (Elderron, Marxine, and Elama -- Team Not-Sneak Plus Wizard) moved a bit closer to our end of the room so there wasn’t so much space between the two groups.

While Team Sneak looked around and Team Not-Sneak waited for their return, Elama in the back was attacked by two flying, flappy winged things made of stone. Gargoyles.

She did her lightning retribution on the one that hit her then screamed to get everyone’s attention.

Mia-panther ran back to the rest of the party and pounced on one, attacking with a claw. Vinya shot a bolt of light like sunlight from her hand, summoning her ki to shoot two more times when the first one hit. Aldalomiel’s swords sort of skittered over the stone, but didn’t really do much damage. Elderron cast magic missile, but with radiant darts (rather than force darts), having seen the damage that Vinya’s sun-bolts had done.

The gargoyles both attacked Aldalomiel with claws and bites, hitting her many times. Mia turned back into her normal form and cast a Moonbeam spell over both of them. Aldalomiel got a more solid hit with her sword just before Elama cured her wounds up.

Marxine hit the one that we’d done more damage to with her axe, then it turned to her and savaged her with a critical hit from its claws. Mia hit that one with her shillelagh and knocked its head right off of its shoulders. Then she moved around to try to set up flanking for Elama, or at least get close to it on the other one. Vinya fired off another sun-bolt from her hand, which missed, then she went up and just punched it.

Elama took a few steps around the gargoyle to get into a position to flank it with Mia then attacked with her magical sword, which took a big chunk out of the gargoyle. Marxine took a swing at it with her axe but missed, then it turned and attacked her. Fortunately she’d gotten a second wind and was able to withstand the blows. After a couple more hits, Aldalomiel hit it with both of her swords and was able to drop it.

Vinya went and poked the other broken statues to see if any gargoyles were going to come out of them, but they seemed to be okay.

We wanted to take a short rest there before proceeding, but didn’t want to be attacked by anything coming from the side rooms, so we used pitons to spike the doors closed. Mia also propped up Marxine’s shovel on one and put her pot in front of the other -- so we’d have an audible alarm if the doors were opened.

After our rest, Team Sneak tried again to see what was going on around the rubble and especially what appeared to be a gap around the rubble on the left side of the room. Vinya and Mia both tripped over some of the rubble, so Team Sneak wasn’t very sneaky this time. They could hear some voices gibbering from inside the rubble then some grues (beachballs) came out through gaps in the rubble. Six of them.

Vinya hit one of them with her quarterstaff (a rarity) then punched it, dropping it, then she moved to keep Elama from getting two of them on her. She wound out with two herself, who got flanking against her, but mostly missed. And Elama still had two, one of which missed so badly we weren’t actually sure who it was swinging at.

Marxine moved to attack the one threatening Elderron and utterly destroyed it with her axe.

While we were fighting them, a gibbering mouther appeared at the end of the rubble corridor and began moving in our direction.

We dropped the remaining grues as quickly as possible so that we were ready to focus on the gibbering mouther. Vinya shot three sun-bolts at the mouther, hitting it twice, then it spit out a blinding flash in her direction but she covered her eyes. Elderron cast magic missile on it, hitting it well. Mia stayed back and shot with her crossbow, staying out of the difficult terrain around the mouther.

Aldalomiel moved right up to it and attacked with her swords. Vinya shot another sun-bolt at it. Once again it spit out a blinding flash, but both of them had their eyes closed and were not blinded. The mouther then attacked Aldalomiel, but the bite wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

Marxine took it out with a thrown axe.

We proceeded around the “corridor” around the rubble to a cleared space with a hole in the floor. There were drag-marks around the hole in the floor. Vinya and Marxine looked down the hole and saw a pile of rubble -- it could be clambered up and down, but didn’t make a ramp all the way to the edge of the hole. There were four humanoid corpses on the pile, two of which had a bunch of eruptions -- like multiple grues had burst out of them. There were also what appeared to be two humanoid skins, wet and red inside, like the insides of a person had come out of the skin.

Marxine: We haven’t seen this before.

The remains appeared to be quite fresh.

Elama cast sacred flame on the skins.

We put a piton in the floor and tied a rope to it, preparing a way down. Vinya stuck her head down the hole and saw an otherwise empty room about 25’ by 40’ with openings -- hallways or excavated passages -- out of it.

We decided to go back to the two doors out of the room with the rubble and see what was through those side doors before going down a rope into the unknown darkness. Elderron used his mage hand to the first one and there was a lot of rubble beyond. There was a narrow space around the rubble and it appeared as though people had been excavating the room. Marxine peeked around the corner and saw a passage through the rubble that lead to some giant-sized stairs that went down into the darkness. The rest of us joined her. Elderron and Elama heard claws skittering on the stone at the bottom of the stairs.

We backed out of the room and closed the doors, securing them with pitons and using Mia’s pot as an alarm again.

The other door just had rubble on the other side, filling the room to the ceiling (or at least above the door) without any sign that anyone had dug in there at all.

We went back to the hole and listened carefully for that scratching, skittering sound and heard nothing.

So we climbed down the hole.

There were two openings out of the room, both of which had some of the drag-marks through them. The openings went into symmetrical rooms. The stone looks like it has been worked, but these rooms are not scaled to giants -- the ceilings aren’t high enough.

Following the left-most path of scrapes in the floor we found our way through a number of rooms laid out so that we were weaving through them in a series of what felt like U-turns, ignoring a few openings/doorways until we found a very large room, though still not giving a sense of being giant-scale (as far as the ceiling height, door height, that sort of thing), with a door at the far end.

The scrapes on the floor didn’t go in that direction, so we continued to follow them into a long narrow room which ultimately opened up into a great big room with a fair amount of metal scrap piled up around on the floor. Marxine and Vinya saw a pattern in the ceiling that indicated that the bright metal bands that had been in the Epiphany Machine (and disappeared from it when it collapsed) could once have been attached to the ceiling of this room.

The walls were worked stone, unpainted and undecorated.

We checked the scrap metal on the floor for any sign of unnatural rusting and found none. On the other hand, the ceiling was extremely weathered or churfed up looking. Unnaturally aged.

We started to hear the sound of skittering, as though lots of things with claws were skittering around.

We turned around to find something skittering up behind us -- it looked like something was erupting from a humanoid body and bringing the body along with it.

We ended with that appearing from one of the unexplored passages we’d ignored in our focus on following the drag-marks.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 8: Through the Circle


Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))

GM - Everyone Else


15 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 16) (immediately after)

We were looking out of the big room with the scrap metal in it down the hall and saw a nasty-looking thing (a star spawn mangler) skittering up behind the hall. We could also hear some grues as well, their gibbering echoing into the room.

The mangler was far enough down the hall that we couldn’t immediately engage them, which was probably for the best.

Mia cast a faerie fire on the mangler, but it was more nimble than it seemed like it should be and avoided the effect. As it was dodging away a bunch of grues (5 of them) boiled out of the doorway behind the mangler. One of them ran up to Aldalomiel, who’d moved up into the hallway and was dodging, and bit in her general direction.

Elderron shot that one with a firebolt. Lamie cast sacred flame on the mangler, but it again saved against it. Vinya shot a bolt of sunlight from the palm of her hand at the grue on Aldalomiel. Marxine moved forward as far as she could, trying to get into combat.

The mangler slithered and slimed its way to Aldalomiel, unfolded and extruded a lot of bladed tentacles and arms and attacked her many times, missing with all of them -- some because she dodged the blows, some because it was swinging wildly. In return, she attacked the mangler with her two swords, hitting with both of them.

Mia cast a Thunderwave on the mangler and two of the grues -- all of them took some damage from the thunderous noise, and one grue was pushed away from the party.

The grues continued boiling forward, two of them attacking Vinya and one more going to Aldalomiel (since they were furthest forward in the party). Both of the grues hit Vinya.

Elderron shot some magic missiles into the mangler. Elama cast bane on the mangler and two of the grues. Vinya used her quarterstaff and a punch on the grues on her, hitting the one that had been faerie fired.

Marxine chugged past Vinya, putting a healing potion into Vinya’s hand as she went, then attacked the mangler on Aldalomiel. It turned around and attacked her with its six bladed tentacle/arms and hit her a couple of times.

Aldalomiel attacked the mangler with her two swords again and again hit both times doing really a lot of damage. Which softened it up so that when Mia cast another thunderwave, it dropped, collapsing into itself. Two grues were pushed away from us and another one died in the thunder’s roar as well.

The two that were pushed away ran back to Aldalomiel and attacked her, getting a hit. Elderron cast a sleep spell on the 4 remaining grues and the mangler, which we believed to be dead but weren’t totally sure. Two of the grues fell asleep. Elama dropped one of the grues that was still awake and Vinya killed the other one. Then we dispatched summarily the two sleepers.

Vinya drank a healing potion and Elama cast cure wounds on Aldalomiel. We went back to the large room with all the scrap metal and found an exit on the other side of the room symmetrical to the entrance we were in. Aldalomiel, Vinya, and Elderron took a short rest while Marxine and Mia looked around at the room. The stone ceiling of the room looked unnaturally aged and weathered and showed signs of metal bands having been across the ceiling. Those bands were gone. The scrap metal in the room did not appear to be unnaturally aged or aging -- it’s just scrap.

Elderron: How did the metal get here?

The scrape marks on the floor that we’ve been following went through both doorways to this large room and we were not able to tell whether they were marks from the metal being dragged in or out.

After our rest and exploration in the scrap metal room, we left by the other door and explored in that direction. This complex appears to be entirely symmetrical, which struck us all as strange for a chaos-infected place. The whole area had some very old elven-seeming decor -- it was non-representational but something like, but not exactly elven, lines and motifs. Marxine recognized it as not elven, but Fey. There was no furniture -- the only things we’d found in the complex were the pile of rubble (under the hole in the floor we’d come down through) and the scrap metal.

In our explorations we found a door that couldn’t go anywhere but to the scrap metal room, in a place where there was no door in the scrap metal room. Elderron examined the door and found no traps or anything on it, so with most of us standing well back he used his mage hand to open it.

Through the door was a 20’ square room (that would have to be IN the scrap metal room) made from an entirely different kind of stone than where we are.

Vinya threw a rock into the room -- it just landed with an entirely predictable clatter. Then she held onto Marxine’s belt so that Marxine could lean into the room and touch the rocks. They were rocks.

We took ten minutes for Elderron to cast detect magic and he detected potent conjuration magic at the doorway. He figured that this was a gateway or portal. Because of the Fey carvings and decorations on the door, we guess that it would be a portal to the Feywild.

There was no indication that the Cultists of the Hunger Between Worlds were interested at all in this room, so we saved this doorway for later and went to another doorway we’d found and not yet explored while Elderron still had the detect magic going. In all we found three magical doors all radiating powerful conjuration magic (presumably portals to the Feywild), each with different decorations on them. Elderron spotted the name of one of the families of Fey Nobles on one of the doors while he was looking at it, sort of worked into the decorations. With that information we went back to the other two doors and found the names of the other two Fey Noble houses. The three are Tiziano (whose eldest members are The Voice in the Hills and the Irresistible Flow), the Verdis (whose eldest members are the Blossoming Tree and the Enveloping Wind), and the Dantes (whose eldest members are the Unfathomed and the Seething Mountain).

We saved in the back of our mind going through one of the doors -- probably not the Dantes since either of the other seem like they’re probably nicer, based on the information we have.

We decided to finish out this complex by going back up through the hole in the ceiling to the floor above and heading to the giant-sized stairs, where we’d heard skittering noises earlier. As we went we checked and confirmed that the exit back to the amphitheater was still closed (it was).

The stairs were dimly lit (with the same phosphorescent/bioluminescent fungi we’d seen elsewhere in the dungeon) and opened out into a very very large room that looked perhaps like a throne room. We didn’t really get a chance to take in the details, because there were four of the grues and a gibbering mouther in it.

We focused first on the mouther, because it was the bigger threat -- Elderron cast a powerful magic missile at it, Vinya shot three of her sun bolts at it, and Elama cast a shatter spell and drew down the power of the tempest into it to give it maximum damage killing a couple of the grues. Marxine moved into the room and dodged, as did Aldalomiel (who still had her swords in her hands).

The mouther moved closer to us (slowly, slowly) and spit a blinding flash on Marxine and Mia. Mia was blinded by it. (Note: this worked out okay, because her player had to leave early and this left Mia not actively participating in the combat.)

Aldalomiel killed a grue and wound up next to the mouther. Elderron cast burning hands on one grue and the mouther, killing a grue. Vinya used her quarterstaff to take out the mouther and then punched the final grue into oblivion.

Then we were able to look around the room. There was a raised dais/platform at the far end of the room, with a few giant-scale steps leading up to it. There were humanoid-sized doors symmetrically placed on either side of the dais. On the dais was a rubble of broken wood. In the middle of the dais were giant-sized double doors. The room was decorated with frescoes of beautiful giants in the feywild.

We checked out the double doors and, seeing no traps or locks, Elama and Marxine worked together to open them. There was a large room on the other side, with an arch-shape inset on the far wall. The arch wasn’t an opening, just an arch of different stone, giant-height, with four tiles at the top of it and one blank space. There were more tiles on the floor. Elderron cast detect magic and determined that this was also powerful conjuration magic. The art in this room was also of noble giants and noble fey.

Marxine took a look at the tiles on the floor -- they were the size and weight of a dinner plate and had symbols on them. We laid out the ones we had and noticed that they had dwarven letters on them, but the four at the top of the arch didn’t look like they were getting ready to form any word that Marxine recognized.

Mia, recognizing the dwarven letters as the ones used to write giantish, thought maybe this was going to be a word in giantish.

Marxine went back to the previous room and looked at the rubble on the dais. Most of it was the ruins of a throne, but looking at the pieces of the throne she saw no sign of letters or a name.

We decided to explore the two humanoid-sized doors to either side of the dais. They were both the same -- they led to halls with 3 doors on each side and a double door at the end. The doors on the sides led to small rooms with broken and unusable bunk beds (8 to a room). The double door at the end of the hall led to a large, sunken bathing room. The bath had warm and really very unpleasant looking stagnant water in it -- it had been sitting at body temperature for a hundred years or more.

Ick.

So we left the baths, and the bunk rooms, undisturbed and went back to play with the arch and the tiles.

Elderron recognized the letters on the arch as forming part of a word that would be cognate for an old fey name. He found the tile on the floor necessary to make that complete and used his mage hand to put it up in the empty tile slot. Veins in the green marble arch began to glow and the arch filled with green mist.

We watched it slightly nervously for a minute, at which time the mist disappeared and the tile fell to the ground with a clatter (and without breaking).

Elderron cast another mage hand, picked up a tile at random, and put it in the empty slot. There was a low, sustained pinging noise then the tile fell to the ground, but there was no mist or anything.

We decided to take a long rest in the room with the arch. While the others were starting to set up camp, Vinya and Elama went to look for the stairs back out to the amphitheater in the mountains. They figured that it might be possible to un-jam the mechanism to open the door and have access to the stairs out again. They did not do so -- with the dungeon cleared out, it was kind of safe down there. They did go back and report this to the others.

The night passed without incident.


16 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 17)

The next morning, Vinya got Mia to teach her how to pronounce the name we were going to be making (the first one, cognate to the old Fey name) in proper giantish. Then Elderron used his mage hand to put the tile into the slot in the arch and we all walked through the green mist.

We came out of the mist into an identical room -- identical except that the huge double doors were open and broken. The arch had four different letters at the top and an empty slot for a fifth -- but there were no extra tiles on the floor.

So we weren’t going back that way.

The room on the other side of the broken double doors looked more broken up and with more rubble, including stone where apparently some of the passages had collapsed. We could see sunlight coming in through the stairs up. The art wasn’t the same as at the hall we’d left -- but the content (beautiful giants and fey) was basically the same.

We looked down the two side halls (with the bunkrooms and bath rooms) and the halls were caved in entirely.

We went up the stairs toward the light. At the top of the stairs were another pair of broken doors in the back of a cave facing east. We were seeing the sunrise in an unfamiliar location -- the terrain was rocky and hilly and the vegetation was drier and scrubbier than we’d left. It was cold and our breath blew out in clouds - wherever we were, it was still winter. There was a river glittering in the distance.

The curvature of the river suggested to Vinya that perhaps we were in the mountains east of the city Erlin, on the Hochor River. If so, we were perhaps fifteen days from Erlin.

Looking around the cave it appeared that this cave compound had been abandoned a century or centuries earlier.

It was also abundantly clear that there was no way back to where we’d come from. We just had to go forth and start traveling.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 9: Falaggo, The Walking Man


Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))

GM - Everyone Else


16 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 17) (immediately after)

It was early in the day -- we stepped to the mouth of the cave in time to see the sun rising in the east. Off to the north we could see a river, probably the Tulnod River, which runs into the Hochor River around Erlin. The cave we were in had clearly been unoccupied and disused for a long time -- the best guess we could make was that it had been empty for hundreds of years.

As is always a good idea when lost in the wilderness, we headed toward the river, with the plan to follow it downstream to the Hochor. At least then we’d be in a city and be able to figure out what we wanted to do.

Elderron expressed some dismay at the loss of the horses, left behind outside the giant amphitheater. Hopefully someone will come along to take care of White Horse, Comrade, Brown Horse2 and White Horse2.

We headed out of the cave along a fairly wide track, still in giant-scale, that went along the side of the mountain -- steeply up on one side and steeply down on the other (like driving in the mountains). The track had clearly not been used in a long time and had not been maintained. There were some boulders (rockfall from above) and scrubby vegetation fairly thickly in the track, making it difficult terrain. (Fortunately, Aldalómiel was able to guide us all through it.)

After a while we heard voices, multiple voices, arguing up ahead and saw a deep red splash on the road surrounding some sort of heap of mess. That resolved into the body of a mountain sheep surrounded by a large blood stain in the road. There were two giants, each with two heads, having a heated 4-way argument about who got to eat the dead mountain sheep. There was clearly no allegiance or fondness between any of the heads -- it was kind of a war of all against all.

We decided to fight them, because Elderron had heard of these things, ettins, and knew them to be evil. Also, while we thought we were way out in the wilderness far from any outpost of civilization, we could have been wrong and if we were, they would be a danger to people.

We split into two groups -- Vinya, Elama, and Aldalómiel snuck around on the mountain-goes-up side of the track and Marxine, Mia, and Elderron snuck around on the mountain-goes-down side of the track. The ettins were so busy arguing amongst themselves that they didn’t notice us until we had them completely surrounded.

Once we were all in position, with the ettins flanked on both sides, Aldalómiel fired an arrow at them but just missed. Vinya followed up with radiant sunbolts, hitting with two and firing one into a rock in the road. Then she dodged around behind a large rock outcropping. Elderron cast a Mind Spike on one of them, doing it a great deal of mental damage.

Somehow despite all of that, they continued arguing with one another.

Elama cast Shatter right on top of the poor dead sheep, scattering its remains in the blast of thunderous energy and also catching both of the ettins. Mia turned into a black bear and attacked, but not to great effect. (Mia spent the entire combat being disappointed by the black bear form. The war horse was a more impressive combatant.

Marxine, who’d been working on improving her foot speed, was able to rush in and attack the same one that Mia-bear was attacking. Aldalómiel took another shot, since there was no real reason for her to get into melee. Vinya, on the other hand, ran in and attacked one with her quarterstaff and a kick to the kneecap.

Elderron cast what looked like a magic missile spell, but we all saw that the darts were made of flame. Elama ran in with her long sword and Mia-bear attacked again.

Cool!

Eventually, the ettins twigged to the fact that they were under attack and got stopped arguing with one another. One of them got a hit on Elama with its big spiked club. She did her retaliatory strike, but the lightning bolts were really weak and didn’t do much damage. The other ettin got a good hit on Mia-bear -- it didn’t do quite enough damage to knock her back into being a firbolg. But it was close.

Marxine got in a really good hit. Aldalómiel cast hunter’s mark and then took a shot at the other one -- doing a tremendous amount of damage as the arrow went in through one ear, out the other side of that head, then lodged deeply into the other head. It dropped.

Vinya turned her attention to the other one, hitting it with the quarterstaff and a roundhouse kick to the other kneecap. Elderron, a bit away from the combat, moved closer and cast a firebolt on it. Elama hit it with her longsword.

None of that was enough to drop it, which was a pity, because it turned around and hit Marxine with its greataxe.

Fortunately, Mia-bear was there and clawed it to death.

We contemplated the wreck of the mountain-sheep carcass for a moment, trying to determine if there was anything edible there.

Even as a bear, Mia turned her nose up at it.

We continued on our way -- we decided that none of us were badly hurt enough that we needed even a short rest.

After a few more hours of walking, we came around a corner of the mountain and the trail looked across a valley. On the other side of the valley was a cliff that clearly looked like a huge human face.

The trail began to switchback down that side of the mountain, so we got the opportunity to see the face from different angles -- Marxine noticed that from some angles it looked like a carved and weathered face. From other angles, it just looked like weathered stone.

When it looked like a carving, the style was clearly not the same as the Fey/Fomorian art in the cavern complexes we’d been in.

We decided to head in that direction when we got to the valley floor -- it took a few hours but we got to the base of the cliff. From that vantage point there was none of the perspective that allowed the face to be seen -- just uniquely weathered rocks.

We walked around the base of the cliff looking for signs that people had been there. Also looking for a place to make camp because it was getting on toward sunset at that point. Mia found a bit of an overhang under the face -- not a cave but it did provide shelter from the elements. This overhang showed signs of having been used as a campsite before -- previous users had cleaned up well, but there were signs of a fire here and places where the soil had been tramped down. All the signs were old and human-scale, not giant scale. And there was no sign that it had been used as anything more than just a campsite -- there were no signs of ritual activity around.

Mia went out to look for firewood while Aldalómiel hunted for our dinner, then we settled down for a nice evening’s meal and relaxation with the fire. The moon was full, or nearly so, so the night was bright even away from the fire.

As people headed to their bedrolls, while the first watch got themselves settled, someone observed that if there were wolves around the area, at least they wouldn’t mew.

The night began quietly, but early in second watch, Elama, Elderron and Marxine saw a roiling patch of dense ground fog roll up the valley. It didn’t cause much alarm until it rolled into camp.

As the fog boiled around us, we heard all the sounds of war -- dragon roars, screams, giants yelling and making war cries. Those of us who were sleeping (or in trance) jolted awake as the clash of weapons and screams of the dying rang around us.

Then the fog rolled on over and away and the night was quiet again.

Elama, still rattled: And I said I was glad to be away from the creepy stuff.

We looked around and saw that while it had looked like fog, it hadn’t left any moisture behind.

Looking out from our shelter under the overhanging cliff face, we could see the “fog” as an amorphous cloud, about 15’ across, still rolling around the valley, without any aim or purpose.

Aldalómiel, shaken, sensed to see if there were any dragonborn nearby, and sensed none.

While she did that, Elama gave Elderron guidance while he tried to think about whether he’d heard of anything like this before. After a moment of thinking Elderron and Mia both remembered that way way back before the Severance -- longer before the Severance than it was before the now - there was another cataclysm. It either was, or led to, a great war between the Giants and the Dragons. The huge, ferocious battles left marks on the land in the form of this cloud (and other things). We wondered if maybe the presence of the cloud had something to do with the full moon.

It occurred to us that the face in the cliff could have been a giant face.

We eventually went back to resting and the rest of the night passed without incident.


17 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 18)

Leaving our campsite in the morning, we found the trail that the previous campers had taken to get there and followed it down and away toward the river. It was not a very travelled trail -- our best guess was that people maybe used that overhang as a campsite one or two times a year. (So this was somewhere between an actual track and a game trail.) After we headed out the wind began to pick up and pick up and pick up until it was practically howling up the valley, though the sky was clear. It seemed perhaps a bit strange to Aldalómiel and Mia, but not unnatural.

Around noon-ish the track became more clearly an established trail. Shortly after that there were two rock-piles, one on either side of the trail, and some broken rocks across the trail. Marxine figured out that there was once a stone arch, probably human-sized, across the trail here. It collapsed more recently than the Fomorian cave complex was abandoned. Vinya picked up one of the rocks and looked at the under-side of it, where it had been protected from weathering, and saw that there were Elven carvings there. Not words, just Elven decorative motifs.

Once we have a firmer grip on where this place is, Vinya will want to mark it on a map so we can learn more about it. As we walked we talked about where we were -- we figured that we still had about a day’s travel to get to the little river that goes to the Hochor. Once we were at the river, we’d be on a proper road and possibly in more civilized territory.

Over the course of the day, the temperature dropped by a lot (close to 40 degrees) but the wind moderated, so the cold wasn’t blowing right through us. Clearly a cold front had come through.

As the day wore on, the trail began to look like a legitimate trail. Eventually, toward the end of the day we saw some wheel ruts in it. Which seemed a little weird because where would anyone be going in a cart out here? There’s nowhere to go.

Anyway, we eventually found a good place to make camp. Mia and Aldalómiel foraged for food and firewood again, bringing us back supplies to make a good stew and a warm camp. The moon was completely full and bright, lighting the area around us with bright light and stark shadows.

Most of the night passed, until early third watch. Aldalómiel had gone a bit away from camp (still clearly in sight, but far enough away to make it clear that she wanted to be alone). The rest of us saw a tall man, looking more or less human-ish, wearing dark woolen clothing with dark fur trim, heavy boots, and a small rucksack on his back. The boots looked like he’d walked a million miles in them, and the rucksack was so worn that it had practically shaped itself to his body.

He greeted the camp.

Vinya invited him to warm himself at our fire then, once he’d sat down, introduced herself and asked if he’d been traveling in the area long.

Man: I’ve spent a lot of time here, yes. My name is Falaggo

Vinya asked him about the face in the mountains while Mia put the stewpot back on the fire to warm it up for him. We also woke up Elderron and Elama.

He asked us where we’d come from and Vinya said that we’d come out of a cave in the mountains, having gotten there from somewhere else. He named the cave we were in near Tash, Feynon, and the cave we’d just walked out of. Since he clearly knew about the Fomorian caves, Vinya didn’t hesitate to tell him that we’d been after cultists with the Epiphany Machine and hoped to destroy it, but it had disappeared and the trail had lead only to the Fomorian complex near Tash.

Fallago: The Machine is why we kicked them out.

We figured out quickly that Fallago was a Fey and talking about the Fey kicking the Fomori out of the Feywild.

Elderron: Have you found anyone touched by the Machine here?
Falaggo: Not here. My cousin had problems up around Auriqua.
Vinya: How do we destroy the Machine?
Falaggo: I don’t have those secrets. My niece, Nicolana, might keep those.
Elderron: Is there more than one Machine?
Falaggo: No, there is only one, But it can be in more than one place.
Elderron: Where can we find your niece?
Falaggo: Generally, where people hide information.

Somewhere around here in the conversation, Fallago said that he is the Walking Man and we remembered the Elderron had mentioned him when we were talking about the Fey Nobles in the creepy cave complex. He’s maybe a second generation Fey Noble.

He also mentioned another niece who seems to specialize in public knowledge, where Nicolana seems to specialize in hidden information.

Mia: Is there anything you would like to know from us?
Falaggo: You came from Feynon and are going to Erlin. <<looking at Mia>> Erlin won’t know what to make of you. There aren’t really firbolgs in these parts. Sometimes the people of Erlin live up to their reputation for closed-mindedness. But then, sometimes they don’t -- after all, the mayor is a genasi.
Elderron: Are there any bad things around here? Monsters? Things that need killing?

Falaggo didn’t get a chance to answer that, because Aldalómiel, having returned to the camp, started talking to him in Sylvan. She told us later that she was describing someone who has disappeared and asking if he’d seen her.

Falaggo: Wherever she is, she’s not been on the roads where I’ve been. I will keep an eye out, though. If you ever want to find me, camp at a crossroads at the new moon or full moon.
Vinya: We’re not at a crossroads now…
Falaggo: No. But you were out here in the middle of winter. Your people don’t usually do that. I was curious.

Mia gave him a bowl of warm stew and he ate it, then he stood to make his farewells.

Elderron: How many days walk is it to Erlin from here?
Falaggo: Twelve days or so. Come morning, for you it will be six.
Vinya: I hope your travels are safe and pleasurable and that you see many beautiful things.

Then he left.

Elama, after we were sure he’d gone: Even when the Fey are nice, they’re creepy.

The rest of the night passed without incident, though even the people on watch dozed off toward the end of the night..


18 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 19)

The next morning, we woke up at a place where a little rutted trail entered a road along a river. Not at all the same place where we’d made camp.

We believed that this was the Tulnod River and began to walk following the river downstream. This road looked like it got a lot more travel -- it was still dirt, of course, but packed and maintained. The land around us was grassland and sagebrush. Occasionally we saw fences and ranch houses set far back from the road.

As it got close to sunset, we saw a ranch house relatively close to the road. There were cattle in pens and small pastures beyond it. We decided to knock on the door to see if they had any news. And also to ask if they minded us camping on our land.

When we knocked, we were greeted by the rancher. He didn’t have any news of Erlin for us at all, except some vague reference to some adventurers having gone there and there having been chaos. We asked if he had anything that we could help with -- spiders or wolves or monsters bothering his livestock and he didn’t have any particular problems.

He did offer us the use of his bunkhouse for the night, which we accepted gratefully. The bunkhouse was warm and had a wood stove in it and the night passed comfortably and well.


19 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 20)

The next morning, Elderron (at Vinya’s urging) used his prestidigitation cantrip to leave the bunkhouse a little cleaner than we found it. Then we headed out, leaving with a wave to the rancher as he headed out on a horse to tend to his cattle.

The road ran right alongside the river, with trees (like cottonwoods and other river-bottom trees) on the other side.

After a while we saw ahead of us a cart with four horses and some people walking alongside of it. About the time that we saw they were a band of hobgoblin, the wagon (a covered Conestoga-type wagon, as most are that we’ve seen) halted and one of the hobgoblins stepped forward. He made a show of taking his sword and handing it to one of the others next to him, then handing his javelins to another on the other side before walking toward us.

Elama handed her sword to Aldalómiel, then went forward to talk to him.

Lamie: Hail.
Hobgoblin: Hello.
Lamie: Where are you going?
Hobgoblin: We’ve done business in Erlin and are now heading home.

To the extent Elama could see into the cart, she saw nothing but normal cargo, such as they might have picked up on a supply run to the city.

Lamie: Is there anything up the road that we should be cautious of?
Hobgoblin: There’s a circle of standing stones. Don’t camp there -- the Korred are doing their dances. They’re earth fey and we’ve had problems with them before. They don’t like being watched.

Mia moved to one side to let them go by. Vinya moved to the other. Elderron checked out their horses with covetous eyes.

Lamie: Do you often go this way?
Hobgoblin: Every couple or three months.

With that we were all satisfied, even Elderron, and we stood to the side to let them go by. Hobgoblins tend to be evil, but these appeared to be part of the society and economy of the area and were going about blameless business.

We continued on our way. After a few hours, we saw the stone circle the hobgoblin had mentioned about a hundred yards off the side of the road. It was evening, but not yet night and the moon hadn’t risen, so Aldalómiel and Vinya went to look at it. The circle was made of 10’ tall stones, standing (just single standing stones, not trilithons like at Stonehenge). The stones were carved with stylized decorations with a Fey look to them -- trees and weather and stylized animals. We didn’t see any footprints inside the circle, but could see that the ground inside was packed very densely, as though many feet had trodden on it.

Aldalómiel and Vinya went back to the others and we continued on our way for about another hour or hour and a half to get well past the circle. There we made camp and the night passed without incident.


20 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 21)

The next morning, we got back on our way. Not too long after we got started, we were surprised by three vaguely leonine winged things, but with human-like faces, up in the air (3 manticores). When they spotted us they flew close, circling in the air a distance away from us, and let loose with a volley of iron spikes from their massively spiked tails.

Their first volley was at Aldalómiel and Marxine, both of whom were hit for a little bit of damage. Then, while we were still reacting to them being there, they fired again. The second volley they’d gotten the range getter and both Aldalómiel and Marxine were hit pretty hard.

They held their position up in the air, not coming low enough for any of the melee fighters to attack them.

Aldalómiel put her hunter’s mark on one hit it squarely with her longbow for a lot of damage.

Vinya moved toward them, taking a position as close as she could get to underneath one, and took a defensive stance.

Vinya: Come down and get me, you wankers.

Marxine moved to where she could throw one of her handaxes at the one over the grassland (rather than throwing it into the river) but couldn’t get there. So she moved and dashed and got right up underneath it. Then she got her second wind. Elderron cast magic missile on one of them.

Mia cast moonbeam on one of them that was about 15’ up, but out over the river. Elama cast a spiritual weapon on the other one that was out over the river, hitting it with a lightning bolt from spiritual storm cloud, then she too began to dodge.

One of them landed to attack Marxine, bless it, and then missed with all of its attacks. The other two attacked Vinya and Elama from the air and both of them missed because they had started dodging.

Aldalómiel moved off the road into the trees and underbrush, then took a shot at the one that was attacking Marxine, dropping it.

Vinya moved up as close as possible and used her radiant sunbolts to shoot at the one that had attacked her -- summoning her ki to get more bolts to fire. Marxine moved so that she could throw a hand axe -- aiming at the wing of the one that Vinya had just shot. She hit its wing and did damage, but not quite enough to knock it out of the air. Elderron cast Mind Spike on the same one -- it wobbled in the air but was able to catch itself and stay airborne. Mia moved her moonbeam back onto it.

Elama moved her thundercloud toward the other one, then cast guiding bolt on it, doing damage and leaving it sparkling with an energy that would make it easier to hit.

The one that Vinya, Marxine, Elderron and Mia had been focusing on started to fly away -- moving as fast as it could.

The other one shot tail-spikes at Elama, getting a critical hit. It then began to move away as well, though it looked like it was doing more of a fighting retreat than the pure flight of the other one.

Vinya pulled out her bow and took a shot at the one that Elama had cast guiding bolt on.

Marxine, seeing nothing around in range, went to find her axe. Mia moved the moonbeam closer to the one still fighting, but couldn’t get all the way there.

Mia: There’s a moonbeam coming for you!

Lamie cast a sacred flame at the retreating manticore before both of them flew away. Aldalómiel took a shot, hitting one solidly, but not solidly enough to knock it out of the air.

Lamie: And stay gone!

Aldalómiel got one last shot at the more wounded one and killed it -- we saw it fall out of the sky and plummet to the ground, but the other one got away.

While Mia was checking to see who needed to be healed (Aldalómiel had taken the most damage), Vinya and Elama were searching the bodies (including the one that fell a couple hundred feet from the road). Neither of them had any treasure, but they collected the tail spikes, ultimately harvesting about 30 from the two manticores.

We went back on our way and the rest of the day and the night passed without incident.


21 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 22)

The next morning we headed out on our way again. After a few hours, we noticed that the river and the road were both looking bigger and more travelled. We also saw the occasional cart, but aside from normal greetings, we didn’t interact with them much. We didn’t see much travel in the river -- though there were a few very small boats (like rowboats and canoes) because this river is not navigable for larger vessels than that.

At about mid-day we arrived at an actual settlement -- a small town called Traddons. There was an inn with a tavern, a general stores, etc. Marxine, Aldalómiel, and Elderron went to the general store for a bit of shopping -- picking up arrows and other very general supplies. Elderron, who had never stopped missing the horses (or at least having a ride), asked if there were any in town for sale.

Shopkeeper: No horses for sale. We need them all.

Elderron’s disappointment continues.

Mia, Elama, and Vinya went to the tavern to talk to people and get a sense of what was going on.

Elama: We saw some hobgoblins on the road.
Tavernkeeper: Yeah. They go through a few times a year. They have a village up in the mountains.
Vinya: Do you have any news from Erlin?
Tavernkeeper: Not really. Except that there has been some chaos in town to do with some adventurers that went through recently.
Vinya: Well, we’re not like that.
Tavernkeeper: That’s good.
Vinya and Mia: Are there any problems in town that we can maybe help with? We’ve helped a town with spiders. We’ve protected people from cultists.
Tavernkeeper: No, it’s really quiet around here.

We were slightly disappointed by that answer, but it didn’t stop us from taking a room in the inn and making plans to stay the night.

We stayed in the tavern drinking and relaxing and taking advantage of not being on the road for a change. It had been 11 days since the last time we slept in beds.

The night passed without incident.


22 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 23)

We will begin here next time.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 10: Sleepy Cow Town

Dramatis Personae:
Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))

GM - Everyone Else


22 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 23)

We headed out on the road after a nice night’s sleep in the inn in Traddons. We were told when we left that we were two days from Erlin, so we were excited to be heading out despite they grey cold skies and flurries of snow. We were also told that there wouldn’t be another settlement or town. The terrain was open and rolling -- sagebrush and prairie. The kind of landscape people raise cattle in, which is why people raise cattle here.

Shortly before dinner the sky cleared and it got a bit warmer. Mia activated the Staff of Bird Calls to brighten our walk.

We had been informed in Traddons that we were about two days from Erlin and that there wouldn’t be another town on the way.

Our first day’s travel was uneventful and we made camp alongside the road (though not at a crossroads). We were in open terrain, having just come out of some rocky hills. So there weren’t many trees, but there were some rock piles and small outcroppings.

During first watch (Vinya, Elama, and Marxine), Vinya saw three lizard-looking things with six legs (each) coming out of the rocks. They looked like burly iguanas with extra legs -- big heads and strong muscles.

Vinya, very loud: What the hell are those?
Lamie: What? I don’t see anything.

Vinyas shout was, deliberately, loud enough to rouse everyone who was resting.

Aldalómiel, despite having been in trance, stood up first. She put her hunter’s mark on one of them and hit one solidly with an arrow. Elderron followed and cast magic missile on the same one.

Elderron and Marxine recognized these things as basilisks.

Vinya: Are these things we don’t want to look at?
Elderron: Yeah.

They warned everyone about them having a gaze attack. It’s important to avert your gaze when close to them in order to avoid that attack.

Vinya moved closer to it and fired off some radiant sun bolts from her hands, taking advantage of being at too great a distance for its gaze to affect her. After the basilisks moved closer, but not close enough to attack, Elama backed up and missed with a guiding bolt.

Mia stood up and, keeping her eyes on their feet, placed a flaming sphere between two of them. Then she hit one of them with the flaming sphere. Elderron fired magic missiles at the same one he’d hit before. It dropped. Unfortunately, Aldalómiel and Marxine both missed. Vinya, with her eyes averted, made her way gingerly around the flaming sphere to attack a different one. She missed with her quarterstaff (as usual) but hit with her kick.

The basilisks, being of animal intelligence, moved away from the hurty fire -- one toward Marxine and one toward Vinya. The one that attacked Vinya hit her and poisoned her. She warned people that they hit hard.

Elama cast a spiritual weapon, but the lightning bolt missed one. Her sacred flame hit, however. Mia hit one with the flaming sphere. Aldalómiel moved off to the side to get a better shot, then used her ability as a sharpshooter to hit one of them for a whole lot of damage. Awesome!! Elderron kept his gaze down and, following Mia’s lead to watch their feet, found a good line to cast Aganazzar’s Scorcher on two of them, dropping one. Unfortunately, he had to get right up on the other one to do so.

Vinya, moving carefully watching their feet and avoiding the flaming sphere, found herself in a position to take advantage of the distraction that Elderron was causing and hit it twice. It tried to move away from the flaming sphere, but doing so allowed Vinya to take an opportunity attack -- she dropped it with that.

Marxine: What a shit show!

Elama started butchering the three basilisks for their venom glands. The first two went just fine. Marxine noticed what she was doing with the third one.

Marxine: Maybe I should do that.

As she said that, Elama punctured the venom gland on the third one and got sprayed in the face with poison, taking some damage.

After that, the rest of the night passed without incident.


23 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 24)

We woke the next morning to Mia’s staff of bird calls used as an alarm. The day was gray and unseasonably warm.

Marxine: Good morning, poisoned friends!

Fortunately, Vinya and Elama felt much better in the morning.

Around midday, after an uneventful morning of travel, the road took a little hitch to the left just before the bank of a small stream. The bridge was about 20 feet from the normal line of the road. We could see the remains of the old bridge (in line with the road) that had been washed out. On the other side of the river, the road over the new bridge connected up with the regular road.

As we were looking at all of this, Mia saw crystals in the opposite river bank -- they emerged when one of us took a step, then faded back into the earth of the river bank. Every time we put a foot down, a crystal (or a few) surfaced, then as we stood still they sank back away. They were clear and about the size of a hand. Marxine looked down to check the bank on our side of the river and saw nothing.

Vinya, to Elderron: Could you use your mage hand to try and grab one?

Elderron cast mage hand and Vinya stomped on the ground to bring one to the surface. When the spectral, magic hand grabbed the crystal, it began to sink back into the earth, dragging the hand with it. The hand let go.

Both the currently functional bridge and the washout of the old bridge look new, but we can’t tell if the washout had anything to do with the crystals in the riverbank.

Vinya and Elama crossed the new bridge. From the other side of the creek, they couldn’t see any crystals near where the rest of the party was standing, even when they stomped their feet.

Elama cast an augury spell to ask what would be the result of picking up one of the crystals and holding onto it. The answer she received was “weal AND woe”.

Elama: Both good and bad. So we’ll leave it alone.

We continued on the way.

The rest of the day passed without anything of note happening until, toward the end of the day, we began to see a city with a wall around it. We could see a high place, like a promontory of rock, rising up in the middle of the city, like a bluff. The walls were made of stone and wood -- different sections in different materials. There was a bridge, Gate Bridge, that went over the Tulnod River -- we could see that the bridge was made to be readily collapsible, turning the river into a moat, if the city was attacked. The other end of the bridge was at the wall and a gate into the city.

There were some guards on the bridge -- they came to greet us as we crossed the bridge. But we noted that they didn’t close the gate behind them.

Vinya Hello. Do we need to do anything to enter your city, except enter?
Guard: Are you adventurers?
Vinya: Well, we like to help people and take care of problems. So yeah, I guess.
Elama: We want a room, and beds, and some ruckus.
Vinya: No. No ruckus. We help people. We’ve been on the road a long time.
Guard: Okay. Don’t cause any problems.
Elderron: We heard about some adventurers. What did they do?
Guard: The less said about them the better. Just don’t cause any problems.
Vinya: We’ve never been here before -- can you recommend an inn for us?
Guard: Maybe Garlin’s in the Het’s Ell neighborhood.
Vinya: Is there anything like a job board -- where people put up requests for assistance. Maybe the guard has something?
Guard: If you ask at the guard house, they sometimes have work for people.

We entered the city.

Mia: Did we come here for a reason, or just because it was here?
Lamie: We couldn’t go back.

As we walked through the streets of Erlin, right after sunset, we noticed that some of the businesses were still open, but many of them were already closing down. It appeared that to a great extent Erlin rolls up the sidewalks at sundown.

We decided we’d stay for at least a few days, shopping and resting.

We made our way to Garlin’s, where we met Garlin, the proprietor -- a short, skinny, 60ish year old human male. Vinya asked for three rooms, kinda together. We paid for two nights. We asked after an open air market -- he told us that there wasn’t anything like that. However he recommended Therri’s as a shop that sells magic items -- she opens early. Very early.

Elderron: Have there been problems with Hobgoblins in town?
Garlin: No. There are some that live up the Tulnod.
Vinya: Do you need any help with anything? What about elsewhere in town -- where to people who need help go to find people who can help them?
Garlin: I don’t know.
Elderron: Is there a local militia?
Garlin: There’s the guard. Captain Althorn has occasionally hired people from outside, but he may not be inclined to do so right now.
Vinya: Do you know anything about those crystals in the river bank a few miles up the Tulnod?
Garlin: There’s a sage in Sunlit, named Jamil, who might be able to help you with this. If he can’t help, maybe some of the merchants who trade in that direction might know something.
Mia: Is there an armorer in town who’s good with leather?
Garlin: There are some leather workers in the neighborhood or maybe in Orlitton.

There wasn’t a restaurant attached to the inn, so Garliin referred us to a nearby restaurant for dinner. We rested and relaxed there. There was a bard playing, but he wasn’t very good.

Aldalómiel left on her own after dinner to find a green space -- in the Sunlit neighborhood -- to do her private musings and meditations.

The rest of us at the restaurant did not get raucous.

After dinner, we went for a walk, with Mia in the form of a dog with floppy ears, so she wouldn’t attract attention. The evening was warm and getting warmer, but nothing about the weather seemed unnatural -- just a warm fall evening.

We made our way wending through the city to get back to Garlin’s, where we met up with Aldalómiel. There we rested for the night.


24 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 25)

The next morning we got up for an early breakfast, then we headed out.

Our first stop was Therri’s -- the magic items shop. It was a little shop, not much bigger than a closet. Therri herself was a really small gnome.

Mia (in her natural form): Hi.

Therri pulled out a ladder and climbed up so she was at eye level with Mia.

Therri: Hi! How can I help you?

Mia asked after armor, but there was nothing like that in the shop.

Mia: Some of the people in my party want a bag of holding.
Therri: Everyone wants a bag of holding.
Mia: What do you have?
Therri, looking Mia over: You don’t seem like the sort to think a good offense is the best defense.
Vinya, perking up at that: Oh?
Therri, looking Vinya over: You don’t seem like the sort to use an axe.
Marxine, perking up: What’s that?

Therri pulled out a battle axe -- smaller than Marxine’s usual greataxe, but magical, on sale for 200 gold. Marxine said she’d think about it.

Marxine: How do you get these things?
Therri: People want to sell things, sometimes.

Mia asked how much Therri would pay for the Staff of Bird Calls. She said she’d pay 75 gold for it. Mia declined the offer.

We asked Therri about the crystals in the river bank.

Therri: You didn’t try to grab one?
Vinya: Elderron tried with a mage hand…
Therri: That’s the safest way to do it.
Vinay: Do people get sucked in?
Therri: If they don’t let go in time, yes.

Vinya then asked about interesting things to see and do in Erlin.

Therri: This really isn’t an interesting town.

Marxine asked when she’d be open, if she decided to get that axe after all. Therri said she opened before most people had breakfast and closed before dinner.

We left and walked around until Mia found a leatherworker. She was looking for studded leather armor in her size. Or possibly getting her own leather armor studded up. She found a shop with a set in her size, so she sold her old armor and got the new. While we were there, Elderron went to a nearby gem shop. He met us at the armor shop before we left.

After that we went to Sunlit to find the sage Jamil. We had to ask around a bit to find him, but eventually we did.

Jamil was a 40ish year old human male with frizzy hair going out in all directions. At that we realized that most of the people in the city were human. (Which is true of most cities on Urnod.)

Elderron talked to him about being a student of wizardry in Pelsoreen, then we offered to take him out to lunch at a place of his choice. He led us to a restaurant advertising Mahassari cuisine. Elderron and Vinya had both had Mahassari food in the past, and knew it was both delicious and fiery.

Vinya: I’ve had this. It’s fantastic.

Jamil ordered his dish “as the chef makes it for himself”.

Vinya, to the others: Don’t do that. Get mild.

Most of them followed her advice, except Elama, who also ordered it as the chef makes it for himself.

When the food was delivered to our table, Lamie took a bite and broke into a cold sweat.

Vinya pushed the plain rice in her direction and advised against trying to wash it down with water or ale.

Elama: I’m experiencing something new! It tastes like burning!

Elderron asked Jamil if he’d heard of any trouble with cultists of the Hunger Between Worlds.

Jamil: The Servants of the Hunger. Not around here.
Mia: Have you heard about this Machine thing? We’re concerned about how it disappeared.
Jamil: It’s done this before. It appears and disappears.
Mia: Is it possible to get rid of it permanently?
Jamil: It is probable that it can be destroyed, but I don’t know how.
Mia: How can we find it?
Jamil: I don’t know.
Mia: Is it being controlled? Is it sentient?
Jamil: Some people think the Hunger is not sentient or aware. Other people think it is but on a scale so big it doesn’t even notice us.
Mia: It may not know it’s hurting us, then.
Jamil: Some people are able to get power from it and not go insane. But they always have that voice whispering.

Jamil knew about the Fomori cave in the mountains, but he didn’t know that the teleportation circle still worked.

Vinya: What about that big face on the cliff? And the fog in the valley?
Jamil: The face is called Annam’s Face. Annam was the chief god of the Giants, well before the Severance. The fog...well, all I can say is that the world remembers.
Vinya: What about the collapsed stone arch over the path on the way into that valley.
Jamil: I’m not familiar with that.
Vinya: It had elven carvings on it.
Jamil: It might have been a portal to the Feywild, but I’m really not familiar with it.

When asked about the crystals in the riverbank, he told us that the boundaries between the planes are really thin on Erkonin. That spot in the riverbank is a place where the boundary to the elemental plane of Earth is very thin. Not a portal, exactly, though he believes that if you hold onto one of the crystals as it drags you into the riverbank you’ll get dragged into the plane of Earth.

Mia: We’ve been trying to help people, since we have talents and skills other people don’t. Is there any way we can help the people of Erlin?
Jamil: I haven’t heard of anything, but I wouldn’t know. Maybe to talk to Captain Althorn at the guard. He sometimes gives jobs to outsiders if there’s anything that seems appropriate for them.
Elderron: Are there any ruins nearby that would be worth studying?
Vinya: Yeah, I’d like that.
Jamil: Not in the city, except in Promontory.
Marxine: Why are they so exclusive? Why keep people out?
Jamil: It’s small and hard to build in these days.
Marxine: Yeah. But why keep people out?
Elderron: What’s the structure here, politically and socially?
Jamil: …
Marxine: There’s a pretty stark class system.
Jamil: There’s a mayor, elected every four years.
Marxine: But if the mayor is in Promontory, where people can’t go…
Vinya: If a regular person wanted to talk to the mayor, how would they do that?
Jamil: There’s an office in Het’s Ell. The mayor is there every other day. Also, people can vouch someone into Promontory if they have business there.
Elama: So it’s mostly just getting through red tape to get in there.
Vinya: Have you heard anything about cultists of Zariel?
Jamil: I heard about a problem in New Arvai.
Vinya: Yeah. They scattered to make new cultists.
Jamil: Or die.
Vinya: That’s the optimistic view.
Aldalómiel: What about followers of Sonatis?
Jamil: The Blue Death sticks to the Scoured Hills.
Vinya: The Blue Death?
Aldalómiel: He’s an adult blue dragon.
Jamil: I know him as an ancient dragon. I need to do research. He was up in the expanding badlands up to the east -- north of Mahassar.
Elderron: Are there magic shops in town?
Jamil: Therri is the most likely to have stuff people are willing to sell. Anything else will have more of a black market element.

As we talked it became clear that Erlin is not a place where people typically come looking for adventure.

Elama: It’s more of a passing through place?
Jamil: Even the cattle pass through.
Vinya: Do you know of any Elven ruins from before the Severance?
Jamil: Not on Urnod.

After lunch with Jamil, we headed to the guard house in River Gate, looking for Captain Althorn.

Captain Tarlin Althorn is about 30, athletic-looking, and human. He was in an office in the guardhouse. We made it clear that we wanted to talk to him and he took us to a conference room. We offered our services to help the city. Mia particularly offered her help with healing people who might need it. He gave more vague rumblings about the previous group in town -- something about them showing up looking for fire elementals and finding them.

Vinya: We’re not like that. We just want to help.
Elderron: Is there someone in charge of the stockyards and the granaries?
Captain Althorn: Sure. There are ostlers in the stockyards and people running the granaries.

Captain Althorn didn’t have any work for us at that time.

Vinya: Well, damn, y’all.
Captain: We’ve been sacked, but it’s been a while. The Hobgoblins in the hills haven’t always been so civilized. They used to be warlike.
Vinya: What changed?
Captain: One group suffered a violent decapitation. Maybe a group of elves found them and backtracked them.

We told the Captain where we were staying and told him he could reach us there.

As we walked back to Garlin’s we talked about our next moves.

Mia: How long until spring?

We talked about planting ourselves and staying in Erlin for the winter. We also talked about taking a boat down the river to New Arvai, which might be more interesting to overwinter in. Mia asked Garlin and he confirmed that boats are going down river all winter. The river up in Embernook is probably frozen though, so it would be more difficult to get there.

We decided that we would probably go to Lonoj or maybe New Arvai, but decided to wait for a couple of days, since we’d just offered our services to Captain Althorn.

Elderron: We could go to the stockyard and ask if any of the ranchers around are having problems.

Since it was getting on toward sunset, we decided that all of that could wait until morning.

We went back to the restaurant that Garland had recommended, then found a bar that was a little livelier. There was a good bar with a good bard. Vinya and Mia danced.

After some drinking and dancing, we went back to the inn and the night passed.


25 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 26)

The morning passed with no word from the guard. After breakfast, waffles and danishes, we went down to the docks to book passage for the 10 to 12 day journey to Lonoj.

We had a choice between two boats -- a passenger boat would cost us 4 gold per person per day. So 40 to 48 gold per person. Working as crew on a cargo boat would only cost each of us five gold for the whole trip.

Elderron asked if there was a boat with a passenger cabin that would accept some of the party as workers and him as a passenger. We found one that met that criterion.

Marxine: Paying for the privilege of working for the merchant class…

We decided to stay in town for two more days and booked our passage to Lonoj, the next city down the river. We figured we could see if Lonoj was livelier than Erlin.

Elderron went to the market. Mia found a very small druidic circle to hang out with. Vinya went to tell Captain Althorn that we were leaving in two days. Then she found a dojo and spent time training and sparring.

The day passed and we met up at Garlin’s in the evening.

In the middle of the night there was a loud cop-knock on the on door of one of our rooms. It was loud enough that it carried to the other rooms and we were all woken up.

Vinya: Helllo.
Mia: Who is it?
Captain: The city is not on fire. But get dressed and come down to the guard house. We have something for you.

We got geared up and headed to the guardhouse. (Marxine was not in her armor, because Althorn made it clear we shouldn’t take that much time to get down there.)

At the guardhouse, Althorn was there in the meeting room with two teenage boys who looked like they’d been traveling and running for a while. Which was accurate -- it turns out that they’d been running for at least six or seven days. There are gnolls coming from the south -- they raided the boys’ village and the boys got away.

He wanted us to scout the situation -- find out how many there are and how far away they are. He gave us a sheet of dragon paper, which Elderron recognized, to get a message back when we had information.

If we don’t find them in 10 days, we are to use the dragon paper to let him know and then return to Erlin.

The boys reported seeing more than 40 of the gnolls, along with a whole lot of hyenas and some walking mouths, but we don’t know the full strength of the force or where they are. Or what those walking mouths are.

We’ll be paid 2 gold pieces each per day and were given 20 gold each as an advance.

We talked to the kids -- they said they’d been running for at least six days. Part of that was overland, part of it on roads. Mostly at first they were just running away. They looked terrified. And also clearly suspected that their families were dead and their town razed.

Marxine: Can we get some horses to ride to get us there faster? As equipment?
Althorn: Yes, but we need them back.

When we spot the gnolls, we are to put the location and numbers and any information that might be useful to the guard on the dragon paper and send it back to Captain Althorn.
 

COMING SOON: 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game

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