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Erkonin (Campaign #2) [Session 27: Those Poor Unfortunate Souls]

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.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 11: We Found Some Gnolls

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


26 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 27)

We headed out from Erlin very early in the morning. The kids that had fled to the city to warn them of the gnolls had traveled six or seven days on the road and a day or two (or maybe more -- they were in a panic and not paying attention) off-road. They had been able to tell us where we should leave the road, so we knew what landmarks to be looking for.

As we rode along on the loaner horses from the guard, we talked about what we collectively knew about gnolls. In addition to the very common knowledge (they often travel with hyenas and there are multiple different kinds of them) - Elderron was able to tell us that because they are, literally, demon-spawn, they generate weird effects in the area around them. The effects vary but include roaming packs of hyenas, unnatural spoilage of food, freaked out animals, strange human behavior, etc. Gnolls are destroyers -- they leave behind a swath of destruction. They don’t loot or pillage, they simply kill and destroy.

We made camp after an uneventful day of traveling. As we were choosing a spot for our camp in a large grassy area with a stand of trees in the distance, we noticed that the stand of trees looked like giant skeletons, swaying in the wind.

Vinya, Elderron, and Mia went to look at the giant skeletons, while Aldalomiel, Marxine and Lamie stayed to set up camp.

As we got closer we could see that the trees were really birch trees -- deciduous, so their leaves had fallen by mid-winter. Elderron didn’t get the sense that they were magical or that there could be a magical effect that would do this. Vinya broke off a twig. Mia had never seen birch trees that looked like this and was suspicious.

But after a bit, we realized that there was nothing here but weird looking birch trees. So we went back to where the party was camping -- cold and dark because we were actually out looking for an enemy army and wanted to break camp early in the morning.

The night passed without incident.


27 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 28)

We broke camp really early to head out quickly. The first half of the day passed without any incident at all - the road paralleled the river (more or less) and it was all quiet.

About lunch time the road went through a gulch with cliff faces on either side of it. At one point, on opposite sides, we could see carved faces on the walls of the cliff. These were not like Annam’s Face (the giant face in the cliff we saw when we first emerged from the Fomori cavern system in this part of Urnod) -- Annam’s face is a natural feature that just looks like a giant face and took on religious significance (in deep history) because of that. These are really detailed carved faces, a la Mt. Rushmore. One of them had its mouth open and was yelling. The other had its face turned slightly away and its mouth closed. The faces were different -- clearly these were representations of different people. The faces were incredibly lifelike. Their eyes were open and they were looking at each other, but there was no indication of superiority or rank between them. Marxine got the sense that these were really old carvings.

At the same time, we heard a really low-pitched sound in the air -- so low we were feeling it more than we were seeing it and it was hard to localize the source of the sound.

We also saw some fortifications at the tops of the cliffs.

Vinya rode a few steps forward and said “Hello” in all the languages she knows (Common, Elvish, and Celestial). Everyone else in the party followed suit. There was no response from the faces.

We were on the main road from Erlin to Lonoj (and then on to New Arvai, one of the biggest cities on Urnod) and there is a fair amount of traffic along it. If there were any danger or threat in this, people would know (and the road would be somewhere else). Particularly because we were only a day and a half from Erlin.

We continued on our way and the rest of the day passed without incident.

We made camp out in the open, so we could see any enemies coming toward us. The night was dark -- the new moon is only a few nights away and there was little light in the sky.

The night passed.


28 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 29)

The morning dawned a bit warmer, but dry. This was an almost springlike day, but overcast. We proceeded through a stretch of trees and dense forest. Just off the road in the middle of this dense forest was a bare patch about half an acre in size -- in the middle of that patch was something grey and large. We stopped to take a look.

The large grey thing was a gargantuan statue of a winged lizard frozen in position. The bare patch was completely bare -- not even a bit of grass or the smallest start of the forest encroaching on it. The edges of the patch were very crisp and clear -- abrupt even -- and there was nothing inside it except bare earth and the statue. The statue was shockingly realistic -- or it was originally. It now showed signs of long-term weathering and rain but it was clearly of an ancient dragon. It appeared that an ancient dragon got turned to stone during the Giant-Dragon War.

Mia couldn’t get a good handle on what was keeping the ground barren but it was utterly so -- the earth itself was hard, ossified, with a texture like sandstone, though the statue looked more like granite.

Vinya climbed up the statue to see if it let her see above the trees, but it wasn’t tall enough. So Elderron sent Oda up above the trees looking for any sign of the gnolls. He didn’t see anything.

We resumed proceeding and the rest of the day passed. We made camp in the open after the forest thinned out -- dark and cold -- and the night passed as well.


29 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 30)

We broke camp on a cold and drizzly morning. Oda flew around to take a look while we were doing so. Mia was with the horses getting them ready and the rest of us were rolling up bedrolls.

Elderron, Elama and Aldalomiel felt the ground moving and a horrible, beaked thing, a bulette, came up out of the ground on the other side of the horses. Its giant beak snapped closed, but it didn’t manage to catch or hurt the horse it was near.

Aldalomiel took a shot at it, bouncing an arrow off the thick armor between its eyes. Elama cast a guiding bolt right in its face to try and scare it away -- hitting it and setting it to sparkling and glowing. That made it easier for Elderron to hit with his chromatic orb, which he had doing acid damage. Nice.

The horses, not being stupid, scattered -- the one next to the bulette dodged away and didn’t get eaten by the monster as it fled. Four went in one direction and two in another.

Without a horse to try and eat, the bulette attacked Mia and hit her, hard. Aldalomiel did a sharpshooter shot at it, hitting for a whole lot of damage. Marxine rushed up and attacked with the new battleaxe she’d picked up in Erlin but just missed with both her main attack and her action surge.

Marxine: I’m here to be bitten.

Elama, watching Marxine’s blows bounce off the thick armor, cast bless on Aldalomiel, Vinya and Marxine.

Vinya attacked and missed with her quarterstaff, but got in a good kick at it. Elderron hit it with a higher level magic missile.

Mia moved around so that she and Vinya were flanking it, then hit it with her shillelagh. In doing so, she was hoping to be behind it and not its target.

Unfortunately, it tracked her as she moved and it attacked her again, dropping her with a huge bite from its beak.

Aldalomiel took another shot at it -- getting a critical hit with an arrow to the eye that dropped it mere moments after it dropped Mia. The arrow went through the eye and well into the brain box.

Elama rushed over and performed CPR on Mia by casting healing word on her.

While Elama was helping Mia to her feet, the rest of us rounded up the horses. Fortunately they were well-trained guard horses and hadn’t stayed panicked for long.

Mia, Elderron and Marxine rested for an hour while Vinya, Elama and Aldalomiel soothed the horses and broke camp. Then we headed out on our way.

The day passed.

In the evening, we made camp. As we were setting up, we saw something the size of a small hill floating toward us from the east about 150 feet above the ground. It was once a hill with a human-scale tower on top, but now it was uprooted from the ground and floating upside down, so the tower pointed toward the ground. The tower was broken. It was floating in a sort of random walk, but was not drifting entirely randomly or blowing with the wind.

Elderron sent Oda up to take a look at it and report back. Oda’s report conveyed that there were no floors in the tower -- it looked like it had been hundreds of years abandoned. It wasn’t clear whether it had been broken before or after it began floating upside down. The top side of the hill (what would have been the bottom when it was right-side up) looked like earth that has been ripped out of the ground. There was no sign of vegetation or life on that patch of floating earth.

Marxine: This is some wizard shit.

Elderron and Mia agreed -- both of them had heard about wizards floating towers using some sort of high ritual magic. Clearly something had gone wrong with the ritual, which was why it was upside-down.

Elderron: I want to go up there.
Vinya: Me too! How do we get there?

We all wanted to get up to the floating tower, except Marxine who thought it was irritatingly whimsical, but we couldn’t figure out how to get up to it. The floating island moved out of sight while we talked about it.

The night passed without incident.


30 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 31)

The next day we woke to a much colder day with snow falling. As the snow accumulated on the ground it was red.

Marxine: That’s gnoll shit.

Oda went up to look ahead. He saw a semi-fortified ranch about a half a day south of us, with cattle inside the walled fortification. On the very distant horizon, he saw a wisp of smoke.

We mounted up and rode hard and fast to the ranch, getting there in a couple of hours, rather than half a day. We saw a group of people on horseback moving cattle toward the fortification. We rode up to them fast, waving our arms and yelling about gnolls.

As we rode close, we saw a couple of people with crossbows on top of the wall.

We told the people on horses, most of them human though there was a half-orc and the group was led by a tiefling, that an army of gnolls was coming and they should probably get out of their way.

Tiefling: Mr. Alzey probably won’t want to leave.

They took us with them to the ranch. Once there, Elderron sent Oda up to look again to see if the gnoll army had moved in our direction since this morning. The rancher, Alzey Telsom, pointed out that armies don’t move all that quickly, not even ravaging armies. They were probably two days or more away and it would probably take us about a day to get to them.

Marxine, to the rancher: Do you know of anything between here and there?
Mr. Alzey: Our neighbors, if you like. They’re in a less defended settlement. No walls.
Elderron: They’re two days away?
Mr. Alzey: If you ride as hard as you were when you arrived here, it’d be about a day. If you’re coming back we can give you fresh horses. [looking at Mia] We even have one that will do for you.

We accepted their offer of fresh horses and headed out, riding as fast as the horses could manage. As we got closer the smoke in the sky got clearer and nearer. We also noticed that the snow fell looking like normal when it first landed but it lay on the ground bright scarlet, then it crusted over with a red-black like a scab.

As we got close, just after sunset, we stopped and tied up the horses. We talked about what we need to know for Captain Althorn in Erlin -- he wanted to know numbers, location, armor and arms, movement direction, etc.

We decided that Mia (in the form of a hyena), Vinya (with invisibility cast on her), Elderron (with Oda in the air), and Aldalomiel would go sneaking to scout the camp and get the informaiton. Elama and Marxine stayed with the horses and made a base camp, basically by sitting down and declaring the space “base camp” and making it a space Aldalomiel could lead us back to. Elama climbed into a tree. Marxine did not.

Many of the people in the stealth party stepped on twigs or immediately found a patch of dry leaves and rustled through it. Mia, with hyena senses, realized that the gnolls’ hyenas smelled like smoke and human blood and she did not. She sat down. Aldalomiel and Elderron realized they were not being quiet and sat down with her.

Vinya, invisible, was more sneaky and she went into the camp and got a good look. She counted a total of 24 hyenas, 38 gnolls, 6 human-sized walking mouths (the description the boys in Erlin gave was very accurate) with 4 legs, 4 arms and a mouth that opens vertically downward.

There was no sign of human life remaining in the settlement. The gnolls were milling about burning things and eating what they found. As she watched, Vinya saw that there were some smaller groups within the larger assembly that seemed to stick together.

She figured out there were four groups -- the main body of the army and three splinter groups. None of those groups were patrolling at this time, but if they were to send out an advance band, it would probably be one of the splinter groups. Of course, it occurred to her that there might be an advance band on the move already. Some of the gnolls were surrounded by packs of hyenas. There did appear to be some leader-types. One appeared to be in charge of each of the smaller groups and one who was in charge of the whole army, who appeared to be in charge because he was bigger and tougher looking.

They had no siege engines or complicated weapons -- they were armed with spears and poorly-made longbows. There was no sign of magic, except the maw things.

They had clearly thoroughly sacked and destroyed the ranch and were probably going to be moving on before too long. Gnolls don’t loot -- they kill and destroy and burn. If there was any treasure in this ranch it would still be in the ranch when they leave.

Vinya circled the ranch -- it was clear that they’d come from the south and were heading north. They would get to Mr. Alzey’s ranch first and then Erlin a few days after that.

She went back to where Mia, Aldalomiel and Elderron had stopped and tapped Aldalomiel on the shoulder.

Vinya: Let’s go back.

Back with the others we discussed the situation. It appeared that the smaller advance bands would leave first, heading off on different tracks heading in the same direction. If one of the advance bands found something, they’d make a lot of noise and get a lot of attention, then the other advance bands and the main body would follow.

We talked some about what we knew of gnolls, based on general knowledge we’d gained in our lives. There are some special gnolls, the ones accompanied by hyenas -- if those gnolls kill someone and the hyenas eat what they kill, the hyenas will then become gnolls. This is how they reproduce. Vinya had seen four of those gnolls with the hyena packs around them. She’d also seen several that looked really scarily fast and some that looked like they might be stealthier or sneakier than others.

It appeared that each of the advance squads included 8 gnolls, 1 demon, and 4 hyenas. Of the 8 gnolls, one was a speedy gnoll, one was a sneaky gnoll, and one was a brawny breeder gnoll.

We also had heard that everything eaten by the Maw Demons, the proper name for the walking mouths, winds out in the gullet of Yeenoghu, the demon behind, and empowering, gnolls.

We sent the information we had on the dragon paper back to Captain Althorn -- including numbers of the whole band and the various special kinds we’d seen, the structure of the army as far as the advance bands (and the composition of the advance bands). We also included that Mr. Alzey Telsom’s ranch was in their direct line of march toward Erlin and was probably going to be their next target in a day or so. We said that we were going to be at Alzey’s ranch, but if they needed us to be elsewhere, including back in Erlin, they could let us know and we’d go where told.

After sending the dragon paper on its way, we rode as hard and as fast as the horses could manage through the night back to the ranch. We got back in the morning to find that all of the cattle had been brought into the fortified compound.


1 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 32)

We talked with Mr. Alzey about the defense of the ranch. He said they’d have ten people on the walls with crossbows, who would then fight if the gnolls got into the enclosure. There was also Mr. Alzey, his wife, and their grown son.

Elderron: How many people were at that other place?
Mr. Alzey: There were more people, but they didn’t have walls.
Elderron: Oh.

We talked with Mr. Alzey and some of the ranch hands about whether we could find a pressure point to ambush them before they got to the walls of the ranch -- at least in part because Marxine and Vinya wouldn’t be at their most effective fighting from the top of the walls.

After some discussion, three of the hands agreed to come with us to provide fire support. But they were not going to stand and fight. If things got ugly or turned against us they were going to return to the ranch as quickly as possible. The hands knew of a place between Mr. Alzey’s and the destroyed ranch with cover and a choke point so we could set up an ambush. It even provided places where the least stealthy among us could find cover.

They led us to a gulch two miles from the ranch -- about 20 minutes to half an hour, depending on how fast we moved. The ranch hands set themselves up on a bluff about 30 feet up -- it was not an unclimbable cliff -- an athletic person with a move and a dash could get up from the base, but it gave them a good vantage point and that would give them a chance to get away if someone started heading in their direction.

The party took up positions in the brush on either side of the gulch. Vinya and Elama were on the same side the ranch hands were shooting from. Elderron, Mia and Aldalomiel were on the other side. Marxine was in a patch of brush a little closer to the direction they were going to be coming from.

After a while the gnolls arrived -- there was a big, sharp-toothed guy with four hyenas around him (a breeder gnoll), a maw demon, a speedy gnoll, a sneaky gnoll and five regular gnolls. They were absolutely not expecting an ambush, so we had them surprised for a few seconds.

Aldalomiel, from cover, took a shot at the breeder gnoll and got a good hit to kick things off. Elama moved out of the brush and got behind some rocks then dropped a shatter spell on top of the breeder and the four hyenas, killing the four hyenas immediately. The ranch hands on the top of the gulch focused their fire on the breeder, seeing where the party was attacking, and each of them hit, dropping it.

Huzzah!

Mia cast plant growth on all the remaining gnolls, and the plants around and under them got hard and spiky, making difficult and damaging terrain around them. Vinya moved across the gulch and into the brush on the other side. Marxine moved out to the edge of the spike growth and dodged, waiting for one of them to cross the spike growth and come to her. Elderron cast a web spell on some of those in the plant growth -- to space out when they could come in our direction.

Aldalomiel took a shot at the sneaky gnoll from her position in cover. Elama cast her spiritual weapon next to the same one and shot a lightning bolt out of the storm cloud, but it missed. She then hit it with a sacred flame. The crossbowmen again followed Aldalomiel and Elama’s lead and shot at the sneaky gnoll. Only one hit, but that shot dropped it.

Huzzah again!

The gnolls started shrieking and gibbering and “laughing” like hyenas.

One of the regular gnolls ran straight through the heart of the spike growth toward Marxine, ripping himself apart on the thorns and spikes, dropping a few feet from her. Another one ran through the thorns and spikes, taking a great deal of damage on the way, but made it all the way to attack Marxine, hitting her with a spear. One of the regular gnolls and the maw demon were stuck in the web and remained there, struggling against the sticky webs. Another actually had a brain cell fire and it stepped out of the spike growth by the most direct route and ran around it to get to Marxine, attacking and hitting her.

Mia stepped out of the brush and took a crossbow shot at the speedy gnoll, stuck in the spike growth and web. Vinya stepped out of the brush and attacked the smart one that had skirted the spike growth with her quarterstaff and a kick. Elderron threw a cold chromatic orb at one of the ones stuck in the web -- it breathed in the ball of cold then coughed out a cloud of ice crystals as it expired.

Marxine hit the one in front of her with her new magical axe. Despite a great and damaging hit, it stayed, swaying, in front of her, nearly dead.

The speedy gnoll, the only special one remaining, managed to get out of the webbing, but didn’t think to avoid the spike growth (or didn’t notice it). He ran forward toward the party, ripping and tearing himself apart on the spikes and dying on the way.

All that was left were two of the regular gnolls and the maw demon -- and the demon and one of the gnolls were restrained in the webbing. The one that was free to move was clearly nearly dead.

Aldalomiel took her shot at the maw demon, hitting it solidly. Elama’s spiritual weapon hit it next the lightning bolt hitting it with a great deal of force. It sagged in the web then began to turn to a nasty slimy liquid that then evaporated away.

The crossbow-wielding ranch hands focused their fire on the restrained gnoll and dropped it.

The last gnoll tried to keep up the yipping and gibbering but looked distressed and didn’t manage much volume. He also didn’t manage to hit Marxine. Mia dropped it with a crossbow bolt.

In all, the advance party managed a round of the yipping and chortling. And, of course, there was Elama’s shatter spell.

We listened to hear if more were coming.

We heard that same shrieking and yipping coming from a path off to the right of the gulch, heading this way and maybe a quarter mile away.

We were discussing whether to try to take out another advance party here or retreat back to the ranch. (Note: I think we’d decided to retreat back toward the ranch.)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 12: Gnoll Army - Defeated!


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


Note: Before we started playing, Mia's player told us that she was going to have to bow out of the campaign for personal reasons. The rest of the table agreed to continue with a five person party.


1 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 32) (immediately after)

We decided that instead of returning to the fortified ranch immediately after the gnoll fight, we’d move along the gulch toward where they were coming from, so they wouldn’t see the bodies of the first advance party of gnolls and be alerted to an ambush.

We spotted another advance scouting band coming along the gulch -- the composition of the band was the same as the previous one -- one breeder (with four hyenas), one speedy gnoll, one sneaky gnoll, one maw demon, and five regular gnolls. Unfortunately, we didn’t hide nearly as well, so they spotted us fairly quickly and started screeching and chortling and howling.

Alda took the first shot at them and hit the breeder solidly. Marxine got her second wind, to help her heal up from the previous fight, and then ran out into the middle of the gulch to draw their attention, the started dodging and dancing around.

The breeder gnoll took Marxine’s bait and ran to her and attacked -- but it missed because she was dodging. The sneaky gnoll moved forward and shot vaguely in Marxine’s direction with its longbow.

Vinya ran out and attacked the breeder and hit it with both her quarterstaff and a punch, joining Marxine in the middle of the gulch. The regular gnolls, seeing the bait there, moved toward Vinya and Marxine but couldn’t make it all the way to them.

Elderron had found himself a position on a hillock in the gulch while we were waiting for them to arrive. He stepped out from behind a rise and tolled the dead on the breeder, then ducked back into cover.

Mia cast a spike growth centered on the speedy gnoll, hoping to have the same excellent results she had in the previous fight. The speedy gnoll, the sneaky gnoll, the maw demon, three regular gnolls and two of the hyenas were all in the spike growth.

The two hyenas in the spike growth were smarter than the gnolls in the previous fight. They saw that the ground around them was spiky and painful, and sat down, refusing to move at all. The other two hyenas, outside the spell area, also saw the dangerous ground, and ran around the area to attack Vinya -- both of them hit her.

The speedy gnoll, not as smart as the hyenas, took a great deal of damage running through the spike growth, then it attacked Marxine, hitting with its first swing. The second swing was very vigorous and forceful, but also entirely wild and missed entirely.

The maw demon took its cue from the hyenas and refused to move.

The ranch hands with their crossbows up on the rim of the gulch sent some of their shots to the breeder gnoll and some to the sneaky gnoll. Aldalomiel took out the the breeder with a perfect shot that went right into its eye, then she moved her hunter’s mark to the speedy gnoll.

Marxine hit the a gnoll right in front of her solidly. Vinya lamely hit one of them (it was a hit in a critical spot, but not a good hit) then used a flurry of blows to drop the two hyenas that had circled the spike growth to attack her.

The sneaky gnoll moved to Marxine and attacked her, hitting her solidly. The two regular gnolls not in the spike growth rushed Vinya and Marxine.. The regular gnolls attacked using spears. Marxine was hit hard by one. One hit Vinya. The other two were so wild with their attacks that it was almost impossible to know who they were targeting. One seemed to have targeted the ground with a powerful blow.

Elderron came off his hillock and cast magic missile on the sneaky gnoll, dropping it. Mia cast shillelagh and then used it to attack one of the gnolls that were mobbing around Vinya and Marxine.

The hyenas in the spike growth continued to sit there, unwilling to move through the painful ground. The maw demon did as well.

Elama cast sacred flame on one of the gnolls on Marxine and Vinya, hitting it with some radiant damage.

The crossbow wielding ranch hands moved along the top of the gulch and started shooting at the maw demon, since it was being a sitting target for them. They did it a lot of damage, setting it up for Aldalomiel to move her hunter’s mark over to it and drop it with an arrow right into its heart.

Marxine attacked the one that was between her and Vinya, taking advantage of having it flanked, and hit it well, twice, using an action surge to do so. That gnoll went down. Vinya turned to another one and hit it with her quarterstaff, but missed with her punch. The gnoll survived.

Which was a genuine pity, because another gnoll was able to find a position of flanking against Marxine and hit her very hard. Marxine looked fairly rough at this point. Another gnoll missed Vinya.

Elama ran over and healed Marxine, who was looking a lot better after that. The crossbowmen started working on the hyenas sitting in the spike growth -- hitting one of them well, but not dropping it.

Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark to the gnoll that had hit Marxine so hard and shot an arrow that went through its neck and into the back of its skill, dropping it instantly. Marxine took an opportunity attack from one of the gnolls to get flanking on another one, but then missed with her swing. Vinya took advantage of the flanking Marxine arranged to hit with her quarterstaff and attack with a flurry of blows.

She dropped one of the two remaining gnolls, but one remained standing. (There was also still a hyena in the spike growth.)

That last gnoll stopped its screeching and laughing and listened for a bit. Then it attacked Marxine and missed.

Elderron tolled the dead on the last gnoll but it didn’t quite drop. Mia let the spike growth drop then used her shillelagh on the last gnoll and dropping it. Marxine took one of their shields.

Mia looked at the last hyena, the last member of this advance party still alive, and tried to talk it out of being a gnoll-associated hyena. Before the hyena had a chance to repent its ways, the crossbowmen on the wall dropped it.

We immediately headed back toward the fortified ranch -- we got our horses and went back to the ranch.

The gnolls had to come through the gulch to get to the ranch -- so we left the bodies to distract them (Vinya figured they’d eat them) as they headed toward Telson’s Ranch. Mr. Alzey Telson and his wife Timma were happy that none of us were dead. So were we.

We told them what we saw and what we fought and rested for a bit, hoping to have a chance to get our breath back, gather our energy and prepare for the main body of the army to arrive at the rance. As we rested, Timma Telson showed up with two greater healing potions.

Timma: You look really beat up. Take these. You’ll feel better.

Marxine and Vinya drank the potions.

We were able to rest for a whole hour before we started hearing the screeching of the gnolls coming through the gulch toward the ranch. They were about fifteen minutes away when we started hearing them.

During that time, Marxine asked if they had any options for ground fighters, as neither she nor Vinya are at their best fighting at range. They loaned her a crossbow and Vinya a longbow.

Marxine: Well, it’s better than nothing. But not by much.

They also showed us the defenses they had behind the gates, in case the gnolls breached the gates. If they did, Vinya and Marxine would get off the wall and join the defenders at ground level.

The party took up positions on the wall on either side of the main gate, along with ten crossbow-wielding ranch hands, including the three that had been with us out in the gulch.

Elama cast a fog cloud about eighty feet away from the base of the wall.

Elama: I don’t know why the storm grants me this spell, but dammit I will use it!

By the time the gnoll army made it into range of the crossbows, long-range fire had whittled the army down to 10 gnolls, 10 hyenas, two maw demons, three speedy gnolls, two breeders, and the pack Alpha (not a flind).

Elderron shot one of the regular gnolls with a firebolt, but not for much damage. Aldalomiel missed with a sling bullet. Vinya hit with her unfamiliar longbow, but not for much damage. Marxine, on the other side of the gate from Vinya, missed. The crossbowmen shot at the closest targets, the speedy gnolls that were rushing the gate, and dropped one of them. The crossbowmen on Mia and Marxine’s side of the gate all missed.

Mia: Good practice round, guys! We’ll get them next time.

The hyenas rushed the wall, some of them getting right to it, but they were unable to do anything but mill about and chortle. The Alpha moved forward and began to dodge and weave, bracing for attack. The rest of the gnoll army moved forward as far as they could -- mostly rushing toward the gate rather than merely toward the wall.

Mia threw a moonbeam on the Alpha. Elama cast sacred flame on one of the hyenas, which was in range for her. Elderron cast magic missile on the Alpha, doing a nice amount of damage. Aldalomiel put her hunter’s mark on the sneaky gnoll that had already been hit by one of the arrows earlier and fired off a sling bullet at it, getting a crit. Unfortunately it didn’t drop, so Vinya took a shot at it to far less effect than Aldalomiel’s shot. Marxine missed with a crossbow shot at one of the regular gnolls.

The two speedy gnolls, got right up next to the gates, but had had to run their fastest to get there. The crossbowmen focused their fire on them and dropped them both.

The rest of the hyenas joined their packmates at the base of the walls and were unable to do anything there. The Alpha took some damage from MIa’s moonbeam then he moved closer and dodged again, as did the maw demon.

Mia moved the moonbeam back onto the Alpha then called out encouragement to the archers on her side of the gate.

The gnolls made their way up to the gates and started hacking at them with hand axes.

Elderron traded places with one of the crossbowmen and shot an Aganazzar’s scorcher that caught three of the regular gnolls -- all of them survived, but looked and sounded very pained. Aldalomiel got a critical shot on the same speedy gnoll she’d been shooting at -- caved in his chest with a sling bullet. Nice!

Elama: WTF was that?

Aldalomiel then moved her hunter’s mark to the other of the speedy gnolls.

Vinya, once again, got a nice hit with her arrow, but it paled compared to Aldalomiel’s prodigious shots. The archers on Mia’s side of the wall responded to her encouragement and took out a gnoll. The archers on Vinya’s side did as well.

The Alpha once again took damage from the moonbeam spell -- then he ran out of it toward the wall and dodged. The maw demons also moved up, finally getting near the wall themselves.

Mia dropped the moonbeam spell and cast an entangle spell on the area right outside the gates, to keep the gnolls from breaching the gates. Only one of the regular gnolls at the gate eluded the clinging and grasping vines. That one moved back, away from the gates, to get out of the spell’s area.

The Alpha got up to the wall and started attacking the gate with a glaive. Elama tried to cast a guiding bolt on him, but missed. Elderron cast another Aganazzar’s scorcher, catching the leader and a couple of the regular gnolls. The regular gnolls were both dropped, but the leader survived.

Aldalomiel shook the foundations of the world by missing with a sling bullet. Vinya got a nice shot on a gnoll near her.

Marxine, with a target finally near enough to use a preferred weapon, threw a handaxe at the Alpha and dropped him!

The crossbowmen on the wall took out the gnolls in the entangle spell.

The maw demons, seeing the Alpha dropped and most of the gnolls dead, started to flee. So did the regular gnolls and the surviving breeder gnoll and speedy gnoll. The hyenas milling about at the base of the wall started running away.

Elama cast a sacred flame on the maw demon.

Elama: That’s right! You better run!!

Elderron cast magic missile on the same demon, hitting solidly. Aldalomiel, Vinya and the crossbowmen all focused their fire on the breeder gnoll, but weren’t able to drop it.

Marxine finally got a crit with a crossbow (actually with any weapon on a 19, because she’s a Champion Fighter), but unfortunately it did very little damage.

After the gnolls got out of the range of our crossbows and bows, we jumped off the wall and mounted horses. We chased down and killed the demons, gnolls and the breeder gnoll. The hyenas we didn’t worry about.

Mia said that away from the gnolls and the influence of Yeenoghu the hyenas would revert to their natural state.

The Telsons told us that the people in the other settlement probably have some stuff and gold. They asked us to escort them to the ruined ranch.

We did so.

At that ruined ranch, we found mostly burned buildings. One of those buildings had a brick vault in it. Inside the vault we found some coin and some items. The Telsons wanted to keep the money and the art pieces in the vault, but said that we were welcome to keep any of the items we found.

The first thing we found was a maul bracketed to the wall over the vault. We also found two pairs of gloves, a flute, and three potions.

After we identified the items and discovered that the maul was a +1 magical weapon and one of the potions was a potion of supreme healing, we figured that the ranchers had forgotten (or didn’t think about) what was in the vault when they were being attacked by the gnolls. Either that or they couldn’t get to the vault in the assault.

The items were identified as:

+1 Maul (Marxine)
Gloves of Thievery (Elderron)
Gloves of Missile Snaring (??)
Pipes of the Sewers (Vinya)
Potion of Water Breathing
Potion of Animal Friendship
Potion of Supreme Healing

The potions were kept as party treasure. It’s possible that Alda kept the gloves of missile snaring, on the theory that she could supplement her ammo supply with them, but my notes don’t say that for sure.

After all of this fighting, Mia told us that she’d been getting weird dreams and signs that her people needed her back. She’d just intended to leave for a little bit to take care of the ogres she’d been following when she found us. She handed Vinya a handful of goodberries.

Mia: Remember, they’re only good for 24 hours.
Vinya: I had something to give you.

Vinya and Elama hugged her, and then Mia headed out toward Tash, across country, to get back to her people.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 13: Ghouls In The Storm Sewer


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)

GM - Everyone Else


1 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 32) (immediately after)

We took a long rest at Alzey Telson’s ranch and the night passed without incident.


2 - 6 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign days 33 - 37)

We left the next morning to head toward Erlin and hopefully meet up with the force from Erlin. We travelled without incident or trouble until we got to the valley with the two faces on either side of it.

There we found Erlin’s guard setting up a defensive line when we got there around mid-day.

We told the leader of the unit that we’d killed all the gnolls, except a few hyenas. They looked quite relieved at that. We also told them that we hadn’t backtracked them at all beyond the ruined ranch, so we didn’t know where they’d started or if there were people who needed help.

A party went out to go backtrack the gnolls. We travelled the rest of the way back to Erlin with the rest of the guard. While we traveled we asked about the dragon statue and the valley with the faces.

The valley is called the Valley of Argument. Those of the longer-lived races knew that the faces were moving and the droning deep noise we could hear changed over time. It appeared that the faces in the walls of the valley have been and are having an argument in archaeological time.

The dragon statue had been there since the Giant-Dragon war and was once an ancient dragon.

We also asked about the floating upside-down tower, but they didn’t know anything about that.

Once we were back in Erlin, around sunset on 6 Blizzarin (Day 37), we went to talk to Captain Althorn.

Vinya: We just went ahead and killed the gnolls. With the help of Mr. Telson’s ranch hands who were great with crossbows.
Captain: I’ll keep that in mind.
Vinya: [waits for more reaction than that][waits some more]
Marxine: So I think we were owed more money.

We each get another 10gp, which is what we’d agreed on.

Vinya: You can reach us at Garlin’s, until we leave town.

We headed down to the docks to arrange passage down the river. There weren’t any boats heading in that direction for six days, alas. So we arranged to be workers on a boat, The Reed, leaving in six days (on Day 43).

We were looking at six days of downtime in Erlin.

When we got to Garlin’s, he pulled a card out from behind the counter and handed it to Marxine. She showed it to us -- it was a divination card in style, but it clearly showed a photorealistic image of Marxine herself standing on a causeway with water on both sides of her during that golden hour in the afternoon when the light is so gorgeous on everything. It was clearly a painting, but incredibly detailed. She was wearing armor and with weapons, a greataxe and a maul, slung over her shoulder. She looked like she was walking or going somewhere.

Elderron recognized the location as one of the causeways connecting Pelsoreen to the mainland.

Elderron: Have you ever been there?
Marxine: No.
Elama: We could take a boat there from New Arvai.

The back of the card had an abstract design -- it wasn’t similar to any elven motifs or dwarven motifs, or to the fomori design elements we’d seen in the caves. The card itself was of indeterminate age.

Up in our rooms, Elderron checked the card out. It was very faintly magical and on thinking about it he remembered that he’d heard of these cards. They attach themselves to people and follow them around. They’re harmless -- showing a possible fate or future.


7 - 11 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign days 38 - 42)

During our days of downtime, Elama went to talk to armorers about what can be done with the Bulette armor and learned that the answer was “Nothing in six days.” Then she asked about what to do with the basilisk venom glands she’d collected.

She got referred to Jamil, the sage we’d eaten Mahassari food with, or Thierry, the magic stuff seller.

She decided to go to Jamil, who looked at them, carefully, handling them with forceps and having a protective shield in front of his face. He gave Elama 50gp for them.

Jamil: I did some research on that dragon if your friend wants to come back.

Elama went to get Aldalomiel, and other members of the party, so we were all together visiting Jamil.

Jamil told Aldalomiel that the dragon’s name is Sossonatissis, an ancient and powerful blue dragon who was an adult before the Severance. He goes by the moniker The Blue Death. He lives mostly in the Scoured Hills on the other side of the mountains to the east of Tash. He occasionally gets obsessed or focused on a particular goal or idea. He’s been known to suborn entire tribes of dragonborn and to hire mercenaries from other planes. He’s also created draconic servants -- not dragons or dragonborn but other draconic entities. He was left alone for a long time after the Fiend Wars because he killed very many fiends, including devils.

Aldalomiel: The information my friends and I found was different from that.
Jamil: He’s been known to spread disinformation.
Aldalomiel: We will have to do more research, then.

We talked some about how to get that information to Aldalomiel’s friends and learned that Jamil had some of the dragon pages (like we’d gotten from Captain Althorn). We bought one from him for the entire party.

Aldalomiel bought three for herself -- one to send to the friend who researched the blue dragon for her and one to send to her vanished girlfriend, with a blank sheet for a return message.

Elama showed him a book that she pulled out of her pack.

Elama: I found this in the temple that I trained in. It won’t hold marks of any sort of pen, ink, pencil, paint or any writing implement at all.
Marxine: Have you tried other ways of making marks?
Elama: I’ve tried every kind of writing instrument I’ve encountered.

Vinya took a dart from her belt and with the tip scratched some marks into one of the pages, marring the paper. Elama closed the book -- when she opened it again, the marks were gone.

Jamil: I’ve never seen anything like that.
Elama: Me either!

Jamil asked about our plans and we said we were leaving for New Arvai on the 12th of Blizzarin. He asked us to do a favor for him -- he had a box that needed to be delivered to the Head Librarian at the School of the World in New Arvai. He said that he couldn’t leave Erlin because he had responsibilities and asked if we could deliver the box for him.

Vinya: We can take your box.
Jamil: It’s currently sealed.
Elama: I assume you want to keep it that way.
Jamil: It’s better for the contents if you do.
Vinya: Is there anything we need to know about the contents? For its safety and ours.
Jamil: It’s a very old history book -- 400 years old. It’s about the Kotimanov succession wars.

Not something any of us were terrifically interested in.

Much more interesting -- Jamil offered to let Elderron copy spells from his spellbook pretty much freely.

We left Jamil’s and went into a montage of time passing:
  • Elderron learned and copied spells from Jamil’s spellbook
  • Aldalomiel spent the time writing letters on her dragon paper and meditating in one of the city’s parks
  • Vinya sparred and worked out in a dojo with other monks
  • Marxine did Marxine things, nonspecific
  • Elama gave small items to squirrels and sent them on their way, then, after an hour or so, used Locate Object to find the items.
After dinner on 11 Blizzarin (Day 42), so the evening before our boat The Reed was to be leaving in the morning, Captain Althorn showed up at Garlin’s.

Captain Althorn: Some people in the city have been disappearing in Angler’s Ladder over the past weeks. Can you look into it?
Vinya: Our boat…
Captain: I can ask The Reed to wait a few days while you deal with this.
Elama: Let’s move. I don’t want to just sit here.

So we began to walk and talk with the Captain toward Angler’s Ladder while he explained what was going on. People on their way to or from late or very early shifts at the harbor have been disappearing, mostly between Angler’s Ladder and the Harbor district. We asked him to take us to where the most recent disappearance had happened. All that was left behind was a foul, foul smell.

Captain: Some of the guards looked around a little, but they were unable to track whatever did it because the smell was too strong for them. It should have dispersed by now.
Vinya: Were there any witnesses?
Captain: In some of the cases witnesses have heard a choked scream and bad smells. One witness reported hearing the sound of bestial eating, but they didn’t want to investigate.
Vinya: How frequently have these disappearances been happening?
Captain: They started just before you got back from Telson’s ranch, when the guard was short staffed. A couple of guards disappeared the night before you returned. Then one the next night. Another one the night after that. The night after that three people disappeared. Last night four people.

When we got to the location where one of the most recently missing people was last seen, we saw an entrance to the city’s sewer system.

Elama: Be bored or go into the sewers. Tough choice.
Captain: This is more like a storm sewer. It’s not that bad.
Vinya: How big an area are the people missing from -- just right around here?
Captain: No. It’s probably 20 blocks or more, with multiple access points to the storm sewers.

We looked around for blood -- Vinya and Elderron both spotted a dried smear of blood around the sewer entrance, heading in.

The Captain said he was going to set up a cordon around the area where people had been disappearing and encourage people not to go into the area -- but he knew it wasn’t going to keep everyone out as some people live and/or work in that 20 block area.

We headed into the sewers -- Elama fired up her glowing sword and also cast a light spell on her shield. Elderron cast mage armor on himself.

The storm sewer had narrow walkways on either side of the running water. Vinya tested the depth of the water with her extending rod and found it to be several feet deep. We went some distance into the sewer, following the intermittent smears and splotches of blood.

After a time, the whole party, save for Elama, was surprised by a swarm of very gaunt, humanoid-ish figures swarming up out of the water onto the ledge with us -- clawing and biting at us. Because we hadn’t noticed them in the water, most of them were attacking the back of the line of us (Elderron, Marxine and Aldalomiel).

Their surprise attack got in a couple of hits on Elderron and Elama.

Aldalomiel cast zephyr strike, so she could move away from the three on her, and dropped the one nearest to her with two arrows. Marxine got a critical hit against hers -- it survived but was cut from collarbone to pelvis. Vinya, as usual, missed with her quarterstaff but managed to land a punch. Elama cast her spiritual weapon and it shot a lightning bolt at the one attacking Elderron. Then she cast sacred flame on the one that was attacking her.

Elderron cast a new spell, fireball, placing it with surgical precision but not much power. It was a relatively weak puff of fire, but it hit four of the monsters without any of us being put in danger. Two of the ones in the fireball dropped in flames, so it was definitely a serviceable fireball.

They attacked and Vinya and Elama were both hit.

Aldalomiel shot one, softening it up for Marxine, who then dropped it with her first attack. Then she attacked the other one right next to her, cleaving it in half, the pieces falling into the water. Vinya dropped the one on her with the quarterstaff (which actually hit something!) then dropped the one that had been attacking Elama with the first punch of her flurry of blows. She was able to do a graceful maneuver to get to the one that was attacking Elderron and hit it as well. Elama then dropped it with her spiritual weapon.

With the last one dead, we looked again for the blood trail we’d been following. Elama and Vinya spotted it. Aldalomiel missed it. Before we continued on our way, we waited for 10 minutes while Elama cast a prayer of healing.

We continued on, following the blood trail, up the storm drains, away from the river. We came upon a pile of bloody bones, clearly gnawed on, with scattered viscera around. Bloody footprints of bare feet with long claws, continued up a narrower feeder pipe with water that we had to walk through (no ledges on the sides of it). We continued up that feeder sewer. There were openings in the walls where other, still smaller, pipes flowed into the feeder sewer we were walking through.

As we walked, we started to smell something absolutely foul, like days-old nasty death, and were all looking around for the source. Vinya, Elama, and Aldalomiel managed to hear something coming down one of the smaller pipes.

Aldalomiel backed up a few steps so she could look down a side passage and saw two of them coming down the hall.

Aldalomiel: There’s something back here.

She then put her hunter’s mark on the closer of those two and dropped it with her first shot, then fired her second shot at the other one.

One, reeking with a foul odor, came out of a side passage and attacked Marxine and another reeking one came out of a side passage and attacked Vinya. Both missed. Then some regular ghouls came out of a different passage, attacking Vinya and Marxine. Marxine was hit by one of them.

Marxine, not happy at having been hit, attacked the smelly ghast, hitting with both of her attacks. She followed that up with a surge of additional attacks, hitting it two more times and dropping it! Beautiful work.

While we were still appreciating Marxine’s awesome performance, two pale, translucent figures drifted out of the walls -- they looked humanoid, but their bodies trailed off into mist. One of them hit Elama, who did her retributive lightning shock against it in response. The other one missed Marxine.

Elama cast a new spell, spirit guardians, and was surrounded by little balls of light that shot out lightning flashes and small crackles of electricity when they hit enemies.

Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark to the ghoul fighting her, drawing a short sword. Unfortunately she missed with both of her attacks. Elderron cast magic missile on the spectral enemy near him, doing a lot of damage.

Vinya hit the smelly ghast on her with her quarterstaff, doing a stunning strike. When it was stunned, she used some of her ki energy for a flurry of blows. It took a lot of damage, but was still standing at the end of it. It then took damage from the spirit guardians.

The ghouls on Vinya then attacked her, hitting her hard. Marxine was hit by one of them. Aldalomiel was wildly missed.

Marxine attacked the one threatening Elderron, dropping it. The spectre on Elderron was dropped by Elama’s spirit guardians. Elama then cast sacred flame on Vinya’s stunned ghast -- it shrieked and flared with the radiant flames, then fell. Then she cast healing word on Vinya, who was very grateful.

Elama then moved so that all of the ghouls on Vinya were in the area of her spirit guardians. Aldalomiel drew her other sword and attacked her ghoul, dropping it. She moved to the ghoul that kept hitting Marxine and hit it solidly, but it didn’t drop. Elderron, finally without anyone in melee with him, cast a scorching ray, hitting Marxine’s ghoul with one ray and one of Vinya’s with two. That created the possibility for Vinya to drop one of the ghouls on her and hit another of those.

Two of the remaining ghouls on Vinya were dropped by Elama’s spirit guardians. The last ghoul left on her attacked Elama and hit her. The ghoul on Marxine and Aldalomiel attacked Marxine and got a hit.

Despite that, Marxine attacked the spectre -- dropping her shield and attacking with the battle axe. She hit it twice and dropped it. Elama cast sacred flame on the one in front of her and Vinya, dropping it, then moved, with her spirit guardians, back toward the last remaining ghoul (the one with Marxine and Aldalomiel). Aldalomiel hit it twice, with her hunter’s mark on it, and dropped it.

Elama listened for noises and heard some, similar to the claws in the pipes that we’d heard just before they attacked from the side passages. Vinya peeked down a side hall -- she didn’t see anything but she also heard the scrabbling claws that sounded like they were coming toward us.

Elama extinguished the light spell on her shield and the light from her sword. Aldalomiel cast pass without trace and we started sneaking down a side passage, still following the blood trail. Because of Aldalomiel’s spell, we were all incredibly sneaky, even Elama and Marxine.

We followed the passage for about five minutes, with occasional glimpses of the blood trail and the smell of decomposition and death from the ghast. We got to the edge of a large junction, where several passages intersected with one another. The floor of the junction was lower than the level of the passage we were in and it was filled with rubble and debris and detritus that had washed into the drain and accumulated.

Inside the room were a lot of ghouls, some of which smelled terribly, and possibly a few of the translucent spectres.

We ended there on the edge of the junction -- Elama has five minutes left of the spirit guardians. Aldalomiel has 55 minutes left on the pass without trace.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 14: On the Way to Lonoj

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)

GM - Everyone Else


11 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 42, night) (immediately after)

We had been fighting ghouls and ghasts in the storm sewers of Erlin and had followed the stench of ghast and a blood trail from the sewer where we’d had a pretty big fight to the edge of a large junction area in the sewers where several pipes flowed into an overflow area. There was some rubble and debris that had washed into the sewers on the floor, lots of ghouls (the stench indicated that some of those might have been ghasts), and maybe some spectres barely visible on the edge of the room.

We watched the ghouls milling around a bit and realized that we were in a safe place -- they weren’t going to inadvertently stumble on us and if they did we were in a defensible position -- so we decided to give up on the remaining time with Elama’s spirit guardians and Aldalomiel’s pass without trace and take a short rest. During the rest we observed the room and talked strategy.

Elderron: I think we can announce our presence with a fireball.

We all agreed with that strategy.

Elama blessed Marxine, Vinya, and Aldalomiel. Marxine quaffed her potion of giant strength. Then Elderron proceeded as planned -- with a very big booming fireball.

That blew up three of the ghouls right out of the gate. The spectres, which had no idea where the big boom had come from, moved away from the source of the fire.

Aldalomiel took a shot at one of the ghasts, the smelly ghouls, and missed once then hit solidly. It made angry noises as it turned toward where we were cloaked in darkness.

Unlike the spectres, the ghasts moved toward us. One attacked Marxine and one attacked Vinya. They established the pattern for the undead for most of the combat -- they missed.

The mysterious, not-spectre incorporeal thing flew over to where it could attack either Marxine or Vinya. It swung wildly, missing both.

Elama observed that there were four things bunched up right in front of Vinya and Marxine (two ghasts, one ghoul and the not-a-spectre floaty thing) cast a shatter spell, calling on the divine energy of the tempest to do as much damage as possible. One of the ghasts was immediately killed. The others were badly hurt, but didn’t drop.

The rest of the ghouls started moving in our direction. The Swol Ghoul that survived the shatter spell and one of the others attacked the unarmored elves (Elderron and Vinya). They missed horribly.

VInya dropped a ghoul (not Swol Ghoul) with her quarterstaff, then summoned her ki and stepped back a few feet so she could shoot a sunbolt at the floaty incorporeal thing (the wraith). Marxine then hit the incorporeal thing with her magic maul and dropped it. Woot! Then she attacked again and dropped the ghast in front of her.

Elderron misty stepped to get out of the front line then cast toll the dead on the ghoul that had attacked him.

The spectres, which had fled to the other side of the room when the fireball went off, came back, moving about halfway (or slightly less) and dodged. Aldalomiel, seeing this, put her hunter’s mark on one of them and shot it twice, dropping it. Elama cast a guiding bolt on the other spectre, hitting it and leaving it with a glow that would make it easier for others to hit.

Marxine and Aldalomiel were attacked -- Marxine by three ghouls -- but with all those attacks swinging around, only Marxine was hit and she was only hit once. After Vinya popped a ghoul a couple of times with her quarterstaff, Marxine dropped Aldalomiel’s ghoul with her first swing and Vinya’s with her second, leaving only two, both unhurt. At least until Elderron magic missiled one.

The remaining spectre, still glowing from the guiding bolt, attacked Vinya, but continued with the monster’s theme of missing all around. Aldalomiel put it out of its undead misery with her first arrow. Her second arrow dropped one of the two ghouls.

The last ghoul hit Marxine, then we all piled on it with gusto until Marxine knocked it down and continued attacking it until it was really entirely dead.

We explored the room. Elama spotted some stuff down one of the sewer passages that led into the room. Lots of stuff.

569 cp
6502 sp
2069 gp
75 pp

5 art pieces, each worth 250 gp: 1 robe with silver embroidery, two silver necklaces with bloodstone pendants, 2 gold birdcages with electrum humanoid skeletons with bat wings inside.

Elderron, seeing the birdcages: I’m keeping Oda in his pocket dimension.

We also found some items, which we identified later:

1 Potion of Healing
1 Potion of Greater Healing
1 Rod of Alertness (very cool item)
1 Spell Scroll of Banish Shadow, which might have been more handy earlier
1 Mystery Key (has a chance to open any lock, but it only works once)

Elama lit up her sword and her shield and went to look at the puddle of super-darkness. The magical light dimmed in the area of the puddle.

Elderron recognized it for what it is -- a shadowpool, a portal to the Shadowfell. Unlike portals to more distant planes, it doesn’t take a lot of magic to make a portal to the Shadowfell. All it takes is for the arrangement of things in this plane and the Shadowfell to match up and align, and to stay aligned for a number of weeks. It’s possible to break a shadowpool by breaking up the correspondences. A dispel magic on top of that will completely deactivate and destroy the portal. Breaking the correspondences will keep it from getting worse and keep things from coming through.

Hearing that breaking up the match between this plane and the Shadowfell was the first step in getting rid of the shadowpool, Marxine started bashing on the walls -- but in a smart way so as not to bring anything down on our heads. Elama considered shooting a guiding bolt into it, but decided against, because she might need the spell power later. Vinya fired a couple of her radiant sunbolts into it -- they disappeared into the darkness, but there was no effect.

Elama found an exit from the sewers that didn’t involve trekking all the way back to where we’d entered from. We emerged from that in Rivergate, pretty near to the guard house. Handy!!

We went to talk to Captain Althorn.

Vinya and Marxine: There were a lot of ghouls and ghasts.
Vinya: And Elderron, tell him about the shadowpuddle.
Elderron: There was a shadowpool. A portal to the Shadowfell. We broke it up some, but it needs permanent dealing with.
Althorn: Oh. Yeah, the people up in Promontory won’t be happy.

We left him muttering about the people in Promontory. Vinya, Marxine, and Elama went back into the sewer to keep an eye on the shadowpool and make sure nothing came through while Elderron and Aldalomiel went to find Jamil to see if he could help.

Aldalomiel: We thought you might want to look at the shadowpool. And maybe you can close it?
Jamil: One moment!

He disappeared back into his house for a bit then came out dressed for the sewers.

Aldalomiel, Elderron, and Jamil arrived at the scene of the shadowpool to find Marxine, Vinya, and Elama moving the rubble around and breaking walls.

Marxine: We’re improving things.
Vinya: The hydrology…

Elama offered to help Jamil as he pulled out a scroll of dispel magic. He thanked her but declined the offer, then read from the scroll. When he got to the end of the spell, the pool disappeared entirely.

Elama: Do undead usually make those pools?
Jamil: Wraiths and other free-willed undead do.
Elama: Where did the wraith come from? How did he get here to start making it?
Jamil: Who knows?
Vinya: It’s easy to dismiss it that way. But not helpful.
Jamil: I’m not dismissing the question. It’s just not readily answerable.

We went back to Captain Althorn to report that the shadowpool had been entirely dispelled. We gave him all of the copper that we found and a lot of the silver (all but Elderron’s share of it). Vinya and Aldalomiel also contributed a chunk of their gold shares. That was to be used as restitution and assistance for the families of those who were killed by the ghouls.

As we left, Elderron realized that if he worked at it all night (and slept on the boat the next day) he could copy another spell or two from Jamil’s spellbook. With Jamil’s permission, he went that way while the rest of us returned to Garlin’s.

The rest of the night passed without incident.


12 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 43)

The next morning, Vinya stopped at the guard house to talk to Captain Althorn on our way to The Reed.

Vinya: We’re getting out of your hair. Maybe you don’t hate adventurers so much after our help.
Althorn: Whenever adventurers are around, there’s grumbling from on high.
Vinya: Right. Well, we hope we’ve left the city better off than when we arrived.

Then we got on the boat and The Reed sailed away.

The day aboard ship passed uneventfully. As did the night.


13 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 44)

The next day on the boat we were approached by a mountain dwarf merchant named Ullard Stonebright. He offered to pay us to escort him from Lonoj to Torm Brinnom.

Elderron: What’s torn britches?
Marxine: A dwarf stronghold.
Vinya: We have a box to take to New Arvai. But we don’t have any particular reason to think it’s pressing.

He offered again to pay us, 100 gp each.

Vinya: That’s way more than we made for killing a whole passel of ghouls.

Marxine was obviously, and vocally, very leery about going to a dwarf stronghold.

Vinya: Maybe we can just go to the door and see him inside -- we don’t need to go into the stronghold at all.

Vinya, to Elderron: Do you have something that would let you talk to someone a long way off?
Elama: I can do that. Tomorrow.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident.


14 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 45)

The next morning, Elama used a sending spell to talk to Jamil.

Lamie: Hey! Is there any rush for us to get the box to New Arvai? We may have a job.
Jamil: As long as you don’t destroy the book, there’s no real rush.

We asked Mr. Stonebright if we could have a little time to caucus about taking his job. He said that was fine as it would be several days before we got to Lonoj.

Over dinner, Vinya looked at the coins we got from the shadowpool. Some of them looked old. When she examined them more closely, she saw that two of them said they were from Ambernock. She consulted with Elderron and he said that Ambernock was the city that was where Embernook is before the Severance.

She put those two coins into a very special place so they wouldn’t get accidentally spent.


15 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 46)

The next day, we sailed past an old ruined fort or castle on a hill. The captain of The Reed, Tulia Shirvon, a water genasi, said that it went back to the fiend wars. She said that some nobles, or people who wanted to be, built it.

The boat wasn’t going to stop, so we marked it on our map for possible future exploration.

The day and the night passed.


16 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 47)

Elama cast augury to ask if taking the job as guards for Ullard Stonebright is a good idea. She got the answer “weal”.

Elama: Good!

We decided that while we respect Marxine’s concerns about going into the dwarf stronghold, Torm Brinnom, we also respect 100gp each and the agury. We’ll just do our best not to have to go inside.

Vinya: Mr. Stonebright, we will do your thing.
Stonebright: Excellent! I figure that with a dwarf in your group, I’ll be in good hands. Even with all the elves.

Ullard Stonebright told us that we’d be getting onto a different boat in Lonoj to take that river up into the mountains -- as far as where the river turns to the west.

We continued to sail along. Elama cast water walk on herself and Vinya and they walked, or ran mostly, next to the boat for a while.


17 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 48)

Early in the morning, as we were waking up and shuffling around to get coffee and stuff, the boat entered a section that was a bit choppier and more characterful.

Marxine: We’re gonna die!!
Captain Shirvon: No, this is fine.
Elama: I can cast water walking.

As we were dealing with the river being somewhat rougher, we heard shrieking like something being tortured coming from the water. As the boat hit the water, as it bounced and jostled along, the water screamed.

Vinya went to look over the side of the boat.

Elama: What’s that?
Captain Shirvon: Oh, it happens.
Vinya, thinking back to sailing this part of the river in the other direction: I remember this. I remember a stretch of screaming.
Elderron: The Screaming Rapids.

We noted the screaming rapids on our map.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident.


18 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 49)

The day and the night passed.


19 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 50)

After breakfast, while Vinya, Aldalomiel, and Elama were working on deck (Elderron and Marxine were down below), Vinya spotted two huge shapes coming through the water toward the bow of the boat. Two huge shapes with lots of heads.

Vinya: What the hell’s that?! Elama! Aldalomiel! Look at that!

Her shout got the attention of the sailors and the sailors banged a bell to get more attention from the rest of the crew and the captain. A bunch of sailors, as well as Elderron, came out of the lower decks of the ship.

Elderron: Well, I guess I’m going to have to fireball one.

Which he proceeded to do -- to good effect.

The one that Elderron cast fireball on swam right up to the bow of the boat and attacked a sailor. The other one was just a little too far away.

Elderron let us all know that they need to take fire damage in order not to regenerate. Otherwise if you kill a head and don’t do any fire damage to the beast, two heads will grow back.

Elama held onto the mast and cast call lightning, striking the hydra with a lightning bolt.

Aldalomiel cast hunter’s mark on the one that was fireballed and shot it, missing once and hitting. Vinya used her radiant sunbolts, summoning her ki to shoot that injured one four times -- she hit three times and one of those was a critical hit. Unfortunately the head she was shooting at didn’t die. Marxine charged up the stairs from down below and hit the hurt one, finally killing one of the heads. Then she did an action surge to attack again but wasn’t able to drop another head. (Note: Apparently two heads had already been killed.)

The sailors, seeing that they had people willing to run toward the hydras on board, ran away to the other end of the boat. The captain, on the other hand, pulled out a crossbow and shot the hurt one.

Elderron backed away from the hydras and cast a magic missile that he turned into fire damage on the hurt one -- cauterizing the wounds from the heads that had been killed.

Both of the hydras, with all of their heads, attacked Marxine, who was all alone up there right next to them. Marxine took three hits, but was still standing at the end of it.

Elama cast a healing word on Marxine then called a lightning bolt out of the clouds onto both of the hydras.

The one that was already wounded died, its body sinking away into the river.

Elama: Woo! I didn’t expect it to die like that.

The other one lost a head to the lightning bolt as well!

Aldalomiel, going all David and Goliath on it, used her sling on it twice and took out a head. Vinya shot four sunbolts at it and took out another head. Marxine got one hit and then got her second wind and healed up a little bit. The captain missed with her crossbow. Elderron cast a fireball toward the back of the hydra -- which cauterized the wounds where the heads had been killed but didn’t hit either the boat or Marxine.

Distracted by the pain of its wounds, the hydra missed Marxine with both of its attacks.

Elama threw a lightning bolt at it, then hit it with a spiritual weapon. Vinya only hit with one of her four sunbolts. Marxine hit twice. Elderron finally dropped it with a fire magic missile.

Vinya, to the Captain: What happens when these things show up and you don’t have fighters aboard?
Captain: It’s never really come up.
Aldalomiel: You might want to consider it.

The rest of the day and the night passed, without incident.

And there we ended.


Treasure:

569 cp (given to Captain Althorn)
6502 sp (1300 for each of us -- only Elderron kept his share of the silver)
2069 gp (413 for each of us)
75 pp (15 each)

5 art pieces, each worth 250 gp: 1 robe with silver embroidery, two silver necklaces with bloodstone pendants, 2 gold birdcages with electrum humanoid skeletons with bat wings inside. (There’s one piece for each of us. Vinya would like one of the necklaces as her share of the arts.)

We also found some items, which we identified later:

1 Potion of Healing
1 Potion of Greater Healing
1 Rod of Alertness (very cool item)
1 Spell Scroll of Banish Shadow, which might have been more handy earlier
1 Mystery Key (has a chance to open any lock, but it only works once)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 15: Class War


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)


GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


20 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 51)

We continued sailing along on the Reed to Lonoj. Mr. Stonebright, our employer, told us that he was going to arrange a boat and then land transport from Lonoj to Torm Brinnom, the Dwarven stronghold we’re going to be escorting him to. He said he had some planning he was going to need to do.

Vinya: Are you going to need help?
Stonebright: No, I’ve got this. But it’s going to take a few days.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident. As did the next day and the night.


22 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 53)

The Reed pulled into a slip in the Lonoj harbor in the mid-morning and we debarked.

We stood around contemplating getting rooms in an inn for the few days we were going to be waiting for Mr. Stonebright to make arrangements for us to go to Torm Brinnom.

Vinya: Maybe we should stay in the same inn he does, so he can find us.
Elderron: If we work for him, can he pay?

Vinya found our employer and asked for a recommendation of an inn. He said he was going to be staying at a place in The Slips called the Soaring Gull, so we decided to stay there as well. We went with him to the inn.

Elama: What is there to do in this town?
Stonebright: The usual things you find in most towns.
Elama: Erlin was very boring.
Vinya: What makes Lonoj Lonoj?
Stonebright: Facet Square.
Vinya: Let’s go there!

We arranged for our rooms then followed directions, and the sound of bustle and goods being bought and sold, to the very large open-air market that is Facet Square. Elama scurried around looking at all the things she’d never seen before. The market had one sector where people were specifically selling gems and jewelry, and we were told that was how the market started, but all manner of goods were being sold from foodstuffs to common pottery to exotic wares from other continents.

Elderron bought himself some very fine clothes, so he could look like a proper fancy wizard.

As we walked around through the gem and jewelry markets we noticed that there were arguments going on in a number of the gem cutting stalls. It seemed like the workers were trying to negotiate for raises. As we listened more closely to this we noticed that the workers didn’t appear to have any leverage because the bosses were colluding with one another.

Marxine: The merchant class is keeping people down.

We asked a little about the government of the city, just talking to people in stalls. We learned that the government is a mercantile oligarchy. It’s ruled by a Council of Guilds with a mayor that serves at the pleasure of the council. Mayors tend to stay in power for a while because the council values consistency in the governance of the city.

It seemed that the people complaining were mostly gnomes and dwarves, so we got concerned about this being racial oppression as well as the class oppression, but it became clear that the workers mostly worked for people of the same race and argued with their bosses whoever they were.

Marxine was a miner in a Dwarven stronghold, working for a mining company - she recognized the struggles of labor versus management, even though she’d been more at the getting the gems out of the mountains side of the process than gemcutting, jewelry making, or jewel selling.

We went to find a place to have dinner just away from Facet Square in Orbi’s Round, one of the neighborhoods where the workers live. We didn’t go far before we found a bar with a lot of noise and bustle for the size of the establishment -- the Silver Loupe. Most of the furniture inside was sized for gnomes and dwarves. It turned out not to be overly crowded, but the crowd inside was festive and jovial and happy.

We went in, the largely elf party getting some strange looks and a beat of silence before people went back to eating, drinking, and talking with one another as normal. It seemed as though they weren’t used to seeing non-locals in the bar any more than they were used to seeing elves.

Elderron said a greeting in gnomish to the first gnome he saw. Marxine rolled her eyes. Both of them were hearing pretty normal bar conversation. Elderron approached the bartender, a gnome who was short and wiry, even by gnome standards

Barkeep: Welcome to the Silver Loupe . How can I help you?
Elderron: We’d like wine and food.
Barkeep: There’s a table in the corner that you folks might be comfortable at. I’m Smolly. How can I help you?

We ordered ale and mead and wine and meat and potatoes and veggies and cheese and bread -- each of us according to our preference. We were served a very good meal, especially for the quite modest price Smolly asked for the food. The meal was delicious and a bargain. We had found ourselves a really nice local spot.

Smolly, to Marxine: Why are you in here? We don’t normally get new people. It’s been four years since we’ve had new people.
Marxine: You must have a reputation and draw in new customers.
Smolly: Well, okay. New people usually come in with locals though. Like they’re brought in by someone who’s a regular. We don’t just get people coming in on their own. That’s been a long time now.
Marxine: I’m from a stronghold on the East side of the continent.
Elderron: It seems like there’s been complaints and commotion. Maybe we can help?
Smolly: The jewellers and gem-cutters are up to their old tricks. They’re colluding to keep wages down. And they have a blacklist, so workers who complain too much are getting blocked from working anywhere.
Vinya: How long has this been going on?
Smolly: It’s been building for a year but it’s coming to a head now as even the most skilled workers are not able to get higher wages anywhere. I hope you bought what you want today.
Vinya: Do you think something is going to happen tomorrow?
Smolly: Well, last time this happened, 50 years ago, the workers went on strike and got some concessions from the owners and the guilds. I don’t think the owners want to have to do that this time.
Elderron: Are the workers suffering or living in squalor?
Smolly: Well, they’re not selling their kids like they do sometimes in New Arvai…
Elderron: Selling their kids?
Smolly: Yeah.
Elderron: I’m from Pelsoreen. My parents sold me three times.
Smolly: In New Arvai kids get sold to the gangs. That’s how the gangs do most of their recruiting.
Vinya: What do you expect to happen tomorrow? Another strike?
Smolly: Yeah. Probably stores tomorrow will have hard times with staffing and staying open. People who want to shop will have to cross picket lines and the shops will have to find scabs to do the work. Depending on what happens after that, there may be other unpleasantness.
Elderron: In the Chimney Shell neighborhood?
Smolly: Probably there will be some shenanigans there, but mostly in the Square at the retail end.
Marxine: If the retail workers can get the manufacturing workers on their side, that would give them more leverage.
Smolly: They’re trying.
Elderron: Where do the guildmasters live?
Smolly: Blossomside.
Vinya: This happens every human generation?
Smolly: Yeah, about that. It just spreads -- one or two of the owners get the idea and then it spreads out.
Elderron: The businesses are doing well, but the guilds don’t want to share the wealth.
Smolly: No. They never do.
Marxine: That’s the point of capitalism -- to grow wealth.
Elderron: We’ll keep our eyes open tomorrow.
Vinya: And eat this lovely dinner.

The lovely dinner was followed by an almost magical strawberry cake (in the middle of winter!). After dinner the bar got quieter.

Marxine went to the bar and bought a round for some of the dwarves to get a more explicit idea of the workers’ plans, but though they accepted the beers they didn’t talk about what they had in mind for the strike the next day. She gave them a power fist sign and then walked away.

Vinya, to Smolly as he came to bring more drinks: Are there any elf communities in Lonoj?
Smolly: There’s a little group of wood elves in Blossomside, near the greenspace in the city.
Vinya: Do they also work in the jewelry trade?
Smolly: Not necessarily.
Marxine: Maybe they grow the strawberries.

We finished eating and then went back to the Soaring Gull for the night.

Vinya and Marxine contemplated going and finding trouble on our way back, and Marxine watched for people milling about or moving, but she didn’t see anything but the place emptying out.

The night passed without incident.


23 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 54)

The next morning we heard rumblings even in the Soaring Gull about goings on in Facet Square. The departure of several of the ships in port was being delayed because many of the people who would have been sailing out wanted to take gems and jewels with them and the shops were closed.

We ate breakfast and headed to Facet Square. Many of the major entrances to the Square, especially those near the gem and jewelry stalls, were blocked by picket lines -- striking workers with signs. There were also picket lines at some of the larger jewelry shops. The signs had slogans demanding fair wages, freedom to negotiate, and an end to blacklists for qualified workers. They were in gnomish, dwarvish and common. The dwarven ones were blunt and to the point. The gnomish ones were cleverly worded calumnies. In either language, when a specific person was called out it was for not supporting fellow gnomes or fellow dwarves. They were evoking the strong community leanings of both the gnomes and the dwarves and calling out people for failing to abide by that.

Elderron looked around for the union leaders and organizers as well as the city watch and what the guild leaders were doing. The city watch wasn’t interfering with the picket line or the people crossing it. They were clearly there to intervene only when things got violent. They didn’t appear to be at all inclined to harass the striking workers or kick their heads.

Elama: What’s our goal?
Elderron: Have we chosen a side?
Marxine: <<laughs>>
Vinya: I’m with Marxine.

The striking workers had mostly blocked the entrances to the square near the gem shops - the other shops selling general merchandise and food were still open and doing business without crossing the picket lines.

Elderron: I’d like to go to Blossomside and see the other side of things -- get a sense of what the guilds and merchants are going to do.
Vinya: Yeah, see what they’re planning in response.
Marxine: I’m staying here.

So Marxine stayed in Facet Square while the rest of the party headed to Blossomside. We agreed to meet up at the Silver Loupe for lunch. Elderron was looking for guildsmen, members of the merchant-owner class, having conversations. Maybe a tavern to have a late second breakfast where people might be meeting. Elama and Vinya noticed a cluster of wood elf homes in a greenspace. They also noticed a lot of people in the street, some of them heading toward an upscale bar, that had a lot of noise and bustle coming out of it, though the sign on the door said that it was closed.

Vinya, to Elama: Clairvoyance would let us look into the bar.
Elama: It’s a great spell. But I didn’t prepare it today.

Vinya looked around for an alley or side window or something where we might be able to get close and overhear something. We found an alley on the side of the building where we could stand without being totally obvious about it. And from there we could hear and see a little bit.

There were a lot of people in the bar -- clearly merchants and gemcutters and jewelers -- guildmasters and shop owners and business owners and silversmiths. We heard some argument about what to do. It was clear that at that time they were not planning to give into the strikers.

Vinya took a peek in through the window looking for Mr. Stonebright, our employer, but didn’t see him.

We heard some talk about breaking the strike -- some people mentioned the name Armok, wondering what his thoughts were, asking what he’s doing. It was clear that his suggestions and ideas were going to carry a lot of weight.

Vinya: Any idea on how to find this Armok guy?
Elama: Maybe he’ll show up.
Vinya; We can wait for about an hour before we’re meeting Marxine and there’s only one entrance to the bar. Let’s mill around on the street and try not to be too obvious about it.

About 45 minutes later we saw a dignified looking, old, dwarf man, with an ornately braided beard and ornate robes, flanked by two much younger, similarly dressed dwarves who looked like they might be related to him. We realized as he entered the bar that none of us who were there could understand dwarvish. So Elderron cast comprehend languages and tried to listen to what was being said in the bar.

Unfortunately he couldn’t hear very well. The rest of us who could hear better couldn’t understand the languages being spoken. We collectively got the sense that there was a question from Armok and agreement from the assembly.

Meanwhile, back in Facet Square, Marxine was antsy and anxious because she’d done this before and it had gone poorly for her. She was milling about, keeping an eye on the guards around the picket lines, nervous they’d be doing something to attack or harm the picketing workers.

As she was keeping an eye out, she saw about a dozen orcish guys with leather armor and shields barreling toward a picket line a few hundred feet away.

At her top speed she was going to get there about 40 seconds after they were going to get there, which meant that they were going to have plenty of time to hurt a lot of the picketers. Some of the people on the picket line, seeing the orcs coming, changed their grip on their signs, ready to swing them in their own defense. Some of the picketers scattered.

Marxine ran that way with her shield ready, prepared to come between the workers and the orcs. She was also prepared to try and rally people back to the picket lines.

The orcs arrived at the picket line well before Marxine could -- she could only watch them attack the protestors. Two of the protestors were dropped hard -- it was clear to Marxine that the orcs weren’t pulling their blows. They didn’t care if they killed people. The orcs were indiscriminate in their attacks -- they hit anyone in or near the picket lines, including one of the guards, who they dropped.

Much of the line, and the guard keeping an eye on it, broke and scattered. The orcs didn’t put any effort into killing the ones who were dropped but they didn’t care about avoiding lethal damage either.

After breaking up the picket line, the orcs waded into the square toward some of the lines picketing specific shops. Some people were trying to help the picketers. Many were trying to get away. Marxine ran in their direction.

As Marxine got close, she dropped her shield and grabbed the magical maul with both hands as she met up with the orcs in the middle of the square. She hit and dropped one of the orcs with two blows then dropped another one with a single blow.

Marxine was so caught up in the fight that she was taken aback and surprised to see a tall, pale, thin human-looking man who ran into the fight at about the same time she did from the other side of the orcs. He stopped about 15 feet away from the group of orcs and dark, skeletal wings came out of his shoulders and he was surrounded by a terrifying aura. Three of the orcs looked rattled by him and attacked Marxine, but only one hit. The others turned and attacked the winged guy, and he was hit three times.

Marxine didn’t have time to figure out the guy with the skeletal wings -- she just kept swinging. She hit one of them twice -- the second shot knocked his head right off. The winged guy started laying into the orcs with two-handed swings with a longsword. He dropped two of the orcs that were attacking him. As he hit them, there were little flashes of light. He was also not trying to do non-lethal damage.

The two remaining orcs on Marxine hit her once between them. The winged guy was hit a few times by the several orcs on him.

Marxine dropped another one with her two hits and the winged guy, who appeared to be doing shots that flashed with blackness and a bright energy (both radiant and necrotic damage at the same time), dropped two of them, one with each blow.

After another couple of shots from the orcs on each of them, Marxine hit her remaining orc once but didn’t drop him. The winged guy dropped one then got a critical hit and did a paladin smite pulling down radiant energy that exploded in a big ball of energy. He then turned and looked at the one remaining orc, on Marxine, and growled something in orcish.

The orc wet his pants, dropped his club and ran away.

Winged guy: You fight well, tovarisch.
Marxine: Thanks for the help.
Winged guy: They needed stopping.

There were still a few protesters around -- most of them scattered but some had not. Some of the people who had been knocked down by the orcs were getting help -- folks were helping them up. Medics were hovering over a couple of the others.

Marxine, looking around: Are you helping these people? Are you staying around?
Winged guy: I can stay here. You appear to have picked the correct side.
Marxine: These are people trying to eat. The bosses are taking from them.
Winged guy: The world could use more people fighting for them. Where are you staying?
Marxine: The Soaring Gull
Winged Guy: I’ll find you there later.
Marxine: What’s your name?
Winged Guy: Erloto.

Meanwhile, the group trying to do surveillance and reconnaissance in Blossomside (and mostly failing) headed toward the Silver Loupe to meet Marxine for lunch armed only with one name, Armok, and the sense that the people in Blossomside had been in agreement with something he’d suggested.

On our way back to the bar we saw a beaten up and bedraggled orc running to Blossomside, though it didn’t go to the bar we were at.

Marxine and Erloto went to where the picketers and guards had been injured. Erloto went around laying hands on the injured, healing their wounds. Marxine took one of the injured people to the Silver Loupe, considering that a safe place where the person could get food, drink and tending to his wounds.

Marxine noticed that no one came to take care of the orcs.

We met up at the Silver Loupe.

Vinya: We got a name. You got a friend.
Marxine: You can tell by the blood -- some Pinkertons came to crack down on the protestors. I cracked back.

We told Marxine about what we heard, about Armok, and the distinguished dwarf with the two associates.As we talked we figured that the agreement we heard was about bringing in the brute squad.

Marxine: That would be a dwarf -- ending a strike with mercenaries.

We all agreed that bringing in brutes like the orcs on the first day of a strike was not okay.

Marxine went to talk to Smolly.

Smolly: Good to see you here again.
Marxine: I wish it was better circumstances.
Smolly: It could have been worse -- though two innocents died. And one of the guards.
Marxine: Have mercenaries been called on strikes before or is this the first time?
Smolly: It’s been done before, but this is the first time it’s been this quick. And that was as violent as it’s ever been.
Elerron: Who’s Armok? We saw a richly dressed dwarf…
Vinya: With two younger dwarves -- maybe his sons or nephews.
Smolly: That was a son and a nephew. Yeah, that’s Armok Fireruby.
Marxine: There’s an aristocrat name.
Smolly: He’s the head of the Jewellers’ Guild. His brother was the head of the Gemcutters’ Guild. His nephew is the head there now. His son is an up-and-comer in the Jewel Merchants’ Guild.
Elama: Are we going to kill this guy?
Vinya: Well, that’s not the plan.
Elderron: What can be done then?
Vinya: Maybe we can be guarding or helping the workers -- fighting the mercenaries.
Marxine: We don’t have time for a revolution.
Vinya: Maybe we can negotiate with Armok. If we could find an edge against him, leverage, to get him to back down…
Elderron: So we need to find people who might have leverage….

We talked about the possibility of getting his class allies disgusted with him for being so crude.

Elama: Do we have proof he hired the orcs?
Elderron: He arrived and talked and got agreement. Then there were orcs.

We talked about the fact that there was a human guardsman among the dead and decided to go talk to the guard. At the guardhouse, we noticed that there was a lot of busy-ness and commotion. We got in by throwing Captain Althorn’s name around.

Elderron looked around to see if there were any picketers being thrown in jail and saw none. He also didn’t see any orcs. But the guards were tense at having lost one of their own.

Elama: Hey, guys! Why are you so busy?
Marxine, Vinya and Aldalomiel: <<facepalm>

The reaction from the guard we were talking to was a three second pause.

Guard: Fustercluck in Facet Square.
Elama: We weren’t there. She was. <<pointing to Marxine>>
Marxine: Sorry about your comrade.
Guard: We want to find out why they killed him. He wasn’t a threat.
Elama: Do you have any orc corpses?
Guard: ….
Elama: I’m a priest. I can speak to dead people. Tomorrow.
Guard: Let me see if I can get you in to talk to Captain Toris.

The guard went deeper into the guard house then returned a couple of minutes later with a human man with greying temples, in his mid-fifties but still pretty trim, and introduced him as Captain Konasik Toris.

Captain Toris: You want one of the orc corpses.
Elama: Tomorrow. We want to know who hired the orcs.
Captain: We want to know that too. If we can figure out who did it, we can present a case to the mayor and the guilds. We can make sure this asshat gets punished.
Marxine: Even if they have money and influence?
Elderron: We’re here to help you.
Captain: Our guy wasn’t there but to keep order. He didn’t sign up to fight mercenaries. He wasn’t armed or equipped for that.
Elderron: So bringing in the orcs was crossing a line?
Captain: Yeah. It was. If two groups are going to fight each other, they need to make sure no one is caught in between.
Marxine: Only one side wanted to settle things this way. You’re not interested in the dead workers?
Captain: I’m being practical. Them having killed the guard is how to get justice -- if we can figure out where in the guilds this came from. The guilds won’t care about the dead workers but they will care about a dead guard. You can get justice for them by getting justice for my guy.
Marxine: Yeah. It just sucks.
Captain: Yeah.
Vinya: Any suggestion on where to begin?
Elama: There’s this Armok guy.
Captain: Armok Fireruby?
Vinya: Maybe…

Captain Toris then described perfectly the older, ornately-dressed dwarf we’d seen, as well as his two companions. Vinya told him the little we heard from the bar up in Blossomside.

Captain: Armok has a reputation as a ruthless dwarf.
Vinya: That would go with bringing in orc mercenaries on the first day of a strike.
Captain: Yeah.
Vinya: Where does he live? How can we find out more about him?
Captain: I don’t know a lot. I do know that the Firerubies aren’t in Torm Brinnom because the other dwarfs didn’t want them there.
Elama: Isn’t that where we’re escorting that guy?
Vinya and Elderron: Yes.

Torus gave us directions to the Fireruby estate.

Vinya: I bet there are big, conspicuous ruby-looking gems on the gate columns.
Elama: Is that a dwarf thing?
Marxine: If you’re an asshole.

We left the Captain and headed toward the bar that the elf contingent of the party had been at in Blossomside to see if they’d opened by now. They had and it was less crowded open than it had been when it was closed earlier.

Armok was not still there.

Elderron, before we went in: Are we going to go in and ask a lot of questions?
Vinya: I think just listen for a while.
Marxine: If we talk to any of these people, I’ll go insane.
Vinya: But you can listen?
Marxine: Yes.

So we went in. Though there are a large number of dwarves and gnomes living in Blossomside, the bar was mostly sized for humans. We went in and got beverages and some bar food. This was a very rootsy-tootsy bar, with a bard playing a harp very poorly in the corner, and the food and drinks were expensive. They were not, however, any better than the food and drinks at the Silver Loupe. The only difference was that we paid a lot more here in Blossomside.

Elama and Elderron both noticed that the beverages tasted exactly like the wines they were drinking at the Silver Loupe. Exactly. They also noticed that there were no labels on the bottle. They pointed this out to the others, very quietly.

Vinya: I dislike these guys even more.
Elderron: So what are people paying for up here?
Vinya: They’re charging what the market will bear.

We then started to listen to what was going on in the bar. Aldalomiel heard a human a couple of tables away talking to his companions.

Human: I can’t believe the goons Armok hired got that out of hand. I also can’t believe so many of them wound out dead.
Marxine: <<suppressed cackle>>

We asked the bartender if he knew who that guy was but he had no idea. We watched carefully to see if the bartender gave the guy any indication that we’d inquired, but there was no communication.

Elama quietly cast thaumaturgy and created a whispering next to the guy’s ear that said, “This is your conscience. You are guilty of those deaths. Go confess your sins.”

After a few seconds of that, the guy sat up straight and looked around startled. The guy he was talking to looked puzzled at his companion’s behavior, but didn’t appear to be able to hear the whispering himself.

After 10 seconds of the whispering in his ear, the guy freaked out and fastwalked out of the bar. Aldalomiel put her hunters’ mark on him as he left.

We ended there, planning to let him get a little bit ahead of us before we left to follow him.
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 16: What’s Dwarvish for Asshole?


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)

GM: - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


23 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 54) (immediately after)

A few minutes after the guy who had been talking about Armok walked out of the bar, we followed after him, trying to be subtle. Aldalomiel, even aided by her hunter’s mark, lost him in the crowd, but Elama spotted him at a distance down the road, so we were able to follow him without being noticed.

We were expecting him to perhaps head to the Fireruby estate, but he made his way out of Blossomside to Facet Square. He went into a two story haberdashery, Turlont’s, in a side of Facet Square that is not dedicated to gems and jewels. There were no picketers outside the store, but someone had planted a sign out front calling on them to support the strike.

We watched as he entered the building -- after a few minutes lights came on upstairs -- but we could see that the shop was still open. Vinya and Aldalomiel walked around the building looking for alleys and other exits or entrances to the building.

While they did so, Elderron, Elama, and Marxine went into the shop under the guise of Elderron looking for cufflinks to go with the fine clothes he’d bought himself when we arrived in Lonoj.

Shopkeeper, a human woman: Welcome to Turlont’s.
Elderron: Might you be Mrs. Turlont?
Shopkeeper: Yes, yes I am.
Elderron: I’d like to peruse around. I’m interested in fine things.
Mrs. Turlont: Please look around.

Elama started grabbing cool things she found in the shop and putting them on Elderron -- cravats and tie pins and cufflinks and scarves.

Marxine: Can we get a man’s opinion?
Mrs. Turlont: Certainly.

She went upstairs and then returned with the guy from the posh fern bar in Blossomside. He stepped into the room adjusting his clothes slightly -- his clothes were as nice as the very nicest stuff in the shop. He began offering cogent fashion opinions and pointing Elderron to options at a variety of price points. He also talked to Elderron a bit about what he liked and was interested in -- he wasn’t simply pointing out the most expensive items in the store or aggressively upselling but pointing to things that Elderron might like. Everyone but Marxine got the sense that he wasn’t scheming or being an oily salesman -- he genuinely wanted a happy customer. Marxine saw him as a social climber.

Turlont pointed Elderron to some cufflinks inlaid with mother of pearl owls, which Elderron bought. Elderron praised the shop and Turlont’s help in spotting the owls.

Elderron: How are you being affected by the strikes?
Turlont: Not too much really. We don’t make things here and we don’t primarily sell jewels or gems. We only have a couple of workers come in from time to time--mostly it’s me and my wife. Our supply is going to be affected eventually and foot traffic is down in the Square.

Marxine asked about the fighting earlier in the day.

Turlont: Bloodshed like that is bad. And bad for business. Especially in the shops selling finer goods.
Elderron: How uncivilized…
Turlont: The violence was unnecessary, but there are those who don’t want to pay their help... and they don’t want others to pay either.
Elderron: Were there fatalities?
Turlont: A couple of picketers were killed. What bugs me most is that a guard was killed.
Elderron: That’s dreadful! Who was involved? Were picketers and owners actually fighting in the streets?
Turlont: Some of the gem people thought they could get the strike over more quickly by hiring someone to come in and beat up the picketers.
Elderron: That’s unfortunate.
Turlont: Yeah. It’s just going to agitate the strikers and make it go longer. That’s if there aren’t repercussions from that guard being killed. Maybe that will shorten the strike.
Elderron: That’s to be hoped for.
Turlont: I don’t expect it.
Marxine: Why not? You don’t expect the guilds will face repercussions?
Elderron: What about the captain of the guard? Is he going to favor the guilds too?
Turlont: I expect Captain Toris will be displeased.
Elderron: Does he have authority to do anything?
Turlont: He may be able to make a case to the Guild Council, but he’ll have to be sure of his evidence.
Elderron: Are there rivalries in the Council or are they pretty united?
Turlont: There are some merchants and guilds where you want to be very careful around the leadership. I’ve had friends who found themselves sharply undercut to the point of not being able to sell at a profit. One I was closest to was a milliner, so not even in the gem business directly.
Elderron: Are the guilds you are talking about here the same ones being picketed?
Turlont: Yeah.
Elderron: That explains the brute squad, then.
Turlont: There’s a strange combination of self-assuredness and desperation.
Elderron: Desperation? How?
Turlont: They hired orcs. They can’t have had an expectation of finesse or subtlety.
Marxine: It says they don’t want to negotiate.
Turlont: Yeah. The message is to conform or get beaten down.
Elderron: Whoever hired these orcs is clearly not much for negotiating this strike.
Turlont: He’d be willing to negotiate if there was no danger of losing.
Elderron: I guess they thought the orcs would cause fear and he’d get leverage against the picketers.
Turlont: Or break their will. But given how well the exercise went for him, I don’t expect it to have worked.
Elderron: Fear can be a useful tool if used properly.

They thanked Turlont and prepared to leave. Marxine didn’t think it appropriate to jump on his chest so she turned back just to ask another question.

Marxine: I think I know something about the guard being killed. If you or some of the people who’ve been screwed in the past aren’t free to take action, maybe we can. We can help fix the power balance.

Turlont looked at Marxine for a second then his eyes got wide and there was a spark of recognition.

Turlont: You were one of the one who killed the Spearbreakers! I would love for the Guilds to get it through their heads that the Firerubys are greedy and bad for everyone else’s business. The dead guard may be the last straw.
Marxine: I’m hoping to help the guards get justice, so the dead picketers can get justice.
Turlont: I hear things. I do business with the Jewelers’ Guild. Other merchants don’t know how ruthless the Firerubys are. They don’t know that Armok has a son and a nephew rising in other guilds.
Marxine: Who can we talk to to connect the Spearbreakers to the Firerubys?
Turlont: I can’t help with the Spearbreakers. I have spent too much time avoiding interactions with the Firerubys.
Marxine: If any word gets back to you, let me know. And if you hear of trouble coming for you let us know. We’re staying at the Soaring Gull. We don’t want you to be a victim because you talked to us.

He did give Marxine a bit of information about the Firerubys.

Armok Fireruby is the head of the Jewellers’ Guild. They get the raw gems out of the ground and to the Gemcutters.

Artock Fireruby, his nephew, is the head of the Gemcutters’ Guild.

Kurkul Fireruby, his son, is up-and-coming in the Gem Merchants’ Guild.

Marxine, Elama, and Elderron left and met up with Vinya and Aldalomiel outside. Marxine told us that she was meeting with someone who’d fought alongside her at the Soaring Gull. So we decided to forgo the delicious dinner we knew we’d get from Smolly at the Silver Loupe and went for dinner at the Soaring Gull instead.

At the Soaring Gull, we ran into our employer, Ullard Stonebright, who was looking pretty discombobulated.

Elama: Hi, Mr. Stonebright. What’s wrong?
Stonebright: There’s a lot of tension and upset around. I’m sure you’ve noticed. I’m having a bit of a hard time finding anyone who wants to sail toward Torm Brinnom.
Elama: All the hubbub in town has to do with the jewelers. I don’t know that it would stop people wanting to leave the city. We’ve been looking into it and hearing the name...Fire...help me out…
Vinya and Marxine: Fireruby.
Stonebright: They didn’t get far. I’m not surprised you’re hearing their name.
Elderron: Why?
Stonebright: They were notoriously ruthless and greedy. The other clans in Torm Brinnom kicked them out.
Marxine: Does hiring orcs also sound like them?
Stonebright: Uh...possibly?
Elama: Don’t dwarves hate orcs?
Marxine: I have more of a grudge against Firerubys.
Stonebright: It’s not universal. Some strongholds have had real problems with orcs since the Severance. Others haven’t. Since the Severance, the orcs are no longer so driven to violence by their gods. Some have changed, some haven’t. That’s the real variation, I think, not the dwarves.
Marxine: The Firerubys hired orcs to break the strike.
Elderron: What do you think of that?
Stonebright: I think that won’t end well.
Elderron: Do you know them?
Stonebright: They were kicked out before I came of age. But the interactions I had even with the children of the family were unpleasant. They’re the sort that give all dwarf merchants a bad name.
Elderron: Did he give Torm Brinnom a bad name?
Stonebright: I was young and that was all happening among the elders. But even the kids were unpleasant.
Elderron: Do you remember names?
Stonebright: <<thinks for several moments>> Ar...Artok maybe. I remember him being a self-important bully.

We made a bit more small-talk then Stonebright headed up to his room and we stayed in the tavern for dinner.

Vinya went to talk to the bartender, since they always know about things in their cities.

Vinya: Are there resident orcs in town?
Bartender: There’s a band of orc mercenaries for hire, the Spearbreakers. They do most of their work out of town, guarding caravans or ships on the river.
Vinya: How do we get in touch with them?
Bartender: They’re in Ash Hill.

He gave us directions into the right part of Ash Hill then suggested that from there we could ask someone for directions. Vinya thanked him and went back to our table.

After dinner, a very tall, slender, exceedingly pale man came in and greeted Marxine. He looked like an albino with white skin, pale hair, and very pale blue eyes.

Pale man: Greetings, tovarisch. I am Erloto Oddrnov. That was brave. It is not everyone who will stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Marxine: I HAD to.
Vinya: You have to help people.
Erloto, still looking at Marxine: It’s good to have allies.

Marxine introduced us.

Elderron recognized him as a fallen aasimar -- a person of celestial heritage who has been touched by darkness or turned to evil. He couldn’t understand how it worked that Erloto was helping people.

Elderron: Erloto, tell us about yourself.

He told us that he’s from Kotima -- several months travel by boat away from here. It’s also called the Broken Continent. Kotima has families of aasimar diplomats and envoys. He noticed Elderron’s wariness and said that he had fallen from the grace of his Planetar guide and the Celestial hierarchy by refusing their pressure to do good only by taking a very broad view. He preferred to help the needy and oppressed right in front of him.

Erloto handed Marxine a sheaf of papers -- handwritten notes about justice and helping the downtrodden. Everything she needed to become a paladin and take the Oath of Liberation, if she so chose.

Elama: Do you understand things about Celestial and otherworldly stuff?
Erloto: Some….
Elama: Can you take a look at my book?

She pulled out her book that wouldn’t retain any mark and showed it to him. He looked at it, flipping through the pages, looking at some of them very closely.

Erloto: Maybe it’s already full.
Elama: But it’s empty.
Marxine: What do you think we should do for this town next?

Erloto talked to us for a bit to get a sense of the information we’d gathered.

Erloto: I think maybe if you can get pressure onto the other members of the guilds they are trying to lead that could cut them off from their political power. If you can convince those three guilds to stand up to them, that would put a lot of pressure on them.
Elderron: Pressure in what way? What do you think about propaganda?
Erloto: It might work.
Marxine: And pointing out they killed a guard…
Erloto: If you can find clear evidence linking them to the death of a guard it could cut their legs out from under them.
Elderron: Where can we find these Spearbreakers?
Erloto: They’re in Ash Hill. Be careful, the Firerubys are not very nice and if you press them they may become desperate.
Vinya: It seemed like Armok Fireruby got agreement about bringing in the Spearbreakers from the other owners and guildsmen.
Erloto: Did he get consensus or just present them with a fait accompli?
Vinya: Good point.

Erloto left shortly after that, Vinya walked with him for a bit and they talked. Then he left the inn and we retired to bed. The night passed without incident.


24 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 55)

Our first step in the morning was to go to the guardhouse to talk to Captain Toris and to talk to one of the dead orcs.

We got there and found the captain looking haggard.

Vinya: What’s up, Captain? Is everything okay?
Captain Toris: Things aren’t worse.
Marxine: We have some information -- do you know anything about the Firerubys’ past?
Captain: Your people operate on a different timescale than mine. (Reminder: Captain Toris is a human.)
Marxine: They were ousted from their stronghold for the things they’re doing now -- ruthlessly trying to manipulate the market in their favor, driving people out of business. That sort of thing.
Captain: Interesting.
Marxine: It’s kind of their MO.

We asked to see the corpse of one of the orcs then and he took us to where they’d kept the corpses.

Elama started to put candles around the corpse, as part of casting speak with dead.

Elderron: Can anyone speak orcish?

He cast comprehend languages to solve that problem. Elama suggested to Marxine that she not be in the room, because the orc would know if an enemy was present and might refuse to answer, or to answer truthfully. Marxine reluctantly agreed to stand just outside the door, monitoring the proceedings from just out of site. Captain Toris, however, stayed in the room with us as an official witness of the proceedings.

Elama went back to setting out candles and cast the spell. We had five questions.

Elama: Who hired you to fight the picketers?
Corpse: The dwarves.
Elama: What was the name of the dwarf who hired you?
Corpse: Aaarrrmooooochhh
Elama, after consulting with the party: What was the entirety of your contract?
Corpse: We was told to hurt as many protestors as possible as badly as we could.
Elama, after another consultation: Who negotiated the deal within the Spearbreakers?
Corpse: Kronsk
Elama: How do we get in touch with Kronsk?
Corpse: Go to the Spearbreakers and talk to Kronsk.
Vinya: That’s straightforward.

After the ritual was over, we left the room and talked to the Captain about how he’s feeling about things now.

Captain: I don't know what to make of that Dwarven name. This was the third goon from the left so he may have just repeated what he heard from other Spearbreakers.
Vinya: It sounded like Armok to me.
Captain: I wish it had been more clear.
Marxine: Our next step is to go talk to this Kronsk guy. He may not want to talk to us if he’s going to be dragged into court for killing a guard.
Captain: It’s probably going to depend on what he tells us. If the contract didn’t say anything about the guard -- whether hurting them or avoiding doing so -- it may not land as badly on the Spearbreakers as on the Firerubys. But let’s see what he says.
Marxine: I’m going to keep that in my pocket for when we talk to him.

We headed off to Ash Hill to find the Spearbreakers. Ash Hill is a run down neighborhood, there was more poverty and hardship than we’d seen anywhere else in the city.

As we walked we decided that our best bet for getting in to talk to Kronsk would be to say that we wanted to hire the Spearbreakers for a job.

We followed the bartender’s directions as far as they took us then stopped a roughed up looking goliath with a limp and Vinya asked where we could find the Spearbreakers to hire them. He looked at us for a moment, then looked around and pointed in the direction of the city wall.

Vinya: Are they outside the wall or up against it?
Goliath: No. Just that way.

A couple of minutes later we found a seedy looking house with a fence around it. Over the gate were a pair of crossed spears that had been fractured but not entirely broken.

Elderron cast comprehend languages quickly, then Elama stepped forward to knock on the door. Marxine
stayed at the back of the party.

After a bit there was a voice from inside the gate.

Orc: What you want, elf?
Elama: Hi! We want to talk to Kronsk.
Orc: Why would Kronsk want talk to you?
Elama: We want to talk about what happened in the Square.
Marxine, pushing forward: We want to talk about a job!
Elderron: Do you want gold?
Orc: The Square? Why you want talk about Square?
Elama: We want to know who was responsible so they can be arrested.
Marxine: NO!
Vinya: Who hired you? We want for that person to be arrested!
Orc: You wait.

After five minutes of waiting and four minutes of Marxine being sure we’d bungled it, the orc came back.

Orc: You want talk Kronsk, when door open you step in. Close door. Put your weapons on ground. You in robes, put wand, staff on ground. When other door opens, step through. Leave stuff on ground.

We nodded. Shortly after that, the door opened in front of us. We followed the instructions -- we stepped inside and saw a single orc standing, unarmed and unarmored, by the inner door. We also saw a lot of murder slits around the side and inner walls. Everyone in the party set their weapons down. When we’d done so, the orc opened the door and pointed to the inside. We went where we were pointed and stepped out into a large courtyard. The door closed behind us.

A large and burly orc was walking toward us, with two more orcs behind him. He had a great axe over his shoulder, as did the other two orcs escorting him. He stopped about 15 feet away.

Kronsk: I am Kronsk. Who are you? [he turned to Marxine] You let one run away.
Marxine: I had things to attend to. I am Marxine Deepfoot, Miner and Warrior.

We introduced ourselves.

Marxine: Things are whacky in town. You’ve noticed, I’m sure.
Kronsk: Things are muddled.
Marxine: We’re not here to fight. We want to settle the town down. We want to get to the people who are the root of the problems.
Kronsk: We were hired by Armok Fireruby to hurt as many of the picketers as we could as badly as we could.
Elama: Did the contract say anything about the guard?
Kronsk: We were told to commit the most mayhem possible. We were not told not to harm any person, group or place. Precision isn’t our strength.
Elderron: You were just following orders.
Kronsk: Doing what we were paid to do.
Elderron: What was the form of payment?
Kronsk: Gold.
Vinya: I suppose it’s too much to hope that anything was written down.
Kronsk: We shook hands.
Vinya: Would you be willing to tell this to Captain Toris?

Kronsk looked at Marxine.

Marxine: We’re not after you. We’re after the guys who set you on that mission, because they set you up.
Kronsk: It is much easier when we’re just protecting a boat or caravan.
Marxine: You’re not happy about what you did either…
Kronsk: Fighting is what we do. But feh.
Marxine: I’ll be on your side. Vouching for you.
Kronsk: Wait one.

He went back into the building on the other side of the courtyard. He came out a few minutes later with two more orcs.

Kronsk: Let’s go talk to the Captain.
Marxine: Yeah!!

We retrieved our weapons and we all walked together through the city to the guard house in Thivvel.

Vinya talked to him about the Spearbreakers and the work they do as we walked through the city. They mostly work guarding ships and caravans -- mostly between here and Torm Brinnom or between here and New Arvai. Kronsk’s grandfather was the first of the tribe to move into Lonoj, though they’d been doing the work for a long time before that.

We got to the guardhouse in Thivvel -- we decided to go around Blossomside rather than risking alerting the Firerubies to what was going on by walking through the wealthy neighborhood with the Spearbreakers.

Captain Toris greeted us outside the guardhouse, having seen us coming. Vinya asked Kronsk to tell the Captain what he’d told us. He did so.

When he was done, Captain Toris sighed and asked if Kronsk would mind coming in and telling that story one more time, so that he could have someone write it down. Kronsk agreed to do that.

Marxine: Can I have a copy of that testimony?
Captain: I can arrange that. It will take a little time though.

We left Kronsk with the Captain and headed toward Chimney Shell to see if we could find an older dwarf who might remember the Firerubys. On the way we decided to stop by Turlont’s shop to see if he could recommend any blacksmiths. He said no. So we proceeded on to Chimney shell.

Marxine asked around for the master blacksmith, THE guy. We were pointed to the shop of a dwarf who had been smithing in Lonoj for 150 years and in Torm Brinnom for some number of years before that. One of the people we asked told us that if he was willing to say that he’d taught you, which he wasn’t always, it was definitely a good mark on your skills. This was definitely the right guy for us. His name was Gimarul Hammerhammer.

Vinya: A true blacksmith’s name.

It was not hard to find Hammerhammer’s forge -- it had two hammers over the door. We found a very burly, ripped looking dwarf with not much hair and a very trim beard.

Hammerhammer, to Marxine: What are you doing bringing elves to my shop, girl?
Marxine: They just started following me.
Vinya: Or something like that.

Marxine introduced herself and they shook hands. Hammerhammer’s grip was strong but not brutal. Marxine shook her hand out.

Hammerhammer: Ah, I didn’t break anything.

Marxine put down her shield, taken from a dead gnoll, and told him that she wanted an upgrade. He recognized it.

Hammerhammer: Why are you carrying that piece of shite?
Marxine: I took it from one I killed and haven’t had a chance to get something better.

Marxine: I hear you learned our craft in a stronghold. So you know your shit.
Hammerhammer: Lots of people learn in strongholds.
Marxine: But not out here.
Hammerhammer: Sometimes people do things for reasons that work out for them.
Vinya: So you’re making better money out here?
Hammerhammer: I thought I would.
Elderron: What’s holding you back?
Hammerhammer: In the stronghold, there were whole clans of people who have been smithing for 200 years. Here it’s just me.
Marxine: Clans from Torm Brinnom don’t get out much?
Hammerhammer: You know how dwarves are. It’s a matter of comfort. Some people don’t fit in.

After a bit of talking, Marxine asked about the Firerubys.

Hammerhammer: I thought you might be asking about them. What do you want to know?
Marxine: We know their behavior here is part of a pattern. What started it?
Hammerhammer: It started with greed. There is little they won’t do if they think it will make them richer. There were rumors they had arranged deaths of other dwarves. By the time I left no one would go on a mining expedition or a trade caravan with them -- it was not uncommon for them to return and their partners to be lost.
Vinya: Didn’t someone tell us that the former head of the Gemcutter’s Guild died -- and now Armok’s nephew Artock is the head of it?
Hammerhammer: I don’t follow Guild politics. At least not in other guilds.
Vinya: Do you have anything for someone like me?
Hammerhammer: I mostly make armor. Which won’t be useful for you. [turned to Marxine] But I can’t let a dwarf leave with that piece of shit.

He handed her a shield with two hammers painted on it.

Hammerhammer: Take this. I insist.

Then he picked up her gnoll shield and bent it double over his knee. Marxine asked to pay and he refused to let her. They bickered over that for a bit.

Elama then pulled out the bulette hide she’d collected off the bulette we killed. Hammerhammer was very interested in that and thought he could make something good for her with it, but it would take time and the services of a master tanner as well.

Elama: We’ll be coming back through Lonoj after we take Mr. Stonebright to Torm Brinnom. We can pick it up then.

(He’ll sell one shield to Elama for 250 gp and have three others to sell for 500 gp.)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 17: Dwarven Oaths


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)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


24 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 55) (immediately after)

As we left Hammerhammer’s smithy, we talked about next steps. We thought about looking into suspicious deaths among the merchant class. VInya thought she understood that the former head of the Gemcutters Guild, replaced by Artok Fireruby (nephew of Armok), had died.

We thought about going off to talk to Captain Toris, but realized that it was near dinnertime, so we decided to hold that for the next day and went back to the Silver Loupe for dinner. As we went, we passed through Facet Square -- there was picketing going on, but there had been no major actions like the day before. Marxine noticed that morale was still good among the picketers.

When we got to the Silver Loupe, the people there recognized Marxine as someone fighting on their side and she was greeted warmly.

Smolly: Some of the merchants are negotiating with the workers -- they’re breaking ranks to increase wages and provide better conditions.
Vinya: Huh. Cool!

Marxine told Smolly what we’d been working on as far as finding information that would cause the guilds to step away from the Firerubys.

Smolly: The other guildsmen are undercutting Armok and the other Firerubys by coming to the table. I’ve heard of one or two merchants offering concessions to workers who’d been employed by other people.
Elderron: I wonder what Fireruby thinks about this.
Smolly: I don’t know what to expect from Fireruby, either the clan overall or the few doing most of their Guild business.
Vinya: What do you know about the death of the former head of the Gemcutters’ Guild?
Smolly: Well, I know she was a very old hill dwarf. I thought she died of old age. Her clan is still here, but I don’t think she has any immediate relatives in town.
Elderron: Where does the clan live?
Smolly: Not too far from the Firerubys.
Elderron: What was her name?
Smolly: Thodrina Frostgem.

Marxine went to talk to some of the dwarven workers in the bar. They said they were surprised that things were happening in their favor so quickly.

Elderron, to Smolly: Who’s been increasing pay? We’d like to know what changed their minds.
Smolly: There’s a human named Cordun Emmlin, a gnome named Skorada Stickyfingers Orindon, a hill dwarf named Molg Faceteye, and the Frostgems.
Elderron: Thanks!
Smolly: We aims to help.
Marxine: You really have.

We enjoyed the food for a while then Vinya asked one of the workers if Marxine’s friend Erloto had helped to broker the deals between the guildmembers and the workers. The workers said they had the sense that the guard had evidence from the Spearbreakers that he was going to present to the Council.

After dinner, we went back to the Soaring Gull and the night passed without incident.


25 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 56)

We had breakfast and then headed out to the guardhouse to talk to Captain Toris. We immediately noticed that he looked less stressed than he had been.

Captain: Good morning.
Marxine: You look good.
Captain: It’s amazing what happens when you act as though there aren’t powers that be that will stop you from doing the right thing.
Elderron: Do you think you have enough of a case for the jury? Will it convict?
Captain: Interested parties within the station have passed word about the information we have to the guilds.
Elderron: Have you heard about what happened in Torm Brinnom?
Captain: I know he had some problems there.
Elderron: Talk to Hammerhammer.
Vinya: It was thought that Armok was responsible for the deaths of other dwarves. Have there been mysterious deaths among the guilds that the Firerubys are in?
Captain: There haven’t been any unexplained deaths, no. But some interesting and disturbing property crimes.
Marxine: Property crimes?
Captain: Stores burning down in situations where one of the guilds have discouraged a full investigation. We haven’t figured out whether that was from the entire Fireruby clan or just from the upper echelons.
Marxine: Do you know which people have had places burned down? Can we get names?
Captain: I can give you names. The victims have been mostly humans.
Marxine: Elves and dwarves hold longer grudges.
Captain: The Council of Guilds is meeting this afternoon -- this will be on the agenda. The other guilds are not happy.
Marxine: We’ll talk to the store owners who had their shops burned down. If we shore up their resolve maybe they’ll be willing to testify.

He gave us two names: Tara Grastim, a milliner, and Dallatin Turst, a dry goods merchant.

A dry goods merchant seemed like quite an outlier in the Fireruby’s sphere of influence -- gems and jewelry -- so we went there first. We found Turst in Naggedon. His place had been burned down one year before and we followed Captain Toris’ directions. We found a stone building under construction, with masons (mostly human) under the direction of a person who was clearly the master mason. There was someone else there who we assumed was Dallatin Turst.

We talked to Turst about the circumstances leading up to the fire that had destroyed his building. He said that he had provisioned a Fireruby caravan going to Torm Brinnom. Armok Fireruby said he needed a little float on what he would pay, but he would make enough money to pay the full bill when he sold his goods. But when the caravan returned, Turst didn’t get paid, even when he asked for the money he was owed. When the Firerubies came to him to get provisions for another caravan, Turst declined to do so, because he was still waiting to get paid for the previous one. Right after that, his shop was burned down. He felt somewhat lucky that no one was hurt.

Marxine: Captain Toris is reopening the case and reinvestigating it. Without restrictions from the guilds. The Firerubys world is crashing down. You should get the word out to your guild.

He agreed that he would consider it.

We then headed to Facet Square to go to the shop of Skorada “Stickfingers” Orindon, a gnome dealing in flashy and gaudy, but well-made, jewelry.

Skorada: Top o’ the day to you! How can I help you?
Marxine: We want to talk to you about the strike.
Vinya: And why and how you resolved it with your workers so quickly.
Skorada: Oooookaaay….
Marxine: What brought you to the table so soon?
Skorada: It’s one thing to stick with your guild, but when you find out your guild is killing people. That’s another thing. I chose not to stand with them when I found that out.
Vinya: How did you hear about them hiring the Spearbreakers?
Skorada: If I hadn’t been in that fern bar in Blossomside, it still wouldn’t be hard to figure out who hired them.
Elderron: Was it the elder Fireruby or one of the younger ones?
Skorada: Armok is the older one, he was the main force. He arrived at the fern bar with the two youngers, Artok and Kurkul.
Elderron: Would you like to see him removed from your guild and from the council?
Skorada: The number of guilds on the council varies. Right now there are twenty-seven guilds. Of those there are twenty-four votes to exile them. How many more beyond that will depend on how many meet between now and the Council meeting. Or in the case of my guild, the Jewelers’ Guild, he’s already been voted out in a meeting held in private.
Vinya: Has he been informed?
Skorada: That is in progress.
Elama: Why are you called Stickfingers? Do you really have stick fingers?
Skorada: You get your hands caught in the vise one time--ONE TIME--and a nickname sticks.

We left for Blossomside to see what was going on at the Fireruby estate. When we got there, we sauntered past the gate, through it we saw that the shutters on the house were closed and the shades were all down. Four grim looking guards stood at the front gate.

Elama: It’s almost like they’re expecting trouble.

The estate had a wall around it, solid and high which made it impossible to see in except through the gate. We walked around the estate, casually as possible. We could see an upper story and the roof of the mansion inside, but we couldn’t see any activity or movement. Around the back we saw a second entrance, clearly a trade entrance -- less grand and a wider gate. This back entrance was also guarded by four guards. They also looked grim, even by dwarf standards.

Aldalomiel noticed that they didn’t appear to merely be grimly waiting for bad stuff to be coming from outside their compound, but were more broadly unhappy with what was going on in their life.

Through the gate, we saw that there was some activity in the courtyard. There was a cart waiting with some chests in it, but it wasn’t anything like big enough for the whole clan to be moving. Marxine thought Armok was leaving because of the heat. Vinya, considering the grimness of the dwarves on guard duty, wondered if he was being kicked out of the clan.

We decided to head to city hall to see if we could pick up anything about, or at, the council meeting. We then realized that we didn’t really know where that was. Vinya went back to talk to the guards outside the back of the Fireruby estate.

Vinya: Can you please point us in the direction of the Council building? I love architecture and really want to see the building. Do they let visitors in?
Guard, looking puzzled: Really? It’s that way. Turn left after ten blocks.

The council building was really bland with the only windows clerestory windows at the tops of the walls.

Vinya, still playing idiot, architecture-obsessed tourist, went right to the door of the council building and asked the person at the entrance if we could go in and look around.

Vinya: I find government buildings so interesting, don’t you? I’d really love to look into this one. Is that possible?
Guard, looking over his shoulder, then back at Vinya, puzzled: Umm, there’s really not much here. I’d be happy to let you see it, but the Council is going to be meeting in just a few hours and I can’t let you in. If you come back tomorrow…
Vinya: Oh, well, shoot. I don’t know if we’re still going to be in town tomorrow. Can you at least tell me what the building is like inside?
Guard, still just puzzled: It’s a room. With some smaller offices around it. There’s a table. Come back tomorrow if you can.
Vinya: I definitely will! Thanks!

We found a quiet place not too far from the council building and Elderron sent Oda to fly up and look through the clerestory windows of the building. He saw a conference table with 27 chairs around it. There were additional chairs lined up on the side of the room, that we surmised were for witnesses who were going to speak to the council.

We decided to head over to the same bar we’d seen the guildmasters meeting at the day of the Spearbreaker attack, the fancy fern bar, which was just a couple minutes walk away. It was the closest restaurant/bar/eatery to the Fireruby estate, but sadly not very close to it (several minutes away). As we went in that direction we saw a group of well-dressed people of a smattering of races, humans, dwarves, gnomes, elves, a halfling, all moving in the direction of the Fireruby estate. We let them go by then casually sort of went in that direction, staying back and trying to be subtle about it. We noticed other people standing and staring, or openly and obviously following the group.

When the group arrived at the front entrance to the Fireruby estate, we noticed that there were only three guards at the gate now. Most of the party went to the back of the estate, thinking that there would be some action back there -- probably an attempt to flee. Vinya stayed at the front to see what happened with the group.

After a while a female dwarf who looked to be about the same age as Armok came to the gate with the fourth of the guards who had been on duty there. She spoke with the well-dressed group in a quiet but very intense conversation. Vinya heard one of the group say that they had come to tell Armok that he was no longer the head of the Jewelers’ Guild.

Fireruby Matriarch: By telling me, you have told him. We will not contest this.

Hearing that, Vinya circled around the building, without crossing in front of the gate, and joined up with the others in the back. We stayed back there until shortly before the council meeting. As we hung out, Marxine and Vinya saw movement through the back gate inside the estate. We saw movement and one of the guards headed toward the front.

Elama started casting clairvoyance.

Elderron sent Oda toward the front of the house to see what was going on up there. He saw a mature dwarven woman, escorted by four guards, head toward the council building. Oda followed them to the building then watched through the window. Elderron could see the people in the council room and we were hoping that Elama would be able to hear.

Unfortunately, her spell failed and Oda was unable to hear anything that happened. We figured that there must be a spell or something blocking anyone listening in on the proceedings.

Elderron continued to watch. He saw the meeting coming to order, then the dwarf woman walked in without her guards. She insisted on speaking to the council before any of the witnesses, talking intensely and fiercely. She looked scared and uncertain -- maybe of what the council would do, maybe of Armok.

The dwarves among the council and sitting in the witness chairs, were stunned by her words, their jaws literally dropping. After that there was some explanation from the dwarves to the people of other races, then everyone seemed to be stunned and surprised.

She spoke for another minute or two, then there was animated discussion among the witnesses and the council, while the woman left the room. A moment later Elderron saw, through Oda’s eyes, as she left the building with her four guards and turned down the street toward the Fireruby estate.

Vinya moved to the front of the building, while the rest of the party stayed in the back, and hid up between the Fireruby fence/wall and the neighboring estate. A few minutes alter the dwarf woman got to the front entrance. One of the guards opened the gate. When she entered, two of the guards stayed at the front gate and the other two went in with her. Vinya noticed there were six at the front gate now -- four facing in toward the house and two facing out to the street. Like they were trying to stop something from coming out of the house even more than they were trying to stop something from going in.

Elderron had Oda fly around the house looking for windows, but they were all shuttered or shaded. Vinya saw a glimpse through the gate of people taking a chest out to the cart we’d seen before. It looked like it had seating for three people, and there were three chests on it. It had been moved from the back of the house to the front and looked like it would go out the front entrance. Oda could see more clearly, so Elderron noticed that it wasn’t a very high quality cart -- not better or fancier than the ones we’d used between the Knot and Tash.

Vinya ran to the back of the estate to tell the others what was going on in the front. Then she ran back to the front without seeing if they were following her. Oda saw some dwarves leaving the mansion -- it was Armok, Kurkul, and Artok, only in ordinary trader’s clothes -- not the finery they’d worn when we saw them days ago.

Elderron conveyed to Marxine what he was hearing, repeating the unfamiliar dwarvish words as best he could, but Marxine couldn’t understand him. It definitely sounded like there was argument. And Armok giving orders, but no one was following them, then the realization that he was not in charge anymore. There were guards on the doorstep of the house, to prevent the three of them from going back in.

Armok, Artok, and Kurkul climbed onto the cart and the woman led the cart to the front gate. The guards opened the gate and she led the cart out onto the street. Once on the street, she started speaking forcefully in dwarvish.

By that point Marxine and the rest of the party had moved to the front of the alley between the Firerubys and their neighbors. Marxine heard the woman name each of the three men fully, not just their given names and clan names, but the names of their ancestors going back several generations.

Fireruby Matriarch: By the forge on which your souls were made and the hammer that made them, you are cast out of this place. You are no longer of us.

The cart then started moving away from the house, generally in the direction of Silent Up and the main city gate. Armok, Kurkul, and Artok weren’t going meekly -- they seemed more angry than humbled or shamed -- but none of the three were fighters and they went.

Oda flew after the cart until it had left the city and turned down the river in the direction of New Arvai. Then he returned and reported to Elderron what he’d seen.

Maybe an hour and a half after the cart left, Captain Toris and a group of people, which Elderron recognized as the council members, arrived at the Fireruby estate with a large contingent of guards. We stepped out from our secluded alley so we could see better and Captain Toris waved us over to him.

Captain Toris: You know the Firerubys kicked Armok, Kurkul, and Artok out?
Vinya: Yeah. We saw them leave.

The dwarven woman came out of the house and came to the gate.

Fireruby Matriarch: Captain. What is the council’s decision? We have kicked the offenders out of clan and city.. The offer of restitution is sincere and still stands. We have learned from talking to him that our entire clan was not exiled from Torm Brinnom, just those three. They lied to us and betrayed their whole clan. If the council has determined to exile us from the city, we will accept that.
Captain, to Marxine: She said something about a hammer and forge of souls.
Marxine: Yeah. That’s how dwarves are made.
Captain: So if she’s swearing by that it’s a big thing?
Marxine: Yeah.
Captain: I wanted to hear that from someone not from Lonoj.
Marxine: I was positive something bad was going to happen until she said that.
Captain, to the Fireruby Matriarch: We accept the justice you have dispensed within your clan and we accept the restitution you offer. Furthermore, no one in your clan is allowed to lead a guild in this city, nor may their children or grandchildren.
Vinya, to Captain: Does the restitution they offered include the dead workers or does it only go as far as the dead guard?
Captain: The individual guard’s family, and our widows and orphans fund, will all receive money. All of those who work for the clan will receive better pay. There will also be money for the families of the dead picketers. There will be no punishment for the Spearbreakers except that they are not allowed to take jobs within the city.

He took us back to the guard house and paid each of us 250 gold pieces for the help we’d given the city.

Vinya: Is the strike over?
Captain: Artok, Kurkul, and Armok were the main drivers and instigators of the merchants and bosses refusing to back down and refusing to negotiate. With them gone, the workers will once again be able to negotiate for better pay and working conditions.

We headed then to the Silver Loupe to relax and hang out. There was a big shout when we entered. Smolly waved us over to the bar.

Smolly: A bunch of the people chipped in with a bit of money and some of them had things sitting around that they didn’t have a use for and they thought maybe you did.
Vinya: Oh, that’s not…
Marxine: I’ll respect their kindness and we’ll accept their gifts.

Smolly put a chest on the counter (it had 1000 gp in it) and three magical items which, when identified, turned out to be an Elixir of Health, a Rope of Climbing and a magical flail, a Flail of Warning.

Vinya and Marxine each stood around for the whole bar, then the whole party decided that would be from all of us. (So we spent 10 gold out of the chest they gave us.) Some of the people there bought us drinks. And we celebrated and partied until late in the night.

We stumbled our way back to the Soaring Gull to find Mr. Stonebright waiting up for us.

Stonebright: Good news, everyone! I’ve found us a ship to Tuntori. The Riverspark will leave tomorrow afternoon -- the captain is a hill dwarf so I expect no problems on the way.

We got the details on when and where to meet him to board the Riverspark and headed off to bed.

And there we ended.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 18: Traveling the Aralin River


Players:

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)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


26 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 57)

Bright and early the next morning, we planned for how to spend our last few hours in Lonoj over breakfast. The Riverspark would be leaving in the afternoon for Tunturi so we had a little time.

Vinya wanted to visit a magic item shop among other things. We asked at the Soaring Gull, and then at Smolly’s, for a recommendation. Smolly sent us to a shop run by his cousin. Vinya bought a cap of waterbreathing, since we were going to be on a boat for a while.

We walked around Facet Square and did some general shopping -- arrows, warm clothes (since we were heading into the mountains), etc. As we were walking Vinya suddenly remembered that she’d told the guards at City Hall that she’d come back if she had time before we left town.

So she scurried that way, with Elama to keep her company, while the rest of the party continued to stroll around the now-quiet Facet Square.

At City Hall, Vinya went back into her Architecture-Obsessed Tourist act and ascertained that there was, in fact, some sort of spell on the hall that blocked scrying into the council chamber. Which is what we suspected. Apparently it was cast long ago.

After that we all assembled at the Riverspark in the early afternoon to meet Mr. Stonebright. We were introduced to the captain of the Riverspark -- a hill dwarf named Captain Strongaxe. We observed that Mr. Stonebright didn’t have any cargo -- he was not heading to Torm Brinnom with a cargo of goods to sell. He had some personal possessions, but nothing resembling trade goods

Marxine noticed that Captain Strongaxe...had some sort of tense reaction to Mr. Stonebright. It seemed to be entirely on the Captain’s side. Mr. Stonebright appeared to be totally trusting of Captain Strongaxe, but the Captain clearly did not share his regard.

Before we cast off, while Mr. Stonebright was getting settled in his cabin below, Marxine talked to Captain Strongaxe dwarf-to-dwarf. Though a hill dwarf, he had some family who live in Torm Brinnom (as sort of resident aliens). He’d heard of Marxine’s stronghold, Torm Hastraf, near Tash, though he’d never travelled that far. Torm Hastraf is a large stronghold, with 18 clans in it. Torm Brinnom is rather smaller with only 10 clans.

After a bit of conversation, when they were comfortable with one another, Marxine turned the conversation toward our employer.

Marxine: What vibes are you getting off Stonebright?
Captain: I don’t really know him, but the story is he’s supposed to have killed someone in Torm Brinnom and is now persona non grata there. I did not ask him to swear on the forge and hammer but he said that he would swear that he did not kill anyone.
Marxine: I’ll keep that in mind.
Captain: Either he’s bad enough that he’s willing to lie in an oath on the forge and hammer, which would make him very dangerous, or he’s been framed and there’s a bounty on his head unjustly. Which would make him dangerous to be around.
Marxine: We’ll keep that in mind, and keep our eyes open, but we want to stick with this job for now.
Captain: Fair enough…
Marxine: Either he’s very confident that he’s got evidence that will exonerate him. Or he’s very stupid.
Captain: In my experience those go together.

After that we cast off for a 10 to 12 day trip upriver to Tunturi, where the river would become impassable and we’d have to continue our journey on foot.

Once the boat cast off and was sailing, Marxine went below. Vinya, Aldalomiel, and Elama spent most of their time on deck during the whole trip.

The rest of the day and the night passed without any incident other than watching the city slide away behind us and the countryside roll around us as we sailed toward the mountains.


27 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 58) (Day 2 of the 10-12 day journey)

Early the next morning, the party members on deck noticed a small irrigation-type canal that went off to the side of the river -- it was clearly diverting water from the river. About 150’ from the riverbank, water was shooting into the air in a spray like a geyser. There didn’t appear to be any settlements or houses or structures nearby.

Elderron sent Oda over to take a look -- as he watched through Oda’s eyes, Elderron said that there was a pipe at the end of the canal that turned upward to the sky and the water was shooting up out of that.

Elama turned to a nearby crewman: Hey, has that been that way for a while? Do we need to fix that?
Crew: Been that way for a long time.
Elama: How long?
Crew: 100 years or more. Have you seen the floating islands?
Vinya: Yeah.
Crew: There was a guy who had one tethered here and needed water. Then the island floated away and the pipe sheared off.

We decided there was no harm in the geyser -- no one further from the river needed the water from the irrigation canal and the canal wasn’t taking enough water from the river to matter downstream. And the boat wasn’t going to stop anyway.

So we sailed on.

Just after dinner, as people were preparing for bed, Vinya and Elama, still on deck, noticed two roundish humanoid shaped things the size of a house heading toward the river and the ship.

Vinya, to a crew member: What the hell’s that?
Crew: Captain! Hill giants!!

The rest of the party came up on deck as the captain did.

The giants were walking toward the riverbank, making a line so that they’d be near to the boat. Vinya moved to the side of the boat nearest the giants.

Vinya, to the Captain: Are they going to attack?
Captain: Probably.

Vinya held a shot with her bow for one of them to make an aggressive move toward the boat or anyone on it. Elama also moved to that side of the boat and waited to see what they’d do.

Aldalomiel, perhaps having more experience with hill giants, didn’t wait for them to act. She fired two arrows at one of them, hitting with both.

In response, the giants threw rocks at her -- from 200 feet away -- both of them hitting her squarely with large rocks that knocked her out almost immediately and punched holes in the deck of the ship.

Vinya took her shot against one of them and hit, but barely noticed that in her concern for Aldalomiel and her stress about the damage to the ship. The hull wasn’t breached at all, just the top deck, and the ship continued to sail -- moving closer to the giants.

Marxine encouraged the sailors to move the boat to the other side of the river, so we’d be further away from them. Vinya took two shots with her bow, against the same one she and Aldalomiel had already hit, hitting with both of them. Elama cast a powerful healing word on Aldalomiel, who stood up and then started to dodge. Elderron took a shot with his longbow, hitting once on the same one.

After Elderron’s attack, the giants stopped moving and we could hear some guttural conversation between them. The one we’d been shooting at made an angry gesture at the arrows sticking out of his body and then stomped away over a hill. The other one looked at the boat, then at his disappearing friend, then back at the boat. Then he turned and trudged after the other one.

Vinya: Does that happen often?
Crew: Not often. We should definitely stay alert. They may be back.

We helped the crew keep watch, with some of us hanging out on deck, for the rest of the night. But it passed without another visit from the hill giants, or any other incident.


28 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 59) (Day 3 of the 10-12 day journey)

In the morning, after breakfast, we heard a shout from a watchman in the bow.

Crew: Slicks!! Slicks on the water!!

We were all looking around in some confusion, except Vinya who’d experienced these before when sailing along this river to get from the monastery in the mountains she’d started her monk training in to New Arvai and the Chiaroscuro Temple where she’d finished it.

A moment after the crewmember’s call we suddenly were seeing around us a snow-covered forest with a majestic, huge tree that had a rainbow bridging between it and the sky.

Before we could really adjust to that, pretty as it was, we were back, sailing along the river with forests passing by on the riverbanks.

Vinya: Can we go back to that?

Then we were back in the snowfield and there was a beautiful crystal palace visible, with the huge tree distant in the background.

Aldalomiel recognized it as matching the descriptions of Ygdrasil, one of the outer planes. (A chaotic, chaotic good plane)

Captain Strongarm: Sometimes on the river there are patches--slicks--that are something like windows to another plane. They can be really bad. This one was nice. No way to tell.

After that we enjoyed the balmy (especially for mid-winter) weather and the rest of the day passed without incident.

At bedtime, we saw a very ancient and very ruined castle on a bluff that overlooked the river. Elderron sent Oda to investigate and saw that the castle was surrounded, and in places encroached on, by wild forest. It was clearly abandoned.

Vinya: We need to go on a history tour, y’all. Visit all these great ancient places we’ve seen. Maybe we could fix up part of that castle and live there.

We sailed on into the night, which passed without incident.


29 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 60) (Day 4 of the 10-12 day journey)

The next morning dawned grey and crappy and rainy and everyone was grateful that the Riverspark had the equipment and supplies necessary to have done rough patches to the deck where the hill giant boulders had broken through.

Elama and Vinya stayed on deck, despite the rain, but everyone else was inside. In the morning, they noticed some structures on the sides of the rivers -- arches on either side of the riverbank, opposite each other, and massive stone stubs in the middle of the river. Like there was once a bridge here.

Vinya looked for where a road might have gone from the side of the river, if this were, in fact, a bridge, and saw some hints of a road -- an area where the trees were slightly shorter and maybe thinner, that went inland and along the river, possibly toward the castle we’d seen .

Vinya marked her map of the continent with the bridge, the road, and the castle we saw the day before.

The ship sailed on.

Toward bedtime, the river started getting a lot more rough, like we were approaching rapids. Vinya remembered these, and the canals that bypassed them, from her previous trip on this river. Captain Strongaxe ordered the Riverspark to the far bank and weighed anchor.

Captain: For what I need to do here, I need light.

Then we all went on with our evening.


30 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 61) (Day 5 of the 10-12 day journey)

The next morning, we could see why the captain had pulled to the side of the river and anchored for the night -- there was a canal with a lock that went around a cataract on the river. Getting the Riverspray into the lock took a bit of maneuvering. Going through the lock and the canal took about an hour -- there were some people there with a team of oxen to help move the lock gates and to help move the ship into the lock and out into the main canal.

Vinya and Elama, at least, watched with interest.

Around toward bedtime, we passed the remains of another ruined bridge, stubs of the supports in the river bed and arches reaching out from the shore. Vinya tried to look for a road and saw the traces of one through the forest. It looked like it could also lead to the castle we’d seen.

After that it was bedtime and the rest of the night passed without incident.


1 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 62) (Day 6 of the 10-12 day journey)

It was crappy and rainy again, so Vinya set up a tent-like structure on deck and she and Aldalomiel hung out there for the day watching the shore go by and the rain. Elama mostly basked out in the rain, letting it soak her hair and clothes.

Vinya: Well, at least Lamie’s happy.

Just at sunset, the captain pulled to the side of the river again.


2 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 63) (Day 7 of the 10-12 day journey)

The next morning, the Riverspark went through another canal with a couple of locks around a cataract in the river. The canal was on the same side of the river as the previous one. Once again there were people and oxen who clearly worked at the canal assisting travelers through.

Despite our travels upstream and closer to the mountains, the weather was getting even warmer. It was still raining, hard enough that even Elama went below, leaving Vinya and Aldalomiel in the tent on deck.

Just after dinner, there was a cry from the lookout.

Crew: Slicks!!

Moments later all around, there were gears turning, fast and slow, intricate connections between the large and the small gears as far back as we could see. Aldalomiel and Vinya, out on the deck, were seeing the gears but feeling the rain on their faces.

Then we were back on the river.

We went through several patches of what Elderron recognized as Mechanus, the plane of pure law. During one of the passages, Vinya reached out and tried to grab one of the gears, but only managed to grab some rain.

After we got through the slicks, the night passed without incident.


3 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 64) (Day 8 of the 10-12 day journey)

The day dawned cooler and clearer and it wasn’t raining, finally. Elama came back and spent the day on deck again, along with Vinya and Aldalomiel. Elderron was on deck and enjoying the very nice day. Only Marxine was down in her cabin.

Right after we got out on deck, Vinya saw a winged reptilian creature flying toward the ship.

Vinya pointed it out to the others.

Elama: Is that what it looks like?
Elderron: It looks like a winged, reptilian, flying creature. But it only has two legs. I don’t have a good feeling about this.

It was definitely coming toward the ship with something that looked like intent, though it was about 320’ away when we noticed it.

We alerted the crew and the captain. Captain Strongaxe sent the deck crew below while he stayed on the deck to man the helm.

It was flying very fast toward the Riverspark, coming in hot. Aldalomiel readied a sling bolt for when it came within range. Vinya readied a radiant sun bolt for when it came in range (apparently she rethought that because she fired an arrow later).

Elderron prepared a slow spell to hit it with if it came within range. Marxine used the Rope of Climbing to climb up the mast -- she got about half-way up before it started to come in range of the various held actions.

It was coming in fast when Elderron’s slow spell caught it -- it actually slowed down so suddenly that it looked confused.

Elama cast a guiding bolt that did it a great deal of radiant damage and left it marked for Aldalomiel’s sling. Aldalomiel hit it twice, one a critical hit that did it a huge amount of damage. Vinya, having thought better of the sun bolt, shot it twice with her bow.

Then Elderron cast a magic missile spell on it -- peppering it with four darts. Marxine, at the top of the mast, was able to throw one of her hand axes at it and dropped it!

It landed in the river just in front of the boat with a great splash.

The sailors pulled the corpse in, which allowed Vinya to recover her arrows and Marxine to recover her hand axe.

The crew said that they were going to sell the wyvern parts, including the venom from the sting -- we only spent a second deciding how we felt about the moral ambiguity of selling the poison before we decided we were fine with that. It’s a natural product and not an inherently evil one.

The rest of the day passed without further incident, except the sailors harvesting valuable parts off the wyvern corpse.


4 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 65) (Day 9 of the 10-12 day journey)

The Captain told us over breakfast that we were making great time up the river and that he expected we’d get to Tuntori late in the afternoon the next day. Unless something weird happened.

We talked a little amongst ourselves and realized that throughout the trip Captain Strongaxe had been interacting with Mr. Stonebright as little as possible, though Stonebright wasn’t avoiding him at all.

In the mid-morning, Elama, Aldalomiel, and Vinya were all out on deck watching the river flow past us. They all saw a ripple in the water that turned into a still space in the current. Then a face that looked up at them and blinked.

Vinya: There’s a person down there! We need to rescue them.
Crew: That face is seen very rarely. It never moves or does any harm.

Captain Strongaxe said that he’d seen it once in the time he’d been on the river.

The rest of the day passed without anything happening.


5 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 66) (Day 10 of the 10-12 day journey)

In the evening, after a quiet day of traveling, the ship pulled into Tuntori, a small town.

Before we debarked, Vinya recommended that we stay at the inn she and Hragdor, her first teacher among the monks, had stayed at on their way down the mountains and down the rivers to New Arvai, a place called Allerd’s.

Stonebright accepted the recommendation of Allerd’s.

He paid the Captain and went to collect his few bags of personal belongings. When he was dealing with his things, the Captain took the party aside and gave us 500gp as our share of the sale of the wyvern parts. We thanked him, then most of the party went to help Mr. Stonebright as he got off the ship.

Captain Strongaxe pulled Marxine aside and said that we deserved more than he’d been able to give us. Since he couldn’t afford to give us more gold, he offered her something else.

Strongaxe: I can write you a letter of recommendation to my clan living in Torm Brinnom. You’ll have a place to go if things go badly for your employer up there.
Marxine: Thanks! That will be a big help.

We then all left with Mr. Stonebright and went to Allerd’s inn. Allerd was a human male in his mid-thirties who walked with a pronounced limp, but otherwise looked physically quite capable.

Vinya got the sense he recognized her from her trip through town almost two years ago. They talked a bit about what had been going on in the mountains since Vinya left.

Mr. Stonebright said that in the morning, he was going to rent a wagon and some horses, if one of us knew how to drive one. We all turned to look at Marxine.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 19: Talking and Walking

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)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


6 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 67)

The next morning, Vinya went to a shop and bought some arrows first thing and then we got into the wagon that Mr. Stonebright had rented and headed out on the road toward Torm Brinnom.

The road was quiet and not well travelled (this is still winter after all and we’re heading into the mountains). The day passed without incident until we’d started looking for a place to make camp.

We found a place with a tumbledown well about a hundred yards away from the road. We went to check it out while Stonebright stayed with the cart near the road and started making camp. There was a piece of wood board leaning against the wall of the well. The board, weathered and old looking had worn painted letters that read “True answers. 1 gold piece.”

Vinya shrugged and threw a gold piece in the well.

Vinya, quietly to the well: Is Mr. Stonebright a murderer?

Voice, whispering only to her: He is a heartbreaker. Not a murderer.

Vinya quietly told the others what it had said.

She decided to test the well, since we didn’t have any idea if that was actually a true answer. So she threw in a gold piece and asked where she’d started her training as a monk. The gold piece flew back out of the well and hit her in the chest.

Voice: You know the answer to that.
Vinya: I was checking if you do.
Elderron, throwing in a gold piece: I’ll ask that. Where did Vinya first study?
Voice: If she hasn’t told you that she studied at the House of Sky and Stone you should ask her why.

When Elderron relayed the response, Vinya confirmed that the answer was correct.

Elama and Vinya nudged Aldalomiel from opposite sides, urging her toward the well.

Vinya: Ask about where your girlfriend is.
Aldalomiel, throwing in a gold piece: Where is Lothiriel?
Voice: Castle Dante in the Feywild.

Vinya threw in another coin.

Vinya: How is it that you do this?

The coin shot back out of the well, but didn’t hit her.

We went back to Mr. Stonebright and made camp for the night. The night was quiet and relaxed.


7 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 68)

The next morning, before breaking camp, Vinya and Elama went back to the well. The sign had fallen over face down. Vinya tried to stand it up as it had been again. It tilted slowly then fell face down again.

Elama, throwing in a gold coin: Thanks for the info.

The coin landed with a thunk. Vinya looked in the well -- it was dry and she could see a glint, as from a single gold piece, at the bottom of the well.

They went back to camp and helped load the carts and make ready to head out.

Vinya, to Mr. Stonebright: Have you heard of this well that answers questions?
Stonebright: No, but I was in a hurry when I came through here the first time. I didn’t pay attention to much off the road.

Elama: It doesn’t seem to last long.
Marxine: We as a group got three questions -- ignoring when it got cheeky with Vinya’s test question.

We headed out and everything was quiet until lunchtime.

Around then, Aldalomiel noticed some large figures in the woods ahead of us and slightly to the side of the road. They weren’t walking or going in any direction -- milling around and then being still.

We pulled the cart off the road and found Mr. Stonebright a safe space away from the cart and away from where we thought any battle would be. Aldalomiel cast pass without trace and we snuck up toward them, hoping to ambush whatever it was.

We saw four ogres, sitting around a dead and mostly dismembered deer. They clearly hadn’t noticed us and, aside from being ogres, there was nothing that was directly harmful about them.

Elama stepped forward into the clearing.

Elama: Hey, guys!! What’s up?!

The ogres turned to look at her, jaws dropping open.

Elama: I didn’t know you were eating. We’re just passing by.
Ogre: What you want?
Elama: We just wanted to know if we could go by. Do you need anything?
Ogre: We good. We killed deer.
Elama: Excellent. We’ll just go on by then.

She came back to us and said that they were going to take a moment to put that together. We quickly got the cart and Mr. Stonebright and rode by where the ogres were sitting a hundred or so yards from the road, moving by without stopping.

Elama waved as we rode past.

The ogres nodded, one waved a little, and they went back to eating their deer. A good minute later, when we were well down the road, they burst out onto the road with their clubs in hand roaring in our direction. When they saw how far away we’d gotten, they looked confused, then shuffled back into the woods.

The rest of the day passed without and we made camp in a nice spot. The night was quiet and pleasant, if cold.


8 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 69)

We headed out in the morning very early and passed into a deep valley where the sunlight had not yet gotten to the bottom of the valley. Riding our cart in the pre-dawn gloom in this valley we saw a waterfall. It took a moment to notice something odd -- the water was flowing UP.

Elama: Well, that’s something you don’t see every day…
Vinya: This looks like wizard stuff. Elderron?

Elderron recognized it as a standing magical effect. Vinya didn’t remember seeing it when she travelled this way out of the mountains. About the time that Vinya was wondering why she hadn’t seen it, the sunlight finally reached down into the bottom of the valley.

When the light touched the waterfall, it began to flow normally.

Vinya: It would be so interesting to put something that floats, like a cork, into this river and see if it just goes back and forth or if the water eventually makes progress out of this field.

We continued on our way. A few hours later we noticed a shadow pass over us and looked up to see a dragon-shaped shadow. It waggled its wings at us as it banked around, clearly turning to come back toward us.

We got Mr. Stonebright out of the cart and about 100 feet into the forest, in a safe place under a tree with low-hanging branches.

After a minute, we heard something coming along the trail.

Presumably the dragon: Hello, the wagon!
Elama: Hi!
Dragon: What are four elves and two dwarves doing here this time of year?
Elama: We’re going to Torm Brinnom. Do you live around here?
Dragon: Yeah. Ish.
Elama: Is it okay if we pass?
Dragon: Yeah. I like the dwarves. And not in an eating them way.
Elama: We can’t see you.
Dragon: Yeah. I saw you hunkering down and didn’t want to alarm you any more than necessary.
Elama: Yeah. We saw you flying overhead.
Dragon: I was backlit.

Elama crept forward and saw a young silver dragon curled up in a cat-like pose.

Elama: You’re not as big as I thought you were.
Dragon: Everyone thinks we’re all as big as my grandma. My name is Tultorla.
Vinya, who crept up herself: How long have you been living around here?
Tultorla: Just a couple of decades. My grandma said this was a place I could live, and she’d definitely know.
Vinya: Have you been running into any problems?
Tultorla: There’s a red dragon south of here. He’s much bigger and more dangerous than I am. I stay clear of him.
Vinya: Where’s your grandmother?
Tultorla: Up in the Icerasps. I’m here just enjoying the cold and the mountains.
Vinya: It’s beautiful up near the House of Sky and Stone.
Tultorla: Yes.
Aldalomiel: Do you know anything about a well a couple of days from here that tells the truth?
Elama: It answers questions for a gold piece.
Tultorla: Oh, that. I believe that is something one of the Fey is doing out of a sense of whimsy. Maybe the Keeper of Secrets.
Vinya: If you need us or if there’s something we can do to help you, please let us know.
Tultorla: I will, thank you. I’m going to go over that way to take off -- because I don’t want to upset your horses.

She then went down the trail away from us until she was almost around a curve in the road then she took off with a leap and a huge flap of her wings.

We gathered up the cart and Mr. Stonebright, and continued on our way.

The rest of the day passed without incident. As we rode along, we talked to Mr. Stonebright about how long this trip was going to be and learned that it’s about a month’s travel from Tuntorla to Torm Brinnom, which is about what Vinya remembered. Though since she and Hragdor, her first teacher, had been going downhill it might have been a bit faster for them.


9 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 70)

We got on our way in the mid-morning. The road was getting steeper and colder as we went, and we were glad that we’d gotten warm, winter clothes for the trip.

In the mid-morning, we saw a clearing a couple hundred feet off the road with a circle of 9 stumps all sawn off at the same height. The circle was close to perfect and the height was exactly the same for all of them. We estimated that they’d been cut off a decade or so ago.

Vinya went into the circle and got a feeling like when a thunderstorm is looming and smelled ozone. She looked carefully at the stumps and saw writing on them in Sylvan. It read:

Not all roads are laid on the ground
What you leave behind will take you home

Vinya left her shawm in the middle of the circle and stepped out of it. A single note was played on the shawm then it fell silent on the ground. She went in and picked it back up.

Elama took her book, with pages that won’t take a mark, and put it down in the circle. It was picked up by invisible hands and the pages were flipped through.

Elama went and collected her book.

Elama: Vinya, cast see invisibility from the rod of alertness.
Vinya: Good idea!

She did so. She saw the stumps all connected by invisible lines on the ground, both in the circle around and with lines across the inside of the circle connecting each stump to each other stump. She also noticed something on top of every stump -- a circle. None of this was raised -- it was like the lines and circles were painted with invisible paint.

Marxine took out the card with her image on it. The last time we saw it, there was an image of her on the causeway in Pelsoreen. This time it showed her in a circle of stumps, holding a card, which had an image on it of Marxine in a circle of stumps, holding a card ....

Marxine: Huh.

She put the card into the circle. Nothing happened so she retrieved it.

Vinya took the letter she’d received that invited her to go to Tashimeet at the Knot for the Feast of Stars and set it down in the circle, staying next to it. She could see letters forming on the paper, but nothing that wrote them. The writing said:

P.S. Your path still lies ahead of you.
P.P.S. It’s good the dwarf joined you.

Vinya told the others about this message and we agreed that it was interesting. We also agreed it was good Marxine joined us. But we weren’t sure what to make of it.

Vinya, to the circle: Is there something we’re missing or that we should do here?

There was no response. So we got back on the cart and continued on our way.

During the afternoon, we saw a huge wall across the valley, sized to keep out giants. It was completely collapsed in parts and partly worn down in others. It looked ancient. We continued on our way, riding along as the road passed through one of the collapsed parts of the wall.

The rest of the day passed quietly and it was a restful night.


10 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 71)

The next morning dawned a bit warmer than it had been, a nice respite from winter in the mountains. As we headed out from our camp, we went into a glacial gorge -- a valley with a wide bottom and steep sides. The glacier had long retreated, but we saw that the walls of the valley sparkled so we went to investigate. There were quartz crystals sticking out from the walls of the valley, rounded and smoothed by the action of the glacier.

Elderron, to Mr. Stonebright: Are these of value?
Mr. Stonebright: It is not gem quality, but people in the stronghold will crush them into powder and use them on grinders and polishing cloths. They will pay for them.

Elderron, Elama, and Vinya each grabbed a couple of the stones. Vinya grabbed a couple of hand sized ones to sell and another one that fit neatly into her palm, to keep.

While we rode along, we talked with Mr. Stonebright about why he needed to get back to Torm Brinnom so urgently that he was making this trip in the winter. Since he clearly had no cargo or goods.

He told us that his clan has been feuding with another since he left. The other clan, the Turnstones, were demanding that he, Mr. Stonebright, stand trial for the murder of one of their sons in order for there to be peace. And the leaders of Torm Brinnom just wanted peace between the clans.

Mr. Stonebright was returning to stand trial.

Vinya: Do you have any evidence or anything that will prove your innocence?
Stonebright: Only, that I didn’t do it. I admit that I jilted my bethrothed, but I did not kill her brother.
Vinya: Did he confront you after you jilted her?
Stonebright: He was there. I left. They say I threw him off the wall of the stronghold.

He looked at himself, thin and clearly not nearly as strong as is typical for a dwarf.

Stonebright: I’ve never had the physique for that.

He looked at the four elves in the party for a moment.

Stonebright: It’s so easy for you elves to deal with these things. We dwarves have arranged marriages -- the goal is to have children and rebuild the clans and the strongholds. It’s very important. My clan arranged for me to marry one of the daughters of the Turnstone clan, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. They would have done better to have asked me to marry her brother. That I could have done. After I left, he was found at the base of the wall outside the stronghold.
Vinya: So someone from his own clan could have done it, if they found out that he was not interested in marrying a woman to build up the clan?
Stonebright: Perhaps. I do not know.
Vinya: Or perhaps he could have thrown himself off.
Stonebright, looking more sad: Perhaps.
Vinya: When you ask us for help, you get the full service package. At least from me. I will help you however I can. If you didn’t kill him, you shouldn’t be punished.
Stonebright: Thank you.

The day passed while we had this conversation. We made camp and passed a pleasant and uneventful night and evening.


11 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 72)

The next day we had an uneventful day of travel until it was time to find a place to make camp for the night. We found a clearing where all the grass had been turned to stone. We made camp, with one of Elderron’s tiny huts. The night passed without incident.


12 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 73)

As we were wheeling the cart to the road the next morning, we were surprised by a 20’ tall grey humanoid stepping out onto the road in front of us.

Elama: Hi!! Why do you block the road?
Giant: <<said something in Giant>>

Elama cast Tongues then asked the Giant to repeat himself.

Giant: What are you doing here this time of year?
Elama: We’re on the way to Torm Brinnom. Just passing through.

The giant looked at the party, focusing on Mr. Stonebright.

Giant, to Elama: Ask him if he knows the way.
Elama, to Stonebright: He wants to know if you know the way.
Stonebright: Tell him I know the ways both long and short.
Elama, to Giant: He says he knows the way. The shortcuts too.
Giant: We would not have you where we live come the Festival of Rain.
Elama, to us: He wants us not to be in his territory on the Festival.
Giant: Take the tunnel that is longer than it seems. He knows it.
Elama, to us: He said something about a tunnel that is longer than it seems.
Stonebright: I know it. Tell him we’ll be there just before the Festival.
Elama, to giant: He knows. We’ll be there in time.
Giant: Good.

The giant then slid away into the woods and the rocky crags of the mountains.

We continued on our way and got to a valley with petroglyphs carved into the patina on the rock walls of the valley. Giant sized petroglyphs.

We stopped for lunch and while we were resting, Vinya started drawing the petroglyphs. Copying them into her sketchbook.

Elama and Marxine recognized these and knew that they had deep religious significance, possibly magical significance as well, and copying them might actually cast a spell.

Elama, to Vinya: Hey, maybe you shouldn’t do that.
Elderron: Maybe draw them out of order. Or mess them up a bit.

Vinya did that, but drew the most interesting of the figures. She noticed as she did so that some of them looked very old, but as though they were still being maintained. Some of them looked very new. And they covered all the span of time between.

The rest of the day and the night passed.


13 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 74)

The day was notably warmer still than it had been in previous days. It was rainy and slushy and generally crappy out. The grizzly grey, rainy day passed into a grizzly grey evening and we made camp.

The night passed without incident.


14 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 75)

The morning was quite a lot colder, by at least 20 degrees, but at least it wasn’t raining. Vinya dried off the horses and we broke camp.

As the day passed, it just got colder and colder. Later in the day it did snow.

The cold night passed. With us in a climate-controlled tiny hut.


15 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 76)

In the morning, as we were breaking camp, a single humanoid figure walked toward us on the road from the direction we were heading in. He was dressed elegantly and expensively, though his clothes didn’t appear to be especially warm. His clothes were blue and black and white and his skin was pale blueish-grey.

He stopped well away from the party -- at a non-threatening distance.

Him: Hello, travelers!
Elama: Greetings! Do you come from Torm Brinnom?
Him: Alas, I do not.
Elama: I didn’t think anything else was up here.
Him: I have been sent by my mistress to walk on this road. There are often people who overestimate their abilities or underestimate winter in the mountains. There are deals to be made.
Elama: What kinds of deals?
Him: The deals are not to my benefit, but to my lady’s and to the people who make them. If they keep them.
Vinya: Why does everyone keep being surprised that we’re traveling this road?
Him: There’s very little travel in the winter. But there are always some people who will try.
Vinya: Do you make it colder around you?
Him: No.
Elama: I think we’ll be fine.
Him: Very well.

He left, continuing down the mountain.

We broke camp and started out. As we did so, Elderron thought about it for a bit then decided that he might have been an agent of the Tundra Queen. Vinya remembered the lore in her village (on the other side of these same mountains) warning people not to make deals with blue-skinned strangers, but she didn’t know about the Tundra Queen. Elderron told us that the Tundra Queen is a Fey noble mostly active quite a ways north of Embernook. This seemed to him to be very far south for her.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 20: Helping A Friend

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)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


15 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 76) (immediately after)

As we walked along, we talked about maybe trying to meet up with the Walking Man, Falaggo, again and possibly see about getting a short-cut to Torm Brinnom. The timing was right, the full moon would be the next night, but unfortunately we hadn’t seen a single side road the whole way.

So we weren’t going to be able to be at a crossroads on the full moon.

We kept our eyes open though, and the day passed without incident.

We made camp and the night passed without incident as well.


16 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 77)

We headed out in the morning. After a few hours of travel, as we went up toward a mountain pass, we saw ahead of us, crossing the road, a large wagon with a yoke that looked as though it was over the shoulders of a pair of oxen (as far as being at the right height) but there were no animals in the yoke. There were five human-sized figures with black-feathered wings walking around the cart, one where the heads of the oxen would be and the others around the wagon itself. They were traveling off-road and heading generally northward.

On the cart there was something large that was bundled up with tarps and tied down with ropes. It was shifting and stirring slightly. Elderron spotted a silvery-blueish flash as the shape under the tarps shifted around.

Vinya, when Elderron said that: They haven’t caught our dragon friend, have they?
Elderron: We need to talk to them.
Elama: Hello!! Travellers!!!

They turned toward us. We could see that their faces were gaunt to the point of skeletal. One of them straightened and stepped toward us.

Winged humanoid: Good noontide, travelers.
Elama: Where are you going? We are on the way to Torm Brinnom.
Winged humanoid: We are on our way to the north. We are taking this :):gestures to the large wrapped shape on the wagon::) to our lady.
Elderron: Who is your lady?
Winged humanoid: We serve Vortana Verdi. We are returning this to her.

Elderron recognized this as the name of a Fey Noble, and whispered this to us.

Elderron: What are you transporting? It must be of great importance.
Winged humanoid: She has not told us why she wants it. We believe she is endeavoring to make a point.

Most of the party was trying to see what was under the tarp during this conversation. Marxine, on the other hand, was checking them out to see how they were armed and what their fighting capability was. She didn’t see any weapons, but they did have long claws and obviously sharp teeth.

Vinya, having not seen anything but with some strong suspicions: We hope you have safe travels. We’ve been meeting some very interesting people in these mountains - a blue skinned guy who wanted to make a deal, a stone giant, and a really nice Silver Dragon named TULTORLA WHO WE SAID WE WOULD BE HAPPY TO HELP.

She was shouting the last part loud enough to be heard by whatever was under the tarp. As she shouted those last words, the figure under the tarp stirred feebly. At the same moment, the winged figures leapt into the air.

Vinya: And we’re off…

Mr. Stonebright slid off the cart on the side away from the attackers and hid underneath it, as we’d been teaching him.

Aldalomiel took two shots with her longbow, hitting the one we’d been talking to twice despite the great distance (almost 200 feet) to the things. Vinya shot the same one with her shortbow, and got one hit, then moved forward 35 feet.

One of them moved and dashed and flew right into Vinya’s face, but wasn’t able to attack her after moving so far. The others moved up to where they were 100 feet away, spread out into two groups of two on either side of us. Then they pulled feathers out of their wings and threw them at Vinya. Fortunately all of them missed, though one was close.

Marxine moved up to the one on the ground and attacked it, getting one good solid hit. Elama moved up near Vinya and cast call lightning. She hit the wounded one with a lightning bolt. Elderron cast a fireball that got two that had not been hurt at all -- they weren’t killed, but large chunks of them almost sublimated, vaporizing away.

Aldalomiel again got two hits with her arrows.

Vinya suffered from ill-effects because of being so close to one of them, but she was still able to hit the one on the ground in front of her with her quarter-staff twice and then with her unarmed strike.

That one then turned around and bit her, then clawed at her with razor-sharp talons. The damage from the actual claws and teeth wasn’t so bad, but there was a lot of necrosis and withering that went along with it and Vinya was immediately dropped.

Marxine was hit by one of the feather-darts thrown by the ones in the air and found herself becoming exhausted. Despite that she attacked the one that had taken Vinya out, hitting it once. She got a second wind, but didn’t get any additional hits.

Elama healed Vinya and then dropped the one that Aldalomiel and Vinya had initially hit (one of the ones in the air) with lightning from the Call Lightning. Elderron followed that up with a lightning bolt, though he changed the damage to fire damage because Loremasters are awesome that way. Unfortunately he was only able to hit one that was previously uninjured, but it took lots of damage from the fire. Aldalomiel took a couple of shots at the most injured one, but it did not drop.

Vinya stood up, then hit the one that had dropped her twice with her quarterstaff. Then she did some patient defense, in hopes of not dropping again.

One of the ones in the air broke away from the others and landed in front of Elderron, attacking with claws and teeth, and the other two threw feathers at him. Elderron was able to use his shield spell to keep the attacks from hitting him. The one on the ground attacked Marxine and missed.

Marxine hit the one that she and Vinya were on twice, doing a lot of damage. Elama cast a spiritual weapon on the one that was attacking Elderron, then she called lightning on the most hurt of them -- which was left very wobbly shading to barely not dead. Elderron used misty step to move 30 feet away from the one one the ground then he firebolted it for 10 points of damage. There was a terrible shriek from it, but it didn’t die. Aldalomiel put her hunters mark on the one on Marxine and Vinya and dropped it with a well-placed arrow. Then she turned and fired at the one Elderron had just shot with his firebolt and dropped it too.

Vinya, seeing that she had no immediate opponent and figuring that the others had things in hand, ran as fast as she possibly could toward the wagon, getting well more than half the way there.

The two creatures in the air threw feathers at Elderron, hitting him for quite a lot of damage and a level of exhaustion.

In return, Marxine threw her handaxes at the most damaged of those two, dropping it with her first axe. It fell out of the air in a spiral. When it hit the ground it shattered into a cloud of sleet and ice. She threw her second axe at the other one in the air but missed. Elama hit the last remaining one with a lightning bolt from her spell, but it didn’t drop. Elderron followed that up with a magic missile spell, altered to do fire damage, that it didn’t like at all, but it didn’t drop. Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark and shot at it twice, finally dropping it.

Vinya got to the cart and pulled the tarps and bindings off of Tultorla. She was bedraggled and exhausted near to death. Vinya removed the ropes that were holding her down.

Tultorla: The Tundra Queen sent them. She has a hate on for my grandmother for some reason.

The others came close, after helping Mr. Stonebright out from under our wagon.

Elama stayed with Tultorla while Vinya went to check out the oxen. She offered a treat (or as close as she could come, which was crushed hardtack) to one of them, holding it on her hand in about the location where an ox’s head would be, but there was no reaction. Elderron came over and after a bit of observation realized that the oxen were something like the effect of a Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound spell, but created by the yoke. They have no independent action, but will follow someone who leads them.

The yoke and the cart were both of obviously fey design and decoration.

We took a short rest while we discussed how to proceed.

We decided that we’d take the fey cart with the magical yoke with us and Tultorla could just ride on it and stay with us until she was feeling better. We used the tarps to disguise the cart a bit, though we realized with a bit of dismay that it wouldn’t stop someone who knew the cart from scrying on us.

After our short rest we continued on our way along the road, and the day passed without incident. We made camp that night, but without a tiny hut, since Tultorla wouldn’t be able to stay in it with us.

The night passed without incident.


17 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 78)

The next morning, before we left, Elderron examined the fey cart and the yoke. It appeared that the yoke was activated by connecting it to a hitch. We decided that, despite our concerns about scrying, we’d continue with the fey cart and the phantom oxen at least until we got to Torm Brinnom.

As we travelled, we noticed that Tultorla was perking up some, though she still didn’t feel great.

The day passed without incident. Despite not having a tiny hut again, the night did as well.


18 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 79)

In the morning, as we were waking up, Tultorla informed us calmly that there were stone giants around, just shadowing us.

Vinya: I wonder why? We’re doing what they want and continuing on our way out of their territory.
Tultorla: Some dragons and some giants still have bad feelings toward one another even these thousands of years after the war.

We continued to break camp. Just as we were getting about to head out, Elama used thaumaturgy to make her voice very loud.

Elama: Good morning, Mr. Giant!

There was no response and we headed out onto the road. Between the dragon we were traveling with and the giant or giants shadowing us, the day was eerily still and quiet.

We made camp and the night also passed completely without incident.


19 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 80)

The next morning, as we broke camp, we talked about the fact that we had 10 days to get out of the giants’ territory. Tultorla, who was feeling still better, flew and looked around as eyes in the sky getting an aerial view of the surrounding area.

She landed back on the cart and told us that she’d spotted a shorter route to a tunnel, but it might not be the same one Mr. Stonebright was planning on using.

Vinya, to Mr. Stonebright: Would that be okay with you?
Stonebright, after consulting his map: Yes. I can work with that.

Tultorla’s route involved going off-road. We checked to make sure that both of the carts were equipped with sled-runners if we needed them. Both were, so we felt good about going this new way.

We headed off in that direction and had no problems with the wagons off road. Tultorla occasionally flew up for a moment or two to help us scout out the best routes. She was also feeling enough better that she walked with us, rather than riding in the cart, to make it easier for traveling off road.

The day and the night passed quietly.


20 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 81)

When we woke and made breakfast the next morning, a couple of stone giants came to the edge of our campsite.

They said something and none of us could understand. So Elama cast tongues, then spoke to them, inviting them to repeat what they’d said.

Stone Giant: Are you lost?
Elama: We are heading toward a shorter route to get out of your territory sooner.

Mr. Stonebright offered to show them a map, but they clearly didn’t understand the concept of maps.

Giant: So long as That One :):gesturing at Tultorla::) is with you, we are concerned.
Elama: She’s the one who told us about this shortcut.
Giant: We do not trust That One or those who befriend it.
Elama: She’s cool. You’re cool. Why can’t everyone get along? What do you fear is going to happen?
Giant: We are not happy about it walking on top of our mountains.
Elama: Yeah, but that was a long time ago.
Elderron: We understand the old scars.
Giant: We hope you are not being led wrong.

We told him where Tultorla was taking us. He did know the way and he agreed that it would get us to Torm Brinnom, if Mr. Stonebright can open the way. He said that he could.

We headed out on our way, with Tultorla walking along with us. She was feeling much better.

Tultorla: My grandmother said that adventurers were the best investment she could make.
Elama: You’re going to stay with us for the rest of the trip right? I like talking with you.
Tultorla: I’ll stay with you until the tunnel to Torm Brinnom. I could be less conspicuous if I were older.
Elama: How?
Tultorla: If I were older I could look like a humanoid.
Elama: Why would you?! You look awesome!
Tultorla: It’s easier to spend time with humans and other humanoids in their form. There’s less gushing over how awesome we are.

We continued to proceed. After a while, we noticed that we weren’t being shadowed by the Stone Giants anymore.

Despite their absence, the day and the night passed.


21 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 82)

The day was a little colder than it had been in previous days. Tultorla used some dragon paper she retrieved from somewhere and sent a letter to her grandmother to let her know about the winged-things sent to capture her and also about how helpful we had been to her. She got all of our names to include in the letter to her grandmother. And, she said, she’d be able to send us messages with dragon paper with our names.

The day passed without incident until shortly before sunset. At that point, Tultorla showed us a cliff-face with the shape of a stone arch carved into it. (Like a bas-relief of a masonry arch.)

We said goodbye to Tultorla.

Vinya: Be careful and watch out for those things. And other agents of the Tundra Queen. And call on us if you need us.
Tultorla: I know how they work now and how to stay safe. I will contact you again someday, I’m sure.

With that she flew away.

After she had left, Mr. Stonebright took something that looked like a cameo, only the image was of a stronghold, out of his pocket. He used that to tap on some of the carved “stones” in the arch. After a minute there was a gust of wind and the inside of the arch opened to a wide valley. On the other side of the valley, there was a large mountain with a horizontal slit carved into it.

We goggled at this.

Mr. Stonebright: This is old, old magic.

We walked through the arch, stepping through it to the other side of the mountain.

Vinya, looking ahead: How did they do that to the mountain?
Stonebright: Dwarves can be very persistent.

We made camp not far from where we stepped out onto the road on the other side.

The night passed.


22 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 83)

The next morning dawned a little warmer and drizzly. We headed out. After a couple of hours, six dwarves on stout ponies came by. Five of them pulled out crossbows as they approached, but didn’t point them right at us.

Marxine tried to shove Mr. Stonebright down into the cart, but he resisted her.

Stonebright: If I’m hiding, it will be worse.

They came closer, with their crossbows pointing down, clearly not expecting trouble.

Dwarf: Good morning.
Elama: Hello!
Dwarf: It’s been a while since we’ve had an elf, let alone :):he made a show of counting::) four of them. Why are you here?
Elama: We’re escorting someone here.
Dwarf, studying the fey cart: That’s an interesting cart.
Vinya: Some fey creatures with wings attacked a friend of ours. We rescued her from them and got this wagon in the process. We’re thinking of selling it.

He proceeded to talk us more or less out of selling the cart.

Dwarf, looking at Stonebright: He must be the one that hired you?
Vinya: Yeah.
Dwarf, to Stonebright: Welcome back. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

They rode off and we headed on our way. After they were out of sight Vinya turned to Mr. Stonebright.

Vinya: What did they mean by you enjoying your trip?
Stonebright, after a moment’s thought: I don’t think they meant anything.

Okay.

We continued on our way through the valley, making camp at sunset. Mr. Stonebright told us he thought we’d get there mid-day the next day.

Vinya asked him what we should expect when we arrive. He said that he would most likely not be arrested immediately. At most the guards will escort him to his clanhold. His family will be expected to produce him for trial.

Vinya: How long until the trial, do you think?
Stonebright: Probably not long, since the elders and chiefs of the other clans really want the feuding to stop.
Vinya: How will the trial work?
Stonebright: I hope some people in my clan will argue for me. I’m not good at that.
Vinya: How can we help you?
Stonebright: I’m probably not going to be allowed to leave my clanhold, so I don’t know how I’m going to be able to talk to people and find witnesses.

We offered our assistance with that. And with arguing in court if necessary.


23 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 84)

As we got closer to Torm Brinnom, we noticed that the slit in the mountain was about 50 feet tall. The road led up the mountain toward a gate that looked like they knocked a section out of the bottom of the slot -- the gate was 75 feet tall and the top of it was more or less level with the bottom of the open slit in the mountain.

We also noticed that there were more and more dwarves on the road as we approached the city gate.

As we entered through the gate, the guards stopped us. Mr. Stonebright gave his name. They clearly knew his name and who he was, but there was no move to arrest him at all.

Guard: Mr. Stonebright, go on through.

We went on through. The road was in a deep canyon-like slot that was 20 feet below the level of the floor of the hold. Over the course of a quarter of a mile, the trench rose up until it was at the level of the floor and it went out into a large largely open area with a lot of smaller buildings in it. There was also one larger building, about the size of the Fireruby compound in Lonoj. Beyond this open area were 10 large clanholds. Each of them was many stories tall and Mr. Stonebright told us that they also continued underground. The compound in the common area was where the hill dwarves live.

The 10 clanholds were arranged in a kind of arch around the open, common area. Stonebright lead us to the third one from the left, taking us right to the gate.

At the gate, he spoke to the dwarves on guard.

Mr. Stonebright: I’m Ullard Stonebright. I would ask that my companions be admitted as my guests.

The guards asked us to wait and some of them disappeared. After a while they returned with a matron who said that Ullard Stonebright would be allowed to have guests. However he would not be allowed to leave the compound.

At that the gates to the Stonebright clanhold opened in front of us and we rode in on our carts.

Once we were inside the compound, we had a bit of a drive to the house.

Vinya: Who can we talk to to help you? Your mother? Your father? I don’t know how this dwarf stuff works.
Ullard Stonebright: Tanlot is our Elder. I will ask if you can talk to her. I don’t know who would be in town now.

We went inside and were greeted by an elderly dwarven woman. She greeted Stonebright a bit tensely, but it was not cold or unfriendly. She told us that we’d be able to come and go as we pleased, but that Ullard would be expected to remain in the clanhold. He has already fled once.

The dwarven lady, and a couple of other dwarves who showed up, began to talk to Marxine about where she was from (Torm Halstraf) and her clan, the Deepfoots. As have other dwarves we’ve met, they recognized that stronghold life is not for everyone. They were also horrified that as a miner, she was not treated well by her employers. They clearly felt that it reflected poorly on her employers and not at all poorly on Marxine. Eventually, after a bit of discussion, they realized that they knew some of Marxine’s people in Torm Halstraf.

Once they had sorted out that connection to her and her people, they were more welcoming to the five of us.

And there we ended.
 

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