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


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 21: Investigating a Murder

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 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 84) (immediately after)

We were told that we’d be staying in the Stonebright citadel (or clanhold).

We got a bit more information on the layout of the clanhold. There is a high wall around it with a gate. Going through the gate, the driveway descended, so most of the clanhold is below the level of the ground. The individual homes and quarters have facades carved into the rock -- like there are streets carved like canyons in the rock and houses carved into the walls of those “streets” within the clanhold.

Sort of Petra meets Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen’s House in Star Wars (but maybe more Petra).

We talked to Mr. Stonebright about what happened. The man who died was named Jarek Turnstone. He and Mr. Ullar Stonebright, our employer, were in a relationship when Mr. Stonebright was betrothed to Jarek Turnstone’s sister, Tamna Turnstone.

We asked what kind of investigation the guard did and Ullar Stonebright didn’t know. He’d been gone for more than 30 years. He left before the body was discovered. Because he didn’t know a lot about the investigation or exactly why the Turnstones were so certain that he was the one who’d killed Jarek, he asked if we could meet the Stonebright clan elder, Tanlot.

While we were waiting for word on that, we talked more about the events leading up to him leaving Torm Brinnom and Jarek’s death. He told us a little about Dwarven marriage customs (at least in Torm Brinnom) -- when a clan has a young adult of the right age, they go to an elder of another clan, someone who’s known as a matchmaker, and that elder arranges a marriage with a young person from another clan.

Ullar Stonebright said he was surprised that someone tried to arrange a marriage for him - it was no great secret that he’s gay. The elder who arranged it was named Amnok Rockbreaker.

We asked what the Rockbreakers would gain by making such an inappropriate match. Could they possibly be going for power within the stronghold? He said that one clan has a hereditary leadership of Torm Brinnom, the King or Queen, but there is a clan council and on a vote of no confidence the clan that is in power would have to step down and another would step into their place.

Currently the Ironbeard clan are the hereditary monarchs.

We asked about the hill dwarves, including Captain Strongaxe’s people. He said that the resident hill dwarves lived in the compound that we saw in the common area as we came into Torm Brinnom. He agreed that talking to the Strongaxes is a good idea -- they might have an outsider perspective on the affairs of the mountain dwarf clans.

Going back to his arranged marriage to Tamna Turnstone -- the marriage was arranged by Amnok Rockbreaker, who had a good reputation as a matchmaker. However, even before the disastrous pairing between Ullar Stonebright and Tamna Turnstone he’d developed a pattern of making some very iffy matches -- personality mismatches.

About then we were informed that we would be having dinner with Tanlot Stonebright, the clan elder. Ullar Stonebright wouldn’t be there. We were told that Tanlot had a suspicion that we’d all speak more freely that way. Ullar wasn’t thrilled but he accepted the situation. Not that he’s worried about what would be said -- but he wants to know what’s going on and why his own self.

We were escorted to our dinner -- we entered a room that looked sort of like a den or a small dining room. An elderly dwarf lady, Marxine estimated she was 400 or more years old, stood up as we entered and gestured to the other chairs at the round table in the room, inviting us to sit. Beer was brought in followed by a very nice stew.

She told us that Ullard and Jarek had a relationship -- they might have thought they were keeping it quiet, but it was not a secret.

She told us that Amnok Rockbreaker, who had arranged the match between Ullard and Tamna, had disappeared shortly after Ulllard left.

We asked why Ullard would have killed Jarek. She said that the guard, and the Turnstones, said that they had witnesses who said they were arguing.

Vinya: How do they know he was murdered? It seems like he might have fallen, or jumped, off the wall.
Tanlot: His neck was broken before he was thrown off the wall. Also he was found far enough from the wall that he clearly didn’t just fall.

Tanlot told us that Tamna Turnstone had another marriage arranged for her, this time by a matchmaker in the Anvilhands clan, to a young man in the Goldbrews clan.

Vinya: Since the pairing of Ullard with Tamna was so obviously not going to work, why did you accept the pairing? Do you have an opportunity to say no to an arranged marriage?
Tanlot: There’s a time when only the elders of the two clans know what match has been arranged -- during that time we have a chance to reject it. Once the pairing is announced publicly, though, it’s much harder to call it to a halt. In this case Amnock Rockbreaker announced it before we had a chance to reject the match.
Vinya: Are the Rockbreakers still here? Are they still making bad matches?
Tanlot: The Rockbreakers are still in Torm Brinnom, but they do not have a matchmaker in their clan since Amnok disappeared.

We asked her what form the feud between the Turnstones and the Stonebrights had been taking. Or dwarf feuds in general. She said that they start with personal arguments and business disputes, then clans start making shady deals with one another. She said that could lead to a revenge cycle of shady deals. Eventually fighting starts -- though it hasn’t gotten to that point here in Torm Brinnom yet.

Tanlot: At this point nothing has been said that can’t be unsaid. Though there have been some fistfights.
Marxine: We have a letter of introduction to the Strongaxes in the hill dwarf compound.
Tanlot: Lorto Strongaxe has a good head on his shoulders. It will probably be helpful for you to talk to him.
Marxine: It would be helpful for us to have a letter from you, so we can let people know that we’re connected with you if we need to.
Tanlot: I will do that.
Vinya: My first teacher as a monk was Hragdar Goldbrew.
Tanlot: I do not know him.

After dinner, we decided to go to an inn or bar where the different clans socialize together. We found the Adamant Gorgon, a big bar in the common area with lots of people from the clans and the resident non-mountain dwarves and guests. There was a hill dwarf greeting people at the door.

We found a table with a couple of hill dwarves and a rock gnome sitting at it -- and five empty seats. They’re playing a game where they’re bouncing coins into a glass. Marxine went to drop a copper into the glass and knocked a player’s coin out.

There were a few moments of good natured bickering over whether that counted as him getting a coin in the cup or not during which they invited us to sit with them.

Gnome: What brings the lot of you here?
Marxine: Adventuring.
Gnome: What adventure brought you here
Elderron: We were escorting someone?
Gnome: Who?
Elderron: Ullard Stonebright.

Everyone at the table knew that name and were interested that Ullard Stonebright was back in Torm Brinnom. They told us that things were really very tense in the stronghold -- the feuding had spread beyond the Stonebrights and the Turnstones. All of the mountain dwarves were treating each other badly, which is not the normal way of things.

Vinya: How long has this been going on?

They looked at each other and talked for a moment then all three of them agreed that it had been getting tense for about 10 years.

Vinya: And Ullard has been gone for about 30.
Dwarf: Did he do it?
Marxine: No way.
Dwarf: The tension started to build almost instantly when he left. According to the Turnstones, Ullard jilted the girl and killed her brother. But you say he didn’t do the latter.

We introduced ourselves and discovered that one of the dwarves we were talking to was Lorto Strongaxe, kin to Captain Strongaxe on the boat from Lonoj.

Lorto: This here is Arl Stormfist and the little guy is Quipperwhill.

We mentioned the bad matches that Artok Rockbreaker had been making before making the disastrous one between Ullard and Tamna. Lorto said that other people have been making weird decisions and behaving strangely. And that many of those people, like Artok Rockbreaker, have then disappeared after starting arguments or shorting merchants.

Lorto: I can think of eight who have disappeared over the last decade.
Marxine: That’s a lot of disappearances!
Vinya: Damn!
Marxine: Can you tell us some of the people who’ve behaved oddly and then disappeared? We’d like to look into this.
Lorto: There was a merchant from the Anvilhands who was shorting people. A smith from the Hammerhammers did shoddy work and sold some of it to the Silversmiles, Ironbeards, and Rockbreakers. He claimed the Goldbrews had sold him some bad iron, but they could prove they hadn’t.
Vinya: We’ve met a Hammerhammer -- he was an amazing smith.
Lorto: That’s their reputation and it’s important to them. It was a really big deal this guy making shoddy products -- it hurt their reputation for a while and caused a lot of stress in the clan. But then the guy disappeared.
Vinya: Who from outside Torm Brinnom would benefit from the social fabric fraying?
Lorto: People always think there’s good stuff in a stronghold.
Vinya: Are any of these other feuds getting big?
Lorto: The biggest dispute right now is between the Stonebrights and The Turnstones.
Elderron: Has any of this people behaving oddly happened recently?
Lorto: I haven’t heard of it.

We talked to them about the murder of Jarek Turnstone. They all agreed that it seemed weird. What the guard and the Turnstones say happened -- that Ullard broke Jarek’s neck and threw him off the wall of Torm Brinnom -- doesn’t match what the guards found. The guards say he fell or was pushed, but from how he landed it looked more like he was flung by a trebuchet -- he flew farther from the wall than even a normally muscular dwarf could possibly throw someone.

Vinya: Ullard is not a normally muscular dwarf. He’s quite slender and not terribly strong.
Elderron: Why won’t the Turnstones listen to that evidence?
Lorto: They were hurt by the end of the betrothal.
Vinya: Why were they so attached to what was obviously a very awkward match?
Lorto: I don’t know.

We ordered beer and spent the evening hanging out and playing their coin game, Coppers, until we went back to the Stonebright clanhold.

In the safety of the clanhold, the night passed entirely without incident.

24 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 85)

In the morning, we had a private breakfast in our chambers, and discussed what we wanted to do. Vinya wanted to talk to the guard about what evidence they had -- perhaps there was actual evidence that pointed to Ullard as the killer. We also wanted to talk to Tamna Goldbrew, formerly Tamna Turnstone, the jilted betrothed because we thought she might have an interesting perspective.

We started with the guard. Armed with Tanlot Stonebright’s letter of introduction and some talking up our connection with Captain Althorn in Erlin and Captain Toris in Lonoj, we found ourselves fairly quickly talking with Captain Tulkon SIlversmile. He was pretty tall and burly for a dwarf and had very dark hair.

Vinya: We have some questions about Ullard Stonebright and Jarek Turnstone. We’re trying to find out who did it, because we want justice to be done for all parties.
Elama: Did anyone ever cast speak with dead on his remains?
Captain Silversmile: Yes. He didn’t know who killed him. The last person he talked to was Ullard. He spoke to him on the wall. The last person he saw was Ullard. He saw him on the wall. Those were our five questions.
Vinya: That’s not very conclusive.
Captain Silversmile: Stonebright left Torm Brinnom -- his wagon was seen leaving, but the driver was cloaked and no one could conclusively identify the driver. We have witnesses who saw them arguing, but the reports are questionable and inconsistent. One said they were arguing outside the gate to the Stonebright clanhold. Another said they were outside the gate of the Turnstone clanhold. At about the same time.
Vinya: How close are the holds?
Captain Silversmile: Far enough apart that there couldn’t be a mistake about it. And they couldn’t both be right.
Elderron: Who were the witnesses?
Captain Silversmile: A patrol of guards saw them arguing outside the Stonebrights’. A merchant from the Goldbrews saw them arguing outside the Turnstones’.
Elderron: What about these disappearances we’ve heard about?
Captain Silversmile: There have been too many of those. Far too many. There have been at least 25 people who have disappeared without a trace over the last 25 years. Artok Rockbreaker was maybe the most prominent -- he was well trusted in the community until he started making those bad matches at the end. He was last seen at about the same time as the murder.
Vinya: So Ullard ended the betrothal and then is supposed to have immediately killed Jarek?
Captain Silversmile: No, there was a couple of days between the end of the betrothal and the murder.
Elderron: What was the most recent disappearance?
Captain Silversmile: Tardot Silversmile. He disappeared six months ago. He is my uncle.
Vinya: I’m so sorry!
Captain Silversmile: How would you have known?
Vinya: I’m sorry for your loss.
Elderron: Was he acting strange before he disappeared?
Captain Silversmile: He was short tempered and seemed to think he was more of an elder in our clan than he really was. He’s a fine dwarf, but doesn’t have as much authority as he was claiming
Marxine: What kind of authority?
Captain Silversmile: He was trying to give orders to our forces.
Elderron: What kind of orders?
Captain Silversmile: Like preparing the forces for an attack.
Vinya: Against who?
Captain Silversmile: It didn’t get that far. But Darmon Silversmile, another of my uncles, Tardot’s brother, is the head of our clan militia and they look pretty similar.
Vinya: You have a militia within your clan?
Captain Silversmile: All the clans have a militia. Each clan is responsible for training up a militia, but they're not supposed to deploy them without orders from the King except in the gravest emergencies.
Elderron: How are the mines doing?
Captain Silversmile: I don’t spend much time there. The miners found a seam of adamantine, which has people excited.
Marxine: What’s the timeline for the trial?
Captain Silversmile: The trial will probably happen within half a month. Some of that time will be spent finding three people from other clans, acceptable to both the Stonebrights and the Turnstones, who will be the judges.

After talking to Captain Silversmile, we decided we needed to go talk to Ullard again and get a bit more information and detail from him.

Vinya, to the rest of the party as we went back to the Stonebright clanhold: I feel like something is replacing or duplicating people.
Someone: Like a doppelganger?
Vinya: Maybe. Or someone with a really good disguise kit. Or a disguise self spell. Maybe a few people. I mean people saw Ullard and Jarek arguing in two different places at the same time. So if they’re both right, someone was duplicating Jarek in one place and Ullard in another. It would also explain these disappearances and Captain Silversmile’s uncle acting like he thought he was his brother, the head of the militia. And Jarek’s corpse saying that the last person he saw was Ullard, two days after Ullard left Torm Brinnom.

To Vinya’s surprise, the others didn’t think this was completely nuts.

Back at the Stonebright hold, we asked Ullard for the timeline of events, from his point of view.

Ullard: I found out I was betrothed and went immediately to talk to Jarek. He was more argumentative than usual and really seemed determined that I should go through with the betrothal. We had an argument about it. I came home. I figured out that I wasn’t going to go through with the marriage. So I packed my things and loaded up a cart. The next day I went to talk to Jarek, but he wasn’t at the Turnstone clanhold. The guards seemed weird -- as though they were wondering why I was asking for him. They seemed to think I should know. So I asked to talk to Tamna. I told her I was going to leave Torm Brinnom.
Vinya: Did you ask her where Jarek was?
Ullard: No. I got in my wagon and pulled my cloak around me and headed out of the stronghold.
Marxine: To be absolutely clear, you never spoke with Jarek on the wall?
Ullard: Not between the announcement of my betrothal and me leaving Torm Brinnom. Some places on the wall are kind of secluded and couples have …. meetings there. It’s like a lovers’ walk. So we’d been there before.
Elderron: What was his reason for wanting you to go through with the marriage?
Ullard: He said it would be better for our clans and that Rockbreaker knew what he was doing.

Ullard said that he’s found out since he returned that there was some thought that Jarek left with him, until they found his body.

Vinya had a really good feeling that he was telling the absolute truth.

We talked about where we needed to go from here.

Vinya: Whatever it is that is copying people and however it’s being done, they’re going to be targeting the people selected as judges, I’d think.

We decided that since we were there we could talk to the head of the Stonebright militia -- Annim Stonebright. We asked him if he knew about Tarnot Silversmile trying to order the Silversmile militia to prepare for an attack.

Arnim: He was acting like his brother.
Us: Yeah. Who’s the head of the Turnstone militia?
Arnim: Kemmit Turnstone.

We filed that away in case it became useful later, but decided to go to the Goldbrews to talk to Tanma.

When we got to the Goldbrew clanhold, Vinya stepped up and threw around Hragdar’s name, asking if he was there. He was not. So she then asked if we could speak to Tanma.

We were asked to wait in a waiting room near the gate. After fifteen minutes or so, Tanma came into the waiting room.

Tanma: The last time I spoke to Ullard he came by to speak to Jarek, but he wasn’t there. He asked for me then. He told me that he was leaving Torm Brinnom because he thought it would be easier for my clan to find me another husband if he was entirely gone. And that would be easier than getting Rockbreaker to change his mind.
Vinya: That actually speaks pretty well of him.
Tanma: Yeah. My clan wanted the marriage to happen, but I knew about Ullard and Jarek and I didn’t think it was going to work well for anyone.

She told us that Ullard looked like he was bundled up for travel and had a wagon outside the gate. It was clear to her that he was going to be leaving as soon as they were done talking.

Vinya: When was this?
Tanma: Around lunchtime. Earlier, the day before I guess, I’d talked to Jarek. He seemed upset. He said that Ullard had been acting weird, but he was going to try to talk sense into him. It sounded like Jarek thought Ullard was going to go through with the marriage. When Ullard said he was leaving the next day, I thought he and Jarek had a talk.
Vinya: We’ve heard about people acting strangely around the stronghold. Have you seen anything like that?
Tanma: Well, my dad has been pretty weird. He never seemed like a vengeful sort before, but now, like in the last five years, he’s become determined to have vengeance on the Stonebrights.
Vinya: What’s your father’s name?
Tanma: Ult Turnstone. It’s become a fixation for him. An obsession.
Vinya: Is he the clan elder?
Tanma: No. But my uncle is and my father has his brother’s ear.

We ended on that alarming note.

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Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 22: Oni Coming Out of the Woodwork

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 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 85) (immediately after)

We ended the previous session still in the middle of our investigation of the dead of Jarek Turnstone. We had just learned from Jarek’s sister, Tamna Goldbrew (nee Turnstone), that her father was showing some of the signs that we’d identified as possibly being a marker of someone having been replaced by whatever it is that is duplicating and replacing people. And her father has the ear of the Turnstone clan elder. Which could be really bad given that the Turnstones are mainly driving the feud with the Stonebrights.

We started by continuing that conversation with Tanma.

Vinya: If I suggested that your father had somehow been replaced by someone or something who looked just like him, but didn’t have his memories or personality -- whether by magic or monster or simply a very excellent ability to impersonate someone, would you think that was possible?
Tamna: That could be possible, yes.
Elderron: If it was the case, how would you feel?
Tamna: Sad. Distressed. If they can get to my father, they can get to anyone.
Elderron: Would you help us try to find out if he has, in fact, been replaced by a duplicate?
Tamna: I can get us an audience with my uncle, Eskin Turnstone. He’s the clan elder and he could arrange for a test with my father.
Vinya: How long would it take to get that set up?
Tamna: I can talk to them today. I’ll let you know.
Vinya: You can get a message to us at the Stonebright clanhold.
Tamna: How’s Ullard holding up?
Vinya: He’s stressed. Quite resolute about standing trial. He was very determined about coming back for the good of the Stronghold.

We then thanked her and left.

Vinya: Should we go talk to….
Elderron: Yes.

We went to the guardhouse to talk to Captain Tulkon Silversmile.

Vinya: You told us about your uncle acting oddly for a while before he went missing. Would you believe it possible that your uncle was replaced by something that duplicated him by some means? Would that make sense to you?
Captain: That actually makes a lot of sense.
Vinya: It seems like there was some amount of duplication of people going on around when Ullard Stonebright called off his betrothal to Tamna and left Torm Brinnom and Jarek Turnstone’s died. Among other things it seems like there were two arguments going on at the same time between Jarek and Ullard -- one outside the Stonebright clanhold and one outside the Turnstones. Ullard reports that Jarek wasn’t acting like himself when they argued. Tamna said that Jarek told her Ullard wasn’t acting like himself. Two different arguments.
Captain: Shit!
Elderron: Something’s definitely fishy.

We told him about Tamna saying that her father hadn’t been acting like himself for a few years and that he has the ear of his brother, the Turnstone clan elder.

Vinya: I’m envisioning Tamna’s father influencing selection of the judges, then disappearing. And then the judges in the trial sitting before anyone has a chance to notice that one of them is acting oddly.
Marxine: There’s got to be a short list of who’s likely to be selected for this. Dwarves in other clans well-respected for their integrity and honesty. Probably elders.
Captain: Yeah. I can make a good guess who the judges will be.
Vinya: It would probably be a good idea to ask the people close to those most likely judges if they’ve been acting oddly. And also just to keep them protected so that they don’t get replaced at the eleventh hour.

We then went back to the Stonebright clanhold to talk to Ullard. He wouldn’t know if anyone in the Stonebright clan had been acting oddly, because he’s been gone for 30 years. But he said we could talk to his cousin Affird.

When Affird came to talk to us we told him that we were looking into the murder of Jarek Turnstone because we wanted to make sure that justice was done.

Vinya: One thing we’ve found as we’ve been talking to people is that a lot of people associated with the case, and with the stronghold in general, have been acting strangely and not like themselves. Has there been anyone like that here?
Affird: Our elder’s husband. He had a bad memory and was acting strangely a few years ago. The memory has mostly gotten better. But his personality seems permanently changed.
Vinya: What happened?
Affird: Ekrit was the one who handled a few of the early responses to the Turnstone’s initial complaints. They appeared to be deliberately very insulting. Tanlot doesn’t allow him to do that sort of thing anymore.
Vinya: Would he have her ear as far as important clan affairs go?
Affird: Not anymore.
Vinya: Would it be possible for you to believe that Ekrit had been somehow replaced by someone who looked just like him but was not in fact him?
Affird: That makes a terrifying amount of sense. You should tell Tanlot. I’ll see if I can arrange a meeting.

At that point it was about dinner time so we ate at the clanhold with Ullard and Affird and other cousins of theirs in the same age group. We were served roast meat with roasted vegetables and potatoes. And beer.

During dinner Vinya asked the person sitting next to her if there was a sage or wise person in town we could talk to.

Vinya’s dinner partner: Well, Tylrok Hammerhammer is the smartest person I know.
Vinya: Thanks!

A lot of the conversation at the table was Ullard’s cousins trying to draw him out about what he was doing the last 30 years while he was going. He wasn’t super talkative about it and tried to dodge their questions. Elderron, Aldalomiel and Elama got the sense that he didn’t think his family would understand what he’d been doing or what he’d experienced. Elderron passed that information to Vinya, quietly. So Vinya started deflecting them by talking about the stuff we’d seen on the trip here from Lonoj -- meeting the dragon, and talking to the Stone Giants and the well that gave true answers to questions, and the hydra we fought on the boat. That successfully deflected their interest.

After dinner, Affird went to Marxine and told her that Tanlot would be able to talk to us in half an hour in the same room we’d spoken to her in before.

We went to talk to her after spending half an hour getting spiffed up -- Vinya put on her dress gi, Elderron put on his fine clothes with his owl cufflinks, etc.

When the time for the meeting came, we met with Tanlot in the same meeting room, which was a rectangular room with a round table with twelve chairs around it.

Vinya: If we suggested to you that some people in the stronghold had been replaced by other people who looked just like them, whether by magic or excellent impersonation or whatever, would that be something you could believe?
Elderron: Let me be more direct. Can you think of anyone who’s been acting like they weren’t themselves in the last several years?
Tanlot: My husband. Five years ago he had a bunch of things fall out of his memory.
Vinya: Did his personality change?
Elderron: Perhaps old projects were abandoned and new ones taken up.
Tanlot: Not the projects abandoned but his memory was very bad. And his personality…
Vinya: It’s likely that whatever is doing this may be able to pick up on social cues to either pick up things they ought to be remembering, or to fake remembering them. But the personality changes are likely to be permanent.
Tanlot: That does describe my husband.
Vinya: With people possibly being duplicated, we’re worried about the integrity of Ullard’s trial.
Tanlot: That’s a concern

At about that time in the conversation, all of us but Elderron noticed mist flowing under the two doors to the room. It coalesced and formed into blue-skinned, horned humanoid-shaped things -- Elderron recognized them as Oni (or ogre-magi).

Fortunately, because of the flail of warning that Marxine carries, even Elderron wasn’t surprised. He just wasn’t sure what he wasn’t being surprised by. There was one at either end of the room with us in the middle.

Elderron let us know quickly that they were Oni and had some magical powers, including shapeshifting into humanoids. They eat people. They also, from time to time, work as mercenaries in groups.

Alda put a hunter’s mark on the one nearest her, then drew her sword and moved to attack it -- hitting with both of her attacks. Elama moved between Tanlot and the same one Aldalomiel attacked and cast sanctuary on Tanlot, then cast sacred flame on the one she was blocking from Tanlot. Elderron misty stepped away from the Oni, all the way to the wall of the room, then cast toll the dead on the one that Aldalomiel and Elama were fighting.

Vinya planted the rod of alertness near where she was at the opposite side of the room - creating an aura of light that gave everyone some protection and allowed us to see invisible things. Then she got between the Oni and Tanlot and did her patient defense. Marxine got next to Vinya, between the same Oni and Tanlot, and attacked with the maul, getting a good hit.

The one Aldalomiel was next to attacked her and the other one attacked Marxine. Both, fortunately, missed. We did, however, see them healing some of the damage that had been done to them.

Tanlot moved to be as far away from them as possible -- against the wall in the middle of the room.

Aldalomiel moved so she had flanking with Elama, then drew her second sword and attacked three times, hitting with every strike. Elama took a step away from the Oni.

Elama: Sacred flame in the face!

But unfortunately, it saved.

Elderron shot a lightning bolt at the one on Aldalomiel but altered it in the casting so it did fire damage. Unfortunately something in the changing of the spell made it a little weak so it didn’t do as much damage as it might have done.

Vinya missed with her two quarterstaff attacks but then used an ability that she’d just worked out -- a searing arc strike. Fire shot out from her hands in an arc and damaged the Oni. Marxine moved to get flanking with Vinya getting a critical hit!

Unfortunately, even with both of them having taken fire damage, they both still healed as they attacked us.

Vinya: Fire doesn’t do it, y’all!

Aldalomiel was hit once, as was Marxine -- fortunately only once on each of them.

Vinya tried to tell Tanlot to get under the table, where she’d be harder for them to get to, but she was at least a little frozen in fear and stayed where she was.

Because Elama had stepped away to cast sacred flame, Aldalomiel no longer had flanking with her -- but she still was able to get a critical hit on it, as well as a regular hit. She did loads of damage. Elama dropped a shatter spell on the one on Aldalomiel -- there was a huge crashing noise and the Oni dropped. The Stonebright guards would have undoubtedly heard that. Elderron cast another altered lightning bolt -- this one did cold damage -- on the remaining Oni. Vinya punched it three times and got one hit. Marxine, having gotten into a groove with her swing, got two very consistent hits.

The one on Marxine and Vinya got a hit -- doing a lot of damage to Vinya. We kept an eye on the one that had been dropped by the Shatter spell -- it did not regenerate or get back to its feet. Whew!

Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark to the other Oni, then she dropped her swords and fired two shots with her bow -- which dropped it.

We all stayed alert and watched to make sure they weren’t going to regenerate. They didn’t.

Vinya went to Tanlot to make sure she was okay -- she said she was.

Elama opened the door to the room and saw guards coming down the hall.

Elama: Come in. We were attacked by blue, horned things.

We suggest the guards go look for Tanlot’s husband. They couldn’t find him.

Vinya asked one of them to please go get Captain Silversmile. Tanlot nodded and waved one of them off to do that. Vinya sat down and started to meditate, starting a short rest, but the Captain Silversmile and two other guards arrived about half an hour later.

Captain: Apologies for it taking so long. We’re short-handed tonight. One of our guards didn’t show up for his shift.
Vinya: These things attacked us while we were talking to Tanlot. There are probably more in the stronghold. We need to talk to the Turnstones.
Captain: Tanlot, you okay?
Tanlot: ::waves him off::

Elderron told us that the Oni have magical abilities -- they can shapechange, turn invisible, and have a gaseous form.

We asked if the Captain can go with us to the Turnstones with some proof of these creatures. We headed out quickly to go to the Turnstones with the Captain. At the Turnstone clanhold, Captain Silversmile got us all in to talk to Eskin Turnstone, the clan elder, in a quiet and private room.

Eskin: I spoke with Tanma and was expecting you tomorrow.
Vinya: While we were talking to Tanlot this evening we were attacked by blue-skinned things called Oni. Elderron can tell you all about them if you want the information.

Elderron gave them the information he has on Oni. Focusing on the fact that they eat babies.

Eskin: <<looked sad>>
Vinya: Would you find it possible to believe that some people in the stronghold had been replaced by duplicates that look just like them?
Eskin: That makes a surprising amount of sense, actually.
Elderron: Have you seen Ult Turnstone?
Eskin: At dinner. Let’s go look for him…

We went with Eskin to Ult’s home within the Turnstone clanhold. We were greeted by some house servants who were cleaning up. At Erskin’s request they let us in and told us that the last time they saw Ult, he was going to his chambers. Eskin asks them to wake him and bring him down.

A few minutes later they came back, surprised, because he’s not there. They saw him less than an hour earlier. (Note: It had been more than an hour since we were attacked with Tanlot at the Stonebright clanhold.)

Vinya: So he’s not one of the two who attacked us at Stonebright’s.

Captain Silversmile was very displeased at the thought.

Elderron: Do you think Tamna is in danger?
Eskin: Please check in on her. I’ll have our guards looking for Ult in the clanhold.

We went with Captain Silversmile and his guards to the Goldbrew clanhold. While we were on the way, Vinya had a thought and asked if one of the guards could please be sent to the Stonebrights to ask them to have someone keep an eye on Ullard. Captain Silversmile agreed that was a good idea and sent one of the guards to do that.

At the Goldbrews, we got to speak with Tamna pretty quickly and found her fine and confused to see us again.

Tamna: I was going to send you a message in the morning. I arranged a meeting with Eskin Turnstone.

We explained the situation to her and she said that she’d be careful. We left a couple of guards to keep an eye on her.

We went back to the Turnstones to help with the search for Ult, and to let Eskin know that his niece was okay. We were met at the gate by Tanlot Stonebright. She was holding an unrolled scroll and had a dozen of the Stonebright guards with her. They were standing 40 to 50 feet away, not letting her out of her sight.

She handed the scroll to Marxine.

Tanlot: Can you read this?

Marxine couldn’t but fortunately Aldalomiel had been working on learning giantish and was able to. It said:

We have a deal. I will pay you and your brothers 10,000 gold each, for a total of 70,000 gold, and magically empower your glaives, and I’m sure the stronghold has other magics for the taking--they’re yours.

This is a long-term project, I know, but it will be worth it to you in the long run.


Marxine had the sense that “Rajalmin” was a fiendish name, but she couldn’t dial it in better than that.

Vinya: There were seven of them. We’ve killed two. That leaves five.

Elderron took a few minutes to cast detect magic before we knocked at the gate of the Turnstone clanhold. Vinya had see invisible going (from the Rod of Alertness). Elderron was hoping that detect magic would let him see something that was polymorphed. Neither of them saw anything out of the way.

We went back to the Stonebrights to find Ullard. We asked him to stay with us for the night, so we could be sure to keep him safe.

Captain Silversmile said that he was going to send a message to the Hammerhammer sage, so he’d be expecting us first thing in the morning. He also said that he’d contact the short-list of possible judges to check if they were okay.

Oda spent the night flying around over the stronghold, listening for screaming or commotion.

We took a tense and stressed long rest, but the night passed without incident.

25 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 86)

Breakfast in the Stonebright clanhold was quiet -- most people weren’t talking much. Toward the end of breakfast, Tanlot came into the dining room.

Tanlot: I received word last night that Ult, or whatever was pretending to be him, returned to the Turnstone’ clanhold last night. They were able to kill him, but at the cost of several of their guards.
Vinya, horrified: Oh, I’m so sorry!! We should have stayed there. Has your husband returned?
Tanlot: No. And Captain Silversmile says his guard has not returned.

We got a description of the guard, Garton Anvilhand, and realized that we’d seen him as part of the guard contingent around when we were talking to Captain Silversmile. Elama cast locate object on something he was wearing. We started walking toward the Anvilhand clanhold and when we were a bit away, she started picking up the location of that object within the clanhold.

At the door of the Anvilhand clanhold, Elama asked for Garten.

Guard: He’s not here.
Marxine, in Dwarvish: Can we go in and ask if he’s okay?

We followed the locate object spell to Garten’s fairly plain room. It looked very very neglected -- like he hadn’t cared about his room or his surroundings for a while. The object Elama was raising was in a pile on a bedside table. We got the sense that he’d taken off his guard uniform, and perhaps the trappings of pretending to be Garten Anvilhands.

Vinya used the rod of alertness to cast see invisible, but she couldn’t see anything.

We thanked the Anvilhands and decided to go talk to the Hammerhammer sage.

And there we ended.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 23: Us and a “Gem of Seeing”

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.)

25 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 86) (immediately after)

On the way with Captain Silversmile to talk to the Torm Brinnom sage, Tylrok Hammerhammer, we discussed what we wanted to learn from him. We wanted to know if he knows anything about this fiend Rajalmin who hired the oni to disrupt the community in Torm Brinnom. If he does know anything about Rajalmin, what could the fiend possibly have to gain with this? Is there some way to identify the oni other than going around the stronghold and asking if people are acting weird.

Captain Silversmile introduced us to Tylrok Hammerhammer and the sage said that he’d been told already that there was an infestation of oni in the town.

Vinya showed him the letter from Rajalmin.

Tylrok: My father’s aunt, before she was a Hammerhammer, sent Rajalmin back to the Hells. He’s a Rakshasa.
Elama: What’s that?
Tylrok: A devil-creature. Their primary hobbies are corrupting civilization and revenge.
Vinya: Apparently what he’s doing here is a two-fer.
Tylrok: Yes, but the good news is that if he’s hired oni to act for him, he’s probably not here.
Elama: Is he a shapeshifter too?
Tylrok: Yes.
Elama: Is there any way to figure out who in the stronghold is an oni?
Tylrok: A gem of seeing would do it. Maybe one of the clans has one? I know we don’t.
Captain Silversmile: ::shakes his head::
Vinya: Is there any way to draw them out so they find us?
Tylrok: Using yourselves as bait?
Elderron: We’d prefer that.
Elama: I’d prefer that to all this sleuthing.
Vinya: We’d prefer it to them attacking dwarves who may not be trained in fighting.
Tylrok: It would be clever if word could get out that we have a gem of seeing… They may have ways of contacting each other. There haven’t been any new disappearances for a while, six months I think since your uncle, Captain, right? Maybe some of the elves in town have a gem of seeing ...

We ultimately decided that we were going to fake a Gem of Seeing by putting a Nystul’s Magic Aura (conveniently Tylrok had a scroll for that and he gave it to Elderron) on one of the chunks of crystal we picked up on the way to Torm Brinnom.

Armed with a fake Gem of Seeing, we walked around the Hammerhammer clanhold with it, thanking Tylrok for the loan of his gem of seeing. Elama checked people over with the “gem”, examining them with it. Vinya cast see invisibility from the rod of alertness.

The clans in Torm Brinnom are: Stonebright, Turnstone, Hammerhammer, Anvilhands, Goldbrew, Silversmile, Rockbreaker, Ironbeard, Diamondeye, and Blackgranite.

After going through the Hammerhammer clanhold, where Tylrok had told us no one was behaving oddly, so we weren’t expecting much, we headed with Captain Silversmile and two guards (who never earned names) to the Stonebrights, because we figured we could work on our schtick of looking with the gem of seeing there, where we figured we’d flushed out an oni already (and weren’t expecting any more).

Ullard was a bit non-plussed with our show of searching. Vinya gave him a wink as Elama was looking him over with the gem.

We went from there back to the Anvilhands, where we’d already been this morning before going to talk to Tylrok (looking for the missing guard). They were pretty cooperative.

Anvilhands guard: Two guards we didn’t recognize came by after you left. They were also looking for Garton. They left just a minute ago.

(Note: Garton Anvilhands is the guard who is missing.)

We got a description of the guards who had come by. Disturbingly, Captain Silversmile didn’t recognize them from the descriptions.

We went from the Anvilhands to the Silversmile stronghold. We let the Captain take care of the discussion there, since this was his own clan. They were a little unhappy that their own clansman was subjecting them to the search.

We went from there to the Rockbreakers. In addition to looking around with the “gem of seeing” we asked about people acting weird. The door guard at the Rockbreakers gave us a weird look. Apparently word of what we were looking for, and what was going on, had gotten around.

Guard: It’s not natural having something pretending to be us.

We agreed with that.

We decided that if we did too much “looking with the gem of seeing” and missed one of the oni, it would give our game away. So instead of just going around all the clanholds in order we were going to focus on places where we didn’t expect to find anything -- like the Turnstones, where Ult had already been revealed -- and on getting the word out that we had the gem.

We decided to go from the Rockbreakers straight over to the Turnstones, which involved cutting through the common part of the stronghold and going past the guest dwarves’ hold.

As we were going through the busy and bustling common area, on our way to the guest dwarves’ hold, with Captain Silversmile and our two nameless guards, we saw ahead of us two people, a gnome and an elf, turn into oni and lift off the ground and fly.

Aldalomiel cast hunter’s mark on the one in front of us -- hitting twice. Elama cast call lightning, taking advantage of the high “ceiling” in the stronghold. She damaged both of them.

Marxine moved forward and pushed one of the civilians back toward the rest of the party, then put herself between another civilian and the oni. Vinya, having had the same thought, ran up to where she could see around the buildings and into a couple of alleys, where there were two more oni. She saw a civilian standing right near an oni, where it would definitely be threatened by the oni’s big glaive. She pulled the civilian away from the oni, taking his place, and send him going toward the party. Then she called out to the others about there being two more in the side streets and did patient defense.

Elderron cast a hypnotic pattern on the two he could see, changing the save to a dexterity save. One of them went a bit slack jawed and the other turned to it and looked at it with an irritated expression.

The civilians ran -- one of them who was in range of a big glaive had the presence of mind to disengage before running.

Captain Silversmile moved forward to place himself between a civilian and an oni. The guards stepped in front of Elama and Elderron and shot at the two oni straight down the street in front of us with their crossbows. One of them got a hit.

One of the oni moved toward Captain Silversmile and shot a cone of cold down the street toward the party that caught Elama, Elderron, Aldalomiel, the two guards, and a number of civilians. The guards and the civilians were frozen solid and killed instantly. The cold damage caused Elderron to lose concentration on the hypnotic pattern, freeing that one (though fortunately it didn’t get to attack that turn) and Aldalomiel to lose concentration on her hunters’ mark. One of them moved to Marxine and attacked her twice, hitting once, from a position hovering 10 feet over her, because oni are bastards. Vinya was attacked by the one she’d gotten close to, but it missed (barely) with both attacks.

Aldalomiel cast hunters’ mark again, shooting twice at the one nearest the party (the one on Captain Silversmile). She did her usual great deal of damage. Elama cast fog cloud on herself, Elderron and Aldalomiel, then she moved to a different position so they wouldn’t be able to guess where she was in the cover of the fog cloud.

Marxine ignored the bastard in the air and went to the one that had been caught in the hypnotic pattern (but was now free) and attacked it, getting in one good hit. Vinya attacked the one she was on -- she tried to do a stunning strike, so she followed her attack up with a searing arc strike (burning hands). Elderron peeked out of the fog cloud and cast lightning bolt on two of them -- the one that cast the cone of cold and the one that had been caught in the hypnotic pattern.

The two civilians that had survived the cone of cold got away down the alleys or past the party and were safe.

Captain Silversmile pulled out a warhammer and attacked the oni on him twice, getting one hit. Not bad. The captain was attacked by two oni (the one who cast the cone of cold and the one that had flown over Marxine, each getting two attacks. One of them hit him twice, the other missed twice, and he survived the volley of blows. Marxine was attacked by the one she attacked, who was not flying, and hit once. Vinya was once again missed.

Aldalomiel moved out of the fog cloud, shot twice at the one that cast the cone of cold (currently on Captain Silversmile), since she’d already put her hunters’ mark on it. She got a solid hit. Then she moved back.

Elama peeked out of the cloud and found a spot where she could drop a shatter on some of them without hitting either the Captain or Marxine. The boom-crash of the thunder dropped the one that had cast the cone of cold, but didn’t hurt either the Captain or Marxine. Nice!!

Marxine attacked the one that had been in the hypnotic pattern -- she missed with both of her attacks, but her action surge let her attack again and she hit twice with that extra effort doing good damage with both of those attacks. Vinya hit with her main attack and did a stunning strike, which worked. Then she did another unarmed punch and hit with that as well.

Elderron stepped out of the fog and shot scorching rays -- two at the one on Marxine and one on the one on Captain Silversmile. He missed the one on the captain, but hit the one on Marxine twice and dropped it! Nice! Then Elderron faded back into the mist.

The Captain got a hit with one of his attacks, which was cool.

The good feelings didn’t last long, however, because he got hit hard by the one on him -- he stayed on his feet, but only just barely.

Aldalomiel moved her hunters’ mark to the one that was flying and hit solidly. Elama got right up behind Captain Silversmile and slapped him on the back, delivering a big cure wound. Marxine moved to the one that was flying and attacked by means of jumping up and swinging while at the apex of her leap. That worked amazingly well -- she hit twice, one of them a critical hit, and did lots of damage.

Vinya punched her stunned oni twice, hitting it twice, then spent her last bit of ki energy to do a flurry of blows, getting two more hits, doing a lot of damage herself. Unfortunately, it then shook off the stun.

Elderron walked out of the cloud and cast a high-level scorching ray, sending two bolts to Marxine’s oni and two to Vinya’s. Unfortunately, he missed Marxine’s but he hit Vinya’s twice. Then he ducked back close to the cloud, unable to get all the way into it because of how far he’d had to move to see Vinya’s.

Captain Silversmile followed Marxine’s lead and leapt into the air to attack the hovering oni. His first two attacks missed, but he did his action surge and attacked again, his hammer moving at blinding speed. He also got a hit and a crit in the attack.

Vinya’s oni attacked her and, again, missed twice. The other one took one swing each on Marxine and Captain Silversmile, missing both.

Aldalomiel attacked the one on Marxine and the Captain, but unfortunately missed twice. Elama dropped her fog cloud and cast a guiding bolt on the one on Marxine and the Captain, doing damage and leaving it easier to hit for the next person. Marxine got one hit.

On the other one, Vinya got one hit with her unarmed strike but otherwise missed. Elderron gave her a hand and shot three scorching rays at it, hitting twice. Then he moved so he was not in cone of cold formation.

Captain Silversmile got a solid hit on the one he and Marxine had been fighting, dropping it!

Elderron’s move away proved to be prescient because the one remaining oni, the one on Vinya, cast a cone of cold that caught Vinya, Elama, Marxine, and Captain Silversmile. The Captain and Elama were both dropped by it.

Vinya: You bastard!!

Aldalomiel moved her hunters’ mark to the one oni left and shot it twice, dropping it!!

Vinya: We need a healer or a cleric! Captain Silversmile needs help!

We stabilized Lamie and the Captain with the healer’s kit and about the time we had done that, some people started showing up -- guardsmen and a cleric or two from the guest dwarf hold were the first to arrive. They were followed shortly after by other guests in the Torm (because we were in the common/guest area so they were closest). Once the clerics were helping Lamie and the Captain, we checked out the guards -- they were both beyond saving with the only spell we could muster (revivify). We hoped that the guards or the stronghold itself would be able to raise money to have them raised. The dead civilians would have to be raised (or not) by their own people.

Lamie and the Captain were healed and gotten back on their feet before the Torm Brinnom guards arrived.

Captain Silversmile agreed that those four should account for all of the oni in the city. (We knew there were seven from Rajalmin’s letter, which talked about paying them 10,000gold each, for a total of 70,000. We killed two in Tanlot’s council room at the Stonebright stronghold. The Turnstone guards killed one there. With the four dead here in the street, that was all seven.

We asked the Captain what he knew about rakshasa. He told us that rakshasa live in the Hells and are derived from devils, but are sort of their own thing.

Captain Silversmile said that he understood the Council would be meeting on the issue this afternoon. We went back to the guardhouse to wait, with blankets (because we were all still chilled from the cone of cold), cocoa, brandy, and a chance to take a short rest.

After a couple of hours, we went with Captain Silversmile to the Council Room in the Ironbeards’ clanhold. Captain Silversmile gave a good summation of the situation with the oni and how they had been the source of the mysterious disappearances over the last 30 years or so. Tylrok Hammerhammer talked about the rakshasa connection and that the oni had been hired as mercenaries to take on this job. The Council agreed that we would be rewarded for our efforts on behalf of Torm Brinnom.

The Council also said that they were going to discuss, in private, asking us to help them with the rakshasa Rajalmin.

Captain Silversmile said that one of the oni had killed Jarek Turnstone and that there was no evidence that pointed to Ullard Stonebright. King Ironbeard commanded the Turnstone and Silversmile clans to use that information and come to a resolution of their feud that is mutually agreeable.

Vinya: Mutually agreeable and that recognizes that Ullard Silversmile is actually innocent of Jarek’s murder. That’s important.

The king nodded at that, which Vinya didn’t feel entirely comfortable with.

We ended in the Council Meeting.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 24: Traveling with a Silver Dragon

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)/Druid
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)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

25 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 86) (immediately after)

As the Torm Brinnom Clan Council meeting about the innocence of Ullard Stonebright, the oni, Rajalmin, and all the disruptions the oni caused wound down, we decided to go for a walk around the stronghold -- just getting a vibe-check on the city. Ullard decided to come with us.

There was a little buzz in the air, because we’d fought the oni right in the streets of the common area of the stronghold.

We decided to go to the Adamant Gorgon, where we’d visited our first night here and met with the hill dwarf, Lorto Strongaxe, Arl Stormfist, and Quipperwhill the gnome. There were plenty of people in the bar who’d seen us fighting the oni -- so we got our dinner for free. We heard a bit of buzz and talk about the civilians who had gotten flash frozen by the oni’s cone of cold and the funeral arrangements that were being made. There was also some concern for the guards who got flash frozen -- but the consensus was that money to raise them would come from the council, because they were killed in the line of duty.

We found Lorto Strongaxe in the crowd.

Lorto: Hey, heroes! How are you?
Elderron: Good
Vinya: It feels weird celebrating -- there’s still a lot of emotional shit that’s still stirred up.

We talked for a bit about Ullard being innocent and Captain Strongaxe on the boat from Lonoj to Tuntorla suspecting him. Vinya asked Lorto to help get the word about Ullard out to the Strongaxes and other visiting hill dwarves in Torm Brinnom (and Strongaxes outside of Torm Brinnom).

Lorto, to Ullard: If you stay here, word will spread pretty quickly.
Vinya: Ullard, what are your plans?
Ullard: Stay here. There are always businesses that can use a clerk.

The vibe check on the bar seemed to suggest that people were still processing what is happening.

We asked about the elf and the gnome that two of the oni had been disguised as but no one recognized them when we described them. They apparently had disguised themselves as just random people moving through the city, so no one would know. There are still some people who were oni who we haven’t identified yet, but the stronghold will figure that out.

We headed back to the Stonebright clanhold to rest.

26 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 87) (immediately after)

(Note: We woke up at 7th level.)

We breakfasted with in the dining room where we’d eaten with Ullard and his cousins. While we were eating, Ullard showed up with five pouches.

Ullard: Way back when, I said I’d pay you 100gp each to escort me. The trip was far more hazardous than I expected. I didn’t expect you to clear my name. Especially not in a way that exposed such a threat to the fabric of the stronghold.
Vinya: We were happy to.
Ullard: You’ll be happier when you look inside.

While we were talking to him, Tanlot and Tylrok Hammerhammer, the sage, showed up.

Hammerhammer: I did some research. I believe that Rajalmin the Rakshasa is still in the Hells, but he clearly has some plan for getting here. My aunt killed him on this plane, so he can’t return unless he is specifically summoned.
Vinya: Could the oni have summoned him?
Elama: How did he talk to them?
Hammerhammer: He can get out of the Hells. He just can’t come here.
Vinya: So he could have hired the oni on a different plane, then they came here?
Elama: Can they do that?
Hammerhammer: Not innately, but with spells.
Elderron: If Rajalmin is in the Hells, how do we get to him?
Hammerhammer: If those oni didn’t have the wherewithal to summon him, and we don’t think they did, he had a plan to get here. You could look into that.
Vinya: Do you have a lead? I’m 100% in favor of no fiends, but he could come through anywhere, right?
Hammerhammer: There are two cities with extensive libraries of magical knowledge here on Urnod.
Vinya: We need to go to New Arvai anyway -- we’ve got that book to deliver from Jamil to the Library of the World.
Elama: Aren’t these reshushers hard to kill?
Vinya: Rakshasa. Did your aunt tell any stories?
Hammerhammer: She said that low-level magic just didn’t work at all. But they had some very good and heroic people in her party. They appeared to take extra damage from piercing weapons wielded by those heroic people. They are immune to many things and hard to track down -- but one thing that can help in finding them is that they are quite hedonistic.
Elama: I have this new spell that will let me send something back to its home plane.
Hammerhammer: My aunt’s group tried that and didn’t have a lot of luck. You need to do research at an actual library -- that’s all I know.
Elama: What can we learn at a library? We can’t just look up “where is Rajalmin”?
Hammerhammer: A library may tell you where he’s been or where he might have contacts. You might find the names of people he’s dealt with.

Marxine pulled her divination card out of her pouch and looked at it -- it showed her on a snowy path with a dragon shadow over the path.

Vinya, looking at the card: That nice silver dragon’s grandmother had some issues with the Tundra Queen.

We turned back to Hammerhammer.

Hammerhammer: I might be able to get you somewhere.
Elama: We need to go to Lonoj.
Hammerhammer: I’ll have to call in a favor, but I’ll get on that. It’ll take a few days.
Vinya: Isn’t the spring equinox soon -- we can’t leave before then because it’ll just make the Stone Giants unhappy to have us in their territory.
Hammerhammer: Yes. Come talk to me after the festival. I should have something arranged for you then.

After this conversation, we looked in the pouches that Ullard had given each of us: 100 platinum pieces were in the pouches. Ten times the amount we’d contracted for. Tanlot pointed out that this money was thanks from the entire Stonebright clan and Torm Brinnom.

With three days of downtime, and then a festival to enjoy, we asked about a magic shop and spells for Elderron. And maybe an armorer where Marxine could get some full plate.

We went first to the armorer and arranged to have armor made for Marxine. It would be ready in time for the festival.

Vinya spent some of the downtime talking to people asking if they knew anything about what the Stone Giants would be doing during the equinox. No one had any details, but they said it seemed semi-druidic. And also like they were trying to call back their gods, because they don’t seem to be convinced that it just won’t work.

Vinya: Or they think that it doesn’t hurt to try. I totally understand that.

We sold the crystals that we found on the way up to Torm Brinnom -- Elderron and Elama sold all of the ones they’d collected. Vinya sold two and kept the one we’d used as our fake gem of seeing.

We spent some time shopping -- Aldalomiel was looking for a bow, or maybe a way to store arrows. She found two magical bows. One doubled the longbow range (which is already huge). The other, three times a day, a target hit by it has to save versus faerie fire. (It regains all charges at dawn.) Elama bought a helm of detect thoughts. Elderron was tempted by a ring of mind shielding, which seemed like a good counter-point to the helm of detect thoughts. Vinya bought a silk glove, described by the shopkeeper as a Glove of Starting Something (when worn on the dominant hand as an action you can slap someone across the face and cast compelled duel). She also bought a small geode that would let her get back 3 ki points once a day. (The command word is in dwarvish, so Marxine is going to have to help her with pronunciation.)

Elderron got a scroll of protection from fiends from Hammerhammer and spent some time learning dimension door at his place.

Vinya also spent some time helping the Stonebrights decorate for the Feast of Rain. Elama went around annoying people with the helm of detect thoughts.

Feast of Rain (Campaign day 92)

We enjoyed the feasting and the celebration. This spring festival is, in part, celebrated with people making declarations of love.

1 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 93)

The day after the festival, while we were at breakfast, Captain Silversmile came into the dining room.

Elderron: Hello, Captain.
Vinya: Hi!
Captain: Good morning! There is someone standing outside Torm Brinnom asking for you. He says he’d come in but understands that he’d have to shapeshift to do that, but we probably don’t want that. I told him yeah, we appreciated that.
Elderron: Who do we know who shapechanges?
Vinya: Tultorla the silver dragon said she’d be able to when she got bigger.

Our curiosity piqued, we went to the gate to Torm Brinnom to see who was waiting. The first person we met was Tylrok Hammerhammer.

Hammerhammer: My favor has arrived. I didn’t expect it to be so dramatic.

Outside the gate we saw a silver dragon, larger than Tultorla and somewhat shinier. We mentioned having made friends with Tultorla on our way up here. He said that he was her cousin, Alinmorax. When he got our names, he realized who we are.

Alinmorax, to Hammerhammer: We owe them. Your debt is not discharged. Thanks for thinking of us.
Vinya: Can you take us to Lonoj?
Alinmorax: That shouldn’t be a problem. My grandmother has teleportation circles widespread.
Vinya: Oh! I thought you were going to fly us there!
Alinmorax: I forgot my howdah.
Vinya: I worry about Tultorla and those things coming for her again.
Alinmorax: She’ll learn how to deal with them.
Vinya: But the Tundra Queen has other agents.
Alinmorax: That is true. She now knows to be alert.
Vinya: Do you know what the beef is between her and the Tundra Queen?
Alinmorax: I don’t know what grandmother did, but the Tundra Queen did not take it well.
Vinya: Given the lifespans we’re talking about, it doesn’t even have to have been something recent.
Alinmorax: They’ve never liked each other. But this is recent.

We asked him if we could take a little bit of time to say our goodbyes in Torm Brinnom and he said that wouldn’t be a problem.

We went back to the Stonebrights -- we thanked Tanlot and told Ullard that we were leaving, but if he needed us he could get in touch and we’d help him. We went and thanked Captain Silversmile.

Then we left and joined Alinmorax. We walked with him until we were out of sight of the stronghold.

Alinmorax: We can go to Lonoj. We’ll show up in a bar there.
Vinya: I hope it’s not that fern bar.

As she was saying that, Alinmorax folded himself in some until he was in the form of a human male in his mid-20s.

He started drawing the teleportation circle. Ten minutes later, we stepped through the circle into the back room of a bar. We could hear a raucous happy crowd outside.

Alinmorax held the door to the bar open for us and we stepped through into the bar. It was Smolly’s!!

Vinya: Best place in town!

Smolly saw us coming out of the back room with Alinmorax behind us and trotted over.

Smolly: I didn’t know you had dealings with the Gleaming Dame!
Vinya: We met her granddaughter on the way to Torm Brinnom.

Vinya recognized the moniker The Gleaming Dame -- she was an ancient dragon during the Fiend Wars. She was known for being reckless and liking a good scrap during the Fiend Wars and for a few hundred years later. For the last few hundred years, when people meet and interact with her, they don’t talk about it much. She seems to be keeping a low profile. Her lair is in the Icerasps.

Alinmorax, when Vinya mentioned that: Grandmother doesn’t mean it as impersonally as it sounds when she says adventurers are the best investment she could make. She feels she can do more good that way.
Vinya: She can expand her reach and have parties in multiple places, where she can only be in one place.
Alinmorax: She hasn’t been personally active on Erkonin in a while.
Elama: Maybe she can help us with the prison break heist in the Feywild.
Alinmorax: Who’s in the Feywild?
Elama: A friend being held...though we don’t really know she’s being held against her will, do we?
Vinya: We just know that she’s in Castle Dante.
Alinmorax: :🤦:
Vinya: Well, if we find out our friend is being held against her will, we may consult with her about the jailbreak. But that’s a future project.
Marxine: There’s also this fiend thing. Since she was active in the Fiend Wars she might be able to help there.
Vinya: Yeah. Alinmorax, do you know anything about any specific rakshasas?
Elama: Reshusher.
Alinmorax: I’ve come across one. They’re not real pleasant.
Vinya: Do you know the name of the one you encountered?
Alinmorax: I didn’t have any way to hurt him, so I was scrambling to get away. I didn’t have time to get his name. You’re going to need to hit him with powerful magic and magical weapons.

We finished our drinks and told Alinmorax that if he, Tultorla, or the Gleaming Dame needed our assistance, to please contact us. We like to help our friends.

We then left Smolly’s and went to pick up the bulette shields from Gimarul Hammerhammer. Marxine and Elama each bought one. The shields are blank on the front, ready for decoration with holy symbols, rather than Hammerhammer’s crossed hammer emblem.

(Later, when we were back in the inn, Vinya painted crossed lightning bolts on the front of Elama’s shield.)

We went then to the docks to arrange passage to New Arvai. We’re not expected to work on the ship, but we will be expected to help defend the vessel if anything attacks. Our fare to New Arvai was reduced on the strength of that expectation. We were going to be leaving in a couple of days and the ship captain wanted us to pay the 20gp fare (per person) half now and half on arrival.

Vinya and Elama went ahead and paid the full amount so we wouldn’t have to remember to pay later.

Having arranged passage to our next destination, we went to Smolly’s cousin’s magic item shop. Vinya and Elderron each got a healing potion. Elama got a ring of warmth.

Then we went to see Captain Toris, who was reasonably happy to see us. He didn’t have any work for us, but he appreciated us swinging by to offer assistance for the few days before our boat was going to leave.

We went shopping in Facet Square for some warm weather clothes. Elama got something nice and fashionable looking. Vinya got a sleeveless gi.

2 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 94)

Another quiet day of downtime montage.

3 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 95)

We got to the port in time to get on our boat, The Emmerson, and meet Captain Siltreen, a human male in his 30s.

Vinya: How long will this trip take?
Captain Siltreen: Ten days.

We boarded the boat.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 25: Sailing to New Arvai

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)/Druid
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)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

3 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 95) (immediately after)

We boarded our boat, the Emerson, and started sailing down the river to New Arvai. He said the river might be running strong so the trip might be a little quicker than he thought -- nine to ten days.

As we left the port, Vinya found herself a spot to hang out on deck where she could watch things go by, as did Elama, Aldalomiel and Elderron. Marxine went below decks where she didn’t have to think about the water too much.

The day passed smoothly. As we were just settling into first watch -- with Elama, Vinya and Marxine doing circuits on deck and Elderron and Aldalomiel resting below -- Marxine got a strong sense, thanks to the flail of warning, that something was coming from the starboard side of the ship, right off the bow. So she moved to that side of the ship and had her axe at the ready. Vinya saw Marxine’s movements and that she had her weapon readied, which was the first thing that put her on alert, but she was at the far end of the boat.

As she and Elama were watching, three things -- looking like dark, thick, reddish, viscous goo came up over the side of the ship. One of them headed toward the undefended helmsman, one moved toward Elama and one moved close to Marxine. She attacked the one going for the helmsman with her readied attack, but it was so liquid that it didn’t offer much resistance to her axe.

It turned away from the helmsman and toward attacking her, stopping in its movement (yay!) and shaping its gooey puddle shape into a humanoid thing that tried to embrace Marxine.

Marxine: I do not like the Goo Man!

The other one on Marxine hit her -- damaging her and grappling and restraining her. But at least it stayed in goo form.

Elama watched the ooze in front of her form itself into a humanoid and had a similar reaction. It also attempted to embrace her, but it missed.

Elama then cast a spiritual weapon on the one that was grappling Marxine, hitting it with her spiritual lightning cloud. She then used her sword to attack the one in front of her -- even with a magical sword, the goo offered little resistance to her weapon.

Vinya ran from the back of the boat past Elama, yelling for Elderron and Aldalomiel and for the helmsman to get belowdecks. Then she punched the one grappling Marxine twice, hitting one time. Then she did a flurry of blows and hit again. Fortunately her punches did normal damage.

Elderron, hearing that the commotion was on deck near the bow, came up through a hatch at the rear of the ship and cast blight (making it do fire damage and have an intelligence save because loremasters are awesome that way). It did a lot of fiery damage to the one on Marxine.

Marxine ignored the grapple and attacked with her maul, hitting twice on the one on her. Then she surged and attacked again, hitting one more time and dropping it into an explosion of nasty goo. With her final attack from the action surge, she turned and attacked the other one, but missed because of the residue of the goo man.

(John: They die like a melon in a Gallagher show.)

That one then attacked Marxine and embraced her -- grappling her and restraining her once again.

The one on Elama did the same thing -- embracing her with goo arms, grappling and restraining her and doing a fair amount of damage. Elama did her retributive strike on it, hitting it with lightning damage. She then followed up with a spiritual weapon hit on the new one grappling Marxine and a sacred flame on the one grappling herself.

Aldalomiel, like Elderron, came up from below at the rear hatch. She put her hunter’s mark on the one on Elama and shot at it with her sling, doing a lot of damage and killing it. It also exploded in a gooey nasty mess.

Vinya moved between the one on Marxine and the helmsman, who’d been trying to secure the helm so he could go below, and attacked it with punches and another flurry of blows, once again getting two hits out of it. Elderron cast a lightning bolt on the one that was left, making it have an intelligence save again (because how smart can goo men really be) but it did succeed at its save.

Marxine attacked it from within the embrace, hitting only once but hard enough to explode the goo.

We asked Elderron (as the smartest among us) if he had any idea what those things were, but he doesn’t think he’s heard of them. We could smell the coppery metallic smell of blood around where the goo was spattered (and on our gooey selves). Ew.

Vinya, to the helmsman: Have you seen these things before? Does this happen often?
Helmsman: Weird stuff happens on this river. But I’ve never seen THAT weird thing before in all my years.
Marxine: What’s normal weird?
Helmsman: Floating boulders. Strange weather.

Aldalomiel and Elderron returned to their rest. Vinya spent the rest of the watch staying close to the helmsman, so he wouldn’t be so unprotected in case of another attack.

Elama cast control water and gave everyone who had gotten mucked by the exploding goo men a shower to clean the bloody gunk off.

The rest of the night passed without incident.

4 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 96)

Before breakfast the next morning, we saw a ship a little bit smaller than the Emerson that appeared to have run aground. There were people scurrying around on it. The Emerson drew up alongside and before we really knew what was happening, they dropped a gang plank across, then things went weird.

We learned that a bandit captain and a group of bandits had attacked this boat, killed all of the crew, and were ransacking the boat. They crossed over the gangplank to the Emerson and we dispatched them summarily.

(Note: The GM didn’t make us play out this fight because he said we’d just mop the floor with them.)

We fought them off the Emerson and the ship that had run around, Akonel’s GIft. Then we investigated the ship -- there was quite a bit of cargo on it. Captain Siltrene claimed the cargo and said that he thought it would cover our fare to New Arvai. Akonel’s Gift was also going to New Arvai and probably had come through (if not from) Lonoj. Shortly before nightfall, we saw a ship heading in that direction, we sent word back to the harbormaster there about the ship’s fate (and that it was on that sandbar as a potential salvage) in hopes that word would get to the families of the people aboard.

At dinner that night, Captain Siltrene told us he was happy to have us on the ship.

The night passed without incident.

5 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 97)

The next morning after breakfast we saw another wreck on the other side of the river -- but this one is old and very familiar. Vinya remembers seeing it on both of her previous trips on the river. We sailed past it.

Later in the day we maneuvered around a ferry crossing the river.

But otherwise the day passed without incident. As did the night.

6 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 98)

Mid-morning, we sailed past a cliff-face with a dragon skull visible, like it was embedded in the cliff and was eroding out of it. Vinya made a drawing of it as we went by.

That evening, after dinner, we started sailing toward a small port village on the river -- we saw smoke rising and things didn’t look okay at all. We asked if Captain Siltrene could drop us off there and then maybe have the Emerson wait in the middle of the river so that whatever was going on in the city couldn't get to the ship. The captain agreed to that and we were left on the dock.

Marxine: It looks like it might be gnolls.

We entered the village and saw three standing buildings near the dock and the burned out remains of other buildings beyond them. There were some corpses among the buildings and Elama went to check on those with Vinya and Elderron accompanying her.

Marxine used her new paladin sense for undead, fiends, and celestials and ran around the village as fast as she could trying to cover as much of it as possible while she was still detecting those things. Aldalomiel stayed back by the dock with her bow ready, keeping an eye on all of us.

Elama found that the bodies had been chewed on by something with a human sized mouth. About the time that she figured that out Marxine sensed something undead in one of the houses, but moving in our direction. She realized that the undead thing was underground and moving under the ground.

It stopped about ten feet in front of her -- not deep underground. She shouted to get our attention.

Marxine: Things are not good here. There’s something right there.

She had the sense that it wasn’t far underground and close enough to her that it was planning to emerge and try to grab her.

Aldalomiel moved up so she was near to the spot Marxine was pointing at and held a bowshot. Elama cautiously moved to about 15 feet away and readied a sacred flame spell for something that emerged. Elderron moved away from the corpses and the buildings, into something like a square or courtyard in the village and readied a scorching ray. Vinya moved closed and dodged

Marxine hit the ground a couple of times with her axe, trying to hit it under the ground, but she didn’t hit it.

At that moment, a corpse-looking thing with dripping pustules emerged from the ground and attacked Vinya. Aldalomiel’s held shot missed. Elama’s sacred flame burned across its skin with a holy fire while two beams from Elderron’s scorching ray burned it with more fiery fire.

It hit Vinya with one fist, but missed with the other fist and with a bite.

Aldalomiel then shot at it again. She used her new magical bow’s special ability to put a faerie fire on it and shot it twice. Vinya attacked with her quarterstaff and hit it once, then she did a flurry of blow to elbow it and kick it in the knee. Both of those hit, and one was a critical hit. Elama cast a spiritual weapon and attacked it, hitting nicely, then she did another sacred flame. Elderron cast another scorching ray and hit with all three of the rays, thanks to the faerie fire.

Marxine realized that this thing had an aura that weakened her. It weakened all of us but she was the only one of us who was really affected by it (because she’s the only one who fights based on strength).

Marxine: My buddy, you gotta die.

And with that she hit it with her axe and dropped it.

Elama started building a pyre, under Aldalomiel’s protective watch, while Elderron, Marxine and Vinya looked at the corpses of the villagers. Some of the corpses appeared to have been diseased. We thought that perhaps a plague had come through. We found a graveyard -- it was clear that something had dug its way out of one of the graves. It seemed that some of the dead had passed from the plague, others had fatal wounds. And it’s quite possible that this one undead had been the source of both. We also noticed holes around the village -- like rat holes but large enough for that undead to have come up through them.

There were no survivors in the village. We guessed that the buildings had been burned by someone trying to clear the house, or maybe trying to burn a house with the monster in it.

Marxine lays hands on Elama, who then goes to talk to Captain Siltrine. She tells him that we’ve encountered some sort of undead related plague. We were planning to stay on shore overnight, until Elama could cast detect poison and disease on us all. The captain agreed that he didn’t want us on the Emerson until we’d been cured. He agreed to wait in the middle of the river for us until morning.

We camped in the middle of the village square in a tiny hut and the night passed without incident.

7 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 99)

The next morning, Elama’s spell said that we were all disease free. We went back to the Emerson. Captain Siltrene was happy to have our un-diseased selves back on board.

Once we were back on the boat, Elama ritually cast the spell again -- she was curious about whether alcohol would show up as a poison (it does) and which of the sailors had which kind of pox (there were none). Also, none of the sailors were so drunk as to show up as poisoned.

Around lunchtime, we passed a flattened hilltop with a temple on top. We added it to our list of interesting places to come back and visit. Captain Siltrene, who’s sailed by it many many times, understands that it was a temple to a deity of the hunt or woodlands, but he doesn’t know that for sure. Obviously it’s pre-Severance and from well before the Fiend Wars.

But it was too far away for the ship to stop and us to investigate, so we’ll just have to come back. Which Vinya definitely doesn’t want to do.

The rest of the day and the night passed.

8 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 100)

About the middle of the day, we passed a very large, giant-scale, very old structure. We could only see a part of it from the river, because it was on a hill. It was shaped like a star-shaped bastion fort, but the hill below the fort had been shaped to match the shape of the fort.

We asked a crewperson about it.

Crew: We know it’s there. I’ve talked to a passenger who had gotten close to the ruin. He said that it looked like the hill had been deliberately shaped to the shape of the fort.
Marxine: It’s not dwarf construction. If it’s a giant structure it might have a gate or portals in it, like the fomorian place we were in before.

We sailed on and the rest of the day and the night passed quietly.

9 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 101)

The day passed quietly. During the second watch, though, Elderron, Aldalomiel and Elama were on watch on deck. The night was stormy and thundery, which made Lamie happy.

Elderron and Aldalomiel were surprised when something attacked Lamie, though Lamie herself wasn’t surprised. She was attacked by a female-looking thing with a big mouth and a whirlwind for legs. The monster missed with its scary looking bite and one of its claws. It did hit with the other claw, though, which gave Elama an opportunity to do her retributive strike. The lightning danced around the whirlwind thing but did no damage at all. It laughed.

Elama: No! No! This is the part where you fall down.

She then cast thunderwave and the monster continued to laugh.

Vinya, woken by the thunderwave, came up the forward hatch and fired off two radiant sunbolts, then summoned her ki and fired off a couple more. Unfortunately they all missed. Aldalomiel shot with her bow to do a ferie fire - she was only able to hit once but that was enough to get her faerie fired.

Marxine came up the aft hatch and threw two hand axes at the thing -- hitting her twice. Despite her axes not being magical they appeared to hit with full strength.

Elderron backed off a ways and cast blight on the monster, changing the safe to dexterity rather than constitution. It had some effect for sure.

In response the monster cast SOMETHING on Elderron -- she blew a kiss in his direction and he was hit by a lightning bolt for a huge amount of damage. Then she flew through the forward hatch and into the interior of the boat.

Elama ran and dove down the hatch and quickly cast banishment on the monster. The monster briefly looked confused then she disappeared.

Elama: Get down here. She’ll be back in a minute.

We all went below decks. We got the sailors out of the way and Elderron created a minor illusion of a wooden crate to hide behind, then we waited for her to return. Except she didn’t.

While we were waiting Elderron realized that she was a kind of fey called an Ala -- they are storm fey and they eat people.

And she wasn’t going to be coming back, because she’d been banished back to her home plane, the Feywild.

The rest of the night passed.

We will begin next time after a long rest.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 26: Library and Lobster

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)/Druid
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)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

9 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 101)

The day dawned warmer and clear after the stormy night and stormy fight with the ala the night before. The boat sailed down the river toward New Arvai uneventfully all day and all night.

10 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 102)

The day passed uneventfully until just after sunset. At that point, we saw not far from the river an old abandoned tower that was broken at the top and about fifty feet deep in rubble all around There was a cliff on the other side of the tower that had let go and slid down and engulfed the tower, but not knocked it over, in the landslide.

The tower was clearly not occupied and was human-scale.

Vinya asked someone on the crew and they said that a wizard had set up the tower there. About a hundred and fifty or so years ago, boats traveling the river saw this -- they didn’t know if some magical experiment had gone badly and caused the landslide, if there was an earthquake, or what might have happened.

Vinya added it to her map of interesting places.

The night passed without incident.

11 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 103)

Around noon on this day the Emerson had to maneuver around a new wreck in the river that was partly impinging on the ability of boats to travel safely. (The wrecked boat had run aground on a sandbar in an awkward position.)

We talked about working to try and shift it to make passage down the river smoother, but Captain Siltrene said we could just tell the harbormaster in New Arvai about it and they’d send someone out to deal with it. Possibly a class of wizarding students from one of the college could use the destruction of the boat as a class project.

And in fact, later in the day just about sunset, we saw a boat heading up the river. Vinya asked if they were heading toward the wreck and was told that they were -- some of the more senior students were going to practice their skills moving the boat around then the underclass students were going to destroy it. We wished them luck and a good time.

The night passed.

12 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 104)

Around midday we arrived in New Arvai and pondered where to stay. Vinya wondered if maybe we could get put up at the Chiaroscuro Temple, where she’d trained as a monk, but we decided instead to go with Elama to the temple of the Seafarers and Wayfarers order of clerics. Elama isn’t a member, but they are religiously kindred spirits and she was able to arrange for a discounted rate at the large inn connected to the temple. They run the inn as part of their mission to provide assistance to travelers.

Having arranged for lodgings, we headed toward the School of the World -- taking a slight detour to stop by the Chiaroscuro Temple. The building appeared to be undergoing significant renovations, part of the roof was obviously new and the top of a corner of the building had scaffolding with some monks on it applying plaster to part of the wall.

Vinya asked for Belia and a violet-skinned tiefling woman came to the door shortly after. Vinya was greeted warmly and there was a short conversation.

Belia: How are you doing? You appear to be progressing in your studies. You chose the radiant path, I see. I am not surprised.
Vinya: I contemplated the question long and hard. Probably longer and harder than I needed to because I knew what my heart wanted. How go the repairs?
Belia: They’re going. We got the roof mostly fixed before the winter came.
Vinya: Has there been any more sign of Aerellor or the Zariel cultists?
Belia: None here. Have you any news?
Vinya: Not of that. We fought a lot of cultists of the Hunger Between Worlds but nothing of Zariel.

They spoke for a few more minutes then Vinya told Belia where the party was staying and said we’d be in town for a while and she’d come around to visit for longer, perhaps do some training to make sure she was staying on the proper path.

As we walked away, she explained to the rest of the party that toward the end of her training at the Temple, a cabal of Zariel cultists working within the Chiaroscuro Temple had been rooted out and many had escaped and fled out of the city.

At the front desk of the Library of the School of the World, just as one of the attendants was about to ask us to pay to enter the library, Vinya pulled out the package we’d been carrying since we left Erlin.

Attendant: Admittance is 300 gold pieces per person per day or...
Vinya, setting the package on the counter: We have a delivery for the head librarian. It’s from Jamil, the sage in Erlin.
Attendant, slightly flustered: I’ll go talk to Elledrian. He’s the head librarian.

He then disappeared down a corridor and around a corner. A few minutes later we saw an elf stick his head around the corner. When he saw us, he ducked back. The attendant returned to us.

Attendant, looking confused: I’ll take your package to Elledrian. He doesn’t wish to interact with so many elves.
Elderron: I don’t blame him.
Marxine: Me neither.

He took the package and went back down the corridor and around the corner. He returned several minutes later.

Attendant: Elledrian thanks you for bringing the book and indulging his eccentricities regarding meeting you personally. In thanks, he will grant you two free person-days in the library. You can take those as one day for two people or two days for one person. As it is late in the afternoon, I recommend you return in the morning rather than wasting a day on the few remaining hours we’ll be open.
Vinya: As a group, we have wide ranging interests and questions. Can you help us with how to most strategically approach our research, so we can make the most of our time when we return tomorrow?
Attendant: What are you interested in researching?
Vinya, consulting with the others as she spoke: Rakshasas in general, one named Rajalmin in specific, dragons in general, the dragon called the Blue Death, Sossonosssomething, and the Gleaming Dame in specific, and anything about Castle Dante in the Feywild and how it’s laid out or how one would get into it.

They said that research librarians would be available to assist with finding both the general and specific information that we were looking for, but that was definitely going to be at least two full days of research.

We then left. Elama wanted to find theater and food and some fun and excitement and we all agreed that sounded like a nice way to spend the evening.

On the way to finding that, Vinya let the group get ahead a bit and stopped at the Chiaroscuro Temple again.

Vinya: Have you heard anything from Thorin?
Belia: I have not and it concerns me.
Vinya: I’ve been told that he might be somewhere far away. Not even on this plane, perhaps. He has to go where he’s assigned. I was just...hoping.

Then she caught up with her friends and we had a nice evening. We returned to the Seafarers and Wayfarers Temple early so that Elderron could get a good night’s sleep and be up at the crack of dawn to go to the library.

13 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 105)

The next morning, we were all up very early and we all went to the library together. We decided that our two free days would be used by Elderron and Aldalomiel. Aldalomiel could do the research into dragons and Castle Dante. Elderron would be looking into the rakshasa and the hells and devils.

Elderron: I’ll pay to get in again tomorrow.
Vinya: I’ll happily pay for you -- you need to spend your money on learning spells and suchlike. I just need to buy a new quarterstaff and a spare gi or two once in a while.

This was not totally settled, though Vinya has no intention of letting Elderron pay for himself to get into the library.

We walked with them from the reception desk to the entrance to the library proper.

Some librarians were available to assist each of them. The ones assigned to assist Elderron seemed a bit more senior and a bit more serious -- because the library, indeed the city, indeed all of Erkonin, have learned to be a bit paranoid about people doing research into devils and the hells. Team Library, led by Elderron who looked like he never wanted to leave, went through the doors into the library to do their research.

The rest of the party, Marxine, Vinya, and Elama, headed out into the city to see if they could drum up some work or an adventure or something exciting we could do or help with, becoming Team Finding Trouble.

Elderron learned about rakshasa in general. They are hedonists, which can be helpful when trying to find them, and they like to eat people. They can disguise themselves so they can be hard to spot when living among humanoids. Spells of less than sixth level simply don’t work against them. Neither do non-magical weapons.

He also got a line on more specific information about Rajalmin, but it will take another day of research to nail that down.

Aldalomiel started out by looking into how to get into and out of the Feywild. She learned that traveling in the Feywild is challenging because it shifts and changes -- the path from one place to another may vary from day to day, or even not go to those places when travelled at another time. (So perhaps going straight into Castle Dante might be the best choice.) She also looked into why the fey nobles might take someone from Erkonin into the Feywild -- if they do that it is to gain power or to make a move in some complicated plot or counterplot against some other fey noble. Regarding the Dante family of fey nobles -- the Dantes include some very viciously mean nobles and some kind ones. The Walking Man, Falaggo, is a Dante.

Castle Dante is big and crazy and basically a castle version of the Winchester House.

Aldalomiel looked into whether deals with the fey nobles could result in someone being taken to the Feywild, either deals gone well or poorly. The answer to that seemed to be that it was possible for that to happen. She tried to see if there was any mention of Lothiriel’s family making such a deal, but found nothing.

She also learned that fey nobles of the younger generation -- such as the Academician or the Keeper of Secrets or the Peaceful Conqueror (these names don’t really mean anything to her, except someone mentioned the Keeper of Secrets as possibly the source of the true information at the well) who aren’t Dantes detest the Dantes. Which is potentially interesting, though the only fey noble we’ve met has been Falaggo, the Walking Man.

While Elderron and Aldalomiel were learning all of these things, Team Finding Trouble headed toward the guardhouse. Marxine was a little skeptical of this approach, but Vinya figured there might be a job board there of things that the guard was seeking outside assistance in dealing with. Or that there might be some work that the captain of the guard would be willing to give us.

We did find a board where people could post requests for help, when help could not be gotten from the guard themselves. Marxine and Lamie noticed that there were a large numbers of postings looking for missing people in the Stormyside area of town. In fact there were more of these postings than there was room on the board for -- some of them were pinned up over older notices about people who were missing.

Elama grabbed a passing guard.

Lamie: How come there are 50 bazillion missing person reports here?
Guard, hurrying along without stopping: Ask at the guardhouse.

We headed in that direction, looking for someone to talk to. Inside, we saw a young halfling woman at a counter. She did not in any way look like a guard.

Lamie: Why are there so many missing person reports on the board outside.
Halfling: We can’t handle everything. Not even close. If we can’t help, sometimes people post on the board out of desperation. We’re understaffed and underfunded -- that’s why the gangs and the cabals have free rein.

We turned to leave, planning to gather up some of the notices.

Hafling: Do you want to talk to Chief Longroot?
Vinya: Sure! Let’s do that.
Marxine: ::eyeroll::

Chief Longroot was a sturdy halfling woman in armor with a short sword on her belt.

Chief: How can I help you?
Vinya: We’re here in town for a bit -- some of our friends are doing research at the library. We’re looking for something we can do, or something we can help out with. Do you know anything about the many disappearances that are on the board outside?
Chief: A little bit. It seems like most of the people have disappeared after doing some business with the Green Hand.
Vinya: The gang, the Green Hand?
Chief: Yeah, they specialize in vice. The disappearances don’t seem to be centered around any specific place -- beyond mostly being in Stormyside. Most of the people involved are financially sort of on the margins, but that’s true of most everyone in that part of town. Most of the people had jobs, but maybe weren’t making much more than just barely enough to live on.
Vinya: Is it okay with you if we look into this?
Chief: We appreciate the help from outside. We get so little from inside.
Marxine: Are rich people getting abducted and ransomed and the poor people just can’t afford the ransoms?
Chief: I haven’t heard anything about abductions in the wealthier parts of town. And I probably would have.
Vinya: Can you think of a better approach than grabbing some of the recent notices and going and talking to people?
Chief: It’s what I’d do if I had the manpower.

Chief Longroot gave us a little bit of information about the gangs that had a lot of power in town and their particular areas of influence: Darkeye's (information); The Green Hand (vices); Stonetongues' (magic); The Silent (transport); New Power (property crimes); Copperfeet (money and bribery); The Soft Touch (violence).

So we grabbed five of the most recent (least weathered) notes and headed to Stormyside, in the southern part of the city, where the river flows into the ocean.

The first note we looked at had as a contact a person named Tordray Embranch, so we found our way to the place listed on the note and spoke to him. He told us that his sister, Ardvay, had gone missing.

Elama: We’re going to be looking into that. When was she last seen?
Tordray: She had been working at Tilla’s and she didn’t come back from her shift.
Elama: What does she do?
Tordray, emphatic: She works behind the bar. Not upstairs.
Elama: What kind of business is it?
Tordray: The first floor is a bar. Upstairs is a brothel. She worked on the first floor.
Vinya: When was she last seen?
Tordray: Three days ago. She left Tilla’s and didn’t get home.
Vinya: Where’s Tilla’s?
Tordray: A fifteen minute walk from here. On the edge of Woodyard.

We thanked him and headed to the contact person listed on the next notice in the stack we had. We found a young, pregnant tiefling named Sunrise Clear. She told us that her husband, Brightwater, was a sailor on a ship that had just returned from Dhaqi, on the southern continent. He should have been home three days ago. He got off the ship and was coming home but never arrived.

Vinya: Could he have stopped at a bar or something on the way after such a long sail?
Sunrise Clear: Maybe -- but I asked his shipmates and they said he was coming straight home. Hurrying. Because he’d been afraid he wouldn’t make it to New Arvai before our baby did.
Vinya: I can see he would rush home to you.

We thanked her, trying to be reassuring without promising anything.

Vinya, as we walked away: The docks are nowhere near the bar and her house is nowhere on the route that Ardvay would have taken from Tilla’s to her house.
Marxine: Yeah.

We decided to go talk to the captain of the ship that Brightwater had sailed on -- since the ship was still docked in the Shallows nearby. On our way there, we heard screaming and saw people running away from the docks looking scared.

Elama, to one of the fleeing people: What happened?
Person, in a panicked shriek: The lobsters are having their revenge!

With that intriguing comment, we ran toward where people were running from and saw a giant lobster-esque thing with an unmoving person in its claw.

Marxine got in there first, hitting the lobster-esque monster twice with her hammer. Elama moved to a position where she could see it and cast a sacred flame on it, which it was unable to dodge, giant lobster-esque monsters not being too nimble, apparently. Vinya ran in and attacked with her quarterstaff, hitting it twice in critical spots, then summoned her ki and did a flurry of blows, landing one more hit.

The lobster-esque monster dropped the civilian it was holding and attacked Marxine and Vinya, each with a claw. Marxine was hit and grappled by it. Vinya was missed.

The other civilians on the docks scattered out of the way of the monster.

Marxine hit it twice then surged with energy and attacked it again, getting another hit.

Elama moved closer and cast another sacred flame on it. From her closer vantage point, she was able to see that the civilian the lobster-esque monster had been holding didn’t appear to be dead. She managed to grab him from where he was laying on the ground and drag him a few yards away from the monster. Then she cast healing word on him -- his bruises healed up, but he still didn’t move, though he was clearly alive.

Vinya hit the monster with her quarterstaff again, another mighty critical hit that shattered its shell and dropped it.

Ten seconds after that the civilian drew a ragged breath then shrieked at the top of his lungs. As he was scrambling to get up and run away Vinya put what she hoped was a calming hand on him.

Vinya: It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re safe now.

Elama calmed him down even more.

Guy: What was that thing?
Elama: It was a giant lobster?
Vinya: Where did it come from?
Guy: The water.

We let him go then and took a closer look at the monster. It had four legs, gills, big snapping claws, tentacles, and a lobster-like tail. Lobster-esque but not really an enormous lobster. Vinya lived in New Arvai for a while, but has never heard of anything like this in the city. The three of us managed to pull together a bit of knowledge about the monster -- these things are connected to ancient, aquatic evil entities. They’re servitors, not masters. It clearly didn’t have any problem living or moving on land, so it is not dependent on an aquatic environment.

All of the missing people went missing at night -- the lobster-esque monster was active in the daytime.

We decided that this was the time to circle Aldalomiel and Elderron into this situation.

Elama sent a message to Elderron, using a sending spell.

Lamie: Lots of missing people down by the docks. We’re looking into it.
Elderron: Where can we meet?

Lamie cast the spell again.

Lamie: We’ll meet up back at the temple.
Marxine, listening to Elama’s side: We’ll meet up with the nerds at dinner.

We went back to the Seafarers and Wayfarers to wait. Elderron and Aldalomiel showed up just in time for dinner. Over dinner we filled them in on what we’d learned and the lobster-thing we’d fought.

Vinya suggested that we go out looking around in Stormyside to see if we could hear screaming or otherwise learn anything. We spent an hour on the docks, but they were quiet aside from what seemed to be normal stevedore-ing and longshoreman-ing activities. We decided to head to Tilla’s bar.

Tilla’s is not a high class bar/brothel, but they had drinks and we ordered beverages. We asked about Ardvay and were told that she was friendly with patrons, but worked strictly downstairs.

Vinya: Have the upstairs girls been going missing?
Dude: No. Fair question though.
Vinya: Have you seen anything like a lobster-esque monster?
Dude: Nothing like that around here. Maybe at other brothels.

We started to walk out then decided that maybe we needed to try to get in touch with the Green Hand, since Captain Longroot had the sense that the victims had been having dealings with them shortly before their disappearances. We turned around and went back and asked to talk to the person in charge of the upstairs activities.

We were introduced to Tilla, the madam.

Elama: Hello. We’re looking to get in touch with someone from the Green Hand about these people who have gone missing.
Tilla: I don’t know nothing about people who’ve gone missing or the Green Hand. But I can put you in touch with the person I pay rent to, Tomud Grennett.

Armed with that name and where we could contact him, we headed back to the Seafarers and Wayfarers to rest.

The night passed without incident.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 27: Those Poor Unfortunate Souls

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)/Druid
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)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

We ended the previous session taking a long rest -- we had been pointed to Tomud Grennett, the person with the Green Hand the madam at Tilla’s paid rent to and planned to go see that person.

14 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 106)

The next morning we put that plan into action. On the way we talked about how best to approach him -- Marxine suggested that we approach the conversation from the angle that we wanted to help them deal with a problem they might be facing.

We found Tomud at an establishment called the Simmering Poppy. There was an imposing goliath at the door.

Vinya, to Marxine: You want to handle this?
Marxine: Uh, yeah.

The doorman stopped us and we paid the door charge of 1gp per person.

Doorman: What’s your pleasure? I can direct you.
Vinya: What are our choices?
Doorman, confused: What are you here for?
Marxine: Where here to talk to someone.
Doorman: Who are you looking for?
Marxine: Tomud Grennett.
Doorman, raises eyebrow: Does he know you’re coming?
Marxine: Maybe. We were talking to Tilla last night.
Doorman: I’ll go see if he’s receiving visitors.

He was gone for several minutes.

Doorman: Mr. Grennett is in an observation room attached to his office.

He gave us directions to Mr. Grennett’s office and let us into the Simmering Poppy. Inside the place was an interesting warren -- the entrance went into a sort of mezzanine level -- there was a walkway looking over a large lower level that had all sorts of gambling. The wall around the walkway had many small rooms -- most of the doors were closed, the ones that were open were open to empty rooms. This had all the signs, including the smell, of an opium den, though we were pretty sure some of those small rooms also had prostitutes in them.

We followed the directions and found ourselves in an office that overlooks the gambling floor below. Tormud is very tall for a human, with very red hair. His office smelled of smoke and spice and as we got closer to it, he smelled even more strongly of it.

Tomud: Tilla hasn’t had trouble paying the rent. Why did she send you to me?
Marxine: Have you heard about the missing people associated with her?
Vinya: Well, missing all over Stormyside. We heard that many of them had connections to the Green Hand.
Tomud: It would be hard to find a person in Stormyside who wasn’t connected with us as employees or customers.
Vinya: That’s why we wanted to talk to you -- we figure these disappearances have got to be impacting your business. Maybe you’ve looked into it yourselves even. You might have some information for us. We’re trying to find the missing people and bring them home.
Tomud: Some people who report to me have mentioned it. The gentlewoman I report to hasn’t said anything. But I worry about her.
Vinya: In what way? If you don’t mind me asking.
Tomud: She’s young to be in her dotage, but she’s stopped caring about business and her usual interests.
Vinya: That seems unfortunate for someone in a leadership position in a major organization.
Tomud: Until someone steps up or into her place.

(Note: Aldalomiel noticed that he was totally sober despite all the opium being smoked elsewhere in the establishment. She also got the sense that he’s ambitious and capable of being ruthless -- but he’s being pretty straight with us right now.)

Vinya: You mentioned that some of your direct reports have said things. Did they have any useful information to point us in a direction?
Tomud: Near water. Yesterday was the first lobstrosity that’s come up -- but it seems like whatever is taking things is connected to the water.
Elderron: Maybe someone is controlling the monsters that are taking people.
Tomud: That’s probable. Something else is being controlled. Tilla’s is still okay, but some other places with missing people have changed the way they run things in weird ways.
Elderron: Due to the disappearances?
Tomud: As if someone had developed other priorities.
Vinya: Do you mind telling me when your gentlewoman stopped caring about things?
Tomud: Within the last 10 to 12 days -- it has been both a recent and sudden change. She’s been trying to see if the people upstairs at Tilla’s or some employees in the small rooms here could get information out of our patrons. That’s not really our line. I guess I’m a purist -- we’re good at giving people their vices.
Vinya: Could it be another gang trying to destabilize you?
Tomud: It doesn’t feel like another gang. That lobstrosity just isn’t something any of them would do. Not their style.
Vinya: Does it feel like a cabal or cult instead, perhaps? I’ve lived in New Arvai and know that’s a persistent thing.
Tomud: If that lobstrosity had been a demon or a devil, I’d say definitely.
Vinya: There are other things to make deals with and/or worship. Those lobstrosities are, we think, minion creatures of a powerful aquatic something.
Tomud, after a moment’s thought: We get powerful tropical storms, some years worse than others. The city has extensive storm drains. You might look at how the locations of the storm drains and the waterfront relate to the locations of the disappearances.
Vinya: Thank you. You’ve been helpful. Hopefully we can help you.
Marxine: Don’t take that too literally. We want to help the missing people.
Tomud: I’m glad to help. Your pleasure is our business.
Vinya: If our researches lead us to want to talk to the gentlewoman you report to, would you be able to make an introduction?
Tomud: I’d be happy to.

We left. A few blocks away we stopped to talk about our next steps. We decided to head to Seneschal to find a map of the storm sewers -- which involved figuring out where to go to get one. It took Elderron a bit, but after an hour of talking to people and getting directed around, he located an office related to the storm drains. (Part of the problem was some confusion regarding whether we were looking for the sewers or the storm drains.)

We went into the office to see if we could get a sense of the storm drain layout. Anything to give us a hint as to where to go. The office had a lot of maps and some hugely oversized pipes and valves running through -- some of them big enough for a human to walk through. On one side of the room was a gnome sitting at a gnome-sized desk.

Gnome: Hi! What can I do to help you?
Elderron: We’re looking for a map of the sewers.
Vinya: Storm drains.
Gnome: What part of the city?
Vinya: Stormyside.
Gnome: That’s where the storms hit worse. Got a lot of storm drains there.

He got a suspicious look on his face.

Gnome: Are you looking for a cabal?
Vinya: Yeah. We think so.

We told him about the missing people and the lobstrosity and explained that we wanted to correlate the drains with where the people have gone missing. We showed him the information that we’d taken from the job board (and that we’d gathered talking to people) and he pulled out a map. He was able to find that there are a couple of major drains in specific areas where the people have disappeared -- where something could have come up through a manhole (though we knew the lobstrosity didn’t, but we never considered the lobstrosity to be the only monsters involved).

He started drawing us a map of the storm drain tunnels and where the entrances and exits are.

Gnome: If you get off this map, come back to where you’re on it. You can get lost down there. Particularly if there’s a cabal at work -- they change things, block tunnels, open passage-ways.

Elama: You’re making me feel real good about going down there.
Gnome, missing the sarcasm: I’m happy to help!

Vinya suggested going back to the job board to get more missing person reports to correlate to the map -- to see if we could find any hot spots.

Aldalomiel: I was thinking that.
Elama: Let’s just dive in and stir the pot!
Elderron: Let’s do both -- find a hot spot, then dive in.

We went by the job board and took all the missing person notices we could find and plotted the locations as best we could onto the map the gnome gave us. From that, we could see that there was one line of storm drains that was definitely a hot spot of problems.

We talked briefly about going into the storm drain system through the outflow, before deciding that was a bad idea and that we’d just go in through a manhole instead. In order to reduce some stress of walking around in water, Elderron took ten minutes to cast water breathing on the party.

Then we found a manole and proceeded to dive in and stir the shit.

The storm drain is a big pipe, like a large culvert with a channel in the middle that was a couple of feet wide and a foot deep. That channel had water in it, but the pipe wasn’t otherwise flooded. (It is not the rainy season or tropical storm season.) It’s a big storm drain made to handle a lot of water -- the gnome had told us that there was magic on the outflows, so that the water actually appeared in the ocean well out to sea, to avoid erosion and backflow.

Once we got in through the manhole, Aldalomiel, Vinya and Elderron noticed that there was a smear of dried snot-like stuff on the wall and on the ladder. We decided to follow the slimy stuff, but had barely come to that conclusion when it went into the stream of water in the middle of the channel. Fortunately, the water was not enough to hide, or even swim, in and we were able to spot occasional flecks of the snot going upstream but not down.

We went upstream.

As we moved up the storm drain the entire floor was slimy and slick, even where it was not wet. Ew. Aldalomiel and Elderron heard some sort of noises up ahead -- checking the map it looked like we were coming up to some sort of junction.

Aldalomiel cast pass without trace and she and Vinya snuck up and took a peek. Aldalomiel basically disappeared into the darkness. Vinya basically did not. But we were still able to sneak up to the junction - we saw two humanoids -- but they were slimy and looked sort of amphibious. One of them looked like a human with the Innsmouth look. The other one had horns and a tail -- a tiefling with the Innsmouth look, maybe. Like they’d been altered somehow.

There were just the two of them in there, armed with crossbows pointed in the direction we’d be coming from.

We went back and told the others. Elderron went back with Aldalomiel to see if he could get additional information looking at them, but he wasn’t able to.

We all headed back in their direction with Vinya and Marxine in the front and Aldalomiel and Elama on the sides and Elderron behind us. With Aldalomiel’s pass without trace still up, we managed to sneak in that direction and got to a place where we could see them before they noticed us.

Elama, crouching behind her shield said: Hello!! Is anybody up there? I did not expect to see people in the storm drain?

Elama then saw them “aim” their crossbows and fire wildly in our direction, missing wildly.

Elama: How rude!

Aldalomiel took a shot at the tiefling-looking one and dropped it with one arrow. Vinya fired a sunbolt at the human-looking one and dropped him with one shot.

Marxine: Weren’t we looking for a tiefling?
Vinya: Oh, god! Yes!! Can we stabilize them?

Elama bound their wounds to stabilize them -- their skin was slimy and clearly needed to stay wet, so we set them into the channel of water in the drain. We carried them downstream a ways and took them into one of the feeder pipes, setting them in the water. As we set them down a large tentacled fish-like thing appeared in the water in front of us -- though it was clearly too large to have been in the water.

We all heard a voice in our heads.

Voice: Who dares to trespass on the realm of Dlublul?
Elama: Hi!! We’re looking for some people who’ve gone missing.
Vinya, thinking the words as she says them: Are you Dlublul
Marxine: What makes you think this is your realm?
Elderron: Why are you taking people?
Dlublul: I am, indeed, Dlublul, for sufficiently broad definitions of am. It is my realm and the people are mine to do with as I please. Before the gods were, I was. After the gods were, I am. What I have chosen as my realm is my realm.
Vinya: Your realm is a sewer and the people are not yours.

Aldalomiel fired an arrow at the fish thing -- the moment the arrow hit it, the monster shimmered and a thin sheet of water collapsed back into the stream.

All of us: Holy fuck. An aboleth.

We collectively knew that they can project illusions within a mile of their lair.

Elama: We need to go further.
Vinya: How can we save these people?

Elderron told us that it will take a high level cure disease spell to cure them, and they need to be in water. They take damage if they’re out of water for too long. They’re telepathically enslaved by the aboleth too.

Vinya, as the fastest in the party, went back to the Temple of the Seafarers and Wayfarers, where we were staying. Vinya found a cleric that Elama had talked to when we arrived in New Arvai -- a halfling named Jarvil Honeyhand. She arranged with Honeyhand that we could bring unfortunate souls to them. The temple will have tubs that they can rest in to stay wet and will coordinate with other temples for the necessary healing.

Then she ran back to where the rest of the party was waiting. She was gone probably 20 minutes.

While she was gone, the party was attacked by two of the lobstrosities.

Elderron: Finally! I get to fight one.

Aldalomiel took a shot at the one slightly further away, hitting it and using the faerie fire bow to light it up. She then shot it again to even greater effect. Marxine moved up as far as she could and readied an attack with her waraxe. Elderron moved a bit closer and hit the faerie fired one with two scorching rays. Elama moved so she was close to the rest of the party and blessed Aldalomiel, Marxine and Elderron.

The lobstrosities moved and dashed to get closer.

Aldalomiel shot the faerie fire’d one again and did a lot of damage to it. Then she moved back 35 feet. Marxine attacked that same one with her axe -- getting two critical hits and dropping it. She then did an action surge and attacked the other one -- hitting it twice, once critically, doing a lot of damage. Elderron backed up some and fired off some magic missiles at it. Elama cast sacred flame on it.

The lobstrosity flailed and clawed but didn’t land a blow on anyone.

Aldalomiel shot at it twice, hitting it once and doing a lot of damage. Then Marxine attacked with her axe, getting another critical hit, and dropping it.

Just a few minutes later, Vinya arrived and told them what she’d set up with the temple. We put sacks over the heads of the unconscious people and took them to the Seafarers and Wayfarers getting them into a tub before their skin started drying out and hurting them.

Jarvil Honeyhand was waiting for us. He immediately covered the heads of the unfortunates with sacks, then showed us where to take them. Once we’d gotten them settled, we asked if there was anyone who could give us useful information. He recommended going to one of the libraries, or maybe the Lightbringers Temple.

Looking at the missing person notices we’d collected from the job board, it appeared that people were being taken at a rate of a couple of people every couple of days, but that it was accelerating.

Jarvil wrote us a letter of introduction to the head of the Lightbringers and we headed there. It was afternoon, heading toward evening, so we didn’t want to have to pay to get into the Library of the World, because it would be a hundred gold for just a few hours of research time -- though we figure out that we’ll wind out there.

We wanted information about aboleths in general and this one in particular. At the temple of the Lightbringers, we talked to Androth Terminger, a male human. We handed him the letter and he read it then leaned back to look at us.

Androth: What exactly do you want to know?
Marxine: Everything. We can’t have him stealing people.
Elama: How to fight them.
Androth: The species has racial memories going back before the gods were born.
Vinya: He said something to that effect. Is he that old?
Androth: No, but the species is. If they hit you with their tentacles, there’s a chance that you’ll get turned into a slimy humanoid thing. If you fight them underwater, they can emit a cloud of mucous into the water that will render you capable of breathing only underwater.
Marxine: We want to avoid that.
Androth: They can drain vitality from their minions into themselves. And they can see through their minions’ eyes. That’s why they’ve covered their heads with sacks over at the Seafarers and Wayfarers.
Elama: Is there any way to stop people from becoming minions?
Vinya: Why is he claiming the storm drains as his realm?
Androth: They’re amphibious. He might also be interested in blocking the drains before the next big storm and flooding part of the city.
Marxine: If we kill the aboleth are all the minions freed from the telepathic control? Will they still need healing to get rid of the slime?
Androth: When someone is hit by one of the tentacles, you have about a minute to cast a regular cure disease spell to stop the transformation. Once the slimy transformation is complete, it takes much more powerful magic to save them.

Marxine, as a paladin, can cure disease one time a day. Elama can do it three times.

We thanked Androth and went and had dinner back at the temple we were staying at. We decided to have Elderron put up a tiny hut down in the hot zone in Stormyside -- keeping watches and having a long rest while we tried to keep an eye on things and prevent anyone else from being taken.