Erkonin (Campaign #2) [Session 45: Rajalmin's Agent]

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
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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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
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: naughty word!
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.

Signed,
Rajalmin

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.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
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.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
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 naughty word 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.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
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.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
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.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
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 naughty word.

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 naughty word. 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.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 28: Dlublul, The Aboleth; aka Boss Fight!

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

Note: Marxine's player couldn’t be with us, so the other players played Marxine by committee (trying to keep her in character).

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


15 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 106)

We ended with Elderron casting a tiny hut in an alley in Stormyside and us planning to spend the night resting and watching there, so we could intervene if we caught any sign of anyone being abducted.

But the night passed without incident.


16 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 107)

When we woke up, before we did anything else, Elderron did the ritual to cast water breathing on the party.

Vinya suggested that we should go check on the abductees that had been transformed by the aboleth that we’d taken to the Temple of the Seafarers and Wayfarers. But we decided that the temple clerics were taking good care of them and we’d do best to just get to hunting down Dlublul.

Then we headed down into the sewers to try to backtrack the unfortunate abductees to see if we could find our way back toward Dlublul’s lair.

Elama considered casting locate creature -- but remembered that the spell could be blocked by a sufficient amount of running water, so she decided against.

We went back through the same manhole we’d used the day before, so we’d know where we were on the map of the sewers the gnome had given us. A little bit past the place where we’d encountered the first set of unfortunates, we got to a junction with a ladder going down -- there was water well above where the water ended -- so we were going to be walk-swimming underneath the water.

We coaxed Marxine down into the water and decided to head upstream. The water was deep and the tunnels were dark and the water wasn’t super clear. Elama cast a light spell so we could have about 30’ of vision. We were in a lower level tunnel and walking or swimming, depending on what kind of armor each of us was wearing.

Marxine was grumbling but Elama was giddy with the new experience of not drowning and talking under water.

We talked about how spells would work underwater as we walked along -- or at least the magical types did. The main thing we needed to remember was that everything in the water was going to have resistance to fire damage. We also talked about weapons -- everything but spears and crossbows (which none of us have) is harder to hit with.

About ten minutes after we got to the bottom of the ladder we got to a T-junction and saw three humanoid figures -- two of them had that fishy look like the ones we rescued. The other two did not -- the two fishy ones had crossbows and the other one had a spear.

Elama: Hi!
Elderron: Let us pass?

They did not let us pass, so Elderron shot a firebolt at the not-fishy one. It didn’t have the full effect -- we’d just been talking about the fire resistance underwater.

The spear-guy (not-fishy) looked at us and then he shrugged and his form shifted into an octopoidal thing with chitinous bits. Then he swam toward us, dropping his spear along the way, ending right in front of Vinya, but didn’t attack.

Vinya stepped back 5’ and got hit pretty hard by an opportunity attack -- then she fired her radiant sunbolts at it, despite not typically hitting with them very well, because at least they wouldn’t be harder to hit with. The second one hit. Given new confidence by this, she summoned her ki and fired off two more bolts. One of those hit as well.

Aldalomiel cast hunter’s mark then took a shot with her longbow -- getting a hit despite the awkwardness of being under water. And did an absolute ton of damage. The second did a good amount of damage, but not as much.

The octopoidal thing was still standing, but looked pretty ragged.

Elama dropped one of the fishy ones with a basic sacred flame.

Elama: The other two are just peasants.

Marxine attacked the octopoidal guy - hitting it with her first attack and dropping it.

It started floating and turning back into a human, but he was dead-dead and it was not possible to stabilize him. He was gone.

The remaining fishy peasant fired its crossbow and missed someone wildly.

Elderron fired a firebolt at the fishy peasant and dropped it.

Vinya and Elama immediately worked to stabilize the peasants that could be saved -- Vinya helping Elama bandage them. Then we drove a piton into the wall and lashed them to it, so they wouldn’t float away and we could rescue them. Marxine claimed the spear left by the octopoidal guy.

We continued on our way.

After a few minutes we got to another T-junction, still on the gnome’s map. Marxine and Elderron looked at the map and suggested that we go right. Marxine made the suggestion based on her mining background and Elderron because of his general intelligence -- it looked like there was an open-space and better defense points.

We proceeded from there. The swimming was hard and Marxine, Elderron and Aldalomiel found themselves getting exhausted. Vinya, with no armor, and Elama, riding the giddiness of breathing underwater, were fine.

Ahead of us we heard some chittering and clattering of chitinous shells -- like lobstrosities ahead of us. Elderron had told us that these things were called Chuuls, servitors of the Ancient Aboleths. We talked about sneaking up on them, but he said that they can sense magic to quite a distance.

So we just proceeded up the hall until we saw two of the lobstrosities. Aldalomiel put her hunter’s mark on the closest one and took two shots at it, but missed twice. Vinya moved a little bit and then fired off two of her sunbolts at the same one and also missed twice (badly). Elama cast a guiding bolt on it, doing a great deal of damage, and making it glow so that the next attack would have advantage.

Marxine moved up to the middle of the tunnel, so they’d have to go by her to get to Elderron and Aldalomiel, but the movement took up her entire action (because moving underwater is slow). Elderron cast a toll the dead on the same one that Elama had guiding bolted -- it didn’t save against the toll the dead, but didn’t take much damage either.

The chuuls both attacked Marxine -- and both of them missed.

Aldalomiel took a shot at the one that was still glowing from Elama’s guiding bolt -- hitting for a lot of magical piercing damage. Marxine hit with her first attack, using the spear, on the hurt one but missed with the second.

The unhurt one was on Vinya -- she whacked it twice with the quarterstaff, despite the disadvantage of fighting underwater -- she hit twice with it. She took a punch at it after hitting with the quarterstaff and hit with that as well. Elama cast a sacred flame on the one on Marxine, the more hurt one, but it fizzled. Elderron’s toll the dead didn’t fizzle this time.

The chuuls attacked -- only hitting once. Marxine took some damage and was grappled. Vinya missed three times, because fighting underwater sucks. Elama cast sacred flame on the one on Marxine again and dropped it! Woot!

Elderron tolled the dead on the one on Vinya.

It turned from Vinya to Marxine, for some reason, then missed. Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark and shot at it twice, missing it both times. Marxine attacked it and missed twice. Vinya missed twice with the staff and again with the punch. Because fighting underwater sucks.

Elama: Sacred flame to the face!!

It didn’t dodge away from the radiance and took some damage. Then Elderron cast toll the dead, which it also was unable to resist, and did a lot of damage.

The chuul flailed its claws around and missed everyone.

Aldalomiel took two shots at it and hit with one of them, breaking the streak of futility for the non-spell people, and dropped it!

Marxine got her second wind, which healed her some, and Elama cast cure wounds on Vinya, getting her most of the way back up.

We pressed on, eventually coming to a Y-intersection. Marxine and Elderron looked at the map again and decided that we should go left. We’re still on the gnome’s map -- getting close to where they thought they’d spotted a place where Dlublul’s lair could be.

As we got closer to that room, the water somehow got clearer but also more nasty. It was still over our heads in the passage.

We got to a large five-sided room with a raised area in the middle -- the floor went up by five feet for every five feet of travel until one got to the dry area in the middle of the room (that’s the diamond in the middle of the room).

Elama cast bless on the whole party.

The aboleth Dlublul was at the back of the room on the far side of the raised area. There were two chuuls at the front of the room. Elama and Vinya noticed a weird sinuous thing with tentacles in the water back near the aboleth.

As we got to the entrance of the room, we all heard something in our heads in our native languages.

Dlublul: YOU DARE TO INTRUDE UPON THE PERSON OF DLUBLUL? IT WILL GIVE ME GREAT SATISFACTION TO WATCH YOU HELP ME TAKE THE CITY ABOVE AS MY OWN.

Then he moved toward the party and Elama’s blessing got its first workout -- we all had to make a Wisdom save. Only Marxine failed it -- and took 8 points of psychic damage.

The damage sucked but she wasn’t brain-snarfed and she wasn’t turned fishy. So Vinya at least considered it a win.

Alda took two shots at the aboleth and missed twice.

Vinya, seeing dry land ahead and remembering what we’d learned about the aboleth’s mucous cloud that could make it impossible to breathe air, ran and summoned her ki for a step of the wind, ending up right next to where it had moved to and attacked it with her quarterstaff from on the land, but missed twice.

Marxine moved toward getting out of the water with a move and a dash, but she ended up just five feet from the shore, still in five feet of water (and therefore under it).

The tentacle-serpent thing slithered out of the water and across the dry land to attack Marxine, ignoring Vinya as it went by. It missed her with both a tentacle and its tail.

Elderron cast a fireball, modifying the damage to lightning, that hit the Aboleth and one of the Chuuls, damaging them all.

The Chuuls moved to Marxine and attacked her -- the first one hit twice, once a crit that she nullified with the bulette shield. So she took the damage and she was grappled. The other one hit her once.

Dlublul attempted to mentally enslave Vinya, but she summoned her will and wisdom (and took advantage of Elama’s blessing) and was not enslaved. Then it moved away from her and she hit it with her quarterstaff as it moved away.

Elama grabbed Elderron by the back of his robes and pulled him back ten feet so that she could cast an ice storm that got Dlublul and both of the chuuls but didn’t hit Marxine or any other party member. They were frozen and bludgeoned.

Then we were all, except Elama, attacked by spiked tentacles that coalesced out of the water or from the earth -- holding us tight. They didn’t do immediate damage. We were all grappled, except Aldalomiel. (Note: Everyone but Aldalomiel failed an Intelligence save.)

Aldalomiel moved and threw an Ice Knife (a new druid spell for her) at Dlublul -- the knife missed the aboleth, but it shattered and the shards still did damage to it.

Vinya ignored the tentacles that were holding her and fired off sunbolts at the tentacle-serpent thing that was blocking Marxine from getting out of the water. They actually hit.

Marxine also ignored the tentacles and attacked the chuull grappling her with the spear and got a crit -- but didn’t do much damage with it. Her second attack also hit and did the exact same amount of damage.

The tentacle-snake guy attacked Marxine twice, but missed twice.

Elderron misty-stepped out of the grapple and to the wall on the right side of the passage, then cast toll the dead on a very wounded chuul. It failed its save and took a lot of damage. There was a dark implosion in the water as its shell, suddenly emptied, collapsed under the water pressure.

The other chuul attacked Marxine, hitting her once.

Something, something from the aboleth, began to intrude on Marxine’s mind or her will and she resisted it. Then Dlublul moved back closer to Marxine.

Elama dropped a shatter spell on Dlublul and the tentacle-snake that missed Marxine and Vinya. Both of them failed to save against it and Elama channeled the energy of the tempest into it, doing a lot of damage to them. Then she struggled weakly against the tentacles.

The tentacles tightened and wrapped around Vinya, Marxine and Elama doing them damage with the “barbs”.

Aldalomiel moved forward, taking a bit of a wide swing to get around one of the chuuls so she could get to the dry land, then she threw an ice knife at Dlublul. The ice knife missed, but again it shattered and the shards did damage.

In response to the damage, the aboleth flailed its tail at Vinya but missed.

Vinya shot four sunbolts at Dlublul and hit with three of them. Then it hit her with its tail in response to that damage.

Marxine attacked the tentacle-snake with the spear -- hitting twice.

The tentacle-snake attacked Marxine twice and missed.

Despite not having taken any damage, Dlublul’s tail attacked Vinya again. Fortunately it missed.

Elderron moved a little and shot a lightning bolt, changing the damage to cold, through the chuul and the tentacle-snake. The tentacle-snake flash froze and shattered on the ground. The chuul was still standing.

Dlublul attacked Vinya with its tentacles -- it hit her twice and she was not able to resist the diseasing influence of it. She was on the way to the fishy look and badly hurt (single digit HP).

Elama cast a powerful healing word on Vinya, who was at that time more badly hurt than Marxine. Then she got a good look at the tentacles that were grappling her and got herself free when she realized they were nothing but an illusion. Then she swam forward through toward the passage as far as she could.

Aldalomiel cast healing word on Vinya as well (she was still more badly damaged than Marxine) then moved and dashed to get onto the dry land, avoiding the chuul as she went.

The aboleth’s lashing tail missed Vinya again.

Vinya, without an opponent she could reach unless she went into the water, drank a healing potion and did her patient defense. Marxine hit the chuul next to her with one of her attacks.

The aboleth’s tail again missed Vinya, thanks to her dodging.

Elderron cast blight on Dlublul, changing the save to dexterity -- it wasn’t powerful but it was enough. There was a brief, choked scream in our minds, then the aboleth’s body crumpled inwards.

The illusory tentacles that had been holding Marxine and Vinya disappeared as the aboleth’s body crumpled.

But we still had one chuul remaining to fight and it attacked Marxine twice, missing her twice.

Elama did something we’d never seen her do before -- she cradled her arms around her chest and fired a lightning bolt from her chest at Marxine. The lightning healed Marxine, a lot, but it clearly took a lot out of Elama (though not as much). Then she swam toward the dry land avoiding the lobstrosity.

Aldalomiel moved a little bit, staying on the land then shot two arrows at the lobstrosity, hitting once and using the faerie fire effect from her bow to light it up for us. Vinya moved so she could shoot sunbolts at it, hitting twice because of the faerie fire. Marxine hit it with the spear twice -- leaving it wobbling but still standing.

Elderron shot a powerful magic missile at it and killed it!!

Vinya: I got hit in the face with a tentacle.

Elama cast lesser restoration on her to cure the aboleth’s disease before it really took hold in her.

(And there we ended.)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 29: Shopping and Research (The Shopping Went Better)

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


16 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 107)

We began immediately after the combat with Dlublul the Abloleth ended. We still had a water breathing spell up, which was good because there was no sign of the water receding with Dlublul’s death.

We searched around in the water, except Marxine who dried out on the island in the room, and found a great deal of money:

13,612 gp (about 10% of which were pre-Severance coins from the city of Arvai)
1507 pp (about 10% of which were also pre-Severance coins from Arvai)
4 1000gp fire opals
6 1000gp star rubies
2 1000gp blue sapphires

With the gems included that came to 5122 gp per person (with two left over) and 301 pp per person (with 2 left over). Vinya asked if her cut could come from the fire opals because they’re pretty and no one objected to that. She set her share of the pre-Severance coins aside in the bag of holding, so they wouldn’t get accidentally spent.

We also found some interesting items, which we identified over the course of a short rest.

Potion of Vitality (into the bag of holding, because it will be useful someday we’re sure)
Eyes of Charming (for sale or trade)
Slippers of Spider Climb (Vinya)
Cloak of Elvenkind (Aldalomiel)

After the short rest, we decided to go and recover the two unfortunates we’d fought earlier and get them to the temple of the Seafarers and Wayfarers for curing. And then we needed to go looking for more -- because we hadn’t even come close to finding all the people who had been missing.

The two we’d lashed to a piton in the wall a ways back had woken up by the time we got to them, and were fully restored to themselves mentally. Physically they were still water-breathing, water dependent fishy-skinned folk. They were very apologetic and also very anxious to get cured so they could go back to their normal lives.

Elama: Then come with us.

We led them back to the storm drain where we entered. At the entrance, we found that a lot of people had been coming out of the storm drains all over Stormyside, needing assistance. They’d been getting sent to various temples (not all to the Seafarers and Wayfarers).

We dropped them off, but didn’t linger, feeling something of a sense of urgency about getting everything sorted out. It was early afternoon and we’d been in the sewers since the break of dawn.

Vinya, as we left: It seems like some people outside the sewers were mind-controlled. We need to look into that.
Elama: I want to clean up. And to eat.
Vinya: Yeah. In that order.

After food and some bathing, we went to talk to Tomud Grennett at the Simmering Poppy. In the mid-afternoon they were quieter than they had been when we went in the evening a couple of days ago.

Tomud: How can I help you?
Vinya: We talked to you the other day about a possible cabal dealing with something that affected people’s minds. Not fiends but something aquatic.
Tomud: I recall. There was a suggestion that perhaps my … boss was so affected.

Vinya looked at Marxine to see if she had the “don’t talk” expression or the “it’s okay” expression. Marxine looked okay so Vinya went on.

Vinya: We killed an aboleth in the storm drains under Stormyside and freed a lot of mind-controlled people who had been down there. But we don’t know if that liberation extended to people outside the sewers.
Tomud: I can check in with the lady I report to and let you know.
Vinya: We’d appreciate that. We’re staying at the Seafarers and Wayfarers. You can leave a message there.

We went back to the temple, thinking to check on how they were doing with things there. They were very happy that we’d killed the aboleth, because that meant that these unfortunate fishy-skinned people were not a danger to the temple -- they didn’t need to be kept in dark rooms so they could see as little as possible.

As Vinya had discussed with them the day before, they were coordinating with other temples for healing and bathtub space for people who needed it.

Elama: While we were down there we encountered something that was a lot more tentacle-y and more fully transformed. Do you think you could save them as well.
Priest: I think any transformation that has gone that far is going to be beyond curing.
Elama: So the best we can do for them is the sweet embrace of death?
Priest: Basically.
Vinya: How are people doing after you’ve cured them?
Priest: Once they’re cured, they’re fine. They’ve all been going home right away.
Vinya: Excellent. And the tiefling gentleman we brought in yesterday …?
Priest: Brightwater has gone home to his wife. As I understand it she has still not given birth to their child, so he will be there to welcome the baby.
Vinya: Fantastic news!

We decided to go back to the storm drains to look for tentacly monstrosities or chuuls. We ran into a few groups of people down there looking for people to save.

Vinya: If you see anything with tentacles, holler. Some of them can be kind of tough.

That gave Elama a thought and she cast thaumaturgy to project her voice widely through the Stormyside storm drains.

Elama: If you need help and have been affected by the aboleth, please let us know by tapping on the wall -- three short taps, three long taps, three short taps. We’ll come find you.

We heard no tapping at all. After an hour or so walking around in the storm drains, we’d found no one who needed help. We decided our efforts would be better spent helping unfortunates get to healing, and helping to keep them wet, so we spent a few hours on that.

We got back to the Seafarers and Wayfarers temple/inn after dark and found a note waiting for us. Apparently from Tomud’s boss.

Tomud tells me that you are responsible for freeing the Green Hand from that which was turning us against ourselves. We repay debts; if we can be of service in New Arvai, do let us know. Turlonin Goriel

We also found someone from the Lightbringers Temple outside the Seafarers -- they were making a list of people who were missing and a list of those who’d been saved.

Lightbringer: This is harder than we expected -- most of the notices from the board at the guardhouse are missing.
Vinya: Oh! We have those. We were using them to figure out what was going on.

She handed them over to the priest.

Lightbringer: Thank you. Now we can correlate who’s been saved against a list of who was missing. There are probably going to be some people unaccounted for, but we can help people find their loved ones or know that they’re not going to.
Vinya: Good. That will be very helpful!
Lightbringer: There are also reports of people who had not been acting themselves suddenly being back to normal.
Vinya: Yeah. Is all of that in Stormyside too?
Lightbringer: Yes.

With the situation with the missing people being found apparently in hand, we decided to have dinner and find a show and kick back. We did find a show, quite a fun one, with a person smashing watermelons on the stage.

We rested and the night passed.


17 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 108)

The next morning the party walked together to the Library of the School of the World. We planned to leave Elderron and Aldalomiel there to continue their research. Team Finding Trouble, having knocked it out of the park a few days ago finding the aboleth and his activities in town, were prepared to hit the streets of New Arvai once again.

We also were going to be looking for some magical shops -- trade in the eyes of charming and see if we could find other useful things.

At the library, while Elderron and Aldalomiel were getting checked in, Vinya casually asked one of the desk clerks if he could recommend any magic shops.

Clerk: Yeah, we can recommend a few. Give us a moment.

He then grabbed one of his colleagues and they disappeared into a back room. He returned several minutes later with a piece of paper with an annotated list of shops, organized by city neighborhood. It included what their specialties were as well as any other information they found interesting.

In Shelfward:

Dark Jom’s: Specalizing in books and scrolls; buys and sells anything. As many things as he’s sold to the various cabals over the years, he must have something on someone…

EON: Specializing in the weird and the expensive, even as magical items go.

In Gateside:

The Golden Flame: A bar and inn with a smallish magic shop attached. Most of the items are bought or sold either on the way into or out of New Arvai, by the desperate or the naive.
(Note: Think theme park or welcome area gift shop.)

In Seneschal:

Lost Gifts: Specializing in items from before the Severance, or which have heritage connecting them to items from before the Severance.

Vinya, reading that: OoooO! I want to go there.

The Sunrise: Specializing in items for defeating fiends and their minions and allies

Marxine: We’ll want to visit them.

In Coinscale:

The Day of the Hand: Specializing in stuff non-magicians might not recognize as magical

Krakom’s: Selling weapons and armor, run by a half-orc, Krakom, who really knows his stuff

Gladness’: Specializing in items that fool the senses and alter the mind

In Stormyside:

Tralots: Selling “affordable” items to those who can barely afford them. Known for being fair and for keeping their selling prices lower than others.

In the library, Elderron found that his brain had trouble getting back onto his research into Rakshasa in general and Rajalmin in specific after two days fighting mind-controlled civilians, chuuls, Dlublul and other aquatic monsters.

He did learn that there was a human wizard in New Arvai, in the same party as Tylrok Hammerhammer’s father’s aunt, who had made notes when his party took on Rajalmin, but he was unable to find the notes before it was time to leave for the day. However, he’d gotten a really good line on where that journal/notebook was and thought he’d be able to find it the next day pretty readily.

Aldalomiel, also found it hard to get her brain back on track with her research. She was looking for more information about Sossonotissis, the Blue Death, and his motivations. Also any locations where he was known to be found.

Unfortunately, most of what she found, she already knew -- he lives in the Scoured Hills in the big desert sort of between Mahassar and Usi Kotima. That desert is expanding in the middle of the continent on the other side of the mountains. He was ancient during the Fiend Wars and fought to drive the fiends out of the Scoured Hills and off Urnod and Mahassar on the grounds that those places were his.

It occurred to her that perhaps he knew the Gleaming Dame, who had also been ancient during the Fiend Wars and fought hard and successfully against the fiends, but she didn’t find any connection between them.

The new piece of information is that he has a standing, mutual grudge with the Lingering Silence, one of the Dante family of noble fey. Tantalizing.

Team Library had a rough day.

Team Trouble Plus Window Shopping decided to go first to Gladness’ to talk about selling the eyes of charming.

Gladness was a male tiefling with deep purple skin and red hair. He greeted us heartily.

Vinya: We have an item that might interest you and we would like to learn more about it.

We showed him the goggles from Dlublul’s lair.

Gladness: You found Eyes of Charming. Old ones from the look of them.
Vinya: Does that increase the value?
Gladness: For collectors it does.
Vinya: People collect magic items … not because they’re useful but because they’re collecting them?
Gladness: Of course. People will collect anything and everything. For these you should be able to get between 400 and 500 gp. I’m prepared to offer you 500gp right now.

We consulted quietly and thought maybe we’d try to shop them around elsewhere in town.

Vinya: We’ll hang onto them for now. But we may very well be back.
Gladness: If you get a better offer elsewhere, please give me a chance to match it.
Vinya: Sure.

We then started to look at his wares. He had a helm of telepathy, like Elama’s, and a helm of comprehend languages. The helm of comprehend languages, which doesn’t require attunement and would allow us to communicate with people without waiting 10 minutes for Elderron to ritually cast the spell, he offered as an even trade for the eyes of charming.

We decided to make that trade.

He also had potions of invisibility and mind reading and some Nolzur’s Marvellous Pigments. Vinya was very interested in the pigments, but they were way out of our league price-wise.

We put the helm in the bag of holding, thanked Gladness and headed off to Lost Gifts and its pre-Severance treasures.

We found Lost Gifts without any problems -- it was a small place square footage-wise, but still not crowded. It seemed that most of the inventory was not immediately visible. We were greeted by a male goliath.

Vinya: We asked for recommendations of shops dealing in magical items at the Library of the School of the World and your shop was on the list. I have a particular interest in elven items from before the Severance, religious and otherwise.
Goliath: We have something that might interest you.

Then he slipped into the back room. He came back out with a stained glass butterfly. The leading around the glass pieces looked really old.

Goliath: It will carry a message within ten miles and then come back to you. It costs 85 gp.
Vinya: May I look at it?
Goliath: Of course.

Vinya bent down and examined it closely -- it was definitely elven work and looked very old. She looked at Marxine to see if she was getting a good or bad vibe off this guy (her own vibe check was pretty good). Marxine seemed comfortable with this guy.

Vinya pulled out five of the pre-Severance pieces we’d just gotten from Dlublul’s hoard.

Vinya: We found these. Do they have any value beyond that of the gold?
Goliath: We are not allowed, by one of the few laws of this sort that is enforced in this city, to treat Arvaian currency any different from New Arvaian.
Vinya: Would that apply to Ambernock coinage versus Embernook coinage?

With that she pulled the two coins from Ambernock (that we found in the shadowpool in the sewers of Erlin) out of the bag of holding.

He looked at them, with her permission and with a loupe.

Goliath: Those would be valued as a platinum coin.
Vinya: I don’t want to spend both of them. But I’ll give you one, plus 75 gold.

He studied the coins some more and chose one for himself and handed the other one back.

Vinya: May I see which one you chose and which you didn’t?
Goliath: Of course.

He handed her the loupe. The coin he’d selected had less crisp edges and carvings than the one he’d returned. Vinya, without much knowledge of coin collecting, figured that he was either leaving her the one in better condition or taking the one that was older (and therefore in worse condition) and she was fine with that.

The butterfly is a magical messenger, but not a fast one.

Messenger Butterfly: This stained glass butterfly was originally made by the elves to pass messages back and forth between widely-scattered cottages. You can use an action to speak its command word and the butterfly carries a message on a piece of paper to a creature you specify within 10 miles. You must provide a general description for the recipient, such as “a man or woman dressed in the uniform of the town guard” or “a red-haired dwarf wearing a pointed hat. The butterfly takes 4d6 hours to reach the location or creature. The butterfly then makes its way back to you, returning 2d6 hours after delivering its message. If the butterfly is destroyed (AC 10, 1 hp) you are alerted and the recipient gets the feeling that you were trying to contact them but no contents of the message are conveyed.

(Vinya started thinking about how she could use it to send a message to someone in the party, so we’d always have the butterfly flitting around us. Like send a message to Aldalomiel and have it take up to a whole day for it to go twenty feet, then another half day to go the 20 feet back.)

After Vinya paid for, and finished ogling, her purchase, the shopkeeper said that he had something special in the back, not in his known specialty (pre-Severance items) but too good to pass up.

Goliath: It’s a greatsword called Fiendwrack.
Vinya: Ooo!
Marxine: I love me a weapon with a name.
Vinya: I’m sure it’s out of our league, but how much?
Goliath: 50,000 gold
Vinya: Yeah. Out of our league. But can we see it?

He smiled then went into the back of the store. He returned with a gleaming white greatsword that was on the longish side even for him. He set it down on the counter.

Marxine: May I?

He gestured for her to pick it up. When she did, it shifted and became a little oversized for her.

Goliath: It does extra damage against fiends and their relatives. Unfortunately it’s not a choosy weapon -- it does that extra damage against perfectly normal tieflings as well.
Vinya: That just means one needs to be careful when wielding it.
Marxine, handing the sword back: Thanks for letting me hold it.

We then thanked him and left. Having just handled the fiend-fighting greatsword, we decided to go to The Sunrise, because they specialize in things for fighting fiends and we’re going to need that sort of thing.

The clerk at the Sunrise was a tall, slender albino gentleman with a small, neatly-trimmed afro, an aasimar. Vinya explained that we are interested in his wares.

Vinya: Weapons and armor, especially weapons I can use -- you’ve probably encountered some of the people from the Chiaroscuro Temple a few blocks from here.
Aasimar: Yes, certainly. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything like that right now.
Vinya: What do you have?

He pulled out a few cloaks. The first one was basic grey fabric, quite plain. He told us that it would give us an advantage against effects created by undead.

The second was soft and white, cottony and almost weightless. He called it a cloak of the clouds and said that it could predict the weather -- the clouds would become grey and stormy with bad weather approaching, little flashes of light would even appear if lightning was expected. It also gives resistance to lightning damage and is advantageous when dealing with natural weather effects. Elama thought about that for a few minutes, but bought it before we left. It’s a cool item.

The third cloak was made of fine silk fabric, pure and unstained. He told us that it made one immune to being charmed and frightened and gave advantage on saves. It was entirely out of our price range though, being even more expensive than the sword Fiendwrack.

He also had a pair of goggles that looked a little like the eyes of charming we’d traded for the helmet of comprehend languages, but he said they were goggles of true sight. They were also out of our price range (about the same price as Fiendwrack).

Marxine: Do those see through fiend disguises?
Aasimar: Yes. As long as they’re magical disguises. They won’t see through a physical disguise, like if someone was using a disguise kit, though.

He then gave Marxine a good look and pulled out a maul. He told her that it gave bonuses to attacks for people standing on the ground. He called it Earthblest. It was a hella cool weapon, though not so flashy as Fiendwrack, at about the same price.

There was a lot of cool stuff there at The Sunrise, most of it out of our price range, but we’ll definitely remember to check in there when it’s time to actually start fighting Rajalmin.

We decided to go to the library to check in on Elderron and Aldalomiel before going to Dark Jom’s, the specialists in magical scrolls and books, and Krakom’s, the magical weapon and armor dealer. We figured Elderron would know best what he wants to get from Dark Jom’s and Aldalomiel might also be interested in weapons and armor.

Both of them having had frustrating days in the library, they were ready to go when we got there, so we all went together to Dark Jom’s. The shop was lined with books floor to ceiling with rolling ladders on rails mounted at the top of the walls and rolling stools and step-ladders scattered around. It looked almost like a library in there.

Vinya cast detect magic from the rod of alertness before we went inside -- she’d been meaning to do this all day and finally remembered. There was, unsurprisingly, a lot of magic radiating from the books and scrolls.

Jom was a thick halfling, standing, clearly on a riser of some sort, at a human height desk.

Jom: Hi there!
Elderron: Do you have books or scrolls with the identify spell?
Jom, after a pause: Yes! Yes I do! What form do you need it in?
Elderron: Something so I can copy it over into my spellbook.

Jom pulled out a scroll of identify and Elderron purchased it for 35 gold.

Elderron: How about polymorph and greater invisibility?
Jom: Those are more powerful spells and a lot more expensive. Ten thousand gold each.
Elderron: Ah. How about Magic Weapon?
Jom: More reasonable -- I can sell that to you for 300.

Elderron wound out getting that and also Fly, Haste, and Enlarge/Reduce on scrolls.

We ended there, planning on going to Krakom’s at the start of the next session.

(Note: We all also leveled up to 8th level at the end of the session!)

NOTE: When we split up the treasure from the Shadowpool, we valued those two Ambernock coins as gold not Platinum. So Vinya owes everyone 4gp. :D

Treasure:

13,612 gp (about 10% of which were pre-Severance coins from the city Arvai)
1507 pp (about 10% of which were also pre-Severance coins from Arvai)
4 1000gp fire opals
6 1000gp star rubies
2 1000gp blue sapphires

With the gems included that came to 5122 gp per person (with two left over) and 301 pp per person (with 2 left over). Vinya asked if her cut could come from the fire opals because they’re pretty and no one objected to that. She set her share of the pre-Severance coins aside in the bag of holding, so they wouldn’t get accidentally spent. (If anyone else doesn’t want their share of the pre-Severance coins, Vinya will happily take them as part of her share of the treasure

We also found some interesting items, which we identified over the course of a short rest.

Potion of Vitality (into the bag of holding, because it will be useful someday we’re sure)
Eyes of Charming (for sale or trade)
Slippers of Spider Climb (Vinya)
Cloak of Elvenkind (Aldalomiel)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 30: Team Research Comes Through In Spades

Dramatis Personae:

ldalómiel - 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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


17 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 108)

We decided to hold off on going to Krakom’s because it was getting well into the evening after all of our shopping and the frustrating day Elderron and Aldalomiel had in the library.

The evening passed with dinner and a show somewhere and the night was uneventful.


18 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 109)

The next morning, we all went with Aldalomiel and Elderron to the library. Vinya asked at the desk if there were research librarians or assistants who could be hired to help -- since our friends seem to be having some difficulty navigating the library.

Librarian at Desk: I think we can find a couple of people willing to be sidelined from their own research for a day or two.

Wonderful -- the price was 100gp for Aldalomiel and Elderron to each have a research assistant. Vinya paid for both of them and for Elderron’s day in the library.

Vinya: I’d rather you had the money to buy more spells.

Elderron got help narrowing stuff down about Rajalmin and the party that killed him a hundred or more years ago. There were four people in the party: A human wizard from New Arvai named Danrom Orth; a human monk from Kiranamakir (the capital of Mahassar) named Adlawan Gavlura; a dwarven paladin from Torm Brinnom named Etta Blackgranite (this is Tylrok Hammerhammer’s aunt); a halfling cleric from Dhaqi named Sarik Whitesand.

Apparently this party stumbled onto one of Rajalmin’s plans in Dhaqi, pursued him across multiple continents, and finally ran him to ground in New Arvai where they broke up a cabal he was trying to start. This cabal was trying to get information about the higher levels of government and society in order to gain behind-the-scenes control of the city through blackmail and extortion. They were getting their information from Rajalmin, but appeared to have regular meetings where they interacted with him, even when they didn’t have pressing needs or desires. Despite the consistently hedonistic ways of Rakshasa in general, this cabal’s hedonism didn’t run in sexy directions -- they were more interested in extravagant foods and extravagant intoxicants.

When we talked over this information Elderron got later, it occurred to us that Rajalmin might genuinely be targeting New Arvai -- he played a 30 year game to get revenge on Torm Brinnom, where Etta Blackgranite was from, tearing at one of the things that is central to dwarven life and experience -- the strongly interwoven social fabric of their strongholds. He might well be targeting New Arvai and Danrom Orth’s family.

Danrom’s journal said that most of the people Rajalmin were working for were killed. They believed he initially came to Erkonin through a portal. Or perhaps someone screwed up a summoning spell and got him instead of whatever devil they were going for.

Elderron looked into how someone on another plane get someone where to summon them -- sending spells work across planes. Also, if that other-planar entity could get to the Ethereal Plane they could hang out there (or in the Astral) and spy on what’s going on on the Prime (specifically Erkonin). Thereby giving themselves the required knowledge to be able to cast sending and send a message to someone. From there it’s a matter of offering promises and inducements and grooming that person, perhaps initially chosen because they seemed susceptible to this, to perform the summoning ritual.

It certainly seems that if there’s a way that Rajalmin can hurt those who hurt him -- or their descendants -- he’ll be working on that.

We decide that we need to find out if Danrom Orth has any family in town still.

Elderron, with one last bit of investigation, found a granddaughter, Ronma Orth, still living in the city.

Aldalomiel, doing research on Sossonatissis, the Blue Death, also had a really productive day.

One thing she learned is that The Blue Death and a noble Fey called the Lingering Silence have a long running feud and dislike for each other.

She learned about his primary motivation, about which he seems to be a bit monomaniacal: He wants there to be at least one god on Erkonin and he wants that god to be him.

(When Aldalomiel told the party this, Vinya quietly thought “I want there to be gods on Erkonin again, but I don’t want to be on the side of the evil dragon.”)

Aldalomiel looked for information about what has driven him back to the Scoured Hills when he’s made forays across the mountains and ravaged the land. What she found is that he hasn’t so much been driven back, as that he was looking for something and either found it or decided that what he was looking for wasn’t where he was looking. The ravaging of towns and cities and settlements was because that’s what evil dragons do.

The main things he’s looking for are how to re-enable the god setting on Erkonin, information about what is necessary to do it, etc. He’s pretty single-minded.

Aldalomiel: That’s all beyond my pay grade. I’d rather just stop him doing it.

He’s a very powerful, very old dragon who has wrought havoc on adventuring groups who thought they were well prepared to deal with an ancient blue dragon.

She did remember something we’d been told in the past -- that the Noble Fey are starting to fill some of that “god role” here on Erkonin.

Aldalomiel, when she told the rest of us about this: It sounds like he might be jealous of the Noble Fey.

Aldalomiel went from looking into the Blue Death to trying to get more information about the Lingering Silence -- the Fey he has a beef with.

Her name is Tormanna. She’s the sister of the Walking Man, Falaggo, who we met and really liked. She doesn’t interact with mortals much -- though if you talk to her in a place where people are talking a lot and making noise, she can be pretty communicative. She tends to hang out where people are quiet -- for example a monastery where the monks take a vow of silence.

Tormanna and Falaggo are in House Dante, which is interesting to us as well.

We talked about hanging out at a crossroads at the next new or full moon and hoping to see the Walking Man again. Maybe he can help us get in touch with his sister. He also might have some insight into what’s up with Lothiriel being in Castle Dante -- is she a guest or a prisoner, and in either case why?

The next new moon is in ten days (28 Plantarin, Day 119).

Team Research hit it out of the park!

When Elderron and Aldalomiel were done for the day, we headed en masse to Krakom’s, the magical weapon store. We were greeted by a large half-orc, Krakom himself. He was the oldest half-orc any of us had ever seen and he was missing some fingers on his left hand.

Krakom: Howdy! How can I help you?
Elama: I don’t think we’re as dangerous as we could be. What can you do to fix that?
Krakom, with a twinkle in his eyes: I have many things. Unfortunately, whatever I have will still leave you an elf.

Marxine asked after one-handed weapons, like a battleaxe maybe.

Krakom: We can probably find something like that.

He went into the back of his store and returned with a warhammer.

Krakom: I’ve been waiting for the right person for this. It’s an Unmaking Hammer. If you hit someone’s armor hard enough with it, it weakens and ultimately breaks the armor. It can break a lot of other things as well, but that’s the good one.
Marxine: Nice. How much?
Krakom: 15,000

Oof.

Krakom: I have more in the back.
Vinya: While you’re back there, if you see anything I can use, please bring it with you.

He nodded and went into the back room again.

He returned this time with a quarterstaff made of ironwood. It had stylized fists carved on each end.

Krakom: When wielded by a monk, this weapon counts as an unarmed strike.
Vinya: Interesting…

Elama asked about Gauntlets of Ogre Power and he said he’d bring them out in a moment -- he had one more thing for Marxine to consider.

He came back with the gauntlets and a battleaxe -- the handle looked like it was made from well-aged wood and the blade itself was matte, as though it had been sand-blasted.

Krakom: It’s called Sandstorm. You can use it to kick up a dust cloud for concealment. It also does a little damage to anyone in the storm. The dust cloud lasts for as long as you are attacking and it stays centered on you. It gives you total cover from ranged attacks.
Marxine: How much for that one?
Krakom: 7500 gold.

Elama bought the gauntlets of ogre power as soon as Krakom had finished talking about Sandstorm.

Marxine asked how much he’d give her for her +1 maul and other magical weapon. He said he’d give 800 gold for those. Vinya asked if he’d buy the Pipes of the Sewers -- he said that was not in his line, and he didn’t feel comfortable that any offer he made would be fair to both sides..

Vinya nodded and ran to The Golden Flame in Gateside, because the pipes of the sewers seemed like the sort of marginally useful item that would sell at their shop catering to tourists. She was right about that and they paid her 400gp for them. Nice!

She got back to Krakom’s as Marxine was telling Krakom that she’d think about it and might be back later.

Back at the inn, Vinya rummaged around in the bottom of the bag of holding to pull out money, including the 400 she’d gotten for the pipes and some of the money from Dlublul. Elama chipped some money in as well, and we were able to get to 15,000 for Marxine to buy the Unmaking Hammer.

We went back to Krakom’s and Marxine and Elama talked him down from 15,000 for it to 14,000 for it. Marxine, with Elama’s permission, gave the 1000 left from what we’d gotten together to Vinya.

Elama: Now that we’re done shopping and are all broke, how do we find this Rajalmin cabal?

Elderron told us that Danrom Orth has a granddaughter, Ronma, who is an instructor at the School of the Mind. The School of the Mind focuses on magics and other means of controlling the minds of others and breaking such control -- illusion and enchantment, but also abjuration. She teaches optics, because understanding optics helps to make illusions more believable. She was not, according to what Elderron had learned, an adventuring wizard.

We decided to go talk to her, even though the day was getting fairly late, because she might actually be in danger.

Vinya: Though a slow-moving and subtle sort of danger. He was working in Torm Brinnom for over 30 years and it took that long for things to come to a head there. And he didn’t really have that much money invested in Torm Brinnom -- 25,000 gp for each of seven oni, plus magicking up their weapons. But that’s less than 1000 gp per year each. He could afford to multi-task and work on revenge on multiple fronts at the same time.

We found her in her office at the School of the Mind, having late office hours.

Ronma: How can I help y…. You’re not my students.
Vinya: No.
Elama: We’re here for you!
Elderron: We want to talk to you about an encounter your grandfather had.
Ronma: I don’t know anything about that.
Marxine: Your grandfather was an adventurer. He helped banish a powerful fiend.
Ronma: Good on him. I gather he was an ass to Grandma sometimes, but good on him.
Marxine: The fiend had a 30-year plan that almost tore apart the entire social fabric of a dwarf stronghold.
Vinya: This fiend plays a really long, really insidious game.
Ronma: That sounds awful. My grandfather left some papers that didn’t get into the School of the World. I can bring them here in the morning, if you’d like.
Vinya: That would be perfect. Thanks so much!

At this point it was fairly late in the day -- time for a late dinner. So we went back to the inn and ate and rested and the night passed.


19 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 110)

In the morning after breakfast, we went back to the School of the Mind to look at the papers Ronma had. When we got there, she looked relieved.

Ronma: I looked through these last night. I’ve asked the school and asked them to increase the protections against fiends on the school, more particularly on this building, and even more particularly on my office.

She said that Danroth and his party had first crossed paths with Rajalmin in Kiranamakir, the capital of Mahassar. He would disguise himself as various people in the upper echelons and instigate duels between various nobles. They tracked him through Mahassar and Dhaqi and finally brought him to ground here.

The cabal here appeared to be his backup plan -- they summoned him every couple of weeks to talk to him and learn secrets about the wealthy in New Arvai. This was a brilliant way to get around the limitation that if he was killed on Erkonin he wouldn't be able to return until summoned personally by name. (Once summoned by name, he could return by any means.) So he had this cabal summoning him frequently.

They had the sense that his main activity was actually in Kiranamakir and Dhaqi and that the cabal in New Arvai was really mainly a backup plan.

Vinya: What was his plan in Kiranamakir and Dhaqi?
Ronma, handing over the notes: He was working to dismantle the government in Kiranamakir with all of the feuds and duels he was starting there. Though their duels aren’t typically to the death there -- with so many being started he was also effectively reducing the number of skilled duellists. The plan in Dhaqi was more difficult to discern -- they just busted it up.
Vinya: I don’t know if you would know this, but are you aware of anything over the last twenty or thirty years that would destabilize the city? Perhaps a subtle uptick or downtick in activity.
Ronma: I don’t know of anything, but really I wouldn’t.
Vinya: Can we borrow these papers?
Ronma: Yes. I hope they help.

We then took our leave of her, with the papers in hand, and decided to go talk to Tomud at the Simmering Poppy, on the grounds that Rakshasa are hedonists and the Green Hand deals in vices and pleasures. Whatever Rajalmin is up to in New Arvai might well have its first ripples in Tomud’s world.

Tomud: What can I do for you?
Vinya: We may be on to something, but we’re not nearly so certain about it as we were about the aboleth.
Tomud: You’re not reclaiming your marker then? You couldn’t with me, as I’m not the one who issued it.
Marxine: We’re giving a warning and hoping for some information perhaps.

We gave him the backstory about Rajalmin and Danrom Orth and Torm Brinnom and all of that.

Vinya: Because this is a particularly hedonistic devil, it seemed like whatever he’s doing might be rippling your world. But in very subtle ways acting over a very long period of time.
Tomud: Oddly, there has been a slight reduction in the level of hedonism in New Arvai over the last while.
Vinya: Interesting. There’s less interest?
Tomud: Not in Stormyside - the level of interest there has remained about the same. But among the upper classes there’s less. Either they’re getting their needs met elsewhere or by means we don’t provide.
Vinya: Interesting.
Tomud: There’s always a difference in style between the poor and the rich. The rich will pay much for one very intense or extreme experience. The poorer people will pay the same amount over time to have smaller experiences on a regular basis.
Vinya: Are any specific individuals not coming around anymore?
Tomud: There’s always turnover -- we’ll have someone who’s an excellent customer who stops coming around, perhaps they die, but at about the same time a new young buck will start coming and become a very regular customer. We’re having more attrition than just death among the older customers and not so many young people beginning to become customers.
Vinya: That sounds like just the subtle sort of thing we’re looking for.
Elama: So do we get ourselves invited to a bigwig shindig?
Vinya: Do you have any ideas on how to do that?
Tomud: I don’t have that kind of pull, but someone in the higher echelons in my organization might.
Vinya: Is this the sort of thing we could, theoretically, cash in our chit for?
Tomud: Potentially.
Vinya: Good to know.

We thanked him and headed over to the guardhouse to talk to Captain Longroot about this, thinking that she might also have an idea about subtle instabilities in the city’s government or governance and maybe strains on the social fabric.

Vinya again gave the backstory about Danrom Orth and Rajalmin and the very subtle, slow-moving attack on Torm Brinnom.

Vinya: Do you know if there’s something going on with the richer people in the city that might be some subtle effect of that sort?
Captain Longroot: Why are you asking about the wealthy?
Vinya: Because he’s not going to destabilize the government of New Arvai by disrupting Stormyside.
Longroot: There’s actually an anti-hedonist movement among the rich right now, led by The Enthroned preaching a sort of enhanced form of noblesse oblige -- taking responsibility for themselves so they can have authority over others.
Vinya: If we wanted to see this preaching, where would we go? And when?
Longroot: The temple of The Enthroned in Seneschal on Tagashir in five days.
Vinya: There are no mid-week groups for the faithful?
Longroot: Those would be less open to the public.
Vinya: Is this a homegrown movement or did it come from outside New Arvai?
Longroot: It coincided with a couple of new clerics coming in. It’s not an official new tenet of the faith, as far as I know, but the higher ups in the order tolerate it. If nothing else, the people who follow these new teachings have more money to donate to the temples.
Vinya: Do you have names of these clerics?
Longroot: There’s a human woman named Tirla Jimorn and an elf woman named Galinaori Thianthe. They came from Erlin or Lonoj. Somewhere upriver.

Elama used the helmet of detect thoughts to read Captain Longroot’s surface thoughts while Vinya was talking to her -- she later reported that they were all consistent with what she was saying.

From the background information on clerical orders: The Enthroned order believe that nobles and others of high ranks deserve to be served, and to be treated with more respect. They respect those who take noblesse oblige seriously, but it’s not universally expected. They have little-to-no interest in run-of-the-mill sorts, except that they serve their “betters.” Their most typical domains are Command, Life, and Light.

Vinya: They’re sort of the anti-Marxine.

We headed over to the Temple of The Enthroned so that Elama could talk to the religious people there. It was located in Seneschal, the most up-scale part of the city. The temple is very fancy and lavishly appointed.

Elama walked in and started looking around, noticing that it smelled like...breakfast in the temple. She followed the smell, and the sound of people talking, down a hallway off the main sanctuary to an open door. The rest of us sort of skulked around in the background.

There were a couple of priestesses and other noble types being served breakfast by some people who were waiting on them.

Elama talked with them about their anti-hedonism preaching.

Priestesses: If you are in a position of controlling other people, you need to first control yourself. We have privileges and responsibilities -- and shouldn’t be blowing money on momentary pleasures that we don’t remember late because we over-indulged. There’s not a lot in common with worshipping the storm.
Elama: We also heard this line of thinking didn’t start until two women came from out of town. Can we talk to them?
Priestess: You are.
Elama: Oh! You’ve been traveling. We have too.
Priestess: We spent most of our time in Tash. Then we went to Auriqua, but that city is very screwed up -- it’s all working class. From there we went to Embernook, which was even worse. There are wealthy people but no nobles. We didn’t stay there long.
Elama: What made you want to come all this way from Tash?
Priestess: Our superiors, after seeing how we improved how the temple in Tash is run, wanted us to come here and run this place better.
Vinya: Run better how?
Priestess: Oh, they thought the message wasn’t being well received.

(Elama’s detect thoughts got “More offerings.”)

Marxine used her paladin divine sense and detected nothing unusual -- no celestials, fiends, or undead. And the place had been hallowed.

Vinya: Do you know if the message is still being well received in Tash in your absence?
Priestess: As far as I know. We’ve been here a couple of years.

We thanked them and left.

As we walked down the street, we discussed the fact that they appeared to be improving the nobility, in some ways at least.

Vinya: Concentrating wealth in the temple might be part of a long plan.
Elama: I have a spell that might help. Divination. I’ve never used it before.

We got back to the inn and spent some time in our room discussing what the question for the divination should be. We settled on:

Question: Is Rajalmin connected to The Enthroned priests in New Arvai and the sermon they will give in five days?
Answer: The Enthroned in New Arvai are preaching what they believe, not what Rajalmin would want them to.

Huh.

And there we ended.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 31: What’s Going on in Dhaqi?

Players:

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)

Note: Marxine's player could not be with us for this session

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


19 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 110)

After the inquiries and explorations of the day before, it was getting late so we went back to the Inn to read Danrom Orth’s papers.

We learned that Danrom met up with the dwarf paladin, Etta Blackgranite (Tylrok Hammerhammer’s aunt), on a ship to Dhaqi. In the course of some adventures on the ship they started working with the halfling cleric from that city, Sarik Whitesand, and with the human monk from Kiranamakir, Adlawan Gavlura. They had adventures around and in Dhaqi -- which is where they started learning about Rajalmin and his plans.

His cabals there were doing horrific summoning rituals -- with several different cabals working in a coordinated way (though they may not have realized it) to do a bigger summoning than any of the cabals would have been capable of independently. While fighting those cabals, they found clues about Rajalmin having activities in Kiranamakir and they went there.

That’s where they found out about Rajalmin’s thing with sparking duels and creating unrest and worked to put a stop to that. They also learned about the cabal in New Arvai that were summoning him repeatedly so that he was regularly being invited back to Erkonin.

They came to New Arvai and busted up that cabal -- they killed most of the cabalists, but Danrom was convinced that there were some that weren’t at the ritual site when he and his party got there and were therefore not among those who fought and were killed. Danrom believed that the ones that weren’t there perhaps didn’t know what they were doing or that they were summoning a Rakshasa.

Evidence for that fact is that he then lived a long life and died a natural death in New Arvai.

Vinya: So how do you find a cabal?
Elderron: I think they’re near or in the libraries.

Vinya had an idea to try and talk to the researchers who had assisted Elderron and Aldalomiel the day before, to see if they could give a bit of additional information. We went to the Library of School the World.

Vinya, to the desk clerk: Are the researchers who helped my friends yesterday still here?
Desk clerk: One just left for dinner. The one who helped your friend look into that blue dragon is about to leave, I believe.
Vinya: Excellent. We’ll wait.

The research assistant who had helped Aldalomiel was a very young rock gnome, barely an adult, named Trummim. She told us that, like other gnomes, his eyes are two different colors -- one very blue and one very grey. She also told us that he was extremely careful and very willing to tell her when he didn’t know something.

He came out of the library and we all noticed that he was dressed as though he was intentionally trying to look average or non-descript. He was wrapped up in his own thinking and walked right past us without even seeming to notice us.

Aldalomiel: Trummim.
Trummim, startled: Oh! Good evening! Ummm….hi!

Aldalomiel introduced us all around.

Aldalomiel: We’d like to talk for a bit.
Vinya: We’ll buy you dinner. You pick the place.

He led us to a restaurant and bar that he was clearly very familiar with. He pointed out the best items on the menu and on the drinks menu. We ordered food and drinks and sat down with him. He was having some very sturdy barleywine-type beer with his dinner.

Vinya, quietly: How does one find a cabal? Whether to fight it or to join it?
Trummim: Usually when people are fighting them, the cabal has made a move and revealed themselves and then they were backtracked and exterminated. As far as joining, I think they start with people who know and trust each other. Like you guys know and trust each other. So if you started wanting to get extra power from, say, a demon, the others might be willing to assist because they know you and trust you not to be doing anything bad. And then they get sucked in. If you need more people, you’d branch out to other folks that each of you know and trust.
Vinya: If one of my friends wanted to start summoning fiends, that would probably break my trust.
Trummim: Well, criminal conspiracies are a thing, as we know all too well here in New Arvai. This isn’t entirely dissimilar. I’ve known some people who’ve had to abruptly leave the city because they stumbled onto something -- it can be hard to know the full reach of the cabal, who’s in it, who isn’t, who you can and can’t trust. Easier just to leave the city.
Vinya: What’s the point of it -- summoning a fiend can’t be an end game, right? There has to be a point to it.
Trummim: Oh, yes -- they’re summoning a fiend to fight their battles or do things they can’t do to get them money or power or information. Then they hope that they can put the fiend back. If they summon a strong enough fiend, they hope perhaps that they’ll be treated by the fiend as a favored pet or servant. Though that doesn’t typically fit with the personality of a cabal leader. A willingness to be humiliated as a pet or servant doesn’t typically go with the power to summon a demon prince or prince of Hell.
Elama: Aren’t there spells that let you control whatever it is that you summon?
Trummim: They’re not as perfect as people think they are.
Elama: Within my own skill set I have knowledge of spells that will keep something like that contained.
Trummim: Those circles are definitely an important thing. I can’t understand why anyone would summon a fiend without having prepared a circle first. Unless you want it to get out and cause problems.
Vinya: It still seems really stupid…
Trummim: I don’t think it’s intelligent or sensible. People do it because they’re desperate or greedy and think it’s a short cut.
Elderron: Who might be desperate and greedy here?
Trummim: That’s a fair question. The wizarding schools are magnets for greedy and lazy people looking for a shortcut. There are almost always people who need or want something badly around them. People who are desperate for something. If a cabal can find them and dangle that thing they’re desperate for in front of them like a carrot…
Elama: Like those priestesses with The Enthroned.
Trummim: They are the best thing that’s ever happened to their congregation.
Vinya: I agree with you there.
Trummim: I believe that they believe in what they are preaching. I believe that the higher ups in The Enthroned believe in the extra money they’re getting in donations and tithes.
Vinya: I agree with you on that as well.
Trummim: I’ve been dragged to a few of those sermons. Once by my boss after a long night spent drinking very excellent beer here -- I went into work and the most expensive thing I owned was my hangover and he dragged me off to a sermon on moderation and controlling yourself.
Vinya: I’ve had days like that. Who benefits from this change in habits from a whole swathe of society?
Trummim: It’s better for the church, for the nobles themselves, for their underlings. Everyone but the Green Hand.
Vinya: Okay. Who benefits from the Green Hand losing power?
Trummim: The other gangs benefit from the Green Hand having less of a hold over the elites. Maybe if you backtrack these priestesses up the river to Auriqua and then to Tash you could make sure they followed the path they said they followed.
Vinya: Good idea. They’ve been here two years. They said they spent a little while in Auriqua and came down the river from there. From Tash to Auriqua is months and then from Auriqua here is also months. So you’re probably looking at three or three and a half years ago. But we don’t know how long they stayed in any of those places.
Trummim: That sounds about right.
Vinya: We could Send to people we met in Tashimeet, Urlocka at the caravanserai. And to the Captains of the Guard in both Erlin and Lonoj.
Elama: I can do that. Tomorrow.
Vinya, to Trummim: Thank you so much for taking your dinner to help us understand. I’m one of those people who have stumbled over a cabal, and even I can’t understand it. Why were they meeting and how did they meet and what the hell were they trying to do? I can’t even really explain how I stumbled over them.
Trummim: If it makes that little sense to you, you might never understand it.

Vinya asked about the other schools of magic in New Arvai. The School of the Mind mostly focuses on illusion and enchantment. The School of the Body has a lot of transmuters and healers. Even some druids among the students and teachers.

We thanked him for the information and left him to his dinner.

After we left the bar, we walked and talked.

Vinya: We don’t even know that anything’s happening here at all. We think there is, because Rajalmin is vindictive and plays a long game. But we don’t know anything at all.

We strolled around the town, listening for screaming or chanting or strange noises.

Elama: I think that any cabal worth its salt would do their summoning in a protected room or a cellar. Not where they can be heard, but it doesn’t hurt to be listening.

Elderron brought out his owl, Oda, and had him fly around with his keen hearing.

But even with Oda listening as well we heard nothing unusual. Sigh!

We went back to the Inn and rested for the night, which passed without incident.


20 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 111)

In the morning, Elama prepared Sending and used it to talk to Urlocka from Tashimeet.

Elama: We were there on Feast of Stars. Did two priestesses from The Enthroned come through from Tash three to five years ago?
Urlocka: They came through almost 4 years ago.
Vinya: Maybe they are just a coincidence and a dead end. I’ve got nothing else there -- at least not until their sermon in a few days.

We talked about what we wanted to do next. We wanted to be on a crossroads outside of town in eight days (28 Plantarin, Day 119) to try to talk to the Walking Man about his cousin The Lingering Silence, who has an ongoing beef with Sossonatissis, the Blue Death, the dragon that Aldalomiel has been researching.

Elama: Do we know where a crossroads is?
Vinya: Good question.

She went to the person who was taking breakfast orders from the inn patrons and asked about roads out of New Arvai. She was told that the road north from the city becomes a road that parallels the river all the way up to Lonoj and beyond.

Bartender: What are you looking for?
Vinya: A village. We’re thinking it would be nice to take a break somewhere small and quiet.
Bartender: Well, it’s a couple of days to get to the road paralleling the river. There should be a branch road that leads to some villages pretty shortly after that.
Vinya: Perfect! Thanks so much!

She went back to the party. It’s four days to the priestesses’ sermon at The Enthroned and nine days to the full moon. So we have plenty of time to listen to the sermon and then leave and get to a crossroads by the full moon.


19 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 110) - 23 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 114)

DOWNTIME MONTAGE

At some point during the next four days, Vinya had the thought that maybe Rajalmin was doing something in Dhaqi right now. So she, along with Elama and Elderron went to talk to the tiefling, Brightwater, we’d rescued from the Aboleth’s domination, the one with the heavily pregnant wife, Sunrise Clear.

He was surprised to see us. Sunrise Clear was also there, still heavily pregnant.

Vinya: You just arrived on a ship from Dhaqi, I believe. Is that correct?
Brightwater: Yes.
Vinya: I don’t know if you got off the ship or away from the docks much. I’d really like to talk to someone from there. Was there someone from Dhaqi traveling on the ship perhaps? I’d really like to ask someone about what is going on there.
Brightwater: I don’t know anything about the city -- I was gone for months, but I just sailed there, helped with loading and unloading, then sailed back. I was on the Ocean’s Blessing. It goes between here and Dhaqi and sometimes between Dhaqi and one city or another in Mahassar. I could introduce you to Captain Tarim Bultar. I don’t think the baby will come in the next half-hour.

Brightwater took us to the Ocean’s Blessing. He got some earthy greetings from other sailors, who knew he’d been worried about getting home in time for Sunrise Clear to have her baby. He joked back with the other sailors and introduced us to the Captain.

Captain Tarim Bultar was a human male with long curly hair tied back and a beard. He was in his mid-30s but his skin was weathered and tanned.

Captain Bultar: What can I do for you?
Vinya: Are you from Dhaqi? Or was someone on the ship from there?
Captain Bultar: The Ocean’s Blessing is my home, but I was born and raised in the Queen of Cities.

Vinya explained a bit about the long term, subtle type of vindictive revenge that Rajalmin might be looking for there. And a bit about what he’d been up to in Dhaqi a hundred years ago.

Captain Bultar: My grandfather told me about that bunch of cabals doing stuff at the same time. The word at the time was that they were trying to pull Dhaqi into the Hells. Or maybe bring part of the Hells into Dhaqi in a permanent way. A bunch of cults and cabals were coordinating efforts.
Vinya: Can you think of anything weird going on now?
Captain: We weren’t there long, but the city was definitely tense. Something weird was going on. We left quickly. I have not often been there where the hair on the back of my neck was on end for a week. Not anywhere. There’s certainly something amiss there. Extra tension. There were some people at the docks who wanted to get out of the city and didn’t care where they were going. It took us a little while to get a cargo so those people all left on other ships.
Vinya: If we obtained a couple of dragon pages, could you help us send a message to someone you know there. You’d be giving us an introduction, so to speak.
Captain: Definitely. I’ll also ask around other people who might be in town that I know are here from Dhaqi.

Vinya, to Aldalomiel and Elama: We might be going to Dhaqi, y’all.

Also during this downtime montage, Vinya tried having her messenger butterfly take a message from her to Aldalomiel, in hopes that it would flitter around the party for hours and hours. Unfortunately, it took the message very quickly, just a few minutes.

Elama suggested that the butterfly could be used to find someone -- it has a 10 mile radius and if you set it off with the message and began to follow it you could find someone. It’s like a very slow, long-range find person item.

Vinya sent the butterfly off looking for a cultist like the Zariel cabalists she’d encountered at the monastery. It was carrying a message that said “I know what you did.” The butterfly flittered all over town aimlessly for fourteen hours and never found anyone. The next day she did a better test -- she went to a distant part of town and tried to describe Elama in general terms (as the item requires) that were nonetheless specific enough to describe Elama and no one else. She sent off the butterfly and followed it. 14 hours later it found Elama. So it does work as a find person item -- just a slow moving, and very pretty one.

Any remaining time during the downtime montage, Vinya spent at the Chiaroscuro Temple practicing with her radiant sunbolts. Elderron spent the downtime copying spells.


24 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 115)

All of us went to the temple of The Enthroned to listen to the sermon. Marxine opted to remain at the inn, because she knew that the sermon was just doing to piss her off.

We stayed at the back of the temple and listened to the sermon, The elf woman named Galinaori Thianthe was the one of the priestesses who gave the sermon. It was not a fiery sermon, but it was a convincing one. Given the premises of The Enthroned the message that if one is to have authority over others one must have control over oneself was very powerful. She spoke about being in control of your pleasures and not the other way around.

Vinya tried to get a sense of whether people were being mind controlled or if something weird or creepy was going on. Elama used the helm of telepathy on the priestesses and random people in the congregation, just skimming their surface thoughts.

Among the random people there were: A well-dressed man sitting with his whole family was thinking about the sermon and what it meant for his kids; another man was sleeping and trying to fake being attentive; an older woman was looking around thinking about what people were wearing. A couple of people wondered why someone was wearing a helmet in church.

It seemed that the older people were less interested in the sermon and more interested in the other people in the church.

While we were listening to the sermon, Vinya realized that there was another group of people being hurt by this new message from The Enthroned -- the suppliers and distributors of the drugs and other physical elements of the various vices provided by the Green Hand.

After the sermon was over, Vinya got into the receiving line so that she could talk to Galinaori Thianthe, the priestess who gave the sermon.

Vinya: That was an excellent sermon. Thanks.
Galinaori: Thank you.
Vinya: Do you and Tirla have any plans to go elsewhere? This message could do great good all over Erkonin.
Galinaori: If the Church hierarchy thinks I or we should, I have not heard of it.
Vinya: If you can make suggestions up the hierarchy, this would be a good message to spread far and wide.

We left and walked back toward the Inn to get ready to leave the next morning to get to a crossroads by the full moon.

Vinya: Where’s the central hierarchy of The Enthroned? Like their mother-ship?
Elama: Their headquarters on Urnod is about three days travel from Tash in the direction of Anestri. They are also in Mahassar -- but the different orders work differently there so that’s not exactly relevant. There’s a big temple of The Enthroned in Dhaqi, but it doesn’t have the reach to have control over the order on Urnod or in Mahassar.

After the sermon, we went to Tralot’s, the magic shop in Stormyside that we were told was known for having very moderate prices, in order to make their goods more likely to be affordable. Vinya wanted to buy a few dragon pages.

With four dragon pages in hand (two for immediate use and two for the future), we went to the Ocean’s Blessing, still in port, to talk to Captain Bultar and to send a dragon page letter to someone in Dhaqi.

Captain Bultar: Top o’ the morning!
Vinya: How’s finding a cargo going?
Captain: We expect to have something in a week or ten days.
Vinya: We have some dragon pages. Is there anyone in Dhaqi we can send a letter to?
Captain: I talked to the Kotimanovs over there (he pointed to a large ship docked nearby) and haven’t heard back about whether they know of anything. It’s best not to push Kotimanovs too hard, they can be touchy.
Vinya: Should we talk to them? Or are they a last resort?
Captain: If you’re going to be fighting fiends, they might be a valuable resource. There are a number of aasimar among them.

We all wrote the letter with the Captain giving us a written introduction. We asked about strange things that might be going on in Dhaqi and what seemed like was going on in the city. We enclosed a blank dragon page with our names on it, so that if there’s a reply it will come to us.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out.

We’ll commence the next day ready to head out by road to get to a crossroads by the full moon.

Unless we decide we want to book passage on the Ocean’s Blessing and head to Dhaqi.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 32: Fiendish Business and the Walking Man

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


25 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 116)

We woke up with three days to get to a crossroads before the full moon on 28 Plantarin and the information that it was a little more than two day’s travel to get to one. We felt pretty good about this situation.

We decided to get horses and ride, because horses are nice. (Vinya paid for Marxine’s without even asking about it, because Marxine spent a lot of money on her Unmaking hammer.)

We rode along the road, which followed the coast for a while. It was all pretty normal looking and there was normal traffic. We’d been told that there were waysides and small villages about every half day along the way. It would take us about two and a quarter days to get to the river road.

We ate lunch at a wayside called Omruth and then continued on our way in the afternoon. About when it was time to stop traveling we got to a village called Tisp. Tisp had a couple of inns -- we chose to stay at The Sterling Harp where we were welcomed by the innkeeper, a halfling lady named Adda Tallbranch.

We spent the evening in the bar, listening to the bard, who gave a good performance.

The night passed without incident.


26 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 117)

Our travels were again perfectly normal. We ate lunch in a village called Anvern and then got to a village called Karnish at dinner time. Once again there had been normal traffic all day. Sometimes the terrain let us see the water and the vessels that had come down the river and were traveling to New Arvai, staying close to the coast.

We spent the night at an inn called Bramit’s.

We talked with the innkeeper, Bramit, when he brought us our dinner.

Bramit: Why are you traveling by road rather than by boat?
Vinya, indicating Marxine: She doesn’t love the water.
Bramit: I can understand that.

The night passed without incident.


27 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 118)

Over breakfast we talked with Bramit about where we’re going. Vinya gave the same story she had at the Seafarers’ and Wayfarers’ Inn about wanting to find a small village to take a quiet rest. Bramit saw right through that.

Bramit: You’re looking for a crossroads, aren’t you?
Vinya: Umm…
Bramit: It’s almost the full moon. You have no idea how many people come this way looking for a full moon because they’re desperate enough to turn to the Fey for assistance.
Vinya: We’re not desperate, we just have some questions.
Bramit: Whatever. The next crossroads is about 2 hours away and it’s cursed. You won’t find what you’re looking for there. Everyone who spends the night there at the full moon winds out horribly dead and poison stinking mists come into town…
Vinya: This far away??
Bramit: Yeah. And the poison mists hurt people here.

We decided to look into the curse at the crossroads and see if we could do anything about that situation -- if people in Karnish were being hurt by whatever the curse was up there, it needed to be dealt with. If, for whatever, reason, we couldn’t get to a crossroads to see the Walking Man because of dealing with this, we’d be able to on the New Moon.

Poison stinking mists and a curse sounded fiendish to both Elderron and Aldalomiel.

At the crossroads, two hours away, Marxine did a paladinly vibe-check and the answer was BAD. We looked around at the crossroads and right in one of the corners where the roads, covered in brush and shrubs, we found a foot-tall black marble pyramid. It had writing on it in Abyssal.

Elderron put on the helmet of comprehend languages and read the inscription to us.

Elderron, reading: Those looking for a way find instead their end.

Marxine and Elama (newly strengthened by her gauntlets of ogre power) started to try and dig the pyramid out. What they found was that it kept going down and down -- it was the tip of an obelisk. They gave up after a foot or so, when it became clear it was going to keep going down and down. There were no further inscriptions on it but there were carvings heavily influenced by spider and spider-web motifs.

Elderron cast detect magic and found that it is very magical. He had the feeling that there would be other pyramids/obelisks around the crossroads. We started looking for those. With Elderron’s detect magic guiding the way, we found another pyramid at every corner of the crossroads. They all had the same inscription and the same spidery and webby artistic design.

Elderron also had the sense that just dispelling the magic on the obelists/pyramids might trigger the summons.

Elama cast divination, asking: “How should we get rid of whatever this is?”
ANSWER: Carefully dispel and brace for impact.

Well, alrighty then.

Elderron helped Elama with the dispel magic, giving her some advice before moving away. Aldalomiel cast guidance on her, then moved away. Vinya stayed near her, in case whatever impact there was happened right next to her.

Instead it happened right next to Marxine -- a 10-foot tall column of yellow slime with tentacles manifested right next to her. (Elama recognized it as a yochlol.)

Marxine immediately attacked it and did a divine smite -- doing a lot of damage because she was fighting fiends. She then attacked again and did another divine smite. Between the two blows she did it 50 points of damage, which was very impressive.

Aldalomiel started glowing with the starry form of an archer forming over her, then she attacked with her bow, hitting it twice, hard. Vinya shot it with two sunbolts, hitting with both of them, then ran up to it and spent a ki-point for a flurry of blows, both of which landed.

The second punch of the flurry dropped it and the body began to deliquesce.

The magic on the column was not dispelled, so we tried again, taking up basically the same positions.

Elama’s second dispel attempt seemed to be a little better, but we couldn’t be sure of that. Because two of the yochlols appeared, right in the middle of the intersection, near Marxine.

Aldalomiel did another starry archer form and shot at the one further from Marxine and again hit it very hard. Vinya fired two sunbolts at the same one Aldalomiel had just hit, hitting twice. Then she ran over and took a position where she could give Marxine flanking on the one next to her and then turned and spent a ki point for a flurry of blows and attacked the one we were focusing fire on, hitting it twice. Elderron cast blight on that same one, but didn’t get it off for a lot of damage.

Marxine attacked the one right in front of her, hitting it once. Elama moved closer and cast bless on herself, Marxine, Aldalomiel, and Vinya.

The yochlols moved so that both of them had flanking on Vinya, then proceeded to attack her. The first one hit with a tentacle, doing a little bludgeoning damage and a lot of poison damage, leaving her reeling a bit.

Aldalomiel moved and took two bowh shots at the same one, hitting but not dropping it. Vinya spent a ki-point to take a step of the wind to disengage from them. She moved 30 feet away and shot two sun-bolts at the same one we’d been attacking.

Elderron moved to a position to cast lightning bolt on both of them. He remembered that they were resistant to lightning damage, so he made it do force damage. The force blast absolutely exploded the one we’d been attacking. Marxine attacked the other one -- getting a crit that was okay and another hit that barely landed but did the same damage as the critical hit.

It attacked Marxine with both tentacles, missing twice. She was the best target for it, because dwarves are resistant to poison damage.

Aldalomiel attacked twice, with her starry form, hitting once. Then her starry archer form let her fire a radiant arrow at it as well. Vinya fired four sunbolts at it and hit with all four of them.

Vinya: That time I spent at the monastery practicing with the sunbolts has totally paid off.

Elderron did another lightning bolt with force damage that hit it. It was finally dropped by Elama’s thunderwave.

We decided to take a short rest after that before trying again. Aladalomiel cast a cure spell on Vinya which, along with the short rest, got her feeling most of the way better.

Then we took up positions for Elama to try again.

Elama: I can try one more time. If it doesn’t work, we’ll have to try again tomorrow.
Elderron: We could get three of them this time.
Elama: Make me nervous why don’t you?

Elama cast the dispel magic spell and she saw the obelisks crack as the spell took hold. She felt confident that the curse had been dispelled. However, three of the yochlolls did in fact appear -- one right next to Elama and Vinya, one next to Elderron, and one alone at the one corner of the crossroads where there wasn’t a party member.

Elama, seeing the three of them: I’m sorry about that. But It worked!
Aldalomiel: Yay?

Aldalomiel again took her starry form and shot twice at the one all by itself alone with regular arrows, then her starry form shot a radiant arrow at it.

Vinya punched the one in front of her and Lamie, hitting and did a stunning strike. Which worked. She then punched it again. Elderron cast misty step to get away from the one on him then shot it with a firebolt. Elama tried to banish the one, but it didn’t get banished. Marxine charged the one Aldalomiel shot and hit it twice, wielding the unmaking hammer two handed.

The yochlol on Marxine attacked her twice and missed twice. The one that had been on Elderron turned into a sickly yellow mist and moved into the middle of the street. The one that Vinya had stunned shook off the stun effect.

Aldalomiel took two shots at the one on Marxine, the one that she’d shot at before, hitting once. Vinya punched the one in front of her and tried to stun it. That didn’t work and she punched it again with another stunning strike -- that one worked. She then did another punch on it. Elderron cast blight on the one Vinya had stunned and made the save a dexterity save -- this blight did lots of damage.

Elama banished the misty fog.

Marxine attacked the one in front of her and got a crit. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any more spell slots, so she was unable to smite it.

The one on Marxine attacked her and got a critical hit -- because she was attacking two handed, with her bulette hide shield on her back, she was not able to negate the critical hit. Fortunately, she’s resistant to poison damage so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The stunned one once again shook off the stun.

Aldalomiel dropped that one with two arrows, then she moved to get closer to theone on Vinya and Elama.

Vinya attacked the one she’d been stunning, hitting twice, then spending a ki point for a flurry of blows. She forgot to do a stunning blow on it though so it was going to be free to act on its turn.

If it lived that long.

It didn’t. Elderron cast a magic missile on it and dropped it.

We protected Elama for the remaining duration of the banishment spell, so that the third yochlol would stay banished.

And then we made camp, even though it was early in the day. We hung out and relaxed and took it easy for the bulk of the day.

During the night we had a fire and a pot of stew cooking over it. The moon was indistinguishable from full (though technically the full moon was the next day, we knew there was a bit of leeway on either side of the actual day). In the middle of the night, we heard a voice from the darkness.

Falaggo: Hello, the camp!
Vinya: Hello! Welcome.
Falaggo: You’ve come a long way.
Vinya: Not as far as you, I’m sure. We’re here because we wanted to talk to you.

Aldalomiel asked about Sossonatissis and the Lingering Silence and the beef between them.

Falaggo: I believe my cousin is carrying the grudge far more than the Blue Death.
Aldalomiel: I have a missing friend who is, apparently, in Castle Dante.
Falaggo: You asked about her before and I told you that I hadn’t seen her on the roads or ways. She may be in Castle Dante. I don’t go there very often and it’s very very large.
Vinya: Why would someone in your family want her?
Falaggo: My cousin is not cruel. Your friend will be taken care of and not treated badly.
Vinya: We don’t know for sure that she’s there because of the Lingering Silence.
Falaggo: She’s a good guess. She might have her to provide extra motivation for you to go after the Blue Death. Or as a reward for having done so.
Elama: How bad can a dragon be?
Vinya: Oh. Umm… How long have these obelisks been here?
Falaggo: Since just after the Fiend Wars. They were placed by Lolth herself.
Aldalomiel: Why here? Why at this crossroads?
Falaggo: She hates us and will mess with us whenever she can.
Elama: Can she get here?
Falaggo: Yes, if she’s summoned as a demon princess. She can’t have divine power here, but she can have all of her demonic powers.
Vinya: So she’s messing with y’all by interfering with your realm?
Falaggo: Yes, this is a crossroad near a major city and part of my realm where people will be likely to want to get in touch with me.
Elama: Does she also mess with others of your family?
Falaggo: Yes.
Elama: We’re looking for a rakshasa named Rajalmin, do you know anything about him?
Falaggo: They tend to be city creatures and therefore they rarely come into my realm at all. I’m afraid I can’t help you.
Vinya: The Enthroned’s main temple is outside of Tash. Have you picked up on anything odd going on there?
Falaggo: I know nothing of the inner workings of the church. But they have definitely been expanding and renovating the temple.
Vinya: Is your realm crossroads or roads in general?
Falaggo: I like all roads, but crossroads are special to me.
Aldalomiel: Your cousin...how can we find her? We’d like to talk to her. We hope she might be able to give us an in on how to work against the Blue Death.
Falaggo: I will see what I can do. It’s possible that if she does have your lover, I can arrange a conversation in Castle Dante. That’s not her realm, so she is more communicative there.
Elama: How will we get there?
Vinya: Oh, we can get to Castle Dante, through the fomori cave we were back in the winter.
Elama: That’s on the other side of the continent. And doesn’t it go straight into the prison?
Vinya: Yes, but we’re not fomorians so we should be okay.
Falaggo: There are easier ways. Let me see what I can do. Keeping someone against their will seems cruel.
Vinya: Should we come to a crossroads again to find you or will you be in touch?
Falaggo: I’ll be in touch.

We then offered him food and drink. He partook of our stew and something to drink and we talked in a friendly way for a while. Then he left.

Vinya, after he was gone: For the record, Aldalomiel, I’m 100% in on this dragon thing.
Elama: Me too.
Elderron: All of us.
Marxine: [nodding]

The rest of the night passed without incident.


28 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 119)

In the morning, we checked the obelisks. They were now made of pinkish stone, not black, and deeply cracked and partly crumbling. Marxine recognized the stone as the same within the portal to Castle Dante that we found in the fomorian complex between the Knot and Tash.

The abyssal writing had been replaced with writing in sylvan: "Not all riddles have literal answers. Sometimes the answer is in your pocket.”

We all took some of the pieces of the pink stone.

Before we broke camp to head back to Karnish and Bramit’s inn, we received a dragon page. It flew to Vinya. It was the return letter from the person we’d contacted in Dhaqi.

Greetings from the Queen of Cities!

Things here have been less serene than the norm, without question. The peace of the city has been disturbed by several disappearances and at least one violent apparition. There are rumors of diabolists and cabals, but this is not New Arvai and such things are not normal here. If the guard have any information, they are not sharing it, so we residents are limited to what we hear from others, who may not know any better than we do.

Hurakil Assir

As we walked back to Karnish, we talked about sailing to Dhaqi to see if whatever is going on there had anything to do with Rajalmin. It’s a long trip -- 30+ days by sea.

We got back to Karnish and told Bramit that we’d fixed the crossroads.

And there we ended.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 33: Sailing to Dhaqi

Dramatis Personae:
Heath - Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)/Druid
John - Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Sara - Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Rich - Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Emily - Marxine - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


29 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 120)

We got back to Bramit’s midmorning. We decided to press on to the village a full day’s travel hence, Tisp, even though it would be a long day. Because it would get us back to New Arvai sooner.

Bramit hooked us up with the provisions we needed for that and we rode hard and long.

We stayed at the Sterling Harp again in Tisp and had no difficulties all day or night.


30 Plantarin 749 (Campaign day 121)

The next day we travelled uneventfully and got to New Arvai just about dinner time. We went straight to talk to Captain Tarim Bultar of the Ocean’s Blessing, a ship we knew was going to be sailing to Dhaqi soon. We asked Captain Bultar about booking passage to Dhaqi.

He said that he has two rooms, with six bunks between them, connected by a door. He gave us a break on the cost of passage with the expectation that we’ll help with defense of the ship on the way, which we agreed to.

He said that he’d be sailing with the earliest tide day after tomorrow. We told him where to find us (the Seafarers and Wayfarers’ Inn) if he turned out to be leaving earlier than expected, and went to get rooms at the inns.

We spent the evening dining and watching whatever entertainments were at the Inn. The evening and the night passed without incident.


1 Kalavin 749 (Campaign day 122)

The day before we left on the Ocean Breeze passed more or less uneventfully. Elama spent the day sight-seeing like she’d never been in a city before. Vinya and Marxine went to the Chiaroscuro Temple to do some sparring with the monks there. Some folks spent time walking around hoping to stumble over cultists of one sort or another.

On the whole, the day passed without incident.


2 Kalavin 749 (Campaign day 123)

We boarded the ship very early with the expectation that we’d be arriving on 8 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 159) or so -- it’s a 36 day trip on average. The Ocean’s Blessing is 150’ long and 50’ across at the beam.

We sailed uneventfully -- watching the dolphins and flying fish and distant whales and very distant ships. The weather was nice -- calm but not too calm and with comfortable temperatures.

Elderron made a daily ritual of casting waterbreathing on us every morning during breakfast. We kept watches at night, and generally kept someone on deck at all times, because we were charged with helping to defend the ship.


10 Kalavin 749 (Campaign day 131)

The day passed quietly. During the night’s first watch (Elama, Vinya, Marxine), Elama and Vinya were standing by the rail in the middle of the ship on one side. Marxine was in the middle of the ship, away from the railing about 40 feet away.

Marxine wasn’t surprised, because of the flail of warning, but everyone else was absolutely stunned when three trolls, dripping with seawater and with tattered kelp leaves for hair, clambered over the rails of the ship.

Vinya: How are there freaking trolls at sea!!???
Elama: What the naughty word?!

Two trolls were about equally far away on either side of Vinya and Elama and the other was on the other side of the ship between them -- so roughly speaking the trolls formed an equilateral triangle about 50’ on a side, with Marxine in the middle of them.

The guy in the crow’s nest on lookout started screaming like a siren -- being an air genasi, he didn’t need to stop to inhale at all.

Marxine, the only one among us who was not surprised, ran to attack the one by itself away from Vinya and Elama. She attacked it twice, hitting both times. She could see the wounds closing up immediately after her attack.

The one Marxine attacked immediately attacked her with its bite and two massive clawed hands, but it missed with all three attacks. One of them attacked Vinya attacked her -- it hit her with both claws and did rather a lot of damage. Elama was bitten as well as clawed and took even more damage.

Below decks, Elderrron and Aldalomiel heard the siren yell of the air genasi lookout. Elderron ran out onto the deck through a hatch that put him relatively near to Vinya and Elama and the trolls on them. He looked around and saw that Marxine was fighting one and Vinya and Elama were looking simultaneously shocked and fairly badly hurt. He cast confusion on the troll on Vinya, changing the save from wisdom to intelligence -- the troll succumbed to the confusion spell.

Marxine attacked again on the troll on her -- getting one hit.

She was hit in return with the two clawed hands. Vinya was bitten and clawed, but not dropped. Elama was missed all three times.

Vinya, finally shook off her surprise at sea trolls attacking in the middle of the ocean and attacked. She punched hers, hitting once and succeeding in landing a stunning strike. She followed that up with a flurry of blows, both of which hit.

Aldalomiel came up from downstairs just behind Elderron. She saw that the one on Elama was neither stunned nor hurt, so she put her hunter’s mark on it and shot it with two sling bullets.

Elama: What what oh my gads!! Where’d they come from!?

Thus she cast a high level healing word on herself, then attacked with her sword, doing both physical and thunder damage to it.

The air genasi seaman in the crow’s nest continued to wail his siren alarm.

Elderron thought for a second and realized that though he was aware that sea trolls existed, he didn’t actually know anything more about them. So he took a guess that, as sea creatures, their regeneration might be shut down by fire damage. He cast magic missile, doing fire rather than force damage, sending one missile to each of them. The fire-missiles hit with a cloud of stinking hissing steam.

Marxine got her second wind, then attacked, hitting twice.

All of us who were near one of the trolls noticed that their wounds weren’t healing.

Vinya: Elderron, keep up with the fire!

The troll on Marxine hit her with a bite and a claw. Elama was hit by only one claw -- she did her retaliatory shock to it, dealing it damage and pushing it away, but it just walked right back to her. Vinya’s was stunned and just stood there.

Vinya punched hers, hitting twice and succeeding with her second attempt to stun it again. She then decided to save her ki for stunning strikes, so she just did a regular unarmed strike. Aldalomiel shot Lamie’s again with her sling for 35 points of damage with her first shot. Her second shot missed. Then she assumed a starry form, one we hadn’t seen before, a form of a chalice constellation overlaid her.

Elama cast spiritual weapon and attacked with her thunder-cloud’s lightning bolt, then attacked separately with her sword. Elderron upcast magic missile sending one missile each to Marxine’s and Vinya’s, which looked about equally damaged, and two to Elama’s, which was very wobbly looking. The fire-missiles again hit with a hiss and puff of noxious steam -- they clearly didn’t do their full measure of damage, but did succeed in shutting down the trolls’ regeneration.

Marxine missed twice with her attacks, then was bitten and clawed by the troll she was fighting in return. Vinya’s troll was stunned and didn’t nothing. Elama’s troll bit her and she retaliated with her lightning energy -- which dropped it!

Vinya punched hers twice and tried to stun it twice. Unfortunately, it saved versus both attempts so she spent some of her ki-energy to do her patient defense.

Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark to the one on Marxine and shot it twice, hitting twice. Then she moved to within 30 feet of both Marxine and Vinya and cast healing word on Marxine. The starry constellation form flared and some healing was reflected over to Vinya as well. Elama also cast healing word on Marxine, then tried to sacred flame the troll on Vinya, but it saved.

Elderron cast another high-level magic missile sending one bolt to the troll Elama dropped, to make sure it would stay dead, one on Vinya’s, which was still under the effect of the confusion spell, and two on Marxine’s. There was a bit of damage done all around.

Marxine had the thought to rally some of the sailors to try and help us, but didn’t see any when she looked around. So she attacked, getting one hit.

The one on her hit her with both of it’s claws, but it didn’t do great damage. Vinya’s troll was still confused by Elderron’s spell and just stood there doing nothing.

VInya hit hers twice then used her last ki point for patient defense, because she couldn’t count on the confusion keeping it from attacking her.

Aldalomiel took another couple of shots at Marxine’s, hitting once -- which was enough to drop it. Then she did another healing word on Marxine and reflected some healing on to Vinya again.

Elama moved her spiritual weapon over to the one on Vinya and attacked with it, but it missed, then she again sacred flamed it. This time it didn’t save. Elderron cast another magic missile spell -- sending one missile to the one that Aldalomiel dropped and three to the one on Vinya. Marxine came over to help Vinya -- getting a critical hit and drawing down a divine smite into the hit. That was enough to drop the last one!

Elderron shot a firebolt into it to make sure it would stay dead.

After the trolls were dropped and we could look around, we noticed that there were sailors in the rigging with crossbows. They told us later that because of our close fighting with the trolls, they hadn’t been able to get a clear shot.

Elama: I’m going to bed now.

Vinya took her second watch and let Elama cover Vinya’s spot on third watch.

Vinya, to a sailor: Do these things come up often? Those were nasty.
Sailor: I’ve never seen that many at once. Or ones that big. But weird things happen when there are adventurers aboard.

The rest of the night, and the next 16 days, passed without incident.


25 Kalavin 749 (Campaign day 146)

Toward nightfall, Elama’s cloak of the weather turned very dark gray and felt almost damp to the touch.


26 Kalavin 749 (Campaign day 147)

Near dawn on this day, we spotted a distinct storm in the distance -- like a powerful but constrained typhoon about two miles wide. Vinya’d heard of storm giants and knew that they lived under the sea and on islands. The sailors didn’t know of any islands around where they thought we were, so if it was a storm giant it was living under the sea.

Whatever it was, Captain Bultar and the sailors wanted nothing at all to do with it, so they sailed wide around. As we sailed around, we watched the violent storm -- lightning flashed within the clouds and down to the ocean surface and thunder could be heard even miles away.

Vinya kept an eye on the storm to make sure it didn’t move in our direction. Elama just appreciated and enjoyed watching it.

Navigating around the storm added a little time to our journey, the rest of which passed without incident.


8 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 159)

The coastline of Za’akkesh became visible in the afternoon and the barrier islands around the Dhaqin Lagoon distinct from the main coastline just around dark. We encountered some outgoing traffic as we approached the barrier islands. The Captain warned those outgoing ships about the storm giant on the sea-way to New Arvai. He also asked about what was going on in Dhaqi. He was told that there have been disappearances and also that there appeared to be some semi-contagious thing going on. One of the ship captains told him about something that, when it was defeated, turned to worms that then disappeared into the ground. Another ship mentioned rumors of an incident at a crematorium where the corpses rose up.

We anchored outside the barrier islands at night, because the navigator was skilled but not crazy enough to try and navigate the ever-shifting barrier islands in the dark.


9 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 160)

The next morning at dawn, the ship weighed anchor and we navigated through the barrier islands and into the Dhaqin Lagoon. We sailed past a few of the city’s islands, noting the piers stretching out into the lagoon and canals running between and into the islands. The buildings were mostly low, though one of the islands furthest from the ocean had some taller buildings. The captain told us that was the izirate (island/city district) of Bakar, where the city government buildings are.

He told us we were going to be tying up in Tiras, the most outward looking and cosmopolitan of izirates in this very most cosmopolitan city. He told us that there was a part of the izirate called the Society of Guests that was a cluster of separate inns all within a few blocks. He specifically recommended an inn within the Society of Guests called Bultir’s.

He also told us about some other sights in the city that we should check out. He mentioned specifically Windows of the Past, which he said was something between an art gallery and a store.

Captain Bultar: It is amazing! Also the Feet of Marduk in Oldest Dhaqi are impressive and you might find them interesting since you seem to have an interest in things that predate the Severance.

We asked where we should go to see if we can help with the situation with the undead and worms and cultists. He said that we should go to the izirate Bakar and go to the Kul-Izir’s palace, which is also the main government complex: the Dojh. The guard are headquartered there and that’s a good place to offer our services to the city.

He said the best places to find food and entertainment are in Dhur, a central izirate a bridge away from Tiras and from Bakar. He recommended a place called Istin’s.

Elderron asked about where we could go to look for items for sale. He told us we could find stores on the Ledge -- part of Dhur where it faces Alhim and Bakar.

After a bit of sailing through the lagoon and Captain Bultar pointing out sights to us and telling us things we should be sure to see, he put in at a long pier where he’d been contracted to deliver his cargo. As we prepared to debark just after breakfast, he gave us directions to Bultir’s, the inn he recommended in the Society of Guests.

Vinya: Thank you, Captain Bultar. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you. Also, if you hear of anything that we might be interested in, please let us know.
Bultar: I will. And good luck to you. May the Queen of Cities open her arms to you.

We went to Bultir’s, where we immediately took a large suite with multiple bedrooms and a couple of sitting rooms for six nights. Then we walked around the city, getting lunch at a restaurant along the way. Lunch was dark beer and something like mole negro street tacos and it was delicious.

The city is substantially larger than New Arvai -- there’s a park/green space in Bakar that’s several square miles. The city is not really gaudy -- it’s fanciest in Bakar because that’s where the Kul-Izir lives. She shows off her wealth much more than is typical for even the other powerful and wealthy people in the city. There is little vehicle traffic in the city -- it is mostly designed for foot traffic and a few riding animals or hand-carts. We walked across the bridge to the part of the city on the mainland, Oldest Dhaqi, where we saw Marduk’s Feet -- the feet of what was clearly a colossal statue straddling a canal that came across the flatlands from the mountains.

Vinya looked around and didn’t see any signs or inscriptions or explanation, so she asked someone nearby what they could tell us about the statue. We were told that it’s a statue of the city’s patron God, Marduk. Dhaqi’s first sign of the Severance was the collapse of the statue. All that remains of it now is the feet.

We decided to go to Windows of the Past, the gallery that Captain Bultar recommended to us. The building has no windows visible from the outside, but when you walk inside there are windows hung like paintings on the wall. Each one looked on a different view from somewhere on Erkonin. One of them looked out on a view of the Blackfield of Embernook, which Vinya recognized from her trip from New Arvai to the Knot. One of them looked out on Kiranamakir, the sign said (the architecture looks like Ankgor Wat). One of them was a place we recognized -- a scenic view of Promontory in Erlin.

We ended at the end of a day of sightseeing, preparing to head back to Bultir’s to have dinner and rest for the night.

We will start looking for worm things and dead people next session.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 34: Worms Upon Worms Upon Worms

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

We ended the previous session with a long rest after a lovely day sight-seeing and getting oriented to Dhaqi.


10 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 161)

We had very unsettling dreams -- even the elves found it hard to trance properly -- and the whole party gave up on resting around 6 am. Aldalomiel mentioned that all she could see in her trance-visions were worms upon worms upon worms.

Ew.

We shuffled down to breakfast and found that a lot of the other guests at Bultir’s inn were also looking for breakfast and wearing that “I can’t get back to sleep” look.

Bultir himself was bustling around as best he could -- we could see a brace on his leg that we hadn’t noticed when we took our rooms because he was behind the counter. He was limping and moving around serving coffee and food. He didn’t look like he’d slept at all either.

Vinya asked if she could help with getting breakfast out to people.

Bultir: I’ve got it. I feel responsibility for this.
Vinya: Why?
Bultir: It’s my inn.

Vinya noticed that after a few minutes there were some servers coming in to help Bultir.

We talked a little bit about how to get a start on figuring out what’s up with the people breaking up into
worms.

Vinya: I’d just go to the guard, because they’ll know what’s happened. But I’m sure Marxine has a better idea and I’m cool with that.

We remembered that we’d heard of an incident at a crematorium where the bodies had objected to being burned.

Marxine: Let’s go talk to the people at the crematorium.
Vinya (to a server): Where are the crematoria in town?
Server: The biggest ones are on Dhur. If you go to Anakim’s Ladder, the Temple of the Last Doorway has the largest crematorium. They’re something of a tourist attraction.

We decided to go there after we finished our breakfast. While we were eating Elama heard a voice in her head and shared it with us.

Elama: I just heard a voice saying to go to the Ladder. It sounded like Bultir, but his mouth wasn’t moving. He also said “Worms are rising.”

We asked the server how to get to Anakim’s Ladder and headed out that way after we finished our breakfast. As we walked we noticed that the other people on the street looked pretty normal -- apparently only the people at Bultir’s slept poorly. We considered going back to talk to him, but decided that we’d wait on that until we’d spoken to the people at the crematorium.

Anakim’s Ladder is a very narrow and steeply sloped road, almost an alley, with temples on either side of it. It’s not much more than two people wide -- so we were proceeding with Aldalomiel and Marxine in the front and Elama and Vinya in the back, with Elderron in the middle of the pack.

Because of the flail of warning, no one in the party was surprised but only Vinya and Elama saw gaunt figures with crawling, seething skin approaching from the alleys making a dim gurgling noise. With the warning from the flail, Aldalomiel looked down a side alley and saw some of them.

Aldalomiel: There’s something nightmare inducing down this alley.

Then she put her hunter’s mark on it and shot it twice.

Vinya: There’s more back here.

Vinya shot two sunbolts at the one she could see down a side alley, then moved between one behind us and Elama and took a defensive stance. Elderron moved to where Vinya had been and fired scorching rays at the one down the side alley. All three of them hit, it’s not hard to hit them, but the damage wasn’t great. Marxine moved to attack the same one that Vinya and Elderron had attacked, throwing hand axes at it.

One of them attacked Vinya, attacking with clawed hands and missing with both. A wormy-leechy thing was flung off it toward her, but she dodged that. Aldalomiel was hit by a claw -- it did both slashing and necrotic damage -- and dodged the worm. Marxine was completely missed by hers and also dodged the worm.

Elama cast sacred flame on the one that attacked Marxine -- it did not manage to save and it clearly didn’t like the radiant energy. Aldalomiel, with one right in front of her, dropped her bow, assumed her starry archer form, and drew her sword. She fired one of her radiant bolts at the one in front of her, hitting it. Vinya, unwilling to touch these things with her bare fists, shot sunbolts at the one right in front of her. Then she did patient defense again. Elderron shot three scorching rays at the one on Marxine -- it writhed and burst into flames and then smoldered with soft pops as the worms burst, but they didn’t burrow into the ground.

Marxine, now free, went down to fight the same one as Vinya, moving into a flanking position and hitting it.

The worm-zombie they were fighting attacked Vinya and missed her, but unfortunately Marxine didn’t dodge the flung worm/leech -- it started latching onto her neck. Ew!

Aldalomiel was hit once by hers but she did dodge the worm.

Elama dropped a spiritual weapon on the one on Aldalomiel, hitting with that, then she went and attacked with her sword, hitting and doing thunder damage in addition to the weapon damage. Aldalomiel missed with her sword, but the radiant arrow bolt did hit. Vinya shot two sunbolts at the one she and Marxine were fighting. It was still there so she summoned her ki energy for two more. The first one dropped it so she fired her last sunbolt at the one on Aldalomiel. Then she watched to see if the worms were burrowing into the ground -- they were not. The radiant energy appeared to have killed the worms. Good.

Elderron shot a firebolt at the one on Aldalomiel, dropping it with flame. Marxine, seeing no more opponents, scraped the nasty worm-leech thing off her neck.

Elderron recognized these things as undead of Orcus called the Spawn of Kyuss. The worms burrow into you and head for your brain, necrotizing parts of your brain. If you die with the worms inside you, you come back as a Spawn yourself. They exist because Orcus willed them into being -- he doesn’t have a direct connection to them as far as controlling their behavior or activities. There might be an Orcus cabal behind them, though.

We continued on our way up the very narrow Ladder.

Elama: This town is a maze of narrow streets. Someone could get lost in here.

We found our way, without getting lost or encountering further nastiness, to the temple of The Last Doorway. The temple was open, the doors wide and welcoming to those who needed them, but empty.

Marxine did her divine sense to see if the place had been desecrated and get a general vibe check. She sensed that something BAD had happened here -- the place has been desecrated indeed.

Oh dear.

We looked all around this floor -- the main hall was in the back with smaller chambers around the halls, private rooms that the grieving could retreat to. The crematoria themselves were doors in the walls of the hall. There were stairs down from the main ritual space. There was no one alive on this floor.

We noticed blood, still not entirely dry, on the floor near the stairs down.

We realized that this must have just happened -- because if it had happened even the day before word would have gotten out about it and the waitress wouldn’t have sent us to an abattoir. We heard about worms and problems at a crematorium two days ago when we were sailing into the lagoon, but this must have been more recent than that.

We headed down the stairs, the warning from the flail sounding in our heads as we went down the five foot wide stairs single file (Marxine, Aldalomiel, Elderron, Elama, Vinya). At the bottom of the stairs was a large room with big columns and some piles of stuff -- wooden crates and barrels, old pews, some plain lumber, etc.

There were also 10 of the Spawn of Kyuss -- shuffling around in the dim light. There were also two more normal looking humanoids -- though they looked a little puffy and squirmy under the skin. The two more normal puffy-looking ones were wearing priestly garb, though it didn’t look quite right, like it wasn’t cut for the bodies they now had. The robes were torn up, stained, defaced, and weren’t the robes of priests of the Last Doorway. We recognized one as from the Hearthkeepers and the other as from the Last Laugh. Some of the Spawn were wearing what we figured were stained and damaged guard uniforms, some were wearing the tattered remains of regular clothes

Aldalomiel pushed past Marxine and very slightly into the room (against the wall just to the left of the stairs). She was still glowing with her starry form, so she took two arrow shots at one of the two puffy people, hitting twice. One of the arrows did a lot of damage and went right through the figure, and greenish worms leaked out of the hole. Her radiant arrow bolt also hit.

Elderron cast fireball on the two puffy people without moving, also getting two of the Spawn in it. One of the puffy people got out of the way. It was clear that the Spawn don’t like fire any more than they like radiant energy. Good.

Vinya used her slippers of spider climb to run on the walls and ceiling and get past the rest of the party. She moved just into the room to the right of the doorway, mirroring Aldalomiel’s position. She fired two sunbolts at the Spawn nearest to her, hitting once, then did patient defense, because she could see a bunch that were going to be heading her direction.

One of the puffy ones moved slightly and shot a coruscating black bolt at Aldalomiel that did nasty necrotizing damage. It then moved into cover behind a pillar. The other one shot a similar bolt at Marxine, missing wildly, and also moved into cover.

Elama came down the stairs and got against the wall next to Vinya. She cast spiritual weapon on the one Vinya shot at, then she cast a sacred flame on it, which it utterly failed to dodge. Marxine stepped out of the stairway into the room and attacked one of the Spawn with her hammer. She hit well and did a lot of damage, but in the next second, she could see the wound healing.

Three of the Spawn attacked and mauled Marxine, who was hit once; she dodged the worms they cast at her. Two hit Elama, flinging worms that Vinya dodged. Elama did her retaliatory lightning strike, which it didn’t dodge.

Aldalomiel cast cure wounds on herself then did a radiant bolt shot at one of the ones on Marxine. Elderron got five of the Spawn, including three of the ones on Marxine, in a fireball. It wasn’t a huge fireball, but none of them saved and the fire damage kept them from regenerating. Vinya, still not wanting to touch these things, fired two sunbolts at the Spawn in front of her, then did a searing arc strike (burning hands) that hit both of the ones on herself and Elama.

The two puffy ones shot black bolts at Elderron -- one missed wildly. The other one hit him.

Elama hit with her spiritual weapon and with her sword. Marxine attacked one of the ones that had been in a fireball, hitting it and getting a critical hit, which she drew divine energy down into. Then she did her action surge. She dropped that one and moved to the next one in line.

One of the Spawn attacked Elama, hitting her but getting dropped by her retaliatory lightning strike, though it needed to take fire or radiant energy damage to keep from regenerating. One attacked Marxine, and she was unable to dodge the worm that it flung. One attacked Vinya, hitting her twice. Only two of the Spawn, which had been way at the far side of the room, were still undamaged at this point.

Aldalomiel shot two arrows at one that had broken away toward her location in the corner of the room. Then she shot it with a radiant bolt.

Elderron found himself in a complicated situation -- he had one heading straight toward him, but it wasn’t quite there yet. He shot a lightning bolt, changing the damage to fire damage, that was able to catch three of them. Vinya fired a sunbolt at the one that was heading toward Elderron and Elama, dropping it. She shot her other sun bolt at the one on her. Then she did a searing arc strike on the one on her, the one that Elama had dropped (that just needed some radiant or fire damage to stay down) and a free-floating one that was heading toward Elderron.

The two puffy ones shot their necrotic bolts at Elderron -- one missed and he was able to use his shield spell to block the other one. Then they both moved toward where Aldalomiel was in the corner -- they had also been moving up from the back of the room slowly.

Elama cast bane on the three surrounding Marxine, affecting all of them, then her spiritual weapon hit the last one on herself and Vinya, dropping it. Then she moved into the corner opposite the one Aldalomiel was in.

Marxine got her second wind and scraped the worm off of her neck before it started burrowing toward her brain.

Unfortunately, the three spawn on her immediately regenerated some of the damage they’d taken and attacked her. She dodged two of the worms but in doing so dodged into another one. One moved up on Vinya, hitting her twice. Vinya was badly hurt at that point, but did dodge the worm. One attacked Aldalomiel -- but it missed her and she missed the worm.

She did find herself with a Spawn right in front of her, so she dropped her bow and drew her sword, hitting twice. Then she shot her radiant bolt at it, hitting. Elderron cast a fireball that caught both of the puffy people and two of the Spawn of Kyuss. The two Spawn burned completely up.

Vinya dropped the Spawn right in front of Elderron with a sunbolt, then shot one that had not yet been touched that had made its way to right in front of her. Then she did patient defense, because she really didn’t want to take another hit.

One of the puffy ones then finally got to Aldalomiel. It stuck an arm down its throat to the elbow and pulled out a writhing handful of greenish worms and tried to hit her with it. Missing twice. The other one did the same with Marxine and also missed twice.

Gah!!

Elama’s spiritual weapon hit the one on Vinya very solidly. Then she cast a big guiding bolt on the puffy guy on Aldalomiel, blowing it away with the radiant energy (to which they are apparently vulnerable). Elama raised her sword in triumph, then ducked behind a pillar into cover.

Marxine hit the puffy guy in front of her, then hit it a second time, doing a divine smite that dropped it. The worms came out of it, but with the radiant energy dancing over them they just evaporated.

One of the remaining Spawn attacked Marxine, missing with its attack, but she did catch another worm from it. The one on Vinya missed her and she dodged the worm.

Aldalomiel hit the Spawn in front of her twice with her sword and then fired a radiant bolt at it. The radiant bolt dropped it. Elderron cast scorching ray, sending one bolt to the Spawn on Vinya and two to the Spawn on Marxine. Vinya missed twice with sunbolts, then did patient defense. Elama cast healing word on Vinya, bringing her back from the brink, then she cast sacred flame on the one on Vinya, but it saved against it. Marxine attacked the one in front of her, hitting once, though she took damage from the worms penetrating her body and heading toward her brain.

The Spawn attacked Marxine -- again it missed but she didn’t dodge the worm it flung at her. So she now had three worms. Egads. Vinya was hit by the Spawn on her -- but she wasn’t dropped. Not quite.

Aldalomiel cast a guiding bolt on the one on Vinya then fired her radiant bolt at the one on Marxine. Elderron did a magic missile, modified to do radiant damage, at the one on Vinya. Vinya finally dropped it with her first sunbolt. She fired the second sunbolt at Marxine’s. Elama moved her spiritual weapon to Marxine’s and hit it - but it saved against the sacred flame. Fortunately, Marxine was able to drop it, after taking more damage from the worms.

Elama immediately cast lesser restoration on Marxine to heal all the worms before they could kill her and cause her to come back as a Spawn of Kyuss.

We glanced around the room and saw no other exits.

And there we ended.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 35: Deputized and Doing Research

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


10 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 161)(immediately after)

After the last of the Sons of Kyuss dropped, we searched the room in the basement of the temple of the Last Doorway. Toward the far end of the room, where the two puffy worm guys had been when we arrived, we saw an incomplete summoning circle made of blood, viscera, and grey matter. We also saw a couple of corpses, one wearing the robes of a priest of the Last Doorway, that had been partially torn apart and turned into the foul raw materials for that summoning circle. (The other partially disassembled corpse was wearing ordinary street clothes.)

Elderron looked at the circle and realized that the puffy worm guys were attempting to summon Orcus himself.

We looked back over at the remains of the puffy guys -- with the worms destroyed by the radiant and fire damage they’d taken, what was left was a skeleton inside (basically) a skin sack. With the worms killed, there was nothing like muscle or meat or inside-stuff between the bones and the skin.

The temple was completely empty and obviously desecrated -- the circle to summon Orcus being a large part of the desecration. Also the puffy guys appear to have an inherent ability to unhallow places.

Elama did a sending to our innkeeper Bultir asking if he knew of anything else that might be going on.

Bultir (through the sending): I knew the worms were rising and where, and that they were a threat to Erkonin. Further information I do not have. Sincerest apologies.

After making sure that the temple was clear, we left, talking about where we should go and what we should do next. As we walked out of the temple, there was a group of guards arriving at the temple. They were being led by a dragonborn woman in a breastplate. She introduced herself as Sgt. Khalixi.

We explained that we’d heard about problems with corpses breaking into worms and something happening at one of the crematoria when we were sailing into the, so we came to the Last Doorway looking to talk to people about that incident and found the temple empty and desecrated -- and wormy undead in the basement.

We led her down to the basement, Aldalomiel keeping some distance from the dragonborn, while we showed her the remains of the Spawn of Kyuss and the puffy worm people -- including that one of the puffy people had been wearing the robes of the Hearthkeepers and the other was wearing tattered robes from the Last Laugh. Elderron showed her the summoning circle and pointed out the elements that made it clear it was a circle to summon Orcus.

Marxine: When we first arrived, I could sense that something had desecrated the temple. Then we came downstairs and found all of this.

While we were talking to her, we mentioned that we’d come to Dhaqi because we’d heard that there was some trouble with cabals and that the city wasn’t as peaceful as usual.

We went back upstairs.

Khalixi: I’d like to take you back to the guard house so you can explain what you fought and why you were in the temple.

We agreed to that.

Khalixi (to Aldalomiel): It’s clear that you are uncomfortable with my presence. Have I given offense?
Aldalomiel: It is not you. I have a history with one of your kind.
Khalixi: Would you prefer my corporal accompany you?
Aldalomiel: I need to work through these issues. It is fine.

Khalixi then gestured the gnome, her corporal, over and gave him some instructions about checking the neighboring temples.

She then started leading us on a walk through Dhur. During the 10 minute walk Vinya spoke to her.

Vinya: We’re concerned about other temples with crematoria.
Khalixi: My corporal is checking them out and will report.
Vinya: Good. Good.

We arrived at the guard house after about a 10 minute walk and were taken to a nice and quiet anteroom. Khalixi pointed us to a table with tea and other beverages and to a wash room in the back.

Khalixi: Please feel free to refresh yourselves and wash up. Someone will be back for you shortly but you will have time to get your breath back.

Vinya washed her face and hands and got a cup of tea.

After a few minutes, Khalixi came back with a large, heavily built albino man with what we would think of as African features.

Khalixi: This is Lieutenant Linnolim.
Linnolim: Good morning. My sergeant tells me that we owe you thanks and that you have information we need. Please come with me.

We followed him into his office -- it was clear that extra chairs had been brought in for us, including one that was distinctly dwarven-sized for Marxine.

Linnolim: So you found some Spawn of Kyuss around and under the temple of the Last Doorway.
Vinya: Yes, those. Also some others.
Elderron: Puffy-looking humanoids. Undead. With worms inside. They reached into their throats and pulled out handfuls of worms and tried to hit Aldalomiel.
Linnolim: Oh. You found a couple of Suffragans. Some people who are killed by the Spawn come back as Suffragans. Others come back as Spawn. I have come across both in my younger adventuring days. You used light on the Suffragans, yes?
Vinya: Yes.
Linnolim, to Marxine: My sergeant said that you could feel something was wrong there. Unholy. That is a gift that I’m well familiar with.
Marxine: I’m worried about the other priests and people who should have been there?
Linnolim: We believe that there was one priest and perhaps one other person there. Fortunately, it was early in the morning so they wouldn’t have been busy. The parsonage for the Last Doorway is a couple of blocks a way -- the off-duty priests would have been at the parsonage and not at the temple.
Vinya: We’re also worried about the other temples. The suffragans were wearing robes from the Last Laugh and the Hearthkeepers. So something bad must have happened in those temples as well.
Linnolim: Sgt. Khalixi had her corporal check that out.
Vinya: We arrived in Dhaqi yesterday morning. While we were approaching the city, we heard from some of the outgoing ships that some undead had attacked and then broken into worms. We came to Dhaqi because we heard about things being less peaceful here than they had been.
Linnolim: That is true. Where were you before?
Vinya: New Arvai.

Elama got the sense that Linnolim was sincere and dedicated to protecting the people of this izirate, Dhur (and more broadly Dhaqi). The community is his priority. He was very curious and trying to determine how far he could trust us and if he could turn to us to help him.

Elama gave Vinya a nod and Vinya then explained about Rajalmin and that we were trying to find and stop him. We’d gotten concerned about Rajalmin being active in Dhaqi, because he’d been active here in the past. And because one member of the party that had stopped him was from Dhaqi and he seemed to hold grudges. We mentioned that we’d used a dragon page to make an inquiry about how things were in Dhaqi, sent to a colleague of the captain of the Ocean’s Blessing. We’d been told that there was unrest in the city and some trouble with cabals and fiendish business.

Linnolim: I believe that you might find information about this at the Well of Screams. It’s not as bad as it sounds. During the Fiend Wars it was a portal to both the Abyss and the Hells. Now it is a library.
Aldalomiel: It’s a weird place for a library.
Linnolim: It holds the seal in place and anyone chanting will stand out. Also it is mostly only open to members. Here is how I think we can help each other. I can get you temporary guard badges. I can also give you a letter of introduction to the Well of Screams. You can talk to the people there. (To Elderron) Perhaps you can do some research. The people there will probably be helpful as far as providing information.

He pulled some folding wallets out of his desk. He opened one and showed us the bronze badge inside.

Linnolim: If these badges are out of this building for more than 36 hours, they’ll corrode and turn green. People will know that they have expired, so to speak. I suggest that you come in every morning and let me know what you’ve done the previous day and what you’re planning. That way I’ll stay abreast of what’s going on. And if you don’t check in, I’ll know where to look for you.
Marxine: That all sounds reasonable.
Vinya: Have you heard about other cabal problems in the city?
Linnolim: Not on Dhur. Maybe in the other izirates, though. The badges are technically city-wide, but they won’t have much pull outside of Dhur.
Marxine: I trust you, so far, but not everyone is so responsible in a position of power. Is there anyone we should avoid or seek out?
Linnolim: I believe that our Izir would have a better sense of what’s going on in the city overall, She has far better connections with other Izirs and other parts of the city. She is a far more political being than I am. I could arrange a meeting for you. That may take a few days. Where did you say you were staying?
Vinya: Bultir’s.
Linnolim: Ah, the Society of Guests. Bultir is a good guy. Pity about his leg.

He then handed each of us a wallet with a badge inside.

Elama: I can pull it out and say ‘I’m Elama. FBI.’
Linnolim: You could do that.

We asked if he had any place he could recommend that we go to check out or people to talk to other than the Well of Screams.

Linnolim: In Kalam there is the Truthteller’s Downfall. If anywhere has information others don’t want spread, it is there. Also Feloz. The entire izirate. Except for the Hall of Whispered Blades, that is not a place that has information you need.
Vinya: What do they do there?
Linnolim: People there practice using words to kill.

He then wrote us a letter of introduction to the Well of Screams. He let us read it before we left -- it asked them to talk to us and then make a decision about whether we should be allowed access to the library.

Vinya: Can we hang out in that room for a while and rest before we head out into the city again?
Linnolim: Certainly. Clean up. Rest. Enjoy the tea.

After a short rest, we headed to the Well of Screams, after deciding that talking to Bultir about how he knew things were going on in the Ladder could wait until we were back in the inn.

At the Well of Screams we were greeted by a gnome at the door. We explained that we were looking for information about rakshasa in general and Rajalmin in specific, and then handed her the letter from Lt. Linnolim.

The gnome went and came back with an albino woman, also with African features like Lt. Linnolim. She had a wad of burn scars on her face and arms. She looked over the letter.

Woman: I see my brother sent you to me. I am Jorcha Linnolim. Come in. I have heard of Rajalmin.

She invited us into the library and led us to a quiet room where we could speak.

Jorcha: When Rajalmin was working in Dhaqi before, creating smaller portals around the city that collectively formed a pattern that was a larger gate. Here, in fact. He was trying to re-open the gate under the Well of Screams.
Vinya: Could he have anything to do with the Orcus cabal and the Spawn of Kyuss?
Jorcha: I find the idea of Rajalmin working with demon cabalists is very unlikely, because demons and devils do not get along at all.
Vinya: I was concerned about that as well. It just seemed weird for him to be involved in a cabal that was summoning demons.
Marxine: We want to follow through with this demon problem here in Dhaqi, as well as staying on the trail of Rajalmin.
Jorcha: Well, certainly the Suffragans and Spawn of Kyuss indicate that something related to Orcus is going on. That’s not a good thing. It would be worth finding out if crematoria in other izirates have had a similar problem. It seems as though there might be something there.
Vinya: In New Arvai we couldn’t figure out how to encounter cabals or cultists. All we had was the sense that people who turn to making deals with fiends are often desperate, or feel they are. Where would be the best places to find people who would fit that description here?
Jorcha: Well, Alhim and Oldest Dhaqi are the more down-at-the-heels part of town. Maybe people are more desperate there.
Vinya: Is there an izirate that might appeal to an entity with hedonism on his top two list?
Jorcha: Alhim, perhaps. That is the izirate where vices are most given in to. It has the weakest vice laws.
Vinya: You mentioned that there are crematoria in other izirates. How might we find those?
Jorcha: Every izirate has at least one crematorium. In Alhim and Oldest Dhaqi there are public crematoria for those who can’t pay even the modest rates at the Last Doorway. Every izirate has civil or secular ones, for those who don’t feel a need for a religious gloss on the disposal of their remains. There is a private crematory in the Dojh, the Kul-Izir’s residence and the seat of government, but that is strictly for the Kul-Izir and others in her family. That is probably not going to be of interest to you.
Vinya: Not now, in any case.
Jorcha: Bakar has a lot of old/abandoned temples from before the Severance. The neighborhood is called Broken God Lane. Most of the temples are now used for other things, mostly not religious activities, but there might be some religious energy, and that can sometimes linger and go weird.
Vinya: Can you give us a map or something -- showing where the circles Rajalmin created were when he was active here 200 years ago?

Jorcha went to a shelf and pulled out some maps, one for each izirate.

Jorcha: No. I do not want to start to create the sigil that he was creating, even on paper. I do have a map of each izirate and will write down for you a description of where they were.
Vinya: That makes sense.
Jorcha: There were two in each izirate except Kalam.
Vinya: Why not there?
Jorcha: At that time, Kalam was still under construction. One of the ones in Dhur was at the Well of Screams and it was aiming the gate in the Well at the Hells, not the Abyss.
Vinya: Are there books here that might be useful for our research people?
Jorcha: Of course. I am happy to assist whoever would like to be here with research.

Elderron stayed to be Team Research in the library.

He found a good deal of information about Rajalmin specifically. He’s a good deal more scary than the average Rakshasa as far as being vengeful and unpleasant, and being somewhat more powerful than the norm. He found that Rajalmin has only a few, like five, plans that he’s done. He repurposes plans, or recasts the basic idea into new forms, He hasn’t done any of the ones that are known and showing up in the library’s materials about him less than twice. (For example: He used shape-shifters in Kiranamakir 200 years ago, creating discord and dramatically increasing the number of duels. And the duellists didn’t follow the normal “rules” -- so people were hurt and the professional class of duellists were substantially reduced. The details were different but the general idea of using shape-shifters to copy people and break down a social fabric was re-used in Torm Brinnom.)

DM’s NOTE: It turns out there are seven tactics that Rajalmin has used repeatedly, in varied combinations:

Using shapeshifters to sow social discord.
Running one or more cabals
Opening one or more gates to the Hells.
Pitting potential opponents and law enforcement against each other.
Blackmailing people in positions of power.
Impersonating one or more authority figures.
Defaming organizations that might interfere.

Team Walking Around decided to head toward Oldest Dhaqi, to go to the secular crematory there (as it is the largest one in the city) by way of Broken God Lane in Bakar, because Vinya really wanted to see that.

Bakar is the most opulent part of Dhaqi -- the buildings openly display some luxury and glamorous touches, though it’s still pretty restrained. In Broken God Lane we could see that the pre-Severance temples were mostly still in pretty good shape -- at least the architecture was still there. Though the things that were specific to individual gods have been removed or altered.

We did see a big temple near the Dojh. The building was clearly one of the ancient temples, but it had been turned into a temple of the Enthroned because it was the temple closest to the Dojh. The temple statues had been modified to suit the iconography of the Enthroned.

We decided to go in and talk to them a little bit. We were greeted by one of the priests. Vinya asked about the new teachings of the Enthroned in New Arvai. The priest said that those teachings sounded interesting, but didn’t seem as necessary in Dhaqi because the powerful had a different sort of relationship to those with less power, and less of an inclination to self-indulgence.

Marxine asked about undead. We could see that the priest was upset by that -- her teeth were clenched and she seemed completely scandalized by the idea of undead.

Marxine: Have you heard about anything like that elsewhere in the city?
Priestess: Not in Bakar. Or in any of the other izirates with Enthroned temples. Or at least the word hasn’t gotten to other Enthroned temples. It’s extremely disturbing that this could happen in the temple of The Last Doorway -- they have extensive wards to protect against undead, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Vinya: Do you know what god this temple was dedicated to before the Severance?
Priestess: Marduk, the city’s patron. Many of the temples on Broken God Lane were to Marduk -- though other, less majestic aspects of him. I know there’s at least one to him in his role as god of water and agriculture. One for him in his role as god of judges. There are undoubtedly others to gods related to him.
Marxine: Do you know about Orcus?
Priestess: People who deal with demons seem completely deranged. People who want to be undead are deranged. People who deal with a demon whose main promise is undeath...I’m not sure if that’s deranged times two or deranged squared.

We agreed with that, then thanked her and took our leave.

We walked along Broken God Lane. Vinya was looking for any Elven architecture among the ancient temples. Marxine, who was much more focused and on point, was looking for former gods that might have had anything to do with death, Perhaps funerary gods or gods particularly in opposition to undeath.

We didn’t see anything that fit either of those. So we got to The Shining Avenue in Oldest Dhaqi, where we’d been told there was a large public crematorium. There were also cafes and restaurants. The cafes had people brewing coffee over the hot sand (as they do it in Turkey and other places).

We went to the large public/secular crematorium and were met by a couple of civil servants.

Civil Servant: Hello. Forgive me but none of you people look dead.
Marxine: For better or worse. We did run into problems with undead in this town.
Civil Servant: Ack! That sounds bad and unfortunate! You killed them, right?
Marxine: Yeah. Have you heard of anything like that here?
Civil Servant: No.
Vinya: We heard about something a couple of days ago -- about corpses objecting to being burned at one of the crematoria. That was a separate incident from the one we dealt with this morning.

The two of them looked at each other, then one spoke.

Civil Servant 2: Perhaps Alhim? The Street of Shades. The crematory there is troubled.
Vinya (flashing her badge): If you hear of problems, please contact the guard in Dhur. We’re working with them.

We decided to go collect Elderron at the library before heading to the Street of Shades.

And there we ended.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 36: More Undead. Lots More. So Many.

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


10 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 161)(immediately after)

After talking to the people at the public crematory in Oldest Dhaqi, we went to the Well of Screams to collect Elderron.

Marxine: We have a lead on something.
Elderron: Let’s go.

We then headed toward Alhim and the Street of Shades. It was getting toward dinnertime and dusk was well advanced. There was some light still on the tops of the buildings, but down at the level of Alhim’s twisty narrow streets it was all shadows. Along the way, Aldalomiel took on her starry chalice form and healed Vinya some, because she was still in pretty rough shape after fighting the wormy guys in the Last Doorway temple.

Vinya cast detect evil and good from the rod of alertness, since we were looking for undead.

Well before we got to the Street of Shades, we heard screaming ahead of us. We saw angry-looking incorporeal humanoids, some of which were partially in the walls or passing through them, menacing some civilians on the street. These were not at all similar to the Sons of Kyuss, which are disgustingly corporeal.

Aldalomiel changed her starry form to her archer form, then she shot two arrows and the radiant bolt at the nearest one to us. Vinya, still not in great shape despite Aldalomiel’s very welcome healing while walking, planted the Rod of Alertness in the ground (giving all of us an advantage to AC and saves), moved into the road (to clear the way for people to move into the intersection) and did patient defense.

The spectres on one side (to the right of the picture) attacked the civilians they were menacing. One of them actually missed but the other civilians were instantly killed.

Marxine moved between the one surviving civilian on that side and the spectre menacing it. She attacked the menacing spectre and got a critical hit, which dropped it. She then moved to the next nearest and and attacked. She spared a glance for the dropped civilian up in that corner and saw that it was really absolutely dead, not merely dropped.

The spectres on the other side attacked and killed the civilians they could reach, dropping all of them. From further away down both the right and left sides of the little block we could hear more screaming.

Elama went the other direction from Marxine (who went to the right of the picture) and attacked one with her sword, doing thunder damage as well as the sword damage.

The one surviving civilian ran past Marxine and Vinya and down the hallway to near Aldalomiel.

Elderron moved to the corner of the alley and shot a firebolt at the same one Elama attacked, then he moved back into the alley in a position protecting the fleeing civilian. Aldalomiel moved to the doorway across from our alley, next to Elama, and shot the spectre Elama hit with her radiant bolt, dropping it. Then she moved around the corner toward where there were two more spectres. She shot one of them twice and dropped it. Vinya dropped the one Marxine hit then fired a sunbolt at one down in the corner of the alley. It hit, but the spectre wasn’t dropped. She thought about summoning her ki for some more sunbolts, but the civilian it was menacing was already dead and so she saved her energy.

A spectre came out of the wall and attacked Vinya and another one came up out the alley and attacked Marxine. Both missed. We could still hear screams coming from both directions.

Marxine attacked the one that attacked her, hitting it twice but not dropping it. Dang it.

Vinya: It’s because they’re incorporeal. It throws off the balance of the swing. And the rhythm.

Two came out of the walls near Aldalomiel -- one of them hit her. She took some damage but didn’t suffer the life-drain. One came out of the wall and took a swing at her in passing, then went into the central building in the middle of the block.

Elama, seeing that, kicked the door of the building open so hard that it flew off its hinges, then ran to the spectre inside and attacked. And missed.

The surviving civilian fled down the alley the way we’d come in through and got away to safety.

Elderron stepped to the corner of the alley again and saw two of the spectres, one to his left and one to his right. He firebolted the one he could see on Vinya and Marxine and dropped it, despite the fact that it didn’t take as much damage from the fire as he would have expected. Aldalomiel cast thunderwave, with a cracking blast of thunder, on the one in front of her, then she shot it with a radiant bolt, but it was still standing.

Vinya dropped the one left on her and Marxine with a couple of punches, then she ran down to the corner that led off to the right of the picture above, sparing a glance down the cross alley. As she ran, she yelled to Elderron.

Vinya: Elderron, please grab my rod before you go!

She didn’t see anything interesting in the cross alley but around the corner she saw another spectre.

Vinya: Hey! There’s another down here.

It moved up and attacked her, fortunately missing.

Marxine moved up and dropped it with two big hits. She stopped and listened and didn’t hear screaming in this direction any more. Good.

Spectres attacked Elama and Aldalomiel but missed.

Lamie attacked the one in the building and missed it. Elderron grabbed the rod of alertness then went into the doorway Elama had kicked open. He saw her fighting an injured spectre so he threw a firebolt at it, which dropped it despite the resistance to fire damage. Then he moved to the corner where he could see Aldalomiel.

Aldalomiel cast zephyr strike and moved to the corner to look down the road, then she shot an arrow at the one that came out of the wall at her, dropping it. She doesn’t hear screaming down this alley either. Then she headed along the cross alley. Vinya examined the body next to her and listened for screams. She ascertained that the body wasn’t going to rise as undead -- she had a bit of a recollection that she spectres don’t do that.

Vinya: We should head to the crematory. This bodes, and not well.

She’d barely finished getting the words out when one came out of the wall to attack Marxine, missing her. She attacked it and got a hit but didn’t drop it.

Aldalomiel turned back and saw one go past the end of the alley toward where she knew Elderron was. Two more came out of the wall at him and attacked. He cast shield to block the hits and was fine.

Elama: Elderron, I’ll save you!

Elama went out of the central building and cast a high-level shatter, putting all of her tempest energy into the spell, to catch the three on Elderron. In order not to also hit him, she did some damage to the buildings nearby -- all the windows shattered, adding to the huge noise from the spell, and there was a fall of dust. When the dust settled, the spectres were all still there.

Elama: Crap, they’re still here.
Elderron: I have dust in my eye.

Elderron then disengaged from the three spectres and ran backwards away from them. Aldalomel went back down the cross-alley and, when she go to the entrance to the alley, she shot one arrow each on two of them and fired a radiant bolt at the third one. She dropped two of them.

Vinya dropped the one on Marxine with a radiant bolt, then ran up the alley and across, past Elderron, and dropped the one that was still standing.

Vinya: We also serve who pick off the badly wounded.

We knocked on the doors around the area -- we found some people hiding in the buildings. We also, sadly, found some corpses both in the buildings and in the streets. We followed the “line” of bodies back from this fight toward the crematory we’d heard was troubled.

To our surprise, the bodies weren’t radiating or spreading out from the crematory. The crematory wasn’t even the end of the “line” of bodies we’d been following, it continued on beyond it. We continued to follow the trail of dead breadcrumbs past the crematorium and shortly found ourselves in the Abandoned Warehouse district. We were moving semi-sneakily along --stealth-ish.

Elama: Why didn’t we just come here in the first place?

We eventually got to where we could see a building with a lot of spectres and wraiths. Really a lot of them. We counted 21 spectres, to the extent we could individually identify them, and five wraiths, floating in and out of the walls of the building.

We backed away from the building to decide on a course of action. We decided that the area needed to be evacuated and sealed off and we needed help dealing with this situation, even though Elama thought she had a chance of being able to destroy them when she channeled divine energy.

We checked the map of Alhim we’d gotten from Jorcha Linnolim in the Well of Screams to find the nearest guard house. Vinya, as the fastest runner, ran to the precinct house, leaving the rest of the party to keep an eye on the situation.

Vinya, at the guard house: My friends and I here looking into a possible undead problem. We’re working with Lt. Linnolim in Dhur [flash badge]. There’s a big spectre problem in an abandoned warehouse. Like 20 of them. Would you like to have someone come look?
Sergeant: Yeah. Hey, Corporal, why don’t you go check this out?

A large dragonborn, Azzaorhan, stepped forward and walked with Vinya back toward the warehouse. When we got close, we started moving up stealthily, so as not to draw them all in our direction. He spotted the spectres going in and out of the walls and his eyes went wide. They went back and away from the building.

Vinya: We counted at least 20 of the spectres and maybe 5 wraiths.

We then headed back to the guard precinct.

Azzaorhan: Yeah, it’s a problem. A big problem.
Sergeant: What do you want?
Vinya: Priests with adventuring experience to help clear the building. And you need to clear the area -- evacuating people in a several block area and creating a perimeter.
Sergeant: We can make a perimeter and keep people safe. I’m not so sure about the clerics. Would you like a place to rest for the night?
Vinya: Oh, gods, yes!
Sergeant: We can do that.

Vinya went back to find the party and get them the message that we had a place to stay the night. We waited until the perimeter was set then went to the barracks. The guard had set aside an area for us with beds and a washroom for our use.

Vinya, to Sergeant: Have you had any luck lining up clerics?
Sergeant: No, ma’am.

Elderron thought about it for a bit and while we were getting ready to rest told us that spectres and wraiths are sensitive to sunlight. When we go back to fight them in the morning, we can break in the roof of the abandoned warehouse to let the sunshine in. That should help us control the battlefield a bit. Safely ensconced in the guard house, the night passed without incident.


11 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 162)(immediately after)

First thing in the morning we checked in with the Sergeant before doing anything else. He confirmed that nothing bad, or worse, happened overnight

Vinya: We need to go check in with Lt. Linnolim in Dhur. Can you keep up the perimeter?
Sergeant: Yes. No problem.

Once at the guardhouse in Dhur, we talked to Linnolim. We explained what we’d found in Alhim and what we were planning to do.

Vinya: Any word from the Hearthkeepers and the Last Laugh? Did they have any problems?
Linnolim: No.
Vinya: Really??
Marxine: Huh!
Linnolim: Yeah. It’s not what I would have expected either.
Vinya: Can they check with their their temples in other izirates?
Linnolim: We’ve asked them to do so.
Vinya: We may stop back by later today after we’ve dealt with this situation in Alhim.

We then left and headed back to Alhim and the warehouse. We were stopped by a cluster of guards a few blocks from the warehouse. We showed them our badges and they waved us through.

We stopped a bit away from the warehouse and looked at the situation in order to come up with a plan of attack. Elderron sent Oda flying around to look at the situation -- the roof of the building was completely intact and the windows were boarded over. There was a large door for loading wagons and a couple of smaller, humanoid-sized doors. We developed a plan of attack for our first round involving a shatter spell and the rod of alertness and a storm sphere.

(Note: Since the plan pretty much worked perfectly (bizarrely), I’m not going to describe it here.)

We decided to enter through the human-sized door that was most in the shadows, so that creating a hole in the roof at a distance would let in more sun. We snuck up to the doorway with a pass without trace spell up.

Elderron picked the lock so quickly and efficiently we were all amazed at his heretofore unknown skill.

Once we opened the door, all the sunlight-averse monsters inside were aware of us, and we headed in.

There was a chest-height L-shaped wall right in front of us (about 4 feet tall) and 19 spectres and 5 wraiths in the room. Off in the corner there was something on the floor (the red circle), but we couldn’t get any impression of what was going on over there as it was all just marks on the floor.

Elderron started things off with a storm sphere that covered a large section of the room, catching two wraiths and some of the spectres closest to us, while still leaving us room to get past. Then he shot a lightning bolt at the closest wraith to us, doing it radiant damage.

Elama moved into the room, along the wall and cast shatter on the roof over some of the spectres. A section of the roof collapsed, creating a circle of sunlight on the floor. Marxine dashed through the storm sphere and attacked a wraith that was inside the storm from outside it. She used her action surge and with a couple of hits and a crit (on which she did a divine smite) she dropped it.

Vinya jumped over the wall and used her ki to step of the wind to get to a good point to plant the rod of alertness to give herself and Marxine a bonus to AC and saves, and light up that side of the room.

These area effects were all distinct and not overlapping and made three different parts of the room differently unpleasant for the undead.

Aldalomiel moved and dashed to get close (but not into) the circle of daylight, then she took on her starry archer form and fired a radiant bolt and one of the wraiths.

Then all of the spectres and wraiths went. All of them. Elama wound out surrounded by four of them. One of them hit her and faced a retaliatory thunder strike that pushed it away a few feet. Three of them attacked Aldalomiel - two of those missed, but one got a crit. Another group of spectres clustered around Vinya and Marxine -- all of them missed everyone. The final group of spectres moved, several of them clustering around Aldalomiel, who got hit once. One went to Vinya. Two were heading in Elderron’s direction, but were stuck in the storm sphere.

Elderron cast misty step, then moved and dashed and made his way into the circle of sunlight. Elama took some opportunity attacks to move into a good position near Adalomiel to turn as many of the undead as she possibly could.

Which turned out to be like 10 spectres. Unfortunately, the wraiths all saved.

Then she cast spiritual weapon and attacked one of the spectres near Vinya.

Marxine took a couple of opportunity attacks to get up to one of the wraiths and attacked it, hitting twice, but unfortunately that didn’t drop it. Vinya dropped a spectre with a couple of punches then, seeing that she was well and truly surrounded, decided to spend her ki-energy on patient defense. Aldalomiel cast Zephyr strike and moved into the middle of the daylight circle, then she fired an arrow at one of the wraiths, hitting very nicely.

After spending a bit of time moving up on us, the wraiths finally attacked. Two of them attacked Marxine -- one hit her but she managed to avoid the life-drain. Vinya and Elama were both missed. The spectres on Vinya and Marxine missed for the most part (Vinya got hit once). Elderron, who was at the very edge of the circle of daylight, found himself facing three spectres lined up along the edge of the bright sunlight attacking him. He would have been hit, but he used a shield spell.

Elderron then moved a bit more deeply into the sunlight, risking some opportunity attacks while his shield spell was still active. (It was a good risk -- they all missed.) Then he cast a lightning bolt that caught three of the spectres and two of the wraiths, changing the damage to radiant and the save to strength. The three spectres all died, but the wraiths were still standing. Then he moved back into the sunlight and pulled a lightning bolt out of the storm sphere and shot the wraith on Elama. It hit, but didn’t drop, the wraith. Elama’s spiritual weapon attacked one of the ones on Vinya, hitting it solidly, then she cast spiritual guardians. Marxine attacked, but didn’t drop, the more damaged of her two wraiths. Vinya punched the wraith on her, hitting once, then did patient defense, since she was still well surrounded. Aldalomiel cast guiding bolt on one of the wraiths on Marxine, missing, and fired a radiant bolt at the wraith on Vinya. That also missed.

The wraith on Elama got beaten up, but not dropped, by the spiritual guardians, then it missed her with its attack. The wraith on Vinya missed her because of the patient defense. Marxine got hit, but again saved against the life-drain. The spectres attacked Vinya and missed.

Marxine got hit by a spectre and she failed to save against the life-drain, but fortunately the HP loss wasn’t too bad. The three spectres that Elderron had run away from moved to Elama, running into the spiritual guardians.

Elderron shot a radiant lightning bolt at the line of spectres and wraiths on the other side of vinya, dropping a couple of spectres, then he moved back into the light and called a lightning bolt out of the storm sphere that hit the wraith on Elama. Elama then dropped one of the spectres on Vinya with her spiritual weapon. Her attack on the wraith on herself hit, but didn’t drop it. Marxine got her second wind then attacked the most beaten up looking wraith on her, dropping it.

Thanks to Elderron’s efforts, Vinya had one remaining spectre on her. She dropped it with some punches, then she went to help Marxine, hitting one of her opponents with the second punch of her flurry of blows. Aldalomiel missed with a guiding bolt on Marxine’s wraith, but then dropped Lamie’s wraith with a radiant bolt.

The wraith on Marxine turned its attention to Vinya, but missed. Two of the spectres on Lamie dropped to the spiritual guardians, but one hit her and drained some of her life. The two spectres on Marxine both missed.

(Note: At this point in the session it was after 11:30 and your deponent was falling asleep. The notes hereafter are utter gibberish.)

Elderron cast lightning bolt on two of the spectres. Elama did illegible things. Marxine dropped something.

And all of them were gone.

We looked around a bit -- checking out the circle drawn on the ground. There were five rapidly decaying bodies on the ground around the circle. It looked as though the circle was part of a ritual that drew the power of Orcus and caused the people to become wraiths.

Marxine used the hammer of unmaking to smash up the circle.

Since it was nigh midnight in the real world, we saved searching the place for next session. And there we ended.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 37: Library Research and Dinner With the Izir

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


11 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 162)(immediately after)

Immediately after the huge fight with All The Spectres, we started searching the abandoned warehouse. Other than the broken summoning circle, with five bodies around it, there’s nothing here. The circle was similar to but not the same as the one in the basement of the Last Doorway. This circle seemed to be trying to summon some of the power of Orcus, to get the power to do something -- that power involved being turned into undead (whether the people using that knew it or not). The one in the Last Doorway was to summon Orcus himself, or at least a powerful avatar.

We went to the guard house. On the way, we talked about the fact that there were bound to be lots of dead people around -- those spectres left bodies behind.

At the guard house we found the same sergeant on duty.

Sergeant: You survived.
Vinya: Yes. There are five bodies in the warehouse. When you find out who they are, we’d love to know. They were doing a ritual that involved Orcus.
Sergeant: Oh. We’ll contact some artists to make sketches or molds of their faces so we can ask around and find out who they were.
Vinya: There are also going to be a lot of bodies around - there were approximately twenty spectres that have left bodies behind somewhere. They were just victims.
Sergeant: It might be easier to get the victims identified, once we find them. Families might be a bit reluctant to identify a family member who tried to call upon the power of Orcus.
Vinya: Maybe don’t lead with that -- you know, get the identification then give that information.
Sergeant: Yeah. We won’t. I’ll get my people working on making the death masks, finding the bodies, and getting people identified.

We told him we’d swing back at some point to see what they’d found. We also suggested that if they found anything urgent to get a message to the guards in Dhur.

We headed back to our inn, Bultir’s. We all wanted to talk to Bultir because he’d communicated with Elama (in her brain directly) about the worms rising in Anakim’s Ladder. When we got to the inn, Bultir greeted us effusively.

Bultir: I am so relieved to see you alive and back here.
Vinya: I’m sorry -- we wound out staying in a guard house in Alhim last night.
Bultir: I was concerned when you went to face the worms and didn’t return.

Vinya turned to look at Elama pointedly.

Elama: Huh?
Vinya: [nudged Elama toward Bultir]
Elama: Oh! You sent me that message.
Bultir: Alas, all I knew was in my dreams. Unfortunately, the whole inn shared them.
Elama: Pity. We are out of leads.
Bultir: I am sorry. In my dreams the worms were rising and that is all I know.

Vinya and Elama got a sense that he was holding something back about himself.

Marxine: What’s up with that? How do your dreams affect others.
Bultir, in her mind directly: The same way I do this. But sometimes when I dream I can’t control it.

Elama got a sense of great age or old memories about Bultir -- but he looks human. She used the helm of detect thoughts to read his surface thoughts.

Bultir, surface thoughts: I am glad they survived. The worms in the dream looked dangerous and that kind of dream is usually about something that is a threat to the whole world. Sometimes I wish the world would leave me alone. At least my previous death was quick.

Marxine: We can’t help if we don’t know what’s going on.
Bultir: All I saw in my dreams was the rising of the worms.
Marxine: You must know about the city.
Bultir: I grew up here. I have never known of worms in the city.
Vinya: Is there any record of worms like this in the city’s history. Has this happened here before?
Bultir: I’ve never heard of it. I know of the gate pointed to the Abyss and the Hells.
Vinya: Yes, we went to the Well of Screams. We met Jorcha in the Library. I believe y’all adventured together.
Bultir: Yes, we did.
Aldalomiel: How often do you share your dreams? How far does the sharing go?
Bultir: Usually it just goes a few rooms on either side of mine. This is the first time the whole inn was affected.
Vinya: Where do the dreams come from?
Bultir: Erkonin.
Aldalomiel: ??
Vinya: The world? Fascinating.

Bultir then brought us lunch, since food was included in the price of our rooms, and we took a short rest.

Over lunch, we decided to head to the library -- it seemed like Elderron could usefully do some research on the Sons of Kyuss and on the rituals and ritual circles that we found.

We all went there together and talked to Jorcha before Elderron settled down to his research.

Jorcha: How are you doing?
Vinya: Pretty okay. We had an exciting morning fighting spectres and wraiths in Alhim. People were trying to get power from Orcus.
Jorcha: That never works out well. No one gets what they want. Not even Orcus.
Vinya: That’s an interesting way to think of it.

Vinya then got lost in the weeds of pondering what it could possibly mean that Orcus wasn’t getting what he wants out of these deals.

Marxine stayed on point.

Marxine: How do we find these cabals and cults and stop them? We don’t want to play whackamole.
Elama: It makes me feel bad when we go around listening for and chasing screams, because it means someone is being hurt.
Jorcha: That’s an admirable attitude. So you’ve found two circles to Orcus. The last time someone tried to turn this gate to the Abyss, they were trying to summon or contact Juiblex.
Vinya: Okay. Not Orcus. How do we find these people? We tried in New Arvai and had no luck at all. We keep thinking about people being desperate and maybe people being more desperate in the poor part of town. But I’m not comfortable with the idea that poor people are more likely to be diabolists or demonists. That just seems like an unlikely assumption.
Jorcha: You’re looking for someone who’s looking for power. Or revenge. Those are the two most common reasons someone turns to fiends for power. In this case you’re looking for someone for whom being turned into an undead is less of a turn-off. And they’re not looking for political power -- this is ‘I can kill you’ power.
Marixine: Undead don’t have much political sway.
Jorcha: Someone may be looking for revenge. Or they’re an utter nihilist.
Vinya: So do we go around looking for a Revenge Seekers’ Club? Restaurants with drinks called Salty Tears of My Enemies?
Jorcha: Well, you’re looking for a group of people -- either several people who want the same revenge or one very persuasive person.
Vinya: Where do we find persuasive people? Temples? Actors?
Jorcha: Yes. Also politicians. My brother knows far more of political circles than I do.

Vinya spread out the map sections on the table to lay out the city schematically. She indicated the Last Doorway with the worms and the abandoned warehouse in Alhim. Even with the Library to form a third point, there just isn’t much to see. Even if there’s going to be some larger picture, it isn’t a very good connect the dots.

Elderron stayed to do research in the library while the rest of the party headed out to Do Things. We talked about exploring Alhim’s abandoned warehouse district to see if we could find some of the bodies, or find any more information about who the five who were doing the ritual were.

We walked around for a bit, without finding anything useful -- then we decided to go talk to Lt. Linnolim.

Elderron in the library did some research into those circles -- looking for a common calling card between them, beyond that they were pointed to Orcus. Any sort of lead that might be useful.

(Player: Any type of lead that you want to make up off the top of your head.)

He learned that Orcus takes some pleasure in seeing the living suffer, but mostly he likes to see things die. He wants to see the entire multiverse as a necropolis with all entities undead under his control. People who kill in his name get a little power -- becoming zombies or ghouls. People who make undead in his name get more power -- becoming wraiths, perhaps.

Elderron, in doing his research and remembering what the circles looked like, got the sense that whoever did the circle in the warehouse either did it by rote or had been given detailed instructions and followed them carefully. But they didn’t seem to know what the end result would be. It was like a paint-by-numbers. The one in the temple was not entirely finished, but he didn’t get the same sense -- he felt that the people there knew what the goal was. For one thing, they were already undead (the suffragans). They were spellcasters who had been turned into something other than Spawn of Kyuss by the worms.

He also found information that implied that there is a ritual to make the worms of Kyuss -- he couldn’t find all the details but it appeared that it turned either a corpse or a person (that was not clear) into a Spawn of Kyuss, which would then go around creating more Spawn, because that’s a contagious form of undead. Sometimes knowledge of that ritual is directly imparted by Orcus in a deal where he trades magical power, and becoming a potent undead, in exchange for that person going out and creating undead havoc.

He then looked into whether there are potent undead who could either pass in a city or live in a city and not get immediately killed. He found that it might be possible, but not for long -- because these agents of Orcus look more and more dead over time until they become a Herald of Undeath. As they grow in power they grow in stature as well. The Herald always eventually becomes an undead about the size of an ogre, about 10 feet tall, and very very dangerous. They almost invariably wind out with a big scythe that they wield to great effect - killing things with the scythe and some sort of nasty quick kill effect. They tend to collect armies of undead.

Heralds of Undeath have appeared in cities twice since the Severance, so this is a rare occurrence.

Elderron did a fantastic job at the library.

The rest of the party went to the guard house in Dhur to talk to Lt. Linnolim.

Linnolim: I’m glad that you aren’t all dead. Where’s your wizard?
Vinya: Elderron’s in the library.
Marxine: We’re trying to get a sense of the city.
Linnolim: I think I can help with that. You asked me the other day to try to arrange a meeting with the Izir of Dhur. I’ve made an appointment for you to meet with her over dinner, if that’s okay.
Vinya: Yeah. That would be great. We can collect Elderron on the way.
Lieutenant: That would be good. She’s expecting five. It’s always best if she gets what she expects.

The Lieutenant went with us back to the library to collect Elderron. On the way there, we told him about what we’d found in the warehouse in Alhim. We found Elderron at the library, explaining to him that we were having dinner with the Izir. One our way, with the Lieutenant again, Elderron told us what he’d learned about the Herald of Undeath.

The Izir’s palace is not called the Dojh, but it is clearly styled to look like a scaled down version of the Dojh af Kul-Izir in Bakar. At the Izir’s palace, Lt. Linnolim talked to the guards at the gate, telling them that we had an appointment for dinner with the Izir. The guards insisted that we leave all of our weapons behind, including Elderron’s staff. We did so.

While we were disarming ourselves, the Lieutenant went ahead to talk to the Izir and make sure she was ready for us. He came back for us a few minutes later. He took us to a room with low cushions and lap desks to put our plates on. Lt. Linnolim introduced us to the Izir, a halfling woman.

Izir: I am Imada Palmroot. You can call me Imada. Or Ms. Palmroot.

She invited us to sit on the cushions. Because we were all sitting on cushions, the height differences between various members of the party and the Izir were minimized. Lt. Linnolim then left. After he left, food began to arrive -- small plates and tapas-style food.

Imada: The Lieutenant informs me that you stumbled on undead, a number of undead, under the Last Doorway. And other different undead in Alhim. In both cases, you found circles to draw the attention of the Prince of Undead. It appears these are part of a series of bad events.
Marxine: You clearly know the problem we’re having. We are hitting them as they come -- which means we’re behind. Who would want this? This isn’t new -- we came here because we heard rumors of weird unrest and strange disquiet in the city. We’re from outside.
Imada: You’re from New Arvai. You should find the fiendishness familiar.
Vinya: Honestly, we were trying really hard to find cabals there and couldn’t find any for looking. Looking for people who are dissatisfied or desperate, or both, just isn’t a good search strategy. But we think we’re looking for someone who wants revenge or power. Someone who feels that this is the only way for them to redress some grievance.
Imada: There was dissatisfaction among the Kul-Izir’s courtiers a couple-three months ago. The Kul-Izir announced her heir and at least one courtier was unpleasantly surprised that he wasn’t chosen.
Vinya: That might be someone who could cause some undead mayhem.
Imada: It’s a sign that she chose well.
Vinya: What’s this person’s name?
Imada: Intororum. He’s a rock gnome. I believe she was doing him a favor by not choosing him. He is young and his exile after 100 years of service to the city would have been long.
Vinya: Exile. Always? For the rest of your life?
Imada: Yes. After one has been Izir or Kul-Izir for 100 years, your ashes are welcome back after you have died, but when you leave you leave. It’s mostly there to make sure that longer lived races wouldn’t have too great an advantage over the humans and other shorter lived races. Especially since humans founded Dhaqi.
Marxine: It prevents an accumulation of power and wealth in one person’s hands.
Imada: Yes. In practice, most Izirs don’t choose individuals who will live long enough to be exiled as heirs.
Vinya: Given that, why did Intororum expect to be chosen?
Imada: He may have believed that he was obviously the most qualified. I am...dubious.
Vinya: Why?
Imada: Because every time I talked to him, I got a solid sense of how intelligent and capable he thought he was.

We all got the sense that she was being pretty straight with us.

Vinya: Does he have family? I assume he lives in Bakar if he’s in the Kul-Izir’s court.
Imada: He and his family actually live in Kalam, in a neighborhood called Alliq’s Arch. I haven’t seen or heard anything from him in at least a month.
Vinya: Would you describe him as persuasive?
Marxine: Were there people on his team rooting for him?
Imada: The people in his immediate circle were probably rooting for him, yes. Outside his immediate circle, maybe not. I believe the general sense was that he’d be heir to the next Kul-Izir or the one after that. As to talking people into acting against their better interests -- no doubt he could talk some people into doing exactly that. It would help if those people hadn’t interacted with him in a professional capacity. Those of us who have interacted with him in government have a different view of him than those in a social setting.

We ate a bit and absorbed that information, then the conversation went in a different way.

Vinya: What about the temples? The suffragans in the Last Doorway were wearing robes from the Hearthkeepers and Last Laugh. Was everything okay at those temples?
Imada: The temples of those orders in Kalam are missing officiants and Kalam is only one bridge away from Dhur. We believe those became the suffragans.
Vinya: What, the wormy dead guys just shuffled across the bridge and no one noticed?
Imada: Maybe they crossed at night. Those orders are tied for the second most cremations in Dhaqi after the Last Doorway.
Vinya: Okay. Do you know of any resentments among the people who work in the temples? It seems that a priest might be persuasive in the right way to get people to act against their interests.
Imada: There are some temples in Alliq’s Arch as well. Including the Last Laugh. The Last Laugh occasionally do get a little nihilistic, because everything is a joke to them.
Vinya: Seems like an order to keep on the edge of town.
Imada: Generally it’s a light-hearted nihilism. Sometimes not so much.
Vinya: Another area we thought might have people with the right sort of persuasiveness was the theater. But that might be outside your area of expertise.
Imada: I like the theater and do attend, but I don’t know the people involved or their interpersonal relationships and resentments.
Vinya: It looks like we do have some things to look into. Thank you. Have you heard anything about the new teachings in the Enthroned?
Imada: I have heard in some cities of Urnod that there has been a change in the messages they teach. I haven’t noticed that here. But they are not my preferred order.

We spent the rest of the dinner sharing news of Urnod with her -- she had questions about various things, which we answered to the best of our abilities, and we told her some about our adventures. She was an excellent conversationalist and the evening passed very pleasantly.

After we had recovered our weapons and left the Izir’s palace, we walked around more or less aimlessly as we talked about what to do. It was around sunset.

Vinya, to Elderron: How long does the process of becoming a giant zombie-ghoul-herald thing take?
Elderron: A few weeks, I think.
Vinya: Oh, boy. So he’s right on schedule.
Marxine: And no one has seen him in weeks.

We decided to head to Alliq’s Arch in Kalam -- just to try and get a sense of the area where Intororum lives. We were still a bit depleted from our big fight in the morning -- but we figured that we were just scouting and checking things out. Not really looking for a fight. We got there fairly quickly -- as Imada Palmroot had pointed out, it’s only one bridge between Dhur and Kalam.

Alliq’s Arch is a spiffy, upscale neighborhood -- there’s an actual arch, large and dramatic, over the streets at the entrance to the neighborhood. From what Imada Palmroot said, Intororum was from there and his family, presumably his natal family, still lived there. There were businesses, restaurants, and homes -- many of the shops were closed or closing up. Some of the stores had a few customers that were making their final purchases. There were also some bars and restaurants that were still open. We didn’t see a lot of people on the streets.

We walked around looking at the homes, trying to see if there was any sign of a gnome enclave within the community of Alliq’s Arch. We didn’t see any gnomes on the street, but we did see a few homes that looked to be mostly scaled to the gnomes, though they all seemed to have visitor spaces that would accommodate larger visitors. The gnome homes seemed to be in a few clusters, with a few scattered around that weren’t in the clusters. We didn’t see any homes that looked abandoned or unkempt.

So we went into a bar to listen to people. We found our way to Metorilen’s, a gnome bar, though they had a place where we could sit and be comfortable.

Vinya was sitting and listening. Elama went to talk to the bartender.

Elama: We’re looking for a guy named Intororum. He’s a gnome. We haven’t seen him in a while.
Bartender: No one’s seen him in a month or more. His place is still taken care of, but he might have a gardener taking care of it. If you see him, tell him to stop by. It would be nice not to have to worry about him.

Elama returned to the table where the rest of us were sitting.

Vinya: Is anyone else missing?

Elama got up and went back to the bartender.

Elama, to bartender: Is anyone else missing?
Bartender: Uh??
Elama: I’m not a cop.
Bartender: Not that I’ve heard of. Why? Do you think people are missing?
Elama: We’ve heard of nasty undead stuff and we’re hoping that everyone knows where everyone is and no one is missing.
Bartender: I haven’t heard of anyone else missing. Especially not any of the gnomes on the Arch.
Elama: If you hear of anyone else being missing, tell the guard.
Bartender: I’ll tell the guard and they’ll tell the weird elves...sure.
Elama: [shows her badge to him]
Bartender: So you’re a temporary cop.
Elama: We’re adventurers. We just got here and weird stuff is happening. It’s totally a coincidence.
Bartender: Seems legit.

We finished our drinks and left the bar, talking as we went. We decided that, if Intororum is the potential Herald, he’s probably keeping a low profile until he feels like he’ll be unstoppable. He still has to do his undead mayhem, but he may decide to do it away from his home.

As we were talking, Aldalomiel’s jaw dropped when she saw a huge bird that appeared to be rotten. She smacked the person next to her and pointed. We all started to run to follow the huge undead bird.

Elama, as she was running, holding up her badge: Stop in the name of the law!

The huge, undead bird did not stop.

It continued flying, heading toward a lighthouse/tower that appeared to be in Kalam, though not in Alliq’s Arch.

Other people on the street were looking at it with an expression of horrified awe, which was pretty much what we were feeling.

We continued to run to follow it. Elderron had Oda fly up over the roofs, where it could watch more effectively. Vinya ran up the walls (with the slippers of spider climb) and continued along jumping from roof to roof, but keeping pace with the party, not running ahead.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 38: Big Undead Problems Loom

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


11 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 162)(immediately after)

We ended the last session running through the streets of Kalam following a huge undead bird. It was flying in the direction of The Lighthouse.

Oda was flying over the buildings and Vinya was running across the rooftops, keeping pace with the rest of the party. They were keeping watch on the bird while the rest of the party was running in the right direction down in the twisty little streets.

Vinya saw it land, not at the tower, but in a small-ish park or square. When Vinya saw it land she started trying to sneak across the roofs somewhat, so that it wouldn’t spot her. She was able to get close enough to see that it had a corpse in its talons, which it dropped as it landed. Oda saw the corpse crawl toward a huge pile of other moving corpses -- not individually moving corpses, but sort of a seething mass of them.

The bird stayed on the ground and began preening, removing feathers and bits of rotting flesh..

Vinya ran down the wall to consult with the rest of the party -- what should she do if the bird took off. We decided that if it took to the air she should shoot it with her shortbow to try and draw its attention, but otherwise she was not to engage it until everyone was in position.

She also described the park to the party -- a square surrounded by buildings with some trees in it. From what she could see, the buildings were all shops and businesses and were empty at this time of the evening. Marxine and Lamie went to one side of the square, as near as possible to the seething pile of corpses. Vinya and Aldalomiel went to the side of the square nearest the bird, to try and keep it on the ground. Elderron stayed at the southern edge of the park so he could assist on either side, in cover behind one of the buildings.

As Marxine and Elama were getting into position, the bird noticed Marxine, but didn’t move to attack.

Aldalomiel, on the ground in the alley next to where Vinya was on the roof, put her hunter’s mark on the bird, then fired two shots at it. One of those shots hit.

That was the go signal for Elama on the other side of the park. She cast spiritual weapon and placed it next to the writhing mass of bodies. The weapon attacked and got a nice hit. Then she walked to the edge of the square and cast sacred flame on the writhing mass, but it avoided the flames. Marxine ran up to the corner of the building and threw a couple of hand axes at the writhing mass -- getting a critical hit. Elderron stepped out from behind the building and cast a scorching ray, altered to do radiant damage, on the bird. He missed with one of the rays but hit with two of them. Vinya fired 2 sunbolts at it -- hitting once -- then she did patient defense.

The bird, having been hit most recently by Vinya’s sunbolt, took to the air and attacked her from the air. It hit with a claw, but missed with the other claw and the bite.

We had surprised the writhing mass of corpses, so it didn’t get to attack.

Aldalomiel shot two arrows at the bird then turned into her starry archer form and fired a radiant bolt at it. Out of all of that she got one hit, but did a whopping amount of damage. Elama missed the writhing mass with the spiritual weapon, then she cast call lightning and dropped a lightning bolt on the mass of corpses. She moved a bit away from Marxine, into the park, to try and spread out some. Marxine ran in and attacked the mass, wielding her hammer and a shield. She got two hard hits in -- both of them for maximum damage. Elderron cast another radiant-damage scorching ray -- hitting the bird with all three bolts. Vinya, with the bird right in front of her, punched twice (because she figured it would take magical weapons to hit it). She hit one time, doing very little damage. Then once again she did her patient defense.

The giant bird in front of her reeked. It also attacked her with both claws and its beak again, but again only hit one time.

A corpse sort of fell out of the writing mass of bodies, then stood up. The main mass attacked and missed Marxine. The zombie that came out shuffled to Elama and attacked her. She did her retributive strike, doing it lightning damage in response.

Aldalomiel fired two arrows and a radiant bolt at the undead bird, hitting only with one of her arrows, but once again doing a lot of damage. Elama dropped a lightning bolt from the call lightning between the zombie and the writhing mass, hitting both. She channeled divinity to maximize the damage. That basically evaporated the zombie. Then she hit the writhing mass with the spiritual weapon. Then she moved deeper into the park, to stay out of the range of the seething mass and any zombies it might drop out. Marxine attacked the writhing mass, hitting once. Elderron, noticing that the bird was looking worse for the wear so he fired a radiant damage lightning bolt at it (changing the save to an intelligence save) -- hitting it hard. It noticed that. Vinya punched at it twice, only hitting one time (for decent damage for a change) and dropped it, thanks to Elderron’s radiant lightning bolt. She then ran down the wall and stopped about 30 feet from the writhing mound of bodies.

Another corpse tumbled out of the mass and started to shuffle toward Vinya, but it wasn’t able to get close to her. The mound shifted and seethed and moved to a position where it could attack both Marxine and Elama. It missed Lamie but hit Marxine. Marxine wound out being grappled and restrained by the arms of the corpses in the mound.

Aldalomiel moved up a bit toward the seething mound, moved her hunter’s mark to it, and shot two arrows at it, hitting once. Elama, now in melee with the seething mound of bodies, moved her spiritual weapon and hit it with her tiny lightning cloud. Then she fired a wave of lightning at Vinya, who was pretty chewed up looking -- she healed Vinya for a lot, and hurt herself some. Elama was also poisoned by the stinking cloud surrounding the mass.

Vinya: Wow! Thanks!

Marxine, grappled and restrained by the grasping arms and clinging hands of the seething mound, got her second wind, then she broke herself free from the clinging arms. She then surged with energy and attacked the mound -- getting a critical hit. Elderron moved 30 feet closer and cast a radiant-damage blight spell (with an intelligence save) doing a great deal of damage to the seething mound.

Vinya shot two sunbolts at the pile of bodies, getting a critical hit and a hit. Then she closed on the zombie near her, doing a flurry of blows and hitting it twice.

The seething mass spat another zombie out. It stood up and started shuffling toward Marxine. The mass of corpses attacked Marxine and Elama. Marxine wound out grappled and restrained again. Elama was hit -- it would have been a critical hit but she was able to use the bulette shield to negate that. She was also grappled and restrained. The zombie that had been spit out got into a position where it could attack Marine with flanking, but even with that, it missed. Vinya, on the other hand, suffered a critical hit, but not a huge one.

Aldalomiel shot two arrows at the writing mass of corpses, then fired a radiant bolt at the zombie on Vinya, dropping it.

Lamie pulled another lightning bolt out of the writhing mass, hitting it and channeling her divinity for maximum damage. That dropped it. Marxine then dropped the zombie on her.

With all the opposition apparently dead again, Vinya and Aldalomiel went around firing radiant bolts and Elderron fired firebolts at the dead things to make sure they stayed dead.

Elama used Vinya’s quarterstaff to poke around in the pile of corpses, but there was no recognizable stuff on any of the corpses. There was a distinct vibe that the things in the pile had been speed-rotted. They all had a distinct vibe of having been bathed in necrotic energy for a while -- the bodies are all beyond any possibility of identification by looking at them.

The party was talking about burning the bodies, and if we should do it right here. As we were having this discussion, some of the local Kalam guards showed up. The corporal in charge of the unit was a goliath and very tall.

Vinya, with enthusiasm: Oh, hi! It’s good to see you! There was a huge undead bird and it carried corpses here -- a lot of corpses. They all need to get to a crematory.
Goliath: You said there were undead.
Vinya: Yeah. We killed them.

Aldalomiel and Elama pointed to the pile of bodies and the corpse of the bird.

Goliath: Egad. I’m glad you survived contact with that. We can arrange to get carts to take them to a crematory. It sounded like you were going to burn them here.
Elderron: We just don’t want to have them get up again.
Goliath: There have been reports of people seeing that giant bird flying over Kalam for a few days.
Vinya: Is this part of Kalam abandoned or something? If this bird has been bringing corpses here for days, surely someone would have seen something.
Goliath: I expect this park gets a fair amount of use during the day. I can’t account for why the bird, and the pile of corpses, hasn’t been seen for days. Maybe it wasn’t always here.
Marxine: What about body theft? Have any bodies gone missing from the crematories?
Goliath: There have been some rumblings about it, but friend of friend stuff. Third hand information.
Vinya: What about people disappearing or being killed?
Goliath: I mean this is a big city -- there are always going to be murders and people going missing. But there hasn’t been an untoward number of those. At least not in Kalam. Maybe some of those bodies came from a different izirate. Or people who, well, nobody is noticing they aren’t there.
Vinya: The bird came from that direction. Maybe more people saw it.
Goliath: I’ll ask around and see if I can get more reports of the bird.
Vinya, flashing her badge: Please let us know if you hear of anything.
Goliath, looking at the badge: Dhur. I assume you’re working with Lt. Linnolim?
Vinya: Yes. You can get messages to us through him.

Aldalomiel tried to see if the writhing mass had moved into the park from somewhere else, backtracking it, but was unable to detect anything.

We thanked the Goliath for taking care of the corpses for us then headed out. We stopped by the Well of Screams, with the thought that we could talk to Jorcha about whether that giant undead bird was something that had been seen in the city before, perhaps historically. But the library was closed.

We went from there to the Dhur guard house to talk to Lt. Linnolim. We described the huge undead bird to him and the flight path we saw for it.

Linnolim: There have been frantic, incoherent reports of something like that flying low over the Ledge. Some people have been grabbed off of it. It’s one of the few places in Daqhi where a bird that huge could actually get to a person on the streets. From there it could get to either Alim or Bakhar easily.
Vinya: Where might it be going to or coming from in those izirates?
Linnolim: The Green in Bakhar is vast. Maybe there. But I’m not sure from the reports we’ve gotten that’s where it was going.
Vinya: Please let us know if you hear anything else.

We then went back to Bultir’s and rested for the night. Which passed without incident.


12 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 163)(immediately after)

We went downstairs for breakfast. Bultir was serving and acting as host, as he generally did.

Vinya, to Bultir: When you have a moment, we have some questions.

When we were finishing our meals and sipping our coffee (or other beverage of choice) he came over to our table to see what we wanted. We described the giant undead bird to him with the thought that it was possibly an undead phoenix.

Vinya: Have people reported or seen a phoenix around?
Bultir: I’ve heard about a phoenix. But that’s not always a good thing to have around.
Vinya: Why?
Bultir: They’re creatures of fiery destruction -- they rise from their own ashes, coming back if you kill them.
Elama: So how does one kill them permanently?
Bultir: Kill them, then throw the egg and ashes through a portal and onto another plane.
Elama: Are they malevolent?
Bultir: No. They’re creatures of elemental fire and just want to see everything burn.
Vinya: Where has one been seen? And when was that?
Bultir: It was a long time ago, elsewhere in Za’akkesh.
Vinya: So not here in the city Okay.

We thanked him and left. We decided to go to the Ledge to see if we could find anyone to talk to about the huge undead bird and people who have been taken by it.

The Ledge is a number of stacked buildings, built on top of each other and cantilevered out over the side of the island. Some of those layers of buildings have walkways out over the water. The top layer of buildings has a public walkway with an open garden nearby.

We walked around on the top layer of the walk -- the day was bright and clear. We passed some cafes with indoor and outdoor seating. We decided to perambulate around looking for someone who might be there a lot -- like a gardener perhaps. We found a weathered looking human man, who was taking care of the plants on the upper level of the ledge.

Vinya: Hello! How are you doing?
Gardener: Uhhh. Fine. Busy. What can I do for you?
Vinya: We’ve heard reports of a veryveryvery large bird around here. Have you seen it?
Gardener: I’ve heard about people getting taken from the top.
Elderron: Do you know if that’s happened more at night or during the day?
Gardener: Generally people have been taken when it was getting on toward fully dark. When it was hard to see.
Vinya: Can you point us to some of the people who saw it? [she flashed her badge]
Gardener: It was all friend of a friend type stuff. I don’t know of anyone who saw anything with this or her own eyes.
Vinya: Do you know of anyone missing?
Gardener: I’ve heard of people missing from the top of the Ledge.
Elderron: Do you know what time of day they were taken?
Gardener: On toward dark, as I understand it.
Viya: Can you point us to some of the people who saw it?
Gardener: All the reports I’ve heard are distinctly third, or more, hand. A friend of a friend heard about it.
Vinya: Do you know of anyone missing?
Gardener: The waitress in one of the cafes is missing. I haven’t seen her in a while.
Vinya: Do you have her name?
Gardener: Intara. I think. Something like that.

We talked to someone at the restaurant about Intara being missing, but all we learned is that she hadn’t been around for a while.

Before we really dove into that, Marxine pointed out that this was maybe not our best choice. We weren’t likely to learn anything about the bird or where it was coming from, based on the actions the gardener had discover. So we decided instead to go talk to the Goliath, instead.

Vinya: Is there anything we can call you?
Goliath: My name is Tulwark.
Vinya: We’ve asked around and discovered that the gnome Intororum is missing.
Tulwark: He’s missing?! Isn’t he a courtier at the Kul-Izir’s court? If he was really missing, I’d expect someone on high would be calling for a welfare check.
Vinya: Hmm. The people in Alliq’s Arch are missing him.
Tulwark: Well, maybe that’s not the same as missing missing. He might be somewhere away from his home.
Vinya: Fair enough. He might just not be in his usual neighborhood.
Tulwark: Would you like to go check on his house?
Vinya: That would be fantastic.

Tulwark went to his superiors to get the mission approved. And to get directions to Intororum’s house. That approval was given.

We headed out, with him escorting us into Alliq’s Arch. We eventually ended up at a nicely sized gnome home. Like many gnome houses, it had a front room scaled to human sized guests. Tulwark was going to have to stoop a bit to go inside. The house is in good shape and well-kept and the plants and shrubs are all being cared for -- nothing is growing or going wild.

We went to the front door and Tulwark knocked with a cop-knock -- loud and insistent. There was no response, so he knocked again. When he tried the door, it was unlocked. The air inside smelled stale but not foul.

Elderron looked at the door to see if there were any signs of forced entry. The door didn’t look like it had been forced. But he did notice that it looked like someone had turned the knob so hard from the inside that the latch will no longer engage. That’s why the door is unlocked.

Tulwark pulled the door closed before any of us entered the house. He looked really unhappy about the door being unlocked and the knob being broken. We walked around the house -- the curtains were all tightly pulled and we were unable to look inside the building and see anything at all.

We went back to the front door. Marxine went just inside and did her divine sense -- it picks up whether things or places have been hallowed or unhallowed. She picked up bad stuff. Vinya stood at the door and cast detect evil and good through the rod of alertness -- that didn’t pick anything up (but it has a shorter range).

Marxine went another step inside.

Vinya explained to Tulwark that Marxine can detect the presence of badness and corruption.

Tulwark: There are a number of people in the guard with that ability. I thought she looked like she might be able to do so -- something in the way she carries herself. I’m not pleased that she’s detecting bad things.

We agreed that the party would clear the house of enemies, because he didn’t feel like he’d be an asset in a combat with any possible monsters we might find. Once we were sure the house was clear, we’d come back to Tulwark and he’d look into anything we found that was especially bad.

With an apparently mostly abandoned (at best) house in front of us and unknown amounts of combat ahead, we ended there.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 39: Found the Herald of Undeath!

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 - Mountain Dwarf Fighter (Champion)/Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


12 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 163)(immediately after)

Elderron cast mage armor on himself and then we went into Intororum’s house. The first room we came to was a nice parlor -- the room as a whole was sized for humanoids of all sizes. There was furniture of all sizes. Off the parlor was a dining room -- like Imada Palmroot, the Izir of Dhur’s dining room, there were cushions and pillows on the floor with low tables for people to use.

The house has one floor above ground, but we anticipated that there would be one or more underground levels. Most of the above-ground floor is accessible to non-gnomes. We passed through a number of rooms -- a kitchen, an office.

Vinya used the Rod of Alertness to cast detect evil and good and detected nothing. Marxine’s divine sense got a sense of the unhallowed things being below us.

Between the kitchen and the office we saw a set of five-foot wide stairs. The risers were spaced for gnomish legs and feet -- narrow and low and small. We went down the narrow stairs. (Our marching order was: Marxine, Elama, Elderron, Aldalomiel, and Vinya. Elama cast light on her shield to light the way.

We went down to a lower level where we found a smaller, comfortable living space. Or it would have been comfortable in better times -- it was not in great shape. Down the hall in one direction was a bedroom -- it looked like something had rotten in the bed. There was a background scent of funky smoke and decay.

Vinya cast detect magic with the Rod again. And again she found nothing.

Down the hallway in the other direction was a gnome-sized dining room. The table was thrown against a wall -- apparently with some force because there were cracks in the wood. The chairs were thrown about.

We continued further down the hallway. There was a door next to the dining room that lead to a kitchen. There were some foods in the kitchen -- though everything in it had nasty looking green-shading-to-chartreuse worms. That looked sort of undead-ish or Spawn of Kyuss-ish.

Vinya: Elderron, would you please firebolt these?

Elderron looked around for any reason why he shouldn’t do that - especially for flammables. Not seeing one he firebolted all around, taking care of all the worms he could see.

We went back into the hallway and continued on down. We noticed that the hallway was sloping down. We also noticed that the smell of fire and decay was getting stronger.

After a bit, Vinya’s detect evil and good lit up just as Marxine, leading the way down the hallway, got to a large open space. The hallway we were in split to left and right into a five foot wide mezzanine with a large open space below us. The ceiling height had been six feet throughout this gnome residence and that’s how far down the floor was below the mezzanine. The room was a large library -- with shelves lined with books -- and there were several sets of gnome-sized stairs that went down from the mezzanine to the floor of the library. The room was sort of L-shaped, with part of it turning away out of our sight to the left.

Marxine stopped at the point where the hallway separated in the mezzanine to the left and the right. Aldalomiel shaped into her starry archer form. Vinya stood ready to move forward if a way opened up for her.

A suffragan on the mezzanine went to Marxine, pulled a wad of worms out of its chest and attacked her with it. Another suffragan, further away around the mezzanine, fired a black necrotic bolt at Marxine.

Aldalomiel shot two arrows and a radiant bolt at the suffragan on Marxine, hitting with all of them. Marxine shoved the suffragan back onto the stairs in front of her, but it didn’t fall down. Then she moved forward onto the top of the stairs and attacked it. She did some damage to the suffragan but, more importantly, cleared a way for other people to come out of the hallway onto the mezzanine.

Four spawn of Kyuss, some from the mezzanine and some from the level below, attacked Marxine. She dodged two of their worms, but caught two of them. And took two hits.

Elama turned undead -- getting four spawn of Kyuss and the suffragan clustered around Marxine as well as another spawn that was on the mezzanine. Then she cast shield of faith on Marxine. Elderron cast slow on the cluster of spawn and the suffragan on Marxine. Then he moved down the hallway toward the mezzanine.

About that time, a large creature came lurching around the corner -- it looked like a gnome that had actually been stretched on a rack and skeletonized. It held a rod in one hand and a scimitar in the other. It gestured with the rod and a thick black beam blasted out, nearly missing Elama.

Vinya moved up to between Elderron and Elama and fired two sunbolts at the suffragan on Marxine. The radiant damage chewed it up good. Seeing the effect she was having on it, she did a flurry of blows in the form of more sunbolts. The first one dropped it, so she fired the second bolt at the spawn of Kyuss that was on the mezzanine between Elama and Marxine.

The other suffragan, on the mezzanine at the corner where the room turned away from us, shot a necrotic bolt at Lamie and missed.

Aldalomiel moved up in the hallway and fired two arrows and a radiant bolt at the gnome skeleton, what we believed to be the Herald of Undeath. The two arrows hit but the radiant bolt didn’t.

The spawn of Kyuss healed up some -- one of them began to run away at half speed -- affected by both Elderron’s slow spell and Elama’s turning. Three others attacked Marxine from the mezzanine and another one stepped up from the lower level to attack her. The three from the mezzanine, all affected by Elderron’s slow spell, missed. The one that was not slowed hit her for the absolute maximum damage they can do.

Elama cast spirit guardians, surrounding herself with small lightning-filled clouds. This caused the shield of faith on Marxine to go down. Elderron cast fireball on the lower level, getting three of the spawn of Kyuss and the Herald. He altered the spell so that it did radiant damage and had an intelligence save.

Following the radiant fireball, the Herald moved in our direction. It stopped just outside the spirit guardians, behind a line of spawn. He then reached over the spawn to attack Marxine with his scimitar, moving frighteningly quickly. One of the scimitar attacks hit.

Vinya moved over and around the party-members in the hallway and got out of the hallway onto a clear part of the ledge. Then she fired sun bolts at the one on the ledge between Marxine (on the ledge) and Elama in the hallway. Then she moved to a corner where she could carefully angle a burning hands on five of the spawn of Kyuss, including the one between Marxine and Elama. Then she moved to a position on the ledge where she was not engaged with any of the spawn.

Aldalomiel did a guiding bolt on the Herald, which hit and left it glowing, then she cast a powerful healing word on Marxine. Marxine resisted some effect from the Herald’s aura. Then she attacked the spawn on the mezzanine between her and Elama, trying to clear the entrance to the halfway. Then she did an action surge so she could get rid of the worms she’d picked up so far by laying on hands.

The spawn of Kyuss near us on the mezzanine and near Marxine took damage from the spirit guardians.

Elama: Radiant damage to the FACE!

One of them hit Marxine twice, dropping her with its first attack then causing her to fail two death saves with its second attack.

A couple of the spawn couldn’t get to anyone -- the one that had been turned and slowed was blocking the suffragan from getting to us.

Elama did her emergency healing/life transference thing to heal Marxine. Elderron cast another fireball with radiant damage and an intelligence save on three of the spawn and the Herald.

The Herald apparently didn’t like that because he fired two black, necrotic beams at Elderron. Fortunately, both missed. Then he made a dismissive flick with his scimitar in Marxine’s direction, but missed with that too.

Vinya fired two sunbolts at the Herald, one of which hit, then she did another searing arc strike (burning hands) that finally took out the one on the mezzanine between Marxine and Elama.

The suffragan around on the ledge, blocked from getting close enough to do its disgusting blobby handful of worms attack by the turned spawn of Kyuss, fired black necrotic bolts at Elama. Both of them hit, but she was able to protect herself from a critical hit with the bulette shield. Unfortunately, the second hit caused her to lose her concentration on the spirit guardians.

Aldalomiel did another guiding bolt on the Herald. The bolt of radiant energy shot straight through it and it began to sublimate from the inside out, the radiance destroying its necrotic evil core. The rod and scimitar clattered to the ground. She then turned and shot a radiant bolt from her starry archer form at one of the spawn in the lower level of the library, but missed. Marxine attacked dropping one of the spawn with her first attack, hit another with her second, and then, since she was on a roll, did an action surge and got two more hits against it, one of them a crit.

Spawn of Kyuss attacked both Marxine and Elama -- Elama caught two of the flying worms and was hit.

Elama, to Elderron: Maybe a dimension door down into the library?

Then she cast cure wounds on herself.

Elderron took Elama’s suggestion and used dimension door to take both of them down to the floor of the library in a corner on the far wall. Vinya jumped the six feet down to the library floor, dropped one of the spawn on Marxine with a punch, moved back up to the ledge to attack a spawn up there, then jumped back down to wind out next to Marxine.

Vinya: naughty word! That was a punch. I think that one’s coming back.

The suffragan on the ledge, still bottled up by the turned spawn, fired two necrotic bolts at Elama. Fortunately only one hit.

Aldalomiel dropped a spawn of Kyuss with two arrows. Marxine hit the spawn next to her -- which she’d already hit twice before -- but it still didn’t drop.

The two spawn on Marxine and Vinya ignored Vinya to attack Marxine. Marxine dodged one of the worms, but in doing so dodged into the other one. Aldalomiel was attacked by a spawn and missed.

Elama, now on the lower level, moved up to right behind Marxine and cured her. Elderon cast a high level magic missile, doing radiant damage, on five of the six remaining undead (excluding the one that was still turned by Elama). After that, Vinya dropped the same one she’d dropped the previous round again, but this time it was going to stay down. She then went back up to the top of the ledge and dropped one of the ones up there. Then she jumped back down to the floor level and punched one of the ones on Marxine.

The suffragan shot black bolts at Elama again -- once again she used her shield to turn a critical hit into a regular hit and was hit twice. She didn’t drop, but she was very badly hurt.

Aldalomiel cast thunderwave on the spawn next to her but unfortunately it saved and wasn’t knocked prone. Then she shot a radiant bolt from her starry form at another spawn. Marxine went up the stairs and attacked the one Aldalomiel was fighting -- she smote it with her first attack then dropped it with her second.

Aldalomiel: Thank you.

The turned spawn, still trying to run farther from Elama, couldn’t get past the suffragan, who wasn’t letting it go anywhere. The spawn at the bottom of the stairs hit Vinya once, but it was a critical hit. Fortunately she was able to dodge the worms.

Marxine, able to feel worms crawling under her skin, laid hands on herself again and killed them. Elama cast cure wounds on herself and moved back to be nearer to Elderron -- then she took damage from the worms under her skin. Elderron cast magic missile -- spreading the radiant darts among the various undead (except the turned one). Vinya attacked the two remaining spawn on the lower level, dropping both of them.

That left just the turned spawn and the entirely untouched suffragan on the ledge. The suffragan, seeing that Elama was badly injured, fired at her again. (If she dies with the worms in her, she’ll come back as a spawn of Kyuss a few minutes later.) Fortunately it missed both times.

Aldalomiel moved along the ledge to a point where she could get a clear aim at the suffragan -- she fired two arrows and a radiant bolt at it, hitting with all three. Marxine went along the ledge toward the suffragan and the remaining spawn. Elama hid under a table in the library, to give herself cover from the suffragan’s necrotic beams, and cured herself again. Elderron cast scorching ray, changing the damage to radiant, and fired it at the suffragan. He hit with all three rays, leaving it looking bad. Vinya followed that up with a radiant sunbolt that dropped the suffragan. Her second sunbolt hit the turned spawn with a crit, breaking the turning. Aldalomiel shot at the last remaining spawn and hit with her radiant bolt (but not her arrows).

Marxine stomped down the mezzanine and smashed at the last spawn with her hammer, hitting it twice and dropping it.

There were no further opponents to fight -- except the danger of Elama turning into a spawn of Kyuss if we can’t get her to a temple and get the right kind of magic (which no one in the party has right now).

Fortunately, Tulwark, of the Kalam guard, was there to help. We haven’t looked around the room at all. There’s a hint of a circle on the floor, but we don’t know much more than that.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 40: ERROR

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

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)


12 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 163)(immediately after)

We ended when the last of the spawn of Kyuss in the library of the Herald of Galactus Undeath (formerly known as the gnome Intororum) dropped. Elama had a situation -- because she had 2 of the worms of Kyuss in her and about 40 remaining hit points.

Aldalomiel shifted into her starry chalice form because that increases her healing potential. Elama cast cure wounds on herself to buy some time. Vinya ran ahead out of the house to get to Tulwark and ask for directions to a temple.

Vinya blasted out of the front door and almost into Tulwark, who was right outside the door of the house, a goliath surrounded by 20 or so gnomes, each of whom wanted to know what was going on inside. Vinya, seeing the situation, gestured for him to lean over so she could talk to him quietly.

Vinya, whispering in Tulwark’s ear: We think the house is clear, but we need a temple. One of my friends has been harmed by undead.
Little Invisible Voice: What kind of undead?
Vinya, out loud: Spawn of Kyuss. Also suffragans. She got some worms. The house needs to stay secure but we need to get her to a temple.

A gnome appeared where the invisible voice had come from, wearing the robes of a cleric of the Random & Certain.

Gnome: Well, I sure followed the crowd to the right place.

Vinya led that gnome into the house, leaving Tulwark to deal with the rest of the crowd.

Gnome: Wow. He let this place go.
Vinya: He had other stuff going on.

Vinya, loudly: Elama! Help is here!
Elama, coming up the stairs: Whew!

The gnome then proceeded to cast the appropriate spell on Elama, killing the disgusting worms inside her.

Elama: How did you get here?
Gnome: By following someone who looked like they knew where they were going, I wound up where I needed to be.
Vinya: What’s up with that crowd?
Gnome: People around here know Tulwark and saw him outside the house and other people going in. We gnomes are a curious folk.
Vinya, flashing badge: We’re guard as well. We need to talk to Tulwark now. Thank you.
Elama: Thank you muchly!

We went back to the entrance, where Tulwark was still surrounded by gnomes, though they seemed to be asking fewer questions.

Gnome: Tulwark, your colleague isn’t dying now.
Tulwark: Thank you, Alnoroto.

We then started to talk to Tulwark about going back into the house with him to look at the circle there and make sure the place was clear. The gnomes were part of this conversation, though Alnoroto seemed to emerge as their spokesperson. We told Tulwark (and the gnomes) that we thought it was clear of major dangers, but there might still be some worms of Kyuss lurking around. The gnomes wanted to come in with us to make sure that Intororum hadn’t stolen anything from anyone else in the community. Or maybe that he didn’t have undead stealing from the community. Or because they wanted to see what was up.

The gnomes finally settled on two of their number to come with us, Alnoroto and one named Ixloxit, a former adventurer, as being the most psychologically and physically equipped to deal with the remains in the library and whatever else we might find in the house.

Speaker for the Gnomes: You guys are with Dhur’s guard. Tulwark will represent Kalam’s. And we’ll have some of our eyes in there as well.

Tulwark sighed and acquiesced with this plan.

The rest of the gnomes stayed outside blocking the doorway.

Vinya, to Alnoroto and Ixloxit: Do y’all routinely steal from one another?
Alnoroto: Well, I don’t see how Spawn of Kyuss could be here without him being involved with bad things somehow. If he’s gone that kind of bad, maybe he’s also stealing from us.
Marxine: Honestly, I’d prefer to live next to a guy raising zombies to steal from people than what we actually found.

When we got to the library, Alnoroto, Ixloxit and Tulwark seemed bothered but not ill or overwhelmed by what we found there.

The circle was another summoning (or contacting) circle to Orcus. Elderron figured out that the more undead there were around, the more powerful the signal or contact would be. Which explained all the spawn of Kyuss -- and possibly the worms, because those are also technically undead. The circle was made with unwholesome smears on the ground and powered by undead -- which it sucked the unlife out of. It looked similar to the circle in the warehouse -- but looked like it was made with more knowledge and less rote following of instructions.

In the papers in the library, we found some about how to summon Orcus. And a journal in which he talked about having gotten pissed off because the Kul-Izir hadn’t chosen him as her heir. Because of that anger and disaffection, he used the knowledge that he already had.

The gnomes recognized the Herald as Intororum.

Vinya: I don’t see how the timing works -- he hasn’t been seen for six weeks but it’s more like 10 weeks since the captain of the Ocean’s Blessing had a sense that weird things were afoot here and that he didn’t want to stay.
Marxine, looking over the journals: It looks like he was doing some things as far as undead mayhem and Orcus cabals before he started to actually become the Herald.

We speculated for a bit about how Intororum as the Herald intended to get out of the basement of this house, then found a trap door in the door in the floor in the middle of the circle that was definitely big enough for the Herald to squeeze through. Vinya followed the tunnel and found an exit into Kalam out beyond the gnomish neighborhood.

While she was doing that, Marxine was looking through Intororum’s notes to see if she could find any accomplices. Alnoroto, Ixloxit and Tulwark were looking around the library and the rest of the house. They found some stuff that they didn’t know where it came from.

Vinya: Did anyone else live here with him? Family or anything?
Ixloxit: His parents are gone and his sister moved out a few years ago.

We collected the papers and books on how to summon Orcus to take those to the Well of Screams.

In addition to those we found a nice lot of treasure:

10,773 gp (2154 gp each, with 3 left for the party kitty)
1575 pp (315 pp each)
7 x 750gp value art items
1 silver and gold brooch
2 painted gold war masks from a culture on the far side of Za’akesh (Vinya took one of these)
3 decorative silver-plated longswords with jets in the hilts
1 ceremonial electrum dagger with a black pearl pommel -- Elderron recognized this as something used in high ritual magic.
Set of +1 breastplate (Elama)
Scimitar of Speed (this was left by the Herald of Undeath and was identified by the gnomes as having been in his family) (Elama)
2 potions of flying (in the handy haversack as a party item)
Spell Scroll -- Scatter (Elderron)
Mirror of Life Trapping (umm, eww)
A rod (this was held by the Herald as well)

Tulwark made an inventory of what we found while Elderron was casting identify on the Rod.

Tulwark: I need to report this. I don’t understand all of the magic that’s here. Or where it came from.

About that time, Elderron’s spell went off and he started telling us about the rod.

Rod of Litrices:

While carrying this rod, you are immune to spells and magic effects that would alter your form. In addition, when a creature misses you with a melee attack while you are carrying this rod, that creature must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be magically slowed. Until the end of its next turn it suffers the following drawbacks:
  • It can't use reactions.
  • Its speed is halved.
  • It can't make more than one attack on its turn.
  • It can take either an action or a bonus action on its turn, not both.
Also, when you make a saving throw against a spell that targets only you while carrying this item, you can choose to make the saving throw with advantage. If the saving throw succeeds and the spell is 7th level or lower, the spell has no effect on you and instead targets the caster, using the slot level, spell save DC, attack bonus, and spellcasting ability of the caster. If the spell requires concentration, it lasts until the end of the caster's next turn, even if they choose not to maintain their concentration on it. Once used, this property can't be used again until the next noon.

Anoroto: Holy crap!

Anoroto’s take on the Rod of Litrices was shared by pretty much everyone in the room.

Vinya, to Tulwark: Add to your inventory the books and papers about how to summon Orcus. Those need to be taken somewhere safer.

While Tulwark was struggling to write with writing implements not sized for his goliath hands, the party looked through the rest of the library. Many of the books were normal, fine books -- histories of Dhaqi and Za’akesh, etc.

Vinya: Maybe Intororum’s sister would like those.
Tulwark: There may be other interested people as well.

Before we left the house, we looked around for worms like the ones we’d found in the kitchen. We zapped a few more worms with radiant damage before deciding that the house was clear of any active Bad Stuff.

When we got out of the house, Tulwark told us that he was going to take the inventory to his Lieutenant. His lieutenant would talk to Lt. Linnolim and they’d work out what needed to come back and be restored to someone. Until then, we could keep it.

Aldalomiel, looking at the 5’ tall mirror of life trapping: It seems like it would be awkward to use.
Vinya: Yeah.
Tulwark: I’ll get a cart over here to help you shift this stuff.

While we were waiting for the cart, the assembled gnomes apparently realized that all the interesting activity was done and drifted away, wishing us good luck and good day. When Alnoroto wished us good luck, it sounded a bit more like a blessing. Once we had the cart, we talked as we walked to Dhur and the guard house.

Elama: That went too well. I don’t think this is over.
Vinya: I’m not sure Intororum was the start of this. How did he just happen to stumble over information about how to summon Orcus?

When we got to the guard house, Lt. Linnolim was there. He seemed surprised to see us coming in with all that stuff.

Vinya: We may have found the origin point of the undead in the city. But maybe not.
Linnolim: You seem unsure.
Vinya: I’m not sure I’m convinced about the timeline.
Marxine: The timeline is fine. The guy thought he was a genius. He thought he was due to be next in line to be Kul-Izir. He probably thought he could get away with dealing with Orcus. He may have even thought he’d come out on top of the deals.
Vinya: Well, that’s all true. There may still be more undead -- he was seeding little Orcus cabals around and they might do something even with him gone. We can keep our ear to the ground about that sort of thing. Anyway, we found this stuff and Tulwark took an inventory. Said you’d work with his lieutenant to figure out what needs to go back.
Linnolim, looking at the cart: Interesting. A mirror of life trapping?
Vinya: I guess it’s maybe something y’all could use here…
Marxine: I’m not okay with its use as a prison. But it might be something that could hang at the Well of Screams.
Linnolim: My sister would like it, I’m sure. I’ll talk with the lieutenant in Kalam. I can definitely take the mirror off your hands and find a way to make you whole from the loss of that.
Vinya: We got this spiffy rod and we have this other stuff.
Linnolim: I’ll let you know in the next few days if any of it needs to go back. And if I hear of any further undead problems, I’ll let you know.

We left the mirror in Linnolim’s office and took ourselves and the rest of the stuff to Bultir’s for a rest. We figured that if nothing bad happened all day, the short rest would turn into a long rest and we’d have an afternoon to relax. Bultir’s has baths and we availed ourselves of those as well as having lunch and just relaxing. Elderron took Elama’s ring of warmth, because she needed to take that off to attune to the scimitar. We decided that Marxine was the best person to carry the rod, because she gets missed a lot in combat.

Vinya pulled out her painting set and painted in Lamie’s book, letting her drawings disappear as she flipped the pages.

Marxine: Monk naughty word.

The rest of the day and the night passed in relaxation, soaking, dining and rest.


16 Bluzzimin 749 (Campaign day 164)(immediately after)

At breakfast, Vinya asked Bultir if there was a place in Dhaqi where you could find out about current events elsewhere on Erkonin. Like what’s going on today in Kiranamakir or something.

Bultir: In Feloz, there’s a place called Lugux’s Wall. Information about elsewhere can be found there.
Vinya: Thank you.
Elama: I can also send to people.

Before heading to Feloz, we went to talk to Lieutenant Linnolim. We needed to check in at the guard station to keep our badges active and Marxine wanted to talk to him about how to get an audience with Imada Palmroot, the Izir of Dhur.

The lieutenant was happy to see us and told us that we could come back every day or two to check in. We just needed to remember to return our badges before we leave the city for good. We told Linnolim a little about Rajalmin -- because with the Herald of Undeath stopped, we were back on that scent. Or back trying to FIND that scent.

Marxine: He might have been egging Intororum on -- leaving him to find his own methods of doing bad things, but egging him on. Maybe Imada would know if there were new people in Intororum’s life. She might have some details of that nature that didn’t seem important to her to mention. We just need a few minutes of her time.
Linnolim: I will see what I can arrange.

We went then to Lugux’s Wall. It looked a little like a library study room -- with carrels and tables and chairs around and people reading broadsides. There were no stacks, just a booth that looked a bit like a box office with a young thin dragonborn woman sitting in the box office.

Woman: How can I help you?
Vinya: We’re looking for information about current events around Erkonin, but I don’t really know a specific city to ask for.
Woman: We can look for a person, a place, or a type of event.
Vinya, after consulting with the party: How about New Arvai?
Woman: Is there anything specific you’re looking for?
Vinya: An uptick in cabal activity and anything to do with the descendants of the wizard Danrom Orth.
Woman, taking notes: Okay. That will be 100gp.

Vinya paid the 100gp.

The woman gave us a wooden flag with a number on it and gestured us into the room to wait for our report.

We waited around a table for about 15 or 20 minutes then a runner came out with our report printed on a broadsheet.
  • Romza Orth--Danrom Orth's granddaughter--is working as an instructor of applied optics and illusions in The School of the Mind. She's been behaving in a slightly paranoid fashion, something that is not her normal way. She's been asking for increasing levels of security in her home, office, and classrooms, as though she's expecting to be assaulted from off-plane at any moment.
  • New Arvai itself is not experiencing more cabal activity than normal. In the past month-and-change, there was an aboleth that thought it was going to take over the city, but the guard settled that (with some help from some adventurers).
  • A Kotimanov ship rammed the docks in The Deeps, after a dispute over fees and tariffs. The damage slowed cargo transit for a couple weeks. The dispute was settled amicably over drinks.
  • There was a fire in Coinscale. No merchant shops were damaged, but the city's Office of Weights and Trade was leveled. No trade bars were reported missing.
  • Some warehouses in Woodyard have been robbed. Many planks of very rare woods were stolen. The buildings were heavily secured, and locks were broken by main force. There were larger-than-human footprints on the floor.
Marxine suggested, and we all agreed, that that all sounded pretty normal. Except that we’ve left Romna Orth with budding mental health issues.

Vinya went back and asked for a report on the Enthroned and their new teachings. Elama’s divination on this had said that the priestesses were sincere in their beliefs.

Vinya, when she got back to the party: They’re sincere, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bad actors behind their sincere beliefs.
  • The priestesses have settled and taught for a time in several places. They have had better success in places where there were actual nobles. Where they have had success, the behavior of the nobles has changed--mostly for the better.
  • The Enthroned on Urnod--the Order, its hierarchy--seem mostly interested in the fact that the improved behavior comes with more-common attendance at services, and greater donations to the church's treasury.
  • There is some thought the nobles whose behavior is changing are replacing one set of compulsive behaviors--gambling, drunkenness, and other vices--with another.
Vinya read that but it didn’t ease her suspicions about the Enthroned and the new teachings. Particularly that last line about replacing one set of compulsive behaviors with another.

(GM: Will you leave the straight-edge nobles alone?)

We got one final report, on Torm Brinnom, to see if there was any further activity there now that the Oni plot had been thwarted.
  • Torm Brinnom is thriving. There was some tension among the clans a couple of months ago, but that seems to have settled down. The deaths of a number of oni seem likely to be connected both to the tension and to its recent relaxation.
  • There have been some fumbling steps toward relaxing the pressures on the young dwarves in the direction of arranged marriages. Permissions among the clans will probably still be required, but in many instances are likely to be pro forma.
  • The miners have reported several rich strikes. The smiths and craftsmen are waiting anxiously to see what comes out of the mines.
Vinya: Well, that’s happy news to end on.

We left Lugux’s Wall and went to the Well of Screams to ask Jorcha about Sarik Whitesand, the halfling cleric from Dhaqi who had been part of the party that took down Rajalmin two hundred years ago.

Vinya, while we walked: I could really see getting into that place. It’s so cool just to see what’s going on in different places.
Elama: Or you could go to those places and see them for yourself. That’s a lot more fun.
Vinya: I’m just thinking, like sitting in there over coffee reading up on the world.

Jorcha was happy, but a little surprised, to see us. Once we told her what we wanted and why, she did have information for us.

Jorcha: She was a Hearthkeeper. Not a surprising choice for a halfling. She was really dedicated to getting fiends off of Erkonin. It became her primary concern when they stumbled over Rajalmin’s plans. She and Adlawan, the monk from Kiranamakir, were the strongest voices keeping the party on his trail.
Vinya: Does she have family in town?
Jorcha: She wasn’t from Dhaqi. She was of Dhaqi. She adopted the Queen of Cities as her home, as so many do. She was actually from a village some way down the Ewiv Canal, called Brush Bend.
Vinya: That’s the stream between the Feet of Marduk?
Jorcha: Exactly. The village is on the far side of the flats around where the canal takes a bend.
Vinya: Since you’ve done some research on this party, what do you know about Adlawan from Kiranamakir?
Jorcha: Adlawan was … kinda strange. From what I can tell, she seemed to know at least that Rajalmin was working on something before anyone else really had any idea. I don’t know what that was or how she knew anything so early. The records I’ve found indicate she had some sort of divinatory abilities as a monk, but those don’t seem to have been how she knew about Rajalmin.
Vinya: How long would it take to go down the canal to that village--Brush Bend?
Jorcha: No more than half a month.
Elama: Maybe we can save some time and ask at Zugzug’s Wall?
Vinya: Weren’t you just extolling the virtues of going and seeing?
Elama: We’re on the clock.
Vinya: Sort of. But in Torm Brinnom the plot took 30 years. (To Jorcha) Did your brother talk to you about a mirror?
Jorcha: Yes. We’d love it here of course, but I think it’s going to the Izir or the Kul-Izir.

We thanked her for the information and went back to Luxug’s Wall to get a report on Brush Bend.
  • The halflings of Brush Bend are taking advantage of their position on the Ewiv Canal, slowly building a trade hub. The Tallpalms and the Whitesands are celebrating a pair of marriages they hope will make for a long and profitable alliance
  • ERROR
  • ERROR
  • FIRE AND SMOKE AND SULPHUR AND WHAT IS THAT
  • ERROR
  • END
Vinya: Hoo boy! There we go! Who do we go to for a teleport?
Elderron: Maybe Bultir or Linnolim can recommend someone.

Bultir’s was closer, so we went there as fast as we could, bursting in at mid-day as he was setting up lunch. Vinya, as the fastest and most concerned, was the first one into the room.

Bultir: What has gone wrong?
Vinya: Where would we go to get teleported somewhere?
Bultir: Where do you need to go?
Vinya: Brush Bend
Bultir: I know of it. Why?

Vinya showed him the broadsheet from Luxug’s Wall.

Bultir: To get somewhere fast, go to the Shining Silver Tetrahedron in Kalam. (He gave some directions.)
Vinya: Thank you.
Bultir: Good luck.

We proceeded quickly to Kalam and followed Bultir’s directions to the Shining Silver Tetrahedron. What we found is that it is basically none of those things -- it’s a non-descript building that looks somewhat like a warehouse. There was a small sign in front that was, in fact, a shining silver tetrahedron.

Inside we found a male dwarf, older than Marxine.

Dwarf, in Dwarvish: How can I help you?
Marxine, in Dwarvish: We have somewhere to be. Fast.
Dwarf: That is a large part of what we do here. Where?
Marxine: Brush Bend.
Elderron: You can get us there fast?
Dwarf: We can put you in a circle no more than a day’s travel overland. You’ll be at Elthir, the next village upstream from Brush Bend. 2000 gold each.
Us, almost in unison: Done.

We paid him then he took us into a back room. We waited for a minute while he cast teleportation circle then stepped through the circle. We stepped out into a circle under and awning in a semi-public square in a small village. The village looked pretty peaceful but there was a hint of sulfur and smoke in the air.

We asked after horses and whether there were any to rent or buy. The livery owner looked at us, recognized us as adventurers, and offered to sell us horses, tack, saddlebags and some food. For 100 gold apiece, we each got a horse and the necessary equipment.

Elama, to her horse: I’m going to call you Nibbles.
Vinya, to her horse, in Elvish: I’m going to call you Horse.

Once we were horsed up, the villagers pointed us to the road toward Brush Bend. We could see some smoke lingering in the air in that direction.

And there we ended -- in the golden afternoon.
 

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