Silanya

Expedition 33(a) - that's nice, let's avoid it.

Characters
Syathir Kendaeshi – Me. I’m an archery and ritual specialist.
Saiorse Brannoch – Our resident sneaky lockpicker.
Beau … – Friendly Neighbourhood Ranger. I’m pretty sure she’s braver than she thinks.
Jean-Lee “Gucci” (rest of name) – Behb.
Lee-Jean “Prada” (rest of name) – Behb Jr.

Treasure
Plastic toothbrush (30gp) — sold
Plastic soap container (10gp) — sold
Biology treatise (15gp) — I bought this
Metallurgic compositions treatises part I and II (20gp) — Beau is buying these for JP
Record player w/ 3 records (40 gp + 3/disc) — sold
Canoes immune acid, resist fire (500 for the 2) — Kept. Obv.
100gp glassware — sold
8 Jars: 2 oils (1gp), 4 acids / bases (25gp ea) — sold
2 alchemists fire (50gp ea) — Keep?

200gp alchemy glassware –gives double alchemy proficiency b/c it’s very high quality — the Bebhs are buying this
50gp worth of Bunsen burners — sold
3 animal pelts, 20gp total value — sold
8 large petrified eggs, 3gp each — Beau is buying these for Tabby
A wheat bomb — mine. It’s not worth anything, but it’s cool. And I took the risk for it.

2 POI (the two facilities) – 250 gp
Log +100gp

Total 1570 gp in value; of which 711 is converted to GP, the rest is kept in various forms.
LMF gets the 2 canoes (500gp value)

The Behbs – alchemy set (shared), 57 114 gp ea
Beau – Petrified Eggs, Metallurgic Treatises, 170gp
Syathir – The biology treatise, 202 199 gp
Saiorse – N/A, 224 214 gp

XP
324 (356 w/ on-time update)



DAY 1
Trip to the lake was uneventful. The Fela seem not to be very interested in us today for some reason. The scouting reports from our friend Lucens made it clear that there are three major islands to explore.


ISLAND #1
We decided to head to the SW island first, and landed at the NW tip of it. The area is moderately forested once we get a few feet back from shore, and we travel along the edge of the forest in order to keep an eye


THE SCRYING POOL
We find a stone structure, and Prada, Saiorse and I move to examine it. We do a circle around the clearing to look for any danger. Beau and Gucci determine that this is a scrying pool, and Gucci waves me off when I try to perform a detect magic ritual. He then snorts a line of powder, and proceeds to explain that the pool is magical, containing enchantment and conjuration.


THE WATER WEIRD
Prada tries to scoop some water out of the well, and the water forms into a weird and grabs her. She staggers, but stays up and we launch a volley at it. Beau heals Prada then the weird gets a devastating blow that takes Prada down (crit, 17 damage – temporary injury disadvantage on con saves). I grab Prada and run away, and we prepare to continue the fight, but the Weird does not pursue us. We feed Prada a potion, and carry on, planning to return and kill the Weird from the trees when we are in better condition. Later, we forget.


CIRCLING THE FOREST
The high grass appears to have been a wheat field at one point – it now is growing wild outside of the boundaries of fences, etc. The area between the two forests on this island appears to have been logged within the last 10 years.

We get back to the canoes, and realize it would have been a good idea to hide them. Beau shows us a hollow under a tree [Beau Survival 16] to conceal them, and we hide them there and continue on our way.

After the full circle, we cut through the middle of the forest to see if we missed anything. Near the southern edge of the forest, we spot a wooden lean-to and a small campfire. It’s been a couple of weeks since anyone was here, but it is clear that intelligent things have been here not too long ago. The size of the lean-to and the remnants of some footprints suggest beings roughly Halfling sized. Beau believes that they were only here for a couple of days, then headed south towards the other forest.


FOLLOWING THE TRAIL
We follow the footprints through to the other forest, but the tracks are a little old and we lose the trail [Beau survival 9]. We follow the SW shore of the island inside the bounds of the forest. After a short while we find another camp, with tracks leading north [Beau investigate 20]. We estimate that there were five or fewer of them. They appear to dart off in various directions during their travel.


THE FACILITY
THE DISC
Following those tracks (which are a couple hours old), we come across a large metal disc set into the ground, roughly 15ft in diameter and with another metal ring around it. We inspect the ring and the disk [Prada investigate 18], and the area surrounding it, noting that a tree nearby is metal and finding a lever on it.

We stop so I can cast comprehend languages, then pull the lever. The disc descends 5ft, and claws cover it as it continues to go down.


DESCENDING
We test it a couple of times, and decide to go down. Saiorse pulls the lever and hides nearby, the rest of us decide to descend. We find that we go down ~200ft with metal walls, and the tube opens up into a 20ft corridor (7ft tall). There are buttons on the wall. I suspect that they operate this transport tube.

We cut the lights since we don’t know what’s here, and move to the large pair of 15ft wide sliding doors at the end of the hall, and try to listen at them. We hear nothing (Beau perception 12, Gucci perception 11).

We push the buttons, starting with the top. The disc goes back up. Saiorse tells me that she saw the disc come up and decided to come down since her friends seem to be missing. She pulls the lever and hops on, emerging in the corridor where we are waiting.

We test the rest of the buttons, which suggest that there are two additional levels (probably below us?). The second button brings the lift-device (lift from here on) to us. We decide to go through the corridors instead of using the lift further. We start to explore the complex, which has many passages and numerous doors. See the map for more details.


EXPLORING THE COMPLEX
The first batch of small doors we come across have a foul smell behind them [Beau perception 21]. As she is inspecting the second batch of doors, Beau notices a sound coming from one of the hallways. Prada peeks around the corridor, and sees a room with a cluster of broken down benches, tables, etc. and 4 gnome-sized humanoids with unkempt hair scrabbling around on the floor. The walls are covered in runes, equations, etc. The writing is a combination of words, math and magical scripture. It seems extremely chaotic, and all of the humanoids are writing (often squabbling & writing on top of one another’s work)


AN ENCOUNTER WITH SOME GNOME LIKE THINGS
We confer briefly and then Beau and I go around the corner. The humanoids stare at us, and I approach to touch the wall and understand it with the last of my comprehend languages. When I touch the wall, the gnome-things scream and charge. One of them hurts me slightly, and I pin the armed one to the wall.

A brawl ensues in which we try to subdue /calm them but they continue to attack. Beau tries repeatedly to calm them unsuccessfully, soothing one which turns back to what it was doing. Eventually, Prada loses patience and stabs one as it attacks Gucci. I think any negotiation is lost, and fire a shot into one of them, but eventually Beau manages to calm another one and I think better of it. Prada tries to intimidate them, and scares one. The final one stares at Prada and she collapses into laughter [Wis save fail]. Prada shakes it off, and is immediately charmed by it [another failed wis save].

Eventually we pacify them, and I inspect the writing further – eventually I determine that it is working on the orbits of celestial bodies, and it seems to be trying to figure out how to put things into space. I give it some notes from my studies of that area [arcana 26] and it seems to think some of them are useful.

We decide that we can’t make any more progress with these gnomes and decide to rest. As we rest, gnomes come in and out of the room, and the relentless writing continues. Lee-Jean suspects that something is controlling the gnomes.

In the room beside the gnome-things we find a weird orange-goo making machine. I could not make anything out of it, other than that it generates sizzling orange good every few minutes.


CONTINUING TO EXPLORE
We find some sleeping quarters – I investigate them to see if we can learn any more. I find a piece of clear non-metallic material that bends but holds its shape. It’s 8 inches long, and has bristles – it seems to resemble a toothbrush, but made of this strange material.

We unlock a door [lockpick 13], and find a dusty laboratory which seems to have been unoccupied recently. We found 100gp worth of delicate glassware – it seems to have an alchemical purpose. Prada searches the area, and finds a book which Beau is able to read. It is a treatise on humanoid biology – focused especially on blood flow. We re-lock the lab with a key we found inside, and continue investigating.

We find another couple of labs that have been covered in writing. In one of them we find two books.

Saiorse unlocks another (less dusty) laboratory. The room appears to be ventilated with air flowing in and out of it. Bunsen burners here, etc – we might try and take those later. At the back of the room are metal doored cabinets. One is locked, and Saiorse unlocks it. There are a number of clear liquids in jars inside. We will probably come back for those too.
The last set of locked cabinets has a number of metal cylinders inside that appear to be empty.
We leave & re-lock this room.

We find some more sleeping quarters, and continue exploring.

We realize we never went through the doors near the beginning, and backtrack to the double doors by the lift. They open up into a large room with a number of crates. We search through them [investigate 16], and find 200 gp worth of fancy glassware. We gather up all the loot, and put it in one of the locked labs. We also collect 10 bunsen burners for a total of 50gp.


EXPLORING LEVEL 3
At this point we have explored this level. We go into a corridor that slopes down sharply (45 degrees).

Once the corridor levels out, we find an area that appears to have 8 cages arrayed around the outside of a semicircular corridor, and another 6 along the inside of the semicircle. ~3 cages have normal looking bones, ~10 are somewhat odd looking (a cat like one with huge leg bones), and some are extremely crazy. The age range of the bones is between 30 and 300+ years, suggesting that some are pre-corruption and some are post-corruption.

We find some more storage rooms, and search them. One crate contains 8 egg-shaped rocks about the size of someone’s head. Beau believes that they are actual petrified eggs. Another has animal pelts, which seem well preserved. Two crates are empty except for packing material.

We find the lift again – we’re on the 3rd level now for sure.

The next room we find is full of filing cabinets. We find a locked room with a desk. There seems to be nothing in it. We then find a bunch more pens – there are ~8 gnomes moving around and scribbling on the walls here. There are a bunch more gnomes actually, we think we’ve seen 2-3 dozen gnomes squabbling and scribbling.


GOOEY HALLWAY
We find a hallway covered in orange goo, and the floor in that hallway is moving. There is another room that is mostly full of orange goo.

The orange goo is acidic and starts to lurch towards us when Saiorse pokes it with a stick. A flashing blade at the edge of the room slices off a chunk of goo, and then flames fry the goo. We decide the goo / processing is too dangerous and back off.


PSIONIC ASSAULT
We find some offices and search them. They seem to be thoroughly emptied. A filing cabinet in one is labelled “expenses” and “project”.

We find four preserving jars, and gather them up.

Gucci alerts us that he experienced a weird intrusion into his mind, and we back out. Lee-Jean now has a splitting headache [failed int save] and drops, taking 10 damage. [temp injury, loss of religion skill] We run away, and administer a potion. I suspect an intellect devourer or some other similar psionic creature, but elect not to confirm my hypothesis.


LEVEL 4
We take the lift down to the final level, and find ourselves looking at a dense underground forest-like area in a room behind a gate. The room looks huge, and the plants seem fairly natural. We decide to explore it. We think these mushrooms are probably valuable.

We investigate, and start hearing scratching & clicking sounds. I head towards one of them, and the group follows.

We spot two 7-ft tall furry creatures with hooks for hands, try to sneak away and barely manage to get out before the [hook horrors] reach the door – we lock the doors & watch the claws scratch against the exit for a minute before backing off.

Collecting our glassware and other valuables, we make our way out and stash the treasure with the canoes.


BACK ON THE ISLAND
There is a dark area of forest, approaching makes it clear that they are full of webs. There are two human-sized spiders, and one humanoid thing that might have had spidery features.

1st night – we sleep without incident in the facility.



DAY 2
We check back on the spiders, and they seem to still be sleeping. We traverse the wheat field, which contains exploding wheat. I take one for study, and pack it very carefully.

After that we head to the second island.


NORTHERN ISLAND
We head to the island with the buildings on it – we find a tunnel in the side of the cliff as we approach, and paddle into it. It opens into a large grotto. There are a number of white non-metallic non-wooden canoes here, and there are a number of gnomes here. One of them shot Beau with a metallic dart, and it caused comprehend languages. They had a brief conversation & Beau indicated that they started asking who we were and what we were doing here. They also repeatedly asked us for authorization and whether we had filled out various forms (12b, 121, 14u, etc)

After that they shoot the rest of us. They start asking for authorization to be there – apparently it was a secret facility. We tell them that the guild has been given sole authorization to make treaties with anyone on the continent. They had us sign some strange documents that claim to absolve them of ‘liability’ for any harm that comes to us, and take us through to a council. They

They tell us that they have been here since before the corruption, and that they just kind of rode it out because they were in a protected facility that was designed to contain dangerous things.

They use a zone of truth effect on us, then tell us about themselves. They tell us that when they come of age each of them becomes obsessed with a specific concept, or creation and go insane in pursuit of it unless they solve it. If they solve it, they become sane again

They give us permission to explore the islands – warning us that the final island is full of warlike inventors, and that they tend to fight each other and create increasingly dangerous things.

Estimate – 12 who have achieved their obsessions, 20 who are obsessed, 20-40 who are too young to be obsessed.

Warned us that the lake eats plant matter – our canoes are slowly dissolving. We have been given new canoes that will resist it.

They seemed to believe that they had been spared from the corruption, but I am not convinced. I am confident that the obsession is a form of corruption, and I’m not convinced by the ostensible restoration of their sanity afterwards (or their possession of it beforehand). Also, I am highly skeptical based on my knowledge of history that signing forms of the sort they provided was ever an integral part of the old empire’s practices.


JOURNEY HOME
Uneventful.

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Expedition 33 - Operation Fishfry
H 2 Whoa!

June 17th 2017

Characters:
Melora Blackfingers – Paladin 3 – Steely soldier with a brave heart
Quincy – Fighter 4 – Kicking in doors and taking names, but he doesn’t feel like taking names
Sovan Dareshin – Bard 5 – My best friend but I’m not even in his top 5 and that’s okay
Chara Indala – Warlock 2 – A tricky half-elf with mind-bending icy powers
Lucens Princeps – Warlock 3 – The only other tiefling on the island… we should hang out more (note to self, get Sovan to introduce me in a more chill setting)
Ent Springvine – Ranger 2 – What better way to command the treetops then to become a treetop?
Tabitha Errsule – Sorcerer 3 – We sure brought a lot of sorcerers to this one. 95% of me likes Tabby a lot. The other 5% is terrified of radiant damage.
Valerian Primrose – Rogue 4 – Daring assassin and maker of fantastic teas. I wonder if everyone else’s teabag was scrawled with drawings of hearts… Remind me to ask Raevori.
Amara Invictus – Wizard 4 – The second-smartest wizard in Silanya if you don’t count Wisdom

Land Lubbers/Bodyguards/Blockers of Aquatic Escapes
Raevori, daughter of Leshanna – Wizard 5 – You all already know
Jean-Pierre du Veyrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion – Cleric 5 – Bulky craftsman and supplier of premier baked goods
Finnigan Hillbyrne – Rogue 4 – Temporary member of strike squad B and best friend of Raevori

Character Progression
Luc levelled up to 4 but lost 1 CON to a permanent injury BUT got a sweet Crown from Granny
Quincey levelled up to 5
Melora levelled up to 4, lost persuasion proficiency to a permanent injury
Tabby levelled up to 4

Gold, and XP

Quincy: 1442 xp, 476 gp
Chara: 1442 xp, 476 gp
Amara: 1442 xp, 476 gp
Melora: 1442 xp, 428 gp (donated to LMF)
Tabby: 1442 xp, 428 gp (donated to LMF)
Sovan: 1442 xp, 428 gp (donated to LMF)
Ent: 1442 xp, 428 gp (donated to LMF)
Lucens: 1442 xp, 428 gp (donated to LMF)
Valerian: 1442 xp, 428 gp (donated to LMF)

Shore crew:
Raevori: 286 xp, 160 gp (donated to LMF)
Jean-Pierre: 286 xp, 160 gp (donated to LMF)
Finnigan: 79 xp

LMFfAF: 334 gp, 5 sp

Items

SUBMARINE! (2000 gp, needs another 2000 gp worth of repairs done to make it functional) (tentatively claimed by the LMF)
Kinetic-storing metal (200 gp) (tentatively claimed by the LMF for repairing the submarine)

Pearl of Power: one per day, can regain a spell slot of up to 3rd level. Requires attunement. (1000 gp) (claimed by Sovan)

Gun of the Fish-King (non-magical): 2d6 damage, crits on 19+, 120/300 range, or 180/300 with scope (attached, included in price). Can fire 3 shots before you have to change out humming tubes as an action. Can hold 6 bullets.Weight 20 pounds. (350 gp) (tentatively claimed by Quincy)
10 humming tubes (charged, can be re-charged at mPOI), weight 3 pounds each (650 gp) (tentatively claimed by Quincy)

POI
Minor POI: Charging rack for the humming tubes in the caves right on the coast of hex 2.10


In Silanya, what Granny says, goes—and Granny had become real tired of fish people and skinchangers laying waste to honest, hard-working fishers and their boats. Well I personally found it kind of odd that so much of the new old world seems so ready to pledge their allegiance to the most geographically convenient god available, I have to admit, she really grew on me by the end of this.

While we’ve lately had the unfortunate tendency of running into danger face first and powering our way through, we felt much less confident doing the same underwater, so we needed to prepare.

To begin, we brought Granny a large sum of gifts. Sovan had written a song just for her, and while we were unable to hear the song at all as it was performed, Sovan sure looked like he was rocking hard, visually at least. Melora then relinquished the memories of her three greatest childhood friends, a steep price and one which we will have to wait to see the full impact of. Lastly, Tabby shared some juicy gossip with Granny as well as bringing some nice rocks and flowers. Those two actually seemed to get along oddly well. Tabby is certainly an exciting conversation partner, albiet not one for keeping secrets. Sil also had us bring some magical armour to gift on top of what the party present had brought.

This veritable cornucopia of gifts seemed to really please Granny, as she bestowed upon us some pretty sweet gifts of her own. Those of us going underwater sprouted gills and webbing, as well as having an increased mental fortitude to block out skinchangers and their mind-reading powers, and even grab a few of their thoughts to boot. Chara was able to test this out quite nicely with her attunement with her own mind.

As a last bit pf preparation, Luc cloaked his imp and sent it on a recon mission to scout underwater. We weren’t able to get specifics, but we did learn that there was a large drop with two guarded caves over top an entire village. We had a real chance to really put a dent in the entire fishfolk population here.

We planned our attack in three squads. They were known as squads 1/2/3 or A/B/C but I’m writing the log so I’ll name them myself.

Squad 1 – Team Lightning – Val, Sovan, and Quincey – Our hard hitters, first into battle and able to tank some hits for the rest of us. Everyone knows lightning is good against water.

Squad 2 – Super best friends club/Team Fire – Amara, Melora, and Tabby – Follows up squad 1 with loads of firepower. Named aptly because Tabby has a tendency to light herself on fire.

Squad 3 – Team Earth – Luc, Chara and Ent – Cleanup crew. More inexperienced, but ready to dish out a third wave of damage. Named because we already had an elemental theme and they have a tree-person.

To begin, we started with a three-pronged attack on the fishfolk’s land-based area. Team fire and Finnigan headed to the warehouse, Team Lightning and Team Earth headed with JP to the fortress, and Rae acted as a prong of her own, slipping off to the docks.

Rae used invisibility to sneak up behind a solitary fish on the dock, snapping into vision between them and the water, scaring the crap out of them and causing them to flee onto land before getting annihilated.

Team Fire snuck up to the warehouse and burst in through different windows and doors, with Finn annihilating a couple fish on his own while the rest of us played guard duty on those nearest to the pool, diving in after one guy to make sure he couldn’t alert the village of our presence.

With the help of Luc’s magical lights providing cover, the rest of our crew managed to sneak up to the fortress and enter predictably with Quincey kicking the shit out of the door. This surprised all but one of the fishfolk inside, and after focusing the alert fish, it was revealed that it was a skinchanger. (The rest of the fish were not at all surprised that their buddy morphed into a skinchanger upon death, signalling that they are working together and the skinchangers are not fully undercover) The other two guards by the door were dispatched easily.

It was at this point that Quincey decided to grapple to the roof kill the fish manning the ballista by himself, and drop off the other side of the roof to cut off any remaining fish in the fortress. The rest of the group attacks and chases the remaining fish to the rear entrance where one makes it into the water and is followed and dispatched quickly.

It was at this point that Val offered those willing some “special tea.” Myself, Chara and Rae took some for the fun of it and were rewarded with +2 on our next drop roll. Judging by Val’s reaction they were rewarded with the chance to interact with me as well.

The party then approached the dock, dove in, and the fun began.

We were very quickly approached by a shark, and as it closed to attack, two metal balls flew up at us from below at high speeds, almost as if a sling bullet was shot out of a crossbow. Quincey led the charge by closing with the shark and the team as a whole was able to take it down—but not before it and it’s handler (who swam into view from below with a crossbow) got a few hits off on Sovan and turned him into an aquatic boar.

The shark handler took out a trident, closed with Val and speared them while the gunmen took off running, Team Fire chased the gunmen while Teams Lightning and Earth finished off the shark handler.

Afraid of more sharks, the team consumed a mass of potions to heal Sovan (who we had to punch back into human form) and Val, to stop them from being bloodied. Then we quickly swam after the gunnmen to the village to minimize their time to prepare for combat.

We were quickly approached by two groups of fish people, an extremely quick group of three and a slower group of 5 (the 3 were later revealed to all be skinchangers) The skinchangers tried to read our thoughts but only projected back thoughts about coming reinforcements instead. We had to act quickly.

Luc was hit by an unseen barrage of sniper bullets coming from the weeds below. Sovan Tabby and I all whiffed on our spells and hit the group of fish people with the softest two shatters and burning hands I’ve ever seen. Luckily the stacking of the spells caused some of the fish to freak out and retreat.

Quincey approached the skinchangers and took one out. One of the fish shot Val with a net and they were quickly mobbed by the remaining skinchangers in their state of vulnerability.

Team Fire’s second round of spells went much better, as Tabby shifted fire to the skinchangers and I was able to lay a hefty shatter on a new group of 6 fish that had arrived and who quickly decided to flee.

Unfortunately for me, my heavy attacks drew some ire from a cleric and gunman who had just shown up, as they both shot at me. Luckily, their fire was a bit off. Maybe they’ve never seen a tiefling move so fluidly underwater.

Once the magic bolt had flown past me from the caster, Luc shifted his attention to it and finished the fish off in one shot. Unfortunately, this show of power drove eyes from me to him and sniper bullets from the weeds below dropped him and permenently damaged his constitution. A chill entered the water in the vicinity of team Lightning as a water hag, shark with handler, and fish king approached.

Melora and I quickly turned our attention to the new threat and hit her pretty hard, while Tabby shifted into full power and hit the hag with a hefty scorching ray. The fish king made a beeline toward Melora, tying her up in a grapple.

Bloodied from the skinchanger shots while trapped in the net, the shark bolted toward Val and began an attack. Luckily, Sovan managed to finish off the water hag and help the rest of team Lightning get back to regular combat emotions.

Quincey also managed to take out another skinchanger but was immediately shot by a net and mauled for heavy damage by the last remaining skinchanger. Sovan healed Luc just in time for him and Chara gave to enact revenge for Quincey by finishing off the skinchanger for good. Once again, Luc’s untimely magical powers gifted him a shot from the snipers below.

It was at this point that we heard the bellow of a horn. Others were approaching.

Tabby had really heated up and was firing bolts of magic at some fish while repositioning to smach the shark handler with her aura. I decided to shift my attention to the shark hing with a magic missile, but drew the ire of the shark handler and took a crossbow bolt to the body. As punishment for this inconvenience, I invoked hellish rebuke to hit him even harder.

The fish king continued his assault on Melora, but was distracted by a dissonant whispers from Sovan. Melora took the opening to smite the fish king while using a drain charge on her sword to hit him extremely hard. Meanwhile, Val was turning the tables on the shark by giving it a hard shot of their own.

The reinforcements had arrived. A skinchanger commanding two armies of 7 and 6 fish respectively approached, along with another cleric, handler and shark, and skinchanger fish queen. “last stand” was projected to us from the skinchanger’s thoughts.

The queen burst in and attacked Team Lightning psionically, which was blocked by Granny’s blessing. Melora and Sovan turned to her but hit her fairly softly to begin. I swam into range of the approaching group of 7 fish and shattered them hard enough that they immediately went crying home. Tabby smacked the shark leader that had been around for a while causing both him and the shark to flee. I sear if these guys didn’t chicken out so hard for individual fear of going down they would have wiped the floor with us, as we were beginning to run out of spells.

As the shark disengaged from Sovan, he gave it a swift punch to the nose which was admittedly badass, and badass in a completely different way than Sovan is usually badass.

The new shark handler sent his shark into battle and immediately misfired his crossbow into its back. The shark was not pleased but reluctantly continued to engage with us.

Team Lightning was having some trouble with the Queen, as she seemed to shrug off part of a shot from Val while tricking Quincey into missing her completely. Unfortunately, in the midst of all this Quincey managed to pass a threshold and turn into a wolf with gills.

The final group of fish closed with Team Earth but was quickly distracted by a Sovan hypnotic pattern, dumbfounding them and holding them in place, bot not before a fish trapped Chara in a net.

Seeing radiant damage fly out of the cleric past me, my undead portion urged me to take care of this fish in particular and I let fly a magic missile. Tabby followed me up with a strike of her own.

At this point, I guess I had done enough damage as to paint a target on my back, as the shark handler and shark turned their focus toward me. I had to burn my final spell slot to shield the onslaught. Once again, Tabby followed suit by deflecting an attack that had come her way.

At this point, Melora became the target of the queen (like husband like wife I guess) and took heavy damage. The queen then proceeded to shake off a heavy spell from Sovan. Fortunately for us, it’s a lot harder to shake off a crossbow bolt, as Val unleashed one into her back. This hit caused her eyes to glow.

Quincey continued to be tricked by the queen’s psionic powers and threw an attack at Melora, but luckily missed. I really didn’t enjoy being attacked by a shark, so I attempted to convince the shark to ditch it’s foul owner who had shot it in the back to no avail. I settled for a poison spray on the handler. Tabby repositioned her aura while chugging a potion to keep on trucking.

In response to Quincey’s missed strike, Melora was tricked into attacking him, but managed to hit him just hard enough to turn him back into a human but keep him up. It’s the small victories sometimes.

at this point, I was no longer able to handle the shark and it’s handler, as the shark landed a hit on me, followed by the handler closing with me, stabbing me with a trident, and crushing me in his tail. Fade to black for me, and I took a temporary charismatic hit in the process. Sore throat from the crushing tail and all that.

Luckily for me, Val and Sovan came to my rescue, with Val taking out the handler, and Sovan shoving a painful potion down my throat.

The queen then unleashed a heavy stun on both Melora and Quincey and began to book it. Instead of getting stunned, Melora closed her eyes and was out cold. [Permanent injury: lost persuasion proficiency.]

While I swam over to give Melora my final potion, Tabby and Val gave chase to the queen and fired spells at her to slow her speed. Ent released Chara from the net and her rays of frost helped in this endeavour as well. As the queen continued to retreat, Val managed to hit her with a final shot that took her out for good. We had won the war.

Before the hypnotic patterns ran dry, we dispatched all but one of the fish, leaving him to warn the others to leave our boats alone. [11 normal fish folk, 2 snipers, 1 shark handler, and 1 skin changer survived, in total]

After that, it was a swift trip through a deserted village and tunnels to loot the fish and destroy their eggs. Things of note that we found were a fish in transition into a skinchanger, a charging station for the guns (which were powered by the cylinders we found a long while ago) a gigantic submarine, and a whole boatload of treasure (as detailed above).

After observing the ship I was able to recruit JP to materialize a forge in the air pocket the submarine was contained in and let him work his magic to get it working enough to bring back to town.

The fish have been vanquished. Our fishers are safe once more.

We returned to tell Granny the good news, and after how much her gifts helped us, I decided to give her a thank you gift of my own, relinquishing one of my lesser used cantrips without asking anything in return.

Luc had a real private, serious looking chat with Granny and got a Crown that seemed to (a little randomly) give him unpredictable powers. (I know how THAT feels). For now it seems to have settled on lots of Cantrips.

Off we went for home.

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Expedition 32 - Antorum, the No-Longer-Unnamed City
AKA Our "Apocalypse Now" Moment

June 11, 2017

Characters: Sarene (cleric 2, log-keeper), Luke (warlock 2), Sovan (bard 5), Raevori (wizard 5), Quincy (fighter 4, map-maker), Melora (paladin 2)

Map: [link]

Character changes: Lucens gets -5 permanent INT injury but levels to 3; Melora levels to 3, Sarene levels to 3.
Raevori got a powerful thought of Dominate Person.
Sovan got a powerful thought of Confusion.
Lucens used a powerful thought of Remove Curse to save Sovan.
Quincy got a powerful thought of Misty Step.
Melora got a powerful thought of initiating telepathic contact.

Profits:
595 gp for Quincy (no donation to the LMF)
510 gp for everyone else (all donated to the LMF)
429 gp for the LMF

Note: all profits after expenses, items, but before item purchases from the below list. If you want an item, mark it as (claimed and paid for by ____) and deduct that amount from your character sheet. First dibs go to people on the expedition.

Experience:

1960 xp each, or 1782 if you don’t update your character sheet by 11:59pm on Tuesday June 13th. Everyone has a modification to their character sheet (leveling or a powerful thought or both), so you need to have the update by this time to get the bonus.

Points of Interest / Exploration Points:
New hex gold: 12.09, 225 gp
Minor POI, Keep of the Policeataurs, 50 gp, in hex 11.09
Minor POI, Tower with active wards, 50 gp, in hex 11.09

Items collected
Antorem police badges x5 (15 gp each) (claimed by LMF)
Dagger of banishment (300 gp) (claimed by LMF)
Rod of banishment (150 gp) (claimed by LMF)
Book of quirking a 2nd level warlock or sorcerer spell, single use (100 gp) (Claimed by Lucens)
Two organs that digest magic (150 gp each) (claimed by Raevori)
Second copy of the book of banishment from the Node towers (0 gp) (claimed by the LMF)
Magic book (1000 gp) (claimed by Melora for net 250gp, after selling the half plate page for 750 gp)
Medusa eyes (300 gp – Claimed by JP for reagent)
A technical book of some kind (120 gp – Tentatively claimed by JP depending on nature of contents)
3 world detail books (10 gp each – claimed by Sovan)
3 boring books (10 gp each – claimed by Sovan)

Pile of other valuable stuff that just gets converted directly to gold (lots)

Log:

DAY 1

It’s a nice day outside. We’ve been heading through 5.12 when we see a bunch of Blazing Banner heading into 6.13. Raevori’s decided to cast Invisibility and run on ahead, and then unleash her Fireball on them. We’ll see how this goes. It seems kind of reckless to me, but then again, this is only my first expedition since… Anyway.

Raevori runs ahead and lies down in a patch of grass, preparing to silently cast Fireball with Sovan’s inspiration. She Fireballs their wagon, blowing up 6 Blazing Banner. The outrider yells an alarm and runs away, out of our reach – but not Raevori’s. She dashes ahead and Firebolts him, killing him instantly as his horse runs away.

We investigate the smoking remains of the wagon. It looks like it had a load of stone, but there are some objects of value on one of the dead Blazing Banner – a sachet with 10 platinum, and a small garnet worth 25gp. The stone looks valuable, but we’re not about to waste our energy carrying it around with us.

(It’s weird writing in a book again. With a real hand. There are so many things I need to get used to about having a physical body. Things you wouldn’t think of. It’s always the strangest feeling.)

We head into 6.13 and see a patrol of Blazing Banner, riding along toward their headquarters. We try to stealth past – at any rate, the rest of the party does somewhat successfully, and I clank along in my chain mail. We do manage to avoid them, thankfully.

We head into 7.12, approaching the bridge. We see a small construction being built on the end of the bridge toward us, with some Blazing Banner working on it. Sovan decides to go up and say hi (of course).

As they spot us, they move into a defensive position. Sovan is walking up to them; one of them shouts “Stay back! This is our bridge”. Sovan asks why we can’t cross, and they say it’s because it’s their bridge – things came across the bridge a while ago and killed a bunch of them, so now they won’t let anyone else cross. Sovan asks “what kind of things?” They describe “dog-faced things with silver bands”. Sovan exclaims “we hate those things! If we cross the bridge, we’ll be more likely to kill them, and then they won’t bother you!”

They decide to let us cross. (Oh, Sovan. You are so persuasive. Even when you’re babbling.)

We head toward a couple of big fortresses – the Qua and Blazing Banner fortresses in 7.12. Quincy suggests that we head between them and then duck out and let them kill each other trying to find us. Lucens suggests we head to the south and avoid them. Raevori thinks we should head close enough to see if the dog-faced things are there, and we follow her lead.

The fort appears to be empty, as Raevori checks it out through the eyes of her falcon, Aelthrunn. There are weapons on the ground, with blood spots, but no bodies. We head in to take a quick look around.

As we search, Lucens finds that the fort has been meticulously picked over and cleaned – anything more interesting than a bow or some arrows has been taken, and there is not a single dead body anywhere in the fort. There isn’t even very much blood, even though it seems like whatever happened here didn’t happen that long ago. It’s… unsettling. There is definitely something magical about what happened here.

Quincy sniffs it out and gets a good sense of the smells around here – it smells kind of like the dog-faced things. Raevori, checking her arcane knowledge, finds that it was probably a Scorching Ray that emptied out this fort. So now we know the dog-faced things have casters of some variety.

We move on southward, having sent Aelthrunn to find out that the other fort is also empty.

We head to the Church of the Road to sleep. The night passes uneventfully.

DAY 2

We head out northward to 9.11 through the forest. I’m a little nervous about fording the river once we get to it, but Quincy assures me I’ll be just fine. With my chain mail and everything. In water. Sure, Quincy.

We’re close to the dog-faced things at the eastern edge of 8.12. This is the high corruption area – the air tastes sour and the trees seem kind of… off. As we’re walking, we see a horrible twisted thing shambling toward us through the forest. It looks like a couple of corpses grew together… It’s horrible. It doesn’t move like undead, and I don’t feel the pull of the river – it’s not undead. Yamaa would maybe want me to put it out of its misery. But she’s not here. I’m going to avoid it with the others.

We’re now approaching the river, and as we do, we see the tower in the distance with a purple swirl around it. The air is incredibly humid and feels like a thunderstorm. Lucens takes an image of it to show Silesse, later. (He’s also going to let me call him Luke! He says it’s “refreshing”).

I hand out sandwiches. I figure we need to keep our morale up, what with this gross corruption feeling all around us.

Quincy sniffs the air and says he can smell the dog-faced things. The wind is blowing west, toward the Wilted Forest, and he says the source of the smell is not very far away. We decide to avoid the source as best we can. But the more we move, the more it seems to track us, no matter what direction we move in. It’s within 150 feet of us and is hiding very well.

Luke casts an illusion, but nothing seems to happen. Suddenly, I see leaves moving ten feet away from us. Luke fires a blast at the movement, but doesn’t hit anything.

The beings go visible just before attacking us – they look similar to the dog-faced things in tone and banding, but look catlike. Lean and long, they have two sets of massive fangs, and one of them swipes its claws at Luke (6 damage and 7 damage). Luke is down, and it takes a big bite out of his head (fail two death saves, temporary loss of 3 points of Int, 1 point of Cha).

The second one now goes after Raevori, missing with its teeth but swiping her with its claws (4 damage). I ring the Sleep Bell to cast Spare the Dying on Luke to get him up (11HP) and cast Shield of Faith on myself. Melora Smites the one that attacked Raevori (20 damage), leaving a bright white line across the thing’s black skin. Raevori Shatters both of them (10 damage). Luke, now up, casts Burning Hands on both of them (18 damage on the one who attacked him; 7 damage on the other). Sovan casts Vicious Mockery on the one who attacked Luke (6 damage). Quincy attacks the one on Raevori (6 damage) and the one on Luke (7 damage).

The first one aims at Luke again, but Sovan uses Cutting Words and it does no damage. Quincy also reacts to protect Luke (8 damage and disadvantage on attacks). It winks out of vision. The second one follows suit. Quincy sniffs the air as I cast Grave Lights – one of them is outlined in light. Luke hits it with a blast of necrotic energy (12 damage) and Melora runs up to grapple it. It is very injured by this point.

Raevori tries to go after the other one, but fails. Sovan runs in another direction and actually gets to it, killing it.

The pinned one tries to break out of Melora’s grip and fails. It bites Melora, fairly weakly (7 damage). We execute it without much difficulty.

(If I seem clinical and detached here, it’s because I’m… I don’t know how to describe this. It’s terrifying. It’s oddly exhilarating? I don’t know. Everyone seems so used to this kind of killing. I guess it’ll just have to take time for me.)

(I miss him.)

We take a bit of a rest and then go on, approaching the river. Oh, right, the fording. After all this, now it’s time to try and cross a deep river in chain mail.

But thank goodness – Quincy downs a tree and we manage to walk across pretty easily. So this is what he meant! Thanks, Quincy.

We push on, trying to get as far away from the forest as we can before we have to stop for the night. The rest of the day passes without incident, until finally we can see the city in the distance. It covers the northeastern section of 11.10, through 11.09 and into 12.09. We still can’t see any signposts with the name of this city. Odd, because of how big it is.

I find a very secure place for us to spend the night, which also passes without incident.

DAY 3

As we approach the city, we can see a few different areas of it. The south-most portion is made of destroyed white marble buildings and some newer wooden buildings which have still largely decayed. To the north, we see a tower made of white marble. To the east of the tower, there is a place built mostly of white marble with less of the wooden constructions.

We decide to go straight for the tower. It looks like the walls of the city have been damaged about 300 years ago, never having been repaired since. We remember what Silesse told us about the cities – Antorum is the richest city of the old empire, while Vanikzila was more of a sketchy port city that never fully submitted to Silanyan rule. We do see a lot of more recent construction in the rest of the city, it’s just the walls that appear damaged. Perhaps this is Antorum because of the marble… or maybe it’s Vanikzila, which was punished by the Silanyan leadership for its rebellions by never getting fixed up. We don’t know quite yet.

We see a church similar to that by the psionic beings who gave Sovan a thought on a prior expedition. It’s empty. As we pass on, we enter an area full of wooden shantytown constructions. The larger marble buildings seem significantly older than the wooden ones, and a lot of them show signs of having partially collapsed and been partially rebuilt. Suddenly we remember that Silesse told us Antorum was built mostly out of marble – so this must be Antorum!

We now head to the tower and see three very large muscly creatures with horns protruding from their heads, wearing breastplates and carrying shields as well as large axes. There is a pale greenish tint to their skin. They seem like they’re patrolling one of the streets near the tower.

Sovan, again, approaches them to say hi. “Hello, citizen,” they say. “Do you have a licence? If you don’t have a licence, we’ll be putting you in jail.”

“We were actually just on our way to get a licence, but we seem to have gotten lost. Which way do we go?”

“Practicing magic without a licence is illegal. You must come to jail.”

(Raevori, quietly: “The jail will have a lot of stuff. Let’s agree and then blow up their stuff!”)

Sovan tries to argue that he’s new here and will totally go get a licence if they tell him how to do it. They look at him confusedly.

“Where do we go to get a licence?”

“You don’t have a licence and you cast magic. We’re taking you to jail now. Come or die.”

(God, they’re stupid.)

Raevori loses her patience (of which she never seems to have very much, anyway) and casts Fireball silently after warning Sovan to dash out of the way, frying them (30 damage). They yell “Stop, thief!” and we attack.

Sovan casts Hypnotic Pattern, yelling “SHOWTIME!” as we all close our eyes. Two of them shake it off, but one of them is caught. Luke hexes one (14 damage). The other one charges Sovan and hits him (22 damage). It catches him with his horns and tries to slam him into a building, but he (amazingly) digs his heels in and stops it. Melora hits it with her javelin (6 damage). I pull out my Command bell and yell to the one that attacked Sovan, “GROVEL!” It kneels and falls prone.

(It feels pretty cool, I’m not gonna lie.)

Quincy hits the grovelling one (9+14 damage). The other, seriously injured one, goes to hit Quincy, but Sovan yells “SPOILER ALERT! NONE OF US HAVE LICENCES!” and it stops in its tracks. Raevori bounds up and misses it with a Freezing Ray. Sovan goes after the one that’s now on Quincy (13 damage and it runs away). Quincy lashes out with his chain, but misses it. Luke shoots it (11 damage). Melora throws a javelin at it, but misses. I cast Toll the Dead, ringing my Speech bell, and it falls! (10 damage.)

One having been killed pretty fucking (oops, sorry Fior) well, Quincy goes after the grovelling one with his chain (10+13 damage). We execute the one in the Hypnotic Pattern.

Holy balls, we’ve just killed three cops. As we examine their bodies, we see badges that say “Antorum Military Guard”. We take them (15gp each). Sovan, Quincy, and Raevori each put on a badge. I facepalm. I feel like killing cops is probably bad enough, but impersonating them? We’re definitely past the point of no return now.

Luke, tiredly, asks if we can go to the tower now. Yes, Luke. Yes, we can go to the tower now.

Quincy picks the lock with Sovan’s help and we look inside. Its layout is very similar to the one in Toba – a main central room with a staircase up, and visible markings of warding. Quincy finds a book (a manual for the killing of a demon), rod, and dagger in this tower, in the same place they were in the tower of Toba. It looks like the two towers are actually identical in layout.

As we rest, Quincy takes more of a look around. It looks like the casting chamber was blown up – the staircase is fine up to a certain point, but past that there are black scorch marks and the top floor has been basically… melted. Everything up to the third floor is alright, though.

As we look out through the window slots, we see that to the north of us are about five large estate buildings with substantial grounds in the middle of the city. There’s also a very large central building in a grand, distinctive style of architecture. To the northeast of us, we see a military district with a tall keep on the water. West of us is more of the shantytown wooden construction. Although we try to find more loot in the tower, we only find two new books in addition to the manual for the demon we already found with the rod and dagger.

We decide to check outside the tower before we rest – and thank goodness, because there are six massive cops outside. Raevori and I decide to surprise them with attacks out the window – Luke suggests to Melora that she barricade the door – and – but now apparently Sovan and Quincy want Luke to disguise them as cops and – and now Luke is making an image of a cop? No, wait, Sovan is now opening the first floor window and yelling “I’m a cop!”

They yell “Halt, thief! Halt, thief!”

Sovan holds up his badge and sticks out his head.

“Show badge! Out!”

One of them comes up and takes the badge, looks at it, says “Checks out! Regulations say not in there! Get out!”

“Chase thieves, got away, door stuck, leaving now,” says Sovan.

“Thieves here?”

“That way!” Sovan points.

And they run off in that direction yelling “Halt, thief! Halt, thief!”

Wow. They really are stupid.

And off we go. To the Keep! We cut through the market area, which is a mix of new and old construction in the two styles. A lot of the old construction looks like it’s been fixed, all pre-corruption. All the marble is in remarkably good condition, considering how long it’s been. It looks clean and bright.

I wonder where the normal citizens are? All we’ve seen are cops…

As we go through the market district, we hear whooping and hollering and we see a large number of five-and-a-half foot tall, burly looking things with unnaturally large eyes and scooped-beak-like noses, running around and smashing things. We’ve found the hooligans!

(Sovan, Quincy, and Raevori quietly take off their police badges.)

We duck into a buiding and they run down the street past us, kicking things and parkouring as they go. We keep going, passing the central market square area and heading to the Keep. Standing on the walls of the Keep are more cops (“police-otaurs” as Raevori says). We scope it out from a distance and move on.

We move on north, passing by a patrol of three more cops who nod to us. “Citizen.” We nod back. We then pass a group of blue psionic beings, who say “Sir” to the cops when they nod and say “Citizen”. (Interesting. I thought they couldn’t talk?)

Sovan thinks a friendly thought at them, letting them know that he’s interacted with them before. One of them says, “Oh, you traded with one of us? Hi. Who are you?”

“We are travellers from far away, coming to explore and learn more about this city. Do you live here?”

“Yes. Do you have anything interesting? We would trade.”

“Of course! Do you want the best song in the world?”

Sovan then hears in his head, his song. “We have it,” they say.

“Oh, do you guys share information? That’s awesome. I have a much worse song?”

“That’s okay.”

“No, it’s still good, it’s –“ And they turn away, focusing on the rest of us.

Raevori thinks about Fireball, Luke thinks about his “interesting experiences with personal agency”, whatever that means, and I think about the bells.

The bells instantly pique their interest. The blue thing reaches for my Thought bell and starts ringing it. Um.

“Do something interesting!”

Okay? Okay. I cast Grave Lights and they look at it curiously. “Do something else!”

After some consideration, I (consensually) cast Command on the blue one to make it dance. (A police-otaur wanders over, but Sovan shows it his badge and it wanders away again.) All of them start dancing at the same time, and then they suddenly stop.

“That was interesting! We will give you a thought.”

And they give me a thought of a single-use Jump spell!

Now it’s Melora’s turn, and she thinks about lifting things as it relates to her relationship with Valkor. She picks me and Quincy up and parades around with us on her shoulders. The psionic beings don’t seem very interested, unfortunately. (I found it great, though. Thanks Melora!)

Raevori summons up an image of her particular dodging technique. They understand it and say, “Go! Try!”

Raevori tells Quincy to try to attack her non-lethally. Quincy punches her, but Raevori manages to block it with a Shield. The psionic beings go, “Okay! Try us!”

She tries to attack them, but they easily step out of the way. “Try again!”

Finally, Raevori attacks them and they mirror her earlier actions, replicating her Shield block.

“That was good! We will give you a thought.”

And they give her a thought of Dominate Person! (Sovan: “That was definitely the best person to give it to.”)

Luke thinks about his experiences of resisting and overcoming the influences that acted on him in the past. They say, “We will give him a thought. Maybe we can help with a thought.”

And they give him a thought of Remove Curse! “This is the way we know to take things away.”

Luke says, “I appreciate very much your efforts. Thank you.”

Sovan thinks about inspiration as a concept, and inspiring them to do something cool. “What’s something you’re good at but is still hard?”

Suddenly Melora asks, “Do you like sad thoughts?”

“Sometimes good thoughts can be sad.”

Melora thinks about losing her fiancée, and having her childhood best friend go insane and start acting like her fiancée. (Oh, gods. Poor Melora. I really should spend some time with her. Note to self: take Melora out to lunch when we get back to Sila.)

They give her a thought that allows her to initiate telepathic contact on a one-use basis. “This is so you don’t have to be alone.”

They then turn back to Sovan. “Learning is hard. We want to learn more. We have things to learn that are hard to digest.”

Sovan inspires them and they usher us out of the street, taking us into what seems to be their home. They sit in a circle and are silent for about an hour. Suddenly, they come out of it and say, “We learned! We will give you a thought!” And Sovan gets a thought of Confusion.

Quincy asks them, “What do you want?”

“We want something new.”

“Okay, well, what’s old?”

“Things we have –“ and they start listing all the things they have.

Quincy offers to show them how to make the most of a given moment – i.e., Action Surge. Luke and Sovan both throw up obstacles on either side of him, and he Action Surges to hit both of them with his chain.

They like it, and they give him a thought of Misty Step.

“Okay, we have to learn now. Goodbye!”

“Wait,” Sovan says. “Can you share some stories about this place, and we can tell you some things about the places we’ve seen? What’s the deal with the bull guys?”

“Don’t do magic around them, don’t do thoughts, don’t break things, don’t go bad places.”

“Who are the hooligans we saw?”

“The Mindless.”

“What are bad places?”

“The Keep, the Tower, the other people’s places.”

“How many peoples are in the city?”

“Not many really, but if you go there they say Halt Thief and they chase you.”

“The estates?”

“Yes.”

“Where’s a safe place to sleep for the night?”

“This area is pretty good.”

“Where are the people who are not you, not the Hooligans, and not the police?”

“There are some places. They –“ and we get a picture of wasp-people, with segmented wasp bodies but human heads on top.

“Are they friendly?”

“No. There are some of them in one of the “other people’s” houses.”

“Which one?” And they show us.

“There is one of them who is too strong for us in the city. There’s a couple others we haven’t caught yet.”

“What’s ‘them’?”

We get a picture of the red thing that was with them last time.

“Would you like us to help you get that one?”

“We can’t get that one. It’s too strong.”

“If we got that one for you, will you reward us with powerful thoughts?”

“We are strong.”

“You can’t get that one.”

“If we made it very tired and hurt, could you get it then?”

“Maybe. It’s very strong. Every time we try to get that it makes an iron wall and we can’t get it.”

Sovan thinks at them about books – “If you can get us books, we can tell you what’s in the books.”

“Oh! Written thoughts!”

“And we can read them in return for getting to keep the physical book.”

“Oh! Yes!”

The red one, which is too powerful for them, is in the market district.

They also think at us about the beings in the north – massive blobs with large mouths, brightly-coloured – who are too strong for them as well, but whose magic they would like to take – who eat books.

We make a plan to meet them back here in three days – we will do what we can about these things in the meantime.

Sovan, in return for this information, tells them about Toba and the forests near here, as well as Lua territory. They think, “That’s not a good way to take things.”

When we’re barely at the door, Raevori says, “Guys, they’re mind-slavers.”

“Yep,” says Quincy. “Everything on this continent is an asshole.”

(At this point, I get out some sandwiches for everyone, and Luke is kind enough to take over the log for a while.)

Most of the next NE district is small houses – still fine, but not estates. Also many Government Buildings, a sort of civic / bureaucrats’ district. Slums all around the edge of the city even here.

(Broad structure – 5 estates centre, then Gov’t. buildings, surrounded by slum; then 2 more areas to be described.)

V. north end, slums stop – see at top of city, couple of v. tall stately buildings – still not in NE section of 12.09 – made of various materials, not white marble. Area around them, large # of long low buildings, old rotting inn signs, stores, around their base.

12.09 – farther NE – ritzy, marble townhouses. Rich persons’ homes. Merchants and nobles.

(Thanks Luke! I’m back now.)

We’re now in the rattier end of the city, with more of the shantytown constructions. Any books we find have now rotted away.

Continuing north, we find ourselves looking at a large greyish blob with three coloured blotches on it – a small dark reddish blotch, a small dark green blotch, and a stripe of silvery-white – as well as a mouth. As it sees us, its teeth start to gnash and it moves in our direction.

Quincy pulls out his badge and says, “Halt! You’re under arrest!”

An extremely long, disgusting tongue shoots out toward the badge. It’s attack time, I guess.

“Get out of here, jerk!” Sovan yells, and it… goes nowhere (3 damage, though). It slurps at the air, and then it goes to bite Quincy, who’s in front of all of us (12 damage). It then starts sprouting pseudopods out of its skin and shoots them at him (14 damage). The tentacle wraps around Quincy and tries to grapple him. Luke misses with an eldritch blast. I unsuccessfully try to Toll the Dead on it, but Raevori and Melora pummel it with blasts (41 damage).

Sovan heals Quincy, right before it tries to slam Quincy into a wall – and fails. Quincy attacks it with his chain, and Melora misses – and I miss – and Raevori misses. Fuck. (Sorry again, Fior.)

It tries to slam Quincy into a wall again, but Quincy resists. It spits three magic missiles at Quincy (8 damage) and the white stripe vanishes. Luke hits it (8 more damage). Melora and Raevori both hit it as well (11 each) and we take it down.

With Luke and Sovan’s assistance, Raevori finds that this thing has an organ that digests magic (worth 150gp), and that once this thing digests magic, it appears in a certain colour on its body. The red blotch is transmutation, and green is also transmutation. White is evocation. We hole up in a nearby tavern with a bunch of broken bottles of old alcohol and a sign that says “Student Special!”. We rest up for a bit and then get going again.

As we crest a hill, I see about five or six of the grey blobs. We decide to leave them alone. I also see another one concealed away, which looks like two lumps pulling apart from each other. Yay. Disgusting monster mitosis.

They are somewhat spread out, so we decide to find a two-storey building and shoot down from a window. The one near the building sees us as we’re setting up, but we manage to shut the door and barricade it in time. We all fire down from the window – Quincy and I miss, but Luke hits (12 damage). It takes a flying leap and adheres to the wall right below us. Fucking disgusting. A tentacle lashes out at Quincy and Luke – Quincy reacts and uses his chain to disadvantage the attack on Luke, but it hits Quincy (10 damage). Quincy braces himself against the window as it tries to throw him out.

Raevori and Melora hit it pretty respectably (20 damage) and Luke casts Burning Hands (4 damage). I miss again with a crossbow, and Quincy finally manages to cut it away from the wall with his chain. It splashes to the ground and he hits it again (5 damage). And it vanishes. Sovan tries to use Dissonant Whispers, but it seems to have teleported away rather than just disappearing. We go after it, Quincy sniffing as he goes, and we catch up to it. Quincy hits it (12 damage), and blocks its hit in return (another 6 damage). Luke shoots it (7 damage) and it puddles! I manage to extract the magic organ, with Raevori’s guidance (another 150gp).

I pass out sandwiches just as we realize two groups of Hooligans are approaching up from each direction. Great. Sandwiches will have to wait.

(AN: Quincy and I both roll opposed 19s for me to find out what Quincy’s favourite kind of sandwich is. I WIN. MY SANDWICH INTEL IS ON POINT.)

Raevori Blurs and shoots ahead, ready to cast Fireball. Luke makes a Silent Image near us of a crystalline statue depicting a police-otaur holding a shiny badge aloft and hexes one in the group Raevori will confront. I ready a Toll the Dead, and the rest of us prepare our attacks.

One group goes directly for Raevori, with only one of them managing to scratch her (4 damage). I Toll the Dead on that one (2 damage). Five of them leap over and start flailing at Luke’s image of the cop statue. One of them slashes at Quincy (9 damage).

Another squad of hooligans comes forward and tries to smash the police-otaur statue while coming toward us. I smash one of them with my mace (6 damage), Melora tries to stab at one with her javelin, and Sovan tries to punch another. One of them hits Luke (9 damage).

Raevori and Sovan now go – Raevori Fireballs the seven of them by the statue (22 damage). Raevori follows it up with a Shatter (13 damage, still no drops). Sovan also Shatters them (19 damage and they finally drop).

Whooping and screaming, two more come after Raevori (4 damage). Five more focus on Melora, two hitting (8 damage after reduction). Quincy wraps them with his chain (6 damage and some are Restrained) and hits the one on him (6 damage).

I heal Luke, who looks like he sorely needs it, and Melora uses the Drain power of her greatsword (21 damage, Melora heals for 9). Luke moves his hex over to the restained Hooligans (11 damage, toasts one, injures three). The group near Raevori tries to attack her and… all of them miss. Sovan yells “SHOWTIME!” and Raevori closes her eyes in time while seven out of eight get caught in a Hypnotic Pattern. The restrained Hooligans try to attack Melora and all miss. Quincy drops one (18 damage). Raevori hits another (7 damage).

I’m getting tired of this. These things are too fucking tough. I’m not sorry anymore, Fior. You’re really nice but we’re the ones on an expedition right now. This is live flavour.

I hit one of them with Toll the Dead (12 damage) and drop it! In return, another scratches me. A light ouch. (1 damage)

Luke backs off a bit and the one remaining Hooligan attacking Raevori misses her yet again. Raevori misses it. The restrained group tries to break out of Quincy’s chain and one of them manages to. Quincy hits that one (18 damage, but still up). Melora slashes with her sword and stabs one of them pretty hard (13 damage). I use Toll the Dead again, for the one on me, and hurt it a little more (3 damage). Luke shoots one on Raevori, right in the butt. (In the Hooligan’s butt. Not Raevori’s). (11 damage)

I’m going to cut this short because it is really long to write out. We kill them, except for three that run away. It takes a while, but we kill them.

We behead the dead Hooligans, thinking we can probably get a sweet police salary for them. We approach the police-otaur fort. WE ARE RIGHT. This is insane. They’re actually paying us!! (100 gold plus 10 scrip for 10 gold each.)

And we finally sleep. What a day.

DAY 4

We’re thinking of just looting this place now, starting with the fancy district. Why not? Melora, who is amazing by the way, can carry all the loot we get.

(Actually, everyone is amazing. Even Raevori, who treads a fine line between “amazing” and “terrifying”. As I write this, she’s making a chain of the Hooligans’ hands. I really hope she liked my sandwiches. I’m not about to get on her bad side.)

Not a super interesting day – we do a lot of sweeps of the ritzy areas. In the morning, we hear a screeching sound from some distance off, and Raevori scouts it invisibly. She sees an enormous brownish-green wyvern, and we hide from it as it swoops off to eat some Hooligans.

More searching. Yawn.

In the afternoon, we come across a barred door leading into a medium-sized mansion. Luke looks in through a window and sees some expensive brocade and nice statues. Quincy sniffs and detects some trap magic on the door… so Luke Mage Hands the window and it opens.

Without incident.

THESE PEOPLE ARE SO FUCKING STUPID.

Anyway. Valuable chandeliers, valuable statues. Plush ballroom, silk brocade, large shattered mirror. We get a vague scent of magic, which Raevori clarifies with her Detect Magic vision. It turns out that the statues are vaguely magical. I test out the stairs by throwing an object up them – it just clatters back down. Sovan goes up them, no problem, while Melora picks up one of the statues.

And Sovan sees someone coming down from above… screams… and gets Petrified. Turned to stone.

We all run to grab shards of the shattered mirror. Holy shit, it’s a Medusa. IT’S A MEDUSA.

Raevori prepares a Fireball as I aim – and miss – a Guiding Bolt, but also cast Shield of Faith on myself. Luke runs over to Sovan and casts Remove Curse to de-stone him, preparing a hex. And it works!! IT WORKS! Thank the GODS.

Melora pulls out her longsword and moves up the stairs to engage it, but misses. Sovan readies to cast Hypnotic Pattern after Raevori’s Fireball is cast. Quincy moves over to us to defend us from what’s surely coming.

It bites Quincy (28 damage). Raevori blind-fires her Fireball and misses Quincy by inches, hitting the Medusa (39 damage), as well as Shattering it (6 damage). Sovan casts Hypnotic Pattern successfully! Excellent! And we all blast it with our best attacks, FUCKING PULVERIZING IT. WE FUCKING PULVERIZED A MEDUSA, FIOR. WE’RE SO GREAT.

Okay. Adrenaline wearing off now. Holy shit, a Medusa. If you think about the convergence of crazy coincidences that led to Luke giving the psionic beings a good thought to them giving him Remove Curse to him managing to use it successfully on Sovan and Sovan not… being Petrified… fuck. Fuck. I can’t think about that. I’m not going to think about that. I’m… Deep breaths, Sarene. Deep breaths.

(Medusa’s eyes worth 300gp and are a crafting reagent.)

We get four books and Medusa’s eyes, as well as the chandelier crystals.

I can’t believe I said this was a boring day. I can’t believe I was so stupid. I’m… DEEP BREATHS SARENE, DEEP FUCKING BREATHS.

I can’t lose someone else. I can’t. I can’t.

Okay.

OKAY.

We sleep.

DAY 5

We get up and keep searching.

[AN: Talking about hypothetically having to send Sovan’s Petrified body back to the mainland to get cured by a cleric and David says “At least we could sculpt the hair to look better”. Amazing.]

The rest of our searching goes relatively smoothly, as the only police-otaurs who bother us instantly get deterred by our Shiny Official Badges. Except for one, who grabs an invisible Raevori as she tries to finagle one of their badges. It body slams her into the wall (20 damage) and the other one says, “MOVE ON NOW!”

We do not move on, and Sovan successfully Calms Emotions on the one holding Raevori, who lets her go. Luke and I both Command them to Grovel while the rest of the party attacks and kills them.

Quincy casually grabs a Hooligan hand from Melora’s necklace and fixes it to the end of a police-otaur’s dead claw. (“They’re hardly fucking Poirot.”)

We manage to avoid the wyvern again. (How weird is it that this shit is starting to sound routine?)

We come to a house that seems relatively normal and unmagical, and we find a book here that’s well hidden. The book is magical. We don’t open it. We’ve learned some lessons about caution today.

(45gp of stuff plus magical book and one other non-magical book.)

We finish our day by meeting with the psionic beings, who have a book for us. We read them a book in return. It is an incredibly boring book about an incredibly boring mayor of Antorum. They are unimpressed, until Sovan shares another more interesting one. “Okay,” they say. “We will continue to gather written thoughts.”

More errands. We go banking to try and get our scrip traded in. It works! And the suit of armour who serves us at the bank looks exactly like X-02 (but in these case there are several suits of armor like that). So we get our 100 gold and scram, sleeping in the police district again.

Well, we try. There are fucking police-otaurs training with their weapons RIGHT outside our sleeping place.

So we try to find another sleeping place, and… and there are more police-otaurs training.

On every street corner.

WE WRAP CLOAKS AROUND OUR FACES AND EARS AND FUCKING SLEEP.

DAY 6

Thank the Gods, they’re mostly done now and a third of them are actually asleep in the street.

We finally leave Antorum and head back home through the forest. We come across a ton of giant wasps fighting each other and Raevori Fireballs them (CR ¼, 20 of them). Mmm, caramelized wasps.

No, I’m not actually going to make a sandwich out of that.

We travel through 10.11 and at the bottom of the hex, we see a pair of Lua carrying one of the psionic beings upside-down. We obviously can’t have this. And Raevori fries them (lightning bolt), and we untie the psionic being.

“Oh, um, I have no thoughts for you. Thank you.” And he leaves. Goodbye, friend!

(AN re the Lua: “How do I aim for the Lua without hitting the little blue guy?” “Hit him right in the dick.” “It’s a small chance.” “It’s a small dick.”)

We sleep at the edge of 10.11.

DAY 7

We cross the river on the way back and… Raevori falls in the goddamn river. Quincy fails at rescuing her. And there’s a High Corruption silver-banded fuckface in the fucking river. Fuck. I just want to go the fuck home now, you guys.

Sovan Dissonant Whispers the thing. Quincy Chains a tree, grabs Raevori, and finally pulls himself and Raevori out of the river. The thing doesn’t resurface (CR 1).

We take a short rest and then head to the Church of the Road. We see a bunch of dog-faced things with Lua captives. They’re in three flying groups of 8. One of them starts to dive-bomb us. Raevori starts casting Fireball, Luke preps Burning Hands and hexes one at random, Sovan readies a Hypnotic Pattern, Melora and Quincy ready attacks, I Command one to “cluster” and it… flies closer to another one. Okay. I guess I can’t command them in a group, like I could with the psionic beings.

Luke’s Burning Hands downs one, while two are injured. Melora swings at a plunging one, and they all go after Sovan. Quincy Chains one out of the air (8 damage). Two of them hit Sovan, who is paralyzed for two rounds and gets moderately hurt (10 damage). Raevori toasts seven of them. Nine out of eighteen are now dead. Quincy kills two more.

The remaining flight descends. One misses me, another hits Luke and paralyzes him (8 damage) but gets hit by Quincy (9 damage).

One grabs Sovan and starts flying away with him. Melora jumps to try and grab him and gets paralyzed as well. I jump as well, grab him, but slip off. (8 damage to me)

Raevori casts Shatter on the ones flying away with Sovan. Two die, two are not strong enough to keep holding onto Sovan, and Quincy catches him, attacks with one hand, slings him to his other shoulder, off-hand attacks, then Action Surges and kills one of the remaining three on the ground (14 damage). Quincy is amazing.

One of the flying ones divebombs Luke and explodes into him (5 points of permanent Int damage, 10 points of temporary Int damage – he is in a coma). Another one flies at me and… misses, exploding in midair. The final one also flies at me and hits me, and honestly, I’m feeling pretty fucking rough. Thankfully we manage to kill that one and we get healed up.

Sovan goes to talk to the Lua, who is surrounded by four more paralyzed Lua. “I heard you were having trouble here?”

“Yeah, those things, they took one of us and made it that.” We see a little vat and a Lua body in there, slowly bubbling and turning black. I cast Sacred Flame and the tar dissipates.

Sovan says, “That’s awful. I’m so sorry. I’m glad we were here.”

Quincy hands them a card and says “Here’s our card. We’re in the area trying to make things better.”

“O…kay.”

We help carry the paralyzed Lua to Toba – after an hour, they loosen up and are able to walk for a bit. Sovan tells them about our explorations, but not in enough detail that they could actually retrace our steps.

We finally get home, after Sovan tells the bridge guards about all the High Corruption beings we’ve killed.

AND WE ARE FINALLY HOME.

I’m not going to put too much of a postscript on this. I can’t believe we nearly lost Sovan twice. I can’t believe Luke has sustained these horrific injuries. I can’t believe how strong Quincy, Raevori, and Melora are.

I can’t believe how much I miss Naveed, and at the same time, how I’m able to go on with my life like this while he’s… dead. While he’s dead.

I’m going to need a break before I go out again.

Yeah. That’s all.

View
Expedition 31(a) - The Window is Closed (David Island II)
June 10, 2017

Characters: Rock (barbarian/fighter, 3), Marc Cooperson (dragon sorcerer, 2), Linna (rogue, 1), Jean-Lee “Gucci” Challenges-Debicourt de Ia Terre des Romances aux Rivalieux-Quandamouzieres Sur Vantera-aux Alpes Maritimes (war cleric, 1), Beauregard-Pierre d’Henri au Amélie-sur-Mer de Monsieur le Boulanger-François le Quatrième Tremblay-Claudette du-Rochefort René le Maurice (ranger, 2)

Major Character Changes:
Linna has leveled to 2.
Marc has leveled to 3, and has formed a bond with an aberrant symbiote/parasite [+1 to max HP, future effects to be discovered].

Map:
[link]

Experience:
XP: 440 each (380 [base] + 20 [log bonus] + 10% [update bonus])

Profits:
Rock: 113.5 gp and 150 debt from Linna
Marc: 94.5 gp and 150 debt from Linna
Beau: 94.5 gp and 150 debt from Linna
Jean-Lee: 44.5 gp and 150 debt from Linna and dancing shoes
Linna: 94.5 gp and cloak of alacrity, owes 600 gp to party members
LMF: + 76 gp, – 2 healing potions

Expenses:

  • 6 healing potions [300 gp]
  • 6 gp [6 gp]
  • 2 grappling hooks & ropes [6 gp]
  • 4 ritual components [20 gp]
  • 21 rations (10 consumed, 10 thrown, 1 lost) [10.5 gp]
    Total: 342.5 gp, of which LMF pays 100 (for the two healing potions drunk)

Items:

  • 750 gp – cloak of alacrity: + prof on initiative rolls, 1 charge pass without trace (bought by Linna)
  • 200 gp – silver shard: 1 use spell attack, makes an incorporeal creature corporeal (bought by Raevori)
  • 200gp – books about aberrations
  • 150 gp – sachet of poison purging: there is a small amount of powder in this sachet which destroys any airborne poison it comes into contact with
  • 150 gp – Notes of Elspeth van Horne: the notes describe her time on the island and depict her descent into madness, backs of each note contain pieces of a complex glyph (given to the LMF for safe-keeping)
  • 60 gp – Rock’s parasite corpse: interesting specimen
  • 50 gp – dancing shoes: the attuned wearer gains expertise in perform (dance) (bought by Jean-Lee)
  • 50 gp – dark reflector: looking in this hand mirror shows you the worst version of yourself (bought by Melora)
  • 15 gp – crystal power coupling: this connects the mountain’s defences to an unknown power source belowground, can be used to turn them back on (given to the LMF for safe-keeping)

Summary

Gates:
Shimmering portals which allow for one-way travel between Stations upon being activated with a key particular to that Gate.
1 to 2: your name
2 to 3: stone from the island
3 to 4: hair
4 to 5: heated metal
5 to 6: cantrip
6 to 7: fruit
7 to 1: whistling
1 to 8: human blood

Stations:
1: Faith (Moloch) – pit
2: Hope (Levistus) – plant creature village
3: Charity (Mammon) – amphitheatre
4: Fortitude (Barbas) – hedge maze
5: Justice (Belial) – chess board
6: Prudence (Baalzebul) – plinth with dancing figures
7: Temperance (Adramalech) – cube
8: Key

Mountain’s Defences:
1: Faith hounds (pacified by flute)
2: Hypnotic pattern (cast after ‘Sophia,’ so can be avoided)
3: Floating orbs (throw items through the cloud to draw some of their fire – not a perfect solution)
4. Poisonous gas (sachet protects)
5. Ophidian (recognized Marc as a replacement for Mr. Harding, and will let him and his companions through)
6. Platform with glyphs (follow very precise pattern to avoid stepping on the glyphs – can use staffs to help balance)
7. Cottage (closed the door)

Expedition Log

[NB: posted now for log bonus but needs editing for style/cohesion, so complete informationally but may be a better read in a day or so]

The following is an accounting of the events of Expedition 31A, the second expedition to the island known as the Window, located at the intersection of Hexes 4.11, 5.10, and 4.10. I have recorded the details of the expedition as faithfully as possible, although some of what we saw is very difficult to explain rationally.

We set out from Sila in fine weather and relatively high spirits. Jean-Pierre prepared us for the mission ahead by casting Aid on each expedition member and blessing Rock’s halberd, which we greatly appreciated.

As we travelled towards the island, Jean-Lee heard tramping footsteps coming our way and Rock quickly ordered us to retreat. I spotted a gully and we all ran for it, with Rock assisting Linna and myself. Peering out of our hiding place, we saw a procession of twelve hobgoblins, four of whom were carrying an elaborate sarcophagus. One of the hobgoblins had a noticeably superior sword and armour and we decided not to risk an engagement, as they looked quite formidable and we wanted to reserve our resources for the dangers of the Window.

We reached the shore and set off in our canoes. I do not think I can explain how strange and unsettling that area is to anyone who has not been there, and of course anyone who has would scarcely be able to forget. The water was dark and completely opaque — which was especially unnerving, as the last time we had been here we had seen a monster in the waters — and everything was unnaturally quiet. The water made no splashing noise as we paddled through its eery stillness, beneath a sky which had turned the same purple as a bruise.

We avoided the beach, where we had last seen the sea monster, and instead made for the spot on the cliffs where we had left ropes on our previous expedition. When we arrived, we saw that our ropes had been destroyed – in fact, that all of the vegetation and tree cover had been stripped away, and that huge furrows had been dug into the top of the cliff. We returned to the beach, and landed safely despite our fears.

By the beach, there was a new, brackish river outlet emptying into a tidepool, which we carefully avoided. Upon inspection, it appeared to have been clawed out, and quite recently. The rowboat which we had found on the last expedition had been propped upright on several logs and cleaned meticulously, although it had not been repaired at all and was still not seaworthy.

We headed north, towards the amphitheater (Station 3: Charity) and the shimmering square that we had seen last time but not been able to investigate. The amphitheatre looked as it had when we first encountered it, with the plinth gone and the stones wheeling about in their whirlwind. Jean-Lee cast Detect Magic as a ritual, using some sort of drug that I was unfamiliar with as a component. Whatever it was, it certainly worked and he immediately spotted the four magical stones in the whirlwind – enchantment, divination, abjuration, and evocation, as before.

Jean-Lee used his axe to knock the divination and abjuration orbs out, after we tested to make sure that there was no danger of losing the axe. Marc very bravely stuck his hand into the whirlwind and reported that he did not feel any inward pull.

Rock carried the abjuration stone away from the amphitheatre and a spherical forcefield popped up around her, which disappeared when she rolled back to the amphitheatre. Through experimentation, we discovered that the ball of force, including Rock inside it, weighed only about 5 pounds and could be sent rolling away very dramatically by being struck by a weapon. When Marc tried to cast a cantrip within the sphere nothing appeared, but he could cast dancing lights, so long as they were outside of the sphere.

We returned the abjuration sphere to the amphitheatre and moved on to investigate the shimmer, which we would later learn was one of a number of portals joining up the various Stations around the island. These Gates work by evocation and conjuration magic. When they are not activated, you can toss inorganic things through them but they block all organic material from passing through. It is important to be careful – organic material can pass through from the other side of an unactivated portal, but will then be bisected if you try to pull it back.

Without enough information to understand what the shimmer was, we left it and explored along the river. We came to the fork where the new river had been dug out of it — it appeared to have been burrowed and hacked out by something incredibly strong, which had dug its way from the river to the beach and then back again. A little further on, Linna spotted a disturbance in the current and found a place to cross the river, where pillars had been built to form a line of stepping stones just under the surface of the water. Rock and I threw grappling hooks across the river and we crossed mostly without incident, holding onto the ropes to balance. Jean-Lee walked across very boldly, despite falling twice and losing a day’s rations – his poise put me in mind of the participants of those wonderful shows of Monsieur Saint Laurent that I was lucky enough to see sometimes when visiting Louboutin-sous-Bois. Linna was equally impressed, although Rock did not look as pleased while she helped him to dry off.

After walking for a little while, we suddenly we heard a hoarse voice from the trees ask – “WHY ARE YOU HERE?”

We looked around frantically, and Jean-Lee and I managed to spot a dark, cloaked figure crouched in one of the trees, which we later determined to be Mr. Harding, or what remained of him. Jean-Lee noticed that his clothes had once been very fine but were quite ripped – both through long use and through the distortion and mutation of his body.

We tried to talk to him but he would only repeat his demand that we leave, interspersed with other ominous warnings – “You will drown on dry land and she will laugh.” We told him that we couldn’t safely cross the river where we were but he told us that he did not care. Marc asked him what he did care about and received no response.

We threw our grappling hooks back over the river and crossed, balancing on one of the ropes while holding onto the other. Marc fell into the river, but calmly swam to the other side despite the waters being extremely cold. When we made to retrieve our grappling hooks, Mr. Harding told us to leave them – as he knew that they helped us cross the river. He melted them where they lay, and repeated, “Leave the island. If I see you, I will kill you.”

As we walked away, we caught sight of him traversing the forest shockingly quickly – one of his arms would stretch and extend, grab onto a tree some distance away, and pull him forward.

Linna and Jean-Lee and I immediately thought of returning to Sila – after all, what could we do against a threat like that? We knew that he was fast and stealthy and used magic, and could only speculate what other powers he might possess. However, having left his deeply unsettling presence, we recalled from Ms. Van Horne’s notes that he only guards the territory inside the river. We decided to lay our hopes in that and continue exploring on the other side of the river.

We continued along, staying a little ways away from the river to try to escape Mr. Harding’s notice. We came next to a gate, with a large numeral 1 on it (Station 1: Faith). There was a shimmer in the air to each side of the gate, one of which we would soon identify as a portal to Station 2, and a large pit on the other side of it (50 feet across and too deep to see the bottom of). In the centre of the pit was a box floating over the nothingness, and just inside the gate there was a plinth with a silver flute hanging from it. Marc stepped forward and picked up the flute and we heard a voice say “FAITH.”

Jean-Lee cast another ritual Detect Magic and watched as Marc began to play the flute, which showed conjuration and enchantment magics and created a magical aura around the player. The pit itself contained some sort of untyped magic.

With ‘faith’ as our guide, Marc volunteered to try simply walking out across the pit to reach the box. We tied a rope around him and he stepped out over the pit with no hesitation. He walked about halfway across but then faltered and immediately fell. We pulled him back without harm and he determined to try again. Marc suggested that he close his eyes and let us disorient him, then walk forward – so that he would not know when he was on solid ground or not, and might not falter. We did so, and he made it almost all of way to the box, but wavered at the last minute and fell again.

At this point Jean-Lee stepped forward and told us that he would do it, as he believed that his natural commitment to poise would carry him through – and it did. We tied a rope around him, he set his shoulders in a certain stylish jaunt, and he sauntered straight out to the box. The second he reached the box, he suddenly appeared beside us again, holding his prize which he proffered with a little spin and a flip of his hair as his sunglasses glinted even in the muted, off-tone light of the island. The box contained more notes, which we quickly read through and consolidated with those found previously.

The notes mentioned Ms. Van Horne having difficulty passing through the Gate at Station 1, as she had forgotten her name. We tried saying her name, to no effect. Then I said my name and the shimmer hummed as it activated. I hesitated, and while I was vacillating, Rock said her name and quickly stepped through the portal and disappeared. We waited and when she did not return, Marc said his name and followed her.

They later reported that they found themselves in a fractal hallway, whose walls had the disturbing texture of raw meat, and that they could see and hear us but could not pass back through the gate (the portals allow for only one-way travel).

I stuck my axe through the shimmer and Rock grabbed onto the end of it, so that I could not pull it back, wrote ‘OK’ on it, and released it. I asked her if we should follow and she wrote back that they would try to find their way back to us, and that we should wait two hours and then leave.

Rock and Marc walked down the hallway, discovering a small teleporting effect – when you walk along the hallway towards the exit, you get jolted forward in place and end up much further along (although the effect does not happen going back to the entrance, as these Gates allow one-way travel only – once you enter, you must leave through the exit, which disappears behind you). They came to the end of the tunnel and, looking out, saw that it had led them to the plant creature village (Station 2: Hope).

Rock and Marc stepped out and immediately drummed the ‘friend’ pattern. The plant creatures recognized them and did not seem too disturbed by their presence; they were at first wary of Marc and drummed ‘fire,’ but settled again when he offered to perform the ritual of giving a piece of himself. The plant creatures were gathered around a large corpse and were peeling thick fungus off it while baby plant creatures crawled out of it — likely part of the same process we had witnessed last time, when we had seen them rubbing some sort of sap over an aberration corpse. Rock and Marc left the creatures to their work and made their way back to us by foot, to our great relief.

We continued northwards and found the terrain increasingly swampy, with an increasingly terrible smell – like nothing I had ever experienced before. From ahead of us, we heard a shuffling noise and the sound of something huge chewing, and we ran. We gradually gained distance from it and, looking back, saw a long, low-slung shambling creature – vaguely bovine but with a disturbingly humanoid face and a long, serpentine neck. There was an ornate spear sticking out of its side, which had clearly been there a long time and did not seem to bother the creature at all. Once we were certain we had escaped the creature, we continued on our way and made a point to avoid it (which we could do quite easily due to its powerful stench).

We came next to a large, jet black stone cube which was completely smooth and featureless except for a door labelled ‘7’ on the north face (Station 7: Temperance). Marc pushed the door open and cast dancing lights inside, illuminating murals covering the walls. He entered the room while Rock and I braced ourselves against the door, in case it tried to close behind him. Marc saw a huge, immobile shadowy form and threw a pebble at it; it immediately opened glowing red eyes and pulled out a giant sabre, and something silver shone in its chest. We heard Marc calmly apologize for disturbing something, and Rock and I rushed in to help. The creature swung at Marc and hit him, and the three of us found ourselves transported back to just outside of the cube.

We reentered the room and saw the creature back in its original position and motionless again. The walls were covered with murals of battle and hunting. However, when the creature had been active Rock had seen a keyhole painting behind where the creature had been standing and a painting of the creature itself of the opposite wall, which were not there any more.

Through various experimentation, we discovered that when the creature was awake and the image of it appeared on the wall, touching the image would cause the creature to orient itself towards you and approach you. A ritual Detect Magic from Jean-Lee showed that the room contained a mixture of conjuration and illusion magic, and that the silver glow inside of the creature was strongly abjuration. Linna attempted to see through any illusions present, without success. Next Rock tried to stick her hand into the creature’s chest to push the silver inside of it back towards the keyhole painting; she managed this, but to no effect. Touching the keyhole painting caused a voice to say “TEMPERANCE.” We tried removing all of our weapons before awakening the creature, with no effect.

We awoke the creature and Rock went to where its image appeared on the wall and touched it and waited while it approached her. As it did, the image that she was touching grew larger. When it reached the middle of the room, the image suddenly appeared on the opposite wall, shrinking as the creature walked away from it. Marc touched that image and the creature turned towards him, so we discovered that two people could trap the creature that way (holding it between them, unable to advance towards either person) although we were not sure how to use that.

We read through the notes and saw that this station was named for Adramalech – on saying that name, the creature intoned: “KEEPER OF THE DOOR.”

Eventually, after many attempts, we realized that we had to cause the creature to walk so that its image would appear over the keyhole picture. When we touched the image like that, the creature stopped dead and we heard a click behind the open door. We closed it and saw that on the back of the door was a real keyhole. Rock put her hand through the image on the door and her hand appeared in the creature’s chest. She grabbed the key and opened a panel on the back of the door, retrieving more notes.

I was greatly relieved that we had finally solved the puzzle of Station 7, as it had taken us a very long time, and each failed attempt caused the silent, shadowy, menacing creature to swing its sabre at one of us – which teleported us outside instead of hurting us, but was no less frightening for that.

We returned to Station 3 (Charity) for the night to sleep under the protection of its forcefield and passed the night uneventfully.

The next morning, we walked to Station 1 (Faith), and took the Gate to Station 8 (The Key). We popped out in front of the gate with the metal dogs, which looked just as menacing as they had on Expedition 28(a). Jean-Lee began to play the magical flute and strode directly forward through the creatures. Upon at first seeing us, they snarled and gnashed their teeth, but calmed down quickly at the music from the flute and watched Jean-Lee adoringly (although he had to keep playing continually in order to keep them pacified). We walked through the gate and, proceeding along the narrowing, winding way, approached the first obstacle – a vibrating pillar in our path which emitted a constant stream of eerie deep speech. Although none of us understood it, we heard the name Sophia repeated throughout, and a Detect Magic showed enchantment that spiked after each repetition of her name.

When we tried to walk past the pillar, it created flash of swirling colours [hypnotic pattern] that captured all of us within its sway. I remember faintly hearing it begin to emit a barking noise, and the clatter of the approaching metal dogs as they came to attack us, although none of it seemed important at the time. They attacked Jean-Lee, who broke free from the spell, and Linna, who collapsed. Jean-Lee healed himself and Linna and began to play the flute again while they woke the rest of us up.

Looking down, we saw something moving quickly through the trees towards us and recognized Mr. Harding. As he approached the gates, the dogs ran to swarm him. We watched and he seemed to be holding his own, but struggling. Seeing an opportunity to stop him, we headed back down to side with the dogs and perhaps stop him. Linna took over playing the flute, and Jean-Lee took a healing potion to prepare for battle.

We join the fight. Mr. Harding was formidable, with a bone spur protruding from one of his arms that he used as a weapon, but could not stand against both us and the dogs. Badly injured, he tried to run and Marc chased after him, and we brought him down.

As he lay at our feet, he started to speak, with a terrible rasping voice. “Pulled me into the faith hounds…knew my trigger…would have been a good Raven…live, die, live again…please kill me….maybe with the flame, I’ll stay dead…don’t go up there, more like me northwest, ambush predators…she’s always up there…don’t take the orbs, or if you do run…why are you here?” We told him that we were trying to make sure that the window is not open, to which he replied, “I’m still here…it’s still feeding me.” It was horrible to watch him like that – still monstrous, but with a dreadful pathos. In the light, it almost looked like he could once have been handsome.

Jean-Lee cast a sacred flame and Mr. Harding died, collapsing into ashes. Jean-Lee paused for a moment and intoned a very solemn ‘babe,’ and we left. Having read through Ms. Van Horne’s notes, Mr. Harding’s death is especially poignant – their story is terrifying, of course, but also very moving and intensely sad.

We decided to turn away from the mountain, for the time being, as we worried it would be too dangerous without further information.

We headed towards the earthen mound beside the river and heard a loud shuffling, and saw tracks which appeared to be from the creature which had carved out the new river. We turned and ran, as quickly as we could. It seemed to have difficulty forcing itself way through the thick foliage and that is likely the only thing that saved us, as it was very quick and seemed to be an excellent tracker. We heard a massive roar and saw it slip into the river behind us, and continued running.

As the forest ended, we came to a hedge maze (Station 4: Fortitude), covered with beautiful flowers dripping sap. Inside we could see many corpses of aberrations, and pollen hanging thickly in the air. We navigated the maze without trouble, as we had a map of it in Ms. Van Horne’s notes. In the centre of the maze, we found a pedestal with a bag and more pages of notes. Upon picking up the sachet, we heard a voice say “FORTITUDE.” As we traced our path back out of the maze, we saw pollen in the air around us that dissipated harmlessly when it came within a radius of the sachet.

We proceeded until we came upon the next point – a board of black and white patterned tiles, with a metal rectangle in the middle. Rock walked to the centre of the board and picked up the rectangle, seeing that it was a mirror, and a voice said, “JUSTICE.” The mirror, when looked into directly, shows you the worst version of yourself, but when tilted, showed that the seemingly empty board was set up with a chess game that was half-way played already. Thinking of some way to show justice, we chose to play white, the side that seemed to be weaker. Rock walked around the board and mapped out the pieces, then moved them according to Linna’s directions.

After a very terse period, Linna’s intelligence overcame, as we won. All of the black squares flashed white for a moment and then the enemy king unravelled and revealed a slipcase the size of the mirror, containing more pages of notes.

We saw that more rivers had been dug in this area.

We decided to use the portal system to go to Station 6 (Prudence), as we were wary of the ones that Mr. Harding had warned us about to the northwest. When we reached the exit, we saw four creatures waiting outside of the portal. They were horrifying to see – they looked half-human and half-animal, like twisted versions of each that had been mutated and stretched until they were misshapen bipeds, with stretched out limbs and deeply unsettling proportions. They seemed to have been formed from a wolf, a bear, a crocodile, and a boar. When we tossed a pebble out of the gate, they all turned to focus completely on it.

The wolf-creature approached and said, with a grating, husky stilted voice, “Hello, I am diplomat. Come out and fight and die or come out and talk.”

Rock motioned for us to stay put and stepped out of the gate, alone. Diplomat asked her: “You are diplomat,” and she said confirmed. It said that it had sensed more than one of us, and she confirmed. Linna bravely stepped out of the portal to join Rock.

Diplomat said that it was a “one and one” and asked how we killed Mr. Harding, ‘the hunter.’ It explained that the one-and-one are created by combining organisms and asked if we wanted to take a part of them and make it part of us – not to become a one-and-one, but to use their flesh. Rock agreed, as it did not seem like there was any other option; a refusal seemed certain to provoke violence. She extended her arm and Diplomat summoned another of the one-and-one and ripped its tongue out, revealing a tiny, squirming creature. It scored down Rock’s arm and shoved the creature inside. She steeled herself and managed to stop the creature from continuing up her arm [con save], and it settled where it was. A mouth opened up in her hand and she sprouted long claws that she could grow at will by thinking of killing [primal savagery cantrip]. Diplomat asked if anyone else wanted to receive such and Marc stepped out of the portal to accept. The bear-creature approached and ripped out Diplomat’s tongue. Diplomat collapsed, and the bear-creature shoved the part into a wound on the back of Marc’s neck – where apparently, the augmentation will produce a stronger effect. Marc collapsed [failed wis save] and took an injury, though luckily only a temporary one.

The remaining two one-and-ones left, moving the same way that Mr. Harding had – by extending their arms grotesquely and grabbing trees, then pulling themselves away very quickly.

With them gone, we approached Station 6 – a 40 foot wide plinth, with a series of pale, ghostly figures on it and a pair of shoes at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the platform. Rock touched the shoes and they instantly appeared on her feet as a voice said “PRUDENCE.”

Rock approached the platform and studied the figures as they began to whirl around the platform in an intricate dance. Rock tried to join in and collided with them [psychic damage], but with helpful observations from Linna, managed to join the dance. As she danced, she began to feel increasingly ethereal [con save] and the shoes began to erode, almost wearing away entirely by the time she reached the centre. Upon reaching the centre, the figures sunk into the plinth with a hissing noise and a pillar rose up, with notes on it and a pair of white, patent leather shoes which Jean-Lee approved of immensely.

We used the portal system to return to Station 3 and experimented with placing different objects into the basket, to determine what would be considered sufficient charity. We ended up leaving four healing potions and several gold pieces in the basket, as well as one of the orbs, and left with amphitheatre with the divination orb.

Upon leaving the amphitheatre, the divination orb reacted to the three words from the notes: for ‘key’ an arrow appears that points to the mountain, for ‘power’ the arrow points into the ground, and for ‘entity’ the arrow moved, tracking the monster’s movement.

We returned to the amphitheatre to sleep for the night, intending to climb the mountain on the next day, as we had the notes and items from each station – with the exception of the recorder retrieved from Station 2 during the last expedition, which we had left behind in Sila.

In the morning, we went to the mountain, and made it past the first two obstacles easily, as we had learned their tricks. Above the second switchback, we saw a cloud of floating orbs. When we cast Detect Magic, they showed strong evocation magic. The notes had said that velocity confuses them, so Linna fired an arrow through the cloud, and they shot beams of energy that destroyed it. Rock ran through while the rest of us fired arrows and threw javelins through. However, when Rock threw items into the cloud from the other side, they did not draw any fire. We debated how best to get past them, and experimented with various speeds, and determined that we would slow-lob items through and then run through as fast as we could as a group – so that hopefully, not all orbs would be recharged and ready to fire at us. We tossed our rations through and ran. Linna and I were hit by the orbs, but made it through alive.

Looking down, we saw the entity coming up the mountain behind us – chasing the divination orb. We hurried as much as we could – although there was little we could do in that regard, given the obstacles in our way.

The next obstacle was a cloud of poisonous gas, which we passed safely using the sachet received from Station 4.

After that, we came upon a snake mask – Ophidian, the gatekeeper, whose serpentine body could be see reflected in the mirror from Station 5. She said, “I beg your pardon, the doctor is not taking visitors at this time,” and upon being told that we had urgent business, said that she would pass on any messages we had but could not let us through. Eventually, Marc managed to convince her that we were authorized, as he was the replacement for Mr. Harding. She looked us over and determined that Rock did not have enough of the one-and-one influence, but that Marc did – as he had accepted the parasite into his neck. She took to calling him Inferior-Harding, which did not seem very polite, but I think that she was quite saddened to hear of Mr. Harding’s death.

Next we came to a place where a ring of the mountain had been removed, leaving the only way forward a ladder which led up to a white platform. There were clouds moving in a complicated pattern that we would have to emulate on the platform. Linna put on the magical shoes and went first. She made it to the other side and, turning back, saw yellow and purple glyphs. We crossed after her – a very delicate operation, as you had to put your feet in precisely the right places to avoid the glyphs, although we found that we could use staffs to help us balance, as they do not set off the glyphs.

We reached the final test – the cottage that we had seen at the top of the mountain. We opened the door and saw inside a pile of aberration corpses, that seemed to have been torn apart, with a sheet of paper lying on top of it. The back wall of the cottage was black, with a glowing red glyph before it. There was a crystal box, hovering in the air in the middle of a pillar that extended from the ceiling above it and the floor beneath it. There were so many bodies of aberrations inside and we remembered the note: they all fail at temperance.

When we checked the divination orb, the ‘key’ arrow rotated – as we were right in the middle of it – and ‘power’ pointed straight down.

We tossed various items into the room, which all disappeared as soon as they entered it and detect that there is conjuration magic happening – presumably a teleportation effect.

Remembering the solution to Station 7, we close the door and instantly appear inside the cottage. We collected the note, which told us that we had completed the glyph – and when we held all of the pages of notes together, the writing twisted and extended onto the backs of the pages, revealing the glyph.

Rock picked up the crystal box and when we checked the divination orb, it showed that ‘power’ was gone and we could see the defences along the path up the mountain deactivated. The box acts as a crucial connector to the power source below.

The entity was moving slower at that point but still heading up the mountain towards us and getting quite close. We had heard a massive explosion as it passed Defence 6 – clearly some of the runes are explosive – and surmised that it was likely very injured at that point. Rock threw the divination orb off of the mountain and the creature chased after it – we got a terrifying glimpse of a tentacled, lobster-like beast as it passed.

On the way down the mountain, Ophidian told us that she had tried to stop the beast, but it was too strong for her and had hurt her gravely. We parted cordially, with her saying that she would let Marc back in and anyone that he brought with him.

At the foot of the mountain, we looked back and saw the entity forcing its way through the door of the cottage.

As we left the island, the aberrant parasites in Rock and Marc demanded to be fed, to gain enough strength to make it off the island. Rock let hers die, but Marc chose to feed his and keep it alive.

We travelled home without further incident and regained the Wall, battered and tired but alive.

View
Expedition 31 - Vengeance Achieved
With a hearty side of cash.

June 3

Some goblins needed killing. So we killed them.

Overview

Characters

Changes:

Quincy: Epiphany – resistance to nonmagical damages after kicking down doors.
Pierre Levels to 4.

Raevori: +949 xp, +390 gp
Pierre: +863 xp, +390 gp
JP: +949 xp, +455 gp
Amara: +949 xp, +455 gp
Silverleaf Moonshadow: +949 xp, +455 gp
Quincy: +863 xp, +455 gp
LMFfAG: +135.5 gp

Kills:

13 Miners (CR1)
4 Goblins
20 Hobs (CR1)
4 Wargs (+8 fled)
2 eluded hippogriffs?
X Goblins in Cave
Y Big Goblins in Cave
Z Wargs in Cave

Loot:

230 gp – silver from Miners
150gp – 6 books
500 gp – various artefacts
300 gp – ass’t papers
200 gp – gold circlet of goblin queeniness
400 gp – more metals
600 gp – force scimitar (4 chg blade ward)
400gp – 16 Chain Shirts

Day-by-Day Summaries

Day 1:

4.12: Shortly after leaving, sounds of combat. Sil, Rae and Q snuck up, fireballed, and pulled some silver from their ashes. After the smoke cleared, we heard a train of 20 hobs escorting 10 canine-ish goblins in chains. (They were similar to gobbos found in the druid cave.)
Q remained to watch while the obnoxious characters were retrieved to tromp their way into the hobs path. Amara was volleyed and taken down.
JP called upon his ancestors, who promptly put all the hobs to sleep. We promised the gobbos that we wouldn’t murder them, and finished off any hobs that escaped.
While burying their valuables for future retrieval, a pair of hippogriffs flew in to investigate. We feed them the corpses of our foes, and escort th egoblins home. JP showed off his Jesus powers on the way.

5:11 The night passes w/o incident

Day 2:

Another battle off in the distance. Upon the investigation of team stealth, one of the twelve infighting wargs notices, and the dozen turn to eat us. Eight fled like puppies. The remainder didn’t last long.

5:10: We arrive at the soon-to-be crime scene. We rest in a different cave, and nothing happens.

Day 3:

We avoided the traps the initial expedition triggered, and stuffed out a pair of torches before charging the portcullis. The guards were fireballed, and portcullis raised. We take the (secret) elevator down to the bottom (fifth floor), and emerge to a section of floor covered in magical runes. Beyond it was a console covered in dwarven technical glyphs, but no foes. Moving up to the fourth floor, we found a recently-empty kitchen and several other empty rooms. Following the scent of the gobbos, we came to a door with movement behind it. Quincy and JP kick the door in, leading to a volley of missiles nearly knocking him out. JP again summons his ancestors (“You can’t say I never call, great-grandmama”) who dispatch the goblins.

Moving to another door, a swarm of wargs pounce Quincy, knocking him out. After a shatter, the wargs and their goblin handlers were slain. We sneak past a bunch of things (including a dumb Mountain Troll pretending to a rock). Rae Fireballed a group of miners for fun.

We continued to explore, killed some crying goblins (sorry not sorry), and set fire to ourselves in a room filled with oil.

We eventually came across a barricade with sound behind it. We readied for combat, and archers poked out and shot at us. Amara and Quincy kicked down the barrier, and melee begun. Quincy blasted a group with his chain, Sil pounced. More spells were cast, damage taken by both sides. Spirit guardians MVP, and we managed to survive.

A few goblins escaped in our after battle rest, but we tracked them down and recovered their goods.

Day 4:

Slept in our new cave, and began to return home. Pulled wagons back with our fancy loot. Managed to stealth past most foes, including a rather dumb Mountain Troll. Rae also fireballed a group of Miners and goblins for fun. We managed to retrieve our buried loot as well.

Day 5:

More travel. Nothing of note.
View
Expedition 30 - Two Fey Reigned in Syrix
City mapped, Knight confirmed, Bank Vault moves to town.

Proceeds:

-812 XP
-296 GP (+ Portion of Vault if cracked)
-Elven Chain shirt: 200 xp, 400 gp. 15gp for leggings.
-Saucy love letters from Great Historical Figure (300 gp)
-4 books:

  1. 100 GP: Complete copy of famous treatise, half lost before now theory
  2. 80 GP: Partially finished history of Syrix in Elven.
  3. 10 GP: Book of children’s rhymes.
  4. 10 GP: Series of famous poems.

Changes:

-Chara leveled to 2. Her Wisdom increased by 1 after drinking from the Satyr’s Chalice outside the Temple of the Hunter (see below).
-Ent leveled to 2.
-I, Lucens Princeps, became the Sworn Knight of Grandmoth – the Drya – Granny. I became the Knight of Granny. Also (colloquially) referred to as a Knight of the Green. It comes with an enchanted bow and a great deal of worry but may be a way to help mitigate my…situation.

Companions:

-Ms. Blackfingers: Stalwart Paladin of Valkor. Looks like a schoolgirl. Hits like a battering ram. Blunt.
-Ms. Chara: Fellow Seeker after Power (from Beyond, in her case). Charming. Duplicitous. Literally gets inside your head.
-Mr. Cooperson: Sorceror, former Hound of Herne. Quietly watchful. His prey tends to short lifespans.
-Mr. Ent: Very confident young Ranger. Strangely antagonistic towards trees and fond of nets.
-Myself (Lucens Princeps): Attempting to make good things from my bad decisions. Time will tell.

Log

Day 1

We set out on an early summer’s day. Those who had met the Arch-Fey Grandm – Her Esteemed – The Lady of – GRANNY – consulted the Lunar Calendar we’ve informally adopted to attend to this very important topic and declared that with an early crescent moon in the sky she was not liable to murder us all and make us into tree mulch. It is the little touches that mark a gracious hostess. We were also asked to ‘ware of the Hag Rovagga, as well as the apparently bottomless Sleeping Pool that was found – and then so awfully overshadowed – by the Mantis encounter.

After my approved furlough was processed and my cell cleared, I enjoyed the relatively inexperienced Chara and Ent’s attempts to seem un-fazed by the bustle and havoc of the Guildhall. Mystical dweomers going off, strange smells from the Applied Alchemy department to which Valerian is contributing between periodic re-inventions of their written aesthetic, the surprisingly carrying contralto of Fior issuing daily duty rosters over six arguments and a tearful confession.

As we left with our pass for the Wall, the harried but ever-welcome Memorial Fund personnel loaded us and the bewildered neophytes down with potions. As always, we were glad of their presence later.

Outside, Mr. du Vayrir de la Grande Contumace Saint-Emilion was waiting eagerly to gift us with the blessings of the Tree. After discreetly ascertaining whether any of us were soon to be married or to come of age in our cultural traditions – apparently that can be a useful source of power(?) – he extended Aid to all the party, making us significantly doughtier personages for a few hours (+ 10 HP). With a familiar bow of mutual Divine Servant respect, he offered Ms. Blackfingers a longer-term enchantment of her weapons or armor; she elected to enhance the Vampire’s Greatsword she has borrowed until Mr. du Vayrir de la Grande Contumace Saint-Emilion is able to better use it. As he bowed and retreated from the scene, I reflected again on how comparatively slight he is minus the approximately 75 pounds of hardened steel he cocoons himself in. Perhaps some metaphor there. He waved us goodbye. Good lad.

After this we set out from the Wall. As we progressed, the sun began to beat down. Those whose blood is not used to rather more balmy and lava-strewn environs appeared to be in some distress. Only how near we were to the water avoided the risk of heat exhaustion (it seems).

Under these conditions we walked through forest, veering Westward around the haunts of
Rovagga the Cruel, with whom we’d had bad dealings before. The delicately shimmering light woods of the Enchanted Forest were all around us – but in this case with a certain focus. A…shimmering. Perpetually just out of view. Never quite there when one tries to see it.

As we kept travelling northwards towards Syrix, we crossed a bridge we’d previously repaired and headed west. Mr. Ent cut down a tree branch with a single perfect swipe to make a one-man parasol for his pack to hold over his head. He did not offer to extend the favour to the others. He will learn the value of companionship and mutual debts of amity. Or he will not. In either eventuality he will learn about himself. Maybe he will even like what he learns.

Mr. Cooperson tried his best but failed to see the shimmering, as did Ms. Chara. (16 / 13 Perception). Mr. Ent tried to fire his longbow completely blindly at it, before he ‘saw’ it and lost track of the phenomenon, but missed terribly badly (4 w. Disadvantage) and lodged an arrow in a helpless and unoffending tree.

Myself, I was completely unable to see it, but I did my best to assuage any animus it might have felt to us after Mr. Ent’s dubiously advisable attack. (CHA 19). We move on and, whether I helped or not, there were no attacks or further encounters with the shimmering entity(?).

Cresting a hill, we see Syrix in the distance, approximately 4 miles away. The great palaces and towers of stone are mostly fallen to ruin, trees and vines new sentinels among the relics of our fallen Empire. The South Central district of Syrix is dominated by the Dragonkin Fortress – I shall not dignify them with the – AHEM – ‘C.P.’ appellation prior and less couth log-keepers have leveled upon them. Knowing that a new, less feral group of Dragonkin has reoccupied the fort, and not being quite as…larcenously reckless as some of our companions in the Guild, we took a pass on risking our lives and went elsewhere.

Specifically, some of the trees to the East of the city clearly had constructions in them – buildings up in the boughs. Behind them, just visible, was the verdant behemoth that is home to the Arch-F – GRANNY. I concede defeat; you can make me write it that way too. I will not try to be ‘stuffy’ about it. Granny. _ Granny_. (Apologies. See below.) The constructions were some 4 miles away. Mr. Ent, who made some show of calling himself ‘the Keen-Eyed’ could see little in the way of details.

Marching ahead, Mr. Ent was a veritable ghost in his shrub-based camouflages (23 Stealth) but not quite as focused as one might like (15 Perception.) He did have the excellent idea to set 6 bells on a shared rope as an emergency signal – an alarm to signify his imminent peril and summon aid.

As we walked into Syrix from its south-east, Mr. Cooperson quietly asked us to help him look for “Good Armor Wood.” Hardwood, apparently – ideally magical, or otherwise able to found wooden armor so that the less…iron-friendly members of our troupe might guard themselves against perils most dire. All we seemed to see, however, were the substantial construction in the trees. These are far older than the other trees glimpsed in Syrix, evident survivors of its heyday, now overgrowing its ruins. Tall, broad, with full houses nestled in their canopy, clearly weathered 300-year-old survivors of the Corruption. Some still have ladders, by some minor miracle. This helps one climb the ~15 – 30 feet up to their doors.

Mr. Cooperson found one such ladder (14 Carpentry), and his keen eye found a delicately lacquered exquisitely preserved example indeed! The house atop it was similarly lovely, if decayed – the central pillar of the tree around which the room curved had swollen and cracked the fine tiling. Rotting throw blankets of great craftspersonship littered the room. The wall was adorned with lacquered paintings flanking a balcony overlooking the district. The Elves among us confirmed that this had been an Elven Quarter of Syrix by assessing the architecture and contents of the house. The rest of us established, more pragmatically, that this house had been thoroughly scavenged of any valuables.

In trying to reach another house, we found that the wooden suspension bridges on which we might have once relied to stay up above street level and go house to house have collapsed. A regrettable but not especially surprising circumstance.

This lead to a wider strategic discussion in which the party determined to survey the city first, avoid the Fort, and find points of interest to return to more systematically on later days of the Expedition. We also determined that we would likely sleep in this house, with the rope ladder pulled up, to be safe from any threats below – all while descending the ladder back down to the streets below.

At the mention of threats, some alien echo of distorted coincidence had Ms. Chara (Perception 24) cocking her head, and seconds later she heard faint howling headed in our direction: at first only from one side, then from the others, all approaching faster when we thought they should be if mere wolves.

Mr. Cooperson, with a bit of my assistance, found a ladder up (Investigation 14). All made it up without incident save, I am ashamed to say, for myself (6 Athletics, 2 Dexterity). I slipped and fell as I ascended the rope ladder, and could not even catch the hand of Mr. Ent to save myself. I took rather a knock (8 damage) from falling before Ms. Blackfingers pulled me up with a rope tied around me like I was weightless.

Soon a ring of ~1 dozen Shimmering Wolves – 1 immense, pony-sized – were circling around the base of the tree in snarling chorus. Prior expeditions reminded us that these beings, when not incapacitated by Silanya’s greatest bard, can blur and can trigger a magical energy backlash, like a flash of lightning, when hit by an attack. (I luckily recalled that detail with some interest from past logs (Arcana 22). I was, however, unsure as to how non-melee attacks worked for the lightning backlash effect.)

Ms. Blackfingers decided to cut this knotty theoretical problem with the sword – or, rather, the javelin. On throwing one, she impaled a smaller Shimmer Wolf and killed it (7 damage), but could not dodge the jet of lightning that lanced out at her from the wound (revolting…) and she took just as much damage.

Seeing this, we hid inside the house and peek out through cracks. Agitated, the Shimmering Pack began to run in circles about the tree. A sudden howl from one of the little fellows chilled Ms. Blackfingers to the bone, but she shook off any unusual effects (CHA 21). One might fervently have wished for Mr. Dareshin, and his mystical music that turned these creatures to humble canines on their last appearance before our Guild.

Nervously taking stock of our options, we assess that the nearest tree is 20’ and that escape is thus a dubious possibility. We also consider whether Ms. Chara might use her Awakened Mind to communicate with wolves. Does a Wolf have a language? Does a Shimmer Wolf? Such is usually a question for the academic but we found it of singular and practical importance on this day. Ms. Blackfingers suddenly felt overcome by a second spectral howl from a little Wolf (CHA 10) and was obviously blasted by some mental effect – wincing in pain (11 psychic) and clambering away from the noise, farther up the tree, in what she asked me very earnestly to describe as “tactical upward advance” should Mr. Valkor inquire after her motivations.

Seeing this display, Mr. Ent boldly tied a rope to himself, the other end to a handaxe, and slammed it into the tree as an anchor. Unfortunately for him, the hit was less of a ‘slam’ than a ‘tap’ (STR 7) and it only went in 1/4-inch or so, but he looked very manly doing so, I shan’t deny. In the background, Ms. Blackfingers Layed Hands on herself and discreetly climbed back down.

Mr. Cooperson announced to no-one in particular that he was “Going to kill that thing” – the large Shimmer Wolf. He seemed more…antagonistically ferocious thereafter. I cannot fault his wherewithal, as Mr. Cooperson then launched a devastating volley against the Wolf, Magic Missiles punching through its side (13 damage) – causing a significant backlash (6 damage) to Mr. Cooperson. Seeing the effectiveness of Force, and hearing Ms. Blackfingers speculate that rapid attacks might prevent the creatures building up another charge of retaliatory lightning, I laid my Hex upon it and fired an Eldritch Blast that significantly injured it (6 force, 5 necrotic) but also caused it to Blur into near-invisibility. No return volley of lightning, however, occurred.

At the sudden Blurriness of our adversary, and at its exposed limits of vengeful reaction, Ms. Chara grinned a little and began to – eyes half-unfocused – whisper something under her breath. Though I heard nothing, I was left deeply uncomfortable by the shapes her mouth was making and cannot exactly say why. The creature suddenly stopped – looked horrified (14 psychic damage) – and dropped stone dead to the ground from Dissonant Whispers. Ms. Chara’s eyes stayed partially in focus – later, she confided that she used her Awakened Mind to advise another beast to “FEAR ME”. I heartily approve of her continued use of snarling threats to avoid a pointless slaughter.

Either this strange and cruel death, or perhaps this eerie psychic communication was close to the final straw. Mr. Ent assessed the mood of the beasts (Insight 18) and opined that they were almost ready to scatter. We made a great deal of noise with various clashes of metal and Thaumaturgical shouts and the Shimmer Wolf pack headed for the proverbial hills.

Made cautious by this encounter, I laid a Silent Image over the ground below us of the same terrain with no-one in it – a mirage of uninteresting nothing that was to be a common and profitable tactic as we progressed through our mission. Descending the ladder while Ms. Chara stood watch up top, I assisted (16 Arcana) as Mr. Ent (11 Survival) found some useful parts on the beasts for harvesting – 5 GP worth on a little javelin-ed Wolf and 20 GP worth on the larger Wolf.

Recalling that the eyes of the Shimmer Wolf contain magic, Ms. Blackfingers ate those of the little Wolf (1 of either Blur or Hellish Rebuke for 1 hr.) while Mr. Cooperson ate those of the larger (1 of Blur or Hellish Rebuke for 1 day). Mr. Ent considered eating offal from the larger Shimmer Wolf but was dissuaded by those of us less inclined to watch him die of poisoning or otherwise do himself injury.

To recover our resources, we took a short nap in our ‘tree fort’ as the troops somewhat childishly called the Elven residence we’d just searched. Their youthful vigour is on the whole a refreshing change, and who is to say when audacity might not accomplish what caution might fear to attempt?

We walk north towards…Granny…and the Green Cathedral where Her manifestation centers. The city stayed overgrown as we advanced, but by somewhat over halfway up the Eastern edge of Syrix, the city changed in its composition; the large trees were no longer covered in tree houses outside of the Elven Quarter we had just left. The buildings were, accordingly, of stone, and thus far more damaged by the surrounding growth than were the more organic constructions of the South. Some were all but collapsed, others almost bursting at the seams with internal plant growth. Moss coated the stones, staining these marble skeletons of the great beasts of Imperial bureaucracy. The plants seemed to be old – trees likely present twice as long as Corruption has ruled these lands. The Tree of Granny loomed over all around it, a verdant sentinel. (Quite literally.)

The partially collapsed buildings would necessitate great labours on our part to search – digging, hacking at vines. Toil. We eschewed such for now and, not wishing to disturb Granny, described a semi-circle around Her Demesnes.

North of that area, we found an immense garden – the stone outlines of planting beds, statues in water features (recognizable likenesses of the grandees of the former Syrix historical establishment), vines choking the contours of once elegant arcades.

Mr. Ent and myself located a single intact structure near the middle, notable amongst the general devastation. A semi-circle of stone pillars loomed 15’ in front of the elegantly carved entrance to a low building, ornately carved leaf-green door in the middle. Huge trees surrounded its elegant portico. The door among them opened easily enough to reveal stairs heading down. Mr. Cooperson sent Dancing Lights into a hallway crowded with roots and broken stonework, but no structural infirmities visible to our cursory inspection.

Ms. Blackfingers led us downstairs. This structure appeared to be a tomb – fronted by a statue, half-collapsed from encroaching root systems. A door was set into the far wall. Near us, a wood panel was lacquered with fine paintings of a figure in green leaves, blanketing her slender form from shoulders to knees. Ms. Blackfingers looked closer, and saw that the figure was armed, an ornate bow over her shoulder, a handaxe by her side, and a fine sword on one hip; Ms. Blackfingers’ knowledge of Religion (14) was insufficient to identifying who the figure was. My own assessment found that the painting was not likely magical (Arcana 3). It was not difficult for Mr. Ent to ascertain (WIS 22) that the figure was clad as a classical Ranger, and that what appeared to be a garment of leaves was likely interwoven ornate scale mail.

I found nothing (Investigation 4) on the altar, and Ms. Blackfingers sensed no evil with Divine Sense through the next door. As such, we decided to explore farther: I made an illusion of a terrifying and impenetrable door at the entrance we’d come in through (to dissuade any skulking locals from attacking us while we are trapped underground and force us to kill or be killed) and we opened the door farther in.

At the end of the long room we revealed was a stone slab, a bier, on which appeared the preserved corpse of a woman clad near identically to she in the lacquered panel. A fine bow rested under her, a sword at her side. The devout Ms. Blackfingers went to kneel and pray to this fallen, but obviously venerated warrior of the Old Times. Little came of her meditation (INT 4).

Elsewhere in the long room, plinths held 8 wooden statuettes, finely carved and of great historical significance (300 GP). One statuette showed a young woman, unarmored, kneeling in supplication; opposite her was a paired statuette of a beckoning Dryad half out of a tree.A third statuette, at the other end of the long room, depicted the woman in her full regalia, standing tall; another Dryad statuette beckoned to her from across the room. (Had we only paid closer attention…) In between these two matched sets were statuettes of a satyr, a pixie, a Fey hound, and a more humanoid-shaped faerie with a long spear.

When we took these statues, a repeated detail on the plinths below them caught our eye – a carving of a massive tree with spreading leaves, from which a beckoning hand extends towards the viewer. Much like that on the lacquered panel outside this longer room.

We had Mr. Ent search for traps (investigate 15) and when he reported none, began to remove the armaments from the armoured woman, to be met with the very serious objections of Ms. Blackfingers – who legitimately questioned the morality of taking the relics of the Honoured Departed. Mr. Cooperson thought about this point and then calmly continued to take the relics, but as respectfully as possible (17 Dexterity). He slid out the bow with only minor tissue damage to what, it transpired, was a dessicated mummy under an illusory veneer of preservation. The sword came even easier, although without Detect Magic none of us could properly assess their likely value. Burdened, Mr. Cooperson handed me the sword and bow. (A fateful, if understandably absent-minded, decision as it turned out. He could not have known.)

As a final note, Mr. Cooperson further searched the corpse under the illusion (Investigate 20) and found a huge, perfectly preserved ash tree leaf, green after centuries.

As we left with the treasures of the tomb, that ash leaf motif was quite startlingly prevalent about the room. Looking more closely at the lacquered painting of the lady – whom I now know to have been a Knight of the Green – there is a faint traced outline of a spreading tree and an outstretched hand from its trunk in the background of the image. The same design adorned each plinth in the room. When Mr. Cooperson placed his leaf atop the altar, a faint breeze stirred and the tree drew into sharper relief. A particular…soon to be familiar…face appeared in the Tree. Mr. Ent’s excitement led him to place many other mundane leaves upon the altar. Nothing happened, but we applauded his experimental fervour.

We left the tomb and headed out. Once we cleared the door, the wind from placing the leaf upon the altar stirred past us, intensified, and one of the truly Huge trees next to the doorway – caressed by that wind – began to creak and twist and move. It lumbered, suddenly alive and bellicose, towards us.

The first to react was Ms. Chara – she quite sensibly took one look at the behemoth bearing down and sprinted past us and around the building. As the tree-beast continued to approach, it became clear that I was the target of its outrage – it struck me a terrible blow (12 bludgeoning damage) with an outflung limb. Mr. Ent saw this devastating hit, worked out that his handaxe and his net were out of their depths here, and ran for cover himself. I cannot blame him.

Mr. Cooperson, Ms. Chara, and Mr. Ent all felt a fog creep over their minds – only Mr. Ent resisted the confusion that resulted from this mental attack (WIS 10, 10, 21). At the same time, a woman stepped out of the tree – lissome, lovely, green. A dryad. (Not THE Dryad.) She demanded the return of the bow and sword.

I – in an effort to bring valuable goods back to the Guild – advanced the position that as a believer in Nature, that great Cycle of life and death, I was surprised that she was so fixated on preserving the relics of the Dead when we could use them to help the Living and to make something great. New growth from old decay. (I never imagined that I would personally use a longbow; what happened next was…kismet, perhaps. Or karma. One of the aasimar traditions.)

The Dryad thought over my proposal and grabbed me to take me for ‘decision on your idea’. I was frog-armed along, the tree-beast behind me prodding me quite ferociously when I flagged; the party was whipped or seized with vines if they tried to slow or take another path. I suggested that any punishment be visited on me only (the stupid blood stirred, grinned sleepily at the thought of torment) but the dryad simply smiled absently. It was by this point quite clear that we were headed for Granny’s Demesnes.

Walking up to a tree, the dryad whispered a brief message. Instantly another elemental Fae tree spirit stepped out of a nearby tree – a glorious Sun to the pale candle that had brought us here. Elegant as a courtier, wild as a storm; knotted vines for hair, and a spectral gleam of sunlight all about her person. A body of vegetal growth and smooth bark, inhuman but lovely proportions. A cruel twist to the mouth, then an erotic one, then a gentle smile – all within seconds, none clearly the dominant mood. Incredibly beautiful.

She spoke.

“Newcomers who have returned – taking my gifts without my boon. Holding my blessing without my consent. Why do you act so rudely in my City?”

At this I, blushing, stumbling, made my speech again – to be cut off when barely begun. “No. No no, Lucens. You may have them but you may have them as my Knight. Will you accept?”

Ms. Blackfingers tried to step in and intervene – “He is new, Grandmother Dryad, and he knows not -” “Ah, Melora…no no no. I’ll do as I please with him and we both know that, so please don’t be dreary about what ‘duty’ or ‘fairness’ I owe you, hmm?” She turned back to me.

I asked to speak in private. Alone. She brought us to the heart of the Cathedral. Words were said. My armor flared with leaves in pattern, twisted into grass green armored surcoat. The sword flew to my side and met my hands like an old friend. The bow took my Eldritch Blast and launched it like a rocket – the more aesthetically beautiful the pose, the less it mattered what little skill (none at all, to be perfectly frank) I possessed at archery – every shot hit. As I searched for the wellspring of my magic, both Fey and Fiendish boons clamoured for entry. I will have my choice now of the offerings of two Rulers.

Pactum est.

In my new finery, Granny – as she absolutely INSISTED I call Her from now on despite all my efforts at politesse, largely to amuse Herself at my discomfort – brought me back to the fold and gave me a first mission. The skinchangers of the coast had learned of Her, and somehow removed themselves from Her mental sway. They were multiplying. She told me, as Her Knight, to slay them in Her name.

Ms. Blackfingers began to broach the issue of how we might go underwater, and what boons might be offered for what price. “Ahhh…Lucens, as you are now you should know better than to ask the price before the gift. Not how I work. Say hello to the others for me. I await your service, my Knight of the Green…” and she faded into the nearest tree.

As we walk off, of a sudden we were very far away without having covered any of the intervening ground.

We decided to not dwell on my…singular encounter, and to make use of our last ours of Aid from Mr. du Vayrir de la Grande Contumace Saint-Emilion. We went to the north middle of the city. Westwards, tall buildings rose to the sky, many 4 or 5 stories. One drew our attention – the remnants of powerful Wards sparking out the remnants of their breached protective spells. These seemed, however, more decayed than assaulted. It was not a Wizard’s Tower as was Toba’s, but did seem garrisoned to offer a significant defence to those inside – a guard post writ large.

Entering, we saw barred cells inside the one central room – one with magical tracings around it. We theorized, without Ms. Leshannadöttir and her ilk along to better test the hypothesis, that this was part of a prison built to hold magic users. Otherwise, we found a blank stone box in the middle of the room. Nearby were stairs both up to a second floor and down to a basement.

Ms. Blackfingers tried to move the box, but even with her truly impressive abilities it remained affixed in place. Mr. Ent investigated (15) and found it to be hollow and able to open under some external stimulus. Ms. Blackfingers Detected Evil and found voids – thick stone, thin lead, who can say – in certain boxes. This one and two others below.

Mr. Ent was enthusiastic about heading downstairs to see what other boxes were here – we followed him into a basement that appeared to be some kind of vault or repository. Stone and metal boxes lined the walls, all with keyholes, almost all open without signs of forcible breach. The two closed Voids were a Stone box and a clearly lead-lined box. We searched the room (highest Investigation 15) and determined that barring very securely hidden secrets, there was nothing else here.

Lacking the Knock spell or the recklessness to risk damaging possibly magical lockboxes, we resolved to leave these for a future expedition with better preparations made for burglary and wandered upstairs. The 2nd floor of the Tower was in terrible shape. The floor crumbled, the stairs to the 4th floor were basically impossible to navigate. We did find what appeared to be a Wizard’s guard post – secured mage equipment, a lock-slot for a spellbook, even two Arcane Foci (2 * 25 GP) which we took for our pains.

Eventually mounting to the 3rd floor staircase, we saw a huge expanse of crumbling collapse. After Ms. Chara and myself used Mage Hand to lift grappling hooks to the upper level and offer support for the doguhty Ms. Blackfingers, she managed with some effort (Athletics 16 to physically carry Chara hand over hand up the ropes) to lift her to the next level.

We found ourself, at last, on the 3rd floor, in the ruins of a command centre with a flight of stairs heading up. Scrap paper scrawled all over with the same frenzied authorization from someone with (significant military) authority – “Release of Stored Artifacts for Immediate Use”. Around these frustrating half-clues, moldering scrolls and discarded weapons. Looking through a near-by filing cabinet for more (Investigation 8) I only crush papers whose magical protection is up.

We continued to ascend to the 4th floor, finding a large room, elaborately carved all over its floor, with one last flight of stairs to the roof. The floor carvings were complex, but we located detailed runes for use in combined rituals of 2-3 Wizards. The Power that might offer is…considerable. Regrettably we did not have the personnel to attempt such a ritual – and besides, all accoutrements of Arcane casting were long gone.

Throughout this tower, we noticed that all of the personal effects and material resources available had been ransacked, thrown together, organized with haste – there had been a matter of great urgency and all hands had been on the proverbial deck.

Coming to the edge of the parapet, Mr. Eagle-Eyed Ent surveyed Syrix from on high (Perception 23 w. Advantage) and noticed the following targets for further exploration:

  • The near-to-downtown industrial area containing the Tower we were in
  • A more built-up and better preserved ‘downtown core’ to the South of the Tower
  • Military Structures – a far more martial-seeming district to the Southern edge of Syrix. Some points of greater buildup include the Fort to the Northwest on the water, which we know is staffed by Fish Men, and the major Fort to the South where Doom Came to the Dragonkin.
  • Flooded Area – A section built out where water is high, partially collapsed into the swell.
    *Granny’s Cathedral – As above.
    *Dragonkin Patrols – 2 clockwise processions of ~6 dragonkin, each searching in patterns around the central hub of the Dragonkin Fortress. Earthbound but irritatingly persistent.

That noted and jotted down, we Investigated the desk (8) but only crumbled papers in our hands. We decided thereafter to let discretion be the better part of valour – to mark the unopened boxes as a Minor Point of Interest and then to return some day with specialized anti-lock measures.

We resolved to sleep again in the Elven Quarter. Making our way back without incident, we found a perfect secure location (Survival 21) and the night was uneventful.

(Meanwhile, in town, Mr. du Vayrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion stayed up the first of several nights in a row (CON 33 w. Inspiration) to keep Ms. Blackfingers’ sword magical.

Day 2

That second morning, we were greeted with the following (self-reported) Sending exchange of 25-word messages between Mr. du Vayrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion in town and Ms. Blackfingers by our side:

  • Message: Hello Melora how are things. Please list who died and how if there were any casualties. Regards, Jean-Pierre du Vayrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion. Sovan says Hello.*
  • Reply: Zero casualties to report. Minor encounter with scary wolves. Driven off safely. Lucens now Chosen Knight of Grandmother Dryad. Found magic boxes. Best to Sovan.
  • Message: Did you tell him about Bertholdt. But. But. But. Wasting words. Boxes sound good. Wolves indeed scary. Sure you did your best. Thanks for helpful report.
  • Reply: Did best to dissuade. Grandmother Dryad obstinate. Boxes best left for specialized team expedition. Melora out.

Mr. du Vayrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion will be a worrier!

We suddenly froze as Mr. Cooperson noticed nearby (Perception 21) the same baying of the Shimmer Wolves as presaged our skirmish with the Pack yesterday. Hidden in our tree we sat inert and no one was the wiser.

We explored the Elven Quarter house to house for the rest of the day. Somewhat gracelessly, but with impressive rapidity, Ms. Blackfingers scaled a high ascent to return with 90 GP worth of books (the first two detailed above.) This was our last major find, among assorted knickknacks, until we came to an ornate house with a VERY well locked door made of wood.

When that door refused to open, Ms. Blackfingers struck it a deadly blow (15 slashing) only for its hinges to repel all force and damage right before they gave. Mr. Ent was similarly hard-pressed to hack through the door with his mighty, mighty hand-axe by himself. So creative, his decision-making process. Eventually the mages joined the fray – Eldritch Blasts and _Firebolt_s succeeded where brute force had failed. The door – at last – buckled and gave way, its residual Abjuration wards too weak to hold off enough an onslaught of cantrips.

Inside the room, we found what appeared to be a family shrine. A small Elven offering altar contained paintings and other pictures – and by one wall lay a very fine short chain shirt, with matching chain leggings. Mr. Cooperson had a great success also – his hard work (Investigation 17) locating a little cache with a short, sealed bone tube inside. The place properly ransacked, we left for pastures new.

Though we kept searching the Elven homes, many of their valuables were already lining the pockets of past raiders. Nothing else found. A less than exciting day; from my perspective, such is a rare flower of a gift and many would let it fall from their hands like unheeding children. The others seemed dispirited from their less…expansive perspective on the perils of excitement.

We got about half of the Quarter thoroughly searched and resolved to retire, the rest ready for tomorrow.

After a determinedly dull evening, we slept atop the Elven Quarter (no encounters) and had unusual but untroubled dreams of endless seas of Green. (I did, at least.)

Back in town, Mr. du Vayrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion kept up the magic sword’s enchantment yet longer. (CON 25 w. Inspiration).

Day 3

We opened the day with a light, filling breakfast and then four more hours of treehouses. Liberal use of Silent Image kept our progress undetected. Ms. Blackfingers insisted on being first up a rope and last to leave a bolthole – vanguard or rearguard as the case may be, her very overt dedication to Mr. Valkor’s principles is quite a thing to behold at great, great length for several days on end. on ground floors.

Regardless of our precautions, we were eventually attacked. Such is the Silanyan way. Heading down a rope ladder, Mr. Ent plunged to the ground as the line was slashed above his hands by an unseen adversary. Mr. Ent and Ms. Chara were left on the ground. The remainder of the Expedition was caught, uselessly, up in the tree.

For a brief moment both Ms. Chara and Mr. Ent reportedly felt dozy – unusually for those of Elven blood – but shrugged off what we must assume was Sleep. I must confess that I saw nothing at all (Perception 1) but made a vague and general threat to the empty air – “Ah hah. We are so strong. Very strong. Please run away we are so scared of losing control and crushing you like a bug. Ah aha hah.” (…I have indeed done better. Honesty remains the best policy throughout narration of life’s little peccadilloes.)

Deprived of any chance to spot our true tormentor, I readied an action to attack the next hostile entity that I caught sight of, and did not wait long – Mr. Ent was assailed by an insect infestation boiling from the ground, that seemed collectively unfazed by my rapid Eldritch Arrow (8 Force). Mr. Ent, keeping his own head, managed to evade damage from the living wall of tearing mandibles that poured over him.

Swinging down from on high with a rope (Athletics 15), the rather dashing Ms. Blackfingers readied a casting of Burning Hands from her enchanted greatsword for the moment that Mr. Ent got safely clear of the insect swarm.

Mr. Cooperson was not especially perceptive in his next assault, seeing a falling leaf as a possible Pixie disguise and blasting it to cinders with a Firebolt. Meanwhile, Ms. Chara uttered more Dissonant Whispers and the real Pixie dropped dead of a massive cerebral haemorrhage right by the cut line. This cued Mr. Ent to climb up out of insect range, whereupon the waiting Ms. Blackfingers unleashed her stored-up Burning Hands and immolated all surving insects (22 Fire).

Those on ground saw a panther exiting the scene in haste – another Pixie in disguise, or an accomplice, we knew not. Mr. Ent was having a very off day with his shooting (2 / 4 w. Disadvantage due to tree cover) and his longbow shot wide. We gave up on the fleeing piglet and kept exploring the Elven Quarter to completion.

Hours passed; we collected Elven knickknacks and found no books or items of interest. (35 GP total value scavenged.)

Then, suddenly, a fortunate passage of events: one house, on the ground amidst the roots, had a secret basement through a hidden door. Down below, a tunnel ran 90’ before arcing back up to another house accessed through a trapdoor in the ceiling. Tunnel between two houses. Distinctive to these two houses. 16 – Int Marc – cache in wall – pull out pouch, containing cheap looking ring (15gp) and small number of moldering letters.

Walking up to mage tower to scan the patrols – very sneaky dragonkin ducks around corner. Still knew when seen despite 19/26. Back up. Yelling in draconic other side of place. Silent image to cover retreat, it knows AGAIN, ent sees it, snaps off shot – hits, 5 damage.
15 around corner – hear shriek.

Luke goes around corner, it didn’t run, attacks me – 19 perception, see it no ambush. 10 init for Ent, 14 for Ms. Blackfingers, 4 for me. I do 12 (6) burning hands and 4 necrotic. It climbs up 1st – Ms. Blackfingers swings, sword knocked out of hand (1 then 2). Jumps up. Eldritch blast just misses. Yelling in Draconic all time. Magic missile for 16, shot for 7, Ms. Blackfingers climbs up. Another magic missile Hits w. 8, fucks up leg. Chara can’t get up.

It tries to hide, yelling draconic – others run t/w it. Mel can’t see it, drops down. Eldritch blast to skull, DED. Reverts to true form. Blue stretchy guy.

5 dragonkin. Set up on rooftops, Ms. Blackfingers to parlay. One is hexed. Ms. Blackfingers ½ way. Earthing to greatsword. CP what doing – Mel fighting fishfolk that spoke your language – there. 2, doesn’t work. Chara projects same message into mind. Who is this how happening?

She says I AM YOUR GOD. It believes her. Confused. I summon angel image. Chara yells in their heads as it appears. Idiots run.

Take whole corpse to Granny. (45gp of stuff – brian liver.)
30 minutes to G – whisper into tree. Trade granny anti-skinchanger parts thru Dryad. Dryad comes back with gold leaf worth 55. Still XP for skinchanger.

Keep going up north. Saw giant boars and bears nested in downtown core. Angel flies above us. Nothing fucks with us. Barracks. Closed metal lockers. Ms. Blackfingers can pry rusty one. Rusty one pries off. Could damage interior – 2 braces of daggers. Really wellmade throwing daggers. Bit tarnished, but usable. Not standard. Specialized for something. Appraise them later. 17 eldritch blast other one. 2 longbows on wall. One perfectly preserved, other worth 15. 19 arcana open, empty.

5gp accumulation from bunch of rando shit. Not as much personal stuff here. CPs get most of it. Sleep in tree houses.

Day 4

Wake up – rain (magical turns out). Head to chalice – green glow. Find church. Chara glows. Swallow. Green glow instasntly fades. Chara gets + 1 wis. Decide to head back to treehouse.

Read a book: 1 is a series of famous poems – copies to mainland (10 gp) for not first edition.

2nd is partially finished history of Syrix in Elven (50 GP).
-Known as the Verdant city. One of the older in the Empire. One of first places to join Silanya – former city-state. Human, elven, oriented heavily towards rangers, druids, students of nature – part because area naturally respondent to Feywild. Easy to engage with Faeries. Patron spirits – twins – grey hunter and grandmother dryad. Def. grey hunters in chalice chapel. Herne might be grey hunter. Other patron of this city. Makes sense now that think about it – chalice is familiar. Share a roll. Diff. aspects of same concept. Grey Hunter does stuff Herne does – he’s been called that – but people dismiss Herne being called Grey Hunt.
Marc remembers overwrote childhood – pretty well. Herne replaced Grey Hunter. Fae – was a role? Doing what used to.

Little more on Grey Hunter – most of time in Faerie, Granny both here, both had presence both Planes.

Other than that, stuff about elven lineages. Could trace them. Not that clear. Some hearsay, some lack of clarity.

Last section Wonders Of: Descriptions: Two Churches, Fort, Underground Uunderwater Area Near Ports. Sure would have seen rest if still there. Near fishfolk.

Eventually muddy, peters out.

Detect Magic. Chain Shirt magic, Bone tube not magic.

No nighttime encounters.

Day 5

Beautiful day. Go to military. 4 hours.

Perception – 19. Dragonkin. Ent and Ms. Blackfingers see it, bluff past it (8 + 13). Ms. Blackfingers goes up w Greatsword out – we get in position. Readied action, Mel goes around corner. 5 more back behind cover .

Ms. Blackfingers grounds. They hold fire. “Who are you what is that ?” 15 cha – Mel “That is our guardian spirit – we just explore. Killed skinchanger other day. Talked to patrol.” “That fake – birds fly through”. Gesture to cut it. “We killed changer.” “Youy dud.” “Yes.” “Why here?” “Look for things our people value.” “We value thin books. Trade weapons for them. Have any?” “Might have some yes.” “If you come maybe we trade.” Ms. Blackfingers Insights re if know sword – one giving it the side eye. Trying to take back to Fort.

“Still search in city – if want to trade – meet to West of Granny’s bubble.” “If find, go there.” “We there high sun tmrw.” “Ok.” They move on. “But – don’t come to our territory.” “We’ll leave.” Get thru half.

Ms. Blackfingers stashes the sword, I switch to stealth mode. Go downtown. Denser with buildings, quite scavenged. 15 Cha for Stealth Mode (Inspiration – pissed about Angels.)

Prioritizing high valiue targets this time. Mantis around. See soaring over us, 3 mantises. Slightly more careful. One building near cutoff. Little hill. Nice path. Up on hill. Slow walk forward. Chara 22 – get ½ way to house – spot in camo colours on top of house – pair of mantises. Leaning on roof. Mark as MPOI. Fuck off.

No other great targets. Net exploration is 24gp of crap and 2 books. End of day. Go back to end of day.

17 = Encounter.
-Ent + Mel
-Mark + Cha
-Ent + Luke
During last watch. I natch – see small winged figure. Flicker in and out. On cabinet in house. I shout, I shoot it for 16 with hex + blast. Relentless fixes it up. It flickers to invisibility, fucks off.

Day 6

Go thru district. Silent Image protection again.

Perception 19 – 3 rats behaving strangely. Trundle through area. Stop. Look around. Scurried around come from other angle. Peering in. 0 bluff from Ent – Chara mindtocuhes burly one. Gets hunger response. Wanting response. First that – then – you can hear me – who are you – how did you do this. Thoughts fairly sentient.

Shift to rats. Ent pulls out shield + net, one steps forward swings – blocks bite, claws at him for 7.I do 18, 20 w hex to two – one fucks off. Marc magic missiles for 10, one fucks off. Ms. Blackfingers pulls magic greatsword, Chara touches mind “WE TOO HUNGER FOR FLESH”, it fucks off.

Ms. Blackfingers misses (12) greatswords. Find stash of 300gp of all random silver collected. Get other 7gp of search.

Go to dragonkin. Wait 2 hrs, didn’t show. Maybe no books?

Flooded area. Shored up and built out over shallow water. Fell into disrepair. Walk on dry land, much is sucking marsh. Brighton pier 200 years post apocalypse. Elven sign saying bank. Inside see 3 eely fishfolk torn to pieces. Cuts all over. 2 lying together, one some distance away. One quite old, others relatively fresh. Clean cuts. No adcid or bludgeons.

We head in. Front room – gated windows. Doorway in behind leading back further in. Side door to roon.

Check side door – meeting office. Door to where other went. 17 investigate – no signs of another creature in this place. No footprints, no scrapes, no blood. Divine sense gets nothing.

Open door and go in – prep b hands – back half sinking into water. Up to ankles. Floor ssags. Splash – not higher than calf. Trudge – office where bank employees work. Doors to other offices. Clearly locked door. Pried off hinges at back. Carefully advance.
Pried door open. Poke head around. Vault. # of safe deposit boxes – used paper currency. Most destroyed by water. Coins, safe deposit boxes, lockers. Mel – 15 Perception. Ornamental armor. One moved. Step back – mirror – no longer moving. Pull back.

It hears our plan to attack
Intruder protocol to use leathal force
Mind touch – “Trying to get back for the living” ‘Need authorization to move’
‘Who authorizes’ ‘Names’
‘Maybe we can move it close to town – find authorization’.
Chara 22 persuasion – very well if can assist in moving vault will reestablish, defend until authorized from list of people.

Ms. Blackfingers takes second backup empty backpack.
Meanwhile 17 Investigate (me) gets 35 GP of random coins. Most ransacked. Most recent fish pair had most.
Medium sized. 800 lbs wants – everything. If she’s encumbered. Can carry almost all of it.
Plan to hack it. X02. Carrying massive floor. All way home, X02 -= WARNING PASSERS BY THIS IS A MOBILE BANK VAULT. Have to stay 5’ next to each other.
Briefly see stooped elderly looking woman. “Fuck this”, she heads off.

Otherwise, our trip home was unveventful – especially with Mr. X-02 in store. We received some accolades for luring – inviting – him back behind the wall. (0.25*CR 4).

Once behind the wall, it became clear to us that the Vault – on closer inspection – remained largely ruined by exposure and time, but the remnants were still exceedingly valuable (750 GP) and contained a magical item in a lockbox worth a great deal (200 XP, 400 GP sale price(?)).

I returned myself to custody and settled in for uncomfortable dreams of green boughs smothering out the light from a field of endless flame. To control has been all, thus far. Now servitude – to BE controlled – shall perhaps augment the mix. Ni Diable, Ni Maitre. I shall do what I can to make that statement resonate in my heart of hearts as well as it trips off the tongue.

End of log. Thank you for reading. Should you have any further questions, you know vey well where to find me.

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Expedition 29 - CaGaztrophe

May 20, 2017

Maps:

[level 1]
[level 2]
[level 3]

Experience:

284 each

Gold:

+200 GP Corporate Historical Value Paintings
+60 GP Goblin Nice Armor
+15 GP Shipping Records
= 275 GP / 5 = 55 GP each.
All donate to Leshanna Fund. Thus:

Amara +46 GP
Linna +50 GP
Lucens + 46 GP
Melora +46 GP

Leshanna Fund:
+45 GP
-5 Potions (250 GP)

Net: -205 GP

Log Proper: Excepts from the Journal of Gazardiel Smith

Adventurers: Amara, Lucens, Linna, Gazardiel Smith, Melora

Donating to the Memorial Fund: Gaz, Lucens, Linna, Melora

We all have three healing potions this time, just in case.

We had planned to go the Dark Forest, but were steered away – apparently some unusual activity had been noted in the area and Fior was reluctant to send out a relatively inexperienced party (even under Amara!) to deal with it. Instead, we were asked to look into a mysterious Cave of Traps in the Grey Hills.

We set out on a beautiful day toward the cave of darkness. There are a few clouds in the sky, but nothing major. All in all, an auspicious opening So full of promise!

Our party set off from the wall toward the previously visited cave, hereafter referred to as the Salice Cave. It is some distance to the Salice, and we expected it to take no less than 2 days to arrive. We planned to stop at wolf hall to rest this evening. Our route takes us East, toward the river, which we then planned to follow to Wolf Hall, and then continue on the next day to the cave.

We made it all the way to Wolf Hall without any incident. It’s the most encounter-free trip Gaz has yet been part of! One of the party members I’m less familiar with, Lucens, had been given candied bacon by JP to present to the Wolves as a gift, which he did. That was sweet of him.

Wolf Hall itself was as beautiful as the last time we saw it. Abjuration magic was clearly keeping it in excellent repair. We go inside and lay our stuff down.

I only found this out later, but Lucens walked over to a trap door he found in the ground. Apparently he calleds Melora over to check, and she used her divine sense to see if there was anything emanating from the trap door. When she got no reading, Lucens tried to open it from a distance. From around and under the door, vines and tendrils lashed out at the disturbance – unable to reach him.

“It seems as though we have come across a quandary. We are explorers, and this is a place of relative safety – but there is something dangerous here none-the-less" he mused. The rest of the party, perhaps buoyed by his odd charm, decided to back his eventual plan to see what was under the vine barrier. I do like when we get along!

As such, the party prepared to try to clear the vines and open the door. Lucens erected a Bonfire, a cube of fire around the door, and the vines took to thrashing as they began to smoulder, steam hissing from their pores.

Amara threw Firebolt after Firebolt at the shifting vines, which were now clearly trying to save themselves. These vines continued to lash out, but could not reach their attackers – until three primary vines managed to move themselves toward us slightly, out of the _Bonfire_’s area.. They were clearly trying to ‘crawl’ their way to our intrepid band!

Despite the vines’ slow progression, Linna and I both managed to miss our attacks. Lucens erected yet another Bonfire on top of the vines, to which they again thrashed and tried to move faster. Tendrils lashed outward from the three primary vines, and tried to strike Lucens. They missed their mark, and Lucens responds with his now-Burning Hands. He projects a wave of fire to encompass all of the vines.

Luna nocked another longbow arrow and fired before fully taking aim. The arrow flew wild, and she accidentally knocked into Lucens – sending him off-balance.

I managed to throw a well-placed Firebolt at the primaries, finally hitting them.

The vines once again lashed out at Lucens (who at this point is the foremost member of the party), and again, failed to hurt him.

I threw another Bolt of flames, hitting true. Amara used her Burning Hands and increased the level of steam rising off of the vines.

Linna missed AGAIN at range, but, finally close enough to engage, pulled out her broadsword and made a mighty sweep at the vines – her sword digging deep into one of the primaries.
However, the vines, now close enough to engage themselves, lashed out at Melora and grip on her limbs, hurting her badly.

I kept my head down best I could, just throwing Magic Missiles into the vines for now; ripping into them with my bare hands when (sadly) relevant as a skill.

Amara used her Burning Hands again, this time critically wounding the two remaining large vines. Their tougher ‘bark’ was now peeling off and carbonizing as the incredibly hot flames tear them apart. I’ll confess – I began to feel pretty darn bad for tHEM at this point.

Linna, managing to get behind the vines, launched an arrow low along the ground, striking deep into the bulk of the creature.

Melora, injured, took another swing at the creatures but missed as they moved out of the way – more quickly than I had thought possible by how injured they appeared.

Lucens finished his movements and unleashed an Eldritch Blast, surrounding the creatures in a field of necrotic energy. As the shifting tendrils wilted, new ones took their place. The ceaseless, remorseless shedding and re-growing was sickening to watch.

The other vine, thrashing against a deeply embedded arrow, lashed out in its bulk to strike Amara, smashing her against the ground. Malora, now standing behind Amara, is also hit by the tendrils of that large vine.

Amara – not yet defeated – took an arrow out of her quiver and stabbed back at the creature. Melora was not so lucky however, and fell to the ground. [Temporarily takes 3pnts of Dex damage, and also gets pretty shaken up and her persuasion proficiency is lost temporarily].
Gaz tries to use a new spell he discovered after the last expedition (Chaos bolt) but cant seem to envoke the spell. Linna runs up to Melora, falls to her knees, and slides toward Melora. She takes out one of her healing potion and attempts to feed it to Melora – and she wakes up quickly, and moves back to disengage.
Lucians runs up to Amara and also tries to force-feed her a healing potion, but is now quite close to the larger vine.
The vines, now clearly injured, throw themselves at Amara, knocking her prone with a crushing blow. [Amara is temporary injured, and for the rest of the expedition can not use her proficiency in The other vine whips at Lucians, who is crushed against a wall. [Takes a temporary injury to Int -1].
The vine then throws itself back at Luna crushing her into the opposing wall – and dropping her as well. [Injury temporary: scarring, disadvantage].
Finally, and quite suddenly, the vines close the door with a slam. Melora and Gaz both lay their hands on their companions and get them to their feet.
The party regroups, regretting the intemperate nature of the pursuit. We quickly decide, that we are not letting this go. We’re moving to 60 feet away, and we’re going to attempt to open the door again, and take shots from 60 feet away at the creature. Gaz thinks this is a bad idea – but it doesn’t matter because the spell fizzles and the door stays closed.
Regardless, Lucians continues throwing magic at the door. Soon it becomes apparent that the abjuration field permiating this structure is deflecting his bolts.
However, Amara attempts to Shatter the door. Finally, it begins to crack. Gaz throws a firebolt at it, splitting the damaged door down the middle. We can now see through, and the injured vines are clearly putting their all into holding the tattered door in place.
Amara throws several bolts of magic missile through the small opening in the door and into the meat of the vines. Lucians casts another eldritch blash beyond the door, and we see the vines lash in response.
Lucians keeps throwing bolts of force at the door, ripping it to shreds. Lucians then uses his magic to open the tattered door. We can see in the room now – and the vines are holding the trap door in the floor closed. They look seriously injured, and we think that we finally have them on the ropes.
All vines in the room seem to be intent in putting their final effort to cover the trap door.
Amara throws a bolt of fire at the vines, and after a moment – they stop moving. Not-trusting this, Lucians moves a few steps closer and summoned a bonfire. Within a few minutes, the vines finally smolder and turn to ash.
We decide it would be best to sleep in the branches of the stone tree, and investigate further in the morning.
Lucians uses a mage hand to lift a grappling hook up and over a vine. We all climb up safely – except Luna – who slid down the rope enough times to develop really bad rope-burn. Melora puts Lina on her back, and proceeds to climb the rope. Once all on a large and flat stone branch, the party healed up, and we decide to find another place to sleep – in concern that something might be angry w
Luna, already exhausted from her failed climb, slipped off the rope and fell to the ground – knocking her out once again [She no-longer has her gymnastics are gone short-term]. Gaz uses one of his potions to raise her back up.
Gaz takes first watch (as the only person un-injured in the fight).
Nothing bad happens in the night (that we know of). Gaz spends the night considering what they did the past day and realizes that it is entirely possible that they were in the wrong. The vines may have been guarding something or protecting something and we would have had no way to know.


As soon as Gaz wakes up, he casts mage armour on himself. It’s another nice day – with a clear blue sky.
We go back to Wolf Hall and back down into the hallway we left so broken the day before. The hall is in pieces. Stones have shattered along both walls – there’s blood across most surfaces.
Standing 60 feet away, Lucians uses his magic to open the door from a distance – making sure there is no warding magic. When nothing happens, Malora moves up to the door – takes a defensive position with her shield, and opens the door. We all look down a moment later – and we see a set of stairs.
Descending carefully – with Malora out front, we head down the stairs and come quickly to a beautiful ornate door with carved vines all over it. Luna checked for traps, and she apparently doesn’t know if there are or aren’t traps there. After performing a ritual to detect magic, we find that the door has stronger abjuration magic. We open the door manually, and reveal a long hallway – all detailed with the same elaborate carvings – and with more beautiful doors all along its length. Realizing that this is most likely a large dungeon. Making a large note of it – we decide to get back on the road and head to the cave.
About halfway there, we come across was was clearly a campside a short time before. The site has been ripped apart. There are tatters of food strewn about. We investigate a little, and Amara determines that this was a Hobgoblin camp-site that had been left earlier today. However, we also clearly see that the fruit pits strewn about were in fact from the Aberration Grove – the death fruit.
Gaz makes the immediate connection between this and the Abjurring Hob-Goblin that we encountered during Expedition 26. We decide it’s in our best interest to stealth away – but Amara and Luna very VERY strongly want to pursue and kill the Hobgoblins. Luna really feels like it would be a good idea, but is willing to go with the party. Amara on the other hand NEEDS to do this.
“Why is this so important now? It’s too dangerous – I’ve fought one of those things and we had to use pretty strong magic to take it down.” Gaz asked.
“It’s, it’s extremely important that we kill them right now. If they’re eating the fruit then it’s possible that they haven’t transformed yet. If we can get to them quickly, we might be able to take them out before they transform!”
“Actually – that makes a lot of sense.” Gaz replies after some consideration. “Agreed.” Said Melora.
Without any further protest, Amara begins tracking them immediately. Apparently there are definitely more than six of these creatures.
“Do you think we’re actually capable of winning a fight against these things?” Melora asks.
“Yes. Um. Yes.” Amara responds only half-aware.
Melora tilts her head to the side for a moment. “Amara.” (She thought she was acting strange)
Amara turns, just as Melora slaps her hard across the face.
Amara suddenly shakes and her eyes widen. “We… we can not take these guys.”
“Then why are you saying we should
“You seemed very shift, and I’ve had a strange couple of days.”
Amara explains.
“Ah – I have heard that several of those beings weaker in the ways of the light have been corrupted by more powerful minds. It will be alright my friend.” As Melora lays a hand on Amara.
“What
Says Amara, affronted. “Then what about Luna? She’s clearly a good person.”
“yes.” Melora replies, “Perhaps she is just an idiot. Where I come from, Rogues can climb trees.”
-——————————-

We finally arrive at the cave. Without entering, Luna pokes at a spot on the ground. When it doesn’t yield, Lucians steps on that same spot and falls through the ground. Melora, standing ready grabbed at Lucians by the scruff of his shirt – saving him from the fall.
Lucians, while still heft in the air: “Rogue, to the front please.”
Luna rolled her eyes, and moved forward. Clearly, an actual stone had fallen out from the ground as a trap. She begins to look for similar stones in order to avoid another fall.
“Wait- “ Gaz said. “We have a rope – let’s tie one end around Luna and the other around Melora in case there’s another fall.”
“Excellent idea my dear boy.” Replies Lucians after a considered pause.
“Great!” says Gaz. Then, considering, he pulls out a medium sized rock (one of his Wyld magic enchanted ones) and hands it to Lucians. “This is for you – throw it at anything bad.”
Lucians looks concerned at the rock. “…thanks?”
Once tied, Luna moves forward slowly and checks the stone next to that which fell. The floor immediately gives way, and Luna falls only a few feet before Melora pulls at the rope to stop her from hitting the spikes in the trap below.
Luna steps a little to the side once back on her feet – and pushes down on the ground ahead of her. The entire ground gives way – and we are faced with a five foot gap to cross. Melora immediately starts running for the gap and jumps in an attempt to clear it. Fortunately, Luna had JUST finished untying herself when this happened, the last bits of rope ripped out of her hands. Melora herself untied the rope from her just before she left the ground.
Melora few through the air like a cannonball, but moments before landing on the other side she sees a trip-wire on the very edge of the gap. Melora pulls up her legs at the last moment, and lands just beyond it.

“There’s a trip-wire!” she calld back.
Gaz replied “Check to see what it triggers! Maybe we can deactivate it!”
Melora sidles very slowly along the tripwire’s path, and notices the the tripwire goes into the wall, and the device is beyond her sight.
“Rogue, is there anything you might be able to do with your trip wire?”
Luna takes a running start, and attempts to cross the gap. Luna just makes the gap and passes over the trip wire safely. Having made it to the other side, she pulls out her Theif’s Tools. Very carefully, she managed to maintain the tension on the wire while she tied off its two ends. Safely opening the way on the other side of the gap. (Gaz is going to pull up the 20 feet of trip-wire once he gets to the other side).
Gaz notices that the stone doors that opened had hinges on either side of the gap. “If we pull the hinges, we should be able to bring down the stone panels and use them as a bridge!”
Luna immediately reaches down and pulls the pins out of hinge – and the door immediately slides and covers almost all the spikes. Without issue Gaz and Amara step down and cross the gap.
We’re faced with a long wide corridor, about 90 feet in length. At that point it angles off at a 45 degree angle to the right.
Gaz picks up a rock and throws it down the length of the cave, nearly hitting the far wall. The stone makes a clattering sound – but nothing otherwise happens. Melora hands Luna the 10 foot poll for extra trap-sensing.
Melora cast light on her own glove to help the party memebers without dark vision, or the ability to see in the dark.
We begin to carefully proceed down the edge of the long hallway. Gaz fixes his glasses and moves in near the back of the party.
Along the way – Melora spots another trip-wire, just 5 feet ahead of us.
Luna takes out her thieves tools, and somehow managed to deactivate one end of the tripwire immediately – and as Melora held it taught moved to the other side. However, halfway across the gap, Luna steps on a pressure plate and a weight of rocks fall from the ceiling – injuring Melora but completely flooring Luna. She falls to the ground under the weight of the stones. [Takes short-term Con damage 3 Con Damage].
Gaz, using the same path that Luna used to avoid setting off any more traps, pulled the stones off of her and grabs her by a shoulder – immediately bringing her back to consciousness. Luna walked slowly over to Melora – still holding the wire – gets healed fully by healing hands. Luna then quickly walks to the other side and both cuts and ties off that side of the trip-wire.
We make a point of studying the pressure plate so that it will be easier to avoid others going forward. Gaz takes another 10 feet of trip-wire.
A few minutes later, Melora notices several slits in the wall. Stopping immediately, she says quietly: “Arrows, spinning blades, scythes, wait a moment. Seeing no triggers on the ground, “Idiot rogue, use the poll and see if there are any triggers ahead. The slits are there – “ she points “and there” she points to the opposite wall. There are three slits on each side.
Lucians uses mage hand to take the poll and slap all over the ground with enough force to hopefully find if there is a tripwire or pressure plat that will set off this potential trap.
Within 10 feet – there appears to be nothing.
Amara uses a ritual component to perform a detect magic ritual. However, there appears to be no magic in the area… at all. Except for our party – there is nothing much.
Melora carefully slides along the wall, and jams a javelin head into the gap. She hears a metal-against-metal scrape. Moving quickly, Melora and Luna move up and past the first group of slits. Making it past the furthest slits without issue, they notice pressure plates on the ground ten feet ahead. The entire party jumps over the 4-foot plates. Before moving on, Gaz takes out a flower crown given to him several weeks prior – now dried – and places it on the ground just ahead of the plates.
“This way, if we are leaving in a hurry, we know when to jump!” Gaz states happily as the party moves forward.
The party moves slowly to the edge of the bend, and looks around the side. They see nothing within the 60 feet they can see. We continue down the hallway slowly. Eventually and in the distance we see a portcullis blocking the corridor.
“The only other constructed and trapped environment we have encountered like this was in a goblin cave. Based on the previous expedition logs, which I’ve studied because I’m diligent, it is entirely possible that we are in a Goblin staging cave. Additionally, look.” She pointed to the walls of the cave.
There was blood on the walls, and the clear indication of a recent battle. The blood is still wet, and there are sword marks on the walls.
As we approach the portcullis, we notice a damaged winch on our side. On the far side, we see a functional winch, and several large pieces of wood tilted as though they were defensive barriers.
Amara puts a hand up to shush the party, and listens. “I hear something back there…” She could swear that she sees it just at the edge of her dark-vision.
Gaz moved up toward the broken winch to figure out whether it can be salvaged.
A moment later, he is struck hard by three arrows that fly through the portcullis. He drops immediately and begins bleeding out. (I MADE THIS SAVE ON THE DOT. GAZ ALMOST JUST DIED. FUUUUU)
BUT. Somehow (I got a natch on the drop table), Gaz (maybe an angelic vision) is suddenly at 1 hit point and his dark vision PERMANENTLY increases in range by 5 feet. FUCK YEAH!
Melora runs forward toward Gaz, but Gaz croaks “Goblins… a little further…” and Melora immediately drops prone.
Six more Goblins fire their arrows. Two arrows strike Lucians and injure him slightly.
Three more Goblins take another shot at Gaz, seeing that he isn’t down. One draws back his arrow too far, and slices his own throat – killing himself instantly – but the other two fire true and strike the still-prone Gaz.
Gaz has died. The angle didn’t come back.
-—————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Lucens immediately creates a bonfire right over-top of the barricade and beyond. The rest of the party was waiting for this chance to have the Goblins lit-up to begin their attack.
Amara casts a massively powerful shatter over the Goblins, killing several of them immediately. She also gets 2 temporary HP when Gaz dies.
The Goblins move back a bit, blinded by the sudden light. They fire quite randomly into the darkness ahead of them. Miraculously, one arrow slices Amara’s side.
Luna fires a longbow bolt through the portcullis, but misses the Goblins. Melora attempts to pull the chain on the portcullis manually. She manages to lift the portcullis up about a quarter of the way.
Amara casts a firebolt, but splashes across one of the wooden barricades.
Lucens crawls forward a little further, and pushes the bonfire further back onto the Goblins. Only one Goblin remains. The final Goblin turns to run, and as it does Luna takes a final shot with her longbow. The arrow flies fast through the air, screaming as it went, and stuck the Goblin in the spine, ending its pitiful life.
The party is sad, Gaz is dead.
“Let us pick him up and put him against the wall, hidden behind the barrier to conceal him.”
The party quickly puts together a barrier and puts Gaz’s body against the wall. Melora says a few words and puts coins on his eyes.
Melora then moves to the winch and manually opens the portcullis.
Luna quickly reaches out under the portcullis and pushes hard on the floor just beyond. It immediately gives out as a trap door swings open. The gap is about 4 feet across. Before trying to clear it, she checks for a tripwire on the other side of the gap.
Luna nimbly leaps over the 4-foot gap to the other side without issue. The rest of the party follows suite.
The party continued down the corridor, until they came upon an absolutely MASSIVE spiral staircase. Melora notices something is… off… about the wall to the right of the staircase. She pokes it with a stick, and nothing happens.
Part of the wall is not exactly the same color as the rest of the wall. The area is about 30 feet wide. Flush to the ceiling and ground.
Looking at the floor, there are clearly scrape marks along the floor. Melora moves up to the wall and finds a small panel that can clearly be pushed in. Pushing it, the wall moves forward in an incredible and absolute silence. It’s amazing to watch. It reveals a 30 foot square room. There is a 20 foot set of stone doors on the left wall. It doesn’t look Goblin, and so Amara uses her components to prepare a detect-magic ritual. The rock of the door itself is magic, and the light that is coming through the door clearly seems like transmutation magic.
Lucians realizes that on the door is written ELEVATOR in dwarven. The door actually opens quite easily when Melora tries to open it. The whole inside of the elevator shaft is a whole lot of transmutation magic.
Amara pick up one of the Goblin swords, casts light on it, and drops it into the shaft. It falls a long way down a little slower than it clearly should have (at least 3 floors). Lucians finds a call-button – which actually requires a small and simple ritual to call. Wary, Amara prepares to cast shatter just in case something appears – but a moment later, the sword itself that was dropped moments before floated up past the party’s view – followed immediately by an enormous stone platform.
According to the ritual script, there are five floors that the elevator can accesss, and this is floor one (the highest floor).
The party debates which floor to go to: floor two, or floor five. Finally deciding upon going down only one floor. The party floats down softly, and the doors, when reached, open to a simple five-foot opening and then a flat wall.
This is, once again, a secret door. Once, opened it reveals a massive room. The entire area is incredibly ornate. High ceilings, two decommissioned fountains, statues of dolphins, this is incredibly fancy. The floor is a beautiful checkerboard tile. Right in the middle of the room is the same spiral-staircase – which stops at the floor.
There are no goblins to be seen. Looking around, the party sees several doors out of this room. On the same wall as the elevator, there is a set of large stone doors. There are several different types of openings and doors around the room. One of these sets of doors is slightly ajar, and there is a clearly recent barrier hastily constructed across it. It also looks like there was a ladder build into the elevator area – possibly built as an emergency access path.
The party takes a stab at a random room. They don’t hear anything, and upon checking for traps they find none. They manage to unlock the door using thieve’s tools. Finding no traps in the room itself. Melora finds a secret door across the room. Lucens uses his magic to open the door – revealing a staircase going down. The other door opens up into a long corridor that goes to the side of the elevator.
Along the corridor are a great number of very old posh paintings of Dwarves. By liberating the artwork and rolling it up, as well as copying the original Dwarvish text beneath each painting, the party has acquired 200gp worth of paintings.
Then party then goes back and moves stealthily down the secret staircase.
The party comes upon another room on their way down, presumably on floor three (beneath the room they were previously in). Forward through another door they find yet another make-shift barrier, clearly made recently. Not wanting to move into the barrier directly, they listen to the only other door in the room. They clearly hear that there may in fact be someone in there, so they all prepare their defenses.
Luna opens the door and immediately jumps out of the way. Two Goblins are in the room, and clearly within sight. The Goblins however haven’t yet heard or seen the party. Melora, taking the advantage, charges into the room and swings her broadsword at one of the goblins, cleaving it down the middle. Lucens follows up on the same Goblin with a firebolt.
Amara throws an additional fireball into the bulk of the remaining Goblin, knocking it off its feet and crippling his ribcage. A moment later it hit the ground, the air pulled out of it by fire.
Also – the party has thus far acquired 60gp worth of pretty nice armor from all Goblins kills as of now.
In the room there is a large carved stone desk. Someone has clearly ransacked this room before. This is also clearly a corporate office.
Amara moves to listen to the next door. After hearing nothing, they open the door, they find yet another office. Two more doors in this room, one leading to what might be the other side of the barrier encountered before.
Melora hears nothing beyond the door, and they immediately open it. It leads past the barricade. Further East is another barricade. Between the two there are three sets of doors. There is a very large chain and lever.
Without a second thought, Luna pulls the leaver. Immediately a large number of arrows fly across the room, striking the opposite wall. Useful to know in case we’re followed in future.
Moving toward another one of the possible offices, they party hears sounds possibly coming from inside. Carefully, the party opens the door. There are several doors in this room. There are four Goblins in the room and they also heard the party so this time we didn’t get the jump on them.
Lucians casts Burning Hands and manages to hit three of the Goblins. One goblin drops under the intense flames, but the others are merely singed.

Amara throws an incredible spell, slaying the remaining Gobs.
Open a new door, enter a new corridor.
Beyond the second barrier there is a truly gigantic set of doors approximately 50 feet across.
The party backtracks to check one of the earlier doors they missed, and there was nothing interesting in there in particular.
Again, another door, another room. One Goblin in this one. However the Goblin, seeing the party coming in, darts through another door and shuts it behind him. Lucians moves toward the door and readies a spell. Luna comes up to open the door – but can’t seem to push it open. Melora then comes up and attempts to kick the door open. The door burst back, and squishes the Goblin. New room! One door.
They find some old shipping manifests worth appx 15gp. They stash them in their bags.
Open the southmost door in the room. It opens back up to the corridor they were in before.
Listen to the door, hear no sound. Open the door. Another office. Just the one Gob. Killed it almost instantly.
Suddenly, from the large doors across the hall – five Gobs on Wargs burst out. They focus their rush on Amara, trying to take her down. However, as soon as she is hit, a dark flame spreads out across the offending Wargs. Amara goes down and her carrying capacity is permanently decreased by 10lbs.
Luna goes down under the onslaught, and takes a temporary 4 pts of Wisdom damage.
Lucians is going to trying to burning-hands as many Wargs as possible. He can hit 3 Wargs and 3 Gobs, and hexed a Warg first.
Melora used cure wounds on Amara, and then stood immediately over Amara’s body in an effort to defend her from any further attack. Two of the Goblins died in his previous attack.
The Gobs and Wargs turn to focus their attacks on Melora, and manage to bring her down. Melora takes 2 points of Con damage short term.
The Gobs continue attacking, refocusing their efforts on Lucians.
Luna doesn’t manage to achieve consciousness.
Amara, from the ground, turns and attempts to shatter all of the Wargs and remaining Goblins. Three of the Goblins die instantly, and the Wargs look significantly worse for wear. Amara also gets three points of temp HP from the Goblin deaths.
Lucians uses one of his potions on Melora. She stands up, drawing her broadsword and throws a baseball slash at the nearest Warg – interposing herself between the Wargs and her injured party members. The remaining Goblins are running away, down the ladder.
Amara further pushes the magical bounds of her shatter on the Wargs. With several audible snaps their bodies twist and contort – several bones in each clearly snapping – yielding to the power of the Shatter.
Lucians casts a Bonfire on the Wargs, igniting their hair and filling the room with a foul stench.

The horribly maimed beasts limp/run away as quickly as possible. One of them falls to the ground dead as its bones all give out under the magical pressure. Amara gains another point of temp HP.

The entire party stabilizes, and Amara runs after the Wargs to see if she can still see them and try to finish them off. Amara gives chase, through the door. She makes a fair effort but the beasts make it to a fork – stairs up and stairs down – and we lose track of their passage.

The party decides, perhaps a mite too late, to cut their losses and take the elevator back up to the first floor. The elevator is not here right now, but the elevator is clearly above the party. The elevator is called, and the party takes it back up to the first floor. The party quickly retreats, grabs Gaz’s body, and heads out from the cave. They hop over the flower-crown trap without issue, and approach the slits. After inching past them like before, they make it safely out of the cave.

“We did it with only 20% casualties!” is our grim joke at our own hubris.

The party heads directly toward home, since they’re carrying a corpse. They manage to get an hours rest somewhere along the way – to make sure that they can handle anything else that comes up on the way home. No encounters while resting.

While on the way home, they hear a noise over a hill. Linna stealths up the hill to check it out, after chugging a potion. She comes back and reports that it’s not worth looking into.

Head to Wolf Hall, rest up there for the night. The next day they continue on their way home.
About half-way back from wolf hall, the party hears something behind them. Looking back they see a very large wolf running toward them in the distance, trailed by a number of smaller wolves.

The big wolf looks like it could be a Winter Wolf, which would be magical. As the Wolf approaches, the air gets colder and the party can see their breath. Lucens casts a Hex on it as soon as he can. Moments later, the entire party feels a pressure on their minds – but Amara’s Shatter goes off at the same instant.

Amara, however, wants to fight the Winter Wolf in single-combat. Apparently by the arcane rules of such duels, our prior actions had not disqualified us from such a challenge. She casts -False Life on herself at Second Level. Then steps forward to challenge the Winter Wolf on her own. The following wolves are now seen to be Dire Wolves. Dear god this could be tough.
Amara quickly announces to the party that Winter Wolves have rules, and if you declare yourself a challenger then the other wolves will not get involved. The rest of the party should just wait and hang back. Melora casts heroism on Amara, and Amara prepares for combat with the Wolf.
The Wolf, patiently, strides up to Amara and bows to her, before stepping back to a distance.
Suddenly, Amara casts mirror image and there are four of her – all of which bow to the Wolf. The Wolf rushes on of the Amara’s and tears it down – but it promptly disappears – a duplicate!

Amara casts burning hands, doing an impressive amount of damage to the wolf. The Wolf, confused by the surrounding attackers moves to attack, but hesitates. Amara casts another burning hands, hurting the wolf further.

The Wolf, sensing the urgency of its situation, rushes another Amara, but yet again, it fizzles out as a duplicate.

Amara casts another burning hands, yet again hurting the wolf – but this time the Wolf responds carefully and bites Amara, hurting her – but in return a dark fire spring out from the wound and engulfs the Wolf. The Wolf looses its bearings for a second, and then breathes cold at Amara. The freezing blast surrounds Amara, freezing her solid – but then the duplicate shatters and the Wolf looks around confused and worried.

From behind, Amara throws a firebolt at the wolf, collapsing in a brief but bright flame.

The Direwolves all look at Amara, and bow together. As one they all howl, and then just as quickly turn around and leave. As new Pack Alpha, Amara now permanently gets the ability to knock people prone with her cantrips if they succeed (a la wolf-pounces).

The cold lifts, and the party takes a brief rest to let Amara recover her strength.

The party continues and makes it home, bringing the body of Gaz to the mortuary.

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Expedition 28a - Experiment Island

May 13, 2017

Characters:
Bennu (monk 1), Beau (ranger 2), Syathir (fighter 1), Hank (paladin 1), Guy (barbarian 1), Marc (log-keeper, sorcerer 2)

Map:
[link]

Notes Found:
[link]

Character changes:
Bennu – permanent injury: -2 Con, -3 Cha, unable to speak

Profits:
LMFfAG: -326 gp
Expedition members: 74 gp + donation to the LMFfAG

Experience:
161 xp each (this includes up to date character page bonus)

Points of Interest:
POI – mountain w gate and mechanical guards and black structure
MPOI – amphitheatre w whirlwind and magic stones
MPOI – plant village

Log:
We set off from the Wall. Bennu travelled ahead to scout, and spotted several worgs over the lip of a shallow depression. These worgs had scars with tendrils growing out of them. There were too many to fight, so we decided to back off, but they spotted us. When the worgs began to move forward past the lip of the depression, they cocked their heads like they’d just heard something and retreated back to their previous spots. We hurried away.

Later in our travels, we heard a loud thunderclap sound and saw an extremely large force compressing the clouds in the sky. It abated quickly. We moved on.

We reached the lake and paddled across in our canoes. The coast of the island was too rocky and steep to land canoes, so we travelled some ways around the island. We found an inlet on the south side. On the shore, two birds sat on a rock. We didn’t like the way they were staring at us, so Syathir and I shot the birds with an arrow and a firebolt. The first bird fell silently into the water, and the second bird bird caught fire and melted into a puddle of oily liquid that dripped into the water and pooled on the surface. We tried to avoid paddling through the remains of the bird, but both canoes were stained with it by the time we pulled up to shore. We scraped off the affected areas. The stained wood shavings shrank and warped.

Near where we brought in the canoes, we found another boat. It was a very old and weathered rowboat. It no longer looked seaworthy, but Beau thought it might have been expensive when it was new. At the back gunnel the letters VH were carved in an ornate font.

Guy found a place to hide the canoes a bit away from the shore. We did so. Bennu headed off north, towards a small structure on top of a hill at the center of the island. We followed. Our attempts at stealth were poor, and we soon attracted attention. We heard a percussive beat coming from our left. It tapped out a pattern. Answering beats came from in front of us. Beau spotted a small entity through the trees. It was made of plant matter and was mostly shapeless, with a slit mouth and holes instead of eyes. It was holding a sling.

Hank tried to scare it away. I tried to help by shooting fire in the air. It did not like this, and immediately shot me with its sling. More of the creatures appeared behind us and to our left and also fired at me. We fought them, but they resisted piercing damage, and every time they dropped they got back up. Burning them negated their regenerative capabilities. One of the creatures ran away, and Bennu chased it but failed to catch it.

Further north, we found a clearing with an amphitheatre. In the center was a stationary whirlwind with several spherical rocks whirling around inside of it. The rocks were about a handspan across. The floor was littered with bones.

Bennu established that there were no obvious threats in the area, and we moved closer to investigate the whirlwind. While Syathir cast a ritual to Detect Magic, Guy dug a small hole and discovered that all the layers of dirt were jumbled up and out of order. The magic that Syathir detected was as follows:
- General aura of evocation around the whirlwind
- Strong abjuration around the edge of the amphitheatre
- Four of the orbs within the whirlwind were magical: one each of abjuration, divination, enchantment and evocation

Bennu knocked an orb out of the whirlwind by hitting it with a large stick. Syathir used this technique to retrieve the magic orbs, starting with abjuration. When we picked up the abjuration orb, a dome of energy snapped on over the edge of the amphitheatre, and a box on a plinth slid up from the floor next to the whirlwind. A voice said “charity”.

I put a gold piece in the box. The force flickered but stayed up. Guy put the abjuration orb in the box. The dome of force turned off and a compartment in the plinth opened, revealing several sheets of paper.

Over the next several minutes, we removed each of the magical orbs from the whirlwind.

When we touched the divination orb, the force field turned on again. We swapped the abjuration orb for the divination orb in the box. The force field turned off. We continued to retrieve orbs and put different orbs in the box.

Orbs touched: none → off

Orbs touched: abjuration
Orbs in box: none → on
abjuration → off

Orbs touched: abjuration, divination
Orbs in box: none → on
abjuration → on
divination → off

Orbs touched: abjuration, divination, evocation
Orbs in box: none → on
divination → off
evocation → on

Orbs touched: abjuration, divination, evocation, enchantment
Orbs in box: none → on
evocation → on
divination + evocation → on
abjuration + divination → off
abjuration + divination + evocation → off

I picked up the enchantment orb. The other party members didn’t seem to understand the obvious urgency of getting the orb off the island. I ran with it to the shore of the island. Syathir tossed it far away into the water.

In retrospect it is clear that the orb put everyone who touched it under some kind of compulsion. At the time my actions seemed reasonable. I apologize for succumbing.

Syathir’s magic vision detected that the rock was now sending out strong pulses of magical energy from under the water. We moved on.

We cut down a tree to cross the river. We came to a cleared area around the base of the mountain. There was a tall wall with a small gate. Past the wall, the mountain rose a ways, topped with a flat plateau with a black structure. A path lead through the gate and up the mountain, with several switchbacks, and some kind of structure or small object at each one. Halfway up the path, a ring of yellowish green smoke orbited.

Surrounding the gate in a loose semicircle were about twenty mechanical devices with large bodies and four legs. Some were lying inert or ripped open, and some moved jerkily. After watching them for some time we determined that about half were functional, and some of them seemed to be moving well. Lying among the mechanical quadrupeds were the remains of various creatures, including a chull.

We walked around the mountain, but the wall extended all the way around in good repair, and we did not find another way in. We climbed some trees to fire down on the quadruped devices. After being hit several times, they retreated back beyond the gate and out of sight.

We climbed down and walked through the gate. The quadruped devices were lined up just beyond the gate, and attacked Guy as soon as he stepped through. We fought them. Most of us dropped at some point, taking various temporary injuries. A quadruped tore into Bennu’s throat, permanently damaging his breathing and rendering him unable to speak. [-2 Con, -3 Cha, temporarily doubled, which resulted in Bennu having negative Charisma.] Bennu was nonfunctional for the rest of the expedition – he followed if led, and retaliated if attacked, but was unable to communicate, take initiative or make any decisions.

Our attempt to retreat was complicated by the fact that at least one person was unconscious at most points in the battle. Guy picked up Bennu and carried him out. Syathir ran back into melee to carry Hank out of danger. We made it far enough from the gate that the quadruped devices lost interest in us. We limped back to the amphitheatre and removed the orbs from the box to raise the force field. We rested.

On the second watch, two of the plant things approached the barrier, tapping on it and making tapping signals to each other. I intimidated them with fire and they backed off.

By the next morning, 18 plant things had gathered in a broad semicircle between us and the water. Guy took out his drum and played a pattern at them. One of them stepped out of the trees, looking surprised. Guy repeated the pattern. The plant thing moved up to the edge of the force dome, and kneeled down. It clawed at its arm, severing one of its hands, which it placed in the ground in front of it before settling back and looking very intently at Guy. Guy borrowed a dagger from Beau and sliced some skin off his hand, which he placed on the ground. The plant thing bowed its head deeply and tapped out a pattern, which Guy repeated on his drums. The plant thing sat back and tapped out several patterns in succession.

Syathir offered an interpretation for the drum signals: the first signal meant friend, the second referred to giving or sharing, and the third referred to flame. She said the plant thing was confused because we had good things but also fire.

I tapped out the friend pattern and tried to look nonthreatening. I cut some skin off my hand and placed it on the ground in front of me before tapping “friend” again. The plant things seemed skeptical at first, but tapped out another pattern. Several more plant things emerged from the woods, including three shambling woody creatures being led with a vine.

The leader plant thing picked up its hand and reattached it. Guy asked someone to take the force field down. We did so. Guy offered the plants his drum as a gift, which the leader plant thing accepted. It tapped out several more patterns and pointed to a spot to the south east. We packed up our things and headed in that direction. I took the evocation rock with me.

When we got more than thirty feet from the amphitheatre, the evocation orb produced a blast of lightning. I threw the orb away quickly enough to miss being hit by the worst of it. I healed with a spell from Beau and a potion. We moved on.

Just past the amphitheatre, we spotted a shimmering distortion in the air. It was vaguely rectangular, and about the size of a door.

We travelled through to a series of low walls and a garden. The opening was guarded by heavy mounds of leafy material, which flared up when we passed but allowed us through. Coming from the other side, two plant things carried a large aberration strapped to a pole between them. A third was rubbing it down with something. Nearby stood two huts with four of the plant things outside, making baskets and eating fish.

We approached a huge box covered with levers and buttons. Next to the box was a large cocoon covered in throbbing green veins. Three of the shambling woody creatures were being led on vines around it.

The leader plant thing bowed to the box and began pulling levers and pushing buttons. The box shuddered and a small slot slid open. The leader plant thing retrieved a small satchel from the slot and handed it to Guy. They drummed “friend” back and forth, and we left. As we left, one of the plant things ran up to us and tapped out the same pattern as they used when they pointed us to the village. Our best guess translated this as meaning that we are friends of the village. Notes on the different tapping patterns and their meanings are attached at the end of this log. [Not actually though. Assume that anyone who’s read the log just knows them.]

The satchel contained a flat disc with eight glowing runes carved into the top, as well as several more sheets of notes. Copies of these and their translations are attached at the end of this log. When we Identified the disc in town, it was found to be a voice recording device with eight memos on it recorded in the same voice but each in a different language. Transcriptions and translations of these recordings are attached.

When we returned to the canoes, the water at the mouth of the inlet was churning. A massive tentacled mouth reared up out of the water, clasping the orb. We retrieved the canoes and moved away quickly. We found another spot a good distance away to launch our canoes. We travelled home.

Summary of Notes Found:
Whirlwind box notes:
- methodical scientific notes, mentions they’ve experienced a great amount of difficulty in letting go and obviously Adramelach is going to be a problem for them, but the other stations are showing some promise
- a bunch of meandering observations that don’t make any sense: “Sun then no sun why is there no sun there should be sun”, scrawled in the bottom is a little note: 4→5 hot metal
- observations from various stations (mentions stations 1, 3, and 6), mention of a key and a smaller key, number 7 will probably be based around that key and the key will be used to assess temperance
- physical phenomena, writing is spidery and repetitive, “the window should be closed, the window’s open now, it should be closed, when will they learn temperance, mercy has failed, when will they learn temperance”
- (in deep speech) – lunatic ramblings, it talks a lot about a window, “I am the window I am the window I am the window”

Satchel notes:
- nonsense ramblings, the last page of which is in deep speech again
- scrawled note: 7→1 whistling

Recording Stone notes:
- speaker identifies herself as Elspeth Van Horne, she has found a great key, possibly the biggest key she’s ever found. She thinks the key can actually be adapted into a living space so she’ll be setting up a series of protections
- mentions of stations that contain alternate countermeasures to the defences, the stations are meant to assess the capabilities of the intruders (elvish word for aberrations)
- any intruders that become capable of satisfying the tests involved are ones she’d like to meet and discuss with, but first she’d like to see that they’re not cruel, and see whether they’re able to behave with human impulses
- many just take the wrong orbs and kill themselves in a variety of ways
- always always always Adramelach is where they fail

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Expedition 28 - A Disaster Dodged
Seriously, get more info before extermination missions

May 6, 2017

Adventurers:

Quincy – (fighter 4) – Wolfsbane, indomitable, pleasingly competent, one of two heroes in the guild.
Jean-Pierre du Veyrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion – (cleric 4) – the most indestructible cleric in Silanya, constantly packs eclairs, seems to physically extrude religious pamphlets.
Tabitha Errsule – (sorcerer 3) – phoenix touched, the living flame, good at high fives.
Rock – (barbarian 1/fighter 2) – hero candidate, mama bear, probably has a death wish.
Raevori – (wizard 5, log-writer) – someone who this story isn’t about. Calm your ***s.

Character changes:

JP levels to 5.
Everyone on the expedition was blessed by the Wolf Spirit. We have gained the ability to smell magic. Betcha wish you came on this one, Fin.

Hexes explored:

5.11, 5.10, 4.12

Experience and Loot:

Miner loot (140 gp) – torcs, interesting weapons
Hobgoblin loot (120 gp) – sundry military equipment, slightly melted
Ogre loot (110 gp) – coinage, surprisingly
Scavenged crafting components from the meganothic (600 gp) – several organs for the purposing of collecting magic, probably planar related
Bracer of +2 on the drop table (600 gp) – Rock called dibs
timely log bonus (100 gp) – barely

Raevori, 1219 xp, 260 gp, and a donation to the LMFfAG
Tabby, 1219 xp, 260 gp, and a donation to the LMFfAG
JP, 1219 xp, 312 gp
Quincy, 1219 xp, 312 gp
Rock, 1219 xp, -288 gp, +1 bracer of +2 on drop table rolls
LMFfAG, 106 gp, 5 sp

Summary:

In the name of a pile of deities that I tend not to humor, please be more careful in your expedition approval Fior. I’m assuming JP took your acquiescing to this hare-brained scheme as a sign that we had sufficient information to proceed. We almost wiped out the group that were keeping the aberrations of the Grey Hills in check, and, more to the point, almost slaughtered a non-slaving, non-cannibalistic, almost certainly non-evil group. I will be a bit more pushy about my misgivings next time.

After we avoided a near-catastrophe, we wandered around killing aberrations.

Log:

Day 1
Initial weather conditions: Rainy (consistent with previous 5 days).
Implications: Puddle prevalence, terrain slippery, difficult to traverse. Implications for maneuvering, mudslide ambushes.
Relevance: N/A

We set out, intending to exterminate the lair of ‘weird’ goblins in 5.11 discovered by expedition 18A.

Shortly after leaving the wall, Quincy smelled something rotting. Attempting to scout it, JP and Rock fell in the mud, causing us to reveal our position to a bunch of zombies. We set up a fireball special —> JP and Rock move forward to be idiot magnets, zombies swarm, they get out, fireball goes off. This goes well, eliminating 20 zombies, and a followup shatter knocks out 5 more. The remaining 3 are rapidly dispatched.

Tactical implications: fireball is almost guaranteed to knock out most foes we encounter in force, so the trick is clustering them.
Strategic implications: zombies appearing in the Grey Hills is unusual. Many of these were former Blazing Bannermen. The undead infestation could be ranging further afield.
Philosophical implications: Fireball is awkward [multi-level definition].

While regrouping from the zombie encounter, we get attacked by 12 hobgoblins. They are also summarily dispatched. Fireballing the backline was highly effective to eliminate their archers, and Tabby was able to enhanced burning hands their frontline, using her phoenix form.

We continue, now planning to rest for the night, since many of our spells for the day have been used. On the way there, Quincy invisibly scouts another creature following us, which turns out to be a pile of hands. We avoid it.

General note: the Grey Hills are a threat dense environment. Vigilance and discipline are needed to reach destinations without expending a significant amount of resources on out of context fights.
Specific note: I was against the zombie encounter.

We find an extremely secure place to rest for the night near the target lair.

Day 2

We enter the goblin lair on normal no-survivors encounter policy. A single skirmish at the entrance, and another slightly deeper in the complex, kill 3 wolves and 5 goblins. A third skirmish starts with the goblins yelling “What do you want” in goblin (I was informed later).

The bloodshed is called off. (Mercifully).

We discover that these goblins are dedicated to fighting the aberrations, and they claim that they wouldn’t attack us unprovoked by default. The previous encounter with them, on reflection, was at the entrance of their home, and thus likely ANOTHER tragic misunderstanding.

My rage at our stupidity here is not difficult to spit out, but this is doc for the ‘record’, I’ll hold off. A pair of druidic goblins have a screaming match with the warrior caste, and barely convince them to back off. The situation could have easily returned to bloodshed, but fortunately a round of attacks on JP is a negligible actual threat to the party, and so was shrugged off before the druids could calm the counter-ambush down. We took approximately no damage, and used no spells in the lair.

We offer to kill the toughest aberration they know of, as a sign of our contrition.

Two goblins lead us to the grove of weird trees previously identified in hex 5.10. At the center is a rooted meganothic (tentative name), surrounded by a host of flying lamprey-like aberrations (on the way there, we dispatch 16 normal goblins fighting 3 ogres using a fireball and a few ranged attacks, to demonstrate our power).

A fireball kills all the flying aberrations, and our opening volley of attacks kills the meganothic.

The ground continues to spawn 1-4 small flying lampreys every 6 seconds, but we easily keep them under control as we investigate. We isolate a rip between the planes.

several pages of complex notes and formulae on planar phenomenon, and the Far Realm, including sketches of things Raevori saw through the rift

On my advice, JP was able to use Spiritual Weapon to hammer the rift closed, as force damage crosses planar boundaries. I was able to retrieve quite a bit of valuable crafting components from the meganothic.

We returned to the goblin den, and, while grieving, the goblins were impressed by our feat of arms. They would have lost many more than 5 goblins dealing with the meganothic, as it was accompanied by 15+ flying lampreys and they would have struggled to keep the population of them in check to slay the meganothic as they lack area damage spells.

We are led through the many layers of the goblin lair (neat mushrooms, waterfalls, MANY training rooms — the clan is large, probably 100-200 members) and blessed by the Wolf Spirit (the spirit that visited us at Wolf Hall, that we had previously supposed to be a female presence). We all receive the ability to smell magic.

We are told tomorrow’s aberration challenge is the floating mini-beholder we were aware of in the crumbling hall in 4.12, and leave to spend the night at Wolf Hall.

Jean-Pierre Addendum: On the way out there was an interacting with three of the goblins who very much resented our free passage and wished violence upon us. I offered them the good cleaning hit on my face to get it outs of their system, but they were unable to get past the armours; they subside at this point. Nevertheless it is possibility that some of the survivor goblin are not willing to forgive and to forget, for which I cannot at all blame them. Member of this expedition should return with caution as our overall diplomatic accommodation from Druid Caste is not apparently universally accepting with the wider populaces.

On the way to Wolf Hall, we kill a Hill Giant (noted cannibals). This was the only good clean fight of the expedition, in my mind (partially because it was a humanoid opponent, but mostly because I didn’t have to fireball and so got a chance to mix it up in melee, protected by a blur spell).

Day 3

We dispatch a group of plants on the boundary of the ruined hall without much difficulty (some of them had ranged attacks, specifically the needle tree-like ones).

We then use the previously discovered secret entrance to sneak into the hall. Quincy invisibly scouts ahead, and located the floating mini-beholder in a room with a bunch more plants.

A fireball eliminates the plants.

We fairly quickly dispatch the floating mini-beholder, but it temporarily paralyzes Tabby and uses its magic to temporarily alter my mental state, artificially heightening my adrenaline hormone production. This was, I emphasize, an external forcing function. I was still combat-ready, despite it, though, so suck it.

Searching the complex, we find a magical bracer.

On the way back to the wall, we fireball a group of Miners, and collect some treasure they were carrying.

Overall, we rallied from a nearly catastrophic ****-up.

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Expedition 27 - For Whom the Bell Tolls
Cleared a tomb in the necrozone. Lost Naveed. Gained Sarene.

April 30, 2017

Adventurers:

Wrenn Tana (druid 2) – brawny and quick-witted gnome. Good friend, good druid, important asset and highly valued member of the team who needs to stop being so hard on themselves, really, because honestly she’s amazing, just really amazing, she did all this great stuff and – well, you’ll see in the log. Wrenn is actually the best.
Silverleaf Moonshadow – (druid 4) – a beautiful fierce murder-bear who’s unfortunately all too often stuck in elven form. She’s working on it. Also my sister. Also the best.
Jean-Pierre du Veyrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion – (cleric 4) – the actual cutest dwarf ever to exist. Like, have you seen that butt? Damn. Not that you can tell so much when he’s in armour, but when JP is in armour he becomes a shining, indestructible force of Goodness and hammers, which is plenty hot in its own way, so it all balances out, really.
Naveed of the South Shores – map keeper, (monk 1) – I think he was a lot better than anyone gave him credit for. He was strong and quick and dedicated and brave as all hell, and charming, in his own way, if you could get past his defences. He was a good man and hell of a monk and we were lucky to have known him, even if no one knew him very well. He loved his wife and was dedicated to his training. He wanted to make toys for children, if he ever finished his quest and got to retire. He died bravely. He deserved better.
Kalandria – (sorcerer 1) – a stunningly gifted sorcerer, newly arrived. She wielded magic expertly, and was totally fearless throughout. Amazing.
Amara Invictus – (wizard 4) – the most brilliant wizard on Silanya. Daring, funny, talented as hell. A lot of people don’t seem to like her, and I don’t understand why. Amara is amazing, you guys. How could anyone possibly not see that?
Sovan Dareshin – log writer, (bard 4) – that’s me! Disarmingly handsome, devastatingly good performer, surprisingly bad at fighting with actual weapons.
Sarene of the South Shores – (cleric 2) – See, she … it’s like this … well, she … arg. I’ll explain in the log.

Character changes:

Wrenn levels to 3!
Sovan levels to 5!
Naveed died!
Sarene appeared, and also levels to 2!

Hexes explored:

4.13, 5.12, 6.13

Experience:

642 xp, or 706 xp if sheets are updated on time

Loot:

4 ritual components spent (-20 gp)
bracelet of mastery (400 gp)
grave goods (800 gp)
Gatekeeper’s Bells (1500 gp)
3 ritual components (15 gp)
timely log bonus (100 gp)

Wrenn Tana – 185 gp cash, 214 gp debt from Sarene
Silverleaf – – 185 gp cash, 214 gp debt from Sarene
JP – 185 gp cash, 214 gp debt from Sarene
Kal – 185 gp cash, 214 gp debt from Sarene
Amara – 185 gp cash, 214 gp debt from Sarene
Sovan – – 135 gp cash, 214 gp debt from Sarene, 50 gp donation to LMFfAG
Sarene – 185 gp cash, 1500 gp debt, Gatekeeper’s Bells

Summary:

Mission to investigate and clear out the necro zone on the Eastern Plains. We followed the gradient of necrotic magic to the area where it was most concentrated, and although there was no specific source, we explored a tomb in the most concentrated area. We fought a great many undead of various kinds, including an extremely powerful wraith. We found a set of murals depicting a shining figure with a bandolier of bells – this was the tomb of a gatekeeper, an ancient order of clerics who tended the borders into death. We made some mistakes which resulted in us getting caught in a seriously rough ambush. Naveed died. Sarene manifested. Her god wanted her to be a gatekeeper, so we went further into the tomb and found a set of magic bells. We were ambushed again. We won, but the wraith got away. We found evidence of someone living in the tomb and using blood magic (possibly to control the undead?).

Log:

It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny, when we set off on our expedition. Our mission was to travel East and investigate the necromantic zone on the Eastern Plains, ideally finding and destroying its source to stem the tide of zombies and wraiths and other nastiness that has been accumulating there. JP cast Aid on our squishiest party members, shoring up their strength and resolve through the great and Good power of the Tree. Naveed protested, but was overruled and buffed anyway. Maybe if he’d been a bit more careful, a bit more willing to accept help … but we’ll get to that. It was just so stupid, you know? We look after each other, it’s what we do. It’s how we survive. If I’d spent more time with him, could I have gotten him to see that? Probably not. But we’re not there yet. We’d just set off from the Wall.

So, we travelled through 4.13 and crossed the river at the bridge. On the other side, on a low hill not far from us, we caught sight of a few LUA. It was odd to see them this far west, but odder still was the fact that some of them were bound at the wrists, and they were followed by two ogres and three Blazing Banners with long pikes, which they used to jab at the LUA. Despite our curiosity, we immediately and unanimously agreed to move on – there was nothing to be gained by interfering, and we had undead to fry. No time for geopolitics on this trip. The whole group of enemies was too busy with their own affairs to pay us much heed, and we skirted them easily and continued south to the barrows.

In the northwest section of 5.13, we came across an old guard tower that had been substantially rebuilt, and was flying Crested Skull colours. There were about half a dozen Crested Skull atop it in green and red regalia, keeping a lookout. We ducked behind some tall grass as we passed by (well, some of us ducked, Wrenn and JP were short enough to just kind of walk along behind the tall grass; I mean, JP was crouched down a little, especially in the places where the grass wasn’t quite as tall because obviously it hadn’t all grown to a perfectly even height, grass doesn’t do that, but anyway), but the point is that we we all snuck past with incredible skill and stuffed some grass in the joints of JP’s armour to try to decrease the clanking. It helped a little. It helped enough; no one noticed us.

Not long after that, we reached the edge of the area we had marked off as the necro zone. We spent several minutes guarding Silverleaf while she laid out vines and shook out herbs in a druid ritual which allowed her to detect magic. The plan was to go towards the areas of higher necrotic energy, until we reached the area with the most necrotic magic, which would presumably be near the source. Once Silverleaf had her magic vision up and running, she started looking around to determine which way to go. Between Sil’s incredibly sharp eyes, and my and JP’s contributions of inspiring music and guidance from the Tree (respectively; imagine if we tried to do it the other way, just JP singing out of tune and me standing there being like “hey Tree, hey Tree, Tree, listen Tree, you gotta help us out with this, come on Tree”! That would be Less Effective. But we didn’t do it that way, and it was very effective!) Sil easily figured out which way to lead us. There were various local spikes in necrotic energy, but the overall pattern led due south, so we followed it.

After ten minutes, Sil’s magic vision wore off, and as we waited for her to complete the ritual a second time, a half dozen skeletons meandered toward us. Sil was halfway done the ritual, so we decided to fight off the skeletons while she finished up.

I’m not going to lie, this next part is embarrassing. For those of you who don’t know, skeletons are weak shit. Just seriously not that scary. There were six of them, and seven of us, or, well, five of us if you count the fact that Silverleaf was still busy with her ritual and Wrenn Tana stayed back to guard her (because he is good and thoughtful and a valuable party member who keeps everyone safe and is a credit to the guild and we would not have fared so well without him) but either way we were stronger than them and we should have just taken them apart and to be fair to us eventually we did but not before the beat the shit out of us. One of them managed to hit JP! Nothing hits JP! How did a skeleton hit JP? I wish I could say these were some kind of special extra strong skeletons but they really weren’t. It was just embarrassing, was what it was. Halfway through the ritual Silverleaf happened to look up at us and saw us all bleeding and just hacking ineffectively at these damn skeletons and she just gave us this look like “how did I end up stuck with you idiots” and just shook her head and went back to work. She wasn’t wrong.

After honestly longer than I’m willing to admit, we dispatched the skeletons. Silverleaf finished her ritual and we continued south. Another ten minutes got us about halfway down the hex, and Sil identified an area a bit of a ways away where the necrotic energy was extremely elevated. Turns out there’s no particular source for the necro zone, but we had reached the area where it was strongest. If we were going to find answers, they would presumably be here. Once Sil’s spell wore off again, we settled down for a short rest to recover a bit from our extremely embarrassing skeleton fight. I played some music which made everyone feel a bit better, and we chatted about what we might discover. An hour later, we were refreshed and rejuvenated and once again ready to take on the world.

As we approached the area that Silverleaf had identified, we felt a strange sensation, vaguely cold, almost like water lapping at your ankles. It was some kind of energy effect, almost the same kind of chill as you get from touching Amara’s dead hand (what? I was curious, and she didn’t mind). We recognized it as negative energy.

There didn’t seem to be much in this area besides a bunch of hills and some cliff faces and things. As we wandered around looking for anything out of place, Naveed noticed something in the cliff face. There were hair-thin lines in the rock, with little bits of light spilling out from between the cracks. It was barely visible even after he pointed it out, so the fact that Naveed caught it was impressive as hell. Naveed is – was – amazing.

We called JP over and he looked over the rock, trying to figure out what exactly Naveed had found. He did that cute thing that he does when he’s really concentrating on something where his face goes all scrunched up and he starts sort of humming to himself, and I got distracted from the notes I was making about potential metaphors from finding cracks of light in out of the way places and just watched him for a bit, which now that I think about it I still really need to write those notes because I still remember it now but who knows if I will tomorrow but right now I’m writing a log so I guess it will still have to wait, I’ll just leave a note to myself: HEY SOVAN THINK ABOUT METAPHORS and hopefully I’ll get around to it before I completely forget what I was going for.

Anyway, after several minutes of examining the stone, JP determined that this was actually a concealed entrance into the rock. He found a leverage point where he could just twist and slide a whole section of rock away. He just did it, and just like that there was an entrance. I gotta say, if there’s anything more attractive than watching people succeed at things they’re good at, I sure don’t know what it is. The door was actually huge, maybe 15’ across, and it led down to a set of stairs that descended downwards. JP cast Find Traps, but there weren’t any traps on the stairs, so we headed down.

JP and I went first by virtue of being the hardest to kill, although Naveed wanted to go ahead and we had to physically hold him back to make him stay with the group. That stupid fucking man just wanted to be a hero so badly, it was like he thought he could solve the necro zone himself if he just got started fast enough, and we told him no, we told him to stay back, but he was so brave and so focused and so reckless and it didn’t need to happen but I’ll get to that, I have to tell it in order, so for now just picture us descending into the hillside with our shields up and Naveed, beautiful incredible brave stupid Naveed, impatiently following right behind, with the rest of the party coming after.

The stairs ended at a long corridor, which narrowed to 5’ with the addition of pillars on either side. In between the pillars stood a large metal plate, which appeared to be shifting slightly in place, leaning in and out a little bit. We heard a clattering sound from behind it, “click click click”, so Naveed went to investigate. I cast Heroism on him in case the metal plate was dangerous in some way, and he stepped up and peaked over to discover it wasn’t a metal plate at all, but a massive shield held by an extremely large skeleton. Behind it waited two more skeleton archers.

The shield shifted slightly as the skeleton in the front prepared to stab Naveed, but Silverleaf was faster, turning into a bear and slamming into the shield bearer, knocking the shield out of its boney hand to clatter on the floor. The skeleton swung at Silverleaf and hit her, but did BEARly any damage, and she emerged slightly scratched but not particularly worse for wear. (Although she did take the time – mid-battle – to turn and growl at me for the pun, which I helpfully shouted.)

JP stepped forward past the area where the wall narrowed, and found himself standing above an abyss that went down further than his darkvision could reach. Four bridges spanned the gap at various heights, crisscrossing above one another and disappearing into doors in the wall. JP and Naveed destroyed the shield bearer (well, the former shield bearer) with some well placed hammer blows and punches, and Wrenn wildshaped into an ape and managed to shatter an archer skeleton in a single mighty blow. There was one skeleton left.

Then Amara stepped forward. She reached out her hand as her gem began to glow, a deep purplish red that tinted the light in the hallway. The skeleton paused mid motion as it lifted its bow to take aim, and slumped forward instead. Amara twisted her fingers in a puppeting motion and the skeleton lifted its head once again, now under her control.

It was, without question, the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. She just took over that skeleton! Amara is incredible. So now we know what her mushroom gem does: it allows her to steal control of undead. Apparently if she tries it on something that’s too strong for her the effort might kill her, but she was totally strong enough to take over that skeleton and it was amazing. Amazing. Naveed was … less impressed. From that point on, his attitude toward Amara shifted from uneasy paranoia to outright hostility. I was going to talk to him about it when we got back, I really think they could have gotten along if Naveed could just have understood what a good person Amara is, like sure she uses necromancy but she uses it for good and she’s trying to save her village and the undead she raises are so useful and honestly Naveed and Amara are a lot alike in some ways like how they’re both so determined and so brave and they never shy away from danger even knowing that a couple of good hits can take them down, and Amara is so funny and so smart and honestly really attractive, not that Naveed cares, dead wife and all, but still, just really incredibly likeable if you’re not distracted by prejudice, which I was going to explain to Naveed but obviously I never got the chance to do any of that because – well. Well.

We continued on. The skeleton took the lead as we advanced over the bridge. We armed it with a spear and – oh! Oh shoot, I forgot to mention: okay, so back when we were investigating the cracks in the wall, the stone around that area had a bunch of gouges in it, like it was forcibly opened by something really strong and then closed and maybe repaired. Yeah, that was probably kind of important. I kind of of buried the lead there, but to be fair I was thinking about JP and metaphors and had kind of half composed a song in my head – which I totally forget now, damn it, I really should have written that down – and anyway I was distracted is what I’m saying and also anyway I told you now.

As we crossed the bridge, we took turns throwing things over the side to listen for them to hit something and try to guess how far down the bottom was. We were on the highest bridge, with each bridge about 15’ below the bridge above it, and we figured that the bottom was about 60’ below the lowest bridge. Amara came up with a brilliant idea (as she does) and cast Light on a discarded skeleton skull, which she tossed over the edge. It shattered when it reached the ground, but not before illuminating a truly massive number of undead. They were packed into the 60’ diameter space with little room between them, far too many to count, zombies and skeletons and undead of various other less common varieties. We couldn’t even guess how many there might be. Thoroughly unsettled, we moved on.

Our new skeleton friend moved into the next corridor and down the stairs ahead of us, but we noticed a faintly glowing rune on one of the steps. Interestingly, the skeleton had stepped on it with no result, which implied that this was either a fairly weak magic trap that triggered on anything living, or an extremely complex magic trap that might have any trigger. We backed up a ways and Amara instructed the skeleton to claw at the glyph to try to erase it. A slight discharge of energy zapped the skeleton, then a pool of grease appeared. The skeleton tumbled down the stairs, collapsing into a pile of bones at the bottom. As our former skeleton friend hit the ground, four skeletal wolves leapt toward the collapsed bones and started chewing on them before realizing that the bones were inert and turning to focus on us. We rained down fire and blows upon them and quickly crushed them into piles of bones and dust.

In the next room, JP got the feeling there was something funny about one of the walls, but couldn’t immediately figure out what. We took up defensive positions beside the entrances to the room while JP examined the wall carefully and methodically – he’s so patient, just starts a task and keeps plugging at it until it’s finished, and conscientiously too, JP just does things properly the first time and then doesn’t have to do them again and it’s always so so impressive and you wouldn’t think someone could be that attractive just by staring at a wall for a while but there’s just this look he gets when a thing has his total concentrated attention which I don’t know, it’s just really hot and I admit I may not have been watching the door as closely as I should have been or well maybe at all but Silverleaf was also watching the same door and anyway nothing came through the door so it’s not like anything bad happened.

But anyway because JP is ridiculously talented and patient he found an almost invisible crack in the stone and borrowed a thin knife to run up the crack, where it caught on a latch and unlocked a secret door. The door slid open to reveal four zombies and a clicking, chittering swarm of skeletal rats. We leapt up from our posts around the room and into action.

A frantic battle ensued. Wrenn Tana (still in ape form) and Naveed punched furiously, while Kal threw bolts of fire and I swept my force sword through the pile of rats. Bear-Sil crashed in with teeth and claws, nearly dropping a zombie, but it staggered and righted itself because apparently that’s a thing that zombies can do, just not die when they’re supposed to, although I mean they’re already dead so they can’t really die so I guess ‘be destroyed’ is a better way of putting it but in any case this zombie didn’t and frankly I think that was pretty rude of it. Amara swept in with a cone of flames that roared over the swarm of rats and finally managed to down the damaged zombie. The zombies managed to hit ape-Wrenn, who turned into gnome-Wrenn and quickly (and expertly!) Shillelaughed the haft of her spear and retaliated with a mighty blow, all while nimbly dodging the swarm of rats which was attempting to claw its way up her legs. Naveed moved out of the way of a zombie so fast that it fell over its own attack and came crashing down into the rat swarm. A few hits later, the zombies finally collapsed to the ground. The rat swarm was incinerated in twin firebolts from Kal and Amara. Knowing that things in this area have the tendency to rise multiple times, Sil and Wrenn set about destroying the remains of the zombies while the rest of us investigated the area.

The room JP had opened looked like it was once some kind of guard post. It held a little chair and a weapon rack, both decaying. The next room contained a small alter, just a brass bowl that held a few coins. The wall was decorated with a mural depicting a figure in shining silver armour standing over throngs of abstracted zombies, skeletons, and ghosts, and holding up a bell from a bandolier of bells. We pieced together that this was an image of a Gatekeeper – a lost order of clerics who policed the boundaries of death. We rested in that room, and Amara and I looked over the image more carefully. Amara noticed runes drawn onto each of the bells, and recognized some of them right away because she’s just ridiculously smart. I ritual cast Comprehend Languages to decipher the rest.

There were seven bells in total, each a different size, with a single rune engraved on each. From smallest to largest, the bells read: Sleep – Wake – Think – Speak – Walk – Command – Passage

The bell the figure held was the largest, marked Passage. Near the edges of the drawing, the art had a twisting, warping look to it that is sometimes used in old religious traditions to represent the journey into death. The undead depicted near the edges of the picture seemed to be fading away.

Meanwhile, Silverleaf and Kal and Wrenn were watching the door, and caught sight of a ghostly head that poked momentarily through the door and then zipped away. We decided to finish resting, and were ready to continue about twenty minutes later.

We opened the door and saw another grease rune, and I’m not going to lie, our next actions were, well, kind of completely terrible. Like, the kind of thing I do all the time when I’m by myself and there’s no one to tell me to think better of it. Classic Sovan. Except this time there were seven of us, six of whom weren’t me, including some of the most talented and intelligent people I have ever met or could reasonably imagine, and we briefly discussed every part of the – well, it can hardly be called a plan – every step in the ensuing disaster, and no one said anything at all, we all just went along with it, which I guess just goes to show that even really smart people can be really extra stupid sometimes.

So gather round, children, and I will share with you the grand tale of how a single grease rune that wasn’t even hidden from us nearly resulted in the grisly death of the entire party. Are you ready? You’re probably not ready. That’s okay, I’m telling it anyway.

So there’s this grease rune on the floor, right? Not the entire floor, mind you. We could have easily stepped around. We easily stepped around other similar traps, later on, after we miraculously survived our unbelievable blunder. But it was in the way. I want you to picture it, JP and me walking forward, JP putting out an arm like “stop”, pointing at the floor, the party pausing to consider this little rune he’s pointing out. “I will clear eet,” he suggests. “Step back.” We all step back, seven sets of feet moving not quite in sync, seven sets of eyes looking at the glyph, seven brains not stopping to think through the results of our actions. We’d tried to destroy a rune already, remember. With the skeleton. We’d done it, and we’d seen that it didn’t work. It just tripped the rune. So picture it, seven highly trained and extremely competent adventurers staring in consternation as JP’s Sacred Flame completely predictably trips the trap, seven generally reasonable people (well, six generally reasonable people and one Sovan) looking at the pool of grease on the stairs and thinking as one: “Oh, right, should have seen that coming.”

That’s not the worst part.

So we’re standing there staring at our very own brand new puddle of grease, which by the way ALSO didn’t cover the entire stairs, we could ALSO have stepped around that, I mean it might have been a little tricky and someone might have slipped a little but it would have been extremely doable, just hug the wall and watch where you put your feet, no problem, right? But the grease was in the way. I want you to picture it, all of us standing in a group looking at this puddle of grease and Amara saying “I can handle that” and everybody knowing what she meant, it’s not as if we didn’t know what she was intending, and everybody kind of nodding to themselves and thinking “go ahead”. “Go ahead,” we said. And she did.

And that was how the party ended up intentionally throwing a firebolt at a puddle of grease in an enclosed corridor. It caught fire instantly, because of course it did, and nearly-but-not-quite instantly it started throwing up billowing clouds of choking black smoke. Because of course it did. Because that’s what happens when you intentionally throw a firebolt at a puddle of grease in an enclosed corridor. It’s not complicated. Cause and effect, right?

So that’s how we ended up retreating several rooms back and waiting twenty minutes for the smoke to clear. An additional twenty minutes after the twenty minutes we’d spent continuing to rest after the ghost had seen us. Forty minutes of waiting around when our enemies knew we were there. And no one thought about it. At all. We talked about sandwiches. I told the story about the second through sixth worst foods I ever tried to cook for Faer and how they all happened on the same day. Amara shared quips about some truly bizarre elements of traditional Tiefling cooking. JP began to explain, in detail, every single step involved in making chocolate eclairs, but was unanimously shouted down. Naveed stared at us and sulked quietly. Sil stared at the door and brooded quietly. Eventually, the smoke cleared just enough, and we pressed onward.

And that’s how we ended up walking into the most predictable ambush in the history of ambushes.

JP and I took point, due once again to our aforementioned quality of being surprisingly hard to kill. We lead the way down the stairs and walked into a large room, where there was a mass of undead waiting for us. Another pair of shield bearing skeletons, with a zombie to either side. Behind them, four archer skeletons at the back wall, bows at the ready. In various places around the room, five of these quicker zombie-like things that twitched whenever they moved, one of which was much bigger and twitchier than the others. And waiting in a nearby passage, a desiccated, withered undead, just skin stretched tight over dry bones.

The biggest twitchy one darted forward and started clawing at me. I don’t know if it was something on its claws or magic or what, but as soon as it hit me I started feeling kind of stiff, but I shook it off. JP started coughing and choking from the thing’s unholy stench (literally unholy, he told me later that it smelled so strongly of evil that he couldn’t take it) but he stepped forward and held up his holy symbol to Turn the undead. The skeleton archers at the back lowered their bows and started scrabbling at the back wall, and a few of the twitchies started to move off but big twitchy motioned at them and they stopped and turned back toward us. Which, again, seriously? Destroyed zombies should stay destroyed, and Turned twitchies should stay Turned. I hate the undead.

The battle was a mess. Wrenn was magnificent, he turned into a lion and just started tearing into the twitchies (using his claws but not his bite, because as he said later “I don’t want that in my mouth”, which, yeah pretty much), Sil threw up a Moonbeam and started toasting everything in sight, Amara Shattered the group in the middle, just everyone pulling out their big guns because god damn there were a lot of undead. Meanwhile two spectres appeared behind us, blocking off our escape and attacking Kal and Amara. The withered zombie thing cast a spell (how do undead get to cast spells!? They don’t have minds! And I know they don’t have minds because my spells that mess with people’s minds don’t work on a lot them, which by the way is extremely annoying and is the reason I was awkwardly wielding a sword for much of this expedition, although to be fair the smarter undead do have enough of a mind for the spells to work which to be fair I suppose could also be enough of a mind to cast a spell but it shouldn’t be, they’re undead, what even is this crap. I hate them) and suddenly the room was full of noxious yellow smoke. The smell was overwhelming, and almost all of us started choking and coughing, to the point where we couldn’t do much else.

JP tried to get out of the room to cleaner air, but one of the twitchies managed to hit him on his way out and paralyzed him. JP had distracted the twitchies long enough to give the rest of us an opening to back out of the room, but there was no way in hell I was leaving a paralyzed JP to get torn apart by undead. Luckily, he shook off his paralysis, and I moved off to catch my breath.

And then came Wrenn, beautiful, brilliant Wrenn, and probably saved all of our lives. She’s incredible. She somehow held it together in the choking cloud and pounced on the withered zombie, breaking its concentration. The cloud vanished as quickly as it had appeared. I’d be LION if I said I wasn’t impressed as hell.

Meanwhile, Amara and Kal managed to take down one of the spectres with their magic. The remaining spectre tried to retreat, but as it ran off Amara swung at it and connected. She didn’t do much damage, but she did PUNCH A GHOST, because she is an unstoppable badass.

Meanwhile Wrenn continued to demonstrate his worth: the withered zombie tried to cast a spell, but casting is extremely difficult when there’s a lion sitting on top of you. I mean, I don’t know this from experience, I’ve never tried to cast a spell with a lion sitting on me, although I bet I could do it if I really tried, maybe Wrenn will practice with me if I ask him (note to self: ASK WRENN ABOUT LION SPELLCASTING). But I can only assume that it’s extremely difficult because how could it not be, and also because the zombie thing didn’t manage to get the spell off. Thank you Wrenn.

At the top of the stairs, Amara and Kal felt a wave of bone chilling cold sweep over them as the huge black spectral form of a wraith came in from the open chasm. It cast a spell and Amara and Kal found themselves Silenced. Kal ran down the stairs out of the Silenced area in order to toss a firebolt at the big twitchy and warn us about what was coming. I stood and the bottom of the stairs with a spell ready and waited for the wraith to make its way toward us. Behind me, the battle continued. Naveed punched the big twitchy, and the wizard teleported out from under Wrenn, but not before he managed to sink a bite into it. A moment later, cold air swept down the stairs.

“Dissonant Whispers, bitch!”

… And swept back away, moving diagonally up through the ceiling. JP amazingly managed to destroy both of the scariest remaining undead at once, searing the wizard with a Sacred Flame while crushing the big twitchy with his Spiritual Hammer. He’s so strong and talented and such a good fighter, but it’s not like he did it alone because we all worked together and the party had damaged both of them a lot already, and everything just came together in the way it sometimes does where everyone is totally amazing but one person ends up looking like a giant fucking hero and oh my gosh it was so incredible just “BAM” and they both crumpled and oh my gosh I’m getting kind of flustered thinking about it and note to self: MAKE OUT WITH JP LATER (just kidding, as if I need a note) and anyway it was impressive as hell but I should probably get on with the rest of log.

We managed to take down the remaining undead. Silverleaf moved her Moonbeam over the staircase in case the wraith came back that way and I watched for the wraith and prepared to cast Dissonant Whispers again while the rest of the party quickly gathered up the bodies and tossed them into the Moonbeam to disintegrate them so they couldn’t reanimate. (We also found an ornate bracelet on the big twitchy which we later identified as a bracelet of mastery.)

With the bodies dealt with, we hastily retreated up the stairs, but when we reached the bridge, it was already occupied by a dozen zombies, blocking our path. Naveed ran ahead to attack the zombies, so he was standing alone on the bridge when three spectres bust up from below. They tore into him, and he fell, only to be set upon by two zombies. [Permanent injury: -1 to Int] I managed to heal him before their blows struck, but they dropped him again. [Temporary injury: -1 to Cha] The rest of the zombies scrabbled toward Naveed, but they were blocked by their fellows and only managed to shuffle in place, moaning. We struck at the spectres with weapons and magic, destroying one of them, while I healed Naveed back to full strength.

An icy chilled descended as the wraith floated down from above. It cast another Silence spell, enveloping us in deathly quiet that spanned the length of the bridge and prevented us from casting spells. JP shoved his way through the spectres and ran forward until he was surrounded by zombies but out of the silenced area and cast Guiding Bolt on the wraith. It hit, and hit hard, hard enough that the wraith should have lost its concentration on the silence spell, but it didn’t. Kal ran back to the corridor past the bridge, out of the silence, and threw a firebolt at a spectre. Silverleaf stepped up and bit a spectre, body shaking with a roar that no one could hear. Three zombies lunged for Naveed. He managed to dodge out of the way of one, which fell off the bridge, but was not so fast with the others, and the next hit dropped him to the floor without a sound. [Permanent injury: lost acrobatics proficiency] Then I … … I don’t want to write this part. I’m sorry, Naveed. I’m so, so sorry.

I made a choice. I don’t even think it was the wrong one. Or, I mean, sometimes there are no right choices. I don’t see what else I could have done. I ran back to the end of the bridge, out the the silenced area, so I could cast a spell. I had two spells left. I was just within range to heal Naveed, I could have done it, I even started casting the spell without thinking about it, just pure instinct – someone is hurt, I heal them, it’s what I do, it’s what I’m there for. But I stopped. That wraith was going to tear us apart. Maybe no one would survive that. Maybe if could get it out of the way, someone else could tend to Naveed. Maybe a lot of things. I cast Dissonant Whispers instead.

And here’s the stupid part. Here’s the bit that’s so fucking stupid I could cry, I mean I have cried over it, not this bit in particular but just everything but also kind of this bit in particular. It didn’t even work. The spell wasn’t strong enough and the wraith didn’t flee. It must have hurt it a little, but not enough to actually make any difference. I couldn’t have known that when I chose what to cast. I had to try. But … I let Naveed die to do something that didn’t even end up mattering. Good job, Sovan. Way to fucking support your team.

Wrenn wildshaped into a huge bear and heroically charged the zombies, just bull rushed right through them, knocking several off the bridge and clearing a path. Amara dashed through the opened space back to the entrance. A dark red cloud emanated from the wraith, settling around Wrenn before dissipating away. The wraith floated out of view. The spectres tore Naveed apart.

It seems wrong to keep writing after that. That should be the end, shouldn’t it? Naveed’s story doesn’t get to go on. Why should ours? How is it that things just keep happening when the bottom has fallen out of the world? But they always do. The world goes on. The world doesn’t care.

As Naveed died, a brilliant glow appeared around his body. The wraith’s silence was shattered by a voice, regal and booming, that seemed to come from everywhere at once.

“THOU SHALT NOT LEAVE, SARENE. THOU STILL HAST PURPOSE HERE.”

Naveed’s body shattered into light. The air swirled around him, catching the glow like dust motes on a breeze, twirling it up and around until the light seemed to form shapes. A figure coalesced, sketched in swirling light. Something shifted, and suddenly the image wasn’t an image but an armoured woman holding a mace in one hand and a shield in the other. She still glowed; shafts of light spilled out from the edges of her armour.

The undead continued their attacks. The zombies tried to claw at Sil, but they were still lying on the ground and she easily stepped out of the way. Amara threw Magic Missiles at the spectres, destroying one of them and seriously damaging the other, which fled. Wrenn ran back down the length of the bridge, taking hits from zombies as he charged past them. He collided with Silverleaf, and the two bears grappled, rising up on their back legs as Wrenn tried to pull her off the bridge. Silverleaf wrestled Wrenn back to the ground and held him back from the rest of the party. I ran forward and cast Calm Emotions on Wrenn, trying to suppress whatever enchantment the wraith had put on his mind. But he shook off my spell and kept grappling with Silverleaf.

A lot of mind control relies on putting the victim into this sort of soft-focus hypnotized state. Pain can help focus them, give them another chance to shake off the enchantment. I yelled as much to the party: “Hitting her might snap her out of it!”

And so we tried to do just that. It’s not hard to hit a large, unarmoured bear, so we landed a lot of blows: JP with his hammer, Kal with a firebolt, Sil with teeth and claws. Each time, Wrenn looked momentarily clearer but then slid back to her dazed state, fighting and losing against the enchantment. At least we managed to drop Wrenn out of bear form, so her chances of knocking someone of the bridge were greatly decreased.

The wraith commanded Wrenn to use his most powerful spell to hurt us, but lovely, sweet Wrenn hadn’t prepared any offensive spells that day. It settled for having him cast Shillelaugh on his spear and swinging at Sil. The blow landed with a sickening crunch. Wrenn made a monumental effort of will and finally broke free.

Amara blasted a zombie with flame, and Sil started slamming zombies off the bridge again. It wasn’t looking good. A lot of us were reaching the ends of our ropes, battered and bleeding and basically just holding it together through sheer force of will. We were almost completely out of spells, and who know when the wraith would choose to return. Time to go. Sil rushed to the end of the bridge and the zombies clawed at her, leaving an opening for the rest of us to run by safely. We dashed past the zombies and out of the building just in time to see the wraith sinking back into the ground.

Once we’d cleared the entrance, everyone stopped to catch their breath. We stared at the newest member of our party, the figure (no longer glowing) who had materialized after Naveed’s death. No one seemed ready to say anything, so I spoke up.

“Friends, meet Sarene. Naveed’s dead wife.” I’d met her before, sort of, when she was a ghost haunting Naveed. She’d knocked a fork off my table and threatened to wash my dishes. She was nice.

Everyone continued to stare.

“Well, I can’t detect evil,” mentioned JP.

“She’s not evil!” I said. “She’s a really good person!”

“I worship the Tree,” said JP. “You seem like the other sort.”

For the first time, Sarene spoke. “I don’t worship anyone.”

The booming voice returned. “YOU ARE MY SERVANT.”

“Who are you?” JP asked.

“I AM YAMAA. I AM THE GATE KEEPER. I MAKE THE WAY BETWEEN THIS WORLD AND THE NEXT.”

“And what does that have to do with me?” asked Sarene.

“YOU ARE MY SERVANT. YOU HAVE A PURPOSE TO FULFILL. YOU MUST BECOME THE GATEKEEPER SARENE.”

“Why?” Sarene said. “Why me?”

“FEW SOULS CAN WIELD THE BELLS BUT YOU ARE ONE.”

“Is this the same thing that was drawing me to Silanya?”

“IT IS.”

“Is he really dead?”

“YES.”

“Why did you bring me back! Why not bring him back?”

“NAVEED COULD NOT WIELD THE BELLS.”

“I was dead!” Sarene said.

“YOU WERE NOT DEAD.”

“I remember dying.”

“YOUR SPIRIT NEVER DEPARTED. IT WAS UNABLE TO PASS THE WAYS.”

“But I’m not a spirit now.”

“NO. YOU HAVE RETURNED.”

“I’m alive now.”

“YES.”

Sarene sat down and put her head down. The voice spoke no further.

After a few moments, JP spoke up. “I’ve been in a similar situation to you. Not quite the same; this was mostly good day for me, not so much for you- but we should not do this here.”

“Yes,” said Sarene. “Let’s go.” And we went.

We retreated out of the necrozone and I help Silverleaf scout for a secure campsite. We found a crumbling old fort with a few sections of solid walls and doors tucked away on the inside. As soon as we’d set up camp, JP just flopped down and fell asleep (he got up later just long enough to take off his armour before collapsing again). The rest of us leaned on walls or lay on the floor, crying or patching up wounds or staring off dazedly into space. Wrenn cooked dinner and made sure everybody ate something (what would we do without Wrenn?). We rested. We recovered.

On my watch (second watch: Sarene and Amara took first watch because Sarene was in okay shape, having missed most of the battle, and Amara is an unstoppable badass) Silverleaf tried to ask me what was going on, but I’d made a promise to Naveed not to tell anyone. Which, by the way, telling someone something and making them promise not to tell anyone is the WORST, I mean I guess I can see why it might be necessary sometimes, but it’s the worst, I hate keeping secrets and I’m bad at it and it’s so stressful and then people ask me about it and I have to be like “No I can’t say anything” except sometimes I can’t even say “No I can’t say anything” because that’s saying too much and then I just have no idea what to do and I panic and it’s terrible and why is this a thing that keeps happening to me? But anyway I keep my promises so I just had to keep telling her that I couldn’t say anything and then she got fed up and we sat in silence for the rest of the time and it was just a big relief when it was time for JP and Wrenn to take over.

In the morning, Sarene told me it was okay to talk about it, and we filled in the rest of the story.

When Sarene died, instead of passing on, she somehow ended up as a ghost tied to Naveed. They didn’t know why she had been called back to haunt him, but she felt a pull toward Silanya, like there was something she needed to do here.

“Naveed was terrified of coming here,” Sarene said. “He knew that he had to, but every second that he was here, he was terrified out of his mind.”

Like I said. Naveed was brave as hell.

It was a new day. We were feeling better (well, physically), we had our spells, and Sarene had a mission from Yamaa. We went back in.

When we passed by the mural, Sarene stopped to look. The bandolier of bells was, well, ringing a bell for her. She said she felt a sense of kinship with the silver figure. Before we moved on, Sarene sat and closed her eyes for a few moments, searching for undead things in the area. She sensed that the most powerful undead in the area was a spirit, and felt two little threads of necrotic energy flowing off of it, as well as a channel. Something else was linked to the wraith and was putting energy into it. And the wraith was moving toward us.

We raised our weapons and magic focuses and prepared for it to arrive, but instead what appeared in the doorway was a single wolf skeleton. As soon as it saw us, it turned and loped away. Figuring that our enemy would now be alerted to our presence, we quickly moved on. We came across a few locked doors as we continued; when couldn’t get them open quickly we decided to move along. The next room had a wealth of grave goods, which we collected, and another mural: the silver-armoured figure was ringing the fourth bell, “Speak”, while a single peaceful looking spirit hovered near them with an expression of anticipation. Sarene recognized it: the bell allows you to reach across the veil to communicate with the dead whether or not they have been brought back.

The next mural we passed depicted the fifth bell, “Walk”. The undead in the picture were bowing and bending and fleeing from it. Walk grants the ability to turn the undead with more control than an ordinary cleric – if their will is weak enough, you can choose where they go.

We came across another locked door. I couldn’t force the lock with thieves’ tools, but Wrenn delivered a well placed kick to just the right spot on the door, and one of the hinges snapped off the wall, forcing the door partway open. We used a crowbar to snap the other hinge, then discarded the door and continued through.

The door opened onto the path across the chasm. A spectre appeared at the edge of JP’s darkvision and tried to dart away again, but he was quicker, blasting it with a bolt of magic that shattered it into fragments. Just then, two skeletal bulls leapt up from the bridge fifteen feet below and landed in front of us. They tried to sweep us off the bridge, but they made the mistake of going after JP first, who just braced himself and let the blows deflect uselessly off his shield. We defeated them neatly and without incident.

We crossed the bridge and continued onward, reaching an area that was ceremonially decorated as a resting place for the dead. Stepping into a room, we saw a little plinth near the far wall, and atop it was a bandolier of bells. The bells glowed a gentle silver, but were covered in dark red warding lines. It looked like a fairly powerful glyph of warding.

We had a plan to get the bells, but it involved tripping the wards, and we worried that we might destroy the bells in the process. I suggested we as Yamaa, who told us THE BELLS WILL NOT BE DESTROYED but refused to answer when JP asked if she’d seen the Tree lately and how it was doing. Which, like, just because you’re a god of death doesn’t mean you have to be rude. To be honest there are a lot of ways that I’m not particularly impressed Yamaa. She’s not a very nice person, I think. I mean, she’s not a person at all, technically, but I mean she’s also not very nice for a god and if she were a person she wouldn’t be very nice either so in any case I think my point stands.

Having received assurance of the bells’ survival, we enacted our amazing plan. And I do mean AMAZING. It was SO amazing. Prepare yourself.

The party backed out of the room and waited just beyond the doorway. Silverleaf turned into a giant octopus. I cast Heroism on her. Take a moment to imagine, if you will, a humungous cephalopod, positively glowing with strength and purpose. Really picture it. Glorious, right? She shuffled into the room, moving ten feet at a time because giant octopuses? Not so good on land. But speed wasn’t important. Eventually Silverleaf reached the plinth, waited a bit longer for the spell to reach its peak, and reached for the bells. As her tentacle came in contact with them, a lot of things happened in quick succession.

First, fire. A massive gushing torrent of flame, filling the room, engulfing octopus-Silverleaf [30 damage]. It literally did not singe her. The Heroism spell ablated all of the damage, winking out along with the ball of fire. The fire was instantly followed by a second blast. Silverleaf actually managed to dodge out of the way of the worst of it [12 damage]. As an octopus. On land. Because she’s amazing. Just, incredibly amazing. A spectral figure appeared in front of her and swung down a massive blade [20 damage]. Octopus-Silverleaf healed herself and shuffled out of the way of the guardian, but it got another two hits on her [10 and 20 damage, respectively], dropping her back into elf form. At that point, she managed to dart behind JP, who took the last hit before the guardian spell was depleted and winked out [10 damage]. [Total: 102 damage, of which actual characters took 16.]

So, yeah, those big fancy wards? Managed to just barely put a scratch on Silverleaf and JP. I love it when a plan works.

Silverleaf handed the bells to Sarene. All hell broke loose. A horde of undead came pouring in from all directions. There was a small pack of skeletal wolves, two swarms of skeletal rats, another big twitchy thing, five more skeletons, a spectre, and (weirdly enough) a living Crested Skull carrying a massive spiked chain. What the hell was she doing down here with all these undead? We never found out. And the wraith, sweeping in with that same chilling cold we’d all learned to hate.

Sarene raised the Walk bell and tolled it. Some undead resisted, some undead left, but a few – two wolves and a spectre – were caught by the bell. Sarene took control of their movements and sent the spectre away and the two wolves off the edge of the bridge.

For some reason, everything in reach decided to attack me. Which, like, that’s cool, I can take it, I’d much rather things attack me than basically anyone else except I guess JP but that’s only because nothing can hit JP and things can hit me sometimes because I am not a beautiful impenetrable wall of divine armour, I am just a half-elf with a bunch of metal strapped to him and a high tolerance for pain. So, I guess it was better than the alternative where things went after Amara or something, but still, you try standing in a cross corridor with monsters on every side of you and watching them all come toward you at once and see how you like it. Or, better yet, don’t do that. Stay out of the way of the monsters. That’s generally the better plan.

The great thing about being completely covered in monsters (and I nearly was, a rat swarm tried to crawl up my leg but I shouted at them to distract them while I kicked them off) is that it means all the monsters are conveniently in one place. So Amara cast Shatter basically centred on me (ow), and when my ears stopped ringing I looked around to see that the rats were much reduced and two skeletons archers had completely collapsed. Nice.

We traded blows with the monsters, and eventually they crumbled and we didn’t. I guess the wraith must have seen that we were winning because it didn’t come back after I successfully Dissonant Whispers’d it. We didn’t see it again.

I figure whatever was controlling the undead tossed everything they had at us after we got the bells; we didn’t run into any more skeletons or anything as we explored the rest of the tomb. Amara used magic where thieves’ tools had failed and managed to open the rest of the locked doors (is there anything more handy than having a wizard around? I doubt it). Behind each of the remaining doors was a skeleton holding a bloody knife and a bound Banner Carrier with its throat slit. They were all different groups: a Blazing Banner, a Crested Skull, and a LUA. It looked like some kind of blood magic ritual. Creepy.

We found the actual tomb part of the tomb, what was supposed to be the final resting place for the Gatekeeper who was buried here, but their body wasn’t there.

There were murals depicting each of the bells, and a final mural showing what had happened to the fallen Gatekeeper: a vast empty plain with the bells lying on the ground. The seventh bell, Passage, was out of the bandolier and lying separately. So, yeah, moral of the story is don’t ring Passage unless you really, really mean it, and are ready to die.

Across the last bridge, at the very bottom, we found living arrangements for a live person. There were food stocks, spellcasting supplies, and a few notes that seemed to have been scattered in haste. We gathered up the magic supplies and the notes, which detailed the protections on the bells. It looked like alongside the wards, the bells have a kind of alignment-based protection, and can only be touched or wielded by lawful or neutral good clerics. (We worried about Silverleaf for a bit, who had totally touched the bells and was definitely not a cleric, but decided that, I mean, we’d specifically asked Yamaa if Silverleaf could get the bells for Sarene, and since nothing bad had happened to Silverleaf, Yamaa must have given her a pass.)

So that was that. We left the tomb and headed home. There was some trouble with the guards at the Wall not wanting to let Sarene in, but we argued them down.

I feel like there should be more to say, some kind of fitting ending to everything that took place, but not all stories work out that way. Sometimes you get home and collapse into bed and cry for a while, and there’s nothing to tie it up beyond “we left, we returned, that’s how it went”. Not all stories have endings. It’s probably better that way.

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