Zane: Age of Enlightenment

Session 5b - Facepalm

The session opens with initiative rolls as Thud continues to beat the Trailblazer with his massive hammer. Garek – the man Hoerig was mistaken for – arrives with reinforcements and all hell breaks loose. Bugbear stranglers try to choke the life out of the party while wardancers throw the PCs around with their massive flails. Most of the party ends up pushed and prone at some point though Hoerig manages to do so with some style, offering to hear his enemies’ terms of surrender. (“No, yours. Not ours.”) Umalli spends nearly all of the fight on his @$$, but finds that he does a lot better in a seated, relaxed position; his arcane whirlwinds blow the stranglers away from their victims. Grafton comes around in a pincer manuever and tries to take Garek down, but ends up being grabbed and tazed repeatedly. Thud comes to his rescue and with additional support from Umalli, he is able to escape. The party shows solid teamwork in eliminating the threats, though not before losing a couple of houses to sabotage.

Garek attempts to escape but his arcane glider is brought down by one of Umalli’s whirlwinds. Grafton retrieves him in beast form. Thud preferred to kill Garek, but Umalli has another idea. He uses his burning hands to brand Garek’s face with the symbol of his quasi-deity, the Hand of Femrish, and sends him back to the Trailblazers of Sednaas a warning to House Redoran to mind their own business.

The next morning, the PCs are met by an odd event. A short, pudgy man is in the middle of the town near a wagon, prophesying about the “stone bear” that “lives in a tree” and will “imprison the people in their homes.” This man is Pung and pretty much all of the current occupants of Guecumar ignore him. He is known for his obscure, outlandish prophecies that never seem to come to anything. While most of the group tries to talk to [Pung and figure out what his story is, Thud meets alone with Nimiwi about the Guecumar Contract. Nimiwi and Thud fly into the air over Guecumar and strike a bargain – Guecumar will be protected and blessed by the primal spirits so long as it never exceeds a certain predetermined boundary. Nimiwi draws the first draft of boundary with a multicolored light, but Thud is displeased. He negotiates so that the town will have access to wood and mineral resources in exchange for lesser westward expansion and the inability to build near the Yuir Temple. In short, the community is self-sufficient and stable, but as a resource towards increasing the influence of House Indoril it’s too small to be meaningful.

The rest of the party on the ground sees the strange light circling the town, but is unable to determine its source before negotiations are finished. Thud goes to plant the Eifa Tree at Nimiwi’s order (the tree symbolizes the contract) and the rest of the party returns to Pung to learn more about him.

Pung produces a small crystalline box within which some kind of entity lives. The entity has knowledge of the past, present and future and informs Pung of such things. Darnis takes the box from Pung and communes with the entity inside while the rest of the party (still sans Thud) hears about Pung’s personal history. It seems Pung was a simple merchant for many years until he came into possession of the crystalline box. The box first informed him ahead of time who would visit him and what merchandise they wanted, but as time went on it revealed darker secrets. Pung became a preacher of sorts, alerting the world to the evils that threatened it. The box tells Darnis not to trust fey creatures, for they are fickle and turn on you at the worst possible moment. It tells him there are ‘better options’ and then when asked for a sign, replies audially “The tree has been planted” in a high-pitched androgynous voice.

This prompts the group to go find Thud, who has just finished planting the Eifa Tree, thus sealing the contract with Nimiwi and the primal spirits. When Hoerig goes to tear down the tree, Nimiwi stops him and together, she and Thud explain the Guecumar Contract to the rest of the group. Also, a very large spirit bear arrives and makes its home in the tree, changing shape and size so it can rest comfortably in the currently small tree. At rest, it appears to be made of stone.

At first, the group is angry at Thud for making such a bad decision on his own, but eventually many of them come to terms with it and are simply angry at Thud for making such a decision on his own in general. It is decided that he alone will face whatever the Varunal Expeditionaries have to say about the contract. Umalli however is unmoved, referring to the contract as a “fence” and that the bear’s presence is a ‘policing’ effort, though the rest of the group is assured that it is a powerful ally in the defense of the town. A meeting is held to explain the contract to the townsfolk, who are also quite resistant at first. A grumbling acquiescence is reached. Neither Pung nor Umalli are present for this meeting.

The next morning, Pung’s wagon is seen leaving town without so much as a goodbye. The PCs decide the crystalline box is better kept in their hands instead of Pung’s, so they go to find him. Conveniently, his wagon is stuck in a very large hole, which turns out to be a nest of giant ants. The ants attack the wagon along with Pung and his entourage. The PCs help defend them from the ants, but when the ants are gone, Pung’s paranoid nature gets the best of him and he turns on the PCs, commanding his followers to prevent them from taking the box. The fight is relatively quick and when it is over, the party has the crystalline box, Pung, his followers and a better mode of transportation (the wagon) back to Varuna.

Treasure:
500 Fame for the Guecumar Contract
80 gp from the bugbears, 45 from Pung’s followers and 800 gp bounty on Pung
220 gp arcane from scavenging the giant ants and Pung’s wagon
Pung’s Magic Prophetic Jewelry Box

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Session 5a - How To Eat Fried Worms
A little gamey, but otherwise not bad!

Billywig, Shamgar, Tullie and Dash have completed everything they reasonably can in the village of Kore and are about to leave when who should come back but kEQir Qu’Qatl, checking in on his “son’s” handiwork. He insists on inspecting the new militia, but Shamgar is quick to tell him to ‘get on somewhere else.’ kEQir leaves in relative peace, leaving the group with a warning (a threat?) of death without his help.

Shamgar is keen to go track kEQir down and find out just how much dragon he really is, but Billywig and Tullie convince him that Tullie’s vision regarding Mircolis and the others is a more pressing matter. Upon further describing the vision, Billywig recalls seeing the location along the road from Fort Kront to the Mushroom Henge, or at least one kinda like it. The troupe returns to the main road and locates two likely spots, both of which have seen some violence recently. Shamgar’s knowledge of physiology determines that only one of these places has seen monster-on-humanoid violence, so the the group scours the area. Around the site are many small holes in the ground, some already there when the group arrived and some dug up by Shamgar. Tullie points out a bump in the ground where Shamgar digs up a dead worm, and not just any worm. This is a huge worm – as big as two clenched hands around and a couple feet long with one end boasting an orifice lined by nasty-looking teeth.

Billywig finds another round of holes nearby, but this time, the holes house live worms! Three of them pop out of the ground to ambush the party and when the group fails to annihilate the first set in the first round, one of the worms makes a screeching sounds and calls even more worms – smaller worms with claw-like appendages and one really big worm that spits acid.

Dash draws first blood but his incredible slicing blades only go to show that the worms are a little bit more than the group first thought. Dash hews one in half with a single blow, but it simply regenerates its back half and continues fighting. He eventually puts it down for good and, just to show off his martial prowess, kills another little skittery worm by watching the sidewinder-ish motions it makes and following Rule 1 of swordsmanship, “put your sword where your enemy is GOING to be.” He then engages the gigantoworm mano-a-wormo.

Shamgar takes a couple of nasty bites early on, but is able to use his cloak to his advantage and back away into safety. He engages another of the starting worms and aids in Tullie who is WILDLY successful against the slimy creatures. She dodges bite after bite, claw after claw, teleporting around the field like some crazy, tiny horned goddess of battle. Her primary contribution is to sear the sensory organs of one of the larger worms, which proceeds to eat (and/or slam into trees ) several of its own cohorts. She also discovers the worms’ sensitivity to heat.

Billywig has trouble early on delivering a magical beatdown to the worms as several of them simply bury themselves to avoid his Whirlwind, but after freezing a couple of them over, he finds his rhythm and commences to fry worms one after the other with his lightning bolts. Striking large worms and arcing the electricity to the smaller ones becomes a tried and true tactic. It also makes them edible, as Shamgar and Tullie find out by experimentation. Billywig prefers to stick to rations.

After the battle ends, a small black rock snake slithers onto the scene, which Shamgar recognizes as belonging to ‘that Pegasus kid.’ Sure enough, Pelagius stumbles out of the brush in a bad way. He explains how he got separated from Mircolis after the initial worm attack and has been unable to rescue his uncle since. He has managed to stall the stinging scorpions that have Mircolis surrounded, but is running low on spells and high on fatigue. Tullie tries to offer him fried worm, and after some hesitation, he eats one. He then leads the PCs to the clearing where Mircolis lies unconscious.

Tullie engineers a new and creative use for her Executioner’s Noose – brachiation! She loops onto a nearby tree branch and goes flying in Tarzan-style to rescue Mircolis but is ambushed by four shocking scorpions who force her to retreat. The scorpions have a big brother of sorts – a massive armored beetle that Dash immediately locks onto. Shamgar launches himself at the scorpions and spends much of the combat grabbed, though it doesn’t affect his efficiency very much. He wakes Mircolis with his “magic” who tries to escape but is grabbed by yet another scorpion. Mircolis attempts to escape several times and Tullie tries to drag the scorpion back with her noose, but as the beast continues to drag Mircolis into the woods, all appears to be lost.

Shamgar methodically breaks grabs and smashes scorpions with his giant axe in his inimitable style. Dash finally gets the jump on the big beetle and, inspired by the beetles’ own pincers, delivers an “up-top/down-low” scissoring attack that drops the armored behemoth. It is Billywig, though, who saves the day in the end. He directs Pelagius to throw whatever he has left at the escaping scorpion, but to no avail. Was it the frustration of not being effective in the fight so far? Perhaps seeing Mircolis dragged off reminded him of his daughter? Whatever the case, something in Billywig snapped and with a decisive stomp of his foot, the escaping arthropod was launched high into a tree where he slammed into a branch and hung from his tail like a macabre warning to all other enemies – ‘stay the ** away!’ Upon witnessing this, the final scorpion fled leaving the party to regroup.

Mircolis thanks the group profusely for their help. He begins to relate the tale of his misfortune but Tullie cuts him off and retells her vision. This disturbs Mircolis greatly who then proceeds to tell the party a little bit more about the history of Haumea. The reason Haumea became a theocracy alone among all the major nations was the area’s tendency to ‘leak’ back and forth across other planes. The barriers between the Feywild, Shadowfell, Astral Sea and other dimensions are all a bit weaker in Haumea so communication with the gods was easier and more productive. Additionally, the area had unique threats that were best handled by those wielding divine power – demons, undead and similar abominations that occurred “naturally” in the region. The temples divided up the land and protected it from these threats. With the Haumean government folded and the power of the gods eliminated, such horrors have been allowed to flourish in the area. Mircolis muses briefly on whether the otherworldly threats or the zealousness of the faithful were more problematic, but doesn’t seem to come to a conclusion. He apologizes for not telling the party sooner, but did not want to involve more people than were necessary. Seeing Tullie and Billywig’s weapons and hearing about the vision, though, convince Mircolis that the group is now in too deep to be ignorant. He also tells them that he is a representative of the Circle Tower, one group among others who have taken up the call to purge Haumea of its uncleanliness. A noble house of Chericlo and a warlord of Quaor are similarly involved.

The group decides that is must get Mircolis and Pelagius back to safety and so forego finding Staff, Mircolis’ missing monk bodyguard. Walt has apparently run off somewhere babbling about a new henge and “more power.” The group returns to Fort Kront where Tullie’s charm quells Sgt. Ruk’s anger about the group’s extended leave of absence. They report in all that has happened and are told to return to Varuna while decisions are made.

Treasure: 150 karma for saving Mircolis and Pelagius

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Session 4b - Dragon Balls

Upon starting day 4 of their exploration, Blaine returns to the temple to stand guard with Umalli and generally relax. The rest of the group pushes forward.

They arrive in a vast stone valley. As the group descends into the valley, they notice that among the general debris of the area are hundreds and hundreds of stone faces, seemingly melded into the ground. Grafton knows the faces are not chiseled, but somehow magically created, though Darnis does not quite know how. A fully upright statue further down the basin wall attracts Hoerig’s attention. It is an attractive eladrin woman, fully clothed, wearing a serene facial expression. She stares forward and slightly up. When the party fixes their gaze in that direction, they see a small hut. The group decides to go to the hut, but are stopped by a blast of arcane energy that chokes them in dust and gravel. A man with a wand threatens them, wondering aloud just how many graverobbers he’s going to have to fight off. He descends from his perch atop a heap of debris and demands that the PCs drop their weapons. The group, sans weapons, convinces the strange man that they are not grave robbers but merely travelers. The party’s lack of fey convinces him and he identifies himself as Fleme (pronounced “flame”). He is a human who’s village was teleported into the Feywild whole and the inhabitants petrified, though their petrified forms appear eladrin instead of human. Fleme has been trying to find a way for several years to undo the magic of the valley but has been unable. He seems to think that the arcanists of Hyloneme might be able to help him, but he has no way back and is unsure of leaving the Feywild and his “home.” The party convinces him that they have a way back and some contacts that could help with the situation. Fleme agrees and wants to bring his fiancee Ella (the stone woman) back so that he can ensure the magic will work before returning to the Feywild. Ella is too heavy for the party to carry and so he tearfully leaves her behind, instead bringing along his dog, Scout, who has similarly been turned to stone. Fleme knows why he was not affected by the transformation, but will not reveal why to the party. It seems he is ashamed somehow of this secret and so the party does not poke further into the matter.

The group, with Fleme in tow, heads south to the village of Arnis where they receive a less than warm welcome. The gnomish, pixie, brownie and otherwise mini-fey inhabitants of the town have a distate for big, nonmagical creatures. Fleme explains that he comes to Arnis occasionally for fish, but a merchant quickly tells them there are no fish and that they should scram. It seems the village is slowly starving since they can not get their boats offshore due to four dragons that are destroying their boats and eating the fish.

When the party arrives at the docks, they see a couple of gnomes prepared to launch a boat to try to get food. They offer to take down the dragons and are met with immediate derision. Still, their impetuousness prompts one of the gnomes to make a bet – 100gp that the party can’t kill the dragons. Hoerig immediately accepts; the gnome says “fine, it’s your death. And I’m going to take all your stuff when the dragons finish you off.” The other gnome, amazed but seeing the opportunity for profit, runs back on shore and announces the PCs’ foolhardiness to the town. More bets are placed, with the second gnome acting as bookie. Darnis places 20gp at 7:1 that they’ll even come back alive. Thud continues the bravado, asking what reward they will receive from the town for saving their livelihood. Glimwocket the jeweler presents the party with two crimson stones if they can do it, but is clearly not afraid of losing the gems.

The boat puts off and within moments, is under attack by four dragons, two Large and two Medium. They immediately open up with rending claws, scaring the party something fierce, but they retain their resolve. Grafton summons kelp from beneath the surface of the water to hinder the dragons and keeps at least one tied up well each round for several rounds. The two parties trade blows until a gnome sailor launches a harpoon at one of the larger dragons, and gives Thud the chance to leap onto the beast’s back! He grabs it by the neck, drags himself up and delivers a crushing blow to the dragon’s skull. This signals the rest of the party to focus their attention on the dragon. Aided by Darnis’ magically burning weapons and another harpoon shot, the first monster drops.

The fight is far from over, however. Both Hoerig and Darnis burn through every healing ability they have, including utilities, and nearly everyone uses their second wind. Most of the party is bloodied at some point, and usually multiple times, except for Darnis. Despite being the target of as many attacks as everyone else, Darnis is apparently invincible while on a boat. Things look especially grim when the other large dragon roars, stunning Thud and Grafton and knocking over a mast onto the ship, blocking movement. Hoerig thinks quickly, though, and commands the gnomes to hurl the fallen mast at one of the smaller dragons. They hit and the beast goes into the water, entangled and stunned. This frees Thud to rejoin the party surrounding the other large dragon. The gnomes catch smaller dragon #1 in a fishing net and proceed to beat it to death with oars while the party deals with the other two dragons. The larger dragon attempts to grab Hoerig twice, each time meeting a swift punch to the dragonballs resulting in an escape. With double flanking and several leader bonuses, Grafton finishes the long and difficult fight with surprising efficiency, knocking smaller dragon #2 prone so the gnomes can tie it up and then performing a crude tracheotomy on the other large dragon while in beast form.

Exhausted, but victorious, the party returns to shore, receiving their winnings, the jewels and the famous ‘slow clap.’ During the night’s festivities, the group learns that the town was once in possession of a book that had rituals involving teleportation and revivifying petrified remains (among other things) but the book was bought by a man named Berrian Truescourge many years ago. That book was called the Tome of Twilight Boughs. The party also arranges to have Ella brought back to the Yuir Temple by the Arnis villagers so that Fleme can continue his research.

Upon returning to the Yuir Temple, the party finds the captured eladrin dead and Umalli and Blaine unconscious. The pair inform the rest of the PCs that the captives escaped somehow and knocked them out. They know little more than that. Nimiwi is nowhere to be seen. Searching outside reveals foottracks heading in many different directions and a wagon trail headed toward Tarmek. With less than two days to spare the group decides to head back to Tarmek to talk to the magic dealer there. He unfortunately knows nothing about any captured dryads and when asked about petrification magic, mentions only that he thought there was a book somewhere that talked about it, the Tome of Twilight Boughs.

The party finally races back to the Yuir Temple with almost no time left before the Temple is due to return and are met by a half-dozen eladrin in front of the entrance. They are clearly glad to see the party and offer refreshments. They explain that they had come by a couple days back to visit Berrian and take an order. Upon entering the Temple, they saw several men carrying out Umalli’s and Blaine’s (assumed) corpses. The captives explained what had happened to them and demanded weapons to strike down the PCs when they came back. The merchants asked for money, the captives didn’t have any and decided to try to simply take the goods by force. The merchants defended themselves but had not yet disposed of the bodies. They have since returned several times and have been sending out search parties to find the rest of the PCs at Blaine and Umalli’s request.

Before the Temple leaves, the PCs do some business with the merchants, led by an eladrin who calls himself Whitman. They trade one of the jewels they received from the Arnis villagers and Hoerig’s ability to handle dangerous magical items for several pieces of magical gear. While the party peruses magical equipment, Hoerig is handed all manner of cursed and malfunctioning items to “hold while my guys get the residuum off of it.” A shield that engulfs the wielder in flames when hit, an amulet that delivers random shocks, a moldy shirt that keeps away pests, some tainted troll parts and all other manner of disturbing items fail in Hoerig’s presence and are recycled. Hoerig claims a magical bedroll for himself and crawls into it shaking after that ordeal, whether the magic works or not! Whitman also gives the party a tracking armband so that if they ever end up in the Feywild again, they can find the merchant wagon.

Finally, it’s time to return home. All 6 PC’s, Nimiwi, Fleme (with Ella and Scout) and a bunch of crazy new gear enter the Temple for the last time and are carried back to the Natural World.

Treasure:
240gp in winnings
100gp Luck/Karma and 90 Fame for defeating the dragons
Lv 4 Power Jewel
Watchful Ruby Eye – traded for a (+1 Deathstalker?) Greatspear, a +1 Lullaby Craghammer and a Restful Bedroll

Purchased:
Thud’s Eye Loupe

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Session 4a - Daddy Issues

Having cleared out the clerics from the abandoned temple, Shamgar, Tullie and Billywig wait for the White Dragon to return. Mircolis and his group, Walt, and the recruits (sans one) return to Fort Kront; a half-orc named Dash stays behind, not interested in going back to the fort all that much.

Several days later, the party’s patience pays off. A roughly human-looking man with white dragon wings flies to their location carrying a large sack of.. something. He descends upon seeing Shamgar and begins questioning him.

The dragon identifies himself as keQir Qu’Qatl and asks Shamgar about his early life. He essentially ignores Dash and Billywig but thinks Tullie might be Shamgar’s slavegirl or consort. He has a passing interest in Tullie’s “abilities.” (‘so.. son.. is she any good? If she weren’t with you, I might like to try her myself.’)

KeQir has been curious as to whether he had any children but confesses that the possibility didn’t come up much since he suspected most of the mothers “wouldn’t have to deal with them long anyway.” He also asks Shamgar if his wings have come in. Ultimately, he tells Shamgar that this is his territory – his protectorate – and that they will have to conduct their business elsewhere. The lands to the southeast near the coastal desert are not yet claimed and so he should go there instead or back to Sedna – pretty much anywhere that isn’t Haumea, really. Shamgar agrees to leave and so keQir picks up his bag and flies away.

The group is on its way back to Fort Kront when they hear a loud “BOOM” and a flash of blue light, that resolves into an otherworldly pulse. Tullie is immediately interested and wants to invesigate. The party encounters the village of Kore, but does not enter at first. They spot keQir fighting a large fiery demon and so rather than go to the village or the light (to Tullie’s dismay), Billywig and Shamgar aim the group at the fast-moving melee of ice and heat.

The group tries to keep pace with the battling ballet but is unable to efficiently and loses healing surges in the process. They come to a clearing where the demon has ambushed keQir with a pair of trolls. The combination of trolls and demon would probably be too much for keQir and so the group draws the trolls’ attention while the duo of deforestation goes on wrecking the wilderness with their combat. The combat goes surprisingly easy and with the exception of being grabbed a couple times and one troll using Shamgar as a weapon against Dash, they bring the monsters down. The problem occurs when the trolls stand back up after being defeated – several times! It’s Billywig and Tullie to the rescue here; when one troll falls, Tullie douses it in lantern oil and Billywig strikes it with lightning to ignite the oil. Shamgar and Dash go to work on the other fallen troll, once again proving that any problem can be solved if you just hit with a sharp object over and over and over again.

Now convinced that something needs to be done about that weird pulsing light, the party heads off toward it and finds an unconscious woman near a dark and frayed portal. Shamgar and Billywig determine the woman’s problems are not physical, but mental – the result of some trauma. The woman is incoherent until (Billywig? Dash?) scares the heck out of her again and Tullie slaps some sense into her. She begins raving about ‘red death’ and dying every night in her dreams. Shamgar casually tosses a rock into the portal which triggers the attack of a swarm of kruthiks. The fight is short and relatively uneventful except for a bunch of kruthiks being thrown around and the woman (named Redra) nearly being killed for real by an escaping foe.

Redra explains her story. Her mother, Kirstal, had nightmares every night. The same dream, over and over again, On the night of Redra’s thirteenth birthday, Kirstal awoke from a nightmare-plagued sleep, sprang to her feet, and ran screaming into the night. Redra followed, calling for her mother and trying to rouse her from her panic. The pair raced through the forest near their home until Kirstal stumbled at the edge of a sinkhole and fell in. Redra arrived at the edge of the depression just in time to see a swarm of kruthiks tearing her mother to pieces, leaving only her bones behind. The next night, when Redra fell asleep, she experienced her mother’s nightmare, down to every detail. She dreamt it again every night since. Hoping to avoid her mother’s fate, Redra sought answers. Her plight led her to a wizard named Bartleby, whom she persuaded to tutor her. For seven years, Redra immersed herself in the study of magic in the hope of finding a way to rid herself of the cursed dream. During her studies, Redra became convinced that the dream-monster was neither a symbol nor a generic fear but a specific, real entity. Three weeks ago, Redra formulated a ritual that opens a portal to the plane of dreams. This was the key she could use to end her nightmares forever . . . or so she thought. Convinced that her trial was nearly over, Redra cast the ritual at dusk in the nearby graveyard. She intended to call forth the monster from her nightmare and confront it so that she could destroy it and free herself from its influence once and for all. When the portal opened, the terrifying beast of fire and smoke stepped from the realm of dreams. The creature attacked Redra immediately. It believed Redra was dead when she fell, so it moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere.

Unsure that keQir would be able to deal with the nightmare demon, the party decides to confront it directly. They go through town to where the monster is rampaging just on the other side, but first run into the townspeople of Kore who have keQir surrounded and are blaming him for the monster’s presence. He denies having summoned it and claims to be protecting them from it. Furthermore, he blames the PCs for it’s presence and when the townspeople turn on them, he takes flight to places unknown. Dash quickly convinces the townsfolk that he’s not with the rest of the party and the people demand answers from Shamgar. Tullie and Billywig escape the lynch mob by magical means, leaving Shamgar to fend for himself. He doesn’t have answers except to explain that keQir is clearly not to trusted and that his team will deal with the demon. The townsfolk are hesitant to leave the protective shelter of keQir’s wings (both literally and figuratively) but are willing to listen if the group does in fact slay the demon. The people also commission Dash to keep Shamgar “in line.”

On the way out, the party is stopped by Bartleby. He asks the party to not implicate Redra in the demon’s summoning due to her sad story and having nowhere else to turn. He claims she is a talented sorceress and wishes to see her develop.

The party confronts the nightmare demon in the forest wreckage. Its foulspawn mangler cohorts attack directly, using their bone daggers both at range and up close to keep the PCs on the ropes. Dash is dropped twice holding the monsters back and both Shamgar and Tullie are worried by the manglers’ Dagger Dances. All the while, the nightmare monster goes invisible and attacks suddenly and with seeming impunity. The party must work well in concert to get rid of the manglers so that they can deal with the demon next. They eventually whittle down the demons and Billywig has a close scare when the invisible demon breaks though their ranks and unleashes a nasty surprise on him!.. that misses. The groups trade blows until the demon makes a fatal mistake – it unleashes a powerful fiery attack against Tullie who has undergone her diabolical transformation. Its assault is entirely negated by her fire resistances and though Billywig attempts to kill-steal, Tullie delivers the final blow to the demon, invoking the the full might of her shadow magic to fell the abomination. Bathed in the demon’s blood, her swords gain magical abilities. The PCs return to Kore to deal with the fallout.

Treasure:
280 gp of arcane reagents
Flaming Weapon +1
Pouch of Nightmare Dust
50 gp coinage
200 gp fame
200 gp karma/luck

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Downtime3b

The moonflowers glow softly in the waning moonlight – a subtle blue light that surrounds the campsite. Moths, flies and unique fey insects are drawn to the flowers and are zapped in a tiny pyrotechnic display. The panther comes back near dawn with something generally resembling a rabbit, though the party doesn’t know whether the differences are due to being native to the Feywild or simply because it was mauled by a panther. It lays down a couple meters away from Grafton. It growls softly if anyone nears its kill, but is peaceable otherwise.

Grafton petted the panthers as they have their breakfast. He was not a cat person and it was taking all his inner strength not to chase them up a tree. His plan is to break them of any unwanted training over the next two days and then release them back into the wild. If the opportunity presents itself the area around the temple would be good, as they’d deter travellers from that area and prevent anyone else from being “Shamgared”.

“Hey mate Once you break them der panthas mind if i got one” Thud laughing says

Grafton shrugs at Thud. “No, not mind. I assume you are trained with handling animals. You have experience with wild animals?” Grafton paused for a moment to scratch himself. “Be a shame if they killed you in your sleep or while ‘playing’. Cats are like that.”

“Oy mate was just pokin fun”, he responds.

Hoerig rolls his eye as he gathered his belongings before moving on. “At the least they’ll provide some sort of deterrence, people might not want to mess with us until we get home.”

“Maybe,” Gratfton petted one on the head tentatively, “I can make ‘em sit but I wouldn’t want to lead them into a fight.”

Blaine glances at Grafton out of the corner of his eye and grins silently

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Downtime3a

The sounds and ethereal lights of the cleric ghosts subside as the last one falls. The chapel is strangely still – the faint thrumming noise that the party ignored due to its constancy is now obvious in its absence. The powerful necrotic vortex still whirs in the silence, the occasional flash or spark is released and arcs across the room.

Shamgar held his axe tightly, having meticulously cleansed the blade in the water of the baptismal pool, whispering the words to purify the water and make it holy again as he cleansed the rotting flesh, disguising the rite by incanting the mantra in the language of the dragons. The water was nowhere near as powerful as the holy water he could have created by burning incense and incanting the full rite of purification, but it was strong enough to dissolve the rotting flesh still clinging to the ancient relic. Cleaning the weapon had let him focus his thoughts, to come to an important decision.

Having searched the building to contentment, the group returns outside where Mircolis and the rest await. “Well?” he asks. “We heard some shrieking and something flew out the window behind the temple. What happened?”

“Buncha’ ghost clerics,” he murmured in the accent he feigned in company too unfamiliar to be trusted, people found it easier to believe him a stupid brute and a hedge magician with that accent, “One’a em wanted the rest to let go, they decided they didn’t want ter and attacked us. We droved ‘em off, though.” He thumbed the blade of his axe, running the rough scales that lined his fingers and his palms across it slowly as if testing the edge, “But I gots ter stay fer a while. One thing them clerics said was that a white dragon comes here perdy often… confused me for him, each one of them. Could be that dragon and I have something we needs ta talk about, and I can’t leave without taking that opportunity.” Giving a glance around at the group, “I don’t expect y’all ter stay with me, I can forage and hunt well enough to keep myself fed for a few days. Just do me a favor and make sure the imp don’t put no bows or nothin in my pup’s fur,” he told them, giving Tullie a meaningful glare.

“Pfft,” Tullie scoffed, crossing her arms. “Like I would do such a thing. And besides, you think I’m gonna pass up the chance of possibly seeing a real dragon? I think not. I’m staying.”

Some of the recruits seem hesitant about the whole thing. “I’ve got kids,” one says. “I was just about to marry this girl and I’d rather not die first,” quips another. “If its all the same to you,” the tall one with the axe that is the de facto leader says,”we’d just as soon go back to Varuna. Or at least Ft. Kront.”

Shamgar gave the recruits a flat stare, scratching his chin as he spoke, “I said I don’t expect none of ya ter stay with me. The imp can stay if she wants, she’d probably just wanna stay even more if I told ‘er no. But meetin’ this dragon is my business, and ye can make it yer business if ye wants to, but I’ll meet this white dragon by me’self if’n I hafta. I can’t pass this up.”

“Ft. Kront, you say?” Mircolis replies. It would be good to resupply and find somewhere safer than these woods to camp out. We will return with you.” He then turns to the party. “Shall I take a message back for you?”

“Just make sure m’ pup’s bein’ fed,” the half-dragon grunted, picking a fleck of dust off the edge of his axe and flicking it away.

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Session 3b: The Panther Whisperer

Prologue

The party finds itself stuck in the Feywild for a week with nothing to do, so Nimiwi suggests a plant native to the Feywild that would help rebuild Guecumar – moonflowers. A tall blue-petalled plant with a long stalk, the moonflower radiates light whenever the moon is visible. The flowers are useful as streetlights and vermin control. While Nimiwi does not know exactly where to find moonflowers, she suggests that if the party explores the area long enough, they should find some. The group relieves the remaining eladrin of their weapons and gear and locks them in the temple so that they can not leave or reach Nimiwi. Darnis plants the Eifa Tree to keep it alive. Umalli stays behind to guard the place.

Day 1

Day one sees the group travelling to the south and west of the temple. The search is largely uneventful except for a road that leads to the west, presumably towards civilization.

Day 2

The party veers off the road when they notice an old abandoned mine complex to the south. About half an hour into the mine, the party finds a previously untouched and obvious vein of platinum across a series of precarious platforms. (Grafton? Blaine?) ties a rope around his waist and the rest of the party acts as a counterweight should problems occur. He does not get very far before one of the platforms shifts heavily and the party must pull him back to safety. Thud, unroped and in full armor, has no trouble crossing the platforms to the ore. He picks up a tool to begin loosening the ore, but stops when he sees the ore glowing strangely and a boot sticking out from underneath a rockslide. Unwilling to touch the ore, the group debates about how to proceed until Hoerig volunteers to handle the situation. Trusting in his normally annoying propensity to disrupt magical items, Hoerig begins mining the vein. Almost immediately, rocks fall from above and then stop in mid-air. Thud and Hoerig step back and in a moment, the rocks continue their descent. Once the trap has been triggered it takes very little time to harvest a good chunk of the platinum ore.

Fresh from their experience, the party continue on toward town. Where the road ends and continues toward a tunnel, a gnomish boy is surrounded and threatened by myconids – living, man-sized mushrooms. The party hesitates, not sure how to approach the situation (if at all) but Thud grows impatient and charges into the mess. Thud holds one of the more humanoid myconids at bay while Grafton launches seed grenades and vines into the midst of the myconids. He takes down a couple of living spores, but in doing so releases a mass of pollen and spores. The gnome boy coughs and chokes on the pollen, quickly going unconscious. Hoerig charges through the cloud of spores and administers a healing potion to the boy. Grafton, Hoerig and Thud bear the brunt of the attack while Blaine and Darnis deal with a swarm of not-entirely-sentient mushrooms reacting to chemical signals released by the other myconids. Darnis is bloodied several times but is personally responsible for the sauteeing of hundreds of tiny mushrooms. Hoerig and Thud falter briefly under the effect of some hallucinogenic pollen, but keep the myconids from break through to the back ranks. Once the swarm is defeated, Blaine moves in to add weight to the party’s counterattack, annhilating another guard. Thud takes the opportunity to land a terrible blow to the myconid leader and he retreats, swearing vengeance. Hoerig and Grafton easily mop up the remaining attackers, protecting the young gnome.

The gnome identifies himself as Nednis, a native of the nearby town of Tarmek. He admits to purposefully provoking the myconid’s nest since “there aren’t usually so many of them.” The party gives him a tongue-lashing (that may or may not have been very effective) and then learns that Nednis’ neighbor Willys grows prize moonflowers. Nednis leads the group to his neighbor’s house; the neighbor is not entirely happy to see Nednis safe. The boy continually harasses Willys, breaking windows and muddying up his home with his rough-and-tumble play. Willys shoos Nednis away and is initially unhappy with the PCs for their heroics, but softens a little when they express a desire to purchase some of his moonflowers. A fierce debate ensues in which Grafton and Darnis show off their superior knowledge of tending to obscure flora. Hoerig threatens Willys with bringing Nednis back to play. They wear Willys down to the point where he offers to sell them two dozen of the flowers for 20 gp. The PCs accept and politely take their leave. The party also meets a very colorful shopkeeper who sells them an enchanted hoe that ‘aerates and releases the inherent magic of the soil.’

Day 3

The day begins with the party coming across an abandoned town much like Guecumar. Around the town, bizarre amorphous will-of-the-wisp-type spirits roam. In the center of the town, a ghostly scene replays over and over again. A low-ranking seargent of the 17th Chericlo Cavalry stands over a mass of ethereal corpses, bemoaning his fate and inability to protect his men. The seargent repeats his speech every few minutes. Thud attempts to use his special life-sustaining armor (which contains an aspect of the Raven Queen!) to attempt to force the seargant to “cross over” but he ignores Thud’s commands. The rest of the group dresses Blaine in some salvaged military gear and he bluffs the seargent into thinking he is a superior officer. The seargant relates a tale of the Cavalry being teleported into the Feywild trying to banish the Living Spell but becoming disoriented and defeated. The group assures the seargent that he needs to return to HQ and report this situation and that they will ‘take over from here.’ The ghost crosses over, leaving behind a shield bearing the crest of the 17th Chericlo Cavalry – a rearing bull on a green field, surrounded by spears laced with waving blue ribbons.

Continuing their exploration, the party finds a brownie, back to a cliff, being threatened and stalked by two panthers. They move in to help, but Grafton determines that these panthers are in fact not wild but trained since his wild empathy has no effect. This realization triggers an ambush by two brownie rogues who are handling the panthers and the ‘cornered’ brownie himself! The rogues push Blaine and Thud toward the cliff, who must grab on to the edge to avoid falling into certain harm. While hanging from the edge, they are pelted by bolts from brownie magicians below, forcing them to move and dazing them. Meanwhile, Hoerig, Grafton and Darnis engage in a deadly dance with the brownies and panthers who tend to disappear and teleport repeatedly. The battle is long and difficult, with both Leaders expending all of their heals and both Blaine and Hoerig hovering nervously near death’s door. Once the rogues are gone, Grafton is able to tame one of the panthers. The magicians are nowhere to be seen.

Treasure:
The Shield of the 17th Chericlo Cavalry
400 gp worth of platinum ore
+1 Duelist’s Bow
150 gp of karma/good luck for saving the kid
130 gp

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Session 3a: The Pious
Now with +2 puberty bonus!

While examining the Mushroom Henge, the party is surprised by another group of adventurers, led by a Hyloneman half-elf named Mircolis and his human nephew Pelagius. The party attempts to hide, but Pelagius’ myriad of summoned creatures are able to spot them with plenty of time and distance between them. Mircolis’ group is not looking for a fight, however, and asks the party about the henge nearby. The party recounts the events of the last few hours and in return Mircolis offers them another job; another ruined temple nearby is also spawning undead. Mircolis’ group was unable to break through to it, though, and so could not investigate. He offers them the sum of 150 gp to travel with him to the ruins and deal with whatever is causing the undead uprising. The party agrees after a few more questions.

On the way to the temple, Pelagius’ swarm of rock snakes senses something. SEVERAL somethings, in fact. From behind rocks and trees, a skeleton raiding party that has been chasing Mircolis’ group appears. Swordsmen and archers led by a wight attack the group. Walt leads the countercharge and despite cartwheeling around several swords and arrows, it does not take the skeletons long to whittle him down, putting him in a very precarious position. Billywig perches atop some pillars nearby and hurls lightning with impunity for most of the fight. Havoc ensues when the wight numbs Shamgar’s legs for several rounds, preventing him from moving to help Tullie and Walt with the swordsmen. The assassin is followed closely behind by the swarm of recruits as she attempts to prevent Walt from meeting an untimely end. Both Tullie and Walt are bloodied multiple times and the recruits’ formation is completely broken, sending them scattering and rendering them useless. Eventually Walt and Tullie drop one of the skeletons, only for him to be reanimated by the wight! Shamgar and Billywig punish the wight mightily for this transgression. Goblin skeleton archers continue to dart between trees and fire but are wholly ineffective. Finally the two swordsmen fall under the combined assault of the three melee combatants; Shamgar and Billywig mop up the archers in short order. The party arrives at the temple but is too exhausted to continue and must camp outside the temple.

The next morning, Mircolis requests the use of the recruits and offers one of his own men in replacement. The party chooses Pelagius for his summoning talents. A holographic tile set maintains the barrier into the ruins, clearly place here by Hyloneme arcanists to prevent (or at least slow) the leakage of undead into the area. Once the party puzzles out the symbols, they are granted access into the temple. They also find an odd, gaudy cloak attached to a dead body outside of the temple ruins. The cloak instills Shamgar with a momentary thrill of bravado and flashiness as he dons it.

The party is met by several ghostly clerics who address Shamgar directly as “The White Dragon” and compliment him on the fine choice of bodies he has brought this time in sharp contrast to his usual load of garbage. When they ask if he will assist in the slaying, the time for discussion is over! The ghosts get the jump on the party and force them into a pretty tight corner, marking the frontline fighters and pounding the group with area attacks. Shamgar trades breath attacks with spectral dragonborn haunting the ruins but finds himself on the losing end. Walt makes a brilliant play against the bone warlord, dragging him away from Shamgar at his weakest moment with a haunting tune of his own. It also allows Tullie and Pelagius to launch a counterattack and with Pelagius blocking key positions with his summons, Tullie shows just how dangerous a connection to the Shadowfell can be. Billywig once again escapes nearly unharmed. Eventually, the party surrounds the warlord and drops him.

The temple contains mostly old, broken things with the exception of some recently consumed food scraps – far too recent for the ghosts inhabiting the temple. Walt locates another necrotic vortex like the one underneath the Mushroom Henge, this one leading somewhere in the Astral Sea. Nearby are some platinum bracelets and gold nuggets. They also find Content Not Found: Pious, a tiefling ghost who asks for their help. Though he has (mostly) gotten over the grief and suffering of being slaughtered at the hands of anti-religious zealots, his brothers in faith have not and continue to attempt to avenge themselves using the bodies of the dead. He asks the party to stand with him and convince his fellows once and for all to stop their madness and cross over to the next life. Unfortunately, the other ghosts are much stronger than Pious and it is all the party can do to keep him in his right mind in their presence. He gives up and crosses over alone, leaving the party to deal with the dead clergy. Several partially materialize and attack the party, wishing to claim their bodies. All except for Tullie, of course, who is only 15 and convinces the ghosts that they don’t want her body since she “hasn’t hit puberty yet.”

Shamgar wrestles with more dragon-themed enemies, attempting to forcibly rebaptize them in the hopes that it will force them to cross over. Walt and Pelagius together take on a couple rotting zombies and have little trouble keeping them under control, though not re-dead. Tullie occupies another two by herself. Billywig spends the first couple rounds running from one until his staff spontaneously discharges a tremendous blast of pent-up electrical energy from all those lightning spells and fries the monster. Shamgar also discovers firsthand some interesting properties of these particular undead – first, that they are wildly weak to thunder damage and that they explode when killed! Fortunately, no one is in the blast radius as Shamgar bats the abomination several meters away before it explodes in gore. Walt performs a similar trick later in the fight with another one. A final lightning bolt from Billywig’s new “boomstick” ends the fight.

Treasure: 300gp of Karma for putting the clerics to rest, albeit forcibly.
3 Ghoststrike Oils
+1 Staff of Storms
150 gp gold payment from Mircolis +25gp in nuggets
4 platinum bracelets worth 50 gp each
Grandiose Cape of the Mountebank

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Downtime 2b

“Well,” Grafton mutters, “This is a fine mess Shamgar got us into.”

“Yea i have to agree with you there” Thud mumbles ” well what are we going to do with this tree?’ Darnis walks around the tree, trying to remember where he had seen it before. “Ah yes, this is an Eifa Tree, the berries can help replenish us and the leaves can be made into armor. From what I remember, this tree should be able to be replanted at the surface, which would give us a supply of its offerings. Although we aren’t quite able to get back to Guecemar at the moment it seems.” Grafton circles the tree, sniffing it occasionally. “We should ask the druid if the tree is hers. And we have these eladrin. Do we kill them?”

“I don’t think we kill them, yet, at any rate. They might not be trustworthy, but they have knowledge of this place that we don’t. Like maybe how to get out of here and out of their hair.” Hoerig turns to Grafton, “Think you can talk that dyrad back there into helping us out, she may be the only guide…” he looks back to the corner of the temple where the remaining Eladrin had been corralled into, stripped of weapons, ”...well, reliable guides we have at the moment…and maybe take Darnis with you, he seems to know a bit about the tree as well.”

“The rest of you, these Eladrin may have been doing some sort of foul religion craft, but they don’t seem to be heavily invested in it. Your thoughts on trying to get them to help us out of this situation, this is their home turf after all, and we’ve proven ourselves more than capable to ruining their day.” Hoerig grins at Umalli.

‘I do not recall them debating keeping the wolves outside alive.’ Grafton thought to himself. He motioned with his head at Darnis, gesturing towards the exit.

“So are you going to let us live or not?” one of the eladrin asks. “We’re not from the Feywild, you know.” states another. “This temple is going to warp back over at the full moon and we can all go home and.. forget this ever happened?” Recall that the moon is in its waxing quarter phase right now, meaning it will be a week before the next crossover.

Hoerig turns on the charm just a bit. “You can see we’re in quite a situation. Unknown wilds out there, and uneasy allies in here.” He points to the Eladrin speaker and his compatriots.

“Tactically, it would be wise for us to be rid of you, but I’d like to think Mama Eidaenda raised me to be better than that.” He smirks. “So, pray tell, is there anything you can share with the rest of us here to put our minds at ease, if we were to take on your help over the course of the following week? Otherwise…” Hoerig casts a knowning glance over towards Umalli the fey slayer, letting the unspoken threat hang in the air. He chuckles, “Displacer Beast got your tongue?”

“If this temple is so unstable, how can you be sure that it will teleport back at the full moon?” Darnis looks over at Grafton and mumbles under his breath, “Sounds like a ruse to try and save their own hide. Lets go talk to the dryad to see if she can help guide us while we are here.” He then walks down the hall back to the pool where the dryad was last seen.

Nimiwi has managed to pull herself up against a wall where she appears to be in some kind of trance. One eye opens at your approach. “That didn’t take you long,” she quips, “but did I hear right? We’re in the Feywild?”

“It would appear that way. I was hoping that maybe you would be able to assist us while we are here? The Eladrin are saying that the temple will teleport back at the full moon, although I am not so sure they can be completely trusted.” Darnis pulls a berry out of his pack from the Eifa tree. “Also, you warned us not to touch this tree, but I can see no reason for this. Does the tree have any special meaning to you?” He extends his hand and offers the berry to her.

Grafton grunts in agreement with Darnis’ questions then remembers some vague lessons in manners, “And my thanks for the totem. The hunt went well with it.”

“I’m glad it worked well for you,” Nimiwi continues, still somewhat dazed. She stares at the berry for a moment, a clear look of quandary on her face. After a moment, she sighs and accepts the fruit. She quietly whispers ‘forgive me’ in Elven to no one in particular and proceeds to methodically grind the berry between her front teeth, extracting as much of the juice and pulp as possible. Darnis recognizes this as a basic alchemical technique for maximizing magical potential of raw ingredients, although she doesn’t strike him as being much of an artificer beyond that. “I will not ask you what you do with the Eifa tree from this point forward but please plant it somewhere if it has any value to you. To dryads and most other fey, it is a sacred tree.

“Assuming we have to stay here the entire week, will the Eifa tree die before we can get it planted or can it live like this for that long? I would like to personally tend to it and ensure its safe arrival into Guecemar.” Darnis fondly remembered the Eifa tree that he tended to while growing up. It would be nice to have something to remind him of home.

Now as to the matter of returning home, the accursed ritualists are correct.” She hisses those last words. “The temple crosses the barrier at each moon phase – full, new and quarters. We need only last here long enough to ‘catch a ride back’ as it were.” As if struck, her face suddenly grows dour. The berry has obviously helped her regain mental clarity. “Who are you anyway? What are you doing out here?” She reaches for her totem defensively, and then remembers she gave it to Grafton.

“We’re helping repair an abandoned town. Told strange things were happening at the temple. So we stopped the ritualists.” Now the dryad has confirmed the story of the eladrin, Grafton turns and rejoins his pack, telling Thud what Nimiwi has said.

“Well we have to at the very least gather some supplies so we can survive here until the full moon”

“We should scout the surroundings. Make sure we’re not in anything hostile’s territory.”

“You’re in the Feywild,” Nimiwi manages a snort, “so you’re always in hostile territory. As long as we’re here, you should make the best of it. There are a number of resources here you may find helpful in rebuilding your town. I would be willing to help you locate and obtain them – with some conditions, of course.”

“And what praytell may these conditions be” A quizikal look cover Thuds face “I am sure we will be able to accomodate them”Thud boasts confidently “Oh and the Eifa tree, I think, with your permission of course, that it would fit perfectly in the middle of the town center as a symbol of the unity and co-exsistence we must hold with nature” he smiles.

Nimiwi is pleased at Thud’s idea. “Your appearance is deceiving, metal man. You look as through you rely on strength of body, but your mind may be just as sharp. My conditions are simple – a limit on the size of your settlement and a promise to stay away from certain areas of the surrounding wilderness. Civilization and freedom can offer each other many benefits.”

Thud takes out a small map of the area and a pen and ink “lets mark the areas now so it can be set in stone… so to speak.” he chuckles a bit “and on the back we can write out the contract” Leaving the alpha with the Nymph, Grafton slipped out to glance outside to make sure nothing overly dangerous was lurking outside the temple. He’d never smelt the Feywild before but all the hairs on his hackles were raised.He was uncertain if the eladrin would help them if they were attacked, but the extra hands might be useful. But he was not the one to try and win them over. Grafton sees nothing menacing outside at the moment.

“And just who in the wilderness is going to honor or even read that paper?” Nimiwi asks Thud in a similar tone of voice that parent would use to ask a child about her imaginary friends. “Paper may be fine when you have cities and governments to enforce such a thing, but out here no one owns the land or the rocks or the trees. We will need something a bit more.. binding. But let’s not be concerned about that just now. There are more pressing matters to deal with – the return of Berrian’s OTHER friends, for example.”

A serious look covers what can be seen of Thud’s face as he grips the hilt of his craghammer “What other friends do you speak of!?”

“He had contacts over here, of course. Not followers, exactly. More like business partners. I don’t know much about them, though. Still, anyone from the Feywild thinking about crossing borders into the natural world is probably not someone you want to immediately trust.”

“Well if he has friends here that could harm us we should hit them first before they even know were here.” Thud lets out a boastful hardy laugh and takes out his Craghammer and Heavy Shield “Now who’s with me on this! Lets strike the enemy at their heart so they are no longer a threat to our world!”

“A good hunt indeed,” Grafton agreed, “but we do not know where they are or where to begin looking. But we know it will be a week before the temple returns with us. That is a long time without food and fresh water.” The druid knew a few tricks to coax small spirts into leading him to water and cleansing water, but those required components. After a moment of thought he continued, “They might also have expected the temple to return and they might find us first.”

“You are most certainly correct, druid. They surely expect the temple to return. But if they are not already here now, then maybe the partnership is not so tight. In any event, you should go find food and water for us before it gets dark.”

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Downtime 2a

Before the party stands a menacing sight. A pool of brackish green water is surrounded by a slight circular hill of earth, maybe 40 meters in diameter. Standing within the circle makes one somewhat lightheaded. The light shines differently here, as if it were being refracted through water rather than air. The menacing part, though, is the geyser of purple-black necrotic energy erupting from the pool of water. This is a henge, but something is definitely wrong.

“What in the nine hells is wrong with this thing, Treestep?” Shamgar whispered in his rumbling baritone, resisting the urge to prod the foul surface of the pond with the haft of his axe. There was no telling what would happen if he did that. “This is your area of expertise, after all,” he grunted. He’d never even seen a henge before, all he knew about them were the bare basics… It didn’t take an expert to know that this was something horribly wrong, though. There might be a way to purify it, though, if he could just think of a way to be alone.

Walt looked at Shamgar, for a moment wondering how much his comrade knew of henges, and took on his usual sing-song voice, as if this henge didn’t scare the snot of him. “Hmmmm … I know very little of such things,” he lied. “I know that sometimes arcane energies can pool in certain places, but I’ve never seen such a place before.” He skirted the edge of the pool, making a sudden cartwheel to relieve some of the tention, but watching the pool intently all the while. “She seemed to be drawing energy from this thing, but I have no idea how.” He bent down, his nose an inch from the pool, staring intently. He sneezed (on purpose, of course), and smiled at the group. “One of the nice things about being a jester is that we don’t have to worry about where our power comes from … I like to think that it’s my incredible wit and dexterity.”

Splayed around the pool in various directions are even more pieces of bodies, but nothing coherent. As the PCs walk around examining the place, there is a sound like a wind blowing through a log and then a foot appears just a few paces behind Tullie. Nothing attached to it, just a foot. It doesn’t seem to have been used in a while.

Tullie looked over her shoulder and gave a look of disgust before turning around and bending down to pick up the foot. “Well, I think a hand would have been more useful…but I guess a foot will do,” she stated jokingly before tossing it over her shoulder. She stood back up and turned around, staring at the pool of water. Being the daughter of a succcubus and a very lonely summoning wizard left one with a fairly high tolerance for the strange, unusal, and downright macabre. “But I thought jesters knew all about these sorts of things?” she asked, moving towards the nasty water and grabbing the foot again on her way there. Curiously, she prodded the surface with the appendage’s big toe. The water ripples as the foot hits it and the toe wiggles and jerks slightly, but ceases as soon as it is pulled back from the water.

Shamgar grunted in surprise as he saw the dead foot come back to life, then just as quickly lose its vitality. Suddenly struck with an idea, he pulled one of the religious books they’d collected (a text of Bahamut, thankfully written in Iokharic) and announced. “I think I might be able to use one of the rituals in this book… it’s a pretty simple one, and it might be able to clear this up…” He approached the pond and began acting as if he were performing a ritual based off the Draconic script in the book, when he was in fact performing the memorized ritual to create Holy Water, burning incense as a component to empower the spell.

The necrotic energy erupting from the pool subsides, though the water itself is still brackish and murky. A faint necrotic aura is still detectable around the pool. The ritual works—for now.

Shamgar surveyed the pool with a mild grunt of satisfaction. He was a battle cleric, not one of those dress-wearing pansies throwing light beams around. But they were more skilled at magic, that was no doubt. Giving his area of expertise, there was no surprise that he hadn’t been able to completely purify the water. With another grunt, which a dedicated student of the half-dragon’s mannerisms would recognize as an indication of frustration, he turned and thumped his way back into the surgery room to see if these necromancers had kept any journals or left any paperwork around.

The main thing of note Shamgar finds in terms of paperwork is a letter addressed to Morgana stating “I am pleased to hear of your progress with the henge. I have no doubt you will be a fine arcanist, and that you will turn the tables on those who doubted you. Continue to contact me as you learn and I will assist you as I can.” The letter is signed with initials in Iokharic that would roughly translate to Common as “kE Qo’ “

Walt stood, patiently watching the others study the henge. He remembered a time, long ago, where he’d taken similar steps to figure out what they do. This one was different, of course (he heard they were all different in one way or another), but their curiousity made him feel nostalgic. For a moment, he considered what it would be like to create a Jester Court, right here, right now. What if he told his companions his secret? Just laid it all out, and shared the power with them? Walt laughed to himself (which was nothing out of the ordinary), shook his head (which was a bit odd), and stood silently watching the pool (which was, indeed, quite strange). You can only slice the pie so thin, he thought. No. Only I know how to harness this henge, so only I will do so. He looked around at Tullie and threw his arms wide, “Most jesters know nothing of such things, but I … well, I am a brilliant arcanist!” He did a standing flip, pretending for a moment to lose his balance and almost fall into the pool, then breathing heavily in mock fear for a moment for comedic effect. “I will use my incredible abilities and,” he smiled broadly, “powerful mind to unlock these secrets.” He took a bow, as if putting on a show (which, indeed, he was), and knelt next to the shore. His smile faded, and he began the difficult work of creating a new Charter with this henge. This shouldn’t take long …

The henge responds to Walt’s will, tentatively at first as if wondering what happened to the awkward halfling. This is, of course, silly since henges aren’t actually sentient. After a moment, the henge ‘forgets’ its previous paramour and slowly opens its secrets to Walt. As Shamgar leafs through pages and Walt communes with the henge, voices can just be barely heard coming through the entry to the cave.

Shamgar hurries back down to the henge, the papers that he had found upstairs tucked under his arm. Attempting to move as quietly as possible, he rounds up Tullie, Walt, Billywig, and the recruits. In a hushed growl he murmured to the group, “Some people are coming through the cave. We should get ready for anyone who might be coming through.”

Walt looks up from his work, a bit flustered and, perhaps, angry at the interruption. Oh well, he thought. Charters aren’t exactly precise. I suppose that will do. He stood and, to the surprise of his friends, he wasn’t smiling when he turned around. “There’s something wrong with this place. I tremble to think what could happen if it fell into the wrong hands.” Walt walked up to Shamgar, arcane energy arcing across his staff, and spoke in a soft voice that held as much weight as he could muster. “If these people know of the henge, they must be put down. We cannot just allow them to pass by us, for the sake of our world.” He lowered his voice further, with the intent of only allowing Shamgar to hear, “Truth be told, I’m not entirely comfortable with how much these recruits know.” Walt gave a meaningful look at the recruits milling around and tightened his grip on his staff. It sparked red for an instant, and Walt smiled.

Tullie gasped audibly at Walt’s thinly veiled suggestion. “But Mr. Treestep!” she exclaimed, placing one of her tiny hands on his arm, looking up at him with big sad puppydog eyes, “These men have worked really really hard and risked their lives to help us! Why would they betray us now?” She gave him a pout, but her free hand was held very casually at her side, ready to quickly draw her blade if need be. She had no particular love for these recruits, that was true, but she’d be damned if the time she’d spent training them for trickery would go to waste because of one crazy elf. Something about this man’s attitude made her slightly uncomfortable…

Shamgar reacted differently, snarling with disgust. “How far would you be willing to dishonor yourself to protect a pool of magic pondscum?” he growled, his own hand not so subtly grasping the haft of his axe. Tempus must surely weep to see such actions suggested, even in this age of so-called enlightenment. Many things were forgivable in battle or war, but even suggesting the idea of wholesale slaughter of men sent to be trained by you was simply disgusting. “Right now these men aren’t a threat to this pool, they probably don’t even know what it is. I was raised in a wizarding academy and I barely know a blasted thing about it other than what it’s called. A more certain threat is whoever those voices are that are approaching us… Odds are it’s not the WinterSmith and his little helpers coming to bless us with candy and toys for being good boys and girls.”

The voices grow slightly louder as they pass into the main hallway. “Someone’s been through here already – several someones, actually, and they’ve done quite a number on the place…” “By the Spiral Tower, what the hell happened to THAT thing?!” “What was it in the first place? No, I don’t even want to know. Let’s just keep going.” There are three voices and maybe 4-6 sets of footfalls echoing across the mushroom forest.

Shamgar frowned as he heard the voices approaching. “They’re getting closer, it doesn’t sound like they were involved with the necromancers here but that doesn’t mean they’re friendly at all.” He started moving up the natural-hewn corridor, motioning for the others to follow. “Walt, you and me take up spots by either side of the door. If they’re enemies, it forms a natural choke point where we can take them down. Tullie, you and Billywig hang back. Billywig can catch them at a distance, and Tullie can use her jumping-through-shadows power to move around in their midst and hit them hard while the rest of us distract them.” He nodded, drawing his axe and holding it at the ready in case it was needed.

Walt nodded, not surprised by the reaction. He had no illusions about the life of an adventurer, but he had a feeling that his companions still believed that good men never died for the greater good. Perhaps they just dig themselves out of their false graves, and into their cloudy kingdoms, he smirked to himself at the neievity. Walt made to move into position, but, guessing that he had another moment, he leaned across to his companions and whispered, “Magic pondscum it may be, but, to the bottomfeeders of this world, it may as well be gold. If word of this place gets out, we may find that we are guilty of more than merely half a dozen murders.” Walt began to turn away, then turned back again, “However, if you want those deaths on your hands, I’m willing to hand you the dishonor on that one.” Walt’s serious face melted away at that, and he giggled slightly and moved into position. A bit of mad prophet. A bit of unstable joker. He giggled again. My favorite combination.

As the group begins to slowly cross the rope bridge, they can make out some faces and outlines. The leading man is a half-elf; he wears leather armor and has a villainous-looking face with jet black hair and a goatee. He carries a dagger in his left hand. Behind him is a placid human in chainmail. He takes in the scenery with an almost unnerving calm. A figure in purple robes stands on the other side, apparently unwilling to cross the bridge. He calls a name and a large hawk appears out of nowhere, swooping him across the chasm on the other side, where Billywig and Shamgar landed initially. It disappears as quickly as it came. A cursory glimpse as he disappears into your peripheral vision reveals that he is a fairly young boy, maybe 15. The half-elf reprimands him “Pelagius! Stop it with the stunts already! If you get hurt your mother will visit upon me horrors the likes of which the world has never seen.”

As the half-elf nears the end of the rope bridge, the boy cries out, “Uncle Mir, I think I hear something. Wait!” There is a tense couple minutes. Nobody moves. A tiny black rock snake emerges from just under the surface of a patch of loose earth and skitters between Billywig and Shamgar. After a moment, the half-elf’s voice is heard again. “Don’t worry about it, Pelagius. The Moon rests in the Scales this night and Delban wears the Crown. There is no need for unnecessary violence.” There is the sound of a dagger being sheathed in a slim, metallic scabbard.

Shamgar tightened his grip on his axe, his lips pulled back to bare dozens of razor-sharp teeth in a silent snarl. This group was sounding less and less friendly with every passing moment. He wasn’t sure who Delban was, who this Pegasus kid was, or what all this talk about scales and moons was about, but none of it sounded good… and maybe just a little familiar. It did that thing, the one you had four of but everyone said the four like it was part of the other word. Either way, this kid seemed to be the weak point of the group. He was a skilled magic user for certain, but that wouldn’t do him much good with a blade to his throat.

Gesturing to Tullie, he motioned to the approaching group and indicated the kid, gesturing with a hand at about the kid’s height for emphasis. With a couple of ‘poof’ gestures, and a gesture that was unimstakibly ‘use your shadowy movey thing to get over to the kid, grab him and put a blade to his throat’. Shamgar was more than capable of using subtletey when called for, but he found the stick worked better than the carrot when you were as ugly as he was.

Tullie looked from Shamgar, to the kid, then back to Shamgar, raising her eyebrow at him. She crossed her arms and shook her head in defiance. She wasn’t going to take advantage of a kid, though she wouldn’t admit that she herself was still a child, then again, she did consider herself an adult woman.

“We can see you two back there!” the kid shouts. “Don’t think you can hide!” Then, as if to prove he’s not bluffing he continues, “Uncle Mir, there’s a halfling and a.. dragon? A halfling and half-dragon in that room and man, does that dragon have a big axe!”

Shamgar gave a grunt of annoyance at being discovered, lowering his axe but not stowing it. He assumed a posture that seemed more relaxed, but in reality his muscles were taught like a coiled spring. The kid at least wasn’t dangerous. Any decent warrior wouldn’t have given away the fact that he had knowledge of enemy positioning. “Who in the nine hells are you people?” he grunted, resting the haft of his enormous, immaculately maintained blade across his shoulder. 

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