Return of the Tyrant

Session Twenty-Seven: The Unholy Shroud of the First Prophetess
The Weretiger and the Lich. Or, "How do you like this, you dirty lich?"

We find our adventurers facing an old wrinkly guy named Brother Zalem. Over across the way there are three other wrinkly undead looking things, Brother Crowley, Sister Hellena, and Sister Sangria, former plaguegivers. They are guarding something behind a curtain. Nabila asks Brother Zalem what it is. He replies that Aegecia is not asleep but HAS BEEN REBORN! In his revival, Aegecia has revived them, which explains the four empty sarcophagi we saw earlier.

Nabila, though, she’s not too sure of this. Brother Zalem asks her if she doubts him. She asks to see Aegecia’s mortal avatar. The priests pull back the curtain and reveal a floating orb with eyestalks and a milky central eyeball. It has been burned and charred. It’s also a beholder. Sindra hypothesizes that the beholder and the dragon got into it, and the beholder won, though just barely. It asks Nabila to come forward, and he tells how he knows Nabila and wants her to spread more disease in his name. Nabila says she will do anything for her god. Then the beholder tells brother Zalem to kill her slaves. Nabila tries to protest without directly going against her god’s orders.

Kasharin

Nabila says that this just isn’t right, and the beholder has Brother Zalem and his crew attack us. So we fight. A beholder and four bog mummies. The battle does not go so easily. We use our first barrel of exploding powder to blow up the beholder and take a chunk out of its health. It works but then it also charms Orlando and Granick and Kelvin to take Nabila and Sindra down. Sindra throws lotus powder at Orlando who has her subdued, and he becomes completely invulnerable to harm for an entire day. However, Sindra contracts a disease called bog rot from one of the mummies. Nabila throws lotus powder on Granick, but instead of becoming free of his bear hug, Granick falls asleep for 20 hours and collapses on top of Nabila in his heavy plate mail armor. Steady Jeb saves the day. We defeat the mummies and the beholder. Now we have some new drug addicts in the party, too. Yaay.

The large purple sphere looks like it was created to store something. There is a sliding door on it which opens to a small cubicle. Since Orlando is invulnerable, we send him to check it out. A faded image appears of a very old, old woman who looks like a witch with leprosy patches and warts and stringy hair. She talks to Nabila and says she’s the phantom charged with guarding the plaguesphere. It’s Shelly — or at least it looks like Shelly. She tells Nabila that she’s got some serious mommy issues. Within the sphere is an ancient artifact blessed by Aegecia himself and protected by a disease called “god rot.” Aegecia created god rot to get revenge on the people who betrayed him. The disease is powerful enough to kill a god. Nabila has to be considered worthy to retrieve the artifact from the sphere; she has to contract a disease that will kill her. Shelly looks at us and says that only one person in the group is considered worthy. The phantom disappears. Then it reappears and comments on Nabila’s clothes; they really don’t suit her. Then it disappears again. Only to reappear for a third time. The phantom Shelly says for us to not be stupid trying to retrieve the artifact.

While we’re waiting to figure out what to do, Nabila has her own purple lotus craving. She permanently believes she is the best looking person in the entire world. Then Nabila decides the only way in is to deliberately infect herself with a disease. We stress her out to the point that her inner Typhoid Mary kicks in, and she diseases herself. Then she goes into the sphere. Nothing happens. Then she tries to open the door to get to the artifact, and the phantom appears again. It sadly tells Nabila that she’s not worthy. A grate in the floor opens up and floods Nabila with a noxious gas, the god rot. Everything is quiet again.

The party went in another room to get away from the sphere, and Nabila has a few moments left to live with the knowledge that it didn’t work. Sindra rushes to hold her best friend as Nabila’s flesh and body starts to melt to goo. Her eyes are the last to go. Granick is disappointed Nabila didn’t leave a skull. Kelvin drops to his knees and wails. Jeb is quiet. Orlando has his head in his hands.

Somewhere in the outer planes between Hades and the Nine Hells where there’s diseased water and lots of vermin, a warrior in rainbow armor drops Nabila onto stinging grit. She gets to her feet and faces a throne made from gnarled and diseased wood. An imposing figure wearing tattered robe sits on the throne. He’s diseased and half dead. A person steps out of Aegecia’s shadow. It’s Shelly. She tells Nabila she didn’t want to see her so soon, at least not in the current circumstances. She is Aegecia’s voice and her words are his. He is disappointed to see Nabila there, and she has failed him but he still has work for her to do. Nabila says she will do anything to redeem herself. Shelly mentions the threat of Adivion Adrissant and his desire to end the world in ways that are not pleasant or even remotely sensible. She says Adrissant is a foolish mortal who wants to unleash the great old ones, the beast who blinded Aegecia, all of the Very Bad Things. Aegecia can handle one god but not all of the others. Meanwhile the other gods will not heed Aegecia’s warnings. Aegecia leans down and whispers in Shelly’s ear: he will send Nabila back but he will take the one thing that Nabila covets the most to remind her of her failure and her desperate need to succeed. Then everything goes white.

Sindra has the bog rot, the only one in the group with a disease that could mean she is worthy. Granick says Sindra should finish what Nabila started. Orlando says she should try to retrieve the artifact, too. Sindra is not having it because she doesn’t even want the stupid artifact, and she values her life too much to have her body painfully melt away. Only Jeb says nothing, as usual. She finally gives into their goading. She gives Jeb a kiss, and he assures her that everything will be fine.

She goes into the plaguesphere and nothing happens. Inside the small cubicle is a cloak stand and on the stand is a cloak, jet black. The bottom is frayed and torn, but the rest is immaculate. Her continuous detect magic spell blinds her for a long time. After her sight is restored, she takes the cloak and exits the sphere. Jeb is smiling, and Granick claps her on the back and says she’s not dead. Orlando tells her about the cloak, that it’s legendary, known as the Unholy Shroud of the First Prophetess. It is major swag.

We decide to get out of that awful shrine because Sindra needs a healer before the bog rot kills her. As we go outside, it’s night time. Sindra has an awful headache once she gets into the open air. Her insides are on fire. Something in her head tries to get out. She notices a full moon in the sky, and she begins to change — a tail grows out of her spine, she’s covered in hide and fur which is tiger striped. She’s contracted lycanthropy. She is now a weretiger, thanks to a wild surge from a few weeks back. Fortunately she has no bloodlust, and the lycanthropy completely nulls the bog rot so there is no need for a healer.

Jeb looks at Sindra, looks at the scratch on his arm, looks back at Sindra. In fact, everyone is looking at Sindra. She sheepishly says, “Meow?” Jeb asks if this is part of Sindra being a witch. Does he like it? And he’s staring at her boobs and responds, “Well, it’s different.” Rangers like animals.

So it dawns on us that we left Nabila’s stuff and our bag of holding down in the shrine, so we go back to fetch it. A fiery black shadow appears. It’s human shaped. Kelvin in his Blighted Helm says that it’s undead. Orlando remarks that the shadow is the same shape as Nabila was. We hear Nabila’s voice screaming and screaming. At the silence, the shadow takes flesh form, leathery, gaunt, stringy hair, looks like it’s been flayed alive and left out to rot. It’s Nabila. And she still thinks she’s the hottest thing ever.

Nabila has been returned to us as a lich, with eyes like black fire, though she is not a traditional lich with a phylactery. Kelvin is very upset by all this. How do they know for sure it’s Nabila? Sindra holds out the cloak to her. Nabila makes grabby hands for it and then asks Sindra if she wants to have sex. Yep, that’s Nabila all right. Sindra is always up for new and exciting ways to do the nasty, and necrophila is totally new to her. So the lich and the weretiger have screaming orgasmic sex off in a corner somewhere.

Orlando furiously writes stuff down, and then we explore the rest of the dungeon.

The rest of the rooms, two on each side, are modest living quarters. One room is full of ancient sex toys like a ball gag, a paddle, clamps, and a nasty, encrusted magazine called “Moist Caves” which features and orc and a harpy getting it on. Nabila and Sindra send the boys away and they go at it again, to the Moist Caves of Sindra’s Underdark. Another room, belonging to Hellena, contains a diary of the daily life in the shrine. One entry stands out to Nabila about an acolyte named Jezebel who was impregnated by Crowley (hence the sex toys) and decides to name her child Shelly. It is thought that the child of a Plaguegiver and an acolyte will be quite powerful. Nabila bitterly rips that page from the journal and crumples it up. The other two rooms on the west side have nothing interesting in them. The southwest room has balconies and pillars and a vestibule and is the proper entry into the shrine. The standing stones outside are directly above. There is a door to the south but it’s covered with a slab of rock. There’s a door behind it, but we can’t reach it.

Now we decide we’ve had enough of the shrine so we leave, gathering up samples of blight water. Nabila traps some doors. As we head out, Spectral Shelly reappears and apologizes to Nabila, that Nabila had to find out the hard way about what happened to Shelly long ago. She was young and beautiful and full of life. She wanted a child to give back to Aegecia for all the gifts he had given her. She wanted her own special plaguegiver to rid the world of sin. She tells us a story. She and Professor Elias hooked up. Jago was sent to study abroad, but the ship he was on became infested with rats that brought a plague with them. He was the only survivor, and Shelly thought he would make a wonderful babydaddy.

Shelly decided she wanted to try to get the Unholy Shroud from the plaguesphere, but it also killed her. Aegecia gave her another chance but took her womb, also making her a plague lich, so no plaguebaby would ever be born. What Aegecia did give her was a small child from the village of Essen. The plague in Essen was her doing because she tried to destroy a demon in an old Whispering Way hideout. Her plague escaped the room from a crack in the ceiling and blew downwind to Essen. She says she sent Nabila Oleander, an acolyte whom she picked out and trained herself, to be the father of a pure plaguebaby boy. But Nabila blew it — was she waiting on romance? She admits that her lessons to Nabila shouldn’t have been so cryptic, but she wanted Nabila to grow up to be an independent woman who can think for herself. Shelly says if there was anything in the world she loved, it’s Nabila. She admonishes Nabila to keep the mage close and that she would learn ways to hide her true self from others. She also says for Nabila not to go near any good, frou frou gods’ temples because it won’t be nice. Nabila tries to touch Shelly’s face and tells her, “I love you.” Shelly leaves and Sindra hugs Nabila. Nabila tries to cry, but can’t because she’s undead and doesn’t really have eyes any more. It just hurts a lot.

We’ve had enough of Hag’s Breath for now, so we leave and hunt down those stupid elves who took our money for the road tax. We want our 50gp back, dammit!

Shangfatal

So we fight. Sindra wild surges: a magic mouth appears, insults her, and then disappears. Nabila finds a nubile high elf chick and rips the soul out of her body, a la Shang Tsung. Sindra has yet another wild surge and a log cabin appears. We defeat the elves and burn their bodies and all their elven livery to get rid of the evidence. Sindra tells Jeb it would be a shame to waste that log cabin, but he tells her that she and her undead girlfriend (who is now a dirty elf) should go use the cabin. Sindra asks him if he doesn’t like her anymore, but he says he needs some time. She winks and tells him not to wait too long. Then Nabila takes Kelvin into the cabin and they go at it. He loses his virginity properly, but he doesn’t last very long. Kelvin has banged a hot elf chick and his mistress, who is undead. The poor boy’s done been corrupted good now. Bless.

Loot:

Unholy Shroud of the First Prophetess
two-handed sword +2
50gp
ancient sex toys and crusty orc/ harpy porn

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Session Twenty-Six: Blight Water Blades and the Poisoned Shrine
"The Skullf*cking Half Orc from the Iron Reaches": Now with more smut.

We find our adventurers facing a tough decision. Nabila ordered Kelvin to slaughter an unarmed kobold. Kelvin did not kill it, instead telling the kobold to run because it surrendered and couldn’t defend itself. Nabila was not pleased with this insubordination. She whispers something in Kelvin’s ear that makes his facial expressions change from shocked to confused. Jeb tells Kelvin he did the right thing, but if it had been bugbears, that would be different. Nabila asks Jeb why he hates bugbears so much, and he shows her scars on his chest. That’s why he hates bugbears.

Circular spiked fences dot either side of the interior of the fortress. Each contain a pit about twenty feet deep with starved and gaunt humans, elves, and even halflings in the mud and clothed in rags. Some of them who are not quite dead call out to us. We have yet another tough decision to make. Kind-hearted Sindra and Kelvin win out. Sindra casts Tenser’s Disc and ferries Kelvin into the pit to rescue as many people as he can. They are too shellshocked to care. The ones who looked like warriors had their thumbs cut off while the mage-type prisoners have been blinded. There are about twenty survivors and nabila manages to murder four of them with botched healing checks. One man able to speak to us was a warrior named Joric who lived in Sudendorf. He says all of them were sacrifices. He gives Sindra a wary look and stops talking. She hands him her wineskin, he gulps it down, and then is freer with his information. He said a drow female was sacrificing people and making weapons. All they want to do is go home.

Nabila wants to leave them to die but Sindra persuades her to cast Create Food and Water for them by offering barrels of explosive powder and some bow chicka wow wow time later. Nabila casts healing spells on the survivors, they have food to eat, and then we find the drow’s body to interrogate her. Why was she sacrificing people? She says SHE was not. What were people being sacrificed to? She responds, “The Blight.” Nabila asks “What blight?” and the drow cackles at her and falls silent. Nabila stabs her in the eye. Now Nabila is covered in day-and-a-half old eye juice. Which is yellow. Sindra goes down on Nabila that evening. All of the men are hiding in the bushes watching, but we don’t notice. The survivors are watered and fed at least.

The next day we check out the forge in the center of the fortress. We set off a fire trap, and the room we enter is loaded with crates, barrels, and casks with wax seals with the stamp of a wickedly spiked crown over a mountain. Most of it is dried food stuffs, tools, cheap weapons, cheap wine, and barrels of oil. It’s worth keeping and sending back to Enkelhofen for the townsfolk.

The forge is not in use, but it’s still hot inside. There are unfinished weapons, and Granick notices that the craftsmanship is Orcish. There are two finished blades resting on sheepskin, and Nabila asks Jeb if he can craft some condoms out of the sheepskin since he makes his own armor. Jeb doesn’t think it’s natural, and he refuses to use condoms anyhow. This conversation goes on for twenty minutes.

The forge lets out to the back of the fortress where a few outbuildings sit. One building is a barracks of sorts filled with moldy hay, rotting skins, and thirty kobolds begging us not to kill them. They know that we are stronger than the drow female. We interrogate a spokeskobold who tells us what the drow was doing — making weapons infused with blight water. The blight water is located a drowning pool in a ravine outside. The kobold mentions a poison coming from a temple and says the temple is very evil and we don’t need to go there. But, of course, that’s exactly where we’re headed. Sindra asks if the kobolds have any treasure, they tell us where it is, and she lets them go. Which may have been a bad idea in hindsight.

The gnolls took the kobolds’ treasure, so we check out the gnolls’ building. It’s filthy, destroyed by reveling gnolls. Rotten corpses are pinned to the wall and used for target practice. We find loose bags of treasure underneath the beds: gold, silver, jewels and a unicorn horn which cures light wounds twice a day.

We see some scaffolding and a platform built over a ravine, which is where the blight water is collected. The ravine looks like an unnatural wound cut into the swamp and it produces a warm, sticky heat. We can’t see to the bottom because there is some kind of fog obscuring the view. Nabila says it feels like home. Somehow the conversation shifts to Granick and his predilection for skull fucking. Orlando wants to know where he got that kink. Granick says dead is dead, and he likes humanoid skulls because other things have sharp teeth. “You learn once.”

The last building has no windows and one door. Sindra Knocks the door off its hinges. It has a lavishly decorated antechamber with demonic pictures. The demons don’t depict anything, but it’s just shabby demon chic meant to look impressive and scary. The paint chips off on Orlando’s fingers. The archway leads to a kitchen with foodstuffs, and beyond that are three doors. The door on the left is a bedroom with an ornate locked chest covered in glowing blue sigils. The next bedroom smells like flowers and has a writing desk. A tapestry with eldritch runes and sigils hangs on the wall. Sindra notices the designs belong to an obscure cult who worships Dirthspar, the drow Spider King. The desk has an unfinished letter written on vellum. The letter tells of the progress of the blight weapon making and excavation into the Aegecian temple. The author of the letter says there’s no dragon, but there is a plague of some sort that has affected the drowning pool. The lizardfolk are a nuisance. And the “trinkets” of the plaguegivers are absolutely useless. Angry, Nabila pulls out the drow bitch’s skull and stabs the other eye. Then she gives it to Granick.

In the next door is a laboratory full of corpses and herbs, shrunken heads, glowing globes full of vapors, scrolls, musty tomes, and a massive dark cauldron filled with eyeballs and bubbling green ichor. A drow elf and a goblin look surprised to see us. Sindra looks surprised to see the drow elf. It’s her sister Mayraena. Mayraena is a horrible person, but she has a nice rack, just like her elder sister. She threatens Sindra immediately, says she’s going to kill Sindra and send her body back to the Underdark so they can learn the secrets of Sindra’s wild magic. She says their mother negotiated with the Temple of Flayne and put out the bounty on us seven years ago. But then we were “presumed” dead and got away. The little goblin slave beside her recognizes Granick and says he’s a powerful warrior and she should be careful. Mayraena doesn’t mind and says he will make an excellent slave. Sindra tells her that’s not going to happen because when May is dead, her friend Granick is going to fuck her skull. More heated words are exchanged and then we fight.

It is a tough battle, full of summoned crystal oozes that only take half damage. Sindra duels Mayraena and has a wild surge. Fortunately it’s a powerful, beneficial wild surge as her sister gets fried by a lightning bolt. Sindra taunts her, “HOW DO YOU LIKE MY WILD MAGIC NOW?!” and the crazy bitch summons a wyvern. A wyvern with a save or die type F poison-tipped tail. Granick and Kelvin make quick work of the wyvern, while Nabila and Orlando and Jeb provide support from a distance. Sindra runs after her cowardly sister and finishes her off with magic missiles. (Sindra – 2; sisters – nil) Sindra holds her sister’s corpse to her ample chest and cries her eyes out because that’s another sister dead. Jeb half asses an attempt to console her, but the biggest celebration is for Kelvin Wickworth who decapitates the wyvern and sends its head flying.

There are plans for an orgy after we loot the stuff. Orlando politely declines, still pining over his wife Deja and probably thinks it’s a little weird to be boinking his sister-in-law. Jeb is aghast at the idea of an orgy. Granick says Kelvin deserves his fun since it’s his first time. Kelvin has eyes only for Nabila, so Sindra drags her mountain man to another bedroom. Nabila gives Kelvin everything he wants from buttsecks to titfucks but not proper sex. Their romping is on the level with “somebody could get hurt/nasty.” Nabila is very sore the next day, but Kelvin is over the moon and his confidence shows. (Sindra and Jeb do it missionary, piledriver, and scissors.)

There’s still that blue sigil’d chest that needs opening, so we unceremoniously reanimate May’s body and have her disable the trap. But the chest is empty. (The DM calls it the chest of red herring distraction.) Sindra keeps what’s left of Mayraena’s bones for old time’s sake.

Nabila notices a scratch on Jeb’s arm and inquires about it. He says he could have cut his arm in the fight or maybe Sindra was a little rough. But he’s not bothered. Kelvin walks over. He asks Jeb not to hit on his girlfriend. Nabila rolls her eyes and wonders what she’s done, says firmly to Kelvin that she’ll talk to whomever she pleases. Put in his place, Kelvin asks if they can do it again. She tells him maybe. Good enough.

The next room is spartan with an enormous bedroll where the half ogre thing we killed was sleeping. There are scrolls on the wall that teach how to make exotic armor and weapons. We nick those scrolls. Then there’s a dark workshop filled with supplies for sharpening and hanging weapons. The south room is a vault with four iron chests with different locks on them. One lock is a goblin, a demon, a dragon, and a man with his eyes sewn shut. The goblin chest is trapped. The others are filled with wonderful loot. The screaming man contains a helmet called the Blighted Helm, which was a “trinket” of the plaguegivers. Sindra wild surges while trying to cast Knock on the goblin chest. For an entire month, she casts Detect Magic FOR FREE. The higher the magical enchantment on the item, the brighter it is, and it blinds her for 1d4 rounds. We reanimate the goblin’s body and have him set of the trap, which is a poison gas trap, aaaaaaand the chest is empty.

We check out the platform, which is covered in gore. We see manacles pinned to railing with thick nails, blood letting tools sheathed in flayed skin, an iron maiden with a gruesome undead face decorating the front. An evil wind blows up from the ravine, and Nabila loves it. As far as we can gather Mayraena was using the poisoned water from the ravine in forging blight blades with the goal of arming SOMEONE, though we do not know who the weapons are for.

We use the lift that is surrounded by scaffolding and go down to the ravine. The temperature rises sharply. Sindra Tenser’s Granick over to the next outcropping of rock so he can scout for us. There are two doors, one to the north which is completely sealed, and one to the south. The south door has been nailed open with iron spikes. A decayed goblin corpse has been nailed to the ground with a spike. This is the back entrance into the shrine, yaay. Tapestries hang on the north and south walls. The south wall has distressed me and women in various states of dying discomfort while the northern tapestry has a warrior in crimson armor holding his hands out like he’s casting an evil spell on the southern tapestry. Granick’s new armor looks strangely familiar. An unfinished statue of a muscular man stands guard at the next door. The statue has an inscription detailing the great warrior Sartan who was a disciple of Aegecia who brought plague to Ottelstadt. His clothes and blade are kept in the temple as a tribute, and he stands watch over the shrine and protects those within. Except all his stuff is gone.

The next room is a meditation chamber that has been ruined from hundreds of years of disuse. The next room has dusty bookshelves and a stone bust of Aegecia that makes Nabila gasp like a fangirl. Sindra finds a magic scroll amongst the stuff on the bookshelves; it’s a cleric scroll of Wither. Most of the books are damaged but we manage to salvage a book about astrology and a leatherbound folio containing the rantings of a psychotic person who called himself the Scourge of the West. Nabila makes grabby hands for it. The book has a recipe for a type J poison called “horsemouth” which makes the poor victim foam at the mouth and fall over dead after a few days. There is an old piece of vellum with half a transcript on it, written by Bastian Elias, who Sindra knows is Professor Jago Elias’ grandfather.

Another room is a small ossuary with opened and emptied sarcophagi. Further south is a hallway with a giant boulder blocking a doorway. The builders simply stopped building. Granick easily pushes the boulder out of the way, and we find ourselves inside a large natural cavern. In front of us we see gigantic and awesome in the truest sense of the word remains of…a dragon. There are charred and blackened stones all around the area. But what can kill a dragon?

We check out a room to the north and IT’S THE DRAGON’S TREASURE TROVE. It knocks Sindra out it’s so bright and shiny. She asks Nabila to lead her into the piles of coins and swims in it like Scrooge MacDuck. In fact, we all go swimming in it because whatever’s next is going to kill us.

After looting the loot we enter a large rust colored chapel. A giant spherical object in the center of the room glows purple. There are ruined pews, an altar, tapestries hanging on the walls. A man approaches us with skin like tanned leather. To say he’s decrepit is an understatement. He welcomes Nabila as Sister and says Aegecia has foreseen her arrival.

Loot:

dried foodstuffs, tools, cheap weapons, cheap wine, barrels of oil for Enkelhofen
bastard sword and long sword (need to detect magic or ID)
sheepskin
256gp 788sp
three peridot stones, small, 60gp
unicorn horn; CLW 2x day (Sindra)
Dirthspar tapestry, 200gp (Sindra)
five vellum pages (Sindra)
ALCHEMY LABORATORY!
Dirthspar holy symbol, 150gp (Sindra)
gold ioun stone in circlet; +1 AC, +4 to death magic (Nabila)
bag o’ powdered blight (Nabila)
morningstar of venom +1; save vs poison or suffer 10 pts of poison damage
wand of the underdark; once per turn: darkness 30ft, silence, or detect magic (Sindra)
chest of red herring distraction; large chest, 25 lbs.
scrolls on exotic armor and weapon making; uses 1 NWP slot each
10 golden rods, 100gp each
50 uncut bloodstones
cleric scroll of wither (Nabila)
book about astrology; uses 1 NWP slot
folio by Scourge of the West; Horsemouth type J poison (Nabila)
1,000 pp 9,000gp 4,000sp 6,000cp
decorative silver sword with velvet wrapped hilt, 250gp
gold idol of winged demon ripping out a heart, 800gp
black sapphire
3 ambers, 100gp each
8 cut ambers, 10gp each
2 brown tourmalines, 100gp each
potion of ventroliquism (Granick)
oil of impact
trollfang dagger +2; +3 to large creatures (Jeb)
Alzheimer’s Magic Scroll (Sindra)
vorpal longsword +3; roll a 19 or 20 to decapitate (Kelvin)
wand of reincarnation (Nabila)
robe of stars (Sindra)
The Blighted Helm — made of dark metallic blight with no visor. Wearer sees ethereal plane, can attack at spiritual center which doubles crit range. Grants wearer +2 atk. Disadvantages: -2 CHA, cannot be healed while wearing and takes one full round to remove. (KELVIN!)

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Session Twenty-Five: Through the Kobold Grinder
Would you like some tea? Would you like sugar? How many lumps? Would you like sugar?

Tarkin Holk has asked to see Nabila at the temple. As she is walking along, she experiences a strange yet familiar sensation of being watched. It feels almost like someone is scrying on her. She waves. In the temple of Jhannis, Tarkin asks Nabila if she’s felt the sensations, like someone is watching them. She asks him who he thinks could be spying on them. He says he isn’t sure. And he also says passionately that he’s worried that a man his age is smitten with a woman of her age. She tells him it’s not unusual. He admits to her that his emotions run wild when she’s around. They should get married.

The temple doors fly open and Kelvin storms in. Sindra is behind him, munching on popcorn. Even Granick comes in, though he’s more interested in polishing his grobrot. Kelvin says he was eavesdropping. He’s in love with Nabila, and he wants to marry her. Nabila gives him the death stare and walks away. As she’s making her way to the door, she bumps into a man wearing a tattered cloak. He tells her that he and Tres are living happily ever after. He would never give her a child because she disgusts him.

Then Nabila wakes up.

As our adventurers make their way to Hag’s Breath, they encounter a group of elves armed with swords and bows. One elf, wearing an insignia on his armor to display his rank, asks us what we’re doing on the road. Orlando does the talking and says we’re simple travelers. The elf asks us if we paid our road tax. The road tax keeps the roads of Turin safe, and there hasn’t been any trouble in over a year. The tax is 50gp for each person. We bristle at the thought of having to pay a bunch of stinkin’ elves that much money, but we’re not really in the mood for a fight. To make small talk while our receipts are written out, Nabila tells the elf that we’re on our way to Marrathion. They laugh and think it’s funny. Nabila asks why. Marrathion was destroyed several hundred years ago during the great war with Tar’Baphon. Curiouser and curiouser. The elves give us our receipts and tell us we can expect to be well protected when we use King Turin’s roads for the next year. Sindra adds them to the party hit list in her mind.

After more travelling, we reach Hag’s Breath, a swamp. It’s humid and sticky. Moss and algae grow everywhere, and off in the distance we can see swarms of bats. Jeb tells everyone to halt because he sees movement in the grass. He and the half-orc go to check it out. A group of snarling lizard folk with stone hammers and hide shields attempt to ambush us. We attack and slaughter the group.

A thick fog hangs over the swamp, and the sun puts out a weak red glow. The stench of rot and death permeates everything. We see standing stones, a thin trail of smoke coming from a mud hut, and a dense cloud of soot up a hill covering a fortress. We check out the treehouse first. It’s a derelict shack leaning against a tree. The door creaks open and a voice tells us to come in and rest. Nabila asks who it is, and he says he’s just an old man who has lived there for a while. He invites us in, and Sindra takes his invitation instead of being rude and standing outside. He’s cooking something in a boiling cauldron. Bones and humanoid skulls are stacked in a pyramid against the wall and one skull has an unlit black candle in the eye socket. It’s gross and dirty inside. The guy is ancient and withered, with milky eyes and wrinkled skin that hangs off his body. He adds insect wings to the cauldron. Sindra asks him what he’s making because she’s an alchemist. Maybe they could swap recipes or something. He says he’s making root tea, and he sniffs the air. He says Sindra is a dark elf. There’s a dark elf witch in the fortress. Would Sindra like some tea? She takes the tea so he’ll stop asking. The cup is greasy and the tea inside doesn’t look much better. Nabila also takes a cup of tea, takes a tiny sip, and doesn’t fall over dead.

He asks us if we’re there to fight the witch queen. She’s harming the swamp. And for the first time he gets angry. He says he’s putting together an army to stop her evil. Would we like to join his army? Nabila says no but we would like to stop the witch queen. He’s not pleased with this answer. His cauldron begins to bubble over and four blight water elementals emerge.

We fight. We fight and make very stupid decisions which get Jeb killed. We manage to escape, though Jeb’s body is still in the hut. Sindra is screaming and hysterical, and Orlando attempts to shut her up before Swamp Thing comes out and attacks us for all her shouting. Meanwhile Kelvin walks up to Granick and offers to show him some moves. Kelvin has finesse, see, and is turning out to be a decent fighter.

We rest up. The next day we load Granick down with the Shinobi Defender and a +1 hand axe that will actually do damage to the elementals. Granick notices a pubic hair in the hilt of the ninjato. Before we go in, we load ourselves down with buff spells. Sindra has a wild surge while attempting to cast blur on herself but nothing happens. We destroy the elementals, and Orlando casts unseen servant to drag Jeb outside. Fortunately Nabila has a scroll of raise dead, and she uses it to bring Jeb back to life. Jeb is quiet and sullen for a time. Sindra fawns all over him, happy he’s all right, her protector. She can’t stand how sad he is so she pulls him behind some bushes and ravages him for 23 minutes at “someone could get hurt” level. He falls asleep with a stupid grin on his face.

Standing stones

Sooooo. The horses refuse to go in the standing stones. All animals seem to avoid the area. The stones are about four or five feet wide, seven to eight feet high. One stone has an inscription, which Orlando reads: MOSCADOR — resting place of persecuted pilgrims. In this unclaimed land we worship our divine creator and guardian in peace. Everyone seems uncomfortable and wigged about this, save Nabila. Of course. One of the standing stones is smaller than the other and Nabila examines it. She finds a switch and presses it, but nothing happens. Sindra’s girdle of dwarven kind says there was a landslide and the underground shaft collapsed. Because we can’t figure out what to do next, the DM railroads us and tells us to go to the fortress.

Before we get there we hear clanging and crashing of tortured metal, screams and groans of the dying. We cross a bridge going uphill and reach a gatehouse made of stone and timber. Sindra uses her spyglass and says there are gnolls and kobolds stalking the parapets. Small watch platforms shaped like spider legs are decorated with skulls and war banners which have blood-red skulls on them.

The plan is to send Sindra and Jeb up a watchtower using the spider climb spell. Then they would do crowd control by sleeping the kobolds. Except it didn’t happen because Sindra tripped over some brambles and Jeb had to catch her. The kobolds blow a horn and our cover is blown. So we have to fight swarm after swarm of kobolds who do more damage to Granick by relentlessly poking him with spears. A big ogre comes out to play baseball with Granick’s head, and the drow bitch is slaughtered before she can be too much trouble.

Da lewtz:

2,800cp
3 rawhide scrolls: illegible recipes for soups and teas; a journal with the hermit’s insane ramblings; a scroll of minor malaison (Sindra)
shortsword covered in wight oil
two vials of wight oil (1d8 strength damage, heals only by magical healing or 24 hours rest)
suit of field platemail armor +3 (deep maroon color, base AC -1) (Granick)
thundering greatsword +1: every successful strike results in a deafening clap of thunder. save vs. spell or be deaf for ten rounds as per deafness spell)

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Session Twenty-Four: Welcome to Anklehofen. Just sit still a minute...
Skullf*ckers Anonymous

Good ole Kelvin is on the watch for some reason — who let him out of his cage? — and he sees one person heading up from the south, towards our adventurers. The farmhouse beside us is up in flames, and this huge gray-skinned bald guy walks up like stuff in conflagration form is normal. He asks us where the tavern is. Nabila tells him it isn’t open. Nothing in this town is open. He says he’s been tracking something that was taken from him and he’s looking for pirates, for Sven. We just killed some pirates, Sven among them, and he wants to know if we’ve seen something large, red, and shiny as big as this guy’s fist.

It’s a big ass fist. So we tell him that we haven’t seen anything. Sindra asks him what his name is and he sniffs her, says she smells like an elf. He’s astute. His name is Granick, and he wants beer and that shiny thing. We decide to break into a tavern, rest up, take some beer, and then chase after the direction of the smoke on the beach.

The next day we go to the beach and find four campfires extinguished and a ship anchored in the bay. As we walk along the cliffs, we hear grunting noises. Sexual grunting noises, and Nabila says hi. Then we hear a gasping sound, someone pulling up their pants, a whip cracking, and a wolf howling. A tall ugly individual looks like Granick, with orcish features though he’s larger than Granick. This guy has a whip and some feral wolves behind him. Also there’s a human female in a state of shock, completely catatonic, teetering on the edge of a cliff, her clothes are ripped and tattered, and she doesn’t seem to mind.

Granick says he wants the girl, but the orog won’t give her up. So without thinking about repercussions, Granick pulls an Ohda and attacks the orog. Granick tears the guy to pieces. Absolute bloody-chunked pieces.

Sindra runs over to the girl and asks if she’s all right. The girl’s name is Gertrude and her husband was the miller. She says she hasn’t seen him but he was probably one of the lucky ones who got to follow the song. Sindra wants to take her someplace safe, but Jeb says that she’s suffering and it’s better to kill her than to let her suffer. Granick doesn’t agree, that the girl seems bewitched. Nabila casts dispel magic to see if there is any sort of bewitching going on, and nothing happens, except the potions this orog was carrying are useless. So we give them to Granick to drink, and he’s happy for the moment. We take Gertrude over to the jail so she can’t do anything to hurt herself while we’re gone. We leave her some food and a chamberpot, and Nabila wants to leave her some rope or a dagger so Gertrude can off herself. Sindra won’t allow this so she chooses to stay the night with Gertrude. Jeb stays, too, at Sindra’s request.

Meanwhile Nabila asks Orlando where he got his sais. He tells her that a friend gave them to him about seven or eight years ago. The friend came from across the seas, from a small island nation. He was a great warrior, but they parted company, and he doesn’t know what happened to the guy. He talked about some great quest he had to go on, to hunt down some inbred kinfolk and stop him from causing trouble. This sounds very familiar to Nabila, and she shows Orlando Ohda’s swords, Nakahara’s Blade and Shinobi Defender. Orlando looks upset because those were Rasetsu’s swords. And did we kill Ray-ray and let the inbred cousin live? Yes. But we killed him, too.

Nabila asks Orlando to go with her to the Temple of Jhannis with the orphanage attached where Nabila used to live as a child. Nabila takes some holy water from a fountain, and turns it into Unholy Water. There’s also a scroll of raise dead she pockets. Nabila wants to do some scrying. Orlando asks her if she has looked for her sister Deja. Nabila shakes her head; either Deja is dead or she’s somewhere else. It’s not much comfort for Orlando. He takes his wineskin and walks away to give Nabila privacy.

Nabila finds some water and checks on Corben. She sees him sitting at a desk in a poshly furnished room, and he’s writing something. He also has a mustache. Because he’s older.

Later, Granick says something about Zargos being unhappy and the girl on the big galley won’t be happy because we killed her brother. Kelvin, dear, sweet Kelvin, tells Granick that he did it, that he killed Sven. Nabila pats him on the back and says he did a good job. Kelvin blushes.

The next morning, we check out the beach to find the tents and campfires. We find several dozen rotting bodies of humans. The galley is still anchored in the bay. A merchant ship is tied to the galley and it looks worse for wear. Sindra uses the spyglass to see what’s happening on the warship. She sees movement, humans, and two giant ballistae pointed at the beach in the exact direction we would try to board the ship. Granick is ranting about the bitch on the ship who seduced him. She tied him up and took his grobrot, his large red shiny thing.

We spend a lot of time thinking about how to get on the galley. We decide to have a diversion first. Nabila reanimates some corpses and gives them simple instructions to set some stuff on fire when they hear a loud boom, supplied by Orlando in the form of an audible glamer. Then we take a rowboat and row to the back of the ship, behind the ballistae, Granick climbs up while Sindra casts Tenser’s disc and carries up herself, Nabila, and Orlando. Down in the rowboat are Kelvin and Jeb, and after dropping off Nabila and Orlando, Sindra picks them up.

The first part of the plan goes fine. The crew are distracted by the fires on the beach and they fire the ballistae at the beach. Everyone boards the vessel and Granick and Jeb messily take out Sven’s sister Inge and the crewmen. Kelvin helped.

We check below deck and find about 100 people chained up. They are residents of Enkelhofen to be sold as slaves elsewhere. Sindra is passionate about freeing them because they can pay taxes, yeaaaaaah, and it takes the good part of the day to free the prisoners and ferry them back to shore. We rest up on the ship and then decide to check out the officer’s quarters for Granick’s shiny red thing and any other loot we can find. We find Granick’s grobrot in a chest, and he is happy again.

After reaching the shore with everyone unloaded, an old man in white robes approaches us. He asks us if we were responsible for freeing the town. We say yes. He tells us he is a cleric of Jhannis named Tarkin Holk. (BROTHER!) Nabila looks familiar to him, and he recognizes her from the orphanage. Then he gets down to beating around the bush about business. The magistrate is dead and there’s no one to rebuild the town. Would we mind working for him? Uh, no. But he can work for us.

So after some planning, Nabila meets with him alone to discuss a silent partnership and spikes his drink with a philter of love. Now he will do whatever Nabila asks, and Enkelhofen is ours.

Loot:

whip
three destroyed potions for Granick to drink like alcohol
four javelins
cold iron Zargos holy symbol
five healing potions
five light crossbows
25 bolts +1
six suits hide armor
six scimitars
two bottles rum
spyglass (not cracked)
large shield +1, +4 vs missiles (Kelvin)
ring of courtly etiquette
elven chainmail armor AC 5 (Sindra!)
potion of extra healing (Granick)
potion of levitation (Nabila)
potion of waterbreathing (Jeb)
aquamarine (fake)
garnet (100gp)
two jets (100gp)
Granick’s grobrot, which is a key to a crypt somewhere
1,014gp
2,083sp
OUR VERY OWN TOWN!

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Session Twenty-Three: Shoot For the Knee!
All along the watchtower. Or, He's moderately unconscious.

We find our adventurers on the way to Enkelhofen. It’s been kind of rainy, so Nabila wanders off to scry on some people in a puddle. When she returns, she tells Sindra about Oleander and Tres. Oleander is having nightmares that Nabila may or may not be causing. That’s all she said about him. And Tres, it turns out, is still wearing slutty clothes, and now she’s in charge of Schwarzwald. Oh boy. While we’re waiting around, Sindra asks Kelvin to take off his shirt and flex his muscles, but he thinks she’s joking. She’s not. So he removes his shirt and does some push ups on the soggy ground, while Jeb walks away to take a leak.

It’s midafternoon when we reach Enkelhofen. It’s quiet, too quiet for the end of the workday. The main gate is unmanned and no guards stand around guarding anything. Off in the distance we can hear the sound of waves rolling along the shore. Jeb says something ain’t right, and we follow him into town. We reach a drawbridge that has no guard rails, and the corpse of an old woman is sprawled out in the pit, her neck broken. Nabila slips down into the pit, casts Speak with Dead on her, and tries to find out what happened to the town. The old woman says that last night a sad, sad song (obviously Tear in My Beer) caused her to run away and that’s when she fell and broke her neck. She doesn’t know who sang the song, but she says she felt despair and that was it before she died.

Close to the center of town we find boxes stacked up like they’ve been looted from homes and shops. We hear noises and see these half-ogre, half-giant creatures called verbeegs going through the boxes of stuff. Well, we like stuff too, so we want to know what they’re doing, but it ends up in a fight. During the middle of the fight, Sindra has a wild surge. A barrel of syrup appears over Nabila’s head and dumps all over her. Whoops. When we’ve disposed of the verbeegs, a centaur appears from a nearby building, he doesn’t look happy, and then suddenly he flies off to the west.

Monsters b c.centaur

We loot the verbeegs’ bodies, but they don’t have anything worthwhile, and then we go through the looted stuff for things of interest. While we’re looting, we hear humming coming from the jail. We head over to the jail to see that the door is wide open, and there’s a man sitting inside a cell. Sindra uses Whispering Wind to send him a message: if he is Orlando the Bard, stop humming and give us a sign. A moment later, the humming stops and a pinkish piece of cloth waves from a window. We go in the jail and Orlando asks us if we are the rescue party or another slaver outfit. He says he’s not really fit for slaving. Oh, a witty one he is!

Sindra asks him if he knows anything about the singing and the dead woman in the pit. He says this crazy singing started up and it drove everyone mad. The lawful cleric steps up and picks the lock on Orlando’s cell. He says the cleric is both talented and beautiful, and then goes in a storage room to pick up a pouch that looks familiar to a pouch Nabila carries with her.

We interrogate Orlando. Why is he in jail? Because he killed someone and the elven magistrate in charge doesn’t believe in capital punishment, so he sent Orlando to jail to rot. He’s been in jail for weeks. The guy Orlando killed had information he needed. His name was Marcucio Baldini, a member of the King’s Players. The Players took his wife from him, but he won’t say who. Nabila asks Orlando if he knows anything about her sister Deja. He says yes, that Deja was, is his wife. He is Nabila’s brother-in-law. Sindra is so excited that Nabila finally has family, she wants to group hug everyone. Orlando asks Nabila if this is normal for Sindra or if Sindra is just crazy. Yep, normal. And apparently Deja was normal, too. Normal before Adivion Adrissant and the King’s Players took her away and screwed her up. We know what happened after the King’s Players’ performance and so does Orlando. No need to dwell on it.

So we head to the west to the old watchtower after Orlando tells us the singing will start up again once night falls. Jeb finds loads of tracks, both human and elven, going off in the direction of the watchtower which is a tall narrow structure that looks completely out of place among the rolling hills and valleys. It looks like an Indian burial mound now, but Nabila remembers it being a watchtower when she was a child.

The path to the watchtower is steep and treacherous, and Sindra casts Cat’s Grace on herself an Nabila so they can make the trek easier. This doesn’t really matter as Kelvin sets off a trap of rolling logs and they flatten us, regardless of our heightened dex scores. After getting ourselves back in order, we decide to light a torch but send it in front of ourselves to draw fire from whatever’s lurking in the darkness that no one can see other than Sindra. As usual, Sindra instructs everyone to move out of the way while she casts Levitate and Faery Fire on the torch. Orlando makes a comment about Sindra’s wild magic and mentions the Forbidden Zone that was her doing like he was impressed with her mad (random) skillz. In front of us we see an old campsite and soon afterwards an arrow from straight ahead snuffs out the torch. Orlando shushes us and says he hears hooves coming towards us. The centaur casts a spell on himself and Sindra fireballs his horse butt. He didn’t like that and Dimension Doors himself out of the way.

We continue farther up the hill and find a scene of horror as dozens of bodies lay strewn and scattered around the trees. Terror on faces. Heads and spines disconnected. The centaur is drinking a potion. A large black, leafless tree radiates a gloomy twilight, and we all feel really sad. The tree stomps towards us, and Jeb looks terrified. Orlando starts singing, and Sindra fireballs the centaur while the rest of the party tries to take out the tree. Orlando and Sindra are knocked out, Jeb uses his Will to Live ability, Kelvin runs away screaming for his mommy, and the tree is majorly pissed that Jeb isn’t dead yet.

Night twist

When the battle is won, Nabila botches a healing check on Sindra, and Jeb shoves Nabila out of the way and stabilizes Sindra himself. Shoves. Nabila’s healing checks on Orlando give him minor boosts of health, but he is still unconscious with each check and healing spell. Jeb says the tree is a “night twist,” and it came out of the portal in Vogelbrucke. Nature is going to hell, basically, with druid elves torturing trees and now a nature loving centaur being friends with a whomping willow that sings sad songs and eats people.

After Orlando regains consciousness the next day, he regales us with a tale about the watchtower and a battle between the elves and humans that ended up burying the watchtower under some elven earth magic. Jeb sees campfire smoke coming from the beach, and Sindra has another wild surge while trying to ID some magical items. Sindra spends the best six minutes of her life debating the use and application of wild magic with a talking spear. We take another day to rest up, this time going to an abandoned farm just southeast of the watchtower, and have campfire time. Sindra kisses Jeb on the cheek for trying to protect her even though he says it didn’t matter because she was knocked out anyway. Orlando tells us a story about Haggar and the Dire Shark, while Nabila chafes, and Kelvin continues to feel sorry for himself for running away, which was probably the only thing that kept him alive. Orlando will not talk to Nabila about Deja, but he does mention that he had sex with her without protection, and after all that Nabila has done, that is the one thing that upsets her more than anything else: someone boinking her sister, regardless of married status.

Jeb bounds into the farmhouse and says some sailors are headed this way, armed with scimitars and crossbows. We stay in the farmhouse for protection, and Jeb answers the door. They ask for someone named Cyralane to come out because they’ve seen the fire. Orlando guesses Cyralane is the centaur, and he’s right. Nabila says we’ve killed the centaur and the tree, and the sailors talk amongst themselves, while Sindra and Kelvin notice two sailors with torches have broken away from the group and are about to torch the farmhouse. They are, apparently, slavers and we have disrupted their operations. We get the heck out of the farmhouse through a back door just as the torches hit the house. We fight.

Kelvin, blessed little Kelvin, takes out the leader of the pirates and winks at Nabila. As we’re looting the bodies, Kelvin tries to make a pass at Nabila, but he’s a kid and not used to talking to girls. Nabila asks Kelvin if he’s ever been with a woman before. Kelvin hesitates and says that of course he has. Orlando walks away laughing, and Sindra has an idea.

Lewtz:

boxes of stuff to go back to the villagers
painting of naked women (Nabila)
nice clothes (Sindra)
20gp
spear +1
ring of protection +2 (Sindra)
ring of weeping (Sindra)
silver and turquoise necklace (Sindra)
30 sheaf arrows (Kelvin)
earplugs
one potion of extra healing (Sindra)
one oil of elemental plane invulnerability for lightning (Nabila)
trident +2
composite longbow
110 bolts
six crossbows
six scimitars
six hide armor sets
six giant-sized piecemeal armors
six giant-sized clubs
40 sheaf arrows (Kelvin)
silver cloak clasp
187gp
gauntlets of ogre power (18/100 strength, +3 attack, +6 damage) (Jeb)
Kuma hide armor +3 (base AC 3, immunity to confusion, 15% resistance to fire, cold, and acid) (Kelvin)

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Session Twenty-Two: Wild Surge-O-Rama
Drugs're bad, m'kaaaaay?

We find our adventurers on the way to the bakery to get some delicious noms. The bakery has blueberry pie, and Nabila eagerly hands over some silver to get some of that pie. Meanwhile, Sindra identifies the arrows from the satyr: two +1 arrows and two +1 elfbane arrows, which do extra damage to surface elves or half elves.

We follow the paw prints into the forest towards a grove of ash and oak trees. The trees look odd, like their limbs have been contorted, and they make rasping noises. The trees are sick as yellow sap gushes out. Sindra collects some of the tree sap in an empty vial. Nabila performs a herbalism check and says the trees only ooze the sap when they are under extreme duress. Basically, the trees are shitting themselves. Jeb inspects a tree and then pats it in a “bless your heart” gesture. We keep going. As we walk towards the giant oak tree, we hear animalistic gnawing and grunting and see the hyena again, laughing at us. Jeb tries to speak to it, but it runs away. He says the hyena isn’t normal; he can talk to animals but not this one. (Because it’s Whoopi Goldberg, and no one can talk to her.)

Shenzi

As we follow the tracks the hyena left we approach the great oak tree. Giant limbs, dark clouds, and rumbling thunder try to overwhelm us. We hear a buzzing sound and large shapes fly out from the branches and attack us. They’re man-sized giant wasps, with stingers. Sindra’s fireball kills three of them automatically, and Nabila slaughters the last one. We salvage a couple stingers to use as weapons.

A strange mist appears as we go farther into the grove. More trees seem to be upset. Jeb smells blood. We don’t want to walk into the fog because we don’t know if it’s poisonous or if something will jump out of it, so Nabila lights a torch and throws it in. Nothing. Then Jeb shoots an arrow in the mist and we hear it plunk into a branch. Sindra has a few rounds left on her blur spell so she walks into the fog. The giant oak is in front of her, 25 feet wide, 120 feet high. She can’t see the top of the tree. Four men — three humans and one dwarf — stand in front of the tree, Phinneas the shepherd, Arvik the smith, Ambrose and Kelvin the Wickworth boys. They stare at Sindra. Lucia the sylvan elf stands facing the tree, and a white unicorn looks passively at Sindra. Lucia has a ruby studded wooden baton with a whip extension in her hand. The oak tree has been ravaged, its bark burned by fire, and tree sap dripping. Black shadows float like smoke from the roots. The injured dryad Nabila saw in her vision is chained to the tree, blood seeping from a bandage on its wounded leg.

Nabila deduces that the men are under a charm spell, and she attempts to cast Dispel Magic. She misses, while Phinneas says that things aren’t what they seem. Lucia is a good druid and she’s trying to stop the evil dryad from casting foul magic on the town. Naturally, we don’t believe them. Evil is as evil does. Lucia turns and casts a spell, while Phinneas casts magic missles at Sindra. Jeb steps in front of Sindra to protect her. Lucia’s spell conjures up a giant eagle. Nabila throws another Dispel Magic on the men and it works. The men look around, confused, and wondering what was happening. Arvik is smart enough to get back, and Kelvin joins us to attack the giant eagle.

Lucia calls down lighting and gives Nabila a nasty shock. Nabila and lightning don’t mix. Ambrose Wickworth tries to flee the scene and the lightning forks off and instantly kills him. Phinneas goes after Sindra. As Sindra tries to cast a spell, she wild surges. This wild surge has no effect, but the next wild surge will have two effects. Great. Nabila casts Hold Person on Lucia, while the two mages duel. Nabila asks Sindra for her ceremonial dagger because Lucia’s pretty little throat needs slitting. Sindra complies, and Nabila runs towards Lucia to slit her throat. As Lucia bleeds out, angry winged fae creatures carrying scythes appear from the shadows of the trees and drag out a hyena spirt from Lucia’s body. Then Lucia’s corpse falls to the ground, dead.

The dryad wakes up and asks us to release her. Jeb goes to do it, and the dryad leans on him for support. He asks Nabila to heal the dryad, but Nabila is too busy sawing off Lucia’s head to heal anyone. Nabila asks Jeb to do the honors, and then Nabila treats the dryad. The dryad says the men were innocent and she isn’t so sure she wants healing from people who could slaughter innocent men who happened to be under charm spells. Nabila has terse words with the dryad who won’t allow Nabila to touch her. The dryad says she wants nothing to do with crude mercenaries and then hobbles to the tree, disappearing into the bark. Sindra tries to talk to the tree, but it’s too late. We’ll never know what exactly happened there.

Arvik and Kelvin tell us that the dryad supposedly killed Orson the herbalist. Sindra tells them they were under the thrall of some very poweful charm magic but they’re not really sure what to believe. Men could be charmed by a woman? Oh, perish the thought! We loot Phinneas and Lucia’s bodies because we like stuff. And then we eat some pie.

Sindra notices Nabila’s putting on some weight. That whole been-dead-for-seven-years-I’m-hungry is catching up with Nabila. Sindra asks Jeb why he tried to protect her. He offers her wine and says that back in his village, they had witches and the men used to protect the witches. Then he asks why Sindra makes everyone walk across the street when she casts spells. Sindra tells him she’s a wild mage. Oh. And then he shies away.

Lucia’s armor is +1, so we give it to Jeb, who does not want to change out of his handmade armor. He does, reluctantly, but moves all his pebbles and fringe and porcupine quills to his new set. Sindra asks him to make her some gloves, and he sews her some fantastic, super high quality luxe gloves made from snow wolf pelts. He asks Sindra about herself, hands her his wineskin, and she tells him her story, whilst draining the wine. She says that Nabila is her only friend, she ran away from the Underdark after the wild magic killed a lot of people and her youngest sister, she tells him why she and Nabila are adventurers, about Professor Elias and her studies at The University in Amaranth. Sindra wants more to drink, so they go to the tavern so she can drink more. She asks Jeb about his life, his family. His grandpappy taught him everything he knows. He didn’t really know his parents. The biggest thing he killed was a Dark Young tree. Sindra asks him his age — he’s seen about 32 winters — and asks if he’s had any girlfriends. She’s wasted by this point and drunk babbles. She tells Jeb he’s “nice.”

1274169203400 hz en mp32 4 1994

Meanwhile Nabila is at the Wickworth farm trying to recruit Kelvin into the Aegecian order. Jeb leads Sindra there, and she eventually passes out with her head on his chest, drooling. Kelvin is a good, sturdy farm boy with strength out the wazoo, and Nabila successfully recruits him to be her henchperson. In fact, Kelvin is smitten with Nabila. She is going to teach him about Aegecia, and if he lives long enough, he will eventually become a plague-bringer just like her. Of course, Kelvin’s daddy isn’t too pleased by this because he’s already lost one son — Ambrose the coward — and now his other boy is leaving to be an adventurer. Well, hell, the farm will always be there.

We rest up, and during the night Nabila prays and finally has a vision from Aegecia. Aegecia says there’s some undead to kill on the way to Enkelhoffen, near the Sudendorf ruins. We’re up for killing undead. And we have plans to visit Hag’s Breath after we recruit Orlando Trimeste, the bard from Enkelhoffen. It’s all on the way. Let’s do it. Jeb also tells us about the lizard people at Hag’s Breath and the rumors that a dragon inhabits the swamp too. It’s just a rumor, of course.

By this time it’s the second week of Sturm, the beginning of spring. We travel for three days, and at dusk we reach Sudendorf. Ruined, wrecked, rubble. There is one new feature, red granite statues, the Heroes of Sudendorf. Sindra points out her statue to Jeb. Nabila shows Kelvin her statue, and the boy thinks she is so awesome. Then there’s Daven, Oleander, and Spud’s statues.

Dry, cackling laughter comes from behind us. A humanoid creature thing is walking towards us. It’s decaying, vaguely halfling looking, long sharp jaundiced fingernails. Its skin is kind of violet colored, with a large slash on the throat, and a gaping hole where the right eye should have been. Zombie Isabelle. Fantastic. Izzy says she’s waited a long time for Nabila. Sindra, shocked to see her former friend and flame in that shape, asked her who brought her back to life. Izzy says it was The Doombringer, Valdis. Valdis did not appreciate Izzy’s first resurrection because he was having fun doing all that raping, and Valdis hated her second resurrection, more rape. Valdis doesn’t want Nabila waking Aegecia. Nabila is so not cool with this information.

So we fight. Izzy has magical powers now and she makes the statues come to life and head towards us. As luck would have it during this fight, Sindra wild surges again. Not one, but two wild surges out of this spell. The first surge turns Nabila’s statue so cold that it reaches absolute zero. The second wild surge gives Sindra some XP and heals her for 1d8 points of damage. The fighting continues and those statues are pretty tough, being made out of rock and all. So helpful Sindra has another wild surge. Everyone, but Sindra, ends up naked.

Izzy calls out to Nabila before she dies. She tells Nabila that a corpse is a great incubator. Then Izzy’s body explodes, and Nabila is covered in a shower of lotus powder. Nabila is freaking out about the bugs and insects that are going to get us, and she desperately wants to go inside. Jeb doesn’t seem bothered by his nakedness, and Sindra gets a good look at him…nice package and all, and dear Kelvin puts on his pants but leaves his shirt off so Nabila can get a load of his muscled chest.

Lootz:

blueberry pie crumbs (Nabila’s cloak)
two +1 arrows (Jeb)
two +1 elfbane arrows (Jeb)
one vial of yellow tree sap (Sindra)
shortbow (Kelvin)
28 arrows (Kelvin)
rapier
leather armor
empty vial (Sindra)
Scroll of Strength (2nd level) (Sindra)
4 daggers
club
leather armor +1 (Jeb)
40gp
enchantable snow wolf gloves (Sindra)

Switch of the Unseelie (Nabila)
8 charges left; blood-red leather handle studded with rubies and quartz; uses spells to toy with people’s minds: charm person, ventroquilism, suggestion, forget. does 1d6+1 staff damage

Kelvin’s kit:

leather armor, shortbow & arrows, longsword +1, shield +1, ring of protection +1

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Session Twenty-One: Avengers Assemble!
Evil bears!

Suddenly Nabila and Sindra awaken, surrounded by a ring of creepy Whispering Way cultists leering at us in a dark, dank dungeon. We are chained to a cold wall and barely clothed. The cell doors open, and the crowd of cultists part to let some guards past. Why were Nabila and Sindra chained up but the cultists were not? The guards unchain us and tell us to follow them.

So we follow because Creepy C. McCreeperton is creeping us out We walk up a narrow spiral staircase in either a castle or a stronghold. We venture down a hallway with thick carpet and fancy foreign artwork from the desert kingdom. A finely dressed man with a goatee steps out and greets us, but only after averting his eyes and barking at the guards to get Nabila and Sindra some clothes.

It’s Philippe Tancreedi. He apologizes to us for the rough treatment, clinically tells us that we might experience some brief psychotic episodes due to our violent death and (eventual) resurrection. He says it’s the month of Winterwane in 4435. Seven years have passed since our adventurers snuffed it during the performance of “The King in Yellow.” Stone cold effin’ dead for seven years. We are in Marrathian, south of the Trollmere but north of the Grand Duchy of Varina. We are the esteemed guests of the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye. Philippe is wearing a gold ring shaped like a scarab beetle. He has servants bring us refreshments as he tells us about the last seven years. (The entire time Philippe speaks, Nabila is shoveling food in her mouth.)

War and strife, baby. Lots of it. Man, elf, and trollslayer gathered together to defeat the eldritch god things. Then the elves decided to turn on mankind and try to take over the world. Surface elves, not drow elves. The elves thought Volkstadt needed a better government and they were the ones to do the governing. Ravenhill turned into a city-state where the Church of Flayne has set up. Its new name is…Isambard. Schwarzwald became a city-state as well, governed by a city council. Viscount Grunbaum started some stuff with the citizens of the ‘Wald that he couldn’t finish, and they revolted against him. He is currently in hiding. The elves installed a puppet governor in Amaranth by the name of Herzog. Vogelbrucke lies in ruins.

Bujanov was destroyed because a certain wild magic zone caught a wandering wizard unawares (really, the log cabin in the middle of nowhere wasn’t enough?). The wizard created a gigantic mass of lava, and now the area is called the “Forbidden Zone.” We inquired if this was the doing of Siegfried Frey, but Mister Frey disappeared some time ago after having money troubles in Schwarzwald.

We ask why there are cultists in the basement. Philippe says their leader Adivion Adrissant duped the WW into bringing Tar-Baphon back to life. Instead of Tar-Baphon being an uberlich, Adrissant absorbed Tar-Baphon’s essence and powers. Now Adrissant is uberevil and must be stopped, which is a Very Bad Thing. No one has yet succeeded in stopping Adrissant, which is why we are alive again.

Sindra asks Philippe about Roxanne. He is terse about the subject but replies she lives somewhere else now, in Enkelhofen, leaving him because he couldn’t provide her with children. After the incident in Vogelbrucke, Roxanne’s two young children died. Philippe does add that he and Roxanne had a few good years together, so it wasn’t a total loss. But almost.

About our former companions, Philippe tells us that Oleander is still alive and living in Schwarzwald. He’s now Aegecia’s high priest, but his brains are scrambled from the Vogelbrucke incident. Aegecia’s new priests and priestesses aligned themselves with the Cartel and are now plague-bringing mercenaries for hire. This upsets Nabila more than she lets on. Daven’s fate is unknown, but it is presumed that Gideon the Talking Sword of Death is still with him. The Whispering Way captured Daven and used his blood to resurrect Tar-Baphon. Daven was the last member of Tar-Baphon’s bloodline. Philippe says if Daven is alive, he sure is quiet. Spud, dear Spud, managed to escape from Vogelbrucke, but he died somewhere between V’brucke and Amaranth of an unfortunate disease.

Did anyone survive in V’brucke? The guards did not. Madame Orra of the Heart’s Desire heard a mysterious message and rallied some townspeople to go to the playhouse and try to close the portal to Carcosa. The high priestess of the druid grove outside of V’brucke also came to the rescue. Between the priestess and Madame Orra, they managed to close the portal. The priestess was slain, and the Madame was on the wrong side of the portal when it closed. Philippe informs Nabila that Shelly the Dour was slain, though no one is certain whether or not Adrissant killed her. (When we were in the WW hideout we saw visions of Professor Elias, a priestess, and a mage fighting the stuff inside. The priestess is assumed to be Shelly, while the mage was Adrissant himself.)

Why did they bring us back? Philippe says that the end of the world is not in the Order’s best interest. Palantine the All-Seeing raised us. Because we have experience fighting the eldritch horrors, we are considered valuable. The Order wants us to put together a new company in order to fight the cosmic horrors. After we assemble a group we can find out what Adrissant is up to or do something else. Like march on Isambard.

Philippe gives us names of potential party members. First is a human ranger in Strawbourg named Jebediah Trowbridge. Jeb knows of our resurrection and that we fought the eidritch horrors. He has some experience with them too. The second potential member is a human bard named Orlando Trimeste. Trimeste is in Enkelhofen.

Nabila asks about her sister Deja. Philippe repiles that Trimeste may know where she is. We also ask if we can speak to the Palantine person, but he/she will only speak to us after we have gathered our party. So it’s party gatherin’ time!

But before that, Sindra and Nabila request hot baths and more food. Nabila notices her neck no longer has a leprosy scar. Ut-oh. Has Aegecia foresaken her? She tries to cast ray of enfeeblement on Sindra but nothing happens. Then Nabila tries another spell, which does work, so only part of her priestly powers are gone. While Nabila is on her knees in prayer, Sindra takes a bath and then tries to learn some new spells.

The next day we travel to Strawbourg to find Jeb. And we find him. He’s sitting on a tree stump whittling a piece of wood. He’s wearing handmade leather and fur armor, decorated with porcupine quills, colored pebbles, and leather fringes. He has straggly long, dark hair and a wild beard. Jeb’s beard has a touch of gray that everybody loves. Jeb waves us down, lights up a smoking pipe, and looks us over. He didn’t expect us to be female. We agree that neither of us know very much about the mutual friends who set us up. Jeb had his own adventuring group but they ran into a group of evil trees, Dark Young he called them. He had to start a forest fire to destroy the trees, and, well, it ain’t right. He says that a man with a funny looking ring saddled up next to him and spewed some crazy talk about stopping the end of the world. Jeb is from the Forge Mountains, and we ask him if he knows any of the trollslayers, Django the Widowmaker to be exact. Jeb says that the trollslayers ended up sacrificing themselves to defeat the Big Evil that took Sindra and Nabila out.

Naturally there is a hitch to engaging in Jeb’s company. He’s been having strange dreams and tells us that something’s going on with the trees. Something weird is happening in Strawbourg, but no one will tell him what. If we help him, he will help us. We send him to the smithy so he can find some better armor — what’s wrong with his armor? He made it hisself! — while we go to the tavern for information.

Nabila also goes to the tavern to eat. A lot. Other than a haggard looking bartender, the tavern is empty. He takes a long hard look at Sindra’s chest and says her breasts are “real nice.” We order ale and some mystery meat stew, and then between mouthfuls, Nabila interrogates him. His name is Barkley. He says some townsfolk have gone missing. The Wickworth boys, the herbalist, and some others. They think it’s wolves been attacking. Some livestock went missing. Nabila wants more food, so Barkley goes off all surprised like to get her more grub. A young barmaid comes up and says Barkley has a problem with the ladies. She says Phineas the sheep herder was talking to a sylvan elf. All the men were spellbound by her, and all the ladies were jealous. The elf left arm in arm with Orson the herbalist and Phineas. Jeb comes into the tavern and tells us that the smith is gone into the woods as well, so no armor.

Nabila takes some stew to go, and we head over to the herbalist’s. No one is there. Nabila tries to pick the lock. Sindra tells them to move away so she can cast Knock. Jeb is confused and says he’s worked with spellslingers before. Nabila reassures him that it’s better to be as far away from Sindra as possible when she’s casting spells. He stands out front and keeps watch while Nabila and Sindra engage in some good old fashioned B&E. We find some healing salve and greenblood oil. Nabila drops a handful of gold on the counter because we aren’t thieves, There is nothing else of note in the shop except for some long brown hairs on the herbalist’s bed, and we leave, off to see the tanner.

We find the tanner working on a deer. We ask him about the sylvan elf. He says her name is Lucia, she has brown hair, and “she’s funny looking.” She had a riding crop or a piece of wood in her hand but didn’t ride a horse. No one remembers her coming into town. He didn’t know the smith was missing but then he hasn’t heard any smithy-related noises today. He tells us more about Phineas, who used to be a bard and had lots of girlfriends. No one believed him.

Finished with him, we go to the sheriff’s office. An ancient man is asleep at the desk. Nabila wakes him. He tells us that it’s wolves been killin’ that livestock. Kelvin and Ambrose — that’s the Wickworth boys — heard strange, unearthly screams coming from the woods. Sheriff Buzzard — that’s him — found the tracks which head into the Trollmere. Jeb scoffs at the suggestion. Sheriff Buzzard tells us the Wickworths are upset over the loss of their boys but they may talk to us.

We stop by the bakery for some cinnamon rolls, but they are closed. Gnashing of teeth. Then we go to the Wickworth farm. They have sheep and cows and hogs. An old man is feeding the hogs. Sindra greets him. He says his name is Maximilian and he owns the farm. His boys, Kelvin and Ambrose, are good, honest boys. They’re never idle. His livestock has been attacked, and he shows us some wooden fencing that has recently been repaired. Then he shows us the wolf tracks. Jeb, again, scoffs and says those aren’t wolf tracks. They’re bear tracks. Dire bears. And it’s an affront to nature and it ain’t right.

We ask Max to let us camp out on his farm so we can watch out for the bears. He agrees, and we wait. Jeb grabs a sheep — not to do what you think he’s going to do, ignorant hillbilly — and takes the sheep just inside the woods to let it do its business. The stench will attract the bears. And so it does as night falls.

Large dark shadows head our way. They sniff the sheep poo. Jeb readies an arrow, Nabila casts prayer, and Sindra gets some rays of enfeeblement ready to cast on the bears. While we fight the bears, an arrow flies out and hits Sindra. She thinks it’s that sylvan elf, and if it is, she’s going to start screaming at her because of the drow vs. every other elf attitude. But it turns out to be a satyr, and we kill that mug, too. And loot his body. Oh, looting feels so good. We have stuff!

We decide to rest for the evening. The next morning Jeb is pacing back and forth. He says he had another strange dream with screaming trees. He has no idea what they’re saying but he hopes it isn’t the Dark Young again. Nabila tries to make contact with a woodland creature via spell, but all she summons is an image of a badly wounded, chained up dryad missing a leg. It looks like it’s stuck in the middle of the forest.

Only way to go is in, so we head into the edge of the Trollmere. We hear a horrific sound, a shriek of pain, crying out like dry wood snapping. Then we hear a human scream. Something tumbles down the rocky path towards us. A young man’s body. It’s got a bloody shoulder and a bite wound on the side. It’s dead. At the top of the path a hyena stares at us and then runs away. Nabila casts speak with dead on the corpse. He tells us he was bitten by something, and he followed Lucia into the woods because she charmed him.

We’re not sure if it’s a Wickworth boy, but we take his body to the farm so Max can identify it. He says it’s Orson the herbalist. We ask him to take care of the body while we go back into the woods. The rocky path goes through a deep ravine with jagged walls. Sharp rocks everywhere. We see drops of blood and pawprints. In the distance we can see a magnificent oak tree rising up from the ground.

Then two large boulders roll down the path at us. Large muscular humanoids with yellow brown hide and fangs and bear noses prepare to fight us. They’re bugbears. One is covered in tribal designs and has a green scimitar on his cheek. He’s possibly a shaman.

Jeb hates bugbears, and he insta-kills the shaman and a regular bugbear. He wakes up another bugbear so Sindra can interrogate it. He says they follow Lucia because she’s boss. They don’t like the stupid goat man, but Lucia says they have to obey stupid goat man. Sindra tells him that we killed stupid goat man. He tells us that Lucia is in the east doing something with the great oak tree. The bugbear doesn’t know but the shaman would, except that Jeb kinda rage-killed it. Nabila casts Speak with Dead on the shaman, while Sindra tells her what to say in goblin language. Nabila gets the first question right, and the shaman says that Lucia is trying to open a gate. Then Nabila asks what kind of gate, and the shaman replies, “Your mother whore.” Whoops.

So Jeb kills the last bugbear, and we do some more looting.

Lewtz:
2 healing salves (Nabila and Sindra)
vial of greenblood oil (does 1d2 CON damage)
2 magical arrows
2 magical arrows (both sets need to be ID’d)
longsword +1
potion of spider climbing (Jeb)
40gp
4 suits of leather armor
2 light wood shields
2 morningstars
12 spears
tribal fetishes (5gp)
club
75gp

Given to Jeb from Community Chest:
14 arrows +1
5 arrows +2
battle axe +2
dagger +2

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Session Twenty: Thelma and Louise Ride Again
Sindra said to go in the house (twice!) but noooooo....

We find our adventurers at the scene of the crazy amphitheater massacre. Izzy is dead. Daven has been resurrected. Sindra decides to identify the magical items we received from the crazy dwarf tentacle hybrid thing.

Sindra wild surges. All the jokes about Sindra becoming a man are no longer jokes. Sindra is now Steve. And he/she’s hung like a donkey, thanks to the restrictions of the spell per the Girdle of Masculinity and Femininity. Fortunately, Nabila removes the curse and Steve returns to his original form. Not having particularly hated or enjoyed being a dude, Sindra continues identifying the weapons and armor: a +2 battleaxe and Gauntlets of Dexterity.

Meanwhile Nabila casts Speak with Dead on Izzy, but Izzy passes her saving throw. Nabila hears nothing. Nabila wants to try the mayor later after we’ve thought up some questions. We return to the Constable who gives us 2,000gp, which is the entire treasury of Sudendorf. Because we’re greedy and we like stuff. The constable tells us that a few sources said they saw the King’s Players leaving Sudendorf with their props headed north towards Vogelbrucke.

We find an abandoned inn so we can rest up. Nabila offers to cook breakfast for us. She nicks her finger with a knife and bleeds into the food. Spud, the ever undaunted garbage disposal, eats one of Nabila’s biscuits. Soon after he begins to feel sick. Nabila tries to give him a first aid check but she botches that as well, and Spud faints. After using some smelling salts to revive Spud, she offers to cure him of the plague but Oleander pulls her aside and says that maybe it’s Aegecia’s will that Spud contracts the plague. Nabila firmly puts Olie in his place and that is that.

After the night has passed, Nabila attempts to speak to Izzy again. The only response is a creepy “GO TO HELL, NABILA!” Nabila tries the mayor: What was happening when the portal opened up? “The play…the play.” What were the actors doing when the portal opened? There was a hooded woman wearing a pallid mask.

We rest up another night. The next day we hear the inn door creak open. Someone is downstairs in the common area. We send Daven to check, and he tells us it’s a gentleman wearing finely tailored clothes. Sindra yells down at him. We won’t go downstairs until he tells us who he is, but he merely says he’s a friend of a friend. He says he feels like he knows us, and he was a friend of Professor Elias. He wants to offer his condolences for Izzy’s passing. But how did he know about Izzy’s death unless he was watching us battle the tentacle people things. He is condescending to us, asking us if we’re that stupid that we don’t know what’s going on. The words “clueless buffoons” escape his mouth. If the dude is going to continue to insult us, we’re not going to play nice. He takes his leave.

Sindra decides that maybe it would be better to talk to this guy just in case he actually has something nice to say to us — or at least something useful. Sindra finds him walking away on the street. He seems amused to see Sindra, and he takes his sweet time insulting her, calling her naive and being a general prick. He is the mysterious Adrissant formerly of Ravenhill, the family tomb that we discovered was empty months ago. He remarks that he has seen the abomination we unleashed (Really, which one? There were a few.) and that we are on a path to destruction. He offers no more help, just more condescending remarks and says he wants someone on his level, but we have NO IDEA what he’s going on about. So he leaves and tells Sindra not to follow him. She had to stop herself from lobbing a fireball while his back was turned. She goes inside the inn and tells everyone what happened.

Nabila prays to Aegecia for the Cure Disease spell and Aegecia sees fit that Nabila does not receive it. Spud is looking pretty weak.

It looks like we need to go to Vogelbrucke even though we have no idea what we’re up against. After a day and a half of travelling we arrive in the early evening. We see familiar advertisements for the King in Yellow. And it’s going to start soon. The play is being performed at the new Theater of Rosalba, but we don’t know where it is. Sindra pays a beggar five gold (Why be stingy with all that gold because you can’t take it with you when you die a horrible death.) The beggar gives us information about the theater, and we have no time to waste.

Sindra decides to use Whispering Wind for the first time in order to send messages to the guards, the Madame at Heart’s Desire, and the druid grove outside of town. The message says, “Something terrible will happen at play. Send guards and militia. Hallowfeld and Sudendorf destroyed. Watch out for masked, hooded actress. Very dangerous.” Whether or not anyone gets the messages we will never know.

We get to the playhouse, and it feels like an old temple and not a theater. The entrance doors are barred from the inside. Daven tries to open the door but fails. He mentions to Nabila he could probably do it if he had more lotus powder. Nabila says he can have it if he hands over his ring of feather falling. As Daven begins to pull off the ring, Gideon shouts at him to stop. Spud also cannot get the door open. Sindra uses knock, and the mothereffing door flies off the hinges.

Like a boss

We hear strange noises of the play in progress. It’s best not to barge in that way, so we decide to find an alternate entrance. A small door located to the side at the end of an alleyway is locked, but Oleander picks the lock and we are in. It’s an empty dressing room. A black curtain hangs nearby, and the sounds of the performance are louder like the curtain is very near the stage. We send Daven over to see if he could make out what was happening on stage. We watch him peek his head out and then walk right on stage, to the front row, and take a seat. Ut oh. We can no longer see him. Spud, blessed Spud, sticks his head out and doesn’t fall under the spell. Sindra says if Spud doesn’t die then she will kill him. He asks her if she wants to have a shag first. Ugh, no. Not if you’re coughing like that, damn.

The noises we were hearing were lines from the play, “Strange is the night where black stars rise…” Nabila casts Prayer to boost our saving throws, but when we decide to attack, we fail our saving throws anyway. The audience sits in rapt silence. The stage is decorated to resemble a throne room. The throne is yellow green with symbols that look like they’re writhing. Pillars stand behind the throne where there is an amazing, realistic looking backdrop. It’s an alien city with spires and dark water. Strange moons glow. Four figures stand on stage, their voices echoing in a hypnotic cadence. On the throne sits the King in tattered yellow robes that conceal the actor’s face and body. The other three are wearing clothes and holding weapons and stuff. Not important. Except there is a masked woman standing there chanting.

For two hours we watch some crazy ass art-house play by “talented” individuals who depict the absorption of Vogelbrucke by Carcosa. A nauseating yellow light flashes. A portal opens. We see a vast lake, hear running water, see the Towers of Carcosa, unknown moons and stars. The Lake of Hali rushes into the playhouse as the malignance of Carcosa comes into Vogelbrucke.

Somehow we manage to pass our saving throws vs. petrification, so none of us become pseudopod head people things. Nabila and Sindra pass a saving throw vs. fear while Oleander and Daven run out screaming. The entire audience transforms into weirdness. A giant, giant, giant, giant monster comes out of the lake. It’s a huge octopus thing with just a mouth and tentacles. We have never seen anything like it, and it turns out we will probably never see anything like it ever again.

Sindra tells Nabila that she is her best friend. We go down fighting. We are so dead.

A long time later we wake up in a chamber surrounded by men and women wearing black robes with gagged skull necklaces around their necks. Someone whispers, “Welcome to the Whispering Way.” Nabila and Sindra have survived.

Loot:

+2 battleaxe
gauntlets of dexterity (Nabila)
2,000gp

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Session Nineteen: Just Say No
This session was so weird I don't know what to write here.

We find our adventurers checking out more of the old Whispering Way hideout. We explore until we find a very cold, natural cavern made out of limestone. There’s a stony beach and water. We find a human skull on the beach lodged in the limestone. The skull has no jawbone. There’s a red colored glyph on the forehead and a shiny thing behind the eyes. Nabila casts detect magic and the glyph glows; it says “Caleb.” Daven picks up the skull to keep it (what is it with skulls and severed heads in this group?) and the shiny thing is a platinum ring shaped like a turtle. Izzy says it’s worth several thousand gold pieces, and Daven gives a little squeal of delight.

As we progress through the cavern, we find an old boat. It looks like it still floats, but we aren’t ready to go that way so we return to the hallway and go to another room. This room has a very claustrophobic feel to it, smells like sweat and waste. A dozen rusted manacles hang on the wall. In one corner of the room is a feather, a swan feather. Sindra picks it up. Wailing and moaning sounds come from the wall, and we see images of humans begin to form. Slaves. They are “standing there looking creepy and shit” (DM’s words). We’re not sure what to do with them, so Sindra holds out the feather and they recoil in fear. They aren’t afraid of the feather but a memory of something involving the feather. We can’t figure out what else to do in the room, so we decide to return to the riddle room with the octagonal sapphire necklace.

Nabila casts Detect Traps. The necklace is trapped. A blank line sits underneath the riddle. The answer to the riddle was the letter “E,” so Nabila takes some colored chalk we looted from Tharindor and writes the letter on the line. Bam, trap disabled. Nabila takes the necklace and we return to the temple to fetch the Serpin Lexicon in the glass box.

The Serpin Lexicon is an eldritch tome dedicated to evil and the spread oc chaos. It deals with summoning extraplanar creatures and contains spells related to death and necromancy. The book can cast certain spells for neutral or evil magic users and clerics. Copying mage spells from the book causes them to disappear, but the priest spells can only be read. In order to use the spells, the casters must be in a special room set up specifically for rituals. The room costs 40,000gp to set up and takes about three months to oversee construction. We don’t have that kind of money…yet.

Spellz:

Mage: protection from evil, protection from evil 10 ft. radius, animate dead, contact other plane, ensnarement, invisible stalker, banishment

Cleric: protection from evil, detect life, animate dead, feign death, negative plane protection, speak with dead, abjur, protection from evil 10 ft. radius, dispel evil, slay living

Yaay spellz!

So we decide to check out the beach area again. Sindra casts Levitate and Faery Fire (first time for the elf!) on the bardiche to use as a torch to illuminate the area so we can see what’s in front of us in the water. Spud stands at the prow of the boat like ole George crossing the Delaware. As we reach a bend in the water we hear awful screaming. In the water we see bubbles breaking the surface along with three hideous, rotten, bloated bodies. They stink. But we recognize them from the fight with Septimus Ashcroft. They are lacedons, aquatic ghouls. We dispatch of them easily and continue on.

Another huge cavern with a limestone island in the middle. A thick wooden pole ten feet high stands in the center of the island with chests and urns and rusted chains. We dock the boat and Nabila casts Detect Traps. There’s nothing, oddly, so we disembark from the boat. Spud and Daven go first, then Sindra and Izzy, and finally Nabila and Oleander. From out of nowhere leaps a skeletal creature. It attacks Nabila, biting her arm and sucking blood. As it sucks her blood, we see it slowly reforming body flesh, muscles, and eyeballs.

So we battle the bloodsucker. Spud’s new +2 Sunray club falls in the water after he botches an attack roll. Great. Fortunately Spud used the Sunray to try to attack the vampire-thing, so we could see exactly where the club sank. After we disposed of the vampire, Nabila’s bone ring crumbles to dust. The ring protected her from the vampire-thing’s energy and level draining bite. Sindra gives Spud her potion of waterbreathing, and Spud jumps in the freezing water to fetch his club and our new light source. We loot the chests and urns. (The loot will be listed at the end as usual.)

After resting up and ferrying all our stuff to our asses, we return to Vogelbrucke. Daven and Spud go off drinking and whoring. Sindra spends some time reading the necromancy books to try to get more knowledge about the Whispering Way’s methods, and she learns a spell in the process. Nabila decides to try her new scrying ability. Taking Oleander with her, she finds a pool of water and tries to locate Shelly the Dour and her sister, Deja. Scrying for Shelly turns up nothing but solid blackness, which freaks Nabila out very much. Either Shelly is blocking magic or she’s dead. Oleander tells Nabila he saw Shelly when he left Amaranth, but that was months ago. The second scrying, for Deja, shows someone who looks like she was in a play, painted up, acting. Nabila casts Detect Magic, and either Deja is magical or stuff around her is magical. Oleanders asks Nabila about Deja because he never knew she had a sister. Nabila mentions the conversation she had with Professor Feramin in Harrowstone Prison who prophesied that “She” was coming for Nabila. Nabilla assumes that “She” is her sister under the thrall of someone else. Whatever happens, Nabila tells Oleander, Deja does not need to find us.

Everyone gathers at the inn and Daven tells us that a man in Hallowfeld needs our help at the bard’s mansion. Hey, it’s something to do. So we go back to Hallowfeld.

It’s ruined. Blood everywhere. No bodies. On the side of the trading post building we see that strange yellow symbol we discovered on the painting of Professor Elias and, Nabila notes, in the book that drove Professor Feramin insane. Daven hears noises coming out of a building like heavy breathing, hissing, slurping, and sloshing sounds. Then it goes quiet. A moment later all the doors and windows blow open. Rubbery humanoids without a visible skeletal structure lumber towards us. Instead of having heads, they have nests of writhing tentacled pseudopods. And they attack. While we are fighting them, giant worm-like monsters pop out of the ground. They are translucent, with stringy organs, and what should have been faces were giant toothy maws. While we are dispatching the tentacled wormy things, Sindra has a wild surge. The caster’s smile causes fear in children. Permanently.

Daven notices human tracks going south from Hallowfeld. He wants to follow them. We rest up and then the next day we ask Daven to clarify the instructions he got telling us to go to Hallowfeld. Someone might pay us some amount to risk our lives and sanity on a rumor that Daven heard in a bar while he was drinking. Heavily. Well, since when has the Company of the Tattered Cloak done anything sensible where money is involved?

We follow the tracks to a town called Sudendorf. No town guards greet us at the gate and demand exorbitant silver prices to get in. So we go right on in. The buildings are empty. A small gust of wind blows a crumpled up piece of parchment at us. Premiere Engagement. One night only. Sophia Lasiran and the King’s Players Present “The King in Yellow.” Nabila says we gotta GTFO of there.

Towards the center of town are villagers who regard us warily. They aren’t from Hallowfeld. Something bad has happened in Sudendorf. They tell us to talk to the constable who is located beyond barricades around the town center. There’s a guard who looks like he hasn’t slept and he was trying to direct a village militia. Someone somewhere is shouting, “The King has come for us all!”

The guard captain looks relieved to see us because we have weapons. There was a performance last night, he tells us. A bizarre portal opened up and did things to the townsfolk. The village became a riot zone. A big flash of nauseating yellow light lit up the sky, and people heard the sound of rushing water. Lots of screaming. Anyone in the town commons either died or joined the mob. If we kill the monsters, they will give us anything we want.

Nabila, never one to aim low, says she wants the city. The guard looks bewildered because he was talking about gold. He says the mayor — Burgermeister — may still be alive. If we can rescue him, they can find a priest to restore him. He’s the one d oing all the creepy shouting. “The Harbinger brought us gifts from the king in yellow!”

The constable tells us he prayed to all the gods that would listen. Daven giggles that the gods chose to send us to aid them. Sindra asks the constable if he has any dogs.

We cross the barricade and head into the commons area. It’s trashed with dozens of bodies lying in various states of wholeness. Looks like there’s some cannibalism going on. The closer we got to the town square and amphitheater, the gross, weirder stuff we saw. The amphitheater is ruined, covered in bodies, with a central pit and central stage recessed into the ground and filled with brackish, bloody water. The strange yellow sign is everywhere. Some signs were painted yellow while others were painted in blood. The mayor is up to his knees in the water and waving his arms around, frothing at the mouth, and shouting, “He chose some, but they are the children now!” We’ve got to get to the mayor somehow. “He granted us the wisdom of Carcosa!” Nabila decides to cast Hold Person on him to get him still, and then Sindra casts Sleep to knock him out. Nabila goes out to get him to keep him from drowning while Daven covers her with his crossbow. As Nabila approaches the mayor, the mob of transformed commoners bursts forth and surrounds us. Rubbery people everywhere, between us and Nabila.

A battle ensues. Oleander tries to take out as many creatures as possible with a dust of sneezing and choking. But he didn’t think about anyone standing downwind of the dust bomb, and Daven keels over dead. Oh shit. Izzy rushes away from the party to take out some of the creatures to give Nabila a path to escape. The creatures surround Izzy and take her out before she has a chance to drink a potion of healing. The battle is chaos. Sindra lobs fireballs to take out as many creatures as possible, while Izzy is bleeding out, Spud and Oleander take out as many creatures as they can, and Nabila tries to escape and keep herself healed.

Three dead: Daven, Izzy, and Mayor Burgermeister. The Mayor’s death was probably a blessing. Nabila uses her scroll of raise dead and brings Daven back to life. He loses one point of constitution and six hit points, but he’s alive. Nabila has silverweed in her possession for its resurrection properties, and she shoves it down Izzy’s throat. Izzy is alive but a side effect of the silverweed causes her to lose points from a random ability — in this case, her wisdom score.

And then it goes even more downhill from here. Sindra suggests that perhaps lotus powder might restore Izzy somehow. It would either make her better or worse, so Nabila gives Izzy a dose of lotus powder. Izzy’s skin turns purple. Then Nabila gives her another dose. Izzy gains two levels as a conjurer — a level 7 thief, a level 2 conjurer. This isn’t going well, so Nabila tries to give Izzy more lotus powder. Izzy pulls out her shortsword and slits her own throat. She’s dead. And this time, she’ll have to stay dead because there’s no way for Izzy to recover from a wisdom score of 2. Our trusty thief is dead and gone.

Traumatized, Nabila gives Daven a free hit of lotus powder. Good things happen to Daven. He gets a +2 bonus to his strength which takes him up to 21, and he also receives a +3 to his constitution which takes him up to 17. He is now addicted to purple lotus powder.

Lewtz:

two-handed sword +1 (from previous session)
club +2, with Sunray (from previous session, now in Spud’s possession)
skull with “Caleb” glyph (Daven)
platinum turtle ring (worth 4,000gp)
electrum ceremonial dagger with a star ruby (Sindra)
100 sardonyx stones (worth 50gp each —> 5,000gp)
potion of polymorph self (Sindra)
potion of invulnerability (Daven)
potion of humanoid control (Nabila)
five +2 arrows (Izzy)
ring of vampiric regeneration (Daven)
manual of quickness of action +1 dex (Oleander)
Necroanatomy, first edition (Sindra)
Serpin Lexicon
2,900gp
painting in bronze frame of “Death of Malak Shaan” (worth 1,200gp, in Nabila’s possession)
statue of demonic creature thing made of jet with sapphire eyes (worth 9,500gp, each sapphire worth 4,000gp)
statue of Tar-Baphon made of marble (destroyed)
scroll of enchanted weapon (Sindra)
scroll of raise dead (Nabila)
*battle axe
*dwarven plate mail
*shield
*gauntlets

*need to be ID’d

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Session Eighteen: The Doublecross
How to become undead in two easy steps.

We find our adventurers (why do I start out these posts like this?) headed towards Vincent’s house, the guy that Nina is enamored with. Vincent is a strapping young lad, wealthy, and full of himself. He’s headed to Master D’s for his usual posh dinner. He doesn’t want to talk to us. And he has no idea that Nina is so into him that she’s doing freaky things with his likeness at Heart’s Desire. But we don’t tell him that part, just that Nina’s jonesing for him. He swears up and down that he has never done anything with her and didn’t even know that Nina liked him because she’s married to Philippe. We ask him about Philippe, and he says that no one has seen Philippe for nearly a week. We warn Vincent to keep his head down and move on.

We wait until dark to break into Philippe and Nina’s house. Good old fashioned breaking and entering. Izzy and Sindra go in since they can hide in shadows, while Nabila, Daven, and Spud wait outside keeping watch. We try the wine cellar first to see if there’s a trap door or earth that’s been disturbed. Nothing. But there is some vintage wine and Izzy helps herself to a few bottles. The wine cellar doesn’t look like anyone has been down there in a while. Then we go upstairs to check the library and a dining room. The library is very clean, full of books about the law. As we go to the dining room a floorboard creaks loudly. Nonplussed, we continue on from the dining room to a drawing room. A desk sits in the drawing room, covered with legal documents. Izzy checks the desk and finds a drawer with a false bottom. Inside the false bottom is a jewelry box with five large, clear diamonds. We take the diamonds; they could be used as leverage.

While we’re pilfering the diamonds, we hear a woman screaming. It’s Nina, standing at the threshold with a candle in her hand. Sindra attempts to talk her down, but she won’t quit screaming. Sindra knocks Nina out with a sleep spell. Daven, Nabila, and Spud rush in to aid us. We put Nina’s body on a couch and head upstairs. We checked the master bedroom, no dice, but when we pushed the guest bedroom door open, the stench of death greeted us. The rotting remains of a man — Philippe — hacked to death lay on the bed. Oh man. What a freak this Nina person is. Nabila casts a Speak with Dead spell and asks who killed him. Philippe’s corpse reanimates (this does not bother us) and tells us that Nina killed him. Why did Nina kill him? He tells us he doesn’t know why. Sindra notices that a large tuft of hair is missing from Philippe’s head. The last thing the simulacrum remembered was his wife coming at him with an axe, and that’s a pretty good reason for Clone Philippe to be angry, angry, angry.

Back downstairs, we tie Nina to a chair and wake her up. She’s playing dumb, but really? You’re living with a corpse for more than a week and you haven’t tried to get rid of the body? We tell her we know about Heart’s Desire, but Nina is not aware that Philippe’s simulacrum has been finished and is running around murdering people and cutting off their John Thomases.

As any good evil party would do, we extort Nina. We agree to take Philippe’s corpse and dispose of it. She agrees to give us the diamonds, worth 5,000gp each, and we all get what we want out of the deal. We find Clone Philippe, pin the murders on him, Nina walks free, and Oleander is released from jail. The only problem is that we don’t know where Clone Philippe is. Nina suggests we talk to the Tancreedi’s butler, Talbot, to find out more.

We return to the Tancreedi residence, Nabila wearing a nice disguise because they would immediately know her as the Woman Who Pooped Her Pants In Broad Daylight. Sindra and Izzy hang back. After knocking for a few minutes, a bleary-eyed Talbot answers the door. Philippe and Talbot were close. He sees Nina and his face shifts into worried mode. Nina tells him that we know. Talbot says we should try the druid grove to the east of town. There was a young druid named Callum who was sympathetic to Philippe. We force Talbot to go with us because he might be able to calm Clone Philippe. Talbot agrees but he doesn’t want to see violence.

After Talbot dresses warmly for the trek, we go to the druid grove. There’s a clearing with an altar, then a woodland area behind it. A young man about sixteen or seventeen walks out and tells us he doesn’t want to get in trouble or expelled from the druid circle. He tells us he took Philippe to the harpy cave. The druids noticed the harpies had been killed (thanks to us), and Callum hid Clone Phillipe in the cave to keep him safe.

We make our way to the area where we fought the harpies on the road to Vogelbrucke and tried to find their cave in the brightening dawn light. We reach the cave and enter. The main cavern is littered with bones and feathers and trash. In the middle is a large cooking pot filled with bones and rotted flesh and icky nasty stuff. There’s something yellow glowing in the pot — an oriental topaz from Ninjaland. As we rummage around we find some gold and platinum pieces, 1,000 silver pieces, a curved sword, and a glass bottle full of pink liquid. A small cotton pouch tied together with string contains Orcish coffee. There’s also a gold framed painting with a young Professor Elias in his scholar’s robes. We don’t know what a picture of the professor is doing in a harpy cave, but upon further inspection there’s a tiny yellow symbol on the lower right side of the canvas. Sindra does an occult check, but she has no idea what the symbol means.

Sign

In the next cavern we find Clone Philippe. He’s staring off into space and doesn’t acknowledge us for a while. When he finally notices us, he says that we’re there to take him in. He never wanted this. He wanted a loving wife and a family, but he ended up with a gold digger who killed him. KILLED HIM. Sitting nearby on a rock is a blood-stained machete.

Aaaaaand like a good evil party would do, we tell Philippe that we will let him go as long as he helps us. Since no one in town believed Philippe could be capable of being a jealous husband and everyone knew Nina was trash, we plant the machete on Nina, Philippe goes to the authorities, Nina hangs, Oleander goes free…and Roxanna Evers and her two young children find happiness with a mass murdering guy who wants a loving wife and a family. The Madame at Heart’s Desire gets to keep her business, the secret doesn’t get out, and everyone (but Nina) is happy in the end. We dispose of Real Philippe’s body in the harpy stew, though Nabila keeps the head, just in case.

Fast forward to the next day where we do some SERIOUS SHOPPING. Those diamonds are enough to buy us some fancy armor for Oleander, since Sindra kind of fireballed him accidentally, plus he’d been through quite a rough time in the slammer. We get weapons and spells and somehow Daven learns to read and gain a strength point.

Now that this part of the quest is over, Nabila decides to cook up some drugs from the lotus powder she harvested in the hive spider cave. Out of character the DM tells us that no one in his games have ever tried to use lotus powder. In game, this excites Daven, and he and Spud decide to engage in some recreational drug use. Spud gains a permanent +3 to his dexterity. He also buggers off to go to Heart’s Desire and spend the night with a laydee.

Daven. Well, the next morning Daven comes downstairs into the common room of the Silver Sword Inn wearing nothing but a loincloth. He refers to himself as Daven the Almighty. He pulls out Gideon and a red glow covers him. The common room quickly empties out. Nabila, Sindra, and Izzy watch as Daven eats breakfast and tells us all that in one hour we’re going to go north for the next part of our quest.

No one moves.

An hour later Daven returns kitted out in his armor, sees us all sitting there waiting to see what he’d do if we didn’t move. Spud returned to us, off exercising and limbering up. Sindra asked him how many women he banged last night. Just one, he says. Tress. Daven is super angry at this point because his disciples are not cooperating with him. He pulls out his sword, howls at us, and everyone but Oleander cowers in fear. Oleander says he doesn’t like being pushed around and has some pent up aggression to take out. Oleander attacks Daven.

We really, really don’t want to add another party kill to our rap sheet. After the fear wears off a little, Nabila casts Hold Person on Daven, and Sindra puts him to sleep. We get the heck outta the Silver Sword Inn and leave Daven there to sober up in jail.

The next day we return to jail for Daven and ask him why he wanted to go north so badly. He says there’s an abandoned Whispering Way hideout there. He has a map, but how he got it, no one bothered to ask. Nabila wants to visit the Weeping Woman shrine. The shrine is made of black marble. Nabila doesn’t know what it is. Oleander mentions it looks like the woman from his creepy vision in Tharindor — it looks like Nabila. He wants to leave immediately.

On the way out we visit Madame Orra at Heart’s Desire and she gives us our reward. It’s a Wand of Wonder. It is, in essence, a wild surge in a wand. A wild mage can control it and cast any spell the mage knows without risking a wild surge. Sindra is giddy and cradles it, whispering to it, like Daven does with Gideon. Except Gideon talks back.

We spend about a week in Vogelbrucke relaxing. Sindra learns spells, Daven learns to read, and Nabila and Oleander have a special quiet moment about Aegecia and Oleander’s test. He isn’t sure he passed. He says he’s sorry he inconvenienced us. He’s also sorry about Tress and stresses that she will not be a problem in the future. We send the portrait of Professor Elias to Corbin in Schwarzwald. We also attend Nina’s execution and see that Roxanna and Philippe are getting on nicely. So yaay.

Next we venture north to the Whispering Way’s hideout. It takes a day and a half to get there. There’s a large stone dais with gagged skulls and sacrificial scenes carved into it. Standing behind the dais is a creepy tree. Nabila goes up to inspect the dais. The ground gives way and she falls into a pit filled with rusty spikes. Somehow it didn’t kill her. Well, that’s the way in. Daven uses his ring of feather fall and floats down, while Sindra casts Tenser’s Floating Disc and ferries the rest of us down. The door is stuck, but Daven kicks it down.

There’s a dark hallway in front of us. Daven pulls out Gideon, but Gideon’s light isn’t very bright. Gideon says it’s because there’s a lot of dark energy in there. As we walk up a passage, the temperature drops. A thin layer of ice covers the wall. Nabila falls in a trance, covering her ears with her hands. She says she hears the screams of people the Whispering Way performed human sacrifices on. She asks Sindra about the spell where her hands turn blue — Chill Touch, a necromancy spell — but doesn’t say more about it.

The next room is filled with cookery and kitchen equipment. A pile of mulch has mushrooms growing out of it. Nabila fails her herbalism check and tells everyone the mushrooms are perfectly safe to eat. Our new drug addicts help themselves to the magic mushrooms and trip out. A well in the room lead to an underground river but it has long since dried up.

In another room, we smell rotten flesh. The walls are covered with horrific murals. A big pile of bones sit in the corner. We have visions of two spectral apparitions, a man in scholar’s robes and a woman in mage robes. They inspect the murals on the wall. A groan sounds from nowhere and a half rotted female with glowing green eyes attacks them. They deduce that the woman was a failed experiment, and the mage burns it. The vision disappears. Moments later something stumbles towards us, the half rotted female. She attacks us. Nabila commands it, and we slaughter it. Sindra takes a vial of Haunt ectoplasm to play with later.

We dig through the pile of bones and find an interesting bone with the word “Homer” written on it in archaic Common language. The next room is an old dormitory with rotted bedframes. A large banner on the wall reads, “Undeath is the truest form of existence.” Creepy. The next room has more rotted furniture with horrific sacrifice scenes carved on the wall. A stinking, dark skinned humanoid leaps out and attacks us. Nabila commands it. We kill it. He has a tube made out of bone tucked in his belt.

We decide to rest up for the night. Sindra Identifies the items. Homer is a wand of magic missles, and the scroll in the bone tube is a Scroll of Spectral Hand. We manage to rest, but our sleep is plagued by horrible nightmares of human sacrifice, mutilation, and being turned into undead.

The next morning we head north. A blast of freezing wind hits us and blows out our torches. We have another vision. It’s the same man and female mage. It’s a young Professor Elias from thirty years ago. He greets us and says he feels strange talking to nothing, but his message was a warning. He explained that his group found the hideout and were looking for clues about the Gallowspire, where Tar-Baphon’s remains were entombed. Instead of finding clues they found something big, bad, and terrible in the next chamber. He said it was a guardian, a creature from the Nine Hells. The cultists didn’t know how powerful the creature was. Professor Elias said they had to get a priestess to subdue the beast by casting a spell. The priestess left a plague of scaly death in the chamber. There may be treasure in the chamber, but it’s dangerous to explore. Nabila thinks the priestess was Shelly the Dour; Shelly was the only one capable of creating such a big, nasty plague. But why was Shelly working with the professor if Aegecia tends to work alone?

Since Nabila is pretty much immune to plague, she goes down the hall to investigate while the rest of us run away. The chamber doors are fifteen feet tall, made out of brass. Nabila hears a hissing sound as she opens the doors and sticks her head in. A thick grey mist floats around the chamber, and in the middle she sees the remains a massive humanoid figure with wings, claws, teeth, at least ten feet tall. The floor is carved in elaborate patterns. Colored lines intersect and bisect the room. Nabila returns to us, describes the colored lines, and we decide to check out the south end of the hideout.

There’s a temple. Black and red twisted candles burn. Still burn after all this time. More gross carvings on the wall. In the middle of the room is an amorphous shaped idol carved out of black and red stone. There’s a glass box at the base of the statue. The box has an octagonal shaped depression in the center of the box. Inside the box is a book with a deep blue binding called the Serpin Lexicon. Sindra says the Whispering Way held black masses in that room, and the book is full of dark magic and lore. We can’t get into the box without a key.

We continue to explore. Another room has more disturbing carvings, this time with a tentacled creature. On the wall are some words and an octagonal shaped sapphire necklace. That’s the key. But we don’t dare touch it just yet. The words are a riddle. “I am the end of Before/The Beginning of the End/Vacant to Kings/Present to Queens.”

We find a secret door and go through it. Another door to the south. Izzy picks the lock and we find yet another torture chamber. This one was stylish with obsidian tiles, an X-shaped bronze cross with adjustable silver manacles, inlaid with large pearls. Along the wall were four coffins made of a strange alloy, with the gagged skulls embossed in the metal. One coffin with a lid ajar revealed spikes. The person in the coffin had to stand up. They could either be burned or frozen with water.

The very next room was also filled with coffins, lots of them. At least a dozen skeletons attack and they are all missing jaws. There are four daddy skeletons wearing armor and carrying big heavy weapons. After an intense battle, we emerge victorious.

Loot:

oriental topaz worth 1,000gp
five large diamonds worth 5,000gp each
12pp, 2gp, 1,000sp
six doses of orcish coffee
philter of love
Elfbane Cutlass — cold iron shortsword +3, +4 vs half elves, +6 vs surface elves, glows pale blue (Spud)
Wand of Wonder, 14 charges (Sindra)
Wand of Magic Missile, 6 charges, codeword “Homer” (Sindra)
Scroll of Spectral Hand (Sindra)
61sp, 9cp
jade tiara worth 400gp
*two 2-handed swords
*spear
*club
1,500gp

*need to detect magic on Daddy Skeletons’ weapons

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