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Session 42 – Chapter One

1st of Flamerule of the year 1492

With the fresh singeing they decided that finding a place to rest would be the best choice and not explore too far right now. They also talked about how to move forward, and that fire seemed to be a valuable resource, but perhaps not using Fireball every time. Moving slowly to the old bandit room, they made their way through the great room and were able to see that the previously smashed door and ransacked room was still the same as it was before.

The previous entry to the secret door and ladder downward had been smashed and filled with rubble and mud, assumably by the ghouls to keep the spiders from the underground.  With a gaping hole in the wall, they were able to see a mass of spider webs outside.  They thought themselves safer than the great hall, since this room had been part of a stone tower and had stone ceilings whereas the rest of the ruins all had wooden ceilings.  Hoping ti was safe for a short rest, the party huddled together in a corner away from the hole leading to the outside.

While trying to recover, a huge swarm of spiders came into the tower room from the spider webs outside. It occupied a huge space and while it did not move that quickly, it was able to engage and start swarming many members of the party quickly and easily.  Dancer and Fwoosh retreated to the hall again knowing that they were limited in any damage they could apply, although Fwoosh did cover part of the swarm with some oil from his lantern.  With some judicious fire and magic and a lot of weapons swinging they were able to finally kill off all the spiders in the swarm. The party was further wounded from the wounds they had been carrying already.

Deciding that the staircase might be the safest, the moved slowly back toward the stairs leading down. Vladimir suggested that they move quickly to limit the giant spider from being able to attack them and ISAC concurred, but Dancer scoffed at the need to move quickly since the distance was so short. It was then that as they were moving through without much of a care, a gigantic spider leg stabbed through the wooden ceiling hitting Yllanys knocking him out.  The party started running with a couple of them grabbing Yllanys on the way.  Moving down the stairs to where they had stone between them and what appeared to be a gargantuan spider in the ruined upper floor. This assumption proved to be correct.  The spiders did not come down, and the ghouls did not come up.  It seems that they found a somewhat safe place, although fairly uncomfortable to rest in.

With a short rest behind them, they sent Fwoosh out invisibly to see if he could find the Dwarves, and if they were still alive after the burst of flame from the fireball having ignited all the webs in the keep. Moving from room to room he found more remains of spiders from the fire, and in the last room where the giant lizard had been he found a large pile of what appeared to be dead Dwarves.  While moving invisible in the halls and rooms Fwoosh was able to see the gargantuan spider moving above him and occasionally looking through the holes in the floor apparently searching for the intrudres.As he appeared within, he found seven of the Dwarves had been dragged and leaned against the walls on the fair side.  Guarding the Dwarves against the wall was a small bulldog.

Bulldog Guarding Dwarves

Feeding one of the Dwarves a healing pill he was able to get one conscious and aware.  Fwoosh was able to whisper and discuss the situation with the Dwarf while having him calm the guard dog whose named turned out to be Gruff.  Bringing the dog back to the party to introduce him to the rest Fwoosh then ran around exploring the remainder of the spaces to ensure there are not any other Dwarves in the ground floor of the Moathouse.

Now that they knew that there were several Dwarves still alive and needed to be rescued, they began their planning.  Realizing that the Dwarves were very wounded and would not be able to sustain any additional damage, especially from a gigantic spider, they planned on having the most of the party move to the great room and act as a diversion for the spider while ISAC moved quietly to the Dwarves, heal them sufficiently to have them be able to move, and then attempt to have them follow him back to the stairs while not being detected by the spider.

Most of the party ran out to the great room making noise and shining lights to attract the spider, ISAC made his way to the Dwarves.  Their plan was very successful as the spider above them focused on whomever was carrying a light as well as those making noises.  Attacking the stabbing legs when they could they chipped away at the health of the spider while it was successful in causing a fair amount of damage to those attempting to be a diversion.

Once the Dwarves were successfully moved to the staircase, the party moved the combat to the open courtyard to allow them to attack the spider more easily.  While it did provide easier access to attack the spider, it also allowed it to attack them as it leaped into the middle of the courtyard allowing it to engage everyone. While no one died, many members were knocked unconscious, and Angelica poisoned and paralyzed at one point.  As their attacks continued, it eventually was damage enough to cause it to flee from the keep.  With its gargantuan size it was easily able to climb the walls and escape quickly.

Gargantuan Spider

Disappointed that they were not able to kill it, the party was also relieved that it was gone, and their survival guaranteed once again. With the spiders seemingly gone, they spent the next hour collecting the Dwarves’ gear and buried the dead ones under rock.  Leaving the armor and shields, they took the weapons and personal items from the dead Dwarves to bring back to Red Larch.

And that is where the session ended.

Session 41 – Chapter One

30th of Kythorn of the year 1492

With their long rest over the party once again started strategizing about how they should move forward.  Dancer was very much in favor of going in the correct direction this time, while Vladimir thought that it might be better for them to move more quickly rather than slowly and quietly. After analyzing the situations, it seems that if they move slowly, it was increasing their chance of an encounter, and hanging around the dead bodies afterwards seems to cause ravening ghouls to those dead bodies.

After exchanging some gear to replenish arrow supplies, Dancer and ISAC checked out the charnel room to see if more ravening ghouls had come back for a meal, but it was currently empty of ghouls. Fwoosh grabbed a finger from the Ghoul Queen hoping that it might add in some sort of protection.  There was a brief argument on who would be chopping off the finger, Yllanys or Fwoosh, but it was resolved quickly with Fwoosh ending up with a pinky from her.

Setting out they followed a different path from last time hoping to get to the stairs they had only vaguely remembered. While they got a fair distance, it was inevitable that some ravening ghouls came across them.  The combat went fairly well until Yllanys Thunder Stepped and created a noise that was guaranteed to summon more of the toothsome monsters, and it did. When you use a spell that can be heard 300 feet from the source in a ghoul filled underground, it would draw in creatures from all corners.

Ravening Ghouls

Having a second wave did not prove difficult, but it was the continued fight that had the opportunity for additional reinforcements if not ended quickly enough. Moving forward quickly after the battle hoping to miss further ghoul reinforcements. For some reason, no further reinforcements showed up, maybe they had finally reduced the ghoul population sufficiently?

Moving forward they found themselves in the old ogre’s room, giving Angelica memories of being bitten a fair amount.  The room was still pretty stinky from the previous owner and all the current ones.  Every wall was pierced with more ghoul tunnels creating a situation where there was no real safe place to move through.  One of the paths to upstairs was adjacent to this room, but both the wall that had previous hidden the stairs and ladder was found to be destroyed and blocked with rubble and mud completely blocking any passage to upstairs from this location.

Dancer snuck ahead to peer into the next room where the stairs leading upwards were, and there he found a new ghoul that seemed to be on watch.  The room was filled with bails of dried grass and hay with two large lit braziers near the stairs with barrels of unlit torches in them.  This new ghoul while looking around occasionally seemed very focused on the stairs ahead of him.

New Ghoul

Unnoticed, Dancer snuck back to the party for them to choose the best avenue in attacking it.  Deciding that Dancer would make an assassination attack and then move back to the party, and they would draw it to them.  Once again, the Tabaxi proved to be more silent than that perception of the ghoul, he was able to get off his critical hit attack but was just not quite enough to kill it. Fleeing backward as the plan called for, they waited for the ghoul to come to them.  However, this ghoul seemed to operate differently and instead started screaming a horrific wail that seemed to be some sort of alarm or alert noise.  They could hear it run off into one of the tunnels escaping the room it had been in. While they were expecting this new ghoul, they instead received a small horde of ravening ghouls that swarmed out of every hole around them.

It seemed that every round brought in more ghouls to attack them, and the number did not decrease until after nearly a minute of combat when they managed to bring down the numbers and a lack of reinforcements allowed them to finally kill off all the little nasty ghouls. At no time did that new ghoul reappear.

Rushing forward to the room with the stairs finally allowed them to see the set up and that the entire stairs also seemed to be filled with dried grass and hay.  Knowing that the stairs went up for almost 80 feet, it was a huge chimney of hay.  The party figured it was some sort of ghoul defense against the spider encroaching on their space. Here once again they argued the merit of either clearing the stairs or just lighting it on fire, and once again, fire won the argument.  Backing off as much as they could, they Firebolted the hay in the stairs and watching it burn its way up.  Hoping that they would not be faced with any additional ghouls while waiting they prepared themselves to go up.  It took nearly half an hour for it to burn upwards as well as for the stone to cool sufficiently for them to travel on it.

Moving upwards the 80 feet they found themselves in a web wonderland.  The fire had managed to burn all the web near the stairs but did not seem to be enough to light on fire the majority of the web upstairs.  Making enough noise and disturbing the webs as they started to move forward attracted a pair of large spiders that attacked them.  In a desperate act, Yllanys opted for the Fireball option and burned the spiders as well as the majority of the web in the main hall.  This ignited a firestorm as it was sufficient to light the majority of the web on fire which even caused damage to the exposed party members.  Now they were able to look into the great hall, or at least those with some form of darkvision.

And this is where the session ended.

Session 40 – Chapter One

30th of Kythorn of the Year 1492

Getting some additional information from the Dwarves learning that their captain was upstairs somewhere, perhaps captured by the spiders and that he had a sending stone to communicate with Banmin back in Red larch.  They also explained that the upstairs area was completely filled with spiders, and there was one as large as a house.  They were also warned that all the spiders were poisonous, and the entire area was covered in spider webs making moving around very difficult.

During the discussion it came around to the types of ghouls seen.  They were told about larger ghouls that they had seen as they were captured.  When asked about the numbers of ghouls, the party was told that given that most warren extend for miles, they should just consider the numbers somewhat huge, but if they killed enough that it should suppress encounters for a period of time. The Dwarves also brought up that with the Ghoul Queen dead, the ghouls had less of a reason to migrate here and in fact had not seen any ghouls in the area where the queen resided except for some of the beefier ones that were summoned, given orders, and then sent out.  None of the ravening ghouls would come in except on the far side of the room where it was attached to the feeding hall.

Vladimir handed out food to feed the Dwarves since they had not eaten for a couple of days. Since all the Dwarves were fingerless, it required everyone to feed them.  Strapping on some long swords and shields to the stubby arms giving them some means of defending themselves when the party left to rescue the remaining ones upstairs. Getting the Dwarves settled into the cage which seemed to be the only safe place in the cavern, the party took a short rest trying to recover a little before heading out again.

At some point during the rest, Dancer was able to hear munching sounds coming from the room full of bodies and bones.  It was not constantly during the rest but came on and off as if groups of things came and went at different times. During the watch, the group discussed their options and what direction they should head to get upstairs.  Knowing that there were two entrances, they considered that the one that had a ladder with a room in-between the underground and the upstairs was probably not the best path if they had wounded Dwarves to bring back.

Once the rest was complete, Dancer snuck ahead to look into the feeding room and once again there was a group of ravening ghouls.  With the group deciding that it would be best to get rid of them before heading forward they engaged them in combat.  Trying to use the tunnels to their advantage and a judicially placed Cloud of Daggers allowed them to quickly kill all of the ravening ghouls that came running. Even with reinforcements coming out of one of the tunnels and ambushing Yllanys, they were still able to kill them fairly quickly.

Ravening Ghouls

At the end of the battle while they were figuring out what they needed to do next, Yllanys kept pulling at the skin on his face.  It seemed it was very elastic and stretching fairly fair when he pulled it. While the party thought it odd and Fwoosh volunteered to skin him they moved on.  Going through the tunnels until they were able to travel through the Dwarven built hallways.  Not trusting the tight tunnels, they felt that the wider carved hallways were a better choice, and it helped that they knew where they were going.  That is until they did not.

At a major intersection, Vladimir remembered that they should be turning right, but the party confused which hand was which and went left.  On the way, they encountered more of the ravening ghouls and eventually leading them to a tomb area that they had never been in before.  Waiting for them there were several regular ghouls and two larger tougher looking ghouls. Again, combat ensued with additional ghouls showing up in the middle adding to the chaos.  It was during this combat that Yllanys pulled on his skin hard enough to pull it off and summon his Arcane Epidermis which made all those that were watching almost vomit. It proved to be something very similar to Vladimir’s Echo, but more Arcane in nature. All of those too were killed and the party continued forward.  It was at this point that that Vladimir told everyone that they had turned the wrong way and that he meant for them to head the opposite direction.

Ghouls

But, given that this was something new to them, they decided to loot all the sarcophaguses in the area.  It proved to be enriching with a fair amount of treasure and even magic items.  They were a little disappointed that they failed to collect all the loot on their previous visit.  After emptying out all the tombs they thought that here was the best place for another rest, of which they got less than half of it when a ghoul worm came out a tunnel and attacked.  It had a great defense in that it would dive underground as an attack was about to hit, and appear in another location and attack, all as a reaction. It was able to swallow Angelica bringing her to near death before they killed it, and it vomited her up.

Ghoul Worm

All of this then led to a large description where Dancer was a proponent of departing with the Dwarves that they have, while some wanted to find a better place to hole up and rest, but most of the party still wanted to figure out the best way to rescue the rest of the Dwarves if possible. Deciding that they needed to rest somehow before venturing more into the maze of tunnels, they made their way back to Dwarves they had already rescued hoping that nothing had disturbed them.

As they passed through the feeding room, they did notice that there were additional bodies added to the room.  Something had dragged most of the dead ghouls to that room but did not venture into the room where the Ghoul Queen had resided.  Her body and the four Shield Ghoul bodies were still piled up where the party had left them, adjacent to the cage that held the Dwarves.

With the two groups rejoined, the party decided to attempt and rest again.  This time they elected for another long rest just a couple of hours after their last one. The repopulated Ruined Moathouse has proved to be more difficult than the first time.  As they started their rest, both Angelica and Ace were feeling a bit under the weather. They were able to complete the long rest and were ready to face the evils here once again.

And this is where the session ended.

Session 39 – Chapter One

29th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Not wanting to continue lingering in the hall they thought that they might be able to take a rest in Lareth’s office, hoping that it was still somewhat secure. Moving that direction while applying a little bit of healing they found that all the heavy secure doors that they had left behind had all been ripped from the hinges and only broken pieces of wood left behind. Dancer took a small foray into some of the tunnels and found that it was just a nest of narrow somewhat freshly dug out passageways.

With ISAC continued to scout ahead finding blood splattered hallways.  The walls and floors covered in claw marks the way forward proved to be gruesome, although oddly enough, no bones or anything else in the hallway besides the dried blood.  Continuing forward he found more holes in the walls, more warren tunnels and eventually through one passageway he was able to see it led to a much larger room. Updating the party, they gathered around to do some strategizing.

Having dithered sufficiently long enough, more of the ravening ghouls came running out of another hole nearby racing to attack the party.  Once again, while individually they were not very tough, but the constant waves of them was wearing out the party somewhat rapidly, especially since they seemed very intent on those that were more wounded than those less wounded, in fact they seemed to be in more of a frenzy with their attacks when blood was exposed.

Ravening Ghoul

Starting down the corridor toward the office they attempted to move as silently as possible, but with both Angelica and Vladimir clad in plate armor, that was difficult. Trying to avoid to anything within the cavern, ISAC snuck passed to the office finding that its door had always been removed forcibility.  In fact, every door that had been there had been removed. With his immediate scouting complete, he informed the group of what he found. They were concerned that they had only found ghouls and no sign of the missing dwarven soldiers.

Deciding to poke the nest they knew about, they hoped to decrease the number of ghouls they could encounter later on. Yllanys and Dancer snuck forward to look closer into the room.  Taking a peek in the large cavern to one side they were able to see that it was filled with blood, bones, many carcasses of undefinable creatures, and a large mass of the ravening ghouls. Perhaps being surprised at the size of the cavern, or the quantity of ghouls, Yllanys stepped on a small bone breaking it and causing everything in the room to immediately look at him. Dancer leaped in front to defend, the ghouls swarmed forward and fighting a retreating battle with a small Thunderstep jump they led the ghouls back to the party and a massive combat ensued in the hall.

Sometime in the middle of the battle more ghouls showed up in the rear as well as attacking the middle of the group from another tunnel. While it seemed hours of effort it was only but a couple of minutes before the battle was completed.  Now with everyone heavily wounded and needing some rest, the shifted most of the bodies to one side to provide an escape route and then they started moving to the office.  On the way more ravening ghouls came running of a tunnel and engaged the group once again. With so few this time, they were dispatched quickly so the party was able to move into the office.

The office had been destroyed and there were two tunnels leading out from it.  Moving all the furniture into the two tunnels as far back as they could, hoping that this would provide enough of a barricade to warn them, or better, keep the little mouthy ghouls away. While the furniture was being moved around Dancer wandered down a few of the passageways to see what was immediately near them.

Vladimir used the time to send a few messages with his Book of Notes.

“Quite infested, making our way through. No dwarves yet.”

“Quite infested, making our way through. No dwarves yet.”

“Infested with what?”

“Undead ghouls”

“That is very bad – have you encountered a leader ghoul?”

“No, what is that?”

“Larger warrens will have a leader in a dug-out cavern.”

“May have found cavern. Will update tomorrow.”

“Yes”

They shifted into watch mode with each group trying to keep aware of anything happening.  During most of the watches they could hear dragging and eating noises from the corridor where they had left all the bodies. As the watches passed, the noises slowly got closer to the room, but those on watch wisely kept out of sight and were not discovered.  It seems that the large piles of dead ghouls they had left behind was enough of a distraction to occupy the rest of the ghouls that had wandered by.

Besides the somewhat constant noise of bodies being dragged are chewed on, the long rest was somewhat uneventful.

30th of Kythorn of the year 1492

It was about 2am when the party completed their rest and wanted to make some progress on finding the Dwarves.  With the information Vladimir had gotten they knew that they most likely would need to go into the warrens more and seek out a possible ghoul leader.  With the long rest also came some growth with most of the party members as well as new capabilities.  One of those was that ISAC could finally manifest Keirin after all this time and having frequently mentioned him.  Using Dancer and Keirin to explore a bit more of the area they found another large cavern with ceilings over 50 feet high and something disturbing on the other side.

In the heart of the cavern, your eyes are immediately drawn to a figure seated upon a throne constructed from bones, a macabre monument to her victories. She radiates an imposing aura of sovereignty, cloaked in shadows that seem to ebb and flow around her form. Her skin is eerily pale, casting a luminescent glow in the faint light emanating from the lichen-covered walls. Her eyes, imbued with a chilling intelligence and a malevolent gleam. Her fingers, slender and reminiscent of skeletal hands, are poised elegantly on the throne’s armrests, each movement she makes is imbued with a dark grace.

Surrounding her, four towering guardians stand in silent vigil, their visages a grotesque blend of the human and the monstrous. Their mottled grey skin stretches over robust forms, and their eyes shine with an unyielding loyalty to the figure on the throne. Clad in patchwork armor forged from the remnants of battles past, they present a formidable front, a clear warning of the violence they’re capable of unleashing. Despite their fearsome appearance and battle-scarred gear, they move with a purpose unified by the will of their sovereign.

With the party hiding in a passageway leading to the large cavern only Keirin attempted to start approaching, but the rest were not as silent as they had hoped, and a voice rang out to them.

“Ah, so the living dares to tread within my realm,” she muses aloud, her tone laced with mockery. “You stand now in the court of shadows, where life and death converge. Tell me, mortals, have you come seeking power, redemption, or is it perhaps the folly of heroism that compels you?”

“Do not think me unkind,” she continues, her voice a whisper that carries a palpable chill. “For I offer you a choice—serve me in life or serve me in death. Decide quickly, for my patience, unlike my reign, is not eternal.”

The party moved into the cavern, and it was revealed to be larger than they had thought with the floor in multiple tiers of height first going down a couple of levels, and then up again to a higher tier than where they entered where the ghoul queen and her guardians were watching.  Because of the distance, only ISAC could see her and describe what he saw.  The rest could only squint hoping to catch a glimpse of what he described. A small amount of banter occurred until ISAC noticed that she had a plate in her hands.  A plate full of small thick worms things.  It was a plate full of Dwarven fingers.

Ghoul Queen

Shield Ghouls

Thinking there was not any room for negotiation, he began the attack with the party trying to get to the other side and be able to inflict some damage to the unseen foes.  She was able to drop in a Phantasmic Death spell on the entire party damaging most of them and causing Keirin to be forced from this plane and back to his resting place. Angelica brought out her Driftglobe and lit up almost the entire cavern with daylight.  Unlike some of the other ghouls they had encountered, these did not seem to be bothered but the bright light, but it had at least provided light for everyone else who could now see what they faced.

The combat was fierce and heavy, and the guardians proved to be much tougher than expected and it seemed that they were able to shield her from any spell and damage and took that damage in her place.  Their constant healing made them more difficult to kill quickly.  Eventually they and the queen were killed and the cage full of fingerless Dwarves were saved.  ISAC applied a little bit of healing on them to try and make sure they were not on death’s door and would survive at least another day.

From the seven Dwarves they found out that they had started with 31 soldiers but through attrition in the swamp and the attacks of the giant spiders upstairs they had suffered man casualties.  The told the party that they thought some might still be alive above since they saw spider capturing Dwarves when the ghouls had broken through and grabbed a bunch of the Dwarves.  They complained about some sort of necromancer or cleric of some type showed up and healed them so that the queen could continue dining on their fingers. The Dwarves knew that Banmin back in Red Larch would be able to heal them once they would be able to escape back to there.

Dancer and Fwoosh began the process of digging through any loot while Yllanys pointed to anything that seemed to be radiating magic.

And this is where the session ended.

Session 38 – Chapter One

27th of Kythorn of the year 1492

The heavy rains kept all the characters inside the tent eating a cold meal and huddling for warmth.  The heavy weather kept the wildlife away and the evening passed without issue.

28th of Kythorn of the year 1492

The morning brought a break in the weather with a slight chill, but no more rain.  Vladimir was moving a little slowly and relayed that he had gotten a message from his notebook first thing in the morning.

“Communication with Dwarves at Moathouse has stopped. Investigate and rescue if needed. Will help repair relationship and possibly give you forces to use against cultists.”

He then relayed a dream he had had as well last night.

“Beneath the shadow of yon ancient peaks, where whispers fill the chillèd air,

A band of dwarven soldiers wend their hearts oppressed by weighty care.

Through swamps that clutch with fingers cold, ‘neath skies of somber, dire grim,

Their path beset by perils manifold; their prospects verily dim.

Giant names, in silence utter’d, with lizards lurking, furtive, nearby,

And plants that breathe of death’s own shroud, instil their brave hearts with fear.

The mire, a sepulchre of eld, where light doth fear to tread,

With every step, their dread is swell’d, amidst the realm of dread.

Forth they press’d their fated course, to ruins stark and drear,

An ancient moathouse, now forlorn, where hope doth disappear.

The courtyard, open ‘neath the sky, a domain of webs did hold,

Where spiders, vast as towers high, their darksome nightmares told.

Some to venom fell, swift and vile, their cries but fleeting breath,

And others, in that ghastly pile, were snatch’d by silent death.

Yet worse than death, for those yet live, to darkness were they borne,

Where shadows whisper, writhe, and thrive, in the everlasting morn.

Beneath the keep, a warren lies, where light hath ne’er been shown,

The remnants of the band, with sighs, beheld horrors yet unknown.

Not beasts of fur, nor fang, nor claw, but hunger ever pure,

That stalks the halls with gaping maw, where screams do not endure.

In chambers damp, with walls that close, the captur’d met their end,

Their final stand, a fruitless oppose, in that eternal bend.

Yet legends speak of courage bright, that in the darkest den,

Of souls who’d brave the perilous night, to face the shadowed fen.

Hearken to this tale of yore, of dwarves so stout and brave,

Into the dark, the damp, the gore, where light and life doth crave.

And mark thee well, the toll they paid, in that fortress, rent and cleft,

For only through such sacrifice, are tales of valor kept.

Yet in the silence they remain, those taken by the night,

Awaiting brave souls to reclaim and bring them to the light.

Through swamp and ruin, spider’s lair, to where the shadows sup,

To challenge death, its lair to dare, and slay the nameless usurper.”

Which he took as collaboration of the message from this notebook and interpreted the message that the Dwarves might all be dead, but some could be rescued.  The group decided that while this was important, they should spend part of their day searching the area for the supposed bandit lair here. A fruitless four hours later they were fairly sure that there was not a bandit camp nearby, and if there had been it had been a temporary one to give them a batter location to attack caravans on the road which was very close by.

Moving to the northern part of the swamp and the secret entrance tunnel they had found when they departed last time they arrived at the edge of the swamp before dark, and not wanting to attract anything within the swamp moved off a couple of miles to the north.  Setting up camp was much easier with the less rough weather.  They got a hot meal and moved on to the watches.

With only half of the party having already been to the Moathouse, the newer members were interested in what the floor plan looked like and what they might encounter. They described the bandits, orcs, ice hag, cultists, zombies, and the giant ticks they had found.  They told them about the different secret passageways that existed and that it might be possible to use to get to different areas.  From Vladimir dreams they also assumed that they there were a great number of spiders and what seemed like ghouls infesting the keep.

It was during the second watch that Dancer and Yllanys were beset upon by four wights.  While Dancer was not surprised, the wights were able to close very quickly and engage Yllanys in combat. With a lot of yelling for the sleeping members, the four wights were killed off fairly quickly.  Only Fwoosh had great difficulty in waking up for the combat with his new magical pillow that allowed him to sleep very soundly.

Wight

29th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Finishing off the watches and catching a little extra sleep to make up for the interruptions they headed south to the swamp. When they left last the swamp had been frozen but now with the tempest storms the swamp was warm, humid, miserable, and much wetter and deeper than last time. Angelica was able to find part of the old wagon trail and they were about halfway through after a few of hours, just in time for a pair of swamp trolls to jump the party and surprising all of the except for the unnaturally alert Dancer.

Angelica took to the air while the rest spread themselves out to go for the attack.  This is one of the few times that Vladimir was able to shine.  His maul glowed with an evil light as he was able to demolish one of the trolls by himself and something reduced it down to number but a ragged desiccated troll sack. The party was able to take down the other troll but Vladimir with his blood raging went and smashed the dead troll which proved to be not quite dead and mashed it down, and when completed, it too was strangely sucked dry.

Swamp Troll

Moving on quickly, it only took a few additional hours before they were able to approach the tunnel entrance. Wanting to take a short break and rest the party found a clearing to have a short cold camp while Dancer climbed a tree to watch the tunnel entrance.  It was shortly after the rest started; he spotted several short figures at the entrance.  They were greyish and seemed reluctant to move into the sunlight.  Reporting back to the rest, Yllanys moved to the path near the tunnel and unleashed a fireball which was able to incinerate the whole group leaving the entrance clear once again.  Dusting himself off, Yllanys went back to camp and the group continued their rest.

Short Ghoul with Teeth

With their rest completed the group moved into the tunnel.  Expecting the tunnel to end at a set of doors they were concerned when they came across several new tunnels that seemed to be freshly dug.  While moving forward carefully, a group of the small ravenous ghouls ran out of the tunnel and began attacking. As they started clearing the hall, it seemed that the noise attracted more, and when ISAC fired off an Unstable Explosion it pretty much guaranteed another group arriving.  One of the groups that showed while fewer in number, were tougher, taller, and seemed more dangerous.

Ghoul

Many rounds of combat ensued with reinforcements arriving a couple of times, but they were finally able to complete the combat without causing additional ghouls from showing up.

And this is where the session ended.

Session 37 – Chapter One

26th of Kythorn of the year 1492

With the disdainful toss of Vladimir across the lake, the giant skeleton stood up and approached the rest of the characters.  The 25-foot-tall giant already seemed a bit worse for wear and did not seem to be up to its full power which allowed the party to slowly grind it down and kill it.  Every hit from it was heavy and rarely missed.  It was one of the toughest individual opponents they have had yet.

Bone Giant Skeleton

Searching the rest of the cave proved to be very fruitful for collecting coin and several letters that provided some surprising information.  ISAC walked into the lake to see if he could find anything buried and found that the entire lake bottom was covered in bones, orc, goblin, ogre, and other types that he could not identify.

First Letter from Albaeri

Second Letter from Albaeri

Letter from Ilmeth

Coded Letter Front Page

Coded Letter Back Page

The letters from Albaeri and Ilmeth provided a little more information, and the coded letters were just stashed away to be dealt with later which both ISAC and Yllanys was able to identify as a simple substitution cypher. Yllanys took his time and identified the axe to see what it is was capable of. Vladimir was happy to have another two-handed weapon.  The Dwarven great axe proved to be magical and improved his bearing in some way, with his voice deepened, and more confident. The length of their stay was long enough for everyone to take additional necrotic damage from some unknown source.

Dwarven Axe Sanngriðr

While chatting with each other, Vladimir realized that they had not seen that many bandits in one location, and usually the only bleeding eye bandit had been one or two, and usually the leaders.  This was nearly 30 bleeding eye bandit all in one place that was only a couple of hours away from Red Larch. Not wanting to stay in a cave that continued to cause damage they camped outside and out of range of whatever was the cause and took a short rest.  Since they were close to where they thought a bandit hideout existed, they started the trek to the next location.

The travel was uneventful although dark clouds above them started giving them warnings that rain might be immanent.  Arriving a little distance away, they had Fwoosh and Dancer start investigating neat the cave entrance.  Starting at about 50 feet away, they found large splashes of blood all over the ground and on the trees around them.  They could see some remnants of clothing, broken pickaxes, and shredded coin purses with the coin scatter on the ground.  There were several drag marks from the blood pools to the cave. Going back to party and explained what they found, Angelica was horrified as her worries about those Dwarf miners had probably proved to be true.  They had told them about the ambush, and the Dwarves had followed that trail and met something that was hostile here.

Fwoosh using his magical dagger Reszur to turn invisible, he snuck back to the cave attempting to avoid the blood as much as possible.  Getting to the entrance, he was almost overwhelmed with the musty smell coming from the cave. It was something funky and nasty at the same time. The bloody trail of what he assumed to be dragged bodies further into the cave. Just passed the entrance to the left was an old circus wagon with what appeared to be piles of stinky fur with arrows sticking out of it. Sneaking further into the cave while moving more slowly to try and not alert anything that might be inside.

As he approached a curve in the cave corridor the blood and drag marks continued further in.  As he moved in further, a kicked a small rock that cracked against the wall.  As he stopped and listened, he could hear some humphing noise that was moving quickly toward him. He moved to the side of the wall while two large owlbears came running down the corridor sniffing and looking for intruders.  One ran past him, but the second one stopped and started swiping near Fwoosh.  It seems that he had been found through the superior senses of the owlbear.

Taking damage and running outside, Fwoosh fled while the owlbear screeched quite loudly alert the rest of the party to maybe save Fwoosh.  Through the confusion of battle between the owlbears, their children that ran out of the cave shortly afterwards, and the party, Fwoosh was knocked unconscious while still invisible.  The party managed to kill the two large owlbears and all the children with some difficulty, most of the party was knocked unconscious as well, but were easily seen since they were still visible. The party split, with some going into the cave to find Fwoosh while others tended to the wounded and Yllanys started practicing his skinning techniques on all the owlbears.

Great Horned Owlbear

Young Owlbear

Owlbear Cub

Inside the cave, they found all the miner Dwarves.  They had been killed, mangled, and most of the piled up in one of the cave rooms appearing to be the one where all the younger owlbears resided. They also found three dead merchants.  Angelica was able to determine that they had died of dehydration almost two weeks ago.  Just a few days after they had been ambushed by the bandits that had presumably come from there.  Meaning that if they had come to the hideout right away, they could have saved them.  Dancer was excited about the heavy chest that was there as well.  It contained coin, some potions, and a collar, which proved to be magical.  He was quick to put it on and start attuning to gain the benefits from it as soon as possible.

Collar of Swiftness

Since it was late enough in the day, they decided to camp near by the cave assuming that the owlbears would have chased any predators away.  While sitting around the camp the group brought out the coded message and began working on trying to solve it.  It was just a simple substitution cypher, and it did not take too long to complete.

Solved Coded Letter Front Page

Solved Coded Letter Back Page

With the letter decoded, many more things seem clear to the group.  Vladimir did not look embarrassed at all about touching the hand in the last cave either. Yllanys cooked a wonderful meal with the owlbear meat, and the party was correct, in that nothing bothered them during any of the watches.

27th of Kythorn of the year 1492

With the morning started and a somewhat fresh meal using more owlbear meat, the party decided to continue south to visit the last location on their map for possible bandit locations. Their fear about the weather proved to be true and they were pounded by rain the entire day until they decided to stop for the night.

And this is where the session ended.

Session 36 – Chapter One

24th of Kythorn of the year 1492

With the meals and drinks mostly completed, the party began some information sharing with the two new members as well as with each other with what they had found recently.  Ace brought up that they had not seen nor heard about anything related to a fire cult but had about the other three assuming the Feathergale Knights were related to the air cult. Everyone had to pause as the sound of a huge storm outside started up.  They could hear the thunder and the bright light of the lightning was striking somewhat near.  The heavy rain drops smashed against the windows making for a loud constant noise in the background.

They also began to put together a set of questions for Dhelosk as well as where they might head off to in the morning.  Trying to figure out how small each group would break up into to cause as much confusion as possible. With those decisions completed most of the group went up to their rooms leaving Yllanys down chatting with Gwendolyn as well as Fwoosh and Ace playing cards and Dancer stayed in the dining area to see if he could catch any talk that was interesting.  

The only thing of interest he overheard was that it seems that the number of bandit attacks had decreased significantly in the last month, which made all the merchants happy because that made the roads safer, and they would be able to get their good through safely. Without any juicy gossip available, he also headed up to his room.

No matter which game they played, Ace was a horrible player and could not win a single hand. He lost all his gold, and then silver and every time he ran out of coin, Fwoosh would push over all that he had won from Ace so they could play some more. This continued for a few hours with the transfer of Ace’s coin back and forth several times until they too got tired and headed off to their rooms.

The discussion between Gwendolyn and Yllanys covered a lot of area, but she kept bringing the topic back to the Mirabar delegation and seemed less interested in the cultists that he had brought up. Yllanys was able to get a little more background on Dhelosk. Once Yllanys completed his flirting and headed over to the Helm at Highsun.

While there he got another drink and sat around listening in to any interesting conversation.   He was able to overhear some of the Dwarves grumbling in Dwarvish about Dancer and his ill treatment of the rescued Dwarves.  Nothing else seemed interesting, so he headed back to the Blackbutter and to bed.

With that everyone was in their rooms and finally in bed.

25th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Early in the morning Fwoosh, ISAC, and Yllanys headed down for an early morning meeting with Dhelosk. When picking up Yllanys he did notice that there was a set of wet clothes spread out drying in the room. With a few questions and odd answers later, they arrived at the bar for their meeting.  Dancer ran out quickly for a quick run to the bakery to pick up his order of five dozen bear claws, after which he went back to the Blackbutter Inn and waited for his magical quiver to be delivered. While waiting ho ordered some food and coffee.  His sharp eye noticed something odd bout the barkeep that had replaced Dhelosk.  When dropping off the drinks, there was an incongruency with it.  As if the person was actually much shorter than what could be seen.  When he paid, he held out the coin at a level of a very short person.  He was given a sharp look, and the image flashed to a well-dressed goblin taking the money, and then back to the barkeep.

Dhelosk led them into this back space by either opening a portal, or some type of magical door.  Going into a white corridor with several doors, they all went to one further down the hall and entered into a medium sized room with a round table and several chairs.  He gestured for them to sit down.  A little into the conversation Dhelosk gestured and the door opened with a tea serving being brought into the room, just floating across the space, and gently setting down on the table.

Dhelosk Quelbeard

He first handed Fwoosh an odd diagram of lines and explained he had spent a fair amount of time figuring it out and told Fwoosh that it was a celestial map interposed on a terrestrial map and that he might be able to align the diagram over a map and find things that are not on the current maps.

Celestial/Terrestrial Map

He then handed off Dancer’s magic quiver with a small note with the instructions on how to use it. Fwoosh then started working through the questions that Dancer had.

“How many bear claws would fit in a bag of hold?”

“Um, at least two maybe three thousand.”

“How long do you think they would last in a bag of holding?”

“The same length of time if you left it on a counter.”

“We were recently in a fight on the water, wherein the enemies were below us and we could not hit them.  Do you have any insights on what might be useful in a situation like that?”

“Magic, most spells will work, and water will not be a barrier unless it’s something specific like a wall of water.  There are also spell that will allow you to breath underwater and allow you to operate better while in the water.  If you were on top of the water, you must have been using something like a Water Walking spell.”

“Yeah, we have a friend who can cast that.”

That spell would prove to be very handy for crossing water, but not if you have opponents under the water because that would prevent you from doing much in the water.  If you had cancelled the spell, you could have swum down and attacked if you had piercing types of weapons or magic.”

Yllanys then asked about being trained by Dhelosk, and he seemed a bit unwilling, especially since their specialties were probably very different.  Dhelosk did say that he could provide spells when needed.  Finally, the meat of the conversation led to ISAC now asking his long list of things.

“Have you ever heard of orcs or trolls invading the valley and attacking Westbridge. There was a place known as Southkrypt.”

“This has happened numerous times over the years.”

“In 207DR, there was a large invasion of Orcs and a famous Dwarf died defending the Stone Bridge while an avatar of Moradin showed up to save the day.”

“In 932DR, The First Trollwar occurred, when a large population of trolls had been displaced from the Sword Mountains by orcs. The trolls attacked the city that would become known as Waterdeep. The retaliatory forces burned large parts of the Evermoors, purging it of all trolls.”

“In 936DR, the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt stream out of the Sword Mountains and attack Nimoar’s Hold, bringing an end to several small human realms clustered in the Dessarin Valley.”

“In 936DR, The Orcfastings War was a war between orcs of Uruth Ukrypt and the humans of the Sword Coast North and Dessarin in and around Nimoar’s Hold, which would later become Waterdeep. It took place in several individual battles and eventually it was won by the humans.”

“In 940DR, The Second Trollwar began and lasted until 952 DR. It was fought between the humans of Waterdeep, allied with cities of the North, and the trolls of the Evermoors.”

“In 942DR, Drow raiders plunder cities along the Sword Coast, enslaving many humans of the Dessarin Valley. The small realms of Harpshield and Talmost, which border the Ardeep Forest west of the ruins of Delimbiyran, are ravaged and burned.”

“In 963DR, the third Trollwar almost took place when the traitors Aviss and Fellandar led an army of trolls out of the Mere of Dead Men against Waterdeep. The trolls were survivors of the earlier Trollwars, and they believed the traitors could bring them victory in a third, and final, Trollwar, and so promised them power over the city.”

“It was around 1000DR that settlements started springing up around the Sumber Hills, creating roads and trails that bisected the hills.”

“In 1024DR, Uruth Ukrypt releases the Broken Bone orc horde, which emerges from the Sword Mountains bent on destroying Waterdeep.”

“In 1235DR, the largest orc horde ever sweeps from the north; many lands overrun. The orcs reach Calimshan before they’re scattered by hastily gathered wizards and local armies. Waterdeep besieged; Calimshan threatened.”

“Basically, the orcs breed like rats and their population increases push the small groups further out from their fertile area seeking good and new lands to conquer and live in.”  There is not any specific time frame, but it occurs, every few hundred years.  Not all of it goes through this valley, but also from the Spine of the World and south Waterdeep.”

“As far as Southkrypt, located underneath the mountains the dwarves called Maruutdin and the southern flanks of the Sword Mountains. It could be found east of the town of Leilon, northwest of the Stone Bridge, and north of the Kryptgarden Forest.  It has been ruins for a very long time.  There might have been Dwarves taking refuge there during any of the times I mentioned.  It was famous for being a silver and mithril mine.”

“There was a man from Westbridge named Claudius, he was very wealthy.”

“Unless he was famous for something that was historically important, or was in the field of magic, I would not know about any specific noble or merchant.  There are so many that come and go, so unless you have a specific name to go with it, I would not know anything.”

“Have you heard of a place called Drincuil ar Gurth?”

“Hmm, I remember by ex-wife had told me some of her Elvish mythology.  To the Elves, the name meant something horrible, something they would scare their children with.  To them, it represented some primal fear about having their souls stolen. It represented some sort of evil god stealing people’s souls for longevity.  But all of that is mythology thing dating thousands of years ago.  There might only be dragons left alive from then at this point, and the gods of course.”

“The man I speak of Claudius found this place.”

“And you know this why?  Especially if he was alive five or six hundred years ago?”

ISAC pulls out his broken blade and holds it aloft.

“This is a key to that place; it unlocked the door.”

“If that is the case, it is not very powerful magic.  Maybe because it is broken.  I see a bit of magic on it.”

“Have you ever seen this symbol?”

“A raven? The raven is a symbol used by many mercenaries in war torn places.  The raven is a bloodthirsty bird, a carrion eater, a battlefield scavenger, and some say, a stealer of souls.”

ISAC then drops the illusion on himself and reveals his real face and body, that of a mechanical man.

“When I was last here, I was attacked, and my body was destroyed.”

“That is what I heard and had gotten some type of impression that there had been some sort of planar instability that had been forced into the space where your group was.”

“The body that was destroyed was like this one.  When it happened, I woke up in a cave somewhere outside of Westbridge that was actually a cave that this man Claudius had discovered.”

“How do you know all these things about Claudius unless you are Claudius himself.  I find it hard to imaging you would know these things unless you found them in a book.”

“I have come to believe that I was Claudius. I have been told by a dragon that there are more like me.”

“A dragon outside of Westbridge?  It is said that the ancient green dragon Claugiyliamatar resides somewhere on the edge of the Kryptgarden forest and the Sword Mountains.  She supposedly moved there about 300 years ago.  She is well known for spying, conniving, and setting up nefarious plans to expand her influence, and to just sate her curiosity.  She seems to think she is a genius spymaster. She is famous for somewhat lack of magical talent and has wanted to turn into a humanoid for quite some time.”

‘Well, I saw her first as a young girl and then in her giant dragon form.”

“Oh, that does not bode well.  If she can now transform, or has found a way of doing that, it means she has grown stronger, enslaved a wizard, or found a source of magic items to correct her deficiencies. If you have met her, I am very sure she has marked you in some way since she let you live.  Good thing this space is isolated, and she cannot peer into here.  Be careful of what you say since she could be listening at any time.  Even writing something down could get compromised. She is known to have agents in many places.  There might even be one or two here in Red Larch.”

“So, this key sword is something important to me.  I would like to find a way to keep it or store it in some sort of extra-dimensional way like a bag of holding, but something more secure and binding.  So that if I lost it, I could summon it back to myself.”

“There are a few spells that would fit that.  One called Soulbound Strike, which is 3rd level but will only last 30 days.  A scroll of that would cost you about 200gp.  There is also Soulbound Guardian, a 4th level spell which would last for 90 days.  That one has an expensive component cost, so a scroll would cost 850gp, and then there is the Eternal Bond spell, it is 5th level and lasts until dispelled.  It has an even greater component cost, so that would cost you 1400gp.  All of these spells require the caster to make the binding to themselves.  If you are unable to cast one of those, if you purchase the scroll, I can assist you in the casting to help decrease the chance of failure, but the success or failure will all be on you.”

“You do not seem to be shocked by any of the things I’ve told you.”

“I have 300-year-old goblin Alchemist cooking meals for the Inn, why would a metal construct with a transferred intelligence surprise me at this point? We have not lived out here very long, only about five years, for some…. Fresh air and countryside rest.”

It was here that Dhelosk handed over a list of his current magic items in stock so it would be easier for the group to decide what they wanted.

Dhelosk Magic Item Price List

Yllanys used this opportunity to purchase some magic ink for his projects, while the others perused the list and the prices.

“Is there a way of making things last longer in the bag, like preserving our food.”

“There is something called a bag of colding which will freeze everything within, so there is some preservation, but it will all be frozen solid. We do have a couple in stock, they are 1500gp each.”

“Do you have anything to help disguising some one?”

“I’ll have nothing on hand right now, but I can get one in a few days.  Most of them are about 5000gp or so.”

With the three of them looking over the price list, ISAC was interested in the clothing of mending which as it is named, repaired itself if a hole got into it, or was ripped.  It is a common type of clothing the wealthier merchants buy. Asking about more dandyish clothing, Dhelosk suggested he head to the clothier, or he could order some, but it would be much more expensive than what was listed. Yllanys attempted to barter with some spellbooks he had for ink in a pawn store type of usage.  Dhelosk was not interested in that at all.

Fwoosh was quick to purchase a pillow of restful nights. Dhelosk explained several of the other items he had for sale. Once they seemed to be winding down, Fwoosh brought up the Drowish statue and tried to prompt ISAC into bringing it out and showing it to Dhelosk, but he seemed unwilling.  With everything completed, Dhelosk clapped his hands and the three appeared at the table with Dancer.

While Dancer was waiting, the rest of the party made it downstairs.  A quick bear claw and drink, and they all scattered to different parts of Red Larch leaving Dancer behind, still waiting on his quiver.  Vladimir and Angelica first went to Tantur Smithery to pick up his armor and to see if they could also get Angelicas, while Ace ran off to the sundry and general store.

With the three appearing in front of him, Dancer spit bear claw and coffee all over ISAC. They were quick to hand over the quiver and updated him about the questions they had asked for him.

While that was occurring, ISAC wandered off to the Clothier store to see if they had some nice dandy wear for him. Maegla Tarnlar was happy to assist, but when ISAC requested something a bit more special and nicer looking, she called for her husband to come back and help him. Halvor was very happy to have someone interested in the finer clothes and was quick to help. ISAC was measured up and the order was placed to be ready in five days. He then went back to the Blackbutter Inn meeting with those that had already arrived.

At the same time, Yllanys had made his way to Gut’s Full Tannery (formerly Luruth’s Tannery). He was met by the Dwarf running the place.  When Yllanys entered, the smell of the tannery almost brought him to his knees, but he was able to persevere and stay standing abet a lot whiter in the face from before. Asking about any special hides that the Dwarf might have, it seemed that there had been some, but they had been left in the vats for too long and had mostly dissolved. He did offer that if Yllanys could bring in some more exotic skins, he would happily tan them, and if they were good enough, might trade the work for the skins.  There did not seem to be any other sources nearby for skins of an interesting type. Since Yllanys was interested in this, he was given an apprentice book about how to skin different creatures in the hopes he might learn something and not ruin the skins as he was removing them.

Thastruik Oakgut

Vladimir and Angelica arrived at the smithery running through the rain trying to stay somewhat dry.  Within they saw Laefra Tantur who was behind the counter.  The doors behind her were open and the heat from the forges filled the room.  Vladimir was able to collect his armor and with a little cajoling Laefra was able to convince her husband to hurry and finish Angelica’s armor before closing. Asking about some medium weight armor for ISAC, she laid out what they had and the approximate prices.  She was pushing for them to purchase something of higher quality, but the prices were a bit more than they were willing to spend at that time.

Laefra Tantur

With their business completed, the two headed quickly to the Allfaith’s Shrine trying to not get too wet on the trip. Imdarr was inside and happy to see them. They chatted a bit and they found out that the new Dwarven smith had arrived and was setting up shop and that he was the grandnephew of Banmin Glehuruhr. The two purchased a very large pile of healing potions buying out the entire supply at the shrine. Angelica was also careful to hand a letter to Imdarr that was to be sent to her sister. Imdarr also let slip that a new priest was coming in at the beginning of the next month having traveled in from Waterdeep. The new priest was of a higher level than Imdarr, and he was surprised that such a high-ranking priest was willing to come to such a remote place. The new priest was named Gila Keneufeld.

Imdarr Relvaunder

Vladimir asked about a god of premonitions or divinations to seek help about the dreams he had been having. Imdarr was happy to tell him about the god Savras.  They did not have a shrine here for them, but Vladimir could use the general alter and offering bowl. Heading to the sundry store to fetch some additional supplies, they left the shrine. Arriving there they asked about rain ponchos, and they were offered up a chopped-up tent made into pull over ponchos.  One of the children grabbed a pair of scissors to the back room to handle the business. Also purchasing 25 days of rations, they did not have any other business and head back to the Blackbutter Inn.

At Vallivoe’s Sundry store, Ace met Endrith behind the counter with four or five young kids running around. Endrith immediately offered to sell Ace an umbrella since he arrived very wet from the storm that was still raging outside. Ace bought a second one to give to Angelica later. Ace was seeking a mortar and pestle as well as some spices, to hopefully improve Yllanys’ cooking. When he asked about reading material, Endrith offered up a selection from his spicier set of books.  As innocent as he was, Ace select a couple not really understanding the titles or what the content might contain between the covers of the book.

Endrith Vallivoe

From there he headed to the clothier in town.  As he headed out, he passed Vladimir and Angelica he stopped and gave them the few gifts he had bought for them.  For Angelica he handed off an umbrella, and for Vladimir he gave the two spicy books from the Sundry story. Arriving at the Tarnlar Clothier and going in, he was met by a dandy looking fellow. He had some fancy clothes and a fancy cane that he leaned upon. The room was filled with fine clothing of every sort. The man tried selling Ace on a doublet and hose as very fashionable, maybe include a double-breasted vest with it.  A hat with a nice tall feather would make the ensemble complete. Ace just wanted something durable, to which the man yelled for his wife and stomped off leaving Ace behind.

Halvor Tarnlar

Coming from the back of the room, a middle-aged woman approached Ace to find out what was needed. Settling for some tough linen, Ace was measured up and purchased two full sets of clothes. Ace thought that visiting the tannery next was a good idea, and into the rain he went, but the wonderful umbrella helped to keep most of the rain off of him.

Maegla Tarnlar

With an odd idea in his head, he headed back to the Sundry store. He was seeking any books in Dwarvish, but Endrith had already sold all the ones he had to the party weeks ago.  He did have an interesting book that might be fun, called “The Playwright’s Insults.”  Ace excitedly purchased that for Dancer. From there, he headed back to the Blackbutter Inn and joined a few other members of the party.

Now that everyone was finally together again at the Blackbutter, Ace used the opportunity to give out more of his gifts.  He gave some empty bottles to Fwoosh so he could smash them for the noise, the book of insults to Dancer who seemed very fascinated by them.  Vladimir handed out healing potions and ponchos.  It was then that Theldor Darkaxe came into the Inn and took Vladimir to the side for a conversation.  He handed him a sheet of paper and after a few words left the Inn.

Theldor Darkaxe

Vladimir brought the paper back to the table and showed it to the group.  It was a list of who was still missing from the delegation as far as the Dwarves could figure out.

Delegation Member List

There was some conversation about Dancer and his means of communicating with the Dwarves as well as the constable. He pled innocence and attempted to lay the blame back on those that seemed to be insulted.  It went around several times with almost everyone trying to get Dancer to back down a bit. Fwoosh was very upset of Vladimir that he ahd failed to bring bear claws to the children at the sundry store after he had so passionately told him to bring them. With his new quiver, Dancer was excited and ran to Feng’s to purchase enough arrows to fill up his new quiver. ISAC had followed to get a sheath for his broken sword. It was a quick transaction, and back to the Inn Dancer went, while ISAC went by the smithery to purchase some medium armor and settled on some a normal breastplate. As they did that, Angelica went back by the smithery to pick her armor which proved to be ready missing ISAC in all the running back and forth.

Feng Ironhead

Before breaking for the night, Vladimir told them about his new dream the previous night, but without and specific details. With all that conversation, dinner time rolled by.  Yllanys tried his luck with flirting with Gwendolyn again. That conversation went pretty the same as before, she seemed much more skilled at leading the conversation and extracting tidbits of information from Yllanys than he was from her. He was able to get out of her that she has been working for Dhelosk for many years including when he was in Waterdeep.  They had moved out here to protect his granddaughter Delillia since something had happened to her parents.

Gwendolyn Venelli

The dining room gossip was not any better tonight than it was last night.  Just merchants and their routes. When digging for more information the only real oddity seemed to be the weather, how it could change in an hour and then change again in the next hour from one extreme to the next. Those sudden changes were making it difficult for any agriculture and many of the crops were failing which could cause food issues all the way to Waterdeep since the valley and surrounding areas sent most of their food that direction to feed the massive population of Waterdeep.

With the food consumed and the conversations wound down, everyone headed to bed.

26th of Kythorn of the year 1492

While the storm continued to rage during the night it had abated mostly by the morning.  However, the sky was filled with swirling colors much like an aurora borealis. The outside was not as bright as it was normally, with the strange lights. Back inside, Ace purchased a decanter of endless coffee while the others once again pushed ISAC to show his statue to Dhelosk.  He finally relented and put it on the table.  Gesturing Dhelosk to come over and take a look, which seemed to make him a little disgruntled, but he still walked over.

“I wanted my friend to show you the statue.  We saw a portal and a portal into the water place.  We wanted to know if it did anything to the statue, but he dislikes showing it.”

“Where is this portal?”

“It is by this keep that the pirates were in charge of and there is an underground river that goes to a waterfall that leads to the giant floating portal above the waterfall.”

“That’s interesting, I’ll have to inform Dlara, she is very interested in those types of things. She has not been on this plane in a while.  She was concerned about the stability of the planes since there has been a lot of odds going on in the adjacent planes.”

“I had a vision of the other side of that portal.”

I which ISAC explained his vision.

“I usually do not give much credence to visions since any interpretation of them is very subjective.  You never know if it is a true sight into somewhere, a metaphor about something, or even a visual allegory, or even some combination of all those.”

“But at face value, it would seem you dreamed of the Plane of Water, or some very deep ocean location. A tunnel leading to a mysterious and malevolent temple sounds ominous, but again difficult to interpret.  Why would a tunnel exist to a location from the portal?”

“These are all places you have never been or know that you have been to.  I am not that familiar with the planes and will pass this all on to Dlara and hopefully she will be able to have a better answer for you.”

“The questions I have for you then, since you have been talking about elemental cultists and you found what appears to be a water portal, that would imply there are other portals hidden around the valley.  Your statue somehow seemed to have locked that one for some period of time. I would think that you would have a limited about of time before it unlocks, and the need to find the other three might be more imperative now.  Are they all linked?  Where do they lead?  Are the other portals the same leading to some temple?  Do they all lead to the same temple?”

“These are all things that you will have to search after.”

“I think that the statue absorbed some power from the portal and maybe changed the statue.  We are concerned from what you told us before. You said the artifact seemed to be awakening.”

“Well, I called it an artifact for several reasons.  One is its apparent age, those Drow symbols are very old, several thousands of years old, second was it impenetrability to identification.  Which is odd, cursed items will allow identification, it just shows an incomplete assessment until you trigger the condition to start the curse, and third its seeming ability to grow in power.  Not many magic items have this capability and any that do are very rare and unusual, and finally fourth, its apparent durability.  Magic items in general are very tough, but artifacts are nearly indestructible except under very specific conditions set during their creation.”

“All of those things implied it was an artifact of some sort, although when I saw it last, the amount of magic within it was fairly minimal and did not appear to be at the level of an artifact.  But if it had been damaged, there would always be some sort of criteria or activation to allow it to fix itself.  Your description of it absorbing something from elemental creatures matches those criteria.  Absorbing something from an elemental portal would also meet that.”

“Could it be influencing ISAC?  Possibly.  It could be nudging him to help it heal, it could be nudging him to do things that serve the purpose of its creation.  You have not seen any negative actions except for a certain amount of covetousness of the object. But then again, it might also require more growth.”

Dhelosk with his monocle began looking over the party.

“I see something very similar with the maul that Vladimir carries.  It meets the same criteria of being an artifact.  It is clearly damaged and maybe Vladimir just has not found the right activation method to start the repair.  It could also influence him in the future, but then it might now.”

“There is also his broken sword.  It has grown in a large magnitude from where it had been.  It is also physically broken, that does not seem to impede its growth. He did something to cause it to start growing.  From what you said it is a fairly new item, meaning that something caused its creation when he found it.  Gods, demons, or even some spirit watching over him.  Could it influence him in the future?  Sure.  Look at what magic it has.  I can see a lot of divination magic.  If it gives you a vision, is it real, is it true?  Could that vision influence what you might do because of that vision.”

“When I talked about influence, it was in general terms as something that could happen.  All very powerful magic items have the capability to influence their wielders.  If it is a weapon, it would tend to influence them to kill more creatures it was built for.  In the case of the statue, I can only guess.  It has something to do with the elements, it requires more to grow.  It has more magic in it than the last time I saw it, it is getting stronger, but it is still not on the level of being so strong as to be some godly magic item.”

“I see your amulet Fwoosh, it too is growing.  At a much smaller rate than all the other ones.”

Dhelosk keeps looking around and finally stops on Yllanys.

“Um…. I am confused.  I am not even sure how you did that to yourself.  I kind of understand why you wanted to talk more in private about your specialty.  Come back in a few days and we can have that chat.”

“There are many possible resolutions and more questions.  If you think it is having a negative effect, you can only attempt to stop the awakening.  Do not do what it is expecting., or you can attempt to speed up the awakening and find out what it wants if it can even get to that point.  It seems to have locked on to your group since it is only moving between you.  It would be interested to find out what the criterion for switching is, why does it choose a specific person?  As far as getting rid of it, it appears to be difficult since it auto-attunes and transports itself to wherever they are. I wonder if it could transfer between planes. Possibly, especially if it so much of an elemental connection.”

“Right now, I would suggest either attempting to feed it or starve it.  It sounds very useful in helping you at least temporarily lock down elemental portals.  It seems to have great defensive and offensive capability. It has seemed to be only useful right now.  Hopefully it stays that way for you.”

Yllanys brought up that it seemed odd that the elemental cultists seemed to be cooperating at some level since there are always pairs at odd with each other.  He suspects that there might be something guiding or directing them to cause them to work together.  He believes that this might be something the party can take advantage of in some way in the future.

When asked about the elemental planes, he explained.

“The four primary elemental planes at some point collapsed into the plane of chaos.  They all have demi-planes that separate them, but they are all much closer and connected.”

With that, Dhelosk went back to his bar while the party talked about what he said and what has happened.  They were also concerned at the complete lack of anything related to the fire cult and it seemed very odd they have been missing.  Of course, they still had to solve the issues of the possible air cult as well as the fortified earth cultists.

The party finished their meals and decided that the lure of the location called the Treasure Cave was too much for them to ignore.  Moving through the still somewhat wet weather it only took them a couple of hours to reach the location they had been given previously.  Going into a ravine they finally got to a cave entrance. It was a grand cave entrance.

As you approach the overgrown entrance of the cave, you’re immediately struck by its imposing height. The cave mouth looms nearly 30 feet above you, a dark maw set into the side of a hill or cliff face, surrounded by a tangle of vegetation. Vines and moss drape over the edges, partially obscuring the stone beneath and giving the entrance an ancient, forgotten appearance.

The size of the entrance suggests that this cave could house secrets and dangers of remarkable scale. The darkness within seems almost tangible, a palpable void that swallows light and promises unknown depths. As you stand at the threshold, peering into the gloom, the air feels cooler, a stark contrast to the world outside.

A musty smell wafts from the depths of the cave, reaching your nostrils and evoking a sense of decay and dampness. It’s the smell of earth long untouched by sunlight, of water that pools in unseen caverns, and of time itself having come to a standstill within these ancient walls.

They slowly moved in and to the left they found a small cave filled with skeletons and boxes that were rotting.

As you continue to investigate, you notice that their condition is peculiar. The bones are unusually brittle and appear to have a faint, dark discoloration. It’s as if the very life was drained from them, leaving behind these fragile remnants. Despite the clear signs of a grim fate, the exact cause of death isn’t immediately apparent to the untrained eye. No visible wounds or marks of combat mar the skeletons, adding to the mystery of their demise.

Carved into the skulls of the skeletons were different symbols of the bloody eyes.  Most had the simpler one. While one had a slightly more detailed one.

Simple Bloody Eye

More Complex Bloody Eye

When examining the skeletons, Angelica was able to determine that the black spots as well as their deaths seem to be from some sort of necrotic energy.  The more gruesome part was that all the carvings into the skulls occurred while they were alive, and time had passed when the carving had occurred.  No one had thought about skinning skulls to look for this before.

The party then moved further into the cave area.  The passageway opened up into a small lake and another cave to their left again.  At the end of the lake there was what appeared to be a large stone hand grasping a Dwarven skeleton who was holding on to a glowing great axe. The cave area to their left was filled with many more skeletons that had the same appearances as the first set.

Moving in closer a trio of greenish bird insects came out of some hidden nest and attacked the party. They proved to be tougher than expected since they would attach themselves to someone and start sucking their blood and when killed exploded into a gooey necrotic mess hitting anyone withing five feet while healing any of the flying critters that was within range. With a little effort they were able to kill them off.  

Necrotic Stirges

Without any rest or healing they were eager to get that glowing axe.  Vladimir had Benny his echo moves across the water and once at the hand, switched places with him and reached for the axe.  As he did so, the hand squeezed him and from the stone broken out a giant skeleton who then tossed Vladimir to the ground on the other side of the lake.

Giant Skeleton

And this is where the session ended.

Session 34 – Chapter One

21st of Kythorn of the year 1492

Several hours was used to discuss when and how they were planning on crossing the river again.  They were concerned about the pirates coming back and figured that daytime would be the best so that they would all be able to see any ships approaching as they crossed.

After storytelling and truth and consequences completed, they party did their normal routine of watches, except there was a problem.  It seems that Yllanys and Dancer had wandered away from camp and did not come back in time for the first watch.  Angelica did a Sending to Yllanys hoping to find out where he was.

“So, we are getting ready to do our watches and uh, we cannot seem to find you anywhere, um, but Fwoosh was kind of walking…”

The incomplete message as a shock to Yllanys who was not familiar with this magic and was not sure why Angelica’s voice was in his head replied out loud.

“Woah, what, what is this going on. Um, I’m, I’m just about done with what I’m doing I’ll be back as soon as I can…”

Angelica informed the group that he thought that Yllanys was being polite and had wandered away from the camp for a huge poop. It was not until the end of the first watch that first Dancer arrived and shortly afterwards from a different direction Yllanys also arrived, but with a warm pot of stew and mystery meat.

The rest of the watches all passed without any issues.

22nd of Kythorn of the year 1492

Getting an early start the group started across the wide river. Angelica cast her Water Walking twice to cover everyone in the group. The party was very careful in watching for any coming ships or any other threats that might be approaching. It was wise to be wary, but unfortunately the threat that did approach can from below them.

The 12 of them were moving carefully across when a 40-foot wide electrical struck knocking out all the dwarves, and almost taking out a couple of the party members. Large shadows approached from below and fish-type of people began attacking from below.

Fish People Warriors

Fish Person Caster

The battle was fast and dangerous.  With many members of the party falling unconscious at different times, they all managed to survive, although one of the five Dwarves that had been accompanying them took too much damage and died while floating on the water near them. The group was able to murder what appeared to be the four fish-men warriors, but the caster fled at some point.  Combat was difficult, particular when the opponents were underwater, and the caster was able to come and go from their visibility while staying deeper under the water.

 Angelica pulled out a scroll of Revivify and brought the dead Dwarf back to life before the body had time to cool. Trying to move more quickly across the river carrying the Dwarven members that were still not recovered, they managed to make it somewhat safely across the River Dessarin once again. It was not difficult to find their old trail back to their wagons and Vladimir was very surprised that their four horses were all still alive, hungry, and thirsty, but still alive.

Harnessing up the wagons and starting the journey back to Red Larch, the group began to find their way home. Traveling to an area just passed where they had found the shallow graves, they found a nice place to camp that was off the main trail hopefully hiding themselves to a certain extent.  The only item of interests was that at some point during the day, they were shadowed by flying creatures high above them.  Not knowing if they were just large birds, or perhaps the Feathergale Knights the group showed an overall lack of interested.

It was during the trip that Yllanys brought out the diary he had found in the church at the pirate keep.

Diary from Pirate Keep

Diary from Pirate Keep, Part Two

ISAC also used this time to discuss and describe his dreams of the portal, and how he thought that the statue had somehow locked it.  There was also the disconcerting thing that seemed to happen when certain creatures died nearby ISAC, and small colored balls of light floated from the dead bodies to the statue.  In this case, small blue balls of light floated out of the dead fish-people.

While the discussions were going on, Fwoosh and Ace repeated loss at cards to the Dwarves leaving them a couple of gold less than they started.

With something that had specific dates, they tried to start correlating different pieces of information and places they had been to attempt to get a better idea of the bigger picture of what has been happening.

And this where the session ended.

Session 33 – Chapter One

20th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Making their way across the river the party of seven and the five dwarves slowly walked across the water to the far side.  Looking back when they were a hundred feet away, they realized that the illusion wall blocking sight of the keep was still in place and did not end with the death of the inhabitants.  It was some sort of powerful magic that is hiding the keep. They moved as well as they could, but the fast-moving river pushed against their gains, but they were able to make across before the magic ended allowing them to walk across the water. The Dwarves were queried about their work and the party was told about how the sage new the most about what was under the Sumber Hills, but he had been taken by the earth cultists. When asked about the attack, the Dwarves relayed what they knew.

The day had dawned clear and bright, with the sun casting its warm glow over the rolling hills. The delegation, a caravan of seasoned travelers and skilled guards, made steady progress along the well-worn path. Laughter and conversation filled the air, mingling with the sounds of hooves and wagon wheels. But as the sun reached its zenith, a sudden, ominous change swept over the landscape.

Without warning, the tranquility of the journey was shattered. Massive boulders, hurled from the surrounding hills, came crashing down with terrifying force. I was caught completely off-guard, watching in horror as the caravan was thrown into disarray. Wagons splintered under the impact, horses reared in panic, and guards scrambled to form a defensive line.

Emerging from their hiding spots among the hills, the attackers revealed themselves – hill giants of staggering size and brute strength. With each earth-shaking step, they advanced, wielding clubs large enough to crush a man with a single blow. I felt a chill of fear, the sight of these colossal beings igniting a primal terror.

As the giants closed in, another threat joined the fray. From the shadows of the hills, men clad in heavy stone plate armor, spiked and formidable. The armor gave them an almost otherworldly appearance, as if they were creatures born from the earth itself. In their hands, they carried maces and hammers, the metal glinting menacingly in the sunlight.

The guards of the delegation fought bravely, their swords and spears dancing in the light as they tried to protect the caravan. But they were outmatched. The hill giants’ clubs swept through their ranks with devastating ease, while the men, protected by their stone armor, moved through the chaos with a terrifying purpose.

Caught amid the battle, I felt a surge of helplessness. The sounds of combat – the clash of metal, the roars of the giants, the cries of the wounded – filled the air, creating a cacophony of despair. Dust and blood rose in a grim cloud, obscuring the once-peaceful hills.

In the chaos, I found myself face to face with one of the men. The man’s eyes, visible through the slits in the spiked helmet, burned with a fanatical fervor. For a moment, time seemed to stand still, the gravity of the situation sinking in.

Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the battle shifted. The surviving members of the delegation were rounded up, the cultists binding their hands and leading them away from the carnage. As I was marched off, I cast a final glance back at the ambush site. The once serene hills were now a tableau of destruction, the ground littered with the fallen.

As I was led deeper into the Sumber Hills, my thoughts were a whirlwind of fear and uncertainty. What had started as a routine journey had turned into a nightmare, the hills themselves now a haunting reminder of the ambush’s brutality and the unforgiving nature of their attackers.

The discussion moved to the different cult groups and if the Feathergale knights were part of the air cultists or not. The party seemed to be unsure one way or the other but were leaning toward that they were just another knight society like the Knights of Samular. Fwoosh regaled them about the jumping from the spire adventure. Vladimir showed Fwoosh a note he had found in the keep on Jolliver’s desk, and then stashed it quickly back in his bag. When Ace asked about the Vale of Dancing Water, he and the rest were told that it was a Dwarven temple known for hosting marriages and probably not related to the water cult even though the name had water in it. But, without investigating they would never know for sure. When the original members started talking about dreams and prophecies, Ace and Yllanys began getting more worried about the others.

They came on to the shore and Dancer was able to see some carts that had been well hidden behind a boulder nearby.  Investigating them revealed that they were carts from the delegation.  They were a bit worn, but still functional even after being left sitting here for nearly a month in the weather.  The Dwarves confirmed that these were some of the cargo wagons that had been with their group.  None of the trade wagons were here.  It seems that after being captured, the cultists brought the cargo here and loaded it either on the pirate ships or carried it elsewhere without the need of wagons. Dancer, always on the search for some loot inspected the wagons hoping to find a hidey-hole of some sort, and he did pick up a small chest of gold that he found in a hidden compartment in one of the wagons.

Ace took the lead on finding the trail back to the ambush site with Yllanys pushing for them to hurry so he could recover his spellbook as quickly as possible. With the late start of the day, they were not able to get to their destination before darkness fell forcing them to make camp or likely getting lost in the dark.  Yllanys cooked up a cold meal for the group with some questionable mystery meat, but everyone seemed to like it. Their tent not large enough to hold everyone, they purposely left out the most farty dwarf in the group. The rest of the dwarven tradesmen all agreed to the arrangement.

The night went mostly unmolested until a group of bugbears were able to sneak up on those on watch.  The low number of bugbears proved to be only a minor and quick annoyance to the group.  The one dwarf left outside took advantage of the chaos and snuck inside the tent to sleep with most of the rest. The rest of the evening passed without too many issued beyond the tent having an odd permanent odor now. The only odd event was under the tree where Dancer was sleeping Yllanys started carving up the bugbears as if he was looking for something in or on the bodies.

While on watch with ISAC, Ace had questions, many questions.  He was interested in his nature and wanted to learn more. It proved to be interesting for Ace in many ways. Ace responded by giving some of his background and how he ended up here. During Vladimir’s watch he had a long and interesting conversation with one of the dwarven smith’s about his maul.  He had to dance around where he found it, but the smith reiterated that the maul seemed to be incomplete, or that it was so old it had lost some of its magic.

Bugbear

21st of Kythorn of the year 1492

Morning arrived with Yllanys cooked another wonderful meal of interesting meats. With the new day started, Vladimir did not wait to ask his broken sword a burning question he had.

“Where did Yllanys get the bacon?”

“No Dancer, that is not what I am going to ask.”

“Is Yllanys’ spellbook in the tree where he left it?”

“WEAL”

With that answer, they picked up the camp and marched forward with some confidence. It did not take very long to complete their trip to the ambush site once they started going in the correct direction.

The once-disturbed earth along the secluded path had settled, the upheaval of combat softened by a carpet of new growth. Fresh leaves and underbrush had sprouted, partially obscuring the ground where the struggle had occurred. Yet, beneath this veneer of tranquility, subtle irregularities in the terrain hinted at the desperate conflict that had unfolded. Faint indentations, now almost level with the surrounding soil, marked the hastily dug graves where the fallen were interred. The piles of stones that covered these graves had begun to blend with the natural landscape, though their arrangement was just too methodical, too deliberate to be the work of nature alone.

The passage of time had dulled the more immediate signs of the ambush. Rain and wind had erased the tracks of the hill giants and cultists, leaving only the most resilient traces of their passage. Broken branches and trampled undergrowth had mostly recovered, their damage concealed by new leaves and shoots. Yet here and there, the forest bore subtle scars: a tree with a barely healed gash in its bark, a bush whose growth was stunted and uneven.

Scattered remnants of the caravan itself lay hidden in plain sight, ensnared by the forest’s embrace. Rust-covered weapons, their edges blunted by time and the elements, lay half-buried under a layer of leaves. Fragments of torn cloth, once vibrant and colorful, were now faded and frayed, clinging to the underbrush like forgotten flags of a defeated army. Small, personal items – a broken wheel from a cart, a dulled piece of jewelry, a cracked leather strap – were strewn about, each telling its own silent story of the tragedy that had occurred.

Yllanys ran to a tree and recovered his spellbook.  Finally feeling complete again.  While the rest looked over the ambush site. The only thing that really stuck out were a couple of piles or stone that were similar to the graves they had seen before. Looking around they were able to find more evidence of the ambush, broken trees, a few boulders out of place, and just a general mess that should not be in the wilderness.

The trip back down to the river went far more quickly than the one up to the ambush site, mostly because they did not have to move as slowly to find the trail to get to their destination. Arriving at the coast by sunset they decided to camp and rest again. Before settling down for the evening, Fwoosh set up a Zone of Truth for an interesting game with the rest of the party. It was funny enough to cause the party to be interested in doing this more frequently.

The trip back down to the river went far more quickly than the one up to the ambush site, mostly because they did not have to move as slowly to find the trail to get to their destination. Arriving at the coast by sunset they decided to camp and rest again.

And this is where the session ended.

History Lesson

Good evening gentlefolks and cretins.  I am your host Dr Weedlebucket.  Your normal host Professor Bourgh-Ettin has taken a leave of absence to spend some time exploring the continent of Maztica.  Hopefully he will not be eaten and come back soon enough to do his damn job. While he is relaxing in some jungle being chased by hostile natives and giant lizards, I shall take you on a different path of education. Now that I have your attention, we will move on to our topic this week.  The Elemental Plane of Water.

The Elemental Plane of Water was an Inner Plane or Elemental Plane of the Great Wheel cosmology and the World Tree cosmology models. After the Spellplague, the Elemental Plane of Water collapsed into the Elemental Chaos, mixing with all the other Inner Planes. Water is one of the four elements and two energies that make up the known universe and therefore of great interest to cosmologists. This plane was abundant with life: native creatures born of the elemental nature of the plane itself, sentient water-breathing peoples, and most every species of aquatic life that could survive after being sucked through a vortex from their plane of origin.

Cosmology

According to the Great Wheel cosmology model, the Elemental Plane of Water could be reached via the Ethereal Plane, an adjacent elemental plane, or by an elemental vortex. The Pale River vortex on the Elemental Plane of Earth had its source here, and there was a vortex to the Plane of Air called the Bubble Net. If traveling through the Deep Ethereal, a green curtain of vaporous color indicated the boundary of the Plane of Water’s Border Ethereal region. Once in the Border Ethereal, a traveler could observe the Plane of Water and be detected by its denizens. Using the spherical model, this plane was adjacent to the para-elemental planes of Ice and Ooze and the quasi-elemental planes of Steam and Salt. Elemental vortices could occur wherever a high concentration or nearly pure form of an element was found, and could be temporary or permanent. Vortices to the Plane of Water could often be found in the deepest parts of the seas and oceans, in clear underground lakes, or as surface whirlpools in any large body of water. Temporary gates could be created by the plane shift spell or the abilities of high-level druids.

As described by the World Tree cosmology model, the Astral Plane connected all planes with the Prime Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane was only used for journeying between locations on the Prime. The Elemental Plane of Water was not connected or coterminous with any other elemental plane, however both the cross-planar rivers Styx and Oceanus were known to have vortices to the Plane of Water and there were known portals to the Fated Depths. The spell astral projection could be used to reach the Plane of Water via a dark blue color pool. Additionally, the gate and plane shift spells could be used to open a temporary portal to this plane, provided a lead fork tuned to the note of A was used as a spell focus.

It was said that portals to the Water Plane could be found in the cold, clear depths of the Moonsea in North Faerûn and the Riftlake in the Great Rift of South Faerûn.

Description

There was no deep or shallow, no dark depths nor wavy surface, just an endless ocean that felt as if you were submerged several feet in any body of water on the Prime Material Plane. There was no sun, yet the water itself seemed to glow dimly with a bluish green luminescence. Volumes of water at any temperature and salinity could be found if you knew where to look or had a guide. The Great Wheel cosmology model explained this by the proximity to the para- and quasi-elemental planes: water became cold and formed icebergs as you neared the Plane of Ice; water became brackish as you approached the Plane of Salt; water became silty and slimy as you neared the Plane of Ooze; water started to boil as you approached the Plane of Steam. The World Tree cosmology described this plane as having all varieties of water constantly in motion, influenced by currents and tides. Life that depended on conditions flowed along with their preferred environment or suffered the consequences. Impurities such as bubbles of air, chunks of earth, and even short-lived balls of fire could be found floating about due to elemental vortices or the workings of powerful beings. Habitats and settlements typically formed near sources of food and shelter, or near portals and vortices to facilitate trade.

Supporting the teeming life of this plane were the corals and plants that made their way here and found purchase. Huge drifting three-dimensional reefs and loose spheres of freshwater grasses, kelp, and seaweed were home to myriad species and were fertile fishing spots. Travelers had to keep in mind that large predators knew of these fishing grounds also, or else they might discover just how bite-sized they were. Just like a Prime Ocean, the Elemental Plane of Water seemed to have no limit on how large some creatures could be as giant squid, aboleth, and kraken were known to prowl the plane. Small creatures could be deadly too, with poisonous spines or barbed tails. The smallest of them all was perhaps the deadliest: algae that formed the infamous “red tide”. Exposure of the eyes or lungs to the red tide caused blinding sickness.

If the Plane of Water had any weather, it was the currents, whirlpools, tidal bores, and flows of ice, steam, or silt that could inconvenience a traveler or be a deadly surprise. Usually invisible, currents could be strong enough to pull visitors off in some direction for long distances before they were able to exit the current. Tidal bores were the most dangerous currents, hitting like a thrown boulder and carrying the unlucky creature away for miles (kilometers). Whirlpools were caused by countervailing currents that sucked everything in a tightening spiral, some of which led to vortices to other planes. Ice and silt flows were easy to spot before encountering, but steam flows were nearly undetectable and could cause nasty burns or boil the flesh from your bones.

Inhabitants

It is difficult to determine what type of creatures were the most numerous in the Elemental Plane of Water but presumably the water elementals had the upper hand because they were manifestations of the plane itself. They could take on any shape their fluid bodies could form but they were extremely hard to see, similar to the effect of a robe of blending, and therefore were often described as blurry versions of Prime Material Plane animals and monsters typically of the aquatic variety. Water weirds, an intelligent life form that could possess water elementals, were also thought to be native to this plane.

All other peoples and creatures are interlopers or inadvertent immigrants by way of being sucked through an elemental vortex. Those that made a home here and thrived included some jann, the marids, the nereids, and the tritons. Besides almost every species of salt- and fresh-water marine life, there were reports of sightings or encounters with many creatures including aboleth, charonadaemons, black and bronze dragons, eyes of the deep, mephits of the ice, ooze, steam, and water varieties, mud-men, sea hags, tojanida, varrdig, and will-o’-wisps, a a variety of monstrous creatures that would be able to dwarf mountains with their size.

Trade also brought many different races to the Elemental Plane of Water. Merchants that traded with the dao and the marids included aquatic elves, humans, kuo-toans, lizardfolk, locathah, mercanes, and sahuagin.

Survival

Basics: In many respects, the plane of water is the safest of all. Thirst isn’t a problem if you stay away from the salty areas. Light shines from all directions as if you were just below the surface of a lake on a sunny day in the Prime Material. No gravity except a slight tug towards anything bigger than a ship if you’re close. You can carry your food around: any wooden barrel with decent buoyancy weighs nothing and you can tie it to a rope. What’ll kill you is the overwhelming vastness of it. I had a friend who was swept off the deck of the ship by a freak current. Once he’d gone about 60 feet from us, we couldn’t see him anymore and there was no chance of finding him. He probably floated for days before starving. If he found a coral reef or a seaweed ball, he’d have enough raw fish to live for months or years. Until scurvy or slavers got him really. If he was lucky, he was swallowed by a kraken before he knew what killed him. The lack of fire is a problem though. Cooking, metal-working, keeping warm, reading, smoking, signaling, branding, all of that is so difficult, you just wouldn’t believe. It’s why everyone converges around the air pockets I suppose.

Breathing: Oh, breathing? Obviously, you can’t breathe, you dolt! It’s water! What did you think? Most are happy enough staying in the City of Glass or in some prosperous bubble in the Sea of Worlds. We travelers need to get Water Breathing somewhere. Not from the party wizard because it’s got a verbal component and I’d like to see her cast with her mouth full of water. Not from the Glass Nixies either: they can undo their spell any time they want so there’s a better than even chance they’ll keep you as a slave, dependent on them for your every breath. No. We’ll have to buy you rings of water breathing. If you can’t afford that, you’ll have to settle for decanters of endless air to make a bubble around your ship.

Hazards, combat, and “weather”: It’s not all smooth sailing and calm seas. Doldrums are dangerous but so are currents if you don’t know them. Some currents plunge you down to the Darkened Depths, others trap ships in century-long loops. That’s how you get Flying Dutchmen, ships maintained by the undead skeletons of the crew. Then there’s salt patches, ooze patches, steam, and whirlpools. Places that boil you alive and others that freeze you to death. Always be on the lookout for red tide or it’ll blind you and melt you. Finally, there’s the sea monsters. You can feel their pull long before you see them: aboleth, kraken, giant squid, leviathans, giant darkmantles, dragon turtles, dragons, giants, and -if rumor is to be believed- gods themselves and a tarrasque.

Don’t expect to be able to fight any of those or even the average sahuagin: ranged weapons fail, melee attacks become slow and ponderous and magic words must be pronounced differently underwater. Tridents, nets, sharks, and other swimmers on the other hand become deadly. You’ve been warned.

Locations within the Plane

City of Glass: The City of Glass is a great metropolis enclosed within a sphere of hardened water, a nigh unbreakable barrier that protects the city. Half is underwater, half is filled with air, depending on the districts. This inter-dimensional trading hub is filled with merchant ships and portals to every other plane. That’s where we’ll start our journey. Each race and each great merchant family have a “House”; every five years, each House elects their leader to sit on the ruling Council. It is highly cosmopolitan with every kind of air breather and water breather from halflings to giants, fae to merfolk.

Sea of Worlds: The great bubbles of air your “maps” come from. There’s too many to list them all and they’re far too varied to say much. Imagine a giant bubble of air the size of a planet with bits of rock and earth trapped on the edges by the surface tension, always half in and half out, with an air-breathing civilization living on one side of the “island”, trading with a water-breathing one under their feet. They’re littered with unexplored islands, coves, plains, beaches, and jungles. Many become wealthy because air lets you have forges and agricultural land. Metal and timber are so rare in the Plane of Water that they’ll trade for pearls and gold. Of course, fire, soil and metal attract wealth, but wealth attracts pirates, and some bubble-worlds are nothing more than raiding bases and hideouts.

Isle of Dread: We’re not traveling to the Isle of Dread. Out of the question. I’ve shipwrecked there enough times to do me a lifetime. It’s one of the largest bubble-worlds out there, a continent crawling with dinosaurs, undead, strange natives, warring kingdoms, and the odd lunatic trying to find the City of Gold. I came back from the Valley of Diamonds myself, but I repeat. It. Is. Not. Worth. It. Not unless you’re in desperate need of riches or have a desire to meet an exciting end.

Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls: “The Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls is the greatest of Marid communities and the seat of the Coral Throne. From this court emanates the wise rulership of the Great Padishah of the Marid, the Keeper of the Empire, the Pearl of the Sea, the Parent of the Waves, the Maharaja of the Oceans, Emir of All Currents, and so forth.” Which is to say, it’s a dangerous nest of backstabbing courtiers with a lot of wealth and magical power but no capacity to enforce their claim to ownership of the plane beyond their walls. Even other Marid only pays lip service to the Padishah’s edicts.

Floating outposts & sunken cities: Remember what I said about any large body pulling smaller things to it? A patch of coral or seaweed can snowball into a great reef or deep jungle with shoals of fish living in them. Some folks let ships or specially constructed wooden structures grow into floating castles; sunken cities or rocky “planets” become moving metropolises, messy amalgamations that house millions within their towered homes or interior caves. Obviously, it’s mostly merfolk and water-breathers but all the large ones have water-tight centers filled with air for guests, books, or artisans. In this manner, most of the plane’s inhabitants are nomads of a kind.

Deity Realms

  • Blibdoolpoolp, the Sea Mother of the Kuo-toa, once dwelled in the Elemental Plane of Water in her domain called the Murky Depths.
  • Eadro, deity of the locathah and merfolk, had his realm of Shelluria on the plane.
  • Istishia, The Water Lord, God-King of Water Elementals, once had a realm called Sea of Timelessness here. After the Spellplague he was revealed to be a primordial and he formed a domain in the Elemental Chaos called Cresting Spires.
  • Kalbari al-Durrat al-Amwaj ibn Jari, Padishah of the Marids, Pearl of the Sea, Mother of Foam, Mistress of the Rivers, Savior of Fish, Patron of Waterspouts, and many more titles, had a palace near the Bubble Net called the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls.
  • Olhydra, Princess of Evil Water Creatures, once inhabited the ruins of a huge citadel made from black coral. She claimed it was the capital of a great empire that she destroyed long ago.
  • Persana, God of the tritons, shared the realm of Shelluria with Eadro.
  • Tefnut, mother of Geb in the Mulhorandi pantheon, was said to live here, though she also had a realm in Bytopia.

Campaign Notes

The party finally got to the delegation ambush site and while not finding anything new, but were able to recover Yllanys’ spellbook.

Sword Mountains

Description

North of Waterdeep, the Sword Mountains march north toward the Neverwinter Woods. Although not militarily significant, this range shields the Dessarin river valley and the High Forest from the
worst of the storms that blow in from the Trackless Sea. The western flanks of the range are home to
orcs, bugbears, kobolds, leucrottas and other dangerous creatures. Self-styled bandit lords, such as
Amalkyn the Black and the wizard Helduth Flamespell, have long-established holds in the region. The
southern peaks are home to stone giants and more fearsome menaces, as well as sylphs on the high ledges and peaks. The Sword Mountains is littered with ruins dating back to the orcish empire of Uruth Ukrypt and the dwarf and gnome clanholds that preceded it.

Geography

With an arc-like shape, the mountains were located northwest of Waterdeep and east of the Mere of Dead Men. Their western slopes led to the Trackless Sea in rolling foothills.

History

The mountains were home to orcs and trolls, but after the orcs were united by Wund and the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge in the Year of the Red Rain, 927 DR, a shaman named Wund arose among the orc tribes of the Sword Mountains. On the eve of the Feast of the Moon, as Wund had prophesied, blood red thunderclouds engulfed the Sword Mountains. For three days the slopes ran wet with blood, leaving behind the sickening stench of rot and decay. All manner of plagues quickly swept through the region. Many orcs (and other folk) died by the White Hand of Yutrus, including every tribal chieftain, but the spawn of Gruumsh who survived the crucible of plagues grew stronger.

In the immediate aftermath of the Blood Plagues, Wund established a monastic order known as the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge. Members of the order organized the surviving orc tribes into a united realm under the spiritual guidance of the brotherhood. The most powerful chieftain, a massive, unintelligent tusker named Uruth, was crowned king by Wund. This was a contributing factor to the Trollwars.

In the Year of the Sky Raiders (936 DR), the armies of Uruth Ukrypt swept down the eastern slopes of the Sword Mountains. The armies of Waterdeep battled the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt in a series of pitched battles known as the Orcfastings War. Early orc victories in the Battle of Whirling Blades, the Battle of Sarcrag, and the Battle of Withered Fields drove Waterdeep’s forces back to the gates of Nimoar’s Hold. However, a timely feint by the Duke of Calandor enabled Nimoar’s forces to break the orcs’ siege of the hold in the Battle of Burning Cliffs. They hatched another plan to attack in the Year of the Cold Claws, 940 DR, but this plan was ruined by the gold dragon Palarandusk.

Due to a raid on Ukrypt’s crypt by a human adventuring company called the Dawnbringer Company in the Year of Lathander’s Light, 1024 DR, the orcs of the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge formed a horde called the Broken Bone with the intent of destroying Waterdeep. Their plans were once again ruined by a dragon; this time Lhammaruntosz. Still determined to exact their revenge, the orcs formed another horde, calling it the Black Claw, and in the Year of Crimson Magics, 1026 DR they came from the mountains to attack Waterdeep. This attack proved unsuccessful, and they were defeated, causing the orcs to lose their unity and plunge into a period of tribal conflict and the orcs of the Sword Mountains disintegrated into warring tribes.

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