Privateer

Episode 125 Recap
The mines of the Slorath

It is midday in a stateroom on the adventurer’s airship.

Inside, the gang are discussing their options. Thoko had left people out in the wilderness to see what heroes would come, to flush out the heroes, because he wants heroes above anyone else because they have juicier souls. The group’s idea is to go through the tunnels to see if there is an alternate way to reach Thoko’s realm.

Rand and Zinnaerris pore over her book, Rand realizing that the book changes when people die. Yet it didn’t seem to change when Boko “died”. Maybe Lord Garland was telling the truth?

The group discusses heading into the tunnels, while Ol’ Ropey fashions a rope ladder from extra rigging.

All but Shah, who stays behind, enter the tavern with their “business faces” on. Deagha turns into a hummingbird. Heading back toward the tunnel where the female white dragon was encountered, everyone senses a chill. Deagha flits back to cast endure elements on all without cold resistance. They reach the doorway to the white dragon’s room. Deagha flies ahead, notices that the ice in the room seems to be melting, water dripping at a trickling pace from above. Rand casts non-detectable alignment on himself.

Deagha and Fraas fly up and see a second chamber, lined with slippery ice. Large dripping stalactites. It looks as if it was magically very cold, with that effect now wearing off. Tunnels toward branch out in each cardinal direction. They notice that the ground is chopped up in the East & West directions, slushed as if someone or something big had been here recently. Deagha notices that something wyrmish had been wriggling through here. Deagha knows of no natural creature who could make these tracks, but Fraas thinks that it looks much like the tracks of a Frost Worm.

The southeasterly trail goes on beyond into darkness. The northwestern trail leads to a ledge, where coiled up, a 30ft frost worm is asleep, its single eye closed.

Fraas recalls that these worms are vulnerable to fire, but may explode upon death. Fraas affixes a grappling hooks rope ladder that Korrak & Zinn climb up. Sentinel leaps up with Rand on his back. Fraas & Deagha fly up. Fraas casts communal protection from cold on everyone. It is quiet, apart from the sound of Rand’s clanking armor

Deagha, flying ahead sees the creature’s eye crack open and flies back to alert the rest.
Everyone further back hear crunching ice. Deagha returns to just see the worm slink into a tunnel around a bend. Deagha feels overcome with fascination upon seeing the worm staring back from in the tunnel. The group hears a high pitched trilling sound.

Fraas tears a bit of stray cloth from his garment and sticks them in his ears, advising the rest of the group to do the same. He continues forward, but can now feel the will of the worm try to take hold, which he shrugs off. Sentinel bounds forth. Zinn, Korrak and Rand move carefully forward on the icy floor.

The worm passes a dazed Deagha on its way out of the hole as it blasts cold at Sentinel. Deagha sees this beast attacking his friends and snaps out of the enchantment. Fraas blasts the worm with an empowered mythic fireball. Sentinel leaps onto the worm but his fists clang on its icy armor. Zinn misses with her immolating bow; Rand misses with his bow. The beast continues to burn and suddenly explodes into a burst of frozen shrapnel.

A trilling sound echoes from the alternate tunnel, but stops after a short while. Deagha flits into the tunnels to where the worm went and finds a miscellany of bones, deer, kobold, etc. The crew decides to forge ahead after a round of healing from Rand, Sentinel gets his “healing” from Fraas.

They advance carefully on the ice for the rest of the day. Periodically the tunnels widen into larger chambers, but the condition is consistent, yet it still gets colder. The group stays as wide as they can as they move through these rooms. There is an absence of life for the most part; not a lot of signs of living creatures, perhaps the insurmountable cold made the area unlivable.

At the end of the day’s travel, they reach a very large chamber, with a semi-frozen, lightly thawed pond. Finding a place in the chamber where there are grooves in the wall, about 300 ft away from the lake, they make camp. Rand places caltrops around the encampment. Deagha morphs back into human form.

On first watch, Sentinel & Zinn hear a splash from the lake and a multitude of voices cursing in giant. “Fuck!” “Pull em out” “Shhhhh” At least 3 different voices. Deagha turns into an air elemental and moves closer to investigate. He sees a dozen large humanoid creatures gathered around the water. One is squeezing liquid out of its furs. They look like trolls but their skin is paler, and they look wirier, like ice trolls.

Fraas flies over with Deagha to unleash a fireball. Deagha casts wall of thorns, one of the trolls tries to smash through, but only hurts his hand. Fraas’s single fireball, completely obliterates the trolls, whose bodies explode through the thorns like meat through a sieve. Only one troll head is unhurt, trying to move back to its body with its mouth. Fraas flies down and picks up the head; brings it back to group. Zinn tries to talk to it, but it is too far gone; Korrak finishes it with her flaming sword.

Deagha flies out to check the rest of the lake, seeing the trolls’ tracks. Their tracks came from the west, a slight breeze. No sounds, except very quiet echoes of worm trills, very far away.

The next morning Deagha hummingbirds up the west tunnel to investigate the source of the breeze. After a while, he reaches the exit of the caves. Cautiously peering out, he sees the troll tracks leading to a troll encampment. There are about 2 dozen other trolls of various ages, very savage looking, no apparent alignment with Thoko. On the flight back to the cave, he flies up to scan the progress north, about 50 miles south of Thoko’s realm.

Deagha rejoins with the group, and they travel through the northernly tunnel for the rest of the day, it getting progressively colder. They reach a fork. The northwestern air is slightly fresher, natural cold brisk mountain air. Northeast, air is damper, no tracks.

Making camp in an alcove, the night passes uneventfully.

The adventurers decide to head down the damper tunnels. Deagha scouts ahead reporting back routinely. After a few more hours of walking, Deagha reports that he’s seen some very old mine tracks that have not been used for a very long time. Just the disused rail remains, no carts. There is no trace of aerum; whatever was mined has been mined out completely.

Sentinel notices, after walking about an hour along the tracks, a very small shining object, about the size of a coin. Deagha flies up to look at it, it looks like a scale. Frosty white, small. Looks dried like it’s been there for a while. Passing mining veins, bits of tools, splintered and piecemeal, old crumbled wood as if it was a cart torn apart. Eventually the mine shaft opens into a large room, the largest room yet. He did see that other tunnels were branching out from this room. Upon approach Sentinel hears a sound of “wet, chewing”.

Deagha flits ahead slowly to try and find the source of the chewing. A female frost giant, eating a dire rat like an apple. A cloak of blackbird feathers, which Fraas notes may imply the ability to hide. She’s chained by heavy manacles hands together, and bolted to the ground in two places.

The room seems to be a junction, tracks all through the room, a rope-winch in disrepair leading to a higher set of tracks. The giantess is sitting on a pile of bones, from human to frost giant size, including a skeleton of a horse-sized dragon, with decaying white scales.

Deciding to interrogate the giant, Zinn and Rand approach, while Fraas hangs back and readies a silence spell in case she triggers and alarm. She does not register as evil. She notices them, and in common tongue, “please don’t take my rat.” She hops around. She looks very malnourished and is darting her eyes at their weapons, sizing them up. “Are you here to kill me?” Rand engages diplomatically with the giantess.

She notices Rand’s crown and seems pleased that he took it by force. She had tried to take the crown from the jarla before, but instead was sentenced to remain here. She had been a scout in the jarla’s army. Her sentence is until “it” comes back for her. There is a Slorath in these tunnels, a gargantuan creature, bigger than a frost worm, intelligent. She announces her name is Bjaritte and claims to know the mountain very well. She desperately asks to be freed in exchange for leading us into Thoko’s area. Rand and Korrak take turns swinging their weapons to break the chains, freeing Bjaritte. Fraas and Sentinel rush forward toward the noise.

As Fraas moves out, he hears crumbling rock behind. He lights a copper piece and throws it toward the sound. The shining coin flies up above the entrance to a set of tracks above and on an upper ledge he sees a pair of giant green vertical eye slits staring right back attached to a giant white scaled monstrosity. Fraas immediately casts invisibility on himself.

The rest of the group hears Fraas casting a spell, which Deagha recognizes as invisibility. They see a gargantuan form black out the light, slithering and softly landing on the ground. Fraas feels an icy cold breeze at his back. And rushes toward the rest of the group without turning back, but evasively flying.

Zinnaeris uses her boots to teleport Korrak & Bjaritte back to Griffton. Rand casts daylight on a coin and throws it toward the slithering sounds. The room is now dimly lit. The light passes by an enormous 40 ft long serpent form, with glossy white scales, icy blue tongue, multiple rows of teeth. Fraas notices a train of scales moving underneath right toward Rand and Sentinel.

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Deagha summons an Ettin to attack the Slorath. One of the Ettin’s heads is paralyzed, while the other strikes out with a vengeance. Deagha casts mythic barkskin on Rand. Sentinel unleashes a flurry of blows on the Slorath. Fraas averts his gaze, and launches a giant fireball.

Back in town, Korrak, Zinn & Bjaritte appear. Korrak intimidates to get the townsfolk to chill out when they see the frost giantess.

Back in the tunnels, Rand swings his axe, landing a mythic, smiting blow hurting the creature very badly. He then swings again, with a critical strike through its eye, into its brain. Fraas stands agape.

Fraas sends a message to Zinn. “The beast is slain. No problem. Teleport back to us. If you take longer than a few minutes, I’ll try scrying you.” Before replying Zinn relays the message to Korrak & Bjaritte. The latter of whom concedes to follow wherever requested.
Zinn to Fraas, “Um. My god you’re alive. See you in a minute. Maybe.”

An astonished Korrak, Bjaritte & Zinn reapparate in the cavern. Bjaritte is gobstopped. “This creature has long terrorized my people… for generations.” Fraas detects magic on Bjaritte: Cloak of elvenkind, illusion aura +5 to stealth. Korrak loans Bjaritte a frost spear that she tests by stabbing the slorath corpse.

Fraas mends Sentinel then sets to work taking parts of the beast for later use and investigation, picking pieces of brain through the eyehole formerly housing Rand’s axe, collecting pieces of its eye, scales, small bones and blood. As Fraas gets deeper inside the creature, he has to use protection from cold spell to keep digging. He finds two orc bodies in various states of digestion.

Fraas emerges from the body. Everyone make a pile of all the goods they find in the chamber: a badly corroded mundane clothing, a magical battleaxe (1 made of adamantine), a magical chainshirt (2), a magical dagger (+1), some oil of magic vestiment for Rand, a potion of good hope, 3 scrolls of baleful polymorph, greater shadow conjuration, and regenerate, a wand of searing light, a corroded shield and various coins and gems.

They equip Bjaritte with the magical chainshirt and Rand starts discussing with her a strategy on how best to free Thorak’s captives. She says that these mines connect with Thoko’s mines. She reveals how Thoko’s pool of sending works. It’s a large pool, big enough for a dozen, leaving a powdery residue upon arrival. She acknowledges that people’s’ lives shrivel up to power the pool. Thoko is magically trapped, but compels the dragon to compel all to do his bidding.

The prisoners are commanded by the rune giant to mine the aerum. There are other advisors closer to him. It is a loose hierarchy, constantly changing, lots of usurping going on. He has reigned for ages, mostly in the mountain. Since Belheim fell their thirst for conquest has expanded. She knew of griffton, not of by its name, but as another target on the mote. Her sister had led that charge; she is please we defeated her. She claims that the miners’ souls barely have an effect on empowering him, so Thoko is greatly desiring of heroes’ souls. She seems earnest about everything.

Meanwhile, Fraas scavenges through the pile of bones digging out some dragon scales, pieces of bone. He notices that all the creatures were intelligent and gets a flashback to the time when he once found intelligent creatures the most delicious.

Priority now is getting his captives free. The gang heads further North under the guidance of Bjaritte.

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Episode 124 Recap
The Memorial Turns Cold

The next morning in the temple, Quinnla tells Rand that she had a vision that Bork wished to stay at rest. Saddened, he asks Quinnla to make burial preparations for Bork.

Zinn examines Laush’s picture book, but when opening the book blue flames erupt out. Shah, Zinn, and Fraas, spend the day at the tavern with ladies, booze, booze, respectively. Deagha wanders around town, eventually reaching the tavern.

Rand and Korrak walk around chatting about this mote on way to Beck, talking of the magical twisting on the mote and how even though he was seated in front of devils, that she can trust Sentinel. When they meet up with the Beck, Rand tells him about Bork and asks him to assemble the town the next day for a memorial service. Korrak heads back to tavern, and Rand to his parents’ to tell his mother about Balin being alive and captured and to let her know about Bork.

When Korrak enters the bar, Archibald, in an unusual manner, offers her free drinks. Fraas can’t sense anything abnormal, and puts it off as some kind of courtship ritual. Zinn, notices too, and asks a fellow townsman, but they don’t recall free drinks ever before. Sentinel arrives in the bar. Korrak approaches him and confronts him about the hell dimension, but he is still confused about the experience. Fraas indiscreetly asks Archibald about a potential crush on Korrak, but says he just senses she’s someone to trust.

The group convenes that night on the airship to chat with Sentinel about what happened. He had been compelled by the evil Rand as if he was Sentinel’s maker. Evil Rand had left with the words, “not today it seems.” Fraas asks, “is he your maker??” Sentinel seems befuddled. Rand replies, “evil rand was left in the past, he knew of all of us, knew of Sentinel’s history.” Sentinel also notes to Rand that his healing spell did not work. Fraas detects undead and sees an aura on Sentinel.

The group prepares to sleep the night on the boat. Before bed, Korrak and Zinn go to check on Zinn’s book, the others join in a bit later. The book’s image of Sentinel on the throne now looks like Zinn is swinging the sword at the skeletons. Only one other image is altered: where Zinn was once being knighted by a green wyrm, the image now has no-one but Zinn. Fraas reveals a conjuration aura of calling magic, which could be a connection to another plane. To examine if the moving versions of the images have changed, they take the book to Archibald, who just lifts up his eye patch and plops out his eye gem for Zinn. He trundles away clumsily, as the group moves into his private room. When looking with true seeing, the skeletons appear as a vignette of a bunch of heroes battling devils, with Sentinel leaving the throne to join the heroes. In the other image of Zinn being knighted, she now appears confused, as if looking for someone who should be there. Only one other image is altered, one where previous Bork was falling on a bridge, but now he is gone. When Fraas looks with the gem, for a moment his gaze moves around the room, where he spies Archibald’s horns, and lets out an inconspicuous “AH!”. Curious, Shah, Rand and Korrak also do so. Korrak approaches Archibald to chat about being a tiefling.

While the rest of the party goes to sleep for the night, Deagha patrols the deck and Fraas hangs out in the crow’s nest. Near midnight, Fraas spies to the north a brief flash of light and then what sounds and feels like mild earthquake. The water in the bay ripples gently. Deagha also senses this, but feels a slight sense of dropping ever so subtly.

The next morning, the group meets in the galley for a breakfast of turnip, boar-bacon hash, fried duck eggs, brown gravy, and light ale. Aven and Gfed are not there. With pangs of panic from the last time Aven went missing, Fraas dashes off to check the locks on the coin safe. Rand checks in on Aven, knocks on the door. With no answer, he enters and finds an envelope:

“Friends—

By the time you read this, I will have returned to Mechanus. My planar guardians contacted me through Orn to tell me that I must go back, for a while. It seems as though our recent troubles with t planes — what happened in the base of the Belheim tower, and perhaps even Sentinel’s adventuresome resurrection — are related to me. My encounter with the forces of Dark Mechanus in my old borrowed cavern laboratory has, in some way, left me marked, and any sort of planar travel, be it portals or teleportation, is now like walking into a trap. So they asked, well, demanded really, that I seek refuge with them while we study the circumstances of my explosive incident and engineer a device that can shield us all from their interference. The gnomish tinkerer that worked in the lab before me is the only clue we have, and Gfedcba recognized it as some sort of ‘musical’ writing, so he’s coming along, too. Luckily, you’ll recall that time flows differently there, so we’ll be back before you know it. We’ll be in touch!

- Aven and Gfedcba

P.S. Take care of Orn for me"

They all head back to town for the memorial ceremony where they see a ruggedly constructed platform and townsfolk milling about, confused as to why they were summoned. Near the platform is a tiny stone box with handholds. Beck notices the group, and is grateful when Rand offers to make a speech. “People of Griffton, old and new alike, we are honoring, today, your heroes.”

As the ceremony ends, Fraas hears subtle spellcasting on the wind, from the tavern. He immediately tells everyone; Sentinel runs toward the tavern. When he nears the tavern, there is a loud wooden crunch! A frost giant bursts out, some kind of light behind him. Fraas flies up to get a better vantage point and sees a large white circular portal, and one of the rescued guardsmen from Belheim.

Fraas fireballs the frost giant. The giant responds by throwing a boulder back at Fraas, but narrowly misses. Rand rushes with a smiteful blow, felling the beast. More giants move in through the portal, one more frost and one rusty colored, speedy Slag Giant. The latter rushes and strikes at Rand. Deagha summons an ettin, who attacks the Belheim traitor. The treacherous Belheim guard withdraws from the ettin and shouts out the window for help. Shah tumbles gracefully, cape majestic, through the tavern, standing protective and akimbo in front of the shocked barmaid. Korrak charges at the slag giant, slicing him into tiny bits. Sentinel speeds into the frost charging with fists ablaze. Fraas lightning bolts the frost giant and zaps the Belheim guard dead. Zinn shocking grasps through her sword, nearly obliterating the frost giant. Rand flanks the giant, hits him in the chest, and the beast clutches his organs as they fail, falling to the ground. Rand rushes to reach the portal in the tavern.

More giants come streaming through the portal: two more slags and a frost, the ettin attacking them as they move through, but they push through, attacking zinn, missing sentinel. A flying orc moves in through the portal. Deagha’s ettin strikes at the frost giant from above. Deagha begins casting another spell, and also calls lightning to strike the giants. Shah urges the barmaid to run and, in an absurdly dramatic fashion, flits out the tavern window and flips in through the top floor window. The barmaid clambers out the window and runs, beers in hand. Korrak cleaves two giants. Sentinel tumbles back, appears to flee the fight, but instead leaps up, flies toward the orc, grappling the orc as they float groundward. Fraas attempts to dispel the portal, but alas no. The slag giant swings its axe and shatters Korrak’s sword.

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A very large female frost giant jarla, with an icy crown emerges through the portal. In an flash, where Rand once stood, there is now a fluffy bunny. The portal is flickering, fraas understands this means it is losing power. Deagha summons another ettin to flank the giantess, and gives zinn some mythic barkskin. While Zinn runs a slag giant through, her sword tries to dispel the magical shields on the giantess, and finally rushes over to the orc with a shocking grasp. Shah stabs at the orc mage with his rapier. Korrak takes zinn’s great axe and cleaves the orcs head in two, stomping on its skull. Sentinel approaches the frost giantess with his fists. Fraas dispels the frost giantess’s mage armor. Rabbit Rand runs away and finds a discarded helmet in which to hide. The giantess blasts an empowered cone of cold against Zinn, Shah, Deagha, and Korrak. Fraas manages to dispel her shield, opening up for the ettins swarm in and attack, knocking her out.

The group debates on how to deal with their prisoner. Sentinel votes for killing her, and then runs off to find Rand. After an hour or so of debate, Zinn delivers a coup de grace.

Among the bodies, Shah and Korrak find some potions for curing moderate wounds. Korrak also finds a gold ring of protection, and a nice looking greatsword with a magical frost effect, and Shah snags a magical white fur cloak of resistance and an amulet of natural armor complete with preserved baby mammoth tooth. Rand removes the ice crown from the jarla and finds that it magically bolsters his charisma.

Zinn goes to the dead Belheim guard and uses her sword to speak with it. “Are there any other spies in Griffton?” “Yes there are.” Everyone but Fraas senses he’s lying. “How was the portal opened?” “I am an immensely powerful wizard” Again, lying. “What was the motive behind the attack?” “When fools fall into Thoko’s traps, he’ll take all the souls he can.”

Borrowing Archibald’s eye gem, Shah sees nothing different about the fallen foes. Looking around the room where the portal was cast, they find only traces of stone dust as if a ritual had been performed to summon the portal.

The adventurers and townsfolk spend most of the day rebuilding, cleaning, disposing of bodies. The rest of the day and night passes uneventfully.

The next morning Druri holds a small ceremony for his fallen comrade, the Belheim guard, Turin. This day also marks the 2 month anniversary since Lord Garland left the mote.

Fraas dispels the rabbit form from Rand. The party goes to the barracks where Turin’s bunk was and look through his footlocker. They find nothing but extra underwear and socks. Shah finds a concealed hiding spot, with a nice bottle of corn whiskey. Fraas holds on to the liquor for ‘further investigation’. They interview Turin’s bunkmate, who says he had never traveled out of Belheim before and neither of them had been interrogated in the prison camp. His comrades had made up his bed, but didn’t find anything of note. Rand gives his condolences.

Fraas proceeds to blood biography the dead guard, but nothing new is revealed. The gang further investigates the tavern. It doesn’t appear that Turin was staying here, and it seems as if he had acted alone. True seeing doesn’t reveal anything further. Fraas detects magic and sees a lingering aura of teleportation, very strong, artifact level. The limestone dust seems like it’s just a mundane material.

Zinn speaks with dead on the frost giantess jarla. “How did the spy from our town contact your forces?” “He didn’t we contacted him.” “What was the target of your attack?” “Thoko prefers to feast upon the souls of heroes brave enough to rescue his pawns.” “How are your forces tracking us?” “We waited until you brought our pawn to your home, now we know where your home is.”

Deagha mentions that on the night that we first got back from rescuing sentinel he there was a faint rumble. Being attuned to the mote, he can sense is now slowly falling.

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Episode 123 Recap
A Congregation of Devils

It’s approaching dusk, so the party members take watches. Fraas sets up a mental alarm at camp, so he can focus on scouting, with Gfed’s eagle’s help. First watch passes uneventfully, however, on second watch Shah and Fraas notice that Gfed’s eagle is flying above scouting and there is another hawk, circling the area. Gfed calls back his eagle, and Shah quickly detects good on the suspicious bird, finding a moderate aura. The hawk flies and perches on a branch nearby.

Fraas tries to cast true form on the creature, but fails. In response, the bird flits down to Fraas and squawks, “why’d you do that?” The bird morphs in a man, a druid. “My name is Deagha.” Deagha begins to describe how he was here to monitor these forces, sent by the druid council he is a part of in the northern regions. The ice dragon’s reaches have extended south into the druid territories, almost wiping out the elk population. He had woken up here, after the ‘strange times’, with a mammoth herd, the rest of his tribe missing, presumed dead. He notes that the regiment at the falls in only about a tenth of the army he’s seen.

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As second watch ends, Gfed and Shah head to bed, and Aven and Rand awake. Rand sits up, with a shocked look on his face, “I know how to raise the dead. My mother came to me in my dreams and showed me.” Dawn breaks.

With Rand’s new power, the group sets to resurrecting their slain friends. Zinn & Fraas teleport everyone to Quinnla’s. Deciding to begin with Sentinel, they take Bork’s body into another room. Rand speaks in a celestial tongue and lays hands on Sentinel. Suddenly the candles blow out, the room vanishes from sight and everyone is falling.

Fraas casts featherfall around him, catching Aven, Rand and Deagha. The are blown through a portal, reaching a stained glass window that they shatter through. They are hurled toward the ground of a large cathedral made of crude stone walls. Chucks of the wall and ceiling fall as they are crashing through, some breaking through the ground where now blue shafts of light bleed through. Screaming, Laush falls right into one of these shafts, as a bright blue beam of light leaves her hand, striking someone sitting in the front pew of the room.

The room is filled with devils, watching a procession along a red carpet, woven in stained flesh. Skeletons surround the room, there are bearded devils with spears, bone devils, devils covered in carrion insects, barbed devils with serrated, lashing tails, erinyes, and flanked by skeletons on the throne, sits Sentinel. Also on the dais are a two larger more vicious devils: a chain-whirling, horned devil, and a flaming winged pit fiend. There was also a suspicious hooded figure, facing Sentinel, but the moment the adventurers broke through, the being vanished.

Zinn rushes a cluster of bone devils. A bearded devil swings a glave at Zinn and misses. A group of three rush Rand but only one strikes true. Sentinel, apparently just as unaware of his being here, rushes a kneeling ice devil and punches. Some bearded devils rush Zinn biting, stinging with tail but miss, and begin clawing at her. Fraas arcs lightning between an ice devil and bearded devil. Deagha summons lightning, then begins casting a spell. An unrecognizable non-devil in the front row strikes at an ice devil. Another devil breathes cold air at Sentinel, obliterating the skeletons behind but not affecting the ironborn. The erinyes entangle sentinel in magical ropes. Rand slices a barbed devil in half at the waste. Shah stabs at a bone devil. The pit fiend shrieks, “Surrender the prince, or your souls are forfeit!”

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Defiantly, Zinnaerris arcing pool strikes a barbed devil and slaughters a couple bearded devils. Sentinel withdraws from the ice devils and charges at the devils surrounding Zinn. Fraas lightning bolts a barbed devil and two ice devils. Deagha summons an ettin, its first head obliterates a skeleton and cleaves into an ice devil, its second head, destroys another skeleton. Deagha morphs into a stegosaurus and clears away some of the devils surrounding Rand. The non-devil humanoid fells a badly injured ice devil, then charges the last standing ice devil, which responds in kind with a spear attack. Rand cleaves the devils still surrounding him. He steps behind the devil fighting Shah to flank. Shah takes advantage of this slaying the devil. Zinn and Sentinel finish off the last barbed devil

With most of the smaller devils defeated, only the erinyes, the pit fiend and horned devil remain, though they are likely much more powerful than the adventurers can handle. The horned devil flies at Rand who shouts, “let us part ways!” The devil pauses for a moment, then answers, “agreed”, casts defensively, then casts dispel good, but Rand resists. A voice speaks in everyone’s heads “this is not yet over.” Then a roaring infernal deep voice bellows, “AWAY TO THE KING.” The two erinyes disappear and the rest of the devils teleport away.

Rand goes to talk to the non-devil human woman, introduces herself as Korrak. The rest of the group sets to looting the devil corpses. They find much coinage and art items, which were presumably gifts brought for the procession. Deagha finds a masterwork hide and a frost spear; Shah loots a masterwork shortbow and ring of sustenance and hands a masterwork composite shortbow to Rand, who also discovers a wand of effortless armor; Fraas finds a bunch of wands, scrolls, potions and oils; Korrak picks up another frost spear. Look around the room it seems like there were halls and doors before the walls crumbled, but now the plane appears torn. The blue light emanates evil and is an endless drop. Laush is nowhere to be seen.

Rand asks sentinel what was going on. Sentinel remembers waking up after dying outside of here, a rocky barren plane. Looking at Rand, “The other ‘you’ compelled me to come to this room. Other devils came to watch me ascend to the throne and pay respects. When ‘you all’ arrived, the other ‘you’ said, ‘not yet it seems’ and disappeared.”

Deagha turns into a dire bat and takes the party and Korrak one by one, flinging them back through the stained glass and back into the portal. Deagha and Fraas fly in behind. Everyone appears back at Quinnla’s just as before. Sentinel opens his eyes.

Everyone heads to the tavern to wile away the night. Sentinel diverges to wander the night alone, but Fraas interrupts him, hands him back his hourglass with a nod and a look, and then lets him continue his amble in solo.

Everyone idles around town for the night, healing, resting up as needed.

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Episode 122 Recap
The Portal Brings a Metal Doom

Mere seconds after Aven and Zinn went into the portal, Zinn reemerges cradling Aven in her arms. She stumbles back out, and catches her footing. Aven is rigid, locked in place. “Bad, bad, bad, decision!” Zinn describes a world of space, ships, metal creatures. She had entered a big shadowed tunnel, emerging into a silver sky with floating ships and weird metal creatures with the will to control gravity. When she first entered, she saw Aven floating and sped up to grab him. Upon touching him, the ships saw her and a metal spidery claw from above went for her; she barely made it out. Aven is still catatonic.

Bork notices the portal start to shimmer, when suddenly insect-like appendages moves in from around the portal. Bork yells, “WATCH OUT!” Sentinel notices the claw is phasing in and out of reality with a dim green aura filling in the missing material. The portal gets choppy, as a large figure bursts through, head snapping to spot the entire party. The hammer-headed metallic being crackles with electricity and makes a sudden hand movement. Suddenly gravity reverses, as Fraas use his airy step and quickly casts feather fall for Zinn, Laush & Sentinel, though Shah, Gfed and Rand crash into the ceiling.

Insectoid appendages extend unnaturally toward each of the adventurers. One goes into Rand’s mouth; he turns green and vanishes from sight. Fraas and Zinn dodge. Gfed and Shah get their gravity reversed again. Laush slows down upon touching one of the insect arms, but casts airwalk to overcome the effect. Zinn enlarges. Sentinel leaps toward the metal man. Rand reappears at the other end of the room and falls to the ground again. “QAS AM UNAAT!” Rand flames the metal beast. More metal men come running from the tunnel, running toward Sentinel. Bork throws a bandolier of grenades at the metal pirates. As Fraas’ cone of cold dissipates, he recognizes the smaller metal pirates as golem-like and resistant to magical effects. Some of the metal wounds repair themselves. The big one moves toward Bork. The gravity field adjusts again. Shah goes invisible. The spider limbs retract through the portal after the big guy nods. Zinn charges but misses.

With Bork’s bombs about to explode, Sentinel heroically rushes through the enemy horde to grab Zinn and rush away. The metal constructs slice at Zinn and bludgeon Sentinel. Sentinel is blinded by an electric attack from the bigger metal pirate. Rand charges toward the pirates, as his griffon attacks with a flame blast triggering the grenades to explode, obliterating four of the metal pirates. Gfed uses weird words to fell the big one. Zinn and Sentinel strike at one of the remaining; Rand’s griffin attacks the other.
One of the golems unleashes an electric shock, sending the other into a berzerker fit. The electric shock turns Bork into ashes and the berzerker rips Sentinel apart.

Fraas creates a pit, but the golem leaps to safety. Zinn hurls a snowball at the farther one. Rand dimension doors again and falls. One of the golems charges at him, but Rand blocks the strike and instead cleaves it in twain. Fraas tries to dispel rand’s dimension door, but fails. Finally, Zinn’s snowball obliterates the remaining golem.

Rand verifies that Bork is indeed and sadly, dead. Sentinel’s light is still seen through the spyglass but his body is no longer whole or animated.

Aven is still catatonic, so Rand attempts to remove his paralysis. He awakens, “I went into the portal, and it felt like something grabbed my like before.” Examining the metal pirate corpses, “It looks kind of like the creatures from the plane I was at, but clearly not the same designer”. He mentions feeling a sudden blackness. Gfed says, “this portal is obviously more powerful planar magic than we know.” Aven picks the most useful parts of the mechanoids to take. Rand calms the dragon, and tells the frantic creature what just happened. Confused, the dragon indicates that portals cannot change destination and that the other side is different than our prime material plane.

Readying to leave, Rand carries Bork’s body and Sentinel’s head and Zinn carries Sentinel’s body.

Up the stairs and across the water, for the rest of the day and another, they make way to Griffton. Archibald notices a somber adventuring group. Fraas goes straight to the bar and drinks, silently, solemnly. Rand and the rest take the bodies of the fallen to Quinnla’s. Quinnla looks through a book of funeral rites, unsure of what to do about Sentinel. Rand asks Quinnla to keep their bodies in good condition in case the party can find a way to resurrect them. Laush goes to chat with Rose. Everyone else reconvenes at the bar. They disperse excess gear among themselves and discuss plans to head back to Belheim the next day. Zinn and Fraas spend the evening quietly drinking. Rand goes home for the night.

Early the next morning, Beck can be seen patrolling with little Timmy, and some of the rescued guardsmen.

Persevering with a significantly weaker force, the party heads to Belheim. It is much brighter than before, as Lord Garland’s perpetual nighttime spell is fading. They camp outside town for the night, which passes uneventfully. In the morning, they move toward the center of town, tracking, and moving unseen to the edge of the tower’s lake. Fraas sends his arcane eye into the tower, but everything is as they left it.

Moving west out of Belheim, traveling under cover of forest, they reach the edge of forest and spot the guard tower. Atop the tower, Fraas spots a fur-robed orc sitting in a chair. Fraas cloud shapes and approaches. The orc is more still than a person could possibly be, but nothing else seems out of the ordinary. Gfed sends his hawk to try to disturb the figure. The bird takes a circuitous route, lands on the tower, and pecks at orc’s foot. After flying back the hawk reports: “Smelly orc. Nasty. Dead. Moved. Taste bad.” Asked if there was anything else he smelled, the raptor squawks, “Tasty mole. Will eat later.”

The group decides to skirt the tower along the edge of the woods. They travel for the rest of the day into nightfall. The trek has been unnaturally quiet. In the plains approaching the hills, they move into Fraas’ magical room. The night passes uneventfully.

They travel for a few more days. It’s incredibly quiet. They pass a few small encampments, recently abandoned and continue through the foothills toward the mountain. After 3 days travel, they are about halfway there.

After 6 days from Belheim, they see a place where the hills open into a valley and from a few miles away, they can see an enormous frozen waterfall, 1000 ft tall. There is some kind of structure built into the face of the waterfall: a ledge, with buildings inside. Fraas notices about halfway up the waterfall, there is a fortification, holes cut into the falls, arrow slots. Everyone can see a finely carved staircase winding up on the north side of the city. The steps appear bigger than needed for humans. 500 ft up on the side of the falls is an opening. Lights can be seen dotting the valley in the shadow of the waterfall. Among the fires there are at least a dozen frost giants, small ogres, about 50 white-furred animals and some very large mammoths.

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Episode 121 Recap
The Frozen Foe

Rand begins to bring Aven up to speed while breaking chains off prisoners: “By the way, we found the white dragon .. He’s perched on top of the Central tower in Belheim… He’s enormous. Much bigger than Draugarlond. We don’t think he’s spotted us, We’ll tell you more later.”

At Rand’s words, the brook trout fisherman (one of the good-aligned captives) speaks up, “Don’t speak of him! Sorry, that is … Lord Garland always told us not to. His lordship said it was dangerous to even think about him .. it .. the frozen foe. And whatever you do .. don’t say his name! Sorry for interrupting, sirs .. and lady.” (He backs away quickly, bowing while limping on his wounded leg.)

Over chatter among the group of a potential of a dragon religious war, Orn shivers at mention of Orborus. The group gathers the prisoners together, putting the 6 obvious guardsmen in charge of corralling the Belheim folk, preparing them for the trek to Griffton. While organizing, the group chats with some of the guards for more information on what happened in Belheim: “They just appeared” “Devastation was total” “We were caught in nets” “We’ve been here for over a week” “Every so often they’d eat one of us” “We’d just hear screams” “Others were taken further west” “Fire signals lit before skirmishes” When asked about the tower on the lake, a guard replied, only holy ones from the council allowed on the center isle in Belheim.

Before leaving, Zinn speaks with the dead cyclops: “How do you get to the mines that the Belheim prisoners were taken to?” “West, 3 days, climb to gate in and deep below.” “Who does the white wyrm take orders from?” “Thoko” (Gfed recognizes the name from old giant legends, a terran title equivalent to emperor.) “Where is the army going now?” “West, back home, to await Thoko’s command”

They burn the remaining giants’ bodies, and begin the march back to Griffton. Along the way, Shah flirts with a female guard.

Back forest, amid more comfortable temperatures, the whole group stops to rest. Aven takes some time before sleep to retell his recent interlude. He lived 10 years in what the rest perceived as only 2 days. Aven taken away from “here”, because of what he was doing; his life was severed. He had been trying to craft items faster than natural laws allowed, when was “untrue” for the beings of Mechanus, a timeless, clockwork plane. His consciousness taken to Mechanus, where he was repaired and then put on trial. The “others” in Mechanus took his crafting device. They also claimed aven strongly resembled the one who first brought gun technology to orcs, to the blood god, Orborus, the giant red wyrm. Aven has a charge to fix this, his life in the balance, literally ticking away.

In the middle of his watch shift, Fraas hears a voice in his head:
YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY WATCHERS. WE SHARE A COMMON FOE. I WOULD SPEAK WITH THEE. MEET ME AT THE TOWER’S BASE. MAKE HASTE, FRIENDS.”
“You say friend, but we have never met. Though if we have a common foe, and if you are the one I suspect, what help will we be?”
YOU SEEK TO FREE THE CAPTIVES OF THE THOKO, THE INVADER OF MY HOME. I COULD PROVIDE INFORMATIONAND ANY OTHER ANSWERS YOU MAY REQUIRE.”
“We shall secure those civilians we have already saved, and all who I can convince will meet you forthwith.”
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! TONIGHT! YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME, WIZARD!”

Fraas wakes the others, after preparing for cold protection. Bork, Fraas, Zinn and Sentinel teleport to the dragon’s tower. Arriving a bit away, they walk across the icy moat as there is no land bridge, only a destroyed frozen dock. Frozen bodies lie in lake, trapped under ice.

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Upon approach, the gargantuan white wyrm drops to the ground to meet them. “Welcome my friends. Thank you for answering my summons, this is my last night before I return. I need your help to root out this great villain. In return, the favor and friendship of dragon is a great gift.” Sentinel clasps his hand on Bork’s mouth.

The white wyrm then begins to provide a bevy of information:

Thoko, a Rune Giant, has two siblings 2 brothers which are chained up by him currently. His is chained in the same room where he resides and does not leave, trapped in the mountain to the west. When pilfering the white wyrm’s baubles, he found a Torc, when placed around his neck he became as powerful as a Demi-god, thus was able to subdue the White Dragon. Thoko has a white-bearded sorcerer (presumably Jackmerius). Thoko also knows about the adventuring group and some of their capabilities, as the white wyrm has been commanded by Thoko to report on the group, up to this point.

The white wyrm is bound to Thoko by a magical collar and must do what he explicitly says. Has been recalled by Thoko to his service back at their mountain home. The white wyrm destroyed Belheim as it is the rightful seat of the dragon ruler of this place. Draugarland is the title of those that rule the mote. The previous Draugarland was the upstart young green dragon and before that the mote was ruled by his parents.

Inside the tower is a portal. Not much is known about the other side of portal as the tower long predates Belheim. Thoko wishes access to the portal, but its protector, the Ghael is a powerful foe. Inside the tower lies the imperial dragon, the only other dragon on mote.

Thoko has been collecting souls of slaves to free himself from the mountain. He magically takes lifeforce from others to gain freedom from his trap. These souls power a pool, the purer the soul, the greater the power and the remaining body becomes a withered husk. His army can also use this pool to envision a location and teleport. Thoko’s army has been mining out Aerum from the Mote in the mountain, about 3 days to the west. There is a direct way in, and a secret way, to the west, along the river through a frozen waterfall.

Bork ends the conversation with the wyrm, and enters the tower. Fraas and Zinn follow, while Sentinel rushes back to campsite to inform the others. Inside, an open archway, dark, steps leading down, twisting about five or six times into a large underground chamber. The room is very bright, with ribbed dark stone arches. In the back of the room wide steps lead up to a 40 ft tall shimmering portal. Next to the steps, coiled up, lies a silver-scaled, wingless dragon, breathing slow, ragged and chained with barbs.

The dragon lets out a loud roar and Bork, Zinn and Fraas flee out the tower entrance in fear, but immediately regain composure and re-enter. Bork approaches more carefully this time, and notices dragon is missing some of its teeth and its tongue and eyes. The barbed chain is black dragonmetal, unbreakable. Fraas attempts to speak telepathically, but denied “for our sake”. When asked about green dragons he thrashes and whips Bork back. Fraas casually vials up some of the dragon’s blood. With a promise to return, the three adventurers head out to white dragon to ask about the dragon metal. Only a few dragons know how to make it. The creators of the metal must die for the bonds to be broken, in the chain on imperial dragon, those creators would be Lord Garland’s parents, who are south on Dragsuar motes.

Finished at the tower, Bork, Zinn and Fraas teleport back to the campsite.

The next day is one of travel until they reach tunnel to Griffton and quickly escort the former prisoners through to Griffton. After a day of rest, the adventurers head back north. The temperature is noticeably warmer than before and they can spot that the white wyrm is no longer perched atop the dark tower. They reach the lake, now thawing, and make their way into the tower. After another fear-inducing roar, Rand acknowledges the imperial dragon, who answers his questions with only silent gestures. Rand attempts to heal the creature, but its wounds cannot be healed by magics. Shaking underneath Rand’s hand, the dragon asks to be freed through death.

Rand asks about the Ghael of the north, it is unknown if she is free or captive. He is tied to the Ghael, his mate on the other side of the portal and bound for the rest of his existence. The dragon indicates that no one goes the other way into the portal; he was free the last time this happened. It was also at this tower that the encounter with the blood god occurred. The storm giants came to this mote first, and had fought with the original green wyrms, Lord Garland’s parents. They had set the slave trade under way. He knows of the giant turtle and considers it a friend. But at mention of Zidane the dragon thrashes violently. It is clear he knows that Zidane had conceived a child with his mate, but is not hostile to Rand for this.

While the group debates what to do, Fraas and Bork examine the portal closely. Almost bumping the two in, Aven strides into the portal. Zinnaerris darts in right behind.

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Episode 120 Epilogue

In a matter of seconds, it was over.

The party charged the guard tower, unleashing their most powerful attacks, tackling the orc mage out of the sky and laying waste to every enemy in a single bloody blink of an eye. Even the mythic Great Cyclops did not foresee or have time to react to the slaughter.

The party quickly realized there was a new unknown, a potential ally. The blast sounds coming from a nearby hill to the right reminded the group of Aven’s pepperbox, but were somehow different.

Looking in that direction, a lone figure stood upon the snowy hill of grass. His cloak billowed in the wind and the party glimpsed a flash of light as if his skin was metallic: was this another iron-skinned hero? Perched upon his shoulder was another metal oddity: a small winged thing, turning its head to and fro, resplendent with color. Was it an ironborn parrot?

Quiet settled over the scene, as the captives’ panic turned to a low murmur of concern. For a brief, moment, the only sounds were the wind whipping snow around the mysterious stranger on the hill, and the ragged breaths of injured and exerted warriors.

Then, from the west, from the distant, icy mountains, bellowed the low rumbling sound of a animal horn being blown, then another, then another, and signal fires began to dot the white backdrop.

The stranger approaches with a noticeable increase in speed. This stranger has an eye patch which is quite intimidating against what looks to be a rough chiseled face. What can been seen of the face looks to be part skin and part metal, with the flesh sort of merging together in some sort of desire to keep the humanity intact as best as possible. Only the top part is visible because the bottom part is hidden behind a bandanna. Gears, peeking through the crevices of the flesh like metal plates, create low whirling and ticking sounds as he moves about with precise motion, as fluid as that of a clockwork timepiece. The metal plates seem to have replaced what was maybe once skin in certain areas, now provides the protective covering for the internal mechanisms that allow the creature act and move so precisely. This relationship of the gears to the metal plates is similar to that skin and blood for more fleshy individuals. The high polished sheen of the metal plates gives the stranger quite an alluring look, that and the awe of such a creature… living, makes it almost hard to not take notice of him.

The creature on his shoulder looks to be be a mix of faerie and dragon crafted from metal. Colors have been applied to make the creature more colorful and to match its appearance a bit better. It continues to look back and around without paying much attention to you. The mysterious figure speaks to it, referring to it by the name “Orn”.

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MYSTERIOUS STRANGER: “We need to move quickly or we might be encroached upon without readiness and that would not do for any type of tactical advantage.”

He pulls his bandanna below off of his nose and down around his neck. It’s Aven! “I’m back but not without lots to discuss. Hold off on your questions until later. We will catch up then. Now its important to get prepared and survive. He drops several bags with name tags on them. Each of these I have crafted for you with expectation that it will help to the best of my knowledge and efficiency.”

For Sentinel: Amulet of Might Fists +1, Daredevil Boots, Bodywrap of Might Strikes (shock), Bracers of armor +1
For Zinn: Belt of Mighty Con +2,­ Medallion of Mind Sentinel
For Fraas: Rod of Metamagic of Lesser Empower Spell
For Bork: Cloak of Resistance +2, Necklace of Fireballs (II)
For Gfedcba: Eagle Cape
For Rand: Crown of Swords
For Shah: Boots of Striding and Springing, Ring of Feather Fall

Fraas stares agape at his rod with wide eyes for a good 30 seconds, then smirks. “I sure do hope some of the oncoming horde are flammable.”

RAND: “Aven this is amazing! I’m so glad you’re back. When we get the chance you’ve got a lot to tell us. Particularly, what’s happened to you. It looks like we don’t have much time until more of the winter army gets here. Zinn would you ‘Speak with Dead’ with the Cyclops while we break these Belheim captives out of their chains? Fraas do you think you could engineer a cart out of the stuff in the tower? Some of these people might be slow movers and we’ll need to carry them. How about we bring the two Orc sorcerer bodies with us back to Griffton, or at least until we’re safe, and ‘Speak with Dead’ to them too? If we can get this crowd back to the forest, we might be able to cover our tracks if we follow the same path the previous giants made on the way to the portal to Griffton.”

GFEDCBA: “Perhaps we should spread out. That way if they take a few of us, they might think they got us all, and a few could survive.”

SHAH (looking at the prisoners): “Are any of them capable fighters?”

Walking among the prisoners and speaking to those who are not in shock, Shah gets the sense that it is a mix of roughly 80% skilled artisan caste and 20% warrior caste. Some of them are wearing tattered green tabards emblazoned with Lord Garland’s sigil. The chains look easy enough to break off and the shackles easy enough to pick, if desired. They speak of the attack, and it reinforces what has already been heard: a surprise attack “from all directions,” a freezing storm, and many captives caught in nets. (One captive is a brook trout fisherman who seems to take morbid enjoyment in that irony.) The Belheim folk indicate many more captives were taken west, and they had been kept in the guard tower for roughly a week. It looked like the prisoners had been mining a dark rock/metal, perhaps coal.

The group notices a great amount of tracks heading west, over the grassy, snow­covered hills, towards the mountains, as if a great group travelled that way. Sentinel’s perceptive eyes do not see any movement from the signal fires on the distant mountains, which are roughly 50­100 miles away.

Fraas detects magic and looks around the corpses, prisoners and tower site. Nothing magical among the corpses, captives or tower wreckage. However, the two orc mages were wearing valuable looking garments: furs of white winter stoat, over thick, fine wool cloaks, set with red garnets. The appraisers of the group think they are worth perhaps 5000gp in total. Otherwise, the group find provisions to make a thick porridge to feed the captives, and the frozen carcasseses of three enormous, shaggy­furred elk. One haunch has been processed somewhat, partially eaten and its fat rendered and collected in enormous frosted glass jars. The giants and cyclops appear to have been eating captives, which the shaken Belheim inhabitants confirm.

Rand detects evil across the crowd, seeing a couple goods and a couple evils, both in the artisan and the warrior groups. The auras are faint, when present. Laush sets to healing any ailing prisoners.

Sentinel points out that the group should light our signal fire probably to avoid looking suspicious as the only tower without one lit. Other than that sentinel looks to the group, out of earshot of the prisoners, “we need to figure out a way to get these people to safety as well as ourselves to safety ­ if we can’t figure out a way to accomplish both of those tasks we need to find a way to get ourselves to safety. We also need to ask all these people where the mines in this region are. With so many artisans we probably have a good understanding of the general lay of resources in the surrounding area”

RAND (to Sentinel): “Lighting the signal here is a great idea, (aside) but we couldn’t possibly leave these people. Once we speak with dead, and free the prisoners, I think we should have enough time to get them to the tree portal and safely into the tunnels to Griffton. Rand starts breaking chains off people, assuring them and telling them to stay calm and follow us.”

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Episode 120 Recap
From the Rubble of Belheim

On the sandbank, strewn among detritus and fleshy bits, the adventurers find the site of Aven’s laboratory, now a collapsed-in sand bar. Behind some kelp, Fraas & Bork recognize the fish that ate Aven’s floating eye. Fraas freezes the water around it and extracts the eye post haste.

The party spends the day digging out the caved in area. After noticing a large amount of stray coinage, a worried Fraas and Bork rush to the ship to check on their loot, worries confirmed, finding most of their cash reserves missing. Fraas casts a spell to secure all the remaining gold and platinum pieces.

Rand and Laush, head to Rose’s, who was busy fashioning iron nails. Laush recognizes that Rose’s holy symbol matches her own deity, Ragash. Rose looks up from her anvil, “you didn’t tell me you brought royalty with you!” After a moment, she emerges carrying an orcish warhammer, with a design of Ragash in the hilt. “This was the axe of my grandfather, Grim Grom Grummer. It is yours now.”

Night falls, and the crew has finally dug through to Aven’s chamber. It’s a watery, unlit, circular room, covered in insane gnomish scribbling. Bits of wood, bits of Aven floating in the ruddy-stained water. Fraas manages to scrounge back a mere 1000 gp from the detritus. Among the workshop, which is now all rubble, Bork discovers a bejeweled scimitar, perfectly cut with small dark gems. In the workshop is a lingering magical aura, Fraas senses it is linked to explosion and very powerful; Gfed discerns it is a planar magic. Fraas casts blood biography, confirming that Aven was indeed dead and was “grabbed & torn apart, this morning.”

Rand checks in with Belheim Zinn and Azaria for details on Belheim’s layout. He asks about Jackmerius & Zidane, but they have no info. The group makes plans to ready for two more days before heading north. They use the scrying pool below the town to look in on Jackmerius, but nothing appears. Fraas scries the white dragon, sees a large sleeping scaly form, atop a stone structure, snowy peaks. It is significantly larger than Lord Garland. Its eye opens and it looks back at the scrying eye. Bork sees its lips start moving as if casting a spell, and quickly alerts Fraas who closes the scry. After a few moments they try to scry Rust, but again, nothing. The rest of the night passes uneventfully.

Gfed’s eagle is sent to Sentinel’s reach. Meanwhile, Rand at practice with his new abilities, shouts “Qas Am”, this time stronger, spewing flame, singeing the grass. Riding the griffon still requires more practive. Rose & Laush chat about home. Zinn heads to her tower to retrieve a silvered mirror along with Rand and Fraas. They use the mirror to scry the eagle at Sentinel’s Reach, but only see it happily eating squirrel, a golden hill and fruit tree farms to the south. Scrying Balin Barduke, Fraas sees Balin chained at the neck to other elves. On bricks of ice, Balin is on his knees. A booming terran voice “Prepare the sacrificial portal!” Fraas recognizes Jackmerius’s voice “Up The Rope” and watches the sacrifice move into Jackmerius’s rope trick. “Back to the mines,” booms the Terran voice. A bit distraught, Rand, Zinn & Fraas head back into town.

The next day, the adventurers meet up with Sylviana, who portents “Dark defender exiled will save his people”. Fraas flits to the crow’s nest. Rand tries “Qas Am Unaat!” this time generating a 200ft forward by 20ft wide column of incinerating fire. Another attempt at scrying, this time for Belheim Zinn’s husband, seeing no child and it is clear he is in the same mining area as Balin. Laush’s armor order is ready at Rose’s. All is ready for the northbound journey.

Upon reaching the end of the northern tunnel, Fraas sends his arcane eye to spy ahead. It looks quiet, so they use the lyre to head out. Laush covers tracks as they go, following giant tracks northward. They rest up Fraas’ rope trick to rest and take watches, though it is clearly not as nice as Jack’s.

After another day of travel, it seems like they are reaching the edge of Belheim. A stone wall, vined, with a tree gate. Through the opening, they espy piles of stones and it feels unnaturally, hauntingly cold. Fraas cloud shapes to check out the city, but finds it is completely lifeless and still. Frozen bodies in various states of destruction, large giant, wolf and giant giant tracks all over, columns knocked over from blunt force, blast patterns of frost on remaining columns. Westward there are 100ft wide swaths of tracks leading to a huge opening in the city wall; far to the west Fraas can make out small fires. There are dozens of different giant tracks, large humanoid shaped tracks, armored prints, and tracks for what are presumably former Belheim inhabitants become prisoners. It is too cold to explore the town right away, so they spend the night in Fraas’ rope trick.

Next morning, Fraas casts a communal endure elements and the group walks into town. For about an hour, they pass through more rings of wall, seeing a lot of toppled columns. 1000ft ahead they see a frozen lake, within a single island housing a dark tower with a white wyrm atop. They quickly hide behind a rubble wall and instead move west, see lights about 100ft out at a guard tower. Near the tower they see giant shapes milling about, a rough wooden palisade, human figures. Fraas cloudshapes, while the rest of the group moves closer over felled trees & rubble. When Fraas is high enough he sees a wooden apparatus inside the stone tower, the back half totally knocked away, chained-together humanoids and larger giant shapes inside. Meanwhile, Bork puts poison on Shah’s blade, Zinn’s sword & Laush’s hammer and bolsters the speed of Gfed, Laush & Zinn. Zinn bull strengths herself.

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Bork teleports in invisibly, seeing a horned cyclopic giant & two fur adorned orcs, weaponless. Bork bombs fire, but without effect on the cyclops. Fraas drops out of cloudshape, feather falls & lightning bolts a hill giant, orc & the cyclops, again not damaging the cyclops. The cyclops moves at Fraas and hurls a boulder; Fraas windy escapes and only takes part of the hit. Bork bombs one of the orcs on the ground, the other flies up. Zinn swings at a giant with dragonsbane and shocking grasp. Laush and Shah charge in. Sentinel leaps into the air hauls Gfed, dropping him off on a nearby rampart. Sentinel grapples the levitating orc, tackling him to the ground. Gfed casts distressing tone, whereby figure appear beside him signing dischordantly. The badly injured orc lashes out with a blast of cold energy at Bork who resists most of it. The hill giant fighting Zinn swings its club twice, but Rand charges it with a power attack and two vital strikes; the giant is now very badly hurt. The hill giant that was zapped by Fraas heals its wounds. A third hill giant circles around to Sentinel with it club, trying to attack the grappling ironborn. Fraas goes invisible and scurries away. Bork bombs one of the orcs to death and attempts to climb the cyclops. Laush charges a hill giant with her warhammer. Shah lights up his rapier and while invisible, slays one of the giants. Gfed casts hideous laughter at the hill giant. Sentinel punches the orc he was grappling. Fraas ice spears the cyclops & fireballs the orc who ungrapples from Sentinel & flies up. The cyclops knocks Rand unconscious with its big club, but Rand defiantly regains consciousness and uses his holy great axe to end the cyclops. Gfed weird words the orc mage, Bork ice bombs the mage to death and staggers the giggling hill giant. Sentinel walks over and crushes the hill giant in a coup de grace.

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Episode 119 Recap
The King of Nightmares

The next morning, after descending into turtle’s cavern, the group makes their way back to the Library. Sentinel and Rand force open the mechanically hidden door, which opens into a 20ft wide stone room, steps going up, a desk to the left, with papers, files, all disintegrated. Bork finds a scrap of paper that looks like some kind of record of work hours. While Aven checks for traps on the stairs, Bork strides on up. A hall leading left passes some stairs going up, and terminates at a fork; to the left, submersed stairs down, presumably into the flooded room; to the right a path on the same level, leading into a large dining area with alcoves fitted with spartan bunks. In this room they find a single skeleton, falling apart, with no legs below its knees. The room looks like it was evacuated in a hurry. Backing out, they move toward the upward stairs into a cylindrical room, with ladder leading up to a trap door. The door gives a bit, but seems to have been covered up from above. Rand and Bork knock the door off the hinges and as dirt piles in, Bork teleports them both to safe cover. The path up simply leads back into the forest above.

The gang head back to the library door with the grease trap. The door opens into a dark tunnel, unnaturally cold. The stone steps inside are irregular. Suspecting a trap door, Rand presses them and they give a bit. The group fashions Bork with a rope line and after walking in about 10 feet, the trap is sprung and the floor converts to a steep grade ramp. Surfing down, Bork eventually reaches the end of the rope and hollers up briefly before cutting the rope and freely sliding further. Moments later, Bork teleports back behind the rest. He reports that 300 more feet or so down the hole, he caught onto the lip of a pit. 100 feet down into the pit he saw a black ooze with a legion of eyes and mouths. Whatever it was had seen him and was making its way up. Across the pit, in a far chamber he saw a bigger aboleth, floating in a room working on a apparent ritual with magical lights and circular formations joined by a small group of skum. He was barely able to make out a high pitched voice, presumably the aboleth’s, sounding out in pain or anger.

Resolving that descent into the pit is not the safest way to approach the aboleth, the adventurers tread back past the turtle’s chamber to find another route: past the recently sanctified room of sacrifice and into a swampy, fetid-smelling room, the stream terminating into a pool. Under the water’s surface lie four large spherical objects, across the way a large archway. Upon further inspection, the objects appear to be eggs, with evil auras; presumably baby aboleths. Bork dives in with a bomb, narrowly escaping an attack on his will, and obliterates the ova. As they explode, maniacal abolethean screams echo from the direction of the archway, “IMPOTENT UPSTART MORTALS! MY POOR BABIES! CANNOT SUMMON THE OLD ONES, THEIR HERALDS MUST DO. PREPARE THE SACRIFICE!”

They all charge through the archway and descend a long staircase. Shah turns invisible and hustles forward. The sound of a large chain crank can be heard; Aven charges ahead, “They’re turning a big wheel, and someone else is down here!” A refrain of screaming voices. Fraas gives himself and Zinn protection from evil and they follow down. In the chamber, noneuclidian runes are dimly glowing on the walls behind a large hovering aboleth in stony carapace armor. Shah approaches a female half-orc cowering in the corner, wearing only tattered rags, who is making an apparent escape toward the stairs. Aven unleashes his pepperbox, Rand charges in smiting the beast, Sentinel runs toward. Rand is almost compelled by the aboleth’s enchantment, but shakes it off. An invisible Shah runs over to the crank wheel, just as it locks into place. A cacophonous crescendo of evil voices rings out, as the black oozing Shoggoth emerges from the pit next door and moves toward the room.

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Rand rushes to the crank, charging a skum on the way. The echoing voices confuse Fraas as he unleashes a devastating fireball upon Aven, Zinn and the escaping half-orc. Taking it in stride, a smoldering Zinn charges at the Aboleth while shooting her bow. Sentinel dragon punches the aboleth. The aboleth begins babbling. Rand can hear the unseen Shah’s voice nearby, babbling as well. Confused, Bork bombs Gfed to the edge of consciousness. Rand pushes the crank. It doesn’t budge, so he tries again, and it moves ever so much, clicking once. The runes start to fade, but the black oozing creature is still moving forward. Fraas regains a bit of composure and fireballs the aboleth. Zinn notices Rand’s efforts and helps the crank back another click. Gfed scorching rays the aboleth. Sentinel moves to help with the crank; it locks into place and the runes fade, but the large black creature is still coming.

The aboleth creeps toward Zinn and smacks her with a tentacle. Rand takes a defensive attack and slices through the aboleth with his holy great axe. Its stony carapace turns clear and dissolves into slime. Bork bombs the remaining skum, accidentally hitting the still invisible Shah. The two skum still standing try to push the crank against Sentinel’s strength and one stabs at him. Rand simply cleaves them dead. The Shoggoth drives forward, but strikes an invisible barrier at the threshold of the room, withdraws, and the screaming voices quiet. Fraas and Bork collapse.

Aven supplies Zinn with a water sphere to put the fire on her still burning garments out. Suddenly, the skin on her arms start to dissolve and the air burns her, so she stays in the water sphere, although she can’t hold her breathe for long. Sentinel carries her up to the pond where the aboleth’s eggs were, as she appears to be stable as long as she’s submerged. Rand, carrying the unconscious Fraas and Bork, heads up the stairs and approaches the mysterious half-orc, who introduces herself as Laush. After some convincing that the group are not a threat, she offers to heal everyone in the area. Rand, Gfed and Aven look for Shah, who after about six minutes reappears near the crank, unconscious. Gfed throws a pebble toward the Shoggoth pit, which flies right through the mystical barrier in the doorway.

Rand graciously offers Laush some of his extra equipment and he tells her about their goal of ridding the mote of evil. Laush says she was walking in a mine on her mote, then suddenly she was in the woods, fell through a hole and ended up here. She is from “Laush Gurak” which Gfed recalls is an orc stronghold mote. Laush is not evil and she mainly wants to return home, where evil humans have been enslaving her people. Upon reaching the pond with the dead eggs, Rand lays hands on Zinn. In doing so, Rand reveals himself as a paladin, Laush backs away, “Paladins are enemies, treacherous!” She mentions her grandfather, Gaël Corentin, is an evil paladin oppressor. Aven and Gfed exchange knowing glances, secretly recognizing the name as a great human hero of Ayn, slayer of orcs, who is still active today, and on a mote of the other side of this world. They all make their way up the ropes back to the forest floor. During watches, Laush approaches Zinn and asks if Zinn could help her get her storybook back. Zinn is a bit shocked and shares her storybook with Laush, and convinces Laush to ask the rest of the group to go back down tomorrow to look for it.

In the morning, Bork has regained a bit of consciousness and drinks a healing tonic. Shah and Fraas also both stir to consciousness, however something is very wrong. They both wake up screaming once they see their friends “WHO ARE YOU! WHERE AM I!?” Shah unsheathes his dagger, which immediately starts speaking to him, and he drops it, startled and aghast. Fraas and Shah share panicked glances, “RUN!!” Gfed invokes a calming spell, but they are both still very much confused as to who they are, where they are, and why this strange group has brought them here. Eventually, the calming spell wears off and the two run off in different directions. Sentinel chases down Shah and Rand tackles Fraas. The two are bound with rope, but still causing quite a ruckus. Rand suspects this amnesia is some kind of after effect from the Shoggoth. “Fraas, your name is Fraas; we’re your friends!” “Frogs? My name is Frogs? I guess that sounds right.” “And you are Shah.” “Shaaaaaah what? Shaaaaa?”. The binding, perhaps obviously, does nothing to still their panic. Fraas begins shouting “Help! Help!” and works his way free from the bindings. He doesn’t make it far before Rand tackles him again. “Help! Help!” Bork warns him to be quiet, but it doesn’t work, so Bork proceeds to work Fraas unconscious with his club. After several hours of attempts, Gfed finally is able to cast the group’s scroll of miracle and thus repairs Shah and Fraas’ memories. Fraas, having wetted himself during the incident gets Aven’s help in washing his garments, after which he quietly air dries them, only moderately embarrassed.

Seemingly back to normal, the party descends to inspect runes in large room. The inscriptions are disrupted by ritual designs, but Fraas is able to comprehend them, as it is in the same language as the other arches in this area: “tread ye not into the chamber of the king of nightmares”. In search of Laush’s book, they make way to the only unexplored room in the aquarium, from where the spiked net was shot at Shah. Past the ballista, is a small living quarters for a group of skum. After quickly dispatching them, the group finds tool-making and metal-melting equipment, and a book that appeared was intended as fuel for the smelting fire. Gfed grabs a crumpled, torn-out page near the furnace and hands it to Laush. After detecting magic, it has the same aura as Zinn’s book, but the torn out page is no longer magical, even after Gfed uses a mending spell to reinsert it.

Three days pass on the way back to town. Archibald reports that Yannik came and went. Fraas plays chess with Sentinel on the airship deck. Rand visits his family, his mom still sad about his father’s departure. Bork convenes with Archibald about borrowing the use of his eye. Sieffre’s daughter, Sylviana and Gfed play music in the airship’s galley. Shah washes his clothes and floppy hats and goes to find the magistrate who implores, “will you stay longer this time?” Bork brings Archibald’s eye to Zinn and Laush, who look at their books, with no effect on Laush’s repaired page. Bork gives Laush a potion to comprehend the runic writing; the same runic language found in the library during their recent dungeon experience. Rand checks on the progress of the town’s aerial defense prototypes. Beck has things under control. The refugees seem happy to have tasks. Azariah is now working with Archibald, putting her knowledge of spices to good use.

Fraas makes his way up to the crow’s nest, where he finds Belheim Zinn sleeping under tattered covers with piece of moldy cheese and stale bread. She said Zinn told her to meet her here seven days ago to help find her family. Fraas takes her down to the ship’s galley to get a proper meal and rallies the rest of the group. Belheim Zinn looks skittish, and meekly asks for help finding her husband and child. Rand tells her that it’s our current objective and we’re working on a plan. Laush sits down next to her, and shares an instant bond with the young half-orc as she voraciously finishes off her meal. Aven, possibly inebriated, can be heard across the room talking a poor sailor’s ear off about some new idea.

Rand takes Belheim Zinn to go speak with Azariah at Archibalds. When he gets there the two are rapt in jubilant conversation. Archibald provides some refreshments, while Azariah and Rand discuss the details he needs to make way back into Belheim. She agrees to gather intel from the other refugees and produce a parchment with all the information she can get. Belheim Zinn gulps down her first taste of ale, and in response her face is equal parts intrigue, disgust and euphoria. As he takes his leave, Rand notes how strange it is that Azariah and Archibald are always giddy around each other and they both went upstairs together. He thinks it must be some kind of coincidence.

At daybreak, when the group gathers, Aven is nowhere to be seen. One of the sailors reports that he went off saying he had some brilliant idea, “powerful beyond your wildest dreams.” He may have been drunk. From the ship they hear a large BOOM! SPLASH! Flotsam near one of the beaches. Fraas adopts cloud shape and heads toward the source; the rest follow along the shoreline. Weird little gears, red, bloodstained fragments of wood, fleshy bits, Aven’s hat floating next to the dock, with bits of scalp and an ear still attached. A fish surfaces to gulp down a floating eyeball.

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Episode 118 Recap
The One Where A Griffin Calls Rand Fat

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INTO THE AQUARIUM

There are lingering acrid acid smells in the cavern. Aven reports there are six underwater tunnels leading from the chamber. Fraas begins sawing off Galdûr’s claw and presents it to Rand who glows with satisfaction.

Zinn begins to stir as Bork rushes to gag her with an old sock. Not knowing what else to do, Fraas begins whacking her unconscious with the flat side of his dagger, Bork soon thereafter intervenes.

The party searches the cave and finds traces of griffin feathers, as if the baby had been drug into the water. Bork mentions his people’s previous encounters with aboleths, that they hail from great chaos, are arrogant and eternal unless killed. They consider the potential that this beast had been influencing Galdûr and the manticores. Bork hastily fashions a potion of protection from evil and tries it on Zinn. It doesn’t seem to work, so they all take watches.

On third watch, the aboleth reappears and begins a negotiation with Bork, the only Undercommon linguist in the crew. “I will trade you the Griffin for my new thrall.” Bork attacks, revealing and dissipating the creature’s false image illusion. Aven puts his ear to water to listen, but hears nothing but a low omnidirectional hum. With a new day of spells, Fraas is able to dispel Zinn’s enchantment. Zinn pouts for a moment away from group, before explaining how she had heard Babdan’s voice convincing her to attack her fellows.

Fraas uses his arcane eye to see if there is a path through one of the tunnels. After nearly losing track, he finally finds a way through the watery tangles of roots and branches into a larger rectangular room. The room is flooded except for a big mound of dirt, upon which is a fresh trail of blood and feathers that looks like it was drug onto the pile, then off into another direction. Fraas casts water breathing on the group, uses his wand of animal aspect to give everyone otter features, aside from Aven (who swims with ease) and Bork (who drinks a potion of touch of sea). Bork also gives Sentinel, Zinn, Fraas and to himself, a potion of protection from evil. They all hastily descend into the water and toward the rectangular room.

As they enter the room, they hear a loud grinding sound. The tunnel collapses, injuring Fraas and Bork in a flurry of debris, and Gfed is buried under rock near the tunnel exit. Immediately, two large eels and one colossal crawling form move toward the gang. Sentinel quickly flurry of blows one moray eel, who snaps back with two sets of teeth. Bork swims toward Gfed and starts digging him out with whatever implements he can find. Fraas tries to fireball the crawling creature, but it just fizzles into steam. Zinn misses her first strike at an eel, but allows Shah to turn invisible and sneak attack the eel in its eye with his dagger. The crawling creature is close enough in the murk to make out that it is a shipwrecker crab. The crab and an eel fight over an advancing Rand, and the crab easily wins, grasping Rand in its gnarled claw.

Aven joins Bork in digging out Gfed with his crowbar. Rand attacks his grappler. Sentinel charges an eel. Bork bombs the crab and narrowly misses. Fraas shoots a lightning bolt at the crab and in doing so, sizzles a nearby eel to death. Shah surfaces, but the rest only see his feet leave the water and can hear his muted screams. The crab grinds Rand in its claw and then grabs onto Zinn. Aven finally clears Gfed, who is unconscious but still breathing, and swims up to the surface. He sees a barbed net pulling Shah up the nearest wall, which seems to be an illusion. He shoots the net, freeing Shah who tumbles back into the water. Bork bombs the fuck out of the crab, Fraas fireballs it, Zinn strikes with an electric attack. The crab scuttles away toward the dirt pile with Zinn and Rand in tow.

Aven swims over to check on Shah who seems to be poisoned. Sentinel and Bork race underwater toward the crab; Fraas swims slowly behind. Babdan (the sword) heals Zinn, who strikes and blasts the crab with energy. As it makes a desperate last attempt to consume its catch, Rand impales it through its open mouth. They finish off the last eel, while Bork cures Shah of poisoning. Rand give the crab a coup de grâce, and heals everyone. Aven lights up the room with illuminated pebbles. Everyone else surfaces and can smell a stronger, acrid smell. Galdûr’s imprint is on the dirt pile as if this was his bed. There are bloodied drag marks leading off. Aven throws a pebble into the illusory wall, behind which they can now see a ballista with rope launcher. There is also another passage (where the bloody tracks lead) and a mechanical door. Before they move on they spend some time searching the lair finding several gems, some platinum and gold, a pile of mundane weaponry (rusted), a magical leather war saddle that sword Babdan recognizes and is labelled with his name, and leather boots of teleportation with a mithral inlay.

They group up and don their animal aspects once again, making their way along the griffin tracks. Sixty feet down the tunnel under an overhang they can make out dim lights. Aven spots one alarm line, but in notifying the rest of the group, he mistakenly triggers another. Thus, they charge in.

THE LIBRARY OF DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES

They emerge into an old library, half-submerged, with stone bookshelves and many many skum awaiting their charge. Aven starts the battle by shooting off the heads of couple. The rest of the adventurers take their turn in kind easily picking off much of the skum horde. Fraas is the only one who sustains an injury, a flung trident striking his hip. They hear a chanting, and an aboleth, this one wearing an armored skin, emerges in the room, floating above the stacks. It quickly enchants Fraas who impulsively feels that all the knowledge he seeks is here in this room and there are merely seven who stand in his way. Rand and Sentinel catch sight of Fraas’s intent and quickly incapacitate him into unconsciousness. Sentinel jumps up to the aboleth. Bork firebombs and frostbombs. Zinn lightning bolts it. More skums attack with javelins and tridents. Bork suddenly hears a dwarf’s voice compelling him to attack his friends. Rand wastes no time and rushes forward smiting the aboleth with his javelin, running it through. Its carapace turns to ooze. The rest of skum are in quick succession dealt blows of death.

Bork seems back to normal, and Rand awakes Fraas and heals him. The room is adorned with a large runic inscription, “Here lie the records of dreams and nightmares.” In the few not entirely molded through books are names assigned to strings of words; Fraas transcribes all he can find into his notebook. There a two plain-to-see doors in the room, one of which is where the bloodied griffin tracks lead. There are also two hidden doors, one mechanically hidden, the other with a faint conjuration aura of grease.

TURTLE ISLE

They continue on the path toward the griffin tracks down another 60 foot path that curves to the left. It is ribbed with wooden arches, there is a slight cool breeze and sounds of “drip drip”. The low hum that Aven heard earlier gets much louder as they proceed. After a hundred or so more feet, it opens into a large oval room. In the center is a lake, with mossy island, and daylight shining down. There is a boat with oars, and wedged into the mossy mound is a two-handed axe. Fearless of the premonition in Zinn’s storybook, Bork dunks his head into the water and sees that the island is merely the top of a gargantuan turtle, fast asleep, with symbols carved into its shell. Aven tries to recall any historical mention of magical turtles, but can only remember a turtle he once saw in the circus that could perform mathematical tricks. Bork dons the boots of teleportation. Aven swims to the mossy edge of the island. Rand, Bork and Zinn row forward and step onto the island. The axe is good and magical, and of dwarven craft. Those still on shore, shift to the side of the chamber along the walkable sandy strip, to be opposite the turtle’s head in case it wakes up angry. As they move further in, Sentinel hears a faint musical song, quiet, discordant, from the bridged area across the stream of water exiting the room.

Zinn lifts the axe and the humming stops. The top of the turtle’s head crests the water. Gfed casts speak with animals, “we are all friends”. The turtle begins to respond, but speaks extreeeeemely slow. He manages to finish “are you all friends?” right before Gfed’s spell wears off. He gazes at them with a peaceful resting look as his head lowers. The humming doesn’t resume, and it becomes clear that the sound was one of nagging pain. Sword-bound Babdan says, “that’s MY axe” and confusedly “I’ve never been in this place before.” Zinn hands the +2 holy great axe to Rand, who is not privy to Babdan’s further complaints about the exchange.

THE ABOLETH’S SHRINE

The party gathers on shore and continues across the bridge into another small chamber where everything looks newer than the other spaces in this cavern network. Inside is a large ruin, strange non-euclidian geometric structures, and a shrine upon a dais. The shimmering carvings in the wall beyond the shrine hurt to looks at. It sounds like the cacophonous flute music is coming from the wall; the room emanates evil.

Scattered across the dais where the lines of the room converge, lie corpses of an ankheg, an enormous owl, a darkmantle, a basilisk, and a baby griffin; all deceased. Throughout the designs are some animal shapes, which Fraas posits mark a ritual sequences, the missing creatures being a hydra, a frost worm, a manticore, and phase spider, all magical beasts. It is clear the ritual was very close to being completed.

They clear the room of carcasses and burn all but the griffin. Rand carves a holy symbol and anoints it with a drop of his blood. The music ceases.

A GRIFFIN’S DEATH, A GRIFFIN’S RETURN

They move back into the turtle’s chamber. Bork teleports up the hole in the ceiling and drops a rope for the rest to climb up, back into the forest. They take the baby griffin’s body to the waiting mama griffin. She cries, swoops in, not saying anything. She gently nudges Rand, who strokes her lovingly. It flies off with its child in its mouth.

That night, the first watch proceeds uneventfully. On second watch, Rand, Sentinel and Fraas smell a rush of sulfur and hear fire crackling in the distance. They wake others, while Fraas turns into a cloud shape to spot if there is an incoming blaze, but sees nothing. Those awake notice a form coalescing in the middle of the campfire; everyone readies for a fight.

What emerges, however, is the shape of a Griffin, Boko’s Griffin. It steps out of the fire and walks to Rand. It burns to touch it, and looks like it was made of ash. Gfed translates the squawks: “I know you, you kind. You all friends of Griffin. You danger life, help Griffon. I do you as did brother. Must go soon. You all know — names has power. My names. Small power, big power, many big power.”

“Qas, Am, Unaat.”

Rand says the words and the heat from the creature no longer hurts. “You try more. Practice. Your name has power too. You try. Must go.” The griffin dissipates into Rand’s lungs in a fading cloud of fire and ash. Fraas mumbles to himself, “must be Rand’s other name? Hmmm.”

Rand says Qas Am Unaat again, feeling warmer. Fraas nudges him, “louder!”. “QAS!!” The griffin reappears. Rand places Boko’s magical war saddle on its back and hops on. It trundles along unsteadily for a bit. It turns its head toward Rand, “You heavy. This take practice.”

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Episode 117 Recap
652 Years Since The Founding

PRELUDE

After escaping the mythic hill giants and winter wolves, and stumbling into the relative safety of the tunnels, two of the frazzled survivors approach the group: a middle-aged elven woman in tattered clothes, and a teenaged woman with a mix of both human and orcish features donned in leather smock with a belt of woodworking tools. The elven woman is the one who was leading the procession through the starlit forest and initially spoke to the party. The second, the party have not met, but she looks oddly familiar. The rest — men, women and children, but not an obvious warrior among them — stumble along and seem to be listening.

The elf says, “Thank you, whoever you people are. Those things have been picking us off since we fled Belheim. They kill some and take others prisoner… I think everyone here has lost someone: husbands, mothers, children, caught in great nets. (She trails off, and the perceptive amongst you notice that she seemed to be speaking of this loss very personally.) Sorry, I have not introduced myself. My name is Azariah, a spice merchant by trade. This is Zinn, a woodcarver, and she has proven herself exceptionally helpful along the way.”

Rand encourages Bork to the front of the group, since his sight in the dimly lit tunnels are most efficient. Rand whispers to Shah to “detect good” on everyone, while he “detects evil”, beginning with Azariah and the newly met Zinn. A few very faint evil auras among random people in the group; the same distribution expected from any random sampling of persons. Some glow good as well, but nothing extraordinary. Belheim Zinn is one of the good ones.

As Sentinel moves into the tunnel, a group of refugees notice him immediately, as he is still disguised in the image of Draugarland. They kneel as his feet, begging for salvation. Sentinel quickly shifts his appearance to that of Varyan’s, and apologizes profusely. The devout rise from their knees glare at him suspiciously, moving back into the crowd.

Aven in a low tone to Sentinel, “Is this maybe a sister of Zinnaeris, or the some Zinn from a different time?” Her appearance is not much like Zinn, though familiar somehow. Different skin tones, hair colors and features, but they do have orcish blood. Out loud Aven asks, “What day and year is this?” Azariah answers, “652 since the Founding.” For the adventurers this doesn’t make sense, since their calendar is based on the Ainic Reckoning (currently 425 A.R.), the calendar used by most of the civilized world.

Sentinel looks at his fellow party members and says, “maybe we should go over the history of the world and the motes with these people. It seems like a weird task but I don’t understand what is happening.” Azariah asks, “what is a mote?” Aven asks her, “have you heard of the Ainic Reckoning?” Azariah shakes her head in obvious confusion. Rand tells her, "Azariah, a Mote is like an island or a continent, except instead of being surrounded by water, a mote floats upon a void of space. We’re on one now. This land we’re on we’ve always called “Scimitar Rock.” Do you have a name for this land? Also, what happened 652 years ago? What was founded? by whom? Why is the night sky unchanging? How long has it been that way?" Azariah, looking almost panicked replies, “I .. am not sure of anything of which you speak. Why would the sky be any different? How far away is this refuge? Why do you call it Scimitar Rock? Is it anything like the Builder’s Rock? That is the only island, in the center of Belheim. Why don’t you know anything?”

Oblivious to his impropriety, Shah starts chatting up the women in the refugee group, telling them about his great deeds of derring-do and asking them about their astrological signs, place of birth and whether their husbands have survived the war. He tells them about his many travels around the motes, telling mostly true stories. The women (and men) in the refugee group seem grateful to be distracted, and are put at ease by his charm, but still regard the rogue with some suspicion. They laugh after each tale, regardless of its truth, as you would at one of Grandfather’s tall tales. They seem confused at the question of husbands surviving the war: “What do you mean? Our spouses were not of the warriors’ order.” (They look at Shah as if he asked whether or not their water was, in fact, dry.) He asks, “Did your husbands not fight then? What did the white dragon do with them?” The response is a curt and sad, “of course not.” They are unsure of the fate of their husbands beyond imprisonment or death.

It becomes apparent that these folks know little about the world beyond their trade and local environment. Their caste system spans from the slaves, through the trade-workers and craftsmen, which make up this group of refugees, up through the Council, the priests and finally to their Lord Wyrm.

Gfedcba moves off towards the side of the group, begins to strum his instrument. The music begins to calm the crowd. He begins chatting up the young half-orc. “Zinn, what a lovely name. You know, Zinn, I love stories. I am a collector of them, actually. And did you know that every name has a story. I was wondering, could you tell me the story behind your name? Were you named after anyone? Shall I play you some background music whilst you speak?”

Belheim Zinn responds, “Your music is weird but I like it. My name? It is a new story, but a happy one. My Papa named me ‘Zinnaerris’ when he purchased my contract, only a month ago, but he calls me ‘Zinn’ because it is easier to say. He said he did not know what it meant, but that to him it meant courage, and that I should be proud to be called that. I like it. I’m glad to have a name. You all are Outlanders, too? You seem nice. Most are wicked, like my Mama was, so we are slaves until .. until we aren’t. Until we make our heavenly father proud, I guess. I was born in the slave pens, but my Papa is an Outlander, so he was a slave, too, but he’s not anymore, obviously. You all don’t seem like slaves. Who bought your contracts?” She smiles at Gfedcba.

In the midst of playing his calming, hypnotic music, Gfedcba replies, “Where we come from, there are no contracts. There are no slaves. Every man, woman and child is free. As a matter of fact, this party is partly responsible for that. It was not long ago that we had to pay a tribute to a dragon from Belheim. A green wyrm who shall remain nameless. He used to be the ruler of Belheim and Scimitar Rock. But no more. He is dead. So is his bride. Now we are free. I am also a bit curious about your papa, his name wouldn’t happen to be Jackmerius, would it?”

She giggles, “Not Jackmerius. Everyone knows him. My father was called Stringfellow.” When asked what he looked like, she says he has dark brown skin and that he was a very strong fighter in the slave pens. On closer inspection she is apparently wearing the same necklace they had previously seen Jack packing up to give to “his daughter”, and her eyes are also remarkably like his. Zinn tells Gfedbca that she is worried the fate of her husband, Ozar. They have a small child whose whereabouts are also unknown. She also mentions that she is pregnant with their next-born. When asked more about where the Outlanders come from she remarks, “Holy men bring them in from other places. I have no idea from where. I think they come through the tower?” Through further chat it is discerned that the Outlanders are imported slaves confined to slave pens and forced to fight each other and monsters in gladiatorial battle.

When Azariah asks who is Griffton’s ruler, Rand responds, “Beck.” A small group a refugees speak in chorus, “Aaaah. The Beck.”

THE REFUGEES IN GRIFFTON

The refugees are brought into town through the tavern portal. Archibald is wide-eyed staring at these new masses. Rand gathers the wounded and takes them to Quinnla. The group delegate the fate of these Belheimians to Durri, who brings them to Beck, who has been growing a beard of kingly proportions. A small group of the refugees kneel in his presence, “Aaaaah. The Beck.”

It is night now, so all but Sentinel and Fraas take their leave to go rest. Fraas takes cloud shape and patrols above the town, Sentinel wanders the town. Fraas enwraps Sentinel in his cloud and begins snickering, making Sentinel panic and start swinging until Fraas takes corporeal form and they both erupt in laughter.

Just before dawn, Sentinel and Fraas spot three elven humanoids outside walls who’ve made an encampment and fire. The female is clearly elf, while the other two men are half elves. They are adorned in natural garb and are with a woven wooden wagon, made from dried vines. Sentinel rushes off to get Shah’s pennon of parlay and calls out to them. The woman pulls back the blanket with bodies in the cart (Fraas smells something pleasant, almost enticing). She shouts out that she wishes to speak with Arvelen. Fraas casts detect magic and sees only auras of barkskin, a typical druidic spell. Sentinel responds that there is a new magistrate and goes to fetch Beck who rallies the group together outside the town wall. Fraas flits down the wall. As she approaches, Zinn whispers that it smells rotten; Fraas, quietly to Zinnaeris, notes it smells more like delicious barbecue. She seems a bit creeped out and suggest he not tell anyone else this, ever. Rand whispers a warning to watch out for the largest male druid. In the cart are humanoid bodies; Zinn notices one missing head and part of a leg that has healed over…Tahgen.

Jasna, the female elf begins, “this is hard to explain.” She tells of the druid way, how they can take the form of beasts. When the fog came, they lost control and were unable to change back. They were compelled to slaughter all that crossed their path. The dead men in the cart are rangers and woodsmen, and were killed only in the last week. “Some days ago we came back to our senses.” Bork asks about hauling the cart, and Jasna points to the large male, introduces him as Vaselka, her son who can turn into a bear. She introduces her other son, Radmillo who can take boar shape. Jasna swiftly take elk-form; she boasts “if you think that’s impressive, we can also take dire form.”

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When asked where the rest of the druids are, Jasna reponds, “we are all that is left.” Their numbers have been diminishing due to something dangerous in the forest that has been changing along with the mote and making the dead come back to life. Aven asks if it was an invisible create; Rand mentions of his loss of hand. The druids, now aware that the party has previously encountered the creature, go on to tell that Lord Garland had asked them to tend to this creature. It is called Galdûr, an abomination that Draugarland treated like a wayward child. It uses many voices at once in a rudimentary form of elven, which would explain the chorus of shrieks during the group’s previous encounter with it.

The group takes a moment to assess the most immediate issues. In order to fortify the town, Rand commissions some of the new Belheim tradespeople in construction of some prototypes: chain whirlers with silvered spikes, net ballista, holy water steamstacks, ramparts rollers and moats. The fate of the stone gnome and child are mentioned. When the druids overhear a discussion on methods for reversing flesh to stone spells, they helpfully instruct Aven and Fraas on the construction of a magical stone salve which they set to work on immediately. After further discussion, the druids are invited into the community to act as sentries in the surrounding woods.

On the way back to the ship they discuss the inconsistencies in the time of Vaselka’s mauling of Tahgen, and decide to eventually confront the druid with Durri and Beck’s help. Zinnaeris makes a trip to check on her tower, but the next day passes otherwise uneventfully.

The next day, the group spends time among the ship’s personnel. Gfed shares drinks with Ezatz, the gnomish cleric who has been working in Quinnla’s temple. Rand investigates two of the evil-radiating folks aboard. The first a human with an evil twinge, he finds is infamous as always the first into a fight. The second, a dwarf who, using his high alcohol tolerance, tricks fellow crewmen into gambling away their coin. Rand confronts this dwarf and lets him know that this behavior will not be tolerated by the new leadership. They take some time to get a sense of the ships crew, rations (managed by the ship’s chef) and arms. Rand wiles away the day bonding with a dwarven smith above deck.

That night, the gang chats with Sylviana, the small human musician girl, and Niowen, her blindfolded elven female friend. Rand inquires if Neowyn is an oracle to which she nods. She says she sees brief flashes, once a new moon and that every time it happens, she ages. Her most recent vision was a foreboding message, “Death will come from a realm of iron.” Sylviana whispers to Gfed, “How old do you think she is?” Gfed shrugs. She replies, “she just turned six.”

Gfed invites Sylviana to play together for the crew, long into the night.

The next morning on the ship, Aven is putting the finishing touches on the stone salve. After a surprisingly short discussion on which stone figure to turn, they turn the gnome to flesh. He quickly raises a wand and blasts a hole in the ship wall. “WAT? Where am I?” Bork takes him into a side room to explain. When the two return the gnome makes known his wishes to continue his work on stopping the mote from sinking.

That night in the tavern, Radmillo entertains a group of refugee kids in his animal form, Timothy can be seen ordering around some Belheim folk, and Sentinel patrols the ramparts. On first watch, Sentinel hears an animal shriek coming from the north. He rushes off, spotted by a lofty cloud-shaped Fraas who lags behind. They reach a squawking Griffin atop Zinn’s tower who flits off to the Northwest when Sentinel tries to talk to it. Somewhat confused, Sentinel and Fraas head back to town.

Before the next morning, Fraas dozes off for a short moment. He has a dream where Zinn invites him to a fancy dinner. She cuts off her hand, which Fraas graciously devours. He wakes up in a colder than normal sweat. Suspecting the curse from the black gate is taking hold, he immediately casts a Remove Curse on himself. After detecting himself for magical auras, he notices that the magic on his ring of sustenance has changed, which he posits must have had its hidden curse removed. He’s still unsure about his black gate curse, though.

Fraas goes back to the ship where he runs into Bork on deck. Bork asks to borrow Fraas’ flower sample. Fraas obliges. Bork scurries away and returns shortly to return the dried plant. Since there is some apparent time to kill, Fraas decides to start experimenting with the spyglass. The gang watches on, as the very instant he aligns runes on the scope to one of the patterns on the Heart, the lens enlarges and a rope of fire bursts through the lens almost searing off Fraas’s hand. The fire shoots out into the bay and turns left once it passes the boundary of the mote. Fraas sends uses his arcane eye to peer through but sees only a blinding bright light. Trying all different Heartrune combinations (this time more safely with a mage hand) the results are all similar, but the fire’s path leads off in slightly different directions with each combination. The spyglass has two impossibly strong, artifact level, magical auras of conjuration and evocation. Fraas heads up into town to try again on the Southmost rampart, with the same result: a rope of fire shooting out through the bay.

In town, the Belheim folk are integrating well. Although in Archibald’s tavern, Azariah seems a bit down. Rand connects her in conversation of exotic spices with Archibald and that appears to cheer her up.

The group decides to bring men off ship as volunteers to bolster the militia while the ship is in port. The crewmen look to Zinn (who is now attuning herself to the airship’s key) for permission to disembark.

That night, Shah goes off with Arvelen, Zinn spends her time drinking in the tavern and interviewing first mates, and Rand keeps first watch along the town ramparts (only to be pranked by a cloud-shaped Fraas and a flash-fast Sentinel).

Again late in the night, squawking is heard from the direction of Zinn’s tower. This time, Sentinel rushes to grab Gfed and carries him along to the tower, with Cloud-Fraas lagging behind. When they reach the tower they find the distressed griffin atop the tower. Gfed begins playing a calming tune, the Griffin alights nearby, beginning to calm. Speaking to Gfed it squawks, “Looking. Finding. You help? Son griffin. Baby. Child. Gone. No see. Smell. Burn smell. Step hurt.” It raises a charred paw. Licks it and says, “No eat. Bad taste. In woods. Find help.” The trio lead the griffin back to Griffton determined to rally a search party.

At dawn, with Beck’s help, they round up Jasna and Radmillo, but Vaselka can’t be found. Rand takes the opportunity to confront Jasna about Vaselka’s apparent murder of Tahgen and she believes that he did so in cold blood. “He has a predator streak to him.” She seems really sad. Rand states that Vaselka is to be excommunicated from Griffton for the safety of the villagers. We ask Jasna and Radmillo if they will join us in search of the Griffin baby and Galdûr, but instead, stating their numbers are already too few, they gift their amulets of natural armor +1 and wish the adventurers luck.

TO GALDÛR’S LAIR

It is the second day of the month of peace. The griffon has been leading the group northwest for about three days until they finally find the tracks and acrid smell they are looking for. Moving forward, Zinn and Rand suddenly disappear through unbroken earth. The rest see the ground they fell through as if there was no hole, only from above they can hear spikes entering bodies.

Inside, the bottom is laden with spikes chewed sharp. At the end of their fall two spikes narrowly miss Zinn, but one pierces Rand with mind-poisoning effects. The pit opens up to a chamber with rocky outcroppings within a shallow pool. Atop a nearby pile of bone, a manticore who was happily chewing on a femur, stops and stares directly at Rand. Rand shouts out to those above and readies himself. Sentinel drops and rushes the beast, who drops its bone and accepts a brutal punch. In counterattack, it tries to grapple with Sentinel. Aven secures and lets down a rope. Bork shimmies. Shah shimmies. Fraas featherfalls, gets nicked by a spike, but recovers and sends a Lightning Bolt at the manticore.

From deeper in the cave, another manticore crawls from the shallows and perches on a rock formation. It shoots a spike cloud striking Zinn and Fraas who get pinned to the ground. One spike drives through Sentinel and into the grappling manticore, which heaves a final breath. Rand heals the group and moves the spike trap aside. Fraas turns at the waist and looses a mythic fireball, obliterating the other manticore.

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From even deeper in the cavern, they hear a low croaking and seven familiar shrieks. By now, everyone has made it down into the pit. Fraas casts a communal acid protection spell. In bound several dark elves leaping from rock to rock. Aven shoots one of the elves who falls dead into the water morphing into frog form. The shrieking turns to roaring and the sound moves closer; the invisible creature seen only as splashing steps. Zinn wrests free from the spikes at her feet. Fraas uses a golden glitterdust to reveal a seven-headed hydra, presumably the abomination, Galdûr. The dust also effectively blinds the creature. The beast and dark elves advance. Aven shoots at the hydra. Zinn uses her dragonsbane and shocking grasp to pierce Galdûr’s chest. Rand sudden attacks, drops his shield and sword and strikes with his maul. Fraas delivers another mythic fireball Galdûr sinks lifelessly into the water.

Bork bombs a frogdrow, Sentinel clocks one and Shah stabs another. The last one’s heart seizes from fear and it drops dead. Before they have a moment to relish in the spoils of battle, a row of vertical red eyes slink out of the water. Partly emerging from the shallows, a tentacled Aboleth swims its way into the fight. Aven takes multiple shots, meanwhile, Zinn feels a sweltering enamourment with the creature and receives a compelling command to destroy her friends. She swings at Aven, but whiffs. Her sword leaps from her hand.

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Rand casts daylight, Fraas fireballs, Sentinel charges the beast with a flurry of blows. Bork bombs it with critical skill and then bombs it again. Shah shoots his crossbow at it and it begins to withdraw. It sinks deep and escape with bare threads of life remaining.

Aven climbs up the rope out of Zinn’s range, so instead Zinn swings her great axe at Fraas and narrowly misses thanks to Rand’s intervention. Rand strikes to subdue Zinn, Fraas dissipates into a pitch black cloud and enshrouds Zinnaeris’s head. Gfed hits her with a sleeping spell and without delay Sentinel grabs her behind and binds her tightly with rope.

Aven comes back down into the pit and swims around looking for treasure finding none. The group collects the usual parts from the monsters. Gfed’s water elemental reports back that the underwater area in the back of the cavern leads off into six tunnels.

Fraas, recognizes the Aboleth’s enchantment on Zinn as a Domination spell, and recalls that its effects are measured in days.

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