Privateer

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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Episode 116 Recap
A Northern Trek

Bork’s bomb explodes on contact with Saharin’s throat. Shah sneaks forward, clanks his daggers together and turns invisible. Gfed flings a scorching ray, Zinn makes a fleet charge with a critical spell strike and Fraas unloads a giant fireball. Aven shoots the beast with his pepperbox and sends blade drones to attack. Rand, maul in hand, swiftly crushes the dragoness’ skull.

There is a moment of stunned silence.

The surrounding townsfolk erupt with vigorous cheers. Archibald shouts “drinks on me!” (He promptly puts everything on Lord Garland’s tab).

The adventurers search the dragon’s body finding her scales delicately polished and she only possesses fresh wounds implying a life of ease. She has a mithral ring on her claws with a large green stone and Draugarland sigil. The ring has 3 auras: moderate transmutation, faint aura of abjuration and faint transmutation. The group is unsure of the rituals of ring exchange in dragon life, but finds the ring enhances diplomacy with elves, and allows the wearer to alter self. Sentinel tries on the ring and suddenly is able to take the form of Lord Garland.

Using her sword, Zinn speaks with the dead wyrm. What is your relationship to Draugarland? I am his widow. How did he die? My brothers challenged and slew him. Why did they challenge him? He refused to grant me the heir to which I was entitled.

The group task the town’s skilled workers to begin processing the dragon’s body, collecting acid sacs, skin, skeleton, skull, scales and gut, perhaps for some new bardic instruments. They talk to Arvelen about remaining magistrate, to which she replies “I’ll think about it.”

The group begins to make preparations to head North now that it appears Draugarland’s mandate cannot be enforced. Rand says goodbye to his mother and the group spend their evening partying and taking watch. During the revelry, Archibald sadly grumbles to himself about Lord Garland’s tab. On third watch, Sentinel notices the magistrate whispering to Shah and they leave together.

As dawn arrives, Fraas begins switching to swigs of water. Shah rejoins everyone at the tavern and tells that Arvelen has suggested him as new magistrate in her stead. Shah doesn’t like this idea, so the group gathers the town together to ask for a volunteer. Durri shoves Beck out for the sole nomination. All the town votes Yea for the appointment, with one exception: Beck’s curmudgeonly uncle, who is immediately chastised by Rand.

With Griffton’s leadership settled, the group heads down into the pit, and into the tomb of the protectors. Fraas makes a failed attempt to scry Elin after which they head to the Northern passage. The hewn stone path continues until the bricks dwindle and eventually they are in a dirt tunnel. Chirps of katydids, and pleasant, floral smells bloom in. It is unnaturally lit up ahead and the path opens up between trunks of trees.

Outside it is night sky with an abundance of stars. It seems clearer and brighter than a usual night. They emerge into the forest, making sure to shoot an arrow as marker for a return. Fraas peers through the spyglass, and the glowing portals have adjusted logically as if they are now far North on the mote.

Sentinel begins tracking what are presumably Zidane’s tracks. They move for a while until they hear a horde of beings, moving, walking. Shah and Fraas go invisible. Aven goes up to check while everyone else hides. Bork notices a female elf wearing torn up clothing. A group of about 200 humanoids follow, looking ragged as if they’ve been in the forest for a while. Bork approaches. “There is not much left of Belheim.” Saharin had just arrived and said Lord Garland was dead. Immediately after she left, the White Wyrm and his forces had rushed the town. The Belheim army bought the people time to flee. The White Wyrm only wanted “to kill all in town.” Jackmerius had stayed behind with Belheim’s council. Fraas hurriedly escorts the refugees into the tunnel Southward. The White Wyrm’s forces are not far behind.

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Into the clearing, they see five bright white winter wolves, bounding forward, breathing cold. They are joined by large, barnacled rock men, that upon inspection appear to by earth-attuned hill giants. Bork bombs one of the bigger wolves twice. The giants lumber up. Sentinel rushes forward, sparking the ground, hitting a giant who deftly absorbs most of the hit. Sentinel misses with a second swipe, but his third is a critical blow.

Zinn slays a smaller wolf with a fleet strike and makes her way to hit one of the larger. Fraas sends a fireball to three wolves, now aflame. Shah sends out burning hands and goes invisible. One of the Winter wolves shoots a cold blast at Rand and Bork, while Shah fully evades the icy breath. The wolves continue to sizzle afire.

Bork bombs with fire, Gfed uses scorching ray, finishing off one of the larger wolves. Rand smites a giant who returns attack by swings at the tree Rand was using a cover. The tree bows into Rand, knocking him prone. Another giant moves in, between Sentinel & Rand, and pounds the ground. Sentinel evades, but Rand is trampolined and further hurt. He casts lay hands on himself, barely hanging on.

Sentinel rushes forward, not making any damage with his blows. Aven’s pepperbox fells the other large wolf. Zinn rushes in, swiftly bolstering Rand with her sword’s magic, and strikes with her sword and shocking grasp. Fraas fireballs, rendering the final wolf to ashes and hitting two of the hill giants. Shah invisibly approaches a giant preparing a sneak attack. Bork bombs the giant next to Zinn. Rand again lays hands on himself, tossing his javelin at the nearest giant, which plinks right off. Gfed scorches one, the creatures who are still on fire sizzle on. A giant knocks the ground between Zinn and Rand. They get hit, but keep their feet. The giant in front of sentinel strikes the ground. Sentinel evades, but Rand is knocked to the ground and unconscious. Sentinel lets loose a flurry of blows, Aven shoots the giant looming over Zinn to its death. Zinn cures Rand back to consciousness…again…and charges between the two remaining giants, slaying one and cleaving the other with a solid hit. From near the tunnel entrance, Fraas sends a lightning bolt and electrocutes the final giant, who spasms to death.

Rand gathers injured to heal, while Sentinel rushes to notify the refugees.

The haul of loot is impressive. 2200 gold-pieces worth of gems and coins, a Masterwork heavy steel shield adorned with green dragon crest, +1 halfplate, +1 light mace. The items are all stained with blood. There are oils of magic vestiment and remove curse, potions of eagle’s splendor and good hope, wands of animal aspect, bane, scorching ray, true strike, and lesser confusion, and scrolls of resist energy, ray of enfeeblement, heat metal, feeble mind, prismatic spray, anti magic field, clashing rocks and miracle.

Meanwhile, Zinn queries the lead dire wolf corpse with her sword. What were the plans for belheim? We retook the town from our ancient enemy. What are your plans for the rest of the mote? We take what we want; everything belongs to us. What are your plans for griffton? Who is griffton?

The adventurers use the lyre to clean up their tracks and obfuscate the entry to the tunnel leaving a small opening for Fraas to send through an arcane eye to scout upon their return. The begin conversing with the refugees on the way back to town.

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Episode 115 Recap
Those pesky trolls never knew what hit them...

On their way to the scrying pool, the adventurers chatter about the mysterious dragon from the otherworldly tower. The imperial dragons, grand noble creatures, where once guardians of the portals. Rand supposes the dragon they saw is a captive in the North. They approach the pit and spot in front of a large pile of dirt, Officer Durri and a lone 12 year old holding a spear, presumably all that is left of the town guard.

Down the pit they reach the scrying pool and focuses their search on a “good” version of Tahgen. The pool fades but they see nothing. Rand takes them to where he had left Quinnla, but no tracks remain. They head back to the Griffon lodge, but discouraged and confused they find no new traces of Tahgen. Outside they find the most recent tracks are from armored boots within the week. They all head back into town through the tunnels. At this point, Beck parts ways with the rest, citing a need for new muscle in the town guard. Durri is caught up, and he let’s the young boy, Timothy, know that he is no longer second in command, and Durri appears pleased to have the help.

The rest of the group walk across town. Rand remembers he still had the money from the smashed tithe box and they decide to make reparations at the temple. An acolyte answers the door, but in the back is Quinnla, seemingly normal, and quietly mopping up in back!! They question her fervently about Tahgen’s whereabouts but she remembers nothing. Just nightmares, nothing specific. She only remembers Tahgen running further North. After welcoming her back into the township, Quinnla successfully regenerates Rand’s hand using the scroll from the Northmen. The group decides the next orders of business are questioning the desiccated gnome, meeting Sieffre, and then moving North to search for Tahgen. Sentinel makes good use of his new speed and darts out to procure some horses, while the rest make their way to the suite for the gnome.

When they arrive, Zinnaerris’ sword channels their questions to Zorian’s lifeless body. What is the heart? “A powerful thing that needed fixing.” How was it broken? “It just needed fixing.” How did you learn about the heart? “It was all I could hear.” The group decides to take her to Quinnla for interring in the proper gnomish tradition. Sentinel returns having wrangled several horses that had wandered into town during the last week’s fracas.

They walk down to the bar area and run into Archibald behind the bar. They ask about Sieffre, and inform him about Elin. They also decide to bring him and Durri to Sieffre, figuring it be good to have some familiar faces when breaking the sensitive news of Elin’s possible fate. On the way to the docks, Fraas begins feeling a bit more bolstered than usual, a sign that his ring of sustenance has just finished attuning.

At the docks they approach a ship, a modest sloop-of-war with figure head. The ship has been christened, Elin. Zinn remembers this ship. Aboard there are warm pleasant aromas, lanterns shining from below. Upon entering, it is clearly bigger on the inside, through some mystical force. In the mess hall, Sieffre is seen sitting next to an armored knight whom Zinn vaguely remembers. The crowd is enjoying music coming from a teenage girl playing the lute. They spy a female elf blindfolded with her hand on the musician girl’s shoulder. Another elf of note is wearing a strange holy symbol. When detecting evil on the crowd, nothing triggers any alerts.

Zinn gets Sieffre’s attention, who seems to remember her, but not her name. Although he seems to know everyone else’s names. He leads them down a tangled passage into a private meeting room. The man he’s with is introduced as Sir Gaston Mercier. The room has a large table, and magical window to a beautiful sandy beach. Rand tells him about restoring the Heart and about the other realm. When he is handed the book binding with the inscription to Elin he begins shaking and tearing up. The solemnly takes off his necklaces, looks at the group and enters his private chamber. Archibald tells Gaston about Elin. Fraas picks up the necklace and feels a gusty wind blowing. It is a piece of aerum with a strong levitation effect. The knight infers from Sieffre’s gesture that the group has just been given the keys to the ship. Everyone takes they turn wearing the necklace, although only Fraas seems attuned to the gusty powers of the crystal. It is left with Sir Gaston for safekeeping, who Sentinel notices seems sad about the news of Elin. They ask him about the pirates, and he tells that the pirates were evaded when the ship reached the mote-borne fog banks. The ship was the Summerstar, Blackhail’s ship. Before they leave, Sir Gaston notes, “the crew expect to be paid.” The party agrees and will make arrangements soon.

Upon closer inspection, the ship looks magically crafted, as if it was build around an extra-dimensional portal that houses the ship’s interior and the ship is used to move the portal around. Aboard there is a forge, crossbowmen, and much dwarf craftsmanship. At this time, they take an hour or so to move their belongings to the ship. Upon checkout of their suite, it is apparent that Archibald is mischievously running up the tab for to Lord Garland.

It is now mid afternoon. The gang make their way back to the Griffon’s Lodge and proceed until nightfall in the direction Beck had previously tracked bootprints. They take watches, now with the sustained Fraas taking all watches along with Sentinel. Zinn is snoring loudly. The forest is alive.

Several yards away, a branch snaps. Sentinel calls out “Who goes there?” which is followed by rushing, growling noises. Three large stooped figures with rough green hides and tusks emerge. trolls! The mama troll charges, Zinn quickly immolates. Bork passes out acid and bombs and Aven throws acid on one of the smaller trolls. Sentinel pummels an elemental fist at one, Fraas broil the two smaller beasts, one of which runs away. Gfed confuses the remaining small troll and Zinn runs past it, striking on the way to killing the mother troll. Bork acids the remaining troll and it begins clawing it’s face off while burning to death. The troll running away can be heard screaming “NO MAMA NO!”

They check the stomach contents of the trolls, worried they would find signs of Tahgen, they only find a couple owl skeletons in the mother. The remainder of the night passes uneventfully. In the morning they take a short side trip to find the trolls’ cave. When they reach it, a chain shirt is flung out and in a frantic giant tongue, “s-sscared, t-take t-treasure.” Zinn’s response is quick, “CHARGE!” She sends a touch of combustion. The troll is cowering fear as its fingers are lopped off. Rand attacks, smashing in its skull. Bork sets it on fire. They proceed to loot the cave finding a masterwork chain shirt, some potions, scrolls and wands, a wooden shield and some gold and jewels. Bork finds a magical club and Rand obtains a scroll of spear of purity. There is also a drawing of mama troll and her kids, painted in blood; they are pictured eating villagers together.

They set back upon Tahgen’s trail for another half day when they stumble upon one of his resting spots. They continue on until near nightfall when they find some tracks leading into a set of bushes. There are broken branches and signs of a struggle. Stuck in the roots is a piece of processed wood that is perhaps Tahgen’s peg leg. There are large dire bear tracks leaving the fray. They follow the tracks, which suddenly end without trace. Is this the work of druids? Fraas casts blood biography on the splatters of blood near the bush: “Tahgen, human hero of Griffton, torn to pieces by Dire Bear, 5 days ago.” They follow the bear prints that originally led to the bushes and they too end without trace. There is a vague lingering evil in the direction of the bear tracks.

The group make a hasty trek back to lodge. On the way they catch glimpse of a large dragon-shape flying past the moon. Could Lord Garland have returned, just as Tahgen was slain? At the lodge, they raid the spell books, and take the chess set and bear rug with them back to the ship. Sentinel also brings the statue of the child from Archibald’s storeroom along. They find that Sieffre is no longer aboard, and they all head back to the tavern.

Rand goes to wake Durri, and Archibald joins leaving the new barmaid in charge, and everyone congresses his Archibald’s private storeroom. Rand begins telling Durri and Archibald everything; about Tahgen, Thellan’s scroll and that it looks like Lord Garland has return. With dwindling options, they all decide to find Triwathien, the magistrate’s mother.

When they arrive at her home, Arvellan opens the door. They detect magic in case there are spying devices. Creaking is heard upstairs. There are two feminine voices, elven. Bork drinks a comprehend languages potion and hears the arrogant sneer, “we shall see about that, tomorrow.” The upstairs window opens. Outside Sentinel catches glimpse of moonlight off greenscale.

The party scans the home with detection spells; Arvellan glows a little good, while Triwathien glows neither. Rand’s diplomacy and Bork’s lack of charisma begin working their magic. They are eventually able to persuade Triwathien to discuss her midnight visitor, a beautiful elven woman who suddenly arrived and demanded to see who was in charge. The elf’s name was Saharin, which in draconic roughly translates as, verdant bloom. The group tells her about Tahgen’s fate and Lord Garland’s contract. When they ask about Lord Garland, it’s clear she doesn’t know that she is related. Rand breaks this news as easy as possible, and she admits she had her suspicions. They ask if she knew of any sons that went missing in the North, but she tears up a little, and tells them she had one, a stillborn. But he was buried, and there had been a funeral. The group at first suspects that the stone statue that is Tahgen’s son was from out of wedlock, but soon realize and discuss that the half-elf boy is likely to be that stillborn child Triwathen remembers. And that it was Garland that mislead them about the life of the child.

They all head back to the tavern to make an encampment for the evening. Archibald clears the main bar room and watches are taken. At the break of dawn, they are stirred by loud, approaching wing beats. Fraas takes a quick pull of whiskybae. Out front a Green Wyrm who is clearly smaller and more effeminate than Lord Garland alights, landing with a BOOM! IN a terrifying and beautiful voice, “WHO SPEAKS FOR THIS TOWN!?” Bork and Rand approach, while the rest of the party take up tactical positions in and outside the tavern — the dashing Shah’s entrance being the most dramatic and impressive, of course.

ANY AGREEMENTS YOU HAVE WITH DRAUGARLOND ARE NULL AND VOID. I SHALL REQUIRE YOUR YOUNGEST BORN, UPON THE START OF EVERY MONTH.” Bork responds with the toss of a bomb.

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Episode 114 Extended Scene

[Scene: The next morning after a night’s rest, Rand at his Barduk family home everyone else at various places. Rand finds the others and asks everyone to gather in their private room at the Inn so all can converse together. ]

RAND: I’m still worried about Quinnla and Tahgen, I know where I left them, but I don’t know what’s become of them since the Heart was restored. This is the one urgent thing I’d like to do – go find them.

SENTINEL: That sounds wise but also like something that should be done during the day.

SENTINEL (Looking at other party members who are not Rand): How many arrows of light out of the heart were not focused on our group? I believe I remember two pieces not entering any of our party…

BECK: There were three beams of light that spread off to who and where we don’t know.

AVEN: I am curious about the 3 streams of light as well, whom do they belong? Whether it is friend or foe, we need to know specifically since the changes that have become us are quite life altering. I am also curious about about Rand’s vampire experience and desires based on what he can remember. Also, along those lines should we be concerned with Thelon? I believe that we should consider our next step with same concerns as before the health of the mote was restored. Especially in regards of he who shall not be named. Until such time as we know something from the north he is still anywhere and everywhere. Then there is the white male dragon that was the mate to the female that we slew. Not knowing the relationship of dragons other than from current experience we don’t know if he will be hunting us or could care less.

[When Aven says the changes are quite life altering Sentinel looks at everyone with surprise.]

SENTINEL (to everyone): After the light struck you did you feel more powerful as well? I feel so much quicker on my feet, I wonder how fast I can move now.

[Sentinel dashes 400 feet in mere seconds. It’s like a stereotypical scene of graceful speed, dust and gravel.]

FRAAS (to Rand): Do you remember why you were so opposed to us messing with the heart?

SENTINEL: Really what do you remember from your time undead in general? When we were in the heart’s void the orcish priest said that you were on their side and didn’t actually cast a dominate spell onto you, do you know who and what you were serving at that point?

BECK: I think there was a lot about that little island we were ported to that was special. The stars there were different from here, I was looking at it closely last night. The magic on those totems was really powerful, but the totems themselves were rather primitive. The Orcs there seemed surprised at Aven’s gun, even though Orcs around here are known to use them. Why would this evil Blood God be neighbors with this burning all powerful heart? The water and ground seemed new, like it was freshly made, volcanic. It really seems to me like we went back in time. But if you figure that it was Sieffre’s wife those Orcs had there, we really did go back in time and the time over there is moving really slow. What else did all of you notice? Any one make anything else of it?

BECK (to Rand): If we wanted to check on Quinnla and Tahgen we could use that scying pool down in the tunnels in the Chamber of the Protectors under the town.

RAND: Fraas to answer your question I have to back up a bit. As I spent more and more time as my new self, thinking about why I came back to life,, I guess I mean “un-life,” I became more and more convinced that the power emanating from the Heart was what had brought me back, and being brought back by it, I wanted to protect it. Really, I came to see it as the source of me, and the way I saw myself as I was then – was powerful. I, in no way, was going to risk that changing. When you approached the Heart in spite of my insistence not to, I was furious. I have to tell you something else now first, before I go on. I was thinking last night, that I knew you guys would have a lot of questions. And you might have a little trouble trusting me… You might not, I know, but,, if you did I would understand. It’s my pledge to you All to tell you the whole truth of the experience, even if it’s difficult to say now.

RAND (to Fraas): So, to continue, Fraas I wasn’t planning on ‘telling’ you again. I was going to stop you, even if that meant kill you right then and there. Up to that point I was happy to be a part of the group again, and i KNEW it was right for me to lead you all (Rand looks down remorsefully). And it was perfectly right for me exact justice upon you for not adhering to my authority.

RAND (looking at Sentinel): After we were teleported to the Blood God’s realm – I realize you all might remember it differently but that’s what that place was for me – I still expected your, and planned on, cooperating with the rest of you. I don’t really know how that shaman Orc knew I was ‘with them’ but it was true. After I relished ripping that Orc’s head off and was intoxicated with the thrill of my own power I suddenly knew I had to bring you all to the Blood God. It was as though he called to me, it felt like holy inspiration. I WAS going to bring you all, I knew I would have to force you to go and I was willing to use any means to do it. I was planning on beating all of you within an inch of your lives and subserviently taking you to be used however the Blood God saw fit.. there was not the faintest thought within me as to reason ‘why?’. Well, all of you except Bork (Rand looks apologetically at Bork), with all those bombs you kept hitting me with, I didn’t want to bring you anywhere, I was going to pulverize you. Thankfully, all of you are so quick, powerful and deadly, I didn’t have a chance. In that state I actually underestimated all of you.

RAND (to everyone): After I was defeated and turned to mist, I knew I could find recovery at that tower. I knew I’d eventually come back and we’d battle again. After some time floating towards the tower I spotted a few things. I saw the lone surviving Orc running down the land bridge away from its fight with all of you, I then noticed a band of Orcs traveling far far down the land bridge with what looked like a prisoner being carried to the Blood God. And just before my memory of that mist flight ended I saw something much more epic. At the dark tower I saw what looked like a winged angel and a wingless pearlescent white dragon breathing lightning, both graceful and beautiful swoop in and battling a creature at the top of the tower. It was an enormous, amorphous flying mass of blackness, with tentacle-like limbs battling back the attackers. Their attack while elegant and powerful was not going well, they were being beaten back slowly, then my memory stopped. The next I knew I was with you all in this room last night, you brought me back. I thought death was supposed to be peaceful…

[Rand pauses in thought, then continues]

RAND: When I first ‘woke up’ more or less, in Quinnla’s temple I was completely bewildered. There was no icy cave, no white dragon looming over me, but there was a little halfling with a pulse. I wanted to devour her. I rack my mind now trying to remember if I even hesitated to consider if I should or not, but that’s just me being biased now. I didn’t hesitate at all. It was only after, that I was horrified and devastated at what I had done to our friend Quinnla. But you know the rest of the story from the time when we spoke in my lair,, I mean, (Rand winces) what was and should hopefully be again Thellan’s Cairn.

For the most part I spent my time plotting what to do on behalf of the mote and how much my leadership would improve things, how to destroy the green wyrm, if he should return, and how to grow my influence, and who my allies should be. I obviously considered making the Belheim priests my allies, and almost convinced myself that the Green Wyrm could be a friend… but I guess some small part of the old me remained. I have to tell you my mind worked so much clearer then. It’s like I was on a high, I felt lifted, and well,,, better. I’m finding it difficult now to even keep a train of thought. I can hardly believe this is how I lived my life before, and I didn’t even mind, I didn’t even notice (said with a slight hint of disgust).

Anyway, I left Quinnla in the tunnels, and asked Tahgen to prowl the woods near the Griffon Lodge, but they were to expect me back before dawn. I commanded Quinnla to wait, but I held no sway over Tahgen, for Quinnla sired him. That’s probably why he attacked the priest against my orders. Even before I departed the Lodge, he had fled into the woods, in wolf form. I think he preferred it to being a limbless old man.

There is one more thing, in keeping with the full truth to you all, something happened last night (said with a thoughtful serious scowl). I don’t know what this means but all of us better know about it. I woke from a disturbed sleep after hearing a voice in a dream. My room was still and quiet and dark. As I sat up in bed trying to calm my nerves, a hint of movement by my window alerted my now laboriously dim senses. When I focused in on it, I saw a crow just as it flew away. The voice from my dream was ‘my voice’ but it wasn’t. It was my voice, but very sinister. It’s like it was the voice of the Blackguard I had become speaking to me in my mind. He said “I’ll be back for my hammer.”

AVEN: So is it possible that some schism happened with your consciousness and your “sinister” side created some type of physical manifestation? Maybe something to do with that other plane of time that we stumbled on to? What about Thellan?

RAND: That’s my take on it too, I think the Blood God could have made this possible in some way. Also, I was there as evil when we were dealing with the Heart. I think the evil me is very likely to have been imbued with the mythic power too. Thellan was left in his cairn, as Beck suggested, I think we should scry him too. What do you think of the crow? Fraas, Aven, Gfed, do you think it could have been a messenger or a familiar?

AVEN: An Omen to foreshadow a threat, and one that we shall not take lightly. With this information did we have an idea what direction we were considering to be our next course. I almost feel like we are all in consensus to check on Quinnla and Tahgen.

SHAH: Yes, I want to see if Quinnla and Tahgen are alive and if they bear evidence of having been hit by mystical rays.

FRAAS (aside to Rand): It’d be great to know if you can still pop off orcs heads with his bare hands. Evil you or not, I would really have liked to have seen that.

FRAAS (aloud, but directed to Aven): The idea that the dark-evil Rand is still in existence, and potentially bolstered/ascended, I’m a little more than nervous. We should soak the hammer in garlic.

FRAAS (to everyone): Dark/evil Rand or no, our most immediate concern is Thellan and Quinnla, Taghen & any others they managed to turn before we returned. Even a few unruly vampires can easily grow their numbers exponentially if left unchecked. If we’re lucky, albeit sad, they will have just turned into lifeless corpses like Rand had. If Tahgen is indeed really dead, what of the green wyrm’s deal with Griffton?

I think your idea to scry them in the pool [looking at Beck] is the quickest option, that is if the scrying pool has renewed its facilities since our last attempt. Also, we should try to scry Rand to see if we can detect a schism that way? If we find Quinnla and Taghen’s bodies and Rand’s alter-evil is still around, should we expect alter-evil Quinnla/Taghen as well?

But first we should touch base with Sieffre. He is apparently arrived in port and has come far at our request. We’ll want to assess whether the pirates he faced are a potential problem. Plus, I imagine he’ll most want to make strategies for the rescue of Elin, which for certain merits some discussion.

This leads to issues of the world of the black tower… Were the dragon and angel (presumably Mrs. Rand aka Ghaele of the North) keepers of black tower? Are they potential allies? Is this the dragon from our mote? Without the green wyrm around has this white dragon taken over the deal with the angel? Has the angel been serving the blood god all along (I remember something about this angel bringing children to Belheim through a portal. Was she rescuing them?)? What on earth was the black amorphous cloud they were fighting? Is this Orburos, the same diety of the Erinyes we battled? Who in the hell is the Blood God and what do they want, besides blood, obviously?

I think it’s time we make way to Belheim. If that truly is the portal to the black tower, it may be our only avenue of approach with the heart repaired. On a related note, when should we start experimenting with the spyglass again?

RAND (to Fraas): Well, frankly I feel like a shell of what I was when I was a vampire, now I might be able to rip the head off a mouse, or at least a very strong rat (smiles).

RAND (to group): About those questions regarding the Angel and Dragon, to be clear, they were not the keepers of the the Black Tower, they were attacking it. As for allies, I’ve assumed the same thing, the Angel could be my mother, but with her known behaviors from the circumstances of my siring and the allowances of people to Belheim as slaves, it’s hard to tell what end is motivating her means. Who knows if she could be an ally or not… She certainly hasn’t been much of a mother.

The dragon was definitely not a “White Dragon” – the vile savage kind that loves the cold. While this dragon was of a white kind of color it was unlike any I’ve ever heard tale of, much less have seen. I had a good up close look of a White Dragon, you remember, and this was different. It was beautiful, and I’m certain, was of good spirit. So, in my mind this eliminates the possibility of this exotic pearlescent dragon taking over the Green Wyrm’s and Ghaele’s agreement.

Regarding the Blood God and the black evil cloud, I don’t think either are Orburos. While Orburos was the god of that Erinyes it is also the primary of the two dragonic gods from Belheim. I assume it would function in the form of a Red Dragon, like the temples of Belheim suggest.

So, it’s agreed, lets head to the scying pool and see if it works to see Tahgen, Quinnla and evil Rand, in that order. I agree with you Fraas, unruly vampires on the loose would need to be nipped quickly. After the scrying and before any necessary action related to what we find, lets go make our introduction to Sieffre. The reason I think we should meet Sieffre after the scrying is because the conversation might be sensitive and take some time, while what we find from the scry might necessitate quick action.

Regarding traveling to Belheim, the Green Wyrm’s ominous commitment on Griffton and experimenting with the spyglass, lets deal with with above priorities first.

[The group, alert and battle ready, leave the inn, venturing to the pit in the center of town. They descend and make way to the Chamber of the Protectors and the scrying pool to scry for Tahgen, Quinnla and the vampiric Rand.]

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Episode 114 Recap
More Captives For The Blood God

Fraas walks boldly past Rand, and touches the Heart. Nothing. He looks down at the nearby gnome, and is struck by the sudden quiet of the chamber. As he looks around he notices that he and the deceased gnome are now alone in this room. He tries to remove his hand from the Heart, but the act brings on the grip of death and he barely manages to steady himself barely keeping his hand on the Heart.


For the rest of the gang, when Fraas approached the Heart, he simply vanished. As they look around, they realize they are no longer in the Heart’s chamber, but upon an island of black volcanic sand. Heat emanates from where the stairway was. Lapping water, smell of campfire. Carved stone pillars surround the small island and the Heart now appears crystalline and is melted into the obsidian ground. In the distance they spot other islands, volcanoes and an encroaching lightning storm. Beyond the heart, a sandbar path leads from their island of to a far off black tower. Zinn privately recognizes this, almost expecting its appearance. There are signs of someone recently being dragged along this sandy path.

At this point the group realizes that there are several feral orcs who have been stirred by the party’s sudden appearance on this isle. One of the orcs is a one-eyed priest, a worshipper of the ancient and savage evil orc god, Gruumsh. The orc-priest shouts in a primitive orc dialect “MORE CAPTIVES FOR THE BLOOD GOD!” At this, Zinn casts swift bull strength but misses her shot at the priest. Several orcs try to grab Zinn & Rand. Beck slices twice, dropping one orc. Bork bombs the priest, two others retaliate with a charge and the flat side sides of their axes. In a shocking display, Rand decapitates his attempted grappler. Shah turns invisible in attempt to gain positional advantage on the orc-priest. Sentinel charges. Aven shoots one of the orcs into a pure splatter of bone-flecked jam, intimidating one of the remaining orcs who makes an attempt to flee. Strangely, the religiously garbed orcs look pleased at the weapon’s display.

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Meanwhile, the lone Fraas starts careful attempts to manipulate the stone Heart, with the tenuous fear of again removing his hand. As he toys with the sliver of Heart he starts hearing sonorous ringing and glowing runes fading in and out.


Back on the beachhead, Gfed’s weird words destroys one orc while also hitting the orc-priest hard. Beck slashes one as it runs away toward the tower. Zinn gets hit by an axe, and barely misses the orc who was fleeing in terror. Rand, without warning clocks Zinn. It quickly becomes clear that Rand is under some form of mental control as his glazed eyes are directed to the tower when he whispers, “I will bring them.” He knocks Zinn out cold.

Bork sends a crossbow bolt into another orc as he moves toward Rand. Shah’s invisibility pays off as he sneak attacks the orc-priest, after which Sentinel’s charge deals the deathblow. Lacking other options, Aven fires at an advancing Rand.


Back in the chamber of the Heart, Fraas continues to wiggle the sliver of heart ever so carefully, this time using his windsense to help guide it more precisely. He can see glowing runes, getting closer, blue light turning white.


Gfed runs for cover. Beck gets another axe wound. Bork bombs. Rand’s wounds begin closing. He charges at Bork but misses. Shah sneaks behind Rand.


Fraas ever so cautious makes a bumbling mistake. No progress.


Gfed’s scorching ray misses. Rand hisses at him. Beck severs an orc’s lower and upper halves and shouts, “Sir Rand, why are you attacking us!?” “My new liege commands it.” Sentinel gives Zinn a potion and she rises with her bow at the ready. Bork bombs at Rand who retorts “SO BE IT!”. Bork taunts, “bring it on!” Rand moves at Bork and slashes. Shah uses burning hands. Sentinel punches with fists of fury, but misses. Aven shoots at Rand again.


Frustrated, Fraas stumbles a bit more.


Gfed emits a scorching ray and Rand dissipates into a misty, vaguely Rand-shaped vapour cloud, moving upward…

Gfed sends his eagle to chase after the only remaining orc who had fled. Moments later, the raptor returns with bits of orc throat tangled in its jaw.

Beck picks up Rand’s fallen hammer, while Sentinel kneels in prayer for Rand.

Bork & Zinn inspect the throbbing crystalline heart. Shah detects good around the island, and passes out when his probe is directed at the heart.


Fraas is able to stabilize the piece. Closer… Careful…


Gfed inspects the surrounding pillars finding them to be magical and connected to a planar conjuration. Aven surmises that the pillars are not the central part of the conjuration and suspects instead, the heart. There are rough, grotesque faces on the pillars. Zinn recognizes the totems as vague history lessons from her youth. Beck touches a totem to no effect.


Fraas stumbles and the piece is back where it started. Ooops.


Looting the orc bodies, they don’t find much, but Zinn does get an axe upgrade. Beck tracks the dragged markings. Gfed picks up a ripped book-binding from the start of the tracks where it appears a previous scuffle occurred. The back side says, “With love, from Sieffre.” Was it Elin?

Shah awakes mildly aroused, “the heart is super good.” Bork touches the heart, but get burnt. Zinn tends to his wounds. Bork tries to push the heart with an orc’s axe, but the weapon just melts.

Above them are uncountable stars. The sky looks unfamiliar. There is a natural breeze, balmy, sulfuric.


Still no progress for Fraas.


About 30 minutes have passed. The Rand-shaped mist floats away further toward the tower. The group, using Zinn’s sword, speaks with the dead priest. The answers to their questions of who his master was, who enchanted Rand and who was dragged away are not especially helpful. “Blood God”, “Blood God”, “Magic Lady”.

From afar they spy a sudden burst of activity at the tower. A Draconic shape alights. There is was seems to be a smaller winged humanoid. A Draconic roar calls out. Sentinel recalls a similar sounding roar several days ago echoing outside the Griffton tavern. Battle-weary, they begin to make camp.

Suddenly and without warning Fraas appears with his hand on the glowing Heart, as the group has suddenly returned to its chamber. Rays of light beam out of the Heart, sending light missiles that hit everyone in the chest. One is even sent into Rand’s lifeless body that has appeared on the nearby ground. Rand appears to be merely dead and not undead. Three more beams shoot upwards, through the roof of the chamber, out of sight. Unsure of what just transpired the group feels only a strange sense that something mythic has just occurred.

The Heart is now glowing bright, with seven sets of runes on individual slivers of stone. Fraas dutifully transcribes them into his notebook while Bork provides him with a lesser restoration potion.

Fraas and the rest of the party quickly retell their stories for each other as they collect Rand and the gnomish female’s body, and begin to make their way back to town. The tunnel is still filled with tendrils of dark energy.


When they get back to the were-rat chamber, bodies appear to be more naturally decomposing. At the Crossroads, tracks are found that lead to the halls of fire, but there are no tracks out, as that path and one other are now closed off with stone. They check the Oracle’s throne room, but find no change. When they get back to town it is noticeably warmer. Further, the corpses in town are also found to be naturally decomposing. Several townsfolk are busy hauling away the bodies.

Back at their room in the tavern, the bards set to work on raising Rand from the dead. The first attempt yields nothing. Though, on the second attempt, Rand awakes. He recalls everything his vampire self did. The last thing he remembers was a whitish dragon, ancient, and a winged woman alongside. They were fighting an amorphous darkness atop a dark tower.

A round of hugs follows. Fraas, suspiciously approaches Rand with his throat exposed as if to test if Rand still has his bloodthirst. Gfed smacks and scolds Rand, who retorts with another hug. Fraas suggests that afterward they call a town meeting. Inspecting the gnome corpse closely, Aven suspects that this is Zorian, the mad gnome. Before any further inquiry, the group agrees that Rand should go see his mother.

Rand dons a hooded cloak and they all head into town through the tavern. In passing, they determine from a bar patron that 5 days have past since they left for the tunnels, and it’s been 3 days since the dead turned normal. It’s beautiful outside even with the crickets, bugs, reeking smells and people hauling bodies off to charnel pits.

At the Bardukes’, Rands mother grasps him in a tearful embrace. She steadies, a little embarrassed at her emotional state, stiffens her composure, fixes her beard. She tells of bad news, that Rand’s father disappeared 4 days ago and is suspected dead. He was just too worn down by what transpired. Rand decides to stay the night at home, while the rest of the group head back to the tavern.

On the way back, they are told that Sieffre’s ship was delayed due to pirates, but it is now in port.

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Episode 113 Recap
The Path to the Heart

Back in the suite, Mirr declares that he must return to his clan as his mission of outreach and search for allies was well accomplished. He must now return to protect his own kind. “Think twice before shooting Drow, well… maybe not.” He says that kind, the “good” Drow, will not attempt to capture and kill the adventurers as a horde of Drow normally would, and use of Mirr’s name will further indicate alliance. After his abrupt departure, discussion commences of what to do and where to go next. There is talk of the cursed gate, evacuation and Sieffre’s pending arrival.

They take watches. On first watch, there is a knock at the door. Aven answers it to find Galarion, who proceeds downstairs with the group, apart from a very sleepy Fraas, to discuss various matters. Galarion suggests they all align together for the betterment of the mote. Offers to work together against the simpleton rule of Lord Garland, and he makes promises to help deal with him, if he manages to return. At this point, Bork makes a stolid but defiant exit. The group inquires as to the emissary’s ability to aid in the evacuation of Griffton, and he thinks he would be able to arrange for refugee status in Belheim. Sentinel makes a clear statement of unbroken allegiance to Draugarland, not wanting in on Galarion’s political scheming. It seems clearer now that Galarion may have devious plans in place that would mean he should not be expecting Lord Garland’s return. The emissary returns upstairs to his own tavern suite.

Still down at the empty bar, a broad-shouldered, scruffy looking fighter type wanders in. Zinn recognizes this weathered face, hirsute with a three-day shadow, as Horacio Beck, one of the townsfolk drafted into the guard after the first Gnoll attack. He offers his blade to the group’s cause, however, a skeptical Zinn, who does not want to have another fairweather or fallen companion challenges him to a duel for his place with the adventurers. Beck’s uncertainty at facing more undead does not work in his favor. Beck further speaks, in an attempt to validate his potential, and a certain undesire to fight the mage-orc, “well,… I do still have both my hands.” Although this is not satisfactory, as he and Zinn make there way outside to commence a first-to-two-hits duel.

Zinn strikes first with the flat side of her longsword, registering a swaggering hit, but Beck forms a duel counter, hitting with his first, but Zinn sidesteps out of the second. Several more thrusts, jabs and swipes are exchanged until finally Beck connects. Zinn yields, begrudgingly. “How does he fare?” Zinn replies, “As long as he stops talking…” Beck is invited up to stay the night in the group’s suite.

Back inside, Bork was waiting for them anxiously and leads everyone (except the still-snoozing Fraas) down to Archibald’s office. He tells them that while spying on Galarion next door, Rand paid the emissary a visit setting up a clandestine meeting at Jack’s tower, two hours from now. Rand had fluttered off leaving Galarion audibly distraught. The group makes quick plans to beat Galarion to the tower in order to spy on the meetup. Fraas is awoken and Shah, using Boko’s dagger, becomes an invisible parting of fog and tails Galarion and his men to determine the best route for the gang to take. He returns, “They are all leaving now. We must hurry.”

Upon arriving at Jack’s tower, Bork espies three large direbats hanging from the eaves. The group stops there and sees three torches moving up the trail to the tower. Beck stumbles, attracting the attention of one of Galarion’s men, but luckily the noise is dismissed as nothing and the Northmen carry on. Even before the emissary and his men begin discussions, Bork can see that something is wrong. Tahgen has flown down and is feeding on one of Galarion’s men. Before the party can rush the scene, Rand swoops down, knocking Tahgen over and shouts, “STOP!” While Gfed and Sentinel sneak up for a closer look, Bork seems to think that Galarion’s strange interactions during this suggest he and his men are ensorcelled by Rand’s powers. Cautious as ever, Bork chugs an expeditious retreat potion. Rand scolds, “Tahgen, you had a dog earlier. You’re fine.” “And don’t worry about them,” referring to the conspicuously hidden adventurers, “they won’t do anything.” And thus, the three vampires haul the three clerics up the tower. Rand can be heard apologizing to Galarion and declares his need for daywalking eyes, to keep tabs on the Knights of Griffton. He fills Galarion in on the group’s backstory and finishes with, “all of us can work together,” in his cold and suspicious tone. A rapt and emotionless Galarion responds, “We will do all you ask without question.” The vampires fly off, and the party returns back to town to finish their watches.

A new day has dawned. First thing, the group catch up a very haggard-looking Durri and Archibald. They find out that boats, potentially Sieffre’s, have been sighted, but unwilling to approach in the fog that has apparently been flowing further off-mote. Beck excitedly announces his new membership in the group to Archibald. “I was in an adventuring group before. Then I lost my eye and my hand. Best of luck to you.”

As the party heads into the storeroom on way to seek the Heart, they notice it is not quite as they left it. There are humanoid tracks, which suggest ambush or someone wanting to follow along. Beck is able to obfuscate the group’s direction to suggest that instead of down the spiral stairwell, they went into the “fire” tunnels. When partway down, sounds from above suggest the subterfuge worked.

The group moves into the chamber where they previously fought a gang of were-rats. Bork hears chewing sounds from behind one of the woodpiles and advances seeing a single ghoul chewing on a stray femur. It sees Bork, looks up and drops its meal and growls. Two other ghouls emerge. Fraas flings magic missiles. Aven assembles a crossbow turret. A fourth ghoul shambles from the back room. Sentinel bludgeon one. A fifth enters. Beck’s defensive attach spatters one. Zinn’s immolating arrows and Gfed’s weird words finish off the last of the ghouls.

From the other side of the room three haunting voices can be heard echoing, “Fraaaasssssssss.” Preemptively, Fraas casts daylight on a coin and tosses it in the direction of the voices. A shadow emerges, apparently larger than one’s the group has seen before. It lunges at Aven and attacks with it’s chilling grasp. Shah, Fraas & Aven make immediate attacks. Sentinel retrieves the daylight coin to bring it closer to the battle, as it seems to distract the shadows and makes them easier to see and thus to hit. Beck slashes at the evil thing. Two more normal-sized shadows emerge. They swarm Fraas and sap his strength. Zinn makes a strong attack at the larger shadow using her longsword and channeling shocking grasp. Bork bombs. Fraas casts a flaming sphere. Gfedcba chants weird words. The shadows drained Beck of nearly all his strength, as he collapses and appears on the brink of becoming shadow himself. Fraas desperately casts fireball to finish off the smaller two and Sentinel’s flurry of blows demolishes the final shadow.

The room is again quiet. Bork gives Beck a restoration potion, and a lesser restore and emergency bull strength is given to Fraas. From the direction the group entered, they hear a single entity moving closer, trying to sneak in the were-rat chamber. The group dashes to hide behind the rubble and wood piles. Sentinel hides the daylight coin by tossing it down one of the other tunnels. At this, perhaps hearing the coin his the ground, the oncoming steps briefly pause, then continue forward.

Aven sees Rand enter the room. Bork walks out from cover, wielding a readied bomb in his hand. Rand requests a peaceful entreaty, saying he heard of the party’s ruckus with the shadows and came to offer to hold onto the spyglass for them, as he seems to be good at dealing with the undead. Instead, the gang asks Rand to join the further into the tunnels. He leads the way.

The passage leads into a very big room, with a large arch marked with an unknown language and wavering a dark aura. Translated, the symbols read, “The Path to the Heart.” On each side of the arch a low pedestals, one with an intact twelve-foot-tall spear-carrying statue, the other with only a pile of rubble. Bones and tattered cloth are scattered on the floor.

Suddenly, there is the sound of stone grinding on stone echoing throughout the room. The intact stone golem moves off its pedestal and charges at the group. Gfed quickly bolsters the group’s courage. Beck attacks swiftly with a vital strike. Bork firebombs, Rand charges forward. Zinn uses her bull strength and charges with a strong sword strike, but barely seems to scratch the monstrosity. Sentinel pummels. Aven sends a blade drone to attack. The golem’s aura begin to slow Shah’s movements like molasses. It hits Zinn hard, twice. Beck vital strikes again, misses. Gfed casts weird words. Rand makes a significant, strong hit. Zinn uses her arcane pool to make another strong strike. Sentil uses his elemental fist and obliterates the golem to rubble.

With the immediate danger settled, Fraas take a moment to scan for magic on the large gate. In consequence, he blacks out and falls to the floor. After regaining consciousness and composure, he says the gate contains and overwhelming aura of unknown origin or magical school. Rand asks about the translation, Bork answers him honestly, and both of them move as if about to enter the gate. Sentinel grabs Bork, but Bork makes a case to let him go forward. Bork dips his head into the gate, feeling a cold, sick pain registering, but it fades into a gentler, lingering malaise. Gfed and Fraas follow Bork through, feeling the same chilling pain and sickness. Inside, necromantic energy and curses abound. The space seems to be connected to the negative energy plane. Wispy fog-like forms fill a long hallway. Rand walks across the threshold following Bork and Fraas down the hall. Beck crosses and follows with Gfed further in. Sentinel, Zinn, Shah and Aven, hesitantly follow at the rear, however Aven doesn’t seem to feel the same malaise as everyone else upon crossing. They walk for hundred of feet, through tendrils emanating blackness that even darkvision cannot penetrate. At the end of the hall is a bright, blue light.

Upon reaching the hall’s terminus, they emerge into an egg shaped room, formed from impossibly, perfectly cut together stonework, as no mundane craftsman could make. Obsidian stone lines the walls, like black scales. Above, gangways stretch across the rooms, with metal steps from planks of iron. No discernable pattern, no apparent exits.

The blue light comes from high above, where a single enormous object is creating it, a roughly spherical boulder surrounded by rings of platform. There are objects, not moving, on a nearby platform. They start to climb for an indeterminable amount of time, as time is confused in the negative energy plane, Beck using his tracking skills to assist the trek. As they get closer, the boulder seems to be roughly in the form of an anatomical heart. Gfed sends his eagle to scout a closer look. “Glow. Rock. Dead person. Kind of like him,” looking at Bork. “No… more like you,” at Gfedcba. “Path this way.”

After more time, they finally reach the top. The light here is very bright. They can see a desiccated form in the shape of a gnome, complete with a pack and various tools. The stone heart appears to be mostly rock, with only one sliver emitting the blue light. This piece looks slightly outset from the rest of the heart.

The group moves closer to it with the hopes of using Zinn’s longsword to chat with the deceased gnome. Whereupon, Rand brusquely declares, “Don’t go any closer. It’s very strong. I’ll retrieve the body and bring it to you.” In a clear act of defiance, Fraas moves closer. Rand’s face shifts and enflames with rage.

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Episode 112 Recap

It is the 16th of the Month of Fire, typically one of the hottest days of the year, although today is unnaturally cold.

A Fog Flows Through Griffton

At the bottom of the hole in the center of town, Mirr unties Sentinel and sees four tunnels leading off. They appear to be analogous in direction to ground level paths that lead in cardinal directions. There are graves dug out in all tunnels. Fog rises out and Aven lights the hole for a better view, while Mirr & Sentinel make their way up. “There was another like you,” remarks Mirr referring to Sentinel. “Wearing wizard robes, it teleported, made rusty sounds, with scraps of metal skin falling off.”

While chatting, Durri and four town Guardsmen carrying stretchers pass by. Bork & Fraas notice one of the supposedly dead guardsmen making a fist. Quickly, Bork runs and tackles one gurney. The corpses have become Wights! Sentinel pummels, Fraas disrupts, Durri hammers, a Wight drops two of the guards. Fraas attempts to Halt undead, while Shah makes a harrowing leap onto the giant statue, flinging arrows Wight-ward. Bork slays one, Aven and Shah each cap another. Mirr casts burning hands, immolating the corpses of the remaining undead guards, killing one and leaving one badly hurt, to whom Durri hammers the final death.

More fog creeps in, however unlike a normal fog bank, this contains a suspicious and inconsistent stream of fog moving into tavern. Bork runs into tavern to warn Archibald, Aven right behind. A strange low lying, amorphous magical fog disc heads toward the storeroom. Sentinel charges at it. No effect. It passes right through Bork, chilly, moving into storeroom. A pair of horse-sized direwolves resolve from the mysterious fog. Mirr slashes at one, nicking it with dragon claws as they leap through the portal, the scratched wound quickly healing. Bork snatches Zinn’s longsword and leaps into the portal. Inside he sees the wolves moving away steadily and fast. Aven, Zinn & Sentinel follow. Eventually, as the beasts’ pace is too much for the trio and only Aven continues on to track the direction of the wolves.

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Fraas sits down to the bar and orders a strong drink. Bork returns from the storeroom, props up on a stool and joins Fraas. Sigmund, Ned and Joffrey (the remaining city guardsmen) take leave to go guard the wall even though Ned has a bad “flu,” and has been spending his time recuperating in Quinnla’s temple. Sentinel returns and makes rounds in town, warning villagers to stay indoors. Durri is visibly overwhelmed. Shah leaves to visit city hall in order to go “comfort” the magistrate.

That night, the group take watches in the town square. During second watch, irregular knocking is heard from the infirmary. Everyone else is woken, except Fraas who necessarily needs to recover his spell casting strength. Bork barrels into the temple and immediately encounters a zombie. Shah shoots an arrow at it and zombie bursts into a noxious cloud of gas. Bork barely manages to hold his breath and his stomach contents. Inside, the temple is a wreck. Smeared in blood on the floor “W O L ~~”. Quinnla’s holy symbol is still there, but the donation jars are smashed. The group looks carefully around, finding a single set of armored footprints and claw marks focused on Rand’s cot. Wearily, they return outside to finish their watches and rest up. It appears that the undead they are facing are not following “the rules.”

The Prodigal Ironborn

The next morning the group makes haste to explore the hole in the center of town. As they begin to descend, they hear rusty creaking, and a figure much like Sentinel emerges and requests private congress with Sentinel. Cautiously, Sentinel crawls down, with an invisible Mirr floating nearby for backup and an extra pair of ears. After a short while, Sentinel and Mirr return to ground level. Sentinel begins recanting the history of the iron-born.

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They were mage-built as slaves with a hard-coded pleasure-response for pleasing their masters. After a great war, they were repurposed as tools of industry in the State of Aine. It was then that Sentinel was rented out as a scout to a ship with some of his brethren. One day aboard that ship, he had a strange feeling that his Maker was gone. Five of the other iron born and Sentinel were caught in shock, the others jumping into the water in apparent suicide. In truth, they had returned home to war, as the master was calling them, Sentinel apparently not getting the message. Now they want Sentinel’s head. The rustworn (and apparently undead) ironborn already had three heads. Mirr interjects, revealing that the speck within Sentinel’s head also has undead properties. “Rust” has claimed he will return for Sentinel’s head. The group is abuzz with discussion of Lichs’ phylacteries and the strange markings of Sentinel’s “factory stamp.”

The group makes their way down into the pit first in the direction toward the tavern. They find a mausoleum containing a wand of enlargement, some coins and gems and luckily no direct connection to the tavern. Next they take the path toward the temple, where they find a human size figure sitting cross-legged on the floor, meditating. An invisible Mirr scouts ahead along the ceiling and reports back, “an elf in monk’s robes.” Sentinel approaches and finds the elf to be his long-lost master, Varian, in a state of beatitude: “Sentinel! You found me!” The elf glows undead, but also very good and is pleased to see us all together.

“The Heart of this place is troubled.” “A whisper of a voice in nature said I would meet Sentinel here. I did.” “The fog is a symptom of the mote itself, like a dog trying to shake off a flea. A sick animal trying to heal itself.” He tells the gang of his dream of a rusty ironborn. Of Druids possessed by madness, like cold, undead rising of their own accord. Inquiringly, Fraas tries to hand him a map of the tunnels, but it passes right through his hand, causing great confusion in the elf’s face. Sentinel tries to touch him and cannot. It is then that he sees a recent corpse in the corner, meditative, its head splattered on the wall. Zinn recovers a note from the corpse’s magical bowl, which is handed to Sentinel. Sentinel is displeased, as the note is seemingly a taunt from Rust, describing the weakness of Varian’s flesh as he slew “it,” and how “its” bones snapped like brittle twigs beneath his boot.

The elven monk disappears into field of sparkling light.

Crossroads

Following down the third unlit passageway the group only finds flakes of rust. However, down the final pathway they come upon a glowing door. Inside, carved into a circular room are benchseats, each with rotten rope-corded cushions and across the room, another shimmering door. Runes are carved into archways above the doors, the one they entered reading “Tomb of the Protectors”, the other “Crossroads.”

There are images carved into the wall, a speared dragon, griffons, and in the center of the room a bright metal basin, filled with glowing warm magical liquid possessing a scrying and healing effect. Scrying within the fluid the group cannot find Jack, but can peer Archibald at the bar. When they attempt to scry Rand, all they see is dense darkness, two figures standing in front, a faintly moving red light and Rand occasionally looking down. A figure who seems to be Tahgen walks up, and the group realizes the other two figures are the other griffon riders. The pool’s warmth begins fading, so the group quickly attempts to scry Quinnla and all they see is her looking up at a pair of armored legs.

Guessing correctly that the Crossroads refers to the same underground crossroads from Archibald’s storeroom, they head off quickly toward the lodge, resolved to find Tahgen. When they reach the lodge, they only find sprays of blood, bits of furs, the chess set toppled, and back door left wide open. Two sets of wolf tracks lead in, three lead out and no griffons can be seen. Outside, they find two disturbed graves, two shovels and many footprints, with tracks leading south. From overhead they suddenly hear a Griffon calling out, with Gfed translating, “BIG! DEAD! HIDE!” Everyone quickly runs inside to hide and from afar they see a giant skulled figure above the tree line, carrying a large morningstar and moving northward. After the coast is clear, Gfed begins inquiries to the Griffon. “Became wolves. Carried away. Many flaps into old grave mountain. We fly. You fly.” The Griffon makes a series of squawks and horde of Griffon approach making gestures that they are willingly providing their backs for flight. One Griffon takes a look at Sentinel, “You heavy,” squawks loudly, and another bigger Griffon alights.

A Change For The Thirst

The party flies on Griffonback for nearly thirty miles. From high up, no front to the blight can be seen as it has apparently encroached the entire mote. All foggy, all dead.

They finally land at the base of a mountain. Seeing fresh wolf tracks, a griffon bends down and sniffs, “dead bad rotten. Not eat.” They reach a set of large stone doors with the inscription, “Here lies the great founder of Scimitar Rock.” What lay before the group is the path to Thellan’s Cairn.

The doors are marred with scraping marks and signs of being recently opened. As they enter, they see a winding, narrow path with a sharp, abyssal drop off. At the end they can barely see two figures standing guard of Thellan’s sarcophagus. Heedful of this, Zinn and Sentinel are cast with enlargement. Immediately, a large direbat swoops in front of the group and transforms into Rand! “Friends, there is no need for this.” A quick scan shows that Rand is now undead and not good and perhaps the obvious would imply that he is now a vampire.

When asked about the lodge, he says that Tahgen is here, and that Quinnla had seen the blood in him and torn open his throat, Rand himself similarly seeing the blood in Quinnla prior. Thellan, a long-decayed skeletal champion with red eyes blazing, can be seen pacing behind his sarcophagus. Rand calls him forward and he moves like an armored berzerker, blade-arms swinging wildly, but skillfully, and he halts at Rand’s prompt command. He then calls both Quinnla and Tahgen, at which point two other large direbats swoop down and take their humanoid forms. Tahgen looks thirsty. Bork attempts to return Quinnla’s holy symbol, but it burns her fiercely and she tosses it into the pit. The group is aghast at what is before them, although Rand does not show any fear or discourtesy as he interlaces their conversation with vague threats against Jackmerius. This is first time Rand has been conscious since the group became aware of his parentage, and they take the opportunity to reveal his sire as Zidane, at which Rand’s interest is piqued. Though, having about as much as they can take, the group carefully takes their leave and returns to the Griffons waiting outside.

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After the shock settles, they make a panicked flight to Jack’s tower. After landing and quickly killing a few milling undead, they hurry into Jack’s and up the rope into his secret chambers. Upon meeting Mirr, Jack is easily distracted, showing him some tricks, firetongue, Drowspeak… The group asks Jack why he could not be scried, to which Jackmerius nonchalantly replied, “Oh, that doesn’t work on me.” Regaining focus, the group catches him up on the wights, Thellan and the vampires, informing him of Rand’s vague threats. Jack immediately and frantically starts packing, enshrouds himself with a wreath of garlic (tossing the group a bulb or two in the process). Hastily shouting, “Zinn, I bequeath my tower to you. Best of luck. See you!” And with a toss of the tower’s keyring, he is gone.

Rattled, the group fly on the griffons back into town. During the flight the griffons are asked if they will help protect the town, “No. We hide.” From above they see that Lord Garland’s emissary is perched on the town wall with two guards. The party lands in town and approaches Galarion, who states that the same thing is happening in Belheim. With him, the group are introduced to Daeron and Elir, who are wearing stone necklaces with green admatite emblems of dragons and claim to handle undead very well. The adventurers make a point not to tell him about their recent vampire encounters. The group is given the promised scrolls for regeneration, raising the dead and restoration, although with Quinnla turned, their trusted clerical resources are few.

Durri comes to find the group and he is filled in on the situation with the vampires, “and Rand now commands Thellan.”

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Episode 111 Recap
From beneath them...

After a busy night of wretch, sick, and blood the group awakens with chat about the mysterious druids, the problematic graveyard filled with potential undead, and the disembodied witch’s head. With no immediate solutions at hand, and potentially needing distraction, it is suggested the group decides to spend the morning hours investigating the caves across the lake.

The group arrives at the docks where apparently work has been stopped. The party splits into two available rowboats in order approach the tunneled out cavern in the rock cliffs across the water. Zinn, Bork, Gfed and Fraas take one boat and make headway over. Shah and Sentinel share the second boat, while the seaborne Aven swims happily alongside.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Shah sees a frightfully beautiful dockworker who is helplessly drowning. He, seemingly without conscious thought, jumps in after her. Aven notices Shah’s risky behavior, and ducks underwater. Ahead he sees a form, translucent, slicked skin, horsey teeth, bubbles dribbling from its maw when it spots Aven espying. Aven attempts to strike the creature, but instead becomes enchanted at the monster’s sudden metamorphosis into a distressed damsel. Another of these Kelpie beasts appears next to an abruptly unenchanted Shah and grapples him.

Bork, now with his group’s boat upon shore, wades into the water for a closer look at the distant commotion near the second boat. Without warning, a serpentine Naga pops into vision on the shore and immediately Zinn feels a sharp pain in her neck, literally.

Inexplicably, Bork projectile vomits up a carpet of swarming spiders. Aven is dragged down by the Kelpies, but narrowly escapes, after being saved by Gfed’s water elemental. The strike of an enlarged Zinn misses the Naga, Bork sickens, Sentinel drops into the water. The Naga bites Zinn again, but this time get hit hard by Zinn’s counter attack; the Naga floats unconscious, frothy blood bubbling out its mouth.

All the other creatures immediately run away in fear. Aven lassoes and recovers a panicked Sentinel to the boat. Aven also retrieves a submerged corpse in possession of a shield of faith, light hammer, masterwork scale-mail, and various gems and coinage. Fraas harvests the Naga’s tooth while Bork tends to Zinn with an antivenom.

* * *

The gang proceeds with their investigation of the caves. Immediately upon entering, Fraas is caught frozen in shock upon finding small crop of strange flowering plant. When he pulls a sample from the rockbed a chilly draft arouses. Bork looks on a bit further, but impatiently urges the group out and back to deal with more pressing matters in town.

On the way back, Bork mentions he actually saw something more deeper into the caves, but decided the group didn’t need another looming mystery or doom at present. Fraas, still locked in a stupefied gaze at the plucked sample of plant, draws from his pocket a similar branch, albeit long dried out, and says, enigmatically “This is all I know of myself.” He trails off, mumbling “what I’ve been looking for…”

Back at the tavern, an inquisitive Fraas experiments with the strange powers his connection with plant provides. He is able to control mild winds, float gently and after short practice is left in the room to practice his barrel rolls.

Meanwhile, the always diplomatic Shah is tasked with broaching with the magistrate the group’s concerns of the township’s recently deceased come undead. Suggestions of cremation in a ceremonial bonfire, sky burial, and exhumation and reburial outside the walls are all met with consternation.

Fraas begins experimenting with the local tavern rats. Feeding one a small scrap of plant without effect. Instead, he wields his own winds to float the rats around.

Bork visits Quinnia to assess the state of those who were struck with boils in the previous night’s scuffle.

Fraas uses his winds to dry out an obliged Sentinel. The plant twig finally begins to wilt.

At the end of the day, it is getting colder.

* * *

Before nightfall, the group decides to attempt a visit to Tahgen, although upon reaching the door in Archibald’s cellar they hear unsettling movement. A peak through the door’s spy-hole reveals a small horde of Skeletons, Zombies and a Horned Leader. CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Bork hurries off to warn Archibald.

Gfed, Shah, Zinn and Fraas decide to make way to Jack’s in order to make use of his teleportation transport. As they leave the main city gates, guards are muttering, shaken and uneasy from the stirring coldness and encroaching blight. In the near fields, a hawk is seen catching something… the mangled, yet thriving corpse of an undead squirrel.

There is smoke coming from Jack’s chimney. He greets them in wearing a thick fur coat complete with bear’s head. After a short chat and another attempt at scrying Rand, they teleport to Tahgen’s lodge. Upon arrival, the group briskly informs Tahgen of recent ongoings, suggests barricading his doors and lets him know that it may be some time before the next visit.

Back at the tavern cellar gateway, Bork hears a scratching on the door, low in height. When Bork backs away, the scratching sound rises. There are sounds of swords scraping on stone.

After teleporting back to town, Jack laments and recommends that from now on everyone stay inside the town’s walls. Everyone is rejoined, and discuss how to proceed.

Gfed’s lyre is used to procure a mass of firewood. It’s getting really cold. Gfed lets his eagle fly.

The Magistrate holds a town meeting to discuss what to do with the town’s recently interred. The Bardukes, among other townsfolk are visibly upset.

Bork assembles a group of stone cutters to make chimneys. Sentinel quietly patrols. Drury posts watch at the gravesite in town.

* * *

The party takes watches. On second watch, Bork and Shah hear a clamor in town. Shah runs out, with Drury and his troops joining hastily. A hole where the statue used to be now looks down into old warrens under the city. Bork peers down and sees over twenty crawling hands and many undead milling about. The rest of the group rapidly assembles and townsfolk are sent away.

Aven shoots a hand to get them to charge. Zinn casts flaming sphere. Festrogs emerge. The Penanggalan floats. Shadows are rising. When the Hands finally reach the top they claw at Gfed. Bork franticly tosses his bombs.

A strange Dark Elf suddenly flies into the fray, casting burning hands at the evil horde and shouting to the group, “Friend, Friend!”

A fireball from Fraas wipes out half of all shadows. Zinn immolates the rest with her flaming bow.

Shambling forms intrude from the dock. The witch’s head entangles and draws blood from the Drow. Aven misses a hand. The Drow, using shocking grasp, picks off the remaining undead.

Fraas sends acid arrows at the impending front from the Dock. Commotion is heard from Tavern. A crossbow bolt twang. Archibald shouting. Bork runs over to see that the evil mob has busted through into the tavern. More Festrogs and Undead.

Aven shoots the horned Skeleton. More acid arrows. Barnacled undead approaching. Bork hurls a molotov. Gfed casts word strike. Fraas shoots magic missiles. These Undead had no chance.

Zinn and Shah rush to the tavern to find the door lock busted. They quickly assemble an ad hoc barricade.

An armored figure running from a fourth front, Drury. “The graveyard has risen.” Drury and his men have taken care of it for the moment.

It is again still and quiet in town.

* * *

The group convenes in the town square with their new Drow ally, Merindeera of the underdark. He claims to offer help and alliance as his clan has battled against the typically evil Drow culture. Bork threatens him and walks away. Merindeera continues on, telling of a recent surge of undead in underdark. An alarmed Bork reapproaches, “They’ve surrounded outside the walls!”

“Wait, where is Sentinel?” “Sentinel must be in trouble!” Without delay, the Drow crawls down the massive hole to the sunken statue were Sentinel was last seen. He comes upon an iron man hogtied with a bag over his head. “Are you friend of surface adventurers?”

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