Arulia

Wait, Why Would We Do That?

Spying the mixture of stone and wood homes a few miles away on the mountainside, Chance stopped the party’s invasion plan at once.

“Wait! Why are we going in there? One of us could get hurt. Let’s go tell the authorities in that town over there.” He pointed to the settlement.

“That’s Humantown,” said Korbinen. “I told them that there was something strange going on. They told me to stop making up stories and get off to some real work defending the homeland.”

“Oh… Well, they’ll believe us – we’ll corroborate your story.”

And so it was that the party passed by the occupied watch tower to travel on to Humantown, the border between the surface world, and the vast underground dwarven duchy of Vurin.

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Illithid With a Spear Oh No

Kismet immediately took shelter from the direct line of sight of the dwarf hidden in the trees. She called to Karl to get down. She snuck up on their observer invisibly and subdued him. He was there to observe the people going in and out of the hut, because he suspected dark forces were at work.

The dwarf struck the party as being very young to be out away from the Dwarven settlements. His name was Korbinen, and he was a ranger, with his trusty wolf companion Lorga. Korbinen told the party that he had seen some communications between the fishing hut and a watch tower just outside of the dwarven city. He noticed strange behavior and some cloaked shadowy beings going in and out of the tower at night.

The party decided to follow Korbinen to the tower, and at sunset along the way they were confronted by a horror from their worst nightmares. A figure in a cloak, carrying a spear, leapt up high into the air and came down in a fighting stance just before the party. They were fixated by the sight of its great milky white eyes, the glistening slimy purple skin, the tentacles surrounding its mouth… Then the party felt a wave of psychic energy erupt from the creature. Half the party stood stunned, unable to move as the creature streaked among them, slashing and attacking, its spear flaring with flame with its strikes.

The remaining party members, those who were not stunned, managed to slay the creature before it could do lasting damage to them, but they were still shaken. Chance knew this creature from his studies of the horrors of adventurers’ logs in the Collegium. It was an illithid, a mind flayer, but using abilities unheard of in the stories he’d read before. What was its connection to the strange goings on of the tower and the fishing hut?

Before they could fully resolve these issues they discovered the tower. They observed its goings on with Korbinen. He explained his observations and the party settled down to develop a strategy to attack it. Kismet flew overhead invisibly to see what was on the roof, and saw its defenders. The party reasoned that surprising the rooftop defenders and going down through the tower was the best strategy, and they began to prepare to attack….

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Last of the Hut

After defeating the last defenders of the hut, the party discovered a room that contained ovoid globes containing a green viscous fluid. One had been shattered in the fight and the fluid covered Priya. She felt the eerie touch of another spirit upon her own. They also discovered a couple of pendants with a green gem, which glowed in the presence of the green fluid, and also in the presence of some of the party members (Kismet, Bella, and Jay).

They determined that this green fluid was quintessence, and had been distilled from the victims of this den of aberrant spies.

Brahn found a suit of armor that fit him so well it was like it was made for him. Bella found another construct in a supply closet and she dispatched it with her magic.

Everyone felt like they had learned valuable lessons in this encounter, and they were confindent they could take their abilities to the next level.

After sweeping the hut for more threats and ensuring the area was clear, they emerged into the sunlight once again. Kismet and Karl felt they were being watched, and saw a dwarf mostly hidden in the nearby trees, watching them intently.

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You've Got Halfing On You

After the fight in the room with the firepit, the party continued to explore the fishing hut, albeit far more cautiously.

They encountered a number of constructs hidden within the hut, as well as other dwarves, halflings, and even a goblin, which had been dominated by some sort of monstrosity, which caused some of them to sprout green tentacles or fire poison darts from their mouths. They fought past these foes and found hidden within the fishing hut the strangest of arcane equipment.

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The Fishing Hut

After traveling upstream for two more days, the party reached an area where the ground leveled out and the river widened into a natural pond. Beside the pond, on a leaf-covered slope of ground, the outline of a stone doorway was seen. A dwarf emerged from the semi-buried hut and introduced himself as Morn Bodroggon. He invited the party in.

Beyond the doorway was a fairly extensive hut, with a firepit, kitchen, storage, work room, and quarters for several dwarves. The party began to become suspicious when Morn reacted, in their opinion, strangely to the news of the constructs. When taken into the supply room, the party noticed that the fishing equipment in this fishing hut hadn’t been used in weeks. They soon realized they were being maneuvered into being surrounded by the residents of the hut, and a fight broke out.

In the fight, one halfling seemed to take a wound, but after the wound healed, the place where the flesh sealed continued to grow, and the halfling’s body expanded, as the halfling fought on, and eventually exploded, blasting nearby party members with ash and gore. Chance determined to study Exploding Halfling Syndrome in the future.

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Up the River

Returning to the river to find the remaining construct, the party found that it had disappeared overnight.

Lady Tuala mentioned having to reimburse the famer’s council in town, because someone collected on their reward posting for finding out what was stealing livestock. Some Tiefling woman had apparently dropped off a broken construct at their meeting and claimed to have solved the mystery of the disappearing cattle, collected the reward, and left. A little while later, someone from town ran up to the manor house and said the farmers were getting unruly. Tuala and party went into town, and the townsfolk were yelling about having given away money to a lousy tiefling. And about how their problems never really started until they started hanging around town. And that guy with a demon on his shoulder (Chance) showed up a day or two before all the trouble started. And then Kismet jumped up on the table and started calling for order, and started to say she was going to introduce Priya as a defender of the people. But the farmers were pretty surly, and yelled things like “Hey, Kismet, why don’t you defend me up a drink?!” She chose the better part of valor and withdrew to the manor house, where everyone decided they should kind of leave town.

Tuala agreed with Chance and Braun’s idea that they might perhaps do better to get out of town on an official mission, and she blessed their idea of an envoy to the dwarven Duchy of Vurin. The party set out that night. They decided to follow the river upstream to the mountains where it went into Vurin, and from there, they would go to the Duke and appeal for help to fight the invasion.

Following the river, they were attacked by owlbears that had been infected by the cruciform parasites. The alien-looking beasts nearly killed Jay before he was able to react, but Priya saved him, and Jay in turn healed Priya as she was attacked. The creatures seemed very hard to hit and also proved resistant to spells, but the party eventually prevailed.

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Does Anyone Remember Kechner?

After teleporting back to Kechner from the temple of Anrahd with the exorcist, the party conferred with Maldred and Elverion. They quickly set to work experimenting on the charmed giant. After a ritual lasting several minutes, the exorcism caused the embedded tentacle beast to writhe free of the giant’s form, to be attacked and killed by the party fairly quickly. This left the giant cured, but still charmed. HE was left to the ministrations of Maldred, and the party returned to town to see the progress on repairs.

Karl went into town alone, and realized he was being trailed by a shadowy figure in a cloak. Lurking around every corner and waiting for the figure to catch up, he came face to face with a female tiefling, who greeted him with a sneer, and said she was surprised to see him trying to fit in with these imperfect beasts of townsfolk. She recommended he take his rightful place as a predator on these pathetic humans, and Karl denied her any foothold of her argument. He dismissed her and said he wanted nothing to do with that.

Tuala and Elverion returned to town and dispatched several servants to dispose of the items they had taken from the overwhelmed hill giant village. They reported that the entire village had been destroyed by the creatures that came from the meteors.

Maldred’s search of the cave has turned up the remains of a nesting site, but no active creatures. He has determined that they have left the site and wandered off in various directions, but tending to head to the north. The local wildlife is reduced to the smallest creatures. All the predators, such as wolves, bears, owlbears, have disappeared.

A call went out for help to find a missing local man. Strange lights had been seen in the river and a fisherman disappeared last night. Staking out the river, the party was able to surprise the two metallic constructs that emerged from the water and attacked the town. They took one of the destroyed carcasses to Maldred for research.

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A Lovely Dinner With the Pelmers

The party finished off the dungeon by fighting the spider-thingy (see aforementioned log entry), and rescued a rich young man, Cobin Pelmer, from the spider’s webbing in the next room over. Karl and Kismet fought over a magical vest. Kismet ended up with it.

After being returned to his home, young Cobin Pelmer had his parents send an invitation to the inn the party was staying at, which was the only inn on the road where they shoe horses. The Horseshoe Road Inn. They went to dinner at the Pelmer estate, even though they knew they’d have to get back to Kechner really fast, and it was a 3 day ride back. The Pelmers gave Jay Wyvern a gift: An old style of musical book, which had been in the family for years, with some strange instructions for singing in a forgotten style that adds a layer of resonance to it. None of the Pelmers were ever adept enough to learn it, they hoped he could make use of it.

Before dinner, the Pelmers, very active patrons of the arts, had some entertainment brought in, and then had their daughter play for the guests, and then asked Jay to sing for them. During his song, Lady Pelmer made flirtacious faces at Jay, and young Miss Pelmer adjusted her bodice to temptacious advantage. At dinner, Miss Pelmer touched Jay’s foot with his own and signalled for him to sneak off with her out of the room. He declined. Later, Cobin rubbed Jay’s shoulders, suggesting they go relax together in his chambers. Jay opted to stay with the group. After dinner, Lady Pelmer begged the adventurers to stay the night, telling them “We’d love to…” sending a significant look at Jay, “HAVE you.” Everyone got a good night’s sleep, except for Jay, who was awakened four times during the night, once by each member of the family, and then woken early by the party, exhausted and disheveled.

Shortly after leaving the Pelmer’s estate, the party returned to the Horseshoe Road Inn and gathered up their gear, and a wizard came by from the Collegium Chapterhouse to teleport them and the exorcist back to Kechner.

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Never Trust the People You Meet in the Sewer

Having defeated the grell, the party explored down the hallway that Karl had seen the grell come from the first time he’d been in the tunnel. After a couple of winding turns, the party heard approaching footsteps. As some of the characters had difficulty in keeping quiet, the footsteps approached faster as two humanoids came to investigate the noise. Karl flattened himself against the wall as a human and a halfling turned the corner at a run. Seeing the party, they attacked. Karl managed to get the drop on one the human, killing him in one strike, and the other was killed by the rest of the party.

From there, the group explored the passageway, which opened into a juncture of three doors. They found a secret door at the back of an alcove, and proceeded through it to a room where six people in robes were weaving some form of mystical energies toward an unconscious human-shaped figure in the center, whose arm ended at the elbow and from there, merged into a large lobster-claw. The paladins’ holy senses detected strong evil in the room. The party moved to attack, and a fight ensued. As each of the casters turned their attention to the party, the mystical energies weakened a little, and the tendril of black arcane energy that that caster had been controlling withered and died. The rboed figures turned out to be a mixture of arcane and divine casters, and in the fight, several exhibited a strange ability. A green slimy tentacle oozed out of the skin of their forehead and extended to attack independently of its possessor’s normal means of attack. At one point the green slime blasted out from the forehead of one of the casters and coated the party in corrosive slime, which had numbing effects, and sapped their resolve and strength of will.

As the casters seemed to be losing the fight, one of them, a dwarf who had been in the rear of the troops, picked up the unconscious figure and ran out of the room at the end farthest from the party. As soon as the last caster in the room was down, the party pursued.

At this point, the reader should recall that Chance had gone off to visit the Collegium chapterhouse in the city. While visiting with other academics, Chance shared a few of his observations from his adventures in recent weeks. One of the other scholars there, Quascon, approached him later and told him that his discoveries were interesting, but if he wanted to see something REALLY interesting, he should come with him across town. His interest piqued, Chance followed to be led through the private residence of one of the Collegium fellowes, down into the basement, and a subbasement… To a room where others were studying books and casting magics using a form of magic that Chance had reason to suspect was dangrous. Chance’s associate then said that Chance should learn from the tomes, which were brought by Gwardesh. Recognizing the name of the mentor of the goblin shaman, Chance suggested that such magics were perhaps not meant to be learned by mortal minds. At that point, a dwarf burst into the room carrying an unconscious malformed human man, shouting, “We are discovered! There’s been an attack!” Following the dwarven mage into the room, Bella stood in the doorway and saw Chance at the other end of the room. They stared at one another in surprise until Chance strode forward and said “There you are! I think we should just apologize and leave this place.”

However, once shown, one cannot be unshown. Quascon told Chance, “I’m sorry I misjudged you, Chance, but after showing you our work, I can’t let you leave.” Once again, a fight ensued, with the remaining scholars in the room coming to the defense of the man who brought Chance there. Bella rushed into the room and, using the gift of her draconic birthright, breathed a cone of frost into the assembled host, killing most of them outright. The remaining few exhibited the strange slime tendril as well, and managed to put up a fight, with the help of their master, until finally, all were defeated. The Master hysterically warned Chance that Gwardesh sees all, that he knows everything they do, and that there are things beyond his control that Gwardesh will set into motion.

At that point, Koldok started to shudder and groan, visibly troubled, his expresion one of fierce concentration. he shouted “NO!” before slashing at Priya with his sword, cutting her. Priya attempted to subdue him, but he continued to use lethal force against her. Chance and Karl then surrounded Koldok and battered at him to bring him to unconsciousness. To no avail. Not only did his wounds seem to close, his flesh also rippled and swelled as if he were growing in an irregular distribution. Quascon said “I told you! It’s too late to stop him!” Bella finally silenced Quascon forever, using magical bolts of arcane energy.

Koldok flew into a rage, slashing and hitting at all the party members, until at last they used lethal force, lest they be taken down by one of their own. Eventually, they brought him down, but his body was now deformed, and his wounds continued to close while he was unconscious, until Priya drove her sword through his chest, killing him.

The party decided they better get out of there and tell someone what happened, but Chance recalled seeing another strange creature wandering around while he was on his way in — a white spider with a pale humanoid torso. After looting the bodies, retrieving a magical rapier and a pair of armored bracers, they deicded to plan their escape.

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Sewer Run

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Karl and Kismet had trouble finding an inn that wasn’t full. Eventually, they did, and then Kismet went out to look for her sister again. Karl returned to tell everyone where they were staying. Kismet returned before the others got there, and Karma was in Kismet’s room with her feet up on the table.

“We need to talk,” she said. “I just had a funny conversation.” She told Kismet to get out of town because things were about to get hot for someone who looked like her. As a favor to her sister, she said she’d wait a day before finishing the job, and that if it all went well, she might even cut Kismet in. Then she left, and the party found the inn soon after, with the exorcist in tow.

Priya did not go to the inn. Instead, she joined her order of Paladins: The Hand of Sleadren. They had, like Priya, been told of prophecies from the oracular priests of Sleadren, who viewed the oncoming doom of the world as inevitable. The paladins were more inclined to do something about it. One of their number, Koldok, mentioned to Priya that he had observed priests of Lerean (goddess of magic) leaving the temple and congregating late at night in a different part of town, but he had been unable to follow them without losing them in the winding streets. The Thieves’ Guild got involved, and managed to track robed figures to a hidden alleyway in a nice part of town.

Karl and Kismet scouted out the alleyway. Finding a trapdoor on the ground, they descended about 20 feet to a hidden passageway under the houses of the neighborhood. Karl snuck down the corridor and found a side passage, from which the faint sound of voices and the barest flicker of light could be seen. Following a short hallway, he happened to spy tentacles dangling from something high up in the air floating down the hallway…. And he ran back, and up and out of the pit, to return to the inn and bring the rest of the party.

All together, with Koldok to help them, they descended into darkness…. and were immediately attacked by a large creature — a floating giant brain with tentacles dangling down from it, and a large beak on its forward facing side. A grell! Its tentacles paralyzed Karl, Kismet, and Jay before Koldok and Priya brought it down in a bloody mess.

Staring deep into the darkness ahead, the party realized this would call for caution….

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