When we last left off, our heroes were attacked from cover of darkness in a cavern deep under the cliffs outside Serenza. Their attackers, the chitines that call this cavern home, close in, intending to slash the party to ribbons using their superior numbers of attacks. Ouss attempted to strike and retreat to the heights of the room, but the chitines climbed up the walls after him, and nearly brought him down. Dahlia was on point with her healing, as Chief and Ouss absorbed most of the chitines’ attacks. Rose charged into the melee with the chitines, laying into them with her fierce swordplay, her shield deftly turning aside their feeble dagger strikes. Dahlia inspired her companions with witty melodies to keep them energetic and confident, as Lily turned into a wolf, bringing a couple chitines down with her trip attack for Chief to chop to bits with his axe. Violante ducked and parried with her rapier, surgically finding the weak spots in the exoskeletons of her enemies, taking two down by herself. As the party fought, Munya Ostergaard scraped at the walls with her mining pick, clearing the webbing away trying to find the vein of Ultrinium she was after.
After a pitched battle in which our heroes at least momentarily doubted their chances, the chitines were all defeated, dead on the cavern floor. Munya had the leisure to clear away the walls as she needed, but the tide was coming back in, and the cave would be far underwater in half an hour. Lily searched the room using her wolf senses, but it was Dahlia, scanning the room with detect magic, who found the concealed doorway into another chamber of the cave. Lily stood in front of the door and howled to get the attention of her party (as well as anything beyond the door). Just inside the door, they could see the walls were covered with seaweed, and the smell of salt water was strong. As they entered the room, a pile of seaweed stood up and resolved into the shape of a withered, misshapen woman. Violante attempted to pretend to be a realtor showing the cave to prospective buyers, but the woman didn’t seem to care. The hag cackled and welcomed them with “You have gotten past my pets, and now you will stay here forever!” Munya, standing in the doorway, took a step back and asked “You guys got this?” The party charged in, except for Dahlia, who cast Dissonant Whispers, which the hag resisted with her LEGENDARY RESISTANCE!
Rose and Lily charged in. The seaweed on the walls reached out to grab at Lily, who in wolf form, easily evaded its grasp. Ouss flew in close, slashing at the hag and backing away, only to have the wall erupt in a jet of salt-water, nearly knocking him down. He kept his balance and remained hovering. Chief came running in, but having started too far away, could only throw a javelin to hit the hag. The javelin bit deep, but only seemed to anger the hag, and she pointed at Chief, who immediately turned into a toad. Rose felt the icy gasp of magic attempting to hold her in place but she shrugged off the effect. However, once up close, she suddenly found herself terrified of the hag. Unable to back away, she struck again, this time imbuing her strike with a thundrous Holy Smit. The attack tore deep into teh hag and the concussion slammer the body back against the wall. The hag dropped to the ground, dead.
With the hag dead, Chief turned back into Chief. Searching the room, the party uncovered the body of a well-dressed nobleman, and Lily identified a ring on the body’s finger as belonging to the Donato family. Lily vows to return it to the family and give them closure on their missing family member. The corpse also carried a magic sword and a purse of gold, but the real surprise was after a brief rest in the cavern, when the corpse moaned and started to rise. Rose used her holy senses to determine if there was a trace of life or the touch of undeath, and determined it was a zombie like the ones they’d encountered earlier. Chief hacked it down with his axe, silencing the newly animated dead. Violante refused to take the magic rapier, as it was really kinda gross. Munya too the next 20 minutes to hack at the vein of Ultrinium in the wall of the cavern, and filled a sack with it, asking Chief to carry it out of the cave for her. Together they escaped the cave as the tide was coming in, forcing them to swim underwater the last few feet. They rowed back to the docks and carried the sack to Munya’s forge, and departed for their respective homes, all of which are in the Spirit Garden except for Violante’s. After washing off the new magic rapier, Violante takes it home with her to study.
When Lily enters her room, she finds that Cider, her pet owlbear cub, has shredded her mattress and made a nest of it. Again. However, she decides to put the problem off until tomorrow, and anyway, it’s very late at night, and so they all go to sleep. In her sleep, Lily is visited in a dream by her mother, who tells her to choose her path wisely, and that if she does not accept this destiny, it will fall to her (and Tristan’s) children. She tells her that she can refuse it and go home, just as her father said, but if she answers the call to adventure, she will face danger and death. She can’t be more specific. The future is uncertain. Always changing, the future is.
Dahlia speaks to Lionel, their acquisitions person, about the sale of the sending stones they were given, and about possibly finding a different type of item for a similar purpose. She is told of a crafter in Naementor who could possibly create what she wanted but it would take another week and another hundred gold over and above what the stones can be sold for. Dahlia tells Lionel to make the deal. Ouss heads over to the Woodcrafter’s Guild, passing his shop on the way — only to find it vandalized. Someone hacked at the stand with an axe, and witness describe an angry half-orc that was looking for him. He puts this together with the half-orc they fought in the arena on Festival day, and decides to keep an eye out. He gets some very nice pieces of wood from the guild to make large projects with. I guess you could say he thinks of the rest of the party and gets wood.
Violante wakes refreshed and vigorous, the sun shining outside, and she decides to go down to have breakfast with mummy. Only when she gets to the door, she finds it locked. She shrugs this off and picks the lock. She opens it and finds it quickly slammed shut in her face and relocked. “Oh,” she thinks. “This again.” She picks the lock again and opens the door and uses her new magic rapier to jam into the door frame, figuring, “It’s magic, it won’t break off in the door.” This hypothesis does turn out to eb true, however the sword is battered back out of the doorframe by other swords, and the door is relocked. Violante opens the curtains of her window to find the window barred and several uniformed (private) guards patrolling the street below. She talks through the door, asking the guard out there what her mother is paying him. The guard answers with, “Your mother said you’d ask that, ma’am.” She says she can double whatever it is. The guard yells, “She says you’d say that, too. We’re forbidden from entering into any financial arrangements with you, ma’am.” Violante tries a few more tacks, threatening the wrath of the Capos in the Quays, and a few important people in the city, but to no avail. She then says “Well, I have someone here who needs to leave – my friend Vanna.” Vanna is the alter-ego of Violante, which she assumes when she is in attendance at the Spirit Garden. She then speaks as Vanna and says “Hey, I need to get out.” The guard says “That’s just your voice, ma’am.” Foiled again. She does, however, manage to convince the guards to send another guard to the Spirit Garden to verify that Vanna is in fact missing from there and is in Violante’s house.
As Violante continues to stew in her room, Rose notices the guard approach the Spirit Garden in the morning and get turned away by Crush, the dragonborn bouncer. Crush tells Rose that the stranger was looking or Vanna. The group (sans Lily, who is at the Garden Grove brewing potions, and Ouss, who is carving wood) follows the guard to V’s house. Only Chief knows it as such, but eventually he shares that information. Dahlia uses her Message spell to communicate with V and they talk briefly about her situation. Then a few guardsmen come over and tell Chief, Rose, and Dahlia to move along, or they’d be moved along. In V’s room, some guards come in to look for this alleged “Vanna” persona nd find her, as Violante has used her Disguise Self spell to assume her alter ego. They form a square around “Vanna” and escort her to the hall, as one gguard goes back into the room. “She’s gone!” he cries, and the house goes on lockdown. Most of the guards outside looming over Dahlia, Rose, and Chief leave to go search for Violante, and Dahlia takes the break in their attention to use HER Disguise Self spell to turn into Violante. She runs in front of the house and a guard spots her. “We have eyes on the subject!” Dahlia as Violante runs off down the street, pursued by guards. The guards leave Vanna, as Violante has been seen. Violante as Vanna walks out of her house and joins Chief and Rose. Dahlia shakes her pursuers by turning a corner and dropping her disguise. The team meets back up and exchanges a big HIGH FIVE. We get a freeze-frame of the team jumping in unison.