Arulia

After the Fireball
Session 13 - Another One About Talking

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Alarmed and stunned at the sound of a massive explosion coming from the Fasteway Alley right outside the Spirit Garden, the team springs into action and goes running outside to investigate the sound. They see the face ofa building across the alleyway blown off, dad bodies littering the alleyway, and people running around.. both from the sound and toward it, depending generally on where they were when it happened. Violante takes stock of the casualties and finds about a dozen dead bodies. Lily and Rose run to the aid of the injured, focusing on the critically hurt first, healing and bandaging those in need. Ouss makes a circuit of the sky overhead and sees nothing that would indicate what happened. Dahlia easily determines that the explosion was caused by a fireball, as if the spell had been cast. Chief heads to the bodies in the center of the blast, turns one over and finds that it’s Pasquale, the man they found in the warehouse while they were searching for Enzano. He recovers Pasquale’s belongings, a pouch containing some gems.

Violante questions a couple witnesses. One person saw someone, a hooded figure covered in ash, take something from the body of Pasquale and leave the alley going toward the market. A little boy found a necklace of fireballs in a rain barrel he as hiding behind. Lily questions a bystander, a noble woman who claims she saw a burning skeleton running along the rooftop right before the blast. As the party does a brief bit of investigating, police (civil constabularies, not the Cartellabro) close off the alleyway and investigate the scene for about an hour. One guardsman comes to Lily and asks if she had anything to do with the blast. Rather than just say no, she asks why she would throw a fireball in her own street. So the guard asks her why DID she throw a fireball in her own street? Vexed, she continues to deny having anything to do with it, as Rose and Ouss are questioned by the same constable. Chief and Violante are also questioned, but by a different guard. The conversation goes from the guard asking them questions about the crime, to them inviting him in for a drink, to (cut scene, return back later) the guard lamenting a relationship he never really had a chance in. Lily comes in to speak to Chief and Violante.

A few minutes after the police close off the alley and start investigating, another man is allowed in. He inspects the scene and determines the events of the crime by stepping through it and finding what must have happened. Ouss lightly hovers upwards as the Inspector orders his guards to stop Ouss from leaving. Ouss willingly returns to the ground and pretends not to be able to speak Common, but the Inspector speaks to him in Auran, Ouss’s own language. He introduces himself as Inspector Offydd Ludwig of the Serenzan Civil Constabulary. After answering a few questions, during which the Ludwig indicates that the blast came from high up, and indicates the rooftop it must have come from, Ouss returns to the tavern and to the rest of the team. The inspector soon follows to question the team. He points out that the direction the bodies fell point straight to The Spirit Garden, which indicate the deceased was coming here, and asks how they know him. They reveal to Ludwig that they know Pasquale, and tell him a little bit about the dead man. The party then says “We’ll investigate,” but Ludwig says, “You’re not authorized to do that, and we don’t want you interfering with an active investigation.” So they said “But we can go to the temple and stuff, right?” Ludwig says “I can’t stop you from researching the events from a religious angle.” Lily mentions that she spoke to a noblewoman outside who saw a fiery skeleton on the rooftop, and Violante runs around a pillar and comes out of the other side as a random noblewoman, and then, to Lily’s confusion, elaborates on “her” story about the skeleton. The inspector catches on that Lily has never seen this woman before and is unimpressed with the deception (bad rolls are bad, guys). He tells the party not to leave town while they investigate.

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After the inspector leaves, Ouss flies up to a rooftop and finds scorch marks on the tiles of Bloodbath & Beyond, where the noblewoman (the real one) said she’d seen the skeleton. A connection is made to the skeletons the party found in the basement of the sanitarium, but Chief says “But they wuz dumb.” Lily turns into a wolf and tries to track the path of the ash-covered figure that took the item from Pasquale, and they follow a scent trail to the river, wher the person went in and stopped leaving a trail. They ask a few questions of the local riverfolk, but they can’t find any leads to pursue from there.

When they return to Fastway Alley, Sabato has shown up, unaware of what had happened there. They tell him that Pasquale is dead, and Sabato agrees to tell Pasquale’s family, as well as investigating the attack with his own operatives. In a sidebar, Chief tells Lily about his childhood, which makes her feel very compassionate for his lowly birth and childhood.

Rose goes to the temple of Anrahd to get a priest to cast Speak with Dead. As they have two ordained members of the main church of the city, they are allowed access to the bodies. They talk to the corpse of Pasquale, who says he was coming to the Spirit Garden to see Sabato, and that he was carrying the memory stone. He found the stone in the lair of Safiyyah, the succubus who was working with the cult of fire and the Shadowblade Council. The people chasing him were Shadowblades, but he was also being pursued by the Blackscale Assassins as well as Tore Como’s associates.

Then they get the priest to interrogate one of the dead Shadowblades, and they find out how to get to Safiyyah’s lair. The Shadowblade says that they were about to lose Pasquale and then the fireball went off, killing them, and they don’t indicate that they know who threw it.

The group also visits Tore Como in the Arena cells to see if he knew anything, but he was less than willing to help, considering that the last time the party talked to him, his escape plan was foiled. Ouss gave Violante a set of super intricately carved dice, one of which was weighted. She said she appreciated the gesture, but she wouldn’t use them, because she “doesn’t cheat” (giving everyone a flashback to her entering the Lemonjack tournament as two people, but OK), and then he gave Rose a very detailed wooden armor stand, carved with sigils Ouss could see in her temple.

Vowing to raid the succubus’s lair the next day, the team went to bed.

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Many Meetings
Session 12 in Which Questions Are Answered

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(more thanks to Hana for the write-up)

After the events of last session, which ended in some of the party breaking Violante out from house arrest, the group traveled back to The Spirit Garden to reconvene and get V settled into her new room. Lily and Ouss are still out and about on business: Ouss is working somehwere unknown to the party, and Lily is at the Druid’s shop making potions. It’s a big night for the party, as Lily has been invited back to her house for a dinner with her father, in which he will further explain why he can do magic, as well as why Lily is an Aasimar. Meanwhile, on the same night, Rose has been summoned back to the temple of Anrahd by Father Warmond after the evening services are concluded, in order for her to meet with some people that he thinks might be able to help explain her visions.

When Lily returns, the group discusses whether she’d like them to accompany her to her father’s house, as well as whether Rose wants the group to accompany her to the temple after dinner. Chief declines visiting the temple, as he doesn’t trust priests. The group also learns that Lily is making a list of good ways to die, bad ways to die, and stupid ways to die, based on a dream she had from her mother. The party realizes that Ouss is not there and have no way of contacting him, so Lily volunteers to go find him and promptly rushes out of the tavern before anyone can blink.

She first visits his pop-up shop in the market, finding it recently damaged and hastily mended with no Ouss inside. She is confused, and asks around after Ouss, eventually being pointed in the direction of the Woodcarvers’ Guild. When she enters, she inquires about commissioning a piece from the guild (a wooden and engraved chest for Violante) and eventually says that she wants to see Ouss. An apprentice goes to Ouss’s workshop, letting him know that “a blonde lady who won’t stop talking” is here to see him, and Ouss comes out to the entry hall. Lily meets up with Ouss, who cuts through her constant stream of conversation to find out that the group is all meeting back at the tavern to discuss the evening’s activities. He asks for her help bringing a piece he was working on as a present for Chief back to the tavern. Lily promptly wild-shapes into a beautiful spotted horse with four white socks, and when she is in the main guild hall she makes a show of tossing her mane and stamping her hooves in order to show off. Ouss hitches horse-Lily to a cart and loads a large, covered piece onto the cart and the two of them set off towards The Spirit Garden.

When they arrive, Ouss presents a beautifully carved training dummy to Chief, who is absolutely delighted, and hugs Ouss in gratitude. The party then sets off, with regular Lily (who has shifted out of horse form) to her father’s house. After a very awkward dinner, made a little more manageable by V and Dahlia’s excellent small-talk with Tristan (Lily’s fiancé) and Lily’s father, Lily goes with her father and Tristan to the study to discuss more about her family history. Ouss flies outside the window to eavesdrop, and Rose and Dahlia stay in the hallway near the door just in case Lily needs help. V and Chief, meanwhile, spend the time stealing various trinkets from the parlor.

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Lily and her father have a heated discussion about her mother. Tristan reveals that he has wings, which is a shock. Lily’s father reveals that Tristan and himself are part of a secret society known as the Amber Scroll. The Amber Scroll is following a scroll that has the names of various followers who are revealed over time by one who can read the scroll, and that it leads up to a single person, who is going to be Riven by Air, Bathed in Fire" at some point, and presumably will die horribly fighting some great evil. This was supposed to be Lily and Tristan’s son, but some vagueness in prophecy means that it could be either Lily or her son, and Coumarin was trying to force destiny such that it wouldn’t be Lily. If Lily had been a boy, it was almost certain that the prophecy would have been about her. Or him, if that were the case. Lily storms out of the meeting again after passionately declaring that if she’s going to die, she wants it to be a good death. The group follows her out of the house.

The group then proceeds to the temple for the second meeting of the evening, where Rose and the rest of the party (minus Chief and V, who spend the evening sneaking into other wealthy houses and placing the trinkets they stole) are led to a meeting room at the back of the temple. There, a group of people, including Father Warmond, are sitting around a table. The group is all dressed in various religious vestments and iconography, though no one in the party recognizes more than one or two of the gods represented. At this meeting, much lore is dropped about visions, the words of creation (super powerful ancient words that the Unbeginning used to make stuff), and some theories are discussed about the various evil things that the party have dealt with. The Aundine priestess can’t believe Warmond is making a big deal about this little girl (Rose). When she hears that Rose’s vision included the symbol on a painting in the temple, she said “Eth.” Ouss and Dahlia both catch her saying this weird word under her breath. After this, she says in Sylvan, “The Veil is torn.” The evidence was that the fire cult was praying to the Coveter using a whole new manner of worship for the Coveter, and their prayers were being answered. That’s not supposed to happen. Rose and Lily both understand Sylvan, and respond back to the woman, who is a bit surprsied. Dahlia also finds that she can understand the language being spoken, though she’s unsure why or what language it is. Eventually, the priestess leaves, remarking that if the party wants more answers, they should seek her out.

The party convenes outside the temple post meeting, discussion whether they want to get more information from the priestess. Eventually, they agree to meet with her and Dahlia sends her a message, asking her to come to The Spirit Garden. The group all convene back at their tavern for this conversation, and ask several questions of the priestess. Rose is close to revealing how to pronounce the rune that she saw in her vision, which was revealed to be a Word of Creation in the previous meeting, but Lily spilled wine on Rose to stop her. This is the first known instance of Lily thinking that something should not be said out loud. Violante is temporarily interested in the religion of Aundine, but then thinks better of it when she learns that the goddess is evil.

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Eventually, the priestess leaves, and everyone heads to bed except Dahlia, who tries to sneak out after the priestess. Lily notices her leaving and yells to the rest of the group that Dahlia is following the priestess, blowing her sneakiness. When Dahlia meets up with the priestess, she asks a couple more questions and then returns to the Spirit Garden.

We have some downtime. Due to a conversation Lily and Dahlia had about not sharing everything with everyone, Lily has decided not to share her father’s conversation with the party (“Not what I meant, Lily!” — Dahlia). Dahlia visits a friend at the graveyard at the edge of town and has a cryptic conversation, showing her the tunnel to the Spirit Garden in case of emergency. Ouss carves more secret things. Lily returns the ring she got from the dead nobleman in the hag’s cave, and finds out that the guy and his buddies followed the sword indicating precious metals, but got trapped by the hag and turned into zombies. At the end of a week of downtime, the party hears a large explosion down the street from The Spirit Garden, and we end on a..

CLIFFHANGER!!!!!!!!!

Sketchnotes by Amelia

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Of Hags and House Arrests
Session 11: In Which Ore is Acquired

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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.

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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.

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Split the Party
Session 10: In Which Many Things Are Done Alone

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We resume with a questioning glance into the relationship between Violante and Enzano, her apparent fiancé. As they spend the night together in the barn, Violante makes a move to escalate the relationship, but Enzano feels that the environment is wrong, the timing is wrong, he feels like he smells bad (Lily wild-shaped as an ox and dropped a cow biscuit on his boots earlier), and Violante rolled a 1 on her Charisma (Persuasion) check, so he thinks they should get to know each other better before taking this step. Disappointed, V backs off and goes back to chewing ice cubes, and the two get a restful, if somewhat awkward night’s sleep. Meanwhile, in the house, Rose has a very vivid dream that she believes is a vision. She chooses not to share the details the next day.

Lily, as sunny as ever, decides to do the farmer a favor and uses her Druidcraft to make all the flowers around the farmhouse bloom at once. This follows much teasing about this kind gesture ruining all the seasonals, but it turns out to be OK. The farmer is appreciative and helps collect some fresh produce for the party to bring back to the Spirit Garden, and the group sets out on their return home. On the walk back, Violante and Enzano chat. It’s a pretty long walk, so they spend some time getting to know each other. Enzano had surprised them with his prowess with the rapier, and he explained that he had the finest teachers in Serenza while he was growing up. Because of course he did; he’s the nephew of one of the richest men in the city. As the party gets back to Serenza proper, they notice a great many more people leaving the city than entering it, but that was expected, as visitors are still filtering out as holdovers from the Festival day. Life was returning to normal in their home. Almost right inside the gate, everyone splits up, as it was mid afternoon at that point and people had places to go.

In the briefest of scenes, Enzano walks Violante home and drops her off at her door, as he doesn’t want to go inside and track the stink of his boots into the house. Violante bathes and changes into some fresh clothes and goes to rejoin her friends at the Spirit Garden.

Chief goes back to his flophouse in the Quays, and upon arriving at his room, finds his meager store of personal belongings packed up outside the door. A younger boy in the house tells him that Aunt Raducci wants to see him on the roof. Chief goes to the roof to see Aunt Raducci working in the aviary, helping the new baby pigeons out of their shells. She sees Chief and asks him how long he’d been living there, and tells him that he’s been a very fine member of her household, and she is very proud of him. She also tells him that the house was intended for youngsters who didn’t really have any other chances in the real tough city, to give them a home and a family. As she carries a young fledgling pigeon to the window, Aunt Raducci tells Chief that he was doing very well on his own, and that it is time for him to find his own feet. Releasing the young bird on its first flight, she tells Chief that he would always be remembered as one of the family’s finest sons and that Marco would help him get to his new place. Marco does in fact meet Chief at the door and helps him carry his belongings, and on the way hints that Sabato might be working with the Corals, a rival family, who seem to be making a move on expanding in the Quays. Marco tells Chief that if Sabato ever asks him to hurt someone for him, to let Marco know immediately. Chief agrees as he arrives at the Spirit Garden and claims a room of his own.

Rose feels that her vision from the previous night is important, and so she goes to the temple of Anrahd to ask Father Warmond for guidance. Before finding him, she looks around at the iconography in the temple and notices a symbol from her vision in one of the frescoes – one that represents the Avheret. When Father Warmond meets with her, she tells him that she saw symbols and heard speaking, and she tries to replicate the speech, but isn’t sure she did a good representation of what she heard. She shows him the fresco with the image, and Warmond tells her he isn’t entirely sure what it means, only that it is a symbol associated with Anrahd, and at one time, it might have been a pronounceable word, but that pronunciation is lost. He asks her if she can come back to the temple the following night to meet with some people he thinks can help, and she agrees, leaving in a somewhat bewildered fashion.

Upon her return to Serenza, Dahlia cheerfully refrains from going back to the Spirit Garden, and instead seeks out the guild of performers and artists, the Bardic Collective. Since she’s new in town, she doesn’t really know anyone, but since she won a major competition in the Festival a few nights ago, most of the people in the Collective know who she is. She fails an insight check, and so blissfully finds them all so very welcoming and sincere. She thereafter joins the collective in an official capacity, and paid her first dues and registration fees, and jaunts back to the inn, where she finds a huge stack of job offers waiting for her. The most generous is a one-night engagement in the Verandi, the wealthiest part of town, at the prestigious Evening Star, for a whopping 50 gold sovereigns.

Lily undertakes a very difficult confrontation. Having evaded the meeting a day earlier, she now decides to go to her family’s house in the city to confront her father, and perhaps also Tristan, her fiancé. Ouss goes with her, at her request, to make sure she has an out if things get ugly. She arrives at the Coumarin townhouse and the butler lets her in, leading her directly to her father’s study, where he sits at a desk. The butler begins to announce her just as Coumarin turns around. His face lights up with surprise, and joy, and he emotionally rushes to Lily and embraces her. He begins to tell her that they’ll get her stuff and they can go back to Naementor for her wedding, but she interrupts, and says she doesn’t want to marry Tristan. She says she wants to live her own life, and she wants to have an epic romance. It is at this point that Coumarin notices Ouss standing in the doorway watching over the whole conversation, and a dark look passes over Coumarin’s face He demands to know who this Bird-Person is and if he’s the “epic romance” she’s talking about. Ouss momentarily loses the power of speech in his shock, and Lily interposes herself between them, calming her father down and saying that Ouss is just a friend. Coumarin and Lily then have a very deep and heartfelt talk about her destiny, her call to adventure, and her responsibility to her family, but when Lily reveals that she can speak Celestial, and her father responds in the same language, he admits that he is protecting her from what he perceives as a dangerous course for her life to take, and she would have a fine safe life with Tristan. In desperation, he casts a Hold Person spell on Ouss and tells Lily that they can just go now. He says he doesn’t want to lose her like he lost her mother. He also says that her mother sacrificed herself to save them. Lily isn’t aware of any of this, although she reveals that she talks to her mother in her dreams. Coumarin begs Lily to come back the next night and he’ll have some answers for her.

After all this is done, the group settles down to play some D&D.

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While everyone gets their dinner at the Spirit Garden, who should walk in but Munya Ostergaard, who has a unique opportunity for them. A rare conjunction of the moons and sun result in an impossibly low spring tide, and she has a job to offer them. She knows of a cave on the cliffs outside of town which is only reachable in this low tide, where she can get a very rare ore: Ultrinium — an almost unknown substance which Dahlia knows (and tells the group) is very rare and special in that it can be forged like iron but has the properties of both Mithral and Adamantine. Munya offers Rose a free “treatment” of the metal on the armor she’s preparing for her if she will help Munya gather some ore. Rose ALMOST agrees to this, but Violante steps in to negotiate to make this service pay off Rose’s armor completely, and Munya throws in 50 gold sovereigns for each other person who helps. After all, she just got paid (by Rose, in fact).

In the dead of night, the party accompanies Munya to the docks where she has a dinghy tied up, and they row out to a dark niche in the cliff face where Munya throws out a grapple and anchors the boat. Lily turns into a shark and swims into the cave mouth, leading the way. Rose hops into the water and scans the cave with her holy senses, and detects the presence of undead not far ahead. Dahlia is surprised that they have to get into the water, and instead she hops onto Chief’s shoulders and clings as he wades into the cave. Ouss follows, Munya jumps in to catch up to the party, and Violante brings up the rear. The water varies in depth as they enter a cave tunnel, but averages about five feet in depth. Everyone can keep above the water, but Ouss has to hop once in a while when the water drops a little deeper. They move ahead where the tunnel opens into a flooded chamber, where the party is attacked by bloated zombies. One of the zombies vomits up sand and seashells onto Chief and Munya, doing a little damage, but the party deals with the zombies with minimal danger.

At the other end of the flooded chamber, a passage leads out and up, leading to a dry surface the party can walk on. They come to a smaller chamber, in roughly the center of which is a hole, and Munya asks the party to secure a rope for her. Ouss spreads his wings and drops into the hole, gently gliding down about 40 feet to the floor of a pitch-black cavern. He finds the floor oddly sticky, and so having the room to spread his wings, gently hovers over the floor as the rest of the party drop down and join him. Munya steps away from the rope and remarks on how the ground is odd, and wasn’t like this the last time she was there. The party finds that the floor is covered in sticky strands like webbing, but as Rose suggests spiders, Lily tells them normal spider webs don’t form like this. Ouss finds that the sticky fibers burn away but don’t ignite. As they attempt to solve the mystery, they are attacked by several creatures hidden in the shadows. Peering into depths of the dark chamber reveals seven multi-armed, smallish, hideously spider-like humanoids. As the party takes a defensive stance, we end on a …. CLIFFHANGER!!

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Hit the Road, Jack (Skellington)
Session 9 In Which There Is Corn

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The party awakens in their various dwellings. Chief comes downstairs for breakfast and notices an older gentleman who seems to be talking about him with another person. Eventually, the man makes his way over to Chief and lets him know that there’s suspicion that Chief, Ouss, Rose, and the half-orc from the melee competition might have conspired together to win. Chief denies it, citing how badly he beat Ouss up, and the fact that he knocked Rose out. The older gentleman tells Chief that his boss Vinnie has turned over responsibility of Chief to him, and hat it would behoove Chief to be honest with him. Chief goes to Vinnie’s store to check and be sure that this is true. When Vinnie pretends not to know him, Chief realizes that this is the case and he’s got a new “handler.” He tells Vinnie “Thanks for the axe” and walks out of the store.

Violante, meanwhile, wakes up to her mother yelling at her for competing in a gambling competition. Her mother is rather inconsolable. Violante reassures her that Sabato‘s nephew probably still wants to marry her. She uses her magic to illusory-write a letter for her mother to try and reassure her. She decides to go to Sabato’s nephew’s estate but stops by the tavern to let the group know what’s happening.

Dahlia wakes up hung over, but also wants to discuss the group’s plan for what they want to do moving forward regarding the memory stone. Once the group is together, they have a long discussion regarding the stone and what to do, which really doesn’t resolve in any way, shape, or form. V wants to know what Dahlia’s needs are, and Dahlia lets V know that she has no allies or anything in the city and therefore would be concerned about being on the bad side of a powerful man like Sabato. V concludes that Dahlia is on Sabato’s side if they were choosing sides, which annoys Dahlia. V then offers to help set Dahlia up with a ncie man as a sort of tongue-in-cheek offer, and also reminds Dahlia that she won the bard competition and so at least her name is well-known in the city now. Dahlia isn’t satisfied with the conversation but decides to drop it since the group doesn’t seem to want to make any decisions at this moment. The group also discusses the Sending Stones that have come into their possession, and V decides that they could be magically traced back to her and therefore she doesn’t want to use them. The group also asks Ouss to contact his supplier and see if a sale or trade could be arranged, which will take 3 days. The group decides to go shopping and meet back up at the tavern later.

Dahlia and Rose go shopping for part of Rose’s armor, which Rose buys and leaves in her room until she gets the full set. Lily and V go to the Druid‘s shop to make potions. While there, Anastina tells Lily that she has a farmer friend who has had livestock turning up dead overnight, which has been affecting the shipment of an ingredient needed for potions. Anastina promises Lily the means to make 6 healing potions if she can help the farmer. After potion shopping, Lily and V go by Lily’s family’s city house and notice her father‘s carriage is there, and Lily bolts back to the tavern. V interfaces with Lily’s father and tried to throw him off the hunt by suggesting that a local noble lady has a veiled “cousin” visiting whom the family keeps hidden away. It’s slightly mean, but the oldest girl of the family is well known to be just really the worst. V suggests of the visiting cousin, “Maybe that’s Lily.” She also meets Tristan, Lily’s betrothed.

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After this meeting, V decides to go to Sabato’s nephew’s house to see what’s up before heading back to the tavern. V has a long conversation about duty, station, and family with the butler that could well be the subject of a farce, and finds out that Enzano is at the Wharf Rat, the bar from which he had been kidnapped before their initial meeting. V comes back to the Spirit Garden and lets the group know that she’s going to the Wharf Rat. Lily, meanwhile, has told the rest of the group about the possible job that they can do outside of town, and the group debates doing the job for a bit before meeting V at the Wharf Rat. They find V already in conversation with Enzano as the group comes in, and eventually, they invite him along on their adventure to the farm.

The group travels a half-day’s journey outside the city to find the farmer’s place. As they’re traveling, Ouss hears Dahlia’s voice in his head again, the first time being when they used the Sending Stones at the festival to test them. This time, it nearly startles him out of the sky. Turns out, Dahlia just learned how to cast the cantrip Message. At many points, Chief mentions that this is the farthest he’s been outside of the city, as with every step, it continues to be true. When they arrive at the farm, the farmer, a middle-aged human woman, says there were no footprints near the carcasses of the bulls killed, but that one died in the corn and one in the field. Odd. Perhaps an aerial enemy? The group formulates a plan: When the sun goes down, Lily will turn into an ox and be the bait, and the rest of the group will attack whatever is offing the oxen. While the group prepares, Enzano and V are actually getting along well, which is shocking.

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As the sun goes down, three scarecrows in the corn field come to life. One has a burlap sack for a head, one has a pumpkin, and one has a patchwork face. Everyone has fun showing off their new abilities and the group manages to resist the fear brought on by the creepy cursed scarecrows advancing on them, and as a group they manage to take them down. Enzano surprises everyone with his handiness with a rapier. After the group defeats the scarecrows, they ask the farmer where she got them, and she reveals that a traveling salesman sold them to her, saying they would keep the crows away. She confirms that she only purchased three of the scarecrows, which is good news. V negotiates for fresh produce for the tavern and also some commoner’s porridge so she and Enzano can “be peasants” for the night for fun, which makes the rest of the group cringe just a tiny bit. The farmer handles it pretty well. Violante and Enzano stay in the barn and the rest of the group crashes in the farmer’s living room in front of the fire.

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The High Summer Festival
Session 8 In Which the DM Is Probably Delirious

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(more thanks to Hana for the write-up)

We ended last session with Lily picking up a new… pet? Friend? Unclear. She brings it to the tavern with Dahlia. Lily then tells Dahlia that she wants her help asking Chief to participate in the Giant Chicken competition (which is a competition in the Arena in which 12 contestants stand on raised platforms and try not to fall, jump, get killed, or otherwise leave the platform as a blindfolded hill giant takes swipes at them with a massive club). Dahlia agrees that the competitions sound fun but she is also concerned about the information that the group learned the night before and this morning, and she explains that she wants to get the group’s opinion about telling Sabato some or all of the info they learned. She gathers the group minus Violante who has already left for her Lemonjack competition, in the cellar of the tavern to discuss. The group goes back and forth about what information to share and the pros and cons of sharing information. Ouss points out that there are two possible situations: either Sabato knows that Tore Como is going to escape and also knows that the group visited him, and therefore would be angry at the group for not sharing/suspicious of the group; OR he doesn’t know and if Tore does manage to escape, he will know that the group visited Tore (since they spoke to Osvaldo who would almost certainly report to Sabato that the group visited) and his wrath will be focused on them for not warning him. In any case, the group decides that they can’t make the decision with out Violante, and decide to go find her, emerging from the cellar. It should be noted that Sabato is still at his reserved table doing business, and Ouss asks Lif to keep an eye on him and note when he leaves. Lif writes “VERY BUSY” on his chailkboard, and Ouss reassures him he just wants to know the time, nothing more.

It is around this time that Lily notes that her owlbear cub (chick? chub?) is no longer visible. She searches behind the bar and finds the cub with its beak embedded in the side of a cask of cider. She pulls the cub out and can tell that it has drunk its fair share of cider, and also that the damage the beak has done to the barrel is making the cider spill out. After flipping the barrel over to prevent more spillage, she decides to name the cub Cider. A quick check confirms that the owlbear cub is in fact a girl. Ouss asks if Lily is all right and when she comes from behind the bar with this creature in her arms, the group is all very confuses as to what it is. Nonetheless, it seems like a very Lily thing to have, and therefore the group is generally accepting.

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Owlbear in hand, the group sets off for the Lemonjack hall. Violante, meanwhile, has been following Mr. Felix as Nika the tavern manager. But the Triton proves too slippery and manages to shake her. She proceeds to the Lemonjack hall and plays a few rounds as Violante and a few as Vanna. However, Vanna doesn’t advance far in the competition and therefore Violante is the only remaining competitor of her two selves. While V is playing Lemonjack herself, a mysterious figure taps her on the shoulder and hands her a stone similar to the one she lifted from Felix, telling her she “may need this.” The group comes in during one of the Lemonjack rounds and starts booing V, mainly to let her know they are there, while keeping up the pretense of hating her for her own disguise. They then exist the hall in hopes she’ll follow and make their way to an animal wrangling competition. Here, both Rose (who has experience with handling animals due to growing up on a farm) and Chief (who has no experience with animals but is generally strong and athletic) compete. Both do well in the hogtying competition after an intiial roughs tart from Rose (who reenters after a Mulligan) and they both proceed to the second stage, riding the wild horse.

While waiting in line, Violante comes out of her competition for a brief break and meets the group in line. They explain to her their thoughts using increasingly and probably unnecessarily complex code words which Dahlia frequently forgets to use anyway. Eventually, the group comes to a compromise wherein they will tell Sabato the information they learnred from Como about his planned escape, but will leave out any information about Mr. Felix being the “fixer” and the tile with the yellow flower and the rendezvous point for Tore where the group suspects he will meet with someone who knows the whereabouts of the memory stone. That way, the group can use this information if Tore does manage to escape, and if they happen to find the Memory Stone they can charge a finder’s fee to return it to Sabato. Violante also tosses the group the stone she received and leaves them to figure out the exact magical properties. Dahlia and Ouss test the stones, with Dahlia speaking into the stone that V stole from Felix. Ouss hears a ringtone in his head, followed by Dahlia’s voice saying “Can you hear me?” Ouss responds “Under no circumstances is Lily to get a hold of one of these stones.” The two of them determine that this is a once-per-day thing.

Rose and Chief finish up the animal wrangling competition. They both compete well on the wild horse riding portion of the competition, and then comes the bull riding. Rose performs beautifully, but Chief, unfortunately, is thrown rather suddenly from the bull soon after getting on. The tie breaker is a bull-wrangling competition, and in which Rose emerges victorious. She is given a victory purse of 200 gold sovereins and a gem-studded belt. Chief feels pretty good abotu his performance considering this is the first time he’s really interacted with farm animals.

Armed with their information, Dahlia marches with singular purpose back to the Spirit Garden, trailed by the rest of the group in various states of distraction, due to the many sights and smells of the festival. Nevertheless they make it back, seeing Sabato still at the table where they left him. The group approaches, asks to speak to him, and pour him some fine wine. Dahlia proceeds to explain that they visited Tore and she was able to charm him using her magic to reveal that he was planning on escaping that night during the arena fight, leaving out all the other details. Sabato thanks the group for bringing this to his attention. Satisfied that they have cleared themselves of any potential suspicion, the group FINALLY decides to fully partake in the festivities, but not before Lily speaks with the cat Snowdrop, telling her to keep an eye on Sabato and listen to words that he says.

First, they decide to enter the Giant Chicken competition together (minus Chief who decides not to play, and V, still playing lemonjack) to stack their odds of winning the 500gold sovereign pot. Ouss, Lily, Rose, and Dahlia decide that if they win they’ll split it 5 ways with the winner taking 2 shares. In a harrowing game of luck and nerves of steel, Lily and Dahlia are knocked unconscious along with their 8 opponents, and Ouss and Rose are the last two remaining. Despite Ouss giving Rose the evil eye when she suggests that she jump so he can win, she fakes being hit harder by the club and falls off, leaving Ouss victorious and none the wiser for the deception. Lily and Dahlia are revived by the Arena crew, and they all take a short rest to recover and celebrate.

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Meanwhile, V is crushing it in the Lemonjack competition. During a break, one of her former competitors from past games comes upa nd makes small talk with her, seeming on the verge of calling her out for lying about how much lemonjack she knew before she smooths over the situation with blatant flattery. He returns to tell her he’s bet 50 gold on her to recoup his previous losses, which reads vaguely threatening, but V doesn’t seem bothered. She handily wins the competition, receiving a pot of 250 sovs anda gold lemonjack piece.

As the group is walking to the Battle of the Bards, a bardic performance competition that Dahlia wishes to enter, they come across a dwarven fighter who challenges those around him (and specifically Ouss) to fight. Seeing that the victory pot is substantial, Ouss accepts the challenge. The battle is tense, with the dwarf demonstrating similar monkish skills to Ouss, and Ouss finds himself narrowly bested. The group encourages him afte rhis marginal loss and head to the bar where the Battle of the Bards is being held. Dahlia performs at the competition with Lily as her assistant providing visuals in the form of druidcraft displays. With Lily’s help she wins the competition, pocketing 100 sovs and a Lute that is of masterful quality and craftsmanship. She is rather pleased at this prize.

Rose, Ouss, and Chief decide to enter the 50-fighter melee with the strategy of faking fighting each other to allow others to wear themselves out and drop before fighting the remainder of the competitors. They also decide that the winner will get half the 1000 sov pot, and the two others will get 250 each. Ouss and Chief find each other quickly and do a pretty good job of keeping up the charade. Rose gets caught up fighting a guy in plate armor, but manages to lead him to the other two where they help finish him off. Eventually, after fighting some pretty nasty competitors, Rose goes down and the only two left on the field are Chief and Ouss. They are both close to dropping and Ouss takes a risk by breaking off melee and getting out of Chief’s reach, to try to force his rage to falter. Sadly, Chief is still able to lob a stone at Ouss, so Ouss comes back and is knocked out by Chief, who is close to unconsciousness himself. Meanwhile, Lily, Dahlia and Violante have been watching the competition. V bets all 250 gold on the three competitors, and at 2-1 odds breaks even no matter what. Lily bets 50 on Chief, and Dahlia declines to bet.

After the melee, Lily gives Cider to Rose and V to hold, and she uses her wild shape power to turn into a horse for the horse race, with Dahlia as her rider. Sadly, they don’t do very well, but it WAS Lily’s first time turning into a horse. The group reconvenes to watch the final event: A fight between Tore Como and the hill giant that had been blindfolded earlier for the Giant Chicken game. Tore enters the battlefield angry, and seems to get the fight over as quickly as possible. He rapidly destroys the giant with a series of surprise attacks using the terrain of the arena to maneuver. The group notices Sabato in his private box smiling smugly, and figure that he prevented whatever escape plan Como had.

After the long and profitable day the group had, they all decide to go to a tavern, and Chief, Ouss, and Dahlia participate in a drinking competition. Dahlia gets plastered, and Chief is close to drunk himself, conceding the victory to Ouss and helping to carry Dahlia back to the Spirit Garden. They let her sleep it off and decide to tie up loose ends and pay a visit to the house with the yellow flower tile in the Quay. They find it unlocked, dark, and empty with no furniture or any sign of habitation. They conclude that Tore’s failed escape from the Arena meant that no meeting occurred, and return to the tavern or their respective lodging locations.

Dahlia wakes up extremely hung over and Lily cares for her. Returning to her room, Lily finds her mattress completely ripped up with Cider the owlbear cub nesting happily in the middle. Dahlia had told her the day before that Cider needed a crate or some sort of habitat, so that Lily wouldn’t always be carrying it, but she was resistant to that. However, given the circumstances, she recruits Ouss to help her by building a suitably airy place for Cider to live in her room.

With the festivities (finally) behind them, the group takes a minute to recoup, count their earnings, and see what tomorrow will bring. And we level up to 4!

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Wait, Really? OK, Let Me Get Something For That..
Session 7- DM Sings "I Wish to Go to the Festival"

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The group puts all their efforts into fixing up and staffing the bar. With the High Summer Festival coming at the end of the week, and the town filling up with people of all social strata, Lily feels that she’s spent too long in the same outfit. Realizing she can get into her family’s home in town now for some of her clothes, she turns into a mouse to do just that. Once inside, however, she is detected by the home’s magical defense system, and pursued by an animated suit of armor, until she drops her wild shape disguise and becomes herself. The armor recognizes her and stops attacking, returning to its post by the fireplace. Its activities, however, alerted her father, who used the magical painting in the great hall to talk to Lily as she is trying to leave. They have a brief conversation in which her father tells her to wait there at the house and someone will come to get her, and bring her back to marry Tristan. She refuses and leaves the house, to return to her new home in The Spirit Garden.

While doing market research for the tavern, Dahlia encounters a white Dragonborn at another bar, and she immediately thinks to hire the brute as a bouncer for The Spirit Garden. Rose finds her way back to the forge of Munya Ostergaard. Munya has been working on the suit of plate mail that Rose plans to buy when she has the money. Rose tries it on and Munya looks wistfully at her and says “Oh, you look so much like her.” Rose asks who and Munya says “My daughter. She’s gone now.” Rose asks how she died, and Munya says she died in a shore raid back home. Rose offers condolences, to which Munya laments, “Yes, someone must have warned the village they were coming..” Rose kind of takes that in and somewhat awkwardly keeps modeling the armor until Munya is satisfied with the fit, then she leaves.

Ouss set out to carve a bunch of figurines for the Hugh Summer Festival and Rose gives him the idea to make some wooden tokens offering a free beer at The Spirit Garden. So Ouss designs, carves, and stams about 50 chits offering a free mug of the Golden Lager. Rose spends the later part of the day going around town handing them out to the crowds. During this time, Chief shows up at the bar with a young-looking elvish woman in tow. “This is Nika. She’s gonna help us run things.” Nicolette is an old friend of Chief’s from the Quays and he views her as a big sister. Her talent for managing a business will be put to use in The Spirit Garden. Violante has a reputation to uphold and doesn’t want to be associated with the bar, and so she invents a new persona. Thus enters Vanna, a tall blonde human woman new on the scene who becomes a rival of Violante’s in the local Lemonjack parlors. Rose also recruits a grumpy old gnome, a former bard named Grub, to be a janitor of sorts. Ouss brings in a tiefling named Lionel to help with the books.

After the group spends a few days getting the Spirit Garden ready, Sabato comes in to check on their progress. He arranges with them for him to have a “private” table (really just a table in a dark corner) that he can claim whenever he needs to talk to an associate. In the conversation, Sabato promised that Como would be the main attraction in the Arena on Festival Day. He had a particular “treat” in mind for him.

Finally, now that the bar is set up and running, we are free to spend the night resting and attend the High Summer Festival in the morning.

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Wait! No! Stop! Go back. Still the day before the festival.

Dahlia wants to get information from Tore Como. She figures if he dies soon, she won’t be able to, so she takes Lily, Rose, and Violante to the Arena. The manager, Osvaldo, recognizes them as working for Sabato, and so allow them to speak to Como, warning them that Sabato has all but given up on getting more from him. Dahlia uses strange newfound fey charms to win Como’s trust, and he intimates to her that his fight on Festival night will be a “magic trick they won’t soon forget.” He says he isn’t worried and he’ll be out that night. Como has no memory at all of the heist in which he stole Sabato’s gems, nor of where he hid them, nor even of planning the heist. Unable to get any information that way, but intrigued about his escape, Dahlia further charms him into giving her the name of his fixer, one Flavio Felix, who can be found by talking to the maître d’ at the Seagarden.

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The group goes to the Seagarden after freshening up in nice clothes. Violante uses her name to con the Triton maître d’ into giving them a table, while Dahlia tries to speak. Violante shushes her and smugly walks to their table, where Dahlia politely reminds her that it was the maître d’ they were supposed to talk to.

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They speak briefly with him about meeting with a MIster Felix and after a short time, a Triton woman joins them at their table. This is Mister Felix. Dahlia, in disguise as a human woman, attempts to convince Felix that she (Dahlia) is a girlfriend of Como, and she knows he plans to escape at the festival. While Dahlia is explaining, they hear a distant chime, and Flavio says “Hold on, I have to take this.” She removes a stone from her pocket and listens to it a moment before responding, “Yes, everything is in place. Proceed with caution.” Felix, while somewhat skeptical, warns them of getting too close to this plot, but also offers to meet them at a new bar, the Spirit Garden, where her business associate has a private table, at 10am the next day. They leave the table, but not before Violante, assisted by Lily’s fake-clumsy attempt to spill wine on Flavio’s outfit, picks the sending stone from Flavio’s pocket.

The next day is the High Summer Festival. Lily wakes up to the sight of a beautifully carved wooden bear in her room. Overcome with joy and gratitude, Lily bursts from her room to go thank Ouss, unwittingly revealing her Aasimar nature, as ethereal angelic wings spring from her back and she flies up to Ouss’s loft in the spire. Also revealing how edgy Ouss is, as waking him up from his half-drunken slumber results in a punch in the face. It’s a mild punch, however, and they both get a pause to briefly consider their life choices up to this moment.

The group is amazed, an Dahlia asks if Lily’s mother was a goddess. Violante signs up for the Lemonjack tournament as VIolante and as Vanna. Sabato arrives at the inn and takes his private table and sees a series of guests over the course of the morning. Dahlia warms up the morning crowd with a lively tune, and eventually sees Flavio enter the Spirit Garden and sit at Sabato’s table. Dahlia leaves the bar and returns in her human disguise, at which point Flavio stands up from the table and walks over to her, stealthily hands her a ceramic tile, and returns to Sabato. Dahlia makes as if to approach the table, but Flavio gives a subtle shake of her head, and Dahlia leaves with the tile. Examining the tile, she finds that its face is painted with a yellow flower like a black-eyed Susan. Baffled, she pockets it for later. When she shows the group, Chief recognizes it as a tile that signifies an address in Magella Quay, where each house has a unique tile.

Eager to start the festival, Lily explores the city, trailed by Dahlia, and heads for the tent in the market square that holds an exotic menagerie. Approaching the gaudy tent, she sees a small brown shape moving away from it and toward an alley, and she pursues it. She finds a tiny beast digging in the trash, and it turns to face her, revealing a baby owl face on a baby bear body. As Dahlia observes, she offers it food, repeating the lure until it uses its claws to climb her dress and nest in her arms. It devours all the food she has and falls asleep. Unaware what this creature is, she brings it back to her room in the Spirit Garden, where she realizes it must be a BABY OWLBEAR!!

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The Gang Plays Sims
Session 6 - The One About the Tavern

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(Thanks to Hana for writing it up!)

When last we left off, it had been 24 hours since the rest of the party had seen Dahlia. The party had just met with Sabato and received the deed to an inn/bar between Market Street and Church Street called “ The Secret Tunnel.” It’s early morning when the deed is delivered to them, along with the money from their last job, and Dahlia walks into the tavern where the party is gathered as Sabato is leaving. Lily has gone up to the bartender to ask whether he’s seen their tabaxi friend, and he points over her shoulder as Dahlia enters the tavern at that exact moment. Launching herself at her friend with a cry of “Dahlia!” Lily proceeds to ask a lot of questions and tell Dahlia all about their adventures all at once, which is overwhelming to the poor tabaxi who looks pretty exhausted.

The group reunites at a table, with Lily ordering 3 bottles of fine wine (costing 10 GP each) and the other five party members explain what’s been happening in the last 24 hours to Dahlia. They then ask where she’s been, and she explains that she heard someone singing an interesting song outside her window yesterday morning and followed it. It turned out to be one of her kinfolk (that is, another tabaxi) named Celeste who needed her help defeating a weird undead thing in the crypts below the graveyard of the city. Lily asks if Dahlia can sing the song for them, and she deflects, saying she’s forgotten it now. She holds up two rings and a gold torque, saying that she received these items as payment for her services. Lily is enamored with the rings, and Dahlia gives one with an aquamarine stone to her. Rose remembers that Dahlia was paid for the job they did as well, and Lily gives her the money. Dahlia says that the party can split some or all of the money from this job, or she can sell the remaining ring and torque and split the earnings between the party since she wasn’t there. Chief says he knows a guy who can fence the remaining valuables, and asks if they’re “hot” in any way. Dahlia responds that the owner has been dead for years, centuries, maybe even millennia, so she doesn’t think anyone will come looking for the valuables. Chief takes the valuables to be sold later.

The party tells Dahlia about the deed to the bar/tavern, and Ouss explains that all of them think it’s a trap in some way shape or form. Violante thinks it’s a political maneuver. The group decides they should check it out, since it belongs to them now. On the way to the new place, V slips into an alleyway and disguises herself to look like a real estate agent and walks up to the party as they near The Secret Tunnel, telling the party that Sabato sent her to show them around the place. However, she doesn’t have a key, so Chief opens the door with his Thieves Tools.

The building is a four-story building with a small tower as the fourth floor only accessible by an access point in the roof of the third floor. The party starts to investigate the place, with the real estate agent following behind and offering to answer any questions they might have. Inside, the bar is a mess, with broken boards and dusty furniture everywhere that will need to be replaced. There is a well-made bar area that seems to be the best quality. Ouss flies to the top of the tower, discovering that he can access it from a window outside as well as the pull-down ladder. Dahlia casts Detect Magic as a ritual spell and discovers that one large keg near the bar area is magical. Ouss pours a golden lager for himself out of the keg, and sits next to it for an hour to try and discern the exact magical properties. After an hour, he realizes that the keg never runs dry of Golden Lager, and that the beer is actually quite delicious. This is great news to Ouss. Chief, meanwhile, investigates the cellar and finds a hidden door that leads to a tunnel. The “real estate” agent casts Unseen Servant to help the party start cleaning the bar area. When Lilly walks up the stairs, an invisible hand trips her. She assumes this is V, since V disappeared from the group while they were walking to the bar.

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Eventually, the party decides that they want to explore the tunnel, and the real estate agent “leaves.” V turns back into herself and stealthily follows the party into the tunnel, appearing at some point while they are well within the tunnel and explaining that she doesn’t want to be seen entering the tavern because she doesn’t want it associated with her. Lily asks V if she’s the one who tripped her up the stairs, and V says she wasn’t, which the party finds odd.

The party discovers that the tunnels branch in three directions. To the left, the tunnel leads to an entrance to the sewers, which is the very same sewer system most of the party was in not 24 hours before (it’s not exactly the same place but they can tell it’s the same system). Straight ahead the party comes to a door that when they push open leads into a mausoleum, in the same graveyard that Dahlia was in. It’s a hidden door that when closed looks like more vaults in the mausoleum. The path to the right leads to a tunnel that is caved in, and the party decides not to explore that further at this time. Satisfied with their explorations, the party returns to The Secret Tunnel’s bar room and decide to split up and meet back at their original tavern, since this bar will take a bit of work in order for it to be livable (if that’s what they decide they want to do).

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Dahlia sleeps for a while, since she hasn’t rested in about 24 hours. Lily goes back to the druid shop and makes two healing potions, one for Rose (strawberry flavored) and one for Ouss (gin flavored). She also buys all manners of potions and Rose goes to the temple of Anrahd and talks to Father Warmmond about her vision in the sewers, where Anrahd told her to shelter the lost. She also explains that there seems to be a demonic or fiendish thread throughout their adventures thus far, and it seemed that the imp that Chief beheaded was in the chamber with the succubus, which is concerning. There also seems to be a theme relating to the Coveter. Father Warmmond tells Rose that it’s almost unheard of that Anrahd would speak directly to someone, and that he’s not sure how he can help her since he doesn’t have a lot of experience dealing with situations like this. She tells him that since he can’t offer advice that he can at least keep his ear to the ground and let her know if he hears of further instances like the F.I.R.E. cult and the succubus. When he hears about their new tavern, he offers to send people over to bless it, which Rose wholeheartedly agrees with. Chief visits his contact in the Quay, who gives Chief 150GP for the set of jewelry, and also lets him know that Vincent Vincenzo (a manager of the Fazzia that Chief works for) is looking for him. Chief visits Vincent, who is a bit put out that Chief has been doing jobs for Sabato. Chief tells Vincent the truth about the jobs and offers up information about the missing gems, Tore Como, and the new bar/tavern that he and the group own. Vincent asks to send folks from the family to take a look even though it’s not strictly within Fazzia territory, and Chief acquiesces. Vincent also says he’s very interested in the memory stone that will tell the location of the gem stash. He gives Chief 50GP to help fix up the tavern. V goes to visit her family and also check out City Hall to make sure no one has taken too strong of an interest in the fact that her real name is on the deed to the tavern. Ouss makes the tower of the tavern his place to stay and starts carving lots of wooden figurines in preparation for the festival in town that will happen in a week.

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The group returns to their tavern at some point, and Chief gives Dahlia 125GP from the sale (keeping 25GP as his cut, which she’s okay with). She offers the 125 GP to the group to help fix up the tavern, and Chief gives the 50GP from his boss. With this, the group starts buying the necessary furniture and accessories for the tavern. Chief’s family members show up to inspect the place, and later on acolytes from the temple show up to bless the tavern. However, when this happens, pieces of wood float from the ground and fling themselves at the priests and the entire tavern starts to shake and rattle. They eventually give up and run out of the tavern. Lily informs the group that an invisible hand tripped her up the stairs, and the group surmises that the house is haunted after Rose channels her divine skills to sense the location of any undead in the area.

V goes to a shop next to the tavern that sells homegoods and asks about the history of the tavern. The shopkeep tells her that when the tavern was closed, the barkeep named Lif loved it so much that he demanded to be shut up in the tavern to die there. V takes this information, along with some pillow shams and doilies, back to the group. They place the doilies on the bar and start talking to Lif, trying to see if he’ll answer questions. The group notices the doilies shake and shimmer with a faint light when they ask him questions, and develop a system whereby one shake of the doilies means yes and tow shakes means no. Ouss starts carving an O and an X for a more permanent system as they ask him questions, eventually coming to discover that yes, he wants to stay in the tavern and no, his body doesn’t need to be laid to rest and yes, he’d like a job as the bartender of the tavern. Rose and Lif compromise on the blessing of the tavern and he agrees to let her bless the upper levels, keeping the bar area unblessed so he can move freely. Ouss asks if Lif can get him a lager, and Lif complies, so Ouss declares that he’s hired. He mounts the X and O above the bar so that Lif can more easily answer yes and no questions.

With the issue of the ghost figured out, the group turns to renaming the tavern. Several suggestions, such as Spirits and Specters and The Ghostly Garden are thrown about until they land on “The Spirit Garden,” combining Lily’s goal to turn the place into a veritable greenhouse with the things she purchased from the druid’s shop as well as the neat gimmick of having a ghostly bartender plus the pun of “spirit” having a dual meaning. With the name figured out and the tavern already looking in better shape due to the group’s efforts and the 175GP, they decide to continue fixing it up to try and have it ready for the festival in a few days.

V, meanwhile, visits Sabato’s wife with the intention of using what she believes is leverage over him to her own purposes. She quickly learns, however, that she has very little leverage over Sabato. However, her efforts intrigue the wife and V offers herself to the wife as an agent or contact, to utilize how she would wish. The wife tells V that she may have jobs for her in the future that could use her set of skills.

With several very different groups/factions interested in the bar, as well as the matter of the Memory Stone still up in the air, the party certainly has made a splash in Serenza. Only time will tell what will come next in their adventures. Next up, festival time!

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Dahlia’s Grand Adventure
Session 5b - Where Has Dahlia Been All This Time?

Despite the late night/early morning of the previous day, Dahlia awakens from her slumber while Rose and Lily are still asleep in their shared room. She stretches and briefly wonders why she’s up so early when her ears prick up and she realizes she’s hearing an interesting tune. A song she’s never heard before is drifting up through the open window of her bedroom. She quickly gathers her lute and her rapier, leaving her crossbow and her pack behind, and runs down the stairs and into the busy street below.

Outside, she realizes the source of the singing is coming from another Tabaxi some ways ahead of her on the street. She calls out in her native tongue to the other Tabaxi: “Wait! Who are you?” The Tabaxi briefly looks over her shoulder and smiles slightly, and then picks up the pace. Dahlia quickly follows, using her natural abilities to bob and weave through the crowd to follow this other Tabaxi, though not really gaining any ground. She sends her four gentle Dancing Lights towards the other figure, somewhat to distract them and somewhat as a playful gesture, and the figure does poke one of the lights as it floats around their head. Nevertheless, the figure seems to be making a beeline out of town and towards a different section of the area, singing all the while.

Dahlia follows this other Tabaxi and soon realizes that they are bringing her to a graveyard. This would generally be creepy but given that it’s 10am on a sunny day, Dahlia is not too concerned. The figure slips inside a mausoleum and Dahlia quickly follows, but it seems the figure has disappeared. Dahlia casts Detect Magic and notices that an entire wall of the mausoleum is magical. She puts her hand on it and it slips through, so she proceeds forward through the wall and into the tunnel behind. She can hear the figure singing somewhere in the tunnel but can’t see them, despite having dark vision, so she pulls out her lute and begins singing along to the song, since she’s been trying to memorize it. Suddenly, she can feel that the figure is just next to her, and only then do they stop singing.

Dahlia introduces herself to the Tabaxi, who responds that her name is Celeste. She asks why Celeste has brought her to the crypts, and Celeste responds that she is a bard much like Dahlia. She has a job for her: the song she had been singing is incomplete and she knows of a place where the last part of the song is held. It’s under Serenza in the crypts, but the door leading to it is made entirely of iron which doesn’t allow Celeste to pass through, since Celeste is from a different plane (the Fey). In exchange for Dahlia helping Celeste, she promises Dahlia will be rewarded. Dahlia thinks this sounds like a fun adventure and agrees to help. Celeste warns her that the song fragment might be guarded and that Celeste herself will not be able to help her, but Dahlia decides to proceed forward anyway. Celeste leads her deeper into the tunnels.

Eventually, the two of them come to a place where the tunnel ends in a door made of iron with an archway around it. Dahlia can tell that the archway contains iconography of the Coveter, one of the evil gods in the world. The door, while sturdy, is very old and with some time Dahlia is able to break the hinges enough to slip through the door. Celeste tells her she will wait on the other side and bids her good luck.

Dahlia tentatively walks down the hallway, seeing some runes on the wall, and comes to another archway, this one open. She peeks inside without stepping in the room and sees an unmoving figure sitting on a throne. It appears to be a skeleton holding a beautiful crystal wine glass, and things gleam on its neck and fingers. Dahlia steps in the room to take a closer look and as she does so, the dust in the room that has been untouched for untold years swirls around her, manifesting itself in a tornado-like swirl. An angry, unearthly voice roars “it is mine, I have claimed it” and Dahlia responds “I have come for it!” Dahlia slings a spell at the unearthly visage, and it in turn screams at her. This scream enters Dahlia’s very soul and she is terribly frightened of the creature, turning tail and running out of the room. As she runs, the creature pursues her, but seems to not be able to pass a point in the hallway where the runes are carved. Eventually, Dahlia is able to recover her wits and bravely charges at the creature, continuing to sling spells until it eventually collapses with one last screech. Dahlia, breathing heavily from the exertion, re-enters the room and walks to the skeleton. She takes some time to cast Detect Magic again, as a ritual this time, and notices while the two rings and the gold torque the skeleton is wearing are not magical, the wine glass is. She gingerly pries the glass from its fingers and for good measure takes the gold torque and two rings, pocketing those, since Celeste did promise a reward.

She then takes some time to study the glass, sitting against a wall and attuning to it. Once she is attune to the particulars of the magic, she realizes that the glass holds an echo. She brings the glass out to Celeste and activates it, which plays a portion of the song that Celeste needed. Celeste is very proud of her and thanks her for her help, telling her that she can also keep the wine glass as a reward.

Celeste brings her back through the tunnels to the mausoleum and then back outside the tavern. While they walk, Celeste explains that the tunnels stretch all throughout and underneath Serenza, which Dahlia finds interesting. Dahlia notices that it looks like it’s still morning, even though she feels completely exhausted, and Celeste explains that the crypt area does weird things with time and that they spent a total of 24 hours in the tunnels. Once they arrive in front of the tavern Celeste turns and slips into the growing morning crowd, and for fun Dahlia sends her Dancing Lights after her. She notices Celeste’s shoulders shake in a silent laugh before she is beyond reach. An exhausted Dahlia stands outside the tavern, pondering what just occurred before she realizes that she can’t remember the song she just heard. Puzzled, she shrugs and enters the tavern to find her friends.

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Sewers & Succubi
Session 5: Avoid the Slimy Stuff

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Having been told by the guards that the Kenku are with the Shadowblade Council, the party begins to formulate a plan as to how to find Enzano, the missing nephew of their current patron, Sabato. Sabato is busy arranging the marriage of Violante to Enzano. Chief, who is in with the town guards (The Capos), learns that the Shadowblade Council attacking the Blackscale Assassins is a new situation and that a war between them could spill into the Quays. Maso, the Capo of this troop of guards, also tells Chief that he doesn’t want to go into the sewers after them. He asks Chief if they want to keep their prisoner, the bound Kenku. Chief asks for a little time, during which Lily attempts to question it. The bird is freed from its bonds enough to answer questions on a paper that Lily hands it. Lily asks her question and receives, as answer, the drawing of a raised middle finger. Ouss threatens the Kenku, which loosens his tongue enough to repeat in a gruff voice, “follow the yellow signs” and “bring him back alive.”

Their business concluded, the guards take the last Kenku away for prosecution under the Capos, and the party enjoys a short rest before going after the missing man. Pasquale, Enzano’s companion, offers to help them look. During the rest, Rose suddenly snaps to alertness and says “I think ”/wikis/anrahd" class=“wiki-page-link”> Anrahd spoke to me!" The rest of the party listened as Rose elaborated that she was told she has to “Shelter the lost” and to “follow the path put before her.” She felt that she was on the right path. Violante figured this must mean she lost man they’re looking for, Enzano, so they should keep looking.

Lily took the form of a wolf to pick up Enzano’s scent, and led the party down into the sewers, leading to a junction where they were shot at from arrow slits. They raced across the range of arrow-fire to a door. They went in and were attacked by the three goblins that had been firing at them through the arrow slit. Defeating all three (after having difficulty getting bottlenecked in the corridor), they followed the corridor down a flight of stairs to another passageway. It opened into a shared sleeping room with straw pallets and blankets on the floor. Listening at the door on the opposite side, they heard a rushed talking, and a man’s voice saying “No, you idiot, you have to block UNDER the door! Pack some more blankets in there!”

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Assuming the owners of the voices were expecting them, Chief burst through the door, only to see a man and a Duergar on the opposite side of the room trying to seal off a different door with furniture and blankets. The two turned in alarm and confusion as Chief burst in. Chief looked back in confusion but less alarm, as he expected them to be ready to fight him. The rest of the party took advantage of the moment and demanded to be told where Enzano is.

When offered to be let go when the information is provided, the human pointed to the other door they weren’t barricading and said “He’s that way.” Violante opened the door and saw a hallway going off into darkness. The party still blocked the two men from leaving, and after being asked what was behind the other door, the thugs said “It’s a special surprise. Come on, let us go, we showed you where the guy is.” The party instead demanded more information on threat of violence. The things decided to take the initiative and attacked, but they were quickly subdued and hogtied by Rose, who is getting used to doing that.

The party followed the corridor to the end and found their missing man; Enzano was on the floor being tormented by a half-orc standing over him, fist raised and glowing with magical fire. At the far side of the room on a raised dais sat a woman dressed in revealing leather attire, with large red bat-like wings rising up out of her back — unmistakably a succubus! In her lap was a tiny human-like creature with horse and a tail, and also with bat-like wings. The little creature was the same imp they thought they killed in the Freejus Institute. Ouss immediately rushed into the room to attack the half-orc. After getting in a couple of good strikes, he backed up to stand by the door to await the rest of the party’s entrance. The half-orc turned to Ouss and uttered some magical words, and four bolts of magical energy to shot forth and simultaneously struck Ouss unerringly, dropping him to the floor. Rose ran to Ouss and heard a voice in her head, which she somehow knew to be coming from the succubus, saying “Strike down your allies and I will make you a goddess.” Rose ignored the offer and instead magically healed Ouss. The voice then spoke in her head: “What a pity. You have made your choice, then.” The succubus stood up on the dais and disappeared in a puff of brimstone smoke, along with the imp. After withstanding a barrage of magical fire directed at the party, Chief struck down the half-orc wizard.

Enzano was overcome by relief at being rescued, and showed his enthusiasm by hugging first Lily, then Violante, whom he did not know he was practically engaged to. The party returned to the room where they’d left the hogtied thugs and revived them enough to ask questions about the Shadowblade Council. They were told the succubus is named Safiyya, and was in charge of this plan. The imp was named Shemoto, and was really into fire. Amidst this interrogation, the party freed the Duergar who took the opportunity to escape. As they watched him go, the door barricading the bathroom collapsed, and the party was attacked by the pseudopod of an ooze creature. The attack missed, and the party decided they didn’t need to deal with this, and grabbed their last prisoner and walked out ahead of the ooze, which was too slow to follow. Chief handed the prisoner over to the guard for justice, and the rest of the party went to their respective homes to wash up before meeting with Sabato.

Violante took charge of Enzano, and let him clean up before the party rendezvous. After an hour the group reconvened at their traditional tavern, The Fresh Prince. From there, at approximately 2am, they went to Sabato’s home to deliver Enzano. He gratefully accepted the young man and thanked the party, and agreed to meet them all at the tavern the next day.

When the day had reached a more reasonable hour, Sabato came to the tavern and rewarded the party with the promised 100 gold sovereigns, and in addition, delivered the deed to a property in an alleyway just off the market district. The property was registered in the names (or legal identifiers) of all six of the people he had assigned to the task, even though Dahlia wasn’t present for the actual mission. He explained that he wanted them to take up residence at the property, as it would be easier for him to contact them if he needed, and they could do with the property as they pleased. The property itself was once a working inn and taproom, but had fallen into disrepair. The party suspiciously accepted the deed, and Sabato left them to decide what to do next.

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