A Perilous Journey

Episode 63
Telzen it like it is

Aboard the Elysium, Telzen the monster hunting Paladin is on another duty shift guarding a mountain top although currently she’s filling in for a crew member pedaling one of the air screws that propel the ship forwards

As the alarm bell starts to ring and the sounds of battle begin to break out above, she’s trapped at this post!

Once the crewman returns she tries to make her way above decks to defend the ship, encountering some sort of Imp creature in one of the lower corridors – she makes short work of this creature and moves to continue to heed the captain’s voice calling her. But suddenly, in the Shrine of Mystra she hears a commotion and sticks her head in the door to investigate.


The party slam into the solid wood floor of the Elysium in various states of distress. Joe and Tarn are unconscious with Nennah pale, poisoned and wavering on her feet. Eric is bloodied and bleeding. Ethia and Therren are… actually pretty ok. As Ethia casts Healing Word on Tarn, Nennah concentrates on her holy symbol; fighting back the blackness at the edges of her vision she uses her magic to cure her poisoning before she’d otherwise have been overcome.

Seeing the still unconscious Joe, Telzen spits “Amateurs!” and slaps her hand on his shoulder and pours a small amount of healing energy into him. She’s gone before he wakes, heading back towards the upper decks.

The ship rocks listing heavily to Port, Joe is thrown into the wall and Tarn smacks his head on the ceiling as the party also make their way up onto deck to deal with whatever force is attacking the ship.

As they make their way up onto the deck trailing an Angelic looking human in chain mail with a great-sword strapped to her back, they stop briefly to take in the scene. The ship is under attack from several groups of Imps and Spined Devils. Eric and Therren immediately head over to the bow to assist Anton, as Nennah and Joe move to assist Brain on the Starboard side.

Telzen, Tarn and Ethia head up to the bridge finding Morvar at the helm with the Captain behind him and Lissa taking aim to the rear. “Alright, we’ve got them” says the Captain, “Now I want every bit of material we have lashed to this ship to catch the wind, if you have to take your shirts off. Do it! Get us out of here!”

Looking over the side, Ethia sees the dangling forms of Root and Ben, lassoed and hanging from ropes.

Moments later an Erinyes appears to fly up about 60’ back from the ship. This Devil appears female, with red feathered wings and black plate armour. She takes aim with her longbow and an arrow slams into the Captain! He spins around and falls to one knee, pale and sweating as the wound hisses black fluid. A second arrow seriously wounds Telzen and a third shot sends an already injured Tarn to the ground.

Telzen jumps forward laying her hands on hthe Captain’s shoulder; the wound stops hissing and the colour returns to the the Captain’s cheeks as Telzen looks towards the Erinyes and casts Hunter’s Mark.

Ethia waves another Healing Word off to Tarn (waking him) and moves to protect the Captain while thrusting her staff forward and casting Blight on the creature. Lissa looses an arrow towards it, barely wounding it.

Tarn fires an almighty blast from his Thunder Cannon taking a massive chunk out of the creature’s armoured chest plate.

In retaliation the Erinyes moves onto the rear deck and fires back twice at Tarn, missing both times as he ducks into cover. The third shot hits Ethia but she’s able to resist the poison. She then conjures two massive Eagles to provide transport should the creature fly again.

Telzen moves toward the Erinyes with her Greatsword and the sword describes a massive arc coming towards the already injured Devil with a slow inevitability. The Erinyes tries to block with her bow, but the sword cuts through the bow, her arm and then her neck before coming to a stop.

The body drops to the deck.

As the party look around, the fight seems to be over, but the Captain signals that the crew remain at battle stations.

Lissa is looking through a telescope to the rear and after a beat she confirms that the Pit Fiend and its friends are far behind them and don’t seem to be pursuing.

As the Captain expresses concerns about the possibility of sabotage by invisible Imps, Telzen moves to midships and concentrates for a moment. She reports three presences aboard just as a hissing sounds from the air bag above. Two are below decks and one is above near the noise. Ethia casts Fairy Fire upwards but nothing appears. Tarn deduces that the Imp in question may be inside the airbag.

Eric and Joe head of to deal with one Imp and Telzen takes another, leaving Tarn to fly upward on his broom to the Crow’s nest as Nennah once again climbs the rigging to cast Mending on the airbag. Tarn lands and moves down the mast on level finding the airtight maintenance hatch and unlocking it. He moves through the airlock and once inside, spies the now glowing Imp. Tarn standing on a platform in mid balloon hesitates from using his breath weapon or Thunder Cannon and the Imp thinks it’s safe. Then Tarn pulls daggers and jumps onto his broom. He runs the Imp down and stabs it to death. After some consideration he keeps the body. Ideas of Imp-skin gloves coming to mind.

The Elysium speeds on towards Treetips as the party lay around in various states of tiredness and injury nursing their wounds but still alert.

After brief visits from Ethia and Tarn to check the hanging creatures are ok, Brian and Anton have now pulled Root, Tel and Ben up onto the ship using the anchor lifting winches.

Ethia, Tarn and Telzen complete their introductions via the Captain and consider what’s to come.

Ethia, Nennah, Tarn and Therren discuss how they can cure Tel. Apparently it will take the casting of three powerful spells each day for three days to reverse the effects of the Illithid’s mind control. They realise that they’ll need Matilda for one of the spells that’s beyond their current abilities.

Telzen states she may be willing to help them out if the pay is good. No one really makes her a firm offer on this.

As they fill Telzen in on the Mindflayers the trapped Alhoon comes up in conversation. After recent events, Therren, clutching his ring of mind shielding, seems reluctant to engage in more conversations in his own head.

He tosses the Periapt of Mind Trapping to the floor.

Telzen picks it up and examines it. It seems to recoil, almost squiming from her grasp and she deduces that her Holy Symbol hurts it. Unfortunately it seems the scream she hears is a distinct voice from that of the uncooperative Alhoon. There may be an innocent soul trapped in there with it. A sacrifice made to ensure its continued un-life. The Alhoon doesn’t seem to afraid of death threats, pointing out that they’ll doom the innocent soul as well. He does say he’s wiling to consider cooperation in terms of information if they can offer him something.

Therren states that given the likelihood of needing information on Lichdom in future, and given he thinks himself immune to the Amulet thanks to the ring, he’d rather not destroy it just yet.

As the party rest for about 12 hours, with Tarn finally sorting out a modification to his goggles to enable him to see through Ben’s eyes, the Elysium speeds onward towards Treetips.

The party now come together, with Telzen loitering close-by to discuss what to do next and where to go. The ship is a day from Treetips, but Ethia can get the party there faster if needs be.

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Episode 62
Small Victories

Joe immediately jumps down from the Rope Trick and fires off a volley of arrows at Destuvious and “Rick”, but a bad landing causes them to go astray.

Eric follows cleaving into Destuvious with his axe, however, as before, the non-magical weapon simply isn’t doing it’s job fully against this powerful creature!

Therren helps out by jumping down and casting Magic Weapon on Eric’s Axe whilst launching a massive fireball at Destuvious, a Cambion and a Spined Devil (the fireball singes the Cambion but has no effect on the Devils), he then beats a hasty retreat back into the Rope Trick.

Ethia turns water elemental and tries to sweep up Rick into a vortex but he’s too quick and is pushed aside.

Destuvious marches across the room and plants the Artefact down on the pedestal. He makes a swift quarter turn anti_clockwise and power crackles from the spikes on the walls into his hand. Nevertheless he keeps the artefact held in place to prevent the group from taking it.

Nennah casts a banishment spell but Destvious manages to resist its power.

Tarn blasts Destuvious’s hand with his gun, flaying the armoured skin from its back.

The fight rages on with the group focusing fire on the fiend’s hand to try to get the Artefact out again. The Spined devils end up taking pot shots at the party as they pop in and out of the Rope Trick using it for cover and protection from fireballs thrown by a frustrated Destuvious (the magic not penetrating the event horizon of the pocket dimension).

Rick manages to get Joe? under his spell but looses concentration before he’s able to force anything.

One of Desstuvious’s hands is chopped off by Eric and he moves the other to hold down the Artefact.

As the party pour their resources into taking the pit fiend’s other hand he finally pulls it back before he’d lose it and the artefact is thrown to safety. meanwhile Rick is flying out of danger until a well placed hit from Magic Missile topples him to the ground.

Being trapped in place with limited targets, Destuvious has done considerable damage to Joe, Eric and Tarn. Eric tries the Banishment from the ring but again the fiend manages to shake it off, just. Joe is felled completely and at the instructions of Rick, the Imps begin to drag him away as Ethia moves to envelop all of them to save his life, a previously cast Water Breathing spell allows Joe to survive inside Ethia’s elemental form. Meanwhile The Cambions are trying to take Tarn away.

Rick has now called a retreat on their part as he reckons the the portal will now have been open for a short time. He reveals an interest in taking the party alive as he’d like their souls and he tells the party that they’ve doomed New Thundertree by their actions. Rick then disappears into a spell identical the the one the MindFlayers used. As Destuvious pulls away he manages to land a terrible bite on Nennah, seriously poisoning her.

Nennah is now barely standing holding their escape spell waiting for everyone to reach her…

Ethia drags Joe over to Nennah and drops her form while doing so and Eric uses the cloak to bamf him and Tarn over to Nennah. As everyone manages to grab Nennah, Ethia fires off an Erupting Earth at Destuvious just as they bamf out to the ship.

They arrive in the Sanctuary room on a wild angle, the sounds of battle can be heard outside…

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Episode 61
Devil's Advocate

Immediate short rest in Artefact chamber.

Much discussion and planning. They put glassware on top of the hatch in the former Alhoon throne room.

Questions raised about Devil abilities to “bamf” in and out of places.

Rick suggests they can’t and apologises for not being much use. Tarn remembers some can plane shift.

Tarn is suspicious of Rick but can’t pin anything he says down as a lie.

Therren rested after four hours.

Zombies left downstairs playing dead. One with Therren.

After considering an ambush and attack plan, they instead go with stoneshaping a rock to make a fake artefact holder. A plan is devised whereby the party will hide in Therren’s Rope Trick above the platform, wait for the artefact to be placed and then reach down and grab it. They can then attack or retreat to the ship as they see fit. Ethia can then turn into an earth elemental and leave through the mountain.

Therren reveals a potion of Invulnerability which is passed around to a few party members and briefly lies with RIck before the party changes their mind via a reinstated Telepathic link.

The full eight hours pass without incident and Ethia patially blocks the tunnel with the boulder in it.

Ethia now casts a spell to find nearby fiends. She detects a presence to the South about 5 miles out. Recasting a few minutes later she detects them at three miles, then one mile. Definitely closing in.

The party get into position and noises indicate incoming creatures. They slow after presumably finding indications of a fight. Eventually a male Cambion appears in view, a couple of imps flit past and they see the leg of a Pit Fiend!

A screeching sound hurts their ears and with a thump the stone cover moves just slightly. (In reality while the party are distracted looking out, Rick casts minor illusion to create a screech to cover his casting of invisibility. He then jumps out of the Rope Trick)

Now they hear a cultured voice calling out to them, offering them a deal.He tells them he’s been working for a hundred years on the Liberty Project and they are but a minor bump in the road. He says New Thundertree will be spared if they will sign a contract.

The voice comes forward revealing itself as Rick (the party do a double take and confirm he’s gone from near them). Rick seems to be giving “Destuvious” the pit fiend orders. As the party start to jump down and attack, he orders Destuvious to create a wall of fire below the Rope Trick.

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Episode 60
Alhoon came a Spider

As the party run up the ramp, the three distant Illithids begin casting defensive spells although one does cast a confusion spell that hits Joe and Eric.

Eric (after swiping at Joe with his axe) reaches the barrier first and barrels through it, before moving on to slice the heads off of a few Grimlocks. Therren blasts magic missile at a few other creatures. Ethia summons erupting earth below the Illithids shaking them but they seem to maintain concentration. Nennah calls up a stinking cloud that hides th Illithids from view. Two Quaggoths begin to choke.

The Illithids all perform a simultaneous mind blast, heavily damaging many in the party and stunning a few too, Tarn in particular finds this difficult to shake off.

As the party concentrate on the front line troops, any direct attacks against the Illithids are thwarted by a combination of a Wall of Force and a Globe of Invulnerability. Even Therren’s zombies (made from the Illithids former guards) can’t get through. As Therren casts his necromancy spell, he feels his mind split in two, he finally realises that the other Therren is a different entity trapped within his head. He tries and fails to contain its spirit and so the conciousness moves over to a zombie Quaggoth. Eventually he figures out he’s been played and that the entity was likely the Black Spider, a great necromancer. He died holding the Spider Staff, and he didn’t quite dodge the shadows clamouring on the other side as Nennah rescued him. The Black Spider manages to open a hatch and get away during the fighting.

The front two Illithid fire bolts of lightening out into the fog hitting many of the party. This does take down the wall of force though, just in time for Earth Elemental Ethia (with the aid of her Mephits) and Tarn to bring down a considerable load of rocks on the trio of MindFlayers (and the zombies).

With the odds now in favour of the party, two of the Illithids cast some form of transportation spells and vanish. The Alhoon tries to continue the stand, firing a Disintegrate spell at the Earth Ethia, however Therren counterspells this and the Alhoonfinally falls to a combination of Eric’s Axe and Therrens magic missiles.

The party investigate the area, finding a brain library and an room of experiments and cells. Tarn manages to spot something clean amongst piles of old armour, weapons, bags and equipment left behind by unfortunate prisoners. A Broom of Flying!

Therren finds a Periapt of Mind Trapping on the alhoon as well as a Ring of Mind Shielding. it seems the Alhoon yet lives on trapped within the necklace. Although it’s not all that happy with Therren.

The group head upwards using the new broom to access a room above. Ethia plants her hand onto a pedestal causing flowers to grow and a door to open to the triangular Artefact chamber. She doesn’t find a way to seal it from within, so shuts it again from the outside. She stops Eric from trying the pedestal just in case it’s trapped.

The party desperately need to rest but they also need to figure out how to set up defences for they know not when the Devils will get here…

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Episode 59
An immovable solution.

The party conclude their rest after much silent discussion has taken place regarding the priorities going forward. All casters are low on abilities now, but everyone is well healed and rested as well as they can be.
It sees that the main priority is to either take the Artefact from the Devils, which means waiting for them to bring it here. Or as another possibility, preventing them from gaining entry here in some way to buy time for another artefact elsewhere to be removed. With that in mind, the party gets ready to move on.

After removing the barricades behind to leave a clear escape route, Eric throws the bed aside from the door ahead and they venture out into the common area. Nennah fries a Cranium Rat which is spotted watching the party from the raised Kitchen area. The group quickly check the rooms again to ensure no-one has snuck behind them and they determine that the door ahead is the likely source of the rat.

Moving on, after Joe peeks under the door, Eric opens it with Joe, Rick and Tarn close behind and the casters in the rear. They all see a rope bridge over a chasm which leads down to a river. On the other side is a passage lading out of the mountain. An illusion behind and right fails to hide the way up to the Artefact room (Ethia’s description means the illusion fails on the party). However Joe’s Eldritch sight allows him to spot an issue ahead as well. he fires an arrow toward the magic he detects and reveals the bridge to be an illusion as well. In fact the bridge has been cut in the centre.

The party continue onward and up the steep sloped tunnel 10’ around. After a couple of switchbaks they reach the wall Ethia remembers covered in druid carvings with small holes all over it. Ethia knows one of these small holes leads all the way through. Remains of Giant spiders lay here, they’re not fresh, but she’s unable to determine exactly how long ago they were killed. Unexpectedly though, there is a new passage to the right 8’ high and 3’ wide that seems to lead around the wall. This looks to have been dug later with stone tools.

The party continues on and into a 10’ by 10’ corridor covered in druid carving sand some sort of burned slime or ooze, Therren thinks it’s similar to Gelatinous Cube ooze. Whatever it was, it has been destroyed. To the right is another crudely cut door and ahead lies a perfect tunnel of obsidian stone, smooth and with no apparent jons between floor walls and ceiling as if it ware carved out of a single huge piece. Joe’s Eldritch sight picks up something magical in the room to the right.

The party check this out and find a Dissection chamber, a Grimlock lies cut open on a slab, tools around it. organs (hearts, lungs, brains etc.) sit preserved within glass cylinders on nine pedestals in the room. They rest in a pinkish fluid that appears to be created from a distillation process set up on a desk at the far end. One of the body parts is a preserved Quaggoth arm fitted with Flensing claws. Therren places this cylinder in the bag of holding. On investigating the desk and ending ten minutes reading Therren learns that the chemistry process creates an excellent preservative and that some of the ingredients are healing potions. After Nennah pulls out a healing potion of her own for comparison, the party grab some unused potions from the table.
Also in the room is a crudely cut 8’ diameter hole in the ceiling leading up 15’ to another room. Eric and Tarn move some of the glass cylinders and pedestals to try to ensure that anything coming down will knock them over and make a noise before the group head back towards the obsidian tunnel outside.

An number of methods are now employed to try to figure out what this presumed trap is. Stones thrown have no effect, the Grimlock body thrown halfway, no effect (although Joe thinks he spotted a slight movement to the tunnel as it hits). A giant spider added near the beginning, no effect. Finally Ethia casts Find Traps and learns that a trap is nearby and that the nature of the trap is falling into a pit of spikes.

Therren casts Spider Climb from his staff and winds up having another quick conversation with himself. His better self chides him for taking point again and Therren assures himself that he’s saving spells to do necromancy later. Therren walks down the tunnel wall and as he reaches the very end the whole tunnel drops away revealing to the rest of the party, a pivot beneath it about a third of the way along. He dodges the bodies that fall past him down to the spikes and begins to walk back up. As he nears the top the tunnel slams back into place.

After some discussion Therren has an idea and uses the immovable rod to secure the tunnel in place. After everyone else is along he throws it to them and they use it to secure the other end so that he can come along as well.

Now they turn a corner and a tunnel leads up about 50’ at a 45 degree angle. It has obsidian steps set into it and it seems to go up to an entrance partially barricaded with a portcullis of bones and sinew. Above the top of the steps is a square hole surrounded by a border of obsidian.

Ethia Conjures Minor Elementals and sends four Mama Mephits to investigate. They are attacked and injured by four Grimlocks hurling rocks from the other side of the barricade but they do learn that the hole above contains a boulder that seems set to fall down the tunnel and crush anyone on the steps.

Two Mephits are sent up again one with the immovable rod it manages to click the rod into place under the mechanism supporting the boulder as the other Mephit acts as a distraction to the Grimlocks, breathing fire on all of them.

With the trap disarmed the party charge up the steps, Mephits in tow ignoring an impotent click on the seventh step. As they reach the top they see through the damaged bone barrier, the four Grimlocks at the bottom of some steps and away behind them at the top of the steps two Quaggoths either side of three Mindflayers. The centre Illithid is different to the others and appears undead. Based on what the party found out earlier, this could be an Alhoon.

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Episode 58
Mindflayer

As Eric kicks in the door and charges through he finds two Intellect Devourers and three Quaggoths waiting for him and he quickly goes to work on a Quaggoth with his Axe. These Quaggoths seem to have what the party later fin are called “Flensing claws”, metal augmentations to their original offensive weapons. Therren backs him up with a massive cone of fire which kills Eric’s Quaggoth severly injures two others and burns an Intellect Devourer to ashes. After a strong opening, Ethia’s spiders head in alongside her Eagle form and they lock down the other devourer as Joe, Tarn and Nennah unload on the remaining Quaggoths. Things take a tun for the worse however when several of the party are stunned by a psychic blast from an unknown source. Finally Rick runs in and stabs the last teetering Quaggoth finishing it off. IT would seem that the parties troubles are over, but another attack from nowhere lets them know there are more enemies somewhere.

Ethia remembers this as her master’s quarters, now converted to a filthy guard post. There should be a door straight ahead and indeed as Eric throws a stone through it the wall is revealed to be an illusion. Standing behind it, is a Mind Flayer!

The Illithid quickly casts a spell but nothing seems to happen. That is until Eric launches a javelin at it’s head. The weapon smacks into the invisible wall and finds no target. Eric investigates and reveals the wall bisects much of the room, leaving only the brain sucking creature and a currently stunned Joe on one side of it.

Ethia and Joe work to try to come to their senses as the rest of the party try to find a way to breach the wall or attack the Mind Flayer in indirect ways. Magic Missiles are employed but the creature is trained in the ways of the Arcane and blocks with a shield. Tarn blasts a hole in the stones above the wall and this allows Eric to bring down a portion of the ceiling using a javelin as a lever. The resulting hole is just enough for someone to squeeze through. The next thirty seconds have the party slowly overcoming the barrier as the Illithid continues to keep concentration on the wall despite hit after hit. It seems that here Rick might not be trying as hard as he might to get over the wall. The Illithid manages to get it’s tentacles around a severely injured Joe’s head, but Joe manages to fight it off just before his skull would have been penetrated.

As the party close in and the wall drops the badly injured Mind Flayer manages to cast some sort of transportation spell and it vanishes into nothing. Investigation of the area suggests it’s not invisible, just gone.

Now the party are able to see into the next room, what should be a Library has been emptied of books and replaced with holding tanks full of a brackish green/yellow liquid. As Joe investigates, a MindFlayer Tadpole jumps up at him. THese appear to be tanks which store eggs and young of the Illithids. Nennah uses acid to destroy the contents of two of the tanks and Therren uses targeted fire bolts on the other two to slowly eliminate the threats. Any negotiation is probably off the table from now on. Tarn and Rick provide some explanations of the Arcane magic the Illithids are using. This is very strange and is the sort of thing that would get a normal Mind Flayer kicked out of their colony.

The gang decide that there is no possibility of waiting long enough to rest as much as they’d like, but they do decide for some members to barricade these rooms and take a short rest. Therren and Nennah, who are not so injured as the rest, along with some Mephits summoned by Ethia, do a little further exploration into the next room during this time. It seems that this was once the common area and kitchen, with doors Ethia’s former bedroom and a larder. Now there are two extra bedrooms. Exploration of these reveals that they’ve been turned into Illithid quarters for Arcane using Illithids. Their books and desks have experiments and journals written in the Mind Flayers psychic language/script. These detail the Flensing claws, the cranium rats investigations on a bottle of some sort of unknown magic potion which Therren pockets. They also find information regarding the Illithids’ search for a new form of immortality now that their personalities continued existence in an Elder Brain is no longer an option. They’re looking at lichdom, but they’re not powerful enough yet. There is information indicating that there is a short cut to being undead by becoming an Alhoon. This would provide enough time to research and master true lichdom.

Therren casts Mindspeak on all but Ric and so he’s kept out of some of these conversations and revelations.

Time passes quietly, with no challenge from the rest of the dungeon, even though its inhabitants must know the party is there. They’re not far from the end of Ethia’s memories now and the ever pressing knowledge of the Devils who must be on their way keeps the group focused. What is the relationship between the Devils and The Mind Flayers? Are they Friends, Acquaintances or Enemies? Only time will tell.

Still what they’ve gone though recently leaves the party feeling like they’ve learned a lot.
(Level up to 12)

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Episode 57
Trust

The battle rages on with Tel managing to dodge around the worst of the incoming fire-power from the party as Joe and Rick continue to try and free themselves from the pillars of stone.

Tel throws out a disease afflicting Eric with a severe lack of strength as another charge from the Ring of the Ram smashes through his form.

Finally, Nennah finishes off the Water Elemental shape with a Blight spell destroying the elemental and giving Tel a serious knock to his health as well as Joe finally wiggles free from the pillar.

Tarn blasts a chunk from Tel’s shield and leg with his gun before, despite the strength issues, Eric still does considerable damage with his Great Axe.

As Tel goes to launch a Cone of Cold and many of the party, Therren opposes it with the remaining fire energy left over from the Fire Storm and a fine, warm mist suffuses the area.

Nennah steps up again with a Hold Person spell, freezing the injured druid in place as Tarn smacks him over the head with the but of his gun, knocking him out cold. Ethia then smashes the pillar pinning Rick and he lands with a cat’s grace on the floor below.

The party breath a sigh of relief and Ethia immediately snaps the Anti-Magic cuffs onto Tel. The party investigate the new room to the rear and find only a small hovel where Tel has been existing but nothing of value.

Tel is taken back out to Root and Ben and tied up in Root’s lower branches for safekeeping. The Elysium is now patrolling the area around the mountain-top.

The gang decide to rest and recuperate here for a while. Nennah cures Eric’s disease. Some discussion occurs between Rick and Tarn with Rick revealing that he’s had some adventuring experience with Goblins and Kobolds etc. He also mentions he’s had some small dealings with Devils and Mind Flayers before now Apparently Devils like contracts, but he hasn’t signed any. He intimates that he’s a rich thrill seeker type of adventurer. Tarn can’t seem to find any deceit in his words but he also thinks that Rick is the person that gave him the book and quietly reveals as much to the rest of the party. Ethia and Nennah also have some misgivings about Rick but can’t really put their finger on anything. Some of Ethia’s (and Rick’s) experiences in the prison cell are discussed to bring the party up to speed.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the party, a swarm of Cranium Rats has crawled up the stairs to observe them.

As the talk continues, moments after a comment is made about trusting Tarn, he suddenly smashes his large fist into Ethia’s head. As tarn goes nuts and begins to attack the party, Therren jumps back and fireballs him catching Rick in the blast (although he nimbly avoids the worst of it).

Ethia quickly conjures two spiders which Web Tarn into place. he’s able to get his hands free but can’t move from the spot. Eric smacks him several times with the flat of his axe. Tarns aims a massive gunshot at Nennah but his shouted warning to duck and her size allow her to duck the shot completely.

Therren is taken by a sudden fear and dimension doors back to the cave entrance thanks to a Command from the Cranium Rats.

As Nennah stumbles back into the hole in the floor she lands among a number of Cranium Rats. Joe gets a hit in with the flat of his sword and the pain of the cumulative damage on Tarn disrupts the mind control the rats have over him.

Joe now fires a siege arrow down at the rats. Nennah disappears begind her shield as an explosion of fire blows past her!

Now with many injured or dead the rats become less of a threat and Ethia and her spiders kill several more before Nennah completes the mop up with her trusty mace.

As Therren returns he uses Detect Magic on the area he sees all others due to thier various magic items but Rick’s is essentially a black hole to that sense.

Nennah now casts Light on rat and throws it down the tunnel while Ethia casts detect traps on the path ahead.

With nothing found the party head on down the hole with the Giant Spiders in the lead.

After about a hundred feet the 45 degree sloped steps end an the tunnel turns into a 10 foot diameter vertical shaft. The two spiders carry Tarn and Joe down, Rick and Nennah fly down on Ethiagle while Therren uses the spider staff’s climb ability and helps Eric down as he jams javelins into the wall as he goes.

As Therren uses the staff he suddely finds himself in a white room where he meets his cooler self. They talk for a short time and Cool-Therren suggests that Real-Therren should be less heroic and use his necromancy skills more – two words “Zombie Mindflayer”! When the “vision” ends it seems like no time has passed for Therren.

The party reach near the bottom, there is a grate just visible down below an rushing water can be heard. A ledge gives access to a door which should lead to Tel’s old quarters. After unsuccessful attempts from Joe and Tarn, Eric kicks the door in.

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Episode 56
Homecoming

Ethia, Rick and Barnas tunble out of the tree arriving at Treetips. They meet up with Matilda who fills Ethia in on where the rest of her party have gone. With his quickfire speech, Barnas explains that the wizards were being used to fuel magical rituals to bring Devils into this plain from the Nine Hells. He’d rather avoid any further excitement. Ethia tells him of a safe place, that there’s a new town being built on the site of Thundertree near Neverwinter. After some consideration, Rick asks to continue adventuring with Ethia and after taking an hour to rest and with lend of a materials pouch from Matilda to Ethia they both are transported by Matilda directly to Root.

Ethia finds herself standing on a mountain, her mountain. She’s near the top entrance, which has been altered from a small opening to a human sized passage. She remembers a tunnel from her mentor’s room which led up to a cave of bats and out to here. This way should take her down there.

Memories of Tel, her teacher come to the front of her mind. She recalls his simple, practical lessons. His love of the forest and the animals. His old wooden staff which she later learned could become a huge snake. Being constantly surprised by his abilities, like that time when they were both cornered by a ferocious panther which didn’t respond to her attempts to calm it. Suddenly, eight wolves appeared in their corner and the creature backed down. Ethia spent considerable time getting him to teach her how to do that.

Ethia also recalls the main entrance down the mountain, in a cliff side below an overhang. A cave runs back into a tunnel, a bear lived in a side tunnel which discouraged visitors, but she never bothered Ethia. After that was the chasm, a rope bridge over an underground river. There was a cave behind that with a common area and kitchen. Ethia’s room, Tel’s room and a larder all had doors in here.

Back just before the common room entrance, a hidden doorway led upwards to a solid ornate wall. A tiny hole led through it (only a druid would fit). Ethia never went beyond this, never to the artefact room, but Tel informed her that she should stay small, fly and not touch any surfaces until she reached the guardian. He said she’d be able to answer its questions, no problem.

Tel stayed to defend the land. To buy Ethia time to come back with help. Matilda hasn’t seen or heard from him.

Ethia wonders what happened to him.

Meanwhile two Intellect Devourers and a Quagoth Thrall are making trouble for the rest of the party. Tarn and Nennah feel the mental claws of the brain-dog creatures but they’re both dispatched in short order along with the Quaggoth by concentrated fire and steel from the party. In the last stages of the fight, tiny Mud Mephits emerge from the wall to protect the party as Ethia finally catches up. Joe explains that they’re here to rescue her…

After a brief reunion and some quick introductions (with Tarn having a flash of memory that he might have seen this well dressed newcomer previously) the party head quickly further into what Ethia tells them is a cave of bats.

They hear some growls which turn into weird hooting calls as they approach a larger room, eventually they come into a cave with a single pillar in the middle and a hole in the ground containing a staircase down. The sides and back contain a raised stone walkway leading to a door at the back of the cave. Tiny bat skeletons litter the floor and much of the stonework and the rear door is unfamiliar to Ethia. At each rear corner stands a huge Stegosaurus, they both look confused and are fast becoming hostile.

Joe’s awakeed mind lets him touch the mind of one of the Stegosauruses and it’s confused about how many legs it has, it’s also clearly under some sort of influence, Joe puches harder and manages to briefly gain insight into the alien mind of an Illithid before he’s pushed out altogether. It seems the residents of the mountain know that the party is here.

As the party advance, Mud mephits assailing the dinosaurs, Nennah manages to blind one Stegosaurus whilst Therren badly frightens another. As they continue forward with Ethia leading the was she takes a solid hit from the frightened Stegosaurus as the other flails madly at the mephits. Joe drops a seige arrow at his feet causing an explosion and then Eric quickly dispatches the blinded Stegosarus at which point it turns into an undamaged Quaggoth!

The door at the far end opens and in walks a elderly man with a staff. He looks older, unkempt and not really all there but Ethia recognised this as Tel. He throws down the staff and it turns into a Giant Constrictor Snake. Then he shifts form into a Water Elemental and throws up a wall of stone cutting the party in two. As the wall rises the other Stegosaurus now turns back into a Quaggoth as well.

Battle begins in earnest with occasional shots being taken at the Quaggoths but most of the firepower concentrated on the druid. As water splashes down from his injuries the wall of stone fails letting the party come back together again.

When Tel tries to call down a Firestorm that would injure the entire party, Therren steps up and counterspells it out of existence before channelling a huge fireball right back at the Water Elemental!

Ethia goes Earth elemental and after help from Eric in throwing of the giant snake takes various injuries and looses her Mephits.

The ring of the ram makes a hole in the elemental.

Nennah’s guiding bolt slams into the stone inches from Tel’s shifting form.

Joe tries a necromancy spell but unused to such magic is unable to make it work this time.

Eric meanwhile is slicing and dicing at the constrictor snake, eventually killing it, the staff appears briefly before crumbling to dust.

Tel is barely holding together when he calls upon the bones of the earth, filling the room with six pillars and trapping Joe and Rick against the ceiling.

To be continued…

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Episode 55
Response

After meeting with the leader of Everlund and ensuring that he has everything they need. The party uses Nennah’s Sanctuary to return to the ship. Therren is still somewhat in shock due to the loss of his arm during the fight. Much discussion is had about where to go next and should the party move and rest at the same time. IN the end they decide to stay put for the night and head out in the morning once they have better handle on where they should go.

Matilda attempts to scry for Ethia but is unable to find her so either she’s on another plane, dead or is being purposely hidden by magic.

Treetips is located near to one of the mountains but Ethia’s mountain is not much farther than the closest one and the party decide to head there to try to get ahead of the Pit Fiend and lay a trap for him. He doesn’t know that they can travel so fast!

During the journey, Droop helps out with Tarn on constructing a new arm for Therren. Its basic at this point, but is enough to mount his gun and be usable. It also has clip mounting for his staff. Tarn also begins work on magic to modify his Googles Of Night to allow him to see through Ben’s eyes.

A plan is hatched to try to use Nennah’s banishment spell against the Pit Fiend and then pull out of a fight, if the spell is concentrated on for enough time. He’ll be stranded back in the Nine Hells.

When they reach Dragonspire’s Peak, Nennah searches for any sign of the Fiend but none is found. In fact all life seems to be giving the area a wide berth. The party manage to spot some weird footprints in snow near the top of the mountain. On investigation they lead to a blank wall which turns out to be an illusion. A doorway has been recently extended down from a smaller high up hole in the rock face. Root jumps down from the Elysium taking very little damage and helps everyone else down through its branches. The party now head inside the doorway and are soon ambushed by a strange creature, a brain with four legs. An intellect devourer! Tarn now knows exactly the type of creatures likely to rule this mountain…

Mindflayers!

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Episode 54
Incarceration

Ethia wakes up in stone room 30×30 alone Artefact gone from her body. Poor stitches suggest she’s been kept alive.

Many hours pass before a door appears in the wall and imps chuck a metal bowl of food in.

Time is hard to gauge.

Ethia tries to cast/change but is blocked by arcane metal cuffs, she manages to get hands in front and study the lock but has no tools and is unable to pick it.

As she readies an attampt to rush out when the door comes back, she winds up smacking into a well dressed gentlman in a fine set of long sleeved robes. he often stands at ease hands behind his back. Name is Ricardo or Rick – It seems he’s also a prisoner.

From Neverwinter originally and handy with a sword, he was exploring near hell’s gate Keep and was hit by several imps.

Rick is able to pull some parts of the metal plate to bits and also has a pin on him which he’s eventually able to get her cuffs off with, they trade stories somewhat and Rick is interested in her band of friends and wants to know where she might be able to take him that’s safe. Ethia doesn’t say as she doesn’t totally trust this character, though she can’t put her finger on why not. She agrees to take him there if they can escape together.

Chip away rock, Ethia opens door in stone wall, black void out there with ither floating 30×30×30 rooms in it.

When door reforms Ethia opens a stone door again hoping to surprise but it again leads into the void. She and Rick jump the imp and she goes air elemental straigt at a Warlock in the coridoor. he smaks her witha finger of death as rick fights off the imps. Ethia smashes past the warlock and with rick in tow they reach the top od some steps opening out to 5 towers ( 1 destroyed) )and a curtain wall with doors in.

A tent is visibly with incarcerated arcanists init and red guardds around.

Ethia wants to rescur the prisoners and has rick try to do so as she causes a distracton. Firballs from Flamskull based cannons on top of the towers kock her back into Ethia form and she manageds to take over a gun and use ot to take out the top of the final tower that weas yet to fire.

Rick downs the test and sets arcainists dfree to give them an opporutinty to escape (not really what Ethia hd in mind) as th giants and devels are more concent#red with the arcanists As she runs/flys away summonong elementals for protection from the imps Rick and an arcanaist dim door out to a tree and wait for her to get them waya.

She transports all three of them to Treetips.

a big ritual had been about to go down and ethia has disrupted it and bough time, but how much?

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