A Perilous Journey

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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Episode 53
The King in Crimson Comes

Direct and immediate attack. Ethia erupting earth twice.

Nennah summoning spirit guardians to help deal with guards/ rescue civilians, firing off various spells the PF shrugs off. Also tries to summon help from Deity but Mystra not listening at the moment.

Joe doing consistent damage and wrestling with imps for his bow.

Tarn up on tower, gets FB’d and tail whipped badly, Ethia darts out to heal him and exposes herself in non-animal form to the PF who knocks her out.

Isodol Staggers into view and fires off a massive bolt of lightening. Also tries Bigby’s hand but FB’d to unconscious.

Therren/Eric combo with Dimension door, Eric attacks and action surges then cloak bamfs out again.

Horn taken off the PF by Eric’s Ring blast?

Pit Fiend accuses Therren of Hiding the Artefact, senses Ethia has it now and tries to take her.

Invisible entity (same one as before) attacks Therren, ask what he’s been doing to mask the Artefact.

Eric flys after the PF as Joe targets long range arrows. PF Fb’s Eric again and again, as Therren bamfs onto Ethia’s legs dangling from the PF trying to get an opportunity to heal her/wake her. PF smaks Therren full on with firey axe and betwwen this and the fall damage almost kills him outright. As Therren loses concentration, Eric falls.

Pit fiend flys low into town buildings to avoid Joe’s arrows and makes it away heavily wounded but with an unconscious Ethia (and Artefact) in tow.

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Episode 52
Lore of the Jungle

Also over the previous month…

  • Tarn has remembered a few things and has journeyed back to Neverwinter to pick up his things including a Thundercannon, a weapon of his own design and a Magical/Mechanical Dire Wolf construct named Gentle Ben He’s also created a couple of magical coins and has been working on some prototype explosive arrows for Joe.
  • Therren has learned the spells Levitate and Comprehend Languages from the other wizards in town and after a meeting with Droop and Tarn, he has managed with a little help from Droop to manufactured another Thundercannon based on Tarn’s original design.
  • Ethia has spent some time Awakening various trees within the town, she has persuaded them to reform and grow their branches together to naturally form the Druid school building before the magic dissipates. One tree called Root becomes her friend and companion.
  • Therren manages to translate the Tome they stole from the lair of Maruuig, the gist is as follows:

The book is incomplete, it’s a book of prophecy and it starts speaking of the Dark Spider’s attack, then talks of a cleansing of the world by a beholder named Maruuig, it says that as Neverwinter darkens he will kill many, that the world would tremble at his actions and that he will ride to his destiny on a giant scorpion as…

..other pages are missing. The front cover shows the symbol of the Legion of the Crimson King, the back shows three gems that might be the same as the ones the party received from Mutt.

  • After clearing it with Captain Winston, Nennah has created a shrine to Mystra on board the Elysium and cast Sanctuary there to enable her to instantly teleport the party back to the ship at any time.
  • Arranis decides to leave for Neverwinter to act as a representative of the OOtG and a spy on the ground for the party. He will also try to kick off investigations into how the Lich might be defeated again. He’s heading via Phandalin to drop off the pieces of the Vitas’ sword to Palich in the hope that it can be re-forged in the Forge of spells at Wave Echo Cave.

…And now:

As the party make final preparations to leave Neverwinter on to the next leg of their adventures Quelline reminds them the that Liberty Project whatever it is, has taken arcanists in the direction they’re going to be heading. She says that Gillmott, the grand Vizier to Lord Neverember (and the head of our 5th column) has told her that the Widow Black and Cleric Corsair were expecting the coming of the Crimson King soon. This might tie up with the thunder and lightning show the party heard last night.


The Elysium flies toward the High Forest with the crew and the party aboard. Now also including (with grudging permission from the Captain) a Shrine, a huge sentient tree called Root, a Dire Wolf construct and a bigger swear box.

Errk is visibly nervous about going home and Therren decides to approach him about the possibility of flying again using the fly spell. Errk takes up the offer and it seems to help him. He’s now very interested in using his new-found long life to learn to become a wizard in order to be able to take to the skies at will once more.

When they get close to Treetips, the Aaracockra settlement, Zeek flies ahead as the ship slows, she meets with other Aaracockra and secures mooring permission over the forest. The Elysium is tied off to a tall tree and the party descend on rope ladders (leaving Root and Gentle Ben behind).

The village is made from woven tree branches, living and dead with shiny coins scattered hear and there but there are no bridges, ladders or guardrails. Therren nicks a few coins but the Aaracockra don’t seem to care. The mooring tree’s branches form a stairway downward which seems to have been magically arranged. At the base of the tree the party meets an elderly Aaracockra (perhaps 10 years old) who greets Zeek and after some explanations, Errk. He’s happy that they’ve come but suggests that an individual called Matilda living in a more standard structure (a nest/teepee) nearby will be able to better explain the issues they’re facing.


Matilda turns out to be a female halfling Archdruid, a wise old lady nearing the end of her long life. She tells the party about the history of the Hellmouth…

In this area where five magical Ley Lines intersect, the border between the material plane and Avernus (the first level of the Nine Hells) has always been very thin. Those who would summon Devils have frequented the area for many years as the process is much easier here. Perhaps 900 years ago, a band of heros came together to defeat the threat posed by large numbers of Devils massing on our plane. They lead their final assault out of the now ruined Hellgate Keep, wielding powerful weapons and carrying Artefacts they forged themselves in the form of keys used to lock up the Hellmouth forever! These artefacts used to seal Hell’s Gate could also, in the wrong hands, be used to force it open. After the battle, five druids and their apprentices took charge of the artefacts and there positions on/in each of the five tallest peaks around Hell’s Gate were reinforced with cunning traps and defended from those who would take them. Over time though the Devils left in the world and those who were summoned from elsewhere realised that with the Hellmouth closed their numbers were dwindling. They influenced various creatures to begin to take territory controlled by the Druids. One by one each peak fell. Tel, Ethia’s mentor tasked her to flee with his Artefact and Matilda was the last to leave after that, driven out by a Purple Worm which had been lured to her mountatin by Imps, she was nearly killed and lost her Artefact in the process. She came to live with the Aaracockra as she healed.

Matilda explains the lay of the land and the types of creatures that now inhabit various areas as shown below:
High_Forest.png

Matilda also reveals details about four of the artefacts, a Bone Knife was at Sharp Edge, a Stag Skull at Misty Mountain, a Wooden Shield at Slab Tor and an Iron Arrow at Hinkey Point.

It turns out that Isodor also visited this settlement and spoke to Matilda, he was looking into the Liberty Project and trying to find information about what was going on at Hell’s Gate. He was last known to be heading for Everlund to speak to the Elves.

The party discuss the merits of where to go next and how to travel there. Hell’s Gate or HellGate Keep are the favourites.

Nennah suggests combining the artefact with the gems but Ethia is not keen in this idea.

During this discussion Tarn reveals that he remembers being given the Tome of Prophecy by a richly dressed but unidentified human male in Neverwinter, he was tasked to take it to the head of the DEA. He did so and began to leave the island but was captured and interrogated by Maruuig.

The parties deliberations are interrupted by a message from the Aaracockra relaye by Zeek. Everlund seen from afar, seems to be on fire!

Our heroes discuss how to get there and back quickly. In the end they ask Matilda to use Transport via Plants, with Ethia preparing the same spell for the return journey.


As they reach Everlund they’re confronted by scene of devastation; some red guards, captured elves in caged wagons, and a huge pit fiend lording over the process. He kills some fleeing elves as the party watches from hiding on the edge of the village.

The party are are outraged and after a quick glance around, seeing that the monster appears alone they decide to take the opportunity to launch a surprise attack!

To be continued…

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Episode 51
New Thundertree

Errk, Zeek and Nephenee are left outside Neverwinter as Ethia and Therren sneak back to meet the ship and warn them of trouble.

As they reach the docks, they spot about twenty of the red guard taking positions to ambush the approaching ship. They sneak onto the dockside and get up close to the mooring point.


Meanwhile on Elysium, as they land in the water and begin rowing into port, Eric spots some guards hiding in a ship near where they’ll berth. As they close in further Eric, Joe & Nennah between them spot a fisherman flashing some sort of signal or code to them.

They call over Captain Winston to read it.


Ethia and Therren’s warning/attack kicks in as a Tidal Wave sweeps over the ship with the guards on it, revealing all of them and taking many of them off their feet. Moments later Therren and Ethia Dimension Door onto the Elysium.


The Captain says the message was to “hide the Wizard”. Therren now appears before him.

Assessing the situation, the party tell the captain to abort the docking! The Elysium lifts up again, aided by Therren heating the air and Ethia lifting it from the water with another Tidal surge which knocks flat a few more guards.

The guards open fire with heavy crossbows. Bolts splinter off and into the wood of the hull and clatter off the leather armour of the balloon, some finding purchase.

Joe wounds a guard and kills another with well placed archery.

Therren casts Gust of Wind to aid the ship in speeding away from the attack as the crew return fire, thinning the enemy ranks slightly. More incoming fire further damages the Elysium, but not as much as the last volley.

As the ship speeds towards Castle Never and turns sharply to avoid it, a few last bolts shatter of its hull and then the party is clear.

They pick up the stragglers from outside Neverwinter and set a course for New Thundertree.


Nearing the end of the day, they arrive to find a tower of wooden scaffolding where the Dragon’s home used to be, this tower is high enough to dock the Elysium to. Down below is an area cleared of trees twice the size of the old village (incorporating some of it) and surrounded by a 10’ wall.

Foundations have been laid all over inside the cleared area and a large shanty town type affair is visible as there are partly build structures all over.

The keep is only a single story and still under construction. A large log cabin building stands out, as does a building made of of six remaining trees with animal skins hung between them.

They are beckoned to dock by someone on the tower and the skyship pulls in. A wizard levitates a gang plank over and it’s secured by ropes.

The halfling rogue Meadowin Took awaits the party on the docking tower, smiling.

She tells them a little about the town and the fact that Quelline may have gone over budget and a little beyond their instructions in a few places.

Everyone debarks and heads down for an evening of fun.

Meadowin shows the party to their home in the main hall of their keep and a small dining hall just off it, the only rooms totally completed.

They are introduced to Hoskins, their head of house, a polite dwarf with an english accent.

Once the room is sealed with Hoskins guarding the door Meadowin goes over to a statues to the right of the fireplace and presses its arm upward, a passageway is revealed in the corner of the room to a downward spiral staircase.

Meadowin explains the the old druid, Reidoth, who lived here had found access to an old existing dungeon under the village and they’ve been able to re-purpose much of it as well as adding new passages themselves. Careful use of builders and arcane memory magic means that few people know of the existence or extensiveness of the underground portion of the the keep.

Meadowin shows the party to a meeting room which contains a crescent shaped table. Of the corridor opposite are small plain but serviceable rooms for all the party members.

She tells them what she knows of Neverwinter regarding the persecution of the arcane users, Quelines quest to help funnel magic users to them and her use of such people combined with buying magically enhanced tools from Phandalin to speed up the project.

After the discussion, the group head up for a drink at the bar, the barman is a portly human male of few words. A sign above him says “please do not ask for credit”.

A ruby from Therren is enough to set up a tab for the party and the crew of Elysium.

Therren conjures a rope trick above one of the tables and rounds up some arcane users to take up to his private room and Jacuzzi.

Nennah, after asking the barkeep, puts up some pictures of a man and a boy she’s searching for.

Joe tries to talk to some ladies, but eventually the drink gets the better of him.

Eric contents himself with quiet drink. as Ethia heads off to meet one of her school’s new students, the precocious “Summer” who after impressing her with knowledge of the local flora and fauna, transforms into a bear cub and leads her away to spend the night in a bear’s cave.

The party decide to spend some recovery time in New Thundertree and get some R&R over the next month.

During this time…

  • Eric sets the DEA payments into motion securing the organisation for their own use, he also journeys to the nearby office that the party previously visited and sorts if out to be used again.
  • Nennah and other clerics work on replicating an antidote for iteration IV and distribute it amongst the population.
  • Ethia begins teaching her students, two girls and two boys, including Summer.
    Over this time her artefact begins to grow warm, then hotter and hotter, she and Therren think it’s linked to the magic of the Hellmouth somehow.
  • Joe continues to be haunted by dreams suggesting he should seek a particular person and do them harm.
  • Nephenee takes her leave of the group to head off to Evermeet to speak to her father about the disease and the encounter with the Drow.
  • Therren begins learning more tinkering skills as well as trying to learn new spells from the other arcane users.
    He notices that the front cover of the book they can’t read has a similar symbol to that on the uniform of the Legion of the Crimson King (the red guard). The circular objects depicted on the back cover could be the stones the party received during their strange dream on returning to the ship.
  • The crew of the Elysium are released to do business elsewhere and to return after a month.
  • Tarn joins in with the building work and tries to remember more about his past.

After a month Errk has gotten used to his body somewhat and no longer falls to the ground when trying to fly every few minutes, he and Zeek are anxious to head home.

The party agree to head up to the High forest to help Errk and Zeek.

Quelline returns, and after a night in the pub meets with the party telling them more of the new cleric who’s running Neverwinter on behalf of the widow black (who seems to be second in command to Lord Neverember). Black seems to be accompanied by a dark hooded figure at almost all times.
After meeting Nennah, Quelline tells her that she thinks the Cleric, Connor Corsair, looks like an older version of the young boy in the photo! Nennah is now desperate to go back to Neverwinter, but agrees that this issue should be confronted by the whole party and that the urgency of their commitments to the Aaracockra takes priority for now.

That night, as they prepare to leave the next day, a rumble of thunder and a massive fork of lightning strike North in the direction of the forest! The atrefect goes cold and returns to normal.

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Episode 50
Reincarnation

After the events of the night’s “dream” the party gather slowly for breakfast.

Noticing that the crew seem subdued, Nephenee asks Lissa (the Elven ranger) what’s up. Lissa explains what they’d not been told yesterday. Apparently as the ship waited for the group to return from within Ruathym, the Wyvern returned and attacked. The ship sustained minor damage and they were able to fight off and slay the beast, but not without the loss of one of the crew, Errk (the Aaracockra Fighter and Brother of Zeek, the rogue).

As Ethia and Therren ask about Zeek, they’re told she’s been up in the crow’s nest ever since. Therren (who knows all about Aaracockra Rituals from some random book he’s read), tells them that they’re usually cremated in a great nest in a tall tree. They hate the idea of being buried or grounded. However when the Captain joins th conversation they learn that Errk’s body was swallowed by the Wyvern.

Ethia casts locate object to search for feathers that might have belonged to Errk – she finds a few scattered about the ship and goes to speak to Zeek. As Zeek opens up a little about her brother, Ethia offers the possibility of Reincarnating Errk though she can’t guarantee that he’d return as an Aaracockra, his new body could be one of many possible races – he’d lose the ability to fly! Zeek is troubled by this dilemma, she wants her brother back, feels that the world may need his expertise, but fears he may hate not being an Aaracockra. She tells Ethia she’ll think about it.

Also that morning, Tarn the Blue Dragonborn has a flash of recollection. He remembers bits and pieces of his imprisonment for perhaps a month, and portions of interrogation by something with a number of eyes. Strangely despite his size and power, he was not selected for “testing” only interrogated. He remembers the Strange book that the party found in the safe and recalls carrying it himself at some point – however he can’t read the contents. Tarn offers his skills to help out Captain Winston with ship repairs, but doesn’t manage to persuade him that it’s a good idea.

Ethia, now looking further into what’s needed for the spell, finds that she needs rare oils and Uungents in order to perform it, and it must be done in 10 days. However they’re 13 days from Neverwinter where such things could be bought. Enter Therren who reveals that after considerable study he can now perform the Transportation Circle spell, and he knows of a secret circle in Neverwinter which he can get them to instantly! Arranis suggests that some of the party should stay on the ship to guard the majority of the antidote. Therren also advocates a small party size as they’re not really all supposed to use this circle. It’s decided that if Zeek agrees, then she, Ethia, Therren and Nephenee will go.

Over the next day the group manage to look into some of the paperwork taken from Maruuig’s lair. Although Therren has primarily been looking into how to construct a Golem controlling Amulet. They deduce the following:

  • They have a paper trail involving a Neverwinter company called Rainbow Fisheries, whose shipments of “Fish” seem to tie up with other shipments of weapons and drugs.
  • There is considerable accounting passing though an organisation called Manycoins Monylending in Neverwinter.
  • There are operational satellite DEA offices in Neverwinter, Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate. Each one employs about 50 people. Payroll is expected to happen again in three weeks, They have cipher books and contacts to communicate with the office heads.

A discussion takes place about whether they should simply disband the organisation, or use it for some purpose of their own. Eric weighs in suggesting that access to manpower their potential enemies don’t know about (which exists outside of their known sphere of influence in New Thundertree) could be a useful thing to have in reserve. Can the party pose as Maruuig?, Should they announce new DEA leadership? No final decision is reached about the future of the DEA.

Zeek interrupts to say that against her better judgement, she’s decided to go ahead with the ritual.

The sub-party take the bag of holding with them and before leaving Therren casts Rary’s Telepathic Bond on himself, Ethia, Arranis, Eric, Zeek, Nephenee, the Captain and a random member of the crew who was scrubbing the deck. This will allow their exploits to be known to the rest of the party in real time (for an hour anyway).

Therren completes his chalk markings (to the annoyance of the deck scrubber) and the circle spell activates whisking those chosen away toward Neverwinter (with some cool special effects).

They arrive an a carved stone circle in a dusty warehouse. A box of first aid supplies is the only prominent item. Weak light filters through windows lining the tops of the walls. After Therren sweeps dust back over the circle, Nephenee casts Pass Without Trace on the group and spots a tell on the door which seems count the number of times the exit door is used. Therren advises not to mess with it. The group exit south of the river opposite Castle Never between the Sleeping Dragon bridge to the West and the Winged Wyvern bridge to the East. After slipping out of the alley they’re in the busy docks district and manage to blend in easily despite the greater than normal guard presence and the bird lady in toe.

Ethia is unsure of where to go for the items she needs so they head back to the shopping district they were last in, crossing a damaged Dolphin Bridge (open to foot traffic only) near Izodol’s Interesting Items. There they find a suitable shop, but over the road at III they see two guard carts screech to a halt, one open backed and another royal looking carriage with armour and rich dark coverings over the windows. A dozen of the new red guards spread out some entering the premises of III. Therren notices a symbol similar to a fanged bat wing on their outfit They’re followed by a dark robed female figure wearing a silver spider face mask and walking with a slight limp. As the guards appear to sack the shop a group of commoners nearby shout insults towards the shop and cheer the guards on as other studiously avoid the area.

In the shop with Ethia, the owner is worried about Mary in III, she says Izodol has been missing for couple of weeks, since the rise of the anti-arcanist sentiment. Ethia is able to buy the supplies she needs and heads outside near Therren. Nephenee moves into the crowd to get a sense of what they’re saying.

The guards and the hooded figure leave, taking with them everything not nailed down and loading the magical and mundane items onto the open cart. After they leave the crowd moves in yelling at the crying Mary in the doorway. Nephenee steps forward to defend her and tries to catch a thrown rock but misses as it cracks a window. She catches the next but just drops it, not wanting to provoke anything. Her abilities give the leader a moment’s pause.

Ethia subtly charms the ringleader and another outspoken member of the crowd and convinces them that this one crying woman isn’t worth their time. They grumpily disperse.

The group ask Mary what’s been happening an learn about the recent persecution of the Arcane users since the Black Spider’s attack and the rumor that the disease in the harbour was of their creation. These new guards – the legion of the Crimson King are mede up of new people from outside and some who have joined from within the current city guard. They also learn that Izodol is investigating what’s happening to missing arcane users. Some of those supposedly executed have not been the same people as the bodies disposed of. So where did they go?

The telepathy spell runs out abut now.

The party escort Mary home and leave Neverwinter finding a secluded glade about a days ride East on the edge of Neverwinter woods.
There they perform the reincarnation ritual and bring back…

…a stout halfling Errk.

Errk is panicked and disturbed by this strange turn of events and tries to fly off only to fall flat on his face. Nephenee does her best to explain what’s happened and he seems somewhat happy to be alive, but worried by his inability to fly, he can’t even chirp properly anymore when talking to Zeek. He runs off to the opposite edge of the glade to take in the enormity of what’s happened.

The sub-party know to be back in Neverwinter in 12 days time, ready to meet the ship as it comes in with their friends aboard.

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