A Perilous Journey

Episode 77
Food for the Soul

Joe comes to consciousness slowly and then is hit with many fragmented images:

  • Battling in the tower room.
  • Driving off Zennet Miller.
  • An arrow from Vascious combined with the fiery breath of the hounds.
  • Waking tired and helpless in the clutches of Zennet as he informs Joe that he will be a slave from now on and that he will be paying for his crimes forever…
  • Fangs biting down.
  • Waking again scared and confused, his friends above him… …Nennah stabbing him with a crossbow bolt.
  • Fighting Zennet’s will and losing.
  • Finally being free of the will as he feels Zennet die…

-/-

The party grab a set of heavy cloaks the vampires have been using and try to exit cellar incognito.
They just about manage to bluff their way past a couple of distracted guards and decide to continue the ruse across the main floor of the castle.

They manage to find the stairs down to cellar they came in from when a passing Hell Hound notices their scent, as it pulls at its handler, he turns at the wrong moment spying the short figures in cloaks far too long for them and sounding the alarm.

The gang go into a mad dash running away from the hound, hurling ammunition and spells back at it to slow its much quicker pace! Sleep_,_Blindness, cross bow bolts and a levitation spell slam into the creature, but it’s a well timed shot from Eric at a Chandelier rope which finally traps the beast, now beaten down allowing another Sleep spell to end its pursuit.

The party manage to maintain their lead through the twists and turns making it out into the escape tunnel and back into the city. Meadowin jams the cellar lock behind them as they reach street level again, ducking back into cover as a Horned Devil flies overhead.

-/-

Meanwhile Therren has come to rescue the group vie the Harpers’ Teleportation Circle. Making his way out into the city, dressed in armour and carrying no staves to hide his wizard abilities, he stands guard near the castle, waiting for something to happen that might signify the presence of his friends.

He dowsn’t have to wait long, suddenly a passing merchant loses control of several horsesat the caslte gates at eh same time as an explosion rings out from the tower of the Hall of Justice. Therren heads towards this.

On arriving, he finds the Clasp in battle with red guards and on not finding any clues to the party wherabouts he turns to mist to aid in staying out of danger.

Curious at the proceeding, Therren follows Peren (one of the prisoners being rescued) when he heads back into the the lower dungeon area and retrieves some sort of orb, apparently, Peren felt this was worth risking his life for. Theren intercedes saving Peren by teleporting him back to the rest of the Clasp using Dimension Door.

At this point the guards fall back and devils take to the field, strngely not attacking. Then from below a throng of Lemures emerge to swamp the defenders. Even though they take many Lemures with them, several Clasp members fall under the weight of numbers in this assault.

Therre and Peren make it out though and quickly out-distance their pursuers heading back to Clasp HQ under the Shining Serpent Inn via tunnels and sewers.

-/-

The main party dodge Devils and guards heading back to the Shining Serpent, intimidating a jobs-worth young man tending the bar into letting them go downstairs in the back room.

Everyone meets up in the cellar and discusses events. Peren reveals the orb and between Therren and Nennah, they decide it’s a soul. This must be what the devils are using for food. It would seem they’re being extracted from people in the Hall of justice. The soul orb ends up in the Bag of Holding.

After discussion with Keri and Peren the group decide to head to a Clasp safe house and raise Lord Neverember from dead. Peren will be the Clasps contact with him.

Keri finds that Joe seems strangely distant towards her.

-/-

Once they’re in the safe house Meadowin finds a diamond on Neverember which they can use to power the resurrection spell. They also they steal his magical cloak.

Nennah uses the diamond to perform the resurrection spell, summoning Neverember’s soul back from beyond and restoring his body to life.

Neverember takes this all in stride, apparently it’s not the first time he’s been dead and they talk to him, bringing him up to speed on current events and trying to decide their next move.

Connor’s name comes up and they reckon if they can convince him that Neverember was killed by the Devils he might be able to work for them and turn the men.

It difficult to get Connor and Neverember together without risking Neverember’s life though.

Eventually the group decide to go to New Thundertreee and get Ethia’s help with their transport issues, then maybe go to meet the troops wherever they’ve camped en route to Thundertree and sneak Connor out and back quickly overnight.

Joe makes a request of Peren. A live pig for breakfast.

Having made a plan, the group close their eyes and fall into a long rest.

it will be noon on day 1 of the troops’ march by the time they awaken.

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Episode 76
Grave

Meadowin, Eric, Nephenee and Nennah head stealthily off to the wine cellar where they’ve been lead to believe the vampire has his lair. Nephenee casting Pass Without Trace on the party to help prevent them from being discovered.

Upon reaching the area above the cellar, Nephenee scouts out the cellar using Shadow Step to transport herself down through a large hatch with a hoist/crane above it. She is in the middle one of three chambers, ahead of her is a freshly dug and covered grave, there are vampires about, left and right. Back upstairs two guards stand at the entrance to the stairs.

After coming back up, Nephenee tries to charm and convince two guards to leave and attend to something elsewhere. She’s successful with one but the other seems unconvinced. After a brief altercation the second guard finally decides to leave, backing away, and Nephenee signals that the party should take him out! Meadowin tries to shoot him, missing. however Nennah hits with a crossbow and Nephenee Shadow Steps ahead to finish him off.

After some brief further planning Nephenee casts silence over the area of the crane while Meadowin oils and then controls the crane mechanism to lower Eric down.

Nephenee Shadow Steps down and Meadowin and Nennah climb down the rope.

Nephenee and Eric stay back behind some crates while Nephenee re-casts Silence over the grave as Meadowin and Nennah head over to it. On her way Meadowin spots vampires and signals the party to wait till they’ve gone to bed which they seem to be close to doing.

Soon, with the vampires sleeping, they uncover the coffin with their bare hands in Silence.

Opening the lid, the party finds Joe, apparently dead.

-/-

Nennah stands with an arrow raised over Joe’s chest and Nephenee holds the SunBlade at the ready while Meadowin checks Joe’s pulse. he’s definately dead. Suddenly Joe grabs Meadowin’s arm. His panicking voice echoes in the minds of the party, confused, frightened asking for help. he complains of bing unable to fight the control of Zennet Miller and then the mind speak ceases. Joe’s eyes go blank and he begins to get up in a menacing manner.

Nennah stabs down into Joe’s chest with an arrow, paralysing him.

Zennet’s voice call out to the party as they hear coffin lids hitting the ground and Nephenee lights the sword causing wisps of smoke to rise form Joe’s flesh.

“Get the sword” yells Zennet as he casts Charm on Meadowin who is caught off guard and succumbs to his will. “Why did Nennah stab Joe”, she thinks, “He’s our friend and I should help him”.

Eric, providing a rearguard is now fighting two vampire spawn in the other room.

Despite Nennah’s attempts to pin Joe under the coffin lid, Meadowin pushes past and pulls out the arrow, releasing him from his paralysis and he now cries out in agony from the sunlight shed by the sword.

Zennet swoops in, grabs Nennah and starts to drink from her neck, pulling her away and upwards.

Nennah brandishes her shield and casts Turn Undead, One vampire spawn and Joe are affected and start to run away. Despite her proximity Zennet summons his legendary vampire powers to resist the compulsion of the spell.

As Meadowin stands dazed and Nennah is held aloft by Zennet, Nepehnee starts to burn through his coffin with the Sun Blade.

In response Zennet drops Nennah and starts to try to hit Nephenee who focuses her energies on a Patient Defence through which Zennet is mostly unable to break.

As he swing ineffectually Nepehnee slams him again and againwith the Sun Blade that’s slowly burning his flesh away as well as preventing him from healing. She also tries to stun him with a massive blow but somehow he stays lucid and continues to try to attack or pin her.

With no orders to the contrary, Meadowin helps Eric with the other vampire spawn allowing him in turn to pin down Joe and prevent him from running away from Nennah’s Turn Undead spell.

Seeing Nephenee barely keeping Zennet at bay, Nennah slams him with two Guiding Bolts which give Nephenee the opportunity to finish him off, with her sword in his chest she bashes his head repeatedly until his whole body turns to dust from the inside out releasing Joe from his will.

As Joe continues to cower in a corner crying out in pain, Nennah drops her Turn Undead.

Joe is now once again in control of his own body, and very confused…

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Episode 75
Sibling Rivalry

Nennah’s Story

Nennah remembers a few confused images and a sensation of movement before finding herself (held slightly aloft due to her size) manacled to a wall in a dungeon. Her wounds tended somewhat she find herself unable to cry out due to a gag, she has no shield to focus her magic and her hands are not free to cast spells. Frustrated she begins to work some lime from the walls into one of her hands and wrist in the hope that she can ease the human sized manacles over her slim halfling wrists.

Footsteps in the distance herald company. Guards move a prisoner from opposite to her down to another cell and then leave the block leaving her to meet a single person who unlocks and enters her cell. Connor. Her brother.

He’s come to see the Halfling priest who tricked him, angry that he fell for such a ruse. He trusted her though he cannot explain why. During th course of the conversation, Nennah leads him toward the truth until he suddenly seizes her hand and examines the ring that he remembers.

Now knowing that she’s his sister Connor decides to help her avoid a hanging. Nennah tries to convince Connor that he’s on the wrong side and he tries to convince her of the same. he tells her he is duty bound to eliminate Thundertree.

In the short term though, he agrees to release her bonds and leave the door ajar. Nennah will have to do the rest. They decide to talk again, soon. Both seemingly determined to save the other.

Now free to move, Nennah quietly moves up the stairs past an empty guard post and finds her gear and weapons, all except her Elven Dagger of Warning which is not present.

She moves on to another guard post, which has a view on a corridor she must use. Nennah uses Thaumaturgy to make a closet door fly open, and as the guards investigate she passes stealthily behind them heading back into the castle.

Eric and Meadowin’s Story

Eric and Meadowin manage to dodge the patrols for a while, but the blood dripping from Eric is clearly helping the following hounds. Trapped with only one way to go, them emerge into a laundry/wash-room. Meadowin throws some sheets at Eric as he leaves a decoy blood trail and runs back wrapped up to avoid spreading blood. An exhaustive look at the shelves reveals nothing to mask the scent though and they can hear the enemy closing fast. Eric spots a barrel t hide in, but the interior of the wash tub contains a mechanism that prevents him from fitting. Meanwhile Meadowin, spots a disused Dumb-waiter hatch and manages to undo the fastenings. With some brute force help from Eric to get the ancient boards to move they now have a hiding place! No sooner do they get inside hanging from the ropes with the hatch sealed behind them than the hounds arrive. Sniffing, they continue down the stairs.

They continue shuffling down the shaft, retrieving the Immovable Rod for aid, reaching the waiter itself and them moving it downwards with them until finally reaching the bottom where they are unable to exit due to the waiter being in the way.

A lone chef is trying out a new recipe in the dead of night.

Meadowin’s small form manges to fit through the gap and she sneaks up and brains the chef with a pan knocking him out cold.

Eric then smashes his way out of the dumb-waiter.

Together they hide the body in a pantry and scoff scones and drink wine as they tend to their wounds.

Moving out again they head for the lower levels.

Ethia’s Story

It’s been a long day, the work is done. Tel is resting peacefully now and on the mend. Ethia decides to try a chance Scry and sees Eric and Meadowin working their way down a shaft and into a kitchen, their wounds and predicament indicate that things are perhaps not going well in Neverwinter.

Nephenee’s Story

Nephenee with her incredible stealth combined with an ability to walk between shadows, runs the guards and hounds a merry chase; Distracting them and leading them away from the rest of the party, but in doing so she also loses herself.

After a brief rest she instinctively heads downwards and locates a guard post so as to listen in on proceedings, finding out that at least one prisoner has been taken. As the guards leave for their assignments, she jumps down from the ceiling and bundles a startled Lieutenant Pharder into the guardroom, subduing him and tying him up.

A brief interrogation reveals that a prisoner is being held just two floors down. However no maps or other useful equipment can be found. Nephenee tells Pharder of the death of Lord Neverember, but he’s not totally convinced.

Nephenee now heads toward the dungeons seeking Nennah.

Reunion

The members of the party all heading for roughly the same area happen upon each other within minutes and exchanging information.

It seems that no-one knows where Joe is.

The party head back to the guards Nennah slipped past and Nephenee casts sleep on them allowing the party to tie them up in the cells for an interrogation. They learn that Joe was “given to the Vampire” and that it’s possible it has quarters on the other side of the castle in a former wine cellar.

Nephenee tries again to tells the guards of Lord Neverember’s death. They’re also not totally convinced, but one of them does offer some more information. He tells them that from what he understood. Given to the vampire meant “fed to the vampire”.

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Episode 74
Vascious

Eric readies has stance to take out Miller as he begins to sweep unnaturally quickly towards Joe. Whirling like smoke Miller avoids two of Eric’s Axe blows whilst another clangs off of armour hidden under his robes. After whispering to his box, Joe slams two arrows into MIller, either of which would have felled a normal man but they hardly phase him.

Meanwhile Vascious flickers and becomes two images, then shimmers again and becomes eight – shooting arrows then ducking away on th balcony breaking sight behind pillars and then re-appearing to surprise the party. She also employs a Mage Hand to distract members of the group allowing her to catch them off guard as she places very precise shots. Nephenee tries to lock her down with a Darkness spell, but she just moves away from where it was cast.

Most of the party are concentrating their weapons and magic on Zennet Miller to devastating effect, even as they see some of his injuries heal up, blood does start to drip over the next twenty seconds as Miller ploughs forward to seize Joe by the throat, he throws back his hood and reveals his fangs as he tries to bite Joe but at the last moment Joe manges to struggle back and Miller bites metal. It would seem that Zennet Miller is now a vampire. Harried by the party he jumps up onto the wall but is now too weak from his injuries to pull Joe up with him. With a Sunblade now on the battlefield wielded by Nephenee, Miller decides to make a temporary retreat, he turns to mist and begins to drift away.

Part of the fight has moved to the next room and the part can hear guards and dogs rushing towards their location from the castle just as a Horned Devil summoned by Vascious crashes through the window of Lord Neverember’s room.

As the party senses that the fight is turning against them they begin to form up to have Nennah transport them back to their sanctuary on board the Elysium. Eric is doggedly pursuing Miller though and feels that they’re very close to finishing him off.

Eric’s pursuit takes him out into the hallway into the path of two Hellhounds who both light him up simultaneously as Miller vanishes around the far corner.

As the Horned Devil smashes people around and the flanked party get ready to teleport away, Nephenee manages to use her Sunblade to deduce which is the correct Vascious and finally lands a solid hit, the eight images become four for a few seconds before her magic recommences.

The party are now huddled together with enemies closing and the hounds inhaling when Nennah finally releases her most powerful magic using it to power her transportation spell. She moves her hands, speaks the words and the magic flows into her palms and begins to move outward to the rest of the party, but suddenly the spell sputters and fades, dripping out of her grasp and vanishing as it falls towards to floor. Her eyes move to meet Vascious’ eyes as she finishes the familiar gesture of Counterspell!

The party is now trapped here.

-/-

Immediately Meadowin calls for retreat and begins to move towards the staircase they came up. The rest of the party begin to follow fighting a holding action to try to make an orderly retreat. Joe who is comparatively uninjured stays back a little to cover the rest of them. Now things go from bad to worse, Eric still badly hurt goes down but magical healing gets him back up. Nennah avoids the bite of one hound only to stagger towards the other which almost tears her throat out! She’s down unconscious, soon Eric joins her again and after a healing potions returns her to health, instead of running she casts healing magic across the whole party. Meadowin, Flint are sliding down a bannister and they stop and set a sword ready to catch an unlucky pursuing guard with Nephenee close behind. As everyone else makes the final run for the stairs, Joe is flanked by Vascious and the Horned Devil and goes down fighting, as does Nennah just as Eric disappears around the corner, bleeding heavily and in no condition to help them.

As the remaining conscious party member flee downwards, bleeding an broken looking for a way out, Vascious and her troops encircle the downed forms of Joe and Nennah. “Stabilise them” says Vascious. “We’ll have another for the execution in the morning. And this one. This one’s for my father!”

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Episode 73
Carpet Burns

With help from Keri, Joe has procured a disguise and made it into the lower levels of the castle to join up with Eric, who is keeping watch on the guard post whilst the rest of the party investigate an alternative route.

Eric and Joe hear an alarm bell ring and two guards reluctantly head towards them complaining about vampires.
The guards enter the corridor only to find similarly dressed Eric and Joe 30’ ahead acknowledging them. Eric and Joe have a faster pace and the guards seems happy to let them go first.

Meanwhile the rest of the party have just killed their ambushers and dragged the vampire bodies back into their coffins when Eric and Joe enter the ante-room. Nephenee realises their identity half a second before the party would have attacked and they decide to stay hidden and let Joe and Eric talk their way out of it.

The guards are easily convinced and head back to their posts complaining about the impending removal of their office rugs as a precaution after a recent incident with a snoring Hell Hound. The party is left to follow at their leisure.

After some discussion, it’s decided that Joe and Eric will distract the guards at the post to allow the rest of the group, also dressed as guards, to walk past unnoticed. The plan is executed flawlessly and they continue on deeper into the castle, keeping their nerves when encountering a bearded devil and a Hell Hound who gives the group no more than a passing glare.

Not really knowing where to go to find the Butler the party eventually spot some servants carrying linen and locate some back stairs and a utility room. They continue using these stairs until they track down one of the servants and accuse him of stealing from the rooms. They ask that they be taken to the butler immediately.

The poor servant does as asked and scrapers at the first opportunity. The Butler turns out to be a very drunken dwarf with a desk full of keys. He’s ranting about how things used to be in the old days and thay he’s shown no “repsekt” any-more and the Lord didn’t used to be like this.

The group manage to convince him to show them the key at which point Nennah casts Hold Person on him and Meadowin catches his body (and the key) as it falls. They leave him on a bed to sleep it off.

Armed with the master key they proceed up the servants’ stairs (deserted at this time of night) to the 7th floor.
Here they spy a couple of guards, a Beaded Devil and a Veteran Human, and decide to try to take them by surprise.

Nennah uses _Thaumaturgy _ to create a soud of calling for help from a room, the Devil takes the hound and calls two previously unseen guards to help as he heads into the room to investigate.

Once they’re in, Nennah causes the door to slam shut and Meadowin runs in to stab the guard and lock the door with the skeleton key as Flint fires his gun at him. Joe and Eric then carve into the startled guard who falls to the combination of blows.

A further two guards enter the fray from an adjacent corridor and the door that Meadowin locked is harshly slammed from the other side moments before it burst into flames, the burning frame outlining a Hell Hound!

The hallway guards are quickly dispatched and Joe conjures a Cloud of Daggers to try to keep the rest of the enemies trapped in the room. The Devil and the hound walk through the daggers but they don’t hold up to the might of the party for long despite the Hound getting off another burst of flame. Of the final two guards one dares to try his luck with the daggers and is cut to ribbons, staggering for the exit and avoiding a drop kick by Flint but not outrunning Nennah’s Chill Touch.

The final guard surrenders and is knocked out and tied up as the party investigate the Lord’s chamber.

They find a room that’s not been cleaned in some time. A desk shows signs of recent use, but the bed hasn’t been slept in for some time, there are signs of a struggle and Meadowin spots blood on the floor and takes a sample. Joe follows the trail and finds a secret door ajar in the North wall. On investigation they find a terrible smell and shortly after the body of Lord Neverember himself. The corpse is unceremoniously dumped into the Bag of Holding and the party make for the Black Widow’s room but as they do a Horned Devil lands on the window cill outside and facing away. After a few moments of sneaking, there’s a scrape of claws and the Devil takes flight again.

After unlocking the Black Widow’s room they find a more lived in space. Flint takes up a post watching the door to the balcony which they’d found ajar and now close. Nothing incriminating on the desk, but Meadowin seems obsessed with finding some part of this person’s body, raiding underwear drawers for some old socks and looking at hairbrushes in vain for samples.

As the party continue their search Flint looks back to the balcony door to find it open with a female figure standing there in a silver spider mask. Her voice is a dead give-away.

It is Vascious!

She does seem somewhat surprised to see them but greets the party calmly, lamenting Ethia’s absence and barely acknowledging Meadowin’s grievances.

She’s interrupted by the dark cloaked figure behind her, apparently her father, who speaks directly to Joe as if no-one else is present and declares that Joe murdered his daughter in front of him and that Joe will not leave this room alive!

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Episode 72
Mimic

The party investigate the large door ahead, it is well made and appears to have most of the locking mechanisms on this side. They figure it’s part of an escape tunnel and is designed to slow or stop pursuit. It is locked with a key.

Nephenee uses a mirror under the door to check out the corridor beyond. Stairs to the left, straight path to the right. No light, no people, although possible noises up the stairs for far away.

She and Meadowin work together an quickly pick the lock. Nephenee also discovers a trap mechanism hidden in the hinge which disappears up into the ceiling above them – the unstable looking ceiling. She disarms the trap.

The door swings open silently on well oiled hinges, in fact footsteps in the dust suggest semi-regular maintenance of this door.

The party head on through and tackle the stairs, on the next level they pass a number of seeming dis-used rooms here in the basement of the castle. The head up more stairs and again are presented with a choice of stairs left and empty corridor right. However this time the stairs have a light from a main hallway. A guard post is opposite, sited at a junction of three passageways. A veteran and two Red Guards are discussing that their squad is about to be assigned a Devil and some Hell Hounds and they aren’t too sure they’re happy about it.

The party investigate right and find another junction, to the right, empty space and stairs possibly down, to the left a small ante-room with pillars and an ornate doorway around a 10 ft corridor with double doors at the end.

Investigations of the floor and the doorway by Nephenee seem to reveal nothing of concern so they proceed onwards.

The doors appear jammed solid, but there is a light through the keyhole. They spy an ornate chest on the floor of a small room lit by torches. Another set of doors are ajar behind it. Flint raises concerns about a mimic.

Nennah uses magic to try to close the rear doors but they seem to jam or are distorted in some way and won’t close fully. Instead she throws them open revealing a short passage and a blank wall behind. Now Nennah pulls back and tries to force the main doors by magic – they wont budge. They seem to be under pressure from the sides.

Eventually Flint just kicks open the door! Suddenly the walls either side of him spring towards him! He manages to go with the momentum and roll into the room. Also caught off guard, Nephenee manages to make it into the room with Flint. The room is now smaller and has trapped both Flint and Nehpenee with the chest, which animates and tries to grab Flint with its tongue. It is a Mimic!

As the walls slam into each other. They reveal two side passages from which emerge a couple of recently sired vampires who stalk towards Meadowin and Nennah. Nennah tries a Sacred Flame but the vampires dodge, and then they concentrate and push through her efforts at Turning them away. Meadowin meanwhile is struggling to land a hit with her rapier on the preternaturally fast vampires.

Flint and Nephenee make short work of the Mimic using a gun and a Sunblade respectively, they now need to figure a way out of the room!

Outside Nennaha and Meadowin are struggling to harm the vampires, when they do land hits, the vampires begin to heal almost immediately. Eventually they are both grappled and are spending all their time trying (successfully) not to be bitten.

Flint prises the trap apart slightly with brute strength and jams an axe into it. This allows Nephenee a view outwards. After Flint douses the lanterns Nephenee is able to Shadowstep out of the room appearing behind a vampire and bringing out her Sunblade, the sunlight coupled with the surprise attack finishes off the injured vampire which Meadowin and Nennah had been focused on. Nephenee also manages to seriously injure the 2nd vampire which retreats. Meadowin dives in its way to try and prevent its escape and as it tries to go around her, Nennah finishes it off.

With no time to loose, they free their trapped party member by finding mechanisms in the secret rooms to wind the sprung walls back inwards.

There are voices and footsteps echoing in the distance, is that an alarm bell they hear?

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Episode 71
Appraisals

Eric, Joe, Meadowin and Flint head into the northeast gate of Neverwinter, spread loosly to blend in to other commuters.

Flint’s fiery form does attract some attention as he fits the description of a wanted fugitive. Flint lies badly about wanting to join up with the Red Guard which totally bamboozles his interrogator who ends up directing him to the castle to sign up.

The gang rendezvous at the city gardens to wait for Nennah.

-/-

Meanwhile Nennah has introduced herself as Angi?, a cleric of Mystra? to Connor Corsair who after initially being curt, responds kindly once he notices she’s a fellow cleric. He helps her out with direction although he does seem slightly off balance due to her presence. He notices this himself, and suggests that it’s because she fits a description of a fugitive arcanist sympathiser, however that person would be travelling in a specific group. After giving her directions to the temple (near the Shining Serpent Inn) he suggests he’s quite busy and takes his leave, he needs to move out the army tomorrow. Despite Nennah grabbing his arm he doesn’t notice the ring on her finger. As she moves off hes telling the Ice Devil that they need to work on integrating their forces to work more smoothly together, especially now that he’s been told that the food supply problem for the Devils is solved. Connor is concerned that any mistrust between the common races and the Devils could be bad during a fight.

-/-

Nennah makes it to the gardens and meets up with the group who then head over to the northwest of the city to look for Meadowin’s contact, Peren. However after an hour of searching, he’s nowhere to be found. He was last seen a week ago.

They head off to the Shining Serpent. After Meadowin introduces herself and asks for the manager, they’re ushered into a back room by Keri Graycastle (who spares a wink for Joe). Meadowin asks about Peren and Keri tells them that he’s actually been captured by the Red Guard and is to be hanged in the morning. They are planning a jail break to take place at dawn just prior to the hanging. Keri asks if the party would like to help out, but they let her know they’ve got bigger fish to fry, namely Truthseeker Black or possibly even Lord Neverember! Keri confirms that there are a couple of tunnels under the castle, but she knows that one was discovered recently by Devil forces and is unsure if the other have been as well. They might be set up as traps.

After some discussion it’s decided that Keri will contact Wyne over at the stables to let off some horses near the castle just prior to dawn to cause a distraction which will hopefully help with the jailbreak and any attempt to enter the castle by the party.

Looking for a potential way into the castle the party head off to see Sige’s former girlfriend, Brithe. After knocking, Meadowin picks the lock to her house and opens the door to find an elderly human woman with a cane hobbling to the door. She introduces herself as Marey. Meadowin quickly tells her she’s selling cheap firewood (that she picked up earlier) and convinces Marey to let her set her a fire and bring her a pie, some quick lying about knowing a friend of her daughters going a long way to building trust. She finds out that Brithe is at work and will be back for tea. Meadowin arranges to come back at tea time with a pie.

The gang now with a few hours to kill till tea time, head off to meet up with their employees at DEA Neverwinter.

-/-

They find the DEA office not far from the castle by the riverside. It has a large poorly written sign above it that says Donjon Xplorers Aliance and a DEA logo. Merchandise, much of it tacky and poorly made is on display within the window. A pair of feet can be seen up on the reception desk.

As the party enters, Eric coughs and wakes up Cenya, a flustered human woman. The party demand to know the whereabouts of Parsons, the head of this branch. They introduce themselves as the management! Cenya stammers that he’s out on a job. It’s quickly obvious that the staff here have become lax in their job roles and are lacking proper direction and management. As the party head backstage, several clerks are playing a game involving dice and miniatures and some of the burlier types are training with wooden swords over in a gym area. A jar of money overflows on a mantelpiece.

The staff are called to attention, a gopher type is asked to go and buy some pies from petty cash and the rest are asked questions about tunnels under the city. It seems the “map” they’re using for their game is part of a book that does detail such tunnels. The DEA are asked if they’re clear for use and are forced to reveal that they’re not really sure, despite it being their job to be. The party leave them with instructions to scout out the tunnels by sundown and find out what’s in use and what isn’t.

The gang now head back to Brithe and Marey’s house. Brithe arrives as Marey is chomping down happily on a pie and meets Nennah and Meadowin. Brithe is a little suspicious of them and when they name drop Sige she becomes hostile about them knowing one of “those” people! Arcanist scum!
They change tack and spin a story about wanting to hire her as they’d heard she was looking for work. Some clever leading questions teasing her about her access to all areas of the castle and her assumed lack of knowledge of where the keys are kept gets her to reveal and boast that she knows he head butler keeps all the keys in his desk and that she cleans all the rooms except Lord Neverember’s, she even does Truthseeker Black’s room when she’s out. Further prompting reveals both of these rooms are up on the top floor and facing the harbour, Black’s room has a balcony.
They also find out that the castle contracts out much of their laundry to Lincoln’s Laundry just North of the castle.

-/-

The party now head off to Lincoln’s Laundry, Flint changes into his damaged and bloody Devil armour/clothing. Nennah heads around the back and goes in through the gate, but walks straight into an employee who asks her to leave. This distraction helps Meadowin sneak in and hide behind a cart full of laundered clothes and sheets. No uniforms though. As Nennah is escorted out and the gate locked behind her, Flint is heading into the front door begins yelling at the clerk about having been given back the wrong uniform, it’s clearly not his due to no scars where the holes are! He demands several replacements. Backstage other workers are distracted by this conversation helping Meadowin navigate the washing tubs and mechanical Ox driven mechanisms to find some sets of Red Guard clothing which she stuffs into a sack. As the argument out front reaches it’s end she’s climbing up on the cart and jumping over the wall. Flint leaves with one spare uniform to add to the four that Meadowin has liberated.

-/-

After returning to the DEA HQ, they ask about progress. One team has not returned, two others revealed a decent tunnel and a partly collapsed one. The gang decide to go with the dangerous one and they are escorted to it by the team that explored it; a dwarf Fighter called Berhito, and elf Archer called Anies and a female human Rogue called Joanne. The management demand they act as if the party is not there. After they reach the furthest point previously explored the three DEA members have a brief argument about how to proceed and reluctantly decide to deploy their trap detector. On the orders of Berhito, Anies pulls a dead sheep out of a bag of holding and Joanne injects it with something. Suddenly the un-dead sheep baas/moans and animates. Berhito pulling wool off left and right, sets it on a path froward and it trots off down the tunnel. It triggers some snares and they pull it down as spears flash out overhead. Anies cuts the snares with arrows and the group head on, now the sheep triggers floor tile and a blast of necrotic energy lances out from a crystal on the wall, however the sheep is not injured by it. The party step around the tile and soon arrive at a big wooden/metal reinforced door. Berhito clobbers the sheep into unconsciousness and Anies puts it back in the bag.

This should be the castle! The party dismiss the DEA members and set about the door themselves.

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Episode 70
Connections

Ethia and Matilda are now off looking after Tel and trying to get him back to normal. The others have scattered to do their own thing for a day.

-/-

We join the action with Nennah, Meadowin, Joe and Flint in a small “Guards’ Bar” near the main gate. Apparently it was set up by Sparkle, which is why it’s too small.

They are discussing possible next moves, the overall opinion is to go into Neverwinter covertly to find out info or to try to take out the leaders of the Devil forces.

A sudden alarm is raised by one of the gate guards, galloping horses are approaching tailed by hell hounds!

These few party members are the first on the scene, they spot Quelline, wounded, at the back of the group, three Bearded Devils are riding the hell hounds and Flint and Meadowin and Joe open fire as they come into range.

As they horses make it into the town, one of the gate guards trips and fails to close the right gate, the devils make it inside with the party raining down attacks from above. Flint moves a good distance away and slams shot after shot home.

A blast of fire from one hound scorches towards Nennah and Meadowin. Nennah takes the brunt of it as Meadowin jumps over the wall and “knife slides” down the exterior, swinging back in through the gate and closing it behind her, trapping the Devils inside.

As two of the Bearded Devils climb up to Joe’s position, he neatly decapitates one before slamming an arrow down through the floor and into the other’s chest, pinning him. Flint continues to snipe from afar as Joe kicks the ladder down. The fall kills the second devil. A combination of Sacred Flames and Chilling Touches from Nennah drag life from the hounds and the final rider.

Quelline is now unconscious, but barely alive.

-/-

After the fight, they stabilise Quelline and talk to Rarder, a Jeweller with a minor latent for sorcery. He tells the party about the attack force of Devils that came to the city and was welcomed by the Red Guards. They now occupy Neverwinter with the full co-operation of Lord Neverember. Horned Devils patrol the sky and three Pit Fiends have been seen walking the streets. Connor Corsair apparently leads the Devil/Red Guard army.

It seems that one person was killed when they were ambushed near here. A young wizard type called Sige. Nennah rides out to find his body and revives him. He’s able to confirm much of what Rarder said, He tells them about a possible criminal type called Wyne, who works at Ren Dalstar’s corral. He also mentions an ex-girlfriend called Brithe who was once thinking of a job as a amid at the castle, he’s able to give the party her address.

The party rest overnight and then Nennah, Meadowin, Flint, Joe and Eric Transport via Plants to a tree on the edge of Neverwinter Woods, south of the river.

Meadowin wants to track down an old contact called Peren. As they discuss what to do, Nennah takes off alone towards the south gate, where a small army of devils and humans seems to be assembling to move out. She walks brazenly past through the still open but cluttered trade road.

Meanwhile the rest of the group decide to try a different North gate, this means crossing the river. Flint uses a water breathing mask and with the help of a rope shot over by Joe the rest of the gang manage to crawl over, though some get wet in the process.

As Nennah reaches the gate, she’s waved through without much of a glance, she walks confidently until she spots a halfling in plate armour talking with a large Ice Devil.

Connor.

Her brother.

She walks straight over to him, past the guards who are distracted by eavesdropping on the discussion Connor’s having with the Devil.

She places her hand on his arm and speaks…

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Episode 69
Reunions

As the fight rages on, Eric continues smashing chains despite their resistance to his mundane great axe, slowly but surely he cuts them aside. Meanwhile Nennah sucks the very life from the Chain Devils casting Chill Touch a number of times causing them to decay and rust.

Telzen continues to be a one woman army smashing through another two bearded Devils and a few Lemures as various guards shoot into the fray with Crossbows, mostly to no effect.

Nephenee who has just arrived on the scene gets brought up to speed by Therren and immediately jumps down the hole firing her crossbow repeatedly aiding in damaging several of the enemies while above Therren drops a Firebolt down at an opportune moment finally killing a particularly stubborn guard who’d previously survived Telzen, the Nort’lov a Blight spell from Ethia and a Chill Touch from Nennah.

As the battle turns the party’s way a hooded figure towards the back calls a retreat, while his companion Hell Hound barbecues Telzen and Ethia with fiery breath! Nephenee kills it before it can breath on them again with an arrow down the throat!

Ethia recognises the figure as the Arcanist who has imprisoned her during her previous stay here.

The Hooded man casts Finger of Death on Ethia, but she shrugs it off in her Earth Elemental form, he then tries to flee.

Ethia backs up Telzen briefly then goes after the figure (who is carrying her staff). Blocking his path and stopping him from escaping to the room (Ethia’s old prison cell) with the rest of the retreating force. Trapped, he casts Plane Shift and vanishes, moments later the doorway that the rest of the guards retreated through shimmers and vanishes too leaving a blank wall.

-/-

After the battle Therren pokes through the rubble of the tower and finds the broken remains of a Flameskull, he takes the pieces to see if they can be repaired by the likes of Droop.

The small underground area is searched, Nephenee finds a healing potion and there’s no sign of other survivors, the footprints above ground are indeterminate. It seems folk left in a relative hurry, but still orderly as tents have been taken and equipment packed away.

Judging by the number of Arcanists strung up in the trees, Ethia judges perhaps twenty may still be unaccounted for.

The party then reconvene, Reduce the Nort’lov and head (using Transport via Plants) to New Thundertree.

-/-

Meadowin greets them and mentions that another Root will be welcome. She’s surprised when the Tree grows taller and broader a minute later. She brings the party up to speed telling them that Carp has met Bertrand and thy seem to be getting on but it’s a bit stilted and delicate at the moment.

She mentions a possible rogue wizard may be around, this is suspected as it seems a few guards suspect their memories may have been slightly altered as their recollections don’t match up with other peoples. However this suspect would be one of about 40 or so arcanists they have in the village.

After asking for more information about Neverwinter, they are met by Shirk, the representative of the Lords Alliance who has previously dealt with Eric. He mentions that the L.A. has been sidelined in Neverwinter and it is working with the Harpers to get intelligence out of the city. He tells the gang that the army of devils recently arrived in the city and was welcomed by Neverwinter’s Red Guards and Lord Neverember himself. The large Pit Fiend, Destuvious is also their.

The party discuss a number of options but seem to be leaning towards sending some folk, (probably themselves) to infiltrate Neverwinter and try to cut off the head of the organisation.

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Episode 68
Assault on Hell's Gate

Feeling confident in their new asset. The party decide to have Joe and Tarn escort Bertrand back to New Thundertree.

Tarn creates a few Reduce coins first to allow for the Nort’lov and possibly its pilot to be reduced enough to fit through a large tree trunk, thus enabling Ethia to move the Nort’lov with the Transport Via Plants spell.

The group then head directly to Hell’s Gate to rescue the wizards Ethia had been forced to leave behind.

They appear a little back from the edge of the woods, and as the Nort’lov returns to normal size and Eric scopes out the area Ethia summons sixteen giant wasps to create a distraction. Telzen tries to sense fiends but doesn’t read anything close by.

Eric reports numerous poorly outfitted “guards” with a few of the “Red Guard” in view, and one Hill Giant.

After sending the wasps off to circle around they begin to head towards the ruins.

The wasps strike before the Nort’lov appears causing chaos and cries of terror and pain among the citizen soldiers who make up most of the defence force.

Soon though the presence of the Nort’lov becomes known.

Ethia erupts earth around the base of the tower which contains a Flameskull emplacement, severely damaging the structure but not quite destroying it. Nennah, piloting the Nort’lov, cries out to frighten the enemy and indeed most are starting to call a retreat.

Arrows fly towards to Nort’lov with most missing and the few that do impact being absorbed into a blue flare along with a rock thrown from the Hill Giant.

As the guard on the tower fires the Flameskull, Therren sucks the Fireball out of existence with a well timed Counterspell.

The massive construct reaches the ruin and the world’s luckiest guard manges to withstand Ethia’s Blight and dodge a giant sword swing from above, before escaping inwards.

Wasps and villagers tussle as they try to retreat.

The Hill Giant engages the construct club to sword and with a defining sweep the Nort’lov severs the Hill Giant’s left arm, as Nennah finishes it off with a sacred flame!

Telzen takes on a Bearded Devil and the head guard simultaneously in battle, slowly being wounded, but giving as good as she gets.

A badly aimed shot from the Death Ray by Therren burrows a hole into the dirt opening up another way to the underground passages beneath the ruin where Ethia senses the presence of her staff underground!

Soon the enemy is in full retreat and Telzen follows hot on their heels walking into an ambush in the tunnel below, what she initially assumed to be children are in fact Chain Devils under an illusion, soon she’s restrained and being torn apart while the party above is initially slow to respond. As Nennah and Eric jump down the hole following Earth Elemental Ethia underground, Telzen uses Misty Step to free herself and then uses her intrinsic healing magic to cure her most grievous injuries.

After a blast of radiant energy from Nennah underground is visible to Therren above (who has remained in the Nort’lov) he fires the Death Ray again further enlarging the hole in the ground.

To be continued…

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