Dark Faerun

Session 33: Tri-, Quad- and Pentadrones, oh my!
Wait, if modrons get promoted when we kill them...

The adventurers blasted through two tiers of the modron base, discovering an important fact: if you kill a modron, a modron of lesser rank is promoted, and another is promoted to replace that one, and so on, all the way down the line.

“So kill them in a very specific order!” shouted an unusually aggressive Faelar.

Rogue 5quadrone explained to the group that this facility was a forward base for setting up and maintaining a portal to the plane of Mechanus, the home of the modrons and their god. Every 17 cycles of 17 years (so, once every 289 years) the modrons march across the place, gathering information. While not necessarily aggressive in nature…they tend to follow their intended path no matter whats in the way…often causing substantial chaos. Gond sealed the facility to prevent the march from occurring near his followers, presumably the ones in Lug River, or their forebears.

After destroying a number of monodrones and duodrones on the first floor, Vahn prizes loose an enormous gear from the wall, causing the mechanism to jam and fling gears and sprockets of all sizes into the abyss. Throwing it down the only visible stairs to the rooms below, just behind a fireball cast by Xarrai, the group appears to have caught many of the upper-tier modron with their pants down…creating a pocket of room for them to plan while they descended and the modrons were promoted and took time to reassess the situation.

On the next level they continued to wade through modrons of a variety of ranks, including the three-speared tridrones, flying and archery-inclined quadrones, and paralyzingly pugilistic pentadrones.

After clearing the entire level, Rogue 5quadrone led them to a supply room where magical items were drained for power, where he searched in vain for materialized modron wings to fix his own, and where Ke’shin did manage to find a working Immovable Rod.

The party decided on a short rest before pushing forward to the final area, the Portal Chamber, the lair of the Decaton.

Session 32: Modrons and More!
Tales of Rogue 5quadrone

After a night of partying and effort, the adventurers planned their journey to Jarren’s Outpost over breakfast. Confident in their plan to walk into the city first and attempt to free Lazarus peaceably, Ke’shin used a Sending spell to contact him. He discovered that Lazarus Is in considerably more trouble than they thought. A group of mages has apparently taken over the Outpost, and killed the Jarren. After the crown Xarrai helped forge was presented and Faelar expertly conducted an official coronation, the group set the newly-founded Kingdom of Many Arrows on the path to defending their borders, and headed
south to the secret grotto.

Finding a metal door with a single keyhole, they inserted the talisman of Gond and, after twisting it back a forth a dozen times, revealed an ever expanding ring of interlocking gears that appeared. Once the door was completely covered, a winch popped out of the ground nearby. Vahn put a strong arm toward turning it, and the entire door and the wall it was set into turned as though on a platform, carrying the group inside. Looking about, they found a long tunnel of plated metal and fanciful brasswork supports. Going deeper, they identified a locked vault door and a wall covered with gears, encrusted with stone over time, and a pedestal holding a metal globe, blazing with magic. Beyond, they sensed hundreds of magical traps. Pressing the talisman into the globe set inlaid brass lines and gears awhir, spinning faster and faster until the globe itself blew apart leaving a small brass gear behind. The gears covering the wall spun and interlocked and slowly folded into the vault door, disappearing, and their arcane sense of magical traps faded.

Inside they found a long drop into an endless pit of moving gears, chains spanning the open distance and a lever-activated bridge carried them across. Hearing the flap of wings they continued forward and were greeted by a group of strange creatures that the wizard identified as “modrons.” They appeared to be a mix of flesh and steel, with wings, appendages, eyes, and weapons.

“Are you followers of Gond?” asked the boxy modron in the lead.
Excited, Ke’shin replied, “Yes, of course!”
“Excellent!” the Modron replied, turning to it’s companions. “KILL THEM ALL!”

Session 21: Confronting Prulekai
The Triumph of Animus

Travelling north of Lug River, the party soon came upon what appeared to be more of an estate than a farm. A building, similar in construction to those in town but far larger, appeared before an open expanse of ground with what appeared to be orchards behind it. Rocking chairs sat on an open porch and a trellis surrounded the entrance. A number of workers loafed about nearby, taking their time driving poles into holes in the ground, conceivably for the eventual hanging of more scarecrows.

The group took a moment to interview the workers about who was at the the house, and learned that the lead merchant, Beddrick, was inside with the lady of the house. Coming to the house and ringing an aging brass bell produced the frustrated face of Beddrick Moorstar, who thought he was being interrupted by his workmen. Realizing his mistake, he shut the door, calling for “Risi,” and a moment later the door was opened by an elegant, if tipsy, mature beauty who introduced herself as Risi Voreni, the widow of late Korrene Voreni, and madame of the house.

The interior of the structure was far nicer than the outside, stocked with a small library, expensive furnishing and rugs, and the heads of all kinds of animals mounted on the walls. Inviting them inside, the widow offered them drinks. While Faelar captivated her with song, Vahn and Ke’shin cornered a visibly troubled Beddrick and began to quiz him about the scarecrows. It was revealed that Beddrick was being forced into service by another man, Prulekai, and that his family was being held magically hostage. Forced to murder a servant, Prulekai enacted a spell which caused her hand to animate and separate from her body, wandering around as an undead thing. When it returned to her, she had no memory of the experience, but it was all the leverage Prulekai needed to turn Beddrick into a slave to his will. When Xarrai returned from a short excursion upstairs and reported sounds of chanting, the group suggested that Beddrick and the Lady leave the house, for they had business to take care of.

Vahn asked his horse, Animus, who’d been tasked with patrolling, if anything was amiss outside. After an initial all clear, the horse said that he spotted someone exiting the back of the house via window, then screamed in pain. Vahn charged upstairs, followed by Asade, Ke’shin and Xarrai, while Faelar turned himself invisible and went out the front to ward of possible danger from the opposite angle of approach.

Bursting through the washroom, Vahn leaped through a window and landed on Animus’ back, hammer in hand, shouting his warcry. As he chased down the necromancer, Xarrai lobbed fireballs at approaching undead in the distance. Summoning all his minions, the necromancer fought at close range with Vahn while undead wolves, bears, scarecrows and the giant armored construct from the Hinkelmann farm appeared. A combined effort from the group destroyed the lesser minions, while Faelar dispelled the large construct magically. As the necromancer neared the end, the final blow was struck by Animus, and death was delivered by the sharp hooves of vengeance. The horse and his two-legged minions triumphed.

Session 20: Entering Lug River
"I need one of those axes."

Come morning, the party discussed this strange appearance of undead and, cautiously, made their way toward Lug River. As the landscape became more swamp-like around them, they crested a hill and were granted a view of their objective; large shanty town on stilts. Lug River was surrounded by open space on all sides, the forest clear-cut around it. Burn marks and brown patches littered the earth, and the town itself was surrounded by lengths of strange, metal bramble-like walls. Fields of wheat and other produce abutted the southern edge of the town, and the adventurers noticed the lack of a clear road leading into the community.

Making their way down the hill, Vahn took the lead, inspecting the strange burn marks. As he approached one and strode through it, he noticed a soft “click” and stopped moving. Looking down he felt around and noticed what looked like… metallic…bones. Not trusting the strange contraption he misty-stepped away, his sudden absence producing a shrill shrieking cry and an enormous fireball. Convinced that their presence was no longer unnoticed, the group decided to wait and appear disarming.

After a short time a the nearby wheat fields began to rustle and a group of resident appeared. Dressed in leathers and work rags, some with goggles or with heavy aprons, they all appeared covered in soot and grease, and all of them carried vastly oversized axes with apparent ease. The lead member introduced himself as Balg, and while he was initially very hostile, he eased up when he saw Lazarus’ pendant and heard the group’s story. After the brief, tense conversation, Balg agreed to lead them to Thorrfin, their leader.

As the group followed him through the minefield of what Balg named ‘Shriekers,’ he explained that they were forged using captured demon souls and binding them to the devices. Fed and recharged with a little bit of blood, they produced the noise and fire when stepped on before burrowing back into the ground. Constant attacks from barbarian savages, wolves, bears and giant spiders had caused the town to beef up their defenses in recent years. During this talk, Asade noticed a number of eerily familiar scarecrows and left to investigate. Finding an identical construct to the ones they fought at the Hinkelmann family farm, Asade began to rip it apart to inspect it. This, unfortunately, alerted Balg who tried to stop her and, when he could not, ran to the town. Asade, Ke’shin and Faelar attempted to hold him magically, and eventually, he succumbed.

Quietly apologizing and explaining their violent experiences with similar constructs elsewhere, the group requested that he continue to lead them on. No longer as friendly or talkative, Balg did so, as more guards with axes appeared to escort them. Thus surrounded by a small army of men with huge axes, they came to a three-building structure, steadily pumping out smoke from several chimney’s and the sound of metal ringing on an anvil.

The sound stopped and a large man sporting a huge, but well-trimmed beard exited. He introduced himself as Thorrfin and waved away Balg’s concerns, noting that the older man was cranky any time new people showed up. Speaking with the group he expressed shock that his brother, Lazarus, was still alive, and after hearing their tale called a town gathering to disseminate the information by chucking one of the enormous axes at a rope fastening a large log on a pendulum, which then crashed into a brash bell, creating a resounding noise.

Impressed by the unusual display of strength and unnecessary theatrics Vahn cried “I’ll get it!” and ran off to retrieve the axe. To his surprise it was light as a feather compared to his usual weaponry. Bringing it back, Thorrfin laughed and explained that this ‘magic’ was alloys; his people worked in the science of metals. Vahn inquired as to a suit of armor made of the wondrous material, and was quoted an extravagant price. Waving them inside he offered the group a hot, brown liquid produced from a nearby machine full of dials and steam valves, that invigorated all of them. Hearing their story of Lazarus and the scarecrows, Thorrfin seemed skeptical. Yes, he was aware that they were undead, but they’d kept the town safe from local beasts and never harmed anyone. A merchant had been delivering them for some time, he said.

Intrigued, Vahn asked more questions about these merchants, and about where they could be found. Uncomfortable with this line of questioning, Thorrfin interjected that both the merchants AND the adventurers were his guests, and protected in town by guest-right. No bloodshed was to be tolerated. Vahn readily accepted that, and asked where the merchants were. When he discovered they were presently at a farm up north, he inquired as to whether the farm was considered a part of the town. Giving him serious side-eye, Thorrfin was forced to admit that it was not.

Leaving the leader of this strange, mechanical backwater, the group was granted boarding room in a nearby stilt-shanty, and discussed their options. Asade, recalling Ke’shin’s earlier words about how the magic was designed to disallow violence to sentient beings, went to inspect another scarecrow, beast-shaping into a wolf, which caused its eyes to glow and begin to climb down off it’s pole…but then…stopped, looking conflicted. When she returned to her orcish form, it returned to its inert status.

Inside, the group talked briefly, and decided it might be best to pay this merchant a visit at the northern farm before the necromancer had a chance to return to town. They were unsure if espionage or violence would ensue, and decided to play it as they saw fit upon arrival.

Sessions 19: The Wayward Caravan

The band of adventurers, having accomplished Vahn’s mission of vengeance, returned to the Jarren the next day. Bereft of a morning meeting with Lazarus, they walked straight to the Jarren’s audience chamber, seeking the promised information on Beddrick Moorstar and the Caravan of the Smiling Boar in the hopes that it would lead them to their supposed necromancer, Prulekai.

They found the Jarren scrambling on the floor amidst stacks of scrolls and ledgers muttering “It makes no sense!” repeatedly to himself. Looking up he engaged them, explaining that his information pointed toward Beddrick travelling not to the Grove southeast of Valderin’s Gate, but to a remote town west of Jarren’s Outpost named Lug River; the town Lazarus hailed from. Financially, it didn’t make sense.

The Jarren, shaken by his discoveries, conceded that perhaps their story of undead in his territory was not so far-fetched. He asked that they find the merchant, Beddrick Moorstar, and determine if he was involved in this undead incursion. If he was, they were to punish him as they saw fit, but if not, they should return him safely , as well as taking care of any undead. The group thanked him, reminded him that they were by no means under his authority, Vahn using his armor to scream that they were “under no contractual obligation” and headed out.

They briefly met with Lazarus and explained the situation to him. Lazarus gifted them his cog pendant, telling them that it may provide them a way into the city, though he could not vouch for what Lug River was like these days.

The group decided to head out first thing in the morning, and Xarrai used the evening opportunity to do a little alchemy, discovering the method for crafting Leprechaun’s Luck. K’eshin studied the pair of rings they’d gained during their last adventure.

In the morning, the adventurer’s left. The journey took most of the day, and they decided to camp for the night and enter Lug River when the sun was up. During the night the group was attacked by a lone, undead wolf, who nearly felled Xarrai.

Session 18: The Man in Purple Fled Across the City, and the Party Followed
"Vahn...the tiger said it wants vengeance."

In meeting the Jarren, Faelar took charge of the discussion and managed to convince the Jarren that a trader he’s oft-employed going around selling undead scarecrows that kill people would look bad for business. During the conversation, Asade discovered the Jarren’s daughter who was hiding nearby. The daughter made all sorts of cryptic, giggly, comments during the exchange. The Jarren delivered a general guess as to where Prulekai might be, but promised more exacting information if you returned the next day. After Asade thoroughly unmanned him with how impressive she was by comparison, the group acquired what amounted to an informal writ of bounty for the man in purple.

The group decided to track down the man in the purple robe, next, with the intent of delivering him to the Brotherhood of the Claw and fulfilling Vahn’s vengeance pact.

Vahn queried a merchant guard nearby as to where he might find hiring halls, and the group set out to the eastern side of the city. They found a dozen longhouses packed with hopeful recruits and job boards. Vahn and Xarrai hung back with Ke’shin’s body, while Ke’shin took to the air with his familiar, Faelar acted the part of the servant, and Asade the kitty explored the houses. Of the three, Asade caught a glimpse of purple robe in a back room, where she discovered a man packing spell ingredients into his bag before exiting a back door. Leaving, and following, she noted that a man who smelled identical to the one in the purple robe was heading away, now with black hair and a yellow robe.

The party followed him to an outdoor arena, where Asade perched on a fond guard’s shoulder and the raven perched on the open-air roof while the others caught up.

With the raven’s view, they spotted the man shed his magical disguise and join a group of other white-haired, purple-robed men, in drinking and watching a series of fights. The arena itself was round in construction, with tiered seating, vendors in the halls behind, and grated floors situated above cages containing men and beasts.

After Ke’shin sent the men in robes a round of strong drinks, the adventurers noted the passing of the magical ingredients to the man they were after, who got up, and headed downstairs to the cage floor. Vahn confidently followed, and the drunkards, too engrossed in a match on the sands, never saw the rest as they followed.

Among the cages the party saw a variety of prisoners; men and women of all races and consenting ages, gladiators by choice and circumstance, modified beasts and magical creatures. Xarrai saw a tiefling in tattered imperial garb, chained to the floor, in one case, while Asade saw a pair of axebeaks whose natural weapons had been upgraded with steel. Vahn found their target standing in front of what appeared to be an enormous, blue tiger, funneling a lightning spell through a ruby toward the creature.

They watched as the tigers muscles expanded, its eyes becoming fiercer. Ke’shin dispelled the lightning and the man in purple was set upon by several Hold Person spells. After verifying he was immobile with a whack to the jaw, Ke’shin stood aside and Vahn moved forward to bind him.

While this was occuring, Asade spoke to the tiger, asking if it wanted its freedom. After an affirmative exchange where she learned that the tiger possessed a keen intelligence, had been mistreated, and desired to return home, Asade argued its case with the group. They were…leery, of setting free a giant, lightning-filled, angry blue tiger in a city when they were still waiting on the Jarren’s information. Finally settling on “Fine, but you have to leave, you can’t kill anyone,” the tiger agreed to give up its vengeance…which Asade related to Vahn, who banished his last doubts and prepared to destroy the cage lock. Ke’shin moved in and used a Knock spell, instead, generating a loud knocking noise that temporarily silenced the arena and brought a single guard to investigate.

Vahn strode forward, be-robed man on his shoulder, proclaiming Jarren’s business, and the party informed the guard that the man they were carrying let loose a tiger in his escape attempt. Terrified, the guard ran back up to inform EVERYONE, causing a mass exodus that the group used to slip away, unnoticed, as Faelar made both the tiger, and Asade riding it, invisible.

Asade and Faelar accompanied the tiger to the forest, where it thanked them and departed, while Vahn, Ke’shin and Xarrai returned to the Bearded Bear. Inside, the vengeance pack was completed, and they learned that the man was, in fact, Nuck Valin, leader of the troop of battle mages. The leader of the gang tossed them the companion ring to the one used in the fight with Grosk. Having earned the respect of the Brotherhood of the Claw, they received drinks at the bar as they left, even Xarrai. The tiefling was granted a silent toast and approving nods, and the bartender gave him words of support, despite the town’s attitude toward his race.

The party returned to there inn for the night, preparing to see the Jarren in the morning.

Session 17: Debts, Shopping and a Plan
Exploring Jarren's Outpost

You woke up and tracked down the bookie halfing from the night before, seeking your money. Asking your bartender for directions you found the Bearded Bear, a tavern that looked more like a fortress than a place to grab a drink. Shady characters in maroon vests directed you ‘to the back’ where you found the halfing, beaten up, with 4 suspicious characters.

These characters got you your money, continued to beat the halfing, and when pressed on the issue of the magic ring, tasked Vahn with the retrieval of the sorcerer who was helping Grosk cheat.

On the way to find Lazarus, Xarrai wanted to hit up a shop for ingredients. He was directed to a mad alchemist lady whose shop was full of plants and animal parts. More than a little mad-hatter, she ran around huffing plant parts and licking animals bits until she’d managed to find a chemical balance and sold Xarrai some flasks and ingredients (that he later used to make healing potions). Asade bought herself a nearly impenetrable terrarium after Vahn displayed the strength of the material by attempting to smash the ‘glass’ countertop of the proprietor’s counter. Asade pulled out a bluedrop, a plant native to her home, that she wanted to place in the terrarium, and the mad alchemist became INTENSELY interested in the ‘Tear of Ascodel’ as she named it. She agreed to trade the valuable terrarium for a seed from the plant and a minor amount of gold. Asade, pleased, affixed the golden-shimmering blue flower globe to the end of her spear, where the fiend-hungry blade began to glow blue, instead of it’s normal orange. Outside the brainiacs of the group bumped heads to identify what the hell this ‘Ascodel’ was, and in searching their memory pulled up the lore of an ancient being, named Ascodel.

Ascodel was an eladrin, a type of celestial, and when Ascodel, then consort of Morwel, the Queen of Stars, was tricked into a pact with the demoness pale night, he doomed an entire generation of young eladrins to imprisonment in the Abyss. Before beginning a suicidal effort to free them, Ascodel fled through the planes in his anguish, shedding tears throughout the realms. Ascodel died trying to protect the eladrin children. Apparently this pretty little blue flower is named after him.

Next you guys tracked down Lazarus, the God of the Distillery. Heading to the Jarren’s residence in the center of town (and passing through a gigantic open market to do so) you found a line of people waiting to be served beverages next to a building just off the side of the residence. Faelar snuck in to grab Lazarus, and you all sat down to drinks. You persuaded Lazarus to get you in to see the Jarren, and he also explained some of his life as an indentured distiller, and the reason he doesn’t just leave (family problems to the west disrupting trade; as long as he makes the Jarren more profit from his booze than he loses due to having to close a route, the Jarren leaves his extended clan alone).

Various ways to approach the Jarren were discussed, and Lazarus keyed you in to him being honest, but exact to the letter on deals he makes.

Session 16: "Asade 'THE THUNDER LIZARD' Naaaaaaaar!!!"
"Does he want to fight a dinosaur?"

Having defeated the hydra and searched the bodies of the Winged Patrol, the group discussed what their next move should be. Vahn discovered an envelope and passed it on to Faelar, who, after opening it, identified it as packet of “letters home” on the deceased Winged Patrol Sergeant and tucked them away for later delivery to another member of the Patrol. Vahn asked what funerary customs lowlanders had, and Faelar was able to relate the burial practices of the Winged Patrol to the group.

Patrol members are burned, their ashes packed into a container, and then buried beneath a construction of their former equipment. Lances are snapped in half to create poles, lassos or lariats strung between them, armor, shields or weapons hung from the line together to form a sort of grisly wind-chime. The thought is that the duties of the WInged Patrol change; in death they no longer wander, but guard the area of their death, serving as both a reminder and a warning that the Winged Patrol protects these lands.

Xarrai carefully ignited the bodies, while Faelar recited a service amid the ash and smoke, and the rest of the party constructed the burial totem.

The party continued their journey, moving away from the hydra corpse for the evening, and found shelter in a huge, lightning-struck hollow tree just off the road. Signs of previous campsites were found inside, but none recent. Places to stop and camp by the road are not uncommon along the oft-used trade routes in the Fringe.

The watch passed uneventfully until Ke’shin’s turn came ‘round. Nose-deep in his notes, only half paying attention, he caught a glimpse of movement down the road, coming from the north. The movement resolved itself into a portly man wearing a grey cloak, hood up, stumbling and swaying as he walked. Approaching them, he loudly hailed the campfire (after Ke’shin had awoken the group) and cheerfully asked if they had any food and drink to share. The group, suspicious, demanded to know who he was. His reply was…unique.

“Isn’t there a saying about being rude to Gods on the road late at night? You may call me Lazarus.” Ke’shin zeroed in immediately, trying to identify if this man might truly be a deity, but only noticed a tarnished gear hanging about his neck, not recognizing the name the man gave.

In a moment of hilarious pique, Vahn inspected Lazarus, smelled the whiskey on his breath, and used Lay on Hands to ‘cure’ him of his drunkenness…then retired to bed. Xarrai retired as well, while Asade and Faelar remained awake to watch Ke’shin pepper the evasive man with questions.

As he cheerfully avoided direct answers, Lazarus took out a series of nested bowls that could become collanders, complete with telescoping handles, and asked for a packet of their rations. Once handed over, he began to make a stew, to which he added a spice packet. Soon a delicious aroma began to waft through the camp, though Lazarus sniffed something else. Crawling over to Xarrai’s travel bag, he went through it, pulling out a bottle of liquor. After examining it he exclaimed “Who’s Fwar?” Ke’shin, taking it from him, saw that an inscription had been scrawled on the glass as if by a tiny claw. “Xarrai, you party hardest. Fwar.” Taking a sniff, he recognized the scent of the Elven brandy they had sampled and mixed with in Archmage Elenia Fyzkik’s tower.

After sampling a little brandy and waking the party members to taste the stew, which was incredibly good (and whose desert ingredients only Asade managed to identify), Lazarus promptly fell asleep. With shrugs, the party joined him.

With the arrival of daylight, Ke’shin sought to more closely inspect the gear-like talisman around Lazarus’ neck, though he was tucked snuggly into his cloak, preventing it from being seen. Using Gust, Asade moved the cloak, causing Lazarus to stir and reveal the necklace. Ke’shin was reminded of Vahn’s hammer, a little, though the gear seemed crude in comparison. He felt no godly investiture in the item.

Last to wake, Lazarus proved a grumpy morning companion, though a little brandy did help to revive him. Seemingly abashed at the previous night’s claim to Godhood, he set off north, saying he was needed at work. Following him, the party listened to him become embroiled in a conversation with Ke’shin and Xarrai about the various aspects of brewing and distilling. He seemed quite knowledgeable on the subject and was happy to share as much as possible about his chosen interest.

Eventually the party reached the edge of Jarren’s Outpost. A huge expanse of city appeared before them, encircled in a 25-foot high palisade wall. Rings of empty ditches encircled the wall, with a strip of earth cutting through them to each gate. The forest surrounding the city was gone; only stumps and bare earth remained for 150 yards outside the wall, stripped for materials or cut intentionally. From beyond the wall, smoke rose from hundreds of chimneys and smokestacks. The roofs of the building sloped gently upward toward the center of the down, giving the entirety a sort of domed appearance.

Reaching the gate, the guards instantly recognized Lazarus, both chiding him and welcoming him back to Jarren’s Outpost. Lazarus’ demeanor changed, becoming more sure of himself and supercilious. Grandly declaring that the party ‘was with him’ he stared down a guard, almost daring him to challenge the statement. Asade went one strong step farther and knocked into a guard as they passed, unmolested.

Inside the walls, people greeted Lazarus’ with a variety of shouts, glares, whistles and hand motions. He seemed loved by some, hated by others, but noticed by all. A couple peopled shouted out “God of the Distillery!” as he passed by, causing his face to redden considerably. “It’s only a nickname.”

Conceding that he owed them all a drink for the night’s meal and company, he offered to guide them to a choice tavern in town. Following him the group saw street after street busy with people, buying, selling, hawking, carrying. As some intersections of the larger streets were raised stone platforms upon which carts stood with goods for sale, though some were bare.

Lazarus finally stopped in front of one building with a swinging sign that declared it to be “The Witch’s Brew.” Going around back, he told them to meet him inside while a valet took care of Animus and Faelar’s horse. Mounts of various types were moored at hitching posts outside the establishments on this street, but Asade noticed one peculiar animal in particular. A lizard, complete with saddle, was perched comfortably on the side of a building, hooded, and unmoving. With a squawked “WHAT IS THAT?!” she ran off to inspect it.

The creature was nearly motionless, only its tail flicking like a bored cats and its tongue occasionally flicking out from between its lips. As she approached and gently reached out a hand to touch the blue-green pebbled skin it stopped moving entirely, and the its skin slowly bleached in color until it matched the adobe wall it was resting on, becoming nigh invisible but for the saddle and bags it wore. Squealing with excitement, Asade produced a goodberry, and after a time the lizard returned to it’s original color and flicked out a tongue to take it.

As Asade joined her companions inside The Witch’s Brew, they took in the sight of a full-scale gambling establishment and bar. Tables of dicing games and cards scattered throughout the room. In the corner a lone musician was badly playing some flutes, sitting on a raised chair. A large staircase near the full-circle bar lead to an open-air second level with a balcony encircling the inside of the building, room doors dotting the upper walls through. Leading them to the bar, Lazarus ordered them all a round of lagers and shots. Dropping the shot into the glass, he chugged it, and the party followed suit. Vahn chugged two. With a last gulp, Lazarus smiled, said his goodbye’s, and left the tavern, heading off to work at his bosses distillery/brewery.

Wincing at the noise of the pipes coming from the corner, the barmaid saw Faelar’s instruments and asked if he played. Not wanting to displace an already playing musician, Faelar refrained and decided to wait his turn. Upon being informed that musicians sat on a dunk tank, and that patrons determined how long a player could play, however, prompted Xarrai to prestidigitate a shot glass, chuck it at an indicated dart board on the wall, and cause the piper to fall, wailing, down a trash chute into the basement. Assuring Faelar that the musician was fine, Xarrai indicated that the chair was now free. Faelar’s performance, though not quite up to his usual standards, was nonetheless incredibly well-received by the crowd, who began to shower the tip jar with coins.

At the bar, Ke’shin inquired of the half-orc bartender as to the whereabouts of the Caravan of the Smiling Boar, the trading group associated with Prulekai. Leaning in close, Klai, the half-orc, became a little hostile, telling Ke’shin that it was both dangerous to ask or answer such a question in this town. Taking the hint, Ke’shin asked if she could tell him anything, to which she looked thoughtful, then informed him that she knew a person who COULD tell him that caravan’s travelling schedule and route, but that she’d need a favor in return. A local fist-fight with another bar’s champion was scheduled for the evening, but her fighter had backed out. If he could provide one, she’d give him a name.

Looking around at the party, they all shrugged, and agreed. “No magic, don’t get caught cheating. You win if your opponent surrenders or you knock them out.” Looking at each other, Vahn and Asade agreed to let Asade take this one, and Klai took out a large brass bell and began to pound on it. With a united screech chairs were pushed back and patrons streamed out of the bar, showing what looked like bloodstains on parts of the now empty floor. “We used to do this in here…but it got expensive,” remarked Klai.

Leading them out of The Witch’s Brew, Klai took them to the nearest junction of streets with a raised stone pedestal in the middle. About 35 feet across and 3 feet high, the raised platform already boasted a halfing in an expensive-looking hat calling out odds. The bookie was declaring a 6-to-1 ratio for any bets taken against he champion before the opponent was revealed. “Grosk” was announced and a large, squat earth genasi with all black eyes stepped onto the stage, raising his arms to the crowd.

Considering the champion, Asade stepped forward, beast-changing into an allosaurus as she did so, letting loose a terrific roar and stepping onto the stage. As people began to scream and run from the square, windows on all the nearby buildings were thrown open as people gaped at the dinosaur now standing center stage. Stunned by the turn of events, the halfling didn’t even move, but when Klai caught his attention, smiled, and winked, he looked down at the group and asked “How do I announce this…thunder lizard thing?” Name provided, he gathered himself, held a wand to his throat and boomed out in a magically enhanced voice “Enter Asade…THE THUNDER LIZARDNAAAAAAAR!” After a moment of silence, the crowd rushed back toward the stage, screaming at the bookie to take their new bets.

A purple-robed man on the edge of the stage briefly conferred with Grosk, and after waving his hands and chanting, Grosk, too, began to grow in size until he was approximately three-quarters the size of Asade. Sensing that things were approaching a ‘fair’ fight, Asade chose to revert to her half-orc form, and with a shrug, the man in purple robes threw up a shrug and Grosk also shrank. Seeing this, Xarrai began to make his way toward the man, who winked, and then vanished, invisible.

At the beginning of the fight, Grosk bit down hard and began to foam red at the mouth. The opening of the grudge match was merciless, Grosk pounding Asade twice for every hit she delivered. As they traded blows, Xarrai noticed the man in purple had reappeared by the side of the platform, muttering under his breaths, lips moving, eyes never wavering from the 7-week reigning champion. Pointing this out to Vahn, they began to move toward the man, who began to circle the stage, keeping away from them, until they split up, Ke’shin also joining the chase. Faelar ast ‘detect magic’ and noticed that Grosk was wearing a ring that glowed with an enchantment, and headed to the halfling bookie to accost him.

With the goliath, fire genasi and tiefling ganging up on him and telling him to leave, the resolve of the man in purple finally crumbled and he ran off…as he disappeared Grosk suddenly took a knee on stage, panting. In a very loud voice Faelar asked the bookie if he was aware that Grosk was cheating, drawing attention from the crowd nearby. With a growl, Grosk removed the ring and tossed it at Faelar, saying he needed to prove nothing, and that it was just a trinket. Faelar immediately began to identify it.

Seeing Grosk vulnerable, Asade ran forward to deliver a mighty blow, but withheld at the last second as she saw that Grosk wasn’t moving a muscle. She backed off, allowing him a few second to regain his footing, but noted that his mouth was no longer foaming red, and his attacks seemed weaker.

Continuing to trade punishing blows Asade pounded him with elbows, knees and fists. Grosk continually focusing on kicking the inside of her thigh and she finally got a leg, got in close and rammed an uppercut into the underside of his job, flinging him back, where he collapsed, unconscious.

With a roar of victory Asade transformed back into a dinosaur, and the crowd began chanting “Thunder Lizard! Thunder Lizard! THUNDER LIZARD!” over and over. The halfling bookie shrewdly apologized to Faelar, claiming to have had no idea, but Faelar was certain he was lying through his tiny little teeth. Knowing, now, that the ring linked two people’s lifeforces together, allowing them to share blows within a certain range if both people were wearing companion rings, Faelar tucked it into a pocket, idly wondering where the other ring was.

Shrinking back down to half-orc size Asade and the group made their way back to The Witch’s Brew. All along the way the crowds chanted her ring-name, and The Witch’s Brew was soon even more full than when they first arrived. As Asade was served an endless supply of roasted chicken, Klai approached Ke’shin. “I may have swindled you,” she grinned, “But you’ve made me a richer woman and I didn’t lie to you. The man you want is the Jarren, of Jarren’s Outpost. As the most profitable trader in the town he’s our offical liege, and he’s more likely to know the trade routes of various caravans than anyone else in town. Don’t worry, though, your friend you came in with? Lazarus? The Jarren’s favorite brewmaster; I’m sure he can get you an audience.”

Growling over this technicality, Vahn distracted his anger with the brilliant idea to call over a server and asked “For a Thunder Lizard” causing a momentary panic, and then a greedy gleam, to overtake the bartender’s face. Drawing a caricature of a dinosaur on the board and the words “Thunder Lizard” the lady began to mix various alcohols together and then poured brandy over the top, which she lit, declaring that “The Thunder Lizard” was now available for the meager price of 1g per drink.

Asade, meanwhile, was so inundated with drinks from pleased patrons that the bar put out a tip jar for her, labelled with “Thunder Lizard” which soon got confused with where to place money for the drinks. Xarrai, deciding to manage the group’s new prizefighter, quickly declared that all money in said jar belonged to them, and no one countermanded his opinion.

As the group lounged and the patrons drank, rumors bounded about the bar. “The Thunder Lizard is a wingless dragon, come to fight for man’s entertainment!” “How is she eating so many chickens?” “Are you kidding me?! Have you SEEN her true form!?! SHE’S HUGE!” As stories, helped along by dozens of “Thunder Lizard” drinks caroused, collided and exacerbated one another, a slim, well-dressed half-elf with slicked back hair approached Xarrai, exclaiming his appreciation for the fight, and asking where in the world he had bought Asade. Knowing he was treading dangerous ground (particularly with Asade’s hearing) he replied that he’d never tell. With a laugh, the half-elf told him that if he ever wanted to get into some real money to look up the Outpost Colliseum; they had exotic animal fights there worth real gold. Leaving a card, he walked away, and Xarrai burned it up as he held it in his hand.

The group, formerly flush with excitement, but now wearied by drink and partying, retired to bed.

Session 15: Kaiju Battle
"This is the best foe!"

While the party broke their fast, Asade gathered the Hinkelmann’s and prepared them for the journey home. As they headed north out of town, Faelar reiterated his “Almanac Song” for the children and was gratified to see they had retained the tune and seemed to be learning.

Arriving at the farm, the party investigated the area, searching for signs of the giant, armored scarecrow, or clue as to where the merchant troupe had gone. They found tracks synonymous with those of the scarecrow leading northwest into the forest that indicated it may have met up with a large wagon, larger than usual, and then headed north.

On the farmstead, Asade conversed with crows and determine that a “bad death smell” was coming from one of the abandoned worker hovels, and Vahn identified something undead inside. Poking around, they found a secret compartment containing a purple satin bag. Bringing it out into the light, Ke’shin opened it to discover a wiggling toe inside, wearing a silver ring. He identifed a symbol on it as belonging to the The Hand of Jergal.

After Ke’shin attempted to remove the toe and ended up getting scratched, Vahn took the bag and smashed it, destroying the toe, and allowed Ke’shin to identify the ring. It contained an enchantment that prevented corruption, and decay, but otherwise seemed to hold no other function. They discussed what purpose such a toe might have, but remained inconclusive.

Wishing the Hinkelmann’s well, the party decided to continue north, following the deep wagon tracks and their pre-determined route to Jarren’s Outpost.

On the way they encountered the remains of the three members of the Winged Patrol they had met with the night before, their axebeak mounts and riders dead, by the shores of the river. Asade, seeing the axebeaks killed, flew into a rage at the senseless violence and screamed her rage. A nearby river hydra, the culprit behind the killings, interpreted this as a challenge, and combat ensued.

Asade transformed into an allosaurus and Ke’shin caste haste upon her, making an already formidable druid absolutely terrifying. Vahn’s hammer, Xarrai’s flames, and Faelar’s vicious wordplay joined forces to whittle the hydra down, but with each devastating attack the beast group more heads, and became more aggressive. Eventually, with their combined powers, the group managed to defeat the hydra, but not before it managed to sprout seven heads. Pausing to collect blood and other pieces of useful hydra, the group then decided to make camp before continuing their journey.

Session 14: They Came from Below
12 Reasons not to be a Hermit

After a night of rest in the tower, the adventurers parted ways with Elenia. Partaking a last time of Fwar’s cooking skills, they stopped to query Korhaft, the Galeb Duhr, about Prulekai, the necromancer who had intruded on the archmage’s domain.

Not realizing that Prulekai had been an intruder, having displayed a tiny mechanical messenger bird, Korhaft had not questioned his visit, and was visibly distraught to learn that the necromancer had ulterior motives. He informed the group that the man had headed south, out the mountain entrance. Learning of the two shadow demons, he called to Guldin and began to make his way north to check on the passages below and make sure they remained blocked.

As the party ventured south, they made excellent time due to Asade’s survival skills and having trekked this path before. Covering a good deal more distance than before (possibly due to no longer fighting an uphill road). As they considered camping for the night, they began to see evidence of more fallen trees and shifted earth mounds, as before. Still believing the culprit to be a large, burrowing creature, Asade considered all the likely candidates. After conferring with the group, they decided to press on to the crazy old hermit’s hut, and make camp near there.

Finding the hut, they began to make camp as Asade knocked on the door of the hut. Hearing no reply, she swung the door open to find a ramshackle abode, with a messy dirt floor. Taking a closer look the earth looked…disturbed…and she felt wetness on her foot and looked down to see that the earth was bloodied. Leaving the hut she drew her companions’ attention to her findings…only to have her companions tell her that a mound of earth was burrowing toward them from the north. Vahn and Asade began to beat their weapon butts against the ground to draw its attention, and the creature stopped. A hole opened in the ground and a green liquid began to spray forth into the air, telling Asade that these were likely Ankheg’s they were dealing with, a large burrowing insectoid creature that sprayed acid.
As they watched this odd display, they looked around and noticed that they’d been flanked. More furrows were approaching from the east and west, and eventually the creatures sprang forth from the forest floor.

A ferocious battle ensued in which Vahn got to test his new hammer and Asade became a spider and webbed several enemies.Faelar quite literally shamed several of them to death with his vicious wordplay, and as a whole the party dispatched three adult Ankheg and several juveniles, despite both Ke’shin and Xarrai being caught, at various times, in the monsters’ jaws.

Victorious, the party made camp and had an uneventful night, with the noticeable exception of Xarrai drawing inspiration from Asade and taking out his wand of web to create a hammock for himself. It worked beautifully, until the spend ended an hour later, dumping him unceremoniously to the ground.

The group returned to Guldin Falls the next day. Wanting to interview The Hinkelmann Family before heading north, they hit up the Shimmerspindle Inn. As Vahn stabled his horse, he saw several avian creatures in the stables as well, with small wings and enormous beaks. Inside, Ke’shin noted that three members of the Winged Patrol were having a drink; pointing them out to his friends, the party approached and gave the Patrolmen the brief summary of what was happening with undead scarecrows and merchants to the north. The Hinkelmann’s managed to recall most of the name of the merchant caravan that had visited them (The Golden Pig something) and that rang a bell with the Patrolmen. An honest merchant troupe, if such a thing existed.

Resolved to head north the next day for more clues at the Hinkelmann farmstead, the group turned in for the night.


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