Rufusreich

Wizardess is a Dorky Word.
In which we kick two sets of evil elf ass. (Oct 3rd Recap 2/2)
  • And what to our wondering eyes should appear, but five disgusting driders and eight tiny reindeer! Um, no, not really the reindeer. Driders are much like centaurs in that they have the heads and torsos of elves and the bottom half of massive spiders. Their bite is poisonous and they cast spells. The leader of the group yelled invective at us, began singing a nasty bardsong, and invoked her necklace of fireballs, bathing us in flames. Before we could do significant damage, the fireballs claimed a victim.
  • Snuffles, RIP! Oh boar, we hardly knew ye! His dragon eyes glazed over and his corpse turned into a boar again. Tegan threw herself deeper into the battle, slaking her vengeance with extra damage. Billy made the most of his dragon attacks. Ruggiero gleefully cast his new spell, magic missile. Juno took down a drider cleric with a sneak attack. Clement cast holy smite. And Marielle cast two potent fireballs, beating the driders at their own game.
  • They was soon dead, much like the doornails. They had darn good loot too: many +1 short swords, 2 wands of cure critical wounds, potions of invisibility, spider climb, and jump., a stash of mundane items, ten onyxes, and two major finds: a Heyward’s handy haversack (Clement wore it, which would allow the party to spread out their scroll collection) and an enchanted +1 longsword with a jewel on the pommel that had a lifedrinking spell on it. Tegan removed the bauble and affixed it to her own +2 weapon, which will heal her as she injures her foes.
  • Taking a moment to strip Snuffles of his enchanted collar of protection and slightly singed military saddle, which we plopped on Billy’s shiny black back, tightening the girth around his muscular belly, Tegan shed a single tear. She built a small cairn over Snuffles’ body and prayed to Obad-Hai.
  • Ruggiero was shocked by all the carnage when he woke up, and even more so to identify the dead lead drider as Morning Glory Blade. So she hadn’t ever died at all! This explained the trouble with raising her. Instead the evil drider clerics had healed and corrupted her. We took locks of hair from each of the drider ladies, and hoped the Heironians could do something to help these poor elves.
  • The lair of the driders was massive and took a long time to search. However, we discovered a stash of treasure which the driders had presumably found when looting the rest of the level (no wonder the big room with the spider battle was so completely devoid of goodies.) The loot included a radiant sphere, which is a powerful weapon against the undead, scrolls of fly and haste, a Quaal’s feather token (conjures a wind and very useful to sailors), a love potion and a potion of speak with animals, an oil of timelessness (preserves corpses, etc), and 789 g.p. worth of coins.
  • At this point, we’d completely searched the cavern o’ driders and its cavern-lets, and the cavern o’ spiders and its cavern-lets. There was only one direction still to go (let’s call it east), and a pair of twin passages that led in that direction. We picked the one on the right, which led into some twisty passages. Our trek was uneventful until Copernicus alerted us to two female drow waiting in a small cavern ahead of us.
  • Billy developed a cool scheme where we’d pretend to be an evil party led by a black dragon, but the wizardesses [I reiterate: dumb word] weren’t buying it. In fact, they clearly expected us, because they were already hasted. The spells started flying, and at first the battle had us scared! One of the wizard chicks went invisible, to make life even harder. The tide of battle turned when Clement (who’d been hanging back with Ruggiero) charged in and touched the visible spellcaster, sucessfully penetrating her spell resistance his slay living spell. The drowess failed her saving throw, failed to avoid Clement’s deadly touch and expired(!) leaving her sister, though invisible, with little chance against Les Cinq. Ruggiero, meanwhile had taken advantage of a few safe rounds to cast see invisibility on himself. The rest of the party wailed on a summoned fiendish griffin while Billy tried to grab Ruggiero and run forward with him, using his enchanted speed. Billy failed in this attempt, but Ruggiero eventually was able to advance and look for the invisible wizardess. Marielle took a 50/50 shot and webbed the area around one of the two hidden corners. Haha! The web worked, but the drowess managed to avoid being stuck. Clever mage that she was, she nearly eluded us using a gaseous form spell, but Tegan cast faerie fire on her, enabling us all to see her and finish her off.
  • They also had ample treasure, including vests of resistance, higher level bracers of armor and other lovely things, which we threw into the Bag of holding.
  • Running low on spells and awfully weary, we snuck out of the dungeon, climbed back up the entrance hole, turned Billy human again and returned to Gryth to rest. Clement went to the Temple of Heironeous to report Morning Glory Blade’s fate and to deliver the locks of hair.
  • Meanwhile, Billy sat with all the new magic items and spent three hours and used some detect magic spells and three identify spells (3.5 rule – each identify takes one hour) to identify all the properties of the magic items. Then Quartermaster Billy laid out the items with the appropriate party member’s gear so that each person could review the allocation and make sure that everyone agreed with the distribuion. Thanks to this loot, Les Cinq would be re-entering the underdark as an even more formidable force than before, despite the loss of Snuffles. Billy also put into everyone’s backpack/bag of holding the new mundane items and scrolls. Then he started putting together a shopping list for the general store. The party could use a couple of augury scrolls (150gp each), since it has none left, and a couple more spider climb scrolls (cheap!). What else? Clement and Ruggiero couldn’t think of anything else. Tegan, Juno, and Marielle promised to ponder the issue after three pints of mead and a nice nap.
  • While the party napped, faithful Ruggiero ran to the general store and bought two scrolls of augury and one of spider climb.

FIN!! Can’t wait to deal with the rod of dark fate and solve the remaining mysteries!

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Down the Rabbit Hole, Alice
Okay, it was a drow and spider hole. (Recap Oct 3rd, 1/2)
  • We woke up early in the morning and crept out of The Drow’s Head. Leaving the city by its gates, we walked down the switchback trail that led up to Gryth, looking for a discreet place to polymorph Billy and Snuffle into black dragons (for that oh-so-evil Underdark look!) We had trouble finding an appropriate place, and in our travels we stumbled upon a dodgy little shantytown populated mostly by half-drows; perhaps products of rape? Or the children of Gryth soldiers and their drow “war brides”? While there, we met a surly fellow named Myka, who worked as a magical tattoo artist. Juno and Clement were particularly interested in hiring him to do some work for them; Juno wanted a tattoo of improved invisibility. Ruggiero hurried us along, allowing as how he didn’t like the vibe. He was extremely solicitous of Marielle’s safety, which was cute.
  • Eventually, we found the entrance to the Underdark, which was located in a natural ring of mini-mesas. [ed. Buttes? No geologist I.] Marielle polymorphed Billy and Snuffles, and we engaged in a lot of buffing. It was nice to have Ruggiero there as an extra spellcaster; his wizard’s spellbook included bull’s strength, cat’s grace, and bear’s endurance. The entrance was a circle, sort of in the form of an iris, made of armored metal plates. There were four pressure-sensitive controls, which Ruggiero knew how to operate. He also muttered the command words (wish we’d thought to ask him what they were!) The iris opened, revealed a black pit.
  • Marielle cast light on a coin, and we peered over the edge. Ruggiero told us that it was about 30’ down, and that the rough walls of the cliff provided many handholds. With a smirk, Juno Nim produced the rope of climbing and explained its miraculous properties. Tegan and Clement rode down on the dragons, while Marielle, Juno and Ruggiero shimmied down the enchanted rope.
  • ‘Twas gloomy below. We marched behind Copernicus, who flew ahead to scout with his low-light vision. Eventually we reached a fork in the road. The left fork led, Ruggiero said, to the cavern where the colossal monstrous spiders had attacked them. We took the right fork instead. The passage was a long thin corridor, which ended in a room where we could see, in the distance, massive spider webs. We approached cautiously, noting that the stone under our feet was the remains of a paved street … a trace of the orog city that had housed Kursk’s sarcophagus?
  • We reached the webs, and Billy touched them to see whether they were still sticky. They were dusty and clearly abandoned. A thorough search showed that there was no treasure. Pooh.
  • Since this room represented a dead end, there was no choice but to go through the site of Spider Battle One. Warily, we added some extra buffing: Marielle’s oil of charisma, an improved invisibility on Juno Nim, an alchemist’s fire in Copernicus’ talons. We were all about to take our antitoxin … but Clement suggested an augury. Pelor said that taing the antitoxin now would bring us neither weal nor woe. Odd. We refrained.
  • We found ourselves in a MASSIVE chamber with many alcoves. As we searched we began to put it together: the orog city had been taken over by the drow, who had turned it into a graveyard as a sort of insult to the orogs. Fragments of drow gravestones were everywhere, and we found some centuries-old drow corpses (ewww.) We’d only begun to search when we were attacked from behind NOT by two colossal monstrous spiders as we’d expected .. but by their skeletons! No venom sacs—that Pelor knows His stuff.
  • They were tough, and it it took a long time to defeat them. Billy and Snuffles employed their many scaly attacks, Tegan whacked with her quarterstaff, Clement cast searing light, Ruggiero threw his shuriken, Juno won Most Valuable Archer, and Marielle kicked ass with her lightning bolts. It was a pretty relaxed battle except for all the damage Tegan took, at about 25 hp for every skeletal hit! Ruggiero had to heal her with the necklace, and Clement worried they were taking too many risks with her health. Yet we prevailed. Huzzah! Sadly, the undead don’t carry treasure. Marielle got cranky.
  • Speculation: had someone killed the spiders and then animated their corpses?
  • It was going to take a long time to search the huge cavern, so we sort of “skimmed it” with a light search and a detect magic spell. There was only one magical aura, which seemed to be centered on the gate at the western edge of the cavern.
  • Juno examined it, but wasn’t convinced that it was a magical device, let alone one he could disable. Dragon Billy declared that he wasn’t afraid, and he pushed the gate open with his claw … BANG! A bolt of magic emerged from the gate, and hit Billy. He crumpled to the floor, unconscious. He’d been stunned by a spell! The gate closed back on its own, leaving us a whole mess of unconscious dragon bard to contend with, and no progress made. Juno caught a rat and sent it through the gate … no effect. The revived Billy cast detect magic, and learned that the magic was still there, though … waiting.
  • Billy looked at Ruggiero with a big dragon grin. The handsome youth gulped. Within minutes, Ruggiero had a rope tied around his waist, and Tegan and Clement were carrying heavy tombstones. The young monk opened the gate and took the magical stunning. Tegan and Clement used the stones to wedge the gate open. Marielle leaned over the fallen youth, stroking his hair. The party agreed that they needn’t worry: Ruggiero would be fine in five minutes. We didn’t even need to wait until he wakes up. “Let’s go through the gate and see what’s on the other side! What’s the worst that could happen?”

Next time: Something bad happens.

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Lambrusco is Our Lucky Charm
A little extra gaming, done.
  • The night before we went into the Underdark, Marielle drank a copious quantities of “Swarven’s Tears” (who knew the fruity drink could be bought by the pitcher in Gryth?) and went to bed early. While the sorceress was away, the mice played. Er, figuratively.
  • Juno Nim and Billy took Ruggiero out the a vacant lot behind The Drow’s Head and set up some little firkins (that’s your Scrabble word for the day, kiddos) for target practice. They handed him a scroll of magic missile and asked the strapping lad to try to learn it as he blasted the targets. Ruggiero succeeded at his spellcraft check, and now knows magic missile.
  • Billy then rushed over to the all-night general store, where he bought 5 scrolls of darkvision, 9 vials of antitoxin, three scrolls of barkskin, and a scroll of haste. Tegan entrusted Ruggiero with the necklace of holy aid; we felt it would be better for Ruggiero to spend a round using its powers than to waste one of our “tank’s” attacks.
  • Tegan went to see Varshalla at the Temple of Heironeous. The paladin was kind enough to come down and meet Tegan in the garden, even though she had changed into her nightgown, put on her moisturizing mud mask, and put her hair in curlers. Tegan apologized for the intrusion, but hoped Varshalla could explain the concept of faerzress to her. Varshalla explained that it was a magical radiation that permeated the Underdark, powering drow spells and allowing some plants to grow without sunlight. The radiation interfered with some divination and conjuration spells, particularly scrying and teleporting.
  • The gang gathered for a nightcap before going to bed. Suddenly, as they were sharing information, Clement’s eyes blazed with white light, and a majestic voice issued from his mouth saying “You’ve got mail!” It was Pelor’s prophecy, finally. As you may recall, the gang had asked why Morning Glory Blade couldn’t be raised from the dead.

    SHE IS NOT LOST, BUT FULL OF HATE
    BEWARE, ELF, OR SHARE HER FATE

  • We found that one to be a head-scratcher, and rampant speculation ensued.
  • Finally, at 2am, Clement cast lesser planar ally to try to summon a celestial ally of his, Angelina the Angel. He asked for a big favor: Angelina joining the party on this quest. Angelina and Pelor asked for many things in return, including a side-quest, but insisted on a point that Clement knew Billy would never accept. They insisted that Angelina would get to pick one magic item of her choice to take back the plane of Elysium as her reward. Clement refused the bargain. As Angelina’s voice faded from Clement’s mind, he heard her murmur that he might one day regret his choice.

Ready to kick some Colossal monstrous spider ass, peeps?

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Thomas Winston Briggs Disapproves!
Google it. (Labor Day #5 of 5)
  • After we woke up, prayed, communed, etc. we set out on the road to Gryth. The trip was uneventful. As we neared Gryth, we noticed that the terrain became more arid and scrubby – no trees could grow. Near Gryth itself, the ground was sandy and desert-like. Ironically, the TRUE water goddess Latis would no doubt be very popular here.
  • Gryth was a highly fortified hill-top town. Its battlements, gatehouses, and earthen ramparts were lovingly maintained and stood in contrast to the grubbiness of the rest of the town. These people clearly lived in constant fear of attack. We would later learn that historically, the attackers of the town were mostly drow from the Underdark, with the odd orog or orc attack as well. There was a large tavern, a large temple, a single general store, and precious little else.
  • We knocked on the door of the Temple of Heironeous and were greeted by a rather snotty lay brother of the order. He told us that Father Atticus was a very busy man and likely did not have time to meet with us. When Juno Nim pulled baronial rank on him, called him “peasant,” and told him to fetch “his betters,” he said that there were no better than servants of Heironeous and implied that we were inferior. The lay brother left us waiting in the street while he went to inquire.
  • Juno Nim went sneaky sneaky around the side of the church. He heard some faint voices coming from a sumptous second-floor room with a balcony (this would turn out to be Fr. Atticus’ office), so he used the rope of climbing to scale the wall and eavesdrop. He heard a male voice ranting to a female about “upstarts” and “imperialist Melvaunt.” The female was highly deferential in return, but she felt he was being too harsh in his estimation.
  • After thirty minutes of standing in the street, the rude lay brother finally admitted us to Father Atticus’ office, where three people were waiting. Atticus’ two companions were a formidable-looking middle aged warrior woman and a handsome young man … a familar one … Ruggiero! We greeted him warmly. The female turned out to be Ruggiero’s mother (and Mandelbaum’s widow), Varshalla. Varshalla is a 13th level paladin of Heironeous, and Juno Nim recognized her voice as the second speaker.
  • Atticus, beneath a veneer of politeness, wanted nothing to do with us. He emphasized that he had not asked for our help and said that the Church of Heironeous was more that up to the task. He was suspicious that we knew anything about this, and actively angry after Brother Clement said he would pray for the soul of Morning Glory Blade. We left, shaking our heads at Father Atticus’ rudeness.
  • We took rooms at the local tavern, The Drow’s Head, which was quite large since Gryth played host to so many shipments of coal traveling from the dwarven mountains to Melvaunt. It featured the ACTUAL dried and stuffed head of a drow who had been defeated in battle. The barkeep, Jimmy, was quite rude to Billy and seemed to be racist against elves, but at least agreed to give us rooms after Clement flashed huge quantities of gold.
  • Marielle and Tegan decided to wear their lowest-cut gowns and swan around the Drow’s Head tavern room as “bait.” Juno Nim stayed in the rooms to guard our stuff, Billy set himself up by the hearth to sing, while a tense and wary Clement sat by himself at a table, watching the girls trade cleavage for information. It didn’t take long for two rough-looking coal carters to come up to the girls. The carter who put the moves on Marielle made some offensive remarks essentially saying that all elf girls were sluts, and he got a bad case of “roamin’ hands.” Marielle became enraged and threatened him with a fireball. She also engaged her Frightful Presence and half the men in the bar fled in terror. Jimmy the barkeep was none too happy about losing so much business.
  • After this unpleasant incident, who should arrive to the nearly empty tavern but Ruggiero and his mother! Billy took a moment to apologize to Jimmy the barkeep for all the ruckus and said he would take the party and their visitors up to our suite for a private chat; he hoped this would facilitate the locals returning to drink. Indeed, Billy tried to gain Jimmy’s loyalty by making him a gift of the piece of lapis lazuli we’d gotten from the hags. It didn’t really work. However, Billy did learn a little about the personalities of the wizard Dragonbane and Morning Glory Blade. Neither were locals, though, and Billy was disappointed that we couldn’t interview their families.
  • We received our two guests in our room. Clement said what fine things he had heard about Mandelbaum, and said what an honor it had been to avenge his death by killing the orogs. Varshalla spoke fondly of her late husband and treated the party with great respect. She apologized for Atticus’ rudeness, saying that he feared that “imperialist” Melvaunt in general and we in particular would try to steal the rod – he felt that only a Heironean could be trusted with its power. She assured us that she personally found Atticus’ fears baseless. She seemed a bit perplexed why we had made such an impression on Ruggiero after only one meeting, and seemed to be trying to assess our abilities and motives.
  • Varshalla was clearly troubled and ambivalent, and she chose her words carefully. She said that she felt honor-bound to support Fr. Atticus both in his tactical plan (Atticus was raising a Heironian army from shrines across the region to storm the Underdark) and in his demand for secrecy about the Heironian party, but she was privately worried his plan would take too long. She had heard whispers that others sought the rod, and feared they would use its powers to exterminate the town of Gryth. Ruefully, she bowed to each of us and departed for the temple, leaving Ruggiero behind to visit with us.
  • Once his mother left, Ruggiero’s whole affect changed. He revealed that his mother had released him from his subcontract to the Heironians, and he was now a free agent; was this Varshalla’s indirect way of countermanding Atticus’ orders? The Hieronian party had consisted of Varshalla, Ruggiero, the wizard Dragonbane, the bard Morning Glory Blade, a nondescript barbarian, and a nondescript cleric. Dragonbane and Varshalla were the heavy hitters, but Dragonbane was pompous, ineffective, and a terrible “team player.” In their first encounter, they faced two Colossal monstrous spiders and were roundly defeated. Morning Glory Blade died, and all the others were poisoned. Varshalla had to sound the retreat, taking a lock of the bard’s hair and hoping to raise her from the dead later. All resurrection magic has failed, though!
  • Now that he was a free agent, Ruggiero wanted very badly to join us on our expedition and redeem himself, rather than waiting for the Heironian army to form up. We said we would consider his kind offer and answer him soon. As he left, he asked Marielle out to dinner, and she accepted.
  • Billy donned the hat of disguise and turned himself into a muscle-bound blond Human warrior. He brought some beers to the city guards and tried to make nice. Despite his sneakiest politician’s efforts, he was unable to soften their ingrained prejudice against elves—Gryth had endured too many incursions by sneaky, evil drow. He learned that the guard’s Granny Og believed that the comet portended a drow invasion.
  • Clement, Tegan, Billy, and Juno took a table for four, allowing Marielle and the smitten Ruggiero to dine alone. The dazzling (potential) couple discussed their pasts and their ambitions as adventurers (did you know that Marielle likes money?) as Marielle tried to avoid Billy’s gaze; the bard was making faces at her. Quel scalawag!
  • Brother Abelard showed up at the tavern to pay his respects. He told us that we had his secret support, although there were certain types of help he could not offer, due to his intense respect for hierarchy. We asked him many questions, but we couldn’t think of any questions he was ABLE and PERMITTED to answer. However, he said that the most disturbing part of the story, in his opinion, was that the temple had been unable to raise Morning Glory Blade from the dead, even with true resurrection! Heironeous was a powerful god, and he’d never known divine magic to fail in this way. We thanked him for his time.
  • After some discussion, we decided to take Ruggiero up on his offer to aid the party. We talked a little about the best uses for him – a lower level wizard-monk would be vulnerable in the heat of battle. We would not be able to protect him when the smelly stuff hit the fan. We suggested that he brush up on his hiding skills.
  • We decided we would leave for the Underdark in the morning, after some shopping. However, we all agreed that clever shopping could be a key factor in success. We identified a few scrolls we’d like to sell (either here or back in Melvaunt.) We all agreed that we should buy some antitoxin (a vial sells for 50 gp). Each adventurer agreed to think about some things to buy while we slept. Clement rubbed his chin and wondered whether there was anything they could buy in this one-horse town that would help Ruggiero be tougher.
  • Before they retired, Clement and Billy gathered in Clement’s room to perform a divination. Our question was: “O Mighty Pelor, why has Morning Glory Blade not been raised from the dead?” We reached Pelor’s answering machine, but Pelor promised to provide us with poetic prophecy next session. (N.B.)
  • With that, we all bedded down in our (quasi-) sumptuous rooms at The Drow’s Head and let dreams of loot dance in our heads.

    FIN.
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Water, Water Everywhere
And never a hag, we think? (Labor Day #4 of 5)
  • We woke up in the morning at the Dog and Duck. After our usual preparation, we were contemplating the two-day trip to Gryth when we decided to do some divinations. First, we asked about dangers on the road to Gryth and were told that ‘THINGS ARE SELDOM WHAT THEY SEEM / SKIM MILK MASQUERADES AS CREAM.’ When we asked whom we should ask for information, Pelor suggested Nikolai.
  • Golly, who’da thunk it, Nikolai stopped by. He gave us some advance information about Gryth (all of which is revealed later, so I’ll elide it) and suggested a shortcut to shave a day off of our travel. There was a path through the wilderness that was rather rugged and too narrow for carts, but fine for us. It went through the lands of some newcomers to the Glister area: a virginal cult of tall, attractive blonde women who worshipped the water goddess Latis. Indeed, this cult had taken in some of the young girls who had been orphaned or widowed by the orog invasion, providing them with food and shelter. We were delighted to make Gryth in one day, not two, and decided to spend a day resting in Glister. [Actually, I think we got confused about in-game time, but what the hell…] During this day off, we visited with Nikolai and went for some nature walks in the woods around the town. In the evening, Tegan took Clement out for a date, and they returned with messed-up hair.
  • In the morning, we set out on the tiny shortcut path. We walked for hours, but eventually Copernicus alerted us to a large human about a quarter-mile away. We approached only to see a seven-foot tall Nordic beauty kneeling in a stream, chanting in an unknown tongue. She wore Grecian robes and was stunningly beautiful. We chose to wait politely until she had finished her watery devotions and then announced our presence.
  • The newcomer introduced herself as Atalanta, a cleric of Latis. She enjoyed meeting the party and proffered a warm invitation to the worshippers’ midday meal. Billy was very curious about whether Atalanta had giant blood, and tried to see if he could talk her into arm-wrestling. Marielle asked how the Glister girls were faring as new members of the cult, and Atalanta was rather evasive. It gave Clement a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach. As they approached the ruined temple (vaguely Athenian, abutting a weed-choked lake) and the eight smiling Grecian-looking women standing by the temple, Clement pulled five feet back from the party and without asking any permission cast detect evil.
  • “That’s awfully rude,” sneered Atalanta as she noted Clement casting his spell. The party tried various gambits to soothe Atalanta and stall for time while the cleric concentrated and learned the truth. Soon, however, Atalanta’s evil nature was proven beyond a doubt as Atalanta waved her hand and cast a spell, trapping Tegan, Marielle, and Billy in a cage [As Pelor had predicted!], and the party was attacked by the cult members and a hideous, stinking creature emerged from the lake behind her! Atalanta also called for a platoon of female zombies to charge from the temple.
  • A battle!! Even though she was stuck in the cage, Marielle pummeled the Grecian ladies and the hideous creature with fireballs, some of which failed due to their spell resistance, but one of which killed many including (we learned later) one of the three main monsters. Billy got to use the arrowhawks’ scroll to cast a shadowy fireball. Because of the spell resistance, Billy and Marielle mostly concentrated on spells that couldn’t be countered, such as haste, and Tegan pa-twanged away with arrows from inside the cage. Meanwhile, in the direct line of fire, Juno Nim, Clement, and Snuffles were under attack. Snuffles engaged Miss Hideous directly, luckily fending off many strange magical attacks as she pummeled him due to his excellent Fortitude save. Atalanta faced Clement directly (who had luckily cast prayer just before she arrived), plunging her hand into his chest. The surviving Grecian girls ran after Juno Nim; he got some with his arrow sneak attacks, then fled into the woods to hide, emerging occasionally to skewer them with arrows. This left poor Clement facing all the Grecian girls (Atalanta had died by now), but the tide of the battle had turned by this point, so he used ethereal jaunt to leave the Prime Material Plane and heal himself. Billy’s sling finished off Miss Hideous, and Tegan and Juno’s arrows performed the final mop-up.
  • As each monster died, the strange particulars of the battle became clear. We had been facing a coven of hags and their minions. Hags had special powers when they formed a coven of the three types: an annis (Atalanta), a sea hag (one of the Grecian ladies), and a green hag (Miss Hideous.) The other ladies were disguised ogres and stone giants, and all the combatants were hidden by a veil spell. THAT’s why some Grecian ladies had done major damage by hitting us with dainty sticks: they were the giants’ greatclubs. The zombie girls proved to be the animated corpses of the girls of Glister.
  • Clement tried to dispel magic on the cage several times, but was unsuccessful. Pelor proved useful again as we had to resort to that expensive disintegrate scroll … but the three adventurers were now free.
  • We searched the bodies of the coven of hags and those of their giant and ogre servants. Along with some pretty worthless stuff, we found two scrolls, a small jar of ointment, four potions, and a small jewel. All of these except the jewel had magical auras. Consulting his bardic knowledge, Billy explained that the jewel, a moonstone worth 20gp, had until moments ago been an enchanted magic item called a hag eye. All three hags could see through it over long distances. Now that they were dead, it had reverted to its mundane form. Using read magic and identify, we learned more about the scrolls and potions. All four potions were mage armor. The jar held one application of ointment of charisma. Billy volunteered to read the scrolls, and paid a small price for it: the first scroll of sound burst turned out to have a curse attached which transformed him into (gasp!) a blonde! Marielle was kind enough to polymorph the bard back to his naturally redheaded form, and even offered to do the same for Clement, removing his unearthly hell-marks and coal-black hair. The cleric refused, mumbling something about humility. The second scroll had no curse, but was kind of lame: it was a 5-die lightning bolt.
  • Juno Nim discovered a glyph of warding in the temple which would trigger a nasty spell if the party opened a hidden door. Marielle, Billy, Tegan, and Clement backed away while he worked … and whew, he disabled the trap! Behind the door was some major loot! A rectangular block of incense of meditation which would maximize a cleric’s spells for a whole day (as the feat), a hat of disguise, which magically alters a character’s appearance as the spell disguise self (see note in comments), a rope of climbing, which animates, ties itself to something and provides footholds along its length, and 6 citrines. The latter are gems worth 50 gp each. Juno took one to pay his cohorts among the Hanamatchi.
  • Tegan sent a tiny messenger to Nikolai in Glister, asking him to notify the families of the girls who had perished. She also asked Nikolai to contact the REAL church of Latis in the north and to warn them what had been done in the goddess’ name. Meanwhile, we all dug graves for the poor Glister zombie girls (whom we didn’t have the magical resources to resurrect), and Clement gave a brief homily. Billy and Juno Nim each emitted one little glistening tear, but denied the furtiva lagrima, as it would have spoiled their macho images.
  • A weensy nixie who liked to whisper came up out of the water. She was adorable. She thanked us for making the spring “clean” by getting rid of the evil sisters. She gave us a potion of cure serious wounds to show her appreciation.
  • We made camp in the ruined temple. Marielle arranged the pieces of chipped plaster into a pleasing pattern because by Ehlonna, she was going to make the temple as charismatic as possible.
  • Before bed, Clement cast a divination and learned that the rest of their trip to Gryth would have no dangers. He then went for a walk with Tegan and managed to offend her by mentioning Crusoe. Much teenage drama ensued, none of which Clement understood. Juno Nim couldn’t give him brotherly advice without laughing at how clueless the priest was about women.
  • No attacks that night, but somebody snored….. :)
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JetBlue Doesn't Serve Brestelcia
Traveling to Glister (Labor Day #3 of 5)
  • Aubrey waved goodbye to us from the deck of his ship. Clement said a brief prayer that he’d have a safe journey back to Trevethian Island. “Best get moving,” barked Juno Nim. “We’re burning daylight. Indeed, it was already 5pm.
  • We hurried as best we could until the sun’s last rays had left the sky. Tegan used her wilderness lore to locate a nice campsite about fifty feet from the road, and we pitched our tents. Billy reminded everyone of their place in our traditional watch order. “Good old watch order,” said Juno. “You lot were getting soft sleeping in a bed without interruptions.”
  • Small sub-groups kept watch during the night, which was clear and surprisingly chilly. During the last watch (Clement and Billy’s) the little bells attached to Billy’s ingenious fishing-line watch system began to ring. “INCOMING!” bellowed the bard. Clement and Billy readied their crossbow and sling, as the other three adventurers began to stir and grab their weapons. The foes were seven grisly undead with huge prehensile tongues (see this pic) which Tegan later identified as mohrgs. Clement smiled confidently and began trying to turn them, but all of his efforts failed—they were tough! Therefore the battle was joined physically. When one of them grabbed the hapless cleric and touched him with its tongue, he fell to the ground, immobile. The remaining four humanoids and the animals fought all the more fiercely … another tongue attack and Juno Nim joined the cleric on the ground! Luckily, by this time the battle had been all but won … but two paralyzed party members represented a high price. Happily, they recovered their ability to move after a few minutes had passed. Clement said that he would like to go on record that being tongued by the undead had occurred without his consent. Marielle was disappointed that the creatures carried no treasure.
  • We trudged along for the rest of the day without much excitement. This road was much rougher and ill-maintained than the one which connected Melvaunt and Glister, and Marielle complained bitterly about the damage the gravel was doing to her “most adorable pair of shoes.” Clement soothed her by promising to perform a mending spell after their adventure was over. “After all,” opined Billy, “those shoes probably will be absorbing some monster blood at the tomb of Kursk One-Tusk.” Marielle rolled her eyes.
  • Late in the afternoon, Copernicus warned us that there were two large flying creatures ahead, roaming through the air in a random search pattern. We hid in the woods, but the birds saw Clement (he was having a rough day) and threw themselves at him (a sort of aerial charge, if you will.) The battle ensued and we dispatched them without too much drama, although they were quite tough. They were unlike any birds Tegan had ever seen and their flight patterns had been strange, sort of like helicopters rather than hawks. We eventually deduced that they were intelligent from the ornaments they wore and the pouches they had. In fact the pouches contained 1000 gp, a blue gem (lapis lazuli) and a scroll, which we determined to be shadow evocation.
  • Footsore and weary, we made it to Glister. We’d pushed ourselves beyond the normal amount humanoids could walk, and we felt woozy, almost about to pass out. Luckily, Glister loves us, so we were given a meal for the ages and free rooms at The Dog and Duck. We collapsed into bed, happy to be one with our pillows.
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Old Home Week in Melvaunt
It wouldn't be Melvaunt without a little intrigue (Labor Day #2 of 5)
  • Cha-Chung! Law and Order Sound. Clement and Billy teamed up to question the rapist and his pals using zone of truth and detect thoughts. They determined that they’d all been smuggling for years, but that Tom and Jerry, twins who’d been the lowest ranking of the crew were horrified by William’s behavior and weren’t bad lads at heart. William, the rapist, apparently did this often and had such a warped, misogynist sense of women that he would surely rape again if any leniency was shown; the stakes were high, as Brestelcian law treated rape as a capital crime. The leader of the crew, Robbie, was more morally complicated—he wouldn’t have committed the offense, but he had no regard for any laws whatever and thrilled at disobeying them.
  • In the full open session of court, it was relatively easy to prosecute the case. William was beheaded by an executioner sent over from Melvaunt. The other boys were sentnced to a term of labor on the tenant farms for being accessories and for smuggling. Currently, the solution for this was leg-irons and whips, but Clement promised to enchant them as soon as he could spare the higher-level spells. Stinky Stan did not attend the trial.
  • Billy went to his Council of Iron meeting, where all the nobles applauded his zeal in prosecuting the miscreants. Not much else happened there. After a rehearsal with “The Billy-ettes,” he hurried home to find Clement and Marielle puzzling over four divinations Clement had cast about the situation at the mint. They’d learned that the coins weren’t minted on Trevethian, by any nobles, or by any Council member. Marielle then thought to asked if a mint employee had created them, and over the course of two divinations they learned that the #2 man at the mint, Calvin Hobbes, was to blame.
  • The more interesting question was why. Pelor simply said:
    TROUBLE SOMETIMES RISES
    THIS TROUBLE SURPRISES

  • Curious. Leaving the deeper meaning aside, Les Trois hurried off to present their finding to Halmath Bruil, the Lord of Keys. Bruil and several of his constables accompanied them to Hobbes’ home and they arrested him. Les Trois received Bruil’s permission to conduct the questioning using zone of truth and detect thoughts as they had that morning.
  • Hobbes was rather wily—using some tricky lawyerish methods to try to defeat our spell (plus he seems to have had a fantastic Will save.) We didn’t get much out of him other than a) he’d done it, b) our exposing him put him in more danger from his criminal contacts (possibly Lord Leirayghon? unclear) than from the law, c) the counterfeit coins were actually struck in the mint itself. He asked to speak with us alone (no cops), and offered us a $75,000 gp bribe to sweep the incident under the rug. We refused, and left him with Halmath Bruil, who is conducting an ongoing investigation.
  • The next day was rather uneventful. We returned to Trevethian, where Clement cast the second hallow. We sold the cutter we had seized from the lads for 3,400gp, 2000 of which we used to cast this spell. The expensive boxes that Juno Nim had ordered arrived. Marielle restrained herself from looking inside, although she was curious.
  • On Friday, Billy went to the Council of Iron, where he was congratulated for helping to catch the counterfeiter by everyone, even Dornig Leirayghon. Curious. Meanwhile, Clement traveled around Trevethian Island, touting the big festal ecumenical mass for Sunday that he and Daniel Wood had arranged. Tegan arrived from her tour of the Thar, riding a somewhat pooped Snuffles the dragon. Billy had a rehearsal with his dancing girls. Over dinner, Tegan announced that the orc presence in the Thar was ongoing. Marielle wished Juno would return, or at least explain his mysterious side-quests.
  • Billy confessed that over the week, both Lord Leirayghon and Lord Calaudra had approached him, importuning him to make their children his proxy on the Council when he was adventuring. Billy was loath to do so, fearing intrigue. He mused about naming Molly to the position, but Tegan quickly piped up, demonstrating her knowledge of protocol, and said that the nobles would be scandalized by this choice.
  • Saturday: Market Day at last! Juno returned and Les Cinq had a nice breakfast together. Juno announced that a carpenter may show up that the castle and the others were to let him do his work. The ladies went off on a shopping trip. Billy met with Andros to inquire whether he knew a skilled, discreet blacksmith (another mystery: No one knows, but Billy has plans for “The Hammer of Gruumsh.”). Clement attended an Oghman service because he was curious. He ran into Sister Rana there, and learned that there had been no news about the Heironean party in Gryth.
  • Get your lighters and glow sticks out: Billy Bartholomieux is hitting the stage! Clement and Juno Nim reserved a table right up front and were getting a bit tipsy. A spotlight hit the stairs (?) and Tegan came down, wearing a fancy gown (shopping trip!), citrine barrettes and a periapt of charisma. Marielle giggled as the boys stared at her, stunned. Before they could comment, the spotlight hit the stage and Billy’s show began. Tout Melvaunt was there, and they were knocked out by his performance. His well-trained dancers showed off the tumbling-fight choreography that was a first in Melvaunt’s entertainment history. One of them did have a slight wardrobe malfunction due to some sloppily applied double sided tape.
  • After the show finished, Tegan pulled Clement out to the town square. The reason for her finery became plain as she confessed a long-term crush on him, dating back to the Tulk days of their youth. The cleric was gobsmacked, but said that he would think about what she had said, and would respond thoughtfully once he absorbed its import. [The next day, after some misguided advice from Peri the Mace, he would announce to Tegan that he was curious to pursue this romance.]
  • Bleary-eyed and full of wine and music, we dragged ourselves back to the pier, where we paid a somewhat seedy boatman to take us home to Trevethian—Sunday was going to be a big day, and we wanted to sleep in our own beds.
  • Clement woke early and scurried to the chapel, where he and Daniel had only an hour to finish decorating for the ecumenical festal mass. The cream of Melvaunt’s nobility had agreed to attend the re-dedication of Trevethian’s chapel which had been remodeled during the last ten days. The mass was lovely, although the choir’s intonation was a bit suspect. No wonder: some of them had been dancing in Billy’s show and attending the after-parties!
  • Les Cinq gladhanded the nobility and charmed the locals until the chapel was empty, save one visitor clad in the silvery robes of an Oghman: Sister Rana. She told the adventurers that she had news to share about the Harbinger quest, so we invited her back to the castle and plied her with tea and Mrs. Bridges’ snickerdoodles.
  • It seems that Sr. Rana’s childhood sweetheart is a man named Brother Abelard, who is a cleric of Heironeous in Gryth; they have apparently been conducting a torrid long-distance affair for years. Abelard reports that the Heironeans’ quest to retrieve the Rod of Dark Fate has failed. The party returned defeated, badly poisoned, and dispirited from the Underdark. Things went so badly that their heavy hitter, the wizard, quit in disgust. Worst of all, their bard, Morning Glory Blade, perished in the Underdark from the poison, and all attempts to resurrect her using a lock of hair have failed … mysteriously. Tomnein is very concerned. He has chosen to speak to us before approaching Despot Marsk.
  • Billy makes his carefully considered decision and names Sister Rana as his proxy on the Council of Iron while we’re away in Gryth. She is honored. We spend 150gp to provide her with message potions to contact us with.
  • We were excited to get on the road and wanted to leave by 3pm. Clement cast a divination asking Pelor what we should buy before leaving:

    BE WILLFUL BE STRONG
    TO LAST SO LONG
    CAGE OF IRON, CAGE OF STEEL
    FIND A WAY TO BLAST FOR WEAL

  • We interpreted this to mean that we should buy a scroll of disintegrate to destroy an iron cage—seemed the most “blast-ish.”
  • Then we asked Pelor to describe the greatest foe we must fight:

    MANY MIGHTY FOES YOU FACE
    ROD OF MIGHT IS IN FIRST PLACE
  • We went shopping and also bought some scrolls of owl’s wisdom and darkvision. We got Aubrey to take us down the coast, so we could save some overland travel time. We passed the red herring fishery that had once been Zhentarim Keep and traveled as far as we could until the light began to fail.

    Next time: Trudging, trudging, trudging.
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Take Back the Night
In which "Nous, Les Trois" defend a girl's honor (Labor Day recaps #1 of 5)
  • As we were eating breakfast, Pluarty Crow came over to Billy to offer him a business proposition. Pluarty had become a huge fan of Billy’s during his previous performances in Melvaunt, and he wanted to give Billy a standing invitation to perform at The Crow’s Nest on market day (i.e. Saturday.) He was particularly keen on having Billy sing this Saturday and offered a 50/50 split of the take from the door. Billy thought for a moment. It was a small venue, so the earnings would be negligible, but he had not had a chance to do much public performing for paying customers lately. He agreed and began working on a set list; later in the week, he would hire some nubile wenches as backup singers and dancers. Castle Trevethian would echo with the sound of rehearsals: “five-six-seven-EIGHT!!”
  • After Pluarty left, Tegan announced to the party that she needed to take a four-day tour of the Thar. She asked Marielle to polymorph Snuffles into a copper dragon as usual, bought two whispering wind scrolls to communicate with us, and packed some other defensive magic with her in case of emergency. We all wished her well. As she departed with the newly scaly Snuffles she reminded Marielle that they had a standing appointment for “that thing we talked about.” Juno and Clement looked at each other quizzically.
  • Juno, too, withdrew from the party to work on his own quests, which he kept under a veil of secrecy. He promised he’d meet up with everyone for Billy’s show on Saturday, but between now and then he made no promises. It was down to Les Trois.
  • Marielle and Clement decided to go back to Castle Trevethian so that Clement could cast the hallow spell they’d all discussed. It would take two castings of hallow to cover the castle completely. Marielle suggested that they imbue the spell with an extra power, that of detect evil. Now any of Les Cinq will be able to tell when evil creatures or people entered the castle; Branwen Ashmara’s visits were destined to become even MORE awkward. The hallow spell would take eight hours to cast, and afterwards Marielle intended to ask Clement about the counterfeit problem at the mint.
  • Billy remained at the Crow’s Nest to take measurements of the stage and set some extra lighting, but his preparation was interrupted by a wool merchant named G. Willikers. Mr. Willkers was extremely concerned about cheap foreign cloth that was undercutting the fine merino wool produced in Melvaunt, and he wanted Billy to impose a tariff in his capacity as a Councilmember o’ Iron. Billy demurred and got Willikers somewhat tipsy before putting forth an impassioned defense of free trade [ed. who knew Billy was such an economic theorist?] complete with graphs, charts, cartwheels, patter-songs, a little juggling and jazz hands. Unswayed, Willikers offered Billy a sizable bribe, which Billy refused. Billy quickly changed the subject by ordering ten of Willikers’ best rugs for the castle bedrooms.
  • Meanwhile, as Marielle and Clement walked back to the piers to catch the ferry, they observed that many Melvaunters were extremely freaked out by the Harbinger comet. They feared that the “end was near!”
  • The next morning, Billy left for an uneventful meeting at the Council of Iron, and Marielle went back to the mint. When they arrived home, they found Clement napping on the sofa after a grueling eight hour casting of the second hallow spell. After a delicious supper of chicken stew, a messenger urchin arrived with an invoice for 2,050 gp worth of “miscellaneous expenditures” in Juno’s name. Billy paid the lad (though it made his and Marielle’s eyes twitch) while Clement fumed. Later, Marielle finally got Clement to perform a divination about the counterfeit coins. Pelor’s prophecies implied it was an inside job. An augury confirmed Marielle’s suspicions – the manager of the mint, Calvin Hobbes, was to blame. What to do about it?
  • Before Les Trois could ponder the politics of accusing the foreman of the mint of treason, Molly Quinn entered, distraught. It seemed that her dear friend Sally Smith (whose father is a blacksmith, appropriately enough) had been raped by a patron of the nasty tavern in town, The Lion’s Mane.
  • Taking the initiative, Les Trois vowed to bring the criminal to justice! We hurried to the Smith’s home, where the charismatic Marielle took charge of interviewing poor Sally. She had naively decided to be a “bad girl” and get a drink at the dodgy tavern. The perpetrator, William, was handsome and had laid on the charm … only to get her alone and violate her without her consent. We learned that this William was a probable smuggler who ran with a group of four “yoots” and had a western accent, like he hailed from St. Cuthbert way.
  • We went to the Lion’s Mane to question the proprietor, Stinky Stan, and there also met the slatternly bar wench, Tessie. Stan (as his name might imply) was insolent and completely amoral. Clement flew into a righteous rage and blinded him, telling him he’d restore his sight in a week … if he behaved. We eventually got enough information to determine that the four thugs had fled by boat, heading west toward St. Cuthbert. Tessie seemed depressed about working for Stan, so we hired her as a castle maid.
  • Les Trois buffed up (cat’s grace), etc., and gathered around Clement’s favorite new toy, the portable holy water font, for a good scry. We spotted the four thugs fleeing West on a cutter at top speed. We figured out that there was no way to catch him without some serious magic, and we hatched a plan.
  • Marielle donned her boots of flying and cast a scroll of fly on Clement. The two picked Billy up by his arms and teleported to a point about 30 miles down the shore. Marielle polymorphed Billy into a dragon, and the three began flying in a search pattern. We located the cutter, and Dragon Billy landed on the deck, while Marielle helped to terrify the lads. Marielle webbed them, and Clement menaced the boys with Peri the Mace. The guys were totally outclassed and crumpled under our assault. We sailed back to the harbor with them in manacles. We seized the 40 casks of Schaukel brandy they had on board.
  • After going to bed, we started the morning of the trial with a visit to a wise woman on the island called Granny Og (we’d later learn that this was a very common name among crones of her generation.) We met with her grudging approval; she particularly liked what we did on Sally’s behalf.

    Next time: Trials and Tribulations.
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Look There, Up in The Sky!
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a harbinger of doom!
[Ed. A note on continuity. The end of my (Clement’s) DMing brought us to the defeat of Eurpylus. In that blog I mentioned a few minor ‘clean-up’ events that occurred at the end of the battle. Consider those to have been folded into this blog at whatever point seems logical; DMTegan picked us up right after Dendritius returned us to the Island.

Also, there’s this little four and a half part special adventure I just wrote starring Tegan and Clement. Assume that it will happen about a week after this short adventure about the comet. Someday, I might revamp the blogs so it appears in the right chronological order but it isn’t bloody likely.]

FOOMP. Molly Quinn’s head whipped up from where she’d been watching her feet as she walked along the path. What in Pelor’s name was that? She turned toward the beach and squinted her eyes to mask the glare. A group of people seemed to have just, well, appeared out of thin air, down past the dunes! And one of the seven, a man in black robes, was floating above the waves! He made some sort of rude gesture at the party and then vanished, with another rush of violent air. Mercy, Molly thought. Is this what life will be like on our little island from now on? The men of the village, some still laden with roofing nails and the like, were running toward the beach. She laid her bushels down and joined the crush.

Molly hung back and listened until she had learned a great deal. She had had no formal schooling, but she was a clever girl, and she had always possessed a prodigious memory. Lady Tegan, Lady Marielle, Lord William (oops, call him Billy?) and Brother Samuel. Those were the four ones standing. And the two gasping with their heads stuck in the sea like drowned pikes were Lord Juno Nim and Lord Clement. Brother Clement? Lord Brother Clement? Confusing.

Molly found a way to follow the nobles unobtrusively up to the manor house. She noticed the noble cleric, with that coal-black hair, was leaning awfully heavily on his carrot top twin. There was a story there. She overheard the brothers talking about arranging for Samuel’s trip back to Brandon’s Bridge. One of many ways in which she could help, she was sure!

She waited for just the right moment to clear her throat daintily. “Hem, hem.” That pretty Miss Marielle noticed right off, so Molly looked the sorceress right in the eye. “Beggin’ yer pardon, ladies and gentlemen. But I couldn’t help overhearing how many questions you had about both the trip back to Brandon’s Bridge and the progress in the construction here on Trevethian. Allow me to present myself. I’m looking for work, and I’m not too shy to admit I’m very good at what I do. Oh please say you’ll give me a chance to join your service!” She curtsied prettily, making sure to flash her bosom at Juno and Billy, discreetly enough that the clerics wouldn’t notice…

  • (Switching to bullet points.) Molly’s pluck earned her a position as maid-of-all-work and the party’s first servant. She showed them the progress that had been made on the roof and other projects within the manor castle, and presented a small bill on behalf of the laborers. She arranged for the party to hire her aunt, Mrs. Edna Bridges, to live in the manor house with Molly and do the cooking.
  • The party looked up as they were meeting Molly and saw, for the first time, an extremely bright comet in the sky. They had never seen the like, and over the next few days it would grow more intense until it began to be visible during the days as well. Billy’s bardic knowledge permitted him to identify it as “The Harbinger,” a comet which came once every 600 years.
  • Two priority messages had come in while the party was in the Underdark. The Council of Iron wanted Billy to join them at his earliest convenience, and Marielle’s help was needed because there was some sort of trouble at the Mint. Each vowed to take care of the errands tomorrow.
  • Molly arranged for a friend of her family’s to meet Br. Samuel tomorrow morning. This friend would take the cleric to The Crow’s Nest, where Pluarty Crow would help him arrange passage as part of a caravan back home. The merchants would certainly be happy to host an extra healer, particularly one with noble connections. Billy picked out some scrolls to send to the parish in Brandon’s Bridge as a token of the party’s esteem. The twins spent a little time visiting, the first of a few fond farewells.
  • After a well-deserved night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast prepared by Mrs. Bridges, the party were greeted by a young farmhand named Daniel Wood. Although he had not been to seminary, he’d been serving as a lay deacon for the island. There was a small temple in which shrines were kept to many gods, however the temple was in a state of disrepair. He and Clement had the first of several meetings about restoring the site, and the two were excited to imagine a festal mass welcoming the party to the island in a few weeks.
  • Juno, Marielle, Billy, Samuel, and the cleric’s escort went down to the docks where they met Aubrey, a local sailor who served as ferryman. As the five traveled across the water, Juno and Billy began theorizing about the most convenient and financially efficient ways to make this commute. After arriving at the far shore, the companions split up and began walking to their appointments. They’d meet up with Tegan and Clement at the Crow’s Nest for a nice dinner at the end of the day.
  • Meanwhile, Tegan provided her expertise with animals and plants as she and Clement inspected the tenant farms. The cleric took conscientious notes about better methods of farming, sickly livestock and crops, and opportunities for construction. At noon, he and Tegan each took one of the plant growth scrolls they had found during the last adventure and cast it over the fields, thereby insuring a fine harvest. The villagers were elated to watch the crops flourish before their eyes.
  • At the mint, after a truly epic display of obsequiousness and the payment of her weekly honorarium, Marielle was briefed on a problem with Melvaunt’s money supply. Someone, it seemed, had been creating counterfeit gold pieces by plating copper coins. Marielle took a sample of the offending coins and promised to get Clement to perform a divination upon them. N.B.!!
  • At the Council of Iron, Billy waded into a dispute over port duties. After hearing the arguments, he felt strongly that increasing the city’s fee on imported tonnage tenfold ran the risk of driving port trade away. He made a counterproposal to increase it to 3 silver pieces per ton, and the politicians turned this idea over to their number crunchers. They agreed to revisit the issue later in the month.
  • Juno made the rounds of Liefmont Piers’ pleasure domes, as well as his familiar usual haunts. This time he was recruiting. Using his leadership abilities, he was assembling a sisterhood called the Hanamatchi. These female rogues would work in the brothels, but were also devoted to gathering information across Brestelcia. He hadn’t yet found a woman worthy to be his protegee (he had a strange psychic sense that her name would begin with “O”), but one felt he would prevail in his search given more than three hours. He also met a man named El Cid, whom he persuaded to come to dinner with Les Cinq.
  • The party was happy to be reunited after their trying days and curious to interview El Cid for the position of major-domo. They learned that he had training both as a merchant and as an assassin, which somewhat surprisingly put them more at ease, since they felt he would pose a threat to any dark forces with designs on the island. They further learned that El Cid had two connections with Tegan. Firstly, he’d grown up in the Sultanate of Schaukel and incidentally shared that the son of the Sultan seems to have recovered from their broken betrothal. Secondly, El Cid had worked for a Tulk family of Tegan’s acquaintance called the Maturrens. She knew that they were trustworthy people and intelligent in business. They would never hire a creampuff to protect their wine and spirits business from brigands.
  • Satisfied with their choice, the party sent El Cid back to the island to settle in. They entrusted him with plans for the sort of boat they wished to purchase later in the week, and delegated the task to him. He purchased a type of boat called a “coaster,” which cost 500gp and featured a sail, oar fittings, and enough space to hall a good ton of cargo. Soon the nobles would have the option of riding with Aubrey or taking their own vessel.
  • After a charming little after-dinner cup of tea, the party set off to the Temple of Oghma. Everyone had noticed the unearthly brightness of the comet today, and were full of questions for their favorite brainiacs. When they arrived, they discovered the Temple was a beehive of activity, which research-priests running hither and thither. Sister Rana met them at the door with a happy smile; Tomnein had just asked her to send for them! She drew them into the parlor and began to brief them. [We weren’t born yesterday; we know an adventure hook when we see one.]
  • Tomnein was very eager to read us The Harbinger Prophecy (see the link.) We found its punctuation ambiguous. Rana whipped out the results of her research on the holy card catalog and shared with the scoop about the comet. Apparently, as Billy said, the comet last appeared 600 years ago (“Hmm, kinda like twice times three!” Clement murmured.) During this period a powerful drow woman named Allantria wielded a powerful magic item that would correspond to this “rod of dark fate.” She led one side of a civil war between the drow. Many died, but she prevailed … only to be killed by the famous orog king, Kursk One-Tusk. As a final insult, he built his tomb on top of her final resting place, where presumably this rod remains. The map we found in Xul-Jarak will no doubt lead us to the tomb. [Is it possible that we will get to kill some baddies along the way? Who knows?]
  • However, Rana and Tomnein suggested that we wait. They have been using clairvoyance to observe a party of adventurers who are seeking the rod. This party was formed at the Temple of Heironeous in a tiny village called Gryth near the tomb, and includes a bard, a monk, a cleric, and at least one fighter. The Oghman clergy believe that other these adventurers stand a good chance of retrieving the rod without our help; they’re no us, but they’re reasonably high level. Perhaps this situation will resolve itself! Yes, thought Marielle. And perhaps monkeys will fly out of my butt! We agreed to wait until we had heard word of this lawful good party before setting out on our journey.
  • Meanwhile, we went shopping and bought a heap o’ stuff (inventory has been updated.) We took care to spend only some of our bankroll. We plan to go shopping more extensively in the future.
  • Before we went to bed, we gathered some more information of our own. Firstly, Clement consulted Pelor and asked Him What is the ‘fierce demand’ spoken of by The Harbinger Prophecy?

    He replied:

    “ALLANTRIA HELD ME FIRM
    GIVING TO HER THE MIGHT OF LORDS AND MORE
    CLERIC OF LOLTH, SHE LISTENED TO ME
    MANY TIMES MANY DEAD
    OFF INTO FAERZRESS

    The party had a few thoughts:

  • Allantria was a cleric of Lolth, the evil drow goddess.
  • Sounds like a souped-up rod of lordly might (see below)
  • We don’t think this is Pelor speaking in line 3 – the rod speaks, and clerics listen?
  • What the bleep is faerzress? We don’t know.

    Billy told us about rods of lordly might and we thought they sounded groovy, especially since this one seems more magical than most. They cast spell-like abilities such as hold person, and also work as multiple magical weapons (i.e. they shape-shift.)

  • Lastly we performed a second divination. Clement asked, “What is the rod’s purpose and intent this time, if any?”

    This time Pelor seemed to ‘pass the microphone’ to another entity who had a scratchy female voice. This voice said:

    “DEATH, DEATH
    AND DEATH TO DROW
    BANE TO ELVES
    AND ILLUMINATE THOSE IN NIGHT!”


    Juno felt, upon reflection, that this voice was dealing with a lot of hostility. Billy thought anything that was anti-drow was okay with him. Marielle reminded the party that all of them except Tegan and Clement had elven blood. Clement politely requested the elves not to touch any spooky rods, por favor.

    With that we took a room at The Crow’s Nest rather than wait for the ferry, and everybody stayed up late drinking t’kila and giggling. And th-th-th-that’s all for this session!
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Clerics and Hell-Gods and Bears, Oh My!
Jens vs. Tegan on Pay-Per-View (4 of 4)

“Taste my steel!” screamed Tegan as she stabbed the bear-creature that used to be Father Jens. Her short sword pierced the bear’s thick hide and blood spurted from the wound.

The creature bellowed and clawed at her face. “Don’t waste my time, woman. You are no match for me!” He grabbed Tegan by the shoulders, grappling her and trying to lift her into the air.

Tears pricked Clement’s eyes. That bastard! he thought. This child shall not die on my watch … again! He already gave his life at Xul-Jarak. How much more must he suffer? The cleric concentrated on Pelor’s infinite mercy as he cast raise dead.

Tegan flexed her mighty muscles and tried to break the bear’s hold, but it was no use. The bear threw her against one of the lilac trees, not far from a black orb. Tegan shook off the injury and instinctively moved away from the orb, which pulsed with malevolent energy. She decided to ignore Jens and strike at the orb. “No!” screamed the bear. The orb emitted a flash of blackness and Tegan felt her heart stop. She staggered and grabbed her chest…

Clement had his back turned, and was completely unaware of Tegan’s distress. “Breathe slowly, Argens. Focus on your breath.”

Tegan shook off the death attack and followed Clement’s advice. Inhale. Exhale… The bear-man lumbered closer to her, giving the dark orb a wide berth.

Argens eyes fluttered open. “No, No! By Tyr, by Tyr!” He scrambled to his feet and rushed the bear. Jens turned around and sunk his fangs into the teenager’s neck. As Tegan wheezed she could see Argens stagger and then begin to grow fur all over his body.

“The curse of lycanthropy!” cried Clement. “Jens is a werebear? But all werebears become lawful good! It is a side effect of the transformation!” Argens roared as a snout grew from his face. He wiggled his black wet nose.

“Of course I’m good!” growled Jens. “If you’d just let me explain…”

“How good could you be, imposing your curse on this boy against his will?” asked Tegan.

“There is no time. Argens, listen to me. Right now, while you are completely weakened, you must put your hands on the orb. Pray to Tyr and say the Battle Prayer.” Argens gulped and began to do so. Clement watched in horror as the lad turned grey and began to shiver.

“Perfect!” said Jens. “He’s weakening even more. Clement, let’s take turns. Each of us must cast cure minor wounds, just enough to keep him alive.” Argens’ ursine countenance convulsed with pain. His black lips moved rhythmically in prayer.

Before Tegan’s eyes, the orb began to shrink. The wind ceased and the colors of the glade began to return to normal. A voice echoed through the trees.

“HAIL ARGENS BRUIL, MY TRUE AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. HAIL A TRUE HEART, A WORTHY HEIR TO VALHALLA. YOU DARED TO BE WEAK TO CARRY MY STRENGTH TO A PLACE OF DARKNESS.”

The dome disappeared. “Pelor be praised!” cried Clement. Argens collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

At Balador’s Feast

Tegan couldn’t believe the food – it was the best she had ever tasted! A salad made of watermelon, mint, cucumbers, and lime was followed by a baked pasta dish with bechamel sauce. Incredible! Just being in the proximity of Balador, god of werebears, was intoxicating. He literally glowed, and seemed to exude a sense of well-being.

“Fair Tegan,” Balador said. “Thank you for saving my realm. You are a rare flower … and a deadly one. I respect that.”

“I still don’t understand everything that happened.”

“Father Jens, although he serves my friend Tyr, is a werebear and therefore one of my beloved children. We have shared many confidences, once he gained the ability to travel to my realm here in Brux. I knew I could trust him. Tyr and I meditated on the future until we’d developed the perfect plan.

“We needed a weak man with strong faith. This Seed of Woe was an artifact of reversal. We still do not understand all of its powers, let alone its origin, but we knew that if a good god such as myself or Tyr faced it, it would make complete evil manifest on this plane. A strong foe would be paying into the artifact’s hands. That’s why I fled to Elysium for a time, leaving Miele in charge. Argens was the perfect champion. Having him lose a life (and a level) for the second time made it all possible, and the confusion and trauma of being transformed into a werebear made him useless to the Seed, temporarily.”

“Gods are pretty darn smart,” Tegan said with a grin. “But where did it come from?”

Balador looked grave. “That we do not know. Such a powerful artifact could upset the entire balance of the Outer Planes. It would take intense magic to bring it here in the first place. We suspect another god – an evil one, of course. However, as you might imagine, evil gods excel at masking themselves from divination. We are spreading this tale throughout the pantheon, trying to gather information.”

“Hmm. Even gods have quests? The things I learn!” Tegan giggled and clinked her glass of mead with Balador’s.

Near Ursis’ sacred pool

Clement smiled as he finished his prayers. Thank you, Pelor, for Thy unwavering love. Now I understand that even in the Nine Hells, even in madness, even while being tortured by aboleths, Thou art with me. No matter how unworthy I feel for failing my friends, Thou wilt always forgive me. All praise and honor are thine by right, O Shining One. He rose and ran a finger through his newly black hair, an eternal reminder of his ordeal.

The sound of a broken twig made the cleric spin around. Jens and Argens were waiting behind him. “We’re sorry for interrupting, Lord Clement,” said Argens nervously.

“I think the hero of the Beastlands has every right to speak to me whenever he likes. I’m so proud of you, my son.” He hugged the young paladin.

“I’ve been apologizing to Argens for what I put him through,” said Fr. Jens. “I think we’ve repaired our working relationship. He is a good boy.” Argens patted Jens on the shoulder.

“However, we have an additional favor to ask. It will be a while before Argens is more in control of his lycanthropy. He’d like to have Les Cinq’s help hiding his condition from his grandfather.”

“Of course. You don’t even need to ask. Marielle could even cast some spells to help you hide your condition, perhaps. If we plan ahead, perhaps you and I could travel here to the Beastlands during your transformation. I’m so grateful to Balador for agreeing to let Les Cinq plane shift to his domain; I’m looking forward to getting to know him better and to doing him additional service.”

Jens grinned. “Sounds like a happy ending to me.”

Tegan approached the trio, carrying a tray of homemade mead. “That Balador is something else. Have you seen his human form? Hubba hubba.”

Clement sighed. “I’d think twice before trying to seduce a god, Tegan, but you know that I support you in whatever fool thing you want to do ….” Tegan stuck her fingers into the mead and flicked mead at Clement’s face.

Jens and Argens raised their chalices. “To a successful adventure!” Jens shouted.

“Over the lips and past the gums…” said Clement with a chuckle.

FIN.

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