Session 9 – 3/22/2015
The heroes return to town, bound Talis in tow, and headed directly to Ash Tidecaller’s cottage to have spell on the halfling broken. Afterward, they caught up with Ash on what had happened in Ravenport while they were away facing the perils beneath the Chapel.
Ash told them what he knew of the refugees from the Grand Duchy of Geoff. They had arrived only a few days ago claiming that their lands were under attack by giants. The mayor had allowed them to set up the camp, and so far the Jeffies had coexisted peacefully with the town. Some of the refugees were even aiding in the construction of the defensive wall around Ravenport; a project that had been languishing do to the cult’s activities.
Theadric revealed that Derrick, the cultist who’d fled from their confrontation with Fr. Abrams, had pulled him aside with promises of Talis’ location in hopes that he could convince Theadric to slay the leader of the cult. Derrick claimed that the glamour used by the Reptile Goddess had failed on him, and he’d been forced to feign enchantment to survive. After he’d fled the temple, it became clear to the cult that he was no longer under their control and now he feared for his life.
In exchange for his life, he would lead the party through the Hool Marshes to the Reptile Goddesses’ lair, and then provide them with a map from memory of the layout of the place, laying out the quickest path to the humanoid-headed snake that leads the cult.
The party left Ash’s home, returning to town to re-provision. Their transit was interrupted by Podric, herald to Cronin III of House Secunforth, 16th Viscount Salinmoor, who informed the party of adventurers that a special ceremony was being held on the morrow at noon and that they were to attend His Noble Lordship then.
During the brief conversation the herald made the assumption that Milo (now an adolescent, due to his fiddling with chaos magic) was Theadric’s son. Milo eventually agreed that he was, as an expedient, and Theadric didn’t gainsay him.
The party split up to take care of personal business. Hope needs supplies to turn the bolt of orange silk into a proper dress. Theadric collected the Oldfur Sword from the armorer. Dr. Blackstone returned to the Dying Minotaur to clean his gear and take a bath.
That evening, while Wizzleficks was finishing up transferring a spell from one of the captured spellbooks to his own something strange happened.
Hello. Is anyone there? wrote itself within Wizzleficks’ spellbook.
Wizzleficks responded by writing, I see your words.
Where am I? the mysterious writer queried.
The cartographer wrote back: Your words are appearing in my spellbook.
By the beard of Boccob! Could it be?
Who is this?
It’s Otiluke, of course.
Wizzleficks, dumbfounded, closed his spellbook and looked across the room at Tobi. But the human was invested in a minor magical ritual. Loathe to interrupt, the young gnome said nothing.
That evening at the Dying Minotaur Hope regaled the crowd with the party’s recent adventure, and raised humble-bragging to an art.
Lio, seeking a moment of solace away from the noise and press of people accidentally overheard a Bethany Secunforth and Phineas Fogg engaging in a tryst. He quickly moved on to find a new place to meditate, unnoticed by the lovers.
The next morning Dr. Blackstone received a message from his department chair. He learned that the Grey College would indeed be sending a team of researchers, though a rival had managed to worm his way into the selection process. He also had information on the documents Theadric had sent, regarding the Oldfur’s lycanthropic curse, and the Oldfur Sword’s role in controlling it, which he promptly shared with his friend.
At noon the party attended the special ceremony, where they were introduced to the Viscount Cronin III, his consort Serbeth, and their entourage, which included Thaddeus, the Court Wizard. Podric, the herald, was nowhere to be found, so introductions on the receiving line were awkward.
Thaddeus to an uncomfortable interest in Hope’s unusual heritage, and made some snobbish comments about commoners.
The viscount was gloomy. But then, in the seven years of his reign Salinmoor had suffered two hurricanes, a plague, and a war.
The viscount, was clearly intrigued by Hope, shared his condolences for Lord Goddard’s loss, was concerned by Milo’s age, skeptical of Theadric’s paternity, dismissive of Dr. Blackstone as he would be any other academic, and spoke highly of Wizzlefick’s cartography.
The viscount also appeared to feel out using Aurelio to assassinate those he felt responsible for his daughter’s loss of virginity. Or perhaps just punish them. It was an unusual conversation.
Before the gathered townsfolk, the lord of Salinmoor thanked the adventurers for freeing the town from the cult and stopping the smugglers (his emphasis being on the latter). He then declared them the Heroes of Ravenport. Additionally, he knighted Goddard for his efforts in leading the team.
Hope mingled a bit, gathering information on the viscount’s court. It appeared that the herald wasn’t the only one absent from the festivities. Lord and Lady Antebellum were also missing.
After the ceremony the new-minted Heroes of Ravenport gathered their supplies made some last minute purchases, and headed out into the swamp, lead by Derrick.
A few hours into their journey they heard someone cry out. To Derrick’s annoyance they investigated.
Moving quietly they came upon a strange seen. Two nobles, four men-at-arms, and a red-robed figure that looked suspiciously like Scarlet Brotherhood monk were standing in a loose circle on a hump of relatively dry land.
At the center of the circle, a creature coated in white mucus hunched over a screaming Podric. The party had found the herald!
The heroes rushed forward, loosing arrows and hurling spells. Though several of those spells were directed at the creature, it was not deterred from from what it was doing to the herald before poor Podric expired.
The heroes tore through the retainers and the monk at range. The creature, now Podric’s doppelgänger, rush forward to meet Tobi and Lio, who quickly cut it down.
The nobles would prove more difficult, as the couple drew paired short swords and deftly sliced into their opponents. But, ultimately they were overmatched, and died zealously proclaiming the Scarlet Brotherhood’s inevitable ascendance.
They creature was an exact duplicate of Podric, even in death and Wizzleficks could detected no magic on it.
The creature appeared to have emerged from a large plant-like pod, which now lay open. Nearby was an unopened one which Milo promptly destroyed at range with copious amounts of magical fire. The creature within died before it could fully emerge.
They buried Podric and continued on to the Reptile Goddess’ lair.
As the water grew deeper Wizzleficks summoned a floating disc of energy on which the halflings would sit. The gnome rode on Dr. Blackstone’s shoulders to stay out of the muck that would otherwise force him to swim and the disc dutifully followed the cartographer.
They made camp before dusk and set two person watches. The night passed uneventfully.
They continued on the next day, eventually arriving near the entrance to the lair.
Derrick quickly sketched a map of the place from memory, and Wizzleficks voiced his low opinion of its quality with a stream of abuse:
“What is that? A butt?”
“If you had been my apprentice I’d have you redraw this entirely.”
“I’ll promise to let you leave alive if you promise never enter the profession of cartography”
Derrick left and the heroes approached the entrance quietly. Lord Goddard sent invisible Heccabus ahead to scout.
In the dimly lit foyer he observed four cultists in armor, holding spears. Lio, Tobi, Theadric, and Hope rushed in, taking them by surprise. The guards fell before they could raise the alarm.
The heroes took the direct path laid out in Derrick’s map, ignore side room and moving cautiously.
The first room contained a pool with a path around the outside that they followed. Heccabus, in rat form, slip into the pool bit found nothing in the cloudy water. The next room was similarly submerged, but this time with no path around and a small boat hitched at the shore.
Aurelio, Hope, Tobias, Lord Godard, and Wizzleficks piled in the boat, and once again the gnome summoned a floating disc for the halfling to ride on.
Three crocodiles reared up at the floating food tray, attempting to snatch the halflings. One manage to get a bite on Theadric, but it was slain by Tobias’ spear-cast before it could drag him under. The other two died quickly thereafter, the Oldfur Sword and Hope’s longbow being particularly deadly.
Eventually, they arrived at a door that was swollen shut. Heccabus, still in the form of a rat, wriggled under it to investigate the room and was almost immediately discovered troglodytes. Narrowly avoiding becoming the saurian’s dinner the familiar returned and warned Lord Goddard.
Unfortunately, Tobias couldn’t get purchase on the sodden door. In frustration, Lio snatched the academic’s warhammer and began bashing the door in. With help from Goddard and Milo, the door was quickly cracked open. However, the room was now empty.
They bashed in the next door without preamble and found themselves facing a foul-smelling gang of troglodytes.
Wizzleficks blasted them with a spray of scintillating light and then fell back, leaving one blinded.
Goddard called forth a crown of madness, causing one of the trogs to attack its blinded ally. Then, several of the creatures attempted to rush into the room before Tobias and Aurelio could fully block the doorway.
While the two humans kept the remaining troglodytes out, Theadric and Hope took on the ones that had managed to enter the room while Milo blasted them with bolts of fire.
Goddard continued to wield the enchanted troglodyte as a weapon, and Wizzleficks disentangled himself from the fray, so that he too was able to blast the remain enemies from afar.
Soon the troglodytes were slain, and the heroes continued on, coming to the room Derrick had marked as containing a mad priest and his undead.
Tobias pried the door open with his crowbar, revealing a room much drier than any they’d seen so far. The light from Theadric and Milo’s spells on penetrated about half way in the large open room, casting the single central column in shadow.
As they entered, two rotting undead forms stepped out from behind the column, and Theadric, Aurelio, Hope, and Tobias rush in to meet them, and cutting them down quickly… or so they thought!
The creatures reassembled themselves in a gruesome display that so unnerved Tobias and Hope so that they dropped their weapons and fled the room.
Now that light was shed on the back of the room, the heroes could see the mad priest and his pale, armored acolyte.
Goddard, Milo, and Wizzleficks quickly took down the coffer corpse and Theadric and Lio were freed up to rush forward and engage the priest and what they quickly learned was a wight.
The source of their fear removed, Hope and Tobi re-entered the room, the historian casting a spell to allow him to charge in at speed and engage the priest.
As the battle began to turn against the cleric a secret opened in the wall at Tobias back open. And out rasped the voice of Explictica Defilus, the Reptile Goddess!
A bolt of lightning ripped from the secret entrance, clipping Tobias and hitting Lio and Milo straight on. The chaos sorcerer and the already wounded paladin went down.
Hope healed Milo and Aurelio, while the others finished off the priest and his undead warrior.
Milo, restored, blasted the naga with webs, hoping to hold the Reptile Goddess in place.
The naga, unconcerned, cast an energy draining spell on Tobias. Although he made his saving throw, the damage was enough to drop him into unconsciousness. The next round, the naga cast a spell of sleep, but only succeeded in causing Wizzleficks to succumb.
The gnome was soon woken, and he, Milo, Theadric, and Tobias unleashed a barrage on unerring bolts of magical force at the beast. Lord Goddard join in with bolts of eldritch blasts and Hope with arrows.
As it weakened under the hail of magic the Spear of Vathris looked directly into the naga’s mesmerizing gaze…
…and chopped its head off.