Shattered Spires

Wererat Sewer Party
In which lycanthropy and a set of flying boots are bestowed upon the party

Resting for a while at the entrance to the sewers, Luna, given time to think, feels bad about their treatment of Alton and encourages her party members to let him go free or help them by choice. They give him one glove back and offer him gold for his assistance with finding the thieves’ guild and a way into House Thexidor. He agrees somewhat reluctantly to aid them.

Following Alton, they move from the main sewer path down into a stone hallway and through a wooden door into a large room. Across the room is a wooden door, and as they open it they fail to see Alton rush quietly back out towards the entrance and off into the night. He must have known something, as at that moment two goblins, one larger than the other, rush out towards the party, shouting something back over their shoulders.

Battle battle battle, two dead goblins.

Needing to rest some more, the party settles in for another rest. While taking her watch, Luna notices two giant rats scramble by, one of whom appears to be watching her intelligently.

Slightly rested, the party moves forward and into the room the goblins came from. They foil a trapped door with Veritas’ mage hand, and find themselves face to face with a dead end. Sensing that despite their inability to find a door there may still be one, Torro charges headlong into the wall and gets a large lump on his head for his trouble. Back in the goblin’s room, they see a stone dais with crude goblin graffiti emblazoned on the wall behind.  Moving to the other door, they find another hallway with an apparent dead end. Once more, Torro charges into the wall, this time emerging on the other side having smashed the false wall behind a bookcase. In this room, they find a mirror-image of the dais from the other room, and a long hallway through an arched passageway. Scouting down the hallway, they notice a sticky substance clinging to the walls, and Veritas recognizes it as a grey ooze, a corrosive semi-intelligent mass. Casting firebolts from a distance, Veritas chips away slowly at the ooze. Meanwhile, Luna spots the rats from earlier, and the one with the bright eyes beckons to her to follow. Questioning, Luna asks if the rats can help them, and the intelligent one nods in assent.

Luna and Torro head off behind the rats as Veritas finishes off the Grey ooze in short order and follows them. They are led back through the previous two rooms and through a stone door that spins around and leaves them in a branching hallway. They go left and enter a large room that smells faintly of urine. In the room, the rat with the intelligent eyes begins to morph and change before their eyes, transforming into a shifty looking halfling. He tells them he is Altes Ratcley, and that he's a wererat. This part of the sewer is where lives, stealing from the city, collecting treasures and hiding out with his brother Alton. Veritas informs him that his brother was the one who had led them there, leading them to believe it was the headquarters of the thieves’ guild and that he would be able to help them reach House Thexidor. Altes, though ornery and angered that they have stumbled on his lair, concedes he may be able to help them if they can clear out the stinking goblins that have overrun his living space. Meanwhile, Torro is standing fascinated by the idea of being able to transmogrify oneself into a rat or other creature at will, and asks Altes about how one might gain such an ability. Altes says that he could gift her with lycanthropy by simply biting her, and Torro seems torn, debating the merits of such a condition. He offers his arm up to Altes who moves to bite; at a glance from his companions, Torro pulls his arm away. Frustrated and worked up at the prospect of flesh, Altes pauses for a moment, as the party talks. Unable to contain himself he lunges towards Torro. Veritas, seeing this, casts sleep on the area, but only manages to put the rat on Altes’ shoulder and Torro to sleep. Altes finishes his lunge and sinks his teeth into the flesh of Torro’s arm, and the curse of lycanthropy takes hold. When cooler heads prevail, Torro is awake, feeling more limber and agile than ever.

Back in his “normal” state of mind, Altes accompanies them out through a series of rooms and hallways until they encounter a locked door. Veritas unlocks it and within they spot 3 goblins thinking themselves well-hidden in the darkness, along with a large, stoney-looking structure hanging from the ceiling. Suddenly the large structure, a disguised darkmantle, drops down to the ground and casts its Darkness Aura, enveloping itself and the three goblins in an impenetrably inky magical darkness.

Unable to track where the creatures are, the party hang back and close the door. They watch as the door implodes under strikes from the tentacles of the darkmantle and the goblins rush in towards them. A surely memorable battle ensues, from which our party emerges victorious, thanks in no small part to Altes who tore apart most of the goblins. Grudgingly thankful for the party’s assistance in clearing out the remaining goblins, he offers them a choice from among his treasures he’s acquired, and they select a pair of Winged Boots. He points them in the direction of the sewers that drain the Lords’ Hill, and offers them free passage through his lair.

Month of Reaping 6

Needing a good rest, the party leave the sewers and head back to the Dented Mug, for reasons yet undetermined. The place appears locked-up tight, with no sign of light—it being the early hours of the morning and all. Undeterred, they bang on the door, shouting for David to come and let them in. An irritated neighbour across the street greets them with a half-full privy bucket that Torro narrowly dodges. Sensing the futility of their knocking and unwilling now (at Luna’s urging) to smash down the door, they settle into the stables, with Luna taking first watch. As she stands guard, she sees Thomas at the back door of the Dented Mug, and he urges her, not unkindly, to leave. She rouses Torro and Veritas, and they make their way out of the city to camp out in a grassy field, away from prying eyes. While the other two sleep, Luna feels restless after her meditation and charges off to the forest to work off some energy stomping snakes. When she returns, the other two are awakening, and Veritas spends an hour practicing flying with his newly discovered boots.

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Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers
In which our heroes find themselves embroiled in sexy noble intrigue (and your humble narrator finds himself forgetting much)

Month of Reaping 5

Rising early in the morning, the party reconvenes in the main room of the Dented Mug. David tries to hustle his guests out the door—don’t let the door hit your ass—while trying to maintain the decorum and courtesy due to a nobleman. He points them in the direction of the Lords’ Hill.

Heading out into the street, Torro, Luna and Veritas cut a wide swath through the crowds, with the masses affording their due respect and yielding space to a half-orc, a half-elf and a unicorn(!?). Unfortunately, in every crowd there will always be someone who won’t be happy with just standing by and staring; in this case, it was a belligerent orc seeking to show his dominance over Torro, the lowly half-orc. Throwing his burly shoulder into Torro’s, the orc then makes an obscene remark about Torro’s mother. Enraged by this affront, Torro is ready to tear the orc limb from limb, and starts by delivering a blistering punch to the mouth, but the approach of a group of armed city watchmen is enough to get all parties to back down and disperse. “Sir Roland Delcastle” uses his noble charms to convince one of the watchmen to escort them to the Lords’ Hill, though he is rather reluctant and eager not to be seen. As they approach the inner gate marking the entrance to the Lords’ Hill, the guard considers his duty to Sir Delcastle fulfilled and turns tail back to his patrol area.

At the gate, Veritas once again successfully fools the guard at the gate with his disguise, but when he seeks entrance to see Lord Delquin is put off to the castellan of the Lords’ Hill, Sir [INSERT NAME HERE], a large man with a wild mane and beard of bushy red hair. Challenging Veritas on his knowledge of Lord Delquin, he becomes suspicious when Veritas states that last time he was in town, Lord Delquin lived elsewhere, since Lord Delquin lives in his ancestral family home, where House Delquin has lived since the founding of Chellith in the year 45 AW. Now wary of Delcastle, his bodyguard and his “mount,” Sir [INSERT NAME HERE] nevertheless escorts them across the grounds to Delquin Manor, a large stone mansion. Leaving the party to wait out front, Sir [INSERT NAME HERE] heads around back to seek Lord Delquin. He returns with a retinue of four armed guards, and not so kindly escorts the three inside. After passing through a grand entryway, they turn right into a receiving chamber where Lord Wisym Delquin sits on a raised chair looking down on them. They see a broadly built man who would be powerful and strong were it not for what is clearly a childhood deformity that left his back twisted and curved.  He is otherwise handsome, with close-cropped dark hair and a finely manicured beard.

Lord Delquin is clearly quite irritated that the party decided to bother him with seeking a bounty that could very easily have been dealt with by his dutifully appointed reeve Tavish. He is also fully aware that Veritas’ claim of lordship in Latticeport is hogwash. He accepts the ledger from the group, but indicates that this now makes them even; he will accept it in trade for what he sees as their needless wasting of his time. After some argument, the party begins to see things his way, aided by the presence of four halberds at their necks. Veritas pleads with Delquin for information regarding the Grammite agent, and Delquin calls his castellan forward. He speaks a few words to him, and Sir [INSERT NAME HERE] walks back to the party, and requests that they surrender their weapons, as Lord Delquin would like a word in private with them. They acquiesce, and the castellan and guards leave the room.

Changing his demeanor slightly, Delquin admits to the group that there is something they can help him with; he is in love, but cannot currently hope to wed the one he wants. She is the eldest daughter of House Thexidor, the one Elvish family among the Eight Lords. They have fallen in love with one another, but her family forbids any such marriage of their daughter to a non-elf. Humans, so short-lived and erratic, are not seen as suitable mates. In the time since the founding of Chellith, the head of House Thexidor has only changed twice, compared to thirty-odd times for the other seven Houses; a half-elf lineage would be a dilution of the family line.

She is now being held cloistered within the walls of her family home, and Delquin requests that the group help him stage an abduction of his beloved, so that they may be married, after which, he hopes, House Thexidor will have no choice but to accept it. He lets them know that if they are caught, he will deny any knowledge of their plan, and to keep up this appearance they are to be thrown off the grounds of the Lords’ Hill. He tells them that he will get word to her tomorrow that they will be there through the night and that they are to make for Torker Shoals when they have liberated her. If they are successful, he will grant them full access to his city guard both in Chellith and Torker Shoals in their hunt for the Grammite.

The party agrees to his terms and leaves the hall, where Sir [INSERT NAME HERE] and his four guards roughly marshal them back out to the street and toss their confiscated weapons at their feet.

To do some reconnaissance, the party heads around the city to the other side of the Lords’ Hill, where House Thexidor resides in a dark forest grove. They can only see the outer wall and the gate from where they are, but as they are watching they notice a lightfoot halfling that appears to be keeping an eye on them. Luna tries to talk to him, but he spooks easily and darts off into a nearby alley. Rounding the corner, Veritas casts sleep and the halfling drops to the ground. Torro, Luna and Veritas approach his sleeping body, when they hear a noise at the mouth of the alley, and turn to see the orc from earlier that day sporting a bruised and bloodied lip, along with two orcish companions, looking for revenge. Javelins are thrown, greataxes hefted, blessings bestowed, and orcs. Emerging victorious, the three awaken the sleeping halfling and demand an explanation.

Jittery, shifty, and possibly tweaking, [INSERT OTHER NAME HERE] admits eventually that he is a member of the local thieves’ guild who had been hired by the orcs to arrange an ambush in the alley. After some cajoling and the looting of all his goods (which includes a pair of halfling-sized gloves of swimming and climbing, a rapier, daggers and a short bow), he agrees that he will help them navigate through the sewers to the thieves’ guild headquarters to help them reach the Lords’ Hill undetected.

They make their way to a culvert blocked by rusted-out steel bars, which Torro makes short work of, bending them apart wide enough for all to enter, and they stop for a rest.

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Reyoris and the Bad Touch
In which our heroes learn that wizards are not always nice

As we last left the odd threesome of Luna, Torro and Veritas, they stood on the threshold of yet another door in the depths of the Tumbledown Boys’ stronghold. In a daring demonstration of the awe-inspiring adroitness of our champions, Torro fails to smash the door down and Veritas breaks off his lock-pick in the keyhole. Undaunted by this obstacle, they retreat. Retracing their steps, they enter a room that they missed earlier, and find themselves face-to-face with three giant rats who have claimed the dormitory space as their own. Flexing his not-at-all unexpected new powers, Veritas slaughters the first of the rats with a Chromatic Orb spell, extra crispy. Luna spears a second of the rats, while Torro uses his gift with animal handling to form a loving bond with the third rat, which ends like so many half-orc/rat love stories, with one smooshed rat.

Backtracking further, the trio pass by a caved-in room before returning to the hallway with a closed portcullis. Using some boulders from the cave-in and a modicum of ingenuity, they can allow the three of them entrance into the unexplored room, where they find a small desk, with a ledger of all the Tumbledown Boys’s names, plans, funds, etc. Through a small passageway they enter a larger room with a large cistern in the centre, from which emerges a mottle-skinned Sahuagin in a damp, gold-fringed cloak. A tense standoff ensues. Unable to communicate directly with the aquatic humanoid, Luna communicates ideas of freedom and the outside, and the Sahuagin darts by, down the hallway, and out the open entrance.

Along the back wall of the cistern room, yet another portcullised door is found. Scrambling around with some rocks and levers once more, they manage to make their way to the next room. Two more tadpole creatures were slinking about them in the next room, and Veritas managed to surprise one of them with a firebolt, before running and hiding behind the comforting bulk of Torro, who was none too pleased to be treated as a half-human meat shield, particularly when it put His Pony at greater risk. In short order, the two tadpoles were disposed of, and, judging the threat eliminated, Torro cracked Veritas a good one in the face. Words were had, and Veritas learned, presumably, that when half-orcs are involved, discretion isn’t always the better part of valor. A short rest, a flagon of ale apiece, and hurt feelings and busted lips were mended. Additionally, at the bottom of a large, empty barrel, a key was discovered.

Plunging once more into the depths of the stronghold, Luna, Veritas and Torro returned to the locked door, behind which they could hear whispers. Using his mage hand cantrip, Veritas took the key and opened the door for Torro and Luna, who entered the next room to find an female elf, dressed in a catsuit, muttering to herself. Incoherent, she couldn’t be reasoned with and drew her bow to attack. Luna charged with her horn while Torro worked himself up into a rage. Suitably fired up, he attacked and missed, while Veritas staggered her with a lightning orb. Luna took the opportunity to club her unconscious with her hooves.

With her incapacitated, Veritas—in a totally not creepy or weird way at all—searched her and shackled her to the manacles in the previous room. Leaving her for the moment, they head back in and discover the treasure room of the Tumbledown Boys. Within, they find a variety of treasure: 2000 cp, 1100 sp, 60 gp, a copper chalice with silver filigree, two gold lockets with portraits inside, two sets of engraved bone dice, a bag of holding, and a roiling blue and black orb, glowing with internal luminescence. Astutely, they decide not to touch the orb and carefully cover it. Torro removes one of the portraits from the lockets and replaces it with his drawing of Oatis, his beloved pig.

Back in the prison room, they awaken the slender elf woman. They manage to get her name, Lamorar Silkmoon, and they confirm that she was a member of the Tumbledown Boys, but the only other piece of information they receive is a name—Rethikajik. To gather more information, Veritas menaces her with the orb, and then touches it to her bare skin. Instantly, she is unconscious.

Thoughts turning to the bounty that Reyoris had mentioned, Veritas stuffs two bodies into his bag of holding and Torro gathers up some mangled tadpoles. As they exit the entrance to the cave, it is dusk, and so they camp out for the night.

During the first watch, while Luna meditated, Lamorar returned to herself and Torro and Veritas attempted to question her further. Puzzlingly mollified from her previous agitation, she provided little information.

Month of Reaping 4, 635 AW

Breaking camp, the party lashed Lamorar to Luna’s back and made tracks towards Torker Shoals, uneventfully.

Arriving on the outskirts of town, they receive instruction from one of the guards to seek the Reeve of Torker Shoals at City Hall to collect the bounty. There they are greeted by the peevish reeve Tavish, who offers them 10 gp per Tumbledown Boy body. After much arguing and the not-so-convincing appearance of Veritas’ alter-ego Sir Roland Delcastle, Tavish was unwilling to waver from the price offered by his liege, Lord Delquin. Trying to gain more leverage, Veritas mentioned the ledger they had found. Tavish conceded this may be of interest to Lord Delquin, but it would take three days for information to travel back and forth from Chellith and for a decision to be made. Unsatisfied with this, the party requests that Tavish send word to Lord Delquin that they will be visiting him in person to discuss their payment.

Next stop, the Howling Imp. There the party finds Old Tom once more at his place behind the bar. After several meads and shots of a foul-smelling liqueur from behind the bar, Veritas is shit-faced and Old Tom leaves to be replaced by Reyoris and his signature floppy red wizard’s hat. Pleased that they had returned, he demanded the return of the orb. They attempted to bluff him that they hadn’t found any such item, he used detect thoughts to uncover the truth. Luna offered a lock of her mane to Reyoris in lieu of the orb, to which he coldly replied, “If I wanted your mane I would already have it.” Sensing a threat to His Pony, Torro attempted to grab Reyoris by the throat, while Luna tried to talk him down. Grasping the half-orc across the bar, Reyoris used his shocking grasp to send the man-beast sprawling. Cowed, Veritas hands over the orb and pleads for information regarding the whereabouts of the Grammite agent they have been chasing. Benign once more, Reyoris confirmed that the man had passed through Torker Shoals and headed north towards Chellith. Veritas broached the possibility of Reyoris teleporting the party there to save them time, and before they have a chance to discuss it they appear outside the walls of a great walled city, and Torro promptly vomits on the ground.

They walk along the outer perimeter of the city until they come to a relatively small closed gate. They holler up at the lone guard and he takes pity on them and yields them entrance. Heading down a darkening street, they find themselves in a rather slummy part of town, and make their way to the Dented Mug, a quiet, not totally grimy establishment on a side street. Within they question David, the bartender/proprietor(/pimp?), with Veritas under the guise of Sir Roland Delcastle once more. This time, in front a poor rube commoner instead of a fastidious reeve, he’s a touch more convincing, and has David offering all he had to the “noble,” including his wife Darcy and his son Thomas. His wife, drawing the short straw, gave Torro a bath and braided his hair. As night set in, Torro and Veritas were heading upstairs to sleep and Thomas was leading Luna out to the stables, after David filled them in on the location of The Lords Hill, where Lord Delquin of the Eight Lords resides.

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Wizards and Tadpoles
In which our heroes are given a task by a crazy-ass wizard

Making camp a short distance into the quiet forest, Luna, Torro and Veritas settle in for the night.

Luna, exhausted from a crazy day, lies down on the hard ground to meditate and rest. The day would see her transformed from a lone wanderer to an imperiled prisoner and back again, with the addition of two unlikely allies. How long had it been since she left her home? When had she last slept in the comforting embrace of her realm, and where was that? She tries but can no longer remember any details of her former life. Gently, she rests her head and takes a deep breath, trying to relax, smelling the sweet scent of the grass around her. She closes her eyes and what seems to be only a short second later she opens them to full, bright daytime light. She blinks her eyes groggily. Standing and looking about, she realizes she is no longer in the same forest she and her new companions had made camp in. Casting her gaze over the gently sloping forest floor around her, she sees no sign of her two humanoid friends.

Blinking again, she shakes her golden-maned head in confusion. She senses someone standing beside her, but when she looks, no-one is there. Something brushes lightly against her ear.

“Luuuuuunnnna,” someone whispers, in a soft, alluring voice accompanied with the silent sound of heavenly bells.

Immediately and intuitively, Luna knows this is the voice of Dama, the god(dess) of love and innocence. My Dama, my one, Luna remembers.

“Veritas needs your help,” says Dama, again in a resonant whisper.

Standing a short distance in front of Luna is the figure of an elven woman, pale and almost ghost-like in the glimmering light of the forest. Her figure is slender and feminine, graceful even in the absence of arms. She looks powerful, with the stance of the warriors and the poise of the druids Luna can no longer remember. A sad, almost pained look mars her partially obscured face, and a waft over Luna’s back causes her to shiver. As quickly as it appeared, the image fades away.

Unsure what to make of this, Luna sets her body down once more and closes her eyes, and as she does so an unpleasantly familiar scent floats across her nostrils; the spicy, almost foul odor of her new companion Torro. She opens her eyes to see Torro asleep to her left. He lets out a horrid grunting snore, scratches his back, and rolls over. Luna then looks towards Veritas, who is resting fitfully on the border of sleep and wakefulness. She decides she will keep what she has just seen from her companions.

Month of Reaping 2, 635 AW

Up at dawn, Veritas is eager to hunt for signs of the Grammite agent who escaped him the previous day. The party heads down to the site of the shipwreck to search for any clues that might be available, but find only too many sets of tracks heading in all directions. Everything is as they left it the night before. They decide to head north, where they assume they will eventually reach the Stannish League city of Chellith.

Travelling along the shore, the beach gives way to increasingly difficult to traverse rocks, and eventually to sheer cliffs. They decide to head in towards the forest, and find a well-trod path a short distance from the edge of the woods. They head north again, and travel for several hours.

In a particularly dense patch of trees, Luna notices a human body laying against the base of a tree along the side of the path. It has a gaping hole in its chest that appears to have been chewed out. Emblazoned on his right shoulder is a stylized TB tattoo. Examining the woods beyond the body, they find a hidden trail heading east, back towards the ocean.

The trail appears to end abruptly when it reaches the cliffs at the ocean; however, they find a stone stairway leading down, towards a cave entrance on the side of the cliff, some 150 feet above the crashing ocean below. Despite attempts to draw out the inhabitants of the cave, they see no signs of life.

They head down the stairs and carefully go in the dark cavern, aided by their darkvision. They enter a small antechamber, with a door to the left, a portcullis to the right and a deep hole in front of them where the floor has collapsed between them and another room. Listening at the door to the left, they are concerned by the slithering sounds they hear beyond. Looking above the entryway, they see a chiseled “TB.”

Torro, ever prepared to throw caution to the wind and charge into danger, is nevertheless persuaded by his new chums to perhaps exercise a little restraint, and they decide to continue with their previous plan of heading north to civilization, where they can perhaps learn a bit more about what to expect deeper in the dungeon.

Returning to the path, they once more head north. A few hours later, the forest begins to clear and they see cultivated fields, cottages and farmhouses, and a town at the water’s edge, from which they can just hear the lively sounds of music.

Veritas approaches a farmhouse and is greeted at the door by a stout woman in a floury apron. Unhappy to give them much information, she directs them towards the town of Torker Shoals.

When they reach the first few buildings of Torker Shoals, they see that while it may have started out as a few fishing huts and storehouses on the shore, it has grown into an unwieldy network of docks, jetties, quays, houseboats and beached ships all together in a semi-permanent framework. They see two guardsmen with aquamarine tabards over their boiled leather armor.

Approaching one of the guards, Veritas enquires about the symbol they saw in the cave to the south, along with the unfortunate corpse they encountered, which instantly rouses the ire of the guard. He eventually calms down as Veritas explains they are simply travellers, not looking for any trouble. The guard is also angered by what he sees as their mistreatment of their horse, as he believes they have grafted a false horn onto her head, like a carnival side-show. Despite this, he directs them to the Howling Imp, a former galley converted to a tavern, to find the local wizard, Reyoris.

Arriving at the Howling Imp, Veritas, Torro and Luna manage to get near to the bar without rousing much suspicion, thanks to the raucous partying inside and the large gangplank entrance that easily admits Luna’s horsey frame. They saddle up to the bar and request some food (seafood for Torro, oats for Luna) and drink (mead for Veritas, plus one for the barkeep). The barkeep is a scrawny old man in a plain white shirt with a tattered red vest over top. He pounds back the mead he poured for himself like he was dousing a flame in his belly.

Veritas asks about both the Grammite agent and the symbol they saw on the wall in the dungeon, and, after being persuaded by another drink, he tells them it is the symbol of the Tumbledown Boys, a gang of thieves that operates in Torker Shoals and has a small presence in Chellith as well, generally doing work for the larger crime syndicates. He also informs them that he heard they had recently stolen something from Reyoris. Veritas asks if the wizard is around, and the barkeep rings a large bell behind the bar, and heads out back, as if to grab their food.

He returns from the back room wearing a comically large and floppy wizard’s hat, and introduces himself to the party as Reyoris the Mage. With a few more tankards of mead down his gullet, Reyoris asks what brings them here to see him. Puzzled why they’d need to as him about the Tumbledown Boys when they had clearly just been talking to him about it, they repeat the questions. He confirms that indeed they stole something from him, but isn’t exactly forthcoming about its nature. They tell him about the body they found, the strange hole in its chest, and the cave they found. Cryptically, he asks if they happened to see any large red or blue monsters while they were down there. Ignoring any further questions, he asks if they would recover the object he had stolen from him, at which time he might give them some information regarding any newcomers to town he may or may not have seen. With that, he travels back to the room behind the bar, and the bartender returns with a bucket of shellfish for Torro and a bucket of oats for Luna. After they have eaten, they bargain with him for a place to sleep for the night, and Veritas heads off to buy a grappling hook, before joining the other two in the room for a night’s sleep.

Month of Reaping 3, 635 AW

In the morning, they head out of town back towards the cave. They find the body undisturbed in the same location, go down the trail and down the stairs and enter the cavern once more.

In the antechamber, they attempt to bridge the chasm. Veritas secures his grappling hook and attempts to climb across, but slips and lands roughly on the bottom. He recovers, and manages to clamber up the far side. He sees a large red curtain that has been pulled back from the entryway to the room, and a table inside covered in rotting food. He walks to the back of the room and opens a wooden door. Inside there is some food as well as several large barrels. He hears a slithering sound and looks down to see two dead bodies and two abhorrent tadpole-like creatures. Two feet long, their bulbous mottled grey heads are supplanted by two shiny black eyes and split horizontally by a wide mouth inset with rows of razor-sharp teeth. Their caudal ends terminate in a wriggling, writhing tail. He sprints back to the first room, removes the grappling hook and manages, with the help of Torro, to get back to the other side of the gap.

Torro opens the door to the left and they head in cautiously. Within, they see a smashed-up guardroom with four corpses with gaping chest wounds, like the body they found in the forest. They are attacked by more tadpoles. Without too much trouble, the party clears the room, mostly thanks to Torro’s great axe. When they can look around the room, they find one door, with levers along the same wall. Veritas and Luna are ready to open the door, but Torro notices the large nozzle above it, so Veritas opens it with his mage hand, avoiding becoming extra crispy when a gout of flame washes the floor in front of the trick door. They lift the lever next to the door and hear a grinding of gears further away in the dungeon.

They head back to the main room, only to find the portcullis still closed. Back to the lever room they go, attempting to lift a second lever, but it won’t budge. So, they push down the lever that is up and lift the first one in the room, and hear a similar series of sounds. This time, when they return to the antechamber the portcullis has been lifted, and they journey through, deeper into the Tumbledown Boys’ stronghold.

Along the hallway they first come to a stone door on their right. As before, Luna and Veritas deem it safe, but Torro, in a bout of hitherto for unheard of caution, prods the door with one of his javelins, which loses two inches of length as it is crushed by two swinging stone pincers. The half-orc triumphs once more over a trapped door. To their left, a metal portcullis is down, so they continue straight on before coming to an open corridor on their left. They walk down it, finding only a small table with several shields, daggers, and one large sword.  One of the party goes to grasp the hilt of the sword, whereupon it flies into the air menacingly and attacks them. In the ensuing melee, Luna takes a recoil of her Sacred Flame cantrip and is nearly rendered unconscious, but ultimately the uppity weapon is rebuffed and lies shattered on the floor. Nursing their wounds, the party takes a short rest.

Feeling rejuvenated, the three stalk back down the hallway and head right, into a storage room with three more dead bodies and the expected three tadpoles. Once more, without much trouble the tadpoles are disposed of. The room has little of interest otherwise; mundane supplies like boots, clothes and extra grains little the walls and corners, and three doors mark the walls. They try the door on the left, and manage to get through thanks to their humanoid battering ram Torro. Within they see a horrific scene of carnage, with charred corpses both human and tadpole, and barely-standing furniture. They receive a telepathic message from a pseudodragon hiding within, who survived the blaze.  After some back and forth, he tells them his name is Ammit, and that he once served the leader of the Tumbledown Boys, before the fire consumed him as the survivors fought to save themselves from the invading tadpoles. It all started when a glowing black and blue orb was brought back to the stronghold. He informs them the orb is somewhere in the deeper recesses.

Heading back out the door, they head through the door on their left and enter another hallway, clear and damp. Luna hears distant shouting from further back. They find another two doors and an open passageway. Opening the first door, they smell the stench of a sewer, and quickly close the door. Moving on, they head down the path of least resistance to a small storage room filled with wood, coal, and other goods.  They follow another small passageway back and find themselves in a room adorned with paintings, vases, mystical-looking weapons, magical artifacts and piles of platinum, gold and silver pieces. An intricately engraved gold chest is the centrepiece of the room, with an ornate rug in front of it. Our adventurers, wise to the tricks of the Tumbledown boys, they shift the rug and reveal a pressure plate underneath. From a distance, they depress the pressure plate and suddenly, behind them, the shouting that had been growing increasingly frantic ceases. Examining the fine treasure horde, they realize they’ve been blessed with a finding of an entire room filled with wooden coins, rip-off paintings and false swords. They head back to the previous room to examine a fresco on the wall. Veritas finds five openings that would fit a hand, and casts his mage hand cantrip, opening a hidden door.

Veritas dejectedly turns away from the new entrance, seeing only a gaping chasm. Luna and Torro, meanwhile, see a simple hallway leading to a door. Ammit is under the same illusion as Veritas. Fearful, Veritas watches in horror as Torro and Luna appear to jump headlong into the pit and crash fifty feet down. In reality, Torro and Luna have crossed to the other room, where they find three more tadpoles that have sprung from the corpses of three prisoners shackled to the walls. Eventually, Veritas overcomes the Phantasmal Force spell and can cross the threshold. The three tadpoles are defeated, and the adventurers pause on the threshold of the next door.

 

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The Saga Begins
In which a half-orc, a half-elf and a pony meet

A wandering lost unicorn is ambushed by a pair of thugs near the edge of the woods. A Th'Huyan longship plies the coast of the Bay of Stann, while two captives belowdecks plot their escape. 

Month of Reaping 1, 635 AW

Luna the unicorn has slowly lost her sense of purpose and attachment to her former home in the northern forest and has been wandering aimlessly for months, keeping to the woods and using what remains of her celestial powers to stay hidden from prying eyes. Unnoticed by Luna, two men have been waiting in the branches of a tree ahead of her. As she passes, they drop down and attempt to subdue and bridle her. She manages to break free and sprint away with one of the thugs still on her back, but she is taken down by a heavy crossbow bolt to her right flank and darkness descends on her world.

Meanwhile, on the Th'Huyan longship gliding along just off the coast, Torro, the half-orc barbarian now half-crazed with hunger reaches his breaking point and tries to force the issue with his manacles. He slams his weight up and down, railing against his captivity, despite the insistence of his rowing partner Veritas, who insists he will be able to free them using his sorcery. But Torro needs food. Like, now. And so he continues to trash up and down, and draws the attention of the two guards. Drawing back to lash Torro's already scarified body, the first guard catches the other in the eye with the tip of his whip. Confusion reigns, and Torro manages to destroy the chains binding him to start trading blows with the two guards. Veritas, frustrated by his inability to cast a spell from his bound position, resorts to screaming, yelling and ultimately feigning death to draw the attention of the guards. Somewhere in the dim non-raging recesses of his brain, Torro realizes this is not a fight he can likely win on his own, and so smashes apart Veritas's shackles as well. Seeing the tides turning against him, the second guard makes a break for the stairs. Reacting quickly, if not skillfully, Veritas fires a firebolt quickly after him, but manages only to leave a nice charred pattern on the inside wall of the hull. 

Blows are traded. Needless to say, despite some miraculous failures on the part of our two heroes (resulting in one unconscious half-elf) the guard is finally subdued. Torro races abovedeck with Veritas on his shoulder only to be greeted by the sight of a blindfolded unicorn hoisted 20 feet above the surface of the deck and flailing wildly. At that moment, Torro's heartstrings are drawn taut as the guy-rope supporting the mast, and they snap under the strain. In an interwoven fury of rage and love, the hulking half-orc bellows at the three sailors, two of whom freeze in their tracks. The third, twice as brave and half as intelligent as his fellows, charges forward, and is promptly pummeled to a pulp. Having reached the ground, Luna wriggles free from the hoist and charges into the fray, lightly goring one of the sailors. When the fracas clears, the three sailors are down, Veritas has been healed by a touch from Luna's horn and the grace of Dama, but guard number one has made his way back, and this time, he's not playing around. His club is gone, replaced by a menacing mace. Veritas sneaks away when he hears a commotion off to the side, near where Luna was set down. He peeks over and is nearly impaled on a crossbow bolt, but manages to escape with merely a large furrow in the side of his head. He casts Sleep on the boat, and hopes for the best. The remaining guard miscalculates the utility of a mace against a unicorn in full chain, however, and is disposed of with minimal damage to our happy new party. 

Veritas begins to search around the deck and gathers the rest of his and Torro's gear, also managing to secure a number of coins and a small phial filled with red liquid suffused with tiny bubbles of light.

To the west behind them, they see a flash of light shoot up into the sky and see a boat rowing towards them, and realize this must be some more of the crew returning to the ship. As Torro frantically searches for food, Luna and Veritas rouse the slaves below to action, in an attempt to save all of their lives. Veritas manages to capture their attention with his magically projected voice. Moving at a rapid clip, Veritas ascends to try to steer the ship, but finds he needs Torro's bulk to turn towards land, which he has learned from one of the other prisoners is somewhere between Durnsport and Chellith on the Bay of Stann. As they cruise in towards the beach, Veritas works to free those chained to the oars. Not all of them take to their newfound freedom; most of the Th'Huyan slaves remain in their seats, seemingly indifferent to their new lot in life. At the last row, Veritas sees that there is a face he recognizes; a Grammite agent who from the prison at Latticeport. Desperate to gain what information he can regarding Neera's whereabouts, he reluctantly frees the man, but not without menacing him with an impressive (and entirely harmless) fireball should he try to run. Everyone starts to run to the main deck, and Veritas locks the Grammite agent in a cabin and braces himself on the mast. At that moment they strike land. Torro is thrown from the top deck and into the water, while Veritas smashes his face into the mast and Luna tumbles down the stairs. When the dust settles, Veritas opens the door to the cabin only to catch the man blinking into the Ethereal Plane. He does hear a splash somewhere in the open water behind the ship and out of his grasp.

Once everyone has made it to land, the three decide to lick their wounds and make camp for the night, as the other freed slaves dash off into the night. 

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