A Bunch of Crazy Stuff That Happens

Starego. Star ego. Get it?

Original writeup was insanely long when only a third complete, so:

  1. The Eladrin souljacker, Eramil Starego approached the party while camping.
  2. He claimed to have taken the soul “for the greater good”, which later turned out to mean enhancing the esteem of his family.
  3. The party believed him, and offered to travel with him. He refused, believing they would not survive the trip.
  4. Instead, they resolved the problem by a duel, which the party won despire Eramil’s fantastic speed and accuracy with his sword.
  5. The party was rewarded with a live chicken wearing a “mayor” sash, which Eramil swore held the soul in question.
  6. To find an accessible portal to the party’s home plan, and a woman to patch Eramil’s cloak, they traveled together to the village of Cloud Lake.
  7. Cloud Lake is on the shore of the lake the party fell into, which is also called Cloud Lake. It’s a small but pleasant town which produces textiles from the fog.
  8. The villagers had expected some elfs to cross over to help protect them from Myconids, as they do every winter, but they have not arrived. The village will be safe, but inconvenienced.
  9. Eramil explained some of the spooky lights in the sky at dawn; there is an active volcanoe well to the north and east.
  10. One of the villagers’ ancestors, who had become the local wind, led them and Eramil to a fey crossing in the woods and activated it.
  11. Eramil departed to find another way to serve his house
  12. A big rock fell from seemingly nowhere and kabonked Jenda-Shan on the head. It proceeded to burrow in. Lucan pulled it out, but it stuck to his hands. Jenda-Shan pulled it from Lucan’s hands, but it stuck to Jenda-Shan’s hands. Whooat pulled some common sense out of herself and wrapped her hands in a cloak to pull it away safely.
  13. The party sent an animal messenger to Sage Batson, bringing him roughly up to date. The initial “recording” heard by the poor cheetah-bird they used was too funny to exclude: “Batson, with love, is this thing on? Ha ha oh no, hi, William Batson! This is your favorite traveling party, we’re OK, had some unexpected travel come up. Hope everything’s well… you get twenty five words. What? You get twenty five words. Why don’t you tell me these things? I did.”
  14. The bird thing way a lot funnier at the time.
  15. Lucan recognized the area, and led the way to the tiny community of Glendale’s Glade, where Madelf has supposedly originated.
  16. It became apparent the Madelf had been suffering for a few days with the dagger in his back, and unsuccesfully trying to construct sack boys. He then slaughtered all three families making up the town, including his wife.
  17. The party respectfully burned all the houses of the town, taking only Madelf’s notes and his wife’s diary for investigative purposes.
  18. The party traveled on towards Kingdom’s End, passing through the elfish town of Sweetleaf.
  19. Sweetleaf is a trade-oriented town, comfortably dealing with humans and other residents of Turanga. Trade has been favorable lately, with Turangans paying well for elfish foodstuffs.
  20. The party reached Kingdom’s End, where they were welcomed by the guards and citizens, as the last widely known story about them involved climbing off a cliff.
  21. Whooat returned the wayward soul to Mother Euphasia. The temple has been a bit tense, because they had to leave the body in the ritual room, but wanted to keep it a secret. Euphasia restored the soul to its rightful body, with Whooat assisting.
  22. Jenda-Shan visited his brothel, which has been doing brisk business as expected in cold weather.
  23. Lucan went to the party’s usual inn, the Laughing Little Person, and met J’ayne. She was quite drunk and beligerent, demanding to know about their trip to the Feywild.
  24. Jenda-Shan recieved a sealed letter from Lepeedee Glibbleflang, inviting him to Lentry to see about a position as “Assistant to the Regional Guildmaster”. The letter implies a connection to the Chlamidian artifacts.
  25. Lucan and Jenda-Shan visit Batson, who confirms their suspicion that the Rock of Headaches which hit Jenda-Shan is from the Vault. It begins to seem likely there is a connection between planar portals and the artifacts, but the relationship is not clear.
  26. The party overhears that the locals are a bit worried about supplies. Some recent shipments from Lentry have not arrived. Even if the road to Lentry closes, it should be OK so long as the winter is not unusually harsh, but food prices are already climbing higher than usual.
  27. The party also overhears criticism of Mother Euphasia. Between her recent bouts of secrecy, and her not-so-secret relationship with Sage Batson, some question her dedication to service of Pelor and the people.
  28. The party plans to look into doing something about their Chlamdian artifacts in their possession, and to visit Lentry, in the near future.
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Beer, Rope, and Whores

Cheered on by kobolds, the party dispatched another group of giant ants. The queen ant exuded vile corrosive pheromones, causing some trouble, but her servants were fragile and short-lived.

The party continued on, finding an upward-slanting passage, following the smell of fresh air. Soon stray beams of light bounced in from ahead. There was some awkward climbing to do; Whooat had no trouble as she was riding a wall-clinging ant, and Jenda-Shan had no worries since he could fly. Lucan, unfortunately, was not a skilled climber. He tumbled; fortunately he was an excellent tumbler and somehow managed to fall up.

Around one last, very last, corner the passage ended and revealed a big, beautiful, sunlight-lit, snow-dappled clearing. After over two weeks scrambling through caves and cave denizens, the party had escaped.

Ahead lay a farm. They could see people working on the fence line in the distance, apparently an adult with several children. The party was reluctant to bring their kobold followers-slash-leaders out to the surface, but the kobolds wanted to stay with them.

Jenda-Shan: "Maybe it's a kobold farm."

It was a kobold farm. A young woman ran this farm as a sanctuary for wayward kobolds, and was glad to accept new refugees. She offered her hospitality for the night, and traded a healthy horse for the two giant ants the party had brought out, since ants required careful attention to survive aboveground in winter.

The farm was located in a sparsely populated area called Canaida, only a few days west of Kingdom’s End. The party traveled home without incident. The mood within Kingdom’s End was somber. The party had been given up for dead, and interrupted their own memorial service!

Sobriety fled. The night was a merry one. At the Laughing Little Person, Paul the innkeeper lavished the party with drinks. He also had some packages which had been left for them. Among them, a note from the dwarves of Ardale’s Mine. Ardale had absconded with some of their assets, but the mine was running independently. The reclaimed Temple to Moradin was thriving, but the walls were oozing Evil Putty, some of which was included in the package. The dwarfs did not recognize the significance of the Putty, and had in fact been using it as a drink mixer.

Kingdom’s End had marched on in their absence. Count Fussbottom has dealt with this theft and smuggling problem, but expensively, and his businesses overall are struggling. He even had to lay off J’ayne. Sage Batson is stressed as well, as he’s been getting less work from Fussbottom, but he’s kept safe the Dagger of Remote Control and also located another Lock of Chlamidior. The lock, in the shape of a bust of a man recoiling from a punch to the face, was unobtrusively located on the shelf at the nearby general store. Mother Euphasia has kept the temple in order, but needs a favor. Actually, she demanded the party help since they “owed the church” for the privilege of recovering the equipment below, but Whooat stood up to her, earning the old woman’s respect and a rare smile. A discount resurrection has gone wrong, and a spirit was apparently jacked and taken.

Divinating a bit of ritual scroll found near the temple, Jenda-Shan determined an Eladrin had been skulking near the temple and somehow absconded with the spirit. He divined the image of the Eladrin grabbing the scroll while kneeling in front of an unfamiliar (to Jenda-Shan) and upset-looking Eladrin woman.

While Lucan tracked the perp and Whooat asked around town, Jenda-Shan checked in with Fussbottom. Fussbottom agreed to provide what information he could about his dealing with Eladrin (which was wildly unhelpful) in exchange for Jenda-Shan looking into apparent accounting trickery at the Fussbottom’s most profitable business, the Merry Maiden. Jenda-Shan asked around, making the aquaintence of the working girls, and sharing a drink with J’ayne who had been spending time there since losing her job.

DM: For the sake of being able to look you all in the eyes, 
nobody is getting it on with a whore.  I'll have Pelor smite 
your junk if I have to.

With a combination of divination and inquisition, Jenda-Shan found that actually Fussbottom was cheating himself. He was doctoring his accounts, and hiding cash, to avoid paying taxes on the full profits. Normally very careful in his business dealing, he had slipped up and forgotten due to recent stress. He and Jenda-Shan came to an understanding; the Merry Maiden was “officially” signed over to Jenda-Shan who would report and pay taxes on one third of the net profits, while Fussbottom’s accountants would funnel the other two thirds to him. The change of management, and Jenda-Shan’s reputation as a do-gooder, would divert suspicion of the drop in reported profits. Thus, Jenda-Shan became a multi-class Wizard/Pimp, acquiring Skill Focus: Bitchcraft.

The party rejoined with itself. Lucan had tracked the souljacker to a cliff near the north end of the city wall (which only covered the non-cliff side of town), and the footsteps looked an awful lot like he had jumped off. The ledge overlooked the river and forest to the east, with an open view of the mountains to the north. It was a spot of rare beauty so close to a major city. A rock tossed over the ledge vanished after about 100 feet. The party suspected a Fey Crossing, so they bought some extra rope and returned to the cliff. A guard atop the city wall spotted them and wished them luck: “If you fall, scream real loud before you die.”

Lucan climbed down first. After 100 feet, he vanished in a puff of nothing. Whooat pulled the rope up, but it was cleanly cut at that length. Jenda-Shan confirmed it was probably a dimensional portal, but a one-way portal with no way to know exactly what lay on the other side.

Meanwhile, Lucan fell.

After some trepidation, Whooat tried to climb down as well. She stumbled badly and fell spinning to vanish where Lucan had.

Meanwhile, Lucan continued to fall.

Jenda-Shan gathered up the rope, tapped into his airy essence, and floated gently down along the cliff face.

Meanwhile, Lucan noticed he had been falling a while.

The party was falling at their various speeds, having appeared beside a huge rock spire over a mile above a large fog-covered lake. Jenda-Shan and (in moments of lesser panic) Lucan recognized the Feywild from their education, but Whooat’s experience was simply an overwhelming sense of nature pressing into her awareness. They were all impressed upon by the sharp-edged clouds in the bright grey sky, the piercing dapples of light on the water below, the angry roaring of the wind in their ears, and after a long fall the stifling substance of the fog.

The fog let light through, but was physically denser than should have been possible, more like cotton batting than like a cloud. Gently, almost lazily, the fog slowed Lucan and Whooat so that they landed in the water with a pleasant “ploink”.

Even wearing armor. they easily swam to the nearby shore, the beach adjoining a sparse forest in a large plain below the rock spire. The opposite shore of the lake was perhaps a mile away. Jenda-Shan waftily drifted down to meet them. Lucan spotted tracks matching the Eladrin from the temple, who apparently wasn’t even bothering to be sneaky, leading into the forest. They proceeded; in was late autumn here as well, and the trees were bare. Unfriendly angles were in the branches and cast as shadows on the ground. There always seemed to be something moving in the corner of one’s eye.

As they entered a clearing, they were set upon by mushroom men, Myconids, whose motives were unclear. The Myconids were not terribly strong, but they were well-coordinated and put both Whooat and Jenda-Shan in fear for their lives. Fortunately the party was victorious.

Welcome to the Feywild.

OOC: None of the players caught it at the time, but the woman overseeing the kobold sanctuary was actually Wat, the only survivor of the first party to travel Turanga. Wat had taken a handful of baby kobolds to safety after “accidentally” sacrificing their siblings to an Iron Defender. Not even Wat’s player (who now plays Whooat) recognized the description. It was decided that this was just excellent roleplaying, since Whooat had neither met nor heard of Wat.

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MMmmm, Spicy

Accompanied by jaunty kobold lyrics, the party headed down the stairs, revealing a series of passages dimmly lit by wall fungus.. It was quickly apparent that water would be a problem down here; they only had one waterskin each and the kobold minions’ water-gathering technique (trailing their tongues along the wall as they walk) was not helpful. Moreover, the glowing fungus was a prime food source for giant ants, and the party had to clear out an ant work crew to proceed the path the kobolds claimed lead to the surface. Whooat, riding an even gianter and ant, plugged the passage and bashed bugs with her mace while Lucan and Jenda-Shan attack from behind her. The ants were not very tough, though Whooat still took a moderate beating.

The smell of fresh water wafted in from one side passage. The kobold legend said safety was in the other direction, but the party was entirely out of water (having rested well after the ant fight) and decided to head towards the smell of water.

They found it easily enough: a perfectly clear pool. Unfortunately their brilliantly perceptive scout Lucan uncharacteristically hung back as Jenda-Shan and Whooat walked to the edge of the pool. A massive dark shape stirred under the water, and the Dread Wyrm Murphy burst forth! The terrible wounds on his face and flanks were festering, his eyes were mad, and instead of acting like a clever conniving master of his domain, he was simply driven by rage and the desire for payback.

But the party had learned more from the previous fight than Murphy had. They were not badly shaken by his fearsome presence, and they did not bunch up tightly enough to all be caught in his acidic breath. Jenda-Shan and Lucan peppered him repeatedly early in the fight, while Whooat brought on Pelor’s protection and set Murphy ablaze. Murphy flew around the cavern, often staying low enough to rake at Lucan or Whooat, but high enough to avoid Whooat’s close-range attacks. He charged and raged, even breathing acid again in response to a nasty shot from Lucan. He made no effort to deal with being on fire, preferring to let the pain drive him on.

Dread Wyrm Murphy, drooling acid and lashing claws: I am your death!
Whooat, having subsisted on fungus and rocks: You are my dinner!

Murphy focussed mainly on Lucan, as Jenda-Shan was tucked into a passage and Whooat’s shell looked too crunchy to make good comfort food. This left Lucan direly wounded, but Whooat was able get close enough to heal him by goading her ant mount directly underneath the flapping dragon.

Lucan, of course, focused on Murphy in return. He prepared his most precise and deadly shot, one designed to end long fights, and charged it with exploding fiery magic from his new bow. The universe tipped its hat as he loosed the arrow straight and true. The arrow went into Murphy’s left eye. A bright light flashed from behind his right eye. Steam billowed, and goo spilled, from his ears. Murphy was not killed by this epic shot, but it was clear he had seen his last day, and only the right side of it. His angry rants became babbling nonsense. His claws and teeth lashed out at nothing. He was quickly, almost mercifully, dispatched by the party. He fell to the cavern floor in a smouldering jumble of barely-connected parts.

The liberated kobolds returned, and gathered around the corpse of their former master. Uncharacteristically somber, they silently acknowledged the great debt and respect owed to the party.

The party, meanwhile, was filthy and exhausted. They cleaned up, even rinsing the goo off Whooat’s ant’s chitin. They processed the once-fearsome Murphy like any other animal carcass, harvesting useful parts (teeth and claws as trophies, various victuals as ritual components, and the whole head as a hood ornament for the kobolds’ pack-ant), and preparing dragon jerky to supplement their otherwise distasteful food supply.

They also recovered the lock from around Murphy’s neck. It was magical, and openly bore a mark combining that of the Vault of Chlamidior with that of a key. The surmised it was a lock to the Vault, mated to the key found stuck in a door above. They tucked it away without opening it.

After a somber but safe night’s rest, the party moved on. Kobolds leading the way reported another batch of ants. Somehow, the prospect of giant man-eating insects is not so intimidating as it was.

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We Got Minions!

The party returned to the lair of the Dread Wyrm Murphy, who again eagerly gobbled up the spider eggs. In return, he offered to swim them up an underground river one at a time, which would lead to the surface a ways north of Villageton. The party did not trust the dragon, and when they tried to politely incline, he suggested if they change their minds they should contact him from within his belly.

A brief, brutal fight ensued. Lucan promptly backed away from the others, so Murphy’s acidic breath only affected Jenda-Shan and Whooat. The breath, and the dragon’s raw terrifying force of presense, set a dire tone for the conflict. The heroes fought back, repeatedly setting Murphy on fire, but he simply waded into his pool of brackish water to extinguish himself. Fortunately the dragon was uncoordinated and failed to land many heavy blows up close. In one such close encounter, Jenda-Shan noticed the dragon was wearing a padlock on a chain around its neck.

Finally, Murphy had been torn into by arrows, divine justice, and mystical forces so extensively that he fled. He dove into his pool and swam away. Jenda-Shan confirmed the story of an underground river by sending in a shadowy serpent, who also spotted the dragon’s hoarde: a good bit of gold, and a powerful magic weapon capable of changing shapes.

Kobold minions approached, who turned out to be friendly, though the one Lucan shot in the face might have held a grudge throughout the split second before its death. This crew was glad to see Murphy scared off, and told the party there was a way out of the cave system, to a “sanctuary”, but only after passing through an area overrun by ants. The party debated the various paths open to them, and decided to travel with the kobolds for now. Before doing so, they had to dispath the kobold leadership, including an ant-riding priest. Fortunately these ants were docile; one ant carried Herring Preserves (a favorite food for kobolds, but inedible to most humanoids) and the other carried Whooat.

They proceeded as directed by the kobolds. Other than one uncomfortable morning due to misidentified “food” foraged by Lucan, the travel was uneventful. They reached the spiral stairs mentioned by Murphy previously. The construction was outsized for humans, reminiscent of ogres who reputedly lurked beneath Kingdom’s End long ago.

At this point, the party had been underground for roughly a week and a half. They were hopeful to avoid another confrontation with Murphy, but also intrigued by the lock around his neck. The kobolds mentioned Murphy violently discouraged curiousity about the lock. Could it be one of the locks to the Vault of Chlamidior?

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A Dungeon and a Dragon

Two out of three doors agree: boom! Fortunately the party was not badly hurt. Bizarrely, a key was stuck in the lock of one door despite not being mated to that lock. The key was marked as a key to the Vault of Chlamidior, the second one found by the party (the first being Sage Batson’s left buttcheek).

Rather than wait out a month of subterranean blah, the party decided to explore further. They didn’t have carrying capacity for much water, but Lucan managed to forage for food and water consistently. He also navigated well enough to keep them confident they were exploring new featureless passages instead of revisiting the same ones. Over the course of a few days, they dealt with several large spiders with a proclivity for leaping at humanoid faces. Jenda-Shan had a close call after being poisoned by such a spider, but otherwise the party did well.

Then they stumbled into a tremendously tall cavern. As they approached, they heard a noise like ten thousand kittens sneezing. This turned out to be a juvenile black dragon, lazing in a pool of water, suffering from spider allergies. Only Jenda-Shan, having recently acquired a dragonling familiar, was able to communicate with the dread wyrm Murphy. The dragon’s minions have let the spider population bloom out of control, and the dragon is too big to reach the nests. Would the party care to earn the right to continue living by clearing out two nests and bringing back some tasty egg sacs? Jenda-Shan accepted. The dragon also claimed he’d give the party a sure way back to civilization, warning them away from a spiral staircase which lead only further in but might eventually lead to some way out.

Lucan: "What exactly was the deal?" 
Janda-Shan: "We get to live."

The party found the smaller of the nests as directed, dispatching a group of spiders and an Ettercap along the way. The “small” nest turned out to be nearly deadly for the party. The spiders would leap and envonomate one of them, then skitter back behind cover, only to leap out again as soon as a target presented itself. Everyone spent some time rolling around in pain. Finally the nest was purged, some egg sacs were gathered, and the party settled in to sleep in the defensible position.

They were interrupted by the sound of approaching humanoids speaking Draconic. The party was in no mood or health for conflict. Jenda-Shan overheard the approaching group: kobolds looking for an easy meal of leftovers from the party’s spider cleansing. He created an illusory cacophony of skittering spider legs, scaring the kobolds off. Crisis averted.

The trip to the larger nest took them back to Murphy’s lair, along a wrong turn into the kobolds’ own nest (fortunately the party could merely slink away), back to the dragon lair year again, along two days worth of twisty passages, and finally into a big room of pain. Ettercaps and a swarm of spiders tried to push the party out. Lucan and Whooat spent a good deal of time tangled up in webs, but he peppered everything in sight with arrows, and she kept her friends alive. Jenda-Shan turned the nest into a blazing mess with a rolling ball of fire. Mostly the battle was a slow slogging affair; the party was sticky but not badly injured. They recovered more egg sacs, and found a healthy supply of gold used as decoration by the Ettercaps.

Their first week underground comes to a close as the weary party prepares to rest before sealing a deal with an obviously evil dragon.

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Delving for Deaders 2: Delving for Deaderser
  • Whooat: What do you think we should do?
  • Janda-Shan: Press on.
  • Whooat: And die?
  • Janda-Shan: No.

After Lucan scouted ahead a bit and saw no immediate end to their trek, the party committed to not leaving the dungeon that night, instead facing the likelihood of staying for a month.

They returned to and fortified their supply cache. When Mother Euphasia, backed by a squad of young clerics, opened the door she accepted the party’s decision. The door will be opened again at dawn, 28 days hence. Whooat having invented Morse code (though not explaining why it’s called “Morse” code), the party will coordinate with the temple residents by knocking on the heavy door. Euphasia also shared a powerful item to help the party deal with the trials ahead: a deck of playing cards, still sealed.

Refreshed after a night’s rest, the party headed back down. There was a minor scuffle with a handful of hands, over the same pit the party initially encountered them, but nobody was seriously hurt. Further in, deeper than the party went before, they found two skeletons lobbing undead crawling hands across a pit. The party took a few hits, but destroyed both skeletons before they could exhaust their hands ammo. Several of the hands were destroyed by Janda-Shan’s scorching burst while still in their original carrying case.

Down, down, down, they found yet more undead. Several doglike creatures, fast but not sturdy, burrowed through the accumulated filth to gnaw on them. There were also two zombies, heavily armed and armored. Whooat was seriously hurt, and Lucan not only got hurt but had awful luck landing his shots. The tide turned when Whooat’s powers started to protect and boost the party. Janda-Shan activated his Staff of Light and proceeded to cook the opposition a little at a time for the remainder of the battle. Lucan finally got in several good hits. Whooat stopped bleeding.

Startling to the PCs, when the zombies fell to normal blows, they reanimated shortly after! Startling to the zombies, they were still being char-broiled by holy radiation from Janda-Shan’s staff, so they immediately crumbled to ash, never to rise again.

Exploring a bit more, the party found a gaping pit, apparently the passage to the Underdark sealed off by ancient ritual. A goodly amount of unconsumed Residuum was collected. They also found the bodies of the two heroes who’d requested their equipment be retrieved one day: a human wearing Dwarven Chain mail emblazened with images holy to Pelor, and an eld wearing a fig leaf and carrying a Flaming Long Bow. Whooat claimed the armor, and Lucan the bow.

The party has achieved its objective. Now they face the challenge of either enduring a month underground, or finding an alternate exit from the uncharted hell.

Three closed doors stand nearby. The DM does not know what’s behind them, so the session ended.

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Delving for Deaders

The party carefully recovered the vile dagger, and questioned their prisoner. He said Madelf came from the East, promising to restore the glory of Elfdom. He also said the entire band had been wiped out. It seems the party has vanquished another formidable foe.

Back in Villageton, Batson had been chatting up a bard who’s spread greatly exaggerated tales of the party’s first adventure dealing with the Crowd of Insect Sex Appeal. The bard means no harm, though he put Guild mage Leppedee Glibbleflang on the trail to the cave, which made the party uncomfortable. A quick trip to the cave made it clear that the site was just a plain old cave now, and that Glibblefang had checked it out recently too.

Returning to Kingdom’s End, the party turned in at the Laughing Little Person while Batson returned the wagon and horses to Fussbottom’s household, promising to collect the remainder of the party’s pay. The next morning, the party came to Batson’s house but found him agitated. He suggested they leave, but something was clearly amiss. Whooat, worried, yanked open a closet to reveal a bit too much of Mother Euphasia. The newly minted couple asked for privacy. Lucan slinked out to do some shopping. Janda-Shan literally flew away, attracting a bit of a crowd. Poor Whooat sat on the porch chanting “la-la-la-la” to to drown out the sounds of Batson and Euphasia playing checkers or whatever it is old people do when dating, attracting yet more of a crowd. A guard came to investigate, stomping into the house, and promptly stomping out alternating facial colors.

Soon enough, Batson came out to invite the party in. He did not appreciate the crowd.

Euphasia had been briefed on the Vault of Chlamidior, and was set to help. She could perform a ritual to answer one question, so long as the answer was knowable through sage-craft. As she prepared, Batson confirmed that the dagger found stuck in Madelf came from the vault. He relayed more of the story of the Vault and the Clappers, and Janda-Shan explained what he knew through his own historical training. The Clappers, a mostly human group with some elf and dwarfish members and goblinoid mercenary help. had dominated much of the continent, largely through their store of artifacts. It took a huge alliance to unseat them. The greatest mages of the time finally sealed off the Vault, not only physically, but separating it from this and all other planes. Thus the Vault is no longer “at” anywhere, it is its own location.

After much debate, the party asked, through Euphasia, “How do we access the Vault of Chlamidior?”

Their answer: “There are five keys and five locks. Each key is marked with the inverse of the Mark of Chlamidior. The locks are lost.”

The party saw no immediate use in this information, but Batson reacted by fainting. He recognized that he himself bore such a mark; “I think I’m one of the keys”. He had long felt an affinity for history and arcane trivia, but could not explain why. Perhaps this is part of the answer.

Euphasia had sensed some roiling of the usual undercurrents of darkness, and now sees why. Weeks ago she sent Whooat out into the world to shed her naivete. It seems a greater mission is afoot. She suggests the party go under the temple of the Order of the Judgmental Gaze, Whooat’s home, to recover relics held by heroes of long ago. The temple had been built to cap an opening to the Underdark, with Elfish help. The way can be opened only sporadically. She will open it two days hence at dawn and dusk, but if the party goes down and cannot return within that span, they will not have a way out for a month.

The party accepted the opportunity, and laid in supplies for a month-long underground stay. They hoped to pop in and out of the relic-hole in just a few hours, but the supplies would give them a safety net. Soon enough, down they went, after a squad of clerics-in-training and misfavored orphans carried the supplies down. Euphasia closed the door behind the party, promising to open it again at dusk.

The party found a straightforward path. They came across a wide pit with a twisting narrow passage over it, infested with undead severed hands. The party was victorious, but the swarms of hands had left grievous injuries on Lucan and Janda-Shan. Whooat was, uncharacteristically, only moderately wounded.

Further down, they found a few more hands scuttling about on a clearly unstable floor. The hands were dispatched quickly, but the floor was tricky. Janda-Shan had little to fear since his elemental nature granted him brief bursts of flight, but Lucan would soon find himself dangling like a yo-yo crossed with a pinata.

Whooat used her great strength to act as anchor on one end of a rope, while fleet-footed Lucan tried to find a safe path. He fell through, fortunately catching himself rather than falling the twenty feet. Less fortunately, he revealed the level below to be stocked with skeletons, most of which had bows and arrows. The party thus alternated between trading shots with the skeletons and probing the floor. One skeleton, a barby sort swinging a scimitar, charged up and tried to make a hash of Lucan, handily testing some floor as he went. The skeleton fell through, charged up again, and was eventually dispatched by Janda-Shan. Another particularly nasty foe was the flaming skeleton lobbing fireballs from below. Lucan was actually set ablaze and lost consciousness; Whooat was able to revive him quickly though.

Finally the foes were vanquished and the each party member made a safe way down; in Lucan’s case “safe” being only a minor fall on his face. The fact that the tiles of the unstable floor triggered a trivia mini-game with fabulous prizes provided small comfort: they were all tired and hurt. It seemed unlikely they could face another significant group of foes without a night’s rest, but it being only about 8am they were none too sleepy. It began to seem like a relatively good idea, bizarrely, to set up for a long stay in the long-abandoned, dead-infested, unexplored passageway to the Underdark.

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Tales of Giants and Bunny Birds

Heading South, the party caught up with the spooked horse. The exhausted animal was about to be dinner for a Hill Giant. Fortunately Lucan recognized the giant as Sorbo, the slow-witted but sociable fellow whose foot they’d freed from a spearhead. Poor Sorbo has had a rough time; he’d “started thinking, then I got a headache, then I started thinking, ‘people are people too’.”. Sorbo can no longer stomach eating intelligent beings; he’s now a “vegetarian”, eating only animals. The party did not elect to correct his terminology. Instead, they fed him (no mean feat) and convinced him to come to Lentry, where he might be able to help the town in exchange for steady food.

Southward again, they detoured to check the evil tree from which they’d freed Batson weeks ago. The tree was inactive, but growing, but not for long: they asked Sorbo to destroy the tree. Soon enough there was naught left but evil kindling and a few choice bits salvageable as ritual components.

Reaching Lentry, the outlying farmers were terrified of Sorbo, despite his efforts to hide behind himself. The guards were worried as well, until the party explained that Sorbo came willing to be a weapon. Thus Sorbo found a new lifestyle, and the party earned Level 3.

The party delivered their shipment to Ambassador Klech at the harbo, and whiled away two days while Batson discussed tactics with the anti-pirate task force. Sorbo would not be joining that effort, as he’s afraid of water deeper than his head (which he was not aware existed) and had no great appetite for rat pie anyway. After Batson ran one last errand in town, he and the party headed back nort to Kingdom’s End to return Fussbottom’s wagons and horses.

Near Villageton, while packing up camp, Lucan received a message delivered aloud by a rare breed of fluffy pink bird with bunny ears:

"I speak to you representing the true heirs to elfin dignity and grace.  You suck."

The farmers of Villageton mentioned that Leppedee Glibbleflang (Lunchbox Gargleblaster? Landspeed Girlylaugh? Leftfoot Grunkalunka?) had been around, asking about them and the incident with the fouled water. An elf was watching from the trees; spotted and caught he admitted he was working with Madelf, the self-styled noble elf who had sent the attack after the party left Kingdom’s End. He tried to convince Lucan that the humans and their “pets” like Genasi were defilers of nature, but Lucan was far more offended by carousing with undead and constructs. They executed the elf by hanging, “accidentally” tearing his head clean off. The farmers who’d gathered were put off by the cold-blooded execution, but were put at ease by Lucan’s explanation that the elf had been associated with the people who’d attacked the village by poisoning the water, which might even be true. Whooat would later be troubled by her role in the execution too, after taking the time to contemplate it.

The party sent Batson into Villageton with the wagons to please look into the stories being told about them, then followed the ex-elf’s directions to Mad-Elf’s camp. The party was stealthy but couldn’t cleanly take out Madelf’s first sentry, so by the time they reached the camp proper they were expected. The party found itself outnumbered, but by good use of cover, area effects, and the different weaknesses of different puppets, they were victorious. Madelf, after various blasts of fire, righteousness, and plain old steel arrowheads, was slain by Janda-Shan’s mystical cloud of daggers.

They found a healthy stash of gold in the camp, and Lucan took the magical amulet of protection that had made Madelf so hard to kill, with some protest from Whooat, who could usually stand to be harder to kill. They also found a what they immediately suspected to be another artifact from the Vault of Chlamidior: a sickly barbed and curved dagger, stick out from between Madelf’s shoulder blades, the meat around it black and infected.

They were deciding what to do with their one elf prisoner, and the dagger, when the universe got sleepy and had to drive home.

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Holy Flaming Latrines, Batson!
Sometimes Bad Plans Work Too

Shortly after the costume party, the party met with Duke Wayne to discuss the attack. Duke Wayne, along with a Guild Rent-A-Wizard named Oliver, had studied the meat puppet who tried to take Dukelette Pricilla. The puppet bore a tattoo of the Vault of Chlamidior, prompting the party to spill the beans regarding their Dude-related exploits. Both Oliver and Duke Wayne assured them in the future, any staggeringly powerful magical hoodoo should be brought to their exclusive attention.

The party met Sage Batson with two wagons to drive to Lentry. J’ayne was with him, but teleported away without a word when the party made the rendezvous, not evening bothering to stop the wagon.

Southward, the residents of Villageton bade them a hearty greeting and farewell (small town).

That night, the party set up camp a ways off the road, beside an ancestral poop pit. During Lucan’s watch, a small force tried to sneak up on them but Lucan detected them and woke the others. The attackers were an elf archer and, even more worrying, two sackboys. The elf only fired one shot then tried to run away while the sackboys amoked, but Lucan shot him dead. One sackboy fell to conventional means, but Whooat shoved the other into the poop pit. It climbed out, but was kicked back in and died in the fall. Making doubly (trebly?) sure, Janda-Shan tapped into the wind elemental powers of his Genesi heritage and flew into the air, then chucked a Flaming Burst into the pit. Generations of trapped methane gas exploded in a tremendous shower of, let’s say, dirt. A fireball mushroomed high into the air. When the flames and dirt settled, the small latrine had enlarged into a twenty foot deep, slick-sided pit (because that was the only “pit” tile the DM brought).

Batson pointed out the attack was an obvious feint to draw them out. Lucan carefully tracked the attackers back and found the ambush force. The party elected to continue camping, but set up dummies around the campfire and slept hidden.

Another attack came—this time a large force of three elf archers, five sackboys, and one of the powerful meat puppets. The enemies focused on the horses at first, prompting Janda-Shan to break cover. Batson pointed out that fleeing would be wise; Lucan pointed out somebody who might be fun to shoot and did so. The fight was long and hard, with several points of near-certain doom. Good use of cover and limiting the enemies’ movement allowed the party to deal with the enemy a little at a time. Janda-Shan brought out a flaming sphere to chase the highly flamable sackboys around. Whooat’s healing talents came into heavy play, and she buffed the party’s armor early in the fight. They also made full use of the slick-sided pit, dropping the feared meat puppet into it before it could even damage anybody. Whooat was nearly pushed in as well, but caught herself on the edge and vaulted wire-fighting style.

The elfs among the attackers seemed to think they were the good guys and tried to convince Lucan of as much, but he was having none of it.

Finally the party was victorious, taking out a force that had clearly been calculated to overwhelm them. Despite several close calls, the only concrete cost was the loss of a horse; two horses had fled, but Batson found one in his own none-too-dignified retreat. The rest of the night passed peacefully.

It remains unclear who is making using of the puppet constructs, but surely their capabilities have been limited after this crushing defeat.

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It's Rude to Crash a Party

The party idled away several days. Janda-Shan kept in touch with Sage Batson, who hasn’t made much progress lately due to distractions working with Fussbottom. Whooat continued to check on her order, whose reverend Mother remains in mysteeerious seclusion. Lucan elfed about.

Finally, the day of the Duke’s autumn costume party arrived. The guards found Lucan attempting to smuggle in his daggers, but fortunately the guard recognized the group and was content to just hold on to the blades and let the party into the, er, party.

J’ayne was there (dressed as a human; Fussbottom vetoed her original idea of “something dignified”) to help them network, but they did fine without her hovering. They met Kingdom’s End’s guard captain Malloran, a half-orc full of gusto but weak on tactics, who suggested the party might help the guardsmen out sometime. A representative of the Mages’ Guild, Leppedee Glibbleflang (sp?), whose semi-illusory costumes changed throughout the night, discussed the potential of a Guild outlet in the city; he was unimpressed with the magical goings on in the area but showed great interest in the story of the Crown as told by Janda-Shan. Most reassuringly, Mother Euphausia was there, dressed as a sultry barmaid (minus the youth) and pretending to be drunk so as to chaperon the young ladies in attendance.

The crowd bussled about Ambassador Klech of Prosciutto, an island nation far to the south, famous for its sailors’ prowess and its mens’ tradition of never uncovering their faces in public. The ambassador is in Kingdom’s End to help coordinate a strike against piracy in the south sea, and he’s in attendance tonight wearing a large complex sea dragon costume.

The actual costume contest was a crown-pleaser. Whooat made it to the semi-finals, but Lucan and Janda-Shan made it to the finals, competing against Ambassador Klech. Janda-Shan was an early favorite, complementing his costume and native appearance with appropriate illusions and even flying over the crowd’s heads, but his showmanship ran out of gusto. Lucan won the event, partly with graceful interpretive dancing, partly by showing off his marksmanship with borrowed cutlery (causing the guards some consternation). He was awarded a hefty gem (later hocked) and a trophy in the shape of a shaved ape holding a gleaming blade.

Some time later, the party winding down, there was a commotion at the residence. A group of sack-cloth constructs had crashed in and split into two groups, one going after the Duke, the other after his daughter in the opposite wing of the house. The guards inside had been killed or knocked out, and Captain Malloran was slowed down by his choice of costume (having lost a bet, he was dressed as a prisoner, complete with shackles) so it fell to the party to intervene.

Initially they focused on the duke as directed by Malloran, but the Duke was obsessed with his daughter’s safety, jeopardizing his own, so Lucan split off to help her. He found not only more sackboys, but the Ambassador Klech leading the charge in his sea dragon costume (and oddly spitting glue and rampaging with more strength than a diplomat should have claim to). Slowly they whittled down the sackboys, with Whooat taking the worst of the counterattacks as she pulled the Duke back his own potentially deadly wounds.

The duke was secured, and Lucan had slowed down Klech (with belated help from Malloran keeping them from swarming him), but not enough. Klech smashed into the Dukelette’s room, then smashed through a window out into the garden, dragging the girl with him. Lucan and Janda-Shan pursued, but Whooat collapsed in the hall due to bleeding, very near death herself. Janda-Shan spotted Mother Euphasia helping the crowd and called her into the residence, but Whooat’s time was tight.

Lucan was promptly glued to the wall of the house by the ambassador’s inappropriate exporationations, where he would remain until it didn’t matter. Janda-Shan put the ambassador to sleep briefly, and the Dukelette Priscilla as well, long enough for Duke Wayne to grab her and take her to safety. Euphausia revived Whooat in the nick of time, then saw to the guards who had been kabonked earlier. Whooat was still greviously injured and had to staunch her own bleeding, the disappointment of Euphausia, who preaches a more self-sacrificing and less useful approach. Whooat joined the others in the garden.

Little by little, the party broke down the ambassador and his costume—Lucan throwing scores of spoons, Janda-Shan throwing fire and clouds of blades, Whooat throwing herself. It became clear that they were fighting an impostor, a rotten flesh costruct, not the real ambassador. Finally the thing fell, having nearly escaped the estate, and having knocked Whooat to her customary place as death’s door. The party gathered ‘round her, and Lucan poured a healing potion down her throat. She gagged and choked on it, but that was alright, because it’s a healing potion. She awake and helped survey the mess.

The constructs had gotten into the party with cleverly forged invitations, each slightly enchanted to show a convincing endorsement, different for whoever read it. The ambassador and his guards had been knocked out and shoved into bushes. Most of the Duke’s guards had been knocked out as well—two inside the house were killed though.

The Duke rewarded the party by pronouncing them Friends of the City, the benefits of which are ambiguous except that their customary inn (the Laughing Little Person) now houses them for free, benefiting from their reputations. He also gave them a healing potion he had been keeping for his own use. Finally, young Dukelette Priscilla presented them with her “favorite blanky”, which turned out to be a powerful Cloak of Distortion.

The next morning they checked in with Sage Batson. He wants to go south to Lentry to get something to aid in divining the leftover gem from the Crown of Dude. Fussbottom has been having business troubles lately and his hired muscle balked after last night’s attack, so he needs somebody to escort a shipment of weapons to Lentry to help with the pirate counterattack. The party elects to kill two birds with one stone (presumably thrown by Lucan after he runs out of spoons) and escort Batson south along with the shipment.

At this point the DM grew weary of typing when he should be at work, realized others are tired of reading, and vowed to keep it brief next time.

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