Turtle Soup: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 5

66 days to go, continued

Mbala was a wreck inside. Inete and I sent our familiars out to scout. River wanted to leave, but that was when I noticed Oz wasn’t coming back. I looked through his eyes. He was being held by the witch we’d heard rumours about. She spoke to me through him, bidding us to come.

We found her outside her awful hut made of huge bones and hides. Her name was Nanny Pu-pu, and though Inete was very spooked, we took her offer to come inside. She spoke of old times and offered us a gumbo which we only pretended to eat, since she was blind. We told her about our quest, and she told us that she had a way around the broken resurrection magic – but it came with a price. We told her we didn’t need it right now, but maybe in the future we could make a deal.

Meanwhile, she asked us to go and deal with some flappy things that were troubling her, with their nest in the cliff just below the plateau we were on. So we went there, lead by River and Eeyal’s tracking, saw that there was a cave mouth in the cliff which we couldn’t reach, and found a chute leading down. All of us could fit except Eeyal, so Inete and her stayed up top and we warned them to look out and use the rope they were holding for signalling. Meanwhile we climbed down the rope…

… only to find ourselves faced by ten big winged lizard folk. These were the terrorfolk described in rumour. But luckily for us the cave was narrow at the back, so we slayed seven of them in the close quarters. Inete slid down the chute to help us. The other three flew off after the seven were dead. The others scrambled through the debris looking for treasure while I went back up to check on Eeyal. They found a silver dagger, some money, and a healing potion.

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And I found that Eeyal was gone. I called the others up quickly, and we ran to confront the witch, only to find a terribly familiar savoury smell wafting from her kitchen. She came out of invisibility and attacked us. Enraged by the loss of our friend, we managed to finish the hag off, which seemed a surprise to her as we dealt the final blows.

It was too late. Eeyal was beyond helping. Hugo has insisted we carry her behind us, and Inete gave in, creating a floating disk which trails behind her. Meanwhile, he has gone to sleep, having in his evening prayers asked the Chwingas for a spell of gentle repose so she may remain fresh and some magic may be able to bring her back. Maybe, in time, if we fix resurrection magic, and if we ever get magic powerful enough to do it, we can bring her back properly.

Later that night, while the rest of us morosely rested in the now complete quiet and safety of Mbala, River and Flask uncovered the hag’s treasure trove in a cistern. There were six onyx gemstones, a scroll of language comprehension, and ten dwarven adamantium ingots. Inete recognised the symbol on them; it was that of Hrakamar, the albino dwarf kingdom on the southern side of the peninsula. Perhaps if we go there ever we can return them.

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Bingo Bango Bongo: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 4

69 days to go, Continued

We quickly hit a rainstorm. We made up camp, and Inete told us more things she knew through rumour or had seen in visions, such as someone called Grandfather Zitembe in a jungle city full of snakes somewhere in the south, enclosed by cliffs; a black obelisk draped in vines; how she had come south with a guide who had been killed when they had been mobbed by some undead, and he subsequent rescue or capture by the Order of the Gauntlet. She really seems to enjoy gossip. We don’t have much in common.

We stopped for the night and noticed that the grass was very green and there was a sweet breeze where we were. Then we saw some of those nature spirits we’d heard of. They didn’t want to eat River’s goodberries, or listen to her play the flute, and they just ran away. But later I noticed a little gold monocle frame I had in my pocket for a long time past vanished into the ether during that time. We stayed there and tied ourselves up in trees to sleep. Inete summoned her familiar, an almiraj called Bongo, and they set up the alarm spell around our camp.

Lucky we did that, as those sea hags from before came back for revenge. They had brought a whole host of zombies to aid them, but this turned out to be their downfall. The nature spirits had left a little yellow gemstone in Hugo’s pocket, and it glowed very bright as he chanted the ceremony to repel the undead. As they tried to shamble away, the hags were trapped in a ring of dead flesh they themselves had created in their folly. So with this watching crowd of zombies pressing in around, they tried to climb the trees we were in. Thankfully this gave us a decent amount of time to snipe at them from our height. But it was a very close thing. Flask hit the ground hard at one point, but was revived. Bongo charged one, and it fell off the tree and broke its neck. We managed to finish the last one off before it could escape. So we won’t be chased by them anymore. Their undead dispersed, no longer controlled.

68 days to go

We reached deeper into the Aldani valley, and the swampy terrain held us up. We saw nothing much other than lizards and insects. We found an ideal tree to camp under. No disturbances.

67 days to go

We turned our course west and reached what could be plains in this humid country. We ran into a party of lizardmen and were not able to reach an agreement with them. They had a prisoner tied up on their beast, and they seemed to want to add us to their ration store. So we took them out. It was tough, especially when the shaman summoned a huge lizard beast to their aid, but we managed, with all our healing magic.

The prisoner was a turtle person (!) called Eeyal. She is going to travel with us, now that we have told her our tale. On her journeys from Port Ahoyhoy, the home of her people, she has seen many things: Lake Luo, and on its shores the ruined palace of Nangalore; the gorge of Ataz Muhahah and the ruins of Mezro; nearby, the ruin of a flying ship with a crazy man living inside; King Toba, the king of the snapping turtles, with his gemstone shell; the dragon turtle Aremag in the Bay of Chult, who demands specific treasures from passing ships. Also she knew a specific rumour we desperately needed to hear: that up the River Tath, past the Ataz Kahakla, is a ruined city where a naga guardian lives… and that city is Orolunga! So we redoubled our efforts westward, hoping we’d gain a vantage point to see south and west to look for the ruins.

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Eeyal is a tinkerer, and Hugo handed over the mysterious gemstone for her to examine. She knew what it was immediately: a stone of the Chwinga, those nature spirits, which will help defend people against undead. So Hugo held onto it, and that night by the time we had camped, he had yet again switched his religious allegiance, as he did only a few months ago by choosing Jergal, to the Chwingas. Oh well. I think it will be a better fit for him than Jergal, to be fair.

66 days to go

We finally reached M’bala, and it was a giant prominence sticking out of the earth, so we had to climb. River sensed something nearby, but she could not pinpoint it. As we climbed, we could see ‘The Heart of Ubtao’ to the south east, a giant heart-shaped piece of earth floating in the sky. We also saw a flying shipwreck to the south. And as we finally neared the entrance to the ruins of the once great city of M’bala, we saw in the west the distant ziggurat of Orolunga. We will go there next, but first we will see if the rumours of a witch in M’bala are true.

 

G.I. Blues: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 3

71 days to go, continued

Inside Fort Vengeance, everyone looked tired and many of them sick. Still, it was hard to feel sorry for our captors. We were escorted to the tent of Lord Breakbone, who was a twat and wouldn’t listen to us. He said we were being press-ganged because he needed more men. Then he threw us into the guard room for the night, which meant we did nothing for the rest of the day.

One of his lieutenants called Perne brought us dinner. We tried to warn her about the coming devastation should they not allow us to continue. Even she wouldn’t listen, though she seemed to understand more than Lord Idiot. In the end we compromised, saying we’d heal some of the sick tomorrow.

70 days to go

Met Ord Firebeard, a dwarf, a lieutenant of Lord Idiot. He took us to the latrines, where Flask pointed out to him that the set up was all wrong and probably contributing to people being sick. This seemed to impress him.

We went to the first aid tents and met Sister Syas, their healer. She was busy, so Hugo and River set to healing as quickly as they could to help. This impressed her enough that we were allowed a break.

On that break we met another person who was press-ganged, a local priestess of Savras, called Inete. She told us of some red-robed wizards in the Aldani Basin, nature spirits that wear masks, a legend about green dragon bones pointing to treasure between Mezro and Kir Sabal, and of a wrecked Halruaan airship called the Star Goddess. We told her what was up with us, and she asked to come and help if we could secure her release too.

So we finally were able to face ‘trial’ in front of Lord Idiot. Thankfully Perne, Ord and Syas all took our side and convinced him to let us go, so long as we helped out a day or so more.

So we set to working furiously to be able to leave as soon as we could. Hugo, River and Inete healed until they were exhausted. Flask helped redesign the layout of the latrines. I helped the Quartermaster look over his records and figure out where to best use their supplies.

69 days to go

They asked us for another morning’s effort, and promised to let us go after helping a bit more. So Hugo and the others went back into the first aid tent, and Flask and I considered the set up the camp had to prevent insects attacking the sleeping. After a hard morning’s work, we were released.

As we went down the river once more, Oz shrieked and pointed down the river. Just as we went by a corner of a bend, I caught a glimpse of someone who looked like Undril arriving at the fort. Thank Jergal we left when we did.

Rolling on the River: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 2

77 days to go, continued

As we started to leave the city, Undril told us that the former Order of the Gauntlet camp, Camp Righteous, had been destroyed by undead. When I then mentioned our religious order, she left us in a rage.

Leaving town, more rumours from our guides. There is a ghost village above the Aldani Basin. Also we have to watch out for a blue mist in the jungle whick causes Mad Monkey fever. Also there were nature spirits to look out for, but they would be unlikely to attack unless we did.

We had to row from the port to the mouth of the Riven Shoshenstar before stopping. It was hours of exhausting rowing in stinking rain. We made it by night, and set up camp. I cast the spell Syndra had been disapproving of in the temple of Jergal. Find Familiar. A monkey with wings hurtled my way and is now pulling my hair. I see why she was not keen on that spell. I have named him Oz.

76 days to go

Last night we were woken by two big water lizards with long necks fighting and screaming in the river. But we managed to mostly sleep through. On the river, Hugo put out the fishing line and caught a few. Flask spotted the blue mist at one point. We had to get out of the river and wait a couple of hours for it to pass. He mentioned that there is a beetle which is said to cure the fever of the mist. Later, we had to go up a few portage paths to get around waterfalls. Right now as we camp, there are 9 flying lizards circling above our heads. Pterosaurs, our guides call them. They don’t seem interested in us.

75 days to go

Awful rain held us up for a while, and when we finally got going it was slow because someone had to always be bailing. Only interesting thing today was a flock of flying snakes, but they didn’t attack us. River and Flask have a fiddle and flute out. The music is strange and I think I hate it.

74 days to go

The rain eased up. We saw old ruins of Ubtao across the river. We had three waterfall portages today. At one, Flask spotted a frozen tree. Must have been a wizard. Thinking about it later, the guides seemed interested, but not surprised to see it, weirdly.

73 days to go

Today on the river a giant snake attacked me and pulled me into the river. I boiled it alive a moment later, but not before breathing in throat leeches. Short of breath, lots of coughing. Also our fishing line got eaten by quippers. Going to sleep now, hopefully Hugo can get a restoring spell from Jergal overnight.

72 days to go

Woke up feeling much better. Reached Camp Righteous to find burning buildings, two rowboats, and a huge shrine. 80 foot statue of a man carrying a crocodile. We hid our supplies and boats under a rotting tent. Freed a baby axebeak that was trapped in some of the camp wreckage. River remembered a story about the man carrying the crocodile. It was a folk tale about how a crocodile carried a man across a river, and now the man has to carry a crocodile across the land.

It was really big inside so I had Oz fly ahead and spy out. We had to climb levels that were 7 feet high, though there were cracks in the levels so it was easy. Then we had to skirt around traps in the floor. Flask fell into one, even after spotting it. Then he and Hugo got swiped by blades out of the wall.

We saw 16 floor panels at one point, and Oz could see that 16 panels on the door ahead of us matched them, but one was glowing. So we stepped on the counterpart on the floor, and nothing bad happened to us. The glow on the door changed, so we stepped to the one matching that, and so on, until we were across the floor. Then we had to touch those same door panels, so River on Flask’s shoulders touched the top two and Flask touched the bottom two, in the order that we crossed the floor on. The door opened.

Inside was a pile of bones and webs everywhere, and a pillar with stairs, at the top of which was a ceramic jug. Beginning to climb, we got struck by lightning. But then we thought, what if the thing we did before – putting River on Flask’s shoulders – was the point? What if all the motifs on the wall of the man carrying the crocodile were the answer. So they climbed up like that and no traps went off. They got the jug and brought it down. Nothing happened. I checked, and it seemed to be magical and different stoppers corked up different liquids, like oil and water.

We went out, Hugo carrying me on his shoulders, and the guides still like that, and none of the traps triggered. Outside we were attacked by goblins, but we held them off. Their leader ran away. We ate lunch in the doorway of the temple. When we came out the two rowboats had their bottoms knocked out. Must have been the goblin leader. But he hadn’t found our actual boats. After one further portage, we camped for the night.

71 days to go

Slept in later today because we were attacked last night by three sea hags. We were lucky to be able to scare them off with our desperate defence and moved inland. But then things got even more unlucky.

After sundown we passed Camp Vengeance. From the river, I hailed them and asked if Undril had made it to them yet. They told us to stop, but we kept going. They chased and caught us. Apparently the commander thinks she can commission any passerby!

Welcome to the Jungle (but a different jungle this time!): Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 1

Last night James and I decided to take a break from Dirwin and try out the exciting new release Tomb of Annihilation. 

Our starting cast is my main character Priscilla, and her colleague and friend Hugo. Priscilla was an orphan, found by Syndra, High Priestess of the ‘Cult of the Useful Dead’, a Jergal-worshipping cult. This is a cult invented by us, where they are good/neutral aligned necromancers and death clerics who believe in helping the dead achieve their unfinished business even if they are too poor to afford Raise Dead, by using Animate Dead instead.

Syndra made Priscilla’s dead parents into her zombie nannies, and so Priscilla is a quiet and socially awkward devotee of the cult, married to her job. I am going to try and reflect this in my blogging of her story by being more terse, in comparison with the gregarious Dirwin and Genora.

Hugo is the idiot son of a farmer who is clumsy, yet has a fanatical love for the gods and a sort of idiot-savant way of floating through life on instinct (high wisdom). The Cult of the Useful Dead is the first place he has really belonged.

The opening conceit of ToA is that everyone who was ever raised from the dead is now slowly dying, one hit point per day. And so, I am counting down each day towards Syndra’s demise… unless I can stop it in time!

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A great big empty player map…

79 days to go

Find myself in a strange land. It’s hot and smelly. I better start at the beginning.
High Priestess Syndra has been getting sicker and sicker for the last three weeks. She finally figured out what it was. She’s dying. Everyone who was ever raised from the dead is dying. Healing magic is weaker. Resurrection magic is dead. She has learned through divination that the answer can be found on Chult. Something called the Soulmonger. Without warning, she casts teleportation and she, Hugo and I are there.

Later I learned we are in Port Nyanzura. At the time though all I can see is sea, bright buildings and street markets, and the lizards bigger than any I have ever heard of. We set off to find the house of Syndra’s friend, a merchant prince. On the way, I was accosted by a cat-person (?) who said their name was Brightwhiskers and asked for a gold piece. Hugo seemed to think the person was a good person, so I gave them a gold piece and they scampered off. Said they’d pay me back.

We reached the great house of one of seven merchant princes, Wakanga O’tamu. He offered to take Syndra in, and gave us advice. He flirted with me, I think. It was unpleasant. I know I am not a beauty, so I am suspicious of any who accuse me of being so. Hugo was careful around everything in the house, mindful of his clumsiness.

His advice was to buy magic items from him that we could only get from him here, to get a guide registered by his friend Jobal, and to take plenty of supplies into the jungle with us. Not to share our very unfinished map that Syndra had given us. Make money betting on dinosaur races (not likely). He also told us a rumour of a lost heir to Chult held prisoner in a birdfolk monastery on the Olung River. He also gave us a battered journal belonging to a wizard who explored the jungle 15 years ago. He asked us to try and find that wizard’s golem guardian lost in the jungle and bring it back to him.

Left Syndra with him. A little way down the street Hugo and I were nearly taken out by a falling water barrel. We were okay, but Hugo left it late to say to me that he saw someone up on the roof.

Found a suitable inn in the Redmarket, so named for the stained bloody cracks between the paving stones. Outside Kaya’s House of Repose we saw a board of guides, and looked over it, then went in to pay for room and board. Two cat people in the bar had seen us looking at the board and told us not to bother with Jobal’s guides. Their names were River Mist and Flask of Wine and they offered to split the treasure with us rather than get paid up front. Hugo seemed to approve of them. I told them about the curse that seemed to be afflicting the raised, and they seemed a little concerned.

They told us a few rumours they’d heard about things in the jungle. There’s maybe a witch who knows things about making sentient zombies near Mbala, not far south of us. There’s a frog-person village and a prominence called Firefinger not far to the south east. Would have to watch out about going north east though as some stupid bunch of people called the Flaming Fist are mounting expeditions there and beat you up if you don’t have a licence. Also there are some ruins out there of temples for some old god called Ubtao.
They recommended we spend tomorrow buying up supplies while they went and talked to some of their contacts around town.

Have updated map. Now will read some of the lost wizard’s journal.

78 days to go

In the market, was attacked by madman. Raved about The Ancient One beneath an Ancient City, and that the snake men knew about it. We couldn’t find out about snake men when we asked people about it.

After all the shopping and nearly running out of money, a lady called K’halu asked Hugo and me to help her collect a debt. We failed. The guy was called Taban. After he let me carry away K’halu and Hugo, both unconscious, K’halu wrote off the debt. Before she left our rooms, she told us that the ruins of Mezro are only an illusion. Wrote that on the map. Also she said she had heard that whispered by a pale man to a lizard man who smelled of honeysuckle. Whatever that is supposed to mean.

Later when River and Flask returned they commiserated with us over our defeat. Taban apparently is some underground ring fighter. They had been busy talking to people and had a friend called Rokah who wanted an escort up to Fort Beluarian to spy on the Flaming Fist. A little digging and they told us their friend – and many of their friends – were Zhentarrim.

We aren’t going to have time to go northeast when the obvious clues are leading us south. They heard about another person who needed an escort, a half-orc called Undril Silvertusk, who wanted to get to Camp Vengeance, an Order of the Gauntlet fort. That was more in our direction so we agreed to escort her. I convinced her to go find medium armour before tomorrow unless she wanted to die of thirst, exhaustion or drowning.
Brightwhiskers found me at the inn and repaid me ten times over. Pleasant surprise to see anything back at all.

Updated map, and will read more of the old journal tonight. In a panic. Guides reckon trip could take almost three weeks. We don’t have that kind of time. Hopefully boating makes the trip faster, or we find what we need soon.

77 days to go

On the way to meet Undril to leave Port Nyanzura, was accosted by a priest of Savras, a divining god. He raved at me to speak to the wise guardian of Orolunga, west of Mbala, she can direct you to that which you seek. We helped the priest up and made sure he was all right, but he didn’t remember his raving.

We met up with Undril and started to leave town. She told us she had heard that east of Mbala was the Aldani Basin, where in olden times Ubtao had turned all the people there into monsters for eating all the lobsters. Marked that on the map.

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Yep, I know, it’s Liliana, but still… it’s one idea of what Priscilla might look like.

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 7: Rock Lobster

We headed into the Lady’s Ward early to open up the store, Water’s Garden Shop. Ceryi had acquired it off a debtor, and all of the employees had been killed when the previous employer tried to use summoning magic. On our way to the shop we were shaken down by a gang of Harmonium guards, but a bribe saw them on their way.

We got to the shop to find a range of exotic plants and sea creatures, as well as garden furniture. We were greeted by Buddy, an ex-wizard’s familiar rock lobster. With his help we were able to get through the day, feeding the animals and plants, cleaning and restocking. Also he turned out to be a pretty sound political debater. It only took me about an hour or so of his company for me to pay for his freedom.

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We had many visitors. A delivery man showed up a few times with new stock. A little half-elf boy came in to buy Buddy, but I had to explain to him that Buddy was no longer for sale and that if he wanted to be Buddy’s friend he should talk to him. That didn’t interest him. Word had to wrangle a few frogs who tried to escape. I discovered a dead fish and thankfully with Buddy’s help managed to analyse the disease in the tank and pour in a potion of greater healing before the disease killed anymore fish. Marja swept the floor, restocked, and argued her political revolution with Buddy.

I discovered a talking newt who claimed to be a princess, but when I took her outside and released her from the polymorph spell, she was actually a hag called Agnes Fishlips. I let her scamper off. Then a little old lady came and bought a few different plants for her new tavern. Word went off to deliver her plants. The little boy came in again but still wasn’t interested in getting to know Buddy really. Two men came in acting suspicious. Marja watched them. But eventually I figured out, by the way they kept looking out the front window, that they were hiding from someone, so I showed them through the back door.

I made toys out of rocks and flax for the fishes, and we received a new delivery of fish, Elysian fantail specifically. Then we had the big client come in, the one that Ceryi had told us to look out for. Her name was Lady Shilandra Mossfeather. I told her to ask whenever she wanted help, but as we set up new tanks and helped the little old lady, who came back to change her order, she started to look bored. So I turned into a seahorse and had some of the fish do some impressive choreography to get her attention. It was a little too much perhaps, because even though she placed an order with us for a very impressive tank with glow in the dark fish, it seemed that I was the thing she really wanted to purchase. She even stipulated that it be me coming to do the installation personally in her chambers.

While Wolf was walking with her to deliver setup pieces, Marja went out to commission glassblowers and carpenters, so Buddy and I were alone in the shop for the next few visitors. A necromancer came in and demanded that a certain crystal ball was his, and I could hardly stop him before he left. Oh well, at least the loss wasn’t too great to the shop. The little half-elf kid returned with henchmen and more money, but I still turned him away, so he threatened to return with his parents. Four teens came to buy goldfish, but when I tried to sell them tanks I realised they had no intention to keep the fish alive, so I sent them away. After lunch, we got a visit from Shimeshka the Marauder’s ‘fire service’. I took the wiser path (for now) and paid their stiff 300 gold fee. An elegant woman came in trying to buy 28 goldfish as spell components. I sent her away with an earful about using spell foci to avoid animal cruelty.

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Then, once Word had returned, a crazy homeless druid called Old Gameth came in and grew murderously angry because apparently I had ‘sold his friend’ (presumably one of the plants?). He cast a thunder spell and shattered four of the tanks. Thankfully I had just been learning how to control water! I managed to hold the tank water in the air, turn into a croc and escort him outside where Word pinned him down until he calmed down. Once he was more reasonable, Word bashed the workroom door open and I was able to guide the water flow into tanks in there. We sat him down, gave him some food, and tried to figure out his deal. In the end Buddy suggested taking him to the Bleak Cabal’s asylum, where he would be cared for, so Word escorted him there, with a new baby plant for him to raise as a gift from me.

Finally able to look around, I noticed a plant from one of the shattered tanks crawling off. It was lucky the tank did explode, otherwise I may never have seen this plant! It was a carnivorous red lily. I put it in its own tank and put an expensive price tag on it. Then who should walk through but the half-elf kid and his parents! So I polymorphed Buddy into a human so make them see that he was a sentient being on his own and his son could not own him. So instead they bought the lily. Kid might lose a finger or two. No skin off my nose!

Ceryi finally returned, and considering what a day we’d had and how much money we’d actually made, she wasn’t all that grateful. Oh well. She seemed disappointed in me for buying Buddy. I offered to awaken a frog to replace him as the shop mascot, but only on the condition that it be considered an employee and not a saleable item. She wasn’t keen on that, so I guess we won’t be having anything to do with Water’s Garden Shop anymore. Which is great, because I am exhausted from just one day of retail!

But there did come some good out of it. Buddy is going to come see the planes with us! We’ve even bought him a spellbook and he’s trying to see if any of his long dead master’s magic still lingers in him. Who knows? All I know is, I don’t see any other adventuring party around with a rock lobster in it!

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 6: Weird Science

After cleaning up Heart’s Faith for some time, we heard that on the Outer Planes a paladin was looking for people to defend the modrons from evil. So we met Sir Vaimish Crasad in the town of Excelsior. He was a part of the Knight Militant, enemies of the evil Tacharim knights, who were conducting skirmishes against the modrons. We were to help the modroms get to the gate at Tradegate, and then we would be done. We were given a magical silver bugle and told to blow it if our spot ran into trouble.

Days into our escort of the march, taking time on and off, we finally had the chance to stop an attack. Four tacharim brought their yeth hounds and attacked. Something that shouldn’t have been possible happened… the yeth hounds’ fear effect affected the modrons…? Four modrons broke ranks and we captured, and we rode after the knights to resuce them. With the help of Sir Vaimish, we were successful. At one point I had fun dropping from flying form straight onto a knight in crocodile form.

Over the next little while I got the chance to know Sir Vaimish better. He is a good and humble man. His sister Greir was also a good woman, and was captured and most likely killed when she was spying in the enemy base and sending back information.  He was sad, but the way he paid tribute to her was by holding the line.

After a few more days passing, we heard horns caling up and down the line. Realising we were encountering some sort of trick, we flew up to the top of the dome of the march, and looked around. Some knights were already successful in capturing a large chunk of the march, and were riding off. Vaimish was unaware, so we sent Tessa to warn him, and we rode off, shadowing the knights. They led us to their outpost, where it looked as if there was some kind of factory where the large band of knights was dropping the modrons off. We rested a while and spied at them from atop a cliff, where we could see the band of knights riding off again. Vaimish sent us a message magically, and we were told to begin the rescue attempt. Word and Marja scouted for an hour, and then we flew in through a broken window – me as a raven, the other three as aphids on my back, and my pixies invisible by my side.

Inside we saw a terror too horrible to describe, so I will be brief. The modrons were being experimented on, and some were still alive during this process. There were pits with more modrons in, and a captive woman. I sent Hurdygurdy down, and he found out it was Greir!

So we mounted our rescue as such: I dropped Toledo and Word off as aphids at the inner door out of the factory room, and Marja and I hovered with the pixies on the ceiling. All at one moment, two pixies cast Fly on me and Marja, Toledo and Word reverted back to their natural forms, Marja cast entangle on the main doors, and the remaining pixies dropped Polymorph spells on the two guard knights in the room. They were tortoises from that point on, so we focussed on dispatching with the awful factory workers and their nasty experimental implements. Marja and Word had a particularly effective move where she whipped one up into the air, Word bashed into it, and then it landed on a table of experimental spikes.

After we’d freed Greir and the modrons, the pixies secured the room and we put the tortoises into the pits. Questioning them and learning what Greir knew, we could patch together this scenario: the Tacharim’s experiments are being lead by four people. One is a Mulhorandi priest of Set, Sethatis, and he had a bodyguard with a flaming body. The other two were a baariur couple, called Yissa and Denrac, and they seemed to be scientists. They were vivisecting modrons in order to improve Tacharim by creating hybrids, somehow. While we considered this awful plan, Marja performed mercy killings around the room where needed. Greir urged me to go now and kill the four leaders.

We burst into the upstairs rooms, sneaking past surgeons with failed operations (the modron parts have disintegrated when we performed our mercy killings) and happened to see the male baariur driven insane by his missing parts. We ignored him, moved on, and discovered Yissa in her study. We fought off her bodyguards and apprehended her, but got attacked by the fire elemental bodyguard of the priest. He fought by teleporting his way around, but after getting caught on the wrong foot, he teleported away. So we checked out the rooms in the relative peace, ignoring Yissa’s complaints. The priest must have gotten away, for there was no sign of him. We took personal effects of his in case we needed to scry or track him.

As soon as we tried to leave the corridor we were attacked again by the elemental. In the chaos we lost Yissa and she started blink-teleporting away, but we took the elemental out with ice storms, collapsing the balcony he was on, and with a flaming croc jump. More knights started to spill out, so we got outside and flew into the air. While Word and I scanned the horizon to see where Yissa got away to, Marja summoned a lightning storm to destroy the watchtower and the fortress. We couldn’t find Yissa, so we helped Marja set fire to the fort and started heading back towards the Modrons.

On our way there, we ran into Tessa, who spat Yissa out of her mouth! She had been flying to find us and had intercepted Yissa. So we took her prisoner and went back to Sir Vaimish. He was overjoyed to see his sister again, and took Yissa prisoner. Her sentence is to be imprisoned on Bytopia, where even the most evil of souls are daily assulted by the positivity of the plane until they are good people. What a wonderful idea. Also, Toledo left us to join Vaimish’s crusade. We’ll miss her, but it is a good cause.

Meanwhile, Marja, Word and I headed back to Sigil. Later, at the Garden Gnome Bar, we ran into Ceryi. She asked us for a favour. Tomorrow we’re going to be shopkeepers… at an aquarium!