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.

 

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 2: A Day in the Life

Day Nine

After a week of living here, we’ve finally finished kitting out our new case on the corner of Saints Boulevard and Revel Road. Marja still isn’t happy though. No real ground, no real sun. I’ve made her a pit of earth in her room, but I’ll have to see what kind of magical sunlight I can rig up for her in there. At least burning all the old ledgers belonging to Jysson seemed to make her a bit happier.

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Earlier today I met a half-elf called Cnatha Da’nanin, the consort of Erin Darkflame Mongomery, the Factol of the Sensates. He had heard about me and came to visit. He told me about the value of the factions and why I might want to consider joining one. He wasn’t trying to sway me towards the Sensates, but everything he told me made me consider them the closest to my personal values. I was most excited by the prospect of their library where people could record their experiences for others to experience. So that’s something I started doing today. I feel like my experiences in Barovia are worthy of recording, and Cnatha says many people will want to feel what it’s like to be an outback creature.

All this week we have been eating different foods at different places in the market district, but our favourite place where we find ourselves gravitating to every couple of days is a vegan gnome bar where the petite dishes are delivered on plates on a moving bench. The owners are a threesome of gnomes who all seem to be married to each other. The wait staff includes Sidonie, an androgynous Aasimar obsessed with fashion, Grudak, a jumpy Thri-kreen who seems to be hiding from his past, and Polynomise, a reckless nymph who charms everyone out of anger each time she drops something or trips.

The friends I have made at the bar include Toledo, a warforged who identifies as female. She stumbled into Sigil from a place called Eberron, where she was walking on a drawbridge on guard duty. She is more clueless than us despite being here longer than us. We also met Ym Grapplescrap, an ugly gnoll who is a Bleaker and a soup kitchen worker. He isn’t evil, because he’s found a new pack with the Bleakers after being kicked out of his gnoll pack. Also we are friends with a marid weapons merchant called Ceryi.

We had more visitors later in the day. The second lot were taxmen, ‘Takers’ from the hall of records, saying that we owed 50,000gp in back taxes!

While we sat and despaired and racked our brains trying to think what we should do, we received our third visitor. I coudn’t believe my eyes. It was Madame Eva, the vistani. I told her she wasn’t welcome because I blamed her for the death of Esmerelda, before I suddenly remembered – Esmerelda killed Madame Eva. And yet here she stood. She was from the past, before I had even come to Barovia, but she knew who I was and she vaguely knew the future. I didn’t think it possible that I could interfere with the past through her, so I shut up and listened to her. She said she knew she’d owe me a debt in the future, so she was here to pay it. She told me that this place works on three rules:

  1. The rule of belief. I already knew about this. The planes are only held together by what people believe, and my visit to Automata shook their beliefs so much that it moved the geography of the place.
  2. The rule of threes. Everything comes in threes.
  3. The rule of rings. Everything is cyclical.

She left me with a question that hadn’t occured to me. How did the Takers know about me? An interesting thought.

Morosely, Marja, Word and I went to the bar. But that was a lucky thing. Instead of drinking away our sorrows, as soon as we told our new friends our problem, they had the answer: Ceryi needs someone to go fetch some weapons that were stolen, and will pay us 50,000gp for the pleasure. Toledo has offered to come with us.

We’re going to some place called White Plume Mountain.

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 1: Welcome to the Jungle

It has been five years since Dirwin rejoined Barovia with the Prime Material and he, Marja and Word began their search for Tenebrus, the root of all the sorrow on that place. Lost in a world which was neither Nerath nor the Forgotten Realms, they stumbled about, helping people where they could and searching for any word of Tenebrus.

Today all that will change when Dirwin and Co find themselves in Planescape!

Day One

You think you know everything. You don’t. Five years of fruitless searching ended today in a new destination, a fresh road to travel, and all because of some old lady’s garden.

We were in a pub when her manservant sought us out. His name was Merent, and his mistress had heard tell of Marja, Word and I. She wanted help, so we went along to meet her. Her manor house was small, as many rural seats are. Lady Kindernes was gardening when we arrived. Over tea she explained to us her problem. Every night a red rose went missing, and a green rose was left behind. Green roses. Sounded like a clue for a druid if ever there was one. Examining it, I couldn’t figure out where it came from.

We spent the night out in the garden by the roses and it took less than an hours meditation for me to feel what was odd about the place. There was a great big window of the house facing the garden, and that window somehow led to another world. Or at least, that’s what my instincts were telling me, but the window didn’t yield to touch. But Word could smell it too. Something weird.

As we were investigating, five people emerged from the window. I say people, but these were like people I had never seen before. One covered in spikes and dripping… something. One that was strangely androgynous and non-descript, and smelled very strangely to Word’s senstive nose. One rat person. A small, very small person. And a snake person.

“Pike this, the coney’s got bashers!” said one.

“Hello?” I attempted.

They charged at us. The fight between us soon turned into a struggle for them to escape from our unexpected onslaught of pixie magic, Marja’s vines, Word’s jaws and my own (in crocodile form, naturally). That androgynous person – a mimic! It was the only casualty of our melee. Three others got away through the portal, stealing a red rose before they went through. We were left with the spiky man our captive.

“You burks! The music will maze you!”

This, and other strange lingo, erupted from his mouth. But after some time we managed to calm him down and speak to him about what was happening. Why was he stealing roses and leaving green ones? Where was he from? He kept calling us ‘clueless’. He said he was Zafnar, a cutter from the Collectors. A Knight of the Post. From some place called the Cage, or Sigil. After many hours of trying to figure out his strange speech, we finally managed to piece together the clues. He was from a place with many gates, and to get through the gates one needed a key. For this particular gate one needed a freshly plucked rose. It was only a temporary gate. What was the purposing of the visit? Turns out they were casing the old bird’s joint. I told him I wasn’t having any of that, and he could tell his Collector friends that Dirwin wouldn’t allow it. With that, I let him go back through the portal.

Day Two

The next day I told the old lady what had transpired and she had Merent set to boarding the gate up. She gave us a small metal ball with some kind of evocation magic within (it floats? I haven’t figured it out yet) and as an additional favour we asked that she let us go through the gate before it was boarded up.

On the other side we found ourselves in an alley, very grey and rainy, with a strange vine growing everywhere. Looking up at the sky, all we could see was more buildings…

Heading out of the alley we found ourselves in a bustling marketplace. There was a genie selling fresh dreams, ogres bearing palanquins, animal-headed men, imps carrying advertising. After nearly enraging a pit fiend who was handing out pamphlets of “non-belief”, we were saved by a sheep-horse-man called Stronghoof.

I was starting to pick up on the lingo pretty strongly by now but he was able to educate me more. He is a tout, or a guide for the people new to Sigil. A cutter is a word for a person. He explained this and many other terms. He said that the whole place was alive with gates to everywhere, and these were there only by the sufferance of the Lady of Pain. Soon after he said this, she came sweeping through the street and he made us all hide. Apparently to stand in her shadow will flay your skin off? Not something I’d like to try. I asked if Stronghoof knew anything of Tenebrus, but he didn’t. But he told us that jink – money – wasn’t the real currency here. Knowledge and secrets is what the real jink is.

More importantly he showed us to a place where a guy wanted a job done in exchange for lodgings. Readily we agreed. We went to an old clerk’s building with the name Jysson on a sigh outside. Inside was a cat and a talking book. The cat was apparently Jysson, on a mission back from the Beastlands, his afterlife of choice. He had failed to return the talking book to its maker, Heiron Life-giver, before he died, so he wanted to ask us to do that for him. Easy enough, we thought. Ha…

Heiron’s shop was in Automata, a “gate city” – a kind of middle ground between Sigil and the outer heaven of Mechanus. To get there we needed to go through a door in the clerks’ ward holding a piece of paper torn perfectly in half, each side bearing the letter E. On our way there we stumbled into an argument between Athars and Believers about whether gods existed and whether everyone could become a god. I’m afraid I tried to appease both sides and so ended up having to run away.

But we got to Automata unscathed. Definitely unscathed compared to what happened next.

First we were accosted by guards who told us to go and get our permits for being here. We wanted to just go to Heiron’s shop, but I thought we had better try to follow the law at least.

Six hours and countless forms later, we were on the way to Heiron’s shop. Looking up in the distance we could see a great circlet shape in the sky above an impossibly high spire. Jysson told us that was Sigil, in the middle of the outer planes.

As we walked, we were met by many guards who checked all of our permits and always found some error in them, but they simply warned us and let us continue. But then when we reached the shop, it was a dried meat shop, not Heiron’s store at all! So we bought some meat and at the shopkeeper’s direction went to the inn called the Divine Machine to find out about Heiron.

It was there that the second major trauma of the day happened. We met Toorlak, the halfling bartender, who asked us for our BMIs. He analysed our weight and heights and alcohol tolerance and began to calculate our dietary needs. How, I said, could a beautiful free halfling soul be trapped in a plane of pure law? He looked like he was going to cry. I told him he could leave with us. He panicked and said what about the paperwork? I managed to convince him that I could polymorph him into something small and sneak him out.

Asking around the bar, we had no clues given to us about Heiron’s whereabouts, but then Word and Jysson noticed a tiefling woman sneaking out. Jysson followed and I rode on him in the form of a flea. The woman knew where Heiron was and only revealed that to Jysson once he assured her he just wanted to return his property. She was worried that Heiron was in trouble with the wrong crowd. But at her suggestion, we waited until night so we didn’t have to fill in any more permits.

As we went to the gate to sneak the polymorphed Toorlak through, we sensed we were being followed, but could find no one. We send the halfling through without being caught.

At night we managed to sneak without much effort, timing it right behind the utterly predictable guards. We found the paperwork closet where Heiron was supposed to be hiding, but there was no-one there, and no door. So we did the five knock ritual we had been taught, and he revealed himself – out of a magically created pocket in the wall. He was not keen to see us, and when we returned his book and asked if we could help with his troubles, he disappeared again.

But just as we were about to leave, the people who had been following us showed up! Their leader cast a dispelling spell and Heiron’s pocket in the wall exploded out into the room, and then the walls exploded straight out and we were all on the street – nine thugs and us! A mad scramble started where the thugs chased after Heiron and we chased after them to save him. In order to prevent us being apprehended I summoned nearly four hundred ravens to my aid, thinking (rightly in the end, it turns out) that any guards who showed up would try and apprehend each individual raven. When the guards came, they all chased ineffectually as they waited for individual scouts to return for the permits to arrest ravens!

In the midst of this third trauma of the day, we made it to the central square where stood the mighty gate to Mechanus. It was there that three githyanki assassins landed on top of me and declared themselves for the Collectors.

As if that weren’t confusing enough, the gates of Mechanus opened, and wave upon wave of small geometric beings marched out and up the central boulevard. In the confusion we were able to dispatch two assassins and the third fled. But we lost Heiron and the three thugs pursuing him. I hope he got out alright. Also, at some point my concentration was disrupted, so the ravens vanished. Automaton guards freaked out, screaming, resigning, and having existential crises left right and centre.

We got back to Sigil and Jysson explained to us that the geometric things were Modrons, and every 280 years or so they went on their Great March across the planes. But the timing was wrong. It had only last happened a century ago. What was happening? Also as we travelled through the city, we heard rumours cried out that Automata had shifted in the planes, closer to chaos, because someone had exploded a building there and summoned four hundred ravens out of thin air.

Oh dear.

On the nice side, Jysson rewarded us with his building, run-down as it is, and his secret stash of money, before going off back to the Beastlands.

So… we’re in the nexus of worlds. What better place to start looking for Tenebrus in earnest?

The Diary of Genora Amcathra: Storm King’s Thunder Part 24, Final Fight

Day 359) Greengrass, 1491 DR

It has been a busy time, full of celebrations and consolidation of power, so I haven’t had a moment to sit down and write about the end of our adventure. It is hard to believe that it’s been a year since I told Ninya and Aukanthi we were going to Nightstone. But let me try my best to finish the story of the biggest year of my life – two lives – so far.

After Kayalithica came to join us we had to spend some time in scrying and investigating to find Iymrith’s lair. Ultimately what led us to her were rumours about an ancient blue dragon known as the Doom of the Desert who kept a garden of living statues. Following the clues, we were able to ascertain that she was indeed that dragon, and her lair was at the northern end of the Anauroch Desert.

We set out, Zephyros taking the main party by whale to his castle which was hovering over the Whalebones. From there we flew via rocs and the castle all the way to the Anauroch desert. When we arrived to the point where the rocs would take us no further, we could see the great ruined amphitheatre that was her lair. We navigated through a barrier of dust devils carefully, and then once we reached clear ground we could see that an army of living gargoyles was awaiting us before the lair. So we charged.

Trebutchets troubled us until we were within range for me to shoot them to pieces with lightning. Moving in closer, we hit the gargoyles head on, and tried to make quick work of their stone golem leader. Ninya and Harriana took the major brunt of the force head on, as they beat everyone else there. Harshnag, Moog and Kayalithica were able to catch up soon and aid them. Zephyros summoned steam mephits to distract the gargoyles, which exploded in clouds of scalding steam when they expired. Ragmar and Aukanthi struggled to catch up, while Halani and myself approached slower, shooting lightning bolts as we approached.

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As soon as we were able to take down the stone golem, Iymrith’s pet emerged from the ground. It was a purple worm of immense size, so large that despite how far back Aukanthi and Ragmar were, they were able to fight it. Kayalithica was stabbed near-fatally by the tail of the purple worm, and seeing the danger this put us in, we all panicked and laid down our most brutal attacks and spells to destroy the worm. It went down without being able to attack us again.

Her pet dead, her gargoyles diminishing, Iymrith finally emerged. As she approached we tried to wipe out as many gargoyles as we could before she reached us. With so many people near unconscious, Harriana dropped down a spell called Aura of Life, which meant that no matter how many times they fell, they just got up again.

And so it was that with this power, and with the power of our alliance, we charged forward, ignoring as much as we could the fear in our hearts. We wore her down bit by bit, some hits landing, some not, but always getting up again. Her lair itself seemed against us, as lightning arced from the ground, and Harshnag and Zephyros both got swallowed by the ground one time each. We tried out hardest to protect Harriana from going down, but eventually Iymrith managed to knock her off of her concentration on the spell. But it was too late for Iymrith. More than half our party down, those of us still standing concentrated all fire, and then… it was done. She was down.

We raced to aid our fallen allies, and all were revived successfully. It was unbelievable how lucky we’d been. After a rest in the safety of our Instant Fortress, we investigated the ruins and found the hoard of Iymrith, with many treasures. The guards with any intelligence had fled in the interrim, so we only had the slowest of the monsters left to slay. Interesting items we found included winged boots, a staff of the Adder, a ring of mind shielding, a trident of fish command (Ninya took this), a ring of animal influence, a stone of earth elementals (I have given this to Kayalithica, and a fully functional apparatus of Kwalish.

And well, after that we went home, all of us to our various places and journeys. I understand Halani and Harriana have gone plane travelling, though they were secretive about it. I hope they’ll be okay. Aukanthi has gone to live for the time being at Citadel Felbarr to learn dwarven ways. Kayalithica has gone to relocate her people to a place not tainted by the pretend god presence. Ragmar remains court champion, but he is usually away seeking perfection in mind and body. Same with Zephyros, who remains court wizard but travels around freely. Harshnag continues to be my ambassador, which means we will only see each other occassionally, but I trust him greatly. Moog has gone back to her people, and I think her name will ring down the ages amongst the hill giants.

I don’t know where Umbero went. I don’t think I want to ask. Maybe I’ll find out where he went one day. Everyone but Ninya thinks I should just let him go. But I want him to know that it’s okay. I’m okay. I think he’s a good person who made bad choices when he was young. It’s easy to do. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to say this to him.

As for Ninya, she was miserable after Iymrith’s death. I couldn’t work it out. But then she told me she was going to miss me, and I realised what it was. She thought she was going to lose me forever. She had no idea how wrong she was! Nowadays I visit Ninya everyday in Waterdeep as Genora. Giant life moves so slowly that I am able to get more done in a few hours than giants can accomplish in a day or more, so I don’t see there being any problem with my double life. When I’m with Ninya, we have fun together. Shopping, parties, catching up with friends. She’s closer to me than my sisters after all. I can’t ask her to live in the Maelstrom, but I can use my spare time and my magic to still be a part of her life. I hear it only takes a year of casting Teleportation Circle consecutively every day to make it permanent, so in a year’s time I’ll be able to teleport directly into the Amcathra mansion. Until then, I’ll just keep taking the long way every day.

That’s what friends do.

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And so we’ve reached the end of the Storm King’s Thunder campaign! Stay tuned for our next one. In the meantime there will be twitch streams and reviews coming up.