Amas & Oras

Trudging

We camp for the night and wait for Strelok, who rejoins us within a few hours. Hayden takes out the disk and shows it to Hornswaggle. He doesn’t know what it is, but says it is druidic.

Hornswaggle leads us off, knowing the area best. He does not wait, but just expects us to keep up. He seems to intuitively know how to avoid areas of acid. Around 5pm, he marks the map to show us where we are, and says we must camp for the night. Sheila offers Hornswaggle some food, and he thanks her grumpily; he has no supplies. As night falls, he calls Zephyr over for a lesson (bomb related stuff).

The morning is cold and frosty. Hornswaggle rises at the same time Sheila does. About an hour after we set off, he sidles up to Sheila to inquire about rations.

Hornswaggle also knows when to start tossing pebbles, and as soon as he finds a teleportation field, he races in. Zephyr follows without hesitation. The area is sort of black yet bright at the same time. When we get through, he acknowledges us, and quickly heads off again. We are heading north-east. Suddenly, one of Sheila’s feet sicks a bit into the soil and gets stuck. She sees gray fingers wrapped around her boot. She detects evil, and attempts to smite the creature. Her smite hits. Strelok attempts to tug her free. Hornswaggle says it is a Cerebral Stalker, and says to get Sheila free quickly. The stalker shoots out a sticky mucous to get a better hold on Sheila, and keep her in place. The substance is web-like. Hayden and Zephyr attempt to unearth the creature using Mage Hand, but aren’t able to move much earth away. Sheila’s attempts to break out of the grapple, but is unsuccessful. Zephyr tries a bomb (after checking with Sheila); she misses, but the splash damage burns away the goo. Hayden “backstabs” the creature. The creature “webs” again, Strelok immediately cuts it away, and Sheila uses Divine Bomb. Strelok attacks, and the stalker retreats. Hornswaggle gives us kudos, and heads off again.

TIMELINE: It is late afternoon/early evening of our 9th day since leaving the base camp.

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Beetles and Fungus and Halflings

It is afternoon, and the freezing rain continues. It is very dark from the clouds. We want to avoid the teleportation field, so we go into another fireball field. Hayden complains non-stop, resulting in Zephyr casting Forced Quiet after about an hour. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long.

We camp for the night within the fireball area, although they are not dense. Hayden, Strelok, and Zephyr take turns on watch. The night is damp, miserable, but uneventful. By morning, the rain has faded to a drizzle. The teleportation field has moved away in the night. As we travel, Zephyr continues to throw pebbles. The rain eventually stops, although the clouds still block most of the sunlight. We happen upon another telportation field, but it seems stationary, and we are able to skirt it. ~3-4 pm, Strelok notices a strange depression in the ground that seems to be a frequently followed path (ala a deer trail). The trail goes over a petrified log that is clearly ancient, and partially buried in the ground. On one side of the log is a barely raised mound of dirt, while on the other is a depression in the dirt. It doesn’t seem an indicator of one-way travel, although it may show the direction most recently traveled.

After further study, Strelok recalls stories of creatures in the ground that would leap out and suck travelers in with them; it looks like something came out of the ground where the mound is, and reentered where the depression is. We decide not to take the path.

The rest of the day is uneventful, but our pace is slow due to the mucky ground. We set up camp and cook the reptilian creature’s legs for dinner. It is a surprisingly relaxing night.

Midmorning, we come upon a hilly region (small, low hills; more like mounds). Distance perception is skewed in this terrain, and things between hills might not be seeable even standing on one of the hills. We see berries, which Zephyr identifies as edible (and in tea or slurry form can give resistance to cold). Zephyr and Strelok harvest some for later use or selling, while Hayden uses them for immediate food. A few hours later, Strelok notices more divots in the dirt, like the depression beside the log we saw before. There are also dark stains in the dirt near them, which may be old blood. Zephyr uses Blood Biography.

Name: Dothan something or other
What: Male human explorer/hired body guard
How blood was shed: something grabbed him, then everything hurt
When: ~3.5 weeks ago (fits timeline of Hornswaggle’s journey)

Meanwhile, Strelok has been digging in the dirt. He finds surprising well-preserved remains. The crown of the skull and the brain had been removed. When he digs around the face, the body twitches. Strelok backs up. The head lolls around and it opens an eye. Sheila’s detect evil spell reveals that it is, in fact, evil. Luckily, the creature stuck fast in the earth. There are a few more mounds in the area. Strelok recalls that the creature he’d been thinking of is said to consume the brain and leave the corpse as an undead being.

Zephyr suggests we dig up the other bodies in case Hornswaggle is among them. We can rule out two, as there are body parts sticking out that do not belong to Hornswaggle. One mound has an entire torso sticking out; the man had apparently stabbed himself as he was being pulled into the earth. His brain is intact. We find another divot and two mounds; we recall that Hornswaggle’s team was seven people. We dig up the divot and find a human female; Strelok loots an amulet off her. From the torso half out of the ground, Zephyr takes a magical circlet. The torso also has an ornate dagger with the monogram ‘MH’. We wait until we stop for the night to determine the magical aspects of the gear. Meanwhile, Sheila destroys the undead creature.

Strelok and Hayden notice an area close to the first divot where there seems to be a trail; it looks as though a lot of the berry shrubs have been ripped up or pushed aside as something was dragged over the ground. We follow the trail, and see several places in the dirt that have been gouged into, as if there may have been a struggle. The maker of the gouges seemed to be small creature, but not necessarily bipedal. If it WAS bipedal, it was being dragged. We continue to follow the trail ~ 2 hrs. The trail comes to a stop, and there is a large blood stain. Not able to use Blood Biography a second time that day, Zephyr takes some of the blood-stained earth in a pouch. Strelok discovers a deer trail about 100 yards further on. Using his tracking skills, Strelok thinks something travelling on this path left it to investigate the blood-stained area. There is no sign of where the creature who left the blood went, but it may have travelled to the deer trail (tracks obscured by the investigating creature); or, it may have been carried off by the investigating creature. We decide to follow the deer trail. Look at the tracks found on it, Strelok suspects they may be a large species of beetle that is said to live in the Veil. He looks for signs of beetle nests; from the top of the tallest nearby hill, he sees something off in the horizon, but cannot make it out. We head toward it.

We make camp for the night slightly off the path. We investigate the loot from the past two days: the silver ring is a ring of featherfall, the gold is a ring of sustenance, the amulet grants +3 to heal checks, and the circlet was of nat armor +2. We also have a quality gambeson and breastplate.

On top of a hill, those who keep watch see winds and walls of flame to the east. To the north we see lightning strikes. The night is otherwise quiet. In the morning, Blood Biography reveals that the blood belonged to Hornswaggle. Something slashed at him, but a companion pulled him free from the ground. His arm was broken (compound). His leg was also injured. This was 3.5 weeks ago.

We follow the path, which takes us between the largest hazards; we pass safely by a wall of corrosive fog and an area of lightning storms. In early afternoon, we come around a bend and see smoke stacks on the horizon… beetle nests. At 4pm, we are about a quarter mile away from them. Strelok offers to scout ahead, but we decide not to split up. However, we decide to wait until morning, so we make camp. Less than halfway through the first watch (Zephyr’s), ~8 huge beetles emerge from the earth behind one of the hills. They head west, away from us; the seem to be following the same path we had been. Throughout the night, steam billows from the stacks.

We go to where the beetles emerged and find a deep cavern. We enter, Stelok and Zephyr using light cantrips, and follow a tunnel downward. The temperature and humidity rise rapidly as we descend. A mile in, we see a faint blue light ahead. The tunnel opens into a vast cavern filled with bioluminescent fungus, in a stunning variety of types and colors. Not many are classified; Zephyr takes samples. Hayden pokes one, and it puffs into his face. It looks almost like some of the fungi are landscaped. There seem to be three chambers; the largest has tiny glowing spores floating in the air, which seem to come from dandelion-like fungi. Looking up, we see sky; we are directly below one of the steam vents. It is very far off. At the end of this third cavern, the tunnel narrows significantly. There is another steep descent, although a short one. We come across a place where tunnels offshoot in multiple directions. There is a shiny purple chitin covering everything in these lower caverns. We take a tunnel that looks to have the fewest offshoots. We see a few rooms connected, and a curving offshoot. In one room are many different enclaves, filled with barks and dried berries (food stores). There is no meat. Strelok suggests that the beetles are somewhat intelligent. Around this time, we notice that Hayden’s eyes have started to glow faintly; we assume this is from the fungi spores that were puffed at him.

Further exploration reveal other storage areas, at least one of which contains what seem to be tools for grinding and possibly gardening. We hear a faint noise down a hallway; we inspect, and find a faint glow coming from a room. Inside are fungi-lanterns, eggs, and some larvae. Although no adults are around, we leave quickly to avoid any misunderstandings. We find bedding-type materials in the next area we investigate. We have finished this tunnel, and go back to the crossroad-like intersection. We take a tunnel on the left this time. The walls that seem slightly different, as if the chitin was added on as an afterthought. In one room we find Hornswaggle, suspended from the wall, bound up on his left (injured side). Zephyr reaches to him, waking him up, He is still badly injured. Zephyr suspects that the bindings are bandages, but he is coughing, so she offers him water. We hear a scuttling above. Zephyr chats with Hornswaggle as Sheila heals him. He tells us not to attack the beetles, and says they speak common. Two beetles arrive; they have faces in a human-like structure.

They say they were expecting us, and ask us politely to leave, as “our kind” have generally served as bad omens. They direct us out, and we take down Hornswaggle. Talking to Hornswaggle, he was sent to get materials for a non-magical shrapnel grenade. The lightning fields create “razor-sharp sand”. As we cut him down, he says that there is a glow that has been unbearble; looking over, it seems as though there was a wall of chitin put up to close off a room, and a glow is coming from it. Strelok asks one of the beetles; “the other one stayed there”. A humanoid came seeking a great beast; he was also injured, and also healed by the beetles, but then refused to leave. He stayed “for quite some time, training”. He left and slew the beast (a great serpentine beast, frosted and fanged), then returned. dragging the creature’s head. After healing again, he vanished. He left some things in the room. Strelok removed his mask and asked if there was any resemblance. The beetles couldn’t tell, but said the man’s name was Alexander… the name of Strelok’s brother. Strelok asks to see the room. In it he finds a twisted horn and a book. The book is a journal. The last entry reads: “The linnorm is dead. I am free now.” The horn appears to have come from the slain linnorm. It is about 3 ft long and kinked in places. The head of a hawk, Strelok’s family crest, was carved into its base. Alexander had left 2-3 seasons before.

We cut down Hornswaggle, who is grumpy as always. Strelok takes the book and horn, and leaves the keys of his other family members in their place. He wants to stay and talk to the beetles; the rest of the party will wait for him a mile off until morning; if Strelok hasn’t rejoined us by then, we will depart and hope he catches up with us. Zephyr and Hornswaggle chat extensively about his recent research.

Strelok with the beetles: he is taken to talk with the elder beetle, who was fond of Alexander. The elder has no idea where Alexander may have gone after he left. He had been surprised that Alexander had survived after facing the Linnorm. Alexander needed nearly a season to heal. One day, the beetles returned from hunting and found Alexander gone. Alexander had never spoken of what would happen after defeating the Linnorm, except to say that he would figure it out when the time came.

Zephyr gets an alchemical bomb discovery.

TIMELINE: It is evening of our 7th day since leaving the base camp.

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Session of November 8th, During Which Becky is Drunk

Zephyr summons three dire rats for the mimic. The mimic’s name is Squelch.

Hayden requests that Sheila touch the silver object; it has the same reaction, showing that it was not an alignment-based occurrence.

It is the beginning of our fourth day; it has been 15 days since we left on this assignment.

The ground is frosty. It’s flippin cold. Midmorning, we hear a crackling sound that seems vaguely like the clicks we heard the night before. The noises seem to be coming from different directions. Zephyr guesses that the sound is a form of communication, as it has a distinct call-response pattern. Strelok recalls his father talking about eyeless reptilian creatures that hunted in packs. Strelok was told that people should cover their ears when dealing with them. We ask the mimic, who confirms that they are the “lizard things.” They are “really loud” and have large mouths with equally large teeth.. The mimic fears they would eat him. Hayden realizes that the response noises are identical and sound as if they are from the same voice, despite coming from numerous locations. They don’t seem to be getting closer, and they have become less frequent since we stopped moving.

We resume moving, and hear the clicks again almost immediately. Hayden tries to imitate the response sound with Ghost Sound, having it sound behind us, and suddenly all the clicks stop. Hayden gestures to Strelok to indicate he is going in the direction the call sound had been coming from; Strelok goes with him. They come across a rock that is warm to the touch; Strelok can tell something was crouching here several minutes before (around the time Hayden used Ghost Sound). They return and the party moves on.

The sky grows darker as we travel, storm clouds forming above us. The wind picks up, blowing Zephyr’s teleportation-field-seeking pebbles off track. A freezing rain soon begins to fall. Zephyr switches to larger rocks. Soon after, she finds a teleportation field approx 30ft ahead; it is moving towards the party. We backtrack, but the field is gaining on us. We try going to the side to get around. This takes us into a field of glowing fireball creatures, which we use in lieu of pebbles (those of us with mage hand). We travel along the edge of the field, which seems to by passing us by. Around 45 minutes later, we hear the clicking noises behind us (in the fireball area with us). We see two hunkered shapes in the distance; our view is somewhat obscured by rain. They are approaching. They do not respond to Hayden’s wave or clicking noises. Sheila suggests we shift some of the fireball creatures between us (subtly, not in a threatening manner), and the rest of us agree. The two creatures split apart as they approach, one veering off as the other continues the original course. The teleportation field, meanwhile, is changing shape so that our current location is at risk unless we resume movement forward; we try going towards the lizard creatures. Hayden tries to communicate with one of the creatures; it makes a sound that almost resembles laughter. Meanwhile, our mimic has assumed the appearance of a rock, and we are moving forward alone.

Description: no eyes, oversized mouth, color of dried blood, bipedal, lizard-like but warm-blooded, very large ears.

Strelok tries to communicate in common, draconic, and terran; another laugh-like sound. One gnashes its teeth as they approach. We notice that the mimic has been swallowed by the field; Pallas communicates with Zephyr, and advises we act like the mimic by going into the field… also suggests that the mimic’s earlier escape from these creatures by not moving → don’t move, can’t see you. I relay the message. Hayden tries staying perfectly still and silent; the others discuss following the mimic into the field. Hayden also tries to use Ghost Sound again, but the creatures are not fooled. Their clicking sounds now sound more like shrieks, and they are very close. Zephyr urges the party to go into the field; Strelok dithers. Zephyr convinces Sheila to come into the field while Strelok plugs his ears with wax, and the creatures break into a run (the nearest ~80 ft away). Strelok takes a shot as soon as one is within 75ft; Zephyr and Sheila are moving towards the field, weapons at the ready. Hayden is still maintaining his silent, motionless stance. Strelok’s shot hits, and the creature screams so loudly that the pebbles around us rattle. Sheila and Zephyr each take 10 damage (Hayden succeeded reflex save, Strelok’s ears are plugged). The creature continues to lope; ~60 ft away (the other is out of site, but sounds ~100ft away); Hayden attempts to use one of the fireball creatures to attack it, while Strelok fires again. And then Becky was drunk and thought, you know, actually, we don’t need every detail as it happens, but just the summary and anything important we learned from the encounter. Bullets hurt it. The fireball makes it stop and shriek again. We decided to take a stand (Pallas is no longer agitated, but rather resigned), but we are ready to go through if we need to. After some more bullets, creature runs off, but the other doesn’t; running full speed at us. More bullets and fireballs, us inching forward to avoid teleportation field. Sheila’s “know creature” → ears are sensitive, and necessary for finding us. Getting closer, more bullets, more fireballs, more squealing. We knock one out, the other flees, and Hayden grumbles because he didn’t get to shank anything. He spitefully stabs the dying one.

The dead one’s stomach is bulging; in it is a human leg bone and human left hand. There are two rings; one gold with emerald, one silver with blue stones (poss sapphire). Hayden takes the rings.

TIMELINE: It is afternoon of our 4th day since leaving the base camp.

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Things are Poked with Swords, and Zephyr is Apparently "Feisty"

Zephyr finds books and recordings on the Veil, and a map that is two years old but has no key. Hayden finds a charter book written by Hornswaggle, which says he was looking for a crystal along the northern edge of the veil. He has six men with him, two of which are field medics. All are armed and trained for the Veil. The departure was marked as ~48 days prior.

The veil is 200 miles across (a two week walk).

The walk from the base camp to the edge of the veil takes the better part of a day (we leave the horses stabled at the base camp with a large food supply). We enter the Veil and smell something burning. As we go along, Strelok and Zephyr toss rocks to look for various magic fields. Soon, a rock disappears. Hayden goes closer, throwing rocks. He is highly amused until he realizes the teleportation zone is advancing in our direction. We are able to skirt the teleportation field.

We notice that the rocks we are standing on have tiny holes in them. Zephyr and Strelok recognize this as a sign of subterraneous acid bubbling to the surface. We are able to skirt both this acidic area and the teleportation field. We camp at what we hope is a safe distance and assign watches. The field gets closer in the night, but remains at the end of our farthest throws.

Once we turn back towards our original direction, we see hundreds of drifting balls of light off in the distance. We hear and feel a rumble, and see a flash on the horizon. Zephyr is reminded of a will-o-wisp, but they aren’t quite the right color, they never wink out, and they move more randomly. Hayden approaches one and pokes it with his sword (despite protests from the other party members). It shrinks, then expands and explodes in a massive fireball that shakes the earth. Hayden is not injured, and learns nothing from the experience. We see one touch the ground a bit further off; it also explodes. We decide to go north-west in an attempt to avoid them. We again smell burning, although we see no holes. Soon, the area looks melted in places. As we discuss what to do, Strelok senses an increase in the smell. We run away as noxious, corrosive fumes start emerging from the ground at previously unnoticed vents. There is a narrow space between the lights and the vents, but we encounter another teleportation field. We go closer to the motes to get around this new teleportation field. Hayden, Strelok, and Zephyr use Mage Hand to move the motes to safe distances.

Night is falling. We decide to camp for the night, with three watches for the people who can cast Mage Hand. During the second shift (Zephyr’s), the motes begin drifting further North. Just before dawn (Strelok’s watch), Strelok gets another eerie feeling. This time he smells a charred burning (as opposed to a corrosive burning), and the wind gets warmer from the East. He wakes the rest of the party. As we walk along, it grows hotter. We begin to hear crackling noises. Strelok thinks it sounds like ice cracking. Looking back the way we came, it looks as though the air is sparking. We pick up the pace. We find ourselves in a tight squeeze between a teleportation field and a dense area of motes. We use mage hand to get the motes into the teleportation field (rather than towards other motes, which would explode). Behind us, the meager vegetation catches on fire. Strelok recalls stories of men being melted by extreme heat and fire.

Strelok sees the tracks of four cerebral stalkers. He also sees something shiny in the distance that appears to be some sort of metal. He suspects an ambush, but the metal might be something from the expedition team we are trying to find. Strelok and Hayden investigate, with Sheila and Zephyr not far ahead. They find a small, flat dish that may have served as a mirror (as it is highly polished on one side and very reflective). It has writing on it in an unrecognizable language. Strelok pokes it with his sword (what is with the men in this party?!). Nothing happens. He lifts it with the flat of his blade, then tries to pick it up. As soon as he touches it, it emits a bright, dazzingly light. Hayden, Sheila, and Strelok are able to turn in time, but Zephyr is blinded for six rounds and takes 3 damage. Once she can see again, she can tell that the writing is in an alphabet, although it is not one familiar to her. Strelok thrusts it into a pouch; it stops shining. Looking at the terrain, it seems that the dish was buried but had recently been uncovered by the wind.

It was early afternoon. We have a few uneventful hours. In the evening, we see motes of light, but ones that look different from the ones we’d previously encountered. A rock thrown in their midst causes them to wink out. The slowly light up again. Zephyr suspects they are Will-o-Wisps. As the winds shift to blow from the north, we hear sighing sounds.

We set up camp. Strelok takes first watch. Early in the night, he hears a whistle and click sound. Further in the distance, he hears a rattle-click sound. Later in the watch, he hears more whistles and clicks. The sounds seem to be moving away from us. The wisps have mostly gone by the second watch (Zephyr). The whistle clicks are far in the distance, and are only heard once. An hour or so into the third watch, Sheila thinks she sees something moving at the edges of the camp, but then all is still. She does a perimeter sweep. When passing the area where the movement was seen, the ground moves beneath her feet. She finds her feet stuck to the ground; she is able to yank one up at a time, and a creature follows her up out of the ground. The creature looks like earth covered by mucus. Sheila finds the same substance on her feet, reducing her movement. She yells for us to wake up.

Sheila cuts through it with her sword, but the mucus clings to it and the sword gets stuck. Zephyr and Strelok attack it, and suddenly it begins sputtering in Common. Strelok remembers that there have been reports of mimics in the area, and that mimics take on the appearance of the terrain when prey is scarce. We agree to a ceasefire, and Sheila retrieves her sword (and then heals the mimic). Zephyr asks if it has seen other humans; weeks ago, it says, and they tried to kill it too! Strelok proposes a trade of food and protection for guide. The mimic rejects trail rations, but we tell it we will try to catch some will-o-wisps for it.

TIMELINE: It is early morning of our 4th day since leaving the base camp.

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Across the Glass Sea

We spent the night at Strelok’s family cabin.

The next morning, we set off an hour or two after dawn. We travel between the Glass and Puddle seas, ~ three days. It is misty and cold. We arrive at the ferry, located next to a shack. The ferry is just big enough for the party and our horses. We don’t see anyone, and the cabin is locked… Hayden “fixes” the latter problem. There are several beds. Hayden searches the desk and finds a key. Looking at the calendar on the wall, it seems that no one will be here for two days. We decide to wait instead of stealing the boat as Hayden suggested. Hayden steals food and Cure Light Wounds potions. Hayden is a bad man.

The next two days are cold and uneventful aside from some nighttime snow flurries. Strelok hunts and forages. After two days, six large men arrive. They had apparently been expecting a search team for Hornswaggle. They prepare the ferry, and we set off. The journey is ~ three days (two nights). It continues to be miserably cold, and we encounter ice floes from time to time. During the winter, the sea freezes over.

We land at a base camp used by those traveling to and from the Veil. There are stables and four cabins, as well as a silo full of grain. Strelok advises that we leave our horses here while we are gone. The ferrymen tell us they will return in ten days, and will wait for us for three days. If we arrive after that, we can use the scrying stone in the shed to contact the nearest college town.

Zephyr knows that there are things found in the veil that are very useful in alchemical recipes, but does not know enough to guess what Hornswaggle was searching for.

Before we turn in for the night, Strelok tells us about some of the Veil’s inhabitants. Many are abberant creatures, there are teleportation fields (some random and/or changing), poisonous clouds, places with vampiric mists… teleportation fields are most dangerous. Also, creatures in area tend to have high ACs. No common weaknesses.

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New Mission

Strong tells Sheila that they’ve got an alchemist working on a weapon to fight the creatures, but he has disappeared in the veil while collecting materials. Strong is sending us on a retrieve/rescue mission.

Zephyr’s appointment: Irvald Hornswaggle, her mentor, is the one missing. 15 days late in returning from the Veil. Strong will compensate us and pay for supplies, but we’ll need to provide our own “Veil suits” (required to survive in veil atmosphere).

Journey from here to the Veil ~12 days: 2 days 5 days (retcon) by train to North of Vuresca, 10 days walking. Veil is cold, craggy, has no obvious border (just suddenly… odd). Creatures are somewhat aberrant. Lots of pointy teeth. Many varieties of toxic gases, fields of magic (like entering a touch attack), teleportation fields that change unpredictably.

Sheila consults with Hayden and Strelok about what would be appropriate compensation for the mission. She negotiates with Strong, and they settle on 6k per person. We are scheduled to leave on the train at 6 pm. A later appointment with Strong gets us 2k in advance (each).

After 5 days on train, looking to get Veil suits. Strelok has one, Hayden steals one, Sheila gets discounts for herself and Zephyr, and Zephyr pays for both as a loan.

We leave the town and head towards the Veil. Strelok leads us to his family home (a 2-story cabin in a meadow, boarded up). We stay overnight. We are close to the crystal sea which we must cross to reach the Veil.

Everyone levels!

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Strong and Charybdis

Ret-con: A lower level cleric (Polena) was the one sent to fetch Sheila.

We all board the one ship heading to Amas. Zephyr seeks out Sheila, wanting to know if she has news of Javid, and requesting to come along with her (for the purpose of finding out what has happened with Javid). Meanwhile, Hayden breaks into the grog.

Sheila asks for more info from Polena, but she apparently knows nothing. She was apparently sent by Chaplain Strong. All Sheila could find out was that the new clerics learned “channel positive energy” techniques early.

As we pass the Broken Isles, warm weather shift causes thunder storms and turbid seas. One morning, we hear yelling and stomping feet. The crew appear alarmed. Zephyr goes up on deck (Sheila is already there); sailors are readying weapons, seem to be preparing for something. There looks like a swirling whirlpool forming. Hayden and Strelok also come up on deck. Listening in, Zephyr hears that it is a charybdis. The species tries to suck things into whirlpools to eat them. But it is unusually that this particular one is starting its whirlpool off to the side instead of directly below us. Sailors are armed with hand cannons and harpoon guns. We see lots of fish jumping from the water. Strelok and Zephyr are aware that these fish are migrating at this type of year, and suspect that the charybdis is going for them.

We hear another commotion from behind; a large group of sailors is gathered toward the stern, pointing into the distance. We see the water begin to ripple and we see another large group of fish, and another swirl of water. This whirlpool is forming very close to us. Strelok cuts himself free and heads to crow’s nest. We hear a high-pitched whistle. The sailors run toward the rigging, mostly abandoning the weapons in order to work with the sails. Hayden grabs weapons and joins Strelok on the main mast. Luckily, the sailors get wind in the sails and we put distance between us and the new whirlpool…. but closer to the original. Another ripple appears towards ahead and to the starboard side. It forms quickly, and we see a huge fin of a Dire Shark caught in the eddy. As we pass this third pool, the ship slows, the stern pivoting towards the pool. We see the head of the charybdis in the center of the pool. The wind has died down. Zephyr casts lightning bolt, but the suction pauses only momentarily, and we are still caught in it. Strelok shoots and hits it, and we lurch forward a bit as the suction is again interrupted.

Polena comes up on deck and stumbles over to Sheila, who is strapped to the ship. When she reaches Sheila, she clings and screams and such. Sheila ties her to the ship. Polena confesses that she has some wizard training, but isn’t supposed to use her spells; she asks Sheila what she should do. Well, if you value you life… and you are serving Iomadae… Polena pulls out a book at casts a spell that shoves our boat beyond the whirlpool (hydraulic push). Zephyr bugs the sailors because she wants to learn more about charybdi; Sheila reassures Polena.

We sail through the Broken Isles and dock in Ilirra. Smells like fish and happiness.

Charybdis come this time of year to eat the migrating species. Territorial but put aside differences if enough food. A wealthy city, trade capital of Amas, hub of rail system.

Sheila’s Order’s headquarters is to the SSW. It is a six day journey. The Order’s headquarters is a small town that sprang up around a monastery; quaint, peaceful, with a wooden wall around it.

Polena and Sheila go to the monastery to see “the important people”. Polena directs Sheila to Chaplain Strong. He asks for details on what we found. Sheila relates our journey. Strong orders a paige to fetch the rest of the party, as well as “any that they have come into physical contact with”. Sheila asks about Javid; is told “Javid is not your concern. What happened to him was tragic, but medically informative”. All missionaries from Oras are being recalled, but if any can’t make it back within the next three weeks, “they will be stranded”. When pressed, Strong says there seems to be some sort of plague, or hex/curse, or something…. on ship to Amas, Javid showed signs of repetitious behavior. By the time he reached monastery, nearly comatose. Within 10 weeks, face split. They thought Javid had died. The new creature seemed desperately hungry for organ meat. Three nurses who tended him showed signs of “disease”. They put them into quarantine and thus stopped further spread. The bodies were examined, but little was determined (they killed the creatures, or did they die on their own?). When finished with the tale, Sheila is told not to talk about what is going on.

A paige fetches the rest of the party. We are escorted to a waiting room. We are lead to Chaplain Strong one at a time; Sheila passes Hayden on the stairs, tells him not to panic.

Mahogany desk. Mahogany.

When Strelok doesn’t take off his mask, he is put into a room without a handle on the inside of the door.

Zephyr’s interview with Strong yields some information: Swords are the only way found to kill the creatures. They absorb spells. Strong admits that he doesn’t know too much; all the details are known by higher-ranking officials. The order intends for a large magical tactic to take out the large populations of creatures in Oras… but the higher ups are not available to communicate with. A memo with a suggestion to join forces and intel will be sent to them.

Strelok agrees to take off mask, and is questioned. Strong tells him that the creatures “like spells”.

The four party members meet at the town’s only inn. While discussing the “interviews”, Sheila receives a summons for an hour after dawn the following morning; Zephyr receives a summons for two hours after dawn.

Intel Zephyr gave Strong: need to eat, unknown if they can starve. Need to breath, seem to be able to drown. Do not bleed when the split occurs. Go down when shot in the face, but we did not confirm that they didn’t get back up. Did not specify that the river seemed to keep them from crossing (may indicate running water is an issue, or just breathing + not smart enough to construct bridges, or did not pursue by choice in which case may have a food source remaining in the area OR do not NEED food as much as we would expect. Did not tell about the larger variation of creature, which seemed less disoriented (adult form?), and had new arms.

Veil is mainly uncharted, has many magic toxin clouds, twisted beasts, chaos, teleportation fields; not much is known about it.

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Beyond Drasuc

We arrive at Drasuc. We find an inn towards the north. Talking to travelers, Strelok finds out the way will be cold, rocky, and snowy.

Zephyr’s Research — Might find in mountains: Frost drake, frost worm, frost and rune giants, glacier toad, huldra, irlgaunt, ice linnorm, shantak, shobhad, thunderbird, ice and mountain trolls, yeti, great cave lions, lantern goat, others.

We stock up on supplies and leave on the second dawn. We have a wagon, drawn by two horses. Zephyr rides in the wagon making potions; two people can be in the driver’s bench, and Strelok has his own horse. (Note: Zephyr can make 1 potion of Cure Serious Wounds for one 3/4 of a day, costing 325gp. Made so far: 4, sold 3 to Strelok at 600 apiece). It is currently midspring; it took two or three months for us to reach Drasuc.

The road is barren, and seems too quiet. We are headed to a place called “Timber”… ironic, since the only wood at this point is scrub. We come across boarded up, abandoned towns. Zephyr notices that the air begins to smell metallic. Food is very scarce, and there seem to be no birds. After traveling for 2.5 weeks, we find a village with people. Only 1/4 of the population seems to be present; all are skinny, underfed perhaps? They seem not to notice us. They go about daily routines in an absent-minded manner. No one is saying anything. When Sheila tries to speak to a woman: the women looks up but seems to look past her, then goes back to sewing, although the hole she is mending has long since been fixed. Sheila does a “lay on hands” sort of healing thing; the woman squirms, jerks as if she is being electrocuted; her face splits open from bridge of her nose to tip of chin. Zephyr detects no magic. The “people” suddenly all look at Sheila, seem to focus for a moment… then go back to what they were doing. Zephyr examines the body; still warm, split is clean and perfect, as if with a laser. There was NO BLOOD when the face split! The woman looks like she was in perfect health, aside from being a bit too thin. Skin tone is slightly off; waxy. Hayden cuts one of her wrists; blood flow is slow, and viscous.

Sheila tries to get the attention of another one, with the same result (looks up but doesn’t focus, goes back to what he was doing). She dabs holy water onto the “man”; no effect. Shaking person also has no effect, except for some drooling. Going into houses in search of rations, we find some places with tables set for a meal but abandoned; some are several days old. Knowledge Arcana checks do not reveal anything; this does not fit the profile of any magical afflictions known. We take some food supplies and head out.

We travel four more days to reach Timber. Still no birds. The metallic scent in the air is getting heavier. Can’t really distinguish more than that. There is a sign on the main road that directs us up a side path towards Timber. As we head up this path (4mi), we can distinctly smell blood. Timber is drenched in blood. The largest body part found is a pinky.

Zephyr casts Blood biography: Sea of voices from many corpses. Mostly human; suspect most of town is dead. How = terrible violence; sense of “being eaten”.

No carrion birds. We hear something that seems like voices coming from the center of the town. Zephyr can hear moaning from many different voices, along with squelching sounds. A knowledge Arcana check to determine the attacker(s) gives Zephyr a sense of “humans”, although the spray of blood implies something more animalistic. We see some footprints in the blood; they look like they were shuffling.

As the stealthy ones, Strelok and Hayden creep towards the noise/center of city (Hayden gets a blur extract beforehand). They begin seeing larger people-chunks. All organs, however, are gone without a trace. They turn a corner and see what look to be humans. They are clustered together and seem intent on something in the middle. Strelok uses Mage Hand to break a window on the other side of the clearing. The things stand up slowly. Their faces are split in the same manner as the dead woman from the previous village; a worm-like thing protrudes from the hole. They have sharp teeth and long tongues. As they rise, Strelok and Hayden see what the creatures were intent on: the corpses of the rest of the villagers, which they are devouring.

Strelok sends a fireball into their midst, and he and Hayden run. Zephyr and Sheila hear the explosion and see the smoke. Hayden and Strelok appear and yell at us to get into the wagon. As we take off, we look back to see the creatures coming after us; they are singed and moving slowly. After the tale is related, Sheila hypothesizes that Brother Javid may be in the gestational phase like the people in the last village… in which case, the “parasite” is now on the other continent…

We travel back the way we came. A week in (about a mile from the first village), we start smelling pennies. Crap. As we get closer, we hear screaming. Sheila feels compelled to help.

In the village, we observe a creature stumbling; it focuses on a living human, then breaks into a sprint towards them. The humans being attacked seem anesthetized; although they scream in pain, they do not try to get away. The creatures here have face splits, but not worms yet. When they notice us, they begin moving (“meandering”) in our direction. Strelok suggests that we go now. Several of us see one creature that looks different from the rest: it seems as though it is developing a ridge; hands are split down the middle, a gooy finger-like tendrils are creeping out of the split; mouth is much larger than the others. Does not seem at all disoriented, like the others. We drag Sheila back to the cart. Zephyr thinks she hears the ones from the other village coming (they don’t need sleep, so could catch up with us). We get in the cart and take off. Strelok’s gun jams. We see a second large-mouthed creature joining the first in pursuit of us (faster than stumblers, but still slow). Strelok casts fireball; doesn’t seem to have much affect. Zephyr fires a lightning bolt. One lesser-mouthed one falls, charred, but then gets back up.

We realize that if the group from Timber followed us, the other group will as well. We decide to cross a river and take out the bridge; Hayden and Strelok observed that they do in fact breath. When we stop to rest, we occasionally catch glimpses of them. We see that more and more are getting the larger mouths and split hands; they are maturing. We don’t stop to take any more rests. At the end of our second full day of walking, one of our horses dies. When we reach the bridge, we estimate that they are four hours behind us; we rest for that time. Sheila waits for them on the bridge. The biggest ones now have entirely new limbs growing from their old arms. They have become hunched. The head split has increased, and the frontal skull has bulged outward. They come within 30 feet of Sheila on the bridge, and she unleashes Channel Energy, which is essentially what killed the “woman” we first encountered. The creatures do not respond negatively, but rather seem almost rejuvenated. Strelok uses Fire Ball and Zephyr throws a bomb as Sheila flees the bridge. The ones on the bridge fall into the water, seem to be drowning. We take off again, but take a rest, keeping a careful watch. We rest for an entire night, but see no creatures. We travel on, continuing to take out bridges behind us; we do not see them for the rest of the trip back to Drasuc. Sheila goes to her shack; a low-ranking cleric of her church is waiting for her, and seems relieved to see her. She says to pack up: she needs to report to the high council. Something has happened with Brother Javid. Strelok and Hayden plan to go back to Amas just to get out of Oras.

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Camping in the Swarsh

We camp for the night. Strelok takes first watch, then Zephyr, then Sheila. During Zephyr’s watch, she notices a lightning storm in the distance. The next morning the storm is still going. We set off Northward, about the direction the storm came from. Later on, several of us realizes there are pockets up ahead where the storm is more intense. Strelok feels like he’s being watched, but says nothing for the moment. Our path takes us into one of the pockets. We are attacked by a Shambler. As we are fighting it, another rises up out of the swarsh behind Hayden. We take out the original Shambler, and a third appears. We hightail it out of there. Strelok is able to figure out where they are likely to pop up, and we avoid additional Shamblers. We make it out of the storm shortly before nightfall. During his watch, Strelok finds the remnants of a campsite, probably from the night before. He finds the hilt of a broken dagger with an Olvandian mark on it. The next day we reach the border. We are each searched before we are let in. As we head North, we see ruins of homes and farms. 1 in 10 is inhabited. We travel the Main Road. From time to time we travel with others headed in the same direction. We reach Drasuc, a dim and grungy city that Hayden and Sheila had been to before. Described as “could almost be perfect”, but everything having a thin layer of “despair”; everything in slight disrepair. Everyone is “almost happy”. Has the best market in Oras.

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Onto the Next Adventure

We question Solas. Then we take him and the two surviving guards, plus the survivor from two sessions ago, back to Ardova. We collect the reward and arrange for Orion to be released. Zephyr heads to the library while Sheila heads back to her “mojo hut” to “see her peeps”. The Mother (Sutta) tells Sheila that they have lost contact with a member of the order who was near the Rift; she had also heard from her sister stories of horror. A brother in the order (Javid) apparently returned from the area a changed man (“different”). Sheila tracks down Zephyr and Strelok, who then track Hayden to the bar, where they are fawned over. 56 hr later, we set out. Later, we encounter a crocodile in the swamp. Hayden does a ridiculously flashy move and kills it, we take some parts, and move off to find a camp site.

Research about Rift area:
Faramil’s maw, one of most magically charged areas on the coast, harbor on the rift. Lots of anomalies. Where the separation was when magic returned to the world.

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