Thursday, May 21, 2015

Session 21 Synopsis

Previously, on Phoenix Rising...
The party started to run and shoot at the displacer beasts. Asphodel flew as fast as she could towards the one that had the elven woman, who they assumed must be Analastra. She pounced down on the beast which distracted it enough to leave the woman alone. The rest of the part kept advancing on the two beast with Zola getting in melee combat with the second one, while the other four assisted with ranged combat. They noticed that it was quite difficult to land a hit on the beasts and they weren't doing as much damage as they thought their blows should have. But the magic missile spells from Jobi and Zerak and Zerak's lightning bolt seemed to be landing true. At this time they heard more loud shrieks coming from the Bell tower and saw three of the largest stirges they had ever seen. They were the size of overgrown wild hogs. They must have been awakened by the scent of the displacer beasts' and Analastra's blood being spilled...

The battle proceeded with our heroes dishing out more damage than they were taking, even when the stirges flew in and began attacking. One landed on Kel who was able to kill it pretty quickly and another landed on Asphodel who proceeded to rip it apart into little pieces. The third stirge landed on the elven woman they were trying to save from the displacer beasts. This made several in the party turn their attentions away from the beasts and onto saving her from the giant stirge sucking out her blood. Kel bean running towards her and Zerak approached and successfully used the Skull card from the Deck and knocked the creature unconscious. Meanwhile Asphodel, Zola, Jobi, and Blackwell took care of dispatching the two displacer beasts. Then Asphodel, being the closest to the elven woman, rushed up and crushed the unconscious stirge to death. Kel then applied some of her healing skills to bandage and wake the woman. She was very grateful for their help in saving her and wanted to take them to her brother, Berrian. The group indicated that they were sent by him to find her so they all went back to the fountain clearing to meet up with Berrian and the other elves.

Before they left the bell tower clearing however, Zerak wanted to cast a spell and animate one of the displacer beast's skeletons. He stopped though, remembering that the beasts hides were very valuable in creating cloaks of displacement and mentioned it to the group since his animate spell would destroy the hides. Since no one was extremely skilled in skinning techniques, Asphodel decided that she would give it a try. To everyone's amazement, she almost expertly skinned both of the beasts. Unfortunately after this, Zerak failed in casting his spell - one of the downfalls of only having one arm.

Sir Berrian was also very grateful for them bringing her back in one piece. But he did still have a few more things for the party to do for them before he would agree to an alliance with Lord Padraig against the orcs:

The plants that thrive in this grove and the creatures attracted to it - they are not of this world. My ancestors had a hand in it, and this Lord Padraig will recognize our claim. We have searched the shrine here, but to no avail - the monks who tended the garden were more interested in the properties of the plants than those who set their seeds in the world. There would be an official record from my father of the help in establishing this forested grove and I want you to look for it. Most likely it will be kept in either a office where the monks or wizards keep important papers. I realize that this is a difficult search, since it really could be anywhere around here, either in a groundskeeper building, a library, the temple, or the wizard's tower. But we need to have official recognition of our claim to this grove in order for us to work together.

Our father's last message to us was that he was going to the Nentir Vale, the ancient name us Fey call the Northern area of this continent. For years we have attempted to learn his fate. Every clue has led us here, to Gardmore Abbey. We are close now, but we still have not discovered his whereabouts. This grove has the mark of the fey about it, so this is where we seek him. But thus far, our search has been fruitless.

From what you told me about what you found in the watchtower, with the strange magicks swirling together, I think that it would be a good place for Analestra to continue our search for our father. Please escort her back to the tower and allow her to thoroughly search the tower, for if there is a sign of our father there, she will find it.

The party was definitely reluctant to start looking for this "official document" since the search proved to be very arduous for something so small. But Sir Berrian added an incentive for doing it. He told them that he would give them the card he had that was similar to the ones they were collecting. They asked to see it and he produced the card - it had a Throne pictured on it. So they agreed to look around in the other structures that were in the forested areas for the document. Sir Berrian mentioned that a pair of owl bears had made their nest in one of the buildings and that they would prefer the party not to hurt them if possible, telling them that owl bears are only truly afraid of displacer beasts.

So our heroes escorted escorted Analestra to the watch tower and waited while she finished her exploration. She said that there was no trace of her father at this location and they went back to the fountain clearing. Then the party went to explore the groundskeeper's building.

When they got near to the building, they decided to have Blackwell turn into wolf form and then drape one of the displacer beast hides over him. He then walked up slowly to the building while trying to imitate displacer beast noises. Asphodel helped him out with this by casting ghost sound. When the two owl bears heard the sounds, they came out to investigate and when they got a look at Blackwell (and a sniff of the displacer beast hide, one immediately squawked in panic and fled. The other one started to turn away, but then decided a second look was in order. So Blackwell and Asphodel increased the volume and ferocity of the "growls." This did the trick as the second one squawked in an even more panicked tone and ran off. The poor thing was so frightened it nearly laid an egg right then and there.

Our heroes had successfully gained entry into the building without physically hurting the owlbears as the elves had asked them to do. When inside they searched the entire building, finding a couple hundred books on herbology, horticulture, etc. Several members helped themselves to some of the books and stashed them away into their packs. It wasn't until Asphodel cast detect magic that they found anything really interesting. A broken down desk radiated magic from one of its closed drawers. Asphodel grabbed for it and found a needle trap the hard way. Fortunately for her, she was quick and avoided getting any damage from the trap. Blackwell then disabled the trap and unlocked the drawer. Inside they found a very ornate scroll case that did not have any seams indicating where it opened from. This was the source of the magic and was radiating transmutation, abjuration, and evocation magicks. Blackwell couldn't detect any traps on it so Asphodel attempted to open it and found a glyph of warding was cast on it that blew up in an engulfing fiery blast. Surprisingly nothing of the groundskeeper building caught on fire and the rest of the party had moved quickly away before she tried open it. But the case was still sealed, showing no signs of damage nor of any kind of way to open it. And she stuck it in her pack.

Next, our stalwart band of heroes decided to go and check out a clearing they were told about that was used by other intelligent Fey creatures to congregate at times. Maybe they could find something out from them. But on their way there they came across a part of the forest that was inhabited by some giant black widow spiders and it was apparent that violence had very recently visited these spiders. They found four dead spiders, by the looks only a few minutes old. Seven other spiders were still alive and looking very agitated. Jobi tried to talk with them in a calm voice to soothe them, but they were just too riled up and charged in to attack the party.

The battle with the spiders proved to be a formidable fight because the giant spiders had very potent poisonous bites and were scoring quite a number hits on our heroes. Asphodel was attacking the spiders to great effect and was able to dispatch at least one nearly single-handedly (or in her case quad-handedly? something like that). Jobi and Zerak used spells like burning hands and magic missile to try to deal as much extra damage to the beasts as possible from at least a short distance away from their biting mouths. Zola and Kel both hit spiders critically and caused a lot of damage to several spiders. Meanwhile, Blackwell, Kel, Zerak, and Jobi were all bitten and felt the effects of the spiders' poison. But Jobi fared the worst from it. Her system wasn't able to fight off the poison as effectively as the others and in only a few rounds, she succumbed to the poison and fell. Zerak rushed to her aid and wrapped her in one of the bandages of rapid recovery to help stabilize her so she wouldn't die from the poison. He then healed her with his healing touch hex and she became conscious again. Blackwell, upon seeing Jobi go down decided to use the Card he had in his possession to teleport away from the spider that was chasing him. He did not want to be bitten again! He teleported and ran a number of times until his spider was the only one left and he was able to lure it next to Zola. And as he hid behind her, Zola finished off the spider.

This battle had damaged the party quite significantly and they decided to go back to the clearing, get some healing and some rest. Jobi was weak on her feet so Zola thought it would be a good idea to hoist her over her shoulder and carry Jobi back to the clearing. Well as soon as Jobi was flung up and over, she was sick to her stomach from all the poison and the sudden unnatural movements and position she found herself in. Despite this, everyone made it back to the clearing.

Sir Berrian offered each of them a pitcher of water from the fountain and told them to drink it completely and the rest for the night. When they awoke, they were completely healed and refreshed (although Zerak was still and arm short). Sir Berrian then spoke with the party about what had gone on during the night while they rested.

We scouted the area around the dead spiders and did find traces of another group of 5 humanoids that traversed the area. The tracks lead me to believe that they were not orcs, but beyond that I cannot tell you more other than they are no longer here in the grove and don't appear to have made waves in the orc settlement either.

What you found in the watchtower disturbs me and I've been thinking about it. Where such a distortion in the fabric of reality exists, it often has effects that reach much farther. It's likely, for example, that the influence of the Far Realm you observed in the tower extends into the Shadowfell and my own homeland as well. We must learn more. A tower stands in the heart of the village, once the home of a human wizard. I do not know the extent of this wizard's knowledge or power, but if there's anything that will help us understand what happened in the watchtower, that's the first place that needs checking. Go to the wizard's tower and look for information about this dimensional rift, or anything you can find about the Far Realm.

The party then showed him the scroll case they found in the groundskeeper's building. Sir Berrian exclaimed, "That's it! That is a case that my family has been using for many years." He took the case from Asphodel and held it in both hands while mumbling something. In a short time the case just popped open, revealing a parchment document. Sir Berian read it and said that this was the document he was looking for and will establish their claim on the grove here in Gardmore Abbey. he then turned to the party and asked them to take it right away to Lord Padraig and come back when he had made the claim official, stating the wizard's tower can wait a bit longer. The party asked about getting the card but Berrian said after they had returned. Grudingly, the party agreed for they felt like Berrian had altered their agreement by not giving them the card after they had found the document. So they gathered their things and proceeded to head back to Winterhaven to speak with Lord Padraig once more.

Shortly after leaving the fountain clearing but before they actually made it to the outer wall they ran into something strange. They heard soft music drifting from this part of the grove, the sounds combining happiness and melancholy. Beautiful and otherworldly voices accompany the melody, humming and singing incoherent words. Ahead, five gorgeous women dressed in gowns of autumn leaves sing sitting between the trees and brush. Everyone was very reluctant to approach these strange women fo rthe party thought that these must be other Fey creatures that Berrian had told them about, more specifically, they thought that they could be nymphs. So they stood there listening and watching them for a few minutes until Zerak decided that he wanted to meet them and get a better look at these unearthly beauties. He cautiously approached and said, "Hello."

One of the nymphs responded, "Welcome, mortals. Will you play our game?" Zerak asked what was the game and another one spoke and said, "You tell us a secret and we'll tell you a secret." Everyone looked at each other and decided, why not. The secrets were made vocal (note these are paraphrased and may not be completely correct since I didn't write them down as they were revealed by the party):

Blackwell: "I saw my dad killed in front of eyes and I don't know what happened to my mom"
Nymph: “Ghost has been tainted with Grey and Shadow. The path lies between the lesser of two evils.”
Zerak: "I've had nightmares my entire life."
Nymph: “Orpheus is a pretender and seeks domination of your home”
Zola: "I was thrown out of heaven by my parents."
Nymph: “Another powerful person is also collecting the funny cards. Don’t let him have them all.”
Asphodel: "I was imprisoned for 10 years without knowing why."
Nymph: “Deep in the temple’s bowels resides a terrible beast of fire”
Jobi: " My mother beat me just because of what I am, a tiefling."
Nymph: “The insane temple wizard has more of what you seek”
Kel: "I am running from an arranged marriage that my mother is trying to force upon me."
Nymph: "Kidnapping is imminent. Do not separate."
Blackwell: "My actual age is not what it appears to be."
Jobi: "I don't know who my father is."
Asphodel: "I don't know my father either but it was like my mother was always searching for him before we were captured."
Nymph: “Zandrian was last seen defending the wizard's tower and he is still there”

The party was a bit shocked at how some of these revealed "secrets" sounded so personal to some of them. But when they turned to see if they could get more information from these helpful nymphs, they found that they had disappeared without a trace. With nothing left to do here they made their way out of the grove and back onto the path to Winterhaven.

About a day into their return travel, in a particularly desolate area, the party caught a glimpse of several creatures. But they were too late to act for they had walked into a clever and well prepared ambush! They saw four werewolves stand up and throw what looked like stones into the midst of the group. But these made a horrendous noise and were in fact thuderstones! At the same time a web spell was cast upon the party! Then, right on cue, another spell erupted in their midst just after the web took hold. And it was....

To be Continued.

Next week's adventure will attempt to answer the question, how many werewolves does it take to screw in a light bulb? Till then, have a good night and don't let the hell hounds bite. I mean don't. Really. They're nasty and painful and hot, so very hot and stinky breath too, and ...'s adventure will attempt to answer the question, how many werewolves does it take to screw in a light bulb? Till then, have a good night and don't let the hell hounds bite. I mean don't. Really. They're nasty and painful and hot, so very hot and stinky breath too, and ...

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