The Heroes of Feather Falls

The Return of the King in Yellow (pt. 2)

Realizing that they had been manipulated into bringing something horrible into their reality, the heroes in their despair were quick to point fingers. Rax even suspected that Isis, or Ciara, had set the whole thing into motion intentionally, and that erasing her memory had been just part of her plan to dupe some hapless adventurers into fulfilling her goal. Lucky revealed to them that he had been contacted by an entity when they had visited Rigo that identified itself as one of the prisoners they had sought to free, and that they had in fact achieved what they had set out to do, for what little consolation that was.

They returned to the temple to find answers, but again the scholars ignored them, concentrating on their grim work. Horrible creatures were led from the cells that once were empty, and dissected in a huge, grotesque laboratory; some of the scholars were even attacked and eaten by the creatures while others merely looked on and took notes. The macabre savagery was more than they could comfortably wrap their brain around, so they backed out and decided to ask the entity for another meeting. Apparently he didn’t want to chat, because after attempting to contact him, Lucky screamed and collapsed, overwhelmed by the presumably negative response.

Bewildered, the party left the temple and headed for the building off to the side of the temple, where the Cerulean Sign reinforcements had come from. There they discovered that the remaining masked warriors had all been slaughtered by some sort of terrible otherworldly spider creatures, and decided not to follow in their footsteps. They roused Lawrence, who managed to get a grip on himself, and he confirmed that this scenario was exactly what the Cerulean Sign was trying to prevent. The very knowledge of such entities from the “Far Realm” as he called it, beckoned them, so he and his compatriots worked in secret to eliminate their taint from the multiverse, lest they push through and corrupt all of existence. Obviously their methods left much to be desired in this instance.

Dreading the trip back through the Slags of Sigil and the likelihood of another demon or devil attack the moment they stepped through the portal, the party pressed Lawrence for information on how he would leave the plane. He admitted to having the key to a portal that would take them to Arborea, but he would need to be freed to make it there ahead of the huge winged creature that was now circling overhead. The grudgingly obliged him, prepared themselves, and then opened the door to sprint to where he indicated the portal was.

They dashed across the red wastes as the vaguely draconic horror screamed after them. Unfortunately, some of the heroes were faster than others; Eviel and Isis couldn’t keep up with the others. The creature dived down to bite Isis with it’s massive maw, but she managed to keep running. Even though Lawrence had reached the portal and was holding it open for the rest of them, Raphaelusk knew someone wasn’t going to make it. Selflessly, he turned and ran back to face the dragon head-on.

He was quickly snatched up by the hungry beast.

But the rest of the party hadn’t abandoned their friends, either. Rax prepared to assault the monster with a volley of bolts, Clyde refused to go through the portal until all had made it, and Lucky tried with all his might to yank Raph out with his powerful Telekenesis magics. The dragon’s maw was too strong for the spell to work alone, but when Raph managed to pry its mouth open with the last of his strength, he was ripped free from the jaws and went flying into the portal.

The travelers turned to flee, but before they could escape, the dragon sprang forward and caught Lucky in its mouth. But he had one last trick up his sleeve, and managed to activate the Teleport spell that had been saved in the spell-storing ring that Daethin had given him so long ago. And once he was free, everyone was able to escape.

On the other side, however, they learned that they’d jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Though they were indeed in Arborea, dozens of Cerulean Sign warriors surrounded them with weapons drawn. Not ready for yet another fight, the party lowered their weapons and returned Lawrence’s items. He left them to consult with his superiors, and when he returned, he asked the party to assist the Sign in trying to fix the damage that had already been done.

Everyone agreed, eager to set things right, though Lucky was concerned about his contact with the entity putting their task in jeopardy. Lawrence had an idea, and took him to a shaman at the camp who was able to temporarily mask the wizard from the entity. Then they discussed Lawrence’s plan, to seek the aid of another far realm elder god that was relatively benign called Nodens. Rax was somewhat familiar with Nodens as a being that was revered by the night gaunts of the shadow plane. He was worshipped as a god of the hunt and of the darkness, but he was not an evil power. And he was apparently known for hunting down other far-realm creatures for the sport of it.

The party set out for Carceri, where the Cerulean Sign had long ago noted the location of a sacred place to the worship of Nodens. When they arrived at the mound that signaled the location, however, they had to battle through wicked ghereleth demons that tried to enslave them. After some searching, they managed to find a passageway into the mound, which took them to a chamber that contained a large, petrified heart.

Rax cut his hand and dripped some blood onto the heart, which began to glow and beat weakly. The voice of Nodens welcomed them, and they told elder god about their plight. Nodens offered to revive and send a fallen avatar to their aid to battle the Shoggoth and allow them to return to the temple to stop the cult from fully opening the gate for their master, but it would come at a price; a life for a life.

Grimly, the party looked at one another. Lawrence and the others of the Cerulean Sign that had come with him prepared to draw straws, and Eviel prepared to offer himself, as he had no fear of death. But Lucky stepped forward and said that he would be the one. The entity’s hold on him had only been temporarily blocked, and once his tie with the Winter King had been severed, he was beginning to age at an alarming rate. Though his past life had been one of selfishness (which he had now begun to remember), he could use what he had left to do some final good.

BluedragonHe said his goodbyes, and laid himself on the stone heart. Rax prepared him for the sacrifice, and carried it out with care, invoking the darkness and completing the ritual. His lifeless body sank into the stone, and the mound began to rumble. The party exited as out from the mound rose a massive blue and black alien creature. It levitated itself into the air and slowly drifted off to begin its work, and with it went Lucky’s final legacy and the hopes of the party.

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The Return of the King in Yellow (pt. 1)

The heroes stepped through the portal and into a vast grey waste that stretched before them. They quickly marked the location of the portal (invisible on this side) with one of Rax’s arcane marks on a half-buried skeleton, so as not to be lost, and set out towards the only feature they could make out in the dim horizon. A huge temple of carefully sculpted white stone stood before them, looking completely out of place in the middle of the wasteland.

As they approached the temple, however, almost a dozen Cerulean Sign warriors emerged from the sands around them and once more told them to stop. Clyde’s ax roaring to flame was all the response they needed to immediately attack, and the battle was joined. At first, it seemed as though the Sign’s numbers and dirty-fighting tactics would overpower the party, and many of the heroes were brought to their knees or even knocked unconscious. But through Eviel’s restorative magics, they were able to stagger back to their feet and keep fighting. Finally, even as the priest began to exhaust his healing, they brought down the last attacker.

Dragging themselves through the blood-soaked sands, the party pulled open the doors of the temple with more Cerulean Sign reinforcements hurrying after them. The great stone doors were shut just as the attackers threw themselves upon them, and there was a struggle to bar them before the entrance was breached. But the door held, and the heroes could finally take a moment to rest.

Even just the hall of the temple was massive, and the structure couldn’t be described as “ruined”. It was stark white and looked untouched by time. They followed the hall for a time, and checked a few large doors leading to various empty rooms, including one that looked like it may have one time housed a row of cells (and at some point, J wandered off). But echoing through the halls, they could hear a strange piping sound, alien music from some sort of flute. While they could discern no pattern to the unnerving melody, it did seem deliberate in its own way.

They discovered the source of the sound as they entered another large set of doors that opened up into a wide church. A pallid yellow carpet led the zig-zag way up to a raised stone dais, upon which sat a humanoid figure robed in silk. His face was hidden behind a silken mask, and his hands were similarly wrapped, but he was clearly the source of the piping of a thin flute that he continued to play without taking much apparent interest in the party until he was addressed.

When he spoke, his language was one of croaks, hisses, and guttural sounds, as well as some sort of sign language, but it seemed as though Lucky could understand his words. He indicated that he was trapped here just as the scholars were locked away in another dimension, but that the party carried a power source that could activate a machine to free them all. In a corner alcove of the church, they were directed to this machine.

After much deliberation, Raphaelusk finally placed the gem that they had recovered from the Driders into the waiting slot of the machine. It instantly roared to life in an almost sickening display of lights and pumps and steam, and the building began to rumble and shake. But this shaking was not that of the earth quaking beneath them, threatening to tear the walls asunder; it was almost as if the building had been lifted from the ground, fully intact, and then shaken violently by some titanic creature.

As the heroes reeled to find their footing, screams of the Cerulean Sign warriors echoed from the doors of the church. The party ran back out to see them instantly slaughtered by a gargantuan bubbling horror of a monster, a lightning-quick flying ooze made up of a hundred malevolent eyes and a thousand gnashing maws. They screamed “SHOGGOTH!” before being torn apart and swallowed up by the unspeakable monstrosity, which was gone out the door almost as soon as it had come. Only Lawrence remained, near death, his body crushed under the weight of the pews broken in the one-sided battle.

Trying to make sense of what had happened, the party looked to the robed figure, which was still playing. It indicated to them (interpreted by Lucky) that they had succeeded, and the scholars had been freed. Indeed, they saw more robed figures moving through the halls as they exited the church, but they were largely ignored by the aloof and ungrateful scholars, who seemed to be going about some predetermined business.

Confused, the party stepped outside of the now fully-furnished temple to see that the sky had turned an ominous shade of red, with black stars of unknown constellations and a moon hanging, dripping, over a misty lake. Impossibly, behind the moon they could see the spires of some distant, alien city that filled them with dread. They shook Lawrence awake and tried to get some information out of him, but he babbled something mad-sounding about a place called Carcosa, and passed out again.

But what was left of his journal told a bit more. A scrap of a page that appeared to be from Ciara’s journal revealed that she had become troubled by the work she was doing in pursuit of the Temple of Hidden Wisdom, and that she had destroyed her own notes, as well as some sort of play. And to spare herself and the rest of the multiverse the waking nightmare of it all, she had used the waters of the River Styx to erase her own memory. Lawrence’s journal entry confirmed that he had been tracking her to end her quest, but in finding her so completely mind-wiped, he took pity and brought her to an out-of-the-way prime world.

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The Heart of Darkness

From the Journal of Roathraxiel

Journal Entry: The Heart of Darkness

It has been three days since the prison-break. I am hungry and lost. I have allowed a group of primers to join me, but I have allowed myself to become swept up in their evil quest to bring the Outre realms to the inner planes. Terrestrials should never be trusted — especially those from the prime. Their arrogance is astonishing. The humans especially… there are things that they are not meant to know. They push, and now they found something that pushed back. They insist we travel by day. Their inferior eyes do not adjust well. It is too bright. I am tired. …so hungry. I have not caught a real meal in weeks.

I do not understand them. I do not trust them. They continuously act only in their own self interests, violently, threateningly, eager to take and take and take. But when I speak as they do, they impose higher morals and judgements as if they were the patrons of saints and the very guardians of light.

I am Roathraxiel, Nightbringer Lord of Clan Storm Demon, Harbingher of the Night Beyond Nights. I will not be toyed with thusly.

We are angry. We are hungry.

Tonight I ushered one of our party into the Long Night. His name was Glen MacElroy.

For reasons that I will attempt to explain once understood fully, we found ourselves at an altar dedicated to the Night God of my strange kin — the Nightgaunts. It quickly became apparent to me that my cohorts are city rats and know nothing of the traditions of hunters. I cut myself and made an offering of my own essence to Nodens. It was then that he addressed me. Unable to keep their teeth together, my cohorts spoke up one by one.

We were to offer a sacrifice to summon his avatar, a necessary evil required to strike at a darker force unleashed by the pink one’s actions. I would have been content to find one of the demons we had foolishly released only moments before, but I knew that impatience would overpower thought and this group would have acted before I returned.

It was at that time that Glen spoke up and offered himself. It was a noble mark I had never seen expressed by a human. Perhaps it was one last selfish attempt at redemption. Perhaps it was honest. That is not for me to judge. The others began to argue and cut straws as if they had intended to cast lots. The elf spoke up to offer himself, but I knew it would not be him. When Glen first spoke, I felt Nihlsihlhara stir on my back, coming to consciousness. She knew it would be Glen, and so did I.

“I will be gentle, and I will be quick,” I said, placing my hand on his shoulder. “Please disrobe.”

I also disrobed, and placed his items and mine into my bag. I fashioned a white paint from chalk and bone, painting my face, ribs, arms and legs. From my own wings I plucked the newest, fairest, and shiniest feathers. I burned them to ash, and mixed them with my own blood. In quick strokes I painted small feathers on his back and arms, and printed both hands outstretched over his heart.

“This is Nihlsihlhara,” I told him, raising her obsidian beauty to his eyes. “She is a shard of Elemental Darkness, the Night Beyond Nights. She contains the whole of the night sky. We shall usher you into the Long Night. When you are ready, please lay yourself on the altar.” After his goodbyes, he prepared himself. I stood above him and touched Nihlsihlhara to his chest. She pulsed with power at every beat of his heart.

“Let your stars shine through,” I whispered. Brilliant white light washed all color from the room. “Glen MacElroy, on Obsidian Wings, I remit your body and soul to the Long Night. Go in glory.” Nihlsihlhara sank effortlessly into his chest. Her light filled him, and for a moment, as his gaze locked with mine, his eyes too were full of stars.

Nodens, Lord of the Hunt accepted his sacrifice. Glen MacElroy ceased to be human, and became the Avatar of a God. I will not try to describe the alien beauty of what he became. There are no words in the sounds of men worthy.

Go in glory, Glen, and may your hunts be bountiful.

His name was Glen MacElroy.

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Catching Up

Our heroes continued with their odd journey with notable events along the way:

  • Lucas was lost, apparently turned into an amulet (or simply destroyed) in Myth Drannor. This amulet was inadvertently left with Shae. Its current location is unknown.
  • The party discovered additional information( Eldest, First World, Cyrnum Silvertoes) about the King of Winter from the ruins of Myth Drannor. While in these ruins, the party met an old friend of Isis, before she’d lost her memory, named Marius, and his guard Clidlebrigo. The two joined the party. Marius told Isis about how she was from Arcadia, her parents were merchants, and she was working with Marius and an old man named Horace on an important task.
  • The party returned to Shadowdale and investigated the caves underneath the Twisted Tower. They found few drow, but plenty of abberations, including driders (who they recovered a strange, unidentifiable gem from) and a settlement of intellect devourers. Marius was assassinated by masked men who also showed up to destroy the monstrous city with explosives.
  • The party then decided to seek Naja to help in travelling to the planes, as Horace was reportedly living in the Hive Ward of Sigil, the City of Doors. Devon left the party as his work required him to stay on Toril, but Shane returned to the party just in time. They also took on a cleric of Kelemvor named Eviel. Naja was able to bring the party to Sigil, and left instructions to meet her back at a bar called the Crying Slaad in three days time.
  • While in Sigil, the party enlisted the aid of a man named J. Taylor to help locate Horace. After finding him, they learned that the mission of Marius, Horance, and Ciara (Isis) was to locate the Temple of Hidden Wisdom and free the scholars that were trapped there by the Cerulean Sign, the masked men who had killed Marius and tried to kill Isis.
  • The party set out to find information about the temple, but got into an altercation with some dangerous demons. The Harmonium guards came to the scene and imprisoned all survivors. Just as the party was about to be released, however, members of the Anarch faction attacked the jail to spring all the prisoners.
  • The party “escaped” along with a winged creature named Rothraxiel and an Anarch named Anna. Anna brought them through a portal to the town of Windglum in Pandemonium, where they laid low after the attack (and got pretty drunk). When they returned to Sigil, they seemed to be in the clear, at least for now.
  • Continuing the investigation, they visited the Weary Spirit Infirmary and found out that a fellow compatriot of Marius and Ciara (Isis) had been transferred to the Gatehouse, the local insane asylum run by a faction called the Bleak Cabal (Bleakers). They found Rigo there, but he was kept heavily sedated for his own protection. They copied the notes and sketches drawn on his walls (in blood) and brought them back to Horace.
  • Horace was able to piece together between Rigo’s sketches and Marius’s notes the location of the portal to the Temple of Hidden Wisdom (at the Scratch Wall in the Slags), as well as the portal key to it. They were able to create a duplicate portal key using the magical pigments Isis carried.
  • The party set out for the Scratch Wall and endured a brutal battle between some demons and devils. They were barely able to flee while Shane covered their escape. His location is unknown. At the portal, J (who had been left to guard Horace) appeared, and decided to join the party. He said Horace told him to come along and help, he would be fine.
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Into Myth Drannor

The party, which by now consisted of only Raph, Isis, Lucas, Lucky and Daethin, stood on the edge of the Westfields, a clearing to the west of the city; from there, they could see the crumbling spires of the once-great Myth Drannor, which had been a beacon of greatness and cooperation in an era long, long past. The air was heavy with time as they’d been growing accustomed to in the ancient forest, but now the feeling was accompanied by some kind of energy, as if the hair on their arms stood on end.

As they prepared to enter the city, Raph spotted a great eagle flying overhead. The partied readied themselves as the eagle descended, and they were soon able to make out the form of a rider on its back. Once he came close enough, the rider hailed the party, trying to determine if they were friends or enemies. He then landed farther off and approached on foot, a plate armored figure with a winged helm.

The man introduced himself as Devon, a devoted warrior of Shaundakul, the god of the winds. He was here to investigate the rubble, recover lost artifacts of his church, and perhaps find the hidden shrine to his god amidst the ruins. As the party had a similar goal, he offered to join them, and provide his assistance. It turned out to be a wise alliance.

Just inside the boundary of the city, they were ambushed between crumbling buildings by demonic, slime-covered emaciated forms that lunged out with barbed spears. The vicious creatures shrugged off the party’s attacks and tore into them with spears, claws, and even savage bites, threatening to slaughter the whole group. Luckily, Devon’s sword struck true, and Raph was able to pull out a cold iron kama that could cut through their hides. Thanks to his superior aim, Lucas was able to fire a second shot before the first wound closed, giving his bullets a chance to do more damage. Isis just used her strength and power to hack as deeply as she could. But poor Lucky’s magic was hindered, as his first spell accidentally enlarged one of the demons, then they completely ignored his powerful lightning spell, and finally his summoned dinosaur immediately turned on him, due to the Mythal’s effects. Finally, the party was able to take out the demons (and the dinosaur) without any casualties, but they were left with the choice of either retreating for now, or pushing through to the remains of the tower, and whatever perils lays within.

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Unfriendly Reunion

Ethan showed up late that night with a larger, dark-skinned gentleman with him. He looked surprised to see the party so soon, but was cordial with them. Once Lucky started asked questions, however, Ethan’s companion grew enraged and slammed him against the shed, saying that he had “some nerve showing his face again”, and menacing him in a threatening manner. Raph was able to pull him off, and Ethan tried to calm him down, and eventually the man wandered off grumbling.

When asked what the exchange was about, Ethan said that “Glen” had been doing experiments on the fey to discover the secrets and sources of their longevity and enchantment magics, and had done so with an associate of the man. He also admitted to essentially setting Glen up to be neutralized by the King of Winter, since he was becoming a threat to fey and other denizens of the forest. Giving Glen what he wanted by providing access to the fey lord’s court and making the introductions proved to be much easier than trying to take the wizard on himself, and apparently had done the job, at least for a while. He didn’t seem to have any remorse for his part in the arrangement, or for what had happened.

Pzo9036 wyvernThe following morning, the party set out for Myth Drannor, wisely taking the long way around to enter the ruined city from the west; Windsong Tower was said to be located near the western edge of the city, so it was safer than cutting straight through. Safe proved to be a relative term, however, as when the party entered a small clearing, they were set upon by several ferocious wyverns. The draconic monsters did hefty damage to the group and almost carried off Isis, but the heroes were able to ultimately slay the giant beasts with might and magic.

But not without cost; Shane sustained terrible injuries, and was unable to continue. Barren returned with him to the Monastery so that he could recover properly, and Daethin agreed to take their place, fighting at the head of battle instead of just watching their backs. So, with the party dwindling in numbers, they entered the ruined city of legendary danger.

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Return to the Monastery

The heroes continued on the road to the Monastery and spied a suspicious globe of darkness off deeper into the wood. They investigated and determined it was some kind of drow camp, using the darkness the shield their resting; they must be new to the surface.

After some quick planning, the party fell upon the drow with tactical strike supported by a barrage of powerful spells. Even the dark elves that heard them coming were powerless to stop the assault, and the heroes made quick work of the invaders. One almost got away, but Daethin followed him into the forest, and returned contently without comment shortly thereafter.

Once the battle had ended, however, Lucky received the premonition that something was attempting to scry on him. He concentrated, and was able to learn that whoever was spying was on another plane of existance. He also received the image of a squat, gargoyle-like creature staring into a mirror and snickering. Once it realized Lucky had figured it out, however, it looked startled, made a sound, and immediately cut off the scrying spell. With that, the image ended.

The party finally arrived at the Monastery, much to the annoyance of Aerin. The party was afforded their earlier accomodations.. in the shed.. and Seth told them that Ethan was out, but was expected back that evening. The heroes cooled their heels in the meantime; Raph went and sparred with a new face, a shadowdancing elf named Corvin, who’s upbeat attitude was a refreshing change from the rest of the “monks”.

Lucky somehow talked Aerin into obtaining the location of a library that might provide more information on the fey within Myth Drannor. There was apparently the remains of what was once Windsong Tower, a magic academy in the lost city. All that was left of the tower was its crypt, but there was supposed to be a library there. The party’s next destination became the infamous ruins of Myth Drannor.

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A Pale Rider

Along the way towards Ashabenford, the party again debated their next course of action. Instead they decided to return to the Monastery to visit Ethan and question him about Lucky’s dealings with the Winter King, seeing as he would have direct information about the interaction. Shane and Barren were none too pleased to be visiting their father again, but reluctantly agreed.

One unseasonably cold night on their journey, Raph was on watch alone, and he heard the distant sound of a hunting horn. He mentioned it to Shane when he took over the watch, but as the ranger went out to investigate, something triggered Lucky’s alarm spell. The party hurried to their feet, but nothing was to be found. They returned to an uneasy sleep, and nothing else approached in the night.

The heroes resupplied in Ashabenford, and Lucky managed to pick up some spells, including one that would alert him to any scrying spells cast upon him. They set out the next morning, again noting the odd chill that was setting in across this part of the Dalelands. By late afternoon, a heavy fog was rolling in along the road, and once again they heard the sounding of a horn, this time much closer.

Cold rider
Out of the fog suddenly road an frost-covered warrior atop a skeletal stag. Icy horns crowned the warrior’s helmet, and before they could call out a challenge to the rider, he attacked with an frozen glaive. As the party scrambled to address this threat, more gremlins burst from the foggy trees, cackling with malicious glee.

While the gremlins shrieked for “Glen” to show himself, the rider seemed to have no goal aside from killing the party. He lashed out with his polearm and hurled icy storms across the road, causing brutal damage to the heroes. But finally, the fell rider and his entourage were laid low. They investigated the remains and discovered a gaping whole in the rider’s chest, where it seemed his heart had been removed and replaced with the rotting heart of a stag.

With the rider’s death, the unnatural cold lifted from the area, and the normal, more temperate autumn weather returned. It seemed a hollow victory, however, for the party still had few answers regarding the Winter King and his aims for the heroes.

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Enter the Fey

The party finally had it’s first non-combat encounter with a fey creature when they came across Tyana, the “goat woman” of the Shadowdale woods. She was sitting on a fallen log, weeping quietly over the body of a dead fawn. The heroes approached carefully and asked about Lucky’s tattoo, which clearly made her uneasy. She identified the symbol as a mark of the King of Winter, Cyrnum Silvertoes. However, she was uncomfortable providing any additional information, fear of retribution from the powerful King of Winter.

After some pressing from the party, she finally, reluctantly, offered to lead them to someone who she said would not be afraid of the fey king, a local witch. The party followed her lead, and then went on the last stretch alone, as Tyana did not want to be anywhere nearby. Either she was very paranoid, of the king’s reach was quite far.

Shae04They ended up at a small cottage that looked ancient, though it was carefully tended. Little fireflies danced nearby as the sun set, and it looked like a page out of a story-book. Lukas knocked on the door, and after calling out a few times, the door was opened by a small girl with wide, curious eyes. She introduced herself as Shae, and invited the party inside.

Over a late meal of crabapples, bread and cheese, Shae revealed that she already knew Lucky (who she called Glen), and she had taken he and Ethan to the First World, supposedly the homeland of the fey. She also indicated that “Glen” had been a bad person, and that he’d gotten what he deserved, after trying to seek a way to live forever. The Winter King was also dangerous, she told the party, and could be cruel. She did have a way to return to the First Lands, but the heroes were not keen to go charging in without knowing more.

After more discussion, Shae agreed to try to find out the nature of Lucky’s debt to the Winter King, and the party decided to leave. They discussed possible options, and initially decided to head back to the town of High Moon and visit Naja, the hedge witch with planar knowledge to ask about Isis’s possible origins while they waited for Shae. Along the way, however, they decided to head instead to the Monastery and meet with Ethan to find out what his role in “Glen’s” meeting with the Winter King had been.

Not far from Shadowdale, the party discovered two huge, horrible worm creatures feasting on the body of a man. Getting too close to the creatures was maddening, but the heroes managed to overcome the horrors and slay them. Upon inspecting the body, they discovered it was the same man from the Old Skull Inn who had double-taked at Isis and quickly left. Among his possessions found a ruined notebook with only a few legible pages remaining. The pages seemed to suggest he had been following the party and observing Isis, who he referred to as “Subject Ciara Tynus”, and he also wrote about a “possible hive” and another body hidden nearby. Tucked in the notebook was what appeared to be a small excerpt from a journal, written in Isis’s handwriting.

The party went in search of the body and discovered a dead guard who was missing his brain. They were able to conclude it had been the work of an intellect devourer, a nasty creature who consumes the brains of its victims and inhabits their bodies. With this information, they returned to Shadowdale to speak with the local lord Mourngrym.

They were actually able to meet with the lord, and he spoke with them graciously. The party told him about what they’d found, and their suspicions about what was happening below his tower, and he asked them to show his guards where the body was so they could recover it. The heroes oblidged him and then continued on their way to the Monastery.

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Shadowdale

The party continued on to Shadowdale, and along the way, Lucky offered to leave the group since his unknown past may prove to be a danger to the others. He was assured that he was still welcome, and as Daethin put it, “everyone has baggage”. The trip was not uneventful, however, as the heroes crossed paths with a massive brown bear tearing through the wood. Something was horribly wrong with the creature, which had four asymetrical eyes (one on one side, three of differing sizes on the other, one of which was even on a protruding eye-stalk), and a mouth that opened unnaturally far. As they cut the monster down, it bled thick black ooze instead of red blood, further indicating some kind of corruption.

They reached the small farming village, which seemed comfortable and even happy to see more adventurers. It was apparently a normal occurance to see such people, although Isis did get a double-take from at least one of the men in town. Shane, accompanied by Lukas, went to the temple of Chauntea to offer prayer and tithe, and informed them of the unnatural creature in the wood. They seemed surprised, and had not heard of such a thing yet. After this visit, the two went to the nicer festhouse in town and enjoyed an evening of luxury, which was a nice change from the rough life on the road.

The others gathered additional supplies in town and went to the Old Skull Inn, a regular hang-out, where they heard tell of strange happenings beneath the local lord’s tower, as well as rumors of a goat-woman in the wood who may be some sort of fey creature. A local bard also told them that from what he knows about fey, the tattoo on Lucky’s face was a mark of ownership, though he’s not sure who’s mark it is.

LhaeoThe next morning, the party set out for Elminster’s tower at the edge of town and followed the winding trail up the hill, which was littered with warning signs concerning the sage’s desire for privacy. They knocked on the door and were “greeted” (to use the term loosely) by Lhaeo, Elminster’s scribe, through a sliding panel on the door. He advised the party that his master was out, and did not know when he would return (“possibly never”). Isis and Raf tried to get additional information from the man, who seemed to be trying to be rid of them, but Lucky lost his patience and began casting a laughing spell at the scribe. Lhaeo promptly shut the panel and an alarm summoned metallic dogs to chase the party away.

The heroes did flee, and made it back to town unscathed. At that point, they decided to investigate the rumors of the goat woman who had been sighted in the woods north of town. They inquired with a nearby farmer, who claimed not to have time for such fanciful nonsense, but he did gruffly invite them for dinner at sundown. There seemed to be no other option but to seek out the woman themselves, and they set out into the woods.

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