This is a thread to document the various triumphs, foibles, and other Things that Happen in the Moni-DM'd NTWFDND campaigns. There are two groups I DM:
Team A: Kat (as Clara the human paladin) Coaster (as Nadyn the triton bard) Octavia (as Luna the half-tabaxi warlock) Draco (as Tsuki... a kenku... also a warlock)
Team B: Liou (as Amaranth the elf wizard) Pixie (as Vyn the harengon sorcerer) Strider (as Khitah the leonin barbarian) Ginz ❤ (as Luna (yes there are two) the gnome druid)
The campaign takes place in a land called Uvina, in the country of Corroza, currently at war with some other people. The characters started their journeys fleeing Mettei, a recently-captured city, and each fled toward a nearby settlement. Team A went to Bordeauriva, a human town, and Team B headed to Kadu-Vi, an elven village....
REVIEWS of MONI ★☆☆☆☆ "The worst person I've ever met." -- Sister, 2k18 "Literally garbage." - Scrappy, 2k17 "0/10 lol what is this." - Country Queen, 2k16 "0/10 this writer sucks." - Droplet, 2k14 neopets | NT
Adventurers find themselves on the road and they're told they should head to the town of Kadu-Vi, where they're still taking refugees.
Khitah helps the astrology club carry their equipment and they become her fans. Mara meets a chef and helps cook on the road. Vyn and Luna are focusing on being one (1) tall person on a cloak.
The astronomy club shows up and starts quarreling with the astrology group a little bit. Rival clubs!
The astronomy club leader (Logicboi) compares the one-sidedness of the Star Wars to Vanecia's one-sided war, and Mara tells him to think of the stars as the civillians, the real victims of the war! This breaks him.
Upon trying to cast mending on him, Vyn and Luna fall over and it is revealed that they are two (2) small people!
Upon arriving to Kadu-Vi's forest, we find sentry elves on the trees. They speak bird.
We arrive to the town entrance and are welcomed with salad sandwiches, a local delicacy! Chef friend is appalled, and they, along with Mara and Vyn bow to introduce real GOOD cooking to this town.
After us arrive Vanecian soldiers with black uniforms. We are rushed to go into our refugee hut, but instead we hide in the bushes and eavesdrop a conversation between a soldier leader and an old elf. Soldier is trying to get elf on their side, but elf maintains they had a deal with the king. The Vanecian head jerk tells the cool elf elder that they would Regret This. They leave.
Mysterious elf surprises us making a falcon call! They heard us talk about wanting to help, and asks us to go check out some mysterious armor left behind to the west. Assistant Squad Assemble!
It turns out to be black armor from enemy soldiers. Smells real bad. It has been abandoned for A While with footprints leading out of it. It produces an unnatural echo when poked with a stick. Mara casts Detect Magic, and a suit of armor in particular gives off a magical transmutation aura.
Some random looters show up and they tell us about The Cursed Armor.™ Anyone who puts it on disappears/never comes back. The armor has fancy seals of a special force.
Vyn and Luna have a friendly arm wresting competition to see who's stronger. Vyn rolls her first Nat 20! XD
Back in town, Luna imitates a hawk noise to summon elf, whose name we find out is Gopal. We relay our findings and they suggest we go see Hari, the village shaman. Their hut is at the center of the village, we can just ask around to find them, cause everyone knows Hari.
Hari's hut has a bunch of flowers and herbs growing around. It's a a Stay Out of my Swamp sort of hut. The gate is open, so the party marches in and knocks but there's no answer. They call out and Hari responds and asks them to come in.
Hari is a True Elf with bright green skin and stretched out veins as branches all over their appendages. Some flowers growing out of places. Grassy eyelashes. No clothes.
The party tells them about the Cursed armor and they say they will look at it and starts marching off. The party stops them long enough just so Mara can describe the place where it is, and Hari heads off.
Loud social worker at a crossroads Militarist pro-Rodrigo propagandist Unnamed members of Tsuki's gaggle of halflings Lara, a prominent one of said halflings Sleepyjoe (he/him, or guy/guy BROnouns) Saman (she/her), who tolerates Sleepyjoe Intrepid Reporter Gale Garson for the Kingdom Enquirer Music store gnome shopkeep in Bordeauriva Doctor Alphonse Holyguy Holey-robe Aaron Slowclerk a.k.a. DMV Aarakocra with a hamster, neither of whose names we actually asked
Undead hawks in the forest near Bordeauriva Jabin aka Dwayne "The Brick" Johnson, with pet rat Koala Martha Brautz Semi-tame mimic (later named Mimi) Crusty cleric curse-remover lady who doesn't want us to bother her Master Wang Valeryl, babysitter
Annoyed birds in a rainbow portal tree Elemental planes: tornado man, droplet-looking creature, beady-eyed boulder person, fire elemental, metal men Sabaton Fan and Metalhead Memory: whatever Tsuki's cult summoned Memory: a few hooligans near Albaiin Memory: Nadyn's parents and older sister in Shandeg Memory: Clara's parents, bedraggled House Cordovan guards and horse, couple scam artist beggars Overworked Infirmary Clerk Illegible Doctor Shy male patient in infirmary Tom-mom Tom-mom's Groundskeeper Lucine Aureli, Bright Mage (and other self-given titles) (Mentioned) Gideon a.k.a. Giddy, Lucine's husband Lady of the Lake (whose real name sounds a bit like hocking a loogie with TV static) First Corroza Bank Teller Preferential Treatment Potion Shopkeep in Bordeauriva Baby black dragon rescued from a wight. Session 15 spoilers:
Gave itself the name "Castle-owner", or "Castle" for short (and the equivalent in draconic)
Rather unfriendly librarians in Bordeauriva Innkeeper at that Bordeauriva inn Martha has a room in Based raven in a hanging skeleton near Lady of the Lake's house 2 unnamed Bordeauriva gate guards who now dread seeing our party Halfling gaggle's protective uncle dad figure man Relach, halfling gaggle's protective uncle dad figure man's rude daughter Ben and Toki-Toki (the respectively cynical and less cynical Bordeauriva to Cadako carriage service horses) Transatlantic Bordeauriva/Cadako travel agent who tries to upsell too much Generic flight attendant-like staff on the carriage bus Imposing military guardpeople who saw Tsuki on the carriage bus Pedrin, who hands out college applications in Kaer Meg, a student in Kaer who wants to go into criminal law Luna's familiar, a conspicuously magical raven. Session 18 spoilers:
Kaer's friendly and overly-helpful librarian Tsuki's eldritch tentacley patron Precise-stepping uniformed military guy we encountered several times en route to Cadako, and his unsociable raven Ethereal Hackerman who seems to have the sword from Clara's oat mound. Session 18 spoilers:
Four spriggans near Din that may just be regular trees now, who knows Unspecified townsfolk, horses, and bees in the town of Din Old Man Jenkins in the farm town near Cadako (name-dropped) Old Man Jenkins' son Leeroy Old Man Jenkins' cows, including Marcy, Nancy, and Betsy, and probably a zombie cow Asian lady who argued with the admissions person at the International Bards' College in Cadako Admissions person (they/them) at the International Bards' College in Cadako Assorted IBCC students (earth science, chemistry, acting) Hugh, PhD-equivalent IBCC banjoist IBCC instrument store proprietor (presumed interaction) Cadako tough-as-nails blacksmith Cadako staff shop proprietor (presumed interaction) Various merchants in Cadako's marketplace Art seller old lady in Cadako Tokin, trickster god of fire, war, twilight, and sometimes knowledge Iikacel (god of as-yet-unspecified things) K'arb (god of other as-yet-unspecified things) Various animals in Cadako zoo (lion, tiger, grieving gorilla, juvenile gorillas, grumpy alligator, savvy turkey, other birds, chill elephants one of whom is named Mark, insects, fish, sting ray) Cadako zookeeper (they/them) with mage fist Priest in Cadako's temple to Tokin Marg, our weed-using dormmate at college lodging in Cadako Cadako Brautz mansion gatekeeper named Elias, and other guards At least one C-3P0-esque bronze construct in Brautz catacombs Leon Brautz, talking and angry skull (mentioned) Karl Brautz, wizard/sorcerer, Leon's mean brother, passed into the great beyond some time ago (mentioned) a different cousin Martha Brautz we know nothing about (mentioned) a different different cousin Martha Brautz who ran off with someone from the Montero family, who Leon dislikes Luka Brautz, a more recent but still dead niece/nibling of Karl Brautz (usually they/them, sometimes she/her) Hannah Brautz, trickster poltergeist (mentioned) ? Brautz, who rebelled against King Tobias some 500 years ago and whose name was scratched from the record Nea Brautz, great singer and also a ghost Rocco and Adela, Leon's terrible parents Hannah's extended family (fairly generic but chill ghosts) Jake (at least in Common), Lady of the Lake's rambunctious and presumably younger relative, an elephant/hawk-looking demon A beleaguered (by us) butler at the Brautz estate in Cadako An even more beleaguered and en-soaped (by us) guard at the Brautz estate in Cadako Derek, appraiser who works next door to the Cadako blacksmith lady History professor at IBC Cadako who assumes people know current events Proprietor of a suspicious alley in a stall in Cadako where Marg gets Stuff (mentioned) Ryan, purportedly Lady of the Lake's ex-boyfriend Helpful bear-dog trained on zombie flesh Lee and Ree, Key's distracting goblin friends Big, fluffy, clean, snobbish rat in Bordeauriva Vaguely helpful songbird in Bordeauriva Assorted military around Bordeauriva, including a commander Bordeauriva resident spouting mind flayer conspiracy theories Two rescued Corrozan intelligence officers (Agent William Garcia, he/him, and Agent Dupont, she/her) Owner of a Bordeauriva tavern/inn that suffered Jake's mischief Vincent, of Vincent Lawyers and Co. in Kaer Dismissive Bards' College archaeologists studying ruins near Kaer T3 version 10.3, an ant-like guardian in ancient ruins near Kaer Lyvin, unpetrified after 50 years TI version 0.95 Beta, another ant robot Lady of the Lake's grandma Klink, a very happy robotic wasp holding a bolt "Clacky", demoness of blind loyalty, whose Infernal name we can't pronounce; Lady of the Lake's ex Flashbacks/visions? of many Olarins and unpronounceably-named slug people, who seem like they must have all died out by now Clara's ancient oath sword (after it gets cursed around session 21) Unnamed judge and legal clerk in Kaer Arthur, Clara's metaphorical black sheep cousin and weapons dealer Lady of the Lake's horse-like frat party relative Bureaucratic staff in literal hell, and the neighbouring region of heck a.k.a. mediocrity Lady of the Lake's skyscraper-height (after shrinking) grandpapa, the demon of pride Another giant extended relative of Lady of the Lake, father of the demon of xenophobia Unhoused person in Cadako Clara gave a bit of money to More shop owners in Cadako (mortician, jewelry appraiser, birdseed vendor) Rickety Pickety, the gnome doctor traveling with Tsuki's halfling gaggle (mentioned) The writer of a cutesy diary from Tsuki's old cult (mentioned) Andromeda, who escaped Tsuki's old cult. Session 26:
Last name Dandolo. Met in person, later... Kind of.
Various elf guards and residents in Kadu-Vi Vanecian representative in Kadu-Vi Eldritch creature Tsuki saved from lich control Horsecart driver between Kadu-Vi and Utel Beboulder sculptor near Utel Dragon's Breath Tavern proprietors in Utel At least three Dandolo mansion guards, who we attempted to unionize
My Recap Of Team Weirdo's (Group A's) Session 1 As Much As I Was Able To Process It - January 8 2022
An imposing and very loud social worker at the front of the crowd tries to herd all the refugees at a crowded crossroads, announcing that people should either go to the elven village "if you’re a little bit weird (a non-citizen)"—since they have an alliance with Corroza—or (for citizens) Bordeauriva. Clara Has An Oath(TM) and decides to just follow the people she can help the most. Weirdbird just repeats after the social worker, but being the local celebrity oddball who is definitely certainly a citizen, the halfling gaggle is unbothered. Nadyn being totally into leadership basically says LFG for Bordeauriva, and she is told by an inexperienced warrior who’s all Tritons Are Totally Stronk So You Can Deal With This that there are undead in the forest; he is thusly told to tell that to the announcer. Luna’s a bit overwhelmed by the crowd, but feels like human town is the safest bet, and so tags along with that side of the group.
Generally avoiding the woods, the throng reaches Bordeauriva (a town which, among other things, is situated in a great spot for trade); weaker-looking refugees are funneled in ahead of those who seem like they can take care of themselves. There’s a heightened military presence in general. Nadyn says she likes Luna’s hat. Clara says “aww” and continues helping some limping refugees. There’s some folks hawking overpriced food to the more well-to-do people. There’s also some guy throwing about pro-military political propaganda to people who look like citizens (namely Clara and Luna, neither of whom actually are) about the upcoming Corrozan national election. Nadyn is So Interested In Democracy and challenges the guy passing them out to mortal combat for the leadership role he himself clearly has, because that’s (probably) how succession works for tritons (who knows, but it’s believable enough because everyone is racist). He surrenders quickly. The manifesto he was passing out was for a leader known as Rodrigo who’s basically a pro-military faction. She plans to use it for fire-starting material at some point.
By now, the weaker refugees have filtered into town, so it’s on to us; we’re approached by a very tired-looking guard (heretofore Sleepyjoe because we don’t know his actual name) who asks nobody in particular (just. The whole group.) for their name and origin to gain entry. Weirdbird just repeats his line. Sleepyjoe retaliates with chicken noises but seems oddly into the exchange (presumably tired enough to inhibit some mental faculties). Weirdbird makes chicken noises in return. Clara Knows About Procedure and interrupts this by introducing herself: she is from a merchant family far away, but bad with business, so yeeted herself out from there. Another guard steps in, apologizing for her comrade (who is still making chicken noises and has not slept in days and is waiting for his family). Nadyn introduces herself: evidently she’s from Shandeg because that’s how Triton names work; apparently it’s right next to Vanecia. Luna introduces herself: she’s from the outskirts of Albaiin, a forested college town. It’s considered strange that Luna isn’t a citizen despite being from Albaiin, but it’s justified by her being born elsewhere or being in the outskirts or never making it “on paper” as tends to happen in a post-revolution medieval era.
We are given the rule that, on entering the city, we must stay within the bounds of the refugee camps or else lay down our weapons; though not citizens, we are capable adventurers, so we’re drafted into protecting weaker refugees from stray undead. Sleepyjoe isn’t finished yet and insists that Weirdbird says his name for the paperwork. Weirdbird repeats “Say your name.” This has become a personal vendetta. Otherguard pushes Weirdbird and Sleepyjoe off to the side to let them mimic each other out of the way of more people coming in. Halfling from the earlier gaggle clears up Weirdbird’s name and story for the record, after about “all the fingers” minutes of back-and-forth mimicry. Sleepyjoe feels like he can claim victory because of this.
Regardless, the full party’s in the camp part of town now. There’s a government food cart, a Church of Light temple doing charity stuff, and some people shouting about local politics/issues like water quality and woods full of undead and how the current mayor cheated on his husband with another guy and such. Intrepid Reporter Gale Garson reports on how the OTHER guys (Vanecia) are throwing all their soldiers into the woods to die. If nothing else, that report is enough for us to consider the undead-infested woods as a barrier to the other army... wait, now she’s talking about performance enhancers and basically National Enquirer level “journalism”. Weirdbird helpfully provides an incendiary quote on the whole mayor cheating thing to throw fuel on the fire. Gale Garson is a bit peeved about this, and we suspect we will have poor reputations after the upcoming issue of the Kingdom Enquirer makes its rounds—it may well make it as far as Kadu-Vi, perhaps in the hands of an eccentric Ariel of an elf who collects human paraphernalia.
As that settles down, Clara reaffirms that she’s Interested in Helping Out with the Church of Light; it’s a widespread religion, a loose church preaching the importance of set codes of behavior, “free yourself from the cycle of reincarnation by knowing your true spirit” kind of deal; it’s a force for good in some places and for bad in others, but in this particular spot they’re mostly just doing charity. They give Clara a montage of physically demanding tasks befitting a stronk paladin, like moving things or escorting disabled refugees around the city... and carrying a crate with Weirdbird on it, which she doesn’t notice until she’s done with it. Generally, she flexes. And maybe as a habit she gives a bit too much of herself in the name of her oath, but she manages not to overexert herself this time.
Nadyn goes shopping for a replacement horn and finds a quiet, quaint, but kinda run-down shop next to the public library(!), run by a gnome gentleman who... immediately Knows Exactly What Someone Of Her Kind Needs! and pulls out an underwater-only horn. Nadyn mentions she has one at home and asks for one that can be played on the surface. She tries out a few; a middle-of-the-road white one sounds fine, but there’s one that sounds equally good but is all shiny rainbowy color-changing so she buys that for 3.5g instead of 3g. (#RGB #worthit #swag #shiny)
Luna finds a good spot to sit, people-watch, and take in the environment, rather than getting up to shenanigans.
We press F and wait 6 hours like it’s Skyrim, so now it’s nighttime. We have tents near the reception area (presumably temporary, not for like a whole month or something). We see Sleepyjoe, of all people, even more loopy (presumably not willing to sleep until the incoming refugees include his family) and he takes us on patrol. Thankfully, tonight, nobody is straying dangerously close to the woods (ourselves excluded). Weirdbird has the torch for the non-Darkvision folks. Sleepyjoe is being generally not useful, in a very “high from extreme sleep deprivation” sense. But for the most part, everything appears to be fine... Except we suck terribly at perception and the slow, shambling, moaning zombies are very stealthy. So we roll initiative and get ready to fight 5 zombies.
On the west end, Luna hangs back and hexes and blasts any zombie that comes into reach, and Nadyn plays Thriller to inspire the party, says mean things to the zombies, and occasionally busts out the rapier for protecc. On the east end, Weirdbird also does some blasting and dual-wields some knives, presumably holding the torch in his mouth in order to do so; Clara fights in front, as paladins do, and doesn’t get hit very often, as paladins don’t, but manages to pull an Anime Fruit Ninja Unnecessary Crit To A 1HP Enemy; and Sleepyjoe is surprisingly competent despite having so much disadvantage. A zombie walks away and comes back for no reason to allow Weirdbird to give us a tutorial on opportunity attacks. Sleepyjoe really appreciates the show of “affection” from zombie #4. Zombie #5 was racist about cat people and fish people. Sleepyguard, somehow, finishes the last one off, shouting “For Corroza!”.
As the zombies die, all but that last one dissipate into thin air. The one that does not is wearing a tattered Vanescian uniform... the opposing side. Dun-dun-dun. (The Enquirer was right?) We pick up 5 old coins, which out-of-character we could recognize as being from the era of King Saitths’ reign. Weirdbird tries fails to pickpocket Sleepyjoe, and now they are fire-forged friends. Sleepyjoe, being so sleepy-high he saw the zombies as Jigglypuffs or gumballs or some such, takes us back to town to get some food and rest. Not trusting him to actually get some rest, Nadyn goes and finds him and casts Sleep on him directly, earning a thumbs-up from another nearby guard. For our trouble and for helping Sleepyjoe sleep, we get a cool confiscated dagger, encrusted with a cheap gem, which we (hesitantly) give to Weirdbird.
We sleep until morning, which is where our adventure leaves off for this session because El Presidente’s throat is being extremely mean.
My Recap Of The Meme Team's (Group A's) Session 2 As Much As I Was Able To Process It - February 5 2022
Last we left off, our heroes(?) took some pamphlets, killed some Vanecian zombies, got a cool knife, and went to sleep. Now, (hey, you,) we're finally awake and ready to go about our days.
Clara goes and rescues some aarakocra's pet hamster from a tree (from an ill-fated attempt to teach it to fly). She has a family insignia badge on her that the aarakocra noticeably recognizes, but doesn't say anything more about, but the aarakocra invites her (and, unwittingly, her friends) to the Weeping Willows Tavern.
Weirdbird talks with his halfling gaggle and explores the town and refugee camp a bit. One of the halflings (Anwara? missed the spelling)--one of the first to start hanging out with him, and feels somewhat responsible/sorry for him)--takes a walk with him, offhandedly mentioning there being a triton in town other than the one he met.
Luna gets the lay of the town: there's some mid-sized-town kind of stuff in the outskirts; more specific commerce requires surrendering weapons; the forest is generally pretty okay during the daytime if you don't go too far in. She then starts foraging for alchemy ingredients (healing/antidote potions, etc.); she doesn't find many interesting herbs around this particular forest, but there is some bright pink flower called Roseweed (spiky but otherwise not rose-like, tiny petals, pinkish stem) that she recognizes as being useful in a number of potions, so she harvests it. There aren't many people around--just a few guards or passersby--so she finds a nice sunny glade to cat-nap for a bit. Later, she encounters Doctor Alphonse, a professor from her college town (not someone she feels strongly about, just an acquaintance); he's taking meticulous notes on the trees and cataloguing... something, and the guards are not happy with him (since he's real close to going inside the forest proper), so they chase him off ("don't be so curious that you kill yourself, old man"). Luna doesn't get involved but is a bit confused/concerned about what he's taking those notes on, and resolves to ask him if she sees him again.
Nadyn does some busking (not quite in the middle of the refugee area, but not in the closed-off part of town) with her viol and makes 5 gold from people walking by--most are too poor or down on their luck to contribute, but the more well-off folks give a few silver. Over time a number of such well-to-do folks accumulate, including a guy in Church of Light robes, with striking, glowy blue eyes, and strategically placed holes in the back of his robe. HMMMMMM. Anyways, he tosses a silver over (marking him as fairly rich) and asks how she learned, or if it's different playing the viol underwater. Nadyn explains it away as Magic remarks that she can play it wherever, since she's a bard. The almost-definitely-aasimar mentions that a gift of music is a great blessing from the gods and he's glad she's using it to her full potential. Nadyn mentions the holes in his robes, assuming it's just a rip from getting caught on a doorknob or something, and suggests someone mend them, getting a mildly amused response.
And so, we each spend our morning. Clara then extends the tavern invitation to the party, who enthusiastically accept; unfortunately, it's in the city proper, so we temporarily sign out our weapons to a boring (and very slow-talking, heretofore known as Slowclerk) office lady who's all "I take my position at the bureau of legal and illegal weapons and also tobacco and alcohol very seriously". Luna asks if her quarterstaff--err, walking stick--counts as a weapon, and is informed it's fine as long as she doesn't attack people with it.
We get to the Weeping Willow tavern, which is very elf chic: near a park, surrounded by willows, architecturally less lumber-and-stone but deliberately made from still-living trees or made to look like it; since it's getting close to dusk, we see some gas lamps being lit up around town, but not here--instead there are glowing motes in the air lighting the area. Inside, there's a (not obnoxiously loud) band playing, and the clientele is less refugee-ish and more rich folks.
As we arrive, aarakocra dude offers to cover the meal (but looks askance at Weirdbird)--Clara confirms yes he is one of my friends (even though they just met a day or two ago)--at that, aarakocra gets a bit less jovial, looks over Luna and Nadyn (realizing they're all actually foreigners/refugees), and reluctantly affirms that money is no object but apologizes for the party's loss (of homeland), recommends some cherry wine from a nearby vineyard, and orders a bottle, to no objection. He asks the bartender (who we notice is a wood elf) for three cups and two beak-appropriate Special Cups. Elsewhere in the bar, the weird Church of Light guy is sitting with other folks from the church, and they're talking about boring administrative stuff (or not?? who knows maybe they're summoning some deity to rule the world). The band is playing music (of some unspecified sort). People give weird stares to Weirdbird and Nadyn for being noticeably Foreign.
Aarakocra tries to initiate conversation with Weirdbird: "So... what's your favorite food?" "Food." Aarakocra points out (based on her insignia) that Clara's from House Cordovan, pulls out a purple handkerchief like "they made this! I've never used it because it's so expensive! but I flew for them as a courier a lot; any chance you know someone named--thinks for a sec--Arthur Cordovan?" Turns out he's the "we don't talk about that guy" relative of the family, and Clara makes that clear. Aarakocra continues, "Shame, that guy owed me money. Anyways, interesting to see one of you far from home, you don't look like you're in the dyeing business"--Nadyn interprets that as dying and calls him out on the TASTELESS JOKE because she's already started getting sloshed. Aarakocra takes a drink--exactly like a real bird drinks from a cup--and clarifies LIKE DYEING, NOT LIKE DEATH. Anyways, apparently he's hoping to become a tailor; he brings out some nice floral patterns (and Clara voices her appreciation of the design) but laments not being taken seriously for his craft (and takes another drink).
As he have this wonderful conversation with an all-around relatively normal guy, we overhear an argument elsewhere (which at first we ignore even though it's a bit distracting)--Luna is listening enough to tell that some guy is pleading with some other guy, who happens to be a guard, to go into the woods because he thinks one of his friends went there; guard clarifies nobody can go into the woods and says "your friend is gone, especially after so many days, nobody's going in, trust us, we're the military, we know"... It escalates until the guy throws a punch, but since he's kind of just some guy and the guard's a guard, he catches the punch and is like "don't start any trouble if you know what's good for you". Guy dusts himself off and storms out, but along the way, he puts up a notice on the community noticeboard.
Clara excuses herself briefly to read it: 90% of the text is a notice about the Brautz family hosting an opera... blah blah blah... and Clara's got bad perception so she assumes it's completely boring. When she's back, Nadyn assumes it was a bathroom break (since it turns out this tavern is upscale enough to have a squat-toilet bathroom, though not upscale enough to have our own personal water sprites to wash our bottoms, as is clarified out-of-character). But back on the topic of the pin-board, Weirdbird was paying enough attention to be curious as well, so he goes over to read this very long notice about the wonderful opera of the Brautz family, a name he (as a Mettei local) offhandedly recognizes as being a rich merchant family. He also notices that some letters are bolded more than others, and on taking note of where they are, it turns out to be an anagram of some sort. Because President hates anagrams, we don't get the puzzle itself, just that it's a presumably intentional hidden message; Weirdbird (having advantage due to needing to unscramble stuff for mimicry anyways) spends a lot of time trying to figure it out and manages to decode "reward for retrieving Martha Brautz, meet at midnight near the eastern-most bridge".
As Weirdbird returns to the table, Nadyn, now being quite drunk, feels sorry that he can't talk and has the idea of checking out a dictionary from the library and reading it for him so he can basically treat it as text-to-speech. Weirdbird surprises the group by finally bringing out the eldritch telepathy, saying "I think we have a job." Clara and (especially) Nadyn are shocked that Weirdbird can talk after all. In any case, he confirms that there's someone lost in the forest, and the guy wrote in code that he wants help finding her. Clara mentions that she missed that part, and keeps mental notes of the task (while thinking in the back of her mind yay we're going to save someone!). Nadyn says she LOVES opera and wants to go! Weirdbird clarifies we'd have to keep it secret (at least from the soldiers), and Clara knows she's bad at keeping secrets. Weirdbird downs a glass (potentially taken from someone else) and spills about half of it. Aarakocra doesn't quite follow the half-telepathic conversation and laments the loss of cherry wine. (Nadyn prestidigitates away the stains.)
After all this: the understanding is that our task as Capable Adventurers Drafted By Guards is to patrol the woods on some nights, but tonight, nobody's asked us to do anything. So, being free to do what we want, we get ready to head to this bridge at midnight. Definitely-aasimar guy gives a sideways look to the adventurers; Nadyn recognizes him and remembers that he needs his robe fixed! and tailor aarakocra needs to network! she suggests as such, and aarakocra thanks Miss Triton Lady and goes--actually he knows that guy, but he'll give it a shot! Weirdbird distrusts holymen in general and furtively glances at holyguy. Holyguy excuses himself from the table, seemingly to go to the bathroom, then checks the noticeboard (expressionless), sits back down, and continues talking about boring nerd books or something with his regular human clergy member tablemates. Nadyn is presumably drunk enough to get hung over and gets carried out by the more sober Clara (but midnight is far enough away to get her bearings). Aarakocra bids the group farewell (and vice versa, offering well-wishes to him and his hamster).
The job's a bit sus, but we decide to go with it. Leaving town core, we go get our weapons back (slowly) from the Bureau and get a lecture about password security in the process. We leave to meet the bridge guy at midnight; it's a new moon, and very starry, no light pollution but counts as dim light for the human guards' sake; there's water wheels and windmills out near the farms on the other side of town, and military installations because that would probably be the most likely place of attack. Across the bridge, there are a lot of guards, but on the near side, a guy in a cloak stares us down and asks what we're doing. Nadyn brings up the Poster about the Opera In Town, exaggerated wink. He mentions the "opera" is about a few people who rescue a fair (well, not that fair) lady from undead-infested woods. We say that sounds fun. He introduces himself as Theodore Brautz. He addresses Clara (who is a member of nobility, albeit foreign, which in a sense is great because nobility is actually on the books there as opposed to abolished and merely wealthy like here) and welcomes the group, mentioning that this is (hopefully) not an opera where anyone dies at the end, and that they would be generously compensated (100g per person) for retrieving the lady from the woods. He gives the address to an inn he is staying at, and--"to prove I am as good as my word"--he gives us a badge with his family crest on it, a spear cracking a shield, and his name on the back, a very fancy calling card--"you should be able to track me down with this. And one more thing, I have an inkling of where my sister--err, friend is: one of the old towers in the forest; you shall recognize it by a faded old Vanecian insignia, much like the modern one but with some design changes--not that you'll see anything with a modern Vanecian insignia in there, but if you see that tower, she's in there. If you're successful, meet me at this location; I will be there as long as you require."
Before leaving, we ask why she'd be in that tower--captured or seeking safety? He replies that as a Brautz, his family's ability is divination, and he merely knows that she is there, but not why; Luna and Clara can confirm from their regional knowledge that noble families do, in fact, often have sorcerer blood in them. Brautz also gives us a roughly sketched map of the woods: at the start, there's not much in the way of paths (it's a more wild/uncultivated section), but deeper in, it was previously managed more intentionally, so the old paths are still there, along a few ruined structures, two towers facing us and a square area. We enter the forest in what seems to be the safest area; since it's midnight there's not a lot of patrols out, so we get in by the cover of darkness (ish; dim light) and walk walk walk to the clearing; but just before we can take another step, we establish our lineup order out of character and Meatshield Clara at the front is stopped by Nadyn Darkvision, who sees 5 dormant/resting creatures in the middle of the clearing; surrounding one completely sleeping ghoul, there are two skeletons and two zombies that are kind of aware but haven't spotted us. We help out Clara with the stealthing (by muting the clankier parts of her armor and pointing out where to step)... and she gets a 6. Soooo we roll initiative.
We gang up on Zomzom first. Skelebro and Skelebrah shoot like storm troopers (except on Weirdbird and Luna), and for the most part, Zomzom and Zoom Zoom don't fare much better (several critical misses). Clara tanks the hits and swings the sword, Luna bounces a hex around and throws eldritch blasts, Weirdbird busts out some chill touch, Nadyn throws some insults, inspiration, and heals. Once Zomzom is down, Grossgross starts stirring. Zoom Zoom goes down just as Grossgross joins the initiative order. Grossgross gets in a hit, but also goes down without too much trouble, then Skelebrah, then Skelebro, and we win \o/ For salvageable loot, from the skeletons there are 2 copper coins and 2 shortbows (one for Nadyn, one for Luna, 4 arrows for each)... plus Weirdbird takes a skeleton finger after being coerced not to fill up a bag with body parts (with the threat of a disease check). We take a well-deserved long rest to end the session.
My Recap Of The Murderhobos' (Group A's) Session 3 As Much As I Was Able To Process It - February 26 2022
We start off in the woods after our fight with a gaggle of undead. Over the course of our long rest, we take night watches; during his, Weirdbird spots a zombie prettyboy staring at us with very bright animu blue eyes, and does not mention anything until morning. None of us glean anything from this. We also eat some rations for breakfast (from our backpacks, since we aren't risking mystery berries in a zombie-infested forest).
To try and get a heading, Clara climbs up a tall tree (after removing clanky armor) to look over the woods; there's a weird intangible aura of some sort over the treetops that induces some heebie-jeebies, but otherwise, sure enough, there are the two towers indicated on the map.
We head eastward, and Luna (being the one with more than 11 perception) spots that some of the animals are normal and others are undead (though lethargic and not trying to eat us), including an undead hawk on a tree; she informs the rest of the group and we agree to try not to disrupt them as long as they're not attacking us.
We make our way toward a stone structure about 500m (1640ft because D&D uses Freedom Units™) away; Luna sees some armored figures stationed in front of it, but visibility is low because forest and all, so all we can tell is there are at least 3 (possibly more), with a mish-mash of different uniforms (regions, time periods, etc.), which we deduce means they're probably zombies too. Rather than charging in, we decide to plan out how to get closer. To start, Weirdbird gets to 120ft stealthily and finds that there are 8 zombies in total. Nadyn, Clara, and Luna join in sequence.
Nadyn obscures the nearest zombies with a Triton Fog Cloud and... they don't really react. Weirdbird readies a blast on one that's outside the cloud, which cues the rest of us that "okay guess we're doing this now", and we start the fight. Of course, we miss a lot and completely waste our surprise round, but the battle goes okay anyways, largely because zombies are not very bright and Luna's Hex and Clara's armor are OP. During the fray, it is established that zombies #1 "Ripperino" and #3 "Gnarly" had surfer dude voices in life, but now that they are undead it's only dudely internally and we don't actually hear it, even with #1's totally tubular last moments reflecting on 1000 years of surfertude. Meanwhile, #2 "Poor Chap" and #4 "Sacre Bleu" have exactly the stereotypical accents their nicknames would suggest. #5 "Archer" clips into the tower runs away after Weirdbird whispers at him, but goes down easy.
DM threatens that this will be the last level 1 combat we will ever have (and clarifies that it's not because we will be unceremoniously killed right after this). Regardless! We take out 5 zombies, and as it turns out, fog cloud actually came in quite handy because the three zombies on the other side didn't see us, so we got ANOTHER surprise attack! Even for the clanky tank paladin! Though we still missed for most of the round. #7 "Hapless" goes down quick, followed by #6 "Futile" with some overkill by Clara that leaves a silhouette of zombie fluids on the tower wall, and finally (bigoted) #8 "Boomer" dies by the bard chanting OK Boomer for 1 hit point.
We take our loot (mostly just arrows for Nadyn and body parts for Weirdbird) and a short rest, and then Nadyn tries the doors. Turns out there's some weight on the other side indicating they've been boarded up, along with what would have formerly been windows. And the door is an uncharacteristically new door, meaning someone's moved in at some point. Weirdbird just knocks normally, and for a while we hear some pacing, and up above the door we see an eye hole, and can tell that some board are being moved. Then, in an accent, we hear a guy ask, "Who are you?"... which Weirdbird repeats in the same voice. Guy threatens to drop a brick on him if we don't answer properly.
Nadyn says, "hey we're refugees, we killed the zombies, you can come with us if you're a hostage or something". Guy (who is a soldier, but we don't know that in-character) laughs in response and goes, "thanks, I guess". Nadyn mentions we're looking for Martha Brautz. Guy responds that she's in the other tower, and asks for some food in exchange.
Clara responds by dropping some food off at the door, and meanwhile Weirdbird responds by piling up the zombie corpses by the door and readying an eldritch blast. Guy throws the brick at Weirdbird in response... and hits him in the head... and crits... and does 6 damage. Weirdbird blasts the door a few times and retreats into the fog as the guy continues throwing bricks. Luna joins in the eldritch blasting. Clara jumps in to defend them from bricks, and takes a hit. Nadyn belatedly attempts diplomacy and dismisses the fog as a show of trust.
After this assurance, the guy slowly gets rid of some of the boarding (grumbling over how much will need to be replaced) and sluggishly comes out. He's more than a bit emaciated, wearing Vanecian armor and loosely holding a not very good spear; he (carefully) thanks us for the food and takes it, then goes partially back indoors. Nadyn asks if he's exiled or defected or just had a bad time with family; turns out he deserted and would be executed if he went back to Vanecia, and of course he can't stay with the Corrozans. As a non sequitur, he offers us some (not very sanitary) tea, which is really just a lot of mint leaves in hot water.
After we assure him we're doing some stuff off the books and wouldn't snitch on him--and now that he isn't hangry anymore--he properly introduces himself as Jabin and says that he was on a task force to investigate the woods, and the rest of his squad may be out there mad at him or may be eaten. He says there's a lady in the other tower (presumably the Martha we're looking for) and purple lights come from there sometimes (roughly south). In a rambly fashion, he tours us around his tower, shows us his pet rat named Koala (named for a koala he saw at the zoo once because he thought it kind of looked like one) who he shares some of the food with, talks about the rocks in the tower, shows us his other set of clothes which he assures us he washes when it rains, and takes us to the top of the tower.
From the top, we can see the old fort, along with the other tower which is about a fifteen minute walk away. Jabin asks us not to leave him all alone in the tower. Weirdbird threateningly pulls out a porcelain doll head to stare at him. Nadyn offers to bring him along, with the assurance that he could just come back if things go badly. Weirdbird, meanwhile, points out that he could get a swankier tower in a better scenario.
To clarify the situation, Nadyn asks whether Jabin's squad knows he deserted, or if it's possible they just think he ran away in the confusion of a conflict. Initially he tries to hide it, but he confesses that he deserted before the task force came into the woods, and in fact, the reason for them coming into the woods to begin with might have been to go after him (if not to investigate the undead). Nadyn also reminds Jabin that to the Corrozans, he's just some anonymous guy, not a Vanecian deserter.
Jabin (alongside Koala) helpfully leads the way to the tower, pointing out irrelevant things along the way, such as this one maple tree that he sometimes unsuccessfully tries to sap for sugar for his tea. In time, we see the other tower: Luna doesn't see any patrols around it--it looks kind of empty from the outside--but as we approach there is a proper door (not a makeshift boarded-up one), and everything seems a bit better secured. Before proceeding, we take a short nap for Clara to lay hands on herself and for Weirdbird to nap off some of the brick damage from earlier.
We debate whether to knock or use our Foot Key™ a.k.a. kick it down. Jabin points out that the lady hasn't tried to kill him yet, and at that, one of the undead hawks immediately starts pestering him. So, with Weirdbird standing back (for safety as a squishy at low health), we knock politely; this tower's less dilapidated than the previous, and before long, we feel like we're Being Watched but don't know from where, and then the door opens, and we're greeted by a lady with some worn-down fancy robes--presumably the Martha we're looking for. Nadyn mentions that we were tasked with rescuing her, to which she says "who said--ugh, Theodore" and invites us in, though she glares at Jabin for a bit (Nadyn assures her he's harmless). She gets us seated at a makeshift table and offers us some apples, which are Detect Magically confirmed to be ordinary, not magic, just old and not very tasty. "Enjoy living in the lap of luxury", Martha says sarcastically.
"Who sent you?" she asks, and Weirdbird responds in said person's voice. Martha assures us that she is in fact fine but needs to find something in these woods and will not leave until she is done, and asserts that it would be best if we leave before we get in over our heads. Nadyn offers the support of these Very Capable And Powerful Level 1 Adventurers. Martha responds that past here, we shouldn't go out at night because there's magic that commands these undead somehow, and for some reason it isn't just attacking Bordeauriva wantonly--she has suspicions about it and she needs to go into the fort and place a rune there for one night to get her answer. Unfortunately, she says, the fort is guarded and they don't like her much ("can't imagine why"), so if we could take the extra time to help, she can then go back to her brother and assure him she's okay. Evidently she isn't telling us everything, but she seems pretty honest as far as we can tell (yay Insight).
She can tell that Weirdbird can speak telepathically and asks what he sounds like for that. Turns out, he sounds surprisingly normal, as evidenced with a mental "hi". She asks what she may call him, and he responds "Tsuki". Oh. Nobody else really asked him, did we?
The rest of us need not introduce ourselves because uninvited mind-reading, but Nadyn tests it by asking Martha to confirm what Nadyn's favorite color is--and drat, looking at a memory of the RGB horn, she correctly deduces that her favorite is all the colors. Luna asks how Martha determined all of this, and Martha responds that some are better with certain magic than others, and she was just born with it. (Good thing we didn't blow up the door.) But, she offers to sometime teach us at least the formal theory of divination as she knows it.
Anyways, we've agreed to help out Martha Brautz and explore the old fort to figure out the locus of magic, and we leave off at that. Also, for making friends, making friends, feeding a rat, and being hit by a brick, we get a flash of insight and gain the confidence to apply more of what we know to battle. El Presidente DM also advises us that the warlocks probably get a trickle of horror or inspiration from their respective patrons. We've reached level 2!
My Recap Of The Petting Zoo Squad's (Group A's) Session 4 As Much As I Was Able To Process It - March 12 2022
We start off still in the forest, about to check out the fort with Martha, Jabin, and Koala. As we approach, we see it's really big (like, over the curvature of the landscape big; we don't see where it ends; it's certainly in ruins but the walls go on past the horizon). Got some of those medieval embedded towers on it and everything. As we head in, we see that it looks moderately well-trafficked: there are some cobwebs but not super densely; no long-dead bones, etc. But as we head deeper--more towards the basement area--Martha tells us to be careful not to touch anything, which will probably be a problem for our group, since there are a number of old gold coins dangling from the ceiling on some thin threads (evocative of spider silk and spiders, but not actually spider silk or spiders). Given that the high-level sorceress told us not to touch anything, we don't.
As we follow, she touches a tile somewhere, a trap triggers in front of her, she moves on, and this repeats for a bit; she doesn't seem particularly worried, except one spot where she's caught off-guard, triggers a portcullis to drop, and is separated from us on the other side. She tells us she'll try to find a way to get rid of the door and tries casting a spell, but it looks like the magic kind of fizzles out as it wraps around the bars. Obviously, this is a problem. To make matters worse, we hear a booming roar from her side of the portcullis. She says she thinks she can handle herself, but again we should just try not to touch anything and stuff. So we just sit here vaguely uncomfortable in a room with some hanging gold coins.
Nadyn Detect Magic Rituals on the portcullis and determines it has Divination and Enchantment on it (so yeah it's actually enchanted and she wasn't just trying to fool us or something). In the process, we also determine that the coins on the threads are enchanted too (with Illusion). We're understandably a bit put off by the situation, but we don't want to just ditch her because then we don't get paid. Clara's concerned at first, but remembers that Martha is pretty capable on her own, and worries more about the group itself (and swears she's fine being stuck with a bird). At the very least she wants to know how/why it happened and whether a similar fate to Martha's might befall them. (Thankfully, according to paladin's new Divine Sense, it is not Smelly in here.)
We decide to chill out for a bit. Jabin's just kind of staying put and says that he thinks we should do what the nice lady says because he hates this forest. He shows us Koala the friendly rat again. Clara pets the rat. Luna also pets the rat and asks "how are you doing, little Koala?", unintentionally using Beast Speech which she picked up for level 2.
Koala: "What am I doing? I am in Mister's hand." Luna is surprised she can hear the rat and asks if Koala is comfortable in said hand. Koala: "Mister feeds me things, and he is very nice." Luna: "Well, that is very good to hear. You are good and you deserve a nice person and food." Rat then boops Luna's finger. Luna thanks Koala and says he is very cute. Koala: "I am big and strong, but I guess I am cute too." Luna: "Yes, you can be both!"
Nadyn is confused at how the warlock can suddenly speak to rats; Luna doesn't really know either (she can talk at least to this one specific rat?) but says that the rat is very nice, and she relays what it said. Nadyn agrees that Rat Is Very Good and gives the ratto some pattos. Tsuki is less interested and shrugs, but acknowledges that Jabin doesn't need to die, because he at least treats the rat okay. (This is apparently his one redeeming quality.)
We decide to take a short rest; just in case, Tsuki gives himself some extra False Life HP. Unfortunately, our rest is interrupted by the sound of scuttling; Luna hears it first (catgirl senses and such) and lets the party know that there's some Very Not Human footsteps coming towards us from the direction we entered from, and that we should quickly decide to either go down another corridor or prepare to fight. We get in position for the latter and start preparing our actions as the scuttling gets closer.
Several sessions ago, when we had encountered that ghoul in the clearing, there was just one. Now there are three: Brains, Liver, and Spleen. They're like "raaaah give us your bones", except that they don't talk, only in our hearts. On second thought, actually, it turns out ghouls can speak, so we find out Spleen uses they/them pronouns and Brains uses she/her pronouns. Anyways, we're gonna fight. We mostly waste our ready round with misses, but we get a decent amount of overkill between Luna blasting Brain and Nadyn whispering at it, Clara annihilating Spleen, and Luna's and Tsuki's blasts hitting Liver hard. We notice more enemies in the background towards the end of the fight, which is a bit disconcerting.
Having handily dispatched these ghouls, we watch a Cinematic™ where roughly a gazillion ghouls approach, led by a guy recognizable by Tsuki as: The Zombie Prettyboy From Session 2!! He's a bit more human-looking than last time, maybe only looks like half-undead, but not pretty enough to have rose petals in the background or anything. The human half, though, apparently looks very familiar to Nadyn, with the almost-glowy blue eyes. She asks if he's "the guy with the holes in his shirt". He laughs this off, and he's definitely not wearing the same robes as the Church of Light guy (much more tattered). Apparently he's here for Jabin, who is unarmed and too hungry to fight, and says, "Give me him, and we will give you no trouble." Luna asks why exactly animu guy wants Jabin. Animu responds, "It's obvious, isn't it? He's a Vanecian soldier." Nadyn points out that he's a Vanecian deserter, in case that makes a difference. Animu responds, "And a coward at that. You may have dispatched these, but I doubt you can hold off this entire group of ravenous ghouls." Jabin cowers a bit but responds, "Fine, but don't hurt them." Jabin asks us to take care of Koala and not let him go hungry again, and entrusts Koala to Luna. Clara, being a paladin concerned with justice and doing the right thing, nonetheless recognizes a futile fight and settles for saving the party and Jabin from being outright ghoul food.
Jabin's about to face the music when we suddenly hear a very loud noise from the other side of the portcullis: Martha Brautz, running away from a really huge giant rat (and we pause to witness the scene in Action Movie Time). The giant rat is big enough to crush the portcullis enough for her to blow through it with some kind of force spell. The giant rat, hurt, runs off. Martha asks what we've gotten ourselves into (hey lady we did not touch anything) and tells us to get away; she casts a fire spell against all those ghouls (which Animu sidesteps), and Jabin runs back to our group. In Skyrim guard fashion, Martha says "I know you," and Animu responds with some action movie villain dialogue about her farcing failing her, Martha slowly creeping up to face him, saying he shouldn't be alive, then the guy's all like "I shouldn't but hey I am alive and look at what I can do", she's like "I obliterated half your army", he's like "I can make more easily", and as this goes on she paces around, but stops in front of Tsuki. In her hands is a stone with a rune on it, and she telepathically tells him to "take it and get the hell out of here". Tsuki obliges as Martha continues the action dialogue with "I can't believe you did this, I have so many questions, you're out of your mind, maybe we can talk this out, blah blah blah..." (exact quote)
Tsuki recognizes that this rune stone teleports everyone in a 120-foot radius, and when we realize this, we slowly back away towards the ruined portcullis. Animu Prettyboy doesn't really care about us, and the stealthier among us can back away just fine, but once Jabin gets far enough away, we're noticed, and we have to book it. Martha slows down Animu's pursuit by hitting him hard in the stomach and tells us to leave, as this stunned state will allow of us to get far enough away. With the meta knowledge of the teleport radius, we try and stand exactly far enough away to get Martha but not Animu, and Tsuki activates the rune. In true PowerPoint tacky fade to white style, as the teleport takes hold, the guy tries to get into range, but is handily stopped by Martha who apparently crits on some roll that President made.
We fall butt-first and find ourselves in a very cramped inn room; around us are the sounds of bard-core music, and there's a crackling fire right outside the room. This seems like a premium location in whatever inn we're in. Martha's here too, but she's pretty tall, so she feels a bit squished and asks the party to please get off her (we roll off slowly). She says, "That could have ended really badly. He could have come through here, and then you would have all been screwed. Maybe the range on those things shouldn't be so large." Sure enough, some of the illusiony coins teleported along with us, with the thread attached, along with an upturned chest, and Martha's too busy dusting herself off to notice the stupidity we're about to get up to in this instant. Nadyn pokes one of the coins and, barely passing a Wisdom throw, is not inflicted with The Gold Seeker's Curse. Tsuki messes with the chest and, having barely passed the Dexterity throw, finds that his hand sticks a bit like glue briefly (but he's able to pull it away), and the chest opens a bit and shows some eyes and teeth and arms (yeah, the mimic found a mimic). Martha, noticing this, sighs and hits it with a Magic Missile, and from that shock, it immediately freezes up and takes the form of a regular chest again. Martha follows up with a whup to the head; it opens, and its enormous tongue rolls out with bunch of gold coins on it. She chastises it and it immediately becomes inert again.
Martha mentions that, while we ostensibly saved her life, and this inn in the heart of Bordeauriva did not remove her stuff from earlier, we still have all our weapons in the Controlled part of town, which we know is a no-no. In our cases, she can just pay some guards off, so we're probably fine; on the other hand, Jabin probably won't fly since he's in clearly Vanecian garb. Nadyn, having three spare sets of clothes, offers his choice of either a beggar outfit or a maidservant outfit as a temporary disguise. Jabin picks the latter after being convinced that it could pass as a tunic if he hikes up the skirt enough, and he says he will change as soon as he's not being watched by five other people. Luna also offers Koala back, Jabin thanks her for taking care of him (even if only for five minutes), and takes Koala back. Jabin mentions, "I'm surprised Koala wasn't afraid of you--" then realizes that was probably racist against catgirls, but Luna laughs it off and says it's no problem. Jabin goes and changes into the maidservant outfit. Martha's paid off a few guards to stare at the door and pointedly ignore us. We head back to The Slowest Imaginable Clerk and drop off our weapons all legal-like and with secure passwords. Then, we "drop off" Martha at an inn in the high-class area where Theodore told us to meet him, and Theodore's perpetually slightly grumpy face lights up when he sees his sister. He regains his composure after a brief moment of excitement and says, "Well done. I see you enjoyed the opera, and I'm sure we will know of the details soon, but here is your reward; payment for services rendered," and gives us each 100 gold coins. Martha herself seems a bit aloof, only half paying attention to what's going on at the moment. Nadyn takes the opportunity to go outside and prestidigitate pressure-wash Jabin's old clothes.
Anyways, mission complete, we're back in town and the world is our oyster other than a few loose ends. First, to help Jabin moving forward, we come up with an alter ego to try and take him through the refugee intake process. Johnson? No, Dwayne! Dwayne Johnson! He also needs to think of a place he ostensibly comes from (because Vanecia won't fly); he briefly considers Kadu-Vi, but Nadyn suggests asking The Only Full Human In the Party, Clara. She pretty openly suggests namedropping the Cordovan family and that she can vouch for him as someone she knows (which is true by technicality), and that he used to work as a bricklayer (which is true by an even looser technicality). Nadyn heads to a shop and splurges on a traveller's outfit (1 gold) for Jabin so she can have her disguise back (and prestidigitate-power-washes said disguise afterwards for good measure). Dwayne-formerly-Jabin apologizes to Tsuki for throwing bricks, and thanks us for everything we've done (and promises to only throw bricks at people who are actively attacking him). He's got his new clothes and identity, Koala on his shoulder seems pretty happy about the newly-minted Dwayne "The Brick" Johnson being less stressed, and we take him to Fantasy Denny's But Cheaper for lunch, which he devours ravenously and very happily and then tells us to let him know if we ever need anything or want to see Koala.
Clara goes off with him to filter him through the refugee process and vouches with her family crest, and we make it through without incident, though Sleepyjoe from Session 1 is involved: he's a bit better off, having received word from his family after all, but he's evidently a bit of a worrywart regardless because he's noticeably sleep-deprived again. He does say it's nice to see us again, seeing as we're great at slaying zombies and such, and bird what's your name again? True to form, Tsuki just repeats the question back at him as he did for his own intake. And it proceeds the same way as last time, devolving into them making bird noises at each other. Nadyn starts playing a bardcore version of The Chicken Dance. Secretary taps along to the beat. This goes on for a bit until a commander lady steps in and the paper-pusher stops tapping; commander clears her throat very loudly (masterfully so), and Sleepy Joe looks up and says "sorry ma'am" but whispers to Tsuki "I will win, you haven't seen the last of me". Tsuki responds telepathically, "well, they don't know I can talk"... Sleepyjoe, being sleepy, doesn't realize it wasn't an audible talk and says, "Aha, I knew you could talk!" which exasperates the commander further. She gives paper-pusher the order to lock Sleepyjoe in a room for 6 hours until he gets some sleep, and paper-pusher drags him off to do so, for his own good.
Now that we've gotten Dwayne "The Brick" Johnson his refugee paperwork with technically-noble connections, and it's time to tie up some more story threads. To start, Nadyn storms into the Church of Light looking for Holy Robe Guy, and she quickly finds him teaching some acolytes how to meditate properly, what matters during religious meditation, etc. He sees Nadyn (though surprised at first) and greets her, but then Nadyn's like "do you know another guy! who looks just like you! but more zombie?" At this, he looks off to the side and says, "I used to have an identical twin, but... he died two years ago. I don't think this is very funny. I'd prefer not to be made fun of." Tsuki, having tagged along, identically mimics Animu Prettyboy's line about Jabin's cowardice, hoping church guy would recognize the voice. Church guy freezes when he hears the voice, clearly wondering what's going on--"Wait, what? Where? How?" Nadyn explains some of it--just the "spotting him in the woods and he wasn't being attacked by undead" part for now--and he asks if we could speak somewhere more private later tonight. Nadyn offers to meet at the inn, at specifically Martha and the mimic's room, and this scheme will definitely go perfectly well.
It doesn't take that long for nighttime after all this. We meet with Rose Slowclerk again, who's like "You guys are coming and forth very often today, aren't you?" We go through the same song and dance (Nadyn uses the same password as before, which displeases her), and then make our way to the inn from before. Martha's not in her room, but we presumably have access to it anyways because the guards were still paid to let us through, and she doesn't have much here anyways, basically just a bottle of perfume... and the mimic, sitting sadly in the corner, having been bullied by this high level sorceress. Tsuki feeds it a gold piece, which it takes like a pill... and then pets it. It's very sticky, so it's hard to pet it continuously, but it feels like a regular chest otherwise? Regardless, it seems tame enough for now.
A while after we arrive, the clergy guy comes in--in clergy robes and all--and immediately requests to know exactly how we got that uncanny impression of his brother's voice. Nadyn asks how much trouble this guy could get us in, with Clara also asking if it would be possible for us to be bailed out if so. Robeguy responds that he could get us in a fair bit of trouble since people trust what he says (despite having no political power per se). But, as he says this, he's surprisingly timid--"but I don't really think in terms of how much power I can wield over people, since that's not really my role. But I don't understand what you're talking about with zombies--he's gone, I saw his body, I buried him in Corroza, I don't understand." Nadyn explains that there are zombies throughout the woods with varying ages of Vanecian armor and that Animu Prettyboy was leading some undead, and she asks if that tracks with what Robeguy knows of him. He responds, "We used to be in the army together. I left for the church because I couldn't deal with it anymore--my brother was a bit of a troublemaker, but I wouldn't say he would be a lich..." We notice that he has a nervous tic of holding his elbows as he continues, "I don't understand. Who--was anyone else there with you?" Nadyn follows up with the actual story: we were helped by the owner of this room, and we were kind of expecting her to be here, but she may have gone back to the fort in the woods that she was investigating where we saw Robeguy's presumed brother.
We head back to Theodore's with Robeguy, and thankfully Martha's there too; they seem to be arguing about something as their butler lets us in. At that, they stop their argument, and Theodore recognizes us and asks, "Oh, you again; how may I help you?" Nadyn introduces "this guy whose name escapes me"--turns out we never asked, but his name is Aaron (but pronounced Aron)--"whose brother is the guy you're tracking down". Aaron introduces himself as clergy of the Church of Light who came here with These Fine Folks to ask about--to get to the bottom of--(he's a bit nervous)... Martha, for her part, recognizes him and gets to the point.
Martha: "I know you; we've met before, haven't we?" Aaron: "Yes ma'am, I believe we have met a few times." Martha: "Yes, um, I was afraid something like this would happen..." She trails off, but continues: "Aaron, I'm sorry that I have to rekindle a probably painful memory, but did you notice anything when your brother was given his burial rites? Did you notice anything off with him?" Aaron shrugs and says, "I wasn't very religious back then, so I don't truly know." He stops to think. "I know they had trouble lighting the candles, but I thought it was the wind." Martha: "Aren't these funerals usually indoors?" Aaron: "No, it was a mass funeral for soldiers, so it had to be done quickly." Martha seems satisfied by this answer, nods, and says, "Well, thank you, Aaron." Aaron asks if what our party was saying is true, since he justifiably puts a bit more stock in the words of a high-level sorceress than in our party. Martha nods again and says, "I think it might be true. I think that man is Ricardo, and I'm sorry you had to hear about it this way, but I have to know what happened that day. Do you mind?" Aaron: "Do I mind what?" Martha gestures with her hand, and something causes Aaron to shiver a bit. Martha: "Interesting. Alright then, I think what they're saying is true. I think he is indeed your brother, and I saw your memory of the burial." From what she saw, apparently, a lot of things went subtly wrong with the burial that Aaron didn't mention.
With that conversation done, we've done yet another good deed for the day. Not only did we create Dwayne "The Brick" Johnson who will bless Corroza with his rat, we also, uh... depressed a clergyman. But we're sort of helping give him closure! He asks more clarifying questions to Martha--maybe has trouble believing it but eventually does take her word for it. Martha mentions that she's got to check on that mimic and those coins, but Tsuki mentions that the mimic's doing okay and has been fed.
Martha: "You... fed the mimic?" Tsuki: "Yeah!" Clara: "Wait, what did you feed it?" Tsuki: "A coin." Clara: "Oh. Guess you're down a coin for when you go shopping."
Anyways, Martha gives each of us another 20 gold for our investigative work. We ask when we're going back into those ruins for another shot, and she says it's up to us. Regarding Animu Prettyboy, Tsuki mentions that we're probably on his hit list, and we should definitely deal with him when we have a chance. We probably can't just do a training montage--the best we could do would be killing zombies, which we probably shouldn't do in the woods where he commands an army of undead, though maybe we can go back at a higher level. And, on second thought, maybe it was a mistake to spare a rat in medieval times with poor sanitation near a refugee camp, but eh, even that could give us some grind quests later if Koala finds a partner, and he was friend-shaped anyways.
We take our well-earned long rest and the morning leaves us with our remaining plot threads: Weirdbird knows there's another triton in Bordeauriva, and Luna saw Dr. Alphonse get run off from the woods that one time. But first, we receive a letter telling us that for whoever touched the coin (Nadyn, oops), it had two curses, not one; the first was the gold-seeking curse (which was avoided), and the second was a tracing curse, so now a particular someone could just activate a scry on Nadyn at any point and know where she is. But she can just sing Never Gonna Give You Up 24/7 as a deterrent, so then there's no problem, right? Martha warns us that maybe we should go somewhere else, because it would not be safe to stay in Bordeauriva for very long, and it would also be good for us to get more training to defend ourselves should the need arise. In any case, we go to the Church of Light and inquire about curse removal; a crusty non-smiling old cleric woman mentions that it's 50 gold, but after haggling with her based on It's Dangerous To Have Spyware In Town and We Did A Good Killing Zombies, she realizes This Is Actually Important And We're Not Just Mischievous Kids and removes it for only 5 gold, but tells us not to bother her again.
Back to the two potential plot threads right in front of us, hint hint. The paladin is very tired of all this undead stuff. Tsuki isn't really sure how to bring up another fish person. This leaves Luna, who shares with the group that Dr. Alphonse is a professor from the college at Albaiin--her village--and was run off for trying to investigate something in those woods a couple days ago. Maybe he would be relevant to what we're currently facing? Since he might have been researching the undead problem or something, it could be worth trying to find him. We ask around for Dr. Alphonse and find him pretty quickly in in the outer city (since he doesn't live here.
Alphonse: "Hullo, young people, how can I help you today?" Luna: "Hi, you probably don't know me, but I've seen you around; we're both from the same village! I noticed the other night that you were looking in at the forest--you seemed to be researching or something like that? I was wondering what exactly you were doing, because we might be working towards the same problem here." Alphonse: "I doubt you're very interested in herbs--you seem like a more sporty young lady." Luna: "That's where you're wrong; I'm very much not sporty and very much interested in herbs!" Alphonse: "Ah, a herbalist, I see! Well, there's this rare sort of--historical interest, really"--he shows one of those old-style carbon prints--"These carvings from some of the ruins in the woods all seem to refer to a plant that does not exist!" He describes the botanical features of this plant, which doesn't match any known species. "But the other day, I found a specimen in those woods that lines up with it, and I don't know what this means--maybe they have a unique biome, but the only other sighting of this plant was in our own town, Albaiin! If only I knew why this plant shows up, because nobody really knows the lifecycle of this plant, and it has no way of procreating, so to speak." Luna: "Hmm, that's very interesting. When we were in the forest before, we did see a lot of Interesting Things, so it might make sense for it to be a particularly unique biome..." Alphonse: "It is a point of pride that this has been sighted in our village (though we haven't been able to transplant it), so I don't think that's it--but if these scrolls are to be believed, this plant was once much more common in the area. Another interesting correlation is that these plants were often found near a "silent ruin" of Deerhall(?) which... Well, those ruins are not very safe to go down, and there are tall tales that they may contain dangerous magic in them. Perhaps it has to do with these ruins; maybe they travel when the ruins are open? I'd need more data to confirm." Nadyn: "...So you're saying there are zombies in Albaiin, too?" Alphonse: "well, nobody goes to those ruins and comes back alive... or, period." Nadyn: "Well, that's heartening." Alphonse: "Indeed, but it seems this plant may have something to do with these ruins, and this civilization is the only record we have outside of modern botany." Luna: "Do you happen to know exactly why nobody has returned when they went there? what makes it so dangerous?" Alphonse: "If you go down deep enough, it is guarded by sentries; they seem adamant that no one pierce through their defenses, but if you explore shallowly enough, perhaps they could be reasoned with, as long as you respect their boundaries and do not anger them. But many people do end up angering the sentries, because in Vanecia, the sentinels are for some reason deactivated, and people have found some interesting magic there--on the other hand, the sentries are mostly still activated in Corroza." Luna: "Well, I might be a little worried about a PARTICULAR BIRD pissing them off, but other than that, maybe we should take a look? Up for going to my hometown?" Tsuki: "How do we even know about the ruins if nobody comes back?" Alphonse: "Oh, nothing of interest in the shallows if you're only looking for treasure, but nobody who goes deep comes back." Luna: "Well, rare herbs are a kind of treasure!" Alphonse: "Perhaps the herb has some kind of magical effect; there must be some reason for its disappearance after it was so widespread." Nadyn: "So, if it's only been spotted in 1. ruins that nobody comes back from and 2. dangerous undead woods, that doesn't say good things about what the land must have been like in the past if it was more populous." Alphonse: "Perhaps, but that would explain why we haven't been able to transplant it anywhere else." Tsuki: "Might be worth a look." Alphonse: "Yes, it is hard to convince people to go into ruins that have been looked at by historians before, but it's my curiosity--at my age, I have done all the important work in my life, why not indulge in a bit of curiosity?" Nadyn: "And we can meet all Luna's old friends!" Alphonse: "Right, you're from Albaiin as well! A tabaxi is quite unusual--are you related to [placeholder name for Luna's mom], by any chance? You know, when I was starting out, she was one of my best students way back in the day; it's good to see her daughter is such an adventurous sort!" Luna: "What a small world, I guess." Alphonse: "Yes, the world is quite small if you exclude all the random people you meet that you do not know!" (Fair point.) Tsuki: "We know a rat." (Yes, we do know a rat.) Alphonse: "If you would like--I am leaving this town soon, it is quite dangerous to go into an undead forest by myself, and having already gotten this specimen it's unfortunately not doing well." He shows us a potted plant, and it definitely looks kind of on the dying side of healthy; "Alas, it's very hard to transplant."
Deciding against going into undead army-infested woods with a possibly-lich after us, and not wanting to light said forest on fire as a precaution, we decide to head to Luna's hometown with all her old friends! and maybe some new friends! and a doctor who just likes plants a lot, man! Next time, to Albaiin! (Tsuki also handles his shopping list with the DM post-session.)
My Recap Of The (Now Officially) Petting Zoo Squad's Session 5 As Much As I Was Able To Process It - April 23 2022
Luna's professor, as it turns out, insists at the moment that he can handle himself; so as the rest of us are heading outside of town for something to do, we encounter a buff triton lady arguing with a very drunk man who has a prominent beer belly and no shirt.
Drunk man: "I'm the best teacher in the land! Master Wang's lessons are the best!" Triton lady: "You couldn't hit a child if they were standing right in front of you! You're scamming people, you're always drunk--you're supposed to be teaching children!" Wang: "I charge a fair price for my services! And it's not my fault one of them disappeared--why do you think you're better than I am?" Triton lady (exasperated): "Fine, I just hope they didn't go into the zombie-infested woods", noticeably so done with this guy.
Wang, we see, has this awfully dyed black belt that's clearly green underneath. Meanwhile, triton lady has growths on her hair that (as Nadyn could tell because physiology and culture) are making subtle panicky "I am screwed right now" movements; Nadyn also recognizes the triton lady's colors as being part of a lower "caste" (for lack of a better word)--still well-armed, but her family is not high-ranking in triton society.
Tsuki vaguely recognizes drunk guy, but doesn't know from where. Clara asks if we knew him from the bar, but it's deconfirmed by President. The guards nearby are kind of bored and overworked--around here there's mostly military police that do not give a care, it's not their problem, etc.--so Nadyn shushes the guards and goes and punches the dude right in the belly and asks the triton if this man is bothering her.
Wang: "Oh, young lady, I'm sorry for hitting you with my belly, you should watch where you're going!" Triton lady: "Is he bothering me? Ugh, he's infuriating me, if that counts as bothering." Nadyn: "It does--and good to know he deserved that punch." Triton lady: "I was supposed to be this protector of the child of a very notable woman, and I don't know what to do; he was enrolled with this fool, and--I don't know how this man has a legal school here--the kid ran off to undergo The Trials." Wang: "The Trials of the Warrior. Yes, a very good student, one of my best; he'll be fine." Triton lady (facepalming): "HE'S SIX." Wang: "Nah, they're always fine. He'll be fine." Nadyn: "What are these trials, exactly?" Wang: "The trial of the five elements: earth, fire, wind, water, and metal; they are trials of the mind. you must take the MYSTICAL SOUP"--which is definitely a psychoactive drug from the way he describes it--"and journey to the west, and then face your inner demons, and from that you will become a strong warrior." Tsuki's: "...you let a six-year-old do this?" Wang: "Yeah, he wanted to do this. He said, 'Master, I believe I can do the Trial of the Warrior,' and so he went. Might have been yesterday, or the day before?" Nadyn asks how the triton lady plays into this. Triton lady: "I need to find the kid or he might get hurt--or worse, I don't get paid, and I'm really screwed and I really need that money. I don't know the lay of these lands, if you could help me find him, I'll give you a 50% cut of whatever she's paying me".
Clara's excited to do her good deed of the day by getting to find the kid. Wang: "You must travel west of Bordeauriva into the plain, and then everything shall be clear." Triton lady: "Ugh, forget it, he's always like this. He's drunk off his butt right now, his liver is probably preserved in alcohol, we probably won't get much useful information; we should just look west". Wang: "Of course, you must do this trial and many others to achieve the rank of master as I have." Nadyn: "Clearly it doesn't involve anyone who's good with fabric, if your belt is anyone to go by." Wang: "A warrior does not have to be good with fabric!" Tsuki insights this vaguely familiar drunk man by looking really hard to see if he's just being full of himself or drunk rambling... Tsuki, having escaped from a cult, has to rely on a lot of non-verbal cues, and can tell there's a certain sharpness/lucidity that maybe indicates that it's not entirely drunk rambling.
So we get ready to start heading west. But just before we do, he's like "here, this map will help you" and just gives us a huge bowl--we don't know where he was holding it, probably under his belly--with liquid in it, swirling around itself in a perpetual rainbow vortex. Wang: "Here you go; you may want to use this to navigate west of Bordeauriva". Nadyn: "...how?" Wang: "Obviously, you drink it." Clara: "All of us?" Wang: "This will allow you to see things that you will not see otherwise". Luna investigates the fluid--but it just looks like some supernatural rainbow sludge without any discernible ingredients or smell. Nadyn: "How much of this do we need to drink?" Wang: "About a cup will do." Triton lady: "You can't seriously be considering drinking that." Nadyn: "There's nothing seriously about us " Triton lady: "How about: before anyone does anything rash, we go out and search first, and if nothing works, we can try the strange liquid then?" Luna: "Probably a good idea." Clara: "Sounds good to me." Nadyn: "I don't think we got your name?" Triton lady: "It's Valeryl." Nadyn: "Okay! I'm Nadyn, this is Luna and Clara and... uh, I'll let the bird introduce himself if he wants to." Tsuki obliges with mind-speak. Valeryl picks up on this and asks if he could minimize the mind-speaking. Tsuki responds that it's kind of hard to talk otherwise. Valeryl: "Well, nice to meet you. Let's go." Also, Master Wang has disappeared. We don't know where he went. He ditched us. And clearly, he's not a very good master, which we can tell because he's always drunk.
Our search takes us to a vaguely plainsy but lightly wooded area with a big lake nearby. Clara climbs a tree to get a better view and sees a few temporary tents way off in the distance, with some smoke, but can't really tell what kind of tent or occupants; she climbs down and informs the party. Nadyn belatedly realizes it's probably a good idea to Detect Magic Ritual on the rainbow slurry; doing so, she finds that it doesn't have any particular school of magic (it's just vaguely magical) and lets the party know. We walk along the rolling hills until we come across a singular tent and a campfire. Standing next to it is a little goblin with a poor-quality spear and a crown, saying (in an extremely high-pitched voice) "I AM MEEP, KING OF THESE WOODS. YOU ARE TRESPASSING ON MY TERRITORY." Everyone but Nadyn (who rolled a nat 1 on perception) sees another goblin nearby with a slightly smaller crown and a bow and arrow (named Peem) who chimes in "INTRUDERS! ATTACK!", and to make matters more interesting a couple black bears named Bosco and Naga come out of the woods.
Meep hits Nadyn with a thrown spear. Tsuki hits Meep with an eldritch blast. Naga loves eating birds and goes to attack Tsuki, but misses. Nadyn misses a vicious mockery on Meep. Clara attacks Naga (apologetically). Peem fires the bow at Clara and somehow actually hits??. Luna hexes and eldritch blasts Meep. Bosco seems more curious than aggressive and goes up to Luna and sniffs her. Meep's like "WAIT! I HAVE ANOTHER SPEAR!" and grabs it and chucks it at Nadyn, but misses this time. Tsuki blasts Naga, who is now angry and slashes back (but misses). Nadyn vicious mockeries Meep (specifically taunting about missing with the spear). Valeryl joins the fight and hits Naga. Clara leaves the bear and swings (and misses) at Meep. Peem shouts "THE QUEEN IS IN DANGER! ATTACK!" but crit-misses, nonetheless following up with "I AM THE CROWN GUARD, I WILL NOT LET YOU HURT THE KING!" (and Clara's like, ooookay?).
During the battle, Luna tries talking to Bosco. Luna (a bit anxiously): "Hi there! we mean you no harm, we're just trying to pass through to find someone who's missing." Bosco: "do you have food." Luna: "Yeah, do you want a bit?" Bosco: "yes" So Luna gives Bosco some rations, as a treat. Bosco: "thanks for food." In retrospect, Luna can tell that he's probably been fed before and is kind of the reason why you shouldn't feed bears. But Bosco walks off and happily eats the jerky or whatever. He'll be a nuisance to someone else later.
Meep realizes NO MORE SPEARS but shouts, "THE QUEEN WILL NEVER SURRENDER!" (it seems goblins do not have a coherent sense of gender), tries punching Clara with a fist, and somehow does 8 damage?? Tsuki blasts Naga again and sends it off to the eternal bird feast in the sky. Nadyn healing words Clara and mocks Meep again (tripping them up with some extra silvery barbs). Valeryl swings and misses. Peem hits Tsuki. Luna blasts Meep. Meep, clearly worse for wear, starts freaking out.
Meep: "THE KING IS TOPPLED! I RELINQUISH MY CROWN TO YOU! YOU ARE NOW MEEP! I CROWN YOU MEEP!" Meep throws the crown at Clara (who catches it) and runs away. It's a very light bronze crown, a bit uneven (goblin craftsmanship and all). Peem: "NO! MY QUEEN! COME BACK! YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS LATER, I WILL BE BACK!" Peem runs off after Meep. So, apparently, Clara's the meep of the forest now. Valeryl has no idea what just happened. Peem: "MEEP IS KING OF THE FOREST YOU HAVE A GRAVE RESPONSIBILITY NOW BUT WE'LL BE BAAAAACK." Clara: "wait do I have to take care of the forest now" Peem: "RESPONSIBILITYYYYYY. YOU MUST GET YOUR OWN PEEM"
Bosco finishes eating and wants more food. Clara obliges. Bosco is super happy and monches some more. Luna pats the bear (just a little bit before Bosco gets grumpy). Clara considers delegating meephood to Bosco but worries that he might abuse such powers to take everyone's food. We take a short rest around the convenient goblin campfire and sing some campfire songs for extra healing. Tsuki goes and butchers Naga and manages to get a day's rations for everyone. Clara contemplates whether meephood should now be part of her oath. Nadyn picks up the 2x CRUDDY JAVELINS to add to her arsenal.
Tsuki checks out the tent... yup, it's a goblin tent. Written on the wall in faded berry juice is MEEP MEEP MEEP MEEP ALL HAIL MEEP MEEP MEEP ad nauseam. There's also a bed roll and a short martial arts pamphlet that details some Secret Martial Arts Technique that Valeryl takes a look at... and she replies that this is awful technique, actually. Of course, it's signed "Love, Master Wang". Clara pockets it as evidence.
We don't see footsteps or anything, other than the goblins', so we just... keep searching the forest yelling (after we find out the child's name is Tom the Child) "Tom! Where are you, Tom?", and as we search through this lightly forested area, we come across another goblin--but this one doesn't seem aggressive, just hanging out in a hammock, smoking something questionable. Gobblino (so named by the power of Owlbear Rodeo and also having a very high-pitched voice and using he/they pronouns out of convenience): "oh! there's the meep! meep, I am at your service!" He seems to be talking to Clara, because she's still holding the crown. Gobblino: "it's unbecoming of a meep to merely hold the crown! you must wear it!" Nadyn stares at the crown for 10 minutes just to confirm that this silly goblin trinket which surely they wouldn't have bothered to magic is--oh. there's some weird transfiguration magic going on with it. uh-oh. good thing we didn't put it on lol, Clara's just been holding it Gobblino: "whoever wears the crown shall become the meep and the leader of the goblins! the meep shall protect our lands from invaders!" Clara had thought this was only protecting the forest, but now that it's also the goblins, she questions whether she is now bound by oath to not kill goblins. Gobblino says she must protect goblins from the humans (awkwaaaard) and that the guards walking along the roads are invaders. Clara offers Gobblino the crown; Gobblino refuses, but says Clara is very brave for taking on the responsibility of meep, and that she must have bested the previous meep in battle, as whoever bests the previous meep in battle shall be the new meep.
Clara: "Have you seen a human child named Tom?" Gobblino: "oh, humans do not send children to attack goblins, but I did see a human child run into the trees and then disappear into thin air." Clara: "is there anything unusual about these trees, like things hiding in them?" Gobblino helpfully says that the trees have birds in them (and clearly doesn't understand the question). Nadyn: "Could there be Bad Invading Humans in the trees?" Gobblino: "humans, yes, sometimes, but they stick to roads. many people attack us with shields and swords and spears and axes and trebuchets"...oh (we realize, it's just the soldiers being sent to Bordeauriva; nothing about attacking the goblins. Gobblino: "lots of humans always preparing for war! we must prepare in kind! I have done my part! look, I have made arrows for bows!" Gobblino gives us a bunch of twigs that cannot be used for arrows. Gobblino: "present! for you!" Clara, as meep, graciously accepts the twigs. To be on the safe side--not to put it on and risk transfiguration, but not wanting to disrespect the duty of meep--accessorizes with the crown by clipping it to her waist. President ominously takes note of this. Gobblino: "thank you for protecting us against the humans!" Clara: "Don't worry, we'll make sure nothing bad happens to you; thank you for your help! (And yeah, nobody sent that kid to do battle, he's not a soldier.)"
So now that we've spoken to this goblin Gobblino, we can search the forest some more... or maybe, we suppose, we could force-feed the questionable rainbow slurry to the goblin. Clara finds this morally objectionable, but Tsuki (being much more fine with deception) tells Gobblino that the meep wants the goblin to drink some of the rainbow water as a token of our help. Gobblino cups some of the rainbow water in their hands (it remains swirly despite this), sips on it, and responds "tastes like water! rainbow water! mmm." Clara breathes a sigh of relief, having been quite concerned about the potential effects of the water. But then Gobblino sits on the ground and stares into space for a while, looking quite a bit like they're tripping, and then suddenly stands up and runs towards a tree. We follow, and just as the gobbo is about to hit the tree with his head, he disappears. Tsuki tries to follow, but no matter how much we poke it, it is clearly just a normal tree. Clara knocks on the tree trunk and also confirms that it's not a tricky tree. But there happens to be a bird's nest on the tree, and as revenge for disturbing its sleep, the bird in it deliberately poops on Clara. Apparently an effect of having the meep crown worn is that the bird chirping doesn't sound (to Clara) like regular chirping, but something vaguely along the lines of "get off my lawn". Clara apologizes "I'm not going to touch your tree anymore! I'm sorry!", not registering that only Luna in the group would have recognized the bird as saying something, so we assume Clara's just randomly talking to birds now.
Anyways... a kid and a goblin have disappeared into a tree owned by angry birds, so it looks like we have to drink the weird stuff? Luna has an idea though: Tsuki can telepathically speak--albeit only 30-60 feet--so he could try drinking the rainbow slurry and walking into the tree, and as long as he doesn't go to a different plane of existence, he could tell us where he went off to. Agreeing with the plan, Tsuki tries drinking the rainbow slurry too... head-first, like birds do. After drinking a good amount of it, the world around him suddenly begins to feel woooooozy, as if someone pressed rewind on a painting; it evolves into no colors, then no shades, then just lines, then nothing but a white canvas around him. But in front of him is a very friendly portal, also very rainbowy. Clearly the water has some psychoactive effects: the character is informed by President that he really wants to go into that portal. Tsuki, unfortunately, does not have the presence of mind to alert the party to what he's about to do (according to the wisdom save), but does cast False Life before going into the really shiny and pretty portal; he stands up, runs towards the portal, and everyone else sees Tsuki run towards the tree and vanish. We vaguely hear "wooooo" through the telepathic link, but after Tsuki goes through, the communication ceases.
The portal travel is like sci-fi hyperspace--all these weird colors swirling around while in transit--and Tsuki is thrown up into a foreign plane. It's really cold, there's a lot of wind gusting around, and as he looks at his feet, there's no floor, but somehow he's able to walk around anyways. There's a man made out of tornadoes in front of him... but he looks friendly enough? Tsuki: "Hiiiii?" Tornado man: (wind noises) Tsuki: "...good to know." Slowly, everything around Tsuki darkens and reforms into a very familiar place: he is back at the cave where the cult he was with for some of his life used to be, and everyone is doing weird culty shrine things like standing in a circle and beseeching some eldritch being for forbidden knowledge. Now, his memories of it are a bit hazy, but he can certainly tell that there are some details that aren't quite right; for example, the cult leader is Gobblino, which definitely isn't accurate, as Tsuki is able to recognize even in the inebriated state.
Back in the real world, we recognize that based on the abrupt communication blockage, Tsuki is either stoned out of his gourd or went to another plane. We agree to take some shots of the rainbow slurry all at the same time; the same thing that happened to Tsuki happens to each of us, rainbow portal and all: for Nadyn it's pretty and rainbowy and playing soft music; for Luna it has a picture of a puppy in it; for Clara it says GOOD DEEDS AHEAD. (Clearly this portal knows us too well.) But anyways, it's very shiny, and our characters have this immense urge to go through. Luna wants to pet the puppy. Nadyn tries to commit the rainbow portal song to memory. We end up in the same plane as Tsuki was on (the chilly air tornado guy plane), tornado man makes some wind noises at us, and the world slowly fades into a new one; we are all dressed in cultists' robes and beseeching an eldritch being for some sort of knowledge, and we know in our guts we must contact this being and find it. However, Gobblino (ostensibly the cult leader) is horrified when he sees Clara Meep walking around, and shouts, "I didn't know you were here, master!" Tsuki can still tell there's something wrong, but the other players are naively taking on their cultist roles; Clara doesn't exactly know what's going on, but it seems she's something the cult leader is afraid of, so she stares confused at him, wondering why her Cult Leader had such a reaction. Thus, we continue cluelessly with our cult duties.
Tsuki recognizes this as a memory, and that the reason he isn't trapped in a role is because he can fact check it against his own memory--for instance, he knows the other party members weren't in the cult, and in fact, the cult should all be dead now, given that they eventually did summon that eldritch being. Knowing that this isn't really his cult, he decides to walk up to Gobblino. Gobblino: "what are you doing? you are supposed to be managing the incense!" Tsuki: "That's not right. This is not right at all." Gobblino: "what is not right?" Tsuki: "You're not supposed to be here; they're not supposed to be here; everything is wrong." Gobblino: "are you shirking the cult??" Tsuki: "What's the cult here for?" Gobblino: "of course! we are summoning for Forbidden Knowledge!" Tsuki: "Does that involve summoning a god?" Gobblino: "the Old God!" Tsuki: "The Old Gods have already been summoned..." Gobblino: "already been summoned, you say?" Tsuki: "Yeah, you're kind of late. It's not happening again." Gobblino points at Tsuki and accuses him of heresy and unbelieverness. We all roll initiative and will tune in next session for some fighting.
(We are assured by President, on request, that the meep is such an important role that it transcends planes of existence, and if we were to lose or surrender this encounter, the victor would become the meep. Also Valeryl was staring at us all judgementally when we took the rainbow water, and did not come along.)
Last Edit: Sept 30, 2023 16:29:13 GMT -5 by Coaster
The party speedwalks after Hari, the green True Elf who seems partly vegetal, as they zoom through the village and into the forest, not looking back to check that we're following. Khitah gives Luna a lift to help her keep up. Some elves in the village greet Hari, who does not respond, which the elf villagers fondly accept as classic Hari.
Hari reaches the clearing of the cursed armour. Using the vegetal parts of their body like alchemical tools, they don some rubbery gloves and, with their hands thus protected, inspect the armour intently. They deduce that the curse is not a curse per se, but a key into a parallel world, which works through touch.
Luna asks if there is a way to undo this and Vyn asks about the origin of this magic, but Hari is unsure. They do mention that the effect was intended, and activated somehow. The stench around the armour would be due to someone dying long enough before being transported into the other world. Mara tells Hari they are so cool, of which Hari takes note. When we run out of questions, Hari immediately speedwalks home.
With this new knowledge, the party decides to throw together a sign to warn anyone from touching the armour for the moment. Vyn sacrifices the large spoon from her mess kit, and Luna carves "Cursed Armour, Do Not Touch" on it, in fairly legible handwriting. Khitah hangs a rope between two trees, and the spoon is left dangling over the armour. Mara learns that everyone is obsessed with shiny things and they didn't get the memo, and notes that they are the only member of the party to be immune to the Lure of Shiny. We also send a paper note into the Other World by pressing it to the armour with Mage Hand, telling any people trapped on the other side that this is being investigated.
Back at the village, Luna makes an amazingly realistic hawk sound - discovering a new talent - which successfully summons Gopal, whom we fill in on Hari's deductions. Gopal compliments Luna's fluency in bird and even mentions a possibility of joining the local elf militia.
Khitah asks if all elves age into plant people, and Gopal tells her about True Elves. Gopal and Mara discover that they both used to roll over in grass as children and pretend to be True Elves. Vyn approves of rolling over in grass, and we note that we should do some of that some time. Gopal asks us where a message from the other world might pop up, if the trapped people replied to ours. Gopal figures that the exit might reveal the position of the culprit behind the curse! We are unsure, but come up with plans to find that out.
Vyn suggests sending through an incredibly catchy, but old-fashioned song that has not been heard in a long time, so that someone may be given away by their humming! Gopal suggests the song "Dew on the Leaf" and promises to find a calligrapher to write the lyrics real well in Elvish. Mara suggests sending through something really smelly.
We also ask Gopal for news of the whole war situation. The elf community has mixed views on the refugees, given that the elves are not exactly Corrozan, and the Vanecians have been pestering them to switch loyalties to the winning side. We figure that it wouldn't do any harm if some refugees did some pretty good deeds in this village and got public recognition.
We go to the refugee chef we met on the road, who has partnered with a beer snob dwarf to renovate a tavern in Kadu-vi as a base of operations from which to teach the elves about true flavour. The dwarf has a fresh shipment of incredibly smelly dwarven hops with which to make beer. In order to get strong-smelling food to send through the cursed armour portal, Mara suggests to let the duo share their cuisine with a whole new woooorld! The chef offers a Corrozan paella. We suggest adding in the hops as a sauce. The dwarf is scandalised at first, but the chef is enthusiastic about fusion cuisine. Mara offers to work for the chef some time in return, and we get a strongly fragrant, very very unique dish in a basket.
At sunset we meet Gopal at the clearing, and we send the beautifully scripted lyrics through along with the dish. We also send a note for the people trapped on the other side, to explain that though this is a care package, it is also a trap, and they must send it back to our world if they can! But not with the note, since that would give away the trap! They must keep the note! Actually, to ensure that they *want* to keep the note, we decide to draw something awesome behind it. Vyn draws our glorious Khitah, who generously adds an autograph for extra value.
All that's left is to wait. We get back to the village for dinner, where we sample more traditional elf cuisine after Mara aggressively vows to enjoy it because Gopal implied they wouldn't. Dinner is a floral fruit salad with edible flowers in it in an edible floral bowl, and cheese soup made of local cheese. #cottagecore
In the village, among the chef's job postings for culinary work at his tavern and the hyped debate between the Astro[nomy/logy] Clubs, there are also advertisements for sorcerer magic, posted by someone who was a student of one Sir Gallatio, who happens to be the sorcerer Vyn was supposed to learn from in Mettei!
We try to go to bed, but oh no! Chef Paul comes running to us, so distraught that he is now speaking in a stronger French accent, for there is a giant rat in the tavern, and it's probably not come to apply for a chef position.
We rush to help, it's time for a Giant Rat in the Basement assignment! In the dimly lit cellar, a pair of yellow eyes watches us. Khitah intimidates Big Rat, which retreats into the darkness! Where we spot More Rats.
Luna casts Speak with Animals to speak with Big Rat. Big Rat turns out to be a working mother diligently raising the little ones. Luna offers to let them spend the night here peacefully before rehoming them. She thinks of letting them crash with us in our refugee hut, to which we emphasise the size of the rats, which is Giant, and also no thanks. So Luna plans to find them a home in the forest instead. The chef, realising Luna can speak to animals, takes advantage of this to ask her to talk to his dog. The dog, Sel, is a very good dog, who just loves to howl at the moon all night. Luna successfully reasons with him.
On the next day we search for a good home in the woods for a responsible rat mother to raise children, and find such a place thanks to Luna's scouting / the only good roll. We also buy five pounds of cheese crusts from an elderly elf cheesemaker, the better to lure the rats. Vyn is given a carrot by kindly elves doting on her bunny-ness. Then we realise that it may not be a good idea to cross the village in broad daylight with a giant rat family, so we wait, again, for night time.
We have to spend a pound of cheese to bribe the bratty rat kids into being good and following along, then begin the Trail of Cheese, with the party escorting the rats and keeping them on the path. Vyn gets a bit distracted by the forest at night, but Mara flails their Mage Hand to keep the kids in line. A cat comes a bit too close, but is intimidated by Khitah's presence - too much cat in the area! We are about to run out of cheese due to the initial bribe, when Vyn tragically sacrifices her carrot to complete the trail.
We successfully herd the rat family to their new country home. Says one rat child, "When I grow up, I'm gonna be a rat!" Another combat encounter foiled by pacifist characters! The chef thanks us.
In the morning, Gopal knocks on our door. With them is another elf, who looks much less friendly. Stern Looking Elf formally awards each party member 5 gold pieces, as a modest reward in tough times, for helping deal with the bad cursed armour problem. They tell us that the affair is now classified and confidential and that we will not get any more information on the case ever again. Suuure, we "won't" *wink wink*
We figure that this means we will work on it more secretly, but also Mara's backup plan is to enlist the chef's dog Sel to sniff down the paella's whereabouts, just in case...
It is morning-ish after our successful rat rehoming operation and after we received our modest reward for investigating that darn cursed armour.
While we wait for our Song, Fanart and Paella Combo trap to take effect, the party decides to escort Vyn to meet with the sorcerer student whose flyers we spotted in town the previous day. We follow the address on the flyers to another refugee hut and enthusiastically perform a synchronised knock on the door. It is opened by the edgiest person we've seen so far, a 19-20ish year old human. Hi her name is Mrie Rogi and she has side-shaved hair dark purple eyeliner black lipstick extremely heavy mascara and doesn't really smile. What's up.
Her place is neat enough that it's apparent she uses magic to spruce it up. She shows us a bit of Prestidigitation, which will from now on be known only as Presto in this campaign, and Vyn responds through Message cantrip. Fellow magic user identified!
Mrie indeed studied with Doctor Ferdinand Gallatio in Mettei. His class was hard and strict. Gallatio is away and she cannot reveal his location, because he is staying well away from the Vanecians as his family is kind of wanted, what with governments not liking it when you commit treason and ruin their vibe that way. Mrie is not a fellow sorcerer, she is a wizard, who studies for her magic! But she can tell Vyn that you might gain shadow magic from the Shadowfell touching you, if it doesn't kill you. Gallatio didn't really speak of his time in the Shadowfell, though.
As for Vyn's time in the Shadowfell, she just went through a neat little town that didn't even seem all Shadowy or anything! She was travelling along, helping where she could, sharing her knowledge to make local agriculture more sustainable, as one does. And when she left, poof, voidbunny! Luna wonders if her new shadow magic could have been a thank-you gift. Vyn would have wished for something easier to control!
Vyn asks if Mrie met any other sorcerer students in her classes. There was a gnome, from a mountain village, who kept getting zapped after being touched by a wind elemental! Nobody wanted to sit next to her. Mrie tried once, and that's how half of her hair got zapped off, but she ended up liking that style. She recalls Doctor Lee, who was from the north and hated everything. He must have been intended as a test of his own: if you were too weak for Doctor Lee, you were too weak for magic. Now Mara must find this Doctor Lee, for reasons.
While we're here, we accept Mrie's offer of an aesthetics course to make a Minor Illusion look dope as hell. It's more of a lecture than anything practical, as Mrie is a big ol' bookworm rambling on about the philosophy and purpose of ultimate beauty, but Mara does acquire an Advanced Sense of Aesthetics.
Now it's time for the other thing we saw posted in town, the epic public debate in which the Astronomy Club will face the Astrology Club and settle some scores! We invite Mrie or drag her along with us, because why not. The debate is happening in open air and has drawn a whole crowd of elf villagers and refugees. The Astrology Club is represented by its president, a halfling, while the Astronomy Club is represented by Logicboi, the dude whose brain we broke on our way here. The debate starts in an orderly fashion, with a moderator, but perhaps they've been bribed? It quickly devolves into name calling and semi professional wrestling, at which the halfling excels and absolutely wipes the floor with Logicboi.
To make the procedure more scientific, a nerd from the Astronomy Club simply suggests we document it. Since the debate turned out to be a physical debate, we egg Khitah onto the stage to participate. She does well and earns the Admiration of the President of the Astrology Club!
The crowd is enjoying elven concessions, which is important because Mrie eats some Brie. Just when we thought this was an exciting event, the physical debate is followed by an actual debate, aw man! With nerds talking at each other and all. The astrology folks sound like they're wrong about many things, but the astronomy folks sound too dismissive of any possible mystical interpretation. This prompts Mara to wonder, what is the truth??
According to our resident expert Luna, it's somewhere in the middle. The astronomy folks have worked out more of the truth, but not the whole picture. Luna has studied the stars her whole life, and her connection to the stars is more mystical than most. As a wee gnomeling, she always tried to stay up late and would sneak out to see the stars. Then, she grew to feel her bond to the stars in her heart. Vyn asks her if she feels uncomfortable in the city, where the stars are somewhat obscured? Not so much, Luna answers, although she definitely prefers natural spaces.
We hear a hawk call somewhere! ... Is it Gopal calling, or someone calling Gopal? We find Gopal in a shady alley, alongside the very stern-faced elf who handed us our modest rewards the other day, and who seems to act as Gopal's superior. The stern elf has resting unfriendly face, but turns out to also be a jerk. They disapprove of unsubtle wink-winking and warn us not to drop the ball on anything.
Rahul gives us news that the very distinct hops paella smell of our trap has been detected... on no particular individual, in the meetings of Kadu-vi's elders' council. Ruh-roh, Rahul! This would mean that one of the council elders came into contact with the smelly dish and disseminated the smell quickly enough to blurr the tracks between all council members. The rest of this investigation will take another level of subtlety!
Rahul addresses Khitah, and confirms that Khitah is from Khitah's tribe. The elf informs us that there is a prisoner, a man with markings similar to hers, who is a suspect in a criminal investigation. Since we said we wished to be of help around Kadu-vi, the stern elf tasks Khitah with speaking to that prisoner. They say that physical debate should not be needed, but they have no objection to her resorting to it. Vyn asks if they have tried bribing the prisoner with cookies yet, instantly asserting superiority over the local elves.
After the elf leaves, we chat to Gopal a little bit longer. We confirm that this elf, Rahul the spymaster, is a jerk to Gopal, who works under their orders. Gopal has woken up with Rahul's knife to their neck! They're fine, they assure an incensed Mara, but they do beg the party to not provoke Rahul's ire. As Kadu-vi's spymaster, it does make sense for them to be concerned with secrecy! Rahul initially trained and worked in Vanecia, where the complex political intrigue made them develop intense vigilance and/or paranoia.
We get to the Kadu-vi prison and meet Amadou, a dark skinned human with markings similar to Khitah's. Khitah immediately recognises him: in her childhood, Amadou used to tell her stories about her birth kingdom, as he had been there for his work as a trader. Amadou informs Khitah that she was not the only one who got separated from the tribe, a few of its members ended up in the city of Corroza. "You have to help me, I'm innocent, I didn't kill that elf," says our suspect, "they were dead when I found them!" Unfortunately, all evidence so far points to him, so he must be held and await tribunal. Amadou gives the party details on who died and how: an elf named Miriam. Although he hadn't told the elves about this, he confides in us that he had been out getting food for his partner, who lived in Mettei before the invasion and is now here with Amadou.
We wait for evening to start properly investigating. In the meantime, we visit our dear walking encyclopedia Hari, to learn more about the Council and prepare to investigate them and follow up on the mystery of the cursed armour. Since we're a party of foodies, we cook up a yummy gift basket for Hari as we've been getting a lot of their help.
We deliver the gift basket and thank Hari, and Mara expresses fandom and a happy fan smile, to which Hari responds with the biological function of a smile, looking very sharky.
We ask Hari to tell us about the Council. Hari begins to tell us everything they know about the Council. Being a retired Council elder with a true elf's memory, Hari has many many facts to stream at us continuously. As our characters struggle to keep up with this elven textwall, we gain an understanding of the various profiles of the council elders. We note one case of dissent, when elder Surya wished to return some vague magical item to Vanecia. We note that the elders who tend to disagree during disputes concerning outsiders, and to vote against outsiders, are Vassu, Prena and Anita. And just like that, our afternoon is timeskipped.
It is evening. Following the lead provided by Amadou, the party investigates the spooky alley in which the elf Miriam was murdered, when we are attacked by two shadowy figures: wraiths! Combat ensues and the wraiths are dispatched - or are they? In their place stand two more average-looking, non-shadowy elf ghosts.
The party begin to interview these ghosts - asking if there was someone else present at the time of their death. One says that they tried to tell "her" to run, when they were attacked by shadows, they could not move, they were weak. The other ghost identifies "her" as Rahul's granddaughter, who told them to call her Alex.
Vyn asks if she escaped, and where she might have gone. The ghosts reply that if she had died, she would be here with them. She had only one way out of the attack, and there are many places in Kadu-vi that might have offered her safety. Vyn asks if the ghosts remember who they were in life. One of them is identified as Miriam-ghost! Miriamghost recalls that they were selling something to a man called Amadou at the night market, then, as they were walking home, a shadow attacked them, but the shadow is not here now. They do not know where the shadow might have gone, but tell Vyn that the shadow had a few faded markings, different from Amadou's.
Vyn asks if there is any way we could help the ghosts. Miriamghost says that they should be on their way to reincarnation, and is unsure why they remain bound to this plane. Otherghost, who definitely had a name, guesses that they are being kept for unfinished business related to their murder.
Vyn says that this half-life they're is no freedom, and wants them to be free again! Luna agrees that we really need to help them reach peace, and hopes that, now that they have been released from shadow form, they will not be made to attack.
We reconvene with Gopal and update them. Luna asks, "Did you know Rahul has a granddaughter?"
Gopal is a bit taken aback, but they do know. Hesitantly, they mention that a little birdy told them about a secret address where we might search for the said granddaughter.
We follow the directions to that address and find a fancy fashion boutique nearby. Since we don't want to be too obvious about going to find the knife-happy spymaster's granddaughter, whose whereabouts were not officially disclosed to us, we walk into the shop first.
We see some very fancy, expensive hats, including an aggressive pink one, and a flower wreath that seemed to be a tribute to Hari the true elf. There is also a fabulous peacock-feathered hat, which we discover was designed by Alex. The haberdasher's apprentice, Vash, tells us that Alex came by three days ago to submit some designs to this shop.
Next, we casually stop by the actual address provided by Gopal. It turns out to be a relatively shabby house in comparison with this upscale area of Kadu-vi. We are greeted by a very exasperated elf who leads us to a literal glass enclosure. It contains snacks, a trampoline, a bed, a sandbox, monkey bars, and children's books, like an elf's approximative guess of what a human in their late teens would be into.
Alex, who was put there by her very protective grandma, and who yes, refers to knife-happy Rahul as Grandma, answers some questions for the party about the night Miriam died.
"The shadow tried to take me, but they took the hit! I ran as fast as I could, maybe should have gone back, but don't know how to fight, or deal with shadows." She seems understandably upset by the incident, and touched that the elves in the alley protected her with their lives.
She recalls passing by Amadou in front of the apothecary before the incident. When she saw him, he was heading home, and it was unmistakably him, as he is very distinguishable due to his facial markings.
Alex has confirmed this for us, now we also need to reveal our evidence to the authorities. We find some official elves with Hari.
Hari looks at Amaranth and puts on a very unnatural smile, continues to make this terrifying smile for quite some time until an elf asks them to please stop smiling, and they do that as quickly as a video game character model reverting to default. As soon as they are told where to go, they zoom off immediately.
By daylight, the party goes back to the scene of the crime. The alley is much less spooky now, the ghosts are still milling about, but less visible by daylight. Vyn Mends a bunch of bricks, making them nice and shiny, using the shadowy effect of her magic to make the ghosts more visible!
Hari looks at the ghosts, walks up to them, points at them with a finger, and there seems to be some conversation. Hari then spits out the exact words of the ghosts' witness accounts like a very efficient secretary / text-to-speech reader.
This account is enough to clear Amadou's name. We get back to the prison, and one of the prison elves - the elves in charge of the prison not in it - one of the prison elves, whose name is Jamil, spake thusly: "I know Rahul can be... intense, so I will personally give you your reward for helping us and freeing Amadou." And lo, we each receive fifty Gee Peas of gold, as well as an invite for attending meetings of Kadu-vi's elder council!
In preparation, we go to read on some history. One good roll lets us learn about the members of the Council, though Hari had already rambled pretty much everything there was to know. We also learn of some recent political agitation from the supremacist elves. Humans and elves usually get along, but once in a while, there is a movement of elves who want to bring back purity and tradition to elf cultures. This is not a popular outlook among elves, though, because the term "drow", which is used to refer to false elves as opposed to true elves, was originally the word for "humans". This just shows how similar the two are when viewed from the perspective of the ancient true elves. There are some areas in the world where these jerkelf factions are in power. Khitah's tribe travelled through such an area some time ago.
When we left off, we were in an approximation of Tsuki's memory of a cult summoning ritual, in which Tsuki had been branded a heretic. He, of course, remembers that this summoning of an eldritch abomination did not go well for anyone who was involved last time. His goal in this instance is to save his friends (or, technically, run away and save himself if he wanted to). We, meanwhile, are brainwashed into playing the part of cultists, forced to try to apprehend Tsuki. If we take any damage, we make a Wis saving throw, and if we succeed, we come to our senses.
Tsuki, standing next to an accusatory Cultist Gobblino, starts by taking a point-blank Eldritch Blast shot at them... but misses. Cultist Gobblino shrieks that Tsuki is a heretic and tries to thump Tsuki over the head with a big ole tome (but misses). Cultist Clara follows suit to scream Heretic at Tsuki as well... but the Meep Crown reminds her that she is supposed to have some Authority over the goblin, planting the seeds of doubt. Cultist Luna blasts Tsuki (and actually hits) and insists he Repent of his Heresy. Tsuki says he don't wanna. Cultist Nadyn, after being reassured that we didn't just abandon a volatile summoning ritual and that there are still some hazy dream folks running it along, joins in singing The Heretic Song. Tsuki casts Arms of Hadar and manages to dislodge Former Cultist Gobblino from the illusion (the rest of us are too unwise and remain brainwashed). Gobblino book-thumps Cultist Clara and hits(!) but doesn't dislodge her. Gobblino acknowledges that Tsuki is the only one that knows what to do here, then disengages, trying to convince Cultist Nadyn that we have to save the Meep. Cultist Clara was still out of it but Gobblino's intensity towards her Meepitude activates the crown and gives her another saving throw... which still fails. But subconsciously recognizing this defiance from Gobblino as an intensely personal betrayal, she EMBRACES HER MEEPITUDE and places the crown on her head (yup, it's meep time). This brings her back to reality! and imbues her with a sense of duty to the goblins and the forest! she is now properly the Meep and must protect and rule the people! this is her responsibility as the Meep! also her nails get really long, which is weird. Gobblino smiles and announces that THE MEEP WILL SAVE US! but Cultists Nadyn and Luna are still brainwashed.
Clara tries to shake Cultist Nadyn out of it... and misses. Cultist Luna is confused at two former cult comrades no longer focusing on the heretic--including the leader, who regards one of the heretics with awe. Some tentacles resembling Tsuki's Arms of Hadar start creeping out of the central circle. Cultist Luna feels that Meep Clara's crown looks off and inspects it; it does seem that it contains nature-bestowed power in some way, and Cultist Luna asks where she got the crown from. Clara explains (she picked it up off some goblins and now understands birds and feels like she has to protect us and the goblins and the forest). Cultist Luna is confused (because we've been Doin The Summon, not any of that) but Clara insists that we merely drank something weird that made us think we're cultists. And then slaps Cultist Nadyn. With a crit nat 20. (We consider this a crit success instead of crit damage so it's a slap and a backslap.) Even this is not enough to dislodge Cultist Nadyn. The DM suggests that Tsuki stab Cultist Luna, it'll be fine. Thankfully, this successfully snaps her out of it. Gobblino tries to bite Cultist Nadyn's shins and misses (with a nat 1). Luna tries to shake Nadyn out of it, saying we were under an illusion and just want everyone to get out of here. Cultist Nadyn is successfully grappled and shaken... and still not snapped out of it. She struggles and fails to break out, since she wants to punt the goblin into the summoning circle.
Since this is getting ridiculous, President breaks initiative and Luna shakes Cultist Nadyn for a while until the spooky spell mostly wears off... at which point the eldritch tentacles from the growing summoning circle are getting mighty close and we have to run for our lives. There's a lot of screaming coming from that hole. We navigate around a barrier to avoid the rapidly expanding summoning circle and take off through a hallway, at which point the spooky cult hideout transforms back into the elemental plane of air... for everyone except Tsuki, who briefly remains in the memory.
Tsuki hears footsteps of people running on cobblestone, faces blurred, and hears a voice from them saying "Don't think you will escape from this alive!". As he pauses to face this person, the encroaching Arms of Hadar grab him; he pulls the tentacle off of him and runs for his life, but soon falls unconscious. This, apparently, is a part that has been hidden from him in his memories for a while: fading in and out of consciousness, he hears very familiar voices conversing about him. Someone: "Lara, you have to be kidding, we can't take that thing with us, it has tentacles growing out of its chest!" Lara: "This is what we do--we have to save it. If it ends up being just a tentacle monster, we can kill it, but right now we have to help it as best we can." Tsuki gets picked up and taken elsewhere, and that's the end of this memory. The whole experience makes Tsuki feel squishy.
He joins his companions in the elemental plane of air, where movement feels almost like flying (but not like, actual material plane flying). We take a rest; for morale and such, Nadyn resumes The Heretic Song where she left off (around verse 6). Clara orders Gobblino to rest and they oblige by aggressively laying down. As we finish resting, a tornado/twister being comes by, speaking in a booming voice: "Warriors! Your time in the elemental plane of air is over! You must now pass the test of water!" The being opens another rainbowy portal. "I don't think you would like to spend much time here; after all, you would eventually run out of nourishment required by lifeforms such as yourself." We're feeling substantially less loopy around the portal this time. Nadyn, recognizing the sounds the portal is making, understands now that while being the same combination of notes as the first portal, it's not exactly music--more a mix of ambient noise--and this time it sounds like it's coming from underwater. Tsuki jumps in first, followed by Nadyn; Luna turns to Clara and says, "Okay, guess we're doing this," and jumps in. Clara nods, tells Gobblino to just stick with us, and follows everyone else in.
For Nadyn, it feels just like being underwater. Because she is. A droplet-looking creature appears in front of her and says, "Do not worry, mortal! you may breathe!", clearly forgetting that she's basically part fish and can already breathe underwater. However, this is welcome news to the other mortals swimming nearby that aren't fish people. Sure enough, it feels like breathing, despite no movement in their lungs... because it turns out they have gills right now. Water elemental nods solemnly at us and disappears into this infinite ocean place.
Anyways, now it's Nadyn's turn for her memories to be uploaded into the matrix! She finds herself back at home in Shandeg, in a family common room, apparently for dinner, and it's all rather quiet. To her left she sees her older sister speaking about all her Accomplishments in the Military. Nadyn feels a bit of a judgemental gaze, as if saying "you are not up to our expectations", with an unspoken reminder of the other sibling who brought shame to the family. Anyways, it turns out, sister does not have a triton face, but Luna's face; the parents have Tsuki and Clara's faces; and another heretofore unidentified member of the family is played by Gobblino. Suddenly, Nadyn realizes something is not right; the scene is from a few months before leaving Shandeg, a very mundane memory, but she assumes this needs to play out in the same way as Tsuki's cult memory. Accordingly, she asks Sister Luna to look away for a moment, and the latter (initially confused) obliges in order to speak with someone else... and Nadyn takes the opportunity to sock Sister Luna in the back of the head. Luna gets a nat 20 and is blasted back into regular reality (and still feels the pain of the punch); she looks back again, notices that Nadyn hit her and asks, "What the heck was that for?"
Clara, playing the role of head of household, rises from her seat. Mother Clara: "What is the meaning of this?" Nadyn: "...Something, something, single combat." Mother Clara: "How many times have I told you? No single combat in the house!" Cousin? Gobblino: "this is disrespect! perhaps they should take their single combat outside!" Mother Clara (turning to Tsuki): "What do you think? Should we let them settle their differences and blow off some steam outside, or just ground them?" Father Tsuki (assuming it would be "to the death"): "Loser gets grounded." Nadyn (to self): "Are you sure you're not my real parents?" Cousin? Gobblino: "you're lucky that you should only get grounded!"
Nadyn asks if they would like to come and spectate the match. Since trials by combat to resolve disagreement are pretty common (even among family), nobody really objects to it. Nadyn offers that the parents and cousin? go outside first to get the arena ready while she prepares for the fight. Tsuki agrees, saying, "One less kid won't hurt..." and turns around to go outside. Nadyn takes the opportunity to try to also sock Clara in the back of the head... and crit misses. Mother Clara: "Is that how you treat your mother?!" Father Tsuki: "Gotta work on the sneak attacks." Mother Clara: "0/10." (Bad parents, just not bad by the standards of Triton society.) Anyways, the "parents" and "cousin? household pet?" go outside to spectate. Nadyn says, "I'm glad I get to spar with SOMEONE who's willing to fight, unlike MOM over there," intending to target Vicious Mockery towards Mother Clara; but Tsuki reacts with a Hideous Laughter on his ostensible daughter, who bursts out laughing just long enough to miss her chance. Cousin? Gobblino: "that's disrespectful! do you know nothing of honor! mom mom mom mom! are you okay mom?" (Clara's fine.) Cousin? Gobblino: "well, you should not endure such disrespect!" Nadyn (aside, to Luna): "Psst--let's just try and give them a good show and not hurt each other too much." Luna: "Oookay--go light on me."
Given their choice of practice weapons, Luna takes a staff as she is accustomed to, and Nadyn (specifically going for something to throw) takes a few javelins. Clara gives permission to D-D-D-Fight! Luna: "I have no idea what I'm doing!" Nadyn: "Me neither!" Nadyn "menacingly circles" around Luna in order to get within whacking range of the family, then prepares to "throw" the javelin, intentionally bonking Father Tsuki in the face on the backswing. Father Tsuki says "ow" (understandably) and breaks out of the illusion's hold just a little bit, realizing he's somehow in an underwater city despite being a bird. Mother Clara still looks austere and focused, staring at the daughters fighting, and Gobblino is shouting "fight! fight! fight!"--Tsuki reacts to this with visible confusion, kind of piecing things together, but really thrown off by all the water.
Mother Clara (gasping in horror at husband-bonk): "How dare you! Your insolence knows no bounds!" Gobblino: "I think she's just causing a ruckus intentionally because she doesn't know how to really fight without succumbing to underhanded, dishonorable tactics!" Nadyn (performing mock shock): "Oh, I'm so sorry DAD exaggerated wink, I haven't had much practice with this weapon; can you come show me how to throw this properly?" Mother Clara (buying it entirely): "Yeah, show her how it's done!" Nadyn passes most of the Javelins over to Tsuki, who acts out the process of "how to throw a javelin without hitting people"... and then proceeds to throw one at Cousin? Gobblino. (Which, honestly, isn't exactly breaking character.) He hits, but Cousin? Gobblino, getting bonked in the face with a practice javelin, gets a nat 1 on the Wis save and responds whinily, "[MOM'S NAME]! he hit me! he hit me!" Subconsciously, the Meep Crown tells Mother Clara she must protect this critter of the... forest? She's compelled to protect it though she doesn't know why, and puts herself in front of Cousin? Gobblino, saying, "I thought you two were supposed to be fighting each other!", mostly in a scoldy mood. Nadyn responds, "Okay--nothing stopping you from having your own fight over there, though; we can finish ours over here."
To really sell the idea that they're fighting, Luna and Nadyn swing staff and javelin against each other ineffectually like it's a movie swordfight until Nadyn falls to one knee. Nadyn: "Ohh, you have bested me!" Luna: "Of course! I am clearly the superior fighter! Maybe next time you'll know not to smack me in the back of the head, I guess?" Mother Clara is unsatisfied with this outcome! Mother Clara: "Put your backs into it! What did we teach you? Where's the carnage?" Luna: "Hey, if you want another round, why don't you and Dad fight?" Tsuki: "Sounds like a good idea, you know, show the kids how it's done! (I'm gonna die!)" Clara rolls up her sleeves to oblige. Tsuki grabs some fake daggers, while Clara gets a fake sword; while the "parents" get ready to fight, Nadyn and Luna are standing there right next to Cousin? Gobblino, who President affirms is ripe for the picking. Nadyn tries to grapple and cover the goblin's mouth... and they get another nat 1. Nadyn headbutts them and... they still don't get the Wis save. But at least they're too muffled to complain. Tsuki points out to Mother Clara that the kids are fighting again. Mother Clara notices Nadyn grappling and muffling Cousin? Gobblino, and goes to try and break it up. Tsuki throws the dagger at Mother Clara as she does so, but still misses. Mother Clara, noticing this DISHONOR, turns away from breaking up the fight to stare menacingly at him. Mother Clara: "Gasp! Are you trying to kill me?!" (despite it being a fake dagger) Tsuki: "It's a legitimate strategy!" Mother Clara: "Was that your plan all along?" (holds up sword menacingly) Tsuki: "Tee hee, I'm in danger."
Luna walks away so Mother Clara can't see her, then casts Faerie Fire (only managing to affect Cousin? Gobblino, making them glow). Cousin? Gobblino, once again bonked by Luna, finally snaps out of it: "what's happening? why am I underwater? why am I glowing? I'm being mugged by one of the Meep's closest friends!" Regardless, Gobblino hugs Nadyn for some reason. She suggests, "Now is a great time to go and rescue your Meep, but you will have to strike her to do so!" Gobblino gives a salute, runs towards Mother Clara, tries to body slam from behind, and... misses and hits the ground. Not giving up, they get back on their feet. Gobblino: "meep! meep! help us! snap out of it!" Mother Clara: "What are you talking about? What do you want?" Gobblino: "ma'am! you are my meep! you protect the forest and all the goblins from evil! you are chosen meep!" Mother Clara (absolutely confused): "What? That's what I'm doing?" The crown glows, and suddenly she is reminded of her friends, and her place in the world as the Meep, and she finally breaks out... and freaks out, remembering everything she said and did before snapping out of it: "Oh! What happened? WHat did I do... WHAT DID I DO?!" Meanwhile, Gobblino is just so happy that their Meep has finally woken up from her stupor, and the triton household around us fades.
A memory plays for Nadyn: she sees her mother saying, "Listen, Nadyn--all I want is for you not to end up like"--avoiding saying the name, as if that would be too much--"my daughter. I don't want you to end up like her. Do you understand?" With that, the memory fades, and we're back in the elemental plane of water, chilling in the immense ocean. Clara mentally beats herself up for being a bad mom, and apologizes to everyone. Clara: "What have I done? This is so bad! I have to make up for this! This goes against everything I believe in!" Luna: "Wait! I just realized!... I'm a catfish!" (ba-dum-tss)
That gets Clara's mind off her self-flagellation, and non-mechanically causes Tsuki psychic damage. Anyways, droplet elemental comes back and announces, "Congratulations; you have passed the test of water. You must be malleable and see when things are not working out in order to be a great warrior. You may now proceed to the next trial." Another rainbow portal opens, exuding an earthy rendition of the same noise and emitting various earthy smells (leaves, the stench of less pleasant things associated with nature, etc.). Clara goes in first, and the others follow.
We are treated to a hilly, forested region; in the distance is Albaiin, but very diffuse, like an oil painting. Luna is picking some herbs nonchalantly and enjoying the nice sunny day; it's a nice day with no real drama as far as she's aware, and she's picking these herbs for some medicine that her mother will be brewing for folks in town. But, as she heads back home, a towering, scraggly figure approaches and says, "I can pay you handsomely for some of that hagga," referring to a herb in her possession for her mom; the figure towering over her has the face of Tsuki, and three other figures approaching have, of course, the faces of Clara, Nadyn, and Gobblino. Luna knows that hagga is a very important ingredient for the potion being brewed, and hard to find at that (she's spent all day looking for it)... and that it's also used in the synthesis of illicit drugs. She looks up and says, "Why exactly do you want it, and how much are you willing to pay?" Hooligan Tsuki, believing he just needs to snatch it from this teenage girl in order to make a lot of money, and only pay a trivial amount of money (kid perspective of money), responds, "One silver." Luna holds the herb closer to herself and starts moving slowly towards the direction of her house, saying, "I'm sorry, but I really need these, and one silver is very much not enough. So... I'm just going to take these." She backs away, then fires an eldritch blast towards Hooligan Tsuki, but misses. Hooligan Tsuki tells the others, "We need to get that herb!" and gives chase while Luna runs away.
We do this as a D&D 4E SKILL CHALLENGE: select a skill we're proficient in, explain how the skill would help us in our task, roll for it, and things happen based on that. To start, Luna tries to persuade the hooligans that she needs this for life-saving medicine, and that it's likely more important than silver or anything else, and hopes they would understand that. She is so filled with conviction (nat 20) that everyone stops a bit and questions, are they really the kind of lowlifes to chase down some girl who's making life-saving medicine? But, of course, they're also criminal scum, so they do get over that hangup and get back to chasing her--especially Hooligan Tsuki, who was targeted with a blast and all. Hooligan Tsuki threatens to burn down the forest, which (with a 19) briefly gives Luna pause in shock at how terrible that is and why people like that even exist--albeit still not a long enough pause to lose her lead from the previous distraction. but not enough to overcome the time fallen back from the "are we chasing a teenager" distraction.
Also, this talk of burning down the forest activates The Meep Crown to tell Clara that she must Protect the Forest; the cogs turn in her brain (we have standards! we're not going to burn down a forest to steal this girl's herbs!) enough to save her. She turns to her formerly-fellow hooligans and tries to convince them to stop (you can get herbs later!). Goon Gobblino, subconsciously still idolizing Clara, agrees that we should probably just get the hagga form another place. Meanwhile, Meathead Nadyn, still playing the comical cartoon henchman, is still like "heh heh yeah let's burn it all down". Hooligan Tsuki gets out a torch and more seriously threatens to burn things down. Luna is aghast at this and worries that he'll try to follow through on that threat; while running, she fires eldritch blast to knock Tsuki down; it hits (for 11 damage, geez, don't mess with Luna, and she apologizes for hitting equally hard the last time she blasted him, but not for this time, because how dare you threaten to burn a forest down around Luna! Regardless, this doesn't break him free.
Seeing that Hooligan Tsuki has not come to his senses despite this blast, Clara looks to Luna and back at him and... notices that the lit torch was knocked out of his hand and is on a bush. Clara, very angy at this, tries to smother the rising fire by stomping on it and dumping a beaker of water from a nearby idyllic stream. Devoted follower Gobblino, regardless, says, "what are you doing? we have to get the hagga! we have to make rent! rent is really high these days! actually it's kind of getting lower because of the war but that's not important, we have to pay rent!" As they have this conversation, Meathead Nadyn wastes an entire turn trying and failing to think. Luna recognizes that Clara's on her side now and tries to run in a bit of a bigger circle to maintain the chase but come back around to where Clara is; once there, she says, "Clearly we're in another one of these tests, and I'm sure you know what to do by now," and blasts Meathead Nadyn. With a nat 20. For a whopping 13 damage, but thankfully managing to snap her out of the role. Hooligan Tsuki, realizing his lackies have failed him (and having no idea what Goon Gobblino is doing, or why herb girl came back), hits Luna with another eldritch blast. Goon Gobblino is still following Clara, but suggests she follow the Hooligan Tsuki's lead. Clara, after coaxing from the DM, socks Gobblino in the head. Gobblino: "meep! meep! thank you for saving me, meep!" Clara: "It's the least I could do. Can you do something about Tsuki still being a hooligan?"
Nadyn tries and fails to tackle Tsuki because, despite playing the role of a meathead henchman, she is still quite twiggy. Luna considers blasting again, but resorts to the less violent approach of throwing a dagger (hey, it does less damage!) and hits, but doesn't free him. Tsuki responds with an eldritch blast that knocks Luna unconscious! (First of the game!) Clara does a Lay On Hands to bring her back up. Gobblino bites Tsuki's shins and actually succeeds (with a nat 20!), bringing Tsuki back to his senses... but he kicks Gobblino off of him anyways.
Most of us slowly fade back to the rocky earthy plane--just rocks flying around as far as the eye can see. Luna is taken into another memory: running home scared to her (full-blown Tabaxi) mom, who hugs Luna and says, "Don't worry, Luna; it's very admirable that you stuck to your roots like that, and thanks to you I'll be able to use this for the medicine." She takes Luna into a hug and continues, "And if you ever need anything, you know you can come to me or your friends." Luna leans into the hug and says, "I know that; and thank you". Mom makes a nice cup of hot chocolate and returns to work, ending the memory and returning Luna to the elemental plane of earth. (Much more pleasant than the other two's ending memories.) Regardless, we are faced with a beady-eyed boulder person who announces, "Mortals! Rest if you must; you still have more trials ahead. I will make sure no harm comes to you from this plane until you are ready." We rest up as best we can (which isn't much, since we're mostly spent on hit dice and fresh out of healing); next time, we're going into the elemental plane of fire.
My Recap Of The Mostly Irreverent Looney Tunes Petting Zoo Squad's Session 7 As Much As I Was Able To Process It - May 21 2022
We start by exiting the rainbow portal from the earth nation plane and enter the trial for the fire nation plane. Clara's brought back to awkward preteen fanfic-writing age, taking an idyllic walk through a garden of flowers at a large estate/palace with green fields, escorted by two guards (as usual), and in the distance is the city under the influence of her family; she's always looked at the city in the distance and wondered what it was like there, and today, she's concocted a plan to distract the guards and go see the city. As a noble girl, she's got a horse, and the guards are basically doing nothing; remembering something, she looks up to see that the guards have Luna and Nadyn's faces, and suddenly she realizes there's something not quite right with this memory--but she knows she has to go to the city, in any case.
Clara starts by staring at the guards, thinking, "Oh no, not this again," and considers whether to wave her hands in front of them to try and stir them from their illusions or just slap them. She goes with the former. Guard Nadyn stays stoic in the face of presumably attempted annoyance from the preteen. President says that if Clara were to plan an escape, she may have distracted them with a simple "look at that over there", taken the horse, ridden off, and finally seen the big city for herself. Clara, understanding that Tsuki isn't here and it may be futile to try to slap one guard or she'll be forbidden from going at all, says, "Look over there, it's my parents!" Guard Nadyn says, "Oh, they're not supposed to be back yet--" and turns around, giving Clara a chance to make a break for it. Guard Luna shouts to Clara, "Wait, miss, you can't just run away!" and tries to give chase. Clara shows no signs of slowing, but yells, "I'll be back!"
There's no alarm going off or anything (nobody's trying to break in), but knowing we should really tell someone that she's run off, Guard Nadyn goes to find the majordomo and tells them as much. We're given horses to chase her down with, and the majordomo says they'll get someone to help us out and try to notify the mayor that Clara Cordova has escaped and needs to come home. Meanwhile, Clara--approaching the city encloaked to hide her crest--passes by some uninterested city guards, parks the horse at a stable, and walks into the city. First, she wants to go to the market to see interesting stuff and get something to eat, network with some folks in the cloth business, and of course, hide from pursuers among the crowd. Doing so, she finds a lot more hustle and bustle and commoners than she's used to; there are stalls selling clothes, jewelry (well-guarded in that case), and street food/snacks (which she can buy because she has a lot of money!). She gets some milk biscuits and takes in the sounds and sights: nearby are some flyers for street performers, said performers themselves trying to grab attention, and someone sitting in the corner with a little jar of money. They're very short, and everyone else is ignoring them, but after looking at the tattered robes, Clara sees that they have the face of Tsuki. (No, President confirms, Tsuki was not the horse.)
At that, Clara wonders how lost Gobblino must be to not show up yet. Is Gobblino the horse? It's in character, since Gobblino would be obeying the meep. Y'know what, yeah. Gobblino is now the horse. And while nobody was paying attention, now the horse is goblin-like. It's a goblin horse. Anyways, Beggar Tsuki is doing the "pretend to be an amputee for pity" thing, with a fake bloody leg--very obviously a human leg, at that--purportedly formerly attached to his bird butt. (President assures us it isn't a real human leg either... though it would be in character for Tsuki to find a corpse and chop it up for spare parts.) Kid Clara, not used to seeing poor people at all, feels bad for the beggar, since he looks very sad and angry that nobody's giving him any money.
Given that this is a dream, Clara has to roll insight. Failing, she leans down to put coins in this guy's cup, but realizes just before she lets the coins fall that it's Tsuki! Tsuki doesn't have a human leg! She looks underneath and sees the bird leg tucked underneath! Wait a second, you're trying to scam me! she thinks internally. Beggar Tsuki wiggles the leg to try to convince Clara it's real. Regardless, Clara understands that he's at least been sitting there a while with no bites, so she gives him a fraction of what she initially intended and tells him, "You're not really hurt, are you?" Tsuki responds, "Aren't I, emotionally?" and wiggles the leg some more. Beggar Tsuki insists that this should work since he has high deception, despite it being pointless since Clara already sees through it. But, she adds in a biscuit out of pity. (Beggar Tsuki takes it.) Clearly a good deal, considering he was trying to scam people. And, by nature of the trials, despite Clara seeing straight through Beggar Tsuki's disguise, Beggar Tsuki still sees himself as just a regular human guy, sitting in his corner of the street begging business operation, so he's pretty happy with a few gold coins--the most he usually gets is a 5-year-old giving a single copper piece (which buys nothing nowadays), and that one guy who gave him electrum (which nobody wants).
So, after Clara's out of sight, Beggar Tsuki inspects his haul, and the other beggar (originally supposed to be Gobblino, and having a fake cast on his arm) looks at him enviously. Beggar #2: "That's a lot of money! Hey! You'd better split that with me!" Beggar Tsuki: flat "nnno." Beggar #2: "I've been working really hard making people feel sorry for me. You have to share, it's the beggar's code!" Tsuki: "But I can't feel my legs!" Beggar #2 hits Beggar Tsuki with the cast, and Beggar Tsuki retaliates with the leg. Both take damage. Tsuki realizes he's in a dream, holding up a fake leg, beating up a random scammer in the street, and that Clara just passed by. So he stands up and walks away with the leg (going back for the biscuit and coins before leaving).
Guards Luna and Nadyn finally arrive in the city and park their horses; we see Horse Gobblino (which is just a regular horse to us, but still recognizable as Clara's). We tell the other guards about the situation; they say they haven't seen her but will get on it, so we decide to head towards the seedier areas of town (since it'd be most dangerous for her if she WAS there). Clara, having perused stuff at the market (especially clothing shops), sees a bunch of dye from her family; they kind of have a monopoly around here, except a few indie dyes which are kind of struggling #indielife. After the market, she goes to see the circus performers in town. The guards, meanwhile, still find that nobody seems to have seen Clara. Tsuki has been following Clara from a distance, still carrying around this leg, which elicits disgust and shock from passersby. Passerby: "What are you doing with that?!" Tsuki: "It's for a show!" Passerby: "...Ah, yes, a circus, I see. Makes sense."
The circus, conveniently, is near one of the seedier areas of town, albeit the last part of it that Guards Nadyn and Luna thought to check--less seedy and more just poor. Meanwhile, for Clara, it's unusual for her to see this much destitution. People are trying to scrounge some shade from the leaves on the city trees and being chased away by the constables for trespassing (which strikes Clara as not very good); others are burning garbage to find something to cook with; others have "help I'm homeless please hire me for a job" signs. Someone old, sick, and coughing is trying to get through the crowd, very near death. Being sheltered all her life, this is all very shocking to Kid Clara; this is the first time she's seen people like this. She sits, stares, and sparks some of her brain cells together. She looks at her money and biscuits and realizes she won't have enough for all these people after she gave some to a SCAMMER (who's now eating the biscuit appreciatively), but the images get burned into her mind for later; she resolves to tell her guards and majordomo and parents about how these people don't even have a roof over their heads.
Until then, though, she goes on ahead to the circus. Conveniently, the guards are in the area, spot her pretty quickly, and shout, "There she is! After her!" at which point Clara hears frantic footsteps behind her. Tsuki, just a bit too late, sees these clearly Cordova family guards running after Clara and preparing to ambush her, since Guard Nadyn failed at stealth and is super obviously a triton, blending in much worse than Guard Luna. Tsuki throws the leg at Guard Nadyn. It's crowded, so there's some difficulty aiming, but he manages to smack her the head with this plastic leg. Nadyn and has the epiphany that the person that threw it is Tsuki, that despite being in this city, she's a triton named Nadyn, not some guard, oh no!. Guard Luna, meanwhile, tries to apprehend Clara by grabbing her arm (which isn't very hard since the latter is a pre-teen). Clara turns around and sees that it's Guard Luna. Guard Luna: "Miss Clara, you can't just run away like that--you might have made your parents worried if they knew about this! I'm taking you back to your home!" Clara: "I said I would be back! I have the horse there and everything! I just wanted to see the city!" She plants her feet and tries to get away despite not being very strong as a 13-year-old. Guard Luna: "I understand that, but it's dangerous for you to be here by yourself, even if you have a horse; and I don't think your parents would be very happy with me and the other guard if they find out that we just let you roam around the city on your own." Clara recognizes that, technically, this isn't really the guard's fault, and says she can explain everything and take the blame later. Guard Luna: "Well... I don't know... What do you even still want to do in the city at this point? Where would you go?" Clara: "I've only been to the marketplace, I want to see everything else!"
Meanwhile, Tsuki and Nadyn see Guard Luna giving Clara this stern talking-to. Nadyn: "You wanna just bonk her on the head?" Tsuki: "Of course." (He holds up the leg again.) Now, we're pretty conspicuous (a bird and a triton drawing a lot of attention), so people won't just let us just sneak up on her; we each take the leg and, at President's suggestion, pretend we're circus performers tap dancing, using the fake leg as a sort of cane. We awkwardly tap dance towards Guard Luna and bonk her on the head. Unfortunately, this does not snap her out of her role. Guard Luna turns around and sees some beggar bird and her fellow guard pointing at each other (although it was probably Tsuki's fault) at the unspoken question of who did that. Guard Luna, still trying to hold Clara's arm (but not as strongly), says, "What the heck? Ow! That hurt! What was that for, what are you doing?" mostly directing it at Nadyn. Nadyn lets out a long "uhhhhhh" and then grabs the leg and tries to bonk her again. She misses miserably with a 3 attack roll. Guard Luna is momentarily speechless at this, but then says, "Stop messing around, we have a problem here! I just found Clara! She wants to continue exploring the city for who knows how long, and we probably should get her back to her parents, since that's the whole reason we chased her down--I don't know where you got that leg, but put it back I guess?--and help me take care of Clara." Nadyn hands the leg back to Tsuki, who immediately uses it to try to bonk Guard Luna again. And hits! And she still doesn't snap out of it! Apparently, Luna is just well-suited to taking care of children, and Nadyn less so.
Guard Luna, having just been bonked again successfully, resigns herself to the situation and says, "Okay, you two sort out your bonking problem. I'm going to take Clara back home, and you can meet me there whenever you are done with this bird." She turns around, grabs Clara, and starts trying to walk back towards the horses to go back home. She leads Clara to the stables without issue, since a number of other guards and folks are crowding around Nadyn and Tsuki and questioning them, making it hard to follow her. Clara notices that her horse looks very goblin-esque. She squints at the horse's face; the horse does a little whinny which to her mind sounds like "meeeep". Clara screams, "GOBBLINO! You're a horse!" The horse does not strongly react, just mildly swaying its head. Clara whispers, "Hey, if you understand me, I still want to see the circus, so can we run and do that?" To pre-empt any equestrian escape attempts, Guard Luna ties the horses together with a lead. As this is happening, Clara internally laments that her life sucks right now, and tries to run away on foot one more time. Guard Luna runs after her.
Meanwhile, Tsuki and Nadyn break free of the people and guards ("and that's our demonstration of our next activity for today!") and make our way to the stables. Luna is chasing this child; and both roll super well in their contest, but the kid crits somehow, and bumps coincidentally into Tsuki and Nadyn, stopping everyone in our tracks. Tsuki gives Clara the leg with an unspoken "you are our only hope". Guard Luna reaches out to catch Clara, but Clara readies a batter-up position and swings the leg into Guard Luna's stomach with a resounding clang and drawing a big "oof" sound as she bends over with the wind knocked out of her. Finally, Luna realizes, Wait a second--I'm not a guard, I don't work for these people, I'm Luna! And of course, in front of her are her friends Clara, Tsuki, and Nadyn, with Clara holding The Leg. Clara offers Luna a biscuit as a "sorry for running away but no regrets #yolo" token of apology. But we don't get yote from the memory yet, presumably because of the goblin horse. Luckily, since the horse is docile (unlike something in every prior memory), we take advantage of memory-Clara's memory-parents' memory-money to rent a room for the night and sleep and eat and stuff, i.e. take a much-needed long rest. We wake up feeling well-rested, and the next day, we go outside, free to either see what else is in Clara's memories or just beat up the horse and get out of here. (Luna informs the group that she was genuinely worried the plastic leg would be the death of her.)
We head back to the stables for Horse Gobblino and clearly hear a "meeeeep"-sounding neigh. Tsuki: "Why is that horse green?" Clara: "...How did I not notice this before? And... what are we going to do about Gobblino, he's a horse! Are we going to hit him with the leg?" Nadyn: "Naturally." (They'll be fiiiine.) Clara doesn't use the leg, but just gives him a light slap on the face, which is ineffective. Tsuki follows up with the leg, which successfully snaps Gobblino out of it. THey suddenly realize that they're not a horse and exclaim, "meep! you came back! you came back for me! meep!" Gobblino hugs their Meep. "you are the nicest meep ever!" Clara respods, "I'm just doing my job!" and stands there while being hugged by a goblin who is no longer a horse. At that, the memory fades out (for everyone but Clara) into a fiery video game loading screen kind of effect. Clara, meanwhile, gets a new memory: she returns home and tells her parents about what she saw--that we're living the good life but these other people don't even have a roof over their heads and we should help them!--but her father smiles thinly and says, "It's good for you to care about the common people, but you cannot make life easy for everyone. If people don't struggle in their life, how will they learn anything?" in a very detached, patronizing, rich person response; "And besides, you cannot help everyone in the world--if you did that, you wouldn't be able to do anything." The last thing the dream leaves Clara with is a sense of injustice and a deep anger; then, she is transported back with the rest of the party in this hellscape elemental plane of fire.
A fire elemental is watching us and says, "Well, that was interesting." In the elemental's hand, not melting or burning, is the plastic leg. Elemental: "Very interesting. Hmm, a curious human contraption. Tell me," the elemental points at Luna, "what do you use this for? What is the purpose of this item?" Luna: "It's for acting! It's for putting on shows to make it seem like you have an amputated or injured leg!" Elemental: "Ah, it is to appear weak for others' entertainment. Curious. Well then, I have no need of it." The elemental throws it towards the group as if tossing breadcrumbs to some ducks. Clara, being the tallest, catches the leg and gives it to Tsuki, saying, "Here's your leg. Thanks, it was very useful." Clearly it'll come in handy in the future (leg added to inventory). We rest a bit under the watch of this very judgemental fire elemental, and then the rainbow portal opens before us again. Tsuki goes in first and the rest of us follow.
We're transported to a realm that's grey and shiny as far as the eye can see; there are spires made of some sort of metal, and the sky looks like a very smooth sheet of aluminum foil, but somehow diffuse. In front of us is a little doorway that doesn't seem to be attached to anything, and guarding it are two metallic elementals. Nadyn: "I've heard this riddle! Which one is the liar one?" (Unfortunately, it's not a riddle.) Clara (asking nicely): "Are you going to let us in?" Elemental: "no." We note that these elementals are quite a bit smaller than the gigantic ones that guarded us earlier. Elemental: "No--someone is still taking the trial, and you may not interfere. You must be worthy in order to interfere." Clara: "Oh really, someone else is in there?" Tsuki: "Yeah, the kid we were originally looking for?" Clara: "Uh-oh. Oh, heck no, it's the kid. Who's taking a trial?" Elemental: "One by the name of Tom." Tsuki: "What would make us worthy to interfere?" The metal elementals' arms suddenly change into weapons, one with a dagger and a halberd, the other with a sword and shield. Elemental: "You must prove your worth in combat. This is, after all, the trial of the warrior." Tsuki: "...Good to knoooow." Clara: "Okay." Tsuki: "Do you guys want to eat a goblin? (it's worth a try)" Elemental (with a look of "what the hell is this guy talking about): "I have no need for nourishment. Also, that thing is too small." Tsuki: "Okay." Clara discreetly kicks Tsuki for offering to sacrifice Gobblino. Since the door is closed, Nadyn suggests we not try to just run past the heavily armed (pun intended) guards if we don't even know if it's locked. Clara suggests a distraction, but doesn't have any ideas, and is willing to fight if need be. All in agreement, we challenge the metal men, Sabaton Fan and Metalhead. (roll initiative!)
Sabaton, being a Swedish metal band, is known for being Swedish, and Swedish people are known for meatballs. Everyone agrees Gobblino would be the best meatball, so Sabaton Fan attacks them first and crits! Gobblino immediately falls unconscious! Sabaton Fan has multi-attack and realizes that chicken meatballs exist too, so they hit Tsuki pretty hard as well! Tsuki tries a Dissonant Whispers, but it turns out to be immune to psychic damage! Nadyn follows up with a Vicious Mockery, at least to force disadvantage on one of those nasty multi-attacks. Metalhead attacks Clara and Nadyn, critting the former and somehow missing the latter. Luna hexes and blasts Metalhead, doing the first damage from our side for the fight. Clara heals up Gobblino with a Lay On Hands (she's the meep, she can't not). Gobblino says, "meep! meep, thank you!" and runs off. Nadyn shouts after them, "Try the door!" Sabaton Fan once again hits Tsuki and Clara. Tsuki successfully uses Hideous Laughter on Sabaton Fan, causing it to fall over laughing. Nadyn heals up Clara and inspires Luna. Metalhead runs off and tries to hit Tsuki, but misses (and Nadyn and Luna also miss their opportunity attacks because of course). Luna moves a bit further and blasts Metalhead (and crit misses). Clara ALSO crit misses Sabaton Fan, who is thankfully still incapacitated. Tsuki blasts Metalhead and misses despite a pretty good roll. Nadyn charges at it with a rapier and misses. Metalhead goes after Tsuki but misses twice (presumably trying to beat up that fake leg instead). Luna blasts Metalhead hard. Clara goes toward Metalhead and misses her swing. Gobblino tries the door, and has figured out how it works! and that it is locked.
Sabaton's still rofl at things that are beyond us (possibly Tsuki's leg being analagous to Trogdor's arm). Tsuki blasts Metalhead again. Nadyn swings and misses. Metalhead hits Tsuki, and fails to hit Nadyn because Silvery Barbs. Luna blasts Metalhead (with advantage!) but misses. Clara misses too. Gobblino informs us that the door is locked, attacks Metalhead, and also misses. Sabaton Fan's still rofl. Tsuki crit blasts Metalhead! which is basically an auto kill anyways with how little health it had. The blast goes out of control and causes the elemental to explode into smithereens, but Metalhead gathers itself up, takes on a more regal form, and says, "I yield." Nadyn heals up Tsuki who was really low on health oops. Metalhead's just bowing (ba-dum-tss) out of the fight. Luna Faerie Fires Sabaton Fan (crit fail save!), outlining it in bright violet light. Clara hits Sabaton Fan with a smite! Sabaton Fan is somehow still rofl. Gobblino misses Sabaton Fan despite the glow, but Sabaton Fan finally gets up! Tsuki blasts Sabaton Fan, and Nadyn finally hits (crits!) with the rapier! Luna blasts Sabaton Fan (with bardic inspiration help) to finish it off; Sabaton Fan barely holds on until the hex kicks in to finish it off, then turns into a regal figure, bows, and says "I yield".
The elementals look at each other for a moment; one of their fingers melts away into a key and flies across the room (almost hitting Gobblino). One says, "You may enter and help Tom, but I should warn you, he has been with this trial for a while now. You, however, have the advantage of having passed your own trials. I would use whatever you have learned to help him. Good luck, worthy warriors." Since Tom's been in there for so long anyways, we rest briefly (playing some ambient portal music--Nadyn mentions she preferred the rock realm over the metal realm) and then head through the door. There's no weird transition or out-of-body experience this time, since we're just stepping through rather than magically transporting to this place. Slowly, a world made out of metal begins to form itself around us, at first resolving into something resembling an outdoor location, with a bunch of gravestones nearby and a small group of figures around what seems to be a casket. Then, slowly, as if paint is raining down the sky, the details of the world are filled in with color, making it look like the dream world that we've entered into. As color returns, it's very subdued regardless--a grey, rainy day. Most of the crowd watches over the casket in silence, including a single figure whose face is a bit undefined and shadowy, standing with her son, who is the most real-looking human being that we see in this vision, so we naturally assume it's Tom; he's just putting his hand on the closed casket and staring at it silently. Nadyn: "Okay! who do we need to bonk here?" Tsuki: "Just bonk the kid. Or the casket, but that just seems weird."
Tsuki looks for open graves, but sees none. Clara approaches the kid quietly (no bonking!)--and out-of-character considers getting Gobblino to pick its lock and open it up sacrilegiously. Regardless, Clara isn't sure what to say, but starts by asking, "Tom?" Tom looks up with reddened eyes (in a teary way, not an evil way), says, "Oh. Right. That's me. Hello," and takes a step to the side to let us walk up to the casket. Clara obliges--there's nothing abnormal about it, other than that Corroza's flag is draped over it (oh, that explains it). Clara says, "I'm sorry for your loss." Tom nods--as dignified as one can in the situation--and says, "Thank you." He looks up at us, and not recognizing us at all, says, "Did you know him at all?" Clara replies, "No, but I'm sure he was very brave," and puts a hand on Tom's shoulder. (Clara's wondering why the rest of the party isn't doing anything, but thinking about Tsuki standing there with the plastic leg, she realizes it's probably for the best. At this moment, Tsuki happens to be looking around for a trigger to drop the casket into the hole.)
Nadyn comes up to Tom and says, "How is the trial going?" Tom (looking around): "Oh. The trial. Right... I know this is a trial. This is just a memory, but it feels like the world is moving on from Dad, and I almost don't want to leave. I feel like if I leave, I'll just forget him, like everyone else did." Nadyn: "Could you tell us a bit about him?" Tom (nodding again and sitting down): "I always liked walking with Dad. He actually told good jokes, and he liked to draw and be an artist with me, and he always believed in me, and always supported when I wanted to do something like take lessons with Master Wang." Tom smiles a bit. "Master Wang was nice. And even though Dad didn't like fighting so much, he still accepted the call to fight for our country, even though he was the nicest guy I ever knew. I just didn't think he wouldn't come back." Tsuki figures (but doesn't say out loud) that this means the casket's empty, if he didn't come back. Or that he's a zombie in the woods... Nadyn (unhelpfully): "Who knows? Maybe he could come back!" (Nadyn is Not Good With Children.) Tom (misinterpreting, since he doesn't know about the zombies): "Yeah, maybe they're wrong; maybe he didn't die. But I don't know--I feel like maybe if I wait long enough, he'll come back." Nadyn: "And I'm sure he'd want you to keep on enjoying life in the meantime until then." Tom: "Yeah, but... What if I keep on enjoying life and forget to wait for him?" Clara: "I don't think he'd be mad! You can wait and go on with your life at the same time, and if he comes back, he'd be happy to see that you're doing great!" (Why is it so hard to comfort kids? Just give him the false hope he needs until we can get out.) Tom's a bit weirded out by Tsuki.
Luna (walking up and being more helpful than the rest of us): "I understand what you mean; but at the same time, I think your dad would be happier to come back and see you enjoying life rather than finding out that you waited for however long in sadness just because he was gone. Obviously you don't know if it would be tomorrow or months from now, but it would be better to try to move on and enjoy your life because you can still wait for him at the same time--and you wouldn't forget about him, because it's pretty clear that you love and care about him a lot." Tom: "What if he doesn't come back?" Luna: "That's the unfortunate thing about this--you can never know. But a part of it involves learning to accept either outcome." Luna apparently saved all of our butts with genuinely good advice. Tsuki, not having had a family, doesn't really relate to begin with and just wants to get out of here. Tom (taking Luna's hand since she's nice): "I guess you're right. I guess I shouldn't just stay here and wait forever. But if it's not too much trouble, could you guys stand here with me for a few minutes? I think I'd like a few real people to stand with." So we stand and stare, and after a bit Tom opens up and shares various personal anecdotes with his dad--"One time I played a prank and TP'd the house, he wasn't very happy with that, but"--and so forth. After everything, he's looking slightly better, to some degree accepting what happened; at that point, we see the world around us transform back into metal, and the metal elementals we fought reappear in front of us, cross their arms, nod, and say, "Ah. It seems you have helped this boy in his trial." Nadyn: "Well, uh. One of us did." Elemental: "Yes. We were watching. But, ugh, human emotions are a lot more inaccessible to us than they are to you, so... you would have done better than we would have." (They might have done better than Tsuki, let's be real)
The elementals nod to each other. One takes a part of its chin and draws a circle in the air with it, and within that circle, one of the rainbow portals forms. Clara: "Are we leaving now?" Elemental: "No, in fact, there are 120 known elements. You will pass through all of them." Nadyn: "Dibs on uranium!" Elementals (laughing): "Good luck. You should continue; after all, it's only in the dream worlds that you will find appropriate things to sustain you." Tsuki goes in reluctantly, as do the rest of us. This time, there's nothing weird going on--it's just like we stepped into a different room, and before we know it, we're back outside in front of the tree with the birds from before. Said birds aren't talking to Clara per se, but do chirp in a way she understand as, "Ugh, these guys again--they were gone for a few days and now they're back?!" Clara: "What do you mean, 'we were gone for days'?!" Birds: "Yes, we said a few days! The sky turned dark and light again multiple times when you disappeared into that tree!" Clara: "So the birds say we've been gone for a few days..." Nadyn: "...Hey, that was a rip-off! We only got one night's sleep! Also, not gonna ask how you know what the birds are saying. Where's Valeryl?" (Yeah, she left. She didn't wait here in the forest for days.) We meander back to town, which takes a while since we don't have a proper map and spent a few hours wandering around looking for Tom in the first place. Back in Bordeauriva, Nadyn Detect Magic Rituals the fake leg and finds that it has illusion magic, but we can't attune to it--it's just an item that is magical because it was from the dream world. (We can assume that if we were to dispel that, it would either disappear or turn into the dream-world paint stuff.)
Next session is another town segment! We can try and find Valeryl or do something else! And Gobblino is still trailing Clara and following her everywhere. We'll figure that out next session.
We resume our adventure just outside Bordeauriva, having been gone a few days. First, we want to get paid, so we look for Valeryl; there's not a lot of triton women in town (mostly just Nadyn otherwise, to our chagrin when people point out "I just saw her--oh there she is"), but we find a lead that points us to the infirmary. Tsuki hopes Valeryl wasn't dumb enough to continuously run into the tree trying to follow us. We mention at the front that we want to see Valeryl; the very overworked-looking guy there looks through the patient list, says, "Valeryl... room 11 I think," and ushers us there. The room has 6 cots, 4 being empty and 1 being some random guy we don't care about who hides under his sheets when we arrive, and the last being Valeryl who seems okay except that there are claw marks on one of her arms and bandages on the other. Valeryl (looking up at the party): "Oh, you guys are alive!" Tsuki points out Tom. Clara: "Yeah, we found the kid." Valeryl and Tom exchange greetings (relieved and nervous in turn); Valeryl saw a cute animal in the forest, but it turned out it was a bear, and actually they're not friendly like whales, they're more like weird sharks. To be fair, she was around when we fought Naga and fed Bosco--the thing she found was apparently a smaller and cuter but still vicious bear that looked almost like a dog. A bear-dog. Valeryl: "So I thought maybe when they're smaller, bears would be friendlier." Clara: "Smaller does not always mean friendlier." By the way, Gobblino is still attached to the party. But as long as they don't do anything weird in the infirmary, we should be okay! oh they already took a few tongue depressors. Clara: "I don't think you're supposed to be touching that!" Tsuki: "Feel free to eat those nice snacks!"
Anyways, while we negotiate payment, someone who seems to be the doctor comes in. Doctor: "Excuse me, you do not make deals with someone under the influence--she's better now, of course, but it's generally a bad idea to, as she put it, 'drink rainbow water'..." Clara: "Pretty much." Tsuki: "Trippy stuff." Doctor: "In the interest of ethics, I would hold off." Nadyn: "Wait, I thought Valeryl didn't have any of the rainbow water?" Doctor: "She said she had some of the rainbow water." Valeryl: "It was... after you guys left. I was pretty bored, thought I should see what you were up to; I had some rainbow water, it tasted really bad, I don't know why you ran into the tree, but that's where I met the tiny bear." Luna: "Are you sure it was the same rainbow water?" Valeryl: "I'm pretty sure? But you guys didn't seem to complain about the taste that much. It tasted... like... you know? liquid... exactly like yatta," apparently the drug that requires the herb Luna had in her flashback. Luna: "Interesting." Tsuki: "I don't recall what it tasted like..." Clara: "Just that it tasted weird." Valeryl: "I don't know, but everything turned really strange, and I think I saw my dad? Oh man, he left for cigars so long ago, and he was like, 'I finally got the cigars, want to smoke some with me? And I told him off because he sucks! And I met the bear! It was so cute!" Doctor (nodding): "I don't know what happened, but she's not going out for the next couple hours." Valeryl: "You could take half the payment! Or, you know, more of the payment! 60-40, you guys take 60!" Clara: "Are you poor?" Doctor: "...I would honor whatever previous arrangement you had. Ethically speaking, you should not alter deals with people while they are incapacitated."
We decide to just take Tom home in the meantime. Clara: "Can we at least put this on paper?" Doctor: "I'll see to it that you have a very official doctor's note on paper." (The note is nearly unreadable.) Clara (staring at handwriting): "Um, is anyone else able to read this?" President says we can't read it unless we have Doctor in our language list. Clara asks the doctor to read this out loud for us. Doctor (reading): "To the parents of Tom the child: I hereby bear witness to the fact that Valeryl and this party have agreed to work together to procure your son from the woods, and that each party has previously agreed to split whatever you had offered 50/50. Signature and very fancy stamp." We hang onto this until we can find Tom's mom, and we head to that (as soon as Clara stops Gobblino from taking more tongue depressors). Tsuki: "eat the dry popsicles!!" Clara: "no, we're fine, these are just..." yeah, she just ushers Gobblino away from the medical stuff, "okay we're going."
We exit the infirmary to head to Tom's mom's house. The family seems rather well-to-do; it's a bit of a mini-mansion, but with some construction of more apartments on top of it. As we approach the gates, we find two figures: one we recognize as the priest Aaron, the Aasimar-- Nadyn (partially OOC): "HE'S AN AASIMAR??" --and beside him is another, very tall man having a conversation with him. We don't pay much attention to them yet, though. We're led inside by the groundskeeper, and Tom's mom hugs Tom on sight. Tom-mom: "Oh my god, you're back and home safe--oh my god, where have you been?" Tom (matter-of-fact): "Oh, I was taking the warrior's trials." Tom-mom: "The--the trials... oh my god. we'll talk about this later. I'll discuss it with Wang later." Tom-mom (turning to the rest of us): "Yes, who might you be?" Nadyn: "We helped rescue Tom from the warrior's trials, and Valeryl agreed to split the reward 50/50 with us, according to this very official and legible doctor's note." Mom (trying to parse it): "I guess I can kind of see the 50/50 split. Did someone ask the doctor to read it out loud?" Tom verifies the doctor's words. Tom-mom: "Okay, here's half the payment,"--she passes us a cheque to use at the bank for 150g total--"okay, here you go; at any convenience, you may simply cash this in at the First Corrozan Bank,"--she writes up another check--"and this I will keep for Valeryl. Where is she by the way?" Clara: "...She's in the infirmary, recovering." Tom-mom: "Ah, I see. I will ensure this makes its way to Valeryl. Is there anything else? Would you like some tea? (short pause)... I will take that as a no. Well, please leave my house." Nadyn: "Well if you say it like that, then we have to have some tea!" Tom-mom: "Groundskeeper, please bring them some tea." He brings us some super-hot tea. It's probably the most awkward thing ever. The longer we stay, the more anxious she is.
Tom: "My mom is just like this, don't take it personally." Clara: "Are you sure it's okay for us to be having tea?" Tom-mom: "I have to be hospitable to my guests, don't I?" Clara stands awkwardly with her tea. Nadyn asks for some sugar and is handed a glass thing full of little sugar cubes. Tom-mom: "Take however many you wish!" Gobblino obliges, taking a handful out of the sugar bowl and sucking on them. Clara: "Do you really need that much sugar? That's probably not good for you!" Gobblino: "it tastes really good! I can't believe this is the bounty of the meep!" Clara (to Tom-mom): "I'm sorry, I think he's just really excited to have tea." Gobblino: "Oh, you were supposed to drink this?" Clara: "Yes, you're supposed to put the sugar into your cup..." Gobblino has already spilled the tea on the ground and is wearing the cup on his head. Gobblino: "Sorry, I thought this was dirty water!" Clara is frozen with her jaw on the floor, thinking 'oh, crud'. Clara (to Tom-mom): "Excuse me, do you--I'll clean that up." She digs around for a handkerchief and mops it up. Clara (to Gobblino): "It's not dirty water. We drink it! It just tastes bitter sometimes depending on the flavor. But this is good tea!" Tsuki grabs some cubes and eats them like Gobblino did, while himself backing up toward the door. Clara: "You're not helping!" Tsuki: "The sugar IS good." Tom-mom: "My groundskeeper can take care of everything. It is quite fine. What use is money if you can't take care of a few spills? Well, look at the time,"--she looks at a very ornate grandfather clock with its glass cover open and conspicuously dials it forward a few hours--"Wow, we've spent a lot of time together! It was very nice to get to know you! Goodbye now!" Nadyn accidentally dumps the teapot on the floor on the way out. Luna: "...Thanks for the tea!" Clara: "Yes, and I'm really sorry about the spill!" Tom-mom: "...It's quite alright."
Clara is upset she couldn't keep her goblin in line, but Tsuki assures her the good deed of returning the kid cancels it out. In any case, we leave. Gobblino still has sugar cubes in their hand. As we step out, Aaron and the other guy (Thorn guest!) continue their conversation. Aaron is smiling, but we feel that something in his heart is screaming on the inside about the strange tall man who keeps asking him questions. Said man is about 6'7" and gives an overall impression of gold and white and an excessive amount of energy: he has long, blond, flowing hair and a gold tiara with little wings sticking up; he's dressed mostly in white but with little golden stars around the hem; and he wears gilded bandages around the legs as trousers like some extra-fancy mummy. He continues very enthusiastically asking Aaron questions. Aaron: "Yes, well, I see you've heard of me. Unfortunately, I don't really participate in that anymore. As you can see, I have a vow of non-violence." Tallguy: "But the angels are integral to the structure of the universe, is my theory--" Aaron: "They certainly play a role, but I would not focus on cultivating angels, but instead, cultivating myself." Tallguy points super non-subtly at Tsuki as we approach. Tallguy: "That's a bird man! That's the second most astounding thing I've seen all day!" Aaron (internally): "Well. Finally, I have an out." Aaron (externally): "Yes, those over there are Nadyn, Tsuki, Luna, and Clara, the goblin's new--these people come around all the time." Tallguy: "Angels?" Aaron: "Well, they have met a lich-like being, so it's not out of the question for them to see an angel. There might be one right outside down!" Tallguy: "Have you ever seen an angel punch another angel?" Luna: "No, but that'd be kind of interesting too?" Tallguy: "It'd be a most spectacular sight!" Tsuki nods in agreement, it would be cool.
Tallguy introduces himself as "The Bright Mage Lucine Aureli; keeper of searing radiance, scholar of the angels," which is a bunch of definitely not self-given titles. Luna: "Sounds respectable." Lucine: "Cat ears on a person? This is marvelous! The third most exciting thing I've seen all day!" Luna: "...I have to ask, what was the first most exciting?" Lucine: "This man has a connection to angels, I know it in my heart and my soul, and he who is my very good friend I've just met is going to help me find an angel I think I hope yes he will!" Aaron: "Yes, uh maybe you will see an Aasimar fight, but be careful what you wish for." Lucine: "No, I mean one who's still immortal! The explosion of light! It'd just be the best thing in my entire life!" Aaron: "I'm sure the one I'm talking about is immortal as well. In fact, I think this party has encountered him, isn't that right?" Nadyn: "Oh, animu prettyboy zombie bishie face?" (his name's Ricardo actually) Tsuki: "Your brother?" Aaron: "Yes, indeed. I suspect that he is immortal now." Lucine: "Oh, you must introduce me to your brother! They have to! Someone has to!." Aaron: "I'm sure if you travel with them, you'll eventually find him." Tsuki: "I think he wants to kill us..." Luna: "Yeah, probably..." Aaron (mouthing to the party): "He's your problem now, I'm not dealing with this guy." Clara opens her mouth, points to herself, points to this guy talking about angels... and doesn't say anything not nice, since that's not her thing. To clarify, Clara doesn't look at all angelic, so Lucine isn't intrigued by her in particular, but laughs at the ongoing conversation. He has very sharp teeth, more so than a normal person should have. That aside, he's immaculate, a well-presented individual, just sharp, and that's what matters... and he's one of us now, whether we like it or not.
Clara hopes Gobblino's not giving this guy a hard time. Gobblino (joining the group): "he's so BIG!" Lucine: "Yes, I am very tall, and you are quite small, my little, uh, friend. What is your name?" Gobblino: "oh my god nobody has ever asked me my name! my name is key!" (oops, we, did it again.) Lucine: "Why, pleasure to meet you, Key!" Key: "yes, my mom and dad really like keys, they found a copper key, it was the shiniest thing they'd ever seen, so they called me key!" Lucine: "Yes, well, we should respect shininess in all its forms!" Lucine also has a very sparkly capelet over his shoulder, so it's clear he's quite into sparkly things. Tsuki is mostly just disappointed Key has a real name (Top 10 Letdowns). Clara's still wearing her Meep Crown of goblin-make, which is honestly about as high-quality as Lucine's tiara, apparently. Lucine nods at her, since she clearly has good taste. Clara smiles and feels awkward again, but is used to wearing this crown everywhere--she's accepted her newfound role. At least she hasn't introduced herself as "hi I'm clara I'm a meep". Tsuki: "This is Clara. she's the Meep." Lucine: "...what is a 'Meep'?" Clara: "Long story. Apparently this crown gives me some authority over goblins and the forest, and when I first put it on I could hear animals talk--some birds in a tree, the party thought I was going crazy..." Lucine (nodding): "Can you hear the butterflies speak?" Clara (after consulting president) doesn't know yet, since we haven't seen butterflies since she started wearing the crown. Clara: "Maybe when we pass by some, I can try to listen in?" Lucine: "Butterflies, you know, are the most angelic of creatures on earth; it would be so lovely to speak with one."
As we have this conversation, Aaron is slowly inching out. He has a sack with him, presumably heading somewhere outside Bordeauriva, and reverts to his old soldierly ways long enough to loud-whisper "BUH-BYE!" Tsuki (telepathically): "You owe us! We'll get payment back for this one!" Aaron shrugs in response. Lucine (not noticing): "So there's a dead but not dead angel that wants to kill you? Amazing!" (President confirms that Ricardo might be a wee bit mad at us.) Luna: "I don't know if it's amazing that the essentially lich that is mad at us and kind of tried to kill us is actually immortal." Clara: "It's not just fighting he wanted..." Tsuki: "You should be happy--I let him live that first time!... Only for him to try and kill us later." Lucine: "That's interesting, because your Aaron, my good friend, described him as his brother, and it didn't sound like there was any bad blood there." Tsuki: "We met afterward." Lucine: "Maybe if you made friends with him, you could convince him to punch the angel, yes?" Tsuki: "...yes. I agree with that. But we need an angel first." Lucine: "That's why I'm here, really; I could stay home and not do much, or go out and be proactive and look for angels!" Luna: "Well, how exactly do you intend to find an angel, though? Do you know where to look?" Lucine: "I don't, but other people might--asking my good friend Aaron, all of you, people who I can ask to ask for me--I'm bound to find one eventually!" Tsuki: "We've been running into a lot of things. Goblins, liches, holy guys, bears..." Luna: "Half of them are friends!" Lucine: "Aaron did say there might be angels outside the city." Luna: "Also a lot of zombies outside the city, though." Clara: "It's true." Lucine: "As a mage of light, or a bright mage I might say, I know how to deal with zombies, it's fine. They just smell kind of bad."
Clara's Meep Crown vibrates... meep senses are tingling?! She hears a woman's voice. Lady: "Hello, I am the Lady of the Lake; please come lakeside to the forest and you will know more about your Meeply duties." Clara (to group): "My crown vibrated, and I heard someone talk to me, and I don't think it was a butterfly." Tsuki: "Well, must have been an angel. ;D" Lucine: " WHAT DID IT SAY" Clara: "Lady of the Lake, in the forest..." Tsuki: "It was a very wet angel." Clara: "I don't know if an angel or some forest spirit, but it's in the crown I'm wearing that makes me--you know--tied to the forest and goblins and everything? I don't know if this is an angel!" This being our best lead to a definitely angel, Lucine is interested. Clara extends the invitation to the party, and everyone agrees, with Tsuki suggesting we hit up the bank first... to deposit a cheque, not to rob it (Tsuki: "this time..."). Nadyn suggests we at least get some healing potions if we're going to leave town this fast. Lucine mentions that he can't heal at all--he's all about light and fire more than healing; that's what he means by "bright" mage. Clara wonders if Key would know where this part of the forest is, so she asks. Clara: "There's this voice in the Meep Crown telling me to go by a lake in this forest--do you know where that is?" Key: "the lady of the lake talked to you?!" Clara: "Yes, she did. Is she an angel?" Key: "No, she just lives in the lake." Lucine looks very sad at this news and scribbles something out in his notes. Clara: "Do angels live in lakes?" Lucine: "I thought, maybe?" Clara: "Who knows. Anyways, can you help us find this lake so I can talk to the Lady of the Lake and find out if she's an angel or not?" Key: "I know all the best paths through the forest!" Clara: "Can you take us through the safest path?" Key: "okay!" Clara: "Thank you, Key; you're a very big help."
Key leads us to the lake that Bordeauriva is built on, but farther along the lake's shore, there's an inlet into the forest; around there, after about two hours of unexciting walking (maybe we see a squirrel or butterfly--) Lucine: "Oh my god, a butterfly?! Can you talk to it?!" Clara tries to listen and see if it has a foul mouth or anything. For a while it doesn't speak, but it lands on something and sings a mating song--kinda like rap/hip-hop, but a mating one, so pretty explicit lyrics advertising its goods. The butterfly Tinder bio. Lucine: "Did it speak to you, Clara?!" Clara: "It's not speaking to me, but it's... looking for a mate?" Lucine: "You can understand it!!" Clara: "Yeah, but it's not talking to me; I'll probably let it mate. I'm not going to disturb it--it might yell at me or something." Lucine (wiping a tear): "So beautiful! I wonder if butterflies mate for life? I should find out. I don't know anything about butterflies!" Clara lets the butterfly do its thing; she's not going to bother it on a hot date. We keep walking until we reach a lake. In the lake (not on the beach, but in the shallows proper) is a shoddily constructed house. Key: "the lady of the lake lives here! I think you knock." Clara: "Wait, you knock on the lake?" Key: "on the door." Tsuki: "Pretty magical."
Clara stares at the house in the lake; only the roof is above water level. No problem for Nadyn, though, who goes up and knocks. The door opens; inside, there's furniture and stuff just floating around. The door was answered by a red, obviously demon-yokai-type lady, with some kind of harpy-style wings. Lady: "Oh. You're not the Meep." Nadyn: "I come on behalf of the Meep, who you have bestowed this system of government to." (OOC: "watery tart" reference) Lady (smiling): "Ah, yes, let's see who the new Meep is! I just know something changed." She surfaces, her head and body sticking out from the lake. She's not exactly swimming, but basically just Superman-flying through the water. Her entire upper body is there, and she's wearing some kind of robe that is very clearly wet, but there's a nice effect where the robe waves under the water so it doesn't look too abnormal. Lady looks around, and her eyes snap to Clara. Lady: "Ah, the Meep! A human. That's new." Clara (waving): "Hi, are you the Lady of the Lake?" Yokai lady smiles. Her teeth are also quite sharp, she has horns and harpy wings... President says if you want to divine sense you can do that, Clara, if you suspect anything, which should be quite obvious... or just ask her... which Clara does since it's more polite than straight-up asking. It's probably not divine, right? She looks very demonic. Kat is privately told what the divine sense says. Lucine is captivated regardless of the apparent fiendliness since she just looks so cool. Worked her way back up to third most exciting thing today (displacing poor Luna). Tsuki casts False Life on himself just in case of a confrontation.
Clara (to everyone): "She's a celestial being." Lucine: "What??" Lady: "No, I'm not a celestial being, you must be mistaken--" Lucine is losing his mind. Lady: "No, stop being excited! I'm not celestial, look at me--" Lucine: "Would you punch another celestial for me, would you do it pleease?" Lady: "I'm not a celestial. I'm a fiend. I came from hell. I might have done bad things. 300 years ago, I might have been locked to this forest forever... but ruling a bunch of goblins isn't that fun, so I decided to improve myself. And the Meep thing is hilarious!" Clara: "You were the Meep??" Lady: "I created the Meep! It's so fun to interact with these goblins and see their little societies form--it's like watching an ant farm. They're all so weak and puny and need protection, and I can't step outside this lake, so..." Lucine: "Excuse me, miss hell demon lady? Who bound you to this forest? Is it someone we should punch? Like a celestial being that might need punching for being so mean to you?" Lady: "Before I moved in, there was another Lady of the Lake who was real tinkled at me, all 'you decided to mock me, you shall become Lady of the Lake', though I haven't really done anything fiendish in a while now. But hey, the Meep thing is pretty funny though, right? You look ridiculous!" (Tsuki nods in agreement.)
Lucine: "I thought Clara looked really cool!" Lady: "W-well, it's the mismatch! A human wearing a goblin thing!... Well, okay, it's not that funny, but... oh my god, I'm not a demon anymore! Oh no!" Lucine: "Isn't that good? Or... bad, I don't know?" Clara: "Yeah, when I looked at you I didn't really sense that you were a demon, so--" Lady: "You said I was a celestial being?" Clara: "Yeah, so are you now a celestial being again?" Lady: "You know how they say this goes--I never really believed it, because getting a demon to do good things and all, pshaw, 'through an act of love the demon becomes celestial, maybe even becomes immortal and gains a soul'--" Lucine: "You swear you read that she was a celestial?" Clara; "Yes, I--" Lucine: "This is great! We CAN get her to punch someone for us!" Tsuki: "As long as it's in the lake. We should have just brought that holy man with us." Lucine: "It's not the same. It has to be a proper angel!" Tsuki: "Well, I'd enjoy it..." Lucine: "But it's just crass, then! It's like a bar brawl!" Clara: "Regardless of whether you are celestial or not, why did you call me here?" Lady: "Well, I was just curious, since I sensed that this Meep was significantly more powerful than all previous Meeps, and I'm trapped in this lake. But there's like... a corruption in the heart of this forest, and um, as Meep, which is your duty now, I was wondering if you could take it out?" Clara: "Do you know what's causing the corruption, or is it just kinda there?" Lady: "Word on the vine is--uh, apparently, eventually after spending too much time here, you can listen to the vines, okay?--word on the vine is that like, there's like a baby wyvern, but it's all gross and stuff, and there's a bunch of zombies and skeletons, and y'know I just don't want a dead infestation to spread through the forest, because it's my home and I like it."
Clara: "Makes sense. Okay. So we're looking for a baby wyvern." Tsuki: "A gross baby wyvern, apparently." Lady: "Yes, 'wyvernling' technically." Clara: "So you said 'from the vine'--am I supposed to listen to what the vines tell me too?" Lady: "Well I'm not sure how well the crown works, but if you can hear animals, there's no reason you can't hear vines!" Clara: "I can try to listen to vines? Okay, I just hope they have something useful to say, because the last thing I saw was just out looking for a mate." Lady: "Yeah, you get that a lot. Part of the circle of life." Luna: "I gotta ask, is it just vines that talk or do other plants talk too?" Lady: "Other plants talk, but trees stay in the same place all day and just say 'oh it's really sunny today, there's owls living inside me, I'm growing this new branch but it'll take a while'... they're very boring. But vines stretch everywhere, and sometimes you can just kinda hear one." Luna: "Well, I guess I'll have a lot to think about in regards to this and herbalism..." Lady: "Yeah, they're not the most intelligent beings, but they do talk sometimes." Tsuki: "So where in the forest is all this happening?" Lady (pointing in the general direction): "In the heart of the forest, over there. Just try not to trip or run into wildlife." Tsuki: "Like very small bear-like creatures?" Lady: "Yeah! If you find any small bear-like creatures, uh, funny story about that, that's part of why I was imprisoned here. I thought it'd be funny." Tsuki: "What is it exactly?" Lady: "I, uh... kind of used alchemy, and like oh my god you should have been here like 4000-10000 years ago--I wasn't born yet, but I heard stories--people here were weird, they would merge stuff, they had all these weird experiments, so I might have gone to the shallow ruins underground, tried one on a dog and bear, and merged them together... Whatever you find down in these ruins is kind of bad juju though, I don't recommend it."
Lucine: "...Can you turn this way so I can sketch your wings a bit better?" Lady obliges. Lucine goes back to scribbling. And no, Tsuki, we are NOT BURNING DOWN THE FOREST, says Luna. Luna: "If you want to burn down the forest, I won't let you. If you want to rob a bank, that's fine." Clara: "No, I won't let anyone rob a bank!" Lucine: "Oh? I can burn this down, I'm good at fire!" Clara and Luna: "NO!" Tsuki: "One day it'll come in handy, just wait!" Clara feels obliged to because she needs to uncorrupt the forest. Tsuki thinks we should do a quick shopping trip first. (OOC, we clarify that despite our characters' misgivings, Lucine is a hoot. At that, Tsuki thinks Clara should talk to an owl now.) So we go back to Bordeauriva to get supplies... which means going through Slowclerk. Nadyn suggests that Slowclerk simply must listen to Lucine talk about angels. Slowclerk (slowly): "Yes, I would love to hear all about angels. It takes me a while to look through your belongings and confiscate your weapons anyways." Lucine: "It's okay, I just have this stick..." He talks about angels while this is happening, and how he hopes they're as beautiful as he imagines in his mind. Slowclerk: "Interesting. Tell me more." Lucine: "One time I thought I saw an angel, and Giddy said, 'you shouldn't have had those mushrooms', then I passed out and woke up in an infirmary and thought I saw an angel again, but it was just a light, but I met a celestial a few minutes ago and she was really cool--" The lady patiently listens. Sure enough, there's a line forming behind us and they're getting more than a bit impatient; we've clearly made both of their days though. Tsuki hands over his stuff, including the fake leg. Lucine hands over the staff and (oops, classified as a weapon) the Star of Tomorrows. Shopping trip start!
But first, the First Corroza Bank, which thankfully has a pretty short line (afternoon on a weekday, not that busy). Teller: "Yes, hello, can I help you today?" Nadyn: "Yes, we'd just like to cash this cheque, please." Teller: "Yes, well, in order to do that, I will need the names of your party for our personal records." Everyone introduces themselves. The teller continues after going to the back to check something. Teller: "Okay, it seems like none of you have an account with this bank, except you,"--pointing at Tsuki--"I see here you are Tsuki and your last name is absent, but I believe someone by the name of Lara came here a few days ago and had a message for you embedded in--let me just..." He pulls something out of his desk. Teller: "Ah, I see. She wanted to tell you that all your papers went in. Congratulations, you are now a citizen of Corroza. She also made a deposit of 20 gold in your name." (Nadyn prestidigitates some firework-y sparks and sounds in congratulation.) Teller (taking out a punch card): "Would you like to withdraw anything from your account?" Tsuki: "Just leave the 20 in there right now." Teller: "Sure, of course. Here's the 150 to miss Nadyn, miss Luna, miss Clara, and mister Tsuki." We divvy it up (40 coins for most of the party, 30 for Nadyn). Teller: "Anything else anyone would like to do today? No? Alright then, have a nice day."
With the teller smiling and letting us off, and with us expressing our intent to purchase some healing potions, President advises us that we can buy a healer's kit (stabilize only) for only 5g since potions are expensive (minor healing potions are 50g for 2d4+2). Also, some good-to-know worldbuilding about Corroza is that the average citizen is well-educated about magic, so magic stuff tends to be more freely available. Why? We are told our characters probably don't care. Tsuki picks up a component pouch. Luna is advised she can also brew potions starting at level 3. In the meantime, we head out to buy some small healing potions (2 for Nadyn, 1 each for Tsuki and Luna); Tsuki haggles with the shopkeep for a 2g discount on his. Nadyn: "Still full price for the rest of us, I take it? Really going to give preferential treatment to your customers?" Shopkeep: "Well, look at this thing, it's really cute! It drives a hard bargain." Tsuki: (puppy dog eyes) Lucine buys a souvenir for Gideon (who is outside the knowledge of our characters): a small ceramic, iridescent bird that looks a bit like a rainbow. Lucine loves sparkly things and knows Gideon will lose in the woods love this sparkly bird. Restocked, we go in the direction the Lady of the Lake pointed us toward, helpfully accompanied by Key Gobblino--actually, yes, we let them loose in a shop, and they really liked this one quality-made giant goldfish plushie and were hugging it in the store with puppy-goblin eyes, so Clara buys it for them for 3g, which maybe counts as her good deed for the day.
Anyways. Welcome to the Forest. Indeed, the vines are actually singing the song "Welcome to the Forest" by Goblins 'n' Roses? and Clara gets a progressively increasingly weird look on her face, like she's trying to ignore something really annoying. Nadyn asks if Clara can, in fact, hear the vines; Clara confirms that they were singing. Nadyn's excited expression immediately mirrors when Lucine was talking to the Lady of the Lake. Clara obliges with a barely passable imitation of the song, looking extremely awkward and embarrassed when she finishes. Nadyn does a little clap and then... sings the song on repeat as she follows along. Apparently today is Pick On Clara day. But two hours of ear-worm suffering later, we make it to the general area the Lady of the Lake told us the corruption was. Lucine's looking for anything that moves to throw light at. Luna tries to spot the wyvern from here, and alas we cannot--we'd have to properly scout. Tsuki starts with a False Life and sneaks a bit closer to try and take a look, with Lucine Helping the sneak effort--he smells something rotten in the air, stops in his tracks and realizes there are gleaming bones up in the trees a bit of a ways away, with three ghouls patrolling the area in front of him. Tsuki hides in a bush and calls back that there are ghouls or something patrolling, and Lucine goes and hides in the nearest tree... then remembers he has an ability that could scare undead away, and uses Turn Undead after getting close enough to do so. All but one succumb to it and retreat, but one who was patrolling stays put--we hear its raspy voice say, "Hmm, where are you going?" as it turns, sees the party, and prepares to run away to presumably warn someone, and we roll initiative!
Lucine hits with a Star Bolt... and it drops dead instantly. (23 radiant damage.)
Nadyn realizes we never got the Lady of the Lake's actual name and asks if Clara can ask through the Meep Crown. Lucine, meanwhile, suggests we instead get going before the other fleeing ghouls come back. Tsuki pokes his head out like a prairie dog to look around, and ducks back into the bushes, with Lucine attempting to hide in there as well. Clara attempts the Crown Call. Clara: "Hi. What's up. It's ya Meep." Lady: "Hello? Hello? Hi! Is anything wrong?" Clara: "Oh! Um, we just wanted to ask if you're okay with us calling you the lady of the Lake, or do you have another name you want us to use?" Lady: "well I've been the lady of the lake for a long time, so you can call me that, or (the sound of hocking up a loogie with TV static)" Clara: "Okay, I'll keep calling you the Lady of the Lake." Nobody else hears Lady's side of the conversation, but Clara confirms that we can just call her the Lady of the Lake since Clara can't even pronounce her other name. Tsuki decides to ask next time we meet, just to be able to mimic it and to make President repeat the name. Lucine again suggests we run before his beautiful ability is wasted. We oblige. Tsuki sneaks closer, Nadyn follows closely, and we just have to make sure Clara's big chunky armor doesn't ruin our plan. Tsuki throws an eldritch blast in the direction of the dead body to make a distracting noise, and Lucine casts Guidance to muffle the clanking, which is sufficient to give us advantage. Since Clara's roll was decent and undead aren't very perceptive creatures, we somehow sneak past.
We walk and walk and walk and walk until we get to the heart of the forest. Nadyn, now at the front, sees a dragon baby next to a decrepit-looking undead figure in some black spooky spooky robes, and there's a mask over the figure's face. He doesn't notice us yet, being busy with the sickly baby black dragon in front of him, patting the dragon on the head and saying, "Don't worry, this won't hurt long; when you grow up you'll barely even remember this happened!" Nadyn knows that we simply must rescue this dragon so we can pet it, and starts by casting a triton Fog Cloud over the two... and then realizes we never rested after the metal elementals and she has no spell slots left. hopefully this isn't a TPK. Spooky notices something's not quite right as the fog shows up, and he prepares to fight. Nadyn shouts, "Run, little dragon, run!". Tsuki uses Chill Touch and manages to hit despite the fog, while Nadyn misses Vicious Mockery. The spooky wight, seeing the general direction the disturbances came from, whistles very distinctively (oh crud) and runs towards us. Luna misses a Faerie Fire, but follows up with a Hex. Clara rushes out and tries to attack, but rolls very badly, prompting this comically evil undead guy to do the "Ha, you didn't even hit me" thing. Lucine hits with a Star Bolt, though. Nadyn misses a Vicious Mockery again, but gives the last Bardic Inspiration to Tsuki. Tsuki's Dissonant Whispers fail as well, but he runs into the fog for better cover. Spooky somehow manages to hit Clara twice, once with a life drain and once with a longsword. The baby dragon slowly waddles away, but a ghoul spawns nearby. Luna hits the wight with an eldritch blast. Clara Lay On Handses herself to as full as she can. Key, seeing that their Meep is having trouble, says, "meep! I will defend my meep!" and tries to bite the wight's ankles. and CRITS.
Nadyn runs into the fog and successfully gets a Vicious Mockery in, followed by Tsuki with a Dissonant Whispers, which forces the wight to run away and gives Clara a successful opportunity attack (thanks to advantage from Lucine's Guiding Bolt), though Key does not take their own opportunity. Spooky wight, looking worse for wear, commands the ghoul to take the dragon into the bushes, then says, "You think rescuing this dragon will make a difference? We have many more where it came from," and hits Clara with one of his two attacks. Luna uses Feline Agility to catch up with the dragon-kidnapping ghoul, but it ran into the bushes, so she had to stop to try and spot it. Clara crits with a very satisfying Divine Smite (2d8 + 6d6). Note: this universe does have gods, and to be a cleric or paladin, you don't need to devote yourself to one of these gods, but one of these gods has bestowed their favor on Clara for whatever reason. This particular one said, "Wow, this one's stubborn. Okay, we'll bless her!" Between that and wanting to get extra credit on her good deeds for the day, her sword fills with power and flashes like an electrical short, and the wight is instantly reduced to a pile of ashes. President was expecting us to do a bit better than we did, despite being unrested, given that we had a cleric AND a paladin, but at least we took out the main threat. Lucine didn't see what happened on the other side of the fog with the dragon getting taken away, but with the fog gone, he joins Luna at the edge of the open area. Lucine: "Hey! Hey, what are you doing?" Luna: "I'm running after the ghoul--it picked up the baby dragon and started running away, so I came to save it!"
Nadyn, only partially hearing this but recognizing that Luna wouldn't have randomly run off for no reason and that the dragon was gone, infers that she should probably join her--by letting out a battle cry and dashing into the bushes, where she happens to slam headfirst into the ghoul and take some damage (but at least she found it!). Tsuki joins them, spots the ghoul, and yells to Clara to pick up the wight's mask for him. As the ghoul runs further into the bushes, Luna blasts it pretty hard. Clara picks up the mask and comes to the rest of the group, with Key breathlessly chasing after her and shouting, "I'm coming! I'm coming!" Lucine hangs back uncertainly, not fully aware of what's going on, but Nadyn continues rushing in with a Vicious Mockery along the lines of, "Get back here, you (not repeatable here) ghoul! Give back that dragon!" Tsuki critically blasts for an absurd amount of damage, obliterating it; the dragon seems unharmed but looks a bit sickly. Luna runs up to it to try and determine what's wrong--she can tell something's growing out of this thing, something pretty bad, and it could use immediate medical attention, but we don't know if it's communicable. For Lucine's benefit, Nadyn relays this information, and Luna says, "We need to help the baby!" Clara recognizes that the dragon is either saying nothing or not native to the forest. Luna, unfortunately, cannot speak with it either because it is not a beast. We hoist the dragon onto Luna's bedroll to carry it back to the Lady of the Lake nearby, who emerges from the lake as we approach.
Lady: "Yes, I have detected that you have something for me?" Nadyn: "Please help, this dragon is very sick and we can't pet it until whatever's growing out of it is healed!" Lady stares at the dragon, picks it up, and shrugs. Lady: "I don't worry about mortal diseases so much." She submerges the dragon in the water with her (to its slight protest), but she calms it down. Lady: "Okay, say aaaaah!" The dragon opens its mouth a bit. Lady: "Ohh. Interesting. Well, this reminds me of the time I made the bear-dogs. This is not good, and it won't be easy to fix. But, in the meantime, I could maybe stop it from being communicable, so..." She rubs the dragon's head and chants something in a guttural language we don't understand; the dragon seems slightly healthier, but not by much. Lady: "This will take some time to fix, if it can be fixed at all--it seems to be the same kind of thing as I found underground. I'm sure you could pet it now if you want; I'm sure it's appreciative for saving it from--a masked man, was it? And a ghoul." Luna (running over immediately to pet it): "I hope you'll feel better soon; I hope the nice lady can figure out what's wrong and help you feel better!" The dragon, sensing her friendly tone, squees happily. Tsuki wants to feed the dragon some of the bear meat he acquired the other day, but finds the foul smell of what used to be an undead eye in his bag (oh, right, the scavenging), presumably rendering the meat unsafe. He pours some holy water on it. Lucine: "...Why do you have so many gross things?" Tsuki: "I like collecting things!"
Anyways, maybe it's cleaner now? The pieces of undead dissolve in the holy water, which itself now stinks. On second thought, he should probably clean the bag later. Or burn it. Ruling out the possibilities of taking it back to town (ancient chimeric magic is probably out of the local clerics' wheelhouse) and finding Aaron to help (Lucine, being definitely Aaron's best friend, knows that Aaron probably ditched town), we agree to leave it under the Lady of the Lake's care for the time being, since she's probably the most qualified person around, since it has to do with the old tech in the caves (which actually we have no idea about other than what she already told us). She does explain that the past civilization that lived here really liked mucking with biology, and left both shell caves that have been mostly explored, and deeper caves guarded by sentries that let nobody pass regardless of their level (corroborating Doctor Alphonse's description from before). Hearing this, Lucine has some red-string-conspiracy thoughts about his weird teeth and wonders if it's linked to that old tech. We all send our well-wishes to the dragon as we head back toward town, all of us happy that we managed to at least immediately rescue the baby, and Lucine having some reason to be following us now. There's a celestial and some other undead-ish celestial. Eventually, maybe, they can have a cage match, or the undead one can help find a real celestial so they can punch each other. At that point, Lucine may just watch with popcorn or even join the brawl with a metal chair, depending on his mood.
Last Edit: Jun 12, 2022 23:04:29 GMT -5 by Coaster
After our morning of successfully clearing a suspect and our afternoon of research, this session starts by sunset. It is the evening before the Elders' meeting, for which we have invitations thanks to Rahul who still needs us to figure out who was behind the cursed armour and disseminated the paella smell among the entire council.
In preparation, we go shopping! We buy some affordable local elven clothes, which are floaty, robe-y and colourful. Now we will look like we are honouring local customs and settling in nicely, and we will look like we made an effort before showing up at the meeting. We are so good at local politics.
We see that the fancier local garments are embroidered with recurring themes and symbols which depict the history of the village. One such symbol represents a human king and an elven elder wrestling, and holding hands, to recall the alliance from when Uvina was united as one kingdom.
While we're shopping, Mara purchases a map of Kadu-vi and its surroundings, including elven resources and ancient places of knowledge, as well as a pair of manacles, since we're doing so much detective work. Vyn fills herself a bag of candy ball bearings. Khitah treats herself to a glaive, some javelins, a (non-darth) maul, a pike, and after all that, is amazingly not encumbered, having turned herself into the cutest walking arsenal.
Then we are headed to Amadou's for dinner, as he has promised to regale us with his amazing brisket spit roast! Khitah introduces us more formally to Amadou.
We ask him about the member of the tribe who vanished during their travels in the land of elf-supremacist elves. His face darkens as he recalls. It happened when Khitah was very small. A wee little thing. A Smol. uwu On the day Zaran - for that was his name - disappeared, no one had noticed anything amiss, at first. It was almost as if people forgot him entirely.
It was only when Amadou communed with the tribe's ancestral spirits that he realised that something was wrong and someone was missing. Amadou remembers having to really convince people that Zaran had once existed. He thought he was going crazy, until the protector ancestral spirits manifested, an extremely rare occurence, and the tribespeople suddenly felt a great loss as if someone had pierced a hole in their chest.
They searched everywhere, but the local jerkelves - of the land called Lanszu - were very unwilling to help and eventually threatened violence. "I remember his voice, different things about him," said Amadou, "but I don't remember his face. He was erased, for some reason." We rack our little low-level brains, but this does not sound like any magic we've ever heard of.
Amadou serves us his fantastically roasted meat, as well as super fabulous roasted veggies for our Vyn. Mara learns the recipe of the spitroast, in hopes of preparing it for Khitah some day and serving her a dish from her childhood. Amadou lets us know of another tribe member's whereabouts: one of Khitah's trainers, Gibril, is currently living in a human town. We also meet Amadou's bae! His name is Oumar and he is very very drowsy from copious painkillers. Vyn decides to ask Hari about this magic that erases people from memory. Hari stays still and silent for a very long time. Hari is processing. "Strange... This is something for Regalia, I would think. She lives West of the Institute." The Institute is a place of learning in Old Kadu-vi. Thanks to our new map, we know that's one day away from the village.
We sleep! Brain does weird cycles! Morning. The sun has risen again! Good! The sky is blue.
This morning, in the village, we hear more chatter than usual, about the Elders' meeting, from the people who sound interested in politics and taxes. We see a gnome in wizardy robes, an unusual sight. The gnome is mostly fine except for the fact that her eyes are solid black. "I am a sorcerer," she confirms. Vyn asks, "How long have you had your powers and do you have tips for controlling them?" The gnome replies, "I was touched by an elemental when I was child, and ever since then I could control the storms. It's not cloudy today so I can't show you, but I've always had this affinity with the weather. Do you know Doctor Gallatio?" "He did leave the city before I arrived", says Vyn. "He's definitely an enigmatic man but your best bet would be to find him deeper in Corroza, towards the capital - not near the Vanecians. His family got broken by the schism," says the gnome.
Vyn says that this is capital information! The gnome understands. Ah yes, as in capital punishment! No, Vyn meant as in capital city! Khitah thought it was to do with capital letters. Judging from the amount I have had to type, she is honestly the most correct.
The gnome gives us the address of Gallatio's wife, near the Corrozan capital city. She says that their relationship is chaotic, Gallatio and the wife keep divorcing and remarrying. Sometimes-Madam-Gallatio is a strong woman, euphemistically, and she will be known in the area. In order to get on her good side: whatever she's complaining about, we must agree with her. We're off to Eldercon! The village square has been repurposed from a bustling place to an austere forum. All around, we see various elves in a sizeable gathering, including each of the Council members we were told about, and Hari in their corner just doing their thing. Gopal and Rahul are there. Rahul moves in disconcerting ways, generally terrorising and making everyone uncomfortable.
Gopal waves. "Hello, glad to see you're here" They seem fine and healthy!
Thanks to our Perception, we notice one of the elven council members looking weaselly. As in, looking Sus? No, they just look like a weasel. And they are staring hard at Khitah, in recognition, before looking away. Well, that's nothing to worry about, right? Surely people around the village have been gossiping about us and the amazing buff lion lady! Weasel person is perfectly justified in glancing her way and would also be justified in developing a crush! That moment was nothing to worry about at all. D&D players are always suspicious of what the DM tells them, like when the DM reminds us that the sky is blue. Now THAT was suspicious!
The council begins, and it is as exciting as a town hall meeting. Motions, approval, blabla. The topic of refugee housing is brought up. Elder Anita, the most generic wood elf-looking wood elf in the world, a bit elderly, is in favour of continuing to house refugees. When contested by another elder - Vassu or Prena, she explains: "Recent days have shown me that I was perhaps too harsh on outsiders and refugees. I've had a change of heart after what I've heard of them." This elicits a genuine, non-creepy smile from Rahul. A majority of elders is now supporting refugees!
Eventually they also discuss Kadu-vi's relationship with Vanecia. 5 to 1 wish to honour the treaty with the Corrozans. They don't want to be a footnote in the region's history. Humans tend to view elves as a wildcard who can be swayed any which way. The elder who wrestled with King Syed was the one who decided to cement Kadu-vi as a local power. Elders Prena, Anita and Aua are uncertain.
After the meeting, everyone is still hanging around. An elder and Gopal go on stage, where Anita gives a shoutout to a group of charitable refugees who've helped the authorities crack a hard case. We go with Gopal to receive a special prize! Gopal comments on Anita's sudden and complete change of heart towards the refugees. The Superstars' casual sleuthing has helped secure these people in their new home. Good work, Superstars!
In the backroom of an antique shop, we are shown very ancient, fragile necklaces which were woven by Hari themself out of branches with rhododendron-like petals. Mara abstains from touching them before knowing what they do and who asked for the party to wear them. After all, we are still trying to find a... you know, a sneaky little animal! Like a rodent or a mustelid, which one was it?
Gopal starts to give us a set of elaborate instructions on how to wear the necklaces without breaking them, when Luna suddenly becomes Inspired! She recalls how the Weaselly elder - Vassu - seemed to recognise Khitah... even though they had never seen her in person actually, despite us walking around the village a lot, oops... almost as if they were recognising her........ from a drawing! A drawing like the fanart that we sent through the cursed armour portal!
As Luna realises this, Vyn feels a chill just like on the day when she crossed into the Shadowfell, and a large shadow wraith with markings like Khitah's manifests to fight us.
We start off really desperate for a long rest, so we head back to the refugee tents, huddled around a campfire and probably eating beef jerky for dinner or something. Tsuki scrubs his bag trying to clean the undeath and dank holy water out of it. (btw Lucine wandered elsewhere sometime between sessions due to scheduling difficulties.) But before launching into the campfire songs, Nadyn addresses the group.
Nadyn: "Okay, so. We rushed into the forest to save a kid, promptly experienced some of each other's deepest formative memories and almost died, and then immediately ran out again to meet Meep Prime and rescue a baby... dragon? wyvern? I know I was really tired by the time we got there, and I honestly feared more for our lives when that spooky wight guy whistled than when we saw prettyboy's army. We hardly even think to ask people for their names when they don't introduce themselves immediately. So. I feel like we should slow down and unpack things a bit, let's take a deep breath and get to know each other a bit before our next impulsive adventure. Anyone want to air their past traumas properly? Let's call it a bonding experience." Tsuki: "Nope, mine pretty much summed it up." Nadyn: "Fair. For me, I don't think I've ever had a goblin cousin, and I don't think I felt as free to beat up my family as it felt during the trial. It was cathartic, at least." Luna: "I had a complicated relationship with my parents, not as idyllic as that memory might have made it seem. Also my parents' cabin was a lot further away than my cabin, so it was weird to be able to see both at once." Clara: "I'm just sorry I hit anyone when we were memory-hopping. I'm sorry I was the weird grumpy scary strict mom." Key: "well, when I was young, my aunt died, and he was my favorite uncle--I'm not sure what the human equivalents are, but he was my favorite aunt, and losing her was very sad, because my parents didn't really understand what it was like to be a little goblin in this modern age. and look, you guys are gigantic!" Clara and Nadyn thank Key for confiding in us. Tsuki forgot Key was even there.
We also remember that Luna doesn't have a bedroll anymore (sacrificed it to carry the baby dragon), and apparently Tsuki never had one in the first place and just squatted in a corner or something (forgot to pick a starting kit, oops). Per President, this means Tsuki's back really hurts. Luna realizes she doesn't have any rations left either. So Tsuki and Luna each purchase 4 days of rations and a bedroll, and Clara gets 6 days of rations because as Meep she has a duty to help feed her goblin friend. Tsuki insinuates that Key could be emergency rations (but wouldn't actually want to eat a goblin).
Tsuki's bag is slightly bleached from how much he needed to scrub it. Nadyn says she hopes the group never has to meet her actual sister, and Luna internally wonders why that would be, other than what we already encountered. Clara contemplates whether it's a good time to say that she tried to save someone during the war and that someone died--but she doesn't want to ruin the quiet mood, so she keeps it to herself. Overnight, we have dreams of varying quality, and we wake up refreshed on a new day (now that we all have bedrolls and such. Tsuki's back doesn't hurt as much since he finally slept on something.)
To start the day, Nadyn and Luna head over to the library next to the musical instrument store to read up a bit on dragons and see what we were working with last session. It's a regular public library, albeit kind of messy and hectic, and the librarians are not the friendliest people in the world. But all things considered, everything is fairly well-organized, and we easily find books about dragons, starting with an encyclopedia that tells us things we could already guess (because we live in this world): dragons are very proud and think of themselves as the ultimate life-form, and we should be very careful dealing with them. Refining the search to specifically black dragons, we find that they like to hoard shiny stuff and are not nice creatures at all; they live in small families, baby dragons get kicked out of their lairs when they're old enough, and they have to show that they're strong and will gladly eat anything in their way--they're basically mean cats and the rest of the world are scared little mice. Checking on wyverns for comparison, they're very similar to dragons; finding a biology book, there's a new theory going around along the lines of convergent evolution, because wyverns are not intelligent like dragons, but nonetheless seem to have similar strategies for how to deal with things--so basically, off-brand of whatever color dragon. We remember that it did have four regular black dragon limbs (i.e. a dragon, not a wyvern), and the thing growing out of it wasn't so much a limb as a fungal outgrowth of something (kind of like one that affects ants), but not much we can get info on. There was a little guide to "how to tell a dragon from a wyvern", citing skull differences and such, and ending with a snappy note, "if you ever run across these, remember dragons are not wyverns and wyverns are not dragons!" Luna probably understood the material better than Nadyn, but Nadyn could at least recognize the pretty pictures and get the idea from there.
In the meantime, Clara goes through some training exercises to be extra swole, and sees if anyone needs help getting fruit from a tree or other helpful tasks. Tsuki looks for the pet mimic where we left it (Martha's inn room), since he doesn't have much else to do but window shop. He writes up a quick note for an air of legitimacy (as if it were from Martha and he's supposed to be meeting her there), and with Tsuki having advantage in forgery and whatnot, the innkeeper nods Tsuki along, saying, "Came to pick up her stuff, I bet? She hasn't been here for a while." Tsuki goes to said room, and it's very messy (it hasn't been cleaned since we crash-teleported into it), but we can tell that the bed has been used maybe once in the meantime.
The mimic is still there, and it kind of recognizes Tsuki, but still looks pretty beat-up; it doesn't seem like it can heal on its own very well. But the mimic knows that Tsuki knows that it's a mimic, so it watches him with its tongue out as if asking, "feeed meeeee". Tsuki gives it 2 gold pieces, which the mimic eats; it can't really speak, but it sort of nods and shakes back and forth like a cartoon to let Tsuki know that it appreciates the gold. Tsuki then tries to tie some rope on it like a leash, which is... technically animal handling?? but it works somehow?! It takes a while for him to tie the rope around the mimic, being very careful not to scratch it or make it hiss at him--nonetheless, it makes some noises when the rope wraps around its wood the wrong way--but Tsuki successfully ties it lengthwise and widthwise for a good grip on it, and having the rope, he tries to walk it out of the room. Note, as a mimic, it certainly can grow a few legs and walk out, but Tsuki has to convince him to try to do it, because he is a pretty small bird after all. He offers to feed it a dagger if it follows him, and the mimic happily obliges.
He walks the mimic (which sprouted two highly visible feet) downstairs. Into the central area of the inn, which is full of people. Sure, there are some teenagers that don't know what's going on, but the parents certainly do. Someone's dad sees the mimic and shouts, "OH MY GOD!"; everyone's heads turn towards the mimic, and they all chaos-run out of there. The innkeeper is stunned at the sight as well, and just stand there aghast. Tsuki tells him telepathically, "Don't worry, I'm getting rid of it." The gears turn in the innkeeper's head briefly, and he says to the panicked crowd, "Okay, okay, please, this is just a removal! Please exit calmly and in single-file lines." Aside to Tsuki, he adds, "Okay, get this thing out of here quickly." Tsuki: "Its name is Mimi!"
As he brings the mimic into the streets--nothing at all hiding the fact that it's a live mimic in the middle of town, since Tsuki doesn't know how he even would--and walks it toward the refugee camp of all places!--okay then. He has to pass by Slowclerk first, of course. Slowclerk: "Excuuuuse meeee, that chest does not seem like it is authorized." Tsuki: "Um..." (long pause) "...ah. it's just a removal and I have it fully under control!" Slowclerk: "Yes, indeed, it seems that, uh... I'm sorry, can I have your name, please? I already have it, but just for security purposes." Tsuki obliges. Slowclerk: "Alright. Do you have any legal guardian?" Tsuki namedrops Sleepyjoe. Slowclerk: "Very well, then. Do not cause any trouble or I will find you." Tsuki gets a shiver down his back from that, but salutes and slowly walks away with the mimic. She calls in the next in line and lets Tsuki go.
He resolves to make the mimic look friendly by giving it a hat or something. It could shapeshift if it wanted, but it will kind of always look like a mimic (conservation of mass and such, maybe about knee to hip height). Accordingly, it now has a unicorn-patterned exterior, and is a nice lavender color. The worst thing about this debacle is that now President needs to come up with full-on character notes for Mimi the Mimic. Anyways, Clara is the first party member to witness this spectacle (and did see it approach with legs a moment ago, though it suddenly looks mostly like an inanimate chest), and the nearby refugees are understandably uncomfortable. Clara (knee-jerk): "What is that?" Tsuki: "Mimi." Clara: "Is that what it is, or what you named it" Tsuki: "Named it. I fed it a random thing from the tent." Clara: "Where'd you find it?!" Tsuki: "You've met it before..." Clara's brain starts loading/buffering for a while until she realizes it's from Martha's inn room. Clara: "Oh, that mimic... Does Martha know about this?" Tsuki: "I don't think she'll mind." Clara: "You'd better be sure. My good deeds will be cancelled out if we commit a crime." She adds loudly: "We're not here to commit a crime!" In any case, she doesn't understand what's going on and is too surprised to process it fully. She asks if we're bringing it to the tent, and Tsuki confirms (and reaffirms that its name is Mimi).
Clara wonders how Key is doing with this. Sure enough, Key is afraid of the mimic. They will not go within 10 feet of the mimic. They do not want to be anywhere near this mimic that is clearly large enough to eat them. Accordingly, Clara tells Key to keep their distance if they don't like it, and Key grips their goldfish plushie tightly. Around this time, Luna and Nadyn come back and spot this box sitting in their tent. Nadyn: "Is that the..." (trails off) Tsuki (feeding it a fork): "Yes, it's Mimi." Luna (startled): "Um. Is this the same mimic we met before?" Tsuki: "Yes." Luna: "Okay, wow, so Tsuki gets a pet before I do. Jeez." Tsuki: "It has unicorns on it..." Luna: "Well, that's... nice at least? Wait, what have you been feeding it?" Tsuki: "...uhhh..." Luna (more firmly): "What kind of stuff?" Tsuki: "Some gold... a dagger... we might not have much cutlery anymore..." Clara: "Does this mean we essentially have a walking trash bin?" Nadyn: "Don't speak about Mimi that way!" Clara agrees to be nice to Mimi, and yeets the sus martial arts flyer she's been carrying into the mimic's mouth.
While we're discussing Mimi, we are accosted by the guard Sleepyjoe and his friend; Sleepyjoe seems to have finally gotten a good amount of sleep independently! (character development!) and his friend, who we have seen before, just stares for a while at Tsuki and says, "...Ugh... Sooo... He's your legal guardian, huh, bird?" Sleepyjoe: "Don't call him 'bird', that's racist! He's a citizen now, and his name is Tsuki." Guardfriend: "Ugh. Tsuki. Oh god... From what I can surmise, you got that mimic from the inn, from the room of Martha Brautz, who told you to remove it." Tsuki: "Yes." Guardfriend: "Why did you bring it to the refugee camp?!" Tsuki: "I didn't want to let it loose somewhere! And it's friendly." Guardfriend: "Friendly?!" Mimi grows arms and makes a heart shape with them. Guardfriend: "Oh god... Listen, it's only a matter of time before you lose control of that thing, and you guys don't really seem to be needing these lodgings anymore anyways. I'm just gonna warn you that you are going to be asked to leave in like, five minutes." Nadyn: "Oh! Wait! What's your name? I'm trying to be better about that. And pronouns." Guardfriend: "Saman." (She spells it out on being asked, then clarifies she/they pronouns, and that Sleepyjoe, "the guy over here", uses he/him. It's established that he uses guy/guy BROnouns.)
Anyways. We might need to leave Bordeauriva soon, because we're technically no longer poor refugees, and we kind of brought in a LIVE MIMIC. Saman: "Well. It would be better if you escorted yourselves out, please." Nadyn asks if we should crash at the Lady of Lake's place or find some other town. Clara agrees with the former. Tsuki makes puppy-dog eyes at Sleepyjoe. Sleepyjoe: "Listen, dude, I'm so sorry--I'm just following orders from higher-ups, and I can't just let you keep a mimic with all these people who lost their houses and have nothing." Saman: "Yeah, you can come back when you, uh... don't own a dangerous mimic anymore. You know, maybe visit your old buds later." Tsuki realizes we probably need our own base now. Clara wonders if our next adventure is homeownership. Really, saving up enough to buy a house in today's housing market? Or saving the city so they give us one--the classic way. (The second classic way is to commandeer someone else's house through theft and/or murder, but that's a bit too chaotic even for this group.)
Okay, Lady of the Lake time. We get out of the town in short order and take a brisk walk along the lake to the place where the Lady of the Lake is, and it takes a few hours to get there with Mimi in tow. The Lady of the Lake is there, and we see her sort of baby-talking the baby black dragon, which is treading water a bit; he looks a little better, but not 100% yet. She's also making him do some vocalizations in exchange for treats and so on. Nadyn is sure Mimi and the dragon can be good friends/playmates, and Clara doesn't mind that idea. Tsuki agrees that a guard mimic at a base would be perfect. Luna, being responsible, asks if we could say hi and see if they even want a mimic first. Clara agrees and does so, waving and saying, "Hi! It's us again!" Lady of the Lake flaps her wings a few times to shake off some water, then turns her head (more in an owl way than a human way) and sees us. Lady: "Ah! Well, it's the Meep again! Hello, your highness!" She bows. Clara: "Eeeeeeehhh, you don't have to bow! But hi, we're here again!" (Clara is now feeling awkward and internally screaming for help.) Lady (bowing even further): "Ah, but the protector of the forest deserves all the fawning she can get!" Clara stammers and looks awkward, unsure whether to react and make things even worse. Key (unhelpfully): "yay! you're great! you should accept all appraisals from the lady of the lake! she is always kind and right!" Clara: "Yes, yes, the Lady of the Lake is always kind." Clara clearly wants this conversation to move away from herself as much as possible. Luna (interrupting and rescuing her): "Hi again! How's the baby dragon we brought you doing?" Lady: "Oh yeah, he's doing great! Say hello!" Dragon: (adorable chirp) Lady throws him a little treat. Clara and Luna say awww.
Nadyn: "What kind of treat is that?" Lady: "Oh, just a piece of rabbit." Luna (quietly): "Oh no." Lady: "Dragons are carnivores and all that." Luna: "Ah, I... suppose that's fair. Glad to hear that he's doing better though!" Lady: "Yeah, he's doing great! It's kinda hard to raise a baby dragon, uh, especially a baby black dragon. I'm pretty sure they're supposed to stay with mom for at least 10 years. This thing is barely even a year old." Luna: "Well... I guess you can be mom then?" Lady: "Hmm. Well, I can fly... ah, Mama (guttural real name), doesn't it ring and sing upon the ears?" Tsuki perfectly mimics the name, being the only one in the party who could properly vocalize it. Clara: "Yup, that sure is music." Lady: "Right. Most mortals don't really appreciate demon names, but I think my name is pretty excellent. So why'd you come back? Just to check on the little guy?" Tsuki: "Yeah! And also we got kicked out of town." Clara: "Because of Mimi." Lady: "Mimi?" Clara: "The lavender chest, with the unicorns." Lady: "...Oh, that's a mimic." Tsuki: "It is now my child." Clara: It's named Mimi now." Lady: "Ah, your child. So I'm guessing you're the father. How did that happen?" Tsuki: "Well, spend some time together, things happen, feed it a coin, next thing you know it's following you..." (trails off) "...Adoption." Lady: "Would be hard to carry around. Mimics aren't exactly friendly; they're kind of ambush predators, and I mean... it's hard to... tame them? So I don't necessarily blame the nearby town for kicking you out." Tsuki pets Mimi. Nadyn wonders if Mimi is any tamer than Bosco the Bear or if it would equally or moreso harass other travelers. Tsuki wonders if the Meep would have to protect it in that case, what with it becoming a creature of the forest.
Lady: "The last time someone introduced a species--the beardog. Not naming names, not blaming anyone for past actions, okay?--it did not end well for the old ecosystem of this forest. But, potentially, maybe, it could... well, I wouldn't want it to accidentally eat a goblin, since goblins would absolutely try to open a chest in the woods, and we wouldn't want that. It could be a nice fixture in the house and catch fish in the lake, which I wouldn't mind, since there's an invasive thing coming around from one of those human things west or south or somewhere about there. It could probably eat the stupid koi fish that are infecting this lake. Does it want to eat koi fish?... Sure, I'll keep an eye on it and it could help with the koi fish problem." Tsuki: "And if some annoying travelers show up... well, that too." Lady: "They certainly are annoying. One of them even tried to proposition me! Where are people's manners these days?" Tsuki: "They have districts for that." Lady: "You don't just find a powerful demoness in the forest and say, WELL EXCUSE ME MA'AM, I PUT THE 'STD' IN 'STUD', like--who does that??" Luna: "Ewww." Tsuki: "Someone who thinks they're very charismatic and fails at it." Lady: "Yeah, the first few times that happened I just had them get eaten by a bear. Now I just give them wedgies and hang them from tree branches."
Tsuki looks up to see if anyone's hanging right now. Sure enough, there's a skeleton hanging there, with some vines growing through it and singing their own rendition of "Welcome to the Forest". There's also a raven living in there. Raven: "Hi." Clara: "Um, hi?" (waving at the skeleton) Clara (clarifying to the group): "...There's a raven in there." Raven: "It's free real estate." Clara: "Well, you're lucky--you can go live in a skeleton and nobody will ask you to leave just because you have a mimic." Raven (scoffs): "Ha, human society, man. Can't believe they make you work all these hours just to not afford a house." Tsuki just waves at it. Clara (to group): "It's telling us about how our society is quite terrible, and honestly it's not entirely false." Tsuki: "Sounds right. Bring one mimic out and suddenly everyone panics!" Clara: "And look at this raven! It can stay in a skeleton for free and nobody's going to drive it out!" She starts a rant about housing prices, which is ironic since she comes from a noble house. It's par for course, though; she's a paladin, so she cares about these things. Tsuki goes back to petting Mimi. Luna (looking up at the raven and waving): "Hi!" Raven: "Hello!" Clara: "It said hello." Luna: "Oh, I know, I can hear it too." Clara: "Well, at least I guess I can translate bird now, among other animal tongues, and the singing vines... and the butterflies... the singing vines in the skeleton, yeah."
Lady: "Well, speaking of your duties to this forest, Miss Meep, you know, you people left Lucine here and... nice fellow. Will not shut up about angels or someone who I gather is his husband or whoever. Um, he has told me about the exact circumstances in which you found this little guy"--she pats the little black dragon--"hmm. I must say, there has been increasing undead activity about, and well, I'm not saying you're deliberately hiding things from me--frankly, I don't think that's very possible--but if you could give me some more context as to what exactly is happening here, that would be most appreciated." Nadyn: "Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity!... Anyways, there's a prettyboy zombie raising an army in, uh, the other side of town's forest?" Tsuki: "Maybe a lich." Nadyn: "Right, and then we found this wight in the forest here--not sure how much Lucine told you" Lady: "I need to know more about this lich. In case anyone sends anything my way, I need to know what's going on." Tsuki: "All this undead activity could be connected. I'm guessing the wight is maybe an underling? Don't know." Lady: "Seeing as this has some repercussions, and I don't really have a way to communicate well with the outside world, I know there's some kind of war going on, but I would like to know more about this lich. And, well, Clara, since you're the Meep, I think the best way for you to protect this forest is to find out what this lich wants, why it would and how it could even do something like this, and if possible, work on a way to defeat it."
Clara (to the party): "I think it sounds like a good deal. Protect the forest, find out what the lich wants, and most importantly, protect the forest." Granted, the lich is also kind of tinkled off at us. Tsuki: "Yeah, I think it wanted the dragon for something, maybe an 'undead dragon' idea? I think we saved it from that, and he could be trying to make a small army of undead things, not just humans." Clara: "And we don't want that." Tsuki: "Yeah. Probably not." Luna: "Yeah, I'm all for protecting the forest, but I also worry, because that lich definitely seemed powerful and also wanted to kill us." Lady: "Even more reason to try and find out what its weaknesses are, don't you think?" Tsuki: "Well, we know his brother." Lady: "Hm, that is a good idea." Tsuki: "We can use him as bait!" Luna: "Wait, no! Not bait!" Tsuki: "Well, I think he gave us most of what he knew before, so..." Lady: "And it would help if you got a little bit stronger than you currently are." Nadyn: "Well... we went through a drug-induced trip through our own turmoil and got no stronger, so we might be waiting a while." Lady: "There's no real way to know what will make you stronger other than going out and trying."
President takes a moment to inform us that we could either go to Albaiin as we considered a few sessions ago, or to one of the larger cities to try to get more information. Presumably we know that the Aasimar twins, or at least Aaron, was formerly an officer in the army, so going to a large city could help us figure out what's going on. Tsuki's vote is on the large city. Clara concurs: "Go to the city, get info, get stronger, and not die." The closest largest city is Cadako. Key's just happy to be here. Probably shouldn't take them with us. Maybe they've got family or maybe not, we either didn't ask or didn't get enough information. Also, note that the memories we had were definitely not accurate-to-life, and Luna clarified that her cabin was near Albaiin and her parents lived much further away, which makes her more okay with going there than she otherwise would be. Anyways, the group decides on Cadako as our next destination. The road there should be fun enough--there are soldiers, so it should be a fun trek!
Since presumably we had a discussion in this vein in-character rather than having it instilled instantly by magic player Discord beams, the Lady of the Lake says, "Hm. Well, you know what, that sounds like a good plan! I'm sorry I cannot really help that much, but uh, maybe this should get you started." She submerges her hand, takes it out of the water, pulls out a sphere of liquid water (not ice or anything like that), and says, "Consider this perhaps a jump start to you getting stronger." The water magically turns into celestial-ish light and it covers all of us and WE ARE NOW LEVEL 3! So her way of trying to help us get to the bottom of this seems to be that angelic light of hers (we probably hear Lucine in the distance crying out in anguish at missing this moment. We can say "remember that time we were cloaked in angelic light and got more powerful?" just to mess with him next time we see him. And all the other angelic creatures we definitely absolutely met along the way). And okay, no combat this session, sure, but there was dramatic tension! Mimi is being left underwater for now to eat invasive koi fish. Tsuki feeds it a tinderbox and pets it again. Also as of sometime before the start of this session, President is a vampire now and appreciates that people are finally seeing vampires as people and not just old coots trying to live their old coot lives in Romania. Vlad really gave them a bad name.
A big Wraith has appeared! It is trying to corner us in this room on the second floor of an antique shop.
The big wraith is big, and it looks mean, not friendly! This looks clear enough even for pacifist adventurers who try to befriend everything! It has EVIL in its eyes! It seems pretty mad. It has a lot of tribal markings in the style of Khitah's tribe.
We notice that a ray of sunlight trailing in through the window seems to be poking holes in this mean big wraith. Our speedy Vyn aims a Witch Bolt at the wraith, but it's not very effective. Then the also speedy but not rabbit-levels of speedy wraith does a spinning attack and Gopal is knocked out! It smashes so much antique furniture that the debris forms a patch of difficult terrain. The wraith then disappears into shadow. Thanks to Vyn's knowledge of the Shadowfell, we know that it can't reach up for us out of the shadows, at least.
Khitah goes into rage and carries Gopal out of the room in which the wraith was trying to corner us. Mara follows her to safety, casting a Ray of Frost to try and draw the Wraith out of the shadows. Luna joins them and casts a Cure Wounds on Gopal, who gets back up, holding their breath, and thanks her.
"I think we need to fight this fight on our terms and not on its terms."
Vyn lithely bounds out of the room and readies another sword burst. The wraith comes out again and does another spinning attack! It hits Vyn, Gopal and Khitah. Vyn catches it with her Sword Burst which is more effective as the wraith is now in the sunlight. Gopal disengages and pokes the wraith with a spear, then backs off while taunting it.
Khitah's attack deals it some damage, leaving it looking weak. Mara hits the wraith with a Magic Missile and it screams and slinks into shadows again. Vyn knows this gives us plenty of time to prepare for the next round.
So we draw the curtains and Khitah smashes through a boarded window to let in as much sunlight as possible. This restricts the wraith's terrain as we wait. Vyn also stabs part of the ceiling to create more window.
As soon as the wraith reappears, we are ready and blast it with all we've got! Khitah smashes, Mara's Second Magic Missile hones in, Luna whacks with her magical druid whacky stick, Gopal stabs it from above while Vyn casts Witch Bolt from below. The gang is all there and our successive attacks look amazing in slow motion.
Once the cloud of dust from the Big Ball of Violence has cleared, the spirit of Zaran, Khitah's tribe's long-missing member, stands there, no longer shadowy or wraithy. He notices the party and gives us a dignified, respectful nod. He swirls his hand as if to make cotton candy, and some kind of magical energy appears, looking indeed like cottoncandy being spun by a cotton candy machine.
When this magical cotton candy reaches the party, Luna feels a stronger connection to the stars; Vyn feels a surge in her shadow powers; Mara feels as though they've discovered something past a block of combat magic; and Khitah feels a bond with her fallen companion. The spirit says "Thank you" as it slowly disappears, in a voice only audible to Vyn.
Gopal says they need to check with Rahul and suggests that we fix up the shop in the wake of the battle. But the party recalls that we were attacked after an encounter with an awfully suspicious Elder, in this attack perfectly timed to be out of sight of the other Elders. Since the suspect was in a very public place, we should check what Vassu the weaselly elf is doing now that we've been attacked! And quickly, before they can construct a solid alibi!
With this quick thinking, we run back to Eldercon. Rahul holds Gopal's cheeks like a concerned mother, Gopal is terrified.
We spot Vassu, sitting with the elven elders as normal, but to our perception they do look like they've just sustained some sort of hit. Mara and Luna's perceptions note that Vassu is slightly keeled over, holding a hand over their heart. They make eye contact briefly, but try to play it off.
Meanwhile, an aide has come over to us to fuss over the state of the very fragile necklaces, but we wave them off.
Mara huddles to consult the party and quickly pulls together a plan: go over to Vassu and loudly fuss over them to draw the Elders' attention to their current state, then yell about the wraith attack with Gopal's testimony to corroborate.
After we have spilled this tea right in the middle of Eldercon, Rahul confirms that they find Vassu suspicious, even calling them "Nalariel". "Tell me, Nalariel, what does the armour have to do with any of this?"
In response, Vassu's face darkens figuratively and literally as they turn into a mass of tarry shadow, flit to Rahul as fast as lightning and strike them down before dissipating altogether. Our terrifying spymaster is down.
Everyone in attendance is confused. Even Hari, who was not paying much attention so far, is finally observing the scene. "Huh, interesting," says our favourite socially anarchistic plant computer person, "Nalariel, you say?" Unlike fake poser elves, true elves do not see brushes with death as dire, so Hari is not affected by the gravity of the situation. They go up to Rahul and thoughtfully add "Nalariel, I have not heard that name in a long time."
Gopal drags Rahul away to be treated. The Council remains confused.
Hari continues to think aloud: "I seem to remember, in a time far before even I existed, that there was a legend of Nalariel, an elf who had transcended death."
Mara apologises to the Council for the commotion and the damage to the necklaces, clarifying that we were attacked and had to defend ourselves.
Elder Surya tells us that this is no issue, as sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures.
When we prod Hari further on these mysterious happenings, they tell us: "If anyone knew anything about Nalariel, it would be Regalia."
Like people reading an entry in the dictionary and having to look up words in the definition elsewhere in the dictionary, we ask Hari about Regalia.
"Regalia and I may have not left on the best of terms but she is kind, she will help you if you ask for help." Hari gives us a lead on where to find this person.
The party decides to go ahead and meet this Regalia, but first, let the foodie party prepare a gift basket for Rahul! Before Rahul we visit their granddaughter Alex, who is still in her hamster ball jail, scraping together a sad sandcastle.
"OH hello, visitors, finally!" she exclaims. "How are you guys?
"You might want to sit down for this," Luna warns her.
Alex does so, but is still excited.
Luna takes up the task of breaking the news: "Your grandma is in the hospital."
Alex is shocked to hear this. "How did this happen, what went on?"
"It's a long story," says Luna.
Vyn adds, "It has to do with wraiths, but they will be fine."
"I hate wraiths, hope I never see another shadow in my life."
"You kinda have shadows behind you," Khitah warns her - "regular shadows, not wraiths, sorry, didn't mean to scare you."
"Thanks for clarifying," says Alex, "I was about to cry. Anything else?"
Luna tells her of our plan to bring Rahul a gift basket and invites her to participate.
Alex asks her local bored guardian elf for pen and paper, writes a letter and folds it up. "Don't look, but if they read this they'll understand."
We are not technically supposed to know that Alex is here, since Rahul was keeping her so very extra safe, so it might be dangerous to bring them something from her, but we trust the contents of her letter to appease them. Hopefully, this will even get her out of hamster jail! We fruit-ninja a lovely fruit arrangement and add a teddy bear holding a knife to appeal to Rahul's tastes.
The guards in front of the hospital recognise us - "Oh boy, here they go again" - but let us in.
Rahul reads Alex's letter first, and is very taken with the knife.
Mara apologises for the impulsive public tea-spilling plan that provoked the villain and led to Rahul being attacked. Rahul accepts the apology.
The last time Rahul encountered Nalariel was a hundred years ago, when King Syed was still alive. Rahul was the spymaster of Uvina at the time. There was a conspiracy against a powerful human kingdom.
"This Nalariel might have held a grudge against me. Some people say that my personality has changed, but I feel as good as ever. The last time I saw them, it was in Vanecia. It would be difficult for Nalariel to blend in a human kingdom for long." Rahul mentions a location deep into Vanecia as a place to search if one wished to seek out Nalariel.
Before we set off on our next adventure to investigate Regalia, Khitah goes to say bye to Amadou and Oumar, who treat us to lunch. Khitah tells the dad figures that the wraith looked like Zaran, and that she got ancestral knowledge from him as he passed to the afterlife. She remembers a few things about him.
Amadou says, "Interesting, that would explain some of the rough reception that we've got here. Thank you Khitah, it is at least something that I know the answer to now."
With our shiny new map we begin to navigate the forest, identifying a lot of weird old trees on our path. Since we are clumsy non-wood-elves, the initial trip takes us 12 hours.
We stop at the repurposed ruins of old Kadu-vi: an Institute of learning! It looks overgrown but not in an uncontrolled fashion, this part of the forest seems to be gently managed by hippie tree-hugging elven means.
Stationed at the door is a guard with a magic wand. We introduce ourselves and our purpose, mentioning that we are sent by Hari - yes, THE Hari - to see a Regalia.
The guards chat to each other in ye olde Shakespearean Elvish. They offer to provide us with accommodations if we take up some guard duty. Mara wonders whether they are shortstaffed.
Our accommodations are quite nice from the inside, they may have been someone's house at some point. The very old groundskeeper elf, very grouchy, is adamant that we must not go into any other building.
We all take our night watch shifts, it is mostly quiet. Mara asks their teamed-up guard for tips on intimidation, but only manages to looks edgy.
Luna is very busy stargazing and points out constellations at her guard!! The guard appreciates, but reminds her to stay on track. "Recently there have been undead around the area, they don't appear to be hostile strangely enough, but have no trust for ghouls and ghasts."
During Vyn's shift she spots movement, of a humanoid figure walking on all fours with very long arms. The guard whips out their magic wand, readying a spell with a "Halt, who goes there!"
The being who goes there has a completely detached jaw, smells bad, is maybe probably undead and looks like a ghoul. "Leave or I vaporise you," says the guard. The ghoul is confuzzled and walks away.
"Something's off about these ghouls," says the guard, "they usually don't care to understand you or heed warnings, if there's any coordination in them... be careful when you're out there."
To Vyn, this looks like regular old necromancery. The ghouls look like they're not from these woods. Oh no, an invasive species! The guards ask us not to provoke them. They're only out at night.
After this rest we head to Regalia's, travelling this time through completely unmanaged wild forest. Hari specified the location on our map. We walk until we hit an invisible wall! This gives our Vyn an "Ow!" Khitah is concerned. "Vyn are you okay?" "I'll walk it off," says Vyn. She walks off many things.
Vyn taps the invisible wall with her spoon. It sounds like metal hitting stone. After a bit of tap-tapping, we see a glimpse of seeing stone for a split second.
Vyn climbs a tree and guesses at the contours of the wall. We tap all around the invisible wall and eventually hear a tap on a wooden door! Khitah found it.
All that remains is to get the attention of the person residing beyond the door inside this invisibly walled complex. We could yell! We could knock a lot!
Anyway, we decide to perform a play in front of the door! Mara makes the most of this opportunity to stage a dramatic death they've been practicing, Luna uses druidcraft for fancy audio effects, Khitah is our hero.
Eventually we hear clapping and the door is opened by an ancient classic vampire. Regalia welcomes us into her home and offers us............... food.
We start our session having just gotten some mysterious light from the Lady of the Lake, and want to get from Bordeauriva to Cadako. It would be good to find a map, but it's unclear if we're even allowed back into Bordeauriva to find one (or if it's just if we had Mimi, or specifically Tsuki, the one who started it anyways). Nadyn (half-jokingly) suggests we disguise Tsuki... with a beggar costume and the Leg. Clara: "Here we go again..." Tsuki does mention that he can copy the map perfectly as long as he sees it (because kenku). Clara asks if we can trade a good deed for a map. Nadyn remembers that libraries let you actually TAKE books as long as you bring them back, so we could bring a map out to Tsuki, let him copy it, and take it back. Luna suggests Tsuki could try just going into town and the library by himself first because he could be allowed in anyways, for all we know. Lady of the Lake hears our plotting and asks us to tell her how it goes. It takes us a few hours to get back to town. Tsuki tries to wander on in, but two guards immediately do the thing where they cross their spears to block the way. Guard 1: "We were told to watch out for you." Clara: "Why?" Tsuki: "As long as I don't have the mimic it's supposed to be okay." Clara: "...But why?" Guard 1: "Because this BIRD THING takes MIMICS and just PUTS THEM IN THE CITY SQUARE." Tsuki: "First of all, I removed it from a tavern; did you want to leave it in there so the next person to visit gets eaten?" Guard: "Well, if it makes you feel any better, we're not holding you for any super official reasons, but she kind of insisted."
As the guard is saying this, we see a very familiar squad of halflings come in like a swarm of bees towards Tsuki. He is asked primarily by his kind of protective uncle dad figure man, "Oh my god! Tsuki, Tsuki, are you okay? The mimic didn't hurt you, did he? Oh my god!" Uncle looks Tsuki in the eye to make sure he's okay and continues, "Tsuki! It's way too dangerous to just have a pet mimic--or whatever you thought you were doing with that mimic! Oh my god! Are you okay?" Tsuki: "Its name is Mimi. It's outside the town safe somewhere." Uncle: "Outside town, good, safe somewhere..." Tsuki: "It won't bother anyone in town at all." Quietly: "(I miss it)" Uncle: "Okay, Tsuki, just be careful, okay? Don't get into trouble, okay young man?" Tsuki: "By the way, anyone here have a map of the area?" Uncle: "Oh, a map of what area?" Tsuki: "The region." Uncle: "Oh yeah, of course we have a map, yeah." The halflings talk amongst themselves chaotically, and then produce something that they say is a whole map of Uvina. Tsuki: "Cool, can I borrow it?" Them: "Sure?" Clara: "We'll bring it back!" Them: "Are these your new friends?" Tsuki starts scribbling a copy of the map on a spare piece of paper. Tsuki: "Oh, yes, my friends." Lara: "Oh, I'm so glad you have some new friends! You know, he was always kind of a loner." Tsuki (regarding the party): "This one does things, and that one does things, and that one does other things..." Clara: "Ah. thanks." She gestures at Luna and Nadyn. "They do more than things and other things." Luna: "Yeah, I do stuff!" Tsuki: "Musical things and plant things? I remember there was a plant involved."
Luna, being the most Wisdomy of the group, sees that while all the halflings are pretty easygoing people, one in the background can be heard making not-so-kind remarks about Tsuki. When Lara was saying, "He's such a loner, I'm glad you have friends", this other was saying, "Gee. I wonder why"--clearly not particularly enthused about Tsuki, Luna notices. Luna walks closer to Tsuki and whispers to him, "Who's that one over there," point-without-pointing towards that one halfling. Said halfling is one of the younger members of their squad, and the daughter of the overprotective cool uncle. Tsuki, being Tsuki, has never really paid her much attention, but he does know her name is Relach, and while she's always been decent enough to Tsuki's face, he's aware of her feelings. Tsuki: "It's just something she always does. I don't think I mind that much--I'm kind of used to that weirdness anyways." Luna: "Aw, I guess that's fair. You don't have to deal with people being mean to you, but I understand." It's not like Tsuki switched out Relach's cheese with bad cheese or anything (??), which is good, because that wouldn't have been a good deed, and halflings do like their cheese after all.
After a while, Tsuki comes up with basically a perfect replica of the map and gives back the original. Measuring against the map, we determine that trekking on foot at travel pace would take 5-6 days, while really rushing would still take 5 days. There are a few little pit stops along the way, including a nice little town called Kaer (not Car, not Carbs; this isn't that kind of road trip). Luna wonders if there are any horses around here we could travel with, and it turns out that there are, in fact, carriage services that promise to take you to Cadako in 3 days, with pit stops at the aforementioned towns to switch out horses. It's basically like a magical horse bus, and they charge 5 gold per person for the entire round trip (or 2.5 gold one way), including luggage.
As our party inquires about this service, Clara and Luna have the opportunity to see the horses in the stable and possibly listen to the juicy horse gossip. Clara doesn't want to eavesdrop but is curious about whether she can talk to larger creatures, and Luna is all about talking to horses. One horse is named Ben, the other is named Toki-Toki, and they are chatting with each other in the manner of two aunties or uncles having a cigar and looking out from their porch.
Ben: "Ugh, kids these days, they can't appreciate a good sugar cube. Now they're hooked on these newfangled fruit-flavored zero cubes. I'm not sure I really trust them--humans put a lot of weird stuff in that cube. I prefer a simple refinement, and I wish they would have gone back to apples." Toki: "Ugh, yeah, I hear that brother." Ben: "And can you imagine? The roads these days!" Toki: "Well, at least they're better maintained..." Ben: "Yeah, but like--frigging--all those uniformed humans? Ugh. You know, I hear they're just sending them off to die." Toki: "Oh, you think humans would do that?" Ben: "I had this cousin. Really fast guy. Went into the army, and word is, that's what's happening. Not good for the horses either. Humans are like that--we're just animals to them." Toki: "Well, hey, you know, I wouldn't say that. They've always treated us well." Ben: "Of course they'd treat you well, but if they had to choose between you or another human..." Toki: "Hmm, good point."
And so they continue. Luna is somewhat hidden behind a corner (not "properly hiding" but just standing a bit away) rather than conspicuously listening in front of them, and Clara doubts the horses know she can understand them, so she's in full view, walking around casually and pretending to hang around. Ben: "See that human over there? Haven't seen her before. Customers always think they can barge in and just do what they want." Toki: "I don't know--there was this one kid who wanted to pet me and gave very good scratches." Ben: "Okay, but for everyone like that there's like 20 or 100 or 1000--or whatever, numbers are weird--that just come here thinking they could get some kind of stupid discount or whatever, and the humans just want to give less shiny things to the other humans--I hate it so much." Luna slowly peeks around the corner and walks in towards the horses. Luna: "Hi! I overheard your conversation, and I'm sorry to hear that you've had so many bad experiences with humans and other people like me. But, you should know that there's definitely a lot of us that don't just see you as what you feel like most humans see you as." #NotAllHumans Ben: "Hm. Well, yeah, no offense, lady, but I mean--ugh, not all bad, it's just sometimes it gets to me, you know?" Toki: "Hai! Um. I don't want to have to bring this up, but you have cat ears." Luna: "That I do." Toki: "Most humans don't." Luna: "That's correct. I guess I'm not exactly human, I'm half-tabaxi, so that explains the cat ears and the otherwise mostly human-ness." Ben: "No offense: all of you humans look the same to me. I dunno, like, you guys have two arms, two legs, a head, and stand upright on two feet, very distinctive. something something featherless biped. Also we note that Ben isn't actually smoking, just has a piece of hay hanging out of his mouth.
Clara asks to pet the horses, as does Luna. Toki: "Of course! And please scratch over here where I like it!" While petting Toki, Luna asks if Ben would like scritches as well. Ben: "Hmm. Y'know what, sure." He lowers his head and solemnly closes his eyes. Luna rests her hand on his head and pets gently. Ben really appreciates the little petting session. Ben: "Well, it's nice to meet you humans." Toki: "Yeah, most humans can't understand us." Clara: "Nice to meet you too!" Luna: "Yeah, nice to meet you, and hope we could make your day a bit better." Ben: "Thank you for caring. Usually, random humans don't care." Clara: "I'll bring back sugar cubes when we see you again!" Ben: "Hmm. Well, I do like sugar cubes." Unfortunately, Tsuki ate all the sugar cubes we did have (on the way out from Tom-mom's mansion), and Clara doesn't want to dig into that stash if she can help it.
In the meantime, we arrange the trip with a fantasy travel agent, a fast-talking Transatlantic accent sort of gal. Agent: "Well, we offer this, this, this; we offer snacks and meals onboard for this extra surcharge, but if you don't want to pay for these meals, we also offer (things that are very similar to our rations, which is the 0.5 charge, i.e. slightly expensive rations), but if you want free dinners anywhere you want to stay, there's another package (significantly more expensive, 10g per person one way, which we are told by President we're not sure we want)..." Tsuki makes a show of considering it but doesn't go for it. Clara also passes on the expensive package. The travel agent then tries to tempt us with a more moderately-priced package: 5g one-way, including dinners at inns and a whole thing where when switching out horses we can see the touristy sights for free--essentially "city pass" stuff, allowing admissions into multiple things. Since we're not sure we want that either, Nadyn walks up to the counter to deliver an ultimatum and stop the upsell. Nadyn: "We will have 4 of the basic package please." Agent: "That'll be 10 gold please. Thanks. They leave--the next one I can get you leaves in approximately 2 hours, so if you have any goodbyes or last-minute switches--oh wait," she raises her hand, "are any of you citizens of Corroza?" Clara and Nadyn are from far away and Luna doesn't have the paperwork (Luna: "Dang. Bureaucracy," despite President's offer to retcon), so it's just Tsuki. Agent: "Well, if you are, might want to keep your head down if you keep some sort of whistling. Tip from me to you. Great customer service, you should say. Anyways, next!" She shoos us away and the next person in line is waved up.
So now we all have tickets, yaaaaay! But, we have 2 hours to spend in town. Nadyn suggests checking in on Valeryl since she was heavily injured last we saw her. When we visit the infirmary, she's not there, but using our Deduction i.e. time-saving hints from President, we figure she's probably at a nice little bar--the one the aarakocra took Clara to way back, with the fancy bird cups. (Not the one we took Jabin a.k.a. Dwayne "The Brick" Johnson and Koala to later on.)
We meet up with said aarakocra, who has his adorable cute hamster safe and sound in a little travel carrier. Nadyn asks their names because she still feels really bad about that from last time. The aarakocra introduces himself as Kevin, and the hamster is named... Hamtaro, fine, sure, why not. We find Valeryl in the back, drinking and listening to the ambient music alone. Nadyn enthusiastically waves and ruins the mood by shouting, "Hi Valeryl, it's us!", and Clara joins in. Valeryl: "Ugh. Hello? Welcome? Welcome. You guys want to sit or something?" Nadyn: "Sure! Just wanted to check on how you're doing after everything." Valeryl: "I'm doing fine. I've got money now, I guess I'm gonna get the hell out of this place. Man. Bear-dogs. Oof. Like, what kind of place has BEAR-DOGS? Why are they just called bear-dogs?" She takes another sip of her alcoholic beverage. Valeryl: "Ah, man, I miss Shandeg; they had better spirits than this. Surface stuff just doesn't hit the same." Nadyn notices and does that thing every American does when you mention the state they're from. Nadyn: "Hey, same hat! Yeah, Shandeg!" Valeryl: "Yeah, Shandeg. My family wasn't notable enough to have crests, but we had a name--my name is Valeryl Forger." Clara's noble background makes her a bit curious about this; she would be kind of familiar with Shandeg being a place that is off the coast of Vanecia (not Corroza), though tritons are not very up-front about how everything in their society works, especially the upper class. Clara would have heard Forger as a last name, though, as it's not that uncommon.
Valeryl: "Yeah, I used to know how to make a pretty mean trident, but ugh--you know, sometimes being underwater is not the most exciting thing to do." Nadyn: "Well, at least your family didn't regularly attack you... I hope." Valeryl: "Ugh, thankfully not. I don't know what's up with those weird upper class people over there, but my family was nice; mostly just talked about alloys and stuff. Don't wanna quite go back there yet, but god, it's gonna be hell trying to go through Vanecia from here. Always thought about visiting the northern empire." (Clarification from President: that would be way to the north, while the town we're going to is to the west; but going directly north from Bordeauriva would be a bad idea due to all the mountains acting as a natural border, so people traveling that way usually head to the west coast first and then take a ferry north.) Nadyn: "Cool! We can be road trip buddies!!!" Valeryl: "Where are you going?" Nadyn: "We're heading to Cadako!" Valeryl: "Well, big city, better than here. Everything seems so miserable here--oh nooo, refugees, war, ugh. Anyways, you guys going there on foot or got another method of transport?" Nadyn namedrops the carriage place leaving in two hours, and invites Kevin and Hamtaro as well. Kevin: "Oh, I am certainly flattered, but I still have business here. You know how it is. Dyes. You know? Apparently the colors of Corroza are in very high demand. Terrible circumstances though." Nadyn: "Aww! Well, good luck in your business then!"
But yeah, Valeryl will actually go with us! And she is definitely the type of person to be suckered into the expensive ticket, so Nadyn goes up to the counter and is very firm about getting the standard one. The saleswoman travel agent gives us the biggest stinkeye of the century. Agent (with a very forced smile): "Mmm, well, oh, I'm sorry, are you friends?" Nadyn: "...I guess 'old neighbors and re-acquaintances' is the best way to put it?" Agent: "Interesting. Well, ma'am, here's your ticket; that'll be 2.5 gold." Valeryl pays up. Agent: "Well, keep it moving, there are other customers."
In the meantime, Clara goes off to purchase a bag of sugar cubes for about 5 copper. Nadyn also heads to a theatre place in town (which sells performance wear and disguise kits) and purchases a disguise kit, remembering that she wanted to find one after those jokes about having to disguise Tsuki. Apparently, Tsuki specifically avoided Disguise Self because it's unlikely people would believe he was a very beardy dwarf with a big nose. Tsuki: "I mean... we're going to be out of town, not like I'll need to be disguised." Nadyn: "I mean for the inevitable next time you get into trouble." Tsuki: "Maybe by the time we're back, they'll let me back in?". Clara gives a couple sugar cubes to Toki and Ben for now, and they thank her for the sugar cubes and seem very happy. We almost forgot about Key, who would need their own ticket (insert Home Alone reference), but it turns out Key is hanging out with Lady of the Lake, who is nice. Key's parting words were, "be careful of the cats. they once ate my pet bird. so don't get a pet bird if you have a cat." Nadyn: "...What if they ARE a cat." Key: "well if you are a cat then maybe you shouldn't have a pet bird." Luna: "I'll have you know, not all cats eat birds!" Clara: # Not All Cats Tsuki: "And some birds eat cats." Key: wide-eyed NANI?! Tsuki: "...not me."
Anyways! We finally get on the horse-bus full of people getting the heck out of Bordeauriva, including Valeryl who is also there but in a different section from us because her ticket was bought later. We're in a very long carriage; sometimes people come along and give us a bag of snacks, and the whole experience is like sitting in an aircraft that's very turbulent, because it's a giant horse-drawn bus carriage. At some point Tsuki dozes off, and when the snacks are being passed around, someone does say, "Hey, you, you're finally awake," and gives him his snack. So that happens. Eventually, we hear a very loud whistling noise... which we remember means we should duck down if we're citizens, or duck down regardless, just in case. Clara and Luna duck. Tsuki does nothing. The carriage is forced to stop, and we see these military garbed people talking and doing stuff, very quietly, and one of them goes to the side of the carriage; they're big and imposing and they cock their head to the side and look for anything suspicious in the carriage, and since Tsuki didn't get down, they see just a kenku, which by itself is pretty unusual. The big guard says, "Excuse me?" and Tsuki turns his head to look. The guard gives him a look and an almost-smile, and continues to check the outside. After this minor road bump, we are let go and resume travel until we reach the wonderful village of Kaer, where we must dismount for a few hours for the carriage service to change out for new horses. Note that this is a pit stop for all kinds of horses, and there's an entirely different stables for the military, but we might not want to mess with those. Or maybe we do, who knows.
The military stables include other animals used for military purposes, like trained dogs and one bear-dog (of all places). Clearly, you can't just walk up to a military place without being stealthy, so Clara passes (it's not worth the trouble, and she also doesn't have a good reason to in the first place, though she wishes she could spread the sugar cube love around). Luna wonders how close she can get to the military animals without seeming incredibly suspicious, and it turns out (as indicated by previous sessions) she can at least hear some things from a civilian-allowed distance, but she can't make much out other than that the animals do seem more aggressive than most animals she's spoken to, probably because they were trained as such. She reports back to the group. Luna: "Those animals seem quite aggressive, but do y'all think it's worth me trying to listen in further and see if they have anything helpful or interesting to say?" Nadyn: "We could try throwing a sugar cube into the window!" Tsuki: "Or keep our head down and wait until it's time to leave. There's lots of guards. And a bear-dog." Luna: "Fair point." While she'd probably be interested in learning military secrets, she will just play it safe this time. Nadyn figures that if this town is big enough to support the tourism scene advertised in the expensive package, it must have actual amenities. Turns out, this place is a village, and it is kind of peeved at the military for staying there, using it as a base of operations, and saying "see ya, nerds". They have a town hall and library and local schools and stuff (Corroza generally has the funding for public schools), along with a few restaurants; and since this place is kind of "in the middle of nowhere", there are also a bunch of "hey come experience the Great Outdoors" things, which are maybe not super appealing to adventurers. There are also hot springs and forests and waterfalls nearby if we wanted to check it out.
One thing that might be of interest is a small attorney's office called "Vincent Lawyers and Co." (Kat OOC: oh boy, lawyers). Except one thing we're all unaware of is that this is a public non-profit thing, because all lawyers in the country of Corroza (beyond just its capital city, Corroza) are public and non-profit without exception--so they're also basically government workers. Someone is also nearby shouting about some great college, trying to encourage people to go to college after school instead of just doing manual labor, and talking along the lines of, "Hey, you can always apply! We'll give ways to apply to various colleges in Corroza that are highly regarded!" Nadyn wants to pick up an application and also asks the group if we want to have a hot springs episode. (We are an anime now.)
The dude handing out applications greets us; he clearly has some feline heritage, but very faded (the only thing left is the cat eyes). Collegeguy: "Ah, yes! Are you interested in applying to a college? As long as you have an education, anyone can apply," but seeing Nadyn, adds, "although, uh, I suppose if you're just traveling by, you may not be interested, sorry, stupid question, move along." He's clearly apologetic and nervous. Nadyn: "Oh. Are there remote learning options?" Collegeguy: "Oh, yes actually! A lot of colleges have branches all along the continent, and they're never more than a short carriage ride away. You just need to pass the certification test, and there are some other things--you'd need to take a few weeks in-person on campus--but as long as that happens, you can definitely pursue an education. For you, I notice you have a little, uh, rainbow thing over there? And it looks like a musical instrument, I don't know much about those, but there is a bard college you might like. They train people for the musical arts thing. If you are interested, they're always looking for new students!" Nadyn: "Sounds cool, sign me up!!" Collegeguy (giving her a form): "You can always fill out this application, and depending on if you're going to Bordeauriva or Cadako--only two destinations from here, really--in Bordeauriva you can submit it near the library over there, and in Cadako I think there's a branch of the Lore College's campus." Nadyn: "Cool, I can fill it out on the train bus! Hopefully it's not one of those super complicated forms you'd need a lawyer for!" (Note, Kat is not a lawyer in-character, and the form is only as complicated as a regular college application.)
While this is happening, Clara wonders if there's a random college student struggling with books that she can help carry. Sure enough, there's one struggling to cram some books in a bag. Student: "Ohh my god, oh it's so hard, why are books so heavy? I'm already paying for all these textbooks, nghh--" Clara (approaching): "Hey, I can lend you a hand to pack up your books!" She determines that this person is probably a law student based on the nature of the books.
Clara: "Oh, you're studying law?" Student: "Yeah. Very grueling, lots of tests, and I have this big, big test--" and she tells about the equivalent of the bar exam. Clara: "Sounds tough, but I'm sure you can handle it!" Student: "I hope so... that is, if the war doesn't make my job completely pointless." Clara: "Hmm, yeah, there's that, but I think for now you can just focus on studying and be a great lawyer. I know you'll be a great lawyer!" She flashes the student a thumbs-up. Student: "Well, I suppose you're right. Thank you! What's your name?" Clara: "I'm Clara; you?" Person: "Yes, my name is Meg. I'm currently just shadowing lawyers at Vincent Lawyers and Co." Clara: "Oh yeah, what's it like? We passed by their office on the way into the village a while ago." Meg: "It's not really the field I'd go for--I wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer, but here they mostly deal with civil suits and stuff. Lots of weird and sometimes annoying clients... but hey, it could be worse--it could be the time I went into tax law." Clara: "Oh yeah, I can imagine how hard that could be." Meg: "Yeah, it's not very fun, but eh, y'know, hopefully one day I'll be able to see a criminal law office in action." Clara: "I see, I see. Well, you'll get your opportunity one day to see a criminal case in action, but I guess you said they're doing civil suits here, and you could learn from them too." Meg: "There was another office over there, but the military's now using it, so for now I'm kind of stuck. I kind of wanted to see how my hometown would work out, but eh, I guess there are other places." Clara: "Oh, there are lots of other nice places. Aside from finishing your studies and becoming a lawyer, I hope you get the opportunity to travel to them someday." Meg: "Thank you, miss Clara!" Clara: "You're welcome!"
Okay, she did her good deed for the day, so she's satisfied. On top of remembering her promise to give the horses sugar cubes, at that! She's being such a good paladin. Luna was nearby when Nadyn was talking to the catboy, so she approaches as Nadyn leaves, then points at her cat ears, wiggles them a bit, and jokingly says, "Same cat!" Collegeguy (smiling and waving): "Hello, my fellow cat! I don't see many of our kind around." Luna: "Yeah, it's nice to meet you! What's your name?" Collegeguy: "My name is Pedrin. My parents wanted to be unique, so instead of naming me Pedro, they named me Pedrin." Luna: "Nice to meet you, I'm Luna!" Pedrin: "You're not interested in applying to college, are you?" Luna: "No, just following my friend who is applying." Pedrin: "Good for her! Yes, um, I suppose I should ask what you do? What I do isn't very interesting--basically just tell people apply to college and other stuff..." Luna: "I guess I'm kind of an adventurer? I left from my little house in Albaiin where I did a lot of alchemy stuff, but yeah, now I'm traveling." Pedrin: "Albaiin, huh? Interesting." (He knows it as a college town.) "That's very interesting. I suppose it's a long way here from there, but that's the life of an adventurer. I don't know how I'd do it--I don't know what I'd do the first time I saw a bear-dog charging at me." Nadyn (in the distance): "That can be arranged!" Luna: "I don't know if I can say much about bear-dogs, but I've had a fair few interactions with other animals and they were friendly." Pedrin: "Oh, good to know. Well, even if you aren't here for long, I hope you enjoy your time in Kaer! (Should really rename it one of these days.)" Luna: "Yes, I hope you have a good day then!" Pedrin: "Until we meet again Luna." Luna: "Yes!" She gives a wave and tries to catch up with the rest of the group.) "Now what?" Nadyn (in the vein of a child chanting "McDonald's"): "Hot springs! Hot springs! Hot springs!"
We could also go to the woods if we want a nature retreat. Luna thinks that's probably a better idea since we don't have swimsuits, and it also means we can do some foraging or something. So we go into the woods! They're very nicely managed woods (the ones near Bordeauriva were just wild)--the paths are laid out and the tree growth is kept organized, so it's a resource the people of the town use. There's a few lumber mills at first, but even deeper in the forest, it's nice, and it's hard to get lost, with signs and everything. Luna sees a little raven flying overhead in circles, and for some reason she feels like it's trying to get her attention. Luna looks up at it and stops walking to watch it fly around. After a while, it stops, swoops down, darts east of where she is, and sits on a branch as though waiting for her. She slowly walks up to the branch and gives a little wave. Luna: "Hi there, raven!" Raven: "Hello, Luna." Luna: "Oh! Uh. How do you know my name?" Raven: "I have been watching you for some time now." Luna: "You have?" Raven: "Indeed. I have watched you west of Bordeauriva with the Lady of the Lake--ravens and crows, we have ways of telling each other what's up. And I have heard of your deeds and mission, and I would like to help you." Luna: "You would? That would be really nice! I would definitely love to have your company!" Raven: "Of course! After you saved the black dragon, and tried to be a friend to everything in the forest, I've always wanted to see more than the realm of society." Luna gets the impression that for ravens, raven stuff is "society" and the human world is something as alien to them as nature is to most humans.
Raven: "Well. It would be difficult for me to assist, but there is a way that you can summon me at any time--I get to help and assist and see what lies beyond nature, and if you would like, I can show you how to do so with me and creatures similar to myself." Luna: "I would definitely love that! Yeah, please show me!" Raven: "Wonderful!" The raven swoops down, draws a bunch of diagrams on a tree using her claws, and explains all the things that Luna would require for the Find Familiar spell. Raven: "Well, is it a deal? Will you help me see other things that are outside my realm, and will you accept my help?" Luna: "Yes, I will. Honestly that sounds great to me!" Raven: "I have seen humans do this--" She nods, awkwardly extends a wing, and with effort tries to bring it towards Luna as if extending a hand for a handshake. Luna carefully reaches forward, gently grabs the wing, gives a little handshake. The raven flutters her wings in response and stretches them a bit. Raven: "Wonderful! I suppose I will stay here with you for a while, and afterwards, using this spell, you may summon me at any point." Luna: "Awesome! I am glad to have your company, and maybe we could get to know each other a bit better over time?" Raven: "Maybe! I am excited to learn about you and the world outside of nature." The rest of the group is about a 10 minute walk away, and Luna and the raven continue talking on the way back. Luna: "I do have a few traveling friends--I hope you're okay with that. But I guess if you've been watching me, you'd have seen them?" Raven: "Yes, I believe you are traveling with Nadyn a Triton, Tsuki a Kenku, and Clara a Human." Luna: "Wow, yeah, that's correct! I guess I don't even need to introduce you to them, just them to you. Okay, well, cool!"
While Luna was having this side-adventure, Clara's meep crown resonates (the meep senses are tingling), and she excuses herself to find out what it is. Following where the meep sense draws her the most, she comes across an unmanaged area of the woods, to a mound that seems to have an entryway tall enough to enter standing up. She goes in; there aren't many loose objects, but there are glyphs all over the walls, ceilings, and floors that she can't understand, along with a pedestal where a sword would have been (but is absent), decorated with a picture of some giant knights, matching the pictures on the murals all over this place. For some reason, she can understand what is being said here: it is a paladin oath, the Oats Oath of the Ancients. The glyphs look like Common, but so archaic they are hardly recognizable except for very specific words (basically Beowulf English). It starts, "Over the centuries, the knights of this ancient forest have preserved the peace," continues into the standard tenets of the PHB Oath of the Ancients, with minor variations in wording, and ends with (essentially) "Take this sword and stuff." There is no physical sword to take, but she takes the sword In Her Heart, and feels like something has changed about her. she accepts the salvation of Treesus
Clara exits the mound and makes it back to the group around the same time as Luna comes back with her friend raven! Luna (approaching the group): "Hey, look! I made a friend!" Sure enough, the raven looks like a raven. It stares at the group, then says "hello" and a brief audible rendition of "Welcome to the Forest" because it can't actually talk regularly to the group and that's one of the few things it can mimic in Common. Tsuki repeats after it. Clara makes a "So Done With This" face, but waves and says hi anyways. The raven says "hi" back. Tsuki repeats it. Luna: "Well, I guess, welcome to the forest--but also, this is gonna be my new familiar!" Clara: "Ohhh." Luna: "She's apparently been watching me for a little while, and wanted to join on our travels." Tsuki (to the raven): "Stalker." The familiar kind of nods, extends a wing to "wave" with it, and folds it back in. Raven (in beast speech): "It's going to be great to travel with you and see how you act." (Tsuki and Nadyn just hear this as "caw, caw"). Luna: "It'll be nice to travel with you as well, and honestly nice to get to see how you act as well, because I'm always interested in learning more about different animals, and you certainly seem like a friendly one!" Raven: "Indeed, this will be a source of much mutual understanding." Nadyn: "So... it this like a feeyyyy or magicky raven, or just a bird from the woods?" Luna: "I think the former, 'cause it showed me how to cast the Find Familiar spell--so I just need to get the required things to do that." Nadyn is a bit nervous about this very obviously unusually magical bird, but Raven is happy enough to be here and finally meet with Luna.
Clara asks to pet the raven; Luna asks the raven if that's alright, and the raven says, "Of course! Everyone loves a good head scratch nwo and then!" So Luna and Clara give the raven a little scritch. Clearly the key is just to find something in the woods, like a bear-dog or a college application, and befriend it. One day we will add a bear-dog to our petting zoo. Anyways before we return to the village, Luna asks what the rest of the group has been up to. Clara: "The meep crown called me into a little mound thing, I came in, saw some abandoned shrine, and took an oath. Surprise!" Luna: "Sounds interesting. xD" Clara: "Yup, I took an oath to be the light and stuff!" Nadyn: "...So two people found random magic in these woods that are supposed to basically be a city park, and we're totally fine with this? Okay!"
Given that the woods seem magical, Luna looks for interesting magical herbs and plants; there are a few particularly glowy ones flowering at this time of year, but they seem to be incredibly localized species such that she doesn't know what they are. Nadyn suggests that the local library might have info! (She also wants to go because the books have nice pictures.) When the two head there, the librarian is very eager and willing to help and constantly suggests books we might like. It takes a bit to get her on track, but she does eventually find a few reference books for plants; in the process, we find that this is an environmentally protected area, since these plants grow here and nowhere else even when trying to transplant (hence why the local woods are very incredibly highly managed). There's been lots of research on medicinal properties, so if we want to hook up a scholar with glowy plants, it could be good for their research. Nadyn suggests maybe preserving some, just to keep as specimens. Indeed, it turns out we are allowed to pick things, just not to the point of depleting the whole species (per a sign saying "please only pick one or two").
Librarian (to Nadyn): "You know what? I notice that you like books with pictures in them--here's one that's... not necessarily dedicated to kids, but it's kind of an adventure novel with illustrations. I think you would enjoy this." Nadyn: "Sounds interesting!" She starts reading. This adventure novel is about two regular house cats who want to see the world; they try to become knights only to realize that human orders don't want to train cats, so they start their own little cat knight school, and they get a bunch of other cats and go on swashbuckling adventures with this crew of cats. For a book with this kind of plot, it has surprisingly deep themes about death and other philosophical stuff that may go over a child's head. Nadyn (crying): "This story is so beautifulll!" Librarian: "I'm happy you like it so much! There are so many wonderful books; if you open your mind, I'm sure you will like many of them." Nadyn: "It's a good thing I'm going to college then! ...Or, well, could." Librarian: "True, especially since you seem musical--I'm sure the music college would take you." Nadyn: "Wait, it has a music college?" Librarian: "Yes, it's the International Bard College; it transcends borders; it may be good for you." Nadyn resolves to check out the application as soon as she gets back to the carriage-bus. Luna picks and preserves a couple plant samples and shops for more Find Familiar ingredients, including some fragrant incense. Her raven's definitely into fancy smells and aromatherapy, which means she and Luna have something in common. They are eventually going to spend so much money on expensive soaps, probably.
We head back to the Magic Horse Bus, where the driver and one of the military men are having some sort of argument. As we find our seats, they make sure that everyone who's here is supposed to be here; this argument takes a while, and they're like "please stay in your seats blah blah," but it takes so long that Tsuki starts to get bored, and for some reason, as he's sitting there waiting for the horse bus to just happen, he drifts into a sudden sleepiness. To him, it's as if he blinks and opens his eyes, and then he's not in the horse carriage anymore, but in a sea of stars (as in, a literal watery sea with stars twinkling in the background). Tsuki's a bit surprised but trying to stay calm despite that weirdness, which he manages because he's definitely seen weirder before... but when he looks down at his left arm, it's replaced with a little octopus tentacle. Tsuki: "Okay, now THAT'S weird." Somehow, Clara screaming can be heard echoing in the distance (she is not present in this vision, but President assures us the rest of us will have something to scream about later). Tsuki sees something move in the water: a huge eye, massive enough to become the only thing he can see, but it gives him the same regard as a pet goldfish kept at the doctor's office. Regardless, he feels a terrible pain and tingling in his left arm (the squiddy one), and suddenly the water is sucked up and transformed into the cold vacuum of space, and for a few moments he sees the planet he's supposed to be on, as if he's orbiting it. He closes his eyes and opens them again, and he's back in the horse-bus carriage thing with a full view of his companions looking horrified.
Skipping backward a few minutes, the rest of the party sits around Tsuki and, to their horror, witnesses some alien octopus tentacles burst from his chest and create a tome for him. Nadyn: "Uhhh, Luna, can you eldritch blast? I don't know any good damage spells." Luna (to Tsuki): "Is this okay or something we should save you from? It looks kind of terrifying." Clara: (screaming, doesn't know if she should divine smite WHATEVER THAT IS) Luna, despite being a fellow warlock, does not recognize it since it's more a Great Old One eldritch thing that even the cult trying to summon it knew little about. She turns to Clara--who was screaming long enough for Tsuki to hear it in the dream state, but has finally stopped. Clara, in turn, turns to Nadyn. Clara: "Do you think we should attack this? Or what if it's not actually harming Tsuki?" Tsuki (OOC): "It's fish-related." With the whole Triton "protecting the oceans" thing, Nadyn recognizes that it's squid-like, but kind of spiky, which is definitely not a very squid or octopus thing. Nadyn: "Uhhhh... well, he's already a weird warlock, so this might be normal? Let's give him a minute, and then if more burst out, then we can set him on fire." Clara: "We're going to set the bird on fire??" Luna (protecting her raven): "The humanoid bird, just to clarify." Tsuki (OOC): "If I get set on fire, then the other one does too!" Luna (OOC): "How does that work?" Tsuki (OOC): "Bird hive minds!"
Soooo we give Tsuki a minute to see if it harms him at all. Nadyn: "I mean, this is hardly the most magical thing that's happened today." True enough: a demoness gives us a burst of power and now this crap is happening to all of us. Right now, all the tentacles are really doing is reaching into Tsuki's bag and quickly constructing some book of stuff--grabbing the materials, tying the leather and whatnot. When finished, it places it on Tsuki's lap and retreats as he wakes up. So Tsuki wakes up with a little tome on his lap and all the friends staring at him with great concern. Tsuki: "What did that other bird do?" Luna: "It was not my raven! You had tentacles coming out of your chest?? And it made that book!" Clara: "Yeahhh, and we didn't know what it was doing." Tsuki (checks the book): "Does this make me a wizard?" Luna: "I don't think wizards get their ritual books, or any type of books, from TENTACLES BURSTING OUT OF THEIR CHEST. But I'm not a wizard, so I guess I can't be entirely sure?" For reference, Tsuki at this point didn't actually know he was a warlock--just that weird tentacles did oddly helpful stuff for him while he was dreaming. Thinking of today's weird dream where his arm was a tentacle, looking at this book, and looking at Clara whose screams leaked into the dream somehow, he shrugs it off and starts flipping through the pages of the book. Luna: "What's inside the book?" Tsuki: "Eldritch horrors." Luna: "Ah, should have expected that." Clara: "Not surprising." Tsuki shows us a page that looks like it came out of a horror movie, with the letters physically crawling around. Nadyn reconsiders going to college. Tsuki (pointing to a gibberish line): "Oh that could be useful." Somehow, he understands it. Nadyn: "Ohhhh, okay, that's a special Tsuki book. That makes sense. Books are still good." Tsuki: "No, that's what all books are like, especially college books." (OOC: yup, that tracks.)
Anyways! We have to call the session here, but maybe we'll discover what happened with the traffic stop next time! Totally not weird, guys! I'm sure the stop has nothing to do with a world-shattering scream from a paladin! Won't cause any issues or weird looks at all. We'll find out why this traffic jam happened! Also, despite not having had a magical encounter per se, Nadyn has discovered a love of books, has read a few, and is halfway through the College of Bards application, so she can now use her level 3 abilities even if she hasn't officially enrolled. President must go chug some NSAIDs now! Take care and feel better soon!
Last Edit: Jul 31, 2022 16:42:54 GMT -5 by Coaster
We resume our journey on the horsebus to Cadako, after Clara finishes screaming and as we hear some precise, rhythmic footsteps, coming from a guy in uniform inspecting each carriage. He comes to ours, opens our door, pokes his head in, and asks, "Is there anything wrong here?" We think for a moment. Nadyn keeps her head down just in case. Clara holds up her hand and says, "Nope, everything's fine!" but her voice is a bit panicked and an octave higher than usual, because of all the tentacles and such. Tsuki's still reading his new book. Uniformguy takes an interest in whatever's going on here and does the hands-behind-his-back faux-friendly thing. Uniform: "So, where are we headed to on this trip?" Nadyn: "I think the bus in general is headed to (needed a reminder) Cadako." Uniform: "What is your purpose there?" Nadyn: "...Sightseeing? I don't remember what everyone else's along for." Tsuki: "Pretty much. Make some money." Uniform: "You don't have jobs?" Tsuki: "Wanderers... Adventurers..." Uniform: "Makes sense; you are an eclectic mix of people." Clara: "The MOST eclectic. An eclectic band of people with a common destination." Uniform: "Naturally. Don't take any of this personally, I just have to ask: we're looking for someone human--" Tsuki waves. Uniform: "Yes, well, clearly it is none of you we are looking for. Human male about yea high," gesturing about 5'7", "light-skinned, green eyes. If you happen to find him, he is wanted by the military. Good day." He steps off the carriage. Tsuki (thinking): "Is he talking about Dwayne? Seeing as he was on the run too, for deserting." Clara: "Dangit, Dwayne." (It could be Dwayne.)
But after this little visit from the military guy, it seems something in traffic has miraculously cleared up, and the horsebus is now moving again. Our next destination is a hole-in-the-wall place where there isn't much to do but ride horses. They really like horse riding here, unlike Kaer. After about 6 travel hours of Nadyn singing "the hooves on the bus go clop clop clop" and Tsuki providing accurately mimicked accompaniment, we stop in the sleepy village of Din. It's in a more plains-y area with lots of horses and horse riding and a horse track nearby, and that's the only fun thing for tourists. There's also a local candy flavored with honeycomb because there are lots of bees in the area too. It's still a proper town: at least it has a school, and like all other towns there's propaganda for the upcoming elections which none of us can vote in except Tsuki; say what you want about Corroza but at least they're not racist. Anyways, we disembark here and enjoy a Plains Area. Tsuki considers spending multiple hours fighting small animals to level up because generic plains are like every RPG starting area. Nadyn wants the honeycomb candy, and the party joins in. Someone's giving free samples. We're informed that there's a tavern with honeyed beer too. Honey's their local delicacy--they shove it into everything, and they're going to milk it for all it's worth since that's what they're known for. Lots of mead too. To be clear, it's all good-quality honeycomb; over here they grow specific types of flowers to get a really smooth-tasting honey without any of that funkiness that happens sometimes with locally-grown honey. It's not the platonic ideal of honey but like, Anatolian honey? Kind of like that. (Not at all the kind Draco's sometimes been subjected to, i.e. Honey Flavored Syrup in the plastic bear.)
The otherwise not-that-exciting village also tries to get us to do some horse riding. The horses here, if we were to listen in, are pretty happy and peppy, like "oh yeah I'm happy with my life, I get to run every day," and even the horses getting switched off are like "finally I get to stay here this is the nice place for horses, horses really like this place, humans not so much because there's not a lot to do here". There's also legitimately a petting zoo in town--with baby ponies and horses, naturally, along with goats and a couple weird donkeys that are meant for mountain climbing but they're very soft and fluffy. Luna (chanting): "Petting zoo! Petting zoo! Petting zoo!" Luna is clearly REALLY excited to go to the petting zoo. Clara and Luna also listen to the animals there: the petting zoo animals are like "ugh man this definitely beats the mountain. The mountain's really bad on your joints, man, like at first you think wow I've grown a lot and I'm built for the mountain but after a while you just kind of get older and it's like uggggh not this (cuss word) again." So clearly, they're happy about the plains. Clara pets the goat. Goat is like "baaaa." Nadyn and Luna try to pet all the things at once and lament that they only have two hands. Tsuki joins in as well.
We then head to the inn for honeyed beer and mead (1 silver for a round, on Tsuki). Due to the outcome of a perception check where these are the only two in the group that rolled 20+, it's established that Nadyn can hold her mead quite well due to some combination of triton physiology and a reaction between honey and alcohol (i.e. she can only hold mead, she's still a lightweight for other stuff as established before), and Tsuki drinks slowly because they don't have special bird cups here, so he needs to scoop with his beak and tilt back and gobble gobble gobble. Accessibility is important! As those two drink, they see an almost ethereal, barely visible guy, about 5'7" with green eyes, just nyooming out the door, phasing out of it like a video game glitch. He's a hacker, guys. No wonder the military doesn't like him. But yeah, this is probably the guy Uniformguy was after. We're not sure if we want to be friends or not. We don't seduce the bartender because Nadyn isn't that kind of bard and Tsuki figures the ethereal guy would be a more interesting plot thread. Tsuki points out the ethereal guy to the group. Nadyn: "This is at least the fifth most magical thing we've seen today, so it'd be good to check it out." Tsuki: "Either this stuff is really strong, or... Yeah, let's go."
So we go outside. Not many people notice this guy out and about. However, Luna hears footsteps coming from the north because she has good hearing. Tsuki, rolling well for Survival, sees extremely faint tracks on the ground, so we follow them. They go on for a while; at some point the tracks are accompanied by a line as if something were being dragged through the mud, and around the beginning of this line trail we see an imprint as if someone tripped and fell, and some other prints that show up for a while and then disappear. Since our bus isn't leaving THAT soon, hapless saps we are, we chase these random tracks to find probably a kidnapper or something. Luna's raven notices something. Raven: "Huh. Another raven." This raven is kind of flying through the sky. Luna looks up at it and gives a little wave. Luna: "Hi!" The other raven looks down but otherwise does not acknowledge her. Raven: "Hm. Well, I guess... That's strange. Or maybe not so strange." Luna: "Maybe they're not very sociable?" Raven: "Maybe not. Oh!" Raven looks at the tracks. "I'm not really used to tracking things through the ground. This is new." Luna: "Would you prefer to follow the tracks from the sky? You can fly up if you'd like to." Raven: "That's very nice of you, but--you know what, I don't know what it's like to be someone who is bound to the ground, you know? And from the sky they're not really that visible. I think I'll stay here." She preens herself a little on Luna's shoulder. (aww) Luna: "That's fair."
Nadyn heals Clara to full and inspires Tsuki. Sprig2 swipes twice at Clara and misses both times. Sprig3 does the same. Clara swipes back at Sprig2 and hits. Tsuki uses Arms of Hadar on Sprig2 and Sprig3, hitting the former hard enough to turn it into a regular tree as well. Luna backs away a bit and hexes and blasts Sprig3. Sprig4 misses Clara but hits Tsuki and Nadyn with restraining roots. Nadyn mocks Sprig3, but it is unfazed. Sprig3 is sick of these kids with their avocado toast because avocado is unsustainable (Tsuki doesn't like avocado but THAT DOESN'T MATTER, all non-plants are the same to her, like DC Poison Ivy), and despite Nadyn's cutting words, Tsuki takes major damage between the two hits. Clara goes up to Sprig3 to smack her in the face but trips and misses. Tsuki uses False Life for a bit more HP. Luna blasts Sprig3 but misses. Sprig4 frolics back toward Clara and misses. Nadyn (as everyone forgets about the restraining roots oops) goes up to Tsuki and heals him a bit. Sprig3 hits Tsuki some more. Clara crits on Sprig3. Tsuki blasts Sprig4. Luna misses a blast on Sprig3. Sprig4 misses Clara (of course). Nadyn tries to stabbity Sprig3 but misses too. Sprig3 hits Tsuki (once). Clara hits Sprig3 enough to turn it into a tree, but it looks like one of those inflatables at a used car place; its arms flail angrily but twist into a braid and, before long, a tree that looks mostly normal but a bit angrier than usual. Tsuki blasts Sprig4, followed by Luna with a massive blast (after remembering to transfer the Hex). The spriggan is like, "Wait a second. Oh I'm disoriented. I'm spinning around! And I'm going to turn into a regular tree." Combat Win!
Now we have 4 regular trees, and a guy with a sword biting his nails and watching us. As we finish up, Luna's raven calls out, "Hey, it's that guy!" and as she says this, the other raven (likely the one flying around earlier) lands near the sword and tries to perch on it (but the sword isn't fully solid, so it clips through because hacker). It squawks "darn it!!", and then behind us we hear a rustling of grass with the same very consistent pointed footsteps we heard earlier in our travels--as it turns out, it's the uniformed military guy we saw earlier; and the guy with the sword takes it out of the ground and legs it out of there with a speed hack. The military guy sticks his arm out for the raven that was trying to perch on the sword, and the latter takes this more suitable perch. Uniform: "Well, then. He is quite a problem, isn't he?" Nadyn: "Seeeeems so." Luna: "To be fair, though, he isn't actually the one that gave us all the problems--or didn't seem like it." She continues to her familiar, "Did you know that guy? Did you recognize him at all from before we met?" Raven: "This guy... I have seen him before. Goes near the other blue humans--" Corrozan uniforms--"goes out and likes to walk in nature, but I've never spoken to him." Luna: "Hm, interesting. Thank you for sharing, though."
Uniform lets his guard down and doesn't say anything initially, nor does he look the most approachable, but then he adds, "Hm, you should get back into the carriage. Our ride to Cadako will be leaving shortly. Here--" He produces a pouch of gold and tosses it to us; Tsuki tries to catch it but also wants to take a nap, while Clara tries to catch it out of instinct because "oh no someone might get hit and that's not a good deed". It ends up being a free-for-all Athletics contest which Nadyn fails spectacularly (nat 1) and the warlocks aren't great at either, so yeah, Clara catches it. (Of course she'll share, though.) Anyways, this cold-demeanored guard guy says, "I hear adventurers are often missing gold. Here, take this from my personal account. A little birdie told me," he gestures at the other raven on his hand, "that you have incurred the wrath of someone who should not be underestimated. I only hope that you keep Corroza in mind when you finally do face him." He gives a very pointed glare at Tsuki. "It is your home, after all." Then, he kinda just leaves with his raven. In the pouch is 100 gold. Nadyn: (belatedly): "SHOOT, we didn't ask him his name!" Clara: "Is it too late to say, 'hey wait, what's your name'?" Luna: "Maybe we'll see him on the bus..." Clara: "And then we'll actually remember to ask his name." (Spoilers: we didn't.)
Nadyn heals Tsuki a bit to be on the safe side. Tsuki buys a hefty bag of candy while in town, approximately a Wal-Mart bag size. (That's a lot? What kind of Wal-Mart do you have over there??) It costs a whole gold piece, but he still goes for it. Luna buys a more reasonably small bag of candy, one of those medium-size Skittles bags for comparison, for 2 silver, and Clara buys 2 small pouches of not-Skittles (one being saved for Key for later) for 1 silver each. Nadyn skips the candy but considers mooching later. Clara also buys some honey BBQ chicken wings for 2 silver. She takes the opportunity to listen to the bees around the town as well, and like the butterflies from before, they tend to have simple thought processes: they literally say, "buzz buzz flower buzz buzz buzz flower buzz buzz HEY LOOK OVER HERE SISTERS THERES A FLOWER bzzzzzzz". They don't even look for hot dates like the butterflies, because that's the queen bee's job. Draco OOC suggests that one of the bees sounds like Jerry Seinfeld, but Kat denies this. President agrees that since bees are haploid, one might be stupid enough to sound like Jerry Seinfeld. Anyways, we finish snack shopping and go back to the horse bus. Nadyn immediately passes out from action exhaustion after getting seated (mostly just to make sure she can get a long rest), and the rest of the group goes straight to the bus thereafter. We all rest for like 8 hours total in the bus, knowing that if we were to get off at its next stop, it's still not a full long rest yet.
But the bus stops at its final destination before Cadako: a regular rural town full of farmland with activities basically restricted to "wow pick something from the farm for kids" or "wow isn't there a lot of wheat and cows". Although, hmm, we've never pet cows yet. Luna, at least, is fully charged by now and wants to see what the cows are up to. There's a tavern in town, but just a rural bar, not that interesting. Nadyn's just gonna keep sleeping on the bus, as will Tsuki for now. So, Clara and Luna go off in search of Trying To Pet Cows. Finding the nearest cow place, it's a farm run by Old Man Jenkins. There's always an Old Man Jenkins in every D&D campaign, and this is this one's Old Man Jenkins. (At the group's behest, his son's name is Leeroy.) Jenkins: "Yeah, my son Leeroy went to the big city, and what's he doing there?" Luna: "...Farming rats?" Jenkins: "Yeah, does he think he can farm rats? Is that what he wants to farm?" He loves the young people but he's disappointed in his son. "He went to the city, he doesn't write, he used to farm, but like--what can you farm in the city? Like, hello?" Clara: "I don't know, is he gonna worship rats?" Luna: "Maybe?" Jenkins: "He's gonna raise some rats and eat 'em and get some diseases from those rats, all because he didn't listen to his old man Jenkins. Anyways, if you ever meet Leeroy, let me know how he is." As he rants about his son who so inconsiderately doesn't write, Clara and Luna see the many types of cows: white cows, brown cows, slightly off-white cows, yeah, just a bunch of cows eating some clovers and stuff. The cows seem to be doing alright overall and the animal talkers listen in on their conversation.
Cow 1: "You hear about Marcy?" Cow 2: "Yeah, she's kinda crazy." Cow 1: "Really. Marcy, crazy? Who could have seen that coming?" Cow 2: "Well, okay, Nancy. I mean like, more than usual. She's talking about this cow that dug its way out of the ground and doesn't have any skin, and wants to eat other cows. Can you believe that?" Nancy: "Hmm. Maybe she's talking about a wolf?" Clara listens in more closely, since she doesn't see the world the way cows do and has Context. Cow 1: "Weird hairless cows that come out of the ground... Maybe a mole? A weasel? Poor Betsy the chicken lost her lives to one of those. Poor Betsy." Nancy: "But you know, she's really insistent on the whole 'cow digging itself up' thing. That'd take a while if you were underground. We're not good for digging, no siree, but what we are good at--let me tell you what--we can swarm if we really wanted to. Swarm, you know? Cows, we're just like bees, right? Who's with me? We can swarm just like bees do!" And that's the quality of their conversation pretty much. Silly Betsy. Clara: "Did I just hear them right, talking about some hairless creature from the ground?" Anyways, Clara and Luna absolutely want to pet the cows. Clara: "Poor cows, probably spooked from whatever the heck they saw." They pet the cows, true to our squad's name. The cows enjoy the pets, like, "wow, these are really good pets. I enjoy these pets. Ah, man. If only Betsy would stop starin' at the sun to come get some pets." Clara resolves to relay what she learned from the cows back to the group. Also, at chat's behest, it's established that our group has +2 to animal handling for the purpose of petting. Luna and Clara make their way back to the horsebus, where Tsuki's eating candy and looking at the book, and Nadyn's still snoozing but having a bit of a nightmare saying "oh noo we forgot his naaame".
Luna (quietly to Tsuki, to avoid waking Nadyn): "We pet the cows, and it was very good, and they are nice cows. Just thought that was the important detail. Oh, and they said there was a zombie cow? But more importantly, we pet the cows." Tsuki (at the zombie cow reference): "What?... Eh, okay." (We're not staying to fight and deal with that, anyways. But now he's just thinking about zombie cows.) The group remembers that we forgot to text back the Lady of the Lake after dealing with the whole map thing. Clara crown-phones up Lady of the Lake with a bard-medieval version of a ringtone. Lady: "Hello? Is this still Clara? Did you get replaced?" Clara: "I'm not replaced!" Lady: "Oh, good, good. So how was finding the map?" Clara: "Oh, can you hear everyone else here with me? I'm still with my friends." Lady: "Oh, good, they're all still alive. Thought for sure the bird would kick it by now. But y'know, good, good to see that all of them are alive. They are all alive, right?" Clara: "Yes they are." Lady: "Good, good. Well, um, did you find out anything?" Clara: "We found this weird sword in the forest, and there were spriggans there..." Lady: "Oh, spriggans? Huh, interesting. Hmm. I wonder--I don't know if spriggans have anything to do with our current situation, but keep looking! And if that's all, just go, keep heading to Cadako; I believe in you!"
Clara: "Thanks! How are things on your end?" Lady: "Oh yeah, it's good, it's good--had to kill a ghoul though, disgusting animals, hate them, hate them a lot." Tsuki: "At least there's a trash disposal with you now!" Lady: "Yeah, yeah. I mean, I don't know about feeding ghouls to the mimic--like, I kinda don't want it to get used to human flesh even if it's rotten human flesh, so instead I've been--you know, back in my demon days I had a boyfriend? Who uh, really liked undead things? So I figured I'd maybe redecorate my house with undead things. It's not really the vibe I'm looking for as Lady of the Lake though, y'know? Want to be more peaceful and naturalistic now rather than 'I am almighty ripper of souls'. It's kinda cringe now." Clara: "Yeahhh." Lady: "Yeah. So it's not really a great aesthetic. I think I'm gonna go back to the plants and I don't know what I'm going to do with the ghouls. I might... hmm... hmmmmm... Well, uh, I'll tell you what I'm going to do with the undead, but you know, Bordeauriva seems okay? At least I think its okay? Hard to tell from here. Anyways, if you need me, I will be in the lake, because I can't be anywhere else! See you guys!" She hangs up with a "bzzz" kind of hang up tone. Clara: "Okay.... that's greeat... that was a good talk..." Horsebus resumes the trip. The last few hours are very calm and peaceful. It's like we're going through country rooooads take us hoooome to the place yeah kind of like that. And eventually we go to a city, the city of Cadako, which is, like, an early modern city! With roads! And sidewalks! And buildings! It's mostly along flat land near the water, so like Bordeauriva, it has farms and windmills, but unlike Bordeauriva, it's in a nice central location where a lot of trade happens, and there are good mines nearby.
There's a big branch of the International Bards' College here too. Between everything, Nadyn has finished her application, so she heads over to drop it off first thing. At the admissions center, as she goes in, she witnesses the tail end of an argument between a very angry Asian lady (apparently Asia exists in this universe) and the admissions person. Admissions (as arguer leaves): "Acting professors, amirite? But at least she's going back to Lar-uk." Nadyn: "...Where?" Admissions: "A place in Cathshi--the northern empire place." Nadyn (nervous and stilted): "Ah. Uh, anyways, I've got--this application here," and she drops it off unceremoniously. Admissions: "I see. 'Nadyn of Shandeg'. Interesting. We don't have a lot of underwater chapters, so you'll be an excellent addition as a student to the International Bards' College, yes. I will have this processed within a week or so. Check back, but with--I think I've heard of you, actually. I think it was the National Enquirer? Yeah. Yeah, you know what, I think I heard your name! I think you were with a bird?" Nadyn: "...Yeah, don't check on the source of that." Admissions: "You seem to have some notoriety, so that should help you out." Nadyn: "...Thank you!(?)" Admissions (clearing throat and pushing up glasses): "Is there anything else I can help you with?" Nadyn: "I, ummm, not at the moment." Admissions (giving a thumbs-up): "Good to know." Nadyn idly wonders why there was no admissions test or anything--maybe later when they try to sift through things, President assures, but for now they just take the application. Other than the college, Cadako has a few places of interest: a few temples to a bunch of gods, such as Iiekacel, Tokin (which Tsuki may be interested in), and K'arb; a regular historical university; a local military branch; and the 'home base' for the Brautz family.
Now that the awkwardness of APPLYING is done, Nadyn wants to go back and check out the campus, and invites the group even though it doesn't have a lot to do with them. Luna comes along with Nadyn, while Tsuki and Clara head off in other directions to check out the stores. First we investigate the college. The IBC is co-funded by a secular-ish religious movement from centuries ago along the lines of Confucianism, which believed that education was the most important ideal to strive towards, and that it's everyone's duty to be educated and spread education. Overall, over time, this got picked up by a few nations in the south which gave it more funding to spread all over the world, and over time, the IBC (being a product of this philosophy) wants to spread education to as many people as possible. It's also affiliated with local government, to the chagrin of some governments at war with each other while the IBC insists that the war isn't their problem and they're just trying to spread knowledge. This branch offers education in natural philosophy, history, performing, and visual arts, with the most focus on the foremost, as the history program at the city's regular university tends to overshadow that of the bards' college. All this information was on a plaque detailing the history of the IBC in a nice little garden on the campus. Turning our attention more to the campus itself and its student body, it seems this college has a lot of earth science and chemistry people, with a subsection devoted to rocks and measuring tools. In another section, some people inspired by current events are making a play about two lovers (one from Corroza, one from Vanecia) tragically separated by war.
Checking for others, there's someone from the nearby farming village who really wants to make the banjo into a respected instrument, so they're playing one really loudly and doing banjo things that we didn't think were possible--they really are that dedicated to the instrument. Nadyn: "TEACH ME, WISE MASTER." Said master is the equivalent of a PhD student. Banjoist: "Ah yes: this humble instrument, thought to be known only to the hicks and swamp dwellers of the world, has quite the history behind it, and multiple ways to play it--for example, one thing you could do is simultaneous percussion and string tapping, like this--and if you play it well enough, it sounds like someone is drumming and playing at the same time. There should be more respect for folk music." Nadyn: "Absolutely! If I were to get one of those myself, where should I buy one?" Banjoist: "There's a great place that sells string instruments down the street--right over there, in fact!" Nadyn: "Thank you very much! Oh, what's your name, by the way?" Banjoist: "Ah, yes--my name is Hugh." Turns out 'getting more than one note and some percussion at the same time' is one of the exact problems Nadyn's been trying to work out with her performance given her available instruments, so she books it to the store, with Luna waving goodbye to Hugh and leaving thereafter. A banjo is pretty cheap as far as string instruments go, because holy crap are most of those expensive. Since it's more of a folksy instrument, they start at 6 gold pieces for the most basic, with prices increasing for nicer designs or better sound quality or durability. A super-ornate, super-fancy, show-stopping banjo would cost 15 gold. Nadyn: "I NEED IT Okay, I'll get the show-stopping banjo." It initially has a jungle design on the back and vines on the front, but changes biomes to swamp and then to ocean, communicating that it's such a simple instrument that anyone from anywhere can play it--a banjo that's happy being a banjo.
Meanwhile, Tsuki enters a smithy; the blacksmith is a rugged lady in the vein of that Spongebob character who goes, "How tough am I? I ate a bowl of nails this morning," but in human form. Tsuki shows her the fake leg, wanting to reinforce it somehow. Smith: "You want to make this fake leg into some kind of weapon?" Tsuki: "Yes, a club-like weapon of some sort." Smith: "Yeah, I could make that work... I could definitely alter this for you. You want to keep the general shape and color, correct?" Tsuki: "Yes!" Smith: "Okay! Well, that is slightly harder, but your leg is in good hands, sir--I'll need 1 gold for that, it shouldn't take me but a half an hour or so, I shall be right back." Tsuki pays and watches this lady tap the leg, reinforce it, add a little to it, and paint over it so everything blends in, and at the end of half an hour he has a new well-balanced leg fit for combat (and still serviceable for a Very Convincing disguise). So mechanically, it's just a club in addition to being a leg. Leg-shaped club. Well-balanced. Luna meanwhile looks for a store selling magical staves; since magic is ubiquitous enough that the average person with an education knows at least one cantrip, there are definitely some staff shops around, though proper Magic Items are extremely out of her price range. She could get a Gandalf-esque quarterstaff for a cheap 2 silver pieces, while a fancy woodsy one encrusted with a red gem starts at 5 gold--more expensive, more flashy--and looking for a purple gem, there's one that's slightly sky-themed, so instead of wood it's made of a blue metallic material, with the bottom being tinged with obsidian so it could be used as a spear if needed. Luna prefers the woodsier one (2lb) and purchases it.
President foolishly put a zoo in this town (albeit a rather research-oriented one), not realizing we would OBVIOUSLY get distracted. But first, Clara visits the marketplace (there's also a black market none of us would know about since we're not rogues and don't know Thieves' Cant). The regular market is selling some unusual Cordovan fabrics and linens, figurines that are supposed to bring good luck, and in many shops, a symbol of a bull is prominent for a reason Clara doesn't know--apparently it's the symbol of Cadako, hence a lot of bull-themed motifs. Aside from that, there's street food, jewelry, regular marketplace fare. Clara checks out the cloth and textiles out of curiosity, figuring that in case they're selling her family's stuff she may as well take a look, and maybe she could do a good deed like seeing if anyone needs help putting things on a shelf or something. Sure enough, an older lady selling artwork is showing her age with a very sore back, so Clara helps out while the lady tells Clara about news and idle gossip in Cadako: same old same old with the war, elections, and all that good stuff; predicting some inflation coming along for a bunch of different things. Art lady: "That's just the way it is, isn't it? Can't expect everything to be dandy during a war, but still sucks." Clara helps her move stuff around and reach things, learns more about Cadako in the process, and has fun asking questions and doing stuff for her. Yaaay, good deed quota for the day! Tsuki purchases some small supplies off-camera. Next session is scheduled for President's birthday so Tsuki will likely do something completely unhinged in celebration of that. Or, more wholesomely, maybe Clara will find an NPC whose birthday it is and help them celebrate. Check back in two weeks or so!
Last Edit: Jul 31, 2022 16:39:45 GMT -5 by Coaster
* Regalia tells us Nalariel was a true elf who got into elf supremacy and started messing with souls and reincarnation.
* Regalia advises us to seek more information in Nalariel's land of origin to the north-west, now called Lar'uk, and also in the Shadowfell. We can stop in Luna's village on the way and she has a contact in Lar'uk.
* Regalia tells us of her taste in accessories in case we bring her souvenirs.
* We detect that the ghouls lurking in the old forest have been affected by necromancy magic.
* Long rest at the Institute -> Day 8
* Gopal loans us a donkey.
* One week trip to Luna's village on the way to Lar-uk -> Day 15?
* We reach Luna's village and settle for the night. Long rest -> Day 16?
After finding an invisible door in the wild woods and performing an improvised tragedy instead of knocking, we have just been invited for food by a definitely vampire.
Now that we're inside the invisibility field we can see the walls of this place, which look ancient, built in a style that we do not recognise as elven or Corrozan. It's mostly ruins, except for one little cabin where our host, Regalia, takes us.
She disappears for a minute and returns with a bunch of things obviously foraged from the forest, like some berries, and also a whole rabbit. RIP Vyn, Mara hugs her and covers her eyes.
Vyn has enough sense to check what this food is - or roll for Survival, as some players of a strange otherworldly game might call it - and finds that the food is fine, even if the berries are spicy and better for birds.
While enjoying this hospitality, we bring up Nalariel. Regalia last encountered Nalariel two thousand years ago, on the other side of the world.
She checks what we know of Nalariel, to which Mara fills her in on the wraith attack, Nalariel turning out to be disguised as a village elder, their poofing away into shadow smoke which looked very cool, and their violent assault against Rahul which was not cool at all!
"There was an elf who lived a little bit before my time," says Regalia thoughtfully. "Places all blend together but... Lar-uk is the current name of the land. They somehow cheated death, not like me or you, they have been able to retain their sense of self between reincarnations." The elves of this land do believe in reincarnations, but of the sort that would go through different lives as different persons, not the same person reemerging in different bodies!
Vyn wonders, "Would that be a blessing or a curse?"
Regalia thinks it is relative. "I would say it would be a curse, or something one would mistakenly pursue, it is not good to be attached to the self. I would not say that it has worked out for the souls of people around Nalariel."
"Can this be undone?" asks Vyn.
"Maybe someone in the Shadowfell knows. I have tried to walk into the Shadowfell many times, but I have been refused."
Mara asks, "What happens to the souls around Nalariel?
"Last time I saw them, they had the power to tether souls to themself, with a weaker tether than what they've achieved for themself. It corrupts their selves, perhaps enthralls them - though cannot permanently corrupt a soul."
"That would explain why elders were going along?" Vyn guesses. "Should we still be concerned?"
Regalia assures us that the effect should fade over time. Mara wonders why Nalariel was posing as an elder in the first place.
"In their first life, they were a true elf," Regalia reveals. "Perhaps their experiences with souls led them to want a personality beyond that." The old land that is now called Lar-uk used to be full of elf-supremacist elves, and Nalariel may have become curious about this. Right in their formative years of searching for a personality to acquire, too.
"In order to learn more," Regalia advises us, "I would seek Lar-uk and what has become of it, and speak to an official in the Shadowfell." She does warn us that the Shadowfell is dangerous.
"Vyn's trip to the Shadowfell sounded nice?" says Mara.
"I am lucky though!" our favourite bunny reminds us, "not sure you should follow me in."
It transpires that Luna's friend's cousin's uncle's son lives in Lar-uk! We already have a contact to visit there. Lar-uk is off to the north-west, and we could get better directions to travel there by stopping in Luna's village.
Mara enquires what Nalariel could have been plotting with the cursed armour that we were originally investigating, by the way.
Regalia guesses that it would have had no bearing on Nana's long term goals, rather it may have played a part in a short term objective. Regalia is really not up to date on what matters to the kids these days.
Mara offers to update her! Regalia enquires about King Syed - the last ruler of peaceful united Uvina, the guy referenced in every "back in my day" - because he did spend some time here with her, studying battle strategy.
Mara gives Regalia a summary of Syed's history and informs her that he is no longer around. "Thanks for mentoring him, though!"
Regalia is also into hats. We mention that there is a very cool hat shop in Kadu-vi. Regalia would like us to buy her the peacock hat we described. Luna enquires on her taste in garments, in case we find some cool exotic new clothes on our travels, and Regalia would like something blue.
"Sure," Luna tells her before asking something important. "Next time, should we also perform a play?" Yes, Regalia would like another play, please. Khitah asks if she may play a villainous role next time and practices her villainous evil laugh, which Regalia deems excellent.
After we rise from this meal and bid Regalia good-bye, Vyn forages for berries and locates some... but the berries are already being munched on by some weird ghoul?
After safely retrieving a berry sample we use Detect Magic. It only reveals a -vague- sense of necromancy from -somewhere-. We collect more samples. Necromancy has definitely happened to this ghoul, but we can tell that it is not actively magic.
Back at the Institute, we make ourselves a nice dinner, have a good rest, collect some letters from the students to deliver to Kadu-vi, and we're off, on a safe path.
Three days later we are back in Kadu-vi. We are greeted by the very familiar scent of hops. We see a long line of elves queuing in front of Chef Paul's new restaurant which is offering a sampling. "Eat Criminal Catching Paella Today!"
At night, Gopal appears and thanks us for our assistance!
"We recovered the armour and they got Vanecian scouts out of the cursed armour. One of them got ambushed by a looter, and they and several looters were held prisoner inside the alternate dimension of the armour. The soldiers were aware that they had a contact through magic, suspected to be Vassu, and Vassu did show up to activate the armour."
Gopal loans us a donkey for our journey to Luna's place to learn more about directions to Lar-uk! Luna communes with the donkey, who loves orange peels and barley, and we dub them Orley.
The trip to Luna's village takes us one week, because mountains are difficult, and we spend more of our rations.
We see lots of little wisps of light congregating around little houses built by gnomes to offer hospitality to fey creatures.
The local gnomes welcome us with smiles all around as if we'd always lived there! Everything is constructed for short people and the taller members of the party have more trouble here.
We meet Solara, a friend of Luna's, who is also into stars but has this outlandish theory that the Sun is just another star? Woah there. Solara had been worried about Luna in Mettei.
We meet Tibil, a gnome baker who runs a bakery full of steampunk machinery. They are inspired by Vyn, because she is a Bun! She gives us news of Luna's brother, who is not around, having gone off to fetch very important supplies from a place called Darshak.
Tibil the gnome refers us to Tinker the gnome, who prepares an old barn for us to sleep in, the only place in this gnome village with enough room for a Khitah to settle to sleep.
We meet Luna's friend Pan the pan-maker who has an excellent cast iron pan for sale! Khitah purchases one as an amazing new weapon.
Before we sleep, Luna takes time to show Mara the stars - they take notes -, and her new druidic Starry Forms which make her ~shiny~: Archer, Chalice, and Dragon.
After a long rest, we're off to find the ferry, a ferry run by a fairy, that can take us around the mountains to Lar-uk.
We leave Luna's village in the morning and start moving towards the fairy's ferry that will take us to Lar-uk.
Pan the pan-maker escorts us for the first part and points us to a very steep drop: that's the rest of the way we have to go! There is also a fairy forest to go through after that.
We decide to rappel down the cliff. Mara rolls a good, beautiful knot! Their rope goes about halfway down. Khitah also rolls a knot, and it is also beautiful! We admire the knots.
Vyn prepares to catch us with Feather Fall if needed. She carefully scales the first part of the cliff to find a cave from which to aim the spell.
Luna bravely rappels first to test the rope. She warns us that the bottom half is smooth and slippery, too slippy to brace our feet! So we need to be able to hold our body weight with our arms.
Khitah goes next, smoothly, so she can catch us from the bottom if we need. Mara flails a bit at the bottom due to their puny wizard arms, but Khitah is there to stabilise them. Khitah then climbs back up to help Vyn down from her safety ledge.
Time to find our way in this forest. We do not have a map of this forest. D: Mara is a city boi, Luna grew up on a mountain, and... Vyn grew up in the woods! Hurray. We look up, a very tiny Pan is waving us Good Luck!!
We see more of those little gnome houses made to house little fairies. They look older and lived-in, with gardens, decorated, cute. Mara decides to walk by these houses: since someone came here to build them, it must be a generally safe path.
A fairy throws a rolled-up leaf at Luna, chittering in a tone that sounds like a newspaper deliverer calling "extra, extra!"
It's all in Sylvan, so we hand it to Vyn, who reads: predictions for better weather soon, and a headline: giant termites strike again! They have victimised the neighbourhood of Fancy Fairy Name Neighbourhood, we don't know what to do about the giant termites that are eating our houses.
We have a Luna and she is up for trying to talk to these termites! We catch a fairy's attention by flailing. Vyn tells them in Sylvan that if they show us the way, we can help!
"Oh, you guys are big, you can solve big problems!" says the little fairy.
The street signs are so tiny that we can't see them at all. The fairy zooms ahead, we have to catch up, but it is a manageable pace because we are Big. We see a regular forest clearing, which is a huge mega metropolis to them. One half of the clearing is in ruins as the termites have eaten the houses!
We investigate, Mara finds a termite that is unusually large, but still smashable by hand. They are edible, but Mara decides not to sample them for the sake of diplomacy. "Hey Luna, look at this termite, isn't it a chonky boi?"
Luna casts Speak with Animals and tries to hold the termite, which freaks out a bit at being held at first.
Luna says, "Hello, I don't want to hurt you, I am only holding you so I can hear you better!"
"No hurt!!1!" she hears the termite reply.
"No no, no hurt!" she affirms.
"I wish I could talk to bugs..." Khitah comments meanwhile, "well I wish I could understand them. I talk to bugs all the time, I just don't know what they say back."
"You are eating our friends' houses, that is a problem," Luna tells the termite.
"What is house?"
"It is a place where people live."
"Yes, but a special tree."
"Special delicious tree!"
"No - like a nest!"
The termite is confused. "Why not eat delicious?"
Luna tries to explain that homeless is sad.
"But tree delicious!
Luna suggests, "Different tree? More delicious for you? This one already belongs to these fairies!"
"OK, I tell my siblings, do you want me to get them?"
"Yes please! I will let you down now."
Somehow retaining our brain cells through the termite conversation, we plan to find a different, yummy source of wood to divert the termites from ready-to-eat fairy houses. We attend a termite meet-up! To Luna's understanding, it sounds like a chorus of "Tree tree tree delicious tree!"
Luna has a conversation with some termites congregating on her hand. She recruits one as a taste tester - it assures her that it eats lots - and asks it to tell its family that we will be back to lead them to a most delicious tree.
We walk through the woods, sampling trees with our taste tester, when we suddenly hear frantic crow calls.
Luna hears, "Hey, hey what you doing, that's our tree!"
"Sorry," she replies, "we didn't want to intrude! We are looking for a new home for these termites, but we'll leave yours be."
"Termites, I hate these things!" The crow begins an amazingly rude rant, censored for the forum. "First I thought they might be delicious, but they're not delicious food! They weren't here before last year."
"I wonder where they came from?" asks Luna.
"I don't know man, but I hate these things! They eat faster that trees can grow. You darn diggity humanoids and your darn diddly doodle travelling!"
Oh, travelling humanoids are behind this, so these termites are invasive? We need to figure out where they came from, because they sure don't have a clue and speaking to them continues to lower our brain cell count. Our Sylvan speaker Vyn will query the fairies for more information.
We find a log as a snack for the termites to tide them over while we investigate. We notice a distinct lack fallen logs in this forest, compared to other forests - possibly due to the termites eating them all.
Vyn finds a fairy, who pauses in her sweeping with her tiny broom, agreeing to help when Vyn mentions that we are trying to solve their headline-worthy problem.
"We hear that these termites came a year ago, do you remember what happened then, where they might have come from?"
"A ship! One year ago, there was a big ship, a big crash."
"Is it still there?"
"Yes, near the ferry! Where Faereigh the ferry fairy is."
"Have you spoken with her?"
"No, she prefers being alone, she doesn't often come by."
Vyn gives the fairy a little chunk of food from her rations, which is a huge piece of food to this little fairy who struggles to fit through her door. She will make. So much soup!
We keep going through the forest, which is going constantly downhill - and looks very much like the forests around Forks, Washington which means we're hiking through Twilight -, with another steep drop to reach the shoreline.
We find a small lighthouse, like a child-sized lighthouse, one regular story tall. Nearby is a little hut made of pebbles, and a boat of average size connected by a tiny string to the lighthouse.
Vyn knocks on the door - a normal knock, astounding?! - and an old fairy comes out, dressed in pirate captain garb under wizard robes, looking like a wise old nonbinary Gandalf. They have a staff even though they have wings.
After we ask about the wreck that brought the termite, this Faereigh the ferry fairy takes us down the shoreline for two hours, until we reach the wreck of a commercial ship. There are traces of camps, indicating that there had been survivors staying in the vicinity.
A lot of goods were taken away from the ship with the survivors. Some of the ship is termite eaten too.
As we search, Mara finds the ship's manifest and other ship metadata, its destination and itinerary, its affiliation with the northern empire. The ship came from somewhere even farther north to trade with Vanecia.
There is a list of everyone on ship, captain, crewmates. A very specific note about one passenger says: "Do not disturb pet termites, very fragile, passenger would be very upset if pets are gone." Well now we know.
Khitah finds treasure, a pretty green rock. The rock is jade!!
The survivors might have tried to head to a human settlement, the nearest is called Albaiin, and it has college, aside from that we don't know anyone who lives or used to live there, nope. And it's 9 days away, too long for us to travel just for some termite guy. We might check that out some other time.
We gather unrotten ship wood from the ship to bring back to the fairies as new construction material, since that's the wood the termites left uneaten.
We board the ferry at the end of the day and settle to rest for the night. As Mara is transing, they hear a song. The song is so very charming that Mara is charmed despite being an elf! The song makes it sound really fun for them to move towards the edge of the ship.
Fortunately Mara's karaoke instincts kick in and they sing along, which wakes Vyn, who is luckily not charmed. Luna is the next to awaken and remains uncharmed. Khitah, the deepest sleeper, is charmed!
And thus, we have the Tol half of the party charmed and happily about to jump overboard, with the Smol half of the party lucid and tasked with holding them back.
Faereigh the ferry fairy bursts out onto the deck. "Hey, guys! Don't listen to that! That's a siii-" *sees the mess already happening* "-iireeeennn... You two, quick, cover their ears! I have wax!"
This is a gnome-made ship, which is clear from all the little buttons and levers. Faereigh pushes a button and opens a compartment that is full of wax! Jumping to reach up, they manage to block 1 (one) out of Mara's 2 (two) ears.
Meanwhile in the waves, a pale head with straggly black hair is rising. We see Sadako come out of the water!
Vyn tacklepounces Mara to pin them to the deck, burritoes them in her bedroll, and waxes up their other ear. She rolls low on athletics, but Mara is squishy and out of it and faceplants on the desk under the assault of this rabbit-shaped void with unblinking silver eyes!
Luna is doing her best to pull Khitah back, but she is dragging Luna further with her. Khitah, our professional gay, finds this Sadako pretty fine! It takes all of us to triple tackle Khitah, with one party member for each leg, and slam her back. Vyn and Luna shove fistfuls of wax into her leonin ears and she is finally safe.
Faereigh the ferry fairy returns with a tiny flute that makes very big sounds, not good sounds at all. Faereigh plays the same tune as the siren while completely drowning out siren song. The tiny flute sounds like a middle schooler's flute, but deep fried, like a humorous edit of some famous songs associated with some very famous ships. Very advanced defensive fairy magic.
We finish our night on the ferry. In the morning, Faereigh drops us off at a larger lighthouse in an actual port. The locals recognise them and greet them cheerfully.
We have arrived in modern day Lar'uk! We see a bunch of humans and elves living together, and a mixture of human architecture and elven hippie dippie style, with artistic rock formations and calming pagodas here and there. The local elves have East Asian traits and greyer skin tones than wood elves, the local humans have East Asian and some Mediterranean traits.
We have an address for Luna's friend's cousin's uncle's son, Calben, and are about to go find them.