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Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Brass Dragon's Lair
~ fifth-day, 5th of Hammer, The Year of Rogue Dragons, afternoon
Teshyllal Wastes

"I lair within a rocky pillar with four spires of varying heights. All true entrances face the east, so that the sun will warm the...."

   Hakam had just sent a magical message to the brass dragon Sseth for clearer details on how to find his lair. He shared it with the others. They were sailing in the sky due "east from the fifth minaret south of the place where one turns off to follow the stones to the" Friary of St. Amahl, as Sseth's directions the morning before had told them. It was over a hundred miles of sand from Teshburl to the Teshyllal Wastes of the Calim Desert. They had been flying for eight hours since morning, first north to where they spotted the monastery they had once visited, then south, and then east. Leokas was at the helm. The dragon had told them to go twenty miles from the minaret. They had about five miles left to go.

   Sseth's directions the day before were so straightforward, relatively speaking, that Szordrin was worried. "Ask him if he is being coerced?" the tiefling had said. He had had Hakam send a second message with a secret response to indicate if he was in any danger. The dragon had not returned the "secret word", but he did not indicate that all was well either. "I must warn you. I am not feeling well these days. I have awful headaches, and I want to eat everything. Do not bring Kamil!"

   The rest of that day had been spent buying and selling and in dealing with Oma's father. Kanar "the Ox" el Ehrat had sent Hakam a message by delivery boy early in the morning.

Hakam, Atiq will meet with you at highsun at the Roving Rune. Use the inn entrance, not the tavern entrance. I recommend coming in disguise. The others should stay on the ship until matters are resolved. Oadif has connections with el Amlakkar and will convince them that waiting to arrest you until you try to leave may give them more time to catch you in other criminal activities. I presume that your party has no intention of partaking in any actual criminal activities and trust that you will not correct this understanding of mine.

Hakam had complained about the disguise, but Szordrin had given him a beard and made him look older by graying his hair.

   The meeting with Atiq el Catahras had gone surprisingly well. "Why did she not tell her mother and me that she did not want to marry Hakamir?" the man had said. "If she had only spoken up instead of run off...." Atiq promised to drop the bounty immediately if Hakam would promise to deliver a letter to his daughter when next he saw her. Hakamir el Wisynn would be furious, but if Atiq cancelled the engagement, the man would no longer be able to keep his own bounty.

   They were still advised to lay low, just in case, so Leokas and Hakam did not leave the ship after that, as those two in particular might be recognized. Belvin, instead, had sold the camels and purchased food and water; Szordrin had sold the gems and the cursed cloak; and Solisar had purchased pearls for his magic and two hammocks, rope and pulleys, oars, and two rowboats for the spelljammer.

   After a second night berthed in Teshburl, to get safely out of the port, they had had to hire a pilot and sailors to take the ship a mile from the docks. Then they rowed the men back to shore.

   That had all been this morning. Belvin was now scanning the land ahead of them from the foredeck. They were only sailing about a half mile over the sand, but even at such a low flying altitude, the horizon was about 60 miles away. The problem was not in any way distance but recognition; there were many sandstone pillars ahead of them.

   Belvin pointed. "That structure, a bit to the north has three spires, each at a different height, but suppose there is a fourth on the east side that is lower, which we cannot yet see?"

   "How far away is that?"

   "I suspect about three or four miles. Leokas would be a far better judge."

   They sent word down to Leokas to adjust their course a small amount to the north. In about fifteen minutes, they had passed to the eastern side, and sure enough, there was a fourth, short spire on that side. As Leokas carefully lowered the vessel to the sand below them, Hakam began another sending prayer: "We believe that we have arrived. There seem to be no cave entrances on the eastern side. Will you come out to meet us?"

   "I do not want to come outside, dear friends. Find one of my sand-covered bolt holes. Follow the tunnels up to the center of the pillar."

   "What is a 'bolt hole'?" asked Szordrin, after Hakam had shared the message. The cleric did not know.

   "It is a place where a small animal like a rabbit hides," said Belvin. "It means that we are going to have to dig." He seemed excited by this prospect.

   "If Leokas takes us closer to the pillars," suggested Szordrin, "I can use this wire to communicate with him."

   "Unless he is standing near a cave opening," said Solisar, "such magics will not penetrate the stone. We have little choice but to find the entrance ourselves."

   So Leokas took the ship down to within a half dozen yards above the sand. Kytharrah then lowered everyone, except Ilthian and Leokas, down to the ground in one of the rowboats, using the pulley and winches that they had recently purchased. He followed after them down the rope. Belvin transformed into a large badger and began digging and sniffing at the base of the massive sandstone formation, and Szordrin sent Ferry, his weasel, to do the same. In the meantime, Solisar used his magic to fly about the pillars, scanning them for any magical auras.

   Tymora smiled upon them, and it was not long before Ferry scurried up Szordrin's leg to squeak into his ear. "Ferry has found an opening that leads much deeper," the wizard shared. Belvin continued digging at the site, and soon enough, he had dug out an opening large enough for them all to crawl through. He then shifted back into his elven form and began to get dressed again.

   "You are not coming with us?" Hakam asked, when Belvin began to climb the rope to the deck of their ship.

   "I stay with Kamil, of course," said Belvin. "Especially since Sseth threatened to eat him! I shall replace Leokas at the helm and take the ship into wildspace. I shall return to retrieve all of you in an hour."

   "Before you go, can you at least use your magic to check for any natural traps in this tunnel?" asked Solisar. "Dragons often leave traps to protect their lairs."

   Belvin did so, but the way ahead was clear of any pits or snares, at least for the first 150 feet of the tunnel. So he and Leokas traded places, and the latter elf joined them. After the initial crawl through the sliding sand, they entered a sturdy, stone tunnel with walls from ten to twenty feet in width. At first the tunnel curved around to the north where it reached an intersection. To the left, west, the tunnel was plugged with sand — likely another bolt hole. This left two other paths, straight ahead and to the right, for them to pick.

   Kytharrah inhaled deeply through his nose. "Bad eggs!"

   "He must smell the sulfur from the dragon's breath," said Solisar. "Which way, Kytharrah?"

   "This way!" Kytharrah said, grinning and starting down the right path. The minotaur had his everburning torch in hand, while Hakam's shield was magically glowing.

   Ten yards farther, they reached a dead end.

   "Good job, Lunk," said Szordrin, sarcastically.

   "No, he chose correctly," said Leokas. "It is not a dead end; we have to climb." The elf motioned up. The ceiling of the passage was gaining significant height above them now, and 20 feet up, there was an opening in the wall in front of them.

   Kytharrah jumped up, grabbed onto the ledge and lifted himself up. Then he cast down his rope and helped pull the others up one by one — except for Leokas, who climbed. It would have been an easy hop for a dragon the size of Sseth.

   They continued onward, east into the heart of the desert rock formation. After 100 feet, the path turned sharply north, but Kytharrah shook his head. "No, up again." He jumped and pulled himself up, vanishing again in the darkness. Like before they climbed up after him.

   This higher passage continued roughly east, though it curved around in an ess shape to do so. By now, the ceiling was a full 50 feet above their heads, and the width of the tunnel was 20 feet. Then they came to the first of a line of nine columns. From here, the wall to the right was smooth and clearly had been carved. The ceiling, supported by the columns was not the natural ceiling any longer either, but the walls to the left were still natural. The passage widened considerably from here with a large opening farther ahead to the left.

   Solisar and Hakam examined the first column. "Calishite design," said Hakam.

   "Yet the carvings are Iokharic," said Solisar, "that is, Draconic runes."

   "Do I smell minotaur?" A deep voice echoed through the cavern, startling all of them.

   "Hello?" answered Kytharrah.

   "The minotaur is with me," Hakam called back, "with Hakam. We are coming to you."

   There was no further answer, but they advanced nonetheless. Passing the large opening to their left, they saw that there were wide steps descending into a massive chamber, but the dragon's voice had come from in front of them, where the tunnel became natural again and curved to the south. Szordrin went to the left to investigate further, but the rest continued on. They followed it and came to yet another wall with an opening up above. They waited for Kytharrah to leap up again, but he was looking down.

   "Shiny bottle!" The minotaur picked up a black bottle. It was polished pottery with a steel stopper.

   Solisar muttered some arcane syllables and then said, "It is magical, a conjuration aura."

   "It is Allu's bottle," said Hakam. "I recognize it."

   Leokas nodded and then began climbing. "Come," he said, "let us meet with the dragon."

   After they all were at the top, including Szordrin, who had returned from scouting, Hakam led the way down the twisting tunnel, which led them through a ten-foot opening into a huge chamber that was roughly square. There before them lay the dragon, resting on a large bed of coins.

   Even those who had seen Sseth before were wowed by the immense size of him. He was at least 60 feet from tail to serpent-like snout. It was impossible to estimate his wingspan at the moment, as his wings were folded close to his body. The dragon's head had the unique curved, bony frill of all brass dragons. Oddly, Sseth's huge eyes were closed. His head was resting on the ground and he covered his ear holes with his two foreclaws, as if he were trying to quench a very loud noise.

   "We thank you for returning the bottle to us, good dragon," said Hakam. "You seem unwell."

   Sseth opened one of his glowing, white eyes. "I have not been outside for many days," the dragon said, ignoring Hakam's comments. "Is there, by chance, a red comet in the sky?"

   "No," said Leokas. "There are no comets in the sky now. I am certain."

   Solisar was the only one of them who understood what the dragon was really asking. "The King-Killer Star can affect dragons even when not visible," he said.

   Sseth opened his second eye, but did not yet raise his head from the ground. "You are a sun elf," he stated simply.

   "Axun, ya vaecaesin aurix," said Solisar. "Arominak Solisar. Rasvim ekess wux."

   "Rasvim ekess wux, shar thric vethirasvim," answered the dragon. "Arominak Sseth. I apologize for my present condition. Were I myself, I would ask to hear your stories, old and new, but I suggest that none of you come any closer, tiny creatures as you are, to a grumpy, old dragon." Sseth at last lifted his massive head from the ground, exposing his two chin horns. "Where is Belvin? Where is Mythlos?"

   "Mythlos is somewhere near the High Forest," explained Hakam, "seeking further training from the elves. Since we last saw you, he has learned the power of his ancestral sword. Belvin could not come see you in person, but he regrets this and sends his greeting."

   "No play?" said Kytharrah.

   "Not today, little brother," said the dragon.

   The others expected Kytharrah to react to being called little, but the minotaur could not object to being called such by a being weighing over ten tons.

   "And what are you?" Sseth now looked at Szordrin and sniffed. "I smell fiendish blood."

   "He is a tiefling," answered Hakam, "but he is not evil."

   "Which is not to say that he is to be trusted," said Sseth, lowering his head to the ground again.

   "We do not trust him much either," said Hakam, "but he is useful to us."

   "I am Szordrin," said the tiefling, "but I must go back to your early question about comets. What is this 'King-Killer Star'? Does it have anything to do with the fact that it is now the Year of Rogue Dragons?"

   In answer, Sseth simply closed his eyes, as if drifting off to sleep.

   "It is certainly possible that a major dracorage would be the fulfillment of one of Alaundo's prophecies," answered Solisar. "However, the last full rage of dragons was in the Year of the Dracorage, which is numbered 1018 in the Dalereckoning. A minor rage, a flight of dragons, which occur when the King-Killer Star does not pass as closely to Toril, affected only the Moonsea and the kingdom of Cormyr in the Year of the Worm, which was only very recently, seventeen years ago, two years before the Time of Troubles. I do not have the cosmological path of the comet memorized, but the King-Killer Star could not possibly have returned to Toril in only seventeen years! Its orbit takes centuries. If this is another 'rage', it could not be caused by the comet.

   "Good dragon, were you alive in the Year of the Dracorage?"

   Sseth wobbled his head. "I have only heard tales from elder dragons of the curse," he said.

   "The curse should only last a tenday at most," said Solisar. "How long have you been feeling... ill?"

   "About half that time," said the dragon.

   "Curse? Comet? I am still confused," said Hakam.

   Solisar sighed as if embarrassed. "One of the unfortunate acts in ancient history for which my people are responsible is the creation of the Dracorage Mythal, an enormous magical effect covering all of Faerûn that is tied to the appearance of one of this crystal sphere's two largest comets. During the Time of Dragons, some 20 to 30 millennia ago, they created the mythal to curse all dragonkind anytime that the comet appeared in the sky. The dragons had recently made a truce with the giants of Ostoria, which meant that the dragons now turned toward the annihilation of the elven peoples instead. The mythal was created to cause all dragons of Faerûn to slowly drift into madness and fight among themselves. This prevented the dragons from ever unifying enough to destroy the elves or establish an empire and rule all the other free peoples of Toril. Were it not for the dracorages, our humanoid peoples would likely not exist on Toril today. On the other hand, the curse of the mythal effects noble dragons as well as evil ones, and since the population of dragons has diminished on this world, the dragons are less likely to fight among themselves and more likely to rage against other surface creatures. In my opinion, the choice to create the mythal has caused more evil to this world than good." Solisar turned to the dragon and offered a heartfelt apology in the Draconic tongue for his ancestor's actions.

   "Thank you for your apology," Sseth answered in Common. "You are innocent in the matter. Nevertheless, comet or no, I am afflicted. You have your bottle. You would be wise to leave."

   "Saer dragon," said Szordrin, in as polite a voice as he could muster, "I could not help but notice that you have a truly grand library with a vast collection of books. Might you permit us to explore its volumes?"

   "No!" The dragon's head lifted off the ground again as his voice boomed. Kytharrah was not the only one who could smell the stench of sulfur in the chamber. "No," he repeated, in a more typical calm voice. "You must understand that to a brass dragon, knowledge is treasure."

   "Perhaps it would be wise for us to leave," said Solisar. "We have the bottle. We cannot do anything to help him now. We can look into how we might help him and then return."

   "Before we leave," said Hakam to Sseth, "if I may be so bold, I was hoping that you might be able to tell us more about the skeletons that you saw marching toward Allu's palace."

   "It was a small army," said the dragon, "humanoid and minotaur skeletons, a force resurrected from Calim's own army. If they were indeed marching on the lair of the efreeti, they would have arrived by now."

   "What of the blue dragon?" asked Hakam. "Would they not have to face her if they entered her territory?"

   "If this is a dracorage curse, it would affect her more strongly than me, since she is already evil at heart. Perhaps she is raging elsewhere in Calimshan."

   This triggered an idea in Solisar's mind. "Noble dragon, in the history of your kind, how do the good dragons usually respond to the ten days of the rage?"

   "They leave Toril," said Sseth. "Or they hide away in their lairs and entrap themselves until passes, as I am doing."

   "This cannot be a normal rage," said Solisar. "Something else is going on. There is no guarantee that this will cease by the end of the tenday. Is there a way for you to leave Toril?"

   "I would need to find a tuning fork to an appropriate plane," said Hakam, "but my god could shift you elsewhere. Where would you be most content?"

   Sseth perked up his head, looking mildly happy for the first time during this visit. "I have always wanted to visit the Plane of Fire," said Sseth. "I hear that the swimming is most pleasant there."

   "Szordrin, do you have your rope spell prepared?" asked Solisar.

   The other wizard nodded.

   "Sseth," said Solisar, "Szordrin and I can grant you at least 24 hours of relief from the curse, if it is indeed caused by the mythal, by creating an extradimensional space for you, here in your lair. We can then seek out a tuning fork and return. Then Hakam can send you to the Plane of Fire. Would this please you? Szordrin, show him."

   Szordrin removed the required twisted loop of parchment and some powdered corn from his component pouch as the dragon's white orb of an eye faced him, watching his every move. The tiefling spoke the words of the spell while reaching for the rope about his shoulder. The corn extract and the tiny loop vanished from one hand, while the rope launched out of his other to hang from nothing.

   The dragon stood up unto his four limbs, coins falling from between his scales, and moved over to the rope in two enormous steps. They all backed away from him into the passage. Sseth looked up, and then, with a feline-like pounce, shot straight into the air and vanished.

   Several minutes passed with no sign of the dragon.

   "Did it work?" asked Szordrin. "Should one of us climb the rope and check on him?"

   Then the dragon's fifteen-foot neck shot out of the invisible hole above them. "Have you ever tried flying in an extradimensional space?" asked the dragon, voice full of excitement. "It is the most freeing feeling! You really must try it. Delightful! Good for the soul!"

   "I shall try it next time," said Solisar.

   "Now play?" said Kytharrah, sensing that the dragon was now less grumpy.

   In answer, more of the dragon's bulk emerged from the hole, and his neck snapped out. Before any of them could respond, Sseth's jaws had clamped around one of Kytharrah's horns. The dragon pulled himself back up, lifting the 700-pound minotaur off his feet and into the air. Then, both dragon and minotaur disappeared into the extradimensional space.

   The others looked around, not sure how to respond.

   "Do good dragons eat minotaurs?" asked Szordrin.

   Leokas went to the rope. "I shall check on him."

   Leokas' head emerged into the infinite whiteness at the top of the rope. The dragon was there before him, sitting like a dog and looking out into the distance. There was no sign of the minotaur.

   "What did you do, Sseth?" Leokas demanded.

   "I tossed him," said the dragon. "Ah, here he comes again!"

   Kytharrah was now visible, running toward them at his magically enhanced speed, horns down in a full-out charge. The dragon took a defensive stance and lowered his head. The minotaur slammed into the dragon's skull plate with a loud thud and then fell back on his rump. Using his head like he was shoveling sand, Sseth then scooped up the minotaur, and with a snap of his neck, launched the friendly beast into the air. Kytharrah was laughing in enjoyment, as he traveled out of Leokas' sight into the white emptiness.

   Sseth turned back toward Leokas. "Do not worry, my little elven friend. An extradimensional place like this often has subjective directional gravity and is spacially morphic and self-contained. He will be back.

   "So, tell me of all your adventures. Whatever happened to that nice lady who smelled like djinn?"
Session: 94th Game Session - Wednesday, Aug 30 2017 from 11:30 PM to 2:30 AM
Viewable by: Public
1 comment
This Party Sucks!
Okay it actually doesn't suck. I'm not gonna say so out loud, but I like it. The drinks are actually pretty great. The clock thing was cute, and so is the huntsman who's manning the archery range. The folks' selection of bows is pretty nice and, while it's *obviously* not as good as mine, I managed to find a very nice crossbow to use in this nifty little shooting contest they've got going on. Neat. I'm gonna beat the fuck out of everyone else participating. I really do feel for the kid too. 16 years old and just now being told the world's on her shoulders. Poor thing. Kinda like me, only... half of her family will still actually be around when she grows up, instead of none of them. Oh well, whatever. Sucks for her, but she's gotta grow up sometime. I did.

Something's going on. Time things. We have to figure out this time thing. Something bad happened, I guess the kid (Mordana) died. The dude who made this Epoch Trigger cared enough to have someone come back from the future (some unlucky sap, dunno who that'd be... ha) to figure things out and stop the shit from hitting the fan. Shit thing is they didn't tell us what DID happen. Pricks. But really, to be fair, it's kind of a lot to ask for, verbal directions from a clock that can't talk. It was impressive enough that the thing could move on its own. Besides it was cute. Friendly enough too. It tried. It really tried. But it was tired. Maybe I should cut it some slack. If there's one person I feel sorry for it's that clock.

Six guys, all some flavor of shitty, hitting on her in some shitty way while they crowd around her like flies on shit. At least the party's not shitty, but damn if they couldn't fucking match the family's efforts. A girl who doesn't know what the fuck she's doing, and a friend of her's that's just trying not to outshine her while her dad dies from ass cancer and her mom dies from scaring herself to death. "Now everybody's died, so until our tears are dried, We'll drink and drink and drink and drink and then we'll drink some more, We'll dance and sing and fight until the early mornin' light, Then we'll throw up, pass out, wake up and then go drinkin' once again!" BaAHHAAHAHA. Oh god I hate my sense of humor sometimes.

Okay so. A drunk, an emo douche, some Tian dude that got kicked out of his mom's house, Uncle Touchy, a fat wannabe, and a slaver walk into a bar... No really I wish it was a joke. They all suck. But hey, you know what? I like the drunk. That man is a charmer. He can tell a fun joke and he talks about wanting to see the world. I wonder how good he is under the covers... And hell, even if he does get aggressive or do bad shit, I know I could beat the tar out of him. I hope Mordana can too, because if she HAS to marry one of these guys? He's her best hope. The others are losers, failures, or people that are just going to use her for outside gain. At least she might could have fun and live a little with him. The others? Emo douche I want to break his jaw so he can't talk anymore. I can't STAND people that full of themselves. Uncle Touchy deserves to die. And he's talking with Red oh my FUCKING gods. I hope Red has the sense to tell him just which guillotine to lay under, the damn creep. The others? Liars, swindlers, users, charlatains. OKAY so the drunk is a charlatain too but I like his style.

Lydia's right. If we can find a way to cure Mordana's dad, that'd be best, but FUCK if I know how to do that. She and Kerreth need to get over there and deal with him before he croaks, because all I can do is distract folks with the archery contest with how amazing I am. Outside of that? Be-chuille seems like she's doing something good with the druids. Supposedly Mordana wanted to be a druid, she just hasn't gotten the chance because her parents are overbearing and she's too much of a damn wallflower. We need to find and get in touch with the druids to see if they'd take her in. ...I really feel for her and Scotty, too. You know he is handsome in his own fierce protector way... Strong and diligent, kind of like Rof... Rhoka... handsome... powerful... watchful... bestial... Ack! Damnit! If Scotty had half the determination Rhoka did, those two would already be seeing each other. I tried to perk him up and he just was oblivious. So focused on his job he couldn't think about wanting her. Dumbass. Here's your chance, take it! Fuck, maybe if I can slide a noose around Mordana's neck, he'd finally come to her rescue? ...Nah. These are humans, not gnolls.

So. Bullet points. To really drive the point home.
-Kill Uncle Touchy (Corbus) at first opportunity, as I nearly guarantee he's the most likely to outright kill Mordana and her family.
-Kill the others aside from Martorius (the drunk) at some point.
-If Mordana HAS to marry someone, make sure it's Martorius.
-Try to keep Daddy Bedrider alive so she doesn't have to marry.
-Get with the druids to get Mordana in their group so she doesn't have to deal with the Dick Brigade.
-Win the archery contest (they can't beat me, and they don't know that yet - best key to winning). This won't matter to Mordana in the slightest, but it matters to me, and that's what matters to me.
-Figure out if "Ralwence" and "Lawrence" are related, the same people, or somehow connected, and why that name showed up specifically with Corbin. Besides, who names their kid Ralwence? That sounds fucking stupid. His mother deserves to be slapped for that one. If we can capture Corbin alive, maybe we can torture him for information on Ralwence. Like damn, I think I'd pick Quincy or Francis over Ralwence, and those are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
-Where the FUCK is Wayfinder? Tell me where this gods-damned mother-fucking sack of shit crusty ass sword is already before I start killing people!
Session: Game Session - Saturday, May 26 2018 from 5:00 PM to 1:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Session 10 Recap
From the barn, we kept traveling North. After a few weeks trekking through the forest, we came across a clearing where several Dragonborn (who were later found to be members of the Fang) had set up camp. Midi and Hagar approached to ask if we could share their campfire, and were met about as well as could be expected in the badlands, which is to say, they were met with violence. Through the fighting we met another Dragonborn by the name of Musasi who had been hunting the Dragonborn in the camp for quite some time. The camp’s leader, who had a very large sword, is Musasi’s brother and Musasi aims to kill and bury him. Musasi’s brother seemed to be a practitioner of necrotic magic, which seemed to come as a surprise to Musasi. We squeaked out a victory when the brother and two of his men fled. One of the fallen Fang had a map on him, showing a crude drawing of the Spirekeep Mountains and the Garden of Deliverance.

We tracked the Fang as far as we could, but lost the trail eventually. Still, we figured we knew their final destination anyway, and kept going North until we finally got to the Garden of Deliverance. After disguising Midi and Musasi with those forehead markings we saw on Bip and Bap, we made our way past the Null Army men stationed at the entrance to the region and made our way inside.

Tysha had told us of the undead coming from the mountains and of the Null Army keeping the Garden hostage, and Midi’s friends had told us of some disease with a cure being found by someone named Xeridal. We knew so little going in. All of it was much worse than we could have imagined.

We met with our contact, Evet, in the village of Hopa. She told us all about the disease. Called the “rotting plague” by those afflicted, it causes people’s bodies to decay. It takes about three to four days after entering the body to begin showing. It comes in stages, weakening day by day and killing in about five. The Garden was cut off from the rest of Drasek as a quarantine. The Null Army has been distributing vials of a strange white medicine said to stave off the effects of the plague if taken daily. Evet said that, along with the woman named Xeridal in Fort Kulpa, there was a Tiefling druid in the village of Tyre who had a lead towards a cure. We set off towards Tyre, but on our way out of Hopa we stopped to examine a graveyard. Many graves laid empty, with dirt tossed all around them… almost like something had dug its way out?

In Tyre, we found the Tiefling, a druid of the forest named Miletia, handing out medicine to the diseased. For some reason, she had never caught the plague herself. She was a remarkable woman, using all her knowledge to help the sick. Through her studies, she had found that restoration spells can cure the plague, but with the plague being so contagious and no one being allowed to leave, that simply wasn’t a feasible option. However, she was close to finding an herbal remedy, and decided to accompany us to Fort Kulpa in the hopes of working with Xeridal.

Oh, also three Dragonborn matching the description of Musasi’s brother and his men were seen pretty consistently about three days ahead of us along the main road of the Garden. If we’re being honest, I was more focused on the problems of the Garden than on Musasi’s revenge, since no connection was apparent to me.

In Fort Kulpa we found Xeridal, who seemed for all the world to be a hardworking scientist trying her best to save the Garden. We introduced ourselves, and asked how we could help her find the cure. She told us tales of an Otyugh said to be stalking the Spirekeep Mountains, poisoning the river, and overall causing the plague. She claimed that if we were to bring some of the beast’s innards, she could study them and reverse engineer a cure. When I asked her, Xeridal seemed to have no clue about the zombies and the bodies of the dead potentially reanimating. We set off for the village of Imrud, where Xeridal said the Otyugh was last sighted. We set off.

On the way, Miletia shared with me that she had done some snooping in Xeridal’s lab. She showed me a particular herb, which she believed might be the missing link to her cure. I promised to look for more of it, for her to take back to Tyre to work with after all was said and done. I would have loved to work with her.

Imrud was a ghost town when we arrived. Midi stood in the center of the village and blasted her bagpipes in the hopes of, I believe, annoying people into talking to us. Turns out, “ghost town” is a misnomer, and Imrud was actually a zombie town. The undead burst from the snow to attack us. They were mostly simple undead, but a few of them were white-skinned monstrosities with these awful paralyzing claws. After a long fight with the undead, this… thing came for us. I can’t begin to describe it. It was this… swirling mass of darkness. It hit Miletia with some sort of spike and the life just… drained out of her. Fia and Midi concealed us with dust of disappearance and a silence spell as some Null Army men approached. The monstrosity turned back into Xeridal, gave herself wounds, and told the Null Army that we were the ones who hurt her. We fled, but not before I grabbed Miletia’s notes from her bag.

The chase was awful and exhausting. It was hard to keep track of it all. Fia peeled off to hide early on, and the rest of the party split to create more confusing tracks, eventually meeting up in a cave by the river and beginning to sail away. It looked like Ostan himself was leading the Null Army men against us. It was a rough boat ride. While we were taking crossbow bolts left and right and trying desperately to hold on through the choppy water and a few waterfalls, I couldn’t get all the horrible images of the past few days from my mind. There was so much suffering in the Garden, and the one person believed to be finding the cure was actually evil, and those who died were being used somehow in some awful necrotic experiment, and I was running out of healing energy for the party, and it was all too much. The only thing I could handle thinking of was keeping Miletia’s notes safe and praying I could decipher them to find a cure. I used my druidic powers to turn into a cat and sneak safely away from the Null Army. After waiting for a while as the party got more and more down river, I went to find Fia.

I found Fia attempting to follow Xeridal. Fia’s a phenomenal rogue, but a single stealth slip up led to her going head to head with Xeridal’s monstrous form. I watched, for the second time that day, as a friend’s life was drained away. After Xeridal left I tried everything I could -- restoration, healing word, the balm of the summer court -- but nothing could bring Fia back. She’s gone.

I can’t find the words to describe how I feel right now. The loss of loved ones is one thing, but watching it happen while you stand by is something else. My usual reaction would be to shut down, numb myself, and run away. However, when Fia told me about the opportunity to go on this quest, I thought it might be a way to use my powers to ameliorate some of the suffering in the world. Now, that’s exactly what I have the chance to do. There’s no time for wallowing -- I have a purpose. I’m going to use Miletia’s research notes, I’m going to find a cure for the plague, and I’m going to help my team take Xeridal down so we can free the Garden.
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Session 9
Dear Mom and Dad,

We have finally begun our journey away from Etir. And we finally learned more about the Garden.

And Mom, Dad – I heard from Yoseph. It was fantastic.

As you well know, I was given a scroll of sending from Emir Wadya in exchange for my drum. Well, my teacher surely had a point, keeping my attachment to my drum kept me from practicing my other skills enough – and using my mandolin I couldn’t quite get the notes right.

When all hope seemed lost, Emir Wadya was kind enough to provide me with another scroll, all it took was an agreement to introduce him to some Galmaranian nobles if I ever met any. Though he seemed skeptical. As a thank you for his great favor, I let him know that there was another man in town who was broadcasting his Galmaranian heritage. A very loud, very rude aasimar who patrons the tavern I perform in sometimes named Aldritch. Side note: I thought aasimar were supposed to be noble, kind, generous folk. Why are all the ones I meet such dicks mean-spirited people?

Anyway, the next day we are all meeting up with the Cobalt Company (some other adventures on the same mission we are. Hagar didn’t seem too keen on them), when it turns out Aldritch was a drunkard who attacked people!! (Shocking, I know. Thane seemed particularly surprised, Wykeera wasn’t though. She’s so sharp.) Unfortunately, it seemed that the rest of the company was escorted away with them all. They seemed like lovely people, I would hate to think that my words to Wadya had anything to do with it.

Anyway, I let my compatriots know that Wadya knew of Cobalt’s international origins and we thought it best to stay outside of the city that day and that night. Fia and Thane were both exhausted as well. Anyway, we rest up, and with the help of Wykeera, I was able to successfully perform the sending song!
And Yoseph responded to me!

"Midi, how...nevermind. We're in Kadu. We have The Disease, but we are in high spirits. Hopefully Xeri finds the cure soon. Much love, Yoseph."

I don’t know what this disease is, but rest assured, I will bring them home. If this Xeri person cannot find a cure by the time we get there, Wykeera can use her druid magic to heal them. I will bring them home. (don’t tell Anitia about the sickness. No need to worry her.)

With this knowledge that there is a disease in the Garden of Deliverance, then we really need to know where we are going and what the place is like. I remember Aldritch’s young protegee, a young boy named Mop who might be able to give us some more information on what the Cobalt Company knew. Unfortunately, Aldritch is not the best teacher, big surprise there. But we did get a lead to go to the archives that Wadya had showed me the night before.

In the archives we found out that the garden had changed owners several times in sync. And we found a map.

We would have left it at that and have left right away, but Thane, in a fleeting moment of genuine concern, asked to go see his friend in captivity. We of course went along for support. However, it seems that Zaeshir was uncomfortable with people he didn’t know, so Thane, again being uncharacteristically thoughtful, asked for privacy. Really Mom, you were right, I think Thane just needed a good influence. It seems, however that the talk did not go well. I can’t help but think that it was my fault for outing Aldritch as a citizen of Galmran. But really, if your companions go around beating up helpless citizens there’s really no one to blame but yourself.

Mom, you should have Dad read this next part. I know you don’t like violence and I don’t want you to be upset.

Dad, as we were heading north, some Null Army mooks came out of nowhere and tried to attack us! We fended them off with the help of Rilka, who was tracking them to find her husband. They put a bounty on our heads! All because we wouldn’t stand for them being abusing their people. And the way they treat dragonborn, and anyone who is not a human. Oohhh, they make me so mad! What has this country come to?

We helped Rilka find Dak, Bip, and Bap – who they were TORTURING! Every time we meet these men, they prove themselves to be crueler than before. I can’t wait to find their leader and give them a piece of my mind.

I can’t wait to get Yoseph and Tonya home and be rid of the whole affair. Being around this prejudice is bad for my patience. I fear I might do something reckless.

Anyway, this will probably be my last letter for a while. Rilka is being kind and sending this for me, but I won’t be near a city for quite some time.

All my love,

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Friday 24th of May
We put triceratops meat into Rum. Adele casts detect poison and finds some. Adele then continues to mix more thinks to look for poison. Flayer assists her.

Then we head out following tracks that we think might belong to the Nymph. We find her - Serafina - and her 3 water elementals. There is fascination, poison, and blindness. She is working for the "little man" who has her shawl. She has to do what he says while he has her shawl. It looks like running water. Her job is to keep us away while he does sabotage.

I make the party invisible (except Flayer). Flayer teleports back to the fort to try to thwart the little man.

I succumb to charm and drop the invisibiltiy. Sharky and Jeinko are blinded. Hanna casts fly on Jeinko. Hector leaves. Jeinko flys up and Sharky retreats. Hannah dies. Hannah is blind and down 4 constitution points and beat up.

Through a team effort, Jeinko and Hector manage to touch her for a breath of life and Hannah is no longer dead. The combat continues with all of us taking turns being poisoned and/or blinded and Hector uses healing surges well and usefully.

At last, enough of us can see to fly off leaving the Nymph behind. As we start to fly ogf KABOOOOOMMMMMM. There is an explosion on the Blood Moon. The Nymph announces that her work here is done, we should get her shawl and be friends.

I think Jeinko is really really low on con. Apparently this little man called Eel is out to get Avimar and/or cause bad blood between him and us so that we fail in our quest.

And this is where we leave our intrepid pirates.
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