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The Arrival: Expanse
Session 29: The Catacombs of Yalba
The session started out in the House of Champions on the 9th of Iazon with Atka threatening to blow up the party if they didn’t prove to her that they were who they claimed to be right now. They stumbled for a minute until Wykeera remind her of Jeralf, Moroden’s incredibly old servant. The plane of Elemental Air, they remembered, is a bit harder to get to via the Ethereal Plane. That appeased her, and she dropped the spell scroll, and the party took a big exhale. At this point, the party realized that the past five days have begun to take their toll on them; they had been through several near-death fights the past several days, and their wounds were building up. Midi cast leomund’s tiny hut (by playing her bagpipes so loudly as her verbal component) so that the party could have some shelter from prying eyes. They wrote on parchment what they wanted to communicate, because the dome was opaque. The party also know that it blocks travel from the Ethereal Plane, being made of magical force.

The party came up with a code phrase so they’d be able to identify each other in case succubi/inccubi were impersonating them: “What do you wash yourself with?” “Soph.” Midi then realized that the party couldn’t just sleep in the middle of the living room without blankets; Atka tried to out outside to bring a pillow in but physically couldn’t. So they all made a pillow fort and then Midi cast her spell again. At this point, Quespa informed the party that these fire horse things came out of nowhere and brought the goat-headed fiends with them when the old botanical wing was attacked a few hours ago. Zari recalled that these creatures were known as nightmares - fiends from the lower planes who could travel between the material and Ethereal Planes, and that there was a ritual used to summon them. Midi sent a sending spell to Raha to tell her to hide the clergy in a safe place. They all slept in the hut in a big ol pillow fort. And it was the best sleep they’d had in days.

The next day, the party looked outside and saw that the city was in disarray. After the events of the previous day, people were on edge. Citizens of Yalba were keening in the streets. A building had collapsed for a reason that was generally unknown to the populace of the city. Dozens of people died, and several times more were wounded. The citizens of Yalba didn’t know what was going on, or where the next threat might emerge from. On their way to the palace, Zari said a quick prayer at what was left of the destroyed building. At the palace, they told Raha what they had learned and what they had planned to do, which was find the night hag and stop her corruptive force forever. The party left Atka and Quespa at the palace with Raha. The party visited Artificer Saadia in her tower, who was drinking. Midi asked her about Heartstones - the item that the sentient plant had informed them of in the old botany building. She told the party that a Heartstone was a foot-long magical item that can cure any disease, but didn’t know how night hags interacted with them. They left Aldritch there to drink with Saadia, and they decided to go to the atheneum.

Thane tried to convince one of the cowardly guards in front to go visit the sphinx. He didn’t seem to know what Thane meant by what he had said, but was afraid nonetheless. They found Sekmet in Anakis’ old office. They asked her about night hag things, but she was not very knowledgeable on the subject. She told them where to find the books on demon summoning, and they went up three floors to browse through old tomes. After several hours of research, the F.I.A eventually found the ritual to summon a nightmare. It required expensive material components and a humanoid sacrifice. They decided that the humanoid sacrifice was too high a price to pay, and continued on.

Next, the F.I.A visited Iomine to ask about places where they could enter the catacombs. Phanalan said that he could let the party into the catacombs, but asked that they bring a guide with them. That guide was Bernadette. She hesitantly accepted. Phanalan told the party that some members of Iomine had gone missing in the Zeharian Catacombs recently, and to try to help them if they could if they saw them. They saw through Phanalan’s and Bernadette’s interactions that they seemed to have a complex (and maybe gross) history. Phanalan kept calling the women “sweetie” and “honey” and other bad things. He was a creep, and seemed to be more unhinged than the last time they spoke.

The party descended into the ancient and dark Zeharian ruins beneath the city. Bernadette told them that she would help them avoid the areas that they weren’t allowed to go, and that she did not want to partake in any combat that may happen on this journey. The party asked why there were places they were not able to go, and she said that they were too dangerous. They were suspicious of her answer, but continued nonetheless. They walked under the city for about an hour, ducking under partially-collapsed passageways and musty corridors. While they walked, they asked Bernadette about her relationship with Phanalan. She was cagey and untrustworthy of the party, at one point telling them that they were on the “wrong side.” Thane asked the half-elf at one point if she was from Galmran. She said that she was (she and Midi actually had a conversation about being from Galmran when Midi disguised herself as a different dragonborn to contact Iomine about a month ago). Thane asked if her village had a lot of changelings, and she said that there were a few. Then he asked if Bernadette was her real name. She looked at him and said "of course." The party didn't pick up on any deceit in her voice. They also learned the she was a sorcerer, although they did not know of what type. They also noticed that she seemed more confident in her “wizard’s explorer’s gear” down here in the crypt than she did in her Iomine robes above the surface.

They continued south until they arrived at the point where the disappearances had been happening: near the edge of the city below Bloodfall Row. They came across a long corridor with bloodstains and drag marks. As the party investigated, Midi used her divine sense to look for extraplanar creatures - and sensed three redcaps lurking in the shadows! Her holy powers told her that redcaps were fey beings of evil merit that revel in torture and death. Midzaynov warned the party of these foes, and then they revealed themselves! They rushed at the party, short yet hardy figures with almost comically-oversized sicles, blood-red hoods, and heavy iron boots. The party made quick work of them, and continued down the hallway.

The party came across a split in the path, and Bernadette did not know which way would help them find the lair; they were now farther than she had ever been before. Using his natural attunement to wind and currents of air, Thane detected the smallest breeze-like noise coming down the right corridor. The party chose to take the right corridor, and head further in. Heading deeper and deeper into the unexplored sections of the Zeharian Catacombs, the party was eventually hailed by an unseen voice that shouted “who goes there?” The party fumbled for an answer for a time before a very short cloaked figure with grey skin revealed itself in the hallway. Wykeera recognized this figure as a darkling, a type of fey that has been cursed to be wizened by sunlight. Thane transformed himself into a somehow even more crazed version of Phanalan, told the creature that he was a great and powerful sorcerer, and explained to the figure that he was down here to do nefarious deeds. Thankfully, the creature didn’t believe him, and instead decided to parley with the party. He told them that a horrible creature made its lair deeper into these passages, and to stay away if they valued their lives.

The creature told them that he was a refugee from the F
eywild, and that the Summer Queen had cursed the members of his house after the War of Exiles. He and the rest of his family lived under the city, surviving on snakes and rats that made their way into the catacombs and plying their trade as thieves to the citizens above who knew of their existence. He also told the party that some of his brethren took a deal from the night hag and now work for her. After the darklings had come through a fey crossing via the underground river through Yalba, the night hag offered the darklings a “chance to live above the surface once more.” Some took her up on her offer, and some did not. The darklings who did not join her understood that they would probably have to perform great evils to get what they wanted, and decided against it. Once her offer had been made, the night hag destroyed the fey crossing on the side of the material plane. Wykeera vowed to find a way for the darklings to return home. Thane told the darkling before he left that there was one sorcerer who was even more powerful than “he” (Phanalan), and that it was Thane Illamin. The darkling told them that his name was Meekroot, ate a bunch of Hagar’s graham crackers, gave Wykeera a blue fish scale once he realized that she was “fey touched”, and then darted into a hole in one of the walls.

Pressing deeper into the catacombs, the party eventually found a large square chamber that contained the source of the rushing noise. This room held a section of the underground river on the far side; Wykeera deduced that this is where the fey crossing used to be. Also in this room were two dim green light sources spaced evenly apart and about a dozen humanoid figures who faced away from the hallway that the party was approaching from. They wore commoner’s clothing - a couple of them wore robes from Iomine. Their faces were hidden from view, and they seemed to be interacting with something at the center of their crowd. Using the sounds of the river as cover, Thane snuck around the left side of the chamber to get a better view. He could make out that there was a tall figure in the center of the semicircle, but could not see any other details. Midzaynov, using see invisibility, had been keeping track of Kilvan in the Ethereal Plane. The incubus was surprised to see the darkling, and looked more and more nervous as they approached this chamber. Thane signaled the rest of the party, and the F.I.A lept into action!

With the element of surprise, the fight was brief and bloody. Zari used her spirit guardians to decimate the humanoids who stood around a central figure: the grotesque form of the night hag herself! Hagar dove into the fray, attacking the night hag with all of his might. A sphere of darkness suddenly took center stage, blinding Hagar and most of the combatants in the fray. The battle turned against Hagar, who was taking attacks from all sides. Midi cast a faerie fire that was dwarfed by the darkness - she cast it again at a higher level soon after, effectively cancelling out the darkness. The odds were evened! Wykeera turned into a giant seagull, and began tearing into the night hag’s fiendish form. The hag fought back with necrotic claw attacks, but eventually fell to Hagar’s hammer strikes while under the effects of the darkness spell. The green globes turned into flameskulls and flung fire-based magic at the party. Bernadette flung motes of lightning at their enemies, and eventually, the party realized that the enemies who were attacking Hagar from the darkness were darklings who had decided to join the night hag.

When the smoke cleared, the party looked down at the carnage … and the night hag was gone. In her place was a large, muscular, naked, and genderless creature that the party identified as a doppelganger. Doppelgangers are monstrous creatures that can change their form - like a changeling, but more physically tough and with the ability to read minds. At this moment, Thane cast blink and inadvertently slipped into the Ethereal Plane just long enough to make eye contact with Kilvan. The incubus beckoned Thane towards him, and disappeared ever-deeper into the catacombs of the dead.
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The Arrival: Expanse
Session 28: Lessons in Falling
At the start of the session, the F.I.A stood in an office that was once used to receive professors of The Atheneum. Adjacent to them was a room labeled “herbalism research” with the health potions in a chest that was unofficially under guard by a couple of goat-headed fiends, who were sniffing around the room searching for victims of the initial building collapse. Having the drop on the fiends, Thane cast a shatter spell at them. This not only damaged the fiends, but caused some previously unseen enemies to be killed in the blast (although they party never quite did see what they were). During this fight, a human archer named Caloran joined the fray from behind the party, shooting one of the fiends in the head and killing it. A tiefling warrior named Ariadnez joined by falling through the ceiling with her greatsword, skewering a fiend that she had been fighting on the level above in one fell swoop. The party defeated the fiends, and then looted the health potions from the crate. Adi and Cal had a rushed reunion in which they revealed that they were long-lost twins, made brief introductions to the party, and pushed deeper into the still-collapsing building. Adi was looking for her girlfriend Kembi, and Cal had something important to tell Adi when they had a moment to stop and talk.

Making their way to the center of the building through one of many long hallways teeming with vines and bloodstains, Hagar brushed his hand over Cal’s cloak, revealing a symbol that he recognized to be representative of Galmranian military. Hagar kept this to himself as they continued. They eventually came across a dark room in which every wall was covered in thick vines. Thane produced a bullseye lantern from his abacus of many things, and the party entered. Once the party was entirely ensconced in this room, the vines that covered the floor began to creep up their ankles. At the same time, the mass of vines on the far wall that obscured the door that led out of this space contorted into a shape that vaguely resembled a giant humanoid face. The face contorted and bellowed at the party. In their minds, however, the entity communicated with them telepathically, and struck a much different tone. “Do not be afraid. I am here to help.”

The entity explained that they were at one point a man whose soul had been claimed by the night hag, and that communicating telepathically would allow them to communicate without alerting the fiends who were lurking in the ethereal plane. They did not remember their name or how long they had been growing as a plant creature in a bottle on the night hag’s waist, but they did know that they wanted to defy the night hag and help the party in whatever way they could. At the same time, sharpened vines shot down from the ceiling towards the party but stopped an inch before they would have made contact; the entity explained further that the magics imparted on them by the night hag were difficult to resist, and that while they wanted to help the party, doing so may put them at risk.

The party began to ask the entity a series of questions about the night hag’s plans within the city and how they might counteract them. Every time they did so, sharpened vines would descend from the ceiling and attack the asker. The party asked the following questions:

Where is the night hag’s lair?
“I do not know, but I know that it is in a large, dark room. It takes several minutes to get from the lair to the street level of Yalba via the ethereal plane.”
Thane: How many fiends does the night hag have under her service?
“I do not have an exact number, but she has no army. A few succubi, a few incubi, many goat-headed creatures, and some horses that seem to be made of fire itself.”
Caloren: What is the night hag’s plan?
“She covets the soul of Yalba. She wants to destroy the people’s faith in the clergy and tip the city into chaos so that she can reap the souls of the sinners who resort to vile acts in the aftermath.”
Wykeera: Can we save you / put you back to normal?
“I do not know, but it does not feel as such. I feel as though my purpose has been completed when I was implemented here, and now I can already feel my soul fading away.”
What’s happening at the center of the building?
“I do not know, but I do know that whatever happened to this building began there.”
Adi: Have you seen Kembi?
“I do not have vision outside of this place.”
Hagar: What is the single most important thing that you think that we need to know?
“The night hag carries with her a magic item known as a heartstone that allows her to travel between the ethereal and material planes without using her expendable magical resources for the day. If you can take that stone from her, it will severely limit her ability to wreak havoc the way she has been.”

As they were leaving, the ceiling of vines began to violently contort. Wykeera, who was the last person to exit the chamber, heard the entity tell her telepathically “My time on this earth is done. Please … tell Shala al-Bay that I love her.” After this, the vines in the room constricted, instantly crushing any creature that would have been left in the room.

The party pressed on into another long hallway that Midzaynov remembered from her last visit was the home stretch before the central auditorium. This hallway had a very high ceiling, and vines began to pass overhead in larger clusters as they got closer to the center of this building. After this encounter, Adi used her divine sense to search for fiends in the area. Her godly powers told her that Quespa, the little red dragonborn girl who was riding on Midzaynov’s back in a backpack, was a succubus. She relayed this information to the party, and Thane immediately fired off an eldritch blast at her. “Quespa” immediately vanished, Thane determined, into the ethereal plane.

Moving carefully through the fiend-infested building, the stench of rotting plant and animal life continued to strengthen. Cal scouted ahead for unseen dangers. The party eventually came across a small hooded figure facing away from them in this large hallway. They seemed to be hunched over an unmoving humanoid form. Thane cast a suggestion spell on the creature telling it not to move. Once this was done, some party members moved closer to the creature to get a better look. Hagar pulled back the hood to reveal red scales and a dragon-like snout: this was Quespa. Again. She claimed that she was trying to revive the humanoid with CPR, but failed. The party told her stand by Midzaynov so that they could protect her, and continued forward. Creeping down the hallway, they noticed two more crouched figures wearing garb of students of the athenaeum. As they approached, Adi used divine sense again to look for any would-be fiends. She determined that the dragonborn child that they had just picked up was a succubus, as were the two figures crouching further down the hallway. As Adi alerted the party to this reality, the two figures further down the hallway removed their hoods. They, too, resembled Quespa.

A fight broke out, in which the three Quespas attempted to charm the party members into attacking each other. Midzaynov was charmed, as was Hagar. Midzaynov used her dragon fear to scare many party members; meanwhile, Hagar's succubus was killed. Hagar clocked Midzaynov with his hammer, bringing her back to her senses. Midzaynov cast a thunderous smite during the battle, causing a deafening sound to ring out. The party defeated the three succubi, who reverted to their true forms after death: attractive, scantily-clad humanoid females with short horns and bat-like wings.

After the fight, Cal pressed ahead to scout. Stepping on a weakened floorboard, he accidentally caused part of the building to collapse, and deftly dodged a pile of debris that he had inadvertently caused to sail in his direction. Their stealth presumably blown, the party gathered in front of the tall wooden door that led to the central auditorium of the building. Thick vines crept from the inside of the room to the outside, holding the door shut. With a bit of force applied, the door creaked open.

The inside of this massive auditorium was almost completely covered in thick, green vines that obscured the walls and dangled from the ceiling. The space itself used to contain an ampitheater-like arrangement of seats, which had been overgrown with flora. Flying near the top of the 50-ft high ceiling was none other than Batu, the pale-skinned cambion with beautiful, almost elven features along with a pair of antlers. He addressed the party as they entered and told them that “Now we finish what we started in the Palace of Pleasure. We killed about thirty people and destroyed a building to get what we want.” When Hagar asked what it was that they wanted, he simply responded “...this,” as five figures materialized from the ethereal plane, each bearing a striking resemblance to each member of the F.I.A. Batu grinned a smile that literally stretched from ear to ear, revealing his rows of razor-sharp teeth. He uttered “we will take good care of Yalba for you,” as a giant sentient flower descended from the ceiling, landing in the center of the party. The creature looked fairly injured before the fight even began, and may have crushed them if it was not for Cal’s weapon of warning that foretold of the danger.

The confrontation was epic and bloody. The incubi and succubi that were impersonating the party vanished into the Ethereal Plane. Batu rained down bolts of fire onto the party from his flying vantage point, and the giant plant (identified as a corpse flower by Cal) looked to be already injured but still proved more than capable of dealing out large amounts of damage by knocking Thane unconscious. The plant carried corpses within it, and used them to both heal its wounds and to create zombies. Soon after the fight began, several goat-headed fiends revealed themselves from beneath the foliage and sprung up to attack the party with claw and poisonous tail alike.

Caloren climbed a vine to get into a sniping position and was followed by a goat-headed fiend. He climbed higher, and then cut the vine below him with a dagger. He then did a rad BOTW-style archery shot at Batu while he fell to the ground, and acrobatics-checked well enough to take half damage from the fall. Sick. Thane cast a minor illusion business card to protect himself, and it confused both the goat-headed creatures and Batu into not attacking him. The glint from his wall (and the hex he cast on Batu) prevented him from finding Cal, allowing the rogue to deal massive damage at range. Vine-like creatures literally came out of the woodwork to attempt to steal the player’s weapons. Wykeera cast a moonbeam spell that chased Batu around the arena, dealing damage as it went. Hagar got incapacitated the first round by the corpse flower and then got his hammer stolen in the second. Midi’s shield of faith aided Thane’s longevity on the battlefield, and her inspiration aided Caloren’s constant damage to Batu.

Zari eventually dealt the killing blow to the corpse flower, ending what she had started when she had cast blight on the creature in the previous session. As they fell, the goat-headed fiends dissolved into a bubbling black ichor when killed, unlike any other creature that they had fought against previously. When he was on the verge of death, Batu cast plane shift to escape. As he was fading into another plane, he screamed “die in the rubble!” Near the end of the fight, another Quespa ran out from behind a vine-covered wall and into the fray, being chased all the while by vine creatures. She was struck and went down, dropping a flute as she did so. Midzaynov immediately recognized this as the flute that she had given her. After a few tense moments, the party brought her back to health.

Once the creatures were vanquished and Quespa secured, the central support column of this auditorium gave out, sealing the fate of the chamber they were in. The party spent a minute trying to figure out how to escape before they attempted to outrun the collapse. They weren’t fast enough; the ceiling of the building began to collapse on them! At the last second, Midzaynov dove on top of Quespa to protect her, and Adi used her divine powers to take the damage that Caloren would have taken from the building falling on him. The entire structure collapsed on the party, dealing catastrophic damage to most party members and creating the most deafening noise they had ever heard.

Midzaynov found herself fading in and out of consciousness and coughing blood onto the prone form of Quespa beneath her. Part of a wooden support beam had embedded itself through her shoulder, limiting her movement. Midi tried to move, but she was pinned. She couldn’t turn her head to look around, and did not know if moving would cause more wood to come collapsing down on her. Holding up the debris from collapsing on the child, she told Quespa to get to the top of the rubble and get help. Quespa scurried through the opening above Midzaynov’s head, heading to the surface.

Hagar’s fortitude made it so that he was mostly unaffected by the building’s collapse. He found himself close to Thane, who had been knocked unconscious and was dangerously unstable. Thane had several wooden stakes impacted into his shoulders and chest. Hagar attempted to give Thane medical attention, but was unsuccessful in stabilizing his condition. He cried out for help, not knowing how to fix his friend. Adi, who was not knocked unconscious, had made herself unstuck from the rubble that pinned her and crawled out of the wreckage to approach Thane. By the time she reached out her hands to heal him, however, his breathing had ceased.

Meanwhile, Caloren, who quickly realized that he wouldn’t be conscious if it was not for his twin sister taking the impact of the building for him, came across the unconscious form of Wykeera. He quickly poured a healing potion down her throat. When she became conscious again, the two of them set out to find the others. Wykeera took the form of a beetle, and Caloren used his finely-attuned senses to make out which parts of the rubble were acceptable to climb through. They eventually came upon the form of Zari, who had a support column wedged in her abdomen. The magic bracers that she wore kept her from bleeding out. Wykeera changed back into a halfling, Caloren gave Zari a healing potion, and they all worked together to free Zari from the debris that was pinning her to the ground. Around this time they heard Hagar’s cry, and started to crawl in that direction.

At the same time, Midzaynov was listening for any sign from Quespa. Thinking on her feet, she reached into her stachel and retrieved her gem of brightness. She sent a beam of light straight into the air as a signal to those who might be looking for her. A few moments later, she heard Quespa asking someone for help. That person responded in a sinister voice that sounded like sandpaper: “don’t worry, my dear. I’ll give your friends all the help they need.”

With Caloren’s help showing Zari where to step in order to move quickly, they made it to the area where most of the other party members were crouching. Adi had managed to stop Hagar from pounding on Thane’s chest in an attempt to resuscitate him, spreading blood around the low ceiling of the small hovel of rubble that they now found themselves in. Zari pulled out the necessary diamond-based components and cast revivify on Thane. Nothing seemed to happen. The party was unsure if they had been too late - if it had been longer than a minute since their friend had expired. They began to panic when Thane took a breath, the magic taking its effect.

Hearing the voice above her and fearing the worst, Midzaynov attempted to move her body in spite of the several-foot long piece of debris that had pierced her shoulder and kept her pinned to the ground. She succeeded, and breached the surface of the debris to find Quespa face-to-face with an older human woman in tattered clothes. The woman squinted her eyes at Midzaynov and began to cast a spell. Midzaynov responded by swinging the support beam that was still embedded into her shoulder and hitting the woman square in the jaw, interrupting her magic. She screeched “you bitch!” as a louder voice rang out above the rubble: that of Aldritch Xanroc, who had seen Midzaynov’s magical flare. He brought his greatsword down on the figure of the old woman right as she dissipated out of this plane of existence.

As the party dug themselves out of the rubble, Adi stayed behind for a moment, not wanting to leave without Kembi. A moment later, a fist burst out of the rubble about fifty feet away, and a very angry and very alive Kembi unearthed herself from the rubble. She and Adi ran to each other and embraced. Cal approached them and took a moment to tell Adi about their father, who had become very ill as of late. Adi agreed to leave right away to go see him. Cal told the party that they can rely on his survival skills at any time and that he travels between Yalba and Port Qamsa, helping with caravans.

Aldritch army-carried Midzaynov back with the rest of the party to the House of Champions as the city guard started to sift through the rubble. When the opened the front door and Atka saw them, she assumed a defensive stance, produced a spell scroll from her cloak and screamed “PROVE TO ME THAT YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE RIGHT FUCKING NOW.” As the fire swirled around her arms and her phoenix-fire form began to take effect, the tensions in the chamber seemed to grow with the light of Atka’s flames …
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The Arrival: Expanse
Session 27: Faltering Foundations
The session began right after Anakis al-Fahai attempted to kill Farouk al-Fahai’s during Abdul’s pronouncement, which sent the crowd of thousands into a state of near-riot. In response, Thane, Midzaynov, and Hagar performed a song and dance routine that managed to soothe the audience. Midi performed an epic bagpipe solo as the crowd’s panic mellowed into befuddlement. They wondered: was somebody really almost assassinated? Was the entire pronouncement nothing more than an odd performance piece? Was this all just a strange dream? The crowd was unsure for long enough to take the edge off of their initial alarm, preventing what would have been a much more severe situation. Continuing their performance, Thane did a quick comedy bit while Hagar sang his Thermadorian heart out.

Meanwhile, Raha and Abdul conferred with Wykeera and Zari. The prince blamed himself for his choice to exonerate Farouk al-Fahai. Abdul wished for today to be the day that the city begins their fight against corruption, but Anakis’ assassination attempt on her husband seemed to have ruined their chances. Zari and Wykeera managed to convince Abdul that nothing was ruined yet, and that the people were still waiting for the young prince to speak.

Abdul regained his courage and stepped out onto the balcony, where Thane introduced him to the crowd as a comedian. Abdul told the Janavian people that he was indeed not a comedian, and then reiterated that everything was under control and that he believed that dark magics may have caused Anakis to try to stab Farouk, so stay calm. He managed to assuage the crowd with the help of the F.I.A’s unconventional performance and Midzaynov’s bardic inspiration. Before they left, Thane asked Raha if she could provide invitations to Teoshi’s gala, and she claimed that she would secure some.

The party left the tension of The Furnace to try to gather more information about their enemy, who seemed to constantly be one step ahead of them. In a nearby alleyway, Midzaynov messaged Lyndra to ask for a meeting. After thirty minutes, the punk-styled fey arrived in a shower of pixie dust and inherent glamor. Lyndra informed that the party that she had been so bored waiting for the party to contact her after their experiences in The Palace of Pleasure that she had resorted to playing pranks on the Bloodbroods to entertain herself. Then the party heard “oh my god where did that BEAR come from?” from a few buildings down the block and Lyndra just snickered.

Wykeera offered to trade the platinum she had received from Lyndra in Drasek so many months ago for information about night hags. Lyndra declined, but offered to give the information Wykeera needed if she agreed to take an audience with the Queen of Air and Darkness in the Feywild. Lyndra explained that this audience didn’t have to happen now, but it would need to be sometime soon; part of the problem was that many fey crossings in the desert that used to exist near oases were being destroyed by immensely powerful sandstorms. They would have to find one of the few remaining crossings to make sure that they can cross into the Feywild when the time came. During this exchange, Midi detected strong signs of jealousy coming from Lyndra pointed in Wykeera’s direction. Knowing that time was of the essence, Wykeera accepted.

Lyndra explained that night hags are hags, which was already bad enough. Lyndra also told them that most night hags are remnants of the War of Exiles - an ancient conflict fought in the Feywild centuries ago between the fey courts and an unnamed third faction. Lyndra admitted that those who lost the war were exiled from the Feywild; Wykeera recalled her fey mentor Galene explaining to her that she had been exiled from the Feywild several years ago. Lyndra went on to exposit that night hags are hags who have gained a taste for souls. In other words, they had become fiendish in their exile, and tended to reside in the lower planes. Lyndra warned the party that hags are ancient and cunning. “No offense, but they are much more cunning than you are. If she has it her way, she will defeat you while never having to face you in combat.”

The pixie also warned the party that while night hags prefer to work from the ethereal plane, it is not a very defensible space. Because creatures can walk through walls in the ethereal plane, it is not conducive to a permanent abode. Lyndra suggested that the night hag may have a den somewhere in the material plane where she can hide - perhaps somewhere in the city, even. Lyndra didn’t know how often the night hag’s nightmare power can be used, but she did know that spells such as protection from evil and good and magic circle can break the connection that a night hag has with its victim. As she was leaving, Lyndra asked Zari what her favorite animal was. Zari told her that it was a giraffe, and so Lyndra turned her into a giraffe. The deal made, Lyndra flew off to learn what she could about any remaining fey crossings. Wykeera burned a 4th level spell to undo the effect on Zari.

That night, the 8th of Iazon, the F.I.A returned to the House of Champions to brainstorm. They came up with an elaborate plan to get several small bags and place rocks that are identical in size to the magic stone that they received from Peter so that when they split up for the night, the night hag would not know who could see her. The only question was where the night hag would attempt to influence her next victim. Midi decided to go watch over Heskan. Zari went to go look after her mother. Wykeera, Thane, and Hagar stayed in the House of Champions.

Midi trekked to the Temple of Gavriel late at night and knocked on the large, wooden door. Quespa eventually asked who was there, and had to stand up on a stool to unlock the door when Midi responded. Midi decided Quespa should stay with her while she checked on Heskan, and together they crept upwards through the very tight spiral staircase that led to Heskan’s room on the top floor of the temple. Midzaynov knocked on his bedroom door, but received no response. Midzaynov unsuccessfully tried to pick the lock with a spatula from her disguise kit, but Quespa made surprisingly quick work of the lock.

Meanwhile, Zari visited the Temple of Kielel. She wandered around the temple for a spell, eventually knocking on Hamza’s door: “Don’t you want to see your big sister?” “Noooooooo, it’s laaaaaate, Zari. Mom’s either upstairs or in the basement.” Zari then knocked loudly on the door that led to her parent’s bedroom. Her father answered, and explained that her mother was sleeping in their bed tonight instead of the basement for the first time in a long time. Apparently, Tulsi opening up about her nightmares the previous day to the F.I.A had helped her to talk to Palor. Not only were the two of them on better terms, but Tulsi had started heading in a more stable direction. Relieved, Zari sat in a chair by her parents’ bedside and waited for the night hag to strike. Wykeera, Hagar, and Thane stayed in the House of Champions for the night. Hagar and Thane engaged in Tactical SpooningTM. Wykeera resolved to stay up the whole night to catch the night hag in the act of nightmare haunting her companions.

Midzaynov opened the door to Heskan’s room and found that the space had been decorated in excess. Gold prayer beads, lavish tapestries, and a collection of fine silk robes lined the space of the musty attic. A large bay window framed Heskan’s writing as he slept. The dragonborn priest was muttering the name “Thava” over and over again as sweat ran down his face. He was in the midst of a night terror. Midzaynov crept towards the bed and hoisted Quespa onto her back. She cast protection from evil and good on Heskan, and his writhing ceased. For the first time ever, the F.I.A had proof that a night hag was the cause of the nightmares and corruption that targeted the Yalban clergy. The hunt was officially on.

Midzyanov wasted no time before she messaged Wykeera of what had happened. The dragonborn made a simple cloth backpack for Quespa, swung the sleepy young girl onto her back, and went to visit Zari. Once she had arrived at the temple, Midi told Zari of what had happened, and the two of them slept in the Temple of Kielel. Before they fell asleep, Quespa woke up for a moment, said “dreams are weird,” and fell back asleep.

Zari and Midi went back to the House of Champions in the early morning with Quespa. Over breakfast, they talked about their theories about what was going on with the clergy. They wondered what the pattern was with the clergy falling to sin and temptation. They remembered that Barakas al-Bay cheated on his wife, Farouk al-Fahai killed his son, Tulsi Miza seemed to be obsessive over Zari’s safety, and Kimbatuul Heskan had excessive belongings in his room. They speculated if the night hag and Batu were trying to destroy Yalba’s faith in the clergy to cause chaos and cause “the streets to run red with blood,” maybe they were trying to corrupt what made the clergy good in the first place. There seemed to be a correlation between how the clergy were publicly disparaged and their set of values. Zari recalled that about a year ago, there were smaller incidents related to the clergy that seemed inconsequential at the time. The Surian church quietly shuttered their free music program, and their leader disappeared soon after. The head priest of the church of Gano had a fire that caused some crops to be lost, and a day later the old halfling was found dead. People had assumed that the halfling had died of old age and that the head Surian priest had left the city due to shame; however, considering the current circumstances, it would appear that it may have been more than a coincidence.

At this point, Quespa woke up from her sleep on Midzaynov’s back. She greeted the party, and then Midzaynov asked if she had school. Shocked, Quespa claimed that she did, and she ran off towards the Temple of Kielel; Thane and Midzaynov followed. When they arrived, Quespa snatched her things and left again for The Atheneum. While Midi and Thane saw Quespa go, Heskan came down the staircase. They had a tense conversation in which Midi brought up the excess that she found in his room the previous night. She also told Heskan that he was being targeted by a night hag and to be careful. The conversation quickly turned south. Heskan became defensive about Midzaynov bringing up his expensive belongings, and at one point screamed “who are you to judge me?!”. Thane told HeskanMidi’s been learning from you. So if she thinks that something is wrong, it must have been on your hands.” Heskan told the adventurers that they needed to leave, or he would call the guards. Midi told Heskan that she hoped that the light of Gavriel would shine on him, and they left.

Meanwhile, back at the House of Champions, Hagar recalled that Thava, the name Heskan was muttering during his nightmare, was the name of the Matriarch of Kel. He also remembered that Heskan and Thava were siblings. Midi and Thane returned to the House of Champions to discover that there were several notes and small gifts addressed to the F.I.A for saving prince Abdul. Most of them were of heartfelt thanks, but one note read the following:


Meet me at Dashul Coffeehouse at the Diamond Bazaar this afternoon. For every day you delay, I will kill ten people.

An enemy.”

The party resolved to visit this stranger later in the day, and set off on individual errands in the meantime. Wykeera, getting no sleep the previous night, decided to rest her eyes until their meeting with their new “enemy.” Zari went to warn other priests of the impending danger of the night hag and realized that there were very few influential clergy members left besides Heskan and Tulsi. The other priests who were left did not have as much influence as to be of much consequence; in other words, it seemed that they were less likely to be targeted by the night hag. Zari spent some time conversing with Abad - the head priest of the church of Paha, who is a huge stoner. They shared oousad as Zari talked. He was very chill. And also super hot? Zari also warned Abdul and Raha what they had learned about the night hag, and they promised to be on their guard.

Hagar took a less subtle approach to diplomacy. He went to visit Heskan by flying up to his bay window and knocking when he saw Heskan inside. Heskan closed the blinds, and Hagar waited exactly four seconds before kicking in the window, scattering broken glass everywhere. Hagar wanted to talk to Heskan, but his exhaustion from saving Bana-Kye’s life and his aggressive tactics made the priest unpliable. Heskan fled the temple, leaving Hagar inside.

Thane went to retrieve Atka from Moroden’s domain, perhaps smelling oousad from Zari’s meeting with Abad as he passed into the Plane of Elemental Air. Moroden asked Thane about his findings in The Atheneum, and was curious as to why Thane hadn’t taken the sphinx’s trial yet. Thane told Moroden that he might come back in a time with Merrick Gerrickstan, Atka, and a few others once their powers had developed a bit more. Thane didn’t want to take the F.I.A with him. Moroden said that Thane’s path to godhood was his to choose, but waiting for Merrick and Atka to be ready enough to join him may take a long time. Before Thane left, Moroden stressed that he didn’t want Thane to die. On their way back to the House of Champions, Atka told Thane how impressed she was with both Moroden and his slaves. Well, servants. Thane said that Atka wasn’t a servant or a slave, and was free to do what she wanted for the rest of her life. Atka smiled, and the two of them returned home.

Midzaynov went to The Atheneum to tell Quespa’s teacher to tell Quespa to come to the House of Champions after school. The teacher was starstruck upon seeing a real life hero in her midst, and agreed. Meanwhile, Wykeera was sleeping in the House of Champions. She had a nightmare that she was the sandstorm that killed her entire family, and that she had violent urges that led her to do so. While the party were traveled through the city as a group, they found that they were easily recognizable. Seemingly overnight, the F.I.A had gained celebrity status in Yalba for saving the crown prince. Collecting themselves from their various errands, the F.I.A set out around in the early afternoon to the Dashul Coffeehouse.

It did not take long for Midzaynov to see the person who had summoned them to the coffeehouse, as he was the only one who wasn’t staring agog at the party as they passed. The party approached a human man with a strong jaw, tight haircut and bright blue eyes. He wore a purple and red tunic and loose-fitting slacks. He asked the party to sit, and told them that he liked to come here to the open space and people watch. The man told them the he likes to imagine what people are afraid of. At this point, Thane asked him what he believed his greatest fear was. The man said that Thane tried too hard. Hagar then asked the man the same question, and he said that Hagar was afraid of disappointing his father. Thane began to say that it was a generic fear, and then man began to go into more detail about never receiving love from his father or his brother. Hagar told him to shut his mouth, and the man responded “you are the one who asked.”

The man casually informed the party that his name was Kilvan, and that he was an incubus. He explained that he needed to have a frank conversation about their antagonism with the night hag, and that any further duplicity at this point was stupid. Kilvan told the party that his group of fiends was smarter, stronger, and more ruthless than the F.I.A., and that any further resistance against them was futile. Hagar asked Kilvan if he specified night hag or night hag(s), and Kilvan narrowed his gaze and specified that yes, he meant one night hag. Hagar also asked why the F.I.A shouldn’t just kill him right then and there, and he said that he would simply disappear into the ether. Kilvan offered to let the party leave the city. Midzaynov pressed Kilvan that he would not offer to let them leave if he was not afraid of them, and he denied the claim. Kilvan admitted that following the party around was simply a chore, and he would rather not deal with it. Midzaynov used her divine sense to determine that Kilvan was, indeed, an incubus. Kilvan explained that incubi lie, mislead, and communicate, and that those things were simply his job. Kilvan then asked “knowing everything that you know about us, our power, and our organization … what do you think we would do to accomplish our goals?”
Suddenly, screams rang out from the nearby crowd. The party took note of Yalban citizens sprinting away from the northern part of the city. The party assumed an offensive stance against Kilvan, but he was prepared. The fiend began to disappear into the ethereal plane. As he vanished, he cackled: “Wykeera, I don’t know your greatest fear. Of all of the people I’ve followed, you are by far the least interesting. You appear to have no thoughts, ambitions, or opinions that are your own. The only difference between you and the livestock that you eat is that at least you have a soul that I can claim for my own. Now, I’m off to go kill a pixie.” Midzaynov messaged Lyndra that she had an incubus on her tail; she messaged back “I’ve got it handled.”

The party ran towards the source of the screaming and eventually came across The Atheneum. They watched as part of the old botany wing on The Atheneum’s campus collapsed due to some unseen force from within. In this moment, Midzaynov had a dreadful realization: this was the building that Quespa was having classes in today. Midi messaged Quespa and asked her if she was okay and where she was. Quespa responded that she was in great danger, and that she was in the very center of the building in the auditorium, where the attack originated. After a quick conversation with a cowardly guard and a casting of fly from Thane, the party rushed into the slowly-crumbling structure.

The F.I.A entered the building and attempted to run right through the atrium to the next hallway. Before they could make it all the way through, however, they were ambushed by two goat-headed fiends that smelled of rotting meat. These creatures had slender frames, tails that dripped with venom, and an incredible ability to leap. The party defeated the creatures, but not before one of them stuck Wykeera with its tail, causing her face to immediately sprout several pus-filled sores. Hagar beat the creatures back with his hammer, Midi cast divine favor and smote the fiends, Zari used her spiritual weapon, Wykeera used produce flame, and Thane destroyed the two beings with a twinned chromatic orb. Once the dust settled, Wykeera cast a lesser restoration on herself, curing the fiendish disease in an instant.

The beings defeated, the party pressed on into a long hallway with debris blocking their path. As they proceeded, the stench of plant and animal decay became increasingly acrid. They decided to enter a classroom in the hopes that its exit would let them circumvent the rubble that lay in front of them. When they arrived in the chamber, they saw Quespa helping a human man who was trying to lift a heavy support column that had fallen on his legs. The party helped to remove the beam, and Quespa told the party that she had heard the fields talking about a magic ring that the party carried. She wanted to warn the party, so she asked where it was. When the party told her that they didn’t have it, she asked “you don’t have it?”. In response, Thane immediately took Quespa and attempted to fly her out of the building; however, the side containing the front entrance had collapsed, preventing any escape from that direction. The party pushed further inward, noting that there were lush vines growing and then dying in rapid succession that seemed to emanate from further into the building. Following a hunch, Zari cast a blight spell on a live vine, and heard a terrible screech coming from the center of the building.

Pressing forward, the party came across what looked like an office space. The old botanical wing was a place where students could learn about fauna from different climes. To their left, Wykeera noticed a room titled “Herbalism Research” with two creatures in it that looked like the ones they had fought previously. She also saw a crate that was labeled “Potions.” The party had the choice to fight the creatures to secure the crate, or to move on. The party was stealthy enough that they didn’t alert the creatures to their presence. While they were deliberating, Hagar noticed a large oval-shaped scorch mark on the ground with four darker markings spaced near the edge of the long side of it. The scorch marks were also on the ceiling. The party didn’t know what to make of the markings; they speculated that it might have been the blast that destroyed part of the building, but the room itself seemed mostly intact. The party resolved to fight the creatures and secure the potions in the crate as unseen figures moved in the dark …
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It has been two moons since...the incident. How did I...make such an elementary mistake. How did I...lead my marines into an ambush during my first command. How did I...walk out of the abyss...carrying only Rygar. Who may yet die of his injuries. longer am I fit to carry the proud banner of the Marine legions. May I redeem myself when I accompany the Emissary to the humans.

The sea is my solace -- and the land my destiny.
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Tried to take better notes. NoNamme says I am terrible with my journal entries.
Statues in the room were for a different goddess (Lissala). Through evaluation, we discovered that the statues were altered by someone. The sphinx does not appear to be modified. We think the sphinx is related to the land of leng (crawling chaos).

Cinderland checked the double doors and they are not trapped. So Cinderland opens the door! It opens up to a hexagonal room with several black mental doors. There is a pit in the middle of the room. Sounds like a whale floundering in water are coming from the pit. One smashed to rubble. We enter the room, we walk around the corner and try to hug the wall. A large worm type creature appears from the pit!!! We decide to leave and regroup. We find out it is a Baole. It is an unintelligent worm and it can swallow things whole. Not immune to electricity. We find out by peering back in, he can spew slime 40 feet! Need to make sure we spread out when we attack him.
Slime turns into tough terrain. While thinking on how to engage the worm, Cinderland finds a secret door. We open it and find a goul type creature in a room of mummies. His name is Morcorft. He commented about a floating skull monster and a blue lizard. Morcorft said he was of leng. We search the room with Morcorft. Morcoft asked for our help in exchange for information. We lock ourselves in the secret room and rest apart from Morcoft.
The next morning, Morcoft described how the blue lizard used the portal. We figure out the floating skull is a demi lich. But it will not attach as long as you do not mess with its treasure. It has spell resistance, but holy smite and shatter work best.

The party buffs up, gets communal air walk (so we do not disturb the Baole) and head to the room that Morcoft first saw the lizard in. We have vanish running and quick move to the door across the room. There is a sign on the door that is in a language I don’t understand. No Namee says it reads whispering stone sanctum. In the room there is a platform with a stone floating. There is a gap in the floating stone, we think the gem powered this room. We go to another set of doors. No Name says it is a power supply room. We open the door (last round of our vanish). There are blue/green crystals that bounce energy to a larger crystal. After the door opens, the party has to make fortitude save as magical energy pinches our skin. There are chucks of blue crystal lying on the floor. The chunks appear to be a part of the large crystal in the room. Luddite says a dragon claw did the damage. No Namee realizes this is abysium. The room is causing us to lose CON!

Luddite summons a horse and has it run down the hallway the opposite of us. We run the opposite way to the room we have no information on. We did not shut the door to the Abysium Core room. As we traveled around, the worm did not show up. The door says binding chamber. We decide to open the door. There are three statues of mouthless women in this room. The central status is twice as large as the other two. Statues to the left and right have platers that have blue/gray smoke. We go into the room and shut the door. We are unsure when the worm will come up and attack the pony when it hears it. Worm attacked pony that was moving around the hallway. The worm went down after two rounds of silence. In the room, two faces start talking to us a Diva and Nalfenshee (demon/devil). The both are requesting our attention.

Handful of dust and small crystals.

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