Champions of the Citadel

Sessions 11-12: Shivyr
"I hunger..."


"Mushu, please, you don't understand, I need to have sex with you," – One of Faelookon's last words before being eaten by a dragon.


When we last left the party: 

 

Having escaped a perilous journey through the Underdark, where they had been captives-on-the-run from the Drow, the party emerged onto the surface at the Northern Rauvin mountains with a newfound purpose. They, themselves, had witnessed the influence and power of the Demon Lords of the Abyss at work in the Underdark, and this great evil threatened everything they held dear about their personal lives on the Sword Coast. Determined to warn the free peoples of the Sword Coast, the party ventured to Citadel Felbarr, where an impromptu council meeting was called by King William Whetstone to discuss what could be done. In attendance were the leaders of some of the more powerful, wide-spread organizations in the region. However, the council was betrayed by the leader of the Arcane Brotherhood, who turned out to be a Lich in disguise named Tsernoth. Tsernoth stole the party's massive stockpile of magical equipment they had garnered from a Storm Giant King they aided in their travels, and kidnapped King William Whetstone. Among the chaos, it was discovered that war had erupted between the Sword Coast and Amn, causing faction leaders to disperse. In the absence of leadership, General Donli Gemheart rose from the rabble, and a plan was concocted: 


  1. The party was to head to Gravenhollow library to learn, if they could, how the Demon Lords arose from the abyss, how many they are, where they are, and how they might be defeated. 
     
  2. The party was to discover the location of the Arcane Hosttower where King William Whetstone was imprisoned by Tsernoth, and what Tsernoth's connection was to Orcus and the Demon Lord presence.

The party were declared Champions of the Citadel, and began their arduous journey westward to the Gravenhollow Library. Along the way, they encountered the aid of surprising newfound allies: a Paladin associate of General Donli, named Jaing, a Yuan-Ti exile named Mushu, and even an ancient Ultroloth, who the party freed from imprisonment in a commandeered airship that they discovered. Sailing across the land in their airship, Shadowier, piloted by their cleric, Captain Linwë, the party made great haste to Gravenhollow. Not even an Ulitharid, hell-bent on warping the party to his will, could stop their progress Westward. But the incessant hardships would only climax as they encountered a Demon Lord face-to-face within the bowels of the library – Graz'zt. In a climactic battle of the ages, the party slew Graz'zt, though three of their own fell in the fight: the Ultroloth, Finder, as well as Alaer and Brad. Thankfully, Brad and Alaer were resurrected by their cleric. Finder, however, was decapitated, and no such fortune befell the creature. The party then gathered about the Gravenhollow Codex, holding aloft the Stonespeaker Crystal, a cipher to decode the information within the transcendent pages of this legendary library. What would they learn? 

From the Gravenhollow Codex, the party learned the following: 

  1. The Demon Lords had been released after the Fall of Tiamat 80 years prior by Aaron – a warlock – and a spawn of Demogorgon, who opened a portal to the Abyss in the Underdark. After the defeat of the Dragon Queen at the hands of the heroes known as – ahemBrothers from Other Mothers, a warlock tried to commandeer the summoning ritual to redirect it to the Abyss, to bring forth Demogorgon. He was nearly successful, and brought a Spawn of the Demon Lord through. However, the ritual was halted by the heroes mid-way, destroying the massive mountain known as the Well of Dragons in the process, and killing two of the heroes. An incompletely formed Demogorgon and the warlock tumbled hundreds of feet to a deep, watery cavern below, where they landed among the debris in a massive pool of water – part of the Underdark water network. Thereafter the warlock, who the party later recognized as Aaron, supplemented a physically feeble Demogorgon with the energies of magical artifacts that he searched for for days within the murky depths of the dark pool. From what the party could tell, he was gathering Dragon Masks, which he shattered in a dark ritual to infuse the Demon Lord with energy. Not quite satisfied, the Demon Lord demanded more sustenance, and Aaron performed another dark ritual using pieces of a broken, stone altar, to bring forth a shimmering, ogre-sized portal. A bearded wizard appeared to stop the pair, and a chaotic battle erupted. In it, Aaron was aged decades beyond his normal lifespan by the wizard's magic, and was nearly killed, but Demogorgon had gained enough power from the interplanar gate to crush the wizard completely. Finally, in one, last ritual of binding, Aaron – now a weathered, old man – sundered the staff with Eldritch magics, completing the connection between the Material Plane and the Abyss. They were not complete, though, as a great, skeletal gargantuan appeared from the gate, clad in black tattered robes and wielding a scythe as big as a giant. Jaing recognized him as Charon, the gatekeeper to the Lower Planes and the guide of the River of Death, Styx.. It appeared to order them to stop in some, unknown tongue, though words soon became blows as a second epic combat erupted. Again, Aaron almost died, and again, the pair won out against the would-be agent of law. The otherworldly creature was decimated by the tentacles of Demogorgon. But as he died, Aaron fell to the ground, clutching his head between his hands and crying in agonizing pain. It was over. The gate was final. A low, earthen growl of a laugh could be heard from Demogorgon's twin, ape-like maws as demons poured through the gate alongside a thick, translucent, green mist, as the laughs of Demogorgon resounded through the caverns. The last images of the weathered warlock were not in a stance of triumph, but in a crumpled heap, curled into a pleaing ball – babbling incoherently before the great Prince of Demons. The party had encountered Aaron before - a man whom they had discovered imprisoned within the Stonefist Brawler's Guild and freed, and who departed down the Darklake to search for Demogorgon, while the party and the other freed slaves ventured from Gracklstugh to Blingdenstone. 
     
  2. There were 13 Demon Lords on the material plane, three of whom have already been defeated. Five exist on the surface, and five in the Underdark. The party learned of the Demon Lord's existences and last known locations. Listed in alphabetical order:

     

    1. Baphomet (Kingdom of Many Arrows, marching South at a fast pace with hundreds of Orcs and Minotaurs).
    2. Dagon (Moonshae Isles, where he was ravaging the piers of Rogarsheim)
    3. Demogorgon (In the Underdark beneath the Undermountain, beneath Waterdeep)
    4. Fraz Urb'luu (Imprisoned in a green emerald gemstone by Graz'zt, which is now in the possession of the King of Citadel Adbar) 
    5. Graz'zt (Defeated)
    6. Jubilex (Neverlight Grove, a place of the Myconids that is over-run with oozes)
    7. Lloth (In Menzoberranzan, being served by many Drow)
    8. Malcanthet (Defeated)
    9. Orcus (Gracklstugh, alongside an army of Undead, including a Red Dracolich and Illithilich) 
    10. "Snake-Snake" (Lord Daria Neverember – in a military camp near the mountains of the capital of Amn) 
    11. The Pale Night (Portal – Underneath the former Well of Dragons)
    12. Yeenoghu (In King Hekaton's floating fortress) 
    13. Zuggtmuoy (Defeated / Banished)

3. Some of the Demon Lords have been defeated before, either by each other or magical artifacts. The party learned that many of the Demon Lords have defeated one another in combat, and using the Stonespeaker Crystal they saw many battles between the Demon Lords, one such battle that took place in the very library they stood between Graz'zt and Malcanthet, wherein the Demon Lord of Deception decapitated the Succubus queen, and rendered her body a disgusting, ground-up play-thing for the mind-controlled orgy that stood before his throne. They had also seen that Orcus, the Demon Lord of Undeath, was defeated once in the province of Vassa by a great Paladin King who used the Book of Righteous Deeds, which then disappeared. The party learned the location of the book to be on the most Northwestern Isle of Tuern, where a great celestial guards it. They learned from the library that the ones who take the book must leave behind a replacement guardian, or else the book vanishes. Similarly, Lloth was once banished from the material plane using the Book of Vile Darkness, which is located on an island in the River Styx, which mitigates the travel between the lower Planes of Existence.

4. The Vonindöd was a metaphorical legend that never truly existed. The party learned, disappointedly, that the Vonindöd, a supposed garguantuan construct built by the giants to fight the Dragons in the thousand year's war, was but a legend; a metaphor for the titanic battle of Dragon Chess between Annam the All-Father, God of Giants, and Garyx, the Ancient Red Dracofiend, that decided the terms of their truce.

Equipped with this new arsenal of knowledge, the party then used Finder's amulet of Teleportation, which Linwë cut from his torso, to teleport to the ship. Once there, they took time to reassess their priorities and determine a plan of action. King Hekaton and Hashtag were still together with them, and King Hekaton insisted rather strongly that they make haste toward his flying fortress, which, as they had seen using the Stonespeaker Crystal, was occupied by Yeenoghu and ~80 gnolls and flinds – Linwë's (and Mielikki's) most hated demon-kin. Hashtag just wanted to fight shit. However, they had a more pressing issue. Two of their companions suffered extensively from exhaustion due to their resurrection, and Faelookon was suffering the effects of a debilitating curse from Wave of Sorrows, the greatsword of Graz'zt. While his minor defects – an obsession with physical wealth and possessions – was removed with a spell from the group's cleric, the Dragonborn found himself unable to sleep. Using a spell of identify on the greatsword from one of the many scrolls they had found in the library, the group determined the nature of this inhibition to be a terrible curse of the weapon – a curse that could only be removed by a Greater Denizen of the Lower Planes, or a Cleric who worships a Demon Lord. Faelookon would be unable to rest… until he participated in interpersonal sexual intercourse… every day… with a different person.

Shadowier set sail – or propeller – to the East, the last known direction of King Hekaton's flying fortress. The first day that passed, the group was confronted on the deck of the airship by a flying cult worshipping the Elemental Prince of Air, who requested collaboration in bringing forth the Elemental pseudodiety. The group refused, a move that the cult met with a curt threat before flying off on their blackened vulture mounts. 

However, things became dire on the second day. On this day, the Shadowier and her crew had the misfortune of drawing the attention of a distantly flying Ancient White Dragon. The beast soared up to meet the airship at break-neck speeds, roaring with might as it turned to address the ship. Before a word – or breath – could be uttered by the Dragon, however, Hashtag leapt upon it, crying out that his moment of glory had – finally – come. It was not to be, though, and Hashtag slipped alongside the scales to grab onto the tail of the beast, only to be flung away as he fell, plummeting through the clouds to the inevitable ground, below. 

The group's exchange with the beast was brief, and very one-sided. It latched on with it's talons to the side of the ship, caring little for the integrity of the thing as it spoke. It demanded subservience in the form of aid to re-take a flying fortress – the same flying fortress that belonged to King Hekaton – as it's new lair. At first, it suggested that the party would be forced to kill King Hekaton, who still laid, unmoving at that moment, on the deck of the ship. Though this turned out to be a ruse, a crude attempt at a joke. The party discussed their options with one another, though they found little opportunity to do so in front of the gargantuan Dragon, who eyed them warily. It devoured one of their Gryphons – that of Alaer – as Linwë found a moment to break away from the rest to adjust the ship, where he was eventually joined by the others to get some time to assess their options. They decided that – with Alaer and Brad still recovering – Fighting was hardly an option, particularly given their lack of Gryphons. While they spoke, however, they heard the crumbling and crunching of wood as the beast tore asunder bits of the ship to begin exploring it's new, temporary "home base". Rushing to the commotion, the party appeared just in time to see the craning neck and body of the beast stretching through holes in the second and third deck floors into the treasure room, where mounds of silver and platinum pieces lay, still strewn about. The clatter of coins could be heard as the creature declared "Ahh… perhaps I needn't require that fortress, after all…" The beast then demanded that Faelookon sing it to sleep as it began a rest for what would be an extremely stressful night for the party. 

That subsequent day, they decided that they would reach a point of do-or-die. First, Faelookon decided he needed to rid himself of his curse. So, desparate, he approached each member of their group in turn, appealing to them to let him "remove his curse". His pleas fell on mostly deaf ears, as few were willing to sacrifice their dignity to that extent. However, both Alaer and Mushu bravely stepped forward, volunteering themselves to be subjected to a few minutes of Draconic Californication in exchange for Faelookon's fighting competency to return. Mushu was the lucky winner, as the pair left to do the slithery slither before Faelookon could finally – for the first time in nearly 72 hours – get some rest. 

He would need it, it seemed. Not long after the scaly sexcapade, Shivyr, the Ancient White, peered it's long, scaled neck down to the lower deck, crawling between the floors of the ship in search of another Gryphon meal. What it did not know, however, is that Linwë and Brad had already dismissed the Gryphons, earlier, realizing that the beasts were ultimately doomed if they stayed with the party. The only Gryphon left was that of Jaing… and Shivyr's maw leapt right for it. But as the creature was clasped between the razor-sharp teeth of the Dragon… it disappeared. As the jaws of the beast snapped shut, Shivyr's sapphire blue eyes widened in surprise… and then fury. It roared a beastial thunder as it leapt upon the closest thing, Jaing. 

Combat then began, whether they liked it or not. The beast bit and tore at everything in sight, slamming it's wings about and crunching much of the deck of the ship. Thankfully, Jaing was able to get away from the beast, Misty Stepping up to the second deck to alert Faelookon. On the lower deck, the rest of the group took their battle positions, while on the uppermost deck, Brad made himself invisible and began sprinting to rejoin his friends. The battle was fierce, and in it many triumphant blows were landed by both sides. Alaer and King Hekaton sundered the flesh of the creature with a blitzkrieg of punches and literal lightning bolts, while Linwë cast clerical magic to both aid his allies and impeed the Dragon. Mushu and Adran struck from behind, lashing out with swords, fangs and – in the Rogue's case – his bow, Taumaril. But something catastrophic happened then, as Faelookon leapt from the upper deck – aiming to land upon the Dragon with a fierce blow – but instead slammed his lower jaw on the deck below, immediately knocking himself into a dizzying spin as he tumbled down to the lower deck, where a propulsion of air from the sheer speed of the ship sent his limp form ragdolling into the beams behind King Hekaton, where he collided and fell before the prone giant with a sickening CRUNCH – unconscious. Jaing followed the barbarian, but Misty Stepped to safe ground, only to see the beast laugh a menancing tremor of chuckles as it bore down on Faelookon… and devoured the unconscious Dragonborn whole. 

The battle only intesified then, Jaing unleasing furious blows upon the beast as the group followed suit. However, they had forgotten the creature's most powerful weapon that Shivyr had yet to unleash… a frigid blast of cold so chilling that only two of them remained – Mushu and Linwë, who called upon his clerical might to save himself. Jaing, unfortunately, was frozen solid by the frigid blast, clasped by the cold hand of death… the second of the companions to die that day. However, Alaer managed to shake the frigid chill from his bones and emerge from a shallow unconsciousness, as they decided, definitively, to abandon the Shadowier, and escape Shivyr's wrath. They had more important things to deal with. Gathering the unconscious group, Linwë held aloft the medallion of Finder and closed his eyes, imagining the sleeping chambers of King Hekaton's flying fortress. It was not a moment too soon, either, as the beast began to lurch forward to snap at the closest unconscious body… but they had all disappeared, gone to the would-be safety of the flying fortress… or so they thought. 

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Sessions 9-10: Graz'zt
"You're about to fight a Demon Lord"


"Enjoy your time with my pets, puppet!"


  • Faelookon arrived on the airship, brought to be reunited with his companions by a great, platinum dragon, which the Barbarian revealed to be his God, Bahamut. Faelookon told of a tragic story of attack by mind flayers, and the slaughter of the party of dwarves he travelled with. The last thing he remembered was spinning through a formless void, watching Bahamut fight with a tentacled being as he and Gwyn watched on, helplessly. Before he realized what was happening, he was being carried in the claws of the great beast, who brought Faelookon to the airship. 
  • Linwe, Alaer and Brad introduced Faelookon to Jaing, Mushu, Finder and Adran… though Faelookon was hesitant to accept the Yuan-Ti and Ultroloth as traveling companions.
  • Linwe increased the speed of Shadoweir, while Finder disappeared. The party later learned that Finder had gone to secure a magical artifact for his "master", Adran. He had stolen the legendary bow, Taulmaril, from the Throne Room of Mithril Hall. 
  • After a day and a half of travel at top speed, the party arrived above Gravenhollow Library. Finder teleported them below, where a plethora of nude, grotesque statues laid surrounded by dangerous runes; magical traps. 
  • They made it through the traps into the Library… where Graz'zt, a Demon Lord, was occupying a massive throne in front of a massive orgy of various races of humanoids.
  • Graz'zt spoke briefly with Brad, and started walking closer to the Bard. He asked Brad to take off his clothes, and Brad complied. Brad panicked, though, and went invisible when Graz'zt got closer. However, the Demon Lord could still see him, and tried to charm Brad. Brad, at the moment frantically trying to get his clothes back on, retaliated with a damaging Eldritch Blast… and battle began.
  • In the ensuing battle, Graz'zt slew Brad in a savage, determined burst of strikes. Blows traded back and forth and eventually the Demon Lord went invisible, all while mocking the various party members. Eventually, Finder figured out that Alaer would be able to use the Library Codex using the Stonespeaker Crystal, and Alaer made a mad dash across the room for the book. Speaking into the codex, Alaer cast a Gate spell, summoning forth King Hekaton.
  • The giant was confused, but immediately took to trying to fight Graz'zt … and Finder. 
  • Graz'zt turned up the heat and targetted Finder with reckless abandon, while Adran summoned his Roc bird. 
  • During the fight, Harshnag was somehow summoned from Agard.
  • The battle raged, and by the end, Graz'zt had decapitated Finder, killed Alaer and Brad, and nearly killed Adran and Jaing, as he took control of the Roc and commanded it to soar with Jaing outside of the planar space contained by the library. However, the persistance of the party was too much for the Demon Lord, as Faelookon landed the final blow, and his body dissolved to dust. 
  • Immediately, Faelookon reached down to grab the giant Greatsword wielded by the Demon Lord, as a confused King Hekaton loomed over the unconscious Jaing.
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Session 8: The Other
"A wise choice. But not a respectable one."


"You will comply. You will serve. You will help me free the Elder Brain."


  • As the giant eagle riders approached, Jaing, Brad and the Ironmaster rode out to meet them. The riders encroached on the fast-moving zeppelin, and Brad and Jaing spun above, encircling to raise before the moving Zeppelin and keep pace with the flying leviathan. The eagles stopped short; and Brad could see that there were a total of ten riders. Four were archers and four clad in heavier gear, bearing crossbows, but one stood apart in his knight-like regalia while another wore a chain mail help that obscured his face entirely, plate armor ribbing his entire body. The most prominent man, his ebon-skin standing out among the pink clouds before a quickly setting sun, called out: "Vessel! Identify yourselves! What manner are you?" A pause, as Jaing, Brad and the Ironmaster paused to briefly consider the words. "Identify yourselves or prepare to be boarded!" Jaing huffed a surprised "shit" as he spun his Gryphon down toward the visiting party, some 150' before the airship. As he soared, he formed a brief plan with Brad, who communicated with him telepathically using the message cantrip – if things went south, Brad could rush forward and give Jaing fog cover. Meanwhile, the Ironmaster took after the Paladin, diving down and westward. Brad began to play a song of strength and might — though the booming voice resounded over the whipping wind and music – "Tell your minstrel to cease the battle music, or face blades and talons!"
  • As Jaing approached the soaring battalion, the cold wind lashed about his face and gear, whipping his hair about. The red, crown-emblazoned tabards of the warriors flapped in the wind… as did the dick of the Ironmaster as he pulled up behind and left of Jaing, his nude form cutting the words from the visitor's mouths before they could even begin. "He's always like this," Jaing explained, answering the unasked question. They discussed, then, as the unnamed knight – who identified himself as a Cleric of Ilmater – demanded answers from Jaing regarding the party's composition, the nature of the airship, and the number of crew. Uneasy from the aggressive questioning, but willing to comply with half-a-dozen ranged weapons laid his way, Jaing answered the questions curtly, but ambiguously. This seemed to pluck at the thin patience of the man, whose bearded, grizzly face drew a grim visage of discontent. "Ye have to the count of 5 to give us permission to board, we have the authority to commandeer this ship on behalf of Lady Daria Neverember, herself, as a strike team of the Lord's Alliance!" Jaing started to argue, but the man loudly and angrily began to count, "One! … Two! … Three! …" Brad, hearing the counting above the wind and sensing what was about to transpire, sent his mount spiraling downward, using the encroaching darkness from the setting sun as cover, "Four! … FIVE! FIRE AT WILL!" The arrows let fly, just before Brad could get there in time to cast his spell. Only two arrows nicked Jaing, leaving superficial damage, while the rest ricocheted off the Paladin's new, black armor with rhythmic tings that could barely be heard above the roar of the westerly wind. 
  • Brad's fog suddenly sprang up, and battle erupted. Gryphons and eagles soared about, arrows flew and spells sang out. Jaing lurched forward and struck at the man's eagle through the fog, but fell from his mount – which had been banished to another plane of existence by the dark-skinned man – and Jaing had just managing to cling to the talon of the great eagle he had struck with a savage blow. One archer's bow snapped, and with the reverse force, he flew back from his mount and plummeted noiselessly through the clouds below to a certain death. Arrows pelted Brad and his gryphon, nearly annihilating the poor bard in a matter of seconds. Sensing that he was nearly surrounded as Jaing hung by a talon, the Ironmaster flying beneath him, Brad sailed quickly and deftly back to the Airship, the assailants hot on his heels. Meanwhile, Jaing swung fruitlessly at the Eagle, but not before he was clawed by the free talon. The pommel of Jaing's blade collided with his forehead as he fell, stunned… thankfully, he fell into the waiting arms of the Ironmaster. 
  • Meanwhile, battle had erupted on the deck of the Airship. The archers shot at Shushar and Linwë, their arrows sailing about the vessel like an obstacle of death. They weren't the only assailants, however, as Adran and Linwe fired back. Alaer launched into the fray and punched at one of them, but as Adran's arrow plummeted into the gut of one of the archers… his form began to change. His corporeal image shuddered and faded, leaving behind a two-meter tall snake! "Yuan-Ti!" Mushu cried out, "I will get this one!" The illusions dropped from the rest, and suddenly the party was neck-in-neck in a savage battle between snake and man. The man joined the ship as battle erupted, twitching and convulsing every so often as he landed, banishing Linwë to another plane of existence. Things started to look dire as Brad's gryphon was savagely slain by one of the beasts, when suddenly…

FWOOP

 

  • A blast of mental energy obliterated many of those who stood on the deck, as the Ironmaster appeared on the Stern-Starboard side of the ship, holding his hand aloft, Jaing cradled – drooping – across the great Black Gryphon that the Ironmaster rode. A few arrows sunk into the beast as Alaer and Linwe – who suddenly reappeared – shook their heads and pondered what had just happened. Shushar lay there, dead, on the deck of the ship, cradling a crushed cranium in his lifeless hands, bluish-green goop squished out from every orifice. Every single Yuan-Ti – and the Cleric – had fallen unconscious as a result of the spell. Their eagle mounts crumpled into lifeless heaps. Each of the party went through the mess, systematically slaughtering the Yuan-Ti as they never woke from their sudden sleep.
  • A few tense moments passed as Jaing – who had re-emerged, sauntered down the deck of the ship, considering what had just transpired. Questions were raised by Linwë and Alaer, to which the Ironmaster responded, simply, "I've gotta bitta hidden powers yer not te be seein!" The group eyed each other, evenly, not fully understanding what had transpired. Meanwhile, Brad rushed updeck to where the prisoner was kept, Finder. "Ah, well…" The Ironmaster said, looking between the staring group among the windy silence. "I guess the jig is up, hey?" And his hand went to his face as he pulled away… a mask. A nine-foot tall mind flayer stood before the party, shirtless, a tattered black robe wrapped open around him as he placed the mask into his pocket.
  • You will comply. The party heard the voice echo throughout each of their heads. "What are you?" Alaer asked, simply. I… am Verrezivox. The echoing, gurgled voice answered in response. Brad emerged then as the being began to explain that he was effectively commandeering the ship, that he had killed the Ironmaster and (as an Intellect Devourer appeared adjacent to where his Gryphon had been flying) the Ironmaster's mount. He said that the party was to allow him to accompany them to Gravenhollow, and then they would venture forth to slay Orcus "together, to free the Elder Brain". Alaer bargained with the creature for a while, as it seemed to take notice of the Invisible Brad, who sauntered about the deck, attempting to sneak past the creature. He lashed out with mental energy and assailed Brad, demanding that Brad be killed as punishment for evading his death at the hands of Verrezivox's "pets"… the intellect devourers. Apparently, the Ulitharid thought it an insult that his most powerful created item be used for such purposes. Thankfully for Brad, however, Alaer talked down the powerful creature, who said only that Brad would be allowed to live if he took off the headband and was watched by an intellect devourer. Complying, but not entirely pleased with this outcome, Brad handed the headband over to Alaer, as a moaning, groaning zombie-like Cleric approached… the Intellect Devourer had taken a husk.
  • Already conspiring to escape this hazardous situation, Brad backed away, and began casting a defensive spell. Sensing the spellcasting, the Ulitharid went on the offence, Immediately blasting Brad with a wave of mental energy similar to the one that rippled across the deck, earlier. The controlled Cleric raised his weapon as he cast a spell, too, but Jaing burst in then, ramming the Ulitharid shoulder-first and tugging at the creature's waist. Jaing roared a might cry to Tempus and hoisted the flailing tentacled creature skyward, then proceeded to powerbomb him off the ship… while he still held the creature's hands fast. For mere seconds, the creature fell, but it's otherworldly strength quickly pushed away the hands of Jaing and savagely lashed out at the Paladin… who misty stepped on board. 
  • Meanwhile, in full-fledged panic, Linwë and Alaer had been conspiring with Adran how to best release Finder. During the confrontation with Brad, Alaer whipped up to where Finder was held and continued the conversation Brad had previously begun with it — a negotiation for his release. Alaer told the others that if Finder was released he promised to help fight the Ulitharid. Not wanting to die that day to a tentacled monstrosity, Linwë stealthily made his way up to the control cabin and gave the command. Little did he know, however, that Alaer had already smashed the intellect devourer to jelly and Jaing had thrown the Ulitharid from the ship… as Finder zoomed up to meet him, whipping past Alaer. 
  • A tense moment of silence passed, as Finder spoke monotonously into Linwë's mind: "What is the acknowledgement in your culture for gratitude?" Linwë stuttered as he contemplated a response… "Uh… we… uh… just say thanks?" 

    "Alright, then… Thanks…" 
     
  • Finder then zoomed down to the lower decks, where the group was collecting themselves after the battle. Making his way immediately to Adran, finder placed a two-fingered hand onto the rogue's surprised shoulder, and telepathically imparted to him "I is grateful. This one is keep promise. Three days. I is not need to kill this one. I is serve this one. One month. One month in service. For… thanks." The mental voice seemed to struggle with that last word. Adran nodded in agreement, and couldn't help but smile as he considered the possibilities of his new… friend. 

 

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Session 7: Finder
"Lady Neverember is Sessessinnekk, Demon Lord of the Yuan-Ti"


"I is on material plane. This one must understand. This one has three days…"


  • After acquiring the airship, the party focused on learning to ride the gryphons, with the help of their new companions, Jaing and the Ironmaster. They learned it with surprising ease; however, Shushar was not so lucky. After about seven days, they had all learned to ride the animals to some degree of competence. 
  •  During that time, the party sought to do many things while on the ship. Jaing spent time working out (he'd had a dose of Storm Giant strength… something that one does not so easily forget). While Linwe (and to a lesser extent, Brad) spent much time in prayer to Mielikki. The group identified what magical items they could, and, using an identify scroll, discerned an unfortunate caveat of the Headband of Intellect. While unattuned to the item, the wearer's mind is open to the Ulitharid whom made the item. This means that the Ulitharid can know the wearer's thoughts, location, and actions, as if the wearer was permanently under a deep spell of scrying and read thoughts. While attuned to the item, however, it provided resistance to psychic damage as well as the abilities to speak telepathically and assault enemies with a psychic attack. A caveat of this, though, was that while attuned to the headband, the wearer could not benefit from any other magical equipment or item, including potions and elixirs. Once this startling revelation had been unearthed, the party seemed markedly unsettled. Mushu and Shushar both claimed that the Oni had bragged of keeping such a creature – an Ulitharid, a highly powerful Mind Flayer – or it's body, in a "stasis collection chamber". They had to decide, then and there, whether to attune to the item and bear the burden of not benefiting from magic, or to bear the risk of opening the wearer's mind to the Ulitharid. As they had all – aside from Jaing – worn the headband in one way or another in the last tenday, the prospect of a highly powerful, telepathic being knowing their deepest thoughts and current location was most unsettling. Eventually, the party decided that the benefits were greater than the potential risks, and Brad the Bard (Faelor) attuned to the Headband.

  • After identifying their magical items and equipment, the party's next priority was to further investigate the ship. Specifically, they wanted to find out how the ship was protected – what were its defences, how could they repair the ballistae and what were the peculiar gems and stones they found in the enclosed "dwarven forge" room, that could apparently contain the power of spells? They found these answers in a book that Linwë had obtained in his new, majestic (and quite foresty) captain's quarters. The log detailed the following: 

On the Ship's speed:

  • The ship has the modes: slow (60'), normal (120') and fast (240'). However, while going fast, the ship cannot steer left or right, and it takes the airship approximately 1 hour to slow down to normal speed, or from normal to slow speed. While moving at a normal speed, the ship takes 1 minute to turn 15 degrees, and thus, side-facing defences are difficult to operate. While moving at a slow pace, however, the ship can maneuver more easily (1 round to turn 15 degrees) and can thus operate all defences.

On the Ship's defences:

  • So long as the ship has a captain, it is surrounded by a Globe of Invulnerability spell. The ship remains vulnerable to physical projectiles, however, and the balloon which contains the magic to keep the shift aloft has a "hull" thickness represented with an AC16 and HP55 every 5 ft squared. The ship remains entirely vulnerable to a Dragon Breath attack. 
  • While the ship has a captain, living beings on the ship must refer to the captain as "Captain", or else take 1 point of lightning damage as the ship shocks them into socially heirarchical submission. 
  • While the ship has a captain, he can – once a month – redecorate the rooms as he sees fit. This includes providing living quarters that are themselves attuned to the residents specified by name and thought of the captain. The ship cannot create or destroy creative artwork, material of knowledge, living material aside from small vegetation and fungi or magic or any material worth more than 50 GP as a functional unit. 

    • The rooms specified and assigned by the captain can only be entered by the assigned individual, or with the assigned individuals permission. Failing to do so results in "consequences", though these were not specified.

On the Ship's offenses:

  • The ship is equipped with 3 ballistae, one of which is broken, the other two, unassembled. The ballistae has a total of 1d12 charges per day and can fire spells: magic missile (level 4; 1 charge), fireball (level 6; 3 charges), lightning bolt (level 8; 6 charges). 
  • The ballistae can also fire Chardalyn stones, which the party learned was the name of the stones they had found in the forge room. The Chardalyn stones have the power to store a single spell, and, when fired, commence the spell on contact. The stones are less powerful than the gems, the colour of which indicate the kind of magic that is best stored inside of them. Casting a spell on the gems of a corresponding colour and type increase the spells level by 1. 
     

  • Among the information that the party recovered from the captain's log were extensive details on the Halruaan Wizard's plans to go to a place called Realmspace. Supposedly, they anticipated a coming "Plague of Spells", and sought to flee to other planes of existence to seek shelter and wait for the plague to end, then returning to Faerun to conquer what remained with their superior abilities and technology. However, the other planes of existence are dangerous, and eventually, the wizards formulated another plan. Serendipitously, they had captured a being of great power from one of these other planes, an Ultraloth. The Ultraloth – who they called Finder – knew a great deal of an extraplanar place called Realmspace. They decided to imprison the Ultraloth on their ship permanently and seek a way to enter Realmspace instead of the other planes while they avoided the spellplague. To do this, they needed many Chardalyn gems and a means to cast the spell – which could only transport one entity per plane of existence. The Halruaans planned to link the ships magically and then separate, each ship heading to a different plane of existence as the spell began, allowing the entire fleet to be whisked away to Realmspace, simultaneously. However, in the captain's last logs, it was clear that while their plan began successfully and all the ships entered the other planes, this ship – now the Shadowier – was unable to make it through the portal to Realmspace, because of the tremendous winds in the Elemental Plane of Air, and the crew were overrun by wind elementals and a Djinn nearly immediately after materializing in the plane. 

 

  • Then, after their time learning Gryphon riding, Adran spoke to the Ultroloth… Finder. Speaking to the imprisoned creature was a hotly debated issue, by which much of the party swore it was better left alone, though Adran and Brad remained curious as to its existence and the potential for the party to make a new – and possibly very powerful – ally. With the protection of Jaing and Brad, Adran stepped forth into the room and spoke to the creature, 1-on-1, telepathically. The creature confirmed much of what the party had already learned from the captain's log – its name, realmspace, its knowledge and the nature of its imprisonment. Expanding upon this, Finder then began to probe the possibility of being released. Adran was tentative to permit this subject, and Finder then began to make some rather bold claims. Finder claimed it was called such because of its ability to track and find artifacts. It used this as its primary point of negotiation; it offered to help Adran find powerful magical artifacts known as the Book of Vile Darkness and the Book of Exalted Deeds. He had even mentioned owning an empire, a legion in his preferred plane of existence that he called "Limbo". While tempted, Adran insisted that he had to first consult his companions before discussing the potential release of Finder. 
  • Returning to the group, Adran communicated the creature's desire for freedom. The party ultimately decided that the risks outweighed the benefits, and that the Ultraloth held too much potential to become another new enemy before being a new friend. With this consul in mind, Adran returned to speak to Finder, again, with the protection of both Brad and Jaing. Telepathically connecting to the being, Adran communicated – very politically – that the release of Finder was possible, though not immediate. Finder seemed obviously perturbed by this, and Adran sensed his closing patience and irritation. "What is a few days more?" Adran proposed, mentally. "This one has one day. One day, to release me. Can call out. Know others. This one does not understand others." Finder responded, his mental gurgle throbbing across Adran's consciousness. "Well, if you're going to speak in ultimatums, I can just leave you here,"  Adran responded, unfathered by the creatures mental frustration. "Besides, if you really had allies, you'd have called them in the last 1200 years. You cannot." The rogue smiled at this, knowing he had the creature trapped. A deep, trembling laugh scattered across Adran's mind then, and he sensed Finder's amusement – "Ahh…" it began, "But this one realizes am now on material plane. This one is cocky. This one is confident. Why help others? This one does not understand – one of this one's others is a traitor, an impostor on this vessel. Detect it. Know it. This one does not. This one can have valuable ally in I." The laugh continued in parallel as the voice scattered from multiple corners in Adran's mind, as if eight Finders were speaking to him from different locations in an octagonal chamber, alternating words. "Maybe I do know," Adran responded. While struck with the information, his visage remained stony and firm. "You can wait a few days. I am not your enemy." The laughter ceased, then. "I is on the material plane. This one must understand. This one has three days. Three days to release I." 
  • Adran departed then, leaving Finder with a hapless, suggestive termination to the mental contact, his mind buzzing with the news that one of the companions aboard the airship was a traitor, an impostor. Brad and Jaing interrogated him briefly about the ongoings in the room, but Mushu and Shushar, too, showed keen interest on what had transpired. Adran brushed them all off, but subtly motioned for Jaing and Brad to follow him to the airship bridge, where Linwë currently piloted the ship alongside Alaer. Once together, Adran revealed the information – though not all of it. He mentioned that a traitor was aboard the ship, and suggested interrogating the others. Agreeing that it was a dire situation, they gathered everyone on Shadowier: themselves as well as Mushu the Yuan-Ti, Shushar the Kua-Toa, and the Ironmaster, the Dwarf Druid who had trained them to ride Gryphons. 
  • They began an interrogation of everyone, asking first Shushar about various aspects of the Underdark, how he met the Oni, and so on. Shushar answered the questions in kind, though admittedly with a naive tinge of innocence. He told the party that during his pilgrimmage in the Underdark, he had witnessed many things. First and foremost, that Blidoolipoop was, too, a Demon Lord named Dagon, and had swam through a channel in the Darklake to the Sea of Swords. Later, he had discovered that the great Lord of Ooze, Jubilex, had defeated Zuggtmuoy in the underdark, and that husks of Fungal men roamed the caverns, oozing toxic black acid that gooped from every shroomy hole in their bodies. Finally, just before he was captured by the Drow and eventually given to the Oni, Shushar learned that another Demon Lord, named Grazzt, had defeated the Demon Lord Malcanthet, Queen of Succubi (Scooby). Then, suddenly, Jaing cast a spell – Circle of Truth – which encompassed everyone. The party had already pre-arranged the trap, and Jaing felt it as Mushu, Shushar and the Ironmaster resisted. Both Mushu and Shushar succame to the power of Tempus, willing the truth from their tongues, though the Ironmaster's will was true to his name – wrought of hard iron and biting dwarvish steel. The Ironmaster cursed at the trick, and roared in fury for being deceived into such a spell. So, too, was Mushu filled with angsty ire. But the attention then turned to him – the Yuan-Ti was assailed with questions from the group. Why did he end up prisoner? How long had he been prisoner? Why did he want to be a wizard and follow the group? Why did he not want to seek his people? In short, Mushu answered all questions with short, honest truths. He had been prisoner of the Oni for the better part of a decade, after failing a mission to infiltrate Citadel Felbarr and kill King William Whetstone, then replacing the king himself using his Yuan-Ti shapeshifting talents. When his mission failed, Mushu realized he could never return to Yuan-Ti society; his life was forefit. He sought no further participation in 'the prophecy', and became disillusioned with the Yuan-Ti panthion and the Yuan-Ti ways as he saw the power of magic from behind the Oni's bars. The Ogre Giant possessed many powerful items, and had met with many powerful creatures. Mushu, too, wanted the power to claim his own destiny, and vigilantly defend his own freedom. Still unsatisfied with these answers, the party pressed him further with direct questions about his intent with the party. Mushu stated flatly that he wanted to help the party, he was an ally and could provide "asssssissssstencccce". When verbally throttled to a breaking point, Mushu diverged some very interesting – and very dangerous – information: The Yuan-Ti demon god-thing Sessessinnekk walked the material plane, and worse, had infiltrated a position of political power. Mushu then told the party that Sessessinnekk had taken the place of Lord Daria Neverember, leader of the Lords Alliance. He divulged that several prominent leaders of the Lords Alliance had been replaced; killed years prior after nearly a decade of observation, or even killed as an infant and replaced throughout their development to seamlessly integrate into the political weave of the Sword Coast. 
  • Reeling from this revelation – that the most prominent political entity of the Sword Coast was a Demon Lord, who had just a tenday prior supposedly declared war on Amn – was not something the party could easily recover from hearing. Though they had to do so quickly, as suddenly, Linwë spotted a dozen figures moving toward the Airship from the West, the setting sun at their backs. Looking into one of the two spyglasses found on the airship, Brad spied out the objects, identifying them as riders atop great eagles. They soared toward the Shadowier at great pace, their chests emblazoned with a logo of a yellow crown before a red circle, ensheathed in yellow. The Lord's Alliance was coming. 

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Session 6: Shadowier
"Beware the the anathema; the plague of spells."


"So we have to call Linwë 'Captain'? OW!"


  • The party explored the airship and found on the 1st floor a prison & a magical ballista. 
  • In the prison was a green-skinned creature with a purple robe and pale, monochromatic eyes. The party didn't enter the prison, but Adran had seen it while silently investigating the room, imprisoned from within a spinning sphere of translucent purple and blue energy that hummed with a low-pitched vibration.

  • Adran found an instruction panel that explained the ship was piloted by an Orb of Control which resided on the top deck toward the front of the ship. Attunement was required to control it.
  • On the second floor, the party found a massive library, the Control Room with the Orb, a slave pen forge for dwarves and some bedrooms and the master bedroom.
  • The party found ballistae which could fire massive bolts equipped with special stones that could contain spells. When not loaded with spells, the ballistae could shoot magic missiles or fireballs a certain number of times per day, so long as the ship was not moving.
  • In the library were the dried corpses of wizards stretched across the floor, buried in the books and parchments that littered the place. When approached, one of them rose and spoke to the party, asking them several questions and riddles, which the party answered, in turn. 

  • Linwë attuned to the orb of control, becoming the captain of the airship, which he redesigned and named "The Shadowier" after the Knight Order of Mielikki that existed long ago in the early years of the god's existence. He learned of everything in the ship and gained the power to redecorate it at his whim once per month. He learned that the prisoner had been kept for 1320 years and 40 days.
  • Brad and Alaer found a journal of a member of the ship. The ship, a Halruaan Skyship, was created to avoid something known as "the Plague of Spells", but the exact nature of this is ambiguous. It seems as though this was some kind of forewarned apocalypse that was to have taken place some hundreds of years ago, and that the Halruaans planned on piloting Airships into different planes of existence for 1000 years before returning to reclaim the desolate, post-apocalpytic Faerun as their own. It was apparent from the journal that, while they retreated to the Elemental Plane of Air, they did not survive long. The log mentioned the prisoner, who is referred to as an "Ultraloth of the Yugoloths".
  • The party accessed the treasury, which was bound by a password – "Beware the anathema; the plague of spells". Inside were mounds of treasure and a few magical items. 
  • The Ironmaster boarded the ship and offered to teach the party to ride gryphons as they piloted the airship to the location of Gravenhollow.
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Champions of the Citadel, Session 5: Erdogan and the Airship
"Send... me... back!"


"You had your chance to surrender, now I will destroy you!" – Brad, destroying Erdogan, the Zephyr Djinn.


  • Once arriving in Rauvin's peak, the Ironmaster brought them to his home – a cave dug into the peak rising above the cloudline, stretching beyond to the starry sky. In the distance, the top of the airship was visible among the clouds, silhouetted slightly by the light of the moon. There, the Ironmaster gave them some food and provisions, while the party brought him up to speed on why they were there, what they were doing and what happened with the Oni. They gave him Donli's Writ of Passage and introduced themselves. He questioned the Wisdom of taking Brad along, while he stood there - dopey – grinning and looking about naively. The Ironmaster even went so far as to say the party should dispatch Brad, and stabbed him, himself. Linwë stopped him, and eventually the party decided it was best that Brad use the Headband of Intellect until he pleases Mielikki to sufficiently restore his own.
  • The Ironmaster decided that Jaing would have to accompany the party, insisting that with such a motley crew, they would need a Paladin such as Jaing with a strong sense of direction and wisdom. 
  • Shushar told the party about how he escaped Slubloodop following the attack of Demogorgon. He said he remained in the city some days after, but "Blidoolipoop" surfaced, and he said his meditations revealed the true name of "Blidoolipoop" as "Dagon", who had swam "to the great sea". Shushar said that he learned many things thereafter, as he continued his endless pilgrimage for knowledge and acceptance of fate. 
  • One of the other prisoners, the Yuan-Ti, introduced himself as Mushu. He talked about the Oni and told the party that the Oni used to work together with an Ulitharid and Beholder, but the Oni somehow defeated the Ulitharid and took his headband, subsequently capturing and enslaving the Beholder in his prison. Mushu implored the party to come with him, as he said his own life would be forfeit among his Yuan-Ti clan, since he failed on his original mission to infiltrate Citadel Felbarr some five years prior. The party was hesitant, at first, but accepted once Mushu said that he would be very useful, and could provide more information. He said his motivation to travel was to find the knowledge or magic that could make him a true Yuan-Ti wizard. Mushu also told the party that the deck of cards they saw the Oni use was the Deck of Many Things, an artifact with ultimate power and small odds of either creating dreams or nightmares from those who draw. He seemed excited about the deck, and urged the party to draw from it, while they discussed Brad's intelligence problem. No one drew from the deck at that time.
  • The third prisoner, a Githyanki, told the party that the Drow wanted to collaborate with the Oni. They offered an allegiance, and wanted to move a small army through the Oni's cave to attack Citadel Felbarr. The Githyanki, who introduced himself as Krak, said that supposedly the Drow were seeking resources for "Lloth's army" in a titanic battle that would inevitably occur between the Drow and the Demon Lord Orcus. Krak was brought down to the Rauvin Valley by the Ironmaster once the party learned this, at his own request.
  • The next morning, the party set out for the airship atop the Gryphons of the Ironmaster. Shushar stayed behind, but Mushu joined them. Once nearly at the airship, great bolts of lightning cracked through the clouds like a whip, lashing at the Gryphons who flipped and rolled to avoid the electric danger. Thankfully, all of the Gryphons (and their riders) made it to the airship relatively unscathed. The Gryphons tossed their riders onto the lower deck of the airship and soared back toward the Ironmaster, falling low beneath the clouds for obstructive cover.
  • Once on the airship, the party engaged in a battle with several Air Elementals that occupied the lower deck. During the battle, Linwë was nearly flung from the airship, but was caught by Brad. Alaer and one of the air elementals summoned allies to fight in the battle – the Ghost of Harshnag, who rose triumphantly as he ascended from his eternal rest in the Giant Afterlife of Ysgard, and a Gnoll, respectively. Hashnag shattered one of the elementals and Linwë banished another, the third being taken down quickly by the party, together, and the Gnoll booted by the Ghost of Harshnag off of the airship altogether. Harshnag then dissipated as the battle ended… the spectral form giving a final sincere battle cry of camaraderie to his living friends before fading into nothingness. "Damn," Adran said, "I really want to go on a quest to resurrect Harshnag, now." The party nodded their agreement.

  • Suddenly then, descending down from the upper level of the airship, a blue huge, shirtless man with a massive turban floated down the stairs. Where his legs would be was a whispy cloud of black and blue. Two smaller air elementals flanked him, appearing in the shape of humanoids clad in full-plate armor as flails dangled from the transparent whispy arms, the chain clicking and rattling menacingly. 
  • The massive blue man bellowed at the party "Why have you summoned me – The Great Erdogan, the Zephyr Djinn? Send me back to my elemental plane! Send me now! Reveal to me the item you used to send me back!" The party hesitated for a moment before Brad started prodding Alaer to reveal the Deck of Many Things. Frantically, the party then tried to persuade the Djinn that the Deck was not responsible, but the headband. However, the Djinn was unperturbed by this trickery, and moved forward to examine the artifact. He then bellowed, "Use it! Use it and send me back from whence I came! USE IT!" And Brad trembled, ever-so-slightly. Looking to the others, he sent them mental messages to devise a quick plan. On the count of three, we jump him. Brad telepathically urged his companions. One… Two… "I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!" The Djinn belowed. "THREE!" Brad shouted, as the deck erupted with scenes of combat.
  • Adran blasted the Djinn from behind with several arrows while Brad fought back at the enraged Djinn with spells. Linwë and Alaer struck out at the Elementals, which retaliated in full, striking Jaing and Brad with the flails, that crackled with lightning energy. Brad fell prone as he was stunned from the blow, and the Djinni moved in menacingly for the killing blow. "Send… me… back!" He shouted, as he placed his hand on Brad's and forced the Bard to draw from the Deck… twice. 

  • Meanwhile, Jaing exploded into action. He roared with angelic might as a sudden aura of burning brightness burst forth from within, taking his sword and shearing straight through the elemental that stood in front of him. The longsword, rippling with radiant might, sheared clear through the plate armor of the thing, as it exploded, bits of charred and red-hot metal scattering about the airship and down to the valley below. But Jaing wasn't yet done, he took the blade, following through completely with the blow, and hurled it, tip-over-hilt, toward the remaining elemental. The creature looked back just in time for the blade to land perfectly in the face of the spectral thing, the sword protruding halfway through the back of the plate helm on the other side. It dissipated instantly, the metal pieces falling to the floor. 
  • The Djinn angrily ripped Brad's hand across the deck, drawing the first card, and then the second. Fighting his condition, though, Brad stood straight and faced the heavily wounded Erdogan, arrows protruding from his back and wounds bleeding down his sides. "You lost your chance to surrender, begone!" Brad shouted, whipping out his citturn and playing a harsh tune as the Djinni vibrated violently, falling apart and dissipating into a sunken pillar of black smoke. 
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CotC Session 5: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire
"I drew the chariot..."


"Why did you pull the thing?! We could have gotten so much loot!"


  • The party valiantly fought two fronts… one against the goblins and Intellect Devoured Brad, from the rear, and the Oni at the front. The Oni, after being slammed by Jaing for the third, blistering time, tried to bargain for a truce to Alaer and the Paladin of Tempus, but to no avail. He then pulled out a dark box, and said "I'll let you draw…" He opened it, and drew a card, then laughed. "I drew the chariot!" He cried, snapping the box shut. A silver "3" appeared on the box front. Cackling maniacally, he then began sprinting away toward his alchemy laboratory.

  • Valiantly, Alaer and Jaing charged after the ogre mage, mortally wounding him. An arrow from Adran clipped the dangerous Ogre Mage, but it was a blast of radiant energy from Linwë that put him down… the Oni was dead. His last words, a rasping, choppy laugh – "I drew the chariot…" Immediately, Alaer tore the headband from the Oni's head, having learned from the hobgoblin outside that it gave the Ogre Mage superior intellect, and ascended to a higher level of understanding, taking in his environment with a sudden rush of intuition and comprehension.
  • The battle wasn't over, however. Intellect Devoured Brad was still striking out at the party, firing spells at Linwë and Adran, who retaliated in full. Eventually, Brad went down hard, the Intellect Devourer emerging from his head, but was quickly  squashed into brain jelly by Alaer. Meanwhile, Hobgoblins emerged from a trapdoor in the Alchemy Laboratory, and attacked Jaing. Behind him, Tukk the Dragonborn and the lone, remaining Drow attacked from a room full of prisoners. Jaing could make out a massive Frost Giant, who was roaring in the Giant tongue, as well as an Ant-Person and a green-skinned individual. Many exotic beings seemed to be locked up, here, and they all cried for freedom, cheering on the party.
  • Alaer grabbed the headband and placed it upon Linwë, who transcended to a level of understanding that he could have only imagined in his wildest dreams. 
  • The Wood Elf cleric of Mielikki returned to the lifeless, unconscious body of Brad – the Intellect Devourer having left his body just seconds prior – and Linwë prayed to Mielikki. His prayers appeared to be answered, as the lifeless body of Brad twitched and came to life… Brad had survived. Though it appeared as though he now had the collective intelligence for a potato… for now.

  • Jaing misty stepped away from the Hobgoblins, who knocked down crates and pulled away the body of the Oni. It seemed as though they were grabbing things from him. They fired crossbow bolts at Adran and Alaer, who retaliated in full. Javelins from Jaing obliterated two of the creatures, as the party pressed onward. Before they could reach the crates, however, the Hobgoblin Warlord shouted "Stop and lay down your weapons, or else we kill the little girl!" The party answered only with projectiles. The Hobgoblin then adopted a grim visage, "Do it!" He shouted savagely to his right, and the party heard a scream, muffled by a slashing tear and gurgling of a young female voice, that slowly drowned into silence. The Drow emerged from the corner, holding the dead corpse of the little girl, her throat slit.
  • Horrified and enraged, but still grimly determined, they engaged the remaining hobgoblin and the Drow, focusing their energy on the Dark Elf. Alaer slammed him down, knocking him prone, and Jaing slashed at him. The death blow came as an arrow from Adran slit the elf's throat, and he fell, dead. Tukk then turned and fled, running to the opposite wall of the prison room, removing three iron bars that held shut the massive iron door. He flung the door open and leapt through, the sound of a wet splash echoing behind him. The Hobgoblin Warlord fled after him, as Jaing flung Javelins and Adran fired arrows, but they missed. As they came in full view of the room that their remaining enemies had run into, they saw a massive iron ball suspended by six chains from the wall, above a murky pool of water. Tukk had already disappeared, but the Hobgoblin moved to a point behind the suspended, solid-iron prison, and leapt into the darkness at an open passageway, beyond the far edge of the spherical chamber. 
  • Gathering themselves, the party then approached the prisoners. They saw the following persons, clad in nothing but loincloth or tattered robes:

    • A red Tiefling woman, looking thin and frail.
    • An ant-person, wearing no clothes, with four arms and a pair of legs, as well as two massive compound eyes
    • A lizardfolk male, also wearing no clothes, who gnawed at the bars.
    • A bullywug male, who just sat and stared, plantively.
    • Shushar the Kua-Toa, their former companion, who sat, cross-legged, medidatively. 
    • A massive Frost Giant, who roared with rage, and had tears streaming down his face and beard, rattling the bars and screaming violent curses of despair. 
    • A pale-skinned man with snakes for arms and bright yellow eyes, muscles rippling across his body.
  • Jaing spoke to the Frost Giant, who begged the party to "save the little girl". Solemnly, Jaing simply told the gargantuan man that the girl was dead; beyond saving. He then began to look for a way to open the cages, as the prisoners shouted cries of protest. LinwÄ“ moved past him to talk to Shushar, who insisted that he was alright and everything was fine. 
  • Meanwhile, Alaer investigated the laboratory, scooping up the potions and notes into the haversack, as well as the corpse of the little girl, mentioning to the party that they should return the body to the father. He got Adran to check for traps and devices, before discovering that part of the wall was an illusion. He went through the wall and found the body of the Oni, partly looted, but still having the black box – now engraved with a silver number "3" – and the wand the Oni had used on them to cast lightning bolts. 
  • He went down the trap door, and saw several chests and bookshelves, as well as a massive chair, above which an elaborate lever and chain system hung. The handle for the largest chain had a black rune engraved upon it. 
  • Linwë walked into the room with the prisoners, and asked Shushar how to open the cages. Shushar mentioned that the Oni used some kind of a device that was either in or beyond his laboratory. This was supported by the Tiefling woman, and the pair nodded in agreement that the cages could be controlled collectively or individually. Alaer, hearing the tail end of this conversation, then told Linwë about the chain and lever system underneath the trapdoor.
  • Alaer asked Linwë to investigate the lever and chain, while he continued to search through the laboratory. The rest of the party joined him, then, Brad pestering Linwë now and then, going between the members of the party muttering simple words and phrases, strumming his guitar absently and casting small spells to cure his wounds. 
  • The group discussed what to do about the cages, seeming at a loss for solutions. Frustrated with the lack of action while prisoners remained behind bars, Jaing placed his hand on the runic lever and pulled… then hearing a voice in his head. The voice seemed to ask a question, but not in a language the Paladin understood. It seemed to be prompting a "yes" or "no" answer, to which Jaing intuitively responded, "yes".

 

  • The jail cells suddenly fell open, but above the clamor of excitement and happiness from the prisoners was a cacophonous "splash" and the sound of snapping chains, coming from the spherical room beyond. The iron ball had fallen from the chains, landing firmly in the water and springing open, bits and pieces of the ball falling to the side. Emerging from it was a Beholder… ravenous and raging, his eyestalks whipping about as he boomed "Who released me?! Let me out!!" 
  • A moment of tense silence passed, as Alaer looked onward and saw the beast. He cursed under his breath and steadied himself before shouting back, "We killed the Oni, the one who imprisoned you."
  • "Let me out!!!" The beholder shouted, "So I can kill the rest of you!" 
  • Jaing, hearing this, tried to call out "The exit is the other way!" And the Beholder began blasting about the spherical room with rays from his eyestalks. The Lizardfolk and Bullywug tried frantically to close the door, but failed, being obliterated by two of the rays. The Frost Giant tried, too, but was hit by a third, which caused him to run, crying in fear. "Time to leave!" Alaer shouted down the trap door.
  • Everyone began a mad sprint out of the cave, Linwë giving pigmywort mushrooms to the Frost Giant so he could shrink and fit down the passages. They stopped at the chest, which they knew held Dawnbringer, but was heavily trapped, suspended above a sphere of annihilation. Sounds of blasting stone and roaring rage from the beyolder sounded behind them, as Adran frantically set to work on the traps, defusing one that led to a collapsing ceiling trap. The party urged him on, but at a certain moment his tools slipped and a "snap" was heard. The trapdoor underneath the chest gave way, and while Jaing leapt to try to catch it, it slipped and fell into the sphere of utter blackness, disintegrating into nothingness. "Fuck! TIME TO LEAVE!" Alaer shouted, again. "YEP!" Linwë agreed. Alaer frantically grabbed everything that wasn't nailed down in the room, Jaing grabbing a chest at the foot of the bed, and they headed out. They leapt over the pit trap, in which the Antman and Tiefling had fallen, and dodged arrows from the surviving blue goblins. Once in the tunnel beyond, nearly at the waterfall, they frantically discussed what they should do about the coming Beholder. The creature encroached, and rays then shot out, obliterating one of the prisoners – the Tiefling – and striking the Frost Giant, who howled in pain. Jaing tried to heal the man, but his magic had no effect. 
  • The Frost Giant then turned to the party and said "Go! This foe is beyond any of you. You will die if you fight. I will fight!"
  • "Flee with us!" Alaer said, "Yes!" Adran agreed, "We can run!" 
  • "No, he will catch us." The Frost Giant insisted. "Give me big mushrooms and potion. I will fight him! Die with honor! For the glory and little girl!" 
  • "Friend, please give us your name, so we can honor your memory" Alaer implored.
  • "I AM HARSHNAAAAAG!" The Frost Giant cried as he leapt back into the cave and engaged the Beholder. Alaer looked to the rest of the party, "Hashtag. Okay, hashtag. #NeverForget." The party dashed onward, and Jaing called for help, his voice echoing through the valley. Not long after, hearing the cries of pain from their new companion, "Hashtag", Gryphons rode down and scooped up the survivors: The party, the snake-man and Shushar, and soared toward Rauvin's peak. Atop the lead Gryphon - a black-feathered one – rode a naked, ebon-skinned Dwarf. The Ironmaster. He cried out "What happened?" and they filled him in, briefly. As they broke the cloud cover, then, they saw a surreal sight that stole the words from their mouths… a massive airship 400 feet long soaring above the mountains. 

  • "THAT just appeared out of nowhere… just moments ago" The Ironmaster said in his thickly-accented voice. "First thing ye need te be doing in the morning… is checking that out!"
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CotC Session 4: The Brain of the Turtle Dragon
"I stick my tongue out, gently..."


"Can I flip through the murder-hole and end up in the cave?" – Brad


  • While assessing the situation after the battle in front of the cave, a stranger flew down on a black Gryphon to meet the party. While they assumed him to be the Ironmaster, he introduced himself as Jaing, a Paladin who was living with the Ironmaster and who offered his aid to the party. 
  • Brad and Adran found and defused a trap in the westernmost cave, where the suspicious treasure laid. 
  • The party used the sending stone to scry Dawnbringer, and saw the Oni… scrying them. The creature laughed with self-awareness, apparently realizing what was going on, and took Dawnbringer into a room with a massive bed. He placed Dawnbringer into a dark chest, and called out: "Beneath this Chest is a sphere of annihilation… try to take it, and everything inside will be destroyed! Surrender! Your retribution is futile!". The party hung up.
  • LinwÄ“ sent a message to Shushar using the sending spell, learning that the Oni had many other prisoners. Shushar warned the party that the Oni was very dangerous, and recommended they check the hut on the other side of the river. Linwë relayed this information to the rest of the party, and Alaer, Brad and Jaing made their way to the hut to investigate. They noticed something glowing bright blue underneath the northwestern corner of the hut, beneath a floorboard. Trembling with anxious excitement, Brad asked Alaer and Jaing to help him remove the floorboard adjacent to the one they noticed. Underneath that was only mud. Then, asking again for the help of Jaing (Alaer stood 20 feet away, now, understandably nervous from Brad's insistence on their being a dangerous trap underneath the floorboard) Brad removed the floorboard, which was loose entirely, falling back from the unexpected leniency meeting his tug. Once returning to his knees, Brad looked down upon two potions that shimmered in the crevasse. One was pitch black, and had a spinning pink nebulae inside, while blue lightning crackled, licking the inside of the spherical vial. The second was full of an energetic blue substance that glowed bright as a noontime sun. They were labeled, but the labels were unreadable in front of the glowing liquids. Alaer and Jaing looked on as Brad trembled with excitement, removing some common clothes from his bag and scooping up the vials. He climbed to his knees, then, and scratched up at his face. He noticed, then, that scales started to coat his body. Red, square scales. His fingers elongated into claws and his mouth stretched to form a beak, as his hair disappeared into his head. He dropped the bundle of potions in panic, and reached to his backpack… which was now turning into a spiked, red shell. Jaing, scared that his new companion would continue to grow and squash him and the monk against the wooden walls of the hut, picked up the squealing Brad and hauled him outside to the riverbank in front of the waterfall. Alaer picked up the dropped potions and headed outside, where the entire party watched as Brad transformed… growing and growing… and growing… and growing… Brad transformed… into a gargantuan, red Turtle Dragon, taller than the waterfall, itself, and so wide that he nearly took up the entire corner of the valley. 

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  • Gurgling sounds came from Brad the Turtle Dragon as he floundered about, adjusting to his newfound form. He desperately tried to call out to his friends, but the words came out as either harsh chopping sounds of Draconic or the blubbing gurgles of an aquatic language. His friends doubled up in laughter, despite their dangerous circumstances. They even heard laughing from above, as the head of the Oni appeared in the Bunker, looking down at Turtle Brad. He wasn't laughing long, though, as Brad slammed his head into the waterfall cave. Rocks crumbled and cracked, colliding into the entrance. Linwë then realized that Turtle Brad would never fit in the cave, and could prevent them from entering it, at all. Digging into his pack, he protruded an item the party had acquired long ago… in Gracklstugh. He took out a Pigmy Mushroom – those which caused a person to shrink in size – and placed it in front of Turtle Brad. Realizing what was happening, Turtle Brad – gently – stuck out his tongue, and consumed the mushroom. Immediately, he shrunk down to 2/3 of his original size (still 5x the size of any other member of his party) and began to dig away the rubble in front of the waterfall. Once completed, Turtle Brad gurgled out some orders to his friends and headed into the cave – COWABUNGA!

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  • Brad tapped his turtle claw on the iron door at the end of the hallway, and then, suddenly, the hall filled with the stench of Kerosene, then fire, as a liquid was injected into the room from all sides. It barely ticked Brad, however, even though the raging inferno seemed like an oven to his friends on the outside. Goblins shot poisoned arrows through narrow slits at Turtle Brad, as he retalliated with a steamy breath through one of the murder-holes, boiling six of the creatures alive. The reign of Turtle Brad was short-lived, though, as the eye hole of the Iron Door slid open, and the Oni read a spell from a scroll the other side… and Brad turned back to his normal self! Though he was now 1/4 of his original size… 
  • Frantic and spinning about the burning chamber, Brad flipped about, hopping into and squeezing through one of the small murder holes to the chamber beyond… the very same chamber where he boiled six blue goblins alive. He then went invisible, hearing a rush of activity down the cave where he entered. Meanwhile, his friends on the other side searched in vain for an alternative way of entry into the cave, and found nothing.
  • Goblins stormed into the room where Brad was, and he thought to blow them away with some Alchemist's Fire. Carefully, he tried to lay the explosive vial next to a Goblin, but it fell with a tap against the toe of the creature. Confused, the Goblins scoured the room, and Brad then began to shoot Eldritch Blasts at them, firing wide. Two arrows found their way into his invisible abdomen and four missed, and he then cast a fog cloud spell from his citturn. He began to make his escape, when suddenly a brain with legs rounded the corner… an intellect devourer.
  • Brad's friends, hearing the sound of combat, then hastily concocted a plan that consisted of charging the door to try to save their friend. On they went, into the fog cloud and to the foot of the door. Jaing then took one of the potions – a potion of storm giant strength – from Alaer, and chugged it. Instantly, everything turned invisible. Jaing disappeared and his friends held hands, unsure of what was going on.
  • Meanwhile, Brad felt his mind get assaulted by the intellect devourer, and he tried to make his escape. Unfortunately, though, the creature sensed his presence and bombarded Brad's brain with overwhelming energy… knocking the poor bard into catatonia. While his friends battered at the door, Adran unlocking the big lock at the bottom and Jaing storming through, Brad felt an uneasy, slippery shlunk as the intellect devourer entered his mind… and began to eat away his brain. Helpless and unable to move or speak, Brad's spirit did all it could … prayed to Mielikki. 
  • Jaing burst through the iron door, sending it sailing onward to smash into a waiting blue goblin beyond, as his friends charged behind him. A pit trap laid beyond the door and Jaing fell in, landing painfully on the spikes below as an arrow from one of the waiting goblins struck him in the side. He was able to pick himself up, though, and the friends charged onward in the cave. They reached a room with a massive four-poster bed… and the Oni attacked.
  • Donning black plate mail with a shield emblazoned with Mielikki's symbol, and a black sword adorned with nine skulls, the Oni roared with glee and shot out a lightning bolt from a wand, as he began to trade blows with Jaing and Alaer. Linwë tried to cast a spell at the Oni, but a spinning stone around his head flashed a red light, somehow negating the spell. The Oni laughed, then, and blasted the party with a cone of cold energy. Adran got out a wicked shot with his bow before he went down, hard, and Jaing called out a curse of vengeance as he struck the Oni with a vicious blow. Alaer moved with lightning fast reflexes, snapping the stone out of the sky and slamming it into his head, as it then began to rotate around Alaer's head, instead of the Oni's! Screaming with rage, the Oni shouted a thousand curses the party's way. But meanwhile, goblins began to encroach upon the party – specifically, Linwë – from behind. Though this was not nearly as alarming as was Linwë's new assailant: Brad. The Bard appeared then, emerging from invisibility to attack Linwë with a spell that the cleric shrugged off. He shot a straightsword toward the bard, realizing he was being controlled by something hostile, hoping to knock the man unconscious. Little did the Cleric of Mielikki know, however, that Brad's spirit was waging a losing war to regain his body, Mielikki desperately preserving what was left of his brain in the Astral Plane, as Brad's spirit struggled to force the intellect devourer out and restore his own consciousness. Brad's internal struggle was a stark metaphor for the physical struggle the party now faced; The Oni, bloodied and angry, faced off against the party, many of whom were themselves covered in their own wounds,  exhausted and grim, yet visages stretched across their face. They were neck-and-neck with the blue beast, Malleus Maleficarium the Magnificent, and the stakes had never before been so high.

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Preview: CotC, #3: Oni, Elves & Ogres

 

Lock the door, blow out the light;
The Hungry Oni Haunts the night
Hide and Tremble, little one;
The Oni wants to have some fun.

 

Hear it scratching on the door;
See its shadow cross the floor.
The Sun won’t rise for quite a while;
Till then, beware the Oni’s smile.

 

 
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Champions of the Citadel, Session 3: Oni, Elves & Ogres.


"He asked if I would parlay. I never said yes." – Alaer


  • The party discussed how to approach the lair of the Oni, where they last saw the Drow enter. They decide to approach from the left, in front of the swamp, and wait for the Dragonborn to attack. 
  • Doing so, they wait until dawn breaks and they hear the sound of a horn. They hear combat around the river's bend. Two blue-skinned goblins come out of the shack, across from the waterfall, waving a white fabric. The one closest to the Dragonborn is shot dead. The other walks toward the river, shouting in various languages that it wishes to Parlay. 
  • After some discussion, Alaer decides to emerge from their cover and speak to the goblin. The creature offers them a deal – one magic item, and they will pass with their lives. The Goblin says it speaks on behalf of the Oni, who he refers to as "Malleus Malificarium the Magnificent". Alaer refuses the offer. The hobgoblins let fly and shoot at Alaer, only one of the bolts hitting him, but he catches it. 
  • Linwe, thinking fast, quickly casts a spell at the shack where several Hobgoblins look toward their position at the south — the shack then becomes overrun with vegetation. 
  • A massive battle erupts, then, with a Blue-skinned Ogre bursting out from a pile of rocks and rubble, assaulting the party. They made their way across the swamp, fighting as they went. Alaer takes down the Drow though a tense battle of Darkness, traps and flying bolts. Brad casts haste on the party and keeps Linwë healed, while Adran fires off arrows at the hobgoblins and ogre. Eventually, Linwë and Adran take down the Ogre, the rogue slicing through the creature's shin before it's toppled by a blast of radiant energy from Linwë. 
  • A blue hobgoblin in plate armor appears before the bridge, and Linwë casts a spell that lets a vine lash out from a nearby boulder in the stream, pulling him into the creature-infested rapids as he disappears, sinking to the bottom. Alaer sprints across the bridge, narrowly avoiding certain death as it explodes – he stepped on a trap, triggering the explosion. 
  • Adran scales the cliff ahead as the Hobgoblins begin to tactically retreat into the cave beyond the waterfall. Then, the party sees a harrowing sight. Some goblins trigger a rock slide above the surviving 3 Dragonborn, and one of them is buried entirely under the rubble. Two remaining Dragonborn fight, the first slain by Tukk, their former ally, and the last, the leader, speared with Crossbow bolts and then thrown into the river by the raging Dragonborn traitor. The Dragonborn were defeated.
  • Adran looks to the cave, to the left, and sees a pile of treasure. It glimmers strangely, and he suspects that it is a trap. 
  • Alaer kills the fleeing goblin that tried to parlay, and approaches the Hobgoblins. They then try to speak to him, the first offering a second parlay. Alaer returns the offer with a fist, spinning about, but missing the creature, as he blurrs for a moment. Suddenly, then, an imp appeared at his side. The imp cries out at the monk, but a split second later, the imp is annihilated by a stone fist hook that comes sailing his way. 
  • Meanwhile, Adran makes his way, sneaking, around the trench. He takes cover beside some barrels, and quaffs a healing potion, mending much of his wounds. 
  • Alaer blasts away the blue Hobgoblin before him, and the remaining two inside of the shack drop to their knees, their weapons clattering on the stone floor, surrendering.
  • Alaer speaks to the Hobgoblins, and demands of them some information. After some threats of punches to the face, they tell Alaer of the Oni, that he is crafty and has many powers. They speak of traps within the cave, but mention none, specifically. They also talk about the Oni's obsession with magic items, and boast that he is "the most intelligent being in the Sword Coast". They say that the reason they are so smart is because of Potions of Intelligence that were brewed by Shushar, at first, until the Oni learned the recipe himself.
  • The Hobgoblins try to offer Alaer more information, then, if Alaer is willing to give them some gold. Reluctantly, Alaer says he can give them 100 gold pieces, in addition to letting them go. The Hobgoblins then stand, and tell Alaer that the Oni not only is obsessed with magic items. He is also obsessed with the biology and ecology of other beings. They say that he holds many prisoners of exotic races, including a Yuan-Ti, a human child, Shushar the KuaToa, a Githyanki Wizard, a Thrie-Kreen, some Duergar, two bullywug, a lizardfolk, and a Tiefling Warlock. 
  • Alaer then sends them on their way, empty-handed.
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