Fate’s Chosen: saying goodbye to friends and loved ones

Petha and Lela notice the flash in the courtyard and see familiar faces appear out of thin air. They greet the Drow’s Bane but realize the towels they carry are not needed this time.

Royce is greeted by Lela who speaks to him in broken common,
“Welcom..hom…mast….Royce.”
“Lela, that’s good. You are speaking common now.”
“Yes, master Royce, her classes have been going well; she’s a fast learner of the language.”
Lela takes Royce’s hand and describes to him how she thinks Petha is nice, and Yonica is sweet and says ‘Petri’ shaking her head and frowning. She breaks into Aquan and details how the basilisk scares her; Nong listens and smirks in response.

The party spends the day acclimating back into familiar territory. After a meal and some light rest, Naismith calls to Petha to take a walk with him. The two walk in the garden as he explains to her that Illian and Tusker, have unfortunately passed. Petha grips her scarf and begins to cry; Naismith follows suit. The two console each other and talk about the need for hosting a memorial dedicated to the ranger and her sidekick. They continue this conversation with the others and ideate on what to do.
“I have her two scimitars that I would like mounted. We can place them with the memorial.”
“I can make them into a cairn and we can assemble it on the small mound over there,” points Mordrock.
“What do you think she wants to be remembered by?” asks Petha.
“I think we plant in her name a tree right over here,” points Naismith toward the garden.

Two days later, the Drow’s Bane and Catchbreeze staff hold a memorial in the garden, attributed to Illian Nightbreeze and Tusker. Each take turns speaking about a favorite memory of their friends and an occasional laugh breaks the constant melancholy mood. Lela and Yonica carry baskets of cut flowers, and proceed up to the cairn where they lay them out. The party closes the memorial by planting a tree in Illian’s name. The beautiful event not only helps with closure, but serves as a catalyst for each of them to consider the implication of their next journey.

Over the next few days:

Royce finishes the letter and wraps it with ribbon. He takes it to his father, who has been really enjoying his stay at Catchbreeze.
“Dad, I’m happy to hear how wonderful your stay here has been for you. Listen, I need you to do something for me, okay?”
Royce hands his father the letter, “Please take this to mom after I leave for my next trip. You see, where I’m going will be extremely dangerous and necessary…Dad, if I do not return, then consider this my goodbye,” as Royce hugs his father deeply.

Royce’s father looks surprised but remembers all the times he has kept dibs on the whereabouts of his son; to him, Royce has always been a great hero to this world.
“I’m so proud of you son, for everything you have accomplished in life; especially your dedication to Tempus. I know you have to do what you have to do, and I know He is watching over you.”
Father and son spend the rest of the afternoon together, catching up on old memories and laughing about this, that, and the other.

Mordrock enters the City of the Dead holding a blanket. He makes his way to a familiar corner of the cemetery where he goes to escape from the world. He gently places the blanket down and begins to dig a hole. He unwraps the blanket, takes out the body of a two-headed kitten and buries it. “There you go Samantha. It is time for your eternal rest. I’m so sorry I kept you from it, for so long. Please forgive me.”

Nong looks up and sees the sign, “Monastery of the Sun” and enters. He glances around and sees monks dressed in simple garb and the fragrance of incense burns in the background; he is confident he has found the right place. Nong walks up to a man in yellow robes, “Hey, I’m looking for the abbot of this place?”
The man nods and replies, “You have found him. My name is Abbot Hanor of the Monastery of the Sun. How can I…help…you…?” The abbot trails off at the end of his question when he notices the strange creepy wand and dark aura emanating around this half-orc.

Nong presents a heavy satchel filled with coins, “I would like to make a donation of five hundred gold,” and hands it to the surprised abbott.
“I have one request. The next foundling who joins your monastery, I ask you to name him Taliq. That is all.”
Nong abruptly turns around and walks out of the monastery before abbott Hanor has a chance to respond.

On the opposite side of Waterdeep, Naismith enters the Tower of Luck, a temple dedicated to Tymora, goddess of luck.
“Excuse me, I have an important request for a clergy member. I am seeking the aid of a planar ally known as Jimjar; he is a deva of Tymora. How much would it cost to summon him for me?”
“Your request kind sir is expensive but possible. We can arrange for this for the price of one thousand seven hundred fifty gold pieces.”
“Done,” as Naismith hands over a large sack of gold pieces.

Naismith is brought to a summoning room where he is asked to sit at a table and wait. The cleric lights candles around the room and then approaches the middle.
“Jimjar is what you said, correct?”
“Yes, that is the deva’s name. Thank you.”
The cleric begins casting Planar Ally and ten minutes later, the deva appears in the room.
“Naismith. It is wonderful to see you.”
“And you as well Jimjar. We just experienced a horrific situation, and a perilous decision on my part to save the group.”
Jimjar responds with a loving smile and simple affirming nod. Naismith motions the deva to sit at the table with him, as the rogue pulls out a deck of cards and shuffles them.
“Come old friend, and play cards of chance with me.”
Jimjar takes a seat at the table and receives the dealt hand. Naismith begins playing a card and describes the choice he had to make.
“I took your advice you gave me. But I wasn’t expecting that it would lead to the ultimate gamble for my soul.”
Jimjar looks at his hand, draws and plays a card, “Everything has consequences. But I am happy you sit before me alive and well.”
Naismith plays two cards, “Is there a way back for me?”
Jimjar responds with two cards, one face up the other face down, “What you ask I cannot see for it is too far into the future. But there is always a way to play the odds if the timing is right.”
Naismith plays a three card combination of high cards, sits back and waits. Jimjar looks at this hand and knows he cannot beat that; he lays down the rest of his hand, “You win!” and smiles.

The deva stands up and says, “Know this, inspite of your contract, I am still granting you spells. Think about that,” as he prepares to exit. “It was great to see you Naismith. It was time,” and vanishes from the room.

A few days later, Royce returns from a shopping trip having spent one thousand five hundred gold pieces for a tuning fork to Limbo. The group decides to leave the next day. Later that afternoon, Royce approaches Petha and explains to her about their next trip and how they may not return.
“We leave you everything in the coffers and the property itself, so you can enjoy the rest of your life. We have truly enjoyed having you as head of estate.”
Petha gives Royce a hug and says, “Thank you master Royce. I am sad to hear this but in my time working here, I’ve come to expect such things. You know, you are not the first to occupy this estate. I do believe it was granted to you by Lady Silverhand herself. Have you informed her yet of your next adventure? I’m sure she would appreciate the information.”
“You are right Petha, I forgot about that. We definitely need to speak to her as soon as possible. She was the one who brought us together.”

The next day, the Drow’s Bane arrive at the palace to see Lady Laeral Silverhand. She welcomes them into a dining hall where a small feast is presented. They partake in lunch as they fill her in on their latest news. She listens intently and when they are done, asks,
“Do you know anything about the Positive plane?”
“Umm, not really Lady Silverhand. Only that we need psychic power to open up the gate from Limbo.”
“I see,” and turns to her staff to request the presence of Talestra, her loyal wizard.

Talestra appears and bows to formally greet the guests. Lady Silverhand asks her to describe the Positive plane. Talestra does not see that coming, and pauses for a second deep in thought. Once she is able to call to memory, she approaches,
“Yes my lady. The Positive plane is a plane composed of pure radiant energy. There is no air on the plane and it is inhospitable to those that depend on it to survive. One cannot see either and if you stay for more than a minute, you explode from the healing energy that constantly infuses your body until it reaches capacity.”

The party looks at each other in fear for what they just heard. Lady Silverhand picks up on the awkwardness,
“Thank you Talestra. Do you guys have any way of staying alive on the plane? How long do you need to bathe the wand?”
“We are unsure my lady. We hope it requires no more than the time it takes to hold our breath and keep our eyes closed.”

Together, they agree for Lady Silverhand to renounce Catchbreeze from the Drow’s Bane in one year, if they do not return; Petha will become Lela’s official guardian at that time as well. Lady Silverhand is proud of them and promises to begin work on their epic saga with her bards.
“You will not be forgotten Drow’s Bane. I promise you that.”

The next morning, Royce, Mordrock, Naismith and Nong stand in a circle in the garden. They clasp hands and listen to Royce cast Plane Shift marking their destination as ‘Sithka’s adamantine citadel in Limbo’. A moment later, they blink out of existence and reappear in Limbo five hundred feet from the familiar ship.

Fate’s Chosen: the MacGuffin

Royce’s eyes open to see staring down at him, Nong, who is barely alive. There is a look of exhaustion in Nong’s face – partly from fighting a god and partly from carrying the weight of the wand of Orcus all this way. Nong limps back to allow Royce space to move and get up. The cleric of Tempus looks around and sees the results of the battlefield: huge chunks of dead Kyuss litter the ground, spawn corpses everywhere and a horrendous stench of worms and undeath. He feels a throbbing pain creep up on him, as he looks down and sees a bloody finger stump.
“What the hell happened to my finger!”
“Talk to Naismith about that one. If you ask me, he did what he had to do to save our lives.”
There is also a slight sting coming from Royce’s inner arm; he grabs it searching for the culprit. He is shocked when he sees staring back at him, a branded copper scourge tattoo – the mark of Glasya.
“Damn him! I curse Naismith for doing this to me. Why didn’t you leave me to die in peace. I could be resting in Warrior’s Rest right now, instead of this crap.”
Nong gives Royce a look of disgust as he moves toward the bodies of Naismith and Mordrock, “Royce are you going restore our comrades or not?”

Royce glances nearby to see the stable bodies of Talina and Naismith and a dead Mordrock. He bandages his finger stump and prepares to restore the party with some mass healing. Naismith and Talina slowly open their eyes, inhale the stench and jerk upright. Naismith looks up and catches an angry stare from Royce.
“What happened? Where are the devils Nong?”
“They are gone. Those hellfire cannons got the last good hit in, tore Kyuss to shreds and then went home.”
Nong walks over to Naismith, extends a hand to him, “Thank you Naismith for the courage you took to engage them. We wouldn’t have survived without your leadership,” as he scowls in Royce’s direction.

Naismith is quick to comprehend what is taking place; he looks at Royce’s hand and says, “I’m very sorry Royce but I had to break your ring. I couldn’t afford the time to take it off you while I had spawn breathing down my neck. I simply reacted, and I hope you know how to restore your finger.”

Royce looks away for a moment and then focuses his attention on Mordrock’s body, “I can bring him back, just give me a moment.”
Talina approaches and touches Royce on the shoulder, “We are alive and free from that terrible thing. You fought well and brave.” She steps back and commends Naismith and Nong for the same thing. “I don’t know how we survived but you will have to tell me what happened after I fell.”
“Talina, I don’t think you want to know what happened. Just be thankful we took care of it, for you.”
Talina frowns at Nong and then replies, “I guess you are right that it’s not the most important thing to talk about right now,” as she looks over at Mordrock’s body. “But eventually, I want to know why do both clerics have one less finger?”

The few times Mordrock has briefly visited his deity was never in a chamber, like the one he is in now. This chamber, unlike the one where Kelemvor judges the dead, is small and only an ornate throne exists in it. Mordrock feels the divine power of Kelemvor emanating from the throne; the cleric instinctively kneels in respect. “Mighty Kelemvor, I have returned to you. Please oh great Kelemvor, bless me and judge me for my life trials.”
“Now is not the time for that Mordrock. You are not done with your life journey. You must return to fulfill your destiny.”
“Yes my lord. What is it that I must still do to serve in your name?”

Kelemvor lifts his hand and the necklace around Mordrock’s neck rises up and begins to glow. Mordrock looks down at it, confused by the meaning of this.
“Do you recall how this necklace came to be, Mordrock?”
“Yes. It came to me in a dream I believe, from one of your angels. But I am not clear on what it is or does, my lord.”
Kelemvor gives Mordrock a stern look, “I sacrificed many angels to fetch that from Thanatos after Orcus was defeated on the Material Plane, and before he could re-materialize.”
Kelemvor pauses and then laughs, “I guess this place is the best place to keep a secret from that wand, as Orcus hears all from his weapon. Mordrock your dream was actually you in the Astral plane, then in the Abyss, observing the rescue of Anarchocles’s spirit. His prison was contained in one of the many blood gems that decorate the throne of Orcus. His minions were quick to protect their master’s throne but were not fast enough. My angels succeeded in prying out the gem at the cost of their lives. The last angel chose you as the bearer before succumbing to the fiends of Thanatos.”

Mordrock stares at the glowing crystal, wide-eyed after hearing the story of its journey to him. He recalls the research the Drow’s Bane did to learn of the ways in which to destroy the wand. Obviously bathing it in the Positive Plane at the hand of the slain hero, is the true legend. “When you meet Orcus on the battlefield, swallow the gem to unleash Anarchocles’s spirit. Together, you and he, will become one and can defeat Orcus. Then, take his wand and go to the Positive Plane to destroy it.”

“Ouch!” cries Mordrock as he looks down and sees on his inner arm, a branding of a copper scourge appear. Confused as to how such a thing can happen to his spirit, Mordrock looks at the symbol and realizes what has happened to his body. “No!!! My soul has been sold to Glasya,” he cries out, covering his face and feeling ashamed in front of his god.

Unexpectedly, Mordrock does not hear the wrath of his god but something quite the opposite. In a gentle and comforting voice, like a parent to a child, Kelemvor reassures, “Do not be afraid of what has happened. Nothing is earned in the multiverse without cost and sacrifice, Mordrock. That is the journey all heroes eventually realize and have to accept and deal with. That is the balance of the multiverse. Today you fret about your contract with Glasya, but tomorrow you may realize it was because of this contract, that allowed you to accomplish your greater goal.”

Mordrock, feeling as if surrounded in a big Kelemvor hug, begins to feel safe again in his god’s presence. He lifts his head and thanks Kelemvor for the mighty wisdom. Together, god and cleric, sense the cosmic tug of life enter into the room, like a umbilical cord tugging Mordrock back to his body.
“Go now, my faithful servant. Complete your destiny and make me proud as your side stint in necromancy has not been overlooked!”
“Yes my lord, I will honor your call and…refrain from any future necromancy,” replies Mordrock, feeling ashamed of being called out for something he thought he was doing secretly.

Mordrock’s eyes open as he senses he is back in his body once again; except for a throbbing feeling in his hand he quickly remembers the stench of the room before his fall. He remembers the last image before he fell and reacts by shaking his body to release the burrowing grubs that are no longer alive.
“Welcome back, Mordrock. You are alive again.”
“Thank you Royce, for saving me once again.”

Mordrock looks down and sees a bloody finger stump and now feels its throbbing pain. He realizes his ring finger is missing.
“Where’s my finger?”
“We will grow you a new one once we are in a safe place and can rest.”
“I’m sorry Mordrock, I had to cut it off to get to your ring. I did not have the benefit of time on my side.”
“I understand Naismith. You did what you had to do.”

Nong sees behind him, an invisible imp appear; it waves to Nong as it flies toward the party. Nong begins to say something when the imp drops the invisibility.
“I guess now that we are family, you can call me ‘Bedichiah’. Come, you need to find the dawn essence to will it to reveal to you the Positive Plane.” Bedichiah flies toward the remains of Kyuss’s prison.

The party leaves Talina behind and follows the imp. When Talina catches up to them, she finally sees the imp. By now, she has learned this troupe of characters have very colored stories and it is best to just go with the flow. She approaches, sighs and points, “Let me guess, that thing’s with you right?”

The Drow’s Bane silently nod back to her.

Bedichiah motions for Royce, Mordrock, Naismith and Nong to reach into the essence at the same time. “This essence is from the dawn of time. What you are about to do, no human has done in all of their history.” Together they reach into the essence and focus their mind on it, willing it to reveal to them the path forward. The essence responds with a bright flow that turns dull; out of it emerges a contraption of multi-colored tiles in response. The party stares at the contraption, unsure of what to do next or if this is the answer they seek. Bedichiah flies to it, examines the structure and replies, “But of course, the gods placed a lock on the essence. You must figure out the pieces before the answer is revealed to you.”

Royce, Mordrock, Naismith and Nong inspect the puzzle and see three colors of runes – white, green and brown; the runes have symbols on each of them. There are also matching white, green and brown tiles.
“I think we need to place the runes on the same color tiles.”
“Yes, and match the symbols at each endpoint, I think.”
Curiously, only Naismith can move the white runes, Mordrock and Royce the green runes and only Nong can move the brown runes. Eventually they figure out the puzzle and when the last rune is placed, two symbols emerge from the essence.

Talina is first to recognize the first symbol looks like the runes that compose a teleportation circle, but to where she is uncertain. Bedichiah approaches the first symbol and removes it from the essence and eventually determines the runes inscribed on it are a teleportation circle that originates on the plane of Limbo.
“Limbo? Our next trip is to Limbo?”
Bedichiah approaches the second and inspects it. “This is not a teleportation circle, but the beginning of a key to possibly a gate to the Positive plane. This key requires significant psychic energy to transform it into its four dimensional self.”
“If that is true, then the teleportation circle has to be the source where you launch the gate from,” replies Talina.

The party stares back in amazement at Talina for her discovery.
“Who do we know who has psychic powers?”
“None of use have such powers. We must seek the wisdom of Tempus once we have traveled to Limbo.”
“Wait! We know someone from Limbo.”
The party stares at Naismith hungry for what he has to say next.
“The Githzerai are from Limbo. Remember these necklaces that Sithka gave to us? We can call to her if we ever needed her help!” Naismith reveals the simple necklace from around his neck. He holds it in his hand and begins to focus on it. The necklace appears to be infused with a way to communicate to the githzerai captain. Everyone else quietly watches the rogue begin to speak out loud; no one else besides him, can hear the female githzerai voice respond. When Naismith ends the message, he turns to the group excitedly and says, “Sithka agrees to help us! We must travel to Limbo to meet her.”

The party breaks into a conversation of planning and strategy at the same time, the female triton takes a few steps back from the group. Royce is the first to notice,
“Talina, everything okay? You must come with us to Limbo. We can’t do this without you.”
Talina smiles back at Royce, “Royce, my journey with you has always been to see you safely through my plane of existence. Where you go next is not my journey; my journey with you has come to an end. A happy and wonderful end.” She walks up to Royce, gives him a kiss and says, “I hope we will meet again when you are done with your task. I will certainly miss you.”
Royce embraces her, and passionately kisses her back, “I understand Talina. I will miss you too and I can’t wait until our paths cross again.”

Talina embraces the others in a warm goodbye, then waves to them, and makes her way down the stairs toward the laboratory’s exit.

Bedichiah cuts through the pregnant pause that lingers in the room after Talina’s departure.
“Do you understand why only some of you could move certain runes only?”
“Well, the two clerics could move tiles so maybe it has to do with being a cleric and not?”
“Or maybe it requires more than one person to unlock the puzzle?”

Royce, who is still looking at the stairway where Talina descended, drys a tear from his eye and says, “If it took the whole pantheon of gods to imprison Kyuss at the dawn of time, then that means good, neutral and evil gods came together. The runes represent the three alignments.”
“YES! Royce that is correct. Glasya did chose well,” smiles Bedichiah.

Mordrock puts two and two together in his head as he looks at Nong, who happens to look a bit awkward at the moment. He then hears the voice of Kelemvor enter his mind,
“Nothing is earned in the multiverse without cost and sacrifice, Mordrock.”

The Church of the Morninglord: St Andral

With two clerics (one a cleric of The Morninglord) playing through Curse of Strahd, I find myself fielding a number of questions about the church’s locations and history, and trying to piece together the information as it comes. On a second pass through St Andral’s Church in Vallaki, our curious cleric was examining the empty reliquary under the alter. Father Lucian had disappeared that this point, but she asked if she (as a cleric of the morning lord) was familiar with who St. Andral was, and rolling well enough, I proceeded to tell her… well, I proceeded to panic, as I realized the book gives us next to nothing about St Andral.

What we know for sure:

I was shocked to realize the Curse of Strahd hardcover gives us nothing except the following:

  • St Andral’s bones rest beneath the alter in the church in Vallaki. We don’t have a map to go on, but we can assume the church is slightly larger and slightly grander than the church in Barovia, although the book tells us to re-use that map if needed.
  • St Andral’s remains are indeed blessed and hold have some level of sacred power, as the will hallow the church grounds when returned.

Given these limited details and the need to answer the question, I decided in the moment that St. Andral and Lugdana, the paladin who carried the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, were now the same person, and gave a brief bio she might have reasonably recalled with a high roll on her history check—

St Andral was a paladin in the early days of the church when is was known as “The Cult of the Morninglord”. The Holy Symbol of Ravenkind was delivered to her by an angel in the form of a raven, which she famously used to destroy a nest of vampires.

But What Else Do We Know?

It may be too late to incorporate all of these details into the canon established on the fly, but it’s always interesting to dive into the lore and see what else we can find in the annals of D&D history.

Fair Barovia

St. Andral’s Church and Father Lucian appear in Claudio Pozas’ Fair Barovia (4E, Dragon Magazine #207), but doesn’t give us much more in the way of new information— only:

The Morninglord was originally a religion brought to Barovia by traveling adventurers. In time, that religion was mixed with the traditional Barovian worship of hallowed saints of the past.

In addition to St. Andral, other Barovian saints include St. Ecaterine, St. Bogdan, and St. Markovia.

Fair Barovia, Dragon Magazine #207, p.51

For more of Fair Baroiva and its relationship to Curse of Strahd, I can’t recommend enough this excellent article from Powerscore RPG. Saints Ecaterine and Bogdan and their relics both appear in Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (3.5E) alongside St. Markovia.

The church (or cult) of the Morninglord deserves its own space in another post, but if we want to learn more about this “traditional Barovan worship”, we can look next to Sword & Sorcery’s Ravenloft Gazetteers for third edition.

The Church of Andral

The Church of Andral predates Sergei von Zarovich’s ill-fated wedding in 351 Barovian Calendar (BC), having been founded in 168 BC to worship a sun god known as Ahndrel or Eundrel. By the fourth century BC, the church had died out, eventually supplanted by the worship of The Morninglord (Ravenloft Gazetteer Vol 1, p. 16).

One option might be, perhaps this is a good reason nothing is known about St. Andral himself— the name remained in the recesses of the church history as the worship of the Morninglord became more established in Barovia (which only happened after the mists descended on the valley). Andral became forgotten, the god demoted to saint with no other miraculous events or valiant martyrdom attached to his name. The bones could belong to anyone, given power by others’ faith in their divinity.

One other fun fact I learned in this research that doesn’t have much bearing on our St Andral is that according to the same Gazetteer, the leader of The Keepers of the Black Feather, Keeva Sixtywinters is, in fact, a cleric of Andral, the last keeping the original faith alive (p. 38).

Lugdana

So with nothing else on St Andral, what else can we learn about Lugdana, the Paladin? Her only mention in Curse of Strahd is in the entry for the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.

The Holy Symbol of Ravenkind is a unique holy symbol sacred to the good-hearted faithful of Barovia. It predates the establishment of any church in Barovia. According to legend, it was delivered to a paladin named Lugdana by a giant raven — or an angel in the form of a giant raven. Lugdana used the holy symbol to root out and destroy nests of vampires until her death. The high priests of Ravenloft kept and wore the holy symbol after Lugdana’s passing.

Curse of Strahd, p. 222

The holy symbol has its own place in Ravenloft’s history, but Lugdana appears previously in Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, which seems it be, like Curse of Strahd, a semi-reboot of Barovia stripped away from the second and third editions’ expansive Ravenloft settings. I couldn’t find mention of her in any of the 2e or 3e books.

Alongside much of the same information about the holy symbol, we learn “[Lugdana] was among the earliest settlers of the valley” (Expedition p. 214). Lugdana would later die battling a fiend named Chernovog (cue Mussorgsky) summoned by a band of witches at Lysaga Hill— a location that does not exist in Curse of Strahd, but perhaps could be combined with Yester Hill instead (Expedition p. 217).

Where to Go From Here

I’m keen to explore the “Church of Andral” aspect of the Barovian church and the Keepers of the Feather’s relationship with the “old ways” in our campaign, I think it would be an interesting place to go once the Martikovs learn the party has acquired the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. We’ve only just learned the family’s secret and their relationship with the birds of the valley, and I’m sure the party will meet them again soon. As is often the case I wish I’d know just a bit more and had done this research before the questions came up, but many times we don’t quite know where the party will end up next and don’t anticipate exactly which clues and mysteries we need to have ready for them.

——
Sources

Curse of Strahd (5E, 2016)
Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (3.5E, 2006)
Fair Barovia (4E, Dragon Magazine #207, 2012)
Ravenloft Gazetteer Vol. 1 (3.5E, 2002)

Fate’s Chosen: the Worm that Walks

Standing inside the platform, Naismith is the first to attack the oncoming masses of worms. He fires an arrow that pierces one of them, then steps back and vanishes into the shadows. Talina steps outside the doors onto the undulating floor of worms; she grimaces with every step, slogging through who knows what. She moves into position, focuses her casting and unleashes a cone of prismatic colors that impacts several spawn and rot grubs; some easily parish while others are held in place. Nong takes off running through the room en route to engage; along the way he vanishes into thin air. The Drow’s Bane offensive is flawless with a very strong opening. Royce casts Dawn and Mordrock casts Flame Strike; together they neutralize the rot grubs before they can even advance. However, a few swarms of Kyuss do manage to reach the party.

The chanting of the remaining swarms of Kyuss do not skip a beat and cause the Writhing Battery to spider crack across its crystalline surface. Unfortunately, the power of the Dawn spell also envelopes the prison with radiant damage, enough to cause a humongous wormy hand to break through the cracks. The sight empowers the chanting to increase in volume as the swarm senses their god is close to freedom.

Nong makes his way toward the chanting and easily attacks while no one can see him; he catches Zabrok looking around, sensing someone is nearby. When the spawns of Kyuss reach the party, they vomit more rot grubs onto Talina, Mordrock and Royce. The party is quick to zap the rot grubs to death, but the spawn of Kyuss manage to fling worms onto the party. Talina feels once again, something crawling up her skin and burrowing into her flesh. Royce is quick with a cast of Greater Restoration in response, and kills the burrowing worms.

The party hears a large crack from the Writhing Battery and now sees a huge arm breaks free. The undulating arm of worms pummels the ground near the chanters, making direct contact with the invisible Nong. When Nong comes to his senses he attacks the arm and quickly moves away, but the arm is too fast and pummels him before the monk can escape.

Talina, Naismith, Royce and Mordrock manage to take down the surrounding swarms and rot grubs, only to watch the arm point to the corpses and raise up new swarms. Royce manages to maintain his concentration on the Dawn spell that sears radiant damage into the chanters, the nearby swarms and the prison. In response, another loud crack is heard as a humongous head of moving worms and two hollow eyes, emerges. With the last of the chanting completed, Kyuss the worm that walks, breaks free. His visage is so grotesque that any other party would be instantly frightened of this great monstrosity. Thanks to last night’s Heroes Feast, the party is unaffected.

With each step, the ground beneath Kyuss trembles as he fast approaches the party; he stands twenty feet tall and he’s not alone. All of the chanters and new piles of rot grubs are en route behind him, hungry to join in on the fun. The massive head of Kyuss focuses on Royce as his first target; he raises his arm and smashes into the cleric. With that impact, Royce barely holds onto his concentration of the Dawn spell; he also feels tiny things begin to crawl over his flesh and burrow. Another swing and Royce’s concentration is gone. The bright light of dawn fades away, as darkness moves in to take its place. The Drow’s Bane continue to feel the god’s wrath leaving only Naismith without tiny visitors. Fortunately, Nong is immune to necrotic damage while he holds the wand of Orcus, preventing the multitude of his tiny visitors from killing him.

Talina is the first to succumb to worms. When Nong sees this he screams out, “Now is the time to break the rings?!?!” Naismith hears this, closes his eyes and acknowledges reality,
“Royce we need to break the rings now! We won’t survive without help!!”
“No! I will not break the ring and surrender my soul. I am ready to die and accept Tempus to carry me home!”

Royce is next to succumb to the burrowing. Mordrock is quick to cast a Mass Healing Word in response, before he succumbs to the same. Royce’s eyes open and before he can call out to Tempus, the worms burrow into him further causing him to close his eyes once again.

Nong breaks his ring and hopes for the best. Two swarms have now engaged with Naismith who is able to dodge the worms flung in his direction. The voice of JimJar enters his mind reminding Naismith to not overlook friends in his darkest hour. Naismith surrenders to the inevitable, “I knew I always would be damned in this life,” and breaks his ring. He turns his attention towards the downed clerics and dashes for their bodies.

Meanwhile, Nong is striking Kyuss with all of his might. He knows a stunning strike is pointless against the god and so he channels his ki into additional blows. Kyuss responds with signficant damage to Nong, who realizes he does not have much runway left in this fight. “Naismith, do something quick!!”

The determined rogue manages to dart next to Mordrock and Royce. Without giving it much thought, he slices off each of their ring fingers and breaks both rings. Even with all of the adrenaline rushing through his body, Naismith still feels the pain of Glasya’s copper scourge branding, upon his left inner arm. He looks up to see crimson red portals open up behind Kyuss, at the same time he feels little visitors crawling up his skin.

Emerging from the portals, two huge armored diabolic vehicles move out; both with large cannons and a hideous face carved into the front of each. Behind them, a large horned devil flies out followed by two other devils, amnizus, one holding flasks in its hand. The hellfire engines are the first to unleash their cannons, hitting Kyuss and his minions. Nong hears the cannons and immediately sees spawns and rot grubs surrounding him explode from the impact. The horned devil, attacks Kyuss from the air, striking the god with his forked spear followed by a tail swing. The aminzu holding flasks flies toward the downed clerics as the other holds his position and unleashes a fireball. Zabrok who has been taunting Nong from the air is in direct line of fire of the cannons and fireball spell. The deluge of damage tears the cambion apart as his broken body falls to the ground. Nong catches sight of this and spits in his direction before being pummeled by Kyuss. The god’s hit drops Nong to his knees; he spits out blood, channels his orcish ancestry and stands up once again, though barely alive.

The amnizu arrives at the cleric bodies and feeds them potions in between fighting the two spawn of Kyuss that took Naismith down. Unfortunately, these potions are meant to terminate the burrowing rot grubs, not heal them from unconsciousness. The impact of the diabolic firepower is enough to steer Kyuss away from the party towards the devils. Kyuss engages with the hellfire engines and pummels them but the engines are tough and stand their ground. Kyuss manages to kill the horned devil at the same time the amnizus unleash mighty attacks on him. What’s left of the battlefield is Nong, Kyuss, and the remaining devils; all of the spawns and rot grubs are destroyed by cannon fire.

As the tides of battle turn toward the party’s favor, the cleric of Kelemvor breathes his last breadth and quietly dies. Royce, Talina and Naismith are unconscious but manage to stabilize.

Nong can sense the life force of the god is fading and he musters all of his remaining strength to strike the god down, except he is unable to. It is the hellfire cannons who provide the killing blow to Kyuss. As the cannon fire tears into the god, large chunks of the wormed body fly off. No longer able to stay standing, the remains of the worm the walks, plummets to the ground.

The smell of brimstone and burnt putrid flesh fills the chamber along with an eerie silence. Nong who is breathing very heavy, looks up and sees the aminzus inspect the carnage for any lingering threats. An aminizu flies toward Nong and says, “Our business is done here. You can handle the rest.”

Crimson portals open up and the engines move into them. As the amnizus fly past Nong toward the portals, one says to him, “Mordrock must live no matter what the cost.”

Journey to Fate’s Doorstep: finding the Writhing Battery

“You left me here alone to fend for myself!!” cries Talina when she sees the Drow’s Bane emerge from the crimson portal.
“I suddenly woke up and didn’t see anyone around. How scary is that given what we just endured. What happened to you?”
Royce approaches the triton and explains to her what happened, minus the deal offer, “If that didn’t happen Talina, we would be dead or worse, we might have risen as swarms and killed you.”
Talina listens to Royce but is upset no one invited her to the party.

The Drow’s Bane notice they fill rested, as if they completed an hour’s rest. They ponder what is going on when Naismith says, “I bet you it was the wine.” The others nod in agreement as they look at each other realizing not only did Glasya save their lives, she gave them rest too. Royce, Mordrock and Nong open their hands, take the crimson ring, and slide it onto their fingers; Naismith watches but places his ring in his pocket. He notices when the others place the ring on, they look a little more protected. He says to himself, “I bet the ring is magical.” He reaches into his pocket, pulls it out, and puts it on; he now feels more protected too.

Mordrock heals Talina before the party heads back toward the staircase and down to the first floor. On the first floor eastern staircase, they move toward the black mass near the stairway and wait; the black mass wiggles and retracts revealing a similar corridor with prison cells and skeletons in them. They move quickly west through the corridor and return to the entrance chamber. They decide to move to the black mass in the south wall next; they watch it wiggle and retract. They are not surprised to see another corridor with prison cells and skeletons. They move quickly through it and cross into a southern library, similar to the northern one they previously encountered. They look around and notice, besides bookcases with tomes, there is also a very large opened book on a pedestal.

The party inspects the western bookcases and finds large tomes made of metal and stone, each with two symbols on the spines; the first symbol is an item like a weapon or piece of armor next to a school of magic symbol. They choose a tome, slowly pull it out given its weight, and open it; even though they cannot read the language, Talina can tell the content is not spell based, but more like notes. On the eastern bookcases, each shelf’s tomes are dedicated to a school of magic with the last tome stamped with a diamond symbol. “I bet you that diamond symbol represents the school of chronomancy,” says Naismith. Talina opens up the tome and sees the same foreign language across the pages unable to discern more about Naismith’s suggestion.

The party moves to the pedestal to examine the very large tome; the cover is made of brass and silver metal, the pages are made of stone with reinforced metal, probably due to their large size. The left page details a portrait of a middle aged man in full military dress wearing ornate mithril armor. On the right page, is a detailed schematic of a barbed greatsword covered with necromancy, enchantment, and abjuration sigils; another sigil is scratched off and the diamond symbol is pressed into the corner of the page. Mordrock’s eyes pause on the greatsword; the sword looks familiar to him as though he has seen it before, but he is unable to recall from memory, where. His hands turn the heavy pages to see more portraits on the left with schematics on the right; he recognizes nothing else in the tome.

The party chooses to walk from the library, down the western corridor which turns ninety degrees north. They follow the northern corridor which leads them to a small room with an ascending stairway, identical to the same location on the opposite side of the pyramid. They decide to ascend the stairway and notice with every step, the heartbeat gets louder. After spending almost and hour climbing stairs they arrive onto a platform whose floor, walls and ceiling resemble the night sky on a clear night. Nong tests the floor before walking on it, so as to not to fall into oblivion. He sees two large stone doors on the opposite side of the platform, that vibrate in harmony with the loud heartbeat. Naismith moves to the double doors and listens; besides the heartbeat he thinks is originating from behind the doors, he also picks up chanting.
“The heartbeat sounds like it’s coming from behind these doors. But I also hear chanting, which is never a good sound.”

The party organizes into a defensive stance as Nong opens the doors. He gives them a push and the stone doors easily open up. A humongous dim lit room lies beyond; the floor of the room is covered with worms that undulate in time with the heartbeat. One hundred feet or more into the room, a dozen swarms of Kyuss and a cambion kneel before a huge crystal pillar. The pillar shakes as if something is trying to get out; the impact agitating the pillar is what is generating the heartbeat sound. The cambion is the first to look back and see the party; it scowls and points to several swarm, who rise up and turn toward the party. These swarm vomit familiar rot grubs, as they move quickly over the undulating floor, in pursuit of the Drow’s Bane.

Journey to Fate’s Doorstep: spilling the T.

Talina swears they move like creatures, but as they approach, the party sees three humanoid masses of undulating worms with dull glowing orbs for eyes. The three spawns of Kyuss move to engage the party; each vomits a pile of rot grubs on their way there. The piles of rot grubs begin to undulate too and follow the spawns.

The party leaps into action except for Royce who is buckled onto the metal table with a tube sticking out of his arm; he takes a moment to move off of the table while everyone else launches into battle. Nong approaches a spwan of Kyuss and pummels a fury of blows into it; only to find with each punch, worms fly off of the spawn’s body in the monk’s direction. Nong easily dodges out of the way, but takes a second to register what just happened. When the other spawns of Kyuss engage with the party, they too fling worms from their bodies towards Drow’s Bane; some worms miss but others hit their target, immediately finding the warm flesh under armor and burrow in.

The swarms of rot grubs move slowly but eventually invade Talina’s, Nong’s and Mordrock’s spaces. Nong escapes but realizes too late, that he brings with him several visitors that announce their welcome by burrowing into his flesh. The party takes down rot grubs only to find that the swarms of Kyuss just vomit up more. Royce is next to be infected by worms; he stumbles as the pain is unbearable from the burrowing. Luck is with him however, when he casts a spell that cures disease, the pain disappears. Nong, Mordrock and Talina are not so lucky and one by one they succumb to the extreme burrowing pain and fall.

Thanks to Naismith’s agility, he easily navigates in and out of the swarms path, always able to find a safe location out of their reach; but in doing so, he also sees how his comrades are fast falling around him. The rogue however, has a few tricks up his sleeve as he revives a person here or another there; but as soon as they return to consciousness, the rot grubs agitate, burrow further and take their hosts down once again. One of these people is Royce, who is not fast enough to cast a remove disease spell before the agitation begins, and he closes his eyes once again. The battle does not look good for the Drow’s Bane as Naismith, now perched upon a statue, looks out and sees none of his comrades are conscious while the swarms are fast approaching his location. He gulps and cries out to Tamora for a bit of respite and a little luck.

A crackling sound is heard in the center of the room as a crimson red portal opens up. The first to exit, is a familiar imp the party met in Candlekeep, who flies out and fixes its eyes on Naismith; several fiends exit next. The fiends take down the swarms, then grab the bodies of Royce, Mordrock and Nong and drag them into the portal. The imp says to Naismith, “The Lady requests your presence,” as he points to the portal. Naismith acknowledges the imp but first runs over to Talina, feeds her a healing potion, then enters the portal.

The smell of blood and brimstone ignites life back into Royce, Mordrock and Nong who open their eyes and realize they are in a dim lit room, lying on their backs, looking up. They hear a strong female voice say, “That was a pathetic fight don’t you agree?”

Royce, Mordrock and Nong rise up, see Naismith standing near them looking at the figure in the front of the room. They all lay their eyes upon:

The Arch-devil of Malbolge, Lady of the 6th layer of Hell, Glasya, daughter of Asmodeus.

Glasya, Lord of the 6th Image courtesy of https://www.obsidianportal.com/

Glasya seductively lays on a chaise lounge made of arms whose bloody stumps ooze blood whenever she moves. She stares intently at the Drow’s Bane, then smiles and says, “Please, have a drink and let’s toast to common goals.”

A platter, with four goblets filled with red liquid, appears before the party; everyone takes a goblet, holds it up and waits. Glasya motions her goblet upward in a toast then moves it to her mouth and sips, while observing the party. Naismith, Nong, Mordrock and Royce follow suit and drink; the liquid tastes like wine and is smooth going down.

A pregnant pause fills the room. As they begin to offer thanks to Glasya, she cuts them off and proclaims,
“I do believe we still share a common goal together. We both want to see the wand of Orcus destroyed, yes? That is why you stand here today in my presence…alive. I am impressed you blindly managed to find your way to the laboratory using the map I gifted to you. You’re welcome,” as she laughs, revealing a mouth full of fangs. She lifts up, leans forward, and uncurls her immense bat like wings that protrude from her back.
“Do you know why you are there? Do you know what it is?”
“Uh…I’m sorry my lady, I don’t believe we do.”
“It is ancient Netherise, built two thousand years ago on the Material Plane. The ancient Netherise were gifted humans steeped in the art of the arcane. One thousand years ago, they discovered an energy source and brought it back to their laboratory. The energy source was nothing they ever experienced before; it enabled them to delve deep into fusing arcane power with simple weapons and armor. It even enabled them to be foolish enough to try their hand at the lost school of chronomancy, which only one of them ever survived. All of the others who cast those spells and traveled through time perished, never realizing there was no air along the way.”

The party takes another sip as she continues speaking,
“What the Netherise failed to realize was their ‘Writhing Battery’ was an aspect of a chained god from the Dawn War – Kyuss, the worm that walks. The pantheon of gods, at the beginning of time, came together to defeat Kyuss; they separated his body into several pieces, imprisoned each one and hid them all over the multiverse. Over time, the Writhing Battery corrupted the Netherise researches and turned them into the spawns you fought – nothing but a mass of worms intent on doing their gods dirty work. In fact, if I didn’t save you just now, you were about to join their ranks,” as she points to Royce, Mordrock and Nong.

“So why do we care about this in the age of today? It matters to us because Orcus, more than ever, hungers to become a god. Since you failed his attempt to align with Bane in Fort Morninglord, he is onto striking a deal with Kyuss next. Thanks to YOU, his wand has been feeding him every soul you strike down Nong!”

The party glances over at Nong, who looks down and stares at the wand in his hand.

“Orcus will be a lot stronger the next time you see him. And now, his pesky cambion minion, Zabrak, has managed to enter the laboratory; Zabrak is close to restarting the ritual to break the aspect of Kyuss free, so that he can join with the Prince of Undeath. But Kyuss’s prison also offers an opportunity for us. His prison is made from the essence of the dawn of time. Hold the essence in your hand and will it to convey to you the coordinates of the location in the Positive plane where you must bath the wand. Only by defeating the aspect of Kyuss first, can you access the essence. You do not realize that you are now entering into a very, very dangerous time Drow’s Bane; a time which you may not be strong enough to handle on your own.

Which Is Why I Now Offer You, A Deal…”

The Lady of the Sixth flicks her hand outward and immediately the party feels something inside the grip of their hands. Nong, Naismith, Mordrock and Royce look down, open their hands and see a ring, made from bone and died crimson red.
“You do not have to accept my offer today. But in order to do so, each of you must break the back of the ring at the same time, this seals the deal. In response, I will call forth my army to aid you.”
“And what do you get out of this deal?”
Glasya shifts comfortably into her chaise lounge, smiles and replies, “Your Souls.”

The party goes wide-eyed and momentarily stops breathing.

Glasya reassuringly says,
“Think of it this way. I see three options for your fate:
Option One) Orcus defeats you and he raises you as zombie thralls to mindlessly walk deep in his shit for the rest of eternity…on a good day! Don’t think for a second he is not forming the strongest army that will be able to defeat you. He has learned everything from that wizard who survived your battle – like how you fight, what you cast and when. I wouldn’t be surprised if Orcus unleashed that battle on you, only so he could learn your strategies and tactics!
Option Two) You miraculously save the day all by yourselves. You somehow manage to defeat the god Kyuss, go onto defeating Orcus and his army, and then ride into the sunset, like the heroes you always dreamed to be.”
“I like option two the best in my opinion.”
“Yeah, sign me up for that one!”

Glasya scowls, rolls her eyes, and continues,
“Option Three) You get a clue, realize you are way over your mortal heads, and accept my deal. In return, you are bolstered by a powerful army familiar with how demons and the undead fight, which gives you a real chance of winning without significant cost. Remember this, I’m not interested in zombie thralls. I need lieutenants and captains to lead my army.”

She looks at her goblet while she brings it to her lips and drinks. Silence fills the room as no one speaks a word in response. When she finishes, she looks away and nods. From the darkness, the familiar imp flies into the light and past the party. The imp speaks an incantation, and a crimson portal opens up; it motions the Drow’s Bane to enter. “The Lady is done with you. Now you must go,” it says. The party enters the portal one by one and Naismith is the last to leave. He looks around and quickly uses his blindsense to read the room; he picks up several creatures lingering in the shadows and he also manages to get a glimpse of bejeweled columns and a dais before he disappears.

The party appears back in the room where Talina was left by herself. The final thing they hear Glasya’s voice say to them is,

“Welcome to Fate’s Doorstep. The door is always open.”

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: Netherise Laboratory

The metal staircase collapses upon itself forming a symbol on the floor of the entrance chamber; a slow thumping rhythm like a heart makes, can be heard in the ears of the party.
“Do you hear that sound? It sounds like a subtle heartbeat in the distance.”
“I hear it too.”
“Me too.”
“I as well. And it sounds like it’s coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”

The entrance chamber is lit by ambient light similar to the entryway outside the pyramid. The smell is stale and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but at least there is air to breathe. The party looks around and notices in their periphery, black masses in the north, east, south and west walls that wiggle to alert the party something is there; but looking directly at them reveals just blackness below four archways.

Royce casts Detect Magic and walks the square room; he picks up several different magic auras with an additional aura he’s never seen before.
“There’s a strange magic aura here that is not one of the familiar magic schools.”
“I wonder if that is what I felt all over the place outside?”
“Maybe this is related. I hope it is, Talina.”

Nong reaches out to the wand of Orcus and only feels the familiar emotions of annihilation and destruction emanating from it, nothing out of the ordinary. He moves toward the north wall and watches as the wall wiggles and recedes backward revealing another room containing several prison cells along a long hallway.
“How did you do that?”
“I just walked up to it.”
“And it just moved out of your way?”
“Let’s move quickly before that thing wiggles back into place.”

The party moves into the room and notices eight cells, four cells on the right, four cells on the left; they can still hear the heartbeat in the background. Inside every cell is a skeleton resting along the back wall, except for one cell that contains a red robed figure. Mordrock casts Eyes of the Grave and senses many undead within sixty feet. “Guys there are plenty of undead here, be on your guard,” he says.

Naismith searches the first cell door and figures out the contraption that serves as the locking mechanism; he easily unlocks it. He casts Mage Hand as his companions open the door. The wispy spectral hand moves toward the red robbed hooded figure and touches it. The figure tumbles forward, revealing a skull and bony arms, however something else is interesting here; the arms and face are covered in tiny bite marks. Naismith moves to the opposite cell, opens it and beckons Nong to move in. Nong approaches the skeleton and notices a similar thing; the skeleton’s bones are covered in small bite marks. As he moves closer to inspect the body, a ghastly spectral claw emerges from the wall and strikes him. The claw rakes across Nong’s body, stealing his breath and life force in one swoop.

The party is now alerted to the other wraiths that emerge, one from each cell, all hungry for their life force. They ready their weapons and respond. The wraiths swipe several party members, some more than once with each swipe sucking more life away. Mordrock and Royce channel their gods’ wrath and turn several of the undead, leaving the remaining few to be taken down quickly.
“Move quickly down the hallway. We need to get out of here before they return!”
The party runs down the hallway toward another black mass. As they approach, it wiggles free revealing another room. They quickly proceed into a room filled with bookcases and tables.

The spines of tomes stuffed into the bookcases are metal; pulling one out and opening it up reveals stone pages scribed with similar characters seen on the dais – all unreadable by the party. Talina pulls a few tomes from bookcases and can deduce these are not spellbooks, but maybe research journals. The party takes a moment to catch their breath and assess the impact of the battle; some party members are winded and tired as a result of being drained of lifeforce.

The party decides to take the eastern exit from this room and proceeds down a corridor that eventually turns ninety degrees south. It becomes obvious they are walking the perimeter of the pyramid’s eastern side. Mid-way down the corridor the path opens into a small room that contains an ascending staircase and they also see a black mass on the western wall.
“I bet going through that thing only takes us back to the entrance.”
“Yeah I think so too, let’s not do that, ok?”
“I vote for taking the stairs up.”
“Sure, why not. It’s not like we know where we’re going.”

Ascending the stairs feels like it takes forty minutes or more before they enter a very large room, too big to see the entire space. The first thing the party notices is the thumping heartbeat is progressively louder here. The room is filled with bookcases in every direction; each bookcase is crammed with many of the same kinds of objects; the nearest bookcase contains long swords and the next one is filled with maces, and on, and on. Talina notices under each item there is a nameplate with the familiar pattern of foreign characters no one can read. Nong breaks from the group and runs up a bookcase to get a better view; as his feet bump items along the way, the items shiver and turn to dust, too ancient to withstand the motion. Unfortunately, the bookcase abuts the twenty five foot ceiling giving Nong no advantage perspective of the room.

Royce casts Planar Ally after walking aimlessly about. He summons a deva to help them decipher the room. A tall deva appears, wearing beautiful golden armor that gives off a bright glow. Its face wears no expression until it glances over at Nong and then scowls in response. The angel carelessly glances over the rest of the party and settles on Royce; when it looks down on him, Royce can hear the angelic voice in his head,
“How may I aid you?”
“Praise be to Tempus. I seek your knowledge on what is in this room as we cannot read the language.”
The deva nods and begins to glide toward the bookcases; Royce accompanies it while the others trail behind. The deva points southeast,
“This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Conjuration.”
Pointing east, “This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Evocation.”
Naismith speaks up, “What is he saying? We here nothing,” but Royce ignores him paying attention only to the deva.
“This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Divination. The magic here no longer holds power. None of these items can help you.”
The final area the deva crosses in the northeast causes it to abruptly stop, tilt its head, and stare. Royce can hear a whisper of surprise in its voice as it says,
“Strange, the school of chronomancy.”
“Deva what is chronomancy? I’ve never heard of that before.”
“It is a lost school of magic dealing with manipulating the essence of time; too dangerous for mortal experimentation.”
The deva turns to Royce fulfilling what it came here to do and Royce gives the celestial payment for its services. As the deva departs, Royce hears one final thought from it,
“Beware of the worm that walks.”

Nong looses interest in the library tour and moves closer toward the middle of the room. He finds an open space that contains a large metal and glass contraption surrounded by metal tables; there are many tubes protruding from it, with some connected to each table. The party discovers Nong and join him near the tables. Mordrock notices an indentation the size of a humanoid on each of the table surfaces; he then looks at the contraption and puts it all together,
“People were experimented on here. The indentations suggest people were placed here and belted in.”
“Maybe this contraption has something to do with chronomancy?”
“Let’s see what it does. Hook that tube up to me,” requests Royce as he places his body on the table, fitting inside the groove. He beckons the group to puncture the sharp endpoint of the glass tube into his arm. They watch as the blood pours out toward the large contraption.

Behind Talina there is movement. She turns around and sees shapes moving quickly in their direction. She taps her staff on the ground in quick repetition to get the party’s attention as she readies herself for the worst.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: X marks the spot

A solemn mood is heavy in the cavern as the Drow’s Bane take a moment to let everything sink in. Naismith moves slowly towards the fallen scimitars and quiver, letting the tears run down his face with each step. He crouches down and grips a scimitar allowing the many memories of his dear friend to cycle through his mind. Royce moves toward the great sword, picks it up and shows it to Mordrock, who looks down, nods, and walks away. “Where did Tusker fall?” asks Nong catching Royce pointing in the direction he felled Tusker. The monk walks over, bends down and touches the ichor remains of the undead pig; he does not move for quite some time.

Talina is beside herself on one hand surviving a treacherous battle and on another, realizing this fight seemed personal to her party. She needs to talk but after reading the room, she decides instead to walk the cavern alone. It is during their short rest she finds the right moment to open up to them,
“Did you know those undead creatures?”
Royce looks at her and says plainly, “Yes. They were our friends when they were living. Although, we haven’t seen the wizard in forever and thought he was dead.”
“We never figured Orcus got to them first,” replies Naismith.
“And it’s been over ten years since I last spoke with Rupert,” says Mordrock.
“I’m so sorry. How awful of an experience and very painful to endure. Thank you for not giving up. Orcus meant to break you back there,” says Talina.
Royce, Naismith and Mordrock just barely acknowledge her with a nod before staring off again towards nowhere.

Nong returns after the short rest to announce a southern path exits from the cavern. The party gets up and slowly moves in that direction, trying to remember why they are here in the first place. Nong takes the lead followed by Naismith and enters the southern corridor. They walk for many minutes before seeing light ahead. Nong approaches cautiously and peers out to see a huge cavern with a very large building erected in the middle; the circular exterior connects to a dome ceiling penetrated by an inverted pyramid, just like the sketch on the map, where ‘X’ marks the spot. The moment takes his breadth away as realizes what stands before him; he motions the others to the entrance.
“This…this…is the place on the map!” exclaims Royce, who pulls out the map to confirm.
Naismith notices even from this distance, small holy symbols etched everywhere on the structure. He focuses on the symbols and recognizes them to be the gods Amaunator and Lathander. He remembers from teachings years past, how the keeper of the sun was never in the same time period as the morninglord; even some historians believed these two perspectives represented the same god. He points out his findings to the clerics, but they fail to make the same connection.

The Drow’s Bane make their way into the cavern, recognizing it is lit by some mysterious ambient light. Talina gasps as she feels a subtle arcane energy flowing throughout the cavern. Royce notices and reaches out to her,
“What’s wrong Talina?”
“There is arcane energy in this cavern, maybe emanating out from the building. I’m not sure, but I feel it all over me.”
“What kind of arcane energy? I hope abjuration.”
“It’s strange as it is not abjuration but I think several energies combined. It feels more concentrated as we get closer.”
Royce grabs her hand and holds it for the remainder of the walk toward the building.

They approach and Mordrock is the first to run his hands across the smooth constructed stone work. He recognizes expert craftsmanship but is unable to discern anymore clues. The party takes a moment to examine the walls but are unable to locate hidden doors or an entryway. Naismith decides to fly the circumference, to get a better understanding of its dimensions; half-way around, he spots two large stone doors that appear open. He flies past them and sees an interior room, most likely the way in.

The party makes their way around the building eventually arriving at the stone doors. Nong and Royce are first to enter. The interior showcases a large dais in the middle of the stone floor, with a polished stone center. Three stone pathways originate from the dais and journey out across the room to three huge sphinx statues; one is made from copper, another from gold and the third from obsidian. Penetrating from the ceiling into the room and stopping twenty feet above the dais, is the tip of the inverted pyramid. Naismith is the last to enter the room, when he does, his mind is flooded with a vision:

“The tip of the pyramid hangs open, with a broken bent metal staircase hanging loosely from it. An oozing mass is pushing through from the chambers above, and as you attempt to puzzle out its origins, it unceremoniously plops onto the dais – a huge ball of green worms, covered in slime and unknowable detritus.”

Naismith blinks and sees nothing out of place in the room, especially the tip of the pyramid, which is not open. He flies up to examine the tip, but besides holy symbols etched all over it, nothing else is there. Startled, he flies back to the entrance and waits next to Talina. Nong points out that in front of each statue black ichor puddles exist, “Looks like demons were here but they weren’t so lucky.”

Royce and Mordrock approach the copper sphinx and speak to it. Unfortunately, nothing happens in response. Mordrock reaches out to touch it and hears a female voice telepathically speak to him,

“What can run but never walks,
has a mouth but never talks,
has a head but never weeps,
has a bed but never sleeps”

Mordrock turns to Royce, “Whoa, I just heard its voice speak to me in a riddle.”
“A riddle? This could explain our unfortunate friends around us. They obviously didn’t solve it.”

Mordrock shouts out the riddle and the group ideates on the best answer. Eventually with some coercing, Mordrock touches the copper sphinx again and says, “A River.” The eyes of the copper sphinx open in response and begin to shine bright. The clerics standing in front of it, go wide-eyed for fear of responding incorrectly. Laser beams shoot out of the eyes, piercing the center of the dais and persist. The party looks amazed by what just happened. “Well done! I told you that was the right answer. Proceed to the gold one next,” screams Nong.

The clerics duck under the laser beams and head toward the obsidian sphinx; Royce touches this one, waiting to hear the rhyme. A male voice telepathically speaks to him in response,

“Some try to hide, Some try to cheat,
but time will show, we always will meet.
Try as you might to guess my name;
I promise”

Royce shares the riddle with Mordrock and the two discuss. When Naismith calls out, Royce shouts the riddle back to him. The group can’t decide between two answers, and Mordrock pushes Royce to answer with what he thinks is correct. Royce touches the obsidian sphinx and answers with, “Death”. The eyes light up and laser beams shoot out, hitting the center of the dais, which is now beginning to smoke from the immense heat of four lasers.

They approach the final sphinx and Mordrock reaches out an touches it. He hears a female voice telepathically say,

“Never resting never still
moving slowly from hill to hill,
it does not walk, run or trot,
all is cool where it is not”

Mordrock shouts out the puzzle and it takes the party a bit of time to choose an answer. He touches the sphinx again and says, “Sunlight”. The eyes shoot a beam of white hot light into the dais and everyone hears a rumble from the center of the room. The dais rises five feet as it consumes the last bit of light; on top of it are now ten metal channels that pour into a silver bowl in the center. On the sides of the dais are words etched into the stone, however no one recognizes the language nor able to read the writing. The party is unclear on what to do next except for Mordrock who kneels down, concentrates and calls out to Kelemvor for aid. The party waits as they observe Mordrock deep in prayer; moments later, he rises and points to the writing,
“It says ‘From the gift of life, knowledge’.”
“Then it’s clear what we must do next, ” says Nong as he cuts his hand and lets his blood pour into the channel. Immediately, Nong feels his cut hand fasten to the channel where he is unable to move it away. He bites the other hand and attaches it to a second channel.
“You must do the same, see? There are ten channels and there are five of us.”
“I’m not so sure about this,” says Talina who is reluctant to approach the dais.

Mordrock, Royce and Naismith eventually acquiesce and attach their bloodied hands to channels; they wait for Talina who has not yet joined them.
“Talina, we can’t do this without you. Please help us. We can’t go back now,” pleads Royce.
She ponders on the words, “You know we probably could have placed water into these channels, as that gifts life too.”
The others digest her comment and agree but seeing them with both hands stuck to the dais pouring out their life force, makes Talina realize that idea is too little too late. She hesitantly approaches the dais and cuts her hands.

The blood from all ten channels pours into the silver bowl; it begins to boil until red smoke rises up to meet the pyramid. The party’s hands are freed as they see the tip of the pyramid open and from within, a metal staircase descends to meet the dais. A loud voice from the pyramid begins announcing something in an unknown language. Nong comprehends the words and dashes up the stairs shouting back at the party.

“It’s going to close in 5 seconds. Hurry up!!”

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: closer to their destination

The crystal cave is absent of anyone or anything as the Drow’s Bane enter and inspect. Naismith picks up the magical horn, horseshoes and feather along with the marid’s tunic and vest. The party swims toward the back and enters each of the three corridors; each corridor leads into a small cavern where a blue-and-white shimmering portal stands in the center. Talina inspects the first portal, “I think this is a portal back to Olhydra’s location, wherever that may be.”
“I guess we must go through the portal as our next step,” says Royce.
“Is that what you remember from your images?”
“Unclear as I only see the images leading me through the crystal cave into a corridor and then darkness, but I continue to travel through it.”
“Let’s inspect the other two portals as we need to decide which one to enter,” says Naismith.

After inspecting all three portals, the Drow’s Bane decide to enter the middle one. Nong goes first, walking through the portal only to appear behind it in the same room. The others look at Nong surprised he did not vanish into the portal; after an hour of getting creative, the party is still unable to figure out how to enter. Naismith, dressed in the marid’s tunic, vest and holding a bag of mined crystals, enters the portal only to pass through it in another failed attempt.
“You see! I told you dressing up as that marid would not make much difference.”
Nong laughs, “Well you looked quite funny in its garb, so that was worth it.”

The party continues exploring the cave for clues; they comb the platform with the stone chair on it, the sacks and tools but nothing seems to unlock the portals. Eventually, Naismith inspects the back walls of the three caverns and discovers a clue; the middle cavern’s back wall is an illusion.
Naismith yells out, “Hey everyone over here!”
“What did you find?”
“This wall is an illusion. I think we are not meant to travel by portal but through this wall, which behind it is a corridor that continues.”

The party moves through the illusion, with Nong in front followed by Royce and Naismith; Talina escorts a frail Mordrock from behind. The path is a dark ten foot corridor that continues onward for hours. After four or five hours of travel, the party begins to hear strange sounds coming from up ahead; Nong can make out that two hundred feet in front of them, the corridor widens. “The corridor is widening ahead, maybe into a cavern of some sort,” says Nong.

The strange sounds are getting louder, however no one is affected by their magical luring. The Drow’s Bane approach the cavern entrance. On the ceiling are two huge sea anemone creatures, who are making the noise; their long tentacles reach out into the cavern below them. The party realizes they can crawl along the center of the floor to avoid coming into contact with the tentacles. On the opposite side, the pathway continues into darkness.

Everyone successfully crosses the cavern and continues down the path. By the end of the day, they notice the water has become cloudy and tainted making it more difficult to swim through; the corridor also widens again. Thanks to last night’s Heroes Feast, no one is poisoned by the tainted water. Nong sees a few dark shapes swimming towards them. He signals to the group and the party grips their weapons preparing for danger. A large fiendish creature appears before Nong, taking him by surprise. The fiend’s gurgling voice speaks in abyssal, “Nong Sung Roc, it is time to come home. Surrender the wand to me now then we will kill your comrades together.”

Nong looks back at the party, who stare back at him wondering what is being said. Nong answers the fiend, “Send the master my regards,” and attacks. The fiends screech and spit acid at the party. One fiend attacks Nong while the other sprays the party with acid spit. When Nong kills the first fiend with quivering palm, the other attempts to flee, only to be caught by Royce’s sentinel attack. In short time, the second fiend is nothing more than a pile of black ichor on the cavern floor.

“The path continues onward but it’s getting late, we should rest,” says Talina.
“Let me take us to the Ethereal Plane for the evening then,” replies Mordrock.
Modrock casts the spell and the party spends another night in the Ethereal Plane camped out in a fortress dedicated to Tempus, except for Nong of course.

The next day, travel continues with Nong leading the pack; for several more hours the party travels down the narrow corridor until something changes – the corridor begins to ascend. Nong, Naismith, Royce and Mordrock recall the vision implanted in their minds and it checks out with what lies ahead.
“This is right, I know it,” says Nong.
“Yes I agree, let’s quickly move on, as we may be close,” replies Royce.

Without realizing what just happened, Nong crests the water into oxygen filled darkness. He halts the group behind, as he inhales the stale cold air and then descends under water.
“There’s a large air-filled cavern above,” proclaims Nong.
Naismith swims up, “Let me have a look around.”

For the first time in many days, Naismith inhales air as he looks around, making his way onto cavernous dry rock. He now notices the foul smelling air and cold dampness of the cave but continues forward. The cavern is large with a few pathways leading out of it; he tries to recall this image from his memory but only sees darkness in his mind. Nong peers out of the water as the others follow suit. Naismith feels an extreme cold near him but does not see anything in the darkness. He pauses for a moment, as he hears the others ascend onto dry rock, then makes his way back to the party. He moves closer to a stalagmite near the water and inspects it, but finds nothing out of the ordinary; Nong, runs up another and looks out across the dark cavern.

Suddenly, there’s movement ahead and all eyes dart to the cavern center. Everyone hears the raspy voice before seeing the figure rise up from the ground, “You cannot defeat him, he’s unstoppable…you are a fool to have refused the calling back to home and now it is too late.” The shadowy figure, dressed in full plate has pale white skin and red angry eyes. Mordrock freezes, his mouth agape as he recognizes the undead creature hovering to be none other than his fellow companion of Adventurers Incorporated, the fighter known as Rupert.
“This is your last stand Nong Sung Roc, and your companions too,” as Rupert turns and stares into Modrock.
“We will take back the wand and deliver your souls to the Prince of Undeath!”
“Modrock! Who is this?” screams Naismith.
Mordrock stutters, “I…know…him. He’s…a fellow companion of mine, Rupert.”
“Not anymore it seems to me,” replies Nong as he attacks Rupert with the wand only to realize it does not respond.

Rupert draws from his back a humongous two handed glowing green greatsword. Nong see’s in his periphery another shadowy figure, forty feet up towards the back of the cavern move; the monk blinks and sees four identical shadowy figures instead of one. There’s something familiar about the robe the four figures are wearing, especially the six stars around the neckline. Nong peers at the faces and sees pale skin, angry red eyes and…high elven ears.
“Oh god this can’t be!” exclaims Nong as he dodges the fell sword swipe.
“What is it?!” shouts Royce.
Unfortunately, no one but Nong can see the invisible undead Kendall hovering above them.

Royce and Naismith close in on Rupert and attack when they hear a familiar yet broken voice from the cavern ceiling, “DROW’S BANE! YOU CANNOT DEFEAT HIM. I COULD NOT DEFEAT HIM AND NOW I SERVE HIM JUST LIKE YOU WILL!”
“No, no! That’s…” says Royce.
“Kendall…” replies Naismith as he barely misses the magical freezing cold air blasted from where the voice was heard. Everyone except Naismith, feels the bitter cold engulf and pummel them.

Rupert takes advantage of the opportunity and wounds Royce; Royce feels a gash open up from the hit and winces as the pain seems to linger longer than normal. Nong responds with a burst of quick hits to Rupert as he watches Kendall from his periphery. Before Nong can devise a plan to attack the wizard, a female voice is heard in the cavern.
“You failed to protect us, Royce and now you will be corrupted as am I. You cannot stop Him. Resistance is futile.”
Royce cries out, “This can’t be, He got to Illian too! Damn you Orcus!”

The sound of a horn being blown overtakes the cavern as the Drow’s Bane glance up toward the corrupted ranger, hovering near a stalactite. Illian waves her hand in front of her as multiple beserker spirits rise up from the floor, battle cry, rage and charge the party. The beserkers spread out and surround everyone. Talina braces herself as spiritual battleaxes hit her, the same goes for Mordrock; Naismith, now standing on top of a thirty foot stalagmite, looks wide-eyed as several beserkers fly up and attack him.

As if things could not get worse, the party hears an unnatural squeal as the large undead boar companion, Tusker, charges from the shadows and flattens Royce. The party screams in response, “Nooooo!!!! He got to Tusker too!”

A crackling sound is heard from the cavern floor and Nong is nowhere to be found. Naismith is the first to see the quadruple Kendall appear for the first time; he fires an arrow at the wizard and sees the quadruple become a triple. “Damn YOU!” screams Naismith. Kendall pulls a star off his neckline and flings it toward Naismith; the star flies toward the rogue transforming into seven darts that connect with their target causing Naismith much pain.

Royce, surrounded by Rupert and beserkers, casts Spiritual Guardians which do not last for long once Kendall takes notice; the wizard immediately dispels Royce’s spell leveling the playing field once again. Mordrock and Talina, surrounded by beserkers, use their magic to hit as many enemies as possible but are quickly interrupted by Kendall’s countering. The battle is difficult for the Drow’s Bane, but they eventually get a moment of respite as Royce takes down Rupert and his nasty two-handed sword of wounding.

Meanwhile, Nong stares up at labyrinthine walls he finds himself in. He is confused as to how he got here but sprints down one of the paths hoping to quickly return to the fight. Unfortunately, he does not get his wish.

Illian sends lightning arrow after lightning arrow towards Royce; the damage fries the cleric who is now badly wounded. Seeing how Mordrock’s healing spell was interrupted by Kendall, Royce takes a risk and casts Mass Heal; Kendall pauses and lets the healing spell occur, realizing he may need an escape. The tide begins to turn, like it has in previous battles, once the warm healing energy washes over everyone, restoring them to full health. With a new sense of confidence, the Drow’s Bane press on as beserkers begin to dwindle in numbers. Naismith gets another good hit on Kendall making him a double from a triple.

And then…Tusker is the next to fall by Royce’s blade.

Illian lets out an unnatural scream in response and instantly vanishes from her position to appear next to Royce striking him with both scimitars, vanishes and appears next to Mordrock attacking him, followed by Talina and finally Naismith. Illian reappears five feet from Talina, who sees the undead ranger covered in bloody tears streaming down her face. Naismith and Royce pounce on the ranger and quickly take her down; as Illian falls she looks at Royce and Naismith and whispers, “thank you for freeing me…”

Kendall quickly understands he is outmatched as the party moves toward his location. He proclaims,
“You are stronger than I thought Drow’s Bane but I have learned a lot from you today. We will meet again!”
Moving his hands in front him, Kendall finishes the last words of a spell causing everyone to instantly freeze in time. He flies toward the ceiling, casts another spell and vanishes.

Seconds later, time returns to normal as the party almost collides into Nong, who looks happy to be back in the fight.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: the path leads to a cave

A two hundred fifty feet by two hundred fifty feet tidal wave erupts from the watery draconic mouth and washes everyone away, except for Royce, who manages to be the last one out of the shipwreck. Royce glances up and sees the gigantic draconic mouth attached to a body now forming out of the churning water; he also sees his party, including Talina and the sea worms, pushed fifty feet away behind an immense tidal wave.

Royce swims out of the shipwreck and begins casting offensively at the Leviathan elemental, being mindful of anything following him out of the shipwreck. Everyone else is pummeled by the tidal wave force as it pushes them another hundred feet; some attempt to swim through it but are not strong enough to withstand its power. Eventually the sea worms can’t take the constant pummeling and collapse. Naismith attempts to swim up the wall in hopes he can crest it while Mordrock uses his magic staff to create vines that extend from the staff, through the tidal wave and toward the Leviathan, successfully grappling it. Talina casts Control Water to form a pocket around herself and Mordrock, enabling them to swim through the wave.

The Leviathan elemental is strong and wild, lashing out at everyone in its reach. At one hundred fifty feet out, the tidal wave begins to lose steam; Nong and Naismith finally manage to crest it and swim toward the party. When Nong is in range, he uses the wand to unleash a fury of skeletons that descend upon the elemental. Eventually, the Leviathan cannot withstand the multitude of attacks and spells cast upon it, that it dissolves and flees.

The party regroups to assess the situation. Royce and Naismith focus on opening the metal box; except it is rusted shut requiring brute strength over nimble fingers. Royce manages to pull it open, finding inside several gems and a horn of blasting.

The party continues their journey forward, following the images in their mind as best as they can given the unfamiliar environment. Each night they take a long rest in the Ethereal plane inside a mighty temple dedicated to Tempus; except for Nong who inhabits Daern’s instant fortress further away. During the first night, Nong senses someone near; when he opens his eyes, he sees staring down at him the red demonic face he has met before. The red face attached to a demonic body and bat wings, looks down and whispers in abyssal, “It’s time for you to come home Nong Sung Roc, even though you are feeding the master quite well these days.” Nong quietly reaches for the wand as he remains silent staring back at the fiend.

Inside the temple, Mordrock on watch, sees the being hovering over Nong and stirs the others to wake, as he gets up and runs toward the instant fortress; by the time he arrives, the being is gone.
“Who or what was that Nong?”
“Someone we met in Fort Morninglord.”
“What did he say to you?”
“Nonsense. When I reached for the wand to kill him, he disappeared.”
When the others arrive, Mordrock describes what he saw and everyone stares at Nong for a response; Nong shrugs, rolls over and returns to sleep.

Two days later they see ahead of them an entrance to a large cave, five hundred feet away. They swim closer and see four water-shaped beings standing guard around the entrance. The Drow’s Bane confirm the images in their minds resemble this cave which persuades them to get closer. Talina suddenly halts the group,
“Those look like myrmidons, elemental guardians,” as she squints her eyes to get a closer look at them.
“They are wearing the symbol of…Olhydra, the evil princess of water elementals. This is not good,” she says.
“We have no business with Olhydra or her minions, we just need to parley and be escorted through the cave,” replies Royce.
Talina looks at him, “I hope you are correct, Royce, that it will be that easy.”

The Drow’s Bane make a plan: Nong, Naismith and Talina will sneak up above the cave entrance and conduct reconnaissance, while Royce and Mordrock swim directly toward the cave entrance to parley. When the four myrmidons notice Royce and Mordrock, they swim toward the clerics and form a line blocking them. “We come to parley, we do not mean harm,” says Royce.

Two of the myrmidons break off and swim back into the cave. Moments later, Nong, Naismith and Talina above the cave entrance, see four huge shark heads emerge, along with a marid and the two myrmidons. Talina’s eyes grow wide as she sees the huge sharks swim toward Royce and Mordrock.

Naismith takes advantage of the situation and successfully sneaks into the cave, remaining hidden amongst the ceiling. The cave is immense and its walls are covered in glowing crystal that illuminate the cave. Some sea elves mine the crystal walls while others, carrying bags full of crystal, swim toward corridors in the back. In the middle, stands a platform with a stone chair on top of it.

Royce and Mordrock wait for the marid to approach them while the four huge sharks surround the clerics; their toothy maws just ten feet away on all sides. Royce, who already casted Tongues on himself, greets the marid, “Well met, we are seeking an escort through your cave. We do not mean harm and come in peace.”
The marid stops in front of Royce, looks him up and down, and says, “this mine is property of Olhydra, the elemental princess of this domain. You cannot pass through her property, ” proclaims the marid.
“We come in peace,” responds Mordrock.
“Yes, we carry a great burdon, the wand of Orcus, and we must destroy it, to rid the multiverse of its evil. Through that cave is what leads us to complete our mission,” says Royce, “here, let us offer you things as payment,” as he takes out the Horn of blasting, the Horseshoes of speed, and Qualfeather’s Feather Token and hands them to the marid.

The marid receives the gifts delightfully and spends a moment to examine them; it realizes each gift is highly valuable. Unfortunately, Royce’s deliverance of the deal proved flat to the marid. It looks at the four huge sharks, then the four myrmidons and back at the two humanoids, before responding,
“Be gone from here, I don’t want to see your faces ever again!” then turns and begins swimming back toward the cave. Royce and Mordrock watch as the marid retreats with their belongings without accepting their deal. Royce scowls, unsheathes his sword and attacks!

The marid pays no attention to the squabble behind it nor does it see Naismith’s surprise attack. The rogue is quick to slash deep into the marid, spilling blood everywhere. The marid, so startled, turns invisible and attempts to flee into the cave, but as soon as he moves a thunderous sound erupts from his space, causing more damage to itself. Sea elves begin to scream, dropping their tools and fleeing toward the corridors. Naismith swims into the cave and yells out in common, “Free Yourselves!”

Nong can see the invisible marid swimming quite fast in retreat. Unable to catch up to it, he pulls out the wand of Orcus, points it at the marid and commands in abyssal. Instantly, the marid freezes in mid-swim, collapses, and dissolves into water; leaving only its clothes and the party’s magic items behind.

Outside, Royce and Mordrock are encumbered by swarms of shark bites and myrmidon trident swipes. Naismith casts Faerie Fire on the group lighting up several sharks, myrmidons and Mordrock too. With Mordrock shining brightly, the sharks instinctively continue to attack the bright bleeding object, biting off chunks after chunks of Mordrock’s body, until he falls. Naismith is able to restore him to life briefly, but Mordrock succumbs to further shark bites, tearing the dwarf apart from limb to limb.

The party eventually defeats the sharks and myrmidons at the cost of one of their own. The party spends time opening shark stomachs and collecting Mordrock pieces and lays them in a pile. Royce counts the limbs and body parts and feels enough is there for him to cast Raise Dead. The spell takes effect, sealing wounds and restitching arms and legs until the body of Mordrock lay whole again in front of them. Naismith is ready to cover his head with the Cap of Waterbreathing once the spell completes. As Mordrock opens his eyes, he takes in breath and looks around, quite weak and frail from the horrifying experience.

The party smiles as they look down on their revived comrade. “Help him up,” says Royce as the party embraces their companion and swims toward the cave entrance.