Another great week, it's all getting very morally grey now, and there was cool character work and contradicting ideals in play. Cheers to Adam and the party.
Kharduum Steepmine (Hill Dwarf Cleric)
Vonmond (Dwarf fighter)
Kamakani (Half Elf Paladin)
Roza Chance (Tiefling Sorcerer)
Ichabod (Human Wizard)
Kem Bir (Dragonborn Paladin)
It's been peculiar in the outpost since our ordeal down in the vault facing the unknown horror, there is a haunting atmosphere surrounding us. Vonmond has noticed that Di has been standing at the edge of the Outpost at night staring into the sky, when questioned, she just said that she likes it, and that it's nice to like things. This spark of life is unnerving to some, but I'm glad to see new life being formed. I used my power to help her shape her being into this new body, maybe my power over the life domain led to this, or maybe it was always there and is just now coming to the surface.
People are getting hungry as food supplies are getting dangerously low, and strange sounds have been heard out in the forest.
Ichabod has been sequestered away, reaching out to his contacts and researching House Cannith, apparently there has been a power struggle amongst the siblings, and they have been sending out auditors to check on their workshops.
Di also mentioned seeing a vast city surrounded by mist through the telescope in the workshop vault, just 5 days ride from the Outpost, how was this never seen before?
Since the ordeal, I have been down in the vault, looking after the people whose lives were lost, I reposed all 60 people to preserve their bodies until we can find a way to return them to life, we are also reliant of the material costs of such an act and currently only have the resources for half.
As the evening draws in, we are sat in the Almshouse pondering our next course of action, when we hear a hubbub, about 20 villagers are outside, they are desperate to know what we are doing with the people in limbo. Kamakani tries to convince them that I am looking after them as best as I can until we find a way to return them to life. They are skeptical, but disperse for the time being.
Vonmond wants to go to the city Di saw, as we discuss it, we agree this is the best next course of action, we need to see up trade to prevent starvation, and I really want to find a divine mind to help with our resurrection situation.
The party sets off at first light, Ichabod has furnished us with healing potions for the journey, crafted using the equipment from the vault.
The first couple of days are relatively uneventful, but the environment is disconcerting, steaming ice and cold fire.
On the third day, a thick mist envelopes us, we cannot see its end. As the day came to a close, I found us a covered canopy in the bush, we slept while Kem and Kamakani alternated a night's watch. A few hours into the second watch, Kamakani heard a strange sound from the mists, something unnatural.
We were all woken. Ichabod, Kamakani and I headed out to investigate, the swamp was thick and dark, Kamakani fell deep into the turgid water before coming up, gasping at the stench.
We made it back to the road, but couldn't find any trace of the sounds origin, or any tracks.
Back at the camp, Vonmond heard a whooshing noise and saw a creature of billowing smoke, he tries to talk to it, but it reached out an arm towards him as Kem watched in horror, Roza was buried so deep in a book, she didn't even notice this happening, Vonmond quickly kicked out the fire, and the creature vanished.
When Kamikani, Ichabod and I returned, Vonmond described the creature, Kem recognised it as a Wraith, an undead creature, the ghost of an evil individual, controlled by another or tied to a place.
Kem still needed to rest, so Ichabod cast an alarm around our campsite.
Once everyone had sufficiently we rested, I cast Augury in the dawns light, asking Moradin for guidance, I was hit by a vision, black wisps of smoke shooting through clouds of white, moving towards an Obsidian Tower. Ichabod was shocked that I could literally contact a divine power, his incredulity faded as I told the party what I had seen.
Perhaps the only way was forwards, though the mist to the city on the other side, there's no turning back now.
As we move on from the campsite the Marsh makes way to black sands, and the mist begins to roll back, we start to see shapes as the fog thins, 10 creatures surround us, and start laughing. Gnolls, pack creatures that fought under demons during the abjuration.
Kamakani spots the leader and asks if we can pass, telling them that we mean no harm, the leader laughs and say that we can go back the way we came, Kamakani mentions trade, perhaps this was a mistake as the leader starts demanding what we have. Vonmond steps in front, his air of nobility unmistakable, he implores the Gnoll leader to listen, that we are serious, but don't want to fight. The Gnoll ponders for a moment, then instructs us to follow, it's not a choice, unless we want to resort to violence.
A few hours later the mist opens up further, we see a desert of grey sand surrounding an Obsidian City, farmlands ploughed by "monsters", demon like creatures flitting through the sky. It's uncanny, seeing "monsters" working together like this. We're informed that this place is called Greywall, the entry to the region of Droaam, and that the Lord Regent is called Pro'Bass.
As we approach the gates, we think we see humanoids, but it's quickly apparent they are changelings. Great Trolls open the gates, and we enter, the city is immaculate, the craftsmanship unparalleled by anything I've seen. We are led through the city to a black obsidian tower and ushered inside to a large featureless chamber. "Welcome to the court of the Lord Regent" the Gnoll leader, Stripe remarks.
Stood at the far end is a robed figure, slim, tall and still. He slowly turns and lowers his hood, a purple tentacled face looks at us, we hear a voice, not physical, but coming from within our own heads. "I hope your welcome wasn't too distressing"
He is a Mind Flayer, they tend to exist in colonies and operate as a hive mind, but it's not too unusual for them to be solitary.
"I felt your presence as soon as you entered the mist, I am a representative of the Sisters of Sora'Kell, the leaders of Droaam."
The Lord Regent advises us that the city formed in the wake of the Abjuration, that the "monsters" formed together after the failures of the so called civilised race. That the people of this city came together under his stewardship, he can hear the minds of all within the city and insure harmony.
He says that he is aware of our situation and knows of what we have stashed away at the Outpost and that there is potential for trade. I ask if there is a divine order here, where there is a way of helping our indisposed guild members, he says that they have ways, but we need to come to terms first.
But he proposes a test, a Blacksmith hobgoblin (Jesu) has disappeared and Pro'Bass can't sense him, if we can find him, we might be worthy of dealing with.
As we leave, Kamakani and Ichabod start arguing, Ichabod is extremely suspicious and can't tolerate the idea of monsters like this, but Kamakani insists that we need trade lest we all die. Their argument reaches a pitch before Roza cries out "STOP IT! We can't do this here, Pro'Bass can hear our very thoughts and we don't have much choice"
We make our way towards the blacksmiths and head through a Bazaar, full of exotic sights, smells and sounds. Kamakani orders a burger from a Troll, but isn't impressed when the Troll throws his own arm on the grill, a great business venture from a regenerating creature.
As I look around the city I notice shrines and carvings, of 3 women, one young, one adult and one elderly. The sisters of Sora'Kell, a coven of hags maybe, their powers amplified when they come together.
We reach Jesu's workshop, manned by Lazlo, his apprentice, he looks like a pale dwarf, I approach and greet him in Dwarvish, but he doesn't respond, he says that he isn't a Dwarf, he's working on a curved sword, reeking of malevolent energy. When questioned, he just says that he's not seen Jesu for a few days, that he's probably seeing his mistress, a Gnoll called Vardu, already married to Stripe.
Roza, Ichabod and I go to check his quarters, I start a ritual to detect magic while the others search, Ichabod finds a lipstick covered hankerchief, the imprint wide and canine. Roza manages to find a hidden letter imploring Jesu to visit as she's not seen him for weeks, and that her packmate doesn't know.
I finish my ritual, but find nothing magical, as we leave we ask Lazlo about the note, he says that Vardu's friend dropped it off a few weeks ago, and tells us where in the city Vardu lives. Vonmond tries to trade for the sword, but Lazlo just laughs.
We decide to head to Jesu's local tavern first, as it's nearby. As we leave, Ichabod looks back, for a moment he sees Lazlo as something as else, purple faced, sharp teeth and yellow eyes, appearing much larger than he was, then the image was gone.
The Inn was before us, a large sign called it "The Obsidian Tower" a large ogre gets thrown through the window, he dusts himself off and heads back inside.
The party follows suit, it looks like a typical tavern inside, just filled with an even more motley mix of patrons than you'd normally see. I approach the Barkeep and order ales for those who want them, Vonmond, Kem and myself, I strike up a conversation with the Orc barkeep while Kamakani goes to question the patrons. The barman doesn't know much and Kamakani is having even less luck, the patrons openly mocking him and "accidently" spilling ale onto his already stinking armour, but he notices a goblin trying to slyly dart out of the back door, he shouts at us to follow as he gives chase, I ask the barkeep what's through the door "None of my business" he shrugs. I quickly quaff my ale and follow.
As we head through the door, it opens into a large clearing, a field. Ichabod stops to take stock of the situation and notices it is an illusion, the rest of us are too far ahead though and thud into a wall, cracks in the illusion forming.
Our hands grip the wall, feeling fabric, as well pull it aside we smell incense and see a room full of soft furnishings, monsters seemingly drugged, the goblin is there, as is Jesu.
A woman appears behind us, her face covered by a porcelain mask. She says that they come here for a place where the Lord Regent can't hear their thoughts, that it's free from his presence. If we leave the Regent will know where this is and jeopardise their safe space, Vonmond says that we don't want to fight and asks if there is anything else we can do, she says to can block our memories with a potion she makes from her blood, but that we must promise to never return to this land. We ask her if there's anything else we can do, that there are lives relying on us and if we return empty handed then many will die.
The masked woman isn't pleased with this response and says it's too late now, that we cannot leave.
Suddenly Ghostly Specters fill the room and surround us.
Vonmond saw the outside of this room and knows it's a wooden structure, he runs for the back wall, past the masked woman, but her sword is already drawn, she strikes, finding a gap in his armour, her blade cuts into his side, he doesn't break stride and makes it to the back wall, furiously cutting into it with his axe. A small beam of light brightens to room, a couple of the Spectres by Roza and Kem shriek in the light, but remain in place.
Roza tries to get an angle on the back wall to hit it with Firebolt, but between the Specters and the carnage, she doesn't get the purchase she hoped. The strange woman lifts her mask and catches Kamakani's eye, she's a Medusa and hits him full force with her gaze, he goes rigid as his body starts turning to stone. She turns and moves over to Vonmond trying to stop him from further damaging the back wall.
The big skelga of a specter and his ugly pal come at me from the back of the room, I fend one off with my shield, but the big one thrusts a spectral hand into me, grabbing at my soul, but I've got soul for days, and it's pledged to Moradin you krugg.
I turn my head and focus on the Medusa, casting hold person, I paralyse her, then summoning my spiritual weapon, Moradins smithing hammer in a spectral form, I smash the specter with a mighty blow.
Kem calls upon his Oath of Vengeance and inflicts bane upon the Medusa and 2 of the spectres.
Ichabod uses misty step to teleport out of the melee, he hits the Medusa with 3 full blasts of scorching Ray inflicting massive damage, Vonmond swings his axe behind him, slicing into her with full force, before Roza catches her with Mind Sliver, inflicting Psychic damage. She looks stunned and weakened, but somehow manages to break out of the hold.
One of the specters gets past Roza's defense and wounds her terribly.
As I'm fending off the Spectres with my shield, I power up my hammer with a guiding bolt and hit the big one point blank with radiant energy, completely disintegrating it, before slamming my spectral hammer into the other one.
Kem powers up his Scimitar with Divine favor and cuts clean through another specter.
Suddenly the Gnolls from before storm into the room, surrounding and tearing apart one of the specters as they go.
Vonmond viciously lashes out at the Medusa, giving her quite the haircut as he carves a number of the snakes from her head. Roza turns invisible and dashes to safety.
The Medusa backs away screeching, "You don't know what you've done here!" before opening a magical door in the air, she dashes through it, teleporting away, as the fight ends I begin to heal the wounded.
Stripe and the Gnolls lead us away, back to the Regent, he advises us that we can now make a deal, they will supply us with food in exchange for magical components from the vault. I inquire about healing our guild members, he says that they will have to be sent to the city as their healers won't leave the city, however, Lazlo will return with us to aid us with his craft.
A crone restores Kanamaki from his petrification, and we set off back home. Ichabod isn't happy, he says that a trade deal with monsters will jeopardise us politically, especially with auditors on the way. Kamakani argues that if we don't do this then the entire outpost will starve to death. My main priority is helping those that can still be saved, I'm not experienced enough with the Capital to understand the political ramifications, and while the deal and the Lord Regent makes me uneasy, I have to prioritise saving the lives I can.
When I returned I set about reposing the bodies again, it takes less than a day for them all, then I'm going to approach the next of kin and closest friends of each, informing them that their loved ones can be brought back, but they have to be taken to Greywall for this to happen, but the choice is theirs alone. I'm also building a covered shelter for Lazlo to ply his trade.
It's up to the outpost whether they accept the deal when the wagons arrive. But nothing about this feels straightforward.