We’re back home with Growbeck and Balthazar, but the pressure is on, the Canniths are coming and we have the Feywild crisis in full bloom.
It has been a few days since we’ve returned home, Balthazar is hard at work on the Feywild problem, confident that he can fix the problem within the week. Con’nor has been interrogating and questioning people all around town, they’ve found 3 traitors amongst the guard and Koronus’s employees.
Stripe has sent Harpies out scouting, they’ve spotted 3 Cannith steam ships and 2 airships, it’s a considerable force, but smaller than we expected. We briefly discuss tactics, Growbeck suggests a dam could slow down the steam ships, and I propose casting an area of Forbiddance, targeting the elementals powering the ships and removing their power source.
It seems House Cannith have caused uproar in the Capital after their flagrant assault on the Chance household, and they’re now fighting a political battle that’s limiting their response.
But we have another problem, communication and teleportation spells have stopped working at the outpost, similar to what happened at the Chance household prior to their assault. They seem to have another device for magical negation in place.
A war council has also been set up to come up with a response, there’s people representing multiple facets of outpost sitting upon it, Radu, Crystal Blackthorn, the Gnome Merchant Alec Growser, Nimea from the Court of Rats and Jack Stonedrift, a union leader from the logging camp. Stripe is also there representing our alliance with Grey wall, but he's not particularly interested in politics.
Fortunately the people of the Council and those in the outpost seem to be happier with us than in the past, they’ve seen how hard we've worked, and what we’ve sacrificed for them. They now seem galvanised behind a mutual purpose.
The feywild trees are still growing at an alarming rate, we’re fighting them back, but it’s a losing battle and we need Balthazar to finish what he’s working on. Shadows Sigh has been moved underground, near to the gateway that’s being assembled, he’s a little better off, but he needs to be sent home, sooner rather than later.
I’ve spent some time mourning Lodrom, still unsure whether he’s truly gone, sometimes I feel the presence from the hammer, other times I feel nothing. Lizzy’s music has been a comfort in this time, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart.
Deciding we need to do something about the magical interference, we go to Balthazar for advice, walking into his lab, we see he’s working a large stone circle, the start of a new gateway.
I try and distract Growbeck with observations on the Masonry, he’s been a wreck since returning, he’s paranoid and scared in a way I never thought possible for him. Part of me wants to blame him for the loss of Lodrom, he was alive upon our first visit to the fortress, if Growbeck hadn’t recklessly given us away, he might be here now. But upon seeing the state of him, I can’t bring myself to do so, he has been through a lot under their captivity. He’s always paranoid, locking doors behind him and putting his back to the wall.
We observe the runes Balthazar is carving, Violet recognises them as gateway runes, but with something else mixed in, she says that they’re cutting edge.
Balthazar isn’t forthcoming about their offensive forces, he says he’d normally advise to run, and that she’ll be coming for all of us. I suggest that it’s better to not spend the rest of our lives looking over our shoulder, he doesn’t seem convinced until Roza backs me up, she is a force of nature.
He says that she’s never actually come out and fought before, but he’s sure she’ll be here this time, that we’ve bloodied her nose and she’s unbelievably petty.
Roza brings up the magic interference, he says that it will be a device in town, probably quite large and likely guarded, but someone with enough arcane knowledge may be able to triangulate the location based on the extent of its effect.
Violet could probably do it, if not, Crystal probably can, Violet isn’t amused by this suggestion though, these two have a weird history.
Con’nor asks Balthazar which ship would house Isabella, I suggest it’ll probably be the nicest looking one, Balthazar says that’d probably be the case knowing her.
Roza, Growbeck and Lizzy head to the jail to question the traitors, Con’nor goes to update the council, Violet and I go to start the triangulation.
Con’nor talks to the council, but Nimea isn’t having any of it, she says if any such device existed, they would have found it. She doesn’t want a wild goose chase.
Roza, Growbeck and Lizzy are trying to get somewhere with the traitors, Roza rattles them with the ring of truth, while Lizzy plays the good cop, Growbeck drags one out of the room, to make it look like he’s going to do some very nasty things to get info, I hope he doesn’t actually go through with it.
Lizzy recognises the last, another halfling, “are you one of Lillys boys?” he looks up and nods, “oh my god, I think we’re third cousins, how is Uncle Tony?” He starts talking, but he’s terrified, he says he physically can’t talk about it.
Lizzy infers there’s some kind of magical enchantment preventing him and casts “dispel magic”, frantically he starts to talk, he says there is a traitor on the council, but he doesn’t get very far before there’s a glow, it’s coming from his mouth.
A rune has appeared on his tongue, but there’s little time to decipher it, the moment they set their eyes upon it, his entire head explodes, the viscous contents splattering Lizzy, Roza and most of the walls.
Violet and I are in the study, I’ve pulled a map of the outpost out, but I’m of little other use as Violet badgers away, marking and measuring, when suddenly we hear a message in our heads from the others, “there’s a traitor on the council!”
I turn to Violet and say I’ll go, unless she needs my help with anything else, deep in her calculations, she emphatically answers “no!” fair enough, I cast guidance on her and head off.
Con’nor was about to leave, but turns back to the council, hoping to grill them for an indication of treachery. He immediately targets Nimea, while Jack Stonedrift starts declaring “his” brilliant plan to stall the Canniths with a dam, seems like someone has been drinking with Growbeck.
Suddenly, the rest of us, sans Violet, burst in, Growbeck locking the door behind us.
“So, it seems there’s a traitor” Roza begins, it seems subtlety isn’t in order. Looking around the room, it appears that everyone is hiding something. I cast ‘Zone of Truth’, the golden outline circling the entire group, “Ah, a Zone of Truth, how splendid!” chirps Radu. “This is easy, we just need to say the following, I am not a traitor, see, easy”
I say that’s basically right, but we just might need to add the caveat, that there are no loyalties to the Canniths or any other force attempting to bring harm to the outpost. This filters through the room and one by one the council members seem to pass the test. But there seems to be someone missing, where is Stripe?
All of a sudden Violet appears, the huge map of outpost clutched in her hand, she’s triangulated to location of the magical interference to the Library, Crystal scoffs “very good work… for you”, these two can’t seem to get over their childhood rivalry.
Nimea says they’ve check that area, but found nothing. We decide we have to see for ourselves, leaving the chamber, Growbeck takes the time to scowl at the council, Jack Stonedrift in particular, shrinks back.
On the way we cast ‘Locate Person’ to look for Stripe, he’s far to the south, in the Forests.
Arriving at the Library we start the search, a paranoid Growbeck pulling a bookcase in front of the door.
We look and look to no avail, Di doesn’t have any insights either, but she says that she hasn’t been able to reach out to her penpal, the Gelatinous Cube she shared the Cannith workshop with, from when we first met.
We climb the top floor of the library and head out onto the roof, noticing a glow from the alleyway next door, the magical doorway that leads to the pocket dimension containing her magical, magnificent mansion.
We hurry over and knock, Crystal lets us in, the inside is a vast field with a strange stone pillar in the centre, pulsing with a dangerous magic, Growbeck starts to charge straight towards it, I reach out with hold person and keep him in place, this is dark magic we don’t understand, it could kill him and the rest of us if we’re not careful. Crystal says it appeared this morning, but she doesn't remember how.
At that moment, a burning, bright rune appears on Crystals forehead, Violet recognises the arcane symbol as a memory modification. Crystal looks at us, her demeanor is completely different, “It’s wonderful to finally meet you as the real me” she was the spy all along, and she went to incredible lengths to hide it.
She holds out her palm and projects a fierce ‘cone of cold’ catching a number of number of us and forcing us back. The floor morphs around us and draconic creatures appear. Violet tries to cast ‘Wall of Fire’, but it’s counterspelled by Crystal. A lightning bolt thunders from Roza’s palm as she destroys a number of the creatures.
Con’nor misty steps behind Crystal and carves into her with a divine smite, Growbeck charges forwards to continue the violent assault, she recoils in pain and teleports across the room and responds with a lightning bolt of her own.
I call upon ‘spiritual guardians’ and charge into battle with a number of the draconic creatures, eventually destroying them with ‘word and radiance’ and ‘spiritual weapon’. Lizzie is busy slinging a spiritual weapon of her own, when one of the creatures breaks past, it goes to strike, but ice forms over her arm, reflecting back at the creature, freezing it in place, before it shatters a moment later. She blacks out for just a moment, but from the darkness looms a face, a Slaadi, like those we faced at one of Balthazar’s labs, then her consciousness is back, looking over the remains of the shattered draconic creature.
Violet prepares a fireball, but the moment it reaches her fingertips it is aggressively counterspelled by Crystal, but in that moment, Roza launches her own, the powerful blast crashes into Crystals, blowing her back, singed and angry she desperately staggers to her feet.
Looking around, she realises she has little strength left to fight, instead she releases all of her power in a single mighty spell, ‘Timestop’, everything freezes around us as Crystal dashes for the exit, as she leaves, she turns off the magnificent mansion spell, shutting down the interference rune and ejecting us.
We’re shot out into the alley, along with detritus from the mansion, I rush over to the visibly distressed Lizzy, something terrible has happened, she is infected by a Slaadi egg, when wounded by a Slaadi, they can infect you, with the egg gestating deep inside until it bursts out, nearly always with fatal effect.
We checked everyone over after our battle with them, but there didn’t seem anything wrong, I try casting ‘lesser restoration’, that would normally work in this situation, but not now, whatever happened to those Slaadi, they’re more dangerous, and their parasitic larvae are almost completely undetectable.
We have the Cannith force bearing down upon us, and now one of our own is facing pending mortal doom.