Emergency in the town, Jacksons men are going missing, and there’s something in the woods, is it a Cannith vanguard, or another monstrosity to contend with? We need to head out there with a group, shore up our defenses and figure out what’s happening.
While measuring our options, Radu appears at the door, and ushers us over, he says he knows the identify of Felix’s love, but it’s a very sensitive subject, he says that he can get a message, begrudgingly Roza describes the process for freeing Felix and hands over the ring,
Con’nor isn’t completely convinced and asks Nimea to send some members of the Court of Rats to keep an eye on him.
The party ventures off into woods, with some sending stones and a group of Jacksons men, three in total, as we walk into the woods, not many minute pass before the forest gets darker and darker, the sounds of the woods quietening to a whisper, and then nothing at all.
We turn to find one of the Lumberjacks, Billy, has vanished, back tracking we try to find a trace of him, we find bootprints, something dragged him away deep into the woods. Following the tracks we feel a strange presence coming out into a clearing, we see Billy, pinned to a tree, a bone spur suspending him from the ground.
Trying to help him to the ground, we see an enormous eye open up on his chest, this looks familiar.
I try and describe to the party our encounter in the Vault beneath the Outpost, and how Roza made the gem of seeing, Growbeck puts it up to his eye and looks around the clearing, he furiously swings his axe and tells us he took out one of the eyes, he keeps looking, this won’t do his paranoia any good.
There’s the sound of sobbing, it gets louder and louder, out of the gloom three creatures appear, they’re around six feet tall and have five arms, with a spine projecting from each. One rushes towards Pete the Carpenter, and encloses him in its limbs, killing him instantly.
We take defensive positions as another creature appears, larger and more ferocious than all of the others, this one looks like the creature we fought beneath the vault, that the Mighty Vonmond suplexed, that time we barely escaped with our lives.
It fires enormous bone spikes from its skin, like a harpoon, I catch one on my shield and parry another with my hammer, but the last pierces me near the shoulder and it begins to try and reel me in.
Con’nor misty steps behind it and cuts into it with a divine smite, taking a limb, Roza is grappled by one of the other creatures as it tries to enclose her with its spike limbs.
Growbeck cuts into another and begins carving away with his axe, forcing it back. I break free of the grapple and call my Spiritual weapon, as the last lumberjack, Barry, is killed.
We fight back with fury, I call down a Celestial Warrior, a mighty winged Dwarf in the service of Moradin, sent from the halls of Erackinor to battle once again, together we kill the remaining creatures, with the creature from the Vault falling to a colossal blow from my spiritual weapon. Most concerning though, the first one felled by Growbeck doesn’t leave its mark on his axe, these creatures appear to have no souls.
Con’nor and I revivify Pete and Barry, we tell them to go back the way they came and head back to the Outpost, we will head deeper into the forest and hopefully draw any other creatures away.
We follow the tracks of these creatures, leading us down by the river. We see the Cannith ships, ran aground against the barricades and spikes, their hulls breaches, covered in a spider like web of black goop.
The Airship is nowhere to be seen, we reach out to the council and Stripe responds, we tell him what we see, and say that we’ll investigate, he assures us that they’ll look after the outpost no matter what happens, he also lets us know that Radu went straight to his mansion, and has been there ever since.
We head towards the ship, I ask the Celestial Warrior to take the position of Vanguard and fly to the deck and let us know what he sees, hefting her hammer she flies off, as we approach we hear the sound of battle from where she landed, rushing up the ladder we arrive to see the splattered corpses of a number of the creatures, the Celestial Warriors energy fading, as she leaves the mortal plane and returns to the halls of Erackinor once more.
In front of us we see a swirling pattern of magical sand, it warps into the form of Isabella Cannith, this is a powerful form of communication. “Welcome aboard” she smiles, the right hand side of her face is gruesomely burned, she has Roza’s mother, Holly, captive, “You’d better come quickly.” and with that, the image fades.
We decide to quickly investigate this ship, perhaps to see the source of these creatures, we know we’re heading into some sort of trap with Isabella, better to find out what we can. Growbeck splatters another eye and clambers up to the Crows nest, he sees the Airship set down over the next rise.
Roza turns us invisible as we creep down through the ship, following signage to the lab, we turn the corner and are met with the sight of another of the large spiny monsters. This one has cruel hooks for hands, and two faces melded together. It appears to look directly at us, Roza nearly lets out a gasp, before I quieten her and pull her away.
We make our way around to the lab, there are bodies everywhere, scientists and guards, rows upon rows of black liquid line the walls. Roza starts going through the research notes, it appears that many of the scientists weren’t comfortable with the work they’d been asked to undertake, and were concerned with Isabella's increasing obsession. She isn’t in her right mind, we need to get to her as soon as possible.
Leaving the lab and heading back upstairs, the creature finds our trail and calls out, we hear the clattering of spines on metal as they careen through the ship, running as fast as we can, we clamber and sprint back to the top deck, swinging the door closed and locking it tight, barricading it with anything we could find.
We make our way across to the next ship, bodies are littered everywhere, it seems that most of the invasion force is dead, picking our way across the wreckage, we make our way through to the woods on the other side and carefully creep through the dark, the atmosphere is oppressive and it’s still half ablaze.
Upon entering the clearing, we see the Airship set down, upon the bow stands Isabella, grasping a weakened Holly Chance by one arm. Laughing maniacally, she smothers a handful of the ooze across her burned face, healing it before her eyes, casually, she flings Holly forwards. As her mother plummets towards the ground, Roza slides forwards and with a flick of her wrist casts featherfall, arresting her fall.
I charge forwards and cast hold person, but Isabella wards it off, in response, I form spiritual weapon behind her and swing it down, she uses shield as her reaction to catch the blow, in that moment, Roza warps behind her with dimension door, taking Growbeck along for the ride. Roza uses her metamagic and releases a crack of energy, blasting through her shield with disintegrate, her body barely holds together as Growbeck bears down on her.
In desperation, Isabella releases a font of magic, Growbecks body starts to wither and age before our eyes, but he doesn’t stop, he tackles her straight off the bow of the ship, together they fall, and in mid air he buries his axe into her. They crash onto the ground as Con’nor and I rush over, Isabellas body is beyond broken and Growbeck is barely with us. I call upon the divine and heal him, but his withered form remains, Isabella struck him with Time Ravage, his body is failing him, he has just 30 days to live.
We look to his axe as Isabella's soul takes shape upon it, but something is wrong, the soul is pulled away, we see the faded ethereal visage blast away towards the Outpost, they’ve built something else, raising from the ground as the spirit reaches it is a colossal titan made from exotic metals and shifting gears, the sound of powerful hydraulic pistons fill the air as it lumbers towards the outpost. Regrouping, Holly looks upon Roza, “Is this how you dress for a rescue!”
I raise my hammer and cast Word of Recall, teleporting us back to my sanctuary, we look upon the colossal metal beast, we don’t have much time. We turn to Holly, Roza asks her who Felix’s love is, we need to know so we can free him, we need as many allies as possible for this battle, Holly begins to protest, that this isn’t proper, but then she softens, she realises how desperate the situation is and tells us, “Radu is the one”.