Terrifying toads and train side shenanigans, we find ourselves on the wrong side of Cannith carnage once again.
Kharduum Steepmine (Hill Dwarf Cleric)
Vas (Human Sorcerer)
Violet (High Elf Wizard)
Lizzy (Halfing Bard)
Growbeck Boniface (Mountain Dwarf Fighter)
Dusty (Gnome Druid) Representative of the Pointertown Detective Agency
Since rescuing Lazlo we've been searching for a capable Artificer, but so far we haven't managed to find anyone with the expertise for our particular problem. We hear rumours that Balthazar Cannith has gone missing and Isabella is keen to locate him. We've also received a peculiar map from Lizzy's patron, Radhu, it seems to show the locations of a number of old Cannith workshops, apparently he got it from an auction in a far off city.
Of the 4 shown locations, one isn't accessible by the newly established trainline, one is apparently very dangerous as powerful magic permeates the surrounding landscape, one is in a populated area we know little about, and the one Violet knows about is in Greenacre, by a small rural village, that was potentially experimenting with access to the Limbo plane. We make this our destination and jump on the train.
Violet decides to head to first class for a snoop, and manages to bluff her way past the guard along with Lizzy using minor illusion, while Vas gets there with the help of an invisibility spell. Dusty and I are content in the economy carriage, and I strike up a conversation with train worker on his way home, he says that armoured Cannith troopers have been using the train line to get all over the country, he says that they're bad news and they have weird powers, he says a colleague was thrown through a window in a bar fight by one of them, with only the power of their mind.
Somewhere further down the carriage, Dusty is trying to steal magical items from an Aarakocr, but her keen eyes are more than a match for Dusty and she has to back off, empty handed.
Vas uses message to get into contact with Dusty, she seems to have encountered a carriage full of these troopers, after some miscommunication, we manage to establish the stakes, we probably need to make sure these troopers aren't going to the same destination as us.
Lizzy starts playing and gets the first class carriage bumping as a distraction, while everyone tries to figure out a plan to get the troopers to leave, luck seems to be on our side though, as they get up to leave, at least the train passengers got treated to a free gig from Lizzy the Dragonslayer, scourge of the Slime King.
We eventually arrive at our destination, and as we enter the small village, twee and rural, with perfect Thatch roofed cottages, we're greeted by a halfling, huge ginger mutton chops and a smile adorning his face. We're ushered into the Green Dragon pub, and Growbeck quickly settles in with an ale or three. We learn his name is Walter and Vas asks if he's heard about any artificers, he says not, but he is aware of the nearby workshop, and asks if we're adventurers, he is very excited to learn that we are.
Walter says that the nearby workshop has been producing eerie sounds, we ask if anyone from the village has been near, but he insists that they aren't the adventuring types and have all stayed away, it's still early, so we head off towards the location marked on our map. It doesn't take long to reach, we reach the crest of an incline and look down, a vast door is set into the side of the next hillside. We make our way down and Dusty approaches the door, it doesn't appear to be locked or protected in any way, very suspicious.
We open the door and head inside, it is similar in layout and construction to the other Workshops we've visited, Growbeck leads the way, in the distance we hear clanking noises, they sound like automatons, similar to the ones we've seen used before.
As Growbeck advances he notices a shift in the air, particles caught in the light, he pulls back just in time as the tunnel shatters, a perfect sphere is carved in all directions, must be more than 30 feet across. At the bottom is a pool of strange liquid, I pull an apple out of my rations and throw it into the water, it rises, suspended in a wall of force, Violet and Vas recognise these occurrences as Wild Magic, Growbeck starts grabbing rope and pitons, I do the same and together we start construction, forming a rudimentary bridge system around the sides of the wall to get us to the other side. The rest of the party pass the time by throwing objects into the pool, triggering a number of magical effects including Thunder. We pass through a memory airlock, like under our guildhall, the doors are broken so we continue without issue.
We enter a large room with a spectacular looking machine in the centre, it has six hand slots like the airlock, but looks like it serves a very different purpose, it's a vast cylinder, with hydraulic tube and presses moving up and down. The whole place is thick with Wild Magic, this is linked to Limbo, a plane of chaos, always in flux. Lizzy find some notes from Balthazar Cannith, it seems that this is his facility and from the looks of it, he's a capable Artificer. Vas discovers that Slaadi, giant toad like beings escaped from this location some time ago.
We hear the machine start to rumble, we can feel the magic raising the hair on the back of our necks, when suddenly there a loud crash, I look at Violet, as the hair suddenly falls from her head, an unfortunate affect of the Wild Magic, I throw my hands to my precious beard, thank Moradin, it's still there. The rest of us seem unaffected, but we may need to act fast before the machine goes off again.
As we're investigating, Dusty and Growbeck start calling into the void as Vas and Lizzy start searching through the paperwork, they find that this used to be Balthazars facility, and that a number of Slaadi, large toad like creatures, native to limbo have escaped. Upon hearing this, Dusty ribbits into the void, we hear the automatons stop, turn then and charge out of the darkness.
One of them crashes into Lizzy, landing some devastating blows and bringing her to the ground. Growbeck goes on the offensive and Dusty transforms into the form of a wolf, savaging one. I summon my Spiritual Hammer and crash it into the other, I run over and start healing Lizzy, bringing her back to consciousness.
Growbeck down one of the Automatons, its form appearing on his magical axe, it seems non-biological beings are also captured by its magic. The other falls to a combined assault, but it's not the time to celebrate a victory, the machine winds up once more and unleashes a terrifying aura, most of the party over overtaken by magical terror and and take leave of their senses, screaming and fleeing.
I pray to Moradin and cast dispel magic with everything I have, there's a lurch and the machine stops, the afflicted regaining their faculties.
Together, Vas and I start investigating the machine, finding that it agitates the space between planes, and that the six hand panels were added later, if we had of used them we'd have been trapped in place, to what end we're not sure, forced transportation maybe, all we know for sure, is that it wouldn't have ended well.
With nothing else to find, we make our way out, I take the memory stone as we go, it could come in useful seeing as we had to trade many of our reagents previously.
Walter is there upon our exit to greet us, something about the smiling halfling is unnerving. I don't think he is exactly what he seems, but I can't tell for sure.
We follow him back to the Green Dragon, where several halflings are ready to toast to the powering down of the workshop, there's singing, drinking and general merriment. I occupy the corner, sitting in front of a Dragonchess board, defeating the villagers one by one, watching, something is wrong, the others start to pick up on this too, Vas and Dusty start to question them, with Dusty getting increasingly agitated, when suddenly she reaches out and grasps Walter by the mutton chops, threatening to bite off his knackers if he doesn't tell us what's going on, he lets out a little smile, he starts growing, his skin stretching and changing as he transforms into a toad like creature, a Slaadi, the other villagers change too, Walter takes advantage of the shock and darts for the stage, pivoting, he casts a fireball and launches it towards Dusty and Vas, they desperately scramble out of the way, taking some burns in the process.
My Dragonchess opponent jumps atop the table, pieces scattering and lashes out at me, but I fend him off and get to the door, cast Aura of Vitality and start healing the party. Dusty calls the lightning, it crashes through the window and into the closest Slaadi, as Growbeck starts carving a path through them. Vas starts casting banishment, targeting Walter and another Slaadi, sending them back to limbo with a sharp popping sound, he needs to keep casting though, to keep them gone for good. I shout for him to get behind me, protecting him with my body and shield.
The other Slaadi start regenerating, the party goes on the offensive, to give Vas enough time to complete the banishment spell to keep their leader gone for good. Sacred flame burns divinely, axes arc into flesh, crossbow bolts fly, moonbeam obliterates as we bring the Slaadi down one by one, Growbeck adding to his increasingly crowded magical axe.
By the time the fight is over, the place is a wreck and Walter has been banished, hopefully for good, I start healing those who were wounded, but something still doesn't seem right.
As we take the train back home, we mull over the events, maybe we need to find Balthazar, if he's trying to find a way to bridge the planes, we may be able to convince him to help us.