Party PCs: Saldo, Eido, Lucien, Onari | Calibri (in absentia)
Party NPCs: Davhorn/Boris, Jamhand, Kluka, Cruward, Gaev
Persimmon Season, 2nd Day of the Waning Moon
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
The battle's done,
And we kinda won.
So we sound our victory cheer.
In the aftermath of the escaping Drow Wizard and subsequent kidnapping of the newly werewolf'ed shepherd boy, we have a lengthy conversation with Jamhand, the elder wolfman. Jamhand offers to help us in seeking out the Drow Wizard, but Eido is of the opinion that we should leave Jamhand with Open Heart's clerics. Ultimately, the party is split on the desire to allow Jamhand to accompany us. I feel this is short-sighted. Given that Jamhand has his own grudge to settle with the Drow, I find it likely that we will cross paths with him again soon. It would've been better to keep him where we could keep an eye on him.
There are also some meandering discussions around our next steps. We know that the Drow needs werewolf, minotaur, and gnome blood, among others. We are uncertain which bloods we have taken from her, so it's unclear what she still needs other than, obviously, the werewolf blood she has acquired in the form of a shepherd's boy.
There are two major courses of action under consideration. We either deal with the army of undead in the town's catacombs or we pursue the Drow Wizard. We ultimately decide that we should discuss with Lady Cressa what priority she would put on the many different directions we might go from here.
Lady Cressa seems less concerned about the Drow Wizard's larger plot and more concerned about immediate threats to the town of Open Heart. Her reaction to the Wizard kidnapping the shepherd boy is… "The Wizard left and took a werewolf with her. Two problems solved. I hope these people got what they came for and will not return." I suppose this is understandable from her perspective, if a bit heartless. Perhaps now I understand why the town is named Open Heart, as the heart has been removed from the breast of its mayor.
The major further determines that the catacombs should be sealed off, thereby protecting the town from the undead army. This seems foolishly shortsighted to me as the army will continue to grow within the catacombs, but it is ultimately Lady Cressa's decision since we decided to put the decision into her hands.
The only lead we currently have on the Wizard's whereabouts is that she needs minotaur blood that she most likely lost to us. Given that we also have the cup they were using to find the various bloods they need, we decide that the only known location of minotaurs is Minotaurdûm. We set out for the coastal town of Sediment, a wretched hive of scum and villany, to secure passage to Minotaurdûm.
LORE OF MINOTAURDÛM
I assume The Circle is already aware of these things, but hundreds of years ago, when powerful magic users were a scourge upon the land and at war with the minotaurs, the mages cleaved the land in twain and created an island of the minotaur's lands. Since that time, there has been little contact with Minotaurdûm. It is unclear whether or not whether similar constraints were placed upon the use of magic in their lands. If I were in their shoes and thwarted by powerful magics, I might use my newfound isolation to learn how to combat such magics.
Davhorn seems to have attached himself quite firmly to our party. I'm okay with this, as I think we should be keeping an eye on all of the Drow's enemies lest they pursue their own revenge and muck up our own investigations.
On our way to Sediment, I couldn't help but notice a solitary follower skulking behind our party on a shaggy Moreland pony. (It was obviously a Moreland pony due to its distinctive splashes of brown and white coloring.) We confronted our follower, and determined that a roguish gnome, by the name Cruward, was interested in joining us in our pursuit of the Drow Wizard. Turns out that we've met the gnome before, but she was a good bit furrier at the time having been transformed into a cat at the Woolford Estate. Thus, she has a score to settle with the Drow, and we find our adventuring party increased by one.
As we settle in to camp for the night, Cruward informs us that the Drow was seeking werewolf blood, a tidbit of information we were already well aware of. More importantly she informs us that the Drow was also collecting pages from the spellbooks of captured spellcasters. It is unclear if the spellbook pages are a part of the Drow's larger ritualistic plot or if it is simply the typical Wizard's desire to collect magical knowledge. However, it seems uncharacteristic for a Wizard to treat any spellbook with such disregard as to cut pages from them.
As we rise the next morning, we find that Lucien has gained a new friend in the form of a small owl he introduces as Victor. Given Lucien's new spell casting skills,
INN OF THE LAST FLAGON
As we approach Sediment, Davhorn warns the party that travel to Minotaurdûm is strictly prohibited and that we must be circumspect. He recommends that we seek transport at the Inn of the Last Flagon.
At the inn, we are approached by a "half-orc-sized" fellow in a great cloak with the hood drawn. He introduces himself as Iannikus, and quietly informs us that there is a rogue magic user he needs help with. We adjourn to a quiet, dark corner to discuss his Inannikus's needs, and Onari quietly informs me that he noted short horns under the hood, identifying our querent as a minotaur.
It turns out that Iannikus has been a member of the minotaur royal guard for many years, and he assumes he encountered this rogue spellcaster in the course of duty. He remembers that the guard had received word via courier animal that a village had lost possession of their watchtower to some sort of female magic user. going to investigate, but then he remembers nothing until suddenly he was in mid-step on the road to the village where he lives. He feels as if he returned home "as if by rote." Lucien smartly asks if there might be payment for our assistance, and the minotaur assures us that as a representative of the royal guard he can see that we are paid handsomely.
The party unanimously agrees that this is no coincidence, and the rouge spellcaster is very likely our fugitive Drow. Thus, we returned to Iannikus to accept his offer, and he sends word to Captain Moonray of the S.S. Minnowtaur. Given that travel between the mainland and Minotaurdûm is prohibited on both sides, Iannikus's recommendation is that we should assume the role of envoys from a druid circle of Minotaurdûm.
LANDFALL AT MINOTAURDÛM
A Minotaur, introduced as Kankatan, leader of the Minotaur Elite Guard, boards the ship and asks all those disembarking to state their names and purpose in these lands. Lucien steps forward to speak for our group after wryly noting that Iannikus isn't going to do so. Stating that we are acolytes traveling to a local druid circle, Kankatan warns us that the village of Kephela has been plagued by a rogue spellcaster. He recommends that we stay aboard the vessel until the threat has been resolved, and informs as that the Elite Guard reserves have been summoned. We, of course, assure him that we'll be fine, and after Eido makes us all nervous by insisting on asking questions that yields no new information of use, we disembark.
Kankatan did, at least, verify Iannikus's story, and Iannikus informs us that Kankatan has assumed command of the Elite Guard in his absence. Iannikus sought us out, because he does not feel that the Guard are properly equipped to deal with a magic threat of this nature.
The village of Kephela is a small collection of huts at the center of a labyrinth. Of course.
There are no obvious signs of life in the village, and when we arrive at the village we find the ground littered with minotaur bodies. Eido, opening his divine senses, informs us that the corpses are not undead but that there are undead nearby. …just in time for a hoard of minotaur zombies to round the corner of one of the village huts and move in our direction.
Most of the party quickly moves into the nearest hut while Lucien, Davhorn, and myself clamber onto the roof. Well, in Lucien's case it was far more acrobatic and graceful than a clamber, but I would've expected no less from him. Colibri greases the area in front of the hut to impede the hoard while Onari quickly attacks the nearest zombie with a flurry of blows and a footswipe that renders it prone before retreating into the back of the hut. Much fighting, flames, and horrible stenches later, we stand victorious. Eido was knocked unconscious, but Onari fed him a healing potion.
Iannikus informs us that based on the minotaur zombies we've dispatched there are six more original members of his guard unaccounted for, and Lucien informs us that Victor has spotted two more zombies guarding the watchtower. That leaves four guard-cum-zombies unaccounted for, and possibly zombie minotaur villagers as well.
TO THE TOWER!
Iannikus leads us through the second half of the labyrinth to the tower, and we cleverly dispatch the guard zombies with a clever kiting retreat action while taking minimal damage. Approaching the watchtower, we find the door locked. Lucien carefully inspects the door and surrounding bits of tower, noting that there are no windows lower than the third floor.
After a short conversation, I volunteer to carry a rope to the top of the tower, bypassing our obvious means of entry. I transform into my favorite spider form, they tie a rope around my carapace, and I scuttle quietly up the side of the tower. I find a bare room at the top of the tower, with an unconscious shepherd boy in the middle of the floor. Entering the room through the window, I transform back into my human form. As I do so, I caught sight of movement out of the corner of my eye, spinning around to see the Drow flying out the window. I attempted to down her with a wave of thunder, but only struck her a glancing blow. The party successfully shoots her down. She falls on the far side of the labyrinth, and the party gives chase while I check on the Gaev, the shepherd boy.
Surprisingly, the party succeeds in chasing down the Drow Wizard and knocking her unconscious. I rouse the boy, ensure that he is unwounded, and then we repel down the side of the tower. I return to spider form and carry the boy over the labyrinth to rejoin the party. The party is, as usual, making a very big discussion out of what should be done with the Wizard, so I take the opportunity to cocoon her in spider silk. It turns out that the sorcerer who has been plaguing Minotaurdûm isn't the Drow Wizard.
Eventually, the party agrees to rouse the Drow for questioning. She cleverly tries to turn the tables on us, implying that we are competing with her to meet the same end goal. "You're carrying the blood of many species, and you have a minotaur and a werewolf." Clever girl. Eventually, through much circular conversation she reveals that (1) she's here because she heard a prophesy that this location would be important and (2) the minotaur villagers were dead when she arrived. Further, she didn't raise the zombies.
Onari questions Cruward, because she also previously mentioned a prophesy. She reveals that she'd heard about a page, loose from a book, that showed a werewolf and minotaur possibly being sacrificed.
After the Drow wises up and stops talking altogether, Lucien gets frustrated her and stabs her with her own dagger. The party then gets into yet another discussion of ethics which I end by sinking my fangs into her and draining her vital juices to the verge of death. After, I return to human form so that I can join in discussion around our next move, suggesting that we take the Drow back to civilization where we might apply divine or arcane magics to get the answers that we seek.
FIN. WE PAUSE UNTIL NEXT TIME.