In an Unknown Dimension…
Mordith calls to the Shadow Knight, “In the name of Shevarash, let go of him or face my wrath!” The black arrow on Mordith’s shield glows an unnatural, dark light and the knight’s sword drops. He draws Meadow, and it glows brightly.
He charges the knight. It’s a pretty one-sided fight. He does three attacks for every one of the knight’s. Soon, it’s dead. Mordith says a quick prayer to Shevarash and tends to Tinuvial.
There is a sound of clocks and gears, and the light in the windows changes. Mordith fills Tinuvial in and they take in their surroundings. They are in the entryway for what you’d expect out of a rich hunting lodge — hunting trophies and racks for weapons.
The knight does not appear to be wearing the armor Mordith remembers. The man under the helmet is vaguely Illuskan, and well-muscled, but without braids or beards. It’s not the Shadow Knight.
In Phylund Town…
Elyas, Adalwin, Vell & Belwrick see the house disappear, to be replaced with a patch of strange & unfamiliar ground, brownish instead of green, and overgrown with some kind of mushroom. From an underground door, owlbears charge.
They feather the lead owlbear as it comes up, but it is still coming. Belwrick tumbles beneath the owlbear’s legs, comes up with his short swords, and takes it down.
There are two more, though, which turn on him and Adalwin. Vell runs away, inexplicably, then comes back. They fight the owlbears, which hurts, but they eventually tear them down. During the fight, both sides trample the mushrooms. There is a considerable number of spores, which concerns Vell.
The house returns to its place. They go in to find Mordith & Tinuvial picking up the pieces. They catch each other up. Mordith does a little mental math, and then he decides to don the man’s plate armor. It is easily masterwork plate mail.
While he does that, the rest of the group listens at the doors. They hear almost nothing, though Belwrick hears a hum like bees. They rest.
As the Red Wizard begins to levitate them away, what can only be described as a superghoul screams at him from a rooftop, “I was supposed to get the girls!” He tackles the wizard to the ground as the ghoul minions surround the girls.
The ghouls tear into the girls. As they are struggling, a fireball drops on a group of ghouls, wiping out two and severely damaging the third. They see Gloriam come around a corner looking pissed.
Maran takes on the ghoul in front of her, but they take her down. It looks bad, until Gloriam drops another fireball, lighting much of the area on fire as well, but taking out the ghouls on Maran as well.
Down the street, the Thayvian explodes in energy, knocking Mort away over some rooftops before flying away.
The remaining ghoul takes down Iliana. They are all unconscious, but Gloriam takes out the last of them. She tends to the dead & paralyzed. A minute or so later, they are revived, if not hale & hearty. They get off the streets just as the bells begin to ring for the fire.
Amelia’s father sent her to find Amelia. They deliver the news, and Gloriam suggests they go to the City of the Dead, where her body is.
Besides the sounds of the Watch responding to the fire, it is silent. No bakers baking, smiths smithing, or hookers hooking. There is a mist on the ground, about knee deep, and few lights of any kind.
They get their bearings and get on their way. Once they get to the nearest main road, they see a posse of about ten men, with a few elves and dwarves mixed in. They look like they are hiding how skilled of fighters they are. Also, they are hiding their armor under their clothes and carrying weapons unsheathed.
They try to avoid them, and the other groups that are also roaming the streets. Soon, though, they are made by a group of them, which start to give them a hard time. They girls try to talk their way out, and Silent Image their way out, but eventually the posse decides that some of them are wizards, and therefore need to be taken to the Spires of Morning.
Gloriam drops something awful between them and the posse and they take off. A few streets down, Iliana casts a Misty Vision around them so they appear to be another posse.
In Phylund Town…
After a short break, as they get up to investigate the lodge, the baker walks in. “I’ve only been in here once,” he says. “It hasn’t changed.” He gives them the general layout, and they decide to check the Phylund bedrooms first.
Betward seems entirely unconcerned with this. He shows no desire to be cautious.
There is some confusion as to the trappedness of the first bedroom door, but eventually they get inside. It’s dark, so Vell checks it out. It’s a bedroom alright — bed, carpet, fireplace, odd statue of a huntress goddess that resembles the one from the middle of town. Mordith goes in to investigate it. Something seems off, but he can’t quite tell what. Belwrick comes to help. It seems like there was an older carving which was chipped off and recarved as The Huntress.
Everyone else comes in. Betward lights the brazier, Adalwin checks the rug and bookshelf. The titles are mostly melodramas, but they are written in a variety of unusual languages, like dwarven (even though dwarves don’t write books), Esperar (the elven tongue) and, oh, Infernal.
The titles are foolers — they have nothing to do with the content. Another odd thing is that they are still printed, which means that someone somewhere has printing presses for Dwarven, Elven, Infernal, and others. They contain quite a bit of research into things like Thieves’ Cant, a recent list of the connections between the houses of Waterdeep, the power brokers of the Sword Coast.
Betward is being particularly shady. He nabs a book, and, when called on it, tries to pass off another one. He references a “company” and “policies,” and basically says he can’t say more, and if they push him, he’ll disappear into the night.
Vell asks him for at least a few helpful pieces of information. He gives them a few tidbits. For one thing, he’s claiming the lodge for his organization, and once they get back they may not like to work with him anymore. For another, the girls are getting involved in the going on in Waterdeep, which catches Mordith’s attention.
Vell continues to press Betward on his knowledge. After a little back and forth between Betward and Vell, we learn that Betward plans on taking over the Lodge. He still won’t say who he’ll take it over for, but does say that they don’t fly their banner…here. The real concern now is who is Phylund working for? There are many different parties working together: the nobles, the Phelerians,
While investigating the presses, and comparing the books to the Waterdeep Sentinel, Betward thinks that they are from different presses. There aren’t many presses in the city. Maybe three?
Belwrick & Adalwin get antsy and go to the next room. Again, it appears like a typical bedroom, but on closer inspection, something is off. The materials are not from the region, which is strange given the abundance of local building materials. The rug is a Northern Bear, at least 1,000 miles out of place. The books in this room are as mundane as they appear. Best guess? It’s the room to put guests in to impress them; conspicuous consumption and all that.
They find a secret door between the two rooms, which nearly gets someone a magic sword in the face.
They decide to divide & conquer: Adalwin, Belwrick, and Tinuvial go to explore the rest of the lodge while Vell, Betward, and Mordith dig into the bedrooms.
The third bedroom has some straw practice dummies, practice weapons, and a map of the larger area. They finally get a sense of where they are in relation to Waterdeep, some good hunting grounds, a forbidden area where Elyas and Belwrick talked to the trees, the elven ruins they huddled up to, and the suggestion of more elven ruins farther into the woods.
After the bedrooms, they head to the back of the house, where they find the pantry, kitchen, and dining room. More unnerving details, like preserved human meat, probably for Mort, or the remains of a roasting live pig that Adalwin puts out of its misery.
The more they investigate, the more they discover that most of the food processed & ate here was human flesh. The dining room settings were abandoned mid-meal. They find a couple of banners, of Phylund and Kormallis, and tapestries. One shows bloody hunts and butchery, which is the opposite of what most hunting tapestries show. The other shows the four gods they’ve encountered before, Umberlee, Talos, Auril, and Malar visiting horrors on humanity.
the Shadow Thieves have returned to WaterDeep.
Also, the local Thieves Guild, the Eye, are not happy. Rumor has it the person behind the Eye is a Beholder named Xandathar. He was also rumored to be in charge 300 hundred years ago.
One 300 page book is a very detailed book about the area surrounding Phylund Town. Originally, the circle where the trees came from were dedicated to Shar and was meant to tap into the Shadow Weave; however, what the fuck! There used to be a Huntress Goddess who was in charge of this are who was killed by another god. She was buried by her followers in the flippin’ town. Yes. There is a goddess buried in town.
Meanwhile, in Waterdeep…
The girls continue towards the City of the Dead. On the way, they pass posses of the Spire dragging low-level magic users away. The mist rises as the night goes on, and something begins to howl. Let’s say wolves.
They see the lamplighter, who is still trying to light the lamps. Gloriam tells him to get inside. He seems confused, lights the nearest house on fire, and wanders off. Iliana is about to go after him when all the door open and werewolves charge out. They get a scent, which is not the girls, and lope off. The girls call it a win and continue. They come upon another group of werewolves feeding, who sniff the air and ignore them entirely.
From somewhere not too far away, they hear the sounds of something huge stomping through town. They run from it, but they come upon a group of children, surrounded by werewolves, and being protected (for now) by a group of priests of Ilmantar. Iliana wants to stop and help them, but they can’t stay — the 300-foot-tall statue chases them off. The zealots of Amaunator are beating priests of Lathander.
The crazy doesn’t stop, though Iliana wants to stop for each injustice they pass. She and Gloriam argue about their ability to get into any conflicts right now. They continue to the City of the Dead, so Iliana can at least feel good about something she does tonight.
Back at Phylund Town…
While everything else goes on, Mordith is able to consecrate the statue in the first bedroom. He feels significantly at peace, almost to the point of intoxication. He takes a knee and gives thanks to the Huntress for her help and asks for her name.
Meanwhile, in Waterdeep…
Werewolves eating children, priests of Lathander and other good gods being crucified, disemboweled, and worse as examples of going against the Lord of Light. Many of the priests go screaming, but the priests of Ilmantar go silently, as part of their martyrdom and worship.
Some of the bodies have had their throats ripped out in a way that’s different from the way ghouls or werewolves operate.
Out of nowhere, Gloriam bursts into flame. They see nothing out of the ordinary, even from the rooftops, that would indicate a cause. Iliana realizes that Winnie has taken a more active interest in things than usual. She asks what Winnie wants.
The answer is vague and ominous — they are being deceived, run away, it it it, they aren’t your friends, turn back, eating eating, it’s happening it’s happening, turn back, coming, soon.
Back in Phylund Town…
They are about to go get Elyas when Adalwin decides not to go out into the dark. It’s full of terrors. They return to the lodge to try and sort it out, and begin to turn on each other. No fighting, necessarily, but some paranoia. Significant paranoia.
Meanwhile, in Waterdeep…
Paranoia. Iliana and Helya look at each other and sprint off toward the Serpent. Maran, Gloriam, & Sariel are left holding the reins of the wagon Maran procured, so they get on the wagon and go.
Iliana & Helya make it back unattacked, though they will be processing the amount of awfulness they saw on the way for a long time. They get upstairs to the safe room.
Soon the other three arrive. They give Gloriam the run-down about the portals. Still, no one is here, which is super odd. Gloriam seems unfamiliar with this place, which concerns some of the girls.
Iliana suggests finding the Blackstaff Tower. She overheard the Arrow talking about some of the power politics, and she thinks that Blackstaff might be friendly to their cause. Gloriam is concerned that the Blackstaff isn’t the kind of person to just walk up to. They agree to take a little time to regroup before doing anything.
Back in Phylund Town…
They attempt to pray to Rillithane and Chauntea, but the message doesn’t go through. Mordith sees a dome of desecration outside, so they decide to go beyond it to pray. Tinuvial suggests paralyzing Adalwin to get him through the darkness. They do so, and make their way back to the grove.
They begin searching for Elyas. It takes some time, but eventually they find him unconscious in the middle of the stone ring. They go cautiously forward, since this seems trappy. Tinuvial picks up Elyas, and the rest of them in. When Vell comes in with the orc’s ear that Betward left them, they are transported.
It’s a dirty place, on the soul level. The moon is a hole in the sky, and the lights of the distant city glow an unhealthy blue and green. Betward fucked them. They are in the Shadowfell.
They check their swords. Meadow and Moonshadow don’t work, but Scourge certainly does. When Vell draws it, they all hear something clearly saying, “I’ve heard your call.”
They hear a distinct flapping overhead and run for the city. The bat-thing circles them, lands in front of them, and says to Vell, “Your father will be so upset that I have you.”
Before they can respond, a blueish light streaks towards them. It resolves into a skeletal thing wearing a crown, which shoots a bolt of light at the bat-thing. They start to fight, and so the Arrow bug the fuck out.
They make it to the gate and charge through, right past the ghoul guards. Tinuvial notes that the bat-thing arrived when Demon-Bringer came out of the sheath. Mordith shudders.
Meanwhile, in a parallel plane near Waterdeep…
The girls sleep for a while, and then Maran goes out to the Serpent to see what the status is and resupply the booze. It’s daytime. There are a few dedicated drunks there, so Maran sits down to chat them up.
The rest of the group are trapped, momentarily, until they find another feather in the pile and go back. Maran is surprisingly drunk for how long she’s been there. While they discuss options, Maran goes back up to the portal. Sariel discovers that her feather is missing. They don’t disappear when you go through, so…?
They have to get back in with Maran, so back to the portal room they go. Again. Maran is passed out, and they can’t do anything until she wakes up.
The Shadowfell Waterdeep is strange, melty, and filled with undead doing all manner of awfulness and debauchery. They finally get to the Serpent, the Black Serpent. It is familiar, but twisted. Inside it’s mostly empty and the comforting atmosphere has been turned into a hollow horror. A voice from nowhere says, “You have done well.”
A plane near Waterdeep…
They argue some more about the plan. Gloriam wants to get Amelia’s head to the body, but Iliana wants to investigate the portals. They argue, but nothing much happens. Then, oddly, Gloriam pokes her head through the portal, spots them, says, “Oh!” and disappears. Sariel charges for the portal, and maybe-Gloriam goes with. Iliana and Helya are too slow, though, and are trapped.
The Serpent begins to shift and waver. Two Gloriams and a Sariel appear briefly, then waver out of sight. This keeps happening, until Mordith grabs hold of the nearest person to him, Sariel. He stays in the mortal plane. “Holy shit!” everyone says.
On the next shift, the rest of the Arrow grab hold of something and stay in the mortal plane. They are all in the same (very crowded) Serpent now.
Gloriam begins to waver, as does Tinuvial, and they merge into one…creature. Mother fucker. Everything explodes at once, and despite some brief resistance, it grabs the head from Iliana and teleports out.