Monday, September 1st, 758, Illmarsh swamp to Illmarsh, Ustalav
They group arrives in Illmarsh in the afternoon. The squalid town is dominated by its wharves, its fishing trawlers departing each morning and returning each evening. Tough times are starting to hit the townsfolk, and Illmarsh has a pervasive unhealthy odor; plagues and epidemics have started here in the past. On a house near the outskirts of town (10), they see a complicated doorbell assembly. They also see a piston half-buried in the sand. Jean-Baptiste speaks with a rather surly man. They then go to the Bountiful Catch Inn. There is a bronze statue of a sea captain at a ship’s tiller in the center of the town square. The figure is Cassius Undiomede, first lord of Illmarsh. Also on the town square is a three-story structure (20), the town hall. The townsfolk in the square all stare at the newcomers with suspicion. On the west side of the square is a tavern (6) called the Wall-Eyed Kraken. Abner goes into the tavern to check it out. Just south of the tavern is the general store (7).
On the south end of the square is a stone temple with a large portico (11) that also prominently features stained glass windows. The portico features a statue of a mermaid with a trident, looking out to sea. The religious order occupying the temple is the Recondite Order of the Indomitable Sea. Jean-Baptiste, Katarzyna and Kendra go into the building, which turns out to be some kind of temple for a Tepestani religion, worshiping Manannán mac Lir. Kendra briefly goes into the main room, and has a quick look around.
They continue wandering through the town. They encounter several grimy children, who flee as they approach. They pass a small building, with a garden on the leeward side, some of it with box planters and swampy, marshy planting beds. They see a sign that indicates that it is an apothecary. Katarzyna calls out to a woman working among the planters. They go inside the apothecary, and Jean-Baptiste speaks with the woman, Jallene Halrush, about her wares. She tells them that a stranger had stayed at the Inn recently, but when Kendra asks her about the stranger, she becomes wary. Jean-Baptiste speaks with her about her herbs and concoctions, and she mentions a plant called dead man’s head. It is very toxic and volatile. They are large orange spheres, semi-translucent, covered in thick veins. Jean-Baptiste knows that it is a very useful item, and he also knows that there are three items he can make with it. Arsonist’s Friend is one such, but it’s very dangerous and hard to make. Dead man’s head also is a key component of Dead Man’s Wrath, an item that can be used as an explosive thrown weapon. Fire Belly Poison is the third item, which has a spicy taste. The woman sells Jean-Baptiste some of the herb, and he invokes his influence ability on the woman, nudging Katarzyna’s foot to get her attention before he does so. Her shoulders slump slightly and her eyes glaze over. Kendra and Katarzyna notice spiders come out of his Jean-Baptiste’s sleeves and pants. One lands on Katarzyna’s foot. The women are rather put off by the display. The herbalist, who has some slight fey features (they later learn that Jallene is a half-elf from Sithicus), takes Jean-Baptiste to another room. When Jallene returns to the others, she asks Katarzyna if she would like a love potion to use on Jean-Baptiste, evidently the herbalist is quite impressed by him. Katarzyna declines the offer.
They leave, and travel north through the buildings until they come to a long building that appears to be a boatwright’s shop. Katarzyna sees a large shape out at sea. She talks to Jean-Baptiste and Kendra about it, then they are approached by a man coming from around the shop. Jean-Baptiste asks the boatwright about islands near the coast. He says that a no-good killer named Kardis is probably out on the island, left there as punishment for his crime. Jean-Baptiste asks the man if anyone had come to Illmarsh recently, and the man says that someone is still there. He informs them that someone named Lucas had shown up awhile back, and that he is staying at the inn. Jean-Baptiste gives the man a gold piece for his help.
They pass the long jetties of the fishing fleet, then go up to a small building, which turns out to be a rather empty fish market. Grewin takes Flandelene to the outskirts of town while the others go to the Bountiful Catch Inn. There is a tavern inside the inn. Katarzyna’s nosoi companion flies up to the rafters as they enter. A paunchy, balding man talks to them as they enter. He is rather brusque and taciturn, offering minimal conversation as he serves them unappetizing food. When Kendra casts a minor spell in the common room, one of the men at an adjacent table runs out of the inn. His companion goes after him. Shortly thereafter, the sherriff, Rill Anders, comes in and caustically tells them that they are to appear before the mayor. The hostile innkeeper takes their plates before they are finished, and they go outside and look for the stables. They find a stable boy named Ryan. Katarzyna inexpertly flirts with him a bit, trying to get some information, while Jean-Baptiste looks for a pale horse, evidence of the dark rider. Ryan is rather taken with Katarzyna in spite of her lack of seduction expertise, and tells her that there have been disappearances in Illmarsh lately, and that’s probably why the sherriff was so abrupt with them. Jean-Baptiste does not find the pale horse, so they go to the town hall to see the mayor.
They enter the town hall accompanied by Sherriff Rill Anders. Jean-Baptiste tells him that he should have simply mentioned ‘the situation’ here in Illmarsh, and it would have made their meeting go more smoothly. The sherriff is as receptive to Jean-Baptiste as the innkeeper, that is to say, not at all. Inside the office of Mayor Greedle, the old man seems somewhat flustered and out of breath, with a unique speech pattern. After some brief pleasantries, he dismisses the sherriff and closes his office door. He then tells the group that he needs their help to investigate the Recondite Order of the Indomitable Sea, who the mayor suspects of being behind the disappearances they had heard about. Mayor Greedle officially deputizes them, but asks them to proceed undercover, using the cover story that the dark rider stole money from them. Everyone agrees to the arrangement, since it helps their own agenda to investigate the town, and doing so under the aegis of the mayor makes their task easier.
They leave the town hall, and head directly over to the temple, but are stopped as they enter by a priest named Johann. He is quite cross with them, and refuses to allow them to observe their holy rites. Everyone is suspicious of the priest, but the group leaves without incident. They fan out and scout around the outside of the building. They regroup in a nearby alley, and discuss what to do next. They ultimately decide that Jean-Baptiste will use an invisibility infusion to go inside and observe their rite, and then report back to them. If he does not return quickly, Katarzyna will take the others into the church with Dimension Door and deal with the priests forcefully. Jean-Baptiste uses his infusion, and returns to the group a wtihin a few minutes. He tells them that the priests are not worshipping Manannán mac Lir at all, but rather some unpleasant deity called Dagon. The priests have altered the statue of Manannán mac Lir in somewhat subtle ways, and its revised form is holding an octopus.
They move away from the immediate vicinity of the temple, and head back in the general direction of the town hall, where they have a brief conversation with Sherriff Anders. The sherriff is as brusque as ever with them, and they soon part ways. The group decides they will enter the temple surreptitiously using Katarzyna’s Dimension Door. Ostovach and Abner will take up positions and wait outside on the portico, ready to engage when they hear the sounds of combat. Once everyone is ready, Gregore, Jean-Baptiste and Kendra go through the Dimension Door with Katarzyna.
The four find themselves in a chamber adjacent to the anteroom. There is a stained glass window, an altar, and much to their consternation, there are four acolytes in the room, in the midst of their rites. The acolytes immediately attack. Two acolytes concentrate on Jean-Baptiste, and two attack Gregore. Kendra shoots her flaming musket, causing a loud report, probably alerting other acolytes to their presence. Katarzyna blinds one of Gregore’s attackers, helping the beleaguered cleric. Ostovach hears the sounds of combat and rolls in shortly thereafter, helping Jean-Baptiste with his two attackers. With a blind attacker on Gregore’s side and Ostovach distracting one of Jean-Baptiste’s attackers, the acolyte’s strategy to focus on the bigger threats falls apart quickly. Jean-Baptiste lands an especially devastating hit with his rapier on one of his attackers. Katarzyna’s Magic Missile kills one of the acolytes outright. A second one falls to Ostovach’s blade. As they are turning the tide of battle, Abner taps Katarzyna on the shoulder, indicating that she should follow him. She leaves the last two surviving acolytes to be finished off by the others and follows Abner.
Abner and Katarzyna round the corner and go into the main room of the chapel, where Katarzyna’s nosoi companion seems to have mesmerized four acolytes in that room with some sort of hypnotic aura and music. Just as Abner and Katarzyna take in this tableau, another acolyte rushes out of a doorway on the south wall of the room. He sees Katarzyna and Abner, targeting them with a spell, an ice storm that rains hail and snow on them. Katarzyna quickly returns the favor with a lightning bolt. Abner slowly makes his way over to the cleric, having a hard time closing the distance because of the snow from his spell. Jean-Baptiste and Gregore rush into the main chapel at that moment. Katarzyna hits the cleric with another lightning bolt, and he in turn casts his own spell, sending a wave of water rushing at Abner. Jean-Baptiste rushes at the cleric, skidding gracefully on the ice and knocking the man down. Gregore dispels the lingering magic of the ice storm, making it easier for them to move about.
Suddenly, the four acolytes break free of the nosoi’s fascination, but they are immediately hit with Waves of Fatigue from Katarzyna. They are slowed and tired. Kendra rounds the corner about the same moment. Katarzyna fires off Magic Missiles at the beleagured cleric again. Kendra fires off a Ray of Frost at the cleric, but it misses and hits Abner. Abner and Jean-Baptiste attack the cleric again.
At that moment, a massive portal opens, akin to a Dimension Door, and a giant creature steps through. The cleric casts another spell, yelling at them to “fall”. Kendra, Abner and Ostovach all fall down. Gregore casts a spell that summons a dire ape. Jean-Baptiste shoots at the cleric again, while Katarzyna is grabbed by the creature from the Dimension Door. It knocks her out of the fight easily, and it drops her on the ground. Gregore Pulses, and brings Katarzyna back into the fight. She is immediately attacked by the fatigued clerics. Katarzyna breaks the enchantment from the cleric’s attack on Kendra, but it doesn’t work on Abner or Ostovach. Jean-Baptiste shoots the cleric with his pistol. The giant creature attacks the dire ape, wounding it severely.
Kendra uses her wand to attack the giant creature, but it fails. Jean-Baptiste shoots at the cleric again. Gregore Pulses, and the nosoi attacks one of the acolytes. Ostovach rolls up on the cleric and finally kills him. Abner shakes off the effect of the cleric’s spell. Katarzyna fires off a lightning bolt, and hits the giant creature. Unfortunately, she also kills the ape with the attack. Katarzyna hits the monster with another lightning bolt, and it whirls around to face her. Gregore casts Spiritual Ally. Ostovach rolls right up on the creature, while Abner moves to flank it. The creature ignores them both and barrels into Katarzyna, knocking her out of the fight again. Kendra quickly runs over to Katarzyna and uses the wand of healing to get her back in the fight. Jean-Baptiste uses his infusions to enlarge himself. Katarzyna’s awareness is short-lived, as she is immediately killed by the creature right after she regains consciousness. Kendra dives onto Katarzyna’s bloody body and grabs the wand of Acid Arrow from her belt. Gregore bolts over to Katarzyna and breathes grey mist out of his mouth and into Katarzyna’s. Her eyes widen as she snaps awake. Gregore gives her a tight smile, and they both quickly rejoin the fight. Ostovach and Jean-Baptiste both swing at the creature. It quickly grabs Jean-Baptiste, but he manages to break free. Katarzyna rapidly fires off two lightning bolts from scrolls, less powerful than her studied versions, and weakens the creature significantly. Jean-Baptiste pursues the weakened creature as it crawls toward the altar wall. He runs up on the back of the creature and plants his blade between two of its chitinous plates, finally killing it. As quickly as it began, the fight is over.
Jean-Baptiste can see that Katarzyna is very distracted and upset, so he focuses her attention toward the back wall of the temple. Katarzyna absentmindedly mends and cleans her blood-soaked dress as they walk toward the wall, but blood still covers her face and drips from her hair. Jean-Baptiste, Kendra and Katarzyna inspect the wall, but don’t find anything. When Abner looks at it, he shows them a specific spot that he thinks will activate a mechanism. When Jean-Baptiste applies pressure on the spot, the entire wall shifts and moves in a complex pattern, creating a large opening that reveals a hidden chamber behind the wall.
In this room, clearly the inner sanctum of the acolytes of Dagon, there are disturbing carvings and runes throughout. There is a baleful eye surrounded by tentacles and runes, presumably the unholy symbol of Dagon. Ostovach shows them gold symbols from the acolytes, which Gregore guesses are also holy symbols of Dagon. They are abstract designs, similar to runes or glyphs. Kendra and Katarzyna examine the symbol and determine that it is a particularly ancient form of Aklo.
Jean-Baptiste examines the stone statue, which has a fish-like face. Abner calls them over to the room just north of the hidden altar room. There are several headless corpses in the room. Abner goes to unlock the south door while Katarzyna examines the bodies in the north room. She determines that the some of the bodies look as if they had their life force drained, and it looks like their heads exploded, as if something burst out from within. The people clearly did not die in the room, since there isn’t enough gore to account for the missing heads. One body is unlike the others, the clothes look to be those of an urban merchant. Katarzyna searches this body, and finds a ceramic egg, just like the one they found on the body of Clanartas Viliras. Gregore breaks it open, showing them the now-familiar gagged skull symbol. Jean-Baptiste pushes over the stone statue.
Abner calls them over to the south room. They hear Abner speaking reassuringly to someone, and when they enter, they see two figures huddled on a bench. Katarzyna rushes over to them. They are afraid of her bizarre bloodied countenance, so she calls Gregore over to take a look at them. Jean-Baptiste also talks to them, and he is much better at reassuring them than Katarzyna tried to be. The couple, a man and a woman, tell Jean-Baptiste that they were at the temple to give their daughter to the “neighbors” down the bay. And because the neighbors hadn’t shown up to the fostering, Father Albor Voltiaro took their daughter to Undiomede House, which is a ways further south of Illmarsh. It is the ancestral manor of the Undiomede family. The first lord of that manor was Cassius Undiomede, the subject of the statue in the center of the Illmarsh town square.
While Ostovach and Gregore comfort the traumatized couple, Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna investigate the rooms that they didn’t enter earlier. In the north room that lies between the acolytes altar and the hidden room of headless corpses, they see an opulent chamber, clearly the private quarters of someone of importance. There is a chest laying on the floor on its side, and shattered bits of glass lay all about with bits of liquid still pooling in the curved shards and seeping into the floorboards. Katarzyna doesn’t detect any magical auras in the room until Abner opens the chest. He holds up two blue glass bottles, two potions in brass vials, a feather which has a magical aura, and a small statue, that looks like a bizarre tentacled beast. There are two other statues as well. All are made of a strange reddish gold that Abner refers to as “fish gold”, which is mined in the sea.
Ostovach opens the door to the south room that the powerful cleric had emerged from. It appears to be a barracks of sorts. Katarzyna joins him, and walks over to the west wall and opens the door. This room is a small chapel, much like the one on the north side of the temple. Ostovach and Katarzyna look through the desk and bookshelves in the barracks. Abner finds secret doors in both the barracks and the head priest’s private quarters, that lead to the rooms north and south of the dark altar room. Jean-Baptiste finds an old discarded copy of the holy book of Manannán mac Lir, a remnant of the previous tenants.
As they are investigating the complex, they are joined by Sherriff Rill Anders and his men. There is a bit of a tense standoff, until Mayor Greedle shows up. He slowly walks through the rooms they discovered. When Katarzyna tells the mayor that Father Voltiaro took the girl to Undiomede House, he tells them that the dark rider went in that direction as well. Mayor Greedle also tells them that the “neighbors” are a race that live in the sea. The neighbors have had an understanding with the denizens of Illmarsh that has been in place longer than the mayor has been alive, involving this transfer of female children to the neighbors. They talk about heading to Undiomede House to track down the missing girl and Father Voltiaro, and find out where the “neighbors”/sea folk went.
Jean-Baptiste continues to search the temple complex. He finds slugs in the bottom of the pool. Gregore is continuing to tend to the frightened couple, with Katarzyna providing what help she can. Kendra inspects the room of headless corpses, looking over the scene in detail. While Jean-Baptiste is observing the pool in the east room, the slugs climb out of the pool toward him. He yells out, and Kendra comes running. She also yells out and Katarzyna rushes to see what’s happening. The creatures lurch toward Jean-Baptiste. Everyone fans out and positions themselves to attack the slugs. Kendra kills one quickly, but the remaining slugs immediately leap at her. Two of them manage to leap onto Kendra, and to everyone’s horror, a slug starts burrowing into her skin, while the other looks like it’s trying to crawl into her mouth. They all desperately attack the slugs as they burrow into Kendra. Katarzyna tries to help Kendra using her anatomist’s knife, but does more harm than good. Gregore manages to get the one that was crawling into Kendra’s mouth. The other one disappears inside Kendra’s chest, and she starts convulsing. Jean-Baptiste gives her a potion of Cure Disease, which makes her retch. She starts to vomit the creature out, and it lands on the ground. The creature immediately starts to dessicate on the ground. Gregore heals Kendra of much of her damage, and she is very grateful, though still quite shaken from the experience. Katarzyna takes Kendra gently aside, and suggests that they head back to the inn to bathe and get some sleep. Mayor Greedle stops them and offers them coin as a reward, but Jean-Baptiste insists that they don’t need any recompense, only the authority to pursue their quarry.
Katarzyna and Kendra walk back with Abner to the Inn, but Abner decides to return to the temple to check and make sure they didn’t miss anything. Katarzyna and Kendra both have baths and change their garments. While Katarzyna bathes, the nosoi helps her by picking bits of bloody tissue out of her hair. She notices that it no longer looks like a masked whippoorwill, but a raven.
Jean-Baptiste speaks with Gregore, who tells him that he thinks the townsfolk are fully indoctrinated in accepting the ‘neighbors’ arrangement. Townsfolk arrive and start helping reclaim the temple. One of the bodies is the son of Father Albor Voltiaro. Gregore takes the couple back to their home. Jean-Baptiste decides to go looking around outside, and Ostovach goes with him. He comes across a few houses, but the inhabitants are not very receptive to them. Ostovach and Gregore hear a humming at one point, and it calls out to them. It introduces itself as a “friend”. It’s an elderly female voice. Jean-Baptiste is immediately wary. He looks in the direction of the woman’s voice, and hears sloshing in the swamp, but doesn’t see anything out in the darkness. Ostovach tries to hide as the voice nears, but Jean-Baptiste can clearly see him. Ostovach tells Jean-Baptiste that they should go, that they are weak. They try to run away from the woman-thing, but she pursues them. Jean-Baptiste manages to outpace her. He hears the familiar sound of Magic Missiles, then hears Ostovach cry out in pain as they continue barrelling through the swamp. They make it through the treeline, and the voice and the sloshing subside, no longer in pursuit. A raspy cackling laugh hangs in the air as they retreat. As they approach Illmarsh, Jean-Baptiste gives Ostovach some magical healing. Jean-Baptiste thinks that the creature they narrowly escaped from was a hag.
Katarzyna beds down for the night. When the raven flies over to the headboard, it reverts to its nosoi form. She hears a rapping at the door, but when she goes to see, no one is there. Abner hears the same knocking, and he speaks with Ostovach in the hallway. Abner and Katarzyna demur his offer to have a drink in the common room, but Gregore joins him and Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste tells Gregore about the experience with the hag in the swamp.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 758, Illmarsh, Ustalav
The next morning, they all rise at various times. Gregore knocks on everyone’s door and heals them as needed. Down in the common room, they have breakfast, served by the prickly innkeeper, and talk about their next steps. Ostovach decides to go to the general store to get bug repellent, and Katarzyna goes with him. The rather uncivil merchant has several magic items, for which he asks exorbitant sums. Katarzyna declines, and purchases the insect repellent. They leave, and run into the others, Ostovach informs them of the merchant’s attitude and his magical wares.
Abner is suspicious, so he breaks into the unoccupied room of the only other person staying at the inn, joined by Jean-Baptiste, Katarzyna and Kendra. They determine that the guest is probably NOT an import/export agent as he claimed. They also discover that he probably had some sort of altar set up in his room.
They gather their gear and skirt around the swamp, taking a few minutes to reach Undiomede House. There is a stream of water coming from the front door of the house. Katarzyna casts her protective spells. Abner spots a cemetery near the manor. There is an area where the wall of the house is missing, and Abner goes in to check it out. There is rotten furniture, but little else of note. In one of the rooms, there is a giant boulder set into the wall, with runes inscribed upon it. As they quietly approach the northeast corner of the house, they overhear a conversation between two people inside the house, one of whom has a baby tucked under his arm. Katarzyna overhears the guy threatening to harm the baby, and she fires off a Glitterdust spell to incapacite them. Jean-Baptiste and Ostovach run around the house to the collapsed wall and into the hallway on the other side of the door to the room. Kendra shoots the man sitting on the bench, and Abner breaks in the door.
Abner goes over to the acolyte holding the baby and attacks him with his straight razors. Jean-Baptiste breaks open the door, and Ostovach rolls into the room and catches the baby as the cultist drops it to draw a weapon. Ostovach rolls away from the cultist, clutching the baby to him and keeping his back to the cultist. The robed cultist rounds on Abner, and strikes him for a grievous wound. Gregore casts Burning Disarm on the attacking cultist, causing him to drop his weapon. Katarzyna casts a Web Bolt at the blinded cultist. Gregore tries to cast Hold Person on the cultist, but it doesn’t work. The blinded cultist manages to break free of the Web Bolt, and Jean-Baptiste shoots at him almost as soon as he stands up. Katarzyna casts Stoneskin on the baby, as she takes it from Ostovach so he can continue the fight. Jean-Baptiste shoots at the blind one again, and he hears a banging noise as something comes barreling down the hallway. Jean-Baptiste tells the others that “we’ve got company—fish man”. Kendra sees the creature, a female humanoid monster of aquatic derivation, coming down the hallway and shoots it with her gun. Ostovach gets up and draws his other sword, advancing toward the monstrous fish-woman. Gregore comes in through the window. The blinded man casts a spell, and wounds everyone with negative energy, including the baby. When the other cultist goes to cast a spell, Abner scores a nasty hit. Gregore tells Katarzyna to get the baby out of the room, and Katarzyna runs out of the room with the baby, fishing through her gear for a potion to pour down the baby’s throat.
Inside the room, Abner attacks the prone cultist. Gregore Pulses, and it heals them, including the baby. The fish-woman strikes Ostovach, knocking him past Jean-Baptiste, wounding him severely. Ostovach lands on his back, stunned. Jean-Baptiste drops Ostovach’s sword on his prone, but conscious form, and Jean-Baptiste attacks the fish-woman. The fish woman ignores Jean-Baptiste and attacks Ostovach again, and the blinded priest unsuccesfully tries to do so as well. Abner attacks the blinded cultist, and kills him. The frenzied fish-woman continues to ignore Jean-Baptiste, and kills Ostovach outright. Jean-Baptiste thinks the creature might be a brine-born, or swamp giant. Gregore tends to Ostovach, breathing life back into him the same way he had saved Katarzyna the previous day. He tells Kendra to get the baby from Katarzyna, and protect the baby so that Katarzyna can rejoin the fight. Kendra immediately runs to Katarzyna, who is hiding behind a ruined outbuilding. Katarzyna hands off the baby and runs back to the room.
Abner is attacked by the brine-born. A mist emanates from her mouth and wafts over to Abner. Ostovach stands up, and Gregore Pulses. Katarzyna zaps the brine-born with a Magic Missile. The brine-born speaks another spell in Abner’s direction. Gregore casts Searing Light at the brine-born, while Ostovach fires off an arrow, which seems to have little effect. Katarzyna fires off another Magic Missile, finally killing the brine-born, and Abner immediately severs its head. Katarzyna immediately runs out of the house back to Kendra and the baby, and tells Kendra that the coast is clear.
Abner immediately sets about searching the bodies of the slain villains. The brine-born was wearing an item of special note, a fish-gold armband [WOTW p.32]. Gregore tends to Ostovach, and Katarzyna brings the baby over to Gregore. He examines her, and lets them know that she is healthy. After he is healed, Ostovach offers to take the baby back to Illmarsh, so Katarzyna hands the baby off to him. He promises to return as soon as he can hand the baby off safely to someone in Illmarsh. With the immediate danger past, Katarzyna goes in and looks at the large boulder in the hallway wall. She notes that the rock is inscribed with Aklo runes.
Meanwhile, Jean-Baptiste continues his exploration of Undiomede House. He calls out to Katarzyna, and she leaves the hallway and enters a large rotunda with rough-hewn stone columns. The columns are actually the standing stones of a druid ring, called menhirs. Kendra enters the room and looks at the menhirs as well. When Katarzyna looks at the menhir at the northeast corner with Detect Magic, she notices that it is similar to a Phase Door. Kendra notices that the stone is inscribed in Aklo. She also notices that some portions have strong druidic markings, and that there is a depression where some sort of very specific object would be placed, possibly a key of some sort. Kendra also recognizes a symbol of Shub-Niggurath. Gregore tells them that Shub-Niggurath and Yog-Sothoth (the being from Carrion Hill) were ancient gods. He also mentions the reality warping goals of the Whispering Way. Jean-Baptiste urges Abner to go up the staircase, who finds a door at the top of the balcony. Jean-Baptiste and Abner go through the door, where they find a room with a low hearth and an elegant painting and other items, but there is a man with a trident in the room.
The man bears a resemblance to the son of Albor Voltiaro, and he is wearing a large helmet. Unsurprisingly, a fight ensues. Kendra and Katarzyna are still downstairs, so they have to hurry up the stairs. Albor Voltiaro hits Abner with a spell that knocks him out of the fight quickly. He attempts a Slay Living spell on Katarzyna, but it dissipates before it reaches her, for some unknown reason. They continue to lob spells and bullets at Albor Voltiaro. Eventually, they prevail, but Albor Voltairo’s head explodes in his final moments. Their elation is short-lived, as they realize that Albor Voltairo’s body has become another type of creature that is still fighting them. Katarzyna launches a lightning bolt at the creature. The nosoi takes off from Katarzyna’s shoulder, and tries to attack the tentacled creature, but misses. Jean-Baptiste manages to land a solid hit with his aberration-bane sword. The fight continues, and Katarzyna gets another good shot at it with a lightning bolt. Jean-Baptiste takes it down with his next attack.
Abner and Jean-Baptiste take potions to recover from the ability damage caused by the creature. Katarzyna investigates the room, looking for magical auras. She finds several items of interest on the corpse of Albor Voltairo. Looking at his body, she notices some unusual anomalies. Katarzyna decides to do a quick incision to look at his thoracic cavity and abdominal viscera. While Jean-Baptiste, Kendra and Katarzyna quickly dissect the body, Ostovach returns.
Gregore wonders aloud about Shub-Niggurath and Dagon. They aren’t related gods, and he wonders why Albor Voltairo would be involved with both. Ostovach hefts the trident, and points out to Katarzyna that it appears to be made for a creature with longer, webbed fingers. Abner shows them some smoking pipes that he found. One of them, a scrimshaw pipe, is carved in the style of one of the images in the Pnakotic Manuscripts. Kendra translates the Aklo cartouche on the pipe, and to no one’s surprise, it is the name Shub-Niggurath. This leads to a protracted discussion in which Gregore, Jean-Baptiste, Katarzyna and Ostovach talk about the demiplane of dread, Ravenloft, the Mists, Ossumbra, Grewin’s home plane, the hound archon, Scotland, the Dark Tapestry, and the Whispering Tyrant. There are so many tantalizing threads and mysteries, but for the moment, tying them together is elusive.
They continue to investigate the upper floor of the house. In the first room, they find a portrait of Claudius Undiomede and his son Manus. Kendra tells them that Claudius’ ancestor Cassius Undiomede was a pirate, and the lord of Versex decided to ennoble Cassius so that he could tax Cassius’ fortune.
Katarzyna opens a door, and there is a room with a collapsed east wall. The next room is a nursery, and west of that is a large office. Just off the office is Claudius Undiomede’s bedroom, with his wheeled chair. This room has a staircase that leads to the cupola. Abner ascends the stairs, and sees some crates and objects off to the side of the stairs. In the bedroom, Jean-Baptiste sees what can only be described as a tear in the fabric of reality. Coming out of this rift are two hellish hound creatures, who immediately attack.
The group faces off against the two creatures. Ostovach and Abner close with them and attack, and the creatures attack them in return. One uses a gaze attack on Abner, causing his skin to become greenish in hue and oddly distorted. The other one uses the same sort of attack on Ostovach, and it’s even more harmful. Jean-Baptiste attacks that one, and manages to wound it, but it’s not the devastating attack he was hoping for. One of the hounds leaps away from Abner and jumps into the void that it came through originally, then reappears through another rift in the wall behind Kendra, hitting her with its attack. The other one, fighting with Ostovach, rapidly blinks out of existence, almost too fast to keep track of. Gregore desperately summons the hound archon, who arrives almost instantaneously.
Abner attacks, wounding his target slightly. The hellhound jumps at Abner, moving away at the last moment. The attack doesn’t seem to affect Abner, but he is disoriented for a moment. The other one tears into Ostovach, or tries to, but it runs into the wall, stunning it for a moment. The hound archon immediately attacks the stunned creature. Jean-Baptiste attacks it as well. Katarzyna touches it with her Grave Touch ability, weakening it. Abner attacks the other one, wounding it again. Katarzyna uses her Grave Touch again, frightening the beast. Abner’s target leaps through the ceiling, jumping through and causing new rifts, while the other one also makes a leap toward a corner into another rift. The light in the room seems diffuse and otherworldly, but within the span of a few moments the room seems to return to normal.
Katarzyna goes to talk to the hound archon, who engages all of them in conversation about the hellhounds. He says the group is marked by Dagon by carrying his items. Katarzyna tells the hound archon that they are hoping they can find a way to get him out of “Ravenloft” so he can return to his home plane. When Katarzyna mentions Ossumbra in the discussion, the hound archon says that he can travel back to his home plane from there. Katarzyna tells him as much as she can about their experience in Karpad and the shadow mirror realm that led to Ossumbra. The hound archon tells them that he had been trying to travel to Lamordia, having heard that there is a way to leave Ravenloft in that realm. He bids farewell to Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste and the others, then speaks privately with Gregore, and leaves.
Abner goes and retrieves the bundle from upstairs, which contains a book. Kendra is able to read the cover, it is the name Shub-Niggurath. They discover that they have found the Book of Abstruse Geometries, stolen from Sincomakti University. It seems to be a book for summoning all sorts of dimensional shamblers. There are other items of interest in the book, including spells for teleportation and planar travel. Katarzyna is especially interested in the spells.
Abner and Jean-Baptiste go up the stairs to the cupola and widow’s walk. They find the corpse of a cultist, who had been brutally crushed in a depression in the floor of the cupola. The roof of the cupola is retractable, and is currently open to the sky. As they ponder the fate of the hapless cultist, a shadow passes over Jean-Baptiste and Abner. They hear a loud shriek as the great winged creature flies off into the diffuse fog hugging the swampy landscape. Downstairs, Katarzyna, Ostovach and Gregore hear the shriek, and they bound up the stairs to the cupola level. Ostovach sprints up to the cupola first, and Jean-Baptiste fires his gun up through the open roof of the cupola. The winged creature hears the report of the Jean-Baptiste’s gun, and it quickly flies back to Undiomede House. The creature barrels at the three gathered on the open cupola, but Jean-Baptiste dives through the trap door in the nick of time. The creature grabs Abner, but Ostovach attacks the creature as it passes by with Abner in its clutches. Ostovach rips through the creature’s wing, keeping it from flying away with Abner. The creature careens into the cupola, and drops Abner, almost landing on top of him as it falls, but Abner adroitly rolls out of the way. Katarzyna pops up on the cupola level and hits the creature with a lightning bolt. She rapidly fires off another one, then runs back down the stairs. Kendra pops up from below and shoots it with an Acid Arrow, and Jean-Baptiste fires off an acid bullet. The creature ignores all of them and focuses its attacks on Abner and Ostovach. Abner attacks it again, and finally manages to kill the creature. The creature thrashes around, knocking Ostovach down as it spasms in its death throes. Katarzyna runs back up when the sound of thrashing subsides. She inspects the body of the slain creature, which bears a strong resemblance to the dragons of the Scotland book. Ostovach notices Abner’s disheveled appearance, and uses Prestidigitation to clean Abner’s gore-soaked garments.
They return to the ground floor and continue to explore the manor house. Abner finds a small room in the hallway that turns out to be a privy, and a small bedroom with a narrow bed. Katarzyna looks at the surfaces of the menhirs in the hallway, which have the now familiar Aklo writing. Abner finds another room to the west of the small bedroom, clearly used mainly for storage with old crates and desiccated food storage. Kendra goes into the room, and spots signs of a scuffle in the room. She also sees signs of blood. Abner looks around, and finds a saddlebag in the room. He opens it, and finds a box in the saddlebag. There is also a broken box on the floor nearby. The broken box looks like it may have once held a small statue.
Ostovach and Katarzyna go into the other room, the westernmost door. It seems to be a carriage house. They both freeze as they hear a sound coming from the stalls. Katarzyna motions for Ostovach to check it out, and he drops his sword as soon as he sees what’s making the noise. It is a piebald mare, that looks like she hasn’t been fed in several days. He starts soothing the mare, and gives her an apple. Katarzyna approaches to get a closer look at the mare, but it’s clear she prefers the company of Ostovach.
They finish exploring the house, and decide to stay there for the night. They decide to use the second floor room in the northeast corner of the house, the memory of the fight with the hellhounds is too fresh for them to stay in Claudius Undiomede’s bedroom. Katarzyna reads as much as she can from the Book of Abstruse Geometries. Abner and Jean-Baptiste while away some time trying to remove a particularly fine painting from the wall, getting it ready to transport.
Wednesday, September 3rd, 758, Illmarsh, Ustalav
The night passes without incident, and they awaken and prepare for the day. Ostovach is down in the carriage house, tending to the piebald mare. Katarzyna casts her preparatory spells, including casting Stoneskin on Ostovach. They are all gearing up to go through the Phase Door in the menhir down in the rotunda. Jean-Baptiste places the keystone amulet on the menhir. It seems to match up to a series of runes. They see a shimmering image of stairs leading down beyond the menhir. Jean-Baptiste activates the portal and Abner goes through. Jean-Baptiste removes the amulet as he goes through, which closes the Phase Door before the others can proceed through it. When Jean-Baptiste reseats the amulet on the other side, it opens the portal so that the others can come through. The tunnels are damp and cramped, ranging in height from five to fifteen feet. It appears to be natural stone, with a few signs of being worked in places. There are some stalactites, but no stalagmites on the floor of the cavern or the stairs.
The stairs open to a wide natural cavern. An alcove to the north contains a glass tank. Inside the tank stands a perfectly preserved corpse of a man. There is a smell of compost emanating from the tunnels to the west. Katarzyna recognizes the corpse as the person who was featured in the statue in the center of town, Cassius Undiomede. There is also a bell, and a lectern with a book on it. A quick glance reveals that it is the journal of Cassius Undiomede. Ostovach gently snaps his fingers, alerting them to sound coming from the south tunnel. Abner quietly scouts down the tunnel, and he hears garbled vocalizations as he moves forward.
Before Abner can proceed very far, they are attacked by a huge amphibious creature, and combat ensues. Other amphbious creatures enter the fray. Gregore summons a giant feline creature. Jean-Baptiste goes running down another tunnel. Moments later, he comes running back, shouting that there is a giant mutated plant creature down that tunnel. Katarzyna goes down the tunnel until she can see the cavern, and throws a Web spell into the area, though she doesn’t see the creature that Jean-Baptiste mentioned.
After defeating the fishy creatures, Katarzyna and Ostovach go down the tunnels in the dark to scout ahead, Ostovach using a special ability to adapt his vision to see in the darkness. They find a large open chamber with a sizeable pit, and the mournful sound of a woman singing emanating from the pit. They return to the main chamber and tell the others what they’ve seen.
The group returns to the chamber, noticing patches of bioluminescent violet fungi, and there are bedrolls and what appear to be dressmaker dummies strewn about all over the floor of the cavern, several are child sized. Katarzyna casts Spider Climb on herself and climbs across the ceiling to look down into the pit on the far side of the room. Abner also approaches the pit, and looks down to find a naked woman cradling a baby and singing to it. Jean-Baptiste and Abner investigate the raised platforms. Jean-Baptiste takes a closer look at two of the dressmaker dummies, and discovers that they are in fact the dessicated remains of a woman and a baby. Jean-Baptiste goes to the pit and climbs down the ladder. He sees that the woman’s skin has a slightly orange hue. Jean-Baptiste talks to the woman, but she doesn’t remember her name and is clearly delirious. Jean-Baptiste sees that she is cradling the desiccated remains of a baby, which looks like it might be a hybrid of a human and an amphibian. Jean-Baptiste calls Gregore over to try to help the woman. Jean-Baptiste, Gregore, and Katarzyna realize that the woman is pregnant.
They eventually decide to explore the south tunnel leading from the room with the delirious woman. The tunnel goes 250 feet, then opens up into a cavern. There appears to be some kind of throne setup in the back of the chamber, and a chest near the center of the large room. There is a desiccated fish man on the ground near the small alcove to the west. Toward the throne, they see a well with colored energy emanating from it, glowing and swirling up into the chamber. Ostovach, Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste are fascinated by the colors, and are overcome by listlessness and ennui. Abner approaches it, and is attacked by the creature, and his skin starts to sizzle. Gregore breaks the enchantment on Katarzyna, and tells her to help the others.
They battle the creature, and eventually defeat it. When Katarzyna goes to examine the area from which it emanated, she sees that it was leashed to the cauldron by a chain that was affixed to the floor. Abner goes over to the chest and opens it. He notices that there is a set of matched rapiers. They are heavier than he expects, and they appear to be made of cold iron. There is an etched detail of demons falling under the sword. There is some kind of shield device where the haft meets the guard. The rapiers are magical as well as the leash. Kendra thinks that the creature is known as a “color out of space” that lives in the same voids as the Dark Tapestry hellhounds and similar creatures.
They all notice that they are dehydrated from fighting the energy creature, and a bit worn out. All except Ostovach, that is. They reason that because Ostovach was under the spell of the creature during the fight, it was immune to its side effects. Katarzyna and Kendra look at the leash of force, and Kendra thinks that it might be able to be worked loose.
There is coinage in the chest. It appears to be pre-Ustalavic. In a small compartment is a sort of book. Jean-Baptiste looks at it. It is covered in wax. It looks like it might have at one time been a military payroll ledger for a country called Cheliax. Kendra says that at the end of the Shining Crusades, that Kaldor and Mendev imprisoned the Whispering Tyrant. She thinks this may have been the prison of the Whispering Tyrant. This causes them all to wonder if that is the case, where is the Whispering Tyrant now? There is still the matter of the other tunnel leading off from the cavern of the dessicated corpses.
The group decides where to go next. Gregore is loathe to leave the shambling mound webbed up behind them. Kendra decides to use her Mind’s Eye to look down the western tunnel. Katarzyna reviews the journal of Cassius Undiomede. He talks about his first meeting with the Neighbors. The text doesn’t describe them, but makes reference to submerged tunnels at the bottom of Avalon Bay at the base of the Tern Rocks. Later entries detail his lordship and the Fostering Pact. “I can only ensure the health and prosperity of Baytown by giving up my daughters and the daughters of my heirs”.
They decide to go into the shambling mound chamber and destroy it before moving on. Gregore heals Abner from the earlier fight. They decide to attack it from both tunnels. Kendra, Abner and Katarzyna attack from the west tunnel, while Ostovach, Jean-Baptiste, and Gregore attack from the east tunnel. Katarzyna drops the Web spell in the chamber, and the group rolls in to attack. The floor slopes down toward the north of the cavern, which is submerged under fetid water. A grotesque mound of mold and spores rises up to meet them. Gregore advances on the creature first, followed by Kendra, Jean-Baptiste, Abner and Ostovach. They defeat it, but Abner is wounded badly. Gregore tends to him, as Katarzyna examines the helm that is found on the other side of the cavern. It is a strange helm, that allows the wearer to see and breathe underwater. Kendra uses her third eye to determine that it once belonged to a marine officer named Thomas, who fought against the hordes of the Whispering Tyrant. The activating phrase is “always faithful”.
Gregore starts doffing his breastplate, which was damaged by the shambling mound. He uses a Make Whole spell to restore the dented armor. Jean-Baptiste, Katarzyna and Ostovach dissect the shambling mound. They find some small bits of bone. Katarzyna is able to determine that the bones are from female individuals, and that there are some fragments that look like they are from children.
Gregore works with the pregnant woman, and manages to bring forth one of her more competent personalities, who calls herself Melissa. They manage to get her clothed and ready to travel. They activate the Phase Door and leave the cavern complex. They return to the house above, and gather their items and prepare to leave. Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste go to the family cemetery near the site. They see only a few graves, including the most recent one for Claudius Undiomede, who died 40 years ago. The oldest grave is for Cassius Undiomede, but it is sunken. Since they had already seen where the remains of Cassius Undiomede ended up, the condition of his grave is not unexpected. Jean-Baptiste, Katarzyna and Gregore regroup at the house and talk about what it all means. Gregore mentions Judge Embreth’s note, and speculates that this is all part of the Whispering Way’s plans to destabilize the Whispering Tyrant’s prison.
They decide to go back to town, and take “Melissa” and the piebald mare back to Illmarsh. They ask at the town hall, and are told that Mayor Greedle is not there, but they are welcome to try his home. When they arrive at the mayor’s house, the door is ajar, and Gregore goes in to to investigate. Gregore does not find the mayor, or any significant amount of blood. Jean-Baptiste also investigates the area. Katarzyna keeps Melissa outside while the others investigate the house, to keep her from being traumatized by anything they might find. Jean-Baptiste searches the scene and finds very little evidence, but he does find a fish scale.
The sherriff arrives, and starts an argument with Jean-Baptiste. They leave the house and decide what to do next. Clearly the mayor has been kidnapped. Gregore takes Melissa back to the inn. The others also retire to the inn. Jean-Baptiste spends the evening reading Arisid’s Journal.
When Katarzyna retires to her room, she goes to start reading the Book of Abstruse Geometries. She hears a voice in her head, that says “be careful”. Surprised, she looks over at the nosoi, who is currently in the shape of an ordinary bird, cleaning its feathers. It speaks to Katarzyna in Celestial, and tells her the it can bond with her if she wishes it. Instead of reading, as she had planned, she spends the rest of the evening performing rites and rituals with the nosoi’s instruction. During the night, Katarzyna wakes up in the middle of a summoning circle. She hears a haunting melody.
Gregore deals with issues related to Melissa/Sarah, who keeps cycling through her personalities. He also meets Layla, a personality who seems to be about six years old.
Thursday, September 4th, 758, Illmarsh, Ustalav
In the morning, Gregore talks with Abner and Ostovach about helping Melissa/Sarah/Layla with her issues. Ostovach knocks on Katarzyna’s door, then Jean-Baptiste’s, and informs them that they will be meeting for breakfast soon. Katarzyna helps Melissa get dressed into decent clothes. The others discuss what to do, and Ostovach suggests letting the town herbalist, Jallene Halrush, take care of the girl while they’re out. They go to her shop, and Gregore speaks with Jallene. She agrees to take care of Melissa/Sarah/Layla.
They go next to see Horace Croon. He is very upset to learn the truth about the Neighbors and the daughters of Illmarsh. He agrees to help them go to Tern Rocks with Croon’s submersible. He asks for Ostovach’s help in preparing the ship. Kendra and Jean-Baptiste go the general store, where Katarzyna had spied the magical items. Jean-Baptiste uses his strange ability on the shop owner. The spiders spread out across the floor. The man agrees to sell them the portable hole for 3,000 GP. The man chats with Jean-Baptiste a bit, his tongue loosened by the strange ability. He mentions that his family has not been “blessed by Dagon” with daughters they could give to the neighbors. After they leave, Jean-Baptiste tells the others about this disturbing conversation.
They return to the Lonely Key where Ostovach is helping Horace Croon. They see the submersible fully out of the water for the first time. Horace Croon ushers them onto his boat. Ostovach and Gregore are not going to be in the submersible, so Katarzyna casts Stoneskin on them. Gregore has the helm of swimming, and he plans to cast a spell on Ostovach to help him breathe underwater. Gregore tests the helm in the shallow water by the boat. He tells Jean-Baptiste that he will probably need a spell to help with the cold.
Kendra mentions something called a soulgate, and says that they should talk about it more later. As they sail out toward the Tern Rocks, it starts to rain. Katarzyna ducks under the submersible to avoid the rain. Jean-Baptiste and Gregore spot something in the water as they get closer. Gregore asks Horace if he has ever encountered a sea creature with large tentacles. Katarzyna’s nosoi tells them it is the Watcher in the Deep. It comes belowdecks and talks to Katarzyna, and she gives it some morsels of food.
Horace Croon maneuvers the Isenglass to the Tern Rocks, and they see the bodies of criminals decomposing in their shackles on the shore of the desolate islets. He shows them how to operate the submersible, and gives them air breathing tubes with a single breath of air in it. He then shakes the mens’ hands and kisses the ladies’ hands, and bids them good luck.
They descend in the submersible. When they are almost to the halfway point, they see a leviathan coming toward them, flanked by two sharks. Katarzyna uses her Feast on Fear ability to target the leviathan, but it has no effect. Jean-Baptiste turns himself into an aquatic creature to engage the sharks and the giant squid. Kendra and Katarzyna are horrified to see that the giant creature casts a spell, launching a lightning bolt at Ostovach. The two sharks then attack Ostovach, but he eludes them for the moment. Jean-Baptiste prepares spells to allow himself and Abner to leave the diving bell and join the fight. The leviathan latches onto the diving bell. It squirts ‘unholy blood’ into the diving bell. Everything inside the diving bell is covered in the thick black blood. Jean-Baptiste dives out of the bell and uses Enlarge Person on himself, and battles the creature. Katarzyna causes one of the sharks to flee. Ostovach and Jean-Baptiste manage to kill the leviathan as it tries to flee.
Jean-Baptiste maintains his amphibian form and continues his descent. Abner returns to the diving bell. The diving bell continues to descend as well, and it is hot and oppressive inside. There is a dome of dully shining grey metal on the seabed below. The diving bell settles on the seabed floor, then Croon lifts it so that it is five feet above the seabed. Katarzyna is instantly buffeted by the weight of the ocean as she exits the diving bell, taking a fair amount of damage. The nosoi stays in the diving bell. They come to a place where a sort of permeable membrane allows them to enter a space with breathable air. Abner swims with Kendra to the cave entrance, and Ostovach carries Katarzyna. Gregore still has the helm, so he simply walks along the seabed to the cavern entrance. Abner and Kendra arrive at the portal first, and he pushes her through before him. Jean-Baptiste maintains his fish-man form. Gregore and Ostovach are last to enter the cave. Ostovach tells them to wait, and he returns with his armor. Eventually Jean-Baptiste’s spell ends and he reverts to his natural form. Katarzyna contacts her nosoi and asks if everything is okay, and it gives her the all-clear.
They walk 60 or so feet down the cavern passageway. There are jars with some sort of bioluminescent fungi. The enter a dark room, with a repulsive fishy smell and a sickly green glow in the feeble light of the lantern. It is an enormous area, and Jean-Baptiste gives them all darkvision, except for Katarzyna, who already has it. Ostovach puts away the lantern. They hear a bubble sound, and they see a rend in the fabric in reality as two hideous creatures emerge from the rift.
They immediately attack Abner and Jean-Baptiste. Katarzyna hits it with two Magic Missiles, and it teleports away from Jean-Baptiste and reappears near Katarzyna and attacks. Kendra shoots one, doing grievous damage and killing it. The other creature immediately disengages from Abner and Gregore and attacks Kendra. Katarzyna hears movement on the other side of the cavern and goes to investigate. She sees a group of attackers amassing, so she throws a Web on them. She then hits them with Waves of Fatigue. Meanwhile, the others continue to fight the other outsider, finally felling it. Ostovach asks the others if they’re okay. He calls out to Katarzyna, but she doesn’t answer right away. They do see a huge flame as Katarzyna sets the Web ablaze with Burning Hands. Eventually a couple of the creature emerge from the burning webs, but they are different from the others they’ve faced. Their skulls have been cut away to expose the brain. Katarzyna throws a lightning bolt down the hallway, killing the two creatures lumbering toward them, and the bolt continues down to cavern. There are a few standing at the end of the hallway. There are about eight of them, some who don’t seem fatigued, but it’s clear they have been through a harrowing experience. Katarzyna throws a Glitterdust down the hallway, blinding a few of the fatigued fish-men. Jean-Baptiste kills one of the two that ran up to engage. Kendra shoots at the other and kills it. She then goes down the hallway and uses Burning Hands to finish off the fatigued group in the hallway. Ostovach kills the last remaining opponent.
In the cave complex beyond the hallway, the group finds carvings depicting ‘deep ones’ fornicating with human women. In one of the chambers they find a baby blanket with some residual fish scales. In the next cave, they fight a creature they later identify as a zill, then they face off against a hellhound. After these harrowing fights, they are all hit with a Flame Strike, and Gregore struggles to keep them all in fighting shape. Subsequent to that, they battle a deadly dretch. Eventually they confront a cleric or oracle of Shub-Niggurath, and defeat him after a strenuous fight. Kendra is almost killed at one point, but a remarkably lucky blow from Katarzyna of all people manages to save her from death. They quickly deduce that the cleric of Shub-Niggurath had summoned the creatures. Among the items discovered after this fight, they find a grime-encrusted mace, which they discover is very effective against undead. It had once been used by a Warrior of the Shining Crusade who fought the Whispering Tyrant. It is a holy relic of the faith of Pharasma, and it has been missing for a long time. Gregore decides to hang on to it and use it, and no one objects. The group thinks that the mace might have something to do with the Raven line in the Whispering Way poem.
Kendra uses her third eye to investigate the tunnels nearby. In one, she sees a creature feeding corpses into some sort of machine. In another, she sees a giant creature with a bizarre body, like an animal, with arms and legs each seemingly comprised of an entire human body. It is difficult for her to describe to the others, but she tries. Everyone blanches at her description. Continuing her scouting, Kendra sees another cavern, this one containing a statue. They decide to rest and regain their abilities, in case they are heading off to face more troublesome foes. They fight the two creatures that Kendra has seen with her third eye, the ones feeding corpses into the machine that rendered them into some sort of grotesque pulp. They find Mayor Greedle’s body, and the bodies of several other individuals. One of the bodies was clearly one of the girls held captive by the fish-men. During the night, they fight a creature that attacks from the hallway.
Friday, September 5th, 758, Illmarsh, Ustalav
They break camp in the grotto room, and gear up and get ready to continue through the complex. Abner inspects the corpse-pulping machine. To his horror, Abner’s hand gets stuck in the machine. Katarzyna wonders aloud what the actual purpose of the machine is, what use the cultists would have for the pulped remains of the lobotomized people. Abner manages to get his hand out of the machine, though he is injured, and manages to remove one of the crystals that powers the mechanism. Gregore tends to Abners injury, and Abner continues trying to disable the device and retrieve the other three crystals.
Jean-Baptiste inspects the doorway at the east end of the grotto room, and cautiously looks through the permeable membrane into the large chamber beyond. He returns to the others, and tells them that the doorway leads under the dome that they saw from outside when they were underwater in the submersible. There are four of the migo creatures in the room, and one of them is pulling the brain out of a seemingly deceased human body.
At the doorway, Katarzyna and Kendra creep up to the edge of the permeable membrane, to see for themselves what Jean-Baptiste had seen. They see the four migo, and the unfortunate human having his brain removed. They return to Abner and Gregore, and Abner gives Kendra one of the crystals from the device. She inspects the crystal, and tells them that it is a very rare mineral, one she has never seen in person, and that it might not be from the realm of Ravenloft.
Jean-Baptiste hands Katarzyna the silver wand. It appears to be crafted of an unknown alloy and crystal, and it requires two hands to use. Katarzyna is unable to learn anything useful from it. Kendra offers to commune with spirits to discover the properties of the wand.
Abner wants to eliminate the two migos in the passage just north of the grotto room, after he disables the corpse-pulping device. He is finally able to remove the last crystal. Jean-Baptiste wants one of the crystals, and so Abner gives him one.
They go to the north hallway. Abner tries to assassinate one of the creatures before it can react. Unfortunately, the attempt does only a small amount of damage, and the creature whirls to face Abner. Kendra strides into the hallway and shoots at one of the creatures. It grabs her, and Katarzyna shoots it with a Magic Missile. Ostovach attacks the one threatening Abner. Gregore pulls out the healing wand and uses it on Kendra. Jean-Baptiste runs in and stabs the one attacking Kendra. Kendra attacks the migo again, and Katarzyna shoots it with Magic Missiles again. Jean-Baptiste also attacks it, and finishes the creature before it can react. That leaves just the one engaged with Abner. It attacks Abner four times. One of the attacks makes Abner drop one of his weapons. Gregore calls out that they’ve got company, and he runs out and engages the two other migo outside. Gregore hits one of the ones outside, and Jean-Baptiste swings and misses. The migo inside the small room attacks Abner and Jean-Baptiste. It tags Jean-Baptiste, but he quickly kills it.
Abner picks up his weapon, and runs out of the room to face the other two migo. Jean-Baptiste attacks one of them as well. Finally Katarzyna’s Feast On Fear ability affects one of the creatures and it flees up the north tunnel. Ostovach switches its attack to the other migo. Katarzyna sees the migo that had fled running back down the hallway, covered in blood. It falls down, and is dragged back into the darkness beyond. Meanwhile, Abner finishes off the one inside the room, while Ostovach finishes off the other one out in the hallway, Gregore then heals the others.
Kendra again attempts to describe the creature in the chamber that presumably attacked the fleeing migo. Katarzyna asks the nosoi, still in the diving bell, if the description sounds like anything it had ever seen, but it doesn’t sound familiar.
Abner and Jean-Baptiste are very curious about the creature in the north room, so they take the lantern and go forth. Katarzyna and Gregore have reservations about facing the creature. Abner, Ostovach and Jean-Baptiste go down the tunnel, and get a look at the creature. They get a look at the room, but don’t see any sort of creature in the room. The room is filled with an appalling stench. Jean-Baptiste creeps into the room, moving deeper in, goading the creature into revealing itself. Abner goes back to the bodies of the migo, and cuts off the head of one of the creatures. Jean-Baptiste launches the severed head into the abbatoir, hoping that it will lure the creature out of hiding. Nothing happens. Abner gets another one, and throws it in. Again, nothing happens. They decide to leave the cavern. Before they can, though, the floor erupts and giant stone spikes shoot out of the floor. Katarzyna and Kendra are out in the main chamber when this happens. Jean-Baptiste and Abner are able to satisfy their curiosity as the creature comes into view. They all run out of the room, injuring themselves on the floor spikes, and as they emerge into the hallway, Katarzyna throws a Web spell into the tunnel. Gregore comes out limping and gritting his teeth. He asks Katarzyna to use Prestidigitation to clean his boot, which is filled with blood. Jean-Baptiste and Ostovach enthusiastically describe the creature to Katarzyna, who listens with bemused patience. Gregore doesn’t seem the worse for wear, so they get ready to go further into the complex. They decide to explore the “brain room” next.
The walls of this room are lit with a subtle glow. This room is rectangular in shape, unlike the natural caverns elsewhere. Abner immediately wants to destroy all the jars with brains in them. Katarzyna urges caution. She notices magical auras on the jars. Gregore counts the brains, and there are 14 brains, and he tells them that they are still alive. Kendra stands in front of one of the jars, and she hears the sound of someone speaking coming from the jar with a tinny sound. Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna come over, and Jean-Baptiste and Kendra are able to determine the function of the knobs on the jars. One of the knobs controls the clarity of speech. They can also speak into one of the tubes. Jean-Baptiste and Kendra speak with one of the brains. Katarzyna looks at the rest of the brains, and notices that there are human and fishfolk brains. She looks at all the brains and tries to glean information about them. Jean-Baptiste continues to talk to the brain in the jar. The brain that Jean-Baptiste is speaking with is named Matilda. She tells him that the last thing she remembers was being at home in Illmarsh, baking a pie. Jean-Baptiste promises to get her a new body. She tells him that if he cannot, then he must destroy what is left.
Katarzyna counts 5 brains that belong to the fishfolk/deep ones. She talks with Jean-Baptiste and Kendra about what to do next. Abner impulsively wants to destroy the empty canisters, but Kendra and Katarzyna again stay his hand. They try to talk to several of the brains, but five of them are completely unresponsive or speak in gibberish. Jean-Baptiste marks the canisters with unresponsive brains. The seventh brain they speak with seems to be Mayor Greedle. He is barely coherent, but he speaks to them in plaintive tones about stopping Shub-Niggurath. Jean-Baptiste wants to speak with one of the fishfolk. After trying a couple jars, he finds one that can speak coherently, and the fishman tells Jean-Baptiste that he wanted to bring something called Cthulu to this world, but instead brought the migo and the color-out-of-space. The fishman says that they had been shipping all the brains to the Dark Tapestry through the druid circle at Undiomede House. He is unrepentant and abrasive in his conversation with Jean-Baptiste, so when they are done talking, Jean-Baptiste has Abner destroy the canister and the brain inside. Abner is unable to break the glass, but he does open the latch and dumps the brain out onto the floor, killing it.
They decide to attack the group of migo in the domed room. Katarzyna tries to start a conversation about tactics, but is quickly shut down. She does, however, cast Stoneskin on Gregore and Ostovach. Gregore tells them about Goldana, who faced the Whispering Tyrant. They are all inspired by his speech. Jean-Baptiste then starts a discussion about tactics, and they all listen. Is is then that Katarzyna suggests sneaking in first and throwing some area-of-effect spells on the migo, softening them up for the others. They all agree to this approach.
Katarzyna tries to sneak into the room first to hit them with Waves of Fatigue, but one of the migo sees her, and she has to defend herself from its attack instead. The others immediately join the fray. Ostovach rolls in and attacks the migo on Katarzyna, followed by Jean-Baptiste. Other migos attack, and at the same moment, the head of the corpse on the table explodes in a rain of gore, and grotesque slugs writhe and churn out of the cranial cavity. Ostovach manages to kill one of the migo, and shortly thereafter Kendra kills a second one. Katarzyna, blocked from attacking or casting spells because she is behind the others, casts Spider Climb on herself so she can get a better view of the room. She sees an appalling sight, the mass of slugs has become a creature pulsating and coalescing into an amorphous mass with tentacles. Jean-Baptiste also sees it, just as he kills one of the migo. “Oh my god, we have a god,” he quips. He shouts to the others that the huge creature is a manifestation of Shub-Niggurath, as he rushes to engage another target. There is an eerie chanting as the creature continues to metamorphose. Katarzyna and Kendra can understand the Aklo incantation, “the way is laid bare for you, come Shub-Niggurath”. They pass this information along to the others, in breathless shouts as they move about the room.
The fight continues. Kendra casts Gravity Bow on her weapon. Gregore casts Angelic Aspect, forming his now familiar wings of Mist. Shub-Niggurath, or rather the newly formed avatar of the dark god, attacks Abner and wounds him severely. Katarzyna hits the abomination with a Lightning Bolt, but it doesn’t seem to do any damage. The creature continues to attack. Jean-Baptiste attacks and hits it, as does Abner. Kendra uses her Gravity Bow and True Strike, and she appears to do some damage to it. Several of the group see disturbing dark shadows and the terrifying silhouette of giant tentacles in the murky water outside the dome. Katarzyna’s spells are ineffective, so she stays out of the fray, as Abner, Gregore, Ostovach and Jean-Baptiste attack the writhing avatar of Shub-Niggurath. Kendra hovers in the background, waiting to dole out healing to those who need it. Kendra heals an ailing Abner, who had borne the brunt of several of the creature’s attacks, and Ostovach attacks it again. Jean-Baptiste attacks it a final time, and all the chanting Aklo voices reverberate into cacophony, as the creature lurches and falls down, dead.
Without waiting to catch his breath, Ostovach goes over to the body and grabs it and a bin, and some other items nearby. Abner also starts taking stock of the room, while Gregore eyes his comrades to see if anyone is severely injured. Within moments, they hear ominous noises as the glass dome above starts to crack. They all decide to make a hasty exit through the permeable membrane between the domed room and grotto room. The esoteric equipment in the room is also starting to spark and overload, and eventually water starts to trickle in through the larger cracks. Jean-Baptiste is the last one in the room, curious about the strange equipment and trying to find some means to identify its function.
In the bin retrieved by Ostovach, there is a scimitar. It has a magical aura, emanating moderate evocation magic. It has very small serrations, and an inscription that says “fear the way, for we will have your blood”. With Kendra and Katarzyna’s abilities, they determine that it has the ability to cause wounds that won’t close, causing the target to bleed continuously. Abner claims the scimitar with considerable enthusiasm. They also find a chain shirt, wrought from two different types of metal. The pattern of links resemble roiling clouds. This item also has the telltale aura of magic, this time having an aura comprised of conjuration and illusion magic. Kendra determines that it is a suit of Shadow Mist mail, and that it was a legendary suit of armor worn by the prince of Barstoi. It is said that it could turn the prince into a fog cloud. Ostovach is the ultimate recipient of the item, after a brief discussion. They also find a leather belt with a bronze buckle featuring a bull’s head and a sunburst, as well as Akiri glyphs. The belt is magical as well, having the property of moderate transmutation. The Akiri glyphs translate to ‘renewer of life’ and ‘strong bull as Mother Hathor’, with Hathor being the god of strength and fertility. Jean-Baptiste becomes the wearer of this belt. The other noteworthy items in the bin are a puzzle box and a scroll tube. The box, which Abner carefully opens, contains the Sea Sage Effigy, which gives off a magical aura of strong divination and transmutation. There is a diamond worth five hundred gold pieces, 155 platinum coins, and a Whispering Way amulet. The scroll tube contains a note. It reads
“Necrophageous secrets whisper, through chronicles of Raven’s tongue.”
“These words now familiar to you are your next task, take the Sea Sage Effigy to G.L. in Illmarsh and exchange it for the legendary mace, then join your partner in Caliphas and the Carrion Crown can finally be completed for the glory of the Whisperer. A."
They leave the grotto room, and return to the room with the brains in jars. All of them have lost access to whatever strange assembly imbued them with sustaining power, and they learn to their dismay that all the brains inside the jars have died. They talk about the logistics of trying to bring back Greedle, but ultimately decide that it is impractical and probably wouldn’t succeed anyway. They also talk about trying to dispel the permeable membranes throughout the cave complex, to flood the entire enterprise and hopefully kill the abomination in the room north of the hallway, the last loose end. They also talk about dealing with the creature directly. Jean-Baptiste is loathe to deal with it, but Ostovach is eager, having an especial dislike for such creatures. They also talk about using Katarzyna’s Dimension Door to leave the complex, and they ultimately decide to split up. Katarzyna takes Kendra and Abner back up to the Tern Rocks with her Dimension Door, and Katarzyna takes the box with the Sea Sage Effigy with her, as well as the scroll tube. The plan is that Katarzyna will bring the other three back with another casting of Dimension Door after they have satisfied their curiosity about the cave complex and the last remaining creature. Jean-Baptiste also asks them to try to locate some kind of a pipe, so that they can span the permeable membrane with an opening that will allow the influx of water in a relatively controlled manner. Since she has several castings of Dimension Door, Katarzyna plans to use one of them to give them the pipe, if Horace Croon has one that is suitable.
Up on the Tern Rocks, Katarzyna, Kendra and Abner see Horace Croon on the deck of the Isenglass, and after they wave to get his attention, he rows over in a small dinghy and takes them back to the boat. Croon tells them that the Watcher In the Waves had filled the water with tentacles while they were away. Croon gives them a pipe, and Katarzyna uses Dimension Door to try to give the item to Jean-Baptiste. He says it’s not big enough, so Croon takes some time and crafts a larger pipe.
Meanwhile, down below, the domed room slowly fills with water, and the sparking machinery finally shuts down completely. The permeable membranes keeping the water out of the caves start to give way. Gregore, Ostovach and Jean-Baptiste frantically push through the membranes and swim away from the caves as fast as they can, donning their water-breathing items as they do so. Jean-Baptiste again takes the form of one of the fishfolk, Ostovach dons the breathing helmet, and Gregore uses one of Jean-Baptiste’s infusions to breathe underwater. Gregore and Jean-Baptiste manage to swim clear as the water finally rushes into the air-filled complex, but Ostovach is pulled into the caves with tremendous force. Jean-Baptiste watches in horror as Ostovach disappears into the darkness.
In the Isenglass, Kendra, Abner, Katarzyna and Croon see a massive air pocket erupt from the water’s surface. Katarzyna and Kendra quickly surmise that the dome has collapsed, and that the permeable membrane doors have failed. Katarzyna empathically links to the nosoi, who confirms their hypothesis. Gregore eventually manages to swim to the diving bell, where he talks through the nosoi and tells the group in the Isenglass that Ostovach was sucked into the caves and that Jean-Baptiste went after him. Katarzyna is very nervous, as is Croon, and they all wait for what seems an eternity, until the nosoi tells Katarzyna that it sees a person swimming out, holding a limp body. When Jean-Baptiste and the inert Ostovach arrive at the diving bell, the group above begins the process of raising it.
Inside the submersible, Gregore examines Ostovach, who is alive, but unconscious. Gregore is dismayed to discover that Ostovach has suffered a broken spine, as well as numerous broken bones, lacerations and internal injuries. Gregore does what he can to stabilize Ostovach’s condition, but his ability is limited by the constraints of the diving bell. Two hours pass as they raise the diving bell, which finally breaks the surface of the water. Croon rows out to them in the dinghy, and Jean-Baptiste and Gregore drag the limp form of Ostovach onto the boat. The nosoi also breaks the surface and flies up and away.
Gregore asks for Kendra and Katarzyna’s help to try to heal Ostovach. Katarzyna starts tackling the worst of Ostovach’s injuries, using her skills as an anatomist to set bones and repair deep tissue wounds. Croon has a healer’s kit, and Katarzyna and Gregore make good use of it. Gregore and Katarzyna have to perform a trepanning on Ostovach to relieve pressure from his brain swelling. Gregore also calls Abner over. He tells Abner to take a coin and beat it into the thin shape of the bit of skull that he removed. Abner quickly makes the metal plate. Katarzyna gets busy making incisions with her adamantine surgical knife, directed by Gregore. Between Gregore, Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna, with assistance from Croon, Abner and Kendra, they dress Ostovach’s wounds, covering the trepanning incision with the bit of bone and the metal plate. Kendra then uses the healing wand to help Ostovach along with the healing. Abner also continues to work on hammering the dent out of the helmet. Just when they think they’re finished, Gregore notices a yellow tinge to Ostovach’s skin. He tells Katarzyna that there is a bone fragment piercing the liver. Katarzyna makes an incision just beneath the rib cage and Gregore removes the fragment. Kendra has to use the wand several times to assist in the surgical effort, as various bits of flesh are cut away and stitched back together. Katarzyna makes judicious use of her Prestidigitation cantrip to keep all the items and implement clean and free of contaminants.
It’s about 6 p.m. as they raise anchor and head back to Illmarsh. They are eager to get Ostovach back so he can rest in relative comfort. They cobble together a stretcher to keep Ostovach immobilized. A couple of hours later they arrive at the wharf, and they manage to make their way to Croon’s house around 10 p.m. Gregore and Jean-Baptiste get Ostovach ensconced in the main room, near the fireplace so he can stay warm. Kendra and Katarzyna decide to sleep in the main room as well, watching over Ostovach in case his condition changes during the night. Both women are rather tired, so they quickly fall asleep. Jean-Baptiste stays up with Horace Croon for a bit. The nosoi hovers near Ostovach, its medicine mask more ornate than usual. It sings a low dirge.
Saturday, September 6th, 758, Illmarsh, Ustalav, Teleport to Lepidstadt, Ustalav
They awaken early, Gregore prays to Ezra and Katarzyna prepares her spells. Gregore checks on Ostovach as soon as he finishes his prayers and ablutions. Gregore starts casting a spell called Rapid Repair. Katarzyna watches intently. Gregore makes a small incision to remove the metal plate in Ostovach’s skull. He then sets the skin back together to let the skin knit together magically. Gregore has Jean-Baptiste remove the straps on makeshift stretcher. After a few moments, Ostovach opens his eyes and blinks. He is stiff, but he seems okay. He is happy to be done with the harrowing ordeal. He tells them that he was awake for most of his bones being broken as he was carried through the caves. Other than a small patch of hair that was crudely cut for the trepanning, he looks none the worse for wear.
Shortly thereafter, Croon wanders into the main room in his smallclothes, and shuffles toward the kitchen. He catches sight of the others in the common room, all staring at him with quizzical expressions, so he hurriedly returns to his room for a robe.
Jean-Baptiste tells the others that he wants to confront the people of Illmarsh about their collusion with the fishfolk. While the others finish their preparations to leave, he walks into town and locates Sherriff Rill Anders. Jean-Baptiste gives him the abridged rundown of everything that happened with the fishfolk. He tells the sherriff to gather the townfolk at high noon.
At noon, the group returns to the town hall, where only the sherriff, the surly innkeeper and Jallene Halrush have assembled. Jean-Baptiste nevertheless delivers his rousing speech to the three people present.
After the trio of townsfolk disperse, the group discusses their plan for their next steps. Kendra wants to head directly to Caliphas, to track down “A” and the other riders of the Whispering Way. Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna want to use one of Katarzyna’s newly learned spells to rapidly travel to Lepidstadt. Katarzyna wants to speak with Judge Daramid, to fill her in on all of the major things that have happened since they left the city weeks prior, and Jean-Baptiste wants to speak with the judge as well. Gregore wants to travel with them, and he wants to bring the young girl they rescued from the fishfolk’s lair under Undiomede House. There are quick farewells as they break into two groups, bound for two different destinations. Kendra gives Katarzyna a warm hug, and a hastily written note to give to Judge Daramid.
Lepidstadt: Katarzyna, Jean-Baptiste, Gregore and “Sarah” use a Teleport spell to travel to Lepidstadt. They arrive at Kendra’s townhouse without incident. Sarah is a bit freaked out by the experience, but Gregore calms her down quickly. Gregore and Sarah head downstairs, where they hear whistling from the kitchen. Gregore speaks briefly with a suprised Victor and a delighted Jominda. Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna hear the reunion in muffled tones upstairs.
Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna also speak with Victor, then walk to Judge Daramid’s house, enjoying the rare chance to take a moment and just be in the town. They arrive at the estate, and they enter after a brief conversation with the butler. They are shown into the parlor, where they await Judge Daramid. The butler asks them if they want refreshment, and he has servants bring tea and biscuits. When they greet Judge Daramid, Jean-Baptiste greets her with a strange Aklo greeting. Embreth is perturbed by this greeting, and her eyes dart accusingly at Katarzyna, who is also looking at Jean-Baptiste with concern. The moment passes, and they turn to talk of the groups exploits since leaving Lepidstadt. Embreth is devastated to learn the Farren is dead. Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna trip over each other trying to tell her of all the things that have happened. Embreth is very disturbed to learn of several of the things they’ve run across, most especially Arisid’s Journal and the mace they describe. Abruptly, Judge Daramid asks Katarzyna if she will vouch for Jean-Baptiste, and Katarzyna says that she will. She then asks Katarzyna to leave while she questions Jean-Baptiste alone. She does insist that Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste have dinner with her that evening. Judge Daramid questions Jean-Baptiste at length, in the same way that she had questioned Katarzyna and Kendra before him. She seems somewhat more at ease with him after hearing his answers.
Meanwhile, Katarzyna goes out shopping for a bag of holding. She also pops back into the townhouse to let Victor know that they won’t be there for dinner. He is crestfallen, but she tells him that they will be there for breakfast. Katarzyna’s shopping odyssey first uncovers a mind-master’s eyes. They look like thin-faceted ruby crystal contact lenses, that allow the wearer to ensorcel or beguile monsters or people. She also meets someone who knows someone who has a belt for sale. It is one that allows one to attain physical perfection in strength, nimbleness and agility. It’s tempting, but she doesn’t have the money for it (65,000 GP). She also finds someone willing to sell a Staff of the Dark Flame (45,000 GP) and a ring of wizardry (100,000 GP), but they are much too expensive and really unsuited for her. She also finds a ring of the ram, which grants the wearer the ability to command a force energy ram at a distance of 50 feet. It currently has a full set of 30 charges. The ring is 8,500 GP.
As she is making the rounds of all the local peddlars and collectors in Lepidstadt, a strange man takes her into a shop, where he asks her if she is affiliated with the Lepidstadt Government, her answering in the affirmative ends the would-be transaction. She continues shopping, and runs across a Gunfighter’s Poncho, from the mainland, which gives a bonus to AC due to the amount of luck of the original wearer, and once per day the wearer can negate a single ranged touch attack. It costs 14,000 GP. There is also another cloak, which is for sale at a bar that is failing. The bar owner gives Katarzyna a sob story about a sick wife, which she quickly recognizes as a bargaining tactic. The cloak is made from the skin of a manta. It is a cloak that imparts some of the abilities of the creature. While swimming, it can turn the wearer into a manta ray. It imparts swimming and underwater breathing abilities. The man wants 7,500 GP for it. Katarzyna also runs across an old witch, who is selling an ioun stone. It is deep red and spherical, and it increases the users ability to dodge things. The witch is asking 6,000 GP for it.
Katarzyna returns to Judge Daramid’s estate after several hours of shopping. She rejoins Embreth and Jean-Baptiste as they are finishing up the long interview, and they all sit down for dinner. They are joined by Mikael at dinner, and Judge Embreth tries to subtly encourage discourse between Mikael and Jean-Baptiste. Katarzyna is uncharacteristically quiet at dinner, but Mikael seems to like Jean-Baptiste. The night runs pretty late, with lots of drinking and talking, and Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna return to the Lorrimor Townhouse in a hired carriage.
Illmarsh: After Katarzyna, Gregore, ‘Sarah’ and Jean-Baptiste leave for Lepidstadt, Kendra, Abner and Ostovach discuss their next steps in Illmarsh. Ostovach tells Kendra that Jallene Halrush, the apothecary, wants to travel with them to Thrushmoor, so that she can get out of Illmarsh for good. Ostovach and Kendra discuss the logistics of making their way toward Caliphas, whether it’s better to travel overland or to take a boat back to Kamover. Horace Croon reminds them that he owes them all some coin. He gives Kendra 5,000 GP in gold bars. Horace Croon also agrees to take them to Kamover in the Isenglass. Kendra notices Sherriff Rill Anders watching them load their belongings onto the Isenglass.
They set out in the afternoon, and Croon tells them that the trip should take about 8 hours in total. There is a squall that blows in around 3 in the afternoon, and Jallene is quite seasick. They arrive at Kamover around 9:30 in the evening, so they decide to stay in the Isenglass for the night rather than venture into town. They feel the boat turning in the wind, making an arc in the water around the anchor.
Sunday, September 7th, 758, Kamover, Ustalav; and Lepidstadt, Ustalav
Kamover: In the morning, Croon is greeted by Marley, they are obviously well-acquainted and amiable with one another. Kendra greets Marley warmly. Marley sends his boat over to help them ferry their things from the Isenglass to the Kamover shore. The fishermen help Jallene and Kendra to the shore, but Abner bullies a young man named Thomas who tries to take Kendra’s hand to help her out of the boat. Marley tells them that Mags is up if they want breakfast. Mags tells Kendra at breakfast that a man named Ebron and his wife have already traveled through Kamover, stating that they were moving away from Illmarsh/Baytown.
Abner and Ostovach go to deal with the vardo, then realize that they can’t dispel the magic that placed the vardo in the tapestry. They remember that the spell is scheduled to automatically dispel the following day, so they decide that they have to stay another night in Kamover. Kendra tries to have some items made by the local blacksmith, but the items are beyond their capabilities. Ostovach works with the piebald mare they rescued from Undiomede House, and she seems to be responding quite well to his efforts, both in health and attitude.
They all spend the day resting and recuperating and cleaning all of their items to rid them of the stink of Illmarsh. Kendra takes a hot bath. Mags brings out a product called “down bay cleaner” that will rid their belongings of the stench of Illmarsh. Jallene also avails herself of the cleaning and relaxation. Kendra and Abner spend the evening with Marley, drinking whiskey, until they fall asleep on the floor.
Lepidstadt: Victor prepares a wonderful breakfast, and Jominda joins Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna for breakfast. Gregore is still sleeping. Jean-Baptiste talks with Jominda, having never really spent time talking with her one-on-one without Gregore. Jominda wants to have lunch at a new place. She also wants to have a spa day, and Katarzyna is enthusiastically on board with the plan. Jean-Baptiste is less enthused. Jominda tells them that her friend Lydia will join them. Jominda goes up and passes Gregore in the hallway, and sends him down to breakfast. Jean-Baptiste goes to the University of Lepidstadt after breakfast. He speaks with his friend and teacher Lazaro about the Sinkomakti University in Rozenport. Lazaro gives Jean-Baptiste a Palatine Eye greeting when they part ways. Katarzyna spends the morning reading the Book of Abstruse Geometries, preparing spells, and getting ready for lunch with Jominda, Lydia and Jean-Baptiste. Victor arranges a carriage, and they pick up Lydia on the way to the restaurant. Lydia lives in student housing, but it is the upscale sort. Lydia is clearly either an elf or a half-elf, and she makes no effort to hide her distinctive elven ears. From her stature, it’s clear that she’s not an Ustalavic half-elf. She is pale, with long brown hair, quite pretty and well dressed. She is originally from Darkon, where Jominda is also from. She has been going to school in Ustalav for three years, and before that she studied in Lamordia.
They arrive at Malenia’s spa. They offer saunas, mud baths, and hors d’oeuvres. There are also bards playing music. They are given robes and relinquish their clothes as they decide on their spa services. Katarzyna opts for a mud bath, while Jean-Baptiste decides to go for the sauna. Jominda joins Katarzyna in the mud bath, while Lydia joins Jean-Baptiste in the sauna.
Lydia is incredibly knowledgeable about the law of various domains, and Lydia and Jean-Baptiste have quite a connection. They have a lively conversation about all sorts of subjects, and lose track of time in the sauna, until an attendant suggests they take a brief swim in a cooling bath. Lydia tells Jean-Baptiste that she is 82 years old, and that she is not a full-blooded elf.
Meanwhile Jominda and Katarzyna quietly enjoy their mud bath and wine. After the mud bath, Katarzyna opts for a massage. Jominda and Katarzyna mainly talk about Gregore’s exploits since they left Lepidstadt before. Katarzyna is sure to fill Jominda in on everything Gregore has done, especially his most heroic moments, including how he saved her and Ostovach from certain death in Illmarsh.
Eventually, the four of them regroup for lunch. Gregore joins them for lunch as well. Jominda mentions that they’re having dinner at the townhouse, and Katarzyna invites Lydia to dinner. Jominda kicks Katarzyna under the table, and Katarzyna realizes her faux pas. After lunch, Katarzyna and Jominda go to get pedicures, while Jean-Baptiste and Lydia go for a walk by the river, followed by a leisurely boat ride.
Things take a romantic turn for Jean-Baptiste and Lydia during the boat ride after lunch. Gregore, Jominda and Katarzyna spend the afternoon shopping, and Jominda introduces Katarzyna to a new parfumerie in the posh shopping district. Katarzyna buys more clothes and two bottles of perfumes with distinct scent profiles, though both are based on floral essential oils. Katarzyna also gets in a couple hours of reading before dinner. At one point Jean-Baptiste questions Katarzyna about the magic items she found the previous day, and she gives him all the information on the items that she can recall. Jean-Baptiste also has a discussion with Jominda about poisons, though he take pains to make sure they are not overheard. Jominda also inquires about Jean-Baptiste’s opinion of Lydia. Jominda asks Jean-Baptiste if he is going to go pick up Lydia for dinner, and he assures her that he will do so.
True to his word, Jean-Baptiste walks over to Lydia’s boarding house and escorts her back to the Lorrimor townhouse. They compliment each other and fall into an easy, comfortable discussion. Without realizing it, they take a more circuitous route back to the townhouse than they need to, loathe to end their private discussion.
Victor prepares a superb meal, and everyone is impressed by his work. He prepares a warm broth of cloudberry, roasted bone marrow, langueston roasted with a lavender vinaigrette, and everything is inspired by the cuisine of Nova Vaasa. Jean-Baptiste toasts Victor’s efforts. Dessert is moss cooked in white chocolate. There is also white wine. There is also brandy after dinner. Katarzyna, Lydia and Jean-Baptiste also sing after dinner, and make exceptionally good music together. Lydia impresses everyone with her knowledge and abilities. The evening goes late, and Katarzyna is the first to retire. Jominda and Gregore are next to go to their room. Victor excuses himself to clean the kitchen with the hired staff. Lydia asks Jean-Baptiste to take her up to the rooftop deck. Eventually Lydia agrees to stay the night with Jean-Baptiste, and they take their connection to the next level.
Monday, September 8th, 758, Kamover, Ustalav; and Lepidstadt, Ustalav
Kamover: Kendra awakens in Marley’s house, but Marley and Abner aren’t present. There is bread and smoked fish on the kitchen table, obviously meant for her to break her fast. She hears noises coming from the barn, so she goes out there. She finds Abner, Marley and Ostovach preparing the vardo, which had apparently rematerialized from the ending of the spell. They spend the rest of the morning preparing to leave Kamover. They set out for Thrushmoor in the afternoon.
Lepidstadt: Jean-Baptiste walks Lydia home in the morning, and tells her that he wants to see her again. He agrees to meet her for lunch, since they are planning to leave the following day. Jean-Baptiste then goes in search of the cloak of the manta that Katarzyna told him about the previous day. He finds the man Katarzyna mentioned at a bar called Manannán mac Lush. The barkeeper, whose name is Seymour, tells Jean-Baptiste about his wife Laryn, who is very ill. She apparently has gangrene in her leg, and has already had her foot amputated in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. Jean-Baptiste is quite sympathetic to the man’s plight, and decides he wants to help, regardless of the cloak. He goes back to the townhouse to speak with Gregore, and asks if he would be willing to help the Laryn. Gregore promises to do what he can, but he would need help from another, more powerful cleric.
Gregore prays to Ezra, then he and Jean-Baptiste go back to Seymour’s bar. Gregore asks Jean-Baptiste to keep Seymour occupied while he tends to Laryn, who is burning up with fever. Gregore tends to Laryn for a while, then comes downstairs when he has done all he can. He tells Seymour that he had to cut away more tissue from the poor execution of the amputation of her foot. Seymour rushes upstairs to see Laryn, and they are crying with happiness that she is clearly no longer in danger of dying from gangrene. Downstairs, Gregore and Jean-Baptiste talk about how to help Laryn with her amputated foot. Gregore suggests to Jean-Baptiste that he should consider buying the cloak from Seymour, and letting him decide whether to use the money to have her foot regenerated by a cleric of Pharasma.
A couple hours later, Seymour and Laryn come downstairs. They are still overjoyed and excited, having resigned themselves to a painful and unavoidable fate and receiving instead an unexpected reprieve. Jean-Baptiste offers to create a prosthetic foot for Laryn, and spends some time doing so. The result isn’t perfect, but it works well enough, and Laryn is able to walk tolerably well on her first try. After a few tentative steps, she tells them that she thinks she will need a crutch for awhile. Eventually Jominda arrives at the bar with a bunch of cleaning supplies and other items to help out. She also gives Laryn a drought to allow her to rest. Jominda has to burn a lot of the bed linens and such, since everything in Laryn’s sickbed is contaminated.
Jean-Baptiste realizes after a bit that he’s an hour late for lunch with Lydia. He rushes over to the university as soon as he realizes. He doesn’t find Lydia immediately, but he asks around and finds her in the library. He explains why he was late, and she is quickly mollified by his explanation of the events that transpired with Seymour and Laryn. They sit out on the lawn and eat cheese from a street vendor. They chat for a bit, and promise to meet again that evening at Manannán mac Lush.
Jean-Baptiste spends the rest of the afternoon following up on Katarzyna’s information about the man who approached her the previous day. He doesn’t have any luck with that, however. He then returns to Manannán mac Lush, but Seymour and Laryn have gone out and the bar is empty when he arrives.
Jominda returns to the townhouse and knocks on Katarzyna’s door. She tells Katarzyna about Seymour and Laryn. Katarzyna is absently contrite that she dismissed the man’s story as a ploy to sell his magic item. She tells Jominda that she will meet them for dinner at Manannán mac Lush, but Jominda can tell that Katarzyna is much more interested in getting back to her reading than having a conversation.
Jean-Baptiste goes to Judge Daramid’s house to pick up Lydia. The butler ushers Jean-Baptiste into the salon, where Embreth and Lydia are engaged in conversation. Embreth tells Jean-Baptiste that she thinks very highly of Lydia. Embreth decides to meet them later at Manannán mac Lush. Seymour has several of his friends at the bar when they arrive. Seymour serves Jean-Baptiste Tepeshtani whiskey. Jominda and Gregore arrive a little while later. Laryn greets Jominda warmly. Jominda tells Jean-Baptiste that she tried to knock on Katarzyna’s door before they left, and that Katarzyna was too engrossed in her book and didn’t answer any of her knocks. Jean-Baptiste is talking with Seymour when the bar suddenly goes quiet. Jean-Baptiste looks around and realizes that everyone is taken aback by the arrival of Judge Daramid. Mikael also arrives. Lydia eventually sings a song for all of them. Eventually everyone except Katarzyna finds their way to Manannán mac Lush. Even Victor shows up. Jean-Baptiste borrows the cloak of the manta from Seymour, and gives him gold to hold as collateral.
Lydia has to leave earlier than the others, and Jean-Baptiste walks her home. He returns after the evenings festivities, and shows up at Lydia’s apartments. Lydia is sleepy, thinking that she would see Jean-Baptiste ‘later’, not ‘later that night’. She pulls him into her house and they curl up together and go right to sleep.
Meanwhile, Katarzyna spends most of the day reading the Book of Abstruse Geometries. She gets in a full day of study on the book, learning a great deal and making it over halfway through the tome (26 hours in). She loses an hour giving Jean-Baptiste instruction on what he needs to do to pass his initiation rite into the Order of the Palatine Eye. Katarzyna can tell that a weaker mind than hers would be adversely affected by the contents of the book, and that her own will might be challenged while finishing the book. She’s so engrossed in the book that she forgets all about dinner at Manannán mac Lush, though in truth she didn’t feel like socializing anyway. There are spells in the book that detail summoning creatures from other planes, as well as contacting other planes. Katarzyna is especially intrigued by these. Eventually she falls asleep.
Tuesday, September 9th, 758, Thrushmoor, Ustalav; and Lepidstadt, Ustalav
Lepidstadt: Jean-Baptiste wakes up early at Lydia’s apartments, but she has a full day at the museum. He promises to see her later in the week, thinking that he is headed back to rejoin Kendra and the others in Thrushmoor. He returns to the townhouse, where Katarzyna is up and preparing to leave for Thrushmoor. Gregore, Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna talk about what to do next, and they decide that Katarzyna will return to Thrusmoor alone, and bring Kendra back with her. Ostovach and Abner will remain in Thrushmoor until the four of them return, probably on Saturday. After that, the six of them will continue their journey to Caliphas. Jean-Baptiste asks Katarzyna to bring back a book, Matreus’ Lost Expedition to Vechor. He also gives her the cloak of the manta ray to put in the vardo.
Jean-Baptiste has the day to spend in Lepidstadt, so he goes to buy a nice set of clothes to replace his travel-worn items. He also goes to the library during lunch, and finds Lydia out on the lawn talking with two of her fellow students. He makes plans to see her after her work with Judge Daramid that evening. They plan to have a dinner together, just the two of them. He spends much of the afternoon crafting acid bullets for his guns. He goes to Judge Daramid’s house to pick Lydia up at the end of her work day. He speaks with Daramid as well. They end up eating dinner at the same restaurant where Jean-Baptiste and the others had been poisoned weeks earlier. Lydia talks some more about her upbringing, her half-elf woodsman father and her shy wood elf mother. She also tells him about Necropolis in Darkon. Jean-Baptiste tells her about the Lopper and his missing years. He also mentions that he has a book on Vechor. He doesn’t go into detail, but does talk about the events in Feldgrau in vague terms. He also talks about Grewin, who was from ‘somewhere else’. She tells him that she has been to places that no longer exist, that are where the Shadow Rift now exists. Jean-Baptiste relates that Ustalav itself was once apart from Ravenloft. They decide to spend the night together again, this time at the Lorrimor Townhouse. They run into Gregore and Jominda, who are concerned that Katarzyna hasn’t returned as expected. Jean-Baptiste says that if Katarzyna doesn’t return the following day, they’ll figure out some other way to get back to Thrushmoor and rejoin the others and find Katarzyna.
Thrushmoor: Katarzyna arrives in Thrushmoor without incident. She teleports to the Star Stelae in the center of town, and she is alone in the misty meadow when she arrives. She makes her way to the inn that they stayed at on their previous visit. She speaks with the innkeeper, and learns that Kendra, Abner and Ostovach had arrived the previous evening. And while Ostovach had risen early and gone out, Abner and Kendra had not come down for breakfast yet. Katarzyna orders breakfast and sits down in the common room to wait for the others to assemble. Abner comes down first, and speaks awkwardly with Katarzyna, followed by Kendra moments later. They have breakfast, then Katarzyna finds Ostovach at the stables and tells him what’s going on. She then grabs the book for Jean-Baptiste from the vardo. She and Ostovach talk about arranging a visit between him and his sister, who lives in Marian Leigh, a town that Katarzyna hasn’t been to and therefore can’t teleport to. They talk about possibly moving his sister to Ravengro and having Ostovach visit her there. She could live in the Lorrimor estate, and they would introduce her to the people in town that they trust. They talk at length about the logistics of making that happen.
Katarzyna stays in Thrushmoor the rest of the day, and gets to know Jallene a little better. She also hangs out with Kendra and Abner, but things are rather tense between her and Abner. Every time Abner makes a suggestive joke, Katarzyna is put off by it, not realizing he is joking and finding him crass. The rift between them widens.
Finding little to occupy her time in Thrushmoor, Katarzyna returns to the vardo and rummages through the book collection. She picks up the Dream Journal of the Pallid Seer, and spends six hours reading it. It talks about the Nightmare Lands, the Nightmare Court, and a shaman named Mulonga, a member of the Nightmare Court. She finds the book fascinating, but like most of the books she’s read lately, it is rather disturbing in the things it describes.
Wednesday, September 10th, 758, Thrushmoor, Ustalav; Ravengro, Ustalav; and Lepidstadt, Ustalav
Thrushmoor: Katarzyna has nightmares, but can’t remember them the next day. She assumes that reading the Dream Journal of the Pallid Seer probably caused the nightmares. She talks with the nosoi about the book, and it checks it out. It asks if the book is magical, and Katarzyna checks. Katarzyna also enlists Kendra’s help. Kendra does her third eye seer trick to inspect Katarzyna and the book. She takes out calipers and does a phrenological exam. She also takes out her crystal skull and looks through it. She gives Katarzyna the all-clear, but says that there is some ‘stress’ in her aura.
Ravengro: Katarzyna, Kendra and Ostovach teleport to Ravengro. They arrive at the Lorrimor Estate. It’s quite dusty. Kendra is concerned that Tresselblade appears to not be living there anymore. They walk to the town square and speak with Luthko Avanaki, and learn that Tresselblade is no longer living in Ravengro, and is no longer the acting sherriff. The new sherriff is a new guy in town, named Lance. There is also a new herbalist in the shop space vacated by Jominda. Katarzyna also speaks with Father Grimburrow at the cemetery. Ostovach sets up lines of credit with the vendors of Ravengro, and sends his message to his sister in Marian Leigh to have her come to Ravengro. They make arrangements for his sister to stay at the Lorrimor estate, and Marta and Luthko Avanaki agree to prepare the place for her arrival. Kendra and Katarzyna renew their ties with the people of Ravengro, running into Mirta Straelock and Gharen Muricar in the town square. After a few hours, Kendra, Katarzyna and Ostovach wrap up their activities in Ravengro and teleport back to Thrushmoor.
Thrushmoor: Kendra and Katarzyna immediately gather their belongings, say their goodbyes to Ostovach and Abner, then teleport to Lepidstadt.
Lepidstadt: Jean-Baptiste and Lydia awaken and have a bit of a lazy morning together. She wants to go feed the ducks, and they do so. They part around 11 am, and make plans to see each other that night. They talk about going to a dance hall. She mentions a very tricky dance called the Dance Of The 23 Steps. Jean-Baptiste plans to spend the rest of the afternoon at Lepidstadt University’s library researching the Dark Tapestry and Aklo. The Aklo tome references the Thassalonian Empire, and makes references to places he’s not familiar with. There are references to Emperor Xin and the Fall of Thassalon. There are people called runelords, who were tied to various absolute sins like Wrath, Envy, Sloth, etc. Jean-Baptiste gets so caught up in reading that he doesn’t realize how much time has passed. He and Lydia decide to spend the evening at the music hall. She wants to stop by her home to change, and Jean-Baptiste wants to stop by the Lorrimor Townhouse to check to see if Katarzyna has returned.
Eventually, in the afternoon, Kendra and Katarzyna arrive at the Lorrimor Townhouse. Katarzyna is feeling poorly, so she lays down for a nap in her room. Jominda comes to her with tea and sympathy. She gives her a tea that will help her fatigue. Kendra has a happy reunion with Jominda. Feeling better, Katarzyna continues reading the Dream Journal Of The Pallid Seer. Jominda comes in and asks Katarzyna if she is going to come to the dance hall with them. Katarzyna won’t say no outright, but Jominda can tell that she really wants to stay in and read. Jominda tries again later, but Katarzyna doesn’t want to stop reading. She reads it into the night, getting in about 8 more hours of reading. Katarzyna reads about dream seeds, and people who get trapped inside of their dream seeds. Most people’s dream seeds go away when they awaken. She learns about another member of the Nightmare Court, called The Dancer. It also mentions someone named Dr. Illhausen, who works at the mental institution. She is over halfway through the book when she finally falls into a fitful sleep.
Kendra asks Jean-Baptiste to help her with something to draw him away from Lydia. She talks to him privately about him taking his oath the next day. She tells him that she is going to go to see if she is required to do anything for the meeting. She also runs him through some practice on Aklo. Kendra talks to Jean-Baptiste about the book Katarzyna is reading, but they don’t seem too concerned about its effects.
Jean-Baptiste, Lydia, Kendra, Victor, Gregore and Jominda all go to the dance hall. The music is pleasantly loud, and they all take a much needed bit of relaxation. Lydia is a GREAT dancer. Everyone has a wonderful time. Jean-Baptiste and Lydia have another romantic night together.
Thursday, September 11th, 758, Lepidstadt, Ustalav
Katarzyna is fatigued again when she awakens, and avails herself of Jominda’s tea again. She talks with Kendra about what they have to do that night for Jean-Baptiste’s oathtaking ceremony, and Kendra goes to Judge Daramid to find out what they need to do. Kendra informs Katarzyna that she will be challenging another member to advance her position, while Katarzyna will be expected to perform usher duty. Kendra gives Katarzyna her vestments as well as Jean-Baptiste’s vestments.
Jean-Baptiste and Lydia part ways, and he sets about preparing for his ceremony that night. Kendra goes to Jean-Baptiste to give him the rundown on what he needs to do to prepare for his oathtaking. Kendra seems concerned about how Jean-Baptiste is coming along with his Aklo. She spends most of the day drilling Jean-Baptiste in Aklo, at the same time she spends time using Jominda as practice for her phrenology. Jominda manages to escape from all the goings-on, and she and Gregore go out and get away from all the shenanigans.
A black carriage arrives to pick them up. Kendra, Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste are alone with their thoughts as they approach the cathedral. They have a comically bad Aklo conversation in the carriage, and before long they arrive at the Ventriloquist’s Pulpit.
The building is dilapidated, and they are met by robed escorts who bring them to a room where they leave their cloaks. They go to the changing area, where to everyone’s surprise they see Lydia and a man unknown to them. They exchange greetings, and Lydia and Jean-Baptiste fall into conversation. Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna change into their diaphanous initiate garments. Initiates and ushers always wear the sheer robes that conceal nothing, but others in the order wear more elaborate and more modest attire. The man and Katarzyna are given the duties of watching the door and guiding people to their seats, and are told to remain silent as they are led out of the room by a higher-order acolyte. Lydia and Jean-Baptiste are alone in the dressing room. She asks him under her breath if he is really joining the group.
Before the ceremony, everyone gathers briefly in an antechamber. Lydia calls Jean-Baptiste over to speak with Judge Daramid. Embreth is talking with Kendra, admonishing her that she might not be making a lot of friends by being so aggressive in her challenges. Kendra is unconcerned by any perception of impudence on her part, and is eager to get to the challenge.
They are all in a giant room. Katarzyna guides Jean-Baptiste down to his seat. Mikael is also present. They talk about contributions to the society. They call out for Meshkenet (Katarzyna) and Amsarsatarta (Kendra) to take a bow for their accomplishments in recovering Arisid’s Journal, and keeping his scandalous revelations out of the hands of the lay population. After this acknowledgement, there are two challenges. Kendra’s challenge is the second challenge. Her opponent has chosen to do battle with Kendra in the sphere of phrenology, which worries Kendra. Attendants wheel out three skulls. Kendra and her opponent are each to examine the skulls closely, and write down their observations for each skull. Kendra need not have worried, as her phrenology observations earn her a perfect score of 15 points. Her embarrassed opponent earned only five points. It’s not even close.
After the challenges, there is a small ceremony in which they recognize the passing of Inspector Farren, and give recognizance to several members who move up in rank. Katarzyna/Meshkenet is advanced to Archangel, and is given robes, so she goes to change. She then returns to the room.
After the rankings, it’s time for Jean-Baptiste’s testing and oathtaking. First, they ask who speaks for Jean-Baptiste Harrow. Katarzyna/Meshkenet intones that she speaks for him. To the surprise of many present, Daramid and Mikael also vouch for Jean-Baptiste. Finally, Jean-Baptiste is asked to step forward. The male usher hands Katarzyna/Meshkenet a blindfold, which she places on Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste then begins the rite. He is asked a series of questions, which he answers well enough to satisfy the assembly. His final question is the one he asks, “What shall I be called?” Sebek-hu is Jean-Baptiste’s name in the Order.