A Series of Unfortunate Rolls

ACT III, EPISODE 3 - THE DARK INSIDE

The party plus Captain Pikesear and Dr Nigel left the med bay and descended the stairs down to the bottom level of the Phantom Limit, where they split off and headed to their respective destinations. Linny, Gaius, and Nigel arrived at the opening of the ventilation system where Nigel set up a ladder for the gnome. He explained that he would navigate her through the vents using the ship’s blueprints and the Stones of Farspeech, and stressed that it was important she make it out quickly after reactivating the heating system so she wouldn’t be hurt by the high temperatures. While Gaius stood by keeping a watchful eye on the scientist, Linny climbed up into the vents and followed Nigel’s turn-by-turn instructions until she crawled her way to a control panel about 100 feet inward. He told her to flip a series of three switches, and as soon as she flipped the third one all of the lights in the vents went out. Accompanying the sudden darkness were whispers that echoed up and down the vents, and Linny could make out that they were quietly chanting her full name in the same sing-song tone that she usually hummed to herself. As she backed up and started to scuttle away, a small hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed her shoulder. When she turned around she was staring into the face of her dead husband Jeros, whose eyes were present but red. Pulling away, she blinked and Jeros was gone. The lights were also back on and Nigel was in mid-sentence on her Stone, asking where she had gone and telling her to get out as fast as possible. As she began scuttling back down the route she had come, something happened outside the vents that caused Nigel to stop talking.

At the same moment that Linny had originally entered the vents, Medivh, Osborne, and Pikesear entered the Core room. Pikesear reiterated that they were there to protect everyone in the event that the Core somehow activated again, so Medivh cast Arcane Lock on the door to make sure nothing could get out of the room and into the rest of the ship. As they waited and kept an eye on things, they heard the ship’s heating system whir back to life, signaling that Linny had flipped the switches — but the lights did not go out for them. Over the Stones they heard Nigel tell her to come back out, but the gnome did not respond. As the doctor frantically tried to reach her, Pikesear said they should return to the others in case Linny was in danger. As they moved toward the door, however, their path became blocked. Rising up through the floor in the front of them was something in the shape of a man, but this man was made completely of fire. They stopped in their tracks and over the Stones they heard Nigel stop short in the middle of a sentence. Back outside the vents, Gaius saw what had taken the doctor’s breath away: three large flail snails had appeared out of nowhere, and were starting to slime their way toward the two men at the bottom of the ladder.

Linny fortunately remembered the exact route she had traveled and was able to escape the vents without Nigel’s help, because the doctor was frozen in fear and hiding behind Gaius. The two party members battled the snails, killing their five flails one by one before finally bringing the beasts down. Back at the Core, Osborne attempted to strike the fire man but caught on fire himself and was forced to dive into the shin-deep ring of water that ran along the perimeter of the room. Now soaked and inflammable, the rogue continued swinging at the flames while Medivh and Pikesear tried ranged attacks and also got themselves wet to avoid potential fire damage (Medivh action-rolled through the shallow water before every single attack). Once the snails were dead outside the vents, Linny checked in and learned what the other group was up against. She, Gaius, and Nigel raced off toward the Core room while the fire man continued to attack the others, paying specific attention to Pikesear and screaming “you didn’t save me.” After Medivh failed a clothesline attempt that knocked him back into water, the wizard dismissed his Arcane Lock and allowed the rest of the group into the room. Linny used a Create Water spell to make it rain directly over the man of fire and douse everything else in the room, and Gaius finally vanquished the flames with a strike from his light blade. The man dissipated into several smaller fires and dissolved back through the floor.

Shaken by the confrontations and by the vision of her dead husband, Linny confronted Nigel and Pikesear for more information. Nigel continued to be flabbergasted by the unexplainable supernatural events occurring on his scientific masterpiece, while Pikesear seemed to be holding something back regarding the man on fire. When pressed further the captain ordered Linny to stand down, saying that his personal history had no bearing on the current mission. They all returned to the Nav Deck to regroup, where Feltongar was still working on deciphering the mysterious entry in the old captain’s log and Downey reported that all of the ship’s navigation systems were fried. Pikesear said he and his crew would be staying in the Nav Deck for the foreseeable future and that the party should go explore the ship and search for any survivors of the old crew. Gaius asked for Nigel to come along with them but Pikesear shut the paladin down, noting that he wanted to keep the doctor in one room so that he wouldn’t get in the way of the mission.

The group began exploring the ship room by room, finding a completely destroyed R&D lab and a supply warehouse with barely anything missing, implying that whatever happened to the ship happened early on in their journey. Their next stop was the crew quarters, which were a dozen identical individual rooms located directly beneath the Nav Deck. In the first two rooms they found nothing of note aside from a vape rig that Medivh took and the crew member’s jumpsuit, which the wizard also put on even though it was ill-fitting. In the third room they found the dead body of a crew member missing its eyes and tongue, and in the fourth room they found another crew member standing up and alive, though he was also missing his eyes and tongue and was holding a large kitchen knife. When the man began to slowly walk toward them, Osborne drew his swords and cut him down with a single blow. Through a combination of Gaius’ Detect Evil ability and Medivh’s arcane knowledge, they deduced that the man had not been undead but there were very faint traces of magic on his body.

The party continued to move through the crew quarters and found an assortment of interesting items: an onyx dog figurine that could come to life as a talking mastiff, kept by Gaius; a page seemingly ripped from an old spellbook containing dark and unpleasant sounding incantations, kept by Medivh; a necklace of beads of Blessing, kept by Linny; and an earring that granted knowledge of the Sylvan language, also kept by Linny. They also found another eyeless and tongueless corpse and another eyeless and tongueless living crew member who rather unthreateningly slashed at them with a kitchen knife. Instead of cutting this one down, Medivh webbed the man to the floor and they tried communicating with him with little success. After consulting with Pikesear, they agreed to restrain the crewmember and take him to the Med Bay for further examination. The final room of the crew’s quarters was the captain’s room, where Medivh found a large history book open to a page about a long and deadly war between two nations, and Gaius sensed the same kind of pulling sensation he had felt in Almamoon’s Ivory Tower that led him directly to his light blade. This time it led him to the chest at the foot of the bed, where he found a gold medallion emblazoned with a lion’s head that he remembered represented the god Hercules.

A few moments after donning the medallion and getting ready to leave the captain’s room, Gaius heard an incredibly loud banging noise echo throughout the ship. The paladin panicked but was confused when the rest of the group heard nothing. The banging was eventually accompanied by voices, which Gaius recognized as Dumock and Mal’Ganis, who had tortured him and drained his life force just two weeks prior. With the group behind him, he followed the sound upstairs to the Nav Deck and kicked the door in, startling Pikesear, Nigel, Downey, and Feltongar who were inside working calmly. Not finding the source of the torment, the group turned to leave but were surprised when the doors slammed shut on them and the banging began again, now perceptible to everyone in the room. While they all prepared to defend themselves, Nigel calmly stood up and began walking toward the door, looking like he was in some kind of trance. Through the cacophony Linny managed to hear the inventor whisper, “open the door.” Alarmed, Medivh webbed the doctor in place and Gaius tackled him to the ground, where he suddenly seemed like his usual normal and frightened self. The door burst open and a flesh golem entered and attacked, though the group was able to avoid its damage completely until Medivh brought it down with a Ray of Sickness spell. Upon investigating the body they realized it was made of stitched together parts of six bodies belonging to old crewmembers, meaning they had now accounted for the grisly fate of eleven of the twelve original Phantom Limit crew.

As Pikesear stood over the golem angered about this discovery, Lovelrunn’s voice came in over the Stones and frantically asked if anyone had seen Pip, who was suddenly missing from the Med Bay. The party and the captain rushed to her location and found that the halfling had seemingly unhooked himself from all of the medical devices and vanished. After a brief search the group tracked him to the airlock on the opposite side of the ship from where the Meriweather had docked, and found him standing inside naked with his back turned to them. The door leading in was locked and the door leading outside had been opened and broken off, meaning the icy winds and snow were swirling around the airlock. Unable to get inside, Pikesear ordered Osborne to follow him and told the rest of the group, which now included XO Downey, to keep Pip talking and keep him inside long enough for the two of them to repel down the ship and get into the room. The pair ran off and the remaining four began trying to coax Pip away from the ledge, but the young halfling only muttered solemnly about the things he had seen and “the dark inside.” Also appearing inside the room and only perceptible to Medivh was a vision of his mortally wounded mother, who grasped at her neck where her Periapt of Wound Closure should be but was missing because it was now worn by the wizard.

Meanwhile up on the observation deck, the geared-up Pikesear and Osborne began their repel down the side of the massive ship. The dexterous rogue had almost no trouble advancing downward, even when the haunted ship tried to show him visions of his dead little brother, but the captain struggled with the action and could barely make any progress without slipping and putting himself in danger. Back downstairs Downey and the group continued to plead with Pip, reminding him of his brothers and what he had to live for, and even though he repeatedly spoke of his desire to die to escape what was haunting him, their words occasionally got through and kept him in place. Medivh continued to have trouble shaking the vision of his mother but was aided by the disembodied voice of Ye’Kan, who granted the wizard inspiration via a Sending spell from his current plane of existence. Eventually Osborne arrived at the airlock and jumped inside, breaking the lock on the door and getting Pip back inside the ship, where he was returned to the Med Bay to recover.

Once they were joined by the captain and reconvened, Downey told Pikesear about the things Pip had been saying about the darkness and what he had seen. Confused because Pip had only disappeared for a matter of seconds, Pikesear felt they should go speak to Dr. Nigel and find out more about what happens in the other planes and why Pip was so greatly affected. They found Nigel pacing outside the the Nav Deck and Pikesear instantly pushed him and pinned him against the wall, demanding to know what was happening on the ship. Nigel guessed that when Pip disappeared he had gone to the same place the ship had gone during its own disappearance. After being threatened yet again by Gaius, Nigel said if just given a little bit of time he could figure out some kind of logical explanation, and went back inside the Nav Deck. Almost immediately, the captain dropped to his knees and covered his ears, beginning to panic as he muttered “I can still hear them.” After the initial panic passed and after some pressing from Gaius, Pikesear revealed his backstory. Before he came to Waterdeep he had been captaining a ship that got caught in a storm and was struck by lightning, causing the boat to catch fire. Unable to save his crew that was trapped below deck, Pikesear took a lifeboat and abandoned ship, leaving the crew behind and hearing their screams as the ship burned. He told the group that he kept that a secret his entire life, but somehow the Phantom Limit knew about it. He also apologized to Linny for their heated confrontation earlier, and just as amends were being made Feltongar emerged from the the Nav Deck. He asked everyone to come inside, because he believed he had made a discovery about the strange coded message from the original captain’s log.

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ACT III, EPISODE 2 - DANGER ON THE HIGH SEAS

The party left the harbor store and were led down the docks by Miran to the rescue ship Meriweather. Once on board they were introduced to Captain Morus Pikesear, who told them he was a no-nonsense captain who expected loyalty and obedience from the outsiders in order to complete the mission. When Dr. Nigel interrupted to ask where to put all of his things, Pikesear became agitated at his presence and wondered aloud why the doctor had to come along, saying that he did not appreciate having untrained men on his ship. He then introduced the party to his crew: XO Anita Downey, engineer Pip Wentz, anthropologist Ellum Feltongar, doctor Quin Lovelrunn, pilot Adran Penniwiir, and mechanic Kassel Ritt. Pikesear informed them that their mission first and foremost was to rescue the original crew of the Phantom Limit, and after that to investigate what happened and where the ship had been. Making their mission more difficult was the fact that ship was idling in the middle of a vicious ice storm, meaning outside temperatures and high velocity winds could be quickly fatal to anyone left exposed in the elements. He also provided them with a hastily drawn map of the ship and brief dossiers of the old crew. Once the briefing was over Miran told the group that she would return to Waterdeep to get started on their requests for information, said her goodbyes, and the Meriweather departed.

With seven days journey ahead of them, the group spent the first few days of travel getting to know the other people on the ship. Linny sought out the halfling engineer Pip and learned he was the youngest and newest member of the crew, having replaced the last engineer who died on a recent mission that Pikesear never talks about. She also spoke to the dwarf doctor Quin, whom she discovered had also lost a child and had gone into medicine to help save people. Osborne decided to learn more about the crew by breaking into their rooms instead of speaking to anyone, while Medivh spent more time with Dr. Nigel and learned that he had had a wife who died of an illness years ago. Gaius visited with Captain Pikesear and expressed concerns over Dr. Nigel’s true motives, declaring that he would not hesitate to subdue the doctor if he did anything to favor his ship over the crew and put the mission at risk.

On the third day, Gaius was sitting in the crow’s nest above deck and spotted some debris and a raft in the distance. Pikesear ordered the ship to steer toward it, and when they arrived they found four weak men hanging onto planks of wood floating in the water. The crew brought them aboard and the men said they had been aboard a merchant ship when it was attacked and destroyed by some kind of sea monster. Linny attempted to press them harder for information but the most talkative man named Liam asked for food and water before he could speak again. Later in the galley, Liam tried asking the group what they were doing out in the ocean and what their mission was. They kept their answers general, and why they talked Gaius offered to get Liam a refill on soup but actually slipped in half of his Philter of Love vial. The shipwrecked man became charmed upon eating, and revealed to Gaius that their ship had actually been destroyed a year ago, not days like they had said before, and they had spent that year under the water. When that information was revealed Liam’s three friends shapeshifted into deep scions and were quickly webbed in place by Medivh. Seeing his friends attacked broke the charm spell on Liam, who also transformed and joined the battle.

The party eliminated Liam and two of the others, who all transformed back into their human forms upon dying, and left the last monster—who had fallen on his face into the web and been unable to move for the entire fight—alive for questioning. Linny cast Zone of Truth and the creature revealed that they were spies for a kraken and were investigating the ship simply because they saw it, not because they were specifically targeting the Meriweather. Captain Pikesear came into the galley and said it would put their mission in danger if this creature was allowed to escape, so he ordered the group to “take care of it” and left. Osborne finished the monster off with five thrown daggers, and the party stored the body in the kitchen freezer.

Two days later, Medivh noticed another ship in the distance moving toward the Meriweather. When it drew closer, it raised a flag that the wizard recognized — the pirate flag of Captain Söze. Knowing Söze’s brutality from their last dream sequence, Linny used a Sending spell to communicate with Ye’Kan across planes. The disembodied voice of the bard told her to somehow communicate to the pirates that they know him, because Söze would likely not kill friends of his friends. Just then they noticed the cannons on the pirate ship raise and aim in their direction. Medivh decided to take off and fly toward the ship while Linny jumped on his back and cast Prestidigitation the whole way, shooting fireworks into the sky in the shape of Ye’Kan’s pirate tattoo. Back on the Meriweather, Gaius fetched Dr. Nigel to see if the inventor could come up with anything on the spot that could allow him to communicate with the pirate ship. As Medivh and Linny got closer, the mage in the crow’s nest cast Counterspell to turn off Medivh’s flight and the pair fell into the water. As Gaius tried to shout “parlay” using Nigel’s telescope-turned-vuvuzela, the pirates threw down a rope and pulled the wizard and the cleric up onto their deck and immediately surrounded them with their weapons drawn. Linny asked to see the captain and when Söze appeared, she insisted that they knew his friend Ye’Kan and were not hostile. Still fond of his former bard, Söze said he would allow them to go free just this once but promised he was not a man who gave second chances. The adventurers returned to the Meriweather, having narrowly avoided a potential barrage of cannon fire.

With now just two days remaining until they reached the Phantom Limit, the party was jolted the next morning by some kind of force colliding with the bottom of the ship. Looking overboard and only seeing a dark cloud of black ink, they instantly began to worry if they were about to encounter the kraken the deep scions had told them about. Two purple tentacles attached to each side of the ship and when the group went to attack, one of them grabbed Osborne and pulled him down into the water. Able to breath underwater because of her newly purchased necklace, Linny jumped in after him while Medivh flew into the air for a better view and Gaius prepared the ship’s cannon. Linny freed Osborne with a Water Walk spell and their foes were revealed to be giant octopi. The two of them managed to jump out of the water and cling to the ship just as Medivh hit the beasts with an electric Chromatic Orb, frying one of the octopi to death. Gaius then fired the cannon and hit the second, killing it an explosion of guts and tentacles. The group held a brief dance party on the water in celebration and collected pieces of the beasts to use for calamari dinner later that evening.

Finally, after their treacherous week on the sea, the Meriweather sailed within view of the Phantom Limit. The temperature dropped and the winds increased dramatically as the rescue ship plowed through ice to pull up alongside the ill-fated vessel that was at least twenty times larger than them. They extended the airlock and left the Meriweather, entering the Phantom Limit on the bottom deck in a large hallway. The ship was completely silent and still. Dr. Nigel looked around with wonder and admiration of his own creation while Captain Pikesear ordered the entire group to go to the Navigation Deck to investigate. There Linny spied a book peeking out from under a desk, and when she went to pull it out she found that it was attached to a severed arm. The book was the captain’s log and the arm belonged to the body of the original captain of the Phantom Limit, which was also under the desk. The body was missing its eyes and its tongue. The log consisted of the first ten entries of the ship’s original journey and ended with the captain saying that the next day they were finally going to activate the Conjuration Core. That entry was followed by many blank pages, and near the back of the book there was one page marked with a series of lines and dots that the party could not make sense of. Pikesear ordered the party to accompany him, Dr. Nigel, and Pip to the Core for further investigation while the rest of his crew remain in the Nav Deck to see what they could find out.

At the Core, Dr. Nigel explained that the device needed a code in order to operate, a code that only the original captain would have had. Finding no evidence that any codes had been entered recently, the party wondered how the ship had finally reappeared after seven years. Dr. Nigel and Pip investigated the Core itself and found no signs of damage or tampering, so the mystery only deepened. Seeing nothing else in the room, Pikesear said they should head to the crew quarters next to continue looking for survivors. As they were about to leave the room, however, a bright light suddenly filled the chambers and mechanical whirring began as the Core started to activate. Looking back, the group saw Pip standing directly in front of the device staring up into it. Before they could move, the Core sent out a huge shockwave of energy that sent the party flying backwards into the wall. After just a few seconds everything was calm again, but when they regained their bearings they saw that Pip was now gone.

Captain Pikesear got up and ran around the Core, frantically yelling Pip’s name and searching for his engineer. Dr. Nigel looked both concerned and marveled by the Core somehow activating on its own, and was unable to explain what he just saw. Linny tried using her Stone of Farspeech but found that all of the Stones were inactive. With Pip nowhere to be found, the group agreed that they should hurry back to the Navigation Deck and check on the rest of the crew. As the reached the door, however, it happened again — the bright light, the mechanical whirring from the Core, and the shockwave of energy. They were again thrown back against the wall, but this time when got their bearings, they saw Pip was back and laying prone on the ground, breathing but completely unresponsive to stimuli or healing spells. The Stones of Farspeech were also active again, with XO Downey asking what had happened. Pikesear ordered her and Lovelrunn to meet everyone in the med bay so they could work on saving Pip.

They arrived at the same time as the XO and the doctor and began trying to treat the halfling engineer. Gaius tried pleading with Pikesear to get back on the Meriweather and leave, but the captain said both that the Phantom Limit’s medical facilities were far more advanced and that their rescue mission was not over. Further complicating matters, the pilot Penniwiir chimed in on the Stones and said that the two shockwaves had badly damaged the Meriweather and that the rescue ship was beginning to take on water. Pikesear ordered the pilot and the mechanic Ritt to go and fix it immediately just as everyone began notice that the room was getting colder and they could see their breath. Dr. Nigel realized that the ship’s ventilation and heating system must have been knocked offline by the Core’s shockwaves.

Looking at the ship’s blueprints, Nigel and Pikesear said that someone would have to crawl through the vents to reactive it, but that the vents were quite small. Pikesear said that normally such a task would be assigned to Pip, but since the halfling was out of commission he turned to Linny and asked her to go in his place. The gnome was visibly afraid but agreed to go. Pikesear said he would send Dr. Nigel with her to talk her through the process over the Stones and another party member with them for protection. At the same time, he and the remaining two party members would go to the Core for further investigation and to protect the ship in case anything went wrong again. Gaius volunteered to go with Linny and Nigel because he did not want to let the doctor out of his sights, leaving Medivh and Osborne to accompany the captain. With their roles assigned, the two teams prepared to leave the med bay to keep the ship operational and allow their rescue mission to continue.

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ACT III, EPISODE 1 - THREE DAYS LATER

Gaius, Linny, Medivh, and Osborne awoke in their beds at Lues’ Inn in Almamoon just after learning their true purpose from Sol and saying goodbye to Ye’Kan. Linny rushed to the bard’s room to see if he was still there, but found his room empty. They all went downstairs to the lobby to discuss what they had just experienced, still in shock that their fates were so intertwined in some kind of war. They remembered Sol’s words about having to wait three days for their next sign, and they each decided to spend those three days alone pursuing their own interests. Linny, having once been a hermit, decided to go out into the forest with her fox to do some quiet soul searching in the comfort of nature; Medivh elected to spend the time going through the books in Almamoon’s library, searching for anything that might be relevant to the war or to history but only finding his interest piqued by books discussing the relationship between magic and science; Gaius, his faith shaken by the horrors he experienced in the Ivory Tower, spent his three days visiting Almamoon’s unitarian church to reflect on religion and the gods and search for some kind of guidance; and Osborne searched the town and talked to the locals for any remnants of the Redbrand, the gang of thieves to which he once belonged.

After the three days had passed, Linny was approached in the forest by a distinguished-looking elf woman wearing a long black robe. The woman introduced herself as Miran and asked if Linny was one of the people who defeated the evil in the tower. When she confirmed, Miran said she was in need of assistance and asked if she could sit down with the whole group to speak with them. She and Linny returned to town to round up the three boys, and they returned to Lues’ Inn to discuss her request. Miran revealed that she was the Open Lord of the city of Waterdeep, a metropolis port city of over two million people to the north. She had been in Castaway Cove looking for someone to help with her issue when she met the badly injured Vincent Dorrin the morning after the group’s battle with the hag in the Miasma Marshlands. Vincent told her all about the party and their actions on the island and in the swamp, so Miran had sent a ward to track and find out more about them. The ward missed them by a few hours at the Forgotten Keep but heard about their heroics in the catacombs, then arrived in Almamoon the same morning the party returned from the Ivory Tower. Sure that this was the kind of group they were looking for, the ward returned to Miran, who immediately set out to find them in Almamoon.

Miran then revealed what she needed them for: many years ago, a scientist working for the National Advancement of Science Administration invented a ship like no other ship before it. Dubbed the Phantom Limit, this ship was capable of passing through planes of existence and exploring that which was previously unexplorable. With a crew of twelve on board, the Phantom Limit left the port of Waterdeep seven years ago — but was never heard from again. Fearing questions and backlash from the public, the Lords of Waterdeep leaked a story that the ship had sank, going so far as to hold funerals for the crew. But now, seven years later, the ship had suddenly reappeared far out in the middle of the ocean sending an automated distress signal. All attempts to contact the ship had failed, but the signal persisted. Knowing she could not send the militia from her own town to investigate and reveal that the story of the ship’s fate was a lie, Miran asked the group if they would come to Waterdeep and join the small crew of a top secret rescue ship to journey out to the Phantom Limit and learn what had happened.

The group debated in private for a while, but understanding this was the sign that Sol had told them they would receive in three days, they knew they had to go along. Miran promised them 1,000 gold each, and the party also asked for payment in the form of information — the whereabouts of Linny’s daughter, knowledge about Sol or the war, et cetera. Miran said that with the size and wealth of Waterdeep she was sure she could put her best men on it, so the terms were agreed. She asked that they leave immediately, so they quickly packed up their belongings and left Almamoon in her luxury carriage. On the first day of the journey Miran told them that the scientist who invented the Phantom Limit was Dr. Neillan Nigel, which instantly rang a bell for Medivh since there had been a statue of this man celebrating his achievements at the college Medivh had attended and worked at, and the rest of the group also remembered seeing this statue in their very first dream sequence into Medivh’s future. On the second day of travel, their carriage came to a stop when four bandits blocked the road and demanded that the group hand over all of their belongings. Miran politely asked the party to take care of the situation, and the bandits were handled when Medivh reanimated the corpse of the first one they killed and had the zombie kill the second, causing the remaining two to flee in fear.

The next day they finally reached Waterdeep, the largest and nicest city any of the group had ever seen before. Miran took the group straight to Dr. Nigel’s headquarters on the north end of town and dropped them off, reminding them that they were to leave for the docks early the next morning. The party went inside and were led upstairs to the labs by the receptionist named Craigory. There they met Dr. Nigel and discussed the Phantom Limit and his history as an inventor, the whole time getting the feeling that the doctor cared more about his inventions than the people who used them. He was excited to show off more of his work including the Polymorpher, which he used to turn Osborne into a ferret, and his first-ever invention the Freedom of Movement strap which he later gave to the rogue as a gift. The doctor also offered the adventurers orbs of elemental effects in exchange for anything worthy of scientific study, and Linny gave him the strange schematic she had found during her hermitage that contributed to her rejoining society. With the day dwindling, Dr. Nigel excused himself to finish final preparations before leaving in the morning, so the party left for their lodgings.

They were given a luxury suite at the Waterdeep Winchester, the fanciest room any of them had ever slept in except for Gaius. Medivh tore the embroidered “WW” pillowcase and fashioned into a new, higher thread-count blindfold, though he turned it upside down so it read “MM.” After sleeping for just four hours, Osborne awoke and entered the living room to find Miran already sitting on the couch waiting. She apologized for the early start but asked that the rest of the party be woken up to leave for the docks immediately. As they were preparing to leave, she also asked Linny if she would like to leave her fox in the hotel’s care instead of bringing it along for the mission. After much internal debate, Linny decided to leave the fox but promised to return for it.

They left the hotel and arrived at the docks just as the sun was rising. Miran reminded them that once they were on board the rescue ship Meriweather the mission was going to officially begin and there was no turning back. She allowed them to take one last trip into a large shop at the harbor to stock up on supplies, and the group found the shop to be unlike any they had found in Phandalin or Almamoon. Given Waterdeep’s propensity for drawing adventurers from all over the world and it’s spot as the trade hub of the continent, the shop featured many specialty items that had been pawned or sold by sailors looking to finance their goals. In addition to basic supplies, each member of the group spent nearly all of their gold to walk away with two specialty items: a necklace of adaptation and stone of good luck for Linny, a philter of love and jar of bees for Gaius, a ring of recall and spell scroll for Medivh, and boots of haste and gloves of thievery for Osborne. Now equipped to the nines, the party met back up with Miran, who told them it was time to meet the crew of the Meriweather and for the mission to begin.

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DREAM INTERLUDE III

Drifting to sleep after their emotionally draining experience in the Ivory Tower, the five reunited adventurers suddenly found themselves being engulfed by the now-familiar white light of the dream journeys to which they were started to become accustomed. As had happened twice before, the light washed their bedrooms out of existence and brought all five of them together in a blank void. There they heard the voice of the mysterious woman speaking to them in couplets, beginning with the same refrain as before and then foreshadowing the scenes they were about to experience:

All things forgotten and all things lost
Rediscovered at great cost
And secrets kept beneath closed lips
Breathe life into the apocalypse
Remember this, remember well
For these events are what they’ll tell

Seeds of hate began to grow
In broken home left broke and alone
The broken pair, now the broken one
Inspired by adventure, decided to run
He soon learned to ride the waves
And found complacency reaps watery graves
An unlikely friendship and heartfelt goodbye
Stir an old grudge he cannot let lie
The answers you seek lie in-between
The life you were born and the one yet unseen

When the poem finished, the void swirled around them and suddenly the group found themselves standing in the kitchen of a modest cottage. Nothing stood out to any of them right away, but they could make out two voices arguing in the living room. They peaked through the crack of the slightly open door, and when they did Ye’Kan gasped — he realized he was standing in the home in which he had been born in the village of Florin, and was now staring at the face of his mother Mara.

Seeds of hate began to grow
In broken home left broke and alone

The party watched as Ye’Kan’s mother argued with a man who was visibly drunk and disheveled. She was very emotional and asked the man what he had lost “this time,” and the man blurted out that he had lost everything — he had taken everything of value from the house and lost it all while gambling, though he argued that he had been trying to win money to make a better life for her son. Just then the group noticed Ye’Kan as a toddler on the other side of the living room, also watching the scene unfold from behind his bedroom door. His mother then lost it, screaming at the man and telling him to get out of her house and never come back. The man briefly tried to apologize but with no effect, so he glumly shuffled out of the house. Mara broke down and started crying, so toddler Ye’Kan emerged from his room to hug and console her. Back in the kitchen, Current Ye’Kan noticed a portrait on the table, one he never remembered seeing before. It was clearly of his mother, looking just a few years younger than she did now, and an elf man standing together. He didn’t recognize this man and started to wonder if this was perhaps his real father, but before he could examine the portrait any further the white light returned and whisked the group away to their next destination.

The broken pair, now the broken one
Inspired by adventure, decided to run

They now found themselves standing in a courtyard in front of a small old building. The rest of the party turned to Ye’Kan for an explanation, and he told them this was the elf orphanage he spent many years in after his mother died. Just then the doors burst open and dozens of pointy-eared children ran outside, starting a rambunctious game of tag with each other and even including Linny, who was about their size. Just behind them came a stern and sturdy-looking woman, who Ye’Kan recognized as the matron of the orphanage and who walked directly toward the group. She asked if they were the adventurers she had sent for, and when they hesitated unsure about what to say, she asked again and called them all by their real names, except for Ye’Kan who she addressed as Kanye. Having never been addressed directly as themselves in these strange dream sequences yet, the group was confused but confirmed their identities. The matron asked them to hurry up and come inside as they were late for their Career Day presentations, and before they could object or ask any questions, she turned around and huffed back inside. Knowing they had to go with the flow, the adventurers shrugged and followed her into the building.

As they walked through the halls, they noticed one boy sitting on a bench reading a large book instead of being outside at recess. The boy’s ears were a bit shorter than the other elf children’s, and Ye’Kan recognized him as his eleven-year-old self. Inside the classroom, the party found four other Career Day presenters standing at the front of the room — an alchemist, a blacksmith, a druid named Pip, and a historian named Sol. The children began shuffling back into the room after recess, and while some were interested in the blind wizard and the bard with the lute, others were afraid of the masked rogue in all black and the badly scarred paladin with an empty sword hilt for a hand. Three of the other presenters had already gone before recess, so Pip the druid was next and explained to the children her connection with nature and animals and showed off her transformation powers. When she finished the matron turned to the five adventurers asked them to go, so Medivh volunteered first and quickly showed off his levitation powers. His speech got a bit out of hand when a girl debated with him over the difference between a wizard and a mage, and after some back and forth teasing he was ordered to go sit on a stool in the corner. Gaius was up next, nervous both about his appearance and being in a classroom again after his own difficult childhood experiences, and tried to read a hastily prepared speech about the virtues of commerce and being a good salesman like his father. After stumbling through it for a few minutes, he finally threw the paper down and ignited the light blade attached to his arm to show off, which delighted the children.

Ye’Kan pushed Osborne forward to go next, and the rogue showed off his abilities by stealing pencils right out of the kids’ hands and replacing them before they could realize what was happening. He then went over his thieves’ tools and talked about how they could help you take anything you want, which made the matron a bit uncomfortable, and then brought out his disguise kit and changed one of the children’s appearance to look like Child Ye’Kan in the back row. It was then Linny’s turn to present, and though she had some difficulty being in a room full of kids and thinking about her own children, she recovered enough to show off her cleric powers by healing a boy with a black eye and then presented her pet fox. Ye’Kan was the last to go, and he explained that he had been inspired to become a bard by reading so many heroic tales of great adventurers and their feats, which caused Child Ye’Kan in the back to perk up for the first time. He then pulled out his lute to play and provide bardic inspiration for the kids, and as he started to pluck the strings the white light returned and washed the scene away.

He soon learned to ride the waves
And found complacency reaps watery graves

Gaius, Medivh, and Osborne found themselves in a large mess hall surrounded by dozens of men dressed like pirate ruffians. None of the pirates seemed to notice them as being out of place, so Osborne joined a game of knucklebones while Gauis and Medivh debated on whether or not they should help themselves to the cheese platter. After a few moments the door opened and a man appeared who the other pirates addressed as Puke, the First Mate. Puke yelled to the entire room that the ship they were after was in sight. Meanwhile, Linny and Ye’Kan found themselves in the cargo hold of a different ship altogether, and Ye’Kan quickly recognized it as the first merchant ship he had joined to pursue adventure on the seas. As he explained this to Linny, a crackling voice called out “who’s there?” and startled them. Putting the pieces together, Ye’Kan realized that the other voice was himself, as he had always gone down into the cargo hold to write music on his lute.

Back on the pirate ship, Puke the First Mate announced the arrival of Captain Söze on the floor. The captain entered and immediately earned the full attention of all the men in the mess hall. He quickly went over the plan they were about to enact, assigning Gaius and Osborne to the team that was supposed to capture the other captain and Medivh to protect their own ship with magic from the crow’s nest. He also said waves of fighters and archers would be boarding and attacking the other crew, and the group realized they were about to do a pirate raid. Söze led the men out of the mess hall and up above deck, where it was nearly pitch black in the middle of the night. On Ye’Kan and Linny’s ship, the bard listened to his younger self begin to write a composition on his lute, which triggered his memory about what day this was. He psychically communicated with Linny that this was the night his merchant ship was attacked by pirates, and that they were about to be boarded and slaughtered so they needed to get his younger self—Lil’ Y, he called him—to safety.

Söze’s ship pulled alongside the merchant ship, and Gaius and Osborne swung over on ropes to begin searching for the captain but also for Linny and Ye’Kan who they knew had to be nearby somewhere. Medivh engaged the merchant ship’s mage in a magic battle high above the decks while Linny and Ye’Kan grabbed Lil’ Y, who had fallen and broken his lute, and brought him up to the second deck. They arrived just as Gauis and Osborne were coming down, and the group reunited. The rest of the pirates still had their own mission to carry out however, so Söze’s bard Bile rushed at Lil’ Y with his sword drawn. The group teamed him to bring him down, and as sounds of violence and explosions increased from above deck, the group debated about how to proceed. Just then another man came down the stairs directly toward them, but not to engage them in a fight — it was Sol the elf historian from the Career Day presentation, and he calmly told the group that they needed to do everything he said and that he would explain later. He instructed Ye’Kan to give Lil’ Y his lute, allow him to be captured, and told them all to grab the captain of the merchant ship and reconvene upstairs.

They followed Sol’s instructions, and soon the pirates had control of the ship and all of the merchant crew rounded up on the top deck. The party stood to the side as Söze boarded and paced around the captives, calling them frightened and weak. He grabbed the captain and slit his throat, which made Gaius, Linny, and Medivh start to react but Sol stopped them before anyone noticed. Söze continued pacing through the rows of prisoners and taunting them until he stopped at Lil’ Y. Noticing the lute on his back, he asked the teenager if he was any good. When Lil’ Y nodded, Söze said his bard Bile had been killed during this battle and now he needed a replacement. The captain ordered Lil’ Y to join his crew, and said that if his performances were disappointing he would kill him in the morning. Satisfied with their haul of stolen goods and now a new bard, Söze ordered his men to kill the rest of the crew and return to the pirate ship. Just as the grizzly scene was about to begin, the white light took the group away to their next destination.

An unlikely friendship and heartfelt goodbye
Stir an old grudge he cannot let lie

The impending violence was replaced by a raucous bar, full of men shouting and drinking and playing piano. The party recognized some of the men as the pirates from Söze’s ship, including Puke the First Mate who was dancing the night away. Far in the corner they also recognized Sol again, who was sitting calmly and also did not look a day older than the last scene. Ye’Kan informed the group that this night was his going away party for when he had left Söze’s ship after ten years of service, making it about a year prior to when he had met them all to work for Gundren Rockseeker in Neverwinter. Fed up with the lack of answers thus far, Gaius started walking directly toward Sol but the elf stood up and disappeared into the crowd before the paladin could reach him. Just then the music stopped and Söze stood up on the bar to give a goodbye speech for their friend Ye’Kan, sharing a series of shots with the slightly younger version of the bard (one of them being for “the revenge you seek”) before sitting him down in a chair to get his pirate tattoo.

Suddenly, the entire scene froze in time except for the five adventurers. They looked around unsure of what just happened when Sol emerged from behind the bar with four beer mugs and a wine glass and spoke the final couplet of the poem they had heard at the beginning of this sequence:

The answers you seek lie in-between
The life you were born and the one yet unseen

This was the first time the group had heard anyone else address the couplets or anything to do with the dream journeys except for the celestial woman they had briefly seen the first time, so naturally they were in desperate need of answers. As Sol approached with the four full mugs for all the boys and the glass of wine for Linny, Ye’Kan realized that he was also the man from the portrait he had seen in his mother’s kitchen. Sol asked them to take a seat at a table, and when they did the entire scene faded out of existence except for the six of them. Medivh asked him how he knew the poem, and Sol told them that their meeting each other and becoming a group did not happen by chance. He said that this was not the first time they had met, and that all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again — or at least that’s what they used to say. He told them that they had all lived their lives multiple times before, but had always been brought back and reunited with each other by the woman from the poems, whom he was an agent of. Sol talked about the future Medivh came from, the one they visited in the first dream journey, and said what caused such a desolate future is exactly what they are trying to stop. They are at war, he said, but they were not ready to know the exact circumstances just yet. This was why they were experiencing these dream sequences — in previous cycles Sol and the woman had told them everything up front or too soon and they had failed each time, so this time they were trying to reveal it slowly to help the group better understand both the situation and themselves. And this was going to be the last chance they had at it, because the woman was dying from using so much of her power to bring them back time and time again.

Sol assured the group they would know more as time went on, and told them that in three days they would receive a sign about what to do next. He then asked the rest of them if they could give him a moment alone with his son Ye’Kan, revealing that he was in fact the bard’s father. He told Ye’Kan that he had had to leave him and his mother to continue his duties as an agent of the celestial woman, but that he had never stopped watching over him or looking out for him. He said he had all the answers his son may be seeking, including the whereabouts of the man who stole everything from his mother and eventually led to her declining health and death, the man Ye’Kan had been searching for his entire life. Sol offered to take him to the man, but said that he first must say goodbye to the group, as he would be joining his father to meet the woman and also become an agent for her. Ye’Kan said his goodbyes, promising to find out everything he could and to return to help them in future dream sequences (he also gave Gaius his gold and Osborne a noogie).

Gaius, Linny, Medivh, and Osborne then woke up in their beds back in the real world while Sol and Ye’Kan were transported back to the village of Florin where they had started. They walked through the town at midday while Sol explained that the man who had ruined his family, whose name was Colin, had left to clean himself up and put his life back together. He had returned a year after being cast out with enough money to repay for everything he had taken, but Mara had already died and young Ye’Kan was already in the orphanage. Flooded with guilt, Colin had started making donations to the orphanage to do what he could for the boy, then started a new family and became a respected member of the community. Current Ye’Kan struggled with this news that Sol delivered, having lived his entire life wanting to kill this man but not wanting to murder a now-good person. Ultimately he decided he would let Colin live—for now—but still keep an eye on him just in case he made a wrong move. With this decision made, Sol led Ye’Kan away and said it was time for him to meet the woman who had brought them together.

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ACT II, EPISODE 7 - THE IVORY TOWER

In a room somewhere far away from the Forgotten Keep, the grimlocks Deetry and Dumock emerged from their teleportation portal angry that they still could not get the upper hand against the adventurers. As they argued and discussed how to separate the party members, Gaius fell through their portal just as it closed and landed at their feet. The paladin was also angry and demanded to know what they wanted from the group, but the grimlocks remained tight lipped and engaged him in battle instead. He was able to kill the sharp tongued Deetry, but as he was doing so Dumock sneaked up behind him and stabbed him in the back between his armor. As he was losing blood and consciousness, Gaius heard a somewhat familiar voice instruct Dumock to put his body in the cellar.

Back at the Keep the next morning, the remaining three adventurers asked Richter to send a messenger to Almamoon to tell Trevor Belmont what had transpired and give him the password to enter the ivory tower. The large man agreed and the group set out for the tower to retrieve their missing friend and find the answers behind all the strange events they had experienced since they had come to this town. They arrived at the tower at dusk and found it jutting multiple stories into the sky, taller even than the last time they had stood outside it. Linny spoke the password “open” and the tower shifted, with the small plank of wood they had seen last time rotating and morphing into a large open door. The three of them entered into a large chamber and almost immediately the door slammed shut behind them and all the lights went out. The raspy voice of the shadowy figure then surrounded them and spoke, welcoming them to the tower devilishly and daring them to solve the puzzles that awaited them.

The lights returned and the group found themselves in the middle of a large room with four pillars topped by torches and a door on the far end imbued with six powerful magic locks. The door would not budge under any circumstances and there were no other doors aside from the one they had entered from, so they were unsure how to proceed. Just then they remembered the first lost journal page they had acquired from Logarth the giant in the Mountains of Yule which was a drawing of a candle being blown out. Taking a guess, Ye’Kan used Mage Hand to snuff out the four torches atop the pillars, and when he was finished one of the six magical locks disengaged and one of the pillars slid to the side and revealed a set of stairs going down.

Descending the stairs, the party entered a dark and grim cellar with two naked and beaten men chained to the wall. The first man was already dead but the second one was still breathing, so Linny approached to heal him but quickly and horrifyingly realized that the man was Gaius, looking drastically different than he did when he jumped in the portal. He seemed to be 15 years older with long hair and a long beard, the left side of his face badly burned, scars all over his body, and his left hand missing. Osborne and Ye’Kan brought him down from the wall and Linny healed him as best she could, but his scars and disfigurements remained. They asked him what had happened since last night, but the paladin just shook his head and did not speak. Ye’Kan dressed him in the extra set of travel clothes he had taken from Iarno Albrek way back in Tresendar Manor and provided him with a spare scimitar while Linny equipped him with her extra set of scale mail armor, and once dressed Gaius stood up unsteadily and walked up the stairs back into the main room without saying a word. The group went to follow him and as they passed the other dead body chained to the wall, Linny noticed he was wearing a necklace. When she looked closer she realized that it was Leon Belmont’s necklace, meaning this man was Leon and, perhaps most disturbingly, he had been dead for a very long time.

Back in the main chamber, Gaius sat down on the ground facing the magically locked door and waited. He still wouldn’t say what had happened, but did manage to mutter “open the door.” Linny and Osborne went to investigate the rest of the room while Ye’Kan stayed with Gaius, who wouldn’t answer the bard’s questions about what was going on and only said “we need to be ready.” On the four pillars, Linny and Osborne found symbols that wrapped around each structure that indicated circles and repetitions, with each one starting and ending with the same door symbol. Linny pressed one of these symbols that was protruding out from the stone, and the door they had entered from creaked open to reveal a long stone hallway and not the forest they had traveled through to get here. With no other options, the party went through the door with Gaius weakly in tow and came to a dead end with some unfamiliar markings on the wall. It was a math puzzle written in the unique coded language of Leon’s journal which asked the party to identify the symbols that added up to the correct number of limbs of a series of monsters. After some debating and calculating, the group made their guesses and instantly heard a click come from back in the main hall. When they returned they found that the second magical lock on the door had become disengaged, and they began to understand what they had to do.

This sequence repeated four more times — they would press the symbol protruding from the pillar, the entrance door would re-open into a new environment each time, and puzzle would await them at the end. First was a boobytrapped path puzzle not too dissimilar from the one they had solved back in the Mountains of Yule; next was a room with two donkey wheels that each turned a dial on the wall a different number of times, which the party had to spin in a specific way to get specific symbols to light up; then came a very large room with four pillars sticking up out of deep pools of water that had to be rotated in a specific order; and finally came a long hallway that separated Linny and Gaius from Osborne and Ye’Kan and forced each pair to communicate and draw symbols without the benefit of seeing what the other was doing. Each puzzle was made easier to solve thanks to the clues on the journal pages that the party had recovered during their mission. After what seemed like hours, the group managed to solve every puzzle and returned to the main room one last time to see the sixth and final lock disengage and the large door swing open.

In this new area, the party saw another huge door in front of them and a hallway leading to a smaller door off to the left. From behind the large door Osborne heard muffled angry voices and some kind of swirling pulsating noise, and from the small door Linny heard weak whimpers and instinctively ran in. Inside were four chained up children, four dead bodies of older victims missing the tops of their heads, and a large pile of small trinkets in the corner. Linny freed and healed the children while Gaius slowly approached the pile, feeling somehow drawn to it. He sifted through the trinkets and found a few non-noteworthy items before pulling out the hilt of a sword with no blade attached, upon which the sense of being pulled in this direction faded. Linny and Ye’Kan spoke to the children, who said that there had been a fifth child with them named Liara—Terra and Leon’s daughter—but a man had teleported in and taken her away. The kids described the man as having pointy ears and wearing a blindfold over his eyes, which surprised the party greatly as it was the exact description of their missing friend Medivh. Linny instructed the children to follow her fox back to Almamoon away from the danger of the tower and tell everyone what had happened. As they left Ye’Kan gathered up all the trinkets in the room and put them in his bag so he could return them once they got back to town.

Once the children were safely outside, the four adventurers approached the remaining large door, which swung open before they could touch it. They entered and saw three figures standing in front of a large swirling vortex in the back of the room — the first figure was Dumock the grimlock, the second figure was larger than a man and was facing the portal with its back to the group, and the third figure was a hooded man. The door slammed shut behind them and a force wall sprung up in front of them, preventing them from advancing any further into the room. The man stepped forward and started to speak, removing his hood as he did to reveal that he was Trevor Belmont. Trevor monologued about how far the party had come based on the trap he had set — he had killed Leon because he was in love with Terra and was given power by his leader Mal’Ganis, then started abducting children as a ruse to bring the adventurers to Almamoon so they could strengthen their minds through a series of puzzles and then have their minds consumed. Before the party could interject and argue, a large tentacle stabbed through Trevor’s chest mid-sentence and killed him instantly. The tentacle retracted into the body of the large figure in front of the portal, who turned to face the group and revealed that he was Mal’Ganis the mind flayer. He asked what they were seeking and Gaius shouted “justice,” upon which his empty sword hilt activated and a blade made of pure light emerged from the handle. In the heat of the moment the paladin jammed the hilt into the stump where his left hand had been, making the light sword an extension of his arm now.

Still trapped behind the wall of force, the party tried to figure out how to advance and battle this final boss. There were four elevated platforms on their side of the room, so Osborne climbed on one with the intention of using it to jump off of, but when he stood on it something else happened. The rogue was teleported away to a dark dimension, where he found himself momentarily alone until he saw his little brother approach and reach out to him. Before he could act, a blade was stabbed through his brother’s chest from behind, spraying blood onto Osborne’s face. Understanding he was in some kind of hallucination, he tried to fight whatever was controlling his mind and successfully broke the spell, instantly returning to the room with the vortex to find that the force wall was now down and his platform had disappeared. The party moved in to attack but the wall quickly went back up, leaving the group to understand that they all had to take a turn on the platforms to break the mind flayer’s concentration on the wall. Linny went second and had to watch her husband and children be slain again in the dark dimension, but managed to shake Mal’Ganis’ hold and reemerge unscathed. Ye’Kan was next and was presented with a vision of his mother who quickly transformed into the Nothic that had scarred the bard back in Tresendar Manor, and the vision was too much for him to overcome — he was still returned to the main room with the wall down, but he was hurt and mentally drained. Last was Gaius, who still felt weak but went ahead anyway and saw his father watch on in disappointment as he himself turned into a chicken and was taunted by his peers from paladin training. Even in his beaten state, however, he managed to shake the mind flayer’s control and return, bringing the force wall down for good.

While the party was dealing with their visions, Mal’Ganis moved to Trevor’s body and consumed the dead man’s entire brain. Once the wall came down the group rushed in and attacked, with Gaius charging at Dumock and everyone else going for Mal’Ganis. Dumock fought back with Gaius’ lava maul, which he had stolen and then burned the paladin with the night before, but Gaius fought through the trauma and killed the grimlock, even breaking the maul along the way. The group had their hands full with the mind flayer but Ye’Kan cast a Thunderwave spell which knocked the monster backwards and into the portal, where he disappeared and all became calm. Linny investigated Trevor’s body for any more clues and took his magic cloak, while Osborne pulled a ring off Dumock that assisted with fighting mind control. As they gathered themselves and prepared to return to Almamoon, however, the portal reopened and grew much bigger, sucking the party into it with sheer force and transporting them all to dark and mysterious new dimension.

They landed clumsily on a single floating platform and saw Mal’Ganis talking to a giant pulsating brain, saying he had done with the brain had wanted and now wanted “the power.” The brain zapped Mal’Ganis, who grew bigger and started glowing as he turned to face the party. The battle continued, with the brain constantly trapping members of the group in prison cubes and deactivating their magic and attack abilities. Once Ye’Kan was trapped in one of these cubes, he took out a piece of chalk and drew the symbol that Leon’s journal had said to use to save your mind, and when the symbol was complete the prison shattered and the bard was no longer affected by the brain’s powers. Gaius destroyed the brain by running over it and dragging his light blade along its surface as he went, which made Mal’Ganis scream angrily and start flying through the air. As he tried to make airborne attacks, the mind flayer was suddenly hit by a fireball that came flying through the portal, followed by another flying figure — the blind elf wizard Medivh Alucard. The fireball stunned Mal’Ganis and sent him tumbling clumsily through the air, so Gaius jumped up and hit him multiple times with everything he had, using his light blade to split the monster down the middle and kill him for good.

The now-five adventurers went back through the portal and returned to the ivory tower, where they questioned Medivh as to what had happened. The wizard said he had left after his strange dream sequence to study and soul search and ended up with some knights in a land completely devoid of all magic abilities. After a while though he was attacked by the pair of grimlocks who said they needed him, and he realized he had to find his friends. He returned to Phandalin but they had already gone, then tracked them to Almamoon and the mountains and the marshlands but was always a step behind them. In his investigations he discovered that one of the missing children named Liara was special, so he figured out how to teleport into the tower to get her out and take her to the knights in the only place he knew was safe for now. He was worried about returning her to Almamoon because she had aged while in captivity like Gaius had and he feared that her mother and the townsfolk would not understand.

The five heroes left the tower and returned to Almamoon, where they found that the fox and the four children they had freed had made it back safely. Ye’Kan took the bag of trinkets to Evermore Tavern for the parents to go through, while Linny took Medivh to Terra to explain what had happened to Liara. They agreed to take Terra to where her daughter was being kept right away, and the mother had no qualms about leaving the horrors of what had happened in Almamoon behind. The trio left town while Gaius, Osborne, and Ye’Kan returned to Lues’ Inn, where they were so tired and relieved to be finished that the little man’s demeanor didn’t even grate on them this time. They went to bed with plans to regroup with Linny and Medivh the next morning, when they would figure out what to do next.

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ACT II, EPISODE 6 - HARBINGER

Our heroes awoke at the Cat’s Cradle at dawn. After a brief meeting they decided their next destination was the Forgotten Keep, the third location that had been suggested to them by Trevor Belmont when they had first arrived and the home of the prisoners they had freed back in the Mountains of Yule. After a quick goodbye with a less-grateful-than-he-should-be Vincent Dorrin, the party hit the road. After traveling for a while they ran into four soldiers who offered to escort them to the Keep, and when they arrived the soldiers demanded the group’s weapons for security reasons. This created a bit of unease among the adventurers but they eventually complied and were led into the castle.

Inside they were greeted by a very large man with a very large beard who introduced himself as Richter Bartley. Richter thanked the party for rescuing his Kingsguard men from the mountains and asked what he could do for them. They told him about their search for the children and he replied that he and his men had also been looking into the matter but had been unable to come up with anything. The Kingsguard knew about the missing children because some of them still had families in Almamoon from their previous occupation of the Keep. Richter gave the group a brief history of their organization: the king that had ruled there had started to go crazy and believed that Richter and his wife Elizabeth were conspiring against him, so he preemptively killed Elizabeth and in retaliation Richter killed the king. After the king’s death the men abandoned the castle but many of them still stayed loyal to Richter, and now they had returned to protect the land once again.

Richter mentioned that in their searches they had come across several strange pages that seemed to have been ripped out of a book, and by now the party knew that these were more missing clues from Leon’s journal. They asked to see them but Richter was tired of talking about business with his visitors and instead challenged them to a series of games for the rights to the pages. They entered an arena at the center of the castle and participated in a number of skills challenges: Ye’Kan won at archery, Linny lost to Richter at arm wrestling but beat him at the long jump, and Osborne won a foot race (all while Gaius snacked and judged everyone). The last round was a friendly spar with the objective being to knock the opponent into a designated circle at the edge of the arena, and the adventurers came out on top when Linny leaped off Gaius’ summoned spectral horse Francine and catapulted into Richter.

Satisfied with the group’s participation in his games, Richter gave them one of Leon’s pages and said there were two more being stored down in the castle’s tombs. A lot of bad things had started happening upon the discovery of the pages, so he and his men were superstitious and did not want them around. He also said he would not join them in the tombs because his wife was buried there, and he asked that they be careful not to disturb her resting place. He agreed to send Ike and Lucius, two of the men the group had rescued in the mountains, as guides and also agreed to return their weapons, and off they went. The first few rooms were lined with sarcophagi, and deeper inside they discovered a room with jail cells and skeletons still inside them. Ike and Lucius explained that this whole area used to be the Keep’s jail, but when they had left the land many years ago they had left the prisoners behind to die. At the end of this room was a large locked door and Linny spied the key hanging inside one of the cells, but as soon as she entered the bars slammed close and the corpses came to life. The adventurers attacked and vanquished the undead foes but were unable to get any kind of explanation from Ike and Lucius, who were frightened themselves and had no idea what had happened.

Using the key to unlock the door and proceed, they came to a large room with a single well-decorated coffin sitting on a pedestal in the center. Upon investigating they found it was Elizabeth Bartley’s coffin, so they respected Richter’s wishes and moved away from it. This room led off down hallways in opposite directions, and choosing the first path they came to a dead-end that displayed a riddle about choosing an innocent man out of eight accused criminals. Ike and Lucius said it was another one of Richter’s games, and the party was able to solve it after a few minutes of deliberation. When they returned to the central room, however, they discovered that Elizabeth’s coffin was now open. The looked inside and found no remnants of a body, only another journal page and a strange gauntlet that Osborne claimed. Just then they heard whispers and murmurs coming from the second path, and Ike and Lucius refused to go with them to investigate. They listened at the door to hear more of the frightening sounds, and Ye’Kan moved to the back of the marching order so he wouldn’t have to face any more creepy encounters. Unfortunately for him, Gaius and Osborne grabbed him by the arms and threw him through the doors first.

Inside the room was the ghost of a woman standing in front of an altar against one wall and a small shelf with three bowls on the opposite wall. She looked up when Ye’Kan was pushed in but did not move yet. The supernatural-averse bard tried to address her and she revealed that she was Elizabeth Bartley. She had the third and final journal page, but grew angry when the group asked for it because they were trying to take what did not belong to them. Linny tried to reason with her but Elizabeth said the only way for them to get it was to put her soul to rest. Osborne took this as a sign to attack, but when he got close the ghost drained some of his life force and pushed him back. The rest of the group rushed in at this point and the battle was on. Any hit they landed on Elizabeth caused some ectoplasmic goo to fly off her body, but the attacks did not seem to slow her down. Sensing she was protected by some kind of supernatural force, Linny ran to the altar and found a large vial full of blood while Gaius scooped up some of the goo and placed it in the bowls. When the blood and goo were combined in all three bowls, the matter disappeared completely and Elizabeth screamed.

The angry ghost suddenly rushed at Ye’Kan and jumped inside his body, possessing the bard and taking control of his movements. The rest of the group now had to dodge his attacks, as he hit them all with a Thunderwave spell and successfully used Heat Metal on Linny to make her remove her armor. He was still able to speak and kept yelling out that he wasn’t doing anything on purpose, but Osborne still rushed up to attack him. Ye’Kan was able to shake free of Elizabeth’s possession after a few moments, and the ghost tried to take control of Osborne next but was denied. Gaius finally landed the killing blow on the now vulnerable specter, though the splash damage of his maul knocked Ye’Kan unconscious. Elizabeth dropped the final journal page and Linny healed everyone, though Ye’Kan stayed down for a few moments, shaken by the whole ordeal of being possessed and hurting his friends.

Having retrieved all the pages, the group re-entered the coffin room to fetch Ike and Lucius and return to Richter, but were stopped when the grimlocks Deetry and Dumock teleported in. Gaius used his Abjure Enemy ability to frighten them and freeze them in place, but the danger was not over; Ike and Lucius started to convulse and contort until their heads exploded and two intellect devourers emerged from their bodies. The walking brain monsters rendered Osborne and Ye’Kan useless with their mind attacks, but they were returned to normal when Gaius and Linny were able to squish the foes. Gaius approached the frozen grimlocks to interrogate them, but as he got close they created a portal beneath their feet to teleport away. Just as they were falling in, Gaius immediately reacted and jumped in after them, making it into the portal just before it closed. The rest of the group could only look on in shock as the two grimlocks and their paladin friend were now completely gone and they had no idea where they went.

The remaining three adventurers returned to Richter and told him that Ike and Lucius had been killed and that Gaius and the grimlocks had teleported away. Upon hearing about the magical grimlocks, Richter told them a story: back in the time of the king, there had been a wizard that lived in the ivory tower outside of Almamoon. The wizard helped the king protect the land, but one day the wizard simply disappeared and that’s when the king started to lose his mind. Now many years later, the ivory tower was suddenly active again and behaving in ways Richter had never seen before. He guessed that these magic grimlocks might have something to do with it and suggested that the group go there to look for their missing friend. They told him they had been there before on their first night in town but couldn’t find a way in, to which Richter responded that they just had to speak the password “open” to gain access. The party was annoyed at this simple solution, to which Richter just laughed and said the old wizard had been very powerful but still liked jokes.

The remaining three of the group also told him that they had found Elizabeth’s coffin empty, which surprised him greatly. They said they were able to put her soul to rest (though they left out the part about the violence) and he was somber but grateful, so he awarded them a pair of scimitars that when combined formed the shape of a heart in their cutaways. With night falling outside the Keep the party asked Richter if they could stay the night in his castle, and the large man agreed. Late that night as they lay in their beds, Linny used all of the collected journal pages to finally crack the cypher of the book’s coded messages. Down a friend but now armed with the decoded messages and warnings of Leon Belmont’s book, the group prepared to set out for the ivory tower at dawn, unsure of the dangers that awaited them there.

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ACT II, EPISODE 5 - THE TAIL THAT WAGS THE HAG

As the party took a moment to recollect themselves after defeating Charles the Werebear and removing his tail, Linny stood up and declared that as much as she wanted to get back to the matter of the missing children, she couldn’t in good conscious allow the cultists’ horrific experiments on people and animals to continue. Everyone agreed and decided to go back through the halls that led them to the current chamber and find the cult leader Ozymandias. In the force wall hallway, everyone made it through with relative ease except for Gaius, who insisted on trying to jump both walls at the same time while riding Francine. The spectral horse stumbled over the first barrier and dissipated, sending the paladin sprawling across the floor.

The party returned to the large chamber where Ye’Kan had put a spell on Ezekiel and found that their charmed friend had returned with three other guards. He was still friendly toward them, but one of the new guards named Jobe declared that he knew all of the inhabitants of the lair and knew for a fact that the adventurers were intruders. The group tried their best to persuade Jobe otherwise, but only Linny was able to fool the hostile cultists of her allegiance while the boys all failed. A scuffle broke out in which Linny was not initially attacked and instead contributed to the battle by “accidentally” standing in front of Ye’Kan and using her head to balance his Eldritch Blast shot. Osborne lashed out and did more damage in a single hit than the party had ever witnessed before, and after the cultists fell Ye’Kan took Ezekiel’s necklace of animal claws as a souvenir.

Moving through the door that Ezekiel had previously said was the path to Ozymandias, the group spied two holes in the wall next to them that were emitting a stream of smoke. They were preparing to check for traps when Gaius reached over and snatched Ye’Kan’s new necklace off and tossed it forward, activating the the wall traps and sending a fireball shooting out of each hole. They went one at a time past the trap, and even though Gaius’ attempt to bat the fireball back into the hole with his maul failed miserably, they eventually all made it to the other side. At the next door they could hear chanting along with some animal snarls, and when Osborne peeked in the room he saw a large robed man standing in a cursed blood symbol that took up nearly the entire floor and surrounded by a pack of wolves. Figuring this was the dastardly Ozymandias, they charged in and attacked.

The already-cursed Osborne and Gaius rushed over the symbol and straight up to him for melee combat, while the uncursed Linny and Ye’Kan hung back for spellcasting. The wolves jumped in the way of all the party’s attacks to protect their master, and as soon as one wolf fell another would enter through one of the seven doors all around the room and take its place in the circle. Figuring they had to break these doors to end the unlimited wolf supply, Ye’Kan, Linny, and Osborne took on that responsibility while Gaius continued to hammer away at the villain and his pets. When the doors were taken care of, Ozymandias shot a Lightning Bolt that knocked the young paladin unconscious and close to death. Linny quickly healed him, however, and Gaius was able to stand up and—albeit woozily—deliver the final killing blow to the cult leader. Once Ozymandias fell both Gaius and Osborne felt the blood curse being lifted, and the cultist’s body decayed and turned to ash almost instantly. Among his remains the party found another strange drawing like the one they had acquired back in the Mountains of Yule that seemed like a missing page from Leon’s journal.

With the island now cleared of evil the party was ready to return to the Icarus Two and fly back with Vincent, but they began to worry what he might do about the polar bear tail. Still irked by the fact that he did not accompany them onto the island, they began to wonder if they could trust him to actually take them back and allow them to leave with the tail that he also desired. At the same time they were not very eager to return to Camilla the hag and assist her with anything, so they debated as they healed and regrouped after the battle. Just then the frightening shadowy figure that spoke to them in the Mountains of Yule reappeared, freezing the group in fear. In a low raspy whisper, the shadow told them, “The path is clear. There is more than one answer to every riddle,” before quickly disappearing back into the ether. Thoroughly spooked once again, the adventurers tried to calm themselves and think about the shadow’s words. They remembered that there were sewers beyond the werebear’s chambers that they hadn’t checked out, and thinking there might be an alternate path or perhaps even another mode of transportation down there, they decided to head back and investigate.

The adventurers returned to the werebear cage and entered the sewers, which were very dark and smelled of copper. They walked for hours and hours without encountering anything until they saw a light up ahead. They realized it was an exit at the end of the tunnel, and when they emerged outside they were shocked to find that they were back in Almamoon. Putting the pieces together, they realized that the island cultists had been using this tunnel to travel from their lair to the town to abduct animals for their dark experiments, which helped explain why Almamoon had not seen an animal for a long time. This reminded Linny that she had left her fox familiar on board Vincent’s airship back on the island, and she began to panic. It had been hours since they stepped off the ship and it would be hours back to the island through the sewer tunnel, so they figured it was unlikely that Vincent was still there waiting for them. Unable to do anything in the short term, the party decided to find Trevor Belmont and check in with him about what they had discovered so far, and then decide what to do about the fox.

They went to Evermore Tavern and found Terra working the bar. She informed them that two more children had been abducted since they were last in town, then sent one of her employees to fetch Trevor. Once he arrived the party asked to speak to him in private, so the five of them went off to Lues’ Inn where they purchased rooms for the evening and had their meeting in one of Gaius’ three rooms. They told Trevor about all they had seen and done in the Mountains of Yule, where he was surprised to learn that the giant Logarth was real; in the Miasma Marshlands, where he seemed curious and concerned about the existence of Camilla the hag; and in Castaway Cove and the island, where he was very interested in learning about and meeting Vincent Dorrin. The group offered to bring Trevor along since they were leaving for Castaway Cove at dawn to retrieve Linny’s fox, and he agreed.

The next morning Gaius purchased a new red velvet chair for the back of his horse from Lues for 200 gold pieces, and off they went. When they arrived they found the Icarus Two in the port but with no sign of Vincent or the fox. They decided to try the tavern where they found him in the first place, and on the way they saw him walking down the road with the fox on a leash. A tense standoff ensued in which he accused them of escaping the island and cheating him of the tail, while the party maintained they had simply investigated the sewer without knowing where they would end up. Finally they reached an agreement that they would trade him the tail for the fox and also help him kill Camilla, as long as they got to watch him make the necessary potion. Everyone returned to the Icarus Two: Linny, Ye’Kan, and Trevor all went with Vincent to watch him concoct the potion, which included his own blood and a vial of his deceased sister’s blood; Gaius stayed above deck to work on his tan; and Osborne sneaked below to search Vincent’s belongings, where he found the pilot’s journal containing ramblings about catching Camilla and a pressed flower in the back. Once everything was finished, Trevor said he was going to stay behind and asked to keep Leon’s journal, but Linny declined and said they might need it to fight the hag. The party plus Vincent left Castaway Cove and headed straight for the Marshlands to put the polar bear tail potion to work.

Knowing Camilla was only expecting the four of them, the group told Vincent to wait outside until it was time to strike. They knocked and entered the hag’s cottage, where she willingly gave up the journal page she had been hiding. Ye’Kan quickly grabbed it and threw the potion vial at the same time, which shattered and covered the hag in the liquid. She screamed and the cottage started to fade out of existence, and now the party saw the environment for what it truly was: ten small islands connected by wooden bridges over smelly, corrosive-looking swamp water. Vincent rejoined them and they attempted to attack the now-vulnerable hag, but every time she was hit she would teleport away to a different island and leave behind some kind of magic charm. Eventually they realized that destroying these charms would recall her to that location, so they used them to their advantage to bring her back and inflict further damage. They were able to group up on her, but such a strategy cost them when Camilla cast a Thunderwave spell that sent Vincent flying into the swamp water. He screamed in agony and took a lot of damage before Linny was able to pull him out with a rope and cast Create Water to clean him off. Finally Osborne brought the hag down, and the group was satisfied knowing they had avenged some of the missing children.

Vincent woke up and thanked the party for their help in ridding the land of such evil. He was still in bad shape, so they loaded him up on Gaius’ red velvet chair and rode back to Castaway Cove. As soon as they helped him inside the Cat’s Cradle, several women rushed up to him to tend to his wounds and take care of him. With night falling once again, the adventurers purchased rooms for the evening and went to sleep, ready to make their next move.

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ACT II, EPISODE 4 - BEWARE THE WEREBEAR

The party awoke from their second strange dream sequence safely back in their rooms at the Cat’s Cradle. Linny was still very distraught but managed to pull herself together enough to head downstairs with the rest of the gang. Vincent was already at the bar, smoking his pipe and criticizing the group for being late to rise. He suggested that they go for supplies before leaving for the island, so they headed over to the town’s general store and found that, much to the dismay of Ye’Kan, it was run by yet another ones of Hughes’ brothers named Stu. The bard spent most of the shopping trip with his head in his hands while Gaius egged the shopkeeper on and the rest of the group picked up some potions and a wheel of cheese. Now fully prepared to head to the mysterious island to acquire the polar bear tail that both Camilla and Vincent desired, they boarded the Icarus Two airship and ascended into the sky.

On board, Ye’Kan continued to try to impress Vincent with sailor talk, Linny explored the bowels of the ship and found Vincent’s diary, and Gaius and Osborne took note of two mounted crossbows on either side of the deck. Just as they began to see the island come into view below, eight flying spined devils emerged from the clouds and attacked the ship. Gaius smashed one that landed with his maul, but the fiery splash damage from the blow caused one of the cables holding the ship together to snap. The young paladin was thrown overboard and nearly fell to his doom, just barely managing to grab on to the hull at the last second. Thankfully Linny cast Mending on the broken cable and righted the ship, allowing the rest of the group to finish off the devils and eventually land safely on the island.

Now back on solid ground, the party gathered their things and prepared for their polar bear hunt. Vincent informed them he would be staying on the ship, which ruffled some feathers but he was quick to point out that he had never promised to go with them and that he was their only way back so they better deal with it. He also warned them of rumors about a dangerous cult that lived somewhere on the island. They stepped out and found that they were far from a tropical paradise — a heavy fog hung low, all of the trees were dying, and the ground appeared rotted. The copper smell they had sensed when first arriving back in Almamoon also filled the air as they began their trek. The island was relatively small so they hadn’t been walking for very long when they spied a strangely colored bush that did not fit in with any of the other local flora. Upon investigating they discovered that the bush was hiding a cellar door that led underground. Osborne carefully lifted it open and the adventurers headed inside.

The first room was filled with broken tables and barrels, though Gaius was able to find one wine barrel that was still intact and quickly filled his waterskin. A long black carpet formed a path that led to the next door, and along the ground were mysterious symbols painted with blood. The party checked Leon’s journal for any hints about these symbols and found nothing, but Linny remembered from her studies that this symbol had something to do with a cult that believed they could splice themselves with animals. The symbols appeared again and again as the group moved through a series of empty rooms and hallways, with Gaius and Osborne stepping through and smearing a few of them as they went. Eventually they snuck up on three cultists with bloody pet tigers and panthers and attacked. During the battle, Gaius and Osborne felt random sharp pains as they fought that didn’t do very much damage but were strange nonetheless. The group vanquished all but the last man, whom Ye’Kan cast Charm Person on to get more information.

The charmed cultist introduced himself as Ezekiel and said that his cult was indeed conducting experiments to splice people and animals into single beings. He noticed a smeared blood symbol on the ground and said that whoever had done that now had a blood curse that would hurt them slowly over time until it wore off, which explained what was happening to Gaius and Osborne. He also said his leader Ozymandias was off worshiping in a nearby room and that there was more “prizes” behind a locked door in this room. Ezekiel fetched the key for them and Ye’Kan sent him away to guard the cellar door they had entered from.

Through the locked door they passed a hallway with magic force traps that the usually dexterous Osborne and Ye’Kan had trouble getting over in a repeat performance of the chain climbing incident. That hallway led into a room with a large blood symbol painted on the floor, a piano, four cultists and their pets, and two men on tables who had been cut open and had their organs rearranged with animal parts. The cultists and their beasts were defeated while Gaius and Osborne continued to be hurt by their curse, but the men on the table were unable to be saved. They noticed that the piano had a riddle carved into the side that could only be solved by playing specific keys in order, and after a lengthy brainstorming session they were able to hit the right notes and the piano opened up. Inside was a tattered black cloak with black necromantic mist swirling around the bottom that Gaius claimed for his own. Feeling dangerous in his new attire, the paladin summoned his black spectral steed Francine to complete the ensemble.

The four adventurers plus horse moved through a few more hallways, with blood stains and corpses becoming more plentiful as they went. Finally they entered a small room with a cage in one corner. Inside they saw a man who appeared to have been cut open down the middle and then hastily sewn back together, with a few random tufts of fur growing along his back. He was moaning in pain and asked the group to help him. As they unlocked his cage he said his name was Charles and that he had been kidnapped from his home in Castaway Cove and brought here to be experimented on by the cultists. He started to explain that there were sewers beyond this room but before he could get very far he began heaving and writhing in agony. His body started twisting and transforming into something, so the party pushed him back into the cage. Linny and Francine pushed against the bars to hold him in as he changed into a giant polar werebear that now occupied almost the entirety of his cell.

Charles the Polar Werebear pushed back against them as Osborne quickly dashed up to re-lock the door and Ye’Kan reached between the bars to cast Bestow Curse and make it difficult for the monster to move. He swiped at the bars of the cell, eventually breaking it wide open and setting himself free. He had difficulty fighting back against the curse and also caught on fire thanks to a Searing Smite from Gaius. He was eventually able to break both spells and was furious at that point, so he picked up Francine by legs and threw the horse at Ye’Kan and Gaius and trapped them under the animal’s weight. Linny was able to deliver the killing blow with her Spiritual Weapon spell before the werebear could inflict any further damage, however, and the gnome cut off the beast’s tail to fulfill Camilla the hag’s request. Beaten and bloodied from such a frightening encounter, the party took a moment to regroup and ponder their next move. The sewers were ahead, the cult leader Ozymandias was back the way they came, and a choice between giving the polar bear tail to either Camilla or Vincent loomed large.

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DREAM INTERLUDE II

Just as the adventures drifted off to sleep in their rooms at Cat’s Cradle in Castaway Cove, they were once again surrounded by a blinding white light — the same light they had experienced before the strange dream about Medivh’s past back in Phandalin. As the light absorbed them and everything in their rooms, they found themselves floating in some kind of blank void and were surprised to see that Medivh was with them as well. Before they could ask their wizard friend where he had been all these weeks, they heard the familiar voice of the celestial woman who had seemed to guide them and speak to them during the last dream. Again speaking in rhyming couplets, the woman’s voice addressed the adventurers in the void:

All things forgotten and all things lost
Rediscovered at great cost
And secrets kept beneath closed lips
Breathe life into the apocalypse
Remember this, remember well
For these events are what they’ll tell

Witness the oath that paved the way
For the life it left in disarray
Help those in need through masked intent
To save the flock from their lament
Decisions made in heat and flame
Will break the bonds that come with names
Through love those hurt will laugh again
And find new life and start to mend
Happiness is not without its faults
But where one hope sails another calls

When the poem ended, the bright light dissipated and the five adventurers found themselves standing in a large, bustling town. Bells were ringing and everyone on the street was well-dressed and hurrying toward the center of the city. The party looked up and saw their destination was a towering, shimmering church standing tall over the rest of the structures in this well-off town. Messages were being displayed in the sky above the cathedral via prestidigitation spells, including a countdown clock sitting at 15 minutes, a slogan about being humble (which seemed ironic given the extravagance of the town), and the church’s name: the Minnie Church of Pelor. Seeing this, Linny Minnie Bumblebey began to panic and told her friends that they couldn’t be here and ran off into a nearby alley. They found her a minute later rocking back and forth covering her face with her hands. Gaius kneeled to her level and asked for an explanation, and Linny said that they were in Solaris, the town she grew up in. Unsure of how or why they had come to this place, the group tried to comfort their gnome friend without knowing how to proceed as the countdown clock above the church chimed to signal 10 minutes remaining. Gaius suggested disguising Linny so that she wouldn’t be recognized while they waited for the situation to play out, so Medivh provided his Redbrand cloak that he had stolen from Tresendar Manor weeks prior and Ye’Kan expertly used his disguise kit to render her completely unrecognizable.

Witness the oath that paved the way
For the life it left in disarray

Just as they finished the makeover, a hulking half-orc in an official-looking uniform strolled by the alley and spotted the five of them. He approached and asked what they were doing, and Gaius presented his scroll of pedigree to avoid suspicion. Seeing this, the half-orc—who’s uniform identified him as Armstrong—picked up Gaius in a loving bearhug and started running toward the church, claiming it would be an honor to escort such a nobleman to “the ceremony.” As they moved away and Gaius’ cries of protest got quieter and quieter, the rest of the group looked to Linny for what to do next. The gnome said the ceremony was important to the town but nothing suspicious or dangerous, and that they should just follow for now and she would try to explain everything later. They arrived at the entrance to the church just in time to see Armstrong put a frazzled Gaius down near the door, and the half-orc told the group to find him later after the ceremony was over.

The party entered and found the church at maximum capacity, with over a thousand people packed into the pews and standing along the walls. Still in their normal adventuring clothes, they got a fair share of dirty looks from the well-dressed attendees as they shuffled to a few empty seats in the back, and even noticed that a few extra security guards dressed in the same uniform as Armstrong began to drift to their position. After a few more minutes of being profiled, ceremonious chanting began inside the church as a very old gnome priest began his procession down the center aisle surrounded by dozens of choir singers. He was followed by three more gnomes—a seven-year-old brightly smiling girl and her parents—and at the sight of them Linny hung her head and started to tremble. When the procession reached the front, the priest took his spot on stage and gave a speech about the values of being humble and giving oneself over to the deity Pelor. He proclaimed that this day was a celebration of his seven-year-old granddaughter Linny Bobinny Bananafana Mo Minnie Throwyrhandsup Atmae getting confirmed before the glory of Pelor, and the young version of Linny that stood before him beamed as this confirmation was bestowed upon her. As the massive crowd applauded the completion of this religious rite of passage, the blinding white light return and whisked the adventurers away from the church.

Help those in need through masked intent
To save the flock from their lament

The light faded and revealed the new scene. The five adventurers were now standing in the foyer of a large home and could hear talking and excited commotion coming from behind the nearest door. Osborne pressed his ear to the door and overheard conversations about someone being late and other inane banter. Ye’Kan turned to Linny, who still looked bleak and worried, to ask what was happening now that it was clear they were in her past. Linny tried to join Osborne at the door to perceive what exactly was going on, but before she could the group heard a booming voice yell out “friends!” and turned to see Armstrong standing behind them. The hulking half-orc picked up Gaius and Medivh in each arm and embraced them, saying that they must be here for the mission. Linny agreed and opened the door as the group shuffled into a room of about 20 people of varying races dressed in adventuring gear.

From the center of the room an arrogant voice scoffed “finally” and they saw the speaker was a cocky-looking gnome standing on top of a table. This gnome introduced himself as Gaston and announced that it was time to begin now that everyone had arrived. Gaston explained that they were on their way to the neighboring town of Nihildeus, which had recently been devastated by a storm, to help rebuild and simultaneously spread the gospel of Pelor. Amongst the crowd the party spotted another version of Linny, now an adult but still young, and noticed that Gaston kept smiling and winking at her during his speech. Young Linny seemed unaffected by these gestures, and Current Linny was outright angered by them. When he was finished speaking, the group turned to Current Linny and asked what the situation was. She responded that Gaston was not to be trusted, as he lied and stepped on people to get what he wanted. Gaius assured her that they would protect her and Ye’Kan pointed out that since this was some kind of dream like last time, they just had to go along with the ride and remember that what they were experiencing wasn’t real. Linny told them that this mission was nothing they couldn’t handle, and that since they were going to Nihildeus that they were about to meet her husband.

After a short journey on horseback, in which other members of the caravan fawned over Gaston but Young Linny continued to seem uninterested, they arrived in the now-rundown town of Nihildeus. Gaston announced that half of the team would be responsible for setting up a base camp in town from which to operate, and the other half would be going door-to-door offering help and religious pamphlets. Current Linny said she was in no shape to help in town, so she went off with the camp group while the four boys were quickly assigned door-to-door duties with none other than Young Linny. This younger version of their companion was instantly happier and bubblier once they left camp and she was out of Gaston’s gaze. She explained that they were to bring food to each home and ask if they could help with any repairs, and then somewhat unenthusiastically added that they were also to give out the Pelor pamphlets when they were finished.

Ye’Kan went first with Young Linny and met an elderly couple who needed repairs around their home and their corral outside, and though they were grateful they had to be convinced to take the religious reading material. Medivh went next and met a sultry woman who claimed the mirror in her bedroom had broken, and when he went in to fix it he found satanic books on her shelf. When he tried to grab one to investigate, a pile of clothes fell off the top shelf and covered the blind wizard in the woman’s undergarments. Gaius was next to go, and when he knocked the door of the home was opened by a young gnome man whose smile instantly swept Young Linny off her feet. The gnome introduced himself as Jeros Bartlebee Bumblebey and said this was his mother’s home he was visiting to take care of her. They made tea for the missionaries and Gaius fixed their roof, all while Young Linny and Jeros were undeniably infatuated with one another. Osborne was the last of the group to go, and he found a home completely collapsed in rubble with weak whimpering coming from inside. He and Young Linny rushed in and found two human children crying over the bodies of their injured parents. With their final breaths the parents asked the adventurers to take care of their kids, and then died.

With the children in tow, the group returned to the base camp and found Gaston telling stories of previous missions and bragging about his own greatness. They told him what had happened and he quickly passed the children off to another woman in the camp. They regrouped with their own Current Linny, who was helping prepare dinner and still looked shaken and weary. As the rest of the campers started splitting off to go to sleep, Current Linny looked at her friends and simply said “be ready.” A few seconds later they heard a scream come from the nearby forest, and heeding Linny’s warning ran off toward the noise and eventually found Jeros the gnome cornered by a large chimera. They sprang into action and defended the gnome, attacking each of the beast’s three heads while Young Linny grabbed Jeros and led him away from the danger zone. The dragon head dealt a significant amount of damage to the party but the monster was eventually brought down with a final blow from Gaius. Jeros told the group he was out in the woods trying to find Young Linny to see her again, and the young gnomes shared a kiss. Just then Gaston rushed in with his sword, far too late to do anything, and as the bright light started to envelop the party again they could see jealousy and anger all over his arrogant face as the scene faded to white.

Decisions made in heat and flame
Will break the bonds that come with names

When the light dissipated the group found themselves outside of a house with arguing coming from inside. They looked into a window and saw Young Linny in a heated debate with her mother, who was yelling that her daughter couldn’t leave the family and the church to marry “that heathen.” Her father was also there trying to be partial, but it was clear what was happening — Young Linny was leaving to marry Jeros, a man of whom her parents did not approve. The young gnome yelled that she had already made up her mind and then tossed her holy symbol necklace and her copy of the holy scripture down at her mother’s feet. She told her parents not to follow her and that they’d never see her again, but her mother scoffed and retorted that she’d come crawling back someday. As Young Linny stormed out of the room, the five adventurers experienced the white light again and were quickly swept away from the tense moment.

Through love those hurt will laugh again
And find new life and start to mend

Their new surroundings were revealed to be the backyard of a nice cottage in a new city, except something felt off for each member of the group. They looked down and discovered that they were in the bodies of young children, and each felt a strange driving emotion: Gaius was very tired and hungry, Osborne was extremely jealous of the other children’s possessions, Ye’Kan had to pee very badly, and Medivh had an overwhelming desire to put everything into his mouth. The decorations on the cottage told them that it was a Candlenights celebration, and also in the backyard they could see Young Linny, her now husband Jeros, and their three children Kasdan, Edric, and Emmaline. Inspired by their new childlike identities, the group played games with the other children in the yard until it was time to go inside and receive presents. They opened their gifts in an excited fury—highlights included a hoverbroom for Medivh, a Grunwyn teenbeat heart poster for Gaius, a Princess Penelope doll for Osborne, and a troublesome fingertrap for Ye’Kan—all while Young Linny and Jeros watched with smiles on their faces, clearly still head over heels in love. As the Candlenights celebration began to wind down, the white light returned and the party heard the final couplet from the celestial woman’s poem.

Happiness is not without its faults
But where one hope sails another calls

They came to and realized they were in the same backyard they had just been in, now back in their normal bodies and hidden underneath the hanging branches of a willow tree. Young Linny emerged from the house, looking almost exactly the same as the previous scene, and began walking toward town humming a tune to herself. Current Linny immediately broke down crying and explained through her sobs that this was the morning that she lost everything — she had gone to the market to prepare a feast for her oldest son’s birthday and wasn’t there to protect her family. Before the other adventurers could ask what she meant, they heard loud banging coming from the front door of the cottage. Jeros could be heard asking who it was, but the banging only grew louder and more aggressive. Frozen where they were standing, the party watched as Linny’s two sons suddenly emerged from the house holding a large basket. They ran to the river just beyond the willow tree and put the basket down just as the door of the house was broken open and sounds of a struggle began. The boys picked up their wooden toy swords and ran back towards the house to help their dad while Current Linny continued sobbing under the tree branches.

The boys managed to distract the attacker for just a moment, and through the window the party saw Jeros strike the large figure’s hand and send two non-human fingers flying out the window. The figure shouted in anger and quickly struck back at Jeros and the boys, killing them where they stood and then shuffling back out the front door. While the group watched on in horror, they began to hear cries coming from the basket that had been left outside. Now able to move, they picked it up and discovered that it was Linny’s baby daughter Emmaline, whom Linny had never found the day her family was killed. Realizing for the first time that her daughter actually survived the ordeal, Linny wept and placed the basket on a small raft in the water. She swore to the baby girl that she would find her again and then pushed the basket down the river, away from the carnage that had just occurred and towards the hope of a new life. As Emmaline was carried away by the current, the white light returned one last time and returned the party to their beds in Castaway Cove.

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ACT II, EPISODE 3 - SHADOWED

Having been granted temporary freedom by Beatrix so they could acquire the head of the giant, the party moved deeper into the mountain caverns. Their first encounter was with a chained-up, badly mistreated dog who snarled at their approach but was calmed by Linny’s animal handling ability. While the gnome bonded with the dog, Osborne heard three rowdy voices coming from the next room. He and Ye’Kan entered with Gaius in tow to find three drunk guards gambling over a game of knucklebones. Under the guise of being new to Beatrix’s crew, the rogue and the bard joined the game with their loaded dice in hand while Gaius partook in some wine that he found less than adequate and judgmentally snacked on an incredibly long baguette. After a few rounds, the guards passed out in a drunken stupor and the group rounded up the remaining gold in the room. Moving forward, they spied a single sentry guarding a large room below them. Unsure of whether or not they should continue attacking guards now that they were on an errand for Beatrix, they sent Gaius out to approach the sentry casually. When the guard drew his weapon, Ye’Kan knocked him off his perch and down to the depths below.

The group saw that the large room ahead was occupied by six guards, three prisoners in cages, and two dogs in the center being forced to fight each other. No longer hesitant about using force, they charged in for a surprise attack and killed the guards, with Gaius claiming he sent the final one flying through a giant chain length with his killing blow but with no witnesses to confirm. The fighting dogs ran away and Linny hurried to open the cages for the prisoners and provide them with food. The most talkative of the trio identified himself as Barnes and said they had come to the cave to negotiate a peace treaty with Beatrix. He said he was a member of the Kingsguard from the Forgotten Keep, a group who was just returning to the area after a long exile following the death of their king. Barnes also knew that the ivory tower the party had visited the day before had once been occupied by an old wizard, but that he fell to ruin long ago. He agreed to receive the adventurers peacefully at the Forgotten Keep if they decided to visit in the future, since Trevor Belmont had mentioned it as a place of interest and it also appeared in Leon Belmont’s journal, and the prisoners were allowed to leave.

In the corner of this room was the bottom of a humongous chain that traveled upwards and out of sight somewhere higher in the cavern. With nowhere else to go, the group decided to ascend it and see where it led. Linny secured her fox using an improvised baby bjorn and began climbing with the aid of her grappling hook while the boys attempted to scale the chain manually. She and Gaius made it to the top without much difficulty, but the usually dexterous Osborne and Ye’Kan slipped and fell back to the bottom over and over and over and over again, each taking turns insulting each other as they went. At the top Linny peered into the room that awaited them and was surprised to see a large giant sitting and tinkering with something at a desk. When the entire gang finally regrouped at the top of the chain, they formed a plan — Leon’s journal mentioned meeting this giant and that the giant could be easily tricked, so rather than engage him what would surely be a difficult battle, they decided to try to befriend him.

Linny and Ye’Kan entered the giant’s chambers while Gaius and Osborne stayed back so the party wouldn’t seem as imposing. The giant was initially on alert at the rare site of visitors, but became pleasant at the mention of Leon, whom he said was his friend. Introducing himself as Logarth, the giant said Leon had visited and left him a drawing of a candle flame being extinguished, but did not know where he had gone after. Linny and Ye’Kan informed the giant of Beatrix’s plan to kill him and asked if he would help them fight her instead to rid the cave of her treacherous ways. Logarth agreed but only if they could beat him at his favorite high-or-low dice game, and to raise the stakes he bet his shiniest shield versus Linny’s talking sword that they had recovered earlier in the cavern. The two adventurers managed to win the contest, while all the while Gaius and Osborne waited and enjoyed pieces of the ridiculously long baguette and espresso from the young paladin’s portable french press. Logarth agreed to give them his shield and his services, and even threw in the drawing from Leon (which seemed like a missing journal page) when Linny agreed to give him the talking sword as a new companion anyway. The giant loaded the party up onto his back and descended the chain for Beatrix’s chambers.

At the door, Gaius asked to go in alone so that he could taunt Beatrix just a little more before they took her on. Leaving the other three and the giant waiting outside, the paladin kicked the door and strolled in to confront the arrogant ruler. Pretending that they did indeed have the giant’s head, Gaius demanded any more information Beatrix might have about the missing Almamoon children before handing over her prize. She reiterated that she was not interested in the children whatsoever, but that the Miasma Marshlands would be a good place to investigate. After trading a few more barbs, Gaius called for his allies to storm the room. Logarth instantly killed three guards just by entering and the battle was underway. Gaius, Osborne, and Ye’Kan engaged Beatrix and two guards in close quarters combat, with the bard twice grabbing her by the arm to bestow a curse upon her and twice awkwardly failing. She proved to be a worthy adversary but was finally brought down in an epic slow-motion sequence in which each of the three boys got in an opportunity attack, with Osborne delivering the final killing blow. Little Linny and leviathan Logarth handled the remaining guards as the most disparate tag-team of all time, and the villains were defeated. Having cleared the cave and figured out that it had nothing to do with the missing children, the party thanked Logarth for his help and headed out for their next destination.

They agreed to investigate the Miasma Marshlands next based on its appearance in Leon’s journal and Beatrix’s suggestion, and they decided to go straight there without returning to Almamoon or consulting with Trevor Belmont. Before they could leave the Mountains of Yule, however, the two grimlocks Deetry and Dumock that they had met previously in Almamoon reappeared at the cave exit and once again demanded they hand over the journal. In a repeat performance of their first meeting, Osborne quickly struck Deetry before the henchmen could do anything, dealing enough damage to make the pair reconsider the battle and teleport away after vowing they would meet again. As the grimlocks disappeared, the party saw another figure up ahead slowly floating toward them. Seemingly made of shadows, this figure approached and seemed to hold the group in their places as it spoke to them in a frightening raspy whisper. It asked why the adventurers trusted each other despite not truly knowing anything about each other, and finished off by saying “do you even know why you are here” before vanishing out of their sight. Thoroughly spooked and confused, the group left the mountains and headed for the marshlands with the shadowy figure’s words lingering in their minds.

The Miasma Marshlands were covered in mist and gave the group an uneasy chill. After walking for a bit they came to a small cottage with the lights on and smoke pouring from the chimney. They knocked and were let inside by a fragile old woman who introduced herself as Camilla, who was mentioned in Leon’s journal but as a monstrous hag who feeds on children. The walls of the cottage were lined with shelves upon shelves of books, which Leon had apparently come to study at some point before he went missing. Camilla told the party that she knew nothing of any missing children, but Linny sensed that she was lying and also that her home may not necessarily be real. The old woman offered soup to Ye’Kan, but still feeling a general sense of uneasiness, the bard “accidentally” dropped the cup onto the floor before he could eat it. Annoyed by this clumsy move, Camilla grew even more agitated at the mention of Leon’s name and abruptly told the party to leave. Before she could throw them out, Linny cast Zone of Truth and things rapidly took a turn.

The facade of the old woman quickly melted away as she transformed into a big gangling hag, and this new form started cackling and revealed that the soup was made from children. No longer able to lie, Camilla told the party that she was occasionally brought missing children to feed on by a man with long hair, while some of the other children were taken to the ivory tower. Gaius threatened to start burning her books if she did not start complying, and as he moved toward them a single page fell off a shelf which the hag quickly grabbed and magically made disappear. She said that the page was of great importance to the party’s quest for the missing children, but she would not give it to them unless they completed a task for her — a similar deal she had made with Leon, she claimed, in which he traded something of great value in exchange for knowledge of a powerful spell to protect his mind. Camilla would only bring the page back into existence for the party if they traveled to a distant island and retrieved the tail of a polar bear, which she needed to complete a spell. She told them to go to Castaway Cove to secure a means of transportation, and to hurry back before anything else bad happened. Troubled by this turn of events, the group begrudgingly set out for the port town to fulfill the hag’s request.

Upon arriving in the small shanty town of Castaway Cove, Ye’Kan decided to use his history as a sailor and pirate to find a connection that could help them get to the island in question. They entered a tavern called Cat’s Cradle and the bard scanned the room for seamen who fit the bill while Gaius, Linny, and Osborne went to the bar for a drink after their long journey. Sitting in a dark corner of the bar was a hardened but knowledgeable looking man wearing a hood and smoking a pipe. Ye’Kan approached and salty seaman talk ensued, in which he divulged bits of his history serving under the famous pirate Captain Soze and showed off his tattoo to prove it. The man, who introduced himself as Vincent Dorrin, paid attention but wasn’t overly impressed by the pirate’s tale. When the topic turned to the purpose of their journey, Vincent became gravely concerned — he knew of Camilla because she had abducted his 7-year-old sister, and he was hunting for a polar bear tail as well to make a potion that could kill the hag. Now joined by his fellow adventurers, Ye’Kan and the group offered to help Vincent if he was willing to take them to the island on his flying ship, the Icarus Two. The captain agreed at the price of 50 gold pieces each and told the party to rest up for the evening as their ship would be leaving at dawn.

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