6th Day of Fall, P.A. 698
Spelunking deeper into the old tomb on the banks of the Thisa River, our heroes heard the call of a halfling further into the darkness.
Thoroughly exploring their options, the group ventured into the side passage where Roth made the mistake of stepping into an open portion of ground. The broad flagstones beneath his feet gave way and fell into a 20 ft. deep pit. He was spared any wounds from falling by the giant spider’s web suspended beneath the crumbled floor.
The party attacked the spider in retaliation after it sank its fangs into Roth’s shoulder. In the barrage of attacks, Ivan let lose a sling bullet. He miscalculated the shot but adjusted the stone’s flight with a strange purple magic. Something about his magic trick sparked an intense fear in his mind. His face went pale and he let out a fearful yelp as he turned around and ran back to the main antechamber of the tomb.
Inara helped Roth — and the thick spider fangs embedded in his shoulder — out of the hole. Pushing onward, the group discovered some old decaying wooden lockers in the small room beyond. Jheran deftly opened the old locks to reveal a small trove of trinkets and loose coins. The Brave Stalwart Heroes™ gladly pocketed all of it.
Returning to the main chamber, they found a table inscribed with Elven script, an odd thing in this part of the world. It read:
“Four honest folks sat down to play.
They played all night ’til break of day.
They played for gold and not for fun,
With separate scores for everyone.
When it came time to square accounts,
All four had made quite fair amounts.
Can one of you explain away,
If no one lost, what did they play?"
After much puzzling, Sorra remembered that she’d heard this riddle spoken once by bards.
Music! Of course it’s music!
The pedestals surrounding the table lit up with magic at the mention of music, and the sleeping giant centipedes woke and attacked. A few squashed bugs later, and the group addressed the magically lit inscriptions on the walls that read “F-A-C-E”.
Jheran tried the strange whistle they found earlier. It turned out to be the key. The right pitches at the right time was the correct way to open the path forward.
Pressing onward, they found a sarcophagus at the end of the tomb where a pair of statues flanked the walkway. There was some hesitation about the statues, but they turned out to be harmless. After opening the sarcophagus, the party found a tunnel dug through the floor and into a large cavern space where thousands of rats made their homes.
A madman dressed in tattered rags and adorned with strange ceremonial objects lit a fire at the far end of the cave. A young dwarven boy lay on the ground holding his stomach in pain, and a halfling boy stood nearby, a blank expression on his face.
Anno confirmed that the halfling boy was his son, Taran. A fight ensued, and the heroes valiantly slew several giant rats. During the fight, the poor dwarven boy turned into a giant rat and attacked Jheran. The monk ended the boy’s misery with a sai to the throat.
Ivan’s random magical fluctuations reared their head again in a stunning show of force. He vaporized three rats and brought the ragged man with the pipes to his knees in a single burst of blindingly powerful lightning. One more chromatic orb sealed the man’s fate, pinning him to the cavern wall in a hail of thorns.
He expired after saying “I was only trying to protect them”.
The rats’ fury subsided as battle ended. Anno checked on his son, who was still dazed and confused by the enchantment clouding his mind.
A hideous laugh echoed through the chamber.
It was the dead man pinned to the wall. His head snapped to attention as he began to peel off of the cavern wall, pulling Ivan’s thorns completely through his limbs. With a mad look in his eyes he began to morph, hunching his posture as his bones cracked and changed shape. His face pulled out into a rat-like muzzle, his hands grew vicious claws, and his feet sprang through his worn boots into paw-like pads. A wormy rat’s tail sprang from his back. Powerful muscles bulged through the man’s ragged clothing, filling out with a sickly grey fur.
The rat-man swatted Taran aside and mortally wounded Anno in a single swipe, then charged forward with his gaze set on his would-be killer, Ivan.
Roth’s normally deadly glaive seemed to bounce off of the wererat’s skin, revealing its resistance to mundane weapons. One of Kyleel’s arrows clattered at the monster’s feat, reinforcing this discovery.
Sorra landed a magic missile, which definitely wounded the wererat. Unfortunately, it also infuriated him. His gaze shifted from one spellcaster to another, zeroing in on the poor Baldosian noble. One flurry of claws later and Sorra was down.
The party realized that magic was the way to defeat him, so they quickly began using the magical weapons found in the cavern. Kyleel infused her arrows with any magic energy she could muster, and Jheran used the enchanted dagger from Sorra’s belt.
Ivan, sure that he could defeat this man twice with the same tactic, attempted to end it with another Chromatic Orb. Unfortunately, his chaotic magic backfired this time, filling his mouth with strange foaming purple bubbles and fizzling his spell.
The blind fury of the wererat filled the gnome’s vision. Fortunately, the monster collapsed at his feet, a trail of intestines reaching back several feet to the dagger clutched in Jheran’s hands.
Inara healed Anna with her druidic magic, bringing him back from the brink of death. In thanks for saving his son, Anno gifted the party with a magical ring of undisclosed power.
After regrouping in town, Inara unceremoniously informed the mayor that his only son was dead at the rat-man’s hands.
Anno offered to travel with him westward towards his caravan.
However, the group decided to investigate a lead that suggested Sorra’s teacher’s whereabouts. Al-a Ka’zam had left a note for her with a map of the Thisa River that was ornamented with a doodle of a willow tree and a doodle of a house on the river.
Ivan, who had extensive practice with making and deciphering maps, managed to figure out exactly where to go.
The party arrived at a large natural island that jutted up out of the mile wide river. The island was at the same elevation as the rest of the dry land, several hundred feet above the fast moving water. The large island was overgrown with vegetation. The thick trees near the edges of the island had grown roots that reached across the chasm above the water and connected with the mainland towards Hamelin.
The party navigated their way across the thick and sturdy roots suspended in the air and onto the island. Amidst the grove of trees they found a quaint, overgrown cottage. Ivan sent his familiar Grugg on ahead. He reported seeing a cozy scene of a fully furnished room inside the cottage.
When the party opened the door, they were surprised to see that the interior of the cottage was long abandoned and overgrown. Dust covered all of the furniture, most of which was rotten. Vines grew up the walls and into every crack in the ceiling. The fireplace was still lit somehow. On one side of the room was a nightstand, strangely untouched by the nature that was claiming the rest of the house. A lizard-like creature the size of a large dog in the center of the room woke from its nap and lazily looked towards the invaders.
On the nightstand was a single stone chess piece.
Then a tree sprang to life outside and attacked the whole group. The party was set upon by two smaller lizard creatures outside with shimmering butterfly wings.
Perhaps unwisely, the group split their attentions. Sorra and Ivan took the lizard in the cottage, Kyleel and Roth struggled with the animated tree, while Inara and Jheran tried to attack the smaller flying creatures outside.
Jheran was blinded and stunned by the coordinated efforts of the tiny creatures outside, which darted in and out of reach and out of sight using strange illusory magic.
Roth delivered a massive attack on the tree that would have lopped limbs off of a normal tree. Kyleel’s bow was ineffective, but her newly acquired magical rapier was perfectly capable.
The basilisk indoors tried to petrify Ivan with its gaze, but was unable to get a grip on his eyes. Ivan was forced to resort to his sling after filling his mouth with foaming purple bubbles again.
Once Kyleel somehow stabbed a tree to death, the party was able to concentrate on the remaining threats, vanquishing the basilisk and flying lizard creatures.
In the lull that followed, Sorra grabbed the lonely chess piece on the nightstand. A magical ghostly image of her mentor appeared next to her.
“Sorra. The cabal is after me. You must run. Now.”