Friday, March 27, 2020

Seaward: Massive Update

  The players decided to do a focused scout inside Skull Mountain so set off through the Briars with a party heavy on thieves and light on fighters (although the ranger Starfalcon was there).
  After a long slog up the Old Road slowed down by massive Spring rains and high winds the party reached the Plateau just in time to see a group of human-shaped figures go down what they call the Hunter's Trail on the south slope. Some very careful scouting by familiars revealed a camp about 1 mile down filled with a hobgoblin warband of about 60.

  DM's Note: In days gone by the true threat in Seaward were the Hobgoblins of the Briars, but the PCs Orion, Jacobi, Grimace, Stella, and Edhelcu wiped them out in a huge  adventure arc in 1987-1989.
  The party also noted that the hidden chimney on the southwest edge of the Plateau had a tarp tied over it.

  Hoping to deal with the threat the party headed downslope and shortly slammed right into 12 hobgoblins - 5 infantry with wall shields and spears, 5 longbowmen, and 2 bosses. Turned out all were bodyguard class and the party was facing a really stiff fight! But when another group of 12 approached from the rear the party was prepared, expecting classic hob tactics. 
  The invisible sub-chief ambushing the cleric was a surprise, but they recovered quickly.

  After a surprisingly long battle the party prevailed and the last few hobs fled and the sub-chief was captured. The sub-chief spoke very freely once the cleric promised him release with his information and parole.
  The subchief explained that the Mad Mage of the south [another one of Baron Samedi's main servants] was furious about the destruction of the hob army that had besieged the verbeeg under Skull Mountain, especially since they lost the only slime lantern they had, blocking off the mountain.Desperate for the wealth and power of the Mountain he had ordered the largest surviving warband to take the (rather dangerous) Hunter's Trail to the top and establish a domain inside the mountain.
  Taking his magic items, but allowing him weapons for the trip he was released.

  The party found the entrance cave empty and the top levels undisturbed. Seeker used his personal maps to find the entrances to the ventilation shafts and finally, after 7 years real time, scouted them until he found a sheer drop. He tossed down a wooden ball with Continual Light and returned with a map of the upper ventilation.
  On level two they had to fight a band of smoke mephits (the various elemental portals make them a constant threat) but found the altar still thrown down. The various hidden areas were also the same. The party lamented that Francmer was gone, meaning there were no cookies.
  On level three they were immediately attacked by green slime! Luckily the cleric was able to Cure Disease before it dissolved the scout (a close thing, made it by a single segment!). Using spells Seeker was able to determine that there were small 2" pipes connecting the landing on level three to the Slime Level and, almost certainly, other places, too.
  The garden was in bloom (as always) and after the death of the lynx the rabbits were happy and fat. The doors tot he Slime Level were still sealed. The door to the Goblin Kitchen had been shattered inward (they assume it was the monk) but their food and gear was untouched. The thief noted a strange glow coming from the goblin cistern, so Seeker's new Woman-at-Arms henchman, a selkie, dove in to explore and found... Seeker's Continual Light object in the secret pool on the other side of the wall! Above a shaft went off to the East....
  She returned and the players marveled that there was yet another area off level three.
  The Cavern of Herds was flourishing! With the destruction of the yellow musk creepers, the death of the goblins and the troglodytes, and the destruction of the jermlaine the grasslands were spreading, the rothe were increasing, and a population of rabbits, squirrels, and more had crept in through the thorns Llewllyn the Black had put over the Egress. The party met with the snyads, who had finished looting the jermlaine tunnels. The snyads (able to slip through the thorns) had made contact with one of the brownie families the party had encouraged to move to the Briars.
  DM's Note: This was 'off table' where Owen and Clint (who have brownie familiars) and Brigid (who is a 'brownie friend' because she's from Eiru) spoke to some of the brownies that had fled from Lord Whitehill and the cultists and urged them to move to the Briars. Llewellyn the Black's powerful good druidic spells that sealed the egress drew one of these families to the area, which they had learned of from Mortimer, Owen's familiar.
  The snyads were in the early stages of setting up trade with the brownies and had already hosted a small party to welcome the brownies to the mountain area.

  The party spoke to the chipmunks living in the Cavern (gnome in the party) and learned that a man came out of the lake from time to time. Seeker was mightily pleased since he planned to scout the lake in the Cavern of Herds using his new henchman and his Ring of Water Breathing.
  The party knew the lake was very deep, but were surprised that it was 150' deep! Seeker and his henchmen scouted around grateful that the fish the party introduced 2 years before had cleared out a lot of the weeds. At one edge of the lake the party found a smal stone bench, and a shrine to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

 Nearby was a carving on the wall of the lake, an arch  with ancient runes that had a dull grey quartz stone on the left and right. The center was blank. It was the size of a large door. The runes indicated it was associated with the full moons, so the party decided to wait 3 days for the next full moon.

  Going back to level one they camped in the 'secure area' [heh].
  The next day they went to the chimney to find the tarp had been removed. There were tracks, but the ranger insisted the tracks appeared 3' from the chimney, showed someone removing the tarp, then disappeared 4' away from the chimney. The tracks looked elven, but small and 'too light, like a starvling'.
  Starfalcon ripped the top grate out of the crumbling, ancient chimney (trollish strength) and Seeker descended, alone and Invisible. After two different rain breaks he emerged into a large, artificial cavern about 700' across and domed about 90' high. The ceiling was painted like the sky and there were a few Continual Light objects on poles lighting a small village of about 150 people. They were all rather small elves , each with feathered wings.
  Condensing a LOT of scouting and roleplaying, Seeker eventually met with them and spoke with their chief and shaman without hostilities.
  Seeker eventually realized he had truly found a hidden tribe of the elfaron, or 'sky-elves', which even many elves thought to be a fanciful myth. They explained that, always shy and prone to hiding in the wildest, most remote areas, the coming of St. Thorn and the conversion of the Elves to the Church had driven them away from even their cousin elves. Dwindling in numbers over the centuries, this band had been considering flying off to join another tribe to bolster their numbers.
  They told Seeker of the tunnels they had sealed in ancient times, the tunnel they used to get to and from a landing area shielded by magic, and the tunnel to what they called The Garden.
  The two tunnels used by the elfaron were very large because, they explained, they tended to panic in any area so small they cannot fully spread their wings. The perch was cloaked by a form of Hallucinatory Terrain and the party had seen it from afar often.
  The Garden turned out to be a close relative of the Cavern of Herds. The elfaron area was heavily walled in to protect them from 'the screaming ones' and the occasional orc band. Those threats came from the other tunnels (the elfaron knew of at least three) leading East or South.
  Seeker learned that the elfaron knew of the Company from others, so they trusted him to leave them in peace.

  Seeker returned to the party and, going through their notes, they realized they had spotted the elfaron flying at least 3 times, almost always at night. They clumisly repaired the chimney, vowing to bring a mason, and went to bed.

  The next day the party went to the Observation Area and found that hippogriffs were nesting in the spelljammer dock the hard way! After a fight they were able to kill mom and dad and collected 2 hippogriff eggs. They scouted down the only trail on Skull Mountain still unexplored and found a hidden path to reach near the Egress on foot, although the trail was too narrow for any cart.

  They finally reached the day of the full moon, so they returned to the Cavern of Herds and the lake. Seeker and his selkie pal dove in to see the carving. Now the left stone was blue and the right pink and the center area looked like a heat shimmer. While the shimmering yielded nothing could pass through. Seeker tied a rope around his waist, gave one end to his henchman, pushed the blue stone (changing the shimmer to blue) and swam through...
 ...into a small pond. Swimming to the surface he was in the garden behind a modest house. Nearby were the ruins of an ancient tower.  On a nearby bench was an old man reading a book and smoking a pipe. As Seeker left the pond the old man smiled and said,
  "You've come from Skull Mountain!"

  Seeker brought through his henchman and all three spoke. The old man, Junkas, was a selkie and a sage who lived 3 hours from Robias by horse. The ruins were what was left of the estate of a long-dead wizard. Junkas had found the portal, deduced its workings, and eventually realized where it had to lead. He said all people of good will were welcome to visit him, and to be careful when he used the other setting.
  The portal in Junkas' pool had only a green stone, so it led only to the lake.
  Seeker and his pal graciously thanked Junkas and returned to the pool, then the lake, then Seeker pushed the pink stone and went through.

  Seeker was in a vast freshwater sea, the protal on a pillar of rock sticking up from frigid, stygian depths. Dull, still, cold, and essentially lifeless he had trouble with breath even with the Ring. He swam to the surface, but immediately ducked to 'get a breath' because the air was so thin he couldn't breathe well. 
  resurfacing he saw the closest shore, about a mile away, had the ruins of an ancient city surrounded by an arid, lifeless stretch of hills. Looking up, above him was the world.
  He was on Phoebe, the smallest moon.

  He quickly returned to the lake, then the Cavern of Herds.

  Thus ends the report.

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