Canyon Fodder

Theodoric Bandersnatch's journal
Feb 28th 2016 Game, part 1

Note: Theodoric is an unreliable narrator.
Theodoric (Teddy) Bandersnatch
It was still both inspiring and overwhelming to be in the presence of Ba’ur this morning. This morning! More has happened in the past hours than has happened in many months prior. Townsfolk set about making certain that we were well-equipped for our journey, as well-equipped as one can be for a journey that may lead us to The Abyss. Foodstuffs and climbing gear, words of luck and words of warning. Friends who tried to make this “so long” when we all know that it may be a final goodbye. But seeing Her stand there, solid, a foundation holding the gates closed after letting us through let me put aside fear of what may harm us, and gave me inspiration that we may yet find the artifact and return, if not unscathed, then at least alive. With Courage and Stoicism we will take on this task for her, and for our fellows. Though I must say having a pack stuffed with wonderful smoked meats and bread helps as well.

I was concerned that our Tiefling friend may have abandoned us. I know that others are generally suspicious, but I was looking forward to working alongside her, and learning more about her kind. Not that she was very inviting of any kind of inquisitiveness on my part or the part of others. As it turns out, the Goddess Ba’ur had a different plan for her, and she may come to our aid yet. Imagine! A soul trapped in a stone. I wonder if such a thing would only be possible for a Tiefling, or if my soul is somehow different…?

My other companions have turned out to be such adventurers! Our cleric, the leader (in my mind) of our group who talked to the Goddess herself before we journeyed in, is selfless in not only helping us survive by his healing prowess, but in thrusting himself into the middle of the fighting. I have not yet gleaned an understanding of Henri, a ranger who seems extraordinarily adept with a bow, and no slouch with a sword. He is cautious and willing to talk rather than fight, but it is clear he is no stranger to fighting. Our new addition, the monk, is more aggressive than I am used to, but his skills in the fighting no doubt saved us. I am sure to learn much from him, and he is already working with Henri well.

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Descent
A Monk's Perspective

Leaving my Sensei and my home of 15 years was harder that I expected – though I will never admit that to anyone. The fact that Sensei did not even try to talk me out of leaving still has me raging inside. All he said was that I should not waste my learning and to apply it for good. Bah. Despite my resistance, his words were going through my head when I saw the three adventurers by the massive gate surrounded by a crowd and a seemingly more massive god. Things always get complicated when the gods get involved. I would have preferred to see what the local fair had to offer in the way of cold beer, but I was compelled to offer my help.

The three were an odd lot. Somehow fate had cast them together – a story I would love to learn someday. Their ‘leader’ is a cleric. The browbeating he was receiving from the goddess towering before him almost made me feel sorry for him. Next was the elf, a ranger. Little did I know them how much I would be relying on his skills with a bow in the next 12 hours. Last was the halfling rogue – a hide in the shadows and stab them in the back type, I was sure. They accepted me into their party with surprising ease. Perhaps they were relieved to have a replacement for the Tiefling who has apparently skipped out on them. Considering where we were going it was probably the wisest move of the day!

Where were we going? The Abyss. For what? A ‘splinter’. This splinter has been stolen while the party was down in the canyon playing with children or something. I am still not sure of the story there. It holds the door closed to keep the bad things out. Why a stout iron bar would not do the trick I’ll probably never know. But, I was told to find service, and serve I will.

Things were quiet for a while until I spotted something fly above us in the canyon. I poked the elf and pointed up. Before I knew it a green fog was billowing around us obscuring our sight and blinding us to whatever foulness was about to descend. My esteem for the elf grew when he charged out of the fog with his bow at the ready. As expected the little thief ran the other way. I quickly emerged on the heels of the elf and saw that it was a group (flock?) of aarakocra. My bo and right elbow took care of the first fiend threatening the ranger and I turned to face another. I skip the details but in the end there were three dead bird-things with the feathers of arrow sticking out from the plumage lying before us. It was a group effort. Even the halfling played an important role.

The beasts were wearing clothing with a strange symbol on them. We took a scrap with the symbol on it for future reference. It will certainly be important later.

The canyon got narrower, darker, and much steeper as we worked our way down. We met an impasse when we reached a near sheer cliff with a 250 foot drop. A team effort came up with a plan to climb and rappel down when we executed flawlessly until the cleric, Bartholomew, put his foot in a Stirge nest. Before we knew it these things were buzzing around us try, and somewhat succeeding, to drain us of every drop of blood we possessed. We swatted them away one by one until the cleric cast some sort of nastiness that wiped out the annoying beasts. Remind me not to give him a reason to use that on me.

I was getting tired and hungry and we had taken a bit of a beating by this point so we rested and discussed our options. Going back was going to be tough now with the cliff behind us so forward it was. Besides, I do not think the goddess holding the door closed would be pleased if we returned empty handed.

It only got darker and frankly, creepier. When we reached a branch canyon – more like a crevice – with odd foot prints around it we decided to follow it. We soon came to an opening and something moved in front of us. The thief threw a glowing pebble into the space and before we knew is an ugly monstrosity which grew into something bigger and uglier dropped down in front of us. I’ll spare the details of the blood and gore but we dispatched the thing with little problem.

Turning a corner we saw light up ahead. The thief volunteer to scout ahead and off he went. Within a few minutes we here him talking to someone or thing. We creep up and there he is talking to these giant ant things like he is a diplomat or something. Why, I’ll never know, but we step out and join him. The herd us towards a columned, domed building and we decide to go along. In the building we found that their intentions certainly not friendly. There were bodies lying in a pile on one side with arms hanging from the column on the other. What the…?

Not wanting to stick around we slip out a door in the back and come across a treasure room of sorts. After 15 years of living off the land, some extra gold to line my pocket would be great! The halfling, Teddy, then picks up bow and all hell breaks loose. A suit of armor stands up on its own and approaches us with a sword crackling with lighting. Nastiness. My blows seems to have little effect. I even managed to break by bo on the thing. Bartholomew however had no such problem and bashed the thing to pieces with his hammer. The damn thing must have been magical. He’d live to regret that though when he spent the next hour bashing out the dents so he could wear the armor himself. I have to admit it made him look even more the warrior.

After a short rest we smelled smoke. It seems the ants were trying to smoke us out. The irony. Down a hallway we came to a window to a room full of decaying plants. As it was our only way out Teddy and I jumped in to run to the door not the other side. Ugh! Some sort of nasty mushroom like things was in there. Some agile movements later though we skip past them, through the door, and right into the ants. Cr*p.

There were too many to count. Soon there are arrows flying past my head from the ranger, Henri, piercing the ants’ carapace but there are just too many. The thief starts reading from a school he found in the measure room and I am blinded by a brilliant flash. When I regain my eyesight all I can see is burning bugs. Well done, rogue! There are some more ants but they do not seem to want to engage.

Let me wrap up this entry. It turns out the ants actually didn’t want to hurt us. It was a big misunderstanding. They are a bunch of archaeologists – go figure. They made a bit of a interpretational boo boo when they saw a human statue without arms and figured that was how all bipedal bi-armed created should be and felt they were doing their guests favors by tearing their arms off. I guess you do not have to be very smart to graduate from ant archeology school. We came to an understanding with the ants and they gave us shelter for the ‘night’.

I actually have no idea what time it is down here. Onward to the Abyss.

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Backstory: Henry acquires his bow
Henry vs the six Genasi

This is the story of how Henry acquires his Sniper’s Bow by taking it from the leader of a group of six Genasi of 2nd and 3rd level. This occurred when he was a third level Ranger (3/1 Ranger/Fighter), with 40 HP. His AC was 18.

Henry was ambling along, taking a long and circuitous route back to town. He had plenty of time, and wandering among the small trees and light undergrowth made him relaxed and comfortable. Going to town, with all the people hurrying from here to there, all so intent on the moment, was rarely an experience to look forward to. The town was composed mainly of humans, and they seemed to be born with the understanding that their lives were so short that they must use every moment to impose themselves on their surroundings, or they might pass without a history of them having been there.

At the moment he was walking perpendicular to a trail that lead from the canyon entrance down to the city. Being keenly aware of the creatures in the area, he quickly recognized that some new group had passed along this trail recently. He spent a moment to study the tracks, and decided that six humanoid creatures had passed through this area approximately an hour ago. They were not making any attempt to hide their tracks, breaking branches and leaving footprints in the soft sand. He began to follow them.

He would have no problem quickly overtaking them, as he was intimately familiar with this area, but he held back his pace and looked for opportunities to get a visual sighting of the party. Ahead of him the terrain was undulating, rising and falling in sharp points 50 meters or more at a time. There was a good vantage point just ahead. He considered whether he should hide himself from their view. He was quite certain that if he hid they would have a hard time seeing him. But he decided he would allow himself to be seen, so they would not think he was trying to sneak up on them.

He stood out in the open, gazing down the valley and the path ahead. He could see the six clearly now. Definitely human-like in their appearance, but possibly not human, he couldn’t tell at this range. They were dressed as travelers normally would be in this region, with armor and weapons. They carried themselves with considerable confidence, marching ahead with little concern for what might be lurking ahead. Either arrogance or stupidity – both were dangerous.

It wasn’t clear if they spotted him, but if they did they didn’t make any obvious sign or change their gait. He began following them again, staying on the path and moving at a pace that would overtake them slowly. After a few minutes they took a side path that headed up steeply to a long precipice. It had a clear and unobstructed view of the canyon, and you could see all the way to the city. Some people would go there to enjoy the sight, and eat a picnic lunch. It seemed a bit odd for this group, but perhaps they needed a rest.

He walked steadily up the path, making a point to scuff the ground and dislodge some rocks to make it obvious he was coming. He approached the top and slowed, taking time to look for signs of where they had gone. So far it appeared they were staying together, but he was alert in case one or more of them decided to split off and circle around to come up behind him. He caught sight of them, sitting near the cliff edge. If they were aggressive he would not be able to go the west, as that was the cliff edge. East was possible, but a more difficult route up a fairly steep incline. He would probably need to go out the way he came in, so he refreshed his memory of the terrain as he approached.

When he was 50 yards away he slowed and called out, “Hello there travelers” in the common tongue. There was a short pause and one responded “Hello to you. State your business.” A bit unfriendly, but he responded “I bid you welcome to Titan’s Fall. Are you journeying to the city?” One responded with a “Yeah”, and that was it. Hum, this wasn’t off to a good start. He called out, “May I approach?” There was a short pause, and one of them called out, “Sure. Knock yourself out.”

He walked forward slowly, weapons sheathed. When he was about 50 feet away, he stopped and sat down, facing them. He was trying hard to appear nonthreatening, even though they outnumbered him greatly. He said “What brings you to our fine city?” He noticed that each of them deferred to one of them, who must be their leader. The leader spoke out, saying “What are you? The local militia?” He paused for a moment, trying to judge their anger, and to consider his words carefully. “No, I’m not part of the militia. I’m just a local citizen, on my way to the town also. I’m just trying to be friendly here.” The group gave a little snicker, as if he has said something funny.

He decided that this wasn’t going well, and it was time for him to leave, while he could. He started to stand up, still moving at a slow, nonthreatening pace. Suddenly he sensed magic being used, and tried to pick up his pace to get into a defensive stance. But he was too late. He felt himself being lifted off the ground by an unknown force. He struggled against it, but there was nothing substantial to push against. His arms and legs flailed around for a bit before he concluded that it was helpless.

The leader – the one that cast the magic – approaches Henry. “So Elfy. Think you could get the jump on us?” he said in a breathy voice. As the leader approached Henry could see that he didn’t look quite like a human. Something was wrong about his skin color. Humans seemed to come in many different colors, but blue didn’t seem to be a common one. Henry racked his brain. What was this guy? There was something familiar about his appearance, but he couldn’t place it immediately. As a puff of wind struck him, he suddenly remembered humans that looked like this – a Genasi. From the wind-blown look of this one, probably an Air Genasi.

The others gathered around him, and he can see they all have strange skin colors and other facial features of Genasi. “Great,” he thinks, “somehow I have managed to stumble across a party of ill-manner Genasi. What luck.” They don’t all have blue skin – there are several with black skin and one with ash-gray skin who looks like the hike has overheated him. The leader spoke again, “Why is it you Elves are always messing with other people’s business? Always interfering. Never can just leave things be.” Henry assumed it was a rhetorical question and kept his mouth shut.

The group began to taunt him, shouting out silly insults about Elves. Henry would have found it quite ridiculous, if it hadn’t been so deadly. And then they started to pelt him objects. Rocks, mudballs, and some bolts of fire. Normally he would be able to dodge many of these, but suspended in air, his movement was quite limited.

The leader called out for them to stop, and said with a snicker, “Let’s see how well Elves fly, shall we?” There was a chorus of support from the crowd. A strong breeze hits Henry, and he can see the leader Genasi is controlling it. Slowly he begins to be pushed out over the cliff wall. The ground below him slides away, and he can see down to the bottom of the cliff, probably 200 feet down. His mind races, thinking of ways he might save himself. If he isn’t pushed too much further out, he might be able to break his fall somewhat off the cliff face. Maybe he could jam his bow into the rocks. The bow would break, but it would take some momentum away. But the wind continued to push him, and any thought of breaking his fall on the cliff’s edge tumbled away.

He’s not one to beg, but perhaps the time had come. “Please,” he called out. “I mean you no harm, and I have done nothing to you. Please do not do this to me.” All he gets in return is laughter. “Silly Elfy. When will you learn not to mess with the Genasi?” The Genasi leader turned to the others. “Say goodbye to Mr. Elfy.” They mockingly said goodbye and gave him a wave.

Suddenly the force that was holding him up disappears, and he began to fall. His prospects looked grim. He reached down to the end of his cloak and grabs what material he could and pulls his arms taut out as wide as the material would allow. His cloak chain immediately pulled painfully against his neck as the air filled the small pocket he had made. If it slowed him down any, it is not obvious. He can’t help but feel disappointed to go out like this, he thought as the ground rapidly approached.

He closed his eyes and tried to find peace with himself, but it was difficult when he expected a crushing pain at any moment. He felt a hit, but it’s not what he expected, and he realized that he was still breathing. Something grabbed him from behind and was now lifting him and pushing him forward. He opened his eyes and saw the ground still approaching quickly, but now he was also moving forward, slightly away from the cliff wall. He was being lifted hard from behind. Something was digging painfully into his ribs on both sides, and it was pulling hard against the falling momentum. He wondered if this was how the afterlife would start – by being painfully pulled out of this body.

It looked like he might just miss a rocky outcropping, if he could be pushed a little further. His legs struck hard and the pain almost overwhelms him, but then he was airborne again. He began to doubt this was the work of an angel.

The valley floor was still coming up at him at a high rate, but his horizontal speed was accelerating quickly as his vertical speed dropped. He became aware of the air being buffeted above him, and he sensed that he was being pulled upwards in pulses. Like a fast beating heart, he was being pulled upwards in bursts of energy. Still he rushed towards the ground. It almost seemed like he was going to be able to pull out in time, but it becomes clear that there is just not enough lift available. He heard a piercing, shrill scream from above him and moments later he was released, just as he was about to strike the ground.

He hit hard. He might have been able to roll into the fall if he had been able to move, but being dropped like that, all he could do was fall like a brick. And then blackness.

He awoke in great pain. Everywhere seemed to hurt. But he was alive. He instinctively tried to move, and was greeted with a new wave of pain. He slowly became aware of his surroundings. He was on his back, and his backpack was gone. His head was resting on something soft. There was movement around him. He saw a large figure bending over him, but he couldn’t quite recognize what it was. He heard a sudden burst of chirps and squeals, and at first it was just noise to him. But his brain was slowly recovering, and the sounds bounce around his head a few times, like the echo off a tall cliff, until gradually, the noises became words. “Sorry. I don’t know much about caring for an injured Elf.”

His eyes began to focus, and he could see a large bird standing over him. But not a bird, exactly, he realized. It was an Aarakocra. “You saved me,” he said, but it came out more as a croak. But the Aarakocra seemed to understand. “It seems it was not your day to die, Elf,” the Aarakocra chirped. “I just wish I was able to break your fall more completely. It was a hard landing,” it said. “You have been caring for me?” Henry asked. “Yes, as well as I could,” squawks the Aarakocra. “How long have I been out?” asks Henry. “Probably an hour or two, I would guess.” says the Aarakocra.

Henry attempted to assess his condition. He was badly hurt. His arms were full of deep cuts and scratches, and his legs were badly bruised from the first impact with the rocks. His head had a deep gash, and the blood was still flowing. His ribs hurt on both sides, an injury he then realized was due to the talons of the Aarakocra.

He summoned his focus and drew out a Second Wind. (3 on the die, +1 = 4 pts) His injuries immediately began to fade. The big wounds closed and become small wounds, and the bruises and scratches faded away. Quickly he began to feel much better. He stood and looked around for his gear. “You are recovering quite quickly,” says the Aarakocra. “Thanks to you,” Henry says. He turns and looks the Aarakocra in the eyes. “I owe you my life. You have my eternal gratitude.” The Aarakocra didn’t have a mouth, so it could not smile, but Hemry sensed that it was pleased. “My Common name is Henry. What can I call you, friend?” The Aarakocra responds, “Call me Ka, it is the closest you could come to my name with the sounds of this language.”

Henry used the short rest to summon healing from four hit dice (Rolls of 6, 8, 5, 8, plus con bonus of +2 per die, for 35 pts, plus the original 4, for 39 total). He looked around and located his backpack. He quickly went through his inventory. It looked like his body took most of the impact, as the items in the backpack were mostly intact. His bow was dented and scratched, but it looked functional. The scabbard for his rapier was gashed with a long tear down the side, but it appeared the rapier itself was undamaged.

“The Genasi – have you seen them?” Henry asked. “They have continued down the valley,” Ka says. Henry checked the position of the sun and says, “They probably have a two hour head start on me.” Ka didn’t respond immediately. His beady eyes simply stared at Henry. “You don’t mean to engage this group again, do you?” Henry responded, “It would be more effective if I could get ahead of them. Any chance you could give me another lift?” Ka simply stared at him again, and after a moment, makes a gasping, screeching sounds. Although he wasn’t certain, Henry guessed it was laughter. Ka said “You are brave, Elf man. Probably foolish too. Where do you want to go?” Henry said “Erevan Plateau. At least that’s what I know it as.” He went on to describe the physical layout. Ka said, “Alright Henry. I will take you there. But don’t ask me to help you with the fight. I do not want you to owe me two lives.” Henry laughed at that. “I would not ask you to fight, friend. You have done plenty already. And these Genasi have bows and magic, so best to stay far away.”

Ka told him to start running from a point about 50 feet from the edge of another drop off, and to leap into the air and plunge off the edge. Henry didn’t hesitate or question. If Ka wanted him dead, he wouldn’t have saved him the first time. He moved into position and gets a nod from Ka, who is further back. He took off running hard and leapt into the air at the cliff’s edge. He was just starting to fall when he felt Ka grab him again, luckily a little more gently this time, and they soared out over the valley. He could feel the same pulsing rhythm as before, which he then realized was the beating of Ka’s wings, but this time it was much more leisurely, and they spent some time just soaring on the air currents.

As they approached their destination, Ka told him that he would drop him as gently as possible, but that he cannot come to a complete stand still. Henry readied himself, and when released, he fell to the ground in a roll and came up undamaged. (modified 23 on acrobatics). He turned and waved to Ka, who continued to fly away.

Henry was on a small plateau overlooking a meadow, which gave him good visibility of areas to the north and west of him. The meadow was a good hundred feet across, and almost three hundred long, heading north. West of the meadow the land drops down again fairly steeply. To his east the terrain climbs at a rate that would make it passable, but a challenge to climb. It is a fairly steep drop of about 20 feet to the area level with the meadow. The plateau continues to the east for a bit before beginning to rise and meet the hill on that side of the meadow.

From this vantage point Henry could see across the wide, flat meadow. There are many different possible paths from the desert down to the city, and crossing this meadow would be a common one. The path was not used enough to be very well worn, but it was enough that most travelers were able to follow.

Between the meadow and the plateau where Henry currently stood was a gully. During the rainy months it would carry water – large amount of it at times – but now there was only a small trickle moving gradually towards the valley below. At most points the gully was fairly deep – 10 to 15 feet, and generally more than 20 feet across. The gulley followed the edge of the meadow along its south side, and heads up the hill to the east. The trail continues down from the meadow to the west of the gully, so travelers need not cross it, at least in this vicinity. Once the meadow ended the regular assortment of plants and small trees resumed, especially around the gully.

Henry immediately took his roll of silk rope off his backpack and feeds enough off the edge to be able to reach the bottom. He cut the rope and tied it off securely at the top. He ran around the area collecting thick branches, small logs, and several large rocks, which he piled at the plateau lookout. Using his shovel, he dug holes for several of the thick branches and placed the poles upright. He braced the poles with the rocks for additional support. He attached the remaining branches to the poles, leaving a 1 foot by 6 inch slit that he could see out into the meadow. His firing platform was complete.

He then moved on to his next project, a trap.

He worked diligently for several hours until he heard a loud bird cry. As he expected, Ka was keeping a watch on him from a distance, and he suspected this was a signal that his opponents were near. He raised his arm in acknowledgment. He would have liked more time to help camouflage his work, but he’ll just have to hope it was good enough.

He quickly finished up his work and returned to the plateau with his arrow slit firing platform. He can see the Genasi walking through the meadow. He studied them as he waited for them to amble into range. They were walking casually again, strolling along like they owned the world, apparently unconcerned with any potential threats. He saw them much closely when they were taunting and tormenting him, and now he had an idea of their specialties. Most were clearly fighters, but there was a wizard and a cleric in their midst. The wizard could be the most dangerous, but should also be the easiest to take out, so he would target him first.

He waited until they were at the edge of his regular range to let his first arrow fly. He had caught them by surprise. His arrow flew true, and impacted the unarmored wizard (rolled an 11). It was a good solid shot, and it staggers the wizard (7 on the die, +4 = 11 pts damage). Henry could target adjacent characters in a hoard with a second arrow, so he directed one at the cleric walking behind the wizard. His arrow struck the cleric (18 on the die), but hits for a more glancing blow (1 on the die, +4 = 5 pts of damage).

The Genasi were now aware they were under attack, although they might not have know exactly where from. Henry was able to act attack again before they could react (20 on the initiation die, versus 10 for them). He hit the wizard again (roll of 7, + 9 = 16, better than the unarmored wizard). Another solid shot (6 on the die, +4 = 10 pts damage), and the wizard dropped. He shot another arrow at the cleric but missed (3 on the die, +9 = 12, less than the cleric’s 15 AC).

Now the Genasi acted. The second level cleric cast Cure Wounds on himself, for little benefit (2 on the die, +2 = 4 pts). The barbarian and the other fighter began dashing towards him. Fighter #4 drew his long bow and took a shot at Henry, but missed (rolls a 2). #1, the leader, drew his long bow and shot as well, but also missed (rolls a 9, +5 adjustment gives a 14, less than Henry’s 18 AC).

Henry targeted the cleric, but missed (rolls a 3).

Their turn. The two melee fighters continued to dash forward, and at the end of their movement they have gone 120 feet, and have come to the gully. #4 shot his long bow and missed again (11 on the die, +4 = 15). #1 shot and missed also (rolls a 3). The cleric cast a spell on the wizard (Spare the Dying).

Henry targeted the cleric, and pounded him with an accurate shot (18 on the die). The cleric dropped (8 on the die, +4 = 12 points, which brings the cleric to 0).

  1. shot his long bow and missed (rolls an 11). #1 shot and hit Henry (rolls a 16, +5 = 21. Henry is 18 AC base, ¾ cover for +5, so shouldn’t have been hit, but was nevertheless). It was a good shot (7 on the die, +3 = 10, dropping Henry to 30 HP).

Henry ran and dropped down the ledge using the rope he prepared earlier. That put him out of sight of the Genasi, behind the vegetation around the gully. He moved through the vegetation with ease, and silently approached the hiding spot he had prepared. (11 on the stealth roll, +7 ability). He then waited to spring his trap.

The two Genasi reached the gully and seemed to realize that they couldn’t cross it easily, so they began looking for another way to cross. A little ways downstream there was a think tree truck that spanned the gully. There was fairly dense vegetation growth in the gully, so the bottom was a bit difficult to see, but it was clearly at least twenty feet down. The lead Genasi seemed a little wary. (perception rolls against the pit of 9 and 4) He stepped onto the log, but just at the edge, and jumped, testing the strength of the log. It seemed quite sturdy, so he started across. Once the first one was about half way the second started across also.

Henry tried to get the timing just right. He waited until both Genasi were on the log as close to the center as possible. Then he pulled the rope he had hidden. It was attached to a pole which was helping to hold up the log. The stout log would have been easily able to hold the two Genasi’s weight, but Henry had spent time cutting away the bottom, weakening the log. When the pole support was removed and the log had to hold all of their weight, it was too much, and the log buckled in the middle.

Both Genasi fell. But instead of just being wet and a little damaged, they impact the sharpened stakes Henry had buried into the gully. (2d10 + 2D6. One takes 23 points, the other 16 points). Both of them are quite injured, but still in the fight. Henry jumped out of his hiding place and charged to the top of the gully, giving him line of sight to the prone Genasi. He fired an arrow at the Genasi in chain mail and hits him (11 on the die, +8 = 19) The damage was minimal (2 on the die, +4 = 6), but it was enough to drop him below zero.

The remaining Genasi, an unarmored Barbarian, draws a hand axe and hurled it at Henry (medium range, rolls a 10 and a 3), but the axe missed him completely. The Genasi used his movement to knock down some of the spiked poles on the way towards an edge.

Henry shot the barbarian (rolls a 12, +8 = 20) The damage killed the Genasi (roll of 4, +4 = 8)

Henry ran back to the ledge and climbed the rope he had left down. That took him back to his ledge and parapet. As he climbed he remained low to avoid drawing fire from the remaining Genasi. He came around his parapet and peered out into the meadow. At first he didn’t spot the Genasi, but after some time, their motion captured his attention. They were moving slowly towards him in a defensive posture, staying low to the ground and actively scanning for threats around them. “Apparently they don’t realize there is just one opponent,” laughs Henry.

Henry stood up behind his defensive cover and prepared to shoot at one of them. However, before he could fire an arrow, both of them shoot at him. Apparently they had readied their action in anticipation he would return. The fighter in leather armor shot first and hits Henry with a good shot (19 on the roll, +4 = 23. Henry is AC 18 +5 for cover) for reasonable damage (3 on the die, +2 = 5. Henry’s HP down to 25). The leader Genasi in chain mail shot and also hits Henry (14 on the die, +4 = 18. Cover negated) with another reasonable blow (3 on the die, +2=5, dropping Henry to 20 HP). “These guys are really good with bows,” thinks Henry. After they discharged their bows the Genasi continued their cautious movement forward.

Henry fired at the non-leader, the archer in leather armor. He barely managed a hit (rolls a 6, +8 = 14, beats the Genasi’s AC of 13). Reasonable damage (5 on the die, +4 = 9 points. Genesi down to 4 HP).

The Genasi fired again. The one in leather armor shot first, but missed (4 on the roll). The leader shot next and hits Henry again (19 on the die). That one hurts (6 on the die, +5 = 11, dropping Henry to 9 hp).

Henry dropped down behind his barrier. “Regardless of their skill, they shouldn’t be able to hit me through this thing,” he hopes. He cast a Cure Wounds spell on himself (6 on the die, +2 = 8, up to 17 HP). He heard the Genasi calling out, presumably to their comrades. He doesn’t speak Genasi, but he could guess they were trying to assert the whereabouts of their friends. They were met with silence, of course.

Henry cast another spell on himself (1 on the die, +2 = 3, up to 20 HP). He cast his final spell (6 on the die, +2 = 8, 28 HP). He readied an arrow and called out, “Your friends are dead, as you will be soon,” and stood back up into shooting position. The Genasi had taken cover, as well as they could within an open meadow. It took a moment for Henry to spot them, but when he did, he took a shot at the injured archer. He missed (5 on the die, +8 = 12).

The Genasi called out again, in their language, but otherwise seemed to just be hiding. Henry shot again and hits the archer (15 on the die, +8 = 23, higher than his AC even with cover). The blow silenced the archer (3 on the die, +4 = 7, more than his remaining 4 HP).

The remaining Genasi took off at a dash, but turned around to face Henry in a defensive posture when his movement completed (dodge action). Henry shot at him regardless, but missed (10 and 6 on the die, +8 = 14, but against 15 AC).

The Genasi repeated, continuing to move and dodge. This would probably be the last time Henry could shoot at him within short range. Henry took the shot and got a hit (17 and 13 on the die, 13 + 8 = 21) Not a great hit, but some damage (2 on the die, +4 = 6, dropping the Genasi to 25 HP).

The Genasi moved further, then turned and shot at Henry, but missed. (10 on the die, +5 = 15, less than Henry’s 18 AC).

Henry went ahead and shot at him, even though the range was getting difficult. A miss (6 and 3 on the die).

The Genasi was almost to the edge of the meadow then, but turned and took another shot, and hits. (19 on the die. No cover bonus, and no range penalties) Henry was dumbfounded. At that range, against almost complete cover, and he still hits. The damage hurt (7 on the die, +3 = 10, dropping Henry to 10 HP). The Genasi had proven themselves cruel and merciless, and for that they had to die. However, he was starting to feel another motivation. He couldn’t help but think how useful that bow would be for him.

Henry wasn’t quite sure what to do. He dropped down behind his parapet and considers his options. He certainly wouldn’t win in a long range archery battle with this Genasi. In fact, he could be picked off just trying to stand up. The Genasi had seen five of his comrades dropped by Henry, so he should be dutifully scared. Henry thought they might be at a stalemate, if the Genasi would use his archery advantage.

Henry ducked down to the rope he had prepared and quickly rappelled down to the bottom. At that point he should be out of the line of sight, so he felt more comfortable. He headed off the opposite way of the Genasi, to the south, but made a slow circle around to the east. As he walked and considered his options, he sensed a creature approaching from the air. He instinctively dove to the ground and rolled into a defensive posture. When he looked up a giant bird was landing.

It was Ka. He chirped, “Well done Elf man! Five of six defeated, and one on the run.” Henry stood up and brushed himself off. “Thank you Ka. But I am injured and the last one will be difficult.” Ka crackled, “I doubt you will have much trouble. But perhaps I will keep watching to see what happens.” Henry decided it was a good time for a Short Rest. He sat down and relaxed for a bit. “The Genasi will need light to travel at night. I need little light, so that will be an advantage for me. I’m not worried about tracking him, especially if he is carrying around a light source,” said Henry, “But where to engage him?”

They discussed options for a few minutes, and Henry uses his Second Wind (1 on the roll, +1, giving him 12 HP). “I will follow him, carefully, until dark. If he rests, I shall engage him after some rest of my own. If he keeps moving, I may rest some and then try to catch up with him. I doubt he will make good progress moving at night.” Henry ate a bit of the food he had carried for an emergency. He had only intended to go to town, so he hadn’t carried much. They spoke a bit more as Henry rested, and then Henry headed off.

He decided it would be easiest to track the Genasi from where he last had seen him, so Henry headed back towards the meadow. Within a long range the archer was still quite dangerous, so he had to be careful. It didn’t take him long to get back to the meadow, and he entered cautiously. As he followed the trail, he came upon the fallen Genasi solider. His equipment had been ransacked. His backpack had been removed, and his body was sprawled in an unsightly pile of arms and legs. No respect for the dead.

Henry had no idea what was in the backpack before, so he didn’t know what had been removed. A casual inspection showed some food and personal items, so he guessed food was not what was needed. He looked for the soldier’s quiver. He had fired 12 arrows so far, so it might be wise to refill. He found the quiver. The arrows looked to be reasonable quality, so he refilled his own quiver. He’d come back for the body later, but he didn’t have time to bury him now.

He then came upon the cleric and the wizard. The cleric was dead, but the wizard appeared conscious. Henry took the last part of his rope and bound the arms and legs of the wizard. He also ran a gag through his mouth, since he wasn’t sure what magic the wizard would be able to perform.

It was late in the afternoon now. Henry estimated that there was about 4 hours of light left. That was when things would get interesting. He headed off, following the trail, and looked for signs of his prey. He wasn’t too difficult to track. With his heavy chain mail he sunk into the ground for clear footprints. Many of the prints had the foot turned 90 degrees or more from the path forward, and Henry concluded the Genasi was regularly turning to look behind him.

Henry continued tracking for several hours. He was always on the lookout for places where an archer might hide and take shots at him, but so far his opponent seemed most concerned with putting distance between them. Henry felt confident he could overtake his adversary, with his knowledge of this area, but staying behind, and out of range, appealed to him now.

Night began to fall. It looked like there wouldn’t be a bright moon tonight, so the Genasi would struggle. He continued to follow the tracks, curious what the Genasi would do. After a bit more time it became quite dark, and Henry stopped and waited. He didn’t have to wait long to catch sight of his adversary. His eyes caught the telltale sign of flint striking steel, and shortly thereafter a torch roared to life. He had closed to within a few hundred feet of the Genasi, who was now attempting to follow the path by torchlight. He gave a little thought to putting an arrow into the bright circle of light, but decided it would be a waste.

The Genasi continued along the trail, but torchlight wasn’t the best light source, so his pace was slowed. Henry had no trouble following him now, and assumed he could even be rather unstealthy now and the Genasi wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. There would be about 10 hours of darkness, and Henry guessed that the Genasi was not carrying 10 torches, so he would need to stop soon.

Henry followed the Genasi through the first torch, and into the second one. At that point the Genasi changed his behavior. Instead of staying on the trail, he started to explore the areas around the trail. After a few false starts, he eventually found a spot that seemed to satisfy him, and stopped his movement. Henry was familiar with the area. It wasn’t much of a defensible area, just some trees aligned along one side and a bit of flat ground. For a few minutes Henry watched the Genasi prepare himself. He almost felt sorry for him.

Back a few minutes walk was a small shelter that Henry now headed for. It was a small cave, and it could be used as a place to get out of the rain in the winter. Henry made sure he wasn’t leaving a trail as he backtracked, and then he entered the small opening. Once he was sure it wasn’t occupied, and that nothing was approaching the opening, he knelt down to rest. With just a few hours of meditation he could get the recovery that took most other humanoids nearly twice as long.

He meditated on his situation for about four hours. After that, he felt fully recovered. He prepared his spells, having recovered the three that he could cast. He was prepared.

He peered out of the cave entrance and waited for several minutes to make sure there wasn’t anything moving outside. He could see well in the low light conditions, but so could many monsters, and night was a dangerous time to be out alone. He wondered if the Genasi would even survive the night by himself.

He cautiously walked back to the area he had left the Genasi. As expected, he was leaning against one of the trees, trying to be prepared for anything, but he was also tired and bored, so it was challenging him. Henry was not surprised to see that there wasn’t any light source. The poor guy had probably relied on the magic user, or simply made fires when they had six party members, assuming safety in numbers. Now he was there, alone, and in the dark, an easy prey for the many creatures that roamed at night. Henry watched him for a few minutes. The Genasi didn’t appear to have heard him, but it was hard to be sure.

He cast a light spell on a pebble and threw it fifteen or twenty feet ahead of him. Casting the spell required him to vocalize, so there was no longer any surprise that someone was out there. Henry remained on his guard, but called out to the Genasi, saying “You should not have attacked me. I was causing you no harm.” The Genasi had jumped noticeably when the light appeared, and now he was shielding his eyes, trying to adjust to the sudden onslaught of light. “Ah, Elfy, ready to meet your ancestors?” said the Genasi. Henry was disappointed, but not surprised. “It doesn’t need to end this way. I have provided us light so we will both be on equal footing. I have defeated all five of your allies. I can return us to darkness, where I can see, but you cannot. It is time you accepted that it is over,” said Henry.

The Genasi just snorted. “There is no way an Elf could beat a Genasi. You are a cowardly, treacherous race that should be expunged from the surface of the world.”

Henry paused for a moment. Soon the Genasi’s eyes would adjust to the light, and he would attack, it appeared. Henry gave it one last chance. “I will make you a deal. I believe you have a magic bow. Give it to me, and promise to never to come back to this area, and I will spare your life.”

The Genasi didn’t even pause, much to Henry’s dismay. “Ah, you like my bow. When I have finished with you I promise to riddle your body with arrows from it.” He had put on his shield earlier, and had his battleaxe in one hand. He was clearly spoiling for a fight. Both combatants were prepared to engage, although Henry still hoped the Genasi would see reason. The Genasi started an attack, and Henry knew that only one of them would be walking away from this fight.

Henry was able to act first (initiative roll of 19 +4 = 23, Genasi roll of 18 +2 = 20) Henry first canceled his light spell, plunging the area back into darkness. The Genasi’s eyes had finally adjusted to the near daylight conditions, and now had to dilate again to absorb what little light was provided by the moon. Henry attacked with his rapier and started with a big hit (9 and 20 on the die), but only moderate damage (1 and 4 on the dice, +4 = 9. Genasi to 22 HP).

The Genasi swung in the dark at Henry for a convincing miss (19 and 1 on the dice).

Henry attacked again and hit (10 and 13 on the dice, +6 = 19) Damage was good (6 on the die, +4 = 10. Genasi down to 12 HP).

The Genasi takes his Second Wind (5 on the die, 3 = 8. Up to 20 HP). He missed again (4 and 5 on the dice), but took his Bonus Surge to attack again (11 and 18 on the dice. 114 still misses), but misses again.

Henry continued the attack with another hit (10 and 15 on the dice). Minimal damage (1 on the die, +4 = 5. Down to 15 HP).

The Genasi swung for another miss (8 and 10 on the dice).

Henry’s rapier connected solidly with the Genasi’s shield (5 and 9 on the dice, +6 = 15)

The Genasi swung again (10 and 16 on the dice), for another miss.

Henry hit (3 and 13 on the dice), but hardly does any damage (1 on the die, +4 = 5. Genasi down to 10 HP).

The Genasi managed a hit (14 and 16 on the die, 14 +4 = 18), and did good damage (7 on the die, +2 = 9 points. Henry down to 21 HP).

Henry must have qualms about attacking, as he missed again (3 and 5 on the dice).

The Genasi missed completely (1 and 6 on the dice).

Henry landed the final blow (13 and 15 on the dice), with maximum damage (8 on the die, +4 = 12, more than the Genasi’s 10 remaining HP).

Henry stood over the dying Genasi and wondered why it had to be this way. He could tie him up and then heal him, but it doesn’t seem likely that the Genasi will change. Defiant until the end.

Henry waited until the Genasi was unquestionably dead, and then removed his helmet. As expected, he finds Elven ears and features on the Genasi. He must have been angry with his Elven parent which lead him to be so aggressive and cruel with Henry. It’s too bad the young man didn’t have a chance to work out his issues in some other way.

Henry removed the Genasi’s bow and quiver and took a quick look at them. The quiver and arrows don’t appear especially nice, but the workmanship on the bow was quite good. Henry put those aside, and removed the other items from the body. The chain mail may be worth something, so no sense in letting it get damaged if some monster finds the body before dawn. He intended to bury the body, but the middle of the night is not the right time.

After separating the items of any value from the body, he took the bow and headed back to his cave. Better to wait out the rest of the night there, in some safety. He cast Detect Magic on the bow, and sure enough, it’s magical, but the arrows were not. He rested the duration of the evening and when first light broke, he headed back to the leader Genasi’s body. He dug a grave and put the body in as respectfully as he could.

Carrying a full set of chain mail, a battle ax, and a shield would be difficult, so he created a small sled from several stout poles to help reduce the load. He then drug the arrangement down the valley to the meadow where the next set of Genesi bodies lay. There were vultures and other carrion that had found the bodies, including the wizard. He ran the foul creatures off, but found that the wizard had expired during the night. He paused in thought over that for a few minutes. Had he done the right thing? If he had instead healed the wizard how would have things gone for him? Dragging the wizard along to fight the remaining Genasi would have made things quite difficult. Perhaps he should have allowed the leader to escape and focused on the wizard instead. Did his desire for the bow cloud his judgement? He would have to meditate on this in the future.

He removed anything of reasonable value from the bodies. The Wizard had a traveling spellbook, and the Cleric was wearing scale mail with a shield that could be worth something. Nearby was the archer that had hit him several times, and he collected his long bow and long sword.

He removed the valuable items and then started working on three graves. It took him almost four hours to finishing burying the Genasi, and he stopped for lunch. The Genasi had some edible rations, so he could take the edge off his hunger. He headed through the meadow to the gulley where the last two Genasi lie. His sled was too heavy for more items, but he striped the bodies and hide the valuable items for another trip. He decided that four graves was enough digging for one day, so he drug his sled back down the valley into town.

The next day he returned to bury the remaining two, and to collect their items. All told, when their items were sold, plus their meager purses, he had almost 400 GP, so not a bad haul. And he had a magic long bow, which might be the real prize.

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Our journey to Styros

We started our session about to enter battle with a bunch of Manes and a big baddie Nalfeshnee. Thanks to a well placed fireball from Cataclysmia the battle went smoothly. I am fairly sure Bartholomew died, but I also remember him doing that a lot that day. From there we continued to travel towards the City of Styros. There was another encounter in there that I am completely spacing on that killed Xander (or just made him mostly dead). We eventually got to Styros and learned a few things:

- There is a Ziggurat in the city that is a temple to the god Shale
- The city is ruled by the Nalfeshnee who is a puppet of powers lower in the Abyss

We saved a gnome named Ulagon Underhill. He gave us a coin in thanks.

We went to the river to find a boatman to take us down the river Styx. We found Charon whose price of transit was the coin we got from the gnome. Charon mentioned that we would never make it past the devil rays. He also cheerily informed us that we would never survive the gaping maw. We learned that we would be able to find some sort of protection from the devil rays at the Citadel along the river – so off to the citadel we go.

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The Iron Fortress

At the opening of our session, we find our intrepid and “way over their heads” heros on a leaky barge piloted by Charon. We know we need to stop at an iron fortress and get something that will help against the Ixitxachitl, commonly known as devil rays, that are further down the river on the salt flats. This is all in an effort to get to the Gaping Maw, the 88th level of the Abyss, where we will stop the Demogorgon from reassembling a Tarrasque and retrieve the splinter for Bartholomew’s goddess. The bargeman drops us off in a hilly area and points away from the river. Presumably that is the direction of the fortress. He agrees to wait for us. We should not be gone long.

After walking for about a half an hour we see below us a fortress of iron. It is roughly square, about a hundred feet on a and side, and has four dilapidated towers on each corner. Never have we seen anything of this size made of metal. The streaks of rust make is look like it is weeping blood. We know that this was used in the past as a launching off point for astral projecting into the Prime Material plane. Since the Apotheosis, however, such places have not been needed which may account for it obvious disrepair.

We decide to wait and watch. We see no movement but for an avian figure at the top of one of the towers. Within the hour a group of Manes herded by a Balgura, a large gorilla like demon, approaches the fortress. It is evident that some of the Manes are captives of the others. For what purpose? It is hard to feel sympathy for any of them. During their lives they were terribly people. Their cruelties were the reason they traveled to the Abyss entombed in the revolting form of a manes. They get to the gate and the figure in the tower flies down (turns out it is a Vrock), and the large metal doors open and the group enters.

We decide on a plan. We will approach the fortress with the story that we are on a mission for our master, Tarnshaff, a herder of souls near Styros. We branded ourselves with his sigil in our last episode precisely for this type of deception. We will say he wants us to travel to the Gaping Maw and we need help getting past the devil rays.

As we approach the fortress the Vrock flies down and asks us our business. It does not seem inclined to let us in. Cataclysmia browbeats the giant bird and it relents. The doors open and we enter.

We are immediately assaulted by an awful smell. Something (somethings?) has died and rotted away. Perhaps demons find the smell pleasant. Another balgura approaches us. This one is dressed in a finely fitting suit. His fur is orange and his face purple. Again we are asked our business. We tell our contrived tale but it takes a bit more pushing from Cataclysmia to get him to listen. He asks us to stay and walks away through the double doors at the end of the hall.

He soon returns and asks us to follow. He leads us to a throne room. In the room are three figures including the balgura. One is an ettin, a large, ugly two headed giant. The other is a Marilith names Anderial. She is a two headed, six armed snake lady and seems to be the one in charge. We tell her our tale and she calls Tarnshaff a “petty town sheriff” with no business in the Gaping Maw. But she is open for negotiation.

Her focus is on Bartholomew. She wants him to renounce his goddess. If he does this she will give us five stone that will protect us from the psionic abilities of the devil rays. Bart refuses and we think it is the end of our road, but Cataclysmia convinces here to trade for some of our magic items. In return for an adderstaff, a mattock, a brooch, and a sword of binding. Cataclysmia sort of forgot the the adderstaff was a necessary focus for her spells. Oops.

Anderial takes the items and says she will give us the stones in the morning. Groth (the suited balgura) escorts us to our chamber. It is up a spiral metal staircase and past a large coral ring. We decide to go look around.

Outside our chamber was a manes. Cataclysmia tell it to get lost and it scurries away. The large ring seems to be a device used in travel or astral projection. Off the ring room was a locked door. Never one to let a locked door remain in that state Theodoric starts to pick a lock – and disappears. We rush to the door to figure out what happened to no avail. He is gone and there is no following. Overwrought, Henri finishes the job of picking the lock and we enter.

Through the door is an opulent room with chests all around and a pillow covered dais. There are also three manes who attack. We quickly dispatch the manes but when we turn around we see Groth. He is not pleased and casts a spell to bind us with vines. Most of us avoid the grasping tendrils and Groth leaps in the air over our heads and attacks.

We kill him and search the room and find jewelry, potions, and scrolls.

Exiting the room we find more manes at the top of the stairs. They are very soon all dead. Bartholomew decides to dash down the stairs only to have the Ettin tear them from the ceiling. He falls to the ground laying prone at the foot of the bi-headed beast. Xander leaps down to the rescue and is practically killed for his trouble. Bart finishes off the giant and the others come down a rope through the gap in the ceiling.

Moments later the hallways is flooded by more manes, another balgura, two vrocks, and Anderial. It does not look good. Soon Bart and Cat are unconscius on the ground. Henri and Xander hold off the monsters but one of Anderial’s arrows turns Henri to stone. Xander kills the last Vrock and barely aloie looks up to see it is just him and Anderial left.

He surrenders, and as BArt and Cat come to, they too surrender. Henri cannot bow in his petrified state.

The party is escorted to a cell. Andariel visits and offers them freedom in return for servitude. (Bart offers her a dictionary). They agree and she tells them to wait. In a bit they hear a voice outside their cell. It is Teddy! Turns out he was transported to a maze and only just go himself free and has been wandering around.

Andarial returns and asks for Xander. He sends him unarmed to kill a ‘visitor’ who is approaching the fortress. The visitor is a Shadow Demon in the service of the Demogorgon. He does so and returns where Anderial gives him back his proteon pike and escorts him to his original room.

And they wait.

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The Great Escape

Episode 7: The Great Escape

Previously on Canyon Fodder: After a careful negotiation, our heroes stepped right into a steam pile of mistakes when they ‘accidentally’ broke into their host’s chambers setting off alarms across the fortress. They fought bravely, but with everyone unconscious, Henri turned to stone, and Teddy off who-knows-where, Tal Xander negotiated a surrender to the Marilith, Andariel.

The scene is set with Cataclysmia and Bartholomew rotting away in the fortress’s dungeon, Theodoric skulking undetected around the hallways, Xander catching up on his sleep in his assigned chambers, and Henri standing guard in the Throne room watching Manes scurry from place to place under his stony gaze.

In his wanderings, Teddy noticed that the Marilith would spend time every “day” staring at the coral ring near her chambers and then go off to sleep in her chambers. After finding Xander, they discussed their options; Teddy in his high pitched halfling voice, and Xander presumably with articulate hand gestures seeing as his ability to speak had yet to be restored. They decided that the best course of action was to free Bart and Cat, retrieve their equipment from the vault on the other side of the fortress, restore Henri with their new-found leveled up powers, and then sneak away with no one the wiser.

Part one of their brilliant scheme went off without a hitch. The rogue and monk took out the two pitiful manes guards with the help of some monkly deception. Teddy went down and freed Cat and Bart while Xander guarded the door. The four of them marched off towards the vault.

The vault entrance was down a set of stairs. It was guarded by two more pitiful manes as well as some potentially less than pitiful wards. The plan was for Xander to go down, hail the manes, and dispel the first set of wards with the spell stored in his ring. The dispelling went well enough, but apparently the manes were not quite as stupid as our group thought and one of them reached out to pull the alarm. Xander leapt across the room and took it out while Teddy took care of the other. Cataclysmia took care of the last ward and to vault door stood before them.

Theodoric pulled out the vault door key and inserted it into the lock. To his surprise, not only did the door not open but the key was sucked into the door! That was when we noticed the door was actually a mimic. Who does that!? The mimic was not a terrible challenge for our friends, but it did manage to trigger the alarm with one of its pseudopods. Bummer.

In the vault they found 12 chests including our equipment as well as some other goodies including what they assumes were the devil ray shards on necklaces. Little time for a thorough search they raced off to free Henri. Perhaps Andariel slept through her alarm or hit snooze?

Close to two dozen manes fell like dominos before the adventurers wrath before they got to the throne room which contained another eight manes plus the marilith. The battle was short and fierce. Teddy and Xander rushed in on opposite side of the room and engaged the manes while trying to get as much cover from Andariel’s arrows as possible. Bart rushed to Henri and de-petrified him. Cat cast a telekinesis spell and used it to bind Andariel. Thus the battle came to its climax with the six armed demon hanging in the air as the five inglorious bastards did what they could to beat her down. This time the cry for surrender came from Andariel, but they would not have any of it. With one of Henri’s arrows protruding from her forehead, the Marilith’s serpentine body dropped to the ground.

With more time on our hands, we did a more thorough search and found more loot as well as the items we traded Andariel for the shards. There were still some manes left in dark corners of the fortress, but they wanted nothing to do with the band of warriors. Cataclysmia took some time to check out the coral ring and found that she could astrally project around the fortress and surrounding area. While poking about she noticed a squad of demons coming our way towards the fortress.

The last thing they wanted was another fight at that moment so they boogied then and their back to the river avoiding the supposed reinforcements. Amazingly the boatman was still there and they climbed aboard and launched down the river.

About this time they decided to check out the necklaces. Seeing as Cat had put one on some time ago and was no less normal than usual, they rest of the back put theirs on. Everyone rejoiced when Xander got his voice back due to the magic in the necklace’s stone.

They floated down the river for some time and then turned off the main branch down an offshoot. It turned into rapids which dumped into a lake swirling around a maelstrom in its center. Unable to do anything at this point but hold on they were sucked down the whirlpool and emerged unscathed and dry on a slowly moving river “somewhere else”. The river cut through a flat plain. The air was hot, humid, and briny – a sea of some sort was close. Large biting flies made what might have been a restful respite an annoying experience for all. The river was not terribly deep and we could see what looked like bleached coral on the bottom.

We drifted for some time and saw up ahead a bridge crossing the entrance to a large bay. Closer inspection showed figures on the bridge. Not wanting to float into trouble they pulled over, made camp, and scouted ahead. They found three balgura and a handful of manes on guard at the top of the bridge – with who knows how many inside the structure.

Henri come up with a crazy plan: cast water breathing on everyone, have Teddy cast an illusion on the barge to make it seem like flotsam thrown from the whirlpool, and we would drift past the bridge with all of us hiding underneath. For once the plan went off without a hitch and a battle was avoided.

Interesting factoid: it was not coral on the riverbed, but rather bone. Lots and lots of bone. Eww.

Once sufficiently past the bridge, the group climbed back on the raft and looked around. They were in a large sea or bay. Off in one direction they could see a verdant green landscape – probably a jungle. Further on they saw two towers that marked the city of Lemoriak. And in the middle of the bay was what looked like a construction site. Was that where the tarrasque was being assembled and they would find Demogorgon and the splinter that started this whole mess…?

Stuff they found:

In the vault:
six necklaces,
3 potions of superior healing
400 gp
book with metal plates
demonhide armor

Throne Room:
8 stone arrows
3 scrolls of water breathing
7000 gold pieces
11 gems: 1 black opal, 2 sapphires, 4 opals, 3 diamonds, 1 star sapphire – all about 1000gp each.
Potion of speed
Potion of vitality

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City of Demons

City of Demons – May 7, 2017

Having used their brains for once, our heroes avoided certain doom (or inconvenience) with an assault on the bridge guarding the entrance to the gaping maw by quietly floating by. Our adventure beings with them floating in the massive bay. We needed to decide what to do first. In the distance we could see a massive jungle, an island covered in scaffolds, and a city. Presumably, the island is where the tarrasque is being assembled – we assume a frontal assault there will spell out doom, so we choose to paddle to the demon city, Lemoriax.

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After removing our brands that identified us (falsely) as the property of XXXX, we floated on our way. At location A on the attached map we see something in the water. It turned out that it was 20 small devil rays with three big brother rays. They flew from the water through the air at us, blasted us with psychic energy, and generally wreaked havoc on our bodies. Luckily the shard necklaces that we borrowed from Andariel after killing her fended off the worst of the ixitxachitl’s attacks and we managed to fight them off.

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Paddling on we reached the island at ‘B’. It was nothing more than a fly covered heap of rock, not a place to stay. Thus we continued southerly toward Lemoriax. On our way we saw two vessels passing each other, one on it sway in to Lemoriax and one out. They were galley like boats with various humanoids including human, elves, and dwarves – slaves perhaps to Demogorgon?

We land near the jungle a bit south of the city. The breaches of the wild forest make it difficult to sleep, but we manage without incident.

The next “day” we decide to hike to Lemoriax. The city looks like an old Mayan city, generally in disrepair – a dump. Fields outside were once irrigated but are no longer so. We see demons flying above and all over the city. We see humanoids in chain gangs and walking around freely. We see demons and mortals associating as in business. No gate, no guard post. No music. Just the sounds of torture and beatings. Fun place.

We decide to go to the port to see what is being loaded and unloaded. There are inns and open air taverns. One inn in particular looks sinister and people walk around it giving it wide bearth. Lots of hustle, bustle, and violence.

We get a drink at a bar and are served something dark and chunky. TApperenly they do not filter their beer. The barkeep (half tiefling and ogre) makes space for an entourage of two ogres and a creature on fire (an efreet). They lift up a goblin and puts him on the bar. The goblin orders drinks for all his group and says they had a successful venture.

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Cataclysmia talks to the goblin named Kaiborun. He is staying at the nasty scare place, the Perdition Inn. He just unloaded a group of demon slaves. He explains to us there there are two ‘demons’ in charge: Aamul and Hethradiah. In fact, they are the two heads of Demogorgon and are constantly plotting against each other. Hethradiah wants to take things at a careful place and unite the forces of the demons before proceeding. Aamul wants to rush forward and release the power of the tarrasque upon the planes as soon as possible. He tells us Aamul is in charge at the moment. Ugh.

The agents of Hethradiah and Aamul may be in the market to hire third parties for help in their plotting. The goblin believes Demogorgon has all the parts needed for the tarrasque, but Hethradiah is keeping a last piece of pieces hidden from Aamul – or they are being kept separate for some other reason.

We ask about the jungle. It is a nasty place with psychic panther monkeys and Wontee – giant snake people. The panther monkeys can provide insights and visions, though it is apparently generally unpleasant. And everything there will want to kill you.

A further clue the goblin gives us is that the thing we are looking for (the splinter) has been cloaked by plumb ivy, but the thing that cloaks it might be detectable. He gives us some plumb ivy samples to help us find it.

As we discuss what to do we see a creature with two heads and two tail on top a ziggurat. This is presumably Demogorgon. The demons surround the ziggurat and force smaller demons up to Demogorgon who eats them one by one. After eating about a dozen or so he flies off.

We decide is it time to contact Bartholomew’s goddess for guidance. We can ask three questions – but which three?

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