Part 5: Aftermath
The next session, when all our party are assembled once again, they explore the rest of the site. Having completely trapped the entirety of the noise-chasing menace, the main threat is defeated.
Osric tends to spend most of his time with excessive Burden (and either glowing, being covered in snaking runes, etc. etc.). Tösk, for his part, has been working to assist with remedying this.
Firstly, there was the shrine-statue he carved, and now Tösk decides to work on blessing a bell to also assist Osric (using one of the bells recovered from one of the numerous bell traps they keep finding by triggering).
They get to the vastness of the Memory of the Sea, unable to feel or see the sea, but hearing in the vague echoed sounds of the vast darkness something ressembling… waves?
Tösk takes the opportunity to wash the bell in the memory of the sea (not that he can feel any difference, but it feels like an appropriate thing to do).
A while later, they hear people hiding behind a door, past the Portmaster’s office… people who are obviously hiding from them.
Tösk listens at the door (Thief Level 4: Good Ear), and determines that there are 10 Dradkin and 4… others(?).
When their initial approach does not work, Oddbjorn sings… and the door is opened by 4 Dradkin-Dwarven children (the 4 they couldn’t identify), against the protests of the adult Dradkin. An unfortunate misunderstanding at this stage (Tösk is perched above the door, and swing around head-first, like a bat) results in Tösk getting a spear to the face, but things are rapidly de-escalated.
Once the (starving) Dradkin are convinced that the threat is neutralised, they rush out to open up the bricked up chambers containing their supplies of potted (mystery) meats.
We go for a (much-needed) Camp Phase here, with our adventurers staying with their newly found friends.
Here, Torchbearer does one of those things it’s so very good at: the Camp Event messes with their plans, as we roll Pestilence (Scholar’s p267). This is not the first time our group has encountered this Camp Event, and there are many unhappy groans from the players.
So, these 14 starving people, who have broken down the walls to their larders, and pulled out their jars of preserved meats, crack them open, to find that, much like of the party’s supplies, they are riddled with maggots, mould, etc.
Time for a change of plan, then.
The group rolls up their sleeves, and sets to work. They gather all of the supplies and jars of food that the Dradkin have, and prepare the area.
Time for some serious purification, with a high-Ob Ritualist test (Consecration - Ob4 +1Ob for volume of affected foodstuffs)… which they succeed at!
The people are saved! Everyone gets to eat, and the party is praised has heroes.
Tösk finishes work on the bell, dedicating it to the Jotunn immortal Hrym, Captain of the Dead Ship. Given Osric’s Creed and general attitude, this is marvellously on-point. Bricks helps with their Alchemist (to etch the bell) and Osric helps with his knowledge of Theology (to get the symbols and runes right). Oddbjorn is no fan of the Jotnar, so declines to get involved.
Now, given that they are On Map (thanks to Bricks for that!), they retrieve the statue from their previous camp.
Osric sets himself up on an outcropping overlooking the Memory of the Sea, complete with statue and bell, and lighting (with soul oil) the beacon that’s here.
He fully clears his Burden through purification and calling out to Hrym, Captain of the Dead Ship that Sails Between Worlds, Lord of Undeath, whilst deep underground, overlooking a dead (and “vanished”) sea, ringing a bell dedicated to Hrym, before a statue of the Jotnar, having lit a signal beacon with soul oil.
We could not have asked for a better place or time!
For his part, Tösk is now planning a reconciliation between the dwarves of Grimvault, and the Dradkin of the Silent Temple. Another (successful) huge Ob test (Ob5? Ob6?) means that he’s got an approach and story that will work, once it can spread to both sets of people here.
Now, we’re on to the tail-end of the adventure.
The party makes it onto the dock itself, and finds the barque that they saw so many sessions ago…
On the barque is a Menaka (think Beholder-ish), named Celdurxi, that has had one of its organs carved out, and has been surgically grafted to the boat. This… does not seem right to Tösk (or to the others, frankly).
The barque does not seem to have an owner, but they choose to negotiate with the Dradkin Portmaster, and pay “docking fees”, so that they may take this precious vessel.
Aside: “Precious” as only vessels that were on the sea when it vanished will float where the sea once was.
They now take possession of the vessel, and find the dessicated body of the Dradkin captain there, with a (magical!) dwarven dagger plunged through their neck. Investigation reveals it to be a dagger favoured of Vali the Kinslayer, for it was used by a priestess of his to try to kill him (a variation on Shindara’s Blade, from @Jared’s Lots O’ Loot p45).
Speaking with Celdurxi (the Menaka), they plan on freeing it. For its part, it wants to go to Hrel, across to the north on the Memory of the Sea, whereas the group has discovered tales of another way to the surface, known as the Steeps, far to the East, past Sifoon.
Before then, they have preparations to make. They decide to move an alchemy lab they discovered from their old camp site onto the boat, as well as make a last trip up to Grimvault.
Taking the delicate (often glass) parts that make up the alchemy lab down the ropes is not easy, and a failed test gives me the perfect opportunity to apply a fun Twist, as 5 large isopods burst forth from the ground!
Interestingly, the group splits at this point. Osric and Tösk fade back, whereas Oddbjorn and Bricks leap forwards, with Oddbjorn making plenty of music / noise, and Bricks stomping with the boots that give them their name.
We run this as a Drive-Off conflict, that only involves Oddbjorn and Bricks (and the 5 isopods, of course). I was leaning on letting the more pro-active option be the lead here, but it also meant that there could be obvious follow-up tests or Conflicts (Flee, for Osric and Tösk, for instance), depending on how things went.
The player uses Osric’s Instinct to quickly invoke the Mudra of Fate on Bricks, which turns out to be very useful: none of what Bricks attempts in this conflict fall within their Nature Descriptors!
It’s a tough Conflict, especially as it’s 2 PCs vs. 5 Denizens. Might-wise, the isopods are not formidable, but Help dice really stack up in that situation!
Bricks is dropped, but brought back into the fight by Oddbjorn, and they finally triumph, although both are injured in the compromise.
They then manage to get the alchemist workshop set up on their boat, much later than anticipated!
The group decide to return to Grimvault, to gather what is theirs (Drake egg, chicken, pig, horse, 3 cats, and some belongings as well), and broker the start of some sort of reconciliation.
They ask Celdurxi what it might need, and it claims to need the brain of a wizard. Some of them (but not all) are slightly perturbed, by this.
However, well, Celdurxi has not had the easiest of times, and they do know of an Elite Sorceror…
Whilst they manage to leave some things on the barque, it is a very loot-rich group that reaches Grimvault (something around 20ish D of loot to ease their way).
They manage to broker a side-deal with Sly Dubach, by revealing hidden details of the places below, allowing her to steal a march on the rest of Grimvault that will follow, and, again, giving Sly Dubach access to hidden places.
The injured stay in (an equivalent to) a hotel, whilst the other 2 clear out their camp (treated as flophouse).
Their injuries turn out to be infected with isopod eggs (failed recovery test: twist to Sick). However, eventually, their conditions are dealt with.
From there, it’s a case of haggling (and managing to not close the market, for once), buying vast hills of supplies (a wheel of cheese, a cask of wine, a barrel of refined oil, etc.), and then a lot of time mentoring one another.
This last is particularly useful, as Bricks learns from Osric to use a shield (allowing the pair of them to equip Dradkin tomb-shields), and several of them learn Mentoring from all of this!
Osric has also acquired the tongues of a horse and a pig, so that he might invoke Tongue of the Lord of Beasts, and convince his two animal companions to join them on their adventures down in the Ur-Menig, in the darkness beneath Middarmark.
Tösk, for his part acquires a spellbook from Plodinus Kest, and inscribes the 2 spell scrolls the group have got their hands on. The player has his eye on Thief Level 6 (Symbological Dilettante), and has been working towards being in a good place for when the character levels up.
We see the highest Lifestyle / Paying Your Bills Obs we’ve seen to date (Ob 10 for Osric, and Ob 11 for Bricks, I believe?).
But what of Celdurxi’s request for a wizard’s brain? Well, they did not stab up Elite Sorceror Plodinus Kest, but they have manipulated him into joining them on their journey. And, well, once down there, out in the darkness… who knows what might happen?
Next week? Well, we’re going to get all of their loot down to the barque, and head out over the Memory of the Sea.
First, though, they need to get their wheel of cheese, cask of wine and other supplies down there, hopefully without any major disasters.