Trials of New Lessia

Song, Dance and Snarling Vines, Or, Finally to Bed

Cass, Hal and Joll are pushed backstage at the Wild Eye Revue, a series of short entertainments put on at the Stonefell Opera House.

Cragthorn, Meave and Jarrek manage to push themselves through the crowd up towards the stage.

Hal talks to one of the other entertainers backstage, learning that the best performers at the Opera House never seem to leave. This is disconcerting for the party.

First, they see a very sad and somewhat short half-elf sign an incredibly sad song. It moves the whole house and moves some of the party to tears. The thousand half-orcs in attendence are all weeping and swooning.

The sad half-elf is led back stage under watch of two guards, which is very suspect.

The trio is pushed out on the stage. Cass decides to do her best to bore the audience and promptly begins to make bird sounds and mime biking. Joll, however, decides to do her best and begins a racucous comedy routine. She shoves Hal around, teasing him. Hal, panicky, casts Enthrall on the audience and begins to sing.

Cragthorn passes Joll her lute. She starts playing phenomenally well: it would appear the lute is heavily charmed. The audience has fogotten all about the half-elf and is now cheering and screaming in joy. Cass quietly slips off the stage.

They finish their number with a burst of dancing lights. Hal attempts to hop off the stage and rejoin the party but Joll grabs him and pushes him backstage, informing him that he and the party are going to help her rescue that “poor, beautiful” half elf or else she’ll turn them into Elkul & co..

Jarrek intimidates a sleepy door guard and gets the party backstage. They catch up with Joll and Hal as a very fancy half-orc, Blake, is leading them to Adoben’s office for an “interview.” Cass casts “Hold Portal” on the door, preventing Blake from getting into the office and buying the party some time.

They pull Joll aside while Blake is trying to get through the door (A gruff female voice accuses him of having “weak actor arms” from the other side). Joll reiterates her threat and demands help.

The party is peeved at Joll but are forced to admit that clearly something very Evil is happening here and rescuing the Half-Elf is something that they should at least try.

Cragthorn is a tiny bat.

Cass’s spell dissolves and Blake tumbles through the door. Joll strides in and the party follows. Inside is the half-elf, now clearly in shackles, a tall and strong half-orc bodyguard and Adoben Wyvernjack himself. Blake leaves to get back to the Revue.

Joll and Hal begin negotiations. Adoben wants them to sign a “contract” that would require them to perform, essentially indefinitely, for free while “living” at the Opera House. Hal mage hands Adoben’s quill off his desk and agrees to sign, prompting Adoben to now have to search for his quill. The party moves backwards and discusses in hushed tones. The party notices a trap door in between Adoben and the half-elf, through which they assume the half elf will be taken. Cragthorn decides to take action, re-assuming human shape and casting Entangle.

Vines burst from the ground. Cass takes advantage of the distraction to loot the nearest chest, finding some gold, trinkets, and two magic items. Cragthorn wood-shapes the trapdoor, wrenching it open. Adoben makes smoke cloud and disappears down it. The half-elf begins screaming.

The body guard makes a move for the door, but Hal makes her woozy with a Lullaby spell, allowing Jarrek to tie her up. Guards knock at the door, and Hal disguises his voice to sound like Adoben and instructs the guards to leave. Cragthorn opens the door and causes a woosh of wind, extinguishing most of the lights backstage. This terrifies many people.

In the ensuing panic the party is able to escape the Opera House and get back downtown. They get to the SLF and rest for the night and restock on supplies.

Benedetta is thrilled about their success at Elkul’s and she processes all the papers the party stole, finding two important pieces: one, a letter confirming details of the next corpse shipment, and another showing that, evidently, Elkul is trying to court Unakain.

Grigori (the rescued half-elf) gives much information to the SLF. He is from Boccob’s Isle and fled wizarding school to be a travelling singer. He was captured in Tollgren’s Pass by Unakain and led through tunnels into a basement prison. He overheard about the SLF and about Elgood being taken prisoner.

Benedetta is now tasking the party with finding a way into Unakain’s basement and releasing all the prisoners, allowing them to take shelter with the SLF and hopefully convincing them to contribute sword-arms to the upcoming direct action.

The party spent their day gathering information. Cass’s rat was able to infiltrate Unakain’s basement from the surrounding grounds (with the help of native wild rats) and bring back structural information about the prison. Cragthorn and Jarrek interviewed several old gaffers, including one who told them about the exceedingly haunted graveyard in front of Unakain’s mansion. Hal asked around the SLF, learning about some ruined guard towers to the north of the city that might have a secret entrance into Unakain’s tunnels.

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Sleepy Subtlety and Noxious Fumes

The party is joined by Jarrek, a human barbarian who has pledged his sword to the Stonefell Liberation Front. Sinclair the kobold explains to the party that he’s being sent on a special, highly secretive mission by the SLF and that he’ll meet up with the party in a few days.

The party agrees to tell the door guard that Cass is a wealthy visitor who has come to visit Elkul in his time of need. It gets them into the stairwell. Cass charms Elkul’s door guard, who is drunk and evidently spends his time drinking ale, sitting on a stool, and “reading” “nudie books.” The party extracts plenty of information about the penthouse above and the people within, learning about three guards, two cooks, a halfling bard, a frightening butler and Elkul himself, who is laid up in bed.

The party heads upstairs into the entrace hallway for the penthouse. There is a magic statue, the door to the kitchen, and the main entrance.

The party decides to ask the kitchen if they can buy some wine for a dinner party. They are calling in a favor on Elkul and need just a few bottles. Joll, the halfling bard, opens the kitchen door and is receptive to their request. She lets them into the kitchen, explaining that she hate the butler, Gorath, and will see if the cooks can sell the party some wine.

The kitchen is a disaster. Food waste is everywhere. It appears that dinner is about to be served, but the cooks (who appear to be brothers, if not twins) are busy arguing and hitting one another with bits of cookery. Joll manages to calm them by telling them that Jarrek has volunteered to help clean. They put him to work, and he uses the cover to begin listening at the bedroom doors off the kitchen.

Cragthorn hears a conversation through the door that leads into the rest of the penthouse about someone having fallen asleep instead of patrolling. It is a frightening conversation.

Cass gives her rat familiar a vial of sleeping potion and has the rat poison the food that is about to be served.

Hal talks to Joll and makes friends, since they’re both bards. With the help of other party members, Joll is convinced to quit Elkul’s and fall in with the party for better pay.

The more conniving of the two cooks leads Cragthorn and Cass into the cooks’ bedroom which is full of flies and rotting leftovers. It is nauseating, but Cass and Cragthorn manage to hold onto their guts. The cook offers to sell them some unremarkable-looking wine, claiming he bought them off of a dwarf coming from Tollgren’s Pass. He claimed it was delicious pirate wine brought all the way up the Wyvern’s Pass from Brokejaw Bay. He wants 40au for the two bottles.

Cass appraises the wine and doesn’t seem to note anything special about it. Cragthorn, who knows a lot about wine, isn’t able to properly judge it with it being corked up.

Cass asks the cook how much he spends on ale on a given night out. Since it’s roughly 10ag a night, she gives him a counter offer to “get him drunk for a week” for the two bottles (7au). The cook, not being very bright, greedily agrees. Cass motions to Cragthorn to cover while she sneakily puts 7au into a pouch. Cragthorn summons a gust of air through the window, which pulls in even more flies; everyone is covered in flies. Cragthorn retches. This is all sufficient distraction and the cook grabs his pouch and shoves them out the door.

The other cook notices the pouch and immediately pounces on his brother. They fight savagely until a stern knock on the door. Gorath is asking where dinner is. Cass casts rope trick, ushering the party up into the ceiling, while Cragthorn hides in shadow.

Gorath, furious, barges into the kitchen and paralyzes the cooks in place. He threatens to turn them into mollusks, bury them in sand, and step on them if they don’t get dinner served as soon as possible. The cooks, too terrified to notice the party’s absence, get to serving dinner. Two guards come in to eat. The cooks deliver food elsewhere in the penthouse. Soon, everyone is asleep.

This party has about 20 minutes util the sleep potions wear off. Cass, Cragthorn and Jarrek decide to head for the office that Joll directs them to. She warns them that the office is full of traps, and begs them to retrieve her work gear from the chest on the stage. She also warns them that Elkul’s large dog, Digdirt, lives in the office.

Cass picks the lock of the office and Cragthorn casts a spell to make them undetectable by animals. Digdirt perks up, walks right past them and into the kitchen, terrifying the rest of the party. Luckily his mind is on food instead of mauling. He eats of the dinner and promptly falls asleep.

With the clock ticking, the three start disabling traps and stealing all the paper they can find. Cass loots a few magic things out of a wardrobe. Joll’s things are in a chest on a stage which is trapped with pressure plates. Cass isn’t able to get the plates disabled, so Cragthorn lobs a chair at them to set them off. Darts fly out of the wall. Jarrek is hit and promptly inflicted with Hideous Laughter. Cragthorn is hit and becomes Nauseated. Cass cleans out the chest and helps Cragthorn try and get Jarrek safely over a tripwire and fails, causing acid darts to shoot out and eat away at Cragthorn and Jarrek’s packs, destroying some of the paper within.

The party reunites and rappels out of the cooks’ open window, being careful to barricade the door behind them. As the last party members are climbing down, the window above suddenly explodes with a fireball, snapping the rope. Hal casts feather fall, saving anyone from broken legs.

The party realizes that they are on a street surrounded by early evening Stonefell partiers in rich dress. At first they are all moritified by the fain of flies; but Maeve nudges Hal into announcing “Ta-da!” and flourishing. Cass and Joll follow suit. The crowd goes wild, and grabs up the three short ones and begins to surge toward the Opera House.

Jarrek, Maeve and Cragthorn struggle to get them but can’t get through the crowd quick enough.

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Escapes, Discoveries and Unbearded Dwarves

Elgood has only time to tell the party to “meet him in the shadow of the arena” before he rushes to the stairs to fend off whatever authority is attacking the Broken Shackle Inn.

Cass immediately attempts to break through the nearest window but lands a glancing blow and hurts herself. Meave attempted to help but, in the excitement, beaned Cass in the head. The window was at least smashed out.

Cragthorn offers to tie Cass’s rope to Maeve’s staff and gets to work. Meave gets down to the ground and prepares to catch any “falling lizards.” She notices soldiers armed with chain mail and longswords and shields with artsy tankard emblems. Hal the bard sits in the corner, playing an inspiring song.

Meanwhile Sinclaire and Fizzle want to help delay the soldiers, whoever they are. Fizzle attempts to cast Grease. The spell succeeds and the floor and upper half of the stairs are coated in magic grease. Unfortunately, the spell renders him blind in a painful flash and he flails into the grease, sliding down the stairs into the fray.

Sinclaire bursts into one of the guest rooms to find a pair of hungover, sleeping dwarves. He attempts to cut off one of the dwarf’s beard and succeeds, but accidentally cuts the dwarf in the process. Sinclaire darts out of the room (sliding on grease) while the dwarf wakes up.

Face-bald and enraged, the dwarf storms out of his room only to hit the grease and fly down the stairs. Sinclaire peeks over the ledge to see the dwarf furiously flailing makeshift weapons into everything that moves. Elgood has been knocked over and Fizz is nowhere to be seen.

The party wants to rescue fizzle but between the grease and the well-armed soldiers it is simply impossible. While Sinclaire struggles to get out of the grease the rest of the party climbs out the window, somehow manaing to avoid sustaining further injury. Just as the magic grease fizzles out the final party member gets out the window.

The party finds itself in a strange and very foreign city. A crowd of curious onlookers—mostly orcs, but with many other races as well—is watching the ruckus at the inn.

Led by Cragthorn the party pushes through busy streets to get to the Arena. There, they see a line of vendors set up along the wall of the building, in its shadows.

They greet each vendor in turn. The first is an orc selling costly magic daggers. Second is a grumpy duergar selling enchanted tankards.

Third is a female orc who is selling jewels. Though Sinclaire is rather rude to her, Cass gains her trust and the vendor asks her privately if she knows about what happened at the Inn an hour ago.

Cass explains everything and the woman decides to give them the directions that Elgood would have given if he had made it to the Arena. They are given a city map and told to seek a sewer grate to the north, enter it, and head due south. She provides them with a passphrase—“Smash the System”—and sends them off.

Sinclaire apologizes for being rude. He had hoped to get the woman in a fight with the duergar so he could steal a tankard.

In the sewer the party finds a mad, singing wino of an orc. They utter the passphrase and he drops the act, relieved to be able to act normal. He explains that he has to blindfold them before leading them to the base of Victae’s Arms.

Cass initially thinks to try and sneak in invisibly, but when her spell wears off she reveals herself and is blindfolded.

The party is led through some confusing tangle of tunnels. Finally they are deposited in a storeroom, given back their sight, and told to wait. The guard walks back to his post.

Suddenly bright golden veins of light trace out a doorway in the solid stone wall. A stone slab opens, revealing a bustling base of operations with orcs striding every which way, looking busy.

They are greeted by Benedetta, one of the founders of Victae’s arms. She provides them with food and drink and begins to distribute some forms for them to sign. A gruff, armored orc (Farragut) comes up and brushes the paperwork aside and argues with Benedetta about action being more important than bureaucracy.

A third orc, Ungrim, breaks up the argument. He wears priestly robes adorned with a beautiful embossed image of a radiant sun.

Calmed, Benedetta begins explaining Vicate’s Arms’s need of the party. They want them to get into Uptown and, by breaking into one of the merchant’s houses, find some evidence of when the next corpse shipment will arrive. This knowledge will allow the Arms to make a public accusation of necromancy on the part of the cabal, hoping to cause a general boycott.

She also suggests taking any and all necromantic items that the party comes across to use as later evidence once the public’s opinions begin to sway against the Comittee.

Since Elkul was the one they caught performing necromancy and the bodies passed through Ragdulf’s mine, Benedetta suggests checking those places first.

However, she urges the party to hurry since soon Elkul will tell the rest of the merchants who beat him up.

The party asks for help and is healed and introduced to other prominent Reactionaries: Roger the cleric of Wee Jas & Gravekeeper and Grayson the Park Ranger. They give the party useful magical trinkets and healing potions.

The party immediately goes to gain access to Uptown. They find that they must buy cursed passes of howling that are good for some amount of time. Any attempt to drop/destroy the pass results in an alarm and probably arrest

Hal purchases enough passes for the whole party to remain in Uptown for three days and they pass through the gates (sinclair holding Cass on his shoulders).

Cass buys much nicer clothes for those in the party who look dirty and begin exploring. They find that Ragdulf’s house is locked and opt to attempt Elkul’s instead (he lives on the top floor of a public mall).

At the mall, Cass buys some tossable potions of Ghostly Form and the party steels itself to head upstairs.

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A curious new city

The party explored the basement under the Half Orc’s swamphouse to find several foul-smelling coffin-sized boxes. A single unlocked door led to a seemingly just -constrctured mining tunnel.

Hal, sneaking, bumped into a druid named Cragthorn who was also investigating the area’s necromancy. Seeing that they shared a common goal, the party agreed to join up in Cragthorn’s investigation.

The party came to three orcich miners taking a break. Cragthorn conversed with them in their native tongue, learning that they hated working there but that there was no other work to be had since a group called the Rejuvenation Committee took over their city’s economy. Worse, this mine used to be owned and operated by Kobolds who had been killed and chased off by a wealthy warrior-merchant named Ragdulf.

They told the party that they saw the half-orc—evidently named Elkul—crawling into the mine injured. He was picked up by Ragdulf’s guards and carried out in the direction of Stonefell.

Finally, the orcs warned that though Ragdulf’s guards wouldn’t immediately attack strangers in the mine they would go after any kobolds on site.

The party could hear guards coming to the break-room. The party split up; the short ones hid in the tunnel that lead down to the work area while the tall ones hid in the path back to the swamphouse. The guards came in and ordered the resting orcs back to work. Unsure if the guards would head to the work area and catch Cass and Sinclaire, someone cast Daze on the scarier of the two guards. This confused them enough for the party to get out of the breakroom towards the exit.

Fizzle attempted to grease the way behind them, but instead triggered a fireball that broke and stuck the door behind them (and blasted half the party).

Sad and burned the party made it to bustling Stonefell. They opted to stay the night in the Broken Shackles, the inn most likely to not care about human kobold guests (it has a reputation for progressivism).

The party slept in a big common sleeping area on the second floor. The party was surrounded by sleeping orc-shaped cloak piles. Meave took the first watch and noticed many of the sleeping orcs get up and go downstairs; Sinclaire noticed them all return and go back to sleep in the early morning.

The party woke up refreshed but curious about the orcs in the room. At first glance they seemed like paupers simply given shelter for the night; but a detect magic spell revealed that many of them had magic items under their cloaks.

Cass attempted to peek under an orc’s cloak to see what he carried. The orc, named Elgold, awoke and confronted the party. Cass charmed him, and he was eager to talk about him and his group, Victae’s Arms.

They are a group committed to restoring the previous government of Stonefell which they feel was illegally dissolved by the Rejuvenation Committee. They think the necromancy is tied to the committee but have no proof: they offer the full assistance of cooperation of the group to the party if the party can get some proof of the committee’s dalliances with necromancy.

As the party formulated a response they could hear some kind of authority barging their way in downstairs. Elgold told them to flee.

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Necromancy of Questionable Intent

The party slept well but was troubled by fantastical, vivid dreams throughout the night. Morning in the druid’s hut treated them to a strange breakfast of nuts and berries.

On the way out of the druid’s maze the party destroyed a zombified halfling, finding a copper ring with a simple insignia, and another moldy skeleton.

The party resolved to head to the far side of the swamp to the north and destroy whatever evil the druid feels there. The swamp is lacking in skeletons and zombies but is far from hospitible: rough, unstable tussocks of swampgrass are the only means of getting over the stank, filthy and clearly corrupted water.

Sinclaire gladly hitched a ride on Maeve’s back while Cass hops. Fizzle slogs through but, terrifyingly, was swallowed up by a hanging fungus. The party only injured him a little bit in getting him out. Maeve was able to punch through the flesh of the fungus while Sinclaire hit it with magic missles.

The party reached the house. It seemed to have been constructed quickly and recently and is made of stone and wood. It is unremarkable and sits two stories high.

Cass, being small and good at disguises, assumes the appearance of a skunk. In snooping around the windows she clearly sees some creepy necromancy stuff happening at an altar in the rear of the house. She reports back and the party decides to go in.

Assuming they are in for a battle, the party prepares and Fizzle casts Enlarge Person on Meave. His spell doubles in efficacy, making Meave 24ft tall. She taps on the door and grabs the aristocratic-looking half-orc who comes out. The half orce is interrogated. He pleads forgiveness and freedom. Before much meaningful information can be obtained the spell wears off and the half-orc tumbles down twenty feet, hurting his leg. He says something about a book.

The party enters the house and finds the half-orcs late wife in the midst of a flubbed zombification. She is pretty furious. In the ensuing chaos, the half-orc crawls away down some basement stairs and Fizzle manages to turn himself into a squirrel by accident.

The party finds the book; those who clutch it have their minds crowded with dark thoughts and lusts for power. The book is wrapped and bound in cloaks and stowed in Cass’s things.

They loot the house and prepare to give chase into the basement.

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Swamp Explosions

The recent academy grads made their way through the Low Forest. All agreed to help the halfling messenger who exasperatedly begged their help, even if the reward was only mushrooms.

They learned of the skeleton sightings in the forest that terrorized the poor mushroom foragers from the drunken and depressed mayor of the small village. The party bravely entered the forest with a young halfling guide named Brandas.

Near the ravine, Maeve destroyed two skeletons that threatened the party and all noticed the relatively poor “make” of the skeletons: moldy, brittle bones, missing pieces. Even bolder, they forged ahead to the ravine and found traces of poor Jenkins being dragged off by the skeletons.

Sinclaire noticed that the stream in the ravine was filthy and oily and decided to try sparking it. Not only did it ignite, but the fire spread all the way west into the large swamp and triggered a large methane explosion. The party experienced a rain of filth-water and bones.

Brandas, furious about the irresponsible actions, stomped off back to the village. The party decided to take their chances with the “witch” of the forest and see if she could help them with their filth problem (and perhaps the skeleton).

The party walked for an eerily long time along a spiraling path while the mushrooms around them got bigger and bigger and bigger. They came at last to a mushroom hut and knocked. Cass played a trick on Sinclaire which got them both a Hold Person spell from the owner of the hut.

The “witch” turned out to be a powerful druid who had bonded herself to this magically hidden mushroom glade. She’d already spied on the party enough through the animals of the forest to know they meant well. Though angry about the swamp, she was eager to have the party solve the source of the skeleton problem so she didn’t have to risk the lives of any forest animals in doing so.

She graciously fed them a mushroom dinner and helped cleanse them of the swamp muck (though she didn’t see why they found it so offensive). The party decided to spend the night in her hut.

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