DW Session 40: Speleunking in Noggin Report
11/2/897 - 11/4/897 After rescuing the Glacian city of Poroshenko from a invasion of the Sunken God's sahuagin horde, the party began packing for its voyage towards the halfling city of Noggin in the Elflands. The Royal Knights Brigade would set sail a few days before the rest of the coalition fleet, meeting with the surviving members of the Characters and ensuring that the city remained free from the Sunken God's oppression. Most of the northern Elflands' towns like Hedgpeth, Galway, and Oridelfa had already fallen, and the RKB didn't want to see Noggin become the next victim. Flora had a gambling session with Roland Fireheart before sailing for Poroshenko (she lost badly), and Beleren and Kacie performed morning workout sessions to stay in shape for the battle against the Sunken God. Once the party set sail for Noggin, the two-week voyage was mostly uneventful apart from the change in weather. The clouds turned darker and the rain poured harder the closer they got to Kassadeia, to the point where there was a daily deluge by the time they made it to Noggin. A couple of days before landing in port the party came across a shipwrecked vessel, a lone elven woman sitting atop a raft assembled from the flotsam. Flora cast 'Daylight' to illuminate the wreckage, and with Margaret's help they managed to help the woman aboard and feed her for the first time in days. Slowly, the elven woman began to tell her story. Her name was Ariel, and together with her husband Antonio she used to be a high-profile diplomat in Kassadeia entertaining heads of state from all over the world. She was at a party a few blocks away from the Globe Palace on New Year's Eve when hordes of sahuagin erupted through the city sewers and began slaughtering every elf in sight. Tens of thousands of elves died in the days following the New Year's Massacre, and the two of them barely managed to escape for the gnomish city of Galway. For months Galway remained a point of stability in the Elflands while much of the Empire was consumed by the Sunken God's forces, but the neighboring cities like Hedgpeth and Oridelfa began to fall to the monstrous deity's power. Ariel felt hopeful at first when the Sardivelian town of Silvio managed to withstand a weekslong siege, but that hope turned into total despair when the Sunken God began a devastating siege of Galway. She said a sahuagin dressed in dark blue robes destroyed the city gate with a single spell, and after that it was a miracle that her and her husband seized a vessel in time to flee the ruined city. After so much chaos and trauma, the worst was yet to come. Sailing east towards a nation free from the Sunken God's torment, Ariel's ship was capsized and destroyed by a monstrous octopus-shaped sea creature. Everybody on board was either killed or drowned in the wreckage, including her husband Antonio. She thought she would die of thirst and hunger out at sea until the RKB's vessel appeared on the horizon, but after so much loss she was slow to accept that her troubles were at an end. Beleren took all of this information in from a distance, suspicious that Ariel may be a deep scion in disguise. Flora tried to console her with hope that Kassadeia could rebuilt even after so much loss of life, and at night Helena would meet with Ariel to get a better idea of the type of monster that attacked her ship. Helena was able to find a sketch in one of her bestiaries of a squid-like creature that fit its description, a sea creature said to phase in and out of existence after destroying a ship and pilfering its supplies. 11/4/897 Together the RKB arrived in Noggin, the halfling capital of the Elflands Empire and home of the world's largest bard college Mulane. Adam Divisav, bruised and scarred from recent run-ins with sahuagin, welcomed the party with open arms and bonded with his old fighting partner Jax. Adam was dismayed to learn that Cereus had died in Grettir fighting to claim the Iron Flask, but he was pleased to see so many capable fighters and spellcasters in the party. It did give him a moment's pause when he realized that a new generation of fighters had all but replaced the Royal Knights Brigade original group. Together they headed towards Mulane the bard college to meet with Cassandra Gaspard, visibly pregnant with Adam's child, to discuss Noggin's fortifications. Cassandra explained how the Characters were establishing Mulane as their base of operations, assembling makeshift walls and barriers around the college buildings and assigning guards to patrol the rooftops 24/7. Noggin's eastern wall leading towards mainland Elflands was reinforced, and spells had been cast by the college's more powerful bards to defend the town. Most of the college's student body had been moved out of Noggin to protect them from a worst-case invasion scenario, but much of the school's faculty was working overtime to keep the college and city at large defended against the Sunken God's horde. Pleased with the report, Flora and Beleren went together to explore the town and find out what they could about the general mood. Flora was shocked to discover that there weren't any major shops in town, especially when some of the Characters agents admitted that they had never heard of Erivo. To prove that her patron deity was the world's best and most powerful goddess, Flora cast 'Control Weather' on a daily basis to banish the constant rainfall and turn Noggin into a sunny paradise. Later that day Flora went with Beleren to an herbalist's shop that sold tobacco in the back (ie it was a Shroud field office). Beleren couldn't discuss Shroud business with Flora in tow, but he did buy an herbalism kit from the shopkeeper at a steep price to experiment with different kinds of poisons. Once the two of them had seen their fill of the city, they returned to Mulane College where bards and Characters agents were assembling in the campus green playing music and having dinner for the night. Beleren admitted to Flora how thankful he was to have her on the team to protect them in the fight against the Sunken God, but Flora reassured him that he was just as valuable in the group as anybody else in the party. The next morning the party woke up and split up to do different tasks around Noggin. Jax and Helana helped Cassandra coordinate their forces with the Gamerian fleet set to arrive in a matter of days, and Beleren and Flora surveyed the town's sewers system to ensure that Noggin didn't experience the same fate as Hedgpeth or Poroshenko. For the first few hours they didn't notice anything unusual apart from some ancient murals dating back to the Myltev Empire of the 2nd Cycle that for thousands of years controlled all of Pescaliat. A winged creature nearly ate Flora's face off, but Beleren's sharp shooting felled the monster before she passed out. Then the two of them came across the ugliest sahuagin they had ever seen. It was like the creature's head had been torn off and attached to a set of feet, scurrying around the room while it hissed at Beleren and Flora. Neither of them decided to fight it, watching with disgust as it ran down a darkened tunnel past the wall of murals. Flora's 'Light' cantrip helped illuminate much of the tunnel system, her armor glowing with a golden radiance while she tossed glowing bricks into some of the darker tunnels nearby. As one brick's light enveloped a room and revealed its interior, Beleren and Flora were nearly frozen in terror as disturbingly realistic image of the Sunken God were painted into the room's back wall. More deformed sahuagin scurried in the room's shadows, hissing at the interloping adventurers. It took all of Beleren and Flora's strength of mind to escape the tunnels in one piece. It felt for a moment like a spell was trying to keep the two of them trapped in the hallway, but they both resisted its effect and fled for the entrance. Flora cast a blade barrier behind them to stop any of the sahuagin from following them, and together they ran back to Mulane College to tell Cassandra about everything they'd seen. Concerned by these developments, she agreed to have Jax and the rest of the RKB travel down into the tunnels to eliminate whatever monster was lurking there.