DW Session 43: The Final Expedition
11/4/897 After multiple encounters over the course of a single day, the party was finally teleported back to Noggin by Filip Vikander and allowed to take a much-needed long rest in Mulane College's campus dorms. The party had fought off several waves of sahuagin in downtown Noggin, assisted a wizard in creating a new kraken, and Flora transformed into a human after months in her thri-kreen form. The party reported the details of their mission for Filip to Helena Lockmere and Cassandra Gaspard before passing out for the rest of the night. The party awoke the next day refreshed and healed up after so many grizzly encounters, Jax even cleaned himself enough to spend some quality time with Helena. Beleren shopped around town to resupply on all his roguish essentials: ball-bearings, flour, a flask of oil, and chalk(?). He went with Margaret and Kacie to visit the Smoking Beehive where they all stocked up on healing potions for the fight ahead. Margaret had trouble affording more than one (Chenna Honeypot was selling them for 400GP each), so Kacie agreed to buy one for her to make sure that no more members of the Castellan II died on this adventure. Chenna also displayed a potion she claimed could increase a person's size and power, an item she said would be particularly useful for Jax. The party had several days of downtime before Roland Fireheart and the rest of the coalition fleet arrived in Noggin, so they had time to relax and really take in the college town feel of the city. Helena gave Jax a tour of Mulane College, explaining to him what the campus would be like if classes were in session and an army of sahuagin weren't trying to attack them every week. At the college's mess hall Jax gave Flora the flying broom that he bought from Ozma's nearly a year ago, saying that he'd only ever used it a couple of times on their adventure. Margaret convinced a halfling blacksmith to make her some splint armor to increase her defenses, and Asdis took care of the Iron Flask and her plate armor. One afternoon Jax hiked out into the wilderness several miles away from Noggin and the site of the sahuagin siege. He found a clearing surrounded on all sides by dense foliage, and there he prayed to his nature goddess Yo-Na for guidance and a restoration of his old barbaric powers. A spectral bear appeared before him in the clearing, outlined by the rain pouring off its thick mass of fur. The spectral bear, speaking as Yo-Na, explained how Jax had time and again chosen to pursue political intrigues in the world's cities rather than communing with nature and Yo-Na's power. He could fully embrace the spirit of Yo-Na or he could embrace the Capaldi family name in Sardivelia, but he couldn't do both. Understanding the ultimatum, Jax called up Paoli Piedmonte on his communication ring to tell him their collaboration was over. Jax dropped the ring in the clearing and returned back to Noggin to rejoin the party, leaving his family name and Sardivelian affiliations behind in the clearing. 12/1/897 Roland arrived in Noggin with the massive coalition fleet, swelled by the addition of extra ships from Glace and Avicenna. While the ships resupplied for the mission ahead, Roland held an evening meeting with Cassandra, Helena, Adam, Asdis, and the active-duty members of the RKB. Together they discussed the best way for the RKB to confront the Sunken God and put an end to his reign of terror. Roland explained how with the intelligence gained from Filip Vikander's research on elder brains, the coalition had a better sense of the methods used by the Sunken God to control tens of thousands of sahuagin. These elder brains were set up in towers up and down the Elflands coastline, and it would be the fleet's goal to destroy the towers and disrupt communication among the sahuagin forces. The RKB could join Roland on this mission, using the bombardment of the towers as cover to sail down the Aurelian River from Elwood and make it to Kassadeia. Cassandra told the party about the second option, which involved the party traveling around Polonius Bay by foot and arriving in Kassadeia from the east. They'd be on their own for most of the journey, but with Kacie's scouting skills and Cassandra's detailed maps of the region they shouldn't get lost before making it to the capital. Beleren immediately voted in support of Cassandra's plan, and the rest of the party voiced their agreement. Roland and the coalition's bombardments would be a much-needed distraction on the coasts, pulling forces away from Kassadeia and making it easier for the party to sneak inside the ruins of the city unnoticed. The party would be given several horses but no wagon for their final expedition, and Helena would not be joining them on the final leg. Adam, however, volunteered to join the RKB for one more mission. Cassandra worried that Adam wouldn't make it back alive to take care of their future child, but Adam insisted that he couldn't live with himself if he passed on the opportunity to fight the Sunken face-to-face. Adam saw what the monstrous deity had done to Amara Fireheart and Kassadeia during the New Year's Massacre, and he had to make sure that nobody else would die at the hands of this creature. Cassandra understood, but she still worried about the safety of her husband. Before the party departed for their final fight with the Sunken God, Helena met with the members of the Royal Knights Brigade to discuss their plans after the adventure's end as well as their burial plans should any of them die in combat. Margaret said she'd be interested in joining the Royal Knights Brigade to go on a few more adventures before settling down as a mentor and teacher. Helena assured her that it would definitely be an option, explaining to Margaret her plans to become the leader of the RKB and turn it into a top-notch institution training the next generation of adventurers and heroes. Helena would need veterans like Margaret to train this new batch of fighters. Her conversation with Beleren touched on similar themes, since with Beleren's age he would need to settle down one day and train a new generation on the roguish arts. Perhaps him and Kacie could teach together for the RKB? Helena met with Flora next, who said she was interested in locating the ancient thri-kreen city of Thrah-Kezaam. Helena said she would be skeptical that anybody could ever find this mythic city only ever visited by thri-kreen, but she admitted that Flora's months as a thri-kreen gave her an advantage compared to centuries of explorers before her. Helena told Flora about Tahrir College in Sabha and their prestigious anthropology department, explaining how Queen Astrid could be convinced to allow Flora to study there for several years before chartering an expedition into the Campanel Desert to discover this mythic city once and for all. Finally, Helena met with her boyfriend Jax (no Capaldi, just Jax). He appeared to be uncertain about where he would go after his fight with the Sunken God, mentioning everything from returning to his orcish tribe in the Northern Territories to establishing a new branch of the tribe in the wilderness of Hakon. Helena worried that the two of them were on different paths with Helena's future plans centered heavily on working for the RKB in Gameria, but Jax suggested that he could live out in the mountains and see her in the city every now and then. Helena admitted that she had never expected to meet someone like Jax when she first agreed to join the RKB on their voyage to the Elflands, but she loved the way the two of them filled in each other's differences and balanced out their natures. Let's just say this meeting went on a little longer than the others if you know what I mean. After a Gamerian agent paid them each 1,200GP for their previous missions, the party did their last bits of shopping in Noggin before heading out towards Kassadeia. Jax bought that interesting potion from Chenna's shop, learning that it would cast the spell 'Enlarge' on him for several hours. Beleren also returned one night to have a Shroud meeting with her, explaining how he would continue to serve the group even if he became a mentor for the RKB's next generation. Beleren convinced a skeptical Chenna that this arrangement could help bring the two organizations closer together to pool resources, and he told Chenna about Filip's plans to relocate to a distant island to raise his newborn kraken in peace. It would be difficult, but the Shroud would do well to find a way to keep an eye on this powerful wizard. Finally, the party packed up their belongings and began the weeks-long trek through the ruins of an empire towards Kassadeia and the Sunken God. Jax said 'I love you' before leaving, the first time he had ever said that to anybody. Helena said the same. 12/3/897 The party traveled by horse for several weeks, the skies turning darker and the rain pouring harder as they moved closer and closer towards Kassadeia. At times they found roads washed away by landslides or flooded under ten feet of water, but Kacie's years of navigating the Hakonian wilderness helped them stay on the right paths and avoid roving bands of sahuagin. For days they traveled without seeing any signs of civilization, every village they passed through either abandoned or razed by the sahuagin hordes. Finally the RKB reached the edges of the Golden Forests and spotted the great Kassadeian skyline from just a couple dozen miles away. The party found themselves inside a village full of ruined buildings and flooded streets, skulls arranged in piles at the entrance of every building. Asdis' 'Divine Sense' told her that a significant amount of undead energy permeated the village, so Beleren took Flora and Margaret took with him inside the nearest building to investigate the source of the undead energy. The building turned out to be an inn, its tables overturned and chairs broken in some kind of violent dispute. Margaret, freaked out by all the talk of undead forces, stayed on the first floor while Flora and Beleren went upstairs to investigate the tavern rooms. Almost all the doors were closed except for one room at the hallway. Flora peeked inside and found herself face-to-face with a ghost. The ghost was that of a middle-aged elven woman trying to fold clothes and make a bed. She was merely going through the motions as her movements did nothing to change the scene of destruction in the room with its destroyed dresser and torn garments scattered around the floor. Flora tried asking the ghost about what happened here, but all he got was simple responses about how the inn was booked full for New Year's Eve and that he'd have to go elsewhere if she needed a place to stay. Asking about which New Year's Eve they were talking about, the ghost explained that it was for the New Year's Eve of 896. A sickening feeling hit Flora as she realized that this ghost still thought it was it was the day before the New Year's Massacre that left tens of thousands of elves massacred in Kassadeia. Beleren opened the other doors in the rest of the hallway, finding similar scenes of ghosts performing mundane routines without any reaction from the world around them. Flora felt bad about this ghost, so she tried asking if it had memories of New Year's Day and how it died. But at the mention of death the ghost dropped its facade and transformed into its true ghastly form. The ghost's throat was ripped out, an arm was missing, and deep gashes raked across her body from a sahuagin attack. This was how she had looked on the night of the New Year's Massacre, when the Sunken God's sahuagin horde stormed her inn and killed everybody inside. This ghostly visage frightened Flora so much that she aged twenty years in a matter of seconds, an experience similar to that of Beleren's after facing the ghosts of Chernenko. Flora rushed downstairs to tell the party about what she saw, and together they decided to travel to the village square to see if they could find any more ghosts to talk to about the reason they were still here on the material plane. The village's town hall and temple surrounded a ruined fountain where pieces of a statue floated in the rainwater, but as the party moved forward for a closer inspection they quickly found themselves surrounded by undead. Not ghosts, but a dozen skeletons rising from the ground and shambling towards the RKB. Every skeleton was missing its head. The sheer number of skeletons overwhelemed the party at first, forcing Beleren and Flora and Margaret to retreat inside the temple to escape the undead horde. Jax, Kacie, and Asdis all had a blast hacking their way through multiple skeletons in a matter of seconds, but Adam had the misfortune to fight one skeleton that turned out to be a disguised death slaad in the service of the Sunken God. Taunting the party telepathically, he kept summoning skeletons for the party to face while casting a deadly wave of poison that nearly knocked out Asdis and Adam. Once Jax was finished with the skeletons on the village road he rushed over to the slaad to fight him one-on-one, and after a devastating headshot from Beleren the slaad died and the skeletons stopped rising from the ground. In its dying moments, the monster thanked the party for letting it experience what the Sunken God would do to the RKB. With the undead threat quelled, the party explored the ruins of the village square and found ghosts in every corner. Several ghosts prayed at the destroyed pews inside the temple of the Ageless One, and Beleren spoke with a ghostly receptionist at the town hall about the celebrations prepared for New Year's Eve. The RKB concluded that these ghosts, traumatized by the slaughter of the New Year's Massacre, were living out the final hours of their life on a loop without any way to put their souls to rest. Asdis and Flora were able to tell the sahuagin devastation had desecrated the village so terribly that it would take decades for the region to fully recover, but the party agreed that there was nothing they could do for the time being. With downtown Kassadeia less than a day's ride away, their priority would have to be defeating the Sunken God and saving the rest of the world from the destruction they found here.