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Mon 26th Dec 2022 11:55

Session 10, You Have Betrayed Her Once Again

by Temerity

We are running. We are chasing the large goblin (or was it a demon?). Well, it was definitely a demon. It escaped Vardai’s axe and Dimension Doored itself across the complex. As we are running towards it, I shout out to the party to remember that there was an anti-magic zone in the other area. Oops, I shouldn’t have shouted. Will and Vardai and Julia were trying to be sneaky. Eowyn and I were just trying to get there… loudly. So much for surprise. I am sure all of the dragon cultists we encountered earlier know exactly where we are now!
Will realizes we are about to be ambushed. He peers around the corner and spots several of the cultists… but not the demon. I have just the thing for an ambush! Will looses and arrow and I cast Flaming Sphere. I roll the sphere down the hallway straight into the ambush. The bad guys don’t seem to like that and quickly scamper down the hallway.
Flaming Sphere is a difficult spell for me to use, for several reasons. One, it is more complex than most of my other spells, being one of the more recent spells that I learned. Compared to my cantrips or even my more basic spells, I only have enough focus to cast this spell a few times without sleeping. Second, I can’t control the sphere and command Ember at the same it. It is too much for me to do in so short of a time. Ember will have stay in the back while I focus my efforts on directing where the sphere goes. And, third, it requires me to focus intently on the spell over its duration to hold it. So much so that I can’t cast other spells that have similar concentration requirements, even if I have them prepared. Imagine having to mentally “feel” the spell while still trying to fight the battle. So, I fix the spell firmly in my mind and imagine the sphere as if were an extension of myself, so much so that I barely notice Vardai run right behind the flaming sphere into the nest of cultists.
I hear Eowyn as she demands that the cultists surrender. Does she not realize they are cultist who would rather die than… wait, must focus on the spell.
As this is going on, I register a screaming from the Kitchen area. I can’t decipher who is screaming, that’s a problem for another time. Thugs are running and screaming and burning… yes, burning as they are caught between Vardai’s axe and my Burning Sphere. One cultist is encased in some sort of vines which have him trapped as the vines are actively probing his open mouth and eyes. Wait… I’ve seen this before… Ensnaring Strike. Arrows continue flying from across the way as both Will and Julia are firing quickly. Eowyn is up in an exposed position (something I am used to seeing, but now she is still under the Calm Emotions potion, so Fangclaw is not controlling her (I hope)). A cultist whacks her hard, and she loses a spell she was concentrating on. She attempts to counter with a cantrip, but the thug shrugs off the attack. The cultist boasts, “I reject your knowledge. The Dragon King will not be replaced,” back towards Eowyn.
And… then… CRACK… lighting streaks across the room as Vardai sets off her Javelin of Lightning. I finally get a look into the kitchen as Vardai eviscerates the pre-cauterized cultist. Will asks if I see rats in the Kitchen. Not sure what he’s thinking… rats… come on. I reply, “It’s really some sort of Dog-Bat creature.”
Will shouts, “Is it friendly?”
I respond, sarcastically, “Not if you have blood in your veins.” I later find out from Eowyn it is a Barghest. Some sort of Demon, a feeder of souls. Eowyn will explain that if it takes too much fire damage, it can be banished back to the Abyss. It definitely does not like me. As I try to ram it with my flaming sphere, it charges me.
Ouch! Its bite tears into me. That hurt! I manage to remember my Flaming Sphere and not lose the spell. Julia hits it with her sword. Eowyn, Will, and Vardai rush in. So… it doesn’t like fire, I’ll give it fire! Burning Hands! I aim low to ignite the debris under the creature and encase it in flames. It works! The Barghest screams in panic as demonic hands erupt from the ground and pull it back into the Abyss.
With the fight over, Eowyn explains that the Barghest probably had a contract, where it had to gather fifteen or so goblin souls in order to advance within its hierarchy. Because we sent it back before it had enough souls, it will probably face severe punishment. Eowyn also surmised that the Barghest was summoned by a powerful caster… perhaps the Necromancer! She knows everything!
I go over to a table and sit down, and then Will makes some Goodberries to help me. I use this opportunity to tell Will my lifelong dream (ok, maybe not lifelong)… I want to mix moonshine and goodberries to make the ultimate drink. Will agrees, although he substitutes wine for moonshine. I’m not sure what everyone’s problem is with moonshine… it’s clearly superior to wine in every way (although wine is pretty good too). Eowyn fails to see any value in my proposal. Her loss, I guess.
Will talks to the kobolds who were in the kitchen. The kobolds seem very wary of Julia. Will calms them down by stating something like, “She hasn’t even stabbed me even once,” which makes no sense, because we don’t know whether or not she stabbed the kobolds. The kobolds, however, do seem to calm down. The kobolds were pulled out of their daily lives as miners to follow a red dragon. But, in hushed tones, that they say that they have to follow the green dragon. It is as if they would rather follow the red dragon, but have no choice in the matter. The red dragon isn’t as strong and healthy as he once was. The green dragon might even be controlling the red dragon.
Once the green dragon took over, they (the cultists we presume) started doing experimentations on people’s brains. I’m feeling a little better after consuming some goodberries, and I get involved in the conversation. I ask where we could find the green dragon? The kobolds are not really helpful with that information.
Julia finds the rest of her gear. The kobolds make some potato stew. The stew isn’t terrible. I collect some of the cultist robes and mend them, so that we have disguises in case we have to infiltrate these cultist again. Zez solidifies his claim as the #1 goblin and organizes the remaining goblins. Our work is done here, except for finding the necromancer. Jung head back to Montsilt. Our next task is to return to Etonia to free Eowyn from the demon that possesses her.
As we travel, we have many conversations. One conversation is some nonsense that Will tells of a place called Thorngage Manor. His story wasn’t really that important compared to some of the others. We start to get to know Julia. She is from a place called Coral Gate. She had a disagreement with a former employer, who captured her and had her stuffed in a magical crate, probably using some transmutation type of magic. As we compare stories, we suspect that Bartholomew might have been the one responsible for Julia’s abductions. You remember Bartholomew, don’t you? From the adventure with the Drumbeat Initiative…. He’s the one who was stealing artifacts and got away. He probably used transmutation magic to enter the ruins by moving earth (Session 3, Of Cantrips and Spell Choices).
You are probably wondering what transmutation magic is. Well, you are in luck. I know a little about magic. You see, my mentor, Thornwill, spent some time teaching me about the schools of magic. Schools of magic aren’t as important for Druids as they are for Wizards, but I have to have a basic understanding of how magic works in order to tap it as a Druid. Plus, as I was around some magic users in the Court, I picked up some Lore. The schools are Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation Illusion, Transmutation, and uck, Necromancy. Most of my spells center around Conjuration, Divination, Evocation, and Transmutation. The spell, Flaming Spere, which I had cast in the last fight, is Conjuration. Conjuration allows me to create objects or magical effects where none existed, or to move objects from one location to another. For Flaming Sphere, I am not entirely sure if I conjured the sphere from another plane, or from nothing. Maybe sometime when I have several hours to discuss it, I will ask Eowyn how the conjuration spells actually work. I just know that I call upon my connection to nature and I feel the spell come into existence. Yes, it does require me to speak the appropriate words and make the proper hand gestures, plus the proper materials. I still don’t have a component pouch, so I rely on my holly sprigs to focus the spell without having the proper material. For Flaming Sphere, the material would be some tallow, a pinch of brimstone, and a dusting of powdered iron. Tallow I could pick up at a butcher’s shop or from whenever Will brings back fresh game to eat. Powdered iron I can get from any blacksmith shop from their scrap stock. Brimstone is harder to find. It can usually be found in mines, quarries, or rocky area. Wait, sorry, I digress… we were talking about schools of magic.
The transmutation school is very important to me. That’s how I cast Goodberries. Transmutation changes the properties of one object into another. Yes, it is confusing. You would think that, for goodberries to work, I would have to start with normal berries and transmute them into goodberries. Thornwill did tell me that the first druids who learned to cast goodberries did have to transmute them from actual berries (NOTE: Goodberry as a spell first appears in 2e AD&D PHB (as far as I can tell), and it was Evocation/Alteration, and it did require edible berries). Confusing… I’ll have to ask Eowyn also why a transmutation spell such as Goodberry doesn’t require starting material from which to transmute.
I also told you I know some Divination and Evocation magic. Divination allows me to find out things I otherwise wouldn’t know. Detect Magic is divination, and I use that spell frequently. Evocation… ok… Evocation is really cool! Evocation is the school of booms and blasts (technical terms). Scorching Ray and Burning Hands are Evocation. Enough said.
Apparently, some wizards can specialize in schools of magic, which makes spells of those types even more powerful. Ancient Lore, which is probably anything older than my 20 years of age, said that when a wizard specialized in a school of magic, that wizard lost access to opposing schools of magic. I’m not sure magic works like that anymore.
At some point in the journey, Will asks Eowyn if the green dragon could be the Necromancer. Eowyn thinks a minute and then states that the green dragon could be. She explains that green dragons are known to be shapechangers. Until this point throughout our traveling, Fangclaw has stayed suppressed, and Eowyn has been her normal self. We have one bottle of Calm Emotions potion left. At one point near Treir, Eowyn falls behind the party, tears streaming down her face. She turns away from us and asks Vardai for the remaining potion. Vardai pulls it out and hands it to Eowyn.
Smash! Eowyn takes the potion and breaks it against a rock. What is she doing? Then, in Fangclaw’s voice (really, Eowyn’s voice, but spoken deeper and with more strain), we hear, “You have betrayed her once more.” Really, betrayal? Fangclaw is delusional if it thinks we have betrayed Eowyn.
Will jumps into the fray and asks in a dismissive manner, “Are you talking to me?”
Fangclaw monologues with a bunch of boasts and accusations, “You, Vardai, you betrayed her by giving the potion to Fangclaw instead of Eowyn. She will be tortured by seeing her parents die over and over. Not only that, but Eowyn will watch herself kill her own parents. She will watch Temerity burn entire libraries. She will watch all of you betray her over and over.” Come on, really? I wouldn’t burn entire libraries… just the necromancy books!
Will starts to threaten her, but I stop him. “Remember the seal? It works only as long as we don’t attack or threaten Fangclaw, so watch what you say.” Will backs down.
The remainder of the journey to Etonia is unsufferable. Fangclaw constantly boasts about our betrayals of Eowyn, how she hates us, and how we are weak. Except Vardai, Fangclaw never calls Vardai weak. But Fangclaw otherwise cooperates and doesn’t harm us. As soon as we enter Etonia, we head straight for the temple.
Entering the temple, we begin to doubt if this was the best idea. Paladins are all about, and they would immediately kill Fangclaw, along with Eowyn, if they realized what Fangclaw was. Fortunately, we are able to quickly locate High Priest Edwards and segregate Fangclaw.
The High Priest tells us that a Greater Restoration spell will exorcise Fangclaw. We are surprised, thinking that a spell more along the lines of Remove Curse would be required. That said, we have to figure out how to protect Eowyn and the High Priest from Fangclaw once the demon is expelled. We think and discuss, and then Will asks, “Can’t we use Ember (my Wildfire Spirit) to teleport Eowyn out of the room before Fangclaw can attack her?” Great idea Will! Why didn’t I think of that?
We gather outside the room, and I summon Ember. The High Priest casts Greater Restoration and the demon is expelled from Eowyn. Crap! There’s another person, a young female half-orc in the room! As Ember teleports Eowyn and the High Priest out, Fangclaw, now appearing truly demonic, demands, “Release me, or the sacrifice dies!” Crap! Crap! Crap! I am able to send Ember back in to teleport out the girl. With the hostages removed, now it is just us fighting Fangclaw.