Mushroom whiskey and hags
Returning to Bandar Philia
Octorum 8, 887
As the group left the tower, they realized that they still had a rotting corpse following them around, and the magic holding it would soon expire. Sif took it aside, and removed it from the world. They also made their way to the graveyard, where they defaced the symbols in each grave. After verifying that there was no magic still present, they made it to the crossroads where they decided it was a good time to camp. Sharlot created a tiny hut for the heroes to sleep in, while Sif created another for the horses, The wagon would have to survive on its own.
As the group settled in for the night, each of them took the time to care for themselves. Carta picked up his physical training regimen, shouting out each rep as he performed his calisthenics. Durdeg worked with his alchemy set, creating his necessary supplies. The new spellbook pulled Sif in, as she set out to learn what she could. Sharlot strummed her lute, working on new melodies. Kasret considered his bottle, and decided that he would pour himself a drink and see what it was like.
The whiskey went down smooth, and Kasret closed his eyes as he focused on the taste and smell. The drink was quite good, and the effects took hold quickly. Unfortunately, after half an hour had passed, he realized that the whiskey was going to come back up, and he made his way out of the tent. As he staggered away, it finally overcame him, and he fell to his knees retching. The others looked on in concern for their companion, but their concern for him was forgotten within a minute, when a cluster of mushrooms sprouted in the center of the puddle that had been left behind.
The mushrooms grew at a ridiculous rate, and in seconds they were the size of a man. Small holes in the sides of the cap puckered, and a noise began to grow. It grew louder and louder - the horses were growing skittish, and they felt like the sound could be heard for miles. Thinking quickly, they all set out to destroy the mushrooms before they could bring something down upon them. Sif got to them first, dropping a ball of flame in the middle of them, quickly reducing them to charred bits and ash. Everyone calmed down, and Durdeg and Sif sent V6 and the owl out to see if they had been noticed.
The owl spotted torches approaching from the north. Sif sent it closer, and saw what appeared to be a small group of villagers, come to see what the ruckus was. When they arrived, Carta, Sharlot, and Durdeg recognized the leader as the man they had met on the way to the tower. When they explained the problem, and assured the villagers that it would not recur, the man nodded, and waved his fellows back down the road. As they walked away, the party heard him muttering about the problems caused by so-called heroes and adventurers.
The party returned to their beds, and spent an uneventful night.
Octorum 9, 887
The group set out in the morning, looking forward to returning to the city and having a night on soft beds. As they made their way down the road, Kasret took another pull from the bottle of whiskey. He again closed his eyes and relaxed into the feeling of the drink. Again, half an hour later, the effects of the whiskey had passed and it wanted out. He remained in the saddle as he purged it from his body. The rest of the party, unaware he had had another drink, were concerned that this may be an ongoing problem, but they kept riding to stay out of the way of any mushrooms that might sprout. To their surprise, their were no mushrooms - instead, an oak tree sprouted. It grew to full maturity in less than a minute, and then it opened it's eyes and started to walk. The party looked on in shock - they had heard of treants, but had never seen one in person, and were fairly certain that this was not the normal way they were created. They called out to it, and it came over to them. It seemed confused by the whole thing itself, and asked for help finding a forest where it would be more comfortable, preferably one with a lot of oak trees. They gave it directions, and it headed off to the south. They watched it go, and as it faded into the distance, they looked at Kasret. He told them that he had another drink, and it appeared likely that this would happen every time. Each one kept their feelings on the matter to themselves, and they headed on towards town.
They reached Bandar Philia without further incident, crossing over into the river district. They noted that some Tieflings were watching their movements closely, but as they did not approach, the party continued on their way. Carta left for the chapter house for the Knights' Celestial, intending to update them on the status of the tower. The others broke up to return the rented horse and find an inn - without the discount from Sharlot playing, the Golden Arrow was a bit too pricey for them. They found an acceptable place, extracted a promise from Kasret to not drink his whiskey in town, got some food and settled in to relax. Carta caught up with them, and paid each other member 20 gold for their parts in ending the threat from the tower. Completing the quest earned him credit with the knights, but not hard currency, and he felt that his companions deserved that and paid from his own funds.
As night fell, Sif returned to Venfaren's tower, and the rest went to their beds at the inn.
Hags and Fish
Octorum 10, 887
The group gathered in the morning, and prepared to set out to deal with the hags north of the city. Carta had initially intended to remain in the city, but after a discussion, they decided it would be best if he went along. They crossed the river to the west, and found a road that followed the river to the north. They traveled throughout the day, eating a cold lunch in the saddle. Their journey was mostly uninterrupted - the occasional eagle or falcon passed by, and they heard some smaller animals in the brush, but nothing interrupted their journey. As the day grew long, they looked for a good camping spot, eventually deciding on a stretch of ground between the road and the river. They set up camp, and settled into their nightly routine. While Durdeg was brewing a pot of tea, Kasret said he was going to have some whiskey, but he would go well outside of camp. Sharlot went with him, to watch over him and have a close up view of what was going to happen this time.
The familiar effects kicked in, culminating with Kasret retching on the muddy ground. He wiped his mouth as he stumbled away to stand by Sharlot. A minute passed, and a torrent of brown, thin liquid shot into the sky. It reached 30 feet or more before falling back to the ground. The two were covered in the spray, which Kasret tasted and determined was a decent tea. He quickly pulled out a pot and collected some of the liquid, and took it back to the camp. No one was willing to drink it, however, and it went to waste as they turned in for the night.
Octorum 11, 887
As the group closed in on the hags' lair, the pleasant journey began to sour. Dead fish began to show up on the banks of the river. Just a few at first, but the farther they traveled, the more showed up. They rounded a bend in the river, and the trees that bordered the road ended. They saw a long stretch of barren ground between the road and the river. It was littered with dead fish, hundreds of them in various states of decay. In the distance, they saw a hill rising up from the edge of the water. The road swung around the hill, several hundred yards away, and they couldn't see past it. They could make out a figure standing between the river and the sharp slope of the hill. They closed enough to tell that it was a man in full plate armor, holding a sword in front of him, the tip lightly grounded. They held up to discuss what to do.
Sharlot decided for them, when she forged ahead of the group to approach the figure. Durdeg and Carta followed quickly behind, while Sif and Kasret stayed well out of range. The approached the man in what was clearly knightly garb - his arms and armor were brightly polished and he stood straight and tall. His shield showed a coat of arms consisting of a sea snake in the upper left, a ship facing to the right in the top right, a horse on the lower left, a badger in the lower right, and a falcon in the center. As Sharlot approached him, he looked at her and demanded to know her purpose with the sisters. She told him that she wanted to discuss missing people and other problems. The knight then asked what she had to trade, and she offered a custom song. The knight told her that she would need to stand vigil for the night, and he would let her know their response in the morning. Durdeg and Carta arrived shortly after, and Carta squared off with the knight. When questioned, he responded by asking if the sisters were hot - in response, the knight gave a pained look, but did not answer the question. When asked what they had to trade, Carta responded with willingness to quest. He got the same answer, and they settled in to wait.
When night fell, the knight entered the cave, and Sif and Kasret came forward to join the others. They discussed what had happened, then settled in for the night.
Octorum 12, 887
When morning came, the knight returned. He said that the sisters had agreed to discuss terms with the first three. He took Sharlot into the cave, where she was instructed on how to reach the hags and set off to do so. The knight left the cave again, where Kasret and Sif had joined the group. The party was concerned for Sharlot, and wanted to go after her, but the knight threatened that if they entered without permission, they would die. The group huddled up to discuss, and decided they were not going along with this. Attempting to surprise the knight, Kasret used the cover of the others to pull his bands of binding from his pouch. He flung them without looking at the knight, hoping to put a quick end to any resistance. But the attempt failed, and the ball rolled into the cave.
The knight immediately pulled back, firing off an arrow before moving into the cave. The companions followed. As Carta closed in, the water in the pool began to coalesce into something that could rise up from the water and attack, and it attempted to hold the paladin. Kasret came to the door and fired a few shots from his crossbow. Durdeg and V6 reached the entrance, and Durdeg launched his hand from his arm at the knight - it stuck in place, and heat started to radiate from it. Durdeg drew a new hand from his bag and locked it into place. Sif made it just inside the doorway and tasked her owl with finding the bands of binding, while she summoned a flaming sphere to hit both the knight and the weird creature coming from the water.
Rage overcame the knight, and he focused on Sif. The owl found the bands of binding, and picked them up. It flew to Kasret and dropped them just as the knight charged past him. He was able to twist and grab the bands, although it cost him a shot at the knight as he passed. Carta was stuck dealing with the coherent water that was trying to drag him into the pool - he would break free from one strand just to be grabbed again by another. The knight, fury in his eyes, put all of his rage into his attacks on the wizard. He did some damage, but before he could land more than one blow, Kasret had turned and flung the iron bands at him. This time, with a clear shot at the knights back, his aim was true. The ball of metal expanded into a flurry of long iron straps, which wrapped around the knight, pinning his arms and legs. The knight violently struggled against them, but was not strong enough to break free. As the others bypassed him, he gripped his sword tight and looked on in anger.
Carta was being drawn closer to the edge of the water - he was damaging the creature, but it was able to keep grabbing him and pulling him in. With the rest of the group free to help, they were able to quickly put it down. Before they could turn their attention back to the knight, a message broke through into Sif's mind - Sharlot was telling them that she had struck a deal, and if they would let the knight go they could resolve all of this diplomatically. The knight continued to stare at Sif with hate in his eyes, and the group decided not to let him go right now, but also to wait for Sharlot's return.
Sharlot swam up out of the pool of water and climbed out to the rocky floor of the cave. The companions gathered together, to discuss their next move. Sharlot explained that the deal was that, in exchange for Sharlot writing a song about them and spreading it around the world (plus letting their knight live), they would agree to turn away anyone from Bandar Philia. They would still make deals with other supplicants, but they further promised that they would not directly harm anyone. They never did anyway, they claimed, although sometimes their deals may lead to their supplicants harming others. Of course, they reasoned, that was hardly their fault, and the harm probably would have come regardless - their deals may have facilitated some, making it happen sooner, but they were sure just as many of their deals reduced the likelihood of harm in the world.
The others listened, and kept their own opinions on the trustworthiness of hags to themselves. Durdeg was not inclined to agree, while Sif was more willing to hear them out. Kasret stayed out of the discussion, and all eyes turned to Carta. The paladin took it all in, and told them he wanted to commune with his god before deciding. He left the cave, and knelt on the river bank, facing the east and letting the morning sun warm him. The rest of the party waited for him to finish his meditation, mentally preparing to either deal with the hags, or attempt to slay them.
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