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Rationalizations, realizations, and retribution

General Summary


Octorum 12, 887

As Carta communed with his God and his conscience, the others discussed what to do. Sharlot was the only one who had met the hags, and was inclined to deal with them. They were friendly enough to her, she believed them when they said they hadn't directly hurt anyone, and she believed that they could not be responsible for every little thing. All they wanted was a song, and if she could stop them from harming the people of Bandar Philia for such a low price, why risk anyone's life today?

Sif leaned towards Sharlot's viewpoint - not unexpected, as follower's of Kolero. Kolero preached personal responsibility, and staying out of other's business seemed a reasonable part of it. However, she had enough experience in the effects of magic that she worried about any deal with hags, no matter how seemingly benign.

Early on, Durdeg had decided that the only way to deal with the hag problem was to completely deal with it. Sometimes, beings are inherently evil, and should be exterminated on sight. He felt that he was qualified to make that determination, and the knowledge that these were hags was enough for him to make it.

Kasret, meanwhile, wanted to take advantage of their captive. They had a bound man, a deep pool of water, and a number of questions - the solution seemed obvious. He was not necessarily averse to a diplomatic solution, but neither was he averse to ending the problem permanently.

Carta had finished his meditation on the beach - he did not pass on what knowledge he had gained, but he was ready to rejoin the discussion. He felt that he had to uphold the pillars of Adalci - Good, Justice, and Mercy. The question was what was mercy here, and what was justice? If justice was to destroy the hags, then it would be his responsibility to dispense it, but did they deserve mercy?

They all would be better served by answers, and turned to the knight, still bound. Perhaps he held the key.


The group worked on how to question the knight. A zone of truth seemed to be the most expedient way - Sharlot could monitor him and let them know when he was able to resist the magic. Sif took point, and soon discovered that whatever had caused the man to hate her hadn't completed faded. He was calmer, and held his sword point grounded (as no one had wanted to get close enough to disarm him), but he spit in her face when she questioned him.

Durdeg took over, and the knight was able to speak to him. They confirmed, at least, that the hags were truthful in that they hadn't directly harmed anyone. They made deals to their own benefit, without a doubt, but they always fulfilled the terms. For a moment, the side of diplomacy seemed to have a chance to win.

The questioning turned from the hags to the knight's specific reason's for serving them. He gave his name as Edrin Wills, previously in service to a minor lord in Scafford. He had been trying to find news of his daughters for thirteen years. They were stolen from him on the day of their birth, and he has put all of his extra time and money to chasing down leads. He had given them up as lost, when he heard of the hag Arageth. He had nothing left to lose, so he went to her and asked for her help. She agreed to help him, if he would guard her for the next year and a day. With nothing left to lose, he agreed.

The group thought of this story, and began to piece things together. A pragmatic question about how to get in to the hags told them that this was not where he originally met her, and the beginning of the story conspicuously does not refer to the sisters, just the single hag. The heroes from across the sea did not know much, as hags were generally not known there, but the others remembered the tales of hags plotting long term to get things they want. A bit of magical lore was remembered, that hags created more of themselves from young women. An uncomfortable idea began to occur to each of them, though they couldn't discuss it in front of the knight. They knew of his ring of water breathing, so the idea of burying him was discussed briefly, making Kasret wonder how that was better than his plan for questioning.

Ultimately, they decided to have the knight go to talk with the hags and ask if they could speak to them out here, to give them time alone and to get more information. They let him go, and he kept his word, entering the pool and disappearing from sight. They had all come to the conclusion that the newest hags were the knight's daughters - no proof at this point, but they knew it in their guts. Sharlot said that they couldn't do anything about the girls now, and the rest agreed, but they also agreed that that didn't mean much if they were kidnapping children. They couldn't be sure of this yet, of course, but it seemed far too likely.

Eventually, the knight came back. He handed a water proof scroll case over to Sharlot - the tales of glory the hags would like memorialized. As Sharlot read the story of Arageth, Billa, and Skella, her doubts were erased.


Unable to speak, and afraid of the effect on Edrin if she did, Sharlot passed the note around to the group. The terms of the discussion changed - no longer was the question whether they should deal, but what options they had. First, what should they tell Edrin. As a group, they finally decided that they had to tell him. They showed him the note - watched and helped as he realized that the younger sisters were his daughters, his wife had given the children away in order to have any at all, and Arageth was responsible through her deals for his wife being barren in the first place. He thought about how he had lived his life since then - how rather than hold on to her and embrace love, he had hurt her and turned his back on her, seeking vengeance.

Edrin walked from the cave, and Carta stayed with him. Staring at the water, Edrin lifted his greatsword, one hand on the hilt and one on the blade. He raised it parallel to the ground, and found a gap between his helm and armor to rest the edge against his throat. Carta attempted to speak, but Edrin ignored him and drew the weapon across his throat. He collapsed, his heart pumping the life from his jugular. Carta grabbed him as he hit his knees, channeling the mercy and justice of Adalci into the man, closing the wound. Edrin sobbed, his sword still gripped tightly, and looked accusingly at Carta. He peeled off his gauntlet, revealing an iron ring with a mother of pearl carving on top. He pulled that off and cast it to the ground and tried to dive in the river. Carta again stopped him, and he broke down, kneeling and crying silently.

The heroes didn't know how to proceed. They couldn't make it in - Edrin had already made it clear that the hags would prevent them from getting in through the water passage.They began to consider that the deal might be the best they could do, when Kasret remembered General Hannib Al'Barca and his legendary assault over the mountains of Arla. "If only we had some vinegar," he mused. The General had used vinegar and intense heat to corrode the rock that blocked his passage through the mountain passes. Once done, they could clear a passage big enough to accommodate the war mammoths he had brought.

Durdeg lifted his jug of alchemy and smiled. The group gathered outside the cave and outside the hearing of the hags. They reviewed what they had and the plan took shape. Durdeg's jug could create two gallons of strong vinegar. Sif could create a magical sphere of flame that she could press against the rock, heating it quickly over the course of a minute. Carta had block and tackle and Durdeg had enough smithing tools and pitons that they could drive chains into the wall and pull out. The immovable rob was the ideal anchor for the block and tackle, and Sharlot's skills with the animals let her get the horses to pull. With the plan set, they entered the cave and quickly set to work. Edrin was on his feet again, although clearly in poor shape, by this point, and agreed to help.

With the sphere in place and heating the back wall of the cave, the group finsihed the rest of what they could do while they waited. They knew the hags had to have some idea of what they were doing. As the flaming sphere had almost burned itself out, the party heard clattering of claws on stone, and a squeaking noise that sounded almost like questions. "Did-a-chick? Dud-a-chum?" They turned to look at the pool, just in time to see four lobstrosities claw their way out. The group had grown in experience since the last time they saw these, and they were not worried. Durdeg focused on getting the vinegar onto the wall, while the rest converged on beasts. With little problem they dispatched them, although they seemed to just be a delaying tactic. One of the hags lifted her head above the water, and asked what the group was doing. She told them that they would die if they did not stop, but they could negotiate. The water itself rose with her at this point, coalescing into two columns of elemental power.

The time for negotiating was long past, and Durdeg had finished off the vinegar. He lashed out with his thorny whip, wrapping it around the neck of the disgusting hag. He pulled her to the edge of the water, when V6 was able to grab her and pull her to land. Everyone turned their focus to the new threat. The hag quickly turned V6 into a fish, and was able to escape back into the water. Carta jumped for her and tried to grab her before she got away, but was a moment too late. The water elementals swirled, trying to drown Sif and Sharlot, but unable to overwhelm them. They did their job of covering the escape of the hag, however, and while they completely destroyed one, the other slipped into a crack in the ground and moved away.

Quickly, they returned to their work. They drove the pitons into the rock, connected the chains, and set the horses to pulling. With an ear bursting crash, the rock came crashing to the ground. When the dust cleared, they could see back into a chamber behind them. the gap was small - enough to reach an arm in, but not nearly enough to pass through. Waiting for them on the other side was the hideous face of a hag - long, stringy green hair that smelled like week dead fish, skin of a drowned corpse, and disturbing eyes that bored into them. She reached out and a blot of lightning flew from her fingers, striking Durdeg and Eldrin. Eldrin could not take it any longer, and still smoking from the lightning, he fled the cave.

The heroes tried widening the gap while a short magic duel ensued. Sif attempted a fireball, but the hags were ready and countered, causing the spell to fizzle. The hags responded by one lending her eye a terrible aspect, staring down Durdeg and causing him to flee in terror. The effect ended at the caves edge, though, and he was soon to return. Sif attempted a flaming sphere, which the hags nullified again. One of them looked in, and caused all of the detritus in the cave to gather together, making a twisted simulacrum of Carta. It traded blows with the true paladin, before Durdeg and V6 combined to drive it into the water, where it fell apart.

The worst of the magic fell on V6, as the hags somehow snuffed the animating force from the mechanical beast. Sif was finally able to get a flaming sphere present in their room - they heard cursing, so they knew it did some damage, but the true use was blocking the gap and beginning to heat the rock. The hags were cut off, unable to throw any more spells, and although they had no more vinegar, they knew they were close enough to break through. Kasret attempted punching the wall, to little effect, and Carta found a crowbar to try chipping away at the stone. As they continued to work on the wall to little effect, they heard the hags whisper yelling from the other side. They quickly figured out that the hags were packing up to leave, and knew they were running out of time. Durdeg drank his potion of giant strength, and Carta directed him to the cracks in the rock. With Durdeg's prosthetic arm hammering at the rock, chunks fell away. Sif moved the sphere in preparation for breaking through, and the group saw the hags gathered around a cauldron. Knowing they were about to be caught, they dumped the cauldron in a wave of viscous, foul smelling liquid flowing towards the opening. They fled from view, just as the last of the rock came tumbling down.

No one could reach them before they could get in the water, but Sif had one more shot. The flaming sphere rolled in front of the hags, slightly slowing them, and allowing her the time to reach into Aregeth's mind and drive a spike of her power deep inside. The hag screamed as the sliver burrowed in. The hags escaped into the water, diving deeper than the heroes could go, but Sif could track them splinter she had placed. As they swam out of reach, the heroes paused to breathe. They tried to figure out what the hags were doing, but it was unclear. They got a sample of the viscous ooze, and found a jar full of wasps. They made a cursory search, but with every moment, the hags were getting farther away.

They left the cave and came across the body of Edrin. He had finally been able to end his life with his greatsword, and he laid in a puddle of his own blood. The group took the sword and scabbard with them and started to follow the hags from above ground. They were headed to the west, up the slowly rising land towards the hills of the Aureum  a bit to the north and the Aegrus Badlands to the west. The wagon was left behind, and the heroes rode their horses as hard as they could chasing the hags. Over half an hour passed, and they were gaining, when the hags finally came back up to ground level in Sif's mind link. They slowed, and the party knew they would catch them soon. Spurring every bit of speed out of the horses, they ran down their prey. Cresting a rise, they saw their quarry. It was only Agareth - at some point she had split from her daughters. They charged, and as they reached her she stumbled to the ground. Exhausted from the chase, she curled up before them. The heroes surrounded her, horses lamed from the extended run, and leveled their weapons.

Report Date
10 Jan 2021

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Cover image: by Chance Rose


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