The Shadow of Chaos

Session 17: Hostage Negotiation

Following the surprise assault on Gazeshore, the party, victorious, began to rush about the aftermath of the battle. Gilly, along with the Empthery rushing to the scene, began putting out the fires on huts. Donald, with the assistance of two Empthery, healed many of those who recieved near mortal wounds in the battle, drastically decreasing the number of soldiers claimed in the assault.

About ten minutes into this endeavor, Wilhelm noticed smoke rising from the direction of the inn. He, Lilthic, and Melissa ran and found the inn billowing in flames; the first floor was nearly devoured by the fire and the second  was beginning to burn as well. Lilthic immediately ran upstairs to get his belongings. Wilhelm ran into the flames. As the heat seared his skin, he searched for and eventually found a large barrel of water behind the bar. With his magic, he swirled the water about, slowly, but surely dosing the flames before they could do any major damage to the inn's structure or the party's goods. He and Melissa searched the area and found a single, burnt out torch that had been thrown down on the ground. 

The remaining parties members arrived soon after, as did Viala. Viala dismissed the inn's attack, stating that the Yuan-Ti may have learned of the party, or they may have just assumed important guests may have been staying in it. She stated the that Yuan-Ti had attacked on three fronts, with the largest being at the center, and the Empthery at the flanks had fared very well. However, the Yuan-Ti's goal was not to pillage; it was a cover. During the attack, they kidnapped around 30 Empthery. This was all the more troubling when Gilly informed the party that the creation of a Yuan-Ti Anathema required the creature to bathe in the blood of its enemies.

Given that the ritual was not to take place until the first full moon of the new year, which was several months away, Viala could not understand why the Yuan-Ti would attack now. She left to go research the matter in her home. Corsairiph mentioned that someone ought to warn Telos against a possible assault; he volunteered to use the Pocket Bubble in Gath to transport himself to Telos, despite the dangers of traveling through one.

Meanwhile, the party went to the residencies where the Yuan-Ti had kidnapped the Empthery. Gilly discerned that the Empthery had gone directly west; Wilhelm sent his owl to scout, then went to speak with Viala about the possibility of sending out Empthery to reclaim the hostages. Viala stated that the party would be most capable for the task and that she could not spare many Empthery, as many were wounded and she needed to guard against as future attack.

While Wilhelm was gone, Donald mentioned the posibilty that Viala orchestrated the burning of the inn to erase any hesitation the party may have about attacking the Yuan-Ti. Additionally, it was possible that the Yuan-Ti and Viala were working together for some ulterior purpose. While the party did not outright dismiss the idea, they agreed to keep it in mind but to prioritize the hostages.

Lilthic, Melissa, Donald, and Gilly began searching through the residence for signs of how the hostages may have been taken. Melissa noticed paired footprints and dragmarks on the ground, indicating that some hostages were drug along, but others followed willing, or at least on foot. When Wilhelm returned, they agreed to go after the hostages, whom Viala suggested may be getting led to the river. Wilhelm's owl returned to confirm that the Yuan-Ti were now heading east, toward the river.

They found Viala and asked her for aid, and in a half hour, she was able to find a few soldiers to accompany the party, one of whom was Tarvish, the Empthery Donald, Gilly, and Lilthic had spoken to the previous day.

With the aid of Gilly's keen tracking abilities, the party was able to follow the Empthery even at a breakneck pace. They traveled for two hours at their limit, and as they crested a hilltop, they saw a river, a boat, and fifteen Yuan-Ti leading Empthery towards the vessel. Some Empthery were stuffed in bags while others were following under the influence of a Suggestion spell.

The group of ten managed to sneak up on the Yuan-Ti unnoticed. While Donald destroyed the ramp to the boat, the rest of the party attacked the unsuspecting Yuan-Ti. The party made short work of the Yuan-Ti and freed the prisoners. 

 

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Session 16: Assault on Gazeshore

Weary from the battles and negotiations that the day had brought, the party went about their own devices following their six hour negotiation with Viala. Most went to sleep immediately, or two spend time in their respective rooms. Only Gilly and Wilhelm did anything of note; the former memorized the maps which Viala had given for their review and Wilhelm began the long process of fully fixing the Companion Cube.

Early in the morning, before the lights in the sky had begun to shine again, the party awoke hearing a distant but growing conflict. Donald could see a small conflict in the farmlands from his window, but Wilhelm looked out his window, which overlooked the residencies, and was able to make out fires, battle, and snake people: the Yuan-Ti.

 Wilhelm woke Marcellus, and after a minute, the two had gathered their weapons. Lilthic was waiting in the hallway to speak to Wilhelm about something, but when Wilhelm conveyed the urgency of the situation, Lilthic followed him and Marcellus out of the inn.

Meanwhile, both Donald and Melissa, who had misjudged the urgency of the battle, began strapping on their armor, with the assistance of the three ghosts. Corsairiph also left his room a little late, but after checking in on both Melissa and Donald, went off towards the battle.

As Wilhelm, Lilthic, and Marcellus left the inn, they were met by Viala, who was coming out of her home to investigate the conflict. Though the battle was initially blocked by the inner wall of Gazeshore, the four quickly came to the opening where they saw not three hundred feet away the fires and the battle, and they broke out into a sprint.

Lilthic, who was faster than the rest, and Wilhelm, whose spells had recently taken an exceptionally long range, were able to engage in the battle soonest. As they neared, they saw a horde of Yuan-Ti Broodguards under the command of Malisons and a Nightmare Speaker. The Empthery guards who had been at the conflict from the start were nearly exhausted. Among the fray, they also saw Gilly.

Gilly had fallen asleep in her armor and began running the moment she heard the conflict. On her own, she had been slowing the Yuan-Ti's advance, but now, as the Empthery on the front lines were falling and the Yuan-Ti were turning their eyes to the halfling archer, she was beginning to fall back.

As Wilhelm, Marcellus, Lilthic, and Viala (along with some Empthery she called to her aid) joined Gilly on the battlefield, the tide of the battle slowly began to turn into the favor of the party; Gilly held at bay the Yuan-Ti forces who were attempting to flank the party; Lilthic engaged the front line of brood guards, and Wilhelm, Marcellus and Viala provided support with their ranged spells and area of effect magic.

As the battle waned, Marcellus and Gilly fell (later healed by Corsairiph), but, ultimately Wilhelm dealt a killing blow to Nightmare Speaker with his magic missile while she futilely tried to hide behind the fallen bodies on the battlefield, and Viala bared her claws and teeth as she took to shredding the opponents still on the battlefield, showing the party that the claws on her face could be used for burrowing into an opponent's flesh.

In the aftermath of the conflict, Viala left to survey the rest of her colony while the party stayed behind to rest and recooperate. Donald, who arrived as the fight was ending, tended to the Empthery who had fallen, saving several who would have otherwise died.

As they stood among the dead, the ghosts appeared. Rienna yelled "She's coming!", and the three fled into Melissa, Donald, and Corsairiph. Several moments passed. Then, a faint whisper, noticeable only to those possessed by the ghosts, filled the air, increasing to a horrible, vapid howling shriek. Dread overcame the possessed. Then, the felt a tug; something pulling upon the ghosts inhabiting them. Corsairiph and Melissa were able to keep the ghosts inside of them with the strength of their sanity. For Donald, however, it was too much, and he reflexively tried to cast out Avi, who inhabited him; but she kept her hold on him. The dread howl grew fainter, and the oppressive darkness lightened. One could only assume that Dendar, the Night Serpent, God of the Yuan-Ti had come and passed.

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Session 15: Rules of Negotiation

After a long morning that proved nearly fatal on several occasions, the party found the deadline for their meeting with Viala nearing and their plan for said meeting underdeveloped. On top of that, a half hour from the meeting itself, Marcellus came to the party, and declared that after learning what evils Viala was inflicting on the Empthery – and learning that one Empthery was his still living mother – he wished to come up with some plan to free the Empthery.

There was little time to discuss this proposition, as an Empthery shortly after appeared at the door with a letter from Viala which contained the rules and procedures for negotiating Kaorti culture. By the Kaorti Negotiating Customs, Corsairiph inferred that the negotiation with Viala has already begun. If the party were to cancel or delay it, as they were currently planning, their ability to negotiate further would be either at Viala's mercy or forfeit altogether.

With this  in mind, the party was forced to table any discussion of how to manipulate Viala into freeing the Empthery and save that discussion for a later day when they had more leverage. In the meantime, the focus would be securing food for the settlement.

Donald, Wilhelm, and Corsairiph were selected as those who would directly negotiate with Viala as the Prime Negotiators, while the rest of the party would act as secondaries – advisors, if you will. Viala greeted the party, and invited them into negotiations. Viala began by questioning who exactly the party was, though she was mostly satisfied with Donald's answer of a 'dwarf', then moved more quickly into what they wanted and what it was that they could offer for it.

Corsairiph began by mentioning how their own blacksmith had unique designs which could be sold and taught to those in Gath. Viala was underwhelmed by this, while interested, and stated that if she was to take the risk of opening trade with an unknown race, she would need something more enticing. Donald, also in an attempt to stall negotiations so that they could have more time to discuss amongst themselves, mentioned the possibility of a slave revolt. Though trying to pass it off as an idea they were not considering, Viala seemed suspicious and grew noticeably more hostile. Her secondary negotiator, Sariah, suggested that negotiations cease altogether. Viala did not respond. Fortunately, the party realized this was a trap to get them to break the rules of negotiation.

Donald, Wilhelm, and Corsairiph together managed to calm down Viala's suspicions. Then, Viala offered a proposal of her own; in order to build trust, she wanted the party to undertake a task which would be to their mutual benefit.

In the woods, the race known as the Yuan-Ti were beginning a ritual to create a Yuan-Ti Anathema, which Gilly recognized to be a nearly divine creature which, when created, had a tendency to forge empires. In exchange for stopping this ritual, she would open trade with the settlement as well as provide a credit balance which the settlement could use on goods from Gath. Corsairiph thought this to be a very good deal, but Donald declared that, if the Empthery could defeat the Yuan-Ti as Viala claimed they could, it was clear the party wasn't needed at all. Corsairiph began to reprimand Donald, but then Marcellus whispered a Suggestion spell into his ear that he go along with what Donald said.

For the first time in the conversation, Viala's imposing control lapsed, and she increased her reward as well as offered the party a small amount of free assistance from her militia if they accepted to do this. After a decent amount of time discussing, the party agreed. Viala did add one more condition – that she be the ambassador to the settlement from here on out, to which the party agreed after some attempts to not.

Corsairiph and Viala spent the next several hours writing the Trade Agreement Between Gazeshore and the Colony at Telos. Viala provided two maps, one of the woods and one of the Yuan-Ti settlement, and then the party bid goodnight, and returned to the inn to rest and to plan at dawn.

 

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Session 14: Sleeping, Shopping, Touring and Sleeping

After narrowly escaping the clutches of the Gazebo Alpha, the party reached the shore by the fishing docks in Gath. Wilhelm immediately leapt off the boat and ran to his room in the inn to begin work on the Companion Cube, followed by Corsairiph. The others remained at the dock while Donald healed their injuries, but they followed quickly, as they felt the mental strain of the Realm of Chaos, a result of being near the edge of the companion cube's range.

While Gilly and Lilthic went to their rooms, the others went to find Wilhelm. Donald, after making sure he would not interrupt a critical part of Wilhelm's work, spun Wilhelm around and confronted him; during the battle with the Gazebo Alpha, Gilly was lying unconscious, yet Wilhelm stepped over her body to grab another of the tentacles instead of healing her. Wilhelm cut the conversation short, explaining that he was not a healer and that they had a mission and that, right now, he needed to work on the companion cube. Donald stormed out of the room and went to his own quarters.

Over the course of the hour, in which Wilhelm managed to stabilize but not fully repair the companion cube, the party rested and convened to discuss their plans between now and their meeting with Viala. Marcellus declared that he would like to go out on his own, and then left. The remainder of the party decided to look around the town.

They began with the marketplace. While more of a trading post, it did have a few items that posed minor interest to the party; Wilhelm bought some vials, Gilly fishing equipment, and Corsairiph spent time parusing the weapons while also testing their quality to see if smithing was a capability the colony at Telos could offer; he did determine that, in Gath, anyway, the capabilities could certainly be improved.

They then walked northwest, and soon heard whips cracking, followed by moans which came from a tall rectangular structure enclosed in stone; they had found the torture grounds of Gath. Wilhelm did not wish to see what was inside that structure, so he continued on his way, followed by Melissa and Corsairiph.

Donald, Gilly, and Lilthic stayed, however, and climbed a ladder onto the plaform. Inside the enclosed space were six Empthery crawling on the ground – four of whom were in the boat that aided the party that morning. Two Empthrax – one of whom was Bator – were lording over them with notched whips, striking the Empthery when they tried to rise, or fell, or stopped moving.

The three debated what to do, but Donald ultimately suggested the ghosts possess the Empthrax and let the Empthery free. Soon after, Rienna appeared behind Bator and attempted to possess him. She failed, and Bator turned on her with his whip. While taking several repeated strikes, Rienna tried multiple times to signal the party to look away, finally succeeding, and then used her Horrifying Visage against Bator and the other Empthrax. While the later resisted, Bator fled in terror, and his body aged decades. Rienna fled, leaving Bator curled up against the wall, still weeping in terror. At a loss, the other Empthrax went to find Viala.

The Empthery quickly fell off their knees, relieved to have reprieved, but only one seemed remotely interested in engaging the party – a younger looking Empthery named Tarvish, who had been on the boat that helped the party earlier that day. He explained that the Empthrax in charge of the docks considered his claim that they had helped the party a lie, and that was enough to sent them to the torture grounds; there was a quota that needed to be met, so it was standard for small offenses to land one in the ground. Tarvish himself claims to have been tortured 10 times over the last month. When Donald asked if Tarvish had ever considered revolting, he plainly lied as he said "Of course not, that would be stupid". Gilly attempted to convince Tarvish and the others to escape, but they declined, not wishing to earn Viala's wrath.

When Viala arrived, she apologized for any inconvenience to the party, then went to examine Bator. She whispered something in his ear, then told the other Empthrax that Bator would be among the tortured today. As she left, she told the party that it seemed Wilhelm appeared to have been injured, and that he was in the inn.

Meanwhile, Wilhelm, Melissa and Corsairiph made their way to what the found to be the cemetery. The land was bare of vegetation. In the far end, there were gravestones, but the rest was a common burial plot. Many of the graves had been upturned, and bones littered the cemetery. The three walked through it to look at the gravestones, finding that most were written in common, and many were upturned. One of the upturned graves belong to Mark Karelli, who died at age 36 ten years before the Shadow of Chaos.

As they were walking about, Corsairiph notices a white, spectral woman rising out of the burial ground; she rushed forward and let out a harsh, loud, shriek that racked the three's minds and bodies with pain, and Wilhelm, still injured from the encounter with the Gazebo's, fell. Melissa and Corsairiph scrambled, struggling with their fear of this creature and their desire to stay and help their friend. Melissa tried to stabilized Wilhelm, but could not. Corsairiph, who originaly was going to run, turned back to bring Wilhelm back to consciousness. As the three began to flee, another banshee appeared, quickly making her way to them. Corsairiph and Melissa ran around to the entrance while Wilhelm scrambled over the wall. They all made it out, but as they did, the banshee unleashed another scream, felling Wilhelm once more.

Melissa and Corsairiph rushed Wilhelm back to the inn after stabilizing him. On they way, Viala saw them; she asked the Empthrax, Siarah, who ran the trading post, to give Wilhelm a healing drought to bring him to consciousness. The three then went back into the inn to regain their breath.

Not two minutes later, Donald, Gilly, and Lilthic burst into the inn asking for Wilhelm. Wilhelm, having gone unconscious three times in the past three hours, was nearing his breaking point. He suddenly burst out a stream of apologized to Gilly for not tending to her when she was unconscious; he knows how it feels now and he never should have prioritized the tentacles over her. He then went upstairs to sleep, leaving Gilly rather confused, until Donald explained how Wilhelm had been a jerk. 

An hour and a half later, at around 11:30, Marcellus returned, and the party assembled to talk about their rapidly approaching meeting with Viala. As the conversation began, Marcellus quickly interjected, raising his head to reveal hateful eyes red from crying. While on his own, he had asked around the town and found that one of his family still lived; his mother. He had learned of the torture Viala had inflicted upon the town and upon his mother, and he declared he had a goal for the the meeting: force Viala to free the Empthery, and to rule them henceforth fairly, justly, and kindly.

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Session 13: Gazebos and Their Alpha

The party has arrived in the town of Gath. After signaling Man, one of their ghost allies, to possess the body of the Empthrax Borton, the party was able to secure entry into the town as well as gain an audience with the town's leader.

Entering the house, the party found themselves face to face with an Empkaori. Though humanoid in her form, her skin was black as polished onyx. Along her limps, the skin would form into circlets up to two inches high and her hands were nearly formed into claws. Where her face would be, there were interlocking claws instead, party only to show her eyes, that ran from her chin up to her hairline. She introduced herself: Viala, Lady Overseer of Gazeshore.

Viala welcomed the party to her town as honored guests. Though she was certain they had come for a reason, she offered to treat them to dinner and a place to stay for the evening and then speak with them the following morning, as was custom among the Empthery.

Viala treated them to a dinner of deer meat, along with several vegetables, all cooked well. As the meal progressed, she spoke at length about the town, mostly trivial things, and avoided asking the party much beyond the basics about who they were and where they were from. During the conversation, she mentioned that one of the chief products of Gazeshore was an electrical cloak made from the tentacles of a Gazebo, an electrical jellyfish that now inhabits the lake which borders the town. She mentioned that there was one creature in the lake called a Gazebo Alpha, which spawned the other Gazebos, and that it's tentacles would make a much more powerful cloak if harvested.

Following the meal, the party went to the currently vacant inn to spend the night and began discussing their next steps; what could they offer to Viala, what may happen if they couldn't offer anything, and whether Viala would have anything to offer them. An idea was also tossed out by Donald that perhaps they could free the Empthery slaves. Ultimately, the party agreed to scout out the town in the morning.

After this conversation, Lilthic met with Corsairiph, and tried to get Corsairiph to support him in getting the rest of the party to try and gather tentacles from the Gazebo Alpha and make a more powerful cloak. Despite normally jumping on any opportunity to get money, Corsairiph was hesitant, wanting to know how this would help them restore order. Lilthic convinced him that it would strengthen their bargaining power with Viala, and the two in turn convinced the rest of the party.

At dawn, the party made their way to the lake, only to find it was an ooze like substance, which the Gazebos would rise to feed upon, that was dangerous to even touch, let alone enter. Several Empthery with bows, spears, and fishing rods were reading boats. Lilthic spoke to the dockmaster, and then Viala, who stated the previous evening that she watches the expeditions from the lakeshore, to secure two boats for the party.

The party followed two Empthery boats to a pair of feeding Gazebos, hoping to see how the Empthery went about getting the tentacles. The Empthery employed a hit and run tactic of shooting a tentacle while the rowers went back, trying to sever the tentacle then reel it in with the fishing pole. When a tentacle was about to come off the Empthery had to risk allowing the Gazebo to come close so that they would be able to snag the tentacle. At this point in the operation, the Gazebos started to seriously wound the Empthery. The party, at the urging of Donald, intervened. One Empthery boat took their tentacle and made off fine, and that Gazebo also lost interest in futher conflict, but the other boat continued to battle their Gazebo. Ultimately, the party killed the Gazebo, claiming five of its six tentacles. Wilhelm asked the Empthery where they might find the Alpha. The Empthery's eyes grew fearful as the said: It appears when a Gazebo is killed.

Just then, Gilly saw something nearing the surface of the lake. The Empthery boat, at Donald's command, fled, while the party positioned their boats. A gargantuan jellyfish like creature rose from the lake with electrical energy crackling from its ten enormous tentacles. It smashed its tentacles together, creating a clap of thunderous energy towards the boat holding Wilhelm, Lilthic, Gilly and Melissa, damaging each severely and breaking a part of the Companion Cube.

The party began targeting the creature's tentacles, but it quickly recharged its tentacles and knocked all in the above mentioned boat but Melissa unconscious with another thunderous clap. The party was forced to balance their limited healing – with their two conscious healers on another boat – with their mission of severing the tentacles. Though on multiple ocassions, the Alpha almost took one of the party's life, they managed to sever four tentacles and outrun the creature until it lost interest and returned to beneath the lake.

Though battered, the party returned to the lakeshore, where Viala stood, arms crossed. With a nod of respect, she told the party that she looked forward to their negotiation later that day, and left the docks.

 

 

 

 

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Session 12: Into Gath

After promising their aid to the party and answering a few more questions, the ghosts Rienna, Avi, and Man brought the party back to the surface and then returned to their abode, promising to make occasional appearances to check whether the party was yet planning to leave.

The party made camp for the night. As they ate a dinner of giant owl, they began to discuss how, or if, they wished to approach the town of Gath. Several ideas were given: that the party first infiltrate the town to gather intelligence, that they simply walk up to the town and declare their intentions, and that they instead seek a trade alliance with the Yuan-Ti, with whom Riendra said Gath was in conflict with. Ultimately, they decided on a straightforward approach of simply entering the town and making clear their intentions, while not revealing everything.

As the party was finishing their meal, Avi came to the party to ask if it was yet time to leave, which is was not. She also made the request that, if she and the other ghosts felt the presence of Dendar, the Night Serpent, the party members would allow the ghosts to briefly possess their bodies, as this would make it less likely that Dendar take them. When Wilhelm asked what would happen in the event of possession, Avi rushed into his body and took control of it (Wilhelm was not pleased that she chose to make fart jokes and insult most of the party). Upon leaving the body, she also informed the party that, to her knowledge, there was no means of exorcising her once she had successfully entered the body. 

In the morning, the party headed out, with their ghost allies traveling nearby, though in the Shadow Tide so that they could remain unseen. The party exited the forest and began traversing the dull, rolling hills of hard, cold dirt between the forest and the town. As Melentia warned, there was increased activity in the intersection of tides on the planes of Tashyvar. The party was covered in dust, then forced into a blizzard – though they managed to stave off the effects of the cold. Then, as they saw the town of the horizon, they heard the whispers of the Conscious Tide. The party ran, but Wilhelm and Corsairiph were not quite fast enough, and were overwhelmed by the tide of Chaos, though neither seemed to have been harmed by it; Corsairiph was in a rather good mood, and Wilhelm learned how to improve his magical book. After making sure the two were all right, the party made their way to Gath.

They reached the town. A patrol on the exterior saw the party, and came out to meet them – 4 Empthrax and 4 Empthery, it seemed. Corsairiph, then Wilhelm and Melissa began to negotiate with the lead Empthrax, asking to come into the town to discuss possible trade and an alliance with Gath. The Empthrax, was reluctant, and continued to press the party for more and more specific details. Seeing that the negotiation had stalled and may soon turn sour, Donald spoke to him – (something along the lines off:) "Listen, man, we're just trying to talk to you, man. Don't let this possess you, man" – and signaled for Man to come out of the Shadow Tide and possess the Empthrax. Man entered the Empthrax body and gained control of its body. He then ordered that the party be brought to the leader of the town – Viala

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Session 11: Ghosts

The party has entered the Torben Woods, making their way towards the town of Gath in hopes of negotiating a trade deal between the town's residents and the colonists in Telos. After an encounter with a group of giant owls and a few River Trapers when crossing the wood's central river, the party decided to rest for the night.

After eating and spending a few hours plucking the feather's of the owls, the party made camp for the night. Donald had the second watch of the night. Marcellus joined him on the watch. The boy wanted to apologize to Donald for the way he acted when Donald tried to keep him back in the first fight; he had not realized that adventuring would be so dangerous.

As Marcellus went back to bed, he noticed a strange shifting in the wind. The wind had been growing stronger over the last few minutes. Donald noted the wind coming from the north, but then saw only a few paces from the camp that the wind came from the opposite direction. He spent a few minutes trying to find the center of the wind, and eventually found that it was swirling about at a point only a few feet from the camp. As he and Marcellus roused the rest of the party, the wind whipped faster and faster it formed a thin, stationary tornado that reached to the sky. The party remember from the stories Melentia had told Lilthic that this was a portal to the Tide of Air.

The party scattered and hid just as two air elementals came out of the portal. For the most part, the party was silent, but Wilhelm could not help but utter a gasp, which one of the elemental noticed, and then proceeded to begin attacking Wilhelm. The bulk of the party engaged that elemental, while Lilthic, Corsairiph and Marcellus held off the other once it had noticed the fighting. Several of the party went down during the fight, but ultimately, but air elementals perished, the first to Wilhelm's Magic Missile and the second to Gilly's arrows.

Soon, the tide subsided, not before Wilhelm through a piece of paper in to the Tide of Air that said "Wilhelm – 10/13/13257 at 11:03PM". The party gathered up anything that might have been blown about and finished their rest for the night.

In the morning, the party headed out, once again headed by Gilly, whose knowledge of the forest helped the party skirt a potential encounter with a pack of wolves as well as what seemed to be two strange panther – shaped creatures with tentacles coming out of their backs. Eventually, the party came to a point where the woods again grew very thick and imposing. After trying to avoid the thick woods by heading north seemed to start routing the party back the way they came, they decided to brave the woods.

Soon after entering the thick brambles, the party began to feel noxious fumes filling their lungs. The fumes began to have an impact on Gilly's tracking ability. However, thanks to Donald's continuous casting of Bless, Gilly barely noticed a patch of uninviting, seemingly sentient thorn vines before the party stumbled into them.

Once out of the thicker part of the woods and the fog that was within it, the party easily made their way toward the town of Gath. As they neared the edge of the woods, the found themselves approached and encircled by three spectral figures who, it appeared, spoke Common rather than, or in addition to, Chaos Tongue. After a brief parley, the figures brought the party to their home, an enclosed caver made of black stone, since the figures feared that Dendar may come for them if they remained in the open talking for too long.

One of the ghosts – Rienna – told the party that they were once citizens of Telos who escaped into the Torben Woods after the attack on the city. Slowly, their minds and bodies were racked with terrible pain, and they died. However, Kelemvor did not come for their souls, and they lingered on as ghosts. Slowly, their company was devored by Dendar the Night Serpent. The three ghosts found their new abode which seems, as far as they are aware, to be a shelter from the serpent. Since then, they have merely existed, not knowing how to pass on. They have forgotten much of who they were, and have lived for the pleasure of possessing the bodies of Empthery or Yuan-Ti who come into the woods.

As they began to talk with the party more about the mission the party had set out to do, they revealed that the town of Gath was under the control of the Kaorti, which they claim are a cruel but civilized race that lords over the Empthery - a race of slaves. The ghosts reluctantly then told the party that they may yet be able to negotiate with the Empkaorti who ran the town; they had witnessed the transformation themselves, so they knew; Empthery were once the humanoid races of Sarlona, transformed and tortured by the Realm of Chaos.

The party ultimately stated their intention to continue with their mission. Thanks to the efforts of Donald to persuade the ghost's and Wilhelm's charisma, the ghosts, hoping to again have some sort of purpose to their lives, agreed to aid the party however they could in their mission.

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Session 10: The Torben Woods

Following his questioning of the party, Hazdron Vital confided in the party two troubles: firstly, that the colony was low on food, and, secondly, that if the people of the colony learned too soon what had happened, they would panic. He proposed that the party go hunting for food, alleviating the problem of provision and also prevent the colonists from learning from the party what is happening. Wilhelm offered that the party also journey to the nearby town of Gath, confirmed inhabited by Melentia, to negotiate a possible trade alliance.

The following morning, as the party ate, Alta Sor approached the party to thank them for what they were about to do and offer some negotiation advice. At the end, she also gifted the party an family heirloom – a magical sword – in the event they needed a show of strength to gain the respect of the residents of Gath.

Lilthic and Corsairiph sparred to try and discover the properties of the sword. After the sword dealt an unexpectedly harsh blow to Corsairiph, Lilthic allowed Wilhelm to use Identify to learn that the blade was a Scimitar of Sharpness.

In the early afternoon, the party began their treck to Gath, using Gilly's natural sense of direction and a barely serviceable map drawn by Marcellus of Tashyvar Island. Outside of Telos, the landscape was bleak. Brown, cold foothills of hard dirt rose out the ground, scarce in vegetation. Eventually, the party noticed the greenery of the Torben Woods in the distance. While small differences were present, the forest was relatively similar to one the party would have seen in the Material Land.

After winding through the forest to avoid the parts of the forest which was full of dense, strangely growing trees, brambled bushes, and a mysterious fog, the party reached a small river that flowed through the middle of the woods.

As the party began crossing the shallow river, three creatures resting beneath the sand of the riverbed attempted to latch onto, grapple, and start gnawing on the party member's legs. At the same time, a group of four giant owls began attacking the party from the sky. The owls darted down, clawing at the party's faces, and then back into the trees while the party dealt with the River Trappers that where trying to latch onto their legs. Ultimately, the River Trappers were killed and the party had dealt significant damage to the owls, already having killed one. The owls attempted to fly away. One was slower than the rest and run down by Lilthic. Corsairiph ran down the third, hoping not to loose the chance to get feathers and meat to sell back to the colony. He barely saw it through the trees as it fled. With one perfectly shot arrow, he pierced the owl through the chest, and the creature fell to the ground, dead.

The party gathered their spoils and made their way across the river to make camp and rest for the night.

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Session 9: Questions and Finances
The Colony at Telos

Due to a poor first encounter, the party has been place under a light arrest by the humanoids who were transported to Telos following the activation of the first seed. To help clear up the misunderstanding and form trust, Donald suggested that Hazdron, a gnome cleric of Bane and an apparent leader of the colony,  cast a Zone of Truth spell and question them.

The following morning, Hazdron and Martin, one of the other two apparent leaders, entered the large foyer where the party was being held. Hazdron asked the party a series of questions. A few were meant to verify the story the party had told Alta, but for the most part, he seemed concerned with learning what the party knew about where they all were, why they all were here, why this had happened, and what the party intended moving forward.

After the questioning concluded, Hazdron deemed that the party was not a threat and welcomed them to become members of the colony. He then expressed two concerns: first, that there was not an ample food supply for the colony, and second, that if the colonists learned the truth right now, there would be panic and the fragile order in the colony would shatter. Regarding the later, he planned to sow rumors to prepare the people for the eventual truth. However, since the party would likely be the first place the colonists went to verify the rumors, their presence in the colony would prove  . . . troublesome.

Hazdron proposed that to remedy both concerns, he could hire the party to go out and hunt food for the colony. The party would be paid with a line of credit that Hazdron was keeping for the colony until the colony could find actual gold. Wilhelm gave the counter offer that the party, in addition to hunting, investigate a nearby town – the town of Gath, which is incidentally Marcellus' hometown - to see if a trade agreement could be struck between the two. 

Hazdron accepted this offer, and the two negotiated a price for completing the mission. Wilhelm also informed Hazdron that there were materials the colony could use in the Bunker and recommended it as perhaps a better and more defensible position for the colonists.

After a brief discussion over the price of the goods and what exactly payment under this line of credit meant, the party and Hazdron signed a contract (only Hazdron and Corsairiph signed) agreeing to these terms of payment.

The party, along with Martin, returned to the bunker to look for Melentia, acquire a bow for Corsairiph and show Martin the recommended location. Donald activated a trap the party had previously avoided and forgotten about, but otherwise, the journey was smooth. Melentia, however, was nowhere to be found. The party returned to the Temple of Tymora and Corsairiph found a note from her, stating that she no longer wanted the magic freezers and that she would be in touch. Gilly used Primeval Awareness to sense seven fey creatures about a half mile behind Neverind's tower, but the party decided not to seek Melentia out.

The remainder of the day passed rather uneventfully. Marcellus kept to himself, unless spoken to, and did not seem particualarly interested in talking about his home town, stating that he is nervous and afraid of what he might find, but determined to make the journey. The party rested in the camp for the evening, preparing to journey through the Torben Woods to the town a Gath.

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Session 8: The Lesser Restoration

Following a less than cordial introduction to a colony of humanoids transported to Telos with the activation of the first seed, the party found themselves in detention. Alta, one of the leaders of the colony, had ordered the party's restraints be removed, but any other actions towards freedom would have to wait until the next day, when another of the leaders, Hazdron, could use Zone of Truth to verify the party's motives.

In the meantime, the party did nothing in particular. They simply sat about, watching as the colonists took salveagable materials from the rooms in the building in which the party was held, listened to what sounded like woodworking, laying of stones, and the noises of livestock. Around late afternoon, there was some commotion. Melissa checked outside, and saw what seemed to be a few injured being brought inside. Donald asked a guard to check on it and to offer Donald's services as a cleric. The guard returned, said their were some injuries, but the party was not needed.

The following morning, Wilhelm's bruising and stiffness had worsened. Donald offered to help, and cast Lesser Restoration upon the gnome. The bruising fadded, and Wilhelm's joints popped back into place. The spell was indeed a success.

About an hour after breakfast, the doors to the building opened, and Hazdron, followed by Martin, entered, ready for the questioning.

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