D&D 5E: The Road Not Taken

To Skullport (Ocean Voyage)

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The harbor lay still and silent as the sound of the oars slide out from the portholes and dig into the surface of the water. They pry the ship away from the dock and the crew’s faces change almost immediately with the sudden realization that the future is once again unknown. The ship makes its’ way to the middle of the bay as crew make ready the sails.

As the ship passes the watch towers, both a red and white signal flags are raised, alerting all that the ship is cleared to pass. The ship reaches the end of the harbor and a trade wind along the coast starts gently, without gusts – a huge current of air that slowly begins to move with ever increasing strength as the ship peaks out from the cliffs and stone walls. Suddenly everything comes to life. Spirits rise as the sails fill, the boat heels slightly and moves faster ahead. The crew moves feverishly, tying off lines and setting rigging.

The almost oppressive silence gives way to the sound of the bow cutting through the water. Gone is the sea’s glassy surface, and with it the terrible mornings glare. You hear the Captain cry out, “Close off the hatches and ports, we are home again, bring me the horizon!”

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To Skullport (The Drippin Wet)
A new family.

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Once aboard the ship the party can tell this particular ship seems very well maintained. The hull, riggings, mast and sails look almost new. Gear and supplies are neatly organized and secured both above and below deck. Two large masts loom high above you. As you gaze skyward you observe several crew working on riggings and sails high above the deck as if unaware of the certain death below should they lose their grip.

A medium catapult sits upon the forward facing quarterdeck and two ballistas upon the forecastle deck to the rear, along with a small cockboat. Another cockboat is secured to the center main deck.

After a time Waterdeep’s City Guard and Inspectors arrive to inspect the ship before allowed to leave harbor. They will examine supplies, provisions, sails and crew before attaching a sealed inspection document to the main mast which includes what colors to raise on the way out of the harbor. If those colors are not raised the ship will be stopped by whatever means necessary.

As the crew and the party prepare to set sail, the you spot a large vessel entering port. The ship shows obvious signs of major damage even from a fair distance. Two of the masts are blackened and several sails are burnt beyond usefulness. From the crows-nest Lutien can see about a dozen masses covered with blackened and blood stained sails on the main deck.

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To Skullport (Waterdeep Docks)
What Could Go Wrong

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Approaching the docks of Waterdeep, the party notices a large and heavily weathered ship lashed with mooring lines to the northern dock. On the dock just next to the ship’s bow sits a toughened and battle-scarred dwarf. He sits upon an imperfect crate, feet hanging by several inches or more above the saturated boardwalk. He is leaned over a makeshift table of pallets and decayed boards. Atop the table are several stacks of parchment. A group of, prospective, crew form a line and the dwarf is examining each in turn before putting quill to paper. A portly man points the new recruits to the waiting sacks of gear and motions them aboard. Other crew members can be seen loading barrels of dried fish, salt, citrus, fresh water and other provisions. Heavier crates are being lifted while wrapped in thick fishing nets and hoisted by swivelling beams beset with block and tackle.

If players read the contract they can determine the following. The ship is hiring on temporary crew members at 2sp per day (10 day trip) plus quarters and food with a possibility of becoming a permanent crew member. Becoming a permanent member grants the member the title of mate, a partial stake in any and all profits and a single voting share.

Those with specialized abilities may be able to negotiate double the pay but better quarters are harder to acquire. If the party would rather pay for transport and better rooms, quartermaster O’Dual will call upon Captain Christopher to speak with them. (The ship is equipped with shackles on all levels as the captain plans to display at least part of the crew as slaves)

The ship is due to sail in the morning and head towards the Northlander Isles. The trip will take around 3 days. Once there, they will anchor off the Shore of Silt Island.

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The Return To Waterdeep
Welcome Back

There is much to do now that the party has returned to Waterdeep. Their time in the Underdark has make them wise but also wealthy. They form a company name, ‘Retribution Unlimited LTD’ and deposit there well-earned fortunes in the Castle Ward Bank. 55,680 gp in total.

Ian reconnects with The House, recruits an apprentice and begins training.
Lutien spends his days researching magical item creation in an effort to construct a truly unique bow.

Galathalas struggles within his own mind, having been most effected by the parties time in the Abyss. Aside from this, however, he begins to plan for Skullport in order to deal with the slave trade.

Valrak’shi spends a great deal of time with Draylia. He learns all he can from her wisdom and insights. She in turn, asks a great deal about the party’s time in the Underdark.

Draylia of Blackstaff Tower hires the party to ensure the safe delivery of items of critical importance to the tower in her absence.

Although the time back in Waterdeep has been fruitful if not fulfilling, a few of the party members seem eager to venture to Skullport. Galathalas has word of a ship leaving for Skullport that is currently docked in the harbor. The party has started making arrangement for their departure.

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Valrak'shi Journal Entry 13

It seems like it has been quite some time since I last made note of my travels, but it has in fact been only a short while. If time were measured by experience only, many weeks older I would now be.

I’ll start where I last left off…we were on the wagons with the Derro, following a rough tunnel out of the Duergar city, looking for Neverlight Grove.

We traveled for many miles over the rough ground before coming upon a cross-section of paths. These tunnels seemed to be unused by most, but the Derro didn’t hesitate to turn the Steeders into them. Soon we were following an oddly smooth tunnel, approximately 10 feet in diameter that looked to be made by a large purple worm at some point in the past. After the many pathways of the Underdark riddled with unknown obstacles strewn about, this passage seems eerily smooth and quiet…

The Derro speak little, but do mention that these tunnels are known to very few and they use them to travel quickly between their city and the Myconid community.

Currently they are carrying 6 sacks on their wagons…of what I don’t know, but I’m curious to attempt a peek inside at some point. What would one trade a creature such as Stool that would be of any value? The two seem to have no concern for safety and are quite comfortable along the route. I feel it’s odd though…the elevation of the path stays strangely consistent. Having spent a lifetime underground, you have a sense of elevation change as a surface elf can tell where the wind blows, but it is somewhat disquieting how long we travel with no change up or down. It does, however, make for even quicker travel between the two locations. How does one keep such a secret as this!? They tell us it will take about 24 hours and that once a purple worm uses a tunnel, it never reuses it, so at least from that threat we should be safe. Or so we thought…

About 16 hours of travel later, the Derro make mention that we’re getting closer. The fungi on the wall have started to change; this is their indicator that the next path to Neverlight Grove is coming up soon.

As we move closer, we hear rumbling ahead of us…and the entire tunnel begins to shake and vibrate. Right in front of us the floor caves in, not 10 feet from where the front Steeder was pulling. Stopping quickly we all rush up to check what has happened, arriving just in time to see the end of a large purple worm, hardened rock-like scales flashing along it’s back…and then two shadowy figures pass behind it.

Out of the hole, two demons dart towards us, buzzing their grotesque wings as they close the distance. They seem to be similar to some we have already encountered during our travels below. They are accompanied by a harsh screaming sound, echoing down the tunnel behind us.

Lutien shoots first, plugging many arrows deep into the demonic threat. It screams in pain as it claws at his arrows, but it’s far from beaten. It screams again, buzzing close to Gal, Stool and Lutien, stunning them in their tracks. The other is near Ian and he wastes no time enacting a spell that freezes the beast in place. The face is hardly recognizable, but it appears almost afraid and just stops in place. I didn’t waste the opportunity, I dash quickly around it, attempting to land a successful thrust with the shortsword, or even a glancing blow with my palms but sadly all of that sitting on the wagon must have tightened my muscles, I flailed about unsuccessfully. On top of that, being so close I became poisoned by some type of spore the being released. Take note my brothers, attack this creature from afar should you ever run across it!

Looking back I see one of the Derro and their mount making haste back down the way we came. In the process Gal and Stool fell from the cart but didn’t seem to take any serious damage. Lutien on the other hand takes off running towards the receding cart screaming “come back with my arrows!!”. I wanted to try to stop him, but before I could move I felt the vibrations again like before…and moments later the head of a dreaded purple worm burst up from the tunnel beneath. It’s mouth agape with rows of teeth and chitinous plates along the face…it opens its mouth in a silent roar, swallowing the Derro, cart and Steeder all in one bite. Gal wastes no time, he drops into some type of spell, weaving his hands and intoning dark syllables, thrusting his fingers out towards the worm. I see nothing happen between the two, but apparently something does…the worm stops completely, then seems to struggle against an invisible force…and then crashes face first back into the hole (taking one of the demons along in its maw) and moves away from our party as quickly as possible. Not knowing what transpired but not wanting to waste the opportunity, we quickly finish off the last demon and look around somewhat dazed. How quickly our expedition had changed.

We take a minute to dress our wounds and to do a quick search for Lutien…but afraid to go too far for fear of losing our way. We finally just figure, he’s an intelligent Elf, we’ll just have to move forward and hope he can catch back up. If we don’t see him soon we’ll backtrack but we want to make haste away from this area in case another worm shows up, or something more foul comes to investigate all of the commotion.

We make our way over the chasm in the path that the worm used, getting a full run and jump. Oddly enough, Gal gets a run at the ravine, hurtles himself across like a wet noodle and mid jump blurts out “Aha! Bellemi!! Her name is Bellemi!” Landing in the most unusual of way, he catches his footing and starts whispering intently to his familiar who is now landing gracefully upon his arm.

Gathering ourselves once again, we head north the way we were going, with no real idea in mind as to which path will lead us to Neverlight Grove. I continually look behind as we go, keeping an eye out for Lutien and hoping he returns safely. The darkness is tugging at him more and more each day.

We notice the fungi and lichen seem to be getting thicker and more abundant. About that time fissures start showing up along the walls…many of them big enough for a person to get into, possibly 40 or so! We discussed which path to take, but there really was no clear indication as to which would prove fruitful so Gal sent Bellemi searching ahead for us. It seems the path ahead didn’t change for a mile or so…way too many avenues to check for just the one familiar. We all know that the longer we sit here, the more likely we are to become a potential meal for whatever Underdark beast is lurking near.

After a little while, I look around and notice our myconid companion is no longer with us. Looking around quickly we determine he’s wandered off, for what reason we can’t imagine. Possibly he was close to home and ran off in that direction? Could he be hurt? We decide the only way to increase our chances of finding the Grove and Stool is to split up. I decide to venture off alone as I figure I’ll be more likely to sneak quietly by myself, and Gal and Ian stick together going down their own tunnel. We agree, 15 min down a tunnel and back again, that way nobody gets too far in, and we’ll each know which tunnel the other is in should we not return on time.

The first tunnel proved a waste, but the second that I ventured down, I came across a beast you rarely see. A Nothic…they were hungrily devouring a humanoid, too far gone for me to make out much of anything other than it being larger than Stool and smaller than our party members. Seeing 4 of them and knowing that stealth was my ally, I took note of the numbers and position and then carefully made my way back out of the tunnel. Being one man down we’d not want to fight them all together, but I definitely didn’t want to have to tackle them solo, my story will hopefully be written for years to come.

Making my way back I informed the others of the beasts. We agreed it best to avoid them if at all possible. We decided to head back out, one more time…we want to help find Stool but also realize that he made his choice to wander off, or so we believe, sometimes poor choices come with grave consequences.

Luckily for Stool though, the very next fissure I searched I found him, apparently fallen headfirst into a hole. I pulled him back out as he squirmed, obviously relieved. I am looking forward to returning him to his home, not because of any dislike of him but because rash decisions like this cost us time and put us all at risk.

I return just as the others are exiting their tunnel and Gal explodes into motion, rushing over to engulf Stool in a full-body hug, yelling loudly and incoherently along the lines of “don’t do that ever again!”. Ian chuckles and shakes his head while casually sheathing and unsheathing his blade. Sadly their reunion is cut short by rumbling…something was apparently alerted to our presence, and looking around it doesn’t take long to figure out what that something is.

I can’t say I’ve ever seen or even heard of this monstrosity before…it’s very large, almost like a large bear, but with a gaping maw and several tentacles weaving to and fro as if an enlarged version of a snake-headed scourge of a Priestess of Lloth. It’s shaggy and the same color as the ground around us.

For whatever reason, it locks onto me and running on all four legs charges me. Along the way Ian slashes across it’s flank drawing a large line of blood, and Galathalas blasts it with a black beam of energy. It roars in anger and pain but continues on. As it gets closer I limn it in Faerie Fire, making it an easier target for all. It doesn’t seem to register or care one bit…

Reaching down into my ki I prepare for a last minute dodge, just barely skating out of the way in time. By now, it’s infuriated and turns to dash back towards Ian who drew first blood. I lunged out for a quick hit but missed it. Gal used his wand and successfully stuck two of the tentacles together with a viscous globule.

Ian, correctly interpreting how dangerous this foe is to us in close quarters, casts a spell on it to stop it in place, causing it to not be able to move for an overwhelming fear grips the mind. Having seen this spell before recently, we know not to attack it, but to use this opportunity to make our escape. We quickly skirt the beast and make our way back into the fissure I found Stool in, having learned from him that it is indeed the path we need.

We travel for a bit through the dimly lit corridor, noting how many varied kinds of fungi and lichen are along the walls. Before we know it, we come out into a cavern of sorts. A putrid smell permeates the entire area, that of mold…wet and warm, stagnant…the perfect home for a myconid community it would seem. There are gigantic beige stalks all around, similar to a forest in the world above. The humidity and mist lingering all around makes it hard to see very far ahead, but we can see enough random lights throughout to know the area is fairly large. We continue walking forward on the spongy ground, following Stool who is excitedly making his way between the many fungi and stalks before us. The strangest part of the entire place though…is the quiet. My own breathing seems loud to me, I feel the need to exhale loudly just to make sure I’m not stuck inside of a silence spell.

Stool tells us via his spores that he wants to go down towards the lake, down to where the leader of the Hunters is, a creature by the name of Lumbamud. Traveling around the southern portion of the lake we eventually come in contact with a very large mushroom looking entity, this “Lumbamud” we assume. The two myconids spore and communicate, gesticulating excitedly towards one another. As we stand there, more of them come up to get in on the apparent celebration. Lumbamud allows his spores to reach us and thanks us for returning his friend to him. It is odd hearing “joy” expressed in one’s mind like that, but that’s the best way to describe it.

Lumbamud tells us he would like to take us to the leader of the Grove, so we follow him forward. Not long after a very large mushroom-looking creature comes out and stands before us. It communicates via the spores how pleased it is that we assisted in returning Stool. He assures us that we are safe in the Grove and to be at peace and rest a while.

I sit on a spongy surface, relaxing as I finish this long journal entry. The beings here seem to be as pleasant as any would expect, but a lifetime in the Underdark doesn’t allow one to let their guard down completely. Unsure as to how long we should stay with a known Drow party looking for us, I take my rest where I can but keep my eyes on the way we came in. You can’t be too careful.

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Valrak'shi Journal Entry 12

I make notes as I sit upon a small wagon, bumping along, taking a turn at resting my feet. Looking forward I see only the back of a Duergar, holding the reigns attached to a giant spider, a common Underdark steed named aptly a ‘Steeder’.

Looking around there isn’t much to make note of, we are currently traveling out of Gracklstaugh heading towards Neverlight Grove, a rough tunnel and road before us. Very few lichen grow along these paths, and fewer words seem to be spoken in the group.

Going back to where I last wrote…

After visiting the Bazaar, we started heading back to the Inn. Something seemed off about the entire area out there…the Duergar dealing seemed even more irrational than one might imagine, constantly blinking in and out of visibility. Luckily Lutien was able to acquire some arrows and Ian a new helm. The only thing that caught my eye as we were heading back to the Inn was a small figure, possibly a Derro, dressed in rags with a fancy jacket and a wide-brimmed hat that continued to dart in and out of alleyways and between people. I was keeping an eye on him but lost sight of him once we returned to the Inn.

Once back at the Inn, we all sat around comfortably and found out we have a new companion. Sitting upon the dark and dank rafters was a small humanoid figure. At first we didn’t see it, but Gal pointed it out and beckoned it come down. Soaring down it lit comfortably on his shoulder and we could see at once it was a construct like the Hag had been creating. Was it sent to spy on us? Will the Hag sellout our location to the Drow using it as a conduit to track us down? Gal seems to trust it and seems to have a connection with it but I can’t help but keep my guard up. Like everything else in the World Below, we may as well use it until it proves too dangerous otherwise.

We have a couple of drinks and speak with the bartender, asking to know more of the area. He tells us of a few different hotspots we might want to check out, as well as of the local ruler, Deep King Hargar. He and his entourage are not to be trifled with. He also makes mention of our Quaggoth “friend” who walked out with his flagon of ale. The barkeep was none too happy with him, but after looking upon Derendil’s face decided it best to let that one flagon go.

The barkeep mentioned to us an individual named Faleras that might be of help. Thanking him with coin, we took this information and prepared to head out.
We traveled north, back through the Bazaar, off to the west near one of the docks near The Shattered Spire. The Derro we were searching for is known to frequent that area, usually fishing or so we were told. Gal sent his new familiar along ahead to scout it out; so far a very handy companion. He found what we think may be him so we made our way there. Along the way we had to fall back in the shadows…apparently a battle was being fought between a giant and the many Duergar guards milling about. It burst through the wall between the city and the dock area, and apparently was half-mad. We considered stepping in to help subdue it, but in the end felt it best to keep the faerie fire from our heads, so to speak. Summoning the shadows around us, we snuck away unnoticed and to the dock area where Gal’s familiar was perched. We found the wrinkled old Derro there, fishing as expected. Gal introduced himself and the seemingly friendly little figure motioned us into the bar to have a drink.

The bar seemed to be as expected, a bit of a rough joint but our party doesn’t mind that. Sometimes we even crave that…too much stagnancy makes the body weak. There’s a mixture of Derro and Duergar inside, nobody seems to take any notice of us as we sit in our corner and drink our Darklake ale. We found out through our new contact of a Derro couple that are known to be able to make the Neverlight Grove trek in a fraction of the time. Faleras is all too happy to setup a meeting with them, so we prepared to head out, dodging fighting (more madness?) Derro along the way.

The Derro couple were not too far away, Tallo and Tal by name. They specialized in mushrooms, which made sense knowing that they knew a fast route to Neverlight Grove. Initially they don’t seem too keen on helping us, but Stool hopped out and they were taken aback by him, and happy to help him once they learned of hit plight. They informed us that they would be able to leave the following morning.
The next morning Gal’s familiar (I still know not the name!) spots the two Derro making their way to us. They enter the Inn and we greet them downstairs. We stopped briefly to see if Jimjar was interested in joining us, but he was neck-deep in his gambling so chose not to.

After loading up on the small wagons we headed out of the gates towards what we are told was Neverlight Grove.

And, that brings me back to the beginning. I now put my quill down and am to swap out with Ian, there’s only enough room on each wagon for one person to ride at a time. Until next time…

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Valrak'shi Journal Entry 11

I write this entry from a corner of our shared room, in an Inn in the city of Gracklstaugh. The rough-hewn walls are solid and cool behind my back and the smell of hot metal permeates the room as it does the entire city. The basics of Gracklstaugh are known to me, as they are to most intelligent creatures of the Underdark, but this is my first time passing its gates. It seems as stout as the dwarves that built it…a city not easily besieged I’d guess. I am mentally taking note of every detail, simply to know my way around as well as to share with my brothers when next we cross paths.

Getting to this city was easier than most travel we’ve experienced since returning back to the depths below. I will pick up where I left off with my last entry, the Hag had taken Buppido and Ian and I went along to help fix the hut…but also to keep an eye on what transpired. Oddly enough, it was quite a mundane encounter. The Hag and Buppido talked extensively about who knows what, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary, at least nothing I could catch while rebuilding the wall.

The repairs took a few days, but in the end it looked as good as new. During this time I did catch glimpses of her through the portholes, crafting something from clay. Knowing her familiar I assume it’s another homonculus. Throughout the process her familiar kept with us, helping to relay information between if needed. She mentioned that she was going to help us get to Gracklstaugh, and surprisingly she did just that. Before leaving Ian and I approached her to try and garner more information about her “prophecy”, but she was not very helpful…I feel we may be putting too much stock in the old Hag’s words. Who are we to believe blindly one such as that? Yet we trusted her minions to guide us to Gracklstaugh…

As for that, the Hag asked the Merro to aid us, they assisted in tying our boats together and four of them proceeded to pull us through the waters with great speed. As we traveled, several times we heard the splash of something falling behind us, from the ceiling to the darkened waters it would seem. I can’t help but wonder how many enemies we would have faced along the way were we traveling at our normal pace.

Arriving in the Duergar city, it’s as solid as the descriptions had led me to believe; stone walls and fortresses all around, different colored flames emitting heat and that constant smell in the air. Stalactites and stalagmites jutting ceiling to floor and floor to ceiling. Not an uncommon sight in the Underdark but the sheer girth of some of the columns were awe-inspiring. We arrived on the northern edge of the city at a quiet port, meeting no obstacles along the way. We made our way quickly and confidently to the Inn at which I now sit, Golbrom’s Lair. It’s commonly known as the place outsiders are allowed. Buppido filled us in on the hierarchy and rules of the city, and the fact that anyone who seemed weak was likely to become a slave. Let our enemies think so at their own peril.
Inside the inn we made our way to a far table, settled in and watched the many other patrons. There was quite the mix of creatures so our unusual group didn’t seem as unusual as we would in another establishment. Buppido let us know that he was going to head out into the city to places we may not be welcome, and that he would return soon. He was to gather information about how best for us to travel back to the surface.

I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with him leaving, but I fear we have little choice. I still don’t know what Buppido actually is, but it’s pretty obvious he’s not what he seems.
Initially I had thought him a demon of sorts, or in some way our enemy, but if so…why help us so much? He could have sold us out or harmed us on many occasions…I don’t know his endgame, and I don’t trust him completely, but I’m curious. Now that we’re to the town, I think we may need to have a little talk and see if he will open up as to his true nature.

While the rest of us sat at the bar, Galathalas spoke with the barkeep and procured a room for our group. We casually made our way up to the top of the stairs, and once inside our room spoke openly about Buppido. It seems he was doing some type of ritual back at the Hag’s lair, and we have all noticed his eyes…we’re not sure what to make of it, but we’re all alert to his “difference” so if anything happens, at least we won’t be caught flat-footed.

I put my quill away now, the others are rising from their rests, I believe we are to head out into the Blade Bazaar soon thereafter.

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Valrak'shi Journal Entry 10

I find myself once again with a few moments to spare, so I shall make note as fast as possible.

I left off with Galathalas leaving with the Hag…he returned a while later with a disturbing look upon his face, but kept to himself even more than normal obviously not wanting to share what transpired.

For some reason, the madness seems to be settling into Lutien…he was found diving into the water and swimming down, un an unknown pull of sorts it seems. Shuushar was quick to assist and pulled him from the water. He seemed disoriented and had no idea why he would do such a thing. Luckily for him he was wearing his Necklace of Adaptation, else he may have drown in pursuit of who knows what.

The Hag approached me not long after, requesting that I visit her abode. She says she needs something from a couple of us before giving us information to help us leave the cavern. I trust her not one bit, but I feel my options are limited as we need assistance leaving the area. I reluctantly agree to accompany her, and luckily Ian also asked to come with, to which she agrees.

Upon getting to her hut, she seems to take an unnatural interest in my skin, commenting on its pigment and hue, how “different” it is…then she lays out her real request; she wants a sample of my skin. I am not comfortable with this idea at all..what would she use it for? Can she control me after sampling it? Create a clone of me? Replace me from afar? Either way I feel there’s little option as we need her help. Before agreeing I ask for her to give us some information that is helpful to prove it’s not for ill (assuming you can even trust her information!). She pulls out a red and black velvet cloth and shows us a spherical item that I believe is a Hag Stone. Concentrating on it for a few moments, she looks up and informs us that the Priestess that was here earlier has since informed her fellow Drow of our location and there is currently a Drow raiding party on their way to find us. Figuring this is the best we’ll get for now, I agree to her terms.
I lie down on the bed and she inspects me further, places a stick across my mouth to bite down on and prepares to give me a type of numbing liquid. I refuse preferring the pain to whatever the concoction might actually do. I steal my mind for what I know will be one of the most unpleasant events of my life. Focusing my will I stare into myself and ignore the pain of her fileting my skin as long as my will will allow…only to falter mid-way and scream out in agony. The torture, for that is what it feels like, lasts only a short while and she applies a salve to my wound to help heal it. It leaves a scar, deep and red. Ian was kind enough to cast some divine heals into my arm, further helping the pain subside and reducing the scar somewhat.

Afterward we made our way back to the southern island, only to find Lutien once again in the water. I figure he may need some looking after as he’s obviously not in his right mind, so quickly quaffing my only potion of water breathing I tie my rope onto Ian’s rope and dive in where we last saw Lutien. Ian is holding the furthest end so I know I have a good 100 feet before running out of slack. Diving down it search through the darkness with my light cantrip, back and forth until I spot Lutien. He seems to be standing on the prow of a sunken ship, surrounded by many other ships of various sizes and shapes. It seems something, or someone, sank these ships over the course of years. So many litter the bottom…and since the water breathing spell is still in place, and Lutien seems to fine (and more aware of his surroundings now), we decide via a few nods to search the wreckage. Off in the distance at the edge of my lights I see Shuushar inspecting the boats as well, apparently enjoying the distraction from our day to day routine of fighting and traveling.

One the 4th ship I search I find a body that has been mutilated by either time or spell…possibly both. There’s one arm laying against the boat rail with a gauntlet still attached. Not far away I see another arm that seems as if it probably belonged to the same person before the harpoon impaled them and pinned them to the mast of the sunken vessel. Noticing the gauntlets look to be a matching set, I carefully extracted the remains of the person previously wearing them, and quickly stuff them into my bag. Digging a bit further I found a small bag that appeared to have some coins in it and stuffed it into my pouch as well.

I feel that water breathing spell should be coming to an end soon, so with a nod at Lutien to make sure he’s ready, we both make our way back to the surface and sit out on the bank for a moment letting the water run off of our bodies.

Looking across the way, it appears that Jimjar has been doing some fishing and Buppido is fileting the fish. Looking more closely I see Galathalas make his way over to the area to inspect their work. It’s only then that I notice what must have caught Galathalas’ attention in the first place…the fish, it appeared they were being put in a circle with their heads mounted on spikes. Possibly a ritual of sorts? But why? Something is up with Buppido…we need to figure this out sooner than later it seems. I mention to Lutien what I see across the way. He shows me that he also found something interesting in the depths, and that since having found them he no longer feels the pull to dive…at least not that he knows of. He seems to have found a writing quill, and odd looking dead fish and an egg shaped stone about fist sized.

Before long the Hag shows back up and wants to take Buppido away. He doesn’t seem to be interested in doing so but seems reluctant to say no with us all watching. Just to keep an eye on both of them, Ian and I offer to use this time as an excuse to go back over with them to help repair the hut. As we cross the lake Buppido looks less and less comfortable with every row of the boat…I’m keeping an eye on him as I finish writing this and prepare to land.

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Valrak'shi Journal Entry 9

After the hag dealt with the birthing, she seemed eerily quiet…looking at the Drow priestess on the floor, we see her chanting or mumbling incomprehensibly. Trying to stay on our toes we prepare for whatever demonic spell she or the hag may be casting, but nothing seems to happen.

Moments later, we notice an object on the ceiling of the cavern. It seemed to be made of mist, and making its way above us…the hag upon noticing then quickly casts some type of spell and vanishes from sight. Looking around, she’s not to be found…but the entity, a tree-shaped being it seems, coalesces into a solid form and drops down in the middle of us. Reacting as if we’re being attacked…because it seemed such, we quickly learn that it is much tougher than it appears. After trading blows and moving out of its way, we realize it is a summoned being that the Drow must have been calling in her mind-altered state. Ian took the brunt of the attack, nearly knocking him out…but once we realized it was just trying to get to its master, we made way for it and fell back.

Once all of the fighting was over, the hag appeared again and prepared to take care of the 2 children. We found out that the Drow made a deal with the Hag to help her deliver the babies…apparently twins are rare and they often end up killing off the weaker one in the womb, and the hag bartered her services with curses for ownership of one of the children. This may sicken some, but I am not surprised by this as my own history isn’t far from such a tale. Who births you is irrelevant; who raises you is another story. I know not what the Hag needs with such a child…

We find out a couple of interesting facts upon talking to the Hag. Apparently, while we were here on the island talking to the Hag, Lutien inadvertently shot down her familiar. Not knowing what it was lurking on the ceiling, one can understand his action! It appears to be capable still though, so luckily no serious or lasting harm was done. I imagine the Hag wouldn’t have been very welcoming had we destroyed her familiar…

The last thing we learn from the hag is somewhat disturbing…she wants to make a deal with us, as hags are wont to do. She will aid us in escaping this region, but in return she wants her hut repaired and to leech certain fluids from particular party members. This doesn’t sit well with me… and at the time of this writing, I am already back on our southern island with the other party members, I have just watched Galathalas go with her, for what exact purpose I cannot say. Galathalas isn’t the most trusting or open, not that I blame him, we all consort with the likes of those we cannot trust, or dare not. We shall see upon his return what stories he brings… until then, I will watch as the Merro under the Hag’s control lift our boats from the waters to once again be ready to go should we need a hasty exit.

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Valrak'shi Journal Entry 8

I quickly jot this down as we are pressed for time, but I wanted to make note in case something happened to me. For those that follow behind and find my story, beware the exploding mushrooms!

We came upon an area with 3 islands, 2 of similar size and one larger island with a hut on it seemingly made from mushrooms. Upon closer inspection, after carefully navigating my way through the dangerous maze of lethal mushrooms, it appeared to be occupied by a female Drow. Sneaking back I informed my comrades of the situation and we all decided to take the boat around the edge and approach the building in the open so as to not seem like as much of a threat.

Lutien and the rest of the party stayed back while Gal, Ian and I made our way by boat to the opposite side of the island. Along the way we notice the waves are…different. The water doesn’t respond like normal water and I’m not quite sure why, but I am wary and on guard. We dock beside the boat of the female Drow we saw enter from the North. Noticing her robes it’s clear she’s a follower of Lloth, her robes also giving away she is from Menzoberranzan. And, if memory serves, the symbol in the boat is of Fallax which is Fae. We must be wary indeed with these two things so near! At that point we didn’t know how incapacitated the priestess would be, but after Gal spoke to her mind to mind, we realized our best chance to get in the hut was now.

Gal decides to be chivalrous (and a bit more insane I am inclined to think), picking a bouquet of mushrooms that resemble flowers to give to the awaiting Drow. From my earlier inspection of the house, we know there is no obvious entry, but can tell via a porthole in the structure that entry is most likely gained through underwater access. We notice the occupant seemingly lost in her own erotic machinations, possibly “trippin’ ballz” (a term I once read while referencing a Harpell manuscript, I am not sure if I used it properly). Making haste I make my way underwater with Ian and we come up through the bottom of the hut. Lifting ourselves onto the floor she takes no notice of us, but we notice Gal has successfully fixed her in place with his wand in case she were to attack.

Looking around we see the many things I have already made note of previously; books, vials, potions, obviously someone lives here and maintains it well, but it doesn’t seem to be the priestess. We soon find the true owner…

Gal makes his way underwater (leaving Stool up top) and we all take a look around the hut as quickly as possible. We find that the priestess is quite pregnant, and we soon find her in actual childbirth. She seems to be from the family Vrinn and her name is Myra.
We noticed two aquatic creatures sinking our boat but failed to get to them in time…as I write this I hope we can commandeer the two vessels now docked on this island. Oh, I have gotten ahead of myself!

While trying to figure out what is happening with the priestess, Gal uses Eldritch Blast to blow a hole in the south wall. I step outside to keep watch, and during this time an elderly looking woman approaches the hut, obviously the hut’s owner. She appears to be fae so I proceed with caution outside. She comes into her hut and seeing us demands to know why we are there. Gal explains that he heard someone crying out and came in to help the Drow, but the Hag seems not to believe this. She makes mention of someone in our party being the death of us, someone we should be very wary of…and then makes mention of us not leaving this area alive. Taking that as a threat and erring on the side of caution, I cast Silence on the room while Gal globs her in one place.

After a bit we realize she needs to help with the delivery of the baby that is now ready to be brought into this world so I drop the Silence spell…but not quite trusting the Hag or the Priestess (although the latter seems far enough gone to be of little threat at this moment).

After releasing her she attends the birthing and it’s obvious at once she’s having twins. We aren’t quite sure what to expect, will the Hag take kindly to us in her house? Will she understand from which we come and how much worse we could have responded? Will be learn who in our party is likely to backstab us? All will be known in due time.

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