Recap from last session: we were in the “Horrid Grotto” and have 3 vials of Potent Carrion Crawler Brain Juice; a level 10 poison. +13 vs. fortitude, ongoing 5 poison and slowed, save at -2. First failed save, target is immobilized, save at -2. Second failed save, stunned, save at -2.
We came up from the statue underground and were confronted by a group of Shadar-kai and a Tiefling who we battled. This group was working for Malachi, a mage of great power. They are heading for the fortress at world’s end. To arrive there, they proceed across the Shadowfell to the Gloaming Gate on the Shores of the Umbral Sea. Inside the temple of Ioun, we found Deidre mad and unstable, like the survivors of the Storm Crows. The Tear of Ioun has been corrupted and kept by the Mind Flayer who was using its energy for an unknown purpose. We’ve figured out that it causes chaos and madness. Apparently, someone with magical powers could use the stone as a focus to release chaotic energy to wash across the world, warping everything it touches.
And now, we begin THE BRINK OF MADNESS!!!!!!!!!
After going though the portal in the Temple of Ioun, we enter the Shadowfell. It’s a cracked, dark, and corrupted version of the temple that we find, and outside is a town of Wellspring which is similarly corrupted.
A brief examination of the temple and the surrounding village shows no signs of life and nothing useful. Helja is able to track a group of humanoids out of the temple, but no farther than that. Stub however, has a good nose and is able to track the quarry. The party follows the quarry along what would be a well-traveled road in the natural world but is an overgrown rutted track here.
We make it 10 miles before nightfall and then camp for an uneventful evening. We set off in the morning and travel 12ish miles to a crossroads. There is a corpse in a hanging cage who points us to the East to gain great swag if we go that direction. We decide to blow off this unsolicited corpse advice and continue to the north since that’s our best guess for where our quarry is headed. We make camp at another crossroads. The ranger can’t track her way out of a paper bag, but Stub remains very confident that we should head north. Thrask continues stretching and strengthening his wings until they at last able to support him – he can fly for short distances and is very pleased with himself.
(Delilah takes up residence behind the DM screen)
As we wander along, Thrask wracks his memory for any knowledge about the Gloaming Gate. He recalls that it is supposed to be a link between the Shadowfell and the Fortress At Worlds’ End. This is an ice-encrusted fortress in the natural world. We are clearly traveling a much greater distance here in the Shadowfell than we would in the natural world.
As we near the end of the day, Stub pulls the party off the rutted path and into the rough which is even slower going. We hear the lapping of a large body of water ahead. We travel until we see a gate in the distance beyond many gnarled trees with enormous, tangled root balls.
“The bleak landscape gives way to a dark sea. Before it stands an arch of metal containing billowing black and violet smoke.” There is a large, armed creature with an exoskeleton before the arch, and numerous armed beasts who look like hairless and eyeless dogs. The insectoid demon guarding the gate informs us that they are guarding it for his master. Only those with business with his master may pass. All others will be relieved of their miserable lives. Helja finds this to be very clichéd bad guy monolog, and shoots the closest hairless beast in the throat. Battle ensues. The insect demon breathes clouds of toxic acid. Laer zaps beasts with lightning, which is partially shed by their dark powers. Quarion throws icy rays and misses entirely. Helja lays into the beasts and knocks them about with her hammers. The beasts fight with very long, barbed tongues. Icky.
(The DM steals some cheesy poofs)
From within the roiling smoke of the portal, an armored human form emerges. He bursts the area around him with darkness – pitch black that cannot be illuminated. Poison, dazing, necromantic damage is thrown about. Dwarven curses ring out. Ice and lightning fly. Laer turns into a pool of acid and oozes over his enemies. That ain’t right.
The insect meso-demon stabs about with his long trident and drags Laer across the field of battle. Helja cannot for the life of her save vs. being dazed so Stub sits at the back of the field growling impotently. Thrask blankets the enemies with ice. Sib throws curses around (not the Dwarven kind). Quarion casts various ineffectual spells. The beasts stagger and daze the heroes. Thrask shouts, “Laer, suck it up!” and bursts the area with an explosion of icy shards from Dragonborn breath, killing one of the beasts and wounding the demon and another beast. Laer is rimed with ice but takes no damage from the explosion. Sibs throws shards of darkness about, stabbing the armored human. The party is generally miffed about the fact that the demons resist cold, fire, and lightning.
(an absurdly large Sheltie drops a slobber soaked toy in Brian’s lap.)
Once we get up close and personal, we realize the armored human is some sort of ghostly spectre who is insubstantial. He’s hard to hurt, and Helja gets pissy. “Quarion is pretty much useless.”
Artantos, the shadow demon gets really tall. Helja goes all steampunk and uses her goggles. The party realizes it’s going to take another six months to kill him, and moves their focus to everything else. Combat hijinks ensue. Eventually all the beasts are slain, and the Beastlord has no beasts over which to lord. He settles for stabbing Thrask viciously with his trident.
After the corpses litter the ground, the magic types examine the misty gate. It’s a one way portal to the Fortress at the World’s End. Helja encourages everyone to layer all the clothing in their backpacks, because the danger from freezing will be very real. One by one, they go through the gate.
Stepping through the gate, we lurch onto an ice mote in a freezing sea, and we are battered with bitter cold. In the distance is a cliff, and somewhere beyond it are flickering lights. We are stuck on the mote, as we certainly can’t get into the water. Well, maybe the Genasi can.
We see a cave or opening 50 feet above us, and a bridge 30 feet higher than that. We need to get off the ice as soon as possible. Thrask takes a rope, and fly in spurts up to the cave. Once there, he finds a cave carved from ice. The frigid mists seem to become solid and attacks him twice, but misses each time. Thrask then flies back down to the party, and lets them know that something is up there and is dangerous. Thrask then fly/climbs up toward the bridge. While we observe him flying up, Sib’s sharp Eladrin eyes see a fur-clad human figure watching Thrask’s ascent. He shouts a warning, but Thrask cannot hear over the screaming wind. The human shoots at Thrask with a longbow and hits with one of his arrows. He strikes back with dragon breath, and sees that they are backed by a large black bug looking creature with glowing red eyes. Thrask is driven off, and Helja and Sib shoot and injure the archers, driving them back from the edge.
(a large Siamese climbs onto the table and inserts his head into a bag of veggies. He leaves with broccoli and feline triumph)
There is much discussion about how to climb up fast enough, securely enough, and in enough numbers to fight the creatures. Helja suggests using our ritual ’Eagle’s Flight’ to get to the top without worrying about climbing or falling in the water. While Quarion casts the ritual and summons the spectral birds, Laer decides to see what happens if you fall into the icy waters. The answer – you get really fucking cold and lose a healing surge.
Mighty golden eagle spirits come to fetch us. They pick us up in their mighty talons and carry us as Quarion directs them. We choose to take an indirect route so that the archers can’t easily shoot at the eagles to bring us down. From our vantage point high in the air, we see a fortress with three sets of walls – like nesting dolls with a courtyard in the interior. There are steps leading up to a building which is emitting colorful light. We see some creatures moving between the walls. We choose to aim for the building in the center, hoping to fly in rather than have to fight our way through each wall and the creatures within.
(a Siamese parks herself on the table. Somehow, she winds up with Alea tools markers dangling from her whiskers.)
As we begin our descent, we hear the distinctive cackling of happiest/vrocks. They lunge in and attack us as we attempt to land. We are hampered by being held in the eagles’ talons and ill able to attack or defend. Quarion, Thrask, Laer and Sib are gouged by the vrocks before we can land and dismount. The party dismisses the eagles, then readies weapons as the harpies engage. They screech a horrific sound, which leaves our Eladrin both stunned .
(from Pam, not playing and doing her homework in the background while awaiting dinner, “Sucks to be you! I want a TPK so I can come back as a stack of 50 bards.”)
The vrocks’ shrieks stun the party, which somewhat hampers their performance as a well-oiled fighting machine. Once the Daybreakers shake it off and regain their equilibrium, they are able to dispatch the creatures, though they are covered with horrible poisonous spores in the process. As Helja delivers the final blow, she does the dwarf dance.
Spending time in the bitter and numbing cold causes the less sturdy of the party to lose healing surges.