011 - New friends, old enemies
It's dusk. In the alley near the burning headquarters, the group can smell the smoke lingering on their clothes. The city around them is full of anxious sounds, and people rushing towards or away from the disaster. The party can hear shouts from the local bucket brigade calling for more water in the distance.
Deciding to put some distance between them and this scene of chaos, they travel a few blocks. Valtix is with the group and says she will tag along to see what they looted from the Dawn's March. They decide to head to Faust's home as they believe he is someone they can trust.
He invites them in and locks the door behind them. Tegan introduces Faust and Valtix. Tegan empties out all the new stuff from the bag of holding:
- loose papers
- a ledger
- a metal safe, about 1 cubic foot, with an integrated combination lock and a handle
- an ornate dagger, with an ivory grip
Leafing through the ledger, Tegan finds a name showing up repeatedly: The Emerald Enlightenment. Entries like, "pillage the windmill", "kidnap a sculptor and take her to Mor'deni", and "take over the heart's blossom orchard and estate in Liegard". (Mor'deni is very far north of Hillvon)
Tegan picks up the dagger, studying it to figure out if it's magical. Aaron can see that it's magic, with an aura of enchantment. Faust sees them puzzling over it and identifies it: it's a +1 dagger, which also does +1 damage to good-aligned monsters.
The group tackles the safe combination lock: two outer rings are movable but the central one is fixed. All rings have 6 digits on each. Aaron has Flit start brute forcing it, trying every combination. Tegan digs through the loose papers to see if there is a combination written anywhere. The number 18 shows up frequently in Kraz Kimulty's doodles on the paperwork. They eventually figure out that all the totals need to add up to 18. Aligning the '12' in the outer ring and the '5' in the middle ring with the '1' allows them to turn the handle and open the safe. Inside they find:
- a 500 gp diamond
- emerald ring inscribed in dwarvish, "when life fades and darkness rises, there is still the final hope"
- a pouch of coins totaling 623 gold.
Wazo grabs the ring, then starts sorting through the coins. She asks Valtix what she will do now that she's free. Valtix says she plans to restart her business except with different goods. Wazo advises her to stay away from Hillvon, for safety's sake, and Valtix reassures her that she has opportunities all over, and that won't be an issue.
Tegan asks Valtix if she heard anything about the Emerald Enlightenment while she was imprisoned. She says no, but there was a leader coming in and out frequently. A slender female disguised with a cloak, probably a human, elf, or half-elf. Medium height.
Wazo gives Valtix 205 gold to get her business back on its feet. Expressing her gratitude, she says goodbye and heads out into the city.
Tegan asks Faust if he's familiar with the Emerald Enlightenment. Faust says that as far as he knows, they are a defunct cult that once worshiped a creature they hoped would take over Evermyr. The authorities (the duke & his ancestors) killed or exiled them over 300 years ago.
Wazo, at this point, has finished splitting up the rest of the gold from the safe, and gives Aaron and Tegan 139 gold each, a fair third.
The group bids farewell to Faust, giving him the safe and collecting the papers, gem, money, and dagger.
They trace their way through the Two Courts district, through the Dren Gate and into The Gardens district. It's early night, just after sunset. Flowers are closing as the light fades into night.
They push the ringer glyph and Troila lets them in. She says she has saved some dinner. "You're back later than usual. Busy day?" Tegan explains that they were crossing the city looking for ingredients to lift the curse on Wazo's wing. Wazo mentions that she is looking for feces and this makes Troila confused and uncomfortable enough to not ask anymore questions.
As they are eating, they decide to head north tomorrow to get the ingredients for the feather curse. Wazo mentions the burning of the headquarters and cuts herself off once she realizes someone might be listening.
They sleep through the night, and are up in time for a delicious breakfast.
The Road North
Yannic is there, surprised to see Tegan. "I didn't hear you come in, you must have been out pretty late." Tegan explains they were looking for ingredients to lift Wazo's curse. Yannic asks some probing questions to Wazo but Wazo answers gruffily and Yannic takes the hint.
After the meal, Wazo steals a silver fork. As she cleans up the table, Troila notices the missing fork but says nothing.
The group leaves the house, heading north through the city on foot. They cross the river, heading into Old Hillvon. They pass the two temples, then exit through the Green Gate into the Greenyard district. Tegan isn't familiar with this area. It looks like a low-income shanty town, populated with day-laborers. As they continue down the road the orchards give way to scenery. The fresh outdoors air from open fields quickly shifts to the cool air of a dark forest.
A short way into the forest, the group hears a conch horn, and from the left side of the road emerges a centaur. He shouts, "You hold the beacon of my missing Thessania! Prepare to die!" and charges the group. Tegan says, "What does it look like? If we have something of yours, I want to give it back." The centaur shouts, "Don't play games, I know you have it." Arrows fire through the brush, missing Wazo and hitting Aaron.
Aaron slams the first centaur with two eldritch blasts. Both connect, but instead of driving him back, the blasts seem much deadlier than before. He calls out to Tegan, "Armor! Mage armor!" Tegan twins mage armor for himself and Aaron.
Wazo rages. She runs up to the centaur and chops at him twice. "We don't know what the fuck you are talking about!!"
The first centaur stabs Wazo with his pike, then rears back and slams down on her with his hooves.
wazo is hit with an arrow from somewhere, then a second centaur charges her with his pike. Wazo is looking a little bloody. The first centaur tries to hit her, but misses. He pulls back, and Wazo reacts by shoving him to the ground.
Aaron blasts the closest centaur with vicious eldritch blasts.
Tegan uses hypnotic pattern, filling the air around the centaurs with dazzling, hypnotic colors, but they shake off the effect.
Wazo tries to grapple the grounded centaur but misses.
One of the centaurs stabs Wazo with his pike, then tries to stomp her but misses. The other one fires arrows at Wazo and Aaron.
Aaron uses vampiric touch through flit, siphoning some of the centaur's life energy to himself.
Tegan tries to hit the same one with chill touch but misses. He follows up with Spiritual Weapon, which hits.
Wazo digs out the sapphire she found on the dead centaur, and throws it to the ground. "There! Is that your fucking beacon??"
The fight abruptly halts. Wazo quickly explains how she found it. The centaur grieves as he listens to the story of finding his sister's ghost and remains. He gives Wazo two healing potions and says, "If you ever need anything, I am indebted to you." The centaurs head away into the trees.
Tegan casts a healing spell, but since Wazo is still pretty badly hurt the group takes a short rest.
The Witch's Hut
After that, they continue north. As they walk, it starts to rain, gradually getting more intense. Thunder booms in the distance. They reach a small clearing, and in it there is a door in a doorframe, coming up from an otherwise open stone foundation. Underneath where the roof would be, the ground is dry. Tegan throws a small stone where a wall would normally be, and it bounces off of something invisible. Wazo tries the door, but it's locked. She thinks about trying to force the door but ends up knocking.
An elderly elf answers the door after a long moment. Wazo says, "I'm not... charismatic. Can we come in? It's pouring out here."
The lady invites everyone in. The air is dry and warm, and the cabin is inviting and cozy inside. Along the walls there are herbs, and vials full of colorful swirling fluids. Looking up, there is a tall wooden roof with rafters strung with pelts and dried herbs.
Near the middle of the room a cauldron is cooking with a delicious smelling meaty stew. The elf starts getting out bowls to share some food. She introduces herself as Elbara Prymar-Geist. Tegan is the only one that accepts the stew.
She asks, "What are you doing up here in the woods?"
Tegan says, "We're trying to lift a curse."
"What ingredients are you looking for?"
Wazo: "Bugbear shit, purple leaves, turmeric. Some other stuff."
"Oh, no. You don't happen to be from Hillvon?"
Looking concerned, everyone is nodding yes.
"That's my sister, Tessa Prymar. She fell under a curse from a powerful mage a year or so ago, and she has been tasked with tricking the city dwellers. I can do a ritual to remove your feather curse. But it will cost you a memory of a loved one."
Tegan asks, "Can anyone pay the memory?"
Wazo insists that she will pay, she doesn't want Tegan's help with this.
Tegan asks what the trap is that her sister uses. Elbara explains, "Tessa lures people to a cave, where she taps into old magic from an abandoned temple. She drains her victims of their life force stealing it for herself."
Wazo asks, "How do we know you're not doing the thing you accuse your sister of?"
"Who led you to Tessa?"
Wazo and Aaron say, "Tegan's mom."
"You can't trust her! I've seen her recruiting gnolls, heading north to Penustad."
Tegan glumly comments that this fits with other things they've seen. Wazo and Aaron offer their sympathy.
Wazo decides to let Elbara remove the curse. She thinks of the happiest memory of her mate, Aves. Of his faithfulness and devotion, and the love they had for each other. He went and hunted for food just once, and then stayed with the brood until they hatched while Wazo hunted.
Elbara uses a wand and pulls out the memory, a silver strand of scenes from Wazo's mind. She puts the memory in a vial, and uses a residue from it to add to a cauldron. She mixes various herbs and ingredients together and eventually has a glowing pink fluid she hands to Wazo. She gulps it down. She feels the warmth of Aves' love. She feels his warm embrace around and as it envelops her, the cursed feather falls to the ground. Elbara says, "The curse has been broken. Would you like to keep this? It may help you to remember your husband later."
Wazo says, "Put it in the bag of holding then."
Elbara confides, "I lost my husband years ago. Even though I love him dearly, I know his spirit's here with me." "Thank you." "You're welcome."
Aaron asks, "What do we do about your sister?" Elbara answers, "I've tried to break her out of it, but there are larger forces at work. There's something going on with the weave lately." Tegan asks, "Is that temple's power only evil? Or could it be used for good?" "From what I've felt from the weave, I don't think you'd want to harness that power." Lost in thought for a moment, Aaron says he wants to go to the cave, to try to seal it off so other people don't become victims. Elbara says the cave is about a day's walk away. She offers to let everyone stay the night. They gratefully accept. They fall asleep to the crackle of the fire and the drumming of rain on the roof.