022 - The Path to Avongad Lake
It is early morning. Wazo dreams.
She is in a field of wildflowers & grass. The sun is just beginning to rise. Looming over her is a dark figure in a dark blue and black cloak. The Raven Queen. Under cloak's hood, her face is a dark void.
Wazo calls out, "Hello? What do you want?"
The raven queen says, in a low, gentle but commanding voice, "You have experienced near-death. I have more for you to do." She holds out her hand towards Wazo.
Wazo takes her hand, and leather of her bracers glows & hardens. The Raven Queen says, "May these protect and guard you on your journey."
(Wazo's Bracers of Lesser Defense have become Bracers of Defense!)
Aaron also dreams. He is in a dark void. A giant snake climbs his body, its warm scales sliding over his body.
"You have dissssobeyed me. I gave you my power, and you rebelled. There WILL be consequences!"
It draws back and strikes at his head, biting his eyes. He startles awake, and feeling his face, his eyes seem undamaged. As he falls back asleep, he sees a soft magical glow around his little sister, who sleeps peacefully.
The sun streams into the room, and the group awakens to a rumble in the floor, which stops after just a moment. Tegan and Aaron armor up and the group heads out of the room, Wazo carrying the still-sleeping Zelindra. Outside the room a guard says, "I'm glad you're awake. Please, come with me. Vaeoto would like you to meet our guest."
Someone asks, "What was that rumble?"
"The tower is growing. With the curse lifted, every week or two it grows. It gives our people more room as we grow with it."
On the way through the maze of passages, Zelindra wakes up, so Wazo lets her walk. The group arrives in a well-appointed dining hall, where seated near Vaeoto is Elgin! The two are deep in mental conversation.
Vaeoto greets the group, and as everyone all dig in, we fill him in mentally with the details of their adventure underground. Elgin listens mentally as well. Zelindra explains how she was kidnapped, nearly sacrificed, and everything. Elgin interrupts her and asks, "Do you have magic inside of you?"
"I have done some things I haven't been able to explain. I thought very hard and one of the other prisoners' shackles broke, and she escaped."
"That is a sign of a budding mage. You would do well to study magic."
"I always thought it was some kind of god looking down on me."
Elgin looks at Aaron. "And you two are related?"
"Yeah... there's a couple years between us but we grew up together."
"Interesting. I guess magic runs in your family. She is much too young to be traveling with you. Do you have plans for family or a friend to look after her?"
"Our family is gone."
"If you accept, I would love to bring her back to Penustad with me to study the arcane arts."
"That's fine with me, but it's really Zelindra's decision."
"That would be excellent, but I will miss you brother."
"I'll visit you often."
"Do you promise?"
"Yes. We have to make it safe first, from the Emerald Enlightment." "Okay!" Zelindra nods. Elgin concludes, "Well then. We will message you Aaron when we get back safely."
Vaeoto says, "I want to thank you all again for what you've done for Gondra and its people. I'm sure you felt the tower growing again. I forgot to give you something last night, since it was late. This is the other half of the communication earrings. With your quest to take down the Emerald Enlightenment it might be helpful to stay in communication."
They accept the gift and since Wazo's ears are not really right for an earring, Aaron wears it. The group chats about next steps and decides to head to Avongad Lake. They ask Vaeoto about it, and he describes a city around the lake, with an island in the middle. There is little contact with them since Gondra has a longstanding agreement to leave them alone.
The group grabs a little more food, then says goodbye to the Gondrans and sets off north out of the glen, towards the lake.
As they travel, they see autumn colors and falling leaves. A warm breeze meets Aaron and coaxes him off the path. He veers off, onto a winding dirt path through large trees. Tegan and Wazo call after him, but he insists there is a wonderful smell. He keeps walking deeper. The branches start to obscure the path. Wazo chases him, but the branches close in, blocking the path.
As Aaron continues, the breeze guides him to a simple altar inside a hollow tree. Above it is a natural wreath. Aaron feels compelled to kneel. A voice speaks to him, "(some stuff I missed)...Will you serve me?"
The mysteries of nature become clear to Aaron, as the warm air envelops him. When he opens his eyes, he sees the altar has become a sapling. He touches it and blue blossoms form on it. He senses that this is a symbol of his new covenant with this spirit. The wreath also blooms as he touches it.
He backs away from the altar and the vines pull back from the path where Wazo was hacking at them.
"I think I got rid of the bad voices"
Tegan asks, "Did you just have a stern conversation with your patron, or what?"
Aaron answers, "It's more like, I found a new source of power that's more friendly."
He charms a nearby squirrel. It's named squeak. The group chats for a bit, coming to terms with this welcome change. While this is happening, the ground begins to shake. Trees break down as something approaches from the north. Tegan runs east to avoid being trampled, and Aaron quickly follows. Wazo flies straight up, as two hill giants smash their way closer. Initiative!
Wazo holds her attack until one of the hill giants acts aggressively. Tegan calls out, "Hello!" but they don't answer
- Aaron shapeshifts to blend into the trees
- Tegan walks out from the trees and lays out a blanket, hoping they will not just attack mindlessly
- Hill giant 1 lumbers over to Wazo with aggressive intent. She is ready and attacks
- Hill giant 2 chucks a boulder at Tegan, who dodges out of the way
- Wazo stabs and slashes at her giant again, doing her best to hurt it
- Aaron blasts at giant 2 but misses
- Tegan turns into a T-Rex
- HG1 swings twice at Wazo, hitting once. She dodges a second blow.
- HG2 swings his club twice at Tegan rex, doing serious damage
- Wazo stabs HG1, then misses with a slash
- Aaron slams HG2 with two EB
- Tegan rex viciously bites HG2, and winds HG1 with his tail
- HG1 beats Wazo again with his club
- HG2 slams Tegan rex on the head, and he loses concentration
- Aaron heals Wazo
- Tegan misses with a SW then hits HG2 with GFB
- HG1 beats on Wazo twice with his club
- HG2 looks down at Tegan, confused. He slams down with the club, but misses twice
- Wazo slices and slashes at HG1, and its guts spill out as it falls over, dead
- Aaron casts frostbite on HG2. It fails the save and painful frost forms on its left shoulder
- Tegan stabs and cuts at HG2, but it clings to life
- HG2 lines up a deadly strike on Tegan, but the frostbite affects his aim and he misses. His second hit catches Tegan in the ribs
- Wazo stabs the giant through, and it falls down dead
Aaron watches as the others rest, but as they are standing up four giant boars emerge from the clearing. Initiative again!
- Aaron casts Major Image, and suddenly towering over Tegan and Wazo, there appears to be an enraged T Rex!
The boars flee, unwilling to face the t-rex. The group makes their way back to the path.
As they continue towards Avongad Lake, they discover an outcropping with a sheltered area below it. The group makes camp, building a fire. Aaron and Tegan sleep while Wazo takes the first watch.
Wazo drifts to sleep for a little bit, but wakes up to a peaceful camp. She wakes Tegan and climbs into her pack.
During his watch, Tegan studies the wand and shoes. He is distracted by his study of the items, but at one point, he hears a sound in the distance. It fades away again, and he passes the task to Aaron.
Aaron plays simple games with Squeak. Morning comes without issue.
Tegan shares what he learned about how the wand and boots work, and gives Aaron the wand and Wazo the boots. Aaron takes the dust to study it as they travel.
The group eventually comes in view of a large lake, with dwellings around the edge and an overgrown island in the center.