Ep 49: "Good Strokes and Heart Ons"

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The party had decided to continue their lunch meetings. So, on the morning of Renaris 14, they finished their morning duties and headed for the Beer Forge.
Yoth and Owen were working with the guard in the Dawn District and decided to head to the Beer Forge for lunch. Rosie tried to find Daisy to ask about her date with Finkoo, but was unable to find her before she and Nathan went to the Beer Forge. Cyl collected legal paperwork for her new workshop. Saxi spun her sign for a few hours  and then went to the Beer Forge
Everyone talked and caught up with what the others had been doing. Cyl told everyone about her new workshop. Her boss, the Maestro, had left the city now that his patron, the King, was gone. He left the workshop to her and she had a lot of paperwork.
They talked about the different options for what to do that day. They could explore the caves, head toward the ancient city in the mountains, they could get involved in the newly developing politics of the city, or they could explore the submerged castle. They decided to go explore the caves and look for the portal to the Shadowfell
On the walk to the caves, the group chatted and revelled in being together again with a mission. People impersonated Owen and joked around with him, Rosie teased Nathan about Mari after he mentioned how much he missed her and Yoth empathized with Nathan’s longing. Yoth had not seen his family in several years
When they got to the cliffside, Yoth dropped his disguise and most of the party saw his true visage for the first time. No one was surprised to see he was a Braith, They were all happy that he had finally trusted them enough to show his true face.
To get down the cliff quickly, Saxi carried Rosie and Binxie down. The others all used the rope that had been placed a few days before. Cyl tethered herself to Yoth, just in case he had trouble and fell. Meanwhile, Owen used his climber’s kit and Nathan used the rope of climbing They found the large crack in the cliff face that acted as the entrance and squeezed in.
Inside the Cave there were 3 paths for the group to choose from. One path smelled very stale, one path had a noticeable breeze, and the last path smelled of sea spray. Rosie and Yoth had no interest in the path with sea spray, since they wanted to avoid the water. The group ended up flipping a coin for the other two paths and went down the one with the breeze.
Saxi marked the pathway they took with chalk as they went. It got dark very quickly but it was a very linear path with no real branches that lead off to other areas. They checked the possible offshoots that they found, but they all either looped back or were only big enough for Rosie to squeeze through. Some larger caverns were along the path as well, but they also had no divergent pathways.
They continued to explore for 2-3 hours and finally came upon something strange. There were six mummified dire bats within a cavern they came to and the bodies looked as though they had been tossed aside. Saxi used her divine sense and was able to determine that the bodies were not undead. Nathan and Owen examined the bodies for wounds and found none.
The group could not tell, from the outside, whether magic or nature had caused the mummifications. Owen decided to cut one open to perform an autopsy and discovered that all the internal organs were fresh. The bodies could not have been more than 24hrs old.
They cautiously continued on for a while longer and came to an alcove. It was the type of alcove where you might expect to see a statue in a fancy house but the floor of it was all cracked. Owen threw a stone at it to check if it was an illusion and determined it was not. Yoth sent a silent image of himself into it, to see if it triggered anything, and the group was able to rule a visually triggered trap.
Finally Nathan walked in and began examining it. He found some sort of inscription or carving on the wall and took a rubbing of it. Owen and Rosie joined him to see if they could find any more information. Saxi checked around the outside of the alcove while Yoth and Cyl guarded everyone’s backs with weapons drawn.
Owen and Rosie suddenly started to feel weak and drained of energy, so they tried to leave the alcove. As they moved away, they discovered that they were standing in a puddle that looked like blood and it was also wrapped around their ankles. The pool of blood seemed to flow from them and into the cracks in the ground. They managed to pull away from the ooze, but it injured them all.
Battle ensued and everyone fought the blood ooze.Owen used a Vicious Mockery spell and called it a “Goddamn useless sack of hemoglobin.” Binxie touched Nathan’s leg and maxxed out the damage on his Eldritch Blast spell. A lot of damage was done by the blood ooze and, everytime it sucked blood from one of the party, it would gain some of its own vitality back and heal itself. It was not going down easily.
Yoth managed to hit it with a Witch Bolt spell. Saxi spent a lot of her time frantically healing her friends. The blood ooze was also immune to fire and necrotic damage, which decreased the group’s ability to fight it.
Eventually, Owen called for everyone to run and the group prepared to flee the area. They knew they could not take much more and several of them had already been knocked unconscious and brought back. Binxie used his abilities to give Nathan back a spell slot just Owen called for the retreat.
Nathan, in a somewhat misguided attempt to help distract the ooze, then cast Summon Lesser Demon and 4 demons appeared. They were surrounded by swarms of insects that began attacking everyone. Nathan had no way to control them since that wasn’t part of the spell, but the group was able to make its way past the demons and the ooze.As they fled, the group looked back to see the ooze as it was destroyed by the demons.
The group talked on the walk back through the caves and into the city. Yoth was upset that he had not gotten the kill on the blood ooze. He also felt that he had been useless during the battle and Cyl tried to comfort him, but he was having none of it. He said he wanted the satisfaction of the kill and the blood.
Owen was livid with Nathan. This was the second time that Owen had told the group to scatter or run and Nathan had attacked again, at the risk of his own friends. They argued a bit and Nathan admitted that he hadn’t made the best decision with the demons. Owen told him to think next time and walked away.
Nathan and Yoth also had words. Yoth was upset and felt like Nathan had “stolen” his kill, but he was impressed by Nathan’s abilities. Yoth asked Nathan to teach him more about his warlock abilities, because he felt that his had been “weak”. Nathan admitted that he didn’t even know how his own powers worked and could not teach Yoth.
Yoth admitted to Nathan that he wanted the kill and the blood. Nathan admonished him and said that this wasn’t a game they were all playing, it was a life or death situation for everyone. He told Yoth that if he was only in it for the blood, he should just leave. In a moment of sadness, pain, and emotional exhaustion; Yoth sobbed slightly as he softly muttered that he just missed “them” so much. He then walked away from Nathan quickly and tried to compose himself.
The group made their way back into the city. They were bruised, and a little dehydrated, but alive.
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