Ep 53: "How Does Your Garden Grow"

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The morning of Renaris 18th started like any other, with the group getting their morning activities done. None of them could have foreseen the things that would occur later that day.
Mari worked on setting up her shop, ‘Sunflower Dreams’. Saxi was relaxing and did her work sign spinning for the spa. Kali left Primeheart’s camp later in the morning and headed to the Beer Forge. Nyx was working at the Greaser’s Guild  and “suggested” that Finkoo take them to lunch. Pip arrived at the Greaser’s Guild to commission a barbed net, then headed to lunch with “Bridget” and Finkoo.
A new waitress greeted the party at the Beer Forge. She was human and appeared fairly ordinary. She offered them a new breakfast item, which turned out to be something akin to breakfast sushi. The waitress’ name was Laura, and she seemed to have an interesting working relationship with the rest of the staff. The breakfast sushi was delicious, and the party took their orders to-go as the headed to the cliffs. They hoped to finish exploring the breezy tunnel that day. “Bridget” used an oil of slipperiness to potentially assist in squeezing through the cave. The party also bought some semi-precious, and precious, stones to feed to Dun.
As the party descended the rope, they felt warmer than usual. They realized that, for the first time in a long time, sun was peeking through the heavy cloud cover. Something that had not happened in the past 17 years.
Inside the breezy tunnel, three members of the party fed Dun 15 GP worth of stones, and received a Bedrock’s Blessing. This gave them a resistance to physical damage for the next 24 hours. Once they arrived at the low tunnel shelf, “Bridget” turned into “Thomas”, in order to squeeze through more easily. Nyx/Bridget/Thomas then informed the party of their true heritage.
After 20 minutes of crawling, they emerged into a tunnel network. Every once in a while, a copper coin was found on the tunnel floor. Pip collected them and put them in the first pocket of his magic belt. Coins continued to appear every 10 feet or so and eventually lead to a skeleton that sat near a small pile of coins and a decaying belt pouch. Saxi was able to determine that the skeletal remains were either that of a baby dragon or a drake. If it had been a dragon, she could tell that it was either black or copper because of the local environment.
Kali was shocked, and saddened, then sang a song in Draconic to lament the creature’s passing. Pip examined the bag, but couldn’t discover any hints to its origins. Kali took one of the creature’s teeth and promised to bring it back once she found someone able to do so.
They proceeded further, and discovered what seemed to be the beginnings of a hoard. There were mundane weapons and armor, all seeming to be a bit rusted. A quiver full of arrows was in immaculate condition and some books were found intact, as well as a few scrolls. A sword is found in immaculate condition, as well as a steel shield in good condition. A cloak was found as well, appearing in good condition. Nyx picked up the cloak and found themselves engulfed, as teeth appeared inside it.
The battle that ensued was arduous. The creature used several abilities to frighten the party, blur its appearance into multiple illusory forms, and engulfed different members of the party. While engulfed, the party member took half of the damage that was dealt to the cloaker. Something which the party did not fully understand at the time.
Mari attempted to dislodge the cloaker from Pip, but was instead engulfed herself in the process. In attempting to free them by damaging the creature, the party also damaged Pip and Mari. In an attempt to kill the creature and get to Mari, Saxi dealt several blows to the cloaker. Mari fell unconscious within the cloak and, as the creature squeezed her tightly within its embrace, Mari was killed. Saxi, realizing that something was very wrong, managed to shove the creature off of Mari and saw her friend fall, lifeless, to the ground. She turned on the creature and used her divinely enhanced wrath to cleave it in two.
In the loot from the hoard was a bag of holding, which the party used to carry Mari out of the caves. Despite their reservations, they decided to go to Afra and ask if she could assist in bringing Mari back.
Nyx and Pip proceeded to Afra’s office. A male voice could be heard behind the door, telling them to enter. Xylar was standing in Afra’s office and introductions were made.  Afra asked to be called Vas or Vasafra and let them know what would be required for the two options to bring Mari back.
Raise Dead, which had to be done within the next 10 days, required a 3 karat diamond and 1500 gp for the spell to be cast. She would be brought back in her original body.  The other option was to Reincarnate her, which would likely mean her coming back as a different race, and that would cost 1000 gp worth of unguents and herbs. Pip told Vas that they would try for the diamond. She then informed them that she would have her friend ready to cast Reincarnate within the next 10 days, in case they needed it.
Nyx had an idea to reach out to the Inverted Cup for assistance in locating a diamond that size. Finkoo went with them to locate a contact. The contact they found said that he knew someone who might be able to help. The cost would not be insignificant.
He lead them to a local inn and up to one of the rooms on the second floor. Inside the room was a beautiful woman, dark skinned with white hair and dressed in expensive clothing. It was Anica Chin-Raton. Her price for the diamond – Nyx must bargain with Nathan for his cartography business. The process would involve finding his uncle, and another stakeholding family member, to approve of the sale. Nyx replied that they would talk to Nathan.
Meanwhile, Saxi and Pip went to speak with Nathan and informed him of Mari’s fate. It did not go well. Nyx, as Thomas, and Finkoo arrived with the details for the deal to obtain the diamond. Nathan did not react well to the information. After some discussion, Nathan decided that the lesser of two evils was to bring Mari back via the Reincarnate spell.
Pip and Nyx returned to the Divine Foundry and informed Vasafra of the decision. She agreed to notify her friend and meet them at Mari’s shop in an hour.
Vasafra entered the shop accompanied by a golden skinned elf, with yellow eyes and long golden and green hair. The elf was wearing leather clothing interwoven with ivy. He carried a gnarled wooden staff topped with a carved vulture head. He picked a spot in the garden to conduct the Reincarnate ceremony, and spent the next hour conducting the ritual. A new body was grown from the fertile soil of the garden. Mari’s new body was a beautiful gray tabaxi, and she awoke to life more quickly than the druid had anticipated.
While Nathan and Mari embraced, the elf approached Saxi and Pip. He told them that something odd had happened, that Mari  should not have come back so quickly. They couldn’t tell him why, so he told them to keep an eye on Mari. When asked what they should call him, he gave them the name “Ezra”.  Ezra mentioned to Vasafra that they were “even” and departed.
Mari realized that, despite her new appearance, she still had her Nikosta abilities. She showed them to Nathan and then told him about her true heritage.
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