Ep 70: “Shorter is Better”

In the morning, Owen worked with the guard and looked into Bezel more. Mari worked in her shop. Kali held the first service in her temple and had a couple of people peak in to look. Saxi worked and then tried to speak with Ezra, but he had no been at the temple lately. Lark went to Cyl’s shop and started making paintball pellets to sell. Oisin spent time with Pinból since Pinból had spent a lot of time sleeping after all the work he did. Oisin left breakfast for him when they left the house.

The Beer Forge was pretty busy when the group got there. Kali, Mari, and Owen arrived first. Kali told them about opening her temple and asked Owen about his bruises. They discussed what they may want to do that day and Owen suggested looking into Bezel more. Ivy walked over with a tray of something covered in waffle batter. It was cheese wrapped in a savory batter.

Saxi, Lark, and Oisin arrived after that. Everyone tried the cheese sticks as Ivy talked with the group. She had more information about a new group in town. The people at the sunken ship weren’t actually from the Black Steel or the Steel Syndicate. They were actually called Birchfield Seekers.

Birchfield was very organized compared to the other groups and had some rivalry with the other groups. It varied by the group how extensive the rivalry actually was.

The group discussed what to do that day. They decided to go to the castle and Mari cast Water Breathing  on everyone. Oisin thought they saw something out of the corner of their eye and a letter appeared on the table. It had a black seal with a glittery silver spider on it.

Oisin carefully opened the letter. It was a handwritten note scrawled quickly in ink:

“This will be your last warning. Do not close the portal.”

They decided to continue to the castle since they weren’t planning to close the portal that day anyway. They walked out and heard a sharp whistle from across the road. A man walk into the alley and they realized it was Aldion.

He lead the group into a doorway and into a room. He pulled a large bag out from behind a crate and pulled out a jar with a lid. It looked like it may be an urn and was made of metal.

He said that they needed the essence of at least eight shadow creatures to close the Shadowfell portal. The essence of ten would make it easier and six would be the minimum to close the portal.

Aldion told the group that collecting all the essences would be a great milestone. He said it would require a lot of concentration to gather the essences into the urn. Whoever wielded the urn would have to focus and concentrate on the creature for a solid minute. It would also require attunement to use the magical item.

He agreed that he would research the men with the spider symbols and try to find more information. He warned the group that if they encountered a lich or vampire, the jar would destroy its soul while gathering the essence. The group decided to go looking for the shadow essence and he said that any type of shadow creature should be able to provide essence. The group decided to get healing potions, go to see Pinból, and then go into the caves.

Arland’s Alchemical Oddities was just a couple doors down from Mari’s shop so they headed there. Owen, Mari and Oisin saw it for the first time. Arland told everyone he could not sell magic items in Cinderhaven, because of the Sub Rosarium. If the group joined an adventuring group, then there would be benefits such as scroll insurance, discounts, and sponsorships sometimes.

Oisin bought a holy symbol for their goddess and Arland said to let him know if the group made a formal foray into being an adventuring guild. The door opened as the group got ready to leave and there were several people outside. Each person had a green cloak with an emblem on their cloak clasps bearing the head of a wolf and a star in the middle, and they all had the same weapons and armor. They were with the Beastmasters.

Kali asked one of them about how to start her own group. The woman said it was a long process, but possible and said her name was Jillia. She said if the group wanted to start its own guild group then they would need talk with a man named Hasko. He was not in town yet, but would be sometime in the next few days.

At Pinból’s, they went in the back door and several noticed that the portal looked a little more menacing, possibly from the new safety measures Pinból had mentioned. Everyone went in and spoke with him. Oisin pulled him aside and confronted Pinból about why he didn’t say that he had to do something in order to let the group get through the portal for the flower.

Pinból said he didn’t mean to hide it, but did not think about saying it at the time. Oisin was worried about the stress and danger if Pinból did it again. They told Pinból the group would have to go back into the Shadowfell. He said he needed to know before the group went through, because he had to take the guardian away to make it safe for the group. Imelda, as the Vessel, was the guardian and it was mostly draining rather than dangerous for him to keep her away. He gave Oisin one of a pair of sending stones to contact him with when they were on their way back. It would let him know that he could stop the ritual and they joined the group.

The group headed into the caves and down to the portal. The holy water basin was almost empty, possibly an effect of the negative energy from the portal. They discussed where to go in the Shadowfell and Owen attuned to the magic urn.

As they were about to walk through, there was an attack with alchemist’s fire and someone called out that they had been warned. The group pointed out that they were about to go into the portal, not close it, and Lark investigated where the attack may have come from. Oisin used detect magic to look for any signatures and found nothing.

They went further into the caves to look for the attackers. Kali saw an orangish-red flicker in a nook around the corner, as if something was leaning against a wall. It looked like a curved board, 3-4 feet tall and made out of shiny, painted material.

Mari cast Pass Without a Trace and the group snuck closer. They got closer and saw another board, and another one. Kali figured out that they were not boards, but scales and realized it was the spider dragon. The group backed up very quickly and discussed whether to attack it.

They decided to go through the portal. Before they did, Kali took a piece of chalk from Saxi and wrote “Kindly, go fuck yourself,” on the ground next to where the alchemist fire hit. Then the group went through.

The Shadowfell was desolate and everything looked decayed. They saw 3 groupings of creatures in the desert. In a ruined ship, there was an ethereal creature with a purple glow in it’s chest, enormous tusks, and claws. There was a cave where something peaked its head out a few times. They realized it was a huge drake head that was shadowy and creepy. In a field, there were wispy shadows moving on their own and a horse that looked sick or undead. It had a horn on its forehead and hooves sharpened like claws. The drake and unicorn creature seemed more corporeal.

They decided to go after the unicorn monster. Owen knew that it might be able to cast magic so the group approached cautiously. Saxi cast Magic Weapon on the net that Oisin was carrying.

Owen began using the jar on the unicorn.

The Demon-icorn attacked Lark and he used a Moonbeam spell to attack back. Everyone attacked it together, trying to keep it subdued but not kill it. Oisin threw the now magical net onto the creature. It was trapped and everyone attacked. Lark’s Moonbeam was stronger than he realized and it killed the demon-icorn, so the group quickly headed over toward the drake.

Owen used an illusion to try and draw out the drake since there was a wall of darkness. Owen called out the drake in a “knightly” voice, but there was no response and he tried again. This time the drake came out and attacked the illusion. It used magic darkness to swallow the illusion and, since the group could not find anything else to fight, they left to let Pinból release the spell quickly. Owen grabbed the horn from the demon-icorn and Saxi grabbed the hooves.

The group left the portal and saw the blood crystals near the portal had been stomped on. The chalk message had been scraped or scuffed off. Lark and Mari collected some of the blood crystal dust to be studied. Oisin used the sending stone to tell Pinból he could release the spell after the group had moved away from the portal and stood over near the basin. Pinból was alright back at the tower and he released the spell. As Pinból released the ritual, the Vessel appeared before the portal.

Everyone went back to Pinból’s and had him look at the unicorn horn. He said it was possible to use rituals to imbue it with magical properties. There were ways to turn it into a wand of binding and that would be his recommendation. It would be cheaper than the old fashioned way, but might come with a quirk or two. The ingredients would be expensive to get, but the group could also harvest the items. The group talked some more and went their separate ways.