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The Sixth Passage
Wherein...

...It was determined that Quill did, in fact know something. This was established to be a moot point as 2.5 members of the remaining party did not, and were perfectly contented to make up their own explanations for the situation.

...Ilitica entrusted the party with the knowledge that a High Priest of the Church of Three - Jessime - has conspicuously vanished from his diocese in Roun, supposedly between there and the woodlands near Ellis. Magical determinations of his whereabouts have thus far been to no avail.

... The herbicide of Ellis - known now as Agent Green - was found to be afflicting everything within one mile of the village, despite only being spread to the extent of 1000 feet. Trees were nearing death standing, underbrush wilted to nothingness, soil showing no sign nutrients, air was stilled and empty from all sounds of life. While in the village itself, the Agent Green was found to further afflict the people by ways of the produce and the air; the vapors accelerated by the burning of polluted cords of firewood. Strangely, the poison was found to primarily affect the mind, endowing a single-minded certainty before all reason. Lifting the affliction from the village elder gained the party free range to investigate and purge the poison, purifying the Ellisian foodstocks and uncovering the lab where Leopold distilled the tainting liquid. Besides the corpses of the village's previous clergy, the party found clear signs of demonic influence; abyssal mushrooms, unusual and uncomfortable indications the clergy's death, spines in the corpses indicating postmortem manipulation, and a symbol along the wall rank with the residue of planar travel. Quill took note to harvest a selection of the atypical mushrooms, while Mersire collected a sample of the distilled poison for experimentation purposes. Purging the remaining lot with a rain of holy water and reintegrating the corpses with the land, the party likewise neutralized the Agent Green with blessed waters, rendering it ineffectual without its vile components.

... The party departed Ellis to continue their pursuit of Lyle, the gray tiefling, leaving behind Wrunukt and Dobul, who refused the accompany Ilitica ("the cops, the MAN, the authorities). Tepra also left instructions with village elder Cary to fell and haul a series of trees towards the lairs of the hibernating perytons for the purpose of sealing them in, and to cut a ring around the edge of Agent Green's influence so they can establish a controlled burn of the timbers within, restoring the nutrients to the soil.

... The party travelled down the road to Roun, a fortress-city and one-time dragon lair still primarily populated by kobolds. Within the fortress monastery the party encountered Ilitica's investigative partner Nadiznya - or Naz, for short - and between her and the guard captain Hiida, found that the priest Leopold and was still belligerently holding up at the outskirts of town where he was hawking a disturbingly scented liquor. Also Spiders. Many abnormally large spiders.

... Half an hour was dedicated to bartering for lemons, in a fortress, on a mountain, that was once a white dragon's lair, on the northern side of the continent. Successfully. They were quite pricey.

... The party, accompanied by the paladin Naz, proceeded to the garden district to investigate Leopold's last know location. Wandering into the lemon greenhouse, Naz detected a vile influence afflicting the city's crops.

... The vile influence turned out to be spiders. A whole lot of hatching infernal spider eggs. Quill called them Neogi.

... The lemons are under attack.
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The Fifth Passage
The party cautiously approached the village of Ellis, warned so by Tepra upon noting how there flew a deviated flag of Pelor's symbol upon a red field. Dividing the party to investigate further, Izetti, Tarquinius, and Quill advanced to the village center, learning that said village was currently barricaded and under assault from an unknown entity. Sending a pantomimed warning to Mersire, Tepra, and the goblinoid thief pair, the exterior four hurriedly sought shelter within the village, harried by the entity.

Within, the party discerned the village's assailant to be predatory perytons which appeared after they undertook the teachings of the militant Pelorian cult. The hypothesis for their enhanced aggression was the village's application of a curiously powerful herbicide, destroying the natural cover of foliage and exposing them as easy prey. Determining the general direction the perytons were ranging from, the party set off to dispose of the creatures.

Along the way, found victims of the perytons were seen to deny the natural influences of rot that beings of the cycle would be subject to. Purification by fire seemed to resolve the issue. Likewise, the villagers were found to have been exceptionally prolific with their herbicides, decimating an unnecessarily wide swathe of the forest. This, however, was found to be and issue for another time.

Uncovering the perytons' abode, the party found a flock in hibernation with two more still active. Upon dispatching the pair, the party fell into a discussion over how to eradicate the remainder, when on the horizon they spied a concernedly portly man approaching astride a worryingly exhausted pegasus. He introduced himself as Ilitca.

Ilitica then proceeded to exposit at length - from there and for most of the way back to the village of Ellis - in exchange for inquiring as to the party's role in recent events concerning the cult of Mephistopheles in Prinlac. From this the party learned of the enforcers from the Church of Three (specifically this pair of Ilitica and Naz), some formal information on the perytons, the name and whereabouts of the Pelorian cult's local leader, and the casual - if rapidly silenced - acknowledgement of Quill as a warforged.

More important than all of this, however, is that this is the day that Mersire learned she's furry.
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Struggling
Day 1: Arwick’s dead, and we’ve all been put in a room barely big enough for all of us to fit in. We’ve gotten a bit to eat and drink, and I’ve managed to force it down, though the others are having more trouble and Tirondel stubbornly refuses to. Then he grabs a doorknob or pulls on a drawer and falls over, unconscious. I swear, I will never understand him.
Day 2: I decided to start sawing on this bed post. It’s slow work.
Day 3: Nobody knows what to do. I suppose we are like the animals my father and I used to keep on our ranch, just biding their time until they are killed. It must suck to be them.
Day 4: We were forced to go work today, cleaning up some wreckage that the Scourge caused. I looked around for things, but couldn’t find anything. I found some bread and ate a bit, but it disappeared very quickly. I’m not the only one forced to do such desperate things just to stay alive, I suppose.
Day 5: Another slave’s been killed for keeping something. He was sucked dry by a giant monster. I won’t let that happen to me.
Day 6: The others seem to have lost all hope, but I’m still sawing at the bed post. What is Tirondel doing?
Day 7: I may die here.
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Epic × 2!
We Suck at Reconnaissance: Session 11
Figuring out the Situation: Luckily, our little hiding place in the sewers seemed to be unnoticed by the Scourge and whatever else was above our heads. Safe for now, we talked about what we should do next. This was tough, because of course none of us knew the true scale of what was happening in King’s Port. For example, Snowy thought that the temples would be safe, for some reason? And of course, we were all hoping that the king’s palace (or castle?) hadn’t been overcome yet. Finally, we decided to go through the pipes, then look out at different locations to try to get a lay of the land. Of course, we had no idea where the Scourge were concentrated or anything, so we just decided to start where we were. We went to a nearby sewer grate and looked out. It didn’t look like there were any enemies near it, so we pushed it aside and climbed out. We snuck around the houses and heard chains rattling. We looked in the direction that the noise had come from and saw prisoners chained to a big iron wheel. This wheel was further chained to a hulking Scourge beast, like the one that we had fought at the campfire the previous night. Looking closer, there were actually two of these wheel contraptions. I didn’t recognize any of the prisoners, but it seemed like the rest of the party did. Snowy specifically seemed to be fighting the temptation to go fight the Scourge beasts. I asked him about it and he told me about his date that he had planned for about a week ago, with a girl named Berina, who he pointed out to me among the prisoners. Then Tirondel told me about a guy named Jonas Sulk. I recognized him as a bartender, but I couldn’t remember where from. Once they had gone far enough away that they probably wouldn’t notice us, Snowy stepped out from behind the house we were hiding behind and began sneaking after them (without warning us, might I add). Thomdril reluctantly followed, not willing to let him go alone, and Tirondel and I followed, praying that Snowy would not be stupid enough to attack them. After all, I needed to get to the boss. These small fry would just slow me down. Luckily, nobody attacked them, and we were able to sneakily follow them. They went to a large building with chitin on top, just like the Scourge infested towers in Grommshold. What was more worrying than the towers, though, was the man dressed in all black from before, seemingly issuing orders to the Scourge and wither beasts. More Scourge and wither beasts came to him. The wither beasts dragged the prisoners into the large building, and the Scourge climbed up a tower covered in the same black chitin. Once we were sure it was safe, we snuck forward and around the corner. Seeing a sewer grate, we ran over to it and Tirondel pulled out his lock picks. He fiddled around in the lock until it popped open, and we all jumped in. We could make it look like the grate was locked, but couldn’t actually lock it again from the outside, so I tied a rope from the grate to a rung of the ladder that went down, so that if someone tried to open the grate, they hopefully wouldn’t be able to. I disguised the rope with some of the tree stuff that I had been carrying around, so that hopefully it wouldn’t be as noticable. We settled in for the night, and were able to get a good night’s sleep despite being in the middle of enemy territory. The next morning, we went out to see if we could find any patterns in their movements and openings that we could exploit. Everything seemed roughly the same, though, and it seemed that the prisoners would always be guarded by multiple wither beasts and many Scourge. Even if we were to get the drop on them, there was no guarantee that we would survive the battle. We argued about what to do as we hid in a small house. A Scourge climbed over the house, but didn’t seem to notice us. For once, Tirondel was advocating for straight up attacking the monsters. We were interrupted by the sound of Scourge, seemingly coming back to their towers from all over the city. We hid for hours. One Scourge even came in the house, but left without seeing us. We looked out and saw that there weren’t as many Scourge on the streets anymore. By now, it was almost pitch black outside. Tirondel wanted to speak to someone in the large building, so we decided to let him go. He ran up to the building, climbed up it to look inside a window that was high up on the wall, and we waited expectantly as he seemed to speak to someone behind it. Finally, he came back. He told us that he had talked to someone that he didn’t recognize, and that he couldn’t tell the person too much because ‘the Master’ could read their mind somehow if they thought about things, so he gave the person a fake name. Hopefully the master wouldn’t be able to get anything out of that. We slept for the night in the small house.
Finding the Resistance: The next morning, we saw Scourge climbing out of the chitinous tower and a wither beast with a group of prisoners, including Berina and Jonas. We followed them stealthily, and as we did, we saw another man also following them stealthily, between us and them. He wasn’t stealthy enough, though, and we saw a group of Scourge on a tower to the side of the street notice him and prepare to strike. They jumped at him. He tried to defend himself, but utterly failed. Thomdril swung and missed one, yelling at me to leave him one. Tirondel took out three with fire, and I, remembering what my father had taught me about the natural order of life, unleashed the force of nature upon them. I swung my axe in a horizontal slice, hitting one Scourge pretty badly and just annihilating the other. I also hit Tirondel, but he managed to block most of the attack on his shield. As Thomdril had asked, I had left him a weakened Scourge, who he easily dispatched. We met up with the man whose life we had just saved. We talked with him, and he told us that he was a resistance fighter and that he needed to go rescue a guy named Arwick, who apparently was the king’s advisor. He told us to stay where we were and keep an eye on Arwick as he went to gather up more forces. He left, and we saw what we hadn’t noticed before. The ruined building that the wither beasts and the prisoners had entered was the Galstaff Manor. All hope of the king and his family still holding out was gone. The building looked terrible, and as we watched, the ceiling collapsed, and we heard screams from inside it. I wanted to attack the wither beast standing guard, but Tirondel didn’t let me. We waited, and eventually the wither beast walked past us. We snuck behind him into the destroyed building. We saw a crater with six slaves in it, including Arwick. I let down a rope and the others climbed down. They noticed that Arwick was still alive, and attempted to resuscitate him. His eyes opened slowly. He said something, but it was quiet and I was too far away to hear it. Then I noticed something.
Utter Defeat: As this had been going on, an army of Scourge, wither beasts, and even the black clothed person had gathered around us. I challenged the ‘master’ to a duel. Finally, we could fight one on one. Before I could do anything, though, I heard a voice in my head, telling me to submit and drop my weapon. I steeled myself, but it wasn’t enough. Somehow, the voice overpowered me completely. My weapon, my prized greataxe, dropped slowly from my hands and I fell to my knees. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see the others doing the same, though Tirondel stayed up just barely, shaking. Tirondel, realizing that he had no chance of winning, sheathed his blade. We had been defeated.
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Epic!
After the Attack
Bright and early this spring morning, you made your way though the stone-paved streets of Chaville, the sound of festivities and the steady stream of foot traffic easily guiding you to one of the city's well-kept docks. There, a growing crowed jostled for the best view of the ornate three-hulled ship dwarfed by a massive canvas balloon: The Lady, the world's first commercial airship, poised for its maiden voyage to Archangel.

A flash of your gilded ticket and you are escorted past the heavy rope which keeps the onlookers at bay, up a carpeted gangplank, and into the lavish great hall where you settle in among your fellow passengers. Boarding and other preparations are completed shortly, and the ship lifts into the air. The Gabriel coastline quickly retreats in the distance, and soon the only view through the panoramic windows is fluffy clouds around you and endless ocean thousands of feet below.

Passengers are instructed to remain in the main hall until the cabins can be prepared... but minutes become hours, with no new developments except for the number of tray-carrying waitstaff gradually dwindling. The four guards stationed at each exit bar you from investigating and offer no information. Then suddenly, a fifth guard bursts in, announcing that their captain has taken command of the ship and all passengers are to be executed.

As the guards begin firing their crossbows, most of the passengers--merchants and aristocrats, not fighters--scream and take cover under their tables. However, you and a few other capable folks resist, and after a short scuffle manage to overwhelm the unprepared mutineers. The shouts of combat cease as quickly as they had begun. The other passengers, shaking in shock and fear, peer out from their hiding places at the rebellious warriors left standing...
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