Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Surgery and Surprises - Crossroads Campaign - Sessions 11 and 12

After recovering from our encounter with the creature and its tainted giant animals, we moved further on toward this shiny thing that Astra had told us about. It was a crystal of some sort, working as a focus for the necromantic spell we'd discovered earlier and directing the energy back towards the logging camp. As we approached, a shadow creature appeared out of it and proceeded to attack us. That was bad enough on its own, but we also found ourselves attacked by a red-eyed demon wolf. As we fought those two, gnolls began to appear out of illusory hiding spots to harass us with arrows.

The Shadow Guardian

I spent some magic to mark the shadow being and the wolf while Nezerhi worked to lay a curse of misfortune on them. Wendylly and Kelmar held back and peppered the shadow and demon wolf with arrows and bullets. I think Astra was doing that as well, while Alwyn, Medi, and Nezerhi held the two within melee. We initially seemed to be doing quite well and the fight looked as if it would be quickly over. Then the shattered into three lesser such beings.

With the appearance of the three shadows, the fight became that much more deadly. Individually they were not as dangerous as the guardian had started out as, but their numbers made up for that, and their touch sapped the strength from our companions. One of the three was obliterated early by Kelmar, but the other three hung on, one of them dogging my steps and keeping me from giving all my focus to supporting my allies and the other harassing Medi and Alwyn.

After the guardian fell.
The gnolls were less than effective, though they struck Wendylly a dangerous blow. They mostly stayed out of our line of sight or fire and took pot shots at us. They were probably meant to draw attention from us away from the main guardians, but they never quite made themselves dangerous enough to draw the attention away.

It seemed as if we were getting close to defeating the wolf and the shadows when the demon wolf's shape changed and became something humanoid. The reaction from Kelmar and Nezerhi told us that this was the Jakk whom Kelmar had traveled with in his homeworld and who had been corrupted by evil forces. And now here he was standing in opposition to us as we fought to defeat the guardians of this evil device.
Our resources were dwindling when we finally took down the barbarian wolf with his flaming greatsword. Medi had obliterated one of the remaining shadows while Nezerhi had forced the other to flee giving me the opportunity to strike it down with a bolt of eldritch force. The gnolls were cleaned up as Nezerhi and Kelmar worked to make sure their friend survived in case they could cure him of his corruption later. 

Wendylly and I worked at taking apart the crystal, doing our best effort to avoid damaging the pieces so that they would serve as evidence. Within the structure we found several relics of the ancient past of this world of Opali. Specifically, these were the items of the Abolist who triggered the plague in the first place and the items of the heroes that finally defeated him and ended the curse. The shadow had dropped a cloak of the bat, which we presented to Wendylly as a way for her to get to higher ground easier.

They weren't terribly powerful items in most cases and I advocated for returning the items to the people of their world. Kelmar, however, was set upon claiming the belt with its bonus to quickness of action and Wendylly didn't particularly seem to feel that taking the items for our own use was particularly problematic despite being from the culture to which these items were important.

As to Jakk, Kelmar's past companion, it seemed as if the wolf's condition was similar to that of the other wolf, the giant animal, but as we traveled with him, manacled of course, his condition seemed to be getting worse and we decided to set about trying to treat him. The battle had sapped most of our resources, however, and we didn't think we had time to rest and recover the spells to remove disease. As such, Wendylly, Nezerhi, and I pooled our resources to perform some impromptu surgery. 

This wasn't my first time acting as a triage nurse, though I do find it a bit amusing that Nezerhi's divine talents with knowledge allowed her to be the most skilled surgeon while Wendylly and I both came from cultures with more advanced medical knowledge. 

In any case, we found a parasite of some sort attached to Jakk's rib cage, or something about that area. We had to cut into him to reveal it and it felt a bit like shades of Babylon 5 to me. Once we had it exposed, Nezerhi started searing it away with her sacred flame while the three of us poured curative magic into him. It was a tense procedure but he seems to have come out of it well. That said, the wolf seems to have been left in a comatose state. He had not awakened when we left him with the druids of this world.

On that note, we did report to the druids about what we had discovered and heard that the forest was already recovering. Astra took off at this time, but would rejoin us later. The druids gave us word of a group that moved eastward. We took a brief trip to examine the logging town and see if Kelmar could pick out Nyktox's presence but then we proceeded to follow this other group, especially as it became clear that they were aiming at reaching the Abolist's tower. Astra joined us back for this trip.

Our rests and investigation had set us behind this group a little bit, but we did have the advantage of traveling with a ranger of Kelmar's mastery. In addition, we planned to cut south and travel through the old dwarven community, apparently now populated by goblins, halflings, and others, to have a quicker shot through the mountains and hopefully cut off the other travelers.

We had a brief encounter with some bandits as we crossed an old and disused trade route, but they quite wisely decided to leave us alone. I am actually rather surprised that they thought to try to pressure us into paying their "tolls" as it was. They couldn't have thought that we wouldn't notice their rag-tag and tattered appearance and actually believe they were official toll guards. 

Unfortunately, we had less luck going forward as our camp was ambushed by a young green dragon. Wendylly went down before she had a chance to fire a shot and most of the rest of the group was also caught in the blast of poison. Only Astra and I were lucky enough to escape though the dragon compensated for this by park themselves right over my bedroll. 

My efforts were focused then on healing and I brought Wendylly to consciousness just in time for the dragon to breath again, catching me this time. As Nezerhi came to Wendylly's side, she started calling for a diamond to attend to her. I was considering threatening the dragon over it, as it was clear that the dragon had been surprised by the level of threat we presented even when surprised, however, Astra produced a diamond for Nezerhi while Medi, Alwyn, Kelmar, and Astra proceeded to tear the dragon apart. 

With the dragon down and parts of it harvested, creating a bit of bargaining with Astra over the value of the diamond used to bring Wendylly back from the brink of death, we decided to go ahead and take another rest to recover and make up for the time by double marching the next day. Unfortunately, we found ourselves ambushed again, this time by a much less stealthy foe.

We were awakened by the sound of Wendylly firing her thunder cannon and seeing a small wave of cultists led by a spellcaster of some sort pushing toward our camp. I immediately set to playing a creepy little song on the harmonica to place in the leader's head and create paranoid whispers which would confuse his ability to determine friend from foe. His followers fell apart bit by bit with the last being taken down by his own hand due to the insanity I had inflicted upon him.

Now we find ourselves faced with a long, hard march, without rest and with resources heavily depleted. Hopefully we will be able to alleviate this once we hit the next town. Given the level of tech in this continent, it is entirely possible that we'll find a train and be able to travel that much faster than our quarry, who decided to move north and take the pass. They appear to be prioritizing secrecy over speed, which fits given they have no way to know we're tracking them. 

In any case, we have an old dwarven settlement ahead of us, followed by a trip to an old, abandoned and sinister tower. Business as usual.

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