Share Your Story: Lakia

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Lakia was diagnosed with Endometriosis when she was 29 years old, after suffering with symptoms since the Sixth Grade.  Now she’s 30, living in San Diego, and she’s found our little support group.  I met Lakia just a few weeks after her diagnositic surgery and she’s recently undergone a difficult decision for her second surgery! Lakia has proven to be an amazing and incredibly strong woman, and someone I am proud to call friend.  Her story follows…

Lakia’s Journey: I always thought in my mind that my reality was normal. But what is normal? My first period was in sixth grade. I remember being so excited because I finally felt like a woman! I stuffed my bra everyday, secretly shaved my legs, and wore tinted lipgloss. But that first period felt like a rite of passage. All of the boys will like me now! Little did I know what was ahead…

Every month during school, I would bleed through my pads because of the heavy flow. I was too afraid to get up during every session at school, and didn’t want the attention constantly drawn to me when I had to leave the room with a pad or my purse. Everyone would know… Instead, I would bring jackets and sweaters to school, and keep them wrapped around my waste to soak up the leakage. This became my sixth grade’s self normal.  In high school is when I recall the pain becoming unbearable. But, all girls complained about their period. What would make mine different or more significant? When they became irregular, I finally was put on birth control pills. I took 1000mg of naproxen every 8 hours when I was in my cycle as well as the polls through college. The medicine helped with the pain for the first few years, but over time the cramps became debilitating again. After college, I decided I need to give my body a break and stopped all medication.

Fast forward to 29 years old, and I’m living in San Diego. January 2016, the year of 30 kicks off with a vengeance. The worst period of my life- vomiting, debilitating cramps, flooding from bleeding, you name it, I had it. When the bleeding stopped, the symptoms didn’t. I decided to go to the ER after trying to push through it for a week. Diagnosis was a hernia, fluid in my lungs, anemia, and fibroids in my uterus. They couldn’t do anything for me except give me pain meds and send me on my way. For the next three weeks, I visited 10 different doctors, has CT scans, ultrasounds, blood tests, X-rays with not solution. I lost close to 10 pounds living on norcos to ease the pain. In an transvaginal ultrasound, they found a softball sized mass in my uterus. The GYN wanted to operate immediately due to its location. Unfortunately, I was anemic which would likely mean I would a blood transfusion during surgery. I had a month to iron overload.

Surgery is complete.  Unfortunately, my GYN was not able to remove the mass as it was attached to my bladder. She drained it and assured me that it would be back. What should have been a laparoscopic surgery became a lapraromy as soon as they went in due to the their findings of severe stage 4 endometriosis. I got to spend a night in the ER. Post surgery, it only took about a week for the pain to return. I was told to start taking two birth control pills a day to help with the bleeding and pain. My GYN said she didn’t feel comfortable operating my endo because it was so complex, so she referred me to another doctor.

He, also after reading my surgical report didn’t feel comfortable doing a procedure, and suggested Lupron and referred me to a gynecological oncologist. I originally agreed to the shot. While I waited to have it administered, I took a month to do some soul searching and listening to my body. It wasn’t right. I couldn’t take the shot. The oncologist agreed to the surgery. He did admit to me that he felt a bit of ethical concern giving a woman who has never had children and only 30 years old a hysterectomy and gave a bit of pushback before agreeing to the surgery.

December 13, 2016- surgery day! I had a full hysterectomy. He wanted to try to keep some, but they were all obliterated by the endo. In the middle of the procedure, he had to call my dad because the disease has spread to my bowels and appendix. About 5 inches of my small intestine, 5 inches of my large intestine, and my appendix were removed requiring that he perform an organ resectomy. He predicted that I would have had to have emergency surgery due to organ failure caused by the endo within the next few months if he had not operated on it that day. My doctor was relieved that I went with my gut, and pushed for the surgery instead of waiting.

After six days of being attached to IVS, living with a draining tube coming out of my stomach, and hour long sleep sessions, I was free!!

I’m in the process of recovering still (2 months post-op), and I never would have imagined that I would feel this amazing! I know I have a long road ahead, with the possibility of the endo popping back up, but every decision made, tear shed and prayer prayed has been absolutely worth it.

Words of Advice for Us:  Sisters- two things that are so incredibly important through this whole journey… SUPPORT!- Thank God that a friend found the Bloomin’ Uterus group for me! It’s incredible to have a connection with so many strangers that can relate, mentor and just listen when you need them. And friends!!! My friends and family have completely blown me away with the amount of love, compassion, and time they have spent learning and loving me through this process. My Dad came to every single appointment with me, and I even had over 50 people show up for a going away brunch for my uterus!!! Knowing that you’re not alone is half of the battle! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY- like I said, my doctor wasn’t gung-ho about the surgery, but was incredibly happy we went through with it in the end. A hysterectomy is not the answer for everyone. It’s certainly not a cure. But push, plead, fight for what’s good for you and your body. You deserve it!!

The Last Word:  Thank you Lisa Drayton for your positive energy, informative posts, and constant encouragement!!! You are truly an incredible person!!!

If you wish to contact Lakia, you can email her here.

I want to send a special Thank You out to Lakia for being brave enough to share her personal story, struggle, and victories with us today.  I am so grateful that you found us and that we met, but am especially grateful that you followed your instincts!  A second surgery is never easy – ad your decision to undergo the full hysterectomy was a difficult one, but I am SO VERY HAPPY for you!  Good for you for pushing self-advocacy!!!  Wishing you a continuous good recovery!  I will walk proudly beside you on March 25th! Yours, Lisa.

downloadAnd if YOU would like to share your story, you can do so by clicking here.  The best part about this disease is the strong network of love and support from our fellow EndoSisters, and our friends and family, too.

Yours, Lisa.

Feel Good Fridays

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Welcome to another Friday morning!  I hope you’ve had a great week.

Steven Maraboli once wrote,

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”

I know sometimes we’d like to wallow.  Just sit there in our suffering and cry…and that’s okay.  But, always remember that we DO have to get up and move on.  And you don’t have to do it alone – ask for help.  Extend a hand to someone you notice may need assistance “getting up.”  Be there for each other.  And, hopefully, find a little bit of happiness.

Over the past week, I’ve updated several past blog entries with new studies.  If you’re interested in giving them another looksy:

Bladder & Endometriosis: added 2 2017 studies

C-sections & Endometriosis: added Jan. 2017 study

Cervical Endometriosis: added Jan. 2017 study

Lungs & Endometriosis: added Dec. 2016 study

I hope you have an incredible week coming up!  And find time to rest.

Yours,

Lisa

2017 Bloomin’ Uterus Endo Walk is MAXED OUT!

First, I’d like to start off by dancing and shouting, “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!”

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As you may know, we were given a permit by the San Diego Port Authority for 100 people to attend our walk.  And…we’ve reached 100 registered attendees!  And I cannot wait to walk with so many people!  Support, Awareness, and Community! ❤

If you’d still like to try to join us, please still register here and I’ll add you to the Waiting/Cancellation List.  If any of our registered attendees cancels, I’ll be in touch with you!

Yours, Lisa

 

Our 2017 Walk & FREE Bracelets!

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Well, our walk is 58 days away from today and we’re nearly at capacity! We have 98 registered walkers (as of this very moment) – and we are only allowed 100!  The San Diego Port Authority permit and our event insurance has maxed us out at 100 participants.

I cannot wait to walk with you!  Anyway…FREE STUFF!

Once you arrive at the Island, find our little shade structure and check-in, you’ll be able to earn your free Endometriosis Awareness Bracelet.  There will be a small sign with instructions, a box, some pens, and a bunch of freebie bracelets (one per person, please).

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Put your thinkin’ caps on!  Or be prepared to meet new people and ask them what they know about Endo!

Not going to our Walk, but still want our bracelet?  Submit an entry to our Coloring Contest (going on from now until April 1, 2017)…and see if you win!

 

New Study: Self-Tracking Your Endometriosis

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An article published in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of Participatory Medicine focused on women with Endometriosis tracking their symptoms, diet, etc.  In this day and age, there are several smartphone applications that can help you do this. Or…find your own system.

I myself use Google Slides to track my daily food & drink intake (and bowel movements), as well as any pain or symptoms I experience, and sexual activity and pain.  I’m a visual kind of person, so I also have an image that I draw little red squares where I have pain…These slideshows may come in handy at future doctor’s appointments – not to mention help me understand what may (or may not) exacerbate my symptoms.  It’s also how I learned that strawberries (mmmm delicious strawberries) really, really, REALLY wreak havoc on my bowels…ohmigawd.

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Screenshot of 10/18/16 symptom journal
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And from last week – since recovering from surgery, I have *mostly* pain-free days

Anyway – back to the study!  I’m not the only one who enjoys doing this!  Twenty-seven women in New York participated in a study wherein they tracked their pain; menstruation; diet, exercise, and weight; GI issues; fatigue, sleep, or sickness; life events; mood and emotions; comorbitities (other illnesses); and treatments.  These women also attended weekly focus group meetings at the Endometriosis Foundation of America.   It empowered these women to participate in a research study, better communicate with their providers by documenting their symptoms, and manage their symptoms by better understanding their triggers.

Like I said earlier, I enjoy Google Slides (it’s easy, accessible on all my platforms, and I can keep it organized per month).  The women in the study also learned what they liked best: some used good ol’ fashioned pen and paper, others typed notes, others used Excel spreadsheets, others used Google Docs or Google Sheets, and yet others used their electronic calendars.  Many of these women (myself included) used a smartphone application specifically for monitoring their periods.  And now there are smartphone apps specifically designed for tracking Endometriosis.

If you’d like, there are several Endometriosis tracking smartphone applications available to either Apple or Android devices.  I’m not going to recommend any here because I want you to find the best one that suits your needs.

Self-tracking can very well give you a sense of control and empowerment over Endometriosis.  If you track your symptoms, food, pain, etc., I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  What do you use?  Any tips or tricks for our readers?  How has it helped/hindered you in any way?

Resources:

Journal of Participatory Medicine – (Article; Dec. 2016) Exploring Self-Tracking as a Participatory Research Activity Among Women with Endometriosis

 

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Feel Good Fridays!

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We did it! Wrapped up another week! And here in SoCal, it’s a soggy one! YAY! I love the rain!

Today’s quote is inspired by our present state of rain.  Written by Tony Hillerman,

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”

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Again, it’s all about perspective.  Take a step away from your present chaos, try to look from the outside…see if there is, in fact, order and reason to whatever it is you may be going through.  Or at least a purpose.  Muddle through it, get wet, fight.  It will cease, and you will pull through it.

Dungeons & Dragons & Donuts : how RPG games may help with (fill in the blank)

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(Now, Mom…I know you’re reading this. Don’t freak out!)

If you’ve read this blog entry and just wanted to follow our stories, click here to be magically transported our last session.

One of our local EndoSisters, Toni, had a brilliant idea to get the gals together for a little bit of roleplaying fun.  She had read that roleplaying could be beneficial to people who suffer from pain or in need of a happy-boost – and besides we wanted to get together for some good laughs and R&R.  I thought it was a great idea, and off she went, planning our adventurous day together!

We teamed up with Linda Dami of Donut Panic, who let us use her comfy couches and tables for the afternoon.  We also had access to delicious vegan donuts and gluten-free vegan cupcakes. Thank you, Linda!

“But, Lisa,” you ask, “what does roleplaying games have to do with this?”  Aaaah, I’m glad you asked! Well, let me tell you what I’ve learned:

There’s a man out there named Charlie Brown.  He suffers from major depression and anxiety, as well as borderline personality disorder.  He says gaming saved his life, and it continues to, every day.  He pushes passed his anxiety, goes out, meets with friends and strangers – finds himself encouraging the shy to break out of their shell.  And he says, “Often its better than medication of traditional therapy . It heals, and bonds, and fills in those cracks.  The world for a bit is a little more tolerable. I know this because I can move back into it .”  Tabletop gaming has helped Charlie.  You can read his amazing story by clicking on the link in “Resources” below.

Some therapists out there are actually having their patients play Dungeons & Dragons as the therapy session.  They say it helps with social anxiety, problem solving, communication, building friendships, and empathy.  Gaming may also boost happiness and reduce stress!  I can tell you that I, personally, felt uplifted and refreshed after our game on Sunday.  Well, all of the players mentioned that they all really had a great time and couldn’t wait to get together again.  It gets you out of the house, lifts your spirits, gives you something else to think about…

An article in Psychology Today pointed out that D&D (as well as other tabletop RPG games) bring people together, boost imagination and creative thinking, encourages improvisation and quick-thinking.  It may very well be a confidence booster.

It really was a feel-good day for us.  It raises Charlie Brown’s spirits and social ability.  It helps patients progress through issues.

When you suffer through (fill in the blank), a feel-good day with friends may be just what you need.  Even if it’s not D&D or RPG games, I encourage you to go out and find that “feel good” activity that gets you out of your present situation and into something…enjoyable. Boost those Happiness Chemicals in your brain.

Toni wanted to tie in Endometriosis awareness into our day of tabletop fun, and she created these wonderfully whimsical and informative Endo character sheets!  We didn’t use these in our game, although they were inspired by D&D, but they were placed out for people to read and learn and enjoy! And, c’mon, they’re adorable!

The Endometriosis Monsters

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The EndoWarriors

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Six of us gathered at Donut Panic on Sunday – none of us have played before, but we were all eager and willing to learn!  No judgments (well…Morgana was a judgmental Druid…), no expectations, and all ears (is that an Elf joke?).   We had our DM, and we each received character sheets, introduced our characters, and our journey began.

The best part of sitting around the table with these guys and gals was interacting, thinking together, creative problem solving, laughing, and just letting go of our present situations to immerse ourselves for a few hours in this story we all helped create together.  I was glad to see people still honor their bodies during the four-hour game: standing breaks when sitting became too much, pee breaks, getting more water to drink, etc.  We also had a seemingly endless supply of cupcakes and donuts!

The next day we were all a bit tired and our DM is more so because of all the work they put into the campaign, learning the rules, and keeping us on track.  Everyone worked together as we ran across questions of operation and procedure, and it truly was a team effort.  And, thank you Toni for putting this all together!! It was incredible!

If you’d like to see photographs of our little maiden campaign, here you go!  And if you’d like to read our little Adventure as it played out, our story will follow at the end of the photographs…although it will likely be meaningless and not hilarious to you since you weren’t there. HA!  But we all had SO much fun!

Jan. 15, 2017

It all begins…

Five friends are sitting around a table in a pub.  Bartholomew, the halfling monk; Eru the high elf wizard; Mew of Death, the drow elf rogue; Morgana, the human druid; and Aria, the tiefling warlock.  And just how did these five come to know each other?

A tricky thing about some elves: they’re a little difficult to tell which is male and which is female – an androgynous race.  So, forgive me if I switch between he and she and she and he…because sometimes even I can’t tell.  Eru, still an adolescent female of 150 years old, met Mew, who is now 315 years old, through an act of roguish deceit.  Mew, wearing his stolen signet ring, introduced herself to Eru as the Earl of Duque, another noble-born.  And the two had remained friends ever since, even after learning of Mew’s deception.

Mew and Aria are both members of the Zhentarim and knew each other from their private gatherings and mercenary assignments.

Bartholomew and Morgana both seek to protect the common folk.  United in their personal beliefs, they bonded over their common goal and travelled together.

As our band of friends were marveling over how they’ve come together over a pint or two of ale they were approached by Gundren Rockseeker with an easy and rewarding job.  He’ll ride ahead, but the five follow and deliver this cart full of goods to the city of Phandalin.  The band agreed, with visions of adventure, wanderlust, and money, money…MONEY!

Shortly into their trek along the trail to Phandalin, our adventurers run across two bloated and dead horses in the road, obviously killed in some sort of robbery.  Arrows jutted out of the carcasses and the saddlebags were ransacked and empty.  Mew searched the horses and packs for any belongings.  Morgana began picking berries along the trail, stowing them away in her pockets.  Eru repeatedly poked the dead horses with her wand and stole one of the empty bags.  Bartholomew was eating his first lunch of the day.  And Aria was making a small bag to hold her magical bits and pieces she’d collect along the journey.

Suddenly, four goblins emerged from the woods, surrounding the group.  SURPRISE!  Mew struck the first goblin down with her dual wielding, shortsword and dagger, in one smooth sweep of his blades.  They don’t call them the Mew of Death for nothing!  Morgana promptly whipped the second goblin to death. No mercy from the druid!  Eru, excited to put her spells to good use, produced an acid bubble…which merely *popped* on it’s way to it’s target…and she immediately knelt down and wept.  Her preppy and spoiled upbringing did not prepare her well for disappointment.  Bartholomew flung two darts toward his target, and they whizzed right by.  Aria, casting Eldritch Blast, sent a crackling beam of energy toward a goblin, who promptly dodged.  Amidst the scurry, Bartholomew was slashed by a goblin, but remained on his feet to fight.  Morgana cracked her thornwhip once more, but it simply snapped in the air, catching Bartholomew’s cheek in the process.  Eru hurled a fire bolt at another goblin, burning him to a crisp and a smoldering pile of bone.

There was only one goblin left…Bartholomew, with all his halfling stature, lunged and grappled the goblin to the ground, and tied him up.  A captive!  He had no desire to see this goblin die at their hands – always seeing the good in others, he wished peace among them.  Aria, being the intimidating hellspawn that she was, successfully interrogated the little goblin – who spilled his guts to our little party:  the goblins were following the orders of King Grol by kidnapping Gundren Rockseeker and his escort and they may have been at the nearby Cragmaw Hideout, or further northeast at Cragmaw Castle.  Learning all they could from this minion, Mew took great pleasure in killing him.

The friends looted the dead goblins, taking weapons, armor, and shields.  Bartholomew celebrated their victory by devouring a second lunch.  [Out of Character moment: Enjoy the Cupcake o’Victory!  We survived our first attack!]

Our group of friends had a decision to make:  did they continue on toward Phandalin and simply sell the wares of Gunder’s cart (which only had some mining equipment and meager provisions) or did they attempt to rescue their acquaintance from the goblins?  Seeing as they wouldn’t be paid for their trouble if their benefactor wasn’t alive…the obvious choice was onward to Cragmaw Hideout.  Bartholomew used a healing potion from his pack and the group was on their way.

Armed with the detailed layout of the trail, including traps and pitfalls, our adventurers found themselves at the entrance of the Hideout – but still had to cross a river to get to the cave.  While discussing how best to traverse the river, including having Morgana transform into a giant turtle, arrows zipped at eastern shore.  Two goblins, hidden by the briar thorns, appeared and attacked!  Mew was struck with an arrow, but was able to retaliate, shooting the same goblin that struck her.  Bartholomew shot at the goblins with one of their stolen bows, but missed.  Aria was oblivious and still talking about the turtle-transformation.   Eru summoned an acid bubble and flung it toward the remaining goblin – only to have it burst on one of Aria’s horns.  Morgana attacked with her whip, and missed.  The goblin retaliated and poor Bartholomew was struck again.  Aria cast Eldritch Blast and killed one of the two goblins. Mew dispatched another arrow, sending it straight into the last goblin, obliterating it.

Whew.  Now that the threat had passed, our adventurers still needed to cross the river in order to get into the cave.  Morgana did, in fact, shift into a gigantic turtle, everyone climbed aboard her shell, and she ferried them across the river.  While crossing, Bartholomew caught three fish.  Shifting back into human form along the new shore, they again ransacked the dead goblins for more armor and weapons.  It was decided a little reconnaissance would be necessary – so Morgana was asked once more to shift into an animal. This time: a bat…and she disappeared into the darkness.  What she saw…well sonor-saw…nobody knew.  Her party waited for her outside the cave.  Bartholomew shoved some briar thorns into his pack.  Aria gnabbed a newt from the river, mumbling something about eyes, as she shoved it into her pack.

Morgana returned from her recon mission, shifted back into human form, and told of all she’d learned:  a cavern with three chained wolves, and a small fissure leading off somewhere; the river continued inside the cave, originating out of two small pools and a waterfall she named “Sweaty Butt Valley” and “Butt Falls” for the glorious shape of the pools and falls; a winding tunnel that led to a cavern with boxes and a treasure chest; a bridge 20’ above the cave floor which crossed the river and to a set of carved stairs – she didn’t explore further up that tunnel because of the unmistakable reek of goblins and cooking.  She didn’t want to become their next meal – stinking goblins eat anything, including bats!

A plan was formed…Bartholomew had wished for a less-fatal plan, but the group overruled him.

Mew whipped a goblin disguise out of his bag (a rogue and her tricks!) and he donned the armor of one of the previously slain goblins.  Aria tore out her herbalist kit and poisoned the three fish he had procured earlier.  Armed with his wits, climbing gear, and the three poisoned fish, Mew entered the cave.  The wolves, smelling and seeing one of their Masters (or is that Mew-sters?), eagerly devoured the tasty fish…and promptly died.  She squeezed into the fissure, which turned out to be a trash chute with rotting filth at the bottom, and employed his pitons and skillfully climbed up the 30’ chute, peering into the cavern above.  Just as Morgana relayed, there were boxes of what may have been provisions…but lo and behold, there were also three goblins and a wolf on the other side of the smoldering coals beneath his ledge.  Mew overheard two of the goblins bickering about the third goblin, whom they called Klarg.  Mew descended the trash chute and returned to her friends to report.  Morgana and Aria slipped inside the cavern and skinned the wolves, even butchering some of the meat for a later meal.

The party decided to split up – Mew and Aria would climb back up the trash chute.  Mew, still disguised as a goblin, would attempt to persuade the two smaller goblins to join forces, overthrowing Klarg in a mutinous attack.  Morgana, Bartholomew, and Eru would traverse around the tunnels, waiting at the entrance of the cavern in case Mew and Aris should fail and need back-up.  Bartholomew, the peace-loving monk that he was, fully approved of this plan.  Diplomacy, empathy, tact!  But…plans don’t always work out…

Mew got halfway up the chute before losing her footing and falling and getting knocked unconscious.  Aria quickly healed Mew and attempted to climb the chute herself, but couldn’t even manage the first leg.

Meanwhile, Bartholomew, Morgana, and Eru edged their way through the dark cave.  Eru, with her elvin genes, could see in the darkness and led the group.  She spotted a goblin guard on the bridge above their heads…and quietly snuck beneath him.  Bartholomew followed suit, sneaking under the bridge.  Morgana, though, tripped in the darkness, alerting the goblin guard who signaled to other goblins – goblins who were positioned at Butt Falls and they smashed out the support beams holding up the dam to one of the pools of Sweaty Butt Valley.  Water filled the cavern, rushed down the tunnel, and swept our three adventurers out the cave. Aria and Mew heard the shouts, the rush of water, and turned just in time to see their friends pass by their cavern entrance. The water lapped at the ledge of the trash chute, but did not affect Mew and Aria…which is good because Aria couldn’t swim!

Battered and bruised and bleeding, Bartholomew, Morgana, and Eru caught their breath and rested along the rivershore.  While they recovered, Mew successfully climbed the trash chute and waited at the top for Aria to join her. Aria tried a second time to ascend, got halfway up, and fell 15’, landing once more on the cave floor.

Recovered from their “swim,” Bartholomew had come up with a great plan.  Eru, armed with her darkvision, crept back into the cave and snuck her way around the corner of the tunnel.  She aimed at the guard on the bridge and cast magic missile…into the darkness…and all three magical darts struck the goblin, flinging his dead body over the rope bridge, falling 20’ to the cavern floor below.  She regrouped with her friends outside the cave.

Aria tried once more to climb the trash chute.  She got halfway up the chute when her tiny little T-Rex (that’s Tiefling-Rex) arms couldn’t hold on and she tumbled to the floor, yet again.  Not discouraged, she tried again and finally joined Mew at the top. By this time, Eru, Bartholomew, and Morgana decided they’d join their friends up top, rather than risk the unknown amount of goblins waiting in the mists of Butt Falls.  Eru attempted to climb up, and failed miserably, hitting her head on the way down.  Morgana and Bartholomew both made it to the top in their first try.  Eru tried again, and managed to climb to the top, even with her head wound…which Morgana quickly healed with her Healer’s Kit.

Mew, still disguised as a smelly goblin (moreso now from his extended stay in the trash chute), called one of the goblin’s over to the smoldering fire.  He persuaded the goblin of her goblin-heritage and asked it to bring it’s friend over.  So Goblin #1 walked away, and returned with Goblin #2.  All the while, Klarg and Klarg’s wolf stomped around the cave, shouting something about making the cave great again.  The goblins introduced themselves as Edgar and Horrace, and explained how unhappy they’d been with Klarg’s behavior and politics of late.  Mew, in all his charismatic ways, laid out the plan:  they would all band together and overtake Klarg, split his loot, and live their lives as they wanted to!  It wasn’t long before Edgar and Horrace unsheathed their swords and the mutiny began!

Edgar charged at the unsuspecting Klarg wielding his sword high, swung…and missed!  Morgana followed through, but missed – luckily, she had a dagger at the ready and flung it through the air, striking Clark and doing some damage.  Aria placed a hex on Klarg and simultaneously attacked the wolf with Eldritch Blast and struck it.  Unphased, Klarg struck at Bartholomew and rendered him unconscious.  Unable to immediately help the monk, the party continued their attacks.  Horrace lunged toward Klarg, but Klarg dodged the attack.  Eru once again launched an acid bubble, but Klarg dodged (nimble goblin!).  Mew focused her attention on the wolf, stabbing it DEAD – on his face, even!  Edgar struck at Klarg, but missed (yet again).  Morgana attacked, but missed.  Aria’s hex lifted and she, too, failed to strike Klarg.  Horrace, the mutinous goblin, swung at Klarg and dealt the final blow.  Klarg fell, dead, on the cavern floor.  With no time to think, Edgar and Horrace turned on our band of friends – they weren’t going to split this loot!  Eru launched a firebolt at Horrace, rendering him to ash.  Mew shanked Edgar, doing some damage.  Morgana attempted, but missed – and instead turned her attention to Bartholomew, whom she roused from slumber.  Aria attacked Edgar, missed, and hexed him.  Now awake, Bartholomew shook off the veil of sleep and furiously attacked Edgar, killing him.

The adventurers, victorious, studied the room around them.  To many, all they saw were boxes – but the trained eye of Mew, the thievish rogue, spotted the rusted treasure chest among the crates of provisions.  He picked the lock and *voila* our heroes were rewarded.  No one saw Mew and she slipped the jade frog into her pocket.  The frog with the golden eyes was worth 40 gold pieces, easily.  The party split the 600 copper pieces and 110 silver pieces amongst themselves and Morgana was gifted with the two health potions found within the chest.

Exhausted from the fight, our adventurers took a rest among the crates and bounty.  The scents and sounds of the dank cave echoed off the walls.  Darkness lay ahead.  As did unknown numbers of goblins, the fate of Gundren Rockseeker and his escort, and endless adventure.

Pause…(game resumed 2/26/17)

Rested from their battle, the party decides to head deeper into the cave north toward Butt Falls.  As they round a corner, they see two goblins playing near the water.  Mew (while still disguised as a stinking goblin) draws her crossbow, fires, and strikes one of the oblivious goblins in the head.  It falls with a splash into the water.  The second goblin charges at Mew with its shortsword drawn, slashing across his chest – and she falls unconscious against the cave wall in a slump, bleeding profusely.  Eru hurls a fire bolt at the goblin, but it whizzes past the goblin and is snuffed out by the Falls.  Morgana steps protectively over Mew’s body, drawing her scimitar and attacking the goblin, but it ducks – *whoosh*.  She counters with her dagger, but the goblin again avoids her attack, jumping backward.  Aria’s reaches deep within her Inner Soul and emits a crackling burst of energy, casting Eldritch Blast toward the goblin.  It didn’t stand a chance, withers, and dies. Just as the party was going to focus on Mew’s wounds, a swirl of light from around the corner of Butt Falls surprises the Adventurers.  “WHAT?!?”

Bartholomew decides to investigate and rushes toward Butt Falls, rounding the corner.  He sees a goblin and a dwarf in combat!  He drew his shortbow, let his arrow loose, and killed the goblin!  Bartholomew had made his first kill!! (Insert celebratory dance here.)  He and the dwarf meet…cautiously at first.  The dwarf introduces itself (should this be its-Electric-Boogaloo-ness, or is it too early?) as Therkahn Battlebeard, a cleric, but it’s difficult to tell if this dwarf is male or female…we still don’t know.  The dwarf had a busty chest, a hot pink mohawk, and a full pink beard.

Aria dressed Mew’s wounds and he awakened.  Therkahn offerered to help, fully healing Mew with their cleric-skills, while solidifying a sense of friendship and trust with the party.  Bartholomew busied himself looting the body of his kill – he kept 3 rounded pebbles, tattered leather, and a fish skeleton, but gave one copper piece each to Aria and Mew.  Morgana fished the second body out of the water and gained four copper pieces, giving the tattered leather she found to Aria to later craft a pouch.  Remembering the earlier misfortune with the flooding of the cave, Morgana destroyed the remaining dam which held back Butt Falls’ collected pool.  It rushed harmlessly beneath them.

Backtracking up the cavern, the Adventurers found the bridge which allowed them to cross to the other side of the chasm.  Each of them clanked and creaked and stepped loudly as they crossed, curving around into a small cavern with a dimly-lit fire, which appeared to be hastily snuffed out.  The party pushed themselves flat up against the cave wall and could hear evidence of enemies ahead (or overhead?), lying in wait.  Morgana, hidden in the darkness, but confined by the close-quarters, awkwardly changed into the extra goblin costume and stepped forward with Mew around the corner and up the stairs.  The two “goblins” were greeted by six goblins waiting on the ledge, poised to strike.  Mew convinces some of the goblins that he’s just their for the food and could smell it throughout the cave, and three of them head down the ledge to tend to the meal.

The larger goblin, however, (dressed in chainmail, I might add) calls her out and assumes a battle stance.  Morgana unfurls her thornwhip, cracking and flicking it toward one of the goblins before her – it strikes, the tail of the whip wrapped around the goblin’s arm, and when she pulls back, the thorns gouge through the flesh, nearly dismembering its left arm.  Without hesitation, Mew lunges at the chainmailed goblin with her shortsword, but is deflected by his scimitar.  Seeing an opening in the parry, Mew jabs with his dagger, nicking the goblin’s unprotected armpit.  Meanwhile, Eru rushes into the throng of goblins around the campfire and casts Thunderwave, filling the air with a loud boom which forcefully flung two goblins into the adjacent cavern wall – breaking one’s neck and the other just slumped dead on the cavern floor.  The third goblin hurled through the air and landed hard on the stairway above, it’s leg obviously twisted and broken – all it did was scream out in pain, whimper, and sway in a useless lump.  Therkahn cast Sacred Flame at the stairs, but the goblin writhed in pain and coincidentally evaded the falling fire.  Bartholomew charged up the stairs and slashed at a goblin with his shortsword, cutting it across the abdomen.  Aria followed behind, and cast Eldritch Blast, but unfortunately Bartholomew stood in her way and she had to adjust her aim to not strike him and she missed the goblins completely.

The armored goblin suddenly announced their surrender and Morgana insisted they all get on their knees (well, except for that pathetic writhing goblin on the stairs) and disarm.  Bartholomew orders the goblins to strip naked and, of course, they complied.  Behind the kneeling gobins, the Adventurers see the unconscious body of Sildar Hallwinter, the traveling companion of Gundren Rockseeker.  Morgana knelt beside Sildar, arousing him from his slumber.  Mew rummaged through the belongings of the chainmailed goblin and found 3 gold teeth, which she kept for himself, along with the chainmail armor after asking each member of the party, in turn, if they wanted it.  She gave the 15 silver pieces to Morgana in an uncharacteristic display of generosity. That near death experience must have temporarily addled his sense of self.

Therkahn asked Sildar where Gundren was, since he wasn’t found within the cave.  Sildar recounted his tale of how they were ambushed on the road and taken by the goblins.  Gundren and he were looking for Wave Echo Cave, a long-rumored magical and mystical cave filled with treasures which was destroyed long ago.  Once captured, two bugbears hauled Gundren off to an unknown location…

Eru vanished down the ledge to loot the two bodies by the fire.  She kept two wooden dice for herself and gave two copper pieces each to the members of the party, including the newly-added Therkahn.  The goblins were ordered to carry supplies from the cave to the wagon waiting at the entrance, and as everyone disappeared across the bridge, Mew lingered behind.  The cries of the wounded goblin on the stairs wafted across the chasm, until suddenly – silence…and Mew of Death joined the rest of her friends across the bridge, a smile creased his lips, back to her Drow self again.  The unclad goblins were ordered to load up all of the crates from Klarg’s cavern onto the wagon, too.  Once fully loaded and the cave plundered, the party debated on what to do with the goblins.  Mew, of course, wanted to kill them.  Bartholomew wanted to bring them along as sherpas.  Eru wanted nothing to do with the filthy beasts.

So, it was decided they would be released.  Bartholomew, enamored with the smallest goblin, handed him the fish skeleton saying, “Thank you.”  Bewildered, the goblin shyly accepted the gift, but having no pocket or pouch to put it in just stood there, holding it awkwardly.  Therkahn fed each of the goblins from his rations, Bartholomew also paid the unwilling and unclad sherpas 3 copper pieces each and gave them back the previously-looted goblin attire, and Mew, the lying man that she was, stated he supported Bartholomew’s kind gesture…

Sildar stated he was with the Lord’s Alliance and there would be a reward for his rescue and safe return to Phandalin.  And since our travelers were going to Phandalin to deliver Gundren’s goods and seek a reward for the Lionshield Coster supplies, they agreed to travel together.  Upon arrival in Phandalin, Sildar paid for the entire party to stay at the Stone Hill Inn, and each member retreated to his or her respective room to soak off the day’s adventure.

Clean and refreshed, everyone (well, except Sildar) reconvened downstairs in the pub.  Bartholomew and Therkahn bonded over ale and religion.  Mew braided Eru’s wet hair beside the hearth.  Aria worked in the corner crafting her spell bag.  Morgana sprung for a gallon of ale to share with her friends.

Mew and Therkahn both spotted the beauty that was the Innkeeper’s wife, exchanged a few heated words over who got to seduce her…but Mew allowed Therkan the honor.  Therkahn sidled up to the Innkeeper’s wife, ordered a mug of ale, claiming it was on Sildar’s tab…which it WASN’T, but earned themself a free beer regardless!

Aria sidled up to an old weaver, Frida, and learned a few useful tips and tricks about weaving.  She then wove enchanted  friendship bracelets, giving one to each of her companions!

Morgana befriended Pip, the 8-year-old son of the Innkeeper.  Pip told her about a tunnel he and his friend found near Tresendar Manor – she gave him a copper piece for his tale.  Meanwhile, Therkahn was still flirting with the Innkeeper’s wife and learned about Daran Edermath, a retired adventurer who now owned an apple orchard in town.

Mew and Eru spotted a dusty miner and they enticed him into conversation: he mines up north, mostly iron, for the Lionshield Coster.  He warned the two that if they intended to head up north to beware of orcs along the Triboar Trail.  Eru asked if he knew anything about the Wave Echo Cave and he thought it may be in the northeastern mountains, but wasn’t sure.  Mew, charming vixen that he was, encouraged the miner to buy she and Eru a beer…which, of course, he could not resist.

Bartholomew befriended a farmer, Narth, in the pub and learned about Sister Garaele’s recent distraught return from the woods.  Narth is also is a friend of Daran.  Bartholomew, gracious man that he is, bought an ale for Narth – and subtly asked for some free crops in return.  He was…denied!  Mew joined them and asked the farmer about the weather conditions up north and learned that some heavier clothing may be in order.

Sildar appeared at the foot of the stairs, pulling out a purse and paid the party members 50 gold pieces for their efforts, which they split 8 gold pieces per person.  Since there were two pieces left, Mew suggested a group cash purse, affectionately called “The Kitty.”  Since nobody trusted Mew to tend the purse, it was given to Bartholomew for safe keeping.  Exhausted and sated with ale, the Adventurers retired to their rooms.

Bright and early, Bartholomew decided to go shopping!  He entered Barthen’s Provisions with the intent to buy food for his party, including fixins for breakfast burritos, and sell Gundren’s supplies.  Mew was already awake and shadowed Bartholomew, watched him step into the shop, but a few seconds later he turned around and exited the shop, the shopkeeper shouting, “Um, okay…come back soon!” – Bartholomew headed back toward the Inn, scratching his balding head.  He promptly woke the rest of the party to join him.  Aria was livid that he hadn’t already procured and prepared breakfast.

The party all returned to Barthen’s Provisions.  Aria took charge of negotiations while Barthen inspected Gundren’s crates.  Barthen had made a deal with Gundren to pay 10 gold pieces to five people…but Aria pushed for 15 gold pieces for 6 people.  Barthen countered with 10 gold pieces for five people, plus the wagon and “burro fixins – whatever those are.”  Aria was relentless and Barthen finally caved, paying 15 gold pieces for each party member having delivered Gundren’s supplies.  Aria sweetened the deal by giving Barthen a petrified eye of newt.  Eru purchased new robes and changed in the back room out of her  filthy trash-chute covered robes. Therkahn bought rations to replace the ones they’d gifted to the goblins yesterday.  The dwarf (Electric Boogaloo?) also purchased a miner’s pick and a blanket.  Aria bought a grappling hook.  Bartholomew bought a blanket, playing cards, and lamp oil.  Then he stood in the center of the widest aisle juggling the three pebbles he had looted from the goblins previously.  Mew decided to go and sell her  chainmail at the Lionshield Coster – Bartholomew tagged along.

Mew held the goblin-crafted chainmail up to the Lionshield Coster shopkeeper for inspection, hoping to get at least 20 gold pieces.  The shopkeeper scoffed, offering 10 for the poorly-crafted armor.  She only intended to melt it down to make it into a far superior armor.  Bartholomew kicked up the charm and talked her up to 12 gold pieces.  Mew still wanted more – and Bartholomew threatened the shopkeeper with a “secret order” that Mew belonged to, as well as spreading a bad reputation among the order about the shop.  The owner crumbled beneath the threat, offering 17 gold pieces for the chainmail.  Mew took the 17 gold pieces and offered Bartholomew one piece for his silver tongue.  And, yet again, he negotiated the split to a 50/50 split of 8 gold pieces, plus one to The Kitty.  They exited the shop.

Therkahn, Eru, Morgana, and Aria meet up with Bartholomew and Mew in the street.  They’d come to collect their reward for securing and delivering the Lionshield goods safely.  They stepped inside the shop while Bartholomew stayed outside and Mew slunk back in, ducking behind a barrel to eavesdrop…little did they know the shopkeeper was already in a foul mood from the transaction just a few moments before and from being roughed up by the Redbrand Ruffians earlier.  Aria performed some quick magic tricks to try to lighten the mood, but it didn’t really work.  The shopkeeper offered 50 gold pieces for the entire booty.  Aria tried to offer some protection to the shopkeeper from a “secret guild,” for six gold pieces, but the shopkeeper grunted mentioned that Halia may be in cahoots with the Zhentarim.  Of course, Aria’s ears perked up…she’d have to remember to tell Mew later…Therkahn tried to namedrop the Lord’s Alliance, but that noble name didn’t sway the shopkeeper on her price.  The Earl of Duque (Mew in disguise) stepped into the shop, waving his nobility around to haggle a better price…and failed.  Finally the group took the 50 gold pieces, split it six ways and put the remaining two pieces in The Kitty.

Aria nudged Mew aside and whispered about their Halia being a member of their Order.  They begged off to “go shopping” and split from their friends.

Therkahn, Morgana, and Eru decided to find Sister Garaele to inquire about her observed state of distress the other night.  Upon reaching the Sister’s house, they were told she was praying at the Shrine of Luck, and they headed over.  They found Sister Garaele, who informed them that she wasn’t attacked the other night, but simply fell and tripped in the woods, tearing her robes.  Therkahn didn’t believe her one second and Morgana pressed her a bit further and learned that she had actually been looking for a spellbook.  A ghost named Agatha supposedly knew more about the whereabouts of said book and could be found about a day away northeast of the Triboar Trail at an old house near the ruins of Conyberry.  Eru was truly interested in finding this spellbook and learning its secrets with Sister Garaele.  The Sister gave Eru a silver comb she had found near the ruins and thought it may belong to the ghost, but wasn’t sure what good it would do.  Therkahn, interested in something far greater than spells, asked, “What’s in it for us?”  The Sister stated if the party were able to return with the spellbook, she would give them several healing potions.  Of course, our three Adventurers needed to confer with the rest of their party before committing, and headed off to find Mew and Aria.

Mew and Aria had found Halia’s house and knocked on the door.  When she answered, they both immediately offered the secret handshake of the Zhentarim.  Mew asked about the tunnel she had learned about from Pip at the Inn…and Halia stated it was the hideout of the Redbrands!  She had been thinking of having the Redbrands leader, Glasstaff, assassinated and stage a coup.  She insisted, however, that as many of Glasstaff’s minions as possible be spared; and, in true Zhentarim fashion, she equated each Redbrand’s life to money.  Halia offered to pay 50 gold pieces to each Zhentarim member if the assassination attempt were accepted.  Mew and Aria agreed…intent on forging Zhentarim documents for the rest of the party to reap ALL THE MONEY!

Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, all of the party members met up again with Sildar in town.  He let them know that his good friend was missing, and was last seen near the Manor, but since it was getting late, the party decided to wait until tomorrow to help Sildar find his friend.

Instead, the Adventurers went to the apple orchard to talk to Daran.  Therkahn started the introductions and learned that Daran was a member of the Order of the Gauntlet, and they shared tales of grand adventure.  Daran had long-since retired to the life of an apple farmer and mumbled tales between bites of a juicy apple that that orcs could be killed with a blade and the bodies of trolls needed to be burned.  He also told tales of some trouble at the Old Owl Well and that the undead have been reported chasing off prospectors.  He mumbled a few other things beneath his breath, apple crunches between words, and offered the party a bushel of apples.  They thanked Daran and headed back to the Inn to meet up with Sildar to decide what they would do tomorrow:

Search for Sildar’s friend?  Hunt Agatha the ghost and the mysterious spellbook?  Stage a coup?  Investigate the rumors of the undead?  Tomorrow will come soon enough…

PAUSED…game resumed 3/12/17

Our party awakes, alas, to no breakfast burritos.  Morgana makes empanadas for the Journey, Mew purchases ball bearings before heading out, Aria and Eru watch the sun rise from the town green.  The rest of the party join them and Mew passes out counterfeit Zhentarim membership cards to everyone.  They all decide to go explore Tresendar Manor.  They meet up with Sildar along the way.

Trensendar Manor appears before them, castle-like ruins with a wooden doorway, broken windows, everything appearing ransacked and long forgotten.  A quick investigation of the perimeter, however, reveals otherwise: footprints!

Eru cast “Detect Magic” and Therkahn located a suspicious bush which hid a cellar door and appeared to lead to a lit basement.  Mew stealthily crept within the shadows down the stairs, and gently pushed a wooden door with no knob or keyhole.  He cracks it open, peering through, and notices a large chamber with downward stairs.  These lead to a large room with a cistern within it.  The party joins her.

Eru’s spidey senses *ahem, I mean Detect Magic* begin to tingle, and lead her to investigate the cistern further.  Therkahn, Morgana, and Aria flank either side of Eru.  She sees approximately 8’ down into the water an object which appears to be a satchel.  So she dives into the water and cuts the rope holding the satchel to the cistern floor.  Resurfacing, a door to the left suddenly swings open and three men step into the room, swords drawn.  

Morgana threatens to melt their bones, but all they do is laugh at her and continue to advance.  She cracks her whip at one, but he ducks out of the way, swinging his broadsword and slicing across her abdomen and chest.  Bartholomew jumps across the room to negotiate the misunderstanding, mentions this was a really nice house, and also slips in that the party is associated with the Zhentarim. (Mew groans.)  

He stands there, unaffected, and aggressively yells, “This is Redbrand territory!”  

Aria casts Eldritch Blast at the man who injured Morgana, but it flew over his head.  Therkahn moved down the stairs and cast cure wounds on Morgana.  Eru climbs out of the cistern, attempts to cast fire bolt, but all it does is sizzle and steam.  Mew loads his crossbow, letting a bolt loose at one of their attackers: it hits him in the left shoulder, but he is still able to swing his sword.  

One man attacks Bartholomew, but he is able to block them with his palm.  Morgana is struck during the parry, but it’s just a flesh wound.  Another turns his sword on Eru, but his blade is simply caught in her dripping wet robes.  Morgana returns the attack with her whip and dagger, slicing him through the abdomen, blood dripping from his lips.  Therkan deflects a blow with his hammer, smashing away the sword. Morgana also takes another slice from an enemy.  Bartholomew charges, swinging a vial of lamp oil, flinging it in the men’s direction.  It shatters and two men are covered in oil.  

Bartholomew yells, “Light ‘em up!” as he reached over and slapped both men across their stunned faces.  

Without hesitation, Aria grabs a nearby burning lantern and throws it in their direction, but it flew safely over their heads.  Therkahn attacked the unoiled man with their axe, but only the hilt of the axe makes contact, striking him in the head, rendering him unconscious.  

Eru was able to hypnotize one of the attackers, and all he could do was stand there and drool.  Mew reached for another lantern to threaten one of the oil-laden men, but it had no effect.  He threw the lantern instead, but it missed and sputtered out at his feet.  Sildar joined the battle, FINALLY, advancing into the fray…but did nothing.  One of the oily men slashed out at Bartholomew and Morgana, but his grip was too slick and he missed.  Drooly man was still drooly.  Morgana unfurled her whip and dagger, missed with her whip, but sunk her dagger deep into one.  He was gravely wounded, but still alive.  Bartholomew grabbed his tinderbox and struck out, and the poor oiled men screamed as they burst into flames.  Aria knocked the remaining man unconscious, and Mew tied him up.  

Eru took that moment of peace to look into the satchel retrieved from the cistern.  It was a waterproof pack which contained a healing potion, an invisibility potion, 50 gold pieces, and traveling clothes.  Aria took the clothes and healing potion, Therkahn took the potion of invisibility.  Eru received 16 gold pieces and the waterproof satchel, everyone else received 8 gold pieces, leaving 2 for the Kitty.  After searching the defeated men, Aria, Mew, and Bartholomew each procured Redbrand cloaks.   

Our party members took a short rest.  

Therkahn investigates the stonework of the manor, which looks to be about 100 years old and Dwarven.  Mew continues to loot the fallen men, finding 28 silver pieces, 12 gold pieces, 15 electrum pieces, and 2 garnets.  Aria and Mew each took a garnet… and Mew really wants all of the money to himself, but she decides to split it with the party.  Each member takes 4 silver pieces (plus 4 to the Kitty), 2 gold pieces, and 2 electrum pieces (plus 3 to the Kitty).  Eru investigates the walls, but finds nothing out of the ordinary.  Mew takes a shot at it and finds a stone out of place… which reveals a hidden wall.

Mew wakes and interrogates one of the Redbrands.  He does not recognize the name of Sildar’s missing friend, but does reveal there were about 10 other Redbrands on the premises.  He gags the Redbrands, and the party stepped through the secret doorway into a large cavern.  Mew takes the lead and heads alone toward casks at the end of the room (mmmm Beeeer).  She is distracted by an OOoooooOOh Shiny at the bottom of a crevasse to his left and suddenly hears a voice in her head, “Have you brought me food?”  

Mew whispers back in her head, “Yes.”  

The voice in Mew’s head anxiously demands, “Food where?”  

So she responds, “In my pack….”  She spots a creature hiding behind a pillar across the bridge.

It pointed down into the crevassed and thought-speaks, “Throw food in.”  

To which Mew responded, “And what do I get out of this arrangement?”

And then the creature threatens to reveal Mew’s deepest secret–why she left the Underdark.  MEW DECIDES TO KILL HIM NOW!  Oblivious to the entire conversation, the party suddenly sees Mew draw his crossbow, loading a bolt and cocking.  The bolt flies across the crevasse, striking the pillar and the creature retreats into the darkness.  The rest of the party simply sees a blur disappear into the shadows.  

Bartholomew, Sildar, and Aria agree to stand watch in the hallway.  Therkahn, Morgana, and Eru go toward the casks of beer.  Mew looks further at the OoOoOoooh Shiny.  At the casks, Therkahn finds two hidden entrances:  a set of stairs disappearing into the depths, and a hallway.  Eru’s magic senses begin to tingle and the OoOOoh Shiney begin to glow.  The party all rush back to the edge of the crevasse, and all but Therkahn descend.  There, at the bottom of the crevasse, is a small chest, which is too heavy to carry out.  Within, are 160 silver pieces, 120 gold pieces, 5 malachite gems, 2 healing potions, a scroll of augery (divination), and a longsword with a silver scabbard, engraved, “Talon” with a bird of prey on the hilt.  

“Nice sword,” Therkahn remarks.  

Therkahn takes the scroll, Mew steals the sword and all of the malachite (giving one gem to Aria, which he hopes no one noticed), Morgana takes the 2 healing potions, and the party splits the funds: 26 silver pieces (plus 4 for the Kitty) and 20 gold pieces each.

Bartholomew, Sildar, and Aria are playing cards when Aria hears a noise coming from down the stairs.  She can’t make it out, but it sounds like a conversation.  Bartholomew and Sildar can’t make out the words, either.  The rest of the party joins them, but nobody can make it out.  Bartholomew and Aria step down the stairs and are met with two closed doors.  They can hear distinct voices behind one of the doors.  Bartholomew grabs the Redbrand cloak, slings it over his arm, and opens the door, stepping in saying, “Hey guys!  Going to town…want anything?”  He sees three bugbears (each wearing a Redbrands cloak) bullying a small goblin.  

They reply, “We don’t need anything,” so Bartholomew leaves the room, and heads back to the party. A bugbear slams the door behind him. Mew wants to sneak on by since this obviously isn’t the room they’re looking for, but no one else agrees.  

Morgana drinks a healing potion to top off her health and Eru borrows a cloak. Mew, begrudgingly accepts the upcoming circumstance and positions herself in the hallway beyond the door.  Eru and Aria step into the room with the 3 bugbears, stating they were to go pick up the loot.  A bugbear, disbelieving, heads out the door to confirm the orders only to be stabbed in the side as he tries to pass Mew.Mew stabs him in the side, again and again like a crazy Drow (MEWWWWW!). Aria slashes out and slits his throat, and the two drag him down the hallway out of sight and near Therkahn, who is guarding one of the bridges above the crevasse.

Eru points at the remaining bugbears and attempts to cast Sleep, but it fails and they all just stand there blinking at her.  Mew draws her shortsword and dagger, slashing at one of the bugbears, slicing his forearm with the sword, but the dagger just snaps against the leather.  Eru then casts Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, but it does nothing.  A bugbear grabs his morningstar, swinging it and smashing Eru up against the wall.  She lay, dying.  Morgana uses her whip and dagger against Eru’s attacker, the whip misses, but the dagger sinks in.  The second bugbear attacks Mew, who crumples against the wall, unconscious, sliding down next to Eru.  Bartholomew puts down his playing cards, puts on the cloak, and sits on the stairs.  He then stands up again, descends the stairs and stands in the doorway.  Therkahn appears in the doorway next to Bartholomew and casts Cure Wounds on Eru.  Aria casts Eldritch Blast, sapping one bugbear of all of his energy.  Aria steps into the room and give two healing potions to Mew, who quafs them down–finally conscious again.  Sildar runs into the hall, Mew runs OUT, and Eru casts Firebolt at a bugbear, but just singes him through his leather armor.  A bugbear swings his barbed morningstar at Aria, crushing her abs–she is bleeding, but appears okay.  

Morgana casts Thunderwave, proclaiming, “BOOM! Let’s do it!!”  

One bugbear is thrown against the wall, his mace crushing him in the face.  The goblin is thrown away (he apparently passed out earlier in fear).  The remaining bugbear attacks Morgana and misses due to the sheer force of the Thunderwave.  

Bartholomew enters the room and asks, “What’s all this ruckus?”  

The bugbear responds, “Help me kill this intruder!”  

Bartholomew steps behind the bugbear, silently draws his short sword, and thwacks him against the back of the head.  Aria follows through with her dagger, which glances off his leather.  Sildar attacks, swinging his scimitar but the bugbear knocks it aside.  Mew advances to the doorway (belly-aching the whole way about how no one listened to him), fires his crossbow from a safe distance, striking the bugbear once in the chest and a second bolt renders the bugbear into an unconscious heap.  

They tie him up and loot the bodies:  one bugbear yields 33 silver pieces, a jeweled eyepatch, and an iron key.  Mew takes the eyepatch, Morgana takes the key, and the party splits the silver (5 pieces each and 3 to the Kitty).  The other bugbear has 10 silver pieces, which they divide 1 silver each plus 4 to the Kitty.

Paused (Game resumed 6/11/17)

Everyone got into the room and closed the door behind them.  Mew kept an ear to the door, and having heard nothing, smacked the goblin awake, his eyes snapped open wide in fright.  Mew talked to him: his name was Droop and he was sent here by Black Spider, who works with Glasstaff), but he didn’t know where Black SPider was.  Bartholomew offered the party’s protection to the goblin from the cruel bugbears, and the goblin calmed down.  When asked who else was in the mansion, the goblin replied that there were four people playing games down the hall.

The tied up bugbear began to stir, but Mew promptly knocked him out again.  She hugs Droop, and squeezes him so tightly that he passed out once more.  And a party discussed their next move.

Morgana transformed into a green and yellow parrot, and she, Mew of Death, and Bartholomew walked down the hallway and entered the room (Mew and Bartholomew were still wearing their Redbrands cloaks).  Arian, Therkan, and Eru watched from the hall.  Once inside the room, they saw four human warriors playing some sort of dice game at a table covered in coins and trinkets – having interrupted, one of the warriors shouted, “Who are you?!”

Morgana repeated in her best parrot voice, “Who are you?”

Mew responded, “Black Spider sent us as support.”

Morgana squawked, “Support!”

The warrior invited them to pull up a chair asking, “Do you know how to play Badweather?”

Bartholomew said, “I haven’t wet the bed since I was three…”

Morgana chewed on the ends of Mew’s hair, so Mew casually raised her hood and sits at the table.  Bartholomew pulled up a chair.  They could both hear that the dice were weighted, but Mew still dropped two GP from the kitty onto the table.  They lost the first round.

Mew broke the ice asking where Glasstaff was, and the warriors pointed to a door on the opposite end of the room.  Mew dropped another two GP on the table, and the dice were rolled.  Mew won!  He pulled in 2 EP, 5 SP, and 3 GP.  Mew thanked the warriors for allowing her to win this round.  He placed the 3 GP back into the kitty, but she pocketed the rest of the coins in her purse.  She and Bartholomew, with Morgana on Mew’s shoulder, left the table and exited out the door toward Glasstaff, closing it behind them.

Meanwhile, Aria, Therkahn, and Eru were still stuck twiddling their thumbs in the hallway.  They had no disguises.  And they didn’t want to leave this location to wander along the mansion in case their friends needed them.  Therkahn mumbled something about being bored and Eru just sat there with a dumb look on her face.  She began to take a short rest in the hopes of recouping some of her spell casting abilities, which were exhausted in the last encounter.

Mew listened in the hallway’s adjacent doorway and heard faint bubbling and dripping sounds.  They opened the door and stepped inside and saw a laboratory of sorts with beakers, glasses, potions, bubbling concoctions, tomes, and parchments.  A large rate scurried around the floor.  Mew dropped some crumbs for the rat, who quickly nibbled them away.  Bartholomew investigated the flasks and vials and shoved them in his bag: a vial of mercury, another of an unknown black sludge, and one powdered nightshade.  To the group, it appeared someone had been researching a potion of invisibility.  

Morgana cast Detect Magic, but nothing stood out; although the rat faintly glowed.  She transformed from a parrot into a rat and struck up a conversation with the rat: “How’s it hangin’ in here, squeak squeak?” They talk about food, life in general, and the rat’s Master.  Mew gave the rat more food.  

Morgana asked, “Where’s the shiny stuff, squeak?”

The rat replied “Squeak squeak, the red guys have shiny.”

Meanwhile, in the far-off hallway, the three abandoned party members just sit there, picking their nails and teeth, with nothing to do but wait.

Morgana asked the rat where they could find his Master, and the rat pointed to another doorway which exited the room.  Morgana reverted back to her human form and Mew reached out to grab and strangle the rat, but missed as it scurried underneath the crack in the doorway.  Mew burst through the master’s doorway, which led to an empty bedchamber; no rat in sight.  Mew yells, “Are you alright, Sir?”  No response.  Morgana noticed a secret passage along the wall, as well as a letter on the desk.  She read it aloud, which reeked of conspiracy and treachery among the Lord’s Alliance, signed by the Black Spider.  Bartholomew yells, “Oh! It’s the Black Spider!!”  

Mew ran back through the door into the laboratory, continued on through the hallway into the room with the dice players.  He yelled, “Glasstaff is missing!!!” (nobody reacted) as she continued to run through the far door, into the hallway where the long-forgotten and neglected party members were napping.  Mew caught everyone up on what had transpired, and they head up the stairs toward the crevasse.

Bartholomew and Morgana heard footsteps and voices coming from down the hallway, most likely the concerned warriors from the dice game.  Morgana shifted into a bat and flew into the secret passage.  Bartholomew backed out of the bedchamber into the laboratory, and drank a light orange potion that he had hoped was a potion of invisibility.  It could have killed him.  Or worse…but he got lucky and although it wasn’t a potion of invisibility, he felt invigorated and much healthier.  He grabbed every bottle of liquid he could find and dropped them in his bag.  He opened the doorway to the hallway and simply waited for the men to arrive.

As Mew, Therkahn, Aria, and Eru continued their trek to the crevasse ,a bat flew overhead.  Therkahn poised to strike it down, but Mew stopped her just in time: she recognized it as Morgana.  

The four warriors found Bartholomew and confronted him about Glasstaff’s sudden disappearance.  He stated he was gone when he got here and didn’t know anything, and one of the warrior’s insisted he stick with them.  They hung out in the lab for a few minutes, searching for clues of Glasstaff’s whereabouts.

Reaching the bridge of the crevasse, Mew began to cross it, but it collapsed beneath her about halfway over.  He fell 20’ into the crevasse and at the bottom, healed himself with a potion.  Eru climbed down the side and joined Mew at the bottom.  Therkahn walked to the second bridge and crossed there.  Morgana simply flew across the chasm.  Mew and Eru climb up the opposite side and joined their friends at the top.

Back at the lab, the warriors and Bartholomew simply cannot figure out where Glasstaff went and decide they needed to wait for him.  They all wanted to go back and play more Badweather and invited Bartholomew, who declined with class and dignity, “I have to go to the bathroom.  I’ll join you later.”  They leave him alone, and he grabs a torch and ventures back into the bedchamber to look around.  He found a chest at the foot of the bed, opened it, and pocketed All The Things:  180 SP, 130 GP, silk pouch with 5 carnelia, 2 peridot, and 1 pearl.  Upon inspecting the room, there was nothing else of interest, so he stepped into the secret passage.  It led him right back to the rest of his party, who were now in a room filled with casks of ale.  When asked, Bartholomew said there was nothing further of interest in the bed chamber, but Morgana suspected otherwise.  A lying monk.

Sensing no traps around a secret passage, Aria stepped in and the rest of the party followed her.  A small hallway led to another door, which revealed an armory containing 12 spears, 6 shortswords, 4 longswords, 6 crossbows, and 8 quivers with 20 bolts each.  Eru took a cloak and a longsword.  Therkahn took 2 cloaks, shoving one in their pack, a crossbow, a quiver, a spear, and a longsword.  Aria took a cloak, a crossbow, and a quiver.  Mew yelled down the hall that someone needed to grab him a quiver, which Eru did.  Morgana changed to her human form and grabbed one of the cleaner Redbrand cloaks.  Everyone put on their cloaks and proceeded down the hallway and through yet another door.  

A large room opened up, with three sealed coffins, each coffin had a skeleton leaning up against it, each armed with a longsword.  Not wanting to take any chances, Therkahn opened fire from the doorway, sending a bolt through the closest skeleton, which fell into a heap of bones.  They took down the remaining two skeletons with their crossbow.  All entered the room, but Mew, who watched cautiously from the doorway.  Bartholomew, Morgana, and Aria each open a coffin, finding bones and a signet ring.  They each take their respective rings.  Bartholomew also snagged a human fibula.  Therkan proceeded to smash the skeletons to dust.  Mew searched for traps near a door in the room; he found none, but heard faint sobbing from behind the door.  Therkahn double-checked for traps, and found nothing.  

Eru cracked the door open and peeked inside: a dungeon with two women and a boy.  Filthy clothes were strewn across the floor of the prison cells, and Mew rummaged through the rags.  Therkahn questioned the prisoners and learned they had been there for about a week.  Nobody seemed to be lying, so Morgana took the key she pilfered off of the bugbears earlier and freed the captives, insisting they remain in their cells and they’d return for them once they secured the mansion and it was safe.  

Departing the dungeon, the party made their way to the ornate double doors. Having opened the doors, they are met with a long, dusty hallway, void of any footprints.  Suspicious, Therkahn shot a bolt into the hallway, but nothing happened.  Morgana rolled a few ball bearings across the floor, and again, nothing happened.  Mew found evidence of shuffling footprints hugged close against the wall, and threw out more ball bearings.  Nothing.  Mew, Aria, and Eru ran into the hallway while Therkahn hugged the edge of the wall, shuffling across.  About halfway through the hall, the floor gave way beneath the three.  Mew leapt to safety before the floor completely collapsed, but Aria and Eru fell to the bottom, receiving some injuries.  They climbed out of the pit.  Morgana, still at the double doors, shifted once more into a bat and flew safely across the pit.  They found themselves back at the room with the cistern where this misadventure had begun.  But…the Redbrand hooligan they had left tied up was now gone.  Eru returned to the prison, gathering the two women and the boy, and the party led them safely out of the mansion.  Bartholomew gave the boy an apple, and the three fled back to their lives.  Our adventurers made their way to the forest.

Therkahn confronted Sildar about Black Spider’s letter and the corruption of the Lord’s Alliance.  Lord Iarno may very well have been Glasstaff, and the Alliance was more than likely corrupted in the highest levels.  Sildar suggested sending a letter to the Lord’s Alliance to warn them.  But who would be safe to receive the letter?  With no indication of where Glasstaff and the Redbrands went, and exhausted from the day, everyone took a nap, and awoke around midnight.  

Bartholomew, Mew, and Morgana (once more a parrot) decided to head to the Redbrand’s favorite bar back in town.  Therkahn, Aria, and Eru headed toward the “normal” bar in town.  Everyone wanted some ale…and answers.  Stepping into the Redbrand’s bar, nothing stood out as suspicious or awry.  Bartholomew and Mew received free ale at the bar and drink up.  Morgana sipped out of Mew’s tankard.  

Mew wandered up to a drunk Redbrand, “Hey…what does Glasstaff do for fun?”

*Hiccup* the Redbrand blinked and growled, “Nothing! He’s got a glass staff up his ass!”

Morgana squawks, “ASS! ASS!!”  She flew from Mew’s shoulder to Bartholomew’s and began to drink out of his tankard.

Mew eyed the patrons of the bar and sauntered on over to the bartender.  

At the Stonehill Inn, Therkhan slammed back some ale, Aria looked around for any unusual characters, and Eru ate a late-night meal.  Therkahn asked the bartender if anything unusual happened, but alas, nothing more unusual than usual.  Aria asked if the Black Spider meant anything.  Nope. When she asked about “Iarno” the bartender told her he had come in a few months ago for a few days.  He was short, bald, and wore robes.  Eru interrupted, ordered a bottle of hard liquor, and shared it with Therkahn and Aria.  SHOTS!

Mew had continued talking to the bartender and ordered a beer and bourbon.  When he asked the bartender if he’d heard any news of any ruckus with the Redbrands, she was told nothing more than their usual nuisance.  

Bartholomew learned that the Redbrands didn’t think highly of Glasstaff, but they always did what he said.  Upon learning this, Mew walked up to a tipsy Redbrand named Jimbo to sew some seeds of dissention:  “You should start your own band,” Mew said.  “You don’t need Glasstaff.”  “Make it Jimbo’s band…”

Jimbo’s eyes widened and he smiled, rubbing his scruffy chin.  He jumped out of his chair, grabbed five Redbrands and they ran out screaming they were gonna start Jimbo’s Band!  What?!  Mew went to another table.

Eru continued to drink at the bar while Therkhan grabbed her cloak and she and Aria left the Stonehill Inn, headed toward the Redbrand’s hangout.  On their way, they were passed by a gang of six drunk Redbrands screaming, “WE’RE GONNA START A BAND!!!!”  A musical ensemble…, “JIMBO’S BAND!!!!”

Mew, Bartholomew, Morgana (the parrot), Therkahn, and Aria hung out at the Redbrand’s bar.  Aria offered to buy the house a beer if anyone could tell htem where Glasstaff was, but nobody knew.  Mew, Aria, and Morgana (now in human form) left the bar and decided to wake Halia to break the bad news and to see if she could help.  The lights were off…so they left.

Eru heard a ruckus outside the Stonehill Inn.  Downing the  last of her ale, she went outside to investigate, following the sound of six howling men in the town square.  Jimbo’s Band!!  Banging pots, pans, and “singing.”  Mew wandered up next to Eru to enjoy the show, Morgana turned into an owl and watched from atop a branch.  Aria climbed a tree and napped on a sturdy branch.  Bartholomew and Therkahn passed out at the bar.  Morgana hooted herself to sleep.  One by one, the members of Jimbo’s band passed out…Eru climbed up the heap of snoring bodies and fell asleep herself.  None awoke to the sensation of Mew pilfering through their pockets.  She found 15 GP and left toward Stonehill Inn for the night.

Sunrise.  Everyone is hungover and they all wander to the Stonehill Inn.  Bartholomew and Therkhan ask the barmaid for a hangover cure…to which they drink and Therkhan vomits.  Once presentable, everyone ventured back to Halia’s house.

Mew greeted Halia at the door and asked if should could scry, mentioning there was a complication in killing Glasstaff.  She also explained it was presumed that Glasstaff had acquired an invisibility potion and eluded capture…or death.  Halia agreed to scry for a hefty fee, which was negotiated down by Aria offering her the signet ring.  Instead of 150GP, Halia agreed to 100GP.  Halia gathered her crystal ball, a bowl of water, and five rubies.  

“Do you have anything of Glasstaff’s?”, Halia asks.

Mew called for Bartholomew to produce one of the many things he grabbed from the lab.  Bartholomew produced a silver coin.  Morgana spied a great many coin in Bartholomew’s bag and demanded to know the truth of their procurement.  The coin was not personal enough, so Bartholomew handed over the notes from the lab, and was told they would be destroyed in the ritual.

Halia performed the scrying ritual and the party could see Glasstaff within the crystal ball, fleeing with 3 Redbrands through a hilly region.  Halia handed Mew a mirror containing the same image, advising it was only sustainable for one hour.  The party could not afford the Potion of Speed offered by Halia, which was 200GP.  Bartholomew produced his plethora of potions, asking if any of them were a Potion of Speed but they were all random potions.  None of which would help this journey.

Therkahn fretted over the Lord’s Alliance infiltration and their intentions with the dwarven mines.

After discussing the region, the party agreed to head southeast toward the Sword Mountains.

(All Leveled Up!)

**PAUSE** – Resumed 7/16/17

Aria and Bartholomew decided to stay in Phandalin to research and talk to the locals as Mew, Eru, Morgana, and Therkahn pursued Glasstaff.  The party first purchased four horses (30GP, 6 from each party member, and 6 from the kitty) as well as tack (an additional 2 GP per member).  Therkahn searched for tracks leading out of the city, but failed.  But, based on the information provided from the scrying mirror, the party picked up the scent.  

About an hour into the ride, the mirror disappeared in a puff of smoke, but they were only about a mile away from the base of the Sword Mountains.  Therkhan dismounted and found broken twigs and crushed blades of grass.  She picked up the trail!  Another hour passed and the party noticed a trail leading up the barren mountain, spotting three figures ascending the mountainside.  Leaving the horses tied to some trees with a leaking waterskin dangling from the branches for the horses, the party began the hike upward.

Therkahn led the way, more knowledgeable about mountain and rocky terrain.  About 30 minutes pass, and they’re only about 300’ below Glasstaff and his two Redbrand guards.  Morgana transformed into a hawk and took to the skies.  Mew stealthily made his way up the rocky outcroppings, inching closer.  Therkahn and Eru continued the slow climb up, keeping pace with Glasstaff.  The three Redbrands appeared to be searching for something among the rocks while they continued to climb, oblivious to the presence of our party among them.  Mew continued to ascend quickly up the side of the mountain, passing Glasstaff and his party.  Unfortunately, she kicked some rocks on her way up, and quickly ducked behind a boulder.  Glasstaff and his two men now had their guard up and warily scoured the mountainside.

Morgana let out a might screech, causing the three Redbrands to look up, and she landed on a nearby rock to observe.  Mew’s cover was safe.  The three continued to search among the rocks, muttering.

Eru and Therkahn put on their Redbrand cloaks and Therkan waved enthusiastically at Mew.  “Stop waving…!,” Mew whispered and he stealthily moves closer to Glasstaff’s party.  Eru and Therkahn closed the gap as well.  Morgana launched once more to the heavens and circled above, watching.  Mew made his move and she leaned up against a boulder, arms crossed, directly in the line of sight of Glasstaff and his men.

“What are you doing here?” one of the guards asked.

“What does it look like I’m doing here?” Mew retorted.

“…Leaning up against a rock,” he replied.

Annoyed, Mew asked “Who’s in charge here?!”

“Him,” the guard simply pointed to Glasstaff.

“And who do you think pays him?” Mew chuckled.

“Hey!” the guard turned to Glasstaff, “Who pays you?”

Glasstaff growled, “That’s none of your business!!”

“Are…are you an Associate?” the guard asked Mew.

“Do I look like an Associate?” she asked.

Mew reached into his bag for a cloth and brought it to his face, wiped away a streak of flesh-colored make-up, and revealed her true skin: inky black drow flesh.  The two guards cowered slightly.

“…Yes, you do look like you might be…. What…what can I do for you?” Glasstaff asked.

Mew continued to only ask questions and learned the party was searching for a secret entrance to a cave, hidden among the rocks, but progress was slow and they knew the entrance was somewhere.  The captive dwarf with the map (being held up north) shared that intel.  Glasstaff and his guards had to leave Phandalin early due to “an annoyance” at their hideout.  

Meanwhile, Therkan and Eru continued to inch closer, undiscovered by the men.  Morgana, while flying high, found some rocks up the mountainside that didn’t share the same natural properties of the neighboring rocks.  She flew down to the anomaly and transformed back into her human form, watching below.

Mew suddenly aimed her crossbow at Glasstaff, growled “You failed your peer review”  and fired, the bolt pierced his stomach.  “KILL HER!,” he yelled at the guards.  Eru lunged forward to shank Glasstaff with her longsword, but his staff glowed a faint blue and he was enveloped by a shield.  Her sword bounced off.  Therkahn swung their warhammer, but thunked off Glasstaff’s shield, too.  Morgana shifted into a hawk and flew to the melee.  Mew let off another bolt at Glasstaff, which landed and split the first bolt, driving it deeper into his abdomen.  Blood poured from his lips.

One of the guards went to attack Eru with his broadsword, but Mew froze him in his tracks yelling, “STAND Down!  You work for me!!!”  He sheathed his sword.  

“Coward!!,” Glasstaff spatted, and his hands began to glow with fire. He launched a fireball at Mew, engulfing her in hungry flames.  As she burned, Eru cast Sleep at the melee and Glasstaff and one of the guards crumple into a heap on the ground.  The flames around Mew extinguished and the faint glow of his staff disappeared.  

“Kill Glasstaff!!” Mew commanded the awake guard.  

Therkahn stepped in front of him, “I’ll kill Flagstaff!!!!”  They held up their hammer to the heavens, and a blinding light pierced into Glasstaff.  He simply sunk a little deeper into a heap, never to awaken.

Morgana landed nearby and reverted to her human form.  

“Well, that was overly dramatic!” exclaimed Mew.

And the looting began.  Mew took Glasstaff’s glass staff for himself.  Eru snagged his cloak, which had a faint magical aura, as well as a bag of spell components. The party split 30 electrum pieces (equivalent to 15 gold pieces; 4 GP to each, plus 14 to the kitty, plus one extra to Mew for her theatrical performance).  Mew’s staff turned out to be the Staff of Defence and Eru’s cloak is the Robe of Shielding.  Eru put on the robe and it glowed faintly, then the effect disappeared.

Morgana looted the sleeping guard and found 3 gold pieces (which Mew promptly claimed) and weighted dice, which Morgana pocketed.  The awake guard, they learned, was named Eldan and he would accompany them while continuing to search for the cave entrance.  Morgana told everyone about the strange rocks she had seen further up the mountainside.  As they were about to leave, the sleeping guard began to stir.  Therkahn knocked him upside the head with her hammer, promptly putting him back to sleep.

Once at the strange rocks, they found an entrance to a dark tunnel.  Mew searched for traps and found none.  Eru cast Detect Magic while Mew performed the Dancing Lights Cantrip as she picked up some dirt and whispered, “Dance, torches, dance,” and torchlight appeared and floated around the party.  In they went.  

After walking a bit, they found an open cavern.  In the corner were bedrolls and supplies.  From a distance, Eru  noticed a faint magical glow coming from the bedrolls.  Therkahn pushed Eldran forward to go investigate the supplies and camp.  Mew gently asked him to investigate.  So he went, followed by floating torchlight, and yelled from across the cavern, “Um, there’s a dead dwarf.  There’s blood everywhere!”  

Everyone joined Eldran at the encampment.  There was flour, salt, meat, lanterns, lantern oil, and a shovel in the supplies.  Therkan snagged a lantern and oil.  Morgana took the shovel.  Mew pilfered the dwarf’s pockets, feeling around the contours of his bloated body.  Eru noticed his shoes were glowing with magic, so she worked them off of his bloated feet and slipped them on.  Everyone began to give her grief for her stinky dead-dwarf shoes.

The cavern also contained a very large pit, with a corner caved in.  There were two ropes leading down into the cavern.  As they walked to investigate, Eru’s shoes narrowed and formed snuggly around her feet.  “Hmmmm,” she mused.  

Therkahn again pushed Eldran to investigate the ropes and the pit.  He climbed down and yelled up, “There’s nothing down here.  But there’s *he pointed* a rope over there.”  

Everyone climbed down to join Eldran in the pit.  There were two passages: one accessible by rope and one accessible with a climb up the crumbled cavern wall.  Mew ordered he ascend the rope and investigate one of the two passages.  He disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel.  Two minutes go by with silence, then a piercing scream emanated through the cavern, followed by silence.  Everyone immediately decided they would take the second passage.

Eru climbed up the cliffside.  Therkahn followed, but fell.  Mew attempted to  climb up, but when she made it to the ledge at the top it crumbled and she fell.  Morgana climbed halfway up and fell, landing next to Mew.  Mew turned to face her, still on the ground, “…can’t…you…fly?”  

Eru pointed and laughed from the top of the ledge; Therkahn flipped her off. Mew remembered he had a rope.  Morgana turned into a bird, and flew to the top with Mew’s rope in her talons.  Once properly tied off, Mew and Therkahn climbed to the top of the ledge.  Resting, Therkahn and Morgana talked politics.  Eru asked Mew if she could still smell the stench of the shoes.  Mew sniffed, “Yep.”  

Looking beyond the passageway, they found themselves in a hallway with numerous passages.  There was no breeze, the air was flat and dead, but there was a roaring sound of crashing waves.  Eru listened and heard it coming from the right.  Therkahn grunted, “It’s why they call it Wave Echo Cave.”  

They all headed right, pursuing legends and stories.  As they walked, Eru became attuned into the magic of her stinky shoes: She was wearing Boots of Striding and Springing.

As they traveled through the passages, following the sound of the crashing waves, Therkahn analyzed the stone walls.  They were dwarven work, and the walls were smoothed by acid.  Mew continued to look for traps, but found none along the way.  Ascending some stairs, Mew extinguished the floating torchlight.  The elves adjusted easily to the darkness.  A cavern lay before them, random tables were placed about and a dozen skeletons littered the floor.  

“Hey, what’s in there?!?” Morgana asked.

“Shhh…,” Mew chided.  

Sounds of movement greeted them from the cavern.  And five creatures rose from the remains on the floor.

One immediately ran up to Eru, striking her with it’s claws, raking across her chest.  A persistent bitter cold raked through her torso, but her body resisted freezing still.  Mew loaded a bolt in her crossbow, and fired at one of the many creatures.  She missed.  She retreated to the darkness and shadows, blending as one with the nothing.  Therkahn cast Bless on the party, while also casting Healing Word on Mew.  A second creature runs up and sinks its claws into Therkahn, causing damage, but they, too, did not freeze.  Eru was attacked by a third creature, sustaining damage and she felt sluggish, nearly unable to move.  Another creature ran toward Morgana, and Eru cast Crown of Madness before it could reach her.  Alas, the creature was already mad, so the magical iron crown simply disappeared from his head.  Morgana flicked her thorn whip at it, cutting into its neck.  She followed through with her dagger, stabbing it in the gut.  One attacked Therkahn, but she smashed its hands away with her hammer. Mew loaded another bolt and fired, the bolt piercing into the spine of the creature; it crumbled to the ground, dead.  They ducked back into the shadows.  Therkahn cast Turn Undead, and one of the four remaining creatures ran away in terror through a doorway.  They then cast Spiritual Weapon, chanted into the darkness and a warhammer materialized, smashed into a nearby ghoul.  Another swiped at Eru, but she dodged the attack, swatting it aside with her longsword and cutting a claw off its hand and striking it in the calf on the downstroke.  It gimped away.  Eru reached out and grabbed a nearby ghoul, shocked it as lightning arced from her fingers.  It slowed down to a crawl.  A ghoul lunged to bite Morgana, but she unfurled her whip, closing its jaw tightly with the thorny weapon.  She yanked forward, causing the creature to bite off its own tongue, as she drove her dagger into its throat.  It collapsed, dead.  One creature reached out to claw Therkahn, but flailed and couldn’t make contact.  Mew shot a bolt at the flailing ghoul, and the boli pierced through the back of its head, the bolt protruded through the gaping, now dead, mouth of the creature.  Therkan attacked another creature, but missed, but followed through with spiritual weapon and crushed its back and neck with the magical warhammer.  With all creatures dispatched, or having fled, Therkahn cast Healing Word on Eru.  The party rummaged through the skeletal remains and found 10 GP, which they gave to Therkahn.  Mew stole a ring from one of the rotting bodies while nobody was watching.

Having investigated the room, Therkahn and Mew concluded that the last meals of the skeletons must have been poisoned.  And since the bones had been picked off their flesh, the poor souls very well may have been meals for the encountered ghouls who now lay dead beside them.  Once more, they resumed their journey following the echoing waves.

They found a cavern with a doorway and heard five distinct, gruff voices behind it.  Leaving the doorway alone, and remaining quiet, the party investigated the rest of the cavern.  A water-wheel powered a nearby forge.  There were 8-10 dead dwarven warriors, some still twitching.  Therkahn sensed an undead presence and noticed a green, floating skull inspecting the bodies of the fallen warriors.  

Our adventurers quietly retreated back to the meal hall.  Mew opted to take first watch while the rest of the party rested.  Eru and Therkahn nestled down amongst the skeletal remains on the floor and slept.  Morgana ventured back out of the cavern to the Sword Mountains, down the mountainside, and rested with the horses to wait for Aria and Bartholomew to join them.

PAUSED.  Game resumed 8/13/17

Morgana met Aria and Bartholomew in town, and they grudgingly picked up a new party member: Drakon.  Halia thought it would be beneficial if he tagged along to ensure the completion of the mission. Enter Drakon, a human barbarian and Zhentarim agent. He’s an odd looking fellow – 7’ tall, an albino, looking to weigh nearly 400 pounds…and a whopping 12-years-old.  Morgana led them back to Wave Echo Cave and they made their way to where everyone else was resting.

Therkahn eyed Drakon suspiciously.  They barricaded the stairs and doorways of their room, hoping to keep the hordes of undead lurking in nearby rooms at bay. Mew and Drakon agreed to take the first watch while everyone else rested.  It was uneventful.  Eru awoke and relieved Mew of her watch, and Drakon continued on to the second watch with Eru.  Again, uneventful…although the hordes could be heard more clearly.  They had moved closer.

Fully refreshed and ready for adventure and battle, the party prepared for a fight.  Morgana transformed into a parrot and perched on random shoulders here and there.  Watching, waiting.  Mew, being the sneakiest, was chosen to scout ahead.  As she stepped into the room, her coin purse unfastened and fell to the ground, the coins clinked loudly against the ground.  Everyone froze…except Mew, who scrambled to pick up his escaped riches.  Eru shook her head and groaned, “Mew…”  The gathered undead all turned to look at the noise, and Mew.  And that floating green skull began muttering in an unknown language, which Aria translated for the group, “Kill the intruders!”

Aria cast Eldritch Blast at the skull, and a green orb torpedoed from her hands, landing inside the skull and sending it crashing into the wall behind it.  It recovered from the impact, and flared up in anger.

A zombie swiped at Mew and Aria shouted, “Mew, look out!!”  The zombie’s clawed and bony hand swept the air above Mew’s head as she bent down to retrieve more fallen coins.  Another zombie followed suit, and missed again as Mew ducked for another coin.

Bartholomew loaded his shortbow and shot at a zombie near Mew.  The arrow sunk deep within the zombie’s head, but had little to no effect as it stood there groaning at Mew.  Mew, tired of the noise, unsheathed her long sword and swung at the annoying and groaning zombie, slicing a chunk of it’s head off.  It continued to stand there, groaning and moaning.  Mew retreated toward the back of the doorway–all his coins safely stowed.

The skull mumbled and muttered something archaic and suddenly a fireball engulfed the party (and three zombies with it); Aria fell to the ground burning.  The others were fortunate enough to escape the blaze.

Drakon, fearless 12-year-old, stepped into the middle of the zombies, pulled out his great sword and sliced a zombie in half.  Eru cast Magic Missile at the green skull and sent three pink darts into it, which caused the bone to crack slightly.  A zombie retaliated against Drakon and bashed him with its rotting hands.  Another zombie joined and smacked Drakon around.

Therkahn cast Preserve Life around her party mates, and healed several of them of their wounds.  They also conjured her spiritual war hammer, which appeared before them and slammed into the skull.  Aria, no longer burning, again sent a green orb into the green skull, which caused the cracks to widen.

As Bartholomew just stood there and watched, Mew yelled at him from the shadows, “Bartholomew, use your tinderbox and set those Fuckers on fire!!”  Bartholomew reached into his pack and threw oil onto the zombie nearest Drakon.  He hunched over to strike up a fire, but the humidity inside the cave was too much, his tinder was too damp, and a fire failed to catch.

Mew grabbed his crossbow and released a bolt at the skull.  The bolt slammed into the skull, burrowed deep, and split it in two; the pieces fell harmlessly to the ground!!!

The oily zombie swiped at Bartholomew, but its slick fingers only caressed down his monk robe.  Another zombie swung at Drakon, clawing his flesh.  Drakon retaliated with his handax, splitting the zombie in half from skull to genitalia – and he was now covered in gore.  Eru flung a firebolt at the oiled zombie and ignited him into a burning heap of rotted flesh.  The last zombie attacked Drakon, but he dodged.  Angry and pissed off, Therkhan hurled her Spiritual War Hammer and squashed him flat.  Don’t fuck with a pissed off dwarf.

Eru cast Detect Magic, but only the broken skull glowed slightly. A passageway in the room glowed faintly of magic.  Before departing down that hall, Bartholomew grabbed a decapitated dwarf zombie head and tied it to his belt.  He also snagged a human femur, adding it to his growing collection of bones.  As the party rested, Therkahn noticed the dwarven smelting forge in the room, and investigated with Mew.  She retrieved 3 silver pieces, which she sneakily put into her pack, while Mew moodily said something about hypocrisy.

Everyone made their way down the passageway.  They entered a cavern which appeared to be an old battle-worn workshop.  Scattered, crushed skeletons littered the floor, and there were two rooms with large, metal, battle-scarred doors.  Eru put her ear upon the first door and heard movement behind.  Gigantic Drakon tried to push open the doors, but they didn’t budge.  Bartholomew took several steps back to get a running start.  He ran and leapt into the air to karate kick the door open, just as Eru, Aria, and Drakon successfully pushed the doors open.  Bartholomew flew into the room, tumbled, and stood up…directly in front of a floating orb with eyeballs.  A Spectator!  Everyone silently watched as Bartholomew appeared to just stand there, blinking before the gigantic floating mass of tubes and eyeballs.

Bartholomew heard a voice in his head, “Hello…”

He introduced himself to the floating creature and apologized for his rude interruption.

“I’m a member dedicated to the Triad, and I help those in need.  You’ve got a nice place here…I, um, like your eyeballs,” Bartholomew said.

The aggressive eyestalks calmed slightly and Bartholomew again heard in his head, “You must leave this place.  It is not for you.”

Bartholomew looked around and noticed workbenches and supplies.  He offered to hang out and keep the Spectator company and entertain it with good conversation.

“I do not have time for this.  I must keep watch,” it told Bartholomew, in his head.

“Well, I can keep watch with you.  We have a whole group!”  Bartholomew responded.  The Spectator did not accept the offer, insisting Bartholomew leave.  He exited the room and told the group what had occurred.

Eru stepped forward and cast Suggestion, “You will allow us to explore and take what we want,” she told the being.

It blinked its many eyestalks and said, “I shall allow you to keep watch.”

It then looked upward for a moment and simply disappeared into a rift.  IT WORKED!

Eru looked around the room for anything magical.  A mace and a breastplate glowed with a magical aura.  Eru informed her friends.  She also noticed a brazier glowing with green flame – she examined it and sensed that it was what was left of the Forge of Spells.

Immediately everyone began shoving their weapons in the flame: Eru thrust in her longsword; Therkahn threw in their magical focus, warhammer, crossbow, handax; Bartholomew threw in his short sword, his short bow, and his prayer rope; Aria threw in her staff;  Drakon huffed, not interested in magic.  While distracted, Mew stole the solid brass mace.  Then she threw all of her weapons into the flames.  Aria took the gold dragon motiffed breastplate from the workbench.  The mace was known as Lightbringer and the breastplate was known as Dragonguard–rare and magical pieces.  Eru and Bartholomew raided the supplies for magical components.

With the room successfully empty of all of its valuables, Eru, Aria, Bartholomew, and Mew moved on to the next room.  Mew knocked on the door, but heard nothing.  Eru tried to push the doors open, but they were warped and wouldn’t budge.  Aria, though, was able to easily push the doors open.  They all entered the room, but Mew shifted off to the side.  She didn’t want to risk burning with the rest of the party like their previous encounter….There was dust and ash along the floor.  Everything was burnt, including a chest in the corner.  They scrambled over to the chest and ripped it open.  There were 1,100 copper pieces, 160 silver pieces, 50 electrum pieces, 3 diamonds, and a wooden pipe inlaid with platinum.  After Mew’s foiled attempt to steal all three diamonds, Eru offered her three party mates a diamond each if she could keep the pipe.  Agreed!  The three pocketed their diamonds and Eru dropped the pipe gently into her pack.  As they began to divvy up the coins between the four of them, a spiritual being rose from the bed.

“Your presence is offensive to me.  And your life forfeit!”

Eru attempted to cast Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, but it did nothing.  Drakon ran to the sounds of trouble and entered the room.  Bartholomew pulled the zombie head off of his belt, wrapped his prayer rope around his fist, and brandished the head in the air.

“By the Power of Grayskull, I compel you to leave us alone!!!” he yelled.

The spectre just looked at him.  Bartholomew punched the ghost – his first connected, but the ethereal being simply absorbed the shock of the blow.  It reached out to Bartholomew, and he sensed a cold, dead presence.  He dodged the approaching hand.

Mew attacked with her new, shiny mace.  Lightbringer didn’t glow with holy power and  Mew missed.

Therkahn laughed, muttering the mace should belong to them.  Mew tried to escape through the doorway, but Therkahn stepped in front, blocking their escape.  Mew stepped, bum-forward, in front of Therkahn, farted, and stepped aside.  Therkahn weighed the pros and cons of helping their four foolish and selfish party mates in this battle.

“If Mew gives me his mace, I’ll help.” Therkhan said.

Mew, somewhat cooperatively, threw the mace across the room close to the spectre. It skittered across the floor.  Therkahn ran for the mace, grabbed it, and cast Turn Dead…but failed.  They cast Spiritual Weapon, her ethereal hammer slammed into wraith.  It grunted, and muttered, and summoned a black flame in the corner of the room.  Aria quickly cast Protection from Good & Evil on Therkahn.

Eru cast Ray of Frost at the ghost, but the icy blue ray passed straight through the specter.  Drakon hurled a javelin at the ghost, but it too passed straight through, thunking into the wall behind it.

The black flame split into two separate fires.

Bartholomew brought out a black sludge from Glasstaff’s laboratory and slathered the top of the zombie head in goo.  He waved it at the ghost, but it had no effect.  He followed through with another punch, but his fist swept through the being.  The ghost reached toward Therkahn, but holy energy kept it at bay.  Mew fired his crossbow, and the bolt found purchase somehow in the ethereal haze.

Therkahn whispered, “luminous,” at the mace, and it flared up with a glowing light.  They struck the ghost with it and the specter hissed at them as parts of its spectral body began to disintegrate where the mace struck.  Therkahn followed the blow with their spiritual weapon, striking it with their warhammer.

The black flames expanded again.

Aria cast Magic Missile toward the specter, the three pink darts piercing the wraith – it screeched in pain.  Morgana cawed from someone’s shoulder.  Eru followed suit, casting Magic Missile at the ghost; it screamed again as the darts hit.

The black flames continued to spread.

Drakon lit his torch with the black flames and hurled it at the ghost.  The torch struck the ghost, it howled, and began to burn, the flame spreading up it’s body.

“Drakon done good,” he chuckled.

The specter reached toward Therkahn, but the Protection from Good & Evil spell cockblocked its efforts.

Bartholomew’s zombie head began to sprout hair!  He covered the rest of the zombie’s entire head in the black sludge.  And he noticed his hand and palm were more hairy than usual.  Then began punching the specter once more.  The Kung Fu Monk was relentless, striking the ghost with his hairy fist, yelling “For the Imador and the Torn Tier!!” he struck again.  His prayer rope was flung from his wrist as the specter dissolved into nothing, it’s shriek dying with it.  The black flames suddenly extinguished.  Bartholomew calmly picked up his prayer rope.  Everyone clapped…

Time to divvy up that cash!

Therkahn and Drakon didn’t want any of the coinage.  The remaining party members each received 40 silver pieces and 50 electrum pieces (plus 10 to the kitty).  Aria, Therkhan, and Bartholomew each took 200 copper pieces, and added 30 to the kitty.

They searched the room.  Mew and Bartholomew discovered magically-preserved books.  Mew found one with some type of map etched into the cover.  The other books were history books on humans, dwarves, and gnomes.  Eru was given those books.

Our adventurous party continued to follow their ears toward the thunderous sound of the crashing waves.  They found themselves in a cavernous room on a narrow ledge overlooking a pool of water.  The water would draw back and come slamming against the walls, creating that thunderous boom that could be heard throughout the caves.  Bartholomew filled two water skins with water from below.  Mew searched for treasure along the shoreline, but found nothing.  With nowhere to go, they turned around and went back to try to seal the doors that housed the Forge.  Their best attempts made, they twiddled their thumbs. Now what?

Mew and Therkahn began quietly conspiring about somehow wiping the memory of Halia’s spy, Drakon, so Halia would not learn of the Forge or any of their spoils. When the rest of the party began to notice the conversation, Therkahn attempted to flirt with Drakon (wait…he’s TWELVE!), but failed to gain his affections.  Bored, Drakon began to explore the other hallways.  Everyone followed.

They entered a cavern with a floor covered in dense fungi, making a spongy carpet, some of them glowing.  Large ‘shrooms splayed about the room.  Drakon knew some of them were likely poisonous.  He shared that knowledge with Bartholomew, but no one else.  Drakon dipped his javelin tips into the ‘shrooms, successfully poisoning their tips.  Bartholomew followed suit with his arrows.  Mew saw what they were doing and dipped all of her tipped weapons into their flesh, saying something about being a copykitten.  Therkahn also copied.  Bartholomew brought out his clippers to snip bits of mushroom flesh into his specimen bag, but punctured too deeply into the meat.  The puff ball ‘shroom exploded onto Bartholomew.  Poisoned!!  Bartholomew looked at his party mates, covered in fungi spores, grinned and simply said, “Worth it!”  He began to slump to the ground, but Aria picked him up and carried him.  The party headed back toward the water and slipped through another side passageway.

They came upon a cavernous rift in the ground with three ropes dangling down into the depths.  They could hear the voices of three Bugbears drifting up from about 20’ below them.  ADVANTAGE!  The group pummeled the three Bugbears with javelins, arrows, bolts, and spells and rained Hell from Above.  The Bugbears didn’t stand a chance.

The motley group of intrepid adventurers climbed down to loot the bodies.  Drakon discovered a crushed dwarf wearing some nice gauntlets, and he slipped them on.  They were the Gauntlets of Ogre Power!

The party walked away with 1 GP each.

One of the dead Bugbears shifted into a gray humanoid figure – a Doppelganger!  Having ascended to the other side of the rift, they had two passageways to choose from: one with a faint glow of light…and one without.  They unanimously decided to head toward the light!

There were numerous halls and rooms ahead. Therkahn cast Healing Word on themself.  Mew scouted stealthily ahead, spotting a Drow, flanked by giant spiders, talking to two Bugbears.

“Deal with the Intruders,” it growled at the Bugbears.

Mew backed into the hallway and found a locked door. Before attempting to open it, he went on and told the others what he saw and heard. Then he went back to the locked door. She pressed his ear up against the door, but heard nothing.  Mew attempted to unlock the door: success!  Peering into the dimly-lit room, she found a bound and unconscious dwarf!  Could it be Gundren Rockseeker?!?  Mew popped her head out and hissed for Bartholomew to join him to heal and wake the dwarf, then impatiently ducked back into the room.

As Bartholomew walked loudly toward the door, the voices down the hallway silenced.  The drow walked into the hallway with a giant spider behind it.  Seeing Bartholomew frozen in mid-step he nonchalantly said, “It is a pity, but I must deal with you myself…”

**PAUSED**  Game resumed 9/17/17

Eru stepped up and cast Suggest on the drow, stating he should take his two giant spiders and go take a nap.  It failed…so she retreated back down the hallway a hid behind her friends.  Morgana shifted back into human form, thought for a second, then shifted into a wolf.  She advanced warily into the hallway.

The drow elf hurled Magic Missile down the hall and struck Morgana, Bartholomew, and Drakon.  He then stepped back into the large room, and waited…From inside the dark room with the unconscious dwarf, Mew heard the conversation and scuffle.  She removed all of his surface-dweller make-up and smoothed the edges of his Redbrand cloak.  She peeked outside the doorway and watched the drow.  Bartholomew stepped forward, but stopped.  Aria suddenly ran past him, screaming, and charged into the room at the drow.  As she cleared the doorway, a Bugbear stepped out from behind a column, swung his morning star, and clonked her over her head. Another Bugbear emerged from behind a second column.  And another giant spider perched near the top of a pillar shot a sticky web a Bartholomew, but he dodged.  The Bugbear swung the morning star at Bartholomew as he dodged, smashing his side and he fell to the ground, still conscious.  Drakon ran forward, bearing his longsword, but his feet tangled in the web and he slammed his sword into the ground. Enraged, he got up in a frenzy, huffing.

The second giant spider shot a web at Drakon, but he reached up and sliced it with his sword.  Two more giant spiders emerged from the shadows. Therkan contemplated running away, but instead cast Cure Wounds on herself. She downed the Potion of Invisibility and moved forward.

Eru cast firebolt at the spider she could clearly see–it ignited and fell to the floor.  Wolf-Morgana lunged at the nearest Bugbear, and tore into his shoulder.  She made a few growls, which in wolf-speak meant “That’s payback for Bartholomew!!”  Bartholomew reached down and scratched Wolf-Morgana’s ear, causing her foot to waggle.

The drow brought forth a shiny black staff topped with an ornate black spider, and swung it at Aria. She dodged backward, but sensed an overwhelming sickness as the staff passed through the air before her.  At that same moment, Mew loaded his crossbow and aimed at the drow – the bolt whizzed passed Aria (in slow “Matrix” motion, we might add), and slammed into the drow’s chest. He coughed up blood.

Bartholomew opened his potion bag and downed the remaining bright orange potion, which healed him slightly, and he backed away into the hallway.  He mumbled back and forth for a minute, contemplated tearing his Redbrand cloak to wrap his hands and handle the poisonous mushroom bits in his bag to taint his arrows, but remembered he had already done so. He loaded his poison-tipped arrows, fired, and hit a Bugbear.

Aria cast Eldritch Blast at the drow and a green bolt of energy pierced his chest.  He screamed in agony.  Aria laughed at him.  Drakon, mouth foaming, swung his greatsword at a Bugbear, decapitating him.

A spider shot a web at Bartholomew, which landed and stuck him where he stood.  A second spider shot a web at Drakon, effectively sticking him where he stood.  A third spider advanced to bite Drakon, but he noticed and was able to slice through a mandible tip (just…the…tip). A Bugbear swung at Wolf-Morgana, struck her haunches with his morning star, tearing her flesh.  She yelped and reverted back to human form.  A fourth spider shot web at Aria and trapped her where she stood.

Therkahn walked into the room and stood in the middle of the group.  Eru ran up to a spider, lightning sparking from her fingertips and she touched it. The spider seized, its legs folded, and it crumpled, dead.  Morgana pulled out her thornwhip and dagger and unfurled the whip at the drow.  The thorns cut into his arm and as she swung forward with her dagger. He swatted her hand away.

The drow slunk backward into the room and called out, “Goddess of the Demon Web Pits, grant me Your power!”  Two dark tendrils unfurled from the back of the drow, reached forward, embraced two of the giant spiders and drew them into him.  A black mist formed around the three and as it faded, the drow was no longer just a drow: his lower body was a large spider-body and legs–his torso was the torso of the drow.  Spider-Drow, Spider-Drow, does whatever a Spider-Drow does! And he shall henceforth be known as Drider!

Mew finally emerged from the room in all of her black and red drow-glory, stepped into the fray, and spoke with authority and grace, “Drider, dear Drider, by all the power of Lolth, Araushnee, the Weaver of Destiny, Leader of the Seldarine, and our Spider Queen, quit attacking us. I am a High Priestess of the Forgotten Realm. I can redeem you and bring you honor in the Underdark.”

The Drider paused, appeared to relax.  The remaining spider climbed up to the ceiling and the Bugbear backed off.

Drider’s eyes glazed and spoke to Mew in a feminine voice in Undercommon, the speech not matching up with the movement of the Drider’s lips, “Oh my little spider that has crawled so far from the web. I will find you, and return you to Us.”

Mew knew it as the voice of Lolth.

The glazed-eyes of Drider cleared, the distant stare faded away, and he spoke to Mew in a natural, masculine voice, “High Priestess of Lolth, why are you here with these land dwellers?”

They are with me,” she replied.

“Call them off.”

Mew shrugged, “I guess I can do that to prove to you that I will help you.”  She looked around her at her partymates, “Chill for a minute and take two steps back into the hallway.”

Everyone complied, except for the invisible Therkahn, who remained where they stood, taut and ready.

“How will you redeem me,” the Drider asked Mew.

“Well,” he replied, “it won’t be easy. We must journey back to the Underdark, and it will be a long and arduous journey. And you must give something up to me. If you come with me, I can make it all happen.”

The Drider obviously was fighting his animalistic nature, and his resolve was wavering. But, he was intrigued.

“Follow you,” he states. “We shall go back down.”  The Drider walked to a giant 9’ statue of a dwarf. Mew and Therkahn both noticed the dwarf’s emerald eyes staring down from above.  Drider shifted a few stones and the statue slid to the side by 3’, revealing a large dark tunnel.  Invisible-Therkahn examined the statue and identified the false stones.  The Drider stood in the entrance of the tunnel turned and looked at Mew, waiting.

“Why should I trust you,” Mew stated. “I had my people back down, but what proof do you offer me of your intentions?”

“Trust?  As a Priestess, you should control Drider.”  Doubt flashed across his face.

Mew replied, “Why would you want me to do what I am offering to free you from?”  Laughter was heard from the hallway where the party was waiting.

Drider shrugged, turned, and began walking down the tunnel, followed by the spider and Bugbear.  They disappeared around the corner.  Mew peered down the tunnel to see what awaited her.  The Drider, bugbear, and spider were all standing there, waiting for him to follow.

Therkahn continued to examine the Dwarven statue and finally learned which stone combination would seal the tunnel.  Meanwhile, Eru searched one of the fallen Bugbear’s pockets and scored 5 GP.  Suddenly, Drakon screamed past everyone, brandishing his longsword, and charged into the tunnel directly toward the drow. He missed the turn and slammed into the rock wall.

Mew rolled her eyes and called into the tunnel, “He doesn’t listen well, but you can thank me for that.”

Everyone bristled. The Bugbear smashed Drakon’s shoulder with a morning star. Therkahn cast Guiding Bolt into the tunnel and illuminated the earth.  No longer invisible, they cast Preserve Life, and healed Drakon, Mew, and herself.  Eru ran into the tunnel entrance and hurled an acid bubble, which popped on a Bugbear’s face, melted through its flesh and revealed the skull.  He fell dead to the ground. Morgana moved into the entrance, her thornwhip at the ready.

The Drider, now furious, crawled up onto the ceiling of the tunnel and ran toward Drakon, swinging his staff.  It struck and poisoned the barbarian. Next, the Drider swung the staff at Therkahn, but she knocked it aside with her warhammer. Mew loaded a bolt in her crossbow and let it loose: it struck.  The Drider retaliated by spewing a web at Therkahn, Mew, Eru, and Drakon.  Only Eru was struck and it burnt into her flesh, trapping her where she stood.  Mew retreated further back into the room.

Bartholomew rummaged through his bag and found a light pink potion, which he downed.  “Mmmm, tastes bubbly!”  Suddenly, he began to hiccup, producing little pink bubbles…for the next five minutes…!

“Well, that’s *hiccup* not what I *hiccup* expected!”  He entered the room, “Looks like *hiccup* you’re in a situa*hiccup*tion.”

He rummaged through his sack and found a second potion.  As he tried to set the empty bottle down, it stuck to his hand.  He examined his hand and found little spider barbs!  Spider-Bartholomew!

Aria moved into the tunnel and cast Eldritch Blast at the Drider. It struck and he hissed at her.  A spider attacked Drakon, but missed. He countered with his longsword and sliced the spider in half. The drider pushed past Therkahn, Morgana, and Eru standing in the tunnel entrance.  Therkan struck him with a mace, Eru sliced him with her longsword, and Morgana lashed out with her whip.

As the drider moved past them, Therkahn whispered “luminous,” activating their mace, swung with their warhammer, and missed. The Drider ran toward Mew. Eru cast firebolt, badly burning the Drider. Morgana moved closer, unfurled her whip, and brandished her dagger, and growed, “I got this, Bitch! Watch this!!”

The whip coiled around the Drider’s neck, and as Morgana pulled back, it tore off his head.  She followed by sinking her dagger deep into his guts and ripped upward, pulling out the Drider’s heart, and tucking it into her bag, wild-eyed.

Mew immediately reached down and claimed the Drider’s staff. Therkan looted a Bugbear and found an old iron key.  Morgana rifled through the innards of one of the gutted spiders and found devoured goblin pieces…she grabbed a goblin toe and fastened it to her belt. Aria spotted a pouch of gemstones, giving one to each party member and saved two for herself.

Mew examined the statue and plotted how best to extract the emerald eyes, but Therkahn beat her to it and reached up to pry them loose. Just before she jiggled their blade beneath one of the stones, Mew noticed a trip wire,”STOP!”  She pointed out the trap and offered to disarm it for one of the emeralds. Therkahn agreed. Spider-Bartholomew offered to help since the trip wire was housed on the ceiling and he used his new spider-barbs to climb up. Mew directed him how to disarm the trap and once successful, Therkahn and Mew examined their new treasures…only to discover they were fake.

Moving back to the room with the unconscious dwarf, Therkahn and Aria noticed a small chest.  It was filled with 150GP (21 GP each, plus 3 to the kitty) and an ornate ale mug made of pure hammered electrum which Therkahn claimed. Therkahn then healed the dwarf that was left in the room in that other hallway.

Eru and Morgana investigated the tunnel and found a side passage which was recently carved and descended, likely into the Underdark.  That’s as far as they were willing to go… they returned to the rest of their party.

The dwarf finally awoke.  “If you’re going to torture me, just do it!”

Therkahn offered him a Dwarven handshake to show she was friendly.  It didn’t do much…Mew realized her presence may have been a mistake and stepped out of the room to reapply all of her flesh-colored make-up. Bartholomew stood on the ceiling, looking down.

“My brother and I were ambushed at the cavern. Gundren was supposed to help my brother and I with mining, but he never showed up. The crew is missing…”  the dwarf said.

“I think they’re dead,” Therkahn said. Eru tucked the stinky dwarven shoes beneath her gown.

“Did you already deal with the drow?” the dwarf asked.

“It’s dead,” Mew stated as she re-entered the room, looking like one of Eru’s kind again.

The dwarf didn’t know too much more, but had wanted to get the forge up and running again.  Therkahn tried to dissuade him due to the ensuing chaos it may cause.

“If you can get me out of here and back to Phandalin, I’ll give you all of my gold,” the dwarf offered.  The party thought about it and Mew suggested, “Aren’t we going back to Phandalin anyway?”

Mew suggested closing the entrance to the Underdark (been there, done that, no thank you was her general sentiment). Everyone worked together to seal it as best they could. Then they returned to the room with the dwarf, barricaded the door, and took a long rest. Upon awakening, they explored a few more tunnels, but found the doorway with the five voices behind it.  Rather than risk another battle, they continued to explore.

Therkahn once more tried to quietly convince everyone to kill Drakon so he couldn’t tell Halia about the Forge, but everyone persuaded them otherwise–even Mew, which seemed odd.

**PAUSED** 

Game resumed 10/22/17

Everyone decided to further explore the caverns. Therkan took the rear, mumbling about the corrupt Lord’s Alliance and needing to seal the cave.  They skipped the room which housed the voices of the supposed-Red Brands and continued their endeavors of exploration.  They ventured into a cavern and Mew and Eru could make out in the dimness a pool of water.  Eru cast Detect Magic and an aura emanated from the depths of the water.  She dove in and found a skeleton in tattered wizard’s robes with a wand.  *yoink*  She grabbed the wand, surfaced for some air, and swam back down to investigate further, finding two platinum rings on the bony fingers.  She slid those on her fingers.  She told her party mates about the wand, but not the rings.  And pocketed the wand for herself.

Continuing to explore the passages, they bumped into several dead ends and ended up back in familiar caverns.  Eventually, they found a door they hadn’t entered.  Mew investigated and heard movement from behind the door, but wasn’t sure what produced the sounds.  Bartholomew wanted to charge right in, and Therkahn cast Bless on themself, Mew, and Bartholomew.  Mew opened the door.  Old stone bunks lined the walls and dwarven skeletons littered the floor.  Three ghouls rose from gnawing on the bones and stared up at the intruders.

Aria cast Witch bolt, striking a ghoul.  Two ghouls ran up and attacked Bartholomew, striking him with its claws but missed it’s second swipe completely as Bartholomew dodged.  The second ghoul charged and attacked Aria and dug its claws into her arm and turned her gouged flesh blue.  The third ghoul struck Bartholomew with its claws – he felt the icy sting of the attack, but it didn’t phase him.

Eru cast Hold Person on the ghoul and as the chains wrapped around its torso it tensed and slashed free from the bonds.  Mew wielded her crossbow, releasing a bolt firmly into a ghoul.  Therkan high-fived Drakon and said, “I got this!” and she whispered *luminous*, activating Lightbringer.  She charged into the fray, cast Guiding Bolt at one of the ghouls.  A sphere of light punctured his chest, filled him with light, and he fell dead.

Morgana ran into the room and cast Poison Spray as she yelled “duck!” to all nearby.  Therkan just stood there as she was resistant to poisons.  A green cloud enveloped the ghoul but it had no effect. Bartholomew moved closer, drew his sword and gashed a ghoul from one shoulder to the other.  Not yet finished, he slapped the ghoul across the face; it glared at him.  Aria stepped back into the doorway as Drakon stepped forward and slashed a ghoul across the torso.  Eru cast firebolt, but it fizzled a small flame that simply illuminated the room for a moment.  Mew let loose another bolt and it sunk deeply into a ghoul’s eye…it fell forward, dead.

Therkan swung Lightbringer at a ghoul, but it stepped backward, afraid, and she missed.  She taunted it and poked Lightbringer at it.  Morgana unfurled Thornwhip, gashing across the ghoul’s torso.  She followed through with her dagger, but it glanced off of its skin.  Bartholomew instantly stepped up and shoves a dagger beneath the ghoul’s chin, straight up through the skull.  He pulled his blade free and it slunk to the ground, dead.

Therkahn and Mew immediately dashed around the room and looted all that they could find: a greater potion of healing, old copper and silver coins, and a knapsack.  Mew grumbled at Therkan’s selfishness and she took the coins.  Since Mew doesn’t like using potions, she let Therkahn have it.  After studying the coins for a moment, Therkahn realized they very, very old from the Nethriel civilization.  And Eru finally learned that her recently-acquired wand was the Wand of Magic Missile.  Everyone rested.

Eru and Mew struck a bargain:  Eru would teach Mew her secret ciphers and Mew may (at the end of the lessons) give Eru Glasstaff’s staff as payment.

Once rested, the adventurers continued their exploration.  They eventually found themselves at the cave where Eldran previously disappeared and screamed out from the darkness.  Everyone encouraged Morgana to morph into a creature to go scout.  She chose a Varghouille and everyone cringed as her fatty human-headed-creature flew into the darkness, blowing kisses back at them.  Upon her return, she told her friends that she had found the bloated corpse of Eldran and heard strange sounds from above – a large swarm of stirges.

“Fish?!?” Mew and Eru asked simultaneously.

“Stirges; not sturgeons,” Morgana corrected as she rolled her eyes.

They’d not run into stirges before but knew there were “a lot of them” waiting ahead.  A plan was hatched:  Therkan blessed herself, Eru, and Morgana.  Eru would strike first and Morgana would act as back-up.  Eru ran into the cave and cast Thunderwave, blasting a force in all directions.  Eight stirges fell from the ceiling, dead.  Strange sounds from above could be heard faintly and as Eru looked up, the two remaining stirges realized what just happened and also fell dead.

“C’mon in you guys!” Eru yelled from the darkness.

Mew searched the cavern but found nothing but bones and broken lanterns.  They continued their trek through the winding halls of the cavern.  They found an old storeroom with dusty scales, log books, and a locked chest.  Mew offered to pick the lock, but Therkan grumbled that Mew would just take all that she found.  Mew picked the lock anyway *click* and it opened easily.  Inside was 60 GP, 90 EP, 180 SP, and 600 CP.  Mew immediately stole 30 GP and split the rest: 5 GP & 15 EP to each person plus 180 SP to the kitty.  While adjusting their new coin, Mew, Therkahn, and Eru reminisced on Jimbo’s Band and had a “where are they now” moment.  Bartholomew took the smallest scale from the shelves.  And their adventure continued.

Next, they found a doorway down yet another hallway.  Morgana listened but heard nothing so Eru tried to open the door.  She received one hell of an electric shock.  Mew studied the door and scratched out a rune, disarming the trap and unlocking the door.  Inside, a single skeleton rested against the opposite wall, wearing Elven boots and clutching sword.  Mew took the boots.  She also found a small pouch with 2 gemstones and 10 GP.

Therkahn yelled from the doorway, “Hey, what’d you find in there?”

Mew replied, “10 GP!!”

Everyone stepped into the room.  Morgana examined the skull and pried a gold tooth from its jaw.  Bartholomew snagged an Elven femur.  Eru took the sword, which glowed with a faint magical aura that only she could see.  Morgana also took the leather armor.  Mew stuffed the 10 GP into the kitty.

Bartholomew took his hairy zombie head out of his pack and fastened it to the femur in a disgusting makeshift staff.  Morgana was mortified by the abomination, so he detached the head, shoved it back onto his belt, and fastened a crystal to the top of the staff.  “It glows in the moonlight,” he chimed.

More exploring!!  They found a room with empty barrels and a door.  Eru listened at the door, heard nothing, but was a little timid of possible traps.  Bartholomew stepped forward and opened the door and he entered unscathed.  More empty barrels.  Naturally, Bartholomew drummed on the tops of the kegs with his staff.  Therkahn unknowingly began to bob around to the rhythm.  And they thought once more of Jimbo’s Band.

Satisfied that they had explored 99% of the cavern, they decide to find their way out and head back to Phandalin (much to the happiness of their new dwarven companion).  They all stepped out into the bright light, taking a while to adjust to the sunlight, made their way down the mountainside and were excited to see their horses were still in good spirits and well.  They rode back to Phandalin and make their first very important stop: ALE at the Stone Hill Inn!

The tavern seemed more joyous than when they first left.  Mew pulled out Glasstaff’s staff, struck it on the ground, and announced, “We have vanquished Glasstaff!!”  The bar flies looked around confused.  “The Red Brands are disbanded!“ and the tavern erupted in cheers.  A tankard of ale was purchased for each of the party members – FREE BOOZE!

They looked around for Jimbo’s Band, but alas, they were not in the tavern.

About an hour later of sitting, drinking, and good ol’ relaxation, a woman approached Therkahn.  It was the woman they had rescued from the Red Brand prison.  They handed Therkahn a small sack containing 20 CP and 3 GP.  Therkan refused the gift, insisting the woman keep it.  “You deserve it,” they said.  Mew pulled 20 SP out of the kitty and also gave it to the woman.  Bartholomew reached over and high-fived Mew.

The woman, now in tears, told the tale of Thundertree, where she used to live with her father – before the eruption of a nearby volcano.  Her father kept a chest there with jewels, but she feared it was buried beneath ash and lava.  “If you find it,” she said, “it’s yours.”  Therkhan drank some ale and grumbled, “The blood of our enemies satiates our hunger far better than…” and the rest was muffled by her next sip of ale.

Lost in thought of the Drider, Mew reached out, tapped Bartholomew with the edge of her Spider Staff, and grinned as Bartholomew’s tankard stuck to his hand by little spider barbs.  The return of Spider Barry!  Bartholomew looked at his palm, looked at Mew, back at his hand, and started climbing the walls.  Mew, Eru, Therkahn, and Morgana all bust out singing their new Spider Barry song.  An hour went by with Spider Barry all over the walls and ceiling, and suddenly ale started spilling from the ceiling.  Everyone looked up to see a passed out Bartholomew, hanging from the ceiling, oddly clutching his ale…and as the spell faded, he crashed down onto a table.

At midnight, a ruckus of banging pots and pans and poor singing emanated from the street outside! Jimbo’s Band had returned!!!  They had been permanently banned from assembling and playing INSIDE Stone Hill Inn, but they skirted their banishment by entertaining the masses in the streets outside the Inn’s windows.  Eru bought a round of ale for each member, enjoying their “music” until they moved on.

Rest.  Much needed sleep.  And in the morning? Everyone suffered from lovely hangovers. Undeterred, Mew sought out the dwarf they had rescued in the mines and demanded payment.

“Give me one minute,” he said, as he headed down a street.  Not trusting him, Morgana and Mew followed him stealthily from behind, but not that stealthily.  As he began to dig a hole at a small farm, he shouted into the distance, “I know you’re there…just come out!”  He retrieved a sack from the ground and threw it at Morgana.  75 GP (12GP each, plus 3 to the Kitty).

As they said their goodbyes, Therkhan stressed to the dwarf to NOT use the Forge of Spells.  He stated that he had planned on taking several friends and refurbishing the Forge, to bring a lot of good income and jobs to his people.  Without blinking, Mew shanked him, stabbing him in the gut.

“Alright *groan* I’ll just go back to Neverwinter,” and he hobbled off.

With full bellies of delicious breakfast (Bartholomew pocketed extra bread and cheese), everyone wandered off to Halia’s house to collect their payment.  While on their way, a halfling orc met them in the streets and pulled Drakon aside.  Eru eavesdropped and learned that Drakon’s people were under attack by a roving Goliath tribe.  Drakon ran up to everyone, rubbed at an old key he wore around his neck, and simply stated, “Um, I have to go,” and left them.

Once at Halia’s house, everyone received 50 GP each.  Eru asked Halia if she would teach her the scrying spell that she had used previously.  “You’re not ready for that…” but brought out a worn scroll.  She handed it to Eru, “Try this,” and Eru was able to successfully cast Blur.  Satisfied, Halia took Eru’s spell book and magically transcribed the spell within its pages.  Once finished, she looked up and said, “You now owe me one favor.”  Eru’s breakfast flipped within her stomach…Fuck!

Bartholomew asked Halia if she would teach him something.  Halia laughed, “You can’t handle it.”  She dismissed everyone from her house except for Mew and Aria.

“The Members of Zhentarim would like to promote you for your services.  You are now Fang, but know that with this title if called upon, you must respond without question.  Expect our call.”  With that, Mew and Aria joined the rest of the party, keeping the secret between themselves.

Mew tracked down Sildar and shared the news of Glasstaff’s death, the fact that he was running the Red Brands, AND the corruption of the Lord’s Alliance.  Therkahn and Sildar discussed their concerns.  Sildar had had other plans to help the Village of Longsaddle from a monster-problem, but instead understood his presence was needed in Neverwinter to look deeper the corruption of the Lord’s Alliance. He looked at the party and asked if THEY would go to Longsaddle to deal with the monster. They thought about it…and went shopping instead.

They each purchased enough food for the week.  Eru purchased ink and pen.  Mew bought ball bearings and five sheets of paper (she would borrow Eru’s ink and pen, if needed).  Morgana bought a sprig of mistletoe and two sheets of parchment, giving one to Eru (with the premise of sharing ink and pen).  Bartholomew purchased fishing tackle, a vial of acid, three oil flasks, pen and ink, seven sheets of parchment, an Amulet of Torm, an Amulet of Tyr, and an Amulet of Ilmater.

Therkahn removed their chainmail for the first time in front of the group, revealing a curious blue vest with 100 tiny pockets.

Eru twirled her rat pentacle pendant mindlessly between her fingers.

Morgana thought of playing her set of bone pipes, but changed her mind.  Aria almost brought out her fragment of sheet music to have her play on the pipes, but kept it tucked away in her pocket.

Mew thought of her secret alabaster mask she kept hidden away in her bag…wondered if she would ever tell her party mates about it…and decided against it.

Bartholomew shifted all of his gear in his bag, including an ancient Elven arrow he always carried with him, to accommodate his new purchases.

Everyone discussed what to do next:

1. Clear out the undead that were ruining the lives of Prospectors around the Old Owl Well;
2. Find the Ghost of Agatha near the ruins of Coynberry in the hopes of hunting down a mysterious spellbook for Sister Garaele;
3. Searching for the abandoned chest of jewels in Thundertree; or
4. Defeat the monster which was terrorizing the Village of Longsaddle.

They poured over the local maps and tried to plot a course, but…no decision was reached.

**PAUSE**
Game resumed 11/19/17
Therkahn bought a map of the area.  They had yet to locate and rescue Gundren Rockseeker.  And they thought about locating the chest of jewels beneath the volcanic ash of Thundertree, but there were rumors of a young green dragon…they backed away from that idea.

They decided to tackle the undead at the Old Owl Well, but instead of taking the road, they opted to trailblaze.  They traveled all day, an uneventful journey, and decided to set up camp for the night.  Morgana searched around for any signs of foes and found orc tracks. They weren’t too fresh and the tracks continued onward.  They decided it was safe and Eru took the first watch, a small fire crackling in the crescent moonlight.  Everyone, but Mew, spread their bedrolls along the fire.  Mew climbed up the nearest tree to nestle down for the night.

About two and one half hours into the night, Eru saw five shadowy figures emerge from the tree line, slowly moving in.  She was just able to make out the pointed ears of goblins.

“Can I help you?” she called out.

Two of the goblins talked amongst themselves and as Eru stood there hoping for some sort of civility, an arrow sunk deeply into her shoulder.  She cried out, waking Mew.  Mew loaded her crossbow from her perch and let loose a bolt, which struck a goblin in his thigh.  The sounds of combat woke everyone else (except Aria, who snored loudly by the fire).

One of the goblins charged at Eru, struck her with his scimitar, and retreated into the shadows.  Another goblin flanked around the side of the encampment, shot and struck Bartholomew with an arrow, and hid in the darkness.  Eru ran into the group of clustered goblins and cast Thunderwave, but only one fell to the ground, dead, in the burst of energy.

Therkahn stomped through the dying fire, scattering embers, and shot her crossbow.  A bolt whizzed passed Eru, but missed the goblins.  She whispered “Luminous” and their mace began to glow.

Bartholomew searched for the hidden goblin who had flanked their camp, but couldn’t find him.  He took out his staff with the moon crystal and tossed his hairy skull on top of it.  The crystal’s glow emanated from the skull’s sockets, and he shouted, “I know you’re out there! You cannot hide from the glowing skull!!!!”  He then wrapped a bit of torn Red Brand cloak around an arrow and dipped it in some oil and brushed it up against the embers as he advanced into the shadows.  The arrow ignited.

Morgana yelled at Eru, “Be prepared!” as she cast Entangled.  Vines sprouted from the earth, entangling two of the three goblins.  Eru dodged the vines, all thanks to Morgana’s warning.

One of the entangled goblin’s struck at Eru, but missed.  She pointed and laughed at the creature.  One of the remaining free goblins shot an arrow at Therkahn, missed, and hid deep within the tree line.  Mew, still in her tree, cast Faerie Fire on the goblin that Bartholomew was stalking–it lit up in a violet light.  Mew whispered among the leaves, “Go get him, Bartholomew….”

Another goblin struck Eru hard, but she remained standing.  The violet goblin ran away into the forest and his little purple blob of light bounced among the tree trunks.  “CHICKEN!!!” Morgana yelled after him.

Eru grabbed the goblin that last struck her with her Shocking Grasp and killed him instantly.  Therkahn asked Morgana which one she wanted; Morgana pointed, and Therkahn went for the other one.  They swung with their mace, but missed.  Bartholomew ran deeper into the forest, chasing the violet-lit chicken-goblin.  He yelled, “Take that, you scoundrel!” and let loose his flaming arrow–it sunk into the back of the goblin’s neck as he ran; his clothes ignited and he fell to the ground in a heap of violet light and flames.

Morgana ran after the last hidden goblin and cast Poison Spray into the shadows; the goblin began to cough and fell dead, blood pooled from its mouth.  Mew fired her crossbow at the last goblin, but the bolt landed firmly into the ground at his feet.  He threw up his hands and surrendered!!  Therkahn reached over, smacked him up the backside of his head, and demanded to know what their intentions were.

“We just wanted gold…and a hostage to ransom.  We are traveling from up North.”

Morgana settled in to interrogate him.  Eru, wounded and sore, crawled into her bedroll to nap.

Morgana learned of an orc encampment about a day and a half east of their location.

Therkahn grabbed the goblin by the scruff, “What’s your name?!?”

He nearly yelped, “Scrum…they call me Scrum!”  He continued to tell the party about their camp up north in Cragmaw Castle.  Mew recognized that name, but couldn’t place it.  She swore beneath her breath and woke up Eru and filled her in.  Eru’s eyes lit up.

“Do you know Gundren Rockseeker?” she asked Scrum.

“We don’t interact with the prisoners,” he seethed.

“Well then, describe the prisoners,” Mew demanded.

“Well,” Scrum began, “There’s a human, a hairy human, and a tall human.”

“Am…am I a hairy human?” Therkahn asked.

“Yes.”

“Who is your king,” she asked.

“King Grol.”

“Who?”

“Grol.  He is a Bugbear who killed our previous leader.  We all follow Grol. He’s big and scary.…”

Therkahn tied Scrum up to a tree and they discussed what they had learned.  Everyone agreed that Gundren may very well be the “hairy human” at Cragmaw Castle.  And an elf may be considered the “tall human.”  They all rested while Mew took the second watch.

The rest of the evening was uneventful and everyone awoke, had some breakfast, and decided to continue east to the Old Owl Well.  Then they’d head north to Agatha’s ghost, and only once that’d been completed continue north toward Cragmaw Castle to free Gundren.  They bribed Scrum with food and ale to try to convince him to join their crew.

“Your King is mean to you, and your friends didn’t treat you nice,” Therkahn said, giving Scrum another tankard of ale.

“I’ll…I’ll think about it,” he said, as he gulped more beautiful nectar.

They tied Scrum to Therkahn’s back, tankard in his hand, and began their journey.  Scrum reminded them about the orc camp, and the party skirted the direction of the orcs, continuing east to the well.  They traveled through the night, charged with energy and a second wind…all but Aria, who snored contently strapped to the back of her horse.

They came upon the ruins of an old watchtower.  A large, colorful tent was erected in the clearing, and a horde of zombies slowly worked their way among the ruins, oblivious to the party lurking in the shadows.  Mew stealthed ahead and peeked into the tent: a man lay sleeping while two lumbering undead wandered the interior perimeter of the tent, watchful.  Leaving the tent’s entrance, she counted 10-12 zombies around the ruins.  He returned to her party and shared the news.  A plan developed.

Therkahn and Morgana positioned themselves close to the camp.  Mew, Eru, and Bartholomew headed toward the tent.  Aria remained quietly snoring on the horse’s back.  Scrum was firmly lashed to Therkahn’s back, passed out in an ale-induced coma.

At the opening of the tent, Mew looked at Bartholomew…he grinned at Mew with a twinkle in his eye– and Mew gently tapped him with his Spider Staff.  *POOF* Bartholomew grew spider barbs.  Grinning wildly, he quietly climbed up the interior walls of the tent.  Mew and Eru slipped inside, undetected as well.

Morgana and Therkan went to work.  Morgana summoned a glowing orb and caught the attention of the small horde of working zombies.  They all turned to look.  Therkahn cast Turn Undead, and immediately all but two of the zombies turned and fled into the nearby woods, eager to escape her holy light.  Mew woke the sleeping man as Eru immediately tried to Charm him…but she failed.  The man, confused, but awake, was about to speak, but then Mew struck him upside the head with her crossbow.  Dazed by the blow, he muttered a quick word and disappeared from sight.

Therkahn and Morgana suddenly saw a strange man appear beside them, turn, and run.  Bartholomew sliced a hole in the tent’s wall, crawled outside, and shot an arrow at the fleeing man, but missed.

The man stopped, turned, and yelled, “Why are you doing this?!?”

“Why are you controlling all these zombies, you dick?” Bartholomew yelled back.

Therkahn cast Guiding Bolt at the stranger, but it struck nearby.

He winced, “I’m–I’m doing research.”

Mew charged from the tent and ran into the man.  “If you call your zombies off of us, we won’t kill you.”

“Fine.  Fine!” he quickly relented.  The zombies that were advancing toward the party immediately just stopped.  Although the fleeing zombies continued to run into the darkness.

Bartholomew walked up, “Sorry for calling you a dick.…”

Eru exited the tent and walked up.  She immediately noticed a sigil on the man’s forehead that represented the School of Necromancy–a mage of the undead.  He was tan and wore a deep red robe.  She grumbled under her breath.  Necromancer…

“What are you doing with the undead,” she asked.

“What’s your name,” Therkahn countered.

“My name is Hamun Kost.  I’m searching for artifacts of an arch mage.”

“Well, you were scaring people away,” Therkahn grumbled.

“I–I didn’t want to harm anyone,” he said.  He continued to explain that he was searching for an ancient magical tome.  Eru’s ears twitched.

“If we help you find this tome,” she said, “May I–may I read it?”

He thought about it.  “Very well.  If you help me retrieve the tome, you may read it for one day.”

Eru turned to the rest of her party, excited at the prospect of getting her hands on magic.  Bartholomew was okay with the idea.  Therkahn, however, was strongly opposed to working with the undead and a necromancer, who must be evil and must be killed.  Mew was on the fence, eager at the idea of dispatching this man, but torn by Eru’s excitement.  She relented and agreed to help.

Hamun stated that the ruins here held arcane markings and the undead were helping extract the rocks into two piles: arcane and not.

Eru used her Detect Magic ritual to help speed up the process.  She, Bartholomew, and Morgana began to help as certain stones glowed with an arcane aura.  Eru shouted to Morgana and Bartholomew to get that stone, and that one, and that one.  Undead zombies helped excavate the stones.  Mew and Therkahn grumbled in the corner, flanking Hamun and occasionally distracting him with banter.  About an hour passed and Hamun finally said, “This will be enough for now.”

He mumbled something beneath his breath and the pile of arcane stones began to shift.  They formed a phrase in ruins, which Hamun translated, “Arthindol.  I’ve run across this name in my research.”

“Where’s the tome?” Eru nearly screeched.  She really, really, really wanted to learn more magic.

“There is nothing else here.  I must go to Neverwinter to continue my research.”

“But…but…but…,” she pouted.

“I will share with you what I find later, if you are able to locate me in Neverwinter,” Hamun reassured her.  Therkahn again boiled quietly in the shadows.

Bartholomew stepped forward, “Hamun, I have this hairy zombie head,” and he patted the head on his belt, “Can you make him alive so we can talk?”

Hamun shook his head, “It would only be for a short time.  The magic is temporary.”

“Oh, nevermind…” Bartholomew sadly backed away.

Therkahn stepped forward, “We helped you, you found what you needed.  I demand you lay these undead souls to rest!!!”

“That was my intention,” Hamun said, as he waved his hands and the zombies slowly returned to rest.  He bid his farewell, retrieved some items from this tent, and rode off into the night.

Therkahn was livid that no one agreed to kill the necromancer. Mew was miffed that she neglected to loot the tent and steal Hamun’s bag–she was still on the fence about killing him.

Everyone reconvened inside the tent.  Mew looted some writing supplies and rations.  Eru took an extra, spare, deeply-colored red robe.  Therkahn wrote a letter by candlelight to later send to the Lord’s Alliance about her concerns of their corruption and infiltration.

Everyone decided to rest for the night inside the comfort of the tent.

*PAUSED*
**Game Resumed 12/17/17**
Everyone awoke in the tent in the morning after a restful sleep. Bartholomew cooked breakfast for all; Scrum received an improvised bloody mary. It was a foggy morning and they began their journey; the fog lifting as the sun rose higher. They headed north toward Conyberry.

On their walk, Scrum began to get grumbly and lippy with the crew and Bartholomew taught him the SpiderBarry song…which Scrum then sang for the next 2.5 hours straight.

Once at Conyberry, they investigated the ruins, finding nothing but an old decrepit windmill. Morgana went around to the back of the mill while Mew and Eru checked out the inside. Mew didn’t find anything among the rubble, but did discover that the windmill was barely standing. She instructed Eru to be very careful leaning up against certain walls. Everyone stepped inside while Eru performed the Detect Magic ritual. Ten minutes later, a stone began to glow in the wall. Terrified of the fragile walls, Eru asked Mew to jiggle it free. Mew successfully withdrew the stone without damaging the rest of the structure’s integrity and within the small cavity was a potion vial containing a translucent liquid with a very large and nasty fingernail inside. Eru recognized it as a Potion of Hill Giant Strength. Since nobody immediately wanted the potion, it was decided to keep for the party’s use later. Bartholomew patted his belt to find the Kitty.

“Who’s got the Kitty? I thought I had it.” he panicked. He opened his own purse and Morgana once more spied the large amount of coin within. “Bartholomew, where did you — “ she said, but was interrupted.

“I have it,” Mew replied, opened the Kitty pouch and tossed the potion in.

Finding nothing else of importance in Conyberry, they continued north to try to find the ruins where Agatha was reported to be. Entering the thick forest, Mew took the lead and whacked her way through the overgrowth. She led everyone safely along her trail until they reached the old grove that Sister Garaele had told them about; they knew they were on the right path. The trail led them deeper into the forest until they found an old ruined, overgrown village. Mew searched for any Thieve’s Camp Symbols, but didn’t find any. Morgana sensed that even the animals avoided this place. The trees and roots had overtaken most of the structures and toward the end of the village was an old broken down house. It had to be Agatha’s.

Mew stepped forward, but Eru stopped her and handed her the silver comb she received from the Sister. “Remember…remember we’re here for a spellbook,” Eru eagerly told Mew. As Mew approached the house a cold, thick fog began to roll in obscuring everyone’s vision within 10’. Morgana attempted to use her druid craft to blow the fog away, but it didn’t work. Mew disappeared into the dense haze. Everyone else stayed clustered together, waiting for Mew to return. Once at the door, Mew whispered “Love is a burning thing…” and cast Faerie Fire and immediately the glowing green form of a woman in a tattered nightgown appeared before her, appearing angry at the disturbance.

“What do you want? Why are you here?” it asked of Mew.

“We were told you may be missing a comb.” Mew pulled out the silver comb, clutching it close to her chest.

The anger softened a bit from Agatha’s face as she saw the comb, a flicker of recognition behind her eyes. “Where did you find this? I haven’t seen it in so very long.”

“It was given to me to give back to you.” Mew replied.

“THAT…that is my comb.” Agatha nearly demanded.

“How did it disappear?” Mew asked.

“I don’t know. I was killed here so long ago. Leave the comb, and this place. I am skilled in Divination and I will answer you one question.”

“One of my friends really, really loves spells and we hear you may have a spellbook,” Mew said.

“Is that your question? You can ask but one question.” Agatha reminded her.

“No…” Mew thought. She glanced behind her, seeing only fog. Nobody else could hear her…she turned back toward Agatha and nearly whispered, “There’s this Goddess, Lolth. Am I ever going to see her again?”

“Do you want that answer now?” Agatha chided.

“Yes…”

Agatha’s eyes began to glow a bright blue and she laughed, “Your path will definitely cross with Lolth.”

“Fuck!” Mew mumbled, “Okay.”

Agatha continued, “She sends her minions toward you as we speak…” Her eyes returned to their translucent state, rimmed in the green haze of the Faerie Fire. She looked at Mew’s chest and the comb disintegrated in mid-air. She turned to re-enter the house. Mew snuck out her crossbow, screamed “Everybody attack the glowing green thing!” and released the bolt. It tore through Agatha’s ethereal boob, creating a small hole, which slowly repaired itself. Agatha turned around, her form changed from a lovely woman into a hideous, terrifying banshee and she howled. She reached for Mew, but Mew dodged, frightened at this new visage before her.

Bartholomew ran ahead into the fog to see what was happening, got within 10’ of the encounter, and stopped to watch. Morgana transformed into a sprite and hovered forward and turned invisible. Bartholomew saw a sprite emerge from the fog, then disappear, “Boy, that was strange,” he mumbled. “I’m here, Bartholomew,” Morgana whispered.

Bartholomew then looked at Agatha and loudly yelled, “Agatha! I really like your books,” and threw a tibia at her. It launched through her head, but landed gently behind her. Mew brought out her Talon longsword, which fully connected and seemed to hurt Agatha. Mew yelled, “Attack her with magic!!” and she ran into the fog. Eru ran forward and cast Charm Person, but it had no effect. Aria joined everyone and cast Blade Ward. Agatha wailed again and caused psychic pain to everyone.

Morgana cast Moonbeam around Agatha, which engulfed her in brilliant moonlight. Morgana then stepped back into the fog. Bartholomew moved around and behind Agatha, downed a random potion from his sack, and suddenly began to speak in song. “I’m going to staaaaand baaaack here….” he sang.

Mew moved forward out of the fog, armed another bolt, and it slid through Agatha’s form. At the sight of the moonlight, Eru dropped to her knees at the glory, pulled out her Wand of Magic Missile, and fired, each dart finding purchase in the ghost.

Agatha began to wail at the pain the moonbeam caused her, and she floated out of it, directly in front of the kneeling Eru. As Eru looked up at the terrifying face, Agatha touched her, causing pain. Too frightened to move, Eru just knelt there. Aria cast Eldritch Blast, but the moonbeam absorbed the ray. Morgana guided the moonbeam back over Agatha, just avoiding Eru’s form. Bartholomew searched for the missing tibia while he sang beneath his breath, “Tibia, tibia, tibiaaaa.” He found it, put it away, pulled out his three amulets and his prayer beats and put them atop his staff. And waited.

Mew ran forward out of the fog once more, pulled out her crossbow, and hit Agatha in the neck. The bolt continued through her form. Eru stood and ran back toward Mew. Aria again cast Eldritch Blast, but once more it fizzled out in the moonlight. Agatha once more cried out as the moonbeam began to melt away her form. It flew toward Aria, but Aria dodged the ghostly hand. Morgana once more pinned the moonbeam atop Agatha. Bartholomew laid out his Redbrand cloak on the ground and prepared his card tricks. Mew loaded her crossbow, ran forward, fired, and the bolt infused with the power of the moonbeam, embedded itself in Agatha’s form. She wailed and dissipated into the air. The cold, dense fog lifted. They had won! Everyone gathered where Agatha had once been. Mew scrambled to find the silver comb with the promise of braiding Eru’s hair later, but alas, the comb crumbled into ash. Morgana cast Cure Wounds on everyone.

They advanced toward Agatha’s house in search of loot…and a spellbook. Mew checked for traps and found none; they entered. There was nothing. The house was empty, overgrown with roots, returned to the forest. Eru once more prepared the Detect Magic ritual, but nothing emanated a magical hue.

Saddened, she looked at Mew, “Did Agatha tell you where the spellbook was?”

“No. She didn’t say anything about the spellbook,” Mew replied. Eru sighed…

“You trust what Mew says?” Morgana questioned, doubting Mew.

“Absolutely!!” Eru defensively replied.

Aria and Eru woke Scrum and asked if he knew how to get to Cragmaw Castle from there. He looked around, blinked, looked some more. “Dunno where I am,” he replied. Aria continued to ask questions and learned that Scrum knew the way from Phandalin, knew they had to walk through the forest, and knew there was a river near the forest. That’s all he knew.

They unfurled Therkahn’s map. Eru and Mew wanted to walk through the forest to Thundertree and head north from there. Morgana convinced them how incredibly dangerous traipsing through the forest could be and they made the long walk back to Conyberry. Mew led the way through the forest, Bartholomew sang-talked until suddenly, mid-song, his voice returned to its normal cadence. He looked a little sad about that…

They set up camp inside the old windmill and Aria cast Alarm around their perimeter. Mew took first watch and they slept without incident.

The next day, along the road traveling west back toward Phandalin, they came across a traveling merchant caravan of tinkering gnomes. These gnomes hailed from Neverwinter and specialized in selling exotic fruits and fruit-apparatus, such as their prized Automatic Banana Peeler. Morgana asked of Neverwinter news and they learned that there was some unrest due to the structural changes of the Lord’s Alliance. The unrest had driven out many merchants from Neverwinter and this group was headed toward Triboar to see how they fared.

Aria asked about their favorite contraption they’d made. The merchant smiled and proudly held up the Automatic Banana Peeler. Morgana asked if they had a fruit guillotine; he rummaged through their wagon and pulled out a dagger-like contraption used to slice fruit. “Could you … like cut off a finger with it?” she asked. “Maybe. Would you care to demonstrate,” he asked. Morgana withdrew her finger…and her interest. Mew slyly glanced around to search for the gold storage, but couldn’t find where these gnomes kept their money. Eru pulled out her longsword and traded it for two exotic pieces of fruit.

The gnome began to recant a tale about an old farmer who used to have a water bucket that held endless amounts of water. It never emptied. He didn’t know where this old farmer lived. Eru asked if they’d heard of Cragmaw Castle or knew it’s whereabouts, but no; they’d never heard of it. They said goodbye and went their separate ways.

They continued to push ahead late into the day and Mew and Morgana began to suffer from the effects of exhaustion. A few hours later, they set up camp alongside the road. Again, Aria set the Alarm around the perimeter and the night went without incident. In the morning, Eru asked Scrum if he recognized where they were enough to begin to head north. “Just a little further,” he said. They continued to walk west toward Phandalin. Halfway through the day, they came to the intersection with the road to Phandalin and Scrum stopped them, “From here, we just go north,” and he pointed. “Good Scrum,” Aria patted his goblin head, giving him more alcohol. And they turned northward.

**PAUSED**
**Game Resumed 1/14/18**
The party headed north, leaving the safety of the road and venturing once more toward the forest. Therkahn joined Scrum and drank a lot of ale, burying her woes of the state of the Lord’s Alliance with alcohol and brooding. At about noon, they entered the treeline. Mew skulked in the shadows and Therkahn (with Scrum tied to their back) took the lead. Aria cast Blade Ward and Eldritch Sight on herself prior to entering the forest. And they trudged forward.

Eventually, the forest cleared into a meadow and before them stood the ruined and dilapidated Cragmaw Castle. Eru leaned over and poked Scrum.

“Where are the tall human, hairy human, and short human being held,” she asked.
“*hiccup* The castle,” he replied, “I dunno. Nobody uses the second floor.” He swirled his tankard around.

“Nevermind. You’re annoying me!” she growled.

While still tucked away under the cover of the trees, it was decided that Morgana would do some scouting. Bartholomew practiced his card tricks. She morphed into a giant spider, Therkahn cast Guidance on her, and she made her way unnoticed across the 100’ of meadow to the ruined castle wall entrance. Once she arrived she saw a goblin perched atop a pile of rubble, watching her, crossbow aimed her way. She turned around, pointed her butt up at it, and shot out some butt-web. It landed harmlessly beside him. “This never happened before,” she thought, embarrassed. The goblin let loose a crossbow bolt and it struck her just under her spider-bunghole.

Seeing this, Therkahn army-crawled stealthily across the meadow toward Morgana. Eru kept a watchful eye on her from the treeline. Bartholomew headed toward the main entrance of Cragmaw Castle. Aria headed around the far ruined entrance of the castle. Nobody knew where Mew wandered off to.

Morgana once more shot web out of her butt, this time it entangled the feet of the goblin. Therkahn inched their way closer to the battle.

Bartholomew knocked on the doorway of the castle (the doors themselves were actually rotten and in a pile on the ground).

“Avon calling,” he yelled. He heard shuffling from inside and two goblins peeked curiously around the corner.
“Who are you and what do you want?” they demanded.

“Good evening,” Bartholomew said, “I have a fine collection of goods, jewelry, and potions for sale. Are you interested?” He scanned the room behind the goblins as he spoke.

Aria climbed up the pile of rubble and found an entrance completely collapsed in more rubble, but entered the castle through a gap in the wall. There were scattered barrels of supplies up against the wall. Upon inspection, they were filled with rotting food. It appeared that these supplies were recently accessed and the rotting food was being served to someone. She peeked her head through a doorway.

Eru crawled through the grass to meet up with Therkahn. They both lay, unnoticed by the goblin atop the rubble busy fighting SpiderMorgana.

The goblin broke free from the web securing his legs and feet. SpiderMorgana rushed up the rubble and could see through a doorway that there were two sleeping goblins in an adjacent room. She attempted to bite the goblin that shot her, but he knocked her aside with his crossbow. He yelled over to the two sleeping goblins to rouse them, drew his sword and swung at Morgana, but he missed.

Therkahn loaded their crossbow. Just as they pulled the trigger, drunken Scrum wiggled on her back and skewed their shot. The bolt wildly missed its target. Therkahn whacked Scrum upside the head with their crossbow, and continued to move toward the castle.

Morgana looked to her right and inside the castle saw a dining area filled with goblins, all devouring bowls of rotten food. One very rotund goblin was walking around, filling bowls with gruel.

Eru cast firebolt at the goblin swinging at Morgana. The flames whooshed passed Therkhan and Scrum’s heads, and burnt through the neck of the goblin. His decapitated head rolled down the rubble pile and rested in the grass.
“What do you have for sale,” the goblins asked Bartholomew.

“Oh, fine potions,” he said as he pulled out a “highlighter orange” color potion from his bag. “This potion is proven to erase fine lines, wrinkles, and those pesky undereye bags! Plus it’ll pick you up.”

The two goblins conversed amongst themselves. “Alright,” one said, “We got three fishbones.”

“For three fishbones, I’ve got a better potion! This clear potion lowers blood pressure and gives you strength in battle,” Bartholomew chimed. Goblin eyes lit up at the idea. One handed Bartholomew the three fishbones and took the potion from his hand, downing it.

Aria found herself in a hallway with a curtain at the end. She quietly peeked behind the curtain and saw a small room where two hobgoblins peered out through arrow slits in the wall. There was a door on the other side of the room.

Morgana saw that the two sleeping goblins had begun to stir awake. She reverted back to her human form and cast Flaming Sphere above one of the goblins. It erupted in flame and screamed awake. The flames licked at the second goblin, who was now also awake and screaming. Both goblins were burned but alive and getting ready to attack.

Therkahn moved up the pile of rubble and noticed that the dining hall full of goblins had begun to turn their attention toward the screaming crispy goblins. Therkahn used thaumaturgy to throw open a door on the opposite side of the dining hall. Each goblin in the dining hall turned to look at the now-open door.

Eru grabbed the head of the goblin at the bottom of the rubble pile and climbed her way up to Morgana’s side.

The goblin that drunk Bartholomew’s clear potion began to scream out in pain as acid burned his mouth, throat, and stomach.

“Well, that’s not right,” Bartholomew said. “That’s not what supposed to happen.”

The second goblin danced frantically around, “What are we supposed to do???”

“Here, give him this,” and hands him a vial of water. The goblin pours the water down AcidThroat’s throat, causing more agony. “Now what,” the goblin frantically cried out to Bartholomew.

Bartholomew handed him an orange potion, “Here. Drink this potion to help him.”
The goblin reached out, popped the cork, and drank the potion without question. Bartholomew noticed that he suddenly did seem healthier and his wrinkles disappeared just a little.

“I feel great,” the goblin screeched, “Do you have another one for him?” He pointed to his friend writhing on the ground.

“Um…no…”

Aria tried to sneak passed the two hobgoblins, but she kicked over a dish on the floor. They turned around and looked at her, blinking. She cast Friends.

“How do you do? My name’s Aria. What’s yours?” she asked. Without waiting for a response, she continued, “I’m a Castle Inspector. There’s an awful lot of rubble here. I need to talk to the Top Goblin.”

They lowered their weapons and looked at each other, talking in hushed tones about needing to check with King Grol about a Castle Inspector.
“Do you know where I can find the King?” she asked.

Morgana kept the sphere above both of the screaming goblins who had previously been sleeping. They burnt to a crisp, screaming until they died. Every goblin in the dining hall turned to look at the commotion. Two of them drew their short swords, ran through the doorway, and charged Morgana. She knocked one away, but was stabbed by the second.

Therkahn cast Bless on the party and moved into the doorway. They whispered “Luminous” and activated Light Bringer. All of the goblins moved toward them, well, almost all. One stayed seated at the corner table eating his bowl of rotten gruel. He grabbed at the now-abandoned bowls of gruel and slid them in front of him, eating a bite from each.

Eru cast Sleep and almost all of the goblins in the dining hall fell into a slumber, including the goblin at the table. His face plopped not-so-gracefully into a bowl of gruel.

The large one with the serving spoon inched his way closer to a door on the opposite side of the fray.

Bartholomew apologized to the frantic goblin, “I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry. But I have more potions for you and your friends.” The goblin patted his pocket and produced 1 fishbone and a bunch of teeth.

“I’ll buy anything to help him,” he gestured toward his injured comrade.
“Why don’t you bring your friends out and they’ll know what to do,” Bartholomew suggested. The goblin disappeared around the corner. Bartholomew followed right behind him.

Aria cast Minor Illusion and boomed in a big goblin voice, “Leave her alone!!” The hobgoblins looked around and moved off toward the booming voice to investigate. As soon as they disappeared behind the curtain, Aria ran across the room and through the doorway. Closing the door behind her, she stood face to face with an owlbear.

Morgana moved the Flaming Sphere over the two goblins that had recently charged her. She swatted one with her thornwhip. Still, both goblins retaliated. Both struck her with their swords, slicing into her abdomen. The Sphere’s heat intensified and consumed one of the goblins, leaving nothing but a pile of ash. The second goblin was singed by the flames.

Therkahn stepped into the dining room of snoring goblins, raised Light Bringer, and smashed it down onto the head of the first goblin they came across. It never woke up. The rotund goblin across the room ran out the door and disappeared around the corner. Therkahn turned around and cast Healing Word on Morgana.

Eru walked into the dining room, gently nudged a goblin awake and cast Charm Person.

“Hi, I’m Eru. What’s your name?”

“I’m Dirt!”

Therkahn mumbled beneath her breath that Eru had forced the friendship. Eru denied it.

“Hey Dirt, we’re friends, right?”

“Yep. We’re great friends!!!” he said as he grabbed two bowls of rotten gruel, handing one to Eru. She pretended to eat a spoonful, looking over at Therkahn. Therkahn mumbled something about killing that goblin…

Bartholomew and the goblin passed through a few doorways and finally entered a room with four hobgoblins. The goblin told the tale of the potion salesman, pointing at Bartholomew, and the suffering goblin back at the entrance. Bartholomew looked at the goblin and huffed, “I shall call you Snitch!!!”

Bartholomew stuck out his hand, “Hi! So good to meet you!! I have fine potions for you today,” and he continued to describe his wares.

The hobgoblins listened to his pitch and decided to send one hobgoblin to go check on Acid-H2O-Throat. Another hobgoblin offered to buy all of the potions for 5 gold pieces.

“Well,” Bartholomew said, “I have these two potions that my clients love. This bright blue one is well worth 5 gold pieces alone, all my clients swear by it, but listen to this: I’ll give you a special deal! I’ll give you the blue potion for 4.50, and throw in this other potion for just 49 cents! That’s two potions for the low, low price of 4.99!” The hobgoblin couldn’t believe his good fortune, and in a matter of seconds the exchange was made. He immediately drank the bright blue potion and started to rub his stomach.

“Ugh. I’m so hungry! I’ll be right back!!,” he growled as he left the room and headed toward the dining hall. The remaining hobgoblins asked about any other potions or magical items Bartholomew may sell.

Aria looked up at the owlbear and guessed he looked a little hungry. She pulled three fish out of her bag and threw them at him. He devoured them. She cast Friend once more…and the owlbear didn’t immediately eat her. She threw another fish at the floor. He slurped it up.

Morgana’s Flaming Sphere continued to torment the one goblin that had attacked her. She pulled out her whip, furling it around the goblin and pulled him close to her. She stuck him in the gut with her dagger and released his limp and dead body. As he fell, she rifled through his pockets and found some smooshy gruel he was saving for later and one copper piece. She pocketed the coin.

A goblin slipped his short sword into Therkahn’s side.  they struck him over the head with Lightbringer, and he plopped dead to the ground. Therkahn turned toward the next sleeping goblin, raising their mace.

Eru reached down and touched a sleeping goblin while she cast Burning Hands. He burnt to a crisp while he slept. A pile of sleeping ash. Dirt looked up from his bowl of gruel and threw Eru a toothy smile and a Thumbs Up before returning to his meal. Eru eagerly returned the thumbs up with two of her own. A hobgoblin walked in through another doorway oblivious to the battle around, sat down at a table, and began ferociously devouring a bowl of gruel.

Bartholomew addressed the two hobgoblins, “I have just one more thing,” and their eyes lit up at the prospect of his wares.

“This powder,” he continued, “helps…um…down there,” and he points to their codpieces. “Today I’ve got a free sample for both of you.” He procured a few dried rations from his pack and sprinkled the powder on the jerky. He turned to look at the goblin in the doorway, “Except you…Snitch. You don’t get any.”
He handed the rations to the hobgoblins who devoured the pieces. A few minutes passed and they both began to vomit. They each took a respective corner in the room and continued to hurl. Gruel-vomit soon became blood-vomit.

Bartholomew turned to Snitch, “Go get your friends and help these guys out!” Snitch turned and ran down the hall. Bartholomew looked around and raided some nearby supplies. He found bloodied and battered chainmail armor, a longsword with an emblem of Neverwinter on its hilt, and a crossbow.

Aria cast Minor Illusion against a nearby wall, making it appear like a gigantic fish. She also threw an extra fish on the ground in front of the wall. The owlbear reared back and charged the wall, mouth agape. It easily smashed through the wall and ended up inside a hallway of the ruined castle. It could see the forest through the rubble and immediately ran out of the castle toward the forest. Aria stepped through the gaping hole in the wall into the hallway, through a door, and found herself in a dining hall full of her friends and sleeping goblins.

Morgana moved the Flaming Sphere over the head of the goblin who had fallen asleep in his bowl of gruel. Bubbles began to form in the gruel, the goblin began to thrash and smoke, and then stillness. No more bubbles. No more goblin.
Therkan lumberjacked a sleeping goblin, smashing him flat and dead. The hobgoblin looked up from eating.

“Dirt,” Eru prodded, “Introduce me to your friend,” and she pointed at the hobgoblin.

“That’s Thortub,” he said, then went back to eating.

Eru cast Suggestion on Thortub, asking him to guide them to the tall human, hairy human, and short human. It didn’t take. He looked at her, then his eyes cascaded around the room and the bloodied and limp bodies. He grabbed a second bowl of gruel and ran out the door. Therkan reached out and thwacked him with Light Bringer. Bones cracked beneath the blow, he screamed out in pain, and lost his grip on a bowl of gruel. It spilled and scattered in the doorway. Thortub ran out the door and made his way back to Bartholomew and his comrades. Upon entering the room with the vomiting hobgoblins he looked at Bartholomew.
“What have you done,” he demanded.

Bartholomew deflected the question, “How’s the diet potion working? You look great!”

“I’m hungry. This is awful!! What did you do to them?”

“I don’t know,” Bartholomew said, scratching his head,” Maybe it was designed for hairy humans.”

“UGH! Just leave with your vile poisons!!”

“Okay.” Bartholomew walked down the hall toward the dining room. He told his friends about the supplies he found. Dirt continued to eat gruel. Therkahn gave him the stink-eye. Eru gave Therkahn the stink-eye. And everyone sat down for a short rest.

**PAUSE**
*Game Resumed February 11, 2018*
Eru asked Dirt if he knew where the prisoners were being held, since Scrum had no clue. He told them they were located in Grol’s chambers, on the northeast side of the Castle. Everyone decided to follow Bartholomew back to the stash of equipment he had found. They found the sacks of meat, along with three bottles of brandy, the longsword, the bloodied chainmail, and the heavy crossbow. Therkahn pocketed the three bottles, Eru took the sword, and Mew took the crossbow and armor.

While they were waiting in the hallway, Eru asked Dirt to teach her some goblin. He proceeded to teach her some of the foulest swear words he knew.

Behind the closed door, they heard the moaning and groaning of what sounded like a very sick hobgoblin. Mew opened the door and peered inside. She saw the hobgoblin hunched over in the corner who continued to vomit despite the interruption. Mew asked if it knew where the prisoners were held, but the bugbear only puked. Eru asked Dirt if he knew his name.

“That’s Gutsnarl!”

Mew walked up and slapped Gutsnarl across the face. “We’re looking for some humans,” he demanded.

“They’re with…,” he hurled again, “…Grol in his chambers with the dark-skinned visitor,” he managed to say before he continued to vomit.

“I’m gonna make you feel better,” Mew insisted.

“That’s what the last guy said…,” Gutsnarl said, before puking again.

Mew pulled out Talon with both hands behind Gutsnarl as he bent over puking and put him out of his misery. She quickly rifled through his possessions and found chainmail armor, shield, longsword, longbow, crimson tunic, and 5 gold pieces. She took the longbow and 4 gold pieces, placing the 5th in the Kitty and left the rest.

Eru sent Dirt through a closed door to check if the coast was clear. He walked through the doorway, then popped his head back out giving two thumbs up. Everyone could hear faint chanting in what sounded like goblin. Mew stealthily poked his head inside the door and saw three goblins praying to a large idol. Therkan and Eru asked Scrum and Dirt if they knew which deity it was to which they replied it was Maglubiyet, their goblin god. Eru swore at Scrum in goblin, and he blinked back at her, a little put off.

Mew took a few minutes to put on her drow disguise, her skin now inky black, covered by his deep red cloak. Therkahn popped the cork on a bottle of brandy and took a swig. Mew stepped into the makeshift temple while Morgana, Eru, and Dirt stood at the ready just outside the doorway.

Two of the goblins noticed Mew step into the room and they elbowed the goblin who had his eyes closed, interrupting his prayers.

“I have an appointment with Grol. Take me to him.” Mew commanded.

The goblins immediately complied, leading her through the room and down a hallway. Eru, Dirt, Morgana, Therkahn (and the bound Scrum) discreetly entered the temple, hiding behind the large alter. Therkahn passed around the bottle to Dirt and Scrum and they noticed the items on the altar. Morgana slipped the bloodied cloth off of the altar and into her pouch, Therkahn pocketed the ornate chalice, and Eru gave the dagger to a grinning Dirt.

Following the three goblins down the hallway, they stopped in front of a closed door and pointed, “He’s there…”

Mew growled, “Well, I deserve an introduction!!”

They cowered and one reached out and hesitantly knocked on the door.

“Who’s there,” a booming voice called from inside.

“Lhupo, Sir. Someone here for you.”

The door swung open and a larger-than-normal bugbear stepped out. He slapped the three goblins aside and into the wall and looked at Mew.

“Did the Spider send you?”

“Yes,” Mew replied. “He wants more goblins and intel.”

Grol sneered, “Wants more goblins? Need more gold!! How many goblins?”

“How many you got?”

He looks at the three up against the wall, “I’ve got these three.”

“The Spider needs more…”

“I have a squadron of goblins out on attack, but they’ll be back.”

“How soon,” Mew asked.

“I dunno,” Grol replied. “They’re back when they’re back.”

They bickered a little bit longer about the timing and the number of goblins needed until Mew finally growled, “No gold ‘til I have the squadron!”

Grol spat under his breath, “Stupid pointy ears! Vyerith,” he called to the doorway, “deal with this!!” And with that, he turned back into his chambers. Out stepped a lithe, blackened female drow elf.

“Who sent you,” she asked of Mew.

“Lolth,” was Mew’s only reply.

“Why would she send you?”

“Lolth is searching for a certain drow. And I will find her. What is your name again?”

“I don’t think that’s important,” Vyerith flatly replied. “There are no other drow here.”

“Show me,” Mew insisted.

Meanwhile, back around the corner down a hallway, Morgana shifted into a tiny lizard and scurried down the hallway after Mew. Eru and Therkahn hatched a plan that involved Dirt.

Vyerith escorted Mew into Grol’s chambers. Mew saw a bloodied and unconscious dwarf in the corner, flanked by two hobgoblins. A direwolf also stood in the room near Grol. There was a closed door nearby.

Dirt sauntered down the hallway and easily convinced the three goblins to follow him back down the hall to the temple.

“As you can see,” Vyerith cooed, “there is no drow here. Why are you really here?”

“What’s behind that door,” Mew asked, pointing.

Undeterred, Vyerith repeated, “Why are you here?”

“Lolth sent me.”

Lizard-Morgana inched closer to the room, just inside the doorway.

“Why does Lolth need goblins,” she asked.

“What’s your name again? Grol,” Mew directed her inquiry to the King, “What is her name?”

Grol shifted his glance to Vyerith, who shot him a stern look. Grol clammed up and didn’t respond.

Eru and Therkahn hid behind respective doorways and as the four goblins passed, Therkahn conjured up an image of what she thought Maglubiyet would look like. Since they weren’t sure, they kept it vague and blurry. Dirt fell to his knees in terror, and two of the other goblins cowered. The third, the one who had led the chanting prayers, stood tall and firm. Eru used her Wand of Magic Missle from behind the brave goblin priest, pierced his chest, and his brown robes darkened with blood. He fell to the ground, dead. The two cowering goblins launched up and ran down the hall. Dirt stayed on his knees.

Lizard-Morgana scurried up Mew’s leg, perched on the backside of her shoulder and neck, and flicked a tongue and a hiss into Mew’s ear. Mew hoping that the unfamiliar critter was, in fact, Morgana, maintained a poker face and didn’t twitch a muscle.

Vyerith continued, “If you don’t wish to purchase any goblins, you should be on your way.”

Mew sighed, “Nice dog, Grol.” Grol replied with a sneer. “Grol, clearly you’re smart. I’ll return when your squadron is back.” And Mew backed out the door into the hallway.

Therkahn attacked one goblin as it ran by her and she sunk her handaxe into its chest. It cried, but did not fall. She swung out at the second goblin as it tried to run past, and it sprawled dead before her. Eru cast firebolt at the first fleeing goblin and dropped his smoldering dead body next to his companions. Mew nonchalantly walked through the doorway, smiling at her friends. “I’m so proud,” she chuckled as she studied the carnage. Eru checked on Dirt, he was shaken but okay.

Mew pulled Eru aside, “Eru…I know you like to make friends. But don’t give your friends weapons,” and she glanced at Dirt’s dagger. Eru shrugged her shoulders.

Eru looted the priest’s body and found one die made of bone with a slight magical aura, a brown robe, and a corded belt. She pocketed the dice and stripped him of his robes. Mew told everyone what transpired in Grol’s chambers, and of the bloodied dwarf she saw. Lizard-Morgana perched on Mew’s shoulder, stood up on two legs and waved a lizard claw at her friends. They formed a plan to smoke out Grol, the drow, and two hobgoblins, hopefully pinching them off one by one in the small confined hallway.

Eru and Therkahn made their way down the hall, through the storage room, and up the ruined outer wall of the castle until they stood in front of the door which they believed to be the second door Mew spotted in Grol’s chamber. Eru stuffed the priest’s robes into the small space beneath the door and waited with firebolt at the ready. Therkahn muttered “Luminous” beneath their breath and activated Lightbringer. Meanwhile, Mew and Morgana (reverted back to human form) stood at the main doorway to Grol’s chambers, having done the same. Mew struck her tinderbox and ignited the cloth. Eru sparked up a bolt. And they both waited for the tinder to smolder and the doors to catch flame. And waited. And waited…

Finally, as the smoke began to build, they heard from the interior of Grol’s chambers, “Do you smell that?” Grol threw open the door to the main hallway, and Mew was at the ready with Talon. She struck him across his abdomen and followed with a dagger across his chest. She disengaged and snuck back into the hallway, through a doorway, leaving Morgana standing there beside Grol. Grol yelled back into the chamber behind him and the two hobgoblins emerged, charging after Mew with longswords drawn. Both struck at her, but both wildly missed.

Hearing the sounds of battle from the interior of the castle, Therkahn tore open the door in front of her and stepped inside the chamber. Seeing the dark-skinned elf before her, she swung Lightbringer down hard on the elf’s shoulder, crushing it. But, the bones shifted and reset before Therkahn’s eyes, a sickening pop and crunch filled the air.

Grol yelled out, “Snarl, dinner time!!” and swung his giant morningstar at Morgana, smashing into her.

Eru, still standing outside the smoldering door cast Blur on herself and waited for an attack.

Morgana noticed that Grol was wearing chainmail armor and cast Heat Metal on the armor. The chainmail began to glow red, then white hot, and Grol screamed out, tearing the chainmail armor off of his body. His helmet began to glow and a furious red glow set in his eyes.

Snarl charged at Therkahn, growling. “Well, hello puppy,” Therkahn cooed just before it bit into their arm, knocking them down to the ground. The drow elf blur and shifted into a human male, and plunged a dagger deep into Therkahn’s gut.

Mew battled the two hobgoblins who attacked her, slicing one across the throat with her shortsword. He fell, dead and gurgling. The second assailant he sliced with a dagger and retreated further into the storeroom behind her.

The freshly-sliced hobgoblin turned its attention to Morgana, striking her down with its longsword. She fell, unconscious. Grol picked her up by the nape of her neck and flung her into his chambers, next to the unconscious dwarf in the corner. Not seeing this, Mew assumed Morgana was still in the hall kicking some major ass.

Therkahn stood up, smashing the direwolf with Lightbringer. “I said ‘Who’s a good boy?!?’” they yelled out as the direwolf yelped in pain.

Seeing this, Grol yelled out to Therkahn as he hefted his morningstar above the prone figure of Morgana, “If you want your friend to survive, come peacefully!” Therkahn responded, “I rather like beating up your puppy” and Grol growled at them from across the room.

Eru cast Crown of Madness on the human before her and was surprised it actually worked as an iron crown formed above his head and his eyes glowed. Snarl struck out at Therkahn and they batted him aside with their shield. The human blurred and took on the form of a dwarf, stabbing Snarl in the side with his blade.

With the distractions, Mew snuck back into the hallway and was surprised that Morgana was nowhere in sight. She struck at the hobgoblin, but missed, and ran back into the storage room. The hobgoblin chased after her and cut her open with his longsword. Grol chased down the hallway to join the frey. He swung his morningstar overhead and smashed it down toward Mew, but he dodged and Grol succeeded in smashing the floor tiles.

Bringing out her Wand of Magic Missile, Eru launched a few magic darts into the dwarf, it swore and screamed. Snarl attacked Therkahn once more, but missed. The shapeshifter reverted back into a drow form and backed further into Grol’s chambers, but not before Therkahn smashed it a bit with Lightbringer. The drow launched into the corner, picked something up off of the body of the bloodied dwarf, and promptly slit the dwarf’s throat before it ran down the hallway. Mew ran from the storeroom back into the hallway and saw the drow running away. She loaded her new heavy crossbow and launched a bolt, striking the drow in the back. It continued to run.

The hobgoblin followed Mew from the storeroom to the hall and charged her with the longsword at the ready, but it tripped over the body of its fallen comrade and fell to the floor, prone. Grol entered the hallway and looked in disgust at the incapable hobgoblin. He struck Mew with his morningstar and knocked her out. She clattered to the floor.

Therkahn stepped through Grol’s doorway and into the hallway and saw Mew laying there. They conjured Spiritual Weapon and a large ethereal war hammer clocked Grol upside the face. Grol retaliated, but Therkahn blocked the morningstar with their shield, knocking the dwarf back a bit into Grol’s chamber.

Eru screamed at Dirt to go apply pressure to the dwarf’s bleeding throat. He looked around and skittered across the room, doing as she asked. As Snarl watched Dirt run, Eru tried to stab the direwolf in the side, but missed.

Morgana’s wounds stabilized, but she was unable to awake from her sleep. Snarl charged at Therkahn, but they brought Lightbringer’s hilt down on his snout. “I said ‘Bad dog’!” and he whined.

The hobgoblin stood back up and began dragging Mew slowly down the hallway deeper into the castle. At the same time, Grol smashed his mace down on Therkahn’s head, rendering them unconscious. He looked across the room at Eru, “Are you ready to surrender?!” Eru flung out a string of the nastiest goblin curse worse Dirt had taught her. He appeared confused for a second, but lunged at her with his morningstar and missed. She countered with Ray of Frost, and barely an ice crystal formed that had very little effect. “Dirt, help me,” she cried out as Snarl attacked and bit her.

Mew awoke to the sensation of being dragged across the cold stone floor. She silently readied Talon and struck upward toward her kidnapper, striking him deep into the collarbone. He fell, dead. She stood and wandered back down the hallway to the fight.

Grol smashed into Eru with his morningstar and she retaliated with shocking grasp, but it fizzed out at her fingertips. She yelled for Dirt again, who ran up to her side, “What you need?” he asked. “Stab Grol with that dagger you have!!” He looked at Eru, then at Grol, and the dagger, questioning. Snarl nibbled on Eru further, and she fell unconscious at his furry feet.

Mew ran into Grol’s chamber and rifled through Therkahn’s pockets. She found a healing potion, uncorked it, shoved it in Therkahn’s open mouth, and hid behind the bodies of Morgana and the dwarf.

Dirt took his dagger and sliced at Grol, but missed. Angry, Grol swung at Dirt but he nimbly dodged the strike. Awake, Therkahn cast Guiding Bolt at Grol, swearing the entire time and yelling, “I’m going to steal your fucking dog!” A radiant light pierced Grol straight through the heart and he fell to his knees, screaming. Falling on his side, he reached a hand out silently toward Snarl and died.

Therkahn patted their knees at Snarl, “Who’s a good boy?” He growled and lunged at them, knocking them prone and taking a bite of their flesh. Everything faded to black once more for Therkahn.

From the corner, Mew fired another crossbow bolt, this one planted deeply into Snarl’s eye socket. He fell, dead, on top of his master’s corpse. Morgana’s eyes fluttered awake and she cast Cure Wounds on Therkahn.

Mew checked the unconscious dwarf next to her. He had bled out during the fight and was nothing more than a lifeless husk. Rummaging through his pockets, she found nothing. She forced open his mouth and searched for gold teeth: nothing. However, she did realize that the dead dwarf before her was none other than Gundren Rockseeker. She shared the news.

Therkahn healed Eru, who got up and ran to hug Dirt, who hugged her back. Smelly little goblin. She asked for the dagger back, which he willingly gave her.

They looted Grol’s corpse. Therkahn took the helmet, which was known as the Dread Helmet. Mew found 100 gold pieces Mew kept 40 for herself, and gave 20 to Therkahn, 20 to Morgana, and 20 to Eru. There were three healing potions and Therkahn, Morgana, and Eru took one. Mew just didn’t like potions. Therkahn cast Healing Word on Mew and Morgana.

Morgana shifted around the rubble at the exterior wall of the castle. After rummaging for a few minutes, she found a pair of leather boots that tingled with a bit of magical energy. She tucked them away.

Suddenly, a horn and a war cry were heard from the forest’s edge. Everyone looked at each other, ready to bolt out the castle, but…

**PAUSE**
Game Resumed 3/18/18
Startled by the sound of the war horn, the party was ready to flee, but before they did, Morgana asked Dirt if he wanted to be King of the Goblins. He excitedly agreed and she began gathering materials. Untying Scrum, and following Morgana’s lead, Therkahn deemed him the Hand of the King.

Mew pulled out one of the previously looted suits of goblin chainmail and helped Dirt put it on. Morgana crafted a crown out of vines that had hung from the ruined castle walls, a gold tooth she had in her pouch, and a gemstone provided by Eru. Mew and Therkahn both handed Morgana their fake emeralds and Morgana created a pin of vines and gems designating Scrum the Hand of the King. With a lavish speech by Morgana, the coronation of King Dirt concluded. Eru gifted him the jeweled dagger and Therkahn presented the king with a bottle of their looted brandy. “We seek safe passage from the castle,” Therkahn requested.

As he took the bottle, King Dirt’s eyes cleared and Eru’s charm faded. Terror overtook his features and he suddenly backed away, clutching the dagger and bottle. All of the memories of watching his comrades slain before his eyes came flooding back and he cowered. The horn of the approaching horde sounded once more, closer than before. In a mighty whoosh, the adventurers picked up their gear and ran through the halls of the castle, out the door opposite the direction of the horn, leaving King Dirt and Scrum alone in Grol’s chambers.

After fleeing at a quick pace for about an hour and no longer afraid they were being pursued, they found the perfect place to settle in for a well-deserved rest. Therkahn passed around a bottle of brandy and promptly passed out.

Eru took the first watch as her friends slept. Around midnight, she heard someone drunkenly singing in the forest. And the sound grew louder as it approached the perimeter of their camp. Peering into the darkness she recognized Drakon, the Barbarian that had aided them in quests before. He stumbled into camp and Eru offered him a swig of brandy. The rest of the night was uneventful and when everyone woke up in the morning, Drakon’s scarred and ale-flushed 12-year-old face greeted them.

In the morning, Eru divided the exotic fruit she purchased from the traveling merchants among the party. They all discussed what their group should be called. Morgana toyed with the boots she scored from the rubble and learned they were Winged Boots. While they were deep in conversation, Eru conjured a familiar and *poof* a warty toad appeared in her lap. “Everyone,” she squealed, “This is Hùbon! He’s my friend.” They all turned to look, then went right back to chatting about names. Eru fidgeted with the bone dice she stole from the priest and realized they were Charlatan’s Dice, which she eagerly offered to Mew. Mew snatched them away and pocketed them with a smile. Eru also pulled the decapitated goblin head out of her pack and tossed it at Bartholomew, “I got you something!” With his typical Bartholomew-smile, he tied it onto the belt next to his hairy skull. And suddenly with a whoop and a clap, a name was voted on.

“Crustulum Terrore,” Therkahn nearly yelled in excitement, “which loosely translates into Donut Panic!” Mmmm, pastries. The band of adventurers had a name! Crustulum Terrore!

Now that they had a name, and the group was well rested and ready to go…just where should they go? Thundertree had the jewels, but also had the dragon; Longsaddle was a very long journey; and Neverwinter was a nearby city. They opted for Neverwinter. Two and a half days of traveling through the plains and fields were uneventful and they finally found themselves at the 30-foot towering walls of Neverwinter’s gates. They could hear the hustle and bustle of the busy port town and smell the salt water spray of the ocean. They entered the big city and each quickly went on their own separate adventures and errands.

Mew was going to head to the blacksmith so Eru asked if she could either sell or get more information on the Neverwinter sword she snagged. She handed the sword to Mew and disappeared down the street. Mew hefted the sword and all of the metal bits they procured and made her way to the nearest blacksmith.

“Excuse me,” she said to the smitty.

“One minute,” he called back to her as he continued working. Several minutes later, Mew impatiently cleared his throat. The smitty ignored the interruption and continued to tinker.

“What can I do for you,” he finally asked as he wiped his sweaty hands on his apron.

Mew pulled out the old chainmail and various weapons Crustulum Terrore had found in their travels. “How much can I get for all of this?” She also pulled out the Neverwinter sword and asked if it was…special.

“Well, that there’s the symbol of the Lord’s Alliance,” he said as he pointed to the hilt of the sword. “I’ll give you 20 gold pieces for that sword. And 100 gold for the rest of the lot.”

“Done,” Mew said and laid down the equipment. As the smitty handed him a small sack of gold, Mew asked, “Have you heard of a mage named Hamun who may have come here a while ago?”

“Can’t say that I have. But if you’re looking for mages, try the Arcana District on the northeast side of town near the mage school.” She thanked him for the funds and left the shop.

Drakon and Therkahn sniffed out the nearest tavern and found the Emerald Diver. They sat at a table and Therkahn pulled out a handful of donuts out of their satchel, smashed them into their mouth, and challenged Drakon to a drinking contest. He didn’t bat an eye and immediately ordered two ales. The contest began. A few drinks in, Therkahn threw a few gold pieces at a random bar patron and slurred, “Lord’s Alliance! Here’s my dues…” and buried a beard already moist with ale into the bottom of another tankard. The surprised man took the gold pieces, rushed to the counter, ordered another ale, and slurped it up before Therkahn could realize the mistake.

Aria and Bartholomew went on the hunt for shops selling magical wares. Everything was far too expensive. Their hunt continued and led them to an apothecary. Unable to afford those wares either, Aria headed toward the tavern and Bartholomew continued on with his shopping spree alone.

Mew walked into the Emerald Diver, saw Therkahn and Drakon drinking heavily, and quickly ignored their smiling faces and waves; she pretended she didn’t know them and began talking to other patrons. As the drinking continued, Therkahn bust into drunken song and Drakor smashed two chairs and broke a table as the percussion accompaniment to the music. The air grew tense as the wood splintered and the singing became yelling. Mew shook his head and headed for the door. “Byeeee Mew,” Drakon yelled from the nearby table, reaching out as she passed, “Mewwwwwwwww!!!!” Mew reached out with her staff and grazed Drakon’s fingers in passing and enchanted him with Spider Climb. As he realized his hands were suddenly sticky, Drakon clung onto the tankard and climbed up to the ceiling, spitting on patrons from above.

Morgana asked around for any temples dealing with nature and learned that the Temple of Mielikki was across town.

Eru headed toward the arcane academy, which she learned was northeast. She stopped in awe at the towering spires of the academy as people passed her quickly by, heading in all directions with a sense of purpose and urgency. She found her way to the library and began searching through scrolls for any spells she may copy into her book. She spent several hours writing Unseen Servant into her spellbook, oblivious to the passing time or goings-on around her.

Back at the Emerald Diver, Drakon was heckling the bar patrons from above, continuing to spit and calling out names and obscenities. Therkahn copied him from the tabletops, falling off the table numerous times, stumbling back up, and heckling some more. Booze rained from the ceiling (thanks to Drakon) and sloshed from Therkahn’s wavering tankard. The tavern floor and patrons alike were spattered with the smelly brew. Empty tankards were flung upward toward Drakon, but he skillfully dodged the projectiles.

Mew made his way toward the arcana district in search of the academy, hoping to find more information on Hamun or the mysterious Arthindol.

Morgana finally found the stone walls of the Temple of Mielikki, Goddess of the Forest, and entered the open iron gate. Within the walls, there was no physical building: just the open sky and a beautiful lush garden with foliage of all types and tall ancient trees graced the presence of the worshipers. There were a few benches here and there, but most of the druids chose to rest on the ground or nearby boulders. Water danced from numerous fountains and a large stone figure stood in the center of the temple. Morgana walked up to the statue and knew it to be the likeness of Mielikki herself: a unicorn with a golden horn and blue sapphire eyes, its gaze directed toward the left. She followed her stare and came upon a tree covered in small white flowers, each petal glowed liked the moon. Morgana sat, leaned her palm against the tree, and left a secret message within for those who were able to discover it. Once complete, she stood, wished her fellow druids farewell, and searched for an apothecary.

Eru returned the scroll to the shelf, left the library, and began to ask the other students at the academy if any of them had heard of Hamun. Many just passed her by without flinching. Others stared at her for a moment, rolled their eyes, and continued walking. “Um, excuse me – “, “Have you heard of – “, “Hello?”, “Can you help me -”; she never got the entire request out.

Aria entered the Emerald Diver just as Drakon’s Spider Climb enchantment wore off and he plummeted to the floor with a mighty thud. He landed on three unsuspecting gnomes and was greeted with uproarious applause from patrons of the bar. A stranger slapped Drakon on the shoulder and handed him a fresh ale. Aria sneered and wandered toward the dart board and started a solo game.

Mew watched from the shadows of the arcane academy as Eru awkwardly and unsuccessfully tried to interact with the other students. Before Eru could see him, Mew turned the other way and headed toward the docks. She found a dark little hole-in-the-wall pub and struck up a conversation with the barkeep.

“I’m looking for a necromancer,” she said.

“Necromancer? Don’t know any of those…but I do know of a few clerics I can recommend,” he replied, using air-quotes to enunciate clerics.

“Clerics? No, I need a necromancer,” Mew insisted.

“Be careful about using that word around here,” he warned. “How many bodies you got?”

“How many do you need,” Mew asked.

“Nevermind. Come back tonight and I’ll introduce you to my cleric-friend.” A date was made.

On her prowl for an apothecary, Morgana asked if there was a zoo or an animal store in Neverwinter; there wasn’t. Saddened, she altered her path and entered the Emerald Diver. She saw Drakon leaning up against the counter, reaching behind the bar while the barkeep wasn’t looking, and pilfered a tinderbox. He headed toward Aria and her dart game. Morgana, wide-eyed, clucked her tongue, turned around, and immediately exited the bar.

Back at the apothecary, Bartholomew asked the shopkeeper if he would be interested in buying any of the severed limbs or bones he had in his possession. “Um, no, I won’t buy those here.” Not discouraged, Bartholomew exited the shop, pulled the hood of the cloak over his head, and headed toward the seedy side of town. Mew saw Bartholomew exit, cover his head, and walk toward the shadowed alleys. Worried, she followed at a distance; Bartholomew none the wiser. She followed him to a butcher shop and sneakily watched from the doorway. He walked up to the counter, plopped a bag down on the floor, and addressed the rotund butcher.

“How much would you give me for a very fresh goblin head, a tibia, and a fibia,” he asked.

Interested, the butcher took the goblin head and placed it on a scale, adding some weights to the opposite end until balanced. He bit his lip, stroked his chin, and replied, “I’ll give you 10 gold pieces.”

Bartholomew smiled, “Well, I think it’s worth 15 gold pieces.” He suddenly heard a creepy voice whisper, “Barry…take the moneyyyy..” as chills ran up and down his spine. He followed the words of the unseen advisor, took the gold, and shook the greasy hand of the butcher. Mew remained hidden as Bartholomew left the shop and continued down the road. She followed.

Eru found a local blacksmith and commissioned an iron ball about the size of her fist, covered in spikes. The smitty said it’d be ready in two days. She gave him 15 gold pieces and went in search of her friends at the Emerald Diver.

By this time, Drakon had ignited the tinder box and he and Aria were throwing flaming darts. The flames began to lick at the dart board and patrons shifted uneasily. The barkeep eyed from behind the counter. Morgana returned to the bar and ordered a drink.

Bored of following Bartholomew, Mew stepped off to find a victim. She followed a wandering merchant around and reached her dagger forward to free his coin purse from his belt. The unnamed Lord spotted the dagger, turned and knocked her hand away.

“What do you think you’re doing,” he demanded.

“I, uh – it was um dirty. I was going to clean it!”

“Do I need to call the guards,” he asked.

“No,” Mew lowered her head.

“Let’s not let it happen again!” And the merchant stormed off.

Aria took a break from the game of darts to ask around if anyone had any odd jobs for hire. Mostly manual labor and field work.

Eru sat down next to Morgana and ordered an ale. When the tankard arrived, she cast Tiny Servant and the mug sprouted arms and legs. “I shall name you Monte! Monte the Mug,” she squealed. Since it was filled to the brim with alcohol, the mug was instantly intoxicated and ran around the countertop, jumped off, and stumbled across the floor. Eru chased after it and once she caught Monte, his arms and legs flailing in the air as she held him aloft, she called out to Morgana, “I made a friend!!” Morgana smiled and sipped her beverage.

Therkahn grabbed a handful of darts from the table and began throwing them toward Drakon, aiming for his Barbarian butt. Three missed, but two sunk into his buttcheeks. He barely noticed as the darts sunk into his flesh as he continued to throw the own flaming darts at the target.

Bartholomew loaded up on supplies at the general store and, laden by his new wares, searched for a nearby potion store.

Feeling a bit buzzed, Morgana (now joined by the ever-sneaky Mew) stepped outside the pub. She produced a harp, which she began to play as Mew held out a hat for tips. A few people dropped a total of 5 copper pieces into the hat and they moved to the next corner. A larger crowd gathered around the harpist. Mew slipped away and into the crowd for a little sticky-finger-action. She missed a few marks, but managed to score a few: 12 copper pieces and 2 silver pieces magically found their way into Mew’s gluttonous coinpurse. When Morgana asked if Mew was able to steal any coins, Mew apologized, shaking her head.

Inside the pub, it was quite a scene: the dart board in flames, Drakon and Aria throwing burning darts, Eru jabbering to Monte and chasing him around, Therkahn throwing darts at Drakon’s ass, the broken furniture, the numerous abandoned projectile-tankards lying on the ground, and Morgana and Mew triumphantly re-entering the bar. A guard walked into the doorway and yelled, “Everybody, STOP!!!”; everyone froze. The guard walked up to Drakon and held out his hand. Drakon struck a pouty face, doused the flaming darts, and handed them to the guard. The tavern owner walked up threw a bucket of water at the dart board. He handed a few coins to the guard, who nodded and exited the building. Therkhan put 20 gold pieces on the bar, apologized for causing trouble, and the barkeep brought them two more tankards of ale. The barkeep and Therkhan discussed the troubles of the Lord’s Alliance and how the unrest was affecting business. Eru walked up with a wiggly Monte in her hands and inquired if she could purchase the mug. “I don’t want that animated mug. Five silver pieces and it’s yours.” She eagerly gave him the funds.

Aria sauntered up to a half-orc, wound her fingers around his ears, and worked her seductive wiles. She learned his name was Joe and everyone watched as they stood up and Joe led her up the the stairs toward a bedroom. About 20 minutes later, Joe snored on the bed and Aria rifled through his personal effects. She pocketed 3 gold pieces and joined her friends below.

Mew told everyone about her clandestine meeting with a necromancer at midnight. She and Eru travelled together toward the bar at the docks, but before they entered Eru put Hùbon in Mew’s pouch and she nestled into a safe corner, taking over her familiar’s sight and hearing. Monte peeked out from Eru’s pack and kept watch. Mew stepped inside and the barkeep introduced her to Bitters, a “cleric.” A short interview ensued and Mew stated he wasn’t skilled enough for her needs; he asked if Bitters knew of Hamun. Bitters knew that Hamun left for Baldur’s Gate a few days ago. Frustrated, Mew asked where there was a better bar in town. “That’ll be Minstrel’s Waterfall,” and he pointed in the general direction. Mew dropped 10 silver pieces in his hand and left, grabbed Eru, and returned Hùbon to Eru’s pocket.

Aria left the Emerald Diver and wandered around town in search of a cat. Several cats scampered away from her, but she was finally able to corner one in an alley. As she tried to grab it, it hissed wildly and she thought better of it, and left the creature in peace. She wandered along the stores, window shopping, until exhaustion overtook her and she fell asleep along the street.

Drakon, still singing drunkenly, exited the pub and found the local brothel. He spent some coin and enjoyed the rest of the evening with the “talent.”

Therkahn’s head hit the bar as they finally passed out with a mighty belch and a thud.

Morgana slumbered in the Temple beneath the moon-petal tree surrounded by the nature she loved so much.

Mew, Eru, Hùbon, and Monte purchased a room for two nights at the Minstrel’s Waterfall, enjoyed warm baths and a solid night’s sleep.

Bartholomew found Peter’s Potions and spent the evening talking to Pete about how to create potions, and they talked long into the night. Bartholomew only fell asleep as the dawn’s rays began to filter in through the window of Pete’s shop.

The next morning, everyone somehow managed to find each other and they all caught up on the night’s happenings over breakfast. Bartholomew pointed at Eru’s mug; Monte had returned to his regular-tankard-status.

“Um, do you think you can animate my hairy skull,” he asked as he patted the skull on his belt.

“Sure, if you’d let me borrow your moon crystal during the full moon,” she replied.

“Uh, but it’s attached to my staff,” he said.

“Then, only if I can borrow your staff during the full moon. I’ll animate your skull whenever you want,” she offered.

“I’m gonna have to think on it,” Bartholomew said, as he smiled, and continued to devour breakfast.

After eating, Bartholomew and Aria went to the docks to do some fishing. After a few hours, they were able to each catch one fish.

Mew, Morgana, and Eru headed back toward the arcana district in search if any mages that could help Mew with her “issues.” They learned that the only techniques that may find Mew some relief were all experimental and possibly dangerous. She decided to handle her issues the way he always had – in secret. She declined their services.

Therkhan and Drakon asked around for a gym. There were no gyms (nobody knew what those were), but they were pointed toward the guard’s quarters for the training dummies. They hacked and slashed for a good portion of the morning. Afterward, Therkahn ventured toward the Lord’s Alliance headquarters to pay dues (they had forgotten they paid the night before). Everyone at the Lord’s Alliance seemed disheveled, disorganized, and spoke in hushed tones.

Mew, Morgana, and Eru joined Therkhan at the Lord’s Alliance. Eru made sure her family signet ring was visible to the receptionist when she asked if they could speak to Sildar. “Right away, Miss,” and she disappeared behind a door. A few minutes later, Sildar entered into the room.

“It’s so good to see all of you alive and well,” he stated, smiling.

“I’m afraid we have some bad news, Sildar,” Mew replied, “I’m sorry to tell you that we discovered Gundren Rockseeker, naked and dead.”

“Oh, that is terrible news. Do you know what happened?”

Mew filled Sildar in about the death of King Grol and the rise of King Dirt, along with his Hand of the King, Scrum. She also told him how the creature named Vyerith who murdered Gundren, pilfered something from his corpse, and escaped. He described to Sildar the whereabouts and layout of Cragmaw Castle.

“Very well. We shall look into this and I will see if the Lord’s Alliance can recognize your efforts,” he stated. “Have you had a chance to handle business in Longsaddle for me?”

“Um…” Eru stated, “Not yet.”

“Soon, I hope. Where are you all staying,” he asked.

“Currently at the Minstrel’s Waterfall, but only for tonight. We cannot afford the extravagance,” Mew told Sildar.

“We’ll cover the costs of your accommodations for the remainder of your stay,” Sildar announced. Smiles all around!

“Sildar,” Mew asked, “having proven myself useful, is there any way I can join the ranks of the Lord’s Alliance?”

“I don’t see why not. The staff here will set you up,” and he directed Mew to the receptionist.

After filling out some paperwork and taking an oath, Mew received a brass signet ring as a new member of the Lord’s Alliance. Therkahn beamed from nearby and Eru rolled her eyes and grunted.

Therkahn walked up to Sildar and asked, “What can you tell me about all of the unrest I’ve been hearing about with the Lord’s Alliance?”

“That,” Sildar answered, his tone quieting, “is because we are missing two councilmembers, and a third has been found murdered. We must restore balance to the council in order to ease the rising unrest.”

Eru stepped up to their conversation, putting her hand on Therkahn’s shoulder, “May I suggest Therkahn as a council member? They’ve more than proven themself to the Alliance.” Therkahn stood a little taller, if that’s even possible for a dwarf.

“Uh, Therkahn needs more experience and will need to keep trying to impress those of power at the Lord’s Alliance. One day,” he said, “maybe…If you’d excuse me,” and he hurriedly returned to his tasks. Everyone left the building and went about their separate ways.

Bartholomew and Aria prepared a fish stew for their friends. They argued about the ingredients. Aria sucked down the tail of a lizard as Bartholomew nearly threw up.

“It belongs in the stew,” she said.

“Absolutely not!”

“You just don’t know what good taste is!”

They headed toward the market and purchased turnips, potatoes, and carrots.

Mew wandered the streets, looking for evidence of thieves in Neverwinter. She caught wind of thieves’ cant every once in a while, but only mumblings and he wasn’t able to overhear what was being said. Drakon spent the day throwing rocks at people from atop a bridge. Eru met with the blacksmith and picked up her spikey ball. Therkahn hunted down a mapmaker and bought several maps of the area. Bored, Mew and Drakon made their way to the sewers and hunted meat. They killed three sewer rats and delivered them to Aria for the stew. Morgana shopped around for sleeping potions, but everything was far too expensive. Instead, she purchased a few empty vials.

Later that night, Eru soaked in the bath, enjoyed a smoke on her platinum pipe while Hùbon swam around her. Warm and comfy, she went to bed. Aria gutted the rats and hung them from the ceiling to dry. She fell asleep shortly afterward and Bartholomew cut down the rats and threw them away outside. He then went back to the market and purchased Earl Grey, Oolong, and Chamomile teas. Therkahn enjoyed a long overdue bath before falling asleep.

While Eru was sleeping, Mew snuck out into the night. She stalked a noble through the streets and raised her crossbow, aimed, and fired. It whizzed right by the nobleman’s head and he cried out for the guards. Looking around, no one spotted Mew as she melted back into the shadows, cursing her luck. She returned to the Minstrel’s Waterfall.

Eru awoke with no sign of Mew and panicked. She animated Monte once more and as she cried to him, worried about the Missing Mew, Monte’s little tankard-hands stroked her hair until she fell back asleep.

Bartholomew, Aria, and Mew drank tea while Morgana ate a bowl of stew.

“You know what this could really use? Some lizard tail,” she said.

Aria jabbed an elbow into Bartholomew’s side, “See?!?!!!”

The next morning, everyone ate the leftover fish stew for breakfast and discussed their plans for the day. They thought about going after the jewels and the young dragon at Thundertree. After asking around, they learned that it was believed this particular dragon spewed acid at its victims…and that no party had ever returned alive. Buried in books at the library, Therkahn and Aria learned a lot about dragons, but not enough to comfortably pursue the quest. It was suggested that Morgana and Eru (through Hùbon) recon the area, but it was deemed too dangerous. Therkahn suggested heading to Longsaddle, but Eru whined that it was too far away.

Bored with the logistics and planning, Mew skulked off to find another noble to try to victim to pilfer or murder. After several attempts, she was unable to lure any unsuspecting folk down dark alleyways to their demise.

Therkahn and Eru headed back to the Lord’s Alliance in search of odd jobs that paid well. There were the standard bodyguard gigs to protect wandering merchants, which paid about 15 gold per person. Or there was a pesky troll that was stirring up some trouble in the mountain passes that promised 150 gold pieces if the party returned with proof of its demise, preferably a severed head. They opted for the troll and the Alliance drafted up the contract. Therkahn signed on behalf of Crustulum Terrore.

After two days of uneventful travel they found themselves at the foothills of the mountains. Drakon found and followed a set of giant footprints, the party tailed behind him. It led to a dark cave, and the hulking form of the troll could be seen within, its back facing the mouth of the cave. Slurping, crunching, and cracking of bones could be heard as the troll dined unawares of the danger behind it.

From a safe distance and up against a tree, Mew raised her heavy crossbow and filed a bolt. It struck the troll, but barely stuck in the thick hide. The troll stood, it’s massive form turning around and growling, and stepped forward. Morgana cast Entangle, but the vines were no match for the troll’s thick ankles. They snapped with the strain and the troll lumbered forward.

Bartholomew stepped close to Drakon, drew his shortbow, and fired an arrow. Again, the arrow just grazed the thick flesh of the troll, but sunk a little into the shoulder. The troll brushed away the arrow, breaking it at the tip.

Therkan summoned a spiritual warhammer directly over the head of the troll and slammed its ribcage. Bones could be heard snapping. Therkahn followed with a shot from the crossbow, and the bolt sunk in deep.

Drakon hurled a javelin toward the troll, but it landed harmlessly between his feet. Aria cast blind and successfully blinded the troll. It charged, stomping and flailing, but missed. Everyone watched as his wounds healed a bit. Mew fired a second bolt, but it shattered against the troll. Morgana cast Moonbeam and bathed the troll in its glorious light.

Bartholomew let loose another arrow, piercing the troll’s side. He then charged forward and punched it at the side of the kneecap, knocking the troll prone. He punched it once more, landing a hammer blow to the shoulder.

Therkahn moved their spiritual weapon above the prone troll and bopped it with the weapon. They also ran forward and struck out with the warhammer, but missed. Drakon rushed forward, pulled out his longsword, and whacked off a few troll fingers. It howled in the moonlight. Eru flung a firebolt at the troll, the embers sealing the healing wounds. Aria followed suit and hurled a fireball. It exploded and engulfed the troll in flames; screaming and writhing until it lay dead. Therkahn decapitated the troll as Morgana ran inside the cave and dismembered the horse that the troll had been eating, bagging up the limbs to sell at market.

Inside the cave, they found broken wagons and supply crates, an assortment of gems worth 50 gold pieces, and a lizard tail. Aria ate the tail while Bartholomew gathered some of the torn vines from the ground. They decided to rest before heading back to Neverwinter.

**PAUSE**
Game Resumed 4/8/18

Mew looked around the ground and freaked out screaming, “BUNNIES!!!! BUUUUNNNIIIIEEESSSS!! “ and climbed up the nearest tree. Nobody saw any bunnies…except Mew. Eru yelled from below to calm down, that the bunnies couldn’t hurt anyone. But Mew insisted on staying up in the tree and wouldn’t join the others in the cave to rest.

Eru took the first watch and it was uneventful. Bartholomew and Morgana took over while Eru slept. They played cards, but both suddenly heard a buzzing sound from above in the cavern walls.

“That’s irritating,” Bartholomew whispered, “I think we should ignore that sound.”

“Those crickets sure are loud,” Morgana replied in hushed tones. She then realized she’d heard that sound before. “Bartholomew, those aren’t crickets. I think they’re stirges…like the ones in Wave Echo Cave…”

Not wanting to wake Eru, Morgana whispered, “Mew. Mewwww!!! Get down from that tree. Stirges…”

Mew whispered back, “But there are bunnies down there!!”

“We can eat the bunnies,” Morgana hissed back. “How many are there?”

Counting, Mew replied, “There’s 30. I just can’t – I can’t get down!!”

“Are there really bunnies? I don’t see any…” Bartholomew asked.

“Of course they’re real!!” Mew nearly shouted. Neither Morgana nor Bartholomew saw any evidence of bunnies.

Morgana gestured for Bartholomew to stay in the cave and she creeped out and stood beneath Mew’s tree. “Mew, I’m going to poison the bunnies. Hold your breath.” She held out her hands and puffs of green gas filled the air at the base of the tree stump. Mew squealed in delight as the unseen bunnies melted. Morgana laughed maniacally, although she did nothing but poison the air at her feet. “Die bunnies, DIE!” Morgana finished off the last of the bunnies by stomping on them.

Mew jumped from the tree joining Morgana, Bartholomew, and the snoring Eru in the cave. Morgana sat down, concentrated, and spoke with the stirges.

“Hey guys. What’s going on up there?”

“Food…food!!!” the voices cried out inside her head.

“Well, I have some horse leg right here if you would like some.”

A resounding, “Yes!!” was the reply.

“Cooked or raw,” she asked. The stirges just fluttered overhead and didn’t answer. She cut off a chunk of horse meat and threw it outside the cave entrance. A flurry of wings and a whoosh and the stirges swarmed the meat, sucking it dry.

Mew pulled out their longsword and lunged forward, slicing a fat stirges in two. It exploded in gore. Mew cackled quietly so as not to wake Eru. Bartholomew didn’t want to kill the stirges and made his opinion known. Morgana unfurled her thorn whip, wrapped it around a feeding stirges and pulled tight. It squeezed until it popped like an overripe fruit, a gooey explosion. Resigned, Bartholomew pulled out his shortsword and sliced across a stirges’ sternum. It flopped to the ground, dead. He then punched the last remaining stirges in the face until he heard bones cracking and its face caved in. They gathered up all of the stirges bodies. Morgana cleaned and prepped the little carcasses as Bartholomew built a fire and procured a little pot from his bag. Mew handed him one of their rations and stirges stew simmered quitely over the fire.

Eru awoke to the smell of spices and stew. Over breakfast they decided to head back to Neverwinter. A day and a half later, they arrived back at the gates at approximately 2:30 in the morning. Eager to collect their pay for the troll’s head, they headed to the Lord’s Alliance, but found it was locked up tight for the night.

Not swayed, Bartholomew led everyone to the butcher who had previously purchased the goblin head. Morgana asked if he would purchase the horse leg. The obese butcher examined the meat, poked it here and there, and politely refused. It was simply too old.

“What?” Bartholomew asked. “Well, then, we’ll just go next door and sell it,” and gathered up his things and left.

“Good luck with that,” the butcher called after him as everyone else joined him outside.

Mew snuck back inside, leaned on the counter and whispered, “What are your thoughts on purchasing a fresh troll head?”

“Ooooh. Now that’s a true delicacy,” he replied, eyes gleaming.

“I’ll be back later,” Mew said and ran to catch up with everyone else.

At 2:30 in the morning, there’s nothing else to do but pub crawl. Dragging the troll head behind him, Bartholomew spotted a sign for the Bumbling Bard tavern. The drinking began. Mew overheard people talking about a masquerade ball that would be taking place in the Upper District in two days. Eru also overhead that there have been sightings of dark-skinned elves running around in the sewers of Neverwinter. Tired after a few drinks, Bartholomew fell asleep at the table. Eru resurrected Monte the Mug. Mew relayed the news of the masquerade ball to everyone and pointed to Monte.

“Eru, I’ve still got that jade frog. Maybe animate it at the masquerade for a distraction?” Mew asked.

Pleased that Mew would ask anything of Eru, she quickly agreed. She leaned over into Mew’s ear and whispered about the drow roaming the sewers. Eru purchased a room for the night and everyone crammed in to sleep.

The next day, they dragged the troll head to the Lord’s Alliance headquarters. A tall elf stood behind the desk. Bartholomew heaved the head up onto the desk with a mighty plop.

“Oh God!! You’ve killed a troll,” the elf cried out.

“Per our contract,” Morgana replied. The elf began to shuffle through scrolls on a shelf, “Search for Crustulum Terrore,” she suggested to the elf.

“Aw, yes. Here it is,” he replied, brandishing the scroll high. “I’ll be right back.” He disappeared behind the door, only to return with a sack of 150 gold coins. “Keep the troll head, please. We do not want it!” he said.

Sildar walked up.

“I’m so happy to see you guys alive! And I see you killed yourselves a troll,” he clapped Therkhan on the back.

“How are things with the Lord’s Alliance,” Therkahn asked.

“Still the same,” he replied, sadly.

“What if the Lord’s Alliance disbanded and started anew,” Mew suggested.

Sildar pulled Eru, Therkhan, and Mew aside. “That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But, would any of you like to stay in Neverwinter and help me investigate this nasty business with the council?” Mew and Eru immediately declined. Therkahn took a deep breath, stood a little taller for a dwarf, and replied, “It’s my honor and duty to the Lord’s Alliance. I’ll stay, Sildar.”

“Excellent,” he said, as they continued to discuss Therkahn’s role with the Lord’s Alliance.

Therkahn turned to the group, “This is where we cross blades and part ways.”
“Should you need us…” Morgana said.

“Yes,” Bartholomew said, “should you ever need us, we’re always here for you.”

“I’ll find you,” Therkahn said and walked away with Sildar behind closed doors.

Everyone helped carry the troll head back to the butcher from earlier that morning. Bartholomew, once more, hefted the troll head up and plopped it on the counter. The butcher poked and prodded the fleshy head.

“This is good! I’ll give you 50 gold pieces,” he said.

“What do you take me for? A common Hobbit?!?,” Bartholomew exclaimed.

The butcher shifted, uncomfortable. “Uh, um, no. I’ll give you 60 gold pieces and this spiced lamb rack.”

“Deal!” They shook hands and exchanged goods and coin.

“I hope to see you again, Small One,” the butcher said while shaking Bartholomew’s hand.

“Don’t call me Small One if you know what’s good for you…,” Bartholomew hissed.

The butcher chuckled as the door closed behind them.

And shopping commenced! Morgana purchased 1,000 ball bearings. Bartholomew purchased herbs, spices, potatoes, onions, and turnips. Morgana and Bartholomew also learned how to make healing potions and dedicated the next two days to their newfound craft.

Eru commanded Hùbon to shift into a spider and he crawled on her shoulder. Eru bought a silver gown and half-moon mask for the masquerade. Bartholomew purchased a suit and top with coattails and a top hat. Morgana ordered a matching set, but in tiny monkey-size. Mew purchased random costuming supplies and doctored up an outfit for the masquerade.

Bartholomew also found a bookstore that had an extensive selection of wares, including a fantasy novel about self-driving carts. Excited, he purchases the volume and headed back toward the Minstrel’s Waterfall (which was still on Sildar’s tab for the week) to settle in and read. He drew a bath, puffed on his pipe, soaked, and marvelled at the wonders of horseless, self-driving carts.

Seeing as there were no temples that interested Mew or Eru, Eru took the downtime to continue teaching Mew her family’s cypher. After a while, they were parched and Morgana, Eru, and Mew headed out to a nearby pub. They found the Golden Cat, and Mew immediately scoured the crowds for potential marks. Instead, the rogue’s eyes settled on a gambling table; a game of dice. Mew threw down 10 gold pieces and pulled the Charlatan’s Dice out of their pouch. Eru woke Monte the Mug up, and he squirmed in her grasp as she drank. Mew won the first two rounds of dice, but lost the third. Victoriously pocketing the newly-acquired five gold pieces, Mew scanned the crowd once more.

There was a nearly-constant stream of drunken patrons coming and going, but Mew’s eyes settled on a pair that stumbled from the gambling table with heavy purses and made their way toward the front door.

Mew elbowed Morgana and whispered into her ear, “Hey, did you see that shitfaced pair over there?”

“Yeah…” Morgana whispered back.

“How do you feel about liberating them of some coin,” Mew asked.

“Okay, but what about Eru?”

Mew leaned over to Eru and handed her 10 silver pieces. “We have to go to the bathroom,” Mew said, “but here’s 10 silver. Go buy yourself a special drink. We’ll be back in a bit.”

Mew and Morgana headed toward the bathroom. Eru grabbed the now-empty Monte and ordered their best cocktail 10 silver pieces could buy; the barkeep filled Monte to the brim with an extravagant beverage. Fighting Monte’s flailing arms and legs, Eru sipped out of the tankard and out of her peripheral vision she saw Morgana and Mew heading away from the bathroom and out the pub’s front door.

“Hey,” she stumbled up to them, “Where you guys going?”

Mew cursed, “Okay…do you see those guys over there,” pointing in the direction of the two shitfaced gamblers, “We were going to steal their purses.”

“But,” Eru whined, “You can’t do that. That’s…that’s not good!”

Wrestling with the idea, Mew caved-in, “All right. All right, fine. We’ll see if they’ll fund us for our campaign against the green dragon in Thundertree.”

“Okay,” Eru continued to sip on her fancy beverage. Monte’s hands were folded defiantly across his chest, feet dangling in the air.

Mew and Morgana walked up to the two strangers. They explained their quest to rid Thundertree of the green dragon. Morgana pointed out that Eru was a powerful wizard and they simply needed enough money for supplies for the journey and the impending encounter.

“She,” the drunk man pointed at Eru, “is a powerful wizard?”

Eru looked up from her drink, “What?”

“Yes,” Morgana said.

“Yes, she is.” Mew agreed.

“Prove it,” the man demanded.

Without putting Monte down, she reached into her pouch, pulled out a tiny little flea and flicked it at Morgana. She muttered a word as the flea flew toward Morgana and multiplied into a large swarm of bugs, enveloping Morgana. Disgusted and terrified, the man flung four gold pieces to the ground and ran screaming, “Just leave me alone!” Mew picked up the gold and threw it in the Kitty.

Back at the Minstrel’s Waterfall, Bartholomew had braised pork and sweet apple cider delivered to his room. He dined, drank, puffed on his pipe, and continued to read the fascinating futuristic tale of driverless carts. The door opens and Mew, Morgana, and Eru stepped in.

“Hi guys,” Bartholomew greets them beneath a cloud of smoke.

Morgana rushed to the bathroom to soak away the heebie jeebies left by the bug-cloud. Everyone eventually settled to sleep.

In the middle of the night, Mew woke up and snuck out of the room. Bouncing from rooftop to rooftop searching for a victim, they finally saw a lone man pissing in the alley. Aiming, Mew fired the crossbow, but the bolt jammed. Realizing it was broken badly enough to need repairing by a professional, Mew kicked it, breaking it further. Cursing their luck, Mew scaled the wall and headed toward the blacksmith. It took a few hours to repair, but Mew finally had the bow back in hand and went back on the prowl. A vagrant rested in an alley and Mew fired the crossbow, sinking the bolt into their throat. Elated, Mew rifled through the pockets and pilfered three copper pieces. Before leaving, Mew retrieved the bolt from the dead vagrant’s throat and snuck back into the hotel room, victorious and sated.

The next morning they had an early breakfast of pastries coated in a glorious cinnamon butter. Bartholomew wandered downstairs and into the kitchen, introduced himself to the head chef which was a tall Dragonborn male in a chef hat. Bartholomew asked for a job. An interview pursued, and the chef agreed to give Bartholomew a shot in the kitchen. Not being used to working with a Dragonborn peering over his shoulder, or the flames that they emitted and cooked with, Batholomew burnt the lamb rack slightly…but it was still salvageable. The Chef grunted in minor approval. He brought the rack back up to his roommates.

“It looks burnt,” Eru said, flatly.

“Yeah,” Bartholomew replied, “That Dragonborn chef burnt it. I taught him a few things, though.”

Later, after eating the overcooked lamb Morgana, Mew, and Eru went downstairs and listened for rumors in the pub. Mew overheard of caves in Mount Hotenow that were guarded by ogres but filled with dwarven treasures.Morgana heard whispers of four merchants who headed south to the Mere of Dead Men who hadn’t returned. A reward of 500 gold pieces was offered if the merchants were found, dead or alive, and news of their whereabouts or their bodies were returned. Eru overheard a tale of a crew of sailors who had sailed to the Moonshae Isles looking for treasures that were guarded by a hag.

Meanwhile, Bartholomew finished reading the fantasy sci-fi book and returned it to the bookstore. He asked if he could exchange it for the ecology book. The deal was made and he walked away with a new book.

Everyone got ready for the masquerade party. Morgana turned into a monkey and donned her suit and monkey mask. Eru pulled on her crescent moon mask and Mew’s mask was covered in stars. Bartholomew stepped into the room wearing a mask of his interpretation of a driverless cart. At the gates, the guard let everyone inside and there were all kinds of gowns, costumes, masks, food, and drink. Most of the attendees appeared to be of the merchant class and the little group of adventurers pursued small talk. Mew tried to hint around, asking if there were any members of the Zhentarim present, but people disapproved of their discussion…and fewer and fewer people engaged Mew in conversation. Mew excused themself to the restroom and changed their costume and mask; now wearing their favorite alabaster mask. Mew returned to Eru and asked if she could hear anything…

Eru sent Hùbon out in spider form to skitter along the floor. She overheard a conversation that the plan was going forward and would happen tonight. She couldn’t see who was saying it, though. Hùbon returned to the folds of Eru’s dress and Eru relayed to Mew what she had learned.

Bartholomew and Morgana-Monkey wandered and mingled. Excitedly, Bartholomew talked about the self-driving carts that he had read about and was mocked by the merchants at the idea of a Horseless Carriage. To ease the tension, Morgana-Monkey dropped off of Bartholomew’s shoulder and onto to the floor and began a little monkey jig. Bartholomew dropped his top hat on the floor, yet nobody tossed them any coin.

In an attempt to try to regain favor with the guests, Mew headed to the dance floor and tried to encourage others to join them in the dance of Mew’s people–Mew’s real people, the Drow: the chicken dance. Arms flapping, knees buckling, and Mew twirling, nobody joined except for Morgana-Monkey; the sight only made the guests laugh harder. Just as they were about to give up, a person in a long-nosed mask also joined the dance.

“So, you enjoy dancing,” the man behind the mask asked Mew.

“I do,” Mew responded.

“I enjoy dancing as well…do you know the electric slide?” he asked.

“The electric what?”

“Let me show you,” and the man proceeded to teach Mew and Morgana-Monkey the electric slide. They proceeded to step, shimmy, slide, and kick their way around the dance floor, and cleared quite the space.

Bartholomew wandered up, puffed on his pipe, and admired the dance. Once it ended, he asked the long-nosed mask man, “I say, have you ever heard of driverless carts? It’s fascinating!” He hadn’t and became enthralled in the conversation with the halfling monk.

Eru left the dance hall and wandered in search of a library. She found a small study, which contained some personal effects of Lord Blundenwall, the host of the ball. Lord Blundenwall specialized in the port trade. Eru scanned the books and found nothing that caught her interest. However, not wanting to leave empty-handed, she grabbed a ledger which outlined his dealings up and down the Sword Mountain Coast. Before leaving the room, though, she opened the drawer and scrawled “Mew was here,” on a piece of paper before closing the desk drawer once more. She stuffed the book between her legs and shimmied out the room and joined the rest of the guests.

Mew slipped away in search of unlocked, unguarded doors. All of the valuables appeared to be tucked away behind lock and key. Mew found an unguarded door and discovered a storage room for furniture. Chairs, tables, desk, etc. lined the walls. Itching to pilfer something, Mew unscrewed a claw foot off of the desk and pocketed it before slinking back to the party.

The dancing resumed and a feast was laid out. Morgana-Monkey jumped up on the table, ran down the row of food, and stopped at a platter of meatballs. She picked one up as the wait staff tried to shoo her away.

“Is this beast yours,” they asked of Bartholomew.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Well, sir, keep it under control!”

“But of course,” he said, bowing.

Morgana-Monkey hurled the meatball at the back of his bald monk head. It bounced off with a satisfying juicy splat and landed on the floor.

As there were no seats placed for diners, Eru cast Unseen Servant and directed it to bring her a chair. People stared as the chair floated through the air. She sat and enjoyed her meal, a slight smirk across her elven lips. The servant stayed at her side, invisible.

Suddenly the room filled with gasps and a man fell to the floor.

“He’s dead!!” someone yelled.

Screams ensued, the music stopped, and guards swarmed. “Out of the way,” they yelled.

The guards circled the fallen man and inspected him.

“This man has been poisoned!” The guard-in-charge looked around the room. “Everyone must talk to us and be inspected before they can leave.”

Eru panicked at the thought of the ledger being discovered, she handed it over to her servant with the instructions to fling it out the nearest open window. Distracted by the body on the floor, nobody noticed as a book floated through the air, down the hall, and out a small open window. Eru sensed her servant’s return to her side.

The guards set up a makeshift checkpoint to conduct interviews and inspect personal belongings at the front door. Mew sauntered over to the punch bowl, slipped in the pilfered claw foot, and made their way to the inspection station. When questioned as to why they were at the ball, what they had seen, and if they knew anything, Mew blew smoke up their asses and was released. Bartholomew excitedly talked about driverless carts and was ushered through quickly. Morgana-Monkey stuffed a bunch of pastries into her hat, walked up to the guard, took her top hat off, bowed, and proceeded outside. Eru blabbed about her spider having overheard a conversation earlier.

“How much have you had to drink tonight,” they asked her.

“Well, there was this incredible drink back at the Golden Cat earlier…”

“Alright, why don’t you just find yourself back at the Golden Cat,” and they pushed her out the door. Once outside, Eru retrieved the ledger near the window.

Suddenly the adventurers realized they failed to get any information on the dead man. Who was he? Why was he killed? Did anyone loot the body?! Mew began to talk to the other guests, but nobody else knew anything either.

Eru walked up to a guard, distraught.

“I left my purse inside!!”

As the guard led her back into the mansion, the Unseen Servant searched the pockets of the dead man on the floor. Eru and the guard wandered around the room in search of her “missing” purse. Once enough time had passed, Eru headed back toward the front door.

“Do you know what? How silly of me; I didn’t even bring my purse tonight.” she said.

“What? Then why did you think you forgot it?!?” the guard demanded.

“I’m just so used to always carrying it with me…but now I remember it’s back in my hotel room. I didn’t have any need to bring coin tonight. My apologies.” And the annoyed guard quickly ushered her back outside.

Once back with her friends, Eru held out her hand toward her servant. A small rolled note floated through the air and into her hand. She pocketed it for the time being.

Feigning being distraught, Mew began to yell out, “What happened to him?” and “Why did this have to happen??!!?” It didn’t draw any attention from the guards, but one man walked up to Mew.

“How did you know Dowell,” he asked.

“We knew each other when we were children,” Mew replied, sniffing. “How did you know him?”

“Through the Lord’s Alliance. He usually doesn’t, well, didn’t come to things like this. For some reason, he attended tonight.”

Mew broke down into sobs on the stranger’s shoulder, who continued to talk about Dowell. He shared that Dowell was one of the members of the council of the Lord’s Alliance.

Bartholomew wandered up to them. “I say, sir, are you talking about the foul business with the Lord’s Alliance?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Fascinating…,” Bartholomew said while stroking his non-existent beard.

“Do you know anything about it,” the man asked Bartholomew.

“Not per se.”

The man addressed his attentions to the sobbing Mew, ”Will you be going back to Long Saddle,” he asked.

“Long Saddle? How did you know I was from Long Saddle?” Mew asked, feigning puzzlement.

“Well, that’s where Dowell was from. If you two grew up together…wait. If you knew Dowell from Long Saddle, where have you been all this time?”

“Well,” Mew replied, “travelling. We’re travellers, adventuring together and just trying to do good work. We killed a banshee and a bugbear and a bunch of goblins and a troll. We’ve been rather busy. We just want to help… How did this happen?!?” and Mew broke down into more hysterical sobs on the man’s shoulder.

Uncomfortable, he asked Mew, “Who do you know at the Lord’s Alliance?”

“Therkahn Battlebeard, Eruiastanial Highguard, Sildar Hallwinter. We vanquished Glasstaff (Mew brandishes the staff). How can we avenge my childhood friend, Dowell?”

“Well, it seems like you’ve already been plenty of help,” he said and slipped away into the crowd.

Eru opened the letter, which was sealed with the Dowell’s modified seal of the Lord’s Alliance. It was addressed to the remaining councilmembers and presented theories and facts stating that the Zhentarim were behind the murder of Taern Hornblade of Silverymoon and the disappearances of Nestra Ruthiol of Yartar and Dauner Ilzimmer. She gave the letter to Mew to read and keep safe.

Mew suddenly realized that they had dispatched Glasstaff on behalf of the Zhentarim; not the Lord’s Alliance, and may have shared too much information with the stranger a few moments ago. They scanned the crowd for him, but he was gone.

Back at the Minstrel’s Waterfall, Eru turned Hùbon back into a frog, Morgana reverted to her human form, and everyone went to bed.

The next morning, they all headed to the Lord’s Alliance headquarters to talk to Sildar about the murder.The Lord’s Alliance had long suspected the Zhentarim was behind the mishaps, but had not yet pursued them. Mew mentioned that their discussion of the Zhentarim was not positively received at the party. They described the man Mew conversed with about Dowell, and Eru told Sildar about the spider-overhead conversation.

“The theory of co-conspirators has now been confirmed,” Sildar solemnly said.

“Don’t forget about the Drow in the sewers,” Bartholomew chimed in, “If you don’t take care of it soon, things are going to break down…and what about Glasstaff? Did you know him?”

“Aye,” Sildar said, “He was a friend of mine…until he defected.”

“Sildar,” Eru asked, “what about Lord Blundenwall? The murder happened at his ball. And Lord Blundenwall is known for his big balls.”

“We’re considering Blundenwall and his balls,” he replied.

“Do you know of any Zhentarim strongholds here in the city,” Mew asked.

“None that I’m aware of…but then again, we are talking about the Zhentarim.”

Mew took a few minutes to again remind Sildar about Cragmaw Castle, King Dirt, and the drow that escaped the castle.

“Yes, we’ll have to investigate that, but only after we secure power in the Lord’s Alliance once more,” he replied.

Everyone left Sildar and went about the city.

Mew searched for members of the Zhentarim collective, followed small clues, and found themself in a bakery. She gave the baker the “secret signal.”

“So, how can I help you,” the baker asked.

“Where in Neverwinter are my contacts? I’m only a Fang, but I’d like to touch base,” Mew stated.

The baker went to the door, flipped the sign to “Closed,” locked the door behind them, and turned to Mew.

“Are you looking for a job? It’s a good place to start. I can ask around, but there’s not much going on right now,” he said.

“Okay,” Mew replied, “All right. How will you get in touch with me?”

“Come back tomorrow. I may have news for you.”

Mew bought a bun, but the baker refused the money. “It’s on the house,” and he unlocked the door, flipped the sign back to “Open” and they parted ways.

Eru wandered the docks and inquired about the Moonshae Isles. All she learned was that people don’t usually go there…and those who do never return.

***
PAUSE
Game resumed May 20, 2018
The next morning, Mew and Morgana visited the bakery. As they entered, the baker flipped the “open” sign to closed, locked the door, and introduced himself as Theodore.

“Can I call you Teddy?” Morgana asked.

“Theodore is just fine,” he sneered.

“I’ll call you Teds,” Morgana said with quiet self-assurance.

Theodore explained that all of the higher-up Zhentarim were being recalled to form some sort of council, which left only lower-end tasks in Neverwinter. For instance, they had been experiencing difficulty with a particular dealer unwilling to part with coin and who was late on his regularly scheduled installments to the faction.

“Do you want him dead or alive?” Mew asked. “I’m much better at dead.”

“It would benefit us more if he were alive and paying.”

“What’s his name and what does he do,” Morgana inquired.

“His name is Brando. He works moving goats and wares down near the lower docks in the port area. He’s human, but has been known to keep associates who are not. One of his guards, Gub, is a half-human, half-ogre who may give you some trouble. He’s very, very strong. Don’t take him lightly,” Theodore instructed.

“How much does he owe,” Mew asked.

“Right now he owes 500 gold pieces. Since this is his first offense, we won’t be charging interest. Just collect the money and persuade him to continue to make his payments on time.”

Morgana whispered into Mew’s pointed ear, “What’s in it for us?”

“Do we get paid for doing this,” Mew asked Theodore.

“Of course. You’ll be given 100 gold pieces for securing our payment and ensuring future payments will be made.”

“We’ll do it. Oh, and can I buy some buns?”

Theodore handed Mew a few buns in exchange for some copper pieces and they headed out. The “open” sign was returned to its proper placement and they left.

Morgana shouted, “Thanks, Teds!” as the door closed behind them.

They headed back to the Minstrel’s Waterfall to fetch Eru and Bartholomew. Bartholomew insisted on soaking in the tub and wanted no part in the task. The three headed down to the docks. Along the way, Morgana cast Enhance Ability on Mew and Eru cast Tiny Servant on her lead spiked ball.

“Mew, what shall I call him,” she asked, holding the spike ball in her hand, its arms and legs kicking.

“Hector,” replied Mew, eyes rolling.

Eru slipped Hector into her pocket and they proceeded to the docks. The briny stench of dead fish, the taste of salt water and the sound of crying gulls met their senses. They made their way through the bustling docks that were packed with laborers, beggars, and independent merchants selling custom made products. Managing through the chaos, they found the alley described by Teds. As they walked up to the warehouse door in the back of the alley, Mew searched for traps and, finding none, rapped firmly on the door.

A panel slid open, a pair of eyes peering out into the sunlight.

“Who are you,” a man asked.

Silence from Mew.

“Who are you,” repeated the man more emphatically.

“Would you open the door already,” Mew demanded.

“What’s your business?”

“Well,” Mew said, “Fun things.”

“We’re not interested in fun things. Only money,” he said.

“Fun things involve money. We just want to have some fun,” taunted Mew.

“Not interested in fun.”

“But everyone likes to have fun,” from Mew.

“No fun. Only money!” exclaimed the man, and then he slid the panel closed.

Morgana bent down and slid a copper piece under the doorway. There was no response. She slid a second copper piece beneath the door. Again nothing happen. She shrugged, and bent down sliding her fingers under the door and fished for her two copper pieces, but they were no longer there. “Damn it” Morgana muttered under her breath. Mew knocked once more.

“We’re here to see Brando about some money.”

The panel slid open.

“Who’s askin’,” he demanded.

“Eldritch,” replied Mew.

Eru turned to look at Mew in confusion.

“Just go with it,” Mew whispered to her.

“Alright,” the man said, and he opened the door.

Once inside, they saw a couple of workers moving various-sized crates around a vast warehouse, many of which emitted various animal sounds, groans, growls, and shifting and scratching sounds; some were still and some shook violently. Eru, Mew, and Morgana were led to a man leaning up against the wall. He wore dark clothes and was adorned with gold necklaces and rings.

“Brando, these folks are here to see you,” the doorman said.

Brando turned his attention toward the three newcomers and asked what their business was.

“We want you to pay what you owe,” Mew told Brando.

“I’ll pay when I’m good and ready to pay,” he replied.

“That’s not the deal.”

“That’s the deal now,” Brando casually replied.

They went back and forth for a bit, but Brando wasn’t budging. Annoyed and frustrated, Mew cast Darkness on Brando and a thick black cloud enveloped him and the doorman. They could no longer be seen.

Eru cast Unseen Servant and asked him to enter the cloud and begin removing jewelry from Brando. The ethereal form slipped into the darkness, supposedly completing its tasks.

Morgana transformed into a giant weasel and ran into the darkness. She crawled up a random pant leg, and sunk her teeth into a leg.

“Aw, fuck!” emitted from the darkness, followed by, “Hey Gub! Get in here. We got company!!!”

A giant hulking man-creature came in from around the corner, carrying a club–that was literally a small tree trunk–over his shoulder.

“Fun! FUN!!!!” he yelled.

The leg Weasel-Morgana was on kicked around, but she held fast.

Gub charged into the room and knocked a crate over. It crashed open and a flock of birds flew up and around the warehouse. Feathers dusted the air. Gub hefted his tree-club, swung at Eru, and smashed her hard in the side. She felt a rib crack.

Mew fired a crossbow bolt at Gub, but he didn’t even flinch or notice as the bolt pinged off his shoulder.

“I told you we came in here for fun!” Mew yelled.

“This isn’t fun!” someone yelled from the darkness.

“Gub says this is fun,” Mew replied.

“GUB IS STUPID!!!” the man yelled.

The doorman suddenly bolted out of the dark cloud and ran around the back wall, hiding behind a crate. “This! Isn’t! Fun!” he shouted.

Eru looked at Gub and cast Suggestion.

“You should just go sit in the corner and look cute,” she said.

“Whua?” he mumbled, as the spell failed.

Eru mentally commanded her Unseen Servant to keep snagging jewelry off of Brando.

Weasel-Morgana crawled up to the neck of Brando and bit down.

“Aw, Fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!” he yelled from the darkness.

She jumped off, and he smacked her aside as she did so.

“I can make the darkness go away if you just agree to make the payments,” Mew suggested to Brando.

He stumbled out of the darkness, hit a wall behind him, and made his way clear of the cloud. Weasel-Morgana gnawed into his leg.

Now able to see the critter that had assaulted him, Brando made a fist and a ring began to glow. As he struck out to punch Weasel-Morgana in her weasel face, a blue spectral ram head emitted from the ring, knocking her back and reverting her to human form.

Gub swung once more at Eru, but missed.

Mew fired a bolt at Brando and the bolt sunk deep into his throat. He gurgled as he slumped up against the wall and slid to the floor, dead.

“Gub,” Mew directed their attention to the towering half-ogre, “I am your new master now. Do you want to play a game? I gave you fun. I’m a good boss. Your old boss didn’t give you enough fun.”

Gub’s eyes lit up, “You gave Gub fun! More Fun!!” and he raised his tree-club up in the air.

Eru cowered beneath it, “Not fun!!” she yelled.

“Not fun in here, Gub,” Mew commanded. “Go search the building and find more fun.”

Gub looked around the room, turned, and headed back around the corner he emerged from.

The man who had been hiding behind the crate suddenly dashed for the door and fumbled with a key. Eru cast Firebolt and blasted a hole into his torso; he crumpled into a singed heap. She sent Hector across the room to loot the body. The little spiked ball ran across the room and brought her back the key to the front door, which she slipped into her pocket.

Mew and Morgana proceeded to loot Brando. Morgana slipped the ring off the finger that had projected the ram’s head and placed it around her own finger. They procured jewelry worth approximately 25 gold pieces, which Mew put in the Kitty. They also found a ledger of his business dealings, which Morgana took.

Eru’s Unseen Servant brought her a handful of miscellaneous jewelry pilfered from Brando in the darkness, worth about 5 gold pieces. She pocketed the pieces.

Random screams could be heard from around the corner, followed by Gub’s laughter.

“Bring your favorite one to me alive,” Mew shouted to Gub.

Gub rounded the corner dragging three men behind him, one of whom appeared to have a broken leg. They whimpered and cried out when Gub stopped in front of Mew.

“Found! Next fun?!” he begged.

“Is that everyone,” Mew asked.

“No more fun…” he said.

“Okay. I’ll give you more fun soon. Can you wait three minutes?” asked Mew.

Gub looked confused.

“Three minutes is shorter than five minutes. You can do it, Gub,” Mew encouraged.

Mew then addressed the three men, “What are your jobs here?”
Two of them had been warehouse laborers and the third was a hired thug.

“Do any of you understand math?”

Two of them did. The one who didn’t, Mew killed without blinking.

“Here’s the deal,” Mew said, “One of you is about to get a promotion. How do you feel about paying bills? On time.”

They both nodded their heads in agreement.

“You,” Mew said, pointing to the guy on the left, “what kind of experience do you have with numbers and math and running a business?”

“Uh, me mum runs a bakery.”

“Excellent. And what did you do at your mother’s bakery?”

“Nothing.”

“Oh.”

The interviews went on for several minutes. They didn’t go well.

Mew gave up and addressed Gub to ask, “Which one of these men do you like better?”

“Brando. I liked Brando,” he said.

“You’re not helping…”

Eru pointed to the man on the right, “That one,” she said to Mew.

“You,” Mew addressed the man, “what’s your name?”

“Christopher.”

“Christopher, you’re now in charge. Gub will be your lead security. And you,” she addressed the other man, “you’re…?”

“Groma’s my name,” said the half-orc.

“Groma, you’re second in command,” Mew decreed with the utmost authority. “Now, do you know where Brando kept his money? Let’s find it. Five hundred gold pieces needs to be paid right now.”

“Uh, I think he kept it somewhere in the floor,” Christopher said.

Mew glanced at Gub, who immediately began the fun of smashing floorboards until a small chest was revealed. It contained about 700 gold pieces. Mew bagged up 500 gold pieces as payment and pocketed another 20 gold pieces for themselves. Morgana grabbed 10 for herself and handed 1 gold piece each to Christopher and Groma.

“Sooooo, what’s in these boxes,” Morgana asked Christopher.

“Animals. I dunno what kind, though,” he replied.

“And what do you DO with these animals,” she asked.

“Rich people like to buy them. Some locally, some we ship out. I dunno where they go.”

Mew began to pry open a crate and Morgana peered over their shoulder. Eru stood far away from the potential carnage, playing with Hector. The lid lifted and Mew thought they saw something, but *poof* it was gone. Suddenly, Mew felt a presence on their shoulder and a cold lick on their ear. Mew turned to look, but *poof* nothing was there, but their other shoulder and ear were now being accosted with licking. Catching sight of it this time, Mew saw a little fluffy dog. It was gray, white and black and had happily steely blue eyes.

“That there is Blink Corgi,” Groma said.

“It’s mine now,” Mew said, and they all walked out of the warehouse.

After dropping off the 500 gold pieces and collecting and splitting the 100 gold piece payment, they wandered toward the nearest pub to learn more about the missing merchants and the Mere of Dead Men. Mew was occupied feeding rations the new dog, so Eru awkwardly asked the bartender about the Mere of Dead Men.

“Folks say it’s full of statues of people and stuff.”

Her eyes grew wide. She knocked down her stool as she stood, “I gotta go–I’ll be right back!” she shouted behind her as she fled the pub.

Eru found the nearest potion shop and asked about anything that would revert flesh from stone or an anti-petrification spell. All of the potions and scrolls were too expensive. Desperate, she asked around for anyone that may perform spells to reverse the effects of being turned to stone. Some clerics had been known to provide the service, but at a charge of 1,500 gold pieces. Dejected, she began to wander back to the pub.

Meanwhile, Morgana downed her ale, looked at Mew and asked, “Should we kill somebody while she’s gone?”

“I like this new Drunk Morgana,” Mew replied, a twinkle in their eye.

“Would you like to do some thieving or some murdering,” Mew asked Morgana.

Morgana smiled, “I just want to have some fun!”

“Okay then. Let’s go commit some homicide,” Mew downed some ale and stood up. Morgana followed suit and stumbled out of the pub into the twilight.

“What if we picked a wealthy merchant,” Morgana asked.

“Well, those can be kind of tricky,” Mew said.

“Well-to-do nobles have a lot of money!!! Let’s go ask around and find one,” Morgana suggested and ran ahead.

Mew grabbed her by the collar, “If a noble goes missing, it can be traced back to us, especially if we were askin’ around.”

Morgana continued to ramble on about hunting and killing merchants or nobles and Mew began to have second-thoughts about Drunk Morgana’s reckless behavior. Scanning the streets for Eru, Mew began to sabotage the little crime spree.

“Eru!” Mew shouted and waved at the elf as she rounded a corner.

“Hi guys!!” Eru wandered up to them, smiling.

They decided to head back to the Minstrel’s Waterfall to plan for their trip south to the Mere of Dead Men and get a good night’s rest.

Bartholomew was still soaking in the tub when they entered the room. He looked over at the doorway, waved his tobacco pipe at them, and was surrounded by numerous platters of various cheeses.

“I thought you were lactose intolerant,” Morgana told Bartholomew.

“It’s worth it,” he smiled, and popped a chunk of cheese in his mouth.

The following morning, Morgana, Mew, and Eru ventured out into Neverwinter to learn more about the missing merchants. Word on the streets is that Krim Breakhandle was the one requesting information on them. Upon finding him, they learned about the quest. Krim had sent a caravan of four adventurers to the Mere of Dead Men to retrieve a special javelin. That was two weeks ago. If they brought back word on the status of the missing adventurers or brought back the javelin, Krim would pay 500 gold pieces. Krim made it clear, though, that he really, really wanted the javelin. Accepting the challenge, Krim related the details about the location of the Mere of Dead Men as well as a description of the missing caravan.

Walking back to the Minstrel’s Waterfall, Mew announced that the corgi shall be named Donut, in honor of the shape of its perfect eyes–and Crustulum Terrore. The dog is one the team, as far as Mew is concerned. Upon arrival, Mew asked Donut if he–or she, Mew’s too polite to look so far–wanted to go on a grand adventure with them or stay inside with Bartholomew. Donut teleported from Mew’s feet to the top of a cheese platter, nibbled a bit, and sat down. It was obvious. Food won. Mew gave Bartholomew some more dog-friendly food to feed Donut while they were away.

Two-and-one-half days of uneventful travel along the road led them to the edge of a swampland at mid-day. The Mere of Dead Men was made up of ominous, gray cloudy skies, the various sounds of critters, dense foliage of cat tails and brush, fallen trees, and thick swamp sludge. A sundry of insect clouds danced throughout the swampy lands. Eru cast Mage Armor on herself and Morgana put on her winged boots. Prior to Morgana’s departure, they came up with a series of code to communicate at a distance.

“‘Cacaw’ means danger,” she said. “And the number of clucks means the number of baddies. For example, ‘cluck, cluck, cluck” means there are three baddies. And if I meow, the number of meows means the number of BIG bad guys.”

“So,” Mew said, “if we hear ‘cacaw, cluck, cluck, meeeeow’ that means there’s danger, two bad guys, and one really, really big bad guy?”

“Correct,” Morgana replied as she flew 30 feet up and ahead. Mew and Eru trudged forward through the sludge, following Morgana.

A few minutes of flight later, Morgana spotted two lizardmen and a crocodile.

“Cacaw! Cluck, cluck, cluck!”

The lizardmen looked up and spotted Morgana. They spoke to one another in Draconic, which Morgana understood.

“Why are there people here? We need to go warn the others.”

One of the lizardmen turned and dove into the swamp, swimming back the opposite direction of their original travel.

Morgana cast Moonbeam on top of the second lizardman and the crocodile. He braced his club and spiked shield. Mew ran forward into melee range. Eru stayed back at a distance and cast Crown of Madness on the lizardman. He turned, now controlled by Eru, his eyes red and angry, and struck the crocodile with the club, but the croc moved out of the way. He then shoved the spike of his shield deep into the croc’s side. It hissed at him. He came to his senses and the madness in his eyes dissipated.

“Oh no, Betsy,” he cried out in Draconic, “I am so sorry!”

Morgana laughed from above, “Betsy….” and maintained the moonbeam.

Betsy moved out of the moonbeam and stood directly in front of Mew. Mew lunged with Talon and a dagger, but both glanced off of the crocodile’s hide. Talon’s tip submerged in the swamp.

“I’m sorry, Talon. That’s gross,” Mew apologized. But when the blade was pulled from the swamp, it was clean as a whistle. Blissful magic.

Eru pointed toward the croc and flicked a flea in its direction, which developed into a swarm that enveloped the reptile. It was pushed five feet to the left…now directly in front of Eru. Eru turned to run, but the croc snapped her up in its jaws, clamping down tight.

The lizardman ran toward Mew, swung its club and smashed Mew in the ribs. It followed through with the spike of the shield, puncturing Mew’s spleen.

Morgana flew toward the swimming lizardman and focused the moonbeam on top of his fleeing form. The swamp bubbled beneath the light.

Betsy continued to chomp on Eru, who couldn’t escape from the clenched jaws.

Mew swung Talon at the lizardman, but he stepped back and the sword missed. Frustrated, Mew disengaged and ran toward Betsy and Eru.

Eru cast Shocking Grasp and grabbed the snout of the croc. She felt the croc’s jaw tighten around her as the muscles seized.

The lizardman followed Mew, but missed with both its club and shield.

Dealing serious damage, the race between Morgana, the swimming lizardman, and the moonbeam continued.

Betsy continued to chomp on Eru.

Mew struck at the croc with the short sword, and missed, but the dagger found its mark. Mew stabbed the croc over and over and over until its jaw relaxed and Eru was freed. Betsy rolled over, dead.

The lizardman saw this and cried out, “No! Betsy!!!!!!!!!”

Mew cocked their head, “Betsy?”

Morgana watched as the swimmer emerged from the water and coughed up blood, but trudged forward. Mew began to run after the swimmer. Eru downed a healing potion and followed behind Mew. The lizardman growled and attacked Mew, but was so overcome with emotion that he missed with his club. He shoved the spike of his shield deep into Mew’s back. Mew turned around and deftly sliced his throat open with Talon. As he fell to the ground, Mew’s dagger tasted his blood once more and sliced him open as his body crumpled.

“Bastard,” Mew hissed.

Morgana laughed once more from above as the moonbeam consumed the lizardman, dealing damage until his body simply bobbed atop the swamp. She flew down to loot the body.

They found reed dolls and bone necklaces on both lizardmen. Mew and Morgana both took a necklace and a doll and Eru simply pocketed a reed doll…for later.

Morgana cast Cure Wounds on Mew and gave Eru another healing potion. Downing that potion, they continued to move ahead.

About an hour-and-a-half later, they began to see evidence of ruined buildings the distance. Continuing toward the ruins, the swamp dissipated beneath them and about 30 minutes later and the ground was solid once more. They came upon the ruins that Krim had described. Statues of people, of all races, and of all species were littered about in a great circle. All faced inwards toward the center. Some were bowing, others kneeling, and yet others were poised in fighting stances. Many were pristine and raised on pedestals, while others were broken, missing pieces, with shattered bits on the ground beneath them. Some appeared ancient and so aged by time that facial features were all withered away, while others appeared to have been carved just yesterday.

Eru took 10 minutes to focus and perform the Detect Magic ritual, but nothing among the statues glowed. They continued forward stealthily among the statues and headed toward a giant mausoleum in the center of the ruins. As they entered the dark mausoleum, Mew detached from Morgana and Eru and crept along the wall. Suddenly, magical torchlight flared along the walls, lighting up the interior of the structure. Somehow, Mew remained hidden in what little shadow was cast. At the far end of the room was a stone throne upon which sat a beautiful woman, nearly 6’5” tall, wearing a long white gown embroidered with silver and gold thread. She wore a pure white mask with jet black eyes and her head was wreathed in a halo of moving snakes. Several statues were standing along the floor in various stages of movement. One in particular caught Eru’s eye: up close near the woman’s throne stood a man wielding a javelin. The stone was slate gray, but the javelin was perfect and pristine and glowed faintly blue with magical aura.

“Oh, well, are you here to bring me gifts as all the others, or are you simply here to gaze upon my beauty,” she asked, her voice rang through the room.

“You do have a very beautiful gown,” Eru replied.

Mew continued to sneak along the wall, making their way to the throne.

“Yes, it is. Why are you here?”

“We are in search of a special javelin. That one,” Eru pointed to the statue, “to be specific.”

“And what would you give me for the javelin,” the woman asked.

“What would you like,” Eru retorted.

“I do like platinum,” she cooed.

Eru patted her coinpurse trying to figure out the money conversion of copper, silver, electrum, and gold to platinum. Frustrated with the math, she gave up. But suddenly remembered something. She reached into her satchel, pulled out an ale tankard and her platinum pipe. She cast Tiny Servant on the mug and Monte sprang to life. Mew continued to slink along the wall until they stood directly behind the throne, completely hidden and undetected.

“I have this platinum inlaid tobacco pipe,” she said, placing the pipe in Monte’s tiny hands and shooing him across the floor toward the seated woman. He stopped at her toes and reached up with his little arms, presenting the pipe. She leaned down and picked up the pipe, examining it from all angles.

“Now this is beautiful, but,” she clucked her tongue, “I cannot let you leave.”

Before she could put down the pipe, Mew unsheathed their short sword and dagger, reached around both sides of the throne, and drove the blades deep into the woman’s collarbones. She howled and Mew moved away, putting on their alabaster mask.

Eru thought, “Attack her!”, sending the command directly to Monte the Mug, who stomped his feet and threw tiny punches into her ankle.

“Go Monte!!” Morgana yelled.

A sudden hiss emitted from the doorway behind Eru and Morgana. They turned and a snake slithered into the room behind them. Morgana cast Conjure Animal and the earth in the center of the room heaved into a mound as eight giant centipedes emerged from a hole in the floor. Six of them swarmed the medusa at the throne and one bit her in the side. The other two attacked the snake in the doorway, ripping it to shreds.

“I get the mask!” Mew yelled from an unseen corner.

“I get the dress!” Eru shouted.

“I get the pipe!!!” Morgana muttered.

The medusa drew a longsword to defend herself from the ‘pede onslaught. One of her hair-snakes lashed out and tore off the head of a centipede. She swung her sword and sliced another ‘pede in half. She cut the leg off of another.

Mew pulled out their crossbow, decided in that moment to name it Delores, averted their gaze, and sunk a bolt into the medusa.

Eru moved forward and cast Suggestion, “You will give us the javelin and let us leave here,” looking at the woman. The medusa simply laughed as Eru’s legs began to turn to stone.

A snake slithered in through a hole in the wall near Mew.

Morgana stepped forward and cast Druid Craft conjuring a small rain cloud directly above the medusa’s head. A deluge of rain water pummeled the medusa, covering her in gloomy rain and overfilling Monte. The centipedes continued their attack, but only one was able to bite in all the slick wetness. Another hair-snake tore a ‘pede in two as the medusa swung her sword, killing another two centipedes.

The snake slid closer to Mew and struck out, but missed Mew’s leg. Ignoring the snake, Mew fired Delores at the medusa, but it was clear the bolt would not find purchase. The rogue disengaged and hid back in shadow.

Immediately after firing six charges of the Wand of Magic Missile into the medusa, Eru turned completely to stone, the wand still aloft in her elven hand. As Monte swung a punch at the medusa, his tiny fist punched through the trail of magic missile’s aura–somehow in a moment of the worst possible luck, connecting with Mew’s flying crossbow bolt and knocking it farther off target–and Monte’s arms and legs suddenly disappeared. He tipped sideways to the floor, once more nothing but an ale tankard.

Another snake slithered into the room. Morgana ran forward and blasted Thunderwave; the mausoleum filled with a deafening roar and the force damaged the medusa. She was not looking good. The three remaining centipedes attacked, but only two of the centipedes bit the medusa.

A snake found Mew and sunk its fangs into their calf, filling their veins with poison.

Swinging her sword once more, the medusa cleaved through two of the centipedes; their carcasses fell to the floor. Mew released a bolt at medusa and it buried itself in her gut and she now bled from several different wounds, staining the already rain-drenched gown with red. Mew ran and hid behind the statue of Eru, shouting to her stone friend about dry cleaning and bleach, but the snake quickly pursued. And another snake slithered into the mausoleum.

Morgana averted her gaze and cast Poison Spray at the medusa, filling the area of the throne with noxious gas. The snake-haired woman gasped and choked, and finally slumped dead on the throne. Morgana looked at the last remaining centipede, pet it, and said, “I shall name you Survivor.” They headed back toward Eru and Mew.

A snake attacked Mew, but missed. Survivor struck out at a snake and killed it. Mew stomped another snake. All of the snakes were dead!

Morgana retrieved the platinum pipe and the mug and put them in her pack. Mew took the mask off of the medusa’s face. Mew also stripped the medusa of the gown and set it aside in a satchel for Eru. They also found a small bag filled with gems worth 400 gold pieces. Morgana took gems worth 100 gold pieces for herself and put the remaining stones into the Kitty.

Mew inspected the statue holding the javelin and determined it was clear of traps. Morgana yanked at the javelin. It wouldn’t budge, secured tightly in the grasp of the statue. Momentarily frustrated, Mew stepped away and beheaded the medusa and Morgana closed its open eyelids. She reached over and pet Survivor, “You’re coming with us.”

They smashed off the arm of the statue holding the javelin and took the javelin with them. They decided against smashing Eru in order to retrieve her magical items and instead tied her to the back of Survivor and headed out. About 30 minutes later, Survivor disappeared in a poof and Eru sank to the marshy ground.

Morgana immediately turned into a bear and Mew lashed Eru onto the beast’s back. They continued to trudge through the swamp and made it to the edge without incident. They safely set up camp and rested. The night was quiet and uneventful.

Nearly three days later, they found themselves once more at the gates of Neverwinter. Leaving Bear-Morgana at the gate, Mew headed to the Minstrel’s Waterfall to fetch the horses and rent a cart (of course putting the cost of the rental on Sildar’s tab). Reverted back into human form, Morgana guarded Eru until Mew returned. Once secured on the rent-a-cart, they rode to the butcher and sold the medusa head for 150 gold pieces, which all went to the Kitty.

“Um,” Mew asked the butcher, “you don’t happen to know of any discount clerics here in town, do you?”

“Whatcha need,” the butcher asked.

“Someone who can unstone a person,” Morgana chimed in.

“Well, usually the temple clerics will do it for a hefty sum, but I know a guy. There may be some drawbacks, though, like missing ears and whatnot,” he said, and instructed them to meet a man in the cemetery that night.

At the appointed hour and place, they found Cellin the Cut-Rate Cleric.

“Our mutual friend told me you needed a restorative ritual,” he said. “That’ll cost about 1000 gold pieces.”

“That’s not a very big discount,” Mew said.

“Well, I can do it for less, but there’s more of a chance of messing things up,” he replied.

“Like what,” Morgana asked as the haggling began.

“I can do it for less, but it’s risky. Like she can come back with a tail.”

“She would love a tail!” both Mew and Morgana shouted out, simultaneously.

“It’s not just that,” he continued. “She could have a diminished mental capacity or not be the same person. Two days as a statue is bad for the brain.”

“Listen,” Mew said,” it’s not that we’re cheap, but we’re poor and we’re desperate. How can we knock this down further?”

Morgana suggest a 750 gold piece price, maybe 755. Mew was more inclined toward the possible quality increase for 800-850 gold pieces.

“I have this,” Morgana said as she offered up the platinum tobacco pipe.

He took it, “I can knock 100 gold pieces off the askin’ price.”

“And how do you feel about…folkloric articles,” Mew asked.

“Nope. I like money and magic,” he replied.

“Can we like put down a deposit and pay you when she’s back? She’s got gold in that coin purse of hers,” Mew asked, pointing to Eru’s stone pouch.

“Hm….that’s a nice sword,” he said as he nodded his head to Talon attached to Mew’s hip. “I can take that as collateral.”

“Not an option!” Mew snapped.

Rifling through the Kitty, Mew counted about 400 gold pieces.

“What would you discount us for these,” Morgana asked as she held out healing potions.

“Oh, about 50 gold pieces a potion.”

Mew looked at Morgana, “Not those. We need those. Here, try this,” and handed Morgana the potion of Hill Giant Strength.

“That’d shave about 300 gold off the price.”

Morgana and Mew whispered back and forth. Mew would never pay full price for anything; not even Eru. Her parents are going to kill me, Mew thought. They compiled the platinum pipe, the potion of Hill Giant Strength, and 400 gold pieces into a pile and presented them to Cellin.

“We have an accord.” Mew said, sliding him the loot. “We would like the very best you can do for 800 gold pieces.”

He snatched up the goods and gold, set them all within his own bag, and began the ritual. He began to pray and chant to the Goddess of Pain, Loviatar. After a while, the stone began to chip away from Eru’s form and as it broke from her face, she inhaled a desperate breath.
*PAUSE* Game Resumed June 24, 2018

As Eru took a breath, the rest of the stone crumbled away from her body. She looked around at her friends, the stranger, and the cemetery.

“Spin around,” Morgana cheered seeing her friend no longer stoned.

Mew helped spin Eru around as they inspected her. Nope, no signs of any physical changes. The last thing Eru remembered was firing the Wand of Magic Missile at the medusa before waking up there.

“What happened? Where’s the medusa? Where ARE we? How did we get here? Tell me EVERYTHING!” Eru implored one question after the next without waiting for any answers.

They caught her up on the battle with the medusa, their inability get the javelin, Eru’s long trek back to Neverwinter as a statue, and the fact that she appeared alive and well.

Cellin clapped his hands together, “My work here is done.” He turned and headed back toward the city.

Mew turned to follow him. And Eru moved to follow Mew.

“Eru,” Morgana grabbed her arm, “Are you hungry? Thirsty?”

“I’m parched,” Eru said.

“Here, have some water,” she said as she turned Eru toward her and handed her a flask of water.

Mew snuck after Cellin. “Cellin, I have a question.”

“Yes?”

“Are you able to identify this?” and Mew pulled out the javelin.

“I can…for 20 gold pieces.”

Mew handed him the javelin. He muttered a few words and concentrated on the piece. After a few moments, he handed it back.

“That’s a javelin of lightning. It generally sells for 2,000 gold pieces.”

“Javelin of…” Mew murmured, and looked at Cellin, “For that I’ll give you 10 gold pieces and your life.”

“Sold,” he said, sticking out his hand. Mew paid the 10 gold pieces, from the kitty, and Cellin disappeared into the night. Mew rejoined Morgana and Eru.

Heading back to the Inn, Eru’s eye caught her wrist as it was bathed in moonlight and she saw a glimmering shape on the inside of her left wrist that wasn’t there before. It resembled a cat-o-nine tails, fanned out across the width of the inside of her left wrist. Pulling away from the moonlight, the mark disappeared. It reappeared when she once more stuck her hand in the moonlight. She tried to wipe it away. It remained.

“What d’you got there, Eru?” Morgana asked as she caught sight of the glimmer.

“Nothing,” she said, as she quickly placed her left hand behind her back.

“Show me your wrist,” Morgana demanded. Eru showed her right wrist.

“No, the other one.” Eru showed her the unmarked side of her left wrist.

Narrowing her eyes and lowering her voice Morgana whispered “Eru…”.

“What? Let’s just go back to the Inn. I’m so tired,” she insisted, pulling the sleeve of her robe down further.

Mew and Morgana exchanged concerned glances about their glimpses of the mark and Eru’s uncharacteristically secretive behavior. But they dropped the subject.

Bartholomew and Aria were at the Inn when everyone arrived. Morgana and Mew explained the job they took from Krim, how they killed a medusa–but not before Eru was turned to stone, and that they couldn’t retrieve the javelin because they had to get stone-Eru out of there as soon as possible and return to Neverwinter. During their discussions, Eru summoned Hùbon and was once more reunited with her familiar. Eru offered to write her parents for gold to pay back the expenses of her restoration, but her friends refused. Everyone fell into a well-deserved slumber.

The next morning Morgana and Mew went to find a laundress to clean and mend the medusa’s gown. On their way out, Mew mentioned something about teaching Donut to thieve, but wasn’t sure anyone heard. Aria took Donut out for a walk (it turned out Donut was really good at catch…damn blink Corgi). Bartholomew ate the remains of breakfast and read his ecology book. And Eru went to the library.

Pouring through multiple tomes, scrolls, and whatever writings she could find, Eru learned that the mark on her wrist is the symbol of Loviatar, the Maiden of Pain. This mark is the symbol of cat-o-nine whip in a circle. Those with such a mark have been targeted by Her. As she read further, sweet Eru, innocent, naive Eruaistaniel of the House of Highguard knew that she

was royally

fucked.

Hoping to find a cure, she opened up a new tome and learned that each time the target is wounded, the mark grows stronger and acts as a beacon for Loviatar’s minions, who hunt down all those who are marked. In addition to pain, Loviatar is known for hurt, torture and agony. Was it physical torture? Or would the Maiden reach into the depths of her mind and cause her unbearable mental agony?

“Could I handle any sort of pain? I’m only 150 years old! I know nothing!”

Remembering back to the loss of her limb, Eru slid her hand down her reformed left calf wondering…

“What if I chop off my hand at the wrist? Will I still be marked? How do I explain this to the group? I can’t lie to Mew!”

She continued to read and found there were no references of anyone who successfully removed their marks, except by their deaths.

As she stood half pondering half talking out loud to herself about her predicament her pale skin flushed red then turned a shade of pale green and she began to sway, her vision tunneled and just as she was about to faint, the passing librarian caught her.

“Are you ok? Let me help you sit down”

Eru quickly came to her senses. Rolled up the scrolls, piled the tomes and writings and rushed out of the library mumbling something about no breakfast and a new fad diet.
Still panicked, she quickly sought out a tailor, purchased a pair of long gloves for a few copper pieces, pulled them on and covered the invisible mark.

Mew and Morgana’s dress-mending mission was a bit of a ruse. While out, they asked around Neverwinter for a person who could discreetly purchase a magical item. They were directed to a well-known buyer of such things and a meeting was set up. They met Cassius, a rotund older man and Mew immediately got the sense he was into resale. He took the offered javelin, mumbled a few words, and confirmed it to be a Javelin of Lightning.

“I’ll give you 1,000 gold pieces,” he said.

“What?” Mew countered. “We had this item previously appraised for–”
“3,000 gold pieces!” Morgana interrupted.

“Well you obviously had it appraised by a novice. It isn’t worth more than 1,400 gold pieces. I’ll tell you what. I can give you 1,200 gold pieces.”

Morgana leaned into Mew’s ear, “He’s low-balling.”

“I know,” Mew whispered back.

“I think we can find a better offer elsewhere,” Morgana haggled.

“Now Morgana,” Mew interrupted, as they looked at Cassius, “I can go as low as 2,200.”

“You drive a hard bargain. How about 1,800 gold pieces and I can offer you a discount anytime you’re buying wares in my shop,” Cassius stated.

“What percent?” Morgana blurted out.

“A friendly 10%,” he cooed.

Far away at the Inn, Bartholomew suddenly looked up from his book. “That’s TERRIBLE!” he shouted to no one, looking around for what caused the outburst. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he resumed reading. At that same moment, Donut barked a few times at Aria as they walked down a random street in Neverwinter.

“What? What’s wrong boy?” she asked.

“Woof Woof Woof,” he replied. (Something shady was going on somewhere….)

“How about we split the difference,” Mew offered, “and you give us 2,000 gold. This javelin was ripped from the hands of a medusa. That tale alone should up the resale value.”

“A medusa you say? I can go up to 1,900 gold pieces,” Cassius replied.

“How about 1,900 and a healing potion,” Morgana piped in.

“A greater healing potion,” Mew elaborated.

“Hmmm,” he said, “I can go 1,800 gold plus a greater healing potion.”

“Let me confer with my associate,” and Mew and Morgana put their heads together and whispered. “Okay, how about 1,900 gold and a regular healing potion? We’d prefer two healing potions–I know you can make them for cheaper than they sell.”

“Two regular healing potions and 1,900 gold pieces it is.”

“Sold!!” Mew nearly shouted as they shook hands. Cassius handed them a large coin purse and they found somewhere private to split the gold and healing potions between the two of them. Then Morgana and Mew set out to find a local laundress and paid a few gold pieces (out of the Kitty) to have Eru’s new gown cleaned and the holes mended.

Upon their return to the Inn, Eru immediately changed into the white gown, spinning ‘round. Morgana eyed Eru’s gloved hands and wrists suspiciously. Mew pretended not to notice.

They all decided to head back to Krim Breakhandle to inform him of their findings in the Mere of Dead Men. Before they left, they decided Mew would do all the talking so Morgana cast Enhance Ability of Eagle’s Splendor and boosted Mew’s silver charisma tongue. They met up with Krim in a small deserted alley. He was a beautiful High Elf, dressed in ruffled white shirt and dark purple jacket. He had a large guard with him, the strong silent type, who wore a large metal helmet that blocked 99% of his face.

“So, you’ve returned. Any news?” Krim asked.

Mew responded, “Unfortunately, all we have is news. And it’s not the best.”

“I see. Continue,” Krim pressed.

“We located what we believe to be the party that you originally sent out two weeks ago,” and Mew consulted Morgana’s notes. “Two dwarf clerics, one half-elf wielding a greatsword, and a human with just a regular sword. It appears they ran into the medusa.”

“She was there? WONDERFUL!!,” he exclaimed in wonder, with no misgivings voiced for the lost party. “Was the javelin there?”

“I don’t know,” Mew stated flatly. “I was a little distracted trying to save Eru. You know, she was turned to stone.”

“And there were snakes and centipedes,” Morgana added.

“And do you know how costly it was to restore Eru to the flesh? Not to mention she’s been rendered mute in the process.” Mew chimed in, looking at Eru.

“Your friend is not my concern. You, and she, knew the risks of the Mere. As did the other four before you.”

“Would you be willing to pay us more to cover the costs of the restoration?” Mew inquired. “It would go a long way toward solidifying future business arrangements.”

“More? Why would I pay more? The risks of the job. So, what news of the javelin?” He looked around at each of their hands and packs, “Did you find it?”

“Again, I was a little distracted. I didn’t see a javelin,” Mew replied.

“I was busy fighting a medusa,” Morgana chimed in.

Krim pointed at Eru, “Did she see it?”

“Eru,” Mew, now hoping that news of the javelin might net them more gold, turned to Eru and asked, “did you see a javelin?”

Eru grabbed a piece of parchment from her scholar’s pack and hastily scribbled a note, flashing it to Mew. “Held stone hand” is all it read.

“Eru says it was held in the hands of one of the statues,” Mew informed Krim, tucking the note away. “Now, you owe us 500 gold pieces. Information or the javelin. And we brought you what we knew.”

“You’re right,” Krim told Mew. “However…I’d be willing to pay the 500, plus an additional 1,000 gold pieces if you capture the medusa and bring it to me.”

Aria scoffed, “I don’t think that’s worth the risk. We all saw what happened to Eru.”

“Well, your friend should have been more careful,” Krim chided.

“What would you pay for just the head of the medusa?” interjected Mew, remembering that the head was safely stowed waiting for them to get to Barry’s butcher friend.

“Nothing!” scoffed Krim. “Alive or no deal.”

“No deal, Krim, we’ll take our payment now. You can send another group to pursue the medusa and the javelin.” Mew stated.

Krim pulled out a coin purse and handed it to Mew. Before they turned away, Aria checked out the mysterious guard more closely. She spoke to him in Infernal, “Hello there.” There was no response, but his face twitched. It was obvious Aria caught his attention.

“Maybe we should just kill them. I mean we’re in an alley,” Aria whispered to Mew.

Mew bristled as the guard flinched at Aria’s suggestion. Morgana caught the shift in Mew’s demeanor and panicked, sensing something coming. Mumbling a few arcane words beneath her breath and using a specific hand gesture, Morgana cast Charm Person on the guard. Nothing happened…well, nothing except the air in the alleyway became still and tense. Not only Mew bristled now, but the guard too. And Krim grew wary. Sensing the tension, and seeing the large axe the guard wielded, Aria cast Blade Ward on herself and backed up.

Mew ran up with the Spider Staff and swung at Krim, arcing in a circle. Krim danced around the staff and Mew missed completely; finishing off the spin by disengaging and backing into the alley further. Eru cast Suggestion on Krim, “You’ll pay us the full 1,000 GP price and be about your merry day”

Krim’s eyes hazed over with an arcane aura. He stood slightly straighter, withdrew a second coin purse with another 5 platinum pieces and handed it to Mew, “Here. Reparations for your friend.” He nudged the guard and they turned and walked down the alley.

Eru leaned over to Mew and whispered, “We only have about 8 hours before the spell fades. We need to get out of here…now.” Mew looked at her and handed Eru the two coin purses.

“Why don’t you head back to the Inn and divvy up the money. We’ll join you shortly,” Mew told her.

Eru summoned Monte, plopped the bags within his hollow body, and walked back to the Minstrel’s Waterfall and began counting the funds. It didn’t take long to divvy up 10 platinum pieces among five people, and she spent some time reading her books and talking to Hùbon.

Meanwhile, everyone else followed Krim and the guard. Catching up to Krim, Morgana offered to buy them drinks. “To continue the merry day,” Mew added, standing close enough to the guard to realize he emitted a steady heat.

“Aw, to continue with the merry day,” Krim smiled, wide.

“What about a private pub? Do you know of one that, you know, mixes in exotic powders that may…well…alter states?” Morgana asked.

Krim thought for a moment, ”Aw, yes. Follow me!” and he marched off with his guard in tow. He led them down a few backstreets and to a long brick wall in the richer district of Neverwinter. He rapped on the wall and a secret door slid open. They stepped into a torchlit room filled with a light purple haze. There were lounge chairs throughout and a long bar at the far end. And, much to the party’s delight, nobody else around except a female bartender at the bar.

“Tammy!!!” Krim exclaimed as he walked across the empty floor and rapped the bar. “Give me and my friends here your finest,” and he winked as he tossed a platinum piece on the bar.

She brought everyone a round of drinks. Morgana pretended to sip hers.

Mew followed Tammy back to the bar. “So, what do you know about Krim and his friend?”

“Oh, he comes here often enough. He’s a good customer. I know that he collects exotic creatures.”

“Really?” Mew asked, interested as they tucked that fun fact away. “Hey, do you know what race that guard is?”

“Nope. I’ve never seen under that helm.”

“Krim is an incredibly generous man,” Mew cooed. “We are so grateful. Did you know he paid us back for having to unpetrify our friend? And he even offered us another job. AND he bought us these fabulous drinks tonight. He’s just so…wonderful.”

Tammy sighed, not buying the thick bullshit Mew was selling, “I’m sure he was great, but it’s none of my business.” And she began wiping the bar clean. Mew took a hint and wandered back toward the group.

Aria walked right up to the guard and offered him a drink. He didn’t respond. While so close to his face, she spied a bit under the helmet. He had blood red skin and pitch black eyes. She walked away with the offered tankard. She petted Donut and whispered in his ear, “Go teleport right in front of that guy,” pointing to the guard.

*Blink* and Donut disappeared and reappeared right in front of the guard. Again, no reaction.

Bartholomew walked up to him. “Excuse me, sir. Would you like some cheese?” And he pulled a few cubes out of his pockets. Still no response from the guard.

“So, what’s up with him,” Aria asked an intoxicated Krim, pointing to the guard.

“Kriz’Ak is like,” Krim slurred, “a fiend or something. I hired him a long, long time ago.”

“What do you pay him,” Mew asked.

“Pay? Oh, no. I don’t pay. He’s bound to work for me.”

“How do you manage that,” Morgana asked.

“Well, I paid for someone to go to the Nine Hells and find me a Succubus for my collection. Instead, they came home with,” Krim points, “him. Kriz’Ak works for me. He’s not fun, though.”

“What does he like,” Aria asked.

“Like? He likes…he likes…hey Kriz’Ak, what do you like?” Krim asked his guard.

No response.

“He likes to hurt people.” Krim answered on his behalf.

Morgana gingerly switched tankards with Krim’s that was resting on the table beside him. He absent-mindedly picked it up and continued drinking. He continued to slip into a more and more relaxed and drunken state.

“So,” Mew pried, “How does one go about binding someone?”

“Aaaaanciiient magic,” he whispered mysteriously. “Soul Stones, you know, stuff like that.” He explained the premise of soul stones in his inebriated state: they capture the essence of a creature and the poor creature is bound to the owner of the stone. “I don’t really know how it works.”

“Where’s your soul stone now,” Bartholomew asked. “Is it, like, in your pocket?”

“Not my pocket. It’s hidden away, Little One.”

“I’m not little,” Bartholomew mumbled.

Mew nestled up beside the guard and pulled the alabaster mask out. Morgana noticed the uncharacteristic advance and cast Control Flame on the torches, making small figurines dancing within the purple torchlight to distract the others from Mew’s actions.

“Tammy! You have done wonders here lately!!” he praised the barmaid, completely distracted by the dancing flames and oblivious of Mew’s actions.

Engraved inside the mask were a list of names that only Mew knew about, and they flashed the interior list to the guard. Mew whispered, “I would like to try to free you. See?” There was, of course, no response.

“Krim,” Mew stood aside and asked the finely-dressed elf, “can we go somewhere…private? Like, I’d love to see some of those exotic animals I’ve heard so much about.”

Krim’s eyes lit up, even in their drunken stupor, “YES! Oh yes! Do follow me!! Kriz’Ak, we’re going!” And he leads everyone outside and into the night.

Eru had finished counting the funds two hours ago and busied herself with reading. However, she grew increasingly worried about the whereabouts of her friends. She grabbed Monte and Hùbon and left the Inn.

After about twenty minutes of following Krim, Donut began barking while peering from within Mew’s satchel. He whined and sort of Corgi-pointed down the street. A vaguely Eru-shaped silhouette approached from afar. “Go get her, Donut,” Morgana yelled. *Blink* Donut phased out of the satchel and appeared about 15 feet away. Everyone watched as he blinked in and out of existence as he steadily got closer to Eru. Eru noticed from her perspective as a little speck began to grow increasingly nearer, until she saw (and heard) a very excited Donut. *woof woof* and he blinked his way back to the party with Eru following behind. Follow the Bouncing Corgi.

They were led through the streets of Neverwinter until they eventually came upon a great gated mansion. Guards intermittently walked the perimeter and the interior. Mew, Eru, and Aria all sensed a magical aura throughout the complex. And down they went, descending two flights of stairs into the belly of the mansion, through halls and into a large chamber. Krim looked in need of more drink, so Morgana offered him some ale and Eru had it poured in Monte. She handed it to Krim who lit up.

“This! I want THIS!” he said, referring to the squirming mug.

“Oh, no. He’s not for sale. He’s my friend,” she said.

“But…I want him! I’ll give you 200 gold pieces.”

“What? Never!” Eru said, offended.

“Fine. I must have him. 300 gold pieces,” Krim countered.

Eru thought for a moment and realized she could make more Montes…“If you must have him, I’ll take 500 gold pieces.”

“Mine!” he squealed, passing Eru five platinum pieces, which she stuck into her coin purse. Morgana had to shut her gaping mouth.

Krim emptied the tankard and slipped Monte into his pant’s pocket. And the lump of a tankard quickly vanished and the pocket appeared empty once more. Eru could no longer feel the link she shared with her tankard-friend.

“Hey,” Bartholomew wandered up, “Where does that pocket go?”

“Yes,” Mew chimed in, “does it go to another dimension or is it just bigger on the inside?”

“I dunno,” he hiccuped.

“I can reach in there and find out,” Bartholomew offered.

“Um, no thank you, sir,” and he batted Bartholomew’s approaching hand away.

“Well, how do you pull things out of your pocket,” the Halfling monk asked Krim.

“Like this,” and Krim reached into his pocket and pulled out Monte. Monte was simply a pewter ale tankard, no arms or legs dangling. He shook the mug at Eru, “What’s wrong?”

She winced on the inside before quickly responding, “Oh? He’s just sleeping.”

Krim shook it further, “How do I wake him?”

“You don’t. He needs to sleep. Maybe he’ll wake up in an hour,” she suggested.

“Okay,” and Krim put the tankard back into his magical pocket.

Krim was then barraged with questions about the pocket and let slip that anything he put in there alive came out dead, and in order to get something out of it, all he had to do was think about the thing he wanted. When the questions got a little… inappropriate, Mew interceded.

“So…about those animals,” Mew prodded.

“YES!” Krim yelped, and led them further down a hallway. They came to a large door, barred with an iron beam. “Kriz’Ak, if you would,” he motioned to the guard.

Kriz’Ak stepped forward and lifted the heavy iron beam, and even he appeared to struggle with the weight. A mighty thud clanged as the beam landed on the floor. Kriz’Ak pushed the door open and stood aside. They entered a well-lit room separated by blue shimmering walls – magical barriers. Each walled segment contained one magical creature: a coeurl, two or three goblins, and a weird unknown humanoid with tan skin. While nobody else knew what the tan-skinned being was, Mew silently recognized it from the Underdark…a sort of Brain Bear: it had four limbs and was a massive brain and was nothing to be trifled with. Each of the creatures appeared to be alone and in some form of frozen stasis.

While walking, Aria bumped into Krim, spilling her ale on his pants.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I can clean those for you,” she says, patting the wet pants.

“No, no, that’s alright,” Krim says, “I have someone who does that for me.”

“Hey Krim, if you need more creatures, we know where a bunch of goblins live,” Eru suggested.

“I have no interest in more goblins,” he said with a bit of disgust.

“Well, how about a unicorn,” Aria suggested. Krim’s eyes once more lit up.

“Well, it’s like a unicorn-pegasus,” Mew corrected. Further interest gleamed behind Krim’s eyes.

“Tell me more,” he said.

“It would be a long and difficult journey,” Aria started, “and we could capture it and bring it to you in about two years. For good coin,” she finished.

“Two years? Well, I can just have someone else find it for me,” he replied.

“You can’t,” Aria said. “Only we know the location of the beast.”

“You’d be surprised what people can learn with a lot of money,” he arrogantly cut the conversation off.

“Krim?” Morgana asked, “Do you have any more exotic ones? Like, what’s your favorite one?”

“My favorite!” and he hurriedly moved to another magical barrier,” is THIS ONE!” A fire elemental burned inside the magical barrier. “This one was captured down south. And not by anyone…I DID THIS!” He beamed with pride. “I didn’t have to pay anyone else to do it for me!”

“What does it do,” Mew asked.

“It…it just sits there,” he babbled.

“Where did you find it,” Morgana asked.

“South, in Zakhara,” he beamed.

“Where is that?”

“It’s south of us. A dangerous place. It was once an ancient civilization, but it’s now overrun with elementals.” Krim began to sway and he looked at Kriz’Ak. “Well,” he said, “I should get to bed. Kriz’Ak – ” And he quickly jumped up and into the arms of his guard and they began to walk out.

“Excuse me,” Mew interrupted their exit, “What are we supposed to do?”

Krim yawned, “I’ll have someone escort you out.” And they continued walking out.

“Um, do you have a bathroom,” Aria and Bartholomew both asked. Krim pointed toward a doorway as they walked past, then he promptly passed out in Kriz’Ak’s arms. Bartholomew and Aria headed into the bathroom.

Mew attempted to pick Krim’s pockets as they walked by. Kriz’Ak’s large gauntleted hand stopped the attempt by seizing Mew’s wrist. It burned.

“Do. Not. Touch. Him.” he said, blocking Mew’s attempt.

“I knew you could speak!!” Mew responded, moving themselves away due to the intense heat Kriz’Ak emitted. “We’re trying to help you, Kriz’Ak. We’d like to free you from Krim’s control. If we can find the soul stone, we can set you free of him. You can be free! Let us help you!!”

Eru saw the ongoing exchange of Mew’s babbling to Kirz’Ak’s apathy and immediately cast Charm Person on Kriz’Ak, but it fizzled out and failed. He turned, dropped the unconscious Krim to the ground, and growled, “Enough of this! Let’s have some fun…”

Mew smiled and yelled, “You know Gub!!”

Kriz’Ak turned his gaze toward Mew, spun a spear in his hand while the tip glowed with embers before a bolt of fire blasted out. “That’s beautif – “ Mew began to say, before the bolt blasted them to the ground in pain. “Get the soul stone from his pants,” they squeaked out between breaths. Kriz’Ak fired another bolt at Mew, which struck…hard.

Bartholomew stepped out from the bathroom, a piece of toilet parchment trailing from the bottom of his boot. He ran up to the unconscious Krim and began rummaging through his pants pockets. They were empty, but his arm disappeared up to the shoulder. He thought hard about the Soul Stone and reached into the pocket once more, nothing. Then he thought about Monte and reached in again…nothing. He bent down and peered into the open pocket. It appeared to be a normal, empty pocket.

“Rip his pants off!!!” Morgana yelled from down the hallway. Bartholomew began to undo Krim’s boots and belt.

Mew stood and swung Talon, hit Kriz’Ak, and backed away down the hallway. The guard simply laughed and shrugged off the strike.

Morgana muttered a few words and eight badgers came running down the hallway. Seven of them surrounded Kriz’Ak and one ambled near Krim. Kriz’Ak’s armor suddenly emitted flames from the bottom, singing three of the badgers. He then turned to look at Bartholomew struggling with the pants.

“You,” he said to Bartholomew, “help me.”

“No, I’m pulling off pants,” Bartholomew said as the charm spell faltered.

Kriz’Ak swung his spear and shoved it into one of the singed badgers, but it survived the blow.

Peering from behind the bathroom door, Aria cast Eldritch Blast toward Kriz’Ak. One beam was a direct hit, but the other flew wide. Eru followed by blasting six charges from her Wand of Magic Missile. Each pierced his armor and the holes they left began to fill with dripping, molten blood.

Aria chuckled, “Too bad we don’t have any marshmallows.”

Kriz’Aks’ armor once more flamed up, toasting a badger, which poofed away into oblivion. The tip of his spear once more began to glow and he pointed it at Eru, both bolts hitting her hard.

Finally able to tear off Krim’s pants and reveal Krim’s matching dark purple boxers, Bartholomew pulled the stolen pants over his clothes. The pants were massive for his Halfling form and he cinched the belt tight and rolled up the hems. He reached into the pocket and thought of the Soul Stone; he came up empty-handed. He tried once more for Monte, but again, nothing. He thought of ANYTHING that might be in the magical pocket, but came up once more with nothing. He checked the other pocket, but it was just a regular pocket. Frustrated, he took off the pants and flung them over his shoulder and ran out up the stairs.

Mew pulled Delores, the crossbow, off her back, loaded a bolt, and fired. It struck Kriz’Ak, but he wiped the bolt aside and laughed. Mew ran toward him.

Morgana cast Thunderwave and also turned into a large brown bear. The wave managed to do some damage to Kriz’Ak, as did the three badgers that bit his legs. Unfortunately, his armor once more flashed in flames and the three badgers disappeared in puffs of smoke.

He pointed toward bear-Morgana, “Join me,” he commanded and her eyes flared up with a red fury as she growled.

Eru cast Unseen Servant and asked it to pry the spear from Kriz’Ak’s hands. He stood there as the spear feebly moved back and forth, but didn’t budge from his grasp. Eru ran through the doorway into the room with the creatures and hid behind the corner.

Kriz’Ak killed two more badgers and focused his spear tip on Bartholomew’s retreating form, striking him in the back. “Ooooooh,” Bartholomew called back as he continued to run. The sounds of the fight echoed along the halls around Bartholomew and he could hear the crashing boots of guards running toward them. He drew his sword and waited.

A bolt flew from Delores once more as Mew fired at Kriz’Ak, but it bounced off of his plate armor. Mew ran toward the bathroom, but Aria blocked the door. Mew pushed her aside and stepped deeper into the latrine.

Bear-Morgana loped toward Krim and bit down on the badger that stood next to him. It hissed in its jaws. The squirming badger dodged the subsequent claw attack from the bear.

A badger bit Kriz’Ak, but was once more struck by the spear and disappeared in a magical swirl of smoke. The angry guard stomped toward the barely-open bathroom door.

Spying him coming, Aria shouted, “Stop. We are on a special quest from the Dark One. You must not interfere.”

“Then step outside,” Kriz’Ak responded.

“No!” she shouted. Looking toward Mew behind her, “Mew, do you have any ideas?”

“Fucking attack him,” Mew hissed. “Remind him the Soul Stone will set him free.”

Aria unleashed another Eldritch Blast. “Tell us where the Soul Stone is,” she called as the beam singed his shoulder.

“You will never be able to find it,” he growled.

“Convince him to let us help him find it,” Mew whispered.

Instead, Aria fired another Eldritch Blast directly into Kriz’Ak’s face. The helmet flew off and revealed two horns. Eru fired a Firebolt from around her hiding place, but it missed. Kriz’Ak forced open the bathroom door and fired the spear at Aria. One of the two bolts struck.

“Sick ‘em, Bear,” he commanded.

At this point, Bartholomew managed to run up the stairs to meet the 12 approaching guards. “You have to get in there. Kriz’Ak’s is going crazy!!”

One guard grumbled, “I figured this would happen. C’mon!” and they rallied and charged toward the room downstairs. Bartholomew ran behind them, the pants flapping like a banner behind him.

Mew fired Delores, but missed again. Bear-Morgana peered into the bathroom and snapped and clawed at Aria. “HEY!!!” she yelled.

Satisfied with the bathroom scenario, Kriz’Ak turned his focus once more toward Eru. He ran down the hall and through the doorway where she hid. Swinging at her with his spear, he smacked her upside the head and she fell unconscious.

Aria fired Eldritch Blast at Bear-Morgana and the red madness faded from her eyes. “Are you back?” Aria asked.

“Rawr,” was the bear’s response. Aria scratched her behind her bear-ears.

Kriz’Ak turned and suddenly his plate armor shattered. Large wings unfurled around him and he flew across the hall to Krim’s side and scooped him up. A slit appeared in the air before them, which emitted an intense, shimmering heat. Kriz’Ak flew through, with Krim in his arms, and the air shimmered shut behind them. They had vanished.

Behind the guards that had just arrived, Bartholomew shouted, “Oh My Gods, where’d he go?”

Arriving just in time to witness the “kidnapping,” the lead guard shouted “I don’t know!? He’s never done this!” The guard noticed the bear in the hall, and Bear-Morgana raised her big paw and waved.

“Who are you people?” he asked as he looked at Bear-Morgana, Aria, and finally Bartholomew. Mew, now disguised as the Earl of Duque, stepped out of the bathroom.

“We came here to look at Krim’s exotic animals,” Mew said, feigning distress. “Now we just want to leave.”

“No. No one can leave until we sort this out,” the guard said. “You will stay here, in comfort. Come with us until we figure this out. Let us go upstairs.” Morgana reverted to her human form and the 12 guards ushered Bartholomew, Morgana, Aria, and the Earl of Duque upstairs. They were escorted into a large bedroom, decent quarters but with no windows. Guards were posted outside the locked doors.

Eru remained unconscious and forgotten, tucked around the corner of the doorway in the chamber which housed the creatures frozen in magical stasis.
**PAUSE**
Eru came to consciousness with no sounds of battle. She looked around and found herself alone (except for Krim’s frozen “pets”). Peering down at herself she noticed that she was covered in cuts but there were no signs of blood. Upon a closer look Eru saw the tattoo of Loviatar pulsing red through her gloves.

“Fuckballs,” Eru said under her breath. “Well this isn’t good.”

Not wanting to be alone, Eru cast Unseen Servant to tag along with her. Continuing to talk out loud to herself, “An hour with a dude is better than… an hour without a dude.”

She tentatively peered around the corner, and saw what looked like scorch marks around the room from the battle that had just taken place. Still finding herself alone, she creeped up the stairs and again looked around the corner. The mansion seemed to be busy with the hustle and bustle of servants and guards moving about at hurried pace. On the opposite side of the room she noticed a room with four guards posted around the outside of a door.

“What do I do?” Eru loudly whispered.

Seeing a servant passing close to her she called out to him, “Excuse me, excuse me!”

“Yes?”

“I was down there with my friends and, and, umm…” Eru trailed off.

“Oh, you were with the others?”

“Uh yes…. You….”

“One, one second.”

“There’s nothing else to do,” Eru said, loudly justifying to herself about acknowledging her presence. The man quickly ran over to a group of guards and briefly spoke to them pointing to Eru. The three guards headed over to Eru.

“You were with the others?”

Still nervous, Eru said, “Uhhh, yeah, do you know where… where, where they went? Are they ok?”

“Yes they are fine. If you will come with me, I can bring you to them.”

Eru just stared at the guards and said nothing for awhile and then blurted out “OKAY!”

The three guards led Eru to the door across the room where four other guards stood. She quickly gestured to her Unseen Servant to stay outside the door. One of the guards unlocked the door and as the door opened, Crustulum Terrore saw a cut-up Eru standing outside their room.

“HI GUYS! What’s going on?” Eru exclaimed delighted that she was no longer alone. The door shut behind her.

Bartholomew began to explain what happened to the party. “Kriz’Ak made a portal and took Krim through it. We told the guards that Kriz’Ak had betrayed Krim and was taken away.”

Morgana interjected, “We were stuck in the middle of it we didn’t know what…. He just went crazy.”

“I have pants, though,” Bartholomew said proudly. “I don’t know if you saw that or not.”

“I saw you get the pants” Eru giggled.

“Ok, Ok!”

“You just need to mend them,” Eru said.

Morgana, noticing that Eru wasn’t looking 100%, asked Eru, “How you feelin?”

“Who me?” Eru asked confused.

Morgana, rolling her eyes, “Yes you.”

“I would really like a little bit of healing if I could have some.”

“Would you?” Morgana asked making sure.

“Yes, I would.”

As Morgana cast Cure Wounds, Eru yelled out, “Give it to me baby!”

Somewhere in the distance the group heard someone yell, “She’s a witch!”

“Thank you,” Eru told Morgana.

“You’re welcome.”

Eru hesitantly spoke to the party “So, I’m going to share a bit of bad news, since I took a nappy nap, Krim is likely no longer under my spell.”

“Oh” Bartholomew whispered under his breath.

Confused Morgana asked, “Why not?”

“Because it’s a concentration spell….”

Interrupting, Morgana realizing what it means, ”And you got knocked out….”

Eru continued, “And I got knocked out and lost my focus.”

Mew sighed, “Oh god.”

“…So when he gets back we are all going to get in trouble.”

“Oh!” Barry cried out.

“So we gotta figure out how to get out of this room and out of this damn house.”

Excitedly Mew exclaimed, “I HAVE AN IDEA!”

Desperate, Morgana and Eru both yelled, “What’s your idea?”
“Oh and Eru, I’m so excited you’re not dead. I was thinking that maybe if we talk to the guards or whatever we call the… servant-y people… ‘cause I’m curious to find out how many of them are captives and slaves. And if they might be willing to get us in contact with the Guard somehow? Or the City Guard/police-y people, whatever they are called? And maybe we could actually get out because we’re ready to cry foul? And they can’t hold us prisoner ‘cause that’s another crime… and uhhhh we have no windows but maybe…Donut can blink out and pretend that Donut is Lassie?…”

There is an awkward pause where no one in the party said anything.

“Well that’s my very, thin plan” Mew finished hesitantly.

Looking around the room they notice a bed, a writing desk, a small wardrobe and no windows or bathroom, and an escape plan began to form.
“Barry, is that cheese getting to you?” Eru inquired with a giggle.
“Well that’s one way to get out,” He mumbled to himself.

Bartholomew found some parchment paper in the desk which he quickly snatched up. Mew opened the wardrobe looking for a secret door and was disappointed to find nothing. Bartholomew was particularly disappointed that there were no secret worlds behind the wardrobe. Morgana silently wondered, “Is our Monk high? Or does he know of magical places that are entered through wardrobes?”

Eru proceeded to tell the party that earlier she cast Unseen Servant and left it outside the door. “The only thing I can think of having him do is possibly have him try get him a key, but I’m telling you there’s four guys right outside the door and there is no way we are getting out unless those guys are out. My guy can get a key, or tickle somebody, or pull down some pants, or cause a distraction or something.”

“We could try politely conversing with them first,” Mew logically stated.

“Sure. You’re good at that. I’m not good at that,” Eru babbled.

“Yeah, let’s do that.” Bartholomew quickly agreed.

“You’re really good at that.” Morgana agreed.

“I’m the Earl of Duque right now, so let me go try to…throw some… royal weight around. Oh wow, I’m totally believable right now.” Mew said mocking her own confidence. ”But I’m up for other options, too.”

“I think we should hide Donut right now, because they saw me as a bear, so if I need to stealthily get out somehow while you are talking to them and maybe if they see Donut you can tell them I’m Donut. Like as a contingency plan.” Morgana plotted.

“That sounds good,” Mew agreed.

“But you weren’t a bear when they saw you in the other room.” The absent-minded Monk told Morgana.

She explained to Bartholomew that she was a bear when the guards first came running down the stairs. “They know I have the ability to change into certain things, so they might see that I say… feel most comfortable as a corgi. You guys can lie to them and say, ‘Oh well she likes changing into things.’ Just in case something comes up. I’ll stay in human form for right now.”

“Got’cha!” Bartholomew said nodding his head.

“That sounds good,” Mew chimed in.

“I can also…” Eru began, “uugggghhh gods it’s going to fail! So, if you want I can try Charm Person on two of them but it’s probably going to fail, because that’s what I do.” Eru said hanging her head. “Or if things go freaking south I can try to use my feminine wiles and try to charm them.” Eru didn’t sound any more confident with this second statement than the first.

“I say you charm the ones that look like they have a higher ranking, maybe? So they can tell the other ones not to do things. Or to do things. Or whatever?” Morgana said with all lack of confidence.

“I am all about trying your silver tongue first Ms. Mew,” Eru interjected.

“Yeah agreed! Silver tongue first,” Morgana agreed.

The Earl of Duque walked up to the door with an air of superiority and arrogance and knocked on the door.

“What do you need?” the party heard from the other side of the door.

“I would like to talk to someone who is in charge, please.”

“Uhhh, why you need to do that?”

“Well, you are holding us for an unknown amount of time in a room with no windows, no lavatory, no food. This is seeming more like a kidnapping/prisoner kind of situation and that just, that’s not ok.”

“Well, ya’ll were fighting in the house,” the guard said defensively.

Becoming more confident Mew continued her charade. “I would like to speak to someone in charge, we were invited here as guests. And we were having a wonderful time with our newfound friend, and then the big scary dude just went crazy. And we tried to stop him. And you saw what he did and now we are being held prisoner because we tried to help save the master of this house.”

“Well, until Lord Krim gets back, I’m not sure that we can let you go.”

“Who’s in charge until he gets back?” Mew persisted.

“Uhhhhh, well, hmmmm,” the guard reluctantly sighed. “All right, I’ll go find Gareth. See what he can do. I can bring you food, I guess”.

“That would be nice!” Bartholomew chimed in.

“That would be excellent and we are going to need a lavatory and I, I am an Earl,” Mew continued imperiously. “I am not peeing in a pot, so I will need to be escorted to the restroom.”

Agreeing the guard said, “We could probably do that–but only one at a time”.

The group heard some shuffling on the other side of the door and about five minutes later, they heard a different voice at the door.

“So, they say that you want to go to the restroom?” Gareth inquired.

“I would like to be let out, honestly. We would all like to be let out. We have done nothing wrong,” Mew continued.

“Well, the way I see it is that you come in with Krim, and you eventually get into some kind of brawl with his bodyguard. I can’t really let that go until I figure out what’s happened down here.”

With all confidence, thinking she can get the party out of this situation, Morgana interrupted. “Well, I heard when Bartholomew, our friend here, was going up stairs to try to find help for us, I heard a guard say, ‘I knew this would happen!’ So what’s up with the big guy?”

“Well, some of the troops don’t quite like him because he’s not human.”

“So, is he untrustworthy? Would he do something like this to INNOCENT people? Such as ourselves? And the Duque?” Morgana haughtily countered.

“I’ve never seen him do this to someone innocent,” Gareth responded.

Morgana quickly shut down and whispered under her breath, “Touché!” She then started coughing pretending she could no longer speak.

With quick thinking, Mew, The Earl of Duque, stepped in. “Are you calling our honor into question, sir?”

From my point of view, things seem a little fishy. We are just going to wait around for a little while. We’ll give you accommodations and we’ll treat you properly. But we can’t have you leaving.”

“Hmmmm,” Bartholomew mused.

Not relenting, Mew continued. “That is not acceptable. We are not going to be held for an unknown amount of time. That is not acceptable. You need to contact the Guard.”

“Unfortunately for you, you’ve got no way to contact the guard so we are going to have to keep you here for now,” Gareth said with a bit of smugness in his tone.

Ceasing to let go of the argument the Rogue countered, “So you are telling me you ARE olding us prisoner?”

“We are….”

Interrupting Gareth, Mew went on. “I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, also I’m pretty sure all the stuff going on in your basement is TOTALLY illegal. This guy has a slave for a bodyguard. Are you slaves, too? Is he controlling you? How well are you paid?”

Rolling his eyes and sighing Gareth defended, “No ma’am, we are not slaves, but how about we get you some food. You seem a little on edge here.”

“You wouldn’t want to go to jail for your…”

Exasperated Gareth interrupted Mew “You’re on our property so this how it’s going to have to be”.

“I’m sorry this is a co-op?” Mew continued pushing the guard’s buttons.

“What?” Gareth said, sounding confused. Sighing and he just refuses to continue arguing with the Earl.

Eru chimed in, “So, can we go pee?”

“Yeah, one at a time. Whoever needs to go first,” Gareth then opens the door. The party could see the four original guards that were guarding the door, Garreth, and multiple other guards moving around the floor.

“Who wants to pee first?” Mew asked the party.

Under her breath Morgana said, “Whoever pees first has to take action guys.”

“I’ll pee first!” Eru exclaimed excitedly. She motioned to her Unseen Servant to follow her. Two guards escorted her down the hall. When they got far enough from Gareth and the other two guards, Eru successfully cast Charm Person on the two guards that escorted her.

“Yay!” She mused to herself. “I’m an acquaintance to these guys. Now what do I do?” Eru walked into the bathroom, shut the door and the two waited outside. “What do I do?” Eru repeated over and over to herself. With quick thinking she decided to talk to them through the door.

“So guys, how can we go home?”

“I imagine once we get back in touch with Krim and if it’s as you say you’ll be good,” one guard replied.

“Well, of course it’s as we say, we’re good people.”

“Yeah. So rest up till he gets back.”

“You know we have lives and things to do… and the Earl is very busy with politics,” Eru continued to ramble as she does when she gets nervous. “And my parents are very hoity-toity and if they knew we were all being held against our will, there’s going to be some shit coming down at Krims house.” Eru finished with confidence.

“Uh, I feel you, I feel you, um, that does sound like a bad situation,” one guard hesitantly said.

“It’s not getting any better the longer we are stuck waiting here,” Eru kept pushing the guard.

“Maybe I could send out a message for you? To your parents?”

“You know what? Why don’t you send a message to my parents… but they’re not in town.”

“Ah. Where can we reach them?”

“My folks live in Silverymoon. So, it’s kind of a far trek.”

“Yeah, sounds pretty far.”

“I could get them right away but it’s not going to be very well for you if I do that,” Eru enjoyed throwing around her high born blood.

“How can you get to them?”

“Well family ties… you know, bonds… Dad’s daughter?” Eru faltered not knowing what else to say.

“Why won’t it work out too well for us?”

“Because they are very, very high in nobility and you are treating us very poorly. The Earl of Duque has already said that we are not in any type of wrong. We were trying to defend Krim from what’s his name?”

“Kriz’Ak.”

“Yeah, that guy. Do you have any sway or pull or clout? Like I said, we’ve got shit to do and it’s just going to get ugly here.”

Hesitant the guard said, “I could talk to Gareth.”

“Talk to Gareth. Let him know this isn’t cool.” Eru interjected.

“I’ll put in a good word for you.”

“I’d really appreciate that.” Eru then washed her hands and proceeded back to the room with her friends, leaving her Unseen Servant in the hall with the guards.

As the door opened and Eru walked in, the party could see the two guards that escorted Eru talking to Gareth.

“All right, anyone else?” Gareth asked after speaking to the guards.

“I wanna go!” Bartholomew said.

“Come on.”

“Wait, I need a buddy,” the clever monk said with some quick thinking.

“He has to pee in groups,” Morgana chimed in.

“Yeah, I can’t go by myself I…”

“He’s kinda like a girl, you know how some people…”

Rolling his eyes Gareth wouldn’t let either the monk or the druid finish their sentences and interrupted, “ONE at a time.”

“Can I bring Donut?” Barry asked.

“Who’s Donut?”

“The corgi,” he said incredulously.

“You all have a corgi?” Gareth asked confused.

Morgana not wanting Gareth to know about Donut quickly put the monk’s sanity into question.

“No, he’s a little crazy. He ate too much cheese. It makes his mind messed up. He hallucinates corgis for some reason.”

Catching on, Barry said, “Yeah, he’s right here.”

“I don’t know, he’s crazy,” Morgana continued.

Barry pointed to the empty floor, “Donut. YEAH! He’s right here!”

The whole party all pointed at the empty spot where Bartholomew pointed and all agreed in unison that there was a corgi.

Gareth stared at him skeptically.

“He’s a good boy!”

Gareth then directed a third guard to escort him to the bathroom. Having actually to use the facilities Bartholomew shut the door and did his business. Now needing to stall and think of a plan of how to get out, he yelled, “Laying a big one here!” He rummaged through his backpack looking to see if he could blow something up or find some other tool or device that might help him escape. Not finding anything of use, the halfling began to inspect the toilet–the toilet that he just used. Looking closer he wondered about the sewage system of the House of Lord Krim.

“Where does the sewage go?” he mused to himself. “Does it just go in one big tube outside the house? Does it enter a sewer system?”

Having waited for what feels like forever, Eru had her Unseen Servant flick the ears of the men guarding the room she was in.

Knowing Eru’s absent minded quirk, Mew asked her, “Hey, when you were out there, did you try to charm anybody? ‘Cause you do that a lot.”

“I DID!”

“Which one?”

“Two of the guards that are there right now. They are kinda chill with me, but I can’t really tell them what to do.”

“Do you know what they look like?” Morgana asked. Eru quickly gave a description of both the guards.

Coming up with a plan to find help, Mew thought of a way to use Donut. “I have writing utensils, would it be useful to write a note and maybe see if Donut can blink his way out to a magistrate?”

Bartholomew once again pondered out loud, “How big is the hole in the toilet? I mean I want to be able to slide my way… I want to be able to breath. If I can’t breath, it’s not good.”

Upon further investigation of the dimensions of the toilet, he ascertained that he could, in fact, fit through the hole in the toilet. He stood over the toilet just staring at it wondering where in the sewers he might end up. The very brave halfling had no qualms about the sanitation concerns of diving into the toilet. His only concern was getting lost.

“Hey, Mew, I feel like Bartholomew has a plan. I feel that somehow he is going to get out. So I think that you should write a note and put it on Donut’s collar and it should be a message to Barry,” Morgana suggested.

“Like send Donut to Bartholomew in the bathroom?”

“I don’t know. I feel like somehow he is going to get out.”

“He is pretty wily.” Mew, Morgana, and Eru proceed to think up what to say in the note.

“It’s not our fault, and we were protecting Krim and now his guards have gone all crazy. And we are being held against our will. And P.S. he has slaves and that’s disgusting,” Mew said.

“To whom it may concern, or whatever, anybody who will listen,” Morgana recommended.

Mew said, “Yeah to whom it may concern. Eru do you have thoughts? Do you know how the big cities work? A Sheriff or whatever?”

“You know I never really paid attention to those meetings with my parents. I could care less about how big cities work. But I think it’s a great idea! We always have Sildar. He’ll come to bat for us.”

“I don’t remember, did Donut meet Sildar?” Mew inquired.

“Uhhh, I don’t think so,” Eru replied.

Mew finished writing the note and stuck it in Donut’s mouth.

“All right. Probably won’t be able to pick him out in a crowd. Donut. Donut? Here’s some snacks. I have a big favor to ask of you. Donut. Can you go find Barry? And give Barry the note. And if Barry tells you to go somewhere else, go where Barry says. You like Barry; he gave you cheese.”

Ready to blink, Donut stood and waited at the door. Mew knelt down and gave him a big hug and said, “You’re awesome. Can you blink outside and maybe go to that hotel we are staying and give them the note? Because someone is paying for us to be there and so they are going to continue to get money right?”

Donut didn’t move and just stared at the door waiting.

Morgana walked over to the door, knocks, and says, “Excuse me. Excuse me.”

“What is it?” the party heard from the other side of the door.

“I have to pee really bad. I’m doing the pee pee dance.”

There was a pause and no answer from the guard.

“PLEEEEEASE!”

“One second”

“Pee, pee, pee, pee!” Morgana sang waiting for the door to open.

The party heard a voice calling over more guards. Just as the door opened, Donut blinked out of the room to behind the guards.

“Go, Donut. Go.” Eru mumbled under her breath.

“Do you have another bathroom? A different one?” Morgana sounded panicked.

“Fine. Fine.”

Morgana continued her pee pee dance and pretended like she was having trouble breathing. Gareth sent two guards that had been previously patrolling to go with her to a different bathroom. They led her to a second floor bathroom.

As the halfling was closely inspecting the toilet he heard barking outside the door.

“Where’d this dog come from?”

Barry quickly opened the door and Donut blinked inside the bathroom with him.  Immediately, he closed the door again and locked it.

“What the hell? I’m going to tell Gareth about this.”

Bartholomew noticed the note, grabbed it, and as he opened it up, he said, “Thanks, Donut. You’re a very good boy.” And he gave Donut a fish bone. After giving it to him, he realized that probably wasn’t a good idea. The monk opened up the note and read it. Realizing what needed to be done, he turned and once again looked at the toilet.

Eventually he heard pounding on the door. “Are you ok in there?”

“I’m sorry, I ate a lot of cheese and I haven’t drank anything in a while, and things are kinda blocked up.”

“I was told there was a dog in there?”

“…a blockage in the pipes. What?”

“One of the guards said they saw a dog in there?”

“OH YEAH. Donut, MY CORGI!”

“Oh, oh. You’re… that one. Just hurry it up.”

“Ok, ok. Yeah, ok. Just trying to clear the pipes you know. Clear things out. Blockaging… Putting blockages in the pipes.”

“All right just hurry it up.”

He turned back and looked at the toilet once again.

“Do it…” Barry heard a voice whisper in his head.

“All right. I’m going in!”

Bartholomew took out the parchment he stole from the desk and wrote a note to the party:  Guys, I went into the sewer. I’m going to find help. And I’ll bring that message to the magistrate.

He rolled up the note stuck it in Donut’s mouth and said, “All right Donut, go back to the room.” Barry opened the door. “That was rough, you guys.”

“Sorry,” one of the guards replied.

Barry quickly closed and locked the door once again.

“What the…?”

He went to the toilet and jumped in.

There was pounding at the door and someone called out, “You all right?”

“I’m stuck! I fell in.”

“Do you need help?”

“Uhhh, yeah. Why not?” He said more to himself than to the guard. “I need help. I’m stuck in the toilet.” Barry could hear someone fiddling with the door as he made his way down the toilet tunnel. The foul stench of tunnel hit his nose but for the greater good of the party he continued to move forward.

Meanwhile, Mew and Eru heard a barking on the other side of the door. “I hear Donut,” Eru said. “How do we get them to open the door?”

“Excuse me sirs could you open the door?” Mew requested.

“What do you need?”

“Could you open the door? Because this shouting through this door thing is not really something that I enjoy.”

Sighing, the guard opened the door just a crack. Mew saw Donut blink from the hall and Eru saw him pop up right behind Mew.

“All right. What do you need?”

“Is there a more interesting room we can be in? Do you have a library or something because this is….”

“Not right now. Once we find some better accommodations, we’ll figure out…. We’ll let you know.”

“…this is torture. We’re in an empty room where there is nowhere to sit. You haven’t given us anything to eat or drink yet. You’re barely letting us go to the bathroom. What the hell happened to Barry? What did you do to Barry? HE HASN’T COME BACK YET!”  Mew began to cry.

“He’s gone to the restroom,” Gareth said defensively.

“DON’T YOU MAKE ME CALL MY PARENTS!!” Eru shouted wagging her finger at him.

“All right, all right. I’ll see what I can do.” He closed the door.

Meanwhile in the second floor bathroom, Morgana inspected the room. There was a window with four glass panes that was more for decoration and could not be opened. Searching for secret passages she came up short but did find a nice lavender candle which she put in her bag. Realizing that there is no way out of the bathroom but through the door, she turned into a lizard, sped beneath the door, climbed up the wall, went down the hallway and into a room that looked like Lord Krim’s office.

Resolute in his quest to save his friends, the determined halfling continued through the filthy dark and narrow, sewer passageway.

Back in the holding room, Mew and Eru were offered a small plate of food.  As a last act of defiance, Eru commanded her Unseen Servant to rip paintings off the walls and throw them and toss any books around the hallway with the guards. As objects were flying in the air, Unseen Servant poofed away and the hallway became still once more.

Still panicked about her beacon, Eru decided to tell Mew about how much trouble she was in. “Mew, there’s bigger things than Krim on my mind. I have this horrible thing on my arm, and I don’t know what to do about it, and there’s nothing I can really do about it, but I figure you should know because I’m terrified.”

“Ok, show it to me again, because I know you don’t know that I know, but I do know and you should know that I know that there is something there. I caught a glimpse of it. So I was going to leave you alone about it, even though it’s weird. You are a prisoner right now, and I figured that it wasn’t the best time to talk about it.”

“Sure,” Eru showed Mew her tattoo. “Well, before, you know, it was just this shiny little silvery thing. And when I got knocked unconscious and when I woke up it was this giant blinking red terrible thing.”

“OH!” Mew gasped.

Mew took a closer look at Eru’s left wrist, and even though Morgana healed Eru, the tattoo still glowed red.

“So this thing is not good and you should know that minions might come for me later so just, you know, watch my back like you do.”

“Oh yeah, don’t worry! The minions, no big deal. I have lots of experience with being, like, followed.”

“Ok,” Eru said relieved, knowing Mew had her back.

“By the way, do you want me to write my parents, tell them to get us the fuck out of here?”

“That would be awesome. Is there a magic way you could send that out?”

Eru decided to write a letter to her parents for help. She pulled out her scroll and began to write. She narrated out loud what she is writing, mostly to gain approval from Mew.

“Dear Mom and Dad,
We’re being held against our will at Krim Breakhandle’s house in Neverwinter. Period.”

Mew interjected, “It was not Mew’s fault.” She shook her head making sure that part was written in the note.

Eru continued. “It was not Mew’s fault. Please, send help.”

Again Mew interjected, “It was NOT Mew’s fault.”

“…We really want to go home.” Eru continued.

“Love, Eru,” Eru finished off saying in a sweet voice.

Back to lizard Morgana.

She came across what looked like a personal study. She climbed up on Krim’s desk and read the various papers that were strewn across his desk. The papers consisted of locations of various rare creatures and documentation of which creatures were real or myths. Most of what lizard Morgana read were related to the medusa that the party had encountered in the swamp. She then moved over to a closed window to look and see the surroundings of the manor. There was grass that crossed all the way to the wall that surrounded Krim’s place. Bushes and hedges were placed close to the walls of his home and in various decorative places between the home and the walls that encompassed his land. That she could see, there were no guards that patrolled this side of the house. Morgana remembered the magical energy that they felt as they entered Krim’s lands, so she knew there was no quick escape out of Krim-land. She changed back into normal Morgana form and opened one of the windows. Gently she moved out of the window and as she was trying to jump down from the second story she slipped, tumbled down the wall and slammed onto the ground into the bushes with a yelp of pain.

Deep in the sewers the halfling monk pushed on in his endeavor to save his friends.
In the room where Eru and Mew were being held, Eru’s keen hearing picked up on the guard’s conversation.

“Mew, I think that the guards have picked up on the fact that Bartholomew and Morgana are missing, and I think they are going to leave. We might have the opportunity to do… things.”

“That would be awesome,” Mew responded. “I can pick locks.”

Eru decided to take some time to raise her familiar in the form of a spider.

While this was going on, the tenacious monk poked his head out of connecting tubing into the main sewer system. He climbed up on top of a pipe and looked down at the soggy floors and around the dark pathway. He saw “water” running out of other tubing onto the main floor. Searching in his pack he found a torch and quickly lit it. Really not wanting to lose them, he made sure his new, stollen pants were tied tight around his neck. He peered down the tunnel and saw that it split further on with a faint glimpse of sunlight down one of the tunnels. Studying the sewer water below him, Bartholomew noticed that there was no corn to be found. From the dim light of his torch he could not tell how deep the liquid…and solids below him were. Musing out loud to himself “I wonder how deep that is, like if I fall into it, do I float? Can stand and walk? Well I’m just going to do it,” Bartholomew jumped into the sewage and found that he could stand, the sewer water came chest height to him. The foul stench creeped into his nostrils and down his throat. He gagged a little, but persevered toward the sunlight.

Morgana found herself bruised and cut up a bit from the bushes. Still hiding herself, she looked around and listened for any guards that might be patrolling the area. No guards were in her vicinity. In an attempt to be stealthy, Morgana tried to move from her current hiding bush to another bush across the way.

Back to Eru and Mew’s room.

Eru sent her spider familiar under the door to scout out what was happening on the other side. Through spider eyes she could see that there were only two guards by the door as well as multiple servants moving around the manor.

“So do you think it’s a good time to pick a lock, Eru?” Mew inquired seeing that Eru’s eyes were glazed over and paying attention to the room around her. Eru, reverted her vision back to herself. “There are two guards right outside the door, so if you think you can handle two guards… we could,” Eru began to lose confidence, “…we could try it.”

“Or I could try to charm them if you could get the door open.” By this time all confidence was lost and Eru finished off her sentence laughing. “It won’t do anything, they won’t let us go.”

Mew interjected, “I think they are too many guards around and about, so reeking my usual sort of bloody death upon people is probably not going to work so well this time. It’s not in our favor.”

Responding, Eru said, “I don’t think killing them is a very good idea. Do you have any wonderful ideas on how to get us out of here?”

“I think, how many more times can you try to charm people?”

“I can charm two persons, or I can cast Suggestion on one. But charming is not going to get us out of here. ‘Cause I tried that with the bathroom boys.”

“Was one of the two that Gareth guy?” Mew inquired.

“Nope.”

“Well, I haven’t had a potty break yet,” Mew considered. “Yeah see maybe if you can charm or make a suggestion on one of them. Do we need the door open for that so you can see them?”

“Yes, please.”

“Ok. Let’s see, what else do we have? We could make them make sure we are very hostile. I could do spider climb. Spider climb would be hilarious.”

“You have your staff?” Eru asked

“Yeah well the poison staff is either spider climb or it makes webs, but I don’t think that the web is going to help us.”

Eru agreed, “No. I think anything that we do that is going to be offensive is going to be a bad idea.”

“I”m just going to ask if I can go to the bathroom.” Mew said.

“Yeah, just ask if you can go to the bathroom, you haven’t had your chance yet.”

“Yeah, and I still want to get to any other room than this.”

Mew went to the door and knocked.

“Yeah, what’s up?” she heard a voice from the other side of the door say.

“So… everybody else got to pee, and I was trying to be gracious and let everyone else go first, but it’s becoming more of an urgent need.”

There was silence for a moment on the other side of the door when Mew finally heard the voice say, “Uhhh, all right… well we can’t go to the first one… that little guy is still in the pipes.”

“Did Barry fall in AGAIN? Oh my god Barry! He’s so small, but sometimes he gets distracted because his imaginary corgi shows up. And, it’s just so bad. I’m so sorry he fell in again. At least you know what happend. He’ll be able to crawl his way back out. It’s a thing. He probably didn’t notice the odor before he fell in. So, so sorry.”

The guard opened the door and led Mew through the servant quarters and showed her that bathroom. Mew, the Earl of Duque, obviously offended by being offered such a low class bathroom began to scoff and gave the guard looks of disgust. Mew took a look inside, saw a hole in the ground with a bucket to wash up with and a small soap. She promptly turned around, got in the guards face and demanded to be taken to a better bathroom.

“The Earl of Duque,” Mew spoke about herself in the third person, “is not going to be seen or heard of using lavatory facilities such as these.”

Flustered, the guard said, “Here follow me up to this one.”

“Thank you.”

The guard lead Mew to a second story bathroom. The new one was much nicer with hand towels, candles, and a variety of scented soaps. Wanting better ambiance, she asked the guard to light the candles. He refused to light them and pointed to the matches next to the candles.

“I am going to have so many words with Krim when he gets back.” The Earl softly, yet authoritatively shut the door behind them. They took a closer look at the window and wondered if they could open and climb through it. However, it being so high and Mew being only five feet tall, she might not be able to reach the window without doing some sort of acrobatics. She instead decided to make a bunch of noise rummaging around the room and talk about her displeasure with such an awful bathroom that she had to use. Mew opened the door a crack and spoke to the guard. “I can’t possibly go in conditions such as these. I require a nicer bathroom.”

“I’m sorry, this is the nicest one I can bring you to.” the guard said flustered.

Not letting up Mew continued, “But not the nicest one you HAVE. Clearly by the way you are treating people.”

“I can’t bring you there.”

“Why? Why not?” Mew didn’t sound very convincing.

“I don’t have access to it. It’s not… It’s not our territory.”

“Excuse me? I don’t understand what that means? The bathroom is not your territory?”

Baffled by the importance of a bathroom, the guard still would not let up. “We, uh, we can’t go there, that’s Lord Krim’s stuff.”

“So, no one ever goes on Lord Krim’s floors? Like does he clean it himself? How can no one have access?”

“Well the guards don’t go there.”

Having an answer for every protest the guard could give her, Mew continued in her quest for a better bathroom. “Well, then, can you let some servants take me up? Because this will not do!”

“I don’t think he would like that. I mean. This is a plenty nice bathroom here.”

“PERHAPS by the standards YOU are accustomed to,” Mew said in her most arrogant tone. “I am an Earl. I have a long family history. I just, I can’t, I can’t go in these facilities.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t think there’s much I can do.”

“We are going to end up with a medical situation if you do not let me urinate.”

“I’m sorry Earl. This is all that I, that I can do right now.”

“I DO NOT LIKE TO BE CALLED EARL! Earl is not my name. It is my RANK.”

Not having any place for him to take Mew they came at a standstill and both just stared at each other.

“I’m waiting,” Mew said with contempt.

And nothing happened except for two individuals staring at each other for about three minutes.

“So, are you done?” The guard inquired.

“Dude, the door is open and you can see me.”

“Yeah, but I can’t take you anywhere else. I’m sorry.”

Holding his ground the guard gave Mew two options the bathroom she was in or the servant bathroom.

“You HAVE another bathroom, you told me. Dude, that was your mistake. You never suggest something better to someone like me and then refuse. You can’t do that.”

“I’m sorry we can’t go there.”

“Other people go there. The servants go there,” Mew suggested.

“Just to clean up.” he countered.

“Then allow me to clean up.”

“Uhh, I don’t think that would be appropriate.”

“It would be highly appropriate. ‘Cause this,” Mew said gesturing around, “is highly inappropriate.”

Seeing that he wasn’t getting anywhere with the Earl, the guard looked around hoping to find someone to ask for help.

Sighing the guard said, “Yeah, I don’t know what I can do for you. If this doesn’t work, you may just have to hold it.”

“I can’t. That’s not acceptable. I mean I’m going to end up with an infection. What do you think will make Krim less happy? MEDICAL BILLS! Or me using a proper toilet?”

“Your using his toilet. He doesn’t really care about money, so he can pay for that.”

Changing tactics, Mew decided to talk about Krim’s lack of morals for having slaves.
“Let get back to the conversation about all the horribleness with his slave that happened. Can you believe that even has slaves? It’s so inappropriate.”

“Uh, well he doesn’t have any slaves, I mean we are all hired.”

“So the big guy never told you about the soul stone? Like, he was not getting paid. Not paid. NOT PAID.”

“Well uh, uh…”

Interrupting, Mew continued to ramble not making much sense, “I mean he totally flipped out, slave master, it’s just not ok. You know?”

Not taking a side, the guard said, “Well that’s none of my business really. I get paid and do my job. But, you know, you really should use the bathroom it you gotta go.”

Still not letting go Mew continued, “So you don’t really care about the health and welfare of your fellow beings?”

Countering the guard replied, “I mean have you seen the guy? He’s kinda a demon.”

“So?”

“Not really a good guy,” the guard protested.

“But he’s a sentient creature. He has feelings. They might be stunted and horrible feelings but he has them.”

“Ehh, I’m not going to get into all that, though,” the guard said evading the conversation.

Coming back full circle Mew continued, “Ok, so the bathroom, please, now.”

Sighing and rolling his eyes, “You’re in it.”

“No, no, this, THIS, does not count! For starters, there isn’t even a bath in it. How can you call this a BATH room!?”

“Well, I could take you to the bathtub, but I wouldn’t use that as a toilet.”
The Earl of Duque said nothing and just shook their head.

Back at the room, as Mew headed out the door on her bathroom adventure, Eru tried to cast Suggestion. The casting spelled failed. Realizing that she tried to use magic on him, the guard quickly closed the door in her face.

“Shit” Eru snapped at herself. She pet her spider familiar and sent it out under the door to go exploring as far as it could go, and watch what was going on. Her familiar just saw movement of guards changing shifts and some of them talking to each other about how the are looking for the missing “guests”.

Back outside, guards started looking through bushes. Panicked, Morgana cast Druid Craft creating the smell of a skunk in her area. Disgusted with the smell the guard closest to her quickly backed away from her hiding place. She moved to the bushes near the house as stealthily as she could.

“Hey, was something moving over there?” one guard asked another.

“Dammit,” Morgana said under her breath.

“All right, I’m going to go check it out.”

A guard moved in the direction of her hiding spot.

Back in the sewers the Monk heard some movement behind him just as he was about 50 feet from the rays of sunlight he was heading toward. Hoping not to be heard, he tried to move more quietly. He continued to move forward when he saw slithering in front of him. Noiselessly, he pulled out his sword. As he got closer to the light he could see an opening in the ceiling and rudimentary bars against the wall of the sewer. Terrified, Bartholomew ran toward the opening and just as he was about 20 feet from safety the slithering movement turned out to be a crocodile. The croc came up on him and the little halfling with the bravest of hearts attacked it with his sword while considering giving it some cheese. He then slashed with his torch and dragged it across the croc’s eye. The croc took a bite, but he was able to dodge it; however, he missed a step and the croc was able to come back at him and bit down hard holding Bartholomew in its jaws. With all his might, Barry took his sword and raked it across the croc’s body, cutting deep. He felt the jaw loosen around him and the croc floated in the sewer, dead. Musing to himself, “It seems like it’s dead. I better hit it again just to make sure.” Using his martial arts skills, Bartholomew punched the croc in its lizardy face.

Back at the Bathroom Standoff, The Earl of Duque and the frustrated guard were still locked in unyielding stares, without a word between them. Eventually, the guard looked around and called over one of the passing servants. “Hey, can you get someone else over here to help me here?”

“Perhaps if I can not be taken to an appropriate bathroom, we are going to have to make this one more appropriate or at least less inappropriate.”

“What would you need for it to be more, appropriate?”

The Earl Of Duque opened the door wide and waved their arms, gestured around the room. “Well, I’m going to need some window decor, some rugs on the floor. And if you could find a place to put some toilet paper that is more bougie and less sandpapery.”

“Uhh, you don’t really need a rug to go to the restroom,” he said skeptically.

“I really do.”

Pointing at the hole in the floor the guard said, “Can’t you just use what’s there. I mean it’s only once.”

“I have different needs. I apologize that I am not able to make that clear enough, apparently. But I have different needs.”

“I just,” the guard sighed,”I don’t. I don’t know.” He sighed yet again, ”I don’t think we have any better toilet paper but I can maybe get you a cloth to cover up the window if you really need it.”

“That would be a start.”

He flagged down one of the servants and eventually, the servant and another guard bring a blanket for the Duque.

“I don’t understand how you think that that is anything remotely close to what I was asking about,” Mew protested.

“Well, I mean you put it up there,” he pointed to the window, “and it block the light from coming in so that should work. But you’ve gotta use this or we’ve gotta take you back down. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t think that apology was sincere.”

“I’m just trying to do my job here, PLEASE, can you just use the restroom?”

“You’re being quite difficult.”

“I really don’t think I am. I’ve brought you to two restrooms now.”

Refusing to give an answer to the guard, Mew just stared without blinking.

The frazzled guard turned to the other guard, “This is what I’ve been… I don’t know how to deal with this.”

Interjecting, Mew stated, “Royalty, you work for a Lord. You know how to deal with royalty.”

“He never does this. Ma’am can you just use the restroom?”

“Well of course he doesn’t do this. He…THEE restroom…he doesn’t, uhh, I’m so frustrated!!”

The other guard interrupted, “Look we got you something to hold up the window so you feel like safe, or whatever, can you now just use the restroom and go back to your room? We’ve got other things to do here.”

“What other things?” Mew inquired.

“Well, we have to deal with this whole situation, you and your friends have caused.”

“We caused nothing. We were invited. The slave decided he didn’t want to be a slave anymore. And he misbehaved very greatly and he stole away Lord Krim. That is not anything that we did.”

“Well-”

“The problem is you are keeping us captive against our will. That’s the problem.”

“Well. One of your friends has climbed down one of the toilets. So that’s a problem. Another one has just disappeared in one of the bathrooms. So we are having trouble with the restrooms today.”

“So, what is with your BATHROOMS? There is something very wrong with your bathrooms. NOT with my people. See, this is why I don’t want to get near that toilet. Maybe I’ll get swallowed whole too.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine.You’re not a halfling.”

“I just want to get one thing clear here. Two of my friends have been consumed by your toilets.”

“I’m pretty sure he climbed down there himself.”

“Do you have any proof of this? Did you watch him climb down?”

“He, he kept going further.”

“Did you see this happen?”

“No. I wasn’t there.”

“Well, there you go then. You have no proof. You’re just making false claims all over the place.”

“Can you just use the restroom?”

“Nope.”

“Well, look. If you don’t use the restroom, we are going to have to take you back downstairs.”

“This, this is cruel and unusual. This is not acceptable. You are holding us prisoner. And now you give me a bathroom that you can’t even guarantee that I’m not going to be swallowed up by your toilet.”

“The toilets aren’t eating people, Ma’am.”

“There’s something wrong with your toilets!”

“Look, I’m sure the toilets are fine. No one has ever been eaten by a toilet before in this place.”

“All right. Is it possibly something that that Kriz’ak, or whatever his name is–that crazy fiend person could have done? Clearly he had the ability to use magic. Or something poofy. He morphed away! Maybe he has possessed the toilets in an attempt to continue to try to harm us and kill us.”

“Umm, I have my doubts.”

“Ya’ll used magic, too, one of the guards just reported that your friend down there started chanting at him.”

“So she likes to sing, I don’t understand what that has to do with anything.”

“He said it was pretty weird singing, if that was what is was.”

“Well, I mean. You’ve met her a little. She’s a little bit strange. Just a little strange.”

“I’m going to have to ask you one more time. Can you please just use the restroom. Otherwise we’ve gotta take you back down.”

“Are you going to forcibly remove me from the bathroom?”

“Yes,” he said matter of factly.

“All right, I’m noting all of this down. Every moment of your bad treatment. How you are.
How your toilets have now stolen now two of my companions. All of this is bad.”

“Duly noted.”

“Are you refusing to take me to a lavatory that I believe will not swallow me? One with a proper opening for someone adequate of my stature?”

“This should be adequate enough.”

“It is not!”

“All right, well, it doesn’t seem like you are going to use that so.…”

Mew promptly shut the door in his face mid-sentence and locked it.

He knocked on the door. “Are you going to use it?”

“No.”

Mew then heard a loud sigh and the two guards attempted to open the door. Eventually, she heard one of the guards leaving.

Back outside in the bushes, Morgana tried to keep still as possible, hoping the guard would pass by. No such luck. The guard approached the bushes and searched them.

“Hey what are you doing in here? Oh you’re one of the missing ones. You’re going to come with me.”

Morgana immediately panicked. “NO! No you don’t understand. I was in the bathroom and the toilet tried to swallow me!”

“Toilets don’t swallow you.”

“THEY DO! I was fightend so I jumped out. I don’t know what to do. Do not make me go back into that house!”

“You’re going to have to come with me anyway.”

Not wanting to be pulled back into the house, she cast Poison Spray on the guard. A cloud of noxious gas spread out toward him and the guard choked and coughed up a bit of blood. She quickly ran past the guard, went around the corner to the front of the house, and melded into stone.

Multiple guards who saw her meld became confused and scared.

“The Hell…”

“WHAT the hell is going on?”

A third guard, “Oh god!”

Back in the sewers, the halfling monk stood over the slain crocodile with his chest puffed up, feeling triumphant of his kill. He proceeded up the the ladder through the grate in the ceiling. He opened the grate and his eyes were slightly blinded from the bright day outside; it took him a moment to adjust to the change. He saw the bustling of a busy street and decided it was a safe place to come out. As he walked down the street, people were aghast from the stench that exuded from the monk.They gave him looks of disgust, and held their noses and moved to the other side of the street. Looking off in the distance Bartholomew could see Breakhandle’s manor not far from where he came out. Thinking nothing of the imminent danger his companions were currently in, and only of about how dirty and smelly he was feeling, he decided he needed to purchase some new clothes and take a bath before he went and got help. He tried to enter multiple clothing stores but was turned away each time.

“No, no sir, we can’t allow you to, have…this,” the shopkeeper gestured up and down to the entirety of Bartholomew. “Come back when you are clean.”

“Ok, ok.”

He proceeded to the hotel and took a nice long bath.
Back in the room by herself, Eru searched the room for things she could turn into a Tiny Servant. She looked at the desk and exclaimed and was able to get one handle off of the drawer, pocketed it, and then decided she needed to talk to the guards again. She banged on the door.

“No way!! You are going to cast magic,” the guard stated from safely behind the door.

“I’m not going to cast magic…”

“That’s what someone who would cast magic on me would say!”

“That’s true, you are a very smart man, but I’m not going to cast magic,” she promised.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Do you know where my friend went? ‘Cause it’s been awhile and he’s not back yet.”

“I don’t know, but I’m not liking the situation. Everyone keeps disappearing.”

She peered through the keyhole and saw the cloth of his tunic.

“There is a serious bug problem in this room. Could you just get me to another room, please?”

“I’m not opening that door!” he refused.

“Dude, there are bugs. They’re fucking everywhere. It’s disgusting.”

“Use your magic!”

“I can’t stop bugs! Look dude, look…”

Eru then cast Infestation and flicked a single flea through the keyhole at the piece of cloth that she could see.

“You gotta get me out of here man. It’s really bad!!”

Then Eru heard him scream, “OH GOD! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!!!”

Eru screamed in turn, “Get me out of here! Get me out of here!”

The guard ran off screaming. She peered through the keyhole and saw him run away. She yelled, “God damn-it!” But she couldn’t help but giggle as she watched him run around the room trying to get the insect swarm off of him.

“I love that spell so much,” she whispered to no one. Feeling satisfied with her spell she sat on the bed and took a short rest.

Back upstairs, Mew could hear the rustling of one guard on the other side of the door. Mew decided to redecorate the bathroom as much as they could. While doing so, they climbed up to the window. In an attempt to hide the noise of breaking the window, Mew spoke loudly about how the decoration process was going. They were successfully able to break the window without the guard noticing and peered outside the hole into the manor. Looking down they could see about a 25-30 foot drop to the ground. Mew not having been healed from the fight with Kriz’Ak didn’t want to chance hurting themself further in case they could not get down gracefully. So, they covered up the broken window as best as they could, jumped down to the floor, and opened the door. Mew demanded to be taken back to Eru because, “This simply will not do, and it looks like it’s going to be a bladder infection after all.”

The guards sighed with relief and escorted Mew back to the room. As they came down the stairs toward the room, they could see a man running around, waving his arms, and screaming incoherently. The only word they actually understood was, “Bugs!!!”

Smiling to herself and recognizing Eru’s handiwork without the guard noticing, Mew continued her rant about Krim’s manor. “These are ridiculously horrible conditions we are being kept in! Apparently, this whole place is infested with bugs! As well as MAN EATING TOILETS, we now have a BUG INFESTATION.”

“None of this all happened until ya’ll came here,” the guard said defensively.

“None of this all happened until Krim was taken away by what’s his face.”

“Just get back in this room and…”

“Don’t you speak to me that way! I am a guest in your house remember! You speak to me like that and you are going to make me completely sure that we are actually prisoners.”

“Well,” the guard retorted, “you already seemed convinced of it anyway, so get back in your room.”

Mew raised their hand in an attempt to slap the guard, but he quickly grabbed their wrist. “If you swing your fist at me…”

Mew began to howl and wail about the pain they were in from the guard’s grasp. “ABUSE, ABUSE! How dare you!”

Sighing the guard dragged the Earl to the room all the while they continued to holler about the excruciating pain they were being put in and how they and their party are being held captive and are prisoners and it is not acceptable. The guard threw the Earl in the room and closed the door.

“HI MEW!” Eru exclaimed happy to not be alone anymore.

Mew told Eru about her findings. “Hi. So I found a window, but in order to use it, it’s a 25-30 foot drop. So, I don’t think that is going to work very well since both of us are kind of in bad shape. We are going to have to figure something else out. These guys are dicks.”

“They are dicks,” Eru confirmed.

Back outside to “Wall Morgana”

The guards came up to the wall and one of them prodded it. “You saw that right?”

The other guard responded, “I didn’t really see anything.”

He said to another guard, “She went into the wall.”

He responded, “Yeah. Crazy. She just merged into it.”

After about 5 minutes or so, they finally decided that they needed to split up and search the rest of the grounds. Seeing that they had left her alone, and no guards were anywhere in sight, she un-melded from the wall and ran over to the front door, opened it, and walked in.

In the city, the filthy halfling was lazily soaking in his bath cleaning the muck from his body. Once he felt sufficiently clean, he added more hot water, and cleaned his clothes. Seeing and remembering that his bag was made of leather he took a cloth and wiped down the bag as best as he could, hoping the stench would not cling to it. He donned his clothes and decided to go to Sildar for help instead of the magistrate as Mew instructed.

Back in the room, Eru continued to flick bugs through the door key hole. “Bugs. There’s fucking bugs! You have to get us out of here!” Mew let Eru know that the guards thought Bartholomew escaped through the sewer system. Eru snorted in delight. She also let Eru know that Morgana was missing.

“Where is Morgana?” Eru asked.

“Don’t know. I’m assuming she got out somehow. The bathroom I was in had a window. I’m guessing that other bathrooms have windows. She’s a bit sturdier than I am, so I’m assuming she survived that drop better than I would right now. Also, apparently, there is a super nice bathroom, but the guards don’t have access to it. Or have access to Krim’s floor. That’s what they said anyway, which I find interesting.”

“BUGS! BUGS!” the two yelled from the locked room as Eru continued to cast Infestation.
Hearing the muttering of arcane words, the guards realized what was happening and they hid themselves from the view of Eru.

No longer having any targets, she groaned, “Bastards taking away all my fun! Mew what do you want to do? We are stuck in here because I got nothing.”

“How is Donut?” she looked over and saw he was fine, just chilling in the room.

“What’s wrong with your parents, dude?” Mew asked, referring to the fact that they had not written back yet. “Like, I thought they liked you.”

Eru sounded defensive, “They don’t like YOU…”

“Well, that’s… true.”

“Maybe they are sleeping,” Eru interjected.

“That shouldn’t stop them from like, letting me be nice to you.”

“Maybe they didn’t get it yet,” Eru naively said.

“I’m out of plans, I think maybe they are fed up with us.”

They both decided to take a nap. Eru decided to spoon Mew.

Now in the main entry, Morgana could see multiple servants and guards about their business. A few guards were trying to keep their distance from a door they were obviously guarding and heard them mumble something about insects, bugs, and magic.

In an attempt to save her friends, she shouted and intimidated the guards into giving her the keys to get her friends out–and if they did not comply then something awful was going to happen. Being her first time trying to intimidate, she failed.

“Wait, aren’t you… you’re one of them. No, no, no! All right!” All the guards drew their swords.

Panicked. Morgana cast Moonbeam over the door behind which her friends were being held captive.

Just as Eru and Mew began spooning for their nap, they noticed a light glowing around the door. It slowing began to crack, then it burst, shattering into countless pieces.

“Yay!!” Eru exclaimed, “Someone opened the door!”
Recognizing Morgana’s work, Eru said in a deep, low, and a bit scary voice, “Don’t go through it…”

Mew, being Mew, shouted to anyone who could hear, “Oh great. Now your castle is falling apart? You can’t even keep a door working!!!”

Hearing Mew, Morgana couldn’t help but laugh out loud at her comment. Eru joined in on the laughter.
In preparation for battle, Mew cast Spider Climb on herself; she waited for her next move as she could not go through the Moonbeam without hurting herself.

A guard close to Morgana swung his sword at her causing minimal but some slashing damage. A second guard came up with his spear and pierced her side causing even more damage.

Eru cast Mage Armor on herself in preparation of the battle she was about to enter. Morgana moved the beam from the door over the first guard that attacked her. The man screeched in pain as the moonlight tore through his flesh. He fell dead. With a maniacal look in her eyes, turning to the guard that pierced her, she howled, “You’re next! STAND DOWN”!

Wide-eyed, he dropped his spear. “Look, I don’t get paid enough for all of this here,” he gestured around. “I’m going to go upstairs, you all do what you need to do.” He quickly ran up the stairs and out of sight.

Across the room Morgana could see another guard, the one who had been previously been attacked by Eru’s Infestation spell, with his sword on the ground waiting for something to happen. Morgana stared him down. And apparently she still was not very good at intimidation. He grabbed his sword and came at her. Swinging his sword at her, he sliced into her and pierced her left clavicle. “Ahhhhhh” Morgana groaned, “Mother Fucker!!”

Seeing Morgana in danger, Mew pulled out Delores and shot at the guard. The bolt flew just over the guard’s head and hit the wall behind him. Mew charged into the hallway. A different guard who had previously thrown down his weapon when Morgana threatened with her Moonbeam realized he was outnumbered, and ran up the stairs. Only one guard remained and he continued to have his eye on Morgana. Eru moved out of the room toward Morgana and her attacker. She cast Infestation once more and flicked a single flea at him. He clawed and dug his nails deep into his face, so hard that he pulled out his eyes, screaming. The man fell unconscious from the damage that he did to himself. The party were completely disgusted by the man. They could not look at him and all turned away. “Bugs, BUGS”! Eru yelled.

Back to the halfling hero, who took his sweet time getting help, and who had finally reached the Lord’s Alliance. Bartholomew requested to speak to Sildar, who soon joined Bartholomew out of a back room.

“Oh, it’s good to see you again. What the matter?”

“It’s good to see you, too, Sildar…”

“What stinks?”

“You gotta help us–my friends–we’ve all been kidnapped by these, these, evil soldiers in cahoots with this demon named Kremlin or Krillin, or something and you have to help us! I only escaped because I had to climb through the sewers and battled my way through crocodiles to get to you.”

“That explains the smell. You said that they’ve been kidnapped?”

“YES! Imprisoned in this…”

“Where at?”

“…in this fortress,… I don’t remember how we got there…but I can lead you there.”
“Ok” Sildar replied. “We’ll grab some guards and we’ll go.”
“Thank you, thank you so much!”

Bartholomew quickly led them toward Krim’s estate.

Eru, Mew, and Morgana now decided what to do next. “I’m perfectly fine with running out the front door,” Eru commented.

“I kinda want to run out the front door, but I still want to find that soul stone.”

“Oh yeah, there’s that,” Eru agreed

“I found this place upstairs next to the bathroom. It was a nice one by the way, Mew, the bathroom. I did use it by the way. And I got this candle, it’s beautiful. Anyway, on the second floor there is this study. Maybe we can go through the drawers and find the soul stone that we have been looking for to release the big guy.”

“Ok. Were there maybe windows in the room that we could maybe escape out of?”
“Yes, there were.”

Mew immediately cast Spider Climb on both Eru and Morgana, so all three could escape out the window. After some quick discussion on what to do and where to go, they realized that Mew’s health was super low and their first priority was now to get out of Krim’s place, but through the bathroom where Morgana stole the candle. Eru, seizing the moment, climbed the walls and on to the ceiling trying to be as creepy-looking as she possibly could, contorting her body and neck to look as scary as she could. Mew stole a bust from the hallway just because. Morgana led them to the bathroom that she had been in earlier. Apparently it was the same bathroom that Mew had turned her nose up at.

Passing the bathroom after realizing the window was too small, they went into the study, quickly searching drawers and bookshelves. Eru looked for anything magic related, scroll or books. The three quickly realized that the study had just business related information in it. They found notes on various creatures and scribblings of information on the medusa that they had encountered. Morgana found a small purse that had ten gold coins, she quickly pocketed it without the other two noticing. Mew found a ledger and journals of the trading that Krim had been doing; Mew put it in their bag. Eru searched for secret hiding places in the room that might hide a soul stone, but she could find nothing. Seeing that it was time to escape, the three climbed out the window and scaled the side of the manor.

At this time, Bartholomew and party arrived at the front gate of the manor. The guards seemed uneased by the presence of the Lords Alliance.

“What brings you all here?”

“You kidnapped my friends!” Bartholomew exclaimed.

“We didn’t kidnap anyone.”

“You kidnapped them and held them…”

“Wait, your friends, were you part of that group that has been causing trouble?”

“CAUSING TROUBLE?” The halfling questioned evasively. “MY GOODNESS! That YOU could LOCK US in a room AGAINST our will after your, YOUR DEMON, demon… I don’t know what you call it. ATTACKS US! And then you lock us in a room. I…I…I got stuck in a toilet!” The halflings voice cracked from the trauma of his experience. “I had to crawl my way out! And did you help me? NOOOO! You didn’t even HELP ME! I was stuck in that pipe for hours! I had to fight a crocodile.You know you have crocodiles in your castle sewer? Wha, WHA! CAUSING TROUBLE?”

The guard looked at him blankly and confused. “I don’t know what you are talking about, crocodiles.” Looking at Sildar the man continued. “But yes, the group that started fighting against Lord Krim’s guards, yes we kept them.” Turning back to Bartholomew “Were you part of them?”

“STARTED FIGHTING?” He continued on his rant. “Started fighting. We didn’t start fighting. HE started fighting. He started attacking us. We were forced to defend ourselves and I even came and told you that. I came and tried to get your help and instead you just locked us up! Locked us up like common criminals!”

The gate guard asked, “I see you brought the Lord Alliance?”

“Yes,” the halfling replied.

“Ok. We’ll get this all sorted out.”

“I contacted the authorities,” he said puffing out his chest.

“Come inside and we can work all this out.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you. I’m going to stay right out here! Last time I went with you, you locked me up.”

“Fine…”

“AND I HAD TO CRAWL THROUGH POOP!”

“And you will see that none of this, none of your wild claims are true,” the guard continued.

“Wild claims!”

Sildar and his guards moved forward and followed the guard leaving Bartholomew standing at the gate by himself.

Mew, Morgana, and Eru safely climbed down the wall. Seeing Sildar, his guards, and a halfling in the distance Mew called out.

“Help, please, help! They tried to drown us in their toilets! They imprisoned us! Please, help! We escaped and we need to get the rest of the way out. These people are crazy!”

Hearing this, Sildar decided to take action. “We’ll take them with us, and you,” he pointed to the man leading them, “investigate what happened. Get some statements from everyone to see what happened.”

Sildar then moved over with some of the guards he brought to help the party.

“I’m glad you guys got out,” Bartholomew said relieved.

“It was horrible,” Eru said, “There were bugs EVERYWHERE!”

“Everywhere,” Mew chimed in.

“Oh no!” Bartholomew said.

“I didn’t know what to do…” Morgana interjected.

Interrupting the reunited party Sildar said, “Well, if you all just come with me we’ll get you set up with rooms. Do you still have rooms at the tavern?”

“We do,” the party all agreed.

“We’ll all just place you there. We’ll just need statements from everyone.”

Interrupting, Morgana inquired of Bartholomew, “Why does your pack smell funny?”

“My pack?” he questioned back.

“It does not smell good.”

“Oh, I had to crawl through sewer…”

“Did the toilet swallow you, too?”

“IT DID! And I had to…”

“No I was just kidding, Did it seriously swallow you? That’s gross.”

“We can talk more when we get back to the Tavern,” Mew said

Sildar interjected. “Ok let’s take you back to ya’lls abode. We will definitely look into everything that happened there. Get statements from Lord Krim and everyone involved and get down to what happened.”

Sildar left some town guards behind to take statements of all persons involved in the incidents that happened in the past few hours.

So the party followed Sildar and eventually made it back to their rooms for a much needed rest–but not before telling him more about what happened to them.

Feeling impatient and wanting to make sure that not everyone who should be spoken to was present, Mew notified Sildar about Kriz’Ak. “Oh yeah, Lord Krim is missing by the way. The big dude–that turns out is a slave, turns out he is sick of being a slave, I don’t know–but somehow he unzipped space and time and we watched this weird interdimensional thing happen and he took Krim with him.”

“All right the Alliance will get down to this. Lord Krim is influential in the city so hopefully no harm has come to him.”

“Do you know he has sentient beings in his basement in cages? In cages!”

“We’ll look into that, but for now I think it’s best if you all just rest.”

Agreeing in unison, the party all did want to rest.

“Just be careful of that Kriz’Ak guy if he come back around,” Eru warned.

“We will. And we’ll make sure we get to the bottom of this.”

“He has things in cages,” Mew persisted.

“We’ll look into that,” Sildar assured Mew.

He left and went on his way.

Now the party had to corroborate their stories.

“Guys,” Eru said, “there’s this horrible side effect of enchantment spells that lets people know they were enchanted. We have to somehow figure out how to make it a he-said-she-said. And our story beats Krim’s story. “

“That makes more sense,” Bartholomew agreed.

“Well he was really drunk and wasted when he brought us to see his caged slave things,” Morgana explained.

Eru reminded Morgana, “Well, it kinda started in the alley.”

Bartholomew said, “Sildar isn’t dumb, like those other guards are.”

“Nope,” Eru said.

“No he’s not,” Morgana agreed.

“Oh my God. Where the fuck is Krim?” Eru said worried.

“Sorry guys that I brought the Lord’s Alliance into this.” Bartholomew hung his head.

“My family has some sway with the Lord’s Alliance, but I don’t know how it’s going to get us out of this shit,” Eru said.

Remembering that she had written to her parents, she looked at the scroll and read the reply out loud, “Sending Help”. She quickly scribbled back, “Ok”.

“Now my parents are on their way to Krim Breakhandle’s castle. Or somebody is on their way. This will be interesting. I’ve gone and fucked this up for all of us.”

“We could probably take down the guy who wrote notes and statements of those interviewed,” Bartholomew suggested.

“Right” Morgana said, “But they probably have memory of what was said, so then we would have to take care of them too, and we don’t want to do that.”

“We certainly don’t want to do that,” Eru agreed.

Hoping to find some sort of shady dealing in the journals that were swiped from Krim’s office, Mew poured through the documents, but was unable to find anything inKriminating. “Damn!” she shouted to herself.

Being just before midnight, the party decided to go downstairs for a drink. Eru went up to a random person and said, “I’ll give you a silver piece if you go over to Krim Breakhandle’s house and wait out in the front for a bunch of elves and send them this way.” Musing to herself, “I don’t know what my parents are sending.”

“Uhhh, I’ll do it for a gold,” the man responded.

“Ahhh” she pulled out a gold piece. “I’ll give you a gold, just make sure you do it.”
“Deal.”

“What if,” the monk said, “we pay someone to go over there and make another statement?”

“You’re going to bribe people to LIE?” Eru’s voice sounded shocked that he would even suggest such a thing.

“We have to get our story straight so they get their story straight and we don’t have that… straight yet.” The party could tell Morgana had already had too much to drink.

“So Mew, the first thing we have to figure out is, what valid reason that we can tell the authorities that you attacked Krim Breakhandle in the alley.”

“I didn’t.”

“You DID!”

“I tripped.”

Realizing what Mew was saying, “OH, ok, you tripped.”

“I’m sure it may have looked like I was about to attack him, but I was trying to catch my balance.”

“Ok” Eru said. “But then I panicked and… I don’t know…”
**PAUSE**
That night, everyone gathered around and discussed a strategy to “explain away” their behavior. Once they got their stories straight, they rested for the evening. Eru’s dreams were plagued with worry of that burning symbol on her arm.

The next morning, they awoke to a knock on the door.

“Who…who is it?” Morgana asked.

“It’s Syldar.” Morgana opened the door and he stepped in.

“I’ve talked to the men with the Lord’s Alliance and the authorities,” Syldar continued. “They spent the evening gathering statements from all involved and I must tell you…it’s not looking good. We need to get your statements and (pause) discuss punishments.”

“Punishments!?” Mew spat out. “Have you heard of a soul stone?”

Syldar scratched his head, “I can’t say that I have.”

“It’s a tool of enslavement that Krim was using in his house. Did you know he has imprisoned sentient beings in his basement?!?” Mew stated, near frantic.

“Well, you’ll have the opportunity to address this before the panel, and express your view of things,” he said.

He led them out of the inn and through the streets of Neverwinter to a district near the military and upper echelon of authority in the City. It was known that the councilmembers of the Lord’s Alliance lived nearby. He brought them to a large ornate building with a solid oak door.

“Wait here,” he said, and he disappeared within the building, closing the door behind him. They could hear the muffled sounds of discussion behind the solid door. It reopened, “Best of luck to you,” Syldar said as he ushered everyone in.

They entered a room with a giant semi-circle table in its center, with seven people seated around it. A human male with brown curly, shoulder-length hair sat at the table with papers strewn about him. He appeared to be the one in charge. They also noticed Krim Breakhandle sat to the right of an unknown man. Eru recognized a male High Elf sitting at the table: Alaviri, her father’s financial advisor. She waved, but he ignored her.

There was a small buffet of bread, meats, and water. They were invited to partake and directed to their seats, which were lined up before the table. Eru grabbed a plate and sat down quickly, shoving bread in her mouth.

“Well, you seem to be the man in charge,” Bartholomew addressed the curly-headed human. “I’m Bartholomew and we appreciate you hearing our side of the story.”

“Yes. I am Julius Brekenwall,” he said, “We have heard the statements of Krim, Kriz’Ak, and other witnesses. And we have calculated all of the damages. Now we are prepared to entertain your story. Would any of you like to speak first, or would you rather we list out the complaints made against you today?”

Eru quickly shoved another piece of bread into her mouth, looking around.

“No one? Okay, we shall address the complaints. Eru, we shall start with yours.”

She swallows, hard, and swigs a mug of water.

“You are accused of five counts of using magic to influence people. There is a 100 gold piece fine toward each person your magic was inflicted upon. You are accused of using Suggestion against Lord Breakhandle to pay you double the agreed-upon price as well as purchase some ale tankard. Charm Person against Kriz’Ak, Charm Person against two members of Krim’s household guard, and the death of a guard by some type of insect magic. The death warrants a fine of 500 gold pieces, to be paid to his family.”

“I never used Suggestion against Krim,” Eru defended herself.

“The eyewitness, Kriz’Ak, reports otherwise,” Julius retorted.

“Well, it’s his word against ours and I repeat: I never tried to use Suggestion.”

“And the rest,” he asked, waiting.

“I deny them! And as far as that bug? We complained on multiple occasions about the infestation of bugs in the room that we were held prisoner in. Multiple times! Nobody listened to us! There were so many bugs,” she shuddered.

“Well,” Julius continued, “since Krim has no recollection of you casting Suggestion against him, and we only have the hearsay testimony of Kriz’Ak, I cannot enforce that judgment. But we have irrefutable first-person testimony of the three instances you used Charm Person, totalling a fine of 300 gold pieces. And we have eyewitness testimony of a guard who saw you mutter arcane words and flick an insect at the decedent. So, another 500 gold pieces to your punishment. If you accept, Alaviri has authority to pay those reparations, in full, on your behalf. Do you accept?”
“I would like to wait until I hear any judgments against my friends,” she said as she held her head up high.

“Very well.”

Mew interrupted the proceedings before they could continue, “Did you know that Krim has enslaved Kriz’Ak? He supports slavery! And keeps poor, sentient creatures locked up in some type of magical stasis in his basement!”

Julius looked at her, then addressed a dark-skinned man next to Krim, “Kriz’Ak, is this true?”

The man smiled, “I am of his service. He pays me nicely.”

Eru exploded, “That’s not Kriz’Ak!”

Mew simultaneously exploded, “Do you have any clerics who can dispel magic?!!”

“Have you heard of the Zone of Truth?” Julius asked the room at large.

Once more, the man smiled. His form shimmered and Kriz’Ak’s true form was revealed: red skin, black eyes, and large wings. The members of the panel all gasped, except for Julius, who remained calm and unamused. Mew nodded once, primly and with satisfaction.

“I hope you can better understand our reactions and terror when Kriz’Ak turned on us,” Mew exasperated.

“Who,” Julius consulted his notes, “tried to steal? My notes state a ‘Mew’ tried to pilfer through Lord Breakhandle’s pockets when he was unconscious.”

Mew stands up, “Pilfer? I didn’t try to pilfer! I didn’t put my hands in any pockets.”

“Ah, yes,” Julius turned to address Mew. “Let us address the charges against Mew.”

“You may refer to me as the Earl of Duque.”

Julius continued, “ Okay, Earl, I see here that you are accused of attempting to attack Lord Breakhandle in the alley. Is that so?”

“I am the Earl of Duque, not Earl. Please refer to me as such befits my rank. I am also a member of the Lords’ Alliance–as is Eru–and deserve at least a modicum of respect.” Answering the question, Mew paused and stated, “It is not so. I did not attack him. I merely misstepped.”

Julius said something about how since no blow, or even touch, was landed there isn’t any proof for or against the attack. He moved on.

“And in the basement, do you deny attacking Kriz’Ak?”

Mew got a little more huffy and said, “Kriz’Ak went crazy down there and attacked us for no reason. Anything done was done in self defense, if I did anything at all.” Then with swift, belligerent conviction, “Kriz’Ak attacked us. We were trying to free him. Once we learned of the Soul Stone and Kriz’Ak’s enslavement, we had to find a way to set him free. Slavery is bad!

“In addition to slavery, Lord Breakhandle is also guilty of abduction and imprisonment! He has a huge basement room full of sentient creatures that he had kidnapped and put in stasis! Lord Breakhandle is the one who should be on trial here. And you can put me in the Zone of Truth to prove it!”

“Very well,” Julius said and motioned to an aid, who walked out of the room.

Mew then realized what they had said and how far they had enigmatically gone off script and proceeded to sputter quietly a bit as they sat back down.

Julius stated that these new allegations against Lord Breakhandle were quite serious and would be investigated.

“The next issue,” he continued, “is stolen pants. If these pants are returned, the charges of theft will be dropped.”

“Wait, really?” Bartholomew squeaked from his chair. “I was trying to find the soul stone and escape with our lives. It was a desperate situation! Did you know the toilet swallowed me up? I lost them somewhere down in the sewers. I’ll have to backtrack and find them. I mean, c’mon, it was terrifying and dark down there. I was even attacked by a crocodile!”

At the mention of the crocodile, Julius raised an eyebrow and jotted down a note.

“Why did you steal those pants,” he inquired of Bartholomew.

“Well, Kriz’Ak referred to being a slave to Krim and we were trying to figure out where the soul stone was. We wanted to help him by finding the stone and releasing him,” Bartholomew responded.

“Kriz’Ak informed us that he is not under any type of control,” Julius stated flatly.

Eru piped up, “Isn’t that what someone under control would say?”

Julius stared at her, “Your argument is shallow.”

Bartholomew continued, “In the heat of the moment and the fighting, I thought the Soul Stone may be in Krim’s pocket. I would be willing to try to find the pants in the sewers.”

“If you cannot find the pants within one week, you’ll need to pay 600 gold pieces for the loss. And you’ll be escorted by a few of my men during your search,” Julius replied.

“Understood.”

“Next,” Julius addressed the group, “we have the death of a guard by some sort of druidic magic.”

“Heeeeeeey,” Morgana cooed.

“Are you one of the ones that disappeared in a bathroom?” he asked her.

“I escaped out of a window. Maybe I disappeared in the bathroom. Maybe,” she said.

“Tell us more about the guard,” he asked.

“Well, he came at me. I didn’t know what to do. It just… happened. It was self-defense,” she hurriedly replied.

“And the door that you destroyed in Lord Breakhandle’s house?”

“I panicked,” she said, her eyes wide. “I was trying to save my friends! And Bartholomew disappeared and never came back. I didn’t know what was happening to us. We were being held against our will and–”

Julius held up his hand and interrupted her, “We are investigating the charges against Lord Breakhandle for the improper handling and unlawful imprisonment of you and your friends. But as of right now, we are dealing with the charges facing you.”

The aid emerged back through the doorway followed by a dwarf dressed in thick robes.

“Ah,” Julius smiled, “We shall employ some magical assistance to find out the truth of these matters. As of right now, the fines against you all are 500 gold pieces against Morgana for the death of a guard, 600 gold pieces against Bartholomew if he doesn’t return the pants within seven days, 800 gold pieces against Eru for her magical indiscretions and death of a guard, 500 gold pieces returned to Lord Breakhandle that were unjustly procured for the hired task, and 500 gold pieces returned to Lord Breakhandle for the sale of an ordinary ale tankard. We have decided to reduce these charges by 400 gold pieces due to the improper handling of your imprisonment by his household. So the total due in reparations, to be paid immediately, is 2500 gold pieces.”

He smiled at Krim and continued, “Lord Breakhandle has graciously offered an alternative option. Each of you will receive two enchanted bracelets to be worn on both wrists. You will have 30 days to complete a task for Lord Breakhandle. If the task is not completed in time, the bracelets will sever your hands.”

The faces of the four adventurers were, as you would guess, not favorable toward losing their hands.

“What’s the task?” Mew asked.

“There is a magical item hidden on Mt. Hotenow,” Julius replied.

“What kind of item?” Morgana asked.

“A mythril cube,” was the answer.

“Oooooh mythril,” Morgana whispered.

“Wait a minute,” Eru spoke up, “isn’t Mt. Hotenow protected by ogres?”

“That is the rumor,” he said. “If you do not accept Lord Breakhandle’s proposal and you cannot pay the fines, you will be stripped of your belongings and exiled from Neverwinter.”

“I would like to talk to my father’s advisor, please,” Eru requested.

“Very well,” Julius conceded, and Alaviri and Eru were allowed a private moment aside.

“Eru,” Alaviri asked, “did you really use Charm Person on guards?”

“Well,” she looked at the ground, “um, not, um–” her gaze met his, “I had no choice!” She blathered about how Kriz’Ak was enslaved, they were trying to free him, he attacked her friends, they were held against their will. “I – I needed friends. They walked me to the bathroom and I was scared. You of all people should know this.”

“Eru, you know you cannot do that. It is … wrong,” he chastised.

“Did you know that Krim didn’t care that I was turned to stone? He sent us, unawares, to a very dangerous place. And did you know that Mew was the one who saved me?!”

“Your parents,“ he hissed, “do not approve of Mew. And neither do I.”

Eru stood taller and looked him in the eyes, “Mew is a gift from the Goddess!”

“That is up for debate,” he whispered. “Now,” he continued, “about your debts. Your parents are willing to pay for only your debts.”

“What of my friends,” she asked.

“They will do nothing for Mew. But I will do my best to persuade them to help the others. If that is what you wish,” Alaviri conceded.

“I do,” Eru replied. He bowed, and turned and walked away. “And Alaviri,” she called behind him. He stopped and turned to face her.

“Yes?”

“Please try to include Mew,” she pleaded. He huffed, and stormed out of the building. Eru returned to her seat.

Julius addressed the group once more, “Do any of you wish to enter the Zone of Truth?”

Lord Breakhandle’s employees each entered and shared what they witnessed. “Very well,” he looked disapprovingly at the party. “Anyone else?”

Mew stood up. “I will.”

“This way, please,” Julius directed Mew in front of the dwarf.

“Now,” Julius said, “ since there has been some confusion about your name–you do seem to have a lot of them–please state your real full name.”

“Hold, please,” was Mew’s perplexing response. After some moments of deep thought and what looked like intense searching of their memory, Mew calmly stated, “Veldrin Uln’hyrr.”

“And what land do you come from?” the questioning continued.

“I hale from the Border Kingdoms. It’s where I spent much of my time.”

“And before that?”

Mew looked at him, “Well, right before that I was in the shadow [mumble mumble]…Marsh…no…What was it called? Shit! I need my map. That marshy sort of area south of the Border Kingdoms.”

He blinked, “And is your title the Earl of Duque?”

“Yes,” Mew replied.

“And why are you dressed differently today than how Krim remembers you?”

“Well, I am the Earl of Duque. When I met Krim, it was to go adventuring. To wander, to face dangers, to find a javelin. I wore my adventuring clothes. And, besides, sometimes one does not wish to be recognized as a member of the Elite. As some of you, I’m sure, understand. Today, and last night, I dress appropriately to show my station and my respect to you and these proceedings.”

“Did you or any others use magic on Lord Breakhandle?”

“I cannot be certain,” was Mew’s only response.

Julius wrote down some notes. “Did you attempt to steal from Lord Breakhandle’s house?”

“Yes,” Mew spat. “I was angry! I stole a bust from the hallway. There were bugs in our room where we were imprisoned against our will! Unacceptable bathrooms. It was very frustrating, and they were,” Mew paused, “unkind.”

“Did you steal anything else,” Julius questioned.

“I may have taken some papers,” Mew said flatly.

Julius sighed, “Are you able to return them?”

“It’s not easily done, but I can try.”

“Why not,” Julius pushed.

“Because,” Mew’s laughed, no–cackled, no–ripped apart with mirth. Then continued, almost inaudibly through the laughter, “I burned them!”

Mew’s raucousness continued a moment, almost squawking. Then, without blinking, Mew calmed and said, “Next question.”

“Did you or your allies convince Lord Breakhandle to pay more than the contract originally stated?”

“Can you rephrase the question,” Mew countered.

“No,” was Julius’s only reply.

“Well, we asked politely. We weren’t properly briefed on the dangers that faced us. Eru almost died. She was turned to stone. That is an unacceptable loss due to a risk he knew of but did not tell us about. We did inquire if Krim would pay an additional cost.”

“And was he willing to pay as requested,” Julius asked.

“We kept negotiating until, yes, he finally paid.”

“Moving right along,” Julius continued, “Do you know where the pants are?”

“No.”

“Did you or your allies kill any guards?”

“I’m not sure,” Mew replied. “I did not. Hey, can we discuss the issue of slavery? The Soul Stone is controlled by Krim, which, in turn, controls Kriz’Ak. I want you to keep that on the books as I’m in the Zone of Truth. It’s the truth! Lord Breakhandle is a slave owner and has lots of sentient creatures held in stasis in his house–against their will.”

Julius wrote down some notes and turned to Kriz’Ak, “Would you like a moment in the Zone of Truth?”

“Yes, I would,” he replied. Mew sat back down and Kriz’Ak stepped in and adjusted his suit. Mew shot him a coy wink as they passed.

“Kriz’Ak,” Julius asked, “are you aware of a soul stone and its properties?”

“Yes. I am bound to the soul stone and I must obey Krim Breakhandle.” Julius scribbles some notes.

“And can you tell us about the events that led up to the confrontation that evening?”

“It appeared that,” he looks at Morgana and points, “she tried to use the Charm Person spell on me. And Eru used a similar spell on Lord Breakhandle.” He recounted the use of magic in the alley that he witnessed. And he thought Mew’s behavior was odd when they lunged at Krim with a staff, but danced around it instead.

“What were your orders from Lord Breakhandle that day?”

“That if he was attacked or touched, then I was allowed to intervene.”

“Please continue to recount,” Julius asked.

Kriz’Ak continued, “It was odd. Krim suddenly wished to leave the alley, cancel his previous plans made for that day, and took everyone to a private bar. It was strange, because Lord Breakhandle never took anyone to that bar. Ever. I firmly believe he was under some form of magical influence,” and he stared directly at Eru.

“At the suggestion of Mew,” he continued, “Krim brought everyone to his house and showed him his private collection. Eru sold him a dancing mug at an incredible price. And he passed out due to the excessive libations that he was pressured into drinking all night. As we were exiting, Mew attempted to pickpocket my Lord. And only then was I permitted to use force. And it would have been my pleasure to kill them all for taking advantage of Lord Breakhandle. But, alas, we were forced to retreat so I transported my Lord to the 9 Hells where I watched over him until we were able to get back to the mansion. The interviews with the Lord’s Alliance followed, and here we are today.”

Every member of the panel took furious notes during his monologue.

“Well,” Julius said calmly, “This is a lot to take in.”

Mew loudly said, “That may be his perspective, but it’s just his opinions! It’s his view of our actions, not the truth of them!”

“Yes, yes, that will all be taken into account. Would any others wish to step in,” Julius offered.

Morgana stepped forward.

“Please state your full name and where you hale from.”

“Mora Gana, those that know me well call me Morgana; I am a human druid of the Circle of the Moon. I’m from the Sword Coast North.

“Okay,” Julius continued, “did you or your allies cast magic on Lord Breakhandle or his companions?”

“Yes.”

“On Lord Breakhandle himself?”

“Not that I saw,” she replied.

“What magical spells did you use on his companions?”

“I was attacked, and I panicked. So I used Poison Spray on a guard.”

“Was he the guard you killed?”

“No. It was self-defense. But as far as I’m aware, he didn’t die.”

“Any others?”

“Um,” she replied, “I killed the door.”

“Okay. And what about the cremated guard?”

“Oh, that? That was the Moonbeam’s doing. He walked into it. That wasn’t my fault. Again, it was self-defense. I had to save my friends!”

“Did you feel there was danger?”

“Absolutely!! I didn’t know where my friends were anymore.”

“Okay. And do you know where the pants are?”

“No,” she replied.

“What about the missing bust or papers?”

“Nope.”

“And do you know anything about you or your companions trying to elicit more funds from Lord Breakhandle?”

“Yes,” she said, sheepishly.

“Please give us more detail,” he pressed.

“Well, we told Krim Breakhandle about the javelin and the Medusa and how Eru was turned to stone and the costs to bring her back. We requested extra money to cover that loss.”

“Was Lord Breakhandle willing to pay those extra costs?”

“Not at first,” Morgana replied.

“But he eventually decided to pay more?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know what magic was used, if any, against him,” Julius inquired.

“I have no idea.”

“Please clarify, did you mention that you found the javelin?”

“Yes,” Morgana replied, “We did. But we let Krim know that we were so busy trying to fight off the Medusa and save Eru that we weren’t able to retrieve it.”

“Okay. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your party being paid extra wages for the job?”

“Nope.”

Julius tapped his notes, “Your party kept disappearing from Krim’s house. You did, I understand. How?”

“Well,” she laughed, “Technically, I didn’t disappear. I turned into a lizard…like, a big lizard.”

“And how’d the halfling escape?”

She chuckled, “Down the toilet. It was a harrowing story involving a crocodile battle”

Mew stood up, walked to the table, pulled the stolen bust out of their satchel, and placed it on the table. “The papers are gonna take a some work,” Mew said and sat back down.

“Anyone else wish to step in?” Julius asked, as Morgana sat back down. Eru shook her head, but Bartholomew stood up and entered the Zone.

“Please state your full name,” Julius started.

“Bartholomew Baggins,” he replied.

“And where are you from?”

“Don’t you know? The Shire,” he said with a smile.

“Did you cast magic on Krim Breakhandle?”

“No,” Bartholomew answered.

“Did you attack Lord Breakhandle’s companions?”

“I did not,” was his reply.

“Was there any attempt by you or your allies to make Lord Breakhandle pay more gold than was contracted?”

“I cannot be certain,” he said straight-faced.

“Do you know the whereabouts of the missing pants?”

“I cannot be certain,” he repeated.

“But, you originally stole Lord Breakhandle’s pants from his person; correct?” Julius asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Yes.”

“Will you be able to recover the pants within seven days, Barthlomew?”

“I’m not sure….”

“Do you feel you were held in Lord Breakhandle’s abode under duress?”

“Yes!! We were attacked and imprisoned!!”

“So I’ve heard. But those acts were in retaliation to the attempted theft by Mew,” Julius countered.

“You have no proof of that, only an allegation. You seem to be taking the beliefs of our accusers more seriously than our truthful statements of our actions given in the Zone of Truth. Remember, please, that their beliefs are not fact!” Mew spoke imperiously.

Julius again told Mew that all that would be taken into consideration and redirected his attention the halfling.

“I can’t be sure. All I know is he started attacking my friends,” Bartholomew said, arms waving toward Kriz’Ak.

“And yet, you escaped. I’ve been told you were…let me consult my notes…ah yes, and I quote, ‘sucked down the toilet.’ Is that true?”

“I wasn’t sucked. I fell,” Bartholomew corrected. Julius did not alter his notes.

“Did you enter the sewer pipes of your own free will?”

“Yes, yes I did.”

“But,” Julius looked perplexed, “why?”

“To escape. To alert the authorities and get help for my friends!”

“Thank you. You may sit down now.” Bartholomew did so. Julius scanned the room, “Any others wish to testify in the Zone of Truth?”

Eru did not speak up.

As Julius was about to close the Zone of Truth session, Bartholomew spoke up, “What about Krim!? Doesn’t he get to do the Zone of Truth?”

Mew died a little on the inside but tried not to show it.

“Lord Breakhandle?” Julius inquired.

“Yes,” Krim spoke up, and stood before the dwarf to engage in the Zone of Truth.

“Lord Breakhandle, as a formality, please state your full name and where you are from,” Julius began.

“Lord Krim Breakhandle. I am from Waterdeep, but I live here in Neverwinter,” he said.

“Please, share with us the events of that day and evening.”

“Well, prior to meeting,” Krim points to the seated party members, “them in the alley, I had no intention of paying beyond the agreed-upon price, especially for any reparations against their ill-preparedness. I’m a businessman, after all. And I had evening plans, which I completely disregarded. Instead, I opted to have a ‘merry day’. I insist that you,” and he points to the panel, “bring in Tammy, the bartender, to come in and testify. She knows I never bring anyone with me, other than Kriz’Ak. I obviously was under some sort of magical influence.”

“Anything else you wish to share with us?”

“No,” he replied, and joined Kriz’Ak once more.

“Okay. We’ve heard all that we needed. Will you all please step outside as the panel discusses what we’ve learned this morning,” Julius directed.

Morgana crammed food onto an overflowing plate and stepped outside with her friends. The door closed heavily behind them. They whispered amongst themselves about how they were going to handle the situation. Would they pay in full? Mew shot that down right away. Eru’s parents would not pay any money if it meant including Mew’s transgressions. So, they decided to accept Krim’s offer and seek out the mythril cube on Mt. Hotenow. Morgana peeked her head over her huddled group and made eye contact with Krim. She loudly said in his direction, “Boxers, not briefs,” and broke into a fit of giggles.

They were escorted back inside the building and told that the panel has not changed its mind as to their earlier findings. Mew informed Julius that they accepted Lord Breakhandle’s proposal–and again made a stink about the slavery and abduction.

“Very good. This makes my job easier,” he said. “Please come forward and each take a pair of bracelets.”

They did as they were told. The bracelets were of a metal unknown to any of them, casting a reflective blue-purple shine. Once placed on each wrist, they could not be removed.

“Remember,” Julius said, “You have 30 days to complete this task. That means return the mythril cube on or before Kythorn 30, or you shall all lose your hands.” Krim discussed the details and a map of the rumored location of the cube. He informed them of the known presence of ogres on Mt. Hotenow. There were also sightings of griffins and other insect-like creatures on Hotenow. And it’s been said that mages and barghests roam the nearby forests. Once satisfied Julius dismissed the party from the building with a stern reminder, “Kythorn 30.”

As the door shut behind them, they heard Julius say, “Lord Breakhandle and Kriz’Ak, please stay as we have another matter to discuss.”

They stepped out into the late afternoon sunlight. All breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the long proceedings. Everyone inspected their bracelets. Eru noticed the blinking red beacon on her wrist had faded. She wondered if it was only beaming underneath the moonlight.

They immediately went shopping for the journey ahead. Eru purchased two regular healing potions and a staff, Mew purchased another 1,000 ball bearings, and Morgana tried to locate any potions like chloroform.

“Poisons,” the shopkeeper asked, offended. “I don’t carry any of that here. Actually, I don’t think there’s any in Neverwinter…not from respectable businessfolk, at least.”

Bartholomew put on Krim’s pants. They were baggy for a moment, but quickly shrunk to his halfling form. Good lookin’ pants! He shoved his hand in the pocket and tried to pull out Monte, but came up empty-handed…. He scratched his balding monk-head.

Morgana expressed a desire to learn voodoo. Eru pulled out her voodoo doll and cast Tiny Servant on it. It sprouted arms and legs. Eru named him Tampoon. She tried to teach Morgana the spell, but Morgana just couldn’t grasp it.

Morgana continued to scour Neverwinter in search of poisons to put someone to sleep. Much like Bartholomew’s pockets, she came up empty-handed.

“Bartholomew,” Eru tapped him on the shoulder.

“Yeah?”

“Um, if I give you this Elven shortsword, may I borrow your moon crystal staff once a month during the full moon?”

He smiled widely and took the offered sword, “Sure!!!” Newly armed, he sold his regular shortsword for four gold pieces.

Morgana found her way back to Tammy’s bar.

“How much for, you know, one of those drinks,” she asked the bartender.

“20 gold pieces,” Tammy replied.

“Here ya go. Oh! And can I get it to go?” and Morgana counted out the 20 gold pieces. Tammy rolled her eyes and poured her the drink in a to go flask. disgusted.

Mew took Donut out to train him how to attack and parry. Both bored of the chore, he soon followed Mew around to a local blacksmith.

“Excuse me,” Mew interrupted.

The blacksmith stopped working, “Yes?”

“Do you think you can make small leather armor for my dog here?”

“That,” he asked, pointing to Donut, who blinked in and out around Mew’s ankles. “Well, it may hinder your dog’s uh special, um… abilities.”

“Oh, nevermind!” And Mew continued to shop, Donut blinking around and licking Mew’s ear from time to time. Mew tried to hunt down any poisons in town, but couldn’t remember any contacts who may know where to get them.

Morgana went to the library to research the creatures discussed on Mt. Hotenow. She also tried to locate maps of the caverns inside Hotenow, but couldn’t find any.

Mew and Morgana went to the baker, Theodore, to discuss the sigil on Eru’s wrist.

“Teds!” Morgana announced as they entered the bakery.

“It’s Theodore,” he corrected.

“Our friend has this symbol on her wrist of a cat o’nine tails and some bones. Do you know what it means? It appeared after we hired a discount cleric for a spell,” Mew said.

“Ah, that. Yes, I may know that symbol…for 100 gold pieces,” he said, holding out his palm.

“I can pay you 100 gold pieces today or tonight, Teds. I just don’t have it on me right now,” Morgana said.

Mew interjected, “How soon can you get us the information? We’re in a bit of a time crunch.”

“Make it 150 and I can get it tonight. And it’s Theodore,” he said, threateningly.

Mew agreed to pay the 150 gold pieces.

“Come back after the sun goes down,” Theodore instructed.

As they left the bakery, Mew said, “Oh, and I prefer chocolate for my pastries!”

Eru wandered back to the arcane academy and perused the library. She pulled out the Color Spray spell and transcribed it into her book, dedicating the correct amount of time (and gold) to learn it well.

Bartholomew learned about ogres from other adventurers. He found out that they are “rough sons of bitches”.

“How’d you beat ‘em?” Bartholomew asked.

“Beat ‘em?” The men laughed, “Ha! We ran. They’re HUGE!!! But their hearing and eyesight ain’t so great… but oh man, that sense of smell. They’ll find ya.”

Bartholomew immediately went out and purchased two bottles of perfume for 10 gold pieces: one lavender and one vanilla. And they were potent!

Morgana also located and purchased a pint of oil in a clay flask.

At sundown, Mew and Morgana made their way back to Ted’s bakery.

“Welcome back,” he said. “I’ve got that chocolate pastry you ordered. 150 gold pieces, please.”

Mew took half from the Kitty, Morgana paid 25, and Mew was going to pay the remaining 50 until seeing Morgana’s 25. Mew deftly switched out some coin with the Kitty until Mew’s contribution matched Morgana’s.

“It ain’t good,” Teds started. “Once marked, that person will be hunted by Loviatar’s minions, called Reapers. They seek out the mark to claim the soul of that person. Now, I’ve heard that a handful of people have escaped the Reapers by offering up the soul of another. They also say a man lives east of Anauroch, a giant desert. He claims to have access to souls and may be willing to help. But,” he continues, “not all souls are equal. You need a soul of the same strength and power.”

“Any advice for the person who is marked,” Morgana asked.

“Well, I’d say avoid any damage. It brings the Reapers closer,” Theodore replied.

“What can you tell us about Loviatar?”

“Only what I know,” he said. “She’s in the Outer Realms with the gods. She is subservient to Bhaal. And I know that she and Lolth will not get along.”

“Thanks, Teds,” Mew said, and bought 8 buns, plus one for Donut.

“It’s THEODORE. And that’ll be 5 gold pieces. A man’s gotta make a living,” he said. Mew handed him the coin and expressed appreciation.

Armed with Bartholomew’s moonlight staff, Morgana and Eru found a quiet, moonlit meadow to pray. Unfortunately, Eru didn’t feel the same connection with Sehanine Moonbow as she had in the past. Although she felt a warm sensation due to her near-death experience, she felt nothing more. Dejected, she looked at her tattoo, which glowed in the moonlight. Morgana prayed to Selûne for the safety of the group and for the animals to watch over them.

They all met up back at the Inn and tucked in for a night of rest.

**PAUSE**

The next morning, everyone decided it would be prudent to learn more about Mount Hotenow and the creatures within. And the best place to find information? Taverns!

“The bars!” Eru shouted, “Oh, I can get a new Monte!” She gasped in excitement, clapping her hands. “I need a new Monte because I feel so bad – I never should have sold my friend!!”

“Do you know how much that costs?” Morgana asked her.

“Well, it’s a beer, dude,” she looked at Morgana like she was ridiculous. “I’ll buy me a beer. And I think the last tankard cost me like 5 copper – or 5 silver.”

“I don’t remember,” Morgana replied.

“So, are we going to a watering hole to learn about the scary beasts that roam Mount Hotenow?”

“Yeah,” Mew replied. “And anything in between Neverwinter and where we’re going.”

They searched for a tavern where a lot of traveling adventurers frequent. They found The Lumpy Dragon tavern, previously known as The Severed Orcs Head but it had recently been bought out and was under new management. They asked around for any knowledgeable folk of Mount Hotenow and surrounding forests and were directed to one individual who seemed to be a bit more well-versed than the rest.

He was a medium-sized half-elf, dark hair, wearing colors of the forest: greens, grays, browns. He wore a hooded cloak made of the pelt of a dire wolf, the head of the wolf formed the hood.

This guy might know what he’s doing, Mew thought.

“He looks like a wolf,” Bartholomew whispered in awe. The half-elf sat off to himself in a corner sipping on a tankard of ale.

“Who wants to talk to him?” Mew quietly asked.

“I don’t…he looks like he’s brooding,” Bartholomew quickly replied.

“Well, that guy looks like he knows things,” Morgana interjected.

“Well, brooding means grumpy right?” Eru asked her friends.

“Not really,” Mew told her.

“He looks like he’s contemplating,” Bartholomew said.

“Observing,” Morgana said.

“Hm,” Eru said and suddenly walked right up to the half-elf, stuck out her finger, poked his tankard and cast Tiny Servant.

“Why -” he said while he looked at the elf who just walked up to him, as the tankard sprouted arms and legs.

He laughed.

“Someone’s gonna get stabbed,” Bartholomew told Mew and Eru.

“I don’t know who you are,” Eru addressed the man, “but I am going to buy that mug off of you by the time this conversation is over.”

“Well, you gotta buy me a drink. A new ale is what you’re going to buy me,” he told her.

“Why don’t I go buy you a new ale?” she suggested. “This one’s is empty,” and she took his tankard.

“And you can have the mug ‘cause that mug’s empty,” he called behind her as she walked to the barkeep.

She held the tankard up to the barkeep, it’s arms and legs flapped around. “I need to buy this mug from you.” She shook it.

“What the hell have you done with that thing?!” the barkeep asked.

“I – I didn’t do anything,” Eru lied, “but I want this.” She immediately cringed inwardly as she caught herself in the act…yet again…but she wanted Monte Jr. so badly that she didn’t care.

“Alright. Uh, I’ll sell it to you for, uh, 10 silver,” the barkeep said.

“Done. And I’d also like two ales please, in new mugs,” she said.

“Alright. Uh, two silver a piece.” Eru slapped down the coins, gathered up the two full ale tankards and tucked the squirming tankard under her arm and walked back to the half-elf, handing him his ale. She sat down at the table. Monte Jr. walked around the tabletop before them.

“Who are you and what’s going on with this beer mug?” the stranger asked Eru.

Eru panicked and looked for Mew in the tavern; who sat at a different table. Eru called Mew over.

The stranger noticed Eru’s uncomfortable silence and reaction. “If you’d like, I can join you guys at your table,” he told her.

“No, it’s more fun this way,” she replied.

Mew sighed heavily, wandered over to the table, and laid their head on Eru’s shoulder. After blinking a few times Mew broke the silence, “Hi.”

Morgana searched for any lit torches or fires, but it was too early in the day and the daylight streamed through the window near their table.

“Hello,” he responded to Mew’s greeting.

Eru asked Monte Jr. telepathically to pull on Mew’s hair. Monte Jr. climbed up on Mew’s shoulder, but Mew gently grabbed it, looked at him directly in his non-face, and commanded, “Monte, sit.”

He didn’t sit until Eru told him to.

“So what brought you over to my table?” the half-elf asked them.

“Eru -” Mew replied.

“ -I wanted your mug,” Eru said at the same time.

“That’s it? You just wanted my mug? Well, thanks for the beer,” he held up his tankard.

“You’re welcome. Cheers!” Eru and he clinked tankards.

“And, uh -” Eru began.

“And you are?” he asked.

“Um, I’m Eru. This is -”

“Eru?”

“Eru,” she corrected his pronunciation.

“Eru? Like arrow?” he sought clarification.

“No. Like, well, it’s Eruiastaniel Highguard,” she corrected him again.

“Arrow? Like these,” he asked, patting his quiver.

“Like Eru,” Mew said.

“Not like that,” Eru addressed his quiver.

“Like Eru. Okay, not like the arrows that are sitting right there.”

Exasperated, Eru rolls her eyes, “Mew, I’m not doing good!”

The stranger and Mew both chuckled.

“I’m Brinn,” he offered, “by the way.”

“Hi Brinn,” Eru excitedly said, happy to stop correcting the pronunciation of her name.

“What brought you to my table,” he asked again.

“I told you,” Eru said, “your mug.”

“My mug. That’s it?”

“Yeah, well Mew knows more,” Eru quickly passed.

Mew chuckled.

“I have this,” Eru said, grabbing at Monte Jr.

“I should go over there,” Bartholomew told Morgana.

“Um, you look like someone who might know about the area around here. Do you go outside and, um, do things?” Mew asked Brinn.

“I go out and do things, yes.” Brinn said, laughing.

“Okay, good.”

“Quite a lot,” he continued, “I’m really actually kind of uncomfortable in the city setting right now.”

“Oh, well – ” Mew started to say but was interrupted.

“I’m about ready to take off and head out back in the woods,” he said.

“Which direction,” Mew pried.

“Northeast,” he responded and shrugged.

“Are you familiar with what’s up north?” Mew pressed.

“In – in the Neverwinter Woods? I’m very familiar with the woods here, yes.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“These woods, Larkwood, uh Highwoods,” he listed.

“Have you ever heard of, um, Mount Hotenow,” Mew asked.

“Oh yeah.”

“You been there a lot?”

“I’ve never,” he stumbled, “been there, but I know where it’s at. It’s a big volcano that’s up there in the mountains.”

“I do like volcanos,” Mew whispered.

“On the spine of the world,” he said with flourish.

“Ooooh,” Mew’s eyes lit up. “That I like. That sounds very – I’m getting much more excited about this!”

“Those are just the crags,” some random tavern patron mumbled from a nearby table.

“Oh, the crags. Part of the crags, yeah,” Brinn acknowledged the correction.

“Oh,” Mew said, deflated. “So, is that like the tailbone then?”

“Something like that,” he said. “Yeah,it’s kind of like the ass crack of the world.”
“Excellent,” Mew laughed, “Although, I’m less excited but it’s still interesting.”

Mew looked over at Bartholomew and Morgana. “Are – are you coming over, Bartholomew,” Mew called.

“I don’t know…” he mumbled.

“Um, so we -” Mew began, but was one more interrupted by Brinn.

“Are you interested in heading out in the woods ‘cause I’m heading that way?”

“We are. It might be nice to travel with someone who has been there before ‘cause we don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in that direction exactly,” Mew let him know.

“Well, I can tell that,” he said, leaning back into his chair and sipping on ale. “You’re all city dwellers, are you not?” he asked looking over the brim of the tankard.

“Often,” was the only reply.

“Often?” he asked. Eru chuckled.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bartholomew asked Morgana as they eavesdropped.

“Except for,” Brinn continued, noticing the nearby woman clad in leather armor and the druidic cloak, “that one. It looks like she might be affiliated with some things out here that I might know of.” He points at Morgana.

Noticing the gesture, Morgana walked up to the table.

“That’s for her to say,” Mew replied, looking at Morgana.

“Maybe,” Morgana said slyly. “Are you a druid, too,” she asked Brinn.

“No, my mother was, though.”

“Ahhh,” she said. “What – what was her name? You used the past tense.”

“Yeah,” he said, “her name was Lia Nailo. She was a great elf from the Highwoods.”

“That’s pretty,” Morgana replied.

“That’s a beautiful name,” Eru cooed. She was familiar with the Highwoods.

“Do you know Silverymoon?” Eru asked Brinn.

He dodged the question, “The Harpers? Do you guys know the Harpers?”

They looked around blankly.

“So you have no idea who the Harpers are? Well, I’ll stop talking about them,” he said.

Since everyone was seated around Brinn’s table, Bartholomew wandered over, too, carrying a peanut butter stout with him. His tobacco pipe was lit and smokin’ while he sauntered up.

“Bartholomewwww,” Eru greeted him.

“Well met, young man” Brinn greeted the three-foot tall halfling and clinked tankards.

“So who’s this fellow?” he asked as he sat down.

“Is this your child?” he asked the party.

Everyone broke up laughing.

“I beg your pardon,” Bartholomew stated, annoyed.

“You flatter me, sir,” Mew replied.

“I am NOT a child,” Bartholomew continued.

“Well, from your stature I assumed, but I admit my mistake. You’re a halfling, are you not,” Brinn said.

“I am,” he said, flatly.

“So, I see you have a good sense of humor,” Mew pointed at Brinn.

“I do.”

“This may work…” Mew trailed off, drinking some ale.

“What’s in your pocket, Bartholomew?” Morgana asked him.

“Yeah, Bartholomew, can you find Monte in your pocket?” Eru asked him, hopeful.

“Oh yeah, I don’t know if I tried that.”

“I don’t know,” she continued. “Your pants fit you now.”

Bartholomew reached into his pocket and there was no Monte in there. Brinn watched, amused.

“So you wish to explore the wilderness for some reason? Why would you want to go out in the wilderness? It’s full of dangers in there,” Brinn turned the line of questioning back onto the group.

“Well, we have these matching bracelets,” Morgana said, holding up her wrists.

“I noticed that,” Brinn replied as the metal clinked together.

“We’ve been hired to do a quest and our payment is that these bracelets get removed,” Mew explained.

“They look very nice. Why would you like to remove them?” he asked.

“They’re not as nice as they look.”

“They are not,” Morgana asserted. “We all want both of our hands by the end of the 30 days.”

“What do you all mean by that?” Brinn asked. “I don’t understand.”

“Mew?” Morgana looked at them.

“Ya’ll give so much information away,” Mew said.

“I didn’t!!” Eru defended herself, “That was Morgana.”

“I have to trust you if I’m going to lead you somewhere,” Brinn stated.

Morgana coughed, “We are an honest folk. Most honest.” Mew, Eru, and Bartholomew laughed.

“What was that?” Brinn asked suspiciously.

“We’ve had a lot to drink,” Mew defended.

“We’re stressed. We’re laughing in fear,” Morgana countered.

“I’m laughing at Monte Jr.,” Eru defended once more as Monte did some tricks.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s just nervous laughter,” Bartholomew agreed.

“All right, all right,” Mew put her hands on the table, the bracelets clinking. “So what happened is that we had a run-in with someone who is more important in this city than we will ever be.”

“Mm-hmm,” Brinn listened.

“And the law was not on our side because we’re not as important as that person,” Mew continued.

“That’s why I don’t hang out in cities,” Brinn offered. “That’s why I said I’m going to leave the city.”

“And we’re happy to leave, totally happy to leave. Um, so things didn’t quite go our way. So, um, we do what we can to help where we’re able. We, you know, set some people free, we found some imprisoned people and set them and -” Mew badly explained.

“Imprisoned by who?” Brinn interrupted.

Mew sighed. “What was that dude’s name? He had a staff or something.”

Nobody answered.

“Oh,” Mew remembered, “That Glasstaff dude. Yeah. It was a little small town – he had some people imprisoned.”

Eru interrupted, “The small town was Phandelin.”

“Yeah. If you ever run across Jimbo’s Band,” Mew began but was interrupted by the excited gasps and cries of Eru, Morgana, and Bartholomew. Mew continued, “You tell them that we say hi.”

“Jimbo’s Band?” he asked.

“Yep.”

“They’re so much fun,” Morgana said excitedly.

“They really are,” Mew said.

“You don’t even know…” Morgana trailed off.

“They’re actually gonna go places one day,” Eru predicted.

“Well, if you give me – I’ll take you if you just give me a chance to kill orcs and ogres,” Brinn said.

“Okay. Done!” Morgana shouted.

“There will be so many ogres,” Mew said.

“So many.” Mew agreed with themselves.

“That sounds dangerous,” Bartholomew whispered.

“Wait,” Eru asked, “why don’t you like ogres?”

“They killed my whole family,” he said.

“That’s a damn good reason not to like ogres,” Eru stated. Monte Jr. pumped his little fist in the air.

“My name is actually Brinn Orcsbane.”

“Awwww,” Mew cooed.

“They don’t like me.” Brinn continued.

“That’s very fancy,” Mew said.

“Were you born with that name?” Morgana asked.

“No. It was given to me,” Brinn paused, “by the orcs.”

“Oh! By the orcs,” Mew replied, intrigued.

“After I killed a few tribes of orcs. I wiped ‘em out,” Brinn said smugly.

“Are you exaggerating?” Eru asked.

“You should always claim tribes,” he replied.

“So you’re saying these orcs gave you this name?” Bartholomew asked.

“Yeah, they don’t like me.”

“They fear you?” Morgana asked.

“They fear me a little,” he said, sipping his ale.

“I – we need you,” Eru said.

“You need me?”

“Yeah,” she says.

“I need you, too,” he says. She giggles.

‘We would definately enjoy your company. I think it would be useful. Hopefully, a mutually beneficial sort of -” Mew rambled.

“Well, what’s this quest you have?” he interrupted.

“We have to go retrieve a mythril cube from some foundry at a hole in the ground,” Mew explained.

“Oh, the dwarven mines?”

“Yes, that place. Have you been there?”

“No,” he says.

“Okay, I mean, I gave a bad description and you were like ‘Oh, I know exactly where you’re talking about!’ so -” Mew said.

“I can probably help you find the place,” he said.

“Okay. Cool.”

“And I’m pretty good at moving through the woods,” he replied.

“Are you comfortable in an old volcano,” Eru awkwardly asked.

“I’m comfortable everywhere, honey,” he said with a sultry voice.

“Oh my,” she replied, blushing. Mew just stared at Brinn, not quite jealous.

“Sounds like we get along,” Brinn said. “I am well ready to go.”

“All right.” Mew asked, “What sorts of things do we need for that kind of a journey?”

“Do you know?” Eru asked Brinn. “We don’t get out much.”

“Oh, I would say weapons and food and water. Maybe some kind of climbing gear.”

“Cool,” Mew said. “Would about four gallons of ale help ‘cause we‘ve got that, too.”

“Some ale will work,” Brinn said. “Yeah. Some ropes. Um -”

“Is there anything we can do to like trap or entice the orcs?” Morgana asked.

“Orcs usually don’t like trapping.”

“Are they stupid?” she continued with her questions.

“Well, they’re not intelligent, but they’re ambitious,” Brinn responded.

“I have shiny things!” Bartholomew added.

“Bartholomew, what did you learn about ogres when you were out and about the other day?” Eru asked.

“Uh -” and he stared off.

“I think you told me that they have really bad eyesight,” Eru saved him.

“They do,” Brinn confirmed.

“But they have an incredible sense of -”

“- smell!” Morgana finished Eru’s sentence. “That’s right! I remember you saying that.”

“And you bought these expensive perfumes,” Eru continued.

“So they can smell you even easier,” Brinn said, laughing.

“Oh!!” Bartholomew said.

“Didn’t you buy lavender and like sandalwood,” Morgana asked.

“I did do that!” he replied, excited.

“To mask your halfling stench,” Eru teased.

“Hey!”

“Well, you did crawl through a toilet,” she countered.

“I smell very nice,” he said.

“You do have a light smell of the sewers,” Brinn said, wrinkling his nose.

“The sewers?” he asked.

“I told you, Bartholomew,” Mew chided, “You have to wash behind your ears.”

“I always forget that,” he said, lowering his gaze.

Everyone laughed.

“And you need to take your leather pack to a cleaner so they can get out the rest of that stench,” Morgana offered some advice.

“Oh dear gods,” Eru said, plugging her nose at Bartholomew.

“I tried.”

“No, no, no,” Morgana continued, “You need to go to a cleaners and pay somebody.”

“I just put it in the bathtub at the Inn,” he said.

“But we soak in that,” Eru barked.

“You used a cloth because it was – because you couldn’t put the leather in the bathtub,” Morgana reminded him of what he told her. “You used a cloth to wipe it off, but it still stinks.”

“Good job,” Mew added.

“Yeah,” Bartholomew smiled.

“Exfoliate. You have to exfoliate,” Brinn chimed in.

“Oh dear gods,” Eru rolled her eyes.

Morgana laughed. “So could those scents, those perfumes that he bought, then like, uh, mask the smell of say a halfling or an elf or a human or -”

“I would think it might bring them in,” Brinn offered.

“Would they like – do they like those smells?” she asked.

“I don’t think so. They like the smells of like rotting meat and elf flesh,” he continued.

“Augh!” Eru squealed.

“Oooh, elf flesh,” Morgana teased.

“They like elves,” Brinn winked at Morgana. Eru glared at him for a second and Monte Jr. pointed a tiny finger at Brinn.

“Wouldn’t it be good to have lavender?” Bartholomew asked Brinn.

“It might draw them off somewhere, yeah,” he answered.

“A distraction,” Morgana added.

“We can maybe -” Mew started.

“Maybe I can put it in -” Eru also spoke.

“Monte!” they both said at the same time.

“That’s an idea,” Bartholomew agreed.

“We can put it in Monte,” Morgana squealed.

“Oooooh,” Bartholomew exclaimed.

“Monte,” Eru looked at her little tankard, “You have a real purpose!”

“I wouldn’t get it on yourself,” Brinn said.

“Don’t put it on myself?” Bartholomew asked, puzzled.

“‘Cause they would be attracted to you,” Brinn said.

“Punching medusas,” Morgana praised Monte Jr.

“Oh,” Bartholomew accepted Brinn’s wisdom.

“Unless you like orcs and ogres to be attracted to you,” Brinn offered.

“Not judging,” Mew smiled at Bartholomew.

“Yeah, not judging,” Brinn agreed.

“You could make little halfling orcs,” Eru suggested.

“OoOOOOoOoh,” Bartholomew lit up, “That’d be cute!”

“Would you be able to look at tracks and see how many there were in the area?” Morgana asked Brinn.

“Oh, yes I sure can.”

“And even by smell can you detect this?” Morgana continued.

“I can – “ he began.

“Where have you been all of our lives?” Eru blabbed.

He looked at Eru annoyed, then back at Morgana “I have the skills of knowing where they’re at and what they’re doing. I’m very good at tracking down ogres and orcs.”

“Are they usually more out at night time or during the day,” Morgana’s interview continued.

“It all depends.”

“Okay,” she accepted the non-response.

“And all you want out of this is to kill them?” Eru asked Brinn.

“Yeah.”

“I like him,” Eru whispered to Mew.

“Brinn is awesome,” Mew whispered back.

“And any things we might find along the way,” he threw in there.

“We all like shiny,” Eru agreed.

“Maybe some ogre scalps,” he also added.

“Oh shit,” Morgana swore over the top of her ale tankard, then took a big swig.

“Bartholomew collects heads,” Eru nudged an elbow at Bartholomew.

“So you’re into torture?” Morgana asked.

“Yeah,” Bartholomew began to fiddle with the head on his belt.

“No,” Brinn stated. “I’m not into torture. I’m into killing.”

Bartholomew holds up the hairy skull.

“You have a hairy skull?” Brinn asks, wide-eyed.

“Yeah, do you wanna see,” and he shows it off, “I’ve been growing hair on it for a few months. And -”

“How are you growing hair on a skull? It’s dead!” Brinn asks, amazed.

“Well, it’s a long story,” Barthlomew began.

“It’s a potion!” Eru offered.

“Yeah, there was a potion and I can’t really remember what species this skull is from anymore,” he says, handing the skull to Brinn.

Brinn recognizes it as a goblin skull, although it was weird seeing locks of hair coming off of the usually thin-haired or bald goblin head.

“It’s very unusual,” and he hands the skull back to Bartholomew.

“He likes to stick it on femurs and just walk around with it,” Morgana bragged on Bartholomew’s weird intimidation tactics.

“It’s like a, you know, totem or something,” Bartholomew adds.

“That’s allll you,” Brinn replies.

“Our little short kick-ass halfling,” Eru interjects.

“Yeah,” he says as Bartholomew swells with pride.

“I don’t know if I trust this guy,” Bartholomew whispers.

Overhearing, Brinn retorts, “You don’t have to trust me.”

“Oh yeah,” Bartholomew says, blushing. “Did I say that out loud to the group?”

“Can I ask you a somewhat off-topic question?” Mew asked. “Have you ever been even further east where there’s a desert?”

“Anauroch?” he asks.

“I don’t know what it’s called,” Mew says, defeated.

“I know that name!!!!!” Eru jumps up from her chair.

“I’ve never been there, but I know of it.”

“Okay, cool,” Mew says.

“I know a little bit too much about the world maybe,” Brinn offers with a laugh.

“Ohmygods ohmygods ohmygods, I know that name,” Eru struggles to remember from where.

“It’s far, far east from here,” he says.

“Far east,” Mew files it away in her memory banks.

“It’s many, many months travels to get there,” he continues. “It’s east of the Highwoods, but I haven’t been past that.”

“What’s it called again?” Eru asks Brinn.

“What? Anauroch,” he replies.

“Fuck, I know that name,” and she continues to struggle.

“Something like that.”

Eru looks at Mew, “That’s the guy, right Mew?”

“Why do you ask that?” Brinn asked Mew.

“We’ll show you at moonlight,” Eru responded mysteriously.

“Yeah,” Mew agreed. “It’s a story for night time.”

“Oh, okay,” Brinn conceded.

“Damnit, we’re never going to get there,” Eru shouted, suddenly remembering it’s the name of the desert town Theodore told Mew and Morgana about.

“Are there monsters,” Morgana asked.

“There’s monsters everywhere,” Brinn replied.

“That’s true. It’s true,” she agreed.

“Do you have a nickname or do we just call you Brinn,” Morgana continued to question him.

“Brinn,” he said.

“Orc Killer?” she asked.

“Just Brinn.”

“Do you have any problems with dogs?” Eru asked him.

“It depends on how well they are marinated,” he said, completely serious.

“Oh no,” Eru cringed in her chair.

“Uuuuh,” Bartholomew and Morgana grumbled at the same time. Mew glowered from her seat.

“What? You guys don’t eat dog?” he asked. “C’mon.”

“Mew, I don’t know about this anymore,” Eru looked at her friend.

“Yeah,” Bartholomew added.

Mew stood up from the chair in angry silence, walked three feet away, and stood with arms folded glaring at Brinn.

“I don’t know if this is going to work, sir,” Morgana told him.

“Brinn, you got some serious damage control here,” Eru told him.

“Yeah,” Bartholomew added.

“Oh? You guys said dog? I thought you meant something else,” he said.

“But how are you with dogs?” Morgana asked.

“I thought you said hog,” he countered.

Everyone lit up, “Oh, hog!!!”

“Bacon!!” Bartholomew chimed in.

“Bartholomew here makes one hell of a breakfast burrito,” Eru exclaimed.

“Pig butt is the best,” Morgana added.

“Mm-hmm,” Brinn agreed.

Mew continued to glare at Brinn and tried to read him and gets the feeling he was just telling a joke. Comforted, Mew sat back down at the table with Donut now visible by their side.

“Where’d that come from?” Brinn asked.

“We don’t know,” Mew stated. “This is Donut. Donut, Brinn. Brinn, if you eat Donut, I will eat you! In a bad way.”

Suddenly Donut disappeared and reappeared on Brinn’s shoulder, licked his face, and then he blinked away back into Mew’s lap.

“Oh!” Brinn softened. “Awww, so cute. I would never eat a corgi. Maybe a dire wolf, which is kind of a dog.”

“So, you’re good. You like our dog. You like beer,” Eru begins to tick off the positives.

“And the dog likes him,” Bartholomew adds.

“He doesn’t like a lot of people,” Morgana chimed in.

“That’s the most important part,” Bartholomew continues.

“He likes me,” Brinn smiles.

“I’m more of a cat person,” Morgana says, “But I do love dogs.”

Eru holds up Monte Jr., “And I like Monte Jr.”

“If you pour beer into Monte…?” Bartholomew begins to ask Eru.

“Bartholomew,” she said has Monte Jr. walk over to him, “this will answer your question for you. You have to pour your beer into Monte Jr.”

He poured a little bit of his ale into the mug. He observed, “Nothing abnormal happened.”

“There’s a mug walking around the table,” Brinn said.

Morgana called Monte Jr. and added some hard liquor to the tankard, a little more than half full. Monte Jr. began to swing a little bit while he walked. Morgana grabs him, his little arms and legs flailing, and she downed the beverage.

“Monte actually does shit,” Eru says to Brinn. “He’s not just cute, you know.”

“Well, he’s always cute!” Mew said.

“Do you know magic, Brinn Orcbane?” Eru asked him.

“Some natural magic, yes,” he said.

“Oh, anything your mother taught you,” Morgana asked, interested.

“Mm-hmm.”

“What do you know?” she asked.

“Well, if you ever get wounded in the woods, I can heal you,” he said.

“Restoration spells?” she continued to press.

“I can heal you,” he said, smiling. “And I have a couple of things, like if this little man here needs to go faster I can help him go faster.”

“I am not -” Bartholomew began.

Brinn cut him off, “You are like 3 foot nothing.”

“I am not little,” he countered. “I am -”

“He’s pretty tall for a halfling,” Morgana defended.

“I can run,” Bartholomew said. “And walk.”

“And I have a little bit of fey in me,” Brinn ended.

“Can you do anything with earth elementals?” Morgana continued.

“No,” he said.

“How about yourself?” he asked her.

“Oh, I can do it all, baby,” she said confidently. “Moonbeam, fire, stone. I can grow weeds and entangle people.”

“Morgana is dangerous,” Bartholomew pumped her up.

“She makes an excellent lizard,” Mew added.

“I do,” she said. “Or a bear.”

“I can make my arrows – my arrows can harm bad guys a little bit more than they should,” Brinn bragged.

Morgana cocked an eyebrow, “Oh. Are they, like, poisoned?”

“No. It’s a spell,” he said.

“Ooooh, excellent,” she cooed. “Excellent, sir.”

“So, now what are we doing?” he asked.

They discussed their shopping plans, or lack of, and decided it’d be best to just head out with their newfound friend.

“Do we still have our evening wear from the party?” Bartholomew asked before they left the tavern.

“I don’t recommend eveningwear,” Brinn suggested. “I recommend colors of green and gray and brown.”

“If you ever go to a masquerade ball, we have clothing options,” Morgana offered. “Well, I have monkey clothing.”

“Well, I think this will work,” and Brinn flips his dire wolf hood over his head.

“Impressive. Nice. Ooooh!” everyone cooed.

“Did you kill that?” Morgana asked Brinn.

“Yeah, I killed it and skinned it and it’s mine.”

“You’re a very excellent tailor, sir,” she complimented.

“It’s just a cloak,” he responded. “It keeps me warm in the cold nights in the woods.” He paused, then continued, “My hatred keeps me warm,” he winked at the druid.

Everyone laughed.

Before they left town, Mew purchased a cheap woods-appropriate cloak and Brinn bought a few healing potions. Morgana asked to swing by Theodore’s bakery and pick up some biscuits.

“Hey, Teds! Remember me?” Morgana called out as she entered the bakery.

“Yes,” he groaned. “Are you here to purchase?”

“Yes, I want some biscuits and some – do you have savory and sweet biscuits?” she asked.

“Savory and sweet? Uh, we have two left,” he replied.

“Two of each or just two all together?”

“No, this is a savory and sweet biscuit,” he told her.

“Oh, no I want separate. I want one that’s savory and one that’s sweet. That’s weird. Together,” she replied, disgusted.

“That sounds amazing!” Mew said, “I like to mix it all up.”

“Alright, for those that’ll be, uh, a gold.” he tells Mew. She pulls a gold coin out of the Kitty.

“You guys don’t need a lot of food,” Brinn interjects. “I can find food.”

“Yeah, but biscuits? Sweet buns?” Morgana plied.

“Oh, sticky buns?” he asked.

“Not just any. Ted’s sticky buns,” Eru replied.

Mew bought all of the buns for six gold pieces.

“Does it do anything special?” Brinn asked Theodore.

“It keeps you from starving,” he said matter of factly.

Eru pulled Mew aside. “Hey, Mew?” she asked.

“Yeah?”

“Remember that deal we made -” she started to ask.

“No,” Mew flatly denied.

“Oh my gods, Mew! If I taught you the Highguard cipher, you would possibly give me Glasstaff’s staff…” she continued.

“Oh yeah,” Mew’s memory was jogged. “You said you didn’t need the staff.”

“No, I do! I – I have this – this predicament now where if I get hurt the bad things might come and … get me,” she said.

“That’s true. What were you going to teach me?” Mew asked.

“I already did!” Eru cried out. “I taught you my family’s cipher!!”

“Oh, that’s right. I totally remember that,” she replied and she handed over Glasstaff’s staff to Eru.

“You know, a deal’s a deal,” Eru smiled.

“Where did we get those burritos?” Morgana asked to clear the tense air. “Remember? That was sooo good.”

“Thank youuuuu,” Eru cooed at Mew. She proudly held the staff.

“Phandelin,” Bartholomew reminded Morgana.
“Are you giving stuff away?” Brinn walked up to Mew and asked.

“No,” she huffed at him.

“It had like potatoes, onions, and turnips,” Bartholomew reminisced on the breakfast burritos.

“Anything you need to shove in your pockets, Bartholomew?” Morgana asked as they all wandered their way to the eastern gate of Neverwinter.

“I guess I should try putting something in there,” he mused.

“You have four gallons of wine in your pocket,” Mew reminded him.

“What?” he asked.

“Four gallons of wine?” Brinn asked, laughing. “That’s a lot of wine!”

“I don’t remember that,” Bartholomew said.

“Hey can you see if you can get that wine out of your pocket,” Morgana pushed.

“Yeah,” so he reached into his pocket and pulled out a very large, full wineskin.

“Is that red wine or white wine?”

“It’s a Malbec,” he said.

“You have a malbec in a wineskin in your pocket,” Brinn mused. Bartholomew laughed. They continued to walk toward the outlying gate as they talked about what they could possibly shove in Bartholomew’s magic pocket. Wineskins, goblins, baby goblins, and severed heads. Eru also filled Brinn in on her glowing mark, the reapers, and the man in the desert.

“You tell a lot of people a lot of information really quickly,” Mew chastised her.

“It’s ‘cause I’m making friends,” she said with a smile.

“Okay,” Mew said, inwardly groaning.

“You want my help, don’t ya?” Brinn asked.

“Yeah, I’m just saying that we trust you at this point; you’re good with the dog; the dog trusts you,” Mew said.

“Yeah, the dog licked me,” he replied.

“This is just something that is true about Eru. She tells people a lot of information up front.”

“She likes to talk,” Morgana said.

They whispered about the possibility of stopping at Thundertree before heading north toward Mount Hotenow.

“I don’t think we want to go to Thundertree,” Brinn interrupted, ”There’s dragons there.”

“Our cleric told us. And we lost our cleric. They went off to do greater things with the Lord’s Alliance,” Morgana said.

“What do you know about the Lord’s Alliance?” Mew asked Brinn as they continued to walk.

“I don’t deal with the Lord’s Alliance. They’re a bunch of city people,” he answered.

“Okay, so we don’t have to worry about this one killing us in our sleep because someone told him to ‘cause he’s corrupted with the Lord’s Alliance. Yay!” Mew rambled loudly to Eru. “I don’t know why I said that out loud,” she suddenly said as she looked at the stares of her partymates.

“I’m better with you trusting him and you telling him things now, is what I’m trying to say,” Mew hurriedly explained to Eru.

“I think we need to head,” Brinn licked his finger and stuck it in the air, catching a breeze on his moist fingertip, “that way.” And he pointed northeast. They followed the north side of the river and pushed their way to the northern woods near the crags.

The first day of travel was peaceful as the area surrounding Neverwinter has been cleared of bandits and aggressive creatures. Around dusk, they decided to set up camp and rest for the night. Morgana cast druid craft and lit a small campfire. Bartholomew brewed a hot pot of tea. Mew climbed up a tree to settle down for a nap, but her dreams were haunted by bunnies and rabbits. Eru opted to nap. Bartholomew and Brinn discussed the local medicinal herbs and teas. Mint, wild mustard, etc.

“All you city dwellers have no idea the food that is all around us,” Brinn said wisely. Then they both went to sleep.

Morgana took the first watch.

Over the whispered tones of Brinn and Bartholomew, Morgana heard the sleeping whimpers of Mew from the tree above. Mew sprung awake from the nightmare screaming about bunnies.

Morgana screamed up at Mew, “Poison spray, DIE BUNNIES!”

Mew looked down at Morgana as the green poisonous gas surrounded the base of the tree. Just the sight of Morgana’s aid calmed Mew down enough so they could climb down, then climb up a different tree to try to sleep again. Mew mumbled, “Thank you,” before closing their eyes.

Brinn woke up with the commotion and decided to take over the watch so Morgana could sleep. Morgana pointed to Mew and whispered to Brinn, “Bunnies bad.”

“Oh, I’ll kill some bunnies for you if you guys want me to,” he offered.

The rest of the night went uneventfully and Mew received a peaceful rest. Brinn heard the usual nightlife of creatures, owls, skittering creatures, but nothing unusual.

In the morning, the first thing Eru did when she woke up was cast Mage Armor on herself. Eru brought out the book with the magical map on the inside cover and examined it. Nothing looked familiar, so she tucked it back into her satchel. Bartholomew looked around for more herbs of the realm. Brinn followed and helped point it out.

“Once we get to the forest, I can help you find more,” Brinn said.

Shortly after noon, they reached the edge of the forest and followed Brinn in. Brinn kept his eyes peeled for goblins, orcs, or ogres. He knew that goblins were typically more southern and not this far north.

Morgana searched the trees for any druidic messages or signs along their trek.

Near dusk, Brinn noticed signs of orc patterns and some of the trees had been recently felled, within a couple of weeks.

“There’s some signs of orcs and ogres around here,” he shared with the group. “We might want to just, for the night, find a place that’s a little more defensible.” Everyone agreed.

Brinn led them to an abandoned bear den suitable to fit everyone. Mew eyed some of the trees and Brinn walked her up to a particularly good looking tree.

“This one looks pretty good right in here,” he told her.

“Okay,” Mew agreed, climbed to the top, and nestled into the branches.

He addressed the rest of the crew about the den, “Looks like it’s nice and dry, maybe a fire in the back, keep it small. If we can do without a fire, that’d be even better.”

“Well, we have to have a fire,” Bartholomew insisted.

“Why do we have to have a fire?” Brinn challenged.

“So we can brew a pot of tea!” he said, matter-of-factly.

Morgana created a small fire in the back. She also created little dancing figures in the flames until she fell asleep. Eru crawled into bed.

Bartholomew took the first watch while he drank his hot oolong tea. The noises of the forest were much more active than last night. Small creatures were scurrying around, the nocturnal birds were making noises and fluttering, but the evening was uneventful. He broke out his ecology book and tried to identify the sounds. He was able to match one of the owls based on the book’s description. Brinn took the second watch. He cast Primeval Awareness and realized that there’s a fiend within a mile of their encampment. He assumed it was likely a barghest, which have been known to roam the Neverwinter Woods. He stayed extra aware throughout the night and heard something encircling the camp, although it didn’t approach.

Mew and Eru took the last watch and Brinn let them know that there was some danger out there, but it had moved on. He encouraged them to keep the fire out and to stay extra alert. He then curled up in his dire wolf cloak and fell asleep. The night went by without incident, although the sounds of the forest quieted down and it was an eerily quiet night before the dawn broke through the tree canopy. Everyone awoke and ate. Before they broke camp to continue the trek north, Eru cast Mage Armor on herself once more.

As they were traveling through the forest, Mew and Brinn got the sense that they were being followed.

“Hey, you guys go ahead just a little bit,” Brinn told the others and he stayed behind to set up a trap.

“Do I need to turn into a large animal at all?” Morgana asked him.

“No, no. Don’t do anything like that right now,” he assured her. He continued to set up a snare or two behind them and caught up with the group.

Mew pulled out Delores and got her ready, remaining watchful around them. While they continued to walk, Brinn listened for the release of the snare, but never heard any indication that it had been sprung. He and Mew both still felt they were being watched.

“I feel something funny behind us,” Brinn spoke up as he maintained his position in the rear of the group. “You guys just keep going in this direction,” and he pointed northward. Morgana and Mew took the lead, followed by Eru, Bartholomew, and Brinn.

Bartholomew continued to look for herbs along the way, in particular Sleeping Horse Nettle, but he couldn’t find any. He bumped into Eru while he was distracted.

“Ooof,” he mumbled.

“Heyyyy!” she shouted.

“Quiet back there,” Morgana chastised.

“Shhhhhhh,” Mew shushed.

“There’s something following us,” Morgana added.

A little bit before noon, Brinn noticed a small goblinoid creature appear, stepping out from behind a tree.

“Is it Dirt?” Eru asked her friends. It wasn’t.

The goblin walked up nearer to the group and stopped about 20 feet away. Brinn nocked an arrow in his bow, while he glared at the creature.

“What do you want?” Brinn called out.

The goblin’s mouth moved, but the voice was heard inside Brinn’s mind. And the pattern of speech didn’t quite match the movement of the lips, like a badly dubbed film. It was an unsettling feeling.

“That’s not real!” Brinn warned the party.

“Why are you here in this forest?” the goblin asked.

“We are friends of King Dirt,” Mew said.

“King who,” it asked.

“King Dirt!!! From Cragmaw Castle,” Mew answered, jovially.

“We’re traveling through heading to Mount Hotenow,” Brinn offered.

“Traveling? Or friends with the King?” it challenged.

“Yes,” Mew simply answered, with a smile.

“Both,” Mew responded.

“I don’t know who King Dirt is,” Brinn said.

“We’ll handle this,” Mew yelled back to Brinn. “We are friends of King Dirt. He awarded us free passage because we helped with his rise to power.”

“You are friends with a king, but this is my domain,” the goblin told her.

“Who do you – who do you think you are?” Mew asked.

“This is my forest,” he told Mew. “You have entered my forest.”

“Then you must know King Dirt,” Mew challenged, feigning relief.

“I do not recognize any kings here,” he said.

“Well, he looks an awful lot like you, so I think that if you had seen him you would recognize him,” Mew countered.

“Oh, you follow a goblin?” it sneered at the party.

“No, we’re friends with the goblin.” Mew said.

“Interesting,” it said. “Do you taste like goblin?”

“Not one bit.”

“Hmmm,” it said thoughtfully.

“What the fuck is this thing?” Eru whispered to nobody in particular.

“Well, why are you so far north?” it asked.

“Why are you here?” Mew asked at the same time.

“As I told you,” he responded, “this is my domain.”

“But why are you… right here, right now?” Mew asked, “‘Cause we aren’t that interesting. And we are allowed to be here. King Dirt said we could be here.”

“I am here to see if you would be tasty,” he said, calmly.

“Oh no, we don’t taste good. Dude, look at us. We’re small. We’re skinny. And we walk a lot, so we’re wirey,” Mew said.

“Yes, but you associate with a goblin and goblins are tasty.”

“Seriously, dude? You think goblins are yummy?” Mew asked.

“Yes, very.”

“What kind of tastebuds do you have?” Mew continued to ask.

“Oh, let me show you!” the goblin said and moved forward. His goblin form began to shift, the back of the goblin split open, and a hairy large wolf-form began to molt out of the goblin shell.

“Hey, guys,” Bartholomew called out, “I think that’s the barghest!”

As the barghest’s form became revealed, two small floating fires appeared next to it. Brinn recognized them as will-o’-wisps under the barghest’s control.

Bartholomew asked aloud, “He wants to eat us? That’s not good!” And he pulled out his short bow and fired an arrow at the beast. The arrow shattered against the creature’s hide.

“Oh no!!” he shouted. “Is it a defect in the arrow?” he wondered.

Morgana moved forward, changed shape into a giant six-legged lizard, and reared up at the creature. A bulge of acid and poison built up in her gullet and she spit out a glob at the barghest. As the wad of acid and venom splashed against the barghest, the nearby flames sputtered out under the backsplash. The creature appeared completely fine and unaffected as the acid dripped off of its form. She receded back behind Eru.

Mew whipped out the spider staff and shot web at the barghest and then climbed up the nearest tree. The barghest howled and two more wil-o’-wisps appeared at his side; however, it was trapped within the sticky spider web and could not move any further or break through the bonds.

Looking at the creature, Brinn realized that when the fires disappeared the barghest seemed a bit more corporeal. Also, he noticed that it didn’t appear scared of the poison at all. Brinn released the arrow and cast Hail of Thorns. It shattered up against the barghest. Brinn released a second arrow at the will-o’-wisp and the flame shrank down significantly. He yelled out, “Get the will-o’-wisps! They’re its power!!”

Having heard this, Eru targeted the wisps and barghest with Magic Missile. A purple bolt struck each, dispatching both wisps and damaged the barghest. It let out a small grunt as the bolt pierced its hide. She then ran and hid behind a nearby tree.
Bartholomew pulled out another arrow, dipped it in oil, lit it on fire with his flint and steel, and shot it at the beast. The arrow struck the beast and the flames burnt away the webbing that surrounded the barghest. “Take that, barghest!!”, he yelled as the beast snarled.

Lizard-Morgana moved forward and spit again at the barghest. Although struck by her good, the barghest didn’t’ seem affected by the poison. She stepped back to her hidey-perch.

Mew shot spider web once more and stayed up in the tree.

The barghest howled again, summoning four will-o’-wisps to his side. Although the web was on the ground around its feet, the barghest was not restrained and he charged toward Bartholomew.

“Barry, you’re in trouble!!!” Morgana yelled.

“Oh noooooo!” he yelled back.

As the barghest charged at Bartholomew and struck out with its jaws, the halfling stumbled back enough to avoid the bite.

“Sucker…” Morgana taunted the beast.

Brinn turned toward the barghest and shot an arrow at the wisp. The arrow shot through the top portion of the flame of the wisp, but continued to sail on into the forest, useless. He moved around to distract the wisps.

Eru used her wand of Magic Missile at the wisps and shot four bolts. Only one wisp vanished. Two of the wisps floated toward Brinn and flared up. He dodged the flames of one, but was singed by the second.

Bartholomew pulled out his shortsword and swung at the wisp. As he slashed the sword through the flame, it poofed away. He then slathered his hand in lavender perfume and slapped the barghest across the face.

“How dare you try to eat me!” he chastised the beast. It didn’t react at all, but its nose began to crinkle as the scent reached its nostrils. Bartholomew skirted around to the backside of the barghest.

Morgana lumbered forward in lizard form and snapped at the barghest. It jerked its head away before her teeth could get any grip on the beast.

From the treetop, Mew shot Delores at a wisp. As the bolt flew through the wisp, the wisp vanished.

“Good job, Mew!!” Brinn called out.

The barghest was insulted and retaliated at Bartholomew.

“Smells good, doesn’t it?” Bartholomew asked just before its jaws clamped down on his shoulder and collarbone. He felt the teeth sink into him.

“Hey guys, this really hurts!!!” he called out to his companions.

Point blank, Brinn fired an arrow at the wisp before him, the wisp dissipated, and the arrow *thunk* stuck into the tree behind it. Oh good, I can retrieve that arrow, Brinn thought as he smiled.

He yelled out, “Attack him now before the wisps come back!!!”

Eru hurled a firebolt at the barghest, but it sailed right over him. Before the flames could reach the treeline, Eru extinguished the spell.

“This was supposed to be my moment,” she mumbled, sinking deeper behind her tree trunk.

“We love you anyway!” Mew called out from the canopy.

Bartholomew stabbed the barghest right in chest area, but couldn’t get very deep due to the tough hide. Remembering his satchel, Bartholomew reached into his bag, pulled out a mystery potion, shoved it in the barghest’s open mouth, and he rubbed the bottom of its chin and throat to make it swallow. Eru and Morgana watched in excitement, Brinn was amused, and Mew was full of trepidation. The barghest opened its mouth and licked wildly to get the taste out of its mouth. Everyone noticed its tongue was now bright green.

Lizard-Morgana bit the green-tongued barghest, but her fangs couldn’t get too deep, much like Bartholomew’s sword. Her venom didn’t have any effect.

Mew pulled out Talon, the enchanted longsword, jumped out of the tree with Talon pointed downward directly at the barghest. Mew leapt decisively down through the air yelling “AAAAUUUUGGGHHHH!!!” and sticking the sword deeply into the ground–next to the barghest. Mew looked around sheepishly, un-plunged the sword from the earth, and ran back up the tree. Everyone…and I mean everyone…saw this. Once back at the top of the tree, Mew mumbled something about bunnies and fidgeted in the leaves.

Once again, the barghest roared and two more wisps appeared. And, once again, it lunged at Bartholomew and struck. The monk was still standing, but was bleeding…a lot.

Brinn targeted the new wisps, and just like before, extinguished both flames. “The will-o’-wisps are gone! ATTACK!!!” he yelled.

Not feeling very confident in her skills, Eru once more leaned on the guaranteed strike of her Wand of Magic Missile. Three more bolts struck into the barghest and it howled out in severe pain.

Bartholomew reached once more into his satchel, but this time retrieved a healing potion. He popped the cork and downed it. He stepped away from the barghest’s reach as Brinn called, “Come to me, Barry! Come towards me!”

As Bartholomew searched for a place to run, he yelled back to Brinn, “Why???”

Brinn chuckled, “So I can cure you!”

“Oh!!!” and Bartholomew ran over to Brinn’s side.

Morgana shifted back into her human form and cast Moonbeam around the barghest. As the beam touched its hide, it let out another long howl of pain.

Trying it again, Mew plunged from the top of the tree holding Talon at the ready to spear the barghest. Their scream of “BUNNNNNIIIIEEESSS!!!” filled the air. A little bit of deja vu struck Mew as Talon once again sunk into the ground at their feet. And, once more, Mew disengaged and climbed back up to tree, Talon in tow.

A howl escaped the barghest’s jaws as it called forth four more wisps at its side, well within the borders of the Moonbeam. It circled around Morgana and bit her in the butt. Reaching out to Bartholomew, Brinn cast Cure Wounds on him. Eru used her last few charges on her Wand of Magic Missile, exhausting its magic for the day. Two wisps survived, but one poofed away. And somehow the wisps survived the Moonbeam’s radiance.

One wisp floated upward to face Mew in the tree canopy. Its flames flared up, burning Mew and the branches. The other two wisps attacked Morgana, burning her as they did so.

Bartholomew shot off an arrow at a wisp and it vanished. He then ran around and hit another wisp with his fists. It, too, disappeared. Morgana moved Moonbeam back on top of the barghest. Mew swung their sword at the wisp, but Talon thunked into a nearby branch instead, stopping Mew in mid-swing. After pulling the sword out of the wood, Mew disengaged, climbed down the tree and scrambled up another nearby tree.

Stepping out of the Moonbeam, the barghest remained silent and lunged at Morgana. She danced around its bite and blocked its jaws with her whip.

“Shoot the wisp!!!” Mew yelled.

Brinn let loose an arrow and it flew through the wisp. The light of the flame extinguished. “ATTACK!” he yelled to his traveling companions.

Eru tried Firebolt once more, which struck the barghest. It howled in pain as its fur caught fire. “Get him, Barry!!” she yelled at the monk.

“I’m gonna go get ‘im!” he growled.

Bartholomew held his shortsword aloft and jabbed it in the side. He then hit it repeatedly. The first blow connected, but didn’t seem to do anything. He reeled back to hit it again, but nothing…again. His heart just wasn’t in it.

Morgana directed Moonbeam once more on top of the barghest. The beam seared into his skin, the scent of burnt flesh filled the air, and the beast staggered a bit. She spit in his face! Armed with Delores, Mew fired a bolt at the singed creature. The metal pierced the throat of the barghest, but it continued to stand and stagger.

And…it howled. Two wisps joined the fray as the barghest charged at Bartholomew, its jaws open and slick.

“Oh, you can try!” Bartholomew taunted, as the beast completely missed.

Brinn let loose two arrows. Morgana heard a *wooosh* as the first arrow whizzed by her head and flew through a wisp, killing it. The second arrow whizzed by Morgana’s head on the other side and dispatched the last wisp.

Eru again hurled a firebolt at the beast. As it struck, the barghest let out a horrendous howl of pain and its form began to fade away.

“Go away! GO AWAY!!!” Eru called.

Right before it faded completely, everyone heard a small chuckle in their heads. It faded with the rest of the barghest. After a cheer, Mew cast Faerie Fire where the barghest was last seen.

“I’m pretty sure he’s gone, but I just want to be sure.” Nothing was illuminated.

Brinn walked up to Bartholomew and Morgana and patched up their bite wounds to make sure they wouldn’t get infected.

Eru looked at her friends, “Did anybody else hear that laughter?”

“Yeah,” Brinn said, “Where’d it go?” He looked around for it, but couldn’t find the source.

“Nope, didn’t hear anything,” Morgana said.

“What the hell brought that thing here?” Brinn asked.

“I assumed it lives in the forest,” Eru answered.

“It says it was his place, but I don’t think this was his forest,” Brinn countered.

“I don’t think it is either,” Morgana agreed. “He was lying.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so,” Brinn stated.

Eru looked down at her Loviatar mark. It wasn’t glowing at all. She smiled and sighed in relief. Bartholomew began to wander along the edges of the area in search of more herbs.

“I think we should get out of this area since we just made a lot of noise,” Brinn suggested as he watched the monk wander further away.

“Maybe that’s a good idea,” Bartholomew agreed.

Morgana looked up at the sun and determined it was about noon.

“Let’s go find a place to hide up and rest and heal,” Brinn said.

“I need a full night’s sleep,” Morgana said, yawning.

“Maybe drink a potion or two,” Brinn suggested as he led the group through the forest to a safe grove of trees away from the orc tracks. More exhausted than they thought they were, they decided to rest and camp there for the rest of the day and resume their trek in the morning. They spent the hours idly going through their things and preparing for the journey before succumbing to the night.

**PAUSE**

Resources:

Geek & SundryDungeons & Dragons As Therapy

Health Fitness RevolutionTop 10 Health Benefits of Board Games

Psychology TodayDungeons & Dragons, 40 Years Old, Makes You a Better Person

Technology Advice4 Chemicals That Activate Happiness, and How to Gamify Them

View story at Medium.com

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Feel Good Fridays

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We made it through yet another week! They fly by sometimes, eh?

Today’s quote is from America author, Maya Anglelou:

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

This one hit me hard…and is very close to home.  I feel so many struggles in my life have made me who I am today – a stronger and better person.  And I hope the same for you.

❤ Lisa