While the sky emanates an eerie purple glow and blasts of lightning fork from tears in the atmosphere, Rangrim remains inexplicably pulled up the stairs of the ziggurat towards Chava Kuth, who is atop the structure flanked by 2 of his guardian berserkers. Aside from Rangrim who is being pulled forward by Chava Kuth’s tractor beam spell, the rest of the adventurers are at the foot of the ziggurat, unable to move, having been hit with an immobilization spell. The townspeople have become increasingly agitated and spawned on by Chava Kuth’s invocation, begin to approach the party, armed with weaponry or any nearby object that could be wielded to cause physical harm. Sensing the eminent danger of facing an angry mob while immobilized, Jayden uses her diplomacy, tact, and negotiation to address the crowd. Her Words of Friendship fell successfully on their ears and cultivated a sense of confusion and befuddlement and the crowd ceased their attack on the adventurers, still unable to move, and instead wandered back to their homes or collected without purpose in the streets.
With the crowd neutralized, the party began to focus its efforts on freeing Rangrim from the pull of Chava Kuth’s spell. Caldwell narrowly misses Chava Kuth with an acid attack while Chava Kuth commands the berserkers, “They are mystifying your people, destroy them!” Obedient to the call, a berserker runs towards Rangrim and throws a bolas over his head at Sorrow. She dodges and even though clearly within attack range, the berserker launches no attack at Rangrim. The berserker’s actions make it clear to the party that Chava Kuth’s choice of words was very specifically directed to ensure the berserkers attacked everyone other than Rangrim. With everyone in the party still unable to move, Erasmus’s successful attack on Chava Kuth causes him to trip down the stairs of the ziggurat and become dazed. Even more importantly, his fall caused him to break eye contact with Rangrim, thus interrupting the spell compelling Rangrim to ascent the structure towards Chava Kuth in a zombie-like trance. Sensing the grave importance of this battle and the feeling that something larger hinges on the party’s success, Erasmus summons his Guardian of Faith and Harvey Bob appears unnoticed next to a berserker. Still seething with fury from the attempted attack at her from the berserker, Sorrow curses him as Frappe takes aim with his crossbow for a ranged attack; his only option in his immobilized state. While deft with his daggers in melee range, that prowess did not translate into a successful attack using his ranged weapon.
Rangrim on the Loose
No longer compelled by Chava Kuth’s spell, Rangrim attacks a berserker with a Crushing Surge and deals a hearty blow to the foe. Suddenly, 2 cultist buccaneers appear from seemingly nowhere on the ziggurat and in their stealthy attack, hit both Frappe and Erasmus. The 2nd berserker, seeking revenge for the attack on his kinsman, bull rushes Rangrim and tries to push him off his feet and off the ziggurat. Rangrim; however, hold his ground using his low center of gravity and vertical impairment to the best of his advantage and does not budge. Slowly climbing to his feet, Chava Kuth staggers back atop the ziggurat.
By now everyone except Jayden and Frappe have broken free of the immobilization spell and have begun taking offensive position on the ziggurat. Caldwell unleashes an acid attack on 1 of the newest members of the enemy front, one of the cultists, and not only demolishes him but enjoys the residual damage taken by one of the berserkers when the acid orb bounds off the shoulders of the cultist. Having regained his composure, Chava Kuth commands the berserkers and cultists to leave the dwarf and take care of the others. Heading the call, one of the berserkers runs past Rangrim to attack the other party members. While doing so, Rangrim took an attack of opportunity and bloodied the berserker. Enraged, the berserker attacked Rangrim in direct insubordination of Chava Kuth’s orders. Not pleased, Chava Kuth hissed, “I said leave the dwarf alone!”
And the Sun Begins to Set…
As the sun begins to set behind the temple, the party knows their window of opportunity to put a stop to the eminent planar collapse is beginning to close. With invigorated efforts they continue their assault on the cultists, berserkers, and Chava Kuth. Erasmus’ unleashes his Divine (Soul) Glow, but its trajectory misses the berserker. Not discouraged, Erasmus attacks quickly on the heels of the radiant after effects of the Divine (Soul) Glow and hits the berserker with his Lance of Faith. Watching the intense and focused energy of Erasmus’ bold attacks on the berserker, Rangrim begins to feel supernatural strength flow through is body, stacking attack power atop his already crushing blows. Sorrow curses the cultists and Chava Kuth, following up with an attack on a nearby cultist. Her aura begins to grow as the cultist meets his death and is pulled beneath the earth by a menacing claw. Sorrow’s Curse Bite hits both berserkers and Chava Kuth, who sensing the attack was prepared to shake off the curse before it had a chance to latch on. Still immobilized, Frappe again launches a ranged attack. Although the crossbow misses again, Frappe is able to break free from the immobilization spell limiting his melee attack opportunities, where his real strength lies. Pulsing with electric attack power, Rangrim cleaves the bloodied berserker and kills him.
Two more cultists appear from seemingly nowhere and attack Erasmus and Caldwell – hitting the former but missing the latter. Unbeknownst to the minion, he has appeared right next to Harvey Bob, who is invisible to the cultist buccaneer. Harvey Bob takes advantage of the opportunity to unleash a melee attack. Watching his berserker comrade fall to his death, the other berserker attempts to move out of the range of Rangrim’s powerful cleave. Not quick enough; however, and Rangrim attacks and stops him in his tracks.
Furious over the adventurer’s command of the battle thus far, Chava Kuth bellows, “I have had it with you fools and your foolish foolishness!” Some of the adventurers chuckle under their breath at the awkward battle cry from an otherwise erudite Chava Kuth. Regaining his composure, he raised his staff and pointed it at Sorrow, Caldwell, and Jayden. The bolt of power from the staff dazes the adventurers and inflicts them with poison damage. In her dizziness, Jayden’s attention is directed downward where she notices what appears to be a stone-covered hatch in the 4 corners of the ziggurat platform and she immediately realizes that this is where the cultists are emerging from beneath the structure.
The dazed adventurers are confused and befuddled and are not able to collect their thoughts or control their physical bodies to their fullest potential and only seem able to accomplish 1 thing at a time, as compared to the others who are able to move and attack. With their focus on Chava Kuth, Erasmus and Sorrow attack him. Sorrow’s fury is channeled and she takes advantage of Jayden’s bewildered state to extract part of her soul to create a powerful attack of Glorious Sacrifice. Unaware of the extent of her own power in this realm, Sorrow is pleasantly surprised to see Chava Kuth erupt in black flames and cower into a fetal position, skin flaking off. Glaring arrogantly over him, Sorrow notices Jayden nearby, brought to her knees in excruciating pain. The physical pain is doubled by the psychological torment dealt to Jayden as she begins to see the souls of the dead encircling her and hears the whispers of the dead in her ears. The same power that dealt such a damaging blow to Chava Kuth through her Glorious Sacrifice had the same exponential damaging effect on Jayden when a piece of her soul was ripped from her. This affect surprised Sorrow, who chose Jayden for the sacrifice based on Jayden’s own superior healing abilities and past experience performing the Glorious Sacrifice with her, which was not nearly as damaging to her.
Able to move again, Frappe attacks the remaining berserker with his trusty melee dagger, which by the thrust of the weapon, picked up the enemy by the blade and shoved him back from Frappe, out of reach of immediate retaliation. Infuriated, the berserker swings his axe wildly and chips away at the stone of the ziggurat wall. Within range, Rangrim takes the opportunity to wield an attack as the berserker slides by and with a Crushing Surge, takes off the berserker’s head with one blow. As Rangrim stares threateningly at Chava Kuth, 2 more cultists appears from the stone trap door in the pyramid and heeding Chava Kuth’s command, begin attacking Sorrow with spears. As they approach, Sorrow attempts to engulf the minions with her dark aura, but her concentration is interrupted when a spear hits her directly in the chest.
House of Quicksand
Returning Rangrim’s intent stare, Chava Kuth commands the stone underneath Rangrim’s feet with a booming, “Earth, swallow you!” Immediately, the stone directly under Rangrim becomes soft like quicksand and Rangrim begins to sink down until he is immobilized. Still on solid ground, Erasmus’ guardian, Harvey Bob, attacks a kills a nearby cultist with a magical eye of Iuon spell. Still badly hurt, Jayden attempts to distract and Blunder Chava Kuth into falling into the pit of quicksand of his own making, but her pain prevents her from focusing and her attempt fails. Spawned on by the pain and the need to rescue Rangrim, she taps into her last reserve of energy to attack Chava Kuth with Cruel Fate, but again is unable to focus beyond her pain and misses.
Caldwell takes care of the 2 remaining cultists with his acid blasts and Erasmus’ heals a bloodied Jayden and Sorrow. Sorrow recovers but Jayden is still dangerously close to meeting her maker. With sunset (and as prophesied, the end of the word) quickly approaching, Erasmus extends additional healing to Jayden – her leadership and encouragement will be critical to the party’s efforts to beat Mother Nature’s clock and overtake Chava Kuth.
Chava Kuth is showing signs of weariness from the prolonged attacks at the hands of the party, but is not slowing down his pace or power of attack against the adventurers. Sorrow exploits Chava Kuth’s Delicious Weakness and uses his pride against him in a demonic attack that drops him to his knees clutching his head with his hands screaming, “No, get out of my head!” Seeing his enemy weakened, Frappe runs across the difficult ziggurat terrain to attack Chava Kuth atop the structure. Wielding a weapon in each hand, Frappe unleashes a furious melee attack, missing with the first swing, but connecting solidly with his 2nd weapon, bloodying his foe.
Tangled Feet and Tanglefoot
Still stuck in the quicksand beneath him, Rangrim throws a Tanglefoot bag to Chava Kuth in an attempt to return the favor and immobilize him. Underestimating the effect of the quicksand on his positioning, Rangrim’s toss misses and lands it at Frappe’s feet, who deftly kicks the trap away before he gets tangled up in the mess. Chava Kuth changes tactics and attacks Caldwell, who blocks the attempt with Tempest Flare, which had a residual benefit of taking out one of the cultists with its fire shield.
With the party spread out across the ziggurat to avoid Chava Kuth’s close burst poison attacks, he singles out Sorrow, swinging his staff wildly at her hissing, “Die heretic!” The staff connects and Sorrow suffers noticeable damage. Feeling markedly better herself, Jayden sends a quick healing spell in Sorrow’s direction, and invigorates her fellow adventurers with inspiration words and a Stirring Shout, resulting in regenerative effects to anyone with a successful attack on Chava Kuth. Having stirred her own courage and strength, she sings a song of courage that bolsters her fellow party member’s resolve and adds confidence and strength to their attacks.
Charged by Jayden’s Stirring Shout and Song of Courage, Caldwell unleashes Lightening Breath and deals an impressive amount of lightening damage to Chava Kuth. Erasmus grabs the momentum and connects with a Lance of Faith attack. Strangely, he begins hearing mumbling that he does not understand and has a sudden sense that there is a great secret here that he needs to uncover. Chava Kuth dodges Sorrow’s attack, breaking the attack streak. He quickly turns the steps of the ziggurat to a slippery ice-covered terrain as he sees Frappe approach menacingly. Skilled at navigating the often treacherous and unfriendly terrain of the jungle, Frappe maintains his footing enough to flank Chava Kuth and attack. Slipping slightly as he swings with his dagger, he drops the weapon but quickly answers with an attack from the weapon in his other hand. He connects with deadly precision, but connects into Chava Kuth’s armor.
Still stuck in the quicksand substance, Rangrim attempts to jump out and almost succeeds, but his short arms are a hair’s length away from the edge of the step that he needed to grab for leverage to pull himself out of the pit. Falling back into the quicksand, he is enveloped deeper by the cement-like substance. Not content to give up, he grabs a nearby rock (one that had broken off the ziggurat when the berserker was swinging wildly with infuriation) he hurls it at Chava Kuth and hits him solidly in his head. More cultists emerge from beneath the ziggurat and attack Caldwell, hitting him in his calf.
Meanwhile, Chava Kuth continues to deteriorate due to persistent attacks from the party and ongoing poison damage dealt at the hand of Sorrow. Barely able to stand, Chava Kuth reaches out and put his hand on Frappe’s chest and before he can move, Chava Kuth steals health from Frappe for himself. Temporarily energized at the expense of Frappe, he reaches to his belt and grabs a clay pot that he throws to the ground creating a thick black fog that hides him from the party as if behind a curtain.
Blinded by the Fog
Crippled by the fog veil, Harvey Bob misses his attack on Chava Kuth while through the dust, the adventurers see the sun set behind the temple. Jayden recognizes the smell and taste of the dusty air and assures her fellow adventurers that the fog will not harm them, and the carbon dust will dissipate in moments. No sooner had she said it than the fog began to lift and she connected with a Vicious Mockery attack against Chava Kuth. Wielding her green violin and playing dissonant, distracting music to accompany her psychic attack, she took temporary mind control causing him to relate an embarrassing secret aloud – “I was not first among the priests I was chosen from amongst the runts.” Humiliated, his physical condition worsened further. Hearing the embarrassing confession from their leader, the cultists were distracted and Jayden unleashed another Vicious Mockery attack – hitting one of the cultists causing him to confess, “I prefer little boys.”
This confession came right as Caldwell was casting an acid orb at Chava Kuth, breaking Caldwell’s concentration and affecting the trajectory of the orb itself – missing Chava Kuth it hit the stone exterior of the ziggurat landing directly above Harvey Bob’s head – lucky for the party, he is invisible and doesn’t suffer any damage from the falling rocks!
The Eye of Ioun
Erasmus attacks with his Divine Fortune and as he focuses his spell, the eye of Iuon appears in his line of vision, further focusing the aim like the sights on a sniper rifle. Parting the remaining carbon dust in the air, the eye of Iuon lined up the shot with laser precision and guided Erasmus’ attack with deadly aim, killing Chava Kuth.
The cultists left on the ziggurat panic and attempt to flee – Jayden catches one of with her Vicious Mockery compelling him to confess, “My penis is so small my wife asks if it is in yet” before he fell to his death.
The sounds of stone slabs being moved and bolts locking underneath are heard as the cultists inside the ziggurat attempt to close off the entrance to the temple beneath. Following the sounds of panic therein, Frappe notices a hidden door near his feet and pulls it open before it can be bolted shut from within. Met by a cultist on the other side of the stone slab, Frappe smashes his face in with his boot, knocking him off the ladder and to his death at the bottom of the tunnel.
Before climbing into the tunnel, the party takes a short and much needed rest to prepare for what lies beneath the stone walls of the ziggurat.
Descent into the Unknown
The party descends the ladder led by their sun rods and climbs deeper and deeper into the structure and surrounding earth. As they reached the bottom the party was attacked by a handful of cultists who were no match for the combined forces of the party. Sorrow stepped to the front of the party indicating she knew the direction they need to go. Not any more confused by this influx of insight than any of the other odd powers and perceptions Sorrow has demonstrated on this plane, the party follows with little resistance or questioning. She leads them to a locked door that Erasmus determines is not magically sealed. The party turns to Jayden, the resident thief, to pick the lock. On the other side of the door the party cautiously moves ahead checking for traps, Frappe out in front. Immediately on the other side of the door a pendulum chandelier hangs with menacing iron blades. Luckily for the party, this trap was already disabled. Frappe sees fresh blood on the blade and reasons it is probably blood of a human or human creature.
Frappe boldly takes the next step forward, convinced it is safe. He notices that just beyond the chandelier the walls are singed. Checking the soot on the wall ahead, Rangrim knows that this is the remains of a magic trap that shoots a fireball from the end of the hall. Rangrim’s great dungeoneering knowledge assures the group that the trap has already been disengaged, much like the pendulum chandelier. Frappe continues to lead the party down the corridor, proceeding cautiously with a sun rod leading the way. Coming to the end of a corridor, he peeks around the corner to sees blades sticking out of the wall ahead indicating a trap that has been sprung. With no apparent danger ahead Frappe leads the party ahead around the corner.
It’s the Pits
Taking a few cautious steps ahead, Frappe’s leg slips and he begins to fall into a pit. As he falls he reaches and locks on to the edge of the pit and pulls himself up out of the pit trap. Standing back and surveying the trap, Frappe estimates the diameter to be approximately 10 feet. Caldwell teleports across the expanse and sees scorch marks on the wall that look like lightening damage. Alongside the scorch marks appear various colored gems, associated with magic spells.
With Caldwell safely on the other side, the party devises a plan using rope from their adventurer’s kits. Rangrim jumps across and ties the rope around himself and Caldwell, throwing the other end across the pit to the others. Having the rope as a safety measure, each party member takes their turn leaping across the pit trap. Jayden, Erasmus, Frappe, and even Sorrow with her hooves handles the clearing of the pit trap with ease. On the other side of the pit, Frappe continues to lead the party down the corridor, looking around corners carefully. Up ahead he notices more scorch marks from the lightening damage and feels the hairs on the back of his head start to stand up. Rangrim also starts to feel anxious and Jayden calms their anxiety letting them know that she believes this to be the effect of a scare trap, but it is already gone off and the residual components are causing the slight anxiety and creepiness felt by all. Frappe stops the party’s forward march abruptly, holding his hand up. Rangrim’s keen sense of smell picks up the scent of sulfur in the air, to which Jayden and Sorrow comment that sulfur is a standard part of many magic traps.
Frappe sees another pit trap up ahead and peering over the edge with his sun rod, he sees spikes at the bottom of this trap. Once again, Caldwell easily clears the pit with his teleportation powers. The rest of the party clears it as easily as the prior expanse. Moving forward, Rangrim notices that although the grade is slight, they are definitely going deeper and deeper downward into the temple. Up ahead Jayden and Erasmus notice Frappe looking at some disengaged saw blade traps. They notice the dried blood is blackened, an indication of poison on the blade. The uniformity of the blood pattern also points to a poison being deftly applied to the blade. Frappe smells burnt hair and flesh and quickly the scent is picked up by the rest of the party and they all begin to share the same eerie feeling.
Moving ahead cautiously, Frappe rounds the next corner and finds a dead body – what appears to be a cultist burned alive with charred pieces of flesh papered on the bony skeletal remains that are frozen in a position indicating the cultist was trying to pull the grate below him open when he was flash burned to death. Jayden and Frappe check the room for pressure plates and additional traps, of which they find none. Rangrim steps forward to take a closer look at the dead body and upon stepping on the grate, hears a click followed by a series of grinding gears whose sounds appear to be coming from down the hallways from which the party came – it sounds to the party like the traps have reset and they would have to find a different way out than the way in which they entered.
While atop the grate, Rangrim peers down below using his sun rod and sees a ladder. He drops his sun rod to see how far down it goes and to determine if there is any reaction from persons or things lurking at the bottom. Rangrim estimates the tunnel to extend about 50 feet and hears no reaction to the sun rod’s appearance at the foot of the tunnel. Examining the grate, it appears to be latched from underneath and Rangrim doesn’t think it shows any physical evidence of a trap. Erasmus quickly points out that the trap on the grate is not mechanical but magical. Sorrow dispels the magic trap with her Dispel command and Jayden and Erasmus confirm it has been disabled. Rangrim muscles the grate open and peers down the tunnel with a new sun rod.
When the party reaches the bottom of the ladder within the tunnel, they find lit candles and arcane ruins glowing surrounding a dark, cloaked figure up ahead. Sorrow recognizes the figure immediately as her Patron and at the party’s arrival he speaks saying, “Welcome. I am pleased with your success. There is not much time if you want to go home. This plane is about to collapse. The Omecs were right; the world will end – for them. Enter. Take your place at the circle.” Unsure of what to make of the activities of this plane, much less the mysterious figure and ritualistic scenery, Erasmus sends up a discrete, quick prayer to his deity. As he does, he sees the cloaked figure pull his hood aside to reveal a skull-like face covered in beetles. Sensing Sorrow’s calm and comfort in the presence of this figure, Jayden asks her who he is and she replies simply that he is her Patron.
The figure motions the group into the room, towards the circle and sensing their trepidation, tells them there is nothing to fear from him – the danger lurks outside in the planar realm that is about to collapse. Jayden, in her usual diplomatic manner, asks him directly why they should trust him. He answers by saying he brought them here and he can bring them home again. He asks Sorrow for the sacrifice for Kaifus and without hesitation she uses a dagger to cut her arm and begins to drip blood on the runes at her feet.
The Patron indicates to the group that the blood magic ritual will require more blood and asks all the adventurers to step forward and provide their blood sacrifice. After several seconds (that felt like hours) Caldwell took a spot in the circle and cut his hand, letting his blood drip down on the runes below. Several more long seconds transpired with no one wanting to step forward to provide more blood that clearly is empowering the Patron. Frappe, above all else in the party, is holding back as he feels he is the least likely to make it home and feels he has the least to gain from joining his newfound allies in this ritual.
Jayden asks the Patron why he wants to help the party. He says that we can stop the Scottish Polka by returning to our homes and leaving this plane. None of the adventurers seem to be able to make sense of all this, but sensing eminent danger in the current plane, Rangrim then Caldwell take their place at the circle and cut open their hands to drip blood on the runes below, leaving only Erasmus, Jayden and Frappe. Even with the blood sacrifices of Caldwell and Rangrim, it is not enough. Caldwell notices something behind him – his hair is being pulled back and he begins to see pink light coming through the cracks of the atmosphere around them. Sensing the others holding back, the Patron tells the group that the Scottish Polka is a dark, dark god – something worse than a demon.
Erasmus is suspicious and doesn’t believe the Patron’s answer to Jayden’s question, but nonetheless, he wants to go home and is afraid to stay in the collapsing plane he cuts himself and drips his blood on the ruins, taking his place in the circle. Hearing “Yes…nearly there…a little more” and seeing Erasmus give in; Jayden cuts herself and stands in the circle amongst her fellow adventurers. She feels something pulling blood from her, much stronger than the drips of blood the others had offered as part of their sacrifice. Frappe finally acquiesces and as he cuts himself, the blood is extracted with a great force, and the runes begin to flare wildly. The party blacks out and wakes up next to the cauldron in the Ghoul Queen’s former lair.
Back on the Other Side
The party begins to slowly stir, waking up to find themselves on the floor in the middle of a room next to a large black cauldron. They see deep, red scars on their arms and hands where they cut themselves as part of the blood. They realize that they have been returned to the lair of the Ghoul Queen where they fought against her and her priests, interrupting a ritual. Following her defeat, they had climbed into the cauldron and descended down some stairs before arriving in another plane. Being safely returned on the other side again, the Patron’s magic blood ritual must have worked!
Everyone feels stronger, with the exception of Frappe, and Erasmus is strangely keenly aware of how much time has elapsed since they went through the rabbit hole – 9 days, 22 hours, 13 minutes, and 5 seconds to be exact, which feels right based on the their temporal experiences on the other plane. The Staff of Knowledge clicks again. Erasmus, who is now carrying it, shows it to Jayden who can read the strange symbol now presented on the staff. She interprets it for her fellow adventurers and informs them the symbol means that a plane has been crossed and the staff now grants its bearer additional insight.
Frappe hears the faint sounds of footsteps in the distance and everyone extinguishes their sun rods and hides in the veil of darkness. They see a man in an elegant black cape and ornate sword approach the cauldron. Bravely, Rangrim jumps out at the figure, snarling and more intimidating that usual due to his unkempt and wounded state, ready with an attack. Unphased the figure sighs and speaks, “I’ve been looking for you! We must get to Kingsport.” Even before they could light his face with sun rods, they know that voice – it is Tristan.
Without lowering his axe, Rangrim asks “Why?” Tristan motions to him to lower his weapon and relax his stance, answering, “There is much to say. I will tell you on the journey.” The adventurers follow Tristan out who leads them through the marsh, which appears to be still cleared out from the party’s last pass through the area.
Tristan asks Erasmus how many scrolls we have found and if they are safe. Erasmus is hesitant to answer and instead counters with a question for Tristan, “Is your scroll safe?” Looking away, Tristan answers that it was. Erasmus knows that he has a scroll and Caldwell has a scroll and both are safe. Tristan explains that Ichabod was corrupted by the Shadekai prophetess and he was compelled to steal the scroll from Tristan. Ichabod also attacked Lady Bochenricht, thinking she had a scroll. Ichabod’s actions have caused a great disturbance in the town now under martial law upon Lord Bochenricht’s return and great embarrassment for Tristan and temple. Tristan goes on to say that Ichabod is trying to collect all the scrolls to do the ritual to stop the Scottish Polka himself, without realizing that he is not powerful enough and the forces to which he aligned himself cannot be trusted. Tristan implores the party to help him recover the rest of the scrolls to prevent Ichabod from carrying out his plan.
Listening to Tristan recount the events of the past few days and how the scroll was stolen from him, Erasmus is filled with a deep sense of resentment and frustration towards Tristan who is unable to take responsibility for his mistake – it was he who let the scroll fall into Ichabod’s hands and he who was not keeping it safe. Erasmus puts those thoughts aside for moment as Tristan continues speaking to the party.
Tristan is sure that Ichabod is on his way to either Kingsport or Steeple Fall – as that is where the 2 remaining scrolls are hidden. Tristan shares that he is already planning to go to Kingsport. Focused and intent to getting to the scrolls before they fall into the wrong hands, the party decides to split their efforts and travel to Steeple Fall.
An Unlikely Ally
Before parting ways, Erasmus suggests Tristan and the party arrange a rendezvous time and place. Tristan agrees with the suggestion and offers that they should reconvene in 2 weeks and marking a tree in the marsh by ripping off a large patch of bark, suggests this tree be the point. Erasmus probes Tristan further, asking if there is anything he is holding back…anything he needs to share with the group. Tristan cautions Erasmus and the others that Bochenricht is now under martial law as Lord Bochenricht is furious over the senseless and violent attack on his wife. The environment in Bochenricht does not make it a safe place to return to at this time. Erasmus thanks him and pulling him aside, reminds him that for this alliance between the adventurers and him to work, they need to be open and honest with each other.
Tristan rebukes him and loudly proclaims that this is not an “alliance” – he will never align with a demon – clearly pointing that remark at Sorrow with whom he has a history of animosity. Sorrow shows no outward signs that Tristan’s verbal attack concerned her the slightest, but hurt for her, Jayden steps forward and in her usual diplomatic manner, asks Tristan to reconsider his position, considering that they are all working towards the same common good. While his pride would never permit him to formally apologize, his demeanor softens and he concedes that yes, in this unusual circumstance and because the stakes are so high, he supposes that Sorrow is an unlikely ally, but an ally nonetheless.
Looking over at Frappe, who has been unusually quiet, Sorrow notices that he is badly hurt – the blood magic ritual seems to have had an effect on him that the others have been able to heal beyond; coupled with the disease he had been battling since the bout in the jungle. Discreetly, Sorrows makes Jayden aware of Frappe’s plight. Knowing the tremendous healing powers a paladin like Tristan would have, Jayden takes advantage of her position having successfully reasoned with Tristan and calmed his prideful arrogance to ask him to help heal Frappe before he leaves. Insincerely he acknowledges that he would, but he doesn’t have the components. Confident the adventurers would not have the items needed, Tristan lists off the materials. Jayden quickly rifles through the items amassed by the party along the way and produces all the necessary components. Impatiently, he reminds the group that time is of the essence and Ichabod is already in transit towards either Steeple Fell or Kingsport. Tristan then notes that there is no way he could do it alone. Erasmus is quick to offer his assistance and with no excuses left, Tristan and Erasmus perform the healing ritual on a weakened Frappe, who had at no time reminded the party of his plight. Frappe recovers fully almost immediately and the adventurers offer a heartfelt thanks and offer small favors and tokens of appreciation, but Tristan declines them before running off in the direction of Kingsport to find and stop Ichabod.