A Tangent of a Tangent
The “Furious Five” spent the next couple weeks in recovery and revelry spending their reward money from their rescue of Waterdeep.
Once all the updates were complete, the Lucky Monkey was once more opened for business. Shensen, the acting manager, re-staffed the inn, and orchestrated an opening celebration. The opening was not the success they had imagined however. The dismally attended celebration was interrupted by rocks and animal feces being thrown through the windows. Outside the building had been vandalized with hateful comments towards the drow Shensen and the Fey-touch Ailyn. The party ran down and questioned a couple of out-of-town thugs dressed in ape suits who had been terrorizing the neighborhood. The thugs had been hired by Thorn Tlassalune, the manager of the Stone Stallion in a neighboring Amphail. He planned a special, carefully advertised “Victims of the Lucky Monkey Massacre memorial service” and added a bit of his own “guerrilla-marketing” to insure the Lucky Monkey opening day was a bust. The party took the ape suits, turned the thugs into the authorities, and planned a little pay-back.
The “Furious Five” resolved to pay special attention to the victims, offering belated compensation for funeral expenses and special perks at the inn. They also devised an appropriate memorial to be constructed in the atrium itself. (They also squashed “Carnivorous Cal’s” suggestion at immortalizing the victims in the names of the dishes served.)
Ailyn’s spirit guide led him to a nearby stream, where he was met by Lilly, a Nixie, who plead for his help righting a great wrong in her home waters—the river Dessarie. The corrupted hotsprings of Death Shallows had become home to a great evil. Tales speak of a terrible immortal creature, Kezef, the “Chaos Hound,” who rested in that spot, and forever tainting the ground with his hatred. Alexander Eidolon had a letter suggesting one of his ancestors was pursued by a beast matching that description.
Fortunately, the Death Shallows was conveniently on the way to Amphail, where the “Furious Five” had some fury to share with Thorn.
On their way, the party came across a caravan being attacked by a band of ghouls. They dispatched the ghouls without much effort, although a mysterious onlooker escaped into a cloud of smoke. The Duchess Lysara praised them, and offered them reward when she returned to her uncle in Goldenfields. She explained he was on a journey from her kingdom in the Moonshae isles, to experience the world before assuming her role. She begged the party to escort her the rest of the way, since the ghouls had wiped out most of her guard.
The party agreed to escort her as far as Amphail, and help her find safety there. Moving through the foothills proved to be dangerous, however. Bren’s keen instincts helped to thwart an ambush by bugbears. Two human mercenaries fired down on the party from above, killing the last of Lysara’s soldiers, Phineas. In the fray a goblin snuck into the Duchess’s wagon and teleported away with a magical lantern, despite Gofarian’s wild groping. The humans were captured and questioned, but remained silent (or unconscious) in the face of Gofarian’s harsh questioning technique.
Bren tracked the attackers back to their base camp, a ruined abbey a couple of miles away.
There the “Furious Five” engineered a masterful attack on the camp, leading a large contingent away, charging in, killing one guard and the cleric “Father Marko” mid-spell during their opening volley. It was only then that they noticed the cleric was actual a worshiper of Chauntea, the goddess of the Harvest. The group was actually the “Company of the Cross and Skull”—a group of good-aligned mercenaries that specialized in hunting the undead. They had mistaken the party as minions of Lysara, a vampire they had been tracking for some time. Apparently she had run from her home, taking an extremely valuable artifact with her, the Lantern of Marlok. The Lantern is specifically designed to protect the undead from divination magic, as well as shield them from the effects of the sun.
The Company of the Cross and Skull had been granted the use of some Bugbears by a person representing a group called the Fire Knives. Apparently the Fire Knives have been active in the Waterdeep area trying to win the favor of the government and local leaders, as well as making treaties and bargains with local goblin-kind. Their true motives were unknown to the Company. Eventually the two parties came to terms with their mutual misunderstandings, and agreed to work together against Lysara.
They arrived back at the caravan too late. Lysara and her true minions had been killed by another vampire – Karlor. Karlor, unleashed a new group of ghouls and a horrifying multi-armed corpse-thing on the combined parties to retrieve the lantern. Attacking with incredible strength and four fists, the thing killed Shiva, the leader of the Cross and Skull, and almost killed Gofarian. In the confusion Karlor followed his senses to the lantern, claimed it and escaped. Lysara had spoken to Gofarian of another Fighter-Mage acquainted with her uncle in Goldenfields. Of course, now that Lysara has been exposed as a vampire, story may have been just part of her manipulation. The Company of the Cross and Skull departed back to Waterdeep, with the bodies of Shiva and Father Marco. There they could regroup and decide how to fill their sudden vacuum of leadership.
With ever urgent pleading from Ailyn’s crow, the party moved on to the Death Shallows. His spirit guide gave Ailyn vital (even if misspelled) clues about the strategy of the evil “Ooze Weird” which had inhabited the largest of the Acidic ooze pits. The weird evoked a dazzling display of high powered magic at the party—including turning Corwin to stone. Fortunately it never got to the fifth spell that Ailyn’s spirit guide warned of—the Horrid Wilting. Through concentrated effort, the party (including their Nixie allies Lilly, Puck and his troops) fended off the mephits and elementals while doing enough damage to the weird to force it to retreat to its home plane. The mephits and elementals followed, escaping through the portal in the bottom of the ooze pit before it closed forever.
With some creative excavating, the Furious Five were able to recover several magic items and gems preserved at the bottom of the acid pits. One of the items was a magical ring inscribed with Alexander’s family name—Eidolon—a foreboding remnant of the dark battle that plagues his family. Lilly and Puck were overwhelmed with gratitude toward Ailyn for his service and promised to return the favor someday.
Weary, battered, and bloody (and in one case, stone), the party finally found their way to the door of the Stone Stallion. Let’s just say the “Furious Five” left an impression on the owner, Thorn, that he is unlikely to forget for a long time.
Back at the Lucky Monkey, business had picked up a little. After a few gems paid for a “Stone to Flesh” spell, Corwin was so excited that he accidentally sprayed a half a bottle of ale all over his pants.