Off to Drelev! We decide that our cohorts will take the refugees home and we will go on to Drelev alone.
We use the boat to traverse the waterways. Chull mix crustacean, serpent, insect. 8 foot tall, 4 legs, 2 large claws, very strong exoskeleton. Lots of tentacles around mouth that can paralyse. Intelligent, do like their ambushes, we know they collect keepsakes of their victims and they don’t like surface dwellers.
We are keeping a lookout so we spot a dark opening hidden by the cat tails and rushes in the water. Amina checks it out cautiously. They spot her. Chittering dialect of Common, they are talking about yum, food, then it goes quiet. Some parts of this cave are deeper than wading. We fight two of them. We win. We explore the cave. There are crude murals on the rock walls. Mostly of chull eating humans. Also tactical ambushing techniques depicted. Remains of mostly human remains, the odd boggard, etc. Bodies have been stripped of belongings. There’s another room off the main cave, it contains large leathery eggs. In the main room there is an area that is above the water, and on it are various items from victims. Masterworked quarterstaff with silver at each end and predatory birds carved on it. Silver ring which detects as magical – makes you a bit more athletic. Coral holy symbol of Gosray, mithril gilded leaf brooch (not magical), waterproof satchel contains spellbook and leather journal. The cave is big enough for us to get the boat in so we can use it to shelter. We read the journal. Research journal rather than a diary. Things that stand out: has a section on chull – he was aware that they set ambushes and were intelligent, had a rudimentary civilisation, possible racial memory/shared experiences. They can clearly recall events from previous generations, which might explain why they hate humanoids so much. Have been found working with mindflayers and troglodytes at times. Apparently people thought they would be useful for experiments in polluted areas and rifts and so on, to provoke mutations. Section on Stolen Lands: area known as River Kingdoms, disputed for a long time, land not been settled clearly, also dominion of various fey, e.g. in Forest called Breath of a Thousand Voices, veil is thin there between here and First World. Speculation about some of old Erastil shrines – original settlers may have been followers. One of shrines he describes sounds similar to the Bear shrine. Hooktongue Slough – south is infested with boggards in little islands, trolls have been creeping through the area, and strange swamp magic. Azure Lily grows there, blue pollen can be harvested, is done by assassins etc heading to Daggermark.
Nystra – town, used to be a silk town, wiped out in a revenge plot by a Taldan druid about 100 years ago. Liberthane is a small settlement that is a rebel against Galt.
We decide to approach Drevlev on foot as it will be a bit less conspicuous than arriving in a boat that we then fold up and stuff in a bag. As we arrive on the shore, we hear someone sobbing. Look for tracks on muddy shoreline, none of the tracks are very recent. We head towards the sound, we can see caves in that direction, signs of humanoid being taken down and dragged towards the water, probably 4 or 5 days ago. Follow tracks to water’s edge, there are bodies weighed down in water, Cade spots them. Whatever is dragging the people into the water, it goes back into the water. Tracks are clawed, large creature, just seems to be the one creature. Guessing this is its hunting ground. We conclude that the sobbing is either a lure, or a victim. Amina goes into the water to look at the bodies. Very crduely weighted down with large rocks. Variety of lizard folk, boggards, humans – they have had their eyes clawed out and their bodies have been mutilated, not scrabbled at in a frenzy, eyes have been GOUGED out, most are missing teeth and fingernails. Some have been chewed or eaten more than others. Rocks have scrapes on them as if the same creature put the rocks there. Rena casts a spell called Blood Biography using samples from some of the victims. Who are you? What are you? How was your blood shed? When was your blood shed? Answers: Truss. Male, human, mud gatherer. Attacked by large creature. Starday. There is a creature which has this particular habit – Ahuizotl. Swamp creature, fierce predator, has long tail ends in claw and humanoid hands, can mimic sound of humanoids in distress to lure people to it, it eats eyes, teeth and fingernails. Has been known to let victims go if they agree to supply new victims. We follow the sound of sobbing into a cave, find the beast and kill it. There are skeletons of a group of children, who had been tied up. We do the blood biography thing again. Kitty. Female. Creature grabbed me and started taking parts of my body. About a month ago.
There is a curfew, so we need to camp/hide for the night. We see WOTWs playing along the shoreline. Next day we set off to try and find Cassandra’s ‘friend’ Satinder Morn. We will need a long stemmed flower to thread through Cassandra’s ring to show we are genuine. We walk into town, see citizens around, and then a group of 4 soldiers stop to question us. They suggest we talk to someone about work – brothel or tavern good place to find one of the captains. Best not to go to the Fort.
We go to the brothel, there are some off duty guards in there. A stunning woman comes to meet us. We waffle a bit and present the ring and flower. She takes us into a private room. We tell her the truth. We make it clear that we don’t want harm to come to the residents here and anyone else who is here under duress. She says we won;t be able to deal with this bloodlessly. Rena says he wants the Baron to face justice, not for us to kill him. She says she will tell us everything she can. During the night, giants patrol the streets to stop anyone entering or leaving. Anyone trying to leave is executed. Guards are not locals, most mercenaries were sent by Irevetti (Pitax). Drevlev himself formally fell on his knees to him, he claims to be a friend, but it’s more just he’s scared. Guards use any excuse to arrest locals, kill and loot is what they really do. Populace is aware and very scared. Must be careful to not scare them into doing stupid things, if we fight publicly it will make things worse. They would however be quite happy to see some of the guards or the giants go missing. There was a slaver who came to collect orphans to go back to Pitax orphanage. Rena says he wants to know if he ever comes back. He tells her about the Ahuizotl. She tells us numbers of people here have fallen, and all the money goes to the Keep. No money is being spent on the town. People are struggling for food. Rena offers to make food.
Imicus Stroon had gone away but has recently come back (Baroness’s brother). Armag Warlord has left, might have been part of the armies that attacked Haven – he took young women away as hostages.
The Baroness is having a birthday party in a week’s time, we could maybe get into that. Satinder also knows about a secret escape tunnel that goes down to the lake shore.
Does she know where the girls may be being held? She thinks in the hills. Is there anything immediate that can be done here to help? Removing the Drevlevs would do it. Then the mercenaries and giants. Temple of Erastil got their people mostly, but the 3 priests in charge were taken into the keep and no-one has been seen since.
It looks like we are going secretly into the fort to take over. We ask her to find people who could stand witness against the Baron and his family in an honest open trial. Once we have captured the family, we expect the mercenaries start to cause trouble. 6 hill giants are in the keep during the day. Mercenaries at night at down in town and some in fort, 3 dozen of them.
Long conversation between Rena and Satinder about how Sanctuary/Haven works with regard to brothels, vengeance and so on. She’s cagey about wanting us to take over, until she understands more.
There are a couple of boggard tribes that cause problems nearby, they dealt with some but the last one is the one that we dealt with recently. The town is not self sufficient. There are a couple of farms out on the plains, but they were just having crops taken off them by barbarians, bandits and mercenaries. Fishermen were struggling because of attacks by creatures.
So we lay low for the day. We wander around town for a bit then sneak back into the brothel to hide out till nightfall. It’s clear everyone is terrified of the guards, the town is utterly impoverished, when the fishing boats come in, most of it is taken straight to the castle and no money is given.
We sneak out at night and head into the woods, where we set a light spell to try and draw them off away from town so we can deal with them (hopefully). They come after us. We fight. We win. Then we go find the secret entrance to the tunnel on the shoreline. We go into the tunnel. Signs of water damage from flooding.
Creatures ahead – big black puddings, corrosive, if you hit them with slashing or piercing weapon they are known to split into 2 working halves, their damage is acidic. Cade finds a shining object in the gloopy mess that used to be the black puddings. Small expensive looking platinum damaged holy symbol of Erastil. Rena mends it. We move on to an iron gate that’s blocking the way. The lever is on the other side of the gate – Rena casts Mage Hand to open it. Into another corridor. Room off to right. Storage room with table with rations on it, and several vials of different things, and a bag. Magical bag and potions. Move on to a big limestone cavern. Looks like it’s used for storage sometimes. We move on. We reach a dead end. We find the secret door after some time. We find the mechanism but it doesn’t want to open. We use the wand of dimension door to get through. There are 2 secret doors off this room, 1 west, 1 southern, and a trap door in the ceiling. There’s an L-shaped table in the room has precious stones and jewellery on it, and there are 2 trunks here too. Looks as if there used to be a couple of necklaces on the table as well. There is magic coming from the 2 chests. Weapons, armour and potions in one of them. Potions are the magic. All nice kit. Breastplate and longsword have crest on them – the Terrion family. We put the armour and sword into the portable hole. Green wooden carved ring depicting a snake, looks like the match to the one we found in the tomb, wear both together only uses one ring slot, but is ring of swimming plus evasion. Rena takes it.
We take the southern door. Wine cellar. Some serious expensive stuff here! Two doors out of here. 1 south, 1 west. Iron door, locked. Dimension door again. This is the treasury, mostly empty containers. Still some chests of coin and some ingots with Baron’s seal on. We go back out as there’s no other door. We go out the other door into a food cellar. It’s well supplied. Door in northern wall. It’s locked. Dimension door. It’s a washroom. There are 5 cells. One is occupied and he’s looking much the worse for wear. Terrion is in poor health and determined to fight Drevlev to the bitter end. We heal/cure him and give him his arms and armour back. He swears his life to Rena. We are under the main tower of the fort. Above us are the main living quarters etc. The stairs go up to the rest of the tower.
2 floors above us. They come up in the main foyer. Trapdoor goes up into a cloakroom off the main foyer. We go up stairs, there’s two guards stood in front of us. Fighty fighty. They down. Rena casts stabilise on them..
We bolt the double doors that lead into the rest pf the castle. Check other doors in he foyer to see where they go. Top left corner = washroom. Next door is a workshop. Then the cloakroom where the trapdoor comes up. There’s a trapdoor in the ceiling here as well. Locked. There’s a storeroom full of tapestries and furniture etc as well. And a kitchen. And a pantry off that. All external windows are wizard locked shut. Dimension door through the trapdoor. No actual doors, but 2 secret ones and a trapdoor in the ceiling. Definite movement on this floor. Terrion tells us to use the southern door (which is also where the sounds are coming from). Doors not locked. This is the banquet room, the Baron is in here. He’s sat on a throne. There’s a guard with his back to the door. Other guards surrounding the main door. Room is very royally decorated. We dimension door into the room. 8 guards. Disable ot kill them and Baron. Rena stabilises those that survive.
We check the library to see if anyone is in there. Small creature in a nest on top shelves. It’s a dust mephit. It can see in dark, can heal fast if it’s dusty, gets blurry so hard to hit, has got a breath weapon and can bring more mephits along. Cade talks to it. We persuade it that it’s master can go free if he leaves immediately. He teleports in, grabs the mephit and teleports straight out again. That’s him gone. He leaves his sister to sort herself out. We find the Baroness and the mistress, who turns out NOT to be a succubus. We’ve got the rest of the guards to deal with.
She does her best to wriggle out of it all. The Baroness was clearly planning to murder her husband and take over. She has an annoying handbag dog. We take it away and she goes mental and draws a dagger and throws things. We subdue her. Quintessa uses Dimension Door to escape as soon as she is alone. We will announce that she is a wanted person. Guards surrender. Imicus is not a nice person, he’d researched oozes and found out that those smelly vials would stop black puddings attacking you. He was brought in to cast scrying spells on us every day. He enjoys the finer things in life. But he has gone. Baroness is a creature of excess and comfort. She thinks her husband is weak and inept and thought her brother would beat him. She actively encouraged Quintessa to go after her husband, sure she isn’t what she seems but not sure who or what she really is or where she came from. Quintessa’s journal is in code, she was clearly after Stroon as well. Much of the money was withdrawn from the kingdom by the Baron to build for himself and his people, he’d bribed/appeased the barbarians and Pitax.
Numesti and Satinder call the people together and tell them what we have achieved. People are backing us. If we wish to claim and take over Fort Drevlev, we can and have the backing of the people. Rena offers the protection of Sanctuary to the Drevlev Desmesne. Issue proclamation. The town formerly known as Fort Drevelev will be known as Freehold, around the castle of Fort Liberty, part of kingdom of Sanctuary. Our first act is for the people to nominate a judiciary to oversee trial of Baron Drevlev, wife, mistress in absentia, and the guards that surrendered.
There are research notes ion the library on mephits and oozes, lots of other interesting stuff inc encyclopedia of Brevoy nobility.