After finding the seals abandoned shortly outside the Blackshire caverns, the party begins its trek back toward Dracholt.
Cast of Characters
Goliath Paladin – Red’s Husband
Lawful Neutral Paladin of Devotion tied strongly to Goliath’s tendencies for meritocracy. Thinks magic is cheating, and has a personality loosely based on Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation.
Nick “Pyro” / “Gandra Nox”
Human (Gold Draconic) Sorcerer – Tyrone (older teen girl)
Vigilante-type that masquerades as a Dragonborn-esque creature “Gandra Nox” in order to keep himself safe.
Half-Elf Rogue – new player Red’s friends knew
Kildrak Dankil of the Silver Flame
Dwarven Cleric – new but experienced player McFadin knew
Investigating the chapel-like room that the crazed cleric had disappeared into after Crux left to help the peasants out of the caverns, the party poked about the three statues, McFadin finding a small button hidden amid the runic carvings on the woman’s dress that allowed him to push the statue back. A light gust of wind issued from the hole beneath the statue as it slid away; the dark but smooth stone shaft just big enough for a full grown adult to slip through and just sloped enough to look like something of a slide.
Kildrak looked questioningly down it before voicing his concerns that it was trapped; the dwarf tied a rope around his own waist and offered the end to Aldin with the instructions to slowly lower him down. The stout dwarf found the squeeze tight, but he slid down all the same, the rope eventually going slack before his voice echoed up that it was safe; the others promptly came tumbling out of the slide as well, sprawling out on the floor of a rough-hewn tunnel that showed a faint light, outside, at its end.
“It’s likely trapped,” McFadin warned, beginning to pat at the floor and walls with his hands in search of another tripwire.
“She ran through here,” Kildrak rebutted. “There’s no way she’d be running if there were tripwires every ten feet.”
With that, he trudged forward determinedly, his foot catching beneath him after the first few strides and nearly sending him tumbling. The others rushed forward, but the cleric only bent over to pick up a chain off the ground, the two lost seals dangling in their cage at its end.
“They might be cursed!” the rogue exclaimed, to be met by a quizzical expression.
“Magic, yes,” Kildrak said, wrapping his hand around one of the seals for a moment, “but not cursed.”
He tossed the seals to Aldin then, before trudging on, eventually coming to the end of the tunnel, where he stopped to point to impressions in the ground. Clearly, they were Alaera’s footprints, and they were headed back toward the ruined town. Still, the party decided that it had what it came for, and it was not much use pursuing her, especially since the sun was setting and more undead might be waiting somewhere off in the woods.
After spending the night holed up in Alaera’s study, Aldin having moved the bookcases so one covered each of the two entrances, thr group prepared to shove off, collectively indifferent upon having learned that some of the kobolds had snuck back in during the night and made off with the magical coffin and its acessories, along with a number of books. Still, six books in the strange language remained, and the party began their trek southward without much else thought.
As the day wore on and they passed a particularly dense copse of trees, a jaunty but off-key tune carried on the breeze came to them, leading them into the forest a ways before a small clearing with a little hillock in the middle opened up before them. The song, in a deep and gutteral language none of them understood, sounded as if it were coming from the hillock, or more precisely the well at the top center of it.
Intrigued, Nick rushed up to it and looked inside before announcing that the water seemed a bit too high to be normal. Skeptical and concerned, Aldin called out greeting into the water, but what answered him only spoke in his head.
“The Great Tudapan the Magnificent bids you ado!”
“Do you need help?” the goliath asked.
“Help?” the voice in his head came back, “The Great Tudapan the Magnificent needs no help! But come speak with Tudapan a while!”
The goliath screwed up his face, tossing a coin into the well: “I’m just hearing things.”
“Ow!” the voice howled. “Why do you throw things at the Great Tudapan?!”
The goliath began to walk away, although Nick leaned over the edge of the well: “Hello?”
“The Great Tudapan the Magnificent bids you ado!” the voice came back, but this time it only spoke in Nick’s head. “Come speak with the Great Tudapan a while!”
“Who are you?” Nick called into the well.
“The Great Tudapan is a cunning and powerful sorcerer!”
“Oh! So am I!”
Kildrak and McFadin exchanged a concerned glance as Aldin neared the bottom of the hillock. “Hello?” McFadin shouted.
“The Great Tudapan the Magnificent bids you ado!” the voice crowed, now only sounding in McFadin’s head. “Please come speak to Tudapan; Tudapan is quite bored down here.”
“Do you need assistance?” the rogue replied.
“Tudapan the Magnificent needs no assistance! Tudapan appreciates good company…”
“All you well?” the rogue shouted then with a mild snicker.
“All is well to Tudapan.”
Annoyed that the party was still shouting at the well, Aldin yelled at them to come along before a door suddenly threw itself open, seeming to appear out of nowhere in the middle of a large rock at the hillock’s base. Kildrak, a thin smirk hidden beneath his beard, wandered down in through the door, a glyph momentarily flaring to life as he crossed the threshold but quickly fading again without incident.
Beyond the rock, an arched tunnel led to a circular room, almost all of its contents covered in a thick layer of dust. A tattered hamock hung from two uprights supporting the domed ceiling, which had a hole in the center. Below the hole sat a rusted stove, clearly unused for ages, although the books lining the many walls had clearly been picked up on a regular basis, since they were untouched by the dust. One item of note stood out; a small chest sat beside a table, a large lock holding it shut.
Before Kildrak could muse about the chest’s contents, the source of the singing and conversation bobbed past. It looked like a flying, green head, four long tendrils that ended in eyes extending from the body from which only a mouth smiled. Those tendrils held up a moth-eaten robe, two sticking through the neck and the other two through the sleeves. It swayed and bobbed as the head danced about, at least as much as a floating head could, before stopping as a body came through the hole in the middle of the roof.
Having repelled down the well, Nick looked at the strange green thing in shock as Aldin and McFadin appeared behind Kildrak, but a few words broke the creature’s stupor. “What on earth?” McFadin frowned.
The head spun to look at him, but its mouth did not move: “Tudapan the Magnificent bids you ado!”
Still the voice was only in McFadin’s head, but with the creature’s eyes trained on him, he was certain the floating head was the one doing the talking. “What are you doing down here?”
“Protecting…” the thing replied, gesturing wildly with its eyestalks at the room and its contents, “this.”
McFadin exchanged a worried glance with Aldin and Kildrak. “How long have you been down here?” the rogue asked.
“Tudapan has been here for quite some time… sixty… seventy years? Tudapan cannot remember.” The floating head began to bob about the room again, spinning and swaying as it went.
“Who lives here?” the rogue pressed.
“Tudapan does not remember his name. It was long, long ago that he left.”
Aldin, removing the seals from around his neck, held them out to the floating head: “Do you know what these are?”
Tudapan came forward and drew still, all four eyes focussing intently on the two seals that the goliath held out. The creature squinted and looked at them from a number of angles, but after but a moment, it went back to dancing about the room.
“They’re magic!” the answer came in Aldin’s head before the floating orb began to sing the same off-key tune as before, its mouth moving this time to form the gutteral words.
Nick began to play music for the thing, its mouth twisting into a smile, but the others asserted that they needed to leave. Tudapan was clearly unstable or a little mad or both, and they did not want to disturb him too much.
Scurrying out the door and closing it behind them, although Tudapan barely noticed, the group returned to the road and their journey south, the strange singing following them for only a moment. Nick continued to play the tune for quite some time though, and he only stopped as the party stopped to make camp as the sun set. As the darkness fell and they all laid down on their bedrolls, a strange green thing came floating out of a tall chunk of grass. Nick squinted at it. It was the same size and color as Tudapan, so he began to play the creature’s song again, although only silence answered. The green thing floated closer, Nick shaking the others and pointing to the thing.
“Did Tudapan leave the hole?” Aldin grumbled.
“I just thought that weird song really loud at it,” McFadin frowned, “But it did not say anything.”
Still closer the thing drifted, until it was in their midst. It looked like Tudapan, but it was somehow wrong. As McFadin squinted harder at it, the thing bumped into him, leaving a thick coating of acidic slime eating at his skin. He shouted in pain, scrambling back and firing an arrow into the thing, which burst in a cloud of green goo that coated the others heavily.
As they howled and cursed, small mushrooms in a circle about their camp rose up from the ground and expanded to four times their size, black tendrils lashing out of their bases and smacking at those still in range. Scooping up his sword, Aldin cut a number off at their bases as Nick and Kildrak set the others on fire. Still, as the ash settled, Nick sat down hard, a number of large welts forming across his arms and legs, the shoulder of his robe torn to reveal a deep gash beneath.
Putting down his sword again, Aldin patted the sorcerer on the head, some of the welds fading and the gash knitting back together as the paladin encouraged him to get some rest.