Lost Seals of Dracholt 16 – Puzzle Box

The party collects their reward before coming across a duo of strange creatures in a dark alley.

Cast of Characters


Dungeon Master
Red

Aldin Thuliaga
Goliath Paladin – Red’s Husband

Nick “Pyro” / “Gandra Nox”
Human (Gold Draconic) Sorcerer – Tyrone (older teen girl)

Crux “Craux”
Kobold Warlock – Mort/Blackwold (new DM candidate)

Thokk
Half-Orc Barbarian – Kildrak (new but experienced player McFadin knew)

Erevan
Elven Ranger – new player Red and husband knew from Warhammer 40k

Logan
Human Fighter – emergency DM

Summary


After Nick and Erevan had caught up with the party, arriving on a halfling trading boat to find a tree across the river and a mass of gore smearing the banks and numerous downed trees, the group piled back onto Crux’s wagon amidst the pile of severed heads and was back to Dracholt in no time. The cart came all the way through the city, elliciting looks of horror from peasants and nobles alike until it trundled into the castle’s great hall, the peasant that had been complaining to the Seneschal trailing off mid-sentence as a number of others conspicuously left.

“What in the name of … ?!”

“We took care of the gnolls,” Aldin cut the Seneschal off, removing the heads one by one from the cart. “Although only this black putty and amulet remains of their leader, we brought back their heads to show for the deed.”

“By the grace of all that is good and holy, I’ll pay you one thousand gold so long as you take that mess out of here!” the Seneschal insisted in revulsion.

“But didn’t you offer to pay us one thousand originally?” Logan offered slyly.

The Seneschal snapped out of his revulsion momentarily. “No,” he asserted. “I offered you eight hundred.”

“Well,” Aldin began before any of the others could cut in. “There are twenty one heads here, so how about twenty gold for disposing of each head and the original eight hundred.”

“Fine, just get rid of them!” the Seneschal gagged, his horror renewed now that Aldin had finished pulling everything from the cart.

“Wonderful!” Crux crowed as Aldin began loading up the heads again. “But one more thing! The leader was wearing quite the gem – this rare black onyx amulet filled with protective magics! We have little use for it, but someone such as yourself might find it indeed interesting.”

The Seneschal’s eyes glittered with greed, and as the party walked out shortly later, Crux slowly counted his coins. “Are you sure he’s going to be alright with that?” Nick frowned, casting a glance back at the Seneschal, who seemed to have visibly aged a year, his wrinkles deeper and hair a little whiter.

“It will be fine. Buyer beware,” the kobold chuckled. “Oh! You all go on ahead. I’m going to go grab Krizia from Alpharius.”

*~*

As the party wandered back towards the tavern later that night, Crux regailed Nick with the tale of how he had run into the “Church of the Dragon” after helping his children put down the money to rent a nicer home outside the sewers. “They insisted on moving out,” the kobold continued after a lengthy ramble. “Said something about everyone else leaving. I’m not sure what they’re on about, but I let them. I mean, they have enough money to rent the place far past my lifetime now. It’s a really nice place, with all…”

“What are those in the alley?” Erevan interrupted, pointing to two large cubes, their surfaces nearly black but inscribed with a number of lines and patterns.

“A… maybe a puzzle box?” Logan mused as he moved towards them, Thokk rushing past him to vault over top the boxes.

“Where trouble?!” the half-orc demanded, looking down each branch of the alley in turn. “Nothing here.”

“Let’s see if we can get these open,” Logan laughed, but once he had put his hands on one, they stuck fast. “What in the name of…? I’m stuck!”

“Here, let me help,” Nick called, rushing forward to try to pry Logan off the puzzle box but finding his quarterstaff quickly stuck as well.

“This isn’t working!” Logan lamented, although as Nick continued to struggle, now simply trying to free his weapon, the puzzle boxes seemed to shift and change. A large grin opened on the front of each to reveal huge, jagged teeth, and the one Logan was not stuck to thrust its tongue out, the muscle wetly slapping across Logan’s back and sticking as well.

“Trouble!” Thokk rejoiced, spinning on his heel and ripping a patch off the colorful robe he wore. It expanded into a circle of darkness, but as he tried to throw it overtop the mimics and Logan, it simply passed on through, landing on the ground and opening up a ten-foot deep, ten-foot wide hole into which the three shortly tumbled. As the bundle of sticky creatures plummetted, Nick let out a yelp, releasing his quarterstaff before he too was dragged over the edge.

A sick crunch from the bottom of the pit announced the creatures’ teeth closing around Logan, but with a flick of the wrist and some muttered words, Nick cast a spell, Logan immediatley growing until he filled the entire pit. Thankfully, all of his armor remained intact, but as he flailed to attempt to detach himself from the creatures, it became obvious that no one else would be able to lend him much more help.

Still, Logan quickly scrambled out of the pit with the help of his newfound size, Thokk leaping down into the pit to hack at the one mimic left down there while Aldin rushed forward to help Logan kill the second. As the human angrily continued to pound away, mutilating the creature’s corpse in his ire, Aldin moved to help Thokk finish the other and Erevan slowly crept closer.

“Logan,” he said quietly, as the enraged fighter panted over the bloody corpse. “Are you alright now?”

“That wasn’t very nice of it,” Logan growled before seeming to regain his sanity. “Yes, sorry about that.”

The drow ranger moved forward, pushing bits of entrails and gore out of the way to extract a fine peice of jewelry from the mimic’s guts. It was thankfully unharmed by the smashing, its fine silver chain and masterfully-cut garnet centerpeice glittering in the torchlight despite the amount of blood covering them. The house sigil within the garnet slowly revealed itself as Erevan wiped away the blood, and the shape of the thing became more apparent as he untwisted it. The thing was shaped as a spider, the garnet its thorax while two of its legs stretched into a loop of chain; Erevan knew it immediately – a Priestess of Lolth’s holy symbol. The house sigil he even recalled easily; House Baenrae had borne it and had all too recently been the talk of the Underdark after failing to usurp the city’s hierarchy of power. They had supposedly been stricken from existence, although if the jewelry being here, in Dracholt, in the stomach of a monster was anything to go by; the four noble children of the house had not fallen to their decreed fate.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” Erevan said, ensuring that his face betrayed none of his thoughts. “Sell it.”

Notes


Erevan was just introduced to the mortal remains of Ilvaria Baenrae, a Cleric of Lolth that my husband and I co-ran in the previous iteration of this campaign. It was very amusing to watch the entire party react to the sad face my husband made when I confirmed what he suspected of the mimics (which took on a similar form in a similar location when they killed Ilvaria).


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