Episode 23: Through the Veil

The 5th Editon playtest campaign.
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EvilGenius
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Episode 23: Through the Veil

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Last session, the PCs pressed onward into the Feywild, following the elusive song that everyone could hear just at the edge of awareness (except Bannock, who could hear it plainly).

After some time the PCs became aware of being tired, but they were having trouble reckoning how long they had been travelling, or how long it had been since their last rest. Since the Feywild was perpetually in twilight, time seemed to flow differently than the PCs were used to.

Onarra attempted to contact the faedragon through the Fey Deck, but the dragon broke contact, saying that the Mother's had returned and he couldn't talk now.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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Soon after, the PCs found a clearing with four stone archways on a small hill. in the center of the stone archways was a brightly glowing, roiling ball of light and sound. Placed diagonally around the archways were four small monoliths, each of which showed shifting blue symbols of some sort. After some investigation, Thulik determined that the song which everyone could hear was much clearer in this location, and was apparently made up of four individual parts. Furthermore, each of the four musical lines was represented by the symbols on each of the monoliths, using a system of musical notation that Thulik had never seen before.

As Thulik began to write down and decipher the musical notation, Onarra and Bannock explored the ball of light and sound in the stone archways. Onarra was not able to approach the ball of light however, Bannock was able to stride right into the middle of the light and sound. Quickly overwhelmed by the sonic assault, Bannock collapsed in the center of the light. Onarra was unable to approach close enough to pull Bannock to safety but Brigga quickly summoned Bigby's Hand to scoop up the unconscious ranger.

Quarion used several minor healing spells but was unable to revive Bannock. After some deliberation, Quarion used a Greater Restoration spell, which was finally able to revive Bannock. Even revived though, Bannock seemed distracted and not quite in his right mind.

The PCs were unsure of what to do to open the doorways in the stone archways, so Quarion cast True Seeing to see if he could find any hidden magical effects. He was able to see strands of magical music stretching from the monoliths to the archways, one monolith to one archway.

Bannock came back to his senses a bit and pointed to one of the doorways and said they should try to open that one. Thulik was able to sing the appropriate musical line, following the musical notation on the matching monolith, and after a few moments, a doorway opened in the stone archway. With no hesitation, Bannock darted through the magical doorway. Concerned, the rest of the PCs followed him into the unknown.

The PCs found themselves in a grove in the deep forest, with a large, barren and scarred oak atop a small hill. Stepping shyly from behind the oak was a small female form, long green hair covering one half of her face. The PCs saw Bannock run up to the otherworldly dryad and kneel at her feet. The small woman laid her hand on Bannock's shoulder. "Welcome back, my husband. You have been missed."
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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The PCs stood in shock for a moment upon seeing Bannock kneeling before the strange dryad. The small woman stared furiously at the rest of the PCs, then laughed cruelly. "I see you have brought your kidnappers for punishment, husband. Today will be a fine day, after all!" With a dramatic gesture, the dryad swept back her green hair, which had been covering the left side of her face and neck. Underneath, to everyone's horror, the dryad's face and neck were scarred and deformed, as though it had been carved with a knife so often that the flesh had begun to run like melted wax.

The dryad gaze softened as she shifted her gaze to the still kneeling ranger. "Protect me, my husband." Bannock immediately stood, drew his blade and looked around intently for any threat. Simultaneously, the huge, scarred, barren oak tree (from which the dryad had appeared a few moments prior) started to animate and quickly pulled up its roots, while several branches shifted and wove together to form arms. By the time Bannock had drawn his weapon, the treant was fully animated.

Wasting no time, the tree picked up a large rock and threw it with great force at the PCs, striking Quarion squarely in the face! (heh. Natural 20 to start the combat! 56 boulder damage!)

Sensing that hostilities had begun, but not knowing what Bannock was going to do, Onarra withdrew the Fey Deck and skimmed a card to the ground near the dryad and treant. Onarra didn't know exactly what to expect from the card, but she was hoping for something to maybe distract the treant, at least until they could see how Bannock was going to react.

What happened, though, was much worse than that. A small glowing portal sprang into existence over the card. The portal expanded quickly, while bone chilling cold blackened the grass underneath. Bannock felt a moment of dread, as a figure dramatically stepped through the portal. The figure was wearing elaborate, frost rimmed platemail, which looked scorched and pitted in several locations, and was carrying a blade made of some kind of ebon metal, smoking in the twilight warmth of the Feywild. The knight turned to look at Bannock, revealing a face that was only a dark, flickering shadow surrounding two eyes of flame.

The death knight/shadow raised his blade and swept it sharply toward the ground as a wave of necrotic energy burst from him in all directions. Bannock, having a legitimate threat to contend with, sprang to the defense of the dryad, while Onarra rushed to engage and Quarion repaired his face with the healing magic of Rillifane. After several rounds of tense combat, the PCs, aided by the dryad and her treant, were able to banish the foul knight back to the Shadowfell.

The dryad immediately turned to Onarra and demanded to know why she would summon such an abomination to this place of life and nature. Onarra stammered out an apology, and the PCs brokered an uneasy peace with Delphine, the dryad claiming to be Bannock's FeyWife.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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After coming to an uneasy truce with Delphine, the dryad claiming Bannock as her husband, the PCs gathered a little information on the situation. With some of Bannock's memories of the Singing Pools uncovered, the PCs learned the following things:

* The Singing Pools are the home of a coven of ancient green hags, known as The Mothers.
* The persistent magical song heard throughout this region of the FeyWild comes from 4 dryads, called The Daughters
* The Mothers have always captured and enslaved men to serve as either their or the Daughters' "husbands"
* The Mothers have coerced/enslaved other fey creatures to serve them.
* The Mothers have made an alliance with the dragon, Valos (aka, The Master)
...... Under the terms of this pact, men captured by the Mothers are kept as husbands, women are sent to Valos for unknown purposes
...... (The PCs assume that the women turned over to Valos' minions have their souls consumed by the Book of Infinite Souls)
...... It is unclear what The Mothers gain from this arrangement
* Delphine reveals that there is a strange portal that opened over the middle of the Singing Pools several years ago.

The four Daughters are:
* Delphine - a scarred dryad bound to a treant. She does not currently have a 'husband', though Bannock was enslaved by her at some point in the past.
* Galadia - a dryad bound to a treant. She exhibits a strong disdain toward the humanoid races
* Zinnia - a dryad bound to a treant. Bannock has not encountered her before
* Carya - a dryad bound to a treant. Bannock has not encountered her before

In discussions with Delphine, it was revealed that when Bannock was here before, as Delphine's servant/protector/husband, the Daughters were conspiring to depose the Mothers, freeing this region from their tyranny. After Bannock was rescued by the other PCs, the Daughters fell back in line with the Mothers.

The PCs thought it might be worth while to try and revive that alliance, though Delphine was skeptical. The PCs tried to determine which Daughter would be more receptive to joining them, but the best that Delphine could figure was that Galadia was the dryad who would have the strongest opposition to the alliance. The PCs decided that if they could convince Galadia to join them, then that would make it far easier to convince the remaining two dryads to join their cause.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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So the PCs returned to the clearing with the stone archways and the ball of light and sound in the middle between them, and, using Bannock's and Delphine's knowledge, the PCs picked out Galadia's theme from the ever-present song, and used it to open the gateway to Galadia's Grove.

The PCs stepped through the gateway to find a huge oak tree on a small rise, and many natural pools surrounding the small rise, all of which were surrounded by overgrown weeds, small vines, and other vegetation. After a moment, a dryad stepped out from behind the oak tree. Her pale skin had a yellowish tint to it, contrasting to her deep green hair, woven through with twigs and oak leaves.

Galadia looked directly at Bannock, saying "Ahh, Delphine's errant husband returns, and has brought me gifts. You will find being one of my husbands is not as ... pleasant, as being hers!"

With that, the oak tree animated and moved to protect Galadia, while the PCs moved to engage. As the PCs moved past the pools though, the water stirred and a dozen decomposed zombie-like creatures emerged from the pools. Confused by the presence of the undead in the FeyWild, the PCs moved quickly to strike them down, while Quarion took a closer look at the 'husbands' to determine their true nature.

Quarion called out "they're not undead", as Onarra stabbed into one of the creatures. As soon as her rapier pierced the putrid "flesh", a puff of noxious spores exploded outward, covering her face. Retching from the unexpected spore attack, Onarra was temporarily incapacitated.

Meanwhile, Bannock used The Silvered Horn of Acheron to summon the doomed members of the Crashing Legion. The grim warriors appeared in the grove and immediately set upon the treant. Galadia magically ripped up chunks of rock from the ground and hurled them at the PCs, but ultimately had no luck in driving off the PCs or the Legionnaires. After a few moments of frenzied hacking, the treant fell, sundered to the ground.

With a piercing wail, Galadia also fell to the ground, as though pierced by the Legion's blades. This also caused the zombie-like creatures to fall inanimate.

(Upon closer examination, the zombies were actually large collection of fungi, using skeletons to grant mobility. Inspired by yellow musk zombies from previous editions).

Unsure of their plans now that they failed to even talk to Galadia, the PCs quickly returned to Delphine's Grove to plan their next move and recover.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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Once back in Delphine's Grove, the PCs noticed that the persistent Fey Song that all of them could sort of hear, and that Bannock could hear very clearly, had drastically changed. Instead of a sorrowful song, it now sounded alarming and angry. Delphine confirmed that the Mothers (hags) and other Daughters (dryads) were alerted to Galadia's death. The PCs also discovered that it seemed impossible to rest now that the Fey Song had changed. Delphine confirmed their suspicions, the Fey Song was directly preventing mortals from resting and the PCs should also be aware that the subtle harmonics of the Fey Song could also hinder any spellcasting relying on verbal components (have to make a spellcasting check at DC 10 to cast spells with verbal components).

Alarmed at the thought of confronting the other dryads or the hags without being able to refresh their abilities, the PCs contemplated whether to strike directly at the Mothers or to try and isolate and defeat the other dryads. During the discussion, the PCs were searching for magical ways to refresh themselves when Delphine told them of a grove of ancient oak trees not far away. The Mothers awakened the trees of that particular grove to become treants in their service, but there was a pool of clear water there which was infused with the magical essence of the Feywild. Mortals who drank from the pool would be refreshed in spirit, similar to getting a good night's sleep (or trance).

The PCs decided to travel to the Treant Grove to prepare for their fight against The Mothers. The travel wasn't particularly difficult although all of the PCs began to show signs of exhaustion by the time they arrived. As they neared the Grove, Delphine offered to scout ahead. The PCs waited behind a small ridge for her return, but noticed several large trees deeper in the grove whose branches seemed to be swaying in the wind, only there didn't seem to be any wind. Suddenly Delphine stepped out of a tree next to the PCs and cried out a warning as a few large chunks of sod and dirt whizzed toward the PCs location, exploding into showers of dirt as they hit the ground and (non-animated) trees around them.

The PCs engaged the several treants of the Grove, who animated several more trees to join the fight. Onarra was able to block most of the thrown chunks of soil and rock by judicious use of Mayaheine's Shelter, while Brigga and Bannock chopped and hacked the treants who moved to engage in melee combat. After a quick and brutal fight, the PCs had laid waste to the defending treants, and were able to partake of the refreshing waters of the Grove.

The PCs were also able to take a supply of the refreshing waters with them, to help ameliorate the disquieting effects of the Fey Song.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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So I goofed up a little bit on the logistics of how much of the Fey Water you the PCs would be able to take away with them and how far away everything is. For simplicity, lets say that you are still at the Treant Grove. It is 1 day's travel to the Singing Pools, where the Mothers lair. You easily have enough Fey Water for everybody to be fully rested and refreshed when you get to the Singing Pools, AND everyone will have 2 additional doses, as backup.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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The PCs also spoke at length to Dephine about what to expect at the Singing Pools. You discovered the following:

1) The Pools didn't used to be in the Feywild. They were natural pools in the Cold River, far south of Farweald, in the Fellreev Forest.
2) The entire Singing Pools area was drawn into the Feywild for an unknown reason, about the same time that a mysterious Portal appeared over the heart of the Pools.
3) The Mothers (hags) have always been in the Feywild, but they were able to reach out and ensnare mortals in the pools.
4) The Mothers ensnared 4 women over the centuries and transformed them into dryads, binding them to trees surrounding the Pools.
5) The Mothers also infused these dryads with enchanting musical abilities which the dryads used to lure mortals to the Pools where the Mothers could influence them more easily.
6) The Mothers sometimes offered dark magical pacts to especially powerful mortals.
.... a) At some point in the past, the Mother's had a very powerful Apprentice, who was some kind of Fey creature. That was before Delphine's time as a dryad, though.
.... b) The Apprentice is no longer associated with the Mothers
7) Now the approach to the Singing Pools passes over or through a stone, hemispherical bridge. This bridge seems to appear no matter from which direction you approach the Singing Pools.
.... a) A very large troll nicknamed Grafter guards the bridge. He will let people cross the bridge if they pay his price; a literal arm or a leg. Grafter takes these limbs and attaches them to himself, where somehow his trollish regeneration incorporates them into his body. He is known to have at least 4 arms and legs plus several heads.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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The Singing Pools:

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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The Troll Bridge:

Image
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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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Grafter

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Re: Episode 23: Through the Veil

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Quick summary for the final part of Through the Veil.

The PCs used the sparkling treant water to refresh themselves as though they had spent a long rest. Then everyone set off straight for the Mothers at the Singing Pools. It took about a days travel to get there, though a few hours before arrival, the PCs stopped for a Hero's Feast, and then used more treant water to refresh themselves with another long rest.

The PCs approached the Singing Pools and met Grafter, the dire troll. They refused to pay his toll (1 arm or 1 leg, freshly severed), and so the big fight began. Grafter pulled along several smaller trolls on long chains to assist him. These smaller, 'feeder' trolls were all missing 1 or more limbs (one troll had no legs, one had no arms, one had just one arm).

The PCs took a lot of damage from Grafter, but were able to drive him back ably enough. To their horror, however, when he took too much damage, Grafter pulled one of the smaller trolls to him and grossly absorbed the smaller troll fully into his body, healing him significantly and manifesting a new face poking out from his body. When Grafter had absorbed all 3 of the smaller trolls and was still taking massive damage, he tried to grapple Onarra, to no avail. (he would have partially integrated Onarra into his body to use her as a hostage).

After failing to grapple Onarra, Grafter fled the battle, scuttling back into his rocky hovel under the Fey Bridge, and slamming a heavy iron door shut behind him. Rather than follow the troll into his lair, the PCs pressed on into the Singing Pools.

Once beside the Pool, 3 beautiful maidens with rough voices rose out of the water to challenge the PCs. Bannock took the lead and made it clear that he was there to close the portal over the pool and would do so over the Mother's dead bodies if necessary. After a brief conference, the Mother's agreed to release their attunement to the Portal and not interfere with the PCs if they pledged not to interfere with the Mothers.

The PCs agreed, and Bannock attuned to and closed his portal. The Mother's retreated back into the caves behind the small waterfalls feeding the Singing Pool, cackling about something. Then the PCs were all violently thrown to the ground and briefly lost consciousness.

When they regained their senses, the PCs were still sitting next to the Singing Pools but they, and the Pools, were no longer in the Feywild. Closing the Portal undid the magical transportation effected when the Well of the Worlds was damaged/destroyed/drained into the Book of Infinite Souls.
Another daring escape for the intrepid Spaceman Spiff!

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