Written and DMed by Will. An adventure set in East Rift. Rewards included 3760 xp and treasure similar to a MYRE adventure.
Edit: Moved to after Dragon Coast mini-arc to reflect party timeline.
The Trap Finders stood in front of Sir Manfred, arms crossed over their chests, eyes narrowed while the charlatan explained (rapidly) that they weren’t entitled to hazard pay “because, after all, were you in any real danger? And besides…. you undertook this as volunteers…”
Nick leaned forward, a slick smile gracing his face. “Truly, but you must understand, the expenses…. it would be a shame if we’d had to use shoddy equipment, fraying ropes, when tying up Spike and her pup?” He gestured to the two creatures they’d returned with. “Spike” the demon-in-dog-shape, and Spike’s offspring.
They’d captured the demonic dogs after the larger one, Spike, had broken free with his handler Toby, and had escaped Sir Manfred’s side show. Adolescent Toby was a skilled handler, but far out of his element when he came under Spike’s dubious influence. The Trap Finders had found the boy and his “dog” on the opposite side of a bridge and had fought the dog and its pups.
Lyr pursed her lips, looking at the two dogs. She wasn’t entirely comfortable with putting them back in Sir Manfred’s menagerie. The side show was dubiously secured, but her skin crawled at the mere thought of putting an intelligent being in a cage. On the other hand, Spike was highly likely to escape again soon anyway.
She approached the cage and leaned in, whispering “next time, just escape quickly, please. And leave Toby out of it, okay?” The creature narrowed its eyes at her, growled slightly, and she shrugged. “Just wait till Manfred’s stupid menagerie is in some wide open space and then go.” She met its eyes. “Please.”
Elisanada leaned over Lyr’s shoulder. “Ah, Lyr? Are we done here?”
Lyr glanced up. “Oh, yes. Toby got his job back? Good— let’s go, then.”
The party headed back out onto the road, and were no more than half an hour out before Lyr held her hand up and said “wait!” She closed her eyes, a slow smile creeping over her face. Then she started mouthing some words silently. Nick watched her carefully, reading her lips.
“We have to go back to Eartheart,” she said when she was done. A moment later, her eyes unfocused again. “No, wait— back to the road. Master Ironshield’s on the road. Someone stole some kind of platinum disk from the dwarves. It’s important and we need to get it back.”
As they headed back towards the road, Lyr pulled Elisanada and Paithen aside, murmuring “Divon says it was an elf who did the stealing.” They both nodded at her, understanding. They’d all faced evil fey before, but it was always hard when one of your own kind showed that kind of malice.
They arrived on the road just moments after Ironshield and his mount had been slain, arrows perforating both of their bodies. As Lyr and Aulder rushed forward to check the fallen dwarf, Bodin, Paithen, Nick, and Elisanada took up defensive positions on the road. Just then, two massive beasts lurched out of the wilderness before them, lighting crackling from shard crystals that orbited one large mound-like creature. The battle was engaged!
Lyr suffused her weapon with holy power, striking the inside of the shambling mound— again. The crackling energy from her weapon briefly illuminated the vegetative digestive mass, and she pushed more energy into it, dazing the monster. She slipped out of the mound, falling to her hands and knees on the ground beside it… again.
From the other side of the monster, Bodin screamed his rage, calling its attention towards himself— “Dinna touch her again, beast, or ye’ll regret it!” The monster shifted towards him, focusing its attack on the dwarf, who had turned into a dervish of flashing steel and death.
Lyr crawled away, collapsing on the ground, but with enough anger left in her to hold one hand up and attempt to bring Moradin’s wrath down on the mound. The bolt missed, but she was alive and outside of the monster’s range.
She stayed there for a long time, waiting for her healing reserves to return so she could help herself and her allies. The ringing in her ears had dissipated, but the battlefield still seemed too quiet. After several minutes, she saw Bodin standing above her. He was saying something to her, but she couldn’t understand him. Everything hurt so much— at least it wasn’t fire. No, it hadn’t been fire— that’s how she’d known she would survive.
She pulled on the healing weave, wrapping it around herself like a cloak, bringing enough healing into her body to push out to her friends…. but there were only four essences in the weave around her, including her own.
“Elisanada,” she gasped, struggling to her feet. Bodin put a hand out to her to help her, but she pushed past him, past the monsters, to where Nick and Aulder were laying Elisanada’s body down beside that of Master Ironshield.
Lyr stood, staring for a long, awful moment, her eyes locked on the sight of her best friend laid out beside a dwarf. She took two steps forward, then paused. She looked back at Bodin, and saw her heartache echoed in his eyes.
Then, she set her jaw firmly, took a deep breath, and said “I need half an hour to prepare them for travel,” she pointed to Elisanada and Ironshield. “Heal up, search his gear, get Elisanada’s equipment together. Do whatever you need to do. Be ready to go when I’m done.” She stepped over to Elisanada and Ironshield and began pulling salves and unguents from her bag, beginning the rituals to preserve their bodies for the trip.
In the hours of false dawn, the party arrived back in town. Lyr went into the temple to exchange a donation for the components needed to restore life to the dead. She spoke a few words with Aulder about what to do with the other dwarf’s body, and then headed back to the road leading out of town. Bodin trailed behind her, a worried frown on his face.
Lyr walked off into a wooded copse of trees near the town, the floating disc with Elisanada’s body floating behind her. When she reached the clearing in the midst of the trees, she stopped and turned around, finally addressing him.
“Okay, I’ll do it here. It should take about eight hours—”
Bodin nodded and pointed to a tree stump within visual distance. “I’ll wait right up there.”
“No. I… I can’t have you here for this.”
“I’m not leaving ye,” he insisted.
Lyr smiled and closed the distance between them, taking his gauntleted hands in hers. “I know. And you’re not. I’m safe here— look around. I’m less than half a mile to town— you could practically hear me scream—”
“And be too late to help. I’m staying.”
Lyr smiled, but it was forced. “I can’t start the ritual with you here, Bodin. I can’t do it. It’s….” she sighed. “These things, they’re private. You don’t know what will happen—”
“Aye— which is why I’m staying.”
“No.” She looked over at Elisanada’s body. “Right now, you and I know her for the cool archer who doesn’t show how she feels, but we don’t know who she’ll be when she returns from this. When she comes back, it’s going to hurt. If I’m lucky and everything goes well, it won’t hurt for very long, and she’ll still be unconscious for it. But… she’ll have been dead… they—” Lyr swallowed, hard, now babbling to keep the tears from flowing from her eyes.
“Sometimes, the dead see things, or remember things, and they don’t know how to make sense of it. I may be recalling her from Avandor. I might be bringing her back from hell. She might be grateful to me, or she could be furious. I don’t know what will happen.” Lyr dropped his hands, and shook her head. “There’s a trust that will be between us, that I will not speak of what she says or does. I absolutely will not betray that trust in advance by having you here to witness it. The only reason I’m not doing this inside the temple, where there are infirmary doors that can be closed and locked is because I think waking up underground really would be hell for her.”
Bodin nodded grudgingly. “Aye…. All right.” He shifted slightly. “How close can I wait?”
Lyr chuckled and wrapped her arms around him, inhaling deep. “I promise, I will be fine. Please wait at the inn for us. I’ll be tired and want something to eat and drink when I’m done.”
“You’re tired now. You don’t want to wait until you’ve rested?”
Lyr shook her head. “No— I need to do this as soon as possible. And I need you and Aulder to find out what Ironshield’s family wants done. I’ll raise him, too, if they wish, but not until tomorrow.” She sighed. “They can keep his body in the temple till then.”
“Thank you, Bodin,” she said, then kissed him, at first on the cheek, nervously, like she still wasn’t sure he would welcome a more direct display. But he turned his head and she sighed even as their lips met.
While he walked away, she called wistfully, “I’ll be wanting more than food and ale when I get back, aye?”
“Aye,” he answered without looking back.
Hours later, Lyr and Elisanada entered the inn. Elisanada looked completely whole and healthy— not even a scratch on her, and there was a certain look to her that her friends hadn’t seen before. Elisanada nodded towards the party, seated at a table in the common room, but she didn’t join them. Instead, she exchanged a few words with Lyr, then went up the stairs.
Lyr headed over to the table and sat heavily on the bench next to Bodin. Wordlessly, she took the mug sitting in front of him and drank deep from it before handing it back to him. Bodin smirked and pushed the mug towards her. “Finish it off, then to bed with ye, lass,” he muttered. “We have ought to discuss. We found a book among Ironshield’s things—”
“A book I’d like to discuss,” a familiar elven voice said from behind Lyr. Lyr turned and watched as an elven woman pulled up a chair and seated herself at the head of their table. Nick made the introductions around, while Lyr tried to catch up.
Lyr’s vision blurred— again— but she forced herself to focus on the elf’s words. Something about a journal— “What book?” she kept insisting, long after Bodin had explained it. Lyr held the mug of ale, but didn’t bother drinking from it. The common room was bustling with travelers stopping for a noon-time meal. Every few minutes, Bodin kept insisting that Lyr should go to her rest.
“No— I—” She sighed. “What was this about a book?” The other elf kept looking at her as if she were speaking Abyssal, but Lyr’s confusion was only half feigned.
Exasperated, Bodin leaned close to Lyr and whispered something in her ear. She blushed bright pink and turned to him immediately. “All right,” she said, a half smile on her lips. She glanced back at Aulder, the elf, and Nick only once as Bodin led her up the steps, a slight frown crossing her face briefly.
Alone with the elven woman, Aulder and Nick continued to mine her for information. Suddenly, Nick smiled diplomatically and said “well, of course we’ll help you— I will help you, at any rate.”
Aulder gave Nick a cross look, but continued to press the elf for information. She touched his hand gently, saying “really, you must help me,” but Aulder wasn’t fooled. He yanked back his hand and bolted from the bench, knocking it over, and blasted out with a dazzling burst of light (which, sadly, obliterated an innocently bystanding chair but did nothing to the elf). In the face of his fury, the elf backed down, revealing that she’d tried to charm him into helping her, and that she had been the one behind the attacks on them.
On Bodin’s return, the elf continued her confession, explaining that her lover had been sealed away by a secret society of elves dedicated to binding demons, and that she herself is the last of this society. The seal has been crumbling for decades, though, and she needed the final platinum disc and a book of instructions carried by Ironshield in order to finish opening it and to re-seal it. “Either way, the seal will eventually open. I’m the only one left who can close it.”
She left the platinum disc for them, indicating she would return in several hours, after their whole party was ready.
It is evening, after dark, when Lyr finally woke from her exhausted sleep. She was quickly briefed on the situation, and asked “so what are we waiting for?” After the elf arrived, however, Lyr glanced over at Bodin and asked “did anyone ask why her sister attacked us?” The story came out, and both Lyr and Elisanada were furious that this elf was manipulating them into helping her, after killing both Master Ironshield and Elisanada.
They finally negotiated a bargain between Elisanada and the elf— Elisanada reserved the right to collect a wergild covering her resurrection costs, or the right to slay the elf in front of her beloved. Oddly, the elf accepted that bargain— clearly, she either had nothing left to lose, or she had another dirty trick up her sleeve.
At the seal’s location, Lyr pulled out a torch to see a seemingly bottomless pit. Lyr tied the torch to a rope and tossed it down, pulling it back up after it hit a slide after 40 feet. Nick, Aulder, and the elf started to climb down, but Bodin laughingly pushed Lyr in and jumped after. Elisanada shrugged and slid down after them, all three falling prone on the ground. Around them, swarms of undead rats began to move forward. From the ground, Lyr threw a burst attack at them even as Aulder, the elf, and Nick finished climbing down. From behind the swarms, the party could see two carrion crawlers slithering towards them.
“I can’t do anything!” Lyr shouted, frustrated by the swarms of rats clawing and biting at her.
“Well, I can!” Confidently, Aulder stepped up and held the golden disc of the sun god up. “Get back, you horrors!” he shouted, and the swarms recoiled from the force of holy fire that burst from him in a wave.
Lyr grinned back at him and called “nice work!” just as Nick leaned forward, gauging the size and formation of the rats, now clumped together in one gigantic swarm.
“Ah, let me take care of that for you,” he muttered, hoisting his staff in two hands and aiming toward the swarm. A combination of fire and holy retribution rained down on the creatures, obliterating most and sending the rest scurrying off, little bodies singed and squealing.
Meanwhile, the carrion crawlers struck out with their tentacles, lashing everyone in the party and effectively immobilizing first Lyr with a sickening effect that could lead to total petrification. The party fought valiantly, though, and eventually slew one crawler and forced the other one to retreat under Elisanada’s hail of arrows.
In the room, they found a series of five platinum discs in a circle, with space for a sixth. The elf placed the last platinum disc on the space and read the book for instructions on performing the ritual. A bright light filled the space in the middle of the discs, and an enormous, hideous beast appeared. The elven woman stepped up to the beast, holding it back with gentle hands.
Elisanada raised her bow, and the elven woman looked over to her, resignation in her eyes. Elisanada pulled back her arrow, sighting along it.
Nearby, Lyr whispered “I understand, Elisanada. She’s a murderer. But either of us would have done the same.” She couldn’t tell if her friend even heard her, though, and Elisanada gave no indication if her hesitation was deliberate or not.
As they watched, the elf and her demon faded into transparency, then were gone altogether.
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