5 Sydenstar (Whelsen/Tuesday) 845 PD
Stubby and the Luxon
And Stubby is drawn into the Luxon. She sees Rinn, or at least a version of Rinn, dressed up in fancy sorcerer’s robes, hair done stylishly, grinning. Then another version or Rinn, looking even scruffier and dirtier, much more a street rat than a thief. But then the two merge, becoming the version she knows.
Stubby sees Fisch. First as a ‘normal’, happy bear. Then a harder version, wearing mismatched armor and fighting against some humanoid figure- and then the two versions merge into the Fisch of this world and time.
And then Tāmarai. The younger, cuter version of Tāmarai she knew before. Then a version much like the second version of Rinn, a tough, scrawny little street urchin, her hair a mess, bitten nails, scrapes and bruises visible, in rags and mismatched clothing. Then a third Tāmarai, looking much like she looks now, casting powerful magic, and the three of them merge together. Like Gleason, (Raven Queen priest, Session 14), there’s a brief moment where the figures fuzz, but then they merge together…
Stubby’s mind and vision open up, and she sees herself dying at the hands of Emror (Chapter 1), claws ripping through her gut. Tāmarai, looking like how she looks now, screams and flings a bolt of magic at Emror, hitting his staff and shattering it into green energy. Stubby knows how close this all nearly came to happen in her own history, and now, she watches herself die-
And hears a scream, a scream she knows but has never heard before. Her own mother screaming “No!”, and then Keyleth screaming back “Stop!”. Stubby sees Vex, wearing Percy’s cloak Cabal’s Ruin, wielding her bow Fenthras, one of her own eyes and hands removed and replaced with Vecna’s. Beneath her lie the remains of hundreds, thousands, of dragons and dragonborn. Gathered in that carnage are the bodies of Grog and Scanlan. Stubby sees Kaylie (Scanlan’s daughter) and Pike there as well. Pike’s hand is outstretched, healing Kaylie. Keyleth is begging Vex to stop, please don’t make her do this- but yet she does. She casts a spell on Vex, throwing her backwards. The bow Fenthras drops from her hands and the cloak falls from her shoulders. Pike steps forwards and cuts Vecna’s hand off of Vex, but then she and Keyleth are there holding Vex’s remaining (own) hand, as she cries and apologizes. “I could see no other…”
This possibility drifts back, and there are so many other paths, so many other options-
And given to Stubby is one mote of possibility from all these potential choices.
Back to Reality
Meanwhile, Rinn and Tāmarai have noticed that Stubby’s attention has been drawn in by the Luxon. They both freak out, Tāmarai grabbing Stubby’s hands, and Rinn grabbing hold of the Luxon to pull it away. In doing so, he touches the stone itself and not the handles, causing a slight Wild Magic surge that thankfully does nothing but turn him invisible for a moment- which he hardly notices. Stubby comes out of her daze just in time to be conscious of a purposeful shock from Rinn (hoping to wake her up), and immediately grabs her notebook and begins writing things down. She seems back to normal enough for the other two.
Fisch comes over to poke at the invisible Rinn, and then they all hear laughter coming from over by the Birth Heart. Charlie’s attempt at the spell did not go well, and a wild magic surge hit him as well, turning the moose-druid into a giant rabbit. It is temporary, thankfully!, but it does mean that they won’t be going down to New Vasselheim today.
The group settles in for the rest of the day. (Rinn updates his notebook with what they encountered under the Bastion- the mimics and violet fungi.) Dinner is soon served by a… fox, coming out from the Gardener’s house, walking upright and carrying a tray. He thinks that the food is cooked right. It’s a duck, and the group are quickly assured that it didn’t talk.
Fisch and the fox (called ‘Clever’) and one of the mooses have a conversation about human (humanoid) food, what is supposed to be cooked, why some uncooked things are bad for them, and so on. All in Primordial, so Rinn is listening in on it with some amusement. When they start talking about spices, he pulls out some cinnamon candies from a pocket. All three of the Awakened Animals give one a try, and they come to a decision that humans are crazy for liking such things. Rinn shrugs, and eats one of the candies.
Later that evening, Tāmarai does one of her new spells, and sends a message to the Xhorasian Ambassador:
“Is the Embassy safe? Can you keep the relic? How is the revolution? Can you meet at baby birthheart in morning?” (There is a young tree started from a cutting from The Birth Heart Tree, planted in the green in New Vasselheim. The moose druid knows this spot, and this is the target for his Transport Via Plants spell.)
Tāmarai waits for a reply… and waits. And waits. She nearly thinks that maybe she didn’t do this spell correctly, but then gets an answer: “I’m thankful you survived. The revolution begins at dawn. Beware the water a creature looms in the deep. We will meet you if we can.”
Taking heart from this, Tāmarai casts this spell again, sending it to Keyleth: “The magic should work now to transport, revolution begins at dawn. Stubby is fine so far. Stay out of Issyrian Ocean.”
Much sooner than before, she receives a reply from the Vox Machina Druid: “I will tell the others, transporting to Vasselheim has not yet worked. I will try again. The water fight is new information. Please don’t die.”
Tāmarai tells this information to Stubby and Rinn, then works one last spell for the evening, casting a magical aura to hide the magic of the Luxon itself, to help hide it from Detect Magic and other spells.
Their sleep that night is restful. No odd dreams- well, normal odd dreams of random things.
They are woken up to the sound of some of the Awakened animals arguing about cooking and how to make coffee. Rinn goes to help explain things, though still half asleep. They get a quick breakfast (not cooked too badly, better than what Rinn does!), and get dressed- barely in time to hear a shouting from outside by the BirthHeart. Charlie has the spell up, but please hurry!
They run out. Stubby has seen versions of this spell before. This time, it doesn’t look good. The ‘lines’ of it are wobbly, not stable. The four of them rush through, (Rinn pulling on his gloves), and are almost followed by one of the moose fighters, but the ‘gate’ slams shut before the big fellow can follow through.
Back to New Vasselheim
The four of them- Tāmarai, Stubby, Rinn and Fisch, run out onto the Green in New Vasselheim. There’s screaming and shouting, and overhead they see a rock fly through the air aimed at the castle. It’s all out war, though the area directly in the Green seems safe. It’s ringed by various magic users, holding a shield up and over it. There are groups of wounded being tended to- one group being tended by a bear, Fisch’s sister! The Town Crier is also in the Green, making sure everyone is updated with the latest:
“Hear ye, hear ye! The Empress’ forces have been repelled to the castle itself. All evacuees from Embassy Row can seek refuge at the Green or with the Platinum Dragon. The Cobalt Soul has taken possession of the magic school, the Slayer’s Take has control of the armed forces. All people true to the citizens, report to your assigned stations. Injured can be brought to the Rat Dock side of the Green. Don’t mind the bears.”
A few blocks away is an open spot with the ‘memorial’ obelisk, which apparently the Empress had a hand in making. They see it shoot out beams of destructive magic, out to the ocean AND to spots in the city. From the Green, they can see the ocean. There’s blood in the water, and the small would-be navy does not seem to be doing well, but there is a tentacle floating (cut off) in the water. Tāmarai can at least identify it as NOT a kraken tentacle.
The Town Crier spots them. “Are you the adventurers who went to Old Vasselheim?” Tāmarai nods. They find out that their place on the Embassy Row was destroyed, as well as most of Embassy Row itself. They need to watch out for the Obelisk, though they can see that for themselves. The crier looks at Rinn, and tells him that Otel said to tell him to take the group through the sewers to the castle. And when they get to the castle, ‘look for the skinny git waving the big flag’.
That’s some good information, but they need more. They spot some of the Take people over in one direction, and start to head over-
Though Rinn takes a moment to tell the Town Crier one vital piece of information: That the Empress knew, to the day, and the hour when Vasselheim was going to blow up, and instead of warning people to flee, used it for her own purposes to gain power. The Town Crier takes this news seriously, and starts spreading it. Soon the whole city will know.
They continue over to where they see some people from the Take. Otel is there, and brightens up when he sees Rinn, grabbing him in a hug, (Tāmarai: “Just let it happen.”) saying he thought Rinn was dead. Well, he’s not, and they need to get something- the Luxon- somewhere safe. It seems like most of their options have been destroyed, (the Xhorasian Embassy, and places in the Temple District). Otel says it will probably be safer in their Bag of Holding, just do not let the Empress get ahold of it. Tāmarai hands to Otel her ‘If we die’ book she’s been keeping notes in. Fisch makes a comment, causing Rinn to speak up with one perfectly normal bit of Take business- Don’t hunt anything up near Old Vasselheim, and hands Otel his Take Notebook as well.
(Rinn had added a note to the last page in the notebook, not to Otel specifically, but just in general:
“If I die- and hopefully not from something stupid- If you are able, please bury my ashes next to my mother. Town a couple days south of Zadash on the Amber Road, Reminderville. Tell Otel his special job is needed in Zadash. -Rinn Shrike”)
Otel clarifies and expands on his information for Rinn. The tunnels under the city aren’t shifting around like they used to, so use the sewers to get to under the castle- some of the same paths Rinn used on a Take job a couple of weeks ago. (Finding a missing child.) Otel also mentions that the Take got one of it’s founding members back- the sphinx Osysa is now under the Take’s headquarters in New Vasselheim.
Stubby pulls out the sky-writing firework rocket she made, and they head off. One of the wizards on the perimeter lets them out, and Rinn heads to one of the entries to the underground tunnels. A couple other members of the Take spot them, and guard their backs. Fisch hands Rinn the crowbar to pull up the grate, and just steps back to watch. Rinn flips him off, and then fails horribly on getting the grate up. Fisch just reaches over and grabs it with one paw and pulls it up. Tāmarai spots Abe, their would-be assassin, up on a roof- leaving himself open in order to help provide a lookout, directing people and spotting trouble.
Before they slip down into the sewers, Stubby sets off the rocket. It blasts up, and explodes- putting the de Rolo family crest into the sky. The city quiets for a moment, then cheering begins. “They saved us once, now we fight with them!” “Learn from my mistakes!”
They slip down into the sewers, Rinn leading the way and trying to be sneaky about it. Except no such luck for that, as they run into castle guards. Quite a few of them. Instead of fighting, though- Rinn holds up his hands, tells them he has important, vital information for them. They call their captain over, and Rinn tells him the same information he told the Town crier earlier. The dice roll isn’t the best, but with Tāmarai’s help (advantage) and inspiration, and Rinn’s natural skill, a dirty 20 convinces the Captain that what he says is true: The Empress knew exactly when Vasselheim was going to blow up five years ago, did nothing to save people, and used it to rise to power. The guard Captain takes off his helmet, and pulls his badge off, and the other guards lower their weapons. They are now on the rebellion’s side, and head off to contact the other castle and city guards. They also give them a password, ‘Sylas’, to talk down any other guards they encounter. The four of them continue onwards!
They head to a grate that leads up to the castle courtyard. They can hear fighting and magical blasting, plus lots of shouting. Rinn and Fisch tease each other about opening up the grate, and Fisch finally does so and pokes his head out carefully. Yep, lots of fighting. Stubby activates Aegea, and they head out.
They see castle guards fighting a large number of Vons. (This family must be bigger than the few they’ve met before!) Up on a few objects is the ‘skinny git waving a flag’, Victor, screaming ‘Learn from my Mistakes!’. Below him is a horse-faced woman tossing fireballs and lightning bolts. She spots Stubby and waves.
Stubby uses Message to try to contact all the guards she can see, telling them to retreat with the code word. It works on some of them- others get shot/stabbed/zapped while they paused in the fighting. When the last ones run out or are dropped, they drop the portcullis across the entry to the courtyard, giving them some protection for the moment. Tāmarai does a group inspiration for the Vonns, singing a rebellion song that is soon picked up by others, and starts making its way through the city.
They run over to the group of Vonns, and Rinn finally recognizes the woman with Victor. She was working on the ship that he was on from Nicodranus to Vasselheim- this is Vanya. He starts swearing, and she immediately apologizes- in Zemnian- saying she needs to apologize even more. She does look contrite, and there is a rebellion going on, so he refrains from punching her even though that had been his plan for when he first met this ‘Vanya’.
Vanya quickly tells them that the Empress is trying to recreate the set up she had going on in Old Vasselheim, with the four elements feeding magical energy into a form she can use. She has four crystals, with five circles of magic. It’s not as powerful, and should go down if they can break the four crystals being used to gather the elemental energy. The Empress is already weakened from what they did in Old Vasselheim. Now they can finish her. She and the others (Vonns, the whole city!) will guard their backs, just go and stop her.
The energy the Empress is gathering is being used to fuel the Obelisk, and they can see it still shooting, but it does look weaker. However, a battering ram is being brought up to the gate, and things are about to begin again.
What the Empress Has Created
The four of them run into the castle. There are bodies on the floor every so often, and they even surprise a guard looting one of them, but he runs off. In the foyer they see something they did not see before, on their long ago visit to the castle- four pillars, surrounding a fifth one with a glowing white gemstone on the top. The other four pillars are channeling energy to that crystal, and Tāmarai and Stubby can see traces of magic leading to them. Fisch sniffs, telling them what the energies smell like, and they go for the green/earth one first.
They follow the trail of energy down a short hallway and into a room. It’s filled with green plants, and a large gemstone sitting on the ground in the middle of it. They sneak over, then figure they can just smash it. (Rinn recommends using a crowbar rather than a glaive- no sharp edge to dull!) Fisch smashes the gem, it shatters, and there’s a large Assassin Vine in its place that immediately grapples Fisch.
Rinn, Tam, Stubby, Fisch, Vine.
Rinn darts over, hitting it with Shocking Grasp and then also slashes it with a dagger, trying to be careful not to hit Fisch, and then keeps close (flanking). Tāmarai blasts it with Sacred Flame, but the vine manages to shrug it off. Stubby sics Sentri to attack the vine with a Sonic Caw, and slashes at it with her Raven Feather Dagger. Fisch breaks free and attacks, dropping the crowbar and pulling out his glaive. (No need to worry about the edge here!) The Vine then goes after EVERYONE. Tāmarai gets restrained on this first lash out, the others manage to avoid this widespread attack (though the ground is now difficult terrain). Then the Vine gets a more specific attack, and goes after Rinn, hitting him and wrapping him up. Restrained!
Rinn tries to break free and fails, and gets dosed with the vine’s poison as well. Tāmarai does manage to break free (avoiding the poison), and moves back out of range. Stubby directs the robit Aegea to boost everyone up, and also sends Sentri in for a Sonic Caw again as well, but it’s hard to hit a moving, thrashing vine. Stubby does get her own attack in with the dagger. Fisch goes in for an attack as well, hitting it twice, and the vine is looking poorly. Poorly enough that it lets Rinn go, who stumbles back (hopefully) out of range. The Vine lashes at Stubby, but the attack goes wide and misses.
Still affected by the poison, Rinn tries to hit the Vine with a Witch Bolt. A critical failure (nat 1) means he misses, blasting a nearby tree. And thanks to the effects around Vasselheim, there’s a wild magic backlash. All of a sudden he can hear Fisch’s thoughts for a moment, though it’s nothing more than a ‘That was close’. Tāmarai gets in a hit with her crossbow, and the Vine is starting to look pretty rough. Stubby rallies up her robit team, Aegea boosting everyone with more shielding (hit points), and Sentri going in for a Sonic Caw attack. Fisch goes in for an attack, and falls thanks to the Difficult Terrain, but gets back up again and apparently has had enough with this mobile piece of greenery and kills it with his next hit.
They still have three more elements/rooms to go. The four of them start heading out, and Stubby notices Rinn is not looking too well. He would deny it, but she shoves him down and pulls out her alchemy kit. A couple of moments later she has an anti-poison mixed up for him, and she purposely made it taste awful. Rinn knows it too, but still downs the medicine.
On to the next room this side of the foyer. They open the door the trace of elemental magic is coming from, to see a room full of snow, ice, and freezing cold. (More Difficult Terrain.) The group comes up with a plan this time. The stone in the previous room was very easy to smash. One of them can shoot or zap it from a distance, then they shut the door and block it. Fisch goes to get a tree trunk from the other room, and when he’s ready with it, Stubby shoots the blue gem they see in the room. It shatters, they quickly step out, and Fisch blocks the door-
Only for them to see a giant Winter Wolf behind them in the hallway, already waiting.
Rinn isn’t taken by surprise. (He’s a sus, twitchy sort.) He tosses two daggers at the wolf, one with Booming Blade. That one misses, but the other one doesn’t.
Tam, Rinn, Fisch, Wolf, Stubby
Tāmarai tries to hit the wolf with Sacred Flame, but the wolf dodges it. Rinn, not wanting to throw any more daggers, hits it with a 2nd level Witch Bolt, for some good damage. (And begins floating up in the air, thanks to Tempestuous Magic.) Fisch charges! And hits, which ticks the Wolf off enough that it attacks Fisch right back. Stubby runs in to flank the wolf, and slashes at it with her dagger, cutting into it with the Raven Feather Blade. Sentri flies in for a Sonic Caw, but the wolf is too twitchy for that.
Tāmarai does manage to get a hit in with her Sacred Flame! Rinn keeps up the Witch Bolt, dealing even more damage, and tosses a dagger at the wolf- which finishes it off!
No time for celebrations. They have two more rooms to go, and by now the Empress probably knows that something is up. They go back to the Foyer, and follow the other two elemental magical trails down the opposite hallway.
First to a room that smells ‘hot’. (The other one is dark, totally dark, so they decide to leave that for last.) That room is stone, with some pillars, and a pool of lava with the gem on a stone island in the middle of it. They decide on similar tactics as before, just now they know that whatever monster is guarding the stone may not show up exactly where the stone is. They get close enough into the room that the gem is in range, and Tāmarai casts Sacred Flame. The gemstone is blasted and shatters-
And a flaming, black horse appears. A nightmare. They turn and run for the door. Rinn hears it disappear from behind them, only for it to reappear right in front of them, blocking the exit.
Rinn, Fisch, Stubby, Tam, Nightmare
Rinn is determined that just once his Booming Blade and regular thrown dagger combo will work, but apparently right now isn’t the time. Both blades miss. Fisch attacks, gets in a good hit! Stubby runs over, flanking the nightmare for Fisch, and triggers a Thunderwave with her gauntlet, hoping to shove the Nightmare out the door. The effect hits, but doesn’t push it. Sentri does get in a Sonic Caw, however. Tāmarai blasts with Sacred Flame, hitting the horse. The nightmare, now ticked off, attacks Fisch, hitting him badly.
Rinn steps in to slash at it with his daggers, misses with the Booming Blade again, but hits it with the other for a good strike. Fisch then winds up- and nearly cuts the nightmare in two, killing it.
One more room to go, and it’s a mystery. The room is pitch black. The gnome and two half-elves with darkvision can’t see anything, which is unusual. Rinn casts Light on a copper coin, and tosses it in. The Light disappears as soon as it crosses through the doorway. They light a torch, and toss it in. Same, but they can hear (and smell) something burning. Tāmarai gets them to tie a rope around her, they hold on to it, and she goes in. She can hear where the fire is, and uses Prestidigitation to put it out. The smell to the room is oily, all over, even on the floor. She uses Prestidigitation again to ‘clean’ the floor around her, but it does nothing to affect the darkness. From various echos (Tāmarai sings!), she can figure the room is about the same size as the others. She could do Dispel Magic, but that may take power (a spell slot) she will need later-
But she remembers the ring that Raelle gave her! It holds the power of a spell, so Tāmarai does Dispel Magic and the darkness is gone! The room seems covered in pitch and tar, with some of it burnt where the torch had been. She can see the stone, and blasts it with Sacred Flame. It breaks, and-
But they can hear a rumble, and Tāmarai runs back to the others.
They rush back to the main room. The pillars are there, and the white gem on the center one is cracked. And the room is no longer empty. There are three guards there (with vacant, mind-controlled looks), a Displacer Beast, and a half-elven woman with a circlet on her head.
The Empress smiles, eyes on Stubby.