Sol'sora

19. We're Getting Aesoped

After the most uneventful night of watches we’ve ever had, it’s time to set off for the trial. Kean wakes everyone up at 4am, because as some of the party knows, the mountains tend to have big murderous storms that happen in the afternoon, so the sooner we get to where we’re going, the better. (Also, the mountain range is home to what is essentially a fight club between fiends and celestials. So there’s that.)

Kean activates the teleporting gazebo, and it Apparates us to the mountains! Specifically, we land five feet away from a cliffside, and it’s a bumpy landing. No safety inspector has ever cast an eye over this teleporting gazebo, and in the absence of seatbelts, Yannic is flung out of the gazebo and over the cliff. We get him back up with the aid of the Friendship Rope, and Kean (looking discomfited) leads the way.

The way is made up of well-constructed bridges and a clear path, manmade and not natural. Eventually we come to a fork in the road and Kean leads us into the valley area.

Finally, about six hours after we landed, we come to a round, tall building with a tiny settlement around it. This is the Ascendancy Point for the God of Knowledge. Seru tries to hand Tana’s reins over to Yannic, but Yannic has decided to go in to keep Kean from dying as much as possible. Displeased, Seru passes Tana over to Fen. Fen spends the rest of the day trying to make friends with the townspeople, and taking their money via animal races with Tana.

Inside the buliding is a huge library, with a single person’s name on each book’s spine, roughly chronologically. Kean darts off and pulls a book of the shelf and settles in to read the. entire. thing. while the rest of the party waits. The party’s own books are on a circular table around a statue of a cloaked woman (the Lady of Learning). Seru’s has a name on it that is not the one she goes by now, and one book is labeled “Keanvari’s Left Ring Toe.” There is no Fen book, and whenever anyone opens their book, they discover a narration of that exact moment.

Kean, after finishing the book he started, starts reading the Left Ring Tome. Ondelin does a lot of pacing (as does Seru), and they ask a priest for instructions. They learn that the trials are in the basement, and are designed to teach a lesson. You have to accept and recite the Lady of Learning’s lesson, or she won’t answer your question.

Finally, Kean finishes reading and takes the Left Ring Tome into the trial with them. He pulls Yannic aside and tells him that if he dies, Yannic is to read it, and also the book labeled “Andra Keyberry.” A half-Orc named Tiller gives them five days’ worth of provisions and they go down.

The first room they enter turns out to be Betha’s. It’s completely bare, and the door disappears once they close it behind them, and also her Wild Magic has gone out of control. Out of her control, anyway, as it seems to be directed by Sivoreen, who claims she was brought there by the Lady of Learning to help Betha’s lesson.

This backfires slightly, as one of Betha’s Wild Magic bursts winds up blinding Sivoreen temporarily, and Sivoreen gets MAD. She starts hurling abuse at Betha, saying it was fun when she killed her, and she doesn’t know for sure if Betha was worth all the trouble. She tries to attack Betha but Kean manages to freeze her in place.

Everyone sits down and Betha tells everyone about how she got her magic when Sivoreen accidentally killed her while playing tag, and then tried to bring her back and make her fey (it didn’t work so well). She stands up to Sivoreen once Kean’s spell wears off, and Sivoreen freezes, and the door reappears.
Betha can see a lovely study inside, with a cloaked figure at the desk (everyone else just sees pitch darkness). She asks her question, and the Lady says that the people responsible don’t seek to destroy, but to conquer and control – they cannot control a population that is entirely dead, after all. However, they do expect pandemonium on the plane, and a huge battle when they finally find Gorloris. She offers the party the use of the room to recuperate, and then disappears, letting the rest of the party see the study now.

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18. Nerd Out In The Wheat Field

The bedraggled forest crew makes it back to the gazebo! Yannic and Kean also make it back to the gazebo, and promptly nap. Kaiva wakes Seru up, but can’t get her out from under the bench, because the world is a terrifying place for a few more hours.

Sweet sweet Remi tries to strike up conversation with Ondelin, and gets no reply. Remi accepts this and goes back into the gazebo, where they all wait until 2pm and the charm is lifted! Everyone is suddenly able to think about things other than personal safety (although Seru is a bit twitchy for a few more hours).

It is discovered that the gazebo is a map of the world, and one can use the gazebo to teleport anywhere in said world (although you can’t be sure of a clean landing; sorry, Former Owner Of Fen’s Sick New Red Boots).

Remi, by this point, is concerned about his golden boyfriend, and makes his way up to the roof of the gazebo, to find Ondelin unconscious in a pool of his own blood. Remi wakes him, but he’s mostly catatonic, and also his skin is a little dull? Seru uses her Divine Sense and only gets one Celestial ping, from the figure asleep on the bench. Uh-oh. Eventually, with the aid of the group’s trusty Friendship Rope, Ondelin gets lowered down to the ground and healed up a bit, and then it’s time for Kean to Shell Out Some Answers.

Gathering is split into sectors as a result of its security measures, all of which are under timestops. Some are safe, some are not. It’s a mess. There are only two ways he can think of to figure out how to undo it: 1. Find Gorloris; 2. Consult the God of Knowledge.

The God of Knowledge has his oracle set up in Regartipal, or the Pale Mountains, which are either holy or cursed at any given time. This medium is not a happy one. If you make it through the trials, you get a full and complete answer to one question, but all Kean knows about the trial is that it has to do with your worst fear. This puts a damper on the party’s enthusiasm for this particular plan.

Nonetheless, they decide that it is probably the best plan they have, and set about deciding who will go in and what questions they will ask. Betha says her worst fear has to do with fire, Remi’s is a particular wizard, and all Kean will say about his chunk of the trial is that when they get there, they are to do EXACTLY what he says, when he says it.

What follows is, in our universe, at least an hour of careful formulation of the perfect questions to ask the God of Knowledge, because the DM still won’t let me live down the “What’s your next step?” incident. In-game, it takes several hours at least, up through 6pm/7pm. Betha starts making potions, and then steps into the wheat (effectively disappearing) to call Sivoreen. Kean and Yannic set a magical barrier around the gazebo and bond in a heartwarming, nerdy way. Everyone settles in for a long rest, planning to head out in the morning.

QUESTIONS:
1. What practical and immediate actions can Yannic, Seru, Remi, Fen, Kaiva, and Betha take that would ensure the maximum number of people who survived the explosions on the most recent Banfey continue to maintain their ‘alive’ status without losing their free will? – Seru

2. What is the most practical and safest method, for Yannic, Seru, Remi, Fen, Kaiva, and Betha, and for the survivors in Gathering, to release the time-stop mechanisms in Gathering? – Remi

3. What large-scale destructive events are expected, by the instigators of the planar event that began on the most recent Banfey, to occur as a result of said planar event before the next Bancel? – Betha

4. What is the specific process that led to the large-scale creation of the undead that appeared on the most recent Banfey? – Kaiva

Kean and Ondelin have their own questions. Yannic and Fen have no intentions of going in. TANA IS NOT GOING IN.

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17. Tree's Gonna Hit Ya

There is a gazebo-looking structure with a domed top in the distance. As several members of our party are utterly convinced that we must find safety this exact instant, we head for it. Halfway there, Betha goes stealth, because she is a tiny gnome in a field of grains taller than she is.

The gazebo is fairly standard as gazebos go, save for the intricate carvings along the columns, some of which are glowing. Seru and Yannic put their heads together and determine that these are magical glowing carvings, specifically full of teleportation magic to many different destinations; also, the carvings are a map.

Seru crawls under a bench, Tana by her side, and proceeds to reboot her hard drive. There’s been some software updates released in the past few days as well, so she spends the next handful of hours having a screaming breakdown, and then falls asleep.

Betha attempts to get onto the roof. Kaiva, being the tallest in our party, assists her, and Betha notices a small forest about 5 hours away. She flops down off the roof and stealths again, making for the forest. Because she is a tiny gnome in a field of grains taller than she is, no one notices for many hours. Specifically, Kaiva notices after a while, and somehow manages to corral Fen into helping her track said tiny gnome.

They find her after about four hours, but Betha is a very small gnome and manages to slip away into the forest, climbing a tree and settling in for the night. Fen and Kaiva track her into the forest and out of the forest and then back into the forest (a process which includes Fen yodeling and Kaiva yelling “YODEL” at the top of her lungs). They eventually find her, and settle in for the night, which passes uneventfully. Except for that Fen picks a fight with a treant and they all get thrown out of the forest. Whomp.

Rewind: Back at the gazebo, Ondelin is taking his turn on the roof, in a deep sulk because Celestials aren’t supposed to be able to be charmed. Whomp. Remi is as supportive a boyfriend as he can be from the ground, and also tries to comfort Seru, and then gives up and starts playing his flute lute. Yannic is going through his own software update process, but recovers enough to pull out his Magic Kean Note and scribble something down.

Off in the distance one direction he hears what sounds like a faint scream, possibly a half-Orc shouting “YODEL,” and off in the distance the other direction, he hears a figure fall out of the sky. Yannic sees a tiny tiny figure off in the distance. Remi decides to ignore the yodel.

At about 4:30am, the tiny figure who fell out of the sky reveals himself to be a normal-sized figure, Original Recipe Kean, and he and Yannic hug it out and go somewhere else for a private chat. The forest adventurers make it back to the gazebo by 9am, and lo, the party is unsplit.

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16. Practical Uses for Teleportation

You know that bit in Gladiator where Russell Crowe walks through the wheatfield, running his hand through it and looking Masculinely Contemplative? That’s where we start, only instead of Manful Crowe, we’re a bedraggled group of paranoid apocalypse survivors.

There’s an odd rustling in the wheat – is it the wind? Is it something more sinister? Spoiler alert: It’s sinister. Over the next few hours, a huge mass of birds gather together, of all types and sizes, the only commonality their black color palettes. As they approach, it becomes increasingly clear that they’re headed for Morthred specifically.

Yannic reveals a letter from Kean, in which Kean tells him that his mother is in a blue crystal in the keeping of a woman named Mercury, and also that they should ditch Morthred and book it. To everyone’s surprise, Morthred agrees. While everyone is debating the ethics and practicalities of this plan, Morthred wriggles off Kaiva’s back and starts walking towards the birds, who deposit a humanoid and then attack Morthred, hyenas and frogs spilling out of the wheat.

The humanoid looks familiar, almost as though Kean got a gift certificate to Sol’soran Hot Topic for his birthday and went all-out. As Seru cuts through the birds, a big flash of black and red light happens in the wheat, and out walks Andraki, also in her finest Goth Leather Armor.

Hot Topic Kean sends a fireball at Kaiva and Seru (the closest of us to him) and starts muttering a spell; Andraki, in a fit of luck, casts a Sleep spell that hits Yannic and also Tana (out of what looks like a Planar Blade hilt???? Hmmmm). Apparently she’s never seen a sleeping donkey before, because she wastes her next turn laughing about it.

Betha wakes the sleepers up, and Morthred, with one last exasperated look and shake of the head at the group that cut him out of a giant heart, Planar Shifts away.

Ethical quandary now disbanded, the group books it as fast as they can in the other direction. Hot Topic Kean teleports to Yannic and stares at him, and then casts Mass Suggestion, effecting everyone but Kaiva, Yannic, Fen, and Tana The Hero Donkey. Everyone else is struck with a compulsion to get somewhere safe and stay there. The goth duo then Planar Shift away, presumably to look for Morthred.

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15. CSI Sol'Sora

Imagine, if you will, a merry band of adventurers gathered around a piece of paper, desperately trying to recall everywhere they’ve been in their lives and realizing, with a slow, mounting horror, that they cannot remember. Imagine then a gentle wind whipping around their faces, a soft whisper of voice from an all-knowing DM in Colorado, and then they all relax and say, “Wait, hold on, I totally know the geography of this place I’ve lived my whole life.

Eventually they settle on a location provided by Remi, a town called Wheatfield on the same level as Gathering. He very does not want to go back, but is a good sport about it because there’s literally no other viable option. Fen wanders off outside and is promptly knocked unconscious by a rock sliding off the roof.

Most of the civilians bolted as soon as Andraki showed up and then teleported (#relatable); of the three remaining, two are in a state of catatonia, and the other is a very hardy-looking woman named Brinna, in town to have a look at the cows of Floy. She opts not to come with us, instead going to stock up on beef jerky. (Floy Jerky: The Best In The EmpireTM!)

We head outside to look for Fen and find her, unconscious, with no signs of struggle or any clues. Betha wakes her up and asks her what happened? Was she attacked?? Did she see anything???

“They came from behind me!” Fen says, going with it. “I didn’t see anything.” Betha, however, has a nose for deceit, and quickly finds the offending rock. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief (except Fen, who’s a little disappointed).

The party teleports to Wheatfield, which is full of wheat! The wheat is alive! And there’s a tower off in the distance, which from here on out slowly begins amassing a big cloud of green badness around the top. Remi is nervous, and everyone is very concerned about Remi’s nervousness. They head towards Gathering, which is still partly aflame to the west; chunks of it are slowly falling out of the sky.

They decide to walk to a monorail stop and teleport into Gathering from there, if all seems safe, and they head out. Seru mucks about with the Star Blade, and then they come across the cart of a deceased tailor. Morthred is delighted, and once he and Kaiva have pants on, so is everyone else.

A bit beyond the tailor’s cart is a townhouse, which appears at first glance to be abandoned but is, in fact, not abandoned. There’s a bird-man creation inside, which mimics Yannic’s words and then flees when Morthred tries to make friends. Poor Morthred. He’s dressed so nicely, too!

Inside, they find the B-plot of this murder mystery episode – two (uncharred) corpses laid out on the bed. Both are women, and they appear to have been strangled elsewhere and then brought to the bed. Everyone dons sunglasses and thinks very very hard, and then gives up; Betha burns the bodies, and they move out. Roll credits.

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14. The Great Sol'Soran Geography Quiz

When we last left our heroes, they were blinking awake after Remi woke them all up (with the exception of Morthred, who I imagine could sleep through anything after several hundred years in a reverse Tell-Tale Heart situation). There are two general reactions to the situation, one exemplified by Betha (who tries to get Fen to come back inside) and the other by Seru (who waves back at Andraki, because why the hell not).

Encouraged by this show of friendship, Andraki moves to enter the administrative building. In doing so, she sets off Yannic’s alarm spell. So once again our location is being loudly broadcast to whoever’s out there looking for us. Yannic tries to talk her down, and while he does, Kaiva moves over to her sleeping backpack and wakes him up.

Morthred is DELIGHTED to see his old friend Andy, and demands that Kaiva carry him closer to her. Kaiva (reluctantly) complies, and as soon as our dear Frog Lady catches sight of him, Andraki.exe stops running for a few moments.
She recovers herself when Kaiva puts him down and he starts walking towards her on his own two feet, enough to nope out of the reunion and teleport out of the whole damn building. Morthred is upset at this cold reaction, as they were once old war buddies! They were opponents after that, but still.

Also outside the building are several vaguely humanoid-looking shapes huddled around the teleport, as Seru and Morthred discover when they settle in for their watch. Seru invokes the Cheeky Campers Code and cashes in Kaiva’s favor with Morthred for a peek in at her home temple. It’s mostly standing! And mostly safe! Not entirely, and not everyone is still alive, but at this point Seru will take it.

Dawn arrives, the sun peeks over the horizon, and KAIVA CAN STILL HEAR BOB. Faintly, in a one-word-only type of way, but still. Our grumpy dragon is not lost forever. Kaiva asks if Bob can tell her anything about the new undead. Bob’s answer? “YES.” And then the connection fails.

The humanoids around the circle have reduced in number, but Ondelin points out that we may need to go that route anyway, as there is a SECOND massive cliff to traverse. “But wait!” several of the party object. “We tried teleporting a zombie to Gathering! It died instantly!”

“Giant. Cliff,” replied the rest of the party.

It is eventually decided, after much debate and back-and-forth, that the party’s best bet is to teleport not to Gathering itself, but to a city near Gathering, in the inner-most circle of the Gathering Hollow. Where to specifically, you ask? Good question.

What follows is an impromptu geography lesson, revealing that the adventurers know VERY LITTLE about the world in which they have been adventuring, but what they do have is a sneaking suspicion that this conversation is going to be retconned in a few minutes, as the players end the game there to do some frantic mapmaking and backstory-fleshing-out.

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13. "You don't need pants at the end of the world!"

(this one got long, guys, but in fairness to me, a lot of ridiculousness happened. the title was shouted by Fen in all seriousness at one stage, which should reinforce my point.)

So as not to leave you in suspense – curtains up on the frog and Fen having a staring contest, which Fen wins when the frog blinks, waves at Fen, and hops away. Fen, naturally, follows her, and they wink over into a different roll20 game for a private chat.

While this is happening, Betha, seeing Fen wander off and presumably being used to this, goes exploring herself (taking care not to set off any alarms this time), and finds a supply room to the east and a reception area to the north, with a biiiiig ornate door in the north room. It’s locked. Fen returns, neglecting to mention her conversation partner to the rest of the party.

Seru and Kaiva (and Kaiva’s backpack) go into the jail (to the west of the main room) and immediately find seven people trapped behind a magical barrier inside a big holding cell, with an eighth unconscious on the floor. They summon the rest of the party, and Morthred drops the barrier.

The people inside are totally not criminals, nuh-uh, they’re all 100% innocent and wrongfully imprisoned and should definitely be compensated for their troubles, and also the unconscious one put the barrier up and then immediately passed out. After a brief convo, the party decides to tell them the truth, let them out, and leave what they do next up to them. After all, the world’s just ended, and all the judges are dead now.

Yannic and Seru stay behind to do the talking, while the rest of the group splits up to find the key to the holding cell. Betha takes Fen to fight the ornate door in the north room. We’ll return to them in a moment, because at this point Kaiva (with Morthred backpack) is searching through the desk in the main room. She finds some fancy pens. She takes the fancy pens.

Or rather, she tries to, because as soon as she picks them up her bracers activate, she takes a bit of fire damage, and her pants immediately catch fire. While on her body.

Luckily, Sol’soran elementary schoolers are taught the basics of fire safety, and she manages to successfully stop, drop, and roll herself into a doused state (squashing Morthred, who thinks this is the funniest thing he’s ever seen). Morthred offers to take the bracers off her arms (literally), and then off her hands (figuratively). Kaiva accepts. At the end of the whole ordeal, Kaiva is down pants and some Bracers of Social Responsibility, and Morthred is up a pair of Bracers of Social Responsibility. But Kaiva’s got fancy pens!

In the north room, Fen is losing her first ever battle against a door, but eventually manages to bust a hole in it with a chair. Kaiva (pantsless) joins her to rip the rest of the door down, at which point at least twenty fresh corpses fall out. After about twenty minutes of the worst digging ever, Betha finds the key and we release the prisoners, feed them, and heal up the unconscious man.

His name is Fenrin, a Druid elf come to help with some sort of cow plague. He’s also shady as fuck and Ondelin doesn’t trust him. After some tense back-and-forth, Fenrin is escorted to the teleportation circle and sent home to Webdel. (We assume. We aimed him at Webdel, anyway.)

On the way back, Seru makes a bird friend! Upon getting to know her new friend, she learns that the bird has human eyes. Seru nopes out of this new acquaintanceship and goes back inside. Some more time passes, wherein Yannic amuses himself by messing with Ondelin’s sightlines, Seru cuddles with the only animal friend she needs, Fen tries to make friends with the lead prisoner, and Morthred sets his own pants on fire telling Kaiva that she’s made good choices that day.

It’s time for the nightly watch! Kaiva and Yannic go first; Yannic sees Seru’s new bird friend, but the night is otherwise uneventful. Betha and Ondelin go next; Betha tries to take a lap outside, but makes it to the corner of the building before she’s herded inside by a frog.

Remi and Fen go next, and wind up having a frog encounter of their own. Fen approaches the frog and invites Andraki out on a date to kill some zombie cows. Clearly intrigued by this offer, Andraki assumes her human form, the better to kill zombie cows with. Remi (I assume wanting to avoid another player/NPC romance to rival his own) wakes the rest of the party up.

You guys! We made it to the end of the day!!!!!

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12. (I Always Feel Like) Some Froggy's Watching Me

Curtain opens on a straggling group of heroes walking down a cliff face away from a zombie horde.

Off in the distance, Floy looks the same as it ever was, just with fewer people and more corpses (people and cows). Off in the farther distance to the northwest, the town of Webdel is encased in what looks like diluted Soul Fire. Off in the farthest distance, Gathering is still burning.

They hear a pained sound that might be moaning or might be mooing, and decide to investigate, in case it’s someone in pain or trouble. Spoiler alert: It’s a zombie cow. Morthred dispatches it without blinking an eye and then strikes a deal with Kaiva for some of her life force. So that’s a thing that happened.

Our adventurers, still sagging a little after the zombie throwdown, take a short rest in an abandoned house with a corpse outside, and Ondelin goes off to a secluded room to swoon over Remi in peace. And also find out some answers about the state of the world, whatever, but mostly the Remi thing.

While this is happening, Kaiva and Fen return to their old standby of drinking heavily, and Morthred and Yannic have a nice chat. Apparently Yannic’s magic is abnormal!

Ondelin emerges from his fainting couch to report that there are people alive in Gathering! Good people? Safe people? Bad people? Who knows! But people! With this news, they all make their way to the teleportation circle, the distant echoes of mooaning zombie cows in the background.

The teleportation circle is intact! And Yannic knows how to work it! But Gathering is still on fire, and we know not what people are there. So Morthred reanimates a corpse for a test run. Like you do. The zombie makes it to Gathering intact, and then dies almost immediately upon arrival. The group decides to walk instead (about a three-week journey).

At this point, Betha ‘goes to the bathroom’ and calls Severeen (sp?), who really desperately wants Betha to a) leave with her, or b) at least get the heck away Morthred. Betha says she’ll take that under advisement and Severeen tells her that Morgaine is living as a goo monster in the Feywild.

Betha returns from her bathroom adventure and the party goes looting! All the weapons have been taken from the general store. Also, there are a ton of people watching our party from the cliff by Upper Floy. Inhuman people, with odd heads. The party decides to dig in for the night and get some rest.

They first attempt to do this in a bank! However, the introduction of certain members of the party to a secure supply of money was perhaps a mistake, and the group soon flees the bank to the screeching of an alarm. They try again, this time in Floy’s administration building/prison.

The curtain closes on our ranger, taking one final look around outside, and finally noticing the frog that’s been hopping around after everyone for several hours now.

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11. Zombies Run

We pick up with our band of misfit toys as they embark on their road trip. The heat has died down in the Tower (although it’s still very, very toasty) as they make their way downstairs, Morthred piggybacking on Kaiva, Ondelin gazing lovingly at Remi.

They make their way north towards Upper Floy, finding many, many bodies along the way, all charred in places that would have been visible to the sun even before their clothes were burned off by whatever killed them. The foliage is all dead as well, but the buildings of Upper Floy appear to be untouched. (Upper Floy is also glowing green, like a radioactive city in a comic book.)

Their first stop is Bob’s old drinking hole, which appears to be completely deserted. Looks can be deceiving, however, and after knocking on some doors upstairs, Seru hears someone shouting from behind a locked door. She fails utterly to kick it in, but luckily someone even shorter than her is there to help, and Fen utterly destroys the door with one kick. The being inside is wrapped in every blanket they could get their hands on, and starts imploring everyone to leave, to run, to get the heck out of Dodge before it hurts them. Apparently the events of Banfey ‘changed’ them, and they’re now very, very hungry. The party takes this excellent advice, and books it out of the room, and out of the tavern to the sounds of some very angry screaming.

Next stop is the teleportation circle. It’s busted to hell, but there’s still a lot of water around; enough to power the elevator, except the waterwheel has gone still. Something’s blocking it. Spoiler alert: It’s a corpse.

Remi spots some steps a ways off to get them down the cliff in the absence of an elevator, and as they start to approach, they hear moaning coming from Upper Floy. They walk faster. Off in the distance, Seru notices that Gathering is still on fire.

They make it to the top of the stairs, and who do they find but a lovely welcoming party of two undead fellows, hereafter referred to as White Shirt and Green Shirt. Green Shirt came out to attack people and is honestly having such a good time right now, but White Shirt has terrifying and conscious eyes and is here specifically to tango with Seru. It shouts that it’s all her fault that everyone’s dead and proceeds to beat the everloving shit out of her. Neither zombie react in any way to damage, right up to the end.

Morthred starts the fight on the ground, but eventually clambers back up onto Kaiva’s back and the two of them execute the Piggyback of Doom maneuver, dealing some serious damage to Green Shirt and summoning a mystical suit of armor to get in on the fun. Ondelin flits around delivering some much-needed healing to various party members (including Betha, who missed the sweet embrace of unconsciousness so much she got herself knocked out again), and eventually deals the killing blow to Green Shirt! Remi, unfortunately, was on the other side of a building at that time, and missed the whole thing.

After that, the Piggyback of Doom shift over to White Shirt and Kaiva cuts its head off in one stroke. Kansas starts playing as the corpse turns into Dust in the Wind and floats away (Betha tries to set it on fire and burns herself). Seru takes a moment to commune with her deity and express her deep feelings of what the actual fuck was that, bro – it’s apparently new, and undead.

They hear more moaning coming from Upper Floy and decide that maybe hanging around isn’t the best idea, and the curtain falls on the adventurers making their way down the cliffside.

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10. What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate
AKA THE BIRTH OF ONDEMI

The first failure of communication happens when our intrepid party realizes that they can’t see or hear anyone. After a rousing game of Musical Roll20, the party switches to Skype and carry on.

So the substance in the middle of the room, the group soon discovers, is a giant organic heart with something in it that can throw a punch. Seru’s Divine Sense says that it’s a combination of every type of energy she can access (including undead! Fun). Kaiva gets too close and gets punched in the face by whatever is in there.

They disband briefly and inspect the doors. The white one is described as soothing, being like a misty waterfall. The blue/yellow one (identified by Ondelin as celestial in origin) is extra shiny and shimmery, warm but in an unsettling way. The green and orange door is fizzling and rippling, like something is completely contained but nonetheless trying to get out.

Remi, the true MVP of the night, gives way to his nervous tic and starts playing music, which soothes the savage beast in the heart RIGHT DOWN. Ten points to the power of music.

The group keeps trying to communicate, sometimes failing epically (whatever it is does NOT like the sound of Draconic), but eventually they settle on Undercommon, whereupon the thing inside begins to express its desire to please be let out of the heart RIGHT THE HECK NOW. So Seru, Betha, and Fen start cutting it out of the heart (an extremely bloody affair. So much blood).

The first part to emerge is a very very pale foot, which Fen promptly tickles. This sets the tone for the rest of her interactions with the mysterious Heart Denizen, which turns out to be a fey(-ish) male named Morthred. He’s looking rough, skin sloughing off, coughing, no hair, and so on.

Ondelin proceeds to lose every inch of his mind and starts to attack, saying that Morthred is on a List with two other people (Nimueh and Uther) of dangerous enemies from the original Banishing Times. He is unable to give any other information about this List, however, and is summarily ignored by the group. Morthred claims that the List is of political dissidents who were imprisoned by Gorloris for speaking out against his banishing plan.

What follows is a very tense negotiating session, wherein the group decides whether to just kill Morthred right there, push him into the Feywild, leave both him and Ondelin to duke it out alone, or take a road trip with both of them. During these talks, the red-lever door gets closed to prove a point, Fen keeps talking loudly about stabbing Morthred, and Morthred attacks her out of exasperation.

Eventually, Ondelin snaps and attacks Morthred, but is persuaded by Kaiva that maybe everyone should take a breath and try talking to Morthred’s mom, Morgaine, about maybe coming up with some peaceful solutions to the whole big-picture problem, maybe? This is aided by a clutch natural 20 Persuasion check by Remi, who now has a Celestial adherent/devotee/boyfriend?

We ended with Morthred on Kaiva’s back and Ondelin trailing after Remi, on what is sure to be the road trip of our lives. Gathering ho!

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