Strange Aeons

The Prison on the Moon

6th Neth, morning
Back to the Caravanserai.
Upon returning, the group cautiously moved through the entrance of the Forsaken Carvanserai to the stables. Recalling the secret doors at the back, the amnesiacs went straight to the office at the foot of the stairs to the Yellow King's room. Upon opening the door, they were greeted by another strange sight. A gaunt, tall humanoid, immaculately dressed in a colorful suit and wearing a stovepipe hat, poring through one of the dusty ledgers on the desk.

The group greeted the person, and he introduced himself as Mr Wanderlust, and asked if they knew anything about accounting or mathematics. When asked why, he stated that he hoped the group could help him break the cypher used in the writing in the old ledgers in the room. The group attempted to identify Mr Wanderlust's species, but were only vaguely aware of him being some sort of fey creature. After a short conversation, an uninvited spell was cast at Mr Wanderlust, and he responded with magic of his own. After a quick struggle, the group overcame Mr Wanderlust, and began looking over the ledgers themselves, trying to ascertain the secret. However, Lekovi soon became convinced the incomprehensible writing in the ledgers were actually the result of some sort of curse, rather than a writing system, and pronounced them utterly meaningless.

The amneisacs then mounted the stairs to where they had last seen the Yellow King, but found nohbody there. Some sign of a scuffle showed, and River moved over to the door, and out onto the balcony there. His eyes were met by the sight of a gigantic birdlike creature, fitted with an ornate howdah. Fixed on this sight, he did not notice a pair of Denizens of Leng that had been silently waiting besiude the door, and they attacked and killed him. During the ensuing struggle, the Lengian creatures also killed Cailyn and Scorcher before being put down. Lekovi and Taber assessed the situation and, after talking a little to the bird creature, woke themselves, rejoining their companions in the real world.

7th Neth, morning
After a day recovering, the group enacted the ritual and returned to the Caravanserai.Going straight to the balcony, they spoke for some time with the Shantak, and learned that the creature had been left behind as transport for Mr Wanderlust and the Leng Denizens stationed at the Caravanserai, while the Yellow King has been transported to a facility on the Moon by a Leng Denizen called Weiralai. Recognising this name as that of the first Leng Denizen they had fought, under Iris Hill, the group convinced the Shantak to follow the route, and take them to the moon.

The flight to the moon took 10 hours, during which the group were able to relax in the comfort of the howdah. Lekovi was able to work out that the howdah was, in fact, encahnted, and protecting them from the extreme cold of the Dreamlands void between worlds.

The Shantak landed in a small fenced paddock, a short distance from a squat but imposing building, perched over a dark, viscous lake. Approaching cautiously, the group moved around the obvious entrances, and went to examine the lake, finding it to be formed of what appeared to be a salty liquid with a thick, syrupy texture. Looking around the shore, Taber spotted a stone pipe about 4 feet in diameter, leading into the hill under the building. Examination showed the pipe quickly sloped upwards. Unsecuring the gril over the pipe's exit, the monk climbed up the pipe, and affixed a rope. Cailyn then followed, and unlocked the top grill.

The top end of the pipe led into what appeared to be a large prison facility, dark, but filled with a number of independant cells. Quickly moving around the area, the group located only two occupied cells. The first contained a lean, strong woman, with short black hair and an ugly scar across her brow and nose. She identified herself as Kelvetta Brix, a Chelish big-game hunter. Curious about how a native of Golarion ended up in the dreamlands, and thinking they might be able to use her egress as a way to the dreamlands, they questioned Kelvetta, but were ultimately disappointed to learn she did not exactly know where the portal she had used was located, and that it had closed after she had entered this realm. Kelvetta was happy to provide anything the group wanted to know, just as long as they could get her out of here as quickly as possible. She appeared to be terrified of something.

The second cell was home to a woman in a near-catatonic state. After being calmed by one of Lekovi's spells, she told them she had been captured, and saw little to no hope of being able to overcome the doom aimed at them all. Despite the spell's calming effect, she still seemed quite flat and downtrodden, but welcomed release. 

The group let the pair out, and escorted them out of the pipe, providing directions back to the Shanktak (River watching them expectantly the whole time, waiting for an ambush). 

Returning to the prison, the group located only three potential ways onward – a stone staircase leading up, and a pair of doorways. An unearthly sound of music and the occasional muted screams issued from the area above. Going to the doors first, the large double doors at the edge of the room (after Cailyn unlocked them) led into a 10'-square chamber, with a second set of double doors at the far side. The other side of these doors were sealed by a solid stone wall. Examining the area for secret doors, the group identified some strangely regular horizontal scratch marks along the walls, but no means of egress. 

Moving back to the central door, the group found that it led into what appeared to be a communal dining area, set with rough wooden tables and benches. The only way further on led to a small alcove, on the other side of an opening sealed by a metal grill, with no means of opening it. A funnel on the other side appeared to feed into the side the group were on, and was stained by the residue of something foul.

At a loss, the group rested here briefly.

The amnesiacs next Went up the stairs. The stairway opened out into another good-sized stone chamber, this one festooned with torture devices, each with oily tubes leading up from them, and meeting over at the far wall, in a mass of brass and bronze machinery and horns, with fluted pipes leading up into the ceiling. Working on the machinery was a pale-skinned humanoid woman, with short red hair, freckles and dark eyes. Wiping her hands on her coveralls, she greeted the group, introduced herself as Osephellius, and asked who they were. After a short conversation about being here to rescue people, the woman transformed into a large dragon, and breathed a blast of strong acid at the group.

Unnerved by the sight of a true dragon, River became panicked and fled, as Cailyn and Taber moved to engage the dragon. Several of the torture devices in the room suddenly animated, and attempted to grapple those moving past them. After a short struggle, Orsephellius overcame the other group members. Realising things had gone badly and that he was likely the last survivor, River continued running, and returned to the Shantak's paddock. After some negotiation, he convinced the creature to take him back to the Caravanserai by promising to let it eat him once they got there. The shantak agreed, and River followed through on his promise when they arrived.

8th Neth, morning
After regrouping and recovering from various insanities, the group steeled themselves to reenter the dreamlands. They spoke to the Shantak again, and convinced it to take them back to the prison, by delivering a load of livestock to it. Crawling back up the effluent pipe, the group prepared, and went back to attack Orsephellius. This time, despite Scorcher becoming panicked, the group were able to overcome the Nightmare Dragon. Scorcher, in his panic, had run to an unexplored area just off the main room, and revealed more machinery, with a conspicuous lever sticking out of it. The rest of the group also examined the lever, and decided to activate it. Machinery operated, and the group could hear a  loud grinding noise echo up from down below for a few moments. Wanting to know what this had done, they ignored the other exits from the room, and instead returned to the cell area.

A little exploration showed that the grinding noise had been caused by walls shifting inside the 10'-square room behind the double doors. A long corridor was now revealed behind them, leading around towards the front of the prison. The group moved further down the corridor, and reached a bend, just as a trio of Leng humanoids emerged from a door there. Both groups looked startled, and then combat began.

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Dream Become Reality

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arstdwucOjg

30th Lamashan, morning
After several peaceful days further down the river, the a pair of Chuuls climbed on board and attempted to drag the group overboard. Despite them grabbing hold of River and Cailyn, the foul creatures were quickly destroyed, and the threat averted.

2nd Neth, afternoon
A few days later, the amnesiacs saw a trio of well-dressed men on shore, waving and calling for help. After checking with the group, Captain Freeling stopped, and brought the men on board. All three men were wearing expensive courtier's clothing, ruined by weather and exposure. One of the trio had a bandage on his arm, blood seeping through showing the wound underneath. The three thanked the group and crew for stopping, and pleaded for assistance and passage for themselves, and one other person. Despite being wary, the group agreed to help, and the trio led the group ashore, and up to an abandoned old barn.

Still expecting trouble, Cailyn and River checked for signs of tracks, and ambush, but found so obvious signs of anything other than four men. Entering the barn, the group were introduced to the occupant, a Senator Emilio Daldamane of Galt

A handsome and pleasant man, despite his current state, the senator explained how he had fled from his home in Galt a fortnight prior, after learning that the Revolutionary Council suddenly wanted him dead. for no reason that he could fathom. He was sure he had worked tirelessly for the Galtan people for his whole career. Shortly after learning this, Daldamane received a strange missive from a group calling themselves the “Stardust Augurs.” These Stardust Augurs expressed sympathy for the senator’s unexpected reversal of fortune and offered to shelter him within the northern Verduran Forest, in Taldor, if he could reach them. Lacking any other options, the senator fled Isarn with a few trusted courtiers. He felt that reaching the Stardust Augurs was his best option. After being robbed of his funds by bandits 3 days ago, the Senator had been holed up in the barn, while his companions tried to secure him passage. Senator Daldamane promised to repay any help he was given once he could contact his associates in Taldor. Impressed by the Senator's honesty, and sympathietic to his plight, the group agreed to escort him back to their vessel, and carry him to his destination. 

As the group escorted the senator back down the slope to the river, an armed band started attacking them. The band consisted of 4 bowmen, and the same masked Gray Gardner the group had encountered several days prior in Dabril. The amnesiacs defended themselves, and were quickly able to slay the bowmen, followed shortly after by the Gardner. River ensured the Gardner did not survive the encounter.

4th Neth, early evening
Over the next few days, the Sellen Starling sailed futher south. The Senator and his allies stayed out of sight, and Captain Freeling avoided the border town of Woodsedge. The day after passing the border, the group observed magical lights in the sky over the Verduran forest. The Senator identified this as the sign he had been told to expect, and asked to be let ashore. Again, although the group was suspicious, they directed the Captain to stop, and accompanied the Senator into the woods.

Not far from the river, the group encountered a group of six humans. The leader, a fiery human
Taldan woman with smooth features and short dark hair, welcomed both the Senator and the amnesiacs, saying she was expecting them all. Introducing herself as Hadranna Ibren, she welcomed the senator, and informed him that she wanted to escort him to her contacts in Taldor, where his compassionate political skills would be put to good use. The senator agreed to stay with the Stardust Augurs.

Hadranna spoke to the amnesiacs next, and explained she had experienced the powerful visions of the group's dream quests, and asked a number of questions about their journeys in the Dreamlands, as very few of them had ever actually been able to travel there. One of the other members of the Augurs introduced himself as Nestor Bindlay, and thanked the group for releasing him from the Dreamlands – he was the man who had been restrained, unconscious, on the trapped leaf in the Enchanted Wood. After some further chatter and storytelling, the group retired to the Sellen Starling to continue their trip.

4th Neth, evening
Bolstered by their successes, the amnesiacs again enacted the Dreamlands Excursion ritual, and descended the staircase. As they stepped off the bottom of the staircase, they knew no more…and then all awoke, on the floor of the cabin, the bright morning sunshine streaming in through the cracks in the doors. Confused by what had happened, the group checked themselves over, and looked out of the cabin, but found no immediate explanation. Scorcher attempted to pierce a suspected illusion, but found nothing. Lekovi checked to see if he was carrying his dream equipment, thinking they may actually be in the Dreamlands, but found only his normal, waking possessions. River and Taber went to talk to the captain, to find more information. The captain was dreamily staring off to the horizon, and constantly tilted her head to one side as she spoke to the amnesiacs, and could not offer anything new. She had just eaten second breakfast, and wasn't interested in the apple River offered her.

Looking around further, Scorcher noticed that the river was unusually clear, and fairly teeming with strangely iridescent fish. On shore, Cailyn and Taber noticed some grazing animals, but upon looking closer, identified them as Buopoths, waddling quadripeds not native to the Inner Sea. Lekovi looked around the barge, and discovered a chest inside the cabin he did not recall seeing before. Opening it, he discovered a cache of magical items…their own dream equipment, by the look of it, meaning they were indeed in the Dreamlands. As he called the others in, the captain appeared at the door to the cabin. 

Captain Freeling's mouth opened, and quickly kept opening far beyond it's normal range of motion, until the entire top half of her head flopped loosely against the back of her neck, and her skin dropped, intact, to the deck. A dark, hulking shadow Welled up out of the skin, exuding a palpable sense of terror, and began tearing into Lekovi. The creature's incorporeal claws sailed effortlessly through armour, somehow inflicting horrible wounds on the flesh beneath. Even worse, the wounds began oozing out Lekovi's very soul, and his force of personality was much weakened over the next few seconds. The creature also demonstrated an ability to teleport around, moving outside of the cramped cabin and beside Taber. Thanks to the support of his divinely-inspired weapon, and his training at using the weapon at long range, River was able to hit the creature reliably, and quickly hacked it apart.

As the group recvered from the disconcerting attack, they saw that the vessel with the blood-red sails they had seen earlier in their trip was approaching, and ready for boarding. Grappling hooks were thrown, and the two vessels slammed together. The pirates on board stood ready, firing crossbows at the amnesiacs. The captain, another denizen of Leng, gestured, and his first mate, a shadowy wraith, flew across to attack River. River quickly demonstrated the error in this decision, destroying the creature in a single mighty blow. Taber leapt across to the deck of the enemy vessel, behind the pirates, and began fighting them, while Cailyn and her companion locked up one boarding plank, and River the other. The captain moved around the melee, and attacked Taber and River. The captain was clearly a magus, protected by swirling mirror images, and dealing out blasts of electrical energy from his sword. Despite dealing some fearsome wounds, the captains crew were cut down, and he quickly afterwards.

Once the fighting had died down, and healing applied, and the downed foes were looted, the group began to explore the vessel, which appeared to be named the Bloodwind. While looking over the loot for magic, the group noted that the whole ship was, in fact, enchanted with transmutation magic. Lekovi had been expecting some form of teleportation magic, and was confused, but unable to tell exactly what the ship was capable of. Initially, it appeared to be a folding boat, but there were clearly some other threads of magic woven into the enchantments that he could not identify.

While trying to decipher this meaning, the bowsprit suddenly swung around, knocking Scorcher overboard. A quick fly spell corrected this accident. Taber was a little confused by this, as he felt no sign of wind, which would normally be the cause for this movement. Shortly afterwards, one of the oars swung around in it's oarlock, trying to knock Cailyn overboard, but Cailyn was too nimble.

The group searched the vessel, but found no other valuables. They had already recovered the captain's tricorne, and a pouchful of flawless but strange rubies. As they went to enter the Captain's cabin, the door swung shut of it's own volition. Lekovi tried to open the door with a telekinetic cantrip, but realised it wouldn't work on the enchanted ship. River walked over to open the door, and the door suddenly slammed open into his face. He instinctively blocked it with his shield, but was disconcerted nonetheless.

Disconcerted, Scorcher yelled at the ship to behave. Lekovi tried another solution, and attempted to cast Calm Emotions. Feeling the ship resist the effect, he cast again and again, the third time finally working. The ship stopped trying to harm the amnesiacs, and they completed their search, finding nothing more of interest.

Returning to the deck, the group began attempting to pilot the vessel, River having hope of using the ship to sail back to their home, carrying them and their dream possessions back. Alas, the folding boat began to fold in upon itself. Seeing no alternative, the group abandoned the Bloodwind as it compressed to a small box, and sank to the bototm of the river, River being the last to reluctantly let go.

Back on board the dream Sellen Starling, the group found a portal in the cabin. Disconcerted further, some of the group tried to awaken themselves normally, and other stepped through the portal. With a familliar sense of deja vous, they all awoke back in the cabin, feeling very uncertain as to where they were.

5th Neth, evening
The group spent the day resting and recovering from their ordeal on the dream Sellen Starling, trying not to imagine that everyone around them was another nigthmare creature. 

Having gathered all of the items the Yellow King had asked them to, the group again enacted the Dreamlands Excursion ritual that night, to return to the Forsaken Caravanserai. Arriving again in the heat outside the abandoned building, the group made their way towards the front entrance, Cailyn asking if maybe they could just climb straight up to the Yellow King's rooms, and wondering if the Formless Spawn was still in the baths. It was then that a pair of unearhtly howls rang out, although each of the group shook off the feeling of foreboding. Approaching more cautiously now, Taber saw the split door of the guardpost partly open, and barely catching a glimpse of the inhabitants, slammed it shut and held it. Cailyn moved up, and rammed a stake in at bottom of the door, holding it fast. Scorcher hasted the group, while the others moved forwards to face the threat.

Lekovi heard a voice from inside the guardpost ordering someone to stay, in Aklo, and claws swiped under the door, unsuccessfully trying to clear the obstruction. Taber then hauled the top half of the door back open, revealing a denizen of Leng standing inside the guardpost. Reacting quickly, Taber then tried unsuccessfully to haul the humanoid out of the room. As this happened, a flock of large Nightgaunts unexpectedly burst out of the stables, and flew towards the group, three of them flying up and over the roof. Lekovi quickly confused one of them, while Scorcher blasted apart another with fire. At the guardpost, the Leng denizen forced his way out, as did a pair of Yeth hounds. Over the next few moments, the group fought off the hounds and Nightgaunts, and finally slew the Leng denizen as well.

While healing and contemplating their next move, the group next heard a pack of dogs howling and rushing at them from the corridor opposite the guardpost. Reacting quickly, the group rushed into the corridor to head off the dogs. These creatures looked similar to the hounds from the guardpost, but larger, and somehow more shadowy, despite the bright light in the corridor. River, Taber, and Cailyn all moved to engage the beasts, hacking them apart. Lekovi followed them, and they all moved around the bend, expecting more opposition, while Scorcher stayed at the corridor entrance. Not wanting to be ambushed, Cailyn threw open the curtain the others had moved past, and moved into the ruined shop. Blazing into life on the wall was a magical symbol, and as the light shone out, Taber and Lekovi felt the strength drain from their bodies, Lekovi actually falling to the floor, unable to support his weight.

While this was happening, another Leng humanoid had snuck up behind Scorcher, and bit him, dealing a horrible wound and draining his reflexes. Now facing this new threat, the group rushed back out, while Scorcher backed away into the corridor, and Cailyn guarded Lekovi. As Scorcher came within sight of the symbol, it flared again, and he also felt his stremgth drain. Despite his weakness, Taber joined River in engaging the slippery humanoid, who rushed out of sight towards the stables. Expecting his opponent had become invisible, River used his speed to move methodically around the stables, trying to find the enemy, only to have him jump out of his hiding place, and ineffectually bite at him. Taber and River surrounded the creature, and were eventually able to finish him off with little further injury.

Deciding their situation had become untenable, the group forced themselves awake to rid themselves of the various hurts to their bodies.

6th Neth, morning
Rather than return straight to the Caravanserai, the amnesiacs decided to prepare further first, and instead took a trip to Dylath-Leen to procure more dream supplies. They then steeled themselves for the next trip, to the Caravanserai.

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Murder on the Dance Floor

https://youtu.be/hAx6mYeC6pY
As the amnesiacs finally reached the top of the Sarnath sea wall, the green mist lit up out over the lake, showing several more Ib Shades. One of the shades, looking more resplendant than the others in regalia of some sort, brandished aloft a green stone statue, semmingly solid despite being held by insubstantial fingers. 

The group sprang into action, with Scorcher floating up, and firing another Fireball at the spectral amphibians.  Lekovi waited, to see what the creatures would do. Cailyn and her Rhinoceros companion, and Taber rushed towards the edge of the seawall, ahead of the others. The creatures then charged at the group, slashing at them with incorporeal claws, instilling a sense of foreboding into changeling and rhino. The translucent priest brandished the idol, and beams of power lashed out, visibly drawing the very moisture from the bodies of the amnesiacs. River charged at the creatures, calling on his faith to strike them solidly, and Lekovi then broke from his reverie, casting Haste on the group.

Just after Lekovi completed his spell, the green mist parted, and far out in the lake, the group could see a sinister bulk surging upwards in the water. Revealing itself to be the inspiration of the idol carried by the shades, a giant, scaled lizard, with a tangle of undulating tentacles falling from it's chin like an unnaturally motile beard. The creature began moving at a stately pace towards the city, seeming to both swim and walk upon the water. The sight of the creature filled the group with unspeakable terror.

Scorcher began throwing more fire at the Shades, drawing the attention of one of them, which then charged up towards him. Cailyn, River and Taber struck at the creatures, with varying levels of success, but slowly carving their spectral bodies assunder. The ghostly priest cast a Sound Burst spell, stunning River, and damaging the spellcasters. Fighting off the malign influence, Lekovi mentally attacked one of the shades, destroying it. The gigantic lizard travelled closer to the city, still at an unhurried pace, but caused the lake to surge up again. The resulting wave washed over the seawall, knocking Taber and River into the rear of the wall, and collapsing the stairs to the ballroom below.

Scorcher backed away from the creature threatening him, and destroyed it with beams of fire. Taber and River regained their feet, and together with Cailyn, destroyed the last pair of shades. Lekovi magically suggested the priest go meet with the lizard creature, which it began to do, carrying the idol out over the lake. Taber, realising the danger of losing the idol, looked askance at Lekovi, who just shrugged and smiled.

As the lizardlike creature moved closer, a fierce storm broke over the city, lightning and rain lashing down, but only over the building of Sarnath. Scorcher threw magic at the retreating Ib priest, while Cailyn attempted to shoot him, and Lekovi attempted to drag the statue away from him with telekinetic strength. Over the next few moments, the priest reached the lizard, came to his senses, and turned back towards the group, launching magical lightning from the storm at them. River began pulsing out healing energy to offset the assaults.

The lizard creature finally reached the walls, and snapped Taber cleanly in half with one mighty blow from his fanged maw. Almost physically stunned by this display of power, the group now rushed to try and recover the idol, the target of their trip here. Lekovi used magic to reduce the ghostly priest's strength of will, and continued trying to pull the idol from him, while River slashed at him with his axe, finally landing a killing blow. The stone idol crashed to the top of the seawall. Cailyn and her Rhino bravely faced the mighty lizard, which then proceded to thrash about, and snap them both painfully out of the Dreamlands.

River called for the remainders of the group to grab the idol, as he stepped up to the beast and chopped it at. It's hide provide too strong, deflecting the blow. Heedless of the danger, Scorcher swooped down to collect the idol, only to be snapped in two by the creatures razor teeth. Lekovi used one final burst of psychic power to snatch the idol to his hands, just as he saw the creature proceed to tear River to bloody chunks. Closing his eyes, Lekovi wished to be home…and awoke unharmed on the Sellen Starling.

Each of the amnesiacs found themselves badly affected by their experiences, and took some time to recover from their new maladies. River fought off a recurrence of a fugue state, while Scorcher was sunk into delirium. cailyn wanted nothing more than to swim, perchance to drown, while Taber believed he was still in the Dreamlands, and refused to be told otherwise. River was able to use magic to restore his current memories, and was then able to pray for further magic to restore the rest of the amnesiacs to what passed for normality.

22nd Lamashan, midday
Travelling further into Lake Kallas, the group saw a damaged and stranded fishing boat in the distance. Thinking them endangered, Cailyn requested a fly spell from Scorcher, and flew over with a rope. Upon arrival, though, the supposed fishermen revealed themselves to be malicious spellcasters. One summoned a swarm of poisonous frogs on the Sellen Starling, while a second magically warped the Sellen Starling's rudder. The other two drew hidden scimitars, and tried to kill Cailyn.

Scorcher reacted quickly, and launched a fireball at the deceivers, dealing serious wounds to them. The two previous casters changed to hawks, and flew for the Sellen Starling, while the other two duelled with Cailyn. After a brief flurry of magic and blows, the quartet were killed. Recovering the bodies revealed they all carried enchanted weaponry, and that they each carried a wooden holy symbol, carved to resemble a water rat. River identified this symbol as being beloved of Hanspur, and explained about Hanspur's faith.

Towards the end of the day, the Sellen Starling pulled into Riverton, on the south eastern shore of the lake. Captain Freeling told the group that the Starling needed repairs, and that this was the best place to have it done, even though she didn't normally like to be here for their dusk Hanspur services. As she approached the dockmaster to find carpenters, a strange group walked to the ship.

The group seemed to be mostly composed of human and half-elven woman, wearing mud-spattered robes, surrounding a blonde elf dressed similarly. The elf's hair was tangled and spiky with mud, and a feverish glitter was visible in his pale blue eyes. As he walked up to the barge, he threw his hands out, and shouted that he had seen them in murky reflections, and would impart Hanspur's wisdom in private. The group invited him into the cabin, and he joined them alone, leaving his coterie behind on the docks.

Inside the cabin, the man's demeanour changed somewhat, as he spoke more normally. The mad gleam still shone in his eyes, though. Introducing himself as Naerel Twice-born, he told the group that Riverton had been visited several weeks prior by a red-sailed ship. The ship's master seemed to be a man dressed in thick clothing, but some instinct told Naerel this was no natural man. Naerel related how this not-man had approached him, and described the group to him, asking if he had seen them at all. Naerel replied no, and the not-man had offered a ruby the size of a child's fist, despite the lack of information. Naerel offered this ruby to the group, and when they were reluctant, he dropped it on to the deck, saying he did not wish to keep it. Lekovi evaluated the ruby, and found it was likely worth at least 5000 gold pieces, depending on purity. Looking at it, the gem appeared to be more like a solidified form of some liquid than a gemstone. Lekovi checked the ruby and Naerel for magic, or for Psychic Significance, finding traces of suffering. Lekovi decided this meant the ruby had simply picked up some vibes from being on the slave ship.

Cailyn negotiated with Naerel for some healing magic for Taber and Scorcher, and he agreed. The group asked Naerel some other questions about his background, and the town, and his experiences. They also asked if he had seen Lowls. Naerel thought he had seen him some months ago, briefly. Naerel then invited the group to the dusk services. The group attended, and spent the night drinking at a tavern.

23rd Lamashan, midday
The group spent some time selling a number of items to travelling merchants, and purchasing some of the meager supplies in town. Captain Freeling then told them the repairs were done, and they could depart. As the Sellen Starling made it's way down the East Sellen river, a strange creature burst out of a treetop across the river, and swooped at the amnesiacs. Despite it flying swiftly, the group were not caught unawares, and quickly dispatched the creature. None of the group were able to identify the beast, but they searched the forest near where it had appeared, and discovered a treetop nest of sorts. Inside the nest, they discovered a pouch containing six small but flawless rubies. Suspecting the further involvement of the mystery not-man captain, the group returned to the river, and the barge sailed on.

23rd Lamashan, evening
Lekovi led the Dreamlands Excursion ritual again, and the group travelled to Dylath-Lenn, the city of dark basalt, and location of Ambassador Quaveandra. They took the final step off the staircase, and found themselves in a lavish drug den, filled with many humanoids vending and partking in all sorts of exotic addictive substances. Opium and flayleaf were the most familliar of the indulgences, but Lekovi saw many other strange and unusual drugs in use. When offered a dose of Opium, Lekovi immediately tried it, and relaxed into its embrace.

Cailyn spied the Night hag Ambassador, and approached respectfully, introducing herself as a niece. Quaveandra welcomed Cailyn and her compatriots, and asked about where they were from. Hearing they were from elsewhere, she leaned in, and whispered that she had a proposition, if they were interested. Cailyn leapt at the chance, saying they were looking for her heartstone, and asking if the Ambassador had previously seen either them or Count Lowls. Quaveandra replied that she had not met any of the amnesiacs before, but that Count Lowls had been involved in an attack on her several months ago, which resulted in her losing her heartstone. She also outlined how she felt one of her retinue was trying to assasinate her. The attack by Lowls was just one incident of many, including poisoned food, and even the anonymous delivery of a cursed Robe of Powerlessness. Through deduction and elimination, Quavendra had narrowed down the suspects to only three, and hoped the group would help find the culprit.

Cailyn led the interviews, and took them to speak first with Dol Theth, a fortune teller. Dol Theth boisterously greeted the group, and told them how they were destined for great things. River asked if he was destined to take her Dreamlands items to the real world, and he exclaimed that it would be so. Looking at Lekovi, Dol Theth began asking questions about a presence around him. Lekovi checked Dol Theth and himself for any signs of Psychic Significance, finding none. The group asked several questions about the recent happenings with Quavendra. His answers didn't give any indication that Dol Theth had anything to do with the assassination, so they moved to their next suspect.

Kavriki was a musician playing a lute. The group approached, and began asking about what she had seen recently. Overall, Kavriki didn't appear to have had any involvement with any of the assassination attempts, but Lekovi caught her lying about something. After a little more conversation, Kavriki suggested they talk in a more private setting, and led them to one of the curtained-off rooms. Taber attempted to subtly detect magic, and found Kavriki did have auras. As they walked into the private room, Kavriki subtly activated a switch beside the entrance, but Taber noticed it. He signed to Lekovi what he had seen. Kavriki told the group that Quaveandra was involved in trying to set up a new trade in souls from the Dreamlands. She tried to appeal to the group, hoping that they might decide they needed to shut this evil traffic down…and fell on deaf ears. Seeing she was getting nowhere, Kavriki attempted to attack, dealing some damage to Scorcher, before being beaten into unconsciousness by the rest of the group. The group discussed what had happened, and were still unsure what the plot had been. Cailyn looked at the switch, and found it had disabled a trap, which he then permanently disabled. The trap appeared to have contained poisonous gas. They confiscated all of Kavriki's combat items, and poisons, and then went to talk to Ammanetta.

Ammanetta turned out to be an older Tiefling woman who acted as a steward and secretary for Quaveandra. Comparing notes abut what they had found out about Kavriki, they finally decided Kavriki had been the assassin, and went to inform Quaveandra. Quaveandra was happy, and handed over her heartstone…which Lekovi recognised as just being a normal gem. The group called Quaveandra on her bluff, and she reluctantly handed over her real heartstone. They then awoke themselves.

25th Lamashan, afternoon
While docked at the Galtan town of Dabril. Skywin had gone into town to visit some contacts, taking half of the crew with her, and leaving the amnesiacs in charge. Not long after, the vessel was approached by a hooded Gray Gardener, one of the executioners of Galt's Revolutionary Council. The Gardner demanded to board and question the group, and the rest of the crew. Cailyn refused to allow the Gardner aboard, but agreed to allow private questioning at the gunwhales. The Gardner asked the group, and each of the crew members if they had met or knew the whereabouts of Senator Emilo Daldamane. Nobody had heard of him, or knew anything. At the end of the interviews, the Gardner examined each of the group with a Detect Alignment spell, and then moved on. The group observed the Gardner interrogating other ship crews.

25th Lamashan, evening
Enacting the Dreamlands Excursion ritual again, the group travelled to the city of Celephais, to visit the court of Viscount Pietro Brellin. They arrived in the middle of what appeared to be a ball, attended by many different well-dressed nobles, with a handful of merchants and peasants in attendance as well.

The amnesiacs approached the Viscount's dais. As they moved closer, they saw the Viscount coughing in the middle of his conversation, spattering the floor, his chin and clothing with a thick, tarry phlegm. Neither the Viscount, nor anyone present seemed to take any notice of this. The Viscount noticed the group, and waved them forward to speak. Recognising them as outsiders, the Viscount asked them their business. Cailyn again asked if the Viscount had met Count Lowls. The Viscount confirmed he had dealt with Lowls several months ago, making a deal to provide him one of his signet rings. Cailyn revealed they were also looking for a signet ring, and the Viscount offered to have one fetched for them, if they would perform a task for him. Warily, the group agreed, and the Viscount explained his problem.

He had apparently promised to perform the Sunset Waltz with several of the atendees at the ball. Afterwards, he discovered that, unexpectedly, his beloved would be at the ball for the Sunset Waltz, and he of course must dance with her instead. If the group agreed to tactfully inform the three other dancers of the change in plans, he would give them a signet ring. The group agreed, and the Viscount described the poeple he required them to talk to. Leaving the Viscount, the group asked other ball-goers about the people they needed to find. They could not find anything about Maudette, but did locate information about Lady Splinterbone, who the group strongly suspected of being a vampire, and Adrvin Telgriette, a merchant prince.

The first person was Lady Splinterbone, and the group quickly located her. She was a very beautiful woman, and had just finished dancing with a gaunt, pallid man. The group told the Lady of the Viscount's dilemma, and she agreed to forgo her dance…if one of the group would dance with her. River rushed to volunteer, but when she spied his holy symbol, Lady Splinterbone refused. Looking over the group, she also rejected Cailyn, and eventually settled on Taber. Taber reluctantly agreed to the dance, and joined the Lady on the floor. After a short time dancing, the Lady told Taber that if she was expected to keep quiet about the Viscount's actions, she wished to partake of a little of his blood. Even more reluctantly, Taber agreed, and the Lady bit his neck, draining some blood from him. Finally leaving the dance floor, Taber returned a little unsteadily to his friends, and River magically restored his health.

Still unable to locate anyone who knew anything about Maudette, the group decided to approach the merchant, Ardvin. The merchant appeared quite upset about losing the opportunity to do business with the Viscount, but Cailyn suggested an alternative, with Quaveandra's soul-trading business. Once Scorcher couched the offer in more flattering terms, Ardvin agreed.

Despite spending more time talking to guests, the group did not find anyone who had seen Maudette. However, they did spy someone suddenly being grabbed by a webbing lasso, and dragged up to the ceiling. Nearby partygoers actively avoided noticing the capture, and similarly purposely took no notice of the drops of blood that rained down afterwards. Looking more closely, the group noticed that several people had splatters of blood on them, and looked more closely at the ceiling. Above seemed to be a set of catwalks, positioned beneath what seemed to be a giant tangle of spiderwebs, with clouds of darkness above obscuring the ceiling.

At Cailyn's suggestion, Scorcher cast Fly on each of the amnesiacs, and they flew up, looking for Maudette. They quickly found her, bound in webs, and only partly conscious, but still alive. Surrounding her were a number of spiderlike creatures. Cailyn identified them as Giant Spiders, and some form of Ettercaps. The Ettercaps looked a little unusual, with each of them being purple and bloated, with an extra, useless arm hanging from the centre of their chest. The group quickly destroyed these hideous creatures, and rescued Maudette, returning her to the dance floor, and then returned to the Viscount.

The Viscount, despite another coughing fit, was quite pleased to see the amnesiacs return. He had his servants rewards them with one of his signet rings, and also a belt, which turned out to be a Belt of Mighty Constitution. A hush fell over the ballroom, and the musicians ceased. The partygoers backed away from the center of the dance floor as an immense, bloated, purple spider with seven legs descended from the darkness above the ballroom on a thick
string of webbing. The viscount stood, enraptured, and sighed, “My beloved!” as streamers of tarry drool dripped from his mouth. Viscount Brellin slowly made his way onto the dance floor to dance the Sunset Waltz with the monster to the polite applause of the revolted partygoers. The amnesiacs rushed to wake themselves, and leave the terrible visage behind.

26th Lamashan, morning
Awakening back in the real world, the group of amnesiacs realised they had only one dream quest left to pursue – the Captain's Tricorne.

View
Doom Comes to Sarnath

https://youtu.be/RidCe02KM_0

After assessing their position, and the likely lack of help available from either Razmiran to the North, or Kyonin to the south, the group decided to travel on, hoping to reach somewhere they could treat Taber's impairment sooner. Taber, wanting to speed their travel along, began spending time at the back of the barge, using his Decanter of Endless Water as an additional thruster.

That night, the amnesiacs attempted their next attempt at returning to the Dreamlands, but failed and called another Animate Dream. Experience was now telling, and the creature was destroyed even quicker, although not before it managed to apply the nightmare curse to Scorcher without the rest of the group realising, and the next morning, Scorcher also was suffering from a lack of restful sleep.

Hoping to find somewhere to recover, the group decided to leave their next trip to the Dreamlands for a while. Several further days down the Sellen River, a close-passing vessel raised the Razmiran flag, revealing itself as a hidden Faith Barge. The enemy vessel quickly closed in, and several enemy thugs leapt over to the Sellen Starling and attacked, but Cailyn and River killed them quckly. Scorcher launched a fireball at one side of the raider, avoiding hitting any allies. The enemy captain also leapt across to the Starling, and proved a more worthy opponent, laying about him with a Greatsword, but he also fell to the combined efforts of the group.

After searching the crew quarters and discovering a number of magical items amongst the captain's possessions, the group moved to the hold. Lifting the hatch, the stench of unwashed flesh rolled out. The group found all of the rowers on the vessel to be unchained, but no less enslaved. Convincing them they were safe, the group moved them over to the Sellen Starling, providing food and clothing. Despite Captain Freeling's reservations, she agreed to take the risk and try to help the slaves. Luckily, with the boost provided by the Decanter, the Starling left Razmiri shores a week later, and the group were able to locate a small fishing settlement willing to take the former slaves in.

Feeling a little safer now, the group decided to attempt another trip to the Dreamlands, and were finally successfully able to enact the ritual, and appeared in a gigantic open space, filled with celebrating people of all sorts. Singling out a couple of the revellers, the amnesiacs discovered they were in a city called Sarnath. This night was the one thousandth anniversary of the destruction of the neighbouring city of Ib, on the far side of the lake abutting the city. Just as the group started to wonder where the statue might be, the screams began. At the far side of the banquet hall, a commotion had begun, and the whole room started to stampede away, towards the exits. The amnesiacs, of course, began making their way through the crowd, toward the source of the disturbance.

As they neared the stairs leading up the sea-wall, the group saw a disturbing sight. Several translucent, green figures were attacking the retreating crowd, their clawed arms passing straight through the poor victims, but leaving behind terrible claw wounds. The group moved to engage the creatures, trying to distract them from harming the people around them. The creatures effortlessly moved through the crowd, and slashed straight through Rivers metal plates. Taber was able to dodge the blows a little more effectively, but he was also hit by the creatures. Despite several wounds, the creatures were soon dispersed.

Moving to the stairs, the group found water was flowing heavily down them from above. Climbing carefully to the top, the group saw the lake had risen to the tops of the crenellated wall, and was regularly lapping over it. At the head of the stairs, the group were attacked by previously invisible balls of light. Cailyn quickly identified the creatures as Will-o-the-wisps, as they unleashed blasts of electricity into the group. Despite the creatures being agile, the group quickly overwhelmed them, and moved to see what else awaited on the top of the sea wall.

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Dreamcatchers

After successfully enacting the Dreamlands Excursion Ritual, the group of amnesiacs emerged into the middle of a warcamp, in what appeared to be an enormous cavern, in the Underworld of the Dreamlands. Around them, many humanoids were preparing for war – sharpening weapons, strapping on armour, and sparring. As the group appeared, a group of six of the humanoids were chanting and beseeching Nyarlathotep for aid. Seeing the group, the chanters immediately began praising Nyarlathotep for providing help so quickly. One of the strangers approached the group, and introduced himself as Wilkins, a green-skinned Ghoul of Leng.

Wilkins explained that he and his fellow Ghouls were about to embark on a raid, intended to remove a group of Gugs that have settled into an ancient necropolis, that had formerly been the Ghoul's home. The Ghouls had abandoned the Necropolis several years ago, and despite their fear of Ghouls, the Gug's had decided to lay claim after the abandonment. The Ghouls, once they learned of this, consider the occupation to be a desecration of sacred ground, and are on their way to wipe out the Gugs. However, the Ghouls available for the battle were few in number, and Wilkins was concerned they would not be able to carry the day against the Gugs. Thus, they had turned to Nyarlathotep for aid, and that was when the amnesiacs had arrived.

Seeing this as a clear sign of support from Nyarlathotep, Wilkins asks the group to assist them in the coming conflict. After some questions, Wilkins assured the group that they would not need to be involved in the main battle, but instead, could guard a particular strategic place, named the Plaza of Bones, that would otherwise allow the Gugs to freely move their forces around.

The group, seeing opportunity, asked about the provision of a Royal Ghoul Skull as a reward. Wilkins apologised, saying that there were no Royal Ghouls involved in this endeavour. However, as it happened, the Plaza of Bones contained the mausoleum of Scarcrim Vost, a ghoul prince destroyed many decades ago. A number of the lesser Ghouls gathered around seemed a little offended by this offer, and muttered amongs themselves. When the group asked why, the lesse ghouls mentioned that there had been a theft of a jeweled ghoul queen skull several years ago. Some interrogation revealed that the perpetrator may have been a human.

The group agreed to the bargain, and set out accompanied by Ghouls. Soon, Wilkins led the Ghouls off in another direction, giving the amnesiacs instructions on where to find the Plaza.These instructions were easily followed, and the group soon entered a long, wide hallway, held aloft by pillars containing carvings of various bones and skeletons. The floor was also scattered with many cracked bones, becoming more numerous towards the end of the hall. The perceptive group members quickly discerned there were creatures of bone concealed along the pillars, and so attacked. The serpentine creatures, acoompanied by a Bone Golem, were quickly destroyed by the group, and they advanced down the hall, approaching the main Plaza.

The Plaza of Boines turned out to be a large cavern, with many ancient, dilapidated buildings clustered around its edges, built into the walls. A large, square building dominated the centre of the plaza, but the most striking feature were the literal sea of bones covering the floor like a bony snow drift. As the group approached the mausoleum, a group of Gugs attacked, and the amnesiacs discovered just how dangerous the creatures are, the enormous tooth-filled maws situated where most creatures have heads dealing horrendous wounds to those they bit.

The battle was brief, but vicious, with the Gugs almost winning out. But, in the end, they were put down. The group, anxious to be away before more appeared, approached the square mausoleum. Cailyn spotted the signs of an enchanted trap, and waved everyone back to remove it. Unfortunately, she managed to trigger it instead, and a chilling, spectral hand reached out and rapidly slapped her several times, stealing a large portion of her life essence, and left her severely weakened. River rushed forward, and healed the damage, and some of the weakness.

Searching the now-safe mausoleum, the group were able to quickly locate the skull they required, and left the Dreamlands with it. Along with the skull, the group recovered a strange, flanked rod, with several studs along the handle. This was later identified as a Rod of Lordly Might.

The following night, the group returned to the Dreamlands, this time to hunt down the Wamps. They emerged from the staircase in what appeared to be a square in the middle of a large, abandoned city. No life was initially visible. In fact, instead of weeds growing through the cobbles of the square, Cailyn instead observed what appeared to be carvings of weeds, made from a brittle, yellow ceramic. While puzzling over this, a group of humanoids in civillian clothing rushed howling out of the streets surrounding the square, and attacked the amnesiacs. The creatures looked like corpses, and were heralded by a nauseating stench. As this fetid odour washed over the group, Cailyn and Scorcher were overcome, and spent the ensuing fight retching. Luckily, the creatures appeared to be relatively weak, and the remainder of the group quickly finished them off.

As the group recovered from the brief struggle, several other humanoid creatures, in similar state to those that had attacked, timidly hailed the group. When it was clear they were not an immediate threat, the group spoke to them, and they explained their situation. They related how, over a century ago, this city had been a bustling centre in the Dreamlands named Arventon. Suddenly, on one day, a wave of energy had washed over the city, transforming anything not made of stone into the pale yellow ceramic, including the majority of the inhabitants, both human and animal. For unknown reasons, a handful of the citizens were transformed into the creatures speaking to the group now rather than turned to ceramic. Those creatures also developed a powerful hunger for dead flesh, which they were able to sate in the city's large cemetery, turning it into a giant larder. The citizens 'protected' the cemetery by placing a number of the now-statues around the wrought iron fence, and praying to their inscrutable gods. Despite this protection, several weeks ago, the cemetery became infested by bizarre, corpse-eating beasts, that looked like some sort of union between spiders and bats, with webbed feet. Cailyn recognised the description as matching the wamps they were looking for, and so they asked for directions to the cemetery.

Walking the perimeter of the wrought-iron fence, the group soon spied a break in it, and decided to enter this way. As they moved through the ring of ceramic statues, two of them suddenly animated, and began attacking them. A short struggle ensued, but Taber's bludgeoning fists made quick work of the brittle creatures, and the group continued into the cemetary.

Cailyn was able to find signs of wamp tracks and spore inside the cemetery, and the group were then able to track them down, and came across one of the creatures alone. Ambushing the creature, it called loudly, and soon summoned several of its fellows to the swirling melee. Once again, though, the group was able to dispose of these creatures with little effort. To be sure, they removed several of the red webbed feet from the creatures, and then gave the rest of the corpses to the local inhabitants, and returned to the waking world.

Over the next several days, the group, led by Lekovi, completed their research into all of the remaining Dreamlands gifts locations – the Viscount's Ring, the Captain's Tricorne, the Green Stone Idol, and the Ambassador's Heartstone. Eager to complete these quests, the group rushed through the now-familliar Ritual. Sadly, in their haste, they made several key mistakes in enacting the ritual, and an Animate Dream was spawned, immediately attacking the group. The creature proved clever and resourceful, but the confines of the barge did not allow it quite the freedom to move that the Carvanserai had the Dream Shopkeep, and it was soone dispatched. Before it was put down, however, it had managed to inflict a curse upon Taber, unnoticed to all. When the group attempted to sleep that night, Taber was afflicted by horrifying nightmares throughout the night, and awoke exhausted, his willpower weakened. River was unable to reverse the damage, and required another day to re-prepare his spells to properly remove the affliction, although Taber was able to fight the nightmares off during the second night.

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Rolling on the River

https://youtu.be/L-2Of9aznxg

15th Rova, morning
Refreshed after their last excursion into the Dreamlands, the amnesiacs relaxed as the boat made it's way into the Glass River, and began travelling towards the Sellen River proper. In their easy state, they were a little surprised to see an enormous turtle breach further forward in the river, and begin to aggressively swim towards them. Thinking quickly, Cailyn began calming down the clearly agitated turtle. It responded, and it's massive bulk ended up swimming by the barge, continuing towards Lake Encarthan.

15th Rova, evening
Feeling rested and confident, the group once again performed the Dreamlands Excursion Ritual, but this time using the passphrase for the Enchanted Woods. As they again emerged from the staircase, they found themselves on what seemed to be a giant treebranch, near the top of the canopy of a giant forest. As they stood, looking around, the group was suddenly assaulted by a strange creature, invisible at first, that became visible after charging through them. The creature looked like a horse, with elongated front legs, ending in clawed hands rather than hooves, and having a vaguely humanoid cast to it's features.

The creature bellowed angrily, as it ploughed through the surprised group, knocking over several of them. It immediately turned around, and charged back through the group, attempting to trample, and injuring several. With limited room to maneuver, the group did their best to get their melee fighters adjacent to it. River made use of lunging attacks to get to the thing around Taber's punching form, while Cailyn and her rhino attacked from the other side. The creature, sensing it was in trouble, stepped back and cast a Fly spell-like ability, but was then cut down in the next flurry of attacks.

As the group caught their breath, the rodent-like forms of a tribe of Zoog emerged from their hiding places, and congratulated the group on their victory. Without waiting, the Zoog immediately set to eating the creature, which they identified as a Tikbalang. Their leader mentioned that the creature normally hunted territory further away, but it had come hunting them.

Cailyn asked the creatures if they knew of any Pards in the area. The Zoog leader said that there had been a pard den in the area, but that they had attacked and wiped out the creatures not long ago. When asked, they revealed they did still have a tail left over, and would gladly trade it for a new meal of exotic feline. The Zoogs knew several tigers hunt a higher, sunnier portion of the Enchanted Woods canopy, and readiy gave clear directions to them. Cailyn enquired about their numbers, and the Zoogs said there was a pack of five, led by a larger, stronger tiger.

The group followed the directions of the Zoog, climbing along giant branches, and crossing from tree to tree, never quite able to see the floor of the woods, but steadily moving further towards the top of the canopy. About halfway into their journey, the amnesiacs saw a strange sight – on one of the giant leaves, there was a man, lying unconscious. Looking more closely, they could see the man had been bound and gagged, and was tied to the leaf by sturdy vines, tied to a stake made from giant thorns, driven into the leaf.

While the rest of the group looked on, wondering where the catch was, River moved out to examine the man. As he did so, the leaf collapsed, and both River and the man plummeted down. Taber quickly cast Feather Fall on River. Almost as quickly, Scorcher cast Fly, hoping to be able to reach River before he fell further, but finding he was just short.

As the aerial display started, the rest of the group was now attacked by four invisible creatures. These creatures appeared to be quite small, but their blows were dealing a significant amount of damage. They initially began attacking Scorcher, Lekovi, Taber, and Cailyn, although over the next few rounds, as they shifted about, their attack targets varied. The creatures could fly, but when they did so, the flapping of their wings caused them to become partly visible. Their precise pinpricks also applied a toxic substance that appeared to drain the strength of its victims. Both Taber and Cailyn were hurt quite badly, and Lekovi was knocked unconscious, followed soon after by Cailyn. Cailyn's Rhino and Taber fought on against several of the creatures, waiting for their compatriots to return.

While this was going on, River impacted a pile of acidic fungus below the leaf trap. Scorcher, flying in to rescue the warpriest, also was burned by the acidic spores, After applying a flying spell to River, Scorcher succumbed to his wounds and fell unconscious, but was soon healed by River. River, loaded down with gear, found it difficult to keep up with Scorcher, as the pair ascended to the action above.

Despite having knocked down one of the unseen creatures, Taber slumped to the ground from his wounds and died just as River and Scorcher re-entered the fray. River was well-armoured enough that the creatures had trouble harming him, but they were able to deal damage on occasion, and could hurt Scorcher. Still, the fight was over fairly quickly after River arrived, and things went quiet. After River had healed Lekovi and Caiyn back to consciousness, searching the area turned up a finger with a ring still on it tied to the trapped leaf. Neither Lekovi nor Scorcher were able to determine what the platinum ring with large emerald did, but were sure the magical aura was strong. The group then shook themselves awake, to rejoin Taber in the waking world. There, they found Taber had become afraid of heights.

16th Rova, midday
During most of the next day, Lekovi performed some further research, into their next target, the Skull of Ghoul Royalty. This required much reading through the volumes The Codex of Three Prescriptions, Manual of Silence, and The Unified Manual of Understanding. According to a folio regarding extraplanar undead, the ghouls of the Dreamlands were far more social— though no less wicked— than their bestial kin in the waking world. They had rich histories and large communities led by royalty. A discourse on the dread Plateau of Leng explained that a more powerful form of ghoul inhabited regions where the Dreamlands connect to Leng. These Leng ghouls are shrewder than their lesser kin. Lastly, Lekovi learnt a passphrase that would direct the Dreamlands Excursion ritual to travel to an underground location in the Dreamlands.

Later in the day, the barge was rocked by an impact. As the amnesiacs rushed out of the cabin, they found they were being assaulted by four River Giants. Two of them had hidden, crouched on a sandbank, and were now smashing the barge with great hammers. The other two were shadowed among the trees on the river's edge, rocks in hand.

Cailyn, Taber and River quickly rushed to the prow of the barge, and began attacking the giants in the river. Scorcher launched fireballs at the Giants on the shore, who retaliated by throwing boulders at him. Cailyn was soon knocked to the ground by the massive blows from the Giants in the river, while Taber and River avoided most of the blows, dealing harm to them. Lekovi assauted the minds of the creatures, while Scorcher continued to trade missiles with the giants on shore. River was soon required to fall back from the front lines to heal Scorcher, who jumped down behind the cabin to avoid further harm. The shore giants had also started wading towards the barge, and soon climbed up on the deck, just as their other kin were felled. After another short struggle, these two were also knocked down.

That night, the group again prepared to enter the Dreamlands.

View
Following in Footsteps

https://youtu.be/fe5E4FCEY7Y

6th Rova, Late morning
Turning to other areas of the Iris Hill mansion, the group descended into the rough hole dug under the carriage house. At the bottom, they found the hole opened out into a natural cavern. Inhabiting the cavern were two Elder Things. Thanks to a Comprehend Languages spell, a dialogue was started between the creatures and the group, and some explanations were made. The ancient creatures explained their nature, and their history, revealing they had arrived on Golarion millenia ago, during the Age of Serpents. They spoke about how they arrived here, in what would become Thrushmoor, in pursuit of their enemy, the Flying Polyps. The Polyps were the ones responsible for erecting the Star Stelae in Thrushmoor, and also, at a second site on Golarian, far to the south. An alliance of Serpentfolk sorcerers and priests and the Elder Things fought the Polyps here in Thrushmoor, eventually driving them off. These Elder Things had remained behind in hibernation while their kin left, in case the Polyps ever returned. After talking with the Things, food was brought to them, and they were left to rest and recover their strength, before they returned to the stars.

The amnesiacs next checked over the mansion again, ensuring they had not missed any information or loot. Finally satisfied, they took the trunk of books from the main bedroom back to the Sleepless Agency, and began researching Lowls journals for clues. After a solid day of research, Lekovi was able to determine that Lowls had spent considerable amounts of time and effort journeying through the Dreamlands, a vast and relatively stable section of the Dimension of Dreams. He learned some of the basic rules of that place from Lowls entries, and learned of his goals too – he planned to reach a mysterious hermit known as the Mad Poet. The Mad Poet had a reputation for being dangerous if not appeased, and Lowls had focused his investigations on how best to do so. Lekovi also learned that Lowls first destination had been a caravanserai in a vast Dreamlands desert. Here, he planned to talk with other dream travelers to gain information about how to locate and deal with the Mad Poet. Lastly, Lekovi was able to piece together the Dreamlands Excursion Ritual Lowls had used to travel to the Dreamlands, and how to use it to travel to the caravanserai.

Thinking it would be best to be protected while they undertook such a dangerous ritual, the group settled down in the Sleepless Agency, and tried it out. With some preparation, and the purchase of some materials, the group was able to rely on Scorcher and Lekovi to carry out the ritual with a high chance of success, and they did so. As they walked around the staircase, it enlarged, and dropped down below floor level. Walking down the staircase, the group emerged into a blindingly bright, hot waste, with a large building in front of them. Behind, there was no sign of the staircase any more.

The building appeared to have been long deserted. Through the large entrance (wide enough for pack animals), they could see no movement, and drifts of sand and tufts of weeds indicated abandonment. Also, the northeastern corner of the building appeared to have collapsed.

Moving inside, the group found entrances to the building to both sides of the front gate. They first checked the doors to their left, finding a collapsed corridor, and an abandoned guard station, with a barred door at the end. Behind this door, they found an ancient cell, and leaning against the wall was a rusty scimitar. Expecting trouble, Cailyn moved in, looking for traps. Finding nothing suspicious, she expectantly collected the scimitar, but nothing untoward happened. Returning to Lekovi and Scorcher, they were shocked to discover the weapon was a +1 Vorpal Scimitar…that such a valuable item should just be lying about was unbelievable!

Going back to the opposite door, they found a quietly cool, but well lit corridor, a twin of the collapsed corridor. It lead away to the west before turning a corner south. At the north edge of the corner was a doorway, with a tattered curtain hanging in it. The group approached the curtain, and upon entry, were greeted by a gaunt man with sunken cheeks. He straightened as the group entered, and enquired after their journey, and whether or not they needed supplies, although he bemoaned the lamentable state of his wares. Looking around, the group could see nothing but empty shelves. Taber also noticed that the man's robes appeared to trail off at the bottom into smoke, as though he were insubstantial. Lekovi, disconcerted, attempted to read the man's thoughts. The man resisted the intrusion, and started fighting the group.

The group found the man was indeed incorporeal, and difficult to harm. He was also easily able to fly through the solid walls that bottled the group up, and attack whom he pleased. The creature was also easily able to run it's hand through the solidest of the group's defences, it's chill group almost causing the hear of it's victim to stop. The touch also seemed to apply some sort of magical influence, that drained the mental strength of the victim. Several of the group became affected by this affliction. The fight ranged about the corridor, and eventually out into the open courtyard. The group was hard pressed, but eventually defeated the creature, at great cost in pain. Almost all of the group had suffered from the curse as well. The room they had found the creature in also turned out to contain a mighty treasure, casually hidden under a pile of rags – 5 enormous emeralds, and a magical gem of seeing.

A little shaken, the group returned to the corridor, and explored further south. The corridor contained several statues each holding a dry bowl, which appeared to have once been a fountain. In a mirror to the northern area, the corridor bent to the east, with a doorway in the south, a curtain covering the entrance. Parting the curtain revealed an elegant dining room, with a few plates and a pitcher stacked on a sideboard, all covered in dust. Fascinated by the pitcher, River advanced into the room to examine it. Several in the group then heard the sound of conspiratorial whispering, and after a short pause, a haunt triggered. Ghostly forms appeared throughout the dining hall, mimicking conversations of the past: a wealthy night hag with elaborately coiffed hair made imperious demands to human servants; three surly, turbaned humanoids conferred over a detailed image of the moon; and a group of hooded ghouls examined a human head made of terra cotta. Their voices grew in volume, and echoed in an overlapping, unintelligible cacophony, until several members of the group were overcome by feelings of discord, and turned on their allies. River, Cailyn's companion, and Lekovi, all attempted to harm their former friends. After a short struggle, the haunt was dispelled, and the afflicted amnesiacs calmed down.

During a short rest, River examined the pitcher again, and found it was indeed magical, and had the properties of a decanter of endless water.

Moving further along the eastern corridor, the group found another curtain-covered doorway, this time to the north, behind the courtyard. This room turned out to be a bathhouse, with two empty baths, and one filled with still, black liquid. Studiously avoiding the liquid, the group searched the rest of the room. Finding nothing of value, they turned to leave, but as they did so, the liquid suddenly boiled up out of the bath, revealing itself as an ooze-like creature. It expanded quickly to a large size, but it's tendrils whipped out and around up to a full twenty feet away from the creature.

Again, the group found this creature difficult to harm, and it appeared capable of healing itself. Several times, it engulfed and swallowed Taber and River. Despite them quickly cutting their way free, the holes in the creature closed up, and it swallowed another. Despite fighting hard, the creature eventually killed River, Cailyn and her pet, and Taber. Scorcher and Lekovi had also been badly injured, but were able to wake themselves up from the dream before dying.

Back in the basement of the Sleepless Agency, the group all found the wisdom Drain suffered in the Dreamlands had followed them out, and those who had died had become permanently mad. Realising they needed time to heal from these conditions, the group decided to move forward with their plan to travel by boat down the Sellen River towards the Qadiran city of Katheer, with a stop in Cassomir to find Lowls associate, Miacknian Munn.

7th Rova, Early morning
The group purchased some final supplies, and then went to the docks, looking for a captain and vessel they could take passage with. Upon arrival, they witnessed an exchange between an auburn-headed halfling woman, and a far man in an ill-fitting harbormaster's jerkin, about the way some cargo had been loaded onto the woman's vessel. Sensing opportunity, the group stepped in, and offered to help redistribute the load, in return for discussing passage. The woman introduced herself as Skywin Freeling, and happily accepted both the aid and the commission, reducing the group's fee if they promised to help defend the vessel. They agreed, and Skywing welcomed the group aboard her barge, the Sellen Starling. After the work redistributing the load of rare hardwood timbers, Skywin also introduced the group to her dozen crew, and two other paying passengers, Gossa Kelkin and Wreben Malliver, a pair of scholars returning to Cassomir after a sabbatical in Ustalav.

When the tide was right, the captain ordered the barge to push off. Being a shallow draft vessel, the Starling left Thrushmoor, and hugged the coast, running north east around the coast of Lake Encarthan, travelling towards the Glass River. The group spent the time healing their various mental injuries, with aid from River.

9th Rova, late afternoon
On the afternoon of the third day, the barge drew close to the town of Illmarsh. Captain Freeling let the crew know she did not intend to put in at the forsaken town, where no ship receives a friendly welcome. As if her words were a command, a chill fog rolled in off the lake, causing the crew to mutter darkly. The fog forced the Starling to hug the coast of Avalon Bay more closely than preferred, and in fact close enough to sight the dilapidated wharves of Illmarsh.

The amnesiacs, expecting trouble, were on deck, weapons ready. As the rotting timbers came into view, Cailyn and River saw cloaked figured on the wharves, about 200 feet away. The figures were passing a long, barbed chain from one wharf to the other, rendedring the jetties unapproachable by ship. Captain Freeling laughed at this, saying they hadn't planned on staying anyway. Lekovi and Taber spotted, about a quarter mile off in the fog behind the Starling, a longship with red sails. As soon as it was glimpsed, the ship was swallowed by the fog and lost to view. As everyone strained to see the vessel, a different threat presented itself…out of the mist suddeny swam a pack of Vooniths. They quickly swarmed up on board the barge, attacking the group, but despite their ferocity, were quickly dispatched.

14th Rova, evening
Finally feeling whole again, with all sign of mental illness  gone from the group(other than the normal), Lekovi again led them in performing the Dreamlands Excursion Ritual. Eager to avoid the Formless Spawn, the group entered the courtyard, and used a secret door at the back of a storage space they had spotted the first time, and explored the rest of the bottom floor of the caravanserai. They found the blocked off eastern corridor to be a mirror for the western, although this time with an actual door in the south wall, wedged open by a book. Pushing the door open, the room beyond proved to be some sort of office, with a low table and several dozen ledgers, and a steep staircase leading up.

The books proved to be quite brittle to the touch, crumbling at first handling. The books were filled with cramped handwriting in an unknown language, and even a comprehend language failed to decipher the writing. Taber and Lekovi, knowledgable on language, felt that whoever had written in these ledgers was illiterate, and was only mimicking written text.

Finding nothing of interest, the amnesiacs next climbed the stairs, finding they led into a tidy, sparsely but tastefully decorated, office. Framed paintings of several landscapes hung on the walls, including a many-spired city with marble walls and brass gates, a windswept waster beneath a distant, ominous mountain, and a gloomy port city constructed primarily of basalt.

Standing behind the desk in this room was a large man dressed in tattered yellow robes. He looked up in surprise at having visitors, quickly turning to an expression of delight. It was apparent that this man recognised the group, although when asked, he could not recall from where or when.

The man introduced himself as the Yellow King. His manner of speaking was a little addled, and full of large words. He spoke of various specialised subjects as though his audience were experts, and revealed himself to be no small expert on a number of esoteric subjects. When the group asked for further information on their goal, he said that he was desconstructed from a greater whole, and that the process could be reversed with the group. He advised that the group could retrace Lowls's steps to regain their memories and whole selves. The King could not call all of those steps, as it was 'after his time', but he knew the outcome – Lowls spoke with the omnious yet perspicacious prophet, the Mad Poet. The mad Poet had unimaginable power in the Dreamlands, but was fickle, and required a proper collection of gifts to placate and approach. The King also said that Lowls learned some truths from his time with the Mad Poet so mind-shattering, that it caused him to come into being. He deems it serendipitous he does not know what those truths are. The King lastly said that Lowls identified six or seven gifts to present to the Mad Poet, and that he recalled writing them down on the flyleaf of Dichotomous Translations of Aklo Syntax, although he couldn't recall what they were. He said Lowls had painstakingly scoured his tomes to research each gift, leadning where to find it in the Dreamlands and then dreaming of that location – he suggested the amnesiacs do likewise. Once they have their collection of gifts, if they return to him, he will lead them to the Mad Poet's oasis.

The group now awakened, and returned to the waking world. From here, they pored over Lowls's tomes, and found the list of gifts.
Viscount’s signet ring
Feline tail (blue and purple mottled fur)
Skull of ghoul royalty
Green stone idol of a water lizard
Night hag ambassador’s
heartstone
Captain’s tricorne
Red webbed foot

Further research into the books Monuments of the Forest, Tigers and Flies, and The Wise Harmony turned up information about the Feline Tail gift. According to a naturalist’s papers, felines with blue and purple tails are called pards, and they can be found the Dreamlands’ Enchanted Wood. One of Lowls’s diaries indicates his intent to seek the advice of zoogs, a race of intelligent rodent-like creatures native to the Enchanted Wood. Zoogs are carnivores and particularly enjoy feline flesh; Lowls assumed the zoogs would know where to find pards. Lekovi learned the proper phrase that allowed him to use the Dreamlands excursion occult ritual to reach the Enchanted Wood. They determined this would be their next exploration destination.
 

View
Cleanup, on Iris Hill

https://youtu.be/-NmzF9pj9Yk

Starday, 2nd of Rova, Early Evening

The amnesiacs arrange a ship to transport them to Caliphas, and leave immdiately.

Moonday, 4th of Rova, Early Morning

After arriving in the Ustalavic capital, the group visited the markets, to convert several items from their stash to currency, and then carried the body of River to the local temple of Sarenrae. They quickly arrange a revival and restoration, and almost immediately returned to the docks, to arrange passage back to Thrushmoor.

During the trip back, River was able to request a spell from Sarenrae to cure Lekovi’s Blindness.

Oathday, 6th of Rova, Dawn

Upon arrival in Thrushmoor, the group visited Winter and Cessadia to check on the situation in town. Both said that things had quieted down, and that the level of disappearances had certainly decreased, but that there were still a few people reported as going missing. The group then returned to Iris Hill.

They found the gates closed, but not locked, nor trapped. Inside the gatehouse, they found the bodies of several Kuru and cultists. All had died of various wounds, and been exsanguinated. River, taking no chances, decapitated each of the bodies to ensure they did not rise again.

The buildings all appeared to be in roughly the same condition as when the group had left. The windows on the top floor of the mansion were still open, the doors still closed on the buildings. A quick sweep of the outbuildings showed no change. Moving into the main building, the group moved cautiously through the areas they had not explored before, finding nothing living.

The rear-central portion, which was the main entrance, proved to contain a large collection of artworks and curios. Searching through everything here revealed little of monetary value, but several items of interest, including

  • Portraits in various artistic styles of the counts, their wives, and a few relatives and domestics wearing all kinds of expressions and outfits lined the walls. A portrait in a freestanding picture frame on a small tea table with a single chair features Lowls as a child (“Haserton at age 5, 4681 ar,” is written on the back of the frame) posing near a kitten at the foot of a luminous window, seemingly terrified. Fromt he artwork, Taber was able to deduce that the painter intentionally created a frightening situation for the child and then expended great efforts to seize his wide-eyed expression.
  • Marble busts of scholars from the Sincomakti School of Sciences, including three effigies of academically renowned ancestors of Lowls sit on small plinths. The sculptures with the Lowls name on their bases had been smashed against the floor and damaged.
  • Small-town perspectives of Thrushmoor and a half-dozen large paintings of the surrounding landscape hang here. The large pictures included a historic piece, in which the first settlers of Thrushmoor were shown living in two clusters of huts on low hills, hard at work to reclaim the surrounding land from the swamps. The three Star Stelae had been depicted almost as an afterthought. The picture also showed the Iris Hill Stelae, and that Iris Hill was originally shorter.
  • Statuettes of dragons, giants, and strange beasts littered the shelves. Among these was a poorly executed, 1-foot-tall, clay figurine of an elephant-legged, multimawed, tentacled aberration. Cailyn felt this creature looked eerily familiar, but neither she nor Lekovi could identify it.
  • Set on an ebony pedestal was a human skull that has been marked with elaborate carvings of geometric shapes and lines. Small, worked garnets were set in the teeth, and a thin line of silver ringed the eye sockets.
  • Porcelain and ceramic dishes, jugs, teapots, and vases, some of which were of excellent quality, were kept in a glass showcase. A small ceramic vial contained a silvery metallic dust. Lekovi found this to be magical, and was able to identify it as Dust of Appearance.
  • Worthless, bizarre, and sometimes grotesque souvenirs from across Ustalav and beyond were displayed here: coffee cups made from uncapped monkey skulls; a stuffed three-eyed bat; multicolor-dyed freshwater sponges; a mummified ogre’s ear; and more.
  • A battered shield hangs on a wall, bearing the device of Mendev. According to a plaque fixed under it, the shield belonged to Fassimar Lowls. The shield was a nonmagical heavy steel shield.

Lastly, and most prominently, a man encased in a field of amber light was discovered, facing the entryway. The man was dressed in similar well-to-do clothing to the other cultists the group had encountered. Lekovi and Scorcher were able to identify the amber field as the effects of a Sepia Snake Sigil.

The third room on the bottom floor of the house contained an impressive library – the entire room was lined with ceiling-high shelves, all laden to the brim with tomes, scrolls, and stacks of paper, sagging under the weight. Amber-coloured crystal lamps were fixed to the walls, with more on central tables and a desk.

The books in the room contained many widely known books on common areas of knowledge. Many related to matters within Ustalav, but others detailed subjects from throughout the Inner Sea region. Two crates near the fireplace contained several printed copies of two books written by Count Lowls – A History of the History of Versex and The Stars Are Not Among Us: An Undeniable Refutation of the Works of the Doomsaying Pseudo-Scholar Dr. Henri Meirtmane. On top of the crates was an envelope containing a letter signed by a Miacknian Munn, which had apparently accompanied a delivery of alchemical goods. In the letter, evidently answering a question posed by Lowls, Mun confirmed that “It seems that the Mad Poet you met in your dream journey was right. The book you seek, the Necronomicon, is located in a special collection called the Mysterium in the Qadiran city of Katheer, though it is written in Necril. If you can find a way to retrieve it and bring it to me, I can certainly help you translate and research it. I look forward to seeing you again, my old friend.”

Among the more mundane works were a number of research books regarding dreams and how to manipulate them. These books discuss methods by which an individual can choose to appear in someone else’s dream; one even includes an overview of the Dreamlands. Notes and marked pages indicate that Lowls was using dreams as a method of research, wherein he would project his consciousness into the Dreamlands to meet with people and creatures there. One such figure is someone he refers to as the Mad Poet, who offered to show him the way to a forgotten city in return for sacrificing his assistants’ minds.

A rug in the corner of the room was discovered to be hiding a locked trap door. The group decided to leave it locked while they checked the rest of the house.

Moving upstairs to the second floor, the group again found little had changed. The various bodies were still lying were they had fallen, although all proved to have been exsanguinated. The contents of most of the rooms were as they had been, except the personal effects had been cleared out of the northernmost room, which had originally contained the vat of vinegar.

The amnesiacs then moved upstairs to the attic, from the main bedroom. The stairs up seemed to have been unused for a very long time, as evidenced by the piled dust and cobwebs. The attic itself was a large open space, directly under the roof, 15’ tall along the roof line, with the beams, trusses and rafters visible in the dim light from a few dormer windows. Several crates were scattered around, and several ugly, fibrous plants in clay pots. The air smelled of dust, mold and decay.

The only inhabitant of the area appeared to be an old woman, dressed in shabby black dress and black veil. Even in the dim light, the woman was clearly not normal. Tentacular protrusions were visible, poking out from the dress, and one side of the woman’s face was clearly not human any more. The group recognised the woman as a physical version of the spirit manifestation they had encountered previously in town.

On seeing the group, the woman backed away, and shouted at them to leave her alone, and not look at her. She covered the unnatural side of her face with her arms, and backed away. River and Scorcher attempted to calm her down, but their efforts proved futile, and she soon lashed out at the group. The group reluctantly moved in, and surrounded her, but found that their blows were largely ineffectual. Her unnaturally rubbery flesh appeared to resist the attacks that did land.

The woman did fight back, but also found it difficult to harm anyone in the well-armoured group, especially after Lekovi applied a psychic effect that swapped around the input from her senses. Eventually, a blow was landed that knocked the woman out. Not knowing what else to do, the group restrained her unconscious form for later transport to Winter. A search of the room located a folding leather pouch hidden in one of the potted plants. The pouch was full of gems and jewellery.

Finished with the main part of the mansion, the group now returned to the trap door in the library, and descended into the depths of Iris Hill.

The trap door led to a set of stairs, which eventuall opened out into a wine cellar. The doors were locked, but Cailyn made short work of the locks. The shelves in the room were neatly stacked with glass and clay bottles, tiny kegs, decanters, mugs and crystal goblets.

A long corridor led out of the cellar, past a door, and ended in the centre of a wider cross hallway. The door, unlocked, led into a side room that appeared to have been used as a cell. Two heavy wooden pallets with manacles were present, but little else. The wider hallway walls were covered in tapestries, one of which had been defaced with another Yellow Sign of Hastur. A set of double doors were at one end of the hallway, while another corridor at the other end led into a smaller room, containing a coffin.

Cailyn went to the double doors, while River went to the room with the coffin. River saw the room was some sort of storage facility, but standing in the room was a rotund man, wearing a black coat, with a dead-looking expression on his face. He immediately moved to attack the group, and River and the others were filled with a sense of gloom and repulsion. The man reached out and touched River, draining some of his life essence, and revealing itself as some form of unliving monstrosity.

Taber and the two spellcasters moved to support River, Scorcher opening by launching a Fireball into the room behind the creature, destroying most of the room’s contents, and setting the rest ablaze. Lekovi attempted to interfere with the creature’s attacks unsuccessfully, while Taber and River pounded on the creature.

As the rest of the group engaged the creature, Cailyn continued checking the door she was beside, and detected a sound of movement behind it. Fearing ambush from another quarter, she threw the door open, and found a humanoid dressed in Qadiran-style elaborate clothing, with turned-up toes on her boots, and a hood and face covering. Something about the woman did not seem to be human, as she had talon-like nails, and something about her shape under the clothing just…seemed wrong. Cailyn made her companions aware of the danger, and moved to engage, but was surprised when the woman bit him, draining some of the speed from her limbs. Lekovi looked, and identified the creature as a Denizen of Leng, and extraplanar near-humanoid from the otherworldly domain of Leng, a place rumoured to be found only in a dimension of dreams.

As the rest of the group finished off the rotund undead creature, they moved down to assist Cailyn in fighting off the Denizen of Leng, who proved a tough opponent, but was soon slain. As she died, her body disappeared, along with her clothing and possessions.

Further exploration showed that the room the Denizen of Leng had inhabited was a crypt. The walls were decorated throughout with finely wrought Pharasmin symbols, culminating in a seven-foot-high bas-relief of the goddess’ face on the southern wall. Seven sarophagi were arranged around the room, and dozens of burial recesses riddled the walls. Three of the sarcophagi were uncovered. The recently-dead body of a woman in rich clothing lay on one of the sealed sarcophagi, with a strange device attached to her. Cailyn recognised the woman as the missing royal accuser, Omari. Lekovi was able to identify the device as Confabulation Plates, which would allow communication with a dead person or plant. The group activated the plates, and confirmed Omari had not had time to gather any evidence against the Count, and that she had been slain at the fort.

Searching the crypt turned up a number of long-dead ancestors and servants of the Lowls family. Inside one of the crypts was a longsword, that turned out to be magically enchanted. As well as being enhanced, it glowed with a pale purple light when picked up. Cailyn was also able to determine that the large bas-relief sculpture of Pharasma was designed to swing out of the way, revealing a staircase descending further into the hill.

The group went back to the earlier areas first, and continued exploring the former storage area. Although the contents had been mostly destroyed by the earlier fireball, a melted lump of silver was located amongst the wreckage. A length corridor stretched east, and another north from this area. The eastern corridor ended at a well. The northern corridor ended at an ice cellar. Despite earlier caution, the group failed to notice a glyph of warding placed on the corridor leading to the ice cellar, and set it off, harming River and Cailyn. A ladder from the ice cellar led up to the kitchen.

Backtracking to the crypt, the amnesiacs descended to the lowest level of Iris Hill. The staircase opened onto a short corridor, which then ended at a much longer cross corridor. The northern end led into a circular chamber, and the southern end led into a large rectangular chamber. Moving first to the north, the group found the third of the Thrushmoor Star Stelae, standing on a platform of natural bedrock. Unlike the other two Stelae, this one was glowing with a pale, yellow light. Blood stains, old and new, and bloodless body parts marred the floor surrounding the monument. Despite the gore not being fresh, the room stank strongly of blood. The remains showed that, clearly, a large number of people had been killed in this room over a lengthy period of time. This was likely the resting place of the missing people from the town.

Moving back to the southern end of the corridor, stepping into the large rectangular chamber immediately set off another glyph of warding. The room itself resembled the courtyard of an ancient, subterranean palace, with columns supporting a 30-foot-high cloister dome. In the middle of the floor, a tile mosaic of the Yellow Sign emitted a thing, yellow vapor that filled the room with a faint odoyr of chrysanthemums. The vapour rose to the concave dome of the vaule, through which an image of the minarets, towers and spires of a mysterious city silhouetted against a yellow sky could be seen. The image swayed softly with a slow alternation of light and darkness, to the sound of invisible pipes and strings. At the far end of the chamber, a marble throne sat within a semicircular apse. A floor to ceiling band of gilded mosaics decorated the walls, depicting a fantastic urban landscape populated by figures in flowing robes and full-face masks.

As strange and fantastic a sight as this was, the room was also deserted. A search of the room revealed little else, although stashed behind the throne was an ancient book, written in Aklo. Lekovi recognised the 10 pound, 500 page book as a copy of the Pnakotic Manuscripts.

At this point, the group feel they have reached the end of a stage of their journey, and must prepare for their next steps. Perhaps reflection and research would provide some clues as to what those steps should be.

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Assault on Iris Hill

Assault on Iris Hill

https://youtu.be/gNz36hda25k

Starday, 2nd of Rova, Late Morning

The amnesiacs strode boldly across the grounds of Iris Hill, planning to investigate the outbuildings before moving onto the mansion itself. They visited the closest building on the left first, which turned out to be guest quarters, followed by the stables beside it, a bathhouse across the grounds, and then the kitchens and servants quarters beside the main house.

Entering the guest quarters, the group is surprised to find a well-dressed couple, seated at a table, sipping wine. The pair, although clearly not expecting company, greet the group, and invite them to join them in drinks. When River remains hostile, the young woman resorts to quickly casting a Suggestion spell upon him, suggesting he leave the grounds. As River turned and exited the building, the rest of the group swarmed in and efficiently slaughtered the pair. A search of the building turned up a trunk, locked with keys found on the male from downstairs. Cailyn unlocked and opened the trunk, and a magical trap exploded, leaving Cailyn shocked but still walking. Inside the trunk were discovered two dozen nobles' outfits, a dozen bottles of wine, and a box of jewelry.

The next building around was clearly a set of stables. The group split as they approached, some going through the main front doors, and others through the side door. Cailyn, moving towards the side door, walked through an area strewn with dirty straw. With no sign of a source, the sounds of a horse whinnying became audible. Everyone stopped to see what was happening, and a spectral horse attempted to run through Cailyn, but she nimbly stepped out of the way. After this manifestation, Cailyn searched the straw, and discovered blood stains throughout the straw, and a filthy, bloodstained meat cleaver underneath. The cleaver was taken out and blessed, and the group felt the presence had been cleansed.

Inside the stables, the group discovered a recently-dug hole. Shining lights down the hole, it became clear that it was a shaft leading straight down into the ceiling of a large cavern. Deciding it was better to clear the rest of the building first, the group moved upstairs.

A door at the top of the stairs led into a bedroom. In the centre of the room was what appeared to be a man-sized pitcher plant. As the group examined the plant, it expelled a cloud of spores, and several of the group felt strangely light-headed, and unsure of what they were doing, and began hallucinating. Scorcher felt as though he were melting, and tried to hold his body together. River felt as though he had shrunk to a tenth of his normal size. The rest of the group moved as quickly as possible to cut down the plant. As they did, the creature lashed out with tendrils, dispensing more of the spores on anything it hit. Luckily, none of the rest of the amnesiacs fell under the influence of the spores, and Scorcher was able to fight off the effects quickly. The carnivorous plant was eventually destroyed.

Searching the bedroom, and the lounge next door, turned up several interesting items, including a shrine with incense and a ledger. Behind the shrine was a tapestry, draped to conceal a yellow sign, daubed on the wall in ochre.

As Cailyn opened the ledger, a magical, transluscent serpent attempted to bite her, but she was able to dodge the attack. Lekovi identified this effect as a Sepia Snake Sigil spell. The ledger proved to contain records of many transactions for the manor house. Most interesting were the recent firing of all of the former house servants, and the purchase of slaves from a vendor named Weralai. There was also information about a purchase of a large number of books several months prior, including such titles as Argument Against Reality, Delusion: A Pact with Sanity, Esoteric Delves into the Waking Mind, and Mystical Sites of Eastern Casmaron.

From here, the group decided to leave the hole in the stable unexplored for now, and moved on. The building across the grounds was a bathhouse, and a quick magical search turned up several bars of enchanted soul soap.

Back across to the last and largest outbuilding, the amnesiacs found a kitchen, being used in only the most basic manner by a group of Kuru tribesmen. Taber rushed in to face this threat. Reacting almost as quickly, and eager to use his new abilities, Scorcher launched a fireball into the room, injuring most of the Kuru, and burning Taber as well. The others moved in, and helped mop up the few surviving cannibal tribesmen.

Little of value was found in the kitchen or pantry, and the evidence was that most of the food in storage had been allowed to rot. Evidence of several questionable types of meat were found throughout the kitchen. The servant's quarters on the floor above proved empty, and so the group moved onto the main building next door.

Using the closest entrance to the kitchens, on the northern wing of the mansion, the group entered a dining room, where several well-dressed cultists were seated. They quickly drew weapons, and Taber rushed to block them in. Echoing the events in the kitchen, Scorcher again unleashed a ball of fire, again singing Taber. Despite there being a number of the cultists, thr group were now used to their tricks, and quickly dispatched them.

Rather than moving on to the rest of the bottom floor, the group used a set of stairs leading up from the dining room into a sitting room. As Cailyn stepped into this area, she and others in the group heard what sounded like a quiet snickering. As the group tried to determine what this threat was, a large transparent creature attacked Cailyn, and wrapped tendrils around her. The tendrils were covered in sharp tubes that drew blood out of Cailyn. As the blood flowed into the creature, it became visible, the transparent organs circulating and containing the fresh blood revealing a terrifying, floating, writhing mass of tentacles around a fanged maw, similar to a flying squid or octopus. Identifying the thing as an aberration, Cailyn let it have her arm, and proceeded to tear into it with her claws. Taber and River stepped in to assist, and the creature was shortly slain.

A door led from the sitting room, to a spinal corridor running from the northern to southern wing of the house, many doors and windows on either side, and a marble wash basin at the near end. Taber, taking the lead, could hear creatures scampering somewhere out of sight, under the floorboards.

While concentrating on the sound, Taber also noticed that all of the windows in the corridor were closed, and the shutters nailed shut. Recalling their visit from the penanggalen the previous night, Taber began tearing the nails out, and wrenching the shutters open, to let fresh sunshine wash through the corridor.

Three doors opened from the corridor to the west, and each opened onto a bedroom. In the closest one, the group discovered a large wooden vat, apparently containing vinegar, based on the smell coming from it. Again reminded of the penanggalen, Taber continued wrenching open the windows in the room, while River smashed the vat, emptying the vinegar onto the floor.

A more detailed search turned up five glass vials and a notebook on the bedside table. The glass vials each contained sticky residue of a chemical. The notebook contained a lengthy series of notes about his suspicions that Ulver Zandalus was the key to discovering Neruzavin, the lost city in Casmaron that holds three Star Stelae similar to those in Thrushmoor. The last entries in the notebook contain data on each of the amnesiacs, identified by name and accurate details of race, gender, height, and weight. Several scrolls and other items were recovered as well.

The next bedroom along contained little more than several valuable items, including a pearl of power, and a stone of alarm.

The third and last bedroom to the west appeared to have once belonged to a child. The majority of the room was covered in dust, save a single chair in the middle of the floor.

A door at the end of the hallway showed stairs down to the first floor.

Across the hallway from the last bedroom was found what appeared to be the main bedroom of the house. Containing a sumptuous four-posted bed, it was decorated in pseudo-Qadiran style, with intricate patterns carved in the wood paneling, and the bed had a minaret-like canopy. The room also contained an ebony writing desk, and an L-shaped armoire. Doors led to a private study, and stairs up. A quick exploration while Taber wrenched open all of the windows revealed several things of interest.

On the study desk was a collection of notes and books, which would take time to sort through, but there was mention of Ulver Zandalaus and Briarstone Asylum. Amongst the collection was a slim red spellbook (containing the wizard spells blindness/deafness, dancing lights, detect thoughts, eagle’s splendor, expeditious retreat, gust of wind, hypnotism, illusory wall, mirror image, owl’s wisdom, protection from good, and shield).

A small, lockable trunk was also found near the door to the sudy, inside of which were a large number of esoteric books, and several other items. The titles of the books included Atop the Valley’s Soul, The Codex of Three Prescriptions, Curses of the Black Lake, Dichotomous Translations of Aklo Syntax, Elements Through the Spirals of Time, Emotions of the Past, The Falling Silk, Festival of the Snake, The Forgotten Servants, The Illusion of the Weeping Ones, In Admiration of Keeping Pacts, Manual of Silence, Men and Vultures: Denizens of the Darkened Depths and Dead Skies, Monuments of the Forest, The Shadow’s Ship, Shards of Sight, Spiders of Sin and Sky, Theological Agreements of the Kingdom, Tigers and Flies, The Unified Manual of Understanding, Voyage of the Rainbow Servant, and The Wise Harmony.

Feeling that they had exhausted a large portion of their resources, the amnesiacs decided to barricade the bedroom, and rest and recover.

Starday, 2nd of Rova, Late Afternoon

While Scorcher and River slept soundly, Taber meditated, and Cailyn and Lekovi kept watch while they began sorting through the documents from the study. They found the following.

A notebook held an account of Lowls’s interviews with Ulver Zandalus, which took place in Briarstone Asylum. Though Zandalus was mute, Lowls would interview him while he drew his charcoal drawings of the mysterious city, and during the process details would emerge which Lowls would interpret. In later interviews, Count Lowls made use of magic to read the man’s thoughts. Through this process, Lowls was able to learn about a distant lost city in some nameless desert that reportedly featured three Star Stelae, identical in shape and arrangement to those in Thrushmoor. In the last pages of the notebook, Lowls stopped relating what he learned from his interviews with Ulver, and began writing with maniacal fervor about his obsession with the city and his belief that its discovery alone could repair his academic reputation.

An annotated map showed Lake Encarthan and the lands to the south. The count had drawn a route from Thrushmoor to Xer, traced a line down the Sellen River to Cassomir, and then marked the coast to Katheer.

A draft of the equipment, supplies, and number of slaves the count planned to purchase for the final leg of the expedition was found scribbled on a piece of parchment.

As the shadows began to lengthen towards twilight, the observant sentries heard the sounds of quiet voices beneath them. Thinking quickly, Lekovi used Detect Magic to scan below for any sources of dweomer, and discerned a source of moderate magic. Picking this emanation source as his target, he attempted to read the thoughts of the manifester, and immediately felt a backlash of razor-sharpness from the alien mind he touched. Stunned, he reeled, finding he had taken physical damage from the mental assault.

Hoping to still allow the two sleeping casters to recover the spells, Cailyn prepared to climb out the window, and down to the bottom floor. Taber, alert for trouble, noticed what seemed to be a small heat shimmer in one corner of the ceiling, and pointed it out to the others. Cailyn recognised this distortion as a scrying sensor. As they discussed what action to take next, a number of loud footfalls were heard on the stairs from below. As they reached the door to the hallway, and found it locked, the group heard the loud thuds of axes striking the door. Realising they were about to be assaulted, Scorcher and River were woken, and began quickly preparing themselves for a fight. River threw on a spare chain shirt, deciding he did not have the time to don his full plate. Scorcher cast several prepatory spells, as the axes continued to fall on the outer door. When that door fell, the footsteps moved outside the bedroom door, and it too began to shudder under axe blows.

As everyone concentrated on the door, Scorcher was suddenly attacked by a gaunt hound that appeared from thin air, floating in the air over him. The thing tore into him with frightening speed from above, a whirl of claws and teeth.

A fierce battle ensued from this point, eventually involving half a dozen cultists, two different spellcasters (one of which escaped), the hovering, swift creature, and another winged beast. All bar one of the enemy were felled, but in the process, Lekovi was struck permanently blind, Flack was cut down, and Flowing River was killed outright due to precise strikes from the last pair of cultists.

Taber, Scorcher, Cailyn and Lekovi quickly gathered the spoils of the battle, and fled the mansion, planning to once again travel to Caliphas for healing.

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Over the Hedge
...and over the hill

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Fireday, 1st of Rova, an hour before Sundown

Having returned from Caliphas, the group headed first to see Winter. Along the way to the New Chapel, most of the group noticed they were being stalked by a group of cultists. The cultists immediately attacked with their rapiers. During the ensuring fight, several of the cultists demonstrated an ability to channel negative energy to harm, dealing out damage to all in range. The cultists also worked to minimise the effects of Lekovi and Scorcher's spells, attempting to interrupt them several times.  Regardless, the combination of Taber's hard-hitting fists, Cailyn's claws, and River's axe defeated all of the cultists, after which River finished off the few survivors.

Continuing with their original plan, the amnesiacs moved on to the New Chapel. Along the way, they noted that, unlike the last time they had been in Thrushmoor, the people were staying indoors at night, with their doors and shutters securely sealed. Nobody was on the streets now that the sun was down.

Talking to Winter confirmed that life in the town had taken a turn for the worse in the last few days. Now that it was public knowledge that the fort was empty, and that there were no magistrates or watch in town, justice and society had started to deteriorate. People were afraid, and many had approached Winter, telling her about more missing family members. She provided them with a list of at least 20 missing people.

Ready to retire for the night, Cailyn suggested they visibly stay at the fort, to help give the town a sense of normality and structure again. As the group moved through the streets, they were confronted by a very strange sight – what appeared to be the spectral form of an old woman stepped around a corner ahead of them, and approached the group, mumbling something unintelligible. As the group watched, they realised whatever this apparition was, this was no ordinary woman – she appeared to have tendrils and uncanny growths growing from her body. Lekovi recognised the intangibility as a spell effect he could not recall, rather than a natural ability. He also believed this woman to be a human, corrupted by exposure to eldritch things.

Scorcher waited to see what would happen, while Cailyn and River tried to speak to the woman. She ambled closer, and her mumbling became more audible, but not much more intelligible. She was saying something about someone always being a good boy, then approaching close to River, passed one of her tendrils through River's form. River immediately felt some of his force of personality drain away, and felt flat.

The group now sprang into action, but found that, not only was this person incorporeal, something was resisting all of the magical damage they were dealing to it, while it drained the peronsality of anyone it touched. Taber was able to move around behind the creature, and some of his electrical damage was able to affect the apparition, despite the rest of his blows not affecting her at all, and he was able to dodge her touches. Scorcher managed to land a solid hit with a magic missile, but missed with a Scorching Ray. Lekovi began firing magic missiles from a wand at the creature. River and Cailyn both could not seem to harm the creature, until Cailyn, feeling the aura of unnaturalness, realied that perhaps the abberant nature of the creature required something aligned with the forces of Law to harm it. River applied a magical oil to his battleaxe, and on his next blow, the spectral figure discorporated.

Although glad the creature was gone, the group did not feel that this was the last they had seen of the woman. In the aftermath, Taber sketched a likeness of the woman, in the hopes someone might recognise her.

The group continued to the fort, and healed their wounds as they could. They found the fort had largely been ransacked, with all of the furniture destroyed or stolen, and interior doors smashed down. The group bedded down for the night in the donjon. In an effort to make it clear the fort was occupied once more, and in hopes of sending a message of stability to the town, fires were lit on the roof.

Starday, 2nd of Rova, 2 hours before Sunrise

Taber, not requiring much sleep any more thanks to his disciplined control of hid body, stood watch for most of the night atop the roof, while his companions rested in the donjon above. Scant hours before sunrise, he heard a noise out in the darkness. Moving his Dancing Lights to illuminate the area, Taber saw a horrifying sight – what appeared to be a human female head, attached to a set of human internal organs, floating around the fortress. Upon seeing the lights, the thing spoke magical words, and disappeared. Once Taber had woken some of the others, and did his best to draw and give impressions of what he had seen, Lekovi was able to identify the creature as a penanggalen, a horrific type of vampire that spends it's days appearing to be a mortal human, but at night, it's head and entrails separate from the rest of the body. Lekovi was also able to determine from Taber's impressions that the creature had actually cast an invisibility spell, rather than use any sort of innate magic. This also triggered a memory in Lekovi about how the penanggalen inherits most of the capabilities of it's original host, and adds the supernatural abilities to them. Cailyn was also able to determine from Flack that the creature smelled strongly of vinegar.

Not seeing any further indication of the creature returning, everyone but Taber went back to sleep.

Starday, 2nd of Rova, Late Morning

The next morning, the group went to the Sleepless Building first. They found the building busy, with a large number of townsfolk waiting in and around the parlour. Some of the people sported injuries, others simply looked distraught. Either way, there was a definite air of fear and despondence about them, and others the group had seen.

After a short wait, Cessadia ushered the group into her office. Apologising profusely for making them wait, she explained that over the last few days, more and more people had begun approaching her offices for law-keeping services. She had assigned her agents to the most urgent and violent cases, but her resources were overstretched. She also mentioned she had a list of thirty people reporting missing family members – mothers, fathers, sisters, husbands, sons, daughters, wives, brothers. Comparing lists with the one provided by Winter the previous day, the group were able to cross off some duplicates, but there were still at least forty people missing, and those were only the ones reported.

The group promised to do something about the situation, with River championing the idea of going to Iris Hill and storming the place. Taber showed Cessadia his sketch of the strange apparition they had faced the night before, and she surprisingly identified her as looking like Nemira Lowls, although Cessadia also reminded the group that she had reportedly died of the same affliction that had killed Count Haserton Lowls III, the father of the current  Count.

Next, the amnesiacs headed to the High Market, to purhcase some supplies. River and Cailyn went looking for more Oils of Align Weapon, and for other similar options. Lekovi, worried about Vampires, went looking for an armoured neck collar.

Taber approached townspeople around the markets, and showed them the face from his sketch of the penanggalen. He was able to find several individuals who recognised the person. They told Taber that the woman was an out-of-towner, and that they had seen her walking around the northwestern areas of town.

The amnesiacs were also approached by a number of townspeople, begging them to help find their missing family members. The group promsied to do what they could.

River finally convinced the rest of the group that the heart of the matter was at Iris Hill, and that they should storm into the place. Initially approaching the property from the rear, the group watched for a short while from the abandoned stables behind the Hill. Seeing no sign of movement, they moved down, and decided to make their way through the hedge near the gatehouse.

As Cailyn attempted to look for traps on the main gate, she heard voices talking inside the gatehouse. 'Did you hear something?' was answered in an unknown language. The observation hole in the gate slid open, and a man asked Cailyn her business here. Cailyn responded with a story of the Count being declared an enemy of the state, and that he had been executed. Cailyn was here to clean out the manor. The man snorted in contempt and told Cailyn to leave, or action would be taken, slamming the port shut.

Cailyn promptly climbed noisily up onto the gatehouse, trying to gain the attention of those inside. Scorcher, Flack and River clambered their way through the hedge, while Lekovi attempted to climb over it. Lekovi found hedge does not provide much in the way of handholds. Taber waited to see what would happen.

From her vantage point on top of the gatehouse, bow in hands, Cailyn saw several shaped topiary hedges separate themselves from the main hedge, and she identified them as Living Topiaries. As she fired a shot at them, the trio stepped into the closest hedge, and stepped out of the hedge beside the rest of the group.

As River and Scorcher began fending off these creatures, Scorcher with his claws extended, the front gates opened, and three humanoids, dressed in primitive clothing, and wielding wicked battle axes, charged out at Taber and Lekovi. Although they mostly looked human, these raging warriors had eyes that glowed the colour of wet blood, and their teeth appeared to have been filed to sharp points.

Taber flew into action, and began beating them to pulps. Behind the ragers, Lekovi spied another of the cultists, and immedatiely applied his paranoia spell to him. From that point, the frightened cultist began pumping out bursts of negative energy, heedless of those around him that had been allies.

One of the barbaric thugs concentrated on Lekovi, landing several mighty blows. The creatures were also trying to attack with their teeth, and Lekovi's foe managed to draw blood. Lekovi saw that, as the creature licked the blood from his mouth, he looked a little stronger. Taber, meanwhile, having crushed the pair facing him, rescued Lekovi from the one pressing him, with assistance from Cailyn, who had dropped off the roof.

On the other side of the hedge, River's armour was proof against any harm the Topiaries were able to hand out, and River slowly hacked one of the creatures down with his axe, despite it trying to heal itself by consuming the hedge. Unable to harm River, the other Topiaries concentrated their attacks on Scorcher and Flack. Flack was eventually badly wounded, and had to withdraw. Scorcher continued to lay around him with his claws, until Cailyn called out to try fire against the plant creatures. Scorcher's eyes cleared briefly of the red haze, and he stepped back, summoning magical fire. The fire flew forth, engulfing River and the beasts, felling one and severly injuring the other enough that River was then able to finish it off.

Not immediately pressed by other foes, the amnesiacs looted the bodies, and then dragged them into the hedge to conceal them, and spent some time in the gatehouse healing their injuries, leaving them fresh for whatever Iris Hill had to offer next.

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