Episode 34: Behind Enemy Lines
Battered and exhausted from his battle with the Fist of the North Wind, and overwhelmed by the revelations surrounding his ancestry, Ara retreated to relative privacy for a time to rest. As he did so he reflected on recent events, and the thought came to him that sheer number of coincidences that the party had experienced since coming together simply beggared belief, and he began to wonder if there wasn’t some power or influence guiding the group’s fate.
Meanwhile, with Stu and the Residium safely removed from the material plane and Magnus freed of his connection to the necromancer Banu, the party turned their thoughts to the Dragonhead coin and the blue-skinned tiefling woman who stole it from them.
Before she was willing to go, Yuna wanted to know more about the visions of “Handsome” Henry Smalls and how he seemed to be appearing whenever Keen slept. Though he was reluctant to discuss it, Keen eventually admitted that the vision was a recurring nightmare he had been having since shortly after their encounter with the first shard of the heart of Bahamut. Yuna noted that a core belief of Bahamut worship was that reality was literally created by the imagination of the Gods, and she speculated that perhaps a fragment of this power was now affecting Keen since the shard had somehow been drawn into his body and absorbed.
Levani realized that with each occurrence the visions were becoming more real, and was worried that the next one could prove deadly for everyone. Since it wasn’t practical that Keen never sleep, the party decided that Keen should wear the Ring of Bliss before sleeping. A somewhat whimsical artefact won by solving a faerie dragon’s puzzle, the Ring of Bliss drastically reduces the wear’s intelligence and instills feelings of pure happiness. The party hoped that its effects would prevent Keen from experiencing nightmares. Keen initially resisted, until it was pointed out that his other option was the Hat of True Frog.
Ara completed his rest, and together the party decided to try to use the power of their residium binding to follow the tiefling woman. The teleportation circle she used to escape seemed to suggest the city of Uman, and as they discussed the city Magnus shared that his true name having been restored to him along with the rest of his memory, was Magnus Pashtum, and he was in fact a member of one of the seven merchant houses that ruled Uman, but that he had left the city to seek his own path more than 400 years ago.
In the end, the party tried multiple times to teleport to the tiefling woman’s location, but with Magnus never having seen her he was unable to target her and the spell failed. Turning their attention to at least getting out of the Underdark they tried again, and selected a target they were all familiar with: Whitebridge. The town had been abandoned when last they made their way through it, so they reasoned it would be a safe place to regroup.
The spell succeeded, and in an instant the party found themselves standing on the steps of the temple. To their surprise however they found the Temple sacked, the city burning, and goblinoid hordes running loose in the streets.
They quickly ducked inside the temple to hide, but found three hobgoblin captains ransacking it. Thanks to Levani’s deceptions and Keen’s stealth they quickly dispatched all three without allowing them to alert the rest of the town. Yuna and Magnus examined the bodies of the three hobgoblins, and found a sliver of residium crystal in each. Yuna concluded that whatever process was being used to create this hybrids, merging goblins and other races, it must have been a process the goblins had worked out on their own; it lacked the subtley and expertise of the refined residium binding the party had been subjected to, which Yuna now believes must have been taught to the goblins for a specific purpose.
Keen and Yuna searched the temple for hiding places or other exits, and found Ambriel, a young elf and temple acolyte hidden in the basement. From him they learned that the goblin horde had attacked Whitebridge a few days ago. Fortunately the city had been forewarned thanks to the efforts of Jules, a rogue the party had met when escaping Greencrack Copper Mine north of Whitebridge months before. Jules had warned the townsfolk of the impending attack, and together they decided to flee to the town of Long Drop, which accounted for the town being deserted when the party has passed through it on their way to the Stone Forest.
Ambriel recognized Ara, naming him the Shield of Whitebridge, and beseeched him to defeat the hobgoblins and liberate the town. Unsure of their next move, the party decided at least to protect Ambriel by having him wear the Hat of True Frog and stowing him safely in Yuna’s pack.
To do this, they first had to release Skaggit, the last druid of the Black Tack goblin tribe, upon whom they had previously placed the hat. Still disguised as a goblin, Levani released Skaggit outside the temple and away from the party so the goblin would not know the party was nearby. Skaggit was deceived, and as the confused but liberated druid ran off to sack Anthol’s Arcana, Levani rejoined her companions in the basement of the Temple of Syf.
The party was safe for the moment, but with their teleport spell expended until the next dawn they were trapped inside an occupied town, surrounded by an entire horde of goblins, hobgoblins, and who knows what else. They faced a difficult choice: fight the goblins and liberate Whitebridge, or stay hidden long enough to attempt to teleport to safety, and leave the town to its fate?
Gobin Hordes Discovered: 1
Prescription Sleep Aid: Inspired
Fast Travel Rating: Buggy
Vestments Saved: Blue
RP Rating: Awesome!