They came in and immediately in front of them was a large machine of some kind. There was a redcap and a madcap on top of it. They looked like they were repairing it. Around the topside of the machine, two bird-like creatures appeared. They were in a deep conversation. They halted when they saw the group. The larger of the two waved in the group’s direction as if telling them to remain where they were.
“What a deal! Patience is a virtue! Can’t keep the boss waiting!” He runs off into one of the trash structures.
It had spoken to them with a heavy duergar accent but it was in Common.
“Kenku,” said Nym.
Moments later he returns, leading a tall creature wearing a long, tattered shift covered in mud, blood, mold, and worse. The hag’s eyes seem to move independently of each other as she approaches, her straggly brown hair hanging in front of them. Resting on each shoulder are red-eyed ravens that scrutinize your group. Behind her, a hulking creature built of disparate fiendish parts trudges, moaning and hopping as it walks. Then both of the hag’s eyes focus keenly on your group, and on Lulu specifically. “My goodness!” the hag croaks, spittle dribbling from her mouth. “Where did you find such a treasure?”
Calmers steps forward says that this “treasure” is our friend Lulu. Raising the shield Calmers continues: “We were told by the Shield of the Hidden Lord that you may be able to help us.
The hag replied “I may be able to assist. But first what is it that you need help with?
Calmers pointed back to Elturel floating above. We are trying to return Elturel to its home on the prime plain. Any assistance you can give would be beneficial.
Maggie thinks for a moment and says that is beyond my powers, as great as they are. Still, I may be able to help if you had something more specific in mind.
We are looking for the Wandering Emporium for one. Maggie said I could divine where it is but there is no guarantee that it will be there once you arrive. Mahadi is even more flighty than I am and when he is ready to leave an area. He does so at a moment’s notice.
Calmers, Jazulon, and Tharja spoke at almost the same. They said that their friend Lulu had lost her memories and those memories may hold the keys to returning Elturel.
Maggie stroked her hairy, wart-covered chin for a moment and then finally spoke.
“I can help you. I have a machine that along with my ritual magaicks will be able to recover Lulu’s lost memories. There is just one problem: The machine doesn’t work. It’s missing four key components that make it do what it needs to be able to do. Find these components and with the dream machine and the ritual I should be able to recover Lulu’s lost memories.
The components are: a nirvanan cogbox, a heartstone, Phlegethosian sand, and focusing lenses of Stygian Ice.
The heartstone immediately gave off alarm bells for both Lulach and Tharja. They knew that a heartstone was used by hags to enter people’s dreams. Heartstones were one of a hag’s most personal possessions and she had either lost it or it had been stolen. They passed this information onto the others.
Jockrates remembered that nirvanan cogboxes were found on Mechanus an Outer Plane in the Great Wheel cosmology representing the alignment of lawful neutral and home of the Modrons. Lulach said that a nirvanan cogbox was more than likely the literal heart of a Modron.
(See handout in roll20 on Modrons for more info on them)
Modrons occasionally go on a pilgrimage across the outer planes (“The Great Modron March”), and quite often groups of them get lost. So it is likely that there are Modron on Avernus somewhere.
(I do not remember who knew what Phlegethosian sand was) They remembered that Phlegethosian sand was Obsidian sand pounded from the jagged, rocky plains of Phlegethos, the fourth layer of Hell. Lulu said that she remembered that the Wandering Emporium sells almost anything. They may be able to find some of the sand there. They still needed to find the Emporium. They decided to ask Maggie if she would divine its location.
She cut herself and blood dripped to the ground. She said take down this information. She gave them coordinates as if she knew that they had a map. She gave them directions and landmarks to look for on their way. She gave them an approximate time on getting there. If they were walking it would take at least 4 hours. If they had access to an infernal machine it would take an hour.
Tharja thought that the strange machine had to be an infernal machine but she wanted to be sure so she asked. It was an infernal machine specifically a Demon Grinder - a bulky, armored coach that rumbles loudly as it crushes obstacles and enemies in its path with the help of a swinging wrecking ball. Iron jaws are mounted on the front of the vehicle, which handles like a garbage truck.
(I will add a handout for the infernal machines in roll20 soon)
Calmers knew he had heard of focusing lenses of Stygian ice but he could not place it at first. Then it suddenly dawned on him. They were sometimes used as optics in warforged. In fact, he may have them himself but as he did not know his schematics and had been trying for years to get them, he was not completely sure. He told them if needed, he would give up his optics. Tharja said we should at least try to find out if that is what you use as your eyes before we remove them. Calmers agreed. Megan asked if Stygian meant that they were from Stygia one of the layers of Hell?
Calmers replied yes. It was the fifth layer of the Nine Hells. A vast frozen sea dominated by ice floes and icebergs so it made sense that the lens came from there.
Maggie told them to ask Barnabas about the lens. He had once been a great wizard and still remembered many things about the arcane. He may be able to give them info. His house was directly north of the Demon Grinder.
They decided that the Wandering Emporium was their best place to start. They had the coordinates but they would have to walk unless they could get access to an infernal machine. They had noticed that the madcap and the redcap were discussing something with Clukka and Clonk, the two kenku they had met earlier. It seemed that the Demon Grinder needed repairs.
Chukka said in Mad Maggie’s voice: “By Beshaba, whatever did an innocent woman like I do to deserve this!” before continuing in a deep and rumbling voice: “’Tis the hezrou-gear. Can’t be repaired. Ain’t nottin’ else to do but catch a new one”. Looking at the redcaps running around, Chukka blurts out in one of their shrill voices: “Blood! Haha, kill! Kill it faster, faster!” and shakes its head. Looking up at the party, Chukka says in the duergar’s voice: “Gimme’ a hand with this, I’ll owe ye. Whaddaya say?”
They discussed it briefly and decided to help them. They would have Nym and Lulach “hunt” for hezrou and “accidentally” end up at the Wandering Emporium. They told Chukka that they would do it. Chukka said follow us. They took them to a garage area and showed them a Scavenger and two Devil’s Rides, two types of infernal machines that they would use to hunt the hezrou. Clonk said while we prepare to go ask the birds if they will scout the area for a hezrou. The group thought that they meant the two ravens that had been with Maggie. They saw them flying close by and Lulach motioned for them to come closer not knowing if they would be able to communicate. He said “I am not sure if you will understand me but would you be able to help us with something?
The raven on the right said perhaps. It depends on what that is…replied the left one.
Lulach said we were wondering if you two could scout around to see if any hezrou are in the area. We (and he points back to the group as well as Clonk, Chukka, the madcap, and the redcap) are in need of one.
The ravens look at each other. That is something we can do said the right one. But you will need to do a favor for us when the time comes.
Calmers was against this deal from the start. He said that we cannot be making deals with devils. Calmers had used his Divine Sense to determine these were evil creatures and he did not want to be making bargains with them. He said if Lulach or anyone else wanted to make a personal deal that did not include the entire group, then they could go ahead and do it. Lulach said he did not want to have a favor hanging over him or the group so he asked if there was something they needed to be done immediately.
The left raven tilted its head and said “Yes, I think they can handle that little problem.
We have a problem. He is a madcap named Wazzik. And we need him killed. Do this for us and we will search out a hezrou for you.
That set off a conversation within the group. Would killing one person be beneficial to potentially saving Elturel? Jockrates and Megan said yes. Calmers was really against this and said so repeatedly and did not back down. Lulach asked what had happened with Wazzik for them to want him dead?
The right raven replied “We played a prank on him and now we fear that he and a small group of his irrational friends are plotting revenge. Mad Maggie cannot know about this as she told us not to pick on the madcaps. The left raven continued: “Wazzik is a vain one, yes, always looking at hisself. After he’s done playin’ bones with the others, he’ll sit alone behind that scraphut over there, lookin’ into the blank metals and shining his cap”. The right one interjects: “Yes, tehee, ‘twas where we poured the demon sludge on him, didn’t much like that, no, no, no!”
Lulach decided not to take the offer. He then asked the ravens if there was a call that he could give to summon them if he needed to.
“No.” the two ravens replied simultaneously. We can find you if we need to.
And then they flew off behind one of the buildings.
They would go with their original plan. Lulach and Nym would each pilot a Devil’s Ride and would “hunt” for hezrou all the while heading towards the last known location of the Wandering Emporium to see if they could find any Phlegethosian sand.
Clonk and Chukka gave Lulach and Nym a quick overview of how to drive the Devil’s Ride. It was sort of like riding a horse but the controls were a bit more touchy. They took a couple of spins around the outside of Fort Knucklebone to get used to them while everyone else climbed onto the kenku’s Scavenger infernal machine. Chukka set at the helm and Clonk sat nearby to act as an extra set of eyes. Tharja sat at the grappling claw and Calmers sat at a harpoon flinger. Jazulon found a seat and hung for the ride. The madcap and redcap each shouted shotgun! and raced for the final harpoon flinger seat. The madcap got their first and the redcap climbed onto the rear bumper and gave the signal to Chukka that all was clear and they could roll out.
They were about 10 minutes into their journey when Lulach spotted hezrou tracks. He signaled to Nym what he had found but hesitated at first to say anything as they wanted to get to the Wandering Emporium before it decided to move locations. He decided that if they could track a hezrou they could locate the Emporium. Plus they could ask Mad Maggie to divine its location again knowing that she may say no or ask them for a favor. She was already doing something big for them with the assistance to recover Lulu’s memories. So, Lulach signaled for them to head slightly east to follow the hezrou tracks he had found.
The hezrou hunt was on!