This is still the third day in the Underdark. The party wants to go north towards Fleshbrook after having heard that it was a trading city of some sort. But it turns out that the road through Blinderstal is blocked. The dark creeper guards are paranoid and don’t want to let the party through. They use darkness and crossbows to beat the party back. Auroleva uses stone shape to errect a barrier giving them cover and Corian uses tongues and tries to bargain but the creatures are suspicious, rude, and want 100 gp per person to allow them passage. Corian is enraged and refuses their shameful advances. The last thing he learns is that the leader of the guards is called Romben and Corian promises them that he’ll remember that name.
The party retreats and spends another night within a rope trick.
On the fourth day they find a hidden passage leading east and stumble upon some troglodytes protecting a white bag of something. Some evil magic saps Corian’s will and apparently makes him unwilling or unable to attack and act. The white bag turns into a writhing mass of white tentacles which Auroleva manages to kill. The party discovers that the troglodytes have all been posessed by parasites that must have some sort of connection to the white creepy thing.
The party moves on towards the north west and spends another night within a rope trick.
On the fifth day the party smells sulfur in the air. At first the party takes a wrong turn and ends up in a dead end. They backtrack and the next tunnel opens upon the sulfur sea. There they take the folding boat and row north along the western coast. It’s a lonely journey in the darkness with nothing but eternal torches illuminating the yellow waters and the dark cliffs to their left.
They notice a tunnel in the rock wall and decide to investigate. The tunnel leads to large swarms of poisonous vermin that attack the party. Auroleva manages to isolate half a swarm using stone shape and the other half is reduced to ashes using burning oil. It’s a grizzly sight.
But there are more vermin swarms, the tunnel stinks of urine and sweat, and the party uses fly to cross rooms where walls, floor, and ceiling are crawling with an unnatural amount of poisonous vermin. It’s like a sight from one of the lower layers of the abyss!
Further in, the party is exploring a tunnel when suddenly they hear steps and crossbow bolts being knocked behind them and voices in front of them. And out of the darkness a mumified hand is thrown into their midst. Creepy!
Using tongues Corian discovers that they have come upon the guards of captain Vinterslass, guardian of the temple “of the king of the underworld” – whatever that means. The mummified hand is apparently a hand of doom they’ll use against the party should they be unwilling to pay the toll of 50 gp per person. This time the party agrees. Perhaps because they are not treated with obvious disdain and mistrust. Corian also discovers that this is not the passage the party is looking for! This road will not lead to Fleshbrook. Instead, the derros tell the party to go north by boat.
The party also claims to be merchants and decides to sell all their small gear (from the vampire). This language the derro understand! For 40 gp they provide some more info about the Underdark, telling the party about Vandekhul on the shores of the sulfur sea. The ghouls call it the “pure city” where the emperor has built his pleasure palace. The duke Loretto Lichmark rules Vandekhul in the emperor’s absence. The city is also known for its sulfur mines and many of the dwarven slaves they keep.
The party also learns that another way around Blinderstal involves going through some sort of mushroom forest. But if they have a boat, that shall be unnecessary. They don’t need to pay the toll, turn back north towards the sulfur sea, spend another night within a rope trick, and row north until they find the beginning of the yellow river, and there they find a lonely ragged drow named Eishveel Vandross, an escaped slave that used to work for the temple of the eight eyes in the south – the place that is marked “driders” on the party’s map. He promises to help the party and tells that his top priority right now is to retake the temple from the ghouls.
The party also learns more about the Underdark from Eishveel. It is important to not stray from the path in the mushroom forest, he says. Idoret is a half-submerged city of aboleth wizard kings, a trading post, full of refugees and refugees. Eishveel also tells them about the ghoul army: Once the ghoul fever is contracted the victim will turn into a ghoul, and once turned into a ghoul the victims will join the ghoul army. As the ghouls don’t need to breathe they like to use poisonous spores to kill all breathing things. The ghouls also like to use purple worms to eat tunnels through the earth when they’re attacking their enemy strongholds. Apparently there are twelve legions, less soldiers at the fringes of the empire, and they all fear the sunlight.
On the eve of the sixth day the party reaches Fleshbrook!
The ghoul guards stop the party and query them on their purpose. Having so much loot to sell the party plausibly explains that they are merchants travelling through. They are admitted into the ghoul trading post.
Inside, the party realizes that the city is famed for their fire beetles used as a replacement for torches. The party buys some bettles in cages and six drow slaves. Eishveel is nominated as their master. He seems to like his new task!
The party learns that Tholon Poltracht is the local cleric of the hunger god – but the party decides not to approach him. At first they considered buying some scrolls from him. The party manages to sell all their loot. A lot of money changes hands!! Every single ghoul in the city now knows the party.
The kobold merchant Jiro approaches the party looking for company on his “grand tour” of the underdark. His next stop is Darakhan – he’ll leave in two days. The party mulls it over and decides to come along. Excellent! They’re all staying at the Tailbone Tavern and are ready to leave as soon as Jiro is done with his dealings. They travel for mutual protection and claim to be his “bodyguards” even though he can’t really pay them anything meaningful.
The party learns even more about the ghoul armies from Jiro. Apparently the ghouls use army beetles in battle. They also learn about ghoul “hunters” – apparently there’s one of them here in Fleshbrook called Doresh! These hunters specialize in hunting humanoids for food or sport; they must be excellent killers.
One evening the party gets into a tavern brawl when one of the ghouls decides that Auroleva “looks tasty”. They party kills the ghouls but the innkeeper keeps the situation under control. The party learns that humanoid merchants are protected by an edict of the duke – trade is important for the ghouls and eating merchants is bad for the local economy.
At the very end of the session Auroleva asks the sword of Freya about the planned visit to Darakhan. Does visiting the white city disrupt the party’s plan? The sword’s valkyre answers by shaking her head; the answer must be “no”. But what is the party’s plan? This is what they want to do: They want to travel through the empire incognito, stirr up trouble at the peripheries, find allies where possible, gain help from the aboleth wizards, and enter the white city disguised as ghouls and using the letter of recommendation that Jeffar had sent to Zoey. Currently they suspect that showing that letter would result in immediate ghoul infection which is why the party requires a disguise.
Next step: Travel to Darakhul as part of Jiro’s entourage and check out the city without approaching the emperor or Jeffar. Learn as much as possible and move on, ending up at Idoret. Talk to the aboleth wizards.
All five party members: Fighting Waldemar Marrowfat (9) and his ghouls (4), fighting Ingerstockvilli (10), Hendryk Gravebinder (8), and his elite dread ghoul footsoldiers (7), rescuing and talking to the refugees at the Orcus temple (8). Total: 46 × 300 XP ⇒ 2760 per person.
Corian, Auroleva, and Belflin only: Fighting the phrenic scourge (9), sailing the sulfur sea (3), bargaining with the guards at the temple of the underdark king (9), talking to Eishveel (8), tricking the guards of Fleshbrook (7), talking to Jiro (9). Total: 46 × 300 XP ⇒ 4600 per person.
|Corian||47598 + 1380 + 4600 = 53578 (Sor-10)|
|Auroleva||44238 + 2760 + 4600 = 51598 (Drd-5/Clr-5)|
|Brar||43725 + 2760 = 46485 (Cle-10)|
|Belflin||41212 + 2760 + 6900 = 50872 (Rng-10)|
|[[Karamutenga?]]||36089 + 2760 = 38849 (Brb-9)|
|Flax||18286 + 828 + 2760 = 21874 (Rog-7)|
New level for Auroleva, Brar, Belflin, Flax.
Define external redirect: Karamutenga