Recap April 18, 2020

Kataract, Jasper, Henrick and Pixel began to look at Golden Wings the song that Aria had asked them to complete. Unfortunately, part of the scroll was burned when Aria’s great-grandmother, Elea, faced off against a dragon many years ago. Aria had hoped to compose a new end to the song and restore its power but she is not able to come up with anything that seems to work. Aria’s family lore claims that the song has magical properties — when sung or read, the song summons a celestial creature to the aid of the bard who performs it. Riva and Hetty joined a little later and they all worked on the lyrics as well as making sure the rhyme scheme and other elements of the song were maintained in the new words they added. They came up with a good number of lyrics but none of them hit until they came up with this:

Golden Wings from the skies Reveal to me your mysteries

They added it to the other lyrics and Kataract sang the newly completed song.

Golden Wings

Like a candle, I burn In the glow of your radiance Like a plucked string, I learn The bright hum of your resonance

Like a pilgrim, I bow Humbled by your divinity Will you come to me now? I send you my prayer, my plea

Lifted voice, lowered eyes Prostrated here on hands and knees Golden Wings from the skies Reveal to me your mysteries

(if I got the final lyrics wrong, let me know. The chat record reads backwards so I may have the wrong one)

They began to prepare to head to Phandalin to check in on the Acquisitions Inc. franchise that Omin Dran, leader of Acq Inc had asked to look after. They called themselves the Fellowship of the Golden Mongoose. They had also been give a list of some of the names of the fellowship. But before they could leave, the Stone of Golarr asked Henrik for him and his friends to find it a place to stay now that his purpose that had been forced on him was now complete. He felt he would be safer in such a place instead of being carried around. Henrik asked the others if they could help with this. They were apprehensive at first but soon came around to the idea. Henrik asked the Stone where did it think was a good place for it? The Stone thought and then said, I am thinking one of the off-beat places we have traveled to within Waterdeep should be suitable. Henrik thought for a moment and said, well the Vault will be getting closed up. That may not be the best place. Perhaps the Kolat Towers. The Stone agree, yes, I think the Towers will be suitable. I think Manshoon’s old office would be the best place as it is the furthest away from the entrance and the last place found. The group knew that the force field was still place but they felt the Tower needed more security. They asked the Stone what security it felt it needed. He mentioned the force field and that they had the rings and that it should be doable for the arcane signature to be changed so that no one else can get into the Kolat Towers, well, our Towers. Jasper thought it could be done but he needed to do research to be sure. Using the information on the sigil on the wall of the Tower that controlled the force field, the pass-amulet they had found and the teleporter rings he was able to determine that using a mix of his arcane knowledge and either casting Dispel Magic or Counterspell he could temporarily change the signature for 40 days to one that they would only be able to use. The signature would change on the rings so they could use them to get in and out. Hetty mentioned the portal that were found in the tower and asked if removing a stone or two from it would that make the portals nonfunctional. Jasper said I think so. The Stone agreed. The Stone said this security will do for now but more may be needed in the future. After the 40 days the signature would revert back to the original signature that the Kolat brothers had put in place. Riva said what about this. We get a silk cloth or bag so the Stone can sit in it. Then we kill a rat and have it taxidermed. We ask them to make it look ugly because of a trick she wanted to play on some friends. The Stone would then reside in the bag within the rat and then the rat would be left under some furniture or another place would go to die. When asked if they was okay with it, The Stone replied, I have been put in worse places. They went by the taxidermy place and got the rat done. They then headed to the Towers. They were relieved when they realized the place was still empty. They went with Jasper to the sigil room so he could alter the arcane signature. As he was completing he the ritual, a vision appeared before him. He saw a middle aged man wearing wizard robes. Around the man’s neck was an amulet consisting of a large sapphire carved in the shape of a clenched fist hung on a chain of platinum links. Jasper felt that this was one of the Kolat Brothers and perhaps if they find this amulet, they may be able change the arcane signature permanently. They headed to Manshoon’s office and place the Stone in the silk cloth and then inside the taxidermy rat and placed it between the desk and the double chair, The Stone thank them and told Henrik he would be in touch. Henrik agreed and the group left the Towers.

The group decided to rent horses to make the trip to Phandalin. It would take a little over 9 days to get there by foot and roughly half that time if they took horses. They gathered their gear and sat out the next morning. The trip was boring, well uneventful so they made good time. They took the High Road north and then cut east on the Triboar Trail. They would see a sign at a road leading south to Phandalin.

As they entered they entered the village they saw:

This modest-sized town is comprised of some fifty buildings, most of which show signs of regular upkeep. Farms an d an apple orchard mark the outer edge of town, with houses and shops closer in. On the left as they came in they saw a temple to Waukeen, the coinmaiden. They would come back to make a donation. Just passed the temple they saw the Stonehill Inn. It was easily one of the largest buildings in town. They decided to check in there, get rooms and something to eat and drink. A man behind the counter of the tavern area of the inn welcomed them asked them if they needed rooms. They said yes and he set them up a a couple of the 6 bedrooms that were upstairs. Kataract went over to the fireplace, took out his lute and played a song. The few people that were in the tavern at the time applauded him but they all got up to leave at the same time. Kataract was surprised but he and a few of the others overhead the people saying as they left “We need to get out there. It is about to start. So, the followed to see what was going on.

Townsfolk are milling about in the central square and on the adjacent green. Two people stand on a stage on the green, addressing the crowd, but the distance to them-along with a steady chorus of cheers, boos, and shouts-obscures what’s being said.

Rising from a small hill overlooking the town is an old manor house-or at least it was an old manor house. Most of its walls have collapsed in what appears to be a recent disaster, with traces of smoke still rising from piles of tumbled stone.

As they got closer to hear what was being said a portly, well-dressed male human on the stage points unexpectedly at your group and shouts. “You see? This is exactly what I mean! Just when things start to calm down in Phandalin, more murderous vagrants show up. They probably have something to do with what’s happened to Tresendar Manor, and with the livestock that have started going missing! And it’s only a matter of time before this all ends in misery and bloodshed, I promise you!”

Kataract said to his friends we must clear our names. That is not what we do at all. Hetty tried to speak to the two men on the stage and that is when they found out that this was a debate. Phandalin was run by a town council made up of three people. As the village was growing, they decided to increase the number to 5 and add a mayor-ship to handle increasingly important issues.

Two people, both current councilors, are running for mayor. One is Harbin Wester, a male human with the integrity and unctuous personality of … well, a career politician. Wester is a former town master. and is running against Sildar Hallwinter, a male human, a former adventurer.

Wester is the town’s banker and a major landowner, so some consider his wealth and power to be ample justification for his greedy. conniving nature. More importantly, a number of monstrous and magical incidents in the area over many years have left Phandalin’s citizens anxious for strong-sounding leadership. Even though adventurers solved many of the town’s problems in the past, Wester has gained much popularity by convincing people that the town’s troubles would have never surfaced if those well-armed wandering busybodies hadn’t gotten involved in the first place. The banker has even gone so far as to suggest that adventurers might have orchestrated some of Phandalin’s past woes for their own gain.

Sildar Hallwinter isn’t a great orator. He spends most of his time refuting Wester’s “unsubstantiated claims.” The retired warrior also points out that Phandalin needs a leader who knows the dangers of the wilderness, even as its people need a mayor unburdened by scandal and potential conflicts of interest.

Hetty asks more about the Manor House and soon the crowd starts to disperse believing the debate to be over. Wester and Sildar sense that it is over and asks the group to come up to the stage and they will tell them what has recently happened. Wester and Sildar told the story together with each adding information as they went.

The Fellowship of the Golden Mongoose was the Acquisitions Incorporated franchise previously established in Phandalin. When that group arrived in town a few months ago, they spoke with Harbin Wester about acquiring the ruined Tresendar Manor. since the banker held the property’s title. Wester worked out terms with Head Office and the deal was signed. The members of the franchise soon got to work on restoring the manor, frequently coming to town for supplies. When not slipping off to adventure for a few days here and there, most of their time was spent at the manor. About 2 tendays ago, (the same day the franchise’s payment was due to the Head Office), the townsfolk heard explosions from the manor, with a few people reporting seeing gouts of flame and hearing the commotion of a battle. No one was really keen to investigate, wanting to avoid any trouble that the Fellowship of the Golden Mongoose had brought on themselves. (Adventurers, right?)

After a few days passed and no one from the manor came into town, Sildar braved the walk up the hill to investigate.

Where the manor once stood. he found only rubble, scorch marks, ruined construction, and bloodstains. He failed t0 discover the single franchisee left alive in the manor, who was unconscious at the time. The townsfolk have given the ruins a wide berth since then, not wanting to risk awakening whatever mad magic delivered the adventurers of the Golden Mongoose to their final fate.

The group believed something big may have caused this disaster so they asked questions about the livestock disappearances. There had been one or two cows, a sheep but mostly it was chickens which normally some of those disappear anyway but they had found a few bodies. In the days since the destruction of the manor, farmers and herders on the outskirts of Phandalin have reported seeing giant-sized footprints, both humanoid and canine, as well as missing animals.

Hetty spoke up said, see the elf back there? She is really good a tracking things. We can look into these disappearances and try to figure out what may be taking the livestock. Hopefully put a stop to it. Sildar was all for it while Wester was apprehensive. Hetty said we are here and we are capable and it looks like you need someone with the experience we have to take care of something you all cannot handle on your own. Wester hesitated but Sildar spoke, she is right and I have said as much before. Let them look into these issues. Their coming into town may be the good luck we have been looking for. Wester finally agreed. Riva asked if someone could show her where the livestock had been taken from. Sildar said I can show you. Meet first thing in the morning in front of the Stonehill Inn? He agreed and said his farewell. Wester left as well. Henrik had gone back to the inn to eat and drink. The rest followed but Kataract who made his way to the Sleeping Giant, a single-story tavern that had seen better days. Its weathered sign probably depicts a prone giant, but whatever paint or carvings once adorned the sign have been all but worn away. Inside, the place shows the same lack of care. It’s dirty, ill kept, and in need of a thorough cleaning. Or burning. Kataract peeked in and so two people drinking, a male human and a male dwarf. Behind the bar was a dwarf woman. The two men drinking did not look local. Katarack disguised himself as a local and went in to see what was going on.

The barkeeper said “What are you drinking? We only have one drink. Ale” It clearly had been watered down but probably had more alcohol in it than a normal pint. He asked about the town but the barkeep did not have many answers other than that is none of my business. He then went to talk to the dwarf. When asked the dwarf was rather open. He had come to town after hearing a mine had reopened but once he got here, there was no mine so he was staying in town drinking while trying to figure out his next move. He didn’t want to go back to Neverwinter, it was becoming a holehell. Waterdeep was too big. So, he probably would make his way to Triboar and see what is available there. But for now, he was drinking. Kataract asked why he left without knowing the mine was truly open. The dwarf replied well, I have been making made decisions most of my life so this is just another notch in the belt.

Kataract did not get much else out of the dwarf so he left and went back to the inn. The group decided to check out the manor house before it got to late.

They headed down the road east out of town and up the hill toward the manor house ruins.

Many of the crumbled walls of the manor show signs of having been recently rebuilt, but even that newer stone· work has been toppled and smashed, coating everything in the area with a thick layer of dust. Temporary structures seemingly set up to aid the reconstruction have been badly damaged by force and fire , though a couple of wooden buildings still stand amid the destruction.

As they get closer it is apparent that the fire wasn’t natural and that magic was likely involved. They also noticed that the stonework was not smashed by weapons or tools. suggesting that a creature of great size and strength took part in the destruction.

Riva could hear what she was sure was the growls and barks of badgers but she could not see where they were. She found a large number of older footprints all over the area. Then she found newer prints. There were indeed badgers in the are. She also found a set of prints of a humanoid that was running around the ruins area. She decided to follow the freshest prints and the rest of the group followed her.

Around 60ft ahead of her she saw numerous brown-and-gray badger prowling the ruins. Some are sniffing at bones, while others sniff and dig at a pile of stones at the center of the manor courtyard. In response to your approach, the largest badger turned towards them and it began to snarl. The other badgers stopped their sniffing and moved to attack the group.

Hetty threw dagger at two of the badgers and they both dropped. Jasper cast Ice Storm hitting 4 of the remaining 6 smaller badgers. They all fell. Kataract dimension doored himself and Henrik directly behind the largest badger. Henrik attacked hitting the large badger with two solid hits. But he suddenly he had been put to sleep. Riva fired arrows at the large badger while Hetty and Jasper started to move up closer. Hetty ran 40ft then shadowstepped to where Henrik was slumped. She made two attacks on the large badger, added a third attack and then nudged Henrik waking him up just as she herself fell asleep! Kataract attacked one of the two remaining badgers with his hand crossbow taking it out and made his second shot at the last badger dropping it as well.

They all focused on the large badger. Riva fire arrows onto it, Jasper cast Sleet Storm knocking the large badger prone, Kataract fired his hand crossbow, Henrik attacked with his polearm. The large badger fell shapeshifting into a short male human. He was dressed in oriental clothes and had a nodachi on his back. They also found 2 potions of healing, a potion of climbing and 50gp in a satchel. There was also a balled up piece of paper. It looked to be a contract asking to go to the manor house to see if they could find it. No names were on it and nothing to identify what “it” was.

They went over to the stone pile and they heard a low, pained moaning rises from beneath the rubble. They began to remove the rubble and soon they saw the face of a female half-orc. They thought she may have been buried since the manor house was destroyed some 20 days ago. Kataract and Pixel cast Cure Wounds on her. She immediately began mumbling something in a low voice, but she has something in her mouth that makes it impossible to understand her. Kataract reach to her mouth and pulled out a complex clockwork device that looked very similar to the piece of the Orrery of the Wanderer that they had found in the chasm that was created by the earthquake some weeks ago. The half-orc now could speak clearly. She was saying “They came for it … they came for the timepiece … “ She asked to be removed completely from the rubble. It did not take long and she spoke to them as they worked.

“I am Gildha Duhn, majordomo of the Company of the Golden Mongoose franchise. I worked for the Acquisitions Incorporated franchise in Phandalin, and that while working on their ongoing renovation of Tresendar Manor, the franchisees were attacked at night by unknown assailants. I saw one of my group escape by teleporting away, she isn’t sure what happened to the others. Falling rubble knocked her down, then buried her. Surviving on nothing but rainwater and her half-orc endurance, Gildha has been in and out of consciousness since the attack.

Gildha saw one of the Golden Mongoose adventurers- a female tiefling paladin occultant (rank within Acquistions Inc) named Talanatha Three-Coins-activate the timepiece of travel and teleport away. For reasons unknown, the timepiece stayed behind. Gildha grabbed the relic, but has no idea where Talanatha went.

Gildha also tells the characters that she saw some of the attackers heading into a small cellar beneath the manor. consisting of storage areas and a spring-fed cistern. She knows that the manor features subterranean areas more extensive than the cellar, but the Fellowship of the Golden Mongoose had yet to do a thorough search of those areas.

She was tired, hungry and dehydrated. They brought her back to the Inn, got a meal, ate with her and then she went to sleep. Toblen the owner of the inn came over and asked if the half-orc was a survivor. They said she was and was lucky to be alive. They also explained that they had found something there in the ruins and that it had been taken care of but the large creature that was taking livestock was still out there. Riva said we will be meeting Sildar in the morning and he will show us where the livestock was taken from. Toblen told them about Phandalin. It had once been a much bigger town. With the mines open, there would create and sell weapons, magic items and armor. But that was years ago. Orcs came and attacked the mines and they have been lost ever since. Some years ago some dwarf brothers came to town claiming they knew where the mines were but that they really did not. Phandalin is a crossroads between Waterdeep and Neverwinter with Triboar to the east. Things had been picking up until the manor house incident. The group said they would hopefully figure things out. Toblen thanked them for their assistance and then said he needed to assist his wife he shutting down the kitchen.

They all went to bed except Henrik who had Darkvision cast on him so he could see in the dark. He went out to the farms to see if he could see the creature that was taking the livestock. He made his way towards the manor house road then circled around the outlaying farms looking for tracks or signs of the creature. He made his was to the orchards on the other side of town and kept making that circuit the rest of the night. He never saw anything. He arrived at dawn where everyone but Pixel and Kataract were ready to check out the missing livestock with Sildar. Sildar spoke about Phandalin as he took them around. He repeated some of what Toblen has said the night before. He had not returned to the manor house since finding the utter destruction. He showed them where the animals had been taken and one place where a carcass had been found. Riva found some tracks and off she went. Suddenly they stopped. She looked around for bit and realized that whatever had made the tracks had covered them up and probably had gone off in a different direction. She had figured out that the tracks led away from the manor house She circled back and tried to find the path once more but whoever did this was really good at covering their tracks. Riva knew it was a large humanoid and one or maybe two large canines. They had to have a hiding place or cave possibly set up near a water source. She knew of a creek on the other side of Phandalin. She wanted to head that way but Henrik said let us go up to the manor house while are are this close and we can look for the creature later. Riva agreed and they headed up to the manor house to find the cellar door Gildha had mentioned to them the day before.

The door at the bottom of the stairs opens atop a set of double stairs that descend, north and south, about ten feet into a cellar. At the west end of that room, a cistern full of clear water bubbles lazily. A door on the cellar’s west wall is ajar.

They briefly checked the double stairs and then headed down into the room. Kataract headed straight for the door in the west end of the room. The door was unlocked and he headed inside.

Stacks of crates and casks line the walls of t his storeroom.

Riva moved into the room as well to see if she could find any hidden doors. Kataract moved to the center casks to check for anyone wine. He started to check the one on top when alchemist’s fire exploded coating him in fire and oil. He quickly put the fire out and ran out of the room and jumped into the cistern to make sure he was not longer covered. Riva was joined by Hetty who did not find any other traps. Riva did not find any hidden doors. Inside the crates and casks they found building supplies (nails, mortar. glue, and so forth) worth a total of 100gp.

They searched the rest of the room and Pixel founs a secret door direct south from the door to the west. Pixel pushed the secret lever:

The smell of death is strong in what was probably once a large and ornate hall, long since fallen into ruin. Not only are the walls and supports crumbling. but a ten-foot deep rift has opened up in the floor. Two wooden bridges span the rift, whose floor is littered with skeletal corpses.

Hetty moved forward with the rest of the group following close behind. As Hetty approached the closet bridge, she heard faint crunching, coming from the rift. She saw swarms of wasps feasting on numerous skeletons that looked to have been thrown into the rift. The swarms stopped their meal and flew up to attack. Riva use Hail of Thorns and damaged three of the 6 swarms. Hetty attacked with her daggers and fists. Jasper cast Ice Storm and took out 4 of the 6 swarms. Henrik, Pixel and Kataract attacked the remaining swarms and the swarms fell quick.

Hetty took out a rope and tied it around herself and asked to be lowered into the rift. She wanted to check out the bodies. The bodies here wear a wide range of clothing and armor. A closer examination of the still-intact bodies reveals that some of them bear tattoos. It seemed that none of the tattoos were complete. Hetty took and knife and cut some of the flesh that still had the tattoo on it so she could show it to the rest of the group. They were not familiar to anyone. As she had been cutting off the tattoo she had seen an area where a bunch of rocks had fallen at the south end of the rift. She could tell that the rift was older than this collapse. She asked for Jasper to come down to check out the pile of rocks. Jasper determined that there must be a tunnel on the other side and someone collapsed it on itself and it would take 2 to 3 days with the correct equipment to remove the rubble. They would probably have to set up supports to make sure the tunnel did not collapse again. He believed that the tunnel went due south but was not sure unless someone was able to find the tunnel’s exit.

They talked about going back and hiring the miner that Kataract had met at the Sleeping Giant. They decided to wait to go back and to continue searching the manor house basement.

Henrik walked over to and up the stairs to the west from the first bridge they had come to. 25ft down the corridor they found a door to the south and another door to the north 15ft off the main passage.

Henrik checked the door and it was locked. Hetty unlocked it and Henrik tried to open it again but it was hitting something solid propped up against the door. Henrik gave it a push and he was in the room. Apart from a fallen kobold statue that blocked the door, this room contains only four beds. Each is covered in torn sheets, its straw mattress crawling with bugs.

Pixel sent one of the giant toads into the room to eat the bugs. The toad went to one of the south beds and was immediately attacked by something. As the creature came out from under the bed, they could see it was a cockatrice. No, it was a undead cockatrice and another undead cockatrice came out from under the other bed to the south. They both moved to attack. The group attack and the cockatrice fell quickly. They did not want to be petrified as they now believed is what had happened to the kobold. They picked up the kobold and put it in their bag of holding planning to keep an eye on it as they were sure in the next 24 hours the petrification would wear off.

They moved to the door across the hall from the cockatrice room. The door was not locked.

A five-foot-diameter circle of dark energy crackles in the northwest corner of this room. The walls are etched with complex runes. as well as drawings in charcoal and some reddish substance. These runes pulse with the same dark energy of the portal, surging and ebbing in a steady rhythm.

Crossing the threshold must have been the final trigger to complete the magic embedded in the room. A gibbering mouther wriggles out of the portal and begins to babble. Each person that was in the room or entered the room became somewhat confused. Hetty used a Ki point to cast Silence on the middle of the room. That broke the confusion. Henrik moved to attack. Hetty stood on other side of Henrik and attacked with her daggers. Riva fired her arrows from outside of the room and Kataract did the same with his hand crossbow. Pixel came into the room and cast Thornwhip. Jasper cast Ray of Frost to keep the abomination slowed. Soon the creature was down and it disappeared. Jasper and Kataract had noticed that the runes on the walls had blinked the entire combat in pattern with the portal and with the way the mouther and blinked out of the portal and then blink away when it was destroyed. Hetty knew that they could sabotage the runes and Kataract knew that they could use arcana to deactivate the runes. They did so and the rest of the runes stopped glowing and flashing and the portal disappeared. Kataract and Jasper felt confident that whoever did the runes in the first place would have to redo the entire room in order to have open the portal again.