Caravan Carnivale

Episode Ten
Seeing a Witch About an Arm

The party made its way to an inn and barricaded themselves inside a room to catch their breath and examine their pockets full of loot. Many shiny treasures were revealed, some magical. Some magical but drained of their power, mere shells that hinted at their original purpose. One of the items triggered a memory from Fo, which seemed like a good avenue for getting Lusus back to two-armed status.

That night, an intruder attempted to intrude, but was easily noticed by the unreasonably alert party. Seriously, people should not be that perceptive. Don’t even get me started on rogue stealth.

The intruder proved to be a ten-years-older Kolya, who proceeded to bring the party up to speed on the downward spiral experienced by the Caravan Carnivale in the years after their expulsion. Dima had met an untimely and somewhat suspicious end, and Kolya abandoned the scene not long afterwards, choosing to devote most of his days to discovering the secrets behind what Management was up to. His trail of clues had led here, to Aureigne, and to the mansion that seems magically linked to Management’s vardo.

After catching up with Kolya, the party set out at dawn to meet up with a witch Fo knew to be meetable in the countryside outside the city. Farms were passed by, including some that had hung slaughtered livestock across their scarecrows while doors and shutters on farmhouses remained tightly shut. Taking part in a strange ritual in the woods in the foothills outside the farmland, the party accessed an otherworldly pocket dimension where the witch sat inside a thatch hut.

She was a hot witch, not an ugly witch – and had the party compared notes on what they’d seen when they looked at her, they’d have all come up with a different picture. Y’know. Sexy witch stuff.

The witch understood what was being asked of her, but needed two things: an arm to give to Lusus, and payment that she insisted the party would find in the vicinity of the creature currently owning and using that arm.

The party waited until dawn and set out to track down the creature – a shapeshifter who they’d spotted the night prior moving between a wolflike form and a humanoid shape – in its home territory further up the mountain. Following its trail, they discovered an opening in the ground which led to a bone-strewn cave. An old man and young girl were inside, beaten up but alive as though they’d been brought back to devour later. The young girl was hoisted up and out of the lair, but moments into lifting the old man he revealed himself to be the creature, and pulled an unsuspecting Alsahiir into the opening. The party dove in after him (save for Barabal, who supported with magic from above, and Lolth, who studied the scene waiting for a deadly opening to present itself), and managed to wound the creature and remove its arm. It attempted to flee through the cave mouth, only to be knocked prone by Barabal wielding its own severed limb; Fo hoisted Lusus’ heavy battleaxe high and decapitated the monster. Black blood was like everywhere.

The little girl had apparently run away during the hectic fight; she was nowhere to be found. Down in the cave, the witch’s price presented itself: another young girl, this one wearing outdated fine clothing and encased in a transparent cloudy crystal the size of a small coffin.

The party returned the arm and crystal to the witch, who kept her end of the bargain – after a long, heady, sweaty ritual Lusus once again had two arms – though one was black-skinned and equipped with feral claws at the tips of its fingers. The party left the witch’s hut to return to the real world, and upon leaving the perimeter of her property, the ground beneath the hut shuddered and erupted, revealing a giant earthen humanoid shape that seemed to wear the thatch building as a hat. It walked away into the mists with enormous slow strides, eventually fading from view. Y’know. Weird witch stuff.

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Episode Nine
To Heck and Back

The giant wave crashed into the deck, shattering timbers and smash-cutting the scene to black.

When the party awoke, they were bobbing gently on a calm sea lit by sunset, clinging to debris and flotsam. After locating each other (and noticing a few oddities, such as a hazy phantom arm attached to Lusus’ stump), a makeshift raft was pulled together and the party sat for hours – noticing that the sun did not move at all in the sky.

After some time passed, a ship appeared on the horizon, moving towards the party. As it approached, it became clear that this was a large ship. A very, very large ship. Like, the biggest damn ship ever.

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Birds swarming above the ship began swooping down to pluck bodies from the water; soon the party was being similarly fished out, realizing that the birds were actually large winged humanoids wearing hoods that hid their faces. The creatures deposited them on large marble balconies on the flanks of the ship, high above the water. There, they witnessed the other souls harvested from the water trudging ahead in long lines, tended by non-winged large humanoids dressed much the same as the flyers.

Stepping out of line, the party met no resistance. Marching further in, they spotted the Red Queen – though she didn’t look exactly like herself – dragging behind her a small child. The party followed her to the prow of the ship, and watched as she argued with the apparent captain of the vessel.

After she stormed out, the party spoke for a while with the captain, who spoke mostly in cryptic non-answers to seemingly simple questions. He did manage to confirm that the ship was ferrying mortal souls to some kind of marketplace, and the party decided that being traded as commodities was not to their liking. The captain secured the doors to the chamber, determined to hold on to the party.

A burst of shadowy smoke filled the room, and when it cleared a tall grey-skinned humanoid with a red right hand appeared. The being demanded the release of Lolth’s soul, and advised that should she demand the release of her companions’ souls, the captain would be wise not to protest. The captain, nonplussed, offered to the party that if they could reach the stern of the ship by the time the moon rose, they would be free to go. At this point the party noticed that the sun had been steadily setting since they’d boarded the ship.

Running to the back of the enormous vessel, the party passed the still-inconsolable Red Queen, who barked something in a foul ancient language, stirring the ship’s crew into hostility. Fighting their way past the demonic shiphands, the party reached a great doorway at the rear of the ship, and on stepping out onto the rear balcony, were pulled at great speeds away from the ship, back towards the “sun”, which instead proved to be the light-filled mouth of a great tunnel.

Fade to white.

The party awoke one by one on a cold, rainy shore. A makeshift shelter was constructed and a fire built. In the morning, the party headed inland and found a road. Heading south, they passed a group of Loessian military riders, who advised them that the nearest town was the Amstreiche city of Meersenteim. Asking on a hunch, Fo inquired as to the date – only to learn that ten years had passed since the battle at sea.

The party headed for Meersenteim, only to discover an unexpected sight as they approached town: the Caravan Carnivale, set up and in full operation on the outskirts.

Alsahiir and Lolth infiltrated the camp in disguise, determined to locate Dima and exact revenge – while Lindy took a more covert approach towards finding her old vardo. Fo headed into town to meet up with an old acquaintance, and Barabal chose to hang back and tinker with her alchemy.

Various forms of mayhem ensued, with the ultimate outcome being Lolth taken into custody after surrendering at the sight of Erich Schreiner, now seventeen years old and under the full influence of Management. Bound and blindfolded, Lolth was led inside Management’s caravan, and set up for interrogation in the elegant mansion that she’d previously seen inside.

The party mounted a rescue attempt, conning their way into the wagon and fighting their way to Lolth. They momentarily captured Erich, but could not do much interrogation before Sir Egg extracted him from the premises.

Filling their pockets with various and sundry items from the crates stacked throughout the house, the party discovered a strange steel coffin. Inside was the perfectly-preserved corpse of a young man in his mid-twenties, who Fo recognized as Victus Belare, a celebrated socialite in Aureigne, Oraleon that he’d met when he was very young.

The pounding of many angry feet down the hall meant time to flee, so the party made haste through the hole in the wall that Sir Egg had made to retrieve Erich….

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Episode Eight
I saw that in a movie once...

Disguised as a member of the crew, Fo made his way above decks to see the Red Queen signaling to the ship in the distance responsible for the recent holes in the hull. He blended in with the panicked sailors attending to the rigging, making his way to the captain, who he stealthily dispatched with several critically painful stabs. The captain’s death seemed to trigger a reaction in his gaudy silver pendant, creating an explosion strong enough to knock the body several yards away. The skies got a little cloudy.

Seeing the captain dead (and hearing the explosion), the crew were dumbfounded – but the Red Queen was clever enough to know something was up. She slipped back below decks and prepared to eviscerate the remainder of the party – but was ultimately caught unawares by a vengeful Lusus and the devastating divine magic of Barabal. The Red Queen melted away in a gory display, seemingly no more for this world.

Above decks, the once-captive Marid genie belonging to the captain had materialized amid what was now a raging rainstorm, at her natural looming size of twelve feet tall. Her first action was to unleash a punishing ice spell that killed most of the crew and froze Alsahiir within a formation of ice securely rooted to the deck. Most of the party was able to duck behind cover to mitigate the damage.

Aboard the other ship, Lolth made her way stealthily to the captain’s chambers in the aftcastle, where she found Melchiore Nicostrato watching the proceedings above the party’s ship intently. In barring the door she accidentally revealed her presence, but ultimately the unprepared Nicostrato was unable to adequately defend himself; Lolth did unkind things to his neck meat with her blades, and he slumped over dead. Doing her best impersonation, she ordered the crew to open fire on the genie, and they did so – scoring a near-miss that sent her sprawling to the deck.

Lusus took this chance to light a powderkeg below decks.

The genie dissolved into the sea, and an enormous whirlpool formed, drawing both ships into its spiral. The lit powderkeg, rolling in response to the tilt created by the whirlpool, blew an enormous hole in the starboard hull of the party’s ship. Lolth convinced the helmsman of her ship to maneuver into an orbit that would create intercept opportunities between the two ships, and on the first of these Fo and Barabal managed to buckle swash and swing over to Lolth’s largely undamaged ship.

Lusus and Lindy managed to break Alsahiir free of his icy prison, and used a cargo net to secure his unconscious body. A grapple line was thrown from the other ship on the next intercept pass, which was secured to this net. All conscious party members swung to the deck of Lolth’s ship, and Alsahiir was pulled along (accrusing many bumps and bruises along the way), towed behind the ship.

While reeling him in, the party met resistance; the Marid was pulling him back. Using the block and tackle hanging from the yardarm, the party was able to best her strength; Fo shot a flaming arrow into a powderkeg bobbing in the whirlpool and the genie reacted in pain – issuing a parting statement that nobody could understand (but that Fo felt strongly from his linguistic skill was an apology), she disappeared into the sea. Off against the horizon, an unimaginably huge rogue wave was closing on the ships.

The party chose to secure themselves to the rails and rigging above deck, and braced for impact… as the wave loomed large over the deck, Lolth noticed the beaten, broken form of the Red Queen gathering up Nicostrato’s remains and opening a portal to places unknown.

To be continued…

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Episode Seven
The Belly of the Beast

Lolth was nowhere to be found. Fickle tieflings.

In an attempt to secure the support of Guidice Senza-Sansione Melchiore Nicostrato, the party delivered the subdued criminal they’d been keeping in their dormitory room at the University. The offering was accepted and quickly executed, and subsequent conversation led to the party disclosing both their knowledge of Erich Schreiner and their thoughts on Management – both his nature and his presumed location.

Nicostrato seemed to know more than he let on about Management, and offered to hire the party to help secure young Erich and deliver him back to Corvona. The price was generous, and the party was invited to meet with an already-contracted third party who would be conducting the expedition.

Dinner at the contractor’s house – notorious Ebregoi smuggler/pirate/dirtbag Qasim Abu-Bakr – offered the party insight into the evil nature of everyone involved, but also offered a sponsored upgrade of the group’s equipment.

Two days later, a ship sets sail for Loesse, with the party aboard. A few uneventful days pass, some drunken exposition takes place with Abu-Bakr, but then unexpectedly Alsahiir is identified by the captain – who attempts to take him into custody.

A fight ensues, which ultimately results in the Red Queen removing (and devouring) Lusus Alki’s arm – though further carnage is prevented by a sudden attack from an as-yet unidentified other vessel.

To be continued…

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Episode Six
Campustown Confidential

The party made its way south from Westerbaden to Montepagano, bustling border city and home to the Collegia Artenove, world-class learning institution and crown jewel of the Corvono academic world. Lolth knew this city to be the base of operations for the Maschera Occhiascura, one of the four major assassin’s guilds in Corvona.

Fo had a contact at the university (named Philipe), who was a professor of chemistry – he managed to arrange dormitory lodging for the party during their visit and also offered some local information, including a story about a murder that had happened earlier in the year – a dean at the university was found shot in the shady part of town.

While wandering through town, the party encountered the Loessian outriders they’d heard about in Westerbaden – they weren’t actively asking the populace questions, but seemed instead to be searching, escorting a strange man in a locked metal mask with no apparent openings for his eyes and ears.

The party launched a simultaneous investigation of the murder – which led to being jumped in an alleyway by two hilariously incompetent street thugs (one of which was coerced into cooperation with the party) – and a plan to force the hand of the outriders, who they believed to be in pursuit of Erich Schreiner.

Before the plan could come to full fruition, however, the party discovered the outriders already being directly confronted by a man in the robes of a Corvono Giudice Senza-Sansione, and his remarkably tall masked female companion. Philipe would later recognize this pair by their description as Melchiore Nicostrato and his constant accomplice known only as the Red Queen.

Nicostrato killed one of the outrider’s horses by striking his staff against the ground, and then apparently commanded the others to leave – then set the Red Queen after them. Lolth, Lindy and Lusus pursed her from the rooftops, but Lusus and Lolth were distracted by the emergence of an assassin armed with a jezail musket – who ultimately escaped them after Lusus thwarted an attempt on Lindy’s life.

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Jezail!


After catching up to the riders on foot, the Red Queen slaughtered their horses (leaving them alive but mangled, crushed under the weight of their fallen steeds), and sent the man in the metal mask on his way out of the city. She then calmly walked back to an upscale inn not far from the plaza where the incident had begun.

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Episode Five
Bathhouses and Betrayals

The caravan proceeded through the dwarven tunnel for four days, pausing occsionally to make camp at purpose-built waystations along the route. At the beginning of the fifth day, the wagons halted at an apparent dead-end; by infiltrating a similar outpost to the one encountered at the tunnel’s entrance, the party was able to engage a massive turntable, rotating the wall until it revealed a long tunnel ending in bright light.

Charging forward ahead of the caravan, weapons drawn, the party discovered an enormous bathhouse, filled with stunned naked people. Naked rich people. Fo knew one of them, Fenton, who was sent to get the proprietor. Fo then disrobed and slipped into a bath.

The caravan was helped out through the bathhouse by means of a jury-rigged plank bridge, and had become the talk of the town (now known to be Westerbaden). The wagons proceeded to a spot outside town, where camp was set up and customers anxiously awaited their chance to slum it up. How decadent.

Meanwhile, research was done: at the library, the party discovered a book of folklore which spoke of the black pool encountered in the Schadenwaldt; it was identified as the entrance to the Akademion, the otherworldly school where the Devil is said to teach dark magic to mortal students. The strange man hovering above the water was identified only as “The Provost”, and was illustrated in an ancient style, but wearing the same odd clothing he was seen in just a week ago.

Elsewhere, Fo leveraged Fenton’s social knowledge to learn about a band of Loessian riders who had charged through town earlier in the week seeking a missing royal child, declaring that he’d been kidnapped. They’d ridden on South after determining that nobody knew anything.

Lolth kept an eye on Dima, who was interacting with Management – who had mysteriously reappeared after having separated from the Caravan prior to the trip to Boughshadow. In so doing, she witnessed Kolya delivering a reluctant report, saying only “They’re there.”

Later that night, the party was given a mission to intercept a written communication between two diplomats in attendance at a high society masquerade ball. Costumes were purchased, poop bombs were allocated strategically, and the operation was a success – but revealed the presence of two assassins who aggressively attacked Lolth – one in the room, and another sniping from a nearby rooftop with some sort of firearm.

The assassin in the room was defeated after causing grave damage to Lolth, and upon her killing him with a super sweet critical hit to the face, a tattoo of a mask with one darkened eye manifested on his hand before burning away into brown smoke. The same tattoo – though half as dark – then appeared on Lolth’s hand.

The party regrouped in a boathouse on the lake, and decided to head back to camp to investigate – Kolya met Lindy at the entrance and pulled her aside, indicating that it wasn’t safe to enter – he agreed to steal as many of the party’s personal effects as he could and stash them in the forest outside town. The party attempted to convince him to join them, but he indicated that he could not leave Dima alone with Management.

Fenton scored the party some super sweet horses using his rich kid powers.

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Episode Four
Tunnels and Tentacles

Having departed Boughshadow on the old Elven road, the party eventually started to climb the foothills into the Kaltegradt Mountains. Upon reaching the entrance to the dwarven trade tunnel, a glance backward over the forest below revealed a thick plume of black smoke rising from the general direction of Boughshadow.

The passage forward through the tunnel was blocked by a heavy bronze door, operated by a mechanism found elsewhere. The party managed to gain access to the outpost connected to the tunnel, which had been abandoned and emptied long ago. The machinery that apparently operated the gate did not function, and so the party descended in an attempt to ascertain the problem.

Upon entering the lower levels, an enormous machine was found, driven by a flywheel attached to two massive stone counterweights. The chain which would normally connect both weights to the wheel had been intentionally disabled, its enormous pin knocked out to leave the weight sitting idle at the bottom of its pit.

Examining the vault found a level above, a wax seal was discovered running the length of the doorframe, warning of danger. Fo and Lolth disabled the complex lock, and the vault door was pried open to reveal a mostly empty room – only one sack of coins remained, and seated atop it was a skeletal dwarf corpse, one hand raised to the stone wall in front of him. Intricate scrawlings covered the walls, floor, and ceiling of the room, undecipherable due to the party’s lack of familiarity with written Dwarvish, but clearly arranged in mathematical forms.

Upon approaching the body, it began to move, bathed in an eerie purple glow. It continued its work, scratching formulae and equations onto the vault wall. Attempts to get closer proved fruitless; the room seemed to stretch such that no amount of walking brought the skeleton any closer.

Attacking the skeleton with projectiles caused it to stand and turn, and become aggressive to the party; it began to slowly lurch forward, vomiting copious amounts of black liquid, which crept quickly through the cracks in the stonework, seemingly advancing purposefully towards the party. As the cracks began to swell with liquid, the party seemed to be able to see through them, and upon glancing back in the direction of the Schadenwaldt they could clearly – impossibly – see the large black pool, connected to their current location by a long, serpentine thread of the black liquid.

Retreating, the party discovered that the black liquid had animated the remaining furniture in the outpost, including the massive machine downstairs, which began to repair itself so that it could use both counterweights like enormous mauls at the ends of chain tentacles. Overmatched, the party defeated the smaller animated objects upstairs, then ran – throwing a lit torch before retreating upward. The black liquid turned out to be incredibly flammable, and the room was flooded with thick smoke – the machinery operating the gate functioned just well enough to raise the gate, and then broke. The caravan began moving deeper into the tunnel, pitch black except for a carefully-cultivated glowing moss which lined either side of the floor to keep the lane clear.

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Episode Three
A Walk in the Woods

Having fled Silbertal under a somewhat mysterious duress, the Caravan traveled a hidden forest road to the elven city of Boughshadow, where they were received reluctantly after Dima presented the settlement’s magistrate with a gift of a seemingly precious violin – a gift that was initially dismissed until examined more closely.

The party was granted simple magical amulets made of smooth river rocks hanging from leather cords which disguised them as elven versions of themself whenever within the boundaries of the city. Two days were spent mingling among the elves, who proved to be very hospitable and curious about Aromasta culture.

On the second day, the party was approached by a distraught and disheveled young elf named Mev, who had been accosted in the forest while foraging with her brother Lem; she had escaped but her brother had been taken captive. Dima, acting on Management’s very general orders of “be helpful to the elves”, sent the party to track the kidnapped elf down.

While following Lem’s trail, the party was ambushed by a swarm of goblins, who attacked using foul-smelling smoke bombs and shortbows, taking advantage of the underbrush to hide themselves. Mev took an arrow to the shoulder, but survived – the party dispatched the goblin team without much issue, and looted several pouches of the smoke bombs.

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Poop bombs

Continuing along the trail, the party eventually discovered a wide corridor of clearing, suspiciously devoid of tree growth of any kind. On the other side was an ominously dense dark, grey woods. Camped within this clearing were three mercenaries, seemingly bored, as though they’d been asked to “wait here”.

The party dispatched the mercenaries after interrogating them, and learned that their employer had entered the dark wood with the elf in tow; the party pursued, and experienced disorienting conditions inside the wood, which by this point had been identified as the Schadenwaldt. An elven boundary marker was discovered several yards inside the wood, suggesting that the dark forest had grown in size since its placement.

The kidnapper was discovered deep within the otherworldly forest, at a vast pool of inky black liquid. As he stood proclaiming ritual words from a scroll to a strange figure hovering just above the pool, the party noticed Lem standing next to him, with an ashen, blank stare on his face.

Fo shot the scroll from the man’s hand, and the strange figure above the pool calmly killed the man for having not come alone. He then faded from sight.

The party spent time investigating the pool, through which a reflection of a building could be seen, and collected some of the liquid in a vial. It smelled strongly of scorched petroleum, though it wasn’t viscous and poured like water.

Lem was escorted from the woods, unresponsive – upon exiting, the party noticed envelopes tucked into their clothing, which read “Be seeing you.”

The group returned to Boughshadow, where Mev performed an ancient balancing ritual on Lem, returning him to consciousness but absorbing some of his darkness into herself. The two were cast out of the elven town, and agreed to travel with the caravan as musicians. For the foray into the Schadenwaldt, the Caravan was instructed to leave Boughshadow immediately, and given guidance to take the forest road further West to avoid the possibility of pursuers.

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Episode Two
The Incredible Sir Egg

The party was tasked by Dima with collecting a local Silbertal orphan, Erich Schreiner, from the city’s orphanage. As is standard with missions from Management, no reason was provided.

The party set out to investigate the boy, and discovered a rampant rumor about a “devil boy”, learning that his family’s home had collapsed in the middle of the night, leaving only the boy unkilled – unscathed, in fact, as he was found in the middle of the street in front of the wreckage of the house clutching a wooden doll. Fo investigated the neighborhood surrounding the family home, as well as the carpenter’s guild formerly run by Alder Schreiner, Erich’s deceased father. The rest of the party headed to the orphanage to attempt to secure the child by posing as distant foreign relatives. Lolth walked casually into, then out of, a kitchen.

Otto Handeler, the sleazy steward of the orphanage, attempted to dissuade the party from taking Erich, falsely insisting that he’d already been picked up by other relatives. Upon coercing him to be truthful, the party learned that there had been incidents at the orphanage, including the violent destruction of a bunkroom, and that Handeler had stopped these incidents by confiscating the boy’s wooden doll. Only earlier that day, a group of Soramian soldiers had showed up and offered gold in exchange for the boy – Otto had enthusiastically accepted the bargain.

The party reconvened and set out with haste to attempt to overtake the Soramian party, and followed them at a distance until they set up camp for the night.

Lolth and Lindy stealthily killed the group’s captain and disarmed the rest of the men, only to be confronted by fresh reinforcements who had only arrived from the road. Adding to the danger was a Loessian ambush party who had joined the fray.

Erich was locked inside a Soramian carriage – Lolth hesitantly reunited him with his doll, who he called “Sir Egg”. Upon taking possession of it, there was a great explosion, and a large armored figure manifested whose legs trailed away into a tendril of glowing smoke that snaked its way back to the now-overturned carriage.

Sir Egg and the party dispatched the remaining troops except for one Loessian, who escaped. After the fight, Sir Egg dematerialized, and Erich was found unconscious.

The party made rendezvous with Kolya on the road back to Silbertal – apparently the Caravan had hastily struck camp in the middle of the night and was headed this way along the road at full speed. At a temporary stop alongside the road, Erich was presented to Dima, who in turn escorted him to Management’s vardo. Lolth pursued stealthily, as was able to see Erich led up the stairs and inside the wagon – whose interior didn’t seem to be a wagon at all, but instead a large, luxurious mansion. Dima noticed Lolth after closing the door.

Management’s vardo was not seen the next morning when the caravan got back on the road. Dima insisted that the plan was to meet back up with Management at Hannelflusse.

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Episode One
A Most Desirable Painting

The party was given a mission: to find their way to a house in the forest outside Silbertal, and to remove from said house a large painting. Anyone encountered in the house was to be returned to Management alive.

The party undertook a fact-finding mission in Silbertal to learn more about this house and its resident. They discovered him to be an unpleasant potion seller named Mayfield (Old Mayfield, “Mad” Mayfield, depending on who was telling the story). A local shopkeeper related a particular story involving his having refused Mayfield’s shoddy goods, and later discovering Mayfield attempting to burn down the shopkeeper’s building. Other accounts reported that Mayfield had not been seen for months, and that the last time he had he was accompanied by a mysterious hooded man wearing Soramian robes.

Content that they knew who was in the woods, the party took a careful, stealthy route through the forest to the location of the house – and discovered no house at all, just an unusual tangle of trees and root mass. Upon throwing rocks at the mess to judge the safety of it, Lolth managed to discover an opening through the overgrowth, which led to an underground hollow containing the house, which had apparently been violently pulled underground by massive tree roots. The husks of giant insects were littered everywhere, including an enormous cow-sized hercules beetle just inside the front door.

The party investigated the house, discovering an unusual book in the ruined library, and eventually making their way to the second floor where the painting was discovered. Upon examining the painting, a voice called out to them from a strange bell jar in the room, claiming to be Mayfield, and offering the party a rich reward if they would instead do his bidding. The party opted to consider the offer later, taking the bell jar and painting with them – but upon removing the painting from the wall, the dead insects became reanimated by a faintly glowing purple mist, and attacked.

Upon killing the giant hercules beetle (by pulling its head off with a grappling hook), the insects fell silent. The party headed for the front door, and as the painting crossed the threshhold, there was a loud noise and a fat, disheveled man materialized and fell backwards into the house. The tree roots came to life, pulling the remaining load-bearing walls down, and the house began to fall. Lusus attempted to rescue Mayfield, but was ultimately crushed under the falling rubble – the party pulled Lusus to safety (where his significant wounds were tended to by Barabal), but were unable to save Mayfield. They found a strange device worn on a cord around his neck, which seemed to correspond to the unusual book found in the library.

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