The party heads first for the orphanage. They note that the floor is covered in just a few inches of water rushing from mini-waterfalls or rivulets on the walls, apparently a seasonal runoff from the Barrier Sea’s intrusion underground near Barumila. It flows rather swiftly toward small gutters carved into the walkways at which small children (mostly dwarven) are currently playing. A wagon is unloading fine childrens art supplies far fancier than what might make sense given the wealth of the area, but this is given no notice.
Salazar heads inward to find one of the couple Gittes told them about who run the place. He finds her and attempts subtlety at first, with a little mind-reading. She’s unwilling to cooperate, but it’s clear she knows something.
Soveliss attempts stealth, while the man who had been dealing with the caravan returns to the central structure where Salazar quizzes the dwarven woman.
At the patron’s arrival, Salazar launches his questions again with less subtlety, and the man relents.
They are paid to look the other way while children are taken, or used as messengers, or while messages pass through the orphanage.
In fact, the art wagon which just left, left with a child. The supplies (and a sizable sum of gold) were traded.
The party immediately sets off to track down the wagoneers. Using pass without trace and Locate Person, they follow well out of sight, and are led to that place where Sulfin first lost Soveliss in the tunnels.
Though the wagoneers did not see them, it quickly becomes clear they were not unnoticed, as a party of two bruisers, a warlock, and a skilled drow swordsmen poof into the space and a melee ensues. The supposed minions of Grimjaw do not prove too much, and the party succeeds.
There’s silence for a bit. And soon another figure appears. A tiger-like backward hand pipe smoking demonic being.
This, surely, is Grimjaw.
Well, actually, no. He introduces himself as an acquaintance of Grimjaw. And he has, as a favor during their mysterious negotiations, offered to rid him of the party.
However, the demon was fooled, and was sent to his demise by Grimjaw who already estimated that the Paladin, at minimum would provide the necessary end to his partner. Or at least the GM and Grimjaw said so.
Repurposing the wagon to a barricade and setting up guard, the party rests for the night, keeping their living prisoners bound and watched.
The following morning, unmolested over the night, they retrieve Archmage’s patron, Eynghvar. He brings his unusually large scroll case and they find their way back. Now it’s Enghvar’s turn to transport them over to the other side.
But he can’t.
Why can’t he? Just use some of the scrolls, and then cast it yourself.
He can’t use magic. He only uses scrolls.
The party realizes he has never not used a scroll.
Son of a bitch.
The party corners him and forces him to reveal himself. Well, turns out he’s sort of a rogue patsy for Locke the clever business man, who knew the elite would accept a dwarven mage before they’d accept an Orc. So he set Eynghvar up as a puppet, but that puppet got bold and went solo, and there wasn’t much Locke could do to touch him, lest his secret get out. So Eynghvar had been casting spells with an amulet that protects from magical mishaps.
The party has him hand it over, and uses the scrolls themselves.
Well, no surprise, Grimjaw was prepared.
A otyugh as a garbage disposal, a couple of aberrant creations, a front line of plague dwarves, and a Spectator at his side. Oh, and that ulitharid Vorceredolus in the background stood guard by two wraiths, the one who had been dominating the sahaugin under the water temple.
Grimjaw welcomes them to his lair, finally happy to meet face to face.
“I apologize for the rude welcome you received before.”
Grimjaw continues on, explaining that he has had plans for some time for Barumila, but only recently has been accelerating them with help from his Illithid ally, and a recent incredible discovery.
He also apologizes for the plague. A total accident. He arrived with intent to take overHe was merely developing ways to create a biological agent to turn dwarves into aberrant slaves, but one of the test subjects had a common flu at the time. He had intended to use the weapon to strike into Barumila, but with its efficacy as a plague, he was content to wait until a boiling point, which had recently been reached. A point where an assault could guarantee success.
Then they came along. Salazar, with his plans.
He had wanted someone maliable. Someone corruptible, someone he could influence and control, possibly even without realizing it (to limit exposure of himself). And in that way, he found the perfect candidate in Valdi. Confident and sure of himself, but utterly corruptible and manipulable.
Grimjaw was prepared to keep talking, but Salazar had other plans, and interrupted with a fireball that completely obliterated the viral dwarves, and gave an opening for the rest of the party to attack.
Jeremy charged, taking out the spectator first, though taking damage.
Torinn attempted to charge around to the left of the beholder, though being restrained eventually by grasping tentacles grown from the wall.
Soveliss found that his bow mysteriously continued to operate even within the gaze of the Beholder.
Salazar dove to cover behind an experimenting table.
Vorceredolus did not move, prompting shouts of “traitor” and “betrayer” from Grimjaw.
The battle was swift, and brutal. Arrow after arrow from Soveliss, spells flung from Salazar. Powerful divine smites from Jeremy. The battle looked good, Grimjaw was taking heavy, heavy damage the first few rounds.
Then things changed.
Jeremy was lifted and held midair in front of Vorceredolus, indifferent to the battle, but never above devouring a mind. 5 separate attacks on Jeremy while he was held mid-air. 5. Five. Five. 5 attacks. Every single one, Jeremy, suspended in air, limbs flailing, still managed to dodge, deflect, and parry. He looked like he would survive.
However… The very next round, Grimjaw hit Jeremy with a sleep ray. He failed his save. Incapacitated, and in the arms of a voracious mind flayer, Jeremy did not survive.
The next wave of attacks, Grimjaw is faltering. Still, he fires one more shot at Salazar. A disintegration ray. The ray strikes Salazar, but he does not yell. In fact, he almost looks ready for it. Salazar is struck. The skin from the point of impact cracks, and glows red from beneath the surface. In milliseconds, the cracks and red glow grow to the rest of his body. A flare of energy from the origin, and Salazar is turned to fine, grey dust. His equipment falls into the pile of ash that was once our wizard and future dwarven king.
A violent counter-attack. Soveliss fire a retributive arrow. It is the killing blow, striking directly through the center eye.
The two survivors turn to face Vorceredolus. Bitterly angry at the death of Jeremy, but weary and anxious to fight another plainly powerful foe.
Vorceredolus drips with the detritus of Jeremy’s skull. Slithering, slimy tentacles quiver and there’s a sucking sound that could only be the illithid equivalent of him licking his lips after a fine meal. However, a raspy voice enters their mind.
“I am not your enemy.”
Still bitter, but still exhausted and unsure of their chances, Soveliss replies, “Be gone, then.” Or something like that.
The ulitharid produces from his robes what can only be the missing piece of the orrery. A small, golden astrolabe. Vorceredolus’ eyes glow green, and the astrolabe begins to move and spin with the same energy. Then something unique.
A feeling like a thousand invisible doors opening all around them. A feeling like falling, like remembering being on a wild rollercoaster (mah immersion!). The strong smell of ozone.
Suddenly, a wavering unstable portal rips open behind Vorceredolus. The feeling of nausea and reality warping confusion intensify. He steps through the portal, his wraith guardians wisp into nothingness and disappear. Then the portal closes, all the while he never breaks eye contact. The world returns to normal.
The otyugh has broken free and has begun chewing Jeremy’s corpse.
A green ring of energy opens under Jeremy’s lifeless body, and a green, translucent image of Jeremy (sleeping, head intact) rises into the air as if pulled by strings tied to his chest. The green light pulses, flowers and grass growing at its edged. Then the soul of Jeremy is pulled under.
A thick vine emerges from the center and crawls over Jeremy’s ankle, up his leg… torso, into the mouth of the otyugh and out the backend. The otyugh gives a squeal like a stuck pig before siezing and then falling, deflated. The vine continues to “snake” it’s way to Soveliss. Surrounding him. His bow thrums with energy, shakes violent, and bursts into tiny flecks of light.
“Aw fuck, my good bow!”
The light forms several spinning halos around his wrist, all at slightly different angles. They spin and spin before closing in on Soveliss’ arm. There is then a powerful, booming voice in Soveliss’ mind that he recognizes to be the voice of Bahamut. “Return to Lere, with haste!”
The lights fade, the vine retracts, and the green circle closes in on itself and disappears, leaving behind the ring of grass and flowers.
There is a realization in Soveliss now that his bow is wicked sick. He will spend days turning it off and on.
Torinn moves to retrieve Salazar’s belongings and inspect his dust. The bird which had previously been lying motionless erupts into life, red eyes aglow. It seems to spaghettify and whip into place at Torinn’s shoulder. Instantly the image of an orb headed figure above a blue and green cloudy world appears to Torinn.
“You must continue the path…”
They gather what they can, retrieving the axe, and scooping Salazar’s ashes into a nearby unused urn. They note the location of the lair before returning to the upper city (knowing they’ve left non-magical Eyngvhar outside with criminals. Bound criminals, but still. Soveliss brings the eye with him, for good measure.
They march immediately to Horgrim. Horgrim is dealing with the grim news that just in the past hour, the infected of the Dregs have become wild, and an outpost setup by the hospital to administer the cure has been overrun by the viralkin, and everyone killed.
Soveliss delivers the news. He delivers the urn to Kahma. It might not be said that theirs was a union out of love. But they had a powerful respect for one another, and Kahma is very deeply stricken by the news.
He next delivers the axe to Horgrim, know it’s what Salazar would have wanted.
“I can’t say that I have earned this with my actions so far. But I will strive every day from here on to do what I can.”
With the axe in his hands, and Valdi seriously discredited by the news, though our players will not be around for the next moot, Horgrim is all but guaranteed victory in that regard.
They next hand over the prisoners, who are immediately escorted to the dungeons for questioning.
Finally, Soveliss presents the eye, and explains in detail what happened and where they must now go to get more answers.
However, on their way there is a rush of guards heading in the direction of the dungeons, and lots of shouting. Horgrim and party descend to find the cause of this ruckus.
By time they arrive, dwarves are carrying out two covered corpses, the floor is covered in blood, and a serene, bloodied Gittes is sitting stoic in the rear of a cell.
“These then,” Torinn inquires, “were the men responsible for what happened to your family?”
A silent, sullen nod from Gittes.
Torinn turns, crestfallen, and explains to a furious Horgrim what has happened.
Horgrim, known for his temper, calms down. He understands.
“I cannot say that this man will ever be allowed to wear the badge of a detective again. He murdered two unarmed prisoners. But…” Horgrim looks to Gittes, “I can say that I will not see him punished far beyond what he has already endured. For now, he stays, though.”
Torinn tells Gittes that they won. It’s over, Grimjaw is dead.
Gittes is relieved, and says maybe when he gets out he’ll travel. Soveliss offers Bilgundum, and Gittes seems to like the idea.
“Yeah, Bilgundum. I might just do that.”
They say their farewells, share a solid moment or two about everything that has happened, and leave. Most of the guards there already know Gittes, know how many people he has delivered to them. They don’t seem pleased to have him in a cell, but when the players return later to give their final goodbyes, they’ll see that he is well taken care of. He has decided for sure that he will be leaving Barumila. Maybe one day he will return, but not for a while.
They return to Grimjaw’s lair, and begin digging out the rooms. There is a vault where Grimjaw kept valuable magical treasures. Possessions he himself had little to no personal interest in, but which were valuable as means of bribery, reward, payment, etc.
There is what amounted to a bedroom and office space, where volume after volume of bragging, dictated journals sat on a desk with a lone chair. Fortunately, but not surprisingly, Grimjaw documented everything he had done, to be able later to fully detail the depth of his greatness. Much might be unreliable, but it is certainly a start.
Finally, in the rear is a much more expansive testing area, many more tables, tubes, etc. But the most alarming is the enormous floor to ceiling tank with the gargantuan, tentacled monstrosity suspended and apparently inanimate in the back. It resembles the slimy tentacled creature that has been hounding the party, though larger, meaner, and more… “finished”. The party leaves that one alone.
After gathering Jeremy’s body and belongings, he is cremated and ashes sent back to his family. His funds, along with a matching lifelong contribution from Barumila, will be sent back to his family as well, and a statue of him and Salazar promised.
With most of the business concluded, they rest. The tournament that was planned to honor Salazar as potential king, is now reformatted to honor the saviors of Barumila, especially Salazar and Jeremy.
Soveliss joins the archery competition, and almost certainly would have won, were it not for the participation of the Axe and Hammer brothers. They do not seem to have resolved their differences. But at the award ceremony (1st place hammer, 2nd place axe, 3rd place Soveliss), they do share a handshake and mostly amiable nod.
Enter Toro. Soveliss and Torinn from their royal perch are able to watch the wrestling competition, wherein a goddamn giant outclasses almost every single competitor save for one, Thum. He’s the one single person to give the Goliath a fight. Burly, hairy, probably drunk. A stone-dense mass of muscle barely contained by dwarven skin and hair. Even so, at the end the Goliath heaves him into the air and… sets him down gently outside the ring. This earns a hearty laugh and slap before Thum leaves to get another drink.
And that’s pretty much what happened.