Greeting the Afterlife
After awakening from their rest, Acindor the Human Fighter, Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard and Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty discover that Jotun Yggdrasil the Mad Dwarf Cleric of Moriarty and Kerla Chog the Human Fighter have apparently wandered off. Before they can organize a search party, a column of light fifteen feet wide and 30 feet high appears on the PATIO. Within they can see a gargantuan female form and the writhing necks and heads of three dragons, all appearing in shadow. The PATIO itself was transformed as if a second image of it made of shadow were overlapping it.
Meldor realizes that they are standing in the presence of a god but he can’t recall which one this is. As the figure does not address them, Davroar takes a knee and saus, “Greetings!”
In response, the figure scoffs and says, “Greetings? You would greet a god as would greet a neighbor?”
Recovering quickly, Davroar groveled. “Forgive my… forgive my familiarity. I am your humble servant, Davroar.”
She laughed without mirth. “It is interesting that you would mention your familiarity for you are familiar to us, Fenris Fairweather. Davroar Hollysword. We are familiar with your dread master, the outsider Moriarty. And more importantly we are familiar with the thing he brought with him when he came from the Otherverse: that abomination known as B.O.B. And here I smell among you the stench of B.O.B.”
Uncertain how to respond, Davroar remained kneeling with his eyes carefully averted, not wishing to provoke the deity further.
Hoping to have better luck, Weddumlir likewise kneeled and introduced himself.
“I know who you are, Weddumlir Aleshield. I know that you were once the one they called Dishrag the Brave. Dorian Fungaltongue born Dorian Griffonsinger, servant of Mung. You were one of the members of the Dragonfire Five, a band of elves who bravely opposed Moriarty but were ventually vanquished. They are the very reason he hates “smellves,” though recently he has oddly found himself a cleric of one. More specifically, I can say you are not and never were Dorian Fungaltongue but you wore his “husk” though from what I understand it was very much against your will. All of the Hallowed had awaited the arrival of the Dragonfire Five to Umbra. When they did not arrive, we knew that something was wrong. We are happy now that at least the husks of Dorian Fungaltongue and Heibelar Goldenleaf have been reunited with their spirits in the Shadow World.
Unnerved by this exchange, Wedd looked to Acindor, who hastily took a knee, introduced himself and added, “How may we help?”
“How may we help?” The deity considered him. “Bhardor Silvertongue. The celebrated Bhardos. Bofril Greybender. Acindor. Acindor was scheduled for destruction yet you wear his husk because B.O.B. is stealing my husks. Actually I hate that term. No one ever called them husks before B.O.B. came to the Seven Worlds. He’s stealing the resurrected bodies of the departed, intercepting them before they enter my domain. Long has the world of Umbra been the place where the souls of the departed are collected for their eternal rewards, but now B.O.B. has been siphoning off souls and then stripping them of their resurrected bodies and then using those “husks” for his own purposes. And you are wearing one of those husks.”
Acindor was uncertain how to respond. Fortunately, she wasn’t through speaking.
“How can we help? I am Khutulun Khan, goddess of the Shadow World, more commonly known as Oxenbane, the name I made famous in life. I am here to repay Everly. And at the same time I am also here to find out how exactly B.O.B. is stealing souls from me.”
“Is there a way you can help to release us from B.O.B.’s clutches?” Acindor asked.
“Umbra has long welcomed the souls of the valorous dead into the Hallowed Rest and driven the souls of the wicked into the Pandemonium. This is the way of the Seven Worlds. B.O.B. calls himself the god of Death and a god of death he may be, but he is not the god of death of the Seven Worlds. He is an abomination and he should not be here. The boundaries of Umbra are meant to grow and expand with each passing year to accommodate the swell of the dying. This is the afterlife that is promised to the Seven Worlds.”
“SO how may we help you defeat B.O.B.?” Acindor asked.
“It has come to my attention that recently one of your number, a companion of yours who also bears the same stench of B.O.B. that permeates you, that spirit was intercepted on its way back to B.O.B. which I now present to you.”
Acindor gasped audibly as the ghostly form of Thril Wolfsbane the Elf Fighter, recently slain in the battle against the Corrupted in the DINING HALL. appeared before them.
“This is our opportunity,” Oxenbane said. “We intercepted his spirit, but I sense that his husk is still here in this place; however, while no one may prevent me from coming to their door, this is not a place I can enter. SMUGGLER SPEAK is sacred to Everly. And yet,” she said, “I sense a …corruption. Everly is silent and is bound by some deep magic. I do not think Ridley and Ripley can act on their own behalf. The good news is that the husk of Thril Wolfsbane still remains here on this… odd piece of rock Everly loves so much. “
“Know this also, another spirit was intercepted with Thril. We were watching Zayn Carthin closely, for it it he who once wore the husk of Heibalar Goldenleaf, one of the celebrated Dragonfire Five whose absence in Umbra first alerted us to B.O.B.’s meddling in our afterlife. We have need of Zayn Carthin for now but we also sense his husk still remains in SMUGGLER SPEAK.” She looked directly at Acindor. “You can help us by finding both husks. If you do, their spirits may be rejoined to their husks but I must warn you that you don’t have much time. Their ghost forms cannot survive long without a body. If you take too long, there may be nothing I can do to repair the damage. Hear me now,” Oxenbane said, “if you do this for me, if you find those husks and stop whatever is causing this corruption in this place, whether you live or die, for the sake of my debt to Everly I will grant you a boon.”
She looked at them gravely. “Do you accept my quest?”
When the adventurers agreed, she departed.
The Sanctuary of Everly
Realizing that the bodies in question, being neither living nor animate at the moment, could be considered objects, Davroar grabbed a forked twig from a tree on the PATIO and cast a spell to locate the husk of Zayn Carthin. Immediately, they were directed back inside the DINING ROOM and from there into the KITCHEN and down into the LARDER. A small entrance at the back of the LARDER led to an underground cave.
They sent the ghostly Thril Wolfsbane ahead to scout out the situation. He spotted barrels that were normally cooled in the usually wet cavern and a bucket on a rope from the KITCHEN well above, but the waters the bucket typically drew from were dried up. Proceeding up a dry bed of the underground waterway, they spotted a dried up water basin surrounded by the obviously suffering roots of the trees above them in the COURTYARD Zayn Carthin had spotted during his first scouting mission into SMUGGLER SPEAK.
Using his spectral sight, Thril discovered a pocket dimension adjoining the DRY WATERSHED, apparently accessibly by this basin. Davroar’s spell confirmed that the husk they sought was to be found in that direction. Crossing over into the SANCTUARY OF EVERLY, the adventuruers came to a large chamber. Two braziers lit the room, so that they could see its four pillars and symbolic decoration. Tiles covered the floor, most of them depicting water or a butterfly-like flower. The tiles near the basin they emerged at were decorated with mountain peaks. Across the room in an alcove, a the tiles around a similar basin were decorated with clouds. In the center of the SANCTUARY, surrounded by the pillars and braziers was a raised platform with another basin. The tiles around this basin were decorated to look like tree roots coming to the base of a tree trunk.
Unfortunately, Davroar’s spell indicated that they should go in the direction of the southeast corner of the room, which was occupied by a six-legged reptilian creature.
Meldor immediately recognized the monster. “It’s a basilisk!” he shouted, carefully averting his eyes. “And it’s grey!”
“It’s been Corrupted,” Davroar realized aloud.
Realizing that they had little choice but to slay it in order to continue their search, they prepared to fight. Acindor lit a torch and closed his eyes. Meldor stepped forward to cast a flame spell, remembering that the Corrupted were very vulnerable to fire damage, but the Corrupted Basilisk caught his eye as he lined up his shot. Meldor immediately began turning grey under the influence of its corrupting gaze! Weddumlir lit a torch and attempted to heave it at the creature, but his panicked toss fell far short of his target. Fortunately, the flickering flame from the brazier between them was enough to baffle the Corrupted Basilisk’s baleful glare. Meanwhile Davroar had been plotting out a strategy. Dashing to the southwest pillar, well out of range of the monster’s corrupting gaze, he cast sacred flame. While he scored first blood on the creature, the radiation damage wasn’t enough to light it on fire. Not willing to let his living companions do all the work, Thril floated over to the Corrupted Basilisk. The basilisk’s corrupting gaze had no effect on the spirit. Instead, the monster felt the sting of the ghost’s withering touch.
The Corrupted Basilisk retreated to the north to get away from the ghost, being careful to keep its distance from the flames of the nearest brazier. It attempted to force Acindor to look in its direction, but the human fighter kept his eyes screwed shut. Instead, he walked toward the sound of the basilisk’s clawed talons scraping against the tiled floor while wildly waving his torch around, hoping to drive it back. Meanwhile, Meldor rallied against the effects of the corruption and managed to shake free of its magical effect. Weddumlir picked his torch back up and lit it with the brazier but his movements caught the Corrupted Basilisk’s attention. As the corruption began seeping into him, he began to feel the Corrupted’s natural aversion to fire. He cast the torch from himself as its heat began to feel unbearable. Being careful to stay out of range of the monster’s gaze, Davroar moved closer and dealt it more spell damage. Taking advantage of his ghostly abilities, Thril subjected the creature to yet more necrotic damage.
The Corrupted Basilisk fled from the ghost, but found an opportunity to bite Acindor, whose wildly swinging torch did not avail him. In fact, he cast the torch far from him in his blind panic. Futhermore, he started turning grey from corruption. Meldor got in position to cast his spell but was unable to concentrate well enough to complete it. Meanwhile Wedd continued to fight against the corruption taking over his body but was unable to shake it off. Davroar hit their foe with a chaos bolt, dealing the monster thunder damage. The ghostly Thril then finished it off.
At the Corrupted Basilisk’s expired in screeching gas and an afterimage of the baleful eye of B.O.B., the adventurers heard a new voice shout, “What?? What?? How did they do that??”
The voice came from the direction of the corner the Corrupted Basilisk had first appeared in. The speaker was dressed as a plague doctor with a long beaked mask and goggles, long robes, a top hat. Realizing he’d been spotted, the figure vanished. As they tried to make sense of the stranger, Meldor had an opportunity to notice that he could sense the presence of magic presently emanating from that corner. On a whim, Thril floated over to investigate and used his deathly cold touch to grasp at the corner.
At his chill touch, the stranger reappeared, holding his hands up in surrender. “I give up ! I give Up! Please don’t hurt me. Please!”
When they asked it to identify itself, it replied, “I’m Nobody. I’m Nobody. Absolutely. I’m Nobody.”
Now that they could get a better look at him, they could see that the creature’s arms and legs were wrapped up but that its limbs ended in bird-like talons.
His mind on the quest at hand, Meldor asked him, “Where are the bodies?”
“Bodies? What bodies? Whose bodies? Nobodies.”
“The bodies of Thril Wolfsbane and Zayn Carthin, where are they at?” the dwarf said.
Nobody shrugged. “Who’s Thril? Who’s Zayn?”
“They’re our companions,” Acindor said. “We’re looking for their bodies. Are any bodies around?”
“Bodies. There’s bodies. Nobodies.”
Taking in their surroundings, Davroar gestured toward the floor tiles and asked, “What can you tell us about this tree? This stump?”
Nobody brightened. “Caw! Caw! No Seed. No Seed.”
“Seed is missing. Seed of Ripley is missing. Rain of Ridley is missing.”
“So where’s the Seed?” Davroar asked.
“Hidden. Not here.”
Acindor asked what the other marking on the tiles meant.
“FLoers life. Water water. Rain of Ridley. Seed of Life.”
They again noted a basin in an alcove at the south wall, its tiles decorated with clouds. It was similar to the one in the center of the room surrounded by tiles decorated to look like tree roots. When asked about the tree trunk basin, Nobody confirmed it was where the Seed was supposed to be. He also indicated that a missing Pitcher belonged in the cloud basin. testing a theory that water was involved in the puzzle, Davroar empited some of his flask into the trunk basin. The tiles around the basin began glowing for a moment but then the light soon faded.
Wedd decided to investigate the apparently magical corner., removing Nobody from it very much against his will. “Wait! What are you doing?” the creature protested. It was only then that Meldor realized that the magical presence he’d felt wasn’t coming from the corner so much as the hat on Nobody’s head. When he related this to the group, Davroar demanded, “Give us your hat. What’s in the hat?”
“What’s in my hat? My brane,” Nobody replied. “My brane will fall out if I take off my hat. No.”
“Well, you saw what we did to that basilisk. We can scramble your brains for you, if you don’t show us what’s in that hat,” Davroar threatened.
Realizing they’d misunderstood him, Nobody blinked and feigned innocence. “My head’s in my hat. Besides I can’t show my face. You are not one of the chosen.”
“Who are the chosen?” Davroar asked.
“The chosen of B.O.B.!”
At this point, Acindor said, “Last chance, give us your hat.”
Nobody taunted him in singsong. “Caw! Last chance, give us your hat. Last chance, give us your hat.”
Enraged, Acindor lunged for Nobody and grabbed his hat. When the hat came off, it loosened Nobody’s plague doctor mask, revealing that he was in fact a humanoid bird of some sort. The raven-faced creatures stared at Acindor balefully with red eyes. In the same singsong voice, he warned, “You’ll be sorry.”
Trying to get Nobody to give something away, Acindor began motioning the hat toward the burning brazier to see if the birdman got nervous. To his surprise, and consternation, Nobody reacted with hysterical cawing laughter, again repeating, “You’ll be sorry!”
Exasperated, Acindor finally asked why he would be sorry.
Nobody stopped laughing. With a wicked gleam of satisfaction in his raven eyes, he said. “Hat bites.”
At Nobody’s telepathic command, the hat sprouted eyes, teeth and tentacles, revealing itself to be a mimic. The mimic surpised him, biting down on his hand hard.
As his comrades rallied around him to dispatch the mimic, Nobody chuckled to himself darkly.