Characters: Gronja, Indus Ederix, Vondulyth Grimtoken, Wennicus Winterbottom
Game Date: 14/12/14
- Flowers start turning up at the villa addressed to Gronja from a not so secret admirer. She crumples up the note, tells the delivery boy to seek better employment, and gives him two silver coins. The flowers disappear two days later. Vondulyth has started handing them off to a street urchin girl each morning who sells them for coppers. Devalyn Shore contacts the party and the paladin goes to see what he wants with a chip on his shoulder.
- The merchant recently lost several gems identical to the one he used to bind a fire elemental and power his experimental flying ship. Devalyn believes he knows who stole the gems and asks the party to recover them in exchange for a meagre recompense of gold, downplaying their recent accomplishments in Jordan’s Crossing as ‘pedestrian’.
- Vondulyth impresses on his Devalyn that his financial offer is closer to what the party will accept ‘each’, rather than as a sum total. Especially if he intends for Gronja to be involved. The merchant wistfully asks about the barbarian, his former lover, and if she has received his flowers. Vondulyth tells Devalyn that he must really know very little about the barbarian if he thinks that flowers will curry him any favour.
- The two men strike an amicable deal for gem recovery, but the party will only depart when one-half of their payment is delivered to the villa. The next day a flower arrives, but made entirely out of gold. Gronja receives the courier, but recognizes him as the same boy who delivered flowers from Devalyn earlier. As such, she sends both him and the flower away, telling the boy to share the wealth with his friends.
- The barbarian doesn’t realize that this flower was actually one-half of their payment up front, albeit annoyingly disguised as a romantic gesture. When Vondulyth realizes what happened, all because he’s been keeping the fact that Devalyn is hiring the party a secret from Gronja, he runs after the courier. The paladin recovers the golden rose, minus several petals, already passed out among a handful of street urchins.
- Vondulyth gives the boy a gold leaf for his troubles, promptly converts the rose to currency, and apportions Indus and Wennicus their share without loss, while splitting the difference between himself and Gronja. The paladin accepts partial blame, thinking that he’s probably in some way responsible for pushing Devalyn towards the gold flower idea in the first place.
- The heroes climb aboard their battle wagon and head out with Vonduyth’s disciples, during which Aster and Indus argue about the pronunciation of a Draconic word. The older sage allows the young rogue to believe he won the argument for the sake of ending the discussion, which seems to satisfy him. Along the way, the party is stopped by brigands demanding a road toll. Indus sends up Adonhim to scout around, who spots flanking gnolls in the wheat.
- Vondulyth goes out to meet the enemy, but is surrounded, poisoned, and beaten to unconsciousness. His companions pick up the slack with fury and rage. Wennicus runs along the backs of the wagon horses, alights on the lead mare, and fires at his favoured enemy, taking out the leader with a well-placed arrow. The gnoll minions are promptly cut down, allowing the gnome ranger to heal Vondulyth and their wagon to make up for lost time on the road.
- The heroes pass through Mireton and make sure that there haven’t been any more abductions since they were here last. Gronja visits the grave of the gnome girl to pay her respects and is comforted by an old gnome woman. Afterwards, the heroes make haste to the same tower where they meted out justice to the slavers. According to Devalyn, the person he believes to be responsible for the theft of his gems has since taken up residence in the old structure.
- The heroes leave the battle wagon a mile away from the tower in the care of Vondulyth’s disciples and head through the forests on foot. Wennicus circumvents the tower beforehand, looking for tracks, but only finds signs of hunting. The paladin climbs a tree and looks for the mysterious mountain he spotted the last time he was here, a cresting peak that wasn’t there before, but it seems to have disappeared.
- The party approaches the tower stealthily and head for the same door they used before. Indus doesn’t even get a chance to pick the lock before a bestial umber-coloured hulk bursts up through the ground and knocks him over. Gronja tries to attack, but is addle-minded by the confusing stare of the creature. Indus cleverly casts the illusion of a bucket over the creature’s head so that nobody else has to avert their gaze.
- The fierce guardian takes a toll on the heroes, but their focused attacks eventually prevail. Indus picks the lock and the party make their way inside. Much to their surprise, despite looking exactly the same on the outside, the interior of the tower has been completely renovated. The decor is immaculate and palatial now. Even the statue of Gruumsh has been carved down into a statue of Olidammara, the god of trickery.
- Indus suggests that the party should proceed with extreme caution, as he suspects that tower is excessively trapped. The rogue isn’t wrong, as every door turns out to be rigged with a lethal mechanism. Indus manages to deactivate most of the devices, but not all, sending Gronja into a series of poisoned darts that leaves the barbarian feeling queasy.
- Another hulking brute of umber is summoned by their intrusive activity, the mate of the first, which the heroes dispatch with almost military efficiency. Wot the badger explores the tunnels through which the creature emerged and finds a network of criss-crossing burrows beneath the tower. The set of double doors leading out of the main foyer proves no less jury rigged. Indus takes Vondulyth up on his suggestion to deactivate any remaining traps at a distance, using his Mage Hand cantrip.
- While searching the adjoining room, Indus spots a letter on the desk addressed to him specifically by name, but so does Vondulyth. The note makes no sense to the paladin, but includes a valuable onyx gemstone. The two comrades agree to discuss the matter later, having realized that their presence was probably anticipated. They don’t have high hopes of finding the gems anymore, but finish their due diligence regardless.
- The last area to be explored is an earthen storage room beneath a trap door. Three chests are spaced apart in this place, two of which Indus doesn’t think look quite right. The rogue attempts to pick the middle chest at a distance with ranged legerdemain, but forgets to check for traps first. A gout of flame erupts out of the container, destroying the contents inside, and prompts the two book-ending chests to animate and attack.
- The heroes bottleneck the mimicking creatures as they climb up through the trapdoor and make short work out of the threat they pose. Examining the fire-trapped chest afterwards, the party find remnants of what appears to be one of the gems Devalyn hired them to find. Gronja finds two barrels of the cloud giant ale she recently sold, along with an extremely valuable barrel of well-aged spirits, which they party adds to their inventory. Vondulyth spots a book about siege weapon construction in the library and appropriates the volume.
- Shortly before leaving, the paladin climbs to the top of the tower on a lark, where he first spotted the mysterious mountain, and sees the crested peak again from this vantage point. Apparently the location of viewing is crucial to visibility. Gronja and Indus can’t see what Vondulyth is talking about, but Wennicus confirms that the paladin isn’t losing his mind. This leads the Vondulyth to believe that the promontory is somehow fey in origin.
- Returning to Jordan’s Landing, Indus suggests talking to Devalyn about the remnants they recovered. Gronja, who has been kept in the dark about their employer, doesn’t understand why Devalyn is being involved. Vondulyth artfully contrives a reason that makes consulting with the merchant the most sensible course of action (in light of the flying ship he built powered by such a gem). The barbarian sees through the obfuscation with a brilliantly insightful turn of mind and accompanies the heroes, where she learns that Devalyn has been their employer all along.
- The merchant confides with Gronja privately, which Indus tries to overhear. Devalyn professes his undying love for the barbarian, but Gronja rebuffs him, saying that she is only interested in a man who can fight by her side. The merchant takes this as a challenge and walks away pleased with himself, having mistaken Gronja’s sentiment as hope for romantic reconciliation. Indus mishears the entire conversation, and comes to believe that Devalyn is actually interested in him and not the barbarian, setting off a few alarms.