Dreamers Deep - A Strange Aeon's Campaign

Storming the Hill Part 3

Ugh, yeah.  So this sucked.  It went well, but even going well, this whole thing is moderately terrible.  Always.

We poked around a bit more on the 2nd floor.  We dug into Lowell's office some, found way too much to dig into right now, but I know we'll be spending some time in there soon (if we're still alive, of course).  Big chest full of books that he apparently found to be more important than most.  Also discovered that someone else has ransacked the office before we got there, so it'll be interesting to try to figure out who/what that was about.

We moved on to the attic, which was all one room, occupied by Lowell's mom, aka ghostybitchfaceihateyou.  She was quite insane, said that the people around town that she has been putting into comas are all "tasty."  She is also apparently immune to explosions of nails.  Fortunately, she is not immune to explosions of fire.  Ding dong, the witch is dead.

At this point, we are wiped.  We retreat back into town and head towards our reclaimed fort, which of course is now reclaimed by the cult.  Yeah, the priest who "just happened to be let out for no apparent reason" was the mirrordoppel.  And a bunch of her (?) friends.  Fortunately we were able to fend them off, and only one escaped.  A new player, who tried to kill Vasily.  Orson tried his damnedest to get himself killed again the regular way.  Also fortunately, the innocents (including Winter) were all still alive.  They were trussed up and ready to be taken into the Hill for sacrifice or something.

We consulted with the Sleepless Agency, sold some stuff, and we've rested up.  Once more into the breech.  Hopefully for the last time.

Oh, and I was able to dig into my old journal a bit.  Lots in there (though not as much as there should be).  One of the main things is a bit more vague information on the tattoos.  I was picked up by a slaver, sold to this Weirilai that we've been earing a bit about, who got the tattoo put on myself, and apparently Istanu at the same time, and given to Lowels. Some other stuff in there that while is interesting tidbits of information for myself, it isn't anything that I really need to share with others.  The big thing though – we need to get these tattoos off of everyone else ASAP.  I have a feeling that they are how we were kept under control in some form.  If we run across this Weirilai, an associate of his, or someone high up within the estate who would have control over the slaves, the existence of those tattoos on us could be a serious problem.

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Storming the Hill Part 2

How am I getting time to write all this down as we're being besieged on all sides by horrors?  Oh well…

 

We decided to quickly check one more of the out buildings before going into the main manor.  The outbuilding was nothing, fortunately.  Not even a poop demon in the outhouse, which, I must admit, is a horrible oversight on the part of this cult.  Shows what a shoddy job they're doing overall.  It is offensive, really.

We look for some ways to sneak into the manor house, but didn't have much success other than a window by one of the main sets of doors. We managed to get the jump on the few guards in that room, and took them down pretty easily.  We jammed the doors so we wouldn't get snuck up on from behind, and went up the stairs.  Up there we encountered a mass of slashing writhing invisible tentacles that sucks up the surrounding blood in the area.  It was…not pleasant.  I'll admit, I'm not doing it justice, partly because there are no words within the common language to properly describe the horror of it.  Hell, even with some of the more…ancient bestial languages, it stretches the bounds of them.  Less said, the better, honestly.

We moved on after, having a door blow up on us for a room that was protecting a couple corpses.  Made sense later, but put it together too late to be useful.  We also found Lowell's childhood room, which he had locked away.  I chewed a new door into the room, and it looks like someone had moved in recently.  Looted the clothing, set fire to the bed.

We then found a floating vampirish head that could cast spells, turn invisible, etc.  Unfortunately I had already used my potion for seeing invisibility with the star vampire.  Still hate that I did not have time to enhance it with an extract, but either that or die horribly to something I couldn't see.

Anyway, floating head.  Tough sucker, but eventually we put it down.  Turns out one of the protected bodies was this thing's body.  Oh well.  The big thing though was some of the paperwork we found.  Lowell's basically wrote out his confession, citing what each of us was to him, admitting that we were enslaved (or at least implying it in one way or another). Also, he is attempting to find the bloody Necronomican.  Because, that's a good idea, apparently.

Resources are starting to get low already, and I doubt that we will be able to finish clearing this place tonight.  Hopefully we can clear a few more of the monstrosities before retreating, but we're not even done with the 2nd floor, we know there is a 3rd floor, haven't finished the 1st floor, and you damn well better believe there is a basement somewhere.

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Storming the Hill Part 1

So after hell night, after which I still feel like ass, and will continue feeling like ass for the forseeable future…alright.  Again, I'm going to say, the items available in this town suck ass.

Anyway, we get back to Sleepless Agency to report, and hopefully find some more information on the not-ghost woman, which…no.  Nothing.  She knows nothing.  Fat lot of good she is on that.  We did pretty well determine that whatever it is, it's based out of Iris Hill.  More than that though, we know that they're holding prisoners there, because the priest that was being held there just showed up in town again, disoriented, shaken, and taking up residence in Old Chapel.  She seems to be on the up and up, or at least she thinks she is, but even she will admit that it makes no sense.  No point behind her release, because that's what Iris Hill did.  Released her.  Said that she could be in good shape after a day or so to recover spells and health, but unfortunately also informed us that we've been on a clock this entire time.  The cultists are trying to empower the star stella to do…something.  And they've been picking up the pace.  They could be done tonight, for all we know.  Might be next month.  But it means that we can't really afford to give a day.  We need to at least attempt to get in tonight.

So we go in, just after dark.  I managed to get my hands on some tunnel creeper so we could go under the thorn wall, and came up by the stables.  Some ghost horse presence in there or something, according to Vasilly, so we ignored that.  Moved on to one of the other buildings, which was filled with some weird barbarian guards who take their jobs way too seriously.  As in they've filed their teeth down to points, they swing their clubs pretty hard, and OH YEAH THEY FUCKING EXPLODE WHEN THEY DIE.

cough Anyway, we clear them, but of course the explosions trigger the attention of the animated topiaries in the main outdoor area. Got two of the three, but the third ran away.  Pretty sentient for what they are, unless they're something else, which is always possible.  Gods I hate this town and everything in it.

We found what appears to be my old house when I was living at Iris Hill.  I found my old journal from that time, which appears to start just after I got here the first time.  And that is all that I found.  Nothing else.  Nothing.

Unspeakable things are going to be done to Lowels when we find him.  And they will continue to happen to him.  Over.  And.  Over.

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Distractions

So we were looking towards starting to go towards Iris Hill, since everything has been pointing there since the beginning.  I might have an idea on how to get in, but need to look to see if the resources are available.  We went over to Sleepless to see if they had any additional information that we could get access to before going in.  Turns out they did, but more of the distracting kind.

OK, first off though, wow, does this town have terrible magic items.  Seriously, what the hell.

Anyway, Iustin's mysterious benefactor who we owe silly amounts of money to was looking for us, saying that he was trying to track down someone.  We went on the trail as well.  Talked to one of the fishermen, who directed us towards the owner of the smokehouse in town.  She's been "helping orphan children" and giving them things to do, place to stay, etc.  Of course, turns out she is a corrupted deep one in transition, and she has been kidnapping orphans to make them change as well.  Getting a bit ahead of myself though.

We went to her place of business, to find that it had been torn apart by fire and combat.  Benefactor got there first, and chased her out.  Directed the remaining kids to go to the Sleepless Agency for the time being.  We pursued, but of course she went into the water and we lost the trail.  We moved to one of the southern most islands of the town to see if we could pick up the trail, only to find three salt water (wtf?) marrow busting up one of her warehouses.  We take them down (the one that grabbed me, to be fair, dropped me when I asked.  I would have preferred that he not drop me horizontally 30 feet away from where we were, but fortunately gravity was there to catch me).  Investigated the warehouse, found it was rigged to collapse.  Found a trapdoor that lead to her lair and a water exit.  No sign of her, unfortunately.

We did find several kids locked up in cages, and beginning the transformation, thanks to the giant pot of green goo.  We got the kids to safety at the fort, and spoke to Winter about them.  From what we discovered so far, they might be able to live a mostly normal life, so long as they keep their heads down and stick near water for the rest of their lives.  Still, will need to keep an eye on them for their own sake and for the sake of others.  Cuz that shit ain't right, as Orson would say.

More people are disappearing, and being put into comas, so we decide to do a night patrol.  We encountered…this…thing.  Mostly looks human female, except she's incorporeal like a ghost, but not a ghost, and also has a tentacle sticking out of her stomach.  Oh, and she has some kind of vampiric touch that puts people into comas.  And she whammied me hard with it.  I'm…not feeling too good, honestly.

Main problem though?  When we managed to put her down…well, pretty sure we didn't put her down.  Just…dissipated her? She sounded disappointed when she went, like we ruined playtime. So…yeah.

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Well, only one got away.

MirrorDoppel got away…again.  To be fair, pretty sure we know where she will be running off to.

We explored the fort a bit more, but other than some hungry dogs, the place seemed to be pretty deserted.  The last place to look was the donjon up on the walk.  They were either there, or they had abandoned the area and fallen back to Iris Hill.

Bloody. Rope. Trick.

We start going up the stairs to go to the donjon, and we get pincered on the fort walk.  Again.  We fell for it again.  OK, so the first time, there was no way we could have guessed that we would be encountering telepathic oozes that could alert the whole fort.  But rope trick?  We should have at least thought of it.

Enormous battle between us, I think there were 9? zombie guards, a sorc, a shapeshifting ooze (freaking oozes!), the dopplemirror, and some big brute deep one.  I could get into detail, but here's what it boils down to.

Dopplemirror got away.  To be fair, that was an amazing dive, and I need to give her credit for that.  Seriously.  Well done.

Everything else died.  There were arrows, explosions, energy bursts, a hippogriff, healing, and Orson thinking that he was invincible.  Seriously man, I applaud your dedication to taking hits so that I don't have to, but after being rendered unconscious multiple times and waking up due to Vasily keeping your ass alive, maybe you should seek a modicum of survival instinct.  Fall back and regroup, believe it or not, is a valid combat strategy.

So, we've retaken the fort.  Sleepless Agency is disseminating the information that we are not enemies of the state (or at least not their state).  Do cultists have a state?  Some do, I suppose.  Not sure on these.

We're taking a day to recover.  Unfortunately that gives the cultists a day to organize, and they know for sure what is going on because dopplemirror escaped, and can easily provide them with information.  Iris Hill is next.  We know it.  They know it. 

But we need answers, they're tied up in some way with Lowels, and even if they're not, we need information from inside that building to figure out what he is up to.  Maybe find a way to get our memories back?  Again, it appears that our memories are not gone, but more…blocked?  Stressful situations have resulted in flashbacks for others.  Of course, I have gotten jack shit so far, so maybe mine are gone.  Maybe not.  I get the feeling that more of my answers will be within Iris Hill proper.

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I don't have enough bombs for this.

Fought some deep ones.  Fought some of the guard/merc/whatevers.  Fought some more deep ones.  Fougth some more guard/merc/whatevers.

Honestly, the big thing at this point was with the mirror doppleganger.  Soul Sliver or something like that, according to Iustin.  It does explain the "trustworthy individual" who was answering at the front gate.  Anyway, s/he/it can jump through or in mirrors, look like a mirror image of someone else, and knows how to use pointy weapons to pretty good effect.  We're busting mirrors now whenever we see one.

We decided to take up camp within the fort itself, in the area where the ghost was, as it was an area avoided by those who had taken up residence here.  We laid down some false trails, etc.  Vasily did go back into town briefly to update the Sleepless Agency, and to properly bury the remains of the ghost.  No point in sleeping somewhere if the ghost is just going to pop back up and jump in and out of the walls at us again.

We got moving the next morning, after hearing them searching for us through most of the night.  They set up some explosive runes by the cistern, so the fort is aware that we're back in and moving.  Killed a couple more merc/guard/whatevers, destroyed another mirror.

I'm wondering if they're still here, trying to maintain control of the fort, or if they have fallen back to Iris Hill.  Seriously hoping they're still here.

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Party's back together
Something something hate rez

After spending the day resting and recovering from the disastrous first attempt to enter the fort, the remaining members of the party settled into the new chapel to make plans on what to do next. Around that time, Iustin kicked the door to the chapel open, threw down an unconscious villager, and told them that the cult was watching them. Winter, the kids, and a boy from town named Sholn(?) were with him as well. There was a long story about how Iustin was rezzed, and then how the cult had been infiltrated by an outsider who had set Iustin free.

Iustin also had a scroll of raise dead and two scrolls of greater restoration, which may or may not have been acquired on credit (spoiler alert: they were). Orson was brought back to the land of the living.

The next day led to another attempt to infiltrate the fort, this time through the town's communal cistern. After using water breathing to breach the fort, the party cleared the basement of a group of deep ones and a ghost that used spring attack and incorporeality to really annoying effect.

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#@#*&^#@^

Orson and Iustin are dead.  And honestly, I'm not sure what other play we could have made.

There were other plays, of course.  There always is.  We explored our options fairly thoroughly, actually.  We looked into tracks.  We discussed information with the Sleepless Agency.  We scouted the town.  We tried talking to people.   We tried following up with the merchant we were talking to, but verified that he was responsible for taking Winter and the kids.  We have all but verified that there is another Star Stella within Iris Hill, but with no information on how to utilize them.  Pretty sure they teleport, but is it teleportation within an area?  Between each other?  Doesn't matter, we don't know how to use them.  There was a note for us from the merchant Jarreth, saying to meet them at the bookseller's at midnight if we wanted to see our friends again.

Obvious traps, areas of questionable access, and missing people.  We decided on trying to sneak into the fort.  The fort that nobody hears from anymore.  That reliable people have disappeared into, that may give us assistance in infiltrating Iris Hill.  We have a plan to sneak in.  It is a good plan.

And we get destroyed because we didn't know that they had telepathic confusing oozes that could alert the entire fort.

There were two oozes, there might be more (gods I hope not).  There were the guards, which I'm not sure what was going on with them, but pretty sure they're undead?  There were Deep Ones wielding magic missile wands.  We got split, and we got destroyed.

GC is down and bleeding out somewhere.  His hippogriff carried him off.  Iustin got surrounded and splattered.  Orson put up an amazing fight, but one good hit and he died, falling off of the wall.  Vasilly and I jumped off of the walls to escape.  We grabbed Orson's body since it was there, but not sure what we can do.  We have no capability of bringing back life, nobody in town is able to.  Our base of operations is known, we are injured, we need to heal up GC, and if we have time, do we go to the trap at this point, to try to save the lives of Winter and the kids?  Would it even matter at this point?

Honestly not being defeatist here, but there is a TON of snap calls we need to make right now if we're going to have a chance to survive the night.

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Running in Circles

We've been spending our time running in circles and pulling threads that lead nowhere.

We dropped off the "witch" back at the Sleepless Building, and they have her locked down for now.  The person that she had been communicating with we think is in the Iris Hill building complex, which we discovered is surrounded by an impenetrable wall of thorns.  We even walked around it to make sure.  There may be an entrance through the gatehouse, as it was reported that some individuals have been seen going into Iris Hill, even after the count took off on his bug boat.

There is suspicion of the fort, as they have locked up and are not letting anyone in.  We went up and knocked, and tried to pull our former clout of working with the count to let us in, but the person who answered refused us entry.  Thing is, with all of the disappearances, one of the few places in town that would allow for holding that many people would be the fort.  The Sleepless Agency has already scouted the warehouses, etc. on the waterfront, which admittedly would have been my first guess.

Then there's the sudden influx of people in town, merchants, traders, people looking to be minor nobility.  Every one wearing yellow, from what I can tell.  Of course what makes things all that much more suspicious is why the hell are they here?  Suspicion is that they're probably some sort of cult.  I don't know if I would necessarily go that far (yet), but it is probably true.  There is no other reason for them to be here.  Seeking the count's favor?  He's gone, and nobody knows when he will return.  Trade?  The town is almost lawless, with only a minor merchant area.  We tried to make some noise of trying to get in with whatever it is that they're going on about, and even got a small bite with someone who talks of getting benefits if the price is right.  Even talked without blinking when we mentioned one of the old gods.  Didn't go much of anywhere at this point though.

We checked out the old temple, that appears to be binding something in?  Whole place is looted except for a golden jeweled cup sitting on the altar, and it looks like there is a circle turned inward around the altar.  Yeah, not going to bother with that.

Anyway, end of the day we go rest at the new chapel, when we hear a call for help.  We run out to discover an agent of the Sleepless Agency unconscious, at the intersection between the fort and one of the two star stella (which, no clue what's going on there).  Took them back to the Sleepless Agency, where we hope they'll recover.  We get back to new chapel to rest…

And Winter is gone.  There's a note, saying to stop snooping.  Hell no.

So, 4 possibilities.  1, Iris Hill.  2, the Fort.  3, the merchant.  4, the Star Stella.

I'm willing to poke into some possibilities during the day, especially info on the star stella with some of the locals, etc.  Maybe even try to get some info out of one of the merchants.  But if it hits night again, I say we should hit the fort.  If Winter is kidnaped, most reasonable place to hold is the Fort.  Worst case scenario, we anger one person, who is hiding behind the walls anyway.

If I'm even willing to wait that long.  I think some fireworks are in order…

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So much not right

So, everyone has those moments where you ask yourself "What the HELL was I thinking?"

For the record, it is especially fun when you really don't remember what you were thinking.

So we wake up in the morning, and go to the Sleepless Building, because if anyone has any information on what's going on, it's going to be there.  CrankyLady tells us that there's some disturbance in a sea cave outside of town, and rumors are that's where the Briarstone Witch is hanging out.  Doubtful.  Whatever.  We decide to go there to check it out, maybe get some answers.

On the way, GC, or Kanan I guess (?), meets an old friend that he doesn't know.  They talk about a card game, seeing him being suspicious down by the docks, etc.  We decide to go see what we can find down there, as the fisherman who has seen things in the sea cave is also in that area.

We go out on the dock, find the bag he and Blue had stashed there and went back to shore without incident.

Just kidding, there was a FREAKING MONSTROSITY OF TEETH AND GIBBERING AND UGLY HIDING THERE.  It swallowed me, I blew it up from the inside, it was nasty.

The bag had some things in it with a note, written to themselves.  So there must have been a suspicion that a memory wipe would be possible?  Anyway, note listed some confederates, people to stay away from, looked to be against Lowels.  Stuff in the bag was a downpayment to someone who was in town for some contraband.

So, two things.  First, fishy stuff in the bag.  Necro juju, nondetection potion, etc.  Where did they get this stuff?

Second, I was listed as one to stay away from, as I was completely loyal to Lowels.  Was I?  What was I thinking?  Was I playing a game, actually against him?  Was I loyal to him?  Did I get in too deep?  Fuck if I know.  I was rolling around this in my head…are my memories gone?  Could I get them back (destroyed vs. blocked)?  If I could get them back, would I want them back, if they lead me back to being loyal to him?

But then I remembered I'm not a fucking idiot.  Even if I was loyal to him, I'm clearly not now.  The things that have occurred would break that loyalty, even if it were true.  And nobody steals from me.

Anyway..met the sailor, he agrees to take us out to the island.  We met the contact in the tavern for the contraband which was…scrolls of Erase.  What the hell.  Highly empowered scrolls of Erase.  Guy says that he can smuggle us out of town.  We ask him to hang around a bit, cover his inn bill, etc.  He says he can.

We go out to the island.  I hate this place…so much.  We were attacked by the vines on the island.  We were attacked by some kind of invisible POS, and then by wolves THAT SHOT FUNGUS DOWN MY THROAT!

Then there was the stupid druid that was blasting us with lightning and tried to get away.  We put her down, but then Vasilly saved her for some godsforsaken reason.  Seriously, why?  When she wakes up she'll just turn into an air elemental again and escape.  I…I don't…gah!

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