I resume my recollection of events at the point where I left off – in midst of a battle with an Umber Hulk and some troglodytes in the depths of the location known as The Digs. The battle still seems to be evenly matched as the Umber Hulk is advancing upon us, but our party seems prepared. Unfortunately, I can only gather that due to the small confines and the mix of powerful magical forces at work from both sides of the battle, an explosion rips through the battlefield. This blows a hole in one of the tunnel walls to an adjoining room. In the process, the Umber Hulk is pushed into that room through the new opening. The rift also scatters troglodytes amongst our party, including a few that are far too close to me for me to feel comfortable.
Unfortunately, Jax, who is in the opening is besieged by troglodytes. This is on top of the wounds he has already suffered and I see him drop to the ground, lifeless. Maldor is close at hand and attends to Jax immediately. I say a quick prayer to Sehanine that Maldor’s attempts to revive Jax will be fruitful. Meanwhile, Tally transforms into some sort of flying creature and flies into the room.
I am faced with a dilemma – deal with the troglodytes surrounding me and the remaining members of the party or continue to press the attack on the Umber Hulk. I trust that Raylin can handle these pesky trogs. Seeing my opening (thanks to Jax being flat on the floor), I cast a Fire Wall to encircle the Umber Hulk. The damage seems to be light initially (17 damage), but I am hopeful that by maintaining the wall we will eventually prevail. The only thing I am worried about is that I do not know where Tally is within the room – hopefully he is able to avoid the wall of fire.
At that moment, a portal opens and out from it comes none other than Alnae accompanied by Melody. Perhaps sensing her power, the trogs and the Umber Hulk start after her. That was definitely a mistake as she closes the portal on the Umber Hulk, slicing its head off and killing it while also clearing the room of the remaining trogs. I can only assume the ones that made it through the portal after Alnae met a quick demise at her hand.
With Jax back on his feet, the party begins to question Melody as to how she came to accompany Alnae to our location while Raylin inspects the remains of the Umber Hulk for possible “trophies”. As this is happening, I realize that Tyvarius has disappeared from the group. I have to guess the explosion in the tunnel somehow transported him somewhere else or perhaps to another plane. I pray he will find his way back to us.
I turn my attention to a figure in the corner only to realize it is Philson, the headmaster from the Hall of Ivy and stealer of hearts!
We commence to questioning him, much to Jax’s consternation as he was ready to put an end to Philson’s life on this realm. Upon questioning Philson, he reveals to us that the hearts of our party are not stolen or missing – the jars and the scars on the chest were merely a ruse, although the jars are on their way to the Necrodancer by Livingston.
That seems like good news, but then Philson’s tale takes a far deeper and worse turn for all of us. It turns out that the scars are not really scars, but are in fact runes carved into our skin. I say “our” as Philson also reveals to us that Melody and I have similar runes, but ours are carved into our calves. What does this mean? It was not our hearts that were stolen, but our souls!!!!
Perhaps sensing the arcane power that flows through so many of us in the party, the Necrodancer commanded our souls be taken from us to help with his attempts to release the Nightmare Anathema. Upon sharing all of this information, Philson slumps over dead. At the same time, realizing we are all soulless, everyone in our party experiences a weakness (all party members lose their racial modifiers e.g. I lost 1 point on Wisdom).
With this new sense of despair and dread filling through the void of our now soulless bodies, a final surprise appears. A gnome materializes out of thin air and introduces himself as Shady. He tells us he is learned in some arcane arts, especially those that might lead opponents astray through false appearances. As far as I and the other party members can tell, he seems to be “friend” not foe. He also tells us that he was accompanied by a holy man, a minstrel type person, a holy fighter similar to Smich, and 2 fighters who are in the army of the Penumbra of Veil.
After taking a short rest in this room to tend to our wounds and replenish ourselves, we decide to pursue the other members of Shady’s party to get them out of the Digs. This means getting through the door on the other side of the room. After tinkering with it some, we discover that the lock on the door is an especially tough one to open due to its construction by dwarves.
As we seek an answer, we find words written in no certain order carved into the wall. I am able to read them (mostly). With the help of the party, we determine they are a dwarvish chant – probably by the dwarves that dug this portion of the Digs. After a couple attempts, we piece the words together thusly:
One, two fisherman’s stew,
Boil on timber and stire with a broom,
Three, four pour it on the floor,
Feed all the beasties, cook up some more,
Five, six mortar and brick,
Weaker than iron, stronger than sticks,
Seven, eight, lock up the gate,
Nothing to do but to hurry and to wait,
Nine, ten do it again,
Pup in the oven, wolf in the den
As a group, we chant out this ditty and are met by the sounds of dwarves down the hall singing the same chant. This also causes the door to unlock.
We head down the hallway quite a ways before coming to a room. Inside we see what appears to be the leader of the troglodytes. He is surrounding by a phalanx of warriors and they are slowly advancing on the remaining members of the group that accompanied Shady. As if to prove his power, the king trog literally takes a bite out of the sword of one of the adventurers.
We attempt a surprise attack, but it is thwarted when we make some noise in the hallway. I proceed to cast a fireball into the room, destroying all the trogs it reaches. However, it does not kill the king trog. My party takes care of that though, but another trog picks up what appears to be a fork and musters the remaining trogs to attack us. As they start to spread into the hallway – there is an adjoining branch – it is quickly looking like their numbers may overwhelm us.
At that point, Maldor creates a small fireball that floats in the air. This scares all the trogs who shy away from it. This is the opening we need to get into the room. Shady then creates an illusion of a rock wall so that it appears the room has never been carved. As we listen, we determine the ruse has worked and eventually the trogs wander off for other parts of the Digs.
After questioning the other adventurers and weighing our options, we decide to use the Epitaph of Travel (after taking some dirt from here in the Digs) to go back to the dock where we came ashore and then resume our journey to Ecru. This is eventually the decision of the party rather than proceeding to the mountain where we believe the Necrodancer will be as we hope we may be able to find more clues or items that will help us vanquish the vile being.
We also determine during our journey that Melody found a dragonborn tracker who agreed to provide aid. Vidia Hama agreed to track down Whitmore and friends to retrieve what we now know to be our souls.
Guards say many forget what has happened in past 24 hours.
Dirt added to our Epitaph bags from just outside main gate to Ecru.
We meet the party of adventurers that we rescued from The Digs.
Decide to bypass Ecru and continue heading north.
We summon the power of the Scrybones of Divinity to determine that there is someone in Ecru that has information concerning our souls.
Return to Ecru.
Meet Farnham who seems to be under impression he bested us in the Digs contest. Fool.
Reports of a man walking around.
Tally speaks with plants about what is causing memory loss.
IT’S THE MOSS!!!! GET OUT!!!
Raylin wonders out loud – “Can I charm the moss?”
Memory goes fuzzy.
As you might tell, the last few lines – basically since we arrived at Ecru – are sparsely notated as I was not able to completely fill out my notes. It seems that I was affected by the moss causing the memory loss along with about half of our party. Fortunately, the other half was not affected and I had scribbled the above notes as we proceeded to this point.
As we continue to try to solve this mystery in Ecru, I cannot help but keep wondering about these runes placed upon me by the Necrodancer or his minions. Perhaps I can figure out how to read and understand them? Maybe I can learn their power and turn them to my own uses?