I resume my journal recollecting the adventures of the Rogue Collective and I find myself with a heavy heart and disturbed soul. As you may recall from where I left off last, our compatriot Tyvarius is missing from our party. We believe him to be held captive by the Necrodancer who has also taken the Deck of Many Things from our estate Serpent Bloom. On a more positive note, maybe, we have been joined in our travels by Marmin, a gnome of some apparent skill (I’m not sure in what exactly) from Ecru.
After resting and restoring ourselves for battle, we determine our best course of action to retrieve Tyvarius from the clutches of the Necrodancer is to proceed to Disentia Township based on the clue/suggestion of Ilfarin Wildscribe, the Green Knight. We use our Epitaph to travel to Ecru and journey north to Disentia and the Phyto Florae Combine.
Upon arriving at Disentia, we find a most unusual community compared to many of the places we have visited. There are no guards or walls here – either the coterie protecting this place is extremely confident in their ability to defend it or extremely foolish. The township itself seems to be overrun by some plant that runs like veins all over everything and pulses with a blue light giving the whole place an aura of being underwater. I soon notice as do my companions that none of the buildings in town are marked in any way to help one find their way about. Therefore, we have to use some observation to eventually identify a pub house.
On the way there we note a most unusual statue in the center of town – a man surrounded by books. The man seems nondescript and we wonder whether the point of the statue is to celebrate something like knowledge or learning. Of note, a hand is missing from the man.
We proceed inside the pub house and though our efforts are crude, we manage to convince a barmaid to assist us in pointing our group to someone who may help with gaining entrance to the Combine. We are directed to proceed through a back door outside the pub house. Clearly this is a setup for our party, but we decide we have little choice but to see where the path leads.
Once outside we are approached by a band of four – a halfling, a dwarf, a human and a dragonborn. The human introduces himself as Mob Birkenhead with the coterie. He is very discouraging and dismissive toward our efforts to obtain even the smallest bit of information explaining the coterie does not share what they know. He also informs us they have been watching us since we entered Disentia (big surprise there!). Eventually we succeed in convincing him to take us to the Combine, a chore he turns over to Mob Haley, the dwarf in the party.
Once at the door to the Combine, we knock and are greeted by an old wizard named Stafford Sidwell of some apparent repute based on the lengthy titles he recites to us. Between our own introductions and the discussion regarding our efforts to locate the Necrodancer, Sidwell tries to keep some Blink dogs that appear to be his pets at bay.
We do learn that another party of three, carrying a fourth, showed up shortly before us. Sidwell also shares that the individual leading that party seems to be after the same goal the Combine pursues (well, along with their general curiosity and interest in increasing knowledge) – how to alchemize the magic of an artifact in way that leads to control of the raw power of the magic contained therein. The problem is figuring out how to contain this power within a host. This sounds very much like the constant theme we run into every time we cross the path of the Necrodancer – others working for him to create a living vessel he can control for the magic needed to unleash the Nightmare Anathema.
Sidwell tells us the party is still present on the grounds of the Combine, but before we are granted entry, we must provide some aid. He wants us to find out what happened to the hand missing from the statue. Reportedly, two days prior it was sliced off by a gnome with an especially fancy blade – at least, according to some stories.
Tally casts a spell to detect magic and determines that the same magic imbued in the statue also surrounds our party and is faintly present in the path we have traveled. (I should digress here and note that Tally also spent some time speaking with the plants surrounding the statue – a most curious trick – and while not especially useful, he does determine the plants do not like Sidwell and the students from the Combine. This leads to Sidwell reconsidering some of his actions in how he treats the plants.)
I suspect Marmin may be the gnome who took the hand. He denies this and challenges the rest of the party to empty their bags to prove they do not have the missing hand. As the sole member of the party who was opposed to his joining us, I defer. Unfortunately, the hand falls out of Jax’s bag. This is most curious as we know he has never been here, so clearly it was planted by someone else. The question of who that might have been is lost amidst the attempt to defend his honor before Sidwell. Melody helps with that somewhat by casting a spell to mend the hand back to the statue. This seems to please Sidwell who agrees to let us into the Combine.
As we enter, we are informed that before we can proceed we each must touch a circular globe in the middle of the entryway. Sidwell tells us that this will serve as a test to ensure we are not up to some nefarious goal to bring harm to the Combine.
Melody goes first and as she touches it, it seems like but a blink of an eye passes when a flask appears in her hand. The potion in the flask has some strange effect on Melody as she can no longer speak the common language. I deem she is able to communicate with Jax using the Infernal tongue which I understand although I cannot speak it.
Each member of the party proceeds to touch the globe and upon the glassy surface images appear of people and places and events that I can only assume are reflections of memories of their own lives. Upon touching the globe myself, I see my father – Josidiah Moonwhisper. Ah father, how I miss you.
The appearance of my father has a profound affect on Sidwell who inquires as to my relation to the Elf in the image. I inform him that he is my father. Sidwell summons a Kenku named Moora. She tells me that my father was a member of the Resolute. Apparently he was involved in an effort to save the world by calling upon the pantheon of gods of old times to return. However, in the attempts that took place, two demons were unleashed – The Debt and The Bride. Moora provided some basic information regarding these two, but I will need to engage in deep study and research regarding them. Could they be the ones responsible for my parents’ deaths? And what am I to make that my father – and perhaps mother as well – were members of the Resolute? It sounds like they were at peace with the gods and even wanted them in this world unlike some of the god killers (or I should say “want to be” god killers)?
With this information and everyone passing the test, Sidwell points us to a tower where the other party – which we believe to be the Necrodancer and his partners – is staying. At that very moment an explosion rips through the tower.
We hasten our way there and head down a long hallway. This hall is filled with some glowing gnats that quickly surround me, Raylin, Tally and Melody. Obviously they are attracted to magic. At that point a second explosion occurs, blowing out the glass windows that dominate the hallway walls. I suffer some minor injuries from the flying glass.
We then enter a room that appears to have been a lab at one time. Now though, everything is a wreck and many chemicals are spilled on the tables and ground. We quickly move through this and come to a room that appears to be a library.
In the middle of the room there is a pile of books that almost seems to be alive. To try to verify this, I cast Living Measure and determine that it is in fact an Enigma Collector. I also become aware that the Enigma Collector can consume the written word, which concerns me as I carry both my spell book and the Legerdemain. I recommend we proceed around the Enigma to a door at the top of a stairway – that should lead to the tower. But the Enigma has other plans and moves to intercept our group forcing us to do battle.
I manage to cast a Fire Bolt (13 damage) and blow a few books off the pile, but a most curious burning sensation fills my hands. As the battle proceeds, it quickly becomes clear that my ability to tap into the magic forces of the world has been drained. The same has happened to the other members of the group. This forces me to withdraw to the lab in order to protect my books.
In a most odd occurrence, Melody follows me and starts throwing books at me. I start to recall my concerns and questions I had about her after the battle at the docks of Barmesa.
Jax succeeds in destroying the Enigma Collector pile. Knowing our prey is so close and likely has Tyvarius with him, we decide to proceed with a confrontation. I do let the party know that I will be of no aid as I am bereft of my magical abilities and the same will be true for the others.
At the door, Jax and Raylin are able to peer through the door lock to see the Necrodancer and two other figures (with their backs to the door) standing over the body of a wood elf prone on the floor. Poor Tyvarius!
Raylin tries to pick the lock, but discovers it is magic in nature and he is unable to unlock it. There is a riddle above the door that reads – “A riddle without an answer”. Melody deduces the answer is “a riddle” and this causes the door to unlock. Before we can sneak in though, Melody knocks on the door. She knocks on the door!!!
Another explosion occurs and Jax rushes in. I catch of glimpse of two figures fleeing through a hole in the wall with the lifeless elf. Remaining in the room is none other than Livingston.
Most of the party proceeds in to engage in hand-to-hand combat with Livingston. This proves challenging as I note on the the floor there are colored alternating squares that cause pain to those crossing them. We also note some figures of statues lining the walls with symbols. All of this seems reminiscent of the game known as “Kings and Castles” and we figure each member of the party has to move in a manner consistent with one of the game pieces.
As for me, with no magic available to me, I hide beyond the doorway on the staircase leading up unable to offer any assistance to the party. I can hear the battle rage on and at one point I manage to keep Melody from flying up into the air from one of Livingston’s spells. Why I caught her I do not know though as I am beginning to think she may be in party with the Necrodancer.
Thanks to the heroic actions of our party, Livingston is eventually defeated. Melody and I manage to help gather up the unconscious and the mortally wounded and use the Epitaph to transport the party back to Serpent Bloom (taking some dirt from the courtyard first in hopes of returning here directly once rested).
As I draw this entry to a close, we are no closer to rescuing Tyvarius from the clutches of the Necrodancer. The only good is that we have managed to eliminate Livingston, though I am saddened that I was not able to offer any aid in the battle and feel like I have let down the Collective.
Meanwhile, I believe I have no choice but to be even more wary of Melody and what her true motives may be. I pray that I am mistaken. On the plus side, I do have to give credit to Marmin who willingly rushed into battle against Livingston and fought a valiant fight. Perhaps I should reconsider my hesitancy to have him join our party.
While Jax, Raylin, Tally, Melody, Marmin all rest and recover from the battle with Livingston, I also wonder what has become Smich, Shady and Maldor. Hopefully they are doing well wherever their paths have temporarily taken them.
Finally, I am left wondering about this new information concerning my parents. Members of the Resolute? Attempting to contact the pantheon of old gods? And what of these evil demons, the Debt and the Bride – are they responsible for my parents’ death? Am I on a path to battle demons? If so, can I prepare myself and become strong enough to prevail? So many questions…