Ninety-Nine Problems

Session 31: Spores & Salvation
"I would be honored to stand vigil over your fruiting body"

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JInn’s disease was progressing at an alarming rate. The others knew if they didn’t reach Iriswood soon the infection would take over his body. Chari sped off through the Wailing Valley towards the university. Picking their way down the trail Micah and Jinn argued about Cordyceps, unaware they were being watched by two hungry hill giants.

Just as it seemed the pair would be overwhelmed, they were rescued by a timely intervention from Sir Bartleby and his new friend Kristoff Estevan, a Zephyr of Iriswood. The Knight of Cups had remained behind to smooth things over in Kellabine before hiring a guide through the mountain and had, consequently, arrived ahead of his companions. The rest of the journey proceeded without incident, save Jinn’s insistence that Bart never leave him alone with Chari and Micah again.

Upon arrival the party got down to business. They asked one of the acolytes of the College of Divination to scry upon Esper Sherman to ensure her safety. However, they were startled to learn that the Head of Guard Dispatch had been imprisoned in an unknown location. Their only clue lay in a vague direction and a coat of arms. Chari, determined to find a method of communicating with Isabella Driftlace back in Jarrow, went to explore other areas of the school. In the process she met a rather excitable tabaxi named Odallie in the College of Evocation. The two bonded over a love of dangerously explosive magic.

With some of the greatest masters of magic in Galiesia at hand the Dragon Punchers decided to take a closer look at Micah’s sword. After preparing a number of protective sigils Professor Danwrick took a look at the legendary weapon. He revealed that the blade was suffused with a malign intelligence, not inhabited by a demon as Sir Bartleby expected. What’s more, if they were able to locate key components to its creation, there was a way to destroy the object. The time had come for a serious talk about what to do with Cordyceps.

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Session 30: Water & Worship
"I guess I'm all grown up now"

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Standing in the temple chamber Jinn recalled something about a dead religion? Or was it a dead god? It was clear they were in an elemental place of worship. As the group explored further they encountered a complicated network of culverts connecting different areas of the building. The ceiling of the main room swirled in a network of storm clouds that burst overhead as the group puzzled over one of the locked doors. With lightning and acid raining down upon them, they dove into one of the culverts only to reemerge in a chamber with a gibbering mouther. When the creature (and the dark unicorn Chari inadvertently summoned) was defeated the party opted to take a brief respite while Thunderstrike, in the form of an octopus, scouted ahead.

Making their way through the passages the group came into an enormous cavern. Small waterfalls spilled over platforms down into a large pool below. On an island at the center of the pool lay a tablet on a plinth. Curious about the artifact, the party descended to investigate. It was Chari who noticed they were not alone—a huge elemental watched them from the water’s depths. Opting to avoid a potential confrontation, they left the tablet undisturbed and clambered back to the upper levels.

On their way out they came across the long-dead body of an adventurer. As he rifled through the remains Jinn discovered a coded message on a thin piece of metal. However, he was only able to partially decipher it. Having had their fill of exploration, the party returned to Jasper and Cobble to inform them that their antagonistic neighbor would no longer be a problem. Besides, Jinn was beginning to feel under the weather.

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Session 29: Toads & Tunnels
"We should try to minimize the crime"

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The party set out for Iriswood University hoping that Sir Bartleby would catch up to them. Jinn and Chari foraged for provisions with varying levels of success and accompanying illness. Micah followed a game trail deeper into the woods where he met an unexpected individual—a cyclops tending a flock of barbed rams. The shepherd agreed to trade one of his “sheepie sheeps” for “shinies” from “the mean lady under the mountain”. Unclear quite what that meant, but very hungry, Micah agreed.

The group reconvened and set about finding the entrance to the Mean Lady’s home. Along the way they observed a roc hunting more barbed rams farther up the mountain. Quickly realizing they, too, were in danger of becoming a tasty morsel themselves, the party dodged into a nearby cave. Chari, inadvertently getting her tongue stuck to a glacier toad, once again discovered a valuable lesson about licking her environment.

Moving deeper into the subterranean chamber, they came across a strange creature named Cobble. Cobble, and its friend Jasper, were a few of the disgruntled denizens of the underground network of caves and tunnels. By their descriptions, the Mean Lady, it seemed, was both a naga and not a particularly good neighbor. The pair offered the group a safe place to rest for the night, but had little to offer in terms of food outside of a few suspect mushrooms.

In the morning the group faced down the naga in her lair. After the battle, as they were searching through her hoard, Chari discovered a hidden passage to an underground ruin. Following the halls the party found themselves in an enormous antechamber with strange, celestial carvings and a mysterious fluid fountain. While the rest of the group was unaware of what they had stumbled upon, Jinn had a fairly good idea…

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Session 28: Crime & Catastrophe
"How much food do you have in your pants?"

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The group split to explore Kellabine and take care of personal business. Chari and Jinn sought out means of long-distance communication. Shopping concluded, Jinn made his way to the fair in Tremack circle. There he met a dwarven fortune-teller who gave him an unexpected, and eerily accurate, reading.

Meanwhile, Sir Bartleby brought the captive Ice Demons to local law enforcement. However, after receiving a bounty for turning over Ashlyn and the sorcerer, the paladin elected not to mention the involvement of his two new acolytes, Quoyora and Tulai, in the outlaw gang. Entrusting the pair with his adventuring journal and their friend’s bounty money, Bart sent them to Calicia to be formally inducted into the Order of the Chalice.

Micah decided to have Cordyceps inspected. If the weapon was actually cursed, perhaps Kellabine was the place to have it removed. Unfotunately, the sword seemed to have other plans. The scene Micah returned to was truly horrific. The shopkeeper, crushed from the inside, lay in a puddle of black ichor in the shape of a strange sigil.

The ensuing comedy of errors culminated in Micah’s interrogation by the head of the guard in the middle of the night, Jinn slaying Thunderstrike, Professor Iri leaving the company of the Dragon Punchers, and Bart becoming lost in the surrounding lands while searching for Chari. All things considered, the trip could have gone better.

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Session 27: Swords & Standards
"You do have lovely teeth"

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The group reunited with Jinn in Pontill and introduced him to their new companion, Professor Iri. While the rest of the party dealt with the bulette problem, Jinn had been tending to the town’s psychological well-being. However, the adventurers were eager to be on their way and decided to leave with the next caravan to Kellabine. The villagers were particularly pleased with this arrangement, as attacks from the Ice Demons had increased.

The morning they were set to leave, Jinn and Micah engaged in a light sparring match. What was ostensibly a friendly lesson in the importance of armor turned to a harrowing battle as Micah began attacking his friend. Fortunately, Bart was on-hand to intervene. While Micah was knocked out the paladin attempted to communicate with Cordyceps. Instead, he received a brief—but troubling—insight into the sword’s motivation. When he awoke, the group confronted Micah about what happened and agreed that action must be taken to address the evil in their midst. In the meantime, however, they agreed he was probably the best candidate to watch over it.

About this time Chari revealed that she had taken the liberty of naming their adventuring group and providing them with banners. They were now known, quite officially, as the Dragon Punchers.

On the journey to Kellabine the caravan met with a small band of Ice Demons. A particularly strange and brief skirmish ensued. Though the leader of the band was slain in the encounter, several members raiding party were taken prisoner. Over the next few days Bart succeeded in convincing a pair of them to aid the Dragon Punchers in their cause, provided the rebels were shown mercy upon arrival in the city.

The rest of the journey proved relatively uneventful. The group arrived in Kellabine, secured lodging, and began to prepare for the next leg of their quest to Iriswood University.

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Session 26: Mounds & Molds
"Now my blood itches"

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In the morning Micah decided to follow up on a farmer’s request for help while Jinn slept in. Recently small mounds of dirt had appeared in the halfling’s fields, destroying his crops and creating a general nuisance. None of the usual remedies against vermin seemed to have an effect. Between Chari’s keen senses and Thunderstrike’s underground tracking, the group trailed the source back into the woods surrounding Pontill.

At the edge of the forest they stumbled upon a strange individual. A tabaxi professor, on a somewhat circuitous route to Iriswood University, had lost her way.Since she had been searching for strange phenomena in the forest, and seemed to have at least a passing familiarity with the area, the group invited Professor Iri to join them. Soon the party found themselves back at the same ruins Chari and Jinn had stumbled upon not a few days previous.

Following Chari’s lead, everyone dropped through a hole into what appeared to be an ancient kitchen. Although the ruins on the surface had suffered the ravages of time, the underground portions of the estate were slightly more intact. However, much of the building was overgrown with fungus, rot, and various creatures that now made their home in the former Sibilans estate.

After thoroughly exploring the remains of the building the party ventured into a network of tunnels bored through one of the side walls. As they investigated the caverns, a fierce bulette ambushed them . The creature had presumably extended its hunting grounds to the farmlands outside Pontill. After a pitched battle the heroes emerged victorious. Returning with a trophy from their kill, they assured Farmer MacGuffin that his crops were no longer in danger.

On the way back into town Bart received another message from Aered. Whomever Jinn had been in contact with in Glassfog, she was less than pleased and on her way to the city.

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Session 25: Necklaces & Nightmares
"It turns out fear is a lot scarier than we thought"

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Jinn and Chari made their way through the Wraithwood to Iriswood University, hoping they might meet up with Bart and Micah. Unusual terrain led Chari to believe they were trekking across a man-made structure rather than natural ground. Further investigation revealed another ruin of House Sibilans. Sounds of revelry met them as they broke through the undergrowth and moved out of the forest. Following the music to a small village, they were surprised to meet Sir Bartleby and Micah in the midst of an impromptu fete.

The two gentlemen had spent the past few days investigating the strange disturbances in Pontill. The source, they determined, was a small boy named Edmond. After speaking with the boy and his father, Harper, they devised a plan to draw out and distract the creatures with revelry in order to thwart “the dark man” who came to visit Edmond each night.

The group waited in ambush and sprung the trap. With the entity seemingly dispatched the party rushed to the aid of the villagers who, beset by animate dreams, were in a state of panic. Fortunately, quick thinking and level heads prevailed. Trouble behind them, the rest of the group (and Pontill) recuperated while Chari kept watch. However, it rapidly became apparent the situation was not resolved.

Once again rushing to the aid of Harper and his son, Jinn dispatched the creature and began searching for the source of its return. Bart remained on guard while Chari worked to prevent it from re-manifesting. Underneath Edmond’s mattress Jinn found a small stone amulet engraved with the sigil of House Sibilans. Micah used Cordyceps to end the dream spectre once and for all.

In the morning, after a hard-earned good night’s sleep, Jinn and Bart finally had an opportunity for candid conversation for the first time since the party split. Chari, following all that had happened in the Wraithwood and subsequent events, tendered her resignation as Jinn’s bodyguard.

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Session 24: Departures & Dread
"We're here to enact heroism!"

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Aered‘s news from Jarrow was troubling. General Irador was at the Front, Esper Sherman had been reassigned outside the city, and Jinn’s mysterious contact had had unforeseen repercussions. The group determined the quickest way to return to the city would be to head for Iriswood University and request teleportation services.

In the days that followed Micah awoke from a strange dream. Jinn and Bart shared knowing looks as their companion described the moment Charles Gilbratore received Cordyceps. Frank conversations were had regarding the nature of the sword and what transpired with Sakesu Windrider in the Feywild.

Nearly a week later, Chari spotted a netherspark, likely a by-product of the Shadowfell portal, moving with purpose through the underbrush. At the same time, Bart spotted a familiar figure watching Chari from amongst the trees, just as had happened a few weeks previously on the journey to Lost Prince Lake. Weighing their options, and concerned about the potential destruction it might cause, the group fell upon the netherspark. In the midst of battle Calla rushed to Chari’s side. Unclear of the huldra’s intentions, Jinn quickly dispatched the fey as the monk looked on in horror.

As the party regrouped it became increasingly clear that Chari, upset by Jinn’s actions, had fled. Realizing this, Jinn left to retrieve her. Eventually comprehending the finality of their friends’ departure, Micah and Sir Bartleby broke camp and continued on towards Iriswood University.

The pair soon came to Pontill, a picturesque town at the bottom of a small valley. The townsfolk, while friendly enough, were unwilling to go out after dark. Everyone they spoke to seemed on edge. After passing a night filled with strange sounds and mysterious entities one thing was certain: the people of Pontill needed rescuing.

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Session 23: Vaults & Veils
"Being sneaky is the walking version of lying"

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The group successfully defended Sir Bartleby from the flying abominations, and made their way towards the imposing castle above the town. A voice spoke to Bart along the way, offering advice and assistance. Lor, as the fetchling was called, requested the group help him retrieve his scarf in exchange for his assistance in the castle. While the rest of the group seemed amenable, Jinn adamantly refused—demanding they search the castle before anything else. Lor seemed taken aback, but agreed to the terms.

The party made their way in through a back entryway bordering a steep ravine. Lor provided the group with instructions to the vault and disappeared into the keep, assuring the group he’d find them later. The labyrinthine hallways led them to a locked door leading into the castle vault. Inside they found myriad treasures, but one particularly caught Chari’s eye—a small, black orb similar to the one they received from the Lord and Lady of the Forest in the Feywild. No sooner had Lor warned them of limited time in the vault than the guards arrived on the scene.

After their daring escape from the castle Lor explained his situation: a tombstone fairy held his scarf hostage and he was unable to retrieve it himself. The group made their way down to an enormous graveyard to confront the creature. However, the “scarf” was actually a funeral shroud and the situation was perhaps more complex than Lor had let on. After a prolonged confrontation Chari grabbed the shroud and made a mad dash towards the portal. Jinn set the “scarf” ablaze while Micah and Bart watched in horror as Lor’s head slid off and his body slumped to the ground.

With the earth shaking below them, the City of Nod collapsing nearby, and no time to lose, the group made a break for the rapidly closing planar gateway. With the help of her friends Chari narrowly avoided being cut off in the Shadowfell until the next full moon. However, no sooner had they escaped the Plane of Shadow than they needed to rescue Micah and Bart from a watery grave as the bridge between worlds dissolved and the lake reverted to its normal state.

Exhausted and shaken from the experience, the group pulled themselves into the cave where they had stayed previously and made camp for the evening. In the early hours of the morning Bart was awoken by a sending from Aered with urgent news regarding Jarrow.

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Session 22: Gateways & Guidance
"This is probably as close to heaven as you'll get"

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Bart was greeted by a voice only he could hear issuing a series of questions regarding his companions, and an offer: the unseen speaker would grant him the power to undo their greatest regrets. The Knight of Cups declined. One’s experiences, both good and bad, shape who a person becomes, he reasoned. The rest of the party looked on in horror as their paladin was suddenly wracked with pain, his blood seemingly on fire. Bartleby’s vision went white before shifting into a vision. First, he was being led through the forest by a slight woman with blonde hair and a warm smile. Next, on a ship heading towards the Fool’s Gate the massive storm looming on the horizon. In the final scene Bart found himself with the same woman, this time standing in the middle of a place he recognized as the Glittering Wastes of central Khard. She gestured with a shrug to the remains of a huge beast trapped within the glass. The final test passed, Bart came-to and the Guardian revealed herself to the party. A massive gynosphinx sat before them, smiling.

Given the opportunity to speak with a powerful, ancient creature, the group peppered her with questions. Micah gained a clue couched in riddles as to where he might find the remains of Charles Gilbratore’s lost armor. Chari learned her parents were known to the sphinx. Bart received a name for their enemy: The Ushers of Seudihr. Their curiosity somewhat sated, the sphinx deposited them back in Caelvoran near where their journey into the ruins began.

Serina’s map, which previously led them to an entrance to the Feywild, had another location marked nearby. During the journey Chari spotted a figure watching her through the trees, but the individual vanished upon pursuit. Given the description, Jinn and Bartleby suspected Calla was following them, and warned Chari to stay away for her own safety.

With a week of downtime before the next full moon, the group took a chance to relax and recuperate along the shores of Lost Prince Lake. During a swimming race Chari came across a weeping maiden in the rushes. The maiden attacked and the group found themselves trapped on an island in the middle of the lake without their gear. Through some quick and clever thinking they bested the creature. All that remained was an small, golden locket containing a pair of portraits. The name behind the lake became a bit clearer.

On the night of the full moon a strange phenomenon caused the surface of the lake to smooth over and reveal a dark portal. The group stepped through and found themselves in ruins of a city. Making their way through the dilapidated buildings Chari and Jinn watched in horror as one of the dark creatures circling overhead caught sight of Bart and began streaking towards their companion. The paladin, particularly impacted by the gloomy surroundings of the Shadowfell, had stopped in the middle of the streets and was completely exposed.

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