Ninety-Nine Problems

Session 82: Rituals & Retreat
"They committed war crimes on us"

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Whoever Jaskaran was, they were dangerous and must be dealt with immediately. Jinn attempted to stalk further into the temple. However, he was thwarted by the Dragon Punchers’ lack of subtlety. Several cultists, investigating the commotion, confronted the party. The adventurers quickly realized these were medics and not a primary threat. Unwilling to risk detection, the party bound and gagged their assailants and moved forward.

The central chamber of the ancient temple was filled with cultists. Jinn was startled to learn Jaskaran seemed to recognize him, and addressed the elf in familiar terms. The rest of the party, surprised by this development, sprung into action. During the ensuing battle Micah flung several cultists and their magical foci into the summoning pool, activating the ancient stone guardians within the chamber. Both sides struggled against the constructs as the temple slowly began to crumble around them.

In a moment of desperation, Sir Bartleby summoned Aethelynd for aid. The dragon assaulted cultists and statues alike, buying the Dragon Punchers enough time to flee the collapsing structure into the kuo-toa den. Without hesitation, Osdra teleported the party away.

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Session 81: Crew & Catacombs
"Don't you screen your employers?!"

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Jinn recognized the undead creature as one of Zaahir’s crew. After dispatching the abomination they used the finger it had been snacking on to locate the pirate captain. Hidden in a sarcophagus, the unconscious woman was feverish and barely clinging to life. Although Bart was able to cure her ailments, it was clear that she suffered from a greater affliction. The once gregarious individual resembled a cornered animal, non-verbal and skittish. Knowing there was little they could do for her in the current situation, the group said their farewells and sent the two princesses back to Mas’Uld.

The Dragon Punchers pressed onwards to face the Mara’hids’ captors. Living quarters revealed the complex held many more cultists than initially anticipated. The group captured and interrogated one individual within a makeshift research base. The dragonborn academic confessed that the purpose of this expedition was a massive summoning ritual. The person who hired them, Jaskarian, was deeper within the complex.

The party followed an underwater passage and emerged in a dimly-lit alcove dominated by statues of the same creature Jinn murdered in Tilesía. At the end of a hallway an office held maps, notes, and—perhaps most distressing—a flayed humanoid corpse in a cage.

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Session 80: Sisters & Shackles
"That was an invitation to make them not breathe"

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Through a combination of deception and smooth talking, the Dragon Punchers were able to strike a bargain with the kuo-toa. The fish men would show the party where the cultists had gone in exchange for the heads of those that had wronged them. The group navigated a series of puzzles and traps and found themselves outside a makeshift prison set up within the underwater temple.

Inside one of the cells lay a bruised, broken, and unconscious Mani Mara’hid. Bart quickly pulled out the Cup of Faith to heal the princess. Once Jinn removed her shackles she regained consciousness, but did not seem in fighting condition. The group resolved to let their friend rest while they kept watch for the night and set an ambush for any cultists in the area.

In the morning the group resolved to head deeper into the complex in search of Jinn’s other sister, Zaahir Mara’hid, and Mani’s birthgift, which had been confiscated at her capture. Moving through the halls provided a glimpse of strange worship by the building’s original inhabitants, including a bizarre tentacled pool that pilfered a head from Chari’s budding collection.

The party discovered catacombs within the temple. Leaving no stone unturned, they entered. A series of footprints and blood trails led them deeper into the maze to a junction occupied by a creature gnawing on a humanoid finger—Zaahir’s.

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Session 79: Scouts & Sharks
"We get to shimmy through the slime hole"

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The Dragon Punchers, led by Cloud, made their way along the route out of Tilesía and into the kelp forests. Along the way they passed the desolate remains of the sunken world outside the city. The decaying villages, strangely preserved forest and fields, and outposts, long since abandoned by the citizens of Tilesía, provided a strange, bleak glimpse into the past of the sunken continent. After some time the group noticed a large shark following nearby, as well as some movement deeper in the kelp.

Jinn’s investigation led him to a small detachment of deep sahuagin which had been tracking the Dragon Punchers for some time. Curious as to what they may be carrying, the rogue began the delicate process of rifling through their bags. Unfortunately, his attempts were discovered and the sahuagin engaged. In the heat of battle Chari accidentally hit and killed Cloud with a tidal wave. Thankfully, Bart’s quick response afforded the young scout with a second lease on life.

In time, Cloud brought the Dragon Punchers to a series of underwater pools at the base of a large rock formation. Not wishing to put the Tilesían in any more danger, they thanked him for his service and parted ways. Jinn scouted the largest pool and discovered a passageway into a series of small caves. Within, he heard the sounds of whips and muffled voices.

While the rest of the party prepared to explore the caves Jinn and Chari snuck ahead to find the source of the noise. Inside they found a cluster of kua-toa worshiping a strange, whispering statue. Unfortunately, the pair were discovered and found themselves face-to-maw with a group of agitated piscine individuals.

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Session 78: Disappointment & Diving
"This place kind of bums me out"

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It was Chari, a few days after encountering the undead leviathan, that first spotted the pod of mermaids frolicking below the ship. The enormous creatures were friendly enough, though none of the party were able to understand them. The skyship followed for a time until breaking off to find Zaahir Mara’hid and her Wave Riders.

The location was deserted. Icebergs floated idly where a fleet should have been. Sensing trouble, Bart flew down to investigate. With a word, he dispelled the illusion covering the wreckage of the Wave Riders. The Dragon Punchers picked through the broken ships searching for survivors, but found none. They would need to go beneath the waves to find more information.

They bid farewell to Tabitha, leaving her with the crew of The Hornet, and dove in. Deep below the waves they began to encounter the remains of buildings, turning eventually to villages, inhabited by strange, vaguely piscine humanoids. Nestled in the center of an enormous crater, the domed city Tilesía not only existed, but continued to thrive. The natives seemed on edge, but allowed the Dragon Punchers to meet with Sun, one of their city leaders and a mage of the Rippling Eye.

Sun took in their concerns and offered assistance in exchange for knowledge to benefit the city. As Jinn related the extensive history of his family and nation, something finally clicked. On a hunch, he drove a dagger firmly into the woman’s throat, forcing her to reveal her true form. In the aftermath the group was able to enlist the help of a Tilesían scout, Cloud, to lead them to where the cult was likely operating.

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Session 72: Shadows & Siblings
"You sound way less dumb than the sword"

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Dean Sunan and Professor Poplarlachs met the Dragon Punchers upon arrival at Iriswood University. They hurriedly ushered Micah to a secure room at the top of the Divination town. With Soma’s help they summoned Calla back to the material plane. Wherever the fey had been with Cordyceps, it had taken a grievous toll.

Rushing into the tower, Poplarlachs finished preparations and asked who would be sent to retrieve Micah’s soul. Without hesitation—or consultation—Chari volunteered and grabbed the sword. She instantly fell unconscious as her own soul was ripped from her body. The monk found herself in a horrifying landscape of claustrophobic warrens. At first, Micah thought his rescue was yet another hallucination. When Cordyceps’s form arrived and attacked, however, be began to believe otherwise.

Meanwhile, on the other side, Bart, Wilf, and Jinn were forced to fend off wave after wave of shadow efts to protect their friends’ bodies. Adva and Poplarlachs struggled to maintain the protective barrier around the party. Spiderweb cracks appeared throughout the sword as Chari, in the form of a golden dragon, landed the final blow in Cordyceps’s realm. In a final act of defiance, Sir Bartleby shattered the sword before the entity could claw its way into to reality.

It was an emotional reunion for the Dragon Punchers as they updated their friend on (most of) what he’d missed. For the first time in a long time, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. They would finally be able to rest over the next few days. Micah was back.

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Session 71: Birthdays & Briefs
"I'll treat them with all the respect and care that Bart does"

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In the morning Chari awoke to find Aethelynd gone. Drawn to a ruckus at the docks, she found the dragon in a new form, swimming in the harbor. Assuring the guards that all was well, the monk brought the dragon back to the palace to reconvene with the rest of the party. Before heading to Jarrow, Bart and Mani needed to check in with Sir Jarek in Calicia.

The leader of the Order of the Chalice was surprised to see Bart return so soon, moreso when the paladin produced the Cup of Faith. Shaken by this development, he alerted Bart both of the gravity of the situation, and of their sacred duty to celebrate its return. However, the Knight of Cups insisted that the festivities be put on hold until Micah had been delivered from Cordyceps.

Reunited, the party teleported to Jarrow. In the streets they were met by a young fan, illuminating the impact the heroes had made on the citizens. After checking in on the commissions made from General Irador‘s hide and bones the Dragon Punchers dropped in on the Wilmont-Burke estate. Although the ladies Anjah and Tabitha were currently in Glassfog celebrating the latter’s Nameday, Emerson was able to attend to the party. On the eve of rescuing their friend the group spent a quiet evening celebrating their own Namedays, which had slipped by in the whirlwind of the past year.

In the morning the group made a trip to Alderth hold to meet with Esper Sherman and retrieve Micah’s body. The guardswoman allowed them to claim their companion, but was unwilling to allow them to bring him to Iriswood University without an escort.

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Session 70: Trysts & Transformations
"No licking the most precious relic of my order"

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Bart’s magic had removed the curse upon the girl, releasing her true form. The Dragon Punchers watched in horror as she grew into a huge, raging, silver dragon. Unsure what to do, they attempted to defend themselves as the creature lashed out. As the initial effects wore off, the dragon’s faculties returned. It introduced itself as Aethelynd—the very same individual both Sakesu Windrider and Sir Adamar Erendriel had encountered. They gifted Bart with the Cup of Faith. With the artifact in hand, the Knight of Cups had fulfilled his duty.

Realizing that the end of the Oubliette had deposited them squarely at the center of the Caedos Shroud, Mani transported the group back to the palace in Mas’Uld. The group appreciated a hard-earned cleanup before tending to business.

Bart briefly met with the king to announce his success and to introduce Aethelynd. Afterwards, he and Mani discussed what the future held. The princess was hesitant to remain behind in Mas’Uld, but recognized that the Dragon Punchers had business elsewhere. She returned Bart’s Martyr’s Heart, telling him it would do her no good without him there.

With all distractions finally out of the way, Wilf was close to rescuing his brother. He summoned Calla to his chamber. The ranger was willing to strike a bargain with the fey for assistance with Cordyceps The promise of Wilf’s return to the Summer Court, sweetened by some personal dealings, allowed them to reach a satisfactory accord.

Taken with Aethelynd, Chari enlisted Wa’sim Marahid’s assistance in finding appropriate wooing attire. Clothed in one of Priya’s gowns, the monk went to visit the Dragon Puncher’s new companion. The two spent the evening eating and chatting into the wee hours of the morning.

While the rest of his party recuperated, JInn donned a disguise and headed into the streets of the Satin Village. Dressed as The Goldfinch, the rogue found his way to a meeting place of the Hollow Thorn. To protect his family, he sought to put out a hit on himself. To his dismay, the order was taken by his old acquaintance, Riss.

In the morning, they would travel to Jarrow to secure Micah for the cleansing ritual.

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Session 69: Bubbles & Banishment
"When you're done brooding I have so many high fives"

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Chari crawled deeper into the tunnels. A wrong turn in the labyrinthine warren led her to a close encounter with an enormous chain worm. Finding the monk was more trouble than she was worth, the insect scuttled away to search for easier prey. Pressing forward Chari discovered her small furry friend nestled away in the ribcage of another of the dungeon’s victims. Weak and emaciated, barely breathing and covered in open sores, she scooped up her pet . To her horror, his tiny body was now host to a clutch of boring beetles. Chari quickly made her way out to enlist Bart’s help.

Bartleby and Mani, avoiding discussing the finer points of future plans, were interrupted as the young monk emerged from the tunnels with Li’l Jinn. The paladin’s healing powers expelled the insects, allowing Chari to focus on the task at hand: freeing the girl trapped behind the prismatic wall. With Calla’s help the sphere was destroyed, allowing them access. The enormous statue at the end of the room animated at Chari’s attempts to deface it. Gravely injured, the group fell back with the young girl, leaving Jinn behind to face the colossus.

After felling the statuary the rogue scrambled up the wall to find a way out. Above, a gallery of scrying spheres revealed other, previously encountered portions of the oubliette. A large set of obsidian doors seemed to be the best means of escape. With considerable effort from Bart and Oliver, the doors were pulled open to reveal a stairwell leading up.

The girl followed, though she seemed scared and pained. Bart was unable to determine the cause of her malady, though it was clearly magical. Using his paladin abilities, the Knight of Cups attempted to remove what was ailing her. The girl immediately began screaming with pain and rage as her body began to transform and grow.

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Session 68: Poop & Prisms
"It's an onion book."

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In the morning the Dragon Punchers set out to explore the rest of the caverns. The stench of decay led them to an old nest and the decaying corpse of a long-dead purple worm. The party surmised that the creatures they encountered earlier were offspring of this behemoth. Jinn, not one to give up a golden opportunity, dug through the excrement to find an assortment of undigested gems.

Keeping herself occupied, Chari made her way further into the warren. A small den surrounded by golden hair suggested a particularly resourceful aurumvorax had established a symbiotic relationship with these creatures. Thinking Li’l Jinn might be inside, she dove in.

Not particularly keen on squeezing through the narrow tunnel, the group carried on their exploration. In the caverns Jinn inadvertently disturbed a chrysmal in its nest, but was able to parley with the small creature. The end result was a profitable exchange of destroyed crystal shards for precious gems.

At the furthest end of the cavern, behind a shimmering bubble of energy, stood an enormous statue of a fire primordial. Held in its hands, behind a smaller sphere of force, was a small girl looking frightened and confused. Unsure how to handle the conundrum in front of them, Wilf summoned a swarm of pixies for assistance. This proved a rather questionable decision, as they quickly disappeared to summon “someone who could help”: Calla.

The huldra was delighted to see the party again, though could not hide her mild disappointment at Chari’s noted absence. The remaining Dragon Punchers, however, made no efforts to hide their displeasure at this development.

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