Continuing their adventuring of “We should probably actually explore the surrounding territories on our capital’s border” the group headed southwest from where they encountered the Winter Wolf in the middle of the night. Unfortunately their passage was blocked by a river that was connected to the Tuskwater Lake – the same lake their capital bordered. As it was turning out this body of water was pretty damn big.
While the river had no natural place to cross, that wasn’t going to deter out nature going group of adventurers! Ogg’s warhorse and Lucius’ Dragonhawk companion easily crossed the river while a cut down tree and some ropes were necessary to get everyone else across safely. But at least no one was swept away.
Continuing along the path of the Tuskwater lake they encountered a natural mud bowl close to the shore…the mud filling the place was bubbling softly and seemed to be naturally heated by some sort of geothermal activity. Not to mention the rolling stench that seemed to waft over the party in waves of putrid odors…the place seemed like a natural pit for all manner of fungus and mushrooms as well – some towering out of the mud at over ten feet tall! Cassie and Lucius were the nature experts this time and discovered a rare kind of mushroom growing out of the muck. The Black Rattlecap mushroom was only about 8 inches in height and scattered around the whole mud bowl and was known to be used in various kinds of foods and even some magical properties when used correctly in various rituals or magical spells.
In addition to discovering the Rattlecaps, Cassie (who managed a 32 on her Survival check) realized that the huge moss covered boulder over there was not in fact a boulder at all. It was one of those…giant plant things. A Tendriculos! That’s right. A carnivorous plant with an intellect only slightly higher than an animal, easily over twenty feet tall with long plant tendrils that pop things in its giant maw and expose them to a paralytic poison while slowly digested by acid!
Oh and the more you make noise and move around in its presence the higher the chance it notices you!
…Cassie, how close are we that you can see that thing? Thirty feet? (Hooray for the blind oracle curse coming into play!)…its moving isn’t it? CRAP!
Initiative was rolled as the group squared off against the mighty Tendriculos while standing foot deep in stinking mud. Beaudreaux managed to keep the creature staggered with a shivering cold spell, but it was not enough to stop the creature from snapping up Eleanor paralyzing the poor southern belle dinosaur and popping it into its maw. A timer was now on to rescue Beaudreaux’s beloved dinosaur companion.
Both Lucius and Cassie started lighting up torches, knowing that only a bludgeoning weapon or fire damage could cause a Tendriculos’ unnatural regeneration to stop. If you did not have either of these things when fighting a Tendriculos it ultimately would never die. Ogg and his faithful warhorse’s powerful charge abilities were hampered by the inability to charge through the deep mud but the combined efforts of the group were beginning to wear the creature down…and then it reached out with its tendrils and grabbed both Cassie (who was bearing flame) and Valerie (who was using her warforged arm to deal bludgeoning damage to it) plopping both of them inside its maw. While both girls managed to resist the paralytic poison – they were now inside the creatures stomach alongside poor Eleanor.
Then, Cassie’s player handed over the Plot Twist Card – Gluttony …the poor Tendriculos had bitten off more than it could chew. With Cassie’s torch billowing smoke throughout the creature’s stomach it hurked once, twice, and then vomited Eleanor, Cassie, and Valerie back into the mud while the others looked on in horror. The creature flailed its tendrils and would not stop vomiting! It was everywhere as its maw flailed about covering everyone and everything.
“I will never be clean again…” Valerie
“You think fullplate keep slime out…you be wrong” Ogg, on raising the faceplate on his helmet to scoop Tendriculos ichor off of his face.
A final well placed arrow from Lucius popped a spore laden sac on the plant monster and began deflating it, the creature’s death throes like a sad Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man until finally, completely flat the veggie corpse was spread across the mud bowl.
Ya know, disgusting as this creature was…the naturally heated mud of this place could really come in handy if put into the proper hands… (Mud Bowl counts as a Resource! fanfare)
Off to the west of this area stood a ghostly looking tower off in the distance, on an island in the middle of a small lake. The group had heard about this from Tarvis’ rumor gathering before they left the capital…this must be that ‘haunted place where the lines between worlds are thin…” Candlemere island, on Candlemere Lake.
Beaudreaux was excited to explore the place! But…that requires crossing the lake to get there. We’ll get a boat! ….uh we don’t really have boats. There are some fishermen back in Valdrik we could borrow them from! …but those are only really designed to hold about two people at a time. The most advanced boat at the capital could still only be pushed off of the shore…lack of a proper Pier prevented any advanced boats from being necessary or even possible.
Sidney could make use some Swan Boat feather tokens! …but he’s not here…
MEANWHILE, BACK IN VALDRIK
Sidney: achoo! …huh. That was weird. Welp, back to inventing stuff.
The group descended into complicated discussions of elaborate ways to use Beaudreaux’s flashy spell Campfire Wall (which the group had been using lately when bedding down for the night.)
“We should keep this spell up all the time!” Beaudreaux
“We can carry around a source of flame in a wheelbarrow or something and be surrounded by fire all the time!”
“Imagine showing up on a Swan Boat surrounded by fire…that’s the right way to make a first impression.”
(GMs Note: I had never heard of this spell before tonight but it is apparently in the APG as an evocation spell. It creates a 20 foot radius sphere of FIRE from an open flame source that lasts two hours per level and grants total concealment to anyone on the opposite side of the flame, does fire damage to anyone passing through the fire, and illuminates them with torchlight that makes them plainly visible. So while this does make a giant “HEY WE ARE CAMPING HERE” sign for anyone seeing the fire from afar, it does make a natural deterrent for wild animals. This thing is awesome for traveling parties.)
If they were going to get any kind of boat transportation to check out this Candlemere place and find out if it truly was haunted they were going to have to get back to Valdrik and get themselves some reliable water transportation.
An alternative plan for reaching the island was also discussed – after all Beaudreaux could wild shape into an aquatic animal if need be. But the group still had no idea what kind of dangers if any lived in the Tuskwater. So the southern half-orc from the Shadow Marches did what any druid would do: ask the local wildlife. Using the Druid Spell “Commune with Birds”
Beaudreaux called all of the local birds within a mile radius. The spell allowed the druid to talk to all of the local birds and gain a consensus answer for a single question – “Are there dangerous predators in the Tuskwater Lake?”.
A veritable menagerie of birds answered the call. Beach going birds, tropical birds, flightless six foot tall axe beaked birds, hummingbirds, predatory birds such as falcons and hawks…and since it was a bird and in fact nearby this also counted Lucius’ very own Dragonhawk companion!
For ten minutes Beaudreaux walked among the birds with clucks, ticks and flapping his arms like wings to find out what they knew of the surrounding area.
“Tell me Aurum (the Dragonhawk) what do you know of the local area.”
In a cockney accent the bird responded “I’m new to the area meself you know I don’t know nuffin about no lake. But since I ‘ave your attention you should tell ‘im to feed me treats more often.” (Aundair, the country of origin for Dragonhawks, is practically magical Great Britain after all)
A consensus was finally reached however and the birds confirmed that there were creatures in the lake big enough that they considered them dangerous predators. So aquatic dino-rides would probably not be the best approach.
Crossing between the Tuskwater and Candlemere lakes via a connecting river the party made their way back towards Valdrik while simultaneously exploring the last unexplored border hex. That evening they witnessed the rumored “Candlemere Lights” from the lakeshore…watching mysterious lights bobbing, weaving and dancing around the ruined tower.
As they explored the final hex near their hometown they discovered a mud and thatch hut in the middle of another swampy mud hole. The hut was surrounded by a pleasant wrought iron fence and a cobblestone path leading up to the front door. Assorted rows of vegetables and herbs lined a small garden area that was guarded by a pumpkin-headed scarecrow. A wooden post was planted in front of the wrought iron fence that read in everyone’s native language “No Solicitors. Go away.”
A shiny tempting bronze bell hung next to the front gate of the fence that proved too irresistible for Ogg.
(This group is going to have a running thing with ringing bells I just know it…)
The group had found the source of one of the towns rumors – the “old hag that eats children and consorts with demons!” In truth, as far as the group can tell, the hut is the home of an old elven (drow? They aren’t really sure) woman whose skin has turned green, her hair whispy and thin who is missing most of her teeth and was hard of hearing. Introducing herself as “The Old Beldame” rather than give a proper name the grouchy old woman grudgingly accepted the strangers into her home at dusk and made tea for them all while asking what they were doing out in the middle of Xen’drik. More adventurers I presume?
“Well no miss we’re actually securing the nearby borders of our town, Waterview.”
“A town? You mean there are more of you?” replied the old woman.
“A few thousand actually. We’ve been here for six months..”
“Good heavens I really must get out more…”
The Old Beldame’s small hut was covered wall to wall with tiny bits of clutter here and there. Scrolls hung from the ceilings, mud shelves were formed in the walls and were filled with little knick knacks here and there. Any dishware was mismatched sets that were likely traded with passing adventurers or made from the nearby clay and mud from the marsh she lived in. A strange old broad that liked sassy banter though seemed to honestly take offense at being called “beautiful” by Beaudreaux.
The other notable fixture in her home was a large bookshelf, with a great stand placed in front of it containing a large black book with a rather large lock on it.
Noting that the old woman had a knack for arcane power the group offered her the Black Rattlecap Mushrooms they had managed to save from their battle with the Tendriculos. The Beldame knew what they were and even where they were from…offering to trade them a fair amount of her magical creation services in return for the rare mushrooms. It seemed a good deal all around so a bargain was struck.
Cassie helped to place the Rattlecap Mushrooms in a nearby cabinet in the Beldame’s kitchen while the rest of the group gathered their things, and accidentally knocked a small knick knack out of place while placing the mushrooms in the cabinet. A small figure, barely a few inches in height shaped like some sort of elk skull – but in the form of a helmet. Huh. Weird. Cassie placed the item back in the shelf and bid the old woman good night.
“Before you go…a bit of advice if you’re planning on visiting that Candlemere place…I can see it in your eyes after all. People say it’s haunted but it’s not. Those lights you see? Will O’ Wisps. Dozens of them. They seem drawn to the place for some reason…be careful.”
No one in the party knew precisely what a Will O’ Wisp was aside from old folktales of leading travelers astray in the forest and getting them lost. Malicious evil things.
Without further incident the group of Valerie, Lucius, Cassie, Ogg, and Beaudreaux made their way back to town. Beaudreaux was stopped shortly after the gates by a few of his scouts – Jenkins and Rider. “Sir we’ve been looking for you for days, hoping you would make it back soon. Listen we have a…situation…that needs your attention…”
With an ominous warning by his scouts Beaudreaux excused himself to take care of Marshal business while the others settled back into town.
A tired exhausted secretary crawled her way to the desk of her boss, Sidney d’Cannith dropping a humongous stack of papers on his desk. “S…sir…the project is completed. May I go home now?”
“Well let’s see what we have here.” Sidney replied as he began flipping through the stationary. There was nothing official on any pages, but a slow moving image of Sidney’s beloved daughter DeeDee began skipping down a street. She encountered a puddle. She laughed and jumped in it. She bumped noses with a duckling. It was super adorable.
“Three minutes forty five seconds.” Sidney nodded with an impressed grin. “You’re relieved for the day.”
Crawling from the office with her hands like withered husks the poor public servant made her way home for the day.
Trouble is afoot as the Marshall investigates the death of two citizens and the group coordinates plans for the rest of the year…next time, on Kingmaker!
“Howl of the North Wind” Quest Complete. 2000xp
Three Hexes Explored – 600xp
Tendriculos defeated – 2400xp
Black Rattlecap Mushrooms Quest Complete 2000xp
The Old Beldame and her Scarecrow 5600xp
Total XP = 12,600 / 5 = 2520 each