The Constable – Recaps episodes 16-21

The party has a short rest and then heads southwest to Wizard of Wines. After We’ahqa summons horses for the party, they turn into a Clydesdale for Galahad to ride on. Kyver jokes, “Look who’s giving who a ride now.” As they ride, Zechs uses Duo as a lookout and he sees a Manor covered in dead vines in the distance. Zechs relays the information back to the team and asks if We’ahqa could talk to the plants once they’re out of their horse form. They continue for a few more miles before reaching a crossroad, then head West towards the Vineyard. “Yes, let’s go to the Vinyard maybe they’ll have good wine!” Kyver exclaims. “These things never end well..” Galahad warns. Arguile quips, “Cat, you know you have 9 lives, but do you have 9 livers?” “Well I was up drinking last night, and I got to empty my stomach earlier…The number 2 felt like a number 10,” Kyver replies. “Hopefully this place has toilet paper,” Arguile shoots back. It starts to drizzle as they reach the Vinyard. The party approaches a cloaked figure at the entrance. “Shanks, are you feeling talking?” Zechs asks. Shanks replies with “I’ll do my best.” He greets the grizzled old man. He wants to know why the party is there. Shanks tells him that they’re looking for the shipment of wine that was supposed to be delivered to the town nearby… He introduces himself as Damian Martikov, the owner and head of the family that runs the vineyard. He continues that they’re in the right place but abominations from the woods and druids have taken over the winery. “They look like dead trees and shrubs but then they start moving.” Shanks offered the parties help. Damian thanks them. Shanks asks, “Where can we find you when we’re done?” To which Damian replies, “I’ll be right here.” Before disappearing into the brush and vines. The party heads to the main building on the property, which they’ve been told is the most active. As a precaution, Zechs sends Duo up into the air to scan the area, unfortunately, Duo doesn’t see anything. Making their way to the manor, trees, shrubs, and vines start to move toward them. The party dashes for the stables to plan their attack but realize the We’Aqua isn’t with them. They’re making a charge at the enemies solo. Frustrated, the party rushes to fight with them. The battle ensues with the multiple blights and Druids. The enemy has surprise on their side, however, the party can set up in better tactical positions and are victorious. Duo, still in the sky at the end of the battle, informs Zechs that there aren’t any other blights but there is a massive tree approaching them from the south. The team finds the barrels of wine and debates amongst themselves if they should take them back to the village. Zechs leads the conversation and the team decides whether it’s ethical or not to take them without clearing the rest of the building. Kyver and a few others agree that the mission is to take the wine and go. Zechs points out that every time they half-ass things go to shit. Kyver and Zechs have a heated moral debate. We’ahqa, in their bear form from during the battle, walks into the discussion. While everyone argues, We’ahqa raises their paw. The party stops and looks toward the bear. Arguile asks, “Yes, Bear?” Franchise swoops down and sits on their shoulder. Through grunts and gestures, We’ahqa explains that Franchise can be a lookout while they finish the mission. Kyver sarcastically asks, “Does anyone speak bear?” Shanks quickly chimes in and explains. They decide to split the party and explore the winery fully, hoping to rid the place of its problem. They split into equal groups of three. Making their way quickly around the building they find two other entrances besides the front door. They make a plan to breach all of the doors at the same time. Almost immediately they’re caught in small skirmishes with Vine Blights and more Druids. But because of their initial stealth and the advantage of surprise, all of these scuffles are short-lived. Once the building is cleared the party searches it for anything that may be valuable and won’t be missed. Finding empty wine bottles, Arguile and Kyver decide to fill a couple from the fermenting casks and have a celebratory drink. Unfortunately, the wine has been poisoned by the druids, and the two become sick. Seeing that both of them are in dire straits, Galahad uses Lay on Hands to bring them back to health. Attros, Arguile, and We’ahqa hear the tell-tale sounds of The Medusa’s Cascade appearing outside. They inform the rest of the party and they make their way out from the interior of the winery, following the lumbering black bear form of We’ahqa. The drizzle that had started earlier has turned into a steady rain. Thick droplets fall hard on their collective heads. As they trudge their way through the winery grounds, littered with the corpses of the vine, needle, and twig blights alike, they focus on the tavern ahead of them in the distance. Closing in on the familiar building, they begin to sense that something isn’t right. One by one, they all begin to notice signs of a battle but not the one they have just finished. Zechs break into a dead sprint towards the sanctuary of the group’s benefactor, with the rest of the party in hot pursuit. Step by step, the scene becomes clearer. Scorch marks streak across the exterior of the tavern, smoldering in the now-driving rain. The ranger skids to a stop in front of the door, turning and working the handle to no avail. As the party begins to crowd around the entrance, each trying in vain to open the door, a faint rumble makes its way closer. “Clear a path”, roars the Goliath as he charges towards the door. The party parts just in time to witness a streak of metallic blue light make contact with the locked entryway. With a very loud crash, the Paladin bursts into the tavern, its interior in even more disarray. The rest of the party follows Galahad into a scene of chaos and near destruction: scorch marks litter the walls, and tables, and chairs lay in splinters and chunks on the floor. There is a brief calm that comes over everyone as they take in the scene until Kyver hears a small crash towards the back, seemingly coming from the Journeyman’s office. Pushing through his compatriots, the Tabaxi makes his way toward the doorway. This door is also locked. Acting quickly, the rogue pulls out his thief’s tools and makes quick work of the lock. By this time the rest of the party is on his heels as he bursts into the almost untouched office. “Please don’t!”, they all hear from the back corner of the room, recognizing the voice as the bartender Welby. “Welby, brother. What happened?!”, Kyver asks his friend as he reaches the halfling’s hiding spot. “He’s gone. They took him.” Welby whimpers. “Who’s gone?!” Zechs questions. “The Journeyman, he’s gone. They took him.” After finding Welby in the Journeyman’s office the party begins to ask questions. The interior of the tavern looks like a battle scene. Welby tells the party that he knows who took him and where he is being held. But before he discloses the information, he implores the party to take a rest and let him clean the place up and collect himself. Shanks pulls Zechs aside and gives him a rundown of the plan that has been formulated in his head. He explains that the Journeyman is key to stopping Strahd. Using the tavern to bring them back to the point in time when Ireena was taken and getting her back. “That doesn’t happen without the Journeyman,” Shanks emphasizes. “This fucks everything if we can’t find him.” Zechs agrees but doesn’t want to put his faith in a plan that might not happen. Before the rest of the party heads off to bed, Zechs pulls Glad aside. He asks her about her relationship with the Gods, her parents, and her faith. She believes her father is The Green Man, King Oberon of the Seelie Court. The two converse and get to know each other a little bit better. He eventually makes his way up to his room after helping Welby clean up the tavern. The party reconvenes the next day in the tavern and finds a stranger at the bar. A taller Half-orc with a pseudodragon familiar. He calls himself Revan Ahkbar. Welby explains that he is a former traveler with the Journeyman and is there to help the party get him back. Revan is understandably cautious around the party but settles in pretty quickly. After some interesting interactions between Revan and the rest of the party, Welby begins to explain the situation. Welby and the Journeyman have been traveling for close to six months when they were raided by a group run by a being known as The Constable. The Journeyman gave himself up to prevent any bloodshed. Welby goes on to explain that the Journeyman was arrested for the crimes of “Disruptions in Time” and multiple others across several planes. He’s unaware of whether or not the crimes are legitimate but the Journeyman was taken to be held captive at a place called “The Vaults”. Welby continues that he feels the best course of action is to split into two groups: a stealth team to infiltrate “The Vaults” and break the Journeyman out, and a negotiation team to try and appeal to the Constable for the Journeyman’s release. The party asks about The Constable but Welby has only ever heard the name. He speculates that he may be of the same ancestry as the Journeyman. Welby goes on to tell the party that from what he does know “The Vaults” are in their own pocket plane and that it is a prison meant to hold time travelers. The group agrees that a split may be the best route and begins to discuss who should be in what group. After a long back and forth, the party decides to split in almost the same way as when they investigated the strange tower in Barovia but with one key difference: Zechs and We’ahqa would switch places. To keep in contact, Revan and We’ahqa would exchange familiars. Keirich, (ky-RICH), would go with We’ahqa and Franchise with Revan. Once the groups are solidified, Arguile brings up the weapons that were left for the Journeyman to enchant. Welby gives the party a nod and asks them to follow him. He leads the party through the workshop to a door in the back corner of the room. He pulls out a large set of keys and proceeds to unlock the door, opening it to a vault-like display room with many different weapons and items. Welby explains that these are items that the Journeyman has found specifically for the party and each of them gets to choose one. Arguile chooses a well-crafted rapier with runic writing etched into the blade. It’s called the Guardian’s Rapier and this magic sword will allow him to teleport short distances at will. Attros choose a smooth, three-foot-long rod that is continually shifting and changing in subtle ways. It’s called the Rod of Mercurial Form and it can change into anything that can fit within a 5ft cube. Cereius chooses a ring that looks as though it’s been crafted from bone and is cold to the touch. It’s called the Puppet Master’s Ring and along with a boost to his spell casting, it gives him the ability to cast the Speak with Dead spell. Glad chooses a circlet made from the scales, teeth, and horde of an ancient white dragon. It’s called Gothia’s Bane and along with a boost to her spell casting, it grants her resistance to cold damage and adds it to her melee attacks. Galahad chooses a giant-sized greatsword emblazoned with Bahamut motifs. The sword is called Kanna’s Fury and this magic sword grants the Goliath extra force damage when using it. Revan chooses an amulet with celestial markings and wing motifs. It’s called the Wings of Tabbris and along with a boost to his spell casting, it grants him advantage on all Charisma checks and saving throws. We’ahqa chooses studded leather armor covered in flame motifs and warm to the touch. It’s called Armor of Dis and along with a boost to their armor class, it deals fire damage to anyone who attacks them with a melee attack. The party decides to drop the stealth/scout group first. Welby sets the course and moments later the tavern’s door opens into a dimly lit stone hallway. Shanks, Arguile, We’ahqa, Kyver, Attros, and Keirich make their way into the space. They all agree to wait on the outcome of the negotiation to make any kind of move. As the tavern door closes, the rest of the party braces themselves for what is to come from their audience with The Constable. Welby sets the tavern’s course for the Constable’s Hall. With their destination reached, Welby wishes the party luck as they exit the tavern. They walk into a massive hall that is at least 100ftx100ft. Large pillars stretch up to the ceiling above and expanding out in front of them is what seems to be an intricately carved glass floor over a frozen lake. Between each pillar is an armor-clad figure holding a shield and spear. Off at the other end of the hall is a dais on which is a large throne and a cloaked figure sitting upon it. The figure has a pale complexion with a slight glow to them. Galahad clocks the guards as some type of variation of Aasimar. Galahad is the first to speak, requesting an audience with the Constable. “State your purpose,” he hears in response. Galahad explains the reason they are there and what the Journeyman’s supposed crimes are. They are beckoned forward and the group makes their way to the center of the hall. “So you wish to free the Journeyman. Do you know of his deeds?” the figure asks. “Do you know what this person is capable of?” The party concedes that they don’t know but are looking to find out and make amends. “The extinguisher of whole civilizations? The murderer of entire worlds? The marauder of time, you wish to let him roam free?” the figure responds. The party says that they didn’t know of his crimes and that they believe he is trying to make amends for his past deeds. Their argument is persuasive and the figure inquires how the party feels the Journeyman should atone for his “sins”. Zechs takes the lead and explains the situation with Strahd and the land of Barovia but the figure isn’t swayed. They argue that the Journeyman is the greater evil of the two, asking “If you spare a single ant from under your boot and use your other boot to destroy an entire anthill, do you deserve forgiveness?” Zechs contends that small deeds add up and fighting against evil, no matter the size, is worth doing. Unfortunately, his words fall on deaf ears. Zechs asks what the Constable plans to do with the Journeyman. The figure responds that the Journeyman will stay in his vaults and pay for every life he has taken. This confirms to the party that they’re indeed talking to The Constable and not someone lower in command. “To what end,” Zechs asks. “To his end,” the Constable replies. They begin to go back and forth about the difference between intent and action when Revan chimes in. He argues that all of the things that the Journeyman is accused of doing are arbitrary. That these charges don’t take into consideration the extenuating circumstances of the situations in which they occurred. He posits that everyone, at some point in their life, must make decisions that don’t have clear-cut answers. Looking directly into the eyes of the Constable, he asks if he’s ever had to decide possibly having to cross the proverbial line to protect those that needed protecting. The Constable concedes the point made and Revan asks if there is anything that can be done on The Constable’s behalf that would act as penance for the Journeyman’s crimes. Seemingly in the mood to bargain, the Constable asks the group what they propose this deed should be. The party responds that they want the Constable to tell them what a better alternative to imprisonment would be for the Journeyman, but they misunderstand the type of bargain being made. The Constable states, “I do not see a better alternative. I believe his punishment is just and right.” Revan suggests that the Constable let the Journeyman free temporarily to help with ridding Barovia of Strahd. When that task is complete, they will then return him to the Vaults. He agrees under one condition, someone from the party must take the Journeyman’s place until the party returns. The party gathers together to discuss this new development. Revan turns to Franchise to relay the events thus far to the group in the Vaults. Unfortunately, due to the odd setup of the pocket planes that they are on the message doesn’t get through. As he realizes this, he hears the familiar voice of Kierich in his head asking him what was happening. Revan relays the events to the other group while the rest of the negotiating party discusses what to do. They eventually tell the Constable that they have someone in mind but would like proof of life before they move forward. The Constable responds, “That won’t be necessary. The deal is such: you want the Journeyman, and you leave someone here to take his place. And they stay here until he is returned. No ifs, ands, or buts.” Galahad questions the Constable’s intentions if they’re good or evil. The Constable replies that good and evil have nothing to do with it, it is about the law. Galahad offers to be a paragon of the law for the Constable in keeping the Journeyman to his word. Zechs interjects with a question about where this law that is being spoken of comes from. Rising from their seat for the first time, the Constable makes his way toward the party flanked by his guards. Speaking directly to Zechs, he says, “There is no higher power than the law.” “And the law is you?” Zechs questions. “I serve the law,” he gets in reply. Zechs decides to push for more information as the Constable makes his way toward the group. Revan notices that there are white scales that are splotched across the Constables’ skin. He questions Zechs on what he knows about the Journeyman and himself and what their powers and capabilities are. Zechs asks again for some “enlightenment” but is told that the only information they need is the deal at hand. If they’re lucky the Journeyman may tell them what is going on but not presume that they deserve an explanation for a situation that is above their heads. A faint glow begins to emit from around the Constable as his eyes grow brighter and brighter, causing Zechs to turn away from him. Galahad takes the lead again and informs the Constable that they will find another way of completing their task as they need everyone in their party to do it. They are given leave from the Hall and begin to make their way out. On that walkout, Revan turns to the group and says that he will stay to get the Journeyman out. They all promise to come back for him and Revan informs Keirich that he is going to stay. We’ahqa thanks Revan and offers to take care of Keirich. Revan turns back to the Constable and tells him that he has decided to trade himself for the Journeyman. But instead of acquiescing to the offer, the Constable becomes enraged. He moves forward toward the party again, shedding his robes along the way revealing more scales covering parts of his torso and arms. Standing in front of the party, he declares “Here is the new deal. I take him,” pointing to Galahad, “or none of you leave here.” Zechs questions why but is shut down immediately. The Constable repeats, “Him or none of you leave. You can all join the Journeyman and ask your questions of him then. If you want to switch someone so much, then it is my choice, or I take whoever lives and you can join the Journeyman.” His guards begin to close in around the party. Galahad looks to the party and tells them that this is not a fight they can win. Do what needs to be done and save Barovia. Zechs promises that they WILL come back for him. As this takes place, Revan informs the other group of the turn of events. We’ahqa reacts violently and is subdued by the rest of the group. They calm We’ahqa down and tell them that they will break Galahad out. Galahad is led out of the hall by several guards. Several minutes later the guards return with a woman with a dark complexion in the same clothes that Journeyman was wearing the last time he was seen. The Constable looks to the party and says, “A deal is a deal. Now go.” But the party protests, saying that they don’t know this woman and that she isn’t the Journeyman. The Constable only smirks and tells them to leave again. The mysterious woman makes her way to the exit with a purpose. As the party enters the tavern again, the woman makes her way toward the Journeyman’s office they try to stop her. Welby is called over and after a brief and slightly heated discussion, she heads into the office. Welby assures the party that everything will be explained in due time. Zechs and Revan try to confront the woman but the door to the office is locked. Zechs makes his way up to his room. As this is all happening, the entrance back into the tavern appears in the Vaults, and the party there makes their way back. Welby greets the returning group and tells them that there will be an explanation soon. Roughly an hour later, the woman emerges from the office in a much better-fitting set of clothing. Under her right arm, in a holster, is a book. Attached to her back is a wooden staff and on her shoulder is a small creature known as an Almiraj, (AL-mirage), a small rabbit with a horn on the crown of its head. She scans the room and asks for someone to grab Zechs. Shanks goes up to the second floor and grabs the Ranger. She explains that she is the Journeyman. They’re hesitant but eventually confirmed through several means that she is who she says she is. JM explains that they’re a race called the Palenguard. They come from the places in between planes, there to protect them. She explains that if you were to walk out into a rainstorm and freeze time, each raindrop would be its own plane of existence. Endless worlds scattered across a massive expanse. It is her, and her people’s job, to protect these planes from disaster. Further, she tells the party that they come from different prime material planes. They’re able to do this because of their incredibly long lifespans and their powers to regenerate. She speaks about the Constable and how she was held for more than a century. The conversation turns to the supposed crimes that she was being charged with. She confirms that she did those things but it was more complex than good or evil, right or wrong. The weight of those decisions rests on her shoulders constantly. The party asks about where the Constable comes from but she truly doesn’t know. He is part of a similar order to hers but from another place entirely. It seems to be a meeting of an immovable object and an unstoppable force. The conversation turns to their plans to get Galahad back. From potential layouts, defenses, and the potential accelerating timeline. We’ahqa brings up the last point several times and insists that they leave immediately to get him back. The party agrees and makes their way to the Vaults. As they enter the dimly lit stone hallways of the prison, We’ahqa comes up with an idea. They’ll cast Locate Object to search for Galahad’s armor. With no ping from the spell, the group moves forward as stealthily as possible. We’ahqa turns to the group and suggests that they wild shape into something small to search ahead and try to get a ping from their spell. Kyver peaks his head into a doorway and sees the floor covered in crawling insects. He suggests that We’ahqa turns into a beetle. The Druid, without hesitation, rough shapes into a beetle and zooms off ahead of the group. Through the hallways, We’ahqa buzzes with the party not too far behind. Almost immediately, Attros’s Mercurial Rod comes in handy. The party is able to expertly maneuver around obstacles, dismantle traps, and even ambush several roaming enemies. After finishing off a room full of Orc warriors directly after ambushing an Earth Elemental, the party finds its way to an intricately locked door. Using their collective knowledge they figure out that two locks are being utilized: one mechanical and one arcane. Arguile and Cereius tag team the door and with some effort they successfully get the door open. We’ahqa surges into the room, still in beetle form, and sees a set of half-plate armor, a massive greatsword, shelves of books, a cot, and a familiar but fairly older Goliath. Perplexed, Galahad stares at the beetle that buzzed into the room and landed on his shoulder. It’s been 50 years since Galahad has seen anyone besides the guards who brought him his food and his friend Bothok. It’s strange for him as he was just talking to Bothok when the door opened. Throughout his captivity, an older human man named Bothok visited him. They conversed about many things throughout the years. Religion, law, justice, philosophy, tactics, and more. Every so often there would be an inkling in the back of his head that there was more to Bothok than what he saw. However, Galahad finally saw what it was just as the door was opening and this beetle was flying in. Bothok was the avatar of Bahamut, there to help comfort and aid him in his time of sacrifice. Stretching out his hand, he watches this beetle skitter onto his hand and a shard of a memory pops into his head. The Genasi. The Druid. They could shapeshift into beasts. “Are you We’ahqa?” Galahad asks out loud. The beetle begins to jump and make noises and across the room a cat with wings appears. Franchise. The realization that he will be leaving is now at the forefront of his mind. The beetle flies back out of the room and Galahad begins to gather his things. The rest of the party comes into the chamber and sees the older Galahad finish donning his armor and sheathing Kanna’s Fury. The celebration is short-lived as the party realizes that they must now get out of the Vaults before they’re caught. They race through the hallways and empty rooms until they find their way back to the place they began the journey. In front of them on the same wall as before is the door that they came through. The Journeyman steps up to the door and walks through it with the party right behind her. There is a bright flash as they walk through the doorway and are transported into a forest clearing. At first, it’s just Galahad, Cereius, and Arguile in the tree-lined field. Something isn’t quite right. A familiar voice creeps into their heads and says “Thank you for coming back so early. Now, for my consolation prize for all of the cheaters in the room, a fight to the death.” They’re somewhat confused by this and question the voice, The Constable, out loud. “Amongst us?” Arguile asks. “Yes,” the voice replies. They refuse outright. “Did you know we would come back?” Cereius questions. “I knew you were dishonest,” The Constable answers. “We couldn’t possibly have left our friends here,” Cereius explains. “That was the deal that you made,” the Constable retorts. This back and forth continues for a bit longer when Galahad speaks up, “Constable enough with the games. Where are we and where are the rest of our friends.” “Fight to the death.” “Why would we fight to the death with each other,” Galahad yells. “Because it is the only way you’ll get to leave,” the Constable snarls in reply. Shanks appears in the clearing. He receives the same message and rejects the idea of fighting to the death. “Do whatever it is that you wish. But you will not leave until you fight to the death. Or die of natural causes.” Shanks begins to look around and assess the situation. He bolts into the woods only to come back into the clearing from the opposite side of the forest. They’re trapped in an elaborate illusion. Once they come to this realization, Galahad ponders on the vast amount of knowledge that he’s learned over the last half-century, convinced that this is somehow a test. Galahad tells those who are there and appear that this battle to the death may be a metaphorical one. However unlikely, the Constable may be speaking about battling inner demons and killing your past self. Though, in his estimation, this doesn’t sound like something the Constable would do or care about. The Journeyman, who has just appeared with Zechs, acknowledges Galahads personal growth with a slow clap. Attros then appears and the group begins to get antsy. Nothing seems to be happening. With every passing minute that goes by the party hears in the back of their minds a whispered, “fight to the death.” We’ahqa and Revan appear in the field. Shanks decides to take a page from Galahad’s book and contemplate the situation. With some deep thought and reasonable conjecture, he’s able to sus out the connections of everything that just happened. This has all been contrived by the Constable. It seems to be a lording of power over the group. What he is asking the party to do is what he truly wants. Not necessarily that he wants the party dead but potentially that they may be “freed” in some way. Attros, sensing something similar, approaches Galahad and implores him to take his life. Galahad responds that he doesn’t believe that that is what the test is. Attros says that they don’t know what the test is or if this is real or in their minds. At this point, Shanks comes out of his inner thoughts and agrees with Attros. “You’re right. This is the test.” Kyver appears in the clearing. Zechs decides that he will be the one to sacrifice himself and the rest of the party gives him a lot of grief. “Enough with this hero bullshit, let’s just figure this out,” quips Arguile. But Zechs is convinced that he has to be the one that is taken out, to prove a point about the death of a few to save the many. From the back, Cereius breaks into the conversation. “Sorry to interrupt, everybody, because some great things are going on. But I can’t lie, part of me wants to know what you would do in this situation,” Cerius asks, turning from the group to the Journeyman. She looks back at Cereius and pauses to think. She then walks slowly over to him, looks him dead in the eye, pulls out her staff, and says, “I’d hedge my bets.” From out of nowhere, her staff flashes, and she strikes Cereius twice. A fight erupts among the party as the Journeyman speeds away from Cereius toward Galahad. He catches her with Kanna’s Fury, stopping her and using his backswing to trip her. Revan and Cereius join in the fray, casting Witchbolt and Ray of Enfeeblement. Both the bolt of energy and the sickly black beam miss their target. Kyver looks very confused at the sudden acts of violence but decides to join in anyway. Quickly making his way to the downed Journeyman, he strikes her with Bloodlust. Though she is hurt, the Journeyman seems oddly happy about how things are going. Shanks watches from his kneeling position and locks eyes with the prone Journeyman. As he pulls back on his bowstring, she mouths “do it.” He lets an arrow fly and it strikes her between her eyes, killing her. He looks up to the sky and asks “does this satisfy you?” In the back of his mind, he hears the reply, “there’s still eight of you left.” Cerius, still confused about what just happened and bleeding from his head says “Well, I wasn’t expecting that answer” as he looks down at the Journeyman’s body. Shanks looks over at Cereius and quips, “it gets worse.” Two more arrows fly at the Cleric, pinning him to the ground, dead. He places his bow on the ground and puts his hands up. Attros walks to Shanks’ side, shouts “Presently my soul grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,” and casts the Shatter spell. A loud boom splits the air, downing the Kenku and injuring Shanks. Zechs reaches out to the Constable and questions whether or not he was right. That this is just an elaborate point that is being proven. That what the Journeyman does is unjust and incorrect. “If you survive, I’ll tell you,” he hears in response. Zechs activates the Barrage feature on his bow. On the verge of tears, he releases a single arrow. Five arrows make contact with Shanks’ chest, grouping in center mass. Before the light leaves his eyes, Shanks gives Zechs a thumbs up and mouths “nice grouping”. Turning toward We’ahqa he threatens the Constable about being sure to keep his word or there will be consequences. He lets a single arrow fly at the Druid and through some strange twist of fate, they catch it before it hits with their teeth. Arguile rushes his way over to Zechs. He asks, “how determined are you to do what has to be done if you talk to this guy? To get an answer for all of this.” He unsheaths his rapier and runs himself through, he is unsuccessful in taking his life though. Galahad, above these games, walks to a fallen tree. He jams Kanna’s Fury into the ground and pulls off his armor in a sign of nonparticipation. We’ahqa makes another threat to the Constable while watching all of this violence unfold. “If this doesn’t kill me, I want you to be the one,” Revan calls to Galahad, shooting himself point blank in the chest with an Eldritch Blast. He isn’t able to end it in one shot and drags himself closer to Galahad for him to finish the job. Kyver asks the Constable, “last one standing?” He hears in reply, “I see someone gets the picture.” Kyver smiles and just lays down shouting “I’m not standing!” Zechs looks to Arguile, “with absolute certainty, I will see this through.” Zechs strikes him twice with his bladed shortbow. “Damn, you couldn’t do it one hit,” are the final words uttered from Arguiles mouth as he falls to the ground. Galahad stands and walks to Revan, helping him to the tree trunk. He asks, “are you sure this is what you want?” Revan replies, “you see me bleeding? Make it clean.” Pressing the tip of his massive greatsword into his companion’s neck, he severs Revan’s head from the rest of his body. Calmly, Galahad walks back over to the fallen tree and sits back down. Kyver decides to stay in his prone position and We’ahqa continues to taunt the Constable. Zechs turns his gaze at Kyver and his single arrow turns into four. Three arrows hit, dealing a substantial amount of damage. Zechs seems to be in an extreme amount of emotional duress. Galahad calls to Zechs, “I will not kill myself, but I won’t stop you from doing what needs to be done.” Zechs breaks down into tears. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning strikes in between Zechs, Galahad, and Kyver, hitting all three and killing Kyver. Zechs immediately turns to We’ahqa, who is still sitting on the ground, and fires three shots. Hitting on more than half, We’ahqa is looking very injured. We’ahqa calls another lightning strike on Zechs, however, this is not enough to take him out. They get up and move away from Zechs and Galahad. Zechs pursues the Druid and fires another barrage of arrows, hitting on most. With the look of a pincushion, they fall to their knees taking deep gasping breaths, We’ahqa is still alive but barely. Galahad walks forward, takes out his javelin, and hurls it at the Water Genasi. His aim is true and as We’ahqa takes their final breath, impaled by the javelin, Galahad turns to Zechs. Zechs apologizes for the circumstances they’re in but Galahad tells him not to worry. They will see each other on the other side. Zechs fires three shots, missing the first because of his trembling body. The second has four arrow releases with two misses and two hits. The final shot also has four arrows and all of those hit their target as well. Even with six arrows in his chest, the Goliath still stands. Galahad looks into Zechs’ eyes, closing the distance, and says, “Don’t kill me with the bow and I will see you on the other side, my friend.” He clasps Zechs’ forearm and stares into his eyes. The Tabaxi drops his bow saying, “I’m sorry that in the end, I couldn’t save you.” And with tears streaming down his face, he releases his claws and buries them into the Paladin’s chest. Galahad falls to the ground lifeless as Zechs looks around at the scene of destruction he stands in the middle of. Zechs lets out a guttural cry. As he looks around, he feels a warm sensation in his chest and sees that his wounds are healing. From the trees, the Constable appears in front of him with a smug smile on his face. Zechs races toward him yelling, “are you satisfied?!” The Constable only responds with the casting of a spell, as a crackling sphere of energy illuminates around him and then dissipates. “You’re just going to sit there with a smug smile after I just killed almost my entire party?!” Zechs rages. There is a tense back-and-forth between the two. The Constable pokes and prods at Zechs’ emotions. Constantly answering his questions with questions of his own. What few answers he does give are cryptic. He does confirm that he serves a higher power and that what the party just went through was a punishment for breaking their deal with him. The heated discussion turns to Zechs and his past. Claiming to know about all of their stories, it seems that the Constable knows a great deal about Zechs in particular. “You’re repeating history. You were born to be a sacrifice but you were saved. And yet you walk back into being a sacrifice. You’re repeating history.” Zechs becomes confused and impatient. His demeanor shifts to something more confrontational than before. The Constable feeds on this, pushing Zechs more and more with taunts and bits of information. He begins to circle Zechs in a predatory manner. The conversation has turned into a game of cat and mouse. Still, the Constable presses Zechs about his memories and why he doesn’t have his early ones. With rage bubbling to the surface, Zechs answers in a near roar. “I DON’T KNOW! I don’t know anything about my past! I wish I knew, I came here for answers. And now I’m here left with you telling me that I know something that I DON’T KNOW.” The Constable chides him for acting like a petulant child and throwing a tantrum. He pushes harder as if he is trying to awaken something. Zechs’ anger continues to build but then he is given the name “Oberon”. He recognizes the name. King Oberon of the Seelie Court, patron of hunters and rangers. A figure Argo has spoken about on occasion. Zechs presses for more but he is rebuffed. There is a pause in the conversation, and both feel that the time for talking is over. The Constable throws his robes off and spreads dragon-like wings, leaping into the air as Zechs opens fire on him. The two clash back and forth for a moment before the Constable hits the ranger with a Fireball, downing him on the spot. Zechs opens his eyes to the sound of a strange thud. As his senses return to him, he realizes that he is suspended underwater in a cylindrical glass tank. And the thud noise that he is hearing are his party members trying to break it open. Thud, thud, thud, CRACK. Zechs feels the pressure released as his group breaks through and pulls him out. Catching his breath, he is picked up by Shanks and We’ahqa. He sees the rest of the party, as well as the Journeyman, there too. She pulls what looks like a pale purple, oversized river stone out of her pocket and smashes it to the group. An eruption of light engulfs them and they feel their bodies violently pulled to the center of this field of light. As the light subsides, they look around to see that they have returned to the tavern. Immediately after the ordeal with the Constable, the party scatters to different parts of the tavern. Zechs grabs himself a bottle and heads straight to his room. The rest of the party takes individual seats within the tavern area. The Journeyman pulls Welby into the back for a private conversation. Attros sees everyone off by themselves and beckons the party to speak about the traumatic experience that just occurred. The party agrees that everyone should be present to start talking. Shanks makes his way up to Zechs’ room. The door is locked and Shanks tries to break it down. It doesn’t budge and We’ahqa makes their way up to the room. They deftly pick the lock, looks at Shanks, and walks back down to the tavern area. Shanks enters the room to a despondent Zechs and tries to get him to come back downstairs. They have a tense conversation about a few of the more traumatizing events. Shanks ends it and walks back down to the tavern, leaving him to his drinking. We’ahqa, seeing that the mood is very somber, decides to create food with their magic for each party member. Shanks and Attros decide to work out their frustrations by tinkering in the workshop. Galahad takes Zechs’ plate of food and takes it up to him. The goliath sits down next to him and begins a conversation. They talk about how long Galahad was kept captive. The bombshells of information that the Constable told Zechs in their confrontation. His connection to King Oberon, Glad’s supposed father. How he was able to take the lives of his party. Galahad tells him that he wasn’t responsible for what everyone else decided to do. He tells Zechs that leaders are only as good as the people around them and that he should share his burden. Zechs is reminded of Argo during the conversation and the mood takes a turn for the better. Galahad reminds Zechs that they still have a mission. People that they can help, that Zechs can help. After they help Barovia, they can look toward the Constable. As they speak, they hear a small voice in the room. It’s Duo and it seems that he is starting to learn how to speak. As this conversation is taking place, Attros and Shanks are working hard to refine the vial arrows that Attros had created not too long ago. In the tavern area, the Journeyman reappears and asks the group to gather there. Glad and We’ahqa head out to grab Zechs, Galahad, Shanks, and Attros. Everyone converges back in the tavern. She begins to start fielding questions about the encounter. The subjects of past groups, the beings in charge of bestowing “the law”, the Constable’s appearance, the vaults they were kept in, and information that is potentially being kept from them among others are brought up. Eventually, Kyver starts to make his way over to the Journeyman, asking if they’ve been watching the party longer than they’ve been together. She denies it as Kyver asks another question: “how many versions of the party has she met?” She tells the group that they are the only versions of them that she knows. Going on to say that there are undoubtedly other versions of them but just running into them by chance would be very rare. Unphased, Kyver continues his line of questioning. “Why do I keep seeing these visions of my death,” he asks. The group is taken aback by this information and they conclude that it is likely the realm of Barovia, twisting the things that see and experience. JM asks him if he’s had any other visions and he quickly replies that he hasn’t. As a token of appreciation, the Journeyman gives the party some information about their quests. Welby brings out a wooden box, opens it, and begins handing out small items and pieces of parchment. Things get heavy pretty fast. Kyver opens up his parchment to reveal the floor plans of a manor. The home of the nobleman that killed his family and enslaved him. “Why did you give this to me,” the Tabaxi asks. “I think you know the answer to that,” replies the Journeyman. Kyver begins to rock back and forth in his chair, a mixture of rage and fear in his eyes. The attention turns to Cereius as he opens a folded slip of parchment. While he doesn’t reveal what is on the parchment, it appears to be something that involves his deity The Moonweaver, and dreams. Next, she hands Glad a small scroll. Opening it reveals a summons to the Seelie Court and a meeting with King Oberon. The summons speaks of potentially dire consequences if this meeting is not attended, by not only Glad but the realms at large. This catches the attention of Zechs, who gives her a look of needing to speak with her. For a second, she doesn’t recognize the name but then it hits her. King Oberon is also known as The Green Man, her supposed father. Arguile is handed a scroll as well, reading it to himself. It is a mention of his mother in communication between nobles. This is the first bit of information he’s received or found about his mother since the day she was taken and he escaped. He asks how old the scroll is and is informed that it’s not very old. Next, she turns to Shanks and hands him a small pouch. It’s a small key. She tells him that he should go up to his room, and turn the key from the inside until the symbol on the door changes from a wolf to an oak tree. Walk through the door and take the key with him, as he will need it to return. He makes his way up to his room. She turns to We’ahqa and hands them a folded piece of parchment. A symbol comprised of four intersecting triangles. Underneath are the Druidic characters for “D” and “C”. They figure out that the symbol is a convergence of the four elements of the prime material plane in Druidic. They remember a bedtime story that their father had told them when they were younger. A story about the beings that created the cosmos called the Daughters of Creation. We’ahqa thanks JM for everything that she’s done. With a nod, she turns to Attros and hands him a letter. He reads it to himself, reaching his hand up to his chest to clutch a pendant around his neck. “Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore! Quoth the Raven Nevermore,” he cries as he crumples up the letter. This letter is from his wife Lenore, who, until this point, Attros had known to be dead. Murdered by his former guild and the reason for his quest for revenge. She asks him to come back to her and rejoin the guild. “Prophet! said I, thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!” he continues, tearing the letter in half. Zechs is next to receive something from the chest, a sealed letter. He recognizes that this is Argo’s handwriting. Instead of reading his letter there, he decides to read it in private. The Journeyman then turns to Galahad and hands him a piece of parchment. It contains the symbol of Bahamut and what seems to be some sort of code. He asks where she received this communication and is told that a cleric of the platinum dragon delivered it to the tavern specifically for him. While the party is given their bits of information, Shanks goes up to his room and follows the Journeyman’s instructions. Turning the key three times, he sees the symbol spoken of and opens the door. Pulling the key out of the door, he makes his way into a room of a similar size as his own. Several different shortbows and quivers adorn the wall. The door closes behind him and he is now alone. Looking around, a particular shortbow catches his eye. It has been many years since he last saw this bow and he makes his way closer to it. Next to it is a familiar dagger, so familiar that he beings to investigate it for markings that may confirm his suspicions. Right where he was expecting, he finds the letter “D” carved on the hilt in the elven script. He pulls the dagger off the wall, holding it and staring at it in disbelief. The door opens behind him and instinctively he makes ready to attack. From his position, he sees a slender, copper-skinned female wood-elf with greenish hair enter the room, and as she turns there is a moment of recognition. “Dona,” Shanks asks in a slight and trembling voice. She meets his eyes and a smile creeps across her face. “I didn’t expect you back so soon,” she says warmly. Shanks and Dona have a loving but confusing conversation. It seems that the person he was in love with so long ago and lost is here with him now but in a different time and place. In due time and explanation, he understands what is happening. Dona always finds a way to explain things in a way he’ll get it. Getting into his room, Zechs opens up his letter from Argo. It speaks of a pact that he made a long time ago with a being he cannot speak the name of. However, he can give him little bits of information about his past. He is from a place called Nymora. It’s not a place that Argo has ever been to but has heard of. His only connection to it is a story of a cult to a deity known as the Cat Lord. This cult was raiding villages for sacrifices and Zechs’ was one of them. He apologizes for keeping things from him and hopes that the information he has disclosed will be useful to him. At the bottom of the letter is a string of letters. It’s a lot to take in and Zechs looks to Duo asking him, “I don’t suppose you knew about this buddy?” “Zechs. Noms” is the reply he receives from his animal companion. After grappling with this new information, he heads back downstairs to get Duo some food and contemplates whether he wants to continue drinking or not. He grabs some food and another bottle, We’ahqa sneakily casts Lesser Restoration on him before he heads back upstairs. Continuing past him, We’ahqa finds the Journeyman and asks a few questions. When will they be receiving the weapons that they gave JM back? Where will they be dropped off after they recover? And finally, if JM would be willing to teach We’ahqa some hand-to-hand combat. She answers: soon, back at the winery, and that she would lead We’ahqa. As We’ahqa walks away from the conversation, Attros asks JM where she got his letter from. She informs him that it was delivered to the tavern in an envelope with a wax seal emblazoned with the Telltale Guild’s crest. This seems to weigh heavily on the Kenku as he thanks her and exits the room. The rest of the party disperses to their rooms for rest and recuperation. Attros makes his way into the workshop and begins work on his homunculus servant, crafted into the visage of an owl. Arguile and Cereius make their way up to their rooms to rest, overwhelmed by everything that has just occurred. Kyver still seems out of it, he’s now muttering numbers to himself. Galahad fixated on figuring out the cipher given to him, standing and heading up to his room. Zechs, restless, makes his way back downstairs and walks past Shanks, who seems to be in a very good mood. Pacing down in the tavern area, Zechs is looking for something physical to do. He decides to go over to Kyver and slides the bottle of wine he took earlier over to him. He hears “565, 246”, over and over. The other Tabaxi doesn’t seem to even notice that he’s there. Zechs gets back up and begins to wander around the tavern, looking for a place to train or do something physical. Shanks walks over to him and suggests to start doing target practice in the tavern area on the far wall. They break into a conversation about everything that happened. Shanks pulls his battle axe out and asks “ever wonder why an Elf carries around an Orc axe?” He goes on to talk about how he grew up in a household that wasn’t tolerant of others. His parents and tribe were murdered, and he was lost and alone. At his lowest point, an unlikely father figure stepped into his life, an Orc warrior named Jamrie. Jamrie explained that Orcs and Elves have a common ancestor, they came from the same place. It was their diverging paths as people that made each what they are. Ultimately, this was what set him on the path he is taking now, deconstructing his prejudices and learning to see people as individuals and not as the preconceived notions he once held about their entire culture. Zechs laments that he went from having no information about his past to having more information that he knows what to do with. And that he doesn’t know how much he can trust this information because of its source, at least regarding the Constable. He speaks about the guild and Argo. He then poses the question, “why did you think I would be suited for the leadership role” to Shanks. The archer responds that he saw the qualities in Zechs and that he needed to learn from doing. That mistakes are a given. That he didn’t get to where he is in his skill set because he made all of the right decisions. He got to where he is because of the mistakes and bad calls that he’s made. That failure is a part of success, an integral one. As the two converse, the Journeyman appears behind them. Zechs asks if they’re having trouble sleeping too. She tells them that it’s difficult with a conversation going on outside of her room. Apologizing, Zechs explains that they were trying to find a place to exercise and work out. She points toward the stairwell that leads up to the second floor and there is a door underneath it where there wasn’t before. She says “that’s the place you want to go. It’s all yours.” As the pair gets up, Shanks gives the key back to JM telling her that he won’t be using it again. She lets him know that she’ll hold onto it for him, in case he changes his mind. Zechs asks for a conversation with JM and a few members of the team, including Shanks and Attros. The elf goes to look for Attros in the workshop and finds him sleeping. He sees a silver, mechanical owl with a small opening in the center of its chest sitting on a letter. In the Artificer’s left hand is a locket, the one he clutched earlier while reading his parchment, and it seems that it would fit perfectly into the small cavity of the owl. Curious, Shanks reads the letter the owl sits on. It is a reply to the letter he received from JM. In it, Attros explains that he can’t rejoin and rebuild the guild as they were the ones who killed her. That he must oppose her, even in the face of his undying love for her. He concludes that if he must face her and kill her, along with the rest of the guild, he will take his own life as well so that they can be together again in death. Shanks leaves the room in shock. He informs Zechs that Attros is out cold and that maybe they should wait on the strategy meeting until the following day. He agrees and begins to head to the stairs with JM. They chat about needing to speak to Argo as soon as possible, regarding his letter. He asks about Nymora and why he lost his memories. They part ways and Zechs makes his way down into an expansive room with many different training areas. After an hour or so of target practice, Zechs decides to sleep in the training facility. Over the last several hours, while the rest of the party was dealing with the information that was given to them, Glad has been on her journey of discovery. To escape the chaos that is the tavern area, she makes her way up to her room and lights incense as she begins to contemplate and meditate. As the incense burns to slither up toward her like a snake, she breathes in deeply and pushes the noise and distraction of the physical world aside. Opening her eyes once again, she finds herself in the home that she once shared with her late husband Thiadikus. She moves her way out of her home, and down to the path among the trees in the Forest Bastion. Bioluminescent purples, blues, and greens light her way as she walks through the natural hall of trees and plant life. Along the way, she looks over the seedlings planted in memory of those who have passed on or fallen too soon. Ahead of her, she sees a tall, slender, bronze-skinned, and golden-haired figure sitting in front of one of the seedlings. She approaches the figure, feeling that there is a familiarity with her. The figure turns toward her, smiles, and stands to greet her. They tower over her, and at her eye level, she sees a familiar symbol hanging from a chain around their neck. It’s at this moment she realizes who stands before her: her God, The Protector. Shocked, Glad cautiously asks for help. She explains the situation about the scroll she has received from the Seelie Court and about the party that she is part of. The conversation goes deeper, as The Protector asks her questions that spark new ideas and different outlooks. They speak of truth, family, and her husband’s death. She takes in all that her god has to impart to her. The Protector bids her a fond farewell and slowly vanishes from her sight. She makes her way back up to her former home and sits back down on her prayer rug, closing her eyes. When she opens them again, she is back in her room at the tavern. Meanwhile, Galahad sits in his room going over the cipher, incredibly frustrated by the experience thus far. As he continues to work on this cipher, Arguile begins to dream of the day that his mother was taken from him. Racing through the manor in which he was interred with his mother to see her being dragged to a carriage. He makes a move to go to her but is restrained by two guards and is confronted by the head of the household. They exchange heated words ending with Arguile spitting in his face. Arguile manages to get out of the hold of the two guards and bowls the nobleman over, hands around his neck. He asks who his mother is being taken by and through the gasps for breath, the nobleman tells Arguile that the person is new in the area and his crest is a thirteen-pointed star made of swords. With this information, he lets go and races into the forest surrounding the property. He wakes up in a cold sweat and looks over at the letter on his table, eyes locking on the wax seal of a thirteen-pointed star made of swords. Arguile, though, is not the only member of the party that is experiencing strange dreams. Cereius has his prophetic vision. Standing on what appears to be water, but he is somehow not sinking. The only light around him is that of a distant full moon. Not straying from the moonbeam in front of him, he walks to the edge of a precipice. From the moon glides an ethereal-looking elven woman. It’s the Moonweaver, his patron deity. They speak of his faith, his journey, and the help that she wants to provide. As they finish their meeting, the Moonweaver reaches out to Cereius, touching his chest and filling him with comfort, warmth, and light. The following morning the party makes their way, slowly but surely, back to the tavern area. We’ahqa is one of the first to arrive and approaches the Journeyman, asking if they have a place to exercise their mind. The Journeyman informs them that there is a library in the tavern and directs them toward it. For hours the Druid scours the books within the large, tower-like room. At first, they only find the children’s stories that they knew from their father at bedtime. But the longer they look and the deeper they search, they come upon a revelation. The Daughters of Creation are the focal points of an ancient and lost religion. They find renderings of mountains carved into cities, massive feminine effigies, and a temple deep within the chasm of a mountain. As the rest of the party convene and begin to eat breakfast, We’ahqa makes their way out of the library and walks to Galahad who is still incredibly frustrated by the cipher. They offer to help the Paladin. Galahad tells the Druid that this was given to him by his god and it would be a disservice to not figure this out on his own. We’ahqa agrees and remarks on anything else Galahad might want to address, outside of the cipher. Galahad is unsure about what they’re talking about. The Druid is a little hurt by this and decides to go get themself some coffee. Meanwhile, Attros makes his way out of the workshop with a mechanical owl on his shoulder to sit at a table to eat something. Shenanigans ensue with the rest of the party, and Shanks and Attros make a quick exit to the workshop. As they make their exit, Welby returns from the back with coffee spiked with alcohol. The party is taking bets on what will happen when We’ahqa drinks it, as the Druid has never had booze before. JM joins in on the betting right before We’ahqa downs the coffee and asks for another. The betters double down, and the Druid slams back another like a champ and asks for another. Arguile pipes up “hold the coffee,” and the Halfling obliges. We’ahqa pounds it, feels that something is off, and tries to cast Lesser Restoration on themself but isn’t quick enough. They violently vomit right in between themself and Welby, splattering the Halfling. We’ahqa apologizes, then turns and walks shakily over to Galahad and pushes him. Galahad is not overly pleased with this current situation. He places his hand on the Druid’s head, uses Lay on Hands to take away his drunkenness, and begins to talk away.

Leave a Reply