Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 20: A river runs through it

With its tentacled friend a pile of ash on the ground, the huge, crab-clawed creature lashed out wildly at Jak and Aruget.  While the paladin deftly blocked the blow with his shield, the creature ripped into Jak’s chest, coming very close to putting him down entirely.  Aruget channeled his concern into anger, quickly disembowling the creature while Quentin rushed to check on Jak and Lestok moved forward to deal with the remaining, smaller dolgrim.  Pumping his Fumigator 9000, he delivered a tremendous burst of it straight into the creatures faces and…nothing happened.  Confused and possibly offended, the old gnome stepped back in bewilderment.  As Jak retreated as best he could, Aruget stepped forward and took a big swing at the dolgrim, gutting them cleanly, and the battle was over.

As Quentin attended to the wounds made by the large creature – which he identified as a dolgrue – his magic healed Jak up enough to draw attention to the wound left by the dolgaunt’s tentacles: a mess of disgusting hairs that seemed like they were trying to burrow into Jak’s body.  Jak panicked at the sight, but Quentin calmed him down enough that he was able to stitch up his remaining injuries, and even (with Aruget’s help) deal with the crossbow bolt lodged in Quentin’s side.

As the party regrouped and continued on their way, they passed through the daelkyr’s makeshift camp and found a double door leading down a steep stairway, which looked promising.  As they started making their way down, Yeraa called Aruget again to say that they had retrieved their artifact. Unfortunately, she also had two pieces of bad news: her party’s way out was blocked, so they were continuing forward to look for a way out…and another one of them had been killed.  Aruget recognized his name as the scout the party had rescued from the Emerald Claw on their way to Six Kings, and there was a small moment of silence.

Down the staircase, the party entered a cavern with a river dividing it.  With the only apparent way forward to cross the river, Jak anxiously revealed that, having spent his entire life within Sharn’s city limits, he didn’t know how to swim.  Lestok eagerly suggested applying his C.L.I.M.B. gunk to everyone’s shoes to walk across the ceiling instead, but was ignored as Kayde revealed to Jak that his shadow power could turn others intangible as well.  As shadow swirled around Kayde, he laid a hand on Jak’s shoulder and the shadow ran down his arm and onto his friend, turning Jak intangible.  Somewhat alarmed, but trusting his friend, Jak quickly ran across the river and returned to his solid form on the other side.  With one idea rejected, Lestok was undaunted and whipped up a couple of G.N.O.M.E.S. environmental suits to protect the rest of the party from the icy water…which proved very useful when Kayde, feeling cocky, decided to try jumping the river.  Slipping on a loose rock as he ran forward, Kayde plunged into the water, and as Aruget tried to grab at him, he pulled the hapless hobgoblin in after him.  Thankfully, they were not swept too far, and both proved to be strong swimmers, emerging safely on the opposite side with Jak.  Quentin decided to play it safe, summoning a gust of air under his feet, which allowed him to safely cross over the water…and that was when the party realized that they’d left Lestok behind, to his own devices.

Never fear!  A gnome always has an idea!  Lestok proceeded to inflate his empty waterskin, tie it to a string, pick up the heaviest rock he could find as ballast, and walk along the bottom of the riverbed with his makeshift buoy marking his position.  About halfway across, he found the rock becoming hard to wrangle, so he attempted to apply some C.L.I.M.B. to his shoes…underwater, in the middle of a flowing river.  As the old gnome started getting swept away by the current, Aruget was able to throw him a rope and pull him out to safety.

With everyone accounted for, Jak and Quentin scouted out their new surroundings.  As Jak noticed mists coming off the ground down another incline, Quentin spotted an old skeleton with a satchel that, oddly, had irises and grass growing out of it. Careful not to disturb the flowers, the druid reached into the satchel and, navigating some broken glass, found three intact flasks labeled Dragon’s Breath, Ogre Strength, and Ocean’s Relief.  Lestok promptly decided to taste-test them.  The Dragon’s Breath caused him to cough out sparks, the Ogre Strength made him feel like he could have carried that heavy rock all day, and the Ocean’s Relief refreshed him.  Lestok distributed the potions to those he thought could use them best, and the party continued on to follow the mist.

It led to a cave full of red, glowing crystals – not dragonshards, but something else entirely.  Large and densely packed, Jak and Lestok squeezed between them, as Quentin remembered hearing stories of places in Khyber where reality was distorted and demiplanes were accessible…and that was when Jak noticed that the mists, the walls, the floor, and the ceiling all contracted and expanded as if the very cavern around them was breathing.  As a crystal shot up from the ground in front of Jak – more like a living thing than a rock – he yelled at his friends to turn around and run, shoving Lestok ahead of him.  They retreated back into a chamber with a blocked passage to the north, which Aruget made quick work of clearing.

Before he would let anyone pass, however, Aruget blocked the passage himself and delivered a stern lecture: after the series of mishaps at the river, it was clear that the party had to wise up, start working together better, and not be so reckless.  He made everyone swear to it, particularly focusing on Lestok.  While Jak promised Aruget that he wouldn’t let Lestok out of his sight, the old gnome cautiously agreed to be careful as long as “no stone is left unturned!”  Satisfied with everyone’s answers, Arguet moved forward and the rest of the party followed…and that was when they heard a horrible, tortured scream echo through the cave.  Already sobered by Aruget’s lecture, chills started to travel up Lestok’s spine…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: Which of your old friends do you miss the most?  Where are they?  What is your fondest memory of them?
  • Lestok’s river crossing was adjudicated as a mini Dramatic Task. This is definitely one of those “you had to have been there” moments that a recap can’t do justice. I have never seen our GM get so red in the face from laughing.
  • And yes – Lestok’s idea to use C.L.I.M.B. to cross the river was the best, wisest idea, and would have saved us a world of troubled! There’s a certainly irony that everything went to chaos because we ignored Lestok’s idea.

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