Session 76: Back In Black

The Outcasts
As the group headed from the gatehouse to the One-Eyed Cat, a crowd gathered around them, eager to hear their tale of victory.

Philip invited the crowd to join them at the tavern.

As they walked through the keep, Vernim was distracted looking for any members of Mendel’s entourage or anyone suspicious.

As soon as they entered the One-Eyed Cat, Calista almost dropped her tray and ran over to embrace Jess; “She’s back!” she called to Wilf.

Jenn rushed in soon after and hugged Brother Martin, elated that he was safe.

Neanne and Chandry were soon there as well, along with Mouse, Jadele, Jocelyn, Abercrombie, Laurl, Charl, Tella, Asham, Moseley, and many other familiar faces. They were all clamoring to hear the adventurer’s tale.

Philip hopped on top of the table and began. “Hey, everybody. We’re back now. It’s nice to see everyone again. You know, I’ve heard a lot of epic adventures in the past, and my friends here are really working hard to imitate the valor I’ve heard so much about and it was very inspiring to me, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons here. We saw a giant elk in the woods. It was so beautiful and magnificent.” Philip pointed to the bar indicating how large the beast was.

“Tell ‘em about the time you rode it into battle!” Lawrence cheered.

“Oh, yeah,” Philip recalled. “I rode the elk. It was so powerful and strong and reminded me of the beauty that exists in nature and how working together we were able to overcome these obstacles. The real gratitude goes to my friends here. I’m sure that they have much to say as well, but we’re going to be eating for now, and if you’d like to talk with us, you know where we are.” Philip returned to his seat.

“Tell us about how you defeated your enemies!” shouted a handsome stranger with a clear voice.

“I think we should celebrate with a song,” Valeria offered.

“Yes, a song,” the handsome man cheered, and soon the whole tavern was cheering for a song along with him.

“But first,” Valeria called, “drinks all around!”

Another cheer erupted, as more folk continued to enter.

Wilf and Calista were busy serving drinks, with Jess and Philip rushing to help them get a drink into everyone’s hand.

Valeria climbed onto the bar, and once everyone had been served, she sang:

“I had a plan to start a band.
My aspirations, they were grand.
I’m not royalty,
but I have to help everybody that I can.

Outcasts get together,
To have an adventure.
Going through caves, whether dryer or wetter
Kill monsters, priests, and undead
Provoking, such a sense of dread, oh

My companions are pretty neat,
Capable of any feat.
One monk, two priests,
Sorcerer, ranger, and thief.
We had more, but they’re deceased.
We can defeat almost any beast,
Well, we can try, at least, woah.

They said, don’t, gooooooo,
To the caves, but I said,
Nooo, we’ll go, to the caves,
Cuz the outcasts are better.

Necromancers chased the orcs away,
The kobolds had a lot to say,
But once they got their dragon egg,.
They moved to a place so far away, ay.

More undead, the priests had to raise,
After goblins and bugbears, we had slain,
You should have seen their face,
When Lathander and Tymora
Turned them away, yeah

Already we lost four,
When the Black Knight had drew his sword,
Prynhawn’s broken form,
We are gonna have to restore.

We broke ‘em down,
Skeltar, Zombire,
Took one of our peers,
Their dinner invitation was insincere.
We made them disappear.
And the bandits weren’t too much to fear, no

They said, don’t, gooooooo,
To the caves, but I said,
Nooo, we’ll go, to the caves,
Cuz the outcasts are better.

They said, don’t, gooooooo,
To the caves, but I said,
Nooo, we’ll go,
To the caves cuz the outcasts are better.

They said, don’t go,
Don’t go-o,
But the outcasts are better.”

The tavern erupted in cheer.

“That was really good!” the handsome man said, approaching Valeria. “Where did you learn to perform like that?” he introduced himself as Robin.

As Valeria gladly listened to Robin’s praises of her singing, Jadele approached, clearly interested in hearing more about The Black Knight, asking what they did with the body, and suggesting that they might want to burn or bury it, so that it didn’t rise again.

Valeria indicated that they would be returning to the caves.

“Even if it does rise again,” Brother Martin noted, “I have its armor.” He displayed the thick black armor he had brought back from the caves.

“Good job putting chaos down and keeping civilization safe for good people,” Abercrombie praised, cutting in. “Way to fight the good fight!”

Calista and Wilf continued to fawn over Jess.

“Opal would be so proud of everything you’ve done,” Neanne praised Vernim. She explained that life without Opal was really hard with all the work between her and her daughter, but that they were getting by. “People in the keep are very helpful. It’s a nice community, but everyone’s busy with their own jobs. Taking care of all the cows and delivering all the milk is a lot of work for the two of us.”

“Tymora has been answering our prayers and answering my calls,” Vernim insisted. “I feel confident that Opal will finally return to all of us. I feel very confident that Tymora is shining upon us, and I hope for our sake and mostly your sake, that she can return to us.”

“I hope so too,” Neanna sobbed. “You’ve been great. Thank you for all your help.”

Approaching Asham, Brother Martin asked, “Asham, how did you know Mendel?” When Asham looked puzzled, Brother Martin continued, “When we were at the caves, one of the acolytes shouted his he knew he was there at the caves.”

“Why would they shout Mendel’s name?” Asham asked.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Brother Martin replied, “but we heard that he took a bunch of horses. So it’s possible that he went to the caves and was doing business there. I was wondering if you knew anything about it.”

“You think he was involved with those monsters at the caves?” Asham gasped.

“Some time ago Mendel offered me double the normal price if I would put a secret compartment in a specially commissioned barrel for him and I agreed. On his next trip through, he was full of praise for my work and ordered several more of the same design. Only gradually did it occur to me that Mendel was a smuggler, and despite the generous remuneration I decided to have nothing more to do with his schemes. Mendel only smiled when I told him, but then, the following day my eldest daughter Arpad had disappeared. Mendel paid me a little visit the next day and, smiling, told me my daughter had been spirited away by the Hidden Temple and would remain safe and sound so long as I cooperated by keeping quiet and continuing to supply him with the special barrels. I didn't know whether Mendel was actually involved in Arpad’s disappearance or whether she is even still alive, but I dared not endanger her and so I reluctantly continued building the barrels.”

Asham broke down in tears as he revealed his long held secret. Brother Martin did his best to console to cooper.

Mouse, with a drink in hand, sat down next to Philip, “Wow, that was some tale. It’s quite an adventure you had. Do you mind if I join you?”

“Well, yeah.” Philip nodded agreeably as he slid over to make room. “It’s been quite a lot to take in, but you know it’s got plenty of good parts. I can’t say everything’s been great, but it’s a lot of fun. How’s it going here?”

“It’s okay,” Mouse replied. “It’s nice that you have friends. That seems very important to you.” Mouse continued as Philip nodded in agreement. “It’s nice here. It’s a stable life. Except for all these tall folk, it’s a lot like being back home. You know what I mean?”

“Mm-hmm...Yeah,” Philip agreed, nodding and chewing and drinking. “I’ve really enjoyed it here too. It does feel a lot like a home away from home for me. I feel welcome here.”

“You are welcome here,” Mouse said with a smile.

“Thank you,” Philip replied, taking another swig.

“I feel like there’s only so much adventuring one can take,” Mouse continued.

“Um, maybe yeah,” Philip replied. “Sometimes it feels like that. Why, what’s going on?”

“I’m just thinking that if you ever feel like settling down,” Mouse said, placing a hand on Philip’s, “this is as nice a place as any.”

“Okay,” Philip stammered, “Um…”

“You know I used to be an adventurer…” Mouse teased.

“Oh, really?” Philip perked up. “How was that?”

“It was exciting,” Mouse replied, “while it lasted.”

“Do you have any stories of your own?” Philip asked. “I’d be really curious to hear that.”

“Sure,” Mouse agreed. “The reason I decided to settle down here was my mentor was a locksmith, and he explored those caves decades ago, and when I told him I wanted to settle down, he suggested this would be a good place and this seemed like a good business. He taught me how to make locks and keys and traps and stuff, and being a banker seemed to make sense, and this seemed like a nice place to settle. If you ever want to settle down, this could be a good place, and there’s not a lot of folks like us around here. Sometimes it’s nice to have a companion of your own kind...if you ever want to settle down.”

“Maybe, maybe,” Philip replied. “This is a nice town and I might consider it. You know I don’t plan to be an adventurer forever, as they say, and everybody here is really nice.”

“I’ve been in much worse places,” Mouse revealed. “On the first adventures that I went on, my mentor sent me to a city and it was filled with corruption. All these factions competing against each other to try to take control of the city. My companions and I wound up taking down the local thieves’ guild.”

“Wow!” Philip gasped. “Like a whole war.”

“It wasn’t really a war,” Mouse clarified. “But there were some battles in the streets. I remember it was pretty dangerous at times when the different gangs were fighting in the streets, and at one point these gangs were vying for my companions and I to join their side.”

“You must have been quite the adventurer,” Philip praised.

“Just like you Outcasts, we did what we could,” Mouse hinted. “You know a thieves’ guild doesn’t have to be run with such a heavy hand like The Veil was.”

“That’s really interesting, Mouse,” Philip replied, trying to absorb all that was being said. “I’ve never been to a city, and frankly if that’s my lot in life, that’s not so bad.”

“After that we wound up chasing the guild to another town where they were occupying a supposed haunted mansion. All the locals were afraid of this mansion, but it turned out to be a front for the guild’s smuggling operation.”

“Wow!” Philip gasped. “I can’t believe I haven’t heard this before. So what did you do?”

“We took them down,” Mouse bragged. “We took down the entire guild. We stopped the smuggling operation and we even wound up commandeering one of the smugglers’ sea ships. For all I know my other companion still has it.”

“Your other companions?” Philip asked. “How many of there were you?”

“There were five of us,” Mouse explained. “One of them died. Fortunately we were able to bring him back.”

“Oh, really!” Philip wondered. “We’re hoping to do the same. Unfortunately some of our companions have also died. I don’t know if there’s any way that you could help us out with that.”

“Hey, Mouse. How are you?” Valeria greeted, approaching Mouse and Philip. “I was wondering if you have any diamonds, because we’re going to try and revive our companions as soon as we can.”

“I do have some diamonds saved up,” Mouse admitted, “for just such a purpose.”

Mouse agreed to hold the diamonds for them, adding with a squeeze of Philip’s hand, “They’ll always be available. You know where to find me.”

“Thank you,” Valeria replied awkwardly, and left the two of them to finish their meal.

Yanliz, who had been watching the crowd carefully from the corner, approached Mouse, and seeing the conversation with Philip, closed his mouth and slid back into a corner.

With his lute, Robin convinced Valeria to make some music with him. She retrieved her flute, and they put on a tune that got almost everyone out of their seats and dancing the rest of the night away.

As Vernim was watching people file out, he noticed Abercrombie’s proselytizing to an attentive Dervek about how we all need to do our part to help in the war against chaos.

Yanliz approached Vernim and asked if he had seen anything unlawful or suspicious. Shaking his head, Vernim joined him and the rest of the group on the way back to their shared room.

In the morning, Yanliz woke with a gasp. Philip asked if he was okay and offered him a glass of water, but Yanliz insisted he was fine.

While Vernim slept late, the rest of the group reflected on all they had learned on their adventures.

Lawrence attuned to the bracers of defense they had found. Jess gave her ring of protection to Valeria. Yanliz gives Jess his cloak of protection. Lawrence gave his ring of spell turning to Philip. Philip gave the insight stone to Brother Martin.

Pulling Valeria and Brother Martin aside, Lawrence revealed that, “the goblet I picked up from the shrine gave me really bad vibes last night.” Displaying the goblet to them, he added, “It felt like it was really evil.”

“It did seem sacrificial,” Valeria concurred.

“I’m not sure I understand what it’s doing,” Lawrence elaborated, “but it felt like it was trying to invade my mind or something. Maybe I would have died, but it doesn’t seem like it took effect, so we might be in the clear. I’m just letting you know in case I don’t wake up tomorrow.”

“Definitely do not sleep anywhere near it,” Valeria instructed, “or have it near any of us.”

“Oh my!” Philip cried, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do with this? Have you ever heard of anything like this?”

“We could try to destroy it,” Lawrence suggested, “or we could break it. We could put it in the labyrinth and hope no one ever finds it.”

“Do you think we could destroy it?” Philip asked.

“We could certainly try,” Valeria replied. “Should we tell Abercrombie? Because he might know about it.”

When Vernim finally woke, he felt a new divine energy, confident that he could revive their fallen companions from their gentle repose.

Yanliz visited the Quartermaster's and bought a component pouch. When he met back up with the group, he retrieved a rope from Jess.

The group visited Mouse and appraised the diamond in the blackened silver ring Jess had retrieved from Sapphira’s treasure room at one hundred gold coins. The banker removed the diamond for them in exchange for the ring itself. They agreed to trade Mouse their diamond worth five hundred gold coins for five diamonds worth one hundred gold coins each.

With their six diamonds, they all headed to the chapel.

On the way, Yanliz pulled Vernim aside, “I know what it’s like to have someone you care about taken from you and you feel helpless to stop it, like my mentor, Berrian Amastacia. And I know it can suck. I don’t know if you’ve considered this, but maybe it would be better if Opal doesn’t go to the caves with us anymore.”

“I agree,” Vernim nodded, somewhat lost in thought at the prospect of reviving his companions. “I don’t want to risk losing someone like that again in a situation where I had complete control and I screwed up.”

“Vernim, we all make mistakes,” Philip consoled, “and more importantly we’ve all kept on going and learned from them in some way and we’re different people now, so I wouldn’t feel too bad about it.”

“That’s nice of you to say,” Vernim acknowledged. “Thank you, Philip. What’s personally important to me is that I atone for my mistakes. You know I’ve spent so much time working on this necromantic magic—this healing magic so that I could make up for that mistake and for me what I see as the mistake is the loss of Opal’s life. It’s really important to me to have done what I can and bring Opal back in a way that’s beneficial for everyone. I completely agree that we should revive everyone and that’s why it’s important to me to do Opal first, again because she is—if I make a mistake, I just want to do her first. And I’m more than happy to do Prynhawn today, and Dubricus I can also do as soon as I rest again.”

“That’s fine,” Valeria replied. “As long as you revive Prynhawn today.”

“Yeah, of course,” Vernim agreed. “And I thank you all for being so flexible and allowing me to fix this horrible mistake that I’ve made. It really means alot to me that you are all such great companions and are willing to help me through these mistakes.”

Putting a hand on Vernim’s shoulder, Brother Martin said, “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

At the chapel, Abercrombie led them to Opal’s body in gentle repose. Placing three diamonds on Opal’s body, Vernim said a prayer, “Tymora, I know it’s been a rough experience, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and you’ve been there for me throughout it. Please allow me to continue serving you as best as I can and help me bring this companion back from death to the world of the living. This will allow me to atone for my sins and atone me for the tresspasses I have committed to my wonderful companions. My companions have been there for me through thick and through thin. Just as you have for me, and this is all I ask of you. If I ask nothing else of you, I ask you for this: please help me bring Opal and Prynhawn back today, for they deserve a second chance even more than I do.”

Once Vernim cast revivify, the diamonds disappeared and Opal slowly opened her eyes.

“Vernim, where are we?” Opal asked, meekly.

“You’re alive.” Vernim rejoiced.

“I am?” Opal asked. “What happened? The last thing I remember...light...heat!”

“It was a terrible mistake,” Vernim assured her. “But today we are back at the keep and we are all together again.”

“You brought me back?” Opal swooned.

“My mistakes killed you,” Vernim admitted, “but I brought you back!”

“You?” Opal was incredulous. “No. I can’t even believe it. But you brought me back and we’re together.”

Soon after, Vernim also cast revivify on Prynhawn, and they all rejoiced at the return of their companion.

Prynhawn had lots of questions and they filled him in on what had happened with The Black Knight and all that had transpired in the three days since the half-orc’s fall.

“I got you this really cool armor that I think you’re going to love,” Brother Martin said, showing Prynhawn The Black Knight’s armor. “It will look great on you.”

Raising his holy emblem, Brother Martin channeled his divinity to preserve life, restoring vitality to Prynhawn and Opal. Then the cleric cast cure wounds on Prynhawn, bringing his vitality back to normal.

They decided they wanted to return to the caves to retrieve the rest of the treasure. After they promised not to do anything reckless, Vernim asked if he could remain at the keep for the day with Opal, and everyone agreed.

The trip to the caves was uneventful, and the companions were happier than they had been in days.

Noting that no one was at the entrance to the highest cave, Yanliz led them to the priest’s cave.

The bodies of The Black Knight and The Huntress were gone!

Yanliz led them toward the temple, and past the vestibule where they found Dervek, and into the labyrinth. There they retrieved two sets of half-plate armor.

From there, Yanliz led them down the stairs to the room where the honored dead lay, and through the secret door.

“Guys,” Yanliz announced, “remember when I woke up suddenly last night? I had another one of those visions that I told you about with the darkness. Check this out.” A veil of shadows and silence surrounded Yanliz and radiated from him as he cast pass without trace.

Tarlech's Mummy Cat
Everyone else waited around the corner in darkness while Yanliz approached the secret door at the far end of the corridor. Opening it silently, he opened the stone secret door a crack and saw there was light from the other side. Opening it a bit more, the gleam of feline eyes caught his attention as the cat sitting on the table sniffed in his direction and let out a loud “meow!”

Tarlech the Necromancer
A robed man behind the table immediately looked up, grabbed his wooden staff, and began chanting. In a mirror, Yanliz saw a familiar woman’s face from somewhere in the room.

Casting hunter’s mark, Yanliz backed up to the rear wall and called out, “Guys, we have a problem!” His first arrow bounced off the wizard’s robes, as did the second, but the third landed in the wizard’s chest. Yanliz withdrew to his companions, while Philip dashed into the room and struck the wizard with his staff. The monk followed up his strikes with a flurry of kicks, connecting once. Valeria stepped up to the secret door and shot two eldritch blasts at the wizard, missing with both. She recognized the woman as Chantel.

Bloody and bruised, the wizard tossed a bright streak of fire into the corridor, and it erupted in flames. Jess, Lawrence, Prynhawn, and Yanliz were able to avoid the brunt of the fireball, but Philip, Brother Martin, and Valeria were engulfed in flames. The cat leapt onto Philip, but the halfling batted it aside, and it landed gracefully back on the table. Jess stepped up to the secret door and shot an arrow into the wall.

“Two can play at that game,” Lawrence chided as he stepped up to the secret door and cast his own fireball, which dropped the wizard and Chantel, but not that cat, which leaped across the room. Brother Martin entered and cast sacred flame on the cat, but it leaped away from that as well. Yanliz stepped back into the entryway and stuck two arrows into the cat, pinning it to the ground, as Philip and Jess began dragging the wizard into the corridor. As Valeria was examining the half charred room, she noticed that Chantel was stirring and swatted her down with the flat of her sword. Prynhawn began dragging Chantel into the corridor. Yanliz picked up the cat by his arrows and retreated into the corridor.

Once they were all in the corridor and Yanliz had shut the secret door, Brother Martin cast spare the dying on the wizard, and Jess bound and gagged him.

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