Session 81: Keep On Tracking

As the group was being bombarded by arrows from the south, Prynhawn suggested to Valeria that they engage their attackers head on.

Casting light on her wand, Valeria instructed, “Everyone, run to the south!” Moving south of the road, she was followed by Philip, Jess, Prynhawn, Lawrence, and Martin.

“Arpad, get down!” Prynhawn directed as he headed south, and Arpad obeyed, crouching flat to the ground.

Hiding in the shadows off to the side, Yanliz paralleled his companions. Two laughing hyena leaped at him, but their laughter turned into short yelps as the gloomstalker silenced them with an arrow each.

With her wand lighting the way, and no enemies in sight, Valeria dashed farther south. Philip dashed slightly ahead of the bard. Lawrence dashed forward after them, picking up his glowing dagger along the way and tossing it to the south, revealing nothing but wilderness.

“Someone should stay with her,” Prynhawn indicated to Martin as he dashed up to Valeria’s side.

Jess followed, ducking down behind an outcrop of shrubbery.

Yanliz continued to parallel his companions.

Staying put, Martin cast healing word on Valeria, and beckoned Arpad to stay close. Arpad crawled south on her hands and knees.

Philip dashed ahead, grabbed Lawrence’s glowing dagger and launched it further to the south, but no enemies were revealed. Jess moved cautiously south to hide behind a stump, scanning the darkness for any sign of movement. Growing anxious that no enemies had been spotted and the arrows had ceased, Valeria moved cautiously south.

Yanliz continued to parallel his companions, searching the darkness, but finding no enemies in the distance.

Martin got down prone and crawled to the south.

Arpad screamed!

Looking back, Martin saw her trying to crawl toward him, but get dragged back by an unseen force. Her arms and legs were pulled tight to her body and she was forced flat and still to the ground.

Lawrence turned and headed back toward the road, searching in vain for Arpad’s assailant.

“We should go back!” Prynhawn yelled, as he turned and dashed back toward the road. “They’re not here. This might be a trap!” Passing Martin and reaching Arpad, the paladin saw nothing to attack.

Still cloaked in the shadows, Yanliz began to make his way cautiously back toward the road, searching for danger.

Arpad’s stiff form was lurched back slightly toward the road.

Reaching Arpad with his light, Martin could make out a clear watery substance writhing around Arpad, seeming to strangling her. He hit the flowing form with a guiding bolt, causing it to pulse and glow from the radiance. Arpad’s also convulsed slightly. “It’s some kind of water creature!” he warned his companions. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Reaching down, Prynhawn revived Arpad with lay on hands.

Lawrence hit the glowing watery form with a firebolt, causing it to ripple wildly. Arpad screamed and went unconscious again.

Philip turned and dashed north, followed by Valeria, and quickly passed by Jess, who barely managed to reach Arpad.

Reaching Arpad, but afraid to stomp on the creature for fear of hurting Aprad further, Philip tried to rip the water from Arpad, but his hands passed right through the watery creature. He grabbed Arpad’s legs and began swinging Arpad around. As he choked up on her legs, and gained momentum, the substance seemed to slowly slide up and off her.

Moving closer and reaching out carefully, Valeria cast cure wounds on Arpad, but she was still unconscious.

Jess tried to hit the form as it slid off Arpad, but missed the quickly moving target.

Prynhawn’s dimly glowing sword flared with white-hot intensity as he cast searing smite and sliced through the watery form. It began to fizzle as the flames cut through it, and it seemed to lose its form and splashed to the ground in a puddle, quickly soaking into the soil.

Martin revived Arpad with preserve life.

Arpad screamed as she gained consciousness and was still being spun around by Philip, who placed her down as gently as he could.

Arpad got up on her hands and knees and coughed, spitting out some fluids. “What happened, and why were you doing that to me?” Arpad choked as she tried to compose herself.

“I'm sorry, Arpad,” Philip apologized. “That must have been a difficult experience, but you’re safe now. Some kind of slime was attached to you.”

“I felt it grab me and pull me down!” Arpad sobbed. “It was scary. It was really scary!”

Philip tried to console Arpad, and her wailing quickly subsided as she—on her knees—sobbed on his shoulder.

“We should probably get moving,” Martin suggested, after collecting some of the wet earth in a bottle for later examination.

Pointing out that the barking had ended, Prynhawn used lay on hands on Arpad and Valeria.

Yanliz collected his arrows from the two dead hyenas, and then joined back with the party, who were glad to see him well.

Lawrence insisted that they leave his still glowing dagger where it had been tossed, and they made the rest of the journey back to the keep without further incident.

After routinely greeting Sabine, even at this late hour, they made their way to their rooms.

On the way, Valeria passed by Opal’s apartment and sent a message to Vernim: “Hey, Vernim, we’re back. Could you prepare remove curse for tomorrow? Thanks.

Hi, Valeria. Welcome back. I will,” Vernim replied via the message.

In the morning Valeria, Philip, Prynhawn, Lawrence, and Yanliz went to the One-Eyed Cat, where they found Jess working and Vernim waiting.

Valeria asked Jess if she knew whether Arpad would be joining them again, and Jess didn’t know but left to fetch Arpad.

Philip filled Vernim in on the previous day’s events.

Prynhawn glanced at Vernim knowingly when Philip detailed their barking and growling attackers on the road.

When Philip told Vernim about Bethany, Vernim concluded that, “Our good actions were not good for Apep, so Apep must have stopped supporting her, because she was a good person.”

“That is an interpretation,” Prynhawn replied.

“She was most likely manipulated and somewhat controlled by this cursed necklace that Martin is carrying,” Yanliz mentioned.

“Yeah, I don’t think I should take this to Phandalin,” Martin considered, withdrawing the necklace from his pocket.

“What’s this about you going to Phandalin?” Vernim asked.

Martin enthusiastically explained that he had been contacted by a sending and had to depart immediately for Phandalin to assist in the construction of a new temple. “Also, it’s not Brother Martin anymore. Now it’s Dawnbringer Martin.”

Vernim and the others congratulated Martin on his divine promotion.

“I think we all can definitely see the work you’ve put in,” Vernim praised. “It is extremely well deserved. Congratulations!”

“They raise it,” Philip quipped.

“How does a cleric help build a temple?” Yanliz inquired.

“Well, you know the clerical work has to get done…” Valeria offered.

“I’m guessing a lot of it will be making sure the temple matches the Dawnfather’s design,” Martin proposed, “doing outreach to the local community, and consecrating ground. It’s going to be a different pace than what I’ve been used to.”

“I was sent to find Sister Garaelle,” Vernim disclosed, “but when I arrived in Phandalin they said she was missing. When you’re there, please look out for her and let me know what you find.”

“I will let you know with a sending as soon as I find out anything,” Martin promised.

Jess returned with Arpad, who expressed an interest in returning to the caves with them to retrieve the rest of the books from the library. Valeria gave her Tarlech’s spellbook and a black pearl so she could practice casting identify.

They deposited the newly acquired treasure in the bank, agreeing to withdraw 1,000 gold pieces for Martin. Martin gave Bethany's golden snake amulet to Valeria and his stone of wisdom to Vernim, saying that Vernim would need it more than he would. He also left Vernim with the black book, the small red book, and the three clay tablets.

Vernim gave the amulet of health to Yanliz.

“Where ya goin'?” Mouse asked, overhearing their arrangements.

“I’m going to Phandalin,” Martin explained, ‘to build a temple.”

“I’ve passed through there, and I have some contacts there,” Mouse revealed. “Philip, are you still in the market for a diamond?” Mouse winked at Philip playfully.

“We could definitely still use one for Dunbricus,” Philip confirmed.

“Well then I might be able to help you,” Mouse indicated, pulling a parchment out from the desk, scribbling some notes on it, and sealing the letter with wax.

Handing the letter to Martin, Mouse instructed, “Martin, when you get to Phandalin, give this to a contact of mine, Halia Thornton at the Miner’s Exchange. If you pay Halia up front, I’m sure she can have a diamond delivered here.”

They withdrew an additional 600 gold coins to purchase two diamonds of the necessary value.

“We’re all going to miss you,” Yanliz stammered, pulling Martin aside. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me as a friend, and your whole speech about second chances. I’m definitely going to remember it and hopefully I won’t be in the same situation again. And because you were always—despite our differences in opinions—you were always there as a friend. If you need anything—if you’re ever in a pickle, you can let me know and I can help you out. And if you need an escort to Phandalin, I’ll gladly come with you too.”

“That means a lot, Yanliz,” Martin was taken aback. “And I do hope that going forward you’ll help yourself, because you know I’m not going to be here. I think you can do it. You just have to promise me that you’ll try, cause I know it’s hard. I think you’re getting there. I really do.

“And as far as the escort goes,” Martin continued, “I don’t really want to take you away from the Outcasts, but I guess they are having an easy day tomorrow, and it is a dangerous road, especially if I have to look after Jenn. And it could be good for you to meet everyone at the temple.”

“Oh!” Yanliz exclaimed, “I don’t think I’m going to stick around to talk to people.”

“Maybe just briefly…” Martin proposed. “You’ll get to see where I—”

“I’m more concerned with just making sure you’re protected on your way there,” Yanliz clarified.

“Well, if you want to come,” Martin accepted, “I would really appreciate it. Especially with the hyena’s and the weird slime and the undead in the woods, it could be dangerous. I was thinking about asking someone at the keep, but you would definitely make a better escort. I would appreciate your company and it would be a good time to talk.”

“I’m going to escort Martin to Phandalin,” Yanliz explained to Valeria, “to make sure he gets there safely. I don’t think you should run into too much trouble.”

“I mean,” Valeria questioned, “it’s ultimately your decision, but it seems a little weird. We’d certainly love to have you here, but it’s up to you. I’m not going to stop you.”

“I’ll be back in a few days,” Yanliz reasoned. “I can buy us some horses if you want…and I can bring the diamonds back.”

As the companions bid Martin farewell, Vernim added, “Brother Martin, I hope you have a safe trip. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, but thank you for everything over the past month. You’ve really—I think—awakened a lot within all of us and have really changed our perspectives on so many things, and I know you’re going to do the same in Phandalin, so thank you for all you’ve done.”

“Thank you, Vernim,” Martin responded. “I guess we kind of got off to a strange start, but I think we’ve become good friends. I think we’ve definitely given each other a good diverse perspective, which I appreciate and I’ll miss.”

After Martin had departed with Jenn and Yanliz, Arpad returned, declaring she was ready to cast identify.

After casting identify from her book, Arpad lamented, “I don’t get it. There’s some kind of enchantment, but I don’t know what this does. It doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t why. I’m sure I cast the spell right. Is there anything else you want identified?”

“It probably doesn’t work, because it’s not one of the normal schools of magic,” Lawrence remembered that the identify spell would not detect curses. “It’s a curse, not an enchantment. That’s my best guess.”

“You don’t think I was messing up the spell?” Arpad asked, relieved. “I thought that Martin or Vernim would have been able to remove the curse, but we’ll have to figure that out.”

Just to make sure, Valeria handed over her wand and Arpad confirmed she was casting the spell correctly.

Vernim cast dispel magic on the amulet, and Arpad cast detect magic from her spellbook, confirming that it was no longer magical.

They made arrangements with Tella to have Dynamo and Happy ready early the next morning, along with a wagon.

The next day, along with Arpad, they took Happy and Dynamo out with them to the caves, with Dynamo pulling their wagon.

The trip to the caves was uneventful. When they arrived, they slowly and arduously brought the wagon through the woods into the valley, where they tied Dynamo and Happy to nearby trees.

They went to the shrine and Vernim cast dispel magic on the two bloodstained goblets. Arpad cast detect magic from her spellbook, confirming that they were no longer magical. Valeria placed the bowl and ewer in her sack to be taken care of the following day.

They went to the hidden temple’s treasure chamber and collected the remaining coins.

“That’s a lot of coins,” Vernim remarked. As they cleared the treasure from the treasure room, Vernim noticed that the floor under the treasure was stained as if it was wet. “Interesting. It’s wet. It’s like stained, not wet. Like it looks like it was wet.”

Valeria saw it too and pointed it out to everyone.

“Do you think that’s where that water thing came from?” Jess asked. “Do you think we were carrying it the entire time with our coins?

“That’s possible?” Lawrence surmised, “Or maybe it followed us.”

“That is interesting!” Valeria observed, pointing out a slight trail toward the door.

“It’s possible that this is just where it lived,” Jess guessed, “and it just followed us all the way out.”

“Yeah, “Lawrence agreed. “ It could have been following us for a while. We all came in here at once, and maybe it didn’t want to reveal itself, and when Arpad was alone it decided that was its best chance.”

They all agreed that that was probable.

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