Sword Coast Guard, Episode 11 – The Sunken Temple, Part 1

Session Date: August 27, 2017

11 Eleasias, 1367 DR

The heroes walk up early before the sun has risen to the sound of watch horns blowing and patrols of Waterdeep soldiers streaming toward the docks. After quickly donning their armor, they head to the docks.

There they find hundreds watch members and soldiers waiting anxiously on the docks. Belgarath investigates the water and discovers that it is darkened with blood.

Soon, several dozen Waterdeep soldiers emerge from the water, carrying a dozen wounded and bleeding sea elves, including Parlanacel Fairskin. The soldiers and sea elves give a report to a man of authority standing nearby, Captain Rulathon the commander of Waterdeep’s soldiers and watch.

It turns out that hundreds of sahuagin attacked the sea elf colony, massacring nearly all of them and stealing the remnants out of their magical vault. Parlanacel sees the heroes standing nearby and flies into a rage, demanding to know why they did not eliminate the sahuagin threat as they had promised to do.

This brings the attention of Captain Rulathon down on the heroes; he also demands answers. The heroes explain that they were dealing with hags in Rassalantar, and Rulathon’s ire is partially abated, though he does reprimand Tzarkin the Younger – a soldier in charge of negotiating contracts with adventurers – for his trust in the Sword Coast Guard.

Finally, the heroes are charged with dealing with the sahuagin forthwith and dismissed from Captain Rulathon’s presence.

On their way through the city, a courier finds them and delivers a letter from Lady Nellabee Tharmar to Nigel. Nellabee says she was pained to find that Nigel did not visit her during the last tenday he spent in town, and asks him to join her in the library if the love they shared was real. This, of course, is the same woman who magically compelled Nigel to give her the remnants the bard carried not so long ago.

Nearby, Nigel spots someone who looks exactly like Ashton Sanguine, the man who ruined his reputation at the bard college in Silverymoon and whose throat he slit several ten days ago. The heroes quickly swarm the man, who doesn’t even try to flee.

In the discussion that follows, the man who appears to be Ashton Sanguine claims to be Nigel’s son. The heroes immediately begin talk of the demonic offspring Nigel has been fathering with Nellabee Tharmar. In the end, the heroes release the man, who merely requests that Nigel join his mother in the library, as he did in the good old days.

With Nigel’s loose ways – and a rapidly growing linage – continuing to plague the heroes, they head north along the coast toward the Red Cliffs where they should find the sahuagin.

12 Eleasis, 1367 DR

As they travel, they notice a much increased orc presence in the foothills south of the Sword Mountains – Belgarath and Nigel fly above the group on their flying carpet and hippogriff. One orc patrol spots them and beadlines their way.

Five orcs mounted on dire wolves surround the heroes who attempt to parlay. Though initially aggressive, demanding to know what right the heroes have to be in Shattered Teeth territory, the orcs change their tune when the heroes mention an affiliation with Lord Paxton. After some discussion, the orcs reveal that they are sword vassals to Lord Paxton.

The parlay proceeds with uncertain results until Nigel claims he is Ashton Sanguine and produces a letter that seems to substantiate his claims. Convinced, the orcs tell him that Grammillion (the leader of the orc tribe) will want to see him as he totally screwed up the remnant job. The orcs even threaten to take them to him themselves, but the heroes sweet talk their way out of that.

In the end, the orcs let the heroes go on their way without violence.

And that doesn’t happen very often with this group…

The Sword Coast Guard arrives at the Red Cliffs and, after some time searching, finally discover a cave that leads to an underground stream.

Flying two to a carpet and hippogriff, the four heroes follow the stream into a small cavern that appears to be part of an underground lake. There are two quays that lead to passages, and a couple other tunnels leading in other directions.

As the heroes begin looking around, a man bearing a long lance and riding a great white shark surfaces from the water’s depths. He demands to know why they are there, and the heroes tell him they are hunting sahuagin and plan to kill them. The man responds that sahuagin have been displacing his tribe.

The heroes then offer to work with him to kill the sahuagin, and the man accepts. He motions them to follow him. The heroes drink their water breathing potions, Xavier jumps into the water, and the others dismount onto the quays.

At this point one player tries to make an insight check as I’m getting out the battle map and minis. LOL A little too late…

The man was, of course, deceiving the heroes, and Xavier notices five more men on sharks submerged below the water just as he jumps in. They move to attack immediately.

Though Xavier finds himself in a dangerous predicament, Elodin responds with a well-placed hypnotic pattern that catches most of the enemies. As the heroes attack their foes, one of the warriors moves about slashing his companions to wake them out of their stupor.

Just as the enemies have mostly escaped the hypnotic pattern’s effects, Nigel casts compulsion on them, causing nearly all of them to move away from the battle.

At this point, the fight turns into a matter of cleaning up one or two enemies at a time as they escape the compulsion effect. Xavier, with a stroke of inspiration, blows his Horn of Blasting at a group of them as they return from up passage. The enemies are heavily damaged, but the horn blows up in Xavier’s face.

It had a twenty percent changes of blowing up. I rolled 89 on the percentile dice. This made me happy.

Once the last of the shark riders and sharks are killed, the heroes search their bodies and not tattooed along the inside of their forearms: the distinctive symbol of Drazovin.

Then the heroes move to the south to investigate a room off one of the quays. The room contains two pools with large rocks scattered about. Rope is tied around the rocks with the loose ends coiled next to the rocks. On the far wall is painted the symbol of Drazovin.

Belgarath suspects something amiss with the rocks and moves in to investigate. As soon as he nears the pools, the water ripples and several pale-skinned humanoids with long tongues lolling out of their mouths emerge from the water.

Ghasts.

Though the heroes are initially overwhelmed by the monsters’ sudden rush, they quickly shift the tide of battle back in their favor. Belgarath downs several of the undead with his morningstar, and Xavier does the same with his magical sword. Nigel and Elodin fling spells from the back line.

Soon, the ghasts are defeated, and Xavier dives into a pool to investigate. At the bottom of the pool, he finds a skeletal figure with a rope attached to a rock tied around its ankle. The skeleton is “alive” and claws futilely at Xavier, who is out of reach.

After finishing the skeleton off, Xavier tells the group what he found. The heroes suspect that the ropes and rocks were a method of feeding the ghasts.

The Sword Coast Guard

the adventurers formerly known as the Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls

Not Pictured: Xavier - Eldritch Knight Fighter

Sword Coast Guard, Episode 10 – Tichwillow’s Truth, Part 2

Session Date: August 13, 2017

1 Eleasias, 1367 DR

As the Sword Coast Guard stands over the hacked and smoking corpses of ogres and trolls, they hear loud footsteps – running footsteps – approaching from separate corridors. The heroes discuss briefly how to prepare for whatever is coming, but end up doing nothing.

That’s what happens when players spend the time discussing what to do but don’t actually decide on anything.

Then, from one corridor emerges a large, two-headed giant – which the heroes and their grandmothers easily identify as an ettin. A second horribly deformed giant covered with bumps and boils, though with only one head and much larger than the ettin, exits another passage. This giant, a formian, bellows, “For Tichwillow!” and leads a charge against the heroes.

Elodin immediately banishes the formian, and Belgarath nearly single-handedly takes the ettin down. The heroes then gather around the spot the formian was banished from and prepare themselves to attack when it returns.

The formian returns, takes an incredible wolluping from the heroes, and then turns its large, misshapen eye upon Nigel. The bard’s skin ripples as his bone structure rearranges itself, and he is left as horribly deformed as the formian.

Which is possibly the single worst sort of thing that could happen to a lady-loving, player like Nigel. All good things much end eventually… I was originally debating between evil eying Elodin or Nigel, but Nigel insulted the formian and Elodin kindly translated. So, the formian chose Nigel. Thanks, Elodin!

The formian puts up a decent fight, dropping Belgarath, before finally going down himself. The heroes then mercifully heal Belgarath and bring him back up.

The heroes pass through a chamber covered in mud created by water constantly running down the walls, and enter a large room that serves as the pantry. Several carcasses hang from the ceiling by chains, maggots swarming them and flies buzzing about. Nigel then searches the containers and packages on the shelves, looking for ale, but instead finds several bottles of rum. That’s a win in Nigel’s book.

Just wait for when he decides to drink the ogre rum…

They then arrive at the door leading into what they call the “root room.” Belgarath listens at the doors, hearing what he believes to be primates grunting within. With the door barred from the other side, Mugzy – Malark’s ape companion – bum rushes the door in an attempt to break it down. Although he does fail to break the door down, he overwhelmingly succeeds at alerting those within to the heroes’ presence outside.

Nigel examines the door, finds a crack through which he can see the other side, and casts unseen servant on the other side of the door. The magical creation then lifts the bar from the door, opening it.

Inside the massive chamber, they see several thick roots – some 10 feet in diameter – punching through the walls and protruding into the floor. On the roots are perched two large, four-armed, white primates which Malark identifies as girallons. They are native to jungles far to the south, but the ranger knows they can be trained, and he immediately tells the group to leave one alive for him.

Mugsy is a good companion and all, but, I mean, a two-ton, four-armed gorilla is hard to beat, right?

As Belgarath moves into the room, Granny Tichwillow’s voice calls out to them. She congratulates them for making it this far, claiming it was but a test. She them proposes they work together, as they did when they brought down the White Knights, instead of fighting. Tichwillow promises them such a deal would be very lucrative for them.

Though the heroes cannot see her in the room – they suspect she is invisible – the begin negotiating with her. Among the many things discussed is that Tichwillow wants them to deliver unspoiled, innocent children to her. In exchange for that, she’ll give Belgarath information about a sentient morningstar he is seeking. Though Malark seems okay with such an arrangement, Elodin opposes it.

See? Occasionally alignment does matter in D&D. The other 98% of the time it might as well just say “whatever.”

Meanwhile, Nigel tried to sweet talk Tichwillow, saying he never wanted to fight her to begin with. Some of the heroes favor making the deal and walking away, though others want to fight – and which wants which sways back and forth several times.

FWIW, I would have been completely happy with Tichwillow making the deal and allowing the heroes to leave. Hags generally prefer to negotiate rather than fight. Also, it gives me that much more time to dream up foulness and mayhem for Tichwillow to be about and look forward to another encounter between her and the heroes. Alas, it was not meant to be…

Belgarath decides the matter, casting shatter where he believes her to be standing. Once Tichwillow is visible, her true form is revealed: a large annis hag, deformed and hideous.

The battle develops into a lengthy affair (taking nearly 3 hours of game time). Here are some highlights:

  • Tichwillow casts wall of thorns cutting off the party into two groups.
  • An acidic gas cloud wells up within the wall of thorns were some heroes are trapped.
  • Belgarath casts darkness on himself and takes on Tichwillow – an annis hag – and a girallon mostly by himself.
  • Tichwillow lightning bolts Belgarath, uses a bottle of wasps that heal her with their stings, and shatters a mirror over her head, producing a duplicate of herself.
  • Nigel dispels the duplicate.
  • Tichwillow casts blink (which the DM then forgot about for the remainder of the battle).
  • Elodin burns a hole through the wall of thorns and begins lobbing spells in the room.
  • Tichwillow gives Belgarath a crushing hug, dropping him unconscious, and then continues to crush him in his arms until he is dead.
  • Malark fires off volleys of arrows at Tichwillow.
  • Malark and Mugzy go down at various paints.
  • Tichwillow walks through the stone wall and appears in hallway next to Elodin and Nigel.
  • Elodin’s owl carries a potion to Malark, healing him.
  • Tichwillow casts cone of cold on Elodin, Mugzy, Nigel, and Malark.
  • Tichwillow drinks several healing potions.
  • Finally, Malark shoots an arrow in Tichwillow’s throat, dropping her

With Tichwillow and her girallon pets dead – Malark didn’t get his wish – the heroes quickly move to loot the hag’s body. They find potions of healing, a potion labeled “Love Potion #11,” an immovable rod, and a horn of blasting.

In the adjoining room used as prison cells, they find Tonguecutter, the orc they had rescued from the trolls and ogres and who had pledged allegiance to them. Tichwillow had imprisoned him once again; so, they free him once again.

2 Eleasias, 1367 DR

The Sword Coast Guard then heads to Gauntlet Hall, the castle they took over after killing most of the White Knights – noble paladins of Torm. There the heroes receive fanfare and a reverent chant of “Sword Coast Guard!” from the garrison of Waterdeep soldiers as they enter.

Not sure how they pulled this off… They ally with an evil hag, kill goodly knights of Torm, and then are revered as triumphant heroes… (It would be unfortunate if the truth ever came out…)

Civilar Casey is in charge of the garrison and tells them that the castle is now fully fortified should the orc army in the Sword Mountains make a move on Waterdeep. The heroes entrust Tonguecutter to her care, telling her that he has valuable information that can be used against the orc army.

2 - 12  Eleasias, 1367 DR

Then the Sword Coast Guard heads back to Waterdeep where they pursue various downtime activities:

  • Elodin buys and scribes scrolls, and meets with a member of his old thieving group. He is trying to get information about rescuing Sharra, a former companion, from the Velvet Fists, the thieving group that absorbed his.
  • Nigel works as a researcher in New Olamn bard college and earns a favor from a scholar.
  • Belgarath works on finding someone who can cast a permanent tongues spell on him, and runs across Fea Eltorchul, a powerful wizard from Eltorchul Academy. Fea tells him that she could do such a thing, but he would need to bring her tomes of great arcane power. She also agreed to research the crypt where a sentient morningstar could be found.
  • Malark finds a merchant selling magical arrows and buys five arrows +1.

The Sword Coast Guard

the adventurers formerly known as the Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls

Hand of Light, Episode 19 – Finding Katso: Part 2

Session Date:August 4, 2017

5 Flamerule, 1367 DR

After the Hand of Light takes a short rest, Dunkle arrives with a new companion: Luna Hammerforge, a dwarven paladin that he met at a tavern who would like to join their group. After a quick introduction, Dunkle leaves the compound, explaining that he has other matters to attend to.

The heroes go around, introducing themselves to Luna, and then continue their quest to find Katso. While the heroes are traveling through the large chamber of wooden platforms and bridges, a massive tentacle explodes from the water, grabs Dona, and pulls her in the murky water far below.

The heroes briefly discuss looking for her but decide against it. Dona survived a kraken before, they conclude; she’ll survive one again.

The come to a corridor with double wooden doors at the end of it. Lyr does his best to search for traps in the absence of their trapper, Dunkle, but finds nothing.

When Karn pulls the doors open, spinning blade traps spring from the walls, slicing into the heroes. Furthermore, iron door slide into place, blocking the way forward and back, and the door to a secret chamber opens. Several aggressive chicken-like creatures stream forth from the hidden room, heading angrily at the heroes.

As they duck the spinning blades that fill the corridor, they must contend with the creatures that Dexter correctly identifies as cockatrices. Both Luna and Dexter are nearly turned to stone by the monsters, but manage to fit through their petrifying magic.

Karn, meanwhile, jams his halberd into the trap mechanism, disabling some of the blades. Once the cockatrices are dealt with, the heroes smash the trap’s gear boxes, disabling it.

The heroes come upon an octagonal chamber, and, upon thoroughly searching it, find a secret door. However, they are unable to discern how it opens. So, Karn rams his shoulder against the door repeatedly until it begins to crumble inward. Believing the door now inoperable, the heroes continue onward.

They come upon a set of heavy, iron-bound wooden doors. When they can find no way to open them, Karn and Luna begin to hack at them with their halberd and maul. Once they’ve done enough damage – and alerted everyone for miles around to their presence – they can see a heavy beam barring the door on the other side. They reach through, remove the beam, and the nearly ruined doors swing open.

Beyond is another octagonal chamber, this one with a high ceiling and a ledge some twenty feet from the floor. Lyr creates a giant scorpion with his staff, and sends it in with Karn and Luna to investigate.

Inside they find the walls below the ledge covered with a thick grease, preventing easy climbing. As they begin to search around for secret doors, three secret doors open, two at ground level and one on the ledge. The doors below review more swashbucklers and spies, and from the door on the ledge enters a half-elf drow they’ve dealt with before.

Shindia Darkeyes congratulates them on making it this far, and claims she has unfinished business with Lyr – who turned her into a rabbit in the heroes’ last encounter with her. After some dry banter and Karn calling Shindia to justice, a battle ensues.

Dexter immediately cuts off several of the enemies from the battlefield with a wall of force. Karn, Luna, and the giant scorpion engage the foes on the ground. Up above, Shindia begins shooting crossbow quarrels – heavily poisoned quarrels! – at the heroes.

The giant scorpion goes down quickly, and both Lyr and Dexter take cover behind the doors and farther down the corridor. Fortunately for them, the enemies are unable to flank them since they ruined the secret door back that way.

Luna begins dropping enemies at ground level, while Karn levitates up into the air – thanks to a spell from the bard – and uses his halberd to push off the wall and towards Shindia. The half-elf drow assassin had been decimating the heroes with her poisoned bolts, but once the paladin of Torm closes with her, she is quickly ended.

Dexter drops his wall of force, and the heroes make short work of the remaining enemies. One spy does surrender and rattles off lots of information about the compound and where to find Katso. Because he was so helpful, the heroes decide to spare his life and leave him tied to a door that Karn ripped from the hinges.

The Hand of Light enters Shindia’s private quarters next. Searching her desk, they find a “book of dirty secrets” that lists embarrassing and incriminating evidence for noble families and guilds of Waterdeep. Lyr immediately consults the book and finds an incriminating entry for Physic Verdon Hulda of the Guild of Apothecaries and Physicians.

In another part of her room, they find a chest with several glowing runes on it. However, they decide to come back for it later, after they’ve dealt with Katso. They also bypass the general quarters.

The come to the workshop, where the interrogated spy told them they’d find Katso. It is a massive chamber, split by two ledges, one on either side. They are on one of the ledges, and can see rancid sewer water far below. Two rickety wooden bridges stretch across to the far ledge. That ledge has alchemy equipment peaking above a low stone wall that runs its length. On one side of the chamber, two water outlets exit the wall, dumping murky liquid into the water below.

A familiar voice, echoes through the room, “Hello, friends. I’m glad you made it this far.” The heroes recognize the voice as Katso’s. “I just want you to know that the gnomes are mine. I would let you leave for old time’s sake, but you’ve seen the Great One’s wings and must now die. Any final words before I reveal my grand surprise?”

There is a brief exchange of words, but both parties know there can only be conclusion: battle. The heroes try to determine where Katso is but are unable.

Suddenly a gigantic tapestry unfurls from the ceiling along the eastern wall. The tapestry spans the entire wall. It depicts Katso sitting on a throne of wierdust blocks while Dona, Dexter, Lyr, Karn, Adrie, Balasar, and Rainn bow down before him in worship. Katso’s hair blows in an invisible breeze, and gnomish servants attend to his every whim.

“Do you like it?” the Great One’s voice calls. “This represents my grand vision of the future. Now, let’s make it a reality, shall we?”

Four winged tiefling thieves – Katso’s special hit squad – rise from behind the stone wall and fire bolts at the heroes. The heroes’ missing gnomes also reveal themselves from behind the wall, hurling concussion grenades at the Hand of Light. Katso emerges from on of the water outlets, fires an arrow at them, and retreats back within.

At this, Dexter casts another wall of force, sealing Katso inside the water outlet. Lyr then casts fly on Karn who then moves across the gulf to engage the thieves. Luna refuses to go across the bridges, believing they are trapped or will otherwise drop her into the water below, and fires an arrow at the thieves.

The battle that unfolds is nasty. Karn drops the thieves several times into the water with his advanced sentinel training, but they unleash loads of punishment regardless. Lyr casts blindness on two of the thieves, but they remain somewhat effective regardless. The gnomes continue to lob concussion grenades at the heroes, who do nothing to them as they want to rescue the gnomes from Katso’s lies, not kill them.

Luna moves over a bridge to engage a thief but is stabbed by two of them and goes down. One of the thieves casually pushes her unconscious form into the water far below where she will surely drown.

The battle going against the heroes, Lyr desperately casts polymorph on himself and turns into a T-Rex. However, before he can do much, two thieves stab him up with their swords, causing him to lose concentration.

Dexter drinks an invisibility potion and flees from one thief that had moved to engage him. The wizard then dives into the water after Luna. Finding her, he unstoppers a healing potion and forces the liquid down the dwarf’s throat before she drowns.

And, during all of this, Katso waits patiently, still trapped by the wall of force. He knows his former companions will have to release him eventually, and when they do…

Katso has more than enough surprises for them.

We had to stop the session mid-battle. It was 12:40 am, and the game shop was closing.

The Hand of Light

Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong - Bard

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

The Sword Coast Guard, Episode 9 – Tichwillow’s Truth, Part 1

Session Date: July 30, 2017

Midsummer, 1367 DR

Following the lead Linare gave them, the Sword Coast Guard heads to Dock Ward to speak with the sea elves about the malenti they found in their midst and the remnant it had.

They arrive at the harbor master’s office, and strike up a conversation with the busy man. Instead of getting straight to the point about why they are there – they simply need him to call the sea elves so they can talk – Nigel decides to spin up a tale about being there to claim salvage from the harbor.

The harbor master naturally asks to see requisition papers, which they don’t have. There is some back and forth, during which a second lie and the true reason for their being there are put forth. However, the harbor master is not having any of it, including a substantial bribe the heroes try to give him. Finally an attempt at intimidation by Malark pushes him over the line. In short order the harbor master has a squad of Waterdeep Watch there to sort things out.

The Watch calls bullcrap on their stories, and gives the Sword Coast Guard a stern rebuke. They are warned not to engage in any more deception against city officials. The civiliar in charge tells them that only their good reputation for aiding Waterdeep is saving them from official charges being laid against them. This time.

With the heroes somewhat deflated, the Watch detachment blows a giant horn that protrudes into the water of the harbor. Soon thereafter, a handful of sea elves emerge from the water.

The heroes tell their leader, Parlanacel Fairskin, they were sent by Linare to inquire about the malenti and remnant. The sea elves take them somewhere private underwater where they may talk, giving the heroes potions so they can breath underwater.

Throughout the scenes with the sea elves, the players continue to butcher Parlanacel’s name, leading to some interesting dialogue.

The heroes learn from Parlanacel that they captured a malenti – a Sahuagin, the racial enemy of the sea elves, that looks exactly like a sea elf – in their mist and that this malenti was carrying a remnant. He tells them that over the millennia the sea elves have been gathering remnants from the sea bed, and they have a few dozen stored in their magical treasure vault. The sea elves did not know the significance of the remnants until recently.

The heroes mention that they have eight of the remnants themselves. Parlanacel tells them the remnants all have a certain marking on them, and asks to see the hero’s remnants. Nigel then opens the tube where the remnants should have been – before he lost them to Lady Nellabee Tharmar – and feigns surprise when the tube is revealed to be empty.

Nigel then goes on to say how he had a dream where Nellabee took the remnants from him, but he though it was just a dream. Now it looks like it really happened.

All the players know what really happened, but their characters don’t. So, I had Nigel roll a Deception check and the others Insight checks. Nigel’s roll was higher than everyone else’s, so I ruled all of the characters believed him.

The heroes are taken to the malenti, whom the sea elves still have captive. Thus far the creature has refused to give any information.

So, the Sword Coast Guard then interrogates the creature, using detect thoughts. They gather valuable information about where the Sahuagin live, who their leader is – a four-armed Sahuagin brute – and that the Sahuagin are mining an underground lake for more remnants.

The also get information about a cloaked figure holding a trident who appears to be related to the effort to collect the remnants.

In the end, Parlanacel beseeches the heroes to go to the Sahuagin community, destroy them and all the malenti, and reclaim as many remnants as possible. He fears that if the heroes don’t do that immediately, the Sahuagin will attack the sea elves in order to steal the remnants from their vault.

The heroes promise Parlanacel that they will take care of the Sahuagin threat, and the sea elf leader gives them a dozen potions of water breathing to aid them in their efforts.

After their meeting with the sea elves, the heroes leave Waterdeep and head to Granny Tichwillow’s cottage, figuring that settling that business is the most pressing matter.

Some promises were meant to be broken, right? Actually, the group was split on what to do next, and I had the dice settle the matter. The dice ruled they go to Tichwillow’s.

1 Eleasias, 1367 DR

As they travel along a gravel path flanked by fields of wheat, they hear the sound of children’s mischievous laughter coming from the fields. The heroes investigate – Belgarath using his flying carpet and Nigel his hippogriff – but they find nothing but solemn scarecrows in the field.

There are some jokes at the table about the scarecrows animating and attacking them, but the DM pays this no mind. Players have fanciful imaginations, after all.

As they get nearer Tichwillow’s cottage, the gravel on the path turns supernaturally sharp and harms the hooves of two of their horses. They continue the rest of the way through the wheat fields, wheat tassels breaking off and sticking fast to their clothes as they walk along.

They finally arrive at the cottage around midnight – a fine hour for meeting someone suspected to be a witch or hag – and Granny Tichwillow invites them in.

The heroes confront her about the letter they found in the Candy Witches’ lair. Tichwillow reads the letter and then exclaims that her “evil clone” from the feywild must be working with the Candy Witches. She says that the Unseelie fey creating an evil person that looks just like her, and that it must be her that did it.

Belgarath is having none of it, though. As he eyes the stooped old woman before him, he sees through her magical disguise and and sees the grotesque form of a hag standing before him. He tells his companions what he sees, but most seem content to ignore him.

Nigel in particular wants to believe Tichwillow, and asks her where they can find her “evil clone.” Tichwillow them brings forth her divining tin and begins her ritual for consulting the bones. Blood, spit, and herbs go into the tin tray, and finally she casts in a handful of small bones. After a moment of reading the bones, she tells the heroes they can find her clone in a cave on the coast.

There is some discussion among the heroes about what to do, but Malark and Belgarath decide it by drawing their weapons and attacking.

As the battle unfolds, Granny Mathilda Tichwillow’s true form as a grotesque, large hag is revealed to all. Granny Tichwillow immediately squashes a toad on her shoulder, triggering teleportation magic that whisks her away.

Then the cottage itself comes alive: the doors and windows grow sharp protrusions that attack the heroes when they try to move through them, and the cauldron begins spewing forth toxic gas. Outside the cottage, several scarecrows, including a giant-sized one, animate, pull themselves down off the poles that hold them aloft, and swarm the cottage.

The heroes scramble to get out of the cottage – toxic gas is not good – where they then confront the scarecrows. The creatures are resistant to many of their attacks, but Elodin quickly learns that fire works quite well on them. He then drops a fireball that immolates several of them.

Granny Tichwillow's cottage turns into a death trap.

Once the heroes defeat the scarecrows, the cottage stops attacking them. With the danger passed, the heroes move back into the cottage to explore its contents.

Malark picks the lock on a chest upstairs and opens the lid to release a swarm of wasps. The insects cover him with scores of nasty stings before the ranger and Belgarath can kill them all.

In the bottom of the chest is a single copper pieces. Covered with swollen stings, Malark snarls and tries to scoop up the copper piece. A massive jolt of electricity courses through his body and tosses him away from the chest.

Just as he’s about to have Mugzy smash the chest to pieces, Elodin calmly has his mage hand retrieve the copper piece for the ranger.

Downstairs Nigel discovers a secret recipe book of Tichwillow’s that appears to contain recipes for potions and other oddities. The bard discretely pockets the book, hoping it contains a recipe for more of that delicious candy.

After taking a long rest, the heroes find several tracks made by large creatures outside the cottage. Following the tracks brings them to the Troll Holl, wherein dwell the ogres and trolls that helped them destroy the White Knights.

Things click together for Nigel at that moment. He tells the group that those ogres and trolls were probably working for Granny Tichwillow all along since it was she who sent them there to recruit them. The heroes agree and suspect they are walking into a trap.

Before going in, Belgorath and Elodin cast comprehend languages just in case they need to understand Giant, the language both trolls and ogres speak.

In the first chamber of the cave complex, they find several ogres and a troll on guard. They convince the brutes to lead them to the throne room and overhear a conversation in Giant where the ogres are talking about Tichwillow giving them orders to kill the heroes.

Ogres aren’t smart. No one else speaks their language, right? So why not talk about killing the heroes in their presence?

Elodin casts suggestion on one ogre, convincing it to leave the cave, and that ogre takes one of its buddies with him. With only a few ogres and one troll left, the heroes pounce on them. A wall of fire and some hack and slash later, the ogres and trolls are but smoking corpses on the ground.

The heroes confront ogres and a troll as they track down Granny Tichwillow.

And now they just need to find Tichwillow.

 

The Sword Coast Guard

the adventurers formerly known as the Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls