Ralkin, Flindle, and Katanya continue east, and luck is with them as they encounter no hostile creatures.
[Flashback to 6 Kythorn 1372 to 12 Kythorn 1372]
After a peaceful night's rest in the relative safety of Silverwood, Markus is dismayed to find upon awakening that his mount shows signs of dementia and rotting flesh—obviously a supernatural curse or disease from the encounter with undead the day prior. Markus leads the poor mount towards Silverymoon.
Markus reaches Silverymoon safely, and the next few days pass quickly. With little choice due to its rapidly deteriorating condition, the adventurer is forced to put his mount out of its misery. Acting on information gained from the diary entry of the deceased ranger found in the orc slave pits, Markus seeks out Blademaster Isobe Noboru, hoping to challenge the famous swordsman to a duel to win both acclaim and the legendary sword Ninefangs. Noboru refuses to see the young adventurer until he has proven himself, however, and so Markus is forced to duel several of the master's students. Although his immense skill with a rapier allows him to defeat several lesser warriors, the toll of the continuing headaches suffered after the near-perilous encounter with Spawn of Myrkul distracts Markus at a critical moment and he's disarmed by Noboru's top student and leaves in disgrace.
Markus drowns his sorrows in alcohol, but that night he is struck by another strange dream about golden dragons soaring majestically through the sky. The next morning, inspired, Markus seeks out some of Silverymoon's repositories of knowledge and legend and asks for information on where such magnificent creatures can be found. During the course of his inquiries, the adventurer befriends a mysterious, large humanoid named Tunak. Realizing that Tunak seems to know something about pretty much everything, Markus decides to accompany the fellow on his travels west.
[13 Kythorn 1372]
In the safety of the extradimensional pocket created by magic, Mellia angrily asks Fargrim why he hasn't been helpful in dealing with Eve, the paladin who is determined to arrest them on suspicion of murder. The dwarf responds in kind, shouting that "my job is to get our quest finished" and saying that if Mellia has an idea, now's the time to state it. Both agree that Eve must be crazy.
Down below, Sha'dar asks Eve about her pegasus mount and is disappointed to learn that its name is Percy. Eve asks Cain what deity he serves and whether the cleric will assist in apprehending the rest of the party. Cain says that, although he will not harm Eve, he will not assist either, because there is something he fears more than the paladin's wrath: Mellia's. Eve refuses Cain's suggestion that everyone put away their weapons and parlay.
After some more time passes, a frustrated Fargrim emerges from the extradimensional space. After hearing yet another one of Eve's demands that he drop his weapons and lay on the ground, Fargrim memorably tells Eve to "shut your goddamn mouth and talk to me!" Fargrim swears that he has no present plans to attack Eve if she's willing to parlay, but Eve says she does not trust the dwarf as he has evil in his heart. Mellia (still invisible) emerges as well, but even her prayers for divine intervention to Ilmater prove ineffective at resolving the stalemate.
The standoff continues, but soon the assembled adventurers hear fragments of singing carried on the wind from the east. Sha'dar quickly heads in that direction and sees a large carriage pulled by two strong horses. Holding the reins is a massive human, over 7 feet tall, with a thick protruding brow and a medallion hanging on a chain around his neck. Sha'dar tells the newcomer that he had best turn back, as danger lies nearby to the west. Upon hearing about the dispute, the newcomer (speaking flawless Elven) introduces himself as Tunak. Tunak says that he had heard strange tales coming from the area near Nesme and had travelled from Silverymoon to investigate. He invites Sha'dar to join him on the handler's bench and, undeterred, continues driving the carriage west.
Meanwhile, Fargrim tries to persuade Mellia to surrender so that the party can get on with things, especially since they were headed to Silverymoon anyway. Mellia asks Eve for proof that she really is from Silverymoon, and the paladin replies that Lady Joan of Deadsnows will vouch for her. Mellia replies that a mere assertion is not proof and remains skeptical that Eve, acting alone, could protect the unarmed party members if monstrous denizens of the Evermoors were to attack. Finally, progress is made after Mellia proposes that she will drop her spell components pouch and turn visible if Eve drops her lance and investigates Aloysius' death and Terreck's actions to confirm that the others were not involved. Eve agrees on the condition that Mellia gives an oath to submit to arrest if proof of guilt is found. Each carries out their side of the agreement.
Mellia proceeds to tell her side of the story, explaining about the attack of the frost giant and the white dragon that resulted in Aloysius' death. She says she had no idea Terreck was evil or would carry out an act like taking a trophy from the body of a fallen ally. Eve seems to give credence to the story, but then reveals that she knows through her divine gifts that Fargrim is "a creature of evil." Mellia acknowledges that the dwarf has been acting somewhat strangely recently, but both she and Fargrim agree that he has never done anything to call his character into question.
Eve decides that she should examine the scene of the crime, as it were, and question a witness (Bearos) whom she has not yet spoken to. With Mellia's consent, Eve climbs the rope up to the extradimensional space. Instantly, a tragedy ensues! Unbeknownst to the others, Eve's possessions include a magical bag of holding that contains within it an extradimensional space. When she, and it, enter the extradimensional space created by Mellia's spell, the juxtaposition of the space and Eve's bag creates a planar rift and collapses the extradimensional pocket, sucking everything in it to another dimension! In just instants, the paladin Eve and Fargrim's dear friend Bearos are gone.
Fargrim takes Grim's mask from his belt, puts it on, and says "All is lost! Now we're doing things my way! So shut up and listen to me! We're going to Mirabar to get that reward." Cain interjects, saying he knows where Eve and Bearos have gone: to the astral plane! Cain says planar travel is beyond his ken, but that powerful arcane and divine spellcasters in a major city like Silverymoon should be able to do so. The group decides that paying for such a service is likely to be expensive, and that they should travel to Mirabar to gain the reward for Grim's capture first. After introducing himself, Tunak offers to travel alongside the adventurers, stating that he enjoys the open road. Sha'dar, however, regretfully says he cannot travel to Mirabar as his duty lays within the High Forest and the threat posed to it from the manifestations of evil within the Evermoors. The elf quickly finds Cain's missing horse, Nero, chewing on some berry bushes and then departs with the expressed desire of meeting the adventurers again some day.
As the remaining adventurers slowly start to gather their things and prepare to break camp, Tunak hears a tapping coming from inside the carriage. He unlocks and pulls open the rear doors to reveal a sleepy-eyed half-elf. The personable, androgynous newcomer introduces hirself to Mellia as Cammy and asks what's been happening. Mellia is quite abashed about the accidental astral rift, but Cammy says spell mishaps happen to everyone. Cammy goes on to say that zie loves to collect and tell stories, and that zie's taken up to travelling with Tunak for that purpose.
Seconds later, another surprise emerges from the back of Tunak's carriage: Markus! Mellia, overwhelmed by the day's events, bursts into tears and hugs the returned swordsman. Cain is uncomfortable with his hug from Markus, but glad to see him nonetheless. Mellia provides a somewhat rambling explanation of what the party has been up to in Markus' absence, and Markus tells about his harrowing escape from the Evermoors and says he will never travel alone again. He excitedly displays a small increase in his magickal abilities, forming a small sphere of light.
Fargrim, taking the reins of leadership, tries to get Mellia motivated for the danger that lays ahead. The group then discuss the best way to get to Mirabar. Crossing the Rauvin or Surbrin in the spring can be perilous; Nesme may be under siege; the Evermoors are dangerous to cross. The group decide the safest route is the longest route, and plan to head east to Silverymoon and then follow the road south, skirting the edge of the Evermoors and rejoining the Long Road that will finally take them north to Mirabar. With Mellia, Cain, and Fargrim mounted and the others riding on the carriage, the group sets off.
Director's Commentary (January 24, 2016)
Let's start with one of the most infamous incidents of the campaign: the bag of holding incident. (This should actually be labelled "the first bag of holding incident", as much later in the campaign there would be another!) I had made it very clear to my players early in the campaign that any mixing of any extradimensional spaces would result in catastrophic consequences, and that I had a secret random table to determine what would happen. Still, players were having their characters buy bags of holding and the like willy-nilly, and I knew sooner or later someone would make a mistake! (insert evil DM cackle here). When Eve's player rolled on the table to see what would happen, he unfortunately rolled the very worst result: everyone and thing within 10' of the extradimensional incident would be sucked into the astral plane (Reflex save negates, which both Eve and the NPC Bearos failed). The PCs weren't at the level yet where travel to other dimensions was possible, even if they knew roughly where in the astral plane Eve and Bearos were. The dramatic event did solve the Eve problem, but also meant that Fargrim's long-term goal to rescue Bearos was seemingly stymied.
We start getting into some complicated stuff in the campaign with characters in different parts of the world on different dates, thus necessitating "flashbacks" and so forth until things become aligned. I always tried to respect in-character decisions and the verisimilitude of the world, but there were points this was quite burdensome to deal with later in the campaign and still have workable sessions with everyone involved (that is, without long stretches of people watching while others adventure because no one's in the same damn place at the same damn time!). In retrospect maybe I should have taken a firmer hand in this, but my philosophy at the time was that it was for the players to sort out amongst themselves--I was just there to respond to what they decided to do.
The campaign continues to go off the rails as the group decides to travel all the way to Mirabar, and along about the longest and most circuitous route possible.
|Tunak was actually a very gentle soul, and an excellent healer|