19. The End of the Beginning, Part 7
Gallexsy and Meme get run over by the large steel ball in the trap! But they are able to survive and are able to help Dave and Jed find a secret exit from the trap, despite Gallexy's piggy back hi-jinx. The secret exit led to a slide that caused the group to get separated from Jed. The group decides to keep moving in the hopes that Jed would catch up. He does shortly, and right before the group runs into a group of Kobolds. They hide quickly and are able to surprise the Kobolds and tear them apart rather quickly, and literally for Meme as she sprang out as a bear and cleaved two of the kobolds in two. During this surprise attack on the Kobolds, Dave is surprised himself by being attacked by Jed from behind. Dave is able to survive the initial powerful attacks and returns the attacks in kind with lightening from his legendary mace of Mishakal.
Meme and Gallexsy quickly finish off the rest of the Kobolds, and now seeing himself outnumbered, this evil Jed that attacked Dave turns and runs. Meme in bear form is able to run him down and kills him quickly. She is relieved to see once this Jed is killed, it changes form and reveals that a Doplleganger had taken Jed's place! Soon there after, the real Jed finds the group and they continue on relieved to be reunited.
The gang reaches the heart of the castle and finds a gigantic hole that has been dug out hundreds of feet down, and leads up hundreds of feet to the open night sky. Rain pours down from the dark cloudy sky, and the group decides to climb down as this must be where the ancient black dragon has made its home.
Climbing down, Jed is affected by dragon fear so severe that he is not able to climb down any further. Dave, Meme, and Gallexsy tell him to go back, as there will be nothing he can do in this state. The three musketeers, just like before, seem to be immune to dragon fear and continue on climbing down without their dragonborn friend, Jed.
Once they reach the bottom, their feet touch on mounds and mounds of gold, jewels and other treasure that the kobolds have been throwing down into this gigantic pit. After a few moments, they are greeted by a deep booming voice from behind them, "Well, well, well..."
18. The End of the Beginning, Part 6
Under the cover of night, Dave, Meme, and Gallexsy make there way towards a secret entrance into castle Xilo. Before entering the group decides to take a rest and recover from their travel across the swamp and lake. While resting they get a good look at the new inhabitants of the castle - Kobolds had moved in and are actively patrolling the area.
Without being seen, the musketeers make their way in through the secret entrance by swimming under a hidden door. On the other side they find a mostly empty room with one boat remaining. It looks like the residents of the castle had used the other boats and the secret exit to flee the castle away from the ancient black dragon. Here the group decides is their exit as well, and they decide to leave Guy behind to guard the boat and exit. Gallexsy leaves Guy with her Rubik’s cube (not sure where she got that) and the glowing blue holo-cube that they originally received from Doc when the group joined the musketeers. Guy wanted to examine the holo-cube as it seems like he took quite a shine to the Atlantean’s technology since meeting them in the swamp.
Leaving Guy behind, the group goes into the castle. They reach a room that’s filled with discarded materials, clothes, and broken furniture. Stopping for a quick look uncovers a zombie that immediately attacks Dave. Jed, the barbarian dragonborn, cuts off the zombie’s hand before it gets to Dave. Gallexsy finishes the zombie off by punching it straight in the head, smashing through it’s rotten skull, and destroying its brains with her knuckles.
After a brief argument as to where to go next - with Gallexsy wanting to see her old bedroom, and the rest of the group wanting to get to the treasure room (assuming that is where the dragon has made its lair) - the group heads towards another secret passage that is almost a direct line to the treasure room. However, forgetting about the traps in that direction, the group accidentally sets one off when the step into a dark 200 foot long hallway. Blue portals open up at either end, and they see a 12 foot diameter steel ball rolling towards them with no visible way out.
17. The End of the Beginning, Part 5
The Atlantean soldier called Sarge shows the group how to use the blue holocene that they had received from Doc. It plays a message from the leader of Atlantis. The message states that any Atlanteans that encounter the carriers of that message must do their upmost to help them. After seeing that cube and the message, Sarge brings the musketeers back to soldiers camp where Dave is able to heal Jed and get him back on to his feet.
Guy shows an aptitude with technology as he is able to fix one of the soldier's radios. This turns out to be something that not many Atlanteans are able to do. We discover that they are scavengers, going all over the world trying to find remnants of the Ancient's advanced technology. It's this scavenging that brought them to the ruins outside of Westmin and where they encountered Jed. Surprisingly, Jed had a blue holocube as well with a message from the Lord General, and so the soldiers sacrificed most of their group to rescue Jed and get him out of the ruins.
Sarge still insists on the adventurers leaving them be now that they have their friend Jed back, and the group quickly complies. The soldiers give Jed his sword back, and give them all rations to help on their trek. Meme, Gallexsy, Dave, Jed, and Guy all leave on foot and head towards castle Xilo, which can be seen briefly with sheens of gold through the leaves of the swamp.
The group reaches the castle right before sunset. Castle Xilo sits in the middle of a large lake, and when the group arrives they realize how much damage the dragon has done to the castle. It looks like the dragon crashed into the top of the golden structure, and then burrowed its way down through the middle of it. But campfire smoke can be seen coming from inside its walls, even a couple of miles away where the group stands on the shores of the lake. There was once a floating bridge that led to the castle, but that has been scuttled and set ablaze, either by the dragon or the new inhabitants of the castle.
Dave is able to find a row boat that seems sturdy enough, and goads the girls into showing their physical prowess by rowing. The decide that approaching the castle under the cover of night is the best plan, and paddle out across the lake. Meme, Gallexsy, Dave, and even Jed take turns at the oars. About a 100 yards away from the shore of the castle's island, water starts to seep on to the boat and it begins to sink. Cold, wet, and tired, the group drags themselves up on to the dark shore directly in front of Castle Xilo.
16. The End of the Beginning, Part 4
We get a flash back to Atlantean soldiers charging into the ancient ruins near Westmin. While down there, they encounter a badly injured Jed, the Dragonborn! Jed pulls a blue cube from his pocket from passing out. But there's something about this cube that causes the Atlanteans to help him. They drag him away, but not before they encounter a dark and evil creature. An undead creature with fangs smiles at them, and the open fire, knowing that most of them won't be leaving there alive.
Back to the swamp, our adventurers stand with guns pointed at them. Before the six Atlantean soldiers that are left have a chance to open fire, three of them stand up straight, mutter "master," and open fire on the other soldiers! Without a chance to react, the group hears a loud roar behind them. An Aboleth lumbers out of the swamp towards our heroes on its amphibious tentacles. The group realizes this is the same creature they had seen chasing Guy through the strange blue portals outside of Guy's home town. Gallexsy realizes the Aboleth is using its psychic powers to control some of the soldiers.
The group engages in combat with the soldiers dividing their attention between themselves and the attacking beast. Gallexsy tries out the spell Fireball for the first time! Meme uses Conjure Animals for the first time, and decides an Allosaurus dinosaur is the best animal to conjure. Dave uses his newly enhanced lightening mace on the Aboleth and contracts a disease that forces him to only breath water for the next couple of hours.
Once the Aboleth is vanquished, the soldiers being mind controlled come back to their senses. But only three of the six soldiers are left standing. Dave drops to his knees unable to breath the air. Gallexsy prods Dave to a nearby pool of water that he can climb into and catch his breath, so to speak, in the water. The girls work with the soldiers to bring their recently departed over to the pool of water that Dave is in, and he's able to bring two of them back to life using the spell Revivify. But Dave is not strong enough to bring back the last soldier.
The soldiers, obviously having a hard day. Ask the group to leave them alone. Dave implores them to let him use his magic to heal them further. They relent and allow Dave to do so, but not before telling them that the Atlanteans want him to heal someone else and take this person with them. The soldiers don't want anything else to do with the people of this world.
Meme goes with the soldiers back to their camp while Gallexsy and a couple of soldiers stay with Dave as he recovers from his water breathing disease. At the soldiers' camp, Meme discovers that they have a jet airplane (although she doesn't know what it is). On the plane is where the soldiers have been camping, but also on there is a barely breathing Jed! The last time the group saw him is when he sacrificed himself battling three vampires to let Gallexsy, Meme, and Dave escape.
15. The End of the Beginning, Part 3
The fish people cheer for our three heroes for some unknown reason, and then lead them into the underground city of the fish people. Not wanting to upset the 50 armed Kao-Toa, the gang goes along with them, even as the large stone doors shut behind them and seal them into this very secure little town. The fish person with Guy’s pot helmet leads the group through town to a hut and inside is the portly fisherman, Guy! He is very happy to see them as it means he is being rescued.
Guy explains that he was captured by these fish people while he was exploring the ruins of the ancients. They took his stuff and put it in another hut in the town. They’ve allowed him to move around in the town freely, but he hasn’t been able to get his stuff back or to leave the town. The only time he’s seen the doors open is when he was brought in, and when Meme, Gallexsy, and Dave were brought in.
The group does some investigating from a far around the doors and see that they are guarded at all times. They venture to the hut that has Guy’s things, and discover a hut filled with gold, some magical items, and quite a bit of junk. But Guy’s things are there, but everything in the hut appears to be protected by some sort of water creature. The creature is very similar to the sparring creature at Mount Olympus that the Musketeers use for training.
Dave makes a dash for some of the things, and he manages to grab Guy’s armor and gun. Both items were found by Guy in the Ancients’ ruins. Guy and Dave dash out of the hut before the water creature has a chance to attack them further. Gallexsy quickly follows, but Meme lingers behind not wanting to leave empty handed. She dashes and dives around the water creature’s attacks and manages to grab a gold trimmed and jewel encrusted scroll case before barreling out of the hut. Once outside the group heads back to Guy’s hut where they examine what Meme had found. It turns out to be a prayer scroll that is able to imbue a weapon with divine electrical energy. Dave is familiar with such prayers and tries it out on his own already magical Mace of Mishakal. It works, and his mace now can deliver additional lightning damage! He also realizes that a very similar weapon was used by the fish people’s priest to open the doors.
Armed with his new weapon, Dave leads the group out to one of the doors and hits it with his electrified mace! The doors creak open slowly, and as soon as there is a gap large enough in the opening doors, the four adventurers dash through with the guards looking on with slacked jaws. The run hard for a while to put as much distance between them and the fish people as possible. Eventually they do come out from underground and find an opening to the surface. In the sunshine and trees, the group realizes that they have come out in forests that surround the capital Xeloscient. They are almost to Meme and Gallexsy’s home town, and the location of where the ancient black dragon is supposed to be. They also really that the forest has been changed. It’s now more moss covered, wet, and much more like a swamp then the forest that the girls remember. Gallexsy realizes that the land is changing to match the dragon’s preferred landscape. Angered by this, Meme charges forward into the swamp, towards the capital, determined to make the dragon pay for the damage it has caused. This is interrupted as the adventurers come face-to-face with six armed Atlantean soldiers, and they are about to open fire!
14. The End of the Beginning, Part 2
The three musketeers follow the lone Kao-Toa through the caverns right into a larger group of Kao-Toa! At first they did not seem hostile, until the fish people made gestures towards the group to give up their weapons. Dave, unwilling to give up his holy mace, accidentally trips a Kao-Toa to the ground. A fight breaks out and the group struggles to fend off the group of fish folk that outnumbers them almost two-to-one! But our heroes are triumphant and manage to defeat the Kao-Toa. A few managed to get away at the end of the fight, and Meme determined to not let them get away dashs after them in the dark alone. Gallexsy and Dave stay behind to rest and gather themselves.
Meme pursues the last survivors of the Kao-Toa fight through the dark and into an underwater lake. She transforms herself into a reef shark and does manage to catch them. But the two of them manage to fend her off before they disappeared into the inky black water.
Dripping from head-to-toe, Meme rejoins the others and they have a short rest as they decide what to do next. After a brief reprieve, they decide to follow the Kao-Toa as a group, Gallexsy reluctantly. Dave uses a potion of water breathing that he had found in the treasure stash of Harken the werewolf, Meme changes back into a reef shark, and Gallexsy uses her last spell slot to give herself gills. The gang dives into the water, and come out on the other side to a dry landing with a large stone door on the other side.
Dave approaches and jokingly says “open sesame!” And to his surprise the doors creek open noisily. Even more to his surprise, on the other side of the large stone door is a group of 50 Kao-Toa, all armed with shields and spears.
11. Teeth and Sand, Part 5
The group lands in a farm field outside of the forest that Shadywood is nestled in. As they make their way into the woods, they see the portly fisherman Guy come screaming out of a magic portal, followed closely by a roaring amphibious monster. Seconds later they are both swallowed by another magical portal. The group comments that Guy must have his hands full back in Westmin.
Once entering the forest, they encounter Gerald. Gerald is the old adventuring Halfling that is both an old friend and mentor of Dave's, and the one they need to see on removing the werewolf curse. Gerald leads them the way into town, and Gerald tells them stories about how he used to be an adventurer but gave it all up after his partner Milo was killed by a fire giant.
In town the adventurers are greeted by a number of rambunctious children, and one is a little too curious on Gallexsy's magic wand. Before Gallexsy realizes it has been taken, one of the children accidentally causes an ale wagon to come free of its bindings and it flies down a hill nearly killing the children. Luckily Meme is able to stop it with some entangling vines.
Once they reach Gerald's home in the center of town, he does some research on removing the curse, and the gang has some time to kill as he prepares the ritual. At the local watering hole, called "Roscoe Mom's House" Dave has a run in with an old childhood nemesis, but is able to take the higher road and the rest of the group is able to endear themselves to the bar patrons with some entertaining magic tricks. After killing a couple of hours, the group goes back to Gerald's house to start up the ritual.
Meme and Gallexsy sit in the middle of the ritual with Gerald and the rest of the group standing around, chanting magical incantations. The ritual works for Gallexsy, but Meme's curse seems to be stronger. In the middle of the ritual she turns into a werewolf and escapes into the middle of the night. The gang agrees to prepare and look for her in the morning once there is daylight.
The next morning Meme wakes up entangled in vines and this is where she meets On. On, is a very old druid that had spotted her in the night, and decided to intervene. He was able to sense that she was a druid, and stopped to help. On leaves Meme, wishes her well, and if they are friends when they meet again he believes he has a few things to teach her.
Later that morning, the rest of the group is able to track Meme down from the backs of the flying griffons. Gerald accompanies the Musketeers and takes a guess the reason Meme took off running is because she was being called. She was being called by a master werewolf, and killing this master werewolf will be the only way to cure her of her curse.