I. The River Guard
Having bound the Coven Horror with the aid of The Inquisitors, a group of witchhunters, the party made its way through the Corse Ruins already cleared. Grim Donovan assures the group they won’t encounter any obstacles and also tells them they can have the boat the witchhunters used. The Inquisitors will stay at the ruins until the Coven Horror is securely bound and then head to Crix Outpost.
Once outside the ruins, the party encounter Pras again (the player was able to join us for the evening as well as Asher’s player). The party gets him up to speed as they divvy up the loot they’ve collected. As they do so, John hears a voice in his head sounding suspiciously like The Sparing Ones witch who had him play with the Deck of Many Things. She tells him that although the group didn’t complete the task set for them to earn their boon, they have done a service. In front of John, there appears a wavering image of a scroll case. Reaching out to take hold of it, John discovers two spells–one for a druid and one for a sorcerer.
John reads the scroll for Dimensional Travel and gives the other to Nym to read. Once they have read them, the scrolls turn to ash and the two adventurers realize they’ve acquired new knowledge.
Making their way to the Lazaran River to board the boat The Inquisitors had left and continue on to Bas Eldritch, the party suddenly encounter strange forms in the forest.
Three virtually invisible humanoid forms surround the party. They each push pass all the other members of the group to attack Nym reaching out and attempting to wrest the pendant with the inscription to Barabad from her. The group fights off the Invisible Stalkers after a protracted battle and decide to make camp for the night on the shore next to the boat. Overnight as the watch changes, Pras encounters a Giant Constrictor Snake. With John’s help and then later Nym and Asher’s (each of whom awoke to the disturbance in the middle of the battle although Roben didn’t), the snake is dispatched. The party decides to board the boat and anchor it out into the river for safety.
The next dawn, fully rested, the five journey down the river towards Bas Eldritch. Just after midday, they realize two new ships have appeared behind them. They try to make them out discovering they appear to be wearing the River Guard uniforms like those the bandit thugs had stolen. The two patrol boats quickly close in each sending a warning shot of a flaming arrow to either side of the party’s boat. The group decides to anchor and meet with the River Guard.
One patrol boat passes the party’s boat anchoring ahead of them with the River Guards all training their heavy crossbows on them. The other patrol boat pulls alongside the party’s latching on to it and boarding it with swords and tridents drawn. They demand the party disarm.
Confused by what is clearly an overly aggressive unit, the party begin to ask questions. John announces himself as a priest of Pelor with a letter of introduction from Amoros Twinge to the bishop Nazos Farseer. Coming from behind his men, a lieutenant plucks the letter from John’s hand, breaks the seal, and begins to read. John and Asher protest. One of the guards kicks Asher to the deck while at the same time the lieutenant produces a small vial of clear liquid from his inside pocket smashing it on the deck of the party’s boat. A sudden cloud emerges surrounding the boat but dissipates almost immediately. The lieutenant instructs his guards to shackle and gag the group.
Suffering abuse from the River Guard and receiving no explanation, the party decides to try to engage. However they immediately discover their spells and magical abilities have been nullified. The party is put in chains and escorted down river.
II. First Town & the Bas Eldritch Stockade
Furious but bound and muted, the party arrives at the First Town docks. The village is utter ruins looking as though it was nearly burnt to ground decades ago. However, the party is able to recognize a few faces of villagers from Foxon and Monton in the streets and huddled in the husk of buildings. It’s clear the town is occupied by the refugees from the town the Drow seized as well as by peasants not admitted to Bas Eldritch.
Although they recognize a few random faces, the party see no one they know or who recognizes them. A civilian commander confronts the lieutenant. It’s clear to the party he is reprimanding the lieutenant for his heavy-handed tactics as well as for using the vial of liquid–a fact he seems the most angry about. This commander, Henderson, has the party taken through First Town to a cliff base below the city of Bas Eldritch.
The group is placed into a cell alongside a human who looks like a gladiator, a white tiger looking tabaxi, and a half-dragon. The human and tabaxi are manacled but the half-dragon is shackled to the wall with a metal mask over its mouth and eyes. The group waits in silence until Henderson returns taking them each one at a time to an interrogation room. Each party member is questioned by a human looking male dressed in exquisite Pelorian robes.
As the first to be questioned, John discovers that the letter from Twinge was not an introduction at all. Instead, it placed the blame for the attack on the town of Monton and Foxon on the party and asserting they were working with the Drow. John is shocked at Twinge’s deception. The interrogator also gives John the impression of hardly being a true believer. When Pras is questioned, he reveals he was hired as a spy by the Guild Master Amalyn Duskroam. He insists he ought to be freed so he can complete his contract. The interrogator only says he’ll need to confirm Pras’s identity.
After each party member is interrogated, the group waits in silence for another day in the cell. When Henderson returns he is accompanied by three Pelorian novices. He informs them that Bishop Farseer has sentenced them to trial by combat in the arena the next day. They will fight as a group against other offenders looking to prove their freedom. As the novices leave, one hangs back briefly. He whispers to Asher that they’ll be fighting unarmed in an arena covered by an Antimagic Field but there are those who will help them. Although covered by his novices hood, Asher is able to tell that this novice is not a real member of the Pelorian monastery but a fellow adventurer.
The party sit through the night. Nym and John both are still bound and gagged while Pras, Asher, and Roben are only shackled. In the darkness, Nym is able to spy a pair of eyes looking at her from the opposite side of a sewer grate in their cell. It is a very small child, maybe 7 or 8 years old and its difficult to tell its gender. She gets the attention of Asher who startles the child at first but then discovers the kid is looking to help them. The child says he can get the group its equipment and instructs them to stay close to the cat-man in the arena, but before Asher can ask for more details, he vanishes.
As the night drags on, the party await their fate in the arena in Bas Eldritch…