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Recap 85 Supplemental: Unjust Deserts

June 30, 2018


Absolutely Abominable

After returning the Thri-kreen eggs, The Harper of the North says goodbye to his ice troll minions. Their eyes now have a knowing look in them, having been taught something by The Harper. Returning to Lung Wang, the Turtle of Large Proportions, the Motley Too are carried to the surface. They find themselves on the snow-capped peaks of the Rusty Mountains.

Before leaving, Lung Wang gifts Wileu with a gold-inlay tea set so that she won't have to perform future tea ceremonies in helmets. He reminds them that he expects his dragon egg in one year and then flies off.

As the group rests for the night in an abandoned giant's village, they consult their map and are surprised to discover a large swath of greenery marked in the desert that was not there before. Casting worried glances at each other, they begin to suspect their recent jaunt into the past has altered the present. Should they not have tried to free the gold dragon? Should they not have interfered in the fight against the Starspawn? What else might they have changed?

That night, on Delphine's watch, she hears a scrabbling noise in the pantry and goes to investigate. She discovers a giant, albino rat. Slowing it with a spell, she steps forward to hit it with her staff and instead trips on her robes. And then slips and hits herself in the face with her staff. After several more such attempts, she finally manages to kill the large rodent.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully, but those on watch notice their companions are sleeping fitfully, as if their dreams are disturbing them.

Traveling south, the Motley Too is sure they hear animal-like howls following them, but they never see anything. That night, as Sir Gyles creates an illusory ogre to guard their camp, they are attacked by five white, ape-like creatures.

Sir Gyles and Wileu kill two of them. Moving to attack a third yeti, Wileu is caught in its gaze. Looking into the sad, intelligent eyes, the elf ranger is suddenly filled wth such a feeling of sadness and despair that she is paralyzed. An attempt to paralyze The Harper the same way is made, but the cleric is completely unaffected by these emotions.

Sensing these creatures are intelligent and might not be attacking out of malice, the party switches tactics and begins to fight to defend rather than to kill. The three remaining yetis disengage and disappear into the snowy night.

The next day, as the Motley Too approaches the snowline, they find a pile of melons left as if in offering. A yeti makes itself visible to the group. Adarra enthusiastically thanks it, making overtures of friendship.

Using empathy, the yeti is able to communicate to the druid that a group of humans had come through a few days earlier and poisoned the yeti's leader with a snake bite. The description sounds like Sri Boa's Revenge Squad. Already distrustful of humans because of the Revenge Squad, when the yetis saw the ogre Sir Gyles conjured, they assumed the Motley Too were also enemies.

Adarra heals the yeti leader, thus solidifying the group's friendship with another set of unusual allies.


Riddle Me This!

By the time they make it out of the mountains and enter the desert, another day has passed and it is now evening. Before they get very far, a sphinx lands in front of the group.

He makes them an offer: he will tell them a riddle. If they can solve it, he will give them a boon. If they cannot, he will eat them.

Narasimha: What is jagged in the morning, smooth in the afternoon, and smooth at night?

Adarra: A MOUNTAIN!

Narasimha: (surprised) You are the first to guess correctly. Many have complained that the riddle is unfair and does not make sense.

Adarra: Yeah, but we know Alana! We're friends with the Motley Crew.

Discovering that they know the Motley Crew, Narasimha generously offers to carry them close to "the Green", also known as Jabok. The boon Adarra chooses is a pattern that can be whistled. Narasimha will come to their aid if they use this to call him.

As they travel, the group asks him if there was ever a Lich King that ruled the desert. Narasimha has never heard of this Lich King. More confirmation that the present is not the present.


Into The Green

Once they enter Jabok, it doesn't take long before warriors appear to question them and escort them to the city of al-Laquant. A massive ziggurat seems to be the city. As they walk through the city, going up the ziggurat's many levels, it's evident to the party that the residents of al-Laquant are afraid of something. The warriors escort them to rooms where the Motley Too are expected to stay until they receive an audience with a city official named Kamal.

Sir Gyles is treated by the city folk with respect, and perhaps a little fear. Gyles is uneasy, noting to his companions that the design of the city and people's attire look just like what he learned in his history books. None of it should exist now.

He decides to go to the library to do some research. He discovers two things.

  1. Their appearance in the past has been written into the mythology. It's thought that Osiris, angry at his priests for using the gold dragon as part of the ritual, summoned warriors to kill them and defeat the Starspawn. The boy on the throne was drugged and taken to Nizwah where he still sleeps. His power is what keeps Jabok green.
  2. Someone besides the Motley Too seems to be researching this. An older woman named Katherine has been in the library looking up similar things.

Meanwhile, Delphine, Jandove, Wileu, and Kurtis head to a bar and try to make contact with merchants who have magickal jewels for sale. Kurtis later performs in a tavern and befriends a bard named Barir, who teaches him the local musical style. He says that most music is joyous, celebrating a better world. But traditionally a countermelody is played in a minor key. Barir says he was taught that the main melody represents what is real, but the countermelody represents what is true.

The Harper meditates in the room while Adarra walks to a lower level of the ziggurat and attempts to commune with nature. Ever since she's been in Jabok, she has felt that something is wrong and the natural order has been disturbed.

Adarra is able to determine that while the vegetation is real, it is maintained by artificial means. She also senses the presence of a giant worm below the city that is kept asleep by the same magic making Jabok a verdant paradise.


Out of the Green

The next day, the Motley Too is finally brought to see Kamal. They tell him they are in al-Laquant to investigate rumors of kobolds kidnapped from the north and brought into the desert as slaves. Kamal starts to sweat, glancing nervously at the official seated next to him. Kamal refuses to look into their claims and has them sent back to their quarters.

Later, the boy who brings them food also brings a message from Kamal. Laktos the Intolerant has taken over the dam in Qasr. Kamal was going to send an expedition to retake the dam, but two days ago, strangers showed up and had an audience with his superiors. The next thing Kamal knows, his superiors are telling him to ignore Qasr.

The strangers sound like the Revenge Squad. They left al-Laquant and headed east to Banha. Kamal's superiors have declared that the Motley Too are only allowed to leave via the northern exit. If they attempt to head south, they are to be detained.

So the group makes plans to leave the city via the north gate and turn east only after they are out of sight of the city. As they do not have a Mirror of Thought, they will have to hire a caravan in order to travel through the desert.

After they are away from the city and begin heading towards Banha, a group of man-scorpions and Tusken Raiders appear seemingly out of nowhere. They possess an air of confidence as if they expect the party to drop their belongings and run away. In fact, the caravan drivers are ready to do just that.

However,

Sir Gyles: The fight will not be as easy as you think. You should surrender now.

The raiders don't take the paladin's warning seriously and move to attack. The fight doesn't last very long. Most of the Tusken Raiders flee. Searching the body of a Tusken Raider, Jandove finds a vial of goo that looks suspiciously like the same black liquid the Atlanteans used to make Vain.


When Man Becomes Myth

When they finally reach Banha, they are greeted by the stench of the Great Spoilage. To their surprise, they find Lady Katherine, the woman Sir Gyles heard about in the library. She introduces herself as a historian and an amateur archaeologist from Nyngard.

She was very surprised when she arrived in the desert and found the large green space. All the Nyngardian histories describe the area as a vast desert. She's also found it very odd that nobody here has even heard of the Oblivion War when the war originated in the desert. How can that be?

But her particular interest in Banha is the tomb of Gilez-Hotep, and she's hired a group of mercenaries to aid her. Lady Katherine is interested in Gilez-Hotep because she has read that he came from Nyngard.

Sir Gyles looks a little green as the rest of the group turns, slack-jawed, to stare at him.


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Tags: Adarra, Delphine, Jandove, Kurtis, Lady Katherine, Lung Wang, Narasimha the Sphinx, Sir Gyles, Tala, The Harper of the North, Wileu


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