The Hangman's Body Count

You cant choose your family...

Sessions #88-91

When we last left our friends, they had uncovered what appear to be the private chambers of some Moonwater person. It also appears as if they had uncovered some sort of shadowy puddle that eats fingers. With an unknown amount of this complex left to explore, what will the heroes do?

GM: Did you want to do anything else in this room?
Fallow looks at Susan knowingly
Susan: Fallow believes we should move along. Plenty more opportunities to get ourselves killed.
Susan: If it becomes important, we can pick it up on the way out.
Fallow shrugs
Susan nods to fallow.
Pyros: Or maybe it will become the way out at some point…
Fallow shudders, feeling that such an option would not be a happy place
Susan: Pyros, let me tell you. I always have a way out.
Susan: Just depends which of you i decide to take with me.
Susan grins.
Heading back out into the smooth tunnel, you continue to follow along as it leads further downward into the earth, while winding back on itself a few times, but with no further branching or side tunnels. Three hundred feet of tunnel passes before you come to an abrupt corner, where the tunnel suddenly opens into a small room with a small black stone statue standing in its center.
Pyros: Can you take us others along, Susan, if not I’ll still worry.
Fallow looks at Xila surrupticiously
Xiliana Moonwater looks at Fallow
Xiliana Moonwater: Yes?
Fallow quirks an eyebrow, wondering just how into themselves Xila’s family line is
Pyros nods to Susan in understanding.
Its similar. A formless, faceless femine statue with its arms outstretched, though instead of holding an orb, its arms are stretched to the sides, in a weird almost embrace?
Yes, the powder is still present in the tunnels, though it appears to taper off as you enter this chamber.
Xiliana Moonwater walks towards the statue.
Quinn Winterborn: Careful with the Shar memoria, Xila
Two narrow staircases lead to stone doors.
Xiliana Moonwater looks back at the others, then without waiting for anything, heads towads the southern room
Fallow sighs as she steps into the room, thinking Xila is one day going to get us all killed, but probably not her lucky self
Xiliana Moonwater examins the table/altar/thing
Fallow looks down the right stairway
You find nothing is trapped as you wander forward. This large table is made of stone and is of perfect height for someone of short stature. It is made of dark stone and at the same time is stained near black from what was likely blood. There are grooves that lead down into the floor, where four recesses are present.
The halls ends in stone doors.
One of the recesses contains a ceramic container of some kind.
Xiliana Moonwater picks up the container without hesitation.
You have a small black-stained ceramic jug that can hold is about the size of a milk container.
Xiliana Moonwater: Oooh, a jug… That can hold stuff I guess?
Theres nothing in the jug at the moment.
Xiliana Moonwater: Empty
It contains Xila’s sense of decency.
Otherwise, there are a few odds and ends in the room, but nothing else that is notable.
Quinn Winterborn creeps cautiously into the rooom, keeping his distance from Shar
Xiliana Moonwater places the jar in her pack.
Xiliana Moonwater: Welp, nothing left here
Both sets head downward.
Xiliana Moonwater: I guess if there’s anything we need to bottle up, I now have a jar!
From Susan’s perspective, the tunnel continues onward as it had before…
Susan: Lets check out the stairs first. Don’t want to be taken from behind.
Xiliana Moonwater: So, which way?
Xiliana Moonwater: Hey, nothing wrong with being taken from behind.
The stairs head downward about 25’ and end in a pitted stone door.
Xiliana Moonwater: More fun that way!
Susan: I meant in a murder kind of way!
Xiliana Moonwater: So did I
Xiliana Moonwater: What was you thinking of?
Pyros: How do I get THAT picture out of my head now…
Quinn Winterborn: Get a room, you two
Fallow taps River
The door doesnt even budge as River strains, making unbecoming grunting noises…
Fallow > River: Move sister
Xiliana Moonwater: Come on River! You can do it!
The stubborn girl heaves once more, lifting the door about five inches before it slams back down.
Fallow seems impressed by the girls effort
Xiliana Moonwater: Or not
Xiliana Moonwater heads over to the door and tries herself.
Fallow steps up to help
Susan: … Okay, at this point you’re all embarrasing yourselves. Will you let me
Xiliana Moonwater: No!
Susan rubs forehead.
Both the lithe fey knight and the halfling heave and manage to get the door open as far as River did, but it does not lift higher.
Xiliana Moonwater: One… More try….
THUD
Fallow steps asside for Susan
Xiliana Moonwater: Huh… There could be a trick to this door.
Quinn Winterborn: Xila, why don’t you have the key to this place?
Xiliana Moonwater examins the door
I imagine Quinn just standing back with his arms crossed, a smirk on this face.
Xiliana Moonwater: That’s a very good question.
Fallow grins as Susan struggles with the door as well
Pyros: Maybe we need to turn the statue around? Right now it’s facing to the open door, maybe if turned that will close THAT door and open this one?
Xiliana Moonwater: Doors stuck somehow.
Xiliana Moonwater: But doesn’t seem to be different from the other doors in this place.
The statue does appear not be connected to the ground.
Xiliana Moonwater as river swivles the statue, xila attempts to open it again.
Quinn moves past as River begins inspecting the statue, and squatting into a Chessentian farmers squat, he lifts the door upright, the grind and squeal of the door annoucing to likely everyone that someone is present here. The door moves upright about four feet before the gearing snaps and the door grinds to a halt.
Xiliana Moonwater ducks under the door and enters the room.
The statue does move, and as you swing it to face west, you can hear the grinding of stone on metal.
Inside the room is dusty and only partially finished. There is a small dias and some unfinished statue on the northern wall, two doors (one north, one south) are present near the end of the room, though shards of stone are present on the ground here. There also appears to be some kind of ‘pit’ that is semi-covered at the far side of the room.
Xiliana Moonwater: Huh, I think once we’re out, I’m going to have some work done to these tunnels. I think there needs to be some statues of me here.
Susan nods to fallow.
Xiliana Moonwater: I mean, these are moonwater tunnels, so they’re mine.
Xiliana Moonwater: So, north or south?
Fallow listens at the door, keeping an eye on the hole to the west
The doors are similar to the ones youve seen throughout the complex, but there are stone pieces missing from all around the doorframe.
Fallow → Susan: Open yours sister?
Susan opens her door.
Susan leans down and heaves the door upward. As she does so, the southern door also opens, revealing both rooms at once. Inside both rooms are similar stone coffins that have been smashed to pieces, and four creatures wrapped in linen and gold brocade. Each move quickly and strike at Susan and Fallow.!
Susan: I do love when they come to me.
River: Moro?
Quinn Winterborn Quinn’s scars briefly light up as he throws a bolt of bluish purple arcane flames across the room
The mummy swings its sword at Susan, who ducks out of the way, before it murmurs a smattering of horrible sounding syllables her way.
The mummy shambles forward and swings at Susan, who parries its blade with her shield, sending the blade flying across the room.
Susan grins wickedly.
Pyros: Maybe Fallow is trying to be quiet though.
Fallow grins over her shoulder at Pyros, chalking one up in the air to him
Susan: Trust me, Fallow is never quiet.
Pyros: Trust me, she is.
Fallow seems to be laughing as she dances
The mummy falls before Fallow’s nimble hammer dance.
And the other follows suit…
The mummy falls the bits of flaming ash and bone as Moro and Susan team up against it.
Fallow grins at Moro’s slavering form over the prone Mummies bodies
Xiliana Moonwater: You shall die by my hand… The stone commands it.
Xiliana Moonwater begins with a low slash
Another mummy bursts into flames and ash
Xiliana Moonwater wrings her hands together for some unknown reason
Pyros: There you have it!
Fallow glares at Pyros for taking her fun away
Fallow picks up the standard and stows it
Pyros looks at Fallow as if to say ‘this is not fun, but life and death’
Fallow shakes her head as she walks past Pyros – obviously he does not know what “fun” is
The mummies crumble to dust under the onslaught of the group, and fall in a barrage of fire and hammer blows.
Susan: Fallow says to do your thing, Xila?
Xiliana Moonwater: There had better be stuff in these rooms…
Xiliana Moonwater investigates the northern room.
You peer through the broken stone coffin and poke around a bit, you dont find anything interesting.
Fallow points to the southern chamber
Xiliana Moonwater: So… that was for nothing. Good to know.
Quinn Winterborn: This is…in the city. Those were…dangerous…
Susan: Not nothing. Imagine if we had been forced to escape in this direction in an emergency, and ended up trapped, weakened, with these creatures.
Xiliana Moonwater: Well, I guess I’d have to remove them from my tunnel at some point…
Xiliana Moonwater: Right, lets continue!
Quinn Winterborn: This place needs a boatload of clerics to come and purge it out. Can’t have undead in a major city like this
Xiliana Moonwater not waiting for the others, Xila foolishly swivles the statue to face the eastern door, hoping it opens it.
The statue swivels around and you hear the grinding of stone upon stone as the eastern door slowly grinds open.
Susan follows.
Xiliana Moonwater enters the newly opened door.
This room is covered in a layer of stone dust and cobwebs. The stone lintels and shelves are broken in numerous places.
Xiliana Moonwater heads towards the double doors and tries to open them.
Quinn Winterborn looks on with great interest
Fallow helps out
Moro lies down and watches with disinterest.
Quinn Winterborn smirks
Quinn Winterborn winks at Moro
Fallow groans in pain from the pulled muscle in her calf
Pyros suddenly looks nervous.
Pyros: I have a bad feeling…
The door shifts, but you hear the grind of stone and metal as you did before and the door does not move.
Xiliana Moonwater: Dang..
Xiliana Moonwater: Well, round two.
Susan: Let me help. Fallow, take a breath.
Xiliana Moonwater readies herself to try again.
As the women go to heave on the door once more, River walks back out to move the statue. As she does so, the door directly in front of Quinn slams shut, and the door on the inside of the room opens wide.
Xiliana Moonwater: We did it!
Xiliana Moonwater notices the other door slammed shut.
Xiliana Moonwater: Oh….
A single coffin stands in this room with small podiums standing around it, each holding some small dish or trinket.
Xiliana Moonwater walks inside the room.
Xiliana Moonwater investigates the room
Two doors are present in here as well, exiting to the left and right
Xiliana Moonwater: Don’t open them, we need the others.
Xiliana Moonwater heads to the slammed door and attempts to force it open to jam it like the other one.
Xiliana Moonwater shouts for Quinn to help.
saying.
Fallow glances at Susan quickly?
Susan looks around slowly.
Fallow looks around cautiously
Quinn Winterborn: That wasn’t what we wanted, River.
Pyros enters.
As you move the statue back, the inner door slams shut and the outer door near Quinn opens again. There doesnt appear to be a happy ‘half way’ point
Xiliana Moonwater: Hi!
Xiliana Moonwater: We need to jam this door open it
Quinn Winterborn: IOh, hi Xila
Quinn Winterborn: Maybe we’re forced to split up?
Pyros (whispers): I feel it too, it feels familiar and not good.
As the double doors slam down, as Pyros ducks inside, the two side crypt doors open, revealing two more stone coffins on diases.
There is a small chest in the eastern room, while a smashed vase in the western room shows a smattering of dust covered coins.
Xiliana Moonwater: Hey River, turn the statue back
Xiliana Moonwater: We need to get everyone together.
Pyros (whispers): I can mage hand get that, if you’d like, ut I have a bad feeling here.
Susan: Better to spring a trap from afar?
Fallow nods sagely
River: Hm… there should be a better way of coordinating this.
Pyros (whispers): Let’s see if that is too heavy…
Xiliana Moonwater: Close this door, and me and Quinn force it open?
Xiliana Moonwater: That way both doors can be open at the same time
Pyros tries to get the chest with Mage Hand.
You look up to see a stone ceiling.
Susan: I can get out in an emergency. Let me step inside and try.
You use mage hand to scoop up a handful of dusty coins.
Xiliana Moonwater heads to the double doors again and tries to force them open
Susan nudges the chest with her sword.
The statue moves once more, and the eastern and western doors slam, the northern door opening once more.
Susan: Wait

Xila sees Pyros and Fallow…
Xiliana Moonwater heads in as soon as it’s open
Xiliana Moonwater: What’cha doing?
Xiliana Moonwater: Where’s Susan?
Pyros: The doors here opened and closed again soon after.
Susan sighs loudly, and continues to poke the room carefully.
Pyros: There seems to be gold in that room and a chest in this room.
As the door slams, Susan whirls to see the door slam down, as she looks around to see a spectral figure emerge from the coffin…
Pyros points to the according rooms.
Susan: … You are all the worst
The halfling ghost opens its mouth impossibly wide and lets loose a spray of dark ectoplasm that covers Susan and locks her in place.
Fallow spits in her gauntleted hands, bends, and tries to put everything into lifting the dam door so she can get to her sister
Fallow grunts, groans, and then pants helplessly
Pyros: Okay, do we have anything to jam the doors open?
Fallow shrugs helplessly
Pyros looks around for something useful.
Pyros (speaks into the sending stone): Master Winterborn, are you there?
Quinn Winterborn: Hello?
Pyros: Yes, here are more doors that open and close all the time, are you still turning the statue?
Xiliana Moonwater shouts loudly hopiung Quinn can hear through the stone
Xiliana Moonwater: GET THE DOOR OPEN
Susan: It’s all these unopened doors.
Xiliana Moonwater looks at the stone floating around her head.
Quinn Winterborn: River, turn it back, now!
Quinn Winterborn: They’re in trouble
Xiliana Moonwater: Now, I could do that… but that’d mean killing a friend, and I’m just not going to do that.
Pyros: Keep turning it every now and again, so we can move forward, explore and come back, please!
Xiliana Moonwater gasps
Xiliana Moonwater: They said what now?
Xiliana Moonwater: Ok, it’s stab time
Quinn Winterborn: (To Pyros, won’t you be crushed?)
As you look around, a spectral halfling leans out of the stone coffin before you… and screams.
Pyros: Only if you turn it very fast, if you turn it say… every 3 seconds we should be fine!
Xiliana Moonwater: And now we have ghosts to deal with… Great.
Quinn hears a massive shriek over the sending stone…
Xiliana Moonwater: Hopefully there’s none in the room Susan’s trapped in
Xiliana Moonwater: That’d be horrible.
Pyros: Also here are ghosts of some sort, but i guess turning the statue so we can help each other out is the best you can do!
Quinn Winterborn relays Pyros request to River
The northern door slams shut, while the doors to the east and west open once more.
Quinn Winterborn: River, want me to do that while you go help them? I’m not much of a healer
Susan: You suck!
Xiliana Moonwater looks over at Susan
Susan is covered in black goo and appears to be frozen mid movement.
Xiliana Moonwater: Susan, you alright in there? Or want me to teleport you out?
Xiliana Moonwater motions to the ring on her finger
Susan: There’s a ghost in here!
Pyros: In here as well.
Susan: …Then dealers choice!
Xiliana Moonwater thinks a moment, and then looks at the stone, then nods.
Xiliana Moonwater: Stone tells me to kill things
Susan: I assume we’re going to have to kill these ghosts? Or are we happy to run away from these weirdly malevolent ghosts?
Xiliana Moonwater starts off by throwing her dagger at the ghost infront of her.
Xiliana Moonwater follows up her snap shot with a dagger aimed at the ghosts eye
Susan: No offence, Xila, but your ancestors are terrible people.
Susan: Or ghosts.
The ghost pops back into existance from Susan’s banishment.
Xiliana Moonwater: Nah, they’re not that bad.
As Quinn and River have their attention focused on the doors, a spectral halfling emerges from the wall.
Pyros: Usually ghosts linger if the person who died either can’t move on, or won’t for some unfinished business.
It blasts River with a inky black goo and then turns to Quinn with a malicious glare.
Quinn Winterborn: OH, hello
You pull a muscle in your back trying to lift the door.
Xiliana Moonwater watches as the door opens to reveal Gasp another ghost!
The doors slam open and shut.
Xiliana Moonwater: Oh, hi there.
Xiliana Moonwater: Need a dagger?
Xiliana Moonwater: You’re going down Ghost!
Xiliana Moonwater: …Again

Last time on HBCGHOSTS! THe heroes continued to explore the Moonwater crypt, digging deeper into the unfolding mystery of who exactly is alive and dead in Xila’s family and why there are so many things do here. Finding another strange statue, the heroes found that it was attached to the door opening mechanisms and effectivvely leapfrogged their way into another crypt before being attacked by GHOSTS!!!
Quinn Winterborn ducks
The ghost howls in ‘pain’ as Moro tears through the halflings form.
The ghost ‘stands’ up
And unleashes a blast of dark goo
Pyros: Could you step back a bit?
Pyros: It would make targeting with my fire easier!
Xiliana Moonwater takes a deep breath and then springs backwards, the inky goo coming off as she does so.
Fallow hammers the ghost down for good!
Fallow peers into the room the ghost came out of for other targets, then to the left as well
As the ghost shrieks, Fallow lands a nasty hammer blow that splits the ghost into nothingness.
Susan walks up and checks the chest to see if it is locked?
Xiliana Moonwater rushes towards the chest as soon as she’s able to.
Xiliana Moonwater: Now the ghosts are dealt with, I can open this chest
Fallow breathes heavily, trying to gain her wind back
Susan: Well I’m glad to be helpful in some regard.
Pyros: For a moment, i thought she was goin to rip off her top.
Lock clicks, seems to be unlocked now
Xiliana Moonwater opens the chest, not bothering to look for traps
Fallow looks over her shoulder
As Xila opens the chest a cloud of yellow green dust billows into her face causing her to cough and choke.
Xiliana Moonwater coughs
Xiliana Moonwater: Aww, how dull.
Xiliana Moonwater: Just some cloth and a… dead cat I think.
Xiliana Moonwater: And whatever that dust was.
Xiliana Moonwater pokes around the chest.
Xiliana Moonwater: Ah-ha
Xiliana Moonwater: Knew it.
Xiliana Moonwater pulls out some gold coins from behind a false bottom.
Xiliana Moonwater notices there aren’t that many, so doesn’t bother sharing them out.
Xiliana Moonwater turns from the chest and stumbling a little, heads to the other room.
Bits of cloth and broken chests here. You can search if you like.
Xiliana Moonwater searches
You dont find anything of worth here. Some moldy books and tattered cloth… but thats it.
Xiliana Moonwater: Aww, nothing here.
Pyros: Books?
Xiliana Moonwater: Moldy books
Quinn Winterborn: Books?
Pyros: I’d like to have a look.
Xiliana Moonwater leaves Pyros to his books
Xiliana Moonwater: Knock yourself out
Xiliana Moonwater stumbles a little as she returns to the main room, waiting for all the doors to open.
Pyros takes the books with Mage Hand and examines them at a safe distance.
There are three moldy illegible books that have the look of some kind of poetry or maybe prayer books.
Pyros: I’ll keep the books just in case. They are illegible, but that could be repaired with some ritual I know.
Pyros: Thank you, River, you have been most helpful here with the doors.
Xiliana Moonwater coughs
Xiliana Moonwater: Hey River, I think that dust might have done something to me… Anyway you might know what?
Xiliana Moonwater explains the chest and the dust and the coughing
Fallow looks around alertly, sensing something
River: If you insist. But remember to be more cautious in the future.
Xiliana Moonwater: Uh-huh!
River ceases her door opening to look at Xila.
Quinn Winterborn shushes the people around him
Quinn Winterborn: Quieter, susan is trying to scout
Fallow tries to listen more closely to what she caught before
Susan looks expectantly at Fallow.
River: Hmm.
River: Perhaps… Leprosy?
Pyros looks expectantly at Susan and Fallow.
Xiliana Moonwater: What’s that? Sounds fun
River: Sometimes known as ‘Rotting Doom’.
Xiliana Moonwater: That… doesn’t sound fun
River: It’s not.
River: I’m… uncertain which particular one you have.
River: Cemetary Rot, which withers…
River: Or Festering Doom, which mulches…
Xiliana Moonwater: Ah well! Not to worry. I’ll get better, I always do. And If I don’t, well oh well.
Xiliana Moonwater: I’ll just have to stab as many people I can until then!
River: If you don’t… you’ll be either a zombie or an ooze. Both mindless and otherwise un-Xila-like.
Fallow shakes her head negatively
Susan shrugs to Fallow
Xiliana Moonwater: Oh, well if I turn into a zombie or an ooze, then you have my permission to kill me.
Xiliana Moonwater: Just, y’know, don’t before
Xiliana Moonwater: I quite enjoy living
River: I-I can do what I can to t-try to stave off the worst effects, but it will t-take time.
River: Meanwhile… we must p-press on.
Quinn Winterborn: How’s that voice in your head, Xila?
Xiliana Moonwater: Telling me to kill you.
Quinn Winterborn: I figured.
Susan hearing River, steps into the next room
Xiliana Moonwater: Apparently if I kill you first, you wont be able to kill me when I turn into a Zombie or ooze, go figure.
Quinn Winterborn: It’ll have you valuing killing over treasure if you’re not careful
Xiliana Moonwater: That will never happen
Xiliana Moonwater: I like them both equally.
Quinn Winterborn nods solemnly
The room narrows back into an earthen tunnel that is butressed by stone columns at every twenty feet. Unlike the rest of this complex thus far, there are no more torches or were-lights that spring to life as you nose into the tunnel.
Susan lights one of her sunrods.
Xiliana Moonwater notices that lights don’t come on anymore, but before Susan lights her sunrod, Xila notices something.
Xiliana Moonwater: Huh… How odd, I can see in the dark better then I could before.
The sunrod flares to life, but it seems to light much less of the hall than other before it. You wonder if perhaps these have gone bad somehow.
Susan frowns at the sunrod.
As Pyros casts his spell, it also seems to be much dimmer than before.
Xiliana Moonwater: Oooh, I like this! No more pesky light to stop me sneaking around.
Xiliana Moonwater: Wonder why your lights are so dim though
River: Aside f-from not being able to see where you’re h-heading…
River: Either way, this is f-foreboding.
Susan mutters a quiet prayer under her breath and then pushes on.
Pyros casts light on Susan and himself.
Fallow makes the sign of the moon goddess and follows
Susan: My thanks, Pyros.
Pyros: You are welcome, Miss Helen.
River grips her spear tightly, prepared for something ahead.
You continue to push down the tunnel, which winds around quite a bit before finally ending abruptly at a pair of large stone double doors.
These large stone doors stand twenty feet tall and are made of a dark black stone that you havent seen yet in this place. A glossy black circle is present about ten feet up.
Fallow looks carefully at the circle
River stands still, trying to pick up anything in the quiet echoing tunnels.
Susan rubs her forehead.
It is the symbol of Shar on the door.
Susan: okay i get the message.
Fallow shudders
Susan looks up.
Xiliana Moonwater: Shar again huh, you must be loving this Mr voice in my head.
Xiliana Moonwater attempts to open the doors
Susan tries to push them open dramatically.
The doors pull open, revealing a dimly lit large room. As the doors are being opened, a massive iton portcullis slams down from above!
Susan: Son of a-
Xiliana Moonwater: Someone really doesn’t want us in this room.
Xiliana Moonwater tries to see if she can see anything inside through the portcullis.
Xiliana Moonwater: I’m very confused right now
The thick barred iron gate slams down just inside of the room, blocking your entrance, but allowing you to see into it. Here in the room there are six massive crypts and three large altars of some kind. Standing inside of the room and now looking right at you stands Zenwrick Moonwater, and another halfling man. A few undead loiter between you and them.
Xiliana Moonwater: Wha…
Xiliana Moonwater: Father?
Xiliana Moonwater: But, I saw you… you were dead.
Xiliana Moonwater looks at the other halfling
Xiliana Moonwater: Quinos?
Zenwrick Moonwater: This is… unexpected.
Xiliana Moonwater: You’re telling me
The other halfling completely ignores you and continue to pour one container of powder into another.
Xiliana Moonwater: Hey, Brother! Don’t ignore your big sister.
Xiliana Moonwater tries to open the portcullis gate infront of her.
Zenwrick Moonwater: We dont really have time for pleasantries right now. Go back into whatever hole you crawled out of and die there, waif.
Xiliana Moonwater: Yup, you’re definitely my Father alright.
The gate hisses and moves up slightly under Xila’s effort, but the added heave from Fallow gets the gate to push up enough for the others to slip by if they like.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Fine… must everything with you be a pain? Why couldnt you just stay dead or drunk or knocked up or whatever you were?
Quinn Winterborn: Xila, are you a mommy?
Xiliana Moonwater: No!… Why do you want me to be? Wait, not the time.
Zenwrick Moonwater waves a hand and the entire crypt floor shudders and skeletal hands claw their way up through the stone and begin grasping what whatever is close by.
The entire crypt is considered difficult terrain.
Xiliana Moonwater: That’s a new trick… Never saw you do that when I was a kid.
Zenwrick Moonwater: You never paid attention.
Xiliana Moonwater looks to Fallow who’s helping keep the door open, then glances at the others… Then, lets go and slips inside.
The portcullis slams to the ground.
Xiliana Moonwater: You never paid any attention to me either!
Zenwrick Moonwater: You never showed anything that would garner my attention, whelp. You still dont.
The skeletal hands grasp at you, attempting to hold you in place.
Xiliana Moonwater creeps closer to her father, fighting off the skeletal hands.
Xiliana Moonwater: You can’t stop me that easily Father, you should know that. I’m a Moonwater.
Zenwrick Moonwater: You are nothing… neither is that pathetic name. Ive grown beyond that now.
Xiliana Moonwater: Why? What happened! .. Infact, how are you alive? I saw your dead corpse just a short while ago… Tell me Father, why?
Quinn Winterborn: Pyros, be careful. There’s some kind of an arcane null zone in that room
Quinn steps forward and heaves the gate upwards, getting it to open about five feet.
Xiliana Moonwater turns around and notices Quinn raising the gate
Xiliana Moonwater: Stay out of this!
Xiliana Moonwater: This is between me and my Father
Quinn Winterborn: The HELL I will. He stole the Spirit Soaring!
Xiliana Moonwater: I don’t care! He’s my Father!
Susan: After all they’ve done to you, you still care for them?
Xiliana Moonwater nods
Xiliana Moonwater turns back to her family.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Its not that I care for you Xiliana – you see, Ive got other things on my mind at the moment. But if you press me, I will make you bow to my whims.
Xiliana Moonwater: Just.. tell me the truth, please. Help me understand!
Quinos continues to pour a white powder into the small metallic cylinders on the altar in front of him.
Pyros stays out of sight and quiet, maybe to gain a bit of surprise later…
Xiliana Moonwater: Quinos, what are you doing?
Fallow looks at Susan worriedly as she tries to hold the portculis up desperately
??: Is everything alright out there?
A voice that sounds like sex on velvet comes from further into the room.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Its fine.Just a nuisance. Continue with the preparations, Askavan.
Xiliana Moonwater: Hey! I’m not a nuisance, I’m your daughter!
A human looking woman with long blonde hair emerges from one of the crypts carrying a heavy looking lead chest, she walks across to the other crypt before handing off the chest.
Fallow releases the portculis when Quinn takes over, then pulls out a flask and drinks from it
Though she looks human, her features are cloyed with shadowstuff.
Fallow shows a snarl as the new creature enters the crypt
Fallow steps forward, fighting off the grasping hands of the floor as best she can to get to….something
The hands grasp at Fallow, trying to slow her down.
Susan: And…. Then
AS you rush forward into the room, doing your best to avoid the skeletal hands, you race past Xila and slam into an invisible barrier that nearly knocks you to the ground.
Xiliana Moonwater: Father… Quinos, please, speak to me.
Zenwrick Moonwater: We have neither the time nor the desire. Leave this place and city, Xiliana – there is nothing for you here. It was better that you had simply left never to be heard of than to have returned. No one here knows you or cares for you.
Xiliana Moonwater: Nothing for me here? There’s everything for me… My Family are here! I thought you all to be dead… But if you’re alive, then you’re here, and that’s reason enough for me to stay.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Why would you think me dead? Clearly I am not.
River mutters under her breath and bolsters her spirit with defensive wards.
Xiliana Moonwater: I told you, I saw your corpse just a short wile ago.
Xiliana Moonwater: And spoke to your spirit, which was trapped in something.
Zenwrick Moonwater looks up, for the first time and stares right at you. “You sound like the idiot girl that left here with idiocy in her mind and neglect of her rightful duty in her heart. You abandoned us then and have been dead since then. You belong in the stone box above.”
Zenwrick Moonwater: If you test me further, I will not hold back – not for your sake, or that of your companions.
Xiliana Moonwater: I… I’m sorry I left Father. But when my Mother died I couldn’t stay! I knew that you hated me… But I ran away, and was taken by the Frost Wolves. After being with them, I had been away so long, I couldn’t return!.. I feared what you would say or do, and now I have returned, and my fears are true… But please Father, all I want is for us to be a Family again!
Zenwrick Moonwater: Odd… thats not the story I got from them. You relished the life and abandoned them to run away with another guild for coin and slaughter. Instead we wasted away without your Mother’s steady head to guide us. After losing the others… well, you were the stone that started this entire avalanche.
Xiliana Moonwater: It’s true… I did leave the Frost Wolves for another. But as I said, I couldn’t return home! I knew there was no place for me at that time…
Quinn Winterborn: River, Pyros, you guys coming?
Pyros: Oh well.
The skeletal hands claw at Pyros’ boots.
Pyros: okay, if we’re going to fight here… I’ll take on my other form.
Xiliana Moonwater: No! We will not fight.
Pyros: Okay, I’ll hold off, Xila, but in the end undead must be put to rest… eventually.
Quinos finishes metting out the powder and then starts capping the containers.
[TURN] Askavan
Xiliana Moonwater: Father.. What is it you are trying to do here?
??
: I cannot hold this portal much longer – my power wanes this far from the Font. Hurry up.
Xiliana Moonwater: Who is that?
Susan: At a guess, the powerful undead that i’ve been telling you about since the theatre.
Fallow snarls silently as she watches the creature dart into the other tomb
The shadowy woman moves back to the crypt she came from and you can hear the scrape of metal on stone.
Zenwrick Moonwater: None of your business. Quinos, take the containers and go with Askavan.
Susan tries to use Sequester on Quinos.
As River moves into the room, Zenwrick looks up with a bit of a confused look on his face.
Xiliana Moonwater: You recognise River?
Xiliana Moonwater: We saved her… It’s what lead us here. I was so shocked to discover my Family had a part in her kidnapping.
Zenwrick Moonwater: She was the reason that wretched woman was poking around here earlier.
River: I-I apologize for our intrusion.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Its fine. If you come closer, I can provide you with the formal hospitality of House Moonwater.
Quinn Winterborn: The hospitality your provided the people of the Spirit Soaring??
Quinn Winterborn scowls
Zenwrick Moonwater jerks a look at Quinn. “What is this, some kind of fools motley? The Spirit Soaring does not concern you, Chessentian.”
Quinn Winterborn laughs a long, laugh, mocking laugh
Xiliana Moonwater: Hey, not cool Dad! You can insult me all you like, but.. don’t insult my friends.
Susan shrugs furiously, kicking the invisible wall a little.
River: Threats do you little justice, both of you.
Zenwrick Moonwater: You are nothing to me, girl. Leave. Take whatever you want from manse, I care not.
Xiliana Moonwater watches as her father approaches.
Zenwrick Moonwater paces forward, tapping his fingers on his clasped wrist. “Leave. Now. Or you will not see the sky again. This is your last chan…”
His eyes narrow as if seeing Xila for the first time, and then tighten. “Where did you find that?”
Xiliana Moonwater: Find what?
Zenwrick Moonwater: You know what Im speaking about. Where did you find that STONE?!?
Xiliana Moonwater: Ohhh! That thing. I found it next to my Mothers empty coffin.
Xiliana Moonwater: Well
Xiliana Moonwater: I didn’t find it exactly
Xiliana Moonwater points to Susan and River
Xiliana Moonwater: They did
River smiles weakly and waves.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Leave… Ill even let you take the stone, though I should rip it off your corpse.
Xiliana Moonwater: Speaking of… Do you know why my Mother’s coffin is empty?
Zenwrick Moonwater stares at you intently without answering.
Xiliana Moonwater steps towards the barrier and tries to step through it.
The barrier seems malleable, but you cant force your way through the barrier. Its like being caught in plastic wrap.
Xiliana Moonwater: Nice wall you have here.
Xiliana Moonwater sighs
Xiliana Moonwater: Shut up stone! I’m trying to talk to my fat…
Xiliana Moonwater: Wait
Xiliana Moonwater: Her?
Xiliana Moonwater: I’m not killing any of my friends, I’ve told you before!
Xiliana Moonwater: Apologies Father, ever since I got this stone it has been telling me to kill people… Not that I really need convincing.
Xiliana Moonwater: Now, where were we…
Zenwrick Moonwater: Leave.
Pyros: It’s your decision, Xila.
Xiliana Moonwater: Please Father.. I’m still your daughter.. And you’re still my Father. Speak to me. Help me to understand…. Once you do, then I shall leave
Zenwrick Moonwater: This is your last chance, Xiliana. Leave. I will not delay this any further, even for you.
River: A q-question, Mr. Zenwrick. Whose is it?
Zenwrick Moonwater: Whose is it?
Xiliana Moonwater: Whose is it? Wha?
Pyros: Whose is it?
River: You m-mentioned you and my aunt are not on good t-terms.
River: So… who gave you that bottle on your b-belt?
Zenwrick Moonwater: She is insufferable.
Zenwrick Moonwater: These…
Zenwrick Moonwater motions to the small ruby vessel tied to his belt, one that looks eriely similar to the ones that Susan has. “… are of my design. Which that bitch stole!”
Xiliana Moonwater: Father…. You say you wont delay any further… But… Why have you delayed at all? I thought you hated me.
Zenwrick Moonwater screws up his face. “I never hated you, you were just in the way constantly. And I couldnt have you in the way. Not then, not now.”
Xiliana Moonwater: You treated me with hate… How could I think anything else?
Fallow glances at Xila thoughtfully for a moment, considering something
Xiliana Moonwater: It was clear to me, only my Mother really loved me.
Zenwrick Moonwater just stares ahead silently.
River bites her lip in thought. “…His design… Hmm.”
River: Why did you make them in the f-first place, if you d-don’t mind my prying?
Xiliana Moonwater looks at the stone.
Xiliana Moonwater: You’re not saying to kill my friends… are you stone? You’re telling me to Kill…. her.
The stone nearly hums aloud.
Xiliana Moonwater: I think…. I’ve figured it out. My father hated me… He would never… I saw your dead corpse…. You can’t be alive…. But, you’re not dad are you?
As the realization starts to spread over Xila’s features, Zenwrick grabs the vessel at his belt and throws it at River. “If you care to see it so much, perhaps you should take a look at it closer. Askavan, Quinos, Danica – we go now!”
Quinn Winterborn: Danica???
Quinn Winterborn: Cadderly’s Danica?
The ruby vessel sails through the air and as River attempts to leap out of the way, her body deadpan falls onto the floor, as the vessel hits the floor and rolls away.
Xiliana Moonwater: River!

Last time on HBC… Upon reading through all of the information present in the lair of Zenwrick Moonwater, the heroes were presented with some conflicting information about who exactly was on the up and up. A brief encounter with a shadowy puddle, the heroes left the lair to continue through the crypt, only to come across a large crypt area, complete with a variety of undead and the living Moonwater men – Zenwrick and Quinos! Xila and Susan slipped through the bars for a confrontation with Zenwrick, before everything broke down and, at the behest of a woman’s voice, Zenwrick threw a ruby cylinder at River, which caused her to collapse to the ground. The halfling then turned his back on Xila, retreating behind the barrier once more.
Xiliana Moonwater: Don’t turn your back on me! Talk to me!
Fallow glances at Susan, then the flask, then at Xila, wondering when the halfling girl will finally decide to act
Pyros: Xila, decide. Caall for action now, or let’s leave. I think the talks are over until the situation changes.
Susan is summoning magic around her hands, ready to release a spell.
Xiliana Moonwater: I can’t leave! Not until I have answers!
Fallow touches Xila gently on the shoulder
Pyros has readied his other form, in case fighting starts.
Xiliana Moonwater looks at Fallow with tears in her eyes.
Fallow nods wisely beyond her tender years
Xiliana Moonwater: …We have to fight our way through. But if anyone hurts even so much as a hair on my families heads, I will kill them.
Fallow nods emphatic agreement
Quinn Winterborn: really?
Xiliana Moonwater looks at Quinn with a fire in her eyes.
Quinn Winterborn shakes his head in frustration
Fallow pulls her hand back from Xila’s shoulder as she passes one more message to her
As you move around the exterior of the mausoleum, you discover another zombie and come to a broken wall that reveals a dark room inside.
It appears to be some kind of crypt.
Xiliana Moonwater completely ignores the spooky crypt next to her.
Xiliana Moonwater: Power [Action Point] [free]
As you make a break for the center of the room, you slam into a barrier or force that trembles at your “intrusion”.
Moro covers her snout in a doggo-face-palm.
Xiliana Moonwater curses her luck as she picks herself up and continues running full sprint
The stone door slams to the ground as Quinn the doorstop moves away.
A spectral hand appears at Quinns command and grabs the ruby bottle, tugging the cap off of the bottle. There is a whoosh and a hint of ruby sparks…
River gasps and draws breath once more.
Quinos shuffles towards one of the smaller crypts.
The human female then comes out of the south eastern crypt holding a pair of large chests upon her shoulders. She waits patiently behind the halfling not seeming to mind the weight of the chests.
Fallow rears back, craghammer flashing in her dance as she preps to brain the undead in front of her
River however… does not stir from unconsciousness.
As Fallow delivers the hammer blow, the body shifts and its dull red eyes flare to life.
Susan raises her hand, and tries to put her Divine Challenge on Zenwrick.
The magic fails to find a target.
The zombie turns its head at Pyros as the blast of fire burns off a layer of decaying flesh.
Pyros: Good work, Susan you distracted it very nicely!
Susan lets out a furious growl.
As the zombies swing at Fallow and Pyros, a sickening sucking sound is heard, as the remaining zombies in the crypt begin pulling themselves off of the walls and floors that they were ‘attached’ to.
The zombie slams its fists at Fallow, but they flare at the barrier, sending a spray of fleshy spores against the barrier.
Moro: GET OFF MY DAUGHTER.
The zombies move toward the nearest living creature and pound against the barrier.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Idiots.
Xiliana Moonwater looks at the group in front of her out of breath.
Standing in the doorway of the crypt, you can see the form of a sleek, scantily clad woman with a leather harness on, who is doing something… magical.
Xiliana Moonwater: Oooh, she’s nice.
Xiliana Moonwater: Now it’s just us…
Xiliana Moonwater: Tell me, what’s going on!
Xiliana Moonwater looks at Zenwrick
Xiliana Moonwater: You already know I’ve realized, there’s no point hiding anything from me now.
Zenwrick Moonwater: You had your chance years ago, instead you wasted your talents and made yourself a pain. Just leave here before things go badly for you.
Xiliana Moonwater: My chance? My chance for what?
Zenwrick Moonwater: I tried… but you wouldnt listen… your blind hatred for your father and his actions made it too hard to groom you as I wanted.You rejected her touch and like that… well, we had to be rid of you.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Not like your brother here… he listens and behaves without question.
Xiliana Moonwater: I loved you!
Xiliana Moonwater: When you died… The grief was too much… But I guess, you faked that huh?
Zenwrick Moonwater: You loved the idea of me… but not me… you never loved me.
Xiliana Moonwater: You’re wrong! If you… if you hadn’t faked your death, I might have been Quinos right now… But what you’re doing, whatever it is, is wrong!
Zenwrick Moonwater: No Xiliana. Im fulfilling my purpose, and your brother along side me. Soon, we will be above this prattle and none of this will matter anymore. Ive worked my whole life to ensure it, and you wont mess this up for me because you’ve managed to bungle your way into this. I will have the book and I will free the Dark Sun.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Quinos – kill her.
Quinos turns a heavy head towards Xila.
Xiliana Moonwater: Quinos… Why?
Xiliana Moonwater: Very well
Xiliana Moonwater: If I must die, then so be it… But I won’t strike you. Either of you.
Xiliana Moonwater waits for Quinos to make his move.
Quinos casts a spell with a flick of his hand and a sparkle of light flares around him and his nearby allies.
and then he disappears.
Xiliana Moonwater blinks
Xiliana Moonwater: Huh?
Askavan: Damnit Zenwrick, if I have to hold this portal any longer, you can BET that woman will pinpoint it and know EXACTLY where we are going! Get your brat and the components and LETS GO!
Xiliana Moonwater looks at the women.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Fine. Have the woman and Quinos stall them. We have a book to retrieve.
Askavan: You hear that, Dani. These interlopers have captured your children and are keeping them from you.
Xiliana Moonwater: You do realize that she’s not actually Zenwrick right? Just figured I’d point that out… Incase, y’know you didn’t know.
The human woman turns slowly toward Xila and drops the chests she was carrying, a flare of something deep in her gaze.
Xiliana Moonwater: Erm… captured children?
Xiliana Moonwater: What?
Xiliana Moonwater: I’ve captured no child… At least, I’m pretty sure I haven’t
Fallow stamps her foot and wills a sudden teleport from her feystep leggings, appearing near the zombies behind her
Xiliana Moonwater: Kidnapped a few adults in the past, but no children.
Fallow pulls her favorite standard from it’s place on her back and plants it firmly in the ground beside her
Xiliana Moonwater: Now, I’m sorry, i know you’re likely under some kind of control. But you’re not family, so I have no issues whatsoever stabbing and killing you.
As the zombie swings and connects with its longsword, the target zombie releases a blast of toxic spores that cause both Susan and Fallow to break into a coughing fit.
Pyros suddenly and in a burst of fire that seems to consume him, transforms into a being of pure fire and heat. Rolling out from the creature comes a wave of fire that is a lot hotter than what you are used to from Pyros.
Moro blinks nonchalantly.
As you shift partially into the ethereal plane, you catch a glimpse of Rivers spirit standing near her body.
Pyros [Primordial]: [Translation] In the end the fire will take everything.
The burnt corpse of one of the zombies that Pyros utterly blasted risess from the ground and shambles forward, body still aflame.
The zombie staggers forward and slams into Susan.
The zombie at Fallow’s feet rises and smashes its fists into the fey’s face.
The zombie explodes with spores as Fallow smashes it with her hammer.
As the zombies are tossed away from Quinn’s magical eminations, the ruby vessel is also thrown outward from the blast.
Moro snaps at the zombie, in a maddened rage of utter hate.
There is the sound of shattering glass, and Zenwrick looks nervously as she shoulders one of the chests.
Xiliana Moonwater: Nervous about something?
The zombies lurch forward and pass through the barrier, their limbs elongating as they surround Susan!
Susan: Son of a-
Xiliana Moonwater: Oh, friends
Xiliana Moonwater: Zombies aren’t gonna stop me Mother, you know that.
Xiliana Moonwater: Hey!
Xiliana Moonwater: That was close, I thought you were actually trying to hit me then
Zenwrick Moonwater tosses a blast of negative energy towards Xila which blots out the area, obscuring him from view.
Zenwrick Moonwater: You want to play games… fine. Lets play!
Xiliana Moonwater: OOoh, I love games! Y’know that one we used to play when I was a kid, how about that one? No… Oh well I tried.
Xiliana Moonwater: Y’know I’m not even trying to dodge, it’s like you really don’t want to kill me.
Xiliana Moonwater: I take that back
Xiliana Moonwater chugs an elixir of invisibility
Xiliana Moonwater tries to sneak past Askavan
Standing where you were about to rush into is a swirling inky black magical portal.
Xiliana Moonwater tries to see what’s on the other side of the portal.
As you peer into the portal, the hazy picture of a grey landscape with a large rocky tor is within. You can see some kind of structure atop the tor.
Xiliana Moonwater turns away from the portal and faces Askavan… And then stabs her.
Xiliana Moonwater knocks Askavan unconscious
The demoness falls to the ground as Xila knocks her unconscious, and there is a perceptible rumble as the portal begins to grow slightly, consuming the stone coffin behind it.
Xiliana Moonwater: Huh
Xiliana Moonwater: Thought that might have worked.
Xiliana Moonwater: So, now it really is just us Mother.
As Quinn blasts at the zombie near him, it falls forward, attempting to pin him beneath it.
A quartet of small missile flare from the darkness and slam into Xila.
You hear the clang of your dagger being directed to the floor.
Askavan: Insufferable cur!
Askavan: DANICA!
Xiliana Moonwater: You can blame my mother for that… I mean this was a game, I had to win.
The woman lunges forward with a heavy fist, before shifting around you can hammering away with a flurry of blows.
Xiliana Moonwater: If I die here
Xiliana Moonwater: Just know, that whatever happens Mother… I still love you.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Oh… dont worry… I’ll have Askavan make you into an obedient puppet… then we’ll have a wonderful time.
Xiliana Moonwater: How do you know that you’re not her puppet mother?
Askavan: Your children never shut up, Mal.
The spore zombies fall flat under Fallow’s massive hammer, though her attack on the cinder zombie sprays her with fire…
The zombie arms reach up from the ground and clasp tight around Susans boots, preventing her from leaving as intended.
The zombie falls to the ground, but then picks itself back up…
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] Flames will consume the weak.
River: Moro, go h-help them. I can hold this one off.
Moro howls, and the spirits begin to swirl about the wolf.
Quinn Winterborn: I sure hope Xila’s talking to her family is going well….
Fallow grimaces at the wizard’s comment doubtfully
The zombie explodes in spores, which cover River and Quinn…
Xiliana Moonwater: Before I die… Mother, tell me, at least.. Why do all of this? Why? When I was young.. You were amazing, so kind and loving. Was that all an act? If so… why?
Zenwrick Moonwater: Mewling child – all you’ve ever done is mettle – and now you wonder why – you even managed to botch this up. I gave you a chance, and you’ve wasted that as well – you were much your father’s child.
Xiliana Moonwater: If you had just spoken to me! Then I wouldn’t of had to! I can’t let you leave.. not until you’ve explained everything.
Xiliana Moonwater: I was perfectly prepared to let you go.
Moro viciously tears into the zombies with righteous indignation.
Zenwrick Moonwater: No. You werent. And the Lady rejected you as well. You could never do what was required, not even at a young age. Once she rejected you, it was over, even if I wanted it some other way.
Zenwrick Moonwater releases a blast of fire.
Zenwrick Moonwater: Quinos – take her. Danica, get the chests. Lets go. Now.
Xiliana Moonwater as xila falls to the ground she utters some last words “Mother… I forgive you.”
Zenwrick Moonwater reaches down and snatches the dark stone that orbits Xilas head.
Zenwrick Moonwater steps through the portal and disappears.
Quinn breaks the grab.
Quinos moved forward, and scoops up Xila’s body and then steps through the portal.
Askavan: Danica… make sure the others are dead… then I’ll come back for you.
Askavan then prances forward and leaps through the portal.
The human woman rushes out of the crypt with blinding speed, charging towards your group.
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] Fire will burn every life to the ground.
Danica Bonaduce [Primordial]: [Translation] Shut up, Demon.
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] You will burn too in time.
More hands clasp at Pyros’ form.
River: Nnngh!
A wave bursts from River carrying the zombie away from her.
River: M-Moro, stay on her! We need to m-move!

Last time on HBCMURDER! IN an attempt to argue her point home, Xila pursued her father(?) to a point of isolating herself from the group, while they attempted to free River from the soul jar and were embattled by undead. Xila disappeared, however, as did the rest of the Moonwater clan, while a human woman has now charged forward to do battle with the rest of the group. Where is Xila? Is she alive? Did she go willingly, or was she taken? Let find out tonight…
Quinn throws a ray of frost at the zombie near him, and then dashes away to get his back against a wall. Meanwhile, the shadow clad human takes a side step and makes a flurry of attacks.
The woman then slams her fist into the wolf with a final strike
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] Fire is always hungry.
The zombie body burns away finally with the intense flames coming from Pyros’ form.
A few more undead creep forward from the open crypts…
The undead stagger forward…
Quinn begins to cast a spell, but waits for the enemies to get closer.
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] In the end only ashes remain.
Danica dances out of your way.
The zombie lurches forward and lays into Susan with a heavy handed blow.
Quinn then releases the spell he was holding.
River: S-Stay on her, Moro!
The Zombies curl and blacken from the blast of fire.
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] Yes! Burn!
River: X-Xila! Are you OK?
As you begin to focus on the shadowy woman, there is the sound of fabric being torn, and in the center of the room, a jagged black tear begins to form as if something was pushing into this place from beyond…
The shadowy woman blinks out of existance for a moment before slamming into River from the shadows!
The woman then gives chase to her target.
River: A l-l-little help here p-please…!!
Pentacorn ‘s flames grow brighter as in answer to River’s call.
The zombie explodes under Fallow’s heavy hit, spraying the group with nasty spores sthat eat through cloth and metal alike.
Susan: Leave…River… Alone!
Danica slaps the sword away with the palm of her hand.
Susan as the blade gets knocked aside, Susan looks aghast, and turns to look at River.
Susan: Get away, River!
River: In d-due time…
The monk then grabs Susan’s second strike, nearly throwing the blade out of her grasp.
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] Go yonder, my Flame and burn my enemies. River needs help.
Pentacorn directs the flaming sphere to Danica.
The black jagged tear opens wide as a feminine form steps through. A woman emerges, one you have seen before, though now she is clad in tightly fit chain armor and bears a pulsing shield of crackling black energy that floats near her threateningly. “Zenwrick! I will rip that lying mouth from your face and feed it to a bone devil!” Meredith Sainte Voullaine snaps as she steps forward.
River: This is… not i-ideal.
Quinn Winterborn: Are we not supposed to kill your family too?
Danica’s head snaps to see the new threat, but then advances on River.
River: Nngh… My pain is n-nothing.
As the strike connects, Danica’s body is enveloped in black tendrils, before she is casually thrown through the air and into the stone of one of the nearby crypts.
Meredith: Thats enough of that.
Susan looks at the figure in front of her, just trying to make sure it’s real before she goes with her last resort.
Meredith: Focus on your task, woman. Im not the threat here.
Moro: How I long to hear your neck snap between my jaws…
Moro growls lowly at the actress, eager to snap her fangs into her.
Meredith: Yes… death and destruction and wanton lamentations. We’ve all seen that you are quite scary.
River: Why are you h-here?
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] Fire is relentless. In the end it will get you.
Meredith: I came looking for that arrogant sniveling runt of a man!
River: Z-Zenwrick? I was u-under the impression you’ve tired of dealing with h-him.
Meredith: I came to kill him and blast apart this entire abomination. His ambition far out paces his reach.
Meredith: And if you’ll allow me to assist you with this… mindslave, we can speak freely.
River: …Moro, stand d-down.
Moro: You do not believe her to be trustworthy, after all this—
River: No. But we must ch-choose our battles wisely. This is n-not the time.
Meredith flicks a hand towards the monk, as a globule of crackling black energy flies from the shield at her side.
Moro growls menacingly before turning away from Meredith.
The energy forms a crackling black void around the woman, tearing at her essence.
Quinn Winterborn: Wait, is she… helping us?
River: F-For now. We will trade words once we d-deal with the other.
Fallow glances once over her shoulder
Meredith: Pick your jaw up off the floor, wizard. A fight is at hand.
Quinn Winterborn: This is insane.
Meredith: Indeed.
Moro simply harumphs.
River parries with a defensive block from her spear, turning in the nick of time.
Quinn Winterborn: She’s being controlled.
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] You cannot outrun fire.
Fallow raises her shield protectively near River as she stands ready to defend her
Meredith: She is clearly under the sway of that foul succubus – not that it matters in the least.
Quinn Winterborn: It matters to me. If she is under the control of someone else then it would be wrong to killl her.
Another black void of crackling energy springs into being…
Quinn Winterborn attempts to dispel whaever magic is holding Danica
The twisted tendrils of shadow that curl around the woman lessen under the hammer blow of Quinn’s magical onslaught. They tense for a moment before shattering, sending shards of black crystals all over Fallow and River. The woman then releases a heavy sigh before slumping to the ground, with color slowly seeping back into her face.
Quinn Winterborn heads over to Danica.
Quinn Winterborn: Is she alright now?
Fallow blinks, then glances back at the wizard, wondering what the bleep he’s on about
River: I believe she is s-subdued.
Quinn Winterborn breaths a sigh of relief
Fallow moves between River and Meredith warily
River: Now… I b-believe we have matters to d-discuss.
Susan doesn’t react to Fallows, message, eyes locked on Meredith, but moving to stand directly next to River.
Meredith: Indeed. Assuming your compatriots arent going to assault me, and we can discontinue shouting across this horrible room.
River: Of c-course. Is this agreeable to you all?
Quinn Winterborn: Pyros, please can you take down your flames? Danica should be alright now.
Fallow looks back at River, then nods reluctantly
Pentacorn [Primordial]: [Translation] Fire agrees not to burn Meredith unless she attacks.
Moro harumphs again… and fades away.
Meredith [Primordial]: [Translation] You are fire now? How presumptious of you.
Pentacorn turns back into his usual self.
Quinn Winterborn: Thank you.
Pentacorn: Alright, Master Winterborn.
Pentacorn: Could I have your assistance back here, Master Winterborn, if you will?
Quinn Winterborn nods
River: …Xila is not here, it seems.
Pentacorn has a look at the bottle magic and consults Quinn on his opinion how to bottle it again.
Quinn Winterborn: That does not surprise me. She probably went with her family. She did want us not to hurt them
Quinn Winterborn examins the bottle
Meredith: Another of this horrid family? I thought her dead – at least thats what Zenwrick would have me believe
Fallow glances around carefully while watching Meredith, looking for some sign of little Xila
River: There is much the Moonwaters have k-kept secret.
The bottle appears to be similar to the containers that Susan procured from the tent where Dias was lost.
Meredith: Clearly. Why are you here?
River: To uncover both their p-plans… as well as your own, d-dear Aunt.
River: I would assume you c-came to that conclusion already.
Meredith: I doubt you’ve uncovered much in the way of my own motivations and machiations, dear. But it is fetching that you have attempted to, thus far.
Quinn Winterborn summons a mage hand to pick up the bottle. Then moves it to the far corner.
River: It is not I who has d-done much successful d-digging.
Pentacorn retraces Xila’s steps to look for clues to her leaving, a note or anything.
Meredith: Oh? Thats slightly disappointing, considering your ability to elude me thus far. Tell me, was it this idiot family that cost your uncle, or was it the trecherous drow?
River: …He is d-dead?
Meredith: Debilitated. A nasty poison of some kind, that they make in this city in particular.
River: I do not b-believe it is the Moonwaters, n-no. They have their own motivations. There is… some troubling notes of import.
River: T-Tell me, how have you and they worked t-together in the past?
Pentacorn packs the Spiritsuckerbottle into his bag of holding.
Meredith: Contracted – they do some work in smuggling and were looking to break into something bigger. Your uncle prides himself on making coin where ever he can, so he hired the lowest bidder. And now he sits in a puddle of his own filth because his bowels are uncontrolled.
River ponders for a moment, putting the evidence thus far together.
River: There is a s-strong possibility Zenwrick and his kin have l-left once more. But I may k-know where they have g-gone.
Meredith: The Shadowfell, I would assume. He seems to be doing the most damage on that plane- the idiot.
River: There is… a g-great deal he has accomplished there.
River: For us to f-follow I fear is not… possible at this time.
Meredith: You do seem ill prepared for such a journey. To what extent do you know of his plans? Where does he retreat to, what are his goals, who is his patron?
Fallow puts a hand on River’s shoulder gently
Fallow looks slightly worried and torn as she looks at River
River: If my own suspicions are correct… not too f-far off from your own.
River smiles wryly.
Meredith: You would be incorrect, for the most part, child.
Meredith: at least, the last part. We do not serve the same patron.
Quinn Winterborn: Of course you wouldn’t admit it.
Pentacorn (mumbles to himself): Xila where have you gone … … … and do you even want us to follow?
Meredith: Admit what?
Quinn Winterborn: Your plans.
Meredith: You’ve likely uncovered enough that it would be redundant to walk that path now, or are you inept in that as well?
Quinn Winterborn: And whether you served the same patron.
Fallow glances at Susan over River’s back
Meredith: This place reeks of the Lady of Loss. That is not my patron. We are, in fact, diametrically opposed to her.
River: To some, any shade of d-darkness is too much to bear.
Meredith: Please… this plane is like all others, shades of gray.
Meredith: Not her… no, she is the absence of everything – good, evil, puppies, devils… everything. Gone. Nothing to love or hate – just nothing at all. There’s no future in that, child.
River: Regardless… I fear we may still be at an impass proceeding.
River: As much as I would… regret this…
River: C-Can you be of assistance in… our pursuit against Zenwrick?
Meredith raises an eyebrow.
Quinn Winterborn: You are seriously asking for her aid?
Fallow looks at River a bit poleaxed
Meredith: I echo your companions concern in this course of action.
Quinn Winterborn: You know it’s bad when the enemy themselves tells you it’s a bad idea for them to assist.
Pentacorn: Are we enemies then?
Meredith: Caution is warranted in all things, wizard.
Meredith: Wizards, then.
River: Our friend Xila was lost in this battle… knowing her… she most likely followed them to their destination…
Pentacorn: Humility is a great asset though, when pride navigates you into a dead end.
River: Or d-dragged there.
Quinn Winterborn: Or she went willingly.
Fallow nods
Pentacorn: Well, there is a lot of blood here, so it can’t just have been talks. One side attacked the other and if Xila didn’t attack her family, it was the other way around.
Meredith: I do have the resources to provide you with aid in this course of action – I know where he is, and what his plans are – or at least a modest estimation of them – but what is it you would provide me? I could simply take you here and now, if I liked to…
Meredith: However, we are being civilized, and there is a time and place for recklessness.
Pentacorn: Either they left at some point and she followed after them without them knowing, or they took her. In either case she’ll need assistance soon, i reckon.
River: And what would you ask of us in r-return?
Meredith: There is… something.
Quinn Winterborn: I don’t like the sound of this
Fallow shakes her head worriedly
River crosses her arms in thought.
Meredith: Within the eddifice that Zenwrick occupies there are a number of tomes that have not seen the light of Faerun in several hundred years – magics lost to the changing of gods and the burning of magics. While Zenwrick attempts to corrupt ‘the book’, there is another, “Canticle of Madness” that lies within. You bring me that book, and I will call this ‘even’.
Quinn Winterborn: What do you want with this book?
Meredith: Should he successful corrupt the other book… well, it wont end well for any of us.
Meredith: To read it, simply put. It is important to me
Fallow looks curiously and with great trepidation at Meredith, trying to determine anything about her heritage
Fallow ‘s head pulls back suddenly, then she looks at Susan
River: It is not…. unseemly to find this.
Susan: It can, fallow.
River: Of c-course, we n-need to become p-prepared for the venture ahead.
Quinn Winterborn: Why are you so eaher to get this book? Surely reading it can not be your only objective
Meredith: I have some things that can offer protection from the latent energies of the Shadowfell. And perhaps one of my retainers, if youd like. There would need to be some sliver of trust here, in order for this to happen, however.
Pentacorn: The what if Xila is not there in the first place? Don’t we need to figure out where she went exactly first before we go into darkness?
Meredith: It is a lost book of my faith – which were all ripped from the planes hundreds of years ago. They are important to the faithful, though I will freely admit, I hope to find more within.
Meredith: I know where Zenwrick is at. Ive been tracking him for a time, but he vanishes from my sight on occasion, likely some kind of antimagical room of some sort.
River: Hmmm…
River looks over to Danica’s prone body.
Quinn Winterborn: I defer to River. But I am against this. That book does not sound promising.
River: What of her? I doubt s-she is not unfamiliar of their location either.
Meredith shrugs. “She seems formidible, but I doubt she would fare better than you in that plane.”
Meredith: Assuming she was controlled by the devil, then its likely she wont recall much while being charmed.
Meredith: Perhaps something more… vital to add to the bargain then? Something that may tip the balance?
Quinn Winterborn: I’m listening.
Meredith cocks her head a moment and then states plainly. “You agree to a geas to bring me that book, under pain of death, and I will agree to leave Violet alone for all of eternity.”
Fallow glaress a negative at the foul woman before them
Quinn Winterborn: Word it differetly, and perhaps we can come to an agreement. Your offer of leaving River alone is far too vague.
River: What of the others?
Quinn Winterborn: Plus, you must have a geas placed upon you as well.
Fallow lifts her bloodied hammer at the woman, shaking her head vehemently in the negative, then emphatically makes the sign of Selune in the air before her
Meredith: Thats the premise of a geas… it works both ways.
Meredith: What others? These ones? You can word the agreement however you like – include them, exclude them. Ive never been after them, they were… collateral to my goals.
Susan: Neither you, nor any of your agents. Nobody working on your behalf, or by any order, suggestion or stray comment you might offer. Applying retroactively, to anyone you may have already requested this service of, or made a suggest to.
River: …The fact you are w-willing to undergo a geas for this is… of great concern.
Meredith: I cant state that… as I have no control over the machiations of those that have been in my employ. I will not lift my hand against her, nor pursue her actively or passively in any of my endeavors.
Meredith: Child… I have spent the wealth of small empires pursing you – my goals are outside of your scope and vision. This is a means for us to part amicably and for you to live your life without me lurking over your shoulder.
River rubs the side of her arm in thought.
Quinn Winterborn: The ‘other book’…. what is it?
Meredith: Its a relic from another god – something that if tampered with, will bring on the destruction of everything, particularily in the hands of an oaf like Zenwrick.
Meredith: The Tome of Universal Harmony is its title, if thats meaningful to you.
Quinn Winterborn blows out a low whistle.
River: …I cannot agree to this. For us to part amicably forever…
River: That is not possible. Ever.
Meredith: Less amicably, and more blissful ignorance
Meredith: or indifference… or hate me, thats equally agreeable.
River: Our paths will cross once m-more, that is certain. But we have our own m-matters to deal with that is not here.
Meredith: Do you ever recognize what it is that you are, child? Or what I am? Have you thought to question this beyond the surface of things?
River: …What do you mean?
Meredith: Clearly, you are not simply a human – do you ever think on that for more than a moment?
Meredith: And what do you know of me, beyond that Im a sinister and horrible aunt and a fantastic thespian?
River: …Have you always known this? Even before?
Meredith: How old do you think I am, child?
River: W-What are you?
River takes a step back in fear.
Fallow steps ready to guard River
Susan is holding out both hands.
Meredith: If you’ll allow me, I can show you. But it may be… graphic.
Pyros: Showing your age? How, like a naked grandma?
Meredith: I appreciate the attempt at humor, wizard.
Pyros smirks.
Fallow prepares to defend her friend and companion
River clasps her hands in fear… before nodding.
River: Show me.
Meredith takes a step backward, as she dismisses her crackling shield with a dismissive wave. Reach upwards slowly, she undoes a clasp at her neck, allowing the chain armor, along with her clothing to fall to the ground. For a moment, the alabaster skin and perfectly crafted body of a young woman is shown before you, not quite matching the delicately wrinked face of Meredith. With a sickening pop, her shoulders pop from their sockets, her arms lengthening and the skin splitting, revealing blood and gore within. Her knees buckle as well, somehow gaining another joint as she begins to convulse from the pain that is evident on her features. She throws her head back in a otherworldly scream, as her jaw lengthens and fills with a mass of jagged teeth. In a blast of blood and gore and a spray of bone, you see before you a vaguely woman shaped creature, though her features are gaunt and sharply angular. Her skin is a midnight purple, and her eyes globes of pure darkness. A pair of what might have once been large feathered wings protrude from her back.
Quinn Winterborn: What the….
Pyros: Should have done that on stage.
Fallow looks incredulously first at the thing, then at River and then back again
Susan is resisting the urge to run.
Fallow looks again at River, then takes an involuntary step back, away from her
The creature stands upright, a full twelve feet tall, her pained gaze leveled on you. “This is what I am, child. Older than you can imagine, and twisted to this fate by the whims of a sadistic goddess who cares for NOTHING.” her words echo painfully as they stretch beyond the syllables she speaks and grate at the edges of your mind.
Fallow hand leaves River shoulder suddenly as she steps back
Pyros: Well, enlighten me, what is this supposed to tell us about your age?
River: I… but… I don’t…
River is speechless.
Fallow shakes herself, then gets a resolute expression, and shakes her head in the negative, throwing off what bothers her about this
Meredith: You… are not this, child. But you are something more… you are divinely blooded – and that is what fuels your… power.
Fallow determinedly takes slow steps forward, back to River’s side, and places a reassuring hand back on her shoulder, shakily
Quinn Winterborn: SO… how is this going to convince us to get a book that literally has madness in the title and give it to you?
Fallow glances up at the creature before them, an expression of grim purpose on her face
Quinn Winterborn: Because if anything, this is convincing me to do the exact opposite.
Meredith: What is Madness to you? Slaughter? Chaos? Believing in something so intensely it twists you into something diffierent? The complete and utter destruction of everything that ever is and was and will be? That is whats on the line here, wizard.
Fallow shakes her head, trying to rid herself of the fear that the insanity the being speaks of just does not exist and is not possible
Pyros: Well wouldn’t that be all more the reason to destroy the Canticle of Madness?
Meredith: The Lady of Loss is entropy – she wishes everything to be destroyed. Her fingers are always seeking that end – the void in Sembia – her, the return of the Netherese – her, the breech at the edges of Fey into the beyond – her.
Meredith: Very little can stop her, there is one – one that has already slain one god, and has the ability to do so again. And I have worked for untold time to find this opportunity and seize it.
Fallow blinks as River turns away
River: W-We’re leaving.
Meredith: I see.
Fallow backs away defensively, her steps faltering
Pyros: So you would have Cyric slay another god to stop the destruction of everything, but would in turn open the world to evil unmeasurable? I think you are being deceived by the Prince of Lies.
River: M-Master Winterborn, w-watch over the woman. We will need her assistance.
Quinn Winterborn nods
Meredith: The offer still stand, Violet. Think on it before acting rashly.
Susan: I can get us pretty far away in an instant, but we might be stuck there for a while until our ship can meet us.
The creature begins to fold in on itself, joints popping and cracking as she folds back into a quivering pile of alabaster skin and dark eyes.
River: …My name is River.
River: …Let’s go.
Pyros: The last word has not been spoken in this conversation, um… Meredith. But I’m afraid there is a lot we have to stomach before we can continue any talks.
Meredith stands on quaking legs and beings to dress quietly, while watching you leave.
Fallow wishes forlornly that she had her voice again at this moment in time
Pyros wishes that as well, all the time.

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