AFO5.02: An Eye On the Problem

The Fated Four for this session

Aelia, celestial pact of the tome warlock;
Angron, orc bear totem barbarian;
Tyche, elf rogue/thief;
Zephrus, human cleric/fate

Ably supported by Fuzzy the familiar and Hydrak the donkey

THE STORY SO FAR

Princess Alexandra has been taken by Psysseria’s agents! Can the heroes learn of her whereabouts? Can they restore hope to her city, Illos?

Guided by advice from mystical sources the Four ascend the Gargaros foothills and enter the weird sunken lair of the three Fates. Surely they in all the world can say where Princess Alexandra has been taken! But a rash word from Zephrus has the Fates seeking his heart as a fitting sacrifice!

Unmasked

Inits: the fates, Zephrus/Tyche, Angron, Aelia

The sister that wears the lead mask speaks to Zephrus: “Approach!” Then swiftly ascends the last few steps to the top of the altar, and hands the mask across… where it is taken and donned by the next fate, who speaks to Aelia: “Grovel!” and hands that same mask to the last sister who dons it and speaks to Angron: “Drop!”

These are crucial Command SV to make. Luckily only Aelia need use her Inspiration to do so. The other two are fine! And with all three making the save, the ball is in their court!

From cover behind a pillar Tyche watches Zephrus cast Sanctuary on himself and draw his ivory sickle, running forward then up toward the fate sister wearing the lead mask. She tries a trick-shot: aiming for the lead mask itself. The heavy longbow shaft slams into the mask and it flies off the third sister, falling back off the steps of the altar with a dull thunk.

Tyche makes DC21 with disadvantage and I roll a d10 for direction the mask jolts off and a d6 for feet.

DM

Immediately, all three sisters panic! From seeming to be fully in command and able to see all of their foes, they now seem truly blind!

Zephrus yells out where it dropped. Angron gets the idea, and races around toward the area. But with a 9 Perception check, a lead-colored mask is not obvious on a dirty stone floor.

Aelia waves intended sacrifice Floofles McGee Jnr away and skedaddles too, into some cover with a Hex on the fate nearest Angron and twin Eldritch Blasts over her shoulder.

The fates attempt to guess where the mask fell and one takes falling damage as she blindly moves off the steps. Then they give up, helpless.

Victory! Inspiration all round.

Temptation and illumination

As Zephrus eagerly seizes the mask he feels a flash of inspiration. This relic is the Eye the sphinx spoke of. And it is dangerous! He says as much.

The fates beg that the mask be returned to them. They will swear to scry accurately on whichever god the heroes also swear on to not slay the fates!

A debate begins, but Zephrus slips away quietly, saying that he needs space to scry the thing.

In the background a valid and weighty debate: the heroes are reluctant to swear by anything, if they mean to steal the Eye. Should they even leave the fates alive?

Zephrus slips the Eye on.

DC15 WIS SV, just makes it!

With a last fragment of will Zephrus wrenches the Eye off. “Oh, we don’t need their prophesy now, I know where to find Alexandra!”

For even as his senses reeled and his sanity crumbled, he saw the tail of the constellation Neres pointing to an isle in the sea…

The bloody deed

“I’d still like to know who is going to be our final foe when we reach the isle,” Angron snarls, “but if that is all we can learn, and none of us are willing to leave the Eye with the sisters, I say we kill them.”

“This is not for me, I’m out of here,” Zephrus says.

“I just like, am really uncomfortable with killing three old women, but I guess it has to be done…” and so saying Aelia rounds Floofles up and she too heads back to the landing jetty.

Tyche flips her coin and comes down on the side of blood. “Do what ya have to do,” she encourages Angron, and leaves. But not before sneaking a couple of baubles away into her pouch.

As Angron strides back from the bloody deed he sees the fated shade of the ferryman steering the small craft in to the jetty.

The heroes and their support crew of Fuzzy and Floofles board once more. As they cross, Angron says,

“I regret you are bound to this task… is there a way to send you to the Fields?”

The shade gestures as if to say, I have no idea why I would still be operating a ferry deep inside a mountain if the fates are now dead. Maybe the writer did not think this through? And with that eloquent gesture Angron must be content.

The tumbled shrine

Part-way down from the foothills and again united with their faithful and wise Hydrak, the heroes pause. Zephrus has recognized a tumble of stones as an ancient shrine. A shrine to his own choice of deity, the Fates.

He prays and meditates and receives insight.

“This is a great place to read the auguries as to whether we should bring the Eye to the sphinx.”

“Zephrus, that was my suggestion” – Angron

“Silence, inspiration is divine…”

The auguries read Weal, so it’s back to Mt Cyrinthus.

One helpful idea too many

The heroes have no trouble ascending the mount this time. The harpies remember them and stay well away. Sensing their approach, the sphinx known as The Exile has conjured up the same elaborate palatial illusion as on their previous visit.

“My thanks for retrieving the Eye. I am grateful. And Aelia, I must acquire that skin care unguent you spoke of. Meantime as reward, go you to the back of the cavern and select a treasure from those there.”

“One each?” – Zephrus

The Exile chuckles though buttocks clench around the group. “Very well then, one treasure each.”

“Here you go then,” Zephrus says, laying the Eye down at the Exile’s forepaws. She touches it and hisses slightly as she feels its power.

Meanwhile Zephrus is poking around a small sub-cavern littered with loot and bones. A lot of it looks like junk.

“You know if you wanted to you could use the Eye to see who is behind the kidnapping,” he calls helpfully over his shoulder as the others join him and begin truffling through the piles.

Aelia has been using Insight (the Exile does not mean to use the Eye for ill) and History (the Eye must come from the time of the Titans) but not to the extent that she contradicts Zephrus.

DM

“I can sense, even without the Eye, that it must be a Psysserian that lies behind the kidnapping. But yes, I am curious…”

And the Exile puts the Eye on.

Titanic Struggle

Inits: Exile/Zephrus, Angron, Tyche, Aelia

As the Exile yowls in agony and madness and rolls around on the floor helplessly, Zephrus wheels back out of the treasury and races to Command range: “Unmask!”

This time the Exile makes a great WIS SV!

Seeing that it has not worked Zephrus calls out Screechy and the spirit weapon swoops, but misses. Angron charges past his comrade and leaps atop the sphinx. Tyche sidles out to range and slams an arrow home in the great flank. Aelia attempts to use Eldritch Blast but they go astray. But more importantly she Hexes its Strength.

Then, aware that there is some kind of danger on her, the sphinx rakes at Angron with her claws, and bites him. Zephrus runs to near melee range and Screechy misses. Angron grapples the sphinx, wrenches the Eye off, and clamps his huge arms around her windpipe. Tyche misses, Aelia misses.

The sphinx, perhaps weakened by the Hex, is completely unable to shake Angron off, and after three more rounds falls victim to his choke-out.

Victory!

The casual cure

All agree that if possible the sphinx should be restored to sanity if possible, Zephrus approaches the problem with confidence, but his Dispel Magic does not work. He retires to meditate. Angron retains his firm grip on the warm, sinuous sphinx. He claims it is a precaution…

Meanwhile Tyche has been assessing the loot and passes a few stone tablets to Zephrus, but none are a Restoration-style spell.

“I shall have to take a Long Rest to summon a suitable spell,” Zephrus decides.

“Oh like hey, I can just you know, do one,” Aelia comments, suiting action to word.

The light of sanity returns to the sphinx’s eyes.

Rewards

A grateful sphinx allows them a second treasure each.

“Or you know just gold,” Tyche gloats, scooping a hatful.

Investigation: Angron discovers an orichalcum ingot.

And so with a farewell to The Exile, who tells Aelia that she will send a messenger for the unguent, they begin the return to Ithea

Loot

Krytos’ Kopis see below;
orichalcum ingot;
periapt of protection from lightning (requires attunement);
stone tablets (as Scroll) of contact other plane, conjure animals and enhance ability:
gold: as individually looted

From Ithea we sail!

The trek south-west is uneventful compared with earlier times. Their return to Ithea is marked by ceremony, but this is a great city and it does not stop for them. Agnes the high priestess of Thessa seems to have been expecting them, and holds a private meeting with them at her temple.

“The ship I commissioned has been readying. All is in hand. You can make final preparations, but otherwise you are ready to sail…?”

“Yes, we follow the tail of Neres to an isle in the ocean,” Zephrus asserts confidently.

“You don’t mind if I personally inspect the ship?” Angron says and heads away before anyone can dissent.

The others agree to buy any foodstuffs, or special agents, they think of, and accept a Greater Healing potion each from Agnes (and one for Angron too).

“Aye, we fitted ‘er out wi’ yer Sail of Ithea,” the helmsman explains to Angron, “we’ll be gettin’ a step faster on th’ ocean, each day.”

“Good I wondered about that. Well I have a shopping list to see to, nice to meet you, Helm.”

Prep montage

Angron buys a bunch of hardware, including air-filled tarred skins for binding under the boat’s gunwales.

Tyche visits her street contacts again and gains two more vials of poison.

Zephrus enjoys the fleshpots while he can, but buys a large amphora of fine wine, and a skin of fine wine.

Aelia gets another full-body-maintenance beauty treatment, hair care etc.

Claws in the storm

It has been near calm, as though Thessa’s blessings are at war with some power that seeks to still the airs. By night, Zephrus checks their course against Neres. The others sleep under bedrolls in the open vessel.

Dark clouds begin to gather on the horizon until they fill the whole of the sky. In the distance, thunder rumbles low and deep. Then the rain starts, pattering against the wood of the deck and the canvas of the sails. They see the droplets on the grey sea as it begins to wake.

The wind howls, slapping the sail. Helm looks up nervously, and motions for it to be trimmed. White foam tips the waves as they break against the prow where Tyche is on watch, and tumble over the rails. The rain falls hard, making the deck and riggings slick as the small ship bobs on the rising waves. A clawed hand latches over the ship’s rail, then another.

Inits: Tyche, Merrow raiders, Aelia, Zephrus, Merrow neophytes, Angron

A furious battle dominated by Tyche, who races up the lateen yard to sweep the deck of invaders, and Angron, who slices sea-ogres asunder with his great-axe. Aelia seems to be a focus for the sea-ogre aggression. She is thoroughly shaken by the near-death experiences! In desperation her celestial inner fire manifests! Her eyes, her mouth, and each wound glow white fire as the sea-ogres around her begin burning! Meanwhile Zephrus frees himself from a net and he and Screechy do solid work supporting Angron.

At last the celestial Aelia swings on the final sea-ogre: “You know my lovely skin is totally dry now! Shame on you!”

And it perishes.

Victory!

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