Another phylactery!

Session 17 December 2023

Xenji’s back! He strides through the portal with a purpose, grabbing his bag and pulling out a ticket. As he approaches, he hands Patience a scroll and another ticket. “They didn’t have more in stock,” he informs us.

“Do you have your gold?” he questions Patience, who confirms it. Then, the Dark Mage interrupts, asking for a private talk. My eagerness takes over, “I want to join!”

Xenji insists on the whole party being there. With a flick, he lifts the blindness of the Dark Mage. “So, what do you want to talk about?” Xenji queries, and the Dark Mage opens up about the perceived wedge between us.

“I have a feeling there’s a wedge between us. I wanted to talk to you to resolve this. We’re a party, maybe friends, I hope…” the Dark Mage starts. “Well, there’s not really a wedge between us, but there is a wedge between the choice you made that made you more powerful. In my opinion, it’s too much of a risk. You know I have an oath; one of the oaths is that I’m there to protect my party. But I’m struggling with the fact that you might become our enemy. You now say that your Dark lady is okay with you now, but maybe she wants something in return, or that you turn against the party? I want to keep my oath,” Xenji explains.

“I’d like to know more about your oath. I’m not a paladin, but I also have an oath to protect the party,” the Dark Mage says. The conversation takes turns discussing trust, the justification of means, and the potential consequences of using dark powers. “I’ll promise you, I won’t use my powers lightly. But I want something in return,” the Dark Mage asserts, making trust a focal point. “Trust. If we cannot trust each other in the party, we have a big problem,” he emphasizes.

“Okay, but only if your corruption doesn’t grow in noticeable ways. If I notice Shar has more of a grip on you, then I’ll clearly say my trust is wavering,” Xenji cautiously agrees. “I’m myself and I’ll stay myself. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine,” assures the Dark Mage. The conversation takes a lighthearted turn, with Patience expressing thoughts on replacing Hallaster as the mad mage, and I inject a bit of cynicism.

The story unfolds as we discuss plans for the next day, including checking on the Shadowdusk family and possibly contacting Cross. After a night’s rest, the party engages in research, exploring options like Skullport, the Wizard Academy, connections with Cross, and a temple of Ogma. The Dark Mage opts for the Wizard Academy, and a message is sent to Cross seeking information about the Shadowdusk family.

Cross informs us he has more information, so we leave the base to head to Waterdeep to find him.

Cross looks at us, his greeting breaking the morning silence. The Dark Mage lingers behind as we receive Cross’s welcome. “Greetings, Mister Crossclaw. Patience contacted you?” Xenji initiates the conversation.

“Yes, Shadowdusk. Dirty incest family. What do you want to know?” Cross responds candidly. “Especially what to expect,” Xenji clarifies.

Cross’s gaze shifts to the Dark Mage. “You don’t seem okay,” he observes. The Dark Mage counters, “I feel better than I look.”

“You don’t look good. Okay, family, what do you want to know?” Cross inquires, addressing us collectively.

“We understood from the duergar…” Xenji starts, but Cross interjects, “You know those are evil?” Undeterred, Xenji explains our involvement with the duergar.

“What?!” Cross exclaims. “Can I just finish my sentence?” Xenji retorts. Unfazed, Cross takes out his instrument and starts playing. The conversation shifts to the Shadowdusks, their twisted history, and the dark powers associated with a mysterious book.

“We understood that we can expect some surprises from the Shadowdusks… who are they?” Xenji inquires. Cross delves into the family’s past, their fall from grace in Waterdeep, and the current rule by two paladins named Dezmyr and Zalthar. The revelation that the family is “sharrified” elicits a concerned shout from me. Shadowdusk emblem, a torch with three sparks, now twisted into a torch pointing down.

Xenji expresses gratitude to Cross, who reveals his desire to join the party in facing the Shadowdusks, haunted by the cold touch of Shar on his back. The Dark Mage interjects, “It’s not that cold as you think.”

Cross confesses, “I feel like I’m drawn into the grave,” sharing his efforts to combat the feeling. Xenji points to the Dark Mage as a cautionary example. Undeterred, Cross asserts, “I’ll die before I fall to Shar.” A palpable sadness hangs in the air as Cross returns to prayer, seeking solace or answers in the divine. We leave Cross be, and make our way back to the portal.

The Dark Mage decides to purchase a walking stick. Observing the shopkeeper’s struggle to reach the desired item, I take the initiative, flying up to retrieve it. The shopkeeper, in a squeaky old voice, remarks, “Soo, young one, you can fly!” I simply walk out, leaving the comment hanging in the air.

Patience joins the Dark Mage inside the shop. Meanwhile, I hear another voice, equally aged and somewhat exasperated, muttering, “Oh, great, more customers!”

Both Patience and the Dark Mage emerge, each equipped with a walking stick. Patience expresses a desire to visit a magic shop, leading us to acquire various items.

Returning to the dungeon, our next destination is the wizard academy. The prospect of traveling via Arcturia Doom is raised, prompting thoughts of possibly confronting Arcturia herself. The intricacies of the plan confuse me; the rapidly changing scenarios trigger a sense of disorientation. In group dynamics, especially with evolving plans, my limited experience becomes evident. Memories resurface of a challenging previous visit to the wizard academy, marked by unexpected difficulties.

Despite the uncertainties, we decide to venture through the portal to Arcturia Doom, set at level 14. It’s a realm I’ve never explored..

Stepping through the portal, we encounter Alussiarr. He extends his hand towards me, prompting the Dark Mage to address me by my full name, “Gwenneth.” I humorously suggest he could use any of my numerous other names. As the party introduces themselves, Alussiarr explains his predicament – imprisoned and subjected to Arcturia’s experiments. Sympathy arises, and the Dark Mage muses about the potential boredom of Alussiarr’s existence.

Xenji steps in with an introduction, asking if Alussiarr prefers this situation to hell. Alussiarr expresses his discontent, and the Dark Mage, sensing an opportunity to assist, inquires about Alussiarr’s intentions upon freedom. The discussion unfolds, revealing Alussiarr’s desire for a return to a life of adventure.

The Dark Mage presses for more details, questioning the duration of Alussiarr’s captivity. The answer is cryptically long. Alussiarr then proposes a deal, offering information about Arcturia’s spellbook in exchange for his freedom. Xenji negotiates the terms: Alussiarr must assume his true form, return to his plane, and deliver the spellbook to us.

With a deep breath, Alussiarr reveals his true form – that of a tiger. The attempt to charm me throughout the conversation becomes apparent, and I decide to disengage, stepping outside and leaning against the door in the dark.

As the others continue inside, a lengthy contract is established. Their mission involves locating the phylactery, eliminating Arcturia, and subsequently breaking the seal. Xenji, invoking the power of Mystra, breaks the seal on the door against which I had been leaning.

Walking alongside the tiger, we enter a room filled with shelves, seemingly devoid of books. Perplexed, the Dark Mage questions the apparent absence of literature. A spoken word from Alussiarr works like magic, materializing the books before our eyes. A subtle click reveals a secret door, and Alussiarr guides us to the phylactery.

Announcing his departure to his own plane, Alussiarr leaves us to explore the room’s contents. The Dark Mage delves into the spellbooks, urging us to take them all. Patience, on the lookout for Shadowdusk information, holds open the bag of holding. Xenji and I approach the phylactery cautiously, with Xenji grabbing it after I inspect for traps. The phylactery is secured in the bag of holding, triggering an unexpected event.

A statue Nalfeshnee breaks free, and the Dark Mage identifies a hand restraining it. A swift and powerful attack from me takes it down, with Urm’s attempts proving futile. Patience intervenes, pulling Urm out of harm’s way just as the Nalfeshnee teleports in front of Xenji and me. Xenji, fueled by determination, delivers a decisive smite, and Bigby’s hand crushes the foe’s head, leaving it lifeless before us.

With a casual remark about the interruption, the Dark Mage steers us back to the base, where Scarecrow is consulted on the phylactery’s destruction. While the Dark Mage and Patience organize the acquired books in the Dark Mage’s room, Xenji and I rush to Scarecrow.

Breathlessly, I recount the entire story, and we request the spell “legend lore,” willingly paying 250 gold. A peculiar vision of a mimic and the requirement of three days of consumption raise more questions. The answer, it seems, lies with Farryn, perhaps he knows someone with connections to getting us a mimic…

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