Having just defeated the shambling mound, the Crew resumed their search of the Forest Temple. They backtracked to the last room with the paintings to investigate the locked door. Asher managed to pick the lock, but the door only opened a few inches before being blocked by something inside. Justin extended an arm inside with his new shield and transferred his vision to see through the eyes of the shield. Inside the room he found a large number of clay pots shattered upon the floor, and the remains of a deceased priestess.
Forcing the door open, the Crew squeezed into the small, windowless room. They immediately recognized the clay pots as being the one depicted in the painting of the Goddess offering the sick man a cure. Searching the room yielded 2 unbroken clay pots. Investigating the priestess revealed that she had seemingly died from drowning.
The Crew left the clay pots in the throne room for safe keeping as they continued their investigation of the temple. The next door they found was also locked, but Asher made quick work of it. Beyond the door was a small room with a simple bed, a bookshelf, and a desk. Slumped over the desk was another priestess in slightly more decorated robes. Senda checked the body and found she had starved to death, and that she left a note explaining how passing adventurers had tainted the water and driven the goddess insane.
Peng noticed a second note on the ground beside the desk stating that the being they thought was the goddess was, in fact, something else entirely.
The books on the shelf were all written in Sylvan, which Finnian, fortunately, spoke. He managed to find a handwritten passage explaining the ritual for the creation of the needed healing potion.
The next room was unlocked and the Crew immediately noticed a heavy smell of mold and mildew. The room seemed unusually damp, and three other bodies lay in their beds and upon the floor. Inspection of the bodies showed that they had all drowned. Across the room was a door, which the Crew took note of before continuing to investigate the temple.
Continuing down the hall past the last room was a waiting room. As Senda stepped into it he was immediately attacked by living vines. He stepped out of the room, informed the Crew, and they decided to leave that area alone.
Returning to the room of drowned Priestesses, the Crew exited the temple through the side door and discovered a statue of the goddess Eldath. There was a collection plate with several coins at the feet of the statue that the Crew respectfully left in place. Looking North the Crew noticed a shimmering young woman sitting at the edge of a pond. They called to her but she did not respond. They called in several languages but none elicited any response or acknowledgment.
Justin approached the water, across from the woman and as he did so, the woman finally reacted, slipping into the water and disappearing. Justin immediately stepped away from the water and a moment later the woman resurfaced where he had been.
With closer inspection, the Crew realized that this woman was a water elemental, and that the water she resided in seemed to be heavily tainted. Justin had a feeling that he could rid the pool of water of its tainted blood, but that he would need some rest before doing so. The Crew set camp a few hundred feet away from the temple and rested for the evening.
In the middle of the night, Peng took notice of a pixie visiting the camp. Peng watched as it moved from person to person. When he spoke up, the Pixie took notice of him and zipped forward, dodged Peng’s hands, and poked at his water pouch before flying off into the night. Peng woke Justin to ask him to check on his water. Justin noted that it had turned into a mild poison… specifically, wine. Justin, Senda, Peng, and Thrall’s water pouches were all changed to wine.
Early the next morning the Crew returned to the pool outside the Temple. The elemental was not visible, but when Peng sent an Illusion of Asher to the water’s edge, the Elemental sprung up and tried to drag it into the water. Justin kept his distance from the water’s edge and cast Purify. He sensed that it had made a difference, but it wasn’t 100% effective. He cast Purify a second time and could tell that that did the trick. The water was pure again and rid of the blood.
The Water Elemental surfaced and examined the Crew. The Crew could sense an immense sadness from the Elemental. The elemental took one of the clay pots, filled it with water, and left it at the water’s edge for the Crew before disappearing into the depths.
Collecting the pot of water, the Crew moved toward the Silver Domed rotunda. As they approached, Senda mentioned the vines growing on the pillars resembled those in the waiting room. Senda, Peng, and Asher approached and assaulted the vines while Justin and Finnian performed the ritual at the silver alter at the center.
Between the two of them, Justin and Finnian finished the ritual in less than a minute and retreated. About the same time, the rest of the Crew managed to whack the weeds and joined the other two.
With the potion collected, the Crew wasted no time in returning to Sallen… after pouring a little into their never-ending flask.
Back in Sallen, the Crew dispersed the potion. A very small amount per person immediately reduced their fever and left them noticeably feeling better.
Justin insisted upon examining the well, and found the water to be clean and untainted.
The Crew went to the local inn, and with no staff present, helped themselves to empty rooms and baths.
The following morning, a soldier was waiting in the lobby, informing them that Rhincor, the general of the army, wished to speak to them. He escorted Justin, Peng, and Senda to Rhincor’s tent.
Rhincor greeted the group and thanked them for their help in curing the town. He presented them with a trunk containing a thousand gold, then asked if they were interested in hunting down Delwyn Rheins. The group said they weren’t interested in Mercenary work, but if they crossed paths with Delwyn they would send word. When Senda mentioned he was heading to the capital to escort a young man to the city, Rhincor seemed unusually curious and suspicious.
As the group returned to the inn they were confronted by the Man in Black they had last seen in Mic. The man asked what Rhincor had wanted with them. The group didn’t share, but asked what he was after. The Man in Black said he wanted his dagger returned to him, and if he received it he would let the halfling live. The Group agreed to the terms, approached Asher, and convinced him to return the dagger.
Justin remained with the man in black and tried to make things awkward. When asked about a name, the man reluctantly gave one; Adam.
Senda and Peng returned with the Dagger and handed it over after making Adam promise to leave Asher alone.
Adam made it known that he was aware of the Crew’s exploits. He mentioned the Key from the Rheins mansion and when asked about Mordhull, he suggested the Crew check Delwyn’s Journals, specifically the entry at August 14th. He also stated that he was an ally of Delwyn Rheins, and that Delwyn was not as evil as many believed him to be. “If he did those things, I’m sure he had his reasons.”
Before departing, Adam gave one last piece of advice; “Don’t let Rhincor find that boy.”
The group immediately decided to leave the city. They informed Finnian of their intent to leave ASAP and suggested he find a way to disguise himself. Finnian, fortunately, had the Disguise Self spell and used it effectively. The Crew left the city, heading north.
Just outside the city, the Crew confronted Finnian about his identity. Rhincor seemed very interested in knowing who was being escorted to the capital, and for what purposes, and Adam seemed concerned about Rhincor locating Finnian.
About a half hour after leaving the city, Finnian discovered a hidden map on the pages for August 14th in the journals of Delwyn. The map marked the location of Mordhull. Fi
nnian shared this information with the Crew and expressed a desire to go there to seek answers. Argrim demanded that they not delay any further and that the Crew continue their journey to the Capital. Finnian overrode Argrim, stating that he was the one who hired the Crew and is paying them, and that he wanted answers.
Senda questioned Finnian about his motivations in heading to the Capital City, then addressed his belief that Finnian was, in fact, the heir to the throne. Finnian confessed that Senda’s suspicions were accurate and requested that he, and the crew, remain silent on the matter.
A road to the west lead the Crew along the river, then deeper into the forest. After a night in the woods, the Crew continued and saw the mountains as they left the woods behind. Peng flew ahead and reported finding a large stone door a few thousand feet up. The crew set up at the base of a trail. Argrim refused to hike with them and opted to stay behind with the cart. He cast a dome of invisibility around the area and sat by a fire.
The Crew had to pitch camp three quarters of the way up the mountain. A strange goat triggered a rock slide but no one was injured. Justin noticed what appeared to be big, heavy breaths coming from a creature under a bridge a few hundred feet overhead. He kept his eye on it through the night but it never moved. The next morning the crew approached the bridge cautiously. Peng cast Pass Without Trace to give everyone a big boost in their stealth and the crew passed the bridge without alerting anyone or anything. They continued up the path to the stone doors.
Justin tried the key found in the Rhein’s house and the door swung open. The Crew entered. After a brief descent down a dark hallway the Crew entered a large chamber with almost 2,000 gold sitting on a table. They also noticed four full suits of dwarven heavy armor standing in the corners of the room. Finnian read some dwarven script that stated that friendship would be tested. Justin strictly informed Asher that the gold was not to be touched.
The door to the right lead the Crew into what seemed to be an old fighting arena. There was a closed gate, and an open hallway, but the crew backtracked and tried the other door in the main chamber, which lead to another hallway leading deeper down into the mountain. At the end of the hall was a large welcoming chamber. Trying the first door on the left the Crew found a small dining hall, then a kitchen. Justin discovered a secret door inside the kitchen which held a spiraling staircase.
At the bottom of the stairs the Crew heard voices. One of the voices seemed to be sharing current events with the other. Senda snuck to the edge of the wall and peeked around the corner. The room was a large library and at the center were two individuals. One was the man in black, Adam. The other was a young man in his early 20s who resembled a younger Edmund Rheins.
Senda stepped out into view and correctly guessed the young man was Delwyn.
Delwyn did not seem angry to see them, but rather delighted to have them as he had heard of their exploits from Adam. He invited them to dinner to discuss life.
During dinner many questions were asked, and answered. Delwyn explained that he had uncovered a secret of the king; Alistair Grey was the same man who conquered the island 300 years ago, despite the fact that there is a very clear succession as the throne was passed from King to son. He revealed he had found evidence that the original Alistair was a master warlock who had developed a ritual to allow him to forcefully trade bodies with another being. He has, for 300 years, been allowing his first born son to grow to age, then stealing his body. When Delwyn discovered this he aimed to put an end to the King’s terrible reign. He plotted to kill the king before he could make another transfer. To buy time, Delwyn had Lawrence take care of the current Heirs.
Alistair caught wind of Delwyn’s intentions and faked his own death in a way that made Delwyn seem guilty of it. When asked about a timeline, the Crew noted that Alistair died about the same time Finnian said Argrim appeared. Delwyn asked about Argrim and was informed that Argrim was the King’s brother. Delwyn then informed the Crew that Alistair had no siblings… at this point, everyone realized that Argrim was, in fact, Alistair Grey, King of Lochinvar, and one of the most powerful Wizards known, and that he was luring Finnian back to the throne to complete the body-swap ritual.
The Crew discussed how to proceed with the information given to them as Finnian had a reunion with his Father and Grandfather.