Chapter 2, Part III: Spiders and Birds and Ghosts, oh my!

Following the near-massacre in the kitchen, the party made their way into the north room, a cluttered storage room filled with all kinds of bits and bobs. Xerxes decided to test the torch and discovered that it was enchanted with a continual flame spell, providing light without burning. Vance sifted through the books, which were in a language he didn't recognize, and noticed that the pages and covers were deteriorating. Meanwhile, Nohki searched through the carpets and found another tapestry, this time with a map of Fynali, marked with multiple gems.

Tapestry depicting five pieces scattered over Fynali

Drez, examining some of the armor, accidentally dropped a helmet, revealing a hollow floorboard underneath it. Underneath it, he found a small chest in the cavity under the floor. Vance examined the armor in the room and concluded that it was over 1000 years old, fashioned using ancient techniques that he recognized from his theater days.

Drez handed the chest over to Bartholomew, who opened it to find six vials, three filled with red liquid and three with blue. After returning to the tapestry room and placing the new tapestry beside the others, the party could feel the hum of magic confirming the tapestry's placement.

They returned to the dining room filled with spiders, and Xerxes detected movement on the ceiling. Vance used dancing lights to reveal a layer of pulsating egg sacs, and Nohki transformed into a giant spider while Bart navigated her way to the other door using her acrobatics skills.

As she landed on the table, Nohki sensed the egg sacs pulsing faster. Bartholomew saw another nest in the western corner under a thick cluster of webs. The party urged her to keep going, and she made it to the door, noticing a hole in the south-western wall that was large enough to fit the party if they tried to pass through one-by-one. The rest of the party followed the path of least resistance around all of the webbing to get to the door.

As they entered the bedroom, Firebrook noticed a coat of arms with seven birds in a semicircle and an eighth, larger bird in the center. He deduced that the crest likely belonged to a well-respected house or group. The group also found a journal with Celestial writing on the desk, as well as a statue of Saint Arby, Patron of the Meats.

The party investigated a suspicious chair, and Firebrook suggested moving it into the spider room so that, if it was animated, it would attack the spiders for them. Vance used an illusion to create a fake wall around the chair to block it from view and encouraged the group to move on. They all entered the bathroom, with the exception of spider-form Nohki. When Vance crossed the room for a quick whiz break, the door shut behind them and the bathtub bubbled, releasing a poisonous gas into the room.

Nohki noticed the door slam shut behind them and began to attempt to open it up and get them out. He jostled the door as Drez pushed from the other side. Their combined efforts made them able to knock it down and prevent the poison from seeping into the bedroom. Drez used frostbite on the tub to freeze the water inside and stop the gas from spreading for the moment. After fully inspecting the bathroom and finding nothing of note, Firebrook mended the door to keep the poison from spilling out into the rest of the fortress and the party moved on.

They saw a hole in the wall of the bedroom leading into tight, dark tunnels. They began to squeeze through the passageways, Nohki's web sense letting them know they were not headed directly into danger.

As he contemplated which direction to take, firebrook identified the potions they found, with the red vials being health potions and the blue ones potions of mana. Firebrook, Vance, and Nohki all drank a potion of mana to restore some of their magic, and Drez downed one of the vials of healing. Bartholomew took one of the healing vials and kept the last on her person.

Xerxes gave Vance a healing potion to cure his wounds, and Nohki used his web sense to lead the party away from the dining room where one of the tunnels led. They made their way through the other tunnel filled with spider webs to a dead end packed with crates and an old carpet. Firebrook noticed a vial in one of the crates on top of the carpet and opened it to find two vials of green potion and an herbalism kit.

The party opened the second crate, revealing a pile of foul-smelling clothing. As Xerxes tried to move the clothing, a rat jumped out and bit him. The party collected the carpet, which they identified as the final tapestry, and then began to make their way back through the tunnels.

Tapestry depicting five pieces scattered over Fynali with dark roots growing from them

While the majority of the party was stealthy, Xerxes stumbled and fell into a collection of webbing, disturbing a cluster of small spiders which emerged from the webs to bite and poison him. To defend himself and the party, Xerxes cast a fire bolt, which burned up the arachnids, but also began to quickly catch the webs on fire and create waves of smoke in the unventilated underground area.

They rushed to the tapestry room, having to safely navigate around the dining room which was rapidly filling with smoke and fire. Luckily, the party was skilled enough to maneuver the hazards and emerged safely into the tapestry room to hang the final tapestry. Once hung, all four of the tapestries on the wall began to animate. Most significantly, the final tapestry which depicted Fynali with the beginnings of black cracks and roots, animated to show the world being slowly consumed by black roots which eventually overtook and shattered the world completely.

The final tapestry in movement, showing the roots covering Fyanli

The party surmised that the images on the tapestry were depicting some kind of influence from Solana that would begin to destroy the world.

As they contemplated the implications, the chitinous coating on the massive tree in the room began to crack, and a circular metal object, tangled in branches was revealed.

Two ghosts appeared and they made a deal with the party: if the group could defeat them in combat, they would be granted the artifact they were seeking. The party accepted the challenge, drawing their weapons and preparing for the fight.

The ghosts conjured four undead adventurers to fight alongside them. The battle was fierce, with swords clashing and spells flying through the air. Firebrook, a skilled cleric, found himself possessed by one of the ghosts. But his earworm symbiote, a strange creature that he had put in his ear, gave him the strength to cast the ghost out of his body.

Drez, an expert ranger, took down one of the undead warriors with a single shot from his crossbow. The second ghost then possessed Nohki, the party's druid who had transformed into a powerful dire wolf. With Nohki under its control, the ghost brutally attacked Drez, nearly killing him.

In a desperate move, Drez ran across the battlefield, dodging blows and avoiding undead warriors to reach Bart, the party's rogue who was holding the last remaining health potion. With the potion in hand, Drez swigged it back to regain some health and keep on fighting.

Xerxes, the party's sorcerer, called upon the power of chaos and unleashed a deadly bolt of energy that struck down the last ghost. Bart then took aim with her bow and fired an arrow straight into the heart of a mage, killing him instantly.

With the battle won, the party was gifted the ancient artifact they had been seeking. The beat-up circular metal shield had been hidden within a nearby tree, and it was now released by the ghostly spirits, who had deemed the party strong and worthy enough to possess it.

Completed: April 2023