Wild Abandon

On a Wing and a Prayer

Chapter 17

A few days later, the renovations to the party's githyanki spelljammer are completed, and Jaraltanth Kalparnius summons them up to Brentil Keep for the unveiling.

Self-playing instruments give the tinker a drum roll as he draws back a sheet to reveal…
THE MIND FLYER! The name magically writes itself on the prow. The figurehead has been carved into the shape of a myconid (much to Sporp's amazement), and the on-deck dance floor is clearly visible. Jaraltanth shows off the S.A.I.L.S. (Sudden Air-powered Initiating Liftoff System), though he points out that it will need a proper power source to work properly, perhaps a bound air elemental. Rorik Law says that Grekas could probably have helped them with that, and wonders aloud where the wizard has gotten off to.

The party thank the people of Brentil Keep for their hospitality as the ship takes off amid a flurry of magical pyrotechnics.

Cripple Talth gives Mye-kuhl Jancer directions to the monastery he seeks, which lies on the island of Procellas. The church of Ilmater hasn't heard from the isolated island in months, and Talth volunteered to contact them because he seeks a specific piece of lore kept in the library there. Rorik wonders what other knowledge the monks might hold.

Meanwhile, Jimothy Jones begins training Elspeth Varkestone in the ways of the paladin, telling her that the most important thing to a paladin is their oath. He runs through a checklist (honor, duty, etc.), and Elspeth vows to uphold each in turn. Talth blesses her with holy oils and binds the dwarf's hands in the custom of Ilmater as she kneels so Jimothy can knight her.

Below deck, Nylah Ventus puts the finishing touches on a very special piece of jewelry that she's been working: a headdress that incorporates Krog's soul gem. Much like Quagmiran's ring allowed the wearer to speak with the Prince of Tindomeel, she hopes that this will let her speak with Krog. She drapes it around her antlers, says "Hello?", and hears a confused grunt in her mind…

"N-Nylah?"

The tiefling is exuberant to hear the orc's voice again, and tells Krog about all that's happened since he died. While he is kind of disappointed not to have joined his gods after so glorious a death, Krog admits that a second chance at life doesn't sound half-bad. Nylah tells him that they'll need to fetch him a new body first however, and the orc suggests something strong enough to "snap that goody-two-shoes goliath like a twig".

She also talks to Wave a bit. The trident has been thinking about Diancastra, and believes that although Nylah's deal with the goddess protects her from Beshaba's wrath, the Maiden of Misfortune has begun targeting the people around her instead—her party, her carnie family. Wave suggests that converting more people to Diancastra's worship will allow her to better protect EVERYONE.

The Mind Flyer follows the Aldur River south, to where it pours out into Corpsepickers' Lagoon. At the head of the bay sits the town of Kalfsgate, tucked at the foot of the sheltering sea cliffs beside a marvel of dwarven engineeringThe Archlight. Shaped like a warrior, this stone colossus spans the distance between the mainland and a rocky pinnacle just offshore, its head housing the area's famous lighthouse. Jancer laments the fact that they no longer have Brublind aboard to tell them more about it. Rorik Law asks, "Who?"

Pleedleplop and Sporp are both amazed at the oceans of the world above, and the myconid joins Pleedle in reciting a prayer to the Sea Mother as the kuo-toa basks in the salty breeze.

An hour passes before the island of Procellas comes into view. Its beaches are littered with countless shipwrecks that make the party let out a sigh of relief that the Mind Flyer can, well, FLY. Elspeth spots "flying ladies" fluttering about the debris-strewn cliffs, and Rorik is happy to recollect local stories of man-eating seabirds, drowned spirits, and fishmen with a penchant for dragging hapless townsfolk into the cold depths of the sea (Pleedleplop is confused by that last one).

Rather than draw the attention of these harpies, the party decide to take a rowboat ashore, Pleedleplop and the others keeping the ship a safe distance off-shore (unable to fly without an arcane spellcaster to man the helm). Sporp is obviously frightened by Rorik's tales, and though he acts like he's excited to go, seizes the first opportunity to stay onboard. Jimothy and Rorik are able to muscle the party's way through the surf to the shoreline.

Rorik, ever-curious, sends Enrico to check out the harpy nests for anything of value, but the raven is spotted by one of the monsters and stuffed into a bag. Rorik summons the bird back to his side, freaking out its captor if the sudden scream is anything to go by. The party begins climbing a flight of eroded stairs up the cliff-side towards the monastery, Talth riding on Jimothy's back. Rorik is the only one unable to make the climb all the way, getting a helping hand from Nylah.

About half-way up, they find themselves standing before a disused rope bridge (all of the planks are gone, but one of the ropes remains). Jimothy tries uprooting a nearby tree to serve as a makeshift replacement, but angry squirrels begin pelting him with their nuts in retaliation. Nylah sicks Algernon on them, while Jancer materializes his githyanki silver sword and silently slices the tree down. Jimothy goes across first, but rolls off the log halfway, and is left hanging on the rope. It snaps under his weight, but the goliath is able to swing himself up onto the far side before it falls to the bottom of the ravine. Jancer sends his crawling claw buddy climbing down to grab it, but realizes that it has its hand full, so gives it a boost back up using his 'Mage Hand'. The party toss the rope over to Jimothy and navigate the gap.

It is getting dark by the time the party reach the monastery doors.

Jimothy draws his glowing Mace of Disruption as they head inside, revealing the dusty chamber beyond. Moonlight pouring through a large window overlooking the beach far below illuminates the symbol of Ilmater engraved on the floor. Talth is sad that the monastery appears to have been abandoned, but when they stumble upon a library/reliquary still fully-stocked with lore, he thanks Ilmater. Jancer is drawn to a metal box engraved with bones that Talth tells him contains 'The Skull of Saint Lenore', who tried to bridge the gap between the warring peoples of Korvea before being executed as "an elf sympathizer" by a human lord. Nylah wants to open it, but Talth stops her, telling her that it is a sacred artifact, and "must not be profaned!"

While the rest of the party begin preparing the library's contents for transport, Jimothy and Rorik (who figures he'll have plenty of time to study later) continue deeper into the monastery. They find themselves in a cloister, and Jimothy carefully opens a sliding door, decorated in Ilmatari symbols, leading to a workout room. Through a hole in the ceiling, the moon is visible. The paladin chuckles when he sees the rotating training posts that line the hall, saying, "I remember these," as he pushes one directly into Rorik's face, knocking the human onto his ass. Piper flutters onto the top of the device as Jimothy spins it again, and she topples off, dizzy, the goliath catching her mid-air.

The duo hear Jancer call them back, and Rorik casts 'Mending' on his glasses and leaves. Before Jimothy can follow however, two ghouls leap at him from the rafters. One breaks its filthy-looking nails on his armor, but the other finds a weakness and scratches him. The paladin pulls his Mace of Disruption back out and vaporizes the undead just as they realize the mistake they made.

Back in the entry chamber, Jancer has discovered that the symbol of Ilmater on the floor hid a staircase, after pouring hydra blood onto it. Jimothy brushes some ash off his armor and heads down first. At the bottom of the well, the party discover coffins containing the gnawed bones of the monastery's former inhabitants. The paladin feels that one coffin in particular radiates great evil, and opens it to find the partially-decomposed body of a fat monk, a macuahuitl held in his hands. He grabs the weapon and preemptively hits what he expected to be a zombie, but the newly-mangled corpse doesn't budge. Suddenly, from shadowy crevices in the walls of the well, there are horrible hisses as more ghouls begin to emerge around them.

The party hurry back up the stairs to seize the high ground as the undead crawl up towards them. Jimothy, Rorik, and Jancer begin fighting the climbing ghouls. Piper's hair stands on end and the monkey flies off the paladin's shoulder to press herself against the window as Jimothy is suddenly attacked by something else—a force of pure necrotic energy that blasts through his body and nearly sucks the soul from his body. Nylah throws up a 'Leomund's Tiny Hut' around Talth and herself as another group of ghouls breaks through the library windows.

Jimothy turns to face his attacker, and finds himself looking into red eyes filled with malice. He uses 'Divine Smite' on the wraith, forcing it to flee or face his wrath again. Jancer tries to incinerate one of the ghouls with a 'Fire Bolt', but misses, and accidentally catches the old wooden building on fire.

Rorik heads towards the library to save the books and nearly runs into the other ghouls. Jimothy charges into the wall separating the two rooms and sends it toppling over onto the undead. Jancer casts 'Animate Dead' on some bones collected from the well, and his new skeleton pal leaps forth to engage its ravenous brethren.

Seeing Piper penned in by fear of the wraith and of the spreading fire, Jimothy rushes over to help her (remembering his vow never to lose another animal friend). Seeing no other escape, the goliath busts open the window and lets Piper fly out into the night air. Just then, a beautiful song washes over the party from outside…

THE HARPIES!

Rorik is entranced by the song (as is Enrico!) and begins making a bee-line for the window, tumbling down into the well in his blind march towards death. The wraith attacks Jancer, and the necrodancer gives chase as it retreats across the cloister, trying to hit it with another 'Fire Bolt'. The flames leave a hole in the wraith's form, but only serve to spread the growing blaze now engulfing the monastery. Nylah drops her magical shelter, stabs a ghoul with Wave, and begins putting out fires with the trident's magic as Talth crawls under a table for safety.

Jimothy summons Peter the Griffon and leaps out the window and onto his back, diving down and grabbing Piper seconds before a harpy grabs her in its filthy talons. Rorik climbs the stairs back out of the well and walks headlong out the smashed window and over the cliff, heedless of the danger.

Meanwhile, Jancer catches up to the wraith and slices at it with his silver sword—a weapon that it is vulnerable to! The spirit curses him and retreats once again. Before he can give chase once more, the half-elf falls prey to the harpysong and walks through licking flames towards it.

Peter catches Rorik in his talons while Jimothy attacks the harpies. He kills one, but then the wraith appears to strike at him while he's distracted. The other three harpies join in on the assault and Jimothy falls unconscious. The harpies turn to one another and let out a cackle of delight, but behind them there is a "NYET" as a very angry Jimothy snaps back to life (NAT 20 DEATH SAVE!).

Jancer suddenly snaps out of his trance and conjures a 'Lightning Bolt' that roasts the three surprised harpies in an instant. The balcony he's standing on begins to give way beneath him, but the half-elf jumps clear as it collapses, joining the debris down below. The wraith comes around to finish Jimothy off once and for all, but Peter is too fast for it. Rorik launches an 'Eldritch Blast' that wounds the spirit, then Jimothy flies in, his Mace of Disruption raised, and, in a fiercesome stroke of divine radiance, disintegrates the evil creature!

Nylah puts out the last of the fires, and the party move the assembled relics from the library to the clifftop cloister. Across the courtyard, they spot the steaming mouth of a cave (Talth points out that most Ilmatari monasteries are built near hot springs), from which Jimothy senses an evil even more palpable than that of the wraith. They take a breather before continuing on. Jancer identifies Jimothy's new macuahuitl as a variant on a Sword of Sharpness.

Meanwhile Rorik, and Nylah sneak off to take a peek at the 'Skull of Saint Lenore', which looks like a lion skull dipped in silver, with swirls embossed on the metallic surface. As they touch it, it floats into the air and begins speaking, calling itself a "mimir". They ask it a few questions, and realize that it is a data storage device, used by one of the monks as an audio diary.

The duo learn that the monastery was completely cut-off from the mainland by a terrible storm nearly half a year ago. Their food stores flooded, leaving the monks with little to eat for weeks. They endured this ordeal until… in their desperation, they began eating their own dead in order to survive. It wasn't long after that that the remaining monks began killing the living to keep their bellies filled as well, emulating the harpies who feasted upon bodies that washed ashore. The speaker insists that Ilmater whispered to him that the sacrifice of his fellows was for the greater good.

Nylah also discovers a chest of buried treasure (Wave is delighted, "Ah, just like the old days!") in the cloister. Within, the party find a fat stack of gold, an ornate ribbon of blood-red fabric, decorated with quotes from Ilmatari scripture; three carnelians shaped like water droplets; a cloak that billows without wind; and a wavy cutlass with a handle wrapped in snake-skin and bearing a pair of fangs. Rorik recognizes the blade and grabs it—this is Snakebite!

Braving the steam (which swirls with demonic faces), the party enter the heart of the monastery. On an island in the largest of the boiling pools within the cave, they find a statue of the Lord on the Rack, defiled by foul magics. The wings of an albatross have been lashed to the statue's back, and a feathery head covers Ilmater's own. A ritual knife fashioned from a bird's beak sits at the statue's feet in a pool of blood.

Jimothy is enraged and tears the bird bits off of his god's likeness, while Nylah cleans away the blood using Wave. Jancer tells them that this alone will not be enough, for this is the handiwork of Pazuzu, a demon lord served by evil flying creatures who delights in corrupting the pure and innocent. Just then, Cripple Talth remembers a purification ritual that might clear this fiendish miasma, but they need three things—the Tears of the Suffering, the Blood of the Martyr, and the Bonds of the Faithful.

Upon hearing this, Jimothy Jones drops to his knees, draws his macuahuitl, and, without hesitation, runs himself through!

Everyone else is shocked. Piper begins crying. Talth kneels down, the ornate ribbon they found amongst the buried treasure in hand, and wraps it around the wrists of the paladin and his flying monkey, binding them together. Jimothy's blood mingles with Piper's tears, and there is suddenly a pained roar that reverberates through the cavern as Pazuzu's taint is banished.

Nylah casts 'Revivify' on Jimothy, and the party carry the unconscious goliath and the monastery's holy relics back to their waiting ship.

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