Rorik knows that, if they're looking for information on Grekas, the Order of the Broken Tower should have it, a claim that Queen Cora confirms. Jaraltanth explains that the party's new ship is also safely harbored in Vesh, and should be ready for its maiden voyage!
Meanwhile, Brublind finds himself drifting through a landscape of dancing colors, a voice echoing to him from betwixt the cavalcade,
"You have matured well as a slaad, Brublind, but you still have a lot of growing to do. Unlock your power. Go to Limbo. Seek out Renbuu…"
The transmuter is startled awake on a beach outside Kalfsgate, his belly full of mushrooms. An old man who had been poking at him with a stick runs away, horrified, while Brublind stands and makes his way back up to the Archlight.
Before the party can depart for the big city, they are cornered by the Master of Gales, who has been told by Saladesh about the terms of the party's alliance with Graz'zt. Namely: giving him Euroclydon.
The old salt is somewhat incensed by the party's decision, noting that, ever since the living hurricane disappeared from the seas off of Tiamat's Teeth, Vesh has sent out mercenary pirate-hunters to "reclaim" the shipping lanes. The Master of Gales points out that he named them 'Hurricane Kings' because he believed they could defend "our ancient and noble brotherhood" from such predators, but handing Euroclydon over to the Dark Prince isn't his idea of helping.
"It is one thing to earn nature's respect, that you might call upon its fury as you would an old friend; but it is another entirely to treat the raging storm like a child's toy!"
Mye-kuhl Jancer assures the druid that they have no intention of letting Graz'zt keep the segment of the Rod they gave him, and that Euroclydon will return. They'll definitely put their foot down on this pirate-hunting business while in Vesh, as well. The Master of Gales is uncertain, but is placated for now.
The party take a teleportation circle to the Broken Tower, and are met by a contingent of Blades—the Order's defense force of eldritch knights. Rorik geeks the fuck out as they are escorted to the main council chambers within the titanic structure.
The council is impressed by the party's progress, and hopes that their quest for the Rod of Seven Parts will be fruitful, as the result of the planes unraveling as they seem to be at present would be catastrophic. They explain that Grekas led an expedition of Seekers south to Tandurad in hopes of helping the party over a month ago, and that they haven't heard from him since. An old dwarf woman—Rori Shatur—grimaces at these words. As it turns out, she is the head archivist, and raised Grekas herself, essentially making her his mother. While she trusts in his skills with magic, she worries about him.
An eladrin with stark white hair and a scowl—Alnhelm Illes—explains that magic might have proven to be more of a hindrance to the expedition than a blessing where they went, as Tandurad is ruled by a group of druids who have banned the use of magic. The Order has tried to send expeditions to explore the ruins there before and been rebuffed. Given the stakes, Grekas insisted on going despite the risks. A tiefling man with red skin, goat horns, and a black goatee—Chadwick Malatesta—points out that he, Cora, Jaraltanth, and Grekas were all members of the Sixteen Rapiers back in the day, and, of all of them, Grekas was definitely the plan-man. So, even if things went wrong, he has no doubt the wizard had at least a few contingencies in place. If the party can find and help him however, it would be much appreciated. If not, then finding the Rod piece is still of paramount importance.
After the meeting, a member of the council (a large tiefling man with a mane of white hair, black skin, and four red compound eyes) who had been relatively quiet approaches the party. He introduces himself as Rokesh Dar, one of the merchant-princes of Vesh. He explains in hushed tones that he and the party share a common benefactor in Graz'zt, and that he has used his influence in the city to keep the pirate-hunters off of their backs. He also offers weapons and mercenaries to defend their city on his own dime while they are away, telling them that Cora can vouch for his good intentions, as he helped secure her own reign as ruler of Brentil Keep. Brublind refuses however, not trusting mercenaries that he hasn't paid for himself.
Cora and Jaraltanth catch up with Chadwick, with the gnome telling him to say hello to the kids for him, "I hope they haven't forgotten me after all these years!"
"How could they ever forget their Uncle Jaraltanth?!"
While out and about, prepping for their voyage to Tandurad, Jancer bumps into Liana Alamode and her daughter, Annie! Liana invites him to be a guest-instructor at her new dance school, as his actions at Brentil Keep are what inspired her. He agrees, and goes around town to spread the word. When he shows up that night, Liana opens the door for Jancer and Elspeth, who are then followed in by over eighty new students! The snack table doesn't survive for more than five minutes, and Liana even has to grab more sign-up sheets. She thanks Jancer and Elspeth for all that they've done for her and her daughter.
After chatting with Rori Shatur and several students at the Broken Tower, Breezy asks Rorik if she can stay behind and enroll at the magic academy. He is torn, as he doesn't want to let her out of his sight, but he also wants her to grow and flourish as a free individual. He says it is her choice. She decides to stay behind. She gives Rorik and Sporp and everyone else hugs, telling them that the next time she sees them, maybe she'll truly understand her own magic.
The next morning, Jaraltanth takes the party down to Rokesh Dar's personal shipyard, where he unveils their new ship. After some debate over what to name it, Brublind walks up and uses 'Fabricate' to carve the name 'THE WAVE DANCER' onto the fore. Their stores loaded with Malatesta wine, wood + iron that Brublind bought, and plenty more, they strike out past the island of Whitetower, over the briny blue towards Tandurad.
The Black Antlers sail towards Whorlstone Island. They pass by one of the Veshan pirate-hunters they heard about, busy sinking another ship. They let the party pass unmolested as they drop anchor near the estuary that Brolaf took them several months ago.
Elspeth, Osana Greentide, Pleedleplop, and Torutori sunbathe on the beach, while the rest of the party use a dinghy to go for a little family fishing trip. Cora tries clawing at the water, but isn't able to get any fish. Jimothy thinks this is adorable. Rorik shows Sporp proper fishing techniques, "The trick is too be real quiet so the fish don—"
Mye-kuhl Jancer sends 'Magic Missiles' ripping into the water, sending dead fish bobbing up to the surface. "Now that's how you fish, baby!" Sporp claps excitedly, Rorik grimaces, and fires off an 'Eldritch Blast' into the water. It misses. Brublind is the one to catch the biggest fish, however, as the transmuter has been reading up ever since they left Vesh. Jancer accuses him of casting 'Enlarge' on it, but the slaad swears it is au naturel.
Just then, they see Madame Zyrmina flying over the swamp in her flying alligator-pulled cauldron. Brublind says that he's heard about her, and wants his fortune read. It seems that luck is on the transmuter's side, as Zyrmina reads nothing but good omens for his foreseeable future. Jancer flirts with her a bit, and they go back to her hut and do the horizontal tango on a bed of marsh grass and human bones. The necrodancer leaves the witch exhausted.
Cora gets seasick, and Jimothy and Elspeth take care of her. Elspeth gets puked on. Blinky the blink dog rests their head on Cora's lap to take care of her.
Rorik takes a bite and feels his ears become pointed. The eldritch knight suddenly hears screams from the galley and charges in to find Torutori chopping up the fish they caught the day before. He asks what's happened, but she gives him a confused look as she brings the cleaver down on the fish again, causing it to let out another scream. Rorik notices Pleedleplop in a barrel, fingers in his ears—"It's best not to listen, my friend."—Rorik joins him.
Jimothy's fruit is pretty bland at first, but every bite becomes more and more flavorful, until everything tastes amazing for the paladin. The fish dinner that night is unbelievable, and Cora's kisses are heavenly. It reminds him of how good the candy tasted in Baba Yaga's hut.
Jancer eats a fruit and is suddenly overcome by a berserker rage. He leaps onto Sporp and begins throttling the myconid, enraged that he didn't get another type of fruit. Elspeth is able to pull him off, and he then proceeds to go berserk on her. Sporp thinks this is some new kind of dance and joins in. Elspeth sighs and casts 'Shield of Faith' on herself. Blinky the blink dog starts barking to make sure everyone is alright.
Meanwhile, Brublind is the luckiest man alive and feels all of his faculties heighten as he eats his orange. Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Constitution, Wisdom, Charisma—all of them become a little bit better for the next week. The transmuter is glad that Zyrmina was right. Everyone else is dumbfounded.
The party come across a village of island-dwelling orcs and go ashore. Jancer is astonished to find that over half the village is made up of zombies, and Rorik correctly assumes that the orcs raise the bodies of their ancestors to do menial labor. The outsiders are welcomed to take part in the tribe's most honored tradition—The Dinosaur Races!
- Jimothy – Velociraptor
- Rorik – Triceratops
- Jancer – Pteranadon
- Brublind – Tyrannosaurus (polymorphed)
- Osana – Hadrosaur
The race begins on the beach, with the riders winding their way through the local tide pools. Rorik and Jimmy send Enrico/Piper to harass the other, causing both of them to fall behind as Brublindsaurus Rex takes an early lead, easily stomping his way to the second leg of the race within the jungle.
Jancer zooms between the trees like he's on a speeder bike, but gets caught on a hanging vine and spins around it again and again until he finds himself wrapped up. He 'Misty Step's out of the vines and back onto his pteranadon. Osana's mount stumbles into quicksand as Rorik and Jimothy go past her, the cries of her dinosaur fading behind them. Brublind easily navigates the jungle and reaches a set of giant ruins at the heart of the island.
Brublind's knowledge of architecture helps him guess the layout of the streets, but Rorik finds a secret tunnel, which he uses to go neck-and-neck with the transmuter. Jancer whips between the ruined buildings, and casts 'Suggestion' to cause Rorik's triceratops to "SIT". Rorik feebly tries to get his mount going again as Jimothy goes past him atop his increasingly exhausted velociraptor.
Jancer and Brublind are right beside one another as they race back down the beach towards the village, but it is the necrodancer who ultimately comes out on top. Rorik comes in second, while Brublind comes in third. Jimothy comes in last place, his velociraptor practically crushed beneath the goliath paladin's weight. The orcs throw the party a feast in celebration. A dirty and disheveled Osana emerges from the jungle during the feast, covered in grit and blood. She says she was "forced" to eat her dinosaur.
"But you were only gone for two hours."
Rorik asks a guide to show him around the giant ruins, and is told that most of the giant structures are actually in the lagoon, among the oyster beds and kelp thickets. Jancer loans him his cloak of the manta ray so he can explore at his leisure. The necrodancer himself meets two orc sisters (one living, one undead), and takes them somewhere quiet.
Brublind, grumpy after losing, finds some craftsman at work, and carves an effigy of Madame Zyrmina. He takes it into an area of the jungle filled with similar fetishes, and leaves an offering of a gold piece with it. He swears that he sees the hag out of the corner of his eye.
Meanwhile, Jimothy, Cora, and Pleedleplop take part in the orc village wrestling federation under pseudonyms. Clubber Jim and Fishy Thunder make it pretty far in the standings, but it is none other than Hale Storm who makes it to the final round, taking on the sumo-sized orc champion and defeating him. Everyone admires their fighting skill. Jimothy notices something outside—unconscious orcs are dragged from their huts and out, towards the moonlit tideline, by a gang of short, fishy figures.
Underwater, Rorik's arm is grabbed by a pincer-headed staff. He is surrounded by creatures that look like Pleedleplop: Kuo-toa!
Jimothy charges out onto the beach, Corpsebane blazing with light, and catches the kuo-toa off-guard as he begins walloping them. Jancer hears the ruckus, tells his lady friends he'll be right back, and comes outside. His back-up dancers leap from his Secret Chest fanny pack and attack. Cora goes into the 'Rage of the Frost Wolf', while Pleedle runs in and tries to subdue one of the kuo-toa. Jancer sends the kuo-toa whip leading the group capering about with 'Otto's Irresistable Dance', and Pleedle tackles him, trying to talk sense into the priest. Cora rips one of the kuo-toa in half, and Jimothy spear-fishes two of them with a javelin. The remaining kuo-toa book it, two down the beach, three into the water.
Rorik frightens the kuo-toa attacking him and tears the pincer-staff from his arm, rising to the surface to attack the fleeing fishmen. Jimothy, Cora, and Jancer take out the others.
Meanwhile, as Brublind emerges from the forest, he spots the two kuo-toa running down the beach, dragging their orc victims behind them. He casts 'Fly' and 'Water Breathing' on himself and follows them as they begin swimming out into the lagoon. They swim to the center of a kelp forest, but before they can enter the big cave at its heart, Brublind uses 'Control Water' to create a vortex that kills the kuo-toa and hurts the orcs a lot. He polymorphs the orcs into fish and shoves them in his pockets, disguising himself as a stand of seaweed just as other kuo-toa begin to emerge from the cavern. Suddenly, an immense shadow passes over Brublind…!
Back at the village, orcs grab the kuo-toa priest and tie him up, carrying him towards the bonfire. The party convince the villagers to let them question him, and Pleedle does his best to make sense of the gurglespeak, telling the party that this group of kuo-toa fled the Underdark after the fall of Slooblidoop, and were forced into the service of a dragon turtle named Orogamos. Jimothy remembers the dragon turtle they ran into during the Free Captain's Regatta, while Cora points out that this reminds her of an incident she and her friends ran into involving kobold slaves and a nightmare-inducing tree. Jimothy tells the orcs they can eat the fishman now, and there's a whole discussion about monster sentience. The paladin corrects his error and says you shouldn't eat kuo-toa.
Brublind emerges from the water and says that he rescued the kidnapped orcs as he pulls fish from his pockets. "Hold on, uh… just give it an hour, I swear." The orcs start to get impatient and angry. The transmuter smacks one of the fish on a rock, and it reverts to being an orc. The orc's wife is so happy that she comes over and kisses Brublind, thanking him. All of the craftsmen come and pat Brublind on the back.
Jancer returns to his ladies, while the rest of the party go and stay the night aboard the Wave Dancer. All of the orcs congregate in the central hut.
Pleedleplop stays behind when the party decides to depart the next day. He refuses to leave these orcs undefended, or his wayward people under the sway of this dragon turtle. Jimothy goes over and gives the kuo-toa a fishy hug. Rorik tries to give him a fishy bow out of respect, but, like the two times he has tried before, completely beefs it (he got a 0!); he promises to never do one again. "I think that would be for the best, my friend." Pleedle gives Jancer a little jig, and thanks Brublind profusely for all that he has done for his people.
A pillar of smoke rises into the sky as the party approach Elatia. Rorik knows that the peninsula has been destabilized for centuries, at a near constant state of civil war. They pass the smoldering remains of a fort overlooking the channel they sail down—an attack that couldn't have taken place more than a few hours ago. Osana takes over watch-duties now that both Breezy and Pleedleplop are gone, and she is told to keep a close eye out for other vessels, so that they can avoid an attack.
Night falls without incident as the party continue through the Razors off the eastern coast of Elatia. Brublind takes the dinghy, still tied to the ship, out for a little late night fishing, convincing Sporp to join him. Suddenly there is a blast of wind that nearly causes the dinghy to flip. Osana screams from the crow's nest. Suddenly, the rope goes taught and the dinghy is jerked out of the water!
Rorik, who was reading, rushes up onto deck to find Osana sprawled on the deck. Strangely, he cannot hear the ocean, only an occasional 'WOOSH' of air. The eldritch knight asks Osana what is wrong, and she points upwards, horrified. Rorik looks, and sees an enormous bird above them, its talons holding the ship aloft hundreds of feet in the air!
Brublind casts 'Reduce' on Sporp, and is able to climb out of the dangling dinghy and back to the Wave Dancer with his fruit-imbued strength. The rest of the party convene, except for Cora, who admits that she is absolutely terrified of giant birds, which Jimothy finds unbelievable given her status as a dragonslayer. The paladin decides to show Cora there is nothing to fear. He climbs up the roc's leg, hops onto its back with a long strand of rope, and begins climbing towards its head. Just then, however, the bird drops the ship, depositing it in a nest high atop a mountain peak! Rorik tries to grab her, but Osana is thrown from the ship. Brublind is able to quickly cast 'Feather Fall' as she flies off.
Jimothy tries to get his rope around the roc's head like a bridle, but is torn off its back. He falls slowly through the air as it circles back around to catch him in one of its enormous talons.
Back in the nest, the rest of the party are attacked by roc chicks that look like huge feathery puff-balls. They are hungry!
One picks Brublind up in its beak and tries eating him. The other snaps at Sporp, but the little myconid ducks out of the way. He lets loose an 'Eldritch Blast' in retaliation. The Wave Dancer teeters ominously on the edge of the nest as the babies attack. Torutori runs in and slashes at them with her cutlass, with Jancer's back-up dancers joining her in hacking at the chicks. Rorik notices that the birds seem to be afraid of Torutori—something he had noticed during their voyage as well, with seagulls actively avoiding the kenku. "She's an interesting one, that Torutori."
Jimothy tries to force open the roc's talon, and while his assault causes the giant raptor to release him, he finds himself falling towards the sea far below. He quickly pulls out a harpoon and lets fly—it pierces the roc's leg and yanks Jimothy along as he desperately clings to the trailing rope!
Brublind escapes the chick's grasp and tries to 'Polymorph' one of the ravenous chicks into a worm to try and get its sibling to devour it, but the birds miraculously resist his magic. Joining Jancer and Torutori, Rorik runs in and slashes at one of the chicks with his macuahuitl of sharpness, and turns it into enormous "chicken" nuggets. The mother roc lets out an angry screech at her offspring's death and swoops in looking for revenge!
Jancer fires 'Magic Missiles' at the bird as she swoops overhead, while Rorik is taken up in the bird's huge talons. She tries pulling Jimothy's javelin free with her beak, but has no leverage while in flight. The Armor Bros reunite and are able to climb up onto the roc's back. The roc does an aerial flip to try and throw them off, but they manage to hang on, and continue edging towards its head, avoiding the roc's pecking beak.
Brublind uses 'Animate Object' on the shattered mast of another ship, which bludgeons the other chick to death. Meanwhile, Jancer animates some more skeletons from the wreckage, and tells his minions to search the nest for valuables and find Osana Greentide. They give him skeletal salutes and rattle away.
As the bird swoops back towards the nest, Jancer pulls out his wand of polymorph and uses it on the mama roc. Its form suddenly distorts as it is turned into a sunfish and begins plummeting towards the ocean like a meteorite!
Rorik and Jimothy ride it down as it crashes into the sea, Rorik thrusting his blade into the creature's skull just before landing to cushion their fall with its immense avian body. They fist-bump and collect some feathers from the roc's corpse.
Meanwhile, Jancer's skeletons return with Osana Greentide (battered and soaked to the bone from her fall into the sea, but alive), as well as three treasures from the scattered wreckage: a scroll of 'Create Homunculus', magical scale mail, and a staff of power! Jancer takes the staff after Brublind passes on it, and then orders everyone to hang on as his skeletons and Brublind's animated mast push the Wave Dancer down the rocky slope to the sea!
In need of repairs, the party find safe anchorage at a floating city made up of boats and rafts. Brublind uses the bulk wood and iron he bought back in Vesh to fix up the Wave Dancer, while the rest of the party go carousing. The transmuter grumbles to himself that they could at least say "Thank you, Brublind" for having the foresight to buy building supplies.
Jancer gives Rorik the githyanki silver sword he got back in Zakkencrag, knowing that the eldritch knight will appreciate the weapon. Having first sought the party out four and a half months ago after hearing about their battle with the gith, Rorik is happy to take the blade as a reminder of how far they've come since then.
While drinking at a bar in town, the party run into "Smiling" Schmidty, acting "cool" as usual. He grumbles that, ever since he lost the Free Captains' Regatta and the party became the Hurricane Kings of Kalfsgate, he's had to find safer waters to ply the trade—waters free of Veshan pirate-hunters. BUT, he claims to have found a quick passage across the sea to Tandurad that will make him filthy stinking rich! The party are able to weasel it out of him with some threats, and set sail the following morning.
Land ho! Two islands with a narrow channel between them come into view ahead. The party briefly go ashore, and Rorik plants a magic bean from his bag of beans, which sprouts into… ANOTHER TREANT!
This one proves far nastier than Gerald though, and it demands the party get it some water, as the salty air is going to ruin its bark! Brublind's frog eyes go wide and he causes the sea water to rise, slowly drowning the evil treant. They head back to the ship and pretend like it never even existed.
They sail into the channel between the islands, carefully navigating between the cliffs on either side. Suddenly, booming voices are heard as giants appear above them, angrily shouting across the channel at one another.
"HIATEA IS THE RIGHTFUL QUEEN!"
"NO, DIANCASTRA IS STRONGEST!"
The giants begin tossing boulders over the channel, some falling short and crashing all around the Wave Dancer! Rorik uses 'Shatter' on one that is about the hit the ship, and Jancer uses his new staff of power to create a 'Wall of Force' that blocks another entirely. Jimothy tries to grab one, but is smooshed by it instead. Cora and Elspeth help get it off him. The rest are avoided thanks to Brublind's surprisingly good navigation skills. The party escape the channel in one piece and continue sailing south, cursing "Smiling" Schmidty's "quicker route".
Jimothy gives Cora a hand-made gift—a wreath made from roc feathers—after a night of love-making. She tells him that he did marvelously against the beast, and was pleased to see his handiwork firsthand. Her only regret is that she wasn't able to help—admitting that she was raised by a race of bird-folk known as the aarakocra, and that she has been terrified of rocs ever since her foster parents were eaten by one when she was a girl. Cora says that she will always keep Jimothy's gift close however, so that she can remember that she has nothing to fear as long as she's with him.
Caught up in a windless patch of ocean for nearly two days, the party laments not having Breezy (or the conjuration segment of the Rod) aboard to help them along. As they find ways to busy themselves, Rorik spots something in the distance. He realizes that something is… off. Looking towards the sun, he barely spots a vessel approaching swiftly over the waters through the solar glare.
Rorik raises the alarm just as the vessel comes into focus: