Wild Abandon

Elephant in the Room

Chapter 11

Having claimed a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts, hung the Prismatic Percolator over Zakkencrag, and defeated Ilvara and their other drow pursuers, the party are confronted by guardsmen drawn to the ruckus.

Ridak Linmo greets Jimothy, Rorik, Sporp, and Shaela with a cheery "Good morning!" as they emerge from the tunnel left by the drow. The half-orc was sent to investigate what is happening, and, as Undren Drakebrand (who is standing behind Ridak) points out,

"Find that tiefling witch who's been seen traipsing around town with MY dragon!"

"Yes. That too."

Ridak sends a pair of dwarf guards atop tarantula-like steeders up to investigate the Prismatic Percolator. Brublind asks what they want in Dwarvish, and they tell him that they're the ones who ask questions around here, demanding an explanation for why this "thing" has replaced the city's artificial sun. Mye-kuhl Jancer explains that it's a stage for their big performance, using 'Minor Illusion' to produce the proper papers for them. The guardsman has seen too much paperwork in his life to be fooled by this crude facsimile however (NAT 20!), and Jancer reaches into his jacket to find "the right forms", very obviously dropping some coins onto the ground as he does.

"Oh, look at that, I accidentally dropped 10 gold on the ground… Can you boys appreciate what's happening here?"

The one guard takes the bribe in stride, but his companion points out that he JUST said they didn't have the right paperwork and goes down to inform Captain Ridak. Jermlaine looks to Mye-kuhl and says they should power up the Percolator before those cats get back. Brublind casts 'Haste' on Mye-kuhl Jancer as the two brothers assume their positions and start dancing. Their lightning fast footwork has the machine firing off rainbow rays in no-time.

Down below, the mounted guardsmen begin their report to Ridak while Undren angrily demands that they be allowed to search the party's boat. Just then, lights from the Prismatic Percolator hit them. The party are awestruck, while Undren and ALL of the guards (except for Ridak) are suddenly turned to stone!

Meanwhile, one of the prismatic beams strikes a vein of soul gems, refracting down into the mines, where it makes Nylah, Algernon, Elspeth, and Wilson the barber invisible. Nylah is completely alright with this.

As the trio enter the geode chamber where Nylah first met Zahadara, they fan out to find the soul gems containing Roland Leopold, Krog, and Miri Tendersnip. They realize that a triopodal creature is also in the room with them, scooping up crystals and depositing them into its gaping maw. Nylah's trident, Wave, notes that this creature (a xorn) is definitely some kind of "dirty earth elemental. I can practically smell it from here… and I don't even have a nose!"

Nylah and Elspeth almost immediately find Roland and Krog's soul gems, while Elspeth narrowly rescues Miri's from being eaten by the xorn. Nylah wants to look for weak points to see if they can bring the whole mine down, and Elspeth (having been a mine scout before being captured by the drow) leads the way. During their search, they stumble upon a cobweb-choked chasm, over which hangs a floating ship.

Nylah recognizes the markings on the vessel as githyanki and decides they should leave it alone. Elspeth hammers the central weak point on their way out and they run for the exit. Wilson the barber is knocked out by a falling rock, and Nylah and Elspeth are forced to carry him to safety.

The party reconverges at the boat a few minutes later. Nylah sees Shaela, drops Wilson's head onto the ground with a loud thunk, and glomps her. Mye-kuhl Jancer also comes over and catches up with the priestess, remembering the fun they had back at the slave outpost. Brublind and Elspeth both recall her cleaning them up to be sold at market and grit their teeth. Rorik is surprised, not having realized that the party KNEW these drow.

Ridak scratches his head over his newly-petrified companions, but tells the party that he still needs to see the proper papers for their boat before he goes. Brublind pulls them out and squares everything away. The half-orc sort of lingers as he says goodbye, and Nylah feels bad for him ("HE'S SO CUTE"), asking again if he wants to join them. He isn't sure if he's worthy after… last time. The bard tells him to give it another shot and BOOM, won't you believe it, he's back in shape (ANOTHER NAT 20!). He is so happy, he pulls out his trumpet and starts tooting on it, but Nylah hands him her harp-bow instead and he plays it better than she ever has!

"Huh. I didn't even know that they made bows with this many strings. Mine only has one, but I like it a lot because my mama made it for me."

Jermlaine Jancer is impressed, supposing that the half-orc's groove levels are proportionate to his size. Mye-kuhl welcomes Ridak aboard, but warns him,

"Honey, it takes more work than that to become a professional. You think I just walked out on the street and started dancing? Because I did!"

Rorik asks Sporp what this dancing is all about as pretty much everyone else joins in. Sporp is delighted to teach the swordmage something, and tells him that this is pretty normal, especially when it comes to Jancer, telling Rorik the story of when he first found out about the Groove.

Wilson comes stumbling out of the cabin at this point, holding his aching head. Nylah hands him the soul gem that contains his daughter's essence and the barber thanks the tiefling as he begins to tear up. He produces a hammer from his satchel and smashes the gem. The party see the faint image of a little girl emerge from the shards, kiss Wilson on the forehead, then fade away with a happy giggle.

Nylah leans in and whispers to the rest of the party, "Let's not tell him we could've made his daughter a new body."

Mye-kuhl asks his step-brother what he'll do now that the Chorus of Minds has more-or-less won the battle for Zakkencrag, and Jermlaine says he'll probably stick around here for a while longer, teach the xvarts a few more moves, then groove along to his next gig. Mye-kuhl Jancer hopes that, wherever that may be, he'll feel the funky vibrations Jermlaine's feet again some day. "Oh, you know it, brother!"

Jermlaine stomps his little hooves rapidly and gives a bow as statues of Mye-kuhl, Brublind, Nylah, Jimothy, Ridak, Rorik, even Roland, appear from the stone wharf. The korred bids the party farewell and carries Wilson back to the barber shop.

With that, they decide to get down to the business of creating new bodies using the piece of the Rod of Seven Parts they obtained. Jimothy hands it over to Jancer as the goliath tries to keep his new hook horror friend from taking a bite out of Sporp.

Bingle bets that the Rod piece might be pretty low on fuel after the way he used it. They use it three times before it starts to sputter, with Jancer creating a halfling and an elf body, and Nylah creating a goblin body. Remembering an incident with a certain goblin several years ago, Nylah grimaces at the little creature she created. Ridak remarks that the halfling looks like his cousin. Jancer asks the 'Prince of Tindomeel' within Quagmiran's old signet ring if he'd like to have the elf body as his own, and the Prince enthusiastically says "YES PLEASE!" They decide not to put Roland or Krog into either of the other bodies, and instead turn them over to the Chorus of Minds to use as psychic meat-puppets.

The Chorus happily accepts them, and also shows off their new and improved Quagmiran. While the quaggoth has a certain regal air to him again, he's more a butler than a noble now, and doesn't seem to remember the party at all. Jancer asks the cranium rats what they have planned for Quagmiran, and they explain that he shall serve as their "ambassador to the people of Zakkencrag—a singular face to wrap their biped minds around". The party figure that the Quagmiran they knew would probably love such a cushy position. Rorik is on-guard to see all of these cranium rats, having read about them as a boy, but the Chorus reassures him that they are free of the influence of the mind flayers, and, now that Zakkencrag is their's, so too will all they touch.

Bingle decides to stay behind so that he can try to be the "father" that he never was to the xvarts. Mye-kuhl Jancer wishes him luck, while the gnome thanks the half-elf for always being a good sport.

With that, the party decides to go and see if they can reach the githyanki ship that Nylah and Elspeth found down in the mines. Along the way, they salvage ten soul gems (3 with dwarf souls, 1 with a githyanki soul, and 6 that are empty). Nylah takes the 3 dwarf gems, Jancer takes 5 empty gems, and Rorik takes the remaining empty and githyanki gems.

When they arrive on the ledge overlooking the chasm, they find the xorn on the deck of the ship, picking through the bodies of some dead spiders. Wave convinces Nylah to use the new powers she unlocked within him by converting to Diancastra on the creature. She levels the trident at the xorn and unleashes a veritable geyser at it. Jancer electrifies the jet of water with a 'Lightning Bolt', while Rorik fires off two 'Eldritch Blasts' at the elemental, and Brublind uses 'Heat Metal' on its mineral-laced hide. This combo catches the xorn completely off-guard and absolutely DEVASTATES it.

The xorn tries to get back to its feet, but keeps falling over. Shaela asks if she can finish it off, and the party tell her to take it away. She pulls out her crossbow and strikes the beast right in the eye, laughing as it dies. Nylah applauds the priestess's marksmanship skills and wonders if she could give her a few pointers later. Shaela smiles, telling the tiefling that she can think of a quite few things she'd like to show her. Nylah squees internally—she has only two weaknesses: homey types (like halflings), and people who flirt back.

The party climbs aboard and carefully begin to investigate the vessel. Brublind cuts out the xorn's stomach (which has interesting alchemical properties) and skins it for its hide as well. Nylah and Rorik go downstairs and use an 'Unseen Servant' to bypass the trapped door to the captain's quarters, finding log books, planar charts, and hundreds of trophies within. They can't make out the githyanki language, but Sporp asks if he can read it. Nylah and Rorik sit on the floor with the myconid as he begins to "read" aloud. Rorik quickly realizes that the sprout is just reciting a passage from the book on unsolved mysteries he gave him, but is impressed all the same.

Meanwhile, Jancer investigates the bridge and discovers something he has only ever read about—a spelljammer helm. He takes a seat and dons the control crown, feeling a pulse of energy shoot through his body as he and the ship become one. He tells the party about it and they decide to gather their belongings from their old boat and move in here instead. Brublind uses his carpentry skills to make a few repairs here and there (as it looks like basic upkeep has been neglected for a few weeks).

As they prepare to depart the Underdark once and for all, Jancer awakens the mummy in their cargo hold once again, and realizes that he can now understand it, as he holds a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts. The mummy introduces itself as Saladesh, a soldier of the Wind Dukes of Aaqa who fell in battle an age ago and chose to continue its service in death. Saladesh tells Jancer that it will gladly serve the party if they wish to reassemble the Rod. The necrodancer asks how they might go about refueling the Rod's magic, but Saladesh is not entirely sure, knowing only that the seven who first forged it infused the artifact with immense power from the far-flung corners of the multiverse. Mye-kuhl is also curious if the mummy can dance. Saladesh tries its best, but several thousand years in a coffin is murder on the joints.

Pleedleplop asks Brublind if he can borrow a quill and parchment, and writes a letter to Roland's brother, Reginald Leopold, explaining all that has happened during their time in the Underdark. Nylah tries to get him to add an addendum that they're going to bring Roland back to life, but Pleedleplop ignores her (muttering something foul about Diancastra under his breath), and only pretends to do so before taking it to the Underdark Post Office.

Moving to the githyanki ship, Jancer uses the Wand of Wonder on the mutilated xorn for curiosity's sake, and ends up summoning an elephant. Sporp is somehow able to calm the frightened animal by commanding it to sit. The myconid climbs on top of its head, and is incredibly happy to see that he is taller than even Jimothy and Ridak now! Jimothy is very happy for the little guy.

Jancer takes his place at the helm and tells everyone to brace themselves as the astral sails unfurl and the ship lifts off. They zoom up the chasm until they finally begin to see light up above, glinting off melting ice that clings to the cavern walls.

They emerge to the sun rising over a valley painted in pink and gold and blue. A large town is nestled along the banks of a river down below, farmlands stretching out in every direction. The sound of accordion music drifts up to them through the morning mist from an encampment of colorful tents and wagons that has been set up near the town's walls. Nylah instantly recognizes it as the carnival that she was once a part of…

Rorik tells the awestruck Sporp to look behind them, at the rocky cliff-face they sailed out of, and points out that those are mountains. Sporp's eyes go wide.

"HOLY SHIT…"

Rorik and Nylah shout in disapproving unison, "SPORP!"

 

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