Here Be Dragons

Riddle Riddle on the Wall

We continue to battle the elementals and the Green Hag. The elementals eventually flee, leaving us battling the Hag. Once we slay her, we realize the airship is sinking. Flint rushes to the engine room and finds a couple of orbs that have no more energy. Flint has seen this before in some schematics he studied during his education. the two orbs are “lift crystals” typically powered by elementals. If an alternate power source is supplied he might be able to slow the airship’s descent.

Chinny brings the armor to Flint, with the gem still embedded. Flint tries to use it to power the orb by touching them, and the airship’s descent gradually slows. Then the orb shatters and whispering is briefly heard. The ship crash lands, but at a low enough velocity that we all survive!

The passengers have evacuated the ship, planning to walk back to Tyrisis, and the pilot tells us that we are a day’s journey back to Tyrisis.

Flint finds a wand clenched in the Green Hag’s hand, and after some examination Chinny decides to keep it, even though he does not yet know its capabilties.

Jasnah approaches the group, stating she believes the Baldur’s Gate council is in great danger, and that she and Romero were specifically targeted. She believes those in line for seats on the council are being targeted. She asks to hire the group as bodyguards, to protect her as she travels to warn the council as quickly as possible.

Chinny bargains hard for gold and a magic item, and Flint requests her help in finding his family and his fiance, and also to get the Council to take the threat the group knows about seriously. A deal is struck, as Jasnah is taking the attempt on her life very seriously.

Jasnah suggests the group go to the town of Riverside. She knows the Duchess there, who has a house mage on staff who can portal the group to Baldur’s Gate.

Sylvie chimes in, stating she knows an even faster way to Baldur’s Gate thru the Felbarren, however Jasnah feels it is very dangerous. It is decided however to take this route.

We journey to the felbarren coming across a small Elvish hut made of wood and straw. Sylvie announces that this is the portal, made by the fey, “tricksy, magical creatures”. We suspect whatever is required to activate the portal will not be straightforward.

We decide to enter the hut.

Inside the hut is a fireplace with a few logs and an active fire. You can see a plaque on the wall with some writing on it. There is a small wooden chair beside a table. Upon the table is a quill pen and some ink, a wooden key, and a piece of paper. A small cot is nestled in the corner, with a pillow and small blanket neatly set over it. There is a small wooden chest beside the bed: it does not appear to have a keyhole.

On the plaque it says: The key is here in plainest sight,
No lock to either left or right.
To see the fey is what you yearn:
The key as real as the lock it turns.

Flint opens the chest. Inside the chest we find a dagger and a pair of leather boots.

Cid tries drawing a lock on the piece of paper, but no mark appears. He tries the chest, and the plaque, but again no mark. We try many ways to use the key with no luck.

Cid throws the key in the fire, and we feel a bit of shaking and the windows go dark. We open the door

We emerge from the hut to find ourselves in a barren wasteland. Small pockets of dead grass emerge from the endless dirt, providing the only immediate feature. Off in the distance we see a mountain, and a sprawling city situated upon it. Dark clouds circle around the mountain, giving it a truly ominous appearance.

Sylvie leads us on a course parallel to the mountain explaining that her Grandma knew the Fey. The summer Queen got sick and died, making the Spring Princess very sad. She was friends with her great grandma Sylvie. Then the fey started disappearing, and the Spring Princess did as well. Then the gods and then the other immortals, gnomes, eladrin, and dragons. If sylvie didn’t have some halfling blood, she would be gone as well.

She says that the city on the mountain showed up in the midst of all the disappearances. Sylvie has tried to get there, but no mater how far you travel or in what direction, it’s always the same distance on the horizon.

Yevelda announces that we are being followed, and we turn and see three figures approaching from behind, just at the limit of our vision over the barren wasteland. Flint realizes that they are dangerous predators. Sylvie thinks there is a ruined village where we can take refuge.

Bipedal tigers with swords and arrows approach. We attack and battle them, defeating them. Four legged tigers are heard approaching in the distance, and we quickly make our way to the village. As soon as we cross the bridge into the village, the tigers turn back in search of easier prey.

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Zombie Summoner Revealed
Battling Elementals

On the upper deck we find zombies and wights. Realizing Jasnah and Romero are in imminent peril, we decide Althaea should rush over and guard Jasnah. Fierce battle ensues, in which Romero is unfortunately killed. Jasnah kicks his weapon to Kurshk, who will now possess a magic flail. One by one the wights and zombies are defeated.

After the battle, Sparkle finds a gem attached to the armor of a dead wight. She tries to take it but it hurts her and she leaves it alone. Chinicum is intrigued by this gem but is also unable to take it off the armor.

Jasnah is quite shaken by the battle and the death of Romero, and Lydia soothes her. Yvelda reappears from below, where she had led the other passengers. Jandar is nervously wringing his hands, and explains that he is nervous because undead walk his ship. We go below to speak to the hapless Albert, the Tiefling Amnon and the other passengers, then return to the upper deck to confront Jandar.

At Flint’s threat to place a watch on him every second, Jandar the Halfling summons one of the elementals that power the airship! A pillar of fire erupts. The halfing turns into a green-skinned hag and cries “Destroy them, Sizzle! Purge them by the will of the Cult of the Dragon!

Sparkle immediately rushes to protect Jasnah as the elemental Sizzle moves around the deck, lighting some of us on fire. Flint summons a fog cloud to douse the flames, and battle ensues! All damage from our attacks against the hag is diverted to Sizzle, who is also damaged by direct attacks. When Sizzle is beginning to be affected, the Green Hag replaces it with Blaize, the second elemental. But we battle on, and are able to cause enough damage to Blaize that the Green Hag summon Sizzle again.

With both elementals on the upper deck and no elementals powering the airship, the ship suddenly goes silent. With no engines humming, the airship begins to sink. The Green Hag attempts to light each of us on fire … !

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Aboard the Airship

We travel uneventfully to Tyrisis, where we have dinner at the Pig and Whistle and celebrate the birthday of our culture’s mythical god, the mysterious “DM”, with a delicious cake. We then board the airship to go to Baldur’s Gate. Highbrow passengers linger on the top decks, while economy seating is below. Flint and Lydia wander around together.

An hour into our journey undead suddenly come raging up from belowdecks, long tongues extended, looking for targets, running towards the passengers. We attack them, successfully distracting them from the passengers, who one by one run screaming belowdecks. Only one passenger is killed; the others survive. We slay all of the undead, and the passengers emerge safely from belowdecks.

We head belowdecks to see if there are any more undead lurking out of sight.

The first thing we hear is a squeak, followed by a halfling rolling out from under a table. It is Jandar, chief arcane engineer of the airship. Jandar keeps Sizzle and Blaize, the elementals powering the airship, happy and functional.

He tells us that Albert, a detective, may be able to help us. Albert appears to be quite a dandy, but points out helpfully that there is a Tiefling in the cabin across from his, who may be well versed in the necromantic arts. Albert knocks on the cabin door, which is opened by the Tiefling, whose name is Amnon. He appears vaguely suspicious to us, with unexplained ash under his bed and a disheveled appearance. We leave Kurshk and Chinny to guard him.

We investigate another passenger, a noble and self-inflated fop named Romero, Master of Astoria House, and first in line for the Baldur’s Gate council. He suggests we speak with Jasnah, and we head to her cabin.

Jasnah offers to help us and reports that a ruby was stolen from her belongings in the cargo hold, which may have something to do with the summoning of the undead. We descend to the hold where a pink haired gnome named Sylvie appears. She confesses that she is the thief and hands over the missing ruby at which point we hear screaming from above.

We race upstairs and encounter Yvelda who is leading the passengers below. She tersely reports “Undead. Upper deck.” They are heading toward Romero and Jasnah. We prepare to engage in battle!

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Rescued From the Rubble by Yevelda, an Orc Monk

Buried beneath tons of rubble, the adventurers are presumed dead … but they are unconscious. In this unconscious state they find themselves in the now-familiar dreamscape of dark shadows, and the Old Man speaks to them. He explains that he has summoned someone in the material world to rescue them, and that they will survive. He suggests they take advantage of the time by following him to see what they are facing, but Kurshk vociferously resists until the rest of the party override his objections.

The Old Man leads them to a viewpoint where they see a massive black dragon, “Indomitable,” with Sultana standing before him in conversation, speaking of a coming full-scale war, and the necessity of Sultana’s recovering the eggs to herald the coming Age of Dragons. It becomes clear that Indomitable, the dragon, lives in the dream realm, while Sultana is visiting this realm in the same way as the adventurers.

The Old Man is emphatic – Indomitable must NOT be allowed to return to the world of man! Lydia and Flint ask him how and where to fight the dragon, and the Old Man replies it is best not to fight him at all, but to stop him by foiling Sultana’s plan, which they must discover.

Indomitable appears, surprising the Old Man, and it is revealed that the Old Man is Bahamut (the Platinum Dragon God of justice, protection, nobility and honor)! The black birds of the dream realm do his bidding. Flint finally realizes that the feather mark on Kurshk’s hand is Bahamut’s mark, and that Kurshk is crucial to the adventurer’s success, as reluctant as Kurshk seems to be cooperative.

To protect them from Indomitable, Bahamut opens a portal and pushes the adventurers through. Without the old man to protect them, shadow creatures appear and the adventurers are forced to protect themselves …

Battle ensues, and the adventurers’ attacks deal surprisingly little damage, except, inexplicably, Flint’s bow and arrows. After the shadows are defeated, the danger is not past. More shadows appear laughing mockingly, which infuriates Kurshk, who prepares to charge.

In the nick of time, the adventurers awake and find themselves by a campfire in the woods. It is dawn, and a beauteous red-haired female orc sits nearby, eyes closed, legs crossed, in deep meditation. She turns her attention to them and asks after their wounds. She explains her name is Yevelda, and that she meditates to control her anger, seeking her inner Tor. Her ancestors speak clearly to her and told her to seek the adventurers to restore balance to her clan.

As they discuss this, several unfriendly orcs walk aggressively into the light of the campfire. Clearly, not all orcs seek their inner Tor. Yevelda bursts into motion and begins laying them low. The adventurers join the fight, though Kurshk, once again, is initially reluctant to cooperate with a stranger.

At last only two enemy orc remain standing and they wish to surrender. It is put to Yevelda whether or not to spare their lives, and she replies they were in the “inner circle of the impostor” and are only worthy of death – so they are slain.

Yevelda asks to join the adventurers, and all concur, even Kurshk, who has decided he likes Yevelda’s style. They decide to head quickly to Tyrisis in order to board an airship to Baldur’s Gate.

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The Tower

Arjhan begins the ritual to transport us to Baldur’s Gate.

While we were gone Durkon talked to the village guards, now stationed around the wall in preparation for the coming attack.
It will take Arjhan an hour to complete the ritual, and then the villagers will need to file through one by one to Baldur’s Gate and safety. We instruct the guards to attack the mages who are projecting the image of General Lamentation.

The kobolds have brought scaling ladders. We see the image of Lamentation floating above, giving directions. Althaea stares at his apparition, caressing her blade. The guards are nervous, having never seen anything like this before. The kobolds charge, Chinny casts a spell at the mages and Lamentation’s image vanishes and the kobolds seem less focused after this.

We fight and kill many kobolds; Arjhan completes the ritual and the villagers begin to file through the portal. Suddenly a piercing shriek is heard and dragons appear; like the one we saw in our dream, but small, less than 10 feet in length – A red, a black, and a white with black veins coursing thru their bodies.

We defeat the dragons. Durkon appears from within a house carrying two small girls. That gold feather on Kurshk’s hand begins to glow.

The wall around the city explodes, killing kobolds and humans alike. Durkon is dazed by the blast but sends the two little girls running towards the tower to safety.

A beautiful woman emerges, with black lizard-like scales and obsidian plate mail. She sends a ball of fire towards the guards and Durkon, cooking them inside their armor. Massive flames obscure the air. The kobolds have stopped fighting and are chanting the name Sultana over and over. The flames surround her but she is untouched. Her eyes focus on us. The feather on Kurshk’s hand is glowing brightly.

Sultana recognizes us. She raises her hand and emits a ball of blue flame. Wings of gold feathers emerge from Kurshk’s hand and he absorbs the flame. The kobolds attack and we run to the tower to escape. Sultana fires another ball of flame at the top of the tower and it begins to crumble. The light form the portal winks out as Arjhan closes it. The tower collapses around us and everything goes black….

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The "Band of Heroes" Retrieve the Gem for Arjhan

Arjhan has transported the adventurers to the exterior of a small hut etched with arcane symbols. The hut has clearly been broken into, and the sought-for gem, and other items, are missing. Flint is able to make out the three-hour-old tracks of 5 people, and suggests they follow them. Following the tracks, he hears sounds ahead and sneaks up to see 4 bandits sitting around a campfire in front of a cave that leads into a mountain. There is no sign of the 5th person, nor any tracks leading away from the cave.

The adventurers debate, then decide to attack the four: a scout, a thug, a berserker, and a priest. Lydia viciously mocks them, Cid turns into a violent bear, Kurshk flies into a rage, Chinicum unleashes his extraordinarily effective “Witch Bolt,” and Flint shoots his longbow, all to great effect. They kill all but the priest, who reveals that the “Boss” is in the cave.

Chinicum makes Flint invisible, and Flint steals into the cave and takes the gem from the “Boss,” and returns to his companions. Arjhan says, “What about the rest of my stuff?” and demands blood, but Flint with steely determination convinces Arjhan to keep his word that he would save the villagers if the adventurers helped him retrieve his gem. Exhausted, they decide to take an extended rest in the forest before returning to Clearview.

Approaching Clearview, only Lydia and Cid foresee the surprise attack by three spies and a cult fanatic. The adventurers kill all but one spy, who surrenders and is brutally interrogated by Lydia. He reveals that Sultana herself plans to oversee the coming battle, and that mages project General Lamentation’s image above the battlefield so that he can see what is transpiring.

Flint is in a hurry to return to Clearview and have Arjhan perform the ritual that will save the villagers, and to find a way to keep the dragon’s eggs out of Sultana’s hands. He orders that the spy be tied up and allowed to live, but his companions disagree and want the spy killed. As they leave the scene with the spy still living, Lydia disappears for a few moments and then returns. Has she killed the spy, or taken some other action?

Durkon Frostbeard meets them as they enter Clearview. He is excited that when he helps villagers, he doesn’t hear the crying little girl in his head. He proudly produces Wellby Tosscobble, who glady rejoins the adventurers and tells them he is writing a new ballad, “the Band of Heroes,” in their honor.

They hasten to prepare the villagers for evacuation. Arjhan recommends that he send the villagers to Baldur’s Gate, as it is a large enough city to handle so many refugees, and it might finally cause the Council to take the action against the cult.

Arjhan begins the ritual.

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A Meeting with a Dragonborn!

We battle on, killing all the spies and scouts. We find an emblem of a dragon on one of the spies, symbol of the Cult of the Dragon.

We continue on to Clearview. Guards at the front gate challenge us and call the Captain of the Guard. Lydia casts a suggestion spell on the Captain who is about to run us through, causing him to believe we are harmless and to assist us in finding Mayor Khalid.

Flint tells Mayor Khalid that Lamentation of the Cult of the Dragon is planning a large attack on Clearview, probably within 24 hours. The mayor thanks Flint for the information and says that the scouts they have sent out over the last few hours have not come back. Everyone is on high alert. He asks if we ran into their advance forces. Flint explains that we overcame and killed a party of scouts and spies that bore the dragon emblem just outside of town. The major says we have already earned our keep, but that he does not have the men or resources to repel a major assault as we say is coming. The only way out would be thru a cave network, very dangerous.

Flint says we don’t understand exactly why CV has been targeted, but that it may have to do with an ex member of the cult.

Khalid says immediately understands and tells us that a former cult member names Arjhan lives in a tower in the south part of the town.

We go to the tower and obtaining entrance, we climb some stairs and find an office filled with books, a table, and a chair with Arjhan, a red skinned dragonborn, reading. He admits being a former member of the Cult of the Dragon, but states that he left the cult over a difference of opinion with Sultana, who he calls “an insane bitch of a half dragon.” “They thought I should be drawn and quartered, I disagreed.” He says she is obsessed with bringing back her ancestors to the world of men. She is very old; some believe she was alive when dragons still walked the earth.

He admits he may have taken something important from the cult that they want back. Flint offers to examine the magic items Arjhan stole, and he and Lydia suspect that two golden eggs are dragon eggs that Sultana would do anything to retrieve.

Arjhan says he has a powerful ritual that will allow the citizens of CV to escape the coming onslaught and to evacuate his more prized possessions. However he needs a powerful gem to conduct the ritual which is stored some distance from the town. He says if we will help us retrieve the gem, he will help us save the villagers.

Arjhan agrees to give Chinny the shield and the wand from the pile of magical loot in exchange for his help and also gives a magical ring to Lydia, who places it on her left hand, as her right already has a beautiful ring.

Arjhan then teleports us to the location of the gem…

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To Clearview!

The adventurers prevail against the zombies in the room, although the zombies prove to be remarkably resilient. When the zombies have been killed, the large Ogre Zombie turns back into the weak Randal, and Flint shoots an arrow and pins him to the wall.

Chinicum and Lydia intimidate Randal, who reveals important information to the group. They learn:
• “Sultana” is the Leader of the Cult.
• Zombies are being created to be released into the city to sow chaos. Another cell will take advantage of the chaos.
• The orb was corrupted from its original healing use by Cult mages, to turn people into zombies. It can probably be shattered easily.
• General Lamentation is planning a big attack on Clearview in 48 hours, and this has to do with an ex-member of the cult.
• The zombies that were in the courtyard are no longer there and have probably been portaled away, along with the mages who are no longer in the asylum.

The group decides to take Randal captive and bring him with them to Clearview, in order to make sure he is telling the truth. Flint shoots an arrow at the orb and shatters it. They release the remaining inmates of the asylum.

The adventurers take Randal and return to Althea, Wellby, and Mad Max, and explain the situation. Wellby agrees to stay behind to find care for the released inmates and Mad Max, but promises he’ll follow as soon as he can. Flint, impressed by Wellby’s helpfulness, pays close attention to him and perceives that Wellby is a good person at heart who is struggling with some unidentifiable inner demons.

The adventurers set out for Clearview (with a bound Randal), a 12 hour journey on horseback. Halfway to Clearview, they stop for the night and they each have a dream. They are in the now-familiar, dark dreamscape. A woman says, “What have we here? Visitors? I was not aware this was even possible!” She is pale, with long black hair, and is flipping a dagger into the air. She states she wants out, and speculates that if she kills them she might escape. She draws her blade, but the now-familiar old man appears, causing her to stalk off. The old man tells them that they are heading into great danger in Clearview, and he wishes to give them something to protect them. At his bidding, a black bird flies to Kurshk, plucks out his own feather and holds it out to Kurshk. In a flash of light, the black feather disappears and a golden feather appears emblazoned on the back of Kurshk’s hand. Kursh scoffs, “A feather? Perhaps I’m to tickle my enemies with it when they come swinging their axes!” The old man, unperturbed, explains that as long as the adventurers stand before the darkness, they will be protected by Kurshk. At this, the adventurers awaken.

They continue on their way. A half-hour from Clearview, they have a clear sense that they are being watched. Flint perceives a group of humanoids trying to stealthily approach, and magically envelops these scouts and spies in fog. Cid transforms himself into a bear, and the adventurers attack the surprised enemies!

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Once Again in the Asylum!

As they are returning to the asylum, Wellby Tosscobble catches up with us and reports that he has sent a message to the Duke, via her daughter.

Lydia and Urg enter the asylum and go thru a corridor. Lydia looks in the window to the orb room and sees some cultists. One is trying to strap a struggling inmate into a chair. A cultist begins muttering an arcane spell over the orb. Lydia continues on, passing Mad Max’s cell, sending Urg to reconnoiter. Lydia then disguises herself as a cultist and enters a room where 5 thugs and 2 acolytes are talking.

A cultist asks her if her work is done and when she replies yes he tells her to go help the others. She returns to the orb room and enters. One of the cultists asks her to help strap another inmate into a chair. Having no choice, Lydia complies, and stands there as the cultist again utters a spell. The inmate shrieks and moans, turning into a zombie before her eyes. He quiets down, is released, and shambles off.

The cultists leave the room and go on to Mad Max’s cell, obviously intending to perform the same ritual on him. Horrified, Lydia watches as Max backs into the corner and then, knowing she risks discovery but unable to stand by while this occurs, she slays the two cultists and escapes the asylum with Urg and Max, successfully bypassing the zombies in the courtyard. She meets up with the others and, leaving Max with Althea, the group returns and infiltrates the asylum in their cultists’ robes.

Once again in the asylum, we enter the room that leads to Randall’s office, attacking and killing the zombie and thug that are in there. There is an acolyte there as well, who screams for us to spare him. He tells us that Randall is in his office in a private meeting with General Lamentation. We sneak up to the partially open door and hear General Lamentation blaming Randall for the problems they are facing. Randall begs General Lamentation to send reinforcements but the General replies that a move of this nature would reveal his capabilities and motives to the entire city and be seen as a threat to the Baldur’s Gate Council.

We burst into the room and see the projection of General Lamentation. He turns to us, somehow knowing who we are, saying “An incompetent member of my organization needs elimination. I leave it in your capable hands." To Randall he says, “Our mistress has rescinded her praise and support. If you …. somehow… manage to salvage this situation, then we can discuss matters at that time. Goodbye.” He winks out of sight.

Zombies enter the room to defend Randall. Randall swallows a flask of green liquid. He transforms into an ogre zombie. We engage all the zombies in a long battle…..

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A Battle, a Dream, and Zombies at the Asylum!

The adventurers believe Enna, and ask her why she was fleeing, and what she knows about the Cult of the Dragon. She replies that Randal tried to kill her and wanted to usurp her position as Director at the Insane Asylum. As for the Cult, Durkon knows more than she does. She declines to return to Tyrisis to help the adventurers, and says her destination is the elven forest a day’s journey south of Baldur’s Gate.

They turn to head back to Tyrisis. Flint perceives a dangerous group of acolytes, cultists, and thugs as they are preparing to attack. Suddenly a “google” cloud descends, postponing the impending combat! A full day later, the “google” cloud lifts, and battle commences.

Flint hides behind a rock and manages to pick off a number of the acolytes, cultists and thugs as they cast spells and engage in melee battle with Lydia, Kurshk, Chinicum, and Cid, who turns himself into a slashing, biting bear. Althea and Durkon battle fiercely at their sides, and Althea is felled several times, with Lydia healing her each time, maliciously mocking the enemy.

At last, just one thug remains alive. He offers to talk rather than be killed, and provides useful information under Lydia’s rather over-zealous interrogation. He reveals that he was under orders from Randal to follow the adventurers and Enna, and to kill them all. He reveals that Randal takes orders from General Lamentation, who only communicates through devices, and that Enna will probably be safe if she stays out of the cult’s way.

The thug, whose name is Bert and who is more intelligent than most thugs, indicates that he plans to stay out of the way of the cult himself, now that the assassination attempt has failed, and the adventurers decide to let him go. They take his thug gear and give him a new set of clothes, sending him on his way. He sets off in the opposite direction, presumably to get an education and a new life. The adventurers remove the robes from the dead cultists to potentially use for disguise, and find a safe place to spend the night in the forest near the road.

During an otherwise uneventful night, each adventurer has the same dream. They are all back in the dark dream-village. They hear a THUMP, THUMP, THUMP and can make out a massive creature of the darkest black imaginable, with massive wings tucked up against its side, a lizard-like head with fangs, and fire in its belly. The creature turns it gaze upon them and they are immobilized. Suddenly, black birds fly at the creature and distract him. As his gaze leaves the adventurers, they are able to move again. The old man in peasant robes appears, and cries, “I did not call you! Wake quickly!!!” More black birds appear and fly towards the adventurers, who wake up drenched in sweat. Exhausted from their dreams, the adventurers arise and continue back to Tyrisis.

Wellby meets them outside the gates and reports that he has been spying out information for them. He says their plan to hide at the duke’s estate won’t work, as the duke has left for a couple of days (according to the guards.) Wellby has been watching the insane asylum, and reports creepy sounds and weird shambling forms in the garden, but no inmates in sight. He agrees to find the duke and inform him of all that has transpired.

The adventurers decide to melt into the city while Lydia makes herself invisible and sneaks into the asylum to reconnoiter. She agilely scales the asylum walls and drops into the courtyard, where she counts twelve zombies. Before she can make her way inside the building, time is suspended for two weeks.

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