Asking around Broken Reach, they learn that the weapon, a flying ‘Ship of Chaos’ was spotted flying over the village of Raazorforge along the banks of the Lakes of Molten Iron to the north just a few days ago. While gathering supplies in the central bazaar for their journey, the party are caught up in the throng bidding on a slave auction. According to the auctioneer (who seems… inexperienced, at best), the cambions they are selling are all children of the town’s very own ruler, Red Shroud.
The thing that really catches their eye about the auction, however, is the warthog-faced nalfeshnee overseeing things alongside a pair of barlgura. Their suspicions that these are the very demons who attacked the bar are confirmed when Umbra herself is brought onto the auction bloc in chains.
Atrox and Felynnida try pooling their gold to bid on her, but are beat out by a handsome humanoid with dark skin and a toga. Stabbers asks Cornelius if he wants to take revenge on the demons who ransacked his place, but the halfling says he doesn’t need to, as he’s already had “monetary revenge” against the Harmonium in the City Court. Elias points out that antagonizing a demon in their own home is a death sentence at the best of times.
The party follow Umbra’s buyer as he claims the girl and takes her back to his quarters, successfully navigating the chaotic labyrinth that is Broken Reach. Fel knocks on the door and shakes the man’s hand, noticing that he has six fingers on each hand, and that his toga is made of human skin. The priestess tells him that she is interested in his business here, and in the girl that he just bought.
As it turns out, this fiend is the ambassador of the Dark Prince, Graz’zt, who’s realm is accessible through one of the pits near Broken Reach. As such, it behooves his master and the mistress of the gate-town to stay on good terms, and he was planning on handing Umbra, one of Red Shroud’s own daughters, over to Graz’zt to add to his harem of half-fiends.
Fel wants to take Umbra off of his hands, and, in return, offers to help broker an arrangement between his master and her own. Knowing that Graz’zt has been trying to form an alliance with Lolth for years, he agrees, reasoning that another slave girl is nothing compared to the Spider Queen.
It’s quite clear that Umbra is shell-shocked by her experience, but Fel holds her hand and talks about happier subjects to get the little girl’s mind off of what she’s been through the past few days. The drow suddenly finds that she’s levitating just a few inches off the ground, and realizes that Umbra has manifested another latent power. She grabs Umbra and tosses her into the air a few times before telling her that they’re “leaving this shit hole!”
But first, Stabbers wants to see if they can get an audience with Red Shroud, as there is a Mercykiller bounty for a cambion named Aesgareth, who is currently under the protection of the succubus. The party is turned away at the gate to her mansion however (much to Umbra’s relief, having just been shown her mother’s “love”), as the mistress is “away on business”. Fel asks Umbra if she wants to get back at her mother, and the girl nods. The drow uses stealth and Umbra’s levitation power to fly into an open window of Red Shroud’s mansion, stealing three vials of poison from her personal stores:
- Viper Tree Venom – poison extracted from the snake-headed trees of Zrintor, the Viper Forest of Azzagrat
- Burnt Othur Fumes – a melange of crushed herbs that produce a toxic smoke when burned
- Carrion Crawler Mucus – paralyzing mucus collected from the tentacles of a carrion crawler (for some reason, the bottle is labelled as ‘Pede’)
Outside, a still-levitating Fel decides to use the Wand of Wonder that the party found in the Beastlands on a patch of ground. As she does, she feels the magic within pulse back through her arm, causing it to grow… and grow… and grow, until the priestess finds herself standing twice her normal height at ten feet tall. Cornelius sings a bit of a song about how he always wanted to see somebody “turn into a giant woman”, surprising everyone. Fel decides to use her her newfound verticality to her advantage, looking out across the barren Plain of Infinite Portals, where she spies a dark shape moving across the sky near an iron fortress several miles away, which looks as if it is overgrown with giant toadstools.
Atrox and Umbra tuck themselves snugly in the giant drow’s equally enormous belt, while Elias and Cornelius take positions on her shoulders, and Stabbers climbs up onto the top of her head, grabbing strands of her hair like reins. Using her quarterstaff to leverage herself up and forward, Fel levitates towards the dark shape, over the pit to Azzagrat and a village built onto the skull of a goristro skeleton with its spine dangling over the cliff-side. She notes how unsafe that must be.
As they are passing over the pit, Atrox notices a giant spider scurrying along the belt towards her and Umbra. The tiefling freezes up as the arachnid eyes her and dribbles a glob of green goo onto her face before disappearing into Fel’s bosom. The drow lets out a booming laugh, “THAT MEANS SHE LIKES YOU.”
It doesn’t take long for them to recognize the dark shape as their target: The Ship of Chaos. It is a grotesque vessel, with a hull bound in giant rib bones, and a bow and stern in the shape of demonic visages, the forward skull looking not unlike the symbol of the Doomguard. As they come up alongside it, Atrox realizes that the material behind the bones is writhing, as if alive, as if the Ship itself were breathing.
Stabbers leaps onto the main deck, and is immediately surrounded by the trio of armanites. He tries negotiating, but can’t understand Abyssal. Meanwhile, Felynnida floats around to the front of the Ship and tries to stop it by grabbing a hold of the bow, but it proves a futile effort. It does succeed in enraging the armanites however. Elias, Atrox, and Umbra hop onto the crown of the forward skull as the demons attack.
Thanks to Stabbers’s ‘Blur’ and ‘Mage Armor’, the bladesinger avoids being… well, stabbed, and gets to stabbing himself. Unfortunately, the armanite’s flesh seems to resist his flaming sword. Atrox produces the Wand of Frost that Fel “won” from Tagon Flamebane, and summons a ‘Wall of Ice’, bisecting the deck and dealing a significant blow to the armanites. One of the demons respond by firing an electrified arrow over the wall at her.
Feeling the effects of Umbra’s magic wearing off, Fel (using the enhanced strength granted by her giant size), grabs onto the side of the deck, acting as a perch for Cornelius, who fires crossbow bolts at the armanite who shot Atrox, killing it. On the other side of the wall, Stabbers advances on his foe, slaying it. Another armanite charges Elias, who is nearly thrown off of the Ship by the attack, but is able to recover and kill the demon with a volley of ‘Magic Missiles’. Its corpse falls over the side of the ship and into the fungal forest below.
Cornelius hops off Fel’s shoulder, allowing the priestess to climb aboard as well. The rogue accompanies Stabbers upstairs, into the maw of a large skull and onto the command deck within. Elias tells them to be careful, as he doubts the armanites were the only demons about.
Fel, decides to test out her new Wand of Wonder again, this time conjuring a lightning bolt that cuts the open sky ahead of the Ship. Umbra is amazed, shouting, “Just like me!” The priestess asks what she means, and Umbra blushes, mumbling something about a nymph.
The command deck is dimly lit through the eyes of the skull, but Cornelius and Stabbers are able to see well enough to make out the chamber’s main features: a raised protrusion covered in faintly glowing nodules with ribbed orifices, and a large throne that looks like it was made from human bones. Stabbers investigates the protrusion, and realizes that it is the helm, able to be controlled by massaging the orifices. He turns that honor over to Cornelius, who calls for Atrox. Just then however, they hear a sound, as a gangly figure emerges from the shadows.
Cornelius brandishes his blade as it approaches, asking what it wants. Its eyes flash red as it whispers, “Your souls.” Cornelius is immediately knocked unconscious by the creature’s gaze and drops like a rock. Stabbers grabs the halfling’s body and charges back outside, nearly knocking Atrox down the stairs. The creature follows, but stops just short of the boundary between shadow and light.
The drow priestess uses her giant quarterstaff to knock the bodak into the sunlight, pinning it so that Stabbers can attack. The undead howls in pain, releasing a pulse of necrotic energy that brings Cornelius one step closer to death. Fel shouts to Atrox to bring the halfling to her so that she can stabilize him, but as the sorceress grabs him, something else appears just off the port side.
Elias yells “Beholder!” as the floating, spherical monster moves towards Atrox. Fel tells Stabbers to take care of it while she finishes off the bodak, but as the sun elf leaps to attack, he notices something odd about the monster—the beholder’s ‘eyestalks’ are actually mushrooms, and its central eye some sort of fungal growth. He stabs into it, and gets a faceful of spores.
The distraction gives Atrox just enough time to get Cornelius over to Fel however, as the priestess vaporizes the already weakened bodak with her ‘Sacred Flame’, and casts ‘Spare the Dying’ on the halfling, pulling him back from the brink of death.
Montague Stabbers and Elias decide to check out the rest of the Ship to make sure that there are no more nasty surprises waiting to jump out. Climbing down rungs built into the spine-like mast, the duo are assaulted by a horrid stench as they enter the cargo hold. Elias covers his nose with his checkered cloak, while Stabbers uses ‘Prestidigitation’ to fill his nostrils with the smell of booze. Below them are hundreds of dretches, writhing beneath the catwalks like mating worms. These demons seem too preoccupied with each other to notice the new arrivals however.
Stabbers asks Elias if the Doomguard said anything about cargo, and the mage tells him that “there wasn’t any when it was at Citadel Exhalus”, back before the Ship disappeared—“these are probably fodder for whatever battle those demons up-top were headed to next.” The bladesinger decides that they should leave the dretches alone, musing that “maybe we’ll get a bonus for bringing back a little extra.”
They tell everyone up above, and Fel pours some water (from her proportionally giant flask) onto the dretches out of curiosity. It doesn’t do much, aside from drawing their attention upwards. “Well, at least we know we can clean them now.”
The drow reverts to her original size as the magic of the Wand of Wonder finally dissipates, and she goes up to the command deck to see if she can use the helm. She massages the orifices, and hears a voice telepathically whisper in response.
“What do you require… master?”
She tells the Ship to go to Broken Reach so that they can bring it back to the Doomguard. It says that it will do so immediately… “but first!” The Ship suddenly plunges into one of the pits, taking the party deeper into the Lower Planes.