Wealday, 25 Erastus, 4734
As the party prepares to bed down in the relative safety of the Fen of the Icemists, Ameiko praises Lea’s actions in the battle: saving Zavian and slaying the storm giant Nenzir. She feels like this is a bit over her head, as all she did was hang in back invisible. Lea tells her that she saved all of them with her illusion that tricked the dragon, which causes Ameiko to blush. Lea then draws out an extended metaphor describing the party as an ensemble that requires a mix of performers, which appeals to Ameiko.
Oathday, 26 Erastus, 4734
The following morning, as they dine on heroes’ feast, Grenja announces her intentions for moving forward. She liked Zavian’s suggestion that she join up with the Black Talon mercenaries, so she has decided to stay until Reri recovers their missing commander Viorian Dekanti. She isn’t sure whether to remain giant-sized or be reduced to human size. But when Marcus permanently enlarges himself, she decides that remaining large herself is the most useful thing right now.
Marcus then arranges to teleport a delegation to Kaer Maga to make sales and purchases. Lea and Ameiko decide to stay behind, and Malakah grudgingly agrees. Everyone else joins the enormous wizard as he transports them to the middle of the Downmarket District. Before they go, Lea calls in the favor she won from Reri in order to get a significant discount on an armor enchantment.
Lea immediately splits off from the group to seek out Daelyn at the Common House tavern in the Bottoms District.
Marcus and Zavian take some time to explain to Grenja how to behave in a city, and how things work there. She repeats their advice multiple times, committing it to memory. Marcus realizes that the last time they were in this district, they created a ruckus while freeing some slaves.
The wizard notices ragged messengers running ahead of them as they move through the market, notifying the merchants of their approach. The traders close shop as soon as the adventurers try to barter with them. Marcus warns the others to stay alert.
They are confronted by a minotaur and a pair of clay golems, escorts for a delegation from the merchant consortium that runs the Downmarket. The dwarf spokesperson chastises Zavian and Marcus for their previous actions disrupting the market. The orc member of the delegation demands compensation for his lost merchandise. The adventurers are given two options, pay a hefty fine or be banished from the district.
Zavian recognizes that the consortium’s concern is the disruption to the market and they are merely seeking to reassert their authority. Zavian uses his knowledge of Abadarian practices to trade information to help the merchants avoid scrutiny on their next audit in exchange for forgiveness of the incident. The adventurers are let off with a stern warning not to stir up trouble.
At the Common House, Amelia catches up with Daelyn and gives her back the golembane dagger. Daelyn is relieved that Amelia is still in one piece and wasn’t too off put by the Keris Figurehead. She explains that the Keris simulacra and the original consider themselves one person and gather twice a year to merge memories. And that is apparently the tip of the iceberg for weirdness in her family.
Daelyn is incredibly thankful that Amelia has returned her missing ship, and has grown interested in the bard to a degree she perhaps has never before experienced. The two spend the afternoon chatting and catching up. Daelyn also repays Amelia the 1,500gp she was loaned, with an extra 500gp on top. The privateers had made some extra coin playing cards, as her lizardman first mate Arakos has a spectacular poker face.
After making many sales and purchases, the other adventurers link up with Amelia at the Common House. It is only then that Marcus realizes he hasn’t memorized a second teleport spell to take them back. He asks Zavian to help out, to Grenja’s shock and Reri’s amusement. The cleric is able to burn two spells to get the five of them back to the Fen of the Ice Mists.
Meanwhile, Lea spent the morning taking some private time with Ameiko while the lamia Malakah prowled around the frozen swamp. The paladin then seeks out their host, the ice nymph Svevenka. The purple fey woman demands to know why the party brought a vile lamia into her realm. Lea explains that their mission included rescuing this one as part of an effort to redeem several of the creatures. The paladin promises to keep Malakah on a short leash.
Lea questions Svevenka about the location of the ancient blue dragon. The fey woman explains that the dragon lairs in the ruins of the fortified tax collection office for Shalast. She warns that the dragon has powerful magic at its command, but notes that it has also aligned itself with Runelord Karzoug.
After speaking to the nymph, Lea tells Malakah to stop hunting fish in the fens. She gets the lamia some food and then she and Ameiko regale her with tales of Seleval’s deeds. Malakah lays out her vision of rescuing Nenet, moving to Korvosa, living with Seleval, Zaelsar and Nenet as one big pride, being Seleval’s squire and helping her rescue a princess (because Seleval has a huge thing for princesses). Lea, blushing at the last remark, encourages the vision as a future to strive for and asks about Nenet.
Malakah explains that her friend is from Osirion far to the south, and was drawn to Xin-Shalast by a series of visions. As an outsider, Nenet is treated with suspicion by the other lamias, but she treats Malakah kindly and tells exciting stories,. Recently, Malakah has been helping Nenet move around after she was forceably de-clawed as punishment for failing to ambush some adventurers. Malakah worries about how she’s doing on her own. Lea promises to retrieve Nenet.
When the shopping expedition returns that evening, Zavian and Marcus have their own question for Malakah: how do the all-female lamias reproduce? They have a bet going on the answer.
Malakah explains that because lamias were created from humans, they can reproduce with human males. They can also reproduce with half-human creatures, but that is less likely to be successful. Malakah herself was fathered by a half-elf, which is sometimes held up as a reason why she is so slow-witted.
She says this is a touchy issue in Xin-Shalast, which is cut off from the outside world and only sees human visitors perhaps once a century. As soon as any human men blunder into region, there is a rush to claim them. The lamias try to get a few litters out of them, but often grow impatient to taste human flesh and devour them long before their daughters come of age. One reason the lamias are supportive of Karzoug is that his plan of conquest will grant them plenty of mates, which is particularly important to followers of Lamashtu who have a religious obligation to birth more monsters.
As the party reels from the horror of this explanation, Marcus realizes that his father is being held prisoner here. He angrily warns of retribution if his father was treated that way. Malakah says he’s being held in the Spires, not the lamia temple, but of course there are lamias in the Spires as well. Zavian and Lea try to assure Marcus that his dad is okay.
Changing topics, Zavian asks Reri what she did before joining the Black Talon mercenaries. She explains that she grew up in Riddleport. Her dad was some unknown sailor, and she lost her mother at a young age. She grew up on the streets, running with various gangs of ruffians. One day, she and her friend Genner got in a tavern brawl and managed to impress the mercenary Viorian Dekanti, who recruited them to her company. Viorian came up from nothing, too, and served as something of a mentor to Reri.
Zavian asks what happened to Genner. Reri says he was killed when Viorian went berserk and massacred the company headquarters before departing for Xin-Shalast. Zavian’s attempts to commiserate with Reri on the challenges of growing up with extraplanar heritage, but it falls kind of flat. She asks him what he saw when he died and he relates his encounter with Sarenrae and his witnessing souls being drawn toward the spires.
After that troubling conversational turn, Zavian uses the create demiplane spell to provide a more secure and comfortable refuge for the party to rest. He initially makes the plane resemble the scenic landscape of the heavens where he served with Elszevina in his past life. But he offers to adjust the dwellings to the liking of the other adventurers, ending up with a strange hodgepodge structure. So far from the reach of their enemies, they decide not to set a watch.
In the middle of the night, Zavian is awoken by someone tickling his feet. It’s the tiefling woman Reri, wearing only her small clothes. He quickly realizes she is being possessed by the contract devil Belawara. The fiend wanted to check in on Zavian after his brush with death and see if his opinion had changed on her contract offer. He questions her about the first part, in which she will provide her copy of Elszevina’s contract in exchange for Zavian eliminating a rival devil named Gamigin.
Belawara tells him that Gamigin lairs in the arena known as the Heptaric Locus, which lies in Xin-Shalast on the way to the spires. She also says that the devil has allied with Karzoug and carries one of those pretty star rings. Zavian is still suspicious, but ultimately signs the agreement. Belawara promises to check in again soon and saunters out of the room, closing the door with Reri’s tail.
Fireday, 27 Erastus, 4734
The next morning, Zavian gathers the party in his war room to discuss next steps. He elides the details of his nighttime encounter but says that he’d gotten intel on a devil residing in the Heptaric Locus who has one of the rings. Malakah argues that they should go after Nenet. She notes that if they defeat the lamia matriarch in charge of the temple, Savarosi, they could also get a Sihedron ring. She is worried that if they delay, Nenet could suffer reprisals in her absence.
However, Zavian points out that the Heptaric Locus is the closest of the target areas, followed by the lamia temple, with the dragon Ghlorofaex’s lair the furthest away. If the attack the temple, they could be caught in a pincer between the dragon and the devil. He persuades the party to go after Gamigin first. They finish their heroes’ feast and prepare to head out.