Into the Maw

S2 E11: Verdict

In the morning the party as well as Ao and Hyraer gather together and Scudder and Willers meet them as Sahir and Mortis say their goodbyes and make preparations for the possible annihilation of the colony. Once the goodbyes are finished Ao teleports them all to the outskirts to Divine Speakers village. As they enter the Divine Speakers gather around them and encircle them when they reach the center of the village in front of the Heirophant’s home. When they all arrive they the Heirophant leaves his home followed by Garx who towers over everyone. The Heirophant greets them and tries to get Garx to adress the issue of the colony, but he ignores it and demands to know why they haven’t done anything about the death of the Beast Heralds. The Heirophant tries to argue that the colony was a more pressing matter, but Garx interrupts him and berates him for putting the “threat” of a tiefling colony over the annihilation of an entire tribe. he then demands that he begin preparations to rebuild the Beast Heralds.

Now with their problems solved the group stands around not sure what to do next. Ao; however, approaches Garx and gives him a crushing hug and they begin to catch up. After standing around watching Ao and Garx both Siren and Sahir collapse from pain. The pain recedes, but then returns stronger in the next instance as they both realize that they are starting to dissolve into dust. The transformation accelerates rapidly and they get the attention of the group and Garx and Ao; however, it’s too late and they have both been reduced to piles of dust by the time anyone could do anything. Examining the remains Ao reveals that it was some sort of transporting spell. Without much to go on they look around for anyone trying to hide or escape until Rapture appears. She looks surprised by the two piles of dust, but even more surprised by the presence of Garx, although she hides it immediately. She tells them that they located Dusk and that he’s in the custody of a rival group of demons. After she tells them this Askazuhn appears an tells them that two aasimars and a nagaji are with him and they realize that Siren and Sahir were captured as well.

Sahir and Siren wake up in a crimson bricked room smelling of sulfur. They find that they are bound and garged and that Dusk and Maiara are there as well as four demons. Three of the demons are large shaggy beasts while the fourth has three legs and carries half of book the Barsaborak cultists had. This demon reveals that they are going to remove Apophis from Sahir and put it to good use. He enacts the ritual and and dark, writhing mass is painfully removed from Sahir’s body and as the demon is reveling in its triumph the doors of the room are burst open and Regyr, Mortis and Grrner enter with Ao and Garx fighting off the reinforcements. A brutal fight ensures where Dusk and Sahir are nearly killed, but the demons are defeated and the book and Apophis reclaimed. Ao and Garx join them and they all disappear back to the outskirts of the Divine Speakers village. They are all quickly healed, but when Sahir is told to hand over Apophis she refuses and tries to take it back; however, Garx is too fast for her and takes Apophis from her while Regyr tackles her to the ground. Garx asks what it is and as Regyr explains that it is linked to the death of the Beast Heralds, he crushes it. Unsure of what to do with Sahir they burn her left hand, removing the brand and her last connection to Barsaborak. Her job now complete Rapture bids them all farewell, but reveals to Siren that she is pregnant with his child before disappearing. Everything now resolved Ao takes them back the colony and they all get ready to help rebuild.

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S2 E10: Hereafter

Ao takes the party to the plane of Apotheosis and they find themselves in a light wood. Life seems to be everywhere around them and they realizes that all of them, excluding Ao, look like ghosts in comparison to the rest of the plane. They walk further into the woods and Regyr kills and eats a squirrel finding that it tastes better than any squirrel he’s ever eaten. As they go further they begin to hear music in the distance. They move towards it and they find a small village of gnolls and a few nagaji celebrating around the corpse of a Tyrannosaurus. They enter the village and a gnoll approaches them and greets Ao laughing. He introduces himself as Tharn Ao’s half brother. He greets the party and invites them to join in the festivities. Everyone goes around investigating both the feast and the people.

Tharn asks what their buisness is in the afterlife, especially since most of them are not followers of Karaso and Siren explains that they came here to find Garx. Tharn then reveals that Garx was here, but isn’t any more. When all of the Beast Heralds arrived many set off for the deep woods where he was staying to tell him about what happened to their tribe. Tharn speculates that they probably got there only recently. After hearing this news Siren runs to gather up everyone and tells them the bittersweet news. While they are all happy that Garx is returning to settle the situation, he is going to the Divine Speakers first and they may be able to sway him against the colony. While they are all unwilling to leave they all realize that they need to return to the colony and after stalling Ao takes them to the colony.

They appear at the colony startling some gnolls and tieflings who run to tell their superiors that the group has returned. Scudder, Willers and Zed quickly meet with them and Scudder loudly asks where they have been. They explain, also introducing him to Ao. Scudder now cowed explains that nothing much as occured here, they have been maintaining the peace and continued building up the colony. They then report to Hyraer and tell him what they have learned of Garx. Hyraer and Ao agree to set off for the Divine Speakers the next morning, but that they should get some rest after everything that they have been through.

Regyr finds Bhagrah and they catch up after he apologizes for being go so long and being so busy. Mortis finds Wakefield and he shares with her and Siren a discovery he made with the help of Maiara and Tezcacoatl. They discovered surprising similarities between the blackened aasimar bones they found and dragon bones that Wakefield had studied. After doing some tests they found similarities between Maiara’s blood and Tezcacoalt’s. Wakefield concludes that at least some of the aberrant powers possessed by Maiara and Siren are a result of having draconic biology, possibly brough on by their ancestors drinking dragon blood. There were some aspects of them that didn’t fit aasimar or dragon biology, but they haven’t found anything identifying it.

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S2 E9 Friends Above, Fiends Below

During the night Ao wakes and gets everyone else ready saying that something is wrong. Sahir finds that she is being approached by three demonic creatures. One of the demons wraps around Ao and they both vanish. The party grabs their weapons and defeat the two remaining demons one of whom shouts for Beelzebub to help him as he is stuck down. Unsure of what just occured the party contemplates what this could mean. Ao returns shortly after the end of the battle, covered in blood and ash. He reveals that he was taken to the Abyss. The group theorizes that they were going after Sahir because of how close they were to her, causing them to wonder if the demons found out about Sahir being apophis and if so how?

Eventually, Rapture appears and asks them to clarify what happend. She tells them that the information they got fits what happened. She reveals that the perpetrators were another demonic faction attempting a secret maneuver, hence why they sent only three demons, she also tells the group that Nabazhir was suppossed to be watching them, but they haven’t heard from him since she left the party. Rapture asks if they have any information about this, but they keep quite and wait for her to leave. before she goes Rapture tells them that for their safety they will send another quasit to watch them. When she is gone Regyr says his theory: nabazhir heard them talking about Sahir being apophis two days previous and that he sold that information to Beelzebub’s faction. The rest of the party agree that Regyr’s theory is probably true, but they don’t have absolute proof. The matter somewhat settled they all go back to sleep.

The next day they reach the Gray Howlers’s village and talk to one of the gnolls. He informs them that they still don’t know where Garx is and that they even talked with the Swift Hunters to the north and they didn’t find him either. They ask him what general opinon of the colony is and he tells them they are honstly indifferent. They believe that they will not be much affected if it accepted or rejected, and that sentiment is shared by the chieftain. Regyr asks if they could talk to the chieftain and the gnoll leads them to his hut. When inside they make the chieftain a proposition: if they are willing to support the colony the tieflings could send them weapons and other supplies by land or sea. The chieftain believes them, but untill they prove that they prove themselves by getting them the supplies and when they do he will consider supporting their cause.

The group leaves the village and they contemplate where Garx could possibly be if no one could find him on the entirety of The Maw. Mortis brings up the possibility of Garx being on another plane and that makes Ao pause. Ao mumbles to himself thinking quickly and then exlaims that he knows exactly where Garx is and sets out of the village. Regyr asks him where they are going and Ao says that they are going home, which Regyr quickly explains to the rest of the group that they are going to the afterlife and realm of the gods. Unsure of what this means or what will happen everyone in the group prays to their respective gods for help, even Mortis who bows her head like the others. Finally, they get a distance from the village and Ao gathers them together and brings the, to Apotheosis.

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S2 E8 Divine Intervention

After traveling for a day the group makes camp for the night. When they gather around the fire Ao tells them how he met a tiefling about thirty years ago, he asked him what he was doing so far from home and he replied “trying to find a new one.” He was dirty from travel and while he didn’t seem used to it he seemed to wear it as a badge of honor. The group speculates that this was Rearden, but Ao couldn’t confirm because he never learned his name.

After Ao’s story Siren tells Ao about Sahir being Apophis and he reveals that he could sense that she possessed some divine power, but he wasn’t aware of it’s origin. Sahir asks him if he is capable of removing the curse and he tells her that as much as he would like to rid her of it, it was bestowed by a god and is beyond his power, but maybe Garx could relieve her of it, or at least lessen it’s influence. Ao then speaks to Grrner, asking him if he knows about the boons and banes of Karaso. Stragely, Mortis knew of the subject and explains that Karaso sometimes bestows special powers on those who have suffered or experienced much and sometimes these come with a drawback as well. Ao tells Grrner that he possesses the boon of wisdom, a fairly obscure gift given to the wisest gnolls and those who have suffered some great tragedy. Grrner mentions that as they traveled he noticed more than just the winged hyena. He saw a faint red aura around Regyr, a black one around Sahir and a strong red aura around Ao. Ao comments that the chances of their group having two people touched by the gods is very odd. After the conversation ends Regyr talks to Ganal and tells him not to tell anyone else about what he heard about Sahir.

The next day while traveling Siren feels a strange pull towards the treeline. He tells the others he need to relieve himself and heads off into the woods. He eventually finds himself brought to three tainted gnoll corpses all in the same place. He investigates the area, but finds nothing else unsual figuring out that the tainted gnolls were probably killed by Blood Wardens. Siren informs the group of this and they go and burn the bodies, but Siren still feels a weird pull to that spot. Looking closer Grrner sees a black crack or rip in the air above the bodies. Mortis reasons that this is a plae where the boundary between the prime plane and Nyakimos are thin and wonders what’s on the other side. They leave Ganal with their pets and Ao takes them through the crack. They arrive in the wasteland of dust that is Nyakimos, but they find that they are standing around a pillar with words in Nihilian etched into it. it reads:

No more hope and no more light
Through the darkness of the night
The sun in all her glory waning
The stars as burnt-out beacons fading
On and further on we go
Dark and darker yet to grow
The pathway to obliteration
And then complete annihilation

After reading this they see a large group of Dustmen in the distance and decide to investigate. When the greet the dustmen they give them black stares and with every question they put to them it become quite clear that they know nothing and are utterly apathetic and despondent. Thoroughly disturbed and disquieted the group travels back to the Maw, clean themselves off and move forward. When they get close to the Blood Warden’s territory Regyr, Grrner and Ganal meet some hunters and tell them about the rift to Nyakimos and to keep an eye on it. They also ask if anyone has found Garx yet, but no one has. The three return to the rest of the group where they make camp and sleep for the night.

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S2 E7 Priestly Favors

The group returns to the Ice Fangs with the unconscious samsaran. The turn him over to the priests and they inform the party that the chieftain wants to speak to them. They find the chieftain to be as old as most elders, but maintains an imposing figure. He thanks them for clearing their temple after travelling so far. He tells them that after deliberating on the issue he has decided to support them and the colony, but because the priests of his tribe still disagree he will not have the full support of his tribe behind him. He will however send a representative as proof of his support. The group thanks him, but decided not to confront the priests to get back to the colony as quickly as possible.

On the second day of their journey they spot a lone gnoll walking on his own. From what they can see he appears older and has a staff, the like priests carry. He largely ignores them until they get up close where they can see his fur is graying, but his physique is quiet young and health. When they ask him why he is travelling alone, he replies that he isn’t and claims he has a companion beside him, a companion no one can see. Regyr and Grrner realize who he is, Ao, they first son of Garx. They are both shocked and quickly tell everyone else who he is. Ao tells them that he hasn’t met many people in his travels who possess the capacity to see his companion, but they pauses, like he is listening to someone speak. He speaks to Grrner saying that his companion believes that he possesses the ability to see him, but Grrner tells him that he can’t. Ao has Grrner kneel and he places his hand over his eyes and offers a prayer to Karaso and when Ao lifts his hand Grrner falls back in surprise. He sees a hyena bigger than Regyr with huge feathered wings. Ao reveals that he is travelling north to find Garx, and invites them to folow him. , the Ice Fang representative, says that he wants to come, but he has to report to Hyraer. Ao sends his angelic companion to inform Hyraer for him and they begin the journey north.

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S2 E6 Gnoll Negotiation

After two more day of uneventful travel the party arrives at the Ice Fangs’ territory. When they approach the village they are stopped by two gnolls who ask them what their business is. Regyr explains to them that they came to tell them about the group of aberrant gnolls that they killed. He also informs them of the symbol of Barsaborak and to kill anyone associated with the symbol. One of the gnolls gets the a gnoll named Rooverah, the daughter of the chieftain. They tell her that they came to talk to the chieftain to help convince him to support the colony. Rooverah explains that he is very old and set in his ways and that the best way to him is through the priests that he trusts absolutely. She also suggests that they give them something or do them a favor to help convince them. She tells them of their temple that was taken over by samsaran criminals, but that they have been preoccupied with the controversy over the colony and the death of the Beast Heralds. They agree to take care of the samsarans and after resting and gathering information on the temple they travel south.

When they reach the temple the attempt to ambush the samsarans guarding the cave, but they are caught and a fight ensues. The samsarans are quickly dispatched and they enter the cave to eliminate the rest of the criminals. When they enter they are able to frighten the samsarans, but they stand their ground and attack. The battle is fierce, but the samsarnas are all killed save one who was knocked unconscious and bound as an offering to the Ice Fangs.

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S2 E5 The Long Road

In the morning the group sets out for the Ice Fangs. When they make camp for the first night Grrner notices movement in the underbrush. He discovers a feathered raptor and talks to it. He convinces it to come with him and he introduces it to the group. When they begin to eat, Ripper fights with it, but Grrner separates them. That night they are all woken up by [[;nabazhir]] who gives them the burnt half of the book Dusk took with him into Nyakimos. He informs them that they found dustmen burning this part of the book and killed them when they wouldn’t give it to them. Now uncertain of Dusk’s survival they return to sleep to regain their energy for the next day.

After two more days of travel they notice smoke on the horizon. Mortis scouts ahead discovers a group of ten to twenty gnolls and when she returns to the others Regyr and Grrner recognize them as Blood Wardens, which is odd, because of how far they are from their territory. Regyr and Gerrner go to speak with them and have the others stay just out of sight. They discover they are Blood Wardens who were exiled because they disagreed with the Divine Speakers as to what must be done about the Tiefling colony. At this Regyr calls the others over. The Blood Wardens are unsure of what to do; they don’t want to get rid of the Tieflings, but the don’t want the tribes to be in such violent disagreement. Regyr tells them that they will be welcome at the colony and their leader tells him that they will think about it. They set up camp with the exiles and eat and relax with them.

In the morning they bid farewell to them and encourage them one last time to join them at the colony. When they travel during the day the see a herd of Triceratopses and they go to pick off one of the stragglers. The battle is quick and dangerous, but they take the beast down with only Regyr taking much damage.

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S2 E4 Strategy and Tactics

The gnolls launch their attack and make short work of the aberrant gnolls. Afterwards, Regyr advises that they burn the bodies and they all do so, piling them in the center of the valley and creating a large bonfire. The sun now low in the sky, everyone begins to set up their own campfires and hunting for their dinner. The group gathers around their campfire while Vraen speaks with the Divine Speakers. A one-eyed Forest Shade approaches them and introduces himself as Nerag. He explains to them that they have been trying to recruit the other tribes but everyone either sides with the Divine Speakers or is unsure. They have also been actively looking for Garx, but they are sure he isn’t within their borders and they suspect he is in the north-west near the Gray Howlers and Swift Hunters. Nerag also informs them of the greater numbers of tribeless gnolls from tribes exile them for agreeing with the colony. Regyr decides that they should travel to the Ice Fangs, the closest tribe that is still unaligned, and convince them to support the colony and hopefully delaying the Divine Speakers. Nerag also discusses their ideas to rebuild the Beast Heralds or create a new tribe in their place. He laments that their is too much that they have to do in too little time. Nerag wishes them good luck and leaves.

Vraen returns and asks what they’re doing next. Regyr tells him that they are going to the Ice Fangs to convince them to support the colony and he clearly disapproves. Reygr argues with him about the benefits of working with the tieflings and Vraen relents, promising to not rebel until the Divine Speakers decide the tieflings should leave. Even so, Vraen decides to return to the village, to inform the chieftain that they were successful and that they left for the Ice Fangs. The group makes small talk around the fire until the sun sets and they all go to sleep.

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S2 E3 Whispers Among the Warriors

After dinner Siren returns to his hut and finds Rapture waiting for him. She tells him how important it is that they find some way of getting rid of Ankita the samsaran paladin. She suggest using her shape changing powers to frame her and Siren decides to discuss the possibility the next day. At the same time Scudder pulls Mortis and Sahir to have a meeting along with Willers. Scudder reveals that he found out about the dead tribe and asks them all to be frank with him. He also brings up the question of what they are going to do to rebuild their relationship with the gnolls and support the new batch of mercenaries. Sahir assures both Scudder and Mortis that they can trust Zed and Mortis volunteers to talk to Regyr about using their hunting territory more effectively. Finally, Scudder tells them that the notes that Rearden left not only mentioned wanting to start over, but also to rebuild, which he believes means that Rearden wanted to start mining and smithing on the continent, which could be considered another colony. They decide to keep quite on it and to work around the new developments.

Regyr and Grrner waited until everyone was asleep before the set out into the woods for Vraen‘s meeting. When they get there they see several elders as well as the surviving Beast Herald have been gathered around a fire. Vraen tells them all that he is tired of dealing with the tieflings and the trouble that follows them. He encourages that they ally with the Divine speakers and overthrow Hyraer if necessary. Regyr and Grrner stand up to Vraen and argue that the tieflings are alright as long as they don’t break the terms of their contract. Vraen is incredulous and storms off after he realizes he is unable to convince them to turn against the tieflings. Afterwards, Regyr goes to the surviving Beast Herald and tells him not to let Vraen boss him around, then both Regyr and Grrner return to their huts.

The next morning Mortis wakes Regyr up and asks him about hunting tips and begins to put together a curriculum to teach their workers how to hunt. Latter in the day Siren approaches Regyr and tells him about Rapture’s plan to get rid of Ankita. Regyr tells him that they can’t do it with out getting Rapture killed or breaking the terms of the contract. Regyr then talks to Hyraer and tells him that there are dissenters, but doesn’t reveal their identities. Hyraer tells Regyr that they just found the largest group of abberant gnolls since the attack on the village at the border of their territory and the territories of the Divine Speakers and the Forrest Shades. They received this information last night and they wanted some people experienced with fighting the aberrant gnolls before engaging them. Hyraer asks for Regyr to organize their group to deal with this and he agrees. Everyone agrees to come along, but Regyr also brings Vraen along to fight and Rapture tags along with Siren disguised as a gnoll. They arrive at the sight two days later and meet up with the Forest Shades and Divine Speakers and they come up with a plan. The aberrant gnolls split into roughly three groups so they each would take one group.

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S2 E2 Paths New and Old (p2)

A week and a half after fulfilling their end of the demonic the group is waiting for news. Willers questions Mortis about Rapture and she convinces him that she was sent to the Maw as part of a scandal. At the same time Vraen tells Regyr and Grrner to meet him outside of the village at night.

After these scenes play out, word quickly spreads that three ships have arrived. Everyone gathers on the coast as rowboats reach the shore. Scudder and an unknown tiefling join the group. As Scudder tries to explain the news from Dimos another tiefling and a samsaran approach and explain that they are mercenaries sent by the Aurex to secure the colony. They introduce themselves as Zed Brock, a massive tiefling with a broken horn and a commander of the Blades of Empyrean, and Ankita Kaur, a mute paladin of Mephibosheth and a lieutenant of the Blades of Empyrean. Scudder hands Mortis a proclamation from the Aurex that explains that after the two deaths that occured on the Maw experts were asked whether the colony could survive. It was determined that the gnolls could become aggressive in the future and in the interests of safety she would send some of her own mercenaries to protect the colony. Scudder also introduces the other tiefling as the famous author Servius Wakefield.

Wishing to discuss private matters the group leaves the mercenaries to speak to Scudder and Wakefield about the goings on of the colony. They explain to him about Tezcacoatl, Maiara and the cult of Barsaborak, leaving out the contract with demons, the death of the Beast Heralds and Sahir being Apophis. In turn, Scudder tells them that the Aurex has rallied people to her side and now the colony and the Empyrean Commercium are very unpopular. He also tells them that Rearden Metal Smithing was a company run by a tiefling man named Rearden who rose up from being a coal miner. He was constantly trying to innovate, but on the verge of creating something extraordinary he vanished and his company quickly declined when his sister took over and was eventually bought by Willisa Mouch. Apparently, Rearden came to the Maw, based on the journal entries that they found and went to try and rebuild. Scudder suspects the Aurex may be responsible, but has no real evidence against her. The group asks Scudder what he knows about Zed and Ankita, but he knows very little. Finally, to make sure everything stays smooth they get Scudder to inform the mercenaries about the specifics of the contract and that they can not expand.

When Scudder is gone they talk with Wakefield and he explains that he is there to research gnoll culture for a book he is writing on world culture. He asks about Tezcacoatl and learns as much as he can about them and what has happened in the colony thus far, writing it all down in a notebook he caries with him everywhere. Eventually, everyone leaves and Grrner, Regyr and Sahir go to talk to Zed and Ankita. Zed and Regyr get along well and they explain that they are only there on a job and don’t hold anything against the gnolls. Zed explains that he got his horn borken during the Dimo-Qurturbian War and met Ankita in Rajilara. Ankita was born mute and sent off to be a priest, but quickly showed her affinity for combat and became a paladin. Zed recognizes Sahir as they used to work together, but she left.

Everyone goes their seperate ways until dinner and because of the new arrivals both the colony and the village are open to everyone. During the meal Mortis talks to Wakefield and asks him what he knows about Apophis. He explains that from what little information he gathered Apophis was some gigantic ophidian creature that served Barsaborak and was a harbinger of the apocalypse. She gives him her notes that she had gathered over her time on the Maw and they talk about her findings through the meal.

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