As it turns out, there were TWO people in the cage in Father Abrahmo’s chuckle hut! One of them said, “Bingo?” And then the curtain rises on tonight’s session. Bingo recognizes the voice: “Petunia?” He ugly-cries.
The skeletons take up defensive positions around Father Abramo and the goblins raise their shortbows. Abrahmo’s mind is clearly gone – his clothes are dirty and unwashed, he’s covered in dried blood, and he’s got a crazy Joker grin. Roll for initiative!
Nila uses Thunderwave to explode a skeleton, but then there’s a lair action and a new skeleton forms out of all the crap on the floor. Boo! That’s not what we wanted at all! Cael remembers to cast Hunter’s Mark on Abrahmo but misses his armor class. The bound and gagged captive attempts to have the other captive (Petunia, we assume.) help him undo his bindings through the cage wall dividing them. Doesn’t go well. Various other shots and hits are dealt to the baddies. Then Abrahmo starts chanting and the skeletons and goblins start attacking and everything is kind of screwed up. Nila goes to zero hit points when a skeleton runs her through. But Nesse comes in with a clutch Cure Wounds a moment later.
Nila turns into a honey badger that’s sort of a messed-up kangaroo weasel with a cat face. The lair action generates so many fucking skeletons that James runs out of minis. Now the ranged fighters are at disadvantage because of the goddamn crowd, which is super great. Bingo gives Petunia a dagger to cut the other captive’s bindings. This mysterious person casts Mage Hand to get the key to the cages off the wall. Abrahmo goes crazy-go-nuts when he sees we’re interfering with the prisoners, as though he’s gearing up for something. Eventually there’s a shitstorm of skeleton and goblin attacks, and Abrahmo casts something on Bingo; it appears to be Toll the Dead. It knocks him right the fuck out. But here comes Nesse with Healing Word.
There’s another lair action. More skeletons. Yay. But we whack away at them, trying to do crowd control so someone can hit the evil cleric again. The mysterious caged stranger lets himself out of the cage with the keys, Then that dick Abrahmo casts something that paralyzes Isanna completely and incapacitates her and everything against her has advantage and is a crit. It’s amazing, because all these advatanged attacks keep missing.
More lair actions, but the skeleton that forms is kind of wobbly. The lair’s heart just isn’t in it. Bingo casts Faerie Fire , so now some attacks have advantage, which we like and appreciate, thanks Bingo. The mysterious caged stranger passes the keys to Petunia and casts Firebolt, so now everyone knows he’s got magic. Yay magic! Isanna is still fucking paralyzed. The mysterious magical stranger gets fucked right up by skeletons and goes to zero. Isanna takes some hurting. Nesse Tolls the Dead on a skeleton.
The lair craps out on its action entirely this round. What a relief. Bingo takes a shot at Abrahmo and misses. The mysterious magical stranger fails a death save. Isanna saves from the paralysis at last. Abrahmo Tolls the Dead on Crea, who got all up in his business on her turn. One of the skeletons does some damage to Petunia, who has come out of her cage and tried to kick the skeleton’s ass. Talhier goes to zero fighting gerblins.
The lair spits out a single janky skeleton. Cael takes a shot at Abrahmo and misses. Bingo shoots at him, too, and hits. The mysterious magical stranger fails another death save. This is comedy gold, because Kolt notes that his character hasn’t even spoken a word in this game and he’s going to fucking die. Crea chops Abrahmo’s head off (woot!) and the skeletons all die in response. The goblins are super not into this scene now. Isanna shoots one in the gut, and the gerblins surrender. Cael and Isanna slit the goblins’ throats over Bingo’s lily-livered protests.
We’re out of combat, and everyone levels up. While goblin blood is shed, Nesse sprints over to the mysterious stranger and stabilizes him with a healer’s kit. (For funsies, Kolt actually makes and fails his last death saving throw.) Nila goes to Talhier and casts Cure Wounds. Talhier, who assumes he must have slipped in goblin blood, casts Prestidigitation to clean himself up.
Cael finds a foot locker behind the shitty statue Abrahmo was making. Isanna picks the lock and finds some bags and some items. The bags are full of money. There are a pair of boots, a shield, a cylinder and a small sickle-like weapon on a chain that would be great for a monk, probably, we guess. The boots look like heavy winter climbing boots, and the shield is emblazoned with an eye. The cylinder contains a scroll.
We take a short rest. Petunia starts sobbing and throws herself into Bingo’s arms. It takes her a long time to start making sense again. Cael looks over Abrahmo’s body and finds that he had a human skull that he was using as some kind of magical focus.
Talhier puts the magical stranger on the bed in the other room. He revives and notes that for most of his captivity, he was pretty much dead, and then we showed up and he was pretty much dead again. His name is Herm. Bingo introduces himself, “You’ve probably heard of me.” Herm has heard of him, from Petunia.
Herm came to town some time ago — he doesn’t remember how long — and he doesn’t remember how he came to be locked away. He has a faint memory of snake-like images similar to the shitty statue in the corner. Bingo give him the scroll we found earlier, since he seems like a magic-y kind of guy.
The looters find another bag of coins on Abrahmo. They also find that he’s wearing a chain under his armor and there are four horseshoes attached to the chain. Petunia tells Bingo that she was certainly going to die in the cage.
After about 40 minutes, Petunia gets up and walks back into the secret room. Bingo stops playing and follows her. Petunia is moving in a dreamlike way, toward the cage. She picks up the dagger from the fight and goes over the Abrahmo and starts stabbing the hell out of him. She goes nuts. When Bingo tries to stop her, she lashes out at him, but she comes to herself and apologizes. She’s traumatized.
We decide to leave through the front door of the temple, send Petunia to the Alderman’s house for safety and have Teagan take us to the swamp to clean house. As we leave the temple, we run into the Alderman, the woman he met when he took in Aila (Sigrid), and Aila. They’re armed, and they’re surprised we’re alive. It’s been a while – we forgot about that.
The Alderman recognizes Herm and Petunia. He realizes they’ve been missing for months. Herm can’t believe it’s been three months. The Alderman says that after we disappeared from the Golden Grain, people came to his house to try to take Aila. They’ve been locked up, along with everyone who was at the Golden Grain. Sigrid goes back into the temple.
Everyone goes back to the Alderman’s house. Isanna runs all the stuff from the priestess’ room by him; it doesn’t ring a bell. Herm DOES recognize it. He recalls a journey northeast of town. Teagan says yeah, the swamp temple is northeast of town. Herm remembers seeing snakes or a snake, but it might have been visions. Petunia has fuzzy memories of the trip as well, and her visions match up. They remember an ominous figure with terrible eyes. People kept talking about feeding them to something, then Abrahmo came and secured their release into his custody.
The Alderman is good and pissed off that he was working hard for this town and this was all going on under his nose. Sigrid comes back about an hour later, pulling a cart piled with bodies from the temple and below it. The Alderman takes off for the constable’s office; Talhier follows.
At the constable’s office, the people we were told not to trust are all locked up. The people from the common room of the Golden Grain are just hanging around the porch there. Inside, the Alderman has a cell open and is beating the shit out of the shopkeeper. It’s sort of a questioning, but it’s mostly a shit-beating. Talhier clears his throat and the beating stops. There are some more frustrated words, and Talhier returns to the house.
Eventually the Alderman returns and sees us hanging around, Herm and Petunia snoozing away. He goes to another room and comes back with a chest, which he unlocks. He says he and Sigrid used to be mercenaries and did well for themselves. He puts three bags of coin on the table. 3000 gold in exchange for purging the swamp temple. If someone can be saved, save them. Kill all threats to the town.
We say we’ll set out in the morning after we outfit Herm with some actual clothes and some armor. Petunia says she’s not going and Bingo shouldn’t either. Bingo says he has to go – someone has to stop these terrible things. But Petunia can stay with the Alderman.
We return to our original inn, where Belba is happy to see us. She’s all aflutter over the recent doings. She tells Isanna that she had an out-of-town visitor while she was gone. The visitor rented the private dining room until they could speak. Isanna says she’ll just go to his room.
She knocks. A man’s voice answers, and she recognizes his accent, if not his voice. He’s from Torelle (pronounced t’rell), whence Isanna fled not so long ago. She goes inside. The man is the spymaster for the city-state of Torelle. Does she have a moment to talk? Oh, of course.
The Duchess is missing, ever since the night of her honeymoon. His lordship has people scouring the countryside. Does Isanna know where she is? She doesn’t. The spymaster is worried, and not in his professional capacity. He’s known the duchess all her life. They trade barbs – the upshot is, if Isanna has word of Duchess Alexandra, she should leave word for Guildsman Kerrek at the Riverstone Inn in Sodor.
The party beds down for the first bit of restful sleep they've had in a couple of days.