Dates: 17 August to 19 September 2023.
Levels: 5 – 9
- Yusung. Level 7 Kor Druid (Calmseeker)
- Galli. Level 7 Gnome Wizard (tiffthatsit)
- Beralt. Level 6 Bugbear Blood Hunter (Espada)
- Vivi. Level 8 Sikahla Sorcerer (Konopa)
- Slissezh. Level 6 Yuan-ti Warlock Sorcerer (TheOddity)
- Kirnis. Level 9 Triton Warlock Sorcerer (Genthrock)
After getting a letter, we went to confront the Master. Gringal joined us but went ahead of us and lost to the Master. We entered through doorway in cave that was a portal to demiplane. Found cathedral where Master was, still possessing Destra’s body. Fought and managed to remove Master from Destra, leaving Master as puddle of shadows. Destroyed owl statues that Master used to hold onto his power. Gringal sacrificed himself to ensure that remaining owl statues would be destroyed and that Master would not escape. We left and destroyed the stone slab, destroying the doorway. Returned to Destra’s tree. Found that Destra had lost her memory.
At town, elven man dressed in rags gave a letter to us before saying, “You can’t win,” and turning into a pile of dust. Disturbing, to say the least.
The letter said:
“”You went back and changed things. Did it give you the results you were hoping for?
Come, let’s have some tea and end this once and for all.
Went to see Gringal. Saw Gringal’s burning wolf and followed it.
Gringal’s burning wolf
Met Tulen the half-orc woman, daughter of Gringal.
Tulen the half-orc woman, daughter of Gringal.
Together, we discussed what to do about the Master. Then met with Gringal.
Gringal the half-orc man.
Vivi tried speaking in code since he thought the Master might be overhearing us, but since none of us was debriefed beforehand, I had almost no idea what he was trying to say.
“Moonlight is piercing the ever shrouded window of the soul. Night is beckoning to the star touched soul of the wanderer.”
-Vivi trying to speak in code.
Gringal also got confused.
The current situation was that the Master had control over Destra’s body, and we wanted to not kill Destra while destroying the Master.
“Best guess is he’s attempting to wipe her out completely and make the body his own. From the stories as a child he did that by taking over a male elf before seducing Blue.”
Gringal suggested using the prison (I assume he was talking about the portal to the demi-plane prison where Beralt was imprisoned) to get to where the Master was.
“We need to be prepared to kill him in whatever body he hass. If we hessitate he’ll usse it to hiss advantage. He will probably try to trick uss into showing merccy if he’ss lossing ass well, pretend tat Desstra iss regaining control.”
“Slissezh, protecting Destra is not a weakness for me. The master can use ever trick he wants to. They will mean nothing.”
Vivi seemed adamant about doing the right thing and saving Destra, whereas Slissezh seemed more objective about needing to take care of the situation. I was uncertain about my stance. I wanted to side more with Vivi, but I did not have as much of an emotional attachment towards Destra as he did. The night passed quietly enough with these thoughts swirling in my head.
Gringal asked if we were followed. It was then I noticed the flock of birds flying above us. He said that it was a bad sign. Tulen distracted the birds while we left, much to Gringl’s dismay.
At the party’s behest, I cast Pass Without Trace while leaving in order to escape the birds, which were possibly getting controlled by the Master to spy on us.
Travelled west then southwest.
Another quiet night passed.
When morning came, the half-orc Gringal and his 2 wolves were fucking gone. We decided to follow the scorch marks from his wolves going west, so we followed them.
As we approached the river, we saw there were burned corpses of humanoids. We saw next to the next the dead body of one of Gringal’s wolves. Uncertain of why Gringal went ahead of us, we headed into the cave tunnel to get to the prison.
Location of the cave to the prison.
Entered through the tunnel hidden behind an illusory section of the river. Tunnel led into cave. Reached part of the cave with the stone tablet where someone had to give blood to open the doorway. More bodies were scattered about, likely killed by Gringal and his wolf.
Entered through the doorway that lead to the demiplane.
Ruined arena. Located in demiplane beyond the doorway with stone slab
We found ourselves in a ruined arena with several houses falling apart from age and neglect. We found a cathedral with wide doors. Entering the cathedral doorway, we found a man with dark tendrils around him and sitting on a mound of corpses. The dark tendrils held swords and moved at his beck and call. Next to him, Gringal was lying face down unconscious.
The Master’s base form (in control of Destra’s body).
Kirnis was unable to find a pulse on Gringal, but thankfully, he was later proven wrong as Gringal was still alive.
The Master somehow knew about the changes to the timeline and boasted his mastery over reality. He was interested in negotiating with us. He also had 2 mercenaries he had hired: a tortle and a dragonborn in case his offer was refused.
The tortle and dragonborn mercenaries. The dragonborn’s punches were excruciatingly painful.
The party was overall hostile towards the Master for good reason, but I decided to play devil’s advocate and asked him was his offer was. He said the following:
“Serve me, and I shall grant you power beyond any you could imagine. You will have the chance to experience worlds beyond your imagination as we take them under our control.” He smiles at the thought of invading worlds.
“A thousand years of service and you will be giving a world of your choosing to rule over for the rest of your days.”
At this point, it was clear to everyone, especially Slissezh, that the Master was megalomaniacal. Slissezh refused his offer first, prompting the Master to reveal that he held Ilestra hostage as well. Beralt was resolute though, and the Master stabbed Ilestra through the gut with one of his swords held with a black tendril. This was the signal for myself that the time for talk was over.
“I guess that concludes negotiations.”
-Yusung (yours truly)
The Master’s tendril turned into shadows then covered his body completely, giving him a truly eerie appearance as his visage finally matched his dark, malevolent heart.
The Master’s shadow armor form
Combat ensued as it inevitably would as the Master summoned more shadowy tendrils to attack us. Discovered that light would make the tendrils disappeared, so party used what light sources they had like torches. I used my Starry Form’s light.
Vivi used lightning bolts. Beralt used his longsword. Galli cast various spells like Scorching Ray. Slissezh used orbs from his book and eldritch blasts. Kirnis used darkness as well as eldritch blasts.
I used my giant ape form using Polymorph and my Dragon Starry form, but the tortle’s warhammer blows ended that strategy. The dragonborn could also punch very hard, which hurt a lot. I tried using Moonbeam as well.
Gringal was brought back up with healing light.
The Master could travel between the shadows and grabbed Vivi’s shoulder.
“See here,” his voice was a commanding whisper. “I hold all the power. Someone as fresh out of the shadows as you would never compare.”
However, when things were looking bleak, something special happened as Vivi seemed to realise something, and he summoned a lance of pure fire that seemed to mentally assault the Master.
“Power? You hold nothing.”
-Vivi’s moment of heroism
Vivi seemed to see something as the looks in his eyes became momentarily distant. He then asked for us to help Destra, whom was still hanging on, despite the Master possessing her body.
“Destra is still there fighting him from inside. We need to force him out of her body. She needs our help.”
-Vivi after having an epiphany
Slissezh was irked at this additional complication when we were heavily wounded, but I managed to have a good idea at that moment and tried Dispel Magic on the Master. Perhaps I should have done this earlier, but in my defense, perhaps it would not have worked until Vivi had his moment, and the Master was weakened. What I do know for sure is that after my spell was cast, the shadowy armour covering the Master disappeared, and the Master’s form changed back into that of Destra.
Destra back in control of her own body.
Vivi shot out another fiery lance towards Destra, but he spoke the Master’s name, causing Destra’s eyes to roll back and her worn out body to fall to the ground. Then, darkness oozed out of her nose and mouth and pooled out of her body.
From what I could tell, Destra had regained control of her body, and the Master had left her in the form of the darkness, which must be his true form.
(Full disclosure, I was only half certain that the spell was going to work. I didn’t think it would and that we would have to knock her out first).
“Well, I’ll be a mephit’s uncle. I can’t believe that spell worked.”
-Yusung (I said this part in Primordial to avoid others finding out).
My best rendition of the Master’s true form of pure darkness
I healed Destra with my Starry Chalice form as well as myself as well as using Lesser Restoration just in case that would help.
Gringal told us that the Master used small owl statues to anchor his form to this dimension and his power.
The darkness that was likely the Master’s true form was a puddle-like ooze that crawled across the dark floor towards the wall to reach the nearest shadows. Vivi, another being of shadows, spoke to the Master, which felt fitting in a way.
“I know we do not require eyes to see, or ears to hear. I know you can understand me. Stop moving. Stop running. Face the consequences of your own decisions. I am certain that those you met when you first arrived moulded your thoughts and actions; taught you their method of survival here. That does not mean you must continue to walk that hollow and immoral path. If I were to guess, all your initial friends are either dead or despise you. What you were doing is not living, not conquering, not gaining power. You were simply hiding. This is your one chance to stop.”
-Vivi’s final warning to the Master.
Alas, Vivi’s bold words were not received by the Master as it did not react to them in any discernible way.
I also healed the stabbed Ilestra and Gringal while this was happening. Ilestra came to as well.
Vivi recalled that the cryptexes that held messages that were received by the party all had owl statues inside them and suggested destroying them. Galli tried burning them, but they did not get destroyed, merely cracking them. I offered to break them using my magical quarterstaff. After each one was broken, the ground began to tremble more and more. After the third one was broken, the roof began to collapse, which was the cue for us to leave. The mercenaries were no longer hostile to us as their fight with us had finished, and they helped carry out Destra and Ilestra.
Vivi gave the 2 necklaces he had of Blue and put them on Destra while offering to stay behind to ensure that the Master’s owl statues were destroyed and trapping the remains of the Master, or the puddle of darkness, sacrificing his life to ensure the Master was gone for good. However, Gringal said Vivi must go with Destra, and he summoned small skulls that bit into the puddle and held it in place. He promised he would destroy the last 3 owl statues and see that the Master was destroyed. Vivi objected, saying that Gringal’s children would mourn the loss of their father, and Destra would mourn her brother. Gringal managed to convince Vivi.
“I will miss you friend. I own nothing in this place that I can offer you to show how true of a friend you are to me. I don’t even have a body..” Vivi puts his hands in his pockets and seperates his jacket to show that there is nothing inside. As he does, he is reminded of something and pulls out his hands. “Actually, here. This was a gift from my first true friend. The reason I am standing here today to fulfill a promise that I made. I think it is fitting that I should give this to you. You truly are the knight I was tasked with finding. The only one who could save Destra. Keep this close, it’s very important.” Vivi reaches out with a small scrap of paper in his hand, giving it to Gringal. Afterward he pats him on the knee and turns to the others. “We need to get them out of here.”
-Vivi’s farewell to Gringal.
Gringal gave Vivi in return a blackened copper piece to give to his children.
“As short a time as I’ve known you, I can honestly say you are an amazing friend. May your days be filled with many amazing adventures with great friends.”
-Gringal’s farewell to Vivi.
Carrying the heavily injured, we made it back to the doorway that led to the island. Gringal called out to us one last time.
“I’ll be waiting for you in the afterlife with a cold one. You’d better have some amazing stories to share.”
-Gringal’s last words
I nodded and said, “Until then, farewell, Gringal.” I managed to hold back my tears in respect of his resolve.
A pillar of flames erupted from where Gringal was, and the cathedral collapsed and fell apart. That was the last thing I saw as I entered the doorway back to the cave.
Galli detected that the stone slab is what was retaining the doorway that acted as a portal to demiplanes. Vivi destroyed the stone slab with Dragon’s Breath. The tortle mercenary also helped by hammering on the slab until thick red liquid began pouring out of it. That turned out to be blood. Inside the stone was a skeletal figure. Where its heart once was, there is a green glass heart. I cracked the heart, causing the heart to vibrate and pulsate until it exploded with a mighty boom.
The doorway opened, and air began rushing into it. Thankfully, no one was sucked inside as the spectral doorway was slammed shut before fading away.
Now that we had ensured the Master could not follow us, we left the cave quickly before anything else could happen, lamenting the loss of Gringal.
I smoked my pipe and burned a goodberry in memory of Gringal, wondering what was left for the offspring of the Master.
The mercenaries left and said they were sailing away from the island.
We decided to return Destra and Ilestra to Destra’s place in the Small Folk Forest.
In the evening, I saw a small deer with a limp. I healed the deer. It nudged for me to follow it. Though it was suspicious that a deer would beckon for us to follow in a forest of fey, we followed it to a shack. The deer stepped into the shack then disappeared. Beralt heard the following in Sylvan:
“It knows the path you came to choose,
It hears the breath you take,
the boards that creak beneath your shoes,
the leaves that crack and break.
It knows you chose to walk alone,
and how your secrets hide.
It seeds beneath the heart of you,
the creeping roots of fear,
and in your heart you feel it too…
…you’re always welcome here.”
The shack was completely empty, so we decided to stay there for the night.
I tried wild shaping into a deer during the night to see if that would help, but it did not.
Vivi gave Ilestra words of encouragement as she seemed standoffish.
“I can understand why you are so hesitant. Things happened during that fight and now you are forever changed. Trust me, though, your bravery in the face of that monster was heroic. You stood up to a someone seeking to control time and space, that was truly a beautiful sight. You are not yet used to the scars you bear, both internally and externally, but I think you should be proud of them. You might miss the way you were before, and I’m certain that we can find someone to help you if you want, but your actions define you as someone who will stand and fight. Even when everyone around you is taken from you, turns on you, or abandons you. You stood heroically, and I only wish I could have stood beside you sooner. You are a beautiful person with amazing talents. I’m not saying this because I want you to change at all. I just noticed that you have been thinking a lot. I figured you have not yet heard from an outside observer, so I wanted to let you know. Also, if it’s ok, I’ll stay with you for the rest of the trip. I like your company.”
By noon, we came to Miltun, where Destra’s tree was.
Miltun and Destra’s tree are located here.
We used the magical wagon at Destra’s tree to get to Destra’s castle that was desolate.
Encountered a monstrosity at the library that tended to the place.
Monstrosity at Ilestra’s library.
It offered to remove Ilestra’s painful memories, but Ilestra decided to allow time to heal her heart.
Put Destra to bed. Saw flower servants.
Fey flower servants that served Destra.
After a few hours, Destra woke up, but we discovered that she did not know who we were at all.
It seemed that she had lost her memories, possibly due to the trauma of getting possessed by the Master. Vivi told her of her brother Gringal’s passing.
Vivi asked if Destra could use her power to reunite Destra’s mother Blue with her body, and Destra said she would speak to the librarian on bringing Blue back. Vivi wanted Gringal’s children to be welcome to the castle, which Destra seemed to agree with.
Stayed at the castle for the night.
“I am not concerned about being remembered. Only that she is safe and someone is here with her.”
Said farewell to Destra and Ilestra and headed back to town.
Vivi said he would try to keep an eye out for Gringal’s children, but we did not encounter them. It seems like Vivi truly had greatness thrust upon him during this journey.
Spent the night peacefully.
Made it back to town by nighttime. As I headed into Port Mirandia, I held on to the hope that the Master was finally gone for good. It was a bittersweet victory, tinged with Gringal’s sacrifice of his life, Ilestra’s struggle with her fears and Destra’s trauma resulting in her memory loss, but it was a victory nonetheless. I hope the others feel the same way.