The Boundary Lands

Chapter 2 - Ramshead (s. 5)

2.2 Mmmm... Brains...

The party heads back to the inn where they can hear the villagers have regrouped. They burst inside to find Igris dead. Raver stands over her body with a bloody knife in hand, shouting about how “this was necessary”. The party decides they have their own “necessary” murder to undertake now and immediately moves to chop Raver into numerous small bits, led by an exceptionally angry Fargrim. Unfortunately, the villagers aren’t eager for more bloodshed and a mob intervenes between the party and Raver. Rather than chop down innocent villagers to get to Raver, the party puts off their vengeance for now. An older man gets onto a table and commands silence. The villagers seem to defer to him and the party hears a few cries of “let the Elder speak!”. The Elder calls for order and insists that the village cannot lose its sanity in such trying times. He claims he will stand in as the voice of the town while Mayor York is away.

The Elder gives the floor to the party for them to present themselves as representatives of the Emperor. The party confirms that they were indeed sent by the Emperor, and that they are there to help the village. They also insist that Raver has just committed murder and should be punished accordingly. Raver speaks up to defend his actions, again claiming that everyone in the village knows the woman, Igris, was of ‘loose morals’ and it is her actions that have brought this terror upon the village. Through a combination of diplomacy and a little intimidation, the party cows the villagers into accepting their authority to some degree. The Elder will not allow further bloodshed, but he agrees to hold Raver in prison until the Mayor returns to decide what to do with him. The party grudgingly accepts the Elder’s decision, and some burly young villagers escort Raver out of the inn.

The party seeks out the Elder to speak with him about the attacks on the village. His story is very similar to Igris’s, and he is equally clueless as to what is behind the attacks. He surprisingly confirms that the woman Igris was known in the village for offering certain discrete services of… questionable morality. Of course, he doesn’t believe she should have died for her actions, and he assures the party Raver will face justice once the Mayor returns. Apparently, Mayor York left a couple days ago to personally seek out help from Verind’s Edge since no help had yet arrived.

Late Night Surprise

With no real leads to pursue, the party decides to get some rest for the night in the inn. They are awakened in the middle of the night from screams below, though. They rush downstairs to the first floor. A woman comes running out of a store room that has been converted into a bedroom to accomodate all of the villagers staying in the inn. She is initially somewhat incoherent, screaming in terror, but the party eventually gets out of her that some kind of worm was attacking her husband in the store room. The party enters and finds the woman’s husband in a groggy, dazed state of mind, but no creatures seem to be threatening him. They calm the woman down further and ask her to tell them what happened.

“I woke up and saw some kind of worm crawling into my husband’s ear. He looked awake, but he was totally unaware of what was going on. I managed to knock the worm off of his head onto the table next to him, where I put a mason jar over it.”

As Erik’s curiosity is peaked at the chance to inspect this strange worm creature, Fargrim promptly turns around and smashes the mason jar on the table in the store room. He then kindly offers the squished, flattened worm goo on the end of his warhammer for Erik and the party to inspect.

Surprisingly, the rest of the party doesn’t make much of it, but Fargrim himself actually recognizes the creature from its mutilated remnants. The creature looks like a small worm, but with a massive flayer of numerous tiny, thin tentacles protruding from its mouth. Fargrim’s dwarven heritage brought him into contact with many creatures of the Underdark that dwell in the caves beneath the world. Drawing on his knowledge of Dungeoneering, Fargrim actually recognizes the worm as the brood of a Tentacle Flayer. A distant cousin of a Mind Flayer, Tentacle Flayers are somewhat intelligent worms that have mind-controlling powers. A Tentacle Flayer can birth numerous small Brain Worms to spread out and look for subjects to dominate in the area. Tentacle Flayers are more animalistic than Mind Flayers, having no grand ambitions for power, and not forming societies. The worms dominate innocent subjects to simply put them to work scrounging up food for their masters. Fargrim recalls that the Tentacle Flayer’s food of choice… is brains.

Brain Bait

The rash of beheadings suddenly makes sense to the party and they are pleased to at least know what they are dealing with. Unfortunately, they are not sure how to track down the Tentacle Flayer responsible for the attacks. They debate some ideas and settle on creating a “brain bait” trap. They requisition some hunters from the village and in the early morning hours head out to hunt down a wild animal to use. The hunters take down a boar and the party removes the animal’s head.

They trek a few hours south of the village and place the head in an open field, with the neck side up so the brainy scents can waft up into the air. The party hides in a nearby treeline and waits. Unfortunately, a full day passes without event and by the next morning the head is starting to turn a little gamy. The party doesn’t give up on their plan yet, and thankfully around mid-afternoon a lone wolf approaches the head, gives it a sniff, and picks it up in its jaws. The wolf lopes away to the south, and the party quickly follows. They debate their concerns that this wolf is not under the control of a Brain Worm, and may just be a hungry wolf. Nonetheless, they stick to the plan, and as the wolf continues to travel for several hours without taking a bite out of the head, they are confident that the wolf is headed to the lair of the Tentacle Flayer.

The wolf eventually leaves the forested area around Ramshead and begins to enter the rocky plains that comprise the Dwarven Ruins south of the Boundary Lands. The party spies a large pile of severed heads. The wolf drops the boar’s head onto the pile, then turns to head back to the north. The party moves to the side and hides amongst some rocks as the wolf passes. They peak out at the pile of heads again, waiting for movement. After some time, they see a Tentacle Flayer burrow up out of the rock itself by the pile of severed heads. Its long tentacles reach out and pick up one of the heads from the pile, bringing it to its mouth. It slurps out the brains, tosses the head aside, and picks up another severed head with its tentacles.

Tentacles of Despair – Reach Out and Touch Someone

The party has seen enough, and they move to engage the beast. It turns at their approach and quickly meets them in battle. As the party begins to move into position to attack the Tentacle Flayer, they realize the creature is not alone. Another Tentacle Flayer burrows out of the ground, along with several large Brain Worms which begin dazing the party with psychic blasts of mental energy. Last, but certainly not least, the party discovers that the two Tentacle Flayers they are facing are actually younger broodlings. The clear mother of the brood burrows out of the ground, dwarfing the other Tentacle Flayers at twice their size.

The party discovers the fully grown, adult Tentacle Flayer does not need a Brain Worm burrowed into someone’s head to control them, as it simply reaches out with its Tentacles of Despair and delivers a psychic attack to The Zaza, dominating her and commanding her to turn and strike Invicto. Fortunately, The Zaza quickly shakes off the dominating effect and begins hacking away at the adult Tentacle Flayer. Erik begins clearing out the small Brain Worms by rolling his Flaming Sphere around the battle field. Despite being caught by surprise at the number of combatants, fate seems to be on the party’s side and they make short work of the Tentacle Flayers and Brain Worms.

The party returns to the village of Ramshead triumphant, assuring the villagers that their problems have been taken care of. Unfortunately, the party learns that while they were hunting down the Tentacle Flayers, Raver escaped from prison and fled the village. Nonetheless, the party tries not to let the news dampen their spirits, as Ramshead has been freed from the terrible threat of the Tentacle Flayers. The village plans a grand celebration, and the party stays the night to partake in drink and revelry with the villagers. Invicto finds a buxom young farm girl who is able to see past his Gnomish features to the true adventuring hero within (thanks to numerous cups of mead, of course).

A Look Into the Future

The next day the party leaves the village of Ramshead to return to Verind’s Edge. Expecting an uneventful journey, they are surprised to spy massive discharges of arcane energy in the distance. They proceed to investigate, though it takes them a couple of hours to reach the source of the displays of magical power.

They find the remnants of a strange, gruesome battle scene. A massive armored carriage is tipped over and ripped open. The carcasses of many small imps and devils lay splayed about the field, winged beasts with foot-long, narrow claws protruding from the ends of their scaly fingers. Most notably, a giant winged devil lies slain in the middle of the battlefield, its face contorted in a scream that displays massive black fangs. Invicto promptly climbs atop the beast and pries out its two long canine teeth, believing them to be a valuable find. The party also finds the bodies of what appear to be three angelic-like creatures surrounding the carriage, regal winged humanoids with glassy eyes and silvery skin. Amidst the carnage are also the bodies of several armored eladrin, most of which appear to have been literally ripped to pieces by the devils. The eladrin appear to have been armed, though some of their weapons and armor have been removed.

The party hears screams from some distance away and decides there may still be survivors from the battle. They head in the direction of the screams and find that someone else has apparently beat them to the remnants of the battle. A band of orcs has collected some loot from the battlefield and is now tormenting what appears to be the sole survivor, a defenseless humanoid woman. The orcs have brought her to a nearby river to “clean her up” and are toying with her and abusing her. The party quickly moves to give the creatures someone their own size to pick on. An Orc Witch Doctor utters a curse upon Erik and Invicto to strike them blind, though they are eventually able to shake off the effects. Meanwhile, The Zaza and Fargrim engage two Orc Berserkers while two Orc Crescent Hurlers use their chained axes to strike the warriors from afar. The Hurlers use their weapons to pull The Zaza and Fargrim into the river, sweeping their feet out from under them. An annoying tactic, but one The Zaza and Fargrim are eventually able to overcome by pounding their foes into obilivion.

After the battle, the party recovers the loot the orcs had plucked from the battlefield, including several magical items, and tends to the humanoid woman. They now notice that the woman appears similar to the angelic creatures the party saw on the battlefield, with silvery skin and elongated features. They do not see her eyes, however, as she keeps them closed. In fact, she asks the party to retrieve an embroidered cloth for her to wrap around her eyes, to be sure they remain closed. She thanks the party for saving her life and introduces herself as Missyus. She explains that she is an avatar of the god Ioun, god of knowledge, skill, and prophecy. Erik pieces together that, as an avatar of Ioun, she is likely a seer of some sort. She admits that she is a ‘True Seer’, blessed with the power of foresight. In return for saving her life, she offers to provide each party member with a vision of their future.

Missyus explains that anything she lays eyes on provides her with a vision of the future. In broad daylight, she sees so much that she is simply bombarded with visions and her senses are overloaded, thus she must travel with the blindfold. Once the party makes camp at night, she sets up a single candle inside a tent so that she can be wrapped in relative darkness. She asks each party member to enter the tent, one at a time, so that she can open her eyes for a brief moment and gaze upon them to capture a vision of their future. Missyus’s visions are often cryptic, and she does not always understand the context of what she sees as she puts it into words. Nonetheless, she assures the party that her visions will be important to their future, and may even save their lives. She also insists that the visions cannot be shared with others until they come to pass. Revealing the information to others may taint the future and make the vision meaningless.

Each party member enters the tent alone and receives a prophecy of their future…

  • Invicto Fizzleflame - The better passphrase is “Caratus hinex”
  • Erik - If you pay the Queen’s price, she will tell you of your true parents
  • The Zaza - Drink from the mouth of the Silver Dragon and you will learn of your brother’s fate
  • Charm - The key to your prison will be in the lock
  • Fargrim - 371-529-144

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