RECAP: BDC, 10-20-23

Keoland is a pleasant and agreeable land, but without a great deal of population. The dirt track that led away from Gradsul into the verdant hinterlands passed many fields of loose cereal gains, a few farm animals in the distance, the occasional barn or homestead emitting a curl of hearth-smoke. But people were few, and the party did not encounter anything until they’d made the turn southwest to go around the Dreadwood (rumored to harbor xenophobic elves) and cross the river into Longspear. They’d originally had planned to make for Cryllor, but those few people they’d spoken with at Grdsul assured them that there was no decent crossing there. But overall, trael was easy, and as they passed the Dreadwood, they saw a few castles in the distance – inhabited, by the looks of them through the spyglass they’d brought from the Mandible, but considering their mission they decided not to visit.

During the periodic checks they made all along the road, CAELUM pointed to the southwest, as expected. Jarlebank drew azimuths on the maps that they’d bought in Sternhave, and the nearest civilization to where the lines intersected was the remote town of Loftwick, deep in the Yeomanry, at the base of the Jotens Mountains.

They crossed into the Good Hills, and the travel got slower and more difficult. It was hardscrabble territory, with little water and less game. As they settled into their camp on the second evening in the hills, the hound emitted a low and menacing growl, it’s snout pointed out into the dark. It’s dark hair bristled at nape and base of tail.

Simon moved next to the creature. “Hound, what hast thou so vexed? What see ye in the gloom?”

“Chaos,” the hound replied. Simon looked out into the gathering dark, and then saw what it was that had set the hound off: A huge cloud, moving toward them at an unearthly speed. Having previously seen what lurks in fast-moving clouds, Simon cried an alert to the rest of the party to prepare for trouble.

The hound’s alert was well-timed, because from the cloud emerged: amorphic, malleable forms with misshapen, oozing features and thick tentacles. The could disappeared – and with it, the color that had once permeated the terrain, stony blues and dun soils, seemed to leach away. The entire area took on a greyish cast, and objects had a pale, almost insubstantial feels to them. The campfire, at which Shepherd and Sonja had warmed their hands only moments before, now gave no heat. Into this blurry, alien environment, the tentacled creatures crashed into the camp and attacked.

The hound had called it – the creatures could surely be nothing but of chaos, and the fight proceeded similarly. The hound proved himself a worth friend once again, coming to the aid of Peaches and Shepherd when one of the beasts targeted them. Jarlebank was attacked and beaten badly, but managed to escape to the far side of the camp. The beatings, however, weren’t the worst that the creatures could bring – each touch of their tentacles could paralyze and wither a limb, or drain the puissance from a magic item.

It was a desperate fight, but the party was eventually victorious, albeit with lingering damage. Jarlabank had the worst of it, with his entire left side from elbow to ankle withered by the creatures attacks, and several magic items damaged or drained. No one escaped the battle unscathed, though. It would take two days for Shepherd to gain the necessary spells to heal everyone back to travelling capabilities.

The party’s problems had only increased, however. Whatever thaumaturgy had drained the color and substance from everything in the bow wave of the chaos creatures, it had another effect: the party now found itself in a place that bore no resemblance to the fertile plains of Keoland. The place they found themselves in now was carpeted with powdery sand, ochre colored and dry as ancient parchment. In the distance, a row of spiked mountains stood, reaching high into a colorless sky absent of an cloud.

Jarlebank, still limping heavily on his damaged limbs, once again asked CAELUM to point the way. The direction was much different now – where before the piece had pointed southwest, now it point northeast. Wherever they were, they had travelled a long way borne by wings of chaos. Shepherd extracted the maps and they tried to sort out where they were: desert, mountains to the north and east, Caelum pointed north-northwest…

Black dotted line: estimated travel
Blue cone: CAELUM indication

Wherever the party was, it was very far from where they’d started. Shepherd, between healing the party’s wounds and ensuring amply food and (especially) water, essayed a divination to see if there was any town or city nearby: “What is the distance and direction to the nearest populated humanoid settlement?” he asked his gods. Jarlebank winced at the term “humanoid,” as that term had different meanings to different listeners, but held his tongue out of respect for the priest – his friend and the man who had worked tirelessly over the last day and a half to heal his infirmities (not to mention had saved his life more than once). The gods spoke to Shepherd: sixteen leagues north by northeast, 4500 feet into the air. A mountain village, of unknown provenance.

After much discussion, the party decided to move northeast, in the direction that CAELUM pointed. Jarlebank observed (somewhat wryly) that they’d tarried in the Underdark for days to do RUAT’s bidding, there was no reason to think the CAELUM was duplicitous. So rather than the town, it was to the northeast that they proceeded, over the clinging sand.

[in the interim, Shepherd re-cast his divination with one salient amendment: human settlement. The response came soon – east-northeast

They travelled for a day and a half, under tough conditions. The daytime sun, like any desert, was egregiously hot; the nighttime chill, always a surprise to those unaccustomed to desert life, was unconscionably cold. Most of the party wall ill-prepared for either, and without wood for a fire or cool water for a neckerchief, those hours were ones of suffering for most. Moving north, they were by default moving toward the mountains, and after a couple days travel, Peaches saw through the spyglass a curious sight.


A herd of them, tended by men in black burnooses and robes tied in the desert fashion. Unsure of what else to do, the party approached slowly and carefully, doing their best not to convey any aggressive attentions. After a few moments, one of the shepherds approached. He was taller than the others and, when he removed his headscarf, his angular eyes and pointed ears marked him as a genasi, elemental-touched. He addressed the party first: “You are trespassing in the land of the Qualinessi. Why have you come?”

The party explained that they’d brought here against their will, had no real idea where they were, and were simply looking for a place to stay as they traveled north. The genasi hetman’s eyes softened, and he mentioned a nearby oasis, where there was water and shelter, and perhaps even some opportunity for trade. The party followed him there gratefully. Once there, they told the hetman more of their story, albeit with some specific omissions.