Jhuni Blackfire (she/her) (Absent) - our slightly pyromaniacal Sorcerer/Wizard
Thelmor Irdro (he/him) - Blood Hunter of the Lycan persuasion, as we discover this session
Nil (they/them) - badass Cleric
Snow (she/her) - Swashbuckler and Gloomstalker Ranger
Sunrise (she/her) - Lore Bard - and Honey (she/her) her homunculus familiar
Perfect (he/him) - Battlemaster fighter
Grey (he/him) - Assassin/Illusionist
Swirls of necromantic magic flow out from Thaddeus as he screams, forming four spectre-like creatures around him. It's obvious this is a challenge, and he isn't asking if we're interested. The battle begins! (It's worth noting that this room is actually lit by torches, so we aren't fighting in the dark the way we have been.)
Thelmor shifts from his elven self to a sort hybrid werewolf form and moves in on Thaddeus the Undead Lord, attacking twice. One misses; the other is a critical.
Snow casts Hunter's Mark and steps in, using her combination of Ranger and Swashbuckler to attack rather effectively.
Grey identifies the four wraithy undead as sword wraith commanders, a rather nasty sort of undead. He drops a Phantasmal Force on Thaddeus, convincing him that he's trapped in a spiky cage that is stabbing him. Thaddeus tries to attack his cage, swinging wildly, to no good effect; then he tries to attack Thelmor, who in his current form is resistant to slashing, bludgeoning, and piercing damage. Attacking the cage does nothing, but he crits against Thelmor and does some real damage (though not as much as he could have). Sunrise looks at Snow and inspires her, and then begins a jaunty tune and throws Hideous Laughter on Thaddeus by way of a ridiculously ribald tune. He falls to the floor, helpless with laughter.
Nil invokes Spirit Guardians, filling the immediate area with angelic spiritual figures that attack our enemies and damage all but one of them. The sword wraiths finally move, and as we turn our attention to them we realize they're the ghosts of Tieflings. The first one attacks Nil, slashing her up quite a bit. The next two attack Perfect and does some damage; the last one attacks Thelmor, hitting him for some damage as well.
Thelmor's claws catch fire, and then the flames spiral up to the blade of his axe. He slams it down on Thaddeus twice, hitting both times. Thelmor then drops a Brand of Castigation on his helmet; if attacking him makes us take damage from his armor, then attacking us should hurt him as well.
Snow moves up and tags Thaddeus again, stabbing him with her magical rapier and taking a bit of piercing damage herself. Grey is using the phantasmal force to do psychic damage (it's not much, but it's not nothing) and then makes a minor illusion of himself standing on the far side of the room beside one of the wraiths; there are now two of him in the room.
Thaddeus finally figures out that the cage wasn't real, and attacks Thelmor in a rage. Which, of course, causes him to suffer three points of psychic damage from the brand.
Perfect attacks with his greatsword, and smacks Thaddeus fairly hard.
Sunrise tries Hideous Laughter again, with a limerick, and he falls down laughing over the wizard's wand limerick. She also drops an inspiration on Thelmor. Nil still has their angels around, and they do more damage to the sword wraith commanders; Nil then confuses Thaddeus and one of the wraiths. Finally, they step over Thaddeus and position themselves beside Thelmor.
A wraith attacks Perfect and hits him; the second wraith shakes off the confusion momentarily and attacks the illusion of Grey -- which doesn't touch it, of course. A wraith attacks Thelmor, who's now in serious danger of going into a mindless rage, and Thelmor attacks Wraith 4, damaging it a lot; Snow moves in and follows up with an attack on the same wraith, doing a perfectly ridiculous amount of damage and destroying it. Grey slides up and pours a potion down Thelmor's throat, healing him for seven damage.
Thaddeus, still confused, stands up and promptly attacks one of his own sword wraith commanders, first with his sword and then with a backhand from his spiked gauntlet.
Perfect attacks another commander using a sort of cleave maneuver, striking wraith number 1 and connecting with number 3 as well. Nil puts her hands on Thelmor and restores a big chunk of his health. Sunrise tags Thaddeus with Hideous Laughter again, sending and he goes down; and then the wraiths attack again.
Wraith 2 was still confused and basically just stood there until it shook off the confusion; wraith 1 missed. Wraith 3 did some damage to Perfect, but not enough to really endanger him.
Thelmor moves over to attack Wraith 2, doing some damage to it. Snow drops the Hunter's Mark from Thaddeus and recasts it against Wraith 2, then moves up and attacks, damaging the sword wraith commander before fading back out. Grey moves up and attempts to throw a Green Flame Blade, but misses.
Thaddeus finally shakes off the Hideous Laughter on his turn, and is still prone. Perfect passes his turn to Grey, who attacks again with Green Flame Blade, damaging Wraith 3 and finishing off Wraith 1. Perfect then uses his second attack, doing some damage. Sunrise throws another Hideous Laughter, and drops him again.
Nil decides to try to turn the remaining wraiths, and drives them away completely. Perfect manages to tag Wraith 3 as it flees. Thelmor attacks Thaddeus. Snow recasts Hunter's Mark on Thaddeus, and darts in to attack Thaddeus... who is still helpless with laughter. Grey tries to stab him but misses; but Thaddeus once again fails to snap out of the Hideous Laughter. Perfect attacks with his greatsword, doing some damage but still not snapping Thaddeus out of the laughter.
Sunrise draws a rapier and moves in, then attacks. She hits, and takes damage from armor, and responds with hellish rebuke. Nil decides this is the moment to cast Beacon of Hope, which gives us some saving throw advantages and maximizes any healing effects.
Thelmor strikes with the axe, once and again, and the first blow severs his head; the second blow severs his arm from the blade. The room seems to tremble as the undead spirit howl-scream-roars as it dissolves away, leaving behind the mismatched bones of an incomplete skeleton. The armor dulls and warps, becoming useless. The sword, however, seems to glow as it lays cleanly on the floor. A sense of finality covers the room; there's nothing left of our enemies here.
Nil starts healing people. "Perfect, I know you want to grab the sword, but can you hold off while we make some checks?"
Perfect: "Of course, if it will make you feel better. Perfectly happy to oblige."
Nil tries detecting traps, and finds nothing. She then detects magic, and the sword is wildly magical; there are also some magical items towards the back of the room. We've got the sword back, but we're still missing the war hammer and the trident.
Sunrise tries Locate Object, seeking for the closest trident and the closest warhammer, while the rest of us settle in to search the room. Thelmor shrinks back to his elven self.
Sunrise: "Does that happen often?"
Thelmor: "It's in my control."
Nil: "So how long have you known you were a werewolf?"
Thelmor: "I'm not, exactly. Not entirely. It's something we do in my particular order of blood hunters."
The warhammer is due east; the trident is northeast.
There is a footlocker towards the back of the room; inside is jewelry, some platinum and GP, a potion, a scroll, and a piece of armor and two rings. The two rings are magical, the scroll is magical, and the armor is magical.
Nil: "I have Identify, and several of these objects are magic. If we rest here, I can determine what they do and that the sword is what we believe it is."
The sword is Blackrazor, and Nil says she can see why it was so important to Perfect, but declines to discuss it now. Snow, investigating the room, finds a lot of history and some antiquities that would probably be worth a decent amount to the right buyer. There's a big chunk about Perfect's ancestor, Giant-Slayer, who raged across the battlefield and made it safe to found the city. Sunrise reads through some of this and passes it along to Perfect.
Nil sets the armor aside with a muttered, "Nobody touch that," and starts in on the rings. Grey checks the potion, which is labeled Greater Healing; and a scroll of Protection from Fiends, and 500 GP, 200 PP, and four pieces of jewelry worth 11,000 GP. Perfect looks over the jewelry, and says: "Thaddeus Giant-Bane had four wives, so likely these belonged to them." But since none of them were really part of the bloodline, he doesn't see himself as having a claim on their jewelry.
Nil suggests that Perfect could perhaps purchase them from us, and we could divide the money among the survivors of our party (which is everybody, at least so far). The armor is plate (heavy), but it's cursed. It's resistant to slashing but vulnerable to bludgeoning and piercing. Nobody in this group could use it even if they wanted to.
The first of the rings is a ring of protection. Sunrise turns that over to Snow. The second ring is a ring of spell storing. After a bit of discussion, we turn it over to Nil to serve as a repository of extra heal spells.
As we rest, Thelmor and Perfect discuss Blackrazor, which is -- at least temporarily -- a soul-devouring sword. The sword would prefer to feed regularly, but Perfect has actually never used it in battle. Thelmor is... not really comfortable with this. Snow isn't, either. The soul appears to move on after twenty-four hours, though, so we settle on a sort of "best used sparingly, and only on the worst of the worst" assessment, which Perfect appears to share.
We take another long rest, then head back up through the ziggurat and up to the room with the kayaks and the floating river. Sunrise, trepidatious, sends her familiar into the tunnel to scout; honey is a very good girl who can see in the dark.
Honey attempts to stay out of sight as she follows the river. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and she stops near the edge of it. There are nine humanoids in various sorts of armor in the room beyond; one of them even has a large net and is poised to catch anything that comes through the hole. They do not see honey. They look to be living creatures, humanoid, in another room where the water passes through the same way it does here. One of them is obviously the leader, and there are no obvious exits from the room. There are four on either side of the river, with the leader standing off to one side; the leader's armor has a sort of faded gold polish to it.
Sunrise asks Perfect if any of the people they sent down here match this description; Perfect says no. The guy in armor is distinctive; he was a knight of the realm somewhere... Nil knows exactly who he is. His name is Sir Bluto Sans Pite, and he was a respected knight of the realm until his indictment in the river of blood mass-murder case; there's a reward of 10,000 GP for his capture. His prison escape baffled the local detective-mages. (Apparently Nil reads a lot of True Crime scrolls.) The moment she says this, Sunrise remembers the case. It was horrifying, grisly and dark. It was a murder and sacrifice of children of wealthy Greyhawk families. When the ritual was performed, a cavern beneath his home caused a stream to run red with the victims' blood. The evidence against him is largely that the ritual was performed beneath his home. The two of them spend some time geeking out over finding him here.(!)
Sunrise calls Honey back and sends her around the other way to confirm that the river is a loop; it is. Deep discussion ensues. The group in the other room is obviously poised for an ambush. And they probably aren't innocent of the original murder. So after a bit we have a sort of plan: Snow, who can climb, will pound in an anchor and tie off a rope; we'll line up a row of boats that are tied off with the rope; Grey will drop an illusion in the lead boat, and the rest of us will load up in the boats behind it. Then we cut loose the lead boat, and after a moment Snow cuts loose the last boat, and we hopefully turn their ambush on them.
Sunrise also has the Message spell, so we could conceivably communicate with them first. That probably wouldn't spoil the first part of the plan.
We end there, approximately 1/3 of the way through the adventure. I have to admit, I'm really enjoying this -- not just for the chance to play Grey again (he was originally conceived as an AD&D character, back when Assassin and Illusionist were their own classes) but also simply because this is one of those Make You Think About What You're Doing sorts of adventures, and this is a great group for that sort of problem-solving.