Lost Souls

Sphagnalis

The party helps a new friend, and fall prey to a new enemy...

Sunday, 12th of Nerth, Year 3033

Reaching the fork in the road again, the party sets out on the “true” path, seeing the black storm clouds looming directly ahead. Alistair guesses that they will be in the worst of the storm within the hour. Kvothe, still in the form of a direwolf, smells the familiar stench of the creatures that ambushed them just moments ago, which causes the rest of the party to be extra cautious.

Korag-Gora confides to Alonwyn that he has seen the light of her goddess, Arctura, and would like to honor her as well. Alonwyn, surprised by this but pleased, gives him her blessing and says that he must begin to walk in the light if he wishes to receive the blessing of Arctura herself.

As the rain picks up, their surroundings change from pure bog to a more forested and solid terrain with less standing water. They begin to hear the familiar growls and hisses of the swamp creatures, and guess that they have been following the party for a time, just out of sight. Magnus decides to climb a nearby tree to get a better vantage point and hide from any would-be attackers.

Kvothe slinks into the woods, using his keen wolf ears to hear the location of the creatures. He comes upon a clearing to find a small, man-like thing being harassed by the horrid little gremlins. The strange being appears to be humanoid, about the size of a halfling, but with yellowish-green skin and a lush, green beard like the leaves of a fern or tree, wearing crudely-fashioned garb of leather and woven plant material. Atop its head sits a flat “cap” of lush moss and grasses, as well as many toadstools and fungi. It holds a lumber axe, swinging it wildly in defense at its attackers, and appears to have been chopping lumber, as the clearing is full of tree stumps and felled trees.

Kvothe howls a howl which shakes the forest, even through the thunderstorm, and the sudden sound scares the creatures away, as well as the short, mossy man, who disappears into the ground with a cry, leaving only his mossy, mushroomy cap above the ground to blend in.

Hearing the howl, the rest of the group run to where Kvothe is, who transforms back into his native form. Kvothe explains that he just discovered a strange new creature who was being assailed by the bog gremlins as well, as he points to the cluster of moss and fungi in front of him. The rest of the party has a hard time believing him, but Kvothe pours water onto the creature’s head, causing it to spring out of the ground with a surprised yelp.

The creature begins speaking in a guttural language, and Korag-Gora is surprised to realize it is speaking “giant”, his people’s tongue. The group is very confused how such a small creature is related to giants, but the creature explains he is of troll-kin, though distantly related. He says his name is Sphagnalis, and his kind is known as moss lurkers, for they can hide and blend into any mossy or grassy terrain with their mossy caps. He explains that the creatures attacking him are called miremals, and that he hates them with a burning passion, for they constantly torment him, and, worst of all, make travelers confuse him with one of their kind.

Sphagnalis gets an idea, and asks if the party would be able to help him get rid of the pack of miremals once and for all. The party asks if he could show them to the river, and he offers to take them there, as he lives there, and even let them take his boat if they would be willing to help him kill off the miremal menace. They agree, after some debate.

The moss lurker explains that the miremals can survive almost any injury by turning into water and regenerating, but can be killed if they are smashed so badly that they don’t have time to transform. He lays out his plan, saying that he has spent many years rolling a huge boulder up a large hill (citing his giant strength as how he can do this), but says that he needs someone even stronger to dislodge it from the side of the hill and over a cliff quickly enough to hit the miremals. He also needs someone to act as bait to lure them into the exact position to be crushed. Alonwyn and Korag-Gora are put on boulder duty while Lilith and Magnus act as bait, and Kvothe and Alistair agree to be ready as damage control should something go wrong.

Lilith disguises herself as a female halfling, posing as Magnus’s wife, and they wander back into the woods to try to draw the miremals after them, looking as vulnerable as they can. As they walk, they invent a scenario of visiting Lilith’s fake grandmother, bickering about getting lost…

Magnus: Why does your grandmother live in this swamp?

Lilith: She doesn’t! You know nothing about my family!

Magnus: You said we were going to visit your grandmother, and we ended up here.

Lilith: Well, maybe if you would have asked for directions!

Just as their bickering reaches a climax, the miremals spring from their watery hiding places, tearing after the “couple” on all fours. Lilith and Magnus run as fast as they can back to the trap zone, but Magnus trips over a tree root, slowing them down slightly. They notice the miremals have turned back into water, their watery forms splashing like shark fins through the shallow swamp after them.

Soon, those waiting on the hill see the two frantically escaping the miremals, and begin to push the incredible boulder over the cliffside to the earth below. Kvothe uses a spell of guidance on Alonwyn, Korag-Gora, Sphagnalis, and Alistair, allowing them to push the massive rock more easily.

The boulder dislodges, breaking away a huge chunk of loose earth from the top of the hill in the process. The crumbling hill causes everyone to start sliding off of the hill with the boulder. Korag-Gora quickly grabs Alonwyn, who grabs onto Kvothe and Alistair, who all dangle over the edge. Sphagnalis begins tumbling, but Alistair sends a thorny whip shooting from the hillside to safely grab him.

Below, Lilith and Magnus draw the miremals near, and run at the last moment, leaving the pack of vile creatures to be smashed into oblivion by the hulking boulder. With a huge slam and a quaking tremor, the miremals are no more.

Alonwyn heals Sphagnalis, who was banged up pretty badly from his fall. As they gather together again, the storm hits in full force, no longer a mere drizzle. The torrential downpour soaks them completely, and the lightning bolts seem almost imbued with magic, as the colors and hues are unnatural, vibrant, and change randomly. Lilith recalls reading about magical storms like this in a book about the Feywild.

As the thunder shakes the swamp, Sphagnalis beckons them to follow him through the storm to his humble abode near the river.

Moonday, 13th of Nerth, Year 3033

Shortly after midnight, the party arrives, exhausted and soaked with rain and mud, at Sphagnalis’s hut, finding it very humble indeed. The hut tiny, and is built of nothing more than crudely woven-together branches, like a wicker basket, and covered with living plants and moss for additional protection from the elements. The moss lurker offers for them to stay, but it is obvious it will be quite cramped. The party accepts, too tired to sort out anywhere else to sleep, and everyone rests in a pile as the storm rages on outside the hut.

In the morning, the party awakens to find the storm passed. Sphagnalis offers them a breakfast of fungus and moss, but they stick to their rations. After “breakfast”, he leads them to the river nearby, showing them to a bridge he helps take care of. The bridge is not carved of wood, but rather fashioned from the living roots and branches of swamp trees and brambles, creating a twisted, rope-like bridge wide enough even for carts and carriages. Beneath the bridge, Sphagnalis produces his boat, which he realizes is not big enough to fit the entire party.

The group begins wondering how they can all get down the river, and begins formulating plans to build another boat or fashion some kind of raft, when Sphagnalis pulls out his lumber axe and begins hacking the sides of his bridge, tearing into the rough wood and roots holding it in place. After a few minutes, the bridge falls away into the water, floating like a strange, gnarled raft. Sphagnalis, looking very pleased with his ingenuity, but not thinking of how he will replace the bridge, offers them this bridge-boat as a solution.

The party sets off in the makeshift boat, with Korag-Gora atop Sphagnalis’s boat. The current of the river takes them at a steady speed, drifting south through the Sporest much quicker than if they were on foot. The bridge-boat, not quite designed for water, needs frequently emptied as it takes on more water that seeps through the twisted, gnarled branches and roots, but manages to stay afloat.

After some time, they notice a large weeping willow tree growing from a small island in the middle of the river, parting it down the center. From behind its curtain-like boughs, the silhouette of a beautiful, unearthly woman can be seen bathing in the river, standing as if atop the surface of the water.

Struck by some kind of charm spell and overcome with a fey lust, Magnus and Alistair dive headlong into the river straight for the mysterious, womanly figure. Korag-Gora and Kvothe, finally unable to avoid the sight of the beautiful woman, succumb to its deathly allure and also enter the river, heading towards it with fervor.

Alonwyn and Lilith attempt to stop them from swimming towards the willow tree, but the entranced men struggle away, the charm too powerful. The four begin to fight over the figure, swimming in the water, struggling with each other over who will get to approach her. Magnus finally swims under the veil of the weeping willow’s leaves, and is struck dumb by the unearthly beauty of a fey woman, naked save for a golden necklace, finding her to be the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, and he falls utterly prey to the woman’s will.

Kvothe suddenly snaps out of the creature’s charm, and is able to avoid approaching any further, but Alistair joins Magnus under the willow tree, similarly falling under its will. Korag-Gora, angered by the other men approaching the woman, flies into a rage and succumbs completely to the creature’s spell as well. Korag-Gora’s newfound holy zeal in the name of Arctura begins to burn his allies around him, unable to control the intense passion burning within him.

Lilith, resistant to the womanly creature’s spell, fires magic missiles at it, but is unable to see whether they connect through the willow’s branches. The woman draws Magnus and Kvothe near, but instead of embracing them, reveals a large, golden dagger, plunging it into their torsos with a sinister, alien gaze upon her face. Unphased by this, Kvothe and Magnus begin to fight over her love, and Magnus stabs Kvothe with his dagger, causing him to flee through the river to the nearby bank.

Alistair fires an eldritch blast at Korag-Gora, feeling the radiant energy burning his undead flesh. Korag-Gora swings his sword at Lilith, who flies above the river, knocking her out of the air and into the river. Alonwyn, struggling with her heavy armor in the rushing river, grabs onto the dangling and waving branches of the weeping willow. Lilith, now weakened by Korag-Gora’s attack, falls prey to the magical will of the womanly creature.

Kvothe, now free of the woman’s spell, realizes that the woman is not a real woman at all, but a fey creature called a lorelei, a sprite that uses its unearthly beauty and magic to bend mortals to its will. He calls out a warning to the others, but Korag-Gora, Magnus, and Lilith are still under the duress of the lorelei. Magnus and Korag-Gora notice Kvothe on the river bank, and are compelled to swim over and begin attacking him.

Alonwyn drags herself out of the water up the branches of the willow, and is able to jump from the tree to the river bank, but the lorelei emerges from the river and pierces her with its strange, golden dagger. Magnus and Korag-Gora continue battling Kvothe and Alistair, but Kvothe uses a thunder wave to blast the lorelei and her charmed servants. Alistair tries to fire a witch bolt at the lorelei, but it backfires as he is knocked around by the nearby fighting, blasting himself with the dark energy.

Alonwyn, brandishing her glaive, charges the lorelei and summons a divine smite from Arctura’s light, slashing through the fey’s flesh.

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