Waterday, Coldeven 19, 553 CY (51 AN)
Making their way to one of the abandoned buildings, Bosabrieln, Peren, and Torinn begin arranging Bezaldooz’s things for resurrection. However, Bosabrieln quickly realizes that he has neither the components nor the knowledge necessary to revive Bezaldooz from ashes, although Valna likely would. However, before he has a chance to react to this revelation, the three surviving Shields of the Sorrowfell hear the tromp of boots. Before long, Torugar enters the room, giving greeting. Realizing that Bezaldooz has fallen, he sardonically notes that deicide is frowned upon, and as punishment, the gods have seen fit to divorce the Shields from the release of death. (When Peren is concerned he’s being serious, he reveals that he’s not — as much as free agents capable of deicide worries the gods, Kiaransalee broke the rules by attempting to fully incarnate on the Material Plane. Torugar understands that not even Lolth much cares for Kiaransalee, so it is unlikely anyone will miss her.)
Torugar instructs Bosabrieln to lay out Bezaldooz’s clothes, and then quickly invokes a prayer to Moradin. Bezaldooz swiftly reforms in his clothes, with very little memory of what transpired. (He has a vague feeling of unpleasantness, but Kiaransalee was not alive long enough after his own death to trap him for terribly long.) After the group discusses what has transpired, Torugar indicates that he’s going to mingle with the other dwarves. He’ll let the Shields know before he leaves Guldor. Before he leaves this building, Torguar gives Bosabrieln a pouch of diamonds, telling him he’ll know what to do with them.
Since Bezaldooz needs to sleep before he can transport them again, the Shields take the opportunity to revel with the dwarves. (Bosabrieln also sends a sending to Valna, asking for her services to perform true resurrection on Vianibrar. He has the necessary diamonds.) Torugar eventually takes his leave, while the Shields continue to speak with the dwarves and trade stories. That night, they sleep among the dwarf legions at Maldev.
The next morning, the Shields say their farewells to the dwarves. They then gather Aratha, Galothel, and Moridal Delhig, and Bezaldooz casts teleport to return them to Argent on Khaldun. Since Bosabrieln is going to speak to Valna about invoking true resurrection to restore Vianibrar, Peren and Torinn decide to hit the tavern. They catch up with Eddie, Hurm, Mike, Obash, and the other orogs.
While Peren and Torinn drink at the tavern, Bezaldooz uses two more teleport spells to sojourn to Scandshar and buy a diamond and large stone urn for use with the clone spell. He places this vat in his apartment in Argent, and amputates his pinkie finger for use in the spell, presuming that he can ask Valna to heal it later.
Aratha, Bosabrieln, Galothel, and Moridal travel to the Guardian’s Tower to greet Valna. She is prepared, so they travel to the Temple of the Dawn so that she might enact the rite. (At Bosabrieln’s request, Aratha and Galothel stay outside. Moridal insists on being present when Vianibrar returns.)
Valna lays out Vianibrar’s clothes and the pile of diamonds, and spends an hour chanting and sprinkling holy water over the facsimile of the body At the end of this time, the diamonds dissolve, and the clothes are rapidly filled out with a humanoid form — Vianibrar. Bosabrieln embraces him, and after his initial confusion subsides, he asks how long he was dead, what progress has been made on the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks situation, and whether they found his secret library. They then return to the tavern to catch up with the others.
When they arrive, a frustrated Torinn excuses himself to go fishing. (When Vianibrar asks, Bosabrieln explains that Torinn didn’t agree with the decision to invade Kiaransalee’s domain to ultimately save one person.) Over drinks, they others inform Vianibrar of current affairs. Later that afternoon, Bezaldooz gets Valna to regenerate his finger.
The Shields and their allies ultimately spend a couple of days in Argent. They decide to return to Duchy Jepson, and after that, it seems as if they will penetrate the Chasm of the Cogitovore to finally put an end to the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks.
Aratha, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Galothel, Moridal, Peren, and Torinn return to Duchy Jepson by teleportation circle on Moonday, Coldeven 24. Making their way to the Wizard’s Tower, they gain audience with Headmaster Ebenezer. He is surprised to see them returned so quickly, and especially to see Vianibrar returned to life. (When he asks if anyone else was saved, Torinn bitterly remarks that they were not.) After introductions are made, they discuss current affairs, noting their probable desire to soon enter the Chasm of the Cogitovore. They ask if the school knows anything about the Far Realm or beholder hive mothers, and he tells them he will speak to the others and compile whatever they know. (Vianibrar can also probably help.) He requests that they meet him on the morrow. Since the Wizard’s Tower is current curating Vianibrar’s library, he and Moridal head downstairs to investigate it. The Headmaster also says he can probably return Aratha to Sigil, if she is willing to follow him. She gives the Shields her farewells before the group leaves the Headmaster’s office. Once it is just the Shields and Galothel, she likewise takes her leave.
With that, the Shields decide to investigate their houses, which have been built in some of the fields outside Duchy Jepson. They encounter Ekaterina inside, who informs them of her progress in attempting to acquire furniture and other such sundries. (Not that she has had much time yet.)
That evening, as the Shields are drinking in the Addled Alchemist, Torugar appears again. He notes that the gods wanted to reward them for their troubles — and allow them to resupply before they take the fight to the Far Realm — and so presents them with a bag of holding filled with platinum coins. (It ultimately comes to 35,000pp, or 8,750pp each.) He notes he might see them one more time before they disembark, and further notes that if any of them seek audience with the gods or wish to participate in the Olympics or any such activities, they can likely do so. With that, he takes his leave.
The next day, the Shields meet with Gloomblight, the Headmaster, Krizaut, and Vianibrar to discuss what they know of the threat they seek to face. It is unfortunately not much: the Far Realm comprises that which is outside the known multiverse, a place of madness and strange geometries. It is not a place that is mapped — if it even can be mapped — and those who enter rarely return, or if they do, they may return altered or in a vastly different time and place. As for hive mothers, also known as ultimate tyrants, they are beholders of nearly godlike power. They have many of the same characteristics as standard beholders, including an antimagic field projected from a central eye, and various lesser eyes that shoot dangerous rays in imitation of spellcraft, although their abilities are much more potent than standard beholders. They are also known to organize “lesser” beholders under their command. Some especially powerful specimens of beholderkind — and it is probable that the Esteemed and Omniscient Peacock Lord is one such creature — have been shown to narrow their central eye’s antimagic field to a narrow beam that negates magic, draining both permanent enchantments and magic items on contact. While this entity is not likely to display the same raw level of power that Kiaransalee showed, it will still be a very dangerous opponent in an alien environment that constantly shifts.
They are best advised to be ready.
That evening, Bosabrieln is playing at the Addled Alchemist and the rest of the Shields are enjoying drinks. As the night wears on, Bosabrieln is approached from someone in the crowd. She appears as a blonde-haired elven woman, albeit with golden-red feathered wings emerging from her shoulders and the legs of a golden-red bird. She carries a lyre, and introduces herself as Melody, indicating that she heard Bosabrieln is “a god of music.” She explains her current dilemma: she and her father Varian were traveling in the mountains when they were ambushed by monsters. Most were slain, but she was captured and used as a lure for her beautiful singing voice. (Strangely, she notes that she knows Gerald; he and his friends were the ones who rescued her. Bosabrieln is surprised to learn that Gerald is from the Sorrowfell Plains.) Since that time, she has found that her voice ensorcells those who hear it; she suspects this is some manner of curse for the part she played in the monsters’ schemes. Would Bosabrieln be able to assist in this situation?
Bosabrieln, for his part, knew Varian — another half-elf bard, and a friend of Vianibrar, Bosie met Varian once when he was very young. As for Bezaldooz, Bezaldooz recognizes her race, as she is one of the eoshee, faerie nightingales who sometimes travel to the world and are known to be good luck despite their sometimes fearsome appearance. (They are primarily carnivorous, which can sometimes be disconcerting for those who aren’t expecting it.) However, Bezaldooz also recalls that he never heard of the eoshee before four or five years ago, and he thinks he only heard of them in connection with Varian and Melody. When he mentions this to Peren, Peren notes that her general appearance and enchanting song is reminiscent of that of harpies.
Perhaps she is a polymorphed harpy?
After giving her an opportunity to play her lyre with Bosabrieln, the Shields take her upstairs and Bosabrieln conjures Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion so they can examine her in private. Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln ask her to sing, and when she does, all four of the Shields note that her voice is among the most beautiful they have heard, and they do indeed briefly feel an urge to move closer to her that they easily resist. She appears to have no other active magic when examined with detect magic. The Shields explain that whatever experience she had in the mountains possibly turned her into a harpy, or otherwise altered her in some way? As Melody becomes increasingly alarmed and confused by this news, Bosabrieln sends a sending to Vianibrar, telling him, “At the Addled Alchemist with Varian’s daughter Melody. Quite the conundrum. Do you mind popping over for a bit?” He responds, “I haven’t seen Varian in some time. Sure, I’ll be right over.”
When Vianibrar arrives, Bosabrieln lays out their theory as to what happened to Melody, while Vianibrar looks increasingly agitated. As the Shields become more suspicious of his motives, since he clearly knows something, they begin questioning him, to his continued annoyance. He finally excuses himself to do more research on the subject, and Bezaldooz says he’ll accompany. Vianibrar says that would be a good idea.
Outside, Vianibrar angrily turns to Bezaldooz and asks what he’s doing. He explains that she is a harpy that Varian adopted, and then performed some manner of subtle polymorph procedure upon her to make her less harpy-like. But she doesn’t know she is a harpy; she thinks she is an eoshee. And all this talk of harpies is likely confusing and frightening her. He instructs Bezaldooz to tell Bosabrieln to speak with him later, and then he takes his leave.
Bezaldooz returns to the magnificent mansion, taking Bosie aside to explain what Vianibrar told him. Bosabrieln, suspecting that this can be fixed with a true polymorph spell, tells Melody that he thinks he has found a solution. Invoking a song of true polymorph to turn Melody into whatever she is supposed to be — Bosabrieln is only working from a description of an eoshee, but he thinks he knows all the salient features — a subtle energy washes over her, although she appears the same as before. Nevertheless, she thanks the Shields before leaving, still confused. However, she returns to the Addled Alchemist later than night, finding and embracing Bosabrieln and telling him the spell worked: her singing appears to not affect those who hear it as before. She says she’ll tell everyone about him.
Later that evening, Bosabrieln finds Vianibrar, who explains that Varian’s ship was attacked by harpies on a sea voyage. After slaying the harpies, he and the crew investigated the nest, finding a lone egg. He felt badly about destroying it or orphaning it, so he kept it and raised the harpy as his own daughter. Over time, he developed a spell regimen to alter her so that she would not look like a standard, monstrous harpy. For whatever reason, he kept this secret from her, although Vianibrar and he discussed it in some of their exchanges.
With the excitement done, the Shields retire to sleep for the night, ready to make some preparations for their upcoming sojourn to Scandshar.