Professor Aiderns, managing the affairs of Kryptgarten and its new settlers while the rest of the party are out playing politics, notices signs of fever progressing again among the population of Ex-Hillsfarans. Everyone who came over on the ship from Hillsfar, excluding the cultists of the Chaos Messiah, appear to be infected. Grinkle and those settlers scoured from the slums appear fine. Aiderns immediately asks Professor Drummons to come out to Kryptgarten and the two of them take over most of the lower level of the keep as a laboratory.
Squire Grimnir, learning of the outbreak when he returns in the evening, immediately orders the settlers to begin construction of a large Roman-style bathhouse, and has Grinkle and his cultists begin enforcing strict daily hygiene requirements on the entire population.
Grimnir, Traithe, Melastasya, and Tvoja complete their training regimes, advancing to level 2.
Melastasya, on her daily trip back to Phlan, stops by the Council Hall to read the official [[Rumors and Proclamations: Week 3 | Proclamations]] and posted want-ads in search of work. She becomes greatly interested in one promising “free fish for life”. While reading though, she is accosted by Councilman Porphyrys, who explains that his agents have discovered that the Lostafinga hobgoblins, the same tribe the party fought at Kryptgarten, were based in the ruins of his family’s old textile mill, and that clearing the place of the hobgoblins might be mutually beneficial to them.
As Melastasya was about to start haggling over the price, Grimnir and Tvoja spotted them and stepped in, asking the impoverished councilman for his unquestioning vote on a Bill of Attainder granting Elissa the ability to sit on the council in exchange for their help in clearing the textile mill. Porphyrys quickly agreed and offered to put the bill before the council himself.
Meanwhile, back in Kryptgarten, Aidern and Drummons observed new swelling in the lymph nodes of their patience, and a disturbing smell of…pine. Melastasya suggested that they should just scalp and boil a hobgoblin to cure the people, but no one listened.
Suspecting that this new disease was somehow the result of angering the fey by lumbering the Quivering Forest for building materials, Grimnir wrote to the temple of Gond in Phlan, ordering large, black, cold-iron church bells to drive off the fey influence. Tvoja set their peasants to work constructing a large church to their Triad (Mask-Chauntea-Grimnir).
The party discussed plans for assaulting the hobgoblins in the textile mill with Grinkle, specifically asking for ways that they might be turned or possible political or religious schisms. Grinkle was able to inform them about the basics of the Lostafinga tribe, the layout of the factory, and the fact that there were some 500 hobgoblins, with at least 200 soldiers there. Grimnir decided that a surgical strike to kill or kidnap the hobgoblin high priestess was their best bet for destabilizing the hobgoblin forces.
Tvoja informed them that the wells and catacombs that led under the old textile mill included a safe-house of the Church of Mask and the Thieves’ Guild. She led them down into the wells where they met with Professor Swipe, who agreed to provide some kind of distraction to get the majority of the hobgoblin forces out of the compound in exchange for the party agreeing to locate and deliver an ancient treasure which the Cadornas had supposedly hidden somewhere in the mill.
After dark, the party snuck up the well in the center of the mill. They waited until they heard the sound of trumpets and rushing boots, as three-quarters of the hobgoblin garrison streamed out of the compound to confront some unseen threat.
Aidern’s familiar scouted ahead, locating the make-shift temple, though it was repelled by a magic circle. Traith summoned a cloud of fog to obscure their movements and they rushed the temple. Melastasya threw open the door to see the old crone Grishnak sacrificing an orcish child, before an assembly of two score lesser priestesses. Grimnir borrowed Traith’s scroll of Misty Step and teleported to appear on the altar just as Grishnak finished her sacrifice. He appeared with flaming eyes and mouth, and, in draconic, which the hobgoblins apparently understood, pronounced jihad, claiming that the priestesses should be at the top of the hobgoblin order. Grishnak, not wanting to lose face in front of her underlings, backed Grimnir’s play, crying victory and sending the fourty axe-wielding lady-hobos streaming out into the courtyard, where they began to slaughter any male soldier that refused to bow the knee to Grishnak.
Grimnir quickly evacuated the temple using a gaseous form scroll and the party started searching for the treasure. In a nearby building, an old stone structure converted to a barracks, Grimnir, still gaseous, found a hidden room with a large chest. The problem being, that, of course, it was behind a wall of the room which had been claimed as the sub-chief’s bedchambers. The massive hobgoblin lay asleep on a large bed, three hobgoblin women draped over him—apparently to exhausted from mating to care about the muster and ensuing religious coup-d’-etat going on outside.
Traith disguised him/her self as a hobgoblin harem girl. Traith slinked into the bed-chamber, hoping to sneak into the secret room, only to find that the door was directly behind the bed. Shrugging, Traith climbed up onto the bed and began to tease the sub-chief, running his/her hands over the hobo’s naked skin. The other hobgoblin women seemed very confused by Traith’s actions and the chief seemed unresponsive (apparently not used to the concept of fore-play). Triath finally resorted to slapping him awake, only to narrowly avoid getting hit in the face by the axe the chief had already in his hand.
Traithe hopped up and sashayed out of the room, again narrowly avoiding a thrown axe. She taunted the chief again, this time provoking him to leap out of bed, snatch an over-sized sword from the wall, and charge at Traith. The rest of the party, laying in wait, leaped on the sub-chief, kicking the door closed once he was in the hallway. Traith paralyzed him using the wand, cyllibrym, and the rest turned the huge hobgoblin into a pin-cushion.
They piled into the room, Grimnir chasing the harem-girls out with his demonic visage, overturned the bed and set at the hidden door with crowbars. The small room beyond was filled with a gigantic chest, nearly six feet in width and a little more than half that in height and depth, as well as a very sudden and unhealthy looking beam of silver-white light. Melastasya and Aidern pulled the rails of the bed and used them to hook the chest, which took all four of them (Grimnir being still gaseous) to scooch out of the small room.
Tvoja sprung the lock on the giant chest, narrowly avoiding a cloud of spinning, whirling, jagged-edged blades of glass. They shrugged and began shoving the whole chest, all nine-hundred pounds of it, cloud of blades and all, out into the hallway. Five minutes later, just as they were about to lever the chest out into the courtyard, the blades dissipated to reveal close to sixty cubic feet of gold—cups, plates, jewelry, pieces of armor, bars of bullion, and more, but no coins or other liquid cash.
Traith called up another cloud of fog and Melastasya rushed to the well. She dived in and swam down, hoping to gauge the depth of the well, only to find that the associated aquifer went deeper than she could safely swim. Swimming back to the water’s surface, she ran a rope from the top of the well to the catacombs’ opening where a dozen members of the thieves’ guild waited. The party began sending a steady stream of bags filled with gold down the rope. There are a few near misses from the hobgoblins still fighting a civil war in the square, but the party manages to get out in once piece.
Professor Swipe, meeting them in the catacombs, is so pleased by their success that he gives the party one-sixth of the liberated treasure ( one hundred pounds of gold).
Melastasya, still awake and in pretty good shape, encourages the party to head into the civilized part of town and find “Delbar” to inquire about killing bugbears in exchange for free fish. This late at night, they are forced to sneak into town using the thieves’ tunnels, only to find the fish market closed and that Delbar lives outside of the walled portion of town. Mel does succeed in waking a fishmonger who lives closer to the market, arranging for a large supply of Halibut (most of it without extra heads, eyes, or other weirdness) to be shipped out to Kryptgarten.
They sneak back out of town and return home with their gold.
Grimnir rises early and heads into town to attend the closed council session. Councilman Porphyrys puts forward the Bill of Attainder, which passes four to one, with only Chief Councilman Eberhard voting against. Markos immediately puts forward the homosexual agenda, and Grimnir rushes off to make sure Elissa is present to exercise her rights to vote. The latter bill comes to a tie vote—with Eberhard, Cadorna, and Bivant voting against—pushing Bishop Braccio to make the tie-braking vote…in favor.
Grimnir returns to Kryptgarten triumphantly to begin planning a wedding.
Back in Cryptgarten, the settlers continue to get worse. The swollen lymph nodes begin to harden, turn white, and mound in the center. Their skin becomes pale, almost translucent, and pulls away from the bones. And the ligaments in their jaws weaken, causing them all to walk about with their mouths open and slack. The smell of pine in the keep becomes overwhelming, like a forest that has just been cut down—even the middens reek of pine.
The Professors rush about trying various remedies and interviewing the patients to try to find some probable cause of this new malady. They find that the blood of the patients has become thick, like tree sap. Melastasya once again suggests that they try scalping and boiling someone, but is ignored.
Grimnir unloads several hundred gold on preparations for the wedding, pushing the sick peasantry to build the church as fast as possible. The peasants begin to look even worse—their skin hanging off their frames and sharp, boney spurs protruding from their lymph nodes.
Desperate to avoid spreading the plague to the honored wedding guests, Grimnir dispatched Melastasya to capture a hobgoblin alive. When she returned, hobo in tow, Grimnir and Melastasya descend into the depths of the keep, late at night, accompanied by candle-bearing ex-Chaos-Cultists. The hobgoblin was summarily scalped and boiled, slowly, accompanied by much screaming.
When the hobgoblin died, its head ripped open and a…thing—a massive, six-clawed crocodile, twice the size of the hobgoblin, with ghostly-pale flesh hanging in loose folds about its body and long, boney spears protruding from its back and the undersides of its limbs—clawed its way into the world. The thing lumbered its way over to Grimnir and Melastasya and prostrated itself before them—speaking into their minds that it was their loyal vassal and desired only that it be given the opportunity to pursue “true happiness”…and have another person boiled for its pleasure once a week.
Everyone awoke to find that the entire population of Kryptgarten had been cured of their malady—the thing which had been trying to birth itself into the world since Grimnir had first started practicing boiling dead orcs having finally found an outlet.
Grimnir commissioned some new mosaics depicting his pet for the bathhouses and sent to Phlan for “plush crocodile monsters” and toy windup versions to be given out to his peasantry to “get them used to the idea” that the horrible beast from beyond was their new mascot. The “thing” was dispatched to patrol the nearby forests, killing any hobgoblins it found—leaving their hands to be sent (sans pinkies) back as a warning, and mounting their skulls on its spines.
Construction of the church at Kryptgarten is completed, the black-iron bells hung, and the wedding of Markos Mondaviak and Elissa Bivant is held in the new building, presided over by Tvoja of the church of Mask. It is a simple ceremony, a marriage of convenience and negotiation, but joyous nonetheless, with a feast of fresh Halibut.