The Traveling Menagerie of Idiots

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Goblins don't play fair at all.

After the previous encounter and the goblin wizard’s attack on the Predator itself, the party decided it was too dangerous to be this close to the shore. With the ship’s repairs not quite complete, the night was spent at anchor an hour or so’s sail from Maesa Sari. In the morning, Anvir got up and did his usual morning routine of mediation and pushups, joined in the latter by Kang (it seems the rising-before-dawn thing is here to stay).

Now knowing what they were up against, everyone grouped together to determine the best tactics for taking out the remaining goblins and their Wizardly Leader. In the end, they ended up sailing the Predator closer so Lana could use her primeval awareness to discover that the goblins were still clustered in same ruins they had been before. Given that the still-damaged Predator meant they couldn’t fly over the ruins in a strafing run, the party decided that a frontal assault was the best plan. Or at least the most straight-forward.

Getting to shore was an adventure, with some members of the party swimming, some flying, and the remainder using the row boat to go ashore – but eventually, everyone made it, one way or another. The sailors were left to guard the Predator a ways off the shore – though it seemed more likely they were just going to spend the day drinking. They are pirates, after all. Kang was pretty confident that his stern words would be enough to make sure they stayed vigilant. (Spoiler alert: they weren’t.)

The full party – the Mouseketeers, with Sly, the twins, and Charlie – travelled towards the ruins, stopping occasionally for Lana to use her primeval awareness. She detected that the goblins were still ahead, but seemed to be slightly below where they currently stood. On arrival, they found that many of the buildings were actually illusions – harmless, apparently, but there was no sign of the goblins in any of them. After some poking around, Loralai discovered a ramp going down, that was covered by the illusion of ground. Carefully, the party began to descend down into it, with Kang and Loralai leading the way.

But the ramp was slippery, and Aremis lost his footing. Lana tried to haul him back up… but in his full plate he proved to be too heavy, and the two of them began sliding down towards the bottom. Anvir and Loralai tried to grab the pair – but weren’t able to get a hold. Luckily Kang seems to be used to rescuing his falling companions (as seen in the Darkwood) and managed to grab both of them at once, using his koloss sword to keep his own balance.

With everyone upright again, the party continued downward without incident (though Lana did fall again) until they found a flat part, where Loralai used her glaive to discover that it was actually an illusion, and there was a hole. Neither Kang nor Loralai could find anything resembling a ladder to climb down, so they dropped a rope down to depth-sound. When they pulled it back up… they found the rope had been cut.

Before the party had a chance to consider what that meant, the floor beneath them gave way.

Though Harlow managed to catch herself with a vine, Anvir took to the air, and Kang slammed his koloss sword into the wall to keep from falling, the other five fell into the room below.

The settling dust revealed a room made entirely of mirrors – the walls, the floor, even the ceiling. And everywhere they looked, they saw the goblin wizard, cackling. Completely surrounded, the party took action.

Anvir began by shining with a radiant light that reflected off the mirrors. When it faded, several of the goblins had vanished – burned out of existence, or simply illusions that had vanished. Lana followed suit, opening fire on the goblins she could see – but, again, it turned out that perhaps some of them were merely illusions, making it hard to tell if her arrows had found their marks or not.

They heard the goblin wizard laugh.

“Kill them when they go down.”

And before anyone could react to that, a spectral hand appeared out of nowhere, seizing Anvir.

In a rage, Kang dropped down and began smashing the nearest mirrors, so they would be able to see the wizard – but the koloss sword passed right through them. They, like the goblins, were only illusions.

In the moments of confusion that followed that, the very floor beneath the party’s feet began to move, splitting into four pieces, lifting them and rotating – until the party was completely split, surrounded by mirrors and goblins. Some of the party had been lucky enough to stay together – but Harlow, who had still been hanging onto the wall with her vine, was completely alone when she dropped down into what seemed to be the middle of the mirror room. Seeing only goblins, she eldritch blasted one into oblivion and tried to dispel the hand holding Anvir – but it only gripped him tighter.

Meanwhile, hidden among the reflections, Charlie snuck up behind a goblin and tried to shove it in a pit. But the goblin only stumbled forward, revealing that the pit trap was also a lie. Illusion. Thing. Sly’s attempt at casting shatter similarly had no effect on the illusion mirrors around them, though she did manage to take out a single goblin.

With the mirrors proving to be not as real as the party had believed, the goblins’ attacks came from all sides. Returning fire with her eldritch blast, Loralai used her glaive to test one of the mirrors. Finding it to be an illusion, she ran straight… into it. Instead of trying again, she blasted another goblin. Who, being an asshole, proceeded to run through another mirror, out of her sight.

The twins, seeing each other at the end of a long corridor of mirrors, opted to stay close together and joined up with Lana. The three of them were Hasted by Sly, as the only ones in her sight, and Lana managed to kill a goblin by shooting through what may have been a wall… a mirror? Or perhaps just an illusion.

Anvir, still held and pinned over the centre of the mirror rooms by the giant hand, nevertheless managed to use scorching ray to kill another goblin. Meanwhile Kang chose to deal with finding himself separated from all his friends and alone in another part of the room by going into a frenzy, killing three goblins with three swings of the koloss sword. But these few small victories seemed to make little difference, as goblins continued to appear and disappear in the mirrors, running into and out of them. And Anvir found the hand holding him dragging him up and away from the fight, completely out of sight of his companions.

While the others continued to fight the goblins, Loralai found her way back to the center of the room – passing Harlow – she jumped high into the air, breaking through the illusion that made up the roof. And from there, she spotted Anvir being carried away, using Misty Step to get to his side before he could dragged further. But she wasn’t able to get him out, and his attempt at dispelling the hand failed much as Harlow’s had.

Down below, the twins formed a defencive line around Lana and Sly in a valiant attempt to protect them from the goblins and the arrows coming out of… well… everywhere. Made even less effective by Lana running around, filling every goblin in sight with arrows.

And then Lana, Kang, Harlow, and Sly all found themselves somewhere else.

Still trapped in the mirror rooms, but not where they had been a second before – they had all somehow been teleported to a different spot among the mirrors. Finding herself near a goblin, Harlow threw fire at it. But this attack was reciprocated as fire bombarded the party from all directions.

Above, the hand holding Anvir disappeared. Seeing this, Loralai immediately jumped back down into the room where she fired off blasts of the night sky at goblins. Anvir followed her, but his sacred flame had no effect. Had he targeted an illusion? With all those mirrors, it’s hard to say…

The rooms then spun again, bringing much of the party into a small area – just as a Tyrannosaurus charged out of the wall next to Loralai and Kang, smashing the latter with its tail. Hidden from it by the wall, Loralai made to run for Harlow – but apparently dinosaurs also don’t care about walls, because it seized Loralai in its jaws, forcing her to use misty step to get away, eldritch blasting it once she had reached safety near Harlow. Lana, the twins, and Kang surrounded the T-rex as Harlow attempted to dispel it, Lana using her hunter’s mark to make her arrows do extra damage while the twins and Kang landed blow after blow with their swords.

Then a streak of darkened energy wrapped around Harlow’s armour, causing it to wither and fall completely to the ground. Seeing red, Harlow let out a long stream of elvish curses and threw up her hand again – cutting through the goblin wizard’s polymorph, and turning the dinosaur back into a very scared, very surrounded goblin. Which promptly fled back through the wall, with Lana shooting at its fleeing back.

With the party in such a convenient cluster, from the other side of the mirrored walls the goblin wizard cast fireball, the washes of fire knocking out Harlow and Charlie. And, directed by that intelligence, the other goblins focused their arrows on the unconscious pair – thankfully missing by a narrow margin as the rooms moved again, separating the party. The twins ran over to form a shield around Harlow, preventing any more arrows from reaching her while Loralai used a goodberry to revive Charlie, and Lana did the same for Harlow. But this only brought them all into another tight space as the goblin cast fireball a second time, rendering Lana and Harlow unconscious.

The situation starting to become desperate with the goblin wizard picking them all off from distance, Kang suddenly remembered through the haze of his rage that he had once been told how to get through an illusion. Just pretend the walls weren’t there and run straight at them. Simple, right? Shouting this out while the rest of the party gave him doubtful looks, Kang lifted the koloss sword, charged across the room, and through the back wall. (He will never roll well for intelligence again. Never.)

Finding himself in what appeared to be a mostly-naturally forming cavern, Kang spotted four goblins on wooden platforms – and the wizard itself on the other side of a magic circle in the far corner. Continuing his momentum, Kang charged forward and sliced the first goblin in half.

Having now seen one of their party successfully break through an illusion, Sly followed suit. Arriving in the back room, she cast shrapnel on the wizard, pelting it with shards of metal.

Back in the mirror rooms, the twins ran to the unconscious Lana and Harlow, using their goodberries to bring them back to consciousness. Lana used her healing word to get a bit more strength, while Anvir ran forward – but none of them could get through the walls.

On the other side of the walls, Kang killed the three remaining goblins, closing in on the goblin wizard. But, seeing itself surrounded and outnumbered, the wizard opted to leap into the centre of its magical circle. And disappeared. By the time the rest of the party succeeded in disbelieving the walls, there was no sign of the goblin wizard. The circle itself turned out to be little more than an illusion, discovered when Kang fell through (and was trapped by the glyph of silence on the bottom).

Regrouping, the party looked to Lana – but her primeval awareness couldn’t sense the goblin anywhere. Exploring the rest of the area (ignoring the “walls”), they discovered a small workroom on the other side which contained a number of notebooks and scrolls, which were shoved into Dorris. Since the coast seemed relatively clear – or at the very least, the goblin was nowhere to be found – the party headed back to the Predator. (Where, it should be noted, the sailors were decidedly not sober.)

As the next few days passed while the repairs on the ship continued, the goblin wizard remained hidden. Eventually, the party decided it wasn’t worth their time staying on Maesa Sari just to kill one (admittedly challenging) wizard – they had other things to do, like made for Kelna to confront Harlow’s father, Gladomain Vinespeaker. Before departing, the party visited the Island – Kang pointedly refusing to enter the lighthouse – and informed her of their decision. As a parting gift and in thanks for the sacrifices made while trying to clear the goblins, she gave Harlow a seed, with which to try and regrow her armour.

Returning to the shore, Loralai gathered the party – along with Anvir – on the beach. Before they set off, she said, there were two more people who would like to join the Mouseketeers. The first was Anvir, who was happily welcomed by all.

The second was Countess General Devina Aurora Elizabeth Verity Rothchild the Second, Countess of the Eleat Sea, second heir to the house of Rothchild, Adviser-General to the King of Rhaniel and Lady Commander of the Wraiths of Rhaniel.

At this, Loralai used prestidigitation to remove the makeup that had been previously covering her freckles, and the hairbrush of style to return her hair to its natural blonde – revealing that the person they had been travelling with for the last month or so was not who the rest of the party thought she was. (The only person unsurprised by this was Harlow.) The rest of them, naturally, had many questions – but, perhaps to her relief, did not seem too offended by the secrecy. After all, Devina Rothchild is wanted for regicide in Rhaniel (though she assured the party that she was not responsible for killing her brother-in-law), so it stands to reason she wouldn’t want her identity known. Accepting Devina, as herself (though back in disguise, for safety), into the Mouseketeers, they set sail for Kelna.

The two weeks of travel passed quietly, with the party working on their own projects and talking about various things. Lana and Anvir bonded over being the only good members of party. Harlow successfully used her seed to craft her armour, while Loralai’s enchanting did not go quite as well. Kang also failed to learn anything useful in the way of sailing – but he did discover the name of the twins’ father, Elhand Battleheart. Who was also on the mysterious burned list they had discovered in the dark tower. Apparently a rather fearsome pirate and overall unpleasant, the party elected to stay out of his way and hope that the Predator did, too – but also noted that he, too, seemed to fit the trend of “powerful and unpleasant” that currently make up the list.

By the end of those two weeks, the endless green of Kelna was in sight on the horizon.

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Fraser mollyherb

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