If you are not caught up, you may want to go back and read the previous adventure or this one is unlikely to make any sense. Although, since Vanir "mildly retconned", it may not be entirely necessary to read the previous post.
The grass and trees do not look quite right in this area, like our intrepid group is in another part of the world, which we are clearly not. However, being in an unfamiliar land did not deter our brave party and we headed down the path to the west. Along the way, we meet a draconic humanoid named Malthos who joins us in our quest; this is fortunate as Thimbledorf seems to have disappeared at some point. A short ways down the road, we see a sign with a pink heart pointing to Triboar. While this seems odd, it isn’t any more weird than anything else we have witnessed recently so we continue undaunted.
As we reach Triboar, we spot a similar sign pointing to the right; curious at this point, we follow it. After travelling through town for a couple of minutes we notice an odd picket fence in the distance. As we approach, we discover why it looked odd; the fence is made of bones and has hearts engraved into it. Most of the roof and trim of the house are also made of bone. Against our saner judgement we enter the grounds whereupon a hedge-trimming skeleton smiles and waves to us.
Expe knocks on the door and is greeted by a well-dressed skeleton who offers to take our coats and asks if we would like to see the master. At this point, we are dying (no pun intended, for once) to see the owner of this estates and answer in the affirmative. The lord of the house looks like Fred Rodgers and is busy reading books bound in flesh. His belt buckle is a small happy-looking skull. He informs us that he is Lionel, Master of the Gentle Necromancy.
It turns out that the Raven Queen has imprisoned Lionel in this alternate reality and he has been making the best of it. Back in the "normal" world, people were suspicious of him. Here, he is an important and respected figure who protects the town. The cult has been running around irking monsters, who Lionel fears will take out their wrath on the town. For instance, the white dragon Philbaz mostly leaves people alone unless he has been angered. Though, Lokan, a green dragon, has been harassed by cultists recently and hasn’t been seen since.
After asking us to investigate, he hands us a long bony wand with hearts carved into it explaining that if we break it, 6 "fabulous-looking" bony friends will come to our aid. We leave Alicia Erin (she picked up a second name) – who is now okay with her "family" being called cultists as they tried to kill her recently – with Lionel as we travel North out of town towards the alternate Nonokwesa.
The bone wand starts vibrating and sparking and we start to hear Lionel’s voice; apparently, it also serves as a bone-phone. Apparently the bone-phone has a GPS (ghoul positioning system) built-in as he tells us that there are cultists over the hill (physically, not metaphorically). When we reach the top of the hill, we find them in a ravine standing around a tank of black liquid and one of them states that "Captain Rule will have [their] asses" if they do not pour it on the dragon.
We decide to try sneaking down to them, which works until Expe hits the vat with a couple of arrows. A couple of the party lost their sense temporarily and attacked their allies, but they snapped out of it pretty quickly. After the fight, we stab the goo with our weapons of light and the ichor starts to dissipate.
We find a rod among the possessions of the cultists with the following instructions. First extend the rod. Second, announce your destination. Third, draw a circle around the party. Fourth, go to sleep until you reach your destination. Finally, upon killing your target, speak the phrase "the accursed morning comes" to return home. This sounds more complicated than clicking your heels together three times; I think you already need the brain to use it – too bad scarecrow.
We returned to Lionel who gave us each an item. Jed received a skeletal rat whom he promptly named Skitters. Expe was given bone arrows, which we assume fragment when they hit their target (either that, or they are useless). Wiggy, whom Lionel seems to like, was handed a bone necklace.
We attempt the ritual to try going back to the normal world. It was suggested by Malthos that we should "let the necromancer watch us while we sleep". Oddly, we seem to go along with the suggestion. When we get out of this shadow realm, Malthos is no longer with us inciting mistrust from several of the party members. We notice a group of people approaching and we quickly try to hide, but there is not much cover.
The travelers pass right by us without notice; it appears that we are mostly intangible. After travelling a while, we encounter a legion with Dundee at the lead. Strangely, four of the soldiers appear slightly shadowy – or at least shady – seem to be able to see us. One of them yells at us to halt and attacks. Dundee – obviously confused – furiously asks the soldier what he is doing.
Jed makes one of them insult Dundee, but he is too angry to notice over his own yelling. We ended up killing three of the four and convinced that one to leave us alone. We still had fun with him though. After making him addled for a few minutes, Dundee becomes enraged at him. The Jed magically causes the symbol of Orcus to appear as a brand on the man’s forehead and spears are instantly pointed at him.
Shortly thereafter, we start to fully materialize and hide in the forest while heading to Waterdeep. We make camp with Maldrek taking first watch. The rest of us wake up in Lionel’s house. Malthos is there, wakes up, and says, "it didn’t work, I guess.". This does not make us any more trusting of him as we were going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he appeared somewhere else.
At this point, one of Lionel’s floating eye spies comes in with news that the cultists are plotting to overthrow the Queen of Cormyr. We now have a dilemma, save Waterdeep, save Cormyr, or prevent the goopening of Philbaz the dragon. In the end, seeing the dragon wins.
We start to feel funny after a while of being here and Jed starts to feel more distrustful of his comrades. As we approach the dragon’s cave, we notice that the ooze apparatus is still smashed from earlier. Upon entering, we witness an man-sized and shaped chunk of ice hit the far wall and shatter. Bored with the cultists, Philbaz turns on us instead.
When the dragon became severely injured, it summoned giant worms to attack us. We were not amused. After defeating all of our adversaries, Lionel calls us on the bone phone (seriously, how does he know what we’re doing) and asks us to return with the dragon’s corpse. When asked how in the Abyss he expects us to do that, he sends skeletons to help.
After returning to Lionel, we learn from his eye spy that the cultists are still plotting to kill the Queen of Cormyr. We slept and dreamt of Cormyr. Malthos stayed behind again – that slacker – and was awoken by a frantic skeleton. Lionel was slumped over, many of the skeletons were in pieces, and there were small knee-high flying forms starting to close in on our bodies.
How will this resolve? Is Malthose really an agent of darkness worthy of our distrust? How "fabulous" are the summoned skeletons? You’ll have to wait to find out the answers to these questions.