Chapter 8

Monsters from the Outer Planes

September 28, 2019

Having just survived the savage attacks of two red frog-monsters, the adventurers elected to take a short rest and plan their next move. During the break, Sargael transformed his snake familiar into a hawk to send it soaring high above the trees for a look through its eyes. At the highest ground on the 3-mile long jungle island, a makeshift treehouse could be made out.

The heroes made to move into the jungle when they saw a tiefling wrapped in a ragged canvas watching them from the treeline. He approached once invited and carried on a very strange conversation in which the party learned he was Akneth Kagula, their quarry, shipwrecked here three years ago and looking for a way off the island, but from the way he spoke he seemed to have lost a few marbles. After he tried to take one of the party’s skiffs, they took up his offer to see his treehouse.

After an hour or so of walking through jungle, trying to keep up with Kagula, the adventurers reached the base of the tree where tattered sails and ruined planking indicated a long-ago ruined treehouse. Kagula then told them he wanted them to meet his friend, and a large, blue-skinned frog humanoid much bigger and meaner than the reds they had fought came out from behind the tree to attack.

Like the red ones before it, this blue hulk would claw into each party member just once or twice before moving on to another, but unlike them, these wounds dealt permanent damage and nearly killed Rhodedendron. When Gloucester tried climbing the tree, Kagula shot him down with a hurled flame, so Mernpool shot his bow at the renegade wizard whose body then transformed into a green version of the same humanoid-toads.

The fight in the jungle against two of the monsters was brutal but somehow the heroes defeated them without a single loss. As they recovered, Sargael’s familiar took a look inside the wreckage of the treehouse and saw only a few potion bottles, a dagger and a mouldy, heavily damaged book. The adventurers duly took the meager treasure and Sargael started reading the book, casting a mending spell on what pages he could recover.

The journal of Akneth Kagula held several spells as well as an incomplete log of his journey and Sargael was able to learn that the red, blue and green monsters come from the plane of Limbo and are called Slaad. These creatures of Chaos each have a large gem in their brain which, once extracted, may be used to dominate them. The blue sapphire Charna Khan had hired Sargael and Boralin to recover was a control gem which Kagula believed was linked to the Blue Slaad rumoured to haunt the island of Tenjadan. The ship he took to get there was attacked by pirates and ran aground as it fled. Kagula found the Blue Slaad and took control of it but not before it had wounded several of the other survivors of the shipwreck who then grew ill over three months until huge larval worms burst from their chests and grew rapidly into other Red Slaadi, which then attacked the other survivors and the cycle repeated, resulting in an overpopulation of reds who then turned on each other.

Kagula had managed to survive all of this by using the superior Blue Slaad for protection but he eventually dropped his guard one day and the monster took its shot at revenge, striking Kagula with a grievous wound which turned much, much worse over the course of the next few days. Kagula called it “chaos phage” and mentioned how, as a mage, his fate might be to become a spell-casting Green Slaad. The wizard’s final entry was, simply, “I am doomed.”

Armed with this knowledge, the adventurers quickly established who among them was diseased with either Red Slaad larvae or the Blue Slaad’s chaos phage. Only Gloucester had escaped such a mark and when those afflicted with phage felt their condition worsen alarmingly they turned to Feti and his Staff of Healing for the lesser restorations it would take to eliminate the danger. Without it, not everyone might have survived to go aboard the Dollateer when it returned to pick them up and take them back to Port Tarayad.

From there, they chartered passage aboard the Lakestrider for a five day trip back to Bendajee and on the way Sargael used his Identify spell to learn the powers of the strange chess set the party had been carrying since they met. He learned that it is the first chess set ever created, made by dragons and imbued with the power to effect great change in the world. Played between people, it grants a powerful feeling of positivity to the winner and negativity to the loser that lasts for three days, but played between nobles it can shape regional politics and predict the outcome of wars. Played against a dragon, however, it is the ultimate game: the loser dies and the winner is granted a wish.

Once back in Bendajee, Sargael and Boralin reported their failure to retrieve the sapphire to Charna Khan. The Merchant King of Bendajee was unhappy with their story so they arranged for Rhodedendron to give a detailed and stirring account of the adventure which convinced Khan to give the tiefling and the dragonborn another chance. He offered them the job of going to the city of Qarabi, finding the half-elf warlock Deneb Klaa and bringing him to see Khan “whether he wants to or not” and for their trouble he would give them 10,000 gp, with the first thousand being advanced right away.

Feti, upset over the party not being paid for the island adventure, confronted Sargael and Boralin and things got very heated with a minor party war barely nipped in the bud when the tiefling cast sleep on the angry sorcerer. He woke up a minute later to find his hands bound to prevent any spell casting and the group talked everything out. Sargael and Boralin paid the rest of what they owed the party and then promised them an even share of the Deneb Klaa job offered to them by Charna Khan.

Chapter Nine: The Long Arm of the Law