Dungeon and Dragon Campaign Journal: Part the 6
When last we saw our heroes, they were banished from the sewer by the drow Patate, and warned that if they returned he would wreck them. But the first five days of the Sanitation Deparment's adventures had constituted a full work week, so it was time for the team to take a break anyway.
The first part of their weekend they spent separately, in quiet contemplation or in meditation, figuring out the new abilities and stuff that a third experience level would bless them with. Fellissiya realized that she was being followed by a creepy quadrupedal fungus which, while creepy, could serve as a useful animal companion. Halros learned how to summon a huge fist of elemental air by focusing his ki. Mirada thought, "Shouldn't I be able to cast more and better spells? Hey, yeah, I should!" And she was. Then they all spent the rest of the weekend playing pool.
On Monday, though, it was back to the old grind. There were still three drains that needed to be opened up, all in the area east of the Temple of Torog—the Forbidden Zone. The team descended to the sewers and made their way to the Torog cultists' territory.
They were stopped by a couple of scrawny guards, one of whom immediately ran back to tell Patate that the hated interlopers had returned. The hated interlopers waited patiently for their audience with Patate, hoping to resolve the situation peacefully and pass through to the Forbidden Zone without creating a disturbance.
Patate had different plans in hand. Over the weekend, he had leveraged his victory over the Sanitation Department to stage a coup, installing himself as the new leader of the Torog cult and sending Malamoot off to parts unknown. Forgiving the hated interlopers would ruin his credibility. He met the Sanitation Department with a small army of guards, whom he commanded to "seize them!" in an extremely villainous manner. His goal was to incapacitate the heroes and offer them as a sacrifice to the sacred alligator Shacklecracker.
However, as it turned out, Patate's guards were incredibly inept. They pounced on Halros with angry spears, but his incredible monk abilities made him nearly impossible to wound or grapple. The Sanitation Department made short work of the guards, and Patate summoned a cloud of darkness in which he could escape the scene.
The battle won, the Sanitation Department set to work healing the cultists they had just finished beating up. They took the time to explain their situation, and the cultists explained theirs, and the two groups reached a mutual understanding to replace Patate's fearmongering. When they entered the cultists' dorms, they found Patate sniffling in his bed, his self-esteem shattered. The cultists did their best to cheer him up while the Sanitation Department exited for the Forbidden Zone.
They passed through the Temple of Torog. They approached the forbidden door. Halros tried to knock it down. That didn't work. Mirada tried knocking on it.
From the other side, as if from a great distance came the voice of Malamoot. He was glad to hear it was the Sanitation Department folks who had come knocking, and not the Torog cultists. He had holed himself up in the Forbidden Zone after being ousted as high priest. Now, hearing that Patate had fallen from power, Malamoot wanted to run back and reclaim his position as high priest. But the party had a job to do.
Malamoot very reluctantly let them finish clearing some of the drains in the Forbidden Zone, but he refused to let them enter one particular room—the Forbidden Room. The party said they were pretty sure there was another drain in there. Malamoot thought it over for a good long time, and then he said he would clear out the drain himself if the party promised they'd stay out. Around this time a lady wearing a towel stuck her head out of the Forbidden Room and asked Malamoot what was taking so long. Malamoot hurried inside, and the sounds of a storm drain being unblocked were heard.
The party accompanied Malamoot to meet up with the Torog cult, where he made an inspiring speech or something along those lines. Rocksy the kobold showed up! She had been dragged into the cult by Patate, back when she thought he was cool, and now she asked the party if she could maybe run back to Kobold Towne with them. Thus she was reunited with her countrymen, and another group hug was hugged.
At the end of the day, everything was back in its proper place, and all of the storm drains were open for business. Director Willowgrave was very pleased to hear of her employees' progress, and she revealed that she had finally lined up a social worker from the Department of Humanoid Services to conduct that census of the sewer that the party had suggested. But it was late, and all that would have to wait for tomorrow.
That night, Fallcrest was hit by a blustering thunderstorm.
It was still raining the next morning, as the team rushed into Willowgrave's office and met their social worker, Melanie Gerdes. Together they ran down into the sewer to make sure all its denizens had survived the night, and hopefully make naturalized Fallcrest citizens of them.
They soon found all the citizens of Kobold Towne: All healthy and none the worse for the storm, but not in Kobold Towne where they were supposed to be. They were sitting around in a nearby chamber, having abandoned Kobold Towne after its giant dragon skull started snorting and champing its teeth. At first, they thought this was awesome, but then it started expelling clouds of spores and pollen from the fungus farm on the other side, and Kobold Towne's air had become so thick with poisonous dust that they had to retreat. The kobolds had been hoping that the Sanitation Department would come back to solve this new problem, and now here they were! Perfect.
The team left Melanie with the kobolds, who started slinging paperwork at them with incredible enthusiasm, and donned their makeshift gas masks. They tramped over channels rushing with rainwater to investigate Kobold Towne.
It was as the kobolds had said: The dragon skull was moving, and it moved more angrily the closer the sanitation workers came. Observing it up close was a losing proposition. They realized they'd have to check it out on the other side, and that meant passing again through Torog territory.
Things had quieted down with the Torog cult, though, as Malamoot had again seized control and put Patate in the Punishment Cage. Malamoot was actually quite glad to have the party around, as their imposing presence made the cultists all the more willing to behave. The party couldn't stick around and act as Malamoot's enforcers, though. They had government work to do.
At the entrance to the fungus forest, the sanitation workers noticed something odd. There were two skeletons standing outside the door. The skeletons were animate skeletons, and when they noticed the party, they attacked. But they were cheap, decrepit skeletons, and they were quickly pulverized by Halros's fists and Mirada's hammer.
As the team delved into the Mushroom Zone, they found the master of these pathetic skeletons: It was Natalya the necromancer, the lady they had kicked out of the sewer a week ago! She was the one animating the dragon skeleton with fell magics! And she had brought a friend with her: Not her boyfriend, whom Halros had punched in the face so brutally, but Mantzag, the half-orc, the former Sanitation Department employee, who had fallen in battle against Natalya's specter! He was a zombie now!
Natalya was furious that her plans to animate the dragon skull were being interrupted again, and she was especially furious to see Halros, the man who had punched her boyfriend in the face so brutally. She sicced Mantzag's zombie on the party, but Halros summoned his giant fist of elemental air, and for a second time Mantzag was killed more or less immediately.
Natalya was a live person though, though, with class levels, and third-level spell slots, and she wasn't going down without a fight. Desperately she shot all kinds of necromantic energies at the heroes, and teleported around in the form of a swirl of mist, and bestowed temporary hit points upon herself. With a hand wrapped in black magic, she sucked out Halros's life force, knocking him out and giving her a few more moments to attempt her escape.
Then Fellissiya summoned her latent fungus powers, and bade the tendrils and vines of the forest to wrap Natalya up so that the team could rain down bludgeoning and piercing damage upon her. Just as Mirada was about to land a blow with her maul that would break more than Natalya's face, the necromancer finally admitted defeat.
But the dragon skull was still growling and chomping! Mirada and Halros knew a thing or two about dismantling necromantic rituals though, and they did this by knocking over the little piles of rocks and scuffing out the magic runes that Natalya had assembled. Easy peasy: The dragon skull resumed its usual stoicism.
By this time, Melanie Gerdes had finished issuing SSNs to the citizens of Kobold Towne, as well as to the Minister of Rats and his friend Liga (who never ended up doing anything in this story). Halros and Mirada accompanied Melanie to process the members of the Torog cult while Fellissiya carried Natalya off to the police station.
At the end of the day, the Sanitation Department's job was well and truly finished, and now it is time for the epilogue:
- The Minister of Rats eventually met with the City Council to present his proposal to protect the city from further disturbances with a Rat Militia.
- The Cult of Torog has a spot in the Neutral Evil division of Fallcrest's intramural softball league.
- The Sanitation Department couldn't decide what to do with the myconids of the Mushroom Kingdom, but they fear something will have to be done before the fungal biomass starts to impinge on the rest of the sewer.
- Natalya Kishar pled guilty to ten counts of necromancy and attempted necromancy and was sentenced to one year in city jail. Her boyfriend Konstantin visits her all the dang time.
- The mysterious portal to a horrible slime dimension remains mysterious.
- Kobold Towne was made a recognized district of Fallcrest, and is being penciled onto the maps. Some nerds from the historical society are going to investigate the provenance of its humongous dragon skull. Mirada, Halros, and Fellissiya still go down there once in a while to visit their friends and play Human Poker.