How Not to Bake an Apple Pie

Back at the inn, Danak rents a room and to leave his things in. Ornella stays behind as Never and Liarel head off to watch the secret passageway to the Redbrands’ hideout while Danak and Mella go to meet Hollia Thorton at the miners’ exchange.

At the miners’ exchange Danak and Mella meet Hollia, who seems largely uninterested in them until Danak boasts that we have already faced off against several Redbrands and (he says) sent them running. She tells them not to bother with the rest of the Redbrands and to instead go directly for Glasstaff, their leader. She believes that without their leader they will cease to be an issue. She also tells them that if they happen to find any correspondence of Glasstaff’s and bring it to her after he’s been dealt with, she’d be willing to pay them 100 gold. She is unable to give them any new information about the Redbrands besides mentioning that they have a goblin minion with them under Transcender Manor’s ruins.

Meanwhile, Liarel and Never make their way to the thicket hiding the secret entrance to the Redbrands’ lair. Once there they settle into hiding spots in the tree line. Never tries desperately not to chat and Liarel tries not to be distracted by bunnies.

Danak and Mella decide to go “sight-seeing” at the Transcender Manor ruins. As they approach they notice several sets of human-sized tracks coming and going from the manor, implying a front entrance to the hideout. Wandering around a bit, they happen upon a set of stairs heading downward to a door. Mella opens the door onto a cellar with a cistern, several barrels, and two doors. Mella and Danak each listen at a door, Mella noticing a slight cough sound behind theirs.

Danak decides that they’ve completed their goal in touring the manor and that it is time to return to the rest of the group so we can proceed together. Mella, however, is insistent that they check out the barrels, believing that the Redbrands are smugglers. Danak says they can check out the barrels later, once the whole group comes back. Mella grows increasingly impatient with being told what to do and pulls a spike from their bag to try prying open a barrel. Danak tries to grapple Mella but Mella (barely) breaks free and busts open the top of the closest barrel with a loud crack. Three Redbrands come out from behind the far door. Danak notices them and tries to pretend to be drunk. Mella remains focused on the apples, thinking perhaps there are gems inside. They take a big bite out of one of the apples. It was real delicious.

Realizing they’ve been seen, the Redbrands attack, first striking Mella who retaliates with their staff, then barely scratching Danak who strikes back with his axe. Mella casts thunderwave, knocking back two of the Redbrands and breaking open several barrels. Rations spill out of the barrels including, incidentally, flour which bursts out into the room, filling the air and covering everything and everyone. The third Redbrand is knocked into the cistern and does not move again.

One of the Redbrands slips on a stray apple, missing Danak, but another rushes up and strikes Danak twice. Danak wildly swings at his assailants as Mella backs up to the cellar entrance. Danak blocks an attack from one Redbrand as another strikes him in the head. Mella rushes outside, not seeing Danak fall. They wait outside for a bit before calling for Danak as loud as they can.

By the thicket, Liarel and Never hear Mella call for Danak and immediately get up and run in the direction of their voice. Mella, meanwhile, runs toward the thicket looking for help. As they all approach each other Mella begins shouting about what happened. Liarel smacks Mella in the face with a cure wounds as aggressively as possible and Mella leads the way back to the cellar.

Back in the cellar the small group notices one Redbrand floating face down in the cistern and drag marks heading through the rightmost door. We open the door onto a hallway and Liarel leads the way inside, being careful to walk as close as possible to the footprints already in the room. Never, oblivious, doesn’t follow the tracks and as she makes her way down the hallway the floor collapses out from under her, landing her in a pit. Never climbs up out of the pit and rejoins Liarel and Mella at the end of the hall.

Opening the door at the end of the hallway we see a room with sarcophagi and three humanoid skeletons clad in rusted chain-mail. Never pokes at the skeletons with mage hand as Liarel begins to walk into the room. They don’t react until Liarel make it to the center of the room, at which point the come to life and attack.

A skeleton grazes Liarel’s arm with an old sword and she strikes back with her staff, bones crumbling away from the attack. Mella smashes another skeleton in the eyesocket and it completely shatters. The remaining skeletons strike at Liarel and Never before Never destroys one with her mace and Mella takes out the other with their staff. Liarel makes a point of shattering the skulls with her staff before we proceed to the next room.

Liarel leads us through the next door, which opens onto a dungeon. To the right are a pair of women in a cell, to the left is a boy in a cell and a slumped figure on the floor. hiding against the wall are two more Redbrands. They attack and two more Redbrands covered in flour come from behind the door.

One of the Redbrands slash at Liarel and Never retaliates with Witch Bolt. Liarel casts entangle, capturing the Redbrands, and ducks at Mella hurls a handful of fire at one of the Redbrands, hitting them squarely in the face, causing them to collapse. Another Redbrand tears at the vines around their feet and stabs Liarel twice. She falls and the vines begin to recede. Never sends out a second wave of Witch Bolt, killing one Redbrand, as Mella strikes the one standing over Liarel with their staff. Liarel wakes and throws fire upward, taking out the Redbrand. Mella hit the remaining Redbrand with their staff and he falls.

Liarel searches the Redbrands’ bodies for keys to the cells but finds none. Never somehow manages to pick the lock on the cell holding the two women with a fork. They cower in fear of her, so she backs away as Liarel enters the cell to try and comfort them. They speak of a big furry monster with large ears. There are Thel’s wife (Mirna) and daughter (Nilsa). The boy is their son and brother (Nars), respectively.

Trying to pick the lock to the other cell, Never breaks her fork and Mella breaks a sword they picked up from the Redbrands. Never tries Eldrich Blast, but this also fails damage the lock enough to destroy it. Mella hears voices coming from outside. We disguise ourselves, the women, the boy, and Danak’s unconscious body in red cloaks and Liarel goes off to investigate the voices. She finds them in the cellar, at least six voices, one of which was scruffy and inhuman. They are arguing about going to investigate the commotion coming from the dungeon. Liarel sneaks back. Mella finally breaks open the lock with a spike and the boy rushes out. We grab Danak as we hear four voices begrudgingly approach and we leave the dungeon, heading further into the hideout.

We enter another hallway. There is a locked door to the right, but a well-traveled patch of ground heading into the left wall reveals a secret door. We open it and head through into a room with barrels and empty crates. Mella starts trying to collect stuff as the rest of us proceed without them, but they manage to catch up as we head through the open wall to the south.

Never leads the way into a cold natural cavern, a rough wooden bridge spanning a crevasse. The smell of decaying flesh fills the air. We begin to head south, but Never is stopped by a voice in her head. “Yes, demon one. What are you doing here? You bring me flesh? Give me the little one…you’re no demon. You’re good. I hates you!” As Never stops we notice a hunched figure with a large green eye across the crevasse. Never mentally asks “is that you?” and the eye vanishes.

Mella then hears a voice in their head, “Why are you here? You came to feed me? Give me flesh.” Mella tries to bargain with the voice, offering it freedom instead. “I’m already free. Free to feast.” Mella tries to negotiate giving up the boy for safe passage fro the cavern, but the voice doesn’t make any such promises. The eye monster appears again, this time green energy emanating from its eye. Mella feels their energy drain, but shakes it off. The green glowing energy disappears.

Mella and Never fill in the group and we all ready our weapons. Liarel looses and arrow and Never strikes the monster with witch bolt. It rushes across the bridge and slashes at Never, who falls unconscious, then it strikes Mella. Mella and Liarel hurl fire at it as it again emits green energy from its eye at the boy Nars but he also seems to resist. As Mella hits it with another burst of flame it runs back across the crevasse and disappears behind a pillar. Mella tries to follow, but the bridge gives way beneath them. They fall into the crevasse and the bridge lands on their head, knocking them out. Liarel hears voices coming from the dungeon and throws flame at the monster again. It runs off.

Mella wakes as Liarel and the women collect Danak and Never and begin to proceed across the crevasse. Mella spots a chest which contains coins, scrolls, potions, and a leather wrapped bundle. They pocket the potions and bundle before catching up with the group. We hear a general commotion coming from the dungeon as we proceed. We continue through the passageway out through the thicket. Liarel leads the group into the forest to hide.

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