D&D West Marches 005 - The Ballad of Cynvard

Sometimes the cost of knowledge isn't worth the price.

Bridges Rhinestone Jr, back from some downtime after his last adventure is on the scene again in a new town away from Farwater. This time he's joining some new friends and an old acquaintance on a journey for knowledge. He's still a bit dejected and wrestling with himself over the absolute dumpster fire of negotiations he had some time ago, but he's had some time to reflect so things are looking up. Bridges Rhinestone Jr, master negotiator who can definitely convince people to do things, is back.

He joins his old friend Finwin Dimgar, who has amassed a party of adventurers to travel far across the water where there is inexplicably something magical that we know about for some reason. I mean, okay, let's get something straight here: Plot has to happen or this couldn't ever work, so just go with it.

Bridges Rhinestone Jr, now Level of 5 College of Lore Bard
Finwin Dimgar, Level 4 Wizard
Akio, Level 3 Fighter
Alston, Level 3 Wizard
Jean-Francoise, Level 3 Ranger
Kyri Stride, Level 3 Druid

First, we need a boat of some kind to travel across the water. A couple of party members volunteer to search for it. I mean, Bridges was thinking just go look at the docks, but apparently this was something we had to endeavor to do, so we did it, and eventually found a boat. A couple of the party members attempted to haggle with the captain of a fine vessel but somehow got their wires crossed and ended up insulting and disparaging the captain, which really didn't surprise Bridges but after the week he's had he wasn't exactly ready to jump into negotiations himself.

After a quick exchange of gold we all hop into the boat and begin our preparations for the journey. A party member was capable of casting goodberry so that would cover our food for the 13 day travel time. And we all just sorta hung out on a boat for a while, doing boat things, probably singing some Jimmy Buffet along the way I don't know what you do on a fucking boat.

So we're out at sea doing the boat thing and late at night, while we were all down below deck, somehow-all-awake-except-for-that-one-guy-and-definitely-not-fuckin'-but-not-really-doing-anything-at-all, as you do, when we hear clanging rattling about, which prompted someone in the party to wake up the sleeping member and we all went to investigate. Except the once-sleeping-guy who tried to put his armor on but that shit was going to take 100 rounds so fuck that. But he came to his senses and came up with us.

When we opened the hatch, or door, or gate, or whatever the fuck boats have, and peered outside. We saw some weird looking lobster kind of guy with a tentacle beard and pincers and shit who was preoccupied with fighting some of the seamen on the poopdeck. So, Bridges, being the absolute genius he is, decided to use Sleep for the first time in his life, which immediately backfired and knocked the two seaman out right in front of this monster man that we would eventually know to be a Chuul.

So the rest of the party got their blows in, managing to actually do work in the face of Bridge's failure. Thankfully the Chuul was too preoccupied with the mild mannered Druid who SHAPESHIFTED INTO A BEAR AND CHARGED HIM to notice the two easily murderable people at his... fins? And so he focused in on the bear.

Everyone else got their shots in, and the creature was, as they say, about to fucking die, and that's when Bridges leapt into the fray. And by leapt in I specifically mean he stood about 60 or so feet back just to be sure he would not be clawed in half, and cast the only spell that actually ever seems to work for him, Dissonant Whispers, which caused the Chuul to freak out in mental pain and die. It would mark Bridges' first kill since coming to *insert continent here*. Unfortunately, though it seemed to look up for Bridges from here, the misfortune and failure would not be far behind.

The 13 day adventure to *insert far off location here* ended without any further trouble, leaving the party a very, very short hike away from the entrance of some sort of dungeon which is supposedly housing some knowledge or some shit I'm not even sure how we knew about this but, plot, so...

A clever beaver(Not actually a beaver) casts Pass Without Trace and gets everyone ready to be sneak boys, which came just in time to see a fireball of goblins with two hobgoblins come rushing out of the dungeon, carrying bits and pieces of what appeared to be a definitely-dead goblin. The goblins spoke amongst themselves for a little bit while the party also planned what they should do. Some suggested letting them go but, as the party had arrived via ship it worried others that the goblins may find it and sink it. So they sprang into action, casting their area of effect magics and rushing(sneakily) up to stab some fools in the face.

We got a surprise round on them, and managed to drop quite a few of them before they were able to act. In fact, I'm pretty sure only one Hobgoblin and one Goblin managed to actually take a turn at all, with the goblin (wisely) choosing to get the fuck out of there after waking up from it's a charm induced incapacitation only to see all of its companions dead. Neither of them managed to do anything worthwhile and soon both creatures that still stood were dead. After a quick looting of the goblins, Bridges managed to get a Shortbow with 30 arrows because this rapier he has isn't doing jack shit for him at 60ft away.

After conversing for a moment or so, they head in. The dungeon, unsurprisingly, is dark. So people pull out torches and some use their Light spells where available. The party worked their way around and found themselves in a much larger room with, of course, portals. Because Bridges surely hasn't seen enough of those fucking things. Goddamnit. Three portals. One rainbow looking magicy portal, one very bright portal and one green portal. One was leaking blood so the party decided to not immediately jump in. They carried on for a bit and to their left was another hallway, which they followed and it brought them to a room with two statues and a riddle on a plaque.

The plague's riddle was pretty much a dead giveaway about what was about to happen, and after a few minutes Bridges spoke up about the fact that he was just in a dungeon where literally every inanimate object(Even the fucking kitchen table, goddamn, who animates a KITCHEN. TABLE!?) sprang to life to kill them. And since irony has no master, the statues in the room sprang to life and immediately tried to kill the party. All but two of the party(Bridges and... Kyri or Jean) were able to avoid being surprised, since Bridges literally just pointed out what was about to happen.

The statues were surprisingly not very strong at all, but were resistant to non-magical damage which put the martial classes in an awkward position where they are doing good damage but it's getting halved. Bridges managed to actually use his vicious mockery to a good affect, and also his magical lyre which gives him the ability to add 1d4 of additional damage to his damage spells, against one of the gargoyles(Thanks for the reminder DM!), which felt nice.

The gargoyles too went down and from here things started to get fuzzy for Bridges, because he was too busy focusing on figuring out the riddle to pay attention to ANYTHING ANYONE ELSE SAID, and was somehow out of the loop that other people had already figured this shit out. So, Bridges doesn't really know what happened in great detail, only that there were plaques in other rooms with numbers on them to help coordinate on the clues from the riddle. Or something.

So, the party determines which portal is safe to jump into and immediately rushes off into one, which is quite possibly the worst feeling in the world, jumping into a portal which could very well shoot you into the sun or some shit but hey, everyone else is doing it so let's get BUCK WILD.

The party bounces back and forth between different rooms and different portals going all over the damn place before eventually one of the party, Finwin Dimgar, goes through a different portal to a room with the same three portals, but they were shielded by these three gems. I cannot recall their specifics but one was red, one was blue, and one was green. It seems that the only way, from this room, to unshield the portals is to remove a gem. So, without even thinking of the consequences, which will soon become apparent as a character trait, he grabs the gem and it immediately explodes into a fireball. Red. Red for fireball. And also murder because he fails his dexterity save and goes down. To add insult to injury he also fails his first death saving throw.

So, the party who are just chillin' in another room entirely, hears an explosion from not to far off, and panics because yep he's probably dead. Eventually they find themselves standing over his crispy unconscious body and people are arguing about potions and to heal him and stabilizing him and healers kits and Bridges casts cure wounds because spell slots come back but potions cost money and fuck that. So Finwin's back, extra crispy, but back. Someone else in the party is dead set on taking the blue gem much to absolutely no surprise on behalf of Bridges because death wish.

So most of the party leave, the druid turns into a bear and grabs the gem, taking a whole bunch of damage in the process but in the end isn't in any danger because bear. Two gems down, one more to go, the fighter, Akio, decides fuck it, let's go nab the green one while we're at it. But Bridges remembers that he has a pearl and has readded the Identify spell back into his list, so decides to go with Akio and attempt to identify whatever the hell is up with the gems. So he ritual casts it because spell slots are not unlimited and we haven't even really fought anything that scary yet. About 5 minutes into the 10 minute casting time someone in the party assumed we were dead and came to investigate, but we were fine. The other 5 minutes were up and Bridges was able to identify the gem as containing the Cloudkill spell.

Bridges isn't familiar with that spell, but it contains the word "Kill" so it must be nasty, and decides to avoid it. He communicates this to the fighter and the fighter is satisfied with this, also not wanting to die. Jean, who I BELIEVE was the person to investigate our well-being, had displayed interest in taking the gem, and after a brief misunderstanding about sarcasm, decided to leave the gem alone once they were informed that, no, Cloudkill probably doesn't only affect clouds, and will probably also kill you.

Which was enough to satisfy their curiosity and from there on the party was moving once more. This time they managed to walk into a portal that brought them to a large room. On the far side, a door. In front of the door, a large entity. Seemingly made out of metal with clearly identifiable clues to it being a construct of some kind, the large imposing figure spoke out at the party, requesting they leave this place immediately.

The party pleaded with the being, declaring their pursuit of knowledge that brought them to this far-off place which they still never explained in any detail whatsoever how they even heard about in the first place. But the construct would not budge. Bridges, being... elated, that he had finally encountered a creature that had no desire to violence, at least not displaying intense outward aggression, but was instead able to intelligently communicate, decided to personalize with the creature. He asked what it's name was, and it replied Cynvard.

Bridges, being a good boy who was brought in to complete the job, had no intention of just walking away without making any reasonable attempt, so he pleaded with Cynvard. His long, passionate conversation, waxing and waning poetically about life, love, the American way, and all that jazz. Bringing up the fact that the construct's creator is probably long dead, that knowledge will pave the way to the future.

Cynvard was adamant, however. He had a job to do, had done it well for a long, long time, and cannot let anyone unearth the great danger that lay behind the door. Kyri, the druid, proposed the idea of maybe we should just leave? After all, he's not exactly a danger to anyone, and we straight stepped with pep to the back of his house... in a manner of speaking. But Finwin Dimgar and the others would not be satisfied by walking away. In their opinion, it needn't matter how dark or evil something may be, as long as we're able to get our mits on it. The creature had, for the last time, told us to leave. Which prompted members of the party to lash out and attack. And so, we roll initiative.

The battle was off to a roaring start, with bears slashing, swords swinging, spells continually missing because of non-optimal luck. But in the midst of it all stood Bridges Rhinestone Jr, pleading with the entity to put down its sword, and to stop fighting. He was asked to make a Persuasion check at disadvantage, and still was able to roll a decently high number. The creature, as confused as it possibly could for being a constructed being of metal and iron, was affected by the pleading, but before anything meaningful could happen the creature was pelted with magic missile. Cynvard wasn't so much struggling internally as it was an external situation what with the assault and all.

But it was down to Bridges, and he tried again. Another Persuasion, also at disadvantage, and the result was higher than even before. But again he was pelted with attacks by just about everyone, except this time Kyri stopped attacking, instead opting for a more defensive strategy. Unsurprising to Bridges, Cynvard stopped attacking Kyri as well. When people started dropping to the construct's attacks and going unconscious. Cynvard was in the perfect position to kill the unconscious adventurers, as defenseless as an unconscious being can be, laying there before him. And Bridges gave it another go, trying to persuade him to stop this. And again, immediately assaulted by the others.

It seemed they, in whatever bloodlust they experienced, were unable to see with their own eyes that those who stopped attacking Cynvard would, in turn, no longer be attacked. But no, the "quest for knowledge" must have included fineprint that also included the "destruction and annihilation of every living creature who stands in your way, if they want to fight or not". Bridges signed up for the job but definitely didn't get to see the fineprint. And despite being called out for "refusing to help" his party, was able to accurately defuse the situation except for those who refused to stop attacking. And he wondered, in his silent mind, is this what we're here for? Is this what we do? In the last dungeon there was a giant snake bitch and she made it pretty clear if we didn't get out she'd eat our souls or some shit, so there was a clear threat of violence by someone clearly, clearly evil.

Yet Cynvard was just doing his job. He was created, as we all are, in one way or another, to protect this door, to keep hidden whatever knowledge lay inside. He wasn't violent, outwardly evil. His head didn't spin around, he didn't vomit blood at people. In fact, he was even able to be persuaded to stop. Yet, this monster, this creature made of magic and metal, a creature that some might find unfeeling, or even as not being a living creature in the same vein as the rest of us, was able to be convinced to stop, against all of his programming and lifelong duties to doing one. sole. objective. Instead, it was people, living, breathing, contributing members of society. In this instance it was they who were the monsters. He was alive. He had a job. He had a name. But that wasn't good enough. And so Cynvard fell.

Short of turning on his party, Bridges could not let them see the reason right before their very eyes, and take a fucking second to think before they acted. Somehow, in all of his failures leading up to this, Bridges was able to convince a being he's never seen before to do something against his own intrinsic design. Yet the ones he couldn't convince were the people he spent, so far, 13 days with. And would go on to spend another 13 days with on the way back.

After the battle was over, Bridges took the helmet of Cynvard, hoping to cast mending to fix any damage done in the battle once they were clear of the dungeon, and to keep it was a reminder that not everything has to be a fight to the death, or even a battle at all, and that he existed. So the party moved on to the door, opening it and examine the loot within. Inside was a hoard of gold with an assortment of magical items strewn about the skeletons of what appeared to be wizards of some type. And nearby was a pedestal with a black box on top of it.

Finwin cast detect magic to find these items, and upon analyzing the black box felt something very, very intensely powerful, and evil, coming from within. And so doing what adventurers do, they looted the place clean. Upon moving up to the box, Bridges had the idea to at least identify it on the off-chance that, hey, maybe there is bad stuff in here. But he wasn't going to do it unless someone could prove he wouldn't immediately die upon touch. So Finwin volunteered, and upon touching the box, an intense deep dread filled the room, with a powerful being apparating inside of the room, emanating from the box.

At the time they didn't know what it was, but it was very powerful and carried the most intense fear we've probably ever felt. Bridges immediately bolted, not needing to see what this was to know it was bad news. He was by the portal before the creature had fully formed itself from the box, which caused just about everyone else to follow behind. Turns out the quest for great knowledge ends somewhere between killing the individual responsible for keeping the great evil locked away and fighting the great evil.

So they all ran, bouncing in and out of portals, sometimes just making it into one as the creature follows very closely behind. It didn't take them long to find their way out of the maze of portals, and even less time to leave the dungeon. By the time they sprinted to the ship, they could look back and see this creature still following them. They got on and simultaneously screamed at the pilot to get the fuck out of here, to which she was thoroughly unimpressed by but did so anyway.

As we pulled away, one of the party decided to hop on one of the ballista installed on the back of the ship and shoot at the immensely evil creature, which was absolutely going to hit but Bridges used his Cutting Words to yell at the person, causing it to miss, potentially saving everyone's lives.

Along the 13 day return trip back to *insert wherever the hell they went here* one of the characters, a very studious wizard told tales of creatures like this, wearing thick plate armor with eyes so evil they can shine through with a bright red color. He speculates that they were called "Death Knights", and that not even all of the adventurers on this land could defeat it if they tried.

They aren't sure if it really was one of these Death Knights, but with the intensely powerful aura surrounding it, it was definitely something powerful. Bridges hasn't gone on many missions to "uncover great knowledge", but he's pretty sure if this is what it's like, he's not going to do it again.

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

    Post Your Comments


Post a Comment