Wir, Nymm 11, 993 YK
233 days until the Day of Mourning
Arriving in Graywall, the party split up to gather resources and prepare. Gin took the water skin to the hag shopkeeper Jabra, who conducted a ritual that provided a vision of the assassin. Clearly male and humanoid, the individual was shown to have the ability to transport himself with some manner of teleportation magic. Volik found his way to a reclusive monastery of the Flayed Hand, an order devoted to the worship and ideals of The Mockery, one of the Dark Six devoted to vengeance and pain. Proving himself worthy for training, Volik promised to return once the party completed their task in the Forest of Flesh.
The rest of the party gathered supplies and spoke with a bartender at the Broken Sword, who informed them that a handful of expatriates had headed into the Forest of Flesh within the past few weeks, but hadn’t been seen since. They were associated with the Swords of Liberty, a terrorist group that Gin and Rohagar had helped track recently. As a last stop, the party checked in with House Tharashk, letting Rohagar’s uncle know that she was missing in the Forest of Flesh and that they were heading in to find her and Orschok. A House Orien caravan was hired to pick the party up in a week’s time. The House also provided the group with a partially-complete map of the Forest, with notes written by both House Tharashk and the Gnoll Brotherhood. Curiously, the gnolls seemed intent on warning the reader about the tryll, a breed of rodent with a remarkably high reproduction rate.
Once the party felt they were ready, they prepared to use the Staff of the Woodlands to travel along a ley line into the Forest of Flesh. As they began, they felt something grip their minds and hold them in place. Within moments, a contingent of Flayer Guard entered the area, escorting Xor’chylic to the party. He indicated that he had vital information for the party before they headed into the forest. Bringing them back to his fortress in the center of the city, he explained some of his past to them. The illithid governor once lived in Blackroot, the daelkyr structure within the Forest of Flesh. He was one of many mind flayers in the colony, but managed to free himself and his kin, Thoon, from the tyrannical control of the Elder Brain. Xor’chylic knows of Dyrrn and the Gentlemen, though he knows them better by their daelkyr titles: the Voidbound Deceiver, the Harbinger of Xoriat, and the Corrupted Scion.
He was willing to provide the party with more information, but required that they kill the Elder Brain before he does so. He required this not as payment for information, since he wanted the daelkyr defeated, but because he does not wish to give the Elder Brain any more information in the event the party is captured and their minds consumed by the Elder Brain. To further facilitate this, he gave the party a selection of items to aid in their journey, and then removes their memories of the conversation, distilling the memories into a liquid that can be consumed to regain the memories. Additionally, the party left Ekhaas behind with the Ashen Crown piece to keep it safe. They left a note for themselves to consume the liquid once they arrive at Blackroot, regaining their memories without allowing the Elder Brain too much time to prepare a strategy.
When they teleported along the ley line, they found that it crumbled and dissipated partway into the Forest of Flesh, unable to hold its energy in the unnatural aura created by the forest. The party was forced to trek through the flora until they arrived at the tower, all while the Elder Brain attempted to connect to their minds.
Once at the tower, they regained their memories and entered. Inside was a circular room with an extraplanar obelisk situated in the center. Upon touching it, both Ixen and Gin began to seize and have otherworldly visions, including an emerald light pulsing far out in the midst of a stormy sea. They soon realized that the obelisk existed in non-Euclidean space. They discovered additional rooms branching out from the central chamber as they made rotations around the obelisk. Choosing one, the party battled its way through a hallway filled with a tar-like substance and a column composed of eyes and teeth that ejected blinding spittle. Through this all, they were contacted by Rohagar, through the spirit of Freki. She warned them not to come after her, that the Elder Brains wants people to come to Blackroot. Orschok spoke to Ixen through the Elder Brain’s connection, telling him that the party can’t let the brain consume their minds.
After passing to the next room, they discovered a man being held captive by four dolgrims. They freed the man before he could be placed within a fleshy pod. Siegfried recognized the man as Adric, the Karrnathi soldier he had encountered in the Broken Sword before heading to the Great Crag. He explained that he had been a member of the party that had entered the Forest of Flesh recently. They were hired by a man they knew only as The Benefactor to retrieve an item from the tower: the Husk of Infinite Worlds. Each member was promised a new life away from the nation they came from. Adric said his party was killed and he fled, running into Rohagar and her party, who were also captured shortly thereafter. He doesn’t know what happened to them after they found their way to the Husk.
Bringing Adric along, the party investigated the pods, finding half-transformed experiments in some, including the black worms that convert creatures into undead. Further in, they found a room positioned above the initial obelisk room, but left it untouched. In another area, they located a library of sorts, containing four brains, floating in fluid, and a plethora of scrolls, liquids, and other items. They spoke with the brains, gather general information, before the Elder Brain contacted them through the brains. Siegfried, having had enough of subtlety, dropped a brain-eating slug in each tank, killing the brains.
Taking some items from the shelves, including a book familiar to Ixen from Xur’s library, they found a communication hub that connected to four Daelkyr: Belashyrra, Lord of Eyes, Orlassk, the Stoneheart, Kyrzin, the Formless Prince, and Skerra of a Thousand Cuts. Kyrzin “requested” that the party bring Rohagar to a set of ruins within the Shadow Marches. Orlassk was shown to reside somewhere in Cazhaak Draal, the same city housing the Ossuary and, presumably, the Shield of Galifar with which Sora Teraza told the party lies the key to Jhegesh Dol.
Skirting the whispering flowers, that they found were able to communicate with each other and can pass visual and auditory information, the party worked their way into a laboratory containing more flesh pods. Inside of one, they see Cern, the first mate of Hakou. After rescuing him, he informed them that he ventured into the Forest of Flesh in search of mind flayers to hunt, after the party never showed in Vralkek. While he was wary of continuing, he agrees to help the party. Shortly thereafter, they found a room housing a number of daelkyr symbionts and they proceeded to try to attach the creatures to themselves. In the process, Adric is revealed to be an intellect devourer in disguise. The creature had consumed his brain and it continued to masquerade as Adric, leading the party to the Elder Brain.
After Gin and Volik attempted to bond with the symbionts, the party proceeded to the Elder Brain’s lair where it awaited them. It spoke to them, offering them free passage out, claiming that all it wanted at this point was to survive. Though they attempted to goad it into attack, it appeared immobile and unable to come to them. After descending into its chamber, the Elder Brain showed its true might, having been feigning its weaknesses to some extent. The party fought the Brain, accosted by multiple massive tentacles and continuously assaulted by mental attacks. The Elder Brain had left the sentient symbionts within easy reach of the party, using them in combat as willing hubs for its psychic attacks. Despite a valiant effort, the party was unable to best the Elder Brain. Unconscious in its lair, the party was dragged into the synaptic fluid the Elder Brain floated in and their minds were connected to the Elder Brain.
It constructed an elaborate simulated reality that the party’s minds were connected to. It blocked their memories from them and manufactured new identities for them within the new world. Over time, with the aid of Xorchylic (though they didn’t know that at the time), they came to discover their true identities and recover their memories. While within the simulated reality, they learned that the Elder Brain was studying different faiths and was communicating with some other entity. Upon breaking out of the simulation, the party managed to disconnect themselves and kill the Elder Brain. They investigated the other bodies connected to the Elder Brain and found a few other individuals alive: Jharl, the gnoll that accompanied Rohagar and Orschok into the forest, as well as the remainder of Adric’s party (Estril, Sel, and Brick), and also the elven assassin that had been tracking the party. Unfortunately, Orschok was already dead. They managed to disconnect most of the comatose survivors without trouble, but lost Estril. Healing magic was unable to revive the others, so they were left in Cern’s care while the party continued their search for Rohagar.
Having killed the primary controller of the aberrations in Blackroot, they found the complex to be somewhat docile, encountering little to no resistance anymore. Using the communication flowers, they discovered a room that appeared to be shaded in the same red hue as Freki had been appearing. Traveling to this room, they found Rohagar frozen in time as she stood close to a malfunctioning Husk of Infinite Worlds. The Husk was open and, at the time, contained a naked singularity that was warping light and time. Realizing that the room as a whole was suffering from this time dilation, they exited in hopes of finding a way to shut the Husk off and free Rohagar.
After consuming a number of liquid memories from the “library”, Josephine learned that the Husk of Infinite Worlds is used to mutate creatures by swapping in aspects from alternate realities. She also learned that the Husk is powered by four, immense, sentient star-like entities. Additionally, Ixen recovered a Daelkyr book that once belonged to the kobold charlatan Xur, which appeared to be Ilthane’s personal notes on how to turn Dyrrn the Corruptor into a vestige in order to circumvent the Gatekeeper Seals that keep him bound within Khyber. The party also recovered a divination beacon that Adric’s party had carried into Blackroot.
After some searching, the party found the stars located within an artificially-created and controlled manifest zone to Xoriat, the Plane of Madness. It took some effort and persuasion, but they managed to shut off the Husk and retrieve Rohagar. From her perspective, her entire journey through the Forest of Flesh had taken less than two days, though she had been missing for weeks. As they left Blackroot, Ilthane took control of the communication room, sending them a message, indicating he was coming for vengeance. Before departing, the party disconnected and removed the Husk of Infinite Worlds to keep it out of the hands of the Daelkyr. The party rested in Rohagar’s old campsite on the way out, then exited the Forest of Flesh… over a month after they entered.