"Vesuvias Blackmantle!" is the fourty-sixth episode of the Lightfall campaign for High Rollers D&D. It was broadcast live on the Yogscast Twitch channel on May 7, 2017. With Matthew Toffolo absent for this episode, Tom Hazell joins as a special guest.
In this episode, as our heroes explore the mines, they bump into Vesuvias, who is said to be a powerful magician in-charge of the mines. However, he turns out to be someone quite different from what they had expected.
After defeating two groups of Broken Sky agents, the group consisting of the adventurers (Cam, Elora and Jiǔtóu), Cassandra, Knick-Knack and Reynard decide not to rest. Instead, they want to eliminate as much agents as possible and free the dwarven citizens of Velderbann.
Cam, disguising as a Broken Sky agent, crosses the bridge to get to the other side of the ravine to scout ahead. He does not find any more dwarves but bumps into two separate pairs of agents. Although initially avoiding any confrontation with the two pairs, one of them eventually finds Cam's action suspicious. As such, the pair decide to accompany Cam to observe whatever he is doing. Unknown to them, Cam is crossing the bridge to head back to the group.
Battle across the RavineEdit
As Cam and the two agents walk along the bridge, right at the halfway point, the agents spot the group and yell out "intruders".
First Round of Combat
Cam rushes over to the other side and manage to weaken the bridge with help from Cassandra, Elora and Reynard. This causes the bridge to tilt to one side dangerously, enough for the two agents to fall into the deep ravine.
Out of the blue, two crossbow bolts sail through the air and impact Cassandra's armour. The group then spot another pair of agents at the other side of the ravine behind a chest-high wall. Jiǔtóu uses Water Whip to grab one of them and throw him down the ravine. Knick-Knack, feeling inspired by Jiǔtóu's heroism, then hurls his only spear across the ravine in attempt to kill the other. However, due to the wide gap, his spear arcs and dives into the ravine. Knick-Knack's expression turns into sadness. It is severe enough that several of his companions hold him back for fears of him contemplating any suicidal acts.
Second Round of Combat
Reynard encourages Knick-Knack by giving one of his crossbow bolt to him. He then activates his magical scimitar and commands it to attack the agent, resulting in it impaling the agent's leg. The others try to attack but the ravine's gap is proving to be difficult to attack the agent. This is when Jiǔtóu casts Fly on herself via the doss lute, carries Knick-Knack and flies across the ravine. While in the air, she releases Knick-Knack at the perfect timing, allowing the kobold dragonshield to smash at the agent. He then uses his shield and slams him enough force to throw him off the ravine, just as Jiǔtóu lands on the other side. Impressed with both himself and the actions of the tiefling, Knick-Knack then name his shield to be the "Shield of the Demon", carving a crude image of Jiǔtóu on it with a rock.
End of Combat
With the bridge deemed too dangerous to use normally after Cam nearly fell to his death while attempting to cross back to the other side, this leaves the group with the last bridge not too far from where they are. Cam uses his Cloak of Raven to transform into a raven in order to safety get to the other side. However, to get there, the group on both sides of the ravine will need to walk through a few caverns. Eventually deciding to perform a pincer attack should there be more agents, the group move forward to meet together on the side Cam, Jiǔtóu and Knick-Knack are at.
Walking pass a cavern each, the two group meet back together at a tunnel junction after Cassandra, Elora and Reynard cross the last bridge, which is only wide enough to allow one person to cross, to the other side. Along the way, they did not find anyone. Neither Broken Sky agents nor dwarves. The only place left unexplored is whatever behind the set of double doors the group can now see and knowing that they have yet to find Vesuvias, who is a powerful magician according to accounts by the other agents and dwarves.
Just then, the group hear a person giving command to someone behind the doors. Thinking that the doors may lead to Vesuvias, the group discuss a plan on how to communicate with him. As Cam is still donning a Broken Sky agent disguise, it is decided that he shall be the one to do so. Just then, the person on the other side of the door claims to hear something, so it will open the door to check. The others quickly hide as the door swings open.
Cam is the only person able to observe what is happening as the door swings open to reveal darkness that engulfed the room. Then, a pair of glowing red eyes appear as it demands Cam on why he had disturbed him. In attempting to lure Vesuvias out, Cam insults him and plans to run away. But just as he turns around, Vesuvias strikes him down with a very powerful blast of thunder, blowing Cam back by 10 feet. Vesuvias demands Cam to apologise or be killed, preparing a ball of fire directed at Cam. Instead, Cam runs away. Yet, Vesuvias did not give chase but closes the door.
The group reconvene and adjust the plan of luring Vesuvias out by having Reynard to disguise as a Broken Sky agent instead. Just then, they hear a door open and later footsteps coming towards their direction, so they quickly hide again. Coming into their view, a female half-orc, wearing only her underclothes, walks into the cavern the group is hiding in. They recognise her as the captain of the captured Talis'Val 5th Regiment. Around her neck is a collar but unlike the type on the dwarves, this collar is made of obsidian.
The half-orc looks around. Although it is obvious that she spots the group, she seems to only focus on Cam, asking him to gather all agents by Vesuvias' room as he have a task to locate and punish the troublemaker, referring to Cam's earlier action. The half-orc then turns around and walks back to Vesuvias' room. Cam tries to command her using the rune stone but it does not work, eventually guessing that her collar will not react to his.
Nonetheless, the group will go ahead with their plan. Reynard now wears the Broken Sky agent disguise and knocks on Vesuvias' door. Meanwhile, the rest strategically hide, with Jiǔtóu casting Invisibility on herself via her doss lute. The doors open and, like what Cam saw, Reynard sees a dark room with a pair of glowing red eyes looking at him. Different to how Cam addressed Vesuvias earlier, Reynard addresses him with respect. In attempt to lure him out, Reynard claims that several agents have broken off to form their own faction and are planning to sabotage the mining operations. Unhappy with the situation, Vesuvias agrees to step into the matter, so he requests Reynard to lead him to the place. The half-orc then follows Vesuvias.
The trio walk pass a junction then a cavern, unaware of anyone. Jiǔtóu takes this chance to sneak into Vesuvias' pouch, which she expertly puts her hand inside it and manages to grab something out. However, she is unsure of that she got since any object she touches also turns invisible. She then tries to speak a command through it but it does nothing to the half-orc. She later gives it to Cam, which then allows them to see that it is a sceptre with a red gemstone at the top, an object Knick-Knack needs in order to reconcile with his tribe. Eventually, it is discovered that the sceptre is a Wand of Detection after Elora takes it to examine it.
The trio turn a corner and just as they are about to reach the broken bridge, a loud clanging sound is heard behind them. Before Vesuvias can turn around to look, Reynard is quick to distract him by pointing out the broken bridge. However, with another clanging sound, Vesuvias turns around and spots Cam, whom he recognise as the troublemaker. Vesuvias orders Reynard to attack him and he complies. However, Reynard intentionally smashes Vesuvias' head against a wall, resulting in the half-orc to attack him as part of the command Vesuvias gave her earlier.
First Round of Combat
As this is happening, Elora runs to the double doors and open it. However, there is no dark swirling mass. She just sees a simple office with a desk and a bed at one corner. At another corner is a knapsack, which she found clothes after rummaging through it.
Reynard tries to jump off Vesuvias in order to have a push as he attempt to escape. However, his attempt fails and resulted in him being restrained by the half-orc's magical ice whip. Saying the command word out loud, Reynard's magical scimitar activates, so he commands it to cut off Vesuvias' arm. It is at this moment that Vesuvias begs for mercy as he surrender. His visage is then gone to reveal a pathetic human, who asks the half-orc to bandage his injury, as well as commanding her to attack should anyone chooses to attack him. No one chooses to do so, though Cassandra had to yank Knick-Knack back just as he was about to attack Vesuvias.
End of Combat
Revealing his real name Nigel Buckthorn, Vesuvias informs everyone that of his backstory. He works as a magician street performer when, out of the blue one day, the Broken Sky occupied his town. Vesuvias claims that he take up their job offer on the promise that the Broken Sky will not harm his family. Vesuvias then exaggerates his magical abilities to impress the Broken Sky, which is why he is assigned to manage the Broken Sky agents in the mines. Because of his visage, Vesuvias is also entrusted by the fire giants, Gregor and Tanya, by branding a tattoo on his arm, which allows him to control the half-orc without the rune stone. Regarding on why the half-orc is wearing only her underclothes, Vesuvias embarrassingly confesses that he had no female companions in the past, so he took the advantage to make her his. Elora, after receiving permission from Vesuvias, then hands the half-orc the clothes she found earlier for her to wear. Also, it is later revealed that the collar on the half-orc's neck can only be safely removed by the fire giants.
While deliberating their next step, the group agree to allow Vesuvias to lead them out of the mines via secret passageways. Along the way, they had to sneakily pass through a dig site, a place within the mines where Tanya is searching for a magical artefact, which Vesuvias assures them that it would not be a problem with his magic.
Before they head to the dig site, Elora gives the sceptre to Knick-Knack but not before promising Cam and the rest that he will have his tribe to help the dwarves out. Knick-Knack then departs from the group to head back to his tribe. However, this leaves Vesuvias a little bit sad as his sceptre is used to detect the secret passageways.
The group head over to the remaining bridge left that crosses over the ravine. It is narrow that only one person can walk through it without affecting the structural integrity of the bridge. As such, Vesuvias crosses the bridge first since he have to lead the way. Unbeknown to him, the still invisible Jiǔtóu follows right behind him. Once the two have reached the other side, Vesuvias then commands the half-orc to cross over next. However, just as the half-orc is at the other side, everyone witness Vesuvias vanishing from sight.
First Round of Combat
Jiǔtóu tries to figure out where Vesuvias had gone but is unable to, only seeing the half-orc standing still as if she is awaiting command. Jiǔtóu then backs up to a wall to keep an eye for any movements.
Reynard is the next person after the half-orc to cross over the bridge but sees no one except the half-orc. He then hears someone saying "kill them", followed by his vision blurring by some inky black substance. Reynard manages to brush it off but then takings a beating from the fire chain that the half-orc conjured and lashed at him.
As this is happening, Cam is about to step onto the bridge when he sees a gemstone sailing through the air. It bounces off the rock face and lands on the bridge. Almost instantaneously, the gemstone morphs into an earth elemental. Cam reacts quickly by leaping off the bridge backwards as the bridge, unable to support the heavy weight of the elemental, gives way and falls into the ravine, dragging the elemental with it.
Elora casts Fairie Fire, focusing on the area at the other side of the ravine. Light then outlines Jiǔtóu and Reynard, revealing their position. The half-orc is also affected by the spell. Cam then morphs into a raven by using his Cloak and flies over to the other side, dismissing the morphing after landing behind Vesuvias. He later attempts to cast Spirit Guardians but Vesuvias dispels it, so Cam instead casts Spiritual Weapon and attacks Vesuvias with it.
Second Round of Combat
Jiǔtóu casts Levitate on Cassandra via her doss lute, which cancels her Invisibility. Cassandra makes use of this to float to the other side. At the same time, Reynard manages to get two hits on Vesuvias, effectively killing him. However, the collar around the half-orc's neck starts to vibrate and becomes more violent every passing second. Cassandra quickly rushes over to the half-orc and wraps her arms around the collar, while casting healing magic. The collar explodes! Though it leaves a nasty scar around the half-orc's neck, she is fortunate to not get blasted into pieces, since Cassandra's healing power absorbs most of the impact. Cam and Elora then heal Cassandra and the rest.
End of Combat
The moment the collar exploded, the half-orc regains control on herself and immediately demands where Vesuvias is. The group then assure her that he is dead. This is when the half-orc introduces herself as Grunka Spiritfang after recognising Cassandra and the adventurers, leaving only Reynard to introduce himself. Grunka also remembers that her soldiers are taken to the dig site. Meanwhile, Jiǔtóu rummages Vesuvias' body to find two healing potions, a scroll and three rubies worth 300 gold pieces each.
At this time, Jiǔtóu have called off the Levitation spell on Cassandra, forgetting that Elora is the only person left behind. Nonetheless, she uses this opportunity to investigate Vesuvias' room further, especially the journals on his table. From the journals, Vesuvias' past is largely true, only that the magical power Vesuvias obtained made him to turn dark. Also, Vesuvias initially wanted to join the Dawn Republic but the Broken Sky offered him a job first. Regarding Velderbann, the journal reveals the organisation's plan to simply rape the town off their resources such as food and ores for Princess Fellania. However, the group's recent activity within the town forced the Broken Sky to gather as much resources as they can before evacuating the town in three days’ time. It is now the second day.
At some point, everyone repair the wider bridge and cross back to rest inside Vesuvias' room.
- Cassandra Wyndale
- Grunka Spiritfang[spelling?]
- Reynard Ferehorn
- Vesuvias Blackmantle, real name Nigel Buckthorn
- Yik-Nik Tribe[spelling?]
- Broken Sky agents
- Hill dwarves