Session 2: The Owl Flies at Midnight

Day 1-7; Early Summer; June 10, 2023

After departing Zitona's hideout, the crew is ready to bring the book back to Per Anco. On the way back, however, they all (except for Marto) decide to stop in the tools and weapons section in search of a little something extra for their trouble. Johnny and Oliver can't find much of interest (though Oliver does spot a very shiny golden chef's knife). Ren, on the other hand, finds an extremely valuable bag of holding at another stand. Oliver manages to steal the chef's knife with a distraction from Johnny. Ren at first tries to convince the shopkeeper that she should be able to get the bag on credit, eventually pulls the old switcheroo and swaps Zitona's bag for the bag of holding, which contains three wooden chests that were placed inside to show its capabilities.

Before heading back to Per, they decide to try to get Per Anco to give them more -- one item each, perhaps, in addition to a ship. Once they get to Per, they confront him first with his own lies: that he told them they were the only ones he was hiring. They tell him that Maragaret is in jail, Per is nonplussed; he seems to consider it perfectly natural to be a little shady when dealing with other shady people. Unfortunately, Marto fails to convince him to give them more than the one item; Per says that he has to cash in a favor for this, so it's not a matter of money.

At the docks, the shipwrights show some of their wares. A huge, beautiful ivory ship stands above the rest as the most valuable item, but a smaller, more maneuverable ship advertised as "the world's first self-propelling ship" catches Johnny's eye, especially since they may need to make a quick getaway if any of their marks catch wise. The little boat seats six, but doesn't have cannons or any other arms. It does have a crows nest, but no sails, and seems perfect, especially since it's quite fast. After taking the ship for a test drive and ensuring that it isn't exploiting some poor animal beneath its decks, they spot some strange figures starting moving towards the dock towards them. The figures appear to be empty robes and hats, which Johnny recognizes as being similar to the styles of the Royal Court of Natalia. Per demands that they leave immediately, and everyone jumps on the ship and speeds off, escaping the mysterious floating robes.

Once they get to safety and drop off Per with the fake book at a nearby island, the crew rests for a bit. It will take them about 6 days to get to the Isle of Grownde. Ren takes out the chests from her bag of holding and checks them out. Two of them are just finely-made, but ordinary, wooden chests. The third, however, has a magical, sentient lock which asks her name and if she wants to register a password. Only someone who whispers "the owl flies at midnight" can gain access to the chest. The chest is happy to have someone to talk to, and is overjoyed when she gives them a name - Laverne. Meanwhile, Oliver meditates at the prow of the ship, and Johnny successfully navigates the ship past a deadly storm and, six days later, they approach the Isle of Grownde.

A symbol consisting of two inscribed pentagons with a triangle in the center

Someone has erected a net around the entire island, rendering it inaccessible. A thick metal gate would grant access, except it is closed, and guarded by a looming colossus: a wooden structure in the shape of a tremendous water beetle, at least 60 ft. high. Ren flies ahead and checks out the colossus, gaining access through a hole in the top. Inside, there are several smaller buildings. She opens the door to the building near the front of the colossus, towards the head, and sees a podium with eight levers on it, but it is guarded by five giant crabs, with one of the Termite Folk clan symbols on it. The crabs attack, and Ren is quickly brought down. Luckily, Marto sends Frito to check things out, and he relays the message that Ren has fallen, so the rest of the crew rushes in to help. As they arrive, Ren regains consciousness in a sudden burst of energy, and begins slaying the crabs quickly and efficiently. Marto is thrown overboard by one of the crabs, but ultimately, they are victorious over the crabs.

Marto figures out that the levers control the legs of the colossus, but can't get it to walk or move beyond its current position straddling the gate. As they explore the rest of the colossus, they find more pieces of the puzzle: a spyglass aimed at a rock that shows the water level in a foreign numeral system, an office showing several potion recipes, an armory of mostly wooden weapons, a room containing a large metal tub, a couple levers, and a dial. The dial is found to control a fountain on one of the legs below, and the markings on one of the levers correspond to the water levels on the rock, but the lever itself doesn't seem to do anything. They also find a boat, which contains some rotten food rations, a lightning blade and a letter with the following instructions:

Barnabas -- Condemn the project. They've moved to the island, invalidating the experiment.

The final room in the colossus is in the back, where Frito has listened, but hasn't heard anything. Oliver steps in, and sees three winged kobolds attempting to hide behind wooden basins. He calls out to them, and they move to attack, attempting to drop rocks on Oliver and stab people with daggers. Ren and Marto (who shares a language with them) manage to calm them down a bit, and they explain that "mortals" are forbidden to be here. The kobolds are tasked with dismantling the colossus, but this will take them some time. In the meantime, they're looting and taking care of intruders. They're convinced that the crew isn't worth messing with, but they don't know how to speed things up: the net and gate are made of metal. The crew comes up with an alternate plan: they can fill Ren's bag of holding with water and just fill the counterweight directly. They turn the final lever (which Ren loosens with the lightning blade and Johnny pulls to break the strange corrosion on it), and the gate opens.

The sound of the opening gate, unfortunately, attracts another critter. The true giant water strider, perhaps the model for the colossus, rises up from the depths, and attacks the leg that the crew is climbing down. Everyone except Ren falls into the ocean and begins rushing to the boat. Ren gets there first, but waits for Johnny to climb aboard and start piloting. Marto falls behind a bit as he tries to cast a spell to distract the water strider. The distraction doesn't work, and it slams a leg down on him, knocking him unconscious, though the boat speeds by and Ren grabs him. Johnny tries to escape the beast, but its long legs and confident strides over the water make this difficult, and it keeps catching up again, and slapping the boat. The boat takes significant damage and is tossed to and fro, though Johnny's skilled piloting generally keeps it going in the right direction. Marto's spells and Ren's crossbow attacks also work to damage its weak chitin, and it begins to falter. Johnny realizes that escape may be futile, and jumps onto its leg to fight it in hand-to-hand combat, distracting it for Ren. Oliver finally hits it with a fire blast, which seems very effective, and Ren slays it with a sneak attack in its compound eye. The boat speeds off again and scuttles onto the beach, nearly destroyed, but still usable, and they begin setting up for a much-earned rest.