The party headed upriver the next morning, as soon as possible which was shortly before noon, since they needed to get a boat from the mayor (their pontooned wagon probably wouldn't cut it). When asked if they needed any other supplies, Ash asked for 'their strongest goat' and from the resulting selection picked a black goat named Caroline. Ash immediately renamed her Baalzebub.
On their way upriver, they stopped at the fort and filled in the remaining rangers -- Shalalu was still out hunting, so it was only the two of them and Elyssie, who decided to come with them to chat with the trolls. Kaven wanted to come too, but they didn't want to leave the fort entirely unmanned.
Eventually, they came to the dam -- made out of stone embedded with thousands of human skulls, with five large carved skulls acting as floodgates. It was in bad shape -- chunks were taken out including one large section that had overflowed -- but the real problem was that the water was still very high behind the dam and the floodgates hadn't opened like they were supposed to to let some of it drain.
There was a staircase up one side of the dam, and the party decided to use it. Altei and Kaito scouted ahead when it came to a cave, and told the others about an ettin vigilantly standing guard, the heads arguing with each other.
Noggin crept closer until he could overhear was it was saying -- the ettin was ashamed that it had taken a bribe to let the ogres past, and was worried what the leader of the Skulltaker trolls would do to him when he found out, especially if he found out about 'the phylactory'. So Noggin (the floating bejeweled skull) flew in and claimed to be an agent of the trolls.
Noggin: "We know all about your transgressions! Give us the phylactory and you might just be forgiven!"
The ettin was fooled, and rooted through its treasure pile to hand over the phylactory -- not a lich's soul container like they expected, but a magical amulet-type-thing that priests could wear to enhance their positive channeling. Pity the party had no priests!
So... how would the party get past?
Nogging: "The leader is pleased! Let no one past, except for the party accompanying the witch we summoned to fix the dam. The password is 'trollsbeatogres'."
So, Phoof played the part of a witch with her hat of disguise, carrying Noggin's unconscious valet as a sacrifice. Kaito was her fox familiar. Ash wore the medusa mask and tried to look extra evil while leading the black goat as an additional sacrifice, and Elyssie was muscle. Altei just snuck past, unseen.
The ettin was fooled, and let them past. Altei and Kaito made sure to stealthily rob its treasure pile of anything that looked especially valuable or magical before leaving the cave.
At the top of the dam, they saw lots of dead ogres, along with six very tired ogres lying around and groaning. Noggin approached the largest one and parleyed with him, offering him ownership of the dam since they'd killed all the trolls. The ogre was confused -- they'd done their best to destroy the dam, but the giant sea monster the party had fought in Turtleback Ferry had come and killed most of them. Also, he wasn't the leader -- she was inside the dam somewhere dealing with the rest of the trolls.
At any rate, the ogres let them past. Kaito was getting antsy about leaving the ogres unmolested, and turned to the first pair they passed.
Kaito: "Jump off the dam."
Kaito: "What are you, a coward? Jump off the dam."
Kaito: "Oh come on, everyone knows real warriors go cliff diving. Aren't you a big strong warrior? Jump off the dam."
Ogre: "Um... you first?"
Kaito shrugged, and leapt off the dam. He was wearing the Boots of the Cat... which didn't help as much as he hoped since the dam was sloped and he bounced a few times, but they helped some and he was acrobatic enough to mitigate it.
When the ogre didn't jump after him, the rest of the party started chanting, "Jump! Jump! Jump!" and one of the other ogres got into it, and pushed him off the edge.
...it didn't go as well for him.
The Elyssie jumped off too, since she thought it looked fun. She realized halfway down that she was about to die horribly, and went ethereal, floating back up safely. It turned out that the door to the dam's control center was barred from the inside, so she floated through the door as well and unbarred it to let people in.
At any rate, there were no signs of living ogres inside the control center. There were lots of dead ogres, but none looked like the boss. There were also living trolls, who weren't as interested in talking as the ogres had been and attacked immediately. Ash used her Magus Arcana to ignite her sword, and Elyssie had learned Elemental Fist and ignited her fists. Kaito (who'd snuck back up past the ettin and rejoined them)... had some lamp oil, which he poured on the 'dead' trolls so they wouldn't get back up.
But one of the trolls got away, bashing open the doors the party had been avoiding labelled 'Wet Papa' and running down a very long flight of stairs. Elyssie caught up to him before he got to the bottom, and beat him into unconsciousness before he could open the doors at the bottom. Kaito lit that troll on fire too, and then they opened the doors.
Beyond was a room with a pile of skulls at the far end, and a murky pool full of glowing algae in the middle. As Ash and Elyssie advanced to the pool, a giant head emerged from it.
Wet Papa: "Where is my tribute?"
Ash searched through her bags and found the head of a necromancer she'd been carrying around for some reason, and tossed it to the creature -- who slobbered on it a bit, and then threw it onto his pile. Satisfied, he sank back into the pool.
Kaito was the first to start exploring the side rooms -- while the others mostly examined the skulls, except for Ash who stood by the pool chanting 'Wet Papa Wet Papa' over and over as if she'd found her new religion. Through the doors to the left, he found a scale model of the dam, and a gigantic scorpion golem made of metal and skulls that immediately attacked him.
His admantine rapier sank easily into the golem's... structure, but he wasn't able to dodge its claws or stinger as it picked him and up stung him twice, before throwing him back out of the room. Luckily for him, Altei and Elyssie had joined the fight and managed to finish it off... for now. It was slowly regenerating.
As they struck the final blow, 'Wet Papa' returned and glared at Ash. He pointed to the burning troll corpse just outside the door. "Did you do this?"
Ash: "No! It was the ogres."
It wasn't clear whether he believed her -- he didn't attack her, at any rate. Instead, he stabbed Kaito. Who stabbed him back, and then tried to back away and got stabbed again. Seeing that his prey had fled into the chamber of scorpion-filled death, Wet Papa retreated underwater again.
Kaito, seeing an opening, changed into a fox and ran for his life. "Yip yip yip yip!"
By now the scorpion had regenerated, but Altei noticed that it was using blindsight to detect people disturbing the thin layer of water covering the floor in its chamber, and walked on water over to the model of the dam to examine it. The skulls on the dam were articulated, and could be opened, but opening them didn't activate the dam. She did find an ioun stone wedged into one of the mouths, and brought it back to Phoof to identify, although Phoof couldn't tell what it was at a glance.
The party spent some time healing up (Kaito came back after drinking all his healing potions to get some extra healing from Phoof) and clearing away the skulls, which were blocking a doorway behind them. Halfway through the clearing, Wet Papa emerged from the water again and Stabbed Ash. The party turned on him and stabbed him back until he retreated *again*, and then Ash cast a Lightning Bolt into his pool to maybe keep him down for long enough for them to finally clear the skulls.
Once the skulls were clear, they opened the door and found two circles of runes -- one inhabited by a pile of ash, the other by a very sickly-looking devil, which Noggin recognized as an emaciated Pit Fiend. The devil promised them anything if they'd just let him out... and please, please not to turn the dam back on. He couldn't take it anymore!
Ash had grown very attached to her goat -- all the way through the dam she'd been talking about how much she'd grown to love it, and how she was going to make it her familiar -- but she volunteered it as a guinea pig to go into the vacant circle. And it worked! The dam activated as soon as the goat was inside, the goat and devil both screaming in pain as the mechanism drained their life! Unfortunately, a goat was not a very good substitute for a Pit Fiend, and burst into a pile of dust after only a few minutes.
They needed something stronger. Something... regenerating...
Wet Papa also screamed as they dragged his limp body out of its pool and dumped him in the circle, closing the portcullis to trap him inside, but was strong enough to endure as the dam's floodgates opened at last, draining the reservoir to safer levels.
On the way out, they told the ogres that the trolls were taken care of, but they hadn't seen any sign of their leader. The ogres immediately went in to search.
Kaito: "Don't go downstairs, there's some security systems down there that are still active and could kill you."
The ogres immediately headed for the stairs.
Kaito: "Um, okay. Whatever you do, don't turn left after you get to the bottom and go into the side chamber there!"
Satisfied that the ogres were about to meet their golemmy fate, the party headed back to the fort to rest.
They still needed to retrieve the Dryad's lover's body from the ogre tribe... and something was going on north of the dam. The storms that had drained the pit fiends until one of them had died couldn't be normal, and why had the giant sea monster leapt over the dam and headed downstream?
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