Their name was The Order of the Elven Song.
Aegor the Elven Druid was of the Towering Mountains, but as an Elf, had always had an affinity for the Great Forest. The feathers in his hair was a constant tell of his Druidic nature. He knew how to Shed to avoid getting hurt too badly in combat. Halek was always prey than a hunter in his opinion. The spirits always whispered to him about a great danger following Enkirash. He did, however, trust Astrafel enough to teach him a secret rite of the land. He had haunting eyes, the color of clouds about to rain. He had messy hair with feathers. He wore weathered hides.
Enkirashthe Elven Wizard was the sort of Wizard to have Counterspell as one of the first things he ever mastered. He sensed Aegor was to play an important role in events to come and so he joined this band. He hated how Halek was keeping an important secret from him. Astrafel was a poor sod who didn't understand the world enough, in Enkirash's eyes. He had sharp eyes. His hair was stylish as was his robe.
Astrafel the Elven Bard knew the Grand Histories of the Known World and used his Lute as his musical instrument. He understood that Enkirash does not trust him and it is with good reason. Aegor had entrusted him with a secret and he had no plans of sharing it with others. He had trained, however, to be a Fighter as well and his Signature Weapon was his Rapier, which was excellently crafted and could pierce armor with ease. He had knowing eyes and wore a stylish cap. His clothes were finery, ostentatious fine clothes that nicely covered his fit body. The lute hung on his back. The rapier on a belt hook. The color of his outfit was purple.
It was a sad, dismal town by the sea. The rains poured down and the group opted to go to the first tavern they spotted to gain shelter from the storm. Inside, the people seemed to all carry some heavy burden. A woman approached to welcome them, which led to Fenris growing in response as if she were some threat.
"How are you feeling right now," Astrafel honestly asked.
"Absolutely terrified," the woman responded, "We don't usually have your kind around here."
The group easily noticed that most sat closer to the fire. A band was on stage, a trio, but their musings were struggled. Weak. No one seemed to pay any attention to the music. But everything changed when the Bard opted to sing.
"You did this?"
"How long was I.."
"Where am I?"
The voices came suddenly. The people moved as if waking from a long dream. Most were panicked. Confused. Some were beginning to grasp what happened. And true fear set in. The Druid erupts from beneath the table (he was uneasy being with so many people) in the form of a bear to terrify the people and force them back, but the Bard instead announces the bear to be some form of entertainment. The confusion creates the same effect. The people hesitate.
It was the Year of the Wombat.
6 day of the third month of the year.
4th Candle Hour.
But people all recalled different dates.
There was a heavy atmosphere in the air. Enkirash attempted to dispel it but it would not fade. He tried twice and still nothing. It was like a fog that one could not see. Only sense. Halek follows the barkeep to the back door she ducks behind. When she notices him, instincts kick in and a knife flies from her hand and almost meets its mark. He catches it, but not without cutting himself. "A fighter?" he asks. She admits she retired. He asks her about missing time. She admits she has lost three months.
Enkirash steps out of the tavern, and at the edge of the rain, attempts to Counterspell the aura one last time. Finally it works. But then he realizes it may have worked too well. He sees the three musicians earlier attempting to leave, stating something about heading to the North Gate and not wanting trouble. Enkirash does not realize this is the last time he will see two of them ever again.
And at the port, a black ship. Its sails in tatters. Its bow, a strange mass of protrusions like roots. Like.. tentacles.
The people all want answers, but no one truly has any. Even the Barkeep tries to help calm them down. She explains to the party that there have been hooded men in the town. They arrived months ago. Upon a black ship. The rains never stopped since they arrived. They always traveled in packs.
"Enkirash, whatever you did. You just attracted them," the Ranger growls.
"I know," the Wizard growled back.
"I know you," the Bard smiles staring at the Barkeep. He starts talking about the great battles of the North. Of the King and his Paladin. Of the Knight's Templar who had lost their head. "Your name is Gillean," he motions at the Barkeep. She nods. Astrafel shifts back to his song,"...And the chicken was his friend!"
A hooded figure arrives.
The moment it steps inside, people start dropping. Fainting. As if the very sight of him forces them to lose consciousness. The party is very quickly left visibly unaffected (at least those that did not bother to hide). The group attacks and easily, the thing is felled. Opportunity was on their side. Halek peruses the corpse and finds a pouch with glass and gems around its arm. He reveals the head beneath the hood and finds tentacles from an oblong head. It takes them a moment to realize what it is.
"Illithid. A mind flayer."
Halek suspects the gems are key. "Are there any mines in the area?"
"By the sea?" Gillean considers, "The nearest is many miles away. Possibly from the City of Felis further to the North. It is a coal town. Has a nearby port."
An old woman offers information. Aletha is her name. She shares the story of a Ghost Ship. Sailed to port and everyone had been driven mad. She shares how there was much talk about some kind of tentacled monster. Thought it was the kraken, or something massive. Could have been one of these flayers. Come from the sea?
Not from the Continent. Group traveled from across the sea. That much the party agreed upon. These things were not typical things you'd run into. The group considers their options and decide they have three things to consider: the Port to see if the Ghost Ship was still there. The Town Hall, where supposedly church services were held in the past. "There may be religious items that may prove useful there," Astrafel admitted. It was a temple to Fenfaril, the Weaver of Tapestries. The Father of Magic. The last was the tavern of survivors. Broken from the spell, it was only a matter of time before more Mind flayers noticed these charges were free. Worse, the group had no idea where truly to bring them to safety.
"What about defending them? Fortifying this tavern?"
Gillean would have been a good option, but the Paladin, as it turned out, had given up on her vows. Enkirash conceals Aegor in an Invisibility spell.
The group splits up. Aegor transforms into a flying thing to investigate the tower. Halek sneaks to the port to check on the Ghost Ship. Enkirash and Astrafel consider their options at the tavern, unawares of the three Mind flayers closing in on that location that very moment. The wizard is preoccupied with the corpse of the illithid. He realizes with the brain, he could use it as a component to create a ritual to protect a single person from the Sleep Curse. Astrafel on the other hand talks to Gillean, attempting to glean why she had turned away from her Deity. He learns she broke her vow to uphold the Law. When he prods further, Gillean points at an old man in the tavern. "He is a criminal. My... former God... demands he be killed for his trespasses. I said no."
At the port, Halek is forced to hide when something... different comes into view while he observes the Black Galleon. A blue glowing bird flutters from the sea. A pirate, fluttering against the breeze like a ghost, rises from the darkness. Halek hides, and bides his time, not wanting to reveal himself to what may just be something of the undead. He decides to carefully make his way back, not wanting to bump into that thing once more.
At the town hall, Aegor discovers the building has been replaced by a massive tower. People, lost in some daze like state, march into the tower with buckets. Outside the tower, stacks upon stacks and piles of rocks are scattered about. Were the people digging inside that tower? Aegor fluttered through a window and found the world spinning around. Crashing into the ground, Aegor shifts into a spider at the last second to hide beneath a bucket carried by one of the miners. The people are digging upon what seems to be a floating island of rock in a strange other-dimensional location. The mind flayers observe as the humans dig with their hands, load the debris into buckets, and carry them out. In the hole, a massive metal coffin of some sort is partly revealed. The illithid almost senses his presence, but thankfully the dazed mortal that carries the bucket out to empty it unwittingly carries Aegor away from the mind flayer's psionic scan. The druid hurries back to try and inform them of his findings.
The flames spread out as an orange carpet all-consuming and blindingly hot. Then pull back to wrap around the form of a woman, who holds an old lifeless man in her hands. Her tears drip with fire as Gillean gently places the dead old astrologer down to the ground. "I hear you, Father," she weeps, "And I embrace your presence to rid this town of these vermin." Her Paladin-hood has been restored, but not without personal loss.
The fight goes well. Painful, messy, but well. Enkirash deflects numerous attempts of the mind flayers to use their psionics to bring the heroes down. In the end, the heroes defeat all three illithids, but know without a doubt their actions are no longer unnoticed. Whatever other Mind flayers out there are sure to know of their presence now.
And that's when the ghostly form introduces itself, and explains to them the real reason the tentacled things were in Codcliffe. "They seek Blorc, the God of the Illithids, who sleeps the eternal sleep in the endless timeless ocean." The thing looks.. well, is dressed like a pirate. A colorful one at that. Beneath the feathered hat however instead stares back a single greenish coopery orb with a single golden eye. Astrafel gasps, "A beholder!"
Kurd is his name. And he identifies himself as a Pirate of the 7th Seas. Master of the Planes. A disowned child of the Family Co Bayin. He had sold a map to the illithids, as it turns out. A map he claimed would lead them to the burial grounds of the slumbering Blorc. "I did not realize that my duplicity would ironically turn out to be unwittingly a truth. I HAD sold the Mind flayers a map that DID lead them to their slumbering deity's prison. And so, now I attempt to undo the danger I have unwittingly initiated." The Beholder wore a Pirate's hat. Tiny fine chains linked the boots to the pants, the pants to the jacket, the jacket to the gloves, and rest of the outfit to the hat, like a human-sized puppet. Kurd would use his eyestalk's Telekinesis to move his arms around when he wanted to look a bit more humanoid. It was almost as if Kurd desperately wanted to have been born a humanoid.
Astrafel easily realizes Kurd is a Bard as well. Multi-classed enough to have tried many roles. Aegor asks how much time they have to stop the things. Kurd admits two weeks is being generous. "There were 21 of them, but now given your notable collection given you are all beginners in Spelljammer Hunting Norms, only seventeen now remain as four are dead." He talks about numerous realms: Toril, Faerun, Ravenloft, Krynn and admits that this particular incarnation of Faerun interests him the most. The others are confused to what he means.
Halek does not like the blue ghostly parrot. Neither does Fenris. Kurd admits he had dabbled a bit in being a Ranger in order to have a familiar of his own. A ghost parrot familiar, to be more precise.
The Order of the Elven Song realized they had less than two weeks to war against outer planars. Enkirash silently hungers for the secrets of the realms which the beholder Kurd knows. Halek feels that Kurd does not understand life in the wild, and plans to teach him. Astrafel is excited to begin writing ballads about the adventures with Kurd. And the blue glowing ghost, Archon, squawks in excitement as it senses a new adventure that is about to begin.