You combed the Jackal’s Den Tavern but nothing was to be found but more booze and a few odds and ends. The silence began to press on you—the only sign that the patrons had ever been there were footprints leading out the door into the howling desert night.
You began to explore, cautiously, the rest of the property. Clearly the shapeshifters were biding their time—it was an opportune moment to loot the premises! At least, that’s what you thought until a chest of darts in Matron’s shack out back shot Wander full of holes. You did manage to find a hidden journal written by a dead visitor, a sad tale of lost love. You also found human skins under Matron’s floorboards. Stylish.
There was a knocking at the shack’s door. You all frittered over who should answer it—when your orphan Slip, the half-dwarf kid with the power of healing, called you all ninnies and pulled it open. A woman made of sand stood there: a rogue elemental who didn’t share her brothers’ hate of mortals. She gave Slip the gift of rain, before being devoured by her fellows. You all dithered some more before someone noticed with a passive Perception that someone new was entering the tavern. (Start of Session 6)
Wander recognized it as their resident thief, Tiz, absent since the fall of Urik. What a coincidence! It wasn’t until later they realized that the shapeshifter barkeep Hakir had taken the form of Queen to lure the thief out of the desert and into the tavern.
You managed to rescue Tiz—but before you did, some THING in the barn dragged the wizard, Sol, to an untimely death! You were suitably horrified. Seriously, what the hell?!
After recovering his orb and spellbook, you hustled to the bar to save Tiz—just in time. The jackal Matron had put him to sleep using a primal charm power, and was about to slit his throat with a sickle! You laid some hurt on the Matron and her bartender thug, killing him and driving her into the sandstorm.
The fight wasn’t over, of course. As the storms worsened, you delved into the last area not yet cleared: the Barn, where your wizard was murdered. You found stalls full of bones, a vat of lye for tanning skins, and a number of holes gnawed in the ceiling. The holes disgorged tentacles covered in. . . lace? The tendrils began to pluck the meatiest bones from the mess, and started feeling over the player characters as well. You all played “corpse” and the arms took Wander, your cloth-shardmind monk!
Up Wander went, into the den of evil, lit by a single lantern. . . The room had a small fence piled with artifacts, and a single, enormous baby’s cradle from which emerged the probing, lacy, knitted ropes of evil. The “Baby” laid Wander in its collection, thinking the shardmind was an object. . . The others, intending stealth, tried to sneak up on the thing and ambush whatever-it-was, but it snagged the thief and pulled him into its sticky embrace. Underneath the crib’s blanket were. . .
Teeth. Just a giant mouthful of teeth. The Cradle was a Mimic, and the combat that followed was manic and furious—the thief dashed the lantern on the beast, setting it aflame and the elven Fighter used a Fortune Card to keep the creature from rolling a save. Eventually, faced with your combined might, the beast turned to ooze form and fled through the window—another enemy unleashed to stalk your party from afar.