As a party walks through town, people begin pointing and screaming to the skies. “What are thooooooose?” Looking up, the party sees several Grell slowly moving above buildings. One swoops down and pecks at a townsperson with its giant beak.
Hovering back up into the pack, the Grell move along at a lazy pace, unbothered by the flurry of arrows the town guard begin shooting at them. A few hit the Grell, causing them to move along more rapidly.
Elbowing past the onlookers, a female human druid sprints after them yelling, “stop shooting! Stop shooting!” She trips attempting to get past the party and her notebook goes flying. Inside are drawings and notes related to the Grell along with a boldly underlined phrase, “WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?!”
At that moment, the Grell come swooping back, squawking at each other and the woman. A man in the crowd yells “B-b-b-bird!! Bird! Bird!”
“No, you dunce,” the Druid replies, “these are the glorious Grell I’ve been talking about!” As she finishes her statement, the Grell snatch her up with their tentacles and fly away. She screams and pleads for the Grell to put her down.
“It is as the prophecies foretold,” says the same man, “that birds would take our bird expert away. We’ll miss you Audubonnie.” The crowd dissipates as the Grell fly off.
A halfling doubles over, catching his breath from chasing after the Grell and grabs onto one of the party members clothing. “Please sirs and madams, you have to help me get Audubonnie back. She is my entire world. She’s been studying the Grell since they showed up last week and has been obsessed with tracking them since.”
DMs Note: If the party agrees to help fetch Audubonnie, they can find a map in the notebook to where she thinks the Grell are living, or the halfling can give them his best instructions. You could add some Nature/Survival tracking-based checks if you want them to flex that muscle a bit. You could also throw a few gnolls at the party if you’re looking to increase the amount of combat as they follow the map.
What In The Grell?
Moving out past the farms on the edge of town, the party comes to a large hill with some cliff faces and caves at the top. From the map (or the halflings tips) they begin to investigate. They’ll easily be able to spot some bones laying around the exterior of a cave and leading further in. Upon investigation the bones are of goats, cows, and other livestock, apparently from the surrounding area.
Further into the cave, more bones are visible, and the party hears Grell squawking at one another. At the back of the cave are two Grell, seemingly having a conversation. The cave opens up to 20 feet deep, 20 feet wide, and 15 feet high. Toward the back of the cave is a purple-ish tear in the fabric of the plane, a distorted voice of Audubonnie comes through, yelling at something from within the rift. Audubonnie is not visible.
The two Grell are hovering near the rift, so approaching the rift at all will likely trigger their attention. They will hover momentarily, picking up the trace of the party through electrorecption, their beaks quivering as they seek the party out.
DMs Note: These Grell are essentially guards of the rift. Anyone that is not Audubonnie is regarded as an enemy. The party can attempt to reason with them, but unless they come up with a pretty convincing ability to speak Grell, they are unlikely to avoid combat.
If the party enters combat with the Grell, they will heavily leverage their tentacle attacks and do their best to protect the rift. A round into combat, a third Grell drops from the ceiling, gaining first order in the initiative unless the party sussed it out prior to combat.
If the party defeats the Grell, they will have access to the rift, but if over half of the party is knocked unconscious, the Grell will enter the rift and close it from the other side.
Gettin’ The Grell Out Of Here
Looking into the rift, the party can see Audubonnie and the Grell walking further away, but Audubonnie seems to be going willingly. Around her, eight more Grell guards hover, staying quiet and facing straight ahead. If the party approaches, they will turn to face the party at all times.
The Grell escorting Audubonnie are chirping at her and she is chirping back, as if she understands their language. They are not being aggressive with her and are hovering with her as they move toward a milky ripple of light in the air at the end of a shattering cliff.
She turns to see the party (and the halfling if he’s still with you) and smiles. “They need our help!” she yells back. “They are being overrun by Cranium Rats, who insist their brains are the dominant brains in the Far Realms. They are kindly asking us to exterminate the —” as she is speaking, three Swarms of Cranium Rats emerge from the milky ripple and down the two Grell near Audubonnie.
Their brains emit a bright light as a telepathic voice hits the minds of the party. “We are the superior beings. This is not your fight. We ask kindly for you to stay out of it. Uhhh, squeak squeak.”
Decisions to Make
The easiest answer, the party can leave, though Bonnie will scream at them as they exit. As they leave, the rift closes. Squeaks and squawks ring out as the cave is left in darkness. The halfling will be deeply saddened and the party will be banished from the town forever. If they return, the town will make bird noises at them and throw rocks.
Assist the Cranium Rats
What a twist! Audubonnie will scream at the party the whole time and the Grell will succumb fairly easily to their assailants. As the rats go back through their shimmering milky ripple, one looks back and notes telepathically, “one day, you shall be rewarded for your assistance.” The rats disappear and the party is left to deal with an extremely unhappy Audubonnie and several Grell corpses.
Assist the Grell
If the party helps the Grell, the Cranium Rats will turn one (or up to three) of the Grell against the party using Dominate Monster. Standard combat ensues, with the Swarm of Cranium Rats using their psionic spellcasting in spurts. Once defeated, Audubonnie will pledge her assistance to the remaining Grell, by letting them live in the cave where they formed the rift.
Audubonnie will thank the party once they’re back in town and offer them a tome of knowledge that contains all the information on bird-based creatures she has. She will be able to pop up in future towns if the party has any additional bird-related inquiries or mysteries to solve.