Ah, I figured that making the rats inactive would make them a non-combatant for Xerath's purposes (also allowing him to blast them indiscriminately as needed). If they would still be a threat, then yes, I could move them into the H/G-35/36 zone.
Yahirma barely heeds Appario's calls, both because he is out of sight and because he is speaking complete nonsense. Only his use of her name rouses her attention. She responds with her own call, which includes Appario's name and Derek's.
"What did you say Appario? Derek, what is he yammering about?"
I don't know if you spotted it in the OOC thread but Derek mentioned having technical difficulties. He suggested NPCing him.
Derek moves around the corner adjacent to Maddok, and begins singing to bolster his brother's shadowslicing attacks.
(inspire courage +3; bardic performance 10/21 rounds)
Both non-commanded swarms follow, to congregate upon as large a number of foes as possible.
Strength damage (swarm #1; archon,Appario,Derek,Maddok): 1d4 ⇒ 1
Strength damage (swarm #3; archon,Appario,Derek,Maddok): 1d4 ⇒ 2
Appario, Derek, Maddok, and the archon all take 3 Strength damage (or 1; see below).
Both swarms provoke when they move into the group's space; if Maddok's AoO against swarm #3 deals at least 5 damage (after halving due to protection vs slashing), its Strength damage doesn't occur.
Both swarms cover spaces G42-F43.
Up next: The PCs.
Once again bolstered by his little brother's song, Maddok cleaves through the approaching swarm of shadowy rats.
AoO vs #3: 1d20 + 12 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 12 + 1 = 29
Damage: 1d10 + 17 - 1 ⇒ (2) + 17 - 1 = 18
Even as he disperses one swarm, he howls in pain as the other pours over himself, Derek, Appario, and the archon nibbling at their strength.
Maddok steps back and continues sweeping Shadowbinder through the mass of vermin.
Primary: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32
Damage: 1d10 + 17 - 3 ⇒ (9) + 17 - 3 = 23
Iterative: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
Damage: 1d10 + 17 - 3 ⇒ (2) + 17 - 3 = 16
The archon steps to E44. Maddok steps to F43.
Since Maddok's AoO disperses swarm #3, the relevant parties only take 1 Strength damage each.
Maddok's blade slices through hundreds more rats, leaving both remaining swarms with about 2/3rds of their original amount.
Only two swarms remain, one of which is commanded by Yahirma.
Up next: Appario, Derek, Xerath, Yahirma.
Xerath asked me to post for him.
After Appario's moved:
Xerath unleashes another lightning bolt laced with ghostly energy along G.
Ectoplasmic Lightning Bolt: 9d6 ⇒ (3, 5, 5, 3, 1, 3, 6, 5, 1) = 32
The crackling electricity surging from Xerath's arms and hands destroys both remaining swarms, causing the few surviving rats to scurry away into the walls.
Appario has taken 6 STR damage.
Derek has taken 20 damage and 7 STR damage.
Maddok has taken 1 damage and 7 STR damage.
Xerath has taken 4 damage and 5 STR damage.
Yahirma has taken 5 STR damage.
The archon has also taken 6 STR damage.
Maddok's shoulders sag as Shadowbinder suddenly feels much heavier in his less-powerful arms.
"Well done Xerath."
Well it's a good thing we have that wand!
Appario: No resources spent yet.
Derek: 1 3rd-level spell remaining, all 2nd-level spells remaining, all 1st-level spells remaining, 11 rounds of bardic performance remaining. The Morrowfall has 1 use of sunbeam remaining, 2 uses of searing light remaining, and all 3 uses of blindness remaining.
Maddok: no 3rd-level spells remaining, 3 2nd-level spells remaining, 3 1st-level spells remaining, no summon monster uses remaining, 10 rounds of rage remaining.
Xerath: no 4th-level spells remaining, 5 3rd-level spells remaining, 3 2nd-level spells remaining, 2 1st-level spells remaining, all uses of heavenly fire remaining.
Yahirma: 4 4th-level spells remaining, 7 3rd-level spells remaining, 5 2nd-level spells remaining, 5 1st-level spells remaining, all uses of natural divination remaining, 8 uses of reminder of death remaining, 5 uses of undead servitude remaining, no party members have been fortuned or misfortuned yet.
Can we assume Yahirma hits us all with the wand of restoration and move on?
Maddok works with Appario going about the grisly business of searching the room and the remains of the various bodies filling the room.
Yahirma performs a quick assessment of everyone to see how best to spend her magic. As she channels the increasingly weaker wand's magic, she responds to Appario's question. "When conflicts arise, I find myself able to speak and understand only the language that led me to Westcrown in the first place: Infernal. It has been the same since our first fight alongside one another. When you speak to me, I hear only what would translate into the devil tongue; anything in Taldane is so much nonsense until the conflict is resolved. Perhaps when conflict in Westcrown is resolved, I will find myself free of this...linguistic curiosity."
"Ah, there we are," she concludes as the magic works its course. "I believe you had been asking me about something as the rats were swarming, Appario. What was it?"
Yahirma uses the wand of restoration on Appario, Derek, and Maddok, and she cast lesser restoration on Xerath and herself. I would like to conserve a few charges for any negative levels down the road.
For Xerath: 1d4 ⇒ 4
For Yahrima: 1d4 ⇒ 1
For Yahirma: 1d4 ⇒ 4
Would you mind hitting the archon with a lesser restoration too?
Maddok nods his thanks as Yahirma replenishes his strength.
Appario looks around for the remains of the rats before answering Yahirma's question about his question.
"Uhm...I was wondering if now was the time to drink this Elixir." Appario holds up the bottle of Spirit Sight and stores it again in his bandolier. "Well, nevermind now."
Appario looks around again.
"Well, I should get back to work. Good talk." Appario goes and looks for loot.
So here I just thought she just didn't want to talk to Appario. Maybe I should speak to her about the incident in the pit. If anyone would know about magical anomalies, it would be her." Xerath listens intently on Yahirma's explanation.
Before deciding if it would be worth it to spend a restoration-charge or a 2nd-level spell slot on the archon, note that it will only be around for another minute after all of these 1-minute and 3-round casting time spells have been cast, plus the time spent searching the corpses.
All of the corpses have been stripped of their clothing and valuables, although a few scraps of torn wool and leather still hang on to a few of them. All bear signs of having suffered violent deaths, with stab-wounds from daggers, piercing holes from crossbow bolts, or sword-slashes the apparent cause. Many are also bloated from poison.
Appario and Derek each recognize one or two of the dead as matching the descriptions of known thieves.
Xerath's shield spell expires during the time spent restoring everyone's strength.
Well nevermind then. =)
Confident that there's nothing valuable in the room, Maddok leads the group back the way they came and opens the next area.
To the northernmost double doors here.
The doors open into a long hallway, lined by heavy cell doors blocking entry into a number of cramped, filthy cells. A ring of keys to these cell doors hangs on the south wall just inside the door. Each cell holds one or more naked bodies; those in the nearest cell appear dead, but it's difficult to tell if those in cells farther away are still breathing.
Maddok works with Appario to search the cells, starting with the farthest ones.
"Perform a quick check for Tarvi," Yahirma announces as she heads into the hallway and casts detect magic.
Tarvi had many magical trinkets, and there may yet be one on her.
Heal check to discern signs of life: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
Heal check to discern signs of life: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Heal check to discern signs of life: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Yahirma finds no signs of magical trinkets in the cells, and none of the bodies here or in the other room look like Tarvi.
However, she does locate signs of life on three of the bodies in the cell farthest from the door; all are emaciated and unconscious, but breathing. She recognizes one as the man she had a long conversation with at the Cornucopia; Eirtein Oberigo, patriarch of the Oberigo family.
From Ganefini Mhartis, to Derek, Maddok, and Yahirma:
"What do I know? Enough to stay out of their way. Little of importance happens in Westcrown without some measure of involvement from the Council. Decisions are nudged in their favor, and those who oppose their influence tend to find themselves quickly out of favor. Or worse. Vassindio Drovenge was the Council's undoubted leader, and Eirtein Oberigo his right-hand man."
From Sascar Tilernos, to Derek:
"Although the Drovenge and Oberigo families still hold vaster fortunes and even vaster political influence, it could be wise to distance oneself from them. The Drovenge House is a wild horse following Vassindio's death. His granddaughter is young, and may not be ready for the responsibility she now faces. She must learn quickly if she is to maintain her family's influence. Eirtein Oberigo knows everything that goes on in Westcrown, and is a wealth of gossip and information once the right buttons are touched. But he hasn't been seen in a month, and rumors swirl. Is he ill? On the verge of dying? Or is he already dead, and the family keeps it silent? The family has noone in a position to take over smoothly, and the consequences could be dire if the rumors are true."
Maddok studies the three survivors.
"Will they live?"
"I believe so," reports Yahirma as she peers through the bars. "This last one is Eirtein Oberigo, a noble you may remember hearing about from the Mhartis."
I still need to follow up with the Ciuccis, too.
"They are in no immediate danger of dying, but I believe we would do well to resuscitate them soon. Oberigo may know something of what has happened here, and he may prove an exceptional ally in any move we make against the Drovenge's stranglehold on Westcrown," she adds while testing the cell doors. "Appario, I think these might be locked or stuck. Could you manage something on this one, at least?"
She steps back to give others space to open up the doors. "That a few are alive at least speaks to the power this 'Master' has over the undead here. A free-willed shadow would happily feast upon a helpless target unless commanded to do otherwise."
Maddok tries the cell doors to confirm if they're locked.
"Why would they butcher the rest but leave these to live?" Maddok asks in reference to the previous room full of corpses.
Maddok retrieves the keys he just spotted and opens the door.
"Wha...? Oh, how did I miss those?" Yahirma wonders aloud as Maddok unlocks the doors. She moves in and wastes no time in assessing Oberigo's condition.
Heal to determine whether restoring ability damage or restoring hit points is the better route: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Cure light wounds if needed: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Lesser restoration if needed: 1d4 ⇒ 4
That's why others make the Perception checks around here. It may also explain a bit about Yahirma's bad habit of going last in the initiative order.
Maddok pulls out a waterskin. He briefly moistens a bit of trail ration and then hands the ration and the skin to Yahirma.
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19 Know (Nobility)
Appario's face lights up as he recognizes the man.
"It's that guy? Wow. Why is he down here? I thought he was nicely intertwined with the Drovenges. Seems strange that he'd be down here."
Appario helps drag the man to a sitting position.
"Can we get him talking, Yahirma?"
Once the water and ration have been administered, which the man at first attempts to swallow and eat far too quickly in his weakened state, he's able to focus on other things than getting nutrition into his system.
Looking up at Yahirma with a face seemingly aged years since she last saw him, he seems to recognize her. "I.. think I know you. Where.. the play? Yes. You were in the play." He looks around, taking in his surroundings and realizing where he is. "Why are you here?"
"We are here to put an end to the shadows that hunt Westcrown's streets", Maddok answers. "How did you end up a prisoner down here?"
Still feeling the effects of the past two months of incarceration and mistreatment, Eirtein rubs his temples frequently while answering, and sips water even more frequently.
"You must know of the Council? And that Vassindio Drovenge and myself were once among its leaders? That all changed several weeks ago. Vassindio's grandson, Ecarrdian, came to the mansion above carrying his mutilated grandfather's body on his shoulders. He proclaimed himself and his sister, Chammady, the new leaders of the Council."
"Any who opposed this new leadership by force were quickly dealt with at the hands of the dark folk. As it turned out, Ilnerik Sivanshin had already shifted his allegiance to the siblings, and the dark folk followed his lead. I saw no reason to throw my life away, and was imprisoned here along with others who opposed the change with words rather than action."
He turns his attention to Appario's questions.
"These dungeons are a storage facility. Crates too large to be carried down the stairs are dumped through a hole above to land in a sewage pit, and a crane is used to retrieve them. These cells are used for hostages, although such use has been rare the past several decades. There's a treasury below, along with a rarely used shrine."
"Inhabitants.. Let me think. There are some chuuls in the lake; sharpshooters used to be posted there, but the chuuls were deemed a more efficient security. A massive otyugh lives in the sewage pit, taking care of anything that must vanish; whenever there are deliveries, it's told to retreat behind a portcullis which is then lowered. Guards are posted by the beach, in the winch-chamber, and here."
"But I imagine much has changed, now. It's been a while since anyone last came in here, and those were dark folk. Not guild members."
Maddok considers the information offered.
"Ilnerik..." the big Shoanti growls. "Where is he? And where is the vault?"
"He proclaimed himself and his sister, Chammady, the new leaders of the Council."
Appario huhs aloud in surprise.
"I guess we have final, real proof: The Lady Chammady might not be as innocent as I thought. It's hard to believe those wild rumors where right."
Appario thinks more, his head bobbing back and forth as he thinks deep thoughts.
"So, what were you saying about a treasury? Which way is it? Is it locked? Trapped?"
"I don't know where he is." Eirtein points to the confines of his cell. "I'm no longer aware of what happens within the Council. Ilnerik used to only show himself for regularly scheduled meetings."
"The treasury is below. To get to it, one must go through the wall in the hallway south of here. There's an ash one must use, kept in a box in the meeting chamber; smear it around the eyes to see the outline of a door, then smear more of the ash in circles within that outline. Then you can pass. There's a guardian, but no traps."
Maddok nods, "We have that ash."
"What kind of guardian? Is there a way to subdue or bypass it?"
Appario crestfalls a bit when the Elder explains the lack of traps.
Too bad. It would have been nice to pit my skill against the best the Guild has to offer.
"Well, as much as I want to get into that treasury, we should probably deal with the rest of the Guild first."
Appario turns his attention to the Patriarch.
"What shall we do with you? We can leave you here until we return. Or you can go on your own...or, if you wish, you can take this potion and float out the way the sewage comes in. I, of course, will ask you to replace it since you have nothing to pay for it now."
Appario offers a potion of Gaseous Form.
"The guardian is some kind of 6-armed statue from Vudra, except it's not really a statue. I must admit I don't remember what it was called. The treasury was never my domain; I've only been there a few times over the past decades. The guardian only animated on my first visit, just after I was accepted into the Council's leadership. Once Vassindio informed it of my new position, it returned to its slumber."
Eirtein shakes his head. "It can only be bypassed by those it recognizes as Council leadership, and by the Council treasurer. Any among the leadership can grant others the right of passage, or remove such rights. I would assume only a select few loyal to the new leaders can visit safely now. Chammady is clever; she would surely think of it, even if her brother may not."
He looks sadder for a moment. "You know.. Vassindio was planning for her to be his eventual replacement, before all of this started. I don't think he believed she could be a part of the rift in the Council, even when our agent informed us it was Ecarrdian who was behind the upsurge of violent gangs threatening the Council's covert existence. Perhaps he simply hoped she would see reason, or maybe he underestimated their devotion for eachother."
Eirtein accepts the potion. "You have my word you'll receive payment for this, as well as a reward for my rescue. Come to Vira Oberigo when you have the time, or give me a location where I can find you."
He looks down at his naked body. "Do you by chance have any clothing to spare?"
Ask further questions as you please!
"Then we will just have to destroy it."
At the man's distress over his own nakedness, Maddok fishes around in his pack.
"No extra clothing, but I do have this", he says as he offers up a well used bedroll. "You can cover up at least."
No questions here. We have Vampire Lords to slay!