Starday, Lamashan 6, 4601: A group of rich Wiscrani aristocrats are sick of all of the hype about Aroden's pending return. They decide to subject themselves to temporal stasis for twenty-five years so that they can wake up when all of the religious fervour has died down. It turns out that they're out for longer than expected...
We have our first session tomorrow evening. I'm quite looking forward to it.
Session 1: Three humans, a dwarf and a gnome wake up behind bars...
For Morgram the Magnificent (yes, always happy to sign an autograph for an opera fan), not a moment passes between the temporal stasis taking effect and being awakened by a stranger. That the process is over is a relief - it had felt like an age for the stasis to take effect and holding a dramatic pose while it did had begun to give him a cramp. One always must suffer for one's art.
This is not the expected underground storage room, in a well appointed manor, that was promised. This is an arena, with a portcullis at either end, containing a motley, shouting group of commoners. What's more it appears that he's been stored in a cage in an alcove, as have all his companions. But, much, much, worse than all this, the shouting fans seem to have mistaken him for someone else. Can his fame have
The leader of this unexpected group, Janiven, calls out that guards are coming and for the dispelling wand-wielders to hurry. Seeing that the one nearest to him is struggling he takes over removing the stasis from Coraline.
Guards arrive at one gate and Janiven fires at them while they attempt to enter the arena. Zimburchem (Alchemist-extraordonaire) wakes, mid-sentence - he is enthused by the chaos. He also takes over from the wand-wielder nearest him, but his is clearly broken and it takes
Coraline (definitely not a ninja assassin) wakes, tipping the, clearly lower-class, functionary who apparently woke her. She is supremely unimpressed by the deviation from the plan.
Guards run in, opening a portcullis and trying to subdue the intruders. They are confused that the statues of the Great Heroes in the alcoves have been animated by these criminals. The boss is going to be very angry. One seems to remember that hitting moving statues makes them stop moving, so they decide to do that. Everyone seems very confused as to who the woken/statues really are; calling for Coraline to incinerate people with her eyes and wondering why the great, mute, dwarven fighter seems to speak.
Morgram crosses the arena, healing Jhaniven and waking Remy (daughter of house Dioso. Days are for fighting, nights are for carousing - no time is for sewing). She springs into action with Coraline and the tide beings to turn.
No thanks to Zimburchem's repeated failure, Anselar (in the shadow of powerful parents) awakens. Unfazed by the drastic change in situation Anselar is able to immediately assess where his magical ability will be most effective and the (conscious) guards begin to surrender.
An explosion from Zimburchem convinces the last guard to throw up his hands, calling that they cannot defeat the great alchemist Zingleburpbembledak (Zim's apprentice - tasked with continuing to produce the hangover cure that Zim invented).
While Janiven tried to convince the sleepers that they have to leave, the group tries to find out what is going on. Janiven explains that she learned their names from the plaques that label their alcoves. Zim checks his and finds that he is labeled as his apprentice, purported to have disappeared years after they were supposed to have been removed from stasis. They find that they have been frozen for a hundred years.
Locking the guards in the arena, they follow Janiven to Vizio's Bar. She and her group are refurbishing it as a front for their rebellion. It seems that Aroden did not return on schedule. Followers of Asmodeus have come to power in the past century and many of the old families have been brought low or even declared enemies of the state. Janiven was tasked with outfitting the rebellion, but she decided to spend their funds on wands to wake the Great Heroes - Every one able to take on whole armies by themselves (None of them our 'heroes').
The leader of the rebellion (Areal) is late returning and eventually a young rebel arrives at the door. Areal has been captured, and the boy has preceded a group of Hellknights by only a few moments. Giving up the bar, they all escape through a trapdoor to the sewers.
Coraline has a door on her robe of useful items and this serves to slow the Hellknights slightly.
The group splits from the two rebels, following secret marks towards their safe-house. They manage to stay far enough ahead of the Hellknights - Anselar obscuring their trail with prestidigitation and Coraline deciphering some of the more problematic signs.
The sewers hold a few dangers that they easily overcome:
-An otyugh is beguiled by Morgram just long enough for them all to pass.
-A tangle of grasping skeletons, mired in the sewer, attack Remy as everyone rushes by, but they are no match for her skill (and armour).
Finding the door up to the safe-house, they climb out of the sewers.
All the rebels gather to discuss the situation. The conversation consists in large part of trying to convince the heroes to help in the rescue of Areal. He is being transported to the Hellknight stronghold and there are a few places to lie in wait. The rebels offer to act as a distraction, but the majority of the group is wary of taking on, and making enemies of the Hellknights. Zimburchem thinks it sounds like fun. (A side topic is picking a name for the group - it seems the rebellion is very new).
The heroes reject the rescue. There are simply too many unknowns and they have had no time to verify anything. They head out to draw their nest-eggs from the the bank of Abadar but find it closed. It is only open one day a week. This is extremely disturbing.
Noticing that the streets are clearing as the light fades, they stop a passer-by. He tells them about the shadowbeasts that roam the streets at night. He's not willing to spend any more time chatting but does direct them to a passable inn.
Arriving as night begins to fall, the innkeeper quickly unbars the door. There are a few people in the common area (out for the evening).
Anselar decides to take up watch at the door's peephole, hoping to see one of the beasts feeding on an unlucky townsperson. Remy promises to lift Morgram to the peephole if that happens.
The innkeeper is happy to take their old currency with barely a word. The patrons seem happy to talk through the night, filling in much of the missing recent history.
Early in the evening, the innkeeper talks about providing Zingleburpbembledak's Favour free with the purchase of drinks (there are multiple suppliers that undercut each other). Zimburchem is incensed that his formula has become common cut-price fare. Remy deftly distracts him and he spends the rest of the night in a corner with his alchemical equipment.
Remy and Anselar's families are in trouble, but Coraline's is possibly ascendant. The current mayor is an Arvanxi, but he has sold off the family home. She decides to keep a low profile.
Hopefully the new day will bring some better news.
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 1]
Session 2: ...and then the bank manager says...
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 1]
Having spent an informative, but uneventfull night, at the Gargling Gargoyle (Anselar is disappointed that he witnessed not shadow beast attacks) the group heads out into the city.
Zim and Morgram want to return the wands that they took from the rebel group. Morgram had inadvertantly kept his and Zim wants to avoid the tedium of people who think you owe them something. The group has named themselves The Children of Westcrown and are no less suicidal after a night's sleep. While they have alarmed their door, it is no match for Coraline's skills. In fact, on the way out she set's up a better one.
It seems that the Children still do not believe that the group is not the heroes of legend, as they send their (inept) gnome scout, Yakapulio, to follow them. She must be part limpet, because she manages to stick to them even after she is discovered
As each of the group has 500 commemorative platinum coins, bearing Aroden's face (hardly likely to go unnoticed when spent) they head to a money changer / coin dealer to exchange them. Yakapulio asks to look at one and Zim hands over one of his. She pockets it. As he prepares a bomb to deal with her someone suggests that, as Zingleburpbembledak betrayed him, perhaps she could be his new apprentice. He relents and lets her keep the coin.
It seems they have caught the moneychanger on a bad week - he has been robbed. The thieves stole not only his float but also his client book. He is willing to change some small amount of the coin, at face value (no questions asked), but to move as much as they have, he needs his book. Whether from self interest or the goodness of their hearts, they agree to help.
Initial investigation reveals that the thieves broke into his safe using a substantial amount of strong acid.
First things first, though, the group takes a boat over to the wealthy part of town to commission new outfits in the contemporary style. This finishes off the day and they return to The Gargoyle.
The next day the Bank of Abidar is open. The line is long be the time they arrive and Zim juggles various dangerous vials to keep himself from going crazy.
Coraline is the first to the front. The teller does not recognise her as a client of the bank and, shockingly, is not a cleric able to cast Abidar's Truth Telling. She is asked to wait to the side, for the only cleric, while the rest of the line is served. In turn, each steps up and is asked to stand aside, as the teller becomes increasingly flustered.
The cleric, Lord Ghival, verifies Coraline's veracity and finds the old records of the deposits. He is worried. They are taken to a seperate room. Things are not what they once where at bank/church and, at some point, someone seems to have removed a large portion of their funds - they even require horrendous waivers of almost all rights on new deposits now.
Aftersome misunderstanding as to whether the group would be seeing any of their money, most leave with one or two thousand GP. Lord Ghival offers to provide spellcasting at the market rate (as he must as a cleric of Abidar) to settle some of the debt. Those with some religious knowledge realise that Ghival risks being cut off from his god if he fails to produce the money he is legal required to.
The investigation into the thieves begins in earnest. As Arael (the Children's leader) was meeting someone about the local bandits when he was caught, the group tracks down his youthful companion (scaring the boy's mother in the process). He leads them to a beggar with some information and the contacts to get more. The thieves seem to be a group of tieflings called the Bastards of Erebus, living in the walled off northern part of town. They seem to always know when the victims will be away from their homes and strike at these times.
The group talks to one of the other victims and find that the have been wooden tokens/coins left at each of the robbery locations. The coins do not seem to be magical in any way, so they remain a complete mystery.
Their contact is able to find the name of the next target of the Bastards and they resolve to catch the thieves in the act.
Supplemental: Anselar's Evening
Anselar made his farewells to the others from 4601, and set out to just walk his city. So many things were familiar, but it still felt like an entirely differently place.
After a couple hours of just walking around reacquainting himself with the town, he found himself back in front of the Gargling Gargoyle. Since this had more or less become his new home in this strange new time, he entered. It was nearly dark anyway, and he had no intention of breaking curfew without anyone to watch his back.
As he walked in Deran, the owner, greeted him with a smile.
"Milord! Welcome back! The kitchen will be closing soon, but would you like something now?"
They discussed some supper options, and then Anselar took his seat.
"Your friends won't be joining you this night, milord?" asked Deran.
Anselar just shrugged.
"They were in another part of town, so I'm not sure what their schedule is."
Deran nodded and refilled Anselar's drink.
"Well it's always a pleasure to have you here, sir."
The Gargoyle was busier than Anselar had seen it; all three of the other tables were occupied, and a robed man sat at the bar with a staff leaning against it next to him.
A young man in a rust-coloured vest raised his voice to address Anselar. Two people dressed as house guards sat at his table with him.
"I say, are you Lord Harth?"
"I'm Lord Tacito Dioso, and I understand someone named Lord Harth, possibly Ursio Harth, has been frequenting the Gargoyle in the evenings accompanied by, among others, a Lady Dioso. Maybe Lady Pavanna Dioso?"
"What's it to you?"
"Well, if family is in town then we need to look after her. I like the Gargoyle, but I also like having a room of my own back in the manor house, and I like having someone to watch my back and someone else to wash my clothes and such. My father wants to talk to her, too."
"Well if I see someone like that then I'll try to remember to tell her."
The woman at a table by herself looked up. She was wearing the uniform of a Dottari officer.
"So you're Lord Harth? We haven't had one of those in town for a while, I don't think. Are your papers all in order?"
Anselar wasn't sure what she meant.
"I didn't say that I was Lord Harth, just like you didn't say who you were."
"I'm Lieutenant Iladora Mufecci of the Dottari. I seem to be out of drink, so I suppose I'm back on duty now."
"Well we can't have that! Deran, could you please refill Lieutenant Mufecci's drink for her?"
"Right away, sir."
This last exclamation came from the final table. A handsome blonde man sat there.
"Once again the aristocracy buys off the Dottari!"
"Sir, I think there's nothing wrong with a gentleman such as myself buying a lady such as this officer a drink."
"Listen, 'milord', if you want to spend your money on someone else then look no further than Westcrown's greatest performer: me! I should tell you, I've just been cast in the starring role of a remake of the greatest Chelish play of all time: The Six Trials of Larazod! Auditions haven't actually happened yet, but I'm well known to the director and he has given me his personal assurances that the role is mine."
The robed man at the bar took an interest in this, and discussion turned to the opera and past productions of it.
The night passed uneventfully, though Tacito Dioso in particular seemed disappointed that no one else showed up. Anselar stayed up late and slept in the next day.
Session 3: ...But we can get the mood back
The group (sans Anselar) heads off to the supposed next victim of the Bastards, Ulfgar Bartreson.
He is an Ulfen weapon-smith, so they spend some time in his shop, gently pushing for information. As with the other victims he plans to be away from the shop that evening, meeting someone at a concert/recital.
They ensconce themselves at a restaurant down the road. As evening approaches, a seductively dressed woman arrives at the shop. While Ulfgar seems eager to leave for the concert, the woman clearly wishes to go back inside. Speculation abounds that she is one of the Bastards.
As night falls, the restaurant closes and the group moves to a nearby alley. Zim, unable to stay put for so long, makes a sweep of the surrounding area, noting a side entrance to the shop. Later, the group scares a few teenaged curfew breakers with a Ghost Sound.
The thieves eventually arrive and quickly pick the lock on the front door. The group, races across the street as the last of thieves closes the door behind them. Taking a moment to prepare, they rush in.
Remy takes point, threatening most of the area of the shop with her polearm. Ulfgar and his companion are heard to be otherwise occupied upstairs and don't notice the noise. Then a thief silences the majority of the ground floor with a wand.
Zimburchem follows up with a bomb, Coraline rushes in and Morgram distracts some of the thieves away from Remy with a ridiculous mime, jumping up onto the counter. They make quick work of the surprised thieves. A shuriken appears in the wall near Morgram, who looks up to see the somewhat less clothed companion of Ulfgar. Ulfgar quickly follows, similarly clothed, carrying an axe.
Unfazed by the attempted robbery, he ushers them out into the street. As they leave, he can be heard to tell his companion that they can get the mood back.
The group questions the only conscious thief, learning very little before the hooded and armbanded Children of Westcrown arrive to stop the same robbery. They are eager to tell the group all that they have learned (nothing new to the group).
However, there is one new piece of news - the rest of the Children are making an attack on the Bastards headquarters. Horrified at the suicidal plan, they send Janiven to call the attack off. They follow with the three remaining Children and the bound and gagged Bastards.
Heading to the wall, they skirt around it with multiple rowboats and head to the Bastards compound. The Children share the layout gleaned from an earlier scouting trip.
The group decides to walk to the main building (an old temple). The bell is rung in alarm as they approach, but there is no further activity.
Knocking, Morgram and Coraline are allowed to enter, with the hostages, to discuss terms. Word is sent to the boss, but the leader of the guard group is friendlier than expected - offering to play a hand of cards for the hostages release or future friendly contact.
Before things are resolved, a messenger returns with word that the boss wants to see them. This seems to surprise (and possibly worry) a few of the guard contingent.
Led through the wide-ranging underground complex, they pass a fair number of varied creatures, including a mummy.
Arriving, the boss tells his guard to let them all in "What? Do you think they can hurt me?" The large guard rolls his eyes - It seems the boss, Palaveen, may not be well loved.
After some tense negotiations, that seem to skirt imminent violence at every turn, Hanvex's ledger is traded for the hostages. During the exchange, introductions are made and Palaveen seems very interested in the fact that Remy is a Dioso. He is skeptical, as her skin is apparently the wrong colour (she is confused by this).
It is also revealed that Palaveen has some connection to the Council of Thieves. This means something to Remy, but the rest of the group are in the dark. She arranges to set up a future meeting with Palaveen - they will send each other proposed locations.
Leaving with their prize, Coraline asks the street level guards for information on black market contacts. They promise to send this to the Gargoyle.
As it is very late, the group finds an abandoned building to spend the night in. Remy tells them about the Council. A group that controlled almost everything in Westcrown to some degree. Most considered it a myth (even when the group was put into stasis). However, Remy knows that it is (or was at least) real - her father had a seat on it. Morgram and Zim are outraged that she had not told them before, but quickly forgive, as is the way of their friendship.
They all sleep late and head back towards the Gargoyle.
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 1]
Session 4: "She drank the Koolaid and it's all on my tab"
The group arrives back at the Gargoyle after their night out. Remy prepares her meeting proposal, but when Palaveen's arrives she sends
Coraline also receives the promised information about the Dusk Market.
Anselar fills the group in on his eventful evening (after the sun stops piercing his brain) and Remy decides to make contact with the family that was looking for her. The group will also visit the Dusk Market and return Hanvex's ledger.
Hanvex is surprised by it's swift return and offers to exchange the commemorative platinum at a premium (but can only handle a limited amount per week). He is reluctant to reveal his buyer, but will say that he/she is not a usual customer.
Anselar takes the lead when calling on the Diosos as everyone is still in their 100 year old fashions and he is the only one that Tacito knows. Remy soon reveals who she is and is welcomed with open arms. Tacito is eager to have her take up her old room, provide her with
The Dusk Market affords the opportunity to make some interesting contacts. The group enters separately as Coraline is trying to keep a low profile and Zim and Morgram are not the most subtle of people.
A poison seller tells Coraline and Zim a story of the purple elves that
The Market has all manner of interesting characters selling goods of varying degrees of illicitness. Of particular interest to Zim is The Alchemist (who claims to have met Zingleburpbembledak) and The Alchemist's devil assistant (who will sell the traitorous apprentice's
Arriving back at the Gargling Gargoyle, after their shopping trip, they are greeted by a heated argument. An elf and human woman are disagreeing about a point of historical fact - the elf woman claims to have been there, but the human (Ninatta, an agent of the Imperial Ministry of Historical Accuracy) sticks to her guns. The group splits their attentions.
Coraline learns that Ninatta's job is to make sure that the correct history is spread amongst the populace. Sometimes the experts find out
Morgram, Zim and Remy talk to the elf. It comes to light that she has been waiting for them. She is interested in people who have very old things and she was the buyer of their old platinum from Hanvex. She is eager to have them drink her special "elf drink". Morgram downs it, and Zim follows after checking and feeling fairly sure it is not poisonous (he has no idea). Remy eventually joins them in the drink.
When Anselar and Coraline eventually join them, they decline the drink. (Coraline is flabbergasted that the rest would do otherwise). Anselar blatantly pours his into a beer and hands it to the elf. She drinks it without hesitation. (They later determine that it is holy water). She is not forthcoming with any other information.
The next day, the group picks up their new clothes in the current fashion.
They go to the Dioso manor and the cleric of Abidar participates in the authentication of Remy's confirmation of nobility. At least one of the group is legitimate nobility in the present. Zim's sparkling personality earns him the ire of the cleric.
The time for the meeting with the Palaveen is at hand and they cross the water for, what seems like, the dozenth time.
Remy tries tease out some information from Palaveen, but he seems poorly connected. She consults with the group, but Palaveen spots riders approaching and cries that they have been betrayed. He immediately reveals that he had similar ideas as the "devil dogs" and mummies spring from hiding.
Battle ensues. The group is mostly in favour of eliminating Palaveen, but make it clear that the other Bastards are not their enemies. It
Palaveen's second is eager to deal, but the group shoos the Bastards off, as it becomes clear that the riders are the Children of Westcrown, coming to save the day again. The Children are placated and the group heads off to talk to their new consultant, Merisiel.
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 1]
Session 5: "I suck in my gut. ... It IS you!!"
The group (The 4601s henceforth) and Children of Westcrown decide to split into smaller groups and head back to the Children's hideout.
The Children try to be diplomatic in their requests to have the 4601s not use their (decoy) front door and to instead use the sewers.
After some discussion the 4601s decide to take a boat around the Wall and land near Delvehaven, They will take a look at this old Pathfinder lodge, enter the sewers, find some goblins to quell and join the Children in time for evening drinks. (Zim is heard to say, several times, that Fireday is always the best day) They are very confident after having defeated Palaveen earlier.
Delvehaven has been barred, although it would not take much effort to bypass the outer wall. Knowing the sorts of people that join the Pathfinders, Anselar looks for the telltale aura of magical traps. He finds many. Rocks are thrown and mage hand is liberally used to spring the traps. They seem to generate a capturing bubble and then fill with spiders. Nasty!
Coraline, heartily sick of the time wasting, stalks off. Zim follows her after it becomes clear that all the traps are the same. Sooo boooring.
The sewers are as expected - dark and smelly. Zim says that if they wait no more than 4 or 5 days he can probably whip something up to help with the stench. Or there's always smelling salts.
The 4601s slowly move towards the hideout, without encountering the song of a single goblin. They do, however, find that the shadowbeast are not just a rumour.
Three of the beasts attack. Close quarters, bad luck, occasionally insubstantial and always magic-resistant enemies nearly prove the undoing of the group. Anselar slings spells with mixed success. Remy maneuvers to deal death with her polearm. Coraline weaves between the beasts to attack the from behind with a poisoned blade. Morgram distracts them with his antics and heals the wounded. Zim wades in with his mutagen-fueled flail.
The beasts' hits leave behind shadowstuff that harms our heroes, but they do eventually prevail.
Crawling out of the sewers the 4601s take the surface roads to the hideout. The Children are clearly put out at the use of this non-secret route, yet again. After a little talk regarding the Bastards and Merisiel (and Yakopulio's first, impromtu, alchemy lesson) the 4601s head to their favourite haunt, The Gargling Gargoyle.
They meet some new patrons: Armon Rosala, Delilee Ciucci, Sascar Tilernos, Ailyn Ghontasavos. Remy plies Ailyn with drinks - she knows
The next day Coraline decides to renew her family ties and they head to the mayors home.
Crosael Simiin Rasdovain, the Arvanxi Majordomo, takes Coraline's claim in stride. She sends for the group's old friend, Vuiper Ghival (cleric of Abadar), to verify, but proceeds as if it is true. Pegging Remy, Morgram and Zim as servants, she has them wait in a separate room while talking to Coraline and Anselar.
Zim manages to behave for 5 whole minutes before opening doors. The first is a washroom, with a touch-activated running-water sink. It gets very wet. The toilet turns out to be a magical incinerator and Zim loses all track of time.
Coraline is finally being treated in, something approaching, the manner she expects. The majordomo offers every amenity and acts with appropriate deference.
The whole group is led on a tour of the house. It is astounding. Astonishing indoor gardens and magnificent water features are just the
The mayor is eventually available. He is enthusiastic and clearly not as well-schooled in the niceties as Crosael. While his greeting of Coraline is pleasant, when introduced to Morgram, he charges out of the room. He quickly returns with a group portrait. It is the cast of the original Six Trials of Larazod. (The play that Morgram barely escaped with his life. The one he actively encourages people not to audition for). After Morgram adjusts the evidence of his good living, the mayor declares that he is, indead, Morgram the Magnificent.
The Mayor may be the world's greatest opera fan. To Crosael's chagrin, he gives Coraline only the barest amount of attention and focuses instead on Morgram. He is backing the latest Six Trials and will ensure that Morgram has the lead. Any changes that Morgram wishes will, of course, be made to happen.
Eventually everyone is led to rooms, but restricted to only certain areas of the house.
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 2]
Anselar left his companions behind to run a couple of errands. That, and he could only take so much close contact with other people, having spent much of his childhood alone in his studies or in the companionship of his tutor. Frankly, the concept of friends... or even companions... was a disconcerting notion to Anselar.
First on his list was a stop at Mister Jensen's Exchange. Anselar inquired about the purchase of a Hat Of Disguise. Though there is not one currently in Jensen's stock, Anselar asked that Jensen keep his eyes open for one. Jensen told Anselar that he may know a friend of a friend, but won't have an answer for a day or two. Jensen brought up some wares that Anselar might be interested in, and indeed Anselar was. After perusing what Jensen did have available, or readily accessible, Anselar quietly resolved to pay a visit to both Ghival and Hanvex, as he is still feeling a little bit naked being so long removed from his family's magical laboratories and resources, as well as his volumes of notes. A number of items Jensen mentioned would go a long way towards alleviating this feeling. Leaving without purchasing anything, Anselar made his way back out into the city.
That chore completed, he began to ask around for a library or repository of public records. While most noble families had records of their own, that sort of thing was also tracked by the imperial bureaucracy, which was based primarily in the Korradath. Not wanted another boat trip right away, Anselar decided to try another tack.
A few inquiries around town revealed that Ninatta Jeggare was available and happy to make time to speak to members of the Chelish nobility, and that appointments could be made with her secretary in the Korradath. Rolling his eyes, Anselar decided it was time to head to the Gargling Gargoyle.
After getting a glass of something strong from Deran, Anselar sat near the door and hoped for some shadow creature activity. A disturbance outside had him springing from his seat and looking eagerly through a peephole, but it was only a few truly enormous cockroaches knocking over a trash bin. Disappointed, he sat back down.
On the other hand, Lieutenant Mufecci was in the Gargoyle again that evening, and she looked up and smiled at him. Perhaps the night wasn't a complete loss after all.
Session 6: "I haven't had a bath in a hundred years."
The 4601s spend the night in the mayoral mansion.
Remy's new halfling servant, Giama, finds a house servant to ask about her duties. She finds an out of the way room and decides to make it her new home. The mayor shows off the renovations he is doing in the attic - an opera house. He is carefule to make sure that the group stays away from certain dangerous areas; most notably the site of the former prison - filled with traps and dangerous beasts. He has locked and sealed it.
The group is quite eager to clear it out for him.
Coraline is offered the vice-mayorship but is discouraged by the contract that she would have to sign. It seems there is a dangerous magical device, powered by a devil, connected to the mansion and the mayor is responsible for maintaining it in some way.
The morning heralds a busy day.
Zimburchem sends a letter to the Hellknights' leader, asking for information about Areal's incarceration. He hopes that the mayoral messenger will lend some weight to the request.
The group meets the dungeon keeper and leader of the tiefling maintenance crew, all who live in the mansion's dungeon area.
They also visit the Diosos, the Bastards and take a trip into the sewers again.
Tacito Dioso speaks to Remy, alone, about the current state of the Council of Thieves. He will arrange a meeting with the Council member who may have been working with the Bastards.
The Bastards are under new management and seem to be actively recruiting. Although, they seem to wish to keep to their all-tiefling theme. They plan to continue with business as usual, though. The 4601s are split as to how to handle this. The human nobles are content to let it continue, whereas Zim and Morgram sympathise, but want to find them an alternative.
The 4601s arrange to hire a group of the Bastards to help them clear out the area in the mayor's home. They also play a few hands of poker. Remy is at a serious disadvantage because her bodyguard, Ayanda, is her tell.
They go back into the sewers and encounter another otyugh and two shadow beasts. These beasts are different than those encountered earlier. They cause fear in almost all of the group - worst in Ayanda. There seems to be good reason that people are afraid of the streets at night. On the plus side, the group is beginning to learn how to work together - not bad for a bunch of spoiled nobles.
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 3]
The 4601s round out their day by laying in supplies for the push into the mayor's pocket-dimension ex-dungeon. They also arrange for the equipment to pay the Bastards who will accompany them.
They spend the night at the mayoral mansion.
In the morning there is a lavish breakfast. The mayor (with Coraline's prompting) has also prepared dungeon-crawling gift bags, as only the nobility can - loaded with utilitarian goodies, each bag worth more than many will see in several years.
They head to the attic, where they are told that the trapping spells have been suppressed. One-by-one they enter.
The entry hall is dominated by columns of fire - Zim is fascinated.
A howl rings out from the other end of the hall, behind a door. One of the Bastards is able to see through walls once a day and they use this to see past this first door. Three howlers lie in wait beyond. The group prepares themselves and rush in.
Coraline puts one to sleep with a poison laden dagger and a short battle ensues. The enemies dispatched before the whole group can clear the doorway.
The howlers have been guarding a library of books on less than savoury topics - mostly torture.
Moving on, they encounter an Escher room. A stairway runs around the outer edge, meeting itself at the top and bottom. The centre of the room has no roof or floor that can be seen. Zim throws something into the pit, which disappears. A little while later it falls from the ceiling.
As they enter the room two creatures enter through the wall. Their touch drains strength and they are a tough fight. The group tries to retreat, but everyone is trying to cover everyone else's escape and the fight drags on. 2 more creatures appear and then later, two more.
They eventually realise that as long as they stay in the room, this will continue.
During the fight, Morgram falls into the pit. Fredo, the tiefling who can levitate, tries to stage a rescue as Morgram falls past the stairs for the third time, but the dwarf is able to catch himself on this pass.
Running down an exit hallway, they find a rickety bridge over part of a pit and hallway continuing on the other side. There is much leaping and rigging of ropes and everyone makes it safely across.
Deeper in now, bloodied and with many resources already used, they press on...
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 3]
Session 8: "How about an apple?
The large group soon finds themselves in a corridor lined with doors with barred slots - a prison. Anselar strides ahead and is paralyzed by a trap.
Most of the prisoners have been dead for a quite some time. However, two remain: a bearded devil and an elf. These two have not bonded over their mutual discomfort. Taunting or cursing each other seems to be their only remaining source of amusement.
The elf is one of the thieves who was given the opportunity to leave if he could obtain the "key" in the middle of the "lake". He made a deal with one of the devil guards who told him a way to cheat. The mayor of the day was none too happy and locked him up.
Both are eager for any sort of stimulation, and to get out.
The 4601's are loath to free them, but do trade food and minor items for information. There is a creature in a lake of mud who guards the key. At least there was a creature (and a key) the last time they saw it. the 4601s also get the key to the strange Escher rooms: stepping on different staircases opens different doors. These doors lead to more rooms and this is how one traverse the demi-plane.
Keeping to one side will lead to a vault, the other to the lake.
They also discover that each of the cells can have it's back wall made transparent from the outside. The occupant cannot see out, but observers can see in. The bearded devil appears to have a very special glaive. Remy is intrigued.
They continue, encountering a group of undead, living (residing?) in a mud cistern. Malatina and Coraline are briefly paralyzed by this ghoulish family, but they are soon overwhelmed by superior numbers.
Noticing that there is a tube that leads away from this pit, Zimburchem wants to take a slide down it. The group decides to rest for a while, but then it's Zims away! Zim quickly loses control, ricocheting the rest of the way down. The rest of the group decides that it would be better to descend with the help of a rope.
From the distance, they hear something that only Morgram considers singing. They encounter another devil, tangled in chains that extend up and down into the darkness. Morgram makes a virtuoso performance; blending his voice in a way that the devil, at least, finds pleasing. Their encounter is quite civil. The devil, Chemosh, requests that they ask the new mayor to come and visit him. They aslo learn that the power provided by the bound devil in the mayor's manor is funneled through the chains that Chemosh maintains.
They part ways, finding the extended network of Escher rooms. With the help of Fredo, the levitating tiefling, they are able to activate the desired doors (as instructed by the prisoners) without much fuss. However, as they begin to traverse these rooms, some hear the far off sounds of battle.
Rushing back, as fast as the changing door mechanisms will allow, they quickly reach Chemosh's room. Chemosh is locked in battle, with someone who appears to be the mayor. None of the group believe this illusion for a moment - it is a tiefling who has been following them, unseen. They rush to the aid of Chemosh - some from a feeling of cameraderie and some to prevent damage to the power conduit.
She fights and trys to escape. Although she comes quite close to making her way back up the tube/slide, she is caught.
She is a shadowdancer who is gathering information on how to cut the devil's power, for a client. The Bastards offer her a job and the 4601s try to decide what to do with yet another person to watch.
Aremcesca "Remy" Dioso [Aristocrat 1 / (Pole-Arm) Fight 3]
Session 9: Oh wait, Iana leveled...
The group takes Sian (the Shadowdancer) to talk to Chemosh. There is some discussion of whether (and how) to dispose of her - Zim favours throwing her down the chain-filled hole, but Chemosh would prefer that his conduit not be poluted. There is some confusion as to who made what deal, but Chemosh cuts to the chase, "Explain why we shouldn't kill you." Suddenly Sian remembers who hired her.
In hopes that the 4601s will let her flee the city (or at least not do her in right away) she reveals that Chammady Drovenge is her employer and that she is convinced that Chammady will be (homicidally) less than pleased at being revealed. This is the second time Chammady has crossed their path.
They decide to lock her in one of the cells until they are ready to leave. They traverse the maze.
Reaching one of edges, they find a room with a spiral staircase that seems to flicker and not be completely real. Fredo is nominated to see what is at the top. What to do in case his foot becomes stuck in a re-appearing step is discussed, but he will just levitate and pull himself along. The top of the staircase simply ends with no apparent doors (or secret doors).
They move on and find a room with three doors marked with symbols of a glaive, book and holy symbol. Each door opens into an identical room to the first. They cannot exist in real space as they would all overlap.
Morgram is has a safety line tied to him and steps through the book door. He sees a vision of the first room, with everyone in it. Bored, Zimburchem enters the glaive door and sees a vision of the bearded devil's cell. He exits and enters the symbol door, seeing a lake of thick, yellowish mud.
Morgram, in the book door's room, steps through that room's book door. He appears in the first room and the rope is severed. Fairly sure that they have figured out this teleporting room, they decide to explore some more.
They find a trapped door, but do not believe that they can disarm it without setting it off. In a side room, they encounter a mummy that nearly kills a number of the group (helped by Zim's badly thrown bombs).
Wounded and tired, they resolve to leave and return in the morning. They pick up Sian on the way back to the fire column atrium. They realise that they do not have the key which will open the exit. Sian offers to try extinguishing the columns of fire, but the consensus is that this will be a bad idea. Iana, with the practice she has had in the Knot, is eventually able to activate the exit.
Guards and the cleric, from earlier in the day, greet them. They take Sian into custody and run everyone through a round of dispelling. Zimburchem makes a nuissance of himself and is angrily rebuked by the cleric. The mayor has provided Mind Shielding rings so that 4601s will not reveal anything that they have seen. After the 4601s protest, invoking the mayor's promise, the Bastards are not arrested, but rather also provided with rings.
Tracking down the (intoxicated) mayor in the Gargling Gargoyle, Coraline secures funds for the promised healing. Everyone is mostly healed and restored. They lay in some supplies. Deciding that they can take on some of the Knot in the morning, before going to the Auditons for the Six Trials of Larazod, they return to the mayoral mansion to rest.
They return to the Knot, stopping along the way to give the prisoners some small care packages. At the trapped door, Anselar blocks the corridor with an iron door from a Robe of Useful Items and has an Unseen Servant do the dangerous work. After the resulting explosion, they enter the large chamber beyond the doors.
They encounter a large, tentacled, multi-armed monster, with two companions, in a cavernous room that is mostly covered in pools of filth. Blinded early in the fight, the monster is less effective than it would otherwise be and the group manages to prevail. They clear out the treasures of the room and dredge the filth.
With auditions looming, they leave the Knot.
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 3]
Session 10: Yooboodoo and the rotten tomato.
This was when I first met them, the 4601s (I don't know who coined that awful name, but it is the one that has stuck). Of course, at the time, I was just starting out. I could barely contain my excitement at meeting THE Morgram the Magnificent. But you didn't pay to hear about me; you want to hear about them. So, by this time, some of us had heard tell of people who seemed to be shaking things up. Misinformation abounded, making it difficult to know if any of it was real.
Some of this was pieced together afterwards, but most I got straight from the source: the gnome was very open if you could keep him interested and Aremcesca was a sucker for a party and a pretty girl.
The auditions for the mayor's revival of the Six Trials of Larazod attracted an entire cross-section of society. From greengrocers to aristocrats and former stage stars to a pungent goblin. The process was certainly different than I expected.
Every part's trial was accompanied by the hurling of rotten tomatoes or insults or large weighted objects on ropes. Morgram, of course, easily won the role of Larazod and Anselar flung magic missiles at the director.
The most surprising thing was the audition of a goblin, Yooboodoo (yes, that Yooboodoo). Believe it or not, nobody knew her name, then. To be honest, her audition was mediocre, but the 4600s started the chant of her name and secured her a spot in the cast. You can't blame them, how could they know what they were setting into motion.
Intensive rehearsal began the very next day.
Lady Fire Eyes did not audition. I can't say that I am sorry for that. She looked at me once - I wanted nothing more than for a large section of ceiling to crush me right then. I found out later that she and Anselar, who was not in the play (for some reason the director did not appreciate being attacked with magic) had found another situation to amuse themselves.
One of the Children of Westcrown worked in the Korradath, it was full of bureaucrats' offices and lodgings for visiting nobles. Underneath, though, it held a secret. But I'm jumping ahead.
This man, whose name was always kept secret (I have suspected that they just couldn't remember it) went to Coraline...sorry, Lady Arvanxi with a problem. He had discovered that one of his co-workers was embezzling money. If he could prove it, and bring in the culprit, he would be assured of a promotion ... or, at least a better office.
The Child led Lady Fire Eyes, Lord Harth and a band of Bastards of Erebus into the Korradath. Searching the culprit's office, the found a secret set of rooms, reachable through the old dumbwaiter system.
They had to fight through hordes of undead, the bureaucrat constantly jumping into battle to earn himself some glory, but constantly failing.
They finally reached the room with the final room, containing the embezzler, a devil and various minions. A ceremony to Mammon in process. The group of heroes (and, of course, I mean that in the classical sense) put an end to their activities after a grueling fight, but only because they had the sense not to test their mettle against the devil. After realising that they will not be allowed to simply leave with the amassed gold, they declare victory and leave.
Yes, you will recognise this as one of the early incidents related in my opus, The Machinations of Mammon. Perhaps I will perform that for you if you listen attentively to this story.
Ah, but now back to that infamous revival of the Trials of Larazod...
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 3]
Session 11: "Act taller!"
Rehearsals began in earnest for the group. Of course, their great talent could not be contained and rumours began to make it to the public. Many new fans arrived to greet them as each day's rehearsal ended.
Things were not uneventful away from the stage - Zimburchem had an unexpected nocturnal visitor. In the middle of the night, a woman, dressed in red with white fur-lining burst through his window. She fired a bolt at him, missed and left through the window again. The guards were unable to find her.
At breakfast, Coraline remembered a group of assassins who had dressed in a similar manner. The mayor was worried about the breach of his security, but everyone else took it in stride.
The rehearsals went well - Morgram was in his element, both on the stage and off. The throng of fans outside conveniently supplied him with a companion for the evening, an eager young dwarf. By choice, Morgram had steered clear of dwarves since fleeing his homeland, so this was somewhat surprising.
Staying classy, he decided to leave her halfway through the night. He was picked up by the Dottari on the way back to the mayor's manor but, being Morgram, was able to talk his way out of jail.
Remy and Zim decided to have a slumber party. These two had an unusual relationship. Under normal circumstances they should never have been friends but, thrown together by a mutual affection for Morgram, they had forged a strange bond. Zim hoped for the return of his midnight assassin, but was disappointed. Remy kept him from doing something crazy. No small feat.
While the other three walked the boards, Coraline and Anselar, received a visit from Malatina of the Bastards. They had received an encoded letter addressed to the (deceased) ex-leader of the Bastards, but none of them knew the code.
The 4600s applied their considerable skill (and the library) to the message and cracked it. Apparently, it was a demand that the Bastards deal with a group who had splintered from the cult of Mammon. They had to retrieve the sect's holy symbols or face death themselves. Since Lady Fire Eyes seemed to have her own plans for the group of larcenous tieflings, they decided to help.
Remembering that there were two old temples to the devil in the derelict northen part of the town, they headed off to try to find which might be the current hideout.
One of the tieflings, Dom, or Pom, or something like that found the entrance with his newly learnt magical skills, seeing the telltale glow of a magical trap. To hear them talk about it, this made it all the more tragic when he foolishly got himself killed.
But first, they disabled the alarm trap on the door. Sneaking in, they surprised one of the cult, but his compatriots soon heard the fighting and joined.
These were no ordinary cultists. They had made some sort of deal with devils. Each was able to shrug off massive wounds, but they were able to be killed. However, as each drew his last breath, a quasit emerged fromtheir bodies. Ready for a fight. Our heroes were victorious, but for the Bastards it was pyrrhic. Pom had been killed.
They left with their hard-won prizes.
Anselar Harth [Aristocrat 1 / (Sage) Sorcerer 3]
It was nearly show day, and the performers prepared for the dress rehearsal of the Six Trials of Larazod. In the morning they had a final run-through, and it was Yooboodoo's last chance to convince Robahl that she should be allowed to kill a chicken on stage as Drovalid entered. She failed to do so.
Lunch at the Bottomless Keg was again eventful, as enthusiasm for the show and its performers continued to rise. Morgram (playing Drovalid) and Calseinica (playing Ilsandra) indulged heavily in the free drinks.
Morgram's stalker, Adamus d’Maio, was waiting for him in his dressing room after lunch. Morgram planted some mixed messages in Adamus's head, who went off in search of the dwarf woman who'd slept with Morgram a couple of nights earlier.
Yooboodoo had invited some of her tribemates from the Wisecrusher goblins to the dress rehearsal, and they were present in flamboyant fashion (though bitter that they had been unable to bring their goblin dogs with them). Overall, the dress rehearsal was an amazing success in spite of the inebriation levels of Morgram and Calseinica. Robahl was so happy that he told each of the principals that they could have a comp ticket to the big night.
Morgram invited the nice vampire hunter they'd met the previous week, Vahnwynne Malkistra. Calseinica invited Anselar Harth. Nalia (the half-elf prostitute playing Tybain) invited her madam from the Dusk Market, Liiresta. Yooboodoo invited King Whitechin. Zimberchem (playing Dentris) invited Janiven.
Meanwhile, Anselar and Coraline were out doing some shopping near the docks, when they saw some trouble. A shipping container containing a rock troll had smashed, and was causing trouble. A squad of wounded Dottari and a squad of wounded Hellknights were arguing with each other over jurisdiction. While they were each telling the other to back off, it was clear that they'd each already tried their luck against the troll and failed.
Anselar and Coraline were reluctant to get involved, but some nearby peasants who knew them (Fiosa and Sclavo from the Children of Westcrown, and Zuka from the Bastards of Erebus) jollied them along. Finally the group ran in and took out the rock troll, leaving the injured Dottari and Hellknights to continue their argument.
(I am dispensing with the conceit of a future storyteller retelling the story)
Session 13: "Never say the name of the Taldane play"
Show night arrived. The venue for the actual performance was much larger than the dress rehearsal had been.
While the performers and stage hands prepared backstage, Coraline and Anselar found their seats. Coraline, as the great aunt of the mayor, had her own box, while Anselar had to make do with his comp'ed seat near the back. His companions included the tardy chief of the Wisecrusher ("Wisecrusher!) goblins, who caused a bit of a stir when he arrived.
Coraline's companion was the much more fetching and mysterious Merisiel (consultant to the Children of Westcrown). There had been some doubt as to whether she would make an appearance, but it seemed that she really had not been avoiding the heroes. The nature of the invitation seemed to have been miscommunicated, but both were models of pleasant discourse.
The show began.
Larazod (played by Morgram), Dentris (played by Zimburchem) and Tybain kneeled, chained before the Council (including Remy as chorus- and council member).
The play proceeds through the condemnation and trials of Larazod and his companions. Morgram delivers a consistently wonderful performance across the acts, by anyone else's standards but his own. This falling short of his best is made all the more bitter in that he is outshone at every turn by other performers. Even the amateurs have picked up some skills over the week of rehearsal and don't detract from the stars.
This high bar means that the audience is well pleased at each act break. At each of these, a local opera star sings padding the play and giving the performers a few minutes to recover, time for the crew to strike and set the stage and for any permanent cast changes to be made. Necessary changes during an act are handled with illusion magic and substitutions from the Council/chorus/understudies.
The first act sets the stage and introduces most of the main players. Casualties are not a problem.
The second act sees the entrance of Yooboodoo, the goblin, enthusiastically playing the torturer, Drovalid. Tied to the lovechild of a rack and iron-maiden, Morgram endures the bulk of the lashes doled out by Yooboodoo. However, there is a wicked slash that strikes Haanderthan at the perfect moment in the dialogue. The act break sees a modicum of healing given to the actors before the curtain rises again.
The third act brings the Trial by Pleasure. The play calls for the administration of creatures that burrow under the skin eliciting great pleasure. Unfortunately, the creatures tat are actually used cause a fair amount of pain and damage. The cast manages to deliver their performances, but there are some moments when it seems that some won't survive.
Act Four is the Trial in the Belly of the Beast. This is where Morgram made his escape during the original staging a hundred years ago. Somehow, they had found the original Beast from that show - a large sphere, with a fair amount of acid in it, attached to a razor covered tube, disguised as the throat of the Beast. After some attempts at equivocation, all of Larazod's group clamber into the Beast which is then upended. They struggle to clamber out and help each other, while avoiding acid and dealing with the nausea of acidic fumes. Suddenly Zimburchem remembers the levitate wand is his wrist sheath. One by one he lifts them to safety (as the wizard, Dentris this seems appropriate). Nobody is killed, but one cast member is rendered unconscious.
They consume what healing and restoration they can before the next act. Nalia is too traumatised to continue, but a dash of mind altering magic has her forgetting the few preceding minutes and so the show goes on without the understudy.
The next act is the Birthing Trial. Some actor's manage to pocket the alchemical 'egg' that they must all swallow, while some send it down the hatch without hesitation. Those who consume it are violently ill, spewing a vile black liquid onto the ground in front of them. Some actors manage to provide substitutes. The 'magic of the theatre' summons a monster for each to fight. Remy jumps in to help her companions when it becomes clear that they will need her to survive.
Patching themselves up as best as they are able, they wonder what the reality of the Trail by Combat and Love will be.
...and Morgram stubbornly refuses to tell Zimburchem the name of the Taldane play that is supposed to be unlucky... Something with an 'M'...
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat 1/ninja 5)
All played various NPC's. Anselar's player's 'Nalia-playing-the-sultry-Ilsandra' is truly a sight to behold.
In the intermission between acts five and six, Robahl stormed into the green room and shouted at the chorus and demanded that they leave the spotlight to the principals. He then rushed off to prepare for the finale.
Act Six: Trial by Combat and Love brought two troll skeletons acting the roles of bone devils. They seemed focused on Morgram, but once the title character was down they lost their focus and attacked whoever was nearby. Calseinica died before they were brought low. While Morgram was unconscious, his stalker, Adamus, rushed the stage and grabbed his body, desperately trying to revive him. Millech was heard cursing backstage, and covered this with an illusion. During this act a Sister of Eisith pretended to be part of the show and shot at Zimburchem, but Coraline Arvanxi left her place in one of the boxes and chastised the assassin, who sat back down. Anselar Harth, also in the audience, helped out as well. This led to general confusion among the regular audience members as to whether this was unwanted interference, desired audience participation, or clever staging.
The final act went smoothly, though Ulvauno was clearly quite upset that Morgram was up and able to take a bow (albeit badly wounded). Ulvauno didn't show up at the afterparty at the mayoral manor.
Lots of other people did, though. The cast, including the chorus, was feted and able to hobnob with many members of the aristocracy. Lord Dioso even tried to arrange a marriage between Aremcesca and General Vourne, though that didn't go anywhere.
The highlight of the evening was when Adamus, who had been snuck in by Anselar, sang a lengthy ballad to Morgram, professing his love and his desire for marriage. Morgram crawled under the table.
The day after the afterparty is very low key. The group tends to some shopping and other housekeeping (but not hangovers, thanks to Zingleburpbembledak's Gift) "Zingleburpbembledak!!"
The following day they gather to open the Chelish Crux. After a few false starts and some burnt fingers, Coraline takes a crack at it. Zimburchem unveils some truly massive gauntlets to help her and she works out how to crack it.
A telepathic scream greats them as the Crux unrolls, revealing more items than should should fit into its volume: Some wands, candles, scrolls, A ledger, notes and an insane, undead, telepathically screaming head.
After trying to reason with the head, they store it in a Handy Haversack.
Examining the notes, the musician and cryptographers discover a hidden message in a poem (Cygny's Wedding). Most spend hours researching and deciphering the message, while Zimberchem tries to calm the head.
They decide to wait for morning to make their way to the haunting of Anselar's father.
They find the building and attempt to enter. Some are struck by supernatural fear. They recover and, even though they determine that the magical defenses are very strong, they enter the building.
Lord Harth's ghost easily hold's his own against them and berates Anselar for not bringing his betrothed before him. Dragging themselves from this defeat, they resolve to return later.
Zim shares that the Children have had word that Arael has reached the prison island, which has been devastated. They are planning a rescue and he suggests that they make it happen.
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Session 16: Trouble at Deepmar
Suitably chastened, they return to the mayoral mansion and clean themselves up for their dinner with Lord Ghival (the head of the local Bank of Abidar). He arrives with his girlfriend...Chammady Drovenge.
Zim is on his best behaviour and, with everyone running interference, they avoid an incident. However with Ghival's talk of how they might move their home bank to another city, they forget to ask him about curing the screaming head in the bag.
They talk to the mayor about the prison on Deepmar (where Areal has been sent). He has also received word of some problem there and Coraline offers to arrange the investigation for him. He agrees and has his majordomo arrange for passage. They are also asked to take a gift and his greetings to the leader of Kintargo, the nearest city.
Stopping at Corentyn, on the way to Deepmar, most of the group draw their savings from the bank and take the opportunity to pick up some pricey, wishlist items. Remy has been terribly seasick and takes the opportunity to sleep on solid ground.
They make their way to Kintargo and have a pleasant visit with mayor, who ask that they return with a local delicacy, candied sea-creatures. Yum.
They sail to Deepmar.
They arrive in heavy rain. They enter the main camp which is seemingly abandoned. They begin to explore.
Hearing a scream, they rush to, what turns out to be, the kitchen and mess hall. Someone is barricaded in the kitchen and something large is in the attached mess hall trying to get to her.
The large, white, four-armed gorilla challenges the group, but it eventually goes down. The survivor seems to have amnesia which begins from just as something attacked the camp, weeks ago.
Examining the Gorillon, they find a fungal growth on its head. Suspicious, they check the woman from the camp. She seems to be fungas free, but has a fresh scar on the back of her neck and some sort of puncture wound.
Zim is allowed to burn the infected body in an outhouse, but there is concern that everyone may already have been exposed to the spores of the head-fungus. They decide to take shelter, regroup and try to determine what the infection and scar may indicate.
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Session 17: Hi Ho Hi Ho, It's to the mines we go
The compound still holds unexplored buildings.
They escort the cook back to her home and search it. She is somewhat put out, but leaves them to it, as they seem to have authority. They have also determined that she has short-term memory of 10-15 minutes, so they reason that if they upset her, she will just forget it.
She does this for the rest of the time that they are at the camp. They have her write a note to herself, explaining that she has amnesia, but it does not help.
They find some information about the various mines on the island; which have been closed because of infestation, which are currently being mined and some maps.
The last piece of excitement happens in the stables. As they approach, the smell of decay assails them. All of the horses are dead. However, one is still quite feisty. Its shade attacks. Although they defeat it, it does manage to turn Sclavo (the government clerk who is also a Child of Westcrown).
They dispatch Sclavo's shade (some more willingly than others) and bury him at sea. Zim is allowed to cremate the horses, along with the stable and part of the wall.
The next morning, they head to the nearest active mine.
They avoid some assassin vines in the forest near the road and a group of deer and vulture corpses (the deer seemed to have poisoned the vultures). Zim and Remy do note some large bugs in the bodies, but Remy pulls Zim away. The latter kicking and wailing.
Proceeding along the path, they are ambushed by a large group of dire wolves. They are hurt, but manage to dispatch and scare off the pack.
They reach and explore the first mine, without incident or additional clue. All of Morgram's inherent dwarfishness begins to shine through, despite his best efforts to suppress it.
The second active mine seems as if it will be just as uninteresting until they reach the end of the final tunnel. Morgram notices something strange: A hidden door.
The door is opened...
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Session 18: Troll of Rock
They disarm the trap on the other side and continue down the passage, leaving Aremcesca and her bodyguard, Ayanda, behind. Remy is still weak from her bout of seasickness.
Morgram feels that something is wrong via his dwarven senses and they rush back up the tunnel. There has been a cave in that Morgram estimates will take at least a day to clear, with his direction.
They press on down the tunnel, in hopes that there will be another exit or means to clear the rocks from the one that they know about.
Eventually there are voices heard. Zim declares that they're speaking gibberish. Coraline scouts and sees what must be a sizeable cavern which drops down from the tunnel that they are in. There is also something climbing the wall.
She hustles back to the group so that they can face the thing in the dark, a rock troll, together. They know that its weakness is not that of the standard troll, but none can remember what it is.
The troll fills the tunnel, but Morgram belts out a truly horrendous sound (Cacophonous Call) which nauseates the beast, causing it to retreat back down to the cavern floor. However, its companions, small misshapen dwarfish things (derro) begin firing poison/plague tipped crossbow bolts at the group.
Arrows and bolts fly. Two of the remaining guards are afflicted with memory loss (not the best thing for the middle of a skirmish). People climb down ropes and some fall.
Coraline darts amongst the enemy, becoming momentarily invisible before delivering terrifying attacks. Morgram makes himself difficult to focus on and attack with his bardic abilities.
As the derro are whittled down, the troll overcomes its nausea and rejoins the fight. There is desperate repositioning and healing. A pit is taken from a robe of useful items and the last derro falls into it.
Coraline goes down at nearly the same moment as the troll. Morgram rushes to stabilise her and Zim grabs the first candidate for regeneration negating substances from his bag - acid. Thankfully this is effective, and they can regroup.
They struggle to decide whether to begin digging their way out, to rest or to press on. Coraline scout the area, finding a larger cave system and at least one giant centipede.
They decide retrieve Remy and Ayanda, hold up in a side tunnel and hope that they are not discovered. Zim manages to brew up some helpful substances and the guards are brought back to functional levels.
Trapped in a dangerous cave system, after a tense night, they move out...
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Session 19: Arael jerk
Coraline scouts the surrounding caverns and finds, what may be, the hub of activity for the derro. She notes a large cage, hanging from the ceiling, that is piled with semi-conscious bodies. In amongst them, she spots Anselar.
With their immediate course of action clear, the group sets out to free their companion.
First, they must pass through a cavern with two of the derro and their giant centipede mounts. The group surprises them. One derro cannot make it to his mount and even though the other rides his up the walls, some of the group are under the influence of Spider Climb, meeting him on equal footing. They defeat the combatants and skirt around the second centipede (who seems to have little interest in them).
They assault the main lab. The derro, release a flesh golem to aid them and Zimburchem manages to accidentally destroy some of the vials on a table.
The group is victorious and finds a way to lower the cage without further harm to the prisoners. Besides Anselar, the cage contains many of the missing people from the mining camp, including Arael. Unfortunately all seem to be in a fog, due to the ministrations of the derro.
Zim can provide some restoration, bringing Anselar and Arael back up to proper consciousness.
Arael's gratitude is fairly thin and he imperiously attempts to take charge, not realising who he is dealing with. They try to determine what to do with all the docile prisoners...
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Zimburchem speaks with apparent authority, identifying which of the derro's prisoners are guard by their weapon callouses. He administers the antidote to one of these guards to oversee the remaining unconscious prisoners. (Zim is bored by the extended decision making process and picks a plausible way to identify a guard. OOC this is clearly one of the prison colony's prisoners)
Unwilling to leave Anselar's missing heirlooms (and intelligence boosting headband) they decide to explore the rest of the cave system. Coraline scouts, finding a few small rooms and a corridor which must end in a larger room as she hears quite a number of voices coming from it.
They decide to clear out the smaller rooms.
One has a cell containing more people from the colony.
There is another area closed off with bars. The group dispatches the lone derro and two active centipedes, in this pen, without much incident. They beat a hasty retreat when it becomes apparent that the large spheres in the room are centipede eggs that have started to hatch. They lock the pen behind themselves.
Exploring another small room they see a number of large pits. Luckily, they also notice that one of the stalactites in the room is actually some sort of creature.
It is quickly blinded, but knows its surroundings well enough to target a damaging spell that encompasses most of the group. It also releases two loud shouts that attract the attention of the derro in the room down the corridor.
They drop a pit, off of a robe of useful items, to block the room entrance and dispatch the creature. Arael takes it upon himself to rescue some of the people who, it turns out, are being held in the pits. These seem to be genuine prison colony guards (who have also been affected by the toxin).
Derro quickly appear to fight the group. They have readied their ranged weapons, shooting and blinding some the few derro who have appeared. However, one escapes, calling for help and dragging fallen comrades, saying something about having them raised as meat walls.
Having bought themselves a few minutes, they try to come up with a plan. They are very light on arrows, spells and knowledge of their adversaries. How much of a hornets nest have they stirred up? Will their story end in a dark mine in the middle of nowhere?
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Session 21: Mister Fancypants
They discuss their inventory of useful items, magics left, relative health and brainstorm ideas.
Zim hands over, to Coraline, an invisibility infusion and a potion that will detect thinking minds. Coraline will scout while the rest cross the pit and prepare, including explaining (again) to Remy where she is. Anselar tries to make the pants that he has borrowed from Morgram look presentable.
Coraline finds 4 Derro in the outer cavern and a horrific lab in the inner cavern.
This inner sanctum of the leader of the derro, houses the zombiefied rock troll that they faced earlier, along with two corpses of the derro. The leader, some kind of necromancer(possibly) is preparing the bodies. One is on a table with arms that move on command. There is also something with a thinking mind under some clothing, in a corner, and a woman who is chained to a wall. She has been extensively infected with the fungus that is the basis for the derros' poison.
Coraline also spots Anselar's backpack.
She decides to make the attempt to grab it. Her timing and stealth are up to the challenge. Deciding not to push her luck she rushes back to the group. Anselar is very glad to have some of his possesions returned to him. (Unfortunately these do not include his pants).
As the outer room Derro are near the door, and Coraline is still invisible, they quickly devise a successful tactic. The group will sneak to a point where they can rush in (under the effects of a Haste from Morgram), Coraline will drop a smokestick at the entrance and they can be on the Derro before they can fire their poisoned crossbows. The plan works flawlessly.
Quickly regrouping, they decide to draw the inhabitants of the other room into the joining corridor, then deploy another Robe of Useful Items pit to slow them and possibly trap one of these enemies.
They all rush through the hairpin, descending corridor to the entrance, not having properly discussed who would be drawing out the foes. This causes Coraline to almost commit to immediate melee, thinking that the party has abandoned the plan. Aremcesca manages to quickly convey that she is only providing for a safe retreat and disaster is (mostly) averted.
Unfortunately the hotheaded Olveria has overextended herself and finds herself unconscious in the first few seconds of combat. The figure under the pile of clothes is a Chelaxian soldier with a prominent fungal growth on his head. He, with the zombie-troll are formidable.
The rest are able to retreat, as planned, with the soldier blinded by Zim's bomb and the pit placed in the corridor. Anselar, sporting his re-aquired headband that boosts his already staggering intellect and (still) Morgram's spare pants, unleashes a devastating fireball.
They regroup at the top of the corridor, ready to unleash whatever they have left on these formidable foes. Zim and Fiosa (the small members of the group) spend some time dragging a table to the rear of the group, to use as a platform for seeing over the heads of all the 'tall' people. A noise and grunt is heard from around the corner. When the table is in place and the enemy still has not shown their faces (all of half a minute) Zim declares that it is taking too long and begins to head back down.
Aremcesca is able to delay him for a few moments, but his impatience takes over. He hustles to the edge of the pit, seeing the soldier has fallen in and that the others are out of sight in the room. He takes a shot at the soldier, missing. However, the necromancer(?) appears to unleash a lightening bolt and the troll makes a charging leap over the pit, slamming him backwards.
Zim decides that this may not be the best place for him and runs back to the group.
They find themselves on the wrong end of another lightening bolt and a large troll-zombie. Coraline delivers a drow-poison laden blow that is too much for the head derro and Anselar's magic is the nail in the coffin of the troll.
Realising that there might be active undead who would attack the chained prisoner, absent other instruction, the rush back down. There are impressive leaps over the pit, by all who attempt them except for Ayanda, who slams into the side and has to defend herself from the blind soldier.
Coraline strays to close to the table covered in arms and is grappled and begins to be strapped down. She deftly slips these bonds with the moves of a master escape artist.
They manage to subdue the skeletons (one the fresh corpse of Olveria) and save the chained woman. Unfortunately the fungus has spread and taken root in such a manner that she is too far gone to save.
However, the soldier, the prison warden, is still in an early enough stage to save.
They gather up whatever useful and valuable items that they can find (including some very interesting alchemical substances for Zimburchem) and return to the first group of rescued prisoners. 12 of the 15 are dead and the 'guard' is nowhere to be found.
They gather up the remaining prisoners and guards from the various caverns and head to the cave-in to begin digging their way out.
The cave-in has been cleared...from the outside.
They go back to the fort and leave when their hired ship returns, taking all the survivors back to the mainland. As Arael arrived at the colony after the main abduction, he is able to return with the group with none the wiser.
They look forward to a restful journey home.
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Session 22: Cat's in the Cradle
The voyage home is fairly uneventful. Remy is seasick again, Zim is studying and brewing potions. Coraline celebrates her birthday on board - The officers and crew put on a show and the sailors receive an extra grog ration.
Upon their arrival at the mayoral manor, Morgram is greeted by a stack of letters. All have been opened, but this has not been hidden, out of respect for dwarven culture.
He exclaims at some and is speechless for others. His stalker will be returning in days, having completed his geas (finding Zingleburp Bembledak - Zim's apprentice). That day will also be Morgram's birthday party he hands a request list to the majordomo.
He has also received a letter from lawyers who are persuing ways to retrieve a hundred year's worth of Six Trials of Larazod royalties. They have been paid to his ex-wife. (Also, his marriage was never officially annuled)
And just one more thing....Morgram has a daughter. She is also a performer and believes that he is an imposter.
After musing over the possible implications of all this news, the group discusses ideas for dealing with the ghost of Anselar's father.
Leaving the decision to Anselar, they put his top choice into action: He will ask his fiance's family to allow him to raise her from the grave, satisfying his father's wishes and, hopefully, sending him on to the afterlife. They have learned that she died a few years after they were put into stasis, after she became an adherent of Desna.
Anselar and his entourage arrive at the gates of the fiance's family estate, only to be rebuffed as they have not made an appointment. They agree to return in the afternoon.
Anselar presents his idea to the great-(x a few) grand nephew, who is the current head of the household. He is very pleasant, but asks what Anselar plans to do about the fact that she would have a stronger claim on the family than the current head. This had not occured to Anselar.
They both agree to investigate the issue and meet again in a week. After some small talk the group leaves.
Remy is visited in the night by Chamady. She gives Remy a few assignments - including guarding the abandoned Pathfinder lodge for one day in the near future. She also tells Remy that the fiance's family has increased the guards on their crypt. Chamady offers to retrieve the body, but when Remy goes to ask Anselar he refuses.
The next day they investigate the second choice: Trick Lord Harth's ghost into thinking that the wedding has taken place or hold a fake one in front of him. Morgram and Coraline visit the bank manager/cleric and ask him if this will work. After some studying, his opinion is that it will not work.
Independently, Zim checks with Fiosa and Arael. They come to the same conclusion. They do manage to proseletise to him about Iomedae. He also hands Arael a bag of cash to buy himself a basement lab and crash pad in Arael's inn/tavern.
With their first plans coming to naught, they decide to change tack. They will destroy the ghost, retrieve his remains and ressurect him. Perhaps if he has another shot at life, he will give up his obsession with Anselar's marriage.
They research, equip and prepare. Coraline has a Ghost Touch weapon, Remy is able to find one for sale and Zimburchem is able to construct a spagyric version of a longsword for Ayanda (Remy's bodyguard). They all wear spoked goggles to resist his gaze and Coraline goes as far as having herself deafened to make herself immune to his moan.
They confront the ghost, Anselar tells him the plan, under the effects of Abidar's Truth Telling (from a scroll purchased for this purpose) in hopes that his father wil not fight them.
They manage to convince him and the ghost attempts to suppress his natural urge to fight them. His success is sporadic and one strike comes close to killing Anselar, but they prevail. They also make short work of the giant spider in the adjacent room.
They retrieve Lord Harth's remains and find a way to transport the treasures that are in the building.
They discuss who they will hire to read the scroll to resurrect him.
Fiosa is confident that, after the experiences they have had, that she can handle channeling the energies of the scroll. So, they head to the Gargling Gargoyle, empty at this time of day, and resurrect Lord Harth.
He is less than impressed with the state of the Harth House in general and Anselar in particular. He is handsome and urbane(and not especially modest) and Coraline seems somewhat interested in him - whether this is genuine or simply noble flirtation is still to be seen.
They have made sure that Lord Harth has a room at the Gargoyle and Anselar decides to inform Darvino Rosala that they will not need to follow through on the proposed plan to resurrect his great- (x many) aunt (Sandrine).
As they approach the house, Armon Rosala and his guards race towards them. Anselar has killed his father and stolen Sandrine's body - at least this is what he thinks. Anselar disappears before they can lay their hands on him.
They try to convince Armon that Anselar could not have done what he thinks he did, but he does not seem to believe them. They invite him to Morgram's party to talk it out, but suspect that he will be spoiling for a duel.
It is getting late to be traveling the streets, but the eventually make it back to the mayor's mansion without encountering any Dottari our shadow beasts.
Lord Harth is there, in conference with the mayor. Coraline casually passes near the door, but neither catches their attention, nor manages to hear their conversation. Harth is given a room in the mansion.
The next day is Morgram's birthday party. Vuiper Ghival contacts Morgram via a sending to ask if he may bring his girlfriend, Chammady Drovenge. Even though Morgram had specifically instructed that she not be invited, he relents. Preparations take the day and the guests arrive in the early evening.
All have gone to extremes to make their costumes (theme: 4601) either accurate or noteworthy and their gifts equal them in every way.
Costumes include House robes in startlingly accurate styling to a hundred years ago, Asmodeus in Waiting (from the second most powerful man in the city) and a gold lame number from the highest ranking cleric of Mammon in the city.
The gifts include an expensive Mammon scroll, beard wax, a symbol of Abidar with an offer of clerc training, and a keg of Des Applethorn's beer.
Adamus, to Morgram's relief, does not appear. Neither does Zingleburpbembledak to mixed feelings from Zim. However, someone does dress as Zingleburpbembledak and there are a few awkward minutes when Zim attacks him.
Other highlights include, Lord Harth being announced as the new deputy mayor and a fireworks display. One of the Bastards also appears at the back door, with the news that they will be throwing their own party at noon, the next day.
...to be continued...
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
The Bastards of Erebus threw an enormous going away party (having recently come into a great deal of money) and invited the heroes. It came out that after Palaveen's death the Bastards (now under Dravano's leadership) started answering to a slip named Abertin. When the heroes realized that not only was Abertin not invited to the party but he wasn't even officially informed that the Bastards were leaving town, they began to be concerned with security.
Taking the initiative, they made sure that the Andoran ship transporting the tieflings to Magnimar was legitimate, and then ensured that everyone made it aboard safely. They wished the Bastards well, and also said goodbye to Amaya who was sailing on the same vessel in order to locate family up north.
They also find a room of statues. They expect a trap, but don't manage to spring any. However, they are attacked by a weird assortment of tiny animated objects.
These objects race from ventilation and drainage ducts to do small amounts of damage before returning to their ducts in a flash. Zim is enamoured with what looks like a tiny clockwork dragon but is unable to capture it.
Session 25: "Who's a vampire?!"
Racing through the insect-room they head down the stairs. Anselar is overcome with what seems like a minor relapse of whatever ailed him on the prison island, so asks that they leave him in the realtive safety of this out of the way stairway.
At the end, they find a large room filled with model ships, all of which have been damaged in some way. Wary, Morgram scans the room for magic, from the landing.
There is a single source, coming from a ship, halway into the room. Coraline checks for traps in the area just inside the doorway, but finds none. She decides to move quickly to the magic ship, pick it up and race back.
Nothing happens when she picksup the model, but on her way back she is overcome by visions of Bizby (the famous explorer) and his companion arguing and fighting.
She begins to speak both sides of their argument and stays in place. Remy tries to grab her and drag her out of the room. Coraline's (not a ninja) training makes her difficult to get ahold of, even in this reverie. Remy begins to see the same vision, but manages to keep control of herself and eventually grapple Coraline to safety.
The sail is the magical part of the ship - a Breath of Life scroll.
They head back through the bug room, exploring further down the corridor, finding the Pathfinder's bar. Someone has cobbled together a small table and chairs on the bartop. All the bottles are empty and smashed. Morgram detects some magic in the bar counter itself. Handed an axe by Remy, he goes to work, smashing all the potions hidden in the secret compartment. Remy teases Morgram, causing him to stalk off in a huff. He is promptly attacked by another of the animated objects from the duct system - a Mwangi fetish. Zim runs to see it, too late, but he is attacked by his friend the clockwork dragon. He is unable to catch it once again.
Some searching reveals a secret door behind the bar.
Following these back ways, they find a secret entrance to the other side of the model-ship room as well as a hidden sitting room. Convinced that there must be further secret doors in this sitting room, Zim pulls on every book in the bookcases, in turn. There is no secret door.
They leave this room and the last branch of the secret corridor leads to a room with a smashed statue, what is probably its alcove, and a unique mosaic on the floor. They are fairly confident that this is to facilitate teleportation. The smashed statue is a mystery, although they assume that it was animated at some time and was destroyed in battle.
This room opens to the main corridors. An ominous, large set of doors is also across the corridor. A noise from the bar draws their attention.
Vahnwynne Malkistra, the elf who asked them all to drink holy water in the Gargling Gargoyle, is also searching Delvehaven. She is a vampire hunter and believes that there is a nest somewhere in its depths. There is a brief conversation, in which she enlists their help. Zim pokes her in the side to get her attention and she recoils, saying that she does not like to be touched. He can tell that she is under the effects of an illusion, but as this is a fairly common thing for nobles and people of wealth to do, to supplement makeup and tailoring, he does not mention it.
While the group argues over whether to follow her, ally with her or leave her to her own devices, she leaves and enters the room beyond the large set of doors. They follow after a little while but Vahnwynne is nowhere to be seen.
This room has an archway surrounded by (what Coraline identifies as) the Azlanti alphabet. Zim assumes that this is some sort of coded lock and presses on of the letters. It lights up, but not having any idea as to what the word or phrase might be, he looks for a clue. The other feature of the room is a desk and section of floor which appear to have been carved from a single piece of stone. Suspicious, Coraline examines it in minute detail, discovering that it is a trapdoor. She triggers the mechanism that lifts it, revealing the stairs below.
When she satisfies herself that there is another opening mechanism below, and that both she and Zim can open it, they all enter the passage and Coraline replaces the desk.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, they see vault doors that appear to have been smashed open from the inside.
As they move towards the doors, they are ambushed. First weaker thralls and then a number of tattooed vampire leaders appear. During the skirmish, Vahnwynne appears. She assists the group, but the vampires and their minions seem to expect her to help them. Things become clearer when Areal channels positive energy to harm the evil creatures and Vahnwynne is hurt as well. She continues to assist the rest of the party, but summons a large swarm to attack Areal.
One by one the vampires turn to mist and fly off in various directions.
Vahnwynne accuses Areal of being a vampire. Some of the group try to tell her that she must be a vampire, while others attempt to play into her (possible) delusion, saying that Areal is a useful ally for the moment. She leaves them through a side door.
They take a moment to regroup, deciding whether to press on or leave, rest and make more preparations.
Coraline Arvanxi (aristocrat /ninja )
Morgram the Magnificent (street performer bard /aristocrat )
Session 26: The blind leading the blind
Anselar rejoins the group, worse for wear and out of sorts at having been left behind. He also has two suspicious looking puncture wounds on his neck. Coraline splashes him with holy water to no effect.
Zimburchem finishes the invisibility infusion that he was brewing and proceeds to the door that Vahnwynne left through. It opens to a room (not the corridor he had expected) and Vahnwynne is unimpressed at being disturbed.
Zim ducks behind the door jamb, drinks the invisibility potion and throughs a dispelling bomb at her. It seems to have no effect. He had hoped to suppress her illusion to prove that she was deluded about not being a vampire.
Coraline has moved to the door during this time and (when the vampire vampire-hunter attacks) she and the others help to defend Zim. He surrenders, but when Vahnwynne restrains him, he cannot overcome his phobia and struggles (unsuccessfully) to break free. During the fight she tries to bite him, but he manages to avoid this.
Arael and Coraline do a combo of oil and magical flame to set the conveniently human-sized wooden box aflame and the group all take Vahnwynne down. She turns to mist and returns to her 'coffin', only to be finally burnt.
Zim runs away when he is free. Morgram follows upstairs to heal him and pours out some alchemists fire to bring him out of his near catatonia.
Anselar seems to know a fair bit about vampires and so they hasten to find the coffins of the vampires within the hour before they can revive themselves. Two of the three are quickly found within some of the sarcophagi in the rooms of this sub-basement level. They are easy to dispatch with the magically-silvered weapons.
The rooms on this level house, amongst other things, a ruined library (Vahnwynne's room) and a room with old and ancient significant treaties (Some may be real, some replicas).
The most interesting room seems to be the three-doored vault. As they proceed down the corridor towards it, they find a rough tunnel that leads off to the side, but dead ends. They can find no secret entrance from it. They speculate that someone may have been trying to dig their way out. Approaching the room they can see a couple of items on display near the centerpiece - a large shining eagle head.
When they get closer, it suddenly flashes and many of them are blinded - all are hurt. A retreat is called and Coraline leads them out, towards the main doors of Delvehaven.
Zim pipes up that he can heal them. With liberal applications of infusions of Cure Blindness and Alchemical Allocation-ed potions of the same [lovingly(?) referred to as 'backwash potions' by the players] they are back on their feet.
They choose to leave the vault for the moment, possibly doing it just before they leave or returning later, instead returning to exploring.
They find a room with a skeleton, sitting on a couch with a sign warning against stealing from it. They, of course, enter to see what might be worth taking. The skull rises from the neck, berating the thieves, summoning up two shadowy creatures. It's words, along with the visions in the ship-room make it clear that this is Bisby. Remy, Coraline and Anselar dispatch the creatures and the skull. However, the skull will not stay broken for long.
Capturing it, they take it downstairs to the pentagram and use a Grave Tallow Candle to gather some information. They are able to get the name of the eagle head artifact (Morrowfall) and some related information from the skull.
While in this room, the clockwork dragon attacks Zim again. He manages to catch it and, braving bites and flame breath, manages to wrestle it into a drawer in the stone desk. He will have to think of a way to transport it later.
After some research, the library, upstairs, provides more information about the Aohl.
Putting the pieces together, it seems that Bisby and his companion brought an artifact (The Aohl) back from their last expedition. It consisted of two complimentary parts that cancel out each others powers - Morrowfall and Totemrix. His partner wanted his share and so the artifact was split into its component parts. They speculate that, because the Morrowfall is about light, the other is about darkness/shadow and is probably connected to the shadow beasts that roam Westcrown. This makes the Morrowfall even more important.
In the library certain books still call to individual members of the group. As Anselar was not permanently enthralled by his book, Zim reads his. Morgram fearful and resists. Excited by the vivid transference of memories, Zim tries to read Morgram's while the others research, but is thwarted.
Zim very much wants to get his hands on the artifact before they leave, so volunteers to go and get it. Hasted, Enlarged (so he can reach), with a rope tied to him and wearing smoked goggles; he races to shove the Morrowfall into a bag before it can seriously damage him. As he touches it to put it away, the bright light dies down.
Now that they have their hands on it, Zim remembers a legend that his apprentice told him, long ago, about this very artifact and the extraordinary things that it is supposed to be able to do.
[In this campaign we get a Paizo Plot Twist Card at each level. One of these is what allowed Zim to glean this information despite not being Good. When using the effect, we provide a flashback/piece of backstory that relates to it, per the suggestions on the card. In this one Zingleburpbembledak was always a fount of new stories for Zimburchem, which is part of why Zim kept him around]
Having found the rumoured powerful item below the Pathfinder lodge, they discuss whether to leave or explore the upper floors in the weakened state.
Session 27: "Fireday is ALWAYS the best day"
Deciding that this may be their only chance to explore Delvehaven, they decide to finish with the upper floors. Some rooms have nothing of great note.
When they reach the kitchens, Zim decides to rapidly open all the cupboards. As they bang open an animated doll jumps out in front of him. Unable to affect him with its gaze it runs back into the ducts - Zim declares himself the winner of the staring contest. The ovens appear to have been bricked up at some point after the close of Delvehaven, so they decide to see what might be behind them. Zim decides (is forced by obsessive nature) to use his acids to remove a single brick without damaging the brick. Remy chooses to break the other oven open with a pry-bar. The results are: a perfect hole in a wall with nothing behind it and a broken wall with nothing behind it.
Leaving through the tradesman's entrance, they see a foot bridge over a courtyard. The fact of the courtyard and its unkempt state are determined by Morgram (dwarf) standing on the shoulders of Zim (gnome). The bridge connects the rest of Delvehaven to a domed building.
They head back inside and search the (fairly uninteresting) guest rooms, upstairs.
There is a massive explosion very far away. Everyone runs to windows. There is a towering mushroom cloud, which looks to be on the opposite side of the city. Quite possibly at the Korradath.
Zim quickly goes from excited to dejected as he realises that he has missed it and that the best will be long done by the time that they can get there. While the others discuss whether to finish exploring and how to get to the explosion site, Zim chooses to, at least, run over the rickety bridge that they saw earlier.
He first enters a room with a strange watery duplicate of himself. It continues to copy him and, after several cries of "Stop copying me!" he throws his final bomb at it. This is a mistake.
Unperturbed, he continues on to the bridge, intending to stick his head in the other building while the decisions are made.
About three-quarters of the way across, it begins to give way and much to Zim's delight he is able to make a running dive just as it falls. Irked, Anselar teleports the group, sans Arael, across the gap.
The domed building contains a meeting hall surrounded by a balcony. It also contains a very aggressive floating skull.
Using the powers of the Morrowfall against it makes it obvious that it is not undead, which is confusing to them. After its defeat, they discover that it is, in fact, a will-o-wisp. They find that they table in this hall can be raised and lowered magically, but nothing else of note.
They decide that given how far away the explosion site is, it will be better to take a detour to the mayoral manor to borrow some form of transport.
They find the mayor and Lord Ursio Harth arguing about whether to go to the site or leave it to the police. Zim runs up to Ursio and grabs his hand, insisting that he take them there immediately. The mayor is reluctant to let Morgram go, but soon, they are all huddled in a group, ready to go.
Lord Harth shifts them into the shadow plane and, able to move many times faster than usual, they race towards the Korradath.
They encounter a ship crewed by shadow denizens who will take them across the water. A number of them have bad feelings about it and they realise that, with their accelerated movement, they can cross while holding their breath.
They approach what used to be the site of the Korradath or, at least, its shadow counterpart. It is a smoking crater.
Imps and devils circle above it and shadow human casualties are everywhere. Under flying spells, they all approach to glean what information they can.
Imps approach, willing to trade their service for information about what happened. Later, the devils offer that knowledge to the group, but their prices are too high.
The group decends to investigate before the sea, which is now encroaching on the position, quickly fills the new hole. They notice the entrance to the shadow temple of Mammon - the counterpart of the one that some of them investigated earlier, in the 'real' world. Distracted, they investigate the temple, finding it much more grandiose than the one they saw but ultimately not the most important thing of the moment.
With the shadow plane having yielded the small amount of information that it can, they shift to the skies above the crater in the prime plane.
Here, the group's engineering knowledge allows them to figure out that the building collapsed in - it was not blown out.
They also determine that the energy came from magic, not alchemy. Anselar determines that the only thing could have achieved this is a spell which is beyond what even the most powerful of mortal should be able to achieve. Having solved as much of the puzzle as they can, Zim notes that there are hurt people all around and that they can do something about that.
Chammady Drovenge, who is helping to organise rescue efforts, calls some of them over to help. The rescue continues for much of the day.
Morgram coordinates a campaign of information gathering during the relief efforts. The group helps, talking to the injured as they heal and transport them. With this help, Morgram's fame and charm manages to cut through enough of the panic and misery to piece together most of what happened. However, the last bit of information, that ties some seemingly unrelated facts togehter comes from someone they thought they had seen the last of.
[Using a plot point card to boost this gathering of information, along with hero points and all manner of other aid, Morgram was able to reach a ridiculous level. The card prompted a plot point involving "true love", so: ]
As Morgram lifts a damage and groaning body from the rubble, he turns the person over and locks eyes with...Adamus!. Last seen in a rowboat without oars, heading out into the ocean, everyone thought they had seen the last of Morgram's stalker.
Looking down into the battered face, even Morgram must admit that, even if he does not share the feeling, Adamus is not simply obsessed, he is in love. Morgram feels that he cannot simply give Adamus the slip, as he usually would. This eventually pays off, unexpectedly, with the insight he is looking for.
The deed was done by a powerful demon/devil in the skies above the Korradath calling down meteors. It was summoned with the use of a summoning candle, bought by Lord Ghival, but given to his girlfriend...Chammady Drovenge. Morgram's suspicions have finally been fully confirmed, although only by hearsay.