Adventures in Thargothras

Session 29
The Gauntlet under Silverhold, part 3

After coming to the end of the hallway and finding an iron door, Joshua searched and discovered evidence of a falling block trap in the ceiling. The door was stuck, due to the pressure of the loose block, but the trap was bypassed and everyone made their way into the room on the other side. The floor was covered with dead insects, and on the far side from the door was an altar. Further inspection revealed that the altar was to Kurovar the Keen, the architect and warden of this prison. Even further, magically aided inspection, revealed that the altar's purpose was to bestow a modified infernal healing spell on a supplicant, after a payment in coin or blood. No one wanted to try it out, so they examined the other door to the room, a stone door that shared a wall with the door they entered from. After Joshua expertly picked the lock and Audreyn and Vaelin lifted the door upwards into a ceiling cavity (causing Audreyn to unbalance herself and land face-first on the floor), everyone walked down the new hallway and found another iron door waiting around a corner. After unlocking it and getting it open, they realized that the door was blocked almost completely by the back of a white marble statue in the next room, so they backtracked to the room with the teleportation circle they'd arrived from, and saw that the door with the corpse in front of it had been opened. Inside the room on the other side, the party found a few dwarves around a table, and the rest wandering the room and chatting. After a search of the marble statue of a vampire and finding an inscription on the side, they reasoned that in order to open the door, they must fill the statue's chalice with blood, which they did. The statue slid to the side, and the hallway became accessible. There was also a giant sculpture of a skull on the opposite wall, and in its mouth they found a handle to open another secret door. This one led to a short hallway, and a short staircase still being dug from the stone by lemures. More importantly, Kurovar the Keen was floating inside, directing the lesser devils' work. Without introduction, the harried architect devil assigned the party to kill Betula Coalfist, known here as The Butcher Queen, as their first duty as guards. Kol'le's gullibility spell made things more complicated when he claimed that he had mastered the back passages of the complex, and so Kurovar didn't bother to teach the party how to use them. Luckily, the party's skill and resources will no doubt prevail as they walk from room to room like normal people. Kurovar also marked select PCs as guards, with a personal non-euclidean rune on their foreheads, to let his other employees know not to attack them.

After that, the party walked up a nearby staircase, and found themselves facing another door, beyond which were five babaus, one of which was particularly frightening and tough-looking. They were rolling a dwarf on a spiked roller as a form of torture, and with the introduction of new potential victims, demanded that Joshua (who had elected not to receive the mark of Kurovar) be handed over as a replacement. Allen and Vaelin, who had taken the marks, declined. The ensuing combat was difficult, and one of the babaus, as its last act of defiance, coup de grace's Kol'le, who had fallen unconscious after being savaged by flanking demons. His throat torn out, his soul was sucked into a topaz in a near wall. After the last demon was slain, with some help from the partially recovered dwarf's channeling of positive energy, the topaz was picked from the wall, the room was searched, and a secret trapdoor was found. The dwarf priest of Alvac introduced himself, explained the plight that had taken him here, and offered limited assistance. The session ended here, as the party elected to rest before proceeding to the next room.


Karmic adjustments:

-10 to Allen for as long as he bears the mark of Kurovar the Keen, leaving his score at 16.
Ao remains at [starting+1].
Audreyn remains at 10.
Felicity remains at 14.
Joshua remains at 14.
Kol'le remains at [starting -1].
Seralyn remains at 27.
Skyler remains at 17.
-10 to Vaelin for as long as he bears the mark of Kurovar the Keen, leaving his score at  11.

New Allies

Olafmyr woke, mid-morning, sun in his eyes, to the sound of his doorbell ringing. After some mishaps, he had decided it would be most convenient to rig up a system of pulleys, a chain, and a series of bells so that he didn't have to worry about listening for knocks on the door. There was a bell on each floor, so no matter where he was, he would hear if someone bothered to pull the end of the chain just outside the front door of his tower.

He squinted, and turned his head to sneeze away from the bed. With a groan, he pulled himself up and instinctively shouted "I'm on my way!" despite being on the fourth floor of five. As the realization set in that there was no way anyone would hear that clearly, he rose, threw on a robe, and crossed the room to yank on the chain to let whoever it was that he was home and awake and on his way. On the way down the stairs, he felt like casting a well-practiced charm on himself, which was complete by the time she reached her door. She looked through the peephole and saw a stern-looking centaur on the other side. She undid the latch and cracked it open cautiously.

Artimeus stood outside the door to a tall stone tower, waiting with the patience of a very angry old man with nothing better to do writing a letter to local authorities to complain about his neighbors making noise. When the door was answered, it was barely open enough to see a sliver of a face and a line of dark blue wool.
"Can I help you?"
"Are you Olafmyr the Red?" asked Artimeus.
"Well, I asked someone to call me 'Olafmyr the Well-read' but somewhere along the way people messed it up, so now that's what everyone calls me. Is that all you wanted to ask, or do we have business?"
Artimeus furrowed his brow. "Yes, I think we do."
"Well, are you going to want to come in, or should I come outside? Honestly, I'm not sure the door is built to accommodate centaurs, and I don't know if I can make it any larger without compromising the structural integrity -" she stopped as Artimeus held up a hand.
"I think I can ask my questions from here, thank you. Name's Artimeus. I need to know, are you responsible," he paused as he reached into a cloth sack, stained at the bottom with a red-brown substance, and pulled out something nasty. "…for this?"
Olafmyr stared at the thing in the centaur's hand. It looked like a horse's head, but with the mouth and eyes of a predatory fish. "I have never seen something like that."
"All right. And what about this?" He produced another head from the sack. This one looked like a goat's head, but with horns protruding from its neck, mouth, above and below the ears, and several other asymmetrical places. She counted at least nine horns from her angle of observation.
"Absolutely not. That looks vile."
"Very well. And what about this?" He held up a mottled brown and green serpent with the head and forelegs of a frog. It croaked lazily as its head dangled from the centaur's open palm.
"Mister Poppers! You found him! I've been looking for him for days! Thank you for not killing him." She reached through the gap in the door and plucked the creature from the centaur's extended hand.
Artimeus nodded. "Well, he didn't try to kill me, so I figured I'd show the same courtesy. But you had nothing to do with the other beasties, right?"
"Nope. Sorry. I can't even be sure where they came from, but my guess is they happened randomly due to the increased levels of ambient magic. Anything over two hundred millithaums and a large fraction of the normal animals start conceiving monsters instead of more of themselves. Did you mean to tell me that the other creatures were aggressive?"
"Have you been having a bad time of it out there?"
"Not too bad. I can handle myself in a pitched fight well enough." He gestured to a horn-adorned bow on his back. Olafmyr wondered to herself how he could cut off a head with a missile weapon, until her gaze landed on a rather long scabbard strapped to his side. She immediately re-established eye contact.
"I have an idea. Come inside and sit down while I grab some paper. With your help, I think I can start figuring out where these things are coming from and what's causing them."

Session 28
The Gauntlet under Silverhold, part 2

In this session, the party continued to explore clockwise. The first room they came to after inducting the two convicts, and sending away the two inmates for their protection, was full of lemures with buckets of paint and rollers and brushes, supervised by two bearded devils. Also in the room, though it was not immediately apparent to those opening the door, were Kol'le and Ao, who had finally found their way out of the extradimensional maze. Together, they fought the bearded devils, soundly defeated them, and healed up their cursed wounds while the two convicts mopped up the few remaining lemures.

After more exploration, they found a secret door, and interrupted an argument between two more convicts (and two more inmates) and a quartet of accuser devils. The argument turned out to be that the devils were guarding a door, beyond which lay a room with a pit trap, and that the dwarves simply wanted to use the pit trap as a restroom. However, thanks to a judicious use of the web spell and some applied violence, most of them decided to guard somewhere else and teleported away.

After searching the room, the party found a secret door hidden on the inside of an iron maiden, and walked down a hallway, finding stairs upwards, and a branching hallway that led a short distance to the large room with the statue they had been in before. However, after checking their sense of direction, they realized that the hallway connected perpendicular walls of rooms too far apart from each other to make physical sense.

This was where the session ended. Only a few minutes have passed in-game. Next time, we'll either clear the last room(s) on the first floor, or head upstairs. 


Karmic adjustments:

Allen remains at 26.
Ao remains at [starting+1].
Audreyn remains at 10.
+1 to Felicity for standing up for animal rights, raising her score to 14.
Joshua remains at 14.
Kol'le remains at [starting -1].
Seralyn remains at 27.
Skyler remains at 17.
Vaelin remains at 21.

A brother in bondage

"What do you mean, he's out on work release? I've been trying to get an appointment for appeal for probation since the first week of Quintar and you're telling me he was released two days ago? What the hell was I paying you for?!"
Hagar Vencane was understandably angry. He'd skirted the law, watched friends die gruesome deaths, risked becoming a monster trapped in a glorified cave, traveled halfway across the kingdom and back, found room in a flophouse, and taken dangerous, filthy jobs no one wanted to do, just for some money to pay a lawyer to get his brother out of prison early, and all for nothing. Well, perhaps not nothing. He calmed himself before continuing the conversation. "Where did they say he was going?"
"All violent offenders were transferred to the wardship of Baron Vincent de Noumenn, under the care of a name I'm not allowed to divulge to you at this time. I'm sorry, but I was unable to make an appointment sooner, but I had to plead your case directly to the senior alderman, and he was booked until recently. I also had to fill out six forms, some of which had to be filled out in duplicate or triplicate, just to view your brother's case file. I'm sorry, Mr. Vencane, but I wasn't unable to expedite your appeal, as you requested."
This would never have happened in Healey. Well, perhaps it would, given his brother's particular circumstances. But first…
"Noumenn? Who or where is that, and why does it sound familiar?"
"Noumenn is the newly claimed barony, just south of Heslan. You should pay more attention to current events, Mr. Vencane. Frankly, it's a wonder he got released at all, considering his conviction. Are you familiar with the crimes he was found guilty of?"
Hagar tried not to laugh. Not only was he familiar, but they'd both committed their share of sordid and unpleasant activities in the pursuit of wealth and influence. After all, they had a legacy to preserve.
"Oh, yes. Yes I am. But you see, he's my brother. And more than that, we're from the Vencanes of Healey. The Stablemasters. Red and gold, signet rings, old money, the whole bit. We aren't the sort for prison. House arrest, sure. Exile, perhaps. But prison? Doesn't happen. Not to us. So I had to fix this mistake."
"Are you certain you have knowledge of his crimes? Because even with your family's reputation, I don't think he'd have gone anywhere else." She showed him a list from her notes. "These are only the crimes he's admitted to. There might be more."
Hagar skimmed the list with relief. Nothing he didn't already know, and a few things that could have been there that weren't.
"Do we still have client confidentiality?" he asked.
"I suppose." she answered nervously.
"He got caught doing a job for the family, and the rest of us disinherited him to save face. It's too bad, because he was really good at his work."
"You mean to say that wasn't his first time perpetrating… that crime? And that your family… condones this?"
Ever since humanoid slavery was illegalized, House Vencane had to turn to other means of income, and the horse markets only paid for a fraction of the expenses.
"Our family does a lot of things now that our original business is illegal. Now, just because he won't be doing anything like that for the family anymore doesn't mean he can't find work like that elsewhere, and I mean to see that he finds gainful employment in the near future."
"No… that's enough. Don't tell me any more, and leave now. I can't listen to this. Even hearing that you intend to be accessory in future crimes is an abuse of your privilege as a client. I've told you everything I know. Don't contact me again, and don't make me keep any more of your – or your family's – secrets. If a word of this is true, you're all terrible people and I want nothing more to do with you."
Hagar raised his hands and stood up out of the comfortable leather chair on the other side of her desk.
"Fine, fine. If that's as far as I'm getting, then I'm on my way."

Hagar left the office. He gathered his meager belongings and rented a horse. Later that evening, a house in the nicer part of the city burned down, killing its sole occupant, and later still, Hagar rode out of Coaton up the South Road. It wouldn't be hard to follow a march of 300 people in chains, and the head start wouldn't be much of a problem, but breaking one man out undetected, that would require a really good plan.

Session 27
The Gauntlet under Silverhold, part 1

The party came to Silverhold and dispersed into the five generally acknowledged districts of the town. Between all of their information-gathering, they were able to confirm a lot of their suspicions about who and how many people were disappearing into the secret prison, and also learned some new leads, like that the queen was paying double for gemstones from dealers, traders, or common miners.

A day earlier, Kol'le and A o had come to Silverhold via teleportation, and, not seeing the other party members, decided to gather information to find out who escorted prisoners to the prison and speak to them personally. After some bluffing, an unsuccessful forgery, and some interrogation of prisoners in processing, Kol'le was allowed to enter the prison in the usual way, where he and an invisible A o landed on the second floor. Their fate beyond that is unknown.

The rest of the party is pretty sure they're on the lowest floor. They left their entry/teleportation room through the door that didn't have a dead body next to it, and entered a large room where they spoke to some prisoners (6) who divulged information on the overall layout of the prison, the factions within, and the living conditions the prisoners were subject to. The room also contained a gargantuan statue of a bone devil, and several statues of dwarves, living and undead, and statues of two mages with staves.

After that conversation, they explored the room, found a secret door behind one of the mage statues, which they took down a short hallway to another room, with a trapped door (they avoided the trap by opening it from the wrong side), and encountered two more prisoners being accosted by two of the prison's dominant gang of murderous cannibals. One intimidate check later, and the two cannibals were recruited to join the prison's new gang – the Dawnbreakers. The two new initiates tried to lead the party through a crack in the wall to another room, but failed. The other two prisoners were sent to join the others in the relative safety of the teleportation room. 
To differentiate the prison's denizens in the future, we will be referring to the harmless prisoners as "inmates," and the more violent offenders as "convicts."

The session ended around that time. The in-game date is Sextar 30th.


Karmic adjustments:

Allen remains at 26.
A o remains at [starting +1].
Audreyn remains at 10.
Felicity remains at 13.
Joshua remains at 14.
Kol'le remains at [starting-1].
Seralyn remains at 27.
Skyler remains at 17.
Vaelin remains at 21.

Bringing the Hammer(s)

Levi Underforge led his team of troubleshooters, the Hammers of Beywich, further down the road. He heard there'd been some trouble stirred up in Viridonia, and where there was trouble, there was opportunity. Opportunity for Ivideme's grace to reclaim civilization and make things safe for all. But the nature of these foreign complications made Levi concerned. Strange cults to mysterious demons and false godlings were one thing; they bred fanaticism, and fanatics were predictable and easy to find. But secret cabals of aspiring mages were different. They could be anyone, and were beholden to no particular leader, and most importantly, bred a different kind of fanatic – a paranoiac, and those were much harder to find in a crowd. They knew they were doing something against the order of things, and could hide indefinitely.

Then there were the goblinoids, who were simple enough to deal with, but their numbers could easily overwhelm even the best tactics. If attacked in small groups, they were nothing more than a nuisance, but five strong dwarves against an army was the stuff of legends. And the Hammers of Beywich, for all their worth, were not legends. Best to stick to a few of the orcs' giant allies, and harry scouts, hunters, and foragers whenever convenient.

Then there was the third trouble. One that was only whispered about. No one had said anything abroad, but during his stop in Gunargun, Levi had heard rumors of a monster abandoned by death, who fed on the living who strayed too far south into the mountains. The rumors continued that the beast had recently recruited spies and scattered them across the kingdom, but the spy recruited was a friend of a friend of a second cousin or somesuch, so it was harder to verify, and dwarves loved gossip as much as any other race, even if their gossip was about different subjects than most.

Still, if any of the leads were good, they would be tracked down and made use of. With the talented companions he had available, there were few challenges they had no resources against. Levi himself was skilled in acts of brute force, supplemented by the powers granted to him by Ivideme, that he may heal or harm as was right for the situation. Complementing his capacity for bloodshed (in the name of justice and civilization, of course) was Nuria, whose skill with a long hammer was greater than his with any weapon at all. Next on the roster was Zarad, who could use stealth to great effect, and even a bit of guile, though in a different way than Hadar. Hadar's devotion to Ortrul was admirable, but he was suspicious by nature, and that made him superlatively effective during interrogations, if a little annoying to his friends at times. He was also incredibly hard to read by strangers. Finally, Edra, who Hadar considered to be blessed by Ortrul, and was recruited by Hadar on that basis. Edra was… not unique, if the oldest legends were accurate, but certainly the only one with her power set in her generation, which was something their enemies wouldn't normally be prepared for, and certainly not on first contact.

So, after a stay in Staygate, and another stay in Pastow, Levi continued to lead his team down the road. Next stop, Healey. And after that, to follow up on the rumors of a bounty… on ogre heads.

Session 26
The Box

In the time following the evening of the 20th, the party tended to their business in Whitefield, but Allen and Vaelin teamed up to make it look like riding bats were especially common to the area, to provide red herrings for Tahalamé in his search for the rogue bladebound. Tahalamé has since decided to pursue the source directly and speak to the orcs who initially sold at least two party members the giant bats, in the hopes that they might remember who else bought from them. When Seralyn did arrive on the 24th, the party (sans Ao and Kol'le) gathered to discuss the cube given to Joshua, and make plans for interaction with it.

On the evening of Pasaday, Sextar 25th, the party gathered in a field, with Caleb along as well, to test out the functions of the mysterious cube that Joshua had brought from Silverhold. After investigating in the last session, Vaelin and Allen had used spellcraft to determine how to open the box, and view some of the thaumology used to craft it. They also understood that it contained a larger space inside than outside, much in the way that a bag of holding does, but on a larger scale. Also, there was an illusion placed on it (though no one was aware of that at the time) so that anyone casting Identify would see a themselves contained in the box. along with other shadowy figures. Allen believed the illusion, and was intrigued, as was the intent of the designer. Convinced that this was the extradimensional prison that Queen Miriam was sending her prisoners into, Allen decided that the space should be entered, but only after some experimentation.

In the open field, the party members spaced themselves at different distances from the device, with Felicity and Caleb being furthest away, and so left outside the radius when the box was opened and sucked everyone else in. Kol'le and Ao were absent for this adventure as well, occupying themselves in town.

Once within, they were greeted by an illusion of an architect devil (Avorak the Elucidator), who explained to them their imminent doom and pathetic mortal limits. They took the time to explore the room they were trapped inside of, discovering that there was one door on each wall, and that each wall was either a primary or secondary color, with complementary colors facing parallel. It was soon after discovered that each door led to a room of the same size (30'x30'x30'), and connected by walls of the same color, and that all of the colors were the reverse of the first room (for example, room 1 had a red floor and a green ceiling, while adjacent rooms had a green floor and a red ceiling). After further exploration, they realized that there were only two rooms, connected on all sides to the color-matched face of the other room. Each door was tied to a magical mechanism that required deactivation for escape, and these mechanisms were represented by logical puzzles I'd printed out. After the dissolution of one wall (blue) there was a rumble, and the walls began to shake, and crack at the edges. An illusion of Allen appeared in the place where the devil illusion had appeared, and he explained that he was a time-split echo of Allen's future, in a set of rooms where time was flowing faster, and would try to help the party in any way he could, but could only communicate one way. The party continued to work uninterrupted, but when they solved a second puzzle, there was more rumbling and cracking, as the extradimensional trap was only designed to hold a single individual. At that point, each person inside the trap split into triplets.

Allen split into Allen Prime, Older Allen, and Really Old Allen.
Audreyn split into Audreyn Prime, Vampire Audreyn, and Courtier Audreyn.
Joshua split into Joshua Prime, Scarred Joshua, and Nice Gun Joshua. The big difference between them appeared to be whether they'd been at "the docks" during an explosion, or shopping for a gun.
Seralyn split into Seralyn Prime, Haggard Seralyn, and Half-red-dragon Seralyn. Both claimed to have made "the right choice" in some future decision, on which hinged the fates of party members and innocent civilians alike.
Skyler split into Skyler Prime, Werewolf Skyler, and Reincarnated Skyler, who initially joked that he was the child of Seralyn and Vaelin.
Vaelin split into Vaelin Prime, Pirate Vaelin, and Wizard Vaelin.

It was weird, but some valuable information was exchanged, and the future echoes didn't seem to have any memories of being in the room more than once, despite the implied presence of past echoes appearing in other sets of rooms.

When the last puzzle was solved, all of the prime party members were ejected harmlessly into the field, only a few seconds after entering, to outside observers. The box was inactive, and likely irreparable to anyone but its creator, but it still serves as a useful clue for deposing the false queen of Silverhold.


Karmic adjustments: 
Allen remains at 26
A o remains at [starting +1].
Audreyn remains at 10.
Felicity remains at 13.
Joshua remains at 14.
Kol'le remains at [starting -1].
Seralyn remains at 27.
Skyler remains at 17.
Vaelin remains at 21.

The greatest warriors in the land

Dana Alfped sat in her house and smoked a pipe and read, as she had done almost every day that she didn't go to market for the last six months. Often, she read a book, usually a romantic novella, with generic human characters following the same few plotlines. They were entertaining and didn't take a lot of thinking to enjoy, so she read them anyway. Some days, she read a letter from her cousin in Silverhold. Every month there were new updates on gossip, family drama, interesting events, and so on. Today she had received a letter, so she was reading that. But this letter felt different from the others. The tone was off. Words her cousin didn't usually use were thrown in, usually referring to the freshly ascended queen. As Dana wasn't allowed back inside Silverhold, she couldn't find out what was going on directly, but she could ask anyone who'd been there recently what it was like. A human's perception of any changes in Silverhold would be hard to trust, as the subtleties of dwarf culture were often lost on even the most immersed human, but anything obvious would help. 

While she mused on that, her gaze shifted to the trophies on her walls. Mostly they were the pieces she couldn't make into armor or weapons, or sell as trinkets. She had planned for early retirement, and so she'd liquidated most of her potential souvenirs, and now she realized her mistake. She wasn't ready to retire. She wanted to be out there, hunting linnorms and collecting red and black horns from the enemies of civilization. The whole time she'd been an adventurer, she thought she'd wanted to stop and feel safe, but she didn't realize how much she needed the thrill of the hunt to feel like life was worthwhile. She needed something bigger. A real capstone, something to brag about that others could not. Something to put on her wall that would look decent and stay there long enough for her grandchildren to admire.

She stood up, and, pipe still inside her mouth, walked to the weapon rack she kept by her front door. She gently removed her axe, "Scale-render," and stroked its haft thoughtfully. Then she gently placed it back on the rack. She looked to Gnossir, who was lying on the floor, asleep a minute ago, but now staring with one open eye. "Hey, Gnoss?" she said. Gnossir lifted his head and waved his tail. "I'm coming out of retirement." In response, Gnossir made an inquisitive grunt and tilted his head to one side. "It means we're going hunting again. Are you ready boy? Are you ready for another hunt?" By now, Gnossir was standing on all fours, tail wagging excitedly. "Good boy, Gnoss. Good boy. Now, where did I put all of our hunting stuff…?"

Sobriety did not agree with the baron of Draganyr. A day earlier, his lovely, lovely wife had told him "I need you to stop drinking. It's bad for Christopher to see you like this." He'd agreed, until he passed a large puddle of water on the street and saw… shapes within. After that, he headed to his favorite tavern, and been turned away. Then he'd been turned away at the other tavern. And every booze merchant in the markets and docks. They all said the same thing. His wife had gone to all of them. He begged, wheedled, cajoled, and even threatened, and he was, when he wanted to be, a very threatening man, but none would budge. He'd apologized before moving on to the next vendor, until he ran out of ideas. Whatever they'd been promised or threatened with by Delara, she'd been more convincing. But there was not a single drop of alcohol available to him. Frustrated, he returned home to sit at his desk and sulk. Delara met him at the door, disappointment in her eyes. Once inside, he closed the door, fell to his knees, and wept before her. Half-formed apologies broke through his sobs as she caressed his hair. Tears dripped down her velvet dress as he clutched the edge of her skirt and pulled his face to her body. 

Hours afterward, he had bathed, changed into his armor, and eaten. He'd packed for a few days' travel, and readied one of his horses, and vowed to be a hero again for his son, if it took the rest of his life. But he sure as hell wasn't going to be a hero anywhere near water, so he decided to head south and see who needed help further inland. 

Now he rides, and seeks.

It was already day again when Unyal Vandergriff emerged from the darkness of the cave, so he removed his goggles to let his eyes adjust. Another dead lead, but at least he'd gotten out safely again. This one had been full of giant centipedes, and he'd had just enough of that to last a lifetime, which, for an elf, was really saying something. Now that he was out in the light again, he checked his map, drew an X over the one he'd just cleared, and looked at the next closest one on his route. Then he sat down and pulled out the half of the staff he had with him.

After a few minutes of concentration, and letting the staff spin on his finger, he checked his map again. Well, that would be a hike, but he hadn't come this far to give up. Maybe the next cave bent in that direction after the entrance. Only one way to find out. He picked up a stone and scratched a big X in the stone wall just inside the cave entrance, in case he came back here by mistake. Then he looked up the side of the mountain, planning his path in his mind before committing his feet. It wouldn't be too long before he had to venture back to civilization for supplies, but he had one more cave's worth of pitons and crampons and rope and rations and such, so long as it wasn't a particularly big cave, and if it was, well, he'd just have to make sure he had enough resources to spare that he could leave safely and return, wouldn't he?

Dame Odiera Hesroth woke slowly, in a comfortable feather bed, with soft blankets and satin pillows, and a long, silken nightgown, stretched her arms, and let out a long yawn. It was probably ten in the morning, and she was fond of sleeping in when there were no pressing political matters. She sat up, hair an absolute mess, and smirked as she released a long fart. I may have been born to be a duchess, she thought, but they can't make me stop being a sailor on my own time. She left her bed, spent an hour or so on dressing, bathing, and grooming herself, and opened the door to her bedchamber appearing every bit as regal and proper as she was supposed to be. Except for the rapier and scabbard, which never left her side. It had been a long time since she'd had to use it, but it was good to have visible as a reminder to others that she was not to be pushed around like one of the more sheltered nobility. Any day now, she swore she'd find an excuse to set foot on a ship again, and sail up the Sassaran to at least as far as Camor Castle, and hopefully back to the sea. But for now, she'd wait, and be good, and be the leader her people needed. That was more important.

Session 25

On Sextar 15, the day after the dinner with the vampires, the party once again parts ways. Seralyn flies south on a secret mission from the Cloister at the behest of Felclef. What happened there is for her to reveal, not I.

Joshua flew northwest to Silverhold, where he encountered terrible things. An increased presence of guards, rumors of a new prison, hidden from the populace, and perhaps worst of all, a 4% increase on beer tax. He also happened to be walking past an alley when a man fell out of a wall inside. He gave the man some water, and was given a strange cube before the man died. After one night in Silverhold, he left again for Whitefield.

The rest of the party stayed in Pastow an extra day and night establishing alibis, gathering livestock, attempting to swindle secret family recipes out of restaurateurs, and making preparations for travel back to Whitefield by ground. On the way there, they spent a full day and two nights in Healey, shopping and resupplying.

They were nearly home when a band of nine ogres ambushed the caravan. At least two of the eight hired guards were killed, as was one steer, but the ogres were killed to a man. One in particular was kept alive and told that his entire tribe had been wiped out in his absence. Believing himself to be the last living member of the Red Forks tribe, he bemoaned his fate and that of his kith and kin, before being stabbed through the neck by Kol'le, depriving the party of any useful information.

Once home in Whitefield, Vaelin received a letter from Lothligar explaining that a renegade spellsword, possibly a legendary bladebound, was on the loose, and that he had been assigned a partner in investigating the matter to apprehend the threat to Lothligar's plans. Lothligar is evidently unaware that Vaelin is the person he has sent Vaelin and Tahalamé to look for. He met with Tahalamé in the Silver Sphinx to compare notes and go over a plan to capture this mystery person and their accomplice. It was just as Tahalamé was leaving that Joshua landed his bat outside, walked in, and began to tell Vaelin what he had seen. Word soon spread to everyone else in the main party. Seralyn would still not arrive in town for four days, and Kol'le and A o had other activities they attended to.

Kol'le, still under the alias Xeno, met with Gabriel Button to discuss private matters in the hopes of resettling in Whitefield. A o spoke to Dan the animal trainer about horses and the training of animals.

The session ended on mostly a high note.


Karmic adjustments: 

Allen remains at 26.
+1 to Ao for making sure the animals in Whitefield are well treated, leaving her at undetermined +1.
Audreyn remains at 10.
Felicity remains at 13.
+1 to Joshua for helping the dying man in the alley, bringing his score to 14.
-2 to Kol'le for attacking two helpless opponents, leaving him with one less than he started with.
+2 to Seralyn for her work in Aelstow, bringing her score up to 27.
Skyler remains at 17.
Vaelin remains at 21.

Out. Out. Out.

The dwarf now known as Prisoner 0048 ran down yet another identical corridor. He'd gotten lost on purpose, but lost was still lost, and he wished he'd thought of that before, but it was too late for regrets now. People had to know. People in the city had to find out what was taking place beneath it. And that meant he had to get out. Using the hidden ways. Using the secret ways. Out. Out. Out.

He had been exploring, because there were no cells in the new prison, just rooms and traps and hallways that went the wrong way. It was hard to move between rooms because of all the locks and traps, but once you'd been there a while, you could find the halls hidden in the cracks, the doorways in the corners. But once you were in the maze, you could tell that the walls weren't real stone until you got back out. That was the way you had to go if you wanted to go safely, and the guards wouldn't question you if you appeared in the wrong room. They only cared that you were still in the prison. He had been exploring, and he'd run across that… thing, as it was going over plans for expansion. Expansion, as though the nightmare below the city wasn't large enough. There were already huge statues and altars and a whole gang of cannibals and this monster wanted to add another floor? Madness.

Of course it was madness. But people needed to know, and so he stole something while the Thing was distracted. It looked important, and personal, and magical, and that was all Prisoner 0048 needed to know about it. He forged ahead. He was getting tired, hungry, and thirsty. So very thirsty. How long had he been walking in the space between the walls? Was he even going up? Was he even going anywhere? It didn't matter. He couldn't die here. He knew what happened to the dead in this place. He kept walking.

Hours, days perhaps, passed. Normally someone in the maze would fall back out into reality by now, and he met a few other travelers along the way, but didn't stop to talk. His will kept him from going back. He had to get out. Out. Out.

A crack. He could see an exit, hear the sounds of a busy city. He'd made it. He still had the cube with him. People needed to know. He surged forward with the last of his strength, and fell out of the maze, into the real Silverhold. With a real Queen, not the Butcher Queen, deep beneath. He collapsed, unable to go further. He opened his eyes to a concerned face looking down upon him.

"So… thirsty. Help me." he rasped. The stranger gave him water, but he knew his heart was failing already. His body had consumed itself in hunger, and the water wasn't enough to thin his blood in time. There was only one thing left to do. He handed the stranger the cube. The task was his now, the responsibility bestowed. "Please… people have to know."

After that, Prisoner 0048 was pleased to find himself in the halls of Ferritus, awaiting the judgment of Ortrul. No one else in the prison had made it here.


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