The Seven Cities

Session 38 (Season 2, Episode 6) (Penilan 17-18, 102 RA)
A Giant Detour

Penilan 17: Afternoon 3_wand_reverse.jpg
They spent the afternoon preparing to leave. They determined that they would bring four of their guards with them, and Ink assured them all that ze could keep them all magically warm, so nobody bothered to pursue extra warm clothes. Instead of live mounts, they determined that Ink’s magical steeds would be preferable, being both faster and without need for care, warmth, or feed.

Before full dark had fallen, Eirlys had gone to the Explorers’ Guildhall to meet with Artoss and Master Lighttouch. She signed the Guild Contract, and the Guildmaster told her which of the Waypoints were known to have been attacked. Meanwhile, Sardis and Ink worked together to magically retrieve several vials of alchemical antivenom from Sardis’ contact in M’ziir; wyvern’s being notoriously possessed of a venomous sting.

Lord Zorin’Oze and Ezra were off to the Kazzar’s feast that night, so they bid the young Lord of Zoran farewell and thanked him for his hospitality before turning in early. They intended to set out before dawn if they could. Before they went to bed, Ink wrote a brief letter to Hallendra: “Unfortunately, my associates and I will not be able to address any concerns in M’ziir over the next few days at least, as we plan to attend to some business in the Greybane mountains.”

Penilan 18: Early Morning
They broke their fast on rolls and leftovers from the kitchen. As expected, the Lord was still abed, but Ezra woke early to wish them luck and report that the feast had been nice enough, but largely uneventful. The party and their retainers gathered in the courtyard of the Zoran manse while Ink busied zeself with various rituals before setting out into the pre-dawn of the D’kathi winter.

They left D’kath through the northgate towards the Lake Town, riding Ink’s magical steeds across the top of the snow, though they discretely detoured around Lake D’kath instead of riding across it.

The first Waypoit they wished to investigate was some 75 miles to the northeast, as the wyvern flies. Though their magical mounts could have pressed to cover the full distance within their 12 hour lifespan, Eirlys cautioned them that they would not like to be caught out in the Greybane mountains at night, even this far south in the range, if they could help it. So, they planned to make for a nearby Waypoint within an easy day’s ride, and start fresh for the ruined one on the morrow.

They discussed the howlers that had followed them from M’ziir. Even their mundane horses had outpaced the Ix’iil wolves on the road to D’kath. It seemed unlikely that the monsters, whatever they were, could keep pace with the faster magical steeds the party now rode. Still, to be safe, Ink placed an enchantment on them that masked their trail and discouraged eyes from seeing them as they traveled. if that didn’t shake their pursuers, nothing would.

Penilan 18: Midday
Unfortunately, even an eladrin memory can falter. Or perhaps the paths had just changed in the time since Eirlys had last visited the Waypoint they were seeking. Regardless, part way through the day the eladrin faltered and they had to double back. Fortunately, Sardis spotted a shortcut through a craggy pass, getting the party back on track.

Unfortunately, Ink can’t resist a mystery. As they rode between upright rock formations, the wizard spotted a cave opening with some clearly dwarven runes chiseled into the pillars carved to either side. Riding a bit closer, ze noted a small pyramidal stone monument covered in runes and placed just 30 feet or so into the cave. Predictably ze dismounted and crept inside to investigate.

Just as predictably, the cavern was occupied.

The hill giant, apparently unhappy at the intrusion of his home, came charging towards Ink and his armed escort, bellowing incomprehensibly in the tongue of giants. Sardis, Eirlys, and several of their retainers caught up with Ink in time for everyone to be discouraged from persisting by the entire tree being swung at them. To make matters worse, sounds from deeper in the tunnels resolved into the shouts, and then the persons of two juvenile hill giants (each only about the size of Sardis), come to help papa drive off the invaders.

The party was already feeling a mite squeamish about killing kids (even giant kids), when Kalyx, who had remained outside with several retainers to keep watch, shouted that they had incoming. Mama Giant, it seemed, had returned from her hunt.

With no real motivation to remain save Ink’s curiosity about a dumb old dwarven monolith, the entire party beat a fighting retreat, hopped onto their magical horses, and rode off in search of the Waypoint.

Penilan 18: Evening
They found the Waypoint just as the sun went down behind the eastern peaks. The structure itself was a simple, unmortared stone hutt, with one door and a smoke hole in the roof. It was set against a cliff, one wall opening into a very small cave (more of an overhang), on one side of a large ravine through which rushed a modest creek. There was, as promised, wood and a place to build a fire. It wasn’t much, but it was warm, and would keep the undead away while the party slept.

An few hours after full dark, they started to hear the howls.

Despite all their measures. Despite being fast and near untrackable, the howlers grew closer as the night wore on. Sleeping in shifts, the party tried to get a full-night’s rest while simultaneously preparing for the attack that Sardis said would come not long before dawn.

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Session 37 (Season 2, Episode 5) (Penilan 16-17, 102 RA)
Unsolicited Advice

Penilan 17: Evening cups07.jpg
It took a few minutes, some apologies, some coin, and a quick repair by Ink to soothe the tavern owner (one, Marlow by name) and the dangerous-looking patrons of the Crooked Spoke Tavern. But soon enough, the party was on their way to an Inn called the Hidden Bier to find a private dining room where they could talk with the somewhat-mysterioius tiefling who had “rescued” them from the writhing shadows in the alley.

Once in the private room, with drinks and some food, the tiefling and Ink both began working rituals to guard the conversation from evesdropping and intrusion. Before either could finish, Kalyx abruptly grabbed one of the crystals being used, tapped it on the table sharply, grunted, and a rumble of thunder rolled through the room. Everyone but Sardis could tell, with certainty, that any effort to scry, spy, or enter the room would trigger a thunderclap and likely be impossible. Everyone but Sardis stared at Kalyx. She shrugged.

The sketchy tiefling finally introduced himself as Alzin. He was exceptionally ugly, and chewed sourleaf such that his teeth and gums were dyed a gross russet. He made what seemed to the party to be a fairly mediocre attempt at misleading them as to his affiliation, but they fairly quickly concluded that he was a member of the technically-disbanded Astrologers’ Guild.

To his credit, once he realized his cover had utterly failed, Alzin didn’t bother to prevaricate much. He carried on with his original narrative; to wit: that the party was concerning themselves with the wrong son of Tafel’Asiel. He was frank in that the Astrologers knew, and had known for some time, that the Blood King was the Bastard of Azeth, not, in fact, the legitimate heir Ra’Asiel. He suggested that the question they should be asking themselves was “What did Israfel Az’Nul do during the more-than-a-year between when he assassinated Kok’Abiel, astrologer of Azeth, and when he returned with an army and turned the City of Azeth against itself?” More, Alzin went on, “How did he successfully convince even most of the City that he was Ra’Asiel, and what might any of it have to do with how he managed to conquer six of the seven quarrelsome Cities of Mokiir in less than a year?”

He told them that, as far as the Astrologers could discern, the Bastard had fled through the Weilleren’rell, the waterroads after killing Kok’Abiel. He seemed to have taken the elemental ways to the Silverstream River near Dabin, then taken a ship to Rook’s Landing, and then to Beygin. Beyond that, nothing was known of Israfel until he’d appeared in the throne room at the Palace of Night on the evening of The Succession.

The party listened with moderate curiosity. Though they seemed at least as interested in why Alzin would help them, and in why he thought they oughtn’t just kill him? Alzin seemed surprisingly unconcerned, pointing out that they were in a crowded in and that the party couldn’t afford trouble. Still, he did halfheartedly seek an assurance from Kalyx that he would be allowed to leave unharmed in return for the information he shared. As for his motives in helping them, he pointed out quasi-enigmatically that different people or groups within a single organization often have differing agendas, beliefs, and methods.

They did let him leave unharmed.

And then returned to the manse of Zorin’Oze, only to find Ezra fairly bursting with news from the Court of D’kath.

Penilan 16: Near Midnight

Ezra revealed (interrupted briefly by a drunken Zorin’Oze, who confirmed Ezra’s tale and then awkwardly tried to get Eirlys to sleep with him) that there had been no audience with Kazzar Luran’Sulazin because the Aechellans had appeared at Court.

The Aechellan envoy, lead by Father Commander Martin Aulgrade, had come to “…formally reaffirm in these troubled times the ancient peace between D’kath and Aechell.” Several of the tiefling nobles had snickered at the use of the term “ancient” to describe the peace, as there had been war in their grandparents’ lifetimes. Regardless, the Kazzar had greeted the Aechellans courteously. There had been gifts, introductions, and the royal herald had announced plans for a feast to honor the Aechellan envoy to take place on the morrow.

Which, proclaimed Ezra dramatically, had been when Kaz’Kazzar Isra’Asiel had appeared. The High king, complete with ruby diadem and large, curving horns, had pushed his way from the back of the great hall and announced his delighted welcome of the envoy of D’kath. It had caused, needless to say, quite a stir, and the Aechellans had been downright stunned.

So, concluded Ezra, there was to be a feast on the evening of the 17th, and, well…if the rest of them wished to be invited, he supposed he could see to it. At least for Ink and Sardis, that was.

Nobody was interested in the feast, but they did question Ezra closely about the size and shape of the Blood King’s horns in a manner that would have made any respectable tiefling blush. The smiling bard, understanding their interest once they’d filled him in on their discoveries from the evening, clarified that the Kaz’Kazzar’s horns had not been ram-shaped, but more like a goat. Still, from the description, it was clear that they were now substantially larger than Ink and Sardis recalled, and moreso that could be accounted for by the simple passage of time.

Everyone went to sleep shortly thereafter, but not before Ink sent a brief, magical message to Kaijo back in M’ziir. “Can you confirm the location of the Kaz’Kazzar,” asked the wizard. “Expected to arrive here day-after-tomorrow,” came the reply. Plenty of time, assuming the High King traveled through the mage guild circles.

Penilan 17: Morning
The morning passed with more discussion over breakfast, and the party decided, somewhat halfheartedly, to investigate the likely Weilleren’rell entrance beneath D’kath, in case they decided to pursue the mystery of the Bastard of Azeth. To that end, after confirming that Eirlys didn’t know where it could be found, Sardis and Kalyx left the manse to see if they could discover anything.

Meanwhile, Ink and Eirlys gathered their things and set off to the Queue for their midday meeting with Lobbus Lighttouch, head of the Explorers’ Guild.

Penilan 17: Midday at Kathazan Square
Sardis and Kalyx explored Kathazan Square, the great central plaza of the City. The busy square was lined mostly with municipal government buildings, great stern, stone structures entirely function over form. Outside several of the buildings stood rows of stocks complete with prisoners serving out their sentences, which, in the chill of the D’kathi winter, seemed to consist largely of exposure. Several permanent gallows stood nearby, currently empty.

Scattered across the square were five large, ice-rimed public fountains where people from around D’kath came to gather, trade gossip, and fetch water. At the center of the Square was a sixth fountain, larger than the others, in the center of which stood a great, bronze statue of a bold looking tiefling noblewoman, with a crown of swept-back horns, hand outstretched as if summoning the fountain’s water from the depths below the City.

Somehow, even in the frigid Penilan air, the fountains still flowed. Sardis and Kalyx tasted the water, felt it’s energy, sniffed it. They listened and breathed at the drain grates that peppered the icy square. They got a lot of stares.

In the end, they concluded that the City’s water must come from an elemental font, likely connected to the Weilleren’rell. Curious, they returned to Zorin’Oze’s manse to see if D’kath’s Lord Az’Zoran could point them in the direction of the public utilities building.

Penilan 17: Midday at the Crooked Spoke
Meanwhile, Ink and Eirlys returned to the Crooked Spoke to speak to Lobbus Lighttouch, Head of the Explorers’ Guild.

When they reached the tavern, the barman, Marlow, greeted them as old friends, commenting that Ink’s repair had rid his doors of a squeak that had troubled him for years! Business at the Spoke was moderate around lunchtime, but the music was good, with the halfling bard who had been there the night before strumming way lazily on a lute by the fire.
To Ink’s mild surprise, Eirlys strode purposefully towards the halfling whose face broke into a wide grin when he saw her.

Guildmaster Lighttouch was fair-haired for a halfling, with exactly the sort of roguish charm one would expect. The sur’maga and the bard clasped arms in greeting, as Lighttouch exclaimed that he’d thought he’d seen her with that bunch of ruffians last night! And that he knew Artoss was a new face, but why wouldn’t she have said something when she was at the Guildhall yesterday?

Ink learned that Eirlys was not only a current member of the Explorers’ Guild, but that she’d been a well known and successful Guild Ranger until a few years back. As they all sat down for a drink and meal, the two Explorer’s exchanged news and stories, though not, Ink noted, without a healthy dose of mutual, cagey evasion.

Once things had settled down a bit, Lighttouch grew more somber. It was, he said, bad out there. He asked if Eirlys would consider coming back. She declined politely, and conversation moved on to Ink’s interest in introducing the The Waaz Ora’adz model to D’kath, particularly in the queue.

Lighttouch seemed…perhaps suspiciously bland on the idea, pointedly noting that currying favor with him personally wouldn’t prove the value of a Fight Club to the Queue or the Guild. Ink was somewhat nonplussed by the blunt display of apparent uncorruptability.

Into the break in conversation, Lighttouch pointedly noted that, right now, the Guild was struggling and not in a position to help much anyway. It turned out that when Lighttouch had said it was “bad out there,” he meant that the Guild had lost a number of Rangers and Waystations in the past few months. Wyverns, allegedly. But fire-breathing ones, which, everyone knew, was simply not a thing.

Eirlys and Ink understood. Eirlys asked if Lighttouch would like her and her companions to see if they could do something about the problem. Or, at least, learn more about it. Ink figured aloud that if the Guild could be returned to its normal, thriving business, perhaps the issue of the Waaz Ora’adz could be made more of a priority.

Lightfoot, apparently surprised and overwhelmed by the generous offer of help, accepted gladly. Though standard Explorer’s Guild contract rates would apply, of course. He invited them to stop by the Guildhall and sign off with Artoss if the rest of their companions decided the job was worthwhile.

Penilan 17: Afternoon at Zorin’Oze’s Manse
Back at the manse, Kalyx and Sardis found Lord Zorin’Oze in his sitting room with Hallendra, the Blood King’s elvin advisor who Sardis had known back in Okorian.

At Hallendra’s request, Zorin’Oze excused himself. Hallendra greeted Sardis warmly (for an elf), but was rebuffed to mere politeness by Sardis apparent mistrust and caution. Nonetheless, though she had hoped to find Magistrate Pendred with them, the elvin mage put forth the High King’s request for Sardis and his companion’s assistance.

King Isra’Asiel was, she said, concerned about the rumors of unseasonal wyvern activity in the Greybane Mountains. The wyverns had ever been creatures of the Jade Queen, and any change in behavior warranted attention. Hallendra stated frankly that though this request could not be made officially at this time, for political reasons, her King would be very grateful to the group, who had done him excellent service in the past, if they would investigate the situation.

She departed politely, leaving the two most awkward members to discuss the situation. Kalyx was eager to investigate anything touching on “Mother.” Sardis grudgingly admitted that, though he did not trust the elf, King Isra’Asiel had done well by the Grauberg in the past.

When the other two returned to the Manse, Eirlys confirmed that she knew exactly where the public utilities building was, but all four of them agreed that investigating rogue, firebreathing wyverns sounded like more fun than trudging through sewers searching for secrets about the High King’s past.

NEWS AND RUMORS: D’kath
The word in the streets and taverns is…

  • The Kaz’Kazzar wears a glowing ruby diadem on his brow that allows him to influence the minds of those around him.
  • The Thieve’s Guilds has been infiltrated by a dark menace from the Shadowfell that seeks to control Mokiir.
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of a dark menace from the shadowfell that seeks to control Mokiir
  • The Blood King is able to see, hear, and even appear anywhere in Mokiir at will. He knows when anyone speaks his name.
  • The cult of the dead god Khalipanofax is seeking to find a foothold in Mokiir.
  • The mountain towns and holds around D’kath are being harried by wyverns much more than is usual for this time of year.
  • The Grauberg orcs have wiped out the goblinoids in the hills outside M’ziir.
  • The touch of the Shadowfell on the dreams of the godless is growing stronger. Night terrors have turned murderous and things grow worse as Nemidahl approaches.
  • There will be no truce with Darakor, and Mokiir will find itself at war with all the other nations of the west.
  • Beaten, the Kaz’Kazzar will bend a knee to Ren’Raatha of Darakor, who will be the new Kaz’Kazzar.
  • The Astrologer’s Guild has been abolished by the Guild Counsel at the insistence of the Shepherds
  • Undead plague the hills and mountains north of D’kath.
  • The orcs of Maelechar have departed, en masse, to the north, leaving their dark homeland empty and unguarded.
  • In the fell wastes of Maelechar, a group of heroes have prevented a dark cataclysm from starting in the cursed orcish city of Ur Ta Shaal.
  • The ancient primordials stir in their slumber and will soon awaken to make war on the gods.
  • The Mules are setting up a chapter in D’kath.
  • The Wild Hunt haunts the highways of northern Mokiir, preparing to carry away the souls of those who fall in the impending battles with Darakor and Aechell
  • A diplomatic envoy from Aechell reached D’kath on Penilan the 15th, the day before a dimplomatic envoy from M’ziir.
  • The Wild Hunt followed the envoy from M’ziir all the way to D’kath
  • A powerful sorcerer has come to D’kath with plans to take over the mage’s guild.
  • The Kaz’Kazzar has come to D’kath to treat with Aechell and forge an alliance against Darakor and the rest of the nations of the Blessed Lands
  • The fisherfolk of Laketown north of D’kath have been losing people to the Wild Hunt the last few nights.
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Session 36 (Season 2, Session 4) (Penilan 16, 102 RA)
The Blacksmith's Tale

Penilan 16: Midday
Kalyx arrived in D’kath by way of the teleportation circle at the Mage’s Guild. High Mage Edratha had funded her travel as a favor to Magistrate Pendred. pents08.jpgTo the best of her knowledge she’d arrived in plenty of time to rendezvous with the rest of the envoy, and to meet with Emmirus the Alchemist, who had put her off in M’ziir, but invited her to find him at the Alchemist Guild hall in D’kath.

As she made her way out of the Mages’ tower, she could hear the whispers of “sorcerer” and “dragonblooded” following her through the halls. She never heard her name spoken, but it was clear that her inborn magical talent was apparent, and uncomfortable, for those whose mastery of the arcane came only through years of tedious study.

She arrived at the manse of Zorin’Oze Az’Zoran shortly after the rest of the the party. They had passed through the Clerks’ Plaza shortly before midday, and had bathed and joined the young Lord for lunch. They discussed politics, the presence of the Aechellan emissaries in D’kath. They discussed the Slavers’ Guild and Kazzar Liran’Sulazzin. Zorin’Oze revealed himself to be a generally jovial, charming, elitist, foppish, cunning, basically good-natured …tiefling noble. Though his clearly genuine affection for Sur’maga Eirlys seemed to translate to a general warmth towards the rest of the party.

Penilan 16: Afternoon After a lunch and a brief respite from their travel, the party split up.
Ezra took a couple of guards to present himself to the Kazzar at Court.
Kalyx begged off to meet with Emmirus.
The others waited as Ink conducted a ritual, mumbling in a strange tongue and “listening to the whispers of the City.” The wizard seemed certain that the smith, Genvien, was operating in the Quester’s Quarter (or, the “Queue”), and that the Aechellans had already shown an interest in her shop.

Meeting with Emmirus was…enlightening for Kalyx. She was met with some disdain by the halfling Hallmaster, and had to make repeated attempts to even get in the door. Once there, Emmirus treated her as though she were an annoying petitioner for an apprenticeship. He excused the two of them to a private, warded laboratory, where, he explained, they could then speak freely.

First, Kalyx wanted to know why Emmirus wouldn’t meet her in M’ziir. Simply enough, the scarred alchemist explained that there were simply too many eyes and ears watching them both in M’ziir, which seemed reasonable enough.

They proceeded to a cagey conversation involving a lot of answering questions with questions. The upshot was that Kalyx learned the nature of the artifact that she and the other Retrievers had been trained to fetch: a scroll. A simple, but powerful and rare scroll. Emmirus explained that Khalipanofax, “Mother,” who was quite apparently not actually destroyed in the Blighting, had refused to commune with any eladrin since the end of the The Redemption Wars. The “Wardens” she’d grown up with were the surviving eladrin Sorcerer Priests, who were desperately trying to make contact with their god, who simply would not speak to them. The scroll, they’d hoped, would allow them to do so.

Emmirus claimed to not know what had happened at the Village, or where the Wardens and slaves had gone. He did, however, hint at other, deeper knowledge, including, perhaps, more about her own past, The Island, and The Voice she’d felt rumbling within her. But, he said, they should continue the conversation at a later date, lest the arouse suspicions.

With that, he ushered her out, loudly proclaiming her unfit for alchemy, and giving her a good slap to make it convincing. Kalyx left the Guild Hall to meet up with her companions.

Despite the increased urgency caused by the news of Aechellans interest in Genvien Arrol, the party didn’t go directly to Arrol’s Warworks. They wandered the Queue for a time first, and even paid a visit to the Explorers’ Guild Hall, where they rendezvoused with Kalyx.

At the Hall they met the Hallmaster, a dwarf named Artoss Hookhand, whose hands both seemed to be quite intact. Artoss was gruff, but friendly enough, and engaged in friendly banter with the group, commenting that they seemed like the sorts who might make good money through the Explorer’s Guild. Unfortunately, he also informed them that Guildmaster Lobbus Lighttouch was far to busy to meet with them any time in the next week or so.

Fortunately, the party was able to leverage their titles and prestige, with a nudge from Ink’s mind-altering whispers, to convince Artoss to set up a meeting for them at the Crooked Spoke Tavern in the afternoon on Penilan the 17th.

The group spent another few hours exploring the Queue and poking around Jehnahn’s Market. Sardis was almost cited and arrested for public urination, but managed to intimidate the guard who’d caught him into letting it slide.

Penilan 16: Evening

The party didn’t approach Arrol’s Warworks until the shadows had begun to lengthen. The shop was busy, with what seemed to be at least three forges running in a walled area behind the store proper. The party perused the store, eventually gaining the attention of a sales clerk, whom they asked about speaking directly to the Master Smith, Genvien Arrol.

They were put off, assured, delayed, and, eventually, directed to the Mastersmith’s mother, Annabelle Arrol, a robust, middle-aged human woman with a rosy-yet-businesslike disposition.

The elder Arrol also tried to put the party off, but was eventually induced to arrange a meeting between her daughter and the party, but only after normal business hours.

As they waited, the party grew suspicious.

Then they met Genvien Arrol, and understood.
The burly, but otherwise somewhat unremarkable young human woman shuffled in, shoulders slightly hunched, and whispered a greeting. As she invited the party into one of the small, private consultation rooms in the rear of the shop, it became quickly apparent that the master smith was just…painfully shy.

Once in the private consultation room, the party, with surprising deftness, managed to broach the subject of the Azethi Succession.

Her first notable reaction was one of fear. It seemed as though several Aechellans had been by earlier in the day, asking, obliquely, about the same evening. She seemed fairly shaken to be asked the same questions by officials from M’ziir.

But, as they coaxed the story from her, they found that her tale was, in it’s details, not much different from Jorin Remms’ version.

They learned that Genvien’s master, the dwarven smith Loras, who had turned against her and the palace guards, had not been himself since he’d returned from Tor Endull two weeks before the succession.

They also learned that Genvien had seen the Prince of Azeth many times, and that he’d had large, curling ram’s horns, remarkable due to their size and shape, very different from the more typical horns of the Aziil bloodline.

Finally, they learned that the tiefling, Fate, whom Genvien had fled Azeth with, had almost certainly been the prince, and that Genvien knew it, though she had been careful not to say so outright as part of the telling.

Penilan 16: Nightfall

As the young smith finished her tale, full dark was settling in around D’kath. The party was reassuring Genvien, obliquely, that her tale would remain secret, and discussing the ordering of some custom goods as a thank you and explanation for their visit, the true purpose of which they had been careful to obfuscate all day. Just then, Kalyx, Ink, and Eirlys all felt, and then saw, a small, raven-sized blur of energy, which resolved into a small mass of writhing tentacles, hovering near the ceiling behind Genvien. A familiar of some sort, and seemingly connected to the Ix’iil in some way. The familiar, revealed, fled through the wall and away.

Sardis, Ink, and Kalyx bolted to their feet, and rushed out of Arrol’s Warworks to give chase, while Eirlys lingered to reassure the Arrols and complete the transaction necessary to everyone’s cover.

Once into the well-lit but winding streets of D’kath’s Queue, the party became sparated. Ink and Kalyx, unable to give pursuit based on pure athleticism, each sought to anticipate the familiar’s path and cut it off. Sardis, meanwhile, kept the spirit in sight and attempted to run it down.

Eventually, Sardis, closing the distance, noticed that the familiar had darted down an alley full of a suspicious, writhing darkness. Thinking better of charging through, Sardis instead smashed directly through the back-door of the neighboring tavern, not slowing until he’d passed fully through the building, smashing through another door and into the alley beyond the darkness. And also directly into a robed and hooded tiefling, knocking the suspicious stranger to the ground.

Ink and Kaylx caught up, from different directions, and a tendril of writhing darkness lashed out at the sorceress, driving her briefly out of the present and into her darkest and most painful memories.

Ink sought to control the darkness with ze’s magic; meanwhile the tiefling stranger was loudly proclaiming himself an ally, and asking to be allowed to help.

Cautiously, Sardis let the wiry tiefling stand. Upon rising, he called out in a strange tongue, summoning a great, blindingly bright orb of light into the dark alley. The light flashed brilliantly, then faded. When it was gone, the shadows and the Ix’iilan familiar had disappeared as well.

The angry barkeep was still there though. Him and a half-dozen rough-looking adventurer-types who had taken exception to the damage to their favorite tavern.

NEWS AND RUMORS: D’kath
The word in the streets and taverns is…

  • The Kaz’Kazzar wears a glowing ruby diadem on his brow that allows him to influence the minds of those around him.
  • The Thieve’s Guilds has been infiltrated by a dark menace from the Shadowfell that seeks to control Mokiir.
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of a dark menace from the shadowfell that seeks to control Mokiir
  • The Church of Tulvar is a front for the Cult of Subher
  • The Blood King is able to see, hear, and even appear anywhere in Mokiir at will. He knows when anyone speaks his name.
  • The cult of the dead god Khalipanofax is seeking to find a foothold in Mokiir.
  • The towns and farms around D’kath are being harried by wyverns much more than is usual for this time of year.
  • The Grauberg orcs have wiped out the goblinoids in the hills outside M’ziir.
  • The touch of the Shadowfell on the dreams of the godless is growing stronger. Night terrors have turned murderous and things grow worse as Nemidahl approaches.
  • There will be no truce with Darakor, and Mokiir will find itself at war with all the other nations of the west.
  • Beaten, the Kaz’Kazzar will bend a knee to Ren’Raatha of Darakor, who will be the new Kaz’Kazzar.
  • The Astrologer’s Guild has been abolished by the Guild Counsel at the insistence of the Shepherds
  • Undead plague the hills and mountains north of D’kath.
  • The orcs of Maelechar have departed, en masse, to the north, leaving their dark homeland empty and unguarded.
  • In the fell wastes of Maelechar, a group of heroes have prevented a dark cataclysm from starting in the cursed orcish city of Ur Ta Shaal.
  • The ancient primordials stir in their slumber and will soon awaken to make war on the gods.
  • The Mules are setting up a chapter in D’kath.
  • The Wild Hunt haunts the highways of northern Mokiir, preparing to carry away the souls of those who fall in the impending battles with Darakor and Aechell
  • A diplomatic envoy from Aechell reached D’kath on Penilan the 15th, the day before a dimplomatic envoy from M’ziir.
  • The Wild Hunt followed the envoy from M’ziir all the way to D’kath
  • A powerful sorcerer has come to D’kath with plans to take over the mage’s guild.
  • The Kaz’Kazzar has come to D’kath in secret to treat with Aechell.
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Session 35 (Season 2, Episode 3) (Penilan 13-16, 102 RA)
The Road to D'kath

Penilan 13: Early morningchariot.jpg
Sardis, Ink, and Eirlys left for D’kath at first light on Penilan the 13th. They traveled as part of an envoy lead by Ezra, head of the Free Laborer’s Guild, and accompanied by an escort of ten warriors from the Shade, the Magistrate’s Guard, and the Grau Berg hacholu. Pendred remained in the City at the order of the Kazzar, and Kalyx remained in the hopes of having her meeting with Emmirus the Alchemist, and promised to catch up to the rest of the group in D’kath later.

In the days between the raid on the Thieves’ Guild and their departure, they had processed those captured in the raid, and Sardis had gone to speak with his grandmother, Tamok Kazan. He asked her if she had any recollection of meeting refugees from Azeth in the spring of 101 RA. The ancient hacholu did indeed recall meeting a teifling nobleman, calling himself “Fate,” whose associates had skirmished with Grau Berg warriors before Fate had talked everyone down. She described Fate in much the same way Mage Edratha had, adding that he was “honey tongued, but black of heart.” This he shared as the party traveled.

The envoy left from L’ekar and made good time, reaching the crossroads town of Ressik shortly after nightfall on Penilan the 13th.

Penilan 13: Night in Ressik
That night, the party stayed at an inn called The Sheppherd’s Rest. Before they went to bed, Sardis had to break up a fight that almost started when one of the townies accused one of the Grau Berg guards of cheating at dice. The fight was avertwd by some quick thinking and a round of drinks, but Rollauch the hacholu was sent home in shame (quietly) because Sardis and the rest of the group were pretty sure he actually had been cheating.

Around midnight, Sardis, Ink, and Eirlys were roused from their rests by the bone-chilling sound of distant howling. When the sound repeated, instilling them all with a vague but palpable sense of dread, the three briefly conferred with Ezra before leaving the town to investigate.

The howling continued, circling Ressik at a distance, so they let Sardis lead them in doing the same. They looked for clues as to the nature of the sound while seeking to keep it on the other side of the town for the time being.

Eventually they spotted tracks. They followed the tracks, and examined signs that only Sardis could see, and felt the strange, nauseating energies that seemed to linger where the “howlers” had been. Together they determined that the things out there were some sort of far-realm-twisted wolves, or possibly worgs. There was a small pack of about a half-dozen that seemed to have followed the party to Ressik. More concerning, one of the howlers was much larger than the others. A great beast the size of a horse and, apparently, ridden by a humanoid of some sort, likely an elf, human, or ashai. The more they heard the howls of the twisted, likely spined or tentacled creatures, the more convinced they were that they did not wish to encounter the creatures at night on open ground.

They returned to the Shepherd’s Rest and, after a brief discussion with Ezra, agreed that they must assume that this pack of howlers was indeed following them. They decided to leave before daybreak. All signs suggested that the howlers would be unable to keep pace with their horses. They would ride hard for Linz the next day and hope to draw the howlers away from Ressik.

The townsfolk of Ressik slept poorly that night, and when the party rose the next morning, murmurs among the bleary-eyed townsfolk, as well as the party’s guards, spoke of the Wild Hunt prowling the cold winter nights of Mokiir.

Penilan 14: Ressik to Linz

The howlers dogged their trail all the way to D’kath. But the party managed to stay ahead of them. They rode hard for Linz on the 14th. With Ezra using his inspirational words to lend speed to their travel, they reached the trade outpost only a few hours after nightfall, though their mounts were quite weary by the time they stopped. Along the way they managed to spot and avoid an attempted ambush by goblinoids in the hills south of Linz, though afterwards they all wondered if it mightn’t have been less work, and more good to Mokiir to simply fell the raiders.

When they stopped in Linz on the night of the 14th, they learned that Aechell was sending an envoy to D’kath, likely to arrive around the same time as the party. This caused them all some concern, but there seemed to be nothing for it.

That same night, Eirlys received word by fairy courier from Zorin’Oze Az’Zoran, confirming that the party was more than welcome to stay with him at his townhome in the City for the duration of their stay. Genial inquiry into the nature of Eirlys’ connection to the D’kath Zorans lead to the revelation that Eirlys had been a slave to Zorin’Oze’s household since the days of his grandparents, having been freed by Zorin’Oze’s father in his will in gratitude for decades of loyal service. The party learned that Eirlys had sold herself into slavery following the Redemption Wars, during which she had served as Sur’Maga to one of the Sorcerer Priests of Khalipanofax. The party’s shock was only somewhat lessened when they learned that Eirlys had slain her mage during the battle of Setheris Om, where the Sorcerer Priests had raised a vast army of undead from the crypts beneath the eladrin necropolis.

Nobody rested easy that night, though the night was apparently free of the howlers’ baying.

Penilan 15-16th: Linz to D’kath

The next day’s travel was relatively uneventful, but when they stopped in the village of Alz for the night, they again heard the Howlers haunting the night.

Fearing an ambush on the sometimes precarious road to D’kath, the party found a Sheppherd-guarded merchant caravan to travel with for the final leg of their journey. As they traveled beside and overlooking the Lazlo River, the howls of their pursuers echoed through the hills and canyons on and off throughout the morning, causing dire whispers among the Shepherds and merchants.

When they arrived at the gates of D’kath around midday, those with the caravan seemed relieved to see the envoy go their own way.

NEWS AND RUMORS: D’kath
The word in the streets and taverns is…

  • The Kaz’Kazzar wears a glowing ruby diadem on his brow that allows him to influence the minds of those around him.
  • The Kaz’Kazzar will arrive in M’ziir soon to prepare for the negotiations to begin at the new year.
  • The Thieve’s Guilds has been infiltrated by a dark menace from the Shadowfell and seek to control Mokiir.
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of Subher, god of assassins and thieves.
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of a dark menace from the shadowfell seeking to control Mokiir
  • The Church of Tulvar is a front for the Cult of Subher
  • The Blood King is able to see, hear, and even appear anywhere in Mokiir at will. He knows when anyone speaks his name.
  • The cult of the dead god Khalipanofax is seeking to find a foothold in Mokiir.
  • The towns and farms around D’kath are being harried by wyverns much more than is usual for this time of year.
  • The Grauberg orcs have wiped out the goblinoids in the hills outside M’ziir.
  • The touch of the Shadowfell on the dreams of the godless is growing stronger. Night terrors have turned murderous and things grow worse as Nemidahl approaches.
  • There will be no truce with Darakor, and Mokiir will find itself at war with all the other nations of the west.
  • Beaten, the Kaz’Kazzar will bend a knee to Ren’Raatha of Darakor, who will be the new Kaz’Kazzar.
  • The Astrologer’s Guild has been abolished by the Guild Counsel at the insistence of the Shepherds
  • Undead plague the hills and mountains north of D’kath.
  • The orcs of Maelechar have departed, en masse, to the north, leaving their dark homeland empty and unguarded.
  • In the fell wastes of Maelechar, a group of heroes have prevented a dark cataclysm in the cursed orcish city of Ur Ta Shaal.
  • The ancient primordials stir in their slumber and will soon awaken to make war on the gods.
  • The Mules are setting up a chapter in D’kath.
  • The Wild Hunt haunts the highways of northern Mokiir, preparing to carry away the souls of those who fall in the impending battles with Darakor and Aechell
  • A diplomatic envoy from Aechell reached D’kath on Penilan the 15th.
  • The Wild Hunt followed the envoy from M’ziir all the way to D’kath
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Session 34 (Season 2, Session 2) (Penilan 10, 102 RA)
News and Clues

pagewands.jpg

Penilan 10, Mid-Morning

Naturally, with a little while to spare before returning to the primary raid site, the party decided to work some quick necromancy. After some ten minutes of ritual preparation, Ink’s face took on an eerie cast and he asked questions of the corpses of Avel’Emaz Az’Dazuur and Divinter. The reluctant corpses sputtered, choked, and coughed out the following information:

Avel’Emaz was killed by the Thieves’ Guild because he’d come and threatened them. It seemed that Avel’Emaz’s cousin, Bizil’El, known childhood friend to the late Lord Kalaz’Ikar, had sent Avel’Emaz to threaten the Guild because Bizil’El was displeased with the Guild’s progress “questioning the elf.” The party inferred that “the elf” in question was poor Poney, who no one had seen in months.

In death, Divinter succumbed to Ink’s authoritative demands as he would not to Pendred’s in life. He revealed the names of the Master’s of the Thieves’ Guild in each of the Seven Cities, including the revelation that D’kath, and now M’ziir, had no Master, and that Darakor’s was unknown.

When asked about the Blood King, Divinter’s corpse gurgled out that, “He was foretold. Kok’Abiel brought him forth. The…Bastard of Azeth.”

Divinter also revealed that he had traveled to D’kath to seek and reestablish lost contact with that chapter, and found them operating out of a bedraggled old warehouse on the edge of the city, in even worse shape than M’ziir’s chapter. They were trying to pick a new Guildmaster, and Divinter bullied them into choosing him and bestowing the dagger on him, though that honor traditionally belonged to the Hand of each chapter. This was shortly after Unification. It seemed that the day’s raid had done away with the heads of two chapters of the Guild for the price of one.

Having completed their macabre interrogation, the party ordered the tiefling’s body returned to his family, and Divinter’s decapitated so that the head could be tarred and put on display outside the Magistrate’s offices. The guards set about the stinky tasks and the party returned to the site of the main raid.

When they returned, Pendred was pulled aside by Shepherd Azira, commander of the Shepherds’ forces in the raid. The two dragonborn discussed what to do with the Guild prisoners. They were soon joined by High Mage Tallis Edratha, and eventually by Eirlys, Kalyx, and Ink.

It was ultimately decided that Ink and the High Mage would screen the guild members for Ix’iil infection. Those who were infected would be freed if possible, executed if not. Those who seemed amenable to adjusting their loyalties would be encouraged to join the Shade or the Mules. Those who were judged too undependable would be sold as slaves, with mutilations if necessary.

In the controlled chaos of the raid clean up, Elder Vindur, who lead the Grau Berg forces in the raid, approached Sardis and the party, making a point of mentioning that he wanted to have a look at the dough-skinned “warriors” who killed his son. Vindur walked away when faced with Sardis’ sick retaliatory burns.

As they all prepared to leave and return to their other duties, High Mage Edratha took the party aside and noted that she had made arrangements for M’ziiran Guardsman Jorin Remms, formerly of Azeth, to visit Magistrate at his office shortly after dinner time.

Penilan 10: Early Evening

That evening, after dining together, the party gathered at Pendred’s offices to meet with Guardsman Remms.

Jorin Remms was a plain man in his late 20s. He had the bearing of a career soldier, but without any sense of passion or special aptitude for the work. He was clearly uncomfortable and intimidated by the Magistrate and other well-known party members. He told his tale and answered questions readily, if somewhat obsequiously.

He had indeed served as part of the Azethi City Guard in 100 and early 101 RA. He admitted to having seen Prince Ra’Asiel several times, but only ever at a distance like most of the common folk.

Jorin had been off duty the night of the Succession on Jehnaran the 5th of 101 RA. He remembers a few hours after nightfall, the city alarms began sounding High Alert. The city had been looking to the Northwest after word of the Aechellan attack on New Cormorell earlier in that day, and had somehow missed the small army of Mercenaries who had approached surprisingly close to Azeth from the south.

Suddenly, in the chaos of the City’s preparation for an unexpected attack, fighting broke out. In the Palace, in the streets, everywhere. The Palace and City Guards had, without warning, turned against each other. In minutes the City had turned to utter, bloody chaos.

Jorin later heard that the army had been Tafel’Asiel’s bastard, come to claim the throne. The guards who turned traitor had been sympathizers, who had been lying in wait since the Bastard’s exile a few years prior. Jorin also found out later that King Tafel’Asiel had been slain in the fighting, but that the Bastard had been too. When things calmed down, Prince Ra’Asiel had changed his name to Isra’Asiel and ascended to the crown. The Bastard’s army never attacked, and retreated south.

Still, Jorin said, as it was all happening, nobody could tell what was going on. Many fled the city. Jorin did not flee, “No, sir, M’lord.” He was asked by a tiefling lord to help escort him and a handful of others out of the City with a handful of other guards. They managed to get a bit into the Grey Peak foothills, maybe 20 miles, before first light, at which time they all parted ways.

When asked about the people he’d helped to flee the fighting in Azeth, Jorin said that besides a handful of guards and servants, his group had consisted of the noble, a mage, a Smith, and several merchants who hadn’t stood out to Jorin.

The noble had been a tiefling, of course. A male with very dark skin and, he thought, large horns. He had kept his hood up, and had made Jorin indefinably uneasy. He hadn’t given a name, and had left for Rook’s Landing with two guards and one of the merchants. They’d been on horses, Jorin recalled. And had gone by way of Dabin.

The mage had been a human male. His name had been Alissar?…Alissand?..Alsalan?…something like that. He had mentioned the Silver Spire mage’s college in New Cormorell, and was headed back there. He’d been a skinny lad, young, dark hair, not bad looking but clearly a mage, “if M’Lords know what I mean.” When asked if he recalled more, Jorin recalled that the mage had carried a staff with a crystal atop that glowed yellow when they needed light.

The Smith had been a young human woman. Genvien. She’d been apprenticed to the Royal Smith at the Palace of Night, Gerrund Loras. Jorin remembered Genvien being more upset than the others. She’d told him that Master Loras had attacked the guards without provocation, and had turned on Genvien when she’d tried to intervene. She’d fled and was headed home to D’kath. She’d been of average height. Short, curly, reddish blonde hair. Her arms had been thick and her breasts small, as you’d expect from a smith.

Throughout his recitation and in response to the party’s questions, Jorin had practically fallen over himself to share whatever he could remember. His eagerness gave pause to several of the more insightful members of the party. How well could they trust the details recalled by one so very clearly terrified of being unable to provide enough information?

When all was through, Jorin asked if he was free to go. Clearly he feared that he might be in trouble with the Magistrate, though because of his leaving Azeth in the way he had, or because of some imagined failing of his recollection, it was hard to tell. Pendred, of course, sent the frightened man off with a few coins for his help, and an assurance to put in a good word on the guardsman’s behalf.

Penilan 10: Late Evening

After Jorin departed, the party discussed their plans over small, warm glasses of the strange, clear “wine” that Pendred liked. It did not take them long to decide that, as expected, D’kath made the most sense as a destination. Everyone in the party had a legitimate reason to go there and ask around the City, and Eirlys said she was on friendly terms with one of the Az’Zorans there.

It was decided that Pendred would arrange an official envoy to D’kath with the purpose of opening negotiations for the creation of a Freeman’s Guild chapter there. The party would come along as either Pendred’s associates, or representatives of other interests in their own respective rights.

The envoy would leave on the morning of Penilan 13th.

While preparations were being made, Sardis planned to speak to his grandmother, Shaman Tamok Kazan, who he recalled mentioning encountering a mysterious tiefling around that time.

Meanwhile, Eirlys and Kalyx, with a brief nod towards subtlety, accosted Emmirus the Alchemist in the streets of M’ziir so that Kalyx could demand to know his connection to the Wardens of her childhood. Emmirus, ever calm and collected, sidestepped the sorcerer’s brash inquiry, but invited the two to meet him at his laboratory at a later date to discuss the matter.

NEWS AND RUMORS
The word in the streets and taverns is…

  • The Kaz’Kazzar wears a glowing ruby diadem on his brow that allows him to influence the minds of those around him.
  • The Kaz’Kazzar will arrive in M’ziir soon to prepare for the negotiations to begin at the new year.
  • The wizards of M’ziir’s Mages’ College are recruiting M’ziiran youth to the service of the eladrin
  • High Mage Tallis Edratha has secret and terrible connections to the cursed city of Old Cormorell.
  • The Thieve’s Guilds throughout M’ziir have been infiltrated by a dark menace from the Shadowfell and seek to control all of Mokiir.
  • The Thieve’s Guild in M’ziir has been wiped out by the Shepherds and The Shade.
  • Akra, the Shade’s deadliest enforcer, is secretly an agent of the Thieve’s Guild working to undermine the security of M’ziir and the Pale Quarter
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of Subher, god of assassins and thieves.
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of a dark menace from the shadowfell seeking to rule and control Mokiir
  • The Church of Tulvar is a front for the Cult of Subher
  • The nobles of the Duzuur bloodline are secretly connected to the Thieves’ Guild.
  • Divinter Red Hands, former gladiator and slave, was killed in a raid by the Shepherds and Shade against the M’ziiran Thieves’ Guild
  • The Blood King is able to see, hear, and even appear anywhere in Mokiir at will. He knows when anyone speaks his name.
  • The cult of the dead god Khalipanofax is seeking to find a foothold in Mokiir.
  • The Ix’iil were a front for cultists attempting to bring the worship of the dead goddess Khalipanofax back to Mokiir.
  • The towns and farms around D’kath are being harried by wyverns much more than is usual for this time of year.
  • The Grauberg orcs have wiped out the goblinoids in the hills outside M’ziir.
  • The Shade employs a powerful wizard who can see your lies and the stains on your soul, passing judgment on any who run afoul of the Shade’s justice.
  • The touch of the Shadowfell on the dreams of the godless is growing stronger. Night terrors have turned murderous and things grow worse as Nemidahl approaches.
  • The leader of the Shade, Danae, is a dragon in disguise.
  • There will be no truce with Darakor, and Mokiir will find itself at war with all the other nations of the west.
  • Beaten, the Kaz’Kazzar will bend a knee to Ren’Raatha of Darakor, who will be the new Kaz’Kazzar.
  • The Astrologer’s Guild has been abolished by the Guild Counsel at the insistence of the Shepherds
  • Giants plague the hills and mountains around Arkassin.
  • The orcs of Maelechar have departed, en masse, to the north, leaving their dark homeland empty and unguarded.
  • In the fell wastes of Maelechar, a group of heroes have prevented a dark cataclysm in the cursed orcish city of Ur Ta Shaal.
  • The ancient primordials stir in their slumber and will soon awaken to make war on the gods.
  • The City of D’kath is enchanted by the Mages’ Guild to appear in different locations from month to month.
  • The City of D’kath is protected by the god Tulvar. Those without faith cannot find it.
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Session 33 (Season 2, Session 1) (Penilan 10, 102 RA)
The Defeat of Red Hands

Penilan 10: Pre-Dawn swords05.jpg

Winter’s chill gripped the sewers beneath M’ziir, and the party could see their breath puffing from their mouths as they chased Divinter Red Hands through the winding maze of tunnels, pipes, and fetid water. The former gladiator had fled the scene of the raid, but not before Sardis spotted him and Pendred called for his companions to pursue.

Fortunately, the raid itself had come off flawlessly. The joint effort of the Graubergh hacholu, the Shepherds, the City Watch, the Shade, and a handfull of aprentices from the Mage’s College had paid off. The last straggling vestiges of M’ziir’s Thieve’s Guild had been caught utterly by surprise, and their leader, Ralaban the Gray, had been killed in the initial assault. It seemed likely that the M’ziir chapter of the Guild was finished, if they could only stop Divinter from escaping.

It wasn’t easy. Divinter was fast, and had spent ore time in the sewers under the City than all of the party together, and the son-of-a-troll was fast. Still, Sardis and, somewhat surprisingly, Kalyx, were able to keep up with him, while the rest of the party followed, seeking shortcuts where they could, lead by Ink’s eidetic memory.

Sardis and Kalyx caught up to Devinter just as he dropped out of sight into a great midden pit set below the sewer’s walkways in a large side room. As they advanced towards where his light disappeared into the pit, a strange, alluring purple light appeared above the pit, tugging at Kalyx’s mind invitingly…

And, as the rest of the party approached the room, a great, bloated, tumorous mound of flesh rose from the midden, belching rank odor from it’s toothy barn-door of a mouth, and lashing about it with massive twenty-foot tentacles. An otyugh grown huge and mutated by the strange powers behind the Ix’iil.

For a few seconds things looked grim. The otyugh’s tentacles plucked heroes out of the air mid-leap, and it’s diseased maw nearly devoured Pendred in a single bite. Meanwhile, the Red Hands, clearly allied with (if not truly in control of) the monster skirted the edges of the fight demonstrating how he’d earned his appellation.

But the heroes won out.. Some definitely not at all accidental magical teleportation by Kalyx disoriented their foes and Ink rendered the monstrous otyugh impotent through illusion. T Without his foul pet as support, Divinter went down with relative ease.

Once the battle was ended, Pendred set his followers to guard Divinter before healing him so that he could be questioned.

Divinter was much more willing to talk than anyone expected. At least, he claimed to be when he thought he might be set free in return. Once Pendred clarified that the bargain was for his life only, not his freedom, the Guild Enforcer became somewhat tighter lipped, refusing to reveal information that, he claimed, would render his captivity or death equally horrible. It was clear that he feared his masters more than he feared the end of life.

Still, after some discussion, the party did learn some things before Pendred summarily executed the Red Hands by the simple expedient of decapitation.

Among the more worthwhile bits of information—deemed truthful by Ink, whose face took on a decidedly creepy appearance as he judged Divinter’s honesty through some ritual—was the following:

  • The locations of the Thieves’ Guild headquarters in each of the other six Cities of Mokiir.
  • Confirmation that the powers behind the Ix’iil seek power and control over the people of Mokiir
  • Suspicious dodging around the issue of the Blood King and his background and goals
  • A warning to beware of Akra, reminding the party of how often the black dragonborn had been touched by the tentacles of the Ix’iil.
  • The church of Subher is closely connected to the church of Tulvar, and is helping keep the followers of Khalipanofax from gaining a foothold in Mokiir. And the Thieves’ Guild and Ix’iil are fine with that. Nobody likes the Jade Queen.

After his death the party looted Divinter’s body, finding some magical handwraps, some valuables, an interesting magic ring and, to their great dismay, one of the seven Cursed Daggers of Ix’iil that they had learned about when they’d slain The Hand at Wetstone a year-and-a-half previously. Ink, Pendred, and Sardis all clearly remembered that Amanda had delivered The Hand’s dagger to the druids of Aven for safekeeping. They also remembered how upset the druids had been at being given the task, though they had not declined. Nobody could tell for certain whether this was the same or a different dagger, but Ink suspected ze could find out given time to perform the appropriate ritual.

The only other thing of note in the otyugh’s chamber, clearly a latrine midden for some structure far above, was a tiefling corpse floating slowly downstream towards the lake. A little investigation revealed a pair of magical gloves, and the identity of the deceased. He had been Avel’Emaz Az’Dazuur. Before he’d died, Divinter freely admitted that he’d brought Avel’Emaz, son of a minor noble house, to the otyugh to be disposed of after the young tiefling had been disrespectful to the Guild. It was, Divinter said, an object lesson.

It was unclear if, after Divinter was killed, the party would immediately return to the site of the raid, or linger in the otyugh’s chamber to let Ink conduct macabre rituals on the dead and the dagger.

NEWS AND RUMORS
The word in the streets and taverns is…

  • The Kaz’Kazzar wears a glowing ruby diadem on his brow that allows him to influence the minds of those around him.
  • The Kaz’Kazzar will arrive in M’ziir soon to prepare for the negotiations to begin at the new year.
  • The wizards of M’ziir’s Mages’ College are recruiting M’ziiran youth to the service of the eladrin
  • High Mage Tallis Edratha has secret and terrible connections to the cursed city of Old Cormorell.
  • The Thieve’s Guilds throughout M’ziir have been infiltrated by a dark menace from the Shadowfell and seek to control all of Mokiir.
  • Akra, the Shade’s deadliest enforcer, is secretly an agent of the Thieve’s Guild working to undermine the security of M’ziir and the Pale Quarter
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of Subher, god of assassins and thieves.
  • The Blood King Isra’Asiel Az’Aziil is secretly a worshiper of a dark menace from the shadowfell seeking to rule and control Mokiir
  • The Church of Tulvar is a front for the Cult of Subher
  • The nobles of the Duzuur bloodline are secretly connected to the Thieves’ Guild.
  • Divinter Red Hands, former gladiator and slave, was killed in a raid by the Shepherds and Shade against the M’ziiran Thieves’ Guild
  • The Blood King is able to see, hear, and even appear anywhere in Mokiir at will. He knows when anyone speaks his name.
  • The cult of the dead god Khalipanofax is seeking to find a foothold in Mokiir.
  • The towns and farms around D’kath are being harried by wyverns much more than is usual for this time of year.
  • The Grauberg orcs have wiped out the goblinoids in the hills outside M’ziir.
  • The cursed ruin of Fort Pendred has been reclaimed by the Pale Magistrate, who is rebuilding it in honor of his strange southern gods.
  • The Shade employs a powerful wizard who can see your lies and the stains on your soul, passing judgment on any who run afoul of the Shade’s justice.
  • The touch of the Shadowfell on the dreams of the godless is growing stronger. Night terrors have turned murderous and things grow worse as Nemidahl approaches.
  • The leader of the Shade, Danae, is a dragon in disguise.
  • There will be no truce with Darakor, and Mokiir will find itself at war with all the other nations of the west.
  • Beaten, the Kaz’Kazzar will bend a knee to Ren’Raatha of Darakor, who will be the new Kaz’Kazzar.
  • The Astrologer’s Guild has been abolished by the Guild Counsel at the insistence of the Shepherds
  • Giants plague the hills and mountains around Arkassin.
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Session 32 (Tulvan 4 & 5, 101 RA)
The Tower

the-tower.jpg Tulvan 4: Just Before Midnight — In Ganitipantuperan, The Feywild

Bangizi told the party to be careful, not to stare, and enjoy themselves. They agreed to meet back at their point of ingress in an hour. Bangizi said that would leave enough time. With that, they spread out into the stalls, markets, and chaos of the Great Plaza of Ganitipantuperan.

Kaijo and Akra followed Bangizi to a gnomish salon where they could have their scales alchemically dyed the metalic colors more common among dragonborn. Sardis went looking for weapons dealers, eventually finding a friendly and persuasive gnome artificer who specialized in objects of violence. Ink and Thala set out together looking for, and finding, magical components, scrolls, and various items of interest throughout the Plaza.

It was…entertaining. For a brief time, they got caught up in the joyful bustle of gnomish commerce and industry, and were able to forget that they were about to attempt to sneak into the King’s palace and assassinate one of his most valued advisers.

But the illusion did not last long. Soon enough they found themselves climbing through dim tunnels, up and down random-seeming ladders, and into back corridors and caverns until, passing several curious-but-silent gnomish guards, they reached a small, unpresuming chamber with a worn, flat depression at it’s center.

Bangizi had brought Varagindosoli, an apprentice Explorationer, to manage the rope. Before they began their descent into the Palace of Ur, he reviewed their plan and the precautions necessary when crossing between worlds. They must, he insisted, go quickly, without pausing between each party member. He made sure they knew how to reach the ground-floor latrine where he would be waiting to guide them out. Assuring him that they understood, the party helped Thala perfect her magical disguise as Mazzegur, then one immediately after another, fairly flung themselves down the rope and into the Palace of Ur.

Mostly, they made it down okay, except Thala, who fell flat on her ass, and Sardis, who landed in a clatter on top of a weapons rack. Fortunately, the hour was late and the clatter went unnoticed.

Tulvan 4: Just Before Midnight – Palace of Ur

Bangizi trotted off, invisible and silent. The rest straightened their tabbards and fell into step behind Thala, who looked so perfectly like Mazzegur that even her friends had to remind themselves she was not the astrologer.

It was surprisingly easy to move unnoticed through the palace. They kept to high-security, low-traffic areas, adied by Bangizi’s map. They managed to minimize contact with guard patrols, and those they saw didn’t seem to see any reason to question Mazzeguur.

As they drew near the Royal apartments, the magically sensitive among them became aware of a strange, lingering energy that felt like the smell of brimstone and cast an oppressive pall over the party’s already tense mood.

They all braced themselves for disaster when, just as they turned a corner to leave the corridors near the King’s suite, the voice of King Thuz’Imil called out to Mazzeguur from behind them.

Thala considered walking on, but, at Kaijo’s silent urging, stopped, and turned to face the Vassal King of M’ziir, who approached with a smug grin on his face, four of his personal guard at his rear, and a simpering Ran’Imil on his arm.

The King was in a surprisingly good mood; like the dire lion who ate the fairy. He questioned Thala as to why Mazzeguur wasn’t with Martesse in the Astrologer’s tower. Wasn’t he late for their mysterious midnight rites? Thala answered, in a passable Mazzeguur voice, that they were in a hurry for just that reason. The king scoffed and sneered, and ordered Thala to inform Martesse that he would not, after all, need to see her after the nightly ritual, or, he intimated, possibly ever again. With that, Thuz’Imil lead his entourage on, with only Ran’Imil sparing an unreadable glance back in the party’s direction. The party resumed both their breathing and their trip through the corridors of the Palace.

Skillfully avoiding more palace patrols, the party was a few yards from the door to the Astrologer’s tower when, around the corner from an adjoining hallway, came Mazzeguur and two palace guards.

There was one, dead silent, frozen moment of universal confusion before, with a muffled shout, the two groups fell on each other.

The party tried to fight quietly, but despaired of stopping their opponents before an alarm was raised. That was, they despaired until they realized that the other side was also struggling to fight quietly. Before they had time to think this through, Mazzeguur attacked Thala-Mazzeguur, by grabbing hold of her and…changing clothes to match hers exactly so that nobody in the party could tell which was which. Meanwhile, the palace guards dropped their spears, drew knives, and flung themselves at the party with a sinuous agility not native to humans. Clearly, something was unusual here.

The Other Mazzeguur and his guards must have realized it too, because when Kaijo made an extremely convincing, soto-voiced appeal to what seemed to be a shared goal of assassinating Mazzeguur, the other group paused, and everyone tensely backed away.

With a strange shimmer, Other Mazzeguur’s form blurred and reformed into a nondescript human male, who abruptly seemed to recognize Kaijo, despite his dyed scales. The shapeshifting gentleman asked for confirmation that the party was there to kill the astrologers, and, receiving it, walked away, his “guards” in tow, saying that they would leave Kaijo’s crew to it, as they had “bigger fish to fry.”

Kaijo was puzzled by the idiom, but the rest of the party breathed an uneasy sigh of relief. A lack of help from Assassin Team 2 was better than being killed as part of a comedic and somewhat meta mistaken identity crisis.

Gathering themselves, they faced the door to the Astrologer’s Tower. Guessing that the magical lock would give way to Mazzeguur, Thala reached out and quietly, simply, opened it.

Tulvan 5: Just past midnight — Palace of Ur

The Tower was rife with mystical energy fairly reeking of the Shadowfell. It was not difficult for the group, with Thala’s flawless disguise, to make their way up past the magical security and past Martesse’s halfling assistant, Rana.

As they climbed the long, curving stairs towards the Astrologer’s laboratory, they could clearly hear heated words. An argument. Then a subtle shudder shaking the tower, and laying a cold sense of dread over their minds. Frantic shouting. Something above had clearly gone terribly wrong.

When Thala opened the door to the highest chamber, the party faced a large, round room with ceilings some 15 feet high and supported by four pillars set around a great 20 foot glowing circle of power embedded in the floor. Suspended between the two farthest pillars, sustained by sickly blue-purple flames, stretched an ominous vertical plane of roiling shadow—clearly a portal to the Shadowfell.

Also between the pillars stood Martesse, and someone that they hoped was the real Mazzeguur, both with their backs to the door. Martesse was clearly straining with the effort of trying to close the portal, while Mazzeguur shouted in unhelpful terror about whatever force or entity she was straining against: “It’s coming! Close it! CLOSE IT!!!”

Akra was on Mazzeguur almost before the astrologer knew they were there. He fell with barely a shout of warning to Martesse. When M’ziir’s astrologer turned to see her attackers, she sneered that they were fools. Cut her down and release “It,” she warned.

The party tried to split the difference. They attacked her while she was distracted, but Ink also attempted to aid her in closing the portal…to little effect.

Martesse summoned horrible, squelching tentacle beasts from the portal to aid her. Four of the monsters lashed around the room attacking the heroes, but were, one by one, slain outright or driven back into the portal. Slowly but surely the party wore down the astrologer until, finally, she sought to flee, using her magic, and a timely distraction by Rana (who had caught on), to reach the door and the stairway beyond.

As several of the party struggled with Martesse and Rana at the door, a great, looming shadow darkened and began exiting the portal. In a sudden flash of insight, Ink fumbled the mummified toe of Boston Loch from Ze’s pocket and, after dropping it once, kicked it through the portal. The fearsome entity beyond, which Ink claimed was Boston Loch himself, was appeased, and the portal closed.

Meanwhile, Rana had fled to the tower’s rooftop, and Martesse had teleported out the tower’s arrow slit to the palace grounds beyond. With no means of egress save the rooftop or the arrow slit, it seemed that the Astrologer would escape.

Except that Thala, still disguised as Mazzeguur, flung herself against the tiny window, and flung a ball of flame down upon the fleeing tiefling, leaving nothing but scorched and smoldering corpse. Abruptly…it was over.

Except that the alarm had been raised throughout the Palace.

As the group fled down the stairs, expecting to die attempting to fight their way through the Palace, they began to realize that the alarm was not for them. Something else had happened. It was not until later that they learned that a powerful devil had appeared inside the walls as they’d fought in the Tower. Not expecting this sort of attack, the guards and residents of the Palace were in chaos. A chaos that lent itself perfectly to escape.

As the group exited the Tower, Thala lingered and, once the rest were out the lower door, stated bluntly that she could not go with them, and closed the door, locking herself inside. This was the last any of them saw of her as, unable to open the arcane lock they instead fled the Palace with the dozens of others.

Confused, sad, and weary beyond measure, they made their way through the confusion that had gripped all of M’ziir, back to the Pale Quarter to find out what had happened.

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Session 31 (Tulvan 4, 101 RA)
A Dying Light

Tulvan 4: Afternoon

The party gathered in their magically private camp to discuss and plan the assassination of Kalaz’Ikar Az’Guzuur. Despite the plan having been discussed repeatedly, both Thala and Pony seemed mildly surprised when they learned of it. Both questioned, but neither resisted hard enough to alter the party’s possibly questionable trajectory. The wellbeing of the Pale Quarter and it’s downtrodden denizens were, argued White Kaijo, best served by murdering Kalaz’Ikar. And, in the scheme of things, what was one less spoiled tiefling compared to the hundreds who faced death, disease, and starvation if the Blood King took M’ziir by force?

So they pooled their knowledge, and Ink asked the spirits of the city, and they developed a plan.

Kalaz’Ikar was known as a lover rather than a fighter. He loved music, and carousing, and was known as a bit of a playboy. Indeed, it was his inability (or unwillingness?) to keep his dalliances with gentlemen of interest private that seemed to have created the exploitable rift between he and An’Ikar in the first place.

It was decided that the party would leave M’ziir under the pretense of investigating and patrolling the hills north of the City for goblinoid raiders. Once they got within patrol distance of Bokor Keep (House Ikar’s estate outside the City), they would use the rags and scraps gathered by Pony, and darken Kaijo with soot and mud, in the hopes that, at a distance, they might be mistaken for goblinoids themselves. They would approach the Keep, and the village of Bokor, and see what they could glean at a distance.

The journey north went surprisingly smoothly. Pony scouted ahead, and Sardis guided them. Between the two rangers, the party was able to avoid both goblinoids and the Bokoran patrols on the nearby road. Pony’s scouting, combined with the information the party already had lead to the following conclusions:

— Two factions of goblinoids had, until last night, been warring with each other in the hills around Bokor. Hostilities seemed to have ended somewhat abruptly right about the same time as the known change in the behavior of the Astrologers. The faction that had retreated from the area seemed to be the same as that which had attacked the Dead Falcon Mine a few days earlier

— A giant (likely a troll) and it’s dire wolf pets seem to have been driven out of their known lair in the quarry near Bokor within the last day or two.

— Kalaz Ikar and his party-cronies were probably in the quarry…for funsies?

— The goblinoids in the hills may well have seen the party, but probably hadn’t gotten a good enough look to identify them, and clearly weren’t interested in having a fight about it.

The party decided, based on these guesses, to skip Bokor entirely, and to approach the quarry directly.

Tulvan 4: Late Afternoon

As they approached, they heard a distant flute playing a melancholy tune in the late afternoon heat. Wanting to know the lay of the land, they sent Sardis and Pony ahead to scout while the lest lay in wait a distance off.

The bottom of the modest quarry was filled with a small lake. Around a bend in the quarry walls, the rangers could just make out a small camp; perhaps a dozen people drowsing away their hangovers through the afternoon heat. At the nearer, less precipitous end of the quarry stood two teiflings, one clearly a warrior, the other clearly an arcanist of some sort. Bizil’El and Menez’Anir, Kalaz’Ikar’s closest friends from childhood, they guessed. The two were standing on the shore of the lake, at the bottom of the gentle slope that lead down to the lake form this side. They seemed to be fishing.

Atop a small bluff thrust out towards the middle of the cliff, playing his flute, apparently calling up fish from the lake for his friends, sat Kalaz’Ikar Az’Guzuur, Lord of Bokor and husband to An’Ikar, the lady who would be queen. The rangers could not see him clearly, but he seemed peaceful, perhaps a bit sad. Maybe that was just the flute.

As they turned to leave, Pony stumbled on a rock, and was definitely, obviously, noticed by the two fishers. Sardis cursed quietly, but remained hidden. Bizil’El and Menez’Anir called Pony to come closer as they reached for their weapons and laced up bits of loose clothing and armor. They did not seem aggressive, but definitely on-guard.

To her immense credit, Pony played it off perfectly. She cast aside her gobliny rags and approached the tieflings as…well…her freewheelig, drug-dealing, charming self.

Somewhat surprisingly, the tieflings bought it. They called back to Kalaz’ikar, who laughed and suggested she be made welcome. As such, Pony stood with Kalaz’Ikar’s friends and bodyguards, entertaining them, sharing samples of her wares, and thoroughly distracting them while, many yards above and behind them, Kalaz’Ikar looked on in amusement.

Sardis had time to return to the rest of the party and tell them what was going on. The party edged closer, and it was decided that Sardis would attempt to sneak up and all the way around, to where Kalaz’Ikar sat, and murder him as silently as possible. When the inevitable alarm was raised, the rest of the group would rush in and murder the lords friends, and plant the incriminating bracers.

But everything went much more smoothly than expected.

Sardis ghosted up to the bluff without anyone noticing at all. In fact, he got right up behind his target without anyone but Pony seeing him.

When he drove his two warpicks silently through Kalaz’Ikar’s spine, through his neck, and silently drew the dead man’s body down and away into the brush, only Pony saw it. She managed to school her features as she wrapped up her negotiations with the nobles, and turned to depart, leaving them, for a few moments, none the wiser.

Once out of sight, she broke into a run. As she and Sardis reached the rest of the party, urgently whispering that the deed was done and that they needed to go, the shouts of alarm broke out behind them. Kaijo quietly called out for Page who, thankfully, was nearby. He gave the pseudodragon Thuz’Imil’s bracers and urged her to sneak them up to the murder site and leave them there.

Then the party fled southeast, back towards M’ziir.

They went as quickly as they could while still avoiding the goblins of the hills. They were, Pony was quite sure, spotted, perhaps enough to be generally identified, but there wasn’t much for it. None of the group wanted to be caught by Kalaz’Ikar’s friends, or the other Ikar hunters once word reached Bokor.

They made it back to the Pale Quarter without incident. Pony arrived, purposefully, a little after, and from a different direction than the rest of them. She, at least, was definitely going to be associated with Kalaz’Ikar’s death, and they wanted no more sense of connection between her and the rest of the party than was already the case.

As they caught their breath and prepared to meet Bangizi at the “Poop Tubes,” Pony quietly told them that she was going to leave M’ziir for a while. Ostensibly it was because she wanted to create space to help prevent the group from being associated with the assassination. They could all tell, however, that the elf was troubled by Kalaz’Ikar’s death. Still, Pony had never been a member of the Shade, and nobody had expected her to stay involved even as long as she had. With minimal fanfare, the wandering peddler departed, leaving Thala as the lonely voice of discomfort with the goings on.

Tulvan 4: Nightfall

About and hour after nightfall, the party met Bangizi at the sewer outlet at the northern edge of The Muck. The explorationer was disguised as a halfling beggar, and had brought sufficient Palace Guard tabbards to disguise all of the party. He seemed happy to see them, but got down to business quickly.

As they entered the sewers, the cautioned them to step where he told them, to be quiet, and to follow his instructions without question. They agreed.

The trip through the sewers was predictably unpleasant. The wizards cleaned everyone up early and often, but the stench and the filth was oppressive nonetheless. Several times they had to squeeze and crawl through unmentionably gross spaces (through which Bangizi merely crouched), and at one point, they all hid, somewhat horrified, as some large, slimy, tentacled worm-beast squelched it’s way down a nearby tunnel.

Eventually, sections of sewer started appearing as hewn or natural caves, and the light levels increased to the teltale ubiquitous twilight of the Feywild. As the shift happened, gradually, they found themselves more and more in large, dry passages, sometimes with strange, twisted-yet-beautiful architecture that Ink identified as fomorian. Soon enough, Bangizi lead them to a surprisingly broad spiral stair that lead up to a large, well-lit, subterranean plaza.

The plaza itself was multi-tiered, seemingly several levels broken up by random-seeming gaps and haphazard pillars and stairs between levels, all built within what must have once been a much larger chamber. Each level was only about 8 feet high, and the barely-contained chaos spoke clearly of gnomish construction. Throughout the plaza(s) bustled all manner of gnome-friendly denizens of the feywild, many seemingly engaged in trade at shops or stalls, with eladrin conspicuously absent.

The party stopped and tried not to stare. Bangizi grinned, sketched a bow, and welcomed the party to the Great Square of Ganitipantuperan!

Information From the Map of the Palace
- Quarters/Rooms/Suites for all significant residents and guests
- General guard deployment
- General guard patrol timing and info
- Notes that the Palace Guard has recently been doubled in size, with a lot of new faces and new races. This is why you guys might be able to get away with acting like guards just by wearing tabards. Though, you will still need to put Kaijo in black face (or similar).
- Notes that King Thuz’Imil has been at odds with Martesse, his astrologer, for at least a few days.
- Notes that King Thuz’Imil has been consulting a lot with members of the Beziin Az’Neph, or Keepers of the Blood, which is basically an order of mystic genealogists…
- Notes that Mazzegur (Lady Sheraz’Aal’s astrologer) is living near the Lady’s “guest” suite, but that Mazzegur goes, every night around midnight, to spend several hours in the Astrologer’s Tower with Martesse.
- Martesse lives somewhere in the Astrologer’s Tower.
- The Explorationers have never made it very far inside the Astrologer’s Tower. The entry to the Tower is magically locked (Arcane Lock ritual), and there are no guards posed outside. The Explorationers have peeked and noted enough to be certain that the tower has three levels. The lowest is a receiving and meeting area, the middle seems to be Martesse’s quarters, and the top is the astrolger’s Laboratory. The Laboratory has rooftop access. On the roof, and in the workshop, there are Starglasses (read: telescopes).
- The King’s residence is under constant, heavy guard and on serious lockdown both magically and mechanically.
- The portal through which you guys will enter the Palace is in a ceiling of a “Fightdance Room,” which seems like some sort of training/practice room. It’s about a 20 foot drop to the floor of the room. No ladders or ropes are recommended, but Bangizi understands that you guys probably can’t make the fall. He’s offered to bring one of his Explorationer Apprentices along to lower and then retract a rope, if that will be helpful.
- The portal through which you guys will probably have to leave the Palace is through a latrine, which will be a tight fit for the dragonborn and Sardis.

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Session 30 (Tulvan 4, 101 RA)
Preparation

Tulvan 4: Just After Midnight

They pulled The Hand’s body inside Tanner’s home. When the Mules, led by Danae, showed up at Wetstone moments later, the party kept it simple by telling them that unknown assailants had slain Tanner, and that they would be sought out and punished. Or something like that. People seemed to buy it, though Danae seemed suspicious. Kaijo announced that a funeral would be held for Tanner in the Boneyard in the morning, and the crowd more-or-less disbursed. It was apparent that the Palers who’s homes and camps sat on Old Warwick were less than pleased at the loss of the neighborhood hero.

The party set about looting the bodies, and Tanner’s house. They found various dwarven artifacts that they decided to bury with the dwarf. His money and gems, they took, figuring such things would do him no good in the halls of Mother Mariduer. From Radyran and the Hand, they took several healing potions and a dagger, clearly enchanted, with a hilt, grip, and pommel sculpted to look like twisted tentacles. When seen sidelong, the tentacles seemed to writhe. Nobody thought for a moment that it was anything but bad news, and it was given to Thala to keep safe until further study could be made.

They examined the Hand’s corpse more closely than most. Where they expected to find an Ix’ill brand, they instead found a faint, long scar on the inside of her forearm. Cutting it open, Pony and Ink withdrew a truly unpleasant…stringy, twisted, tendony tentacle…cluster? It was gross. It was clearly something that had been somehow implanted into The Hand, and, like the dagger, bore further study.

Weary in every way, the party returned to their camp to get some rest.

Tulvan 4: Early Morning

First thing the next morning, Tanner was laid to rest. An lot of the Pale showed up, and many of them glanced or glared with hostility at the group while Ezra said words as close to dwarven tradition as any there seemed able. Billcoch Stonewall, added some surprisingly somber (and sober) words as well. When the crowd began disbursing, the party briefly explained to Ezra an Amanda what had actually happened at Wetstone. Both Keepers seemed relatively unsurprised to hear of the depths of the Hand’s betrayal, but agreed to watch for signs of further infiltration as the last handful of proper Shade members were integrated with the Mules.

Thala and Ink then sat down with the cursed Ix’iil dagger and the gross Ix’iil…implant? To work a ritual that might tell them more of the objects’ origins and nature.

The investigation of both objects took a substantial toll on Ink. The strain showed on ze’s face, and more of the strange, inky beetle-images ran across ze’s features as ze whimpered and groaned through the rituals. By the end of each, ze seemed certain of the following:

The Hand had received both the implant and the dagger from Ralaban the Grey, the human leader of M’ziir’s Thieves’ Guild. It was not clear where Ralaban had gotten either object, but Ink could tell that the dagger was special, powerful, and one of only seven made by who or whatever guided the hand of the Ix’iil. The wizards burnt the implant after the ritual was done. It probably didn’t actually scream as it burned.

The party agreed that the dagger was too dangerous to keep around. They wrapped it kn several layers of sackcloth and leather, and gave it to Amanda. They asked the former Keeper to take the filthy thing to the druid Zaxorii in Aven. They were told to ask Zaxorii to give the dagger to Goord, who, they knew, considered the Ix’iil a hated plague. At the same time, they tasked Ezra with walking the Pale Quarter to try and ease tensions between the Mules and the mercenaries from L’Ekar.

Tulvan 4: Morning

After that, Thala went back to the Grey Manse to gather some supplies.

Sardis went over to the sewer outlets to check on his pube-trap. Sure enough, he was pretty sure that someone(s), likely the Hand and Radyran, had passed through that outlet just last night. The Ix’iil clearly used the sewers to get in and out of the city. Classic, but gross.

Pony went off into the Pale, and possibly the City proper, to look for good materials for disguising the party for their assault/infiltration of Bokor Keep, estate of House Ikar.

Meanwhile, Kaijo, Ink, and Akra met with Bangiziplitizikin to discuss the party’s immanent infiltration of the Palace of Ur. Or…perhaps now the Palace of Imil, if the King followed traditional naming conventions for tiefling nobles.

Bangizi reported, in the first place, that there had been some change in the behavior of the astrologers. It wasn’t clear exactly what, but, now that two astrologers prowled the palace, they had changed behaviors abruptly overnight, speaking differently and with different people, or so it seemed.

Beyond that, he provided the group with a hand-drawn, but reasonably detailed map of the Palace that showed troop positions and patrols; the living quarters of significant persons; and some notes on magical security. It was not, the explorationer cautioned, perfect or exact, but it was one hell of an advantage to have when infiltrating a large, unfamiliar structure.

Bangizi agreed to meet the group by the “poop tubes” around nightfall. He said he could lead them through the sewers into Ganitipantuperan, and then into the Palace of M’ziir through a planar breach above the Castle of King Bevinigiangapilatini. Bangizi also agreed to do his best to gather palace guard tabards for as many in the party as he could, though, looking doubtfully at Kaijo and Akra, he said he could not promise to find six in appropriate sizes.

Thus, they had a plan for a busy, busy day and night.

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Session 29 (Tulvan 3rd - 4th, 101 RA)
An Entirely Predictable Trap

Tulvan 3: Late Afternoon

After receiving the note from “Glass,” the party split up to attend to tasks around the Pale Quarter. Ink stayed behind to work on books and logistics for the Mules. White Kaijo met with Captain Chur’Aal to discuss matters of strategy. Thala set about traveling around the Pale Quarter using her magicks to see that there was ample potable water.

Pony and Akra wandered the Quarter running a traditional Good-Cop/Bad-Cop routine, reestablishing some of the Shade’s credibility in terms of their traditional protection services and fees.

Meanwhile, Sardis went to The Wall in search of some hypothetical ingress to the City proper from the Pale Quarter other than through The Gap. After some time, and some observation, he came to believe that the Ix’iil had been using one of the sewer outlets that gave the Muck it’s name. To confirm his suspicions, he patiently braided a length of twine using pubic hairs from the outflowing sewage, and strung it across the pipe so as to break if anyone crawled through.

As twilight fell, everyone in the party heard gongs ringing out from the City proper, declaring the marriage of Ran’Imil Az’Guzuur to King Thuz’Ur, who would, now be known as king Thuz’Imil Az’Guzuur, in the tiefling tradition.

The party made their way back to the central Mule camp shortly some hours after full dark fell, expecting to share a meal and discuss their midnight meeting with Glass at Wetstone. Instead, shortly after the gongs rang the end of the evening watch (read: around 9pm), their planning was interrupted by the sounds of war horns sounding away to the east of M’ziir.

It took only a little discussion to ascertain that the horns were those of approaching friends rather than invaders. Lady Sheraz’Aal, then, leading her forces out of L’Ekar to join the forces of M’ziir and her liege lord, King Thuz’Imil. Probably.

Less than an hour later, the force, perhaps 700 strong, including some 200 light cavalry, marched around to approach the Pale Quarter from the west, not far from the Grey Manse. Captain Chur’Aal beckoned to the party to accompany him, along with Danae and Divinter, to meet the four leaders of the L’Ekaran forces.

Botro, Lady Sheraz’Aal’s hobgoblin bodyguard, clearly in command of L’Ekar’s forces, strode forward ahead of his three lieutenants: Billcoch Stonewall, the bluff and bellicose dwarven man already familiar to most of the party; Fanderall Stonestep, a peculiarly bulky male elf clad in full-plate armor; and Katalina Tenstrokes, the provocative human woman who had been among those the party had encountered on their return from Fort Pendred.

As the group approached, Thala noted aloud that Fanderall was known to her as the leadder of a mercenary company called the Fanderian Cavalry, while Katalina was known as the captain of the Lightning Corps, a company of skilled light infantry for hire.

Chur’Aal, greeting Botro with insults and derision enough to make everyone there, except Botro, cringe. Billcoch was delighted to see Kaijo and Akra in particular, and explained that he’d been given command of the L’Ekaran irregulars and conscripts. Introductions were made all around.

As Thala blatantly took to creep-flirting with Fanderall, the others discussed the disposition of L’Ekar’s forces.

Botro told them that Lady Sheraz’Aal, and her astrologer, Mazzegur, had been “invited” to stay at the palace, while Botro had been instructed to join his forces to the Mules under Chur’Aal. As Chur’Aal lorded it over Botro, the hobgoblin gritted his teeth and explained that they’d also brought several carts of food and supplies with them, significantly more than would be needed by the L’Ekaran forces alone, assuming the battle for the City didn’t last more than a day or two. Nobody expected it to.

Chur’Aal, seemingly bored, ordered Kaijo and the rest of the party to help Botro’s forces get settled in and the supplies stored, making sure to add that Kaijo should demean Botro at every opportunity. As he, Danae, and Divinter walked away, Kaijo insulted Botro, following quickly with an apology once Chur’Aal was out of earshot. It seemed obvious that Botro understood, and that everyone there thought Chur’Aal quite the tool.

The next few hours were spent integrating the new forces into the Mule camp and around the Pale Quarter. Nobody was happy about it, but the mercenaries seemed stoic, and the irregulars not much less resigned than the Mules and remaining Palers. Billcoch just wanted a drink.

The job was barely done (indeed, Ink stayed behind to help finish up), when the time came to go to Wetstone.

Tulvan 4: Midnight

Old Warwick around Wetstone was quite crowded these days with the addition of those who had dwelt west of where the Bulwark now stood. Adding a handful of L’Ekaran troops to that had made things even worse. But, by midnight, most of the Pale had settled down for the night.

When the party reached Wetstone, Tanner was outside stacking and sorting rocks in the dim light of a few torches. He nodded a greeting and suggested that Kaijo come inside to talk while the rest “had a look at the materials” out in the yard. They did as he suggested, though Sardis decided he’d better have a quick look around the outside of Wetstone’s low wall.

Tanner let Kaijo enter his windowless house first. Kaijo, not really all that surprised, quickly noted that Glass was not there, but not quite quickly enough to avoid the ambush entirely. Before he had time do do more than defend hiself, the Hand appeared in a shadowy corner of the dimly-lit room and attacked. To Kaijo’s horror, Tanner, always a stalwart friend of the Shade, began barring the doors to prevent Kaijo’s escape.

Outside, Sardis’ patrol of the wall revealed two goblin archers, hidden and poised to strike. Sardis raised the alarm in time to keep his companions from being caught unaware, even as Radyran, apparently in league with the Hand,

The fight outside the walls was almost enough to keep the party from rushing to Kaijo’s aid. Meanwhile, Kaijo, trapped in a room with an immovable dwarf and an unstoppable assassin was hard pressed just to stay alive. Fortunately, his instincts kicked in and he was able to force open one of the doors to Tanners home, allowing his friends to come to his aid.

In the end, one of the goblins escaped, running off to report to, presumably, his Ix’iil masters. Radyran was slain in the rubble of Tanner’s yard.

It was not until Tanner had been felled that the party realized that he had been possessed by the Ix’iil, as one of the semi-corporeal tentacled spirit-orbs that they’d driven from so may other victims ghosted from his body to make a last desperate attempt to help the Hand escape.

Which she nearly did. Though Kaijo kept his life by a hairs-breadth, the party managed to trap the hand inside Tanner’s home (which quite nearly burned-down), bleeding from many wounds. In a last desperate attempt, the assassin cloaked herself in whatever strange magics fueled her powers and leaped desperately out the door opened momentarily by the Ix’iil spirit as it’s dying action.

Invisible, but slowed by injuries and magical chill, the Hand quite nearly disappeared into the night.

But then quite nearly careened into Sardis, who had stalked all the way around the outside of Wetstone chasing the goblins. Sardis shot an arrow point-blank into the Hand’s thigh, stopping her cold, if not, quite, dead.

Her last words were a snarled warning that the party would never survive the days to come, spoken in the moments before she opened her own bowels in a ritual suicide all too familiar to Kaijo.

The party had mere moments to orient and collude on a story before the crowd of Palers and Mules, Danae and Divinter leading them, closed around Wetstone, demanding an explanation.

Just before people started showing up to investigate the ruckus, Page the pseudodragon appeared, with a note and looking…chagrined? The party could not read the note until later, as it was written in that peculiar tiny-handed supernal script. Once they handed it over to Ink a while later, they could read that it said: “It’s a trap! The Hand & Radyran!”

(Everyone should get an extra 150Xp)

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