Thursday, July 30, 2009

Episode IX: The Case of Edward Caerleon (Junar 26-27)

On the morning of Junar 26, Emeris the shadowcaster, Early the fighter, Dziga the rogue, and Aelric the favored soul of Vazdah, continue their investigations. They spread out throughout the city and try to gather information on the eastern woman, Shilukar, and other adventure hooks. For the eastern woman, they discover only that she was looking to acquire a pair of magical oriental sidearms in the Adventurer’s Square, but they cannot find where to find her nor can they learn anything else.

Dziga goes looking for a good source of information on alchemy, hoping to learn about brewing potent yet inexpensive poisons. He is referred to the sage SAHARASAHLA’s private book collection. It seems the old sage is a strange man who does not leave his small library. He lends out his books in exchange for minor services. He asks Dziga to visit Mahdoth’s Arcane Asylum, a private facility where insane spellcasters are treated and speak with a man named EDWARD CAERLEON. The sage wants Dziga to listen to Caerleon’s story and relay the information to him.

On the hunt for Shilukar, the characters explore the shadiest part of town – the Warrens, surely the only place on the city's surface that a dark elf might be able to hang out. After some careful information gathering, they learn that MADAME KAETHA, an elf woman who runs a lower class whorehouse, might actually be a dark elf in disguise. Emeris uses the services of an elven prostitute named KIRII, and he talks his way into a meeting with Kaetha. She all but confirms she is a dark elf, and she tells them that Shilukar was too deceitful and scheming even for his fellow dark elves. Formerly from House Vrama, he is known to have betrayed and manipulated every drow noble house that he crossed.

Early uses the opportunity of visiting the Warrens to visit the rogue Mervin and get revenge for his previous defeat. Early and his comrades defeat Mervin and his thugs Bob and Joe in a bloody fight on the narrow streets. The characters seem morally disturbed when Emeris kills the helpless Bob as he crawls away.

The next day the characters are summoned to Castle Shard. On the way there they see city guards posting wanted posters for a child murderer named Oliver. Lord Zavere offers them letters of credit in exchange for the information about Shilukar. He says Rill is working on breaking down the enchantment on Lord Abbercrombe. Early and Itumar head down to the beach to help the younger man get combat skills. Itumar mentions that one of the armory's regular customers mentioned he had an unopenable chest as well. Early meanwhile begins his own form of special training, by reading a tome on martial lore he’d obtained from an eastern weapon master during his time in West Pyrna. This is the Book of Nine Swords, from which Early learns to utilize the power of the Vajra to supplement his fighting. Early also visits the Temple of Vexander, a god of technology. He speaks with a priest there named GATTRA about the prospects of designing a new type of pistol.

Dziga and Early go to visit Caerleon at the asylum. He has strange growths on his chest. He claims he killed his best friend but he is not a murderer. He tells of his background as a young, talented wizard, and his best friend RICHARD DERBY, and his cousin ANAMETHE. Derby wed his cousin, and he saw little of them for the next two years. Derby then visits Caerleon and tells him that Anamethe’s father EPHRAIM, a shipping entrepreneur rumoured to have been an alchemist, may not actually be dead. Over the next few months Derby’s sanity deteriorates, he says that Anamethe is using his body for evil deeds. A few weeks later he says he has stopped Anamethe. Then one night his insanity is too much; Caerleon drugs him and takes him to the Darkbirth Madhouse, where he seems to recover but his personality has completely changed. Later, Edward he is visited by a fetid dwarf carrying a letter from Derby. The letter explains that Anamethe had tried to resurrect Ephraim but ended up getting her own body possessed by her father’s spirit. Ephraim continued his dark arts with his new body. The letter insists that Caerleon go to the madhouse and kill Emphraim in Derby's body before he can find the 751st page of the Book of Inverted Shadows. Caerleon does so, and finds himself committed by his doctor, PULSER, to Mahdoth’s.

On the way back to Saharasahla’s, Dziga tells Dziga tells Emeris about the dreams he has been having. They started the night after Dziga had touched the Abhoth’s statue… When Saharasahla meets Emeris, he is extremely interested in the young draconic shadowcaster. He tells Emeris that they might be able to help each other, for the sage seeks a complete version of the Book of Inverted Shadows, which would be of interest to both of them. He says that the original 751st page of the book was locked away in the Banewarrens, but it is rumoured that a perfect copy exists with the notorious missing page. It is possible Ephraim had found it, or knew where it was located. Saharasahla tells Emeris to go investigate Derby’s old house, and that while they are gone he will look into where they might find one of Neveran’s allkeys to open the unopenable chest.

That night the company vists Derby’s old house in the Rivergate district. There they meet Doctor Pulser, the old Caerleon family doctor who is investigating the origin of Caerleon’s insanity and strange physiological changes. Emeris manipulates Pulser into leaving the house, which is now owned by someone named SIR GRIMLOCK, and they explore. In the basement they find a series of hidden rooms behind Derby’s “renovations” and Anamethe’s rotting corpse. They find an incomplete copy of the Book of Inverted Shadows, however it is missing the 751st page. Hidden inside the book they find a weird key made of a shadowy metal substance.

Unfortunately, before they can leave, they are assailed by a creature out of nightmares – a chaos beast. As it emerges from a crack in the wall its attack causes Aelric’s bodily structure to discorporate. The company slays the horrible monster and look in horror as Aelrich’s soul struggles to maintain the integrity of his material form...

Next: The eastern woman is found at last, and the Darkwater smugglers are changed forever!

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